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 17

I‘m back on the bridge. Actually sitting on the bridge watching the passing stars slide past the viewscreen. Okay, so of course I‘m only sat in my float chair like a passenger, watching other people work, but still it‘s great to be back. I never thought I‘d see this sight again.

Well it‘s not strictly true, about seeing the sight, I mean. I have done little else for the last few months but sit in sickbay and watch the bridge activity on my comm. screen. I guess that‘s what gave Chakotay the idea.

Apparently the Captain was reluctant, she didn‘t think I‘d be safe on the Bridge. It took two days of welding and electrical wizardry to move the command chairs before she was finally satisfied that I could be safely tethered between Chakotay and herself.

I admit that I argued with Chakotay when he told me his idea. Big surprise, huh?

I thought it would shatter my newfound composure to be so very close to what I have lost. To be so near the helm, knowing that I would never be able to run my fingers over it again. To be forced to accept that I would never fly again.

But as usual he knew me better than I knew myself.

For the first time in months I actually feel at home. This is where I belong, on the bridge, surrounded by my true family. I can even recognise now that the frequent anxious looks from Harry and the Captain are due to concern not pity.

The thought of spending my days here, involved in the day to day running of the ship, rather than rotting in Sickbay, doesn‘t make me happy exactly but certainly less discontent.

To be honest, just the thought of spending another eight hours a day in Chakotay‘s company is enough to compensate for the humiliation of publicly displaying my continued helplessness.

That surprised you, didn‘t it? The fact that I have finally allowed myself to fall in love with him again. To trust him again. That whenever I‘m alone I find myself endlessly longing for the sound of his soothing voice and the gentle caress of his hands. He has become the only bearable part of this whole sorry mess.

Don‘t misunderstand me. I am still sure that the major part of his concern for me stems from pity. I am not suggesting that he is intentionally misleading me with his protestations of love, just that he is the kind of man whose sense of obligation and honour overwhelm him until he THINKS it is love.

But I don‘t care. I have decided that I will take whatever bone he throws me. Without his constant pressure and gentle bullying I would quickly descend back into the spiral of apathetic depression that I suffered for the first six months after my accident.

Over the last three months I have learned to accept his ministrations and become grateful for them. I have begun to enjoy our nightly outings. I have even started to let go my desire for oblivion and face up to the fact that I might never get better but will have to live like this for the rest of my life.

To tell the truth I‘m reluctant to try any more ‘miracle cures‘ anyway. Eight weeks ago we met a friendly humanoid race called the Breegren. Whilst the rest of the crew enjoyed a week of unexpected shoreleave, I was endlessly poked and prodded by the alien Medics while they tortured my body with their efforts to help.

They managed to restore 80% of my nerve endings, so that for the first time in months the sensation in my body has returned. As I sit here I can actually feel the straps that embrace my torso, waist and legs. I am aware of the hollow cold that constantly pervades my thin body. Cold that no clothing or raised room temperature manages to circumvent.

I am constantly shaken by the sensation of thousands of insects crawling and biting my body as the nerves come alive in Mexican waves. The pain is indescribable and pointless.

None of my motor functions were restored. I still have absolutely no ability to even twitch, let alone move. All I have gained is enough pain in my body to balance the pain in my head.

Except that is not strictly true. At least I can now feel Chakotay‘s hand when he grasps my shoulder in support. I can feel his fingers dance with mine as we sit together through the long evenings in the holodec. I can shiver mentally with bliss as he caresses my lifeless legs when he is changing me to go out. But this is a torture of its own.

With the return of feelings so has come the return of my desire for him. The inability of my crippled body to respond to his touch is a subtle torture for my unfettered imagination. He has no idea what effect his platonic touches have on me. I cannot bear to tell him and see the pain of horrified understanding in his eyes.

You see, although part of me still hates him for his insistence on making me continue to live like this, I am also aware of his guilt at being unable to let me go. Every complaint I make is another arrow into his soul. Each time I am shaken with pain he shudders with me. How can I tell him that in an unimaginable way my pain has grown?

I am beginning to accept that there will never be anything more to my life than this. And although the thought is terrible, it‘s not quite as terrifying as it was before.

The Doctor has informed me that the longer it takes us to get home, if we ever do get home, the less chance there is of anyone being able to cure me.

So I guess you think I‘m sitting here praying for a wormhole?

Guess again.

You see, in the tortured twisted alleys of my mind, I‘ve finally figured it out. As long as I am like this. As long as I am so totally dependant on him. Chakotay will never, ever leave me again.

It won‘t matter if we get home and that bastard Angel is long as it‘s too late for a cure, Chakotay will stay with me. It‘s a thought that I cling onto desperately when all other hope has gone.

Pathetic isn‘t it.