ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Minister of Lies
By Patricia L. Givens


Chapter 3-Meeting Darkness

"She will never love you…how could she? You are a Changeling."

Odo watched them go, feeling his 'heart' tear itself apart in his chest. He could never figure out how she could have such an affect on an organ that didn't even really exist. He looked down at the PADD in his hand and threw it across the room. It landed against the wall with enough force to wake the Bajoran who was sleeping off a drunk in one of the cells. Odo sighed as he heard the man call for him.

"What do you want, Aleram?" He growled, his voice a bit more harsh than he intended.

"Something for my head…" The voice was filled with pain, yet Odo still had a hard time feeling sorry for the man.

"No one told you to drink 3 bottles of Romulan Ale, you did that to yourself."

The only answer was a small whimper, and Odo relented. Going to his desk, he slapped the console. After a moment, Quark's face appeared. "Good afternoon, Constable." The Ferengi's voice was wheedling and Odo found he had no stomach for it at the moment.

"Save it, Quark. I have Aleram Kass in a cell, trying to recover from the bad ale he says you gave him."

"I did no such thing!" The Ferengi's zeal might have been convincing if it were not so amusing. "I stand behind everything served at Quark's. It is tested to assure only the bes-"

"Enough, Quark!" Odo's lost his patience. "Just bring the man something that will shut him up. Now!"

Quark nodded sullenly and cut the commlink.

Odo stabbed a finger against his console for good measure and snorted, "Ferengi's!" He caught himself smiling and stopped immediately.

The shuttle ride to Bajor was uneventful, although the number of people that did a double take in their direction got a little ridiculous after a while. But then again, she was a known figure, and to see someone so obviously related to her must have been a novelty, especially since Tala was wearing a uniform very similar in style and exactly the same in color. It had been a gift from the Bajoran government, and bore the status of Diplomat.

After the first few times, Kira learned to just smile and nod. Tala, on the other hand, was enjoying the attention. She was very proud of the status her sister had attained as a war hero. The unabashed admiration that Nerys received was long overdue. At least she thought so, her sister had always been her hero.

When they landed, Nerys took her hand, pointing out aspects of the docking area. "These were built 3 years ago. It was one of the first things we did after the discovery of the wormhole. Since then, we have had thousands of traders from hundreds of different worlds dock here. They're the pride of the Trade Commission."

"I can see why," Tala looked around in wonder. The last time she had seen her world, it had been decimated. She hoped that the wondrous and beautiful buildings that surrounded her were indicative of the steps that had been made in other areas as well. "How does Kai Opaka like the changes? All the people that are coming to our once introverted world?"

Kira looked at the ground. A tear forming in the corner of her eyes. "The Prophets called for Kai Opaka. Vedek Winn is now the Kai."

Tala's eyes took on a sad, faraway look. "I've missed so much…"

Kira hugged her close. "Don't worry, ti'san, I will tell you everything that has happened to our world in the last 9 years."

"Ti'san?" Tala's face broke into a sweet, childlike smile. "'Little one'….you used to call me that all the time. I've missed it."

"Me too." She ruffled her sisters short hair affectionately. "Come on. There is a lot more to see."

They walked every street in the Capitol, stopping at this shop or that bakery, sampling the hasperat and sweet teas as they went. When they reached the outskirts of the city, Kira turned back. Tala stopped her, pulling on the hand that she had been holding

"I'd like to see the farmlands of D'Kor. It's been a long time. I'd like to see our land, 'Rys."

Kira shook her head. "I don't think that would be wise right now. A lot of D'Kor province is still under renovation. The farmlands in particular were hit very hard by the Cardassians." She looked off towards the hills. "They were looking for my resistance cell. They wanted us dead, very badly. Seems that we gave the people too much hope. The destroyed our family lands in an attempt to flush us out, to make us, in our anger, try for a larger target than we could really handle. It never worked, but our lands were still devastated. It will take the soil reclaimators at least another year to undo the enough of the damage for even weeds to grow. It is a very toxic place right now, Tala. I'm sorry."

Tala smiled, sadly. "I understand. I guess I was just…homesick." She reached over and plucked a flower from a nearby bush.

"I have a holosuite program of Nerys Lake. I'll take you there when we get back to the station."

"No Talas Pond, hmm?" She elbowed her older sister playfully, holding the flower up in front of her for a moment, before slipping it into the small pack she wore.

"That swamp?" Kira wrinkled her nose, then smiled. "Of course I have a program of Talas Pond. It just….hurt too much to use it. We'll go there, too."

"Good. I would like to see it again. Now," She raised her eyebrows. "What is this I hear about you and the First Minister of Bajor?"

"Who told you?" Kira laughed. "Let me guess…Dax!"

"It's a small station, 'Rys. You would be amazed at the amount of gossip about you that one can hear just standing on the promenade."

"Gossip?" Her eyes widened. "I don't think I like the sound of that. What kind of gossip?"

"I wouldn't even know where to begin, so let's start with this Shakaar person. You were with his cell when we were rescued from Nan'Tekk, right? Has this been a long term kind of thing?"

"No. We have been friends for a long time, but we just recently became romantically involved."

"Is it serious?" Tala wondered if her sister had missed all of the gossip that had been circulating about her. Well, about her and a certain security officer on the station. But then, her sister hadn't brought him up.

"I'd like to think so…." Kira said thoughtfully. She brightened, "Would you like to meet him?"

"The First Minister? Don't you think he would be just a little too busy to meet your kid sister?"

"No, I don't think so. He has always told me to come anytime I need him. He should be in session for another half an hour. Plenty of time for us to reach the Hall of Ministers. Let's go!" She grabbed Tala's hand and began to walk quickly back towards the center of town. Tala laughed and allowed herself to be pulled along.

When they reached their destination, Tala was once again amazed at the hard work and planning that had gone into the new buildings. The Hall of Ministers was as beautiful as it was functional. The front entry way consisted of two columns meeting in an arch over a gorgeous red wood door, that would easily accommodate four people entering at once. The building seemed to be made of flawlessly seamed white marble. She had to look very closely to see where the stones met to make up the walls. The ceiling was an enormous glass dome and the Sign of the Prophets was inlaid in golden relief against a deep blue sky. All around the circular hall, there were doors, made of the same red wood as the entranceway. Each of them led to a different chamber hall. The last set of five seemed to lead to the same enormous chamber. "The Hall Of Ministers?" She whispered in awe.

"Yes." Kira said proudly. "This building is the basis for a new Bajor. One of commerce and prosperity. What do you think?" She smiled at her little sister.

"I think it's wonderful." She had just begun to expound on that sentiment when a very official looking man came across the lobby and joined them.

