DISCLAIMER: The main characters and locations used in this story are the sole property of Paramount Pictures Inc. I have borrowed them here in an attempt to create a fictional episode of the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The story and all elements, other than those listed above, belong to Patricia L. Ennis. This story is for private amusement only and may not be uploaded for profit (Poor Quark) or without this header intact.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, with that out of the way, I think I should clue all you wonderful Trek people in to a few elements of this story which might disturb you. First of all, this story does contain a relationship between two women (as my stories tend to do!) and all the trappings that go with it. It also is not for anyone who is a fan of the character Shakaar. I do not wish to ruin the story for you, but also do not want any Shakaar fans screaming bloody murder in my ear, so there is the warning. If any of this may offend you, please do not continue. If, however, you love the Spirit of Trek in all its incarnations, please read on and let me know what you think, good, bad, or indifferent.
Also, special thanks are sent out to Bat Morda. Our ongoing story, "Time", has proven to be an excellent soundingboard for the more twisted elements of my nature and has also served to help create several Bajoran proverbs and endearments that I am quite fond of. Your talents and patience are unequaled, Shawn. (Although part 54 was late…as are your reports, Lieutenant!)(Or is it Minister of Science now?) Also, another special thanks to Oira Kirys, for giving me a pretty good idea of what making love to a changeling might be like. Your stories are inspirational. (In all kinds of ways J )
The very last item is that this story does not really have a time line. If it must be categorized you could find it somewhere between Crossfire and Accession. (An alternate story line of course, and as such, I have taken a few liberties with time explanations.) (Oh, and this story was written before The Quickening had aired, so I make no apologies for the replicator incident. J ) May the Prophets walk with you!
Okay. I have recently been accused of writing for a specific target audience, in that I never give any explanation as to who the characters are or what exactly it is that they are doing way out on the edge of an unknown galaxy. Silly me, I was going on the assumption that the only people who would read Star Trek fanfiction would have to be Star Trek fans.
J So, for the benefit of my family and friends who wish to make remarks regarding the odd nature of my character and the twisted nature of my mind, I have developed this little 'cheat sheet' It is simply a listing of the major characters portrayed in this story and may be immediately discarded by those of you who know and love Trek on a daily basis. Sorry to waste a sheet of your printer paper. You can find the cheat sheet HERE.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Minister of Lies
By Patricia L. Givens


Chapter One-Long Overdue

Major Kira Nerys pulled her tired gaze away from the screen and the file she had been working on. Her eyes were burning, a clue that it was time to take a break. Glancing around Ops, she was surprised to see that she and Jadzia were the only two people left in the room. Then again, it was 0300 hours. She watched with a small, affectionate smile as Dax tried to subdue a yawn and failed miserably. "Tired?" she asked, moving to stand beside her.

"I've been tired for days," the lovely Trill smiled at her. "I haven't been sleeping very well."

"You too?" The Major's eyebrows went up in surprise. "I thought I was the only one with insomnia these days. That's why I went ahead and volunteered for the fourth shift rotation. I wasn't sleeping, so I figured that I might as well be doing something."

Jadzia walked to the replicator and spoke into the sensor. "Rak'tegino-" she paused and glanced at Kira, who nodded slightly in acceptance. "One, extra hot with 2 measures of Alvanian calf's milk-another, extra hot, two measures of kava."

Kira drank deeply from the cup that Jadzia offered her. "You remembered how I like it."

Jadzia grinned. "I know someone else has been bringing you your Rak'tegino for the past two weeks, but I do have a better memory than that!" Kira laughed along with her as Dax raised her eyebrows knowingly. "So, how was your vacation?"

Kira smiled a slow, sweet smile, her eyes half closed in remembrance.

"Never mind. I think I can see it in your face. You and Shakaar do make a nice....couple."

Kira noticed the hesitation in Dax's voice and looked at her questioningly, but Jadzia just smiled a little sadly and shrugged. She was about to ask what Dax had meant but then thought better of it in their current surroundings. It would be wiser if they continued this particular conversation in their off-duty time, away from all the sensors and duty recorders in Ops. "Would you like to have breakfast when our shift is over?" she asked.

Dax looked over at her and Kira could see just how tired she was. She had just begun to retract the invitation when Dax grinned. "Sure." she said in a perfect imitation of Dr. Bashirs accent. "Should I call you, or nudge you?" She followed the last with a perfectly lecherous waggle of her left eyebrow and Kira began to laugh uproariously. "That was a good impression!" She finally managed, through her tears. "But then, I guess you have been subject to him enough to get it down pretty well."

"Now, ladies," A voice said from behind them, in perfectly clipped, British tones. "That's no way to talk about a gentleman."

They both turned, guilty smiles on their faces. "I'm sorry, Julian." Dax threw him one of her heartbreaking grins. "It was one of your better lines. I just couldn't let it go to waste."

