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 15

As I looked around my ready room I slowly absorbed the familiar expressions of grief and despair on the faces of all the Senior Staff. Over the last three months my ship had become an imitation of the Barge of the Dead. Even Tuvok and Seven had become distracted and inefficient. The problem of Tom Paris was like a visible burden on everyone‘s shoulders and had become an albatross around my own neck.

"The bio-neural stimulators donated by the Alpeegi have had a limited but positive result" The Doctor stated solemnly "Tom has finally mastered his vocal chords and can speak words and sometimes small sentences."

"Only he doesn‘t!" Harry interrupted, "He won‘t talk to anyone if he can help it. The only word he ever says is No!"

"‘NO‘ to what?" I queried

"Anything, everything, Captain, every idea we come up with to try to help him. He refuses. He says no."

"For instance?"

"I have designed a Borg implant using nanites from my own body" Seven replied "I believe that it will be able to replace a number of the functions of Tom‘s spinal cord. He has, however, refused to even give the matter his consideration."

I shuddered a little myself at the thought. It was no wonder that Tom refused, although in his place I might have been willing to try anything by now.

"Go on." I encouraged the staff.

"Tom will not use the holo-matrix that the Doctor and I designed" B‘Elanna said, "He says he can‘t bear to experience the illusion of being well and then have to return to his own body. He says the price of the limited freedom is too high. He‘d rather lie there and rot all day when I have the ability to let him spend his evenings on the holodec. He‘s completely crazy." She spat with frustration.

Again, I could see it from Tom‘s point of view. Using B‘Elanna‘s good-intentioned device would create an unbearable situation for him. It was better perhaps for him to accept his condition completely than be dangled false hope once a day. It would be like being shown a glance of freedom only to have the door slammed in his face every time.

Yet, I wondered whether he was right. Perhaps even a little joy was better than none, whatever the cost.

"So Harry and I have designed a floating chair for him. It means he can sit up and move around. There is a hidden compartment under the seat for his waste and nutrition tubes to feed into. An emergency oxygen supply. A defibrillator. A power pack for his artificial lungs and even a neural interface so that he can use basic controls just by thinking about them. It means he can finally get out of Sickbay and talk to people and see what‘s going on."

"That‘s a great idea. Well done." I enthused. We had talked on numerous occasions now about creating some form of updated wheelchair after we had scanned ancient databases for clues of how people had coped with situations like this before medical technology had improved.

Always we had been stymied by the problem of how Tom would move himself. We all knew how he would feel about being pushed around like an exhibit. The neural interface seemed a perfect solution.

"Will it work?" I queried the doctor.

"With the aid of a small operation which I have already performed, Tom should have no problem using the chair."

"Should have? Why hasn‘t he tried it yet?"

"He said no!" Harry groaned despairingly.

"Is there nothing that he WILL agree to?" I demanded in exasperation.
"Euthanasia" Tuvok replied solemnly and the whole table gasped with horror at the very calmness of his words
"With his permission I have mind-melded with him and I am satisfied that the prevalent and indeed only wish in his mind is to die. He rejects all efforts to help him adapt to his condition because he has no wish to adapt. He wishes to die."

Very calmly I looked at my husband, trying to quell the outrage I felt.

"Are you suggesting that we allow Tom to die?"

"His life is intolerable to him. We have been unable to find even a remote possibility of a cure after three months. He does not wish to live on in this state in the vague hope of a future cure. His decision is logical given the situation that he is in."

"NO" Chakotay shouted, jumping to his feet as though he would strike Tuvok for his words.

"If you can‘t control yourself, Commander, you may leave."

I snapped and he sheepishly sat down even as he continued to glower at my mate.

I could understand his anger. I shared it. Perhaps at the very beginning, when Tom was smashed beyond recognition, I could have considered it but now, after all these months of effort to save him;

I was not prepared to admit defeat. My pride perhaps, but inescapably true.

"I disagree" I said firmly "We could concede to Tom‘s demands today and find a cure tomorrow. I will not be an accomplice in his suicide."

"I recall that in a similar situation you reached a different conclusion" Tuvok stated and pushed an image of Q in my mind for emphasis.

"The situation is not similar." I snapped back "I was sure of the reasoning then. To be honest I‘m not sure Tom is truly sane at this point. I will not carry out a death sentence on someone who is too ill to make a rational decision. That‘s my last word on the subject.

Tom will not be allowed to end his life."
The very softness of Chakotay‘s reply to my statement surprised me as much as the content.

"So you have decided that Tom is incapable of rational decisions?" he queried mildly.
"Yes, at this time, certainly."

"Then may I suggest that you revoke your standing order that prevents me from visiting sickbay, since it is only one of his irrational decisions that made you issue that order?"

For a moment I didn‘t know whether to laugh or get angry at his presumption.

"And what are your intentions if I do?" I asked suspiciously.
"For a start, I‘m going to get him in that bloody chair!"

Chakotay replied with defiance. And suddenly I wondered whether that was the answer after all.

To let Chakotay have his way. To let the one person who really loved Tom force him back, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the land of the living.

Perhaps it had been a mistake to let Tom wallow in his misery. Only, at the time, it had seemed too cavalier to ignore Tom‘s wishes in this matter when he had no control over anything else.

Perhaps Tom needed the shock and anger of being forced to interact with Chakotay to snap him out of his self-pity.

"Very well, I have reconsidered my order and you may proceed."

And to my surprise, but remarkably little annoyance, I saw Chakotay leap to his feet and run out the door without even waiting to be dismissed.

