DISCLAIMER: The characters and locations used in this story are owned completely and solely by Paramount Pictures Inc. I have borrowed them here in an attempt to create a fictional episode of the television show "Deep Space Nine" The story and all elements (other than characters and locations) of the story belong to Patricia L. Ennis. This story is for private amusement only and may not be reprinted or uploaded elsewhere without this header intact. With that small amount of legalese out of the way, please enjoy the story and let me know what you think. Oh, a word to the hard core fans: I mean no disrespect whatsoever and do not wish to step on any toes or offend anyone's sensibilities. In that regard, be forewarned that this story does contain a romantic relationship between two women. I welcome all comments and criticisms EXCEPT those involving insults in regards to the subject matter. It is 1996 isn't it? One last note. This story does not really have a time period. It is simply an alternate story line kind of thing. Something that might have happened. (If everybody was open minded that is.) ;) (Oh, and, I know Sisko was promoted. Personally, I think Commander Sisko sounds better. So, For the sake of my story, please forgive me.)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Patricia L. Givens


Major Kira Nerys leaned against the balcony at Quarks, looking down at the crowd below. "Just the usual," she said to herself with a sigh. "Businessmen, tourists, smugglers....Morn."

She sipped her drink and shook her head. It was always so boring when Dax left.

"Commander!" she called out, having caught a glimpse of Sisko through the crowd. He smiled and made his way casually through the throng. Not that he had to fight his way over. Crowds always seemed to part for the Emissary.

"Major," he grinned, with a nod. "I trust you're amusing yourself?"

"Here? Not Likely. It was the only place I could think of that might be little more interesting. When does her ship get in?"

Sisko smiled at her eagerness for a friendly face. "Well, if you mean Dax..."

"Of course!"

"She should be here in the next hour. I didn't know you were missing her quite so badly."

"Well, I will say that things are always more interesting when she's around." Kira grinned ruefully. "I'm sure Odo doesn't miss her though."

Sisko laughed. "If she moves his furniture one more time, I think he's likely to throw her in the brig."

Kira grinned. "You know, it took me a long time to realize that Dax HAD a sense of humor. I still wonder why she plays with Odo." She raised her eyebrows at the Commander. "There are certainly more interesting targets."

"Are you volunteering Major? Because I'm sure I could put a word in with the old man for you..."

Kira laughed as O'Brien's voice came over the comm.

"Ops to Sisko."

"Sisko here, go ahead."

"Commander," Chief O'Brien's voice sounded strained. "We need you up here."

"What's wrong?"

"There's a problem...it's the Rio Grande."

Kira touched his sleeve. "That's Jadzia's runabout."

Sisko nodded. "What KIND of problem?"

A sound of frustration came over the line. "We've...we've lost her."


"She's just gone, Commander. One minute she was headed in, a bit early I might add, and the next second, she's off the screens."

"We're on our way."

"Unbelievable," O'Brien muttered to himself. "Can't have one quiet day..."

He began to punch commands into the console. "C'mon you hunk of junk!" With a hard kick, the computer chirped at him and began its reading.

"Hardly a scientific approach." Sisko remarked as he and Kira entered Ops. "Will that work on anything in this station?"

"I'm sorry, Commander. It's just so bloody frustrating." He ran his hand over his face. "I was talking to her. Something about a distortion she was reading, but I couldn't seem to pick it up. Then....nothing. I can't locate her anywhere in this sector."

"What about the wormhole?"

"There hasn't been any recent activity," Kira stated, watching a monitor a few feet away. "The last ship through docked over an hour ago."

Sisko massaged one temple with his left hand. "Did she say what kind of a distortion she was reading?"

O'Brien shook his head. "She mentioned a strange ionic pattern, did a bit of interesting swearing, and disappeared. I was never able to get any kind of reading at all. From my end, it was just her and empty space."


O'Brien turned towards Ensign Brena, a lovely Bajoran female. "What?"

"I have a ship approaching the docking ring. It just appeared out of no where. Readings show minimal life support and one very faint life sign..." Brena studied her screen, then glanced at Sisko. "It's the Rio Grande, Sir."

"On Screen!" Sisko and Kira barked at once.

The Ensign tapped her console and the ship appeared on the monitor.

There was something very wrong.

Sisko studied it for a moment. It was not flying so much as floating. It hung outside the docking ring, listing slightly to one side. "Lock on to life form and beam directly to sick bay-"

"Commander!" Kira grabbed him by the arm. "Brena said the life form was faint. You know transporting her in a weakened condition may harm the Symbiont."

"Do you have another suggestion, Major?"

"Beam me to the ship. I can pilot it in."

Sisko looked at her briefly, an unreadable expression on his face. Then he nodded and turned to the Ensign. "Is the life sign stable?"

"Yes, faint, but stable for the moment. However, I would suggest that whatever you are going to do, you do it fast."

Kira hurried to the transporter ring. "Now, Chief."

As soon as she materialized, Kira drew her phaser and cautiously looked around. The runabout seemed none the worse for wear. Nothing was thrown about, nothing charred, or melted. Nothing to indicate what may have happened. Moving slowly in the dark, she felt her way along, sliding her feet across the floor until they rested up against something soft. As she swung her light downwards, the beam cut across Dax, laying on her back in the middle of the runabout. Kira noted absently that it looked as though she had been arranged in a comfortable position by someone else. Kneeling beside her, she pulled out her tricorder and swept it over Jadzia's inert body. The lifesigns were reading stronger, but they were still rather faint.

"Dax," She gently touched her shoulder. "Dax, it's Kira...Can you hear me?"

Groaning slightly, Dax opened her eyes. "Hi."

"Hi." Kira smiled. "Are you strong enough to beam out?"

Jadzia looked confused for a second, her hands slowly running down her abdomen. "I think you'd better beam me out, Kira. Now." Her face went slack as she passed out.

Kira stood quickly and thumped on her comm badge. "Kira to Ops, Two to beam directly to sick bay, and make it quick Chief."

Dr. Julian Bashir sat at his console, humming along with the classical music emanating from hidden speakers. He smiled as the music ended and whispered, "Bravo. Now THAT was music."

He started slightly as O'Brien's voice came over the communicator. "Julian, we're beaming two directly to you. It's Dax. Major Kira is with her."

"Dax?" Bashir frowned. "What's happened?"

"We're not sure yet. Major Kira found her unconscious on the Rio Grande She woke up for a second, and then passed out again. Commander Sisko is on his way down to sickbay." O'Brien paused for a moment. "Julian, let me know what's going on, okay?"

"I will Chief. Beam them in."

Kira and Dax materialized before him. Dax was lying on her back, her head cradled in Kira's lap. The Major looked up and Bashir saw something very close to tears in her eyes.

"What happened?" He knelt beside them and lifted her off the floor. Carrying her over to an examination table, he gently laid her on its surface and began scanning her body from her head down. As he passed the medical tricorder over her abdomen, he stopped, a puzzled look on his face.

"I don't know." Kira shook her head. "Apparently, she ran into some kind of spacial distortion and her runabout disappeared. It reappeared about 20 minutes later, but it was dead in the water and Jadzia was like this."

Bashir massaged the side of his neck and muttered. "This isn't right. I'm getting some strange readings."

"What kind of readings?"

He looked at her and frowned. "If they're accurate, then the Dax symbiont...is gone."

Kira's jaw dropped. "What do you mean, gone? How can it be gone? She wasn't missing long enough for a procedure like that." She swallowed hard. "Is that why she's not waking up? I know the host can't survive without the symbiont once they've been joined. Julian.....are we going to lose her?"

"No, no, you're not understanding me," The corners of his lips turned up in a smile of amazement. "The symbiont wasn't just removed. It's as though it was never even there." His smile broadened at Kira's shocked look. "It seems as though we are going to get to meet the true Jadzia."

"That's....unbelievable. When will she regain consciousness?"

"Well, as near as I can tell, she is in some kind of regenerative state. Kind of like a healing stasis. It could be two hours, it could be two days. There's just no way to be sure." Glancing up, he caught her rubbing her eyes. "Why don't you get some sleep, Major. It will give me a little time to come up with some more precise answers." He put up his hand to stop her objections. "I promise to call you if anything changes."

Kira gave him a slightly mistrustful look, but nodded her agreement. "All right. I'll be in my quarters. Make sure you notify me immediately if anything happens, or you will have one very angry Bajoran female looking for you."