"Well then, by all means, let me use one of your better lines," He cleared his throat and let a calm, detached look come over his face. "Julian," he managed to subdue most of his accent. "There is a difference between thirty-two and three hundred and thirty-two."

Both women chuckled at his near-the-mark impersonation. "Very funny, Julian." Dax had a mock scowl on her face. "What are you doing up at this hour?"

"I couldn't sleep." Julian shrugged. "I've had about ten or eleven cases of severe insomnia in my office today alone. I thought I would take all of this extra energy and try to investigate this little coincidence. How are you two?"

Kira sighed, "We seem to be in the same boat as you." She brushed at a strand of hair that had fallen into her eyes. "I've probably had four hours of sleep in the past three days."

"Well, you've had more than I have, Major." Sisko said as he walked through the door and joined them.

"Not you too, Benjamin." Dax sympathized.

"Afraid so. What are you drinking?" He glanced into their cups.

"Rak'tegino. Would you like one?" Jadzia began to move towards the replicator as Sisko nodded in her direction.

"Wait a minute." Bashir had been scanning the cups sitting on the console. "How many Rak'tegino's have all of you had in the last four days?"

They all thought for a moment. Their answers were about the same. 5-7 cups a piece in last four days.

"And I have had 5 as well." Bashir mumbled as he walked over to the replicator. He ordered the same drink and then scanned it as it materialized. When done, he shook his head and tapped his comm-badge. "Bashir to O'Brien. We need you in Ops. We seem to have a system wide replicator failure of some sort."

Sisko raised his eyebrows. "Did you find something, Doctor?"

"It seems as though this old station has played a little joke on us, Captain. Rak'tegino is a drink that was favored by the Cardassians as well as Bajorans and Terrans. Somehow, the replicators have switched back to the Cardassian version of our little drink. Twelve times the regular amount of caffeine...Sir." Bashir finished up with a smile that said he was in love with his own brilliance.

"That does explain the sleepless nights I've been experiencing. However, I find it hard to believe that the replicators would just spontaneously shift programs. Besides, most of the Cardassian food programs have been deleted out of all but a few of the stations replicators, the remaining two being located in Garak's and Quark's." He rubbed his hand over his tired eyes as O'Brien walked into the room. "Chief," he continued. "Find out for me exactly how this happened and keep me informed if you come across anything suspicious."

"Aye, Sir." O'Brien nodded and began to remove his tools from the case he had carried in with him. After a few moments, he turned and looked at the group of officers standing before him. "What exactly am I looking for?"

Bashir grinned and went to converse with him, explaining the situation as Sisko laughed at himself. When he was finished, the Doctor came up behind him and placed a hand on his arm. "I could give you something to help you sleep, Sir. It's going to take a while for the effects of the caffeine to wear off."

Sisko began to nod as a short warning siren went off.

"What's going on Dax?" He went to stand behind her.

"We have an unannounced ship coming through the wormhole."

"At this hour?" Sisko leaned down to study the console. "I thought the next ship requesting clearance wasn't due until 0700 hours."

"You're right." Jadzia called up the docking reports as the ship came through their end of the wormhole. "Their shields are up!" Her hands began to fly over the controls. "They're powering up their phasers!"

"Shields up!" Sisko barked. "Hail them, Lieutenant."

Dax punched her console and spoke into the sensor, "Deep Space Nine to Terran vessel Nakota, please respond."

Kira's head snapped up from her display. "Nakota?" She whispered as she joined the other officers. "Dax, are you sure it's the Nakota?"

"That's the correct reading." Dax answered quickly. "Benjamin, they're responding."

"On speaker, Dax."

"This is the trader vessel Nakota to Terek Nor," Several eyebrows shot up at the mention of the stations original name. "Please identify yourself." The female voice continued.

"I am Captain Benjamin Sisko, commanding officer of the Federation outpost, Deep Space Nine."

"The Federation..." The words were not a question and came over the comm as barely a whisper. "We heard rumors that the Federation had taken control of the sector and driven the Cardassians out of Bajoran space, but we didn't dare to hope..." Her voice broke off its revelry and became stern once again. "We require visual verification before we know that we can dock safely."

"One moment, Nakota." Sisko turned to Kira and studied her face. "What's the story, Major? You sounded like you might know some background on our visitors."

Kira looked at him thoughtfully. "A Terran ship bearing the name Nakota was used by the Bajoran resistance to shuttle rescued prisoners off of Bajor. Its last run was during the ending years of the occupation. The resistance, including my cell, had managed to liberate the Nan'Tekk mining facility and free 1,500 Bajoran POW's. They were loaded on that ship and sent to Lueseppia, where they would be safe. The ship never made it. It met with Cardassian warships before it even cleared Bajoran space. It was always believed that it had been destroyed." This last was said with a slight catch in Kira's voice, which caused Sisko to do a double take. He sent her a questioning look. Kira sighed and lowered her head. "It was rumored that I had family at Nan'Tekk. The records of who was on board disappeared with the ship."

