Chapter 10, part 1
Day 16, 1220 hours
Walking together, Kira and Odo slowly made their way down the corridor where their quarters were situated. They didn’t talk, their quietness was matched only by the station's. The corridors now seemed empty all the time, even the Promenade only had a fraction of the people who once went there.
Kira didn’t want to go back to their wrecked quarters, but Odo insisted they do so to collect what valuables they could. So they both carried wide and bulky duffel bags for the task. Seeing the quarters again was going to be horrible for Kira, she wasn’t sure how Odo would react to the sight as he had not visited them yet.
Another reason for their silence was the argument they recently had about what to do for Mia. Odo insisted that they should let Mia just get on with her life and not ask her to disclose what she did defending Quark's bar. Kira though believed in the exact opposite for really she worried about Mia's emotional state. In Kira's eyes Mia was still a child, a child who had now taken another life.
What disturbed Kira was that she swore to herself that her children would never witness or perpetrate the violence that happened in Kira's childhood. Now this lay in tatters, no longer could Kira regard Mia as that innocent child before the battle. She felt protective towards Mia, even compelled to talk to Mia, to try to help her daughter understand the significance of taking another life in self-defence.
But since Odo was against this, Kira resigned herself to Odo's judgement. The two came to a stop by the front door and when they opened it Kira walked inside first. Her boots crunched against the debris and shrapnel upon the floor. The quarters looked exactly like they did two days ago when she first visited them.
“It's not too bad,” said Odo a little cautiously while he glanced around the living room. “I thought the windows had been blown out.”
Kira thought the damage appeared horrendous, she stared somberly at the damaged and scratched furniture. “It will take at least a week before this is repaired,” she said quietly as her eyes rested upon a battered console where a bulkhead had crashed against it.
“Low priority you see,” she added bitterly.
Odo turned around with his arms folded. “I don’t know, you are the station's first officer, surely that counts for something!”
“Odo I have never been one for using my rank for personal advantage at the expense of others. We wait for these quarters to be repaired just like everyone else.”
With that matter settled, the two proceeded to the bedroom. Kira hadn’t really looked at the kitchen, which was somewhat portioned off from the living room. But at least there appeared to be no damage just a lot of dust. The dining table looked similar, however Kira then trained her eyes on the door leading to her and Odo’s bedroom. She pressed the panel next to the doorway, it took a while but the door eventually opened sideways.
Odo was the first to enter, when Kira saw his shoulders visibly fall her mood blackened.
Once inside, she saw the remains of the wall that bordered between their quarters and their neighbour's quarters. The wall was blown out, while another fallen bulkhead partially obscured the view to next door’s quarters. The bed had collapsed under the weight of the bulkhead which explained the white feathers strewn all over the room from the torn pillows.
She looked to her left and she saw the golden altar, which she prayed to, fallen against the floor. The delicate ornament had shattered into many pieces. Kira took a few steps closer to the golden debris before crouching down, her hand picked up a shard of metal from the totaled altar. “Ruined,” she said blandly before chucking the piece away.
Odo looked at Kira very gently, he seemed to recognise the significance of the ruined altar. “We can always buy you a new one,” he gently suggested.
“We can, but they don’t come cheap,” said Kira, she then sighed and straightened up, still looking downwards at the pieces. “The damage to our home was worse than I thought.”
“I'm just glad our children made it through unharmed...” said Odo, he came over to Kira and stood by her side. “We could have so easily lost them.”
“It doesn't bare thinking about...” breathed Kira in pained tones. “Many on this station have lost colleagues, family members, loved ones...”
“Tanya Dawson for instance...” Odo said sounding very heavy.
Now Kira turned around to face her husband. “My whole heart goes out to Max,” she replied softly. “I know what is it like losing loved ones in brutal acts by the enemy. I didn't really have much of an opinion on the Romulans, but now...”
Odo gave her a questioning stare. “You hate them just as much as you once did with the Cardassians?”
“Almost...” answered Kira, but as she said that she blinked furiously against the dampness in her eyes. “This station is my home and to see it so brutally attacked...”
“I know...” said Odo heavily.