Bashir threw up his hands in playful defense. "Don't worry Major. There is nothing I fear more than that."

Kira smiled slightly and walked from the room.

Once she had left, and the door had slid shut behind her, Dr. Bashir turned and stared at the lovely Trill gracing his examination table. He reached out and softly caressed her cheek. "My god," he whispered. "You are so beautiful."

"Is that your professional opinion, Doctor?"

Julian turned to find Sisko standing by the door. "I, uhm.." Julian stammered. "I was not expecting you this soon."

"Obviously, " The Commander gave Bashir an odd little grin, and waved his hand in a sign of dismissal. "And how is our patient, Doctor Bashir?"

Julian became all business as he read his findings to Sisko, who merely nodded calmly to everything he said.

"So you're saying that she is fine?"

"Health wise? Yes, I would say that she is as healthy as she has ever been. But her symbiont is gone. I cannot even imagine what that may do to her mentally."

"When will she wake up?"

Julian laid a blanket on her. "If my readings are correct, she should awaken sometime in the next two days. Maybe even as early as tomorrow."

"Good." Sisko placed his hands together, the first fingers of each hand against his chin. "In that case, Doctor, maybe I should make something clear to you."

Julian turned to look him in the face.

"When Dax wakes up, she is going to be in a very fragile state of mind. And while the man I knew as Dax is gone, I have developed quite a liking for our young Jadzia." He stepped closer. "And, I would be quite put out if anyone was to take advantage of her current condition. Understood?"

Julian nodded quickly. "Understood."

"Good, notify me if her condition changes." With that, Sisko turned and left sickbay.

Julian sighed heavily and turned to Jadzia. "Talk about having friends in high places."

With that, he set Jadzia's computer to notify him if she awakened, and stretched out on a biobed well away from her.

It was dark. Really dark.

Jadzia groaned quietly and cracked one eye open. Correction, it was really late. She noticed an indicator flashing above her head and switched it off.

"Lights," she sat up and immediately regretted it as the room tilted dangerously to one side. She was in the process of passing out again when a strong hand took her arm and steadied her. She looked up and recognized a face through the receding haze. "Julian? I'm in sickbay?"

"Yes," Julian grabbed a tricorder and quickly scanned the length of her body. "The regeneration is complete. Everything looks good. How do you feel?"

"Odd." Jadzia shook her head, as if to clear it. She slowly set her hands on her abdomen. A look of infinite sadness crossed her face.

"Jadzia," Bashir began.

"It's okay, Julian. You don't need to tell me. I already know. I'm alone." She looked up at him through tears. "All I want to know now, is how it happened." A determined look replaced the tears. "And how we are going to get Dax back."

Bashir squeezed her shoulder. "We'll find out. I promise, I will do everything within my power to bring Dax back to you. But, for right now, I need to notify a couple of people that you're awake. If I want to live that is." He smiled and tapped his commbadge. "Bashir to Major Kira...."

"Are you sure you're all right?" Kira asked with concern.

"I feel fine." Jadzia gave her a small smile. "Just....lonely."

"Don't worry, old man," Sisko nodded at her reassuringly. "O'Brien, Bashir, and I are going to go over the Rio Grande with a fine tooth comb. It may take us a little while. But we will find some answers for you."

"Thank you, Benjamin." She looked very tired. "I'd like to go to my quarters now."

Sisko glanced at Bashir.

"She should be okay, but someone should really watch her. I'd be more than happy to-" Julian began, but Sisko cut him off.

"Major Kira, " He turned to her. "I would like for you to look after her for the next couple of days." He moved in closer and said in a low tone. "Take her to your quarters. I don't think being in hers will do her any good right now."

"Understood." She turned to Jadzia and said softly. "C'mon, come to my place. I've got a great replicator program for Bajoran breakfast cakes."

Jadzia smiled and took her offered hand. Leaning heavily against her, they walked out of sickbay. What an odd couple they must make, she thought. A six foot Trill being supported by a woman much smaller and slighter than her.

Sisko watched them go then turned to Bashir. "Well Doctor, I hope you got a little bit of sleep. Our day starts now. Contact the Chief and have him meet us on the Rio Grande. I need some coffee. I'll be at the replimat."

Bashir stifled a yawn and called for O'Brien. "Bring your sense of humor," He added. "It's going to be a long day."

Kira sat on the side of her bed, thinking Jadzia looked very young as she slept, tucked under the covers. She shook her head. Tucked under the covers?? Where the hell had that come from? She stood and walked away from the sleeping area.

She requested tea and sat at her computer console. She punched up the docking bay where Sisko and his crew were going over the Rio Grande. She watched as Bashir ran his tricorder over every inch of the hull. His thoroughness earned a grudging respect. Aside from how he acted when Dax was nearby, he was professional and completely competent. Not that she would ever tell him as much. She liked having him a bit nervous when she was around.

She checked over all of the reports that had been pieced together so far. Aside from some fair sized scratches under each of the nacelles, there was nothing odd about the ship. She magnified the scratches and was staring at them intently when she sensed someone behind her. "How do you feel?" She asked, turning around.

"Better." Jadzia stretched, putting her arms over her head and arching gracefully.

Kira was momentarily flustered. She attributed it to seeing Jadzia do something she had never seen Dax do. She was beginning to notice what Bashir had commented on, about meeting the true Jadzia. There was definitely something different about her, something softer, yet stronger as well. It was going to take some getting used to.

"I was just about to wake you up. Are you hungry?"

She thought about it for a few minutes and then smiled. "I think so.....it's so strange."

"What is?"

"I don't know if I can explain. It's like everything is new....almost. I've never had the opportunity to see the station this way." She looked hopefully at Kira.

"Oh, I don't know." Kira hedged. "You've just been through something pretty major. I think Sisko wanted you to rest."

"And how often have you put what Benjamin wanted first?" She had a perfectly charming smile on her face that Kira had never seen before. It seemed to be infectious. "Come on, Nerys. You know you want to do this for me."

Kira did a double take. Dax had never called her that before. Then again, Dax had never looked as irresistibly young before. "Okay," she shook her head even as she was agreeing. "Sisko's going to kill me, but, what the hell. After you eat, I'll take you anywhere on the station you want to go."

Jadzia smiled again and the Major couldn't help but smile back. "Do I remember you saying something about Bajoran breakfast cakes?"

Kira strode over to the replicator and came back with a plate filled with small steaming cakes. They smelled of honey and cinnamon. Jadzia's mouth began to water. She set the plate in front of her, along with a cup of tea. As she did so, she noticed that the night shirt she had lent Jadzia was more than a little short on her. "I'll run to your quarters if you'd like me too. I can grab some stuff you'll need over the next few days."

Jadzia looked at her for a long moment and then grinned. "I didn't realize for a moment what you were referring too. Wouldn't Julian love to see this shirt?"

"HE wouldn't be the only one." Kira muttered under her breath.

"Really?" She licked some syrup off of her fingers. "These are really good, Nerys. I've never had them before." She wiped off her hands and stood. "I think I'd like to go with you to get my stuff."

Kira gave her a concerned look.

"I have to go eventually. I know what you're worried about. But I am going to have to face this situation and I would rather do it now than later."

"Okay, okay. Get dressed." Kira watched her disappear into the bedroom. "Sisko is going to kill me."

"So," Sisko sipped his fourth cup of coffee. "What do we have so far?"

O'Brien looked at Bashir and sighed. He knew he'd end up being the mouth piece. "Well, so far, not very much. The biggest clues we've found are those scratches on the nacelles. If I were to hazard an opinion, I would say they are definitely clamp marks of some kind."

The Commander stroked his beard. "You're saying someone or something tractored the runabout and physically held it immobile?"

"That would explain the engine shut down. An overload is the only reason it would go off line like that." He scratched his head. "At this point, it's the only reasonable answer."

"Why don't we just take the next logical step?" Bashir finally cut in. "Let's follow the flight computer back along its original course."

"There's no guarantee that the individual responsible will still be in the same area." Sisko punched a few buttons on his PADD. "Maybe...."

"Maybe what?"

"Maybe she did something to attract attention. O'Brien, you said she was running a scan on a strange ionic pattern, correct?"

"That's right."

"Well, what if we did the same thing. If we follow her flight course and scan for the last ionic pattern in the computer, we have a good chance at picking up a trail!"