"How long ago was this?"

"About 9 years ago."

He turned back to Dax. "Is there anything on that ship which would substantiate the theory that it has been in the Gamma Quadrant for the last 9 years, old man?"

Dax focused in on the ship and watched as the sensors shifted the visual, showing each side of the ship for a few seconds at a time. "Right there, Benjamin." She pointed to 4 long burns along the port nacelle. "Three of those are Cardassian. Oxidization puts them at about 7 to 10 years old. The remaining one is..." She waited as the computer searched. When she got her answer, she looked up at Sisko, surprise on her face. "The remaining one was caused by a proton blast from a Jem'Hadar warship."

Sisko nodded and looked out at the Nakota, which was waiting patiently for his response. "Re-open the channel, Dax. Give me visual."

The consoles small view screen was immediately occupied by a lovely, and familiar, Bajoran woman, who looked quite startled. She smiled for a moment and then sighed in relief. "Then it's true. Thank the Prophets." She relaxed visibly. She spoke to someone out of view. "Lower shields, Branak, power down the weapons." She returned her attention to Sisko. "Captain, we would like to request permission to dock."

"Permission granted. Give us a minute to find an available dock. In the meantime, where did you come from and, not to be rude but, who are you?"

"I will be more than happy to tell you everything that we have been through, Sir. As soon as we've all had a bath and a meal. As for me, my name is Kira. Kira Talas."

There was a startled gasp as the Major pushed past Sisko. "Tala?" she whispered in disbelief. "Tala, is that really you?"

Kira Talas studied the Major for a moment before her eyes widened. "Nerys? Oh, Prophets...Nerys, I've finally found you...."

"Docking bay 7 is available." Sisko cut in. "Please proceed to that location and wait there for our arrival."

"Thank you, Sir. Kira out." She sent the Major a brilliant smile as her image faded from view.

Kira moved quickly to leave Ops and Sisko had to grab her gently by the arm to get her attention. "Major, who was that woman?"

"That was the family I had at Nan'Tekk." Kira's smile was radiant. "That was my sister!"

Sisko released her and motioned for his senior staff to follow him to Docking bay 7.

Sisko watched as Kira paced back and forth in front of the airlock. He was torn between wanting to smile at her childlike enthusiasm (which was something he had never seen before) and wanting to grab her and hold her still. It wasn't that he didn't feel happy for her, it was just that she had already had so much disappointment in her life, and he didn't want to see her get hurt again. With a surprised grin, he realized that the hot headed ex-terrorist had somehow found a soft spot in his heart. Not that he ever would have admitted it.

Dax had noticed Kira's nervous pacing as well and went to stand at her side. Placing her hands on the smaller woman's shoulders, she squeezed gently and smiled. "I'm so happy for you, Nerys." She hugged her. "But try to slow down a little, okay? She isn't going anywhere."

Kira nodded and faced the airlock, forcing herself to calm down by sheer will alone. Jadzia left one hand on Kira's shoulder and she could almost feel the caring and support radiating from the Trill.

As the doors slid open, Kira rose to the tips of her feet, trying to see over the heads of the people exiting the Nakota. The advancing group of about 30 Bajorans was stopped as Sisko stepped in front of them and raised his arm in the air to get their attention

"I am Captain Benjamin Sisko," He said loudly. "Commanding Officer of Deep Space Nine. I would like to welcome you on behalf of Starfleet. Now, if you would kindly follow Dr. Bashir, he will make sure you are all inoculated and given quarters, a hot bath, and a good meal."

A cheer went up from the Bajorans as they surrounded him and each of them began to clasp his hand in turn. They showed no signs of moving on until a voice came from the ship docked behind them.

"There is another rumor that I would like confirmed or dispelled, Captain." A beautiful young woman with features strikingly similar to those of Major Kira walked into view. She smiled warmly at him and the crowd parted so that she could walk to his side. "There is a rumor, Sir, that you are not only the Commanding Officer of this station. There is a rumor that you are also the Emissary."

Several of the Bajoran's gasped and they all looked startled as Sisko shifted uncomfortably. Before he could say anything, the Major spoke from the back of the airlock.

"Yes, he is. The Prophets themselves have confirmed it." She strode to the front of the group and smiled at her sister as she reached for her hand. "I've missed you." she whispered.

"Yes, well," Sisko nodded his head slowly. "That is also something for another time. Please, let us take you were you will be more comfortable."

The group of people nodded immediately and followed Bashir out of the docking ring. When they were gone, Sisko smiled and shook his head. Kira reached out and squeezed his hand gently as he turned to leave.

