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More of a what if story.

I wrote this just in case we decided to go the destruction route - but at the same time it deals with a subject we rarely talk about - the war widow. This story deals with two women who need to stay strong - despite their grief and loss.

Star Trek: Starbase 719 (AU)
Name: Those Left Behind
Rating: PG-13
Words: 4351
Stardate 65300.1 (Apr 20, 2388)
Starbase 719

Sitting in her office, Captain Cathryn Elisabeth Pearson was busy with the paperwork that was associated with her new duties as she transitioned into a role normally handled by the base’s commanding officer. She was still a bit worried about the twin girls growing inside her despite the fact that Dr. Sylvan Xaran said that everything was fine and she was both stronger and in better health than she was twenty years ago.

After she had miscarried in 2367 she was afraid that it would happen again. It was certainly an experience that she did not want to ever have happen again; certainly not this time. She knew without a shadow of doubt that such a thing would devastate her as these twins were all she had left of Konstantin. There were times through the years when she wondered if she truly had a miscarriage, or if something else was amiss.

Those thoughts surfaced again when the Pariah showed up and Commander Spaak asked her how Stephen was doing at Starfleet Academy and again when the Independence-C showed up from Hans’ reality. In 2367, Athena had told her the baby was strong and healthy and she should have a relatively normal pregnancy. Then, less than twelve hours later after being given a hypo of what she was told was vitamins she miscarried. Seeing the young man face-to-face, it only brought those thoughts to the forefront again. The visit left her with one nagging question in the back of her mind; one that she doubted she could face if it were to be true. Did Starfleet Intelligence or Section 31 visit the sins of the father onto the child?

When they had returned from Earth in October she asked Lady Val if she could covertly find out what happened twenty years ago; especially after seeing the young man in person and how much he looked like his biological father. That quest was put on the back burner for now because of what had happened with the Kairn. Unfortunately with the Pariah gone and Konstantin as well, she decided it best to let sleeping dogs lie.

At the moment, Spacedock was barely operational and Starfleet Corps of Engineers were still repairing the damage. Many of the civilians had returned already, including the Admiral’s family. Twenty years ago she couldn’t imagine Val as a mother, yet Cathryn envied how she was able to handle the duties of both running the Starbase, the Sector and four young children at home.

The main battles at the base were over but everyone worried that the Kairn would return. This was her home and despite the potential danger she wanted to be here. Here, on the edge of the frontier of the Federation there was always potential danger. The Admiral’s children had returned along with her parents. If it wasn’t safe, they wouldn’t be here.

She knew that she was near the end of this pregnancy, and only had a few weeks left to go; if that, as she was already at 36 weeks. She had an appointment with Dr. Xaran in a little while and she should finally know when she would get to hold her girls for the first time.

***

Upon arriving at the CMO’s office, Dr. T'Pania found Dr. Sylvan Xaran at his desk, still struggling with the number one demon of his position, all of the paperwork.

“How many times has your wife offered to teach you effective methods of handling the stuff?” T’Pania asked.

“More times than I care to count,” Xaran replied.

Dr. T’Pania went to the replicator and replicated some tea and returned, offering to help with the pile of padds on Xaran’s desk.

They worked together on the files until almost 0800 when Lt. (jg) Nadaja h’Ryea, the Andorian head nurse walked in. “Good morning doctors. Dr. Xaran, Captain Pearson is here for her appointment.”

“Thank you.” Xaran replied to h’Ryea. He turned to T’Pania and said, “Care to join me?”

“I would. Multiple births are quite rare amongst Vulcans; especially when the fetuses are genetically identical.” The two rose and went to see Cathryn who was waiting for her weekly check-up. They found her leaning against one of the diagnostic beds. She looked like she was past full-term and definitely uncomfortable. Sylvan grabbed a tricorder and scanned her.

“How are you feeling Cathryn?” he asked.

“The pain in my back seems worse today. I asked Val if she would help make it more bearable, but she said I had to see you first.”

“Good course of action, considering. The scan indicates you will go into active labor within the next few days. Probably not today; but sometime during the next few days you should start feeling some regularity to your contractions. The twins have surpassed their individual target weight of 1.85 kilograms each and their lungs are mature. Starting tomorrow I want you to report here before and after each of your duty shifts.” Xaran told her; but he noticed Pearson’s worried look. “Everything is fine. I’m just monitoring you for signs of active labor. Until then, my best suggestion is get all the rest you can. You’re going to need it. I’ll see you here tomorrow morning Cathryn.”

