By Morticia
(Yes another mini epic)
ST. Voyager

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.

Part 14

The first couple of weeks are still a blur. I spent most of the time either unconscious or sedated against unimaginable pain. It was not until the third week that I regained enough cognition to remember who I was and what had happened to me.

The death of the Delta Flyer and the agony of being crushed inside her kept playing over and over in my head like a bad holo-vid. I kept questioning my actions, my choices, my options, desperately trying to figure out what I could have done differently.

I worried constantly that the Captain would be really pissed off with me for destroying the best of the few remaining shuttles.

I was vaguely aware of the Doctor‘s face hovering over me that week, telling me I had been seriously hurt as if it would come as some fucking big surprise to me. Didn‘t the idiot realise I was there when it happened? Of course I knew I‘d been hurt. The only surprise to me was that I wasn‘t dead!

I figured that it was really bad because I was being kept so doped up that I couldn‘t feel the pain anymore. In fact, I couldn‘t feel anything at all from my neck down.

Time was difficult to judge in that limbo state but I guess it was a couple of days later when I truly woke up. When I finally realised that something was badly wrong. You see I finally figured that if I was so bloody doped that I couldn‘t feel the pain, then I shouldn‘t be so aware of what was going on around me.

There was this constant stream of visitors, Harry, B‘Elanna, the Captain, even Tuvok and all the time Chakotay hovered somewhere in the background like he had grown roots in Sickbay for the duration.

I wanted to tell him to fuck off and leave me alone. To take his sympathy and stuff it up his own ass. But I couldn‘t because although I moved my mouth to speak, no voice emerged. I couldn‘t pull the words up from my throat.

That‘s when I finally began to get scared.

But not really scared, I mean it‘s the 24th century, if you don‘t die you get better, don‘t you? No one even bears scars anymore as long as they get treatment quickly enough and since I was alive, Voyager must have found me within minutes of the implosion. So there was no reason to suppose I would even show a scratch by the time the Doctor had finished with me.

So I figured that the Doc was milking it. Taking his time over repairing me so that he would be greeted with rapturous adulation when he finally presented me back to the Captain in one piece. I dwelt on this possibility for a few more days, torn between annoyance at my incarceration and admiration of his devious plot.

I even decided that my inability to speak was part of his Machiavellian plot. He‘d wanted to gag me for years. Perhaps these thoughts were a subconscious device to prevent the panic building in me. They certainly worked for a time, but by the fourth week I was beginning to go insane.

I think my desperation was beginning to show in my eyes because finally someone decided to let me know what was going on. It was Chakotay, of course, back in his "let‘s pretend to give a damn about Tom" persona, who broke the news to me.

My first instinct was to laugh, except I was physically incapable, but I really thought it was some kind of sick joke. You see no one is paralyzed these days. Like I said before, as long as you don‘t actually die they can always fix you, and sometimes even if you do die they can still fix you.

So I simply chose not to believe him. I didn‘t know what fucking mind-game he was trying to play with me this time but I wasn‘t going to fall for it.

But as the days crept past and I stared unendingly at the ceiling, unable to move even a micron, I finally had to accept that it was true.

It‘s odd really. As I set off in the Delta Flyer I remember wishing I could die. I thought the pain of Chakotay‘s rejection was more than I could bear. But I know now for certain that I didn‘t really want to end my life at that point, that it was just a dramatic exaggeration. I‘m positive, because it is only now that I finally realise how it truly feels to want to die. To know with every fibre of my being that there is absolutely no point in living one more second.

Why didn‘t the sadistic bastards just let me die?

St. Chakotay of the Bleeding Heart has explained that they are going to transfer my consciousness temporarily to a holo-matrix so that I can finally get a chance to ‚discuss‘ my situation.

It has been six weeks now since the accident and I am crawling around inside my own skull like a demented spider. For six fucking weeks I have stared at the bloody ceiling and listened to Chakotay drone on about how sorry he is and how much he loves me.

Yeah, sure.

I can‘t wait for tomorrow. The chance to finally speak, move, see. And if they leave me alone just for a moment, the chance to smash this fucking bio-bed and finally escape this hell I‘m trapped in.

They say ‚you never appreciate what you have until you lose it‘. That‘s certainly true about my body. I never once in my life considered how lucky I was to be healthy and mobile.

Similarly they also say ‚if you haven‘t experienced it you don‘t miss it‘ and in a strange way that was how I felt when I woke in the ‚body‘ of a hologram.

Don‘t misunderstand me. I had done nothing for the last two weeks but plan ways of disconnecting myself from the life support. But it wasn‘t until the moment that I found myself standing, looking down at my own smashed body from my newfound freedom, that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could not bear to be imprisoned in it for even one more day.

Completely speechless with the enormity of the horror my life had become I looked around at the faces surrounding me. The Captain, the Doctor, Tuvok, Harry and B‘Elanna. All of them regarding my dazed look with grief and pity.

Oh and Chakotay of course, as if he‘d miss the opportunity to act like he gave a damn.

Before the moment of my materialization I had imagined I would run around wildly with excitement, reveling in movement, shouting out a torrent as six weeks worth of words came spilling out of my mouth. But instead I just stood there, as motionless and silent as my corpse. Because that was all my real body was, a corpse. Remove the tubes and machines and I was dead.

