(Yes another mini epic)
Rating. SLASH, m/m the rest is still undecided
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al are Paramount‘s (lucky devils) Summary (Close your eyes if you don‘t want to know what‘s going to happen!)
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. In fact just lots of angst but quite a lot of humour and no nastiness. Am I really writing this or have aliens possessed my body?
"Hey, Haz!" I call across the mess hall.
Harry looks up. A welcoming smile lights his face. As always he blushes a little in pleasure at the nickname. He thinks it‘s really cool.
I have never had the heart to tell him it‘s short for ‘hazard‘.
So okay, I suppose it‘s a little mean but he IS a hazard. That squeaky-clean, just-out-of-cadet-school naiveity has gotten him into trouble so many times that I sometimes wish he would grow-up and become as cynical as me.
No, I don‘t really. It‘s just that I worry about him, you know. And anyway, who would play my straight man if he wasn‘t so wonderfully gullible?
"Hi, Tom" he says as I take the seat opposite and plonk my tray down. Neelix has excelled himself once again. Who would have thought it possible to create a meal out of mashed leola root, bananas and curry powder? I contemplate the possibility of convincing my fork to commit suicide over the edge of the table.
"It‘s not TOO bad" chirps Harry
"You always say that!"
"That‘s just in case I‘m ever right!" he grins.
See, I told you his naivity was dangerous! "Guess what? Sue‘s agreed to have dinner with me tonight!" he suddenly gushes I blink in surprise. Maybe it‘s catching. Perhaps the patron saint of lost causes has finally glanced kindly in Voyager‘s direction. "Um, Haz?"
"Can I ask you something kind of personal?"
"It‘s about Libby."
"No, that‘s okay, ask away."
"What if you get together with Sue and then we get home and you find out Libby waited for you, after all?"
Harry looks at his plate thoughtfully. I feel really bad for being so tactless, but I really need to hear his answer. You see, I played pool with Chakotay last night. It was kind of a date. I really thought that something was finally going to happen but at the end, when he walked me back to my quarters and I paused meaningfully at the doorway, waiting for those hot lips to descend, he simply said "Night, Tom, Thanks for tonight" and walked away! I was in shock. All night we‘d been flirting and I KNEW he wanted me!
I had guessed he wasn‘t the first-date type, more‘s the pity, but I definitely expected a quick snog and grope before he left! But nothing, nada, zip . It‘s never happened to me before! So, like I said, I was in shock.
I didn‘t get much sleep. I just kept replaying the evening in my head. I guess anyone else would have chalked it down to experience, but not me. Oh, no. I couldn‘t get THAT close to what I wanted and then back off. So I went to his quarters first thing and when he answered the door he didn‘t seem surprised to see me. He asked me in, offered me coffee and told me it was over. Over? It hadn‘t even begun!
I was so mad, so disappointed, so hurt I just wanted to run out with my tail between my legs. But oddly enough he seemed even more upset than me. So I just asked him why? And that‘s when he told me. Told me that he had someone waiting for him. That he wanted me so much he couldn‘t think straight but that he already had a lover on the other side of the galaxy.
I could kick myself. It should have been obvious. Why the hell else would the sexiest man in the known universe live like a monk? It probably sounds crazy but I feel better now than I have for weeks. You see, it‘s not ME. I‘m not the problem. It isn‘t that Chakotay doesn‘t want me it‘s just that he‘s still clinging to the memory of someone who undoubtedly gave him up for dead a week after he disappeared into the badlands.
I can fight a ghost. What‘s a memory next to a real live body in your bed? A memory can‘t laugh and joke and play pool with him. A memory can‘t comfort and hold him. A memory can‘t have wild rampant sex with him. Wow! That‘s a thought to drool over. It‘s kind of sweet really. Chakotay‘s sense of honour, I mean. It just proves to me that he is exactly what I thought he was. Honest, dependable, faithfull, in fact everything I want. So that‘s why I need to know about Harry‘s feelings about Libby.
Because if someone as inately decent as Harry can get on with his life then so can Chakotay. We might never get home and even if we do, I am sure that this ‘Angel‘ will have moved on. He‘d better have, because once Chakotay is finally mine, I will NEVER give him back!
When Tom was waiting at my door with a sunny smile after shift, my good intentions went out of the window again. I had been honest with him this morning. I gave him the chance to walk away. Is it really my responsibility if he won‘t take no for an answer? See, there I go again. Trying to justify myself for something that I know is wrong.
I should have told him to leave. But instead I let him follow me in. He walked happily around my room looking at my possessions, drinking in the essence of my life. I felt ridiculously at ease with his presence. It felt so good to have company. All the time he looked around, he kept up a cheerful banter, telling me about his day, passing on the kind of funny anecdotes that I rarely hear in my position as First Officer. I was laughing so much I nearly missed his sudden silence as he saw the picture. I watched him freeze . Then as he reached out and picked up the delicate silver photoframe, he flinched. Really flinched, as though to avoid a blow. I wasn‘t surprised, not really, I‘d seen that photo have the same effect on someone before. It was seeing that same photo that had finally convinced Kathryn that I meant it when I told her we could never have a relationship together, back when she imagined that my support and friendship might be concealling attraction. One sight of the photo on my bedside table had made even the diminuitive but fearless Captain of Voyager immediately call off her subtle persuit.
