The Edge
By Morticia



Rating R

Warning: ** Typical Mort Angst **

Chakotay tried to keep the exasperation from his voice. Tom was badly
hurt and confused. He's like a child at the moment, he reminded
himself. A very badly behaved and mischievous child perhaps, but
still, he needed to get his own temper under control.

It wasn't Tom's fault, that he couldn't keep still or that the
Tricorder seemed to terrify him. It definitely wasn't his fault that
the pain in Chakotay's legs was almost driving him insane. Still, the
very fact that he WAS Tom didn't help.

Chakotay just couldn't escape the suspicion that Tom was fooling
around deliberately.

Maybe the whole brain damaged thing was just an act and that was why
Tom wouldn't let the tricorder anywhere near his skull.

The med-kit had barely survived the crash. A whole section of the
navigation console had ripped through the bulkhead where the med-kit
was located. Behind the jagged edges of a ripped metal panel, he had
found the tricorder in a tangled mess of smashed drug ampoules,
scattered with the debris of a completely shattered bone-knitter.

Fortunately, he had also found one still fully charged regenerator,
several doses of painkillers and an assortment of other drugs that
had survived the crushing.

Desperately calling on his own long-forgotten Medical training,
Chakotay had quickly catalogued his own injuries. One of the things
he had remembered was the necessity for the would-be healer to heal
himself first. Neither of them could survive if they were both
severely injured. Yet, without knowing the extent of Tom's injuries,
he had barely dared to use more than a minimal amount of the
regenerator's charge on himself.

He had managed to stop the slow internal haemorrhaging from what the
tricorder had identified as a ruptured spleen and had dealt with the
absolutely worst fractures of his legs.

He wasn't going to be walking anywhere soon, but he had repaired
enough of the damage that, with help of the painkillers, he would at
least be able to drag himself around the shuttle now without passing

Or at least he would be able to if he could find something to splint
his legs with.

He didn't NEED to be able to walk, he reasoned. The planet was too
inhospitable to offer any solutions to their immediate problems. The
temperatures outside ranged from eighty degrees in the mid-day to 20
degrees below at night, so there was no point in doing anything
except sitting tight and waiting for rescue.

It was already bitterly cold in the shuttle. The power had gone out
in the crash and although Chakotay was reasonably certain that he
could rig something up, the immediate problem was Tom.

He had no idea how long he had been unconscious after he had scared
Tom sufficiently to drag him out from the chair. It must have been
hours though, because by the time he finally come to, the air had
been frigid with cold, the light had the dim hazy quality of dawn,
and Tom was curled up on top of him, fast asleep.

He could only assume that, at some point, the terrible cold must have
overcome Tom's fear enough for him to instinctively burrow into the
only source of heat. The fact that the source of heat was Chakotay's
body was probably the only reason either of them had survived the

So Tom had inadvertently saved his life again, and despite the fact
that waking meant facing the increasing pain in his chest and legs,
Chakotay had still taken a moment to enjoy the feel of Tom sprawled
bonelessly on top of him, his warm breath tickling Chakotay's neck
before rising in a blue fog into the chilly air.

Yet, the pressure on top of his cracked ribs had eventually forced
Chakotay to wake up and face reality. He had reluctantly released a
hand from under Tom's bulk and had patted the pilot awake.

He could still picture that first vision of Tom waking. For the first
time in his memory, Tom's face hadn't been clouded with a mask of
sarcasm or cocky indifference.

Instead, Tom had blinked several times to try and focus his soft,
sleep-filled eyes and then a huge smile had lit his face. Like the
sun breaking through the clouds of a gloomy day, Tom's bright-eyed
smile had cut through the morning chill, sending a shaft of warmth
straight into Chakotay's heart.

"Spirits, you're beautiful," Chakotay had found himself murmuring,
before the sound of his own sleepy words caused a blaze of
embarrassment to fire his face.

Yet, when Tom's happy expression failed to twist into the mockery he
expected, the realisation that Tom still couldn't understand him was
worse than any amount of humiliation.

