No Regrets - Part 34|
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
I yank my arm away as the lift door closes on Tom's retreating figure, and glare at Ayala angrily. "Harry isn't in his quarters and you know it."
"I know; he's with the Captain. I heard her tell him she wanted a private word. She seemed rather angry. I hope it hasn't got anything to do with all of this?"
"Yeah, it has. We thought Harry was cheating on Tom with you."
"Shit, Chak. I know the two of you are our commanding officers, but aren't you and the Captain becoming a little too involved in the crew's personal lives?"
"No," I say stiffly. "We're trying to keep the ship running smoothly."
"Well, let me put it another way. Surely, after all these years, you know me well enough to know I would never step on another guy's turf."
"I assumed you didn't know about Tom. After all, it only happened last night."
"I suppose that makes sense. But I still say you're too involved. I know the Captain's always had a soft spot for Tom, but it's *your* attitude that doesn't make sense."
He studies me closely for a few seconds and I'm relieved when the lift stops and we step out. I head across the bridge towards the ready room doors, but Ayala grabs my arm.
"You and Tom *did* have it off in that Alsorian lift, didn't you?" he hisses quietly.
"Shut up!" I hiss in return, worried somebody might hear. The bridge crew are looking at us strangely. Grabbing *his* arm, I drag him across to the briefing room and hustle him inside.
"Spirits, Greg. Why don't you announce it over the comm system?"
"Nobody heard. So it's true. You did."
"It's none of your business."
"Whether Tom was panicking or not, you would never have done something like that unless you had feelings for him. I know you well enough to know that. Have you told him how you feel?"
"Greg, I really don't want to discuss this."
"I take it that means no."
"I thought he was in love with Harry. I'm still wondering... Just because Tom said to you that he's not..."
"They're not in love," Greg says firmly. "And it seems to me that you really need to talk to Tom."
"Doesn't it bother you that they had sex last night?"
"No. Just so long as they don't do it again. And I honestly don't think they will, no matter what you think of Harry. I see it *does* bother you."
"Of course it does. If Tom doesn't love Harry, then why did it happen?"
"I don't know the full story, and what I do know I can't tell you. As I said, you should talk to Tom. And that reminds me. It won't take long for Tom to find out where Harry is and I have to warn him."
He hurries back out, just as Kathryn and Harry emerge from the ready room. They look at us in surprise.
"Commander, I thought you were in your quarters," Kathryn says, a definite warning in her voice. She reaches out and grabs my arm, propelling me into the ready room. "We have to talk."
She's a lot stronger than she looks and I find myself practically thrown onto the couch. "Sit!" she barks.
For one wild moment I wonder if the Commander is going to hit me right there on the bridge in front of the whole crew. Okay, so it's the night shift and there are only four crewmembers on duty, but it will still be rather embarrassing.
His eyes glitter at me angrily, his fists clench and unclench at his sides, and he steps towards me menacingly. The Captain grabs his arm and they disappear into the ready room. I breathe a sigh of relief.
"Harry, can we go somewhere? I have something to tell you," Greg says quietly.
I nod, feeling a little worried. I don't like the serious look on Greg's face. Has Chakotay said something to him? But, I'd told him what I'd done. I'd told him everything, and he'd asked me out after that anyway.
Greg steers me to the turbolift and we step inside. "Do you want to come back to my quarters?" I ask a little nervously.
"Okay, but I have to warn you, Tom's looking for you. We've probably just missed him."
"Tom? Why do you need to warn me about that?"
"Because I thought he knew everything you'd done. I thought you'd confessed all to him, but you didn't."
"I... I didn't know how to. I... I was hoping I'd never have to."
"Well, unfortunately, you're going to have to. He knows you kept people away from him those first few years and he wants to know everything else now, too."
"What happened?" I ask, feeling rather sick.
The lift reaches my deck and we head down the corridor while Greg fills me in.
"How do I explain this to Tom?" I wail as we enter my quarters. "He's going to hate me."
"I'll hate you if you *don't* tell me," a voice says from behind me and I turn around to see Tom standing there. "I've been waiting for you."
"Tom!" My voice is a squeak.
Greg steps in front of me. "He's done some rotten stuff, Tom, but he did it out of love."
"Oh, that makes it all right then," Tom drawls sarcastically.
"No, it doesn't make it all right, but I just want you to remember that before you decide to hit him."
"I'm not going to hit him."
"You might change your mind once he's told you everything." Greg squeezes my arm and then walks to the door. "Don't mess him up too much," he says before leaving. "We have a date for tomorrow night and I'd prefer it if he can still walk."
"I'll try to remember that," Tom says, never taking his eyes from me.
"Do you want a drink?" I ask hurrying over to the replicator.
"No, Harry, I do not want a drink."
"Do you mind if I do? I've had a rather intense session with the Captain and think I need it." I turn away from his angry expression and watch my drink appear instead.
"What exactly did you say to people?" he asks abruptly and I swallow nervously.
"Nothing much," I mumble. "I just... well... you know... reminded them of things and stuff like that."
I quickly sip my drink, stalling for time. "I just said a few things to people if they seemed too interested."
I take a deep breath. "A few months after we were first stranded Ensign Parker asked me if you liked sailing because she was thinking of asking you out, and I told her you did."
"Ensign Parker never asked me out."
I close my eyes and wince a little. "That's because I also added that you had a particular program you liked that you asked all your dates to," I tell him in a low voice.
"And she asked me how many dates you'd had."
Tom stares at me waiting for me to continue. I gulp and summon my courage. "And I said a different girl almost every night."
"Harry, that was a damn lie and you know it," he says harshly. "I had about three whole dates the first year we were out here. How the hell can you call that 'reminding' people of things?"
"I'm sorry, you're right, that wasn't," I admit quickly. Tom's face is flushed a dark and angry red. "But I reminded Neelix that you were a bit of flirt so he should keep an eye on Kes when she was with you."
"Harry! How could you do that?"
"It was true," I defend. "You *were* a flirt and you *did* flirt with Kes. And when Petra Hynes told me she thought you were interested in her, I reminded her that you flirted like that with everyone and not to take any notice."
"Damn you, Harry!"
Blinking back tears at the furious look on his face I continue with my confession. "I had to do that with a lot of people."
"Had to?" he yells. "*Had* to?"
"At the time I thought I did," I try to explain.
"I see. What about Sue Nicoletti? I chased her for months."
"I told her you just wanted a one night stand."
"But, it was true. You did. That was back in the days when that's all you wanted. Before you grew up."
"Greg was right. I *have* changed my mind. I *do* want to hit you."
"I don't blame you. I deserve it," I say miserably.
"Damn right you deserve it." He steps towards me and I close my eyes and cringe, waiting for the inevitable.
I watch Harry waiting expectantly for me to slug him and sigh in resignation. I just can't do it.
"You'd better tell me what else you've done," I say instead.
He opens one eye and squints at me nervously. "Aren't you going to hit me?"
"I've decided to wait until you've finished your confession."
He opens his other eye. "Are you sure you want to hear the rest of this?"
"It's not very nice." His voice wobbles a little, but I harden my heart. He can bawl his eyes out if he wants to, I won't let his tears sway me. Never again! Although, to be fair, he appears to be battling to keep them in check.
"I want to know everything," I hiss. "Why didn't you stop B'Elanna from starting anything with me?"
"I tried to, but she wouldn't listen to me. Every time I reminded her that she thought you were a pig, she'd agree with me. And when I told her I was worried the two of you weren't compatible she said I was probably right."
"I knew about that. She told me. We thought you were worried about us hurting each other."
"My motives weren't so pure."
"So it seems."
He stares at me quietly for a few moments. "I did something rather terrible, Tom."
"No, I don't mean what I've just told you, there's more."
"I guessed there would be."
"This is worse than all that other stuff."
"Really?" A feeling of dread creeps over me as he nods his head up and down vigorously. "Worse than telling Sue all I wanted was a one night stand?"
This could be bad. I think I'm just about prepared for anything now. Taking a deep breath and sitting down on the couch, I say as casually as possible. "Okay, I'm ready. Tell me."
I listen in disbelief as Harry explains that he was behind Seven's study into human mating rituals and then changed the Doc's subroutines so that he would fall in love with her.