Turning back, Kira pulled Talas into a tight embrace. "I had almost given up on ever seeing you again. All these years...with no word." She stood back and looked at her with hope. "What about Zenece?"

Tala turned her head away as her breath caught in her chest. She looked everywhere but into Kira's eyes. "No. She died about three years ago. In a farming accident."

"A farming accident?" She thought her sister had looked a little odd for a moment, but then, she hadn't seen her for years. She was saddened by Tala's loss, but shocked by what she had heard. "You settled? Where?"

She smiled at her sister's look of surprise. "Enough time for that later, Nerys. For now," she looked over Kira's shoulder at Dax, who had been standing back, trying not to intrude. "Who is this lovely creature behind you?"

Kira looked embarrassed. She had forgotten that Jadzia had not left with the rest of the group. She motioned for Dax to join them. "Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, may I introduce Kira Talas, my sister." The last was said with such an enthusiastic smile that Dax had to return it in kind.

"I am very pleased to meet you," Dax bowed slightly, her smile still huge. "Kir...uh," She glanced at the Major. "Uhm...I'm sorry. I can see that this might get a little confusing." She took in the woman's appearance and was pleased by what she saw. She was slightly taller than the Major, about 5'8" or 5'9", but she had the same nose and eyes. Her hair was a few shades darker, but still had the brassy red highlights, although she wore it a bit differently. It was short on the sides, standing up on the top and it ended in a long braid that reached all the way down her back. The top was a bit wavier than the Major's as well, something someone might affectionately call 'unruly'

"You can just call me Tala." She squeezed Jadzia's hand firmly, then winked. "It will help when you want one of us, but not the other."

"Okay, Tala it is then."

She studied the tall woman closely for a moment and then straightened her coat. "Well, I guess we should catch up with my crew, before they destroy your station."

"Of course." Dax nodded politely and turned to go.

"Lieutenant," Tala touched her arm lightly. "I was going to explain everything tomorrow, to Nerys and the Captain. I would like it if you could join us."

Dax smiled. "Thank you. I think I would like that as well." She stood, one eyebrow raised, and watched as the two Bajorans left the docking ring. With a wry grin and a loud sigh, she headed back to Ops.

Kira was shaking her head as they rounded the corner into the main corridor. "Some things never change."

"What do you mean?" She demanded.

"You're not here ten minutes and you are already finding...interests."

"Oh." Tala looked at her apologetically, and with no small amount of regret. "Are the two of you....?"

"No, no." Kira shook her head quickly. "I guess I'm just feeling selfish about you right now."

Tala smiled and hugged her older sister to her. "Don't worry Nerys. I'll make sure you get sick of me before you ever have to miss me again."

The both laughed and went to rejoin her crew.


Chapter 2-Introductions

Kira Talas felt wonderful. She had spent two luxurious hours floating in a huge tub filled to the very top with steaming hot water and ja'ling leaves, drinking glass after glass of the spring wine Nerys had given her before heading to her own quarters for some much needed sleep.

Now she walked the Promenade. Captain Sisko had promised that their first meal on the station would be courtesy of Starfleet, and Tala was now searching for something that would please her palate. Most of her crew had opted for Quarks, where they could watch the gamblers spinning the Dabo wheel while they ate. Tala, however, shared her sisters disdain for bars and chose to look for more interesting fare elsewhere. As she passed the Bolean restaurant, she allowed her eyes to read over the menu. Before she realized it, she had walked right into a rather good looking Klingon male. His red shouldered uniform designated him as a member of Starfleet Command. He grabbed her quickly by the arms as she stumbled into chest.

"Are you all right, Major? You really should be more caref-" He began, but stopped mid-sentence as he got a better look at her. "You are not the Major."

"No." Tala smiled sweetly. "I am not the Major."

"I am sorry." He continued. "I did not mean to be rude. It is just that you look very much like someone else on this station." He bowed slightly. "I am Lieutenant Commander Worf."

"Nice to meet you, Worf." She smiled mischievously. "My name is Talas. Kira Talas."

"Kira..." Worf's lower jaw dropped for probably the second time in his life. "Once again, I apologize. I was not aware that the Major had any living family members."

Tala laughed at his directness. "Actually, Commander, I don't think my sister had any idea either." She caught sight of Dax going into the Klingon restaurant two shops down. "Excuse me."

Worf watched her as she walked away. Two Kiras on one space station. He wondered if the federation would survive.

Tala slipped between two huge Klingon women and came to a halt just inside the door. The sights and sounds which greeted her inside the restaurant were loud and eclectic, not to mention the smells. A rather large Klingon dressed in a white chef's outfit was playing something that looked like a small accordion and singing directly to the object of her search. Jadzia smiled and laughed, bestowing an affectionate kiss on the Klingon's brow as he finished the song.

"Dax!" He puffed himself up to his full 7 and a half feet. "This is the last time I will ask you, marry me!"

