Summary: A bad month for Tom leads to new discoveries about Chakotay and himself.
Disclaimer: Everything, but the idea and the talent that went into this is Paramounts, the rest is all mine.
"Behind the Wall"
Tom was sitting in sickbay on the biobed, again. This month was just not turning out to be his whatsoever. As he sat there being examined by the holo doctor, his mind flashedback to some of the highlights of the month in question. It started when Chakotay had come back from attempting to do negotiations with the DorShens. They looked very humanoid, except they were a very aggressive society and they had purple skin, hair, eyes…personally they gave Tom the shivers. A person of great patience was needed and of course, Chakotay was assigned the task. When he returned, he informed the senior staff that they were to come back in about a month and the supplies would be ready.
Janeway wasn't too happy about having to hang around this sector of space for a whole month, but they needed the supplies, so they headed for a near by inhabitable moon, where there was no sign of sentient life, to relax for awhile. They should have realized that there was a problem the first day when Chakotay actually argued with her on the bridge. But, it was chalked up to pent up stress from having to deal with the DorShens. Even though there was probably a private 'chat' about it, it was quickly dismissed.
But, that wasn't the last of the Commander's odd behavior. He was much more angry and aggressive towards the crew than ever before, but especially Tom.
While playing pool, Tom would do what he always did to tease the sexy man he so desired...he taunted him. He never thought he'd get anywhere with the stoic man. So if he couldn't love him, he'd channel all his energy into driving the man who drove him crazy, mad. That day, Chakotay had come really close to belting him, which didn't sit well with Tom one bit. He complained that something was wrong and although there were promises of talking to the Commander about it, Tom got the distinct impression that they blamed him for it and did nothing.
Two days later, Tom had his proof. He was coming home late from winning more of Harry's rations when he entered his quarters, calling for lights and they didn't come on. The next thing he knew, he was grabbed from behind and knocked to the ground. He struggled, but he was at a disadvantage. So he concentrated on tapping his comm badge, thankfully he managed to do so before it was ripped from his shirt. He then felt his pants being ripped off of him and his face being pushed hard into the rug. Though security showed up before he was penetrated, it was still a deeply humiliating situation to be found in. When he rolled over to see who it was that attacked him and saw Chakotay, he knew…he knew something was terribly wrong.
He was glad he insisted on a full physical instead of charges being brought up when Captain Janeway and her anger, confronted him at what her first Officer had tried to do. Everyone was surprised to discover that the man in custody was a DorShen in disguise of the Commander. He was completely useless in providing any information as to what happened to the real Chakotay. Janeway was on the warpath and headed back to retrieve her Commander. Timing couldn't have been better, because Voyager arrived just as the real Chakotay had managed to escape.
The DorShen government gave over some supplies in exchange for the prisoner, but no explanation was coming forth from them as to why they did it. Since Janeway wasn't about to go to war over a planet's stupidity and they received enough of what they needed to move on, they did so. Chakotay explained later that he had been captured the second day he was there and put into some device, designed to transfer personality and basic memories to the copy. He grabbed at straws by focusing on a part of him that he didn't show much, his temper. He had hoped that it would set some suspicious events into motion, but when Janeway told him that it worked and why, the First Officer felt totally ashamed and guilty. He apologized to Tom, then avoided him for the next several weeks.
It was not being able to talk, tease, or even see Chakotay that made most of this month lousy. The Commander was feeling so bad that he scheduled himself the nightshift. Tom had thought about going to him and trying to 'fix' things, but he didn't know what to say and the fact that the few times he did see him unexpectantly, he flinched. He chided himself for it over and over again, for he knew that the Commander had seen it and it added to his reason to avoid Tom.
