ST: Voyager C/P
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!)SLASH m/m
I had spent hours with the Doctor discussing how I could accomplish the task of bringing Tom home and then B‘Elanna and I had planned every detail of the move with military precision. I had been amazed by the speed with which Tom had agreed to my suggestion and events had then moved so quickly that I had barely caught my breath. It was only much later, as I lay beside him in my bed and felt him so near and yet still so inaccessible, that the enormity of my decision truly hit me.
Before my long sobering discussion with the Doctor that morning, I had imagined that I would at least be able to hold Tom‘s body through the lonely nights, infusing him with my warmth and love.
I had not considered the many necessary functions that the bio-bed performed for him. During sleep, a "normal" person twists and turns almost constantly, so no part of their body is forced to withstand constant pressure for hours on end since the pressure points are constantly changing.
Not so, apparently, with a paralyzed person like Tom. The Doctor had explained to me that once Tom was lowered into bed, he couldn‘t turn by himself. So the surface of his skin which met the mattress would remain compressed all night long. Sustained pressure on the skin would cause his interior blood vessels to collapse, cutting off his blood flow, and eventually killing his skin tissue, leading to sores, infection and even death.
The bio-bed was fitted with several long tubes running lengthwise. The upper surface of the tubes were made of a fabric with thousands of tiny holes that allowed the compressed air to "breathe" against Tom‘s body through the night. An air pump inflated or deflated the tubes alternately causing Tom to rotate from side to side.
In this way, the pressure on Tom‘s skin was relieved, the whisper of a "breeze" safeguarding his skin from excess moisture and heat and the fluid that gathered in Tom‘s artificial lungs was kept mobile and easier to suction out.
I could not try to replicate this aid. I could hold Tom in my arms for a cuddle but if I fell asleep, if he was not constantly moved, Tom‘s under-oxygenated skin and body tissue would die.
So I did not dare to hold him. He had to remain alone in the bio-bed and I could only lie on my side next to him, with my arm resting gently over his chest, feeling the pacemaker in his implants gently blow him up like a balloon, twelve times every minute.
The rhythm rocked me to a fitful sleep. I knew that alarms would sound if a hose popped off or something else went wrong but I didn‘t BELIEVE it. All through the night I woke constantly from terrible dreams of Tom dying and jerked awake in stark terror until the steady rhythm under my arm reassured me that he was all right.
It was in the early hours of the morning that I finally gave up all pretence of rest and instead considered the events of the previous evening and my feelings about them.
I thought that I had resigned myself to the impossibility of a physical relationship with Tom. Even imagining him as a sexual being whilst he was in this condition struck me as perverted. I had been determined to act in a platonic manner towards him but the shattered look in his eyes when I had been restrained in my affection, and his heart-breaking question of whether I still wanted him had left me no alternative but to kiss him properly.
I was truly caught unaware by my body‘s reaction to his passionate response. I surprised myself with my intense arousal and I was immediately bitterly ashamed of myself.
Even as I changed him into his nightwear and put him to bed I was horribly aware of the firm erection that stood proud of his pale undernourished body. Of course I knew that it was a completely involuntary reaction on his part. That Tom had no more control over his cock than any other part of his body below his neck.
Often, when I had changed Tom to go out on an evening, I had noticed that he appeared to be aroused but the Doctor had explained to me, months previously, that according to the ancient medical texts he had consulted, it meant nothing. Apparently, when a man received such a traumatic injury to the spinal cord, he was highly unlikely to get an erection because of feelings of sexual arousal.
Tom‘s erections were not due to messages sent from his brain but were resulting from direct stimulation to the penis or scrotum, or indirect stimulation to the penis from a full bladder, for example. These were "reflex" erections and common during catheterization, bowel routines, and the movement of his legs as I dressed or undressed him and were beyond his control.
So I was ashamed that night of my strong urge to run my fingers lovingly down the thick shaft. I knew that Tom would be able to feel my touch and I could almost imagine his beautiful face screwing up in delight. But his inability to take the sensation any further would make my touch cruel and teasing.
