The Shattering of the Mask 22
See part 1 for disclaimer
"I don't think I can," Tom said apologetically, his voice little more than a whisper.
Kathryn took a much needed sip of her coffee and sighed. She had been meeting with Tom every morning for three weeks now and they were getting nowhere. It wasn't Tom's fault that he obviously didn't trust her. Trust couldn't be demanded, it could only be earned and she understood he might feel that she was the last person on this ship that he could depend on. Well, second-last, if you counted Chakotay.
Tom was having to report to sickbay three times a day, for the Doctor to check that he had stopped his self-abuse and to receive his medicine. They had decided that Tom couldn't be trusted to use his medications wisely himself, especially given the stronger drugs that were being used in an attempt to stabilize his depression.
Unfortunately, Tom had, quite understandably, seen their decision as proof that they didn't trust him and had become far less communicative as a result.
He was also obviously upset by Chakotay's decision to take over command of Beta shift so that his shifts did not coincide with Tom's. Chakotay's request to change shifts was based on his own fear that he might have a "fit" in front of the pilot and terrify him, and although Kathryn felt guilty about the fear she had seen in Chakotay's eyes when she had mentioned the possibility of the "fits", the alternative was far worse.
"This isn't a test, Tom. There aren't any right or wrong answers," she coaxed.
Tom's eyes flashed as he finally looked up at her.
"Yes there are," he accused bitterly.
Kathryn was relieved to finally see a spark of emotion in the pilot, rather than the dull, apologetic apathy that he usually demonstrated during her would-be counseling sessions.
"What do you mean?" she asked, careful to keep her voice to a pleasant tone of interest.
"You don't want to know what I feel. You just want me to say that I feel the way *you* want me to," Tom spat.
Her head jerked in surprise, and Tom flinched at her movement, his eyes suddenly panicked as though his own defiant words had terrified him. It was his fear, more than anything, that forced her to make a decision that she had been trying to avoid.
She would have to bring up the subject of Tom's fixation on Chakotay.
She had put the acknowledgement of her own suspicions off for too long, as though in refusing to say them aloud it would deny them any reality. Now she could see that her own concern for Tom was harming him.
By expressing her own horror at the idea that Tom might have romantic feelings about his former abuser, she had forced Tom into a position of having to either lie or stay silent, lest she over-react if he confessed what was becoming increasingly obvious to be true. She couldn't be his counselor *and* sit in judgment on his feelings. She had to allow him to express them, and then hope to God he changed his mind himself.
"You mean the fact that you fell in love with him?" She asked.
"Oh shit," Tom muttered and curled deeper into his chair as though he wanted to hide.
"You know how I feel about that, Tom. I haven't tried to hide it from you. That's not the point. My feelings, and my concern for you, are not the issue here. Your feelings are. I apologise if I have made you feel that you couldn't express those feelings in front of me.
"I'm not here to sit in judgment on you, or to tell you your feelings are invalid. I admit it worries me that you feel this way about him, but if you do, I want you to feel able to say so."
"You're not mad with me?" Tom asked, in a small, hesitant voice.
"Of course I'm not mad with you. Tuvok explained why its perfectly nat-"
"Tuvok doesn't know shit!" Tom yelled.
Kathryn blinked, reminded herself that she was here as a counselor, not a captain, and decided not to call Tom on his language.
"You sound angry with Tuvok, Tom," she said mildly.
Tom just bit his lower lip and looked away.
"You're angry with me too, aren't you?" she asked.
Tom pretended not to hear her. She took that as a yes.
"You're not angry with Chakotay though. That surprises me," she commented.
Tom's head jerked back in her direction.
"You don't know shit, either," he hissed.
Instead of feeling angry, Kathryn felt something akin to excitement. He was talking to her, finally opening up, and if he wanted to use her as a verbal punching bag, then so be it. She owed him at least that much for letting the whole situation happen in the first place.
"Then why don't you tell me?" she asked.
Tom hugged himself and dropped his eyes.
