No Regrets - Part 36
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
The last few weeks have been... difficult. Hell, who am I
trying to kid? They've been impossible. My decision to have
nothing more to do with Chakotay would have been hard to stick
to anyway without his constant 'need' to speak with me.
He wants to talk things over, clear the air, and explain things
so that he can use me for a rubbing post whenever the urge takes
him. Okay, maybe that sounds a little harsh... bitter even, but
damn it all, I feel bitter.
He'd been attracted to me for a long time and yet let me believe
I was just a convenience to him in his time of need. What the
hell did he think I was going to do if he'd told me how he felt?
Dump B'Elanna so that I could follow up on this attraction
thing? His reasoning is damn insulting, that's what it is, and
his opinion of me is infuriating.
Harry says Chakotay is in love with me. That's a laugh.
Chakotay accused me of not being able to be in love with him if
I believed all that shit about him... well doesn't that go both
His opinion of me has always been a problem between us and
nothing's changed. He still sees me as some sort of lowlife,
attracted to me or not. I'd really be letting myself in for a
lot of heartbreak if I let this go any further. So I won't.
It's as simple as that.
B'Elanna says I'm a stubborn fool. I don't care. It's better
this way. Harry just shakes his head mournfully at me and tells
me I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face. I don't care about
So I'm not the sympathetic, forgiving, paragon of virtue they
want me to be. So what? He hurt me and I feel more than a
little resentful about the whole thing. Why shouldn't I? I'm
not perfect - far from it - and I've never pretended to be.
And then there's Harry. My best friend Harry. The one person I
thought I could count on always. We've been through a lot
together the two of us. Finding out that his feelings for me
weren't quite what they seemed, had been a shock.
I don't blame him for sleeping with me; I threw myself at him.
It was a terrible thing to do, considering that I knew how he
felt about me by then. No, that isn't my problem with him.
I can't even stay angry with him over all the things he's done
in the past, although I do think the little payback plan the Doc
and I devised between us is just desserts. I've never known
anybody to turn as green as Harry does at even the thought of
getting sick. Just wait till he sees some of the simulations
we've set up for him.
I guess my real problem with him is the fact that one night he
was in love with me and the very next he was thinking of
starting a relationship with someone else. Even going so far as
to tell him what had happened between us.
I would never tell Harry this, he feels bad enough about
everything as it is, but that hurt. It hurt a lot. The fact
that it was Greg Ayala helps a little. I trust him implicitly,
and I meant what I said to him. I truly do hope the two them
can make a go of it and be happy together, but I now feel I
can't confide in Harry the way I used to. He'll tell Greg, and
if I wanted Greg to know my personal details I'd tell him
The same goes for B'Elanna. She and Tuvok are now bonded, and
I'm happy for them, extremely so as a matter of fact, but what
she knows... Tuvok does also. It's only natural. I trust Tuvok
implicitly, also, but it's just not the same anymore.
So I say nothing much to either of them these days and I know
they're worried... it's not like me to be so quiet. They also
say I'm not sleeping or eating enough, but I think I did too
much of that before anyway. I'm fine. At least... I will be.
Tom is finally back on alpha shift. He looks awful, which - of
course - causes me to blame myself. He's pale, far too thin,
and seems to have permanent circles smudged under his eyes.
I don't understand why he's doing this to himself. If he'd only
let me explain things to him, talk to him even, we could work it
out. He knows how I feel about him, I know he does, so why is
he doing this? It's so unnecessary. We could be together;
there's no need for any of this.
In his attempt to punish me, he seems to be punishing himself
even more. He's such a stubborn fool. It's taken all my
willpower at times not to go over there and throttle him, and
then kiss him senseless.
Most of the time, however, I sit back and watch him sullenly.
The next move is up to him. I've tried. Spirits, how I've
tried. But if that's the way he wants it, then so be it. I
refuse to force my attentions on him any further. It's his
choice to suffer in this way, so let him.
Swallowing, I turn my eyes away from the back of his head and
concentrate on the data padd in my hand. It wouldn't have
worked out between us, anyway. We would have probably done
nothing but argue, and I honestly don't need the aggravation at
this point in my life. It's for the best. I swallow once more.
I step into the lift slowly, barely aware that somebody is
already in there.
"Hi, Greg," I answer, trying to force some enthusiasm into my
"Did Harry tell you our plans for tonight?"
"Will you join us?"
"Thanks, but... I don't really..."
"He's worried about you, you know."
"I know. I'm sorry," I say miserably.
Greg sighs loudly. "Why don't you talk to him?"
