Tides of the Heart
Part Nine: Icarus
Tom is sulking, but I have decided that it's okay, because he must be as confused as hell about what has happened between us this last 24 hours. I certainly am. He's only coping at all because we are sticking to the pretence of being strangers who are simply 'enjoying' a holiday romance. The problem is, of course, that no two strangers could ever possibly have experienced the intensity of emotion that we shared yesterday.
I'm not talking about the sex. Lots of people have wild, passionate, irresponsible sex with virtual strangers. Sometimes it's even as tinged with violence as our coupling was. Nevertheless, our passion was too tempestuous for strangers, too personal, too full of an emotion so frenzied that it was impossible to distinguish between the borders of love and hate.
That's what's bothering us both most, I think. Our *whatever* it was. I want to call it lovemaking, but it wasn't. It wasn't just sex though either. Maybe it was even hatemaking.
Now, in the wake of what we did, it is hard to resume the pretence that we are merely strangers who have shared a single day of passion. It is at the tip of both our tongues to start flinging accusations and denials at each other, and we are instead falling back on the neutral ground of me pretending to be cheerful and Tom constantly complaining.
I understand that his petulant complaints about the weather, the food, our destination, the soreness of his ass, the stupidity of me trotting the horse home, and so on and so forth, are just a way for him to start telling me the thousand real hurts that lurk in his heart. He has two decades of resentment to work through.
So I am not biting back. Much.
Besides he's actually one of those people who is cuter when he pouts. He has this tremulous lower lip, and he has chewed on it until it is bruised and puffy, which is sexy in a strange kind of way.
Since I have made him accompany me onto the hover, he thinks that we are going skiing after all, despite his very vocal protests that his ass isn't up to it. He is right. Despite a long session with a regenerator, I can't imagine that he will walk comfortably all day, let alone go skiing.
I am shocked by the amount of damage that I did him. I am more shocked that I don't really feel guilty about it. I should have felt ashamed of myself when I saw how swollen and sore he looked early this morning and still decided to wake him by caressing his ass from the inside.
But it wasn't really a matter of choice, and it wasn't even exactly enjoyable. If he thought his ass was raw, he should have seen the state of my cock.
I carried him to bed last night, and believe me, it wasn't easy to do. He isn't as skinny as he used to be, after all. So my back hurt, and my ass hurt from the riding, and the inside of my thighs was on fire from clinging to the horse, and my mouth and left tit were burning from where he had bitten me, but all of those aches were nothing next to the volcanic pressure inside my balls.
I sat on the toilet seat and it took me over an hour with a regenerator before I could finally tease the cock ring back off my groin. My scrotum was bruised almost black, and the skin on my cock was literally blistered. I hadn't even noticed the pain at the time. It was only when I was back in the hotel, and Tom was crashed out unconscious on my bed, that the endorphins fled and my blissful pleasure turned into an agonising pain.
I had come a dozen times or more, but the cock ring had prevented my ejaculation so that my bladder had filled instead, and when I could finally bear to hold my cock once more, I spent the best part of the next hour, trying to piss the cum out of my system.
By the time I felt human again, I had almost lost the magic of our joining in the first place. The pain, regenerator and toilet bowl had a sad way of making the whole experience seem suddenly sordid rather than special.
So I rejoined Tom in bed, where he was tossing and turning, as though trapped in a nightmare of regrets himself and I decided I needed to reclaim the magic for *both* of us.
He woke up as my well-lubed cock slipped easily between his still loose ass, and called me a few choice names, but he was quickly as lost in the sensations as I was, and when I came with a roar of relief, as I filled him this time with my now liberated seed, we both collapsed into an exhausted rest that this time was dream-free for both of us.
Now though, I'm so sore again that I'm no more capable of going swishing down a mountainside than he is.
I have a completely different agenda in mind, but I want to surprise him and since he isn't actually demanding the arch, just grumbling and whining, I am leaving him in suspense.
I chatter aimlessly about the wonderful view as we rise towards the mountain top, playing the tourist, and eventually he gets into the spirit of things by complaining that the view is shit, and he's vacationed in far better places, with far better views and far more interesting companions, and he is looking at me pointedly as he says it.
"So, Tom," I ask him. "Have you traveled a lot?"
"More than I ever wanted to," he says tightly, although his eyes are suddenly a little haunted.
"I would have thought, being a pilot, that you'd enjoy voyages," I counter.
