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 45


In the event, three days was enough to make my already abused body
decide to give up the ghost, as it were.

By the third day I was vaguely aware of an increasing lethargy and
the fact that my quarters were becoming increasingly uncomfortable
and hot. But it wasn't until the fourth morning that I found myself
unable to even get out of bed to answer the insistent chime at my

My eyelids were too heavy to open, my limbs no more responsive than
during my paralysis.  As though from a great distance I heard a low
gasp, followed by hurried footsteps retreating and then returning
with companions.

"He's in a fever" I heard a voice say

"Oh shit, I think he's dying" came a flustered rejoinder

I think I smiled at the confirmation that it was all over. I wouldn't
even have to face the Admiral now. He would be saved the
embarrassment of facing his fuck-up of a son, after all.

I let the darkness descend over me and faded into dreams, wondering
vaguely whether there was an afterlife and if so, what would hell be


By the time Voyager reached Deep Space 9, my prediction to Tom had
come true. A myriad of ships surrounded us, guiding us home in glory.
The atmosphere on Voyager was electric.

Despite my underlying fear for Tom and my worry at the delay, I could
not escape the general excitement completely. The overall enthusiasm
was infectious. Besides, I had my own role as counselor to play for
those crewmembers that were facing our return with an equal measure
of hope and dread.

Angel was invaluable to me during this time. He fussed over me like a
mother hen. Checking I was eating and sleeping, repeatedly assuring
me that as soon as everyone was settled we would go post-haste to

Only I was beginning to wonder whether I should actually go.

Angel's complete acceptance of my choice had been humbling. His noble
offer to rush me to Earth to fetch Tom was so unexpected that I found
myself truly liking him for the first time ever.

Strange that, to admit that I had never really liked him before. In
fact, considering the fact that my relationship with Tom had
convinced me that I had never really loved Angel either, I was
bewildered as to exactly why I had got involved with the Heran in the
first place.

And as shameful as it was to finally admit it to myself, the answer
was simply lust. For all my pretense at spirituality and my
pretentious lectures on the sanctity of my promises, the sad sorry
truth was that as far as Angel was concerned I had always done all of
my thinking with my balls.

Some bloody Shaman I had turned out to be.

I think that it was this realization that made me finally turn back
to my beliefs for guidance. I was cast adrift in a sea of
uncertainty, I couldn't see past chasing after Tom, reclaiming him,
losing him again and so on ad infinitum.

Our spiral of hurt and reconciliation would continue until we were
both destroyed.

It was time to stop listening to my own doubts, not to mention the
interference of others. Unless I could find clarity of vision, unless
I could find a new path to walk, there was no point in following Tom
after all.

It was time to seek the guidance of my spiritual guide and this time
I wouldn't just hear what I wanted to hear, I would finally seek the


I was in a clearing in a vast dense forest.

Although I had no idea how I had got there, I figured that this meant
I was probably dead.  I wasn't frightened just somewhat bewildered by
the peaceful scene. I hadn't had enough spiritual upbringing to have
a complete hell and brimstone version of the afterlife in my head,
but I think I had always imagined something like B'Elanna's Barge of
the Dead.

I looked around the deserted clearing, expecting to see the ghosts of
all the people who I had wronged. There was no one, no accusing
fingers, no angry voices, I was alone.

Alone.  It sank in slowly and then I began to laugh hysterically. Of
course, hell for me was this, being alone, always being alone.

I sank to my knees and began to cry piteously. I barely heard the
rustle of feathers in the branches above me, but then I was struck on
the head by a particularly large twig.  Looking up in annoyance I saw
a splendid bird. It was like the picture of an Eagle that I had once
seen on a vid, only its coloration was that of fiery red-gold.

Its bright eyes blinked at me knowingly. Rubbing my sore forehead I
cursed at it furiously

"Damn stupid bird, bet you did that on purpose"

When it replied, I nearly fainted.

"Well I had to do something to get your attention, Tom Paris."

The words didn't come from its beak, but simply arrived inside my
head. So I figured that I was probably not dead after all, I was
dreaming, or I had finally gone insane, or maybe it was my fever.

"You're not real" I told the bird derisively.

"I'm as real as you want me to be, Tom" The bird replied kindly "I
live inside your heart where all dreams are possible."

