Chapter 1 ~ Rectification
Rating: T but eventually M (Like always)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of TNG, I just like to take them off the shelf and play with them a bit in my mind, since the writers of Star Trek neglected one of its most compelling and promising couples.
Summary: Since the incident of the Tsiolkovsky Virus, Data and Tasha have been experiencing a breakdown in communication and teamwork. Alarmed, the Federation steps in to retrieve the lost camaraderie, but will the act toward reconciliation work?
Unrequited love does not die; it's only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded. For some unfortunates, it turns bitter and mean, and those who come after pay the price for the hurt done by the one who came before. ~ Elle Newmark
The away team turned the corner, maneuvering the orphaned children through a corridor filled with the stench of sewage and cluttered trash. An abandoned building lied ahead, littered with broken glass and damaged bricks falling from its battered remains. They were no doors left upon its hinges, but the building's crippled wall's was the only refuge that offered any shelter from the pursuing renegades.
Data quickly began filing the children into the shattered construction as Doctor Crusher and Worf followed suit, keeping the children huddled down as Worf guarded the doorway. Being a mother herself, Beverly tried desperately to hover over as many children as she could, in a vain attempt to alleviate their fears.
Tasha paused, eyeing the oppressive structure, knowing that if they were cornered inside, it would be impossible to defend.
Her eyes locked with Data's. "I'm not going in there!"
"Lieutenant Yar, I do not have time to argue the pros and cons of my decision, you will do as I ask."
Tasha looked down at her tri-corder and then to the storm sewer cover that was sealed into the asphalt.
"They are a variety of tunnels below us, with your strength, you could easily remove the cover and we could get the children to a more secure location."
"The tunnels are lined with kelbonite. The ship's transporters will not be able to penetrate through the substance. We will be safer here." Data nodded toward the building. "Now, I need you to assist Dr. Crusher in beaming the children back to the Enterprise."
Tasha was appalled. "Sir, with all due respect, it would be best if I remain behind with Lieutenant Worf and yourself. After all, I am the Security Chief; it is my duty to keep every member of the away team safe."
Data snapped. "Your duty is to carry out my wishes as your superior officer, not to waste valuable time by arguing the significance of yours!"
Tasha stood stunned by his outburst, her mouth opening and then closing from the fleeting after-thought of rebuffing his orders.
Data looked past her, only to see one of the renegades hiding behind a wall, his head and arm protruding out as his phaser took aim at the rebellious Chief of Security.
Quickly, the Commander tackled her to the ground, shielding her body with his as the blast hit the side entrance of the building, barely missing Lieutenant Worf. The Klingon didn't hesitate in returning fire, hitting the rebel in the shoulder, knocking him back to the ground.
Fortunately, the two senior officers were hidden by a large dust of debris that encased itself around them, the smoke screening them from any further assaults. Data hurriedly pulled Tasha to her feet, shoving her body into the fractured structured, all the while sheltering her from the vast array of enemy fire that was recklessly commencing.
Dauntlessly, Worf continued to fire back. Once safely inside, Data reached down grabbing Tasha's hand as he motioned for Dr. Crusher to lead the children to the back of the building. Without any protests, Tasha wordlessly followed him, her eyes examining the burns in the back of his uniform where the phaser's had penetrated.
His touch wasn't soft or endearing, in fact, there wasn't any gentleness about his protective gesture. He roughly pulled her along, as if dragging an unwilling hostage to her cell, his demeanor holding an air of annoyance about it. And yet, she remained silent.
Within a matter of five minutes, the man had already saved her life twice; the least she could do is desist in her insubordination against him. The moment he was satisfied with their position, he recoiled his hand away in such a fury, that she thought he had been struck again by the insurgents. But the cold, indifferent look she received from him as he did so, quieted her fears.
"You will contact the Enterprise, report the status of our position and beam back to the ship. Do you understand, Lieutenant?!"
He wasn't really asking her opinion as much as he was demanding her obedience. She would have never thought it possible, for months she tried to wager a response from him by disobeying his every request. She would even go as far as to question his orders in front of other members of the crew, her actions, although not vocal, was nothing short of calling his ability to lead into question. But never once had he faltered in his patience toward her – until now!
