THE SHATTERING OF THE MASK 7/?
Disclaimer – part 1
The next few days were a blur for Tom. He would wake in the morning stiff and cold from his night on the floor. He would hobble to the bathroom to remove the dildo and shower before donning his uniform and accompanying the Commander to the mess hall where he would sit in obedient silence whilst Chakotay made a big public performance of fetching his breakfast and making him eat whatever was put in front of him.
Vaguely Tom noted that no one sat with them. Few people approached and then it was only to speak to Chakotay. No one spoke to Tom at all. Unaware of the fact that the rumor mill had circulated with its usual efficiency the tale of how ill Tom was, how near he was to a breakdown and should not be put under pressure by casual conversation, Tom only noticed his growing sense of isolation and helplessness. Not seeing the surreptitious but sympathetic glances of the other crewmembers at his unusual demeanor he would walk slowly to the Sickbay and silently go to work.
As none of the visitors to Sickbay dared to talk to him under the Doctor’s watchful eyes, as no one made any approaches of friendship or concern, he became more and more convinced that EVERYONE was in Chakotay’s pocket. That they all knew and approved of Tom’s new way of life. And the more paranoid he became, the more he sank deeper into depression.
After each shift he would visit Dalby and then make his painful trek back to Chakotay’s quarters. He would strip and kneel in position and then wait for Chakotay. Every night Chakotay would return home and ignore him completely. Chakotay would change out of his uniform and into a comfortable robe to spend a few hours working or reading or watching a vid and then would rise, tell Tom he could sleep now and would disappear into his own bedroom until the next morning.
Other than those few words before bed, Chakotay never spoke, never looked at him, and never touched him. Tom could feel himself going mad from tension. From the endless waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was not until the 5th night that Chakotay glanced at it him speculatively from the couch before putting down the padd he had been reading. Thus it was with a strange mixture of fear and relief that he heard Chakotay’s voice.
"Come here, Tom!"
Tom rose nervously and crept forwards until he hovered uncertainly, about a foot from Chakotay’s knees
Tom fell to his knees as though shot.
For a long time Chakotay merely looked at him with a pleased smile. Tom kept his eyes on the floor and willed himself not to tremble.
"You have pleased me with your obedience this week!" Chakotay said softly and Tom hated himself for how relieved he was by the words.
"I have a gift for you, Tom. A reward for your good behavior"
Tom glanced at him suspiciously; sure that this was some kind of trick. Chakotay had reached into one of his robe’s deep pockets and produced a large rubber butt plug. With a convoluted sense of humour Chakotay had replicated it in the exact same blue as Tom’s eyes.
Tom swayed with confusion. "Some fucking reward" he thought dully but couldn’t find the courage to speak. It was just too much effort.
"From now on, you will return here after shift. I believe that Dalby has now taught you well enough that you will have no more need of his assistance. You may prepare yourself from now on. You’ll find that this is far more comfortable to insert!" Chakotay grinned, holding the butt plug out to him.
Tom reached out a trembling hand for the object.
"What do you say, Tom" Chakotay mocked
"Thank you, Sir" Tom mumbled, aware of the hot colour staining his cheeks
Chakotay merely smiled, said "Goodnight, Tom" and went to bed. For a long time Tom just sat there staring dully at the butt plug, tears rolling down his cheeks. Then he crawled into his corner, pulled the thin blanket over his shaking shoulders and tried desperately to sleep.
"Tom appears to have lost his grip on reality. He sits for hours looking into space. He isn’t sleeping. He only gets dressed if I put his uniform in his hands. He will only speak if directly questioned, and then the answer is only yes or no. He will only eat if a plate is put in front of him. He jumps out of his skin if anyone approaches him." Chakotay was ridiculously amused at his own words. Telling the truth was the best way to tell a lie!
"I don’t understand it" Janeway said in bewilderment to the other senior staff as Chakotay reported Tom’s further decline.
"How could someone as full as life as Tom have become this ill so quickly."