Jadzia laughed. "We both know it is not the last time you will ask, Jos. And the answer is still the same. Maybe in my next life."

Jos smiled expansively. "Then there is hope yet!" He began his song again as he moved back towards the kitchen.

Dax was still laughing when she caught sight of Tala, who was leaning against the back wall, watching with interest. She waved to the younger Bajoran to come join her. Tala smiled and acquiesced.

"I am surprised you're still awake," She observed as she settled into a chair across from the Trill. "My sister told me there was some kind of replicator failure and you were all exhausted. I couldn't comprehend the correlation between the two, but she was so tired I sent her off to bed with the promise that she would explain it tomorrow." She smiled. "I am glad you weren't that tired. I was afraid it was going to be a very dull dinner."

"I seem to suffer from the inability to sleep without eating." Jadzia smiled back at her. "This is my favorite restaurant."

"I've never eaten Klingon food." She laughed quietly, and then sobered. "You don't come across a lot of it in the Gamma Quadrant…or in prison camps."

Jadzia nodded slowly, understanding the woman's mood. She knew from her experiences with Major Kira that there wasn't always something you could say in response to a person's pain. "Well then," she continued brightly. "Let me introduce you the subtleties of Klingon fare." She stood up abruptly and yelled towards the kitchen, "Jos! Rok'tai! Ker'chna Dor!" Her tone was very hostile but the big man just laughed and waved at her. "Gagh, too…and two Rak'tegino's."

Tala was smiling when she sat back down. "I take it that the display is as important as the order?"

Jadzia nodded, grinning. "You are going to catch on quick!"

Tala watched Jadzia intently as Jos brought their food. Her eyes lingered on the spots which trailed down from her temples to disappear into her uniform. She looked up to find the Klingon smiling at her knowingly.

"You have many admirers, it would seem, my lovely spot woman." With a laugh at Tala's discomfort, he strode away.

Jadzia smiled at her gently. "Don't be embarrassed, Tala." She ran a finger lightly down the side of her own face. "They do tend to bring me a lot of attention."

"I don't think it is so much the spots, Jadzia, as the way they frame the beauty beneath."

Dax looked up from her food, startled. "You're a poet."

"I was. When I was younger. When there was still something beautiful to write about."

"And now? There isn't anything you find beautiful enough to write about?"

Tala finally returned her smile. "I've found one thing." She was surprised to see the Trill blush slightly. "And I have yet to go to Bajor. I am sure they've rebuilt something in the four years since the Cardassians pulled out."

"So," Jadzia munched on some Gagh, encouraging her to do the same. "You settled in the Gamma Quadrant. Nine years ago?"

"No, actually, we wandered for a year and a half. We didn't have a clue as to where we were. The Nakota's navigational array was damaged in battle with the Cardassian warship that they sent to 'subdue the terrorists'…yeah, some terrorists we were. 1,500 wounded and starving Bajorans….we were a big threat."

The bitterness in her voice caused Jadzia to put her fork down and take the younger woman's hand gently. "I'm sorry. Maybe we should talk about something else."

Tala sighed. "Maybe. I'll be going over all of this tomorrow anyway. It would be better for me, perhaps, if I only had to tell it once."

Jadzia nodded and squeezed her hand one last time before relinquishing it to resume her meal. She watched, trying not to laugh, as Tala struggled to keep her food on her fork. "The best way to eat gagh," Jadzia picked her plate up and held it near her mouth, sliding the wiggling creatures directly onto her tongue. "Is to just shovel it in."

Talas did as instructed and smiled after she swallowed. "Not bad. I can't say I would miss the wiggling, but it is rather tasty."

"Well, that is one thing you and your sister do not have in common." She laughed. "Whenever she agrees to go to dinner with me, it's always on the condition that 'we are not going to that damned worm place'!"

Tala laughed with her. "That sounds like Nerys." She tore off a hunk of bread. "When we were at the Singha refugee camp, she used to restart the cook fires just to make sure her food was black and unrecognizable."

"Even the Palaku's?" Dax asked.

"The Palaku's!" She smiled. "I had forgotten about them! They were cute little things. I had one as a pet for a while, until Nerys got really hungry."

Dax looked up, shocked, only to see Tala's laughing eyes looking into her own. She laughed too. "You had me going for a minute."

Tala leaned her head to one side and studied Dax's features. "'Rys said that you're a Trill?"

Jadzia nodded. "I am a joined Trill."

A slightly confused look crossed Tala's features for a moment. "I saw a Trill in a picture once, before the Nakota's systems failed. He didn't look like you." She reached out and touched Jadzia's forehead, right above her eyebrows. "He had a ridge, right here."

Jadzia nodded. "Must have been a Replic."

"A Replic?"

