The Shattering of the Mask 17
See part 1 for disclaimer´
"I don't care if it was Tom's idea. You can't honestly expect us to just pretend nothing happened, Captain," B'Elanna roared, surging to her feet in agitation.
Kathryn disregarded the breach of protocol. It was best that tempers were aired here in the privacy of her ready room than allowed to fester.
"Chakotay was sick, B'Elanna. He didn't know what he was doing," she explained again.
"Too damned right he's sick. Dalby told me everything," she hissed. "What Chakotay and those other bastards did to Tom is past sick, it's disgusting."
"Well that explains Crewman Dalby's black eyes," the Doctor muttered.
"Did you know that Chakotay used to make Tom piss himself, and then beat him for it? That he told Dalby to give him nightly enemas with the high-pressure maintenance hose? That there were times when the beatings were so bad that Tom couldn't even walk?" B'Elanna screamed to the room in general.
"Tom never told me that," Harry muttered, his golden skin turning puce.
"That's exactly my point. I know, Tuvok knows and presumably you know all the details, Captain. But Tom isn't admitting anything except the fact that he was held captive and raped. Come to think of it, he's never said that word either. He just says that Chakotay had sex with him. So if he can't face what happened to him, if he is blocking it out, how can you accept his suggestion to let Chakotay walk free? If Tom can't face his own memories, how the hell is he going to face Chakotay?" B'Elanna demanded.
"I agree that Mr. Paris still must come to terms with his experiences," Tuvok agreed solemnly. "He will continue to attend counseling sessions until such time as he can face the experience rather than continue his current state of denial. However, he is a resilient young man. Our acceding to his wishes, with regard to the treatment of the Commander, is the first step in regaining his trust. The issue here is not only the Commander's actions, but our own lack of action."
B'Elanna sat down abruptly, her rage dampened by a wave of shame. Tuvok was right. A lot of her aggression came from her own feelings of failure. She had turned her back on Tom, had virtually thrown him into Chakotay's waiting arms. Her own memory of striking Tom in the Mess hall haunted her constantly.
"Besides, B'Elanna. Chakotay has no memory at all of the events. As far as he is aware, Ayala staged an attempted mutiny, and he himself suffered a head injury when he attempted to stop it. He has accepted that injury as the reason for his occassional memory gaps and is ready to resume his duties," Kathryn added.
"Oh yeah, Chakotay the hero," B'Elanna spat, her ire sparked back into flame. "Even if you had to cover up what he did to Tom, did you really need to make out that he saved the ship from this so-called mutiny?"
"It was necessary to ratify the decision to put the "mutineers" off the ship. It was important to ensure that none of the former-Maquis objected to the closed trial and the most efficient way to ensure that was Chakotay's clear alliance with the Captain during the supposed incident. Our primary objective was to secure the safety of the ship," Tuvok explained unrepentantly.
"How do you know he isn't acting, still?" Harry demanded.
"I assure you I was most thorough with my operation," the Doctor huffed.
"I wasn't suggesting you weren't. But none of us saw through him before. How do we know that he can be trusted? I mean, how do we know that a sane Chakotay is any more trustworthy than an insane one?" Harry continued doggedly.
"We don't," the Captain confessed reluctantly. "I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but Tom's safety and that of the whole ship must come first. I authorized the placement of a monitoring device in the back of Chakotay's skull. It will allow us to monitor him constantly, whether he wears a comm badge or not. We will always know where he is. I also asked the Doctor to place one in Tom," she added, raising her hands placatingly against the outrage of B'Elanna and Harry.
"Tom's device is not to monitor his behaviour. It is linked only to Chakotay's signal. Any time that the two of them are within touching distance, Tuvok will be alerted to monitor the situation."
"Does Tom know about the device?" Harry asked.
"No. I believe it would alienate him, make him feel that I am doubting his decision to allow Chakotay to remain on board. Tom is fragile enough, at the moment, without him feeling that we don't trust him. My only concern here is for his safety, but I doubt he will fully understand that at the moment, so I have not told him about either device and I trust that you will not betray my confidence."
B'Elanna and Harry nodded grimly, but Harry couldn't stop himself from muttering "It sucks," in a near whisper.
"Indeed it does "suck" Harry," Kathryn agreed, trying not to smile at Harry's embarrassed blush.
