The Edge
By Morticia


Disclaimer: Well, actually I can't be bothered - so go ahead and sue me!

Part 1 of 3

Rating : R for language.

Warning: ** Typical Mort Angst Alert **

"The Edge"

Tom's heart sank as the Captain's words sank in. Two weeks. Two whole
fucking weeks. The prospect made his stomach churn. Two fucking weeks alone
with Chakotay and the Delta Flyer.

Shit. If karma truly existed then he had definitely pissed off a whole slew
of gods in some previous existence. Klingon Gods, probably. The real
vengeful kind.

He tried his trademark grin, deliberately flashing his baby blues at
Janeway, his face schooled into a picture of innocence.

"As much as I appreciate the assignment, under the circumstances, Captain, I
think that it would be a great opportunity for Baytart to get some hands-on
experience in the Flyer. Besides, what if you run into trouble? I really
think that I should stay at the helm of Voyager, Ma'am. Just in case."

He tried to ignore the sorts of amusement from Harry and B'Elanna, and the
expression of pure disgust on Chakotay's face, at his obvious attempt to
avoid the mission. To be honest, he didn't give a damn what they thought.
The bottom line was that Chakotay hated him and there was no way in hell he
was going to spend two weeks alone with him without a fight.

"The Betlanni have assured us safe passage to their home world, Lieutenant,"
Captain Janeway replied. "It is an ideal opportunity for us to refuel and
gather provisions. In the meantime, the Commander and yourself can continue
the exploration of this nebula. Seven reports that the third planet is not
only uninhabited, but is rich in useful ore deposits. I want you and
Chakotay to map the region in the flyer and pinpoint the most suitable sites
for excavation.

"We will return to collect you in less than a fortnight. I am sure that
Voyager can manage to survive your absence for that long," she added

As Tom ducked his eyes from Chakotay's stony glare, he decided that it wasn'
t 'Voyager's' survival that was worrying him as much as his own.

Sure, a casual onlooker might think that he and Chakotay had put aside their
differences, but that was only because they were both careful to keep a mask
of camaraderie on show for the rest of the crew.

As soon as they were alone, which was fortunately not too often, Chakotay's
face would stiffen back into its expression of distaste, and Tom would find
his own features contorting into a defensive cocky grin.

Dammit, he HAD tried. He had saved the bastard's life hadn't he? Then he had
flushed out the traitor and thereby saved them all. So, okay, he had enjoyed
decking the Commander as part of his charade, but that was only because he
was pig-sick of the way Chakotay was being so publicly understanding of his
'problems' while taking every private opportunity to berate Tom for being
the fuck-up and coward that he believed him.

That had been five years ago. Five fucking years and still Chakotay loathed
him. It didn't matter what he did, or how hard he tried, still the Commander
blanked him.

It hurt most that Chakotay never did it in public anymore. Hell, no. In
front of the others, Chakotay would laugh at his jokes, would pat him on the
shoulder for a job well done, would even condescend to play pool with him if
the eagle-bright eyes of the Captain were watching.

Yet, the moment they were alone, in the turbolift, or the corridor, or even
when Sandrines had finally emptied to leave them without witnesses, the mask
of disgust would settle back on Chakotay's face and he would stalk silently
away, without even a goodbye, as though even the act of existing within the
space that Tom breathed offended him.

So, of late, Tom had avoided him. It had been months since he had allowed
himself to be within the Commander's proximity, except during staff meetings
and duty shifts.

The idea of two weeks alone with the Commander in the close confines of the
Delta Flyer and possibly the even closer confines of a sleeping tent, if
they landed on the planet, was enough to make him want to howl.

The worst of it was, that he was pretty damned sure that the Captain was
doing it deliberately. She probably had some fucked-up idea of forcing them
into some bizarre 'male-bonding' crap.

Tom had too much respect for Janeway's acumen to believe that she had fallen
for their pretence of comradeship.
She was probably taking the opportunity of the Betlanni's invitation to try
and make him and Chakotay settle their differences. The problem was, that
some people just weren't destined to hit it off.

Chakotay had hated him from the first moment he had set eyes on him, and no
matter how hard Tom had tried to break through the other man's obvious
disgust, all he had ever seemed to do was dig an ever deeper pit in which to
flounder, as Chakotay tossed words of derision down onto his head like

Two weeks alone, to put right five years of mutual antipathy?

Shit, two fucking years wouldn't help.


"You're drifting off course again, Lieutenant," Chakotay snapped. "If you
are too bored to pay attention, I am sure I could find some other task to
occupy you."

