Since I have been at a standstill on this one for sometime, I decided to give you guys an update rather than making you wait for me to get past my stuck point. I had stopped writing for a bit all together, and am just now getting back into it more. I've been stuck at the end of this part for some time but now, instead of trying to work on this bit, I am working on ideas past it. Hopefully I'll get unstuck soon so I can put it all together! Thanks for being patient, or at least trying to be patient!
Worf rang the bell at her door about fifteen minutes later. Tasha tried to yell for him to enter, but her voice was too weak. She slid out of the bed and crawled towards the door, but only made it a few feet before she collapsed. As the chime sounded again, she told the computer to open the door.
Worf walked into Tasha's quarters, surprised when he didn't see Tasha standing there. "Tasha?" he called out. A weak voice answered him. "Here." He looked towards the bedroom and spotted Tasha on the floor. Worried, he rushed over and knelt beside her. "I'm sorry, I'm just so weak." She kept her eyes downcast, obviously embarrassed. Worf gently worked his arms under her and picked her up. He placed her back into her bed, covering her with the sheet. She turned her head away. He sat on the edge of the bed and took one of her hands in his. Her small, pale hand was a contrast to his large, dark one. "Some warrior I am," she muttered. Worf gave a small growl. "Tasha, you are a warrior. Being afflicted with something you cannot control doesn't change that. You face your death as bravely as any warrior could." "Bravely? All I do is cry Worf, how is that brave?" "Being brave isn't always about keeping your emotions hidden, Tasha." She turned her head to look at her friend. Shadows of different emotions moved across her face. Finally, she nodded. "You're right Worf." She squeezed his hand that held hers still. "Thank you for always helping me to see that 'other' side of life."
"You and I both grew up seeing the violent side of life. I was a bit more fortunate that you, in that I have foster parents that love me and raised me as their own… even if they are human. You never even knew your parents, did you?" Tasha shook her head slightly. "My mom died when I was five. I barely even remember her. And what I do remember… well, those aren't the best memories to have of a parent. I never knew my father." She hesitated there, clearly debating something. "I have a sister." Worf looked up, shocked. "A sister? Where is she now?" "I don't know. I don't even know if she's still alive. She was just a babe when our mom died. If it weren't for the old woman that took us in, we would have both been dead in a matter of time. When the old woman died, I was barely 12. I did my best to take care of Ishara and myself. Didn't work too well, as the rape gang caught me just the very next day." Tasha trembled at the memory. Worf squeezed her arm gently. "I'm just glad Ishara was too young to be of interest to them. When I was 15, and Ishara 10, Starfleet came. I knew I was destined to go with them, something inside of me told me that. But Ishara… she refused to leave. She called me a coward for leaving, for not trying to save our planet. She was too young to understand. I was torn between leaving her there and going with Starfleet. It's obvious which I chose. Last I heard, Ishara joined one of the major gangs at the age of 12. I never heard from her again after that." A tear trickled down her cheek. Worf hesitantly reached up and brushed it away.
Tasha shifted uncomfortably in the bed. "Worf, would you help me to the couch, or a chair? I can't stand lying down any longer." Worf nodded. He helped her stand, and she leaned heavily against him. When she stumbled on the first step, he gently picked her up, cradling her in his arms. She rested her head against his chest, giving a soft sob, frustrated over her weakness. Worf sat down on the couch with her still in his arms, intending to place her beside him. When he went to move her, however, she tightened her arms around his neck in a silent plea to stay. He granted her wish, quietly holding her close.
Tasha broke the silence. "Worf, I…" she paused to sit up, so that she could meet his eyes. "I need to finish saying my goodbyes to the rest of the senior staff." Worf nodded, understanding. "Would you like me to call someone for you?" "Yes, please. Could you ask Deanna to come here?" Worf contacted Deanna and spoke quietly to her. As soon as Deanna acknowledged the request, Worf gently lifted Tasha and moved her to the end of the couch, where he propped her up with pillows. Grabbing a blanket from nearby, he covered her to keep her warm. Worf knelt down beside the couch. "Before I leave, I need to ask you something Tasha." Worf quickly explained the Klingon death ritual to Tasha, and asked her permission for him to perform it after her death. "I would be honored Worf," she replied, as a tear fell down her cheek. Without thinking, Worf leaned over and gave Tasha a chaste kiss on her lips. Soon as he realized what he was doing, he pulled back, embarrassed. Tasha reached up and gently ran her fingers down his face as he opened his mouth to apologize. "Don't," said Tasha, moving her fingers to his lips. "That was too sweet to apologize for." Worf gave a low, sorrowful growl. Grabbing her hand from his lips, he kissed her inner wrist and stood. "Deanna should be here any second," he said, his voice rough. He turned to leave. As he reached the door, Tasha called out to him. "Worf," she said. He turned and met her eyes. "Thank you," she said, "for everything." He nodded once and stepped out the door.
