Warning: the following story contains semi-explicit m/m sexual encounters. If you are offended by it, you are welcome to stop reading the story. If you are above 18 and is open-minded, you are free to read it.
Disclaimer: the characters in the story, though owned by Paramount, are products of my imagination and creativity. (yada yada yada)
Summary: The story is a dark sequel to "Kiss From a Rose" and "A Rose with Thorns". Here, Paris deals with the inner pain he has suppressed for years. Chakotay tries to help. A lot of pain, be warned. The story contains self-mutilation …*grabs the nearest tissue-box and fishes out a tissue* Sorry …I am getting a little emotional here …=)
Jagged Rose (or Bleeding Rose)
He was in a sunlit garden.
He was happy, sitting on the soft carpet glass and drinking in the light fragrance in the air. There were roses everywhere, bursting in glory like so many red and pink suns.
Someone was kissing his cheeks, his neck, his shoulders. Feather-soft kisses, like the brush of rose-petals on skin. He smiled up at the face, suffused with pleasure. That face, so familiar and so handsome, smiled back and claimed his lips again. He leaned back, enjoying the intimacy and the physical contact.
Joy spread through his body like a morning sun.
Suddenly, he felt the gentle lips leave. Half-dazed, he opened his eyes.
The handsome face, the one he cherished most in his life, grinned malevolently and melted … into features he had known since he was a child. Features that were hard, unforgiving.
It had cold blue eyes, like icicles. Emotionless and sharp.
Even as he stood up, on wobbly legs, the blue eyes continued to fix him with a basilik glare. Frantic, fear turning his innards into shaved ice, he looked at the sunlit garden.
And found that it wasn’t sunlit anymore.
It had taken on a nightmarish cast, the atmosphere twisted and evil. The beautiful roses were gone and in their places were bleeding hearts. Glistening human hearts, still pumping blood. As he watched in shock, the hearts trembled as if they were still alive; blood flowed in rivulets of crimson, seeped from the walls and dripped from the sky
The hearts became faces. Faces he knew. Faces of people who were already dead.
He started to scream.
The scream woke Chakotay from his deep slumber. It came from the man next to him. The Commander’s skin prickled at the sound of the scream.
It sounded like someone was dying.
He gathered his partner into his arms, rocking gently. Spirits, he’s sweating like hell and he’s pale as death!
"Shhh …." Chakotay whispered comfortingly. "Tom, it’s alright …Shhhh …"
Even in the darkness, the Native American could see the tears trailing down the pale cheeks. He leaned down and kissed them away tenderly. The body in his arms was trembling uncontrollably and he could hear soft whimpers, like a frightened child.
"Shhh …It’s only a bad dream …"
What kind of unspeakable nightmares are following you, Tom? I want to help …
The following day, Tom acted as if nothing had happened. After a quick shower and a bowl of cereal, he left early for his shift on the Bridge. He passed officers along the way, nodding and smiling to those he recognised.
He acted pretty normal.
Yet, alone in the turbolift, on his way to the Bridge, he saw them again. The roses. The bleeding hearts. The faces. His father’s stern face.
He shut his eyes, unwilling to accept their presence.
Only a damned dream, Tom!
The lift doors hissed open to reveal Voyager’s calm Bridge. Tom shook himself and regained his composure, putting on ---he hoped ---his best Tom’s Nonchalant face.
But as he strode down to the CONN, he could hear their sibilant voices.
Chakotay gazed thoughtfully at the dried yellow petals of the rose he had kept in his office. It was a token from Tom, left by the younger man after that night of lovemaking. Chakotay had kept the rose until it bloomed into a beautiful yellow blossom.
He worried for Tom.
Twirling the dessicated stem with his fingers, Chakotay sank back into his armchair. He really wanted to help the pilot, find out what was truly wrong. But Tom was always running away from him, shutting him out when he tried to probe deeper.
It was frustrating.
And immensely worrying.
Then the nightmares started. Tom never spoke about them in the mornings. But Chakotay knew …because he had woken up and listened to the terrified screams the nightmares had elicited.
Maybe B’Elanna’s right afterall. Tom will never get me close to him, even if we make love and do the customary couple things.
I am so close, yet I am so distanced from him …
With a last look at the dried rose, he placed it back into a small vase, took the pile of PADDs and headed for the Bridge.
