CPR: The Chakotay/Paris Realm


No Regrets - Part 8
by T'Pam

~^~

*Tom's POV*

Chakotay indicates a chair for me to sit in and I do. My legs feel kind of weak.

Clearing his throat, he sits across from me. "There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just say it. I know that you don't remember what happened in the lift, and the Doctor has led you to believe that you had an... um... embarrassing incident..."

I decide to get it out in the open. Attempting to hide my embarrassment with a careless shrug, I stare at a point behind his head. "If you mean I came in my pants while rubbing up against you and crying in fear... then, yeah, I guess I did." I spoil the effect I'm trying to create by turning bright red.

Chakotay leans forward in his chair, slightly agitated. "No, Tom, that's just it. That isn't what happened. I'm sorry that you've thought that for the past twenty-four hours. I tried to tell you yesterday in your quarters. It wasn't like that."

"It wasn't?" I stare directly at him. He returns my look, his eyes full of concern, worry and... something else.

"Not at all," he answers.

"I don't understand. The Doc said I'd... er... um... well you know, and he should know. So unless there's something wrong with his programming..."

"No... um... you did, but the Doctor didn't scan you. If he had, he would have found two traces of semen."

"What are you saying?" Before the words are out of my mouth I know *exactly* what he's saying. My dream! It wasn't a dream after all! I recognize what the something else is in Chakotay's eyes. Guilt!

"I'm sorry, Tom. I took advantage of you. I didn't realize that you were panicking. You were moving against me and then you buried your face into my neck and well... it's been so long since I've been with anybody. I haven't been that close to a warm body for a long time, Tom. I lost complete control. I honestly thought you wanted it, too. I would never have done something like that, otherwise."

"I see," I say slowly, feeling rather numb.

"I have absolutely no explanation for why I reacted that way," Chakotay continues. "I can't tell you how much I regret it. I've never regretted anything more in my entire life. If you want to have me charged for sexual assault, I'll understand."

I simply shake my head and stand up slowly, pain washing over me. "That won't be necessary," I manage to say. "I obviously led you on. Your reaction was perfectly understandable, under the circumstances."

He frowns at me. "You didn't lead me on, Tom. You were panicking."

"But you didn't know that," I argue, wondering why I feel so upset.

"No... no, I didn't, but I don't want you to think that any of this is your fault."

"You shouldn't blame yourself, either. It was just one of those things."

"I'm so sorry, Tom."

I nod. "Would it be all right if I went back to my quarters now, Commander?" I really need to get away from him.

"Of course. You don't want to go to sickbay?"

"No, I'd just like to be alone for a little while."

"Tom," he starts to say. "I'm sorry. So, so sorry."

I turn around and head out of the door as fast as I can.

The tears are pooling in my eyes before I even reach the turbolift. Chakotay's voice plays back to me. {{I can't tell you how much I regret it. It's been so long since I've been with anybody. Anybody. Any body.}}

So it would have happened no matter who he was with. He was desperate, so desperate that he lost all control.

What does it matter to me if he used my body to relieve some of his sexual frustrations? Why should I care? I'm glad I could be of service.

But it does matter. I do care. I don't know why, but it hurts. It hurts a lot.

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

Tom had looked completely devastated. I'm a monster. A cruel, sadistic, sex deprived monster. The look on his face as he left my office, was one of absolute devastation.

I don't like the way he took my admission. I'd expected him to be angry, but he'd appeared to be shattered. He's blaming himself for what happened. I decide to go after him, just to ensure that he really is all right.

He's standing with his back to me at the turbolift, waiting for it to arrive, and I hurry down the corridor towards him. The lift arrives and the doors open. Harry is standing inside and he looks at Tom and then back to me.

Grabbing Tom by the arm and pulling him inside, Harry glares at me. As the doors close, I hear his voice quite plainly. "What the hell has that bastard done this time?"

I stop cold in front of the turbolift, and it's some time before I realize that the Doctor is trying to contact me. Tuvok must have informed him that I was bringing Tom down there. He's wondering where we are.

After telling the Doctor that Tom's decided to rest in his quarters instead, I make my way back up to the bridge, trying to keep my mind a careful blank.

The Captain looks at me as I sit down beside her. "Is everything all right? How's Tom?"

"He just needs to rest for a while."

She looks at me with concern, but doesn't say anything, and somehow I manage to get on with my work.

~^~

*Tom's POV*

"How many times do I have to tell you, Harry? I was not crying."

Harry snorts and indicates the almost empty tissue box sitting in front of me on the coffee table.

"Okay, I was crying just then, but I was *not* crying yesterday."

"I wish you'd tell me what he did."

"He didn't do anything. It was all my fault. And I wish you'd stop calling him a bastard. I think he heard you."

"So what if he did? He made you cry. Twice."

"Harry!!!! I was not crying yesterday. It was the shampoo. I got shampoo in my eyes."

"Oh! And Chakotay just happened to visit you straight afterwards?"

"No. He was there when it happened. Actually, it's his fault that it happened because he startled me when I was in the shower. He opened the door to the shower stall when I'd just put the shampoo on."

"Huh? What do you mean he opened the door to the shower stall? What'd he do that for?"

"He wanted to talk to me."

"In the shower?" Harry's eyes are huge in his face.

"Well, not specifically in the shower."

"But you would have been completely naked."

"Yeah. That's how I usually shower."

"You know what I mean, Tom. You were... you were... nude... and... and he... What the hell did he think he was doing?"

"I told you. He wanted to talk to me."

"Couldn't it have waited until you got out of the shower?"

"He was worried. He wanted to talk to me about what happened in the lift, and I guess when I didn't answer the door he must have let himself in."

"Okay, I can understand that, but I don't understand why he felt it necessary to barge in on you in the shower. There's no excuse for that."

"He said he thought I might've done something to myself."

"Done something to yourself? Why the hell would he have thought something like that? What am I missing here?"

"Nothing," I say nervously.

Harry eyes me suspiciously. "I don't believe Chakotay thought you'd do something to yourself just because you had a panic attack in that lift with him. He was just using that as an excuse to get an eye full."

"What?" I say in shock.

"I know you think I'm nave, but you're the one being nave at the moment, Tom. As soon as he realized you were in the shower, he must have come up with the idea to pretend that he was worried about you. That way he could take a peek, so to speak."

"Harry, I don't believe you're saying this."

"Think about it. There's a lot of people on the ship that would like to see you in all your naked glory. I think the Commander is one of them."

"People do not want to see me naked," I say firmly.

"Of course they do. Don't take this the wrong way, 'cause I'm not interested in you like that, but you have a great body."

"Harry," I protest.