In the corridor, Worf paused and leaned against the wall, closing his eyes. He opened them a moment later when he felt a gentle hand on his arm. Deanna's liquid brown eyes stared up at him. "Worf, are you alright?" He nodded, and Deanna knew better than to pursue the issue. "How's Tasha?" she asked. Worf looked away as he replied. "Not good. She's getting weaker." Deanna sensed the emotional conflict within the Klingon. She squeezed his arm. "I guess I should go in now." Worf met her eyes again briefly before he strode off down the corridor. Deanna watched him for a second, worried about the Klingon. She pushed those thoughts aside and went into Tasha's quarters.
Tasha looked up when she heard the door open. She smiled to see beautiful Deanna walk in. Deanna returned her smile as she pulled up a chair next to the couch. She took Tasha's hand in hers. "How are you feeling, Tasha?" "Like hell," the blonde replied. Deanna stroked Tasha's arm, comforting her some. "Worf kissed me." Deanna's mouth opened in shock at the random statement. "He what?" Tasha grinned at her, a girlish sparkle in her eyes. "He kissed me. On the lips! He tried to apologize, but I wouldn't let him. It's just my luck that I have just hours left to live and a man kisses me." She giggled, and Deanna joined in. "Well, was he a good kisser at least?" Deanna kept the lighthearted conversation going, wanting to give her friend as much happiness as she could.
The two women chatted happily for some time. Eventually, Deanna sensed Tasha's sadness grow stronger. "Tasha, what is it?" Tasha sighed. "I don't have much time left." "Then it is time I left, so that you can finish your goodbyes. Who do you have left to talk to?" "Captain Picard and Will." "I see. I'll speak to Captain Picard on my way to my cabin." "Thanks Deanna." Tasha gave her friend a beautiful smile. Deanna leaned down and hugged her tight, whispering in her ear. "I will miss you so much Tasha. I love you, my friend." When she pulled back, Tasha had tears in her eyes. She gripped Deanna's arm. "I love you too Deanna." Deanna wiped her own tears as she walked out the door. She stopped by Captain Picard's quarters on the way to her own. He looked worn when he greeted her at the door. "Tasha asked that you visit her in her quarters, sir." "I see." Captain Picard pressed his lips together. "Thank you, Counselor. I will go to see her now." Deanna watched the stoic Captain as he headed towards Tasha's cabin. She could sense the pain he was hiding, and she sighed.
Captain Picard paused outside Tasha's door and took a deep breath. When he entered her quarters, he panicked momentarily – Tasha was stretched out on the couch, her eyes closed. Picard rushed to her side. He spoke her name as he reached down to check for her pulse. As his hand touched her neck, her eyes opened. He dropped to his knees beside the couch, relieved. Tasha saw the look on his face and immediately knew what he had been thinking. "Sorry, sir," she said, her soft voice wavering. "I didn't mean to scare you." "Don't apologize, Tasha," said Picard, as he kissed her forehead. "And don't call me sir. I am your father now." Tasha smiled up at him. "Yes, father." He felt a tingle go through him when she called him father. He returned her smile. "How are you feeling?" "Tired," she replied. He took her hand in his and they sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes.
He watched her, his thoughts racing. "A penny for your thoughts," said Tasha. Picard smiled at her use of the old Earth phrase. He felt her cool fingertips pressed against his palm. His eyes burned. "I just can't help but to wish we had more time, Tasha." He paused, obviously deciding how to voice his feelings. "I wish I could have been a father to you sooner." She smiled and unshed tears sparkled in her eyes. "But you have been, sir… sorry, father." She blushed at the mistake but went on. "You may not realize it, but you are a father figure to many on this ship, including most of the senior staff. They may not realize it themselves. We all look up to you. We seek your approval, and we fear disappointing you." Picard nodded thoughtfully. "I can see that. However, that is not what I meant. I wish I could have adopted you the moment we started working together on the Enterprise." He squeezed her hand gently and shifted his weight a bit to get comfortable. "I saw the sadness in your eyes when we first met. I didn't understand it until I reviewed your file. I was amazed to read what you had endured growing up." Tasha gave a half shrug. "I didn't know anything different. I thought it was normal to be alone, to endure the rape gangs. When I was rescued, it was a whole new world. And when I got this posting, I was in awe. Watching the families on this ship brought back a lot of the pain of my childhood. Deanna and Will saw it, and they both tried to help me cope with the new feelings I was having. After time, it got a little better. But nothing has taken away the hurt I feel when I see a father, mother and child happily spending time together." A tear slipped down her cheek. "I guess I should tell you this too. I have a sister." "A sister?" Picard sounded as surprised as Worf had. "Where is she?" Tasha went on to explain the story as she had to Worf. When she was done, Picard squeezed her hand. She returned the squeeze and Picard felt how weak she had become. Remembering that she had to say goodbye to Will still, he stood. Leaning down he kissed her cheek and spoke softly, "I love you, my daughter." Tasha looked shocked for a second. She recovered, and her voice trembled as she replied, "I love you, father."
