Posted on July 6th, 1999 by Ashleigh Kendrall
“Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind.”
The small girl, about five terran years old, hesitated. “Nothing,” she responded in a quiet voice.
“There must be something on your mind.”
“Do you miss your parents?” he pressed.
“I don’ wanna talk ’bout it.”
“Okay…” he persisted still, “Would you like to play a game?”
The girl’s eyes darted about nervously, glancing around the office. “What kin’a game?”
“Do you want to play it?”
The girl sat, quiet, for a few moments. Finally, the invitation to play a game won out. “‘Tay.”
“What are you thinking about this *very* moment.” It wasn’t even said as a question.
“I don’ wanna play no more,” she said immediately.
“No, no, you said you would play.”
The girl’s lower lip trembled as if she were going to cry. She didn’t though, as she glanced at the woman standing off to the side, and finally mumbled something barely audible.
“I don’ wanna live with Auntie Lara.” There. She had said it.
“Why you ungrateful little brat!” the woman exploded. She immediately stepped forward, striking the girl across the face. Grabbing the girl’s arm, she hauled the child up and started towards the door.
“Mrs. Travis–” the man interjected.
“Thank you for your help, Counselor,” Lara Travis snapped. Without another word, she led the frightened child out the door.
“Let go!” the child begged. “Please, Auntie Lara!” The door shut behind them and they continued down the corridor towards a turbolift. After stepping inside, Lara turned to face the girl.
“Ashleigh Kendrall, if you *ever* do something like that again, I swear…”
“…I swear, Ash, if you don’t wake up–”
“No! Don’t!” Ashleigh cried out, her eyes snapping open.
“Shh!” Jay fended himself off from Ashleigh’s hits, and grabbed her wrists. “Calm down!”
Ashleigh relaxed as her eyes focused, realizing where she was and what she was doing. “Oh Gods… I’m sorry,” she apologized hastily.
“It’s okay–” Jay started.
“How did you get in here?”
“You were late for duty and didn’t answer my comms…”
Ashleigh tuned him out, concentrating on telling herself, *It’s just a dream… Just a dream…* She had fallen asleep in her uniform, and was on the floor rather than the bed. The thought of sleeping on a Jem’Hadar’s bed simply creeped her out.
“Ash? Ashleigh? Are you sure you’re okay? Maybe we should go see Doctor Cai–”
“No! I mean, no, no, I’m fine,” she covered. “Let’s go, I don’t want to be any later than I already am.” See Doctor Caine? Ashleigh knew she’d have to. Eventually. But right now, she just wasn’t ready to do that. Not after what she’d told him.
Jay just nodded and shrugged. Ashleigh grabbed a ponytail, securing her hair, and followed him out to duty.