"Well, it's true," he mumbles, blushing furiously. He clears his throat. "Anyway, I think the Commander wanted a look."

Before I can stop myself, I say bitterly. "He probably wanted to see what he's already had."

Harry's eyes open up wide. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," I say hastily.

His eyes narrow now. "What the hell is going on? You've been bawling your eyes out for the last half an hour and now you go and say something like that. I think you should tell me what you meant."

"I have not been bawling my eyes out for the past half an hour. Don't exaggerate."

"Tom, tell me what you meant."

"I did something stupid. Even more stupid than usual."

"Go on."

"I don't think I can. You'll be shocked."

"I will not be shocked, Tom. Stop treating me like I'm some nave kid. I tell you everything I do. You know every stupid thing I've ever done."

That's true, but I really don't know if Harry will be able to handle it. As much as he likes to pretend otherwise, he really *is* kind of nave.

"Tom, exactly what did you mean by saying that Chakotay probably wanted to see what he'd already had?" The frustration is evident in his voice.

I find myself telling him the whole sordid story. It's a relief to be able to actually tell someone.

Harry's shocked. There's absolute horror on his face as I finish my tale. "That dirty... that dirty..."

He can't finish the thought and I grab his arm. "Don't blame Chakotay. It was my fault. I was rubbing up against him."

"So? If you'd been rubbing up against me do you think I would have just started rubbing back?"

"No," I say, hesitantly.

"That's right. I would have known something was wrong."

"He forgot about my claustrophobia."

"That's no excuse. What are you defending him for? He took advantage of you."

"I wish I hadn't told you now," I mumble. "It's all right, Harry, I can take care of myself."

"I know that, but... geez, Tom, something should be done about this."

"Chakotay feels bad enough as it is. I just want to forget about it."

"But, it's not right, Tom."

"And it's not right to make Chakotay suffer any more than he is already."

Harry shakes his head. "Considering how things are going between the two of you at the moment, I'm guessing that you're not going to tell B'Elanna."

"No. There's no need, anyway. I think we broke up."

"What? You think you broke up? What do you mean, you think you broke up?"

"She told me last night that we were through. I think she meant it. I hurt her feelings."

"Well, go and apologize. You're always fighting."

"I will apologize, but I don't think we'll get back together."

"The two of you are just going through a rough patch."

"It's more than a rough patch, Har. The two of us are over."

"You don't mean that. You'll patch things up."

"Not this time. I don't think I want to."

"Of course you do."

"No, Har. I don't."

"Why not?"

"It's hard to explain. We're just not working. We're not really compatible."

"Since when?"

"Since the start, really."

"I see. And it's taken you over two years to realize it?"

"No, but I wanted it to work and I guess she did too."

"She loves you, you know. And I thought you loved her, too."

"I thought I did, too. It's just really complicated."

"Why?"

I look at him in frustration. "Don't you have to go and get some sleep? You've been up all night."

He shakes his head. "I've finished my night shifts for a while. I'll just have an early night tonight."

"Great," I murmur, sarcastically.

I'm immensely relieved to hear my door chime sound. It's the Doc.

"Commander Tuvok informed me that you'd been taken ill on the bridge and you were supposed to be coming to sickbay. I waited for quite some time until Commander Chakotay informed me you'd decided to rest in your quarters instead of coming to see me."

"I'm all right now, Doc."

"I think that's for me to decide. You may be my medical assistant, but that doesn't mean that you can diagnose yourself. I'm still the Doctor, Mr. Paris, and in the future you'll come to sickbay. I don't appreciate having to make house calls. I'd have come sooner, but I couldn't get away."

"It's really not necessary, Doc. I'm fine... honestly."

The Doc sniffs and pulls out his tricorder. "If you will excuse us, Mr. Kim?"

"Huh?"

"I would like to examine my patient."

"Okay."

"In private, Mr. Kim."

"Oh... yeah... sure."

Harry shuffles to the door, his eyes full of concern. "Come to my quarters when you're finished. Okay?"

"I think I'll have an early night."

"An early night? Tom, it's not even lunch time."

"Oh!"

"Ensign Kim! Leave now. You can arrange your social obligations later."

As soon as he's gone, the Doc turns to me and asks in a surprisingly compassionate tone, "Did Commander Chakotay speak to you? I asked him to come and see you yesterday because I was concerned about your reaction the next time you saw him. Is that what happened on the bridge?"

"No, I just felt a bit sick for a moment. He did come and see me."

"And you've worked through what happened?"

"Yeah. I'll be all right, Doc. Don't worry. I'll get over it."

He pats my arm. "I'm glad to hear it."

No Regrets - Part 9
by T'Pam

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

I can feel eyes boring into the side of my head so I look over towards him, forcing an expression of polite inquiry onto my face. He doesn't turn away, continuing to stare angrily, and I find myself turning away instead.

He knows. Tom must have told him. I shouldn't be surprised. They seem to tell each other everything.

Tom may not blame me for what happened, but Harry certainly does. I can still feel his eyes on me, and I shift uncomfortably in my chair.

I try to concentrate on my work, but Harry's eyes continue to stab at me accusingly. I can see Tom shifting uncomfortably in his chair in front of me. He's obviously aware of what's happening, also.

The Captain suddenly stands up from beside me and steps down to Tom. She places her hand on his shoulder and speaks to him softly. Too soft for me to hear, but I can see him nodding his head.

"Carry on then," she says, giving his shoulder a squeeze, before turning away.

Her glance shifts up to Harry and then back to me. "Commander, there are a couple of reports I'd like to go over with you."

She heads over to her ready room and I get up and follow her.

As soon as the doors close, she turns around to face me. "So, what did you do?" She smiles at me mischievously and sits down at her desk.

"Do?" I stall for time.

"To Harry." She gives a small laugh. "I think everyone on the bridge has noticed the dirty looks he's been giving you. What happened? Did you turn down his request for more night shifts?"

"No," I say carefully. "It's nothing like that. It's personal actually, Captain."

Her smile quickly fades. "Personal? How personal?"

I look everywhere, but at her. "Very."

"I see. Is this going to become a problem, Commander?"

"I hope not."

"Commander, I shouldn't have to tell you, of all people, that personal problems should be kept off the bridge. I think you need to speak to Harry. Or if you prefer, I will."

The last thing I want to do is speak to Harry, but it might be better than if the Captain does. "I'll talk to him. Try to work out our differences."

She nods. "And if that doesn't work, then I'll talk to him."

The first thing I see, when I step back onto the bridge, is Tom. How ironic. If I should be talking to anyone, it should be him.

Harry glares at me immediately.

"Do it now," the Captain hisses to me. "Use my ready room."

With a sigh, I walk over to him. "Ensign Kim, you and I need to have a little talk."