Picard left Tasha's quarters after telling her that he would send Will to see her. In the corridor he palmed the nearest console and inquired as to Will's whereabouts. Surprisingly, Will was on the bridge. Picard headed there. A sudden hush fell over the bridge when he stepped off the turbolift. Picard got the feeling they had been discussing something important when he showed up. For once, the Captain didn't care. He noticed how they scrambled to their stations and tried to look busy. "As you were, everyone," he said, as he strode down the ramp. Will was in his chair. Picard met his eyes, not bothering to hide the sorrow in his own. "Tasha would like to see you, Will." Will nodded and stood, heading for the turbolift. After two steps, he realized his mistake. He stopped mid-stride and looked at his captain. "Request permission to be dismissed, sir." "Granted," said Picard. He watched Will leave the bridge. Turning to go into his ready room, he spoke to Data. "Data, have a relief crew ready to take over bridge functions at a moments notice." Data opened his mouth as if to speak, but thought better of it. He nodded, "Aye, sir." Picard stepped into his ready room. Deanna watched after him, worry shadowing her eyes.
Will went straight into Tasha's cabin when he got there. Tasha was facing away from him when the door opened, but she quickly turned to look at him. He saw the tears streaming down her cheeks. He knelt down beside her. Taking her face gently in his hands, he leaned down and lovingly kissed her forehead. She looked into his eyes when he moved back, and saw the exhaustion in his face. Tasha realized exactly how much of a toll this was taking on Will. He was sacrificing everything to be there for her, and to be strong for her. "Will, I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me." She ran her fingers down his face. He caught her hand in his and held it. "I only wish I could do more, Tasha." She gave him a smile.
They were quiet for a minute. Will broke the silence. "I am going to miss you so much, Tasha." He fought back the tears that threatened to fall. Tasha noticed and pulled her hand free from his, reaching up to gently run her fingers down his cheek again. A single sob escaped him before he regained control of his emotions. He helped her move up on the couch a bit and slipped behind her, carefully putting his legs on either side of hers. She leaned back against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her.
They stayed that way for almost fifteen minutes before Tasha shifted to lie on her side. Her voice was almost a whisper when she spoke. "Do you remember when you came aboard the Enterprise from Farpoint Station Will?" Will grinned even though she couldn't see it. "How could I forget it? I was so nervous, and Captain Picard didn't exactly make my first day easy!" He squeezed her closer to him. "Plus, I was greeted by you, how could I forget meeting such a wonderful woman?" She smiled, embarrassed at his comment. "I was nervous too, at meeting you. I wanted to impress you, and I hoped we would get along since I knew we'd often be on away missions together." "It was just the beginning of many adventures together. Remember Lutan? He wanted you as his First One, but Yareena wasn't too happy with that idea." "That was horrible Will. I didn't want to fight her, I was scared I'd slip up and she would win. Not only would I have died, but so many others would have without the plague vaccine!" "But you did win," countered Will. "Yes, and then I had to worry that Dr. Crusher wouldn't be able to save Yareena." She sighed. "I'm very glad that all worked out in the end." "Me too," said Will, resting his chin on top of her head.
Tasha gave a quiet chuckle at her next memory. "Remember Angel One and Mistress Beata? That was such a sexy outfit she had you wear." Will laughed, remembering how Tasha and Deanna had erupted in giggles when they first saw him in the native Angel One outfit. "If you want to talk about the embarrassing memories, let's change the topic to a certain drunken security chief seducing an android." Tasha playfully punched at his arm. "We've covered that topic way too many times Will," she laughed. The two of them reminisced for the next hour over the various missions they had been on since Farpoint Station. After more humorous stories of the crew when they were afflicted with the Tsiolkovsky virus, they lapsed into silence. Tasha plucked at Will's uniform sleeve, obviously in deep thought. She spoke a moment later. "Will, when Q gave you his powers and you gave gifts to prove your power and how good it was… what would your gift to me have been?" Will smiled sadly, slipping his fingers into Tasha's hair and lightly massaging the back of her neck. "Love," he said simply. "Love?" she asked. "Of all the things in the universe that I could have given you Tasha, I sensed that love would mean the most to you. The love of a father, a mother, a sibling. The love you could only feel for a lover, and the love you would receive from him in return. I wanted you to know the true happiness that comes with love." Will felt Tasha's body shake as she cried softly. "Will, you did give me that in the end." She shifted so that she could look up into his eyes. "You didn't need Q's powers to love me as a friend and to allow me to love you as well. You have been a true friend, and there are no words I can find to express my gratitude for having you in my life. I love you, Will." Tears filled Will's eyes as he replied. "I love you too, Tasha." Leaning down, he softly kissed her lips, tasting her tears on them. He wrapped his arms around her again, holding her close.