"I can't explain."
"It won't make sense. You won't understand."
"Why don't you just tell me what you feel, and then we'll worry about trying to make sense of it afterwards," she suggested.
"You'll think I'm crazy," he whispered fearfully.
"No I won't. Try me," she urged and she made a surreptitious movement that allowed her to tap a pre-programmed button on her desk that would warn Tuvok not to let them be disturbed for anything less than a red-alert. She didn't want to run the risk of losing this opportunity to see into Tom's tortured soul.
"I can't pretend it never happened," Tom said abruptly.
"No one expects you to," Kathryn replied.
"Yes, you do. You want me to just put it behind me and pull myself together, like it never happened."
"We want you to be able to move on, certainly. No one thinks you'll ever forget what happened. We do obviously hope that you will eventually be able to put it behind you. "
"What if I don't want to?" Tom challenged.
"Don't want to what?"
"I don't want to put it behind me. I don't want to forget what happened. I just want to find a way to live with it. I don't want to keep pretending it didn't happen, I need to find a way to deal with the fact that it did."
Kathryn was confused. Surely that *was* what they all wanted for Tom.
"Tom, what Chakotay did to you, raping you -"
"HE NEVER FUCKING RAPED ME!" Tom screamed.
"Don't you see, Tom, that the fact you can say that, believe that even, is the problem?"
"You don't know shit," Tom repeated bitterly.
"I admit I've never been raped, Tom. I can't begin to imagine how that feels. I do know that it is common for a victim to deny that it happened to them."
"I'M NOT A FUCKING VICTIM!" Tom howled.
Something sparked in Kathryn's head and she finally thought she understood. It wasn't the physical abuse that was torturing Tom, it was the idea that he had been a victim. *That* was what he didn't want to face. That was why the vilification of Chakotay didn't help him.
"So it's a consent issue?" She asked softly.
Tom looked at her in complete surprise.
"If you tell yourself you love Chakotay, then what he did wasn't really against your consent, so you aren't a victim?"
Tom shook his head and actually chuckled.
"No, but it's a good try. I'm surprised you'd even look at it that way."
"I don't *agree* with the reasoning, but I would understand it," Kathryn replied.
"Fuck, I wish it was that simple," Tom muttered.
"So, tell me how it is," Kathryn suggested.
Tom surged to his feet and Kathryn feared that he was going to bolt from the room but, instead, he just began to pace up and down, as though he could only speak if he kept moving.
"I can't even think of words to describe what Chakotay did to me for those three months. I know I hated it. I was so scared and confused and I was in so much pain all the time that I couldn't think, and I never once, not *once* tried to escape. I just gave in. I just fucking gave in and *let* him do it to me. I thought you all knew. That you hated me enough to let him do it to me. I hated you. I hated everyone.
"I didn't have any hope. Do you understand that? If you all knew then there was nowhere to run to. No way of hiding. No way to escape him. The thought of trying to run and being caught and punished scared me more than staying with him. I was too fucking scared to even try.
"Do you know how much I hated myself when I realised you *didn't* know? That if I'd just had the balls to stand up to him in the beginning none of it would have happened at all?
"Then, somewhere along the way, I began to realise he was mad. Don't get me wrong, Captain. I still hated him. I didn't care if he *was* mad. Only I was *still* too scared of him to even try to escape. He hurt me so much if I defied him that I lost the ability to even defend myself.
"Do you know how hard that is to admit to myself, let alone to you? The fact that I was so fucking scared of him that I would kneel on his floor and piss myself rather than break "position". Do you know that I still can't walk into a bathroom and just take a piss without having a panic attack?
"I get up in the morning and if I didn't have a uniform to put on, I'd never manage to dress myself because just the thought of having to make a decision like what to wear makes me break into a cold sweat. I stand for hours in front of the replicator trying to decide what I want to eat, and my brain gets so foggy that, as often as not, I just give up because I can't decide.
