The Shattering of the Mask 16
See part 1 for disclaimer
"It is most regrettable that I did not give immediate credence to Lieutenant Kim's accusations," Tuvok stated. His Vulcan mask of impassiveness didn't falter but Kathryn could detect a discernable note of embarrassment in his tone.
"Why should you have?" she replied bitterly. "I am a Starfleet Captain. I'm responsible for the health and well-being of everyone on board. He fooled *me*, Tuvok. For nearly six years I nurtured a nest of vipers. I was blind Tuvok. It's unforgivable."
"Commander Chakotay's talent for deception has indeed fooled us both, Captain. Despite my original concerns regarding the merging of the two crew, he has never once, by word or deed, given any credence to those suspicions. I allowed myself to become complacent. Given my experience of the Commander's impeccable behaviour, it became illogical to entertain suspicion regarding his activities. When I entered his quarters, despite the obvious evidence of a sexual liaison between the Commander and Lieutenant Paris, it did not even occur to me that there was anything amiss," Tuvok confessed.
"Poor Tom," Kathryn sighed. "He trusted me, Tuvok. He believed in me, and I turned him over to that monster and never once suspected anything. I don't deserve to be the Captain of this ship. How could I have been so damned stupid?"
"We were all deceived, Captain. Your judgment was no more at fault than that of anyone else on this ship. The Commander's tampering with the Doctor was a masterful subterfuge. The situation could not have happened under normal circumstances. Had we a *real* doctor, the Commander's plan could not have been effected," Tuvok reminded her.
"B'Elanna says there is no way to restore the Doctor's original files. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence. Now that the Doctor is back on line and functioning correctly, he has confirmed that Tom has possibly suffered a number of injuries over the past months. Despite the regeneration he has a build up of internal scar tissue that suggests a catalogue of abuse. Even so, Tom's medical records show evidence of similar injuries going back a number of years and it is impossible to definitely state which scars are recent."
"There is not sufficient evidence to charge Chakotay," Tuvok agreed solemnly.
Kathryn's eyes sparked with her impotent fury.
"I will NOT allow him to get away with it, Tuvok. There has to be a way of proving what has been going on," she snarled.
"I have questioned both Ayala and Dalby, at Lieutenant's Kim's suggestion, and am equally certain that they are being dishonest in their protestations of innocence. However, they are either loyal to Chakotay or more probably simply protecting themselves from charges. The Commander maintains that his relationship with Mr. Paris is consensual and that the injuries are consistent with a mutually satisfactory sexual deviance."
Kathryn rubbed her face tiredly. "I fail to comprehend how anyone could find it sexually satisfying to beat their partner to a bloody pulp, Tuvok."
"Personal sexual practices vary not only from species to species, but encompass a huge spectrum within each species. It is because of the need for tolerance of those differences that they are not subject to Starfleet regulations, Captain. Regardless of his physical injuries, unless independent evidence comes to light or Mr. Paris confirms that he was being held involuntarily by the Commander, there are no charges that I can bring."
"Why *won't* he talk to me, Tuvok? Why won't he talk to anyone?" Kathryn demanded.
"Shock, perhaps, or fear of reprisal. It is possible that he is unable to judge whether he can trust any of us. It would seem improbable to him that we were unaware of the situation, in which case he is unlikely to say anything that will incriminate the Commander. There is also the possibility that he has developed genuine feelings of attachment towards him," Tuvok replied.
"That's crazy," Kathryn spat.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "On the contrary, it would be a most *human* reaction to his situation. Given the absolute power that Chakotay wielded over him, it would have been logical for Mr. Paris to develop ambivalent feelings. To survive he would have had to learn to *please*. His whole existence would have revolved around attempting to create a bond between himself and his captor. The Commander was not only the source of his pain, but also his only source of comfort, food and solace.
"Lieutenant Torres's description of the way Mr. Paris behaved with Crewman Dalby, before his alleged breakdown, suggests that he does respond sexually to a certain level of violence. If that is true, then it would have been difficult for him to differentiate between what was rape and what was consensual. If the rape resulted in his own orgasm, he would have quickly lost the ability to distinguish between pain and pleasure.
"To be able to anticipate what would prevent the Commander's violence, Mr. Paris would have had to learn to think like him, to empathize with him, and in so doing, he will have lost the ability to distance himself. People only truly hate what they do not understand. In learning to understand the Commander's motivations, Mr. Paris would inevitably have found some sympathy for his position.
"Furthermore, given his own lack of self-confidence, and the guilt that he still bears over his past, Mr. Paris possibly believes that he deserved the abuse," Tuvok concluded.