"Sometimes, the symbionts aren't strong enough for joining, so they are placed in Replicates. Clones of a sort, only they lack any type of natural brain activity. They are, essentially, just living vessels. The symbiont is given free reign to learn and grow on it's own before it is removed for the actual Joining."

"Why do they look so different?" Tala's attention was drawn back to Jadzia's spots.

"It makes it easier, for them to be treated gently, and for us to find them." She shrugged at the Bajoran's questioning gaze. "Even the best of symbionts can become addicted to total control, and the replicates only have a life span of four years."

"I like you better this way," the younger woman smiled. "Much better."

"Me too!" Dax grinned. She finished the last of her Gagh and sighed.

Tala looked at her closely and finally saw the dark circles under her eyes. "You are tired." She stood and stretched, much to the delight of the male crewmen in the restaurant. "I am too. I should probably head off to my quarters."

"Where did they put you?"

"Hmm…uh, crews quarters. Habitat ring, section 6a, suite..uhm…12d."

Dax raised an eyebrow. "Nice room. I'm surprised they put you in crew quarters though."

"I think my little band of merry men was a bit more than they were ready to handle." She smiled and sighed wistfully. "Well, since I can't seem to find an excuse to keep you here longer…"

Jadzia laughed at her directness. "How about…if I walk you to your room? These corridors have been known to get a little confusing."

Tala grinned. "I will take you up on that. Are you ready to go now?"

Dax nodded and stood. Turning towards the kitchen she yelled, "Jos! On my account. Both of them!"

Jos just grinned and waved her away.

She shook her head and joined Talas. "I have never paid for a meal here." She smiled warmly in the big Klingon's direction. "Doesn't look like I ever will either. At least, not as long as Jos needs a wife."

They laughed as they left the restaurant and headed down the Promenade. Tala didn't seem to be in any hurry, so Dax walked the long way, around the lower level of the Promenade.

Tala glanced over at Jadzia as they went. The statuesque Trill walked very confidently, her strides long and even, her hands clasped comfortably behind her back. It was the self assured gait of a woman of power and intelligence. Both traits Tala found very appealing. Dax came to a stop outside of Quarks, a smile on her face.

Tala peered inside and smiled as she spotted some of her crew. They were trying to learn how to play Dabo, and from the looks of it, failing. She laughed and turned to Jadzia. "They aren't used to the 'big city' life. Not much excitement like this on our little moon." She sighed. "I guess everyone is allowed to act a little childish, at least once in a while."

"Oh, I don't know. I don't believe I ever have." She held her hand out to the younger woman and led her to a portal.

"You've never acted childishly? Not even when you were a child?" Tala had meant it as a joke, but Dax answered seriously. "No, I was always too busy trying to qualify for the Joining." She smiled and pointed out the portal. "Make a wish…"

Tala looked out and saw the wormhole flare into life. She glanced at Dax in wonder and was immediately caught by the look on her face. She was smiling. It was a sweet, innocent smile, her mouth slightly open, and Tala found that she could not raise her eyes above the Trill's lips. They were unadorned and looked soft and full. She continued to gaze at them until Jadzia cleared her throat. With a blush and an embarrassed grin, Tala raised her eyes to look into Jadzia's. She saw laughter there, and warmth.

"Your hands are cold." She managed.

"I know." Dax grinned. "They came that way. What did you wish for?"

"I, uhm…" Tala looked out the portal again. "I wished that I didn't have to eat dinner alone tomorrow." She looked pointedly at Jadzia. "After the briefing."

Jadzia smiled. "Well then, your wish has come true. You will not be eating dinner alone tomorrow evening. Or should I say this evening."

"What time is it?" She asked, alarmed at the number of people around them, on the Promenade.

Dax glanced at a screen imbedded in the column to the right of them. "It's 0700."

Tala winced. "What time do you have to report for duty?"

"1200 hours." She chuckled at Tala's quick look of remorse. "Don't feel bad. I have had a very enjoyable morning. And look forward to another one this evening." She dropped the shorter woman's hand and directed her towards a turbo lift. "Now, let me walk you to your room."

Tala nodded, a smile on her face. She accompanied Dax into the turbo lift and then through the corridors that led to her rooms. When they reached her door, she turned to the Trill and squeezed her arm briefly. "Thank you, 'Zia. I am looking forward to tonight."

"Me too." Dax waited until she had gone inside, then turned and headed for her quarters. She smiled the whole way.

Three hours later, Dax walked into the replimat, the same smile on her face. The few hours of sleep had done her a world of good and her smile broadened as she spotted Kira nursing a Rak'tegino at a table in the corner. She ordered hers extra strong, along with one of the eikelberry torts that Benjamin was so fond of, and joined her friend at the table.

"Good morning, Nerys!" Her tone was very bright and chipper, something that the Major seemed very unappreciative of.