"Some voyages go on too long. Sometimes people don't know when to quit," he replies.
"Quitting is never a good idea, though, is it? It just wastes the effort you have already put in to something," I argue.
"Sometimes it's best just to cut your losses."
"You a gambler, Tom?"
"I used to be," he replied, his eyes narrowing. "I lost too badly though, so I gave it up for Lent."
"That's quite a long abstinence," I say lightly, trying to mask the knife that has begun to twist in my stomach.
"Not long enough," he replies pointedly.
I close my eyes for a moment, needing to avoid his bitter glare as I gather my strength. I cannot allow myself to get drawn into his pain. One of us has to look beyond the hurt and see hope. I need to break his mood of self-pity and if the only way I can do it is by sparking his anger again, then so be it. Passion is better than depression.
"Odd that," I drawl.
"I took you for a risk taker last night," I say, a small smile deliberately playing on my lips to confuse and infuriate him.
"You took me wrong," Tom snaps.
"Oh? I thought I took you exceedingly well," I purr.
"Fucker," he hisses, flushing.
I smirk and we lapse back into silence.
Have you ever picked at the scab on a wound?
That's what I'm doing, I think. There's no other explanation I can think of for my decision to stay here in this simulation. As soon as Chakotay finished patching up my ass this morning so I could at least walk, I should have cut my losses and high-tailed out of here.
Instead, I'm sitting in this hover, with Chakotay's strange smirk mocking me, and all I want to do is call for the arch and call an end to this bizarre masquerade, yet every time I open my mouth to tell him to simply fuck off, I find myself literally biting my lower lip instead.
It's like having an itch that I can't stop scratching, even though the more I scratch, the more I itch and the worse the pain becomes. Or maybe a fatal addiction to something, like drug abuse, where you know every dose will take you nearer to destruction but you can't stop yourself doing it anyway.
That's what I'm doing maybe.
Testing myself to destruction.
Yet, oddly, I feel more alive now than I have for years. Or perhaps it isn't odd after all. It is like an adrenaline buzz. The kind you feel when you look death in the face, and your life flashes in front of your eyes, and in that moment, as your shuttle crashes to ground, or the phaser fire flashes towards you, and death might be just seconds away, you somehow feel more alive, more *real* than you have ever felt before.
Perhaps it is fatalism. That nothing could ever be worse anyway. That I can't feel anymore psychological pain than I already do, so no matter what happens, it cannot be worse than I already feel.
Physical pain, on the other hand, is a completely different ball game.
I am fucked if I will ski back down this mountain. I will come back down the way I am going up. My ass firmly placed on the thankfully padded seat of this hover car. If *he* wants to show off, then fine. I'll wave him off politely and with a bit of luck he'll break his stupid neck.
Except the holo safeties are on, of course. The only bruises and breaks that are real here are the ones that we give each other.
Even so, I saw the state of his dick this morning. It was the same dark purple as it hung in limp sadness between his thighs as it is when he is aroused. The sight was enough to make my own cock weep a little in sympathy.
It must hurt like hell in those tight ski-pants he is wearing. It'll hurt more if he tries skiing. I'm looking forward to the moment that he is on his skis, preparing to launch down the slope. I'm going to lean into his ear at the last possible moment and say something so crude and suggestive that he will get the hard-on of his life, and then I am going to get back on the hover and enjoy the thought of the way his pants will torture him all the way down the mountain.
Yeah. That's it. *That's* why I'm still here.
There's a decidedly nasty smirk on Tom's face.
At least it means he's back with the program again. He's plotting something unpleasant. Some form of payback, maybe.
Firstly it means he isn't planning to run off yet. Secondly, since he has absolutely no idea of why I am taking him up the mountain, I doubt that anything he is imagining doing will actually pan out for him.
My idea is to keep him guessing. Keep him amused. Keep him intrigued enough in the things that I think up this week, for him to at least see the whole seven days through.
I did, I admit, consider just tying him to the bed and fucking him senseless for a week, but neither of us are as young as we once were and, anyway, at some point I would have to untie him again. Besides, I made him a promise that he could leave the holodec at any time. I pointed out that if he did I would follow him but, even so, tying him up would be a breach of my promise, and I already once broke the most sacred promise of all to him. I will not add to that crime.
So I have to keep him interested and a little confused.
I groan as I pull myself to my feet as the hover lands near the summit. I have stiffened up and the idea of walking again is not a pleasant thought.