Harry did that? Harry? "That was rather... devious," I say, my voice pitched a little higher than I intended. "Rather sneaky."
"I'm so sorry, Tom. I know this must be a shock to you. You didn't think I was capable of any of this."
"I'll be honest with you, Har. You *have* shocked me a little."
"Maybe I better tell you about my list."
"I had to start a list, you see. After the Jonas incident you were the hero of the ship and I couldn't keep track of everyone anymore. There were people all over the place giving you the once over. Everywhere I turned there was someone looking at you, a certain gleam in their eye."
"A certain gleam in their eye? Harry, you've *got* to be kidding."
"No. It's true. I couldn't sleep at night, I was so worried. That's when I came up with the idea for the list. I thought I'd categorize everyone in order of potential. How you reacted to them, how the two of you looked together, how they counter-reacted to your reaction... things like that."
"Harry, you're scaring me here," I say, shaking my head and staring at Harry in disbelief. "A list? You made a list?"
Tom doesn't look as appalled as I thought he would. It's a little hard to gauge how he feels really. He's keeping his face carefully blank as I admit everything.
I'd expected him to be horrified, disgusted at my revelations, but other than a slightly surprised glint in his eye, he betrays nothing.
I tell him about my 'list' and he makes a strange choking noise as I explain why I had the Captain at the top of it. However, when I tell him why I added Tuvok he falls sideways on the couch, his shoulders shaking heavily.
"Tom?" I race over to him in concern.
"Oh, Harry," he says between loud gales of laughter. "How can I stay mad at you? A list?"
"Tom, it isn't funny," I say indignantly. "My list was very important to me. I needed it. I told you."
"You needed *something*, that's for sure. I think I would have noticed if there were a whole line of people attracted to me," he says, sitting up.
"But... there were."
He flushes with embarrassment. "I'm sure there weren't. And, anyway... Tuvok?" He chuckles once more.
"Maybe that one was a little bit of a stretch, but I was right about everyone else."
"No, Harry, you weren't. Seven was not interested in me."
"Yes, she was. I saw the way she watched you sometimes. She even smiled at you."
"She appreciated my offer of friendship, that's all."
"Tom, you can be so blind sometimes. It was a lot more than that. She was always standing directly in front of you, almost but not quite brushing her... her... bosoms against you."
"Her bosoms?" He chokes with laughter again. "Harry, she did not. I would have noticed *that* no matter how committed to B'Elanna I was trying to be."
"I know what I saw. And what about that blue suit?"
"What about the blue suit?"
"She started wearing that the day after you mentioned blue was one of your favorite colors."
"I don't remember that."
"Well, I do."
He shakes his head. "Harry, I'm absolutely positive you were wrong about Seven. She has never shown the slightest interest in me. Who else was on this list of yours?"
"Lots of people, but most of them were only category three. I had to move some of them to category two, of course."
"Of course," he agrees solemnly.
I flush and hasten to explain. "Category three were people that I'd caught looking at you with more than the usual amount of interest and that I'd seen you flirting with in return. I only moved them to category two if something else happened. Like the time Chell dropped all those data padds in front of you and let you pick them all up for him.
"He actually winked at me and whispered that he was enjoying watching the way the fabric of your pants rippled across the contours of the best male ass on board the ship."
"Chell said that?" he asks in shock.
"Now do you understand why I had to have my list? There were so many people who did things like that, it was impossible to keep track of them all."
Tom shakes his head and chuckles once more. "Harry, even if Chell did say that, you know what a tease he is. It doesn't mean he was interested in me. I think you were seeing things that weren't there."
"I... well... maybe. I suppose I *did* get a little carried away, didn't I?"
"I'd say so. And the whole business of putting the Captain at the top of the list. What were you thinking? The Captain... of all people?"
"I wasn't wrong about that one," I say seriously. "That's exactly where she should have been. She's still totally in love with you, even now."
"Harry! Don't joke about things like that."
"I'm not. She *is* in love with you. I'm convinced of it."
"Harry! Don't say that. She's the Captain. She can't be in love with me."
"Why not? She's flesh and blood, the same as the rest of us. She has feelings, just like the rest of us."
"I know that, but... I *really* don't want her to be in love with me." He frowns worriedly.
"Don't worry, Tom. I'm sure she won't do anything about it. I think she'll always just love you from afar; her one goal in life, to see you happy."
"Well, that makes me feel a hell of a lot better," he says sarcastically. I'm starting to think I should have kept my suspicions to myself. Now he's going to be uncomfortable around her.
"I guess you're not very happy with me at the moment."
"You could say that, Har. Oh yeah, you could say that."
"Are you still going to hit me?"
"I should, but I don't have the energy."
I sigh in relief and sit down next to him. "Is this going to change things between us?"
"It's certainly made me reassess my ideas about you, but if we can get through what we did last night without it changing anything, I don't think this will."
I nod my head starting to smile, but Tom's sudden frown, freezes my face. "And that reminds me, thanks a lot for telling Greg we had 'rather ordinary' sex last night."
"Oh! I don't think I said it quite like that."
"Why'd you tell him at all? There I was just finishing telling Chakotay that we humped our brains out all night, having the best sex of our lives, and along comes Ayala and says, 'Harry told me it was rather ordinary.' Do you have any idea how that made me feel?"
"I'm sorry, but he wanted to know about us and I felt I owed it to him to tell him the truth. You can trust Greg not to say anything to anyone else. You shouldn't have said that to Chakotay anyway."
"I couldn't help it. He was feeling sorry for me. He thought you were cheating on me the very first night we were officially together and it was all his fault for pushing me onto you. I couldn't bear his pity."
"He told you that?"
"He started to, but I could guess the rest."
"You must have hurt him terribly when you said that. He's in love with you."
"Shit, Harry! Who else do you think is in love with me?"
"No one, but I know Chakotay is. I just know it."
"He is *not* in love with me. He rejected me, remember?"
"I don't know why he did that, but I think it has something to do with him truly believing you were in love with me."
"I told him I wasn't. He refused to believe me. I told him I was in love with him and he argued that I didn't even like him, so how could I love him?"
"You know how stubborn he can be. I don't know why he was so determined not to admit how he feels."
"Harry, you're wrong. He doesn't care."
"No. He does. I know he does. He has for a long time. I even had to put him on the list. I caught him staring at you so often it made me suspicious. He was the main reason I tried to keep you and B'Elanna together. I didn't think he'd make a play for you while you were still with her."
"What? When was this?"
"I'm not sure exactly, but a long time ago. Just after I played around with the Doc's matrix I think."
"But... that was months ago," Tom protests.
"But... but that means Chakotay... no... you must be wrong."
"Tom, I'm not wrong. He may not have been in love with you when I first noticed the way he was looking at you, but he was definitely attracted to you. He has been for months."
"Then why did he let me think...?" He stands up abruptly, his eyes blazing with anger. "He let me think he was so desperate for sex he'd do it with anybody... even me."
This isn't the reaction I was hoping for from Tom. I watch anxiously as he paces angrily around the room. I think I've just made matters worse.
No Regrets - Part 35
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
Tom's face is completely red as he walks from one end of my quarters to the other. I wish I hadn't told him how Chakotay feels. I didn't really think about how his actions would appear to Tom.
"I know Chakotay's acted like an ass, but I honestly think he was trying to do the right thing," I say quietly.
Tom stops his pacing and glares at me furiously. "All this time I've thought..." His voice breaks. "Why didn't he tell me he was attracted to me, instead of letting me think I was just a convenient body?"
"I'm only guessing here, but I think he thought he'd be coming between B'Elanna and you if he let you know how he felt."
"He's had plenty of time since then, Harry. And last night he pushed me away. He..."
"I think he was trying to be honorable, Tom. He thought you were really in love with me and..."
"Last night he humiliated me, Harry. Completely."
"I'm sure he didn't mean to do that. He thought he was doing the right thing."
"The right thing was to treat me like a totally pathetic imbecile? To strip me of any last vestige of pride? To make me feel like I'm so fucking stupid that I don't know my own mind?"
"Of course not. I wish you'd try to understand."
"I *do* understand and that's the problem. Chakotay's sense of honor has always been the problem. It's more important than anything. Do you know what happened last night when I came to my senses and it dawned on me what I was doing with him? I realized I was willing to do anything for him... anything. Do you understand, Harry?"
