The Shattering of the Mask 27
See part 1 for disclaimer
Q'sd'n turned to the angry general and said, "Let the alien craft land."
T'sd'r bristled with fury.
"The pilot has refused to answer our hails, Prime. For all we know the ship could be a weapon of mass destruction. The idea of dropping the defense grid and allowing it in, is irresponsible and dangerous."
"It is not a weapon," Q'sd'n replied mildly.
"Then why won't the pilot announce his intentions?" T'sd'r challenged.
"Because, I suspect, he is in too much of a hurry to stop and talk to your men, T'sd'r."
The V'tx'n general's eyes widened.
"You believe he is here to stop the *other*?"
"Yes, and perhaps, if we do not interfere, he may arrive in time."
"His ships markings and design are different than the mother ship," V'tx'n argued, though with less rancor.
"But his desperation is the same as the Chakotay's, is it not?"
"Entering our space like this *is* equally suicidal," the general snapped.
"Which is, I believe, my point," Q'sd'n replied mildly. "Open the defense grid on a narrow window to ensure that he lands in X'rn'dr. Erect a force shield around the craft, in case it *is* a weapon, and prepare my ground car so that I might meet this pilot when he disembarks. If he is who I believe he is, there is little time."
"Can you not prevent the other alien from harming himself until we know the truth of the matter? It would be a more prudent action to take."
The V'tx'n Prime sighed.
"I gave my word to the Chakotay that we would not interfere in his necessary rituals. His beliefs demand that his life is sacrificed in the early dawn. I cannot stop the sun from rising, T'sd'r and I cannot, will not, break my word of honor to a man of obvious honor. What is meant to be will come to pass."
"Then why are you allowing the craft to land?"
"Because we can always find room in our hearts for hope, T'sd'r. Over the last three days there have been great rumblings of discontent and sorrow over the alien's decision. In the few days he has been here we have seen him to be a gentle spirit in great torment. No one wishes to see his suffering prolonged, but we would all welcome an alternative to his suicide."
As the Delta Flyer came to rest on the ground and her engines died down to an eerie quiet, Tom finally dared to take a deep shuddering breath.
He had been sure that they would shoot him down from the sky for his failure to answer their demands for an explanation of his presence. He wasn't stupid. He knew that approaching a well defended alien planet unannounced was tantamount to asking for a missile across his bow. He hadn't deliberately been silent.
He simply had been unable to speak.
As the increasingly angry demands of the aliens had flooded the cockpit with words of aggression, Tom had felt the too familiar signs of an oncoming panic attack. It had been all that he could do to keep flying the ship without curling himself into a ball of shivering terror.
He had done the unforgivable. He had left Voyager crippled, had stolen a shuttle, had turned his back on the only people who had ever tried to stand between him and hurt, to try to save the life of the man who had been responsible for tearing his life and soul apart, and he didn't even know *why* he was doing it.
"Please," Tom begged.
Q'sd'n looked thoughtfully at the young man. He was quivering with tension, with the need to race and stop Chakotay's ceremony, but his fear was too palpable to be only fear of the dark man's death.
"Why do you care?" he demanded. "I know what this man did to you. I insisted on full disclosure before I allowed him to come here."
"I love him," Tom whispered.
Q'sd'n nodded. This was, indeed, the true tragedy.
"You fear him though," he stated firmly. "You cannot truly feel safe with him. You fear that the *other* still lurks beneath his outward appearance."
Tom bit his lower lip and looked away, unable to lie to this surprisingly kind alien.
"He needs to be punished for what he did," Q'sd'n stated.
"It wasn't his fault!" Tom protested.
"I did not say he deserved punishment. I said that he *needs* it. Your forgiveness, though meant kindly, is worse for him than the knowledge of what he has done."
"I know," Tom whispered. "But I *need* him. Doesn't that count? Doesn't that matter? If he dies, I may as well die too."