"Tom?" The captain asked softly, obviously surprised by my lack of animation, "Are you alright?"

All right? Am I all right? I‘m a fucking hologram. My body is a fucked up piece of garbage that will never move again and she wants to know if I‘m all right?

And I began to laugh, really laugh until holographic tears were running down my face.

The captain stepped forwards hesitantly to touch my pretend arm in a gentle caress, "Please Tom, try to hold on, we‘re doing everything we can. We‘ve sent messages out on all sub-space bandwidths to ask for medical assistance."

"The Captain‘s right, Tom" Harry chipped in "And if we can‘t find help here we‘ll get home and you‘ll be cured. Just don‘t give up!"

B‘Elanna spoke up next "I‘m working on the holo-emitters, creating a stable environment for your matrix. Soon you‘ll be able to spend at least a couple of hours a day on the holodec without the risk of neural damage." And she gave me a wide pleased smile.

I looked at her in disbelief. What did she expect? A fucking standing ovation? I would soon only spend 22 hours out of every day trapped in a corpse and that was supposed to make me feel better?

"We aren‘t going to give up on you Tom" Chakotay promised and I felt my shock and hysteria transform into rage.

How dare he say that? He of all people. The man I had loved more than life itself. The man who had taken me, used me and thrown me away as unworthy even before I became a member of the living dead.

Finally in finding my anger, I found my voice: "Why didn‘t you just let me die?" I screamed at them all and I was oddly pleased to see them blanch at my words.

"What gave you the right to play God? Look at me!" I ran to the bio-bed and stared in horror at my own pallid face "I‘m dead. Can‘t you fucking see that? "

Desperately I began to switch the life-support machines off, only to be grabbed by Chakotay‘s strong arms before I could do any real damage and I was dragged back to the other side of Sickbay.

"Noooooooooooooooo!" I screamed in desperation and then realising the complete futility of my pleas, I sagged in Chakotay‘s arms.

"Tom, can‘t we try and discuss this?" Chakotay whispered in my ear and I shivered with my memories of how that soft tone had fooled me into complacency before.

As I struggled between the urge to escape him and the terrifying knowledge that the only place I could run to was the motionless cadaver of Tom Paris, I had to bite back my scream of terror. I closed my eyes and prayed for the strength not to reveal the quivering wreck I was becoming.

That‘s when St. Chakotay just had to speak up again in that sickening honey-toned voice of concern:

"Is there anything else I can do for you, Tom? Anything that will make the waiting more bearable?"

And I finally lost it, I just snapped. The weeks of hurt and anger erupted into one damning sentence.

"Yes, Commander, you can stay the fuck away from me!" I yelled.

As Chakotay reeled in shock at my words I turned to the Captain, just so that there was no doubt at all of my wishes in this matter.

"I don‘t want him in Sickbay. I don‘t want him hovering over me like a fucking vulture. I want him to leave me the hell alone!"

And before anyone could even begin to argue with my decision, I switched myself off.

There was oblivion, merciful nothingness, and then slowly I became aware of myself again. I was trapped back in my broken body like a fly in amber. As consciousness crept back I could hear low voices although I was unable to see the speakers.

(Since they weren‘t floating on the fucking ceiling!)

"I don‘t understand, Kathryn. I know I hurt him before the accident. I know I never admitted to him that I loved him when I had the chance. But I‘ve been here for weeks. Every day, every night, telling him how much I need him. Showing him how much I care. Why is he rejecting me? Why is he turning me away?"

It was Chakotay, obviously. Whining in that fucking "Poor old me" voice that had begun to royally piss me off. Then I heard the Captain‘s reply:

"He‘s hurt, Chakotay. We can‘t begin to imagine what he‘s going through. You can‘t just put a bandage on his feelings and wish him better. He‘s so vulnerable now, so helpless. He probably doesn‘t know what he wants. You heard him beg us to kill him; he can‘t see the point of living. He‘s obviously too unhappy right now to deal with your affection. You will have to abide by his decision. We can do so little else for him, we have to at least honour this choice."

"But he can‘t possibly prefer to be alone. He can‘t really mean it."

Chakotay argued in a tone of hurt bewilderment.

I tuned the Captain‘s reply out since I was certain that she would uphold my desire to have Chakotay kept from Sickbay and I was exhausted just listening to Chakotay‘s insistence that I didn‘t really want him to leave.

Oh yes I do, you sanctimonious bastard! That‘s exactly what I want.

You can fool the Captain and you can fool the rest of them but you don‘t fool me. The only reason you are finally ready to give me your love is because you are never going to have deal with the fact that I don‘t turn you on. You will never have to bite back your disgust in order to make love to me or pretend I am someone else just to get it up.

It‘s your fault I have to suffer like this. Your bloody guilt is the only thing that makes them keep me alive. Even the Captain would have given in and let me go but, oh no, you want to keep me alive in this hell just to satisfy your fucking sense of honour and I hate you for it.

I may have to live. I may have to suffer endless years of this prison. You might be able to keep stuffing tubes in me to force me to survive despite my best efforts to resist.

But I‘m damned if I‘m going to spend eternity watching your face as you tell your fucking hurtful lies.

As you pretend you love me.