Tides of the Heart- Part Ten: Ouroboros
I cannot sleep.
I lie here, thinking of Chakotay lying in *his* bed, in *his* room. I wonder whether he is awake too, or does he sleep peacefully under the silver-blue moonlight. If he sleeps, does he dream? Does he, perchance, dream of me?
Perhaps he does. We are perhaps *both* as helplessly caught in the gravity of our emotions as the two satellites of Wuartha that mock me in the night sky with their pale, heartless light.
There are no shutters on the windows, no drapes to pull across, no way to prevent the pale blue glow of Wuartha's twin moons from bathing my body in their eerie glow.
The furthest moon is pregnant. Full and round it is a shining silver circle as it throws the light stolen from its sleeping sun down onto my bedcovers. The nearer moon, though far larger and more dominant in the night sky, is on the wane. It looks as though some huge monster has bitten into its dark, hard flesh leaving a gaping wound.
Not a crescent moon, yet. Simply a ravaged one.
I can hear the waves crashing on the beach below as the tides shift in confusion between the gravitational pull of either moon. It is as though a battle is being fought out there in the depths of the sea between the healthy smaller moon and its far larger but wounded opponent.
Their battle is endless and pointless, of course.
The smaller moon will win for a short time, a few days perhaps, as the nearer moon retreats in defeat. Then the distant moon will wane, as its adversary returns in full strength to banish its power.
And then, they will do it all over again.
That is what life is all about. Spring follows winter, and eventually winter follows fall. Only to repeat itself like an endless circle of birth and death. Like a snake swallowing its own tail.
The universe itself is just a vast Ouroboros serpent. It survives by devouring itself.
The moonlight inspires these thoughts perhaps. Moonlight has always fascinated people, weaving a spell of mystery, causing dogs to howl, and tides to change, and lovers to succumb to the lie that love is eternal when the truth is that *nothing* is eternal.
The only eternal truth is that nothing lasts.
Planets, civilizations, people, we all fall under the scythe of time and are swept underfoot like ashes.
We die, and are replaced as though we never existed at all. Our dreams are stolen by new dreamers and then, in their turn, their dreams are stolen too.
For the few short years that we bear this mortal coil, we try to make our lives have meaning. We try to change things, make our impact, create for ourselves an illusion that we might be immortal. Perhaps, like Chakotay, we have children to foster that illusion that we are more than just a single frame in a vid so huge that our lives are less than a blink of an eye in the whole scheme of things.
By now, few people on Earth probably even remember our existence. Voyager is no more than a tiny log entry on an endless list of lost ships. Even if we return and are greeted as heroes, in another hundred years no one will even remember our names.
Perhaps Chakotay is right that they will remember Kathryn for a while, but even so, eventually her memory will fade too. That is the way life is.
I suppose I may as well admit that I have often contemplated suicide in the long endless hours of the night. It seems such an easy solution when you are alone with your thoughts and you know that no one will truly miss you. That you are suffering your pain for no reason because no one cares anyway and ultimately, even if they do, they will move on and forget you, and then *they* will die and be forgotten too, so all you are doing by living is prolonging your own agony for absolutely no reason at all.
In the daylight though, even though it is the harsh artificial daylight of Voyager's internal lights, I always feel vaguely ashamed of those night time fantasies of a cowardly escape. When so many people have died, when people like Harry have lost their lives, it seems almost insulting that I should be so self-indulgent as to carelessly throw my own life away, saying "I don't want it anymore. Take it back."
I don't though. Want it I mean. No one *chooses* to live feeling like this.
But, then again, that's what everything comes down to. Choice. The choices that we make. Like my choice to let Chakotay go even though I knew that in losing him, I lost everything.
Like my choice to carry on living, when nothing has been worth living for since that decision.
Shall I tell you the truth now? The real truth?
The reason I didn't take my life was because I couldn't bear the guilt that he would feel if I did. Because I hugged my pain to myself like a jealous child and refused to give it to him instead. I still don't know whether I loved him too much to hurt him or I hated him too much to give him that last part of myself.
It is *my* pain.
That was my choice. To survive by devouring myself.
Back on Earth, millennia ago, people believed that their lives were governed not by chance and their own actions, but by the capricious whims of celestial beings. They believed that the time of our birth and death was pre-ordained and that only three times in their lives did every traveler face major choices in their life and they would pray for guidance to the goddess of pathways traveled by night, Hecate. Goddess of moonlit crossroads.
Nonsense, of course.
Gods and goddesses, I mean.
Religion was just a way of making sense of the inexplicable before the ultimate god, science, ripped away the comfort of blind "belief". My family's god was Starfleet. Like the testing of Abraham, my father took his only son and offered him in sacrifice to his god. My life was given to Starfleet, and although I rebelled and struggled and resisted, it is a vengeful god that owns me, a jealous god that punished my attempted defiance with an inescapable obligation.
So, when I consider the three important choices in my life, I do not count my decision to join this ill-fated journey as one of them. That was never a choice, it was just destiny.
My first real important choice was when I agreed to marry Chakotay. My second choice was when I divorced him. Now the final choice that I must make in this moonlit crossroad of my life, is whether or not to finally leave him.
