(Sequel to "Rough Justice")
(R Series part 26)
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al belong to Paramount. I am only playing with them and promise to put them back relatively unscathed
Chakotay arrived back on the officersí deck and saw BíElanna sitting sadly in the corridor, her back propped up against Tomís closed door, "Ted" clutched in her hands. She looked up miserably at Chakotayís approach.
"Iím sorry, I tried but he just wonít let me in."
"Have you spoken to him?"
"When he realised he had dropped THIS he opened the door" she said, waving the stuffed toy dejectedly "But as soon as he saw me he shot back inside and hasnít emerged since."
"Override the door."
"Youíre the bloody Chief Engineer, of course you can."
"All right, I WONíT" she clarified
"If you donít open the door, BíEl, Iíll simply transport myself in and that will frighten him even more."
"Why canít you just leave him until morning? Let him sleep on it." BíElanna pleaded reasonably
"Because Tom is terrified of being alone, BíEl. He will be sitting there, too frightened to sleep in case he has a nightmare. By tomorrow he wonít just be scared, heíll be exhausted and it will be too late to put things right between us. Hell, the state heís in he might even harm himself."
BíElanna chewed her lower lip pensively. Chakotay was right, without his defense mechanisms, Tom might feel unable to face tomorrow (today, her tired mind interjected since it was gone 0200).
"Okay" She murmured and climbed stiffly to her feet; the cold floor of the corridor had seeped into her backside and had permeated her whole body.
"Why were you just sitting here?" Chakotay asked suddenly
"In case he DID need a friend." She replied, ducking her head in embarrassment.
Fresh tears choked Chakotay as he looked at the fierce little Klingon warrior with the wonderfully warm heart. He stepped forward and gave her an impulsive hug.
"Thanks for being his friend." Chakotay whispered. "I donít know if Tom will ever forgive ME but at least he will have you and thatís definitely something worth having."
"He LOVES you, Chakotay. It will be alright." She promised, wiping at the big manís tears. BíElanna was completely in awe of the evident love that Chakotay had for the pilot. For a man as proud as him to freely show his emotions, proved to her beyond doubt that if Tom ran away from him, he would be throwing away something so precious that few people ever experienced it.
Quickly she keyed in the override to Tomís door and they burst in. The room was empty, the bed not even rumpled. Chakotay burst into the tiny bathroom. It was also empty. They looked at each other in complete confusion. Tomís tiny quarters had no hiding places. He didnít even have a wardrobe, only a tiny closet and a couple of drawers.
"Computer, location of Lieutenant Paris." Chakotay snapped
"Lieutenant Paris is in Commander Chakotayís quarters."
For a moment their eyes locked in bewilderment and then they both raced to Chakotayís quarters, which were also empty.
"Computer, EXACT location of Lieutenant Paris"
"Lieutenant Paris is in Commander Chakotayís bedroom."
Chakotay stared around the empty bedroom in despair. A glint of gold caught his eye.
"Shit!" he hissed as he retrieved Tomís comm badge from the floor.
"Computer, scan for life-forms NOT wearing comm badges"
"Eighty-seven matches found."
"Damn, no-one wears their comm-badges in bed and half the crew are sleeping."
"We could run a bio-scan for him." BíElanna suggested helpfully.
Chakotay sat down heavily on his bed and put his weary head in his hands.
"Whatís the point BíEl? He must have transported out of his quarters into someone elseís. Heís not alone. Thatís all I needed to know. That he wasnít alone. Heís safe."
"Safe? Heís in someone elseís bed and you call that safe?"
BíElanna cried in astonishment
"Itís for the best, BíElanna. Itís obviously what he wants." Chakotay whispered in a broken voice, his eyes blank with hurt and betrayal.
"What about what YOU want?"
Chakotay looked at her in despair. His heart wasnít just broken; it was splintered, shattered into a million pieces that could never be mended.
"I killed a man tonight, BíEl. With my own hands and in cold blood I killed a man. For Tom. I killed a man for treating Tom like a whore and guess what? He IS a bloody WHORE! How many more, BíEl? How many more people will have to die just so I can selfishly keep someone who obviously doesnít even want me?"
"You know thatís not true. Please donít give up on him, Chakotay. Please donít turn your back now."
"Iím just so tired, BíEl" Chakotay sobbed, "I feel tired and old and so ashamed of myself."
BíElanna bitterly regretted the fact that she had left Tuvok for Chakotay to finish off. She should have done the job properly herself.
"You ARE tired, Chakotay. Why donít you get some sleep? Tomorrow we can work this out. Like you said, at least Tom isnít alone."
"Stay with me?" Chakotay pleaded.
"Of course." She agreed. This wasnít a night for ANY of them to be alone.
Pausing only long enough to discard their shoes, they both crawled fully dressed onto the bed and BíElanna felt Chakotayís strong arms wrap around her. Within minutes his breathing slowed as exhaustion and stress swept him away.
BíElanna lay there awake for a long time, enjoying the feeling of being held, even if it was only the comforting hug of a friend.
"Tom" Chakotay snuffled in his sleep, "oh Tom honey, I love you, donít leave me."