"Hello." He said cordially. "I am Denais Lenar, The First Minister's Adjetant."

"His Adjetant?" Kira looked surprised. "Where's Silas?"

Denais lowered his eyes in respect. "I am sorry no one has informed you, Major. Adjetant Silas was killed in a shuttle accident yesterday. I am his replacement."

Kira thought of the quiet, honorable man who had accompanied Shakaar to the station just a few short months ago. She had liked him. "I am sorry to hear that. I wish you well in the position."

"Thank you, Major." He smiled, a smile that Kira was not that comfortable with. "I have worked hard for it." He waved his hand towards a door. "The First Minister has been informed that you have arrived and he is looking forward to meeting with you. If you would like to wait for him in the antechamber, you can watch him as he finishes his speech, then he will meet you there."

"Thank you, Denais." They entered the room, closing the door behind them.

"He was….wrong, somehow." Tala whispered quietly.

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know. Just a feeling." She smiled brightly. "It's gone now. C'mon, show me this wonderful man of yours."

Kira smiled back and led her to the observation window. She pointed down towards the stage and Tala's heart stopped beating when she saw the man standing there. She took a sharp breath that hurt her lungs and sat heavily in one of the chairs behind them.

"What's wrong?" Kira's concern showed on her face. "Tala, are you okay? What's wrong?"

"Noth-Nothing." Her breathing had yet to return to normal. "I just had an attack….of some sort." She looked away from her sister's searching eyes. "I'll be fine. But we should go. I can't meet him….I mean, I can't meet him like this. I think we should go." As she finished her sentence, a loud round of applause came up from the room below them. His speech done, Shakaar headed out of the Hall. "Please, Nerys, let's go." Tala was close to begging and Kira looked at her in alarm. Before she could answer, the door to the antechamber opened and Shakaar stepped through. He smiled at Kira, a smile that quickly froze when he saw the woman sitting behind her. His eyes grew distant for a moment and then cleared as he approached them. "Is she okay? Who is this, Nerys?"

Kira took his arm and led him to the far corner of the room. "It's Tala, Edon. I told you about her this morning….on subspace, remember?"

"I remember. I'm sorry. I just wasn't prepared…." He noticed Kira's questioning look and cleared his throat. "I just wasn't prepared for her to look so much like you, that's all. Is she all right?"

Kira relaxed, wondering why she had sensed some sort of danger in his remark. "I think she'll be okay. She wants to leave though. At this point I think that would be best." She glanced at the chronometer she had strapped to her wrist before they left. "It's getting late, anyway. We spent too much time touring the city. We have to get back for the briefing."

Shakaar nodded quietly. "I'd like to send Denais to sit in, if you think Captain Sisko wouldn't object. I'd love to come myself but," He glanced at Tala, who was staring at him with an intensity that made him nervous. "I have a negotiation with the delegation from Risa to attend."

Kira nodded. "He can fly back with us, if he wants." She gave him a quick kiss. "Remember me when the Risans are here…"

Shakaar smiled. "I'll do that. But I think they'll be too busy talking about exportation rights to Bajor to do much else." He nodded at Tala. "Good to meet you." He turned and left without another word.

Kira stared after him for a moment and then turned back to her sister. "Can you walk or should I call for a transport?"

The younger Bajoran stood, slowly adjusting her clothing. "I can walk. I'm sorry, 'Rys. I don't know what happened."

Kira's concern turned into a much different emotion…surprise. She was positive her sister was lying, but for the life of her she couldn't figure out why. "Okay," She decided to let it rest for the time being. "Let's head back, I don't want to be late." She smiled. "That's Dax's job."

"What is?"

"Being late…" She laughed at her sister's confused look. "I'll tell you all about it on the way back."

"Is she the one?" Denais had entered the room so quietly that Shakaar had never even heard him.

"Yes." He sighed. "She is the one. They are the ones."

"What do you propose we do about it?" Denais sat in a chair across from him. "There is much at stake here."

"I know. But I have done much for Bajor. Perhaps they will understand. Perhaps it is time…for the truth to come out." He lowered his head into his hands. "I have lived with it much too long on my own."

"With all due respect, First Minister," He laid his hand on Shakaar's shoulder. "You have done much for Bajor, but I do not think they will forgive you for what you had to do. If you would permit me, Sir, I could….take care of it."

Shakaar looked at him, suspicion showing plainly in his eyes. "Just how do you propose to 'Take care of it'?"

"It isn't something that could ever be linked to you, Sir." He knelt down so that they could be eye to eye. "Your work for Bajor is not yet done, First Minister. This world, these people…they need you. But what happened during the occupation, your actions, might prove to be something they could never understand. I understand. My father was the first member of your resistance cell. He adored you. He knew how much you sacrificed for Bajor, what you went through. But if I hadn't had him to teach me the truth, I wouldn't understand it either."

Shakaar rubbed his hand over his tried eyes. "I need to think about this. For now, meet Kira and her sister at the dock, before they begin to wonder…about anything." He stood and moved in closer to the Adjetant. "I don't want them hurt, Denais. I will be holding you responsible for their well being. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly, Sir." He bowed slightly and left the room.

Shakaar watched him go, a dark fear gripping him around his heart.


Chapter 4-Explanations

Odo wandered around the Ward Room, checking the table, chairs and decor for any sign of uninvited guests. He was rather surprised when he found none. Then again, he thought, what use could this information really be to Quark?

He had renewed his efforts, doing one final sweep of the room before the briefing began, when Captain Sisko entered.

"Find anything, Constable?" His lazy smile played across his face.

"No, Captain." He slid the tricorder onto the table. "The room appears to be free of any kind of monitoring device. I would say we are ready to start."

Sisko laughed quietly. "We might be, but the Major and her sister are clearly not."

"Is something wrong?" Odo's head swung around quickly.

"No." Sisko studied the Changelings face. "Their shuttle is just running a little bit late. They should be joining us shortly. They are bringing the First Minister's Adjetant with them, I approved it." He raised his hand to Odo's objections. "I know you didn't have an opportunity to screen the man, but he is Shakaar's personal assistant. I think we will let it pass this time." Odo sighed audibly and Sisko's concern resurfaced. "Are you all right, Constable? You seem to be a bit…..out of sorts today."

Odo looked at him in surprise. "No, Captain. I'm fine. My mind is just on the conference."

"Ah." Sisko didn't quite believe him, but he wouldn't berate the man. "I was going to go ahead and call the senior staff in. Give Dax a few extra minutes." He winked at Odo. "Is everything ready?" At Odo's curt nod, he hailed his staff.

