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 39


As the door closed behind him, Tom collapsed like a marionette that
had abruptly had its strings cut.

Wincing at the loud crack as his knees hit the floor; I rushed
forward and dropped to his side, hugging him fiercely as he rocked in

"Why did you do it, Tom?" I asked him in bewilderment, having heard
and honestly believed Chakotay's declaration of love.

For a long time Tom didn't answer, he just leaned into the comfort of
my arms as though he wanted to be absorbed right into the warmth of
my body.

"I can't take it anymore, Haz" he finally whispered "I can't survive
being left again."

"But why are you so sure that he will leave you?" I asked in
confusion, conveniently forgetting that I had agreed with his
reasoning earlier.

"The tattoo" Tom replied quietly

"I don't understand."

"Chakotay told me Angel was living on Dorvan with his family. I know
that Angel didn't have the tattoo when Chakotay last saw him so that
means it was Chakotay's family that did it for him."

"And that means?" I asked, bemused by Tom's line of thought

"It means they have accepted Angel as being Chakotay's life partner."

"But Chakotay is a grown man, he isn't bound by his family's wishes.
Sure they might be upset if he returns with you instead of Angel, but
that's his choice, not theirs."

"Don't you think that Chakotay will have enough problems reconciling
his choice without his whole family hating me?" Tom whispered. "I
remember what it's like to be hated by everyone. I can't deal with it
again. I won't cope and Chakotay will resent me and then he'll leave
me again. He always leaves me when we have problems."

I knew that Tom's logic was flawed, but I could also see it from his
point of view. I doubted that Chakotay would leave him under the
circumstances, but I could see that Tom wouldn't be able to deal with
being ostracized.

"You don't have to live on Dorvan, Tom. There's a whole galaxy of
planets to choose from. You might even want to stay in Starfleet."

"Sure, Haz, Starfleet always gives jobs to ex-criminals with a record
of suicide attempts." Tom said bitterly. "They might offer Chakotay a
job, but not me, not now."

I feared Tom was correct. While his record on Voyager was excellent,
not unblemished but then none of us had behaved perfectly for the
last six and a half years, I doubted he would pass even the first
stage of a Starfleet psyche evaluation.

"Anyway, there's always the chance I'll have to go back to Auckland."
Tom muttered sadly

"No way, Tom." I spluttered angrily, "We have already received
notification that the Maquis are going to be pardoned. They can
hardly hold your old sentence against you and let the others go."

Then I had a sudden thought.

"What did your father's letter say?" I asked curiously, I knew that
there had been a letter for Tom in the stack of messages from Angel's

"I don't know, I haven't read it" Tom confessed

"Why the hell not, Tom?"

"I was too scared" he whispered "I couldn't handle any more bad news

I could understand that, although after his father's last
transmission I was positive he had nothing to worry about.

"How about I read it first Tom and check it's okay?"

Tom looked up at me gratefully

"Would you, Haz? And - and if it's bad, don't tell me, okay? Just
wipe it and don't mention it again." He said sadly

"Sure, Tom." I replied, "Why don't you go and lie down again while I
do that?"

His sad, exhausted eyes met mine for a moment and I knew that he
understood what I was really saying, that I wasn't going to take my
eyes off him unless I knew he was safely out of harms way.

"Okay, Haz" he said in defeat and shuffled to the bedroom, his limp
more pronounced because of his sheer exhaustion.

Sadly I watched him go, more concerned by his immediate agreement
than anything we had talked about, not relaxing until I saw him climb
under the bedcovers, then I turned to the terminal and accessed his

(Three weeks later)


The ship was a veritable hive of activity. People were scurrying
everywhere in their frenetic preparations for the journey home. There
was a strange mixed atmosphere of excited happiness and dread.
Enough rumors had flown in the last three weeks to make everyone sit
back and take stock of their own situations.

Since the successful installation of the new warp drive, the return
home had become a real possibility and tangled inexorably with the
excitement was a fair amount of worry. People had made new
relationships over the years; a lot of people were going back to a
similar scenario to that which had faced Chakotay. It had been
vividly brought home to everyone that our triumphant return would
bring as much unhappiness to our loved ones as relief.