I nod. Who better than me to understand that? And hadn't I always fantasized that Tom would love me so much that he'd be willing to do anything for me? Of course I understand. "You know I do," I say quietly.
"Well, you say he's in love with me, but he doesn't love me like that. Does he? He could have had me, but he didn't."
"That's because he's not like that. What are you saying? You'd rather he acted totally unprincipled and do something like I did? What I did was wrong. I took advantage of you."
"And I took advantage of you, too. We've been through all this, so cut it out, Har. I'm not sure what I wanted Chakotay to do. All I know is what he *did* do hurt like hell. It still does. Instead of being honest with me, he hid behind this weird code of ethics he seems to have.
"You say he didn't want to come between B'Elanna and me, so instead of telling me he was attracted to me, he chose to hurt me by letting me think I was just a convenience. And last night, he chose to humiliate me because he thought I was too confused to know my own mind and was really in love with you."
"He made a terrible mistake last night and I know he's hurting because of it. You need to sit down and talk with him. Work this all out."
He shakes his head sadly. "You just don't understand, Harry. I don't want to."
"But, why not?"
"He had his chance last night to stop being the oh-so-noble, self-sacrificing first officer and tell me the truth instead, but he blew it."
"And this is your way of punishing him for that? By refusing to even attempt to sort this mess out? Don't you see? You'll be hurting yourself as much as you'll be hurting him."
"It's not meant as a punishment, Harry. You'll never understand. I'm not sure *I* even do. I just know that I never want to feel the way I did last night again. Loving Chakotay hurts too much and I want nothing more to do with him."
"Harry... please. Let it be. I don't want to talk about it anymore. In fact, I think I'd better go. It's late."
I watch him leave, cursing Chakotay for being such a damn fool. Knowing that he'll be hurting just as much as Tom is, is no consolation.
I can only hope that after Tom's had some rest, he'll be able to see things a little differently and be prepared to at least try to talk to Chakotay.
I have a horrible feeling, my hopes are in vain.
Knowing that Tom and Harry aren't in a relationship doesn't make it any easier to watch them sit together to eat their dinner. They still seem as close as ever; despite Tom discovering just how manipulative Harry's been over the years.
Every time I look at the little weasel I want to throw him out an airlock. The only thing stopping me is my promise to Kathryn, and the fact that I know Tom would never forgive me.
Tom has been very subdued today, working quietly and efficiently at the helm, only speaking when he's asked a direct question. He seems to be toying with his food, making no attempt to eat it. Harry is hovering over him worriedly.
Kathryn told me last night everything Harry had told her, and she had to physically restrain me from getting up and spacing the little bastard there and then. That's when she made me promise not to retaliate against him in any way.
It was a hard promise to make. His explanation only confirmed what I'd already guessed. I suppose the only reason I could make that promise is because of the culpability that lays squarely on my shoulders.
I hate the fact that Tom and Harry slept together and I suspect I always will, but if I hadn't treated Tom the way I did the previous night, the chain of events that followed would never have happened. The responsibility is mine and I must be willing to accept it.
Tom was confused and my rejection confused him all the more. My hesitancy to admit my true feelings caused him to retreat and question his own feelings.
Tom would not be looking the way he does now, so lost and forlorn, if it wasn't for me. I wish I could go to him, tell him how wrong I was, how sorry I am, how much I love him, but I can't. I've tried.
I approached him this morning, agonizing that it may be too late to clear things up between us, but hopeful nevertheless. He refused to speak with me, telling me that we had nothing to say to one another that hadn't already been said and to stay away from him. The look of desperate determination in his eyes forced me to back off.
That doesn't mean I'm giving up.
I think I should give up. It's now been three weeks and there's been no thaw in Tom's attitude towards me. He's painfully formal with me on the rare occasions we are together and avoiding me as much as possible the rest of the time. He's even gone so far as to have the Captain alter his shifts so that we no longer work together.
On the numerous occasions that I've gone down to his quarters to speak with him privately, he's refused to let me in.
B'Elanna came to see me last night and asked me to please leave Tom alone. When I'd insisted he had feelings for me she'd nodded sadly.
"I'm not denying that, but he has no intentions of pursuing things further and you're going to have to respect his wishes. He's determined to put it all behind him and move forward and you're making it impossible for him to do that."
"I'm sorry, Chakotay, I feel sick about the whole thing because I really believe the two of you would have been good together, but you're going to have to let him go. It doesn't matter what Harry or I say to him, he's convinced that your sense of honor will always mean more to you than he ever could."
"I don't understand. My honor has nothing to do with this..."
"I realize that, as far as I'm concerned you've acted dishonorably towards him the whole way through. But he doesn't see it like that. He thinks that you were acting out of some misguided code of ethics. You didn't want to hurt me or come between us, so you lied to him. Let him think he meant nothing to you and was just a body to rub up against. Even after we'd broken up you still let him think that. That night, when he told you how he felt and you refused to believe him, convinced that he was confusing his feelings, you still didn't tell him the truth."
"I was going to, but he didn't give me a chance."
"You hesitated far too long, Chakotay. All Tom can see now is that whatever sense of honor you thought you were acting out of hurt him terribly, and he doesn't want to feel that type of pain ever again."
"I was acting out of fear, not honor. I was afraid of being hurt. I was afraid that Tom would realize he'd made a mistake and it really *was* Harry he was in love with. I was afraid of making a fool of myself."
"I've tried explaining that to him, but he doesn't want to listen. I really think you should leave him alone."
I'd sighed in resignation.
I've ruined any chance I have to be with Tom and it doesn't seem as if there's anything I can do about it at the moment.
I've decided that Harry needs a stern talking to in much the same vein as I had to speak to Vorik about his gossiping. I just can't believe the latest stunt he's pulled.
He told Tom that I have feelings for him. I *do* have feelings for Tom, I'm not denying it, but he's led him to believe that they're of the romantic kind and that's definitely not true.
My feelings for Tom are a little complicated. Mother... big sister... mentor... friend, all rolled into one, but there are definitely no romantic leanings of any kind. The whole thing is more than a little embarrassing, mainly because Tom has taken it so seriously.
When Tom first started acting strangely around me, I hadn't thought anything of it. He'd been quiet and withdrawn, the disaster with Chakotay still fresh. He'd come to me and requested a change of shift, and although I hadn't been happy about it, I'd allowed it temporarily because of the complete and utter devastation on his face.
I'd tried to talk to him about what happened, but all he would say was that he was trying to put the whole thing behind him and move forward. He didn't want to talk about it.
Each time I saw Tom after that he seemed stiff and uncomfortable around me. At first, I thought he was self-conscious that I knew so much about his private life, although that never seemed to bother him before.
As time went by, however, and his unease around me didn't diminish, I started to question his behavior. He stiffened whenever I placed my hand on his shoulder and shifted away if I positioned myself too close to him.
The one person I thought could shed some light on the whole thing was B'Elanna, but she was busy helping Tuvok ride out his ponn farr by this stage and was unavailable.
I decided to ask Tom outright if there was a problem between us and he denied it immediately. He went on to tell me how much he respected and admired me, flattering me outrageously by saying how beautiful and intelligent he thought I was and a lot of other nonsense besides.
After blushing furiously to the very tips of my fingers, I suddenly worried that he was coming on to me. We'd always flirted together a little, just for fun... nothing serious, but this seemed more than our usual banter. In his confused state he may have been confusing his feelings for me too.
Just when I'd decided that I'd better find some way to let him down gently, he turned the tables on me and let *me* down gently instead. I was a little flabbergasted by the whole conversation. Did Tom think I was interested in him?
Where had he got that idea from? Had I done or said anything to give him that impression? The flirting was mutual and had been happening from almost the beginning of our journey; it couldn't be that.
Lately, Tom had been too upset to flirt with anyway. I'd shown my concern for him. Had he misinterpreted that for something more? I'd always shown my concern for him. I just didn't understand it.
Finally, B'Elanna emerged from Tuvok's quarters, a little worse for wear but smiling brightly nevertheless. It appears the bond between them is permanent, although this doesn't seem to bother B'Elanna at all.