Janeway, thankfully, had had enough of her senior officers avoiding each other for a situation that was no one's fault and thankfully no one was really hurt. It was over and time to move on. She insisted that Chakotay take his regular shift back and slowly things started to get back to normal, on the bridge anyway. They still needed supplies and had found two planets that had some of what they needed. One had food, but would need a large gathering party. The other contained the raw materials they needed to power the ship. Janeway decided to send Tom and Chakotay down to gather the minerals, most likely her way of making the two work it out. They then were to meet up with Voyager in a few days so they could join in on the food gathering as well.
As far as Tom could remember, the mission had gone well, even better than he had hoped. After about two hours he was finally able to get Chakotay to crack a smile, it was a beautiful thing to behold. Then, after another hour, they had gone into the whole I'm-to-blame thing and moved on, understanding that neither of them were at fault. They had gathered as much mineral as they could on the first day they were there, then Tom couldn't remember anything, well not really. The Doctor told him he was physically fine and there was no reason for Tom's lack of memory or passing out.
According to Chakotay's report, the second day went by the same as the first, except there was less to find. Then, while they were storing the minerals, Tom passed out and he couldn't wake him up. He gathered everything and headed back to Voyager. Tom was aware that he was still sitting on the biobed. Though the Doctor found nothing unusual, he still wanted to run more tests. Tom saw a strange look cross Chakotay's face as he looked into the older man's eyes. He saw vulnerability and confusion, nothing like the strong man Tom knew all too well. He watched as Chakotay left sickbay, telling the Captain that he'd make a full report. The Doctor had insisted he examine the Commander, Chakotay told him no, that he was fine, but if the doctor still insisted, he would be back later.
Tom felt something was wrong once again, because the smile was gone from the Commander's eyes and was replaced with 'the' look. Tom even thought about the DorShen again, but no, this was something...else. //What a lousy month! First, Chakotay is kidnapped and his double almost rapes me. Then the real one avoids me over misplaced guilt and now this!// Tom didn't know why, but after seeing that look of vulnerability, a strong wave of protection filled him…for Chakotay. Now 'that' was new. Tom sat there, bitching and complaining till the Doctor finally had enough of his mouth and let him go. He heard the Doctor contact the Commander, asking him to report for a physical and heard Chakotay say he was on his way. Tom then wished he hadn't been dismissed, but he'd complained about going back to work, so now he had to. //I'll talk with him after our shift,// he mused and left sickbay.
To Tom's surprise, Chakotay didn't report back to his shift and Janeway was called down to sickbay. Tom was really concerned now. He sat there keeping Voyager hovering silently in orbit as his mind hazed…like a dream that wanted to be remembered. It was of him and Chakotay gathering the mineral, when they stumbled across a hidden structure. The place had been abandoned for generations by the look of all the plant growth. He could see in his vision the two of them going inside…and something happened…or did it? It didn't feel real, yet it… Janeway walked back onto the bridge. //She doesn't look too happy, but not too upset. I wish she'd just tell us.//
As if his thoughts had been heard, "Janeway to senior staff. Meet me in the briefing room in twenty minutes. Janeway, out." She then turned to Harry, "You have the con, mister Kim. Mister Paris, mister Tuvok, I'll see you two in the briefing room in twenty minutes," she said, then left to go to her office.
Tom was seated in his chair as he watched his fellow officers' file in. Except for Chakotay. Janeway walked in, looking reserved as she took her seat. She briefly glanced around the table, looking at everyone. Tom felt a shiver run down his spine. Something 'was' wrong.
Janeway swallowed, then took a deep breath, "Commander Chakotay will be on limited shifts for awhile," she stated as flatly as she could. "He'll still be functioning as First Officer, he'll just be cutting back so some of his duties will have to be redistributed. I'll have those assignments to you all within the next few days," she said.
"What's wrong?" B'Elanna asked.
//Thank you, B'Ela. I didn't want to ask,// Tom thought. He could see the Captain's eyes narrow, but kept her face tight, trying not to give too much away. But to Tom, she had already given it all away. Chakotay had to be sick or ill…or something.
