By Morticia

Disclaimer: They belong to paramount, not me, and I'm too poor to sue anyway

Part 2

Pilot's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 5.
I guess that I should have expected it. Our lives have been one fucked up misunderstanding after another, since the first time we laid eyes on each other. The only good thing about our current situation is that the Thunderbird is so damned small that we can't avoid each other. You'd think that is a bad thing, but believe me, it's not.

It was certainly unpleasant lying in bed next to Chakotay's stiff back last night, while he pretended to be asleep just so that he didn't have to acknowledge my presence. He was so pissed off with me that if I wasn't in a wheelchair, I swear he would have decked me. Instead he just went all formal on me, talking over my head like I wasn't there.

At least he can't call me "lieutenant" anymore in that condescending voice that always made me want to punch his lights out.

And, of course, he had to help me get to bed. I am getting really independent these days, but still when my body is over-tired, the distance between my wheelchair and the bed becomes insurmountable.

It's difficult to keep pretending to ignore someone when you have to undress them, pick them up and carry them to the bathroom and then to bed.

So he just went all efficient on me, reminding me of those six terrible weeks on Voyager when he treated my body like a piece of meat. Like a trained nurse, he did all the things that my exhausted body refused to do for itself, and then he climbed into bed next to me, turned his back and pretended to go to sleep.

I knew that if I gave in and apologized, or even cried, he would have relented and forgiven me. But I'm not wrong, dammit. We are supposed to be partners, he isn't in charge. Chakotay is not omnipotent, omniscient and all seeing, as much as he likes to think he is.  I just know Jem is going to work out for us. I feel it in my gut. I want Chakotay to trust me on this.

Admittedly, he wasn't exactly what I had in mind either, when we arrived at DS9, and since, these are MY logs, I should be honest at least with myself.

When I met Jem Trabor again, in Quarks, I didn't see him, I saw myself. I saw the washed up bum that I would have become after prison, if the Voyager mission hadn't come along to save me.

For that alone, I still have a place in my heart where Kathryn Janeway holds a special place. No matter what happened later, I will never forget the chance that she gave me.

That's another thought that Chakotay and I agree to differ on. He is a strange man, my husband. So tolerant of fools and foibles, so absolutely, rigidly unforgiving of personal transgressions.  Janeway hurt me, so she is irredeemable in his eyes. But she saved me too, once. Surely that counts for something?

He says I am too forgiving, too trusting, too gullible. Which is strange considering the fact that I am the most cynical person I know. Yet, it is true too. My own feelings of inadequacy force me to constantly strive for approval. I need to feel popular, need to feel loved. I cling to the false comfort of acquaintances, while Chakotay is only concerned with the opinion of true friends.

And because I am so painfully aware of my own failures, I find myself more understanding of other people's weaknesses.  I can identify with them, empathize with them, and god forbid that I, Tom Paris-Chakotay, should ever judge another person and find them lacking.

He who lives in glass-houses shouldn't throw stones, as the saying goes.

Which brings me back to Jem.

I am not stupid, although you would think so from the way Chakotay spoke to me yesterday. I KNOW that Trabor is a drunk. He fell into a bottle years ago and never managed to climb out. But, that doesn't make him a bad person or even a bad engineer, necessarily.

He's a wounded man.

He is scarred and bitter and broken.

Like me.

His wheelchair is a bottle, but it is no less pitiful or real.

And he doesn't have a Chakotay to pull him through the bad days, to shine a light of hope over the blackest of days. To tell him that "The soul would have no rainbow, if the eyes' had no tears."

Chakotay is my rock, my foundation, my everything.

But he is also sometimes a pig-headed despot!

I know that hiring Jem Trabor is a risk. Yet, some risks are worth taking, some people are worth saving, and if I ever met anyone in need of saving it is Jem.

It isn't as if he can get hold of alcohol on the Thunderbird, anyway. He will have to go cold-turkey. I think that is one of the main reasons he agreed to join us. He sees the isolation of the Thunderbird like the last lifeline that might possibly save him, before he spirals so far down that he can never come up again.