"He strikes me as a gentle man, who finds the burden of his guilt too heavy to bear. In your forgiveness of him, you inadvertently add to that burden and the weight is too much for him. He is a man of honor. His honor demands that he is punished and because of your refusal to punish him, he has been forced to seek the judgment of his gods instead."
"You're saying that it is my fault he wants to kill himself?" Tom sobbed.
"I am saying that you alone have a way of saving him," Q'sd'n replied. "But it will be a difficult path for you both and perhaps you have both already suffered too much to walk it."
"What can I do? Please, help me," Tom begged.
"Use his beliefs against him. Call on his honor. Withdraw your forgiveness. Demand reparation. Insist that he lives to suffer *your* punishment instead of seeking that of the next world."
"I can't hurt him," Tom sobbed. "I can't pretend to hate him for what he did. I don't. It wasn't him. It wasn't his fault."
"He does not believe that, Tom Paris. The dawn will break shortly and it will be over. If you wish to save him, you must, perhaps, be strong enough to hurt him. It is necessary to suture a wound before it can heal. He needs you to burn him with your fire if he is ever to heal."
"I don't have any fire," Tom whispered.
"You are here, are you not? You have *that* much love for him that you have fought your own fear to try and save him. Can you not find in yourself a little *more* courage now?"
"Tom?" Chakotay asked disbelievingly.
"Put the knife down, Chakotay," Tom replied, his calm voice belied by his pale face and terrified blue eyes.
For a moment, Chakotay was uncertain whether Tom was terrified that he would use the ceremonial blade on himself or whether he would use it on the pilot. He realised that he had instinctively spun so that the sharp metal was pointed in Tom's direction, and so he dropped the blade with a horrified moan.
As soon as it clattered to the floor, a shudder of relief ran through the pilot's body.
"What are you doing here?" Chakotay asked.
"What the fuck do you think you are doing?"
"Why the hell do you care, Tom? Why the hell didn't you kill me yourself?" Chakotay screamed.
Tom crossed his arms defensively across his chest.
"Maybe I just want to watch you do it," he hissed.
Chakotay blinked in surprise but then he nodded. Tom was right. Maybe the pilot couldn't strike the blow, but he had every right to watch it. He reached for the knife again.
"Coward," Tom spat.
Chakotay looked up in disbelief. Tom was still keeping a safe distance between them but his face was screwed up in anger.
"It's the only way, Tom. The only way I can keep my honor."
"Screw your honor, you selfish bastard," Tom replied. "What am I supposed to do, huh? Am I supposed to kill myself too? Oh yeah, of course. I mean, shit, if honor demands your life for doing it to me, I guess if I had any honor I'd have killed myself for letting you do it. Is that what this is about? You proving that you're a better man than me after all? That you're braver than me? That you've got more fucking *honor* than me?"
"What I did to you, the things I did, I can't live with them, Tom. I, I can't be that person, I can't let that person live unpunished. Don't you understand that?" Chakotay begged.
"I'll tell you what I understand. You're running away. You're copping out. You're taking the easy way out and leaving ME to deal with your shit," Tom snarled.
"It's not like that, Tom. Please. You did nothing wrong. *I* am the guilty one. *I* deserve to die. I want you to forget about me, move on, try to get over what I did to you. Just turn around and walk away, Tom. Go back to Voyager, to people who love you and will protect you from bastards like me."
"They didn't do much of a job last time, did they?" Tom hissed.
"Just go, Tom. Please," Chakotay pleaded.
"Why the fuck should I? Do it, if you're going to do it. Let me watch. Let me see you do it so that I can spend the rest of my life knowing that even after you knew what you did to me, you still didn't give a fuck about me!"
"Spirits, that's not true. I love you, Tom," Chakotay cried.
Tom flinched as though he had been slapped.
"See," Chakotay said sadly. "It's better this way."
"Better for *you*, " Tom hissed. "What about me?"
"You move on."