Tom decided to go back to his quarters after ending his shift. Instead of his usual game of pool with Harry, Tom walked straight for the turbolift, rubbing his aching temples. For some strange reason, he craved a glass of real brandy.
The room was dark when he stepped in.
"Computers, lights at 80%."
He blinked as the lights came on, illuminating the furniture and the pictures in the quarters. Half of it was pure Chakotay, with Native American prints and a handcrafted arrow. The other half of the room was his: pictures of 20th century cars, models of old planes. Roses. Dried ones. He smiled to himself; Chakotay gave him a small bouquet one day, surprising him with this gesture of affection.
He strode to the replicator and ordered a glass of brandy. The glass materialized almost immediately and he took it. He sniffed. It was not real brandy but close enough. He sipped at it, relishing the warm liquor as it flowed down his throat. He finished the brandy and removed his jacket, walking languidly to the bathroom.
Stripping off the rest of the uniform and dumping them into the laundry basket, Tom heaved a soft sigh and turned on the tap, almost on reflex. He splashed water onto his face.
Looked up and saw himself reflected in the mirror.
He immediately averted his eyes, somehow unable to face that reflection.
It was his shaving razor. He reached over and lifted it from its casing. Silently, he examined the silver blade, seeing the sleek lines and the lethal shaving edge. In the same silence, he moved the razor to his right arm, observing the green veins protrude out as he clenched his fist.
Tom pressed the blade down against his skin, watching the sharp edge dig into the flesh. Blood welled out in a rush of bright red. There was biting pain. But he welcomed it.
He made another incision on his left arm, closing his eyes. The pain shut out the dream-faces, rendered them mute for a blessed short time.
The sink bore spots and splotches of blood. The cuts continued to ooze out more of his lifeforce and he watched with fascination as the red fluid dripped onto the ceramic tiles.
He quickly found the regenerator, stolen from the Sickbay. The healing took a few minutes, closing the razor-induced incisions. The regenerator stopped the bloodflow. His arms looked normal once more, except for the reddish lines which could be mistaken as skin-rash.
Tom quickly washed away the blood and wiped the sink with a piece of cloth. He threw the cloth into the basket so that Chakotay wouldn’t notice any difference in the bathroom.
He showered shortly afterwards and dressed himself in a grey long-sleeved jumper and white pants.
He waited for Chakotay to go off-duty.
"Didn’t see you at the Sandrines," Commander Chakotay began, chewing on the steamed chick-peas appreciatively.
"You went to the Sandrines?" Tom asked, trying to make his voice sound non-chalant and surprised. He sat next to his lover, a plate of vegetarian lasagne on his knees. They had replicated their dinner this time, giving Neelix’s cooking a miss for one night.
"Harry was there, playing with Ayala." Chakotay sipped his jasmine tea and smiled at his beautiful Tom. "He told me that you went straight to our quarters."
"I was feeling a little tired, " Tom grinned and he poked at the pasta with the fork.
Chakotay was quiet. He swallowed the spoonful of chick-peas and washed it down with the rest of the tea. He watched Tom finish his lasagne, suddenly noticing how silent the younger man was.
"Tom, is something bothering you?" Chakotay said gently.
"Nothing …" Blue eyes blinked at him. Shaky hand movements betrayed his nervousness.
"Tom, we’ve been through this last time. Tell me …honestly …what’s wrong?"
"I am fine okay?"
"Look, Tom baby. I want to help you. You always push me away. Constantly. But I want to help you, talk to you."
"You sound like a counsellor," Tom snorted.
"Stop it," Chakotay said firmly but kindly. "You’ve been running away from me …eversince I spoke to you about that incident. You clam up when I try talking to you. Tom, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not here for the sex. I’m here for you."
"Chak, you’re getting too mushy for my own liking …" Tom laughed, a brittle sound. He got up and took the empty dishes, slotting them into the refresher.
There was silence. Then Tom heard Chakotay sigh.
"You’d been having those nightmares right?"
Tom dropped the utensils.
"Don’t lie to me, Tom. I heard those screams." Chakotay said, a gentle gleam in his brown eyes. He bent down and picked up the utensils, throwing them into the slot. He glanced at Tom who had gone ashen grey. " Tom? "
"I heard you cry out in your sleep last night and I held you until you fell asleep," the big man gathered the pilot into his arms. He felt the man stiffen in his embrace. He stroked Tom’s face, admiring the softness of the cheeks, the shape of the lips. "You can’t always run away from your pain …"
Tom pulled away brusquely. "I am fine, Chak." His voice was flatly defensive.