"It's a private matter," she replied matter of factly. "Just know that he's got unexpected health issues that will cause him to need less physical activity than normal, but…" she stressed. "He 'will' be all right, though it may take…some time. He 'does not' wish to discuss it and I for one, better 'not' hear about it on the gossip grapevine. Even though the crew may notice a few changes, if we act normal and accept it, they will too. That's 'all' you need to know for now. Dismissed," she said, then left and went back to her office.
"Damn, Tom! What happened while you were away?" B'Elanna angrily asked.
"Honestly, I 'don't' know. I was told that all was fine then 'I' passed out. Though the Doc couldn't find a reason. But…what if whatever made me pass out…?"
"Made him sick?" She finished for the pilot.
"Lieutenant Torres, Lieutenant Paris. We were dismissed. I believe you both have shifts to finish?" Tuvok asked. It wasn't a question, but a reminder. The two of them exited the briefing room to finish their shifts.
After Tom was finally off duty, he headed straight for Chakotay's quarters. //He may not wish to talk about it, but I know there's a problem and I can't let him face it alone…I just can't!// Tom thought as he marched himself towards his destination with a confidence he wasn't really sure he had. He rang the chime, once, twice…
Tom walked in, ready to have either his head ripped off for bothering the Commander or an arctic breeze. Seeing Chakotay sitting on his sofa, staring out at the stars with a blanket around his shoulders, giving him that vulnerable quality again, shook Paris to the core. He wanted to rush over to Chakotay and hug the man. He almost did, but stopped himself short of the hug. "Cha, tell me…what really happened down there? And forgive me, but the truth this time," Tom said, not wanting to offend the man he cared so much about or the delicate friendship they had.
Chakotay hadn't said a word since he entered the room, he briefly glanced towards Tom then back towards the stars. At hearing Tom's firm question, he turned his head to look at Tom once again. His dark eyes searching the younger man's face. Tom was shocked to see those strong dark eyes filled with emotions he had never seen before. The strong wall known as Commander Chakotay had fallen and now only 'this' man was left…lost, confused, vulnerable…afraid? //What could possibly be wrong that would make this man, of all people, afraid? Heavens, what if he's dying? But, Janeway was sure Cha would be okay, she wouldn't lie…would she? He's afraid, but mostly lost and confused…Chakotay isn't use to those emotions. No. He was in control, he made a decision and stuck to it…confusion meant not being prepared to make a decision…lost…// Tom understood being lost. He'd been lost for a long time; it was his time on Voyager and his love for the man before him that helped him to find his way.
"Please, Cha?" He asked softly, sitting down as close as he dared. "I 'know' something is wrong and I 'know' more happened down there. I'm getting hazed pictures, but it'll come back…did I…?" //Oh, no…did 'I' hurt him…oh, please no!// "Did I…did I hurt you?" Tom finally asked.
Chakotay lowered his eyes and pulled the blanket tighter around him. "You didn't hurt me, Tom," he replied, his voice just above a whisper. "I…I just need time to think, that's all."
Tom's eyes widened, he saw it, he almost didn't believe it, but tears were coming down the Commander's cheeks. //Oh, heavens! What happened to you?// Tom's heart ached, he wanted to give back what Chakotay had given him over the years, but had been too afraid to do so. Seeing the man he loved crying, was more than he could take, he didn't think, he didn't ask, he just acted. He slid closer and hugged the big man tightly in his arms. "Whatever it is," he soothed. "I won't let you go through it alone, I swear it!" he vowed, knowing this to be true. He was a bit surprised to feel Chakotay wrap himself in Tom's embrace, but Tom was glad. He had wanted to hold this man for sometime, he just wished it was under better circumstances.
