|Lost and Found
Tom looked down at the man lying in the bed, and frowned. Chakotay had closed his eyes again, and was ignoring him. Gently, he touched Chakotay's shoulder. "Chakotay? Please. Look at me," he requested softly. "Talk to me."
Chakotay sighed, and slowly shook his head. "I don't have the strength for this, right now," he whispered hoarsely. "Just leave me alone, Lieutenant. Let me sleep."
"No." Tom increased his grip on Chakotay's shoulder, and urged him on to his back. "I've been worried to death about you, Chakotay," he stated, gazing down at the older man's bruised face. "So, don't do this to me. I can't take it. Talk to me. Please."
"About what?" Chakotay asked gruffly, looking up at Tom through half-open eyes. "About how you gave away information to save yourself? Do you want to talk about *that*?"
"What? What the hell are you on about?" Tom demanded, swallowing heavily at the anger and disappointment that was clearly showing on Chakotay's face. Where the hell had the Commander got this idea from? Tom shook his head. Okay, apparently he *had* inadvertently told Telsesh whatever it was he wanted to know, but he hadn't given the Nahldarian the information in order to save his own skin! "It wasn't intentional, Chakotay," he insisted forcefully. "I didn't realise. I thought he was helping. I...." A lump formed in his throat. "You'd disappeared. He said he'd found you. He brought me here to see you, but... I don't know. It was a trap, I guess." He stopped talking for a moment, and turned away from Chakotay. "I trusted him. I was wrong. I'm sorry."
Chakotay gave a soft snort. "Whatever, Paris," he muttered, turning back towards the wall and closing his eyes again. "Just leave me alone."
Tom reeled as though he'd been physically slapped - the pain he felt was tangible. Blinking back tears, he gazed down at Chakotay, while Telsesh' words echoed inside his head. 'You're a fool, Tom Paris. A real fool.' It was probably the only truth that the Nahldarian had spoken. All the rest had most likely been lies. It was so obvious now - Chakotay was never going to be interested in a failure like him; he wasn't good enough for the honourable and proud Commander. Tom's control, along with his heart, shattered at the realisation.
Pitiful sobs filled the tiny room as Tom sank, shaking, to the floor, his head resting face-down on the bed, and his arms wrapped around his knees. There wasn't a single thought in his head now; he was beyond thinking - this was just pure emotion. Tears of despair ran non-stop, soaking the crisp, white sheet that Chakotay was lying on, but his distress went unnoticed by the lightly-snoring Commander who had fallen asleep as soon as he'd finished speaking.
Tom had no awareness of time, or anything else, as he cried continuously, giving vent to the anguish that consumed him. Finally, though, his exhausted body could take no more, and he drifted into an uneasy slumber, his breaths coming in short, shuddering gasps, even as he slept.
It was Chakotay who awoke first, several hours later. Shifting in the bed, his arm brushed against something solid, and he sleepily turned to see what it was. He wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted him, however; the 'something solid' was Tom, and he was the picture of abject misery.
Chakotay slowly eased himself upright, and gazed down worriedly at the sleeping Lieutenant. Tom was clinging, shirtless, to the side of the bed, his red and puffy face streaked with dried tears, and his breathing was ragged; he looked as though he'd cried for hours.
Chakotay leaned forward, and gently ran his fingers along the ridge that curved around Tom's right eye, desperately wondering what had happened to upset the younger man so much, and concerned that he, himself, had slept through the entire episode. He really wanted to wake Tom up and talk to him, but sleep looked to be exactly what the younger man needed right now, so he decided against talking - that could wait. Instead, he climbed out of bed and carefully manoeuvred Tom into his arms, and a moment later, settled himself and Tom under the covers. Then, hugging the younger man tightly to him as he gently stroked Tom's back, he drifted off to rejoin him in sleep.
Eyes still closed, Tom smiled, and snuggled in closer to the warm body that was wrapped around his. This was definitely the way he liked to start the day - feeling safe, comfortable, and in the arms of the man he loved. If only every morning could start this way.