Data had clearly had enough of being the brunt of her unwarranted tantrums. So reluctantly, she complied too his former wishes, despite her desire to stay behind.
As she conveyed their position, the last thing she saw as the blue beams surrounded them was Data's face set in a mixture of determination and anger, as he returned fire. As hard as she tried, she couldn't understand his decision. It would have been much more logical for her to remain behind and help in the battle. A fight that was completely and utterly unfair in its numbers.
Seventeen against two is no match for anyone, no matter how intense their training. At least the odds would have been more in their favor if she had been allowed to stay. She hated running out on a fight, much less being forced to leave one. And it was the latter that made her resent him all the more.
Besides, she had more experience in this type of situation than anyone among the senior crew. She could relate to a planet that had fallen prey to civil wars and men so caught up in combat that they neglected the needs of their own children, leaving them to fend for themselves. Just like the orphans they had just rescued, she too was a product of that type of environment. She grew up as a victim of brutality and terrorism.
As she took her position back on the bridge, she had already decided that the android would undoubtedly get a piece of her mind when he returned… 'If he returned' she thought melancholy. Dammit, if he had just let her stay, then she wouldn't be left here worrying about his and Worf's whereabouts, not to mention the evil eye she was catching from Captain Picard.
There was no way that Picard could have already been informed of her insubordination, but she was certain that since things went south, he suspected her newfound rebellious nature against the Commander had something to do with it.
And the Captain wasn't oblivious to the timing of it either. There had been many of times that he had asked her during one of her many sessions of being reprimanded, if anything had taken place between her and the android in question during that fateful day. She didn't have to inquire about the Captain's insinuation; all she had to do was think about those two words that would forever be associated with her and Data – Tsiolkovsky Virus.
She hated what those words represented. It was a memory associated with a sickening vulnerability, not to mention the denial of what was, without question, the most blissful union she had ever experienced. And then, the worst symbolism of it all, the despairing admission that it would never be reciprocated, at least to her liking.
Her declination to what had happened that day had become a diehard custom, a practiced religion. And she would rather be damned than ever succumb to it again. It was pointless, nothing more than the act of a desperate woman who was glutton for punishment, to pretend that a phlegmatic android could ever return that kind of attachment. But God, the man made love as if the potential to do so had not been properly commissioned yet.
Finally, the chirping of the Captain's communicator sounded off and Tasha let out a deep breath that she didn't even know she had been holding, as Data's amiable voice filled the bridge.
"The situation has been contained, Sir…Two to beam back to the Enterprise."
Data and Worf's arrival was a little over two hours ago and the android still refused to look in her direction.
The moment he occupied the bridge, Captain Picard and Riker had ushered Worf and Data into the ready room. Tasha watched the door anxiously, noting that fifteen minutes had passed when Worf exited the room alone, taking his position beside her at tactical, neither one speaking.
Another fifteen minutes had lapped by when the man predominantly on her mind, returned to the bridge, still refusing to acknowledge the existence of her intense gaze fixed upon him. She watched as he took his position in the Captain's chair, a sure sign that it would be a long time before Picard and Riker returned to the bridge.
Slowly, a mounting rise of panic began to stir within her being. The length of the officer's meeting; the absence of the Captain upon the bridge did not look good for her at all. No doubt that pesky butt kisser had relayed her behavior on the planet to Picard and now, the Captain and Riker were mulling over the most effective course of punishment.
The longer she stared at the back of his head, the more irritated and annoyed she became. She couldn't help but to despise the man. Why is it, that out of all the men in the universe, it would be an android that had uncovered the secrets to pissing her off?
It wasn't long before she realized two hours had passed, the ship was moving and the man she continued to shoot daggers at, still acted as if her attendance was null and void to him. She would love nothing more than to smack that indifference out of his ass, but she knew it was only an impossible feat for any woman. Sadly, he wouldn't even suffer any ill-effects from the act of violence.