So he had panicked a little. Okay, a lot. He had raised his voice,
demanding that Tom respond to him, and Tom's innocent smile had
immediately been chased away by a look of terror and he had scrambled
quickly off Chakotay, his flailing limbs tangling with Chakotay's

Chakotay had literally howled with pain as one of Tom's knees
accidentally struck his groin, and Tom had run away to hide.

Which was why, four hours later, he considered it a miracle that Tom
had agreed to approach him at all. Even so, the fact that he seemed
to think that the tricorder was a deadly weapon, wasn't helping
Chakotay's temper at all.

Chakotay decided to change tactics. He put the tricorder down and
began to croon at Tom, patting his lap and inviting Tom to crawl into
it. It was worryingly effective. As soon as Tom lost sight of the
tricorder, he seemed to instantly forget its existence. His face
quickly resumed its former happy grin and he obediently slithered
into Chakotay's lap.

Feeling oddly guilty about abusing Tom's trust, Chakotay took a firm
grip of Tom's left shoulder blade, grabbed the tricorder with his
left hand and thrust it against Tom's temple.

As Tom struggled in his arms, Chakotay kept up a mantra of soothing
noises, until the message that flashed up on the Tricorder literally
stole his breath.

Of course he had realised that Tom had a brain injury, yet seeing the
reality in print, suddenly brought home to him exactly how alone they
were here.

"Severe swelling of the Temporal Lobe. Insult to the posterior
frontal lobe. Diagnosis: Fatal if untreated," the tricorder stated.

"What's the treatment?" Chakotay typed furiously.

"Injury requires neurosurgery. Prognosis without surgery, seizures,
coma, death, within 72 hours"

Chakotay wasn't a doctor, he couldn't perform surgery, and the
chances of them being rescued within the next three days were slim to
none. He felt the first fingers of panic clutching at his heart, even
as his stomach lurched guiltily for doubting Tom's injury was even

There had to be something he could do, something that would give Tom
more time.

Frantically he questioned the tricorder.

"Reducing the swelling will slow the progress of the symptoms," the
tricorder advised.

Chakotay looked guiltily at the regenerator. Was there enough charge
left or had he selfishly stolen Tom's only chance of survival by
treating himself?

There was only one way to find out.

He pulled the struggling pilot towards him and began to run the
regenerator over Tom's forehead until he had used the remaining
charge. Then he raised the tricorder to check his progress.

It was too much for Tom. He went crazy with fear, squirming in
Chakotay's grasp, his fists battering into Chakotay's still sore rib
cage. Chakotay doubled over, losing his grip on Tom, and was helpless
to prevent the tricorder being knocked out of his hand by Tom's
flailing arms.

By the time Chakotay recovered enough to crawl over to where the
tricorder had landed, Tom had disappeared into the hold once more.

He picked up the broken instrument and groaned in frustration.
Without it, he had no way of knowing whether his cure had been even
partially successful.

He wasted half-an-hour trying to coax Tom out, then gave up and
crawled back to the med-kit to inventory the unbroken supplies.

Tom's battering of his ribs had left him feeling light-headed with
pain but he resisted the urge to take more pain-killers. He couldn't
waste the limited supply. There was enough for a week if he was
careful. As soon as he had used them up, he would be unable to move
his shattered legs at all.

He collected all the ampoules and tucked them carefully in the inside
pocket of his jacket to keep them out of Tom's reach. He was
reasonably certain that they would be dangerous to someone with a
brain injury.

He was carefully gathering up the smashed bottles, to dispose of them
safely as well, when he came across one marked Diazepam. The name
rang a bell and he frantically searched through his memory, trying
desperately to remember what he knew of the drug but it had been too
long since he studied Field Med. 101, and he hadn't even been
particularly interested in the subject at the time.

Deciding that the reference might come to him, he carefully separated
the tablets from the broken glass and tucked them away in his pocket
too. He had a gut feeling they were important, but just couldn't
remember why.