"It wasn't just my pride he took, Captain. He stole my ability to even make a choice without worrying whether I am going to be punished. He ripped my balls off and I can't seem to find them again."
He stopped his wild pacing, leant his head against the wall so that his back was towards her and began to sob, his body shaking with such terrible tremors that Kathryn feared his legs would give way and he would slump to the floor.
She leapt to her feet and rushed around her desk to comfort him. She held him as he sobbed, her own tears streaming down her face as his words clawed gouges in her heart.
"Don't say that, Tom. You have more balls than the rest of this ship put together. No-one else would have done what you did, and let Chakotay stay on the ship."
"You don't know me. You don't know what I did," Tom sobbed bitterly. "Do you know *why* I found out he was mad? Because he broke me. You all think it's some stupid fucking denial on my part when I say he never raped me, but you're wrong. He never even fucked me until I begged him to."
"I don't understand," Kathryn said carefully.
"He used to beat me, okay? That's all. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't face it. I could hardly walk and he told me to go fetch the paddle again, and I knew he was going to beat me, and I, I couldn't. I just fucking couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't face another beating, so I begged him to fuck me instead. BEGGED HIM. I begged him like a fucking whore just because I was too much of a coward to take another beating. So don't tell me he RAPED me, because he didn't. I wanted him to fuck me."
Kathryn could barely breathe for the anger that was filling her as Tom 'confessed'. She had known the details of Tom's captivity but they had never hurt her so much as in this moment as Tom's own pain and misguided self-hatred proved to her that as bad as she had imagined it had been for Tom, the reality had obviously been far worse.
How anyone could do to another human being what Chakotay had done to Tom was beyond her ability to understand. He hadn't just abused Tom's body, he had evidently screwed with Tom's mind until the poor bastard had become a party to his own abuse.
Tom saw the fact that he had given in to the fear and pain and helplessness of his position as a sign of weakness. She, herself, saw his survival against all odds as being a sign of strength. Tom might *think* that the fact he had asked Chakotay to use him sexually rather than physically beat him was a form of consent, but he was wrong. Terribly, tragically wrong.
"That doesn't mean it wasn't rape, Tom. You admitted yourself that he held you against your will. I *know* he sexually molested you with the enemas and the, the other things, and he terrorized you until you had no other option except to give in. That wasn't consent, Tom. That was just you doing what you needed to do to survive," she assured him.
"Oh yeah?" Tom challenged bitterly. "So, tell me, *counselor*, if it wasn't rape, why did I enjoy it?"
Kathryn sighed. Tuvok had warned her of this possibility, that Tom's body had probably responded to the abuse which would obviously affect his ability to see himself as purely a victim of the abuse, rather than a participant in it.
"It is perfectly natural for a body to respond physically to sexual stimulation, even if it is under duress. Often the fear increases the physical reaction. It doesn't mean that the response is voluntary," she began.
Tom thrust himself out of her arms, turned to face her and started a slow sarcastic clapping.
"Which text book did that come out of?" he mocked bitterly.
"*That's* why none of you know shit, Captain. Because I've *been* raped, remember? Dalby proved your little theory to me enough times. Ayala once punched me in the ass so hard that my guts ended up wrapped around my lungs and I came as he did it. So I *know* the difference between a rape induced hard-on and the real thing.
"I'll tell you something, and maybe if nothing else, it will at least disgust you enough that you finally stop trying to fuck around in my head. When Chakotay thought I was Simon, when that poor mad bastard was fucking me and he *thought* I was the Simon he loved, instead of the Tom Paris he hated, I tried to pretend that I *was* Simon just so he'd keep loving me."
"That was just self-defense, Tom," Kathryn told him desperately.
"Maybe it was, at the time," Tom admitted with a shrug. "But now it's not, is it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I can't sleep. When I sleep I dream and it's the bad things, the terrible things. I dream that I am still his prisoner. That he's still mad. That I'll never escape. So I lie in bed all night, trying to stop myself from sleeping, and I don't think about the bad things, all I can think about is the way he used to look at me when he thought I was Simon. I want to see that look in his eyes when he looks at me, Tom Paris.