O'Brien checked the console. "The pattern is still there, Sir. I think that just might work."

Sisko smiled. "You have one hour gentleman. Get cleaned up and meet me back here. We're going hunting."

Kira and Jadzia stopped outside of Dax's quarters. Kira looked at her expectantly.

"I think I should go in by myself, Kira. I know you want to be there for me, but, this is something I really need to do by myself."

Kira nodded and Jadzia keyed the door. She walked inside and waited for the door to close behind her. "Lights."

The room was illuminated and Jadzia could not help but feel that she was trespassing somehow. It wasn't that she didn't remember her things. She knew exactly what everything was, she just couldn't remember why she had kept them. Her glance fell to a gleaming Bat'telh hanging on one wall. She walked over to it and ran her palm down the blade. There was nothing. Nothing except a deep feeling of loss, a shadow of a memory. Nothing more.

One tear rolled silently down her cheek as she realized that she hadn't kept very many things that were truly her own. Whether she had decided that there would be plenty of time later, or she had let her feelings of inadequacy stop her from collecting her own memories, she could not remember.

She quickly grabbed some leisure clothes, slammed them into a bag and headed out the door. In the hallway, Kira stood waiting for her with a smile that quickly turned down when she saw Jadzia. Placing an arm around her, she led her away.

They walked all around the station, watching the wormhole out of the ports, and as they did, Jadzia's mood lightened. When the finally ended up at Quarks, they were both laughing and enjoying themselves.

"Ladies," Quark said ingratiatingly. "I had a feeling you might be dropping by, so I saved you the best table in the house."

"You mean you heard we were heading this way. I know you Quark." Jadzia's tone was harsh, but her smile was playful. "C'mon Quack. Lead the way."

"The name is QUARK Lieutenant." He scratched his lobe. "I must say I have never seen you in this good of a mood. It suits you."

"You know something, Quark," Kira had a strange look on her face that melted into a lovely smile. "I never thought I would say this, but I agree with you."

Her commbadge beeped. "Sisko to Major Kira."

"Kira here, go ahead."

"We've decided to take the runabout out for a spin, Major. I think we may have found some answers, but we want to do some more checking before we jump to any conclusions. How is Jadzia?"

"I'm fine, Benjamin." Jadzia called over Kira's shoulder.

"And more obnoxious than ever." Quark commented.

"Major," Sisko's voice had dropped a couple of octaves. "Where are you?"

Kira made an 'I told you so' gesture to Jadzia and cleared her throat. "We're at Quarks, Commander."

"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I asked you to look after her."

"It was my idea, Benjamin." Jadzia cut in. "I didn't really give her any choice."

"And how are you feeling, old man?"

"I feel fine. I'll feel better when you have some answers.

"We're working on it, and we'll keep working on it until we have an answer."

"Thank you, Benjamin."

"No problem. We'll notify you when we get back. Sisko out."

"Quark, a bottle of Bajoran spring wine and two glasses." Kira began to walk away and then stopped smiling wickedly. "And clear out holosuite one." She took Jadzia by the arm. "I have a program I want to share with a friend."

Quark sighed and went to do as she had asked, mumbling something under his breath about Rule of Acquisition #94. If it were anybody but the Major, he would have laughed in their face. Somehow, Kira never seemed to get that kind of response from him.

"So, what are we doing?" Jadzia asked. She was sitting in the middle of the holosuite floor with a basket full of items Quark had 'donated'.

"Wait," Kira pressed a finger to her lips. "Watch."

Jadzia glanced around her as Kira called out, "Computer, run program Kira-4B."

As she watched, a soft wind came up and caressed her body. Jadzia sighed at its pleasant touch, then gasped as the sun began to peek out over the tops of Bajoran mountains. To the left was a lake, small, but clear and beautiful. She could smell the water on the breeze and heard the sounds of small animals waking to the morning light.

"Kira," she breathed. "This is gorgeous. Where are we?"

"At Nerys Lake. So named by my father. This is part of my family land on Bajor."

"It's beautiful." She glanced at Kira. "Just like its namesake."

The Major felt her face begin to flush and turned away. It had been a long time since someone had told her she was beautiful, that's all, she told herself. She stretched out next to Jadzia on the blanket that had come with the program and opened the basket. Inside were two bottles of spring wine (Leave it to Quark to try to suck up.) two stemmed glasses, a plate of has'brak, and another one of gagh. She immediately set the latter as far away from her as possible. As she was opening one of the bottles, she noticed Jadzia nibbling on the gagh.

"Guess you didn't lose your taste for that...stuff." She muttered.

"Hmm..no, I guess not." She took a glass from the Major and sipped it. It was sweet and full. A light red wine, it reminded her of a type of fruit that Benjamin had given her once, but she could not remember the name of it. "Mmm, very nice. Looks like I've just developed another taste."

They drank both of the bottles of wine and ate all of the has'brak. They watched the day pass, and slept. When they woke, they swam in the lake and lay out in the sun once again to dry off. They left the holosuite 5 hours after they entered it. They were both happy and relaxed.

Quark, however, was livid. He literally had to bite his tongue as they were walking out. He didn't even want to think about how much money he had lost. The only up side was the favor that the Major now owed him. All he had to do was convince her she owed him one

Kira and Jadzia were silent as they walked back to the Majors quarters. It was a very comfortable silence that carried with it a new warmth between them. When they reached her door, Kira turned to her. "I need to check on the station. I was having such a lovely time that I forgot I was supposed to meet Odo 15 minutes ago. Will you be okay until I get back?"

Jadzia's smile was slow and intimate. "I'll be fine Nerys. Do you want me to come with you?"

"No, you look a little tired. Why don't you get some rest." Kira looked at the floor. "Would you like to have dinner tonight?"

This time, Jadzia's smile lit up her eyes as well. "I would like that very much."

"Great, I'll be back in about an hour and a half. Feel free to use anything you want."

Kira showed her the door code and left as the door slid shut. She felt glorious.

Sisko sat in silence on the Rio Grande and listened to Bashir and O'Brien argue about darts. There was absolutely nothing to do but let the computer navigate the ship and watch the scanners. So far, their plan had worked perfectly but without results. They were about 40 minutes from the farthest point Dax could have been at when the ship disappeared. He was beginning to think they were on the wrong track when the main engines went off line.

O'Brien immediately placed a hand in the air to still Bashir, who had been going on and on at the moment about his newest set of darts. He moved to the runabouts main console. "Well, Commander, it looks as though we've found something. The ionic pattern she was scanning has intensified 274 percent in the last 12 minutes. Our engines are off-line...I can't raise them. Shields are not responding....actually, nothing is responding." He glanced at Sisko. "We're dead in the water."

Bashir cocked his head to one side. "Listen," he whispered. "Do you hear that?"

Both of them fell silent and listened as a faint hum became more pronounced. It sounded like a ships engine running at half impulse. From the sound, Sisko judged that it should be in visual range. Moving to the window, he looked out and his heart stopped for a moment. Directly outside of the window was a ship. At least, he thought it was a ship. It had the sheen of an unknown metal and was glowing a faint pink. He watched as two clamps extended from its hull and grasped the runabout with a solid 'thud'. A beam flashed from the ship and scanned across all three of them. Apparently satisfied, the scan shut off and a transporter beam lit up the runabout. When it faded, a woman stood where it had been.

"Is there assistance you require?" Her voice was rich and deep.

"Yes," Sisko moved forward a step and bowed slightly. "I am Commander Benjamin Sisko. These are my companions Dr. Julian Bashir and Chief Miles O'Brien. We are here because of assistance that you have already given to another member of my staff."

"Oh?" The woman's features shifted and Dax stood before them. "This creature is the one of whom you speak?"


"The creature from which I removed the parasite."

"Correct, well, somewhat correct." Bashir interjected. "The creature you removed was not a parasite."

"Not a parasite?" Dax flickered back into the woman who had first appeared. "Explain."

Bashir looked at her suspiciously. "Did Dax not tell you anything when you first asked her if she required assistance?"

The woman looked sad for a moment. "I'm afraid she could not have answered me if I had asked. She had expired before I boarded this ship."

"Expired? How?"

"The fault was mine. I answered her scan with one of my own. I was unfamiliar with your humanoid type species. It terminated her" The woman placed her hands behind her back. "This was not acceptable, so I have reversed that termination. In the process, I discovered the organism within her. I removed it."