"Yes, Sir," he answers grimly, signaling to his relief. I indicate the Captain's ready room and he marches over there determinedly.

Tom swivels around in his seat, his face a worried frown.

"Mr. Paris," the Captain snaps, clearly fed up. "Eyes front... now."

"Yes, Ma'am," he says, unhappily.

Harry stands stiffly at attention in front of the desk, while I sit down behind it.

I stare at him thoughtfully for a few seconds, wondering where to start. "Harry, you clearly have a problem with me at the moment, so I thought it might be best if we clear the air."

The words are hardly out of my mouth before he says, "Tom told me what happened. What you did."

"I thought as much. I know that the two of you are close, but this is really none of your business. It's between Tom and myself. I've apologized to him and he's accepted my apology. It's for the two of us to work out."

"He's my best friend and..."

"I appreciate that, but he doesn't need you to champion him. He's proven to be more than capable of taking care of himself. The Captain doesn't want our personal problems brought to the bridge. And judging by Tom's face just then, neither does he. If you really care about him, you'll drop the attitude."

"Yes, Sir," he says stiffly.

I dismiss him, but just before he reaches the doors he turns around once more. "With all due respect, Sir, stay away from him. He's kind of confused at the moment, he doesn't need you complicating matters."

"I'm not exactly sure what you're implying here, Harry."

"I've seen the way you look at him. I know how you feel about him."

I clear my throat. "I can assure you, Ensign, that I have no intentions of complicating matters."

"I'm glad to hear it."

He marches out, leaving me completely speechless.

~^~

*Tom's POV*

This is not good. Not good at all. Harry has decided to defend my honor, in a manner of speaking.

Me and my big mouth. I shouldn't have told him what happened. I should have guessed that he'd react that way.

I can just imagine what's happening in that room right now. Harry, so full of righteous indignation.

I should have told him everything. I should have told him how much I enjoyed the whole damn thing. He would have been even more shocked, but at least he wouldn't be blaming Chakotay for everything.

The ready room doors swish open and Harry marches out. I swivel around to look at him, despite the fact that I'm sure the Captain won't be pleased.

He looks back at me, his cheeks flushed, and then makes his way back to his console. I follow him with my eyes, trying to gauge his mood.

The Captain clears her throat, and I look back to her. She's glaring at me and tapping her foot. I can feel myself blushing as I quickly turn around. I can't help wondering why Chakotay hasn't come out yet.

He makes an appearance some time later, but after a short conference with the Captain, leaves the bridge to work in his office.

I resist the urge to turn around and watch him leave.

~^~

Meeting with B'Elanna after shift, I try and make amends for hurting her the way I did. I'd really like us to be friends. She misinterprets my overture and tells me that she's decided to give me one more chance.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this. I didn't like the way things had ended between us, but I didn't really want to continue the relationship, either.

However, I've hurt her enough, so I agree to give it one more try.

We celebrate with a candle-lit dinner and some replicated wine. Spending a relaxed, romantic evening together, I tell myself that I've done the right thing. That B'Elanna and I are meant to be.

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

I watch Tom and B'Elanna as they eat their breakfast. They're tense and silent, occasionally glaring at one another as they chew. I heard through the official grapevine that they'd broken up three days ago. The break-up had lasted for two full days before they'd gotten back together again.

That was only the night before last and already there appears to be cracks forming. I blame myself. Tom is still obviously tormented over the situation between us and is suffering because of it.

B'Elanna's unable to understand what's wrong with him and it's causing a huge strain in their relationship. I'm positive that Tom hasn't told her what happened. I'd be dead now if she knew.

I'd like to put things right between them and assuage some of my guilt at the same time. If I confessed to B'Elanna what I did, it would help her understand Tom's emotional state at the moment.

However, I don't want to die, so I remain silent and racked with remorse, hoping that things will settle between them.

A figure slips into the seat across from me. "Chakotay, you look completely miserable."

I sigh sadly. "I'm all right, Captain."

She pats my hand. "I don't like to interfere, but why don't you try speaking with him again?"

I look up at her, startled. "You know?"

"I guessed. You just confirmed it."

"You're not shocked?"

"No. I was a little surprised, however. I can't really picture the two of you together. I have a hard time picturing you with a man, Chakotay."

"I've always been bi-sexual, Kathryn," I say quietly.

"Well, obviously, so is he. That did come as a bit of a shock."

"I'm not so sure that he is."

"I see." She sounds a little doubtful, however. "No wonder you're so dejected."

"I'm riddled with guilt, Kathryn. I took advantage of him. I told him to press charges, but he refused. He blames himself. He says he led me on, but it wasn't his fault."

Her mouth opens in shock. "What are you saying? You had non-consensual sex with him?"

I hesitate. "No... well... in a way... yes. He didn't really know what he was doing. I thought he wanted it as much as I did, but he wasn't in any fit state to make that decision. My only excuse is that I didn't realize it at the time."

She shakes her head. "Now I *do* see. What has he said about this?"

"I told you. He blames himself. He said it was just one of those things and not to blame myself. Considering the circumstances, that's all I *can* do."

"Oh dear. No wonder there's so much anger there. All those icy glares he sent your way now make sense."

My heart sinks. I hadn't even noticed Tom giving me the evil eye.

"Well, he obviously has a problem with what happened between you, no matter what he says. You really need to sort something out. This hasn't really affected your duties so far, thank goodness, but it has his. His performance is way below par. I had to speak to him three times yesterday. He's distracted and moody."

"You did?" I say in surprise. I don't remember that, but I try to avoid looking at Tom as much as possible these days.

She nods. "As much as I hate to interfere, I think I'll have to step in here. I'll have a talk with him. Get him to tell me what he feels."

"I understand. I should have put myself on report immediately."

She pats my hand once more as she stands up. "I don't think that's necessary. Drunk or not, Harry would never have had sex with you if he didn't have feelings for you."

Harry? HARRY?

I watch her retreating figure dizzily. "Captain..." I croak out, attempting to call her back. She doesn't hear me and continues to weave her way out of the mess hall.

I can feel eyes upon me and I turn my head to find Tom watching me with concern. Our eyes lock and I can feel the flush forming.

Fighting back the panic, I jump up and race after Kathryn.

No Regrets - Part 10
by T'Pam

~^~

*Tom's POV*

I have no idea what just happened between the Captain and Chakotay, but he looks like he's seen a ghost. They'd been talking rather intimately and then she'd left, leaving him pale and shaky.

His gaze locks onto mine for a few seconds and I discover it's impossible to turn away. I can see the flush creeping over his face and I find myself blushing in return. He suddenly jumps up and races away.

