No Regrets - Part 21
by T'Pam

Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.


*Tom's POV*

The Doc sniffs once more. "I'm waiting, Mr. Paris."

Biting my lip, I turn around to face him. "What do you want me
to do?"

"Lie down on the biobed and try to relax."

"Now what?"

He sighs. "I want you to try to relax, Mr. Paris."

"I *am* relaxed."

"That is not relaxed, Mr. Paris. That is tense. Believe it or
not, I do know the difference."

"Well, what do you expect? Who knows what you're about to do to

"I am merely going to jog your memory a little."

"What if I remember something so traumatic that I can't deal
with it?"

"I will help you to deal with it. Trust me."

"What if I remember something really embarrassing?"

"Your privacy will be assured at all times."

"What if..."

"Mr. Paris, RELAX."

"You know what, Doc? This is a really bad idea and yelling at
me isn't going to help."

"You're right. I apologize. Now, please take a deep breath and
let it out slowly. Again."

I do as he says, and feel a little calmer.

"How does that feel?"

"Better. I'm still nervous though. I guess I'm afraid you're
going to discover something that happened when I was four years
old and once it's out in the open, I'll never be able to get
over it."

"What makes you say that?"

"Well, some memories are so vivid..."

"No, I meant what made you mention the age of four?"

"Nothing. I just plucked the number out of the air."

"Are you sure? Perhaps your subconscious was speaking."

"I doubt it."

"Well, we shall see. Now, I want you to take another deep
breath and let it out slowly. Just listen to the sound of my

He continues to speak softly and I try to concentrate. Will
this work? Will the Doc really be able to hypnotize me? His
voice is soothing and I find it strangely compelling. I can
feel myself slowly relaxing.

I let my thoughts drift away.


This isn't working. I may be one of those people who can't be
hypnotized. The urge to laugh is hard to ignore and I fight to
control myself. It's probably nerves. The Doc's not saying
anything funny.

I can feel the corners of my mouth turn up and I try to will
them back down again. This is ridiculous. There's no way he'll
be able to hypnotize me. A snort of laughter escapes me,
despite my best efforts to stop it.

"Mr. Paris, please concentrate."

"I'm trying to," I protest.

"Try harder."

He starts all over again and this time I burst into loud
chuckles almost immediately.

"May I ask what's so funny?" he asks dryly.

"Nothing. I'm sorry."

He sniffs and then sighs loudly. "Cooperation is essential."

"I'll cooperate."

"Shall we try again?"

"Sure." I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

The Doc starts once more, but I can't concentrate. I'm
completely focused on trying not to laugh. Unfortunately, I
loose the battle and almost choke.

He sighs once more and then helps me to sit up.

"I'm sorry, Doc," I say, quickly. "But this isn't going to
work. I don't think I can be hypnotized. Let's forget the
whole thing."

"It's a little soon to be giving up."

"It's a waste of time."

"If you were willing to cooperate..."

"I *was* cooperating."

The Doc sniffs loudly. "Your definition of cooperating appears
to differ from mine considerably. If you would just open
yourself up to the possibility, it just may work."

"I did try, Doc."

"You didn't try very hard. Your reasons are understandable, I
suppose. You don't trust me."

"I didn't say that. Of course, I trust you."

"Don't try to spare my feelings, Mr. Paris. Although I have
saved your life numerous times and patiently taught you all I
can, you are wary of my competence. You see me as just another
holographic simulation."

"Doc, you know that's not true. How can you even think such a
thing? Haven't I always treated you as a person?"

"Well, I always thought so, but I now see I was wrong. Your
lack of trust proves otherwise."

"I do trust you, Doc. You know I do."

"I thought you did. I thought we'd formed a friendship."

"We have."

"That's very kind of you to say, but in reality I'm nothing more
than a computer program."

"You're a lot more than that. Listen, why don't we try this
again? I was nervous before, but I'm sure it'll work better
this time."

"I don't know..."

"Come on, Doc. There's no harm in trying."

"You would have to be willing..."

"I *am* willing. I know it'll work this time."

"Well, if you insist."

"I do. Just so long as you know that I do trust you.

"That's very nice to know." Although the Doc's tone is still a
little forlorn, there's an almost triumphant gleam to his eyes
that makes me stare at him suspiciously. Have I just been had?