"So who are you? Where am I? What is this place." I asked, gesturing
around myself.

"I am your spirit guide, Tom. This place is the beginning of your
vision quest."

I laughed in complete astonishment. Shit, the bird obviously had me
confused with Chakotay!

"Wrong Tribe" I mocked "I don't believe in this, don't believe in

"Then why did you choose to come here?" The bird enquired in confusion

"I didn't choose to come here" I spat

"You prepared yourself, Tom. You threw away your past, you let go of
your preconceptions, you gave up your old persona, you fasted your
body to allow your soul to be fed."

"But...I - I - oh, no you don't understand, I just wanted to die" I
replied in confusion

"You still may, Tom, if you choose to. But first I think we should

Fuck, I thought desperately, now I had a bloody bird as a counselor.
Mind you, it couldn't be worse than Tuvok, I reminded myself and the
thought actually made me laugh.

I looked up at the bird with a wry smile, this was my fantasy, and I
may as well play it through to the end

"So what are you? Some kind of Eagle?"

"I am Passamaquoddy, the Thunderbird" the bird preened, ruffling it's
chest feathers in pride

"What the hell's a Thunderbird?" I asked rudely

"When the world was new, before people even had tamed fire, I walked
as a man. Then in my quest to discover the secrets of the elements,
the answer to the storms, I journeyed further than anyone had ever
been before. But I couldn't see the answer to my questions, I was
unable to grasp the new truths I discovered, I was too bound by the
weight of my own past.

"So the spirits broke my body, pounded it until it was crushed and
then I was molded into a new shape, I was given wings and I became
the Thunderbird."

"Like a phoenix" I muttered, figuring that was the snippet of
folklore my diseased brain had dragged up to create this fantasy

"Whatever. It's the same legend. Out of destruction comes hope; out
of the death of the past comes rebirth. That is your choice Tom, to
die eternally or be reborn.

"It's too late for anything else. Your body is ravaged by fever, your
mind is splintered and shattered, your soul has been crushed. Only
you can accept your new wings and become the Thunderbird."

I was amazed at the inventiveness of my own insanity. Wow!

"So why are you here?" I asked, intrigued despite myself.

"In a far off land, a great Shaman is reaching out to you, Tom, but
the distance is too far and his magic is too weak."

"And his communication system is off-line" I snapped sarcastically

The Thunderbird blinked in obvious annoyance.

"Why do you always insist on blaming others for your own failures,
Tom?" Passamaquoddy asked

I blinked in astonishment. Even my own creation was blaming me for
Chakotay's betrayal now.

"He doesn't love me." I hissed, "He doesn't give a damn about me."

"You know that is not true."  The bird snapped waspishly, sounding
ridiculously like the Doctor.

"He doesn't love me enough" I amended sheepishly

"Perhaps, but he is only human. Besides his spirit is earthbound, he
travels the spirit plain on four-legs, close to the earth, unable to
see the glory of the heavens. You can soar Tom, you have wings.
Instead of letting him crush you down, why don't you raise him up?"

For a moment I considered the bird's advice. Wondering for the first
time why I had always meekly accepted Chakotay's treatment of me.
Why the hell hadn't I fought harder myself? Then I remembered Angel
and my sudden flare of spirit deflated like a pricked balloon.

"He has Angel, he doesn't need me."

"The Thunderbird fights for what he wants, he scatters his enemies,
he does not slink away like a thief in the night. Your spirit is not
that of the coyote, Tom, stop acting like one" The bird scolded

"What's the point in fighting for him? He will just leave me again.
He always leaves me. I can't deal with any more pain."

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. Without
experiencing sadness you cannot appreciate joy. When you are together
it is the most wonderful thing you can imagine, isn't it?"

"What's the point if it's only until he leaves me again?"

"He leaves you because you let him go. Think about it Tom. Every
single time that your relationship fell apart, you had the chance to
step in and stop it. You were too proud, too hurt to make him stop
and listen. If you had talked to him the misunderstandings would not
have happened." Passamaquoddy said bluntly

"That's true of Chakotay too. He could have stopped. He could have
talked. It was his fault as much as mine." I sulked

"That's true. Perhaps he isn't worth loving after all." The bird
commented wryly.