"I do," I say in surprise.
"I'm talking about Chakotay. If you'd only..."
"I don't want to."
"You look positively ill. Surely..."
The lift stops and the doors open to reveal none other than
Chakotay himself, about to step in. He hesitates significantly
and then enters cautiously.
"Sorry... forgot... my deck." Greg dashes out, just as the
"Ayala, it is not," I yell out.
Chakotay clears his throat. "That was subtle."
I cross my arms, determined to ride the journey out in silence.
"Tom, you look terrible."
"Thanks a lot."
"You're obviously still hurting. Can't we talk about this?"
"You have feelings for me. You wouldn't look like this if you
I open my mouth to tell him to shut up and then close it again.
What happened to my vow of silence? I keep my eyes fixed firmly
on the doors and say nothing.
"Tom? Why are you being so stubborn? You're putting yourself
through hell, needlessly. I was a fool. B'Elanna told me that
you think my sense of honor is more important to me than
anything. You're wrong. I didn't even act with honor where
He moves closer to me, but I stand stiffly at attention, praying
for the lift to stop and the doors to open. Why's it taking so
"I told myself I lied to you so that I wouldn't hurt B'Elanna; I
didn't want to complicate matters any further between the two of
you, but that's not true. I let my fear of rejection overwhelm
me completely. I'm sorry. So sorry."
I bite my lip, my resolve starting to weaken.
"Tom? Will you give me another chance?"
I swallow, but refuse to answer him. What about that night?
There was no need for him to be worried about rejection. Hadn't
I already told him how I felt?
He thought I was mistaking my feelings and was really in love
with Harry, but...
"Tom, please talk to me."
I don't know what to say. He hurt me. More than once. Should
I take the chance? I just don't know. And... what the hell? I
could have crawled through the Jeffries tubes and arrived at the
bridge before this goddamned snail of a turbolift.
And where the hell is my pride? I look so bad that everyone's
commenting on it. And, because I look so bad, Chakotay thinks
I'm pining for him. I guess I am. But... damn it! I don't
want to be hurt again.
He thinks he can just bail me up like this and, eventually, I'll
cave in. No! It's not going to happen. I won't let it happen.
I should have made sure I ate and slept properly. How could I
have let myself get into this state? I shouldn't have given him
any reason to think he had a chance with me. And why the hell
are we still in this goddamned lift? We should have arrived at
the bridge ages ago.
"Why the hell are we still in this goddamned lift?" I say aloud.
"We should have arrived at the bridge ages ago."
There's silence for a few moments and then Chakotay sighs. He
stares at the panel. "I don't think we're moving."
I sniff disdainfully and then realize he's right. It doesn't
take much investigation to discover that Greg's halted the
turbolift from outside. The computer won't accept either
Chakotay's or my override.
"It's okay, Tom. I'll have us out of here in no time."
I ignore him and slap my commbadge instead. "Paris to Ayala.
Greg, get this goddamned lift moving, or else."
'That's not very nice, Tom. A polite request for assistance
"Greg, I'm warning you."
'It's not really my department. I'll have maintenance get right
"Let me." Chakotay slaps his commbadge. "Mr. Ayala. This is
*Commander* Chakotay here. You will return access of this lift
to me immediately or I will put you on report. Is that clear?"
'I'm sorry, Sir. There must be something wrong with
communications. I can't hear you properly.'
I watch Chakotay clench his jaw before he turns to me. "He's
dead." He reaches out and pats my shoulder. "Don't worry. I
have everything under control."
"Yeah... right," I mumble. I step back away from him and rest
against the back wall. He watches me worriedly.
"It'll be all right. I promise."
I shake my head and close my eyes. If Greg thinks this little
plan is going to make me start talking to Chakotay, he's got
another think coming. And I wish Chakotay would stop being
so... anxious, concerned, or whatever the hell it is he's being.
I don't want him being nice to me... caring towards me. It
just makes everything so much more difficult. I have to stay
angry with him, I can't let him get to me like this. I grit my
teeth and bang my head softly against the wall of the lift.
"Oh, hell," Chakotay says quietly. "Tom? Please don't."
His voice is soft, gentle and full of emotion. The small amount
of resolve I have left crumbles, and battling with a sudden urge
to start crying, I throw my arms around him.
He holds me close and I sink into his embrace, struggling to
find the words I want to say. He doesn't give me the chance.
Before I can say anything, he slaps his commbadge and barks into
it. "Greg, quit playing around. Tom's not handling this too
well. He's starting to panic."
My eyes spring open at that and I push myself away from him.