With a start, Tom's eyes flew open, sudden recollection of earlier events, waking him instantly. Shit! What the hell had he done now? How had he managed to crawl into bed with Chakotay? Well, if the Commander hadn't hated him before, he certainly would now! He had to move away before Chakotay woke up; he couldn't bear to see the loathing that he knew would be on the older man's face once Chakotay realised who was hugging him: Tom Paris - the traitor. Quickly, but carefully, he extricated himself from Chakotay's arms. Seating himself on the edge of the bed, he rested his elbows on his knees, and his head in his hands, as he willed the erection he sported to subside.
"Tom? Are you okay?"
Chakotay's quiet voice, and the large, warm hand that began to gently rub his back, startled him, and he swung round to face the Commander. He was lost for words, though, and just stared at Chakotay as the older man studied his face.
"Tom? What is it?" Chakotay enquired softly. "What's wrong?"
Tom frowned; Chakotay looked genuinely concerned, and it puzzled him. Didn't the Commander realise how much he'd hurt him with his earlier accusation? He stayed silent, unable to put into words just what Chakotay's lack of faith in him meant - how much it upset him. Chakotay believed he'd given Telsesh information in return for his own safety - how could the Commander think so little of him? Whatever he said in his defence, Chakotay would never understand, so, even though the older man seemed worried about him, why bother trying to explain? It would just be a waste of his breath.
"Tom. Please. What's wrong?" Chakotay asked again. He reached out to touch Tom's arm, but the younger man flinched, then quickly stood up, averting his gaze. Chakotay became increasingly worried. This wasn't like Tom at all. What had Kenthah's men done to him? Maybe the use of Tom's rank would have more effect. "Lieutenant. Sit down," he instructed. "I want you to talk to me. Now."
After hesitating briefly, Tom complied, and perched on the foot of the bed - as far away as he could possibly get and still follow the order, Chakotay realised. "Look at me, Lieutenant," he commanded. Tom sighed, but did as he was told. He looked up to see Chakotay anxiously studying him. "What happened, Tom? What did Kenthah's men do to you?" Chakotay enquired gently.
Tom was completely mystified by the question, and reacted accordingly, his resolve to stay silent, entirely forgotten. "Kenthah's men? What the fuck have *they* got to do with anything?" he queried angrily. "It was Telsesh that brought me here. Kenthah's men took *you*, not me."
Tom's words confused Chakotay, totally. "Telsesh? I don't understand, Tom," he said, puzzled. "Why would *he* bring you here?" He paused, thinking. "The last time I saw you, we were together at Telsesh' club; what happened to you?"
"Nothing," Tom stated, shaking his head. He could feel his emotions bubbling up inside of him again, so he took a few deep breaths, wanting to calm himself before continuing. "I talked to Telsesh after you left for the rest room, and he explained a few things to me. Although, after what's happened, I'm not sure how much truth there was in anything he said. But, that aside, when you didn't return, I went looking for you. I couldn't find you; you'd disappeared. After a bit of detective work, we came to the conclusion that you'd been taken by one of Kenthah's men - a guy named Gelvash."
"Yes. I know that name," Chakotay remarked, reflectively. "I heard someone mention it when I first arrived here."
Tom frowned, a thought niggling him. "When *did* you arrive here? Because Telsesh told me that he'd arranged for some of his friends to get you away from Kenthah, and that you'd been brought to this place today. Or, at least I *think* it was today; I'm a bit hazy about how much time has passed."
"What does it say on that watch you're wearing?" Chakotay asked, pointing to the small timepiece that Tom still had strapped to his wrist.
Tom checked the display, and shook his head, perplexed. "This doesn't make any sense," he muttered, looking up at Chakotay. "I'm sure it's been more than three hours since Telsesh brought me here, but this doesn't seem to agree. In fact, it's got to be totally wrong," Tom remarked. "It still insists that today is the same day that you and I left to look for Telsesh, but there's no way that *that* can be right. He left me on my own for nearly a day and a half, so...."
Chakotay sighed heavily, and lightly rubbed his hand across his forehead. Nothing seemed to be making any sense at all. "I think we need to start from the beginning," he said after a moment's thought. "Tell me exactly what happened, and everything that Telsesh said to you from the moment I left to go to the rest room. Perhaps we'll be able to figure out what's going on, then."
"Okay. I'll tell you what I remember." Tom made himself a little more comfortable on the bed, and began to relate his experiences.
