The Shattering of the Mask 29
By Morticia

See part 1 for disclaimer


"Iím sorry about the collar and chain thing," Kathryn mumbled sheepishly, burying her nose in her mug of coffee but peeking over the rim to check Chakotay's reaction to her confession.

Chakotay remained comfortably sprawled in his chair in her ready room, one hand holding his own drink, the other carding absently through his hair as he thought about her words.

"It seemed out of character for Tom," Chakotay finally replied in a mild, thoughtful voice. "I assumed someone had suggested it to him, but my money was on Tuvok."

He gave her a wry grin and she chuckled, appreciating his sense of humor over the situation. Whatever she may have told Tom, there was no way she would have made the suggestion if she hadn't been one hundred percent positive that Chakotay would understand and approve of her idea.

"Yes, it is the sort of logical thing he would have thought of," Kathryn agreed. "I really am sorry, but I was sure youíd

understand why I gave Tom the idea."

"Of course," Chakotay nodded. "Heís actually managed to sleep this last week, and his response times at the helm have leapt up as a consequence."

"Do you think thatís why I said it?" Kathryn asked curiously. "Just for Tomís sake?"

Chakotay gave a rueful chuckle.

"I know that it is Ďprimarilyí for Tomís sake, as is this whole fiasco. You made that perfectly clear to me when I came back to Voyager and it was too late for me to go back on my word."

"Are you regretting that decision, Chakotay?" Kathryn asked in genuine concern. Although she had clutched at the agreement between Tom and Chakotay like she was drowning and had been offered a life-raft, she was well aware that both men had deep mental scars from their joint experiences. Her only option had been to concentrate on Tom's needs and hope, by doing so, she was also addressing Chakotay's.

"In a way, I suppose, but itís just a selfish thing. I look in the mirror and canít bear to see my own face staring back at me. I find myself smiling or tempted to laugh at something and suddenly I feel so guilty about daring to feel happy that I want to suffer and be punished. I thought Tom would treat me badly. I *wanted* Tom to treat me badly," Chakotay admitted.

"But Tom obviously *doesn't* want to treat you badly, and it's not fair of you to expect Tom to do something that will make *him* feel guilty, just to assuage your own feelings of guilt," she reminded him gently.

"I know that, Kathryn. Damn, I *know* Tom isn't capable of cruelty. I hoped he would at least take a fair shot at me though. It isn't natural for him to have *no* anger towards me, and between you and me, I'm pretty sure that he has lots of anger, but is simply too frightened of me, or his memories of me, to do anything about it," Chakotay confessed sadly.

"Well it comes down to whether you care more about yourself or Tom, doesnít it? What is most important is whatever *he* needs to recover and if his idea of reparation doesnít coincide with your expectations then its just too bad. If you are more interested in your own "punishment" than in Tomís recovery, than you arenít the good man that Tom swears that you are."

"But why? Why does he want to forgive me? I just donít know why he doesnít hate me, Kathryn," Chakotay replied in genuine bewilderment.

"He hates what you did to him, obviously, but understands that it was not you who really did those things. He understands that more clearly than you do. Having said that, what he believes and what he feels are obviously two separate things."

"Heís terrified of me, Kathryn. His head might be telling him that I am safe, but his body knows better. He flinches whenever I move towards him," Chakotay admitted with a bitter sob.

"I know," she agreed.

"Thatís why I came back, I think. The real reason. Because, when he stood there, telling me the things that I had done to him, it became clear to me that heíll never recover until the day he can look me in the eye and not feel fear. My death would have stolen that possibility from him. He could never have known whether he ever could stand up to me. Iím not talking about whether he can strike me or punish me, or exact payback. I mean truly regain enough confidence not to flinch at a sudden movement or cringe when I raise my hand."

"What do you propose to do about it?" Kathryn asked.

"The chain was a start, Kathryn. It's humiliating as hell, I admit, but it makes him feel safe with me. I think he needs more of those forms of reassurance. He needs to know that I *can't* hurt him, instead of him having to simply *believe* that I won't. The dynamics of our relationship have to change."