As he held Tasha, Will noticed that he could hear her breathing. At first, he thought she was just upset, but within seconds she was gasping for air. Will quickly gathered her in his arms and headed towards sickbay. Just a few steps down the corridor Tasha slipped unconscious. Will fought to quell the fear rising in him. He ran into Deanna just before the turbolift. "Will! What's wrong? What happened?" "She was having problems breathing," he said, his own breath short from carrying Tasha. Deanna checked Tasha's pulse and breathing as the turbolift started to move. "She's still breathing, and her pulse is steady but fast." The lift doors opened. "I'll tell Dr. Crusher." Will nodded once as Deanna raced off down the corridor. He followed as quickly as he could.
Bev looked up as Deanna rushed into her office. "Deanna?" The stricken look on Deanna's face told Bev that something was wrong, and Bev knew it had to be Tasha. She stood and moved towards the counselor. "It's Tasha," said Deanna. She filled Bev in on what had happened. Bev gathered a few items from her office and headed out into sickbay. "Have Will bring her to the second isolation chamber." Deanna nodded, and waited for Will just outside Bev's office.
Bev quickly prepared the isolation chamber for Tasha. She had picked the isolation chamber to give Tasha her privacy. She sighed softly as she arranged instruments on the table and loaded the computer with Tasha's last scan information. She glanced up when Will rushed in, Deanna trailing behind him. Bev gestured to the bed and Will gently laid Tasha on it. Bev quickly scanned the young woman, careful to keep her emotions from showing on her face. She applied a hypospray to Tasha's neck, and Tasha's eyes soon fluttered open. "Bev…" she paused, licking her dry lips. "Thank you." Bev gave her a tight smile and nodded. Deanna moved to Tasha's side as Bev headed out of the isolation chamber, giving Will a meaningful look on the way. Will glanced over at Tasha before following the doctor out.
In Bev's office, Will stood and waited. Bev fidgeted with stuff on her desk as she spoke. "She has maybe three or four hours Will. She will be unconscious within the next hour." Her voice was tight with unshed tears. Will blinked hard to keep his own tears under control. He tapped his combadge. "Riker to Captain Picard." "Picard here," came the reply. "Sir, recommend that the backup crew take over bridge duties at this time, and the senior crew report to sickbay." There was a long silence. Will started to worry the transmission hadn't gone through when Picard's voice rang out again. "Acknowledged Commander. We will be there shortly. Picard out." Will met Bev's eyes briefly before heading back to Tasha's side.
Tasha watched Will as he walked back into the room. Deanna was on her left side, so Will headed to the opposite side, taking her right hand in his. He entwined his fingers with hers, and she responded by gently squeezing his hand. Will leaned down and kissed her forehead. As he brushed stray hair away from her cheek, he noticed that her eyes reflected a newfound acceptance of her fate. Will felt his heart pounding in his chest. Tasha's eyes darted to the doorway and Will looked up to see the rest of the senior crew, led by Captain Picard, file into the room. They all glanced nervously around, awkward and afraid. Deanna moved back a step to allow Captain Picard to take her place beside Tasha. Worf stood slightly behind and to the left of his Captain, while Data and Geordi moved over to Will's side of the bed. Bev kept to the head of the bed, keeping constant watch on Tasha. And young Will hovered just inside the doorway.
Tasha looked up at her friends that surrounded her and smiled sadly. "Thank you all for being here, and for being there the past 48 hours." She felt her eyes tear up and paused, taking a deep breath. "I love you all so much. I can only hope I gave back half as much as I gained from all of you." "You gave more, Tasha," said Picard, his voice soft. Murmurs of agreement were heard throughout the room. Tasha blushed and squeezed her captain's hand. "My life may be short, but, for the time I was in Starfleet, it was rich. You all know where I grew up and what I dealt with there. Starfleet saved me from that. And since I have been on the Enterprise, I've discovered what a home truly feels like, thanks to all of you." Her eyes filled with tears. Emotion swept through the room, and the rest of the crew moved closer to the bed.