"That organism was half of a joined species." Sisko informed her. "And the remaining half wants him back, badly."

She looked confused for a moment and then nodded. "I do not begin to understand her want of the parasite, but if what you say is true, I will re-implant the organism within her. But there is something you should know, Commander."

"And what is that?" Sisko asked, a bad feeling had taken root in his chest.

"As I have said before, I am not completely familiar with the inner workings of humanoids. I am very well versed, however, on the mechanisms of an organic machine. As your good doctor will tell you, when you remove the cause of a disease, you must also try to countermand the damage which the disease has already accomplished. In this case, the organism had created links to all of the major neural areas. While doing my repairs, I eradicated these links."

Sisko's eyes narrowed. "Meaning?"

"Meaning that I have destroyed the natural links that the creature had made. To re-implant the creature, I will have to create artificial pathways and links. Her body may reject these links. If this happens, she will die. If it is successful, her memory will be restored, up to my first meeting with her. Anything after that may be lost." She waited for Sisko to respond. His face was drawn and saddened but he did not speak. "Very well then, Commander. Send her to these coordinates 2 days from now. I will do all that I can. Send her alone. Well met, Commander."

As she called for transport, Bashir caught her attention. "Wait! Who are you? What do we call you? Where are you from?"

The creature looked lost.

"What's your name? Where did you come from?"

"I have no name. I have no origin. I simply am."

"But, your ship, where did that come from? Do you realize the difference I could make if you allow me to attend and witness your work?"

The being looked at them all with an indecipherable expression on her face. "I don't think so, Doctor. I cannot give you technology that you have not yet discovered on your own. It violates our moral and ethical code of contact." She leaned forward slightly. "I believe you have a similar code. I glimpsed a memory of it within the females mind."

Julian looked very deflated. "You have the power of life...how can you not share that?"

"You know very well why we cannot. But I will give you something, Doctor. Something small."

"Yes?" Julian's excitement showed in his eyes.

She moved to his side and gently circled his wrist with her fingers. The flesh around where their skin touched began to glow as Julian's eyes went wide, his mouth slack. Sisko was about to step in when she broke contact with him. Julian stumbled momentarily and then caught his balance. He stared at the woman in awe. "For clarity," She touched him gently on the face. "You may call me Garasa. You have a good heart Doctor. I pray that you keep it."

She turned to Sisko, "Send your female here. I will save her if I can."

"Garasa," Bashir whispered. "What will happen if you can not save her? If we send her alone, how will we retrieve her body?"

Garasa looked him in the eye for a long moment and then called for her transporter. As she disappeared, Sisko moved to Bashir's side. "Why didn't she answer?"

"She did." Bashir breathed, his voice so low that Sisko had to lean closer to hear him. "If she cannot save Jadzia, we cannot retrieve her body. Her body will be recycled in the manner of all organic beings."

"What does that mean?"

"She will be absorbed by the 'ship'," Bashir gave a funny little laugh. "That ship."

"Are you okay?" Sisko shook him a little, tearing him out of his thoughts. "What about the ship? What 'small thing' did she give you?"

"Information, Commander." He looked at Sisko. "She doesn't have a ship. It is all one entity. It is, in itself, one being. The end result of 60 billion years of evolution beyond where we currently are. Garasa's people joined, creating 5 beings who are as she is. I saw it all." He began to tremble. "She showed me the future of our races. If we make it."

Sisko gently sat him in a chair to rest. He turned to O'Brien, "It looks as if we have a choice to deliver to Jadzia. We better head home Inform me when we are within hailing range." He scratched his head. "Garasa...such an unusual name. I wonder why she would choose that one."

O'Brien moved quietly to his side and asked in a whisper, "Do you ever look over the personal files of your Senior staff, Commander?"

"Not on a regular basis."

"Well, maybe you should."

O'Brien walked back to the console and fired up the engines as Sisko placed a blanket over the still trembling shoulders of Dr. Bashir.

Odo had stopped talking for well over 2 minutes and Kira had yet to notice. He sat across from her, his desk in between them, and studied the Major's far away look. Finally, he tapped the desk in front of her. "Major? Is there something you would like to talk about?"

Kira snapped out of her thoughts. "I'm sorry, Odo. I guess my mind is just elsewhere right now."

"I could have guessed that. My question now is where and why?"

"I...I guess I'm worried about Jadzia." She stood and wandered aimlessly around the room. "We've gotten close and I am worried about what this is doing to her."

Odo raised his eyebrows. "I saw the two of you at Quarks today. She didn't seem

too upset. In fact, she looked as though she was rather enjoying herself....as did you."

Kira smiled. "I did enjoy myself. Very much."

Odo leaned forward. "Maybe that is what is really bothering you."

"What do you mean?" Kira demanded.

"I mean, Major, that I have noticed that you humanoids seem to fight the hardest against that which you want the most." His voice softened. "It would appear, to an objective observer, that your worry for Lieutenant Dax, while genuine, also includes a good amount of worry for yourself."

Kira snorted. "What would I have to be worried about?"

"Major, it is well known around the station that you do not give your affections, or share your memories, very easily."

"Odo!" Kira ground her teeth. "What were you? The blanket? The sand?"

"On the contrary Major. I merely slipped in for a moment, the Commander requested that I check in on you two. He seemed to be of the opinion that Dax was a bit more than you could handle."

Kira thought she detected a smirk in the last statement. A harmless little jibe that almost made her smile. "How long did you stay?"

"Not long. But long enough to see how much you were enjoying yourself. Major, I understand that relationships are not your best subject, but this could be something you might regret passing up."

"But what if-"

"You could sit here all day and say 'what if', Kira. But you will never actually know until you do something about it. Now, get out of my office, Major. I have better things to do than watch you sit around and moon over a Trill."

Kira smiled and walked out of his office. She was on her way back to her quarters when she received a transmission.

"Sisko to Kira. I have some news, Major. I would like you to inform Jadzia of the current situation."

Kira listened, a frown on her face.

When Kira returned to her quarters, she found Jadzia working at her computer console. She looked incredible in a short black dress that came right above her knees. Her legs were very long. She looked up and smiled warmly when Kira entered the room.

"What are you working on?" Kira stepped behind her to see the screen. She leaned down close and caught the fresh scent of Jadzia's hair.

Jadzia clicked off the computer before Kira could see the pages. Kira felt a pang of dismay. She had thought that they were closer now. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry."

"That's not it," Jadzia blushed, another first. "It's just something I was writing. For pleasure. It isn't finished. I would like you to read it when it's done."

Kira smiled, reassured. She glanced at Jadzia's attire. "You look great. Give me half an hour to look as good as you do, which may not be possible, and we'll go, okay?"

Jadzia smiled, one of her slow, sensual smiles that made Kira's stomach drop. "Go ahead. Take your time, I'm not going anywhere."

Jadzia watched as Kira left to get ready. When she was out of sight, she began her other preparations for the evening. As she did, she thought about how her feelings for the fiery Bajoran seemed to have changed. She had always thought of Kira as a close friend, looked forward to their conversations and, if she was going to be completely honest, found her extremely attractive. She had never considered the possibility that the Major might find her attractive as well. She still wasn't sure, but the way that Kira had asked her to dinner had plucked at one of her heartstrings. And the smile she had earned by saying yes had been on her mind all afternoon. She listened for Kira in the next room as she finished her work. The timing was perfect. She finished just as Kira walked through the door. As she stared at her, her heart thumped painfully.

Kira was wearing a forest green gown with a low, plunging neckline that revealed a loveliness that few on the station ever got to see. Her hair was swept up, the back still slightly wet and curling at the nape of her neck, and she had added a beautiful silver necklace to the simplicity of her only other adornment, her Bajoran earring. Altogether, Kira made a picture that would make the toughest Cardassian weak in the knees.

"Do you like?" Kira did a playful little half turn.

Jadzia swallowed. "I like very much."

They stared at each other for a few moments and then Kira noticed what Jadzia had been working on. There was a beautiful table set across the top of one of her workstations. Flowers adorned the center, with a lovely setting of china and crystal "You did all of this while I was getting ready?" She smiled with delight. "It's wonderful. What's for dinner?"


Kira couldn't completely hide the look of distaste that came to her face and Jadzia laughed out loud. "I was joking, Nerys. You know I wouldn't do that to you."