And BíElanna began to cry. The only two people she cared about on this whole bloody ship were destroying each other and she hadnít got the faintest idea of how to put things right between them.
A tiny crack of light invaded the intense darkness and Tom heard muffled voices from a great distance. He huddled even tighter into his cramped protective ball. He trembled in dread of the door opening and the harsh light of discovery invading his dark sanctuary. The frantic beating of his heart sounded like a gong in the tiny space, his breathing rolling like thunder. He tried to hold his breath, an inner voice screaming at his body to be quiet.
He heard footsteps approaching his hiding place. His cramped arms fumbled desperately for Ted before he remembered that he was alone. He hugged his knees even closer to his chest for comfort. A single sob escaped his lips and he froze in horror at his betraying sound. The footsteps came closer and wet warmth spread through his trousers, as discovery became imminent, making Tom shiver with horrified shame.
Now he was truly going to be punished. Panicked shudders wracked his body, his shoulders and heat beating a tattoo against the walls of his tiny hiding place. Each knock of his body against the thin plastic convincing him that discovery was more inevitable and that thought making him tremble all the more. He clenched his jaw to stop the wild chattering of his teeth that was joining the cacophony of betraying sounds.
Then the footsteps slowly retreated, the voices faded and his heart eventually began to slow itís frantic pounding. The tiny crack of light at the bottom of the door was extinguished and he was left alone.
"Ted" he whimpered sadly and hugged his knees tighter in the tiny clothes closet.
Chakotay marched onto the bridge with a face of granite. He flinched slightly at the sight of Baytart at the helm but simply took his seat and calmly said good morning to the Captain.
Kathryn saw beneath the façade. Chakotay had evidently had little sleep since he had so rudely awoken her in the middle of the night. He looked shattered and completely heartbroken.
Damn, Chakotay and Tuvok, who would have thought it, she considered. Mind you, now she knew he was a bum bandit, it made a sick kind of sense.
"Do you have any idea when Mr. Paris might grace us with his presence?" she purred slyly
"I have no idea, Captain" Chakotay said stiffly, with obvious embarrassment. "Heís not wearing his comm badge and he hasnít responded to any hails."
"Ah" She replied thoughtfully. So Chakotay hadnít wanted his little slut last night and Tom had gone on the prowl after all.
She grinned. With Kim in the brig, it was exactly the good news she needed.
"Take the bridge, Commander." She snapped decisively and went in search of her errant pilot.
A bio scan told her that Tom was in his own quarters. All the better, she decided, that way she could give Tom some private "punishment" for his tardiness.
Since Tomís Comm badge was in his own uniform pocket, Chakotay had not been particularly concerned about Tomís silence until he had discovered that the pilot didnít turn up for duty.
He knew EXACTLY why Kathryn had left the bridge, but without Harry Kim or Tuvok at their posts, he could hardly go chasing after her, there was no one on the bridge that could take over from him. A fact that had obviously not escaped the Captain.
Shit, Voyager was quickly running out of senior officers.
Inspiration hit him. He commed Engineering.
"Lieutenant Torres, could you please come to the bridge."
Kathryn looked helplessly around Tomís empty quarters. The computer was insisting he was in them, but she was damned if she could find him.
She hadnít become a Starfleet Captain by giving up easily, she decided.
She looked under the bed, but since it was a solid frame, there was no lurking pilot there. Hell, six foot of gangly-legged pilot couldnít fit ANYWHERE.
Unless Ė she looked at the tiny closet door.
No. She decided, laughing at herself for even considering the fact that Tom would fit in a cupboard less than a meter high and half as wide. Then, with typical female curiosity, she opened the door anyway.
The smell hit her before her stunned brain even registered the pathetic sight.
Wrinkling her nose in distaste, she cleared her throat to tell the bloody brain-damaged idiot to get out of the closet, then remembered she was supposed to CARE now. So with an effort she plastered a sweet smile over her face and hunkered down to squat next to the tiny doorway.
"Tom" she crooned and touched his shoulder.
Tom flinched and began to shudder helplessly, unable to move even a centimeter deeper into the tiny hole. He turned his white exhausted face at her. His eyes were huge and blank with terror.
Shit, Kathryn thought. Her Second officer was dead, her Conn officer was in the brig, her second engineer had amnesia and now Tom had decided to have a bloody nervous break down.
Wonderful, just fucking wonderful.
"Come on Tom." She murmured, resisting the urge to slap some sense into the silly bugger
Tom blinked as the female voice slowly sank into the frozen wasteland of his brain.
"Mama?" he asked plaintively
Kathryn blinked in annoyance; she wasnít THAT bloody old, cheeky beggar.
"Come on Tom, come out." She snapped, finally losing patience.
Tom rocked in confusion. Mama was dead. Daddy said so. But Mama was here. MAMA WAS HERE!
Untangling himself, he bolted out of the hole. His limbs were completely numb from their hours of cramped inactivity. He flailed helplessly, crashed into Janeway and buried his head in her breasts.
"Mama" he breathed ecstatically, nuzzling into her soft comfort.
Kathryn smirked. Maybe the situation wasnít completely without merit after all.
She rubbed a hand through Tomís silken hair.
"Thatís right, Tommy, Mamaís here" she grinned wickedly.