Kira and Tala were waiting by the airlock for the shuttle to finish docking. As soon as the door slid open, they exited and headed directly for the Ward room. As they rounded a corner into a main corridor, Kira nearly tripped over a pair of legs that were sticking out of a conduit. She bent down and peered inside, trying to make out the identity of the person she would soon be yelling at. O'Briens yellow shouldered uniform appeared, quickly followed by his smiling face.

"I'm sorry, Major." He moved towards a toolbox which was on the ground a few feet away. Selecting another implement, he returned to his former position. "I was hoping I could finish this before anyone came down here.

"What exactly are you doing, Chief?" She ducked down to stick her head in, waving at her sister to wait for a moment.

"It turns out that the replicator problem the Captain asked me to track down was not caused by a flux in the system. The actual program had been deleted and the new one placed in its stead. I found the delete traces of the original, but I was having trouble tracking down the origination of the new program. I thought the conduit might contain traces of a coding device, and I was right." He held up a PADD. "Our culprit used a class four terminal interface to access the stations systems. All I have to do now, is run this information through the computer and I should get the log on sequence."

Kira's head was spinning. "Meaning what?"

O'Brien smiled. "Meaning I'm about one step away from giving you some butt to kick, Major."

Kira smiled. A smile that the Chief was grateful to not have aimed at him. "Let me know as soon as you have a name. Thanks, Chief." She pulled herself up, and was gone before he could say 'You're Welcome'.

With a grin, he sealed up the conduit and headed to Ops. He already felt sorry for the owner of the name he came up with.

There were only three seats vacant when they reached their destination. Sisko, Bashir, Odo, Worf, and Denais were already present. Tala gave the Bajoran an odd look. He must have run to beat them there. Kira took her seat across from the Constable and Tala took what she presumed to be hers, at the head of the table. The one empty seat was across from the Captain, who stared at it, an amused smile on his face until the door slid open and Dax entered, straightening her uniform as she went. She opened her mouth to speak as she slid into the chair, but the Captain merely rolled his eyes and shook his head. Tala and Kira laughed out loud, causing a lovely red flush to creep up Jadzia's cheekbones, and turning her spots a few shades darker.

"Well," Sisko stood. "Now that we are all accounted for," He threw a meaningful glance at his science officer. "You may begin when you are ready, Talas."

Tala glanced around the table, taking in each persons face and place so that she would know who to address when the questions came. As her gaze passed over Odo, she was slightly surprised to find she did not have his attention. He was glancing to the side, staring at her sister. When he finally turned his head back towards her, he started slightly to see that she had been observing him. With a small cough, he looked away.

"Well," She tried to quell her restless nerves. "I guess the best thing to do would be to begin at the beginning." She glanced at Kira and Dax, who both gave her encouraging looks. "Thirteen years ago, I was captured in a food raid and taken, along with my lover, Renaya Zenece, to the Nan'Tekk mining facility. I was 16 at the time. I-uh, we remained there for four years, until the resistance, led by the Shakaar resistance cell, freed us." She tried not to shudder at the mention of his name, but she knew she had failed when Jadzia's questioning eyes met hers. She was grateful that her sisters gaze had not been on her at that moment, but rather, on the Changeling. She wondered briefly if he was the friend she had mentioned earlier. "We were placed aboard the Nakota to be shipped off-world, to Lueseppia, where they were sympathetic to our situation."

She took a drink of water and Dax noticed her hand shaking. "We were ambushed before we even left Bajoran space. A Galor class warship hit us with three phaser blasts at close range. The first two knocked our engines and life support off line. The third knocked us out of orbit, sending us spinning and killing 346 people before the ship came to a halt. By the time our engineers got crucial systems back online, another 42 people had died of smoke inhalation, suffocation and other various wounds. But the Cardassians were gone. And not just the Cardassians. Everything was gone. The stars we knew, Bajor, everything. Our navigational array had been hit hard in the initial skirmish and we were only able to take a brief reading before it shut down all together. We were alone, in unknown space, with nothing but life support and impulse engines." She looked around the table, feeling the support from the people listening, she continued. "We were able to restore some replicator systems, enough to sustain the people we had left, and the things we couldn't replicate, we were able to trade for. We salvaged all unnecessary parts from the ship, trading with races we could not even understand, to get the things we needed to survive. We limped along at impulse, and then half impulse, and finally, one quarter impulse until we realized that our dilithium would not last much longer. So, a year and a half later, when we came across an uninhabited, but life supporting moon, we settled. The ship was shut down entirely, in the hopes of saving whatever power was left until the day came when we would know how to get home."

She stopped, allowing them a moment to stretch and breath, since it seemed that several of them had not been doing so for some time. She again noticed an exchange between Kira and Odo, each of them looking when the other was not. She shook her head to clear it and continued. "For the first three years, we devoted all of our time to the ship. We still had hope then. Every capable person spent every waking hour working on the Nakota. The people who had no experience in this area were put to work on simpler tasks, including collecting food and scouting for material that we could use. I was directly responsible for the most important work, the work done on the navigational array. In the end, when there was nothing more that we could do, the ship was still not space worthy, and without navigational abilities. Too many of the essential systems had been damaged. We were stuck there." She smiled at her sister. "It wasn't until then that we even named our little moon. We called it Missak. A name very dear to my heart as it was the nickname my father gave to my sister. It is Bajoran, meaning 'Song of my heart', and it was a very fitting name. It took us three years to realize what a perfect place we were occupying. The water was fresh and clean, the plants, although varying in color and texture, were almost all edible, and there was a distinct lack of any seriously adversarial creatures. It was, in fact, a beautiful place. Once we accepted it as our home, we went about making it one. We built a town, with all of the amenities we could manage. Many of us settled in the fertile valley, planting crops and raising children. We have, at last count, seventeen children that were born on Missak. And it came to symbolize what Bajor must have been like before the Cardassians invaded, something that none of us had ever known. It was peaceful, and the bonds that were forged will last a lifetime." She hung her head slightly. "I had somehow been elected as a kind of mediator for the town. People came to me with their problems, their disputes and accepted my judgment as final. Many said they felt a strength in my Pagh. For whatever reason, they chose me to lead them. And so I led them through the next three years of peace and good fortune."

