Chapter 7, part 2
The living room was wrecked, two bulkheads had fallen down, dragging many of the ceiling panels with it. Debris were strewn all over the floor, most of the furniture was either toppled over or broken, and a huge amount of dust covered all the surfaces.
“Oh no!” Mia said in a horrified voice.
Kira didn’t even bother checking the remainder of the rooms as her mind came to an instant conclusion. “We can't stay here, it isn't safe.”
“Where are we going to go?” asked Deru despairingly.
Deru’s despair only made Kira calmer, she thought about the situation with even more clarity. “Mia do you know of any areas which have been converted into temporary accommodation?”
Mia frowned deeply as she thought about the question. “I heard Quark say something about cargo bays three, eight and eleven, and the Bajoran temple were being used as temporary accommodation.”
“We'll go to cargo bay three, it's quicker,” said Kira, immediately she placed a hand on the back of each child’s neck, and chivied Mia and Deru to turn around.
Now the three were back in the corridor, with Kira leading the way.
“Why not the Bajoran temple?” asked Mia after a while. “It would be nicer...”
Kira shook her head once. “That's where all the Bajorans will stay, and I don't feel comfortable leaving you two in there.”
“I can look after myself!” said Mia angrily, glaring at Kira for mollycoddling her. “I'm sixteen, according to Bajoran culture I've reached the age of maturity!”
“It will be better in one of the cargo bays,” reiterated Kira, in an impatient tone of voice.
“Why, do you think some Bajoran is going to attack me?”
“In times like this, especially concerning you two, my people could do anything... We're going to the cargo bays and my decision is final.”
Mia and Deru didn’t utter another word, which gave Kira some much needed time to hear herself think. Finally the three arrived at cargo bay three, manning the entrance was a Starfleet ensign standing watch outside of the cargo bay doors.
“Ensign, is there any room for a family of four?” asked Kira. “It would be me, my husband, and my two children?”
“There's plenty of room colonel,” replied the ensign. “You're some of the first people to come here, so you can get the best spots... I'll show you inside...”
Kira, Mia and Deru followed the ensign through the opened cargo bay doors before they came to a stop by several piles of stacked-up white mattresses.
“Take your pick of where to bunk down,” advised the ensign, “there are plenty of spare mattresses...”
Mia looked around the spacious and reasonably empty cargo bay. “How will we change?” she asked in a somewhat petulant tone of voice.
“There are some make-shift changing rooms over there,” said the ensign, pointing over to an enclosed area, with opaque creamy-orange sheets supported by poles. “They'll give you the privacy you need to change ones clothes.”
“And what about toilets?” asked Mia.
“They're down in corridor 213 section seven,” explained the ensign, and he glanced back at Mia. “Anymore questions you would like to ask?”
“No,” replied Mia politely.
The ensign left the cargo bay while Kira helped Mia and Deru to carry a mattress. They placed it in the top left corner of the room, next to the changing area. There were only a dozen people inside, some of whom standing while others rested on the mattresses. Bags bulging with material possessions lined many of the occupied mattresses.
This made Kira conscious of how Mia and Deru didn’t have anything, but she would worry about that later. The three set the mattress down, before going back to the pile of mattresses to retrieve two more.
Finally when the accommodation matters were sorted out, both Mia and Deru were sitting down on a respective mattress each. Kira became uncomfortably aware of how little her children had to occupy themselves, and she made a mental note that when she next checked up on her children, she would give them some padds and games which were stored in their trashed quarters.
“What about Odo?” said Mia suddenly. “How could he regenerate here?”
“He'll have to regenerate somewhere else for two hours, and then come back here in the night time.”
For one small moment, Kira felt compelled to ask her daughter why she defended Quark's bar, however Kira had a shift to complete, and she could ask that question later. Kira then turned to leave, she never even moved one step forwards for her daughter asked another question.
“Where are you going?”
Turning around, Kira faced Mia. “To Ops, and to provide what help I can. I don't know when I'll be back, but it should be some time in the morning, and hopefully your father will be there as well with me. When I get back I’ll bring you some padds and games from our quarters. Try to get some sleep and look after your younger brother.”
It was the best Kira could offer and she expected Mia or Deru to complain, but they just seemed to accept the situation.
“I will mother,” said Mia.
Finally Kira turned to leave, as she walked out of the cargo bay, she thought about how crummy this would be for her children, living in a cargo bay for some days. Still Mia and Deru were holding up reasonably well, and her children were not spoilt, so Kira knew they would try to make the best of a situation, just the way she would…
Holo was chatting with Max as they walked out of the airlock, but they immediately broke off when they noticed Megan standing outside.
Megan appeared harried and nervous about something. “Max thank God you've arrived, its Tanya, she's...”
Just like that Max’s face crumpled, the poor chap looked sick from worry. “Not dead surely?”