Tom continued to hold Chakotay, feeling slight tremors through out his body from the soft sobs. Tom soothed his love with soft words, caresses and didn't even think twice about a few kisses to the temple. Soon the tremors stopped and Chakotay's embrace became stronger, hugging back and Tom was delighted. "It's going to be okay," he soothed again, placing another soft kiss on Chakotay's forehead. He then noticed dark eyes looking up to meet his own, searching…finding. Tom saw a spark of the man he knew so well, a decision had been made attitude. Tom felt Chakotay's lips caress his own, kissing them gently, lovingly. Tom couldn't help but to respond, he had wanted to do this for years. But, Tom didn't want to take advantage of Chakotay, no matter how much he wanted him. After a few minutes, he broke the deep kiss.
"Cha, I don't want to take advantage of you. Don't get me wrong, I have wanted to kiss you for years," he smiled a bit bashfully. "But, I 'won't' take advantage of this moment. I want you to know you can trust me. That I'll be here for you, that it'll be safe…I swear," he vowed once again.
"Oh, Thomas Eugene Paris…I believe you. I too have had deep feelings for you as well, but…I was too stubborn," he let out a sigh. Tom could see all this emotion was draining on the man who everyone considered to have 'it' all together.
Chakotay pulled back from the embrace. "I was about to make a decision on my own, but…" he looked away towards the stars again, then got up from the sofa, pulling the blanket around him tighter, like it was body armor.
"But what? Cha, tell me what's wrong, please?" Tom urged.
Chakotay turned to face Tom though he didn't meet his eyes. "But...I understand now that perhaps the decision isn't mine alone."
Now Tom was really confused. "Cha, please?" Tom urged again, hoping for more information so he could help his love.
Chakotay let out a sigh. "You're right something 'did' happen on the planet, though it 'wasn't' your fault. Even though I don't know 'all' the details, though…I do remember some of it." Chakotay moved away from Tom, the blanket couldn't get any tighter around his body.
Tom's face paled as he stood. "Are you 'sure' I didn't hurt you?" he asked again, fear filling his soul.
At this, Chakotay turned to face Tom, another spark of his strength showing. "Spirits, Tom! No. No, you didn't hurt me. We..." the spark softened some, but still there. In its place was warmth. "We made love," he whispered warmly, though unsure of how Tom would react.
"We did?" Tom asked, bothered at not being able to remember his first time with the beautiful man before him. //Now 'this' is just unfair! I finally get to make love with him and I can't even remember it,// his mind snapped at the situation.
Chakotay smiled. "Yes. Although, I don't remember what brought it on or all the details, but I do remember your warmth," he said as he stepped closer to Tom. "Your gentle caresses, your love," he finished inches away from Tom. "It was love, Tom. I was fairly sure then, but now, after that kiss, 'I know'," he smiled. "It was beautiful, I'm only sorry you don't remember it…but, that was my doing," he said somewhat ashamedly, then moved back from Tom.
"When we woke up in the shuttle and no, I don't remember how we got there, you were sleeping, so was I. I ran a medical examine on me, then you, then on me again. I…I wanted to deal with it myself…I panicked and so slipped you an inhibitor, so you'd block out what happened, at least for awhile. I thought I could handle the matter and when you remembered…if there was anymore to happen between us, there would be…no problems." Chakotay said, still not looking at the young man.
"Cha, you have me at a total loss now. You say we made beautiful love and I do believe that," the young man said as he moved up behind the man he now could express his love to. "But…what caused you to panic? What problem? Please, Cha. I swear I'll stand by you, I won't judge you…" Seeing Chakotay still wouldn't look at him, he felt the need to make his point. He quickly stepped around to look Chakotay in the eyes, holding him firmly so the big man couldn't turn away unless he put up a fuss, which he didn't. "Damn it, I've loved you for years. I love you so much I'd do anything and I do mean anything for you to prove it. Please, trust me enough to help you with this…what matter? What problem?" Tom insisted, his face flushed with passionate concern.
Chakotay stared into Tom's eyes, searching. "I'm pregnant," was all he said, not blinking once.
Tom, on the other hand, blinked several times. "Cha…that's…that's impossible…isn't it?"