"I very much doubt it was quickly, we merely perceived it that way" Tuvok intoned solemnly. "Whilst I cannot reveal Tom’s private memories, I must confirm that during the occasion that I mind-melded with him, there were various prevalent images that did not conform to my previous conceptions of him."
"In what way?" Chakotay snapped, suddenly worried.
"It would be unethical of me to give details. Suffice it to say, Tom’s external demeanor was not an accurate reflection of his true nature." Tuvok replied
"I know he had problems after Caldik Prime" Janeway mused "Hardly surprising given the Admiral’s reaction to the scandal and I recognized that his behavior when he first came on board was hostile and distrustful. But that was only natural given that he had been in prison. I certainly only got the impression that he was just a bitter, angry young man who had made mistakes but could be rescued from himself if only he was given a chance and he certainly seemed to be responding wonderfully, until now."
"Your private reclamation project" Chakotay agreed.
Janeway blinked as she detected a tone of mockery in his voice but when she turned to look at him his expression was friendly and open.
"I’m really letting this get to me," she thought. "For a second there I thought Chakotay was having a go at me, but that’s crazy. What would I do without him? He’s my rock."
As though the words themselves pained her, B’Elanna’s face was screwed up in a rictus of scorn as she spoke
"Tom was never what people thought he was. He just played different roles. We all saw him differently; we all were shown a different Tom Paris dependant on what was most beneficial to him at the time. He just used people by pretending he was what we wanted him to be."
Harry Kim echoed her bitterness:
"I tried to be his friend. Did everything to get close to him but he had a secret life. No one ever saw the real Tom, just what he wanted us to see!"
"It is usual for a victim of abuse to not only refuse to show their vulnerability to other people but even to themselves. It is understandable that he created his, admittedly irritating, persona for camouflage" The Doctor intoned solemnly
"Abuse?" Janeway snapped in surprise, "What kind of abuse?"
"Whilst I am not in full possession of all the facts, I can definitely confirm that Tom’s medical records from prison show systematic physical and sexual abuse was inflicted on him!"
"But that doesn’t happen in a Federation prison!" Janeway protested in utter disbelief
"Generally not, " Chakotay said smoothly, "But remember who Tom was. He was the son of Admiral Owen Paris. He had been thrown out of Starfleet for killing three cadets. He was a convicted Maquis traitor. There were numerous reasons he would have been picked on, not to mention his looks!"
"But that’s crazy!" B’Elanna spat "If he had been subjected to that…that…filth! Why the hell would he get involved with Dalby? I saw them together, Captain. Dalby was hurting Tom and Tom was begging for it. It wasn’t rape! It was perverted and sick, but it wasn’t rape!"
"It is not unusual for victims of abuse to believe they deserve the treatment, to actively put themselves in situations where it will continue!" The Doctor replied (He had been eagerly devouring reports on the subject). "I believe that Tom’s psyche was affected in his childhood. That is why he adapted so readily to accept the behavior he learnt in prison as something he deserved and perhaps even needed."
"His childhood?" Janeway repeated in disbelief. "No, you’re wrong. I know Owen. I agree he was a hard and unemotional man but I refuse to believe that he would have hurt Tom!"
"I’m not disagreeing with you, Captain" Kim said quietly, "I mean it’s probably against regulations to slander an Admiral, but I do remember that Tom once said his only memories of childhood were of being alone in his room, crying. That certainly suggests that there COULD have been something wrong, even then."
"Tom had nightmares" B’Elanna said reluctantly, "Terrible nightmares. He used to scream and cry so much that I would have to wake him. The look on his face when he first awoke was always terror and helplessness. Like a child."
"Did he say what his dreams were about?" Chakotay asked with concern
"NO" B’Elanna spat bitterly. "He said he didn’t remember them. He lied. But then again he lied to me about a lot of things!"