'Oh, shit!' Greg's voice is full of horror. 'I forgot. I'm
sorry, Chak. Control's been restored. Tom, I'm so sorry.
You'll be out of there soon.'
Glaring at Chakotay, I slap my commbadge. "Thank you, Greg, but
I'm fine. I wasn't panicking."
Chakotay squeezes my arm. "We're moving, Tom."
"So I noticed."
He attempts to squeeze my arm again, but I move out of his grasp
and step away. "I was fine before. I wasn't panicking."
"Okay." He smiles at me patronizingly and I can feel my anger
mounting. To think I almost gave in. How could I forget just
how totally annoying he could be?
"Believe what you want," I say coldly. "But, I wasn't
"It doesn't matter, Tom. It's okay now."
"I WAS NOT PANICKING," I yell at him as the doors open onto the
bridge. The Captain and Tuvok are standing there, waiting to
She looks at me worriedly. "Is everything all right?"
"I'm fine. Everything's fine," I answer, a little too loudly.
I make my way down to my console, knowing that all eyes are on
me. Damn it all anyway! That's the last time. The last time
I draw attention to myself in any way, shape, or form. From now
on I'm going to eat and sleep properly. I'm going to be the
model officer and nobody's going to take any notice of me at
I begin my plan immediately. That afternoon I'm at peak
efficiency on the bridge. The Captain squeezes my shoulder
before I leave, telling me I did a wonderful job. That wasn't
exactly what I had in mind. Everyone on the bridge is looking
at me again. Especially Chakotay. I clench my jaw, thank the
Captain, and then hurry away.
Neelix gives me a funny look at dinner, when I go back for a
second helping and then ask him what's for dessert. There's two
choices, so I take them both. Harry just shakes his head at me,
telling me I'll probably be sick.
Both concoctions are unbearably sweet. I wolf them down anyway.
Harry can't bear to watch, saying he feels sick just looking at
me. I finish his dessert as well.
Over the next few days I eat everything I can, much to Neelix's
delight. My stomach isn't quite as delighted, however, and I
find I have to sneak medication from sickbay to combat its
I'm pleased to see that my face is already losing its gaunt
appearance. If I keep on eating like this, it won't take long
to gain all the weight I've lost.
Sleeping isn't as easy. No matter how hard I try, I can't relax
enough to sleep. Every time I close my eyes, Chakotay appears
before me. He's telling me how sorry he is and asking me to
give him another chance.
I decide the only answer is to tire myself out completely each
day. I start going to Tuvok's fitness workouts every morning
and the gym most nights. I also try to keep moving as much as
possible during the day. This is a little hard to do, sitting
at the helm, so I try to make up for it whenever I'm off the
I've discovered that crawling through Jeffries tubes, instead of
using the turbolift, is an excellent way to use up energy. I
can't always do that, of course, but I try to as much as
possible. I've even set myself targets to see how fast I can
crawl through, just to make it a little more exciting. It seems
to be working too, as each night I fall asleep almost
immediately, too exhausted to stay awake another moment.
The only trouble is, all this exercise is causing my weight to
stay down, no matter how much I eat. At least I don't look as
ill as I did before.
I know I said the next move was up to Tom, and that I refused to
force my attentions on him any further, but I couldn't help
myself. The opportunity in the lift was too good to pass up.
He still refused to speak to me, however. I've never known
anyone so stubborn in my life. And then he panicked. Well...
started to anyway. As much as he denied it, I know the truth.
He looks a lot better these days. He seems to be eating and
sleeping properly again and I'm happy and relieved about that,
although a little disappointed that he seems to be getting over
However, I'm worried about him. Even more than before. Greg's
rather unfortunate attempt to help out has had a traumatic side
effect. Tom is now too traumatized to use the turbolift unless
he absolutely has to.
I'm the only one that knows Tom's terrible secret. I always
know where Tom is and that's how I discovered he was using the
Jeffries tubes a lot of the time, instead of the lift. His
claustrophobia is obviously causing serious problems now and
this could have devastating consequences. How long before the
Captain finds out, and should I even try to hide it from her?
Tom needs serious help; the Doctor obviously not up to the
challenge. He was mistaken in his assurances that Tom had
conquered his phobia. It's just getting worse. Normally, as
first officer, I would have handled this situation long ago.
Because it's Tom, I haven't interfered. But I can't let this
continue any longer.
Tom leaves the bridge with Harry, stepping into the lift
seemingly unconcerned. I know better. He's due in sickbay
this afternoon and I know without a doubt he'll be using the
Jeffries tubes to get there. I decide it's time to confront