"I know." Kira found herself liking the sound of her name from Jadzia's lips. "If I know you, you probably have every one of my favorite foods."

"Yes," she smile. "Plus a few of my own that I wanted to introduce you to." She walked around and pulled Kira's chair out for her. "Please....sit."

The food was incredible. By the time they had finished dessert, they had fallen back into the easy companionship they had experienced earlier in the day. They drank Bajoran spring wine and talked well into the evening. They took their last bottle of wine over to the window in Kira's sleeping room and sat, watching the stars.

"How are you, Jadzia?" Kira laid a hand on her arm. "I've been worried about you."

"I'm fine....really." She placed her hand over Kira's. "In fact, today has been the single most wonderful day of my life. I owe you for that Nerys. You made me forget the position that I am in, even if just for a little while. And I didn't think that would have been possible at all. I think the worst part of all of this, is the feeling that I've neglected myself. I have a million things that belonged to the last seven lifetimes, but nothing special of my own. When I was in my quarters, I stood there and felt.....lonely."

The sadness in her voice prompted Kira to act before thinking. She opened a drawer next to her bed and pulled out a small box, which she placed in Jadzia's palm. "Take this. Something for you, and you alone."

Jadzia opened the box and drew in a long, shaky breath. Inside the box, nestled in a bed of velvet, was a Bajoran earring. She lifted it from its resting place and saw that it differed slightly from the Major's. It had one blood red stone fitted into the center of the cuff.

"Nerys," Jadzia felt a tear begin in the corner of one eye. "It's beautiful. But I can't accept it. It looks very special."

"It is. It was my Mother's. It was the last thing my Father ever gave me. I have kept it here, in this box, for over ten years. There were times when I thought I would never be able to keep it from the Cardassians. They so loved their little searches" Kira's voice took on a slightly harder edge. "But I made it. And I put it in here and never looked at it again. It....hurt, too much." She lifted the earring from the box and slipped it onto Jadzia's ear. "It looks beautiful on you."

Jadzia touched it gingerly, then placed her arms around Kira, pulling her close in an embrace. And didn't let her go.

Kira felt so good in her arms. Her face was pressed against Jadzia's neck and she could not stop herself from touching her lips lightly to the tender skin just above her collar. When she received a low moan in response, she allowed herself to follow the light markings on the graceful Trill collarbone, stopping only when her lips could go no further against bare skin.

Jadzia was in ecstasy. She finally held the beautiful Bajoran against her and felt her lips touching her body. She pushed Kira away long enough to look her in the eye and whisper, "Nerys, I can't stop this, I don't want to stop this. If this is not what you want, tell me now, because I won't be able to ask again."

"I don't think I have ever wanted anything as much as I want you." Kira whispered in response.

With a small sigh, Jadzia brought her lips to Kira's and kissed her, her tongue flickering lightly, reaching out to touch Kira's. She slowly leaned backwards onto the bed, pulling Kira down on top of her. Their lips never parted as they quickly removed each others clothing, wanting only to feel their skin together. When their bodies finally met, the both gasped and stopped for a moment, trying to get their bearings. Then Jadzia rolled Kira under her, kissing her deeply and caressing her body with her hands. When the kiss ended, Jadzia moved down, running her hair softly over her breasts and abdomen, making Kira shudder beneath her.

Kira held her breath as Jadzia's hands circled her breasts, her long fingers touching her gently. But when Jadzia's mouth covered her nipple, she cried out softly and dug her fingers into Jadzia's back.

Jadzia kissed her way down the Major's body, stopping when her cheek lay against the soft skin of Kira's thighs. "Nerys," she whispered. "please...."

In response, Kira gave her a low, throaty sigh and let the muscles in her thighs relax. Jadzia continued, letting her earring run against the inside of Kira's thigh in the wake of her lips. Every place she touched was like silk…soft, sweet…intoxicating. She tried to move slowly, tried to content herself with nuzzling Kira's inner thigh, but in the end the Major's moans proved to be her undoing. That, and the gentle fingers that twined around her hair, pulling her head up until she could feel soft hair against her cheek. She buried her nose in it, breathing deeply. She inhaled the scent greedily, as though nothing had ever compared, and in truth, nothing had. Kira smelled like the air that hung above a river, sweet and clean, a trace of salt, a touch of fennel. Her tongue followed the gentle curves of Kira's labia before parting the folds and touching the much more tender flesh beneath.

As she stroked Kira with her tongue, she felt her body responding strongly, everything below her waist ached with a frightening intensity. She closed her eyes and felt a connection to the beautiful Bajoran beneath her. As her passion built, she gently entered Kira with her fingers, exploring the exquisite warmth that surrounded them, never losing contact with her mouth. After a moment, Kira's body began to arch, her back lifting off the bed as she pushed down with her arms, into Dax's mouth and hands. Her soft whimpering became louder as her head fell back, her body rocked by a wave of pleasure stronger than any she had ever felt before. When she could speak again, she whispered, "Stop…..Dax…please."

Dax gently removed her tongue and fingers, pulling herself up until they were face to face. Without a word, she brought her hand to the Major's lips, spreading the essence on her fingers across the Bajoran's mouth. Kira's tongue darted out, curiously, tasting her lower lip. She smiled slightly and Dax kissed her hard, claiming the rest for herself.

Kira woke and turned over in her bed. Lying next to her was the Trill beauty she had loved in her dream. She smiled and moved closer to Jadzia. She realized that she fit quite nicely against her body. Jadzia slipped an arm around her and whispered, "Good morning, my love."

Kira smiled radiantly. "Thank you. You are... incredible." She ran her fingertips down Jadzia's side. "I never thought this would happen...I actually never thought of this at all. Not on a conscious level. I did dream about you once."

"You did?" Jadzia turned to look at her, a delighted smile on her face. "What were we doing?"

"You know, I didn't remember a lot of it when it happened. I know I smiled a lot the day after. Now, well, now I think it was a lot like this. Only not as wonderful, because I had to wake up." She pulled Jadzia as close to her as possible. "We need to talk."

"I know." she kissed Kira softly. "I've been wondering where you might want to go from here..."

Kira noticed the sound of doubt in her voice and knew she was questioning Kira's feelings, not her own. "That is not in question." She brushed Jadzia's hair off of her forehead. "I know exactly where I want to go from here, and that's anywhere as long as you're with me. I know we'll have a few things to work out. But I think it is definitely worth it."

"I think so too, but it is going to be hard for me, Nerys. I have never done relationships very well. I'm not sure I know how."

"I always meant to ask you why you never...." Kira left the statement hanging.

Jadzia sat up and pushed herself against the headboard. Kira moved up against her and laid her head upon her shoulder. "It's very hard, Nerys, for a Trill to love someone of a different race."


Jadzia sighed deeply. "When a Trill loves another Trill, it is a comfort to know that they will go on with their next host. Although we are barred from seeing one another, or being together, there is still the joy in knowing that they exist, somewhere. With a non-Trill..."

"They are truly gone." Kira finished for her. "I can see how that would make a big difference in who you might choose to love."

"Yes," She brushed at the hair that had fallen over Kira's brow, and they gently kissed her on the bridge of her nose. "Did I ever tell you how much I adore your nose?"

Kira blushed and touched it self-consciously.

"I suppose, in this case, I had no choice in who I would come to care for." Jadzia continued. "I'm not unhappy about it. Just scared."

"Can I do anything to make it easier?"

"No, it's my fear. One I will have to deal with."

Kira sighed and sat up. "That isn't what I wanted to talk to you about. I've heard from Commander Sisko...."

Jadzia looked at her, her expression unreadable. "And?"

"And, they found the entity that removed Dax. Her name is Garasa. From what Sisko says, she is a highly evolved life-form." She took Jadzia's hands in her own. "And she is willing to help."

Jadzia smiled, but not as broadly as Kira had thought she would. "But?"

"But, the risks are pretty high. If your body rejects the artificial links that the entity must create to rejoin the symbiont..."

"I'll die." Jadzia finished for her.

Kira nodded slowly. When she looked up, a tear rolled down her cheek. "There's something else." She gripped Jadzia's hands more firmly. "It is possible that, if the operation is successful, you will not remember anything that happened after the symbiont's initial extraction. It will be as though no time has passed....for you, anyway."

Jadzia touched Kira's cheek gently.

