Chakotay paused outside the door, hand almost touching the chime. //Look, it's easy! Just go in, tell him that you're there if he needs to talk, tell him you'd like to help... then take it from there. See! Easy!//
"Forge ahead!" Badger had told him.
He pressed the chime.
Tuvok snarled, twisting towards the sound.
"Tuvok, it's Commander Chakotay. I'd like to talk to you."
Chakotay...? Commander Chakotay...?
Logic forced its way up through the sea of emotion. Tuvok took a deep breath, pushing himself unsteadily to his feet. < < I am Lieutenant Commander Tuvok of the Starship Voyager... > > he finally reminded himself.
The chime sounded again, "Tuvok, can I come in? It's Commander Chakotay. I really would like to talk to you."
< < Lieutenant Commander Tuvok of the Starship Voyager...> > He straightened his clothing. "Computer, unlock the door." He took another deep breath, "Come in, Commander."
The door opened and Chakotay walked through. Tuvok forced himself not to look away, the concern in the Commander's eyes burning into him, hammering against the tenuous hold in logic.
"I just..." the Commander began, then looked away, taking a step forward, "Tuvok! The candle!"
The Vulcan turned, following the human's gaze. The flame still burned on the candle, singeing the carpet and dripping wax into the pile. Tuvok looked at it uncomprehendingly for a moment then started to move. But Chakotay was already passed him, picking up the candle and putting it back on the table.
"I was meditating," Tuvok tried. "I... stumbled... as I rose to my feet."
"Oh, I see." Chakotay said.
But Tuvok knew from the Commander's tone that Chakotay knew he was lying. Anger surged. He clenched his fists to his side, battling to stay in control. < < Emotion is illogical! > >
The Commander was talking again. Tuvok watched as he reached back down to the floor to lift the delicate little tray on which the incense had burned. Logic told him to tell the Commander to stop, not to touch the tray, to explain that it had been a gift from T'Pel. But before the words were uttered, Chakotay had lifted the tray.
Anger exploded. With a howl of rage, Tuvok launched himself at the Commander. Chakotay sensed the motion, tried to move, but Tuvok had already reached him, slamming into him and driving them both onto the floor. Chakotay fought off the blows, struggling to get away, but human strength was no match for enraged Vulcan power.
A knee slammed into his ribs, robbing him of breath. The full weight of the Lieutenant Commander slammed down onto him again and there was a sudden stab of pain as he felt something give inside his chest. And then an even more agonised stab of pain as Tuvok's fingers locked onto his face, forcing a meld. He tried to fight, to stop the forced intrusion, terror sweeping through him. But the Vulcan shoved brutally into his mind, ripping through it in waves of anger, pain, grief and despair.
Tuvok woke slowly. He opened his eyes, unable at first to remember who or where he was. And then he realised he was lying on the floor of his quarters... on Voyager... Something had happened, something about T'Pel...
For a brief moment he felt an illogical surge of emotion as he sensed the touch of her mind through their link. And then confusion took its place as he realised the touch was not T'Pel's...
Slowly he pushed himself into a sitting position, trying to remember what had happened. Weary and drained he shoved himself to his feet, turning back towards the table, intending to light the candle to meditate. But then he saw the crumpled figure lying on the floor curled into a ball.
He took a step towards him, taking a breath to call for help. But the memories rushed suddenly back at him. His legs gave way and he crashed onto his knees as he remembered everything. Chakotay's offer of help, the sudden rush of anger, the meld...
Abhorred, sickened by the enormity of his actions he scrambled back, drawing his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arm round them, his eyes never leaving the still, broken figure of Chakotay. He had to get help, he had to call for help. But his mouth wouldn't open, his throat wouldn't work.
< < Logic! Logic! I must search for logic! > > But he had violated another mind, forced himself inside... < < Emotion is illogical, it serves no purpose. It makes me weak. Think! Calm yourself! Turn back to logic! > >
From deep within his subconscious he heard the guiding, unruffled, placid voice of his old mentor, < < Do not allow the distress to weaken you. Examine the details logically. You can do nothing to change the events that have occurred...> >
He caught hold of the words, clinging to them. Slowly, the calm of logic crept through him and he embraced it, letting it clear his mind. From somewhere far away he heard himself saying, "Computer! Medical Emergency!"
And then he was moving, crawling quickly across to Chakotay, his hand steady as he reached out, checking the Commander's neck for a pulse. Weak and thready it trembled beneath his touch. A small trail of blood wept from Chakotay's mouth.
"What happened?" the Doctor's voice asked as the EMH appeared behind him.
Tuvok turned, "The Commander was attacked."
The EMH dropped to his knees beside the Vulcan, tricorder already running, "Traumatic penetration of the lung... haemothorax... blood pressure..." He broke off, slapping at his com badge, "Doctor to Bridge, emergency beam out to sick-bay!"
* * * *