(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.
That first trip to the resort became the pattern of my days with Tom. With stupid optimism I had clutched his whispered "thank you" to my heart like a precious jewel and had nursed it all night in happiness, sure that he would now be willing to let me help him.
I was wrong.
No matter how well our trips turned out in the end. No matter how tired but grateful he would finally seem by the end of an enforced night in the Resort, or Sandrines or Fairhaven, the next evening would always begin with the same arguments and tears.
He made me feel like a monster, like a cruel unfeeling bully. And although I couldn‘t even begin to imagine the hell he was experiencing, though I cried inside for the terrible distress of his condition, sometimes I struggled to stay calm and understanding in the face of his constant hostility towards me.
To my shame, I sometimes had to stop myself from screaming in frustration at his constant self-pity. Some days it took a real effort to respond to his abuse with mild laughter when his words were ripping my very heart apart.
The truth was that there was nothing more I could do for him. I had a job to do. I couldn‘t be with him constantly. At some point I always had to return him to sickbay and by the time I returned he would have had too many long hours of lonely misery in which to contemplate his appalling existence. So all my previous endeavors were undone and daily we had to start from scratch again.
With Harry‘s help, B‘Elanna built a new bio-bed for Tom. It used the same neural interface as his chair and enabled him to move positions from lying to sitting at will and thereby see the vid and comm. screens that we installed for him. Voice-activated the comm. screens allowed him to see around the ship and in a small way experience the life that was going on around him. I think it was a form of torture, in a way, but at least he utilised the facility with a small pretence of enthusiasm.
The neural interface also controlled a drinking machine, so that he was freed from the indignity of having to ask for water for his parched throat. Unfortunately, our efforts to produce a similar mechanism for feeding him ended in a number of very messy disasters and he point blank refused to be spoon-fed like a baby.
Despite the intravenous drips and the constant electrical stimulation of his muscles, Tom was wasting away into a skeleton. Every day as I picked his frail body up to place it in the chair, I was more terrifyingly aware of the way his bones were beginning to strain against his parchment-thin skin.
Finally I had no choice but to bring the situation to a head and thus sparked our first truly dramatic fight which was also, oddly enough, the beginning of the breakthrough for Tom and I.
I had been delayed on the bridge and so instead of returning to my quarters to shower and change as usual, I went straight to Sickbay and therefore arrived early enough to catch, for the first time, Tom and the Doctor‘s dinner time performance.
I skidded to a halt in horror as I watched the Doctor trying to force a spoon between Tom‘s lips while Tom screwed his face up in refusal, clenching his teeth desperately against the pressure. Tom‘s chin and lap were covered with the thin food supplement and as the Doctor looked at me with a helpless shrug, I knew without doubt that absolutely none of the food had descended Tom‘s throat.
It was then that I realised, with blinding clarity, that Tom had finally found a way to kill himself after all. He was obviously determined to simply starve to death. I am not sure what emotion was most prevalent in me at that moment of comprehension, but grief and anger were both putting up a damn good fight.
"Perhaps you would like to leave it to me!" I snapped and the Doctor practically sagged in relief even as Tom‘s eyes flew open and he stared at me in apprehension. Ignoring him I went to the replicator and ordered a bowl of Tom‘s favourite tomato soup. I took a small mouthful myself to check the temperature and then walked over to sit on the edge of Tom‘s bed.
Tom‘s beautiful eyes stared hugely out of his emaciated face, the intense blue swirling with anger and panic as he saw me load the spoon.
"No, Chakotay. I won‘t" he gasped, "Fuck off."
I merely raised the spoon to his lips in response. Tom was unable to move his head to escape me but the end of the spoon collided violently with his teeth and the warm liquid spilled down his chin to mingle with the earlier debris.
"Open your damned mouth, Tom" I snarled in frustration and his eyes flashed in amazement at the anger I had never revealed to him before.
"Fuck off and die!" he hissed
I grabbed his nostrils tightly with my left hand and closed his air supply. For a moment he struggled desperately for breath before his instincts took over and his mouth gaped wide. I took the opportunity to pour a spoonful of soup down his throat.
I think a little of it went down the wrong way because he gasped and choked for a moment before regarding me with outraged eyes.
"You fucking bastard" he snarled in complete disbelief of my cruel actions.