She tells me that what she shared with Tuvok was far more than physical. It was a spiritual and mental joining as well, that's left her feeling far more contented than she's felt in her life before.
Tuvok needed one more day alone to meditate, but we were all assured he was fine. He's claimed B'Elanna as his 'second' and insists that she is now part of his family, no matter what happens in the future.
B'Elanna, for her part, is more than agreeable with the arrangement, saying that she now belongs with Tuvok and couldn't be happier. She's moved in with him permanently and I'm happy for the both of them.
It didn't take long for the two of them to settle back down into the normal everyday running of the ship and not much longer for B'Elanna to catch up on what had been happening while she was 'busy'.
That was when she was finally able to discover why Tom thought I was in love with him. Harry! Harry had told him I was. He'd suspected it for years apparently, and my reaction to his supposed 'cheating on Tom' confirmed it for him.
I think it may be time I confirmed something for the young idiot myself.
Okay, so I made a mistake. And now that I think about it, it *was* probably very embarrassing for the Captain. But how was I supposed to know that Tom would feel it necessary to let her down gently? He's too nice, that's his problem.
I hardly think I can be blamed for that. The Captain doesn't seem to think so, though. And now Tom's decided to be all embarrassed about the whole thing too. I just can't win.
Greg almost made himself sick laughing when I told him what had happened, but I don't think it's funny. He did make me promise to butt out of Tom's life, however. That was an easy promise to make, since Tom had made me promise the very same thing.
That doesn't stop me worrying about him, though. He's still not over Chakotay, and isn't sleeping or eating properly. Even the Doc's worried about him.
And now the Captain's got me down here cleaning out Jeffries tubes for the next week, so I can't even keep an eye on him. B'Elanna said she would, but she's so busy with Tuvok these days, I don't think she'll be able to.
And, to make matters worse, Tom made me readjust the Doc's matrix so that he was no longer in love with Seven. Unfortunately, this resulted in the Doc realizing what I'd done in the first place, so I've now been 'volunteered' for sickbay duties as well.
If there's anything I hate more than sick people, I don't know what it is. The Doc knows this too. He rubbed his hands with undisguised glee while he listed all the simulations we'd be running, so that he could train me to be the perfect nurse.
The first time someone, hologram or not, vomits in front of me I know I'll join in too. And don't even get me started on the whole blood thing. I'm wondering if it would be easier just to go to the Captain and fess up. Although, after the way she spoke to me over the whole being in love with Tom thing, maybe that's not such a good idea after all.
She'd certainly seemed surprised when the Doc had announced my sudden desire to be a nurse. Everyone had actually, except Tom, who knew *exactly* what had happened.
If I'd expected sympathy from Greg, I didn't get it either. He said it would be good for me to have some medical training. Trying to explain that I wouldn't be learning much fell on deaf ears.
Sighing in defeat, I lean forward once more and start scrubbing at a small corner crevice with my toothbrush.
No Regrets - Part 36
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
The last few weeks have been... difficult. Hell, who am I trying to kid? They've been impossible. My decision to have nothing more to do with Chakotay would have been hard to stick to anyway without his constant 'need' to speak with me.
He wants to talk things over, clear the air, and explain things so that he can use me for a rubbing post whenever the urge takes him. Okay, maybe that sounds a little harsh... bitter even, but damn it all, I feel bitter.
He'd been attracted to me for a long time and yet let me believe I was just a convenience to him in his time of need. What the hell did he think I was going to do if he'd told me how he felt? Dump B'Elanna so that I could follow up on this attraction thing? His reasoning is damn insulting, that's what it is, and his opinion of me is infuriating.
Harry says Chakotay is in love with me. That's a laugh. Chakotay accused me of not being able to be in love with him if I believed all that shit about him... well doesn't that go both ways?
His opinion of me has always been a problem between us and nothing's changed. He still sees me as some sort of lowlife, attracted to me or not. I'd really be letting myself in for a lot of heartbreak if I let this go any further. So I won't. It's as simple as that.
B'Elanna says I'm a stubborn fool. I don't care. It's better this way. Harry just shakes his head mournfully at me and tells me I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face. I don't care about that either.
So I'm not the sympathetic, forgiving, paragon of virtue they want me to be. So what? He hurt me and I feel more than a little resentful about the whole thing. Why shouldn't I? I'm not perfect - far from it - and I've never pretended to be.
And then there's Harry. My best friend Harry. The one person I thought I could count on always. We've been through a lot together the two of us. Finding out that his feelings for me weren't quite what they seemed, had been a shock.
I don't blame him for sleeping with me; I threw myself at him. It was a terrible thing to do, considering that I knew how he felt about me by then. No, that isn't my problem with him.
I can't even stay angry with him over all the things he's done in the past, although I do think the little payback plan the Doc and I devised between us is just desserts. I've never known anybody to turn as green as Harry does at even the thought of getting sick. Just wait till he sees some of the simulations we've set up for him.
I guess my real problem with him is the fact that one night he was in love with me and the very next he was thinking of starting a relationship with someone else. Even going so far as to tell him what had happened between us.
I would never tell Harry this, he feels bad enough about everything as it is, but that hurt. It hurt a lot. The fact that it was Greg Ayala helps a little. I trust him implicitly, and I meant what I said to him. I truly do hope the two them can make a go of it and be happy together, but I now feel I can't confide in Harry the way I used to. He'll tell Greg, and if I wanted Greg to know my personal details I'd tell him myself.
The same goes for B'Elanna. She and Tuvok are now bonded, and I'm happy for them, extremely so as a matter of fact, but what she knows... Tuvok does also. It's only natural. I trust Tuvok implicitly, also, but it's just not the same anymore.
So I say nothing much to either of them these days and I know they're worried... it's not like me to be so quiet. They also say I'm not sleeping or eating enough, but I think I did too much of that before anyway. I'm fine. At least... I will be.
Tom is finally back on alpha shift. He looks awful, which - of course - causes me to blame myself. He's pale, far too thin, and seems to have permanent circles smudged under his eyes.
I don't understand why he's doing this to himself. If he'd only let me explain things to him, talk to him even, we could work it out. He knows how I feel about him, I know he does, so why is he doing this? It's so unnecessary. We could be together; there's no need for any of this.
In his attempt to punish me, he seems to be punishing himself even more. He's such a stubborn fool. It's taken all my willpower at times not to go over there and throttle him, and then kiss him senseless.
Most of the time, however, I sit back and watch him sullenly. The next move is up to him. I've tried. Spirits, how I've tried. But if that's the way he wants it, then so be it. I refuse to force my attentions on him any further. It's his choice to suffer in this way, so let him.
Swallowing, I turn my eyes away from the back of his head and concentrate on the data padd in my hand. It wouldn't have worked out between us, anyway. We would have probably done nothing but argue, and I honestly don't need the aggravation at this point in my life. It's for the best. I swallow once more.
I step into the lift slowly, barely aware that somebody is already in there.
"Hi, Greg," I answer, trying to force some enthusiasm into my tone.
"Did Harry tell you our plans for tonight?"
"Will you join us?"
"Thanks, but... I don't really..."
"He's worried about you, you know."
"I know. I'm sorry," I say miserably.
Greg sighs loudly. "Why don't you talk to him?"
"I do," I say in surprise.
"I'm talking about Chakotay. If you'd only..."
"I don't want to."
"You look positively ill. Surely..."
The lift stops and the doors open to reveal none other than Chakotay himself, about to step in. He hesitates significantly and then enters cautiously.
"Sorry... forgot... my deck." Greg dashes out, just as the doors close.
"Ayala, it is not," I yell out.
Chakotay clears his throat. "That was subtle."
I cross my arms, determined to ride the journey out in silence.
"Tom, you look terrible."
"Thanks a lot."
"You're obviously still hurting. Can't we talk about this?"
"You have feelings for me. You wouldn't look like this if you didn't."
I open my mouth to tell him to shut up and then close it again. What happened to my vow of silence? I keep my eyes fixed firmly on the doors and say nothing.
"Tom? Why are you being so stubborn? You're putting yourself through hell, needlessly. I was a fool. B'Elanna told me that you think my sense of honor is more important to me than anything. You're wrong. I didn't even act with honor where you're concerned."