"Move on? You don't know SHIT! Do you *know* what you did to me, Chakotay? Do you really know?"
"I don't remember, " Chakotay confessed. "But I read the files."
"Oh, you *read* the files," Tom spat. "You read a few pages on a viewscreen and so you *know*, do you? "
"No, I can't begin to pretend to *know*, Tom. I don't know the details, I can't even bear to think about what the details were."
"Shall I tell you how it was between us, *Commander*?"
"Please, Tom. Don't do this. I don't, I can't bear it."
"Tough shit, because I want to tell you, and you are going to listen. You owe me, Chakotay. You owe me more than your blood on a fucking knife. If you're going to kill yourself, at least fucking understand *why* you're doing it!"
Chakotay closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Tom was right. He owed Tom more than he could ever possibly pay. It Tom wanted to flay him with his accusations it was no less than he deserved, and maybe in some way it would help Tom to hurt him. He deserved Tom's anger, Tom's wrath. He couldn't deny Tom his need for vengeance.
Suddenly he saw his actions as cowardice, after all. He *had* been taking the easy way out. he had tried to deny Tom his pound of flesh. That was why Tom had come after him. Not to save his life, just to face his abuser and cut and tear him as he himself had been wounded.
"You kept me like an animal, Chakotay. No, worse than an animal. I wasn't your pet. I was your toy, your plaything. You kept me naked. I had to kneel in *position*. Do you know what that meant? DO YOU?" Tom screamed.
Chakotay shook his head helplessly.
"I had to kneel, all the time, with my knees apart so that you could see what was *yours*, with a nine-inch butt plug up my ass. You used to make me crawl on the floor. CRAWL, and then I had to suck you off, with that fucking plug in my ass driving me mad, until I couldn't stop myself getting hard too, and then you would make ME fetch a paddle and BEG you, fucking BEG YOU, to beat me until I came."
"Please, Tom, Don't," Chakotay pleaded.
"Then there was 'Boyz Night'. You don't remember that either, do you? When you and Ayala and Smitty and Dalby used to sit around drinking and playing poker and laughing at me as I hobbled around naked, with my ass so fucking bruised from the paddle that I could barely walk, but you made me serve you like a slave or suck you off in front of them so they could see how broken I was?
"But then again, they'd sampled the goods themselves, hadn't they? You'd let them have me enough times. Until you got possessive, of course, and decided that the only fun they could have with me was sticking the high-pressure maintenance hose up my ass to give me an enema.
"That was okay though, really. I mean it hurt like fuck, but at least it wasn't *me* doing it, was it? It wasn't until I learnt to be *good* that I really lost my pride. When you rewarded me for giving in by giving me my very own little enema kit and a butt plug that matched my eyes so I could do it to myself. You liked that, Chakotay. You liked knowing that I got myself ready for you. That I was so fucking scared of you that I would spend an hour in the bathroom with my own fingers up my ass, desperately trying to stretch myself so I could insert my own fucking sky blue butt plug.
"Did you read *that* in the medical files, Chakotay? Did you? "
"No," Chakotay gasped, tears of horrified shame rolling down his cheeks.
"Did it say how I used to scream when you fucked me because it hurt so much? And then it stopped hurting, and that was worse. I started *wanting* your cock in my ass. It was the only pleasure I had in a nightmare of pain. It used to feel so fucking *good* that I had to beg you to hurt me too just so I could remember that you were raping me.
"You used to call me 'Simon'. You loved Simon. If I pretended to be Simon you didn't rape me, you made love to me. Do you know how fucking much that hurt me? That you weren't *all* monster, that even mad you were capable of loving someone, cherishing someone, and I didn't want to be me anymore. I wanted to *be* Simon, so you'd stop hurting me. But when you touched me like that all I wanted was the pain back so I could remember that I was me again?"
"And then, it was over. I got rescued and you got thrown in the brig, and I was going to get my revenge on you, I was going to see you punished for what you did to me. Only you stole it from me. You were mad. You were ill. It wasn't your fault. It was mine."
