No Regrets - Part 37
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
I'm not going to make it. I haven't allowed myself enough time.
Panting with exertion, my knees aching painfully, I crawl
frantically forward. The perspiration beading on my forehead
drips into my eyes, causing them to sting.
I throw myself against the hatch, just as the beep of my
chronometer goes off. Opening the hatch quickly, I peer around
to ensure that no one's near. The coast is clear, so I hurl
myself forward and topple out. Straight into the arms of
He clears his throat as I attempt to disentangle myself. "We
need to talk about this, Tom."
I groan. Not again! "Chakotay, there's nothing to say. We
both need to move on. I'm not interested in having a
relationship with you, and I think..."
"Thank you for telling me that once again. However, I think I
got the message. That's *not* what we need to talk about."
"No. We need to discuss why you're crawling through the
"Oh!" I say sheepishly, my face flaming. His hands are still
gripping my shoulders and I'm standing way too close to him. I
find it difficult to catch my breath as I stare, almost
mesmerized, into his eyes.
He suddenly releases my shoulders and steps back. "We'd better
go to sickbay." I follow him down the corridor, wondering why
he wants to talk to me in sickbay.
"Commander," the Doc says, hurrying over as we enter. "You said
you had an urgent matter to discuss with me concerning Mr.
He nods. "That's right."
I look at him in surprise. "You have?"
He ignores me, addressing the Doc instead. "I'm afraid I have
some bad news. Your assertions that Tom's claustrophobia is
under control are proving to be false."
"What?" I cry as the Doc looks me up and down as if I'm some
specimen in a jar.
"I see. How very unfortunate."
"Doc, Chakotay's talking through his ass."
At the Doc's raised eyebrow and Chakotay's sudden death glare I
quickly amend. "I mean, he's wrong."
"I am, am I?" Chakotay challenges me. "Why are you afraid to
use the turbolift?"
"I'm not afraid to use the turbolift."
"Really? How did you get to sickbay, Tom? Did you use the
"You know I didn't," I say hotly. "I came through the... but
that... oh, shit!"
"I rest my case."
"I am not afraid to use the turbolift," I say forcefully. "I
was just using the Jeffries tubes to try and keep fit."
"That's not a very convincing lie, Tom. I happen to know that
you attend Tuvok's fitness workout every morning, and go to the
gym most nights when you're not using the holodeck. There's no
need to go to the rather extreme measure of crawling through
Jeffries tubes to stay in shape."
"Believe what you want; it's the truth. And how do you know so
much about my personal life anyway? Are you keeping tabs on
"And if I am, you already know why." Chakotay's voice rises a
little in agitation.
"Well, cut it out."
"Stop trying to change the subject," he replies angrily. "The
fact is that you're doing more than enough to keep fit, so
you're obviously crawling through the Jeffries tubes for some
other reason. It's obvious that Greg rekindled your
claustrophobia the other day."
"That's shit!" I yell.
"I'll be the judge of that. As first officer, it's my duty to
ensure that all crewmembers are able to carry out their assigned
duties in a capable manner. Your claustrophobia is going to
"What duty is being affected by my crawling through the Jeffries
tubes instead of using the turbolift?" I yell furiously. "It's
not like I'm late for duty or anything."
"Sooner or later we'll be at red alert or something and..."
"I'm still capable of using the goddamned turbolift," I shout
over top of him. "I use it every day. I've beaten my
claustrophobia. Why won't you listen to me?" My fist itches
to take a swing at him. I'm so angry, I'm shaking.
He shakes his head. "You can deny it to yourself all you like;
I know the truth."
That's it. I can't stand it any longer. I push him... hard,
and he takes a few stumbling steps backwards to regain his
balance. His face colors with anger and then he steps forward,
his fists clenched.
The Doc steps between us. "That's enough. I will not have this
type of behavior in my sickbay. If you're going to brawl, then
take it outside."
"That's fine with me," I hiss, making to move towards the door.
The Doc grabs my arm.
"Thank you for bringing this situation to my attention,
Commander. Please leave it with me."
Chakotay glares at the Doc and then at me. "I'll have to make a
report to the Captain," he says stiffly.
"There's nothing to damn well report," I yell, struggling to
make the Doc let go of my arm. He holds on grimly.
"Please go, Commander. I have everything under control. Tell
the Captain that I'm dealing with the situation now and will
report to her as soon as possible."
"Damn it, Doc. Let me go. There is no goddamned situation."
The doors hisses closed as Chakotay exits and I turn around to
glare at the Doc. He sniffs and lets go of my arm. I rub it
furiously, still glaring at him. "You know my claustrophobia's
under control," I say accusingly.
"I believed so."
"Then why are you crawling through the Jeffries tubes instead of
using the turbolift?"
"It's good exercise."
"It appears you're getting more than enough of that. You seem
to be overdoing it. Why?"
I sigh in resignation. "I haven't been able to sleep, and
rather than get a sleep aid, I thought I'd tire myself out each
day. It seemed to be working..."
"You should have come to me. I've been trying to help you for
weeks. That isn't the answer."
"It was working for me."
The Doc sighs. "We need to address the reason why you're not
able to sleep."
"Every time I close my eyes, I see Chakotay's face," I find
"I see. I won't even pretend to understand what's going on
between the two of you, but you really need to work things out."
"There's nothing to work out. I just need some time to get over
"And why is that necessary? He obviously has feelings for you
"It's not that simple."
"His opinion of me is lousy."
"What makes you say that?"
"It can't be that bad or he wouldn't be in love with you."
"And that's the whole point, Doc. Is he in love with me or is
he just attracted to me sexually?"
"What makes you think that's all it is?"