"Are you alright, Sir?" the bright-eyed stewardess asks as I limp past her towards the door. "Have you hurt your leg?"
She's only a hologram, so I decide what the fuck.
"It's not my *leg*, it's my butt," I snarl.
Her pretty holographic face does a talented impersonation of a blush.
"Horse-riding," Chakotay clarifies as he reaches the exit, giving the stewardess an apologetic smile.
"Fuck, Tay," I drawl loudly, so that all of the other (holographic) passengers turn to listen. "Your cock isn't THAT big."
Then I turn to the stewardess whose mouth is gaping in shock and give her a wink. "He likes to think he's hung like a horse, but to tell the truth, he's more of a pony."
Grinning with satisfaction, I start down the ramp, the pain of my ass almost forgotten at the sound of Tay's embarrassed splutter.
"Well, that was rude," he says lightly as he catches me up.
"Rude or crude?" I mock.
"Both," he replies.
"Good," I snap, and start limping towards the ski lodge. He doesn't follow me.
I obviously *did* piss him off, because he lets me hobble almost to the door before his voice sings out, "Tom? You're going the wrong way."
I swing around, narrowing my eyes at the smug grin that is obvious even with 12 meters of snow now between us.
"What?" I demand, angrily.
"Unless you *do* want to ski, of course," he adds politely.
"I DON'T WANT TO FUCKING SKI!" I yell.
Several of the disembarking passengers turn to look at me in evident shock and distaste at my language.
"You can all fuck off too!" I tell them.
I am pissed.
I can see from the flaming glow of Tom's cheeks that he is *not* amused, and decide it's time to tell him the real reason we are here before he decides he's had enough.
"I know you don't want to ski, Tom," I murmur placatingly, approaching him carefully because I can see him clenching his fists.
"So what the fuck *are* we doing up here?" he snarls.
"I thought we'd fly back down," I answer.
"Fly?" he asks, looking back at the hover in complete confusion as to why I would make him come all this way, just to ride straight back down again.
"No," I say gently. "I mean *really* fly."
I see something that is almost excitement in his eyes before his expression becomes guarded again, and he crosses his arms over his chest and demands, "Explain!"
"I thought we could hand-glide down to the bay," I say softly.
His eyes widen and then he limps across to the fence that separates the hover pad from the view down the mountain. We are several thousand feet above sea level and the panoramic view from this place is breath-taking. His breathing quickens as he looks at the way the mountain is formed, at the deep gullies and cliffs and his pilot's brain switches into gear as he considers the probability of air currents and eddies.
"Difficult," he whispers.
"Yeah," I agree. The idea is pretty terrifying, to be honest, now that I am looking over the edge at the sheer drop.
"There's going to be a lot of turbulence. We're as likely to smash into the mountain as get clear. There's a really strong wind off the sea," he whispers, but there is a longing in his voice, as though he has temporarily forgotten everything else. As though his desire to fly once more is suddenly more important than anything.
It's easy to say that Tom stopped being the pilot of Voyager because we needed him more as an Engineer, and that it was Charis's turn at the helm, and that flight at warp 2 would have bored him anyway.
But it's a lie.
Tom stopped flying because he lost the joy in it. He lost the joy in *everything* when I left him.
This is only a holoprogram. The safeties are on. There is no real danger here. But somehow, it doesn't feel that way. Here and now, as we stand on this cliff and consider the thought of just blindly launching ourselves off the edge, at the mercy of thin fabric wings and the vagaries of the air currents that swirl below, there is something almost sickeningly real about the fear that churns in my stomach. From the sudden excitement in his eyes as he turns to look at me at last, I realise that he feels it too.
For just this moment, at least, Tom's spark is back.
"Let's do it," he grins.
My enthusiasm wanes a little when Tay leads me to where our glider is waiting and I realise that it is designed for two men, so that we will be tightly cocooned together inside what is little more than a glorified sleepingbag harnessed onto the aluminum frame that wears the wide fabric wings.
"Are we going down naked?" I snarl, deciding that this is just Tay's unique way of wanting another poke of my ass.
"Only if you can steer and fuck me at the same time," Chakotay replies pleasantly.
I flush as I realise that as the *pilot* I need to be nearer the wings, so Chakotay will be the one underneath, with his back to my chest. Which means I just have a dirty mind after all.
