(Yes another mini epic)
Rating. SLASH, m/m NC-17
Archive: Anywhere, just let me know, please
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al are Paramount‘s (lucky devils) Angel is mine (yippee!)
In this story Tom and B‘Elanna never got together (Hooray!)
Chakotay and Paris‘s aggression was due to (you guessed it) Unresolved Sexual Tension! Chakotay had left a male lover back in the Maquis and can‘t get over the loss. Tom is completely besotted with Chakotay and is sure that the Commander is attracted to him too but can‘t get anywhere with him.
Tom Angst. Chakotay Angst.
When Kathryn told me the news, I did not even wait to acknowledge her words, I tore myself from her even as she tried to comfort me and fled my quarters at full pelt, running to Sickbay as though my presence alone would keep death at bay.
Even as I ran I knew I could have requested a site-to-site transfer but the burning anguish in me demanded action and the only way I could give rein to my emotion was to pound through the corridors, scattering startled crewmembers like dross in my wake.
It couldn‘t be true, I was screaming at myself, Not Tom, not my Tom.
The complete futility of my efforts was brought home as I burst into sickbay and found the Captain already there, no doubt warning the Doctor of my imminent arrival. She met my eyes with pity, rather than scorn at my foolishness, but as I moved forwards to the bio-bed she placed her tiny frame in front of me, planting her feet firmly as she grabbed my arms. I saw tears in her eyes as she pleaded with me to calm down.
"Please Chakotay, please. Wait a moment and listen to me. You don‘t want to see him like this. Believe me. It‘s better if you remember him as he was. Let the Doctor clean him up a little first, don‘t."
I regarded her as though she was a particularly vile insect. Was she MAD? Did she honestly think that I would keep away from Tom for even another second? Did she believe my love for Tom was not strong enough to survive his mutilation?
With complete disrespect for her concern and rank, I physically picked her up, thrust her out of my way and charged for Tom‘s side.
That‘s when I saw him.
Saw the twisted, broken, tangle of flesh and bone that had once been Tom Paris.
He was an abomination. There was no part of him that was recognisable. Even the proud cheekbones of his face had been shattered by pressure leaving a bloody swollen pulp of torn bruised skin. Even with the technological wizardry that held him in stasis, it was impossible that he was still breathing.
As my body impacted against the force field that cushioned him from infection, I collapsed to my knees and howled my lament.
I had made a terrible mistake. I should have ordered a communications blackout, given the Doctor time to at least make some cosmetic repairs, before I told Chakotay the awful news. My only excuse is that although I knew he loved Tom, I had no understanding of just how intense his feelings were.
As soon as he began his panicked, precipitous run from his quarters I realised my colossal error and transported immediately to the Sickbay.
As Chakotay burst through the doors, lunatic with grief, I tried to hold him back, hoping desperately that his innate respect for me as his Captain would give me a chance to stop his wild progress.
But he simply threw me aside like a rag doll and charged to Tom‘s side where he finally collapsed on his knees and hugging his arms to his chest began to rock in anguish. His howls of desolation echoed through the Sickbay, their heart-rending torment making my hair stand on end.
Swiftly the Doctor stepped forwards with a hypospray and my jangling nerves were soothed by the abrupt silence as Chakotay slumped to the floor unconscious.
We had no choice. The sedative that the Doctor administered will keep Chakotay under for some hours. During that time the Doctor can try to at least make Tom physically resemble a human being again.
But what if he dies before Chakotay wakes?
What if I have stolen Chakotay‘s chance to say goodbye, to say sorry?
Will the sight of a beautiful corpse be worth his unending remorse?
Will he ever forgive me for stealing his last chance to make amends?
So perhaps it was my own selfishness that made me pray desperately to
the tortured body that was once my irrepressible pilot and beg
"Hold on, Tom. Please hold on. Don‘t die yet. Please don‘t die before Chakotay wakes up!"
I should have been furious when I woke but instead I felt curiously detached and calm. It could have simply been the weight of grief that constrained me but I suspect that there was some chemical assistance in there too.
Although Kathryn and the Doctor watched me warily, they made no protest as I swung my legs off the bed they had placed me on and stood up. I swayed a little with dizziness for a moment before I found my balance and turned to look at Tom. Even from where I was standing I could see the control lights of the bio-bed flickering.
He was still alive!
I walked forwards, slowly and cautiously this time, until I could see under the hood.
It was Tom. Still battered and bruised but unmistakably him this time. The bones of his skull had been knitted together to support his face. The swollen flesh had reduced somewhat and the black bruises were faded to greenish-yellow.
"How long?" I rasped
"Eight hours" Kathryn replied softly, coming forwards to stroke my shoulder in sympathy. "When we realised that the artificial lungs were working I decided to keep you asleep until the Doctor had a chance to repair some of the damage."
"You said that he couldn‘t survive, that he would die!" I accused bitterly
"He did" the Doctor answered, "His heart has stopped five times.
Fortunately I am programmed with numerous techniques for resuscitation."
For a moment I was tempted to strike him for his smug pride, as though Tom‘s accident was no more than a new opportunity to him to show off but his next words were more humble.
"Of course, it is only Mr. Paris‘s own will that make my efforts possible. He is showing an exceptional desire to survive."
"Will he?" I begged hopefully
"Possibly, although I am doubtful. I believe that if he regains consciousness and becomes aware of his situation, the shock will be too much for him and he will cease to fight. If he does not want to survive there will be very little I can do."
"Why the hell wouldn‘t he want to live?" I screamed in disbelief.
It was Kathryn who finally answered. Tiny Kathryn whose heart is as big and brave as a lion.
Who else would have stood in front of my raging torrent and spoken the words that ripped my hope apart?
"Tom‘s spine is completely shattered. Although the Doctor can knit the bones together there is no way to repair his spinal cord. If we were back home there would be a chance to heal him but there simply isn‘t the technology on a ship this size. We were never supposed to be more than a couple of days from real hospitals so we were only equipped with basic trauma equipment.
"If Tom survives he will be paraplegic, unable to do much more than move his eyes. He will be unable to breathe without the artificial lungs. He will spend the rest of our journey in sickbay. If we never get home he will grow old and die in that bed.
"I don‘t believe that the slim hope of returning to the Alpha Quadrant will be enough for him to accept those conditions, Chakotay. I think he would prefer it if we let him die now. He may find life like this intolerable and simply give up."
No, I couldn‘t accept her reasonable words. I wouldn‘t accept them.
"Then he‘ll have to learn to cope, won‘t he!" I snarled "Because he is going to live whether he wants to or not. Even if we don‘t get home there is a whole quadrant of civilisations out here. Somewhere we will find someone who can cure him!"
Kathryn sighed at my refusal to face the truth.
"And in the meantime he just lies there like a corpse, trapped in his own head? Do you honestly believe that Tom will be able to live like that?"
I grasped furiously for a solution, for hope.
"Why can‘t we transfer his mind to a holo-emitter. The Doctor has done it before. He can live outside his body until it is better."
"The pattern will degrade if it is active for too long. He will only be able to emerge briefly and then will have to return to his body. It will be like being in prison again for him, let out for short bursts of freedom before being caged, growing always more aware of the horror of his captivity. He will go insane."
"I won‘t let him!" I replied fiercely "I will make him want to live.
I will keep him alive until we find a cure."
But even I wonder whether I am simply refusing to face reality.
Will Tom forgive me and accept my love as an anchor to cling onto through this nightmare or will he simply see my love as pity?
Does he hate me too much to live?