“She hasn't got much time left,” said Megan.
Without a word Max dashed off to the Infirmary, the last look on his face was unreadable to Holo, and for one moment he considered following Max, but something stopped him.
“Holo, you go with Max,” Megan said, regarding Holo rather somberly. “This is going to be a terrible time for him, and he needs his best friend by his side...”
“I understand...” said Holo simply.
He headed to the Infirmary, though unlike Max he walked there.
Everything had shut down inside of Max, he didn’t care about the shift he needed to complete, he barely noticed the sights, sounds and smells around him. All that mattered was arriving in the Infirmary and talking to Tanya. His worst fears had come true, and the fear grew as he thought about Megan’s words. She made it sound as if Tanya was gravely wounded and beyond treatment…
Max walked so quickly it felt almost like jogging or running, and when he entered the Infirmary, only then did he slow his pace. Finally he found the other person he was desperate to see. “Doctor Bashir, where is Tanya?”
Bashir looked the grimmest Max had ever seen him. “She's in the patient ward,” said Bashir, before he launched into an explanation. “By the time she arrived it was late to repair the damage to her brain, the blood vessels were still haemorrhaging. If she arrived sooner there may have been a chance to save her, but-”
“You did your best doctor...” said Max quickly, and without saying another word, he headed to the patient ward.
Once inside the ward, he found Tanya in a matter of seconds for she was the only one looking towards him, the only one waiting for him to arrive…
The ward was very cramped, and the space between the biobeds seemed barely enough for one person to stand in. Max stopped when he arrived at Tanya’s left side, gently he grasped her left hand, attempting his best to smile at her.
“You came at last...” said Tanya weakly, as she returned Max’s smile. “I thought you weren't going to arrive in time.”
“I'm here...” said Max simply, his smile fading as he examined the wound on Tanya’s head.
It just looked bloody to Max, he could almost convince himself it was just a very nasty cut, or Tanya cracking her skull open… He then stopped worrying about Tanya dying and a lot more about her comfort. “Does it hurt?”
“Mildly,” replied Tanya. “Bashir and the rest of the surgeons have been great, I can barely feel the pain...”
“I was in Ops when the Romulans boarded it, one of their disruptor blasts hit a console, the plasma conduits overloaded it, and it exploded. A piece of duranium shrapnel about three centimetres long, a centimetre thick, embedded itself into my skull...”
“Ow!” exclaimed Max, grimacing as he did so. “Did it hurt?”
Tanya’s eyes glazed over a little as she recalled the experience. “Initially no... I was so shocked and confused, and then it started to really hurt...”
“I wish there was something I could do to help you,” said Max miserably.
Tanya returned her to gaze to Max, and smiled at him once more. “You've already done so by arriving...”
“Don't go, please...” she added nervously.
Max though raised Tanya’s hand, kissing it softly before letting go. “I'm not going anywhere...”
“Good...” Tanya said, looking relieved as if she expected Max to leave her.
She then changed the subject, lowering her voice as she did so. “You remember our first kiss?”
“How could I forget?” whispered Max, this was not the ideal place to say such things, for there remained an inadequate amount of privacy even when he whispered to Tanya. “I was eighteen and so nervous... We had known each other for two years, but...”
“You were uncomfortable expressing your affection to me...” finished Tanya. “I didn't have much experience either...”
“But aside from that hiccup it was one amazing night,” agreed Max.
“Oh yeah...” said Tanya, and her eyes lit up.
“You were the only one...” murmured Max.
“I know...” said Tanya lovingly, she paused, before glancing at Max with both more seriousness and yet affection. “I haven't told you this, but I was thinking about marrying you.”
Just at that moment, it hit Max by what was happening. His eyes burned due to all the painful feelings being dredged up. “Don't say that!” he moaned.
“I'm sorry,” said Tanya. “But I love you so much,” she whispered.
“As do I...” said Max.
Suddenly he let go of Tanya’s hand, for his own one clamped over his mouth, as he tried to control his feelings. In a shaky manner he lowered the hand, but his emotional turmoil stayed. “Oh God, you can't go Tanya...”
“I don't want to leave you either... Just promise me one thing?”
“Don't blame Megan for what has happened,” implored Tanya.
“Megan?” said Max disbelievingly, how was she to blame? “She did her best to keep the station out of Romulan hands, without her effort you would probably be dead.”
“Good...” replied Tanya, who looked a little better after getting that particular demon off her back.
Tanya let out a soft groan, complimented by her face screwing up in pain. “It's getting difficult to think...”
“Just rest, and conserve yourself...” said Max.
“One more thing...” said Tanya.
“How about a farewell kiss?”
A faint smile came to Max’s lips, before he moved closer, resting one hand on the shoulder of Tanya’s uniform jacket, and the other against the edge of the bed. Just briefly Max and Tanya’s lips locked, they would have done more, but they had no privacy, so Max contented with just a simple small kiss.