In a tender motion Odo hugged her, Kira placed her arms tightly around Odo’s back. She didn’t feel like crying anymore though she squeezed onto Odo even more tightly as right now she needed him. She felt so emotionally hurt yet hugging Odo gave her some solace…
The two broke off the hug and they stared at each other in silence.
“You know what you need?” said Odo all of a sudden.
“A vacation...” answered Odo with earnest.
Kira instantly averted her gaze away from Odo, instead turning in the direction of the bed. “I can't...” she replied sounding a little stressed. “This station needs me, many people need me...”
“Listen,” said Odo softly and carefully, “I'm not saying to pack our bags right now and go down to Bajor. But sometime in the next week, or later, when things have settled, maybe then consider taking a vacation?”
A big frown curved Kira’s mouth as she toyed with the idea of a vacation, of going to Bajor… “Perhaps...”
“You need a break...” said Odo firmly, he gently placed a hand on Kira’s shoulder which made her obligingly turn around to face him. “For two years you have worked here constantly, but in the last few months you seemed a little stressed...”
Kira didn’t know how to respond to that observation. Maybe she was stressed and overworked, she had a tendency of doing so over the years only to realise this to late... Was this one of those times? But the worker inside her raged at the idea of a vacation, she sought to come up with an excuse, a reason to work…
“It's just things have become more complicated,” she said at last, “and DS9 seems to be right in the centre of it all...”
Odo glanced at Kira in a mischievous way. “I'm sure Ops can manage without you for a week or so...”
“It can once most of the station's systems have been repaired...” reminded Kira, as she finally gave in to temptation and the lure of taking it easy. “Okay you win, and I have accumulated a lot of shore leave... I suppose two weeks would be a decent break...”
Looking a bit triumphant, Odo nodded his head in an encouraging manner. “It will be so nice going to Bajor with the family...”
“Yeah...” said Kira, suddenly brightening up, and for the first time a smile came to her face. “I mean Mia is more comfortable around her own people, so I think she will enjoy visiting Bajor this time around...”
One part of her felt relieved that a vacation was coming shortly, but her happiness was short lived when she realised why they had to come their quarters. “Let’s see what valuables we can take,” she told Odo as she opened up her bag and laid it down on the floor.
Without further comment, Odo walked past the bulkhead and over to the side of the room close to the windows. He started rummaging around some knocked over furniture.
Kira began checking the cupboard where her golden altar once stood, she started searching around for the religious knick-knacks and items she used for when she prayed. Surely there was something that had not been tarnished...
Slowly, Megan and Holo walked deeper into the interior cargo bay. In there, mounted on stands, were 35 torpedo casings containing a dead Starfleet officer each. The cargo bay appeared virtually empty except for Max who had found himself a container to sit on so as to stand vigil over Tanya’s coffin.
When she came within a few metres of Max, Megan gently cleared her throat to get Max’s attention. “We just wanted to pay our respects... If that is alright with you?”
Though Max didn’t show it, Megan could tell her friend was in pain.
“Yeah sure,” said Max sadly.
Megan and Holo stood to Max’s right side, it all felt so awkward to Megan because she detected rather acutely Holo's discomfort.
“We're sorry for your loss,” said Holo gently, “she was a great colleague to work with.”
“Thanks...” said Max quietly.
Megan piped up. “Also if there's anything you need just ask me or Holo...”
“I don't need anything,” answered Max in a slow and sad voice. “What I wish for was for this to never have happened.”
“There is nothing to bring back Tanya Max,” said Holo very gently.
This though was the wrong thing to say because Max puffed his face up in anger and shot an angry glance at Holo. “Is that the words of a computer program speaking?” he asked, his temper fraying.
Max though cut short Holo’s explanation. “This is all just some interesting experience for you isn't it? Watching me fall to pieces and come face to face with my mortality!”
Holo looked bewildered by Max’s reaction. “I just want to be there for you in a time of need, I'm your friend!”
“Well if you're my friend then may you kindly leave this room!” said Max, he said it with such venom that Holo winced.
“If that is what you want...” said Holo haughtily.
Without saying another word, Holo left the room and Megan could just tell how wounded he was. Another awkward pause sprung up, a pause which felt unbearable to Megan. Once Holo left the room Megan couldn’t stand it any longer. “I'll leave as well-”
“No don't!” said Max angrily.