He moves closer to me, but I stand stiffly at attention, praying for the lift to stop and the doors to open. Why's it taking so long anyway?
"I told myself I lied to you so that I wouldn't hurt B'Elanna; I didn't want to complicate matters any further between the two of you, but that's not true. I let my fear of rejection overwhelm me completely. I'm sorry. So sorry."
I bite my lip, my resolve starting to weaken.
"Tom? Will you give me another chance?"
I swallow, but refuse to answer him. What about that night? There was no need for him to be worried about rejection. Hadn't I already told him how I felt?
He thought I was mistaking my feelings and was really in love with Harry, but...
"Tom, please talk to me."
I don't know what to say. He hurt me. More than once. Should I take the chance? I just don't know. And... what the hell? I could have crawled through the Jeffries tubes and arrived at the bridge before this goddamned snail of a turbolift.
And where the hell is my pride? I look so bad that everyone's commenting on it. And, because I look so bad, Chakotay thinks I'm pining for him. I guess I am. But... damn it! I don't want to be hurt again.
He thinks he can just bail me up like this and, eventually, I'll cave in. No! It's not going to happen. I won't let it happen.
I should have made sure I ate and slept properly. How could I have let myself get into this state? I shouldn't have given him any reason to think he had a chance with me. And why the hell are we still in this goddamned lift? We should have arrived at the bridge ages ago.
"Why the hell are we still in this goddamned lift?" I say aloud. "We should have arrived at the bridge ages ago."
There's silence for a few moments and then Chakotay sighs. He stares at the panel. "I don't think we're moving."
I sniff disdainfully and then realize he's right. It doesn't take much investigation to discover that Greg's halted the turbolift from outside. The computer won't accept either Chakotay's or my override.
"It's okay, Tom. I'll have us out of here in no time."
I ignore him and slap my commbadge instead. "Paris to Ayala. Greg, get this goddamned lift moving, or else."
'That's not very nice, Tom. A polite request for assistance would...'
"Greg, I'm warning you."
'It's not really my department. I'll have maintenance get right on it.'
"Let me." Chakotay slaps his commbadge. "Mr. Ayala. This is *Commander* Chakotay here. You will return access of this lift to me immediately or I will put you on report. Is that clear?"
'I'm sorry, Sir. There must be something wrong with communications. I can't hear you properly.'
I watch Chakotay clench his jaw before he turns to me. "He's dead." He reaches out and pats my shoulder. "Don't worry. I have everything under control."
"Yeah... right," I mumble. I step back away from him and rest against the back wall. He watches me worriedly.
"It'll be all right. I promise."
I shake my head and close my eyes. If Greg thinks this little plan is going to make me start talking to Chakotay, he's got another think coming. And I wish Chakotay would stop being so... anxious, concerned, or whatever the hell it is he's being.
I don't want him being nice to me... caring towards me. It just makes everything so much more difficult. I have to stay angry with him, I can't let him get to me like this. I grit my teeth and bang my head softly against the wall of the lift.
"Oh, hell," Chakotay says quietly. "Tom? Please don't."
His voice is soft, gentle and full of emotion. The small amount of resolve I have left crumbles, and battling with a sudden urge to start crying, I throw my arms around him.
He holds me close and I sink into his embrace, struggling to find the words I want to say. He doesn't give me the chance.
Before I can say anything, he slaps his commbadge and barks into it. "Greg, quit playing around. Tom's not handling this too well. He's starting to panic."
My eyes spring open at that and I push myself away from him. What?
'Oh, shit!' Greg's voice is full of horror. 'I forgot. I'm sorry, Chak. Control's been restored. Tom, I'm so sorry. You'll be out of there soon.'
Glaring at Chakotay, I slap my commbadge. "Thank you, Greg, but I'm fine. I wasn't panicking."
Chakotay squeezes my arm. "We're moving, Tom."
"So I noticed."
He attempts to squeeze my arm again, but I move out of his grasp and step away. "I was fine before. I wasn't panicking."
"Okay." He smiles at me patronizingly and I can feel my anger mounting. To think I almost gave in. How could I forget just how totally annoying he could be?
"Believe what you want," I say coldly. "But, I wasn't panicking."
"It doesn't matter, Tom. It's okay now."
"I WAS NOT PANICKING," I yell at him as the doors open onto the bridge. The Captain and Tuvok are standing there, waiting to step in.
She looks at me worriedly. "Is everything all right?"
"I'm fine. Everything's fine," I answer, a little too loudly.
I make my way down to my console, knowing that all eyes are on me. Damn it all anyway! That's the last time. The last time I draw attention to myself in any way, shape, or form. From now on I'm going to eat and sleep properly. I'm going to be the model officer and nobody's going to take any notice of me at all.
I begin my plan immediately. That afternoon I'm at peak efficiency on the bridge. The Captain squeezes my shoulder before I leave, telling me I did a wonderful job. That wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Everyone on the bridge is looking at me again. Especially Chakotay. I clench my jaw, thank the Captain, and then hurry away.
Neelix gives me a funny look at dinner, when I go back for a second helping and then ask him what's for dessert. There's two choices, so I take them both. Harry just shakes his head at me, telling me I'll probably be sick.
Both concoctions are unbearably sweet. I wolf them down anyway. Harry can't bear to watch, saying he feels sick just looking at me. I finish his dessert as well.
Over the next few days I eat everything I can, much to Neelix's delight. My stomach isn't quite as delighted, however, and I find I have to sneak medication from sickbay to combat its protests.
I'm pleased to see that my face is already losing its gaunt appearance. If I keep on eating like this, it won't take long to gain all the weight I've lost.
Sleeping isn't as easy. No matter how hard I try, I can't relax enough to sleep. Every time I close my eyes, Chakotay appears before me. He's telling me how sorry he is and asking me to give him another chance.
I decide the only answer is to tire myself out completely each day. I start going to Tuvok's fitness workouts every morning and the gym most nights. I also try to keep moving as much as possible during the day. This is a little hard to do, sitting at the helm, so I try to make up for it whenever I'm off the bridge.
I've discovered that crawling through Jeffries tubes, instead of using the turbolift, is an excellent way to use up energy. I can't always do that, of course, but I try to as much as possible. I've even set myself targets to see how fast I can crawl through, just to make it a little more exciting. It seems to be working too, as each night I fall asleep almost immediately, too exhausted to stay awake another moment.
The only trouble is, all this exercise is causing my weight to stay down, no matter how much I eat. At least I don't look as ill as I did before.
I know I said the next move was up to Tom, and that I refused to force my attentions on him any further, but I couldn't help myself. The opportunity in the lift was too good to pass up.
He still refused to speak to me, however. I've never known anyone so stubborn in my life. And then he panicked. Well... started to anyway. As much as he denied it, I know the truth.
He looks a lot better these days. He seems to be eating and sleeping properly again and I'm happy and relieved about that, although a little disappointed that he seems to be getting over me.
However, I'm worried about him. Even more than before. Greg's rather unfortunate attempt to help out has had a traumatic side effect. Tom is now too traumatized to use the turbolift unless he absolutely has to.
I'm the only one that knows Tom's terrible secret. I always know where Tom is and that's how I discovered he was using the Jeffries tubes a lot of the time, instead of the lift. His claustrophobia is obviously causing serious problems now and this could have devastating consequences. How long before the Captain finds out, and should I even try to hide it from her?
Tom needs serious help; the Doctor obviously not up to the challenge. He was mistaken in his assurances that Tom had conquered his phobia. It's just getting worse. Normally, as first officer, I would have handled this situation long ago. Because it's Tom, I haven't interfered. But I can't let this continue any longer.
Tom leaves the bridge with Harry, stepping into the lift seemingly unconcerned. I know better. He's due in sickbay this afternoon and I know without a doubt he'll be using the Jeffries tubes to get there. I decide it's time to confront him.
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 Chakotay.
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 Jeffries tubes."
"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. Paris."
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 lift?"
"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 me?"
"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 affect that."
"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 myself saying.
"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 him."
"And why is that necessary? He obviously has feelings for you too."
"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 opportunity.
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 speak.
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 out."
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 decision."
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* needling *him*.
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 quietly.
"That's right," she answers cheerfully. "I think the two of you need some time away to sort things out. This is the perfect opportunity."