I watch him, as he runs out behind the Captain, wondering what's going on. I can't believe that he's still chasing after her. Didn't he get the message a long time ago? She's just not interested in a relationship.

I find the corners of my mouth turning up in disgust. What had he been doing in the lift? Pretending I was her? The thought makes my blood boil and I envision taking his neck between my fingers and squeezing tightly.

The anger drains out of me suddenly and in its place is a hard knot of pain. My eyes burn, and I force myself to push it all away. I don't care. He can go to hell. As quickly as possible.

Vaguely I can hear B'Elanna talking to me. She's saying something about last night, but I can't concentrate on her words. All I can think about is how stupid I was in that lift.

"I'm sorry, Tom. I can be a real Targ at times."

I nod absently and she hesitates before continuing softly. My thoughts drift away immediately as I remember the lift.

I must have known what I was doing. I can't keep telling myself I was out of it and didn't know what the hell was going on. A part of me - a big part - must have wanted it, or it wouldn't have happened.

And that's a shocking thing to admit to myself. What the hell is going on with me? Am I attracted to Chakotay? That's not possible, because... well, because it's not. Anyway, I have B'Elanna.

She's still talking and I force myself to listen. "I think it might be a real problem, because it's just not going away."

I take another sip of my coffee and murmur in agreement. The problems between us aren't going away. This whole business with Chakotay is just making it worse. And I have to stop thinking about Chakotay.

I know things aren't right between B'Elanna and me, but I've never looked at anyone else since I've been with her. It wouldn't have been right.

A stab of guilt pierces through me. Until the lift. I did more than just look. Shit! I have to stop thinking about it.

B'Elanna's curse brings my eyes back to her. "Have you even heard a word I've said?"

"Sure," I answer absently.

"Here I've been apologizing to you for the last five minutes and you can't even be bothered listening to me anymore, can you?"

My thoughts are still with Chakotay. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"

B'Elanna's fork comes crashing down between my splayed fingers. Luckily, I'd been too slow to move. I wince at what might have happened.

"T'ruk-D'h. Gir'nak tovo'sor. Ji'ko to'val."

"Hey!" I yell, cutting off her rather colorful outburst. "What the hell's the matter with you? Are you goddamned crazy?"

"I must have been, to try to make things work with you," she shouts in return.

Everyone in the mess hall has stopped eating and they're all staring at us with wide eyes. "I've had about all I can take," I say furiously, standing up so that I can tower over her.

"*You've* had all you can take?" She stands up too. "I knew I shouldn't have given you another chance."

"I didn't ask you for another chance," I say through gritted teeth. "So guess what? We're through."

Her fist comes up and hits me square in the jaw. The blow sends me crashing backwards into my chair, which topples over. I find myself in an awkward heap on the floor, my jaw thumping and my butt smarting.

There are shocked gasps from all around us, but I have no time to gather my thoughts. A furious whirlwind of energy throws itself on top of me, pounding me mercilessly. Screaming obscenities at me, she knees me in the groin, effectively stopping me from fighting back.

Things go a little hazy and then I realize that we're rolling around, hitting table legs and knocking over chairs as we go. People are screaming and yelling and jumping out of the way, as we continue to thrash our way across the room.

B'Elanna's still shouting curses into my ear and I'm yelling for some limey-livered, yellow-bellied, son of a Denebian slime devil to get the bitch off me. It's absolute pandemonium.

All of a sudden B'Elanna's weight is lifted from me and I'm looking directly into concerned brown eyes. I can hear B'Elanna still struggling in the background.

"Shit, Tom," he says softly. "I take it you told her what happened in the lift."

With that, the blackness descends.

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

I hurry after the Captain, absolutely horrified at the conclusion she's jumped to.

"Captain," I call, as she heads down the corridor. I sprint to catch up.

"Captain... wait."

Finally, she stops and turns around. "Chakotay? What is it?"

She takes in my rather breathless appearance and her eyes turn dark with worry. "What's the matter? What's wrong?"

I take a moment to catch my breath. "You can't speak to Harry. You've got it all wrong."

"What do you mean?"

"Harry and I..." I start to say, but two crewmembers walk up to us and I stop myself abruptly.

They smile and nod in greeting. "Captain. Commander."

"Good morning," Kathryn answers with a smile.

I bite my lip and nod politely. Waiting until I'm positive they're out of earshot, I try again. "You misunderstood, Kathryn. Harry is mad at me, yes, but it's not because we slept together. We..."

There's a giggle behind me and I turn around hastily to see young Naomi Wildman standing there. "Good morning, Captain. Good morning, Commander. You didn't see me sneaking up just then, did you? I've been practicing being stealthy. Seven told me that all good officers needed to know how to move around quietly. Do you think I was quiet enough?"

"You certainly were, young lady," Kathryn says with an indulgent smile. "Now, how about if you go and sneak up on someone else?"

"Okay," the little girl answers with a grin and then skips off.

Kathryn raises her eyebrows at me. "I don't think this is the best place to be having this conversation. We need to go somewhere a little more private."

I nod and start to follow her to the lift.

"CAPTAIN!" a voice screeches behind us and we turn around to see Neelix running towards us. He looks completely flustered and he's wiping his apron over his face repeatedly.

"Captain... Commander! Come quickly. It's terrible. Terrible! Oh my, oh my."

He turns around and races back the way he came and then disappears into the mess hall.

We race along after him and even before the doors open, we can hear screaming and yelling coming from inside the room.

We enter into a madhouse. There's so much noise that you can't hear yourself think. Kathryn says something to me, but I have no idea what. I can see her lips moving, but it's impossible to hear anything.

"What?" I yell in return.

She pushes her way through the crowd and I gamely follow.

My heart sinks as I see Tom and B'Elanna wrestling on the floor, people gathered around them cheering. The noise level quickly drops as more and more people spy the Captain.

B'Elanna is still swearing at the top of her lungs and Tom is yelling about yellow-livered dung beetles or something.

"Get this bitch off me," he cries out distinctly and B'Elanna retaliates with a right hook that leaves me reeling in sympathy.

I'm surprised that Tom's still conscious, as he continues to struggle. I bravely hurl myself into the fray, nodding to some of the interested spectators to give me a hand. We manage to pull B'Elanna away and they hold her back as I kneel beside Tom.

He's a bruised and bloody mess as he stares up into my face.

"Shit, Tom," I say softly as I attempt to help him sit up. "I take it you told her what happened in the lift."

I keep my voice down so that only he will hear. His eyes open wide in horror and then he collapses into my arms. Cradling him against me, I call for an immediate transport to sickbay.

As the beam engulfs us, I see Vorik staring at us thoughtfully.

~^~

"Vorik... Vorik."