Closing his eyes, Max then calmed down, upon opening his eyes he looked very remorseful. “I'm sorry about that, it's just my temper, I sometimes get really angry you know...”
“And Holo just got in the way of your anger?”
“Something like that...” muttered Max, before he shook his head in self-chastisement. “God I feel so stupid... I just got annoyed because Holo was telling me the unquestionable truth; Tanya is gone and there's nothing to change that.”
“He could have said it more sensitively,” pointed out Megan.
“He was being sensitive,” said Max, grimacing as he did so. “Usually Holo is rather direct, but I could tell he was being sensitive...”
Another pause transpired thought at least it wasn’t so awkward.
“Do you know where Tanya will be buried?” asked Megan.
“In space... This is what Tanya decreed... Her parents are coming here in a week's time. I'll be taking a runabout and then we'll conduct the ceremony somewhere outside of the Bajoran star system...”
Now that Megan thought about it she had never heard Max, or Tanya, say anything about Tanya’s parents. “Have you met Tanya's parents?”
Max nodded. “Many a time back when I was dating Tanya during our Starfleet Academy days...”
Megan paused for a bit as she built up the courage to ask a very personal request of Max. “Listen can I go with you? It's just I need to explain myself to Tanya's parents, I am somewhat to blame for Tanya's death...”
“Huh!” exclaimed Max, and he laughed a little. “Tanya told me you would say something like that.”
“She did?” said Megan in surprise, she began to panic; had Tanya revealed to Max that she was in love with him?
“She doesn't blame you and neither do I for what you had to do to protect the station,” explained Max. “You couldn't have given the access codes to the Romulans because you would have endangered all our lives...”
There was a quick silence as Megan inwardly thanked herself that Tanya had kept Megan’s most personal secret to her grave. “But Tanya might not have died if she received prompt medical attention... It is my fault in a-”
“Don't blame yourself for events that were out of your control!” burst out Max angrily. “It is those bloody Romulans who are to blame!”
Max's outburst almost made Megan flinch.
“I'm sorry,” said Max as he simmered down. “But right now I really hate these Romulans... They took my Tanya, my girlfriend...”
Max’s voice faltered for he began crying silently. He then placed his hands to his face and his shoulders started shaking from silent sobs.
This was too much for Megan, she didn’t want to see Max like this, she couldn’t see something so private… “I'll... I'll give you some peace...”
A hand grabbed her forearm. “Don't go!” pleaded Max, looking at Megan with big puppy dog eyes. “I just feel all alone without Tanya, you and Holo are the only two people I really care about.”
“Alright...” said Megan gently.
So she sat down, and when Max sat next to her he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. It felt very strange for Megan, it seemed Max still didn’t know that she secretly loved him. Tanya was gone, leaving Megan with deeply bitter and disgusted feelings due to her unrequited love. She was Max’s friend, but she knew that Max would be turning to her as he sought comfort. Max must have been doing this out of friendship and Megan had always sensed that he possessed no interest in her.
But what if through his grieving process and over the coming months, her friendship with Max grew? What if they became so close that Max developed feelings for her? However Megan decided she couldn’t pursue those feelings, she would tell Max nothing because she knew it would only hurt Max and confuse him terribly.
If she told Max that she loved him, then Max would be forever wondering what would have happened if he had dated Megan and not Tanya. Megan did not have the heart to give her friend that kind of pain, so she would always be Max’s friend, anything else and she would be exploiting him and staining Tanya’s memory.
However Megan realised she still had not really answered the question of what to do if Max told her, many months from now, that he loved her. The analytical part of Megan’s mind told her that this appeared to be an inevitability, unless Max fell in love with another woman, but that seemed unlikely. It was all so shockingly logical to her, that she being Max’s closest friend and a woman, Max would inevitably develop feelings for her.
It would be Max trying to fill the void created by Tanya’s absence… So what would Megan do? However guilty she would feel, she would probably allow a relationship to form if Max told her that he loved her. It all felt so confusing to Megan… Despite such a terrible event, would she eventually have a relationship with Max?