"Maybe you'd like to fly, Sir? I mean it would be a good opportunity for you
to crash a different style of shuttle wouldn't it?" Tom drawled back, his
face carefully blank in contrast to his mocking tone.

It was the third day, they were finally approaching orbit of the tiny
planetoid that Seven had directed them to, and their painful silences had
given way to petty bickering, more at home in a nursery than a Star Fleet
vessel in Chakotay's opinion.

Of course, the Star Fleet Vessel in question was a shuttle so small that he
couldn't escape the scent of Tom's body and it was driving him to

Even within the confines of Voyager, Chakotay had been able to keep his
distance from the infuriating pilot. This was the first time that he had
been forced into a long-term, one-on-one situation with the man who had
dominated every waking hour of his existence for five years, and not a small
proportion of his dreams too.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, Chakotay had identified Tom as his enemy the
first time he had cast eyes on the younger man's cocky, irritating and
undeniably beautiful face.

In that first moment, he had weighed Tom up and had identified the danger
that he posed. As sparkling and beautiful as a finely polished knife. A
tease. A heartbreaker. His looks as cunning and deadly a camouflage, as the
multi-hued scales of a viper were.

Tom's charm was just guile. His smile was that of a ravenous devouring beast
who would steal his heart then rip it asunder, trampling it into the dust
before he stalked off after his next victim.

And there had been enough of those of Voyager to prove him right. One by
one, Tom had worked his way through the lonely hearts of Voyager, using his
looks to seduce and beguile, only to quickly lose interest and move on to
the next vulnerable soul.

Except sometimes in the quiet of his own cabin, alone with his thoughts and
regrets, Chakotay would wonder whether he was being fair in his
interpretation of Tom's wandering affections.

Perhaps Tom was simply as lonely as he was, yet instead of wrapping his
loneliness in a mantle of chastity, he instead skipped like a bee from
flower to flower, hungrily tasting in hope, only to find himself still
dissatisfied and then moving on again.

If he stopped pushing Tom away, if he stopped long enough to let him taste
his nectar, could he tame the bee? Could he addict Tom to the taste of his
own flesh and thereby bind him to him?

It was possible. Hell, anything was possible. But he simply didn't have the

What if he finally let down his defences, dropped the mask of indifference,
and then Tom scorned him? Better to keep his pride than let Tom shatter his
heart, he reminded himself firmly.

"Unless you want to be on report for disrespect to a Senior Officer as WELL
as dereliction of duty, Lieutenant, I suggest you keep your eye on the view
screen and your mouth well and truly shut for the duration of this mission,"
he snapped. He averted his eyes from the look of pain that flashed over Tom'
s face at his harsh reprimand.

It's an act, he told himself. Tom isn't really hurt. It took a conscience
and a heart to be capable of feeling pain and he was pretty damned sure that
Tom didn't possess either.


After a day spent sweeping a low orbit over the planet, mapping the
geological profile and establishing the site where the optimum excavations
could be made with the minimum of effort, Chakotay instructed Tom to land.

He was mildly concerned by the high level of electrical disruption in the
planet's atmosphere, but the computer judged them within acceptable
parameters and he couldn't wait to be free of the confines of the tiny craft
and put as much distance as possible between himself and the pilot.

Four days of Chakotay's snapping discouragement had finally proven Tom to be
less irrepressible than he had imagined. Tom had descended into a major funk
of sulking, now only responding to Chakotay's tense commands with a bitter
"Yes, Sir" and "No, Sir."

Chakotay was finding the resultant near-silent hostility too much to deal
with, although he was at least honest enough to acknowledge that it was
largely his own fault.

If it had been any other member of the crew, he would have made an effort to
be civil, would have been concerned with the morale of his subordinate. As
it was, he was too frightened of over-compensating to offer any apology for
his admittedly unprofessional behaviour.

If he started to apologise to Tom's rigid back, he might find his tongue
running away with him. He might even confess the truth. That the reason he
couldn't hold a civil conversation with the other man was because every time
Tom opened his mouth, Chakotay had an insane desire to thrust his tongue
between Tom's parted lips.

He strapped himself in the passenger seat behind the pilot, relieved that
Tom's back was turned from him so that he could simply enjoy watching the
talented fingers flashing over the helm without having to control his
expression of admiration.

Tom was incapable of doing anything ungracefully, he decided. Even though he
was still rigid with rage from Chakotay's earlier heckling, in the pilot's
seat he was the consummate professional, his concentration evident as he
guided the flyer through a small eddy of storm clouds. Like the rider of an
untamed horse, Tom whispered to the flyer as he flew, his voice low and
melodious as he soothed the craft through the jostling air-currents.