“Is that better?” he asked Tanya.
“Yeah,” breathed Tanya, “I just want to-”
Tanya’s eyes widened in horror, never before had Max seen Tanya look so frightened. “Tanya? Tanya? Can you hear me?”
“I don't remember...” said Tanya in a scared voice, and she stopped gazing at Max, for she seemed trapped in her own disturbed little world. “My childhood, my years in Starfleet Academy, all gone...”
“Tanya look at me,” said Max desperately, “I'm here...”
Finally Tanya’s eyes moved to Max’s face, and she looked a shell of the woman she formerly was. “Help me Max, where am I, what's happened to me? So painful...”
“You are on DS9, in the Infirmary...” said Max, he then stopped. “I need a doctor, she's dying!” he yelled out aloud.
Quickly Bashir, who worked nearby, came over with his medical tricorder at the ready.
“Doctor you've got to do something...” implored Max, staring at Bashir as if the doctor were his only hope.
Bashir ran the tricorder’s scanning device over Tanya’s head, his face mildly sagged with even more grimness. “The haemorrhaging is spreading, I can sedate her...”
“Don't!” exclaimed Tanya, in a voice twisted with pain. “I want to be with Max.”
“You are in great pain Ms Dawson, are you sure you don't want a sedative to ease it?”
“Please...” murmured Tanya, as her speech started to fail, and her gaze found Max. “Max... want to... be with... him.”
“What's happening to her?” asked Max, feeling very frightened by Tanya’s childish language and slurred speech.
“Her brain is dying, that's what!” said Bashir, looking annoyed by the fact he couldn’t do anything to help Tanya. “By these tricorder scans her brain damage has increased ten fold!”
“Max...” Tanya called out, raised one shaking hand trying to grab onto one part of her lover.
“Yes Tanya?” said Max, while he grabbed onto her hand.
“Not... scared... With you... better...”
Despite how retarded Tanya sounded, Max could tell from Tanya’s eyes that she still loved him, and that through her confusion, he was the only thing that mattered to her. It was terribly distressing watching the woman he once loved, be taken away from Max, piece by piece. “Don't worry, I'll be here,” he told her, giving Tanya’s hand a squeeze.
A few minutes passed by, interspersed with Tanya occasional mumbling. “Max...” she said.
Max looked into Tanya’s eyes, but there was hardly any of Tanya in them. He detected love, but also a chilling deadness in Tanya’s stare, and Max realised that Tanya no longer grasped the nature of the bond they shared.
“I... love you,” whispered Tanya.
“And I love you...” said Max, such words which brought him to the verge of tears.
Tanya then closed her eyes. Seconds later, the biobed monitor emitted various beeping sounds as Tanya’s life signs further decreased.
“Doctor...” said Max.
“It's no good,” replied Bashir, who continued to scan Tanya with his tricorder. “She is now completely brain dead.”
“Tanya...” breathed Max, now even the hope of Tanya surviving was no hope at all, for Tanya herself, her personality was gone, it was dead.
Some seconds later, Bashir closed the tricorder, and his lips were pressed very tightly together. He seemed to be having difficulty controlling his emotions, or maybe it was the fact that Tanya’s death had been the most distressing to him. “Time of death, 0046 hours,” he said in a voice devoid of emotion. “Cause of death; massive arterial haemorrhaging of the brain.”
“No...” moaned Max, he didn’t cry, however his body shook from the emotional pain.
“Max...” said a voice, Holo’s voice.
Holo grabbed onto Max’s shoulders in an attempt to pull Max back, but it was a very halfhearted attempt.
However Max moved forwards, lowering himself as he did so, before planting a wet kiss to the top of Tanya's forehead. How long he stayed in that position he didn't know, eventually something made Max stand up, that something being the terrible responsibility of duty. No longer could he continue to grieve because he had shifts to complete, a science department to run, and a chemistry lab to check over.
“Max...” said Holo softly, his voice shaking a little.
Max though addressed Bashir, after removing his gaze from Tanya. “From what Tanya told me, she had no will or anything, but she did say that if she were to die she would want to be buried in space.”
“Don't worry, the arrangements will be made...” said Bashir.
“Thank you,” replied Max in deeply muffled pained tones.
When Bashir left, Holo spoke up. “Erm... Max I am really sorry... If you need to go to your quarters to... reflect on what has happened, I can cover your shift for you.”
“Thank you for the offer, but I'll grieve in my spare time,” Max answered with great restraint and calmness.
He swallowed, as he took one last look at Tanya’s face. All to soon he turned around to face the ward's exit. “Right now I have duties to complete and a science department to check over.”
And burying his emotions further, Max left the ward. He would grieve, but not now, right now he was going to put on a brave face, and he would be damned if his eyes got watery or he shed even one tear…