Cathryn looked up at Sylvan. She held out her hand to him to help her into a standing position, which he obliged. She was wearing a uniform variation which flared under the red yoke to cover her belly and allow for comfort. It was beginning to fit snugly around her abdomen.

She ran her hand over her belly as she walked back to her office, and to herself she mused, “Up to another week? Truthfully I don’t know how Val was able to do this five times for over 40 weeks each time. I feel like I’m carrying around a pile of moving bricks. These two have been taking turns kicking both each other and just about every internal organ of mine they can find.”

Upon reaching her office, Cathryn looked across to the other side of the deck where the Admiral’s office was. She looked over at the empty, dark office next to it as a tear ran down her cheek. Running her hand over her belly, she was able to feel one of the twins moving around.

“You promised me you would be here when I returned from Kos’Karii,” she said quietly as she turned around and headed into her office.

Later that evening Holosuite 14 was buzzing with activity. Lt. Commander Marie Quintero, long-time aide to Rear Admiral Val’ri Raiajh had made the arrangements for the baby shower for the Executive Officer, Captain Cathryn Pearson.

Down in the holosuite, Marie was setting up with the help of Lady Val Spaak, Admiral Raiajh, her children Katrina and Julian and niece Ayana. The Admiral’s year-old son was sleeping quietly in his carrier.

“Admiral, are we going to be playing any games tonight?” Quintero asked. Despite being told by Raiajh that she could call her Val while off duty, Quintero never felt comfortable doing so. It was just too confusing at times.

Raiajh replied. “Ayana is going to be the hostess tonight, so it’s up to her if we have any games. Take a few minutes with her to bring her up to speed while Katrina, Julian and I finish setting up.”

“Are you sure? She’s only twelve.”

“Marie, she asked for the responsibility. We will both be here to help if she needs it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Quintero replied as she and Lady Val took Ayana off to the side to discuss the evening’s itinerary.

While the three were discussing the details, the doors opened to admit Lt. Ashari Pel. Ashari looked as sad as several of the others in the room this night. Along with Cathryn, Lady Val and Marie, she too lost someone she cared about when the Pariah suffered its cascade failure and destruction near Kos’Karii after the battle to save the starbase from the Karin.

Although she had yet to tell anyone, in a few months’ time there would be another happy, yet solemn occasion like this, as they remembered the past and celebrated the fact that at least a piece of what was lost would live on.

***

Stardate 65311.5
Starbase 719

Captain Cathryn Pearson had gone into active labor about ten hours earlier, while on duty. Lady Val took on the role of birthing coach and had remained by her side the entire time. Giving support to Cathryn at a time when what should have been a happy occasion, was marred by sad reality that someone was missing.

Although she was being monitored by Dr. Sylvan Xaran during the pregnancy, it was Sylvan’s sister, Jill, who had the honors this evening as Cathryn was not comfortable with anyone but Jill delivering the babies.

“As soon as you feel your next contraction, I want you to push.” Jill told her.

“Can’t you just beam them out?” she asked in a rather perturbed manner.

“Sorry, some things we still like to do the old-fashioned way. Neither you or the babies are in any distress.”

“Says you.”

“I know you can do it. Just give me one big push.” Cathryn complied, squeezing Lady Val’s hand. Jill looked up and saw that she was the one in quite a bit of pain, but did not make a sound. When the contraction eased up so did Lady Val’s discomfort. “I need one more push Cathryn. This time, try not to break Val’s hand.”

She complied, although Val was still in quite a bit of pain each time she squeezed. Soon they were greeted with the sound of crying.

“It’s a girl,” Jill told them. A few minutes later, Dr. Jill Xaran made the second announcement. “And here’s her sister. Computer, please make an entry in the station’s log that on Stardate 65311.5 Elisabeth Rose and Katerina Konstantinova Harkonnen were born three minutes apart to Commander Konstantin Dimitrievich Harkonnen and Captain Cathryn Elisabeth Pearson.”