"Okay, honey, that's it, that's right," he whispered as he banked the Flyer
flawlessly through the buffeting of the atmosphere and glided down towards
the ground.

A flurry of rising air currents rocked the ship, but Tom quickly
compensated, his fingers flashing over the controls until the Flyer

"Come on my beauty," Tom whispered, oblivious to his passenger, as the
shuttle battled the electrical currents.

Chakotay closed his eyes, drowning in Tom's words, as a multitude of
fantasies coalesced and he imagined that the endearments were whispered to
him, that the undisputed tone of love was directed not at the non-sentient
Flyer but at him instead.

So he never saw the ball lightening that rose and smote the flyer. It was
only the sound of the explosion that dragged his eyes open in terror, just
in time to see the console erupt in Tom's face.

Spiralling wildly out of control, the shuttle dropped the last fifty feet
like a bomb, impacting on the ground with a screaming grind of twisted

The suddenness of the descent caused Chakotay to black out. He never even
felt his legs snap as his chair was crushed to the floor.

When he woke, he was lying on his side, still strapped into the chair. He
could barely open his eyes for the sticky blood that had poured from his
forehead, matting his hair to his skull before congealing in his eye
sockets. His ribs ached as though they had been kicked by a horse, and he
could feel the straps of his seat harness cutting into his midriff. It was
an effort to even take a breath. The pain was almost insignificant next to
the nauseous waves of agony that flowed from his legs. Somehow, his legs
were folded beneath him, pinned by the broken chair and his own body weight.

"Tom," he gasped, twisting his head frantically to look for the pilot.

The console was just a twisted tangle of warped, smouldering metal and the
pilot's chair had been ripped off its base and hurled through the

Chakotay screamed in horror, his own pain forgotten as he visualised Tom's
body thrown headlong through the shattered screen. Somewhere, outside the
corpse of the Flyer, lay the shattered lifeless body of her pilot.

"TOM!" Chakotay howled, letting all of his pain and misery escape in a roar
of animalistic torment.

It was only when he finally stopped sobbing, and began to realise that he
was alone on this planet, ten days from any possible rescue and unable to
even move from the chair, let alone find a med-kit, that he finally heard a
whimper from the rear of the shuttle.

"Tom? TOM?" He demanded, his fright transforming to relief and then to rage
as the whimpering simply increased in volume.

"Lieutenant, I need HELP, here!" he yelled.

He twisted his head around, still unable to see into the recesses of the
shattered craft where the whimpering sound was coming from.

He's hurt, he reminded himself quietly, trying to calm his urge to scream at
the pilot again. The console exploded in his face, he has to be badly hurt.
That's why he's not responding. Maybe his legs are as mangled as my own.
That's why he isn't coming to help me.

"Tom," he pleaded softly. "Are you hurt? Do you need help?"

He had no idea what he could do if Tom replied yes, but in the darkness of
the twisted cabin, Tom's incessant whimpers were beginning to terrify him.

"Tom?" he repeated, forcing his voice to remain calm. "Can you hear me? Talk
to me, Tom."

The whimpering sobs quietened a little at his soothing tone. Calling on his
spirit guide for strength, Chakotay managed to keep his voice light, despite
his growing unease and the gnawing pain that knifed through his lower body.

"Tom? Come here, Tom. Please," his voice breaking a little on the last word.

He held his breath as he heard a slithering movement from the back of the
cabin. He could hear Tom moving, thank god, and that meant that Tom could
release him, could fetch him the med-kit.

"Come on Tom," he crooned, "come here. Help me."

From the corner of his eyes he saw a skittering movement as Tom appeared in
the doorway only to freeze there, his face pale and eyes huge as he looked
down at the Commander.

Chakotay was torn between relief that Tom was alive and an urge to punch him
in the face for scaring him so badly. Shit, he'd thought a lot of bad things
about Tom in the past, had called him a lot of cruel names, but he had never
thought of him as the kind of coward who would fall apart like this in an

Damn, he wondered. Was this why Tom had lied about Caldik Prime? Had Tom
fallen apart then too? Had he just curled up in a ball of misery that time
and let his passengers bleed to death, like he himself was bleeding to

He struggled to keep the bitter disgust out of his voice as he called to Tom

"I'll kill you, you bastard," he muttered under his breath. "When we get out
of this, when we get back to Voyager, I'm gonna kick your sorry little ass
all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant."

Yet all he said out loud was, "I need help, Tom. Please help me. Fetch me
the med-kit and let me out of the chair. Come on, Tom. Help me."

He watched in disbelief as Tom slowly stepped out of the doorway and
hesitantly approached him.