Her attention was briefly broken, as the tactical station alerted her of scattered debris that lied ahead of the ship; she placed in a correction course and looked back toward the Captain's chair, only to find Data gone.
A quick hand upon her arm roughly pulled her off to the side and into the conference room. As soon as the doors closed, the android began his lecture.
"When you enter the Captain's ready room…" His eyes bore into her, daring her to defy him. "Do not argue with him. I want you to nod politely and comply too his wishes."
He turned to walk off, but then paused just short of the doors, staring at the ground for a moment. Tasha thought that she had heard him sigh audibly, but later chalked it up as her imagination. Besides, androids don't sigh in frustration or defeat.
Data turned to look at her once more, his eyes softer in their approach, almost apologetic.
"I want you to bear in mind that his orders come from Starfleet and not from him."
Haughtily, she placed her hands upon her hips, clearly agitated. "What did you do…Send me up the river?"
The android looked puzzled, his eyes darting from side to side, trying to access any prior action from his memory banks.
"I do not recall ordering you up any river?"
Tasha rolled her eyes, for the man to be capable of running sixty trillion diagnostics at once; he could be so obtuse at times.
"I meant did you report me?"
She watched in amazement as his eyes began to stare out the bay windows behind her, taking on a more somber look, as if her accusation had hurt him somehow. But then again, his ability to portray emotions was only a torturous illusion to her mind.
"No" He refused to look at her. "…Lieutenant Worf and Dr. Crusher found your behavior unsatisfactory."
"And you didn't?"
Suddenly, his eyes met hers. The desperation they held within them completely stole her breath away. A moment of silence passed between them, his eyes silently relaying a message that only they could invoke. Almost as if, he was asking something of her; whether it was forgiveness or understanding she couldn't tell.
And for a fleeting second, she wondered if he was silently pleading with her to understand why that night happened and to forgive him for not possessing the fortitude to walk away. But if that was the case, then he knew her far better than she originally had given him credit for. The thought alone was a little disconcerting, especially since he might possibly be the only other soul on board the ship privy to the reasons behind her sudden rebellious nature.
"You should be pleased to learn that I will share the same fate as you."
And with that, he turned and left, leaving her in the darkened room, its only light coming from the passing backdrop of stars filtering through the bay windows. A few seconds later and her comm badge chirped and Picard's voice was requesting her presence in his ready room.
She walked out, immediately noticing that Riker was in the Captain's chair and Data was back at his original station. Once again, he refused to look at her as she entered the ready room.
Picard looked up from his desk, his expression unreadable as he motioned for her to sit down across from him.
Quietly, he took a sip of his tea, allowing the growing silence to unsettle her.
The Captain cleared his throat, his eyes unwavering.
"Have you ever heard of the survival courses issued out by Starfleet on Delta Vega?"
She tried desperately to suppress her shock, but her visage clearly betrayed her.
"Yes, but that is only reserved for officers who are unable to maintain a mutual work ethic between one another. It is the Federation's belief that if you place two officers in extreme and peril conditions, an unbreakable bond will be formed between the two. "
"Exactly…The Federation has made a proposal that you and Commander Data undergo the program together."
"But, Sir, don't you think that's a little drastic for a minor dispute such as this? I mean the Federation only uses that hellhole for a last resort."
"Natasha, please don't try to minimize the importance of the situation. For months I have witnessed you willingly defy Commander Data, question his orders publicly, beg to be removed from away missions led solely by him." He paused a moment, raising his eyes at the mounting evidence. "Now I have tried my best to reprimand you, to infuse some type of normalcy back into the relationship between you and Mr. Data, only to no avail." He raised his hands in defeat. "I'm afraid I have no other options left."
"Okay, I get it. I'll try harder…" Tasha began desperately flailing her hands around; completely oblivious to how ridiculous she looked. "I realize that my conduct has been unbecoming of a Starfleet Officer, but just give me a chance to rectify the situation."
Picard pulled the front of his uniform down before standing.