Tom mumbles restlessly, continually muttering the young Vulcan's name as the Doctor works on him.

Realistically, I couldn't really expect him to call for me. But still... Vorik? Vorik?

Is that why B'Elanna pummeled him into the ground like that? Not because he'd confessed what happened between us in the lift, but because she'd discovered he'd been playing around with Vorik?

That makes more sense, of course, and anything's possible. If he'd told B'Elanna about us, it's me she would have attacked. And I have heard the young engineer speak of Tom more than once in what could only be termed glowing terms for a Vulcan.

I know I should leave. After all, Tom's injuries are not life threatening. I should go back to the mess hall and help the Captain. I suppose I should find Vorik and reassure him that Tom's all right.

To hear Tom calling for the Vulcan ensign, hurts. I turn away slowly. "I'll be in the mess hall," I tell the Doctor.

"Chakotay... Vorik," Tom calls and I wince. In his delirium, is he getting us confused? Spirits, this hurts. I make my way to the door.

"Mr. Paris... hold still," the Doctor grumbles.

"But Vorik heard," Tom cries out, causing me to turn back quickly. I remember the way Vorik was looking at us as we beamed out now. "Chakotay, stop him. He'll blab."

I go back to the biobed and look down at his agitated features. "What do you mean... he'll blab?"

Tom tosses and turns in frustration, causing the Doctor to sniff and mutter under his breath. "He's the biggest gossip on board," Tom gasps out. "He'll work it out. You have to do something."

"Vorik?" I say, in disbelief. "Gossip?"

The Doctor puts down his regenerator with an impatient sigh. "Yes, Commander. Ensign Vorik. Even I'm aware of the young Ensign's propensity to, as you say, spread the word. You really should get with the program."

I decide to ignore him. "So you and he aren't... together?"

Tom looks at me as if I've lost my mind. Which, of course, I have.

"So you *did* tell B'Elanna what happened?" I ask.

He shakes his head vigorously. "You'd be lying here next to me if I had. I broke up with her. I didn't do it very nicely and she didn't take it very well. And if she's in a bad mood now, imagine how much worse she'll be if Vorik says anything to her."

"I really think I should speak with Lieutenant Torres and explain to her in medical terms what happened," the Doctor says. "In that way I can help diffuse any potential dramas."

"Thanks Doc, but I don't think that will help. Chakotay, you have to stop Vorik."

I nod and run from the room.

~^~

The computer tells me that Vorik is in engineering, so I hurry there as fast as I can. When I enter, all is quiet. Sue Nicoletti appears to be running things. There's no sign of B'Elanna, or more importantly to me at the moment, Vorik.

"Commander," Sue calls out as she sees me. "How's Tom?"

"He'll be fine. Do you know where Vorik is?"

"Vorik? He was here a few minutes ago. I think he wanted to speak with Joe in private. They're in B'Elanna's office."

My heart plummets. There's only one reason why he'd want to speak with Joe. I make my way over to the office.

I can hear Joe hissing angrily. "Just don't say anything to anyone. You got that? B'Elanna's not too fussy who she runs over when she's in a rampage. If she finds out you've been gossiping..."

"Lieutenant, I hasten to assure you, I will not gossip. I was merely asking your opinion on exactly what it was that we inadvertently heard. I am attempting to gather and impart knowledge in a logical endeavor to better understand my fellow comrades."

"And I'm telling you, you're gossiping. And you're wrong. I spoke with Tom the morning after, and he..." he breaks off as he sees me standing in the doorway.

"Don't let me stop you," I growl.

"Commander!" Joe turns bright red, but Vorik just raises his eyebrows a little.

I attempt to stare him down, but I should have known better. He continues to face me, his eyebrows rising higher and higher in inquiry.

I give up. "If you'll excuse us please, Joe, it's time Ensign Vorik and myself had a little talk."

Joe scuttles away and I explain to Vorik just why whatever it was he inadvertently heard is none of his business. I also explain exactly what will happen to him if he logically endeavors to impart or gather any further knowledge of anyone on board the ship.

I'm firmly convinced, as I leave engineering, that I've made my point.

No Regrets - Part 11
by T'Pam

~^~

*Tom's POV*

The Doc lets me go back to my quarters with conditions that I rest. I don't have much choice. I'm still a little stiff and sore. I feel bad about what happened with B'Elanna. I really didn't want to hurt her.

She'd been trying to talk to me and I hadn't been listening. No wonder she became so riled up. We'd had a bit of a confrontation last night and things were still rather uncomfortable between us this morning. We were both on edge and we should've stayed away from each other until we were a little calmer.

She'd let me have my way last night and we'd made slow, gentle, sensuous love. She'd been impatient at first, but determined to grit her teeth and bear it. I know she enjoyed herself in the end, and so did I. Afterwards, however, it hadn't felt right.

We'd lain on my bed together, in that post orgasmic haze that makes sex so much better, and I'd reached across and pulled her against me. All I'd wanted to do was curl around her and go to sleep. Instead, she'd sat up abruptly.

"Kahless, that was good, Tom. We'll have to do gentle more often." She'd yawned loudly. "Not too often, though. All I want to do now is sleep."

"That's kind of what I had in mind."

"Well, you can, of course. Me, I've got work to do."

"Work? What work?"

"There's a slight recalibration to be done on one of the warp nacelles. I want to do it tonight while it's quiet."

"You have got to be kidding." My drowsiness had been completely forgotten as I sat up angrily. "Can't whoever's on duty do that?"

"I suppose so, but you know that I like to oversee these things myself."

"Yeah, do I ever," I'd said bitterly. "I also know it's not necessary."

"Hey, I'm the chief engineer. Ultimately, I'm responsible."

"I'm responsible for the helm too, but I trust the other pilots to do their job. Maybe you should start trusting your fellow engineers."

"I do trust them, but you can't seriously compare your responsibilities with mine." She had climbed off the bed and started to dress.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I'd been doing a slow burn, but she hadn't seemed to notice.

"Just what I said. As chief engineer, I have responsibilities that far outweigh any responsibilities you may have as chief helmsman."

"Oh, really? I'd match how hard you work any day," I'd said furiously.

"I didn't say you didn't work hard. Of course you do. Between your duties in sickbay and at the helm, not to mention all the flight sims and training, you put in as many hours as I do. What are you getting so touchy about?"

"You've just said that I'm not important."

"I didn't say that. You *are* important."

"Just not as important as you."

"I haven't got time for this. I don't know what your problem is..."

"My problem is that we should be lying here, completely sated in one another's arms. We should be blissfully asleep, cuddled against each other. But you never do that. You never want to. There's always some excuse."

"If all you want is something to snuggle up to, then I'll get my pet targ for you."