"This isn’t getting us anywhere," Janeway said tiredly. "Speculating is not going to help. Lets look at the facts instead. Tom has suffered some form of breakdown, for reasons as yet unclear to us. He has been removed from the Conn. for obvious reasons, but I am unhappy about his posting to Sickbay. He has never been happy working there and he might perceive the posting as a form of punishment. It may be hindering his recovery."
"Perhaps I could attempt to help Tom reconcile his problems through meditation!" Tuvok suggested.
"No, Tom is unlikely to respond to your ‘logical’ approach. Perhaps you could mind-meld with him again?"
"I understand that he is not currently capable of understanding what he would be agreeing to" Tuvok replied quellingly, his expression warning her not to even suggest an involuntary procedure.
"Then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the problem for you to solve after all, Chakotay" Janeway sighed in defeat
"What do you suggest then, Captain?" he asked
"Tom will be placed on indefinite medical leave until he recovers. I think that that will be the quickest way. It will give Tom a chance to deal with his problems without pressure. Unless you object, Chakotay, I would prefer that he stay with you until he is more stable. There is still hostility between Tom and the Doctor. We will have to take advantage of your counseling skills instead. We can monitor your quarters whilst you are absent if you are concerned about his safety. I will adjust your shifts to allow you to have adequate time to counsel him. Tom will not get better unless we learn what the missing pieces are to this puzzle."
"Of course." Chakotay said softly
"I want my Pilot back, Chakotay!" Janeway stated categorically. "Do whatever you need to, to help Tom get over this!"
"You can depend on me, Captain." Chakotay replied. He was filled with triumph. Yet again the situation had played in his favour. Now he would have Tom to himself.
His gloating was rudely interrupted by Janeway’s next words:
"I’ll call by tonight and see him, let him know that I care" Janeway stated to Chakotay’s dismay.
"I don’t really think he’s up to visitors, Captain. Believe me you would rather not see him in this condition and besides, it will be an added pressure on him if you witness him like this. It could do more harm than good." Chakotay replied silkily
"Perhaps you’re right, Chakotay but I have to do it anyway. I have to see him for myself! " Janeway replied firmly.
Chakotay nodded in acknowledgement and stepped quietly from the ready room. Under his impassive features, panic raged. It was too soon. Tom wasn't truly under his control yet. He could give the game away!
"What the fuck do I do now?" he asked himself "Damn the bitch!"
Tom was running so fast that his heart was leaping in his chest, battering his sternum like a wild animal trapped in a cage. He could feel the coppery taste of blood in his mouth as his lungs screamed with lack of oxygen. He was gasping and panting for breath, stumbling wildly over the forest floor. Scrambling sometimes on all fours to right himself as he tripped over the strewn branches that littered the moonlit path.
And above his tortured breathing he could still hear the black wolf’s approach. The crash of branches snapping and leaves shifting getting ever louder until a dark shadow eclipsed the pale moon. In the sudden absence of light, the two yellow eyes that floated in front of him transfixed Tom. They glinted hungrily with reflective glare. He felt hot breath on his throat and with a scream of terror he spun to escape but a huge claw ripped out of the darkness and hooked him, dragging him backwards. He felt the heavy paw close bruisingly, crushing his shoulder and his body was shaken violently. His howl of terror resounded through the trees.
A stinging blow across his cheek abruptly cut off his scream and he snapped his eyes open to gaze into the face of Chakotay.
"Wake up, Tom" Chakotay shouted as he shook Tom’s trembling body. As the words sank into Tom’s fuddled brain he recognised that he was in Chakotay’s quarters, that he had been dreaming, that the wolf wasn’t real and that the only true danger he was in, was from the Commander in front of him.
Bewildered by Chakotay’s demand that he got dressed and sat himself on the couch, Tom was unprepared when he felt the mosquito bite of a hypospray on his neck. Even before he registered the pain, he felt a nauseous fog descend.
"W…W…W…What was…. What…." he mumbled as the room span around him. Chakotay’s face began to recede as the room lengthened and twisted. Tom saw the furniture begin to warp and merge in a riot of colour as it twisted into menacing tree shapes that cast long pools of shadow onto the carpet, which was rippling and shifting like the surface of a pond.