Tala left her chair and began to pace the area behind it. "Late in our seventh year away from home, another ship crashed on our moon. They were from a race that called themselves the Karemma. Their ship had suffered a severe internal fire, which left both crewman mortally wounded and left us nothing to do for them but make them comfortable until they died. They went through brief periods of lucidity, and during these periods they told us a remarkable story. A story about something that they called 'the rift', which was a great rip in space. It took us quite a while to understand everything that they were telling us as their translators had been damaged in the fire, but they persisted none the less. They told us all about a planet on the other side of this rift, a planet of people who looked like us. And they told us of a Fleet of Stars that had come to help drive the oppressors out. A fleet called the Federation. We were astounded, not only to hear how far we were from our home, but to be told, after all this time, how to get back. The last wish of the dying men was that we use their ship in any way we could to help get us home. We were lucky. Their ship had only been damaged internally, leaving the power source and most parts we needed unscathed. It took us a year to retrofit their equipment into the Nakota We still had only impulse engines, but we had something else that made all the difference in the world, we had a navigational chart that showed us the way. We drew ballots for the thirty volunteers that would be allowed to go. We took only enough people to man the essential stations, not wanting to risk any more than necessary should the trip not end well. I went as their Captain, a decision of mine that they could not sway. The return trip took us six months It was a journey that would have taken 20 hours at warp 4, but we were still ecstatic that it was less than the time we wasted going in circles to get to our beloved Missak." She looked around, aware that every eye was still on her. She cleared her throat, "So here we are…"

Captain Sisko was the first one to speak. "Where did the fourth phaser blast come from?"

"Oh," Tala explained, "In our search to find a habitable planet on which to do our repairs, we came close to one that had no star system. When we tried to investigate, a ship appeared and fired on us. I took it to be a warning as they did not follow when we changed course. They had to know we were no threat as our weapons were noticeably damaged."

Odo nodded. "A warning is exactly what it was."

"What about Zenece?" Kira asked. "You said she died in a farming accident?"

"Yes," Tala spoke slowly, unhealed anguish in her voice. "I would prefer not to talk about that here, Nerys."

Kira nodded, berating herself for the careless question. She glanced at Dax, and was touched to see tears in her friends eyes.

"What is the medical state of the people on Missak?" Julian asked.

"They need help." She answered matter of factly. "We have been nine years without a real doctor present. We have found some plants with medicinal properties, but those who have been seriously hurt usually end up crippled or dead." She swallowed. "The children are the most susceptible to disease, and it has been a trial not to lose any of them."

Bashir turned to the Captain. "Sir, I think it would be a good idea to send a medical team to Missak immediately. 20 hours isn't very far. I would like to volunteer."

"Me too." Kira spoke up. "These are my people, I would like to welcome them home."

Sisko nodded at both of them. "All right." He glanced at Tala. "Could you show us the way? Your men are welcome to stay here for as long as they like. They won't all fit on the runabout anyway." At Tala's nod he continued, "All right then, you leave at 0600 hours tomorrow. Major, Doctor, take anything you think you might need. We will expect you back in five days with a complete report on the situation there." He turned to the youngest Kira. "Thank you, Kira Talas, for bringing your people home." The words were said in his much practiced Bajoran and Tala smiled.

"You are welcome, Emissary." She bowed slightly.

"Then I leave you all to your individual plans. Dismissed." He smiled warmly at his senior officers. "Now if you don't mind, I have a baseball game to attend with my son."

"Who's playing?" Dax asked.

"The Mets and the Cubs."

"I'll take the Cubbies for a bottle of Tarian Ale."

"Tarian Ale is illegal." Sisko smiled. "You're on."

As everyone stood to leave, Kira moved to talk to Odo. He listened to her instructions and then turned without a word. Tala saw her sister sigh as she sat back down. The only people left at the table were Bashir, Dax and the two of them. Denais had left quickly, saying his good-byes before leaving to catch the last shuttle to Bajor. He had listened attentively, but asked no questions.

"I would prefer not to go with you, if that is all right, Nerys. I would like some time here, to get to know my world again." She glanced at Jadzia as she spoke and was glad to see the beautiful woman smiling. "I can show you exactly where you need to go by downloading the Nakota's flight recorder into your runabout. Is that okay with you?"

Kira nodded. "I would have liked to spend the time with you, but I understand."

Dax stood to leave. "Well, I guess I should be going. The three of you need to prepare."

Tala jumped up and moved to block her way. "Are we still on for tonight?"

"Of course. Where and when?"

The Bajoran took in the Trill's lazy, sensual smile and felt her heart skip a beat. "To-tonight, 2100 hours….at Quarks."

"I'll be there."

Tala watched as the statuesque woman left the room, oblivious to the knowing chuckles from the table behind her.

"Congratulations." Julian laughed. "You are having more luck than I ever did."

Tala had the good grace to blush, seeing as how her thoughts had to be written quite plainly on her face. She grinned at the two of them. "Well, it looks like I have a date, so let's get this thing planned. I wouldn't want to keep her waiting."

Denais passed the airlock that led to the last shuttle to Bajor. He had no intention of leaving the station, not yet anyway. He made his way to the habitat ring and let himself into a darkened room. "Why are you sitting in the dark?"

A figure spoke from where it was sitting on the couch. "Just thinking. I am not very happy about why I am here."

"Would you be happier if the First Minister let himself be dragged out of office and stoned in the street like a dog? He is a good man, but he is still forcing himself to pay for the sins of the past. Bajor needs him, more than he knows. This woman, Talas, and her sister, they have the ability to tear apart everything that we have worked for. They have the power to destroy the greatest man our world has ever known. I cannot let that happen…can you?"

"No." The man sighed and called for the lights. "What are we going to do?"

"You are going to stay here. Keep a low profile and keep your eyes open. Major Kira has a lot of friends here and on Bajor. I need to know if there are any developments. I won't be needing your particular services unless the situation becomes desperate."

The man grunted in frustration. "That may not be easy. I am well known here on the station. I've been here for years. Not to mention the trouble that vile Ferengi caused me. I'd be surprised if Odo wasn't watching me constantly."

"The Security chief has better things to do than watch a drunk." He waved away the man's look of indignation. "Stay out of the bar, you have just been recalled into active duty."

"All right." He shook his head. "And I thought all of this kind of work would end once the Cardassians were gone. I have to admit, I kind of liked retirement." He turned his attention back to Denais. "What will you be doing?"

"I have a transport to catch." He smiled at the man's confused look. "The two of them will be taking a trip tomorrow. They will not be coming back."

Kira, Tala, and Bashir had just finished when the door to the Ward Room slid open and Chief O'Brien stepped in. "I'm sorry, I thought the briefing might be still going on. I was looking for Odo." He held up the PADD. "I have your name, Major."

Kira took the PADD out of his hand and smiled as she read its contents. "Thank you, Chief. This is very useful."

"Your welcome," He grinned and reached for it back. "I'll take it down to the Constable."

"No!" Kira stopped him. "Let me handle this, Chief. I'll take care of it."

O'Brien looked undecided for a moment, then let his hand drop. He stepped aside to allow the Major room to leave. Once she was gone, he turned to the other two and shook his head. "She scares me more than he does."

Tala and Bashir looked at each other for a moment, and then burst into laughter.