Cathryn looked up and said, “No, they will have the name of Pearson. While I don’t want to hide the fact that they are Konstantin’s girls, I want them to be able to thrive without being compared to their father.”

Jill understood and amended the log entry.

Twenty minutes later the twins were cleaned up and his hand was mended. Lady Val just sat there and held Elisabeth Rose. It still felt a bit surreal, considering Konstantin had waited so long to get Cathryn.

Cathryn was holding little Katerina Konstantinova and looked over and said to Lady Val, “Sorry about your hand.”

“It happens. I’m just happy it’s over,” she said.

Dr. Sylvan Xaran walked in and smiled as he spoke up, “Believe me, it’s not over. In fact, it’s just beginning.”

Lady Val replied, “Oh, believe me, I know. Raising twins isn’t easy. However, I was talking about my hand. I had forgotten how strong a grip Cathryn had.”

Sylvan looked over at Lady Val and shook his head as he tried not to laugh, “Jill told me about that. Four hairline fractures? I only had three after Elayne.”

She replied a little sadness in her voice, “I heard that from Hans.”

Rear Admiral Val’ri Raiajh walked in at that moment and with a slight smile, replied, “That night I picked up Andorian, Klingon, Romulan, Standard and Tellerite. He learned it from his grandfather.”

Lady Val laughed, “That doesn’t surprise me. He may have also picked it up from Ellie’s grandfather.”

“I came to see how Cathryn and the girls were doing, not talk about Sylvan’s grandfather.”

Cathryn replied, “It’s not something I want to repeat, but we’re all as well as can be.”

“When you need help, let us know. Everyone is willing to work with you,” the Admiral told her.

“Would you like to hold her?” Lady Val asked as she crossed the room to her ‘sister’ with the little girl.

“Another time. I want Cathryn to enjoy what leave she can, because I might not be able to give you all six weeks right now. It depends on what the Karin does next. Right now I need to get to my morning briefing.”

***

Stardate 65643.3

Down in the still battle-damaged spacedock, crews were working to get the area fully up and running again. At the moment only small shuttles were allowed to enter and unload crew and supplies. Despite promising to rest Ashari Pel was working to help keep her mind off the pain and emptiness she felt. She returned to her quarters to rest for eight hours but other than that she kept herself busy by working wherever she was needed. Either on the bridge, down here in space dock or any of the other areas that needed to be repaired.

Behind her she was approached by a Vulcan male dressed in attire typical for his species. “You should be resting more,” Tolek told her.

“I can’t. I sleep as much as I can, but if I stop to rest, I remember things that I don’t wish to think about right now. So I keep busy, to keep my mind off the pain,” she replied.

Tolek was only concerned about her well-being. He had known and mentored Topuc growing up and as a way of honoring the memory of the man, he watched after Ashari, as well as the child growing inside her.

“At least take a break and get yourself something to eat. You must keep your strength up for what lies ahead.”

“I will eat soon, Professor.”

Looking over at Ashari, Chief of Operations B’Elanna Torres looked over and said, “Take a break Ashari, you have been at this for hours. Go with the professor and get something to eat.”

Ashari relented and got up and followed Professor Tolek to the nearest eatery, which was a replimat just outside the embarkation area. She got something to eat and sat down with the Professor sitting opposite her.

“When does the hurt go away?” she asked.

“It never fully goes away, Ashari. Even Lady Val will tell you that. She’s still hurting, but doing all she can to be there for her children. I can only hope this time she can learn to move on. From what she told me of the time before she met Hans, she wasn’t able to do that. Even if she doesn’t find someone new, this time, I think she has a better chance of standing on her own.”

“How am I supposed to do this alone, Professor? I never even got a chance to tell Topuc. He died not even knowing he was going to be a father. I was going to tell him when the ship returned to the base.”

“Life doesn’t always go as we plan. Like Captain Pearson you will learn to adjust.”

“Is she adjusting? She’s trying to be strong for the twins, but you can still see the hurt in her eyes,” Ashari retorted.

“The Pariah and most of her crew may be gone, as well as Konstantin, but their memory lives on in those who remember them. And they will be remembered. Through Topuc you learned that you can trust, and through that trust you found strength and healing that you may not have found otherwise. Not to mention the life growing inside you. Through her, and what you impart to her, Topuc’s memory will live on,” Tolek told her.