He whimpered as the pale shadows darkened and came to life, scuttling around him like ravenous spirits. The hissing sound of the door opening became a cacophony of whispers from the shadow ghosts and he looked blindly for escape only to see a nightmare approaching him cast into shadow by the blinding light from the open door. It was the wolf!
Kathryn Janeway stepped confidently into Chakotay’s quarters only to be brought to a horrified standstill as she watched Tom leap to his feet in terror at her entrance and throw himself to the floor. He scrambled wildly until he was underneath Chakotay’s desk in a flail of long limbs. She watched him wrap himself into a tiny ball as he rocked and wailed
"Go ‘way, go ‘way, go ‘way" he chanted at the snarling monster. The huge yellow eyes leered at him and he squeezed his own shut tightly to make the sight disappear "Go ‘way, go ‘way…"
"Tom, please Tom it’s me, it’s Kathryn" she murmured as though to gentle a terrified animal and she slowly reached out a hand to touch Tom’s shoulder
Tom saw the huge claw ripping towards him and howled.
The Captain jumped back, her ears ringing with the sound of Tom’s anguish.
"Oh my God!" she whispered at Chakotay who was watching Tom with evident pity
"How long has he been like this?"
"A couple of days, off and on. Sometimes he’s just quiet and depressed. Like when he goes to sickbay!" Chakotay replied smoothly
"Can’t the doctor give him anything?"
"He’s on anti-depressants but since the Doctor says it’s not a chemical imbalance they probably won’t help. I’ve got a sedative for when it gets really bad."
"Really bad? You mean it gets worse than THIS?" Janeway asked in horror
"Oh, this is a good day for him, Kathryn. It’s just the shock of seeing someone new that’s set him off. He seems terrified of everyone except me."
"How are you managing to cope?"
"I’ve seen it before," Chakotay replied sadly, "During the war. A lot of prisoners came back from Cardassia like this. They just needed time. Just needed a quiet place and someone to listen to them. A lot of them recovered."
"And what about the ones that didn’t?"
Chakotay shrugged helplessly.
"Sometimes people hide so far inside themselves that they can’t find a way back." He said softly " If we were in the Alpha Quadrant, if we had access to proper medical facilities…. But as it is all we can do is hope he comes out of it by himself"
"I noticed his face is all bruised. What happened?"
"Something attacked him earlier. An INVISIBLE something and he tried to run through the door to escape only he chose an INVISIBLE door. " Chakotay sighed, his pity tinged with exasperation. "Basically he hit the wall running."
"I had no idea…I didn’t imagine…I … I… I’m sorry Chakotay. I should have listened to you, accepted it when you told me not to visit."
"You only came because you care about him. You’re the Captain. It’s your job to care."
"If I cared I wouldn’t have been arrogant enough to think I knew best." Kathryn berated herself. "I will issue standing orders that NO ONE is to attempt to visit Tom again until you agree that he’s ready. "
Chakotay nodded his gratitude at her decision
"If he ever IS ready." She added softly.
She had a sudden feeling of dread that Tom was not going to recover. That she would never hear him crack jokes on the bridge again. Never again see that insolent smirk. She couldn’t imagine the quivering wreck under the desk ever again sitting at the helm and saying "Yes, Ma’am" in that aggravating but charming way.
Tears pooled in the Captain’s eyes and her voice was gruff as she made a rapid escape.
"Goodnight then, Chakotay. "
"Goodnight, Tom" she added in a sad whisper and it sounded like an eulogy in that stark room.
As she scuttled out, Chakotay breathed a great sigh of relief. He was pleased that the opiate had worked so quickly. Tom had been tripping so badly within seconds that he must have thought Janeway was a hell-demon. He’d have to keep a hypospray ready, just in case any other noisy bastard ignored the new orders.
"Stupid Bitch!" he snarled in triumph to the closed door "Don’t come back!"