"Captain, this planet is two days away in the Flyer," Chakotay points out.
"We'll be meeting up with you in five days time, if all goes well."
Five days!!!! Five days in a shuttle... alone... with Chakotay. No way!
"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.
No Regrets - Part 38
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
As soon as I enter my quarters I see Harry and B'Elanna sitting on my couch.
"You're all packed and ready to go," B'Elanna says cheerfully as they stand and come over to me.
"Well, I hope you packed plenty of reading material, because it's going to be one hell of a trip," I snarl in return.
"I put a couple of padds in there," she answers lightly, refusing to look at me.
"What are the two of you doing packing for me anyway?"
"You haven't got time. In fact, you'd better make your way to the shuttlebay now, or you'll be late."
"Don't care if I am," I say sulkily. "If the two of you have had time to get the Flyer ready and pack for both Chakotay and me, you must have known about it long before us."
"That's right. The Captain decided to tell you both after everything was ready. That way, you wouldn't have time to brood. Come on, Helmboy, let's go."
"Damn it! I'm not going."
"Of course you're going."
"No, I'm not."
"Stop being childish. You have to go. You can't refuse an away mission."
"Why are you so all fired keen to see me go?"
"Who says I am? It's just that it's Harry and my job to get Chakotay and you on the Flyer as quickly and efficiently as possible."
"Your job? What the hell are you talking about?"
"The Captain asked us to ensure you made it aboard the Flyer."
"The whole thing sounds weird to me." I turn to Harry. "You're very quiet. You haven't said a word."
"B'Elanna's said enough for both of us."
"Shut up, Harry. At least I'm doing this because I want Tom and Chakotay to work things out."
"So do I," Harry says quickly. "You know I do."
"Excuse me?" I say, glaring at both of them. "Chakotay and I will not be working anything out. I know what the Captain's hoping will happen, and I'm telling you it won't. I won't let it. So you might as well have saved yourselves a lot of trouble."
"You can be such a stubborn ass, Tom."
"I made a decision that was right for me, B'Elanna. I wish you'd accept that. And as for you, Harry, you promised me you'd butt out."
"I know, and I'm sorry, but I had to, Tom. You don't understand. The Captain made me. She... well... she knows. She knows everything. Including what I did to the Doctor. She told me..." he gulps nervously and avoids my eye. "Anyway, I have to help get you on that shuttle."
"She's blackmailing you?" I ask incredulously.
"Not exactly. She wouldn't do something like that. But she's promised I won't have to do any more shifts in sickbay once you get back."
"What? She bribed you? And you accepted?"
"It's not like that. I can't work in sickbay any more. I just can't. And besides, it's not as if I have a choice in the matter. I'm just following orders. Captain's orders. Just like you have to."
"Tom, will you quit stalling? You're going to be late," B'Elanna warns. "Come on."
"She can't make me go if I'm sick," I say stubbornly.
"As if you can pull that one. Move it."
I shake my head, still trying to think of a way out of the mission. There has to be some way. I definitely do *not* want to be on a shuttle with Chakotay at the moment. Even if there were others going with us, I wouldn't want to, but... the two of us... alone...
B'Elanna hisses impatiently and suddenly grabs my arms. "Harry, get his legs. We'll carry him down there."
"What?" I yell indignantly, struggling to break free from her grasp. I can't believe she's serious as she drags me towards the door.
"Harry! His legs."
I struggle fiercely as they carry me out into the corridor and make their way to the lift. This isn't happening. This can't be happening.
A small giggle stops my struggles and then a voice calls out, "Have a nice trip with the Commander, Tom. It's nice to see you're so eager to go." I turn red with humiliation as I see the Delaney twins watching us, huge grins on their faces.
Does everybody know about my private life? I sigh. Of course they do. Why wouldn't they? Despite the fact that Vorik no longer blabs everything all over the ship, gossip still seems to spread.
As the lift doors open, a voice says mildly. "Do you require assistance?"
"Not if he decides to be sensible," B'Elanna says shortly, while Tuvok and Greg peer down at me.
"Okay, okay," I yell. "Put me down. I *can* walk, you know. I had every intention of going."
B'Elanna and Harry both let me go at the same time and I fall onto the floor with a bump. Rubbing my hip, I stand up and glare at them all. "Thanks for your assistance. I'll be fine now."
We all enter the lift and they then follow me into the shuttlebay and into the Flyer itself. I keep my head held high, refusing to talk to any of them.
"What's this? A farewell party?" Chakotay says a few moments later as he enters.
"We thought we'd see you off," Greg answers, humor evident in his tone.
"Well, goodbye," Chakotay says shortly. "And, by the way, Ensign Kim. I don't appreciate you going through my things."
"I... I had to. The Captain told me to pack for you, and..."
"Be that as it may, Ensign, I don't appreciate it."
Poor Harry. Chakotay's still rather brusque with him most of the time. Harry flushes and starts to apologize, but I interrupt, coming to Harry's defense quickly.
"It's not Harry's fault, Commander. If you have a problem, you should take it up with the Captain."
"I already have, thank you, Ensign." Chakotay's voice is like ice.
How I'd dearly love to snap back at him, but I grit my teeth and say nothing, wondering if he can put me on report before we even leave. I decide not to test it. The trip's going to be bad enough without starting out with an argument.
Five days. Five long days are ahead of us. The least I can do is try and get along with him.
As soon as we're clear of Voyager, Chakotay turns to me. "We have five long days ahead of us, Tom. I think we should try to get along."
I nod. "I was thinking the same thing. The trouble is, the Captain's sent us on this mission so that we can talk. I really don't want to."
"So, we won't. I don't think there's much left to say, anyway. I think it's all been said."
"Yeah, I guess it has," I say quietly, turning away to study my readings. As far as he's concerned it probably has. But it hasn't. Not by a long shot. There's one thing Chakotay's never said to me. One minor detail he seems to have forgotten.
Forgotten? Who am I trying to kid? He hasn't forgotten. He just didn't feel the need to say the words. And unfortunately, for me, it was crucial that he did.
B'Elanna and Harry, the Doc, and even Greg have told me that Chakotay loves me, but *he* never has.
He's apologized for hurting me and lying to me. He's tried to explain why he acted that way. He's even admitted to being afraid of rejection, and pleaded with me to give him another chance.
But he's never told me how he really feels. Sure, he's alluded to it a few times, but he's never come out and said it. Not once. And that's all it would have taken. If only he'd come to me and said, 'I love you, Tom. I want to work this out so that we can be together.' I would have said, 'Me, too,' and things would be so different now.
He didn't do that, however. He won't say the words I need to hear. I know everyone thinks I'm being stubborn, pig-headed and totally unreasonable, but if Chakotay can't tell me how he feels, when I've already admitted to him that I'm in love with him, then there's no hope for us at all.
He's my commanding officer and I know that that could cause a few problems, without this. It's just all too one-sided. Too uneven, and sooner or later, I'll be the one hurt again.
It's better this way, but the animosity between us has to stop, so I turn to him and smile brightly.
"You're right. It *has* all been said. Maybe instead of having a heart to heart, we can just relax and enjoy the mission? To tell you the truth, I've been wanting to get away from Voyager."
He smiles lightly in return. "Me, too. I can think of worse things to do than scout out an M-class planet and hopefully befriend the local population."
"Sure. Let's think of it as a holiday."
His smile widens, causing his dimples to show and I swallow and turn away. Maybe I'd better not be too friendly. I don't want to give him the wrong idea, and besides, I don't think I can handle too many more smiles like that. I feel a little breathless as it is.
Chakotay clears his throat. "I think I'd better look over this list of supplies the Captain wants us to try and obtain."
I nod without turning around. "I've got a few readings to check."
We work quietly for some time before there's a sudden beep from my console. "That's strange. There's a vessel approaching."
"Oh? What type of..." His voice is cut off before he can finish the question. I turn around in concern and find he's no longer sitting at his station. He's gone!
"Chakotay!" I cry out in panic, standing up hastily.
I feel a transporter beam engulf me as well, and a few moments later I'm surrounded by darkness.
Groping around, I soon discover that I'm in a small cell. There's a bunk on one side of the room and bathroom facilities on the other. There's not much else.