"Tiger, please." Chakotay detected the retreat in Tom’s voice; he was already in the process of withdrawal.
"Stop hassling me, big man."
Tom disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Chakotay in a wake of cold air.
This time, the dream was scary
Roses, made of obsidian and onyx, lined the ground in a glittering carpet of black crystal. They cut into his bare feet. The wounds lacerating his soles bled continuously.
He limped on doggedly as the roses grew blades and jagged edges.
The voice. It was his father’s. The old man was hounding him, even in his dreams.
"Tom!" Hands grabbed his shoulders, shook him.
He cried out and fought those hands. He punched, kicked and clawed.
He came to, startled. His tank-top was soaked through with perspiration. A concerned Chakotay hovered above him.
"You fought like a wildcat," the big man said in his soft voice. He extended his right hand and caressed Tom’s cheek.
"I was bleeding in this dream, " Tom said in a distant voice, almost as if he was in a semi-trance. "Roses, black sharp ones, were cutting into my feet. Then I heard my father’s voice. I became …angry and I started fighting …" His eyes snapped back to awareness, losing the haunted look.
"Now you’re talking," Chakotay remarked and slipped off the bed, going to the drawers. He returned with a clean towel, handing it to Tom who used it to wipe his brows.
"You need to talk it out," the big man sat on the bed, making the mattress creak. "Bottling it up won’t do you any good."
Tom didn’t say anything. His lover retrieved the towel and tossed it onto the floor.
"C’mon, get up." Chakotay patted Tom’s shoulder.
"Huh?" Tom looked confused.
"I am giving you a backscrub in the shower …"
"I have a bad dream and you give me a backscrub?" Tom joked. "Sounds like a good deal." Yet he didn’t feel like laughing inside.
In the bathroom, Chakotay peeled off his lover’s soiled tank-top and boxers. Tom let the big man administer to him. He was simply too weary to even argue with Chakotay. He didn’t resist when Chakotay led him into the shower cubicle, switching on the water system.
The warm water bathed him with a delicious sensation. Tom closed his eyes, delighted with Chakotay’s skillful hands which scrubbed his shoulders and his shoulders with the fragrant bathgel they used. His hand movements were vigorous and invigorating so much so the gel transformed rapidly into froth. Tom felt his back muscles unknotting and he sighed with relief.
"Like this?" Chakotay whispered into his ears.
Tom nodded and gasped with pleasure as Chakotay washed the foam off his back with a soaked sponge. Then with the warm water still running, the big man massaged Tom’s arms with fingers pinpointing the right spots of tension and stress. Sensations of relief and sexual pleasure ran up and down Tom’s body. Chakotay must have caught the secret message because his hands became more teasing and more provocative.
The younger man felt his organ stiffen painfully and he guided Chakotay’s fingers to it, encouraging the big man to massage it, arouse it. So Chakotay did, running his hands up and down the veined shaft, caressing and stroking until Tom thought his penis would burst with the sensation of fullness.
"I told you a backscrub would relax you …" Chakotay’s voice was husky and he started to jerk the swollen organ with a slow rhythm. He repeated this same motion, increasing the pace and speed. Tom shuddered, rocking back and forth. He was gasping and groaning, desiring completion.
Unable to stand it any longer, Tom climaxed, spurting into Chakotay’s hand. He sighed and rested his head on the strong shoulders. The warm water streaming down his body was somewhat comforting.
Chakotay gently toweled his lover dry and kissed Tom on the lips.
As Tom followed his gorgeous partner out, he could see the razor resting innocently near the sink. His arms throbbed.
He shivered involuntarily and walked straight to the bedroom where Chakotay waited for him.
For a week, Tom became his old self, playing pool in the Sandrines with Harry and Ayala. He joked with Neelix, sparred (verbally) with B’Elanna and piloted Voyager in his usual brilliant fashion. The improvement in his moods cheered Chakotay. At least Tom was back to his perky self. The dreams that had terrified him had lessened by half.
But the recovery was brief. The nightmares came back with a vengeance.
The voices shrieked now, like banshees. The roses that heralded the start of another nightmare gave way to rivers of blood. In every dream, in every nightscape, he met his father. And every time, Tom either ran from the older Paris or he got hurt running. Sometimes, he tried to escape from the voices pursuing him like a pack of hungry wolves. The voices had faces of people, people whom he had known throughout his life. People whom he had recognized as his friends.