“I know, Professor. However, that thought isn’t very comforting right now. I miss Topuc holding me while I slept and comforting me when I needed comfort. It’s hard to move on; because when it’s time for this little girl to arrive,” Ashari said, rubbing her belly, “It’s going to be a somber, bittersweet event instead of the happy, joyous event it should be.”

Tears formed in Ashari’s eyes and she rested her head in her hands and began to weep openly. Her emotional anguish was evident. When she found out she was pregnant, she couldn’t wait for Topuc to return to the base to tell him. Instead all she had were memories of something that was tangible for a fleeting moment. The universe gave her something she had hoped for, for a long time, and then in the next moment took it away.

At a nearby table Station’s counselor, Tobias Wyatt had noticed Ashari crying and went over to comfort her.

“Come, Ashari, we can go back to my office and talk,” he said in a calming voice.

She nodded and rose, leaving her food behind.

***

Stardate 65740.3

As it was less than six months earlier, Holodeck 14 was the center of another baby shower for a member of the crew. Ashari had felt better emotionally as the days went on, her counseling sessions with Counselor Wyatt helped greatly. While she still cried now and again, there were more days than not, where she was adjusting to the new responsibility that was almost upon her.

She took a deep breath and let it out as she headed into the Holodeck to meet friends. What surprised her most was who she saw first when the doors parted.

“Charissa!” she exclaimed as she walked over and hugged the woman she had not seen since she left the starbase a year earlier. She then hugged the man next to her. “It’s good to see you too Enitan.”

“You’re looking good Ashari,” Charissa commented. “I’m sorry Topuc isn’t here to see this. He would have been a great father.”

“I know,” Ashari replied. “It’s been rough, and if it wasn’t for your dad and Counselor Wyatt, I don’t think I would have made it this far. The first few months after the initial battle here at the Starbase were the worst. When the fighting was over, the Pariah was nowhere to be found. From what we were able to gather, they phased and flew through the Corsair, picked up Konstantin and headed to Kos’Karii; presumably to pick up Lady Val and the kids. But we aren’t sure what happened after that because all the Proud Vengeance found was the remains of the Pariah. Everything matched, including the quantum signature that was slightly different than ours, but did match Lady Val’s signature. We aren’t sure why they took Konstantin, as the crew on the Corsair said he wasn’t that badly injured. If the Klingons recovered a ‘black box’ of some kind they aren’t saying.”

Charissa hugged her again, this time more warmly. “I’m sorry this happened. I was hoping that you and Topuc would have a nice long life together.”

“Me too,” Ashari replied, “but war happens, and we lose the things that matter most to us.”

Others had walked in while they spoke. After a while, Lady Val spoke up. “I know tonight is supposed to be about Ashari, but before we begin the baby shower, I wanted to do something a little different at the request of our guest of honor. It’s been almost six months since the Battle of Starbase 719, and the final removal of the Karin from the base. The Betazoid culture has always been rich in symbolism, and while many who died were not of Betazed, I still find this ritual helps in the healing process. I want everyone to take a turn, if they wish, and impart a good memory of someone they lost during the war with the Karin. Ashari, would you like to begin?”

Ashari nodded, and said, “I remember the first time I met Topuc. Charissa and I were assigned to help him with some repairs on the bridge of the Pariah…”

***

Stardate 64175.3

LTJG Charissa Xaran and LT Ashari Pel made their way to the bridge of the Pariah. They were sent by the Chief of Operations to assist the First Officer of the Pariah, a Sub-Commander by the name of Topuc with the new communications array.

Arriving on the bridge they found someone working under one of the stations on the bridge. The longish, somewhat wavy auburn hair and slender backside was all that the two women saw. Ashari recognized who it was from some of the vids she saw; ones that she didn’t show Charissa.

Charissa said, "Excuse me, ma’am, we're looking for Sub-Commander Topuc." Standing slightly behind Charissa, Ashari suppressed a laugh, knowing that it wasn’t a woman, but the person they were seeking. Charissa had played jokes on her more than once, and she felt that this was more than fair recompense.

"You've found him," he said pulling his head out of the panel and looking at them. His face was streaked with dirt. "Are you the Starfleet specialists here to help me put the new communications array in?"

