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!)

Part 28


I met Tom at the transporter room as he was waiting for the
V'rakn'hal to collect him. Of course, I had been in the Mess Hall
earlier when most of the crew had gathered to say goodbye and good
luck to Tom. It had been a really touching and emotional moment and
Tom had begun to cry.

Seeing his distress, the Captain had asked everyone other than his
closest friends to give Tom a little privacy for his final departure
and Chakotay had guided him away to prepare.

Sure that I was included in that elite group of close friends, I had
hurried to say my own private goodbye. B'Elanna, the Captain and The
Doctor were all leaving as I entered the room and I was therefore not
terribly surprised to find Tom alone, except that one person's
absence stuck out like a sore thumb.

"Where's Chakotay?" I asked with concern. Surely he would be
transporting down with Tom and making sure he was settled?

"He's gone ahead to talk with the V'rakn'hal doctors and arrange for
his own accommodation at the hospital."

Tom saw my surprise and continued ruefully.

"He's insisting on staying with me even though I'll be out of it the
whole time. I told him to just go off and enjoy himself for a change.
He's been looking after me for months and from what I understand,
even if the operation is successful I'll still need weeks of therapy
to walk again. I wanted him to take this time as a kind of vacation."

"I understand what you mean, Tom but you're not being realistic. He
is hardly going to run around pretending to be on holiday while you
are in the hospital. I mean everybody is looking forwards to a month
of shoreleave but we all know why we are here, and no one is going to
really relax until it's over."

"I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to go through with it." Tom mused

"Has he said so?" I asked in surprise.

I had heard nothing but public support from Chakotay for Tom's
decision. He admittedly had not been as enthusiastic as I might have
expected, but then again we were all conscious of the substantial
danger to Tom and it had sobered all celebrations.

"Not in so many words. He's probably just worried about the risk but,
I know this is going to sound weird, but I also get the feeling that
he doesn't really WANT me to get better."

"That's crazy, Tom. Why the hell wouldn't he want you to be cured?"

Despite my angry words, I was worried by the possibility he was
right. It was obvious to all of us recently that Chakotay seemed to
almost relish his role as Tom's champion. Sue and I had already
discussed several concerns over Chakotay's apparent obsession with
looking after Tom. As much as it was wonderful for Tom, sometimes it
just didn't seem 'right'.

"I dunno, Haz, maybe it's a spiritual thing, perhaps it seems to him
that I am struggling against my fate." Tom said thoughtfully "It's
like he thinks this happened for a reason. To give us a chance to be
together. He thinks that my wanting to take the risk means that our
relationship doesn't mean as much to me as it does to him."

"Shit, that must really piss you off!"

"I guess it ought to, but it's comforting too. He really cares. He
just has a fatalistic attitude to life. If he hadn't, I wouldn't have
gotten this far!"

"There's a difference between fatalistic and selfish..." I started to
say but Tom's eyes warned me not to go there.

"Promise me something, Haz."

"Anything, Tom."

"If I - if I don't come back, give the ring to Chakotay and tell him
how much I loved him. That just being with him has made the last year
the best time of my whole life, despite everything."

"Then why risk it, Tom? He loves you as you are now.  Perhaps he's
right about things being meant to be this way." I said abruptly,
suddenly being selfish myself. I couldn't bear to think that I might
never see Tom again.

"Get a grip, Haz.  Would you stay like this if you had the chance of
a cure?" Tom laughed bitterly

"No, I'm not as brave as you Tom. I would have given up long before

"I would have too, except for Chakotay.  I want to get better for his
sake too. I know I'm a burden to him."

"He doesn't mind, Tom. He enjoys looking after you."

"Maybe too much" Tom said sadly

"What do you mean?" I asked, although to tell the truth I knew
exactly what he was saying, and I agreed.

"That being cured is the only way I'll ever know..." Tom's voice
trailed off and he stared blindly into some inner space

"Know what?" I prompted gently

"Whether he really loves me at all" Tom looked at me with eyes full
of hurt and confusion

"I sometimes think that when I'm well again, he'll leave me. As often
as I have prayed for a cure there's been this other voice that warned
me that the price of walking again would be Chakotay leaving me."

"Never, Tom. Chakotay would never leave you!" I cried in
astonishment. "He loves you in spite of your injuries, not because of

"You sound so sure, Haz. I wish I was."

"You'll see for yourself soon."

"Yeah, I guess." Tom said sadly, unconvinced.

Before I could say anything else, the transporter pads glowed and two
V'rakn'hal medics appeared and began to quietly and efficiently
arrange for Tom's departure.