"If he looked at me that way, if he loved me, I'd be safe from the dreams. I'd know the *other* Chakotay had really gone, the Chakotay who hurt me. I need him to love me and then I'll know that I'm safe. I want him to love me, Captain, because he's the only person who can ever put this right. He's the only person who can save me. Why won't you let him love me? "
"Oh, God, Tom. If you could only hear yourself. You've just admitted that you have nightmares about him. You said he terrified you so much that you still can't handle basic everyday tasks like eating and dressing, and you want me to allow you to get involved with him again?"
"I KNEW you wouldn't understand," he hissed bitterly.
"Make me understand, Tom," Kathryn offered.
"Don't you see that if something *good* could come out of this, then I could learn in time to let go of the bad? I'm not pretending it will be easy. I admit that just being in the same room as him sometimes makes me want to throw up and run and hide. I *know* it sounds crazy to say I love him.
"But *he* didn't hurt me. *He* didn't do those things to me. I'm not in love with the sadistic bastard who kidnapped me, Captain. It's *not* Stockholm Syndrome. I fell in love with the Chakotay I saw behind the madness, behind the mask. I clung on to *that* Chakotay. It was those odd moments of lucidity behind his madness that kept *me* sane.
"And if my feelings were *wrong*, if the way I feel *now* is wrong, then I'm not a victim, Captain. I'm just a whore."
"Don't say that, Tom."
"Why not? It's true isn't it? Either I'm as mad as he was, or my feelings for him *are* valid, or I'm just a whore who sold my ass because I was too much of a coward to face any more pain."
Kathryn rubbed her face tiredly. She needed to talk to Tuvok and the Doctor about what Tom had said. She didn't have the necessary knowledge to deal with this much confusion in one tortured man.
"Let's leave it at this point today, Tom. We both need to think about what you have just said."
Tom just nodded fearfully, keeping his face firmly fixed on the floor, obviously too uncomfortable to look her in the eyes now he had confessed. Kathryn realised she couldn't just make no comment without him thinking that she was disgusted by what he had said.
"Nothing is black and white, Tom. You can't just say pick a choice; mad, right or whore and that is the end of the matter. It's not realistic. You are boxing yourself into a corner where you can only see one solution, and that solution is Chakotay. I don't accept that you need Chakotay to *save* you.
"I am not denying your feelings, Tom. Perhaps, when all of this is resolved, there will even come the day that I agree to you resuming a consensual relationship with Chakotay. Who knows? I am no longer going to close myself to the possibility. But that's all it is, Tom. A possibility. I warn you now, that it will take me a hell of a long time to accept it as a fact.
"In the meantime, I want you to promise me that you will make absolutely no attempt to socialize with him."
"No buts, Tom. If you agree, and you continue our counseling sessions and cooperate with the Doctor, then, once you are off your medication and back on duty full-time, and I can see that you are looking after yourself properly, then if you want to discuss the idea with me again, I will listen."
"The Doctor said I'll need to take the medicine for months," Tom mumbled.
"Then, let's set a date for six months from now."
"Six months?" Tom protested.
"If you *really* love him, Tom, you'll still love him in six months won't you? And if you don't love him enough to wait, then you don't love him, do you?"
"You just want me to change my mind," Tom muttered.
"Yes I do," Kathryn admitted. "I won't lie to you, Tom. I think you're wrong. I think your problem is your own self-image, and that's something you have to fix by yourself. You can't become a whole person by using *any* relationship as an emotional prop. The day you walk in here, with your head held high and confidence in your step, and still look me in the eye and say you want Chakotay, I will listen to you. It's up to you, Tom.