"I have…several times, but you have refused to cooperate thus far." He leaned over his desk, almost whispering the sentiment. "Now I don't want to lose neither one of you, I respect you both and you have proven yourselves valuable to this ship time and time again. But I have to warn you, there are already talks among the Council of reassignment. Hell, I have Captain's already putting in their bids for you two."
Tasha remained silent, still reeling from the shock of her fate.
"We will arrive to our destination at ten hundred hours. Where you two will beam down and begin the required week course."
Finally, she was able to find her voice.
"A week?" Tasha protested. "But Sir, I am due to compete in a Martial Arts competition in three days. I can't be gone a week on some survival course."
Picard stared at her and suddenly, she found his gaze disheartening.
"You are going to Delta Vega, along with Commander Data, do I make myself clear?"
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
"In the meantime, you will just have to drop out of the competition. I'm sure there will be plenty of others to follow."
Tasha briskly brushed her bangs out her face; it was obvious to any man that she was frustrated with the Council's request.
"What about the Enterprise, Sir?"
Picard sighed audibly. "We have received orders to the Zed Lapis Sector where we will rendezvous with Shuttlecraft Thirteen to retrieve Counselor Troi and Lieutenant Ben Prieto."
"Aren't they returning from a conference?"
"Yes, they are…It should be a simple mission. If all goes well and nothing drastic happens, the Enterprise will be back by the end of the week."
He began walking her to the doors, as he lightly placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Where I hope to find you and Mr. Data on better terms."
Tasha tried to fake a smile, but it failed to reach her eyes, losing its sentiment.
As she exited, she spotted Worf at Tactical, this time she didn't even bother to notice Data giving her a side long glance as she passed by.
She walked over to the Klingon, agitation filling her body language.
"I can't believe you sold me out." She whispered.
Worf didn't even bother looking at her, but only continued to stare at the view screen as he answered her.
"I found your conduct lacking honor. It was not the actions of a warrior." He stated vehemently.
"Oh really, is that why you bet on me in the martial arts competition?"
Worf looked at her uncomfortably; as if she had discovered a secret she was not privy too.
"How did yo – "
Tasha held a hand up, quickly cutting him off.
"Officer Swenson told me about the ship's pool that was going around and how I was the most favored among the competitors. He also told me that the pool was started by you." She gave him a pointed look. "That's a pretty contradictory action from a Klingon who just accused me of being un-warrior like."
Worf ignored the latter of her comment. "It was a valid assumption; you are clearly far superior in your defensive tactics than all the other competitors. You are a born Bosh to-KA achee."
He looked down to see her confused features over his Klingon language. She didn't know if he was cussing or praising her.
"That is a Soldier of the Empire."
Tasha smiled at the comment.
"Well, you might want to cancel your bet."
It was his turn to look bewildered.
"The Federation is forcing Commander Data and me to undertake the survival courses on Delta Vega."
Worf nodded. "You will easily conquer the environment."
She turned to Worf and smiled. "I think I owe you an apology for my actions this morning. You're right; my conduct didn't hold any honor to it."
Worf was, as always, brutally honest, his voice deep and utterly convincing.
"No, it did not."
Tasha looked down, almost ashamed.
And then, he added.
"You still fight like a warrior." He announced proudly.
A soft lull fell between them as the Klingon was debating on relaying the rest of his comment. It didn't take him long to decide.
"You just seem to forget the honor and respect it requires to conduct yourself as one when Commander Data is around." He whispered.
Tasha refused to reply, her mind now dwelling on the truism of Worf's words and suddenly hating her inability to rightly govern her actions whenever the man in question ever came near. She had no idea how in the hell she was going to survive a week alone with him on a barren, uninhabited frozen planet. She guessed only time would tell if rectification was even possible between the two.
Author's Notes: I know I've been MIA for a while, but I promise it has been for a good reason. I plan on starting new chapters for some of my other stories, but this one refused to remain silent. So before I could move on to the others, I had to write this one first.
For those of you keeping an eye out – I plan on updating What a Tangled Web We Weave and Parallels. And some of the others which are in dire need of an update (And for you P/C fans, yes Deja Vu will be among them). Thanks for reading and if you like the progression and the idea please review!