By Morticia

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!)


I struggled to keep my temper in check, I knew that responding to Chakotay‘s anger would only make it harder to get my point across.

"I didn‘t say that Tom didn‘t love you" I stressed, "I said that it is still too soon for either of you to make such an immense commitment to each other. You yourself have admitted that last night was the first time that you managed to consummate your relationship in over a year."

"I made my commitment to Tom the day he woke from his coma. When YOU were ready to just let him die!" Chakotay snarled at me with such untypical spite that I knew I was right in my belief that Tom and Chakotay‘s relationship was built on too much emotion to have any permanent foundations.

"Exactly, you made your commitment to Tom after his injury. That‘s understandable and honorable but hardly the sign of true love, is it? If Tom meant so much to you, why did it take him being paralyzed before you admitted it?" I queried with just a little spite of my own and Chakotay blanched guiltily at my question.

"What you are feeling isn‘t love, Chakotay, it‘s pity and some misguided sense of obligation. Don‘t misunderstand me, I think the way you have managed to get Tom to face up to his new life is wonderful but you are making a mistake in taking it further. Tom is crippled, that can‘t be helped, but if you stay with him he will handicap you too."

Chakotay looked at me as if I had grown horns. I knew my words were cruel but I felt they were necessary. Chakotay had visibly aged over the last year. Tom‘s illness had drawn the vitality out of him. Chakotay barely resembled the daring Maquis hero who had so besotted me once and I was unreasonably angry with Tom at his unwitting desecration of my proud First Officer.

Like a vampire Tom had kept himself alive on Chakotay‘s lifeblood and I had selfishly let the situation continue because SOMEONE had to look after the pilot and there were no other volunteers for the job.

Oh god, the thoughts sounded evil even in my own head, there was no way of expressing my fears for Chakotay without sounding as though I wished Tom had not survived his accident.

It wasn‘t true.

I had always had a soft spot for the reckless young pilot and I had been proud to discover new depths of courage and fortitude in Tom during the last year. Even so, I could barely hide my own disquiet at sharing the bridge with him.

I was the Captain of Voyager. I was responsible for each and every one of her crew. How much longer could I risk their lives in trying to make Tom feel useful? How could I let my own First Officer throw his life away on such a hopeless cause?

I couldn‘t run a Starship with a First Officer who was married to a cripple. If we came under fire Chakotay would inevitably be too distracted by the need to ensure Tom‘s safety to do his duty properly. As it had been so succinctly put by one of my predecessors, the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few, or the one. Even if the one was Tom Paris.

As though he could see my thoughts, Chakotay glared at me coldly.

"You misunderstood me, Captain. I was not asking for your permission to marry Tom. Our personal life is the one matter in which even YOU cannot interfere. I was merely asking that you perform the ceremony for us." He said with stiff pride.

Looking at the dangerous glint in Chakotay‘s eyes, I realised that it was time to back off a little. A battle often needed to be won with tact and compromise instead of phaser-fire.

"I am not saying that I object to the marriage," I lied. "I am just concerned about the speed of your decision. Don‘t you think it would be better to wait a little?"

"I‘m not going to change my mind, Captain." Chakotay snapped rudely.

"I‘m not suggesting that you should, Chakotay, but it is usual in these situations to have a waiting period, an engagement. I am asking you to set a date for the wedding in say, three months, and if you are both still sure that your decision is permanent then I would be proud to conduct the ceremony." I said smoothly.

"Tom won‘t understand the delay." Chakotay argued.

"Of course he will. We have so few supplies at the moment and our energy reserves are low. I am sure that everyone will want to attend your wedding and you can hardly serve leola root stew at the reception. Besides, I am sure Tom will want a proper ceremony and it will take time for you to arrange it."

"Yes" Chakotay sighed, his anger forgotten, "You‘re right Kathryn, I want our wedding to be the most wonderful day ever for Tom, he has so little else to look forward to. An engagement is a wonderful idea. The anticipation will make the result even more enjoyable for him."

"I‘m glad you understand, Chakotay"

"I‘m sorry I misjudged you, Kathryn" Chakotay apologized.

He was ashamed of his over reaction to the Captain‘s comments. She was right, of course, and his rudeness had been unforgivable.

"I am only concerned because I care for you, Chakotay. I am not sure that you are making the right decision but I agree that it is yours alone to make and I will support you fully if you decide to go ahead with the wedding. .As long as you wait a few months."

"You win, Captain" Chakotay grinned, his face creasing into the dimples that I had seen so rarely since Tom‘s accident.

I remember being pleased with myself for buying time. Time for both Tom and Chakotay to realise that they were making a mistake. I was so sure that it was the right thing to do. For them, as well as the rest of Voyager‘s crew.

That‘s all I can say in my defense - my intention was good.

It is in such small ways that all huge disasters start. An earthquake begins with the smallest quiver. A tidal wave starts as a ripple on an otherwise calm ocean. The kicking of a single pebble starts an avalanche.

If I had not interfered Chakotay and Tom would have been married.

That would have changed everything.

None of the tragic events that unfolded from that point on would have happened if their wedding had already taken place.

If I hadn‘t been pretending to look for supplies for the wedding reception, we wouldn‘t have met the V‘rakn‘hal and Tom wouldn‘t have been able to walk up the aisle to his own wedding.

If the red alert hadn‘t interrupted the ceremony, surely Chakotay would have felt bound by his vows to Tom.

And if Tom had still been crippled, I know Chakotay wouldn‘t have left him.

So it‘s all my fault. I have to live with that.

And all that I can say is - I meant well.