Angel has that effect on people. Even in a two dimensional picture. That‘s why I don‘t have a holo image of him. In three dimensions he is overwhelming, almost painful to look at. Even for me. I see Tom slowly replace the picture , the tension in his neck and shoulders is palpable. When he turns, his arms are folded against his chest protectively and his mouth is twisted in a wry grin. "So, " he drawls "that‘s why he‘s called Angel. Why didn‘t you tell me?"
His tone is light and teasing but I can see the tension around his eyes, see the discolouration of his knuckles as his fists clench so tightly that I can imagine his nails biting into the soft skin of his palms.
"I did" I reply, although it‘s a lie and we both know it. "You told me you had someone waiting for you. You never said he looked like THAT!"
"Does it matter?" I ask him softly
"Of course, it matters" Tom snaps with painful bitterness "I can‘t compete with him. No one could!"
"It isn‘t a competition, Tom. I‘ve been honest with you. If we ever do get home, if he‘s still waiting, then I am going to go back to him, Tom. But I DO love you and want to be with you, now." "Just a substitute." Tom says resentfully, his eyes dark with anguish "No. Tom. It‘s not like that. How can I explain to you that I want you and desire you and if I‘d met you first I would never have chosen him over you. It‘s just too late for us, Tom." "Yeah! Right! You‘d have chosen a pale imitation like me, over THAT?
Pull the other one, Chak. I‘m not buying it." It‘s an apt image ‚pale imitation‘. In a way it describes Tom perfectly. He is like the full moon that gleams in the night sky, pregnant with promise. In a world where there is only darkness, that moon has an irrisistable beauty . But when the sun rises and snatches back its stolen reflection, when the sun shines in all its morning glory, the moon becomes a wraith-like wisp of dull white in the dawn sky.
Although it pains me to admit it, there is no comparison between the two. In a room of ordinary people Tom shines. If Angel walked into that same room everyone would be so dazzled by his incandescence that Tom would become almost invisible.
It‘s true and Tom knows it. But, it‘s also a lie. You see, there‘s real way to compare them with each other. That would be like trying to quantify the relative merits of food and water. Both have their own value, their own worth. Neither is sufficient by itself.
I realise that I want them both.
How can I make Tom understand that , in a strange way, the very perfection of Angel is sometimes too much for me to handle. How it is Tom‘s very flaws that make him so approachable, so accessible, so human.
That was a cruel thought. I didn‘t mean to imply that Angel isn‘t human. There is no statement that would hurt him more. He‘s from Hera you see. He perceives himself as sub-human, a monster, as do many Federation citizens.
A beautiful, perfect genetically enginered monster. This will destroy him if he ever finds out. That I have fallen in love with Tom. That I have chosen a normal lover after sampling his artifical perfection.
You see now, don‘t you, why I have avoided Tom for so long. I am going to destroy both of the men I love.
Even if we never return home, Tom‘s self-image will be shattered by doubt. He will be eaten away by the knowledge of Angel. He will contantly compare himself with that perfection and find himself lacking. He will always consider himself to be my second and reluctant choice. And if we do return, I will leave him. Doesn‘t that prove him right? Doesn‘t the fact that I will not consider any other course of action prove that he will never mean as much to me?
No. It‘s not really a question of love. It‘s about honour, and promises and the fact that out of both these vulnerable men whom I love, only Tom has the strength to survive being abandoned. Don‘t get me wrong, I understand that it will destroy him, probably drive him back to drinking, fighting, hating. But he will survive because that‘s what he is, a survivor.
Which is strange really. I‘ve never walked into a room with him on my arm without being aware of the envy, the disbelief, the lust directed at my spectacular companion. Even those who despise him for what he is, still want to possess him rather than destroy him. He could have chosen anyone. But he chose me.
I have never understood why.
He is patiently waiting for me like a faithful hound. A cruel image but sadly true. I know this in every fibre of my being. I don‘t know why he loves me like this. I don‘t understand why it was me he chose out of a whole galaxy of potential mates. It‘s a burden, this love. Something that lies heavy on me. For every moment of joy his love gives me, I also feel such a weight of responsibility that sometimes I wish we had never met.
Cruel and ungrateful, aren‘t I? To spurn a gift of such love simply because It chains me so heavily. I am a prisoner of his very need for me. I cannot escape his terrible devotion. He wouldn‘t survive me leaving him. In my very soul I know that he would take his own life before he would let me turn my back on him. Sometimes I hate him for this.