"There's something else as well." Kira wiped away the tears. "I've been thinking about our relationship for the last couple of years. We've been friends, good friends, but never anything like this. What's to say that you won't return to the way you used to feel about me."

Jadzia smiled. "Nothing. I can honestly say that I have always thought you beautiful. As for the rest, well, I guess it's something I am going to have to think about."

"You mean you would honestly consider...not going? For me?" There was an astonished look on her face. "I can't let you do that."

"You can't make the decision for me, Nerys" Jadzia pulled her closer. "It's mine to make. I can honestly say that I never had the opportunity to feel like this before I was joined. And I have never felt like this afterwards. I have to consider everything very carefully. But for now, I am happy. Let me be.....for a little while, okay?"

She laid back down, and pulled Kira with her.

The door had chimed for the fifth time in two minutes before Kira managed to extricate herself from Jadzia's sleeping limbs. "Hold on!" She barked as she pulled a robe over her naked form. "Whoever you are, you have the patience of a Ferengi rat dog." She tied the robe shut with a yank. "This had better be important. Come!"

Sisko stood on the other side of the opening door, a sarcastic smile replaced his look of frustration. "I don't think I have ever been welcomed in quite that fashion."

"I'm sorry, Commander." Kira stammered. "I wasn't expecting anyone this early."

"Apparently." Sisko walked past her, glancing towards the couch. "Where's Jadzia?"

"Uhm," Kira rubbed the back of her neck. "She's sleeping....in the bedroom."

Sisko gave her a long look and then a small smile touched the corners of his mouth. "How nice of you to give up your bed."

Kira looked away. "Would you like me to wake her up?'

"No, that won't be necessary. How is she? Did you inform her of the situation?"

"Yes," Kira order coffee for the two of them from the replicator. "She is...undecided."

Sisko waved the coffee away. "If I drink one more cup, I'll never fall asleep again. What do you mean, undecided?"

Kira sat and placed her elbows on her console, her head in her hands. "She says she has a lot to think about."

"I don't understand, I thought she would be ecstatic." He stopped and turned to Kira, a look of dawning realization on his face. "Is there something that I'm missing? Something I haven't been told?"

"Don't harass her, Benjamin." Jadzia said from the doorway of the bedroom. Her hair was tousled and she had the look of someone that had just awakened from a particularly pleasant dream. She smiled sweetly at Kira, who thought she looked completely adorable. "I am just in a position that I have never been in before. There are a lot of possibilities."

"But, Dax-" he began.

"No, Benjamin, I'm Jadzia. Dax is out there," She gestured out of one of the portals.

"And he is waiting for you." Sisko finished for her. "I know you. I know you believe that the symbiont is more important than anything. You've said that countless numbers of times. I know that was Jadzia talking too, not just Curzon and the others."

Jadzia smiled at him sadly as she walked over to stand beside them. She placed a hand on his arm. "It was. And I believe that. It's just that, a lot of things have happened to me in the last two days. I need some time to think about all of them. I will give you my answer tonight, Benjamin. Until then, please, let me be."

Sisko sighed and nodded slowly. "All right. I'll be waiting. We'll need to brief you on a few things so don't wait too long, Jadzia." He turned to Kira. "I guess you can go back to Ops. There are a few things I want you to check on-"

"I would like for Major Kira to stay with me, if possible." She laid her hand on Kira's shoulder. "She has been more than a friend the last few days. Having her around has really helped me."

Sisko nodded. "If it will help, old man, I will bring the entire senior staff to your door."

Jadzia smiled. "All I need, or want, is Kira."

Sisko had the sneaking suspicion that whatever he was missing was right in front of him. But he knew that there was no point in asking them anything now. Time enough for that later. "Until tonight then."

After he left, Kira rose and moved into Jadzia's arms. The stayed that way for a few minutes, holding each other, then Kira moved away. "Well, it looks as though I've been given to you for the day. What would you like to do?"

"I would love to see more of your planet. The holosuite?"

Kira laughed. "Quark would scream loud enough to be heard on Bajor." She kissed Jadzia lightly. "What about Bajor? You could see Lake Nerys first hand."

"That would be wonderful! But how would we get past Benjamin? I don't think he would be too receptive to my leaving the station right now."

"Let me take care of that." Kira hit her commbadge. "Kira to Quark."

"Yes Major?" Quarks whiny voice came back to her.

"How would you like to give up your holosuite for another five hours?" She cut off his whining. "Then I offer you an alternative. Is that Tarian smuggler you were dealing with still on the station?"

Kira smiled at Jadzia and moved into the next room to argue with the Ferengi as Jadzia went to work at the computer console. She could hear Kira's voice rise and fall in the next room. "That's my girl." Jadzia grinned to herself as she began to type.

Two hours later, Kira met the Ferengi outside of his bar. He looked particularly nervous. "What's the matter Quark?" Kira teased.

"You know very well what's wrong." He snapped. "If Commander Sisko ever found out I helped you behind his back-"

"You're not really doing anything behind his back, Quark. He didn't say we couldn't go to Bajor, we just didn't ask him."

"I doubt that he would care much about that distinction." Quark pulled at one of his lobes. "Do you have the fee?"

Kira sighed and dug into the pouch she carried with her. The "fee" that the Tarian was charging for passage to and from Bajor was a lot more than the normal shuttles would have cost, but she had no choice. As she produced 3 strips of gold pressed latinum, Quark reached out to grab them and Kira closed her fist over them tightly. She leaned in very close to him and whispered, "Quark, if I ever find out that this latinum was not demanded by the Tarian..."

Quark swallowed. "Why, Major, it sounds as though you don't trust me."

"I don't."

"Well, Major, this latinum is going to the Tarian. I didn't even add a contact fee, since I know how important this is to you." He glanced inside the bar to where Jadzia was sitting, nursing a Black Hole. "And, because I know how important this is to you, I'm going to give you some free advice."

Kira looked shocked. "Isn't there a Rule of Acquisition about free advice? Something about it seldom being cheap?"

"Yes, that's Rule of Acquisition #59. But that's not the right one."

"Which one then?" Her patience was running thin.

Quark hefted the bars in his hand and smiled. "Rule of Acquisition #229...Latinum last longer than lust."

The Major glared at him and went to collect Jadzia.

"THEY WENT WHERE?" Sisko practically roared. "When? How?"

Bashir shifted uncomfortably. "They boarded a Tarian trader vessel about an hour ago."


"Commander, if I may ask, why does this cause you concern?"

Sisko sighed. "I'm just worried, Doctor. Jadzia state of mind is....unstable. She is actually considering not re-implanting the Dax symbiont." He stood and paced to the portal and back. "Something's happened to her. And I can't help but think it involves Major Kira in some way. If that is the case, I do not think it is wise for them to spend so much time together when Jadzia needs to make such an important decision."

"Maybe so, Commander. But, it is her decision. You cannot make it for her. And if Major Kira is somehow involved, well, that's something that we will never know for sure. Unless Jadzia tells us. Maybe it is all for the best. In the end, she has to do what she is most comfortable with."

Sisko nodded resignedly. "I suppose you are correct, but, I do still worry. One of my very best friends is floating around out there in some holding tank, and another one is running around Bajor doing God only knows what with a smart ass ex-terrorist."

Bashir smiled. "You do have to admit, the thought of the trouble they could get into....it is rather entertaining."

Sisko looked as though he were trying not to laugh and then gave up. "One last thing, Doctor, how did you happen to learn where the terrible two had gone?

"Oh," Bashir smiled slyly. "Have you forgotten what today was?"

"Ahhhh." Sisko smiled back. "Lunch with Garak?"

"Of course." He turned and left.

Sisko sat for a moment in silence and then shook off his dark feelings and headed into Ops.

Eight hours later, Jadzia sat on a Bajoran shuttlecraft, heading back to DS9. Kira was sleeping in the seat next to her, her head resting against Jadzia's arm. They had decided that the Commander must know what they had done by now, and decided to take a more comfortable ride home. She gazed at the red headed Bajoran sitting beside her, remembering the day they had shared. Kira had started by showing her the province where she had been born, then expanded to the rest of the countryside. They had eaten in two of the Major's favorite restaurants, and Jadzia had been treated to a couple of the Major's favorite drinks. The back of her throat was still burning after the last one, a drink called a Prophets Cure. Kira had laughed when she had to follow the shot with a big gulp of water. Jadzia found that she loved the Major's laugh.