For a moment I even wondered whether it would be possible to actually penetrate him, whether he would be able to feel and take pleasure in my taking him. Would the sensation of me filling him and sliding against him, skin against skin be something he would welcome?
But I knew that to abuse him in this way, to take my own gratification in his helpless body, would have been the brutal act of a barbarian. Surely even the spirits of my ancestors would rise in fury against me for such an outrageous act.
I wondered whether it was for this reason that Kathryn had been so adamant that I was making a mistake in taking Tom home. Perhaps she had seen the vulgar darkness in me that I had not even imagined existed.
Even as I berated myself for my callous, unnatural desires I was overwhelmed by the pressure in my groin and as soon as Tom was comfortable, I disappeared into the bathroom and jumped in the shower, where I prayed the running water would screen the sound of my frantic masturbation.
As I desperately rubbed my fingers along my cock I pictured Tom‘s beautiful face in front of me and as I came in a great fountain, I sagged against the wall, conscience-stricken.
My guilt was so overwhelming that when I finally returned to the bedroom, I could have sworn for a moment that I saw a look of reproach in Tom‘s blue eyes.
But fortunately I knew that it was just my own imagination. Because when I leant over to gently kiss him goodnight, he just said.
"I love you, Chakotay." In his normal soft, sad tone.
"I love you too, babe" I replied, even as I drowned under the weight of my guilty secret.
That first evening set the pattern of our relationship for the next few weeks.
I was riding a roller coaster of emotions, torn between my absolute joy at Chakotay‘s company though my long painful nights and bitter frustration whenever he disappeared into the bathroom to ‚shower‘.
I wanted to scream at him that I was still alive. That being seen as a sexual being would add so very much to my quality of life. Sexual pleasure was still possible even without my possibility of an orgasm. Intercourse was just one way to be sexual, we could enjoy learning and exploring new ways.
He could touch me, lick me, nibble my skin, even if he couldn‘t bring himself fill me with his presence and fulfil me with my knowledge of his own satisfaction. Even before my accident it had been gratifying to see that I was able to satisfy my bed-partners. This had not changed.
Perhaps if I had not been so sexually active all my life I could have accepted the platonic nature of our relationship. But I doubt it. Everyone needs to be held, to be loved. I would still enjoy being touched. I could still imagine many sexual situations with Chakotay. My mind was intact and working overtime! I wanted to reassure him that each moment with him was special, important and very arousing, and that his pleasure would be mine.
But I just couldn‘t talk to him about it.
The problems between Chakotay and I ran deeper than my injury. Our inability to trust and understand each other sexually had already ripped us apart once before. It was easy for us to blame my injury for our non-existent sex life but the truth was that we had never had an easy relationship. We did not have the mutual trust necessary to talk openly about our fears and desires.
I was too unsure of whether he had ever truly desired me, even before my injury, to push the issue now, with so many obstacles to overcome. The truth was that I was too scared to bring the subject up with Chakotay.
I did however discuss it with the Doctor.
He was surprisingly sympathetic considering he‘s only a holoprogram, when all is said and done. He did not scorn or scoff at my question of whether I could still be sexually active. He actually spent several hours of research to answer my question and came to the conclusion that my feelings and desires were both valid and possible.
Perhaps he was considering writing a paper on it. I could just imagine him pontificating on "Breakfast with Neelix" as to the methods, limitations and general practical considerations of sex with a quadriplegic.
But no matter how reassuring he was on the subject, I could not ignore the fact that Chakotay was obviously repulsed even more by me now than before. I knew that if I allowed the status quo to continue then I would have his loving friendship forever and that by pushing a confrontation I was risking losing him.
And losing Chakotay would be losing the only reason I had for living.
So the weeks went on, without change, except I grew more bitter and Chakotay spent more time in the bathroom, and still we never once actually talked about what was on our minds. We were polite strangers sharing the most intimate of my bodily functions but never sharing the most important of our intimate thoughts.
I knew that the situation couldn‘t continue. That I had obviously made a mistake in moving Tom back into my quarters.