I sit down dejectedly on the bunk wondering what the hell's going on. Who's captured us? What do they want? And, most importantly, where's Chakotay?
He's probably in a cell just like this one. I tap at the wall next to me, but there's no answer. Making my way over to the other wall, I try again. Still nothing. I then decide to let my captors know I'm not happy by kicking and pounding at the door, yelling out furiously the whole time.
There's no reaction and I soon grow tired and head back to the bunk to wait.
I'm not sure how long I sit there in the dark; it feels like hours, but probably isn't. Finally, I hear a scraping sound at the door and it opens inward.
Light streams in from outside as I jump up hastily and peer closely at the figure entering. I have no idea whether the alien is male or female, as fur seems to cover its entire body. It appears to be smaller than me, but with all that fur, it's hard to tell.
Waving a weapon at me, it indicates I should stay back. Two more aliens enter the cell, carrying Chakotay between them. They lay him on the bunk, watching me the whole time, and then slowly back out.
I step quickly to the bunk and kneel beside him, completely ignoring the weapon trained on me. "What did you do to him?" I ask angrily.
"We need information," the alien answers. Its voice is harsh, guttural, and hard to understand.
"He's sleeping. Our serum did not make him talk. Next time we will increase the dosage."
"What the hell do you want to know?"
"Why did you trespass in our space?"
"We didn't know we were. There's no need for serums. I'm quite happy to answer your questions."
"You will lie. The serum will make you tell the truth. You are a small scouting party for a larger invasion."
"That's not true. We're peaceful explorers. We had no idea this space was occupied."
"No. It's the truth."
The alien shakes its head and slams the door of the cell as it leaves. We're plunged into darkness once more.
"Chakotay?" I feel around for his pulse. It seems normal. "Chakotay!" I give him a little shake.
"What?" he mumbles.
I shake him a little more vigorously. "Wake up!"
"Okay, I'm awake. I... Spirits!" I can feel him sit up hastily. "What the hell? What's going on?" He sounds panicked.
"Take it easy. We've been captured."
"What..." I can hear him fumbling around in the dark. His hand grabs hold of my arm. "What did they do to me?"
"I'm not sure," I say. "They said they gave you some sort of truth serum. Apparently it didn't work. You've been asleep. How do you feel?"
"I... I remember the feel of a transporter and then... a bright light, shining directly in my eyes and... and then a hypospray against my neck. Oh Spirits!" His voice breaks.
"Chakotay?" I ask in concern. "What's wrong? Are you ill?"
I hear him take a deep breath and his hold on my arm tightens. "I'm fine now. It was just a bit of a shock."
"You're not nauseous? Dizzy?"
"No. No. I'm fine now." His voice is still a little shaky.
"What's wrong then?" I'm really worried now. "Something obviously is."
Chakotay reaches down and finds my hand, squeezing it tightly. "I don't want you to get upset by what I'm about to tell you, I'm trying very hard to stay calm myself, but..."
"Oh gods... what is it?" I try not to panic.
"I'm... I'm... blind, Tom. Completely. I can't see a thing. Not even shadows. Nothing. It must have been that light."
"Chakotay, you're not blind."
"Of course... you're right. The Doctor will fix me up in no time once we get back to Voyager. Thank you for remaining so calm."
"No, Chakotay. You're really not blind. We're in the dark here. There's no light whatsoever. I can't see anymore than you can."
"No. This must be their way of torturing us."
"Oh!" He gives a small chuckle. "I feel rather foolish."
He's still holding my hand, but I decide not to mention it.
"Tom?" he says quickly. "Are you all right?"
"I mean, it's okay if you're not. This darkness is rather unsettling, even for me. Sit here next to me, and..."
"Chakotay," I interrupt, as his meaning suddenly becomes clear to me. "I'm not afraid of the dark. Just because I had a problem with enclosed spaces doesn't mean I have a problem with the dark."
"If you say so," he says lightly, making me grit my teeth in irritation. "Sit down here anyway."
I do as he says, not because I'm scared and need to feel comforted, but because kneeling on the floor is hurting my knees.
I sit down, a little closer to him than I intended, and he grasps my hand once more. I decide not to make an issue out of it. What's the harm? Maybe he *needs* to hold my hand.
The darkness and now silence feel rather suffocating, so I clear my throat.
"They think we're some sort of scouting party for an all out invasion," I tell him. "I tried to tell them they were wrong, but they wouldn't listen. I'm worried about it. They said they were going to increase the serum next time. Who knows what that may do?"
"Hopefully Voyager's looking for us by now."
"Why would they be? They were headed off in the opposite direction to us. They won't even know we're in trouble. They won't know for five more days. I doubt these aliens will wait that long before they try to question us again."
Chakotay sighs. "You've got a point. But we have to remain hopeful. That's an order."
"Yes, Sir," I say smartly. "Maybe we can come up with an escape plan."
"That's the spirit, Tom." He squeezes my hand again and, despite the fact that I really don't want to give him the wrong idea, I squeeze his back.
No Regrets - Part 39
Please see part 1 for disclaimer, codes, summary, etc.
Time passes slowly as we sit in the cell. The darkness is oppressive and we try to take our minds off it by attempting to come up with an escape plan that may have some chance of success.
It's not that easy, however, and after having to reject some of Tom's more reckless proposals we lapse into an uncomfortable silence.
I tried to point out to Tom that there was no sense in escaping if we were killed in the attempt. He called me a 'chicken shit', which I didn't appreciate, and has been sulking ever since.
The strange thing is, we're still sitting side-by-side on the bunk, our hands clasped firmly in one another's. He's made no attempt to pull his away, and neither have I. Holding hands seems to offer us both some comfort in the all-consuming blackness.
Without warning the cell door opens and we both jump up from the bunk. I'm more than grateful for the light that pours into our cell.
A creature completely covered in fur enters, a weapon trained directly on us in its hand. Another one enters behind it, carrying a tray, and a third remains in the doorway, a weapon in its hand also.
"At least they're going to feed us," Tom says lightly.
"How long do you intend to keep us here?" I ask.
"As long as it takes," the first creature answers.
"Could you at least leave some light on in here so that we can see to eat?" Tom asks. "I hate to think of the mess we'll make otherwise."
The creature gives a small nod. "Very well."
They leave quietly and I sigh with relief as a small light glows on. It's not much, but at least we're not in the pitch dark anymore.
Tom looks down at the tray of food and drink suspiciously. "This could be drugged."
"It could," I agree.
"Then again, they've already used a hypospray to drug you, so why would they bother tampering with the food?"
"What do you want to do?" He turns to look at me.
"I think we're going to need to keep our strength up, so we'd better take the chance."
Tom nods and picks up one of the bowls. "Some sort of stew."
We sit back on the bunk, the tray between us, and slowly and carefully take a mouthful of food.
Tom screws up his face and swallows noisily. I'm sure the look of disgust on his face is mirrored on my own.
"I don't believe this. There's leola root in this."
I nod in agreement, grimacing as I swallow. "Neelix did say this was considered a delicacy in the delta quadrant. Many races use it as a base ingredient because it's so nutritious and plentiful."
"I can't believe this. Of all the peoples that could capture us, we get caught by a race that uses leola root. I think I'm going to be sick."
"I suggest you grin and bear it. It may be the only thing we get to eat."
"I guess you're right. It's lucky I'm so damn hungry then, isn't it?"
He takes a sip of water and then another mouthful of stew. In this way he manages to eat most of it and I do the same.
As soon as we finish eating, I focus my attention on our cell. It's a lot smaller than I realized, the bunk taking up the whole length of it. It's not very wide, either.
I turn to Tom and see that he's also taking in our surroundings. Before I can say anything, the door opens and our captors come in, this time to retrieve the tray.
As they leave, the light flickers off and we're plunged into complete darkness once more. I reach out for Tom's hand in the blackness, only to find he's no longer on the bunk.
"Why are they doing this? Why don't they just question us and do whatever it is they have to do?"
I don't like the tone of his voice. He's no longer calm and controlled. But, now that I think about it, he never has been. Except when I was panicking about my loss of sight.
Most of the suggestions he made for our escape were completely unworkable, which shows he wasn't thinking clearly, and then he was very quiet. All during our meal he hardly spoke, the shock of the leola root being the only exception.