"Up until today, I'd be the first one to agree with you, but…well it's been confirmed. I am pregnant, with twins."
Tom was floored until the words, 'not just my decision' hit him. "I'm the…father?" he asked, not knowing any other way to put it.
Chakotay was finding more of his old strength being near Tom. "Yes. I had the doc check the DNA, though…I did ask him to keep that from the Captain. Right now, she thinks it's some form of osmosis," he smiled a bit impishly.
Tom grinned for a moment then sobered; "You weren't going to tell me?"
"I'm sorry, Tom. This whole thing has me so off balanced, I couldn't think straight and that's what I really wanted, a chance to think. Plus, I didn't want to put you in an uncomfortable position…I mean I just…"
"Was doing what you always do," Tom snapped lightly. "Take the entire burden onto your own shoulders. But love, you can't do that all the time, especially with this," he finished warmly. "Have 'you' made any decisions?"
"Though the Captain didn't express it and will respect my wishes, I could tell she wants me to have them. However, the Doctor told me it would be a serious strain on my health, being I'm up there in age and I have to take hormone shots and…well, damn...it won't be an easy nine months by a long shot. Especially carrying twins," he smiled.
Tom's eyes beamed at seeing Chakotay glow even at the thought of all the hassle and difficulties bearing the twins would be. "Cha," he began softly.
"I love you and if 'you' decide to do it, I very much would like to be a part of 'our' children's lives," he smiled his heart all aglow.
Chakotay looked at the young man before him and saw him, really saw the strong loving capable man he always knew was there, shining brightly before him and his old soul felt totally loved. "Knowing how you feel makes this easier. Yes, I do want 'our' children," he smiled. "I'm just…I mean, I've thought about fatherhood, but this was never in the plan," he laughed softly. "I don't know how I'm going to handle all this and all my duties?"
"Didn't the Captain tell you?" Tom asked.
"Tell me what?"
"She's put you on restricted duty, she only told the senior staff and we're not to discuss that you have a 'health' problem, though she wouldn't tell us anything."
Chakotay was slightly annoyed, but he knew it was done out of concern for him. "Well, either she was hedging her bet or she knew me better than I did," he smiled, letting Tom know he wasn't too bothered by it. "I…I wasn't sure, you see," he said, looking away from Tom. "I really should have talked to you sooner…but."
Tom took Chakotay's chin in his hands and let dark eyes meet blue. "Yes," he smiled, "You should have, because if this situation was reversed, I 'know' that is what you would have told me. I also know, you would tell me that what has passed is gone, what is…is. I love you, Chakotay and now that I know you love me too, I won't let you down or let you go," Tom said then leaned in and kissed Cha deeply on the lips. When he leaned back, he grinned, "It's coming back. The way you taste, smell…but how about a refresher course anyway?" he teased.
"Well, it's not like I can get pregnant again," the older man teased back.
As the two walked arm in arm to the bedroom, "Cha, I'm kind of glad I got to see behind that wall of yours. To see the love. To see that you need me as much as I do you, that you can be just as vulnerable as I can. To know just how human you are, for I loved you before, your stoic qualities, your self control, but knowing what I know now, I love you even more now," he stated softly kissing his love.
"Well, I'm glad too. Keeping up such barriers usually meant keeping people out and I'm so glad you're in," he replied, gazing deeply into Tom's eyes. "Your wall has come down too, you stopped hiding like I did. You risked your heart to tell me what you felt; you showed the strength I knew was lurking back there. It only goes to show that there is so much more to both of us behind our walls."
Tom smiled broadly. "So, Papa," he teased. "How about we go knock some more walls down, if you think the tots can handle it?"
"I don't see why not? They are part Paris. They'll probably thrive on the chaos of it all…Dad." He grinned ear to ear.
"Hey, I resemble that remark." He kissed back, laying himself and Chakotay onto the bed to make love and start the beginning of a whole new life together...
Continued in Another Brick from the Wall