"You just don't get it. I don't know why I even try."

"I do *not* like sleeping here overnight. If you don't get *that* by now, you never will." With an angry toss of her head she'd stomped towards the door. "Meet me for breakfast. Try not to be late."

"Maybe I won't show up at all," I'd shouted to her retreating back.

"Suit yourself," she'd growled.

And that's exactly what I should have done. Suited myself and not shown up. Now our rather memorable break-up will be the talk of the ship for weeks, possibly months.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about.

Chakotay has assured me that he spoke to Vorik and he's sure that the Vulcan won't be saying anything to anyone. I hope he's right, because I have no intentions of tackling the engineer about the whole thing. What a mess!

I go over to my bed and throw myself down on it. The violent movement causes all sorts of shooting pains to rack my battered and bruised body. I groan loudly and roll over. Closing my eyes, I try to get some sleep.

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

The Captain gives me a rather sour look when I finally make it to the bridge. "How nice of you to join us at last," she says dryly.

I notice out of the corner of my eye Harry, glaring at me angrily. He, of course, blames me for what happened between Tom and B'Elanna.

I sigh and take my seat. "I apologize. There were a few things that needed to be sorted out."

"Really? May I ask what they were?" Her voice is low and edged with anger. "I thought that perhaps you'd stayed in sickbay to help the Doctor with Tom, but the Doctor contacted me some time ago. He said that Tom was released to his quarters and would be fit for duty tomorrow. As for B'Elanna, I've sorted that out, too. She'll be spending the next few days confined to quarters."

She looks at me expectantly and I clear my throat. "It's rather involved, actually."

"That doesn't surprise me." She looks up suddenly at Harry and frowns menacingly. "Do you have something to report, Ensign Kim?"

"No, Ma'am."

"Then I suggest you keep your eyes on the readouts in front of you."

"Yes, Ma'am. Sorry, Ma'am."

Harry sends me one last glare before focusing on his console.

"Captain, can we speak in private?" I ask.

"Not at the moment. I'm furious, Chakotay. You really do *not* want to have a discussion with me right now."

She stands up slowly, her whole body taut with anger. "You have the bridge, Commander. I'll be in my ready room. Unless a whole fleet of battle ships suddenly surrounds us, I do *not* want to be disturbed. Is that clear?"

"Of course, Captain," I say meekly.

She practically storms off the bridge.

~^~

*Tom's POV*

The Captain comes to see me and I find myself shrinking at the blazing fury in her eyes. She lectures me for some time about conduct unbecoming a senior officer and how B'Elanna and I are supposed to set an example for the rest of the crew. Two senior officers physically fighting in public is not an impression she wants the rest of the crew to witness.

To try and point out that I wasn't fighting, merely trying to protect myself, would fall on deaf ears at the moment. I say, "Yes, Ma'am. I'm sorry, Captain," whenever she pauses to breathe instead.

Finally, her tirade ceases and her eyes soften a little.

"This was one of the main reasons I was worried when the two of you became involved. I really can't tolerate this sort of behavior, Tom. What happened in the mess hall is completely unacceptable, under any circumstances. Not only does it cause dissention in the crew, but it also places me in a very awkward position. I now have to punish the two of you because of a situation in your personal lives."

"You're right, of course, Captain. It should never have happened."

"B'Elanna has been confined to quarters for the next few days and has had her replicator privileges revoked for the rest of the month. Although you're not confined to quarters, I think it's only fair if the replicator is off line to you as well."

I nod, thankful that I wasn't confined to quarters too. She pats my arm and sighs. "I don't know if the two of you can patch this up or not, but whatever happens, I advise you to seek help from the Doctor. I'm sure your problem can be successfully treated."

My problem? Of course. The Captain is referring to my claustrophobia. I was supposed to have regressive hypnotherapy with the Doc. What with everything else, I hadn't had a chance to have it done.

"Yes, Captain. I'm sure you're right."

She smiles and then says rather cryptically. "I don't know what's happening around here. My senior staff seems to be coming apart." As she leaves, I hear her mumble, "All I need now is for Tuvok to start his pon farr."

I have absolutely no idea what that has to do with anything.

~^~

I stay moping in my quarters until my hunger drives me out. I'm starving, and although I really don't want to go back to the mess hall, I find I have no choice. I wait until I'm sure everyone's left and then make my way there.

Neelix greets me as if I've been gone for six months instead of six hours. After I manage to disentangle myself from his overly enthusiastic hug, I ask him if there's anything left to eat.

He beams at me and bustles back over to his galley. "There's quite a bit of casserole left over. Let me get you a bowl."

I follow him and watch as he takes the lid off of a gigantic pot. The odour that immediately assails me is so disgusting that I almost gag. "What the hell is that?"

"Oh, please don't let the smell put you off. It really tastes very nice. It might be best if you hold your nose while you eat, of course, but it's really quite delicious."

"I am *not* eating that," I say flatly.

Neelix hastily puts the lid back on the pot, looking a little green around the gills, himself. "There's some Tortallion mince pie left from last night," he suggests.

"Is that the pie that looks like it's full of...?"

Neelix hurriedly cuts me off. "I know it looks a little... um... unusual, but it's very nutritious."

"You eat it then, because I never will."

"Well, Tom, if you're going to be fussy, I suggest you use the replicators."

"I can't. The Captain's restricted my rations for the rest of the month."

"I see. Well, there's always the bowl of fruit. Help yourself."

With a heavy sigh, I take out what looks like a pear. Biting into it, I shudder. It tastes like a peach combined with a very sour lemon. Spitting it out, I curse. "Damn it, Neelix, haven't you got anything normal around here?"

"Those little green things apparently taste like something on your world called a cherry. They're very popular, actually. That's why there's hardly any left."

I pop one into my mouth. Neelix is right. They're delicious. There's only one problem. I'll need about fifty of them to fill me up and picking through the bowl I can only find five.

I stand there feeling completely sorry for myself and Neelix caves in. "There's some biscuits back here and some of that tomato salsa dip you like so much."

"Thanks, Neelix," I say in relief.

He starts to rummage through cupboards, muttering to himself about where he put the dip. I prowl around the galley, trying to take my mind off of just how hungry I am.

I notice a small saucepan on the hotplate next to the huge pot of stinky casserole. Taking the lid off very carefully, I sniff suspiciously. The aroma is absolutely mouth watering. It appears to be some sort of stew and my eyes narrow as I peer back at Neelix, whose head is buried in a cupboard. Why didn't he tell me about this?

"What's in this saucepan?" I ask.

He pulls his head out of the cupboard to glance over at me. His chef's hat is on sideways and he's very red in the face. "I don't think I can find that dip. What did you say, Tom?"