"I don't know. A lot of things. It doesn't matter. I don't
want to get involved."
"You're very determined about this, aren't you?"
"Your mind seems to be telling you one thing and your heart
another. Perhaps you should listen to your heart?"
"No. It's all wrong between us. If I listen to my heart, I'm
going to end up even more hurt than I am now. I don't think I
can handle that."
"You don't know that for certain. I think you may end up
happier than you can imagine."
I shake my head stubbornly. "Just give me some sleep aids to
help me for now."
"Mule-headed stubbornness is not a virtue, Mr. Paris."
"I didn't say it was," I answer shortly, turning away and
deciding to start work. "What do you want me to do today?"
I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I'm going to have
to interfere between Tom and Chakotay. I have always been firm
in my determination to stay out of my crew's personal lives, but
this situation can no longer continue.
They need to resolve things once and for all. I thought things
were settling between the two of them. Tom seemed to be pulling
himself together and Chakotay had submitted to the inevitable.
There would be no relationship between the two.
It was sad, and to me, as well as many others in the know,
totally unreasonable. Tom was adamant, however, and I - at
least - was willing to accept his wishes. Chakotay, although
reluctant, was also willing to abide by Tom's decision.
A few well-meaning friends were not quite so willing, but
ultimately they left Tom alone also. Things quietened between
the two of them and Tom started to look a lot better.
This didn't last, however. Chakotay reported to me that Tom
seemed to be suffering from a relapse of his claustrophobia, and
all hell seems to have broken loose over the past few days.
The Doctor explained to me the reasoning behind Tom's use of the
Jeffries tubes, but no matter what was said to Chakotay, he
remained firm in his belief that Tom was still claustrophobic.
Tom, of course, resented this belief, and that resentment has
manifested itself as open hostility. I can say one thing for
sure. It's never dull on the bridge these days. They seem to
be constantly sniping at one another.
Chakotay, for his part, seems to delight in the thinly veiled
barbs and insults, telling me that he'd forgotten for the last
few months just what an irritating, arrogant prick Tom really
is. He says he's glad that Tom's decided to remind him; it
makes everything so much easier.
Tom, unfortunately, hasn't said much of anything to me. He
refuses to discuss the issue. Whenever I say anything to him,
he apologizes for his behavior, promises to act professionally
at all times, and then proceeds to needle Chakotay at the first
Of course, I can't let this continue any longer. That's why, as
much as I'm loath to do it, I'm going to have to interfere.
Ordering them to stop it and sort things out isn't going to
work, so I've had to be a little more inventive.
Both B'Elanna and Harry have agreed to help me. B'Elanna
eagerly; Harry reluctantly. It was only his genuine desire to
see Tom happy, and the promise of no more sickbay duties that
helped him surrender. He honestly thought I didn't know why he
was suddenly trying to train to be a nurse?
There's not much that happens on this ship that I don't find out
about... one way or another.
I sigh and ask both Chakotay and Tom to report to my ready room.
The Captain stares at the two of us silently for some time,
making me feel like a disobedient schoolboy standing before the
principal, and then sits forward in her chair, clasping her
hands together tightly.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see that Chakotay appears to
be a little resentful of this treatment. I'm used to it,
however. I stare straight back at her, waiting for her to
She sighs and fixes her eyes firmly on Chakotay. "I'm tired of
the constant bickering on the bridge. You both know my policy
on personal relationships. This is going to have to be sorted
Chakotay begins to sputter out an apology, but I remain silent.
She holds up her hand, just as I knew she would.
"No, Chakotay, apologizing and promising it won't happen again
isn't enough. It's gone too far. That's why I've come to a
She's decided to keep us apart. I can't say I'm surprised.
Every time I tell myself to ignore him, he does something else
to deliberately annoy me and then has the nerve to say *I'm*
I guess that means I'll be on beta shift permanently. Not that
that worries me. I'll miss seeing Harry and B'Elanna all the
time, but they're busy with Greg and Tuvok now anyway.
I'm startled out of my thoughts by the Captain's next words.
"I've decided to send the two of you on a diplomatic mission."
"A diplomatic mission?" Chakotay repeats.
"Us?" is all *I* can manage.
She nods briskly. "That's correct. Seven has found some rather
interesting readings on long-range sensors. We're coming up to
an M-class planet in the next sector and it wouldn't hurt to
check it out. We're in need of quite a few supplies. Here's
the list. B'Elanna and Harry have the Flyer ready to go and
have even gone so far as to have a bag packed for each of you.
You leave in half an hour."
Chakotay stares dumbly down at the padd the Captain's handed
him, while I stare at her incredulously. "It would make more
sense to take Voyager, surely?"
"Not this time. We'll be investigating a couple of L-class
planets in the opposite direction."
"This is a rather abrupt decision, Captain," Chakotay says
"That's right," she answers cheerfully. "I think the two of you
need some time away to sort things out. This is the perfect
"Captain, this planet is two days away in the Flyer," Chakotay
"We'll be meeting up with you in five days time, if all goes
Five days!!!! Five days in a shuttle... alone... with Chakotay.
"Captain, I'm not exactly feeling very diplomatic at the
moment," I say.
She merely smiles at me. "I'm sure you'll be fine and will act
completely professional at all times."
"But... Captain," I start to protest.
She shakes her head. "No arguments. I expect the two of you to
use this time wisely."
"Captain..." Chakotay starts to say.
"Good luck, gentlemen. Dismissed."
I can feel my face flaming as I turn around and march smartly
from the room. Chakotay remains where he is, obviously not
ready to leave it at that. I could have told him to save his
breath. The Captain had that steely look of determination she
often gets. She won't be changing her mind.