Chapter 9 - "Hell Incarnate"
Data stood completely immobilized, entranced by his name falling from her lips. He was not only placed in an inconceivable position by the Borg Queen but now he was being faced with the unthinkable. A woman, whom was supposed to have been dead for seven years, now stood before him alive and well. She was an enigma to him. He watched her die, attended her memorial service. He was even present at her burial into space and yet there she stood.
Data closed his eyes tightly, almost certain he was experiencing a malfunction in his neural net. He ran a quick diagnostics and hesitantly opened his eyes. Damn...she was still there, staring at him as if he had grown another head.
"Huh?." was all he could manage.
'Great!' Data thought. 'I can perform a trillion task per second and the moment I am faced with Tasha Yar the only word I can vocalize is, "Huh!'
Yes, he knew that when he had installed the emotion chip that feelings existed for a certain Lieutenant who had enraptured his full attention by just one night. It was a curse really, perhaps a little preposterous, that an android could be so easily overtaken by such a fragile creature. She had haunted his every waking thought since that night and her harsh words had been an echo of what could never be from the moment she spoke them. An unspoken promise that he never verbally agreed too but did so out of respect and admiration for the woman who had blessed him with such an experience.
And now, she was Hell Incarnate: a reminder of all of his deepest regrets, and the symbol of his deepest desires he did not welcome. He didn't have time to be dealing with this now. Of all times for her to make an appearance back into his life, why did she have to choose now. And how in the hell did she get almost thirty years in the past? She wasn't suppose to be here! According to his memory banks she was suppose to be a child on Turkana IV, not a prisoner of war.
Data's eyes widened in horror as the woman began walking toward him. He was unable to will himself to move, as she opened her arms in surprise and engulfed him in a desperate embrace. One that held all the emotions of someone who had lost everything and now had regained some semblance of their former life. And she found that reminder in him. Tasha held him tight and never questioned his awkward pause in returning the embrace.
His arms slowly moved around her waist, his hands sliding along every inch of her, only to stop at her lower back. He relished every moment of it and for a second he wondered if he was back on board the Borg ship, dreaming again. The sensation of her arms tightening the embrace laid all his doubts to rest about the reality of this world. He knew she was real!
"You have no idea how much I have missed you..." She whispered in his ear and he could hear the tears in her voice.
Suddenly, he hated himself for what he was about to do but it was the only way to protect her. Despite her emotional condition, her mental state for all she had endured he would unfortunately have to use all of that to his advantage, if his lie was going to be believed. This would be the real test...Did she know him as well as he thought she did? Hopefully not!
He softly reached up, untangling her arms from around his neck, as he began backing out of the embrace. Tasha watched in bewilderment as he silently mouthed an apology for what she thought was an untimely hug. But she was wrong, he was apologizing for much more than that.
"I am sorry..." His eyes looked almost distant, as if trying to remember. "Do I know you?"
The denial hurt her more than he intended.
She was flabbergasted by his question, so much so that she looked as if the wind had been sucked right out of her.
"Do you know me?!" She mocked incredulously.
Data still feigned ignorance.
Tasha motioned between the two of them. "We worked together on the Enterprise...I was Chief of Security and you were the Operations Officer." Data still held that obliviousness about him as he listened to her arguments. "We were in the war together!" She finally testified.
Data softly shook his head from side to side. "There is no war!" He confirmed.
"Well, not now but there was!" She defended. "It's one of the reasons I went back with the Enterprise C...Guinan told me that I died a meaningless death in the other timeline and that I didn't belong..." Tasha desperately placed her hands on his shoulders as she continued on. "If I was going to die, I wanted my death to mean something! So I left to fight with the Enterprise C, fully expecting to die...but I didn't." She paused a moment, her eyes pleading with his. "Data, you gotta believe me!"
Data slowly broke away from her again as he turned his back to her, pretending to re-maneuver items on his desk. But the truth was, he was suddenly overwhelmed by intense nausea. This was affecting him more than he had initially anticipated and the idea of what he was about to do made him quite sick to his stomach.
"In my studies I have found that when someone has endured intense trauma, whether it be physical or mental, they tend to blur the lines between what is reality and what is not." Data concluded.
"Data, I'm not some mental case...yeah, I went through hell but I know who you are!"
He turned back around to face her, pushing the urge to vomit back down. "That is precisely what I am referring too."
Tasha snapped her head back in shock, stunned by his words. "Are you saying that I don't know who you are?"
Without missing a beat, Data continued on. "I am saying that I may resemble this man you speak of, therefore you are trying to associate something familiar with your surroundings. You are in a different environment..." He raised his eyebrows in doubt. "A different timeline? So naturally your mind would be desperate to associate with something from your past. You are suggesting that I am that something!"
"I'm not suggesting anything, I know!"
Data decided to appease her. "Fine, then who am I?"
Again, Tasha looked confused. She ran her hands through her hair, completely frustrated with the line of questioning.
"You are an android, created by Dr. Noonian Soong. You were assembled on Omicron Theta after the Crystalline Entity attacked your colony, completely wiping everyone out. You were all that was left. Shortly after Starfleet rescued you, you joined the Academy and graduated in four years to the U.S.S. Trieste and then later on to the Enterprise D."
Data slightly laughed but Tasha was not amused.