"However, there is another reason we have fitted the devices. While I do not normally concern myself in the private relationships of the crewmembers, I would be most disturbed if in ignorance of his previous actions, Chakotay should make any physical advances towards Tom. The fact that Tom so closely resembles the appearance of "Simon" suggests that if Chakotay is attracted to a particular physical type, then Tom is likely to draw his attention. Should that happen, I need to be in a position to intervene before Tom panics," she explained, deciding not to mention her fear that "panic" wouldn't be Tom's reaction. She couldn't trust Tom's ability to understand his own feelings towards Chakotay, and certainly would not allow the Pilot to make such a tragic mistake as to become involved with Chakotay again, under any circumstances.
Oblivious to the possibility that Tom might harbor anything but terror of Chakotay, B'Elanna and Harry both shuddered as they imagined how Tom might react under the circumstances, and this time they met Kathryn's stare with tacit approval for her subterfuge.
"When is Tom returning to duty?" Harry asked.
"I believe that the sooner Mr. Paris returns to the helm, and faces the Commander, the better," the Doctor stated emphatically.
"Half-shifts at first," Kathryn clarified. "We need to let Tom know that we trust his ability to fly, without placing him under undue stress. He spent this morning on the holodec, flying a simulation and interacting with a hologram of Chakotay. After some initial nervousness, he performed admirably. As long as the real Chakotay acts in a purely professional manner towards him, I have faith in Tom's ability to pull this off. I trust that none of you will let him down by letting your own feelings interfere with your duties. If Tom can attempt to forgive Chakotay, then none of us have the right to be so self-indulgent as to allow our own personal feelings to show.
"Please bear in mind that Chakotay has no idea of what he has done. Any coldness or antipathy from you will cause him to question your behaviour. I will not allow Tom's self-sacrifice to be in vain. We are a long way from home, we need everyone to pull together if we are going to survive. We need Chakotay. Try and remember that this Chakotay has done nothing wrong. Dismissed."
Tom was proud of his performance on the holodec. Aware that he was being closely monitored, he greeted the hologram of Chakotay with aplomb, seated himself at the "helm" and proceeded to run through a series of simulated situations.
Admittedly the hairs on the nape of his neck crawled constantly as he pictured Chakotay's dark eyes boring into the back of his head and he successfully disproved the manufacturers claims regarding his underarm deodorant. He could feel sweat pooling in his armpits and the middle of his back. Wearing clothes at all had become so unfamiliar that the additional friction of the spreading patches of damp gave him the bizarre urge to strip his uniform top off completely.
Yet, other than nearly jumping out of his skin when the holo-Chakotay suddenly appeared at his shoulder to peer down at his console, Tom knew that his performance had been stellar. Admittedly his stats were lower than they had ever been, but they still made Hamilton look like a raw cadet in comparison, so he was confident that he would be cleared to fly.
It was all he could think about. Flying again. Escaping just for a few hours the hell of his own thoughts and simply being, simply doing the one thing that he could do without thought, without doubt. Even if he did have to share the bridge with Chakotay's eyes.
He retired to bed early, unable to face the thought of visiting the mess hall, let alone the holodecs. Fortunately, the Captain had been kind enough to credit his ration account with a suspiciously large amount. Guilt money, probably. Yet since it allowed him to eat alone for the foreseeable future he decided to quietly accept the offering.
Besides, he felt guilty too. He had lied to the Captain. Had lied to everyone, come to think of it. If silence could be construed as a lie.
Because it was all very well for them to believe that Ayala, Smitty and Dalby had orchestrated Chakotay's behaviour. It had, at least, ensured that Chakotay could stay on board. But the truth was, that Chakotay had been controlling him for years. Without wiping out the last eight years of Chakotay's life, how the hell could the Doctor fully eradicate Chakotay's memories since the thought of Simon had evidently consumed every moment of those eight years?
Only for those eight years, it had been his face that Chakotay had seen.
If the Doctor had truly removed every memory of Simon, Chakotay's brain would look like Swiss Cheese. The very fact that Chakotay would be returning to duty tomorrow proved conclusively to Tom that Chakotay's "chemical imbalance" might have been cured, and with it, hopefully, his uncontrolled mood swings, his cruelty and his hatred for Tom Paris but underneath he must still retain his feelings for Simon.
Because Chakotay's love for Simon had been real. The other things he had done were irrelevant. Chakotay had never hurt Simon. He had only hurt Tom. He had struck out at Tom in the madness of his grief. Simon he had cherished. He had raped Tom, but he had made love to Simon. And when B'Elanna had pointed her phaser, Chakotay hadn't hesitated to protect Simon with his very life.
And because the memory of the real Simon had gone, surely Chakotay would now believe that since Tom's face represented those feelings, that the feelings were really for him.
Somewhere, the man who loved Simon still existed and Tom was going to find him.
But this time, he was going to ensure that the name Chakotay cried out in passion was "Tom".