2130 hours.

Tala looked at her watch again and smiled. "Well, at least she's consistent."

"Are you sure I can't get you….anything?" Quark asked for the fifth time. He had been hovering over her since she had arrived 30 minutes earlier. She had thought a seat at the bar would have been the best place for the Commander to see her, but now she was having doubts. But then, she could only blame herself. She had chosen her outfit for Jadzia's benefit, not realizing the affect it would have on the Ferengi. It was a short dress, that hung off of her shoulders and down low over her breasts. It was in two pieces, the top came down to just below her midriff and was held up by two, thin strips of fabric, the skirt ended about 5 inches above her knee. They were both a shimmering pearl white that stood out against her tanned skin. The fabric was soft and shifted deliciously over her body, which was naked beneath. The shopkeeper, Garak-an odd little Cardassian, had told her it was Trillian silk, and as such, should be worn directly on the skin. She hadn't trusted him at first, but now she was glad she had listened. Every time she moved, it caressed her body, bringing a sensual smile to her lips.

Unfortunately, the outfit brought a smile to Quark's lips as well. She had just finished fending of Quark's sixth attempt when the noise in the Bar dropped down to a whisper. She looked up and her heart caught in her throat.

Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax stood in the doorway. Her hair was loose, hanging over her shoulders in long, soft-looking tendrils that almost matched her markings in color. And her markings were definitely showing. Her dress, which resembled a slip more than it did a gown, was held up by a collar that disappeared into nothing as it reached her shoulders. It was black leather, and came down in a triangle to cover her breasts, tightening as it reached her waist and hips. It came down about as far as Tala's skirt did and looked as though it had been painted on, sending the Bajoran into intense imaginings of the entire dressing process. She still hadn't managed to collect her jaw from the floor when Jadzia slipped onto a stool beside her.

"Well," She laughed. "Do I need to ask if you like it?"

Tala shook her head. Swallowing, she croaked, "Very nice. How about mine?"

Dax ran one finger along the lowered neckline of her dress. "It feels like Trillian silk." She leaned in closer and whispered, "If it is, then you should know that I adore Trillian silk."

"Oh, good." Tala managed to breathe. "Shall we eat? I reserved a holosuite.." Dax's eyebrows shot up and Tala rushed to finish. "For dinner. Quark had quite a few programs suitable for dining. I chose one listed as a 'moonlit dinner for two'." She smiled. "The food is real, at least I hope it's real."

They made their way up to the second floor and entered the holosuite followed by several appreciative stares and a lot of wild speculation. Quark slapped his forehead, berating himself for not setting up a holocorder before they locked the door.

Once inside, Dax looked at Tala expectantly.

"Computer," The Bajoran called. "Run program Moonlit 5c."

The yellow gridlines immediately vanished, replaced by a gorgeous white beach, complete with purple ocean. The moon was directly overhead and shone down on a table adorned with white linen and silver place settings. There were several Bajoran foods already present on the table and Tala set another dish down beside them. It took her a moment to realize what it was.

"That's a Jen'Fret!" Dax ran her finger over the top of the golden cake and slipped it into her mouth. Her eyes closed in appreciation. "And it's good! Where did you find a replicator program for a Jen'Fret?"

"It isn't a replicator program." She smiled at the Trill's confusion. "I talked Captain Sisko out of the last inning of his baseball game to let me use his cooking utensils. Finding a record of a Trillian desert was quite easy, making it was the hard part."

Dax looked into her eyes. "Thank you, Talas. It was very sweet of you."

The moment seemed like an eternity as she studied Jadzia's liquid blue eyes. She thought she could see forever there. At least she hoped she could.

Quark was cleaning glasses when Kira entered the bar. She placed a PADD nonchalantly onto the counter. "Give me a synthale, Quark."

"Of course, Major." The Ferengi brought her the drink and watched as she took a long, satisfying swallow. "So what are you celebrating? You only drink when you're celebrating something."

"You know me so well, Quark." She tried not to shudder when the Ferengi rubbed his ear suggestively. "I think I know you pretty well, too. Wouldn't you say?"

Quark nodded, too interested in the Major's smile to notice the danger in her words.

"For example," Kira continued. "I know that you have spent a lot of time with Odo lately. Rather odd for someone who treats him like an enemy."

"I don't have any enemies, Major. I am an upstanding member of this community and I help the Constable whenever I can."

Kira was amazed that he could make it through that little speech with a straight face. "C'mon, Quark." She pressed. "Admit it! You care about him."

Quark waved his hand as though to clear the question from the air. "What is it you're looking for, Major?"

"Information. I understand you pride yourself on the information you can get. This is information, I believe, you already have."

"And what information would that be?" He leaned in closer, studying her features.

"Odo told me he was in love once. Who was she, and what happened?"

Quark stared at her for a moment and then straightened. He picked up his rag and resumed polishing his glasses. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Quark.." Kira growled.

"Really, Major. Why should you know who she was when she doesn't even know who she was."

Kira's eyes went wide. "He never told her? But…he said she broke his heart."

Quark shook his head. "That's all I have to say about it, Major. Call me if you want another drink." He began to walk away but Kira grabbed his arm.

"Been busy the past couple of days, haven't you, Quark?" She picked up the PADD and began to read from it. "You placed orders for twice you regular amount of synthale and other liquors, twice the normal amount of garnishments, and you hired 4 new Dabo girls. My, my, Quark. Looks like you were expecting quite an upswing in business."

"It's hardly a crime to take advantage of an outbreak of insomnia, Major."

"No, it's not a crime. But tampering with station systems is. All of these orders were placed before the outbreak occurred. Now, I wonder how you knew to lay in all these extra stores…"

"That doesn't prove a thing-"

"No, it doesn't." Kira's voiced dropped. "But your log on code does. Chief O'Brien traced it back to you. You're in a lot of trouble Quark." She smiled at him. "Unless…"

"You're blackmailing me!" Quarks indignation (or appreciation-it was so hard to tell with Ferengis) was apparent. "You Bajorans! So upstanding…until you need something!"

Kira let the remark pass and watched him expectantly. Finally, he sighed. "I can't tell you, Major. I'm sorry."

Kira's jaw dropped. Maybe Dax had been right after all. She threw the PADD on the bar and lowered her head into her hands. Quark moved off to wait on a table, watching her as he went. This went on for about fifteen minutes, until he threw his hands up in frustration and rejoined her at the bar.

"You want to know what happened? Fine. But I'm telling you this because I think maybe it's time you knew, not because of whatever is on your PADD." He smiled. "If you should, however, want to leave the PADD when you go, that would be okay too."


"All right!" He looked around and then dropped his voice to barely a whisper. "She did break his heart. In the worst possible way."