"So the fact that Tom keeps insisting that he loves Chakotay, could actually be the truth, rather than something he is saying through fear?" Kathryn asked in despair.
"Indeed. However, whichever explanation is true, neither is a rational response. It is imperative that Tom sees Chakotay punished for his actions, so that he can understand that they *were* wrong and that we did not condone them."
"I know how you feel about mind-melds, Tuvok. You made your position clear before Tom moved in with Chakotay. However, I cannot see any other way to get to the bottom of what has happened. Without the facts, we cannot press charges. Unless we have evidence, the Maquis will rebel and support Chakotay. We have to be able to prove to *them* that Chakotay has acted improperly."
"My original reservations about enforced mind-melds remain, Captain," Tuvok replied. "However, had I done as you suggested at the time, then Mr. Paris would not have been subjected to the Commander's abuse. I will comply."
"Yes, Captain?" he replied softly, although his knuckles whitened as he grasped the blanket and he pulled it tighter around him like armor.
Although he had now been moved from Chakotay's quarters to sickbay, he was still uncertain whether he had been rescued or not. Everyone *seemed* to be saying the right things, but he had learned the hard way that Chakotay's eyes and ears were everywhere.
He just couldn't shake the feeling that this was an elaborate ruse, and he was being extremely careful not to say anything wrong. He had decided that it would be only natural to respond to the name of "Tom" though. He couldn't imagine Chakotay wanting him to call himself "Simon" in public.
Yet, still, he felt like he was walking on eggshells. What is this really *was* a rescue and his constant, fear-filled assertions that he loved Chakotay caused him to be given back?
"I wanted to tell you this myself, before you heard it from Harry," Kathryn replied, sitting carefully on the edge of the bio-bed.
He flinched a little as she sat. He turned his dull blue eyes to meet hers but couldn't hold the gaze. She saw his head droop and he began to pick at invisible threads on the blanket.
"I know what happened to you now and I am so sorry, Tom. Gregor Ayala, Michael Smith and Kenneth Dalby have been charged with Rape and Grievous Bodily Harm, Tom. They have been confined to the brig where they will remain until their trial. They can't hurt you anymore. No one will *ever* hurt you anymore, I promise."
Tom jerked and looked up, his face filled with confused hope, yet he was too cautious still to reply. Mistaking the reason for his silence, Kathryn hastened to explain.
"There is no doubt about their guilt, Tom, but a public trial is necessary so that the other crew-members know without doubt that they *are* guilty. I know that what happened to you is terrible, and that you would probably rather it remain secret. But there is no shame in this for you. You did nothing wrong. You were the victim, Tom. I assure you that no-one will think any less of you. The only shame on Voyager is that of the rest of us, for letting this happen to you."
"What about Chakotay?" Tom asked cautiously.
Kathryn sighed. This was the hardest part. She couldn't possibly let Tom think that Chakotay wasn't to be punished, but, still, she couldn't ignore Tuvok's findings either.
She took Tom's right hand in her own and gently massaged his fingers.
"Chakotay is ill, Tom. Mentally unstable. He can't be tried. By Starfleet Law, he would be found not guilty by reason of insanity. He's delusional, Tom. That doesn't in any way justify or excuse his actions, but legally it does make a difference. Ayala, Smitty and Dalby all knew exactly what they were doing. They took advantage of Chakotay's illness, in an attempt to force him into a position where he would start a mutiny and take over Voyager.
"I don't know whether this makes it worse or better, but their abuse of you was never personal, Tom. It was calculated to make Chakotay act in a certain way. They were like puppet-masters, feeding Chakotay's delusions to grab control for themselves. With Chakotay as Captain and consumed by his obsession by you, or should I say Simon, they would have effectively been in charge."
"Simon," Tom repeated bleakly.
"I'm sure that the Doctor can explain the details to you better, Tom, but Chakotay is suffering from a form of Psychosis. He has been living in a border-line delusional state for years, since the death of this Simon. Ayala and the others began to fuel the psychosis after we had that incident with Captain Ransom. Instead of being appalled by his actions, they decided that he was right, that any cost was worth paying to get home.
"My own alienation with Chakotay over the incident, only served to play into their hands. Perhaps it even gave them the idea of using you to drive the wedge deeper between Chakotay and I. "
"Can he be cured?" Tom interrupted quietly.
"What?" Kathryn asked in surprise.
"Chakotay, can he be cured?"