"Shit, Tom. Don't say that, please. Don't ever think it was your fault."
"Why not? It was, wasn't it? The day you walked into the Sickbay and told me you'd ordered Dalby to rape me and I was yours now, to do what you wanted with, I could have said no. I could have gone to the Captain. I could have stopped it before it happened. You didn't kidnap me, Chakotay. I gave myself to you, I allowed it all to happen because I was too fucking scared to say no.
"Then, when it got worse, when you trapped me in your quarters, I never even tried to run away. Fuck, Chakotay. I just sabotaged Voyager to steal a shuttle and follow you here. Do you really think I wasn't capable of over-riding your door locks?"
"So why didn't you?" Chakotay begged.
"I don't know. I don't fucking KNOW. I keep telling myself I was too scared, too confused, too damned terrified of what you would do if you caught me. But, let's face it, you couldn't have done anything worse to me anyway, could you?"
"No," Chakotay whispered.
"You fucked my head, Chakotay. You fucked my head up so badly over eight years that I lost the ability to know who I was anymore. After Auckland, after what happened there, I lost my balls."
"What happened in Auckland, Tom?" Chakotay pleaded, needing to know now, needing the waves of pain and horror that were washing over him with Tom's bitter confession.
"Oh, you want *those* juicy details too, now? The fact that I turned up there and I apparently had a tattoo on my forehead saying 'Property of Chakotay, fuck at will?' You had a lot of friends there, didn't you? Lots of nice buddies willing to start the process of breaking me in.
"You know something, big guy? Something happens to you when you get stripped naked in the middle of a mess hall and the whole room take turns at your ass between courses while the guards pretend they can't see you screaming and begging for help. After that, you learn to wear a mask on your face just to be able to walk into a room full of faces, knowing they have all had you and will have you again.
"I was the Friday night mess entertainment in Auckland for nine months. I used to spend the rest of the week in the sickbay getting patched up for my next performance.
"Then, suddenly, I get this reprieve. Some Starfleet Captain arrives, like a hero, and offers me a vacation in the badlands. Not much chance of a sun-tan, but what the hell, it's a nice change from being a public utility fuck-toy, I figure.
"But, guess what? The Paris luck holds out. I end up in the Delta Quadrant with Ayala's arm up my ass. No change there, I figure. So the doctor puts my insides back together, and I wait for my next debut in the cargo bay, but, guess what? Nothing happens. I figure that they got a bit scared with how bad I got injured and they don't want the merchandise *too* badly damaged, so I wait, and I wait some more, and then slowly, as the weeks become months and the months become years, I start to believe its over, really over.
"I stop looking over my shoulder all the time. I start to let my mask slip, stop pretending that I am untouchable, I start to trust people, I even begin a real relationship with B'Elanna. I start to dream that the nightmare is over and that I can be a normal guy. I start to believe that I am safe. And then,"
"And then it started again," Chakotay whispered.
"Yeah," Tom laughed. "All those years of confidence were wiped out when Dalby threw me over his console and ripped my ass apart, and I found myself begging, fucking BEGGING him to keep doing it to me."
"Oh, wasn't *that* in the report, Commander? Didn't it tell you what a whore I am? I'm just a slut, that's all. *That's* what Auckland taught me. That I *like* it rough, or should I say my body is so fucked up that it *thinks* I do? But, of course, Simon liked it rough, so you had to make me react the same way, didn't you? I got well and truly trained by the Chakotay School of Rape Appreciation and graduated with honors, top of the class.
"You fucked me up, Chakotay. It's up to you to put it right again."
"What the hell can I do?" Chakotay asked helplessly.
"You made me into *your* toy, Chakotay, so its too fucking late to say you don't want to play with me anymore."
