Title: Phoenix Fire
Pairing: C/P (predominantly)
Chapter Six (6/?)
Summary: Still at Deep Space Nine. Tom wakes. Chakotay and the rest of the Voyager crew continue to wait.
Silence is golden
Is there any good in saying everything?
--- Basho, Learn From The Pine
He dreamed that he was walking in a snow-covered field. As he moved, he found that the snow was getting thicker and thicker, until he was waist-deep in white ice. But for some strange reason, he kept on walking, forcing himself across the white plain. It was a slow and hard process.
Yet, he still walked.
He dreamed that he was standing in the middle of a plateau and oddly enough, imposing granite cliffs surrounded the plateau. It was a bizarre dream for he felt as if he was being enveloped by a great silence. All around him were people he knew: his father, Chakotay and a faceless man. They were speaking to him; their mouths were moving in unison. But he couldn't hear them.
Then, soft white light greeted him and he was opening his eyes, seeing only Julian Bashir's face.
He tried to go back to sleep. It was still a dream. He was on Voyager and Julian was home millions of miles away from the Delta Quadrant.
The anxious face moved and Julian blinked, moving a beeping tricorder across his face. And Tom knew that it wasn't a dream.
He gasped, trying to sit up.
"Take it easy, Tom."
"I…want to see…Chakotay!"
He didn't know what he was mumbling about. Only a great aching need in him that refused to go away.
"Chakotay? You mean Commander Chakotay?" Julian asked, interest in his dark eyes.
The shreds of irrationality began to slip away from Tom's consciousness. His surroundings took on a more concrete appearance, solidifying into the medical equipment, the consoles and the figures of the medical personnel. Julian's face began to look more real, more tangible.
Chakotay. Harry. Captain Janeway.
Tom groaned, still feeling the effects of the hypospray. Julian quickly produced a cup of water and Tom drank deeply. The cool liquid soothed his parched throat.
He could still remember the rage within him and he could only stare at Julian with a betrayed expression.
"Look, Tom. I had no choice."
He turned away, furious. Julian's sigh was audible and the doctor walked away, only to return shortly afterwards.
"Tom. Thomas Paris, I need to turn you over to your back."
"Don't touch me!"
"Please, Tom. Don't aggravate the matter. Look, I only want to examine your back."
Tom let the nurses slowly flip him over to his front and he lay, staring into the distance. He felt humiliated. Helpless like a baby. He could feel them pulling up his shirt, hear their soft whispers and Julian's quiet instructions. Something cool was placed on his neck and his skin tingled. It disappeared for a few seconds and it came back, on the small of his back.
"There are still functioning nerves…" Julian could be heard saying.
Absurd hope sprang in Tom's chest but he quickly quashed it. It must be a ploy. Some damned ploy to sugarcoat the pill. He simply stared into the distance.
He remained silent, biding his time.
*** *** ***
"Can we speak to Captain Sisko?"
Duff's lips thinned at the question. Yet, the security officer held tightly onto his phaser rifle and resumed his deadpan expression.
Kathryn Janeway whirled away sharply on her heels and stalked back to the cluster of crewmembers. Her face was dark. She wanted to go…run back to her beloved starship. At the moment, the chances of returning to Voyager seemed minimal.
"This is getting nowhere," she muttered angrily. Tuvok only lifted his eyebrow.
Their nerves were all in shreds. Naomi stopped crying soon after Tom and Seven had left with the doctor and his multitude of medical officers. Now, the little girl rested in the warm embrace of her mother who looked grim. B'Elanna paced even more, murmuring in an obscure Klingon dialect which sounded harsh to human ears. Harry sat, immobile like a statue; his eyes were red-rimmed with exhaustion and anxiety.
Only Chakotay sat apart from the group. He had knelt down on his knees, seeking guidance. His heart was troubled. He had prayed to the spirits, pleaded for their assistance…anything to help ease his inner pain. He wanted to see Tom again. To be able to feel him, to hold him.
The room was stifling the life out of him. He could feel it, a strong force leeching away his energies. The tension made it worse. He had to get out of this prison before he could go mad.
"Chakotay? Say something!"
It was B'Elanna. She was so distressed that she had forgotten the existence of ranks. He grinned grimly to himself. Maybe in this time of crisis, ranks are only ceremonial.
"What is there to say?" Chakotay could hear himself saying.
"Tom and Seven had gone for hours!"
B'Elanna growled and kicked at the unoffending table.
"Bah." The half-Klingon woman spat and stormed away. She went back to her pacing.
Chakotay retreated back to his silence. Back to the beautiful silence that was his soul. He saw his spirit guide on a grassy knoll. The silver-pelted wolf sat on her haunches, her tongue lolling. She radiated a sense of quiet amusement. She was never worried, his spirit guide.
Good things come to people who wait with faith, she said and got to her feet. Her tail wagged slightly and she disappeared down the slope in a silver flash.
Chakotay frowned and opened his eyes. Good things come to people who wait with faith. It was cryptic as usual. Sometimes, the silver wolf could be evasive as hell. But Chakotay, like his father before him, clung onto the words.
So he would wait in this silence and somehow, somewhere, he knew that Tom was doing the same.
*** *** ***
Seven of Nine watched Captain Sisko leave the chamber with a half-smile. He couldn't answer her questions.
She examined the room. It had a console and a bio-bed. She knew enough about Voyager to recognize certain distinctive features. It was a spartan room, clinical efficiency. She nodded to herself in approval.
However, something in her stirred and she experienced a powerful wave of sadness. She thought about Harry and his honest face. She thought about Captain Kathryn Janeway. The Voyager crew.
The silence in her mind wasn't reassuring. There used to be thousands and thousands of voices whispering inside her. Now she was alone…so alone. Alone in humanity… the humanity she had once rejected.
The two ensigns didn't see the single tear rolling down on a smooth beautiful face.
*** *** ***
Two starships came out of warp in a flash of white light. One was a Sovereign-class vessel, her hull glimmering as she slid towards the space station. Her partner was smaller, an Akira-class starship.
Benjamin Sisko watched as the two Federation starships approach DS9 like two silent hunting sharks.
Jadzia Dax glanced at him. She was standing beside him.
"Captain? She asked louder, perturbed at the look on Sisko's face.
"I know," he said solemnly. "They are here."