"He has a severe chemical imbalance, Tom. The Doctor believes it originated from a Cardassian air-borne viral weapon that he was exposed to during the raid that freed Geron and Simon. Tuvok is talking to Geron now, trying to establish more details of exactly what form of experimentation went on in that Cardassian camp. It seems that Chakotay was suffering from the infection at the time of Simon's death. That's why his delusions became specific to Simon, and by default you."
"You didn't answer my question," Tom said dully.
"Yes, Tom. The Doctor believes he can isolate the infected areas of Chakotay's brain, the places where his delusions originate, and can cure him. The problem is, that we can't put him on trial without curing him first, and if we do cure him, would it be fair to then prosecute him for something he did when he was insane?
"I have to discuss this with *you*, Tom because I cannot let you think that your own suffering is in any way less important than his. YOU are the victim here, even if Chakotay was not responsible for his actions. If you need him to be punished, and god knows I will understand if you do, then perhaps it would be better for us *not* to attempt the cure. At least that way the man who is punished will be the man who committed the crime.
"After the trial, Ayala, Smith and Dalby will be left on a suitable uninhabited planet. I cannot condone a corporal punishment, and am unwilling to keep them in the brig for the duration of the journey, so they will be left behind. As for Chakotay, his fate is in your hands Tom. If you cannot bear to see him again, if you can't face the idea of him remaining on board, I suggest that we simply leave him with the others."
"Without a trial?" Tom demanded, both relieved and shocked by the suggestion.
Kathryn shrugged unhappily.
"After the trial of the others, everyone will know what Chakotay did. There will be no protest from the rest of the crew. It is not even necessary for us to admit to his illness being the cause. That's why the others haven't been charged with attempted mutiny. "
"You'd do that for me? Just leave him behind?" Tom asked uncertainly.
"Tom, there is *nothing* I can ever do to make up for my lack of judgment. I placed you in the hands of a mad man, and walked away. I failed you. I failed him. But, at this point, it is you I am most concerned about. I need you to realise that we were blind, stupid and arrogant, but that we didn't know, we didn't condone his treatment of you and that you can stop being afraid.
"Admit that you hate him. Hell, you can tell me you hate me, I wouldn't blame you, and for God's sake, stop believing that any of this was your fault. It wasn't. You didn't deserve this. No-one could possibly deserve what happened to you."
"If he is cured, will he, will he remember what he did?" Tom mumbled.
"The Doctor isn't positive, although he says the likelihood is that he will remember what he has done."
"That would be worse, wouldn't it?" he finally muttered.
"Chakotay being sane but having to face the guilt of his actions?"
"Yeah," Tom confirmed, biting his lower lip.
"I think it would be terrible, Tom. I don't believe that he would be able to live with the memories, especially not if he was seeing you every day. So even if you could deal with him staying on board, I don't believe it would work. It would be best, all round, to leave him with the others, I think."
She waited patiently as he absorbed her words. Emotions chased over his pale features like storm clouds; hate, fear, uncertainty, sorrow and finally resignation.
"When are you going to do it?" Tom asked.
"I think the sooner the better, Tom. The crew are already up in arms, wondering what's going on. We have located a planet which appears suitable and will arrive there later today. If it proves viable, then it should all be over by this time tomorrow."
"Thank you, Captain," Tom whispered. "I think I'd like to sleep now, if you don't mind."
"Of course not, Tom. I'll advise the Doctor not to proceed with the operation. Try and get some rest. If you want me for *anything*, don't hesitate to call me."
"Geron says he's going too," Harry admitted nervously.
Tom just gave a weary smile.
"Of course he is," he answered. "He loves Greg."
"It's crazy," Harry spat.
"Yeah," Tom agreed, but he'd truly never expected anything else. As soon as the Captain had mentioned that Ayala would be banished to the planet, he had *known* that Geron would insist on going too. And since Ayala didn't seem to mind sharing, maybe Chakotay would eventually get over the absence of "Simon."
It had been the thing that had bothered him most. The Captain's decision had made sense. Shit, he could barely face the memories of Caldik Prime, and he had been responsible for what had happened. How the hell would Chakotay live with the memory of the last three months?
He had seen enough of the gentle side of Chakotay to know that under the madness there was a man of intense pride and deep compassion. How could *that* Chakotay face the demons that had lurked in his own soul and survive?
He knew that Harry and B'Elanna were mad with him for not demanding his pound of flesh. They couldn't understand why he wasn't champing at the bit, screaming his outrage, demanding vengeance. They said he should insist that Chakotay was forced to face up to his actions. Yet, how could hurting Chakotay mend his own wounds? Would Chakotay's pain erase his own? Could the ripping of Chakotay's soul help mend the tatters of his own? He didn't believe so.