By the time Tom had finished, Chakotay was looking very thoughtful. "Let me just get a couple of things straight, Tom. Did you check your watch properly the second time Telsesh returned to the room he'd left you in? Or did you just accept his word about how long he'd been gone for?"
"I checked my watch, but...." Tom trailed off as he remembered that what his watch had displayed and what Telsesh had told him, hadn't agreed. "He told me he'd been gone for twenty-six hours, and I believed him, despite the fact that my watch said he'd left only two hours earlier." His face showed his complete confusion. "Why the hell would I do something like *that*? Fuck! I'm even more of a fool than I thought I was!"
"I think you were drugged, Tom," Chakotay remarked, moving closer to him. "Think about it. You've already told me that Amshev gave us drinks containing a substance which heightened our emotions according to what stimuli we were exposed to, so perhaps Telsesh added that drug, and possibly another, to the food or water that he left for you. If I'm right, it would explain a few things."
"Such as the way that Telsesh was able to manipulate you into trusting his word over the facts in front of you, for a start. Although, we still can't be certain that your watch is showing an accurate time; Telsesh may have altered it while you were asleep - while you were in a *drug-induced* sleep. That might also explain what happened to your phaser and tricorder; I think he removed them while you were suffering the effects of whatever it was he gave you."
"Yeah," Tom agreed distractedly. His mind had been elsewhere from the moment that Chakotay had mentioned the word 'trust'.
"I don't suppose it was the cause, but perhaps the drug was also a contributing factor in the emotional scene you obviously experienced while I was asleep," Chakotay suggested gently. "Can you tell me what it was that started it, Tom?" he queried. "What upset you?"
Tom was quiet for a moment, not really wanting to voice the memory of Chakotay's words to him, but he knew the Commander wouldn't let it rest until he'd answered. "You thought I'd deliberately betrayed you," he stated quietly, closing his eyes. "You accused me of supplying information in order to save myself. You *know* I'm not like that, or, at least, you *should* know. I honestly thought we'd got past all that years ago." He sighed heavily, then looked up at Chakotay. "I tried to explain to you what had happened, but you wouldn't listen; you told me to leave you alone, and then you just ignored me and went to sleep. You hurt me, Chakotay. A lot. Although, I don't really know why I reacted quite as strongly as I did. Perhaps you're right. Perhaps Telsesh has been giving me drugs with every item of food or drink I've consumed. I just don't know."
Chakotay sat silently, trying to recall the things that Tom had told him he'd done. "I wasn't really thinking straight when I first saw you again," he said a few moments later. "The last thing I really remember is being told that I wasn't going to be questioned any more because Kenthah had all the information he needed. I don't know who it was who said that because he stayed out of my line of sight the whole time he spoke, but he knew my name when I hadn't revealed it. I was then informed by the same person that all his questions had been answered by Tom Paris. He said that you'd traded your knowledge in return for not being questioned in the same manner that I had been."
"And you believed that? You really thought I was that fucking shallow?"
"I'm sorry, Tom," Chakotay apologised, reaching out to squeeze Tom's arm. "I *know* you wouldn't deliberately do something like that, but at the time, I wasn't really myself. If I had been, I wouldn't have even *considered* such a thing. I trust you more than anyone else I know."
"Really? You really mean that?" Tom asked hopefully. "You honestly trust me?"
"Yes, Tom," Chakotay assured him. "I trust you implicitly. And I really hope you'll accept my apology for seeming to doubt you, because my words to you were as unintentional as *your* words were to Telsesh."
"And you forgive me for that?" Tom asked quietly,
"There's nothing to forgive, Tom. I think both of us are the victims of drugs, and what appears to be a double-cross; I believe that Telsesh is still working for Kenthah. I've been held here ever since I was abducted from the club; I wasn't rescued by anyone and brought here afterwards. All this talk about Telsesh returning the stolen parts to us was just a ruse to take hostages. We walked into a trap."
"So, how do we get out of it? We can't trust what my watch says, so we have no idea how long it'll be until the shield's lifted from around the planet, and even once it *has* been lifted, we have no way of contacting Voyager. No-one knows where we are, and the chances are they'll *never* know where we are, because I would be very surprised if this building didn't have shielding of it's own that prevented our ship scanning for us."
Chakotay took a deep breath, and then exhaled slowly as he considered the probable accuracy of Tom's assessment. Their situation definitely didn't look very good.
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