Even in my dreams I am somehow aware of the moonlight that streams through my windows, because when it is broken by shadow I wake with a start, only to freeze lest my movement should make him flee.
He is on my balcony, looking out over the waves that crash on the beach below, his fair hair bathed in a ghostly silvery-blue halo.
He has come to me.
Perhaps only to be near me as he thinks, to be near my presence as he contemplates the horizon, as he considers our future.
When we returned to the hotel earlier this night he shrugged away my offer to help him regenerate the injuries that I had inflicted. Instead he limped slowly to his room and shut the door firmly in my face.
Yet, he chose to stay at least, and it was more than I deserved, more than I dreamed possible, and although I instructed the computer to inform me immediately if he should call for the arch once more, I was at least able, after I had soothed my own battered body, to crawl into bed and hug my pillow and dream, at least, that he was in my arms.
And now he is here, scant hours later, in my room.
I am not so foolish as to think I know the reasons for his presence. Perhaps he has only come to say goodbye. He looks lost and alone on the balcony, as though he is assailed by doubts and confusion. He seems oddly frail, ephemeral, as though he is even just an illusion that might disintegrate if I dare to approach him.
He calls to me though, silently. His rigid back, the misery in his shoulders, the sadness of his bowed head as the moonlight seems to weigh him down with sorrow and bitter regret. All these things draw me, against my better judgment perhaps, to slide out of bed and pad softly to his side.
He does not speak. Perhaps he is frightened of breaking the spell. Afraid, no doubt that I will spook and run like an untamed horse.
I would if I could, but I am like those white horses that rampage in the water below, forever running and fighting but always in the same direction. Like the waves, my momentum itself will bring my own destruction on me.
I cannot run against the tide. I can only let myself rage and scream until I am smashed against the unyielding shore, there to dissolve and dissipate until nothing remains.
I wish I could make him understand how I feel, how he makes me feel. Out of control, rushing to my own destruction, so in love that even though I know he is destroying me I can't let go. So hurt and wounded now that nothing can ever make me whole again and still I find myself wanting to leap into his flame and be burned once more.
I wonder whether he even knows that there is a point where you stop looking for pleasure within pain, and the pain itself becomes your addiction.
I lean back against his chest, allowing his arms to snake around me so that the warmth of his embrace dispels some of the chill wrapped around my heart, and we simply stand there together, in the silent moonlight.
"Come inside, Tom. It's cold," I finally have to whisper.
Goosebumps cover my outer arms and my bare feet are chilled by the stone floor of the balcony and he is shivering. He twists violently in my arms and I am terrified that my words will cause him to run from me but, instead, he grabs my shoulders and pulls my face towards his.
For a moment, the cold reflection of the moonlight in his eyes makes me shudder. His expression is as alien and remote as the twin moons themselves.
Then he is kissing me, the heat of his mouth driving the chill from my body with its hungry flames, and I am lost in the savagery of his attack, staggering back into the bedroom as he pushes my shoulders with his hands until I reach the bed and then he forces me backwards until I am prone and he is ripping at my sleep pants with a hunger that is both exciting and terrifying.
His lips are bruising my mouth just as his nails are raking my hips as he struggles with my clothing. His need is so obvious that I find myself lifting my hips to help him strip me and then drawing my legs up and apart to demonstrate that I am his, that there is no need for him to be rough with me because I will not fight him.
He slaps my face savagely, sliding between my open thighs so that his cockhead pushes against my dry pucker, and then he tries to simply force himself into me.
I try to relax and allow him to enter me. His face is tormented, possessed, and I understand his need to take me dry. He wants to hurt me, rape me, violently rip me apart as I have ripped his very soul apart. He wants me to scream and writhe and whimper beneath him in a blind agonised mixture of pain and pleasure.
He wants to finally be in control, and I want to let him do it. I want to give in to his desperate need to defeat his demons by taking without asking, by forcing me to give him what I have denied him for so long. I don't deserve the luxury of tender preparation or lubrication.
This isn't sex he wants. He just wants a little control. He wants to steal a little of my pride to try and use it to patch over his own wounds.
Yet, as much as my head and my heart wants to give in to him, my traitorous body refuses. As soon as he begins to breach me, and the pain shoots through my ass, I instinctively begin to fight his entrance. My legs come down and draw together so that my strong thighs force him to retreat.
He dives on top of me to wrestle me over onto my front, and I so bitterly regret that my treacherous body refused his need that I simply turn over, offering myself to him.
Several minutes pass as I lie there, my butt trembling in anticipation of an assault that doesn't come.
Eventually I turn over once more, stunned and then concerned that Tom is just sitting on the edge of the bed, his head drooped in misery.
Understanding hits me and I am ashamed of myself. He wanted to fight. He wanted us to struggle and wrestle so that he could lose himself in the violence of our lovemaking. He didn't want my compliance. He wanted my defeat.
I cannot do it though. If I fight him, either we will draw or I will win. Tom never wins in a physical confrontation between us. Not because I am stronger, but simply because he defeats himself. Always, when victory could be his, he backs down, unable to see it through.