"What's this?" I say, pointing down at the stew.

"Oh. That's for you, actually."

"Well, why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"It's not ready yet. It still needs to simmer for another hour and then I need to thicken it."

It looks thick enough for me and it smells ready enough, too.

"I was going to bring it to you later."

He pokes his head back into the cupboard and practically crawls inside in his hunt for the missing dip. I pick up a spoon and cautiously taste the stew. It tastes as good as it smells and I grab a bowl.

"Don't worry about the dip, Neelix," I call to him between mouthfuls. "I'd rather have this. You were wrong. This stew is perfect just the way it is."

He looks completely flustered as he backs out of the cupboard and turns to look at me. "Stew? What stew? OH MY!!!!"

With a look of absolute horror, he races towards me and knocks the bowl and spoon from my hands.

No Regrets - Part 12
by T'Pam

~^~

*Tom's POV*

I look at Neelix in shock as he stares at me with horror.

"How much of that did you eat?"

I glance down at the mess on the floor. "Not much. Why?"

"Oh, dear. Oh, dear." He wrings his hands in dismay. "It's not supposed to be ingested. It's for external use only."

He takes my arms and leads me over to sit down. "How do you feel? Do you feel like vomiting? I fully understand if you do. In fact, it might be best if you did. Actually, I'm sure it would be. Yes, indeed."

"Neelix," I protest faintly, as he tries to push my head down between my knees. Struggling to sit up, I gasp out, "Why isn't it supposed to be ingested? What the hell have I just eaten?"

"It's a special remedy that we Talaxians use in times of trouble. It never fails. I thought it might help you. Once it's thickened and cooled down, it forms a type of ointment."

"Ointment? You're telling me that I've just eaten ointment?"

"I'm sorry, Tom. But you weren't supposed to eat it."

"What's in it? Is it poisonous?"

"I don't think so. It has a lot of herbs and spices and... um... some other things."

"What sort of other things?" I'm starting to feel rather queasy now.

"Just... things. Things that you're not supposed to digest. I think I should take you to sickbay. It's probably nothing, but just in case."

He practically hauls me to my feet and pulls me out of the door. Picking up speed, we run all the way.

~^~

The Doc turns around in surprise as we burst through the doors.

"Doctor, come quickly. It's Tom," Neelix pants out.

Doc rolls his eyes. "Again? What is it this time?"

"He poisoned me," I manage to say.

"That's a rather common occurrence. There's no need to panic."

"No, Doc. He really did poison me."

Neelix leads me to a biobed as Doc grabs a tricorder. "Hmmm! There are some rather unusual traces in your digestive system."

"That's because he ate my ointment."

"I see. I won't even ask why. In all my years as a medical program I have never seen anything as disgusting as these readings. Mr. Neelix, you should be ashamed of yourself."

"But, it's not meant to be eaten. I've never known anyone to eat it before. It's unthinkable."

"I agree."

I grab the tricorder from the Doc's hand before he can stop me. I want to find out exactly what it is that's in my digestive system. He shoves a bowl into my face, just in time, as Neelix continues to moan that I wasn't supposed to eat it.

Finally, I stop heaving and Doc takes the bowl away and hands me a glass of iced water instead. I sip it slowly, glaring over the rim of my glass at Neelix, who's wringing his hands in despair.

The Doc runs a tricorder over me once more. "All traces are gone."

I sigh in relief and then resume my attempt to turn Neelix into a pile of smoky ashes with just one look.

Doc clears his throat. "Just what exactly was this vile concoction supposed to be for?"

"I was trying to help. I heard about Tom's problem and the cream always works for Talaxians."

"Which problem would that be?"

"His... er... this is rather embarrassing, Doctor. His problem down there."

"Down where?"

I can feel my mouth dropping open in astonishment as Neelix continues. "You know, Doctor. Tom's been having erection difficulties."

"Erection difficulties?"

It's the Doc's voice, but I'm mouthing the words, too. No sound is coming from my mouth, however.

"Tom's been having trouble becoming aroused and then when he does, he isn't able to maintain his erection."

"What?" I somehow croak.

"It's all right, Tom. No need to get upset. It happens to all of us. That's why I find the cream so beneficial."

I shake my head. This is not happening. This is *definitely* not happening.

Doc turns to me. I open and shut my mouth, but find it impossible to speak. "Mr. Paris, if you were having difficulties, you should have come to me. You should not have tried Mr. Neelix's rather ridiculous home remedy."

"Doctor, I can assure you, it's not ridiculous. It works every time. But, as I keep saying, you're supposed to rub it on your groin, not eat it."

The Doc and Neelix continue to argue about home remedies and I struggle to find my voice.

"Where the hell did you get an idea like that from?" I suddenly yell.

Neelix stops his assurances to the Doc to turn back to me. "Why, from B'Elanna, of course."

"B'Elanna?"

"Why, yes. She told the Captain this morning in the mess hall. Unfortunately, she was still rather upset and her voice carried. I couldn't help overhearing."

"She told the Captain...?" I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

"Um... yes."

"She told the Captain...!"

"Please don't be upset, Tom. She didn't mean for anyone else to hear. It's just that I was quite close to the two of them at the time."

"Was anyone else quite close to them at the time?" A red haze is starting to form behind my eyes.

"No," Neelix says hastily. "Quite a few people offered to stay back and help me clean up the mess hall. I've never had so many volunteers before. It was really very nice and thoughtful of them. But the Captain told them all to leave."

"What, exactly, did you hear B'Elanna say?"

"Well, I can't remember exactly, Tom. The Captain asked her just what the hell she thought she was doing and she said that you were a... Well, it probably doesn't matter what she called you. The meaning was clear."

"Tell me what she called me, Neelix."

"I can't. Some of it was in Klingon."

He swallows nervously at the look I'm giving him. "She said you were a something, something, impotent something. She said that you couldn't get it up and if you did, you couldn't keep it up. We didn't hear what she said after that."

I can't believe B'Elanna told the Captain that. How am I ever going to face her again? No wonder she told me to seek help from the Doc for my 'problem'. And it's not even true. Damn it all, anyway.

Damn B'Elanna and her temper and her uncontrollable outbursts. I don't know why... 'we'? Did Neelix say... 'we'?

The Doc's begun his lecture once more about home remedies, but I interrupt anxiously. "We? Neelix, you said 'we didn't hear'. Who else was there? I thought the Captain made everyone leave."

"That's right, she did. There was just me and my rostered assistant left there."

"Your rostered assistant?"

"Yes. I'm very sorry, Tom, I think he heard. He was way over the other side of the room, but he has very good hearing. I made him leave immediately."

I know the answer before I ask the question. "Who's your rostered assistant today?"

