To The Journey
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it's not mine. This is an AU story.
This story is rated T for possible violence in later chapters.
This story is a sequel to Big Doors and Perfectly Logical, both of which I strongly recommend you read first. I may skim over some of what happened in those stories but you'll miss the depth, since I'll be writing those bits as reminders only. This story will be written on the assumption that all readers have read both prequels.
Chapter One: Missing in Action
"Bad news, Captain?"
The times Tasha had seen Captain Picard this grim were few and far between. Just by looking at his face, she could tell something was very wrong.
He surveyed the members of the senior staff. "I'm afraid so. Seven weeks ago, the USS Voyager left on a mission to pursue a Maquis ship that had disappeared. It was supposed to be a three-week mission. They have failed to report back or even check in." Picard's voice was heavy with pain that suggested a personal loss. "Starfleet has declared the crew of both ships to be missing in action, presumed dead. The names of all Starfleet personnel and all Maquis personnel confirmed to have been on the lost ship are available here." He soberly passed data PADDs to the assembled group.
During a war, officers became unfortunately accustomed to such news. But Picard and Beverly were the only officers in the room old enough to remember the fiercest days of the Border Wars with the Cardassians, when checking casualty lists and praying you didn't see a familiar name had been part of a person's daily routine. For most of them, this was shocking.
"You knew someone on that ship," Beverly said, "didn't you?"
"Yes. Her Captain, Kathryn Janeway." He glanced over at Will. "I worked with her on the mission in the Ranaeth Cluster. No offense, Number One, but she was my first choice for your position."
"None taken." Will's own voice conveyed grief. "I knew her too, at least I'd met her. A mutual friend set us up on a blind date. She ran out less than five minutes in." He chuckled through his tears. "I never did find out what it was I did."
"I was also familiar with Captain Janeway, although at the time she was not a Captain or even a member of Starfleet," Data put in. "Her father, Admiral Janeway, brought her on a trip to Mars when she was a child, which I piloted, and requested that I serve as a 'tour guide' for her. I found her very inquisitive and extremely intelligent for a human of her age."
Deanna set her PADD down loudly, causing everyone to turn and look at her. "Where's Tasha?"
"She's right -" Will started, but cut himself off when he realized she wasn't there anymore. "That's odd."
"Deanna, what's the matter?" Beverly asked.
Deanna took a deep breath. "Listed among Voyager's crew is Tom Paris. He is - was - Tasha's best friend."
"That may not be the only problem." Data had begun to scan the PADD. "Captain Janeway's security officer was Lieutenant Tuvok. If I am not mistaken, Tasha had a close relationship with him as well, saw him as a father figure."
Deanna sighed. "Computer, locate Tasha Yar."
"Tasha Yar is on Holodeck One."
"Captain, may I borrow Data?"
Tasha stumbled through the corridors blindly, not really aware of where she was going, only knowing she needed to be out of that room. She had thought she was heading for her quarters, but she ended up at the holodeck.
"Computer, initiate program Yar Seven."
Tasha stepped onto the holodeck, into a waterpark out of the past, but the bright, sunny weather and the cheerful people didn't help her mood. "Computer, delete characters." The park was instantly empty. "Computer, rain."
"That instruction runs counter to original parameters."
"Override original parameters."
A drenching shower enveloped the holodeck. Tasha threw herself down on the concrete and cried, her tears mixing with the rain. It was there that Deanna and Data found her.
"Tasha?" Deanna knelt beside her friend.
"I only had five real friends when I was at the Academy. Why did I have to lose two of them at once?"
Deanna was keenly aware that two of the remaining three were standing there on that holodeck. She'd ask about the identity of the third later. For now, she just hugged her. "I don't know. I know it isn't fair."
Data had crouched down behind her as well, but, as he was wont to do, asked a question that might not have been entirely appropriate. "Why have you altered the parameters of this program?"
"It didn't feel right. Everyone around me was so happy, the weather was so perfect - and I feel like nothing will ever be okay again."
"It'll get better," Deanna assured her. "It may take a while, but it'll get better."
But Data wasn't done asking questions. "Why did you not simply change to a more appropriate environment?"
"Data -" Deanna began, but Tasha cut her off.
"No, it's okay. The truth is, this was the only place on my mind. I couldn't think of another setting. Tom and I created this together when we were at the academy. He said he wanted to teach me something about entertainment in the early 21st century." She giggled through her tears. "I think he really just wanted to entertain me. He had just learned about Eva."
"Tom knew about Eva?" Deanna interrupted despite herself.
"I told him at Christmas our third year - right after Kathleen had her baby, remember? I was so upset when the Admiral said premature babies don't die anymore, I ran out of the house without a coat. He ran after me and got the story out of me."
"I do remember him asking where you went, and you two came in a few minutes later. I guess I just assumed you'd forgotten something outside. The previous few hours had been a little crazy."
"We were hoping people would think that way. I didn't want to have to tell everyone, and he understood. You know, everyone thought he was so cocky and tough. I know I did at first. But when it came down to it, he was as kind and loving as anyone I've ever known." To Data's complete shock, she suddenly burst into tears and threw herself into him. "Oh, God. Why did he have to die? Things were finally starting to go right for him again."
Even as he held her and rubbed her back, he sent a puzzled glance at Deanna, uncertain as to how to handle his girlfriend's abrupt mood swings. She shook her head and mouthed later. Fortunately, having become familiar with the human tendency to mouth things they didn't want others to hear, he had learned to read lips. So for now, he just held Tasha as she cried, her tears mixing with the holographic rain.