"I'm not arrogant enough to interfere in other people's romantic entanglements as long as I know that they are making their decision with lucidity and good judgment. In this case though, I don't believe you are capable of either of those things. Until you prove to me that you are, I will prevent you from forming a sexual relationship with *anyone* on this ship. You're too vulnerable Tom and just as I won't stand by and let anyone hurt you, I also will prevent you from hurting yourself. I won't let you try and use Chakotay to make yourself better. It's not fair on you and its not fair on him either. He can't save you, Tom, even if he wants to. The only person who can really save Tom Paris is Tom Paris."
"So we're back to "pull yourself together"," Tom answered sadly.
"I'm afraid so," Kathryn confirmed. "But you won't be alone, Tom. I'm here to help you, as are the Doctor and Tuvok and your friends. We all care about you deeply, Tom, and I promise you, that if, when this is all over, you still feel the same way about Chakotay, I will listen to you."
"Okay," Tom nodded reluctantly. "I'll try."
"I know you will," Kathryn agreed.
She waited until he left before summoning Tuvok and The Doctor to an emergency meeting in her ready room.
"There is a certain amount of rationality to his thoughts, Captain," Tuvok stated coolly. "In an ordinary situation, had the Commander been aware of what he was doing, I would concur with you that the idea of Tom ever forgiving his abuse would be unnatural and evidence of psychological trauma. Since the Commander was not responsible for his actions, and the likelihood of him returning to that pattern of behaviour is negligible, it is not so surprising that Tom is open to the possibility of a future relationship with him.
"During my own counseling sessions with him, he admitted that he has always been physically attracted to the Commander before he was aware of the Commander's hand in the abuse he suffered from Dalby and Ayala, and that if he had been approached in normal manner the likelihood is that he would have agreed to a voluntary relationship with him."
Kathryn slammed her empty coffee cup down in temper.
"I don't care whether Tom and Chakotay might have had a hypothetical relationship if Chakotay hadn't been mad. The fact is that he was. Tom is so obviously wounded psychologically by his experiences that he isn't capable of making a decision that isn't affected by those experiences. Perhaps Tom only *thinks* he remembers being physically attracted to Chakotay before this happened. The fact is that he was dating B'Elanna Torres at the time. A woman. Which makes me highly doubtful of the validity of his desire now to embark on a relationship with a man."
"Many people have bi-sexual feelings, Captain," The Doctor interrupted. "The fact that Tom was romantically involved with a woman does not preclude the idea that he might have similar feelings towards a man. I am, however, as concerned as you are that he sees Chakotay as being the only person who can 'save' him from his own memories by replacing them with more acceptable ones."
"There is a certain logic to the idea, though," Tuvok stated.
"I can't believe you said that," Kathryn objected.
"Over the last five weeks, the Commander's behaviour has been impeccable. Everything about his attitude suggest that it truly was the disease in his brain that caused his anomalous behaviour. His decision to voluntarily remove himself from Mr. Paris's presence indicates that he feels care and respect towards him. There is a certain logic in the Commander becoming the cure to the harm he himself caused."
"I'm sorry, I can't accept it as a solution. As I told Tom, until such time as I am convinced that Tom is cured, I will not agree to him pursuing a relationship with Chakotay," Kathryn stated firmly.
"He won't ever be *cured*, Captain. It's not a disease. No-one can go through an experience like he has and simply shrug it off. He will learn to cope with his memories. He will eventually stop needing counseling and anti-depressive drugs. He will *appear* cured. That is all," The Doctor argued.
"I know," Kathryn agreed. "There will, however, come a point where he will have to be given control of his own life again. I will not perpetually treat him as an invalid. Once we are at least confident that he will no longer harm himself and he is coping with day to day life again, I will stop interfering. I believe that he will make the choice himself that he does not want Chakotay in his life."
"You will encourage him to make that choice," Tuvok concluded.
"Yes, Tuvok. I will," she admitted without shame.
"And if he still decides that he wishes to pursue a relationship, and if the Commander is also interested in him in that way, what will you do?"
"Then reluctantly, I will have to step aside and allow him to make his own mistake and if he is hurt in the process, I will have to add that guilt to the considerable burden I am already carrying over this situation. That's why I pray it never comes to that."