Yet he needs to feel in control. I understand that much. That he is scared. That he feels that the situation is spiraling out of his control. That I am calling the shots, just as I have been for the last twenty years.
As he said to me, this is always about what I want. Even our lovemaking is controlled by my desires and his body's desire to please mine. It's never, ever, been about simply what he might want.
So I slide out of bed, as he sits there in misery, and I rummage in the bedside cabinet for the restraints that I replicated in case an appropriate moment might arrive, and lest he should misunderstand my intentions, I am already fastening a cuff around one my own wrists before I turn and show him what I am holding.
His eyes widen so comically that I have to bite back the urge to laugh.
"What are you doing?" he hisses, as I climb onto the bed and shackle my left wrist to the headboard.
I just lie down, throwing him the other restraints, and say "I can't fasten the rest myself, you'll have to do it yourself."
"Why?" he asks in a small, frightened voice.
"Because I am too sore to fight you, Tom, so if you want to have your wicked way with me, this will be less painful for both of us."
"So," he says finally. "You're saying I can tie you up and do "anything" I want to you?"
"Yes," I reply calmly.
"I'll be in control?"
"Yes," I agree.
He sits there for a long time, turning the restraints in his hands as I see the possibilities flashing through his eyes, and I admit that I am nervous at the power I am giving him over me, although if I didn't trust him, I wouldn't have made the offer.
Then he jumps to his feet and flings the restraints at me in disgust.
"What's wrong?" I ask, as I see tears of frustration start to trickle down a face now red with anger.
"You have to be in charge, don't you?" he accuses. "You have to control everything."
I look at him in complete bemusement.
"I just wanted tonight to be different," he adds. "I wanted it to be about what *I* wanted for a change."
"But that's what I'm offering," I say helplessly.
"No you're not. You've ruined everything."
"I don't understand," I tell him.
"You never did," he replies bitterly, turning and walking out of my bedroom in disgust.
He ruined everything.
It was supposed to be *my* fantasy. It was supposed to be *me* in charge.
It was supposed to be *him* helpless in my hands while I took and devoured without mercy.
I wanted to take him. I wanted to fuck him into submission with my cock. I wanted it to be *him* howling in helpless ecstasy as I defeated his body and his pride with my own ability to drive him out of his mind.
I didn't want to hurt him, I just wanted to ravish him until he didn't know whether to scream for help or scream for more.
I just wanted him to feel, for once, how I feel.
Out of control.
As soon as the door banged shut behind him, I realised my mistake.
He's right, in a strange way. By offering him my complete capitulation, I took away his chance to dominate me. In suggesting the means by which he could subdue me, I took away his control.
Tom didn't want to hurt me. I understand that. Even though he would have ripped me with his dry entry, that was no more his attempt to hurt me than when I lost control last night and savaged him with my fingers.
The violence between us is only a symptom of our pain, it is not the reason for our actions. The violence is a means to an end, it does not exist as a purpose unto itself. I know that even had Tom agreed to proceed with the scenario I had suggested, that whatever pain I suffered would have been more than compensated for by the pleasure that he gave me too. It is not in Tom to be cruel. He is incapable of such a thing.
I am beginning to believe that there is *nothing* I can do that will make things right between us.
If I push my intentions on him in an attempt to prove that I find him irresistible, he will interpret my actions as nothing more than a way of getting what I want from him. He will feel used and cheap, as though he is nothing more than a convenient body for my pleasure.
If I use these few days to try and be just his friend and don't attempt to make love to him, he will see himself as undesirable. He will think that my disinterest proves I do not love him.
Even in offering him my own body, he has seen my offer as an attempt to control him.
There is a saying, you can't do right for doing wrong.
That is how it is between Tom and I now. He is being unreasonable, perhaps, but his reactions are perfectly understandable, so I cannot even afford myself the luxury of frustration at his failure to respond to me.
He doesn't trust me. That's the bottom line. He believes that this is a temporary thing for me, that my feelings are valid but merely transitory. That I will cause him to let down his defenses and then I will leave him again.
He needs me to prove myself to him, and yet he denies the validity of any proof that I offer him. He looks constantly for the trap, for the trick, for the evidence that I am merely a confidence trickster.
He is breaking my heart.
I will not give up though. If he needs me to beg, I will beg. If he needs me to grovel, then I can do grovel. How can I dare say anything that he demands of me is not worthy of my losing my pride, when I so brutally once savaged *his* pride? Pride doesn't keep you warm at night. Pride doesn't hold you when you need the touch of another's arms. Pride is a poor and sorry substitute for a Tom Paris.
The only way that I can ever prove to Tom that I love him, is to never let him go.
So that is why I am sitting here, ignoring the cold discomfort of the floor, careless of what he may be thinking of me as I tap constantly on his bedroom door, whispering my words of regret and love, begging for him to let me in so that I can show him how much I love him.
I will stay here all night until he opens the door. I will stay here all week if I have to. I will beg and plead to be let in, until my voice can no longer make sounds, and then I will keep tapping the door until my fingers bleed, but I will not move, I will not give in, I will not go away.
I will stay here until he opens the door.