"How's that?"

"By dismissing him from even being a possibility." Quark gave her what he hoped was a meaningful look.

"You mean she didn't even notice him?" She shook her head. "How awful."

"It's worse. She worked with him, spent time with him. They even became friends, and she never even bothered to look below the surface of the things he did for her, the things he shared with her that he had never shared with another person."

"She sounds pretty dense." Kira observed, taking a drink of her synthale.

"My thoughts exactly. But then, she never did have very good luck with men."

"Humph. That's no excuse. Poor Odo."

"I always say, business and pleasure don't mix. He should have listened to me. This station is just too small for that kind of thing."

Kira's head shot up. "It happened on the station? Quark, that isn't possible. I was the first friend he had on the sta-" Her eyes went wide.

Quark watched with a certain amount of satisfaction as a million different things clicked into place in her mind. Recognition sped over her features as she remembered every word, every look that Odo had given her, evaluating them for a hidden meaning and always coming out the same. She remembered his face the morning he had canceled their Tuesdays morning meetings, and before that, his complete and utter loss for words at her news that she and Shakaar were lovers. She looked at Quark and felt even more like a fool that he had known about it before she had. She slipped off of the stool and left the bar without a word.

Her steps were slow and forced as she headed across the Promenade. She knew where she was going, and rehearsed what she would say over and over in her mind as she came to a stop outside of the security office. The doors were closed, but she could see Odo through one of the windows, sitting at his desk, staring out into space. The fingers of his left hand played over a shiny metal disc, and she realized with a start that it was the Constable's badge she had given him a few months before Shakaar's visit to the station. She had found it in an antique store that one of her friends was running in D'Kor province. It was 19th century Human, from a time period listed as 'The Old West'. It had cost her quite a bit, but she had to get it for him.

She had to get it for him.

She examined that statement in her mind and wondered at the pounding in her chest. She realized that what she was doing could aptly be termed as 'peeking' into his window. The thought of being caught at such an activity caused her to take a few steps backwards until she was standing to the left of the door instead of directly in front of it. Her head was beginning to hurt and her hair was falling into her eyes. She brushed it back with a loud curse that caused the patrons at a nearby restaurant to look at her curiously. With an embarrassed flush, she turned to the door panel. "Computer," She said softly. "Five seconds from my mark, open the door. Once I have entered, seal door with a level one privacy shield. Override security authorization Kira-Omega-Gamma-One. She positioned herself in front of the door and took a deep breath.

Odo looked up as his door slid open. "Is something wrong, Major?"

"Why do you ask?" Kira looked around, distracted. She did notice that the badge had disappeared.

"You overrode my security lock." He stared at her in concern. "Is something wrong?"

"Yes," She turned to him decidedly. "There is something wrong." At that moment she was caught by his sky blue eyes. They were beautiful, and so cautious. "Why don't you ever call me Nerys?"

The surprise on his face would have been funny if it were anyone else. "I beg your pardon?"

"Why don't you ever call me Nerys?" She moved towards him, noticing that Odo unconsciously slid his chair a few inches backwards. "I mean, come on, Odo. We've been friends for four years, we've shared things that I can honestly say I have never shared with anyone else. I'm pretty sure it's the same for you. Through all of that you have always called me Major. Why?"

"Well," Odo grunted, as though in disbelief. "You are my superior officer."

Kira shook her head. "Not good enough, Constable." Her lips quirked up into a smile. "That's another thing. At one time or another, you've told everyone on this station not to call you 'Constable'. Everyone except me. Why?"

He looked at her, opening and closing his mouth in several attempts to say something...anything! But he had no clue what to say to diffuse the situation he knew was coming. "I....I don't know...."

"Odo," Her voice was barely a whisper as she moved a few feet closer. She studied his face quietly, recognizing so many things that she had seen before and never tried to understand. Prophets, she said to herself, it's painted on his face. How blind am I? One lonely tear trailed down her cheek as she finished the thought.

"Major?" Odo's voice held much of the concern that she had missed these last couple of months. She felt an unfamiliar pain grip her heart. Unfamiliar in regards to Odo, anyway.

She came around the desk and sat on the edge, as close as she thought she could get without having him bolt from the room. She found herself mesmerized by the smooth planes of his face and the bottomless depths of his eyes. They were a clear, delightful blue, lighter than Dax's and much more vulnerable.

She was surprised to see her hands reach out and gently touch his face. Her eyes lingered on his mouth as his lips parted to speak.

"I wonder…" She left the sentence hanging as she brought her lips to his. His mouth was warm and soft, his lips full and inviting. When she opened her mouth, his tongue flickered out, playing with hers as his hands slid up her back. As she hung her arms around his neck, she felt him begin to shift. His hands and arms melted, forming a warm blanket that cascaded down her shoulders and ended right above her buttocks. Everywhere he touched, everywhere she felt his liquid warmth, there was the sensation of her nerve endings singing. An intense pleasure caused by what felt like thousands of tiny pulses being transmitted through his 'skin' After a few moments, she was gasping, trying to catch her breath as her body responded more powerfully than she was prepared to handle. "Odo…" She whispered. "Stop…please..."

He immediately released her, leaving her aching and cold when she had just been so warm. He studied her intently as she pulled herself together.

"That…that…was a kiss?" She gasped, trying to lighten the mood.

"I don't know. I've never done it before." He turned away.

Kira quickly crossed the space between them and kissed him again, this time gently, feeling the moist depths of his mouth with her tongue. She could feel his body through her clothing. She could almost sense it wanting to change shape, wanting to touch her, to fill her with its warmth. The image and the thoughts that followed caused her body to shudder in Odo's arms. When the kiss finally ended, she laid her head against his chest and sighed. "I came here to tell you that it didn't have to affect our friendship. But I was wrong." She ran her hand down his chest, watching as he closed his eyes in pleasure at the contact. "I wasn't prepared for this Odo. I wasn't prepared to feel this way."

"What way?" He asked hopefully.

"Odo," She breathed. "The way you just made me feel…the way I still feel, is indescribable. It would seem that I have a lot to think about." She pulled herself out of his arms. "It would seem that I have a decision to make." He watched her as she paced around the room. "You know I'll be gone for five days. Can you give me that time, Odo?

Odo laughed. "I've given you four years, Major. What's five more days?"

She moved back into his arms and kissed him one last time before she left his office. He melted into a puddle the moment the door closed behind her.

"So," Tala counted off on her fingers. "Lela was you first host-she was a politician, Tobin was your second, Emoni was your third-she was the gymnast, then Audrid, then Torius-the pilot, Joran was the composer, and Curzon was the diplomat." She shook her head in wonder.