I didn‘t believe it, Just fucking didn‘t believe it when Chakotay‘s smiling head suddenly floated in my line of vision.

For six weeks he had obeyed my demand, or rather the Captain‘s orders, but suddenly there he was again like my worst nightmare brought to life.

"Piss off" I croaked through a mouth which was hoarse with disuse.

To my complete bewilderment, he just laughed cheerfully at my words.

"That attitude won‘t get us anywhere, Tom. So you may as well cheer up and get used to me because I‘m not going away this time."

I could hear him moving and rattling things beside me and I was filled with anxiety. Oddly enough, after all my weeks of apathy it was almost a pleasant sensation to be worried about what he could possibly be doing.

I didn‘t have to wonder what he was up to for long because I suddenly found myself raised to a sitting position and my suspicious eyes lighted on the floating chair that Harry and B‘Elanna had created as a further instrument of my ongoing humiliation.

Chakotay was busily detaching all of the various tubes and wires that chained me to this life of torment and was attaching them to the chair.

"NO!" I screamed, only it came out like more of a pathetic yelp.

"Sorry, Tom. I know you don‘t want to do this but I promise you will enjoy it despite yourself. The resort program is running on the holodec. Think how great it will feel to smell the sea and feel sunlight on your body." Chakotay said with a wide loving smile that made my blood curdle.

"Fuck off"

"I must say that your illness hasn‘t improved your language at all" Chakotay replied mildly, as he continued his preparations to drag me out like a fucking circus trick and parade the indignity of my condition to the whole crew.

"I won‘t go!" I hissed

"You don‘t have any choice, Tom. The chair is fitted with a manual override. If you don‘t come with me willingly, I will simply push you there!" Chakotay stated firmly in his best command voice.

Helpless I watched him pick my unfeeling body up off the bed and place it in the chair. He strapped me in tightly and connected the neural interface to the socket implanted behind my left ear.

He was really going to do it. The bastard was really going to make me go through with it. Tears of despair and humiliation flooded from my eyes and spilled down my cheeks in a torrent.

How could he do this to me? What had I ever done to him to deserve this treatment? Why couldn‘t he just leave me to die in peace? That‘s what I wanted to scream at him but despite the help of the neural repairs I struggled with more than two or three words at a time, so all I could manage to say was "WHY?"

"Because I love you, Tom" Chakotay as he gently wiped away my furious tears.

"Liar" I spat at him and he contemplated my face with a surprisingly convincing look of grief before he replied.

"No, Tom. I‘m not lying and I‘m not just saying it because you are ill, although I am sure that is what you believe. I DO love you and even though I know you hate me for what I‘ve done and probably hate me even more for what I am doing to you now, I will always love you."

"Don‘t believe you" I rasped as new tears began to spill.
"I know you don‘t Tom, but it‘s true nevertheless." Chakotay replied firmly.
"Now you may as well stop putting it off and try using the chair because we‘re going out"


"Then I‘ll simply push you." Chakotay answered and to my horror I found myself floating towards the door of the Sickbay.

"No. Bastard. Fucking bastard!"

"See you managed four words then, I told you this would do you good."

Chakotay murmured softly as he pushed me out into the corridor.

My uncontrollable rage at his callous disregard for my feelings was only inflamed by the horror of the journey. As he pushed me through the corridors we met dozens of crewmembers who all gazed at me in obvious repugnance even as they plastered false smiles on their faces and cheery hellos into their mouths.

Before long I had closed my eyes tightly to hide from their glances but I had no way to cover my eyes from their voices.

Sobbing in mortification at this ultimate humiliation, I was unaware of reaching our destination until the holo-doors opened and I was assaulted by the smell of brine.

Almost against my will I breathed deeply to eradicate three months of stale, sterile medical smells and I squinted against the painful glare of the artificial sunlight.

Seemingly from nowhere, Chakotay produced dark glasses and a baseball cap for me and put them in place. I felt oddly safe behind the glasses; their small barrier between my soul and prying eyes was enough to finally stop my tears.

I don‘t know how long we stayed, maybe a couple of hours. Long enough for dozens of people to come up to us and say how pleased they were to see me.

I skulked behind the glasses and refused to answer any of them at first but every time I snubbed someone‘s approaches, I would hear Chakotay softly making excuses for my rude behavior.

It incensed me. He had no fucking right to talk for me. He had no fucking rights over me at all.

So I began to respond to people with a small nod at first and then slowly I made an effort to whisper "Hi".

And oddly enough I began to feel a bit better than I had in months. The change of view, the sights, the sounds and even the people woke a part of me that I thought had died in the accident.

Don‘t get me wrong. I was still sure that I wanted to die rather than exist in the prison that was my own body, but suddenly the prospect of being forced to live was not as bleak and terrifying as before.

Then exhaustion hit me and although my body was incapable of demonstrating the fact, Chakotay seemed to know instantly and stood up to leave.

"Do you want to try moving the chair by yourself or shall I push you?" He asked gently.

"Push me" I whispered back, I couldn‘t even keep my eyes open now let alone try to control this device I was strapped to.

I don‘t remember getting back to sickbay. I think I fell asleep on the way. I only remember Chakotay gently laying me back on the bio-bed and carefully re-placing my life support controls.

When he had finished he leant over and kissed me on the end of my nose and I began to cry again as old memories besieged me.

"Shush, Tom. Go to sleep now. I‘m proud of you." He whispered.
I heard his footsteps receding as he walked to the door. I waited until I heard the door whoosh open and then called out "Chakotay" and heard him stop in surprise.

"Yes, Tom?"

"Thank you."