I should have understood sooner, of course, but I hadn't realized how small our cell was until a few moments ago. Perhaps Tom hadn't either.
The last thing I need is for Tom to start panicking. He's obviously been battling his rising hysteria the whole time we've been in here, but now that he's seen the exact size of this cell he can no longer control himself.
"Tom, come and sit down." I try to keep my tone soft and reassuring. I hear movement and then a sudden bang. Another one soon follows.
"Why don't you just question us and get it over and done with?" he yells, banging on the door in earnest.
"Tom, they're trying to unsettle us," I say quietly.
"Well, guess what? It's working," he answers loudly.
"Tom, please come and sit down. That's not going to help. I know you're feeling restless, but that's what they intend."
"A little," I admit. "But I'm determined not to give in to it. Come and sit down and we'll talk. I'll try to help you keep your mind focused. I'll get you through this, I promise."
He's silent for several moments and I wait hopefully for him to join me.
"Chakotay," he finally says. "I'm feeling a little frustrated at the moment, that's all. I don't like these mind games they seem to be playing."
"Of course. Neither do I. Just keep telling yourself that and you'll be fine."
"You think I'm going to have a panic attack, don't you?"
"Not if I can help it," I say firmly.
"Oh, for... Chakotay, I'm not claustrophobic in here. Okay?"
"That's good, Tom. Keep reinforcing that and I'm sure..."
"Chakotay! I mean it. I'm not claustrophobic."
"All right, Tom. Just don't get so agitated."
"I am *not* agitated," he shouts.
"You have to try and remain calm," I say, jumping up from the bunk and groping around to find him in the dark. My hand connects with his chest and I grab hold of his shoulders. "Deep breaths, Tom. Take deep breaths."
"Shit! Why do I even bother?" he growls angrily, breaking free from my hold and stepping away. There's a thud. "Ow!"
"Tom? Are you all right?"
"No, I'm not damn well all right. I just walked into the goddamned wall. But I'm not about to jump all over you and start rubbing up against you, if that's what you mean."
"That isn't what I meant," I say huffily, trying to dampen down the disappointment that seems to be engulfing me at his words. That's the very last thing that needs to be happening at the moment. For all we know our captors could be monitoring this cell, and besides that they could walk in at any time. Just imagine if they walked in on us in the middle...
Why am I thinking like this? It's not going to happen. I seem to have nothing but sex on the brain lately.
Tom pushes past me and I hear him sit down on the bunk. I fumble my way over there as well. "Maybe we should try and get some sleep," I suggest. "The bunk's wide enough for us both to lie down."
"If you think I'm curling up with you, you've got another think coming," he snarls.
I sigh loudly. Tom's obviously going to be difficult. "We could lie at opposite ends, but I can think of nothing worse than having your feet in my face all night long."
"That goes for me too."
"Tom, will you just lie down and stop being such a pain in the ass? I won't touch you, I promise."
"I think I'll sleep sitting up, thank you very much," he says stiffly. It takes all my self-control not to reach out and throttle him.
"Do what you want," I snap. "But move out the way, because I'm lying down." I do exactly that, kicking Tom in the process. He moves forward, away from the wall, and I manage to slide my legs in behind him.
Now that he no longer has the wall to rest back against, I have no idea how he thinks he'll be able to sleep. It's all so stupid. There's plenty of room for him to lie beside me. And he certainly doesn't have to worry about me trying anything. The only thing I feel like doing at the moment is strangling him, or knocking him senseless. That would be a rather simple matter, judging by the way he's acting.
I'm surprised at how comfortable this bunk is actually. Normally they're hard as a rock, offering no more comfort than the floor. And our captors have supplied us with two pillows as well. Very thoughtful of them.
I bunch one of them up under my head and push the other one at Tom. "Here. I'm not exactly sure how you'll be able to use this, sitting up like that, but it's all yours."
The pillow lands on my head with a thump. "You know what you can do with that," he growls.
I feel him stand up. "Tom? What are you doing now?"
"If you must know, I need to use the bathroom facilities. Is that all right with you?"
"Of course. Sorry I asked." I turn my face to the wall to afford him some privacy. It's all rather ridiculous considering I can't see him anyway, but I feel it's the decent thing to do.
I can hear him, however, which causes me to decide that I'd better follow his example. As soon as he returns to the bunk, I jump up. "I think I should use them too."
"Knock yourself out," he says dryly.
I almost do as I misjudge the distance and bang into the wall.
"A little to the right," Tom calls out heartlessly, while I shake my head to clear it.
"Thanks so much," I say sarcastically, deciding that I *will* strangle him when I get back to the bunk. However, when I return, I discover Tom is lying down with his back against the wall.
"What are you doing there?"
"Trying to get some sleep."
"Well, move over."
"Because that's where I was lying."
"So? There's plenty of room for you to lie in front of me."
"I don't want to lie in front of you. I want to..."
"What's the difference?" he interrupts.
"I was there first," I say childishly.
"So what? I don't see what the problem is. You wanted me to lie down and I am. Why don't you do the same?"
Good question, and I wish I knew the answer. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact I feel vulnerable lying in front of him. That's ridiculous, I know, but I can now understand why Tom was so reluctant to do it.
I lie down, telling myself that I'm being a fool, and try to keep as much distance between us as possible without actually falling off the bunk.
I lie there for some time, listening as Tom's breathing steadily evens out. At least he seems relaxed enough to sleep. Once I'm sure he's asleep, I move myself into a more comfortable position, snuggling back closer to him.
This isn't how I'd pictured us sleeping together. Tom was supposed to be cuddled against me, my arms wrapped protectively around him. I wonder if Tom knew what I had in mind and that's why he did this. I wouldn't put it past him.
I'm finally able to relax enough to start to drift off, my eyes growing heavier and heavier. I'm about to sink into oblivion, when Tom's arm suddenly snakes around my waist, and he nestles right up against me, his face burrowing into the back of my neck.
I'm sure he's still asleep. "Tom?" I whisper. There's no answer.
Slowly and carefully, I roll onto my back, trying very hard not to disturb him. He snuggles into my chest with a contented sigh, throwing his arm across me and then wrapping one of his legs around mine.
Spirits! He feels wonderful. This is even better than my imaginings. I wish I could see him. Running my fingers through his hair, I pray he stays like this and doesn't move away.
I close my eyes and imagine what he must look like now, so innocent and childlike. So handsome, so incredibly... hot. No, I'm too tired to think about that. Tell that to a certain part of my anatomy.
I will myself to regain control, and then take a deep breath. I must sleep. I must push all other thoughts from my head.
Easier said than done.
I wake up slowly, feeling comfortable and warm. I feel a little disorientated, unsure of where I am and who I'm with. I'm with somebody, that's for sure. I'm snuggled up against them actually.
"Lights," I croak groggily, sitting up in surprise when nothing happens. Memory returns and I groan. I remember where we are and who I'm with. Shit!
"Chakotay?" I whisper. There's no answer, but is he asleep or just pretending? If he'd woken up and found me cuddled against him... It doesn't bear thinking about. "Chakotay?" I call softly, not wanting to deliberately wake him up.
I decide to test him. I make my voice wobble, but still whisper, just in case he really is asleep. "Chakotay, I can't stand it in here another second. I think I'm about to panic."
I hold my breath, waiting for reassurance. It doesn't come. So Chakotay really *is* asleep. Thank gods for that.
The reason I'd insisted on sleeping against the wall was so that I could remain in control of the situation. As soon as I'd fallen asleep, however, I'd ruined all that. I don't know how I managed to get in the position I was in with Chakotay, but I'm just relieved that he didn't wake up to find me like that.
I climb off the bunk as gently as possible, so as not to wake him, the need to pee my first priority. Once finished, I grope my way to the door and investigate it thoroughly, looking for any weakness. I can't find anything. There's nothing on this side at all.
I get down on my hands and knees, trying to figure out how the damn thing opens. It swings inward, but I can feel no hinges of any kind. There's not even a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. If there had been, at least a little bit of light may have seeped in.
A slight rustling behind me alerts me to the fact that Chakotay's waking up. "Tom?"
"By the door."
At that exact moment the door opens forcefully, knocking me in the head and sending me flying backwards. As the light flows over me, darkness descends.
To Be Continued..