The Doc says his liver and kidneys are virtually pickled anyway. Our unexpectedly good sickbay is the other temptation to Trabor. He needs proper medical care, needs it fast, and hasn't a credit to his name.

Growing up as a Starfleet brat, I never thought about medical care. I assumed it was free. The great Federation flaunted its medical prowess and I took it for granted. It never occurred to me that nothing is free. That if you aren't in Starfleet, or living on one of the Federation home planets, or have money, then medical attention is just a fantasy.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Julian had been treating him, of course. That's what Julian is like. He wouldn't turn away a wounded founder without slipping him a couple of hyposprays of painkiller! It was Julian who told me all about Jem, and suggested that we took him on.

I was dubious, I admit. The downside of Julian is that he not only has a tendency to take in stray kittens, but then he tries to pass them off on his friends. Yet, since Julian was also illegally downloading several thousand credits worth of navigation software to upgrade the Doctor, I felt obligated to at least agree to look the guy up.

It wasn't difficult, of course. I found him slumped on the bar at Quarks.

When he turned those crazed black eyes on me, I admit that I nearly fled the bar.  You see, I had heard the story, heard the name, and yet never actually realised that I KNEW him. He brought Auckland, and all its misery crashing back from where I had tried to bury it. Yet Jem dragged himself momentarily out of his own misery, to regard my wheelchair, my paralyzed legs, and his mouth twisted.

"I am sorry," he whispered at me, in a voice gruff from long abuse. "I am scaring you, I will go."

"Don't," I begged, ashamed of myself, and he shrugged, sat down again, and said clearly, "I know what Dr Bashir told you. It's not true, none of it. I'm not worth saving."

"You're wrong, I know you." I answered him. "Anyway, everyone is worth saving," and I meant it, every word.

"Your husband will not accept me," he replied.

And since it was MY mind that he was reading with his black, Betazoid stare, I guess that I knew really, even at that moment, that Chakotay would go crazy.

So, I guess, anyone reading this log, will call me a fool for going ahead and hiring him anyway, without even a word to my husband.

But if I had asked, Chakotay would have refused, and that would have been that. No matter how long I had begged, ranted or raved, he would not have caved in. So I just presented him with a fait accompli and am now paying the price.

I just couldn't walk away, no pun intended. I couldn't leave that beautiful, broken Betazoid to drink himself to death on DS9, when we needed an engineer so desperately, and he needed a friend more than anyone I had ever met before.

I owe him.

Jem Trabor saved my life in Auckland. He kept me sane. His grief and guilt was so much greater than my own that he taught me, just by his existence, that people carried greater burdens than I and still survived.

Chakotay still wasn't talking to me this morning. He actually gave me 'the day off', saying he wanted to test the Doc's new program, but honestly just wanting me out of his sight, I think.

So much for our honeymoon. Five days and we are at each other's throats like a couple of spiteful tomcats.

He'll forgive me though. He always does.

He isn't mad at me exactly, anyway. He's worried, and concerned for me. He thinks that I have put myself on the line for someone who will hurt me, let me down, break my heart even.

I think he's actually a little jealous too, the stupid idiot.

He took one look at Jem, and his whole body froze in dismay.  It's my fault, I guess. I was so determined not so let him see Trabor as an unshaven, drunken bum, that I dragged him, figuratively, back to the Thunderbird and had him washed, shaved and dressed to kill.

Unfortunately he cleaned up surprisingly nicely. I had forgotten how handsome he was. I mean, he's straight, so I never thought of him in THAT way.

So, once Chak got over the fact that Jem was a Betazoid, all he saw was a stunning young man who was closer my age than his, and well, he wasn't exactly happy.

Then he read Trabor's station record, discovered he had been thrown off more ships than most people had even seen, and decided, I think, that I had been thinking with my dick, not my brain, after all.

All this time I have been worried that Chakotay would tire of me and run off with someone healthy instead, and it is he who pulls the insecure jealousy act. Ironic really.


Captain's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 5.


Today has been hell. Several times I have reached to comm. Tom and then stopped myself.

I admit I was childish yesterday in the way I dealt with Tom, and then I compounded it by continuing to sulk this morning. Hopefully he will accept my apology tonight without asking too many questions.

