Ryan left Admiral Pikes quarters with a new happiness and sense of purpose. Now that he had cleared the air with Pike, it was only a matter of speaking to Karissa and letting her make the choices from here on. Ryan thought a lot about the best way to do this on his way to the bridge. *Maybe I'll set up the Bosherston simulation again* he thought. *Nah.. she's seen enough of that for now. I gotta think of something else* As he reached the bridge he stepped out finding it pretty empty for an Alpha shift.
"Good morning Captain" said Kira. He brought Ryan a cup of coffee from the replicator as he had each morning. "Feeling better this morning Captain?"
"Much better thanks."
"Good, I was about to recommend you see a doctor or let me have a look at you." he said.
"I somehow don't think it would have come to that" smiled Ryan.
"What's the plan for today?"
"Well, Lieutenants McMillan and Gregholt departed for Valaria early this morning. Hancock and O'Neil should be reaching the supply shuttle sometime this morning."
"What about that nebula out there?"
"I'm going to send Wang out with Doctor Tierro later to begin charting it and taking some samples."
"Chief, is the cat situation sorted out now?"
"Yes Captain" he grinned. "That cat won't ever get into your quarters again without your permission, sir"
"Well done Chief, you may find yourself in for a promotion at this rate!" grinned Ryan. (He really did hate that cat!) "As for you Mr. Tyran, my ready room now!"
Tyran stood down from the security station and followed Ryan into his ready room.
"Captain" he began, "If it's about the cat, I promise...."
"Forget the cat, Tyran, I need some advice."
"Well, in that case ask away," said Tyran, making himself comfortable on the sofa near the windows.
"Tyran, when you were first seeing Dinara, what kind of places did you take her?"
"If I remember rightly, last time I gave you any advice about a woman, you went and jeopardized federation relations with a new species AND almost lost your command. Are you sure you can trust me?" Tyran grinned.
"Don't worry about anything this time round. Just help me out here."
"It's Commander Bentara, isn't it, Captain?"
"Don't deny it, Sir, I can see the look in your face. Dinara and I have known something has been going on with you two for weeks."
"Maybe to the untrained eye, no one noticed, but I picked up a few things... your 'happy' mornings for instance. Believe me I've had a few. Also avoiding each other.. etc.. Dinara and I have been through it all sir. You can't hide anything from me." Tyran felt rather proud of himself as he revealed all that he had worked out to the Captain.
"Well, I see it's useless ever trying to hide anything from you, Mr. Tyran. Anyway, I need your advice on how to proceed."
"I assume by your mood this morning that something good transpired last night with her."
"Well not with her, with Admiral Pike actually."
"Captain, I don't really want to hear about this," said Tyran edging away.
Realizing what he had said, Ryan laughed.
"Tyran, I just meant.... never mind... Anyway, I need to let her know that everything's ok for us now, but I just don't know where to take her."
"Take her somewhere nice."
"You think?" asked Ryan sarcastically. "Where though?"
"We've seen enough of those"
"I'm not good with heights"
"I can't swim."
"You're not making this easy captain!" retorted Nige. "How about..."
"No, wait... I know just the place!"
"I do. Thanks for your help, Tyran, but if you don't mind, I need to go and prepare things for tonight."
"Not at all, Captain, I wish you luck." The two of them headed for the door. "And don't worry, your secrets safe with me," added Tyran as the doors opened.
Ryan sat back in his chair and sipped at his quickly cooling coffee.
"Kira, I want you to see that the holodeck is clear from 18:00 hours to 08:00"
"What on earth for?" asked Kira.
"Just do it and let me know that it's done."
[Captain Evans, this is Lieutenant Tierro. Could you come to sickbay please?]
"Of course Lieutenant. I'm on my way"
Ryan left the bridge and headed for sickbay.
Ciara Tierro waited anxiously for the captain to arrive. Karissa was sound asleep at the moment from the medications they had to administer to stop the contractions and bleed. Karissa was her friend and she knew that when Karissa woke up, there would be a lot for her to deal with.
Suddenly, she saw Captain Evans enter through the sickbay doors. She got up and walked out of the office. His eyes reflected his concern.
Immediately he noticed Karissa on a biobed. "What's wrong with her?" he anxiously asked, as he went to her side.
Ciara's face was filled with concern. "She's pregnant," Ciara explained. "She just miscarried one of the babies . . . We had to sedate her . . . I'm afraid she's going to need some medical leave . . . "
"Pregnant?!" asked Ryan in disbelief. His mind racing a mile a minute. "Is she going to be ok?"
"Physically, she'll be fine," she said, with a concerned look in her aqua eyes. "But emotionally . . . That's another story . . ."