"I'm not sure if I approve of you two even having a relationship," Kathryn admitted.

"I know, Kathryn. Try and understand though. I love Tom and he obviously feels the same way, at the moment at least. I accept that his sexual desire for me is probably just a reaction to what I did to him and that once he has recovered, *if* he ever recovers, he will probably move on. I can't pretend that the idea doesn't hurt me, it does, but after what I have done, I don't deserve him. I don't deserve anyone's love."

"Chakotay that's not true," Kathryn protested.

Chakotay just shrugged. He knew that it was and didn't want the conversation to turn into a discussion of *his* mental health. The important person here was Tom.

"The point I'm trying to make, Kathryn, is that Tom has a problem sexually now, because of me. He believes I am the only person who can help him get over that problem, and I agree. The fact that I raped him, keep him helpless and more to the point made him *enjoy* the sexual act while he was helpless, has left him literally impotent. It's my responsibility to help him get past that problem."

"Forgive my bluntness, Chakotay, but do you really think that Tom can get past his memories by subjecting you to a similar indignity?"

"Absolutely. If *I* am the helpless one, if *he* has the power in the situation, it will be a way for him to start seeing himself as strong again."

"He is strong, Chakotay," Kathryn hissed.

"Of course he is. If I had been through what he went through I would have been a quivering wreck, Kathryn. His strength, his determination to survive, his insistence that *I* survive, these are all proof of his strength. The problem is that we can see it, but he can't, and the only opinion that really counts here is his."

"I can't see him hurting you, Chakotay. He isn't the type."

"I'm not suggesting he should, although I *do* wish he would," Chakotay said with a wry grin. "I've been talking to the Doctor about this. For a hologram, he's quite an expert on sexual relationships. I'm not suggesting an abusive relationship between Tom and I. There's something the Doctor suggested. A D/s relationship?"

Kathryn looked blank.

"It's where one of the partners is clearly the dominant partner sexually, and the other is submissive. It is a consensual thing. It often is not the physically stronger person who is dominant, and it rarely carries itself out of the bedroom. All it means is that the dominant partner calls the shots sexually with the complete submission of the other partner," Chakotay explained.

"Forgive me, Chakotay, but I can't see it. Not the idea itself, it sounds fine in theory, but let's face it, there simply isn't anything submissive about you. It's obvious to me and it must be equally obvious to Tom. You can tell him, as often as you like, that he is in charge but he will just be waiting for you to turn on him or to take advantage of the situation."

"Not if he ties me up," Chakotay replied calmly.

Kathryn laughed, then realised Chakotay wasn't joking and her eyes widened.

"You seriously are suggesting that Tom should tie you up and, and, um,"

"'Um' sounds good," Chakotay replied with a small smile.

"So, you *still* want Tom to rape you as a form of payback," Kathryn spat in disgust.

"You don't understand, Kathryn. This isn't about rape, although I admit that it *could* work out that way once I am helpless. Only, since I am inviting him to do it, it isn't rape, is it? Anyway, that's not what I am talking about. I mean the idea that I voluntarily agree to some form of bondage so that Tom feels completely in control. At least until some trust is built up between us."

"AHA," Kathryn exclaimed, as the penny dropped. "This is about *you* showing trust to Tom in the hope that he will one day learn to trust you."

"You do understand," Chakotay said softly.

"I do," Kathryn agreed with a small smile. "You're forgetting something important though. In suggesting this, you are taking control anyway. You are calling the shots, creating the scenario for Tom to play in, aren't you?"

"Not if he doesn't know that I suggested it," Chakotay replied quietly.

"WHAT? You want *me* to suggest it to him?" Kathryn demanded.

"Why not? You seemed to have no problem with suggesting a collar and chain, Kathryn. What's a set of handcuffs or two after that?" Chakotay replied with a smug grin.