"How do you do that?" Kira demanded. "I know you couldn't have gotten any more sleep than I did, especially if your habit of eating worms before bedtime is still in effect. So how come you look like your ready to face the world, and I feel like I am ready to bomb it?"

Jadzia looked at her friend closely. "If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that there is something more than a lack of sleep bothering you. Especially the way you keep glancing up the promenade." She followed the Major's gaze to where it rested on the closed door of the Station's security office. She turned back to her friend with a sigh. "Why don't you just go talk to him?"

Kira gave her a defeated smile. "I've tried…a dozen times. He just won't hear me. He either makes an excuse so he can leave the room, or he keeps the conversation strictly business." She looked down at her coffee. "I miss him."

"Have you ever tried to see things from his side? Tried to figure out exactly when he started behaving this way?"

"It's been a couple of months now. At first, I thought he was trying to discipline herself, after that incident in the turbo lift. I thought that maybe he believed the time he spent with me jeopardized his ability to do his job." She sighed again. "I thought I could get through that eventually. Make him see we could be friends without jeopardizing anything. But nothing I say ever seems to affect him. Take my sister for example. Six months ago, I would have gone running to his office. I shared everything that was important to me with him. Now….I'm terrified. Terrified that I'll tell him about this, and he'll say, 'I'm happy for you, Major. Now, if you don't mind…'."

Dax looked at her friend sympathetically. She started to say something, then changed her mind, closing her mouth with a little shake of her head that was not lost on Kira.

"Do you know something I don't, Dax?" She leaned towards the Trill. "If you do, please, tell me."

Dax weighed the silent promise she had made to Odo after experiencing his feelings and memories at the conclusion of her Jian'Tara, against the very real pain that Kira was going through. In the end, she realized that she had no right to tell Kira something that Odo had not yet told her himself. "All I know, is that you should go tell him. Right now. Something so important to you couldn't be lost on him. It might be the opening you need to find out what's wrong with him."

Kira looked at her, doubt creasing her features.

"Go on. I'll wait for you here, in case you need moral support." She gave Kira what she hoped was an encouraging smile.

Kira rose from the table slowly, looking as though she was getting ready to face a fleet of Jem'Hadar warships, instead of the man who was supposed to be her best friend. With one final sigh, she headed across the promenade and entered the Security Office.

Odo glanced up from his reports upon her entrance. He was immediately irritated by the small pang of joy that he felt whenever she was around. He put it back where it belonged and repeated the words that had become his mantra: Forget about her! He watched her expectantly as she paced around the room. "Is there something I can do for you, Major?"

She finally turned and looked at him. "A ship docked late last night."

He nodded. "I know, I reviewed last nights logs, as you know I do every morning. The Nakota, I believe that is the one you're referring to?"

Kira swallowed. "Yes." She took a deep breath. "My sister was on that ship. She's on board now."

For a moment, it looked as though Odo was going to rise, a smile on his normally inexpressive face. But it was only for a moment. In the end, he merely said, "That is wonderful Major. I am very happy for you."

"Are you?" She could feel her anger rising. "Or did you already know, Odo? Did you get the passenger lists with the docking logs? Did you see the name 'Kira" on one of them and just not care enough to say one damned word to me??"

Odo's skin changed texture slightly, the Changeling equivalent of 'paling' she supposed. "I did not know, Major. The passenger lists were delayed. They will not be available for another hour. And…I do care."

Kira snorted. "Well you wouldn't know it from how you've been acting lately. We used to be such good friends Odo. Now it seems like you can't even stand the sight of me." She straightened her shoulders. "Well, this time you had better be prepared to give me some answers, because I am not leaving without them!"

Odo shifted uncomfortably, then finally stood and walked over to her. "It isn't that I don't want to see you, Major." It was a lie, but not for the reasons she assumed. "With all of the problems we've been having, with the Klingons and the Maquis…I just haven't had a lot of extra time." He saw her anger rising and rushed to continue. "And neither have you. You have Shakaar-"

"Is that what this is all about?" Kira interrupted him. "You think I don't have time for you because I'm with Shakaar now? Odo," Her voice softened. "You will always be important to me, no matter what happens between Edon and I." She reached out and touched his arm, not noticing the way he closed his eyes when her hand touched his 'skin'. "Things will settle down, Odo. I know I'm acting a little crazy right now, but it's always that way when a humanoid first falls in love. I know you don't have any experience with that, since you've never been in love, but-"

It was Odo's turn to snort, catching the Major completely off guard. "You presume an awful lot about me, Major. Perhaps you do not know me as well as you'd like to believe."

Kira's face registered the shock that she felt. "Are you saying that you have been in love? Odo, is that what you're telling me?"

He tried to turn away, but Kira turned with him, trying not to lose contact with his eyes. "Yes." He whispered.

Kira sighed heavily. "What happened?" She asked, dreading the answer.