I replay what just happened, wondering at my complete
turn-around from only moments before. The Doc still looks a
little hurt, so I tell myself I'm being paranoid. I hate the
fact that I hurt his feelings, because I certainly never meant
to. I know I tease him a lot, but he teases me too. That's
just the way it is between us.

I lie back down on the biobed and take a few deep breaths. This
time I can feel the tension slowly draining away as I focus on
the Doc's voice. I don't feel like laughing at all and I'm
determined to try to cooperate.

The Doc's words are soft and soothing and I let them flow over


I make my way back to my quarters, yawning widely. I'm so
tired, I can barely keep my eyes open. The Doc said I'd feel
sleepy and completely relaxed, but I hadn't expected this level
of exhaustion. That may have something to do with the fact that
I haven't slept properly for weeks.

At least I have a genuine excuse for not meeting Harry and
B'Elanna now. I'm going straight to bed. I just hope they've
been having a nice time. They're alike in so many ways. I
don't know why I didn't see it before. Their temperaments may
be completely opposite, but that's probably a point in their
favor. They have so many interests in common and seem to share
the same likes and dislikes. I know they'd make a great couple.

I'm surprised, when I turn the corner, to see the objects of my
thoughts standing next to my doors.

"Are you all right? How'd it go?" they both say at the same

"What are you two doing here?" Damn! Maybe they didn't even go
to the holodeck.

"We were worried about you," B'Elanna says. "When you didn't
meet us we came here to see if you were all right."

"I'm fine. Just tired. I've only just finished, actually."
I key in my access codes and we move inside.

"So? Did it work? Did you remember anything?" Harry asks.

"No. I found it difficult to relax enough, but the Doc thinks
I'll do better at my next session. We're going to try again
tomorrow evening. I do feel calmer about the whole thing,
though. I'm definitely not as worried, so maybe it did help."
I begin to yawn again. "I can't believe how tired I am."

"Well, now that we know you're all right, we'll let you get some
sleep. I have the early shift in the morning, anyway. Come on,

Harry hesitates. "You go ahead, B'Elanna. I'll just make sure
Tom's all right."

"I'm fine. There's no need to stay back with me," I say.

"I don't mind."

B'Elanna shrugs. "Okay. I'll see you both tomorrow." And with
a wave, she's gone.

I turn back to Harry in exasperation. He just missed the
perfect opportunity. "You should have gone with her. I told
you, I'm fine."

"You may be, but I'm not." He flops down on my couch and shakes
his head miserably.

"What's wrong?" I try to push the tiredness away as I sit down
next to him.

"I made a complete ass of myself tonight."


"I can't tell you. It's too embarrassing."

"Of course you can tell me."

"No, I can't. You'll laugh."

"Harry, I will not laugh. Anyway, whatever it is can't be as
bad as what I did."

"Yeah, but you weren't in control of your actions. I was."

"Now you've really got me wondering. Tell me."

"I don't want to talk about it."

I sigh heavily and stand up. "Okay, I won't force you."

"You should have seen what she was wearing," he bursts out. "A
bikini. A thong bikini."

"Not the yellow one?"

"I guess so. It was bright yellow... and it was... small...
real small." He gulps. "She bent over in front of me. And I
was wearing those tight swim trunks."

"Oh, no," I gasp in sympathy. "What'd you do?"

"I rolled over onto my stomach and stayed there. It was really

"I can imagine," I say, trying to stop my voice from wobbling.
I manage to keep a straight face long enough to say, "You should
have drilled a little hole in the sand."

"Oh, very funny. I've never been so embarrassed in all my life.
I knew you'd laugh."

"I'm not laughing," I gasp out between chuckles. Every time I
look at Harry, the indignant expression on his face sets me off
once more.

"It's the last time I tell you anything," he says grimly.

I manage to sober enough to apologize. "I'm sorry, Harry. I
really am. Do you think she noticed?"

"I don't know. I hope not. But our conversation was fairly
strained for the rest of the night."

"What'd you talk about?"

"Nothing much, from what I can remember. The only time we
talked normally was when we were discussing you. Wondering how
you were going and stuff like that."