She stiffened slightly as she realized that she loved more than the Major's laugh. She loved her. A smile touched the corners of her mouth as she reached out and traced Kira's lips with her fingertips. With a small groan, the Bajoran stretched and woke herself, smiling up at Jadzia in the process.

"I love you." Jadzia said, very simply.

"What?" Kira sat up quickly. "What did you say?"

"I said I love you. I've been sitting here, thinking about how much the last two days have meant to me, and I realized that you were the one thing that meant the most."

Kira smiled, tears in her eyes. "I love you, too. I didn't think....well, I didn't think you felt the way I did so I didn't want to say anything to make you feel....obligated."

"Obligated?" Jadzia touched her cheek. "I don't feel obligated. I feel wonderful."

Kira sobered and looked around. "This isn't exactly the best place for a conversation like this." She noticed a Bajoran woman smiling at them from a few seats back. She gave Kira a small nod and the thumbs up sign. Blushing, she turned back to Jadzia. "See what I mean?"

Jadzia smiled. "We're about to dock. We can continue this at my place." She stood and grabbed both of their bags, then reached out a hand and helped Kira to her feet. "But first, I think we are going to need to do a little butt kissing."

Kira looked at her questioningly, then followed her gaze to the portal beside their airlock. Through the glass, she could see Commander Sisko smiling at them.

As they entered her quarters, Jadzia ran her hands through her hair, and went directly to her sitting area, where she collapsed onto a couch. Kira followed her, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "I don't believe I have ever seen Benjamin that angry." Jadzia sighed.

"I have."

They looked at each other and smiled. Standing, Kira moved into Jadzia's arms.

"It was worth it, Nerys." She whispered. "You're worth it. Worth everything. Even losing my symbiont."

Kira noticed a hesitation at the end of Jadzia's statement and swallowed hard. "But?"

"But," She repeated. "But I have to go back. I have to go get Dax."

Kira nodded. Tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

"Oh, Nerys. Don't cry. I love you. But I have to do this. If I don't, then it has all been for nothing. Every one of those seven lives will have been for nothing. And I don't think I can be responsible for that and go on loving you."

Kira nodded and stood, moving away from Jadzia. "So that's it then. It's over."

"No, it isn't over." She moved to stand beside her, taking her in her arms.

"Jadzia, chances are that you won't remember any of this happened. And even more than that, you won't be Jadzia anymore, you'll be Jadzia Dax. And Dax was never in love with me."

"Maybe she was." Jadzia looked away.

"What?" Kira's eyes opened wide. "You had feelings for me? And you never told me?"

"I don't think I ever really knew, Nerys. All I know is that I have always felt drawn to you. Maybe that will be enough."

"And what if it isn't?"

Jadzia placed her fingers under Kira's chin and gently lifted her head until she could look into her eyes. "Then you remind me."

Kira moved away, shaking her head. "You said yourself that Dax was always afraid of becoming involved with someone from a non-joined species. Once you have been re-joined...."

"Normal fear is terrible." Jadzia commented quietly. "The combined fear of seven lifetimes is more than anyone should have to bear. I will not give in to it again." She took Kira's hand and kissed it gently. "You remind me, Nerys. You make me remember. I love you and I don't want to lose you...ever."

Kira nodded and leaned into her, kissing her hard. "All right," she breathed. "But tonight, you give me something to remember...just in case."

Smiling, Jadzia lifted her off her feet and carried her to the bedroom.

Four hours later, Commander Sisko was still sitting at his desk, the lights off, his feet up. He had been waiting for Dax to come back for the last two hours, and he was getting a little irritated. It took every bit of his patience not to go barging into her quarters, demanding to know just exactly what had happened to her sense of loyalty. He sighed and stared at the ceiling. "Twenty more minutes." He ground his teeth. "And then I'm going down there."

"Stop grinding your teeth, Benjamin. You're going to damage them."

Sisko looked up and saw Jadzia standing in his doorway. She looked as though she had been crying.

"Are you okay, old man?" Sisko began to rise but Jadzia waved him down and fell into one of the chairs across the desk from him.

"No. But then, there's nothing to be done for it." She leaned on the desk, her head in her hands. "Okay, Benjamin, you win. When do we leave?"

He was elated, but tried not to show it. She was obviously going through something that was hard for her. For now, he would be content to know she was going, and that Dax would tell him all about it when she got back.

The next morning, they were all waiting for her when she reached the air lock. Sisko, Bashir, O'Brien, Keiko, Jake, even Garak and Quark were there. Collecting information, no doubt. There was only one conspicuously absent person.

Major Kira was not there.

She sighed and smiled, accepting their well wishes and good lucks with a fair amount of good grace. Inside, however, she felt torn and bleeding. She hoped that Kira knew how hard it was for her to make this decision, and that there was really no other option open to her. With a last smile, she headed into the Rio Grande and slid the airlock closed, leaning her head against the inside of the door.

"Second thoughts?" Came a light, teasing voice from behind her.

"Nerys?" She smiled as she turned. "I thought you hadn't come to see me off." She kissed her deeply.

"How could I stay away?'' Kira reached behind Jadzia and freed her hair from it's binding. She sighed as the hair fell, soft and full, across her shoulders. "I wanted to see you like this, one more time. Please, leave it like this.....And wear this." She opened her fingers and Jadzia saw her mother's earring lying in her palm. "Maybe, afterwards, it will help you remember..." She slipped it onto Jadzia's ear and kissed her lightly before moving away. Staring into her eyes, she tapped her commbadge. "Computer, one to beam to Ops. Energize." As her form faded, Jadzia saw her mouth the words, "I love you."

She knew she could never say it back in time for Kira to see her, so she simply placed both her hands over her heart.

Kira was still blinking back tears when she appeared in Ops. Sisko saw her and beckoned her into his office.

"Major, is something wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Commander. I'm just worried about Jadzia." Kira sighed and dropped into one of his chairs. "She means a lot to me, you know?"

"I think I am beginning to." Sisko looked as though he wanted to ask more, but had the good grace to let it drop. "You are relieved from duty for one day, Major. I've had O'Brien set up your personal computer so that you can follow her ship's trail and monitor her progress until she enters Garasa's sector."

"You're letting me monitor her progress?" Kira's mouth fell open.

"No, Major, I'm asking you to witness the interaction between a member of Starfleet and a formerly unknown lifeform in Bajoran Space. As the official Bajoran Liaison here on Deep Space Nine, I think it important that you document the trip for your own historians." His voice softened. "If, in the process, it makes you feel a little better, then so much the better for it."

Kira smiled and reached out to clasp his hand. Garasa wasn't anywhere near Bajoran space. She knew what he was trying to do, and she tried to let him know just how much she appreciated it, without saying a word.

Sisko smiled. "Dismissed, Major...keep me informed."

"Yes, sir!"

After she had left, Sisko looked at his computer thoughtfully. "Computer, access the personal files of all senior officers on DS9."

"Current or on record?" The computer queried.

"Current." Sisko rubbed the back of his head.

"Seven files found."

He glanced at the screen. "Open file for Doctor Julian Bashir."

"File opened."

Sisko sat at his desk and perused the file slowly. As he neared the end, the file showed him Bashir's family ancestry. He smiled as he read the names of Bashir's paternal grandparents. Leonid and Garasa Bashir.

He sat there for a moment, and then began to go through all the files of his senior staff. "It couldn't hurt." He whispered to himself.

Kira stepped into her quarters and sighed, loudly. She didn't know when she had ever felt more lonely. Even when she was running with the resistance cell, she hadn't felt the need for someone as strongly as now. She glanced at the computer screen which was tracking the small red dot that was the Rio Grande A single tear slid down her cheek as she turned to the portal and sent a prayer out to the Prophets. "Just let her come home, I'll deal with everything else as it comes."

It took her a moment to notice a small box on the table under the window. Walking over, she picked it up and pulled on the red ribbon which held it shut. Inside was a velvet box and a data crystal. She plugged the chip into her console and read:

My Love,

I know you're sitting in your quarters, worrying about me. I am sorry for that. I hope you know how very difficult this was for me. Nothing has ever been harder for me than leaving you. But I had to Nerys, and I know you understand why. I will be back! The following is everything I feel about you. I love you. May the Prophets lead me back to you...