"You said she miscarried... how?" he asked. taking Karissa's hand tenderly. He wasn't interested in keeping any feelings for her hidden at this point.
Ciara gathered her thoughts. "There were three fetuses . . . Each has its own placenta . . . One of the placetas started pulling away from the uterine wall . . . She started to hemorrhage . . . her uterus started to contract . . . She was beamed to sickbay immediately, only there was no time to treat her It happened too fast. We lost the child in distress . . ."
*Three fetuses?* "Doctor, is there any way of telling who the fathers of these children are?" *Three seems an awfully coincidental number* he thought, thinking back to the night on the holodeck which was now almost a month ago.
"Ming took the initail scans," she explained. "I could probably do another scan . . . But the other two seem to be healthy, though," she said, as she tried to comfort him. It was obvious that his concern ran deeper for her, than Karissa simply being a member of his crew.
"When will I be able to speak to her?" Ryan asked.
"As soon as she wakes up . . . But I wouldn't count on that being for a couple of hours yet. We had to hit her system with some heavy drugs to stop the contractions, so she wouldn't lose the other two babies . . ."
"I'll wait here.. if you don't mind?" said Ryan.
She smiled sadly. "Not at all, Captain . . . ." She replied. She wanted to try to give him more comfort . . . but didn't know what else to say. She walked to him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "You know, being here beside her, is probably the best thing you can do for her anyway . . . She'll need everyone's support . . ."
Ryan had sat by Karissa's side for
what seemed like days. In reality it had been just over four hours. Ryan was
leaning back on a chair going over some information on a PADD he'd had sent
to him. Karissa stirred slightly but remained asleep. Ryan watched her, hopefully,
for a minute or so before going back to his PADD. Another hour or so passed,
and Karissa slowly opened her eyes. Ryan put aside his PADD and took her hand.
"I'm here, Kari," he whispered.
"Ryan . . . ?" she asked, as she looked around, seeing where she was. She shuddered and cried as the memories came back to her. "Oh god . . ." she sobbed. "Oh god . . . no . . ."
"Hey, hey, hey," he said holding her toward him. "Shhhh... it will all be ok.. It wasn't your fault."
"My baby . . . I lost one of my babies . . . Didn't I?" she asked. "Oh, god . . . I didn't even know until right before . . . This wasn't suppose to happen . . . None of it . . . Not like this . . ."
Her tears wouldn't stop, and neither would the pain . . . There was so much more . . . Not just her babies . . . Not just losing one of them . . . But also knowing that she wasn't anything. She wasn't real . . . she was something someone had cooked up in a lab . . .
"Kari, I can't even pretend to know what this must be like for you. I have no idea how much pain you must be going through. But I am here for you, and will be with you the whole way through this. I'm not going to let you go through this alone"
She tried to wipe away tears, but they were soon replaced by more. "In an hour, my whole world was turned upside down . . . everything I thought I knew was taken away from me . . . and now I have lost so much . . . not just one of my children . . . but myself . . ."
"What do you mean?" asked Ryan, confused by what she had just said.
"My DNA . . ." she replied. "I was . . . genetically engineered . . . The feline DNA . . . my speed, my power . . . my agility . . . My night and zoom vision . . . My ability to jump so high and to land on my feet . . . I can do these things because someone designed them into me . . . I never had parents . . . I'm nothing more than a lab experiment . . . "
Her sobs started again. She didn't know anything anymore. How could anyone want her? She wasn't real . . . No mother, no father . . . no species to call her own . . . And her children were doomed to the same fate.
Ryan was shocked at what he had just been told. He held her tighter as she cried. "Kari, do you think that makes any difference to me? To your parents? We love you for a reason, that is because of 'who' you are, not 'what' you are." Ryan was never good at this type of thing, he felt, as she continued crying. "I know all this must be really hard on you. I can see why you're upset. However, even if you looked like a Ferengi, I would love you because of you. . . not what you looked like." Ryan paused, knowing he wasn't doing a great deal to help. "Kari, look at me for a moment." she pulled away from him and looked into his face. Her dark eyes bright with tears. "Kari, to me, you are no less human than anyone else on this ship. Being human isn't something you are naturally given, through being born to human parents. You have to earn it and prove it through your actions and deeds throughout your life." He pulled her head back down and kissed her forehead. "Kari, to me, you are the most human person I have ever met. You're kind, warm and loving. No matter how you were... created, for lack of a better word, I still love you and want you. To me you will always be human and you should never let anyone, or any piece of medical equipment tell you otherwise"
Though her heart was still hurting, her sobbing subsided. She allowed herself to be comforted in his arms. "That means more to me then you could possibly know right now . . ." Tears still fell from her dark eyes, but not in the torrent it had been. There had just been too many shocks for one day that even she couldn't handle.