"You *want* me to touch you again?" Chakotay asked in horrified disbelief. "You tell me all those things and think that I could ever lay a finger on you again? Can't you see I'd rather die than hurt you or anyone ever again? I don't want to *play* with you, Tom and the fact that you want me to only proves how badly I have damaged you. I don't want to be responsible for any more of your pain."
"I don't give a shit what you *want*," Tom howled. "This isn't about *you* anymore. You gave that right up when you decided to kill yourself. Fine. So you want to die? Well I don't give a shit what you want. I don't care. You owe me, Chakotay. Your life is MINE. You want to suffer for what you did? Then suffer. Wallow in your self-pity. Drown in it, if you like. But it's going to be on MY terms, not yours. You owe me, and I'm calling in my markers. You don't get away that easy. I'm not letting you off the hook like this. If you have any *honor* then you will live and face up to what you did to me."
"I can't," Chakotay begged. "Please, Tom. Don't do this to me. Don't do it to yourself. What's happened can never be put right. Nothing I can do will ever make anything better. I can't live knowing what I did, knowing what you suffered because of me, and knowing that I can never put anything right again."
"You can, Chakotay, and you will. You will because your fucking *honor* will make you live, and if it hurts and it is unbearable, then tough shit, join the club, because *I* intend to live, and I need you."
"You don't need me, Tom," Chakotay assured him.
"Don't fucking tell me what I need, you bastard. For three months you told me what I needed. You told me when to eat and piss and shit. Don't you EVER dare to tell me again what I do or do not need."
"I'm sorry," Chakotay mumbled.
"You will be," Tom snarled.
He saw something jump then in Chakotay's eyes, and it wasn't fear or guilt, it was hope, and Tom realised that Q'sd'n was right. The idea of punishment in this life was the only thing that would stop Chakotay from seeking it in the next.
"What do you want of me, Tom?" Chakotay asked brokenly.
"Eight years," Tom replied.
"What?" Chakotay demanded in disbelief.
"You took eight years of my life and turned them into a living hell, Chakotay. So that's what I want. Eight years of your life. Then, if you still want to kill yourself, I'll give you the knife myself," Tom replied with a cold smile.
"Eight years of what?"
"Eight years of you being mine, Chakotay. In any fucking way I say you are. You will belong to me. If I want to beat you, you let me. If I want to give your ass away in the mess hall you'll say "yes, sir" and if I want you to spend those eight years kneeling in position in *my* fucking quarters, Chakotay, you'll do it. You owe me, you bastard, and you are going to pay. Do you understand?"
"Is this really what you need, Tom? To hurt me like I hurt you? To do to me what I did to you? Is that what you need? Vengeance?"
"And if I do?" Tom demanded.
Chakotay bent his head in defeat.
"Then I'll agree," he said brokenly. "You're right. I deserve to suffer and if it helps you, then that makes it right."
"So you won't kill yourself? Your life is mine? I can do anything that I want with you?" Tom demanded.
"Yes. For eight years, I'll be yours," Chakotay agreed, his head bowed in shame. "I deserve no more."
Tom turned away to hide his tears. It was unbearable to see Chakotay broken like this. He didn't want Chakotay's grief and guilt. He didn't want to inflict pain on this gentle, broken man. He wanted to see those brown eyes sparkle with love, not defeat. He wanted Chakotay as his lover, not his slave. He could no more raise his hand against this man than he could face the idea of suffering more pain himself. It hurt him that Chakotay would even believe him capable of exacting vengeance in this way.
But if the alternative was Chakotay's corpse lying under an alien sky, he would take what he had and work with it.
This way, at least, Chakotay would have to live.
Somehow, he would find a way to mend both of their shattered souls. God, surely in eight years they could find a way to trust and love each other. He had bought some time, at least, and that was a start.
After the stunt he had pulled to steal the Delta Flyer, he might spend the next several months in the brig, but at least he knew that Chakotay had given his word that he would not take his life during Tom's incarceration.
Then, maybe, they could start the slow process of healing.