The problem is that I am right. He is wrong. But I don't want this to be a personal issue between us. We need to keep things like this on the bridge, not let them spill over into our bedroom.

But I am only human. I had spent a fruitless day searching DS9 for work and being met with incredulous laughter by most people when I suggested they might want to use the Thunderbird.

So I had been disheartened and tired when I had returned to the ship. The docking fees were extortionate and I had still to find someone who was willing to offer us a job. Although there were a lot of small freighting opportunities on offer, one mention of who I was, or more honestly, who my pilot was, had made the prospective customers scurry off for more reputable operators.

So I was gut-sick. The unfairness of how Tom had been publicly branded as insane made me want to bang people's heads together. I didn't know how to face him, and tell him my bad news.

I was rehearsing the words over and over in my head, trying to figure out how not to tell the truth, without actually telling a lie, and then he greeted me with Jem Trabor.

I went absolutely crazy. I was furious with Tom. Not just for hiring the man without even discussing it with me, but more importantly, because it was bad enough the Thunderbird bearing the reputation of an insane pilot without throwing a drunken engineer into the mix.

It didn't matter if Trabor is never going to touch alcohol again (although I personally doubt it). He has a reputation. He is known throughout the quadrant for having caused the Moulinaue disaster. His trial was even more public than Tom's after Caldik Prime.

Trabor was at Auckland at the same time as Tom. Only, Trabor had been sentenced for involuntary manslaughter. There were extenuating circumstances, of course. There always are. He had lost his pregnant wife and a two-year-old son in a shuttle malfunction. Instead of being granted immediate compassionate leave, his Captain had insisted that he worked his way to the next star base. To be fair to Captain Johannsen, the warp engines of the Moulinaue had been dangerously damaged in a skirmish on the Romulan border, and Trabor had been the only engineer uninjured by the attack.

But the Captain should at least have had his new engineer check out Trabor's repairs before engaging the warp engines after leaving Trabor on Rigel.

Trabor had made an error when he repaired the anti-matter containment field. Understandable, given his state of grief. The Moulinaue was lost with all hands and Trabor was sentenced to 18 months at Auckland. The prison sentence was a sop thrown at the families of the deceased. Trabor should never have seen the inside of a prison. He should have been hospitalized.

So after his release, according to his record, he spent the next six years drinking himself around the quadrant, getting thrown off one ship after another, desperately trying to escape his guilt and grief.

Not easy to forget, when other people remember, and you are a Betazoid.

In Jem Trabor I see another Lon Suder. I see a tragedy unfolding before my eyes. I see a man spiraling towards inevitable destruction.

I see a man who will break Tom's fragile heart.

I also see a man whose reputation will destroy the Thunderbird. Not because of the Moulinaue. I haven't met anyone who knows of the incident who hasn't blamed Captain Johannsen for what happened, rather than the grief stricken engineer.

But out of that pity, Captain after Captain gave Trabor a "second-chance" and each time, Trabor repaid the kindness with drunken inefficiency and bad attitude.

We cannot afford the taint of Trabor's reputation, let alone his possible sabotage of our ship.

Somehow I have to explain this to Tom without sounding as though I am refusing to help his friend. And Trabor isn't Tom's friend, he's just a guy Tom met in Auckland. Tom doesn't owe him anything. Tom isn't responsible for him, and Tom and I have enough problems without taking Trabor into the mix.

Yet, I just know Tom will turn those beautiful blue eyes on me and remind me that it could have been him in that bar today, drunk and abandoned. That only his posting to Voyager and our chance encounter with the Caretaker saved him from leaving Auckland with the same self-destructive urges as the Betazoid.

Tom will see my failure to offer Trabor a chance as being a personal slight, a confirmation that I would have turned my back on HIM had I found him under the same circumstances.

And, the sad thing is that it is true. I would weighed up the cost of my involvement and would have turned my back, unwilling to pay the cost of admittance. I would have never discovered the wonder of Tom's soul.

So, against my better judgment, I find myself wondering whether to give Trabor a chance, after all.