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"A Captain's Daughter Doesn't Cry" by Tara

Author: Tara - tara9@eircom.net

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters etc. etc. etc.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The Captain's daughter wonders when it's okay to cry when faced with a loss.

*

"Hey kiddo."

I feel a hand on my shoulder and the subdued voice of Tom Paris behind me. Somewhere, faintly, very faintly, I remember that I hate it when people call me kiddo, but its significance is buried quickly, without conscious thought. I sigh as I turn to see his meek smile.

His arm snakes around my shoulders and he squeezes my arm as I tear my eyes away from the back of the room.

"How you holding up?"

God I wish he'd just go away, and why do people feel the need to ask such pointless and needless questions at a time like this? Can't they see the silence is there because it's welcomed?

I don't answer him and he seems disturbed by it. Tom is a good man; he's about the only one without a pole up his ass all the time where `kids' are concerned. He's the only one who sees me as someone intelligent and not some mindless seventeen year old, but right now he's about to undermine all my better views of him.

My eyes drift back to where he stole them from and I sadly look upon the only other man who understands who I really am. My father. Just minutes ago he was wearing a hole in the Doc's carpet, but now . now he's simply standing there. Frozen, lost, hurt, in shock . His eyes haven't moved from the biobed, haven't moved from her.

I feel the unfamiliar sting of tears in my eyes and an unwelcome constriction in my throat. I clamp my mouth tightly to prevent the release of the tension in my throat and I blink back the tears. It works . for now.

I inhale a deep breath in quick shudders and I can feel Tom's eyes on me again, but I don't care. Maybe if I don't pay him any attention he'll just go away.

Dad has finally moved. His hands are covering his face and he rubs them over it vigorously, for what purpose, only he knows. As he slowly pulls his hands from his face, inch-by-inch, he steps a little closer to the biobed. As he reaches it, his hands have fallen to his sides and finally I can see wetness glisten in his eyes and tumble down his cheeks.

The constriction has returned, more powerful than ever, as has the stinging behind my eyes. I try harder; I try my best not to cry. If Mom were here she'd say `a Captain's daughter doesn't cry'. She used to say that when I was younger, she knew it stopped me whining when she didn't want to listen. She knew I was too bloody scared to disappoint her by continuing. But she only said it when there was no need for tears. Right now the release of tears is too overwhelming, even for Dad, and I know she wouldn't mind . just this once. If she were here, she'd probably cry too, maybe I can cry for her too. just this once.

So I do, I cry my heart out. Dad has eventually descended to his knees and is shaking with his own sobbing, his tears rolling onto the lifeless hand he holds in his own. I wonder if her hand is cold yet, I wonder do the tears warm it as they travel over the pale skin, or is it still warm, the tears cold? Does it matter at all when she can't feel it to tell me?

I take a step closer but stop as I hear Dad muttering through the wracking sobs. I don't want to intrude so I just watch and listen. I'm not good at the comforting thing, many would say I'm more like my mother than my father for that, but where Dad is concerned, Mom was the only one who could ever comfort him like this.

"Kim to Sickbay." arry's voice has filtered through the thick, heavy air of the room.

My eyes, sore and more than likely swollen and red, scan the room through a film of tears. Tom has gone, obviously having gotten my message and the Doc hasn't been seen since...

The breath I draw comes quickly and panic surges through me. There's no one here to answer Harry but me. Dad hasn't even heard his hail; he's completely lost within the area of that biobed. I don't want to answer Harry, I can't possibly form a sentence with much coherence right now, my throat is almost closed. But I have to.

"Ash here Harry." I know my voice is damn near unrecognisable. Harry seems to hesitate and I wonder if my voice sounded even worse than I thought.

"The Captain..." He trails off and I feel a fresh wave of grief and heartache. Harry doesn't know how to finish and I don't blame him.

"I understand... thank you Harry." I cut the link and tears that I had feared were running dry, sprang vitally from my eyes.

My attention focuses back on Dad, he hasn't even acknowledged the brief exchange between Harry and I. He'll be better in a few minutes... well better than he is right now.

My heart stops as I hear the doors behind me open and I swirl around to the person in the doorway. Our eyes meet and I can be strong no longer . I feel every nerve in my body react to those eyes, the pain, the knowledge, the understanding. I feel my legs buckle beneath me before I feel arms around me and another set of sobs, fresh tears on my neck and soft, strangled whispers of shared pain in my ear.

We stumble, drawn to Dad as he notices us finally and encloses us in his arms and we cry together. For the first time I know it's okay to cry, I feel no shame in it; I feel no duty to keep the tears at bay.

A Captain's daughter can cry if her sister can't feel tears on her skin anymore.

*

The End
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