"He is my life." I whispered "Loving him isn't a choice. It's who I

"Then fight for your life. Put on your wings. Be the Thunderbird Tom.
Go back and take what has been denied you."

"What if he laughs at me? What if he hates me? What if he still
chooses Angel?"

"Then you will be no worse off than you are now, Tom and at least you
will know that you didn't simply give in. There is no humiliation in
defeat, only in cowardice."

"You think I've been a coward?" I asked sadly

"I think you have been hurt unbearably, you have had to go away and
lick your wounds. But like metal forged in the hottest fire, you are
strong now, stronger than you have ever been, strong enough to face
this challenge."

"I don't feel strong," I admitted

"I will be with you, Tom. We will be strong together. We are the


I wandered through the forest in search of my spirit guide, but she
was strangely elusive. I was not surprised that she was avoiding me,
I had become a stranger in this holy place.

I finally stumbled into a clearing only to stop in surprise at the
sight of an old Shaman sitting on a rock beneath an overhanging
branch. The old man was playing with a bright red-gold eagle tail-

"Father" I whispered softly "Help me, advise me, please"

Kolopak looked up at me with a wry smile. He lifted his hand so that
the sun glinted off the feather, colors like blazing fire rippled
through its length and I was captivated.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" He said to me

"Yes it is" I agreed, it was the colour of Tom's hair.

"But then you've always been a fool for beauty, haven't you?" My
father chided gently

"I've certainly been a fool." I admitted "Help me to know how to put
things right."

"My son, you have brought this on yourself. Your greed has cost you

"Greed? I don't understand."

"Sit here, my son and listen to me for once:

A long time ago, even before the time of the flood, the River
provided food for our people. Each year, at the end of summer, when
the salmon came home to spawn, the people would cast their cedar root
nets into the water and get enough fish for the winter to come.
One day, a man came to fish for food for his family for the winter.
He looked into the river and found that many fish were coming home
this year. He said thanks to the spirit of the fish, for giving
themselves as food for his family, and cast his net into the river
and waited. In time, he drew his nets in, and they were full of fish,
enough for his family for the whole year. He packed these away into
cedar bark baskets, and prepared to go home.
But he looked into the river, and saw all those fish, and decided to
cast his net again. And he did so, and it again filled with fish, but
this time, when he pulled his net in, sticks, stumps and branches
that filled the net, tore it beyond repair. To his dismay, the fish
on the shore and the fish in the cedar bark baskets were also sticks
and branches. He had no fish, his nets were ruined.
It was then he looked up at the mountain, and saw the spirit
protecting the tribe, who told him that he had broken the faith with
the river and with nature, by taking more than he needed for himself.
And this was the consequence."
My father was quiet then, allowing his words to sink in.
"Then in taking Tom to my heart I broke faith with the Spirits" I
I had promised myself to listen to my vision and believe. I had not
expected the lesson to be so disappointing.
Kolopak snorted impatiently at my words, sighing in exasperation at
my apparent denseness.
"What was the use of your Vision Quest? Have you never learnt the
lessons of your spirit guide? No wonder she told me that I needed to
sort your head out for you." He muttered furiously
"Wolves choose their mates wisely and do not part until death, this
makes the two spiritually entwined. Angel was never your spiritual
partner, my son, you knew this always and yet you were unwilling to
let him go. You allowed your greed to drive away the only person who
will ever make you whole. Tom is the other half of your spirit, the
keeper of your soul."
I gaped in disbelief. Then it truly was Tom who belonged with me, as
I had hoped, as I had always truly known. Only I feared that my
realisation had come too late.
"I have hurt him past endurance, father. He will not forgive me." I

My father looked down to his lap, where the beautiful feather lay,
its delicate length ruffled by the slight breeze.

"Passamaquoddy can tame the winds alternating between calm and
storms. Surely he can also shine the light of his mind on your
actions and illuminate these things with wisdom and understanding.
That is the Way of Wisdom." Kolopak muttered quietly.

I looked at him in complete confusion.

"I don't understand. Who is Passamaquoddy? What has he got to do with
Tom and me? What is it that I have to do?"

In response my father just smiled enigmatically

"You'll understand when the time is right" he promised and
immediately my vision began to fade around me.

I was thrust rudely back into the real world, now certain that Tom
was my true mate but without a clue as to what my next course of
action should be.