"Nothing happened, Major." He chuckled darkly. "I guess you could say, she broke my heart. Figuratively, of course."

"Who was she?"

Odo looked at her for a long moment and then turned away. She did not follow him this time. "What does it matter, Major? It has no bearing on who we are or how we relate to each other."

"But-" Kira began.

"I do not wish to discuss it! Can't you understand that?" His anger rose higher than he had ever allowed it to in the past. It felt good to finally share some of his passion, even though it was at her instead of with her. "So I will say it one more time, congratulations on finding your sister, and congratulations on your continuing good

relations with the First Minister." He steeled himself against the anguish those last words had caused him. "Now, if you will excuse me..." He returned to his desk.

"Fine." The anger radiated off of Kira as though it were a tangible thing. "I will excuse you. From everything," Her voice became dangerously low. "Including our friendship." She slammed her hand against the door control and stormed out.

Odo watched her go and managed to wait for the door to slide shut before dropping his head into his hands. It was at times like this, that he wished Changelings could cry…

Dax watched as the door to Security slid open and Kira appeared. Even from a distance she could tell things had not gone well. She jumped up and hurried to her side, grabbing her arm to stop her when calling her didn't seem to have any effect. "Kira, wait!" She pulled the angry Bajoran to a stop. "What happened?"

Kira turned to face her and Dax could see that the anger was losing its ability to keep the Major from tears. "What happened?"

"Yes," Dax shook her gently. "What happened? Why are you so angry?"

Kira let out a deep breath and pulled herself together. "He doesn't care, Jadzia. I told him about my sister, I tried to talk to him about what was happening between us, and he just shut me out."

"C'mon." Dax led her to a seat in the replimat and brought her a cup of tea. "Drink this. Tell me what happened."

"He was so angry. I tried to explain how things are when a humanoid falls in love, and he just said he had been in love, that he knew..."

"Did he say who he was in love with?" Dax studied her.

"No," Kira sighed. "Just that she broke his heart." She peered up at Dax. "Do you know?"

Dax slowly shook her head. "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know. I told him our friendship was over."

"Is that what you want?"

Kira sighed again, thinking that she seemed to be doing a lot of that lately. "No. But I don't know what to do."

"Maybe, if you understand why he's angry, you can work your way back from there."

"How am I supposed to find out what's wrong with him? He won't tell me anything."

Dax placed her arm around Kira. "Maybe the best thing to do is to start with his friends."

"Odo doesn't have any friends. I was his only friend."

"Sometimes," Dax smiled. "the difference between friend and enemy is not so great as one would think."

Kira looked up at her and smiled. She had just turned her attention back to her tea when Tala walked up to their table.

"Good morning, ladies." She smiled at them both, but her gaze lingered on Dax.

"Good morning." Kira gestured to one of the empty chairs, missing nothing of the exchange between her sister and her friend. "Sit, have some coffee. I have a few minutes before I have to be back at Ops."

Dax looked at her and then hit her Commbadge. "Dax to Sisko."

"Sisko here. What's up, Old Man?"

"Benjamin, I was thinking that I could work the rest of Kira's shift today, She only has another 2 hours before I was supposed to come on anyway. Just so she could have a little extra time with her sister."

"That sounds like an excellent idea. I'll see you here in a few minutes then. Sisko out."

Kira smiled at Dax. "Thank you. That was very nice of you."

"Anything for a friend. You two have a good time. I'll see you at the briefing."

"Are we still on for tonight, 'Zia?" Tala smiled at her. "After the briefing?"

Dax nodded, "I'll be there." With that, she turned and left the replimat.

"What was that all about?" Kira demanded. "And what's with calling her 'Zia?"

"Oh," Tala blushed slightly. "The Commander and I had breakfast together this morning. She agreed to have dinner with me tonight after the briefing."

Kira shook her head. "So much for inviting you over for hasperat." She pointed a finger at her. "She is a good person, Talas. You be careful with her. For Prophet's sake, don't break her heart."

Tala beamed. "Breaking her heart is the furthest thing from my mind. Breaking her concentration maybe, but not her heart…" She stopped joking when she noticed her sister's red rimmed eyes. "What's wrong 'Rys? Did something happen?"

"Just something I need to work out. With a friend." She laughed at her sister. "I guess I'll have plenty of time to work on that tonight, since you've found more interesting diversions."

Tala took her sisters hand. "What about now, 'Rys? It's not even 1100 hours yet. The briefing isn't until 1900. That gives us plenty of time to spend together."

"What would you like to do?"

"Well, I hear there is a beautiful planet nearby. I might like to visit there if we have enough time…"

"I can get us on the next shuttle." Kira stood and pulled on her sisters hand. "If we run that is!"

As she and her sister moved down the promenade, Kira was oblivious to the pain filled, blue eyes that followed them until they were out of sight.

Part 2

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