He was fine. Spirits, there wasn't even a mark on him. Except for the
tear-streaked powder burns on his face, he bore no visible injury at all.

Fury filled Chakotay. He was lying on the floor, his legs crushed and
mangled, the pain in his ribs suggesting possible internal injuries, and Tom
Paris had simply walked off and left him to die.

"Bastard," he snarled.

Tom's face crumbled at Chakotay's bitter tone. He began to wring his hands
in misery, tears filling his blue eyes as he stared helplessly down at the

"Help me!" Chakotay roared, then gasped as a fresh wave of pain hit him. He
struggled for a moment, unsuccessfully fighting to control the agony, and
then slumped back into unconsciousness.


When Chakotay finally woke, he realised that the straps were still biting
into his ribs, his legs were still pinned under the crushed seat, although
they had gone worryingly numb, and a hand was gently caressing his hair.

His eyes shot open in disbelief. Instead of making any effort to help him,
Tom was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to him and was running his
fingers through his hair.

"Lieutenant," Chakotay gasped, the word seeming to rip its way out of his
dry throat. "What the hell's WRONG with you?"

Slowly, Tom raised his head until their eyes met. Chakotay went cold with
the sudden realisation that Tom's eyes were completely blank and unseeing.

"It's shock," he told himself, "he's in shock, that's all."

But then, Tom twisted his head slightly, and Chakotay finally saw the injury
that was so small that he had completely failed to notice it before. On Tom'
s left temple there was a deep purple bruise, no larger than a fingerprint.

"Tom?" Chakotay asked, trying to keep the panic from his voice. "Can you
understand me? Do you know where you are? Do you know WHO you are?"

Tom just continued to stare at him blankly, then reached out his hand and
began to swirl his fingers over Chakotay's tattoo, suddenly too fascinated
by the pattern to even pretend to listen to the strange sounds of Chakotay's

Watching Tom with growing fear, Chakotay felt true fear begin to clench at
his guts. He understood enough about impact wounds to realise that the
smaller the surface area of the point of contact, the deeper the damage

The bruise on Tom's temple looked innocuous, but in all likelihood hid a
brain injury so intense that Tom was barely able to function at all, let
alone process a coherent thought. His brain was undoubtedly bruised, perhaps
even bleeding and swelling within his skull with life-threatening rapidity.

No wonder he had just curled up and cried. He was probably incapable of
understanding his own injury, let alone realising Chakotay's need for

Oh, Spirits, Chakotay prayed. I'm sorry I shouted at him. I'm sorry I
thought the worst of him. Please let him be alright. Even if I don't get out
of this, let Tom be alright.

But he wouldn't be, Chakotay realised. If the injury to Tom's brain was as
bad as he suspected, then even if the pressure of the haematoma didn't kill
him, Tom would be incapable of looking after himself until rescue arrived.

Which meant that Chakotay couldn't let himself just lie here and die either.
Somehow, Chakotay had to get them both through this. Somehow, he had to make
Tom fetch him the med-kit and then he had to somehow keep them both alive
until help arrived.

"Tom," he pleaded gently. "Listen to me, please."

Tom at least responded to his voice, turning his face towards him and
smiling sunnily at Chakotay's pleasant tone.

"Tom, go fetch the med-kit," Chakotay gasped, painfully raising his hand to
point at the supply panel.

Tom simply regarded his hand with obvious interest.

Chakotay waved his hand, pointing desperately, but his gestures only
increased Tom's fascination with his fingers. He reached out his own hand
and tentatively touched Chakotay's outstretched finger with his own, then
beamed happily.

Chakotay dropped his hand with a groan of frustration. He simply couldn't
think of a way to communicate his needs to Tom.

Maybe if he managed to free himself from the straps, and tried to drag
himself out of the chair, Tom would understand enough to help him move, he

Tom watched with apparent fascination as Chakotay began the slow, torturous
process of digging his fingers into his swollen stomach and teasing at the
buckle of the harness. Releasing the strap caused the blood to rush to
Chakotay's battered rib cage and he screamed involuntarily as pain knifed
through his guts.

Terrified by Chakotay's scream, Tom scrambled away and hid in the rear of
the shuttle again. It took Chakotay nearly an hour to coax him back to his

Inspired by Tom's instinctive urge to flee from the scream, Chakotay had
finally formulated a plan. He would grab hold of Tom's arms and then
deliberately let loose a blood-curdling yell. When Tom tried to run, he
would cling on to him and hopefully be hauled out from under the chair
before he fainted from the pain.

Then, when he recovered enough, he would drag himself to the med-kit

It was a desperate plan but, under the circumstances, Chakotay simply couldn
't think of anything else to do.