"Um... Ensign Vorik."

I climb off the bed very slowly and deliberately. "I'll kill her," I say determinedly.

~^~

A huge body blocks my entrance into B'Elanna's quarters. "I'm sorry, Tom, but Lieutenant Torres is restricted to quarters. She's not allowed visitors."

It's Greg Ayala and the pity in his eyes shines clearly.

"I don't intend to visit," I answer grimly. "All I want to do is strangle her and then I'll leave."

"I can't allow that either, Tom."

"Damn it, Greg. All I want is a few minutes. It won't take any longer."

He shakes his head. "I doubt very much that it will take only a few minutes to strangle her. If you're even able to subdue her, I'll be highly surprised. She's a little... volatile at the moment."

A resounding crash from inside B'Elanna's quarters reinforces the statement.

"Shit! Then be a pal and lend me your phaser."

Greg sighs and grabbing my shoulders, spins me around. "Go back to your quarters and calm down."

"I'll never be calm again," I say, pulling away and turning to face him once more.

"I know you're upset and I don't blame you. I wouldn't like the ship to know that I was impotent either."

"I am not impotent," I scream.

"There's no need to get hysterical here, Tom. All guys have that problem at times. Not that I have, of course, but I think I have some relevant texts somewhere. I can lend them to you if you like."

Taking a deep breath, I lunge for the door, trying to push him out of the way at the same time. He grabs my arms and pins them behind my back, slamming me into the wall, face forward. "I really wish you'd been sensible about this, Tom."

I hear him tap his commbadge. "Ayala to Tuvok. I have a situation down here, Commander."

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

As soon as Ayala reports that Tom is causing a disturbance outside B'Elanna's quarters, I tell Tuvok that I'll handle it. Leaving him in charge of the bridge, I hurry there as fast as I can.

I find a very subdued Tom Paris, sitting dejectedly against the wall in the corridor. Ayala is standing over him.

"Commander," Greg greets me in surprise.

"I'll take care of this," I tell him.

He nods and moves away, standing at attention in front of B'Elanna's doors once more.

I help Tom to his feet and then drag him back down the corridor to the lift. He doesn't say anything, merely keeping his eyes on the floor the whole time.

As soon as we're inside his quarters, he pulls his arm from my grasp and starts pacing furiously.

"What were you trying to achieve, Tom?"

"Instantaneous death. For her."

I shake my head. "I know you're upset that she attacked you in the mess hall."

"No, I'm not. I guess I deserved it. After all, I did technically cheat on her."

"Tom, that was not..."

"Don't say it," he cuts me off. "I do *not* want to hear how it wasn't my fault and that you're totally to blame. I was there too... remember?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"DON'T!"

"I was merely going to say..."

"Shut up! I deserve every damn bruise on my body for what I did to her. B'Elanna might not know exactly what it is that I did do, but she still had every right to be upset with me."

"Tom..."

"Stow it, Chakotay."

"What the hell are you so riled up about then?"

"She told everyone that I can't get it up."

"What?"

"Apparently she was talking to the Captain, but her voice carried. Neelix and his goddamned assistant heard it clearly. Now, I'll let you guess who his assistant was, shall I?"

"Oh, no. But I've spoken to Vorik. Made it quite clear to him about what will happen if he gossips."

"Well, it obviously didn't work. It took about two minutes for this latest juicy bit of gossip to spread through the ship."

"I'll talk to him again."

"It's too late for that. I told you, it's already spread. Everybody thinks I'm... you know."

"Spirits, Tom, I'm sorry. This is all my fault. It's because of what happened between us."

"Don't start, Chakotay. Just don't... fucking... start."

"But this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't..."

"Chakotay! Don't!"

I ignore him. "What I did to you has obviously affected your libido."

Tom starts swearing at me in Klingon and Romulan and a few other languages as well. When he finally runs down, I'm left with the impression that Tom's erection difficulties are not true. It's all a lie.

"I don't understand. Why would B'Elanna lie about something like that?"

"To hurt me, of course."

"I wouldn't have thought so. I know she has a terrible temper and often says things she shouldn't, but she's never deliberately malicious."

All of Tom's energy seems to dissolve and he sinks down onto the couch. "I don't know, Chakotay. I guess things haven't been quite right between us."

He holds up his hand as I open my mouth to speak. "Don't say it. It was happening a long time before what we did in the lift. But it was nothing like what B'Elanna said. I just don't know where any of that's coming from."

He looks thoroughly miserable and I fight the urge to hug him. I do sit down on the couch next to him, however, and pat his knee. "Perhaps B'Elanna blew this all out of proportion. You know what her temper's like."

He nods. "I know. We're always arguing. I hate fighting all the time. Everything's wrong between us and we really should have talked about it a long time ago."

He closes his eyes and rests his head back. "Today's been too much, Chakotay." His voice wobbles a little. "I've been half pummeled to death, lectured at by the Captain, eaten shit and now I find out my sex life is the talk of the ship. I just can't take any more."

Eaten shit?

I'd like to ask him about that, but I can see a tear slowly trickling down his cheek. He wipes it away furiously and stands up abruptly. "I think I'll go and have a shower."

His voice is a little choked as he hurries away, and I sit there wondering if I should leave.

He looks back at me and flushes as he enters the bathroom, saying quietly as the doors close, "Computer, privacy lock."

Pain washes through me. He doesn't trust me. He thinks I may go barging in there like I did last time. Who can blame him? It hurts, anyway. Tom doesn't trust me.

I decide to wait, to see if he's all right. I tell myself that my decision has nothing to do with my lustful hopes that I may see that beautiful body once more.

It's quite some time before he reemerges from the bathroom, toweling his hair dry. He's wearing a short navy robe, belted at the waist, revealing his still damp chest and long, muscular legs.

I swallow and force my eyes to focus on his face. He looks startled to see me still sitting there. "I thought you would have left."

"I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

"I guess so. At least, I will be."

I smile and stand up making my way to the door. "I'll see you later, Tom."

"Thanks, Chakotay."

The doors swish open before I reach them and Harry bursts in. He takes one look at me and his eyes narrow suspiciously. They dart to Tom and then back to me again.

I sigh impatiently at the self-righteous anger written all over Harry's face. "Don't worry, I was just leaving," I say stiffly.

"Good," he mutters.

"Harry!"

I turn back to Tom, who's sending Harry a scowl.

"It's all right, Tom. I think Harry and I are going to have to have a little talk, very soon."

I send Harry a pointed look. I try to convey, without words, exactly what I've begun to suspect.

Harry has the grace to flush. My message must have been received and understood. He looks down at the floor and I smile once more at Tom, before pushing past Harry and leaving the room.

No Regrets: Part Three

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