"That's right," Dax slipped the last of the Jen'Fret into her mouth, savoring the taste before she pushed the empty plate away. "And then there was me, the science officer."

"How incredible. It must be wonderful to have seven lifetimes full of memories," Her voice and eyes dropped slightly. "Instead of just one, filled with nightmares."

Dax looked at the younger woman with concern. These little spells of depression seemed to be quite a regular occurrence with her. She had seen three such instances tonight alone. Something was very obviously on her mind, and it was not something she was comfortable with. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Tala looked at her for a long moment and then smiled. "No, I'll be okay. Just a lot going on in my life right now. I honestly never thought I would see my home again. And here I am…with you. I am happy about that. Very happy. There are just some things that are going to take some getting used to."

Jadzia reached over and took her hand. "If there is one thing that having seven lifetimes has taught me, Tala, it's that some memories just aren't worth holding onto. I'll be here for you whenever you need to talk."

Tala's eyes misted up as she looked at the beautiful Trill. "Thank you." She squeezed her hand. "Until then…"

She rose from her seat and grabbed the last bottle of wine, pulling Jadzia along behind her. They had already taken off their shoes and the sand felt glorious beneath their feet as they walked, hand in hand, down to the water. The waves lapped gently up on the sand, leaving a faint purple foam as they receded and Jadzia laughed as the coolness enveloped her feet.

"I forgot to thank you for the water." She put her arm around the Bajoran, knowing that the cool air was an important part of the program, for romantic purposes anyway. "It has been a long time since I saw the oceans of Trill, this makes me a little less homesick."

Tala leaned into Jadzia as they walked, enjoying the warmth of their bodies together. She noticed absently that Jadzia's hands were warm as well. "I didn't think Starfleet officers ever got homesick."

Jadzia chuckled. "Of course we do. We're just better at hiding it than most. I miss my family, my sister. We had problems sometimes, they wanted me to stay on Trill, but I still love them. And they still love me."

Tala turned under her arm until she was facing Dax, bringing her hands up to the Trill's waist and laying them there gently. "I forgot what it was like to have someone miss you. What it was like to miss someone back. I've been alone for so long that I started to believe I preferred it that way." She leaned into Jadzia's embrace as the Trill tightened her arms. Slowly, Tala brought her hand up to Jadzia's face, stopping right below her spotted lobe. "May I?" she whispered.

"Of course."

Her fingers closed over the delicate ear and Tala closed her eyes. Behind them she could see colors, a swirling of elements that shone so radiantly she almost cried out from the pain. She felt the thunder of blood racing through her veins and the pounding of her heart. When she finally removed her hand, Jadzia sighed and laid her cheek against Tala's hair. "That was wonderful." She smiled. "To hear Benjamin talk about it, you would think they had ripped his ear off."

Tala laughed. "I've learned to be much more gentle if you wish to be allowed to do it more than once."

"Why aren't you a Vedek?" Jadzia asked seriously. "Aside from the obvious, why weren't you acting in that capacity on Missak?"

"They asked me that, too." She traced her a finger down Jadzia's neck, following the patterns made by her markings. "Actually, after the first time I touched one of them, they all but begged me to."

"What stopped you?"

Tala let her arm drop. She turned and leaned her back against Jadzia, who wrapped her arms around the Bajoran's waist. "My faith wasn't, and still isn't, what it once was. I found myself at odds with the notion of a God or Gods that could permit such suffering to exist, for any reason, at any time. With my choices consisting of either believing my Gods to be uncaring or believing them non-existent, the decision was a rather simple one. I chose to become a heathen, and will remain a heathen until I am proven otherwise."

Jadzia listened quietly, lowering her head until her cheek rubbed against Tala's. Her skin was so soft and the sensation of brushing against that downy surface made her eyes close. She could feel Tala's ear against her neck and, without thinking, she pulled her lips back and kissed it gently. She was rewarded by Tala leaning into her a bit harder as she hung her head to the right, granting the Trill's lips access to her neck. Jadzia did not hesitate, she kissed the tender skin above Tala's jugular, biting gently as her hands caressed her silk clad hips. She could feel Tala's heart pounding within her chest, a rapid succession of beats that mirrored Jadzia's own. When Jadzia heard her whimper slightly, she pulled away and took a few deep breaths.

"What…what's wrong?" Tala gasped. "Why did you stop?"

"I wanted to be sure…That this was okay." She cupped the Bajoran's face. "I don't want to push you…into anything."

Tala laughed as she touched her lips briefly with an index finger. "You are a wonderfully sweet woman, Jadzia Dax. But there is nothing you could push me into right now, that I wouldn't want." She knelt and motioned for Dax to join her, patting the sand as she smiled sweetly. Dax stretched out beside her, snuggling against the warmth of Tala's side.

"Oh, by the way," Tala whispered as she rolled over, placing the weight of her body on top of the Trill. "You owe the Captain a bottle of ale."

Jadzia brought her head up and brushed her lips against Tala's. They were warm and soft, the moisture on them sweet. She opened her mouth and sighed when Tala's tongue reached out to touch hers. The kiss was slow and deep, driving any thoughts of ale completely from her mind.

Kira lay on her bed and contemplated the ceiling. She had already counted the discolorations made by her favorite springball, and was now watching as the flickering from a meditation candle caused eerie shadows to float above her head. She had been trying to sleep for hours, ever since she had left his office. His office. Odo's office. She closed her eyes and saw his smile, she opened them and saw his hands. She had thought it would be his eyes that would haunt her. Imagine her surprise to find it was his hands. She had looked at them often during their friendship. She had admired his skill at creating the perfectly shaped, long, delicate fingers. She had even held his hand once, a long time ago, when some smuggler whose name she could not even remember had tried to pick her up and been overly persistent.

And Odo had come to her rescue.

She sighed and got up, tying a robe over her naked form as she gave up all pretense of getting any sleep at all. She tried to push her thoughts away, but found herself thinking about all the times that Odo had rescued her. When they had been trapped on that moon and the female Changeling had impersonated her. When he had stopped that turbolift from crashing into the ground. When he had covered up her involvement in the death of Vatrick, the merchant who had been a Cardassian collaborator. She stopped, her eyes widening slightly.

Odo had lied for her.

She shook her head and poured herself a shot of real Bajoran bitters. "Why didn't I see it?" She slammed the glass down, clenching her teeth as the liquor burned down her throat. "How could I have missed it?"

She wandered around her quarters a few times before realizing that it wasn't getting her anywhere. With a deep sigh, she dressed and left.