"Yes; Charissa Xaran and Ashari Pel. The Chief of Operations sent us to help," Charissa replied. “I’m sorry I called you ma’am.”

"Welcome aboard the Pariah and no worries; you aren’t the first," Topuc said grinning. "I'm Topuc, First Officer and Science Officer of the Pariah. And currently the acting chief engineer. I'd offer to shake your hand, but they’re currently occupied. Could one of you please, please pretty please scratch the tip of my nose?"

Charissa was getting ready to step forward to the task when, to her surprise, Ashari reached up and scratched the tip of his nose. It surprised Charissa because she usually shirked from men she didn’t know, but for some reason she found Ashari completely at ease around this particular male.

"Is that better sub-commander?" Ashari asked with a smile.

"Oh thank you. But, please, its Topuc or Puck, not sub-commander," he said grinning. "You don't know how good it is. I've been so busy since we've pulled in. I'm looking forward to getting to work with you. I've heard that you're a damn good engineer. Your mom and dad said that you're one of the best. Do you know anything about Orion, Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan systems?" Topuc asked.

"I'm a quick study, besides Commander Torres keeps us on our toes. Thanks to her I have seen some Klingon ones and I've help out a few Romulans along the way, " Charissa replied, adding, "Sometimes I don't get my mom, she's part Vulcan but she loves to brag about us kids . Hell she even brags a bit about Ashari.”

Charissa glanced over at Ashari. What surprised her was Ashari didn’t mention that the two were bonded which was what she usually did at this point and was something she usually didn’t neglect to mention.

“We've got equipment from everywhere and at times it's a real pain getting them all to work together. But the computer system I’ve built has made them all work like clockwork. It's only when we're upgrading does it get bad.”

For several hours Charissa left Ashari on the bridge with Topuc, as she felt completely at ease with the odd Vulcan male who seemed both mature and childlike at the same time.

When she returned several hours later, the two were sitting on the deck enjoying lunch which was brought up from the ship’s mess hall, probably by one of the stewards. Charissa was surprised as they were sitting on the deck, with one of his knees touching one of hers. Observing them, slightly hidden, the two reminded them of her parents, her adopted parents, when she first went to live with them. Now she saw those same mannerisms in Ashari and Topuc.

***

Stardate 65743.4

It was about 11 pm on board the base and Ashari was resting. Suddenly she woke with a sharp pain in her abdomen and a wet feeling between her legs. She tapped her commbadge and said, “Ashari Pel to Dr. Sylvan Xaran.”

“Xaran here, what’s wrong Ashari?” he replied in a tone that indicated that he had been asleep.

“It’s time,” she replied. “My water broke. I’m heading over to Infirmary one.”

“I’ll be there in a few minutes. Xaran out.”

Ashari got out of bed and put a robe on over her bedclothes and took the small bag that she packed with contained clothes for her and the baby to return here.

As she walked to the infirmary, she found Charissa walking in the hall toward the quarters that she was provided while visiting her parents on the base. Seeing her discomfort, Charissa took her bag and said, “Come, let me help you get to the Infirmary.”

“Thanks. You don’t have to do this,” Ashari replied.

“I know I don’t. But I want to. You should have a friend with you at a time like this,” Charissa replied.

The two walked on toward the infirmary where Dr. Xaran was waiting for them.

He led Ashari to a birthing chair and Charissa followed behind them, hoping to continue to offer comfort to someone she still considered a friend.

Ashari labored for almost twelve hours before she was finally greeted by a strong and healthy cry. Dr. Xaran cut the cord and wrapped the girl up in a blanket and he handed her to Ashari. Ashari took the bundle and looked at her. The girl had the upswept eyebrows and pointed ears of her father, as well as her spots. Pushing the blanket back to see more of the girl, she noticed the spots traveled from her temple down to her feet. She wrapped her up again and smiled. “Welcome T’Mera. Sorry your Daddy couldn’t be here to meet you. But just because he’s not here, doesn’t mean he doesn’t send his love to you every day.”

T’Mera’s little hand grabbed one of Ashari’s fingers and held on, the grip surprisingly strong. She gurgled for a moment before settling down, being comforted by her mother’s heartbeat.

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