"I do not understand her behavior."
Data and Deanna were sitting in the common area of his quarters. Tasha had sobbed herself to exhaustion and was sleeping in the other room.
"Data, grief isn't always rational. Right now she's trying to sort out what she's feeling. The way she's behaving is normal for someone who's suffered a loss of this magnitude. She's looking back on things and times she enjoyed and laughing, and then she's laughing to keep from crying, and then it really hits her that the people she shared those times with are gone, and she can't keep pretending. Data, have you ever heard of the five stages of grief?"
"I do not believe so, Counselor."
"Okay. Well, the first thing you have to understand is that these stages don't happen in a perfectly orderly way. She may get stuck on one, or skip one, or go back to one she appeared to be past. With that in mind: the first stage is denial. She may try to pretend this didn't really happen. If she seems to be fine all of a sudden, that's probably why. She may also talk about them in present tense - basically, anything but acknowledge that they're actually gone. In that case, what you need to do is refrain from reminding her of the truth of the situation. Remember, she knows in the back of her mind what really happened. This is just her way of trying to avoid feeling the pain she's in.
"The second stage is anger, which you're likely to be the unfortunate target of, since you're so close to her. She may lash out at you or at anyone else around. Just remember, she's not really angry at you. She's angry that her friends were taken away, and anyone who crosses her path just becomes an outlet. If she does yell at you, don't yell back and don't try to talk her down.
"The next one is bargaining. Even though it's too late to do anything, she may try to make some sort of deal with the world. This may also take the form of 'what ifs.' She'll come up with all these scenarios of how she could prevent it if she were to be given one more chance. Like denial, your job is just to listen and not correct her or remind her how futile it is.
"The next one, and the hardest to deal with is depression. Now, she may become sad at any point during the grieving process. Depression is a whole new level of that. It's more than bursting into tears. She may feel like there's no point in doing nothing, be so consumed by her grief that she won't or can't do anything but be sad. In that case, what's most important is to be with her and take care of her. Don't try to pull her out of it, but do provide comfort as much as you can."
"That one I am familiar with. She experienced it after the death of her sister."
"Do whatever you did then. Now the fifth and final stage is acceptance. This doesn't mean that everything's okay - she'll never really be okay with this loss, and that's perfectly normal. What it means is that she's moved past it. She's able to start living her life again, and it isn't constantly on her mind. Once she gets to this point, she's unlikely to go back to any other stage."
"I appreciate your attempts to help me."
"And I appreciate your attempts to help Tasha. Now, she's off for the next few days, Captain's orders. Just - take care of her."
"I will, Counselor. Are you well?" For he had noticed Deanna's dark eyes glistening with tears.
Deanna wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I was never as close to Tom as Tasha was, even when we were dating. But, well, we were dating."
The first thing that sprang to Data's mind was to make a comparison to an event he recalled, but everything Deanna had just told him suggested that would not be the wisest course of action. Instead, he reached out and rather awkwardly patted her on the back. She managed a sad smile.
"You are sweet, Data. Tasha's lucky to have you."
On the other side of the galaxy, seventy thousand light-years away, Tom Paris, now Lieutenant Tom Paris, breathed a soft sigh as he got to his feet, prepared to join his new friend Ensign Harry Kim for lunch. He couldn't help thinking that Harry was not the friend he was supposed to be meeting.
"Looks like we're gonna miss our lunch date," he said softly, as if the woman to whom he was speaking could hear him. "You think we can reschedule for seventy years from now?"
He didn't blame Captain Janeway for destroying the array that had brought them to the Delta Quadrant and could have sent them home, not when it meant saving an alien civilization. And especially not when she'd just made him her chief pilot and given him the pips now on his collar. But the idea of never seeing his family again was painful. He knew he saw the same pain reflected in the eyes of all 140-odd crewmembers of Voyager's crew, now combined with that of the Maquis ship they were pursuing, except of course for the two Vulcans onboard.
Now that was an adventure waiting to be had. He didn't have a problem - or much contact at all, really - with Ensign Vorik down in Engineering. But Tuvok, Second Officer and Chief of Security, was a different story. It was hard to tell with Vulcans, but during their brief acquaintance in the Maquis cell he now knew the Vulcan had been spying on, he'd gotten the sense that Tuvok didn't entirely trust him. So now he had a First Officer who thought him a traitor and a Second Officer who didn't trust him. Not to mention a Klingon woman in engineering who he thought had a desire to rip out his heart, and a few dozen ex-Maquis whose sentiments mirrored that of the now Commander and First Officer Chakotay. Especially the woman he had had a supposedly secret relationship with. Like anyone couldn't tell there was something between Chakotay and Seska. He was pretty sure the Bajoran woman hated him even more than Chakotay did.
At least he had Harry. Picture-of-naivete, golden boy, perfect Starfleet Ensign Harry.
He didn't know what he would have done without Harry.
Just a few mandatory heads-ups. First of all, Voyager was extremely fond of alternate future plots. So for anyone not familiar with the series, if a particular chapter seems to be too depressing, or to have skipped a large portion of time, or just not to fit in with continuity at all, it's probably an alternate future. Secondly, for anyone not familiar with me, I update when the chapter is done, so there is no predictable pattern.
The title of the story is a quote from the Voyager series finale.
Data and Will's past histories with Janeway come from Mosaic; Picard's is from The Buried Age.