Proved immediately by the fact that I start wondering about whether it *is* possible to concentrate on steering *and* fuck him at the same time. He smirks when I finally give a reluctant sigh of disappointment. Proof again that he *can* read my mind. When he can be bothered to, that is.
So we strap ourselves in the cocoon, my cock hard against his ass, but trapped behind two layers of fabric, and we hop a little awkwardly towards the edge, our wings outstretched behind us, and there is nothing in my vision except the back of his head, and a sheer drop of perhaps four thousand feet.
I can feel his heart racing, as is mine, and it takes a few moments to settle myself before I can launch us over the edge. If I time it right, if I catch an updraft as we topple off, we will be swept upwards rather than down and will then take long, lazy circles down towards the sea below.
If I make a mistake, we will smash headlong back into the cliff edge.
Perversely, I decide to give Tay no warning of my intention to launch. I enjoy his involuntary scream as he is suddenly thrust out into nothing, and we begin to plummet downwards before the wind catches our wings and we are lifted up, soaring up over the cliff edge like a huge bird.
Then I am laughing in pure joy, as the wind whips my face, and I am flying, *really* flying, and when he turns his head back over his shoulder so that he can almost face me, it is only natural that I bend my face down and kiss his soft, welcoming lips.
We cannot sustain the kiss though, because I need to watch where we are going, and the wind pressure is too great for him to keep his head twisted in my direction, so I content myself with grinding my groin against his ass, and wishing desperately that I *had* climbed in naked, or at least unzipped my fly so that I could rub myself between his strong thighs.
We are sweating so much that I can detect a definite smell of garlic and the realisation makes me laugh out loud. The sound of my laughter is stolen by the rushing wind, but I feel Chakotay tense beneath me, as my shaking obviously disturbs him. Perhaps he thinks I am crying, so I lean down and kiss the nape of his neck in reassurance.
For perhaps an hour, as we slowly circle downwards towards the bay, I am lost in a daze of pure joy. An emotion so alien to me that it almost hurts to experience it.
Perhaps that is why the other thoughts start to intrude.
I try to refuse them entrance. I try to throw up a barrier against them, but it is no use. The glorious vista of the bay is blurred by a series of images that my mind begins to play like a holovid.
Faces start to flash in front of my eyes. Harry. Megan. Jenny. Ayala. Geron. Kathryn. Seven. Tayven. Carrey. Chell. Kes. B'Elanna. Vorik. Baytart. So many faces gone for all time. So many people dead. And for what?
I forget where I am, what I am doing, even who I am with. I drown in the visions. So much pain. So much loss. So many battles won and yet one by one, person by person, we have been losing the war.
It's been pointless.
All of it.
A warm updraft catches us and we spin closer and closer towards the edge of the mountain.
"TOM," I roar in panic, as I saw the cliff-edge approaching us at terrifying speed, and I twist my face to look at him.
He looks down at me, his eyes glazed, his face streaming with tears, and then he deliberately pulls on the left control cord so that we spiral directly into the rockface.
As we crash, everything blurs. I am screaming as we smash into the jagged rocks with a tangle of wings, and the mountain disappears, as does the mangled glider, and we find ourselves tumbling in the soft sand of the beach.
It takes me a moment to catch my breath, for my rampaging heart to accept that I am not dead, after all, not even bruised, although how I haven't simply had a heart attack from sheer shock is beyond me.
"What the fucking hell did you do that for, you stupid bastard," I scream at his back.
He refuses to turn and look at me.
"The safeties were on, weren't they?" he mutters, sullenly.
"Fucker!" I snarl.
He swivels around to face me and gives me a frighteningly cold sneer.
"Pissed your pants did you, Tay?"
"Fucker," I repeat.
"How about saying something else," Tom mocks, but above his sneer, his white face is tear-stained and his eyes are terrifyingly blank, almost opaque.
My anger is quenched by his obvious distress.
"What's wrong, Tom? Why did you do it?" I ask him as gently as I can manage through teeth still chattering with shock.
He simply closes his eyes to deny me sight of his pain.
"What's wrong?" I beg, almost in tears myself now.
"EVERYTHING!" he screams suddenly, dragging himself to his feet.
For a terrible moment he looks down at me, the torments of hell itself flashing in the depths of his haunted eyes, and then he swings away and yells "ARCH!"
I panic. I don't stop to think. I just lunge for the back of his legs and before he can take more than a couple of steps towards the exit that has appeared so incongruously in the middle of the beach, I tackle him to the ground.
