"A Normal Life Lost?"

Author: Lieutenant Commander Karissa Bentara
Date: July 11, 2384
Location: Karissa's Office / Ryan's Quarters

Karissa had felt Ryan's disappointment after the briefing about the nano-probes and it weighed on her the rest of the day. His disappointment was so strong, it was almost as if she could have reached out and touched it. He was disappointed that he couldn't give her the worry- free life she wanted. In truth, she had liked her abilities - her agility and prowess had served her well. But it had been her learning oif her creation and the subsequent problems that had arisen that had made her yearn for a normal life. But she would make it a point to try to accept herself for who she was . . . An old Earth prayer came to her suddenly. One she had repeated to her patients:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference . . .

It was time she took her own advice . . .

As her last scheduled patient left, she recorded some notes on a PADD, made a notation of the next appointment and stood to leave. She closed her eyes and got an image of Ryan in his quarters. He was still upset. With a gentle sigh, she tried to devise a plan to make him see that she was okay and would be even better in time . . . Suddenly, she felt a soft kick and smiled.

"Don't worry, little ones. Your daddy - or rather one of your daddys will be just fine . . ." An image of Will also entered her mind. He was another matter, she thought. She would do what she could to help him as well, if he would accept her help.

With an action plan forming. she left her office.

Ryan sat on the couch in his quarters staring at a bottle of vodka and a half-filled glass. He just sat and starred. His mind kept turning over the lost opportunity for Karissa . . . And yet he knew he had made the right decision. The right decision. The only decision possible . . . So why did it upset him so, he wondered.

This must be one of those times Starfleet had been so concerned about, he mused. He could have made an emotional decision. A wrong choice. but he didn't. He couldn't. Only the right choice felt wrong on an emotional level. He picked up the glass of vodka and put it down once again..

Suddenly, the door to his quarters slid open. He watched as Karissa entered slowly and gradually like a cat, following the shadows, until she finally stepped into the light. In her hands she held a single red rose. Her smile was soft and tender.

"Hi," she said as she gazed at him.

"Karissa . . ." he replied, a bit surprised. "What are you doing here?" he asked gently.

"Well, I figured we were spending so much time in my quarters, it was time we spent some in yours," she answered, walking to the couch and sitting beside him. "This is for you," she continued, handing him the rose.

He smiled as he looked at it and then at her. "Thank you," he replied and gently set it on the table.

"Were you planning on having a party without me?" she asked playfully, looking at the liquor bottle.

Suddenly he let loose a deep sigh as he leaned forward, running his hands through his hair with all the emotions that had been coursing through him coming to the surface once again.

"Kari . . ." he replied, not knowing what to say. Frustration and sadness laced his voice, along with a certain amount of helplessness.

She understood and gently embraced him. "It's all right, Ryan . . . Really . . ."

"And how can that be?" he asked. "You have wanted this nightmare to be over, and the chance was right there, in front of us and it slipped through our hands!" he said with frustration.

"To save Gregholt," she reminded.

He sighed and nodded.

"Ryan, I never disliked my abilities, but I disliked how I was created . . . How I had gotten these gifts and what the prices has been for us . . . But I need to accept who and what I am, and . . . I need you to help me do that," she said.

He looked up and his dark eyes met hers. This was the first time he had seriously heard the resolution in her voice. That she wanted to accept herself. Tenderly, he reached out and let his hand run through her hair as his thumb caressed her cheek.

"How can I do that?" he asked.

"Just by what you have been doing," she replied, taking his free hand in hers. "For loving me and accepting me for the woman I am . . . As long as I see everyday that I am more than was I was designed to be . . . It will eventually sink in."

"Oh, Kari . . ." he said. "That won't ever change with me. I'll remind you every hour of every day if I need to. You are so much more that what anyone could have imagined . . . You're human . . ."

With that he drew near her, taking her in a gentle, yet passionate kiss.