At the last minute, just before his atoms scattered, I yelled

"Don't you dare die on me Tom Paris!"

And he gave me a cocky, flyboy grin and disappeared.


It had been a terrible four weeks for me. I was exhausted by my daily
efforts to keep dragging Chakotay away from Tom's room and out into
the cool morning sun of V'rakn.

It was a beautiful, climate-controlled planet. Even though we were in
the midst of their natural winter, the chill was minimal and the
scenery breath taking. Chakotay and I took long quiet walks around
the landscape. Each day I managed to keep him away from Tom for a
little longer.

I had landed Voyager on the surface and given unrestricted shoreleave
to the whole crew. It had been a peaceful rest for everyone in the
midst of our long journey. Despite the underlying strain in
everyone's faces as the countdown to Tom's emergence crept onwards,
the shore leave had been undoubtedly beneficial too. I could see
serenity in people that had not existed for years.

Except for Chakotay. Despite my insistence on taking him physically
from Tom's side, he always seemed to leave his soul behind with Tom.
Sometimes he even seemed to enjoy my company but his smiles were pale
ghosts, wraith-like expressions that flittered only briefly before
vanishing as though they had never existed.

I was conscious of the difficulties that faced him. Either Tom would
not be revived and Chakotay would have to rejoin our journey home
bereft and grieving, or Tom would be cured and I just knew Chakotay's
life would still change dramatically for the worse.

I could not see Chakotay and Tom remaining together. I had never
understood their attraction for each other in the first place. I
remembered the atmosphere between them directly before Tom's accident
and shuddered at the thought of them trying to stay in a relationship
if Tom survived.

A healthy Tom would surely revert to the cocky flyboy he had been
before, perhaps even worse with so much time to make up for. I knew
Chakotay would not cope with the rebirth of the irrepressible pilot's
true personality. I had grown to understand that Chakotay had a need
to nurture and protect and I doubted a healthy Tom Paris would be
willing to fulfil that need for him.

So I spent those four weeks trying to wean Chakotay off Tom. Daily
dragging him away for longer and longer periods. Desperately trying
to sever the unhealthy umbilical cord that seemed to tie the two men

One day I pointed out to him that while he was obviously serious
about Tom, it was unlikely that Tom would feel the same way once he
was better. He was furious with me at first:

"Tom and I will be married in six weeks. That's hardly the action of
people who don't love each other!"

"Do you really think that you will still get married?" I asked in

"Why not?" Chakotay asked in confusion, "of course we will, only now
Tom will be able to dance at the reception." And he gave a dreamy
smile at the thought that made my blood boil.

"I hate to say this Chakotay, but everything has changed. Tom has
never had a proper relationship with anyone. To be honest he has
slept with more people on the ship than I can count. Don't
misunderstand me, I'm not criticizing him, just stating a fact. Tom
never indicated any desire to be monogamous before he was paralyzed."

"Are you saying you think he only agreed to marry me because he had
no other offers?" Chakotay snarled, hurt and outrage warring on his

"Honestly? I'm sorry, Chakotay, but yes! He needed you, but he isn't
going to need you anymore when he's cured."

"You're wrong, Captain." He snapped, the hurt and distress evident in
his face. I knew that I had struck a raw nerve.  He strode away back
to the hospital so quickly that I didn't have a chance of following.

I felt guilty at hurting him but I knew that it was better for him to
face up to the truth.

We walked together every day afterwards, always discussing the same
topic. Every scene he quoted to prove Tom's love for him was met by
my reasonable explanations that Tom had only reacted in each instance
because of his fear and helplessness.

Chakotay's arguments grew less confident, more pensive. He started to
doubt every memory. I could see the uncertainty playing in his mind,
gnawing at him endlessly.

He began to protest less at leaving the hospital with me and began to
help me sometimes with the negotiations for supplies that I was
conducting with the V'rakn'hal government.  He began to make plans
for Voyager's return home.  He stopped mentioning the wedding.

In this way he spent the last weeks of Tom's hospitalization being
prepared by me to say goodbye to Tom, one way or another. I was
pleased and relieved that my words had caused him to re-evaluate his
relationship with Tom. I was sure that I was doing the right thing to
help ease his hurt, whatever the outcome of Tom's treatment.

In retrospect, I wonder whether my motives were truly as pure as I
thought at the time.

Again, I meddled where I had no right.

Who knows what might have happened if I had left them alone to
resolve their own relationship?

Would the tragedy have been averted or had the seeds of their
destruction already been planted, my words only helping them
germinate to an unavoidable conclusion?