We roll in the sand.
He is biting, screaming, punching, kicking and this is not anger but panic on his behalf, and I understand that, and try not to hurt him as I wrestle, try not to respond to his punches with blows of my own, but I am panicking too, and before I know it, we are both swinging at each other, striking blows meant to hurt, not subdue.
There is nothing but blood and sweat and tears and pain, and the sound of fists striking flesh, and lungs gasping for breath, and sobs of pain, and anger and frustration, until we both are too exhausted to do anything but simply collapse on our backs, side by side in the sand, as our tortured lungs recover and our battered flesh seizes and stiffens into numbness.
"This is getting real fucking old, Tay," Tom finally hisses as he spits sand out of his bleeding mouth.
"I know," I gasp back. I try to sit up, but my ribs protest too much so I give in and content myself to just lie there, listening to his own fruitless attempts to move.
It is perhaps twenty minutes before he speaks again.
"We had a deal, Tay. If I want to go, you let me."
"Not until you tell me why," I reply.
"Fuck you," he spits, trying to get up again, but collapsing with a bitter groan of pain.
I roll onto my side so that I can see his face, too angry to listen to my body's scream of protest at the movement.
"WHY?" I roar. "What did I do? Just fucking tell me what I did!"
He closes his eyes to avoid me, and his voice, when it finally replies, isn't angry, it is just bitterly sad.
"Nothing. I just want to go. Please, Tay. Just let me go."
His pain crushes me, but rather than defeating me, it just makes me more determined to get to the bottom of what has just happened.
"Not until you tell me why," I tell him.
Tom sighs in defeat, too hurt perhaps to keep his pain to himself anymore.
"It's all fucked up, Tay. Everything's fucked. Don't you understand that?"
"What happened up there, Tom? Please, tell me what I did wrong," I beg.
He struggles up to a sitting position, his right arm pressed for support against his bruised stomach, his left hand gingerly wiping his face. He only succeeds in smearing sand into his bleeding lips and he winces in pain. His right eye is black and swollen. It is watering so violently that he seems to be crying one long, continual tear.
Perhaps he is.
"It wasn't about you," he whispers. "Not *everything* is always about you, you bastard."
I wince a little, but nod my acceptance of his point.
"Then what was it?" I ask.
"Kathryn," he says, and he begins to cry.
I just look at him blankly, and then the memory hits me and I close my eyes against my own sorrow. Of course, Kathryn and Leonardo's mad escape flight on a glider, so many years ago.
"I remember," I say softly.
"They're all dead, Tay. Everyone's dead."
"Not everyone," I murmur, but he's right really. The list of the dead is shattering, soul destroying. "Shit, Tom. Can't you see that's *why* we can't give up on each other?" I beg.
"It's too late, Tay. Everyone's dead. What's the fucking point anyway? Half the people on this ship have never even seen Earth and if we do get home, what's waiting for us?"
I have no answer. Our long range communications system was destroyed years ago. We have no way of even telling anyone that we are coming, let alone knowing what will greet us if we arrive. For all we know, the Maquis, and maybe even Tom, will be greeted by a prison sentence if we do get home. Even after all these years there are no guarantees. There's no Federation Statute of Limitations on Terrorism.
"We can't give up hope, Tom," I finally reply. "That's the legacy Kathryn left us. Never give up hope."
"Hope did fuck all for her, did it?" he hisses
"You're wrong, Tom. She was a Starfleet Captain and she died at the helm of her ship, fighting overwhelming odds, and she won. She died, but she won. Voyager is still here. We're still here and one day we will get home and her story will be told and she will be remembered always as one of Starfleet's finest Officers.
"If there is no other reason to go on, we owe her that much. That we take the records of our journey home. That we take the records of everyone home."
"I'm just so tired, Tay. Tired of fighting and running and hoping and losing. "
"I know, Tom. We're all tired," I say gently. "That's why we all need each other. We can't go on alone."
"I'm just so tired," Tom repeats brokenly.
"I know," I repeat, as I slide over to him and gather him into my arms, ignoring his momentary resistance, crushing him to me as though I could infuse him with my own strength and then he sags against me, his head buried into my chest.
When I finally say "Computer, cancel arch," he stiffens but says nothing, and as the first of Wuartha's twin moons appears in the twilight sky, he lets me take him by the hand, help him to his feet and then we start our long, painful stagger back to the hotel.
Continued in "OUROBOROS"
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