To be honest, all he wanted to do was sleep some more. He wanted to escape from reality into dreams until it was all over. He didn't want to wake up until the planet, and Chakotay, were reduced to an old log entry. Maybe he simply didn't want to *ever* wake up again.
Yet Chakotay haunted his dreams. Since the Captain had suggested that Chakotay simply be left behind, he could see nothing when he closed his eyes but Chakotay's maddened face screaming "SIMON" as the phasers cut him down.
"Harry, would you ask the Captain to visit me if she has time?" he asked quietly.
"Sure, Tom," Harry replied, looking worriedly at Tom's white face, and deciding it had been a mistake to mention the Bajoran.
"It's not right, Captain," Tom said slowly.
"Making Chakotay live without Simon. Letting him worry forever what is happening to him."
"Tom, there *is* no Simon," Kathryn replied carefully.
"I know that, Captain, but *he* doesn't," Tom replied. "It's not fair. He's ill. If he was bleeding to death you wouldn't refuse to treat him, you wouldn't leave him in pain. There's no difference. You know he's ill, you know the cure, you have to do it."
"And what if the cure proves fatal, Tom? What if he literally can't live with the memories?"
"I don't know," he confessed. "All I know is that you can't allow him to keep his delusions about Simon. He really loves him. Losing him again would break his heart and that's not punishment, that's just cruelty. If the only way to remove his feelings for Simon is to cure him completely, then maybe the Doctor could remove his memory of the last few months at the same time. I can cope with that. Hell, it won't be like he will hurt me again, will it? After he has forgotten Simon, and my resemblance to him, the real Chakotay probably won't even notice I exist."
"Tom, I have to ask you this. *Do* you love Chakotay?" Kathryn asked worriedly. The generosity of Tom's offer wasn't natural in her opinion.
Tom gave a bitter laugh.
"I'm not the crazy one, Captain, remember? He's a sadistic fuck. I hate him." he barked.
"You *did* tell me you loved him, Tom," Kathryn reminded him gently.
"I was confused. I thought, I thought you *knew*," Tom confessed. "I was just scared."
Kathryn squeezed his shoulder.
"I *should* have known, Tom. I'm glad that you are feeling better though and beginning to gain some perspective. We were concerned that you had really begun to feel something for Chakotay. It's a natural reaction under the circumstances. Only it would concern me greatly if it was true."
"No fear of that, Captain. I have a far too well-developed sense of self-preservation," Tom replied blithely, finally rewarding her with a pale shadow of his old cocky smirk.
Relieved, she patted his shoulder awkwardly and rose to her feet.
"I'll talk to the Doctor. Perhaps there is a way of curing the delusions AND inhibiting his memories. Could you live with that though, Tom? Chakotay remaining on board but never knowing what he did to you?"
"You'd have to re-think the trial, Captain. Maybe you should just charge them with mutiny and leave them behind. Leave me out of the equation completely. Only Harry, B'El, Geron, you and Security know what happened. Perhaps you should leave it that way. If Chakotay stays on board, the rest of the Maquis will stay in line. It's the best solution."
Kathryn re-evaluated the situation quickly. Tom was right. It would be cleaner this way. Tom would never have to face the pity of the rest of the crew. Chakotay would never have to face the guilt of actions he had never had any control over. The bad elements would be eradicated and Voyager could move on. Tom's bravery astounded her, however. Six hours ago she had doubted he would ever be able to function again. He had been curled in a terrified ball, flinching from her approach, desperately trying to assure her that he *loved* Chakotay in obvious fear that she was part of an elaborate deception.
Yet a few hours later, he was sane, rational and offering her a solution that they could hopefully all live with. A solution in which the only cost would be paid by Tom Paris himself as he pretended that nothing had happened, as he daily faced a man who would have no memory of torturing him
"You're a brave and good man, Tom," she said.
He flushed. "Well, like I said, I'm the consummate survivor, Captain," he joked.
She was a little disconcerted by his humor, by his very calmness. She would have to arrange for Tuvok to call by and see him, she decided. Surprisingly, Tuvok seemed to have a clear grasp of the possible mental effects of the type of experience Tom had suffered. Perhaps he would be able to see through Tom's mask of calmness. She had lost confidence in her own ability to accurately read another's soul, yet had a feeling that a lot more was going on behind Tom's eyes than his bland expression suggested.
She would, however, take Tom's suggestion and act on it. While there would probably be a price to pay further down the line, at the moment, it seemed the only viable option.
Tom waited until the door whispered shut behind her before he began to cry.