"What I said about being there for you.. well I don't know whether or not this is the right time to tell you... maybe it is, maybe it isn't, I don't know! But I spoke to Admiral Pike. I know you didn't want me too, but I had too." Karissa looked up at him, worry in her swollen red eyes. "It's ok," he said, comforting her once more. "We got things wrong. It is not against Starfleet regulations for Captains to be involved with a member of their crew, just ill advised for the reason that it may in some situations cause complications. Kari, everything will be ok now... I will be here with you, through all this. Every step of the way, mark my word! I will not let you go through this alone"
She melted into his embrace further. That's what she had wanted. His love . . . and to be with him . . . Now, they could be, she realized . . . and after everything that had happened today he still loved her . . . "I love you, Ryan . . ." she whispered, closing her eyes.
"I love you too" he said as he kissed the top of her head.
With the combination of drugs still in her system, the sorrow and grief still working overtime on her emotions, and the elation that Ryan was there, and that he loved her took its toll. As much as she wanted to hold on, to continue to feel his arms holding her tenderly, she couldn't. Darkness overtook her, and she drifted into unconsciousness again.
Ryan lay her gently down on the bed. "I'll be here when you wake up" he whispered in her ear. He stood up and walked over to the doctor's office. Ciara sat at the desk busy going over charts. "Doc, can I have a word?" He asked.
"Of course," she said, placing the PADD down that she had been going over.
"Why hasn't anything about Karissa's DNA manipulation come up in any scans before? I mean, surely someone must have noticed it?"
"What?" Ciara said with surprise. "DNA manipulation?" This was something Ming had not told her. Quickly, she brought up Karissa's DNA scan. She looked over it, and it seemed perfectly normal. At least, at first glance. But as she delved closer, something did seem odd . . . as if certain things were too perfect. "There is something different about it . . . But I don't know what it is . . . Ming is the one that must have found something. Karissa was with him before all this happened."
"I think I'll have to have a talk with Mr. Wang when he gets back from charting that nebula." Ryan took a seat and made himself comfortable.
"Sir, I don't think now's the best time for that," Ciara said. "He's been through a lot. The baby Karissa lost was Ming's--its DNA was consistent with that of an Asian male combined with Karissa's, and he did mention being intimate with her. He's taken it pretty badly. The past few weeks have been very rough on him, and losing the baby was just too much. I gave him a sedative and had him returned to his quarters." Ryan sensed her concern was somewhat more than clinical.
"Your point is taken. I can assign the charting mission to someone else, or leave it until later--it's not really that critical," Ryan replied. "What are the chances of the other babies surviving?" he asked, making a mental note to have someone talk to Ming later. *He'll need support, too--preferably from someone not involved with all of this.*
"They both seem to be developing well, but . . . if Karissa's DNA was altered, we can't be sure what pregnancy will do to her or the babies . . . She'll have to be monitored . . . But if all goes well, they should both survive and be born very healthy," Ciara explained with a gently smile.
"Can you scan to find out who the other fathers are?" He asked.
"Is there any particular reason you would like to know?" she asked. "I'm not sure if that would be breaking my doctor/patient privilege . . . The only people that would have a right to know, outside of Karissa would be the fathers . . ."
Ming had told her that two other men had been involved that night in the holodeck. Suddenly, it occurred to her who at least one of the other men there was . . . Captain Ryan Evans . . .
Ryan knew she wouldn't tell him, even if she did know. "Doctor... Tirena is it?" he asked, unsure of her name.
"Tierro," she said, "Ciara Tierro."
"Ms. Tierro, I am not being critical of you in any way, but I'm going to bring down Commander Markos to have a look over her. He has had a few more years experience in medicine than you have and may be able to do more." Ryan wasn't sure what exactly Kira could do for Karissa that Tierro couldn't, but he wanted her to have the best possible treatment. "I just want the best for her. You don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all, Captain," Ciara replied, with a gentle smile. "She's my friend, and I want the best possible care for her too . . . If Commander Kira can give it, then that's all that matters." She was now picking up his concern about Karissa beyond what she had felt earlier. His feelings were strong and clear as she allowed his feeling to penetrate her mind. He was in love with her.
"I'll see that Kira comes down
in the morning." said Ryan standing up. "Keep an eye on Mr. Wang,
though. He sounds like he's in pretty bad shape. And when he's able, I'd like
to speak with him. "He headed back out toward Karissa and sat down beside
her again. True to his promise, he would be there when she woke up. He picked
up his PADD and got back to his reading.