"Oh!" I sit down next to him once more. "Well, as you know, I
wasn't. I feel a little guilty that I didn't remember anything,
actually. I feel like I let the Doc down or something. He's so
convinced it's going to work."

"I'm sure it's supposed to take more than one session."

"You're probably right. I just wish it could be all over and
done with. I want things to get back to normal."

"They're never going to be normal as long as Chakotay continues
to stare at you all the time."

"He doesn't stare. At least... not all the time."

"Well, most of it then. I happen to be able to see him quite
clearly from where I stand on the bridge, don't forget. What
are you going to do about it?"

"Nothing. I'm sure he'll stop it soon enough."

"You are, are you?

"Of course. He's only doing it because he still feels guilty
about what happened."

"It's a lot more than that. He's interested in you."

"Harry, he is not interested in me."

Harry shakes his head. "I began to suspect something a long
time ago. That's why he acted the way he did in the lift."

"You're wrong, Har. You know what happened in the lift. He
hadn't been with anybody for so long that he was desperate and
just lost control. It was nothing personal. I was just a
convenient rubbing post, as B'Elanna likes to put it."

"Do you even believe what you're saying?"

I swallow hard. "He regrets what happened, Harry. He told me
so. He said that he'd never regretted anything more in his
entire life."

"I don't think he meant he regretted what happened between you,
Tom. I think he meant he regretted the *way* it happened. The
circumstances weren't the best, plus you were still with
B'Elanna. By the look in his eyes, I'd say he wants to be with
you again."

"For a quick rub up in a lift, with me half out of it? I don't
think so. Anyway, you've certainly changed your tune about him.
Why are you being so understanding all of a sudden?"

"I don't think I was being very fair to him before. And I don't
think he wants a quick rub up in a lift again. I think he wants
something a little more permanent than that."

"I see," I say slowly. I try to imagine the two of us in some
sort of relationship, but the image refuses to form. I sigh
regretfully. It's just not meant to be.


*Chakotay's POV*

Tilting my head back, I drain the rest of my glass. It's not
like me to drink like this, but Tom has me acting completely out
of character. All I can see is the two of them together. It
leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that I'm unable to wash away.

I wonder how I'm going to go on. I have to get over him and I
will. It'll just take time and a lot of determination.

My eyes narrow as I see B'Elanna re-enter the room. She's
alone, so where are Tom and Harry? She heads over to a table on
the other side of the room and stands talking to a couple of her
engineering crew for a few moments.

It isn't long before she's heading out again, calling loudly
over her shoulder, "I'll see you both bright and early."

Her gaze locks with mine as she makes her way to the doors and
the smile on her face disappears immediately. She seems to
hesitate and then with a toss of her head changes course and
comes towards me.

Without a word, she picks up the empty glass in front of me and
sniffs it suspiciously. "This was real alcohol, wasn't it?"

I nod.

"What are you doing?"

"I'd saved up a few replicator rations, so thought I'd blow them
all in one night."

"It's not like you to drink."

"It's not like me to do a lot of things I seem to be doing

She sighs and sits down in the chair opposite. "Do you want to
talk about it?"

"With you? You're still mad at me."

"You're too pathetic at the moment to be mad at. You're not
setting a very good example to the rest of the crew. The first
officer is supposed to be in control at all times."

I snort loudly. "Well, we all know how much control I have."

She frowns. "Chakotay, what's this all about? Are you brooding
over what happened with Tom?"

"Why am I to blame for everything?" I burst out suddenly. "Why
was everything my fault? Tom and you seem to be closer than
ever and... where is he anyway? I thought you were with him."

"I was, but Harry made it quite clear he wanted to be alone with
him, so I left them to it."

The images these words invoke cause me to shut my eyes in pain.
"I see," I manage to say, somehow.

B'Elanna sits forward and takes my hand in hers. "You're right.
I haven't been fair. I guess I felt a little protective of Tom.
He's a lot more vulnerable than he looks."

"I know," I say quietly.

She stands up. "Come on, let me walk you back to your quarters.
I think you may need a steadying hand."

"I'll be fine. You don't have to do that."

"I want to. Now, no arguments. Let's go."

I smile at her affectionately. "Has anyone told you lately that
you're bossy?"

She grins in return. "No one still alive, anyway."

To be continued in part 22.