Even those people, like Sam, who had remained faithful, realised that
they had grown and changed into new people who might no longer fit in
with their previous lives. Our experiences in the Delta Quadrant had
inevitably changed us all. We were no longer the same people who had
set foot on Voyager's maiden voyage all those years previously.

The Starfleet crew were unsure of their future. Despite my initial
desire to keep the ship running under strict Starfleet rules and
reg's, inevitably rules had been bent and broken in our effort to
survive so many years alone in space.  The thought of being re-
assigned onto other more-regulation ships, now we had forged this
close-knit community, was more than a lot of people could face.

Then there was Seven. She was dreading reaching Earth. All of
B'Elanna's reassurances were of no avail. Seven was positive that the
Starfleet scientists would insist on examining her Borg implants and
that the Hansens would be appalled to discover that their only
grandchild was a Borg drone. B'Elanna had told me that they would
probably disembark at Deep Space 9 and go to the Klingon homeworld

My family was already breaking up and we hadn't even reached the
Alpha Quadrant yet.

At least Admiral Paris had the foresight to send us official
notification of the intended pardon for the Maquis members of my
crew. That, at least, was one worry that we could put aside.

Harry had also informed me that Tom's sentence had been commuted into
time served. He had apparently read Tom's personal letter from his
father. The Admiral had used the letter in an attempt to build
bridges with Tom, he was eager to take Tom back into the family.
That, at least, was a crumb of comfort for the pilot.

I still was unsure of why Tom had chosen to turn Chakotay away. I was
uncertain whether his decision was right or wrong and I had decided
that it was not my business to pry any further. Tuvok had kept me
informed of the progress of his counseling sessions but had only told
me the bare minimum necessary for me to know in my role as the
Captain. What other secrets he discovered remained private between
him and Tom.

My actions in Tom and Chakotay's relationship had been unforgivable.
This close to a way home, I could finally admit to myself that the
pressure of being Voyager's captain and responsible for so many lives
for so long had simply become too much to bear.

Nobody should be expected to carry the burden I had for so long. No
Starfleet Captain had ever had to face the terrible decisions that I
had made without any support. Even the legendary five-year mission of
the original Enterprise had been within communications range of
Starfleet headquarters.

It was not surprising that I had finally allowed my emotions to
overcome my training. It wasn't an excuse, but it was an explanation.
Besides, my actions had not turned out to be completely wrong.
Admittedly, if I had never interfered Tom and Chakotay would have
been married and Tom would not have had his breakdown.

On the other hand, if I hadn't suggested the delay, Tom wouldn't have
bought a wedding ring on Y'ndoria and so we would have never learnt
about the V'rakn'hal. Admiral Paris's son would have been returned to
him sounder in mind, but in a wheelchair.

Like Tuvok said, things weren't black and white, they were various
shades of grey.

As for Chakotay, he was back on duty. Angel had moved into one of the
guest quarters and was obviously biding his time, sure that Chakotay
would eventually come back to him.  It was pathetic really. Although
I was concerned for Tom's emotional state, his proud rejection of
Chakotay was far more admirable in my opinion than the way Angel was
obviously content to accept ultimately being Chakotay's second choice.

In the meantime, though, Angel was being invaluable in the
preparation of Voyager for the journey home. He had a brilliant
scientific mind; quickly adapting his technology to fit in with the
Borg adaptations that had been installed during our long voyage.

He even had fitted in well with the crew. Despite the general
antipathy towards Chakotay, which admittedly was lessening as people
started to empathize with his position, Angel's stunning beauty
quickly overcame almost all hostility.

He was almost Borg-like in his ability to neutralize all resistance
to his charm. And of course it helped that he had brought us a way

The only real fly in the ointment was that I didn't have a good
enough pilot for the journey through the wormhole. The only member of
the crew with the necessary skill to successfully navigate it was Tom
and there was no way I was going to let him do it.

Quite apart from the immense pressure to perform that would be heaped
on his fragile shoulders, I couldn't risk the lives of the crew on a
pilot with a death wish. I knew that he would do his best, would
never intentionally put our lives at risk, but then again Tuvok had
confirmed to me that Tom's suicide attempt had been done in a fugue,
it had been a virtually subconscious reaction to his grief. There was
no guarantee that he wouldn't re-lapse under the stress of the moment.

It seemed so unfair, that after his many daring exploits at Voyager's
helm, he would be denied the honor of finally guiding her home.