"Damn it, Tom. Aren't we in enough fucking mess without you breaking
the damned tricorder?" he snarled towards the rear of the shuttle.

Tom replied with a plaintive whimper and Chakotay was suddenly
ashamed of his outburst. It wasn't like him to be so ill-tempered,
but his legs were beginning to ache like a bugger again, and he was
becoming aware of an unpleasant ache in his bladder.

He contemplated the long crawl to the head, sighed, and decided that
it would just have to wait. Curling up into a ball to ward off the
waves of pain that coursed steadily through his body, he slipped into
a fitful sleep.


"Chakotay, Chakotay, WAKE UP CHAKOTAY!"

The panicked voice finally broke through Chakotay's restless dreams
and he opened his eyes cautiously, only to jump in surprise. Tom's
eyes were mere centimetres from his own, their blue depths swirling
with panic.

"Tom?" Chakotay asked warily, furtively covering his groin with his
hands in case the pilot scooted away in panic again. His balls still
ached from Tom's last `attack' and the throbbing pain in his bladder
wasn't helping matters either.

"Where are we?" Tom asked hesitantly. "What happened?"

Spirits, Tom was talking. TOM WAS TALKING! It had worked, the god-
damned regenerator had worked.

"The shuttle crashed, Tom." Chakotay replied carefully. "Don't you

Tom's eyes darted in panic as he looked around the shattered craft.

"Crashed," Tom repeated slowly, his brows furrowing as he digested
the fact.

"Tom. This is kind of embarrassing but need you to help me get to the
head, okay?" Chakotay asked his kidneys knifed him viciously again.

"My head hurts," Tom replied vaguely, turning to look with evident
fascination at the smashed console.

"I KNOW your head hurts, Tom, and I'm sorry, but I really need some
help here," Chakotay replied, fighting his exasperation.

Tom simply ignored him, his gaze fixating on the chair that was
wedged in the viewscreen.

"LIEUTENANT," Chakotay yelled.

Tom swung his head back to face him and frowned again.

"Help me get up," Chakotay snapped, feeling so guilty for shouting at
Tom that it only increased his irritation.

Tom's face cleared, this he could understand. He jumped eagerly to
his feet, only to suddenly sway ungracefully, struggling for balance.

"Are you alright?" Chakotay asked, his own pain forgotten in the face
of Tom's peculiar clumsiness.

Tom gave a beaming smile. "Sure," he replied breezily, reaching a
strong hand down and hauling Chakotay easily to his feet.

Chakotay wrapped his right arm around Tom's shoulders, Tom hooked him
around the waist, and they slowly hobbled towards the bathroom. When
they reached the tiny room, Chakotay was relieved to see that it had
escaped the crushing damage of the Port section.

"It's going to take me a few minutes," Chakotay gasped, as the pain
knifed through his legs. Although he was using his arms to rest most
of his weight on the wash basin, still he could barely think for the
waves of agony rising from his legs. He was going to have to take
another painkiller, just to manage to get his trousers down, he

"Why don't you go and sort out the supplies? There should be more
than enough food for us, but you're going to have to get it out of
storage and check for damage," he gasped.

Tom looked at him blankly.

"Food, Tom. Food!" Chakotay snapped.

Tom suddenly grinned.

"Food," he repeated happily.

"Go find food, Tom," Chakotay said more gently, and closed the door
in Tom's face.

The painkiller worked swiftly enough for him to sit down gingerly on
the toilet seat before he allowed himself to consider Tom.

Whatever he had done with the regenerator, it obviously hadn't been
nearly enough. Tom might be talking, but he obviously
wasn't `thinking'. So it was hardly fair of him to keep biting the
poor bastard's head off.

He was bitterly ashamed of himself. Just because he was in so much
pain that he could barely think straight, it was no excuse for him to
take it out on Tom Paris.

Except, that was the problem too, wasn't it? If he was really honest
with himself, he had to acknowledge that he wouldn't react this way
if it was anyone else.