He would scream with terror and every time, Chakotay would hold him in his arms, soothing him, telling him that it was alright.
He began cutting himself more regularly now, often in the privacy of the bathroom, alone. He made the cuts deeper and more painful everytime, believing somehow the vile essence of those nightmares could be excised in this way. After his self-mutilation, he would run the regenerator along those incisions. His arms would look like a vivid criss-cross of jagged lines. Yet his long sleeves hid them from the gaze of his friends and his lover.
Chakotay commented how pale he would look. Tom laughed it away, saying that it was Chakotay’s imagination playing up.
He was perfectly fine.
Harry Kim admitted that he was secretly worried for Tom. The ensign noticed how lack-lustre Tom had become. Even his pool games were dismal ! Sure, the Lieutenant performed his CONN duties normally. Sure, he still teased Harry with those subtle jokes of his. But it seemed to the young Asian man that something was obviously amiss. He wanted to tell the captain but she was currently busy negotiating safe passage through a rough patch of space. She would be the right person to talk to, besides Commander Chakotay.
Yet Captain Janeway was either planetwards for formal functions or discussing treaty conditions in her office.
So Harry decided to do some covert mission of his own. He had given up trying to convince B’Elanna and Seven about Tom’s problem.
When Tom politely declined his offer for a pool game in the Sandrines, Harry embarked on his plan. He watched Tom disappear into the turbolift from a corner and as soon as the doors shut close, Harry ran for the next car. His heart was pounding with excitement and he could hardly keep still. I’ve got to find out the reason!
The turbolift let him off on the right deck and Harry strode immediately to Tom’s quarters. The door was closed. He pressed the door bell.
It rang unanswered.
Harry buzzed the door bell again.
"Tom? Answer the door, dammit!"
Harry experienced a sense of foreboding and his heart constricted. Something is wrong.
He repeated pressing the button.
Same thing. No response.
Okay, Harry. Here goes! He marshalled up his courage and jabbed in the code, stifling the residual guilt in his mind.
The doors slid open. The lights were on but it seemed that Tom wasn’t in at all.
Harry searched the sitting room. There was an empty glass on the coffee table. Clothes piled on the floor, Tom’s command-red uniform, his boots. He proceeded to the inner rooms. The place was really quiet. Chilly.
Wait. The bathroom light was on and Harry walked towards it. He peered in and froze.
There Tom was, laying in a pool of his own blood. His wrists were slit.
Oh God …
Harry tapped his commbadge with his right hand, tears burning in his eyes. "Harry to Sickbay. There’s an emergency in Commander Chakotay’s quarters."
Commander Chakotay rushed to Sickbay the moment he got the message from the Doctor. He felt his soul go cold.
He burst into Sickbay.
Kathryn was there, standing with her hands on her hips. So was Ensign Kim whose open genial face was downcast. The Doctor bent over an unconscious figure on the bio-bed, his expression intent.
"He lost a lot of blood, " Kathryn spoke, her grey eyes concerned. "Harry found him just in time --- Any minute later, Tom would have …" She halted, refusing to go on any further.
"What exactly happened?" Chakotay whispered, his nerves numbed by the sight of his lover. He gazed at the pallid face, drained. Tom looked so weak, so frail in his hospital shift.
"He slit his wrists," Harry said, his youthful features haggard with sorrow." I saw …the shaving razor …"
"His arms are marked with a lot of incision marks, most of them healed." The Doctor observed and glanced at Chakotay. "I am not sure about the relationship between you and Lt Paris, Commander. But surely, you should have noticed any slight discrepancy in his behaviour."
"Incision marks?" Chakotay’s innards turned to ice.
"He has been mutilating himself," Kathryn bit her lower lip. " Frankly, I am in shock now." She put a hand on her forehead.
"Tom has been having nightmares, " the big man said softly. "Spirits, they are bad …He would wake up, screaming. "
"Lt Paris’s condition has stablized now. But when he is fully recovered, he will have to undergo psychological tests." The Doctor said, scanning his tricorder readings.
" Tom’s very ill, " Kathryn’s voice was gentle. "He will have to stop his duties for a while. Chakotay, hang on in there …"
Wordlessly, the big man nodded. He didn’t know what to do, except to gaze at Tom’s face once more, feeling hopeless and terrible.
Why didn’t I know about this?