He waved his hand at his body. "I am sorry but have you noticed that I am human. I am not a machine."
She still wasn't deterred by the claim. "Well, I admit you do look human but I thought it was because of Q...He was always harassing you about allowing him to grant you your desire to become human..." Tasha shrugged her shoulders in defeat. "I thought maybe you finally gave in."
Data simply stared at her. Moments passed before he could bring himself back into the task at hand. He chose to ignore her comment as he introduced himself.
He placed his hand out, waiting for her to take it. "I am Dr. Daystrom Soong. A relative of the 'missing in action' Dr. Noonian Soong."
Tasha faltered a moment before taking his hand in hers and shaking it firmly. Her eyes never leaving his as a small, slow smirk began to form at the corners of her lips. She was calling his bluff.
"Really..." Tasha said in disbelief. She held her hands up in the air as she made a gesture of quotation marks. "A 'relative'?"
"What? A distant relative or closely related?"
"Close..." Data answered shortly, ever careful to keep his guard up.
"I beg your pardon?"
Tasha began stalking around him, as if interrogating him. He found the nuisance quite unpleasant.
"How are you closely related to him? Are you a cousin, brother..." Her eyes pierced his and she stopped her verbal assault directly in front of him. "Son?" Tasha's eyebrows raised in question.
Data couldn't help but notice how her eyes lit up.
He stalked off, brushing past her as he walked in front of the couch. His hand irritatingly making a gesture for her to sit down. Tasha chuckled lightly as she calmly walked over to where he was and slowly, without breaking eye contact, sat down. The smile that was now plastered all over her face never leaving her lips nor her eyes.
This was definitely not going the way he had planned.
Data quietly walked over, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, as he took a seat in the chair opposite of her.
His eyes continued to glare into hers and suddenly he had the desire to kiss that smug look off her face.
He tried desperately not to grit his teeth as he answered her imposing question. "Son..."
She crossed her legs, the skepticism never leaving her face. "Really...I don't recall any records making such a claim. In fact, Noonian Soong never married. The only sons he had were androids...One named Data and a temperamental little ass named Lore. He never had any biological children."
"Yes, well if I recall correctly, they are no records of a Natasha Yar either."
"That's because I'm not supposed to be here...The Federation wasn't expecting me!" She argued.
"Neither am I...Daddy was not expecting me either!" He snapped back.
Data soon found himself annoyed by the whole aspect of this...Natasha Yar! He was quickly getting over his enchantment of her. In fact, he found her quite defiant and irriatating.
The woman slowly leaned forward, placing her hands within her lap. Her eyes still penetrating his. The tension was thick and unpalatable.
"Use a contraction!" She demanded.
Data finally gave into the urge and rolled his eyes.
"I believe this charade has gone on long enough...The session is over!"
He abruptly stood up from his chair, making his way toward the doors, waiting.
A few moments of silence passed before she relented. Data refused to meet her eyes but he could feel her gaze burning into him as her steps came closer.
He's not sure what made him do it. Maybe it was the need to know, a confirmation to what he had longed hoped or maybe it was a fear from the possibility of never seeing her again. Either way, his hand reached out of it's own volition for her arm, stopping her from leaving. He slowly, steadily leaned his body against the wall as he moved in closer to her space. His thumb mindlessly rubbing the material beneath it.
"Why are you so determined for me to be this man?"
She only answered with another question. "Why are you so determined not to be?"
If she wanted to hear it, then he would give it to her. His resolve had left him defenseless, he would beseech her, give her what she wanted to hear.
"Please...Indulge me!" He whispered.
It was a mistake, the action caused him to risk another look her way. Their eyes locked and the air suddenly became very heavy. The attraction dangerously evident.
Her voice was low and soft to his ears. So soft it made his heart ache. "Have you ever made a life altering decision, only to realize you never knew what you had till it was gone."
Her words interrupted his breathing mechanism, literally stealing his breath from him. All Data could do was slowly nod his head up and down, verifying a truth that was made known to him the moment he installed his emotions chip. The truth being that he had loved her all along but it was too late! And now, here she was!
It was a cruel sick joke. Here she stood less than inches from him and all he could do was pretend to be something he was not. He couldn't kiss her, couldn't hold her, he couldn't do all the things the flesh of his body was screaming at him to do. In that moment, all he wanted was her. Damn Locutus, damn the Borg Queen and damn the Federation! He wanted nothing but her!
But of course he would obey, he would relent to higher powers and he would let her walk away...again! All he had to do was keep reminding himself that it was for her. She would get to live the life that she had been denied for so long, even if it wasn't with him. He would make sure she got that chance. For now, he would continue the pretense and when the time was right, he would deliver Locutus.
Her words brought him back to reality. "But that's something we can talk about another time, Dr. Soong."
Data hated the sound of that name on her lips and without hesitation, the daunting question came from his lips.
"Is this android the mistake that you let go?"
Tasha quickly looked down, his question obviously hitting a nerve. And then, after a deep, long breath she raised her eyes back to his blue ones. Suddenly, he became aware of just how close she really was, as he slowly released her arm and leaned back against the wall.
"It doesn't matter anymore, its like you said, he's not here..." she confirmed before walking out the door.
Author's Notes: Not exactly sure where I'm going with this but I guess you guys are watching it unfold just as I am...Hopefully you like it so far!