Dax and Tala walked through the corridors of the habitat ring, holding hands and smiling at the floor. Dax could imagine sand falling off of them as they walked and was a little sad that it had all been an illusion. They had remained there, on that sand, lost in each others eyes and lips until the water had lapped around their ankles, then their hips. When it had finally reached their shoulders, Quark had reached his limit. He manually shut down the program and showed them the door. Dax couldn't remember ever enjoying a kiss more than Tala's. She wondered what it would be like to make love to her, and turned her head to hide her smile.

"What are you thinking about, 'Zia?" Tala grinned at the flustered Trill. "Don't worry about it. Probably the same thing I was thinking about."

When they reached Tala's quarters, Jadzia pressed her against the door, taking her face into her hands and kissing her gently. Tala responded willingly, but Dax could sense the tension that coursed through her body. When the kiss finally ended, she whispered, "I should go." She continued to caress her face. "This doesn't have to be tonight. Neither one of us is going anywhere."

Tala placed her hand over Jadzia's, turning her palm up so that she could touch her lips to the tender skin. "Thank you. What my body…and heart…want and what my mind will allow…seem a bit different right now. I just need a little time…to think." Her heart ached at Jadzia's answering smile.

"I can wait. You're worth it." She pulled Tala close and buried her face in her hair, almost convincing herself that she could still smell the sea. With a final kiss goodnight, she turned to go.



"Your hands," Tala's gaze locked on hers. "They were warm."

Jadzia smiled. "I know." She glanced at them briefly and then clenched them into fists, trying to will them to stop shaking. "I'll see you in the morning."

Tala watched her until she was out of sight and then retreated into her quarters, calling herself a fool as she went.

Dax wandered through the corridors, taking the long way home to allow herself time to cool down. It wasn't an easy thing to do. Every so often she would place her hands against her face and sigh. They were still warm, and felt as though they intended to stay that way. At least until she could get her mind off of the beautiful Bajoran who occupied her thoughts so completely.

Finally, the corridor she was wandering through ended at her door. She went inside, knowing there was probably no reason to even go to bed…sleep would be a long way off. She didn't call for the lights as she moved automatically around her furniture and slumped onto the couch with a last, heavy sigh.

She almost jumped out of her spots when a hand came out of the darkness and rested on her knee.

"What the-" She stood quickly. "LIGHTS!" After her eyes adjusted to the immediate illumination, she looked down into the Kira's smiling face. "Kira?" she took a deep breath and sat back down. "You scared the life out of me. What are you doing here?"

"I need to talk."

"Well, you'd better thank the Prophets that I didn't bring anyone home." Dax mumbled.

Kira put on her best scowl and leaned in closer. "You should be the one grateful for that. Because I know just exactly who it would have been."

Dax laughed. "You don't think I'm good enough for your sister?"

"Actually," Kira took her hand. "I can't think of anybody better. I'm glad she found someone she can care for. I'm glad you've finally found someone, too. At least, I hope you feel the same way about her, because I haven't seen that look in my sister's eyes for a long, long time. Even before we were separated. And I would hate to see her get hurt."

Dax squeezed her hand gently. "I do care for her. We're just….trying each other on right now."

Kira looked at the ground, and Dax was amazed to see a tear fall to the floor. "What's happened? Why are you crying?"

"He loves me." Kira shook her head. "I don't know why. Prophets, I don't know how I could have missed it."

Dax had several options at that point, the most appealing was to feign ignorance, but she knew Kira needed to hear the truth. "I see. So he finally told you."

Kira's head swiveled towards her, a dangerous look in her eyes. "You see? Dax, you're not going to tell me that you already knew…are you?"

Jadzia looked directly into her eyes and tried not to smile.

"How could you not tell me?? I thought you were my friend.." She started to rise, presumably for one of her famous 'Kira storm-outs', but Dax grabbed her arm and pulled her back onto the couch.

"I am your friend." She took her hand again. "The only reason I even found out about it at all, was because of my Jian'Tara. When Curzon and Odo joined, they shared all of their memories, all of their experiences. When Curzon's memories were rejoined with mine, I got a lot more than I expected. I got Odo's as well. I got to remember what it was like to be a shapeshifter, what it was like to be so alone that it hurt every minute of every day…..and what it was like to love you. You can't even imagine my surprise the first time I noticed it. You had come to my station in Ops and leaned across me to check one of the far sensors. I actually felt my heart ache at the sight of you. It took me three days to piece together what was happening…and I was unfit for anything until I had."

"I think I remember when that happened." Kira looked like she was trying not to laugh. "You spilled your Rak'tegino down the front of your uniform and then kept stammering every time you opened your mouth. I wondered why you were so scarce the next couple of days."

Dax nodded, grinning sheepishly. "I would be lying if I said the experience was unpleasant. I even considered letting it take its course." She sobered at Kira's incredulous look. "You are a very beautiful woman. But…in the end, the memories and feelings were Odo's, and I couldn't take that from him, too. So I put them in the same category as the rest of my memories, and tried to keep my mouth shut."

"Well, you did a damn good job with the last part." She laugh was a little shaky. "So, what am I going to do?"

"What do you want to do?"

"I kind of figured this conversation was going to go like this." She stood and began to pace. "I don't know what I want to do. Two days ago, I would have told you that Edon and I were doing fine, never better…that I was falling in love with him. Now…now there's this….this Odo factor." She stopped pacing and stared out of a porthole. "So now I have to figure out how I feel about him. How I would feel about…us, if there was an us. Not to mention the other big question."

"Which is?"

Kira gave her a funny look and flushed to the roots of her hair. "What if he can't…" She waved her hand as she tried to find the appropriate word.

"Oh," Dax smiled. "But what if he can." She raised one eyebrow suggestively. "Think of the possibilities. I can't imagine how you could not think about it. I know I have."

She laughed and wrung her hands together. "Damn it! I didn't even know Odo could fall in love, let alone want to."

"I don't think he ever wanted to, Kira. I think he fought it as long as he could and finally broke under the weight of the feelings he had for you." She went to her and hugged her. "As for what you should do….I couldn't tell you. But, if it makes any difference at all, I can tell you that Odo's love for you is real. More real than most people can even dream about."

Kira swallowed, wiping away a tear that had streamed, unchecked, down her cheek. She nodded. "Thank you. I'd better go." She hit the door control, but turned back as it slid open. "Oh, I meant to ask you…"


"How long has it been since your hands were that warm?" With a wry grin, she left.

Once outside, she smiled to herself. So, Dax had thought about the possibilities of a physical relationship with the Constable. She tried to imagine what it would be like to carry his memories the way Jadzia did, and found herself disappointed that she couldn't.

She continued to walk, lost in her musings, until she came upon an adjacent corridor. She looked to the left, towards her quarters, and then to the right, towards….

With a deep breath, she headed right.

Part 3

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