I've always seen
the truth you've hidden
behind the fire
in your eyes.
The softness
you try to bury
beneath the anger
that never dies.
I've seen the hope
you never trust
and the love
you never claim
you try to fight
an uphill battle
against a foe
you fear to name
you've never lost
a bit of honor
never given
in to fear
always worthy
of the praise
you try so hard
not to hear
in my mind
you are the hero
always honest
always true
in my heart
I think I've loved you
longer before
I ever knew.

open the box....promise me...


Kira wiped her eyes and slowly opened the box. Inside, nestled in Trillian silk, was a Bajoran Pledge Bracelet. It was hammered silver, with her families crest scrolled around the center and light markings down the sides. The markings looked very much like the lovely spots she had traced down Jadzia's body. She lifted the bracelet off of its bed and fastened it around her wrist.

"I promise." She whispered.

Jadzia had been in flight for 20 minutes when all operations on her ship ceased. Something, a memory in the back of her mind, began to surface, a memory of her ship dying once before. And of a beam of light that sent a red hot flame of pain through her mind and cut off the air from her gasping lungs. Her heart began to beat harder as she became more nervous, but the scan never came. Instead, a transport beam flashed in front of her and Curzon stood before her.

"Curzon?" She was slightly disoriented, but she knew this was impossible.

"No, child." A female voice issued forth from Curzon's mouth. "This was a form that I chose from your mind, one that you seemed to be very comfortable with. I did not wish to frighten you."

"So," Jadzia smiled. "You're a telepathic shapeshifter?"

"I am both." The words were short, but there was a smile on Curzon's face. "And I am neither. I am everything my people had ever been. So shall you be...one day.

Jadzia's smile faded. "I want to remember, Garasa. I want to know what I have done, what I have gained while I was without my symbiont."

Curzon reached out and pressed a finger to her lips, and suddenly Kira was standing before her. "I see." She moved away. "You have 'fallen in love'...I believe that is the correct term?" Jadzia nodded. "I will do what I can for you, child. I know the importance of love to a corporeal being. As it was with my people at one time, so long ago. I will try."

Jadzia nodded again, a small smile on her lips. "What do I have to do?"

Garasa moved next to her again. "Close your eyes, child. I will give you no pain."

The world went black.

Sisko strode into Ops and went to stand next to the Major, who had been there since Jadzia's runabout had disappeared off scopes almost 40 minutes before. He was almost as agitated as she was.

"Any word, Chief?"

"No, sir." O'Brien looked harried and threw an exasperated glance at Kira, who had asked him the same question 12 times on the last 40 minutes.

"She's been gone longer than the first time, hasn't she?" Sisko whispered.

"Yes," Kira's voice was close to breaking. "She has."

Sisko placed a hand on Kira's shoulder and whisper, "Don't give up, Nerys. You know as well as I do how tenacious Jadzia can be." He smiled. "And Dax was even worse. Did I ever tell you about the time that Curzon Dax actually irritated a Vulcan? The Vulcan actually swung at him! It all started..."

Kira managed a small laugh and listened attentively. It had to be better than staring out into empty space. The story was funny. She have to remember to ask Jadzia for all the details when she got back. When, she reminded herself. Not if.

"Major!" Ensign Brena swung around and grabbed her gently by the arm.

"What is it, Ka'lin?" Kira gently pried the fingers off of her arm. Normally she would not have minded, but Starfleet tended to disapprove of physical contact between officers of differing ranks.

"I'm picking up something on long range sensors....It's the runabout!...uh...the runabout, Sir." The Ensign blushed and Kira laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. To hell with the rules.

"Lifesigns?" Kira whispered, hope and dismay both vying for equal time in her voice. "Or just an empty ship?"

O'Brien scanned the runabout and turned to Kira, a huge smile across his face. "One lifesign, Sir. Very strong. She's awake!"

"Hail the runabout." A new feeling of dread had replaced the old one. Now that she was safe, would she remember?

"Dax to Deep Space Nine." The returning hail came back.

"Visual!" Sisko managed through his smile.

Jadzia appeared on the main viewscreen. She looked a little pale, but other than that, beautiful, Kira thought.

"Old man?" Sisko looked at the screen, hope in his eyes.

"Yes, Benjamin," Dax smiled back. "It's me. Whatever Garasa did, it worked. What a beautiful creature she is..."

"Good to have you back, Lieutenant." O'Brien called from his console. "I have your ETA at 12 minutes. Any problems out there?"

"None that I can see." Jadzia checked her computer. When she glanced back up, she caught Kira looking at her sadly. A smile jumped to her lips, followed quickly by a look of confusion. She looked as though she was trying hard to remember something just beyond her grasp. "Hello, Major. Did you miss me?"

"More than you'll ever know." Kira mustered up a ghost of a smile before turning away. Under her breath, she mumbled, "I still do..."

"We'll meet you at airlock eight. Ten minutes and counting!" Sisko clapped Kira on the back and motioned for all of them to join him. "Chief, if you don't mind..."

"No problem, Sir. I'll say my hellos later."

Sisko smiled and followed the rest of is senior staff out of Ops.

When they reached the airlock, Kira hung back. She stood, the last in the receiving line and watched as Julian prepared a medical tricorder to scan Jadzia the instant she stepped off the runabout.

As the doors swung open, Sisko was the first to reach through and pull Dax into a tight embrace. "It's good to see you, Old Man. I didn't know if I would ever get to drink with you again."

Dax hugged him back and then stood patiently as she was scanned, then embraced by Julian. "You are in perfect health. Slight fatigue however. You need some sleep."

"No problem there...that was going to be my first stop. Thank you all for helping me get through this. As she spoke, she glanced at Kira and smiled. It was a lovely smile, but one Kira had seen a thousand times. A smile for a friend, nothing more. "Now, if you will all excuse me, I am going to head to my quarters. I need a little time alone to get my bearings."

They all wished her goodnight as she strode off down the hallway. Everyone except Kira, who ducked into a passageway after Dax had passed by, her heart aching, tears in her eyes.

"So what are you going to do?"

Startled, Kira turned and found Sisko standing behind her.

"What do you mean?" She asked calmly as she tried to compose herself.

The Commander smiled gently and laid his hand on Kira's shoulder. "Major, I know what happened between you and DAx. I know how much she means to you, and I know she told you how terrified she was of being a joined Trill in love with someone who doesn't have another lifetime to go on to.

Kira began to tremble. "I love her, Benjamin."

"I know. And she loves you." Kira's eyes met his and he smiled. "She told me right before she left. She wanted you to know that. Just in case."

"What should I do?"

He sighed and shook his head. "Whatever your conscience allows you to." He took her hand and squeezed it gently. "I guess you just have to decide what you can live with....and without."

As he walked away, Kira stood contemplating the floor. With a deep sigh, she squared her shoulders and walked away.

Dax wandered through the corridors on her way to her quarters. It was wonderful, being joined again. Everything felt different from the last time she walked through these passages. It was almost like the way she had felt after her original joining. She meandered about for and hour or so, then headed towards her rooms. As she passed Major Kira's quarters, something pulled at her. Before she realized what she was doing, she had keyed the door and stepped inside. She caught herself before she walked in any further and tried to remember when Kira had given her the code for her door. Perplexed, she looked around the room with a strange sense of loss. She felt an emotion close to sadness as she left and walked the rest of the way to her own quarters. She could no more explain her feelings than she could her knowledge of the Majors security code.

As she entered her quarters, she began to walk into her bedroom when she caught her reflection in a mirror. Her hair was loose, something very rare, and there was a Bajoran earring hanging from her right lobe. She touched it gently as her heart began to pound. A memory fighting its way to the surface. Still trying to grasp it, she looked through her bedroom doorway. What she saw brought all the memories rushing back so fast that she was momentarily dizzy.

Kira lay across her bed, nude except for the same necklace she had worn for their dinner a few nights before and a silver bracelet around her wrist. She stood gracefully and walked over, her eyes staring intently into Jadzia's.

"I love you." She said simply.

Jadzia stared at her for a moment as everything came back to her. Then, smiling, she lowered her lips to Kira's and kissed her deeply. "I can't believe I almost forgot."

"Forgot what?" Kira teased.

"Forgot that I love you." She kissed the wrinkles on her nose. "I love you Nerys, please, don't ever let me forget it."

"Don't worry," Kira leaned into her, resting her bare body against Jadzia's fully clothed one. "If I have my way, you won't be able to think of much else..."

The End

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