Rather than becoming happier and more at peace with himself and his condition, Tom was daily becoming more sullen and depressed. And so was I.
There were lots of issues that I had found myself unprepared to deal with. Our whole relationship had changed. Before the injury, Tom was an independent and often irrepressible person. He was a decision-maker, busy and involved with the social life of the ship. Now, I was being relied upon to ensure his health, happiness and continued interaction with other crewmembers.
I often felt angry, irritable and depressed. The stress of living my life around Tom‘s many needs on top of doing all of my usual duties was exhausting.
It took almost two hours every morning to get him out of bed and ready for work and the same again every night just to get him back to bed. Between times I spent my entire duty shift trying desperately to find reasons to justify his continued presence on the bridge.
To be fair to Tom, he took his responsibilities seriously. His injury had not dulled his sharp brain and Kathryn and I took to leaving him in charge of Voyager whenever we were reasonably certain that there were no hazards in the vicinity. With nothing to do but think, with no chance of him being distracted by other considerations, he became a good commanding officer and made enough quick and decisive orders on a number of occasions to haul our butts out of several unexpected problems.
So much so that Kathryn gave him his lieutenant‘s pips back in a short but very formal ceremony and Tom accepted them with pride and only the smallest concern that pity had been a factor in her decision.
It was a sad fact, despite Tom‘s numerous heroic efforts to redeem himself since the very first day that we had found ourselves cast adrift in the wreckage of the caretaker‘s array, that before his accident there were still many crewmembers who had distrusted or even actively disliked him.
Even the tragedy of his accident had barely scratched the surface of this animosity. There had been a core minority who felt that the pilot deserved what had happened to him, despite the general horror at his condition.
But over the last year even the most diehard of his critics had grown to respect and admire his bravery and tenacity. No one could fail to be impressed by his fortitude. Every night when we visited the mess hall and the holodec, people swarmed to his side to exchange small talk. Tom had never been so genuinely popular in his life.
I was increasingly aware that no one talked to ME anymore. If I entered a room alone the occupants would all say "Hi, Chakotay, how‘s Tom?" Not "How are you?" just "How‘s Tom?" I was ashamed of how resentful I was becoming. Don‘t get me wrong, I wasn‘t jealous of Tom‘s new popularity. I was pleased for him. He had so little else in his life that I surely couldn‘t resent him stealing a little of my own glory. Could I?
It was just that no one seemed to realise that I had needs too. That I was breaking under the strain of being Tom‘s support structure. That I was giving everything and getting nothing in return.
So much for honest, dependable Chakotay, protector of the weak and defender of the needy! The truth was that I was sick and tired of always being on the receiving end of one-sided, dependant relationships. I knew that I was incapable of walking away completely, that I would die before I let Tom know that he was a burden I did not wish to carry. I had no more chance of leaving him than I had of leaving Angel.
But that didn‘t mean I was happy about the situation.
If only I could touch him, hold him, love him, it would make everything worthwhile. I was ashamed that my love for Tom was obviously so crucially linked to my overwhelming desire for him. But I was only human after all.
Although I had no intention of abandoning him in any other respect, I began to consider how to justify the decision to move him back to Sickbay where I was sure he would be happier.
I know that it seemed heartless, but I was genuinely trying to think of Tom‘s needs too. It was obviously terribly embarrassing for him to be looked after by me in such an intimate way. Every night after I had washed him and changed his waste tubes and prepared him for bed, he would lie for hours with tears of humiliation rolling down his cheeks.
He conversed happily and easily all day with the rest of the crew but once we retired to my quarters at night he would become sullen and non-responsive. He no longer asked to kiss me and although I found myself consumed by the fire of my own desire for him, I just knew that I could not force the issue. His fear of me leaving him would surely make him agree to anything and I could not be that kind of abuser.
I spent more and more time alone in the bathroom with my memories and when I would emerge Tom would pretend to sleep but I could feel the waves of his unhappiness crashing over us both.
It was exactly six weeks after he moved in that I finally visited the Doctor to arrange for Tom‘s transfer back to Sickbay.