In response I merely loaded the spoon again and raised it to his lips once more. For a moment our eyes held a battle of wits and then he slowly opened his mouth. As I removed the empty spoon I was filled with relief at his prompt capitulation only to be stunned as Tom spat the mouthful out, right into my face.
As the soup dripped down my face onto my uniform, my natural reaction of fury was instantly quashed by the look of absolute terror in Tom‘s eyes at what he had done, but I was determined to resolve this once and for all.
"Okay, Tom. Here‘s your choice. You can eat this soup here without the childish performance or we will take this to the mess hall. I‘m sure all of Alpha Shift would enjoy watching you spit soup over my face!"
"You.you wouldn‘t." he gasped in horror
"Just try me, Tom." I answered in a tone that left no room for doubt.
The sight of his defeated tears made me want to throw my arms around him and beg for forgiveness but I was fighting for his life and I had to be strong, so I just kept raising the spoon as he sobbed and swallowed until it was all gone.
When he had finally hiccuped down the last mouthful I rose and fetched a cloth and warm water and began to gently wipe away the tears and mess from his quivering chin.
"See," I whispered softly "That wasn‘t so bad, was it?"
He stared at me for a long time with his confused miserable eyes and then whimpered "Why?"
I tenderly cupped his face with my hands as I peered deeply into his distraught features.
"Because if you don‘t eat you are going to die, my love, and I can‘t let you do that. Because if you die I think I might die too!"
I saw the furrow deepen in his brow at my words but he did not respond.
"Don‘t you understand yet that I love you, Tom Paris? That I can‘t live without you? That this isn‘t pity but real love?" I begged desperately.
"No. You don‘t. You‘re feeling.guilty. That‘s all!" he retaliated angrily, gulping desperately for breath between each couple of words.
"You‘re right, Tom. I do feel guilty, but that‘s NOT all. I feel guilty for not talking to you before your accident. For misjudging you. For abusing you."
"That last night. When I hurt you."
"You .you threw me.out" he choked "Like used.garbage"
"Let me try to explain, Tom. All of that week you were with me was wonderful. I felt like you completed a part of me that I didn‘t even know was missing until you were there. But I accidentally hurt you whenever we made love and I began to worry that you were frightened of me touching you. I never bothered to ask your opinion, I just made my mind up and that was that. Then when you kept hiding your things out of sight and never suggested we went out I thought you regretted being with me."
"Shush, baby, let me finish. When you asked me to f.make-love to you that night I was so overwhelmed with passion that I lost control and when I looked down and saw your tears I thought I had really hurt you. I felt like a rapist. I was so horrified that I didn‘t give you a chance to talk to me, I just wanted to let you get away from me. And then when you said about not wanting your things to be conspicuous I really thought you had never wanted to stay with me at all."
"I. I. just wanted.to fit in." Tom gasped "I. just wanted.to please you."
"I know that Tom. I realised it when you were away on the Delta Flyer. B‘Elanna made me realise how stupid I‘d been. She also said that I didn‘t hurt you when we made love, that you weren‘t crying in pain."
My statement was more of a question really and Tom responded, his ragged voice full of loss and grief.
"It was.it was the.best moment of.my life"
"I‘m so sorry, Tom. So very sorry." I moaned guiltily "but can you at least understand? At least believe that I never stopped loving you? That I was just a stupid fool and I have done nothing since than try to show you how sorry I am? Do you believe how much I truly love you?"
Tom closed his eyes in pain for a long time before finally whispering "Maybe"
It wasn‘t what I was hoping to hear but I knew it was more than I deserved. Renewed hope grabbed my heart and in excitement I begged "Then you will stop fighting me? Stop trying to kill yourself?"
"No." Tom replied flatly "because it doesn‘t.matter anymore."
"What the hell do you mean ‘it doesn‘t matter‘?"
"It‘s too late."
"No, Tom. You‘re wrong. It‘s not too late. I love you."
"If you.love me.let me die!" Tom pleaded in a soft whisper that broke my heart.
"No, Tom. I won‘t let you die. I won‘t ever give up on you. I will never stop fighting you on this. You may as well give in to me because I will never let you go!"
"I know" Tom replied sadly, but for a moment, in the depths of his tortured eyes, I swear I saw a reluctant flicker of returning love.