Not because he hated him, whatever anyone else thought, no, it was
because he couldn't face the idea of Tom dying.

And that was the bottom line, wasn't it? If Tom didn't pull himself
together, he was going to die.

Sure, he can just "pull himself together", another voice in his head
mocked sarcastically. "He has a fatal brain injury but that's okay,
all he has to do is act normally and it will go away?"

Chakotay closed his eyes in pain.

"Please, Tom," he whispered. "Please TRY. Please don't die on me."


"WHAT THE HELL?" Chakotay yelled, his decision to stop shouting at
Tom flying straight out of the window as soon as he dragged himself
painfully out of the head and came face to face with chaos.

Oblivious to his outrage, Tom merely looked up with an ecstatic grin.

"Food," he said proudly.

Chakotay looked despairingly at the scattered piles. Tom had
obediently dragged all of the packets out of the storage locker and
then had opened more than half of them. The room was steaming from
six dozen self-heating meals having been opened and then discarded on
the floor.

The smell made Chakotay's stomach rumble, even as the desecration of
their food supply made him want to howl.

He took a deep breath to calm himself, then deciding that saying
nothing was the safest way of ensuring that he didn't shout again, he
cautiously dragged himself through the scattered debris and taking
one of the warmer packets in his hand, he simply began to eat.

"Good?" Tom asked happily.

"Good," Chakotay agreed mildly, dipping his eyes away from the orange
stain that covered Tom's chin and most of the front of his uniform.
Somehow, in all the chaos, Tom had obviously managed to find some
Tomato Soup.

He had to struggle against a sudden desire to cry.

It wasn't until his own stomach was full, that Chakotay felt more
able to consider their situation. The food wasn't ruined really, he
told himself. Sure, half of it was ruined. It was cold now, and would
spoil rapidly, but there was still plenty left. They wouldn't starve
before Voyager rescued them.

Not that starving to death was going to be Tom's problem, anyway.

"How's your head, Tom?" he asked.

"Head hurts," Tom replied, his smile slipping a little.

"I know," Chakotay replied sadly.

"Food?" Tom asked hopefully.

Chakotay dragged himself painfully over to the pile of unopened
packets and squirrelled through them until he found another portion
of tomato soup.

Tom met the offering with a smile of such pure, innocent delight that
Chakotay felt his heart give a lurch before he busied himself quickly
with sorting the rest of the packets out.

"Why the hell didn't you put a replicator in the flyer, Tom?" he
muttered to himself, then realised that since the power was off line,
the self-heating food packets WERE a
damn good idea.

"You know, I never really paid much attention to the Flyer before,
primarily because YOU built her," he confessed.

Tom just continued to placidly guzzle his soup, seemingly oblivious,
but that suited Chakotay, anyway. It was easier to make confessions
when the listener wasn't listening.

"I wanted to. I mean it was the prettiest bit of engineering I had
witnessed in a long time. People forget that I'm a pilot too. I'm
just the First Officer to them, aren't I? Even Kathryn seems to have
forgotten who I USED to be. Hell, even I forgot who I used to be.

"But you remembered, didn't you? Every time you baited me, every time
you defied my authority, it was like you were trying to remind me
that I was no more a Starfleet puppet than you are. You always saw
the rage that I had learned to suppress so carefully.

"And the more I think about it, the more I suspect that your attitude
is just an act too.

"You know why I suddenly had that blinding realisation? Because, here
we both are, me with my legs shattered, and you with a terrible brain
injury, and I can't keep my temper under control, while you just want
to smile.

"So, now the chips are down, and neither of us are capable of
maintaining our normal masks, I can't help wondering whether this is
the real you, as much as this is the real me. Maybe, under all your
brash posturing, there's just a sweet eager-to-please kid, after all."

Chakotay gave a deep sigh, both relieved and disappointed that Tom
wasn't listening to him. After finishing his soup, the pilot had
zoned out completely, his eyes glazed and mouth slack in his
expressionless face.

"Help me to the bunk, Tom. I don't want to spend another night on the
floor," Chakotay asked tiredly, deciding that confession wasn't good
for the soul, after all. It was just tiring.

Tom obviously heard him this time, turning his head but just
regarding him so vaguely that Chakotay had to fight another wave of
unfair irritation. Deciding it was the complexity of his request that
had been the problem, Chakotay simplified it.

"Help me to bed please, Tom."

Tom grinned, jumped to his feet, then froze. A few seconds later, he
staggered slightly, his face filling with panic as he lost his
balance. Then, just as Chakotay feared he would fall, he straightened
again and his fear-filled expression was instantly replaced by the
inane smile that was really starting to get on Chakotay's nerves.

Before he had a chance to feel guilty about THAT, Chakotay felt
himself swung up easily in Tom's arms and carried to the bunk.

His relief at not having to walk, warred with terror that Tom would
stumble and drop him. Yet Tom carried him without any apparent
difficulty and gently lay him down in the bed. Chakotay felt the
blanket tucked carefully around his shoulders, and then was shocked
when Tom crawled in to spoon next to him, curling up so that his face
was tucked into Chakotay's neck.

"What are you doing?" Chakotay demanded, his voice tinged with panic.

"Bed," Tom replied sleepily, closed his eyes and immediately began to
snore softly.

Chakotay reached out to give him a shake. It wasn't conceivable that
anyone could simply fall asleep that quickly.

"Unless they have a fatal brain injury, of course," that sarcastic
voice drawled in his head.

He shivered and found his gesture altering to a hug as he pulled the
pilot closer. It would be cold soon anyway, he reasoned. It made
sense for them to share body heat. He could hardly make a badly
injured man freeze to death just because he couldn't control his own
emotional reaction to sharing a bed with Tom.

He chuckled ruefully as he realised that he had finally achieved his
long term fantasy of sleeping with Tom Paris.


"Tay? Tay?"

Chakotay struggled angrily against the voice that was trying to force
him out of the sanctuary of dreaming and into the harsh reality of
their plight.

"TAY?" the voice wailed in his ear.

Chakotay's eyes shot open. `Tay?' What the hell did THAT mean?

Again, he found himself staring into frightened blue eyes.

"Tay? Wha appen?" Tom begged, his voice badly slurred, his eyes
filled with frightened tears, yet there seemed to be a spark of
lucidity there that had been missing the evening before.

"We crashed the shuttle, Tom," Chakotay said patiently. "We're
waiting for Voyager. Don't you remember?"

Tom's brow furrowed with almost painful concentration, then he gave a
hesitant nod.

"utt caysed," he slurred, "ep Tay."

Spirits, Chakotay groaned to himself as he tried to understand.
Universal Translators obviously couldn't cope with brain damage, he
decided irritably. He closed his eyes for a moment to think Tom's
words through.

"Shuttle Crashed, Help Chakotay?" he cautiously interpreted.

Tom rewarded him with a wide grin, carefully unravelling his long
legs from Chakotay's as though he was truly aware of Chakotay's
injuries. Then he climbed out of the bed, reached down and carefully
picked Chakotay up.

Chakotay's heart lurched as Tom staggered for a moment under his
weight. By the time he found himself safely in the bathroom, he could
see perspiration trickling down Tom's forehead.

Tom hadn't found him too heavy the day before, yet this morning it
was obviously an effort to carry him. Chakotay could only assume it
meant that Tom was beginning to be physically affected by the brain

Chakotay wondered whether Tom's difficulty in speaking today was
physical, rather than mental. He was definitely smarter, somehow,
more lucid. Like he had been when he had first woken up after the

"SHIT!" Chakotay groaned.

Silent episodes. The zoning out. The tiny staggers. Tom was ALREADY
having fits, but so tiny that he hadn't even realised.

Obviously sleeping helped Tom recover a little mentally, yet the
physical effects of his fits remained. The unavoidable truth was that
he was getting progressively worse.

How long before Tom had his first full scale fit?

How long before he slipped into a coma?

How long before he died?