No sooner had they returned to Deep Space 9 after the incident with the Defiant, now in the capable hands of Chief O'Brien for repairs, that Doctor Lenara Kahn was immediately escorted to Sickbay, where Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer of the station, wasted no time in attending to her, making sure that the radiation had not caused her any difficulty whatsoever.
A few hours later the woman was in her quarters, lying on a sort of lounger that almost resembled, in some of its forms, the deckchairs typical of the 21st century Earth, flanked by a caring and protective Bejal, who was just then serving her a steaming cup of Trill tea.

The doorbell rang just as Otner handed the cup to his sister, who told the still unknown visitor to come in. As she took a sip of the hot drink offered by her brother, the doors to the lobby opened on Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, Chief Science Officer of Deep Space 9 and the one who, on the Defiant, had essentially saved her life.
Bejal stood up, while Dax asked Lenara how she was feeling, given precisely what had happened. It was Doctor Otner himself who replied, now fully up and facing Jadzia: «Much better. She has almost recovered.» The sick woman smiled into the cup, before replying amused: «My brother, the nurse.» For his part, Otner merely cast her an indulgent glance, before turning back to Dax: «I would like to thank you for what you have done. Lenara, for me, is very important.»
Jadzia, in answering him, looked at him with a particular intensity in her eyes: «For me, too.» Bejal merely said to her: «Of course. I'll leave you two alone,» before saying goodbye to both of them and leaving.

As the doors closed behind the man's back, Jadzia, taking the seat previously occupied by Otner, offered Lenara a small bottle with a clear liquid inside: «It's a Risian perfume.» Kahn smiled, gently taking the gift the other woman had extended to her in her hands, before asking her if she already knew anything about what had happened to the tunnel created just before the accident. Dax merely shrugged her head: «The most likely hypothesis is that a tetryon field reacted with the probe's shields, producing a massive wave of gravitons. There are no casualties, only minor bruises, and most importantly, the ship did not explode.»
«Oh God, the ship,» Lenara seemed almost regretful at having removed the Defiant from the equation, «was there much damage?»
Grabbing her hand gently, and squeezing it gently, Dax said: «O'Brien says he'll have her back in a few days. It wasn't your fault!» Kahn returned the squeeze, but the reply was still bitter: «Yes but it was my project, all my theories...» Dax exclaimed: «Then don't forget that your design and theories successfully created the first artificial wormhole in history. That is an unprecedented achievement!»
Lenara smiled at her: «You're right. I'm letting myself feel guilty, aren't I?»
Returning the smile, Dax nodded: «I would say, Lenara!»

Averting her gaze, and bringing her hands to her lap - still clutching the flask Jadzia had given her earlier - Kahn remarked: «When I return to Trill, I certainly won't lack for work. Just to analyse all the telemetry on the probe will take several months.»
The other Trill nodded: «Probably. Do you want to stay and work here with me?»
Lenara looked at her in dismay: «Here with you? You...» she just shrugged her head, not knowing what to say about that bold proposal: «Do you know that what you are saying would cause a scandal?»
Jadzia looked at her with fervour, the same that now animated her voice: «I know exactly what it would entail. But I no longer care.»
Kahn huffed: «It's funny, you know. Bejal had almost managed to convince me with difficulty that, after all, the game wasn't worth the candle. He wants me to go right back to Trill with him, tomorrow, and forget about you.»
«Quite a stubborn fellow.» Dax still couldn't suppress a note of bitterness, mixed with acrimony, from her voice: she just couldn't get over the other scientist's constant interference.
«You can't be hard on him,» Lenara begged her, trying to smooth the waters, «he's just trying to protect his bigger sister.»

Exasperated, Jadzia stood up, arms outstretched upwards in a gesture full of spite: «Ah, everyone is trying to make themselves useful for us. To protect our future. But what they don't know is that ours is a deep feeling, an unconditional love, and that whatever our decision, we alone will have to accept the consequences.»
Lenara, rising in turn so she could approach Dax, observed: «Dax, that's what I'm terrified of. Of the consequences.» She continued in a heartfelt manner: «When you are not here with me, when you are far away, it is as if a part of myself is missing. That's what I want most, to be with you, but I don't think I can do it. Dax, you and I are different. I don't have a little Curzon inside me that makes me be impulsive, that makes me ignore the rules and abandon everything I've worked for.»
Jadzia turned to her, her gaze filled with sorrow: «Are you saying you want to leave me, or am I wrong? We are here, we are together again. The dream comes true, don't throw your heart away.»
«I don't want to!» Kahn found herself exclaiming. «I need a lot more time, though. Tell you what, I'll go back to Trill with the team, try to find a solution. And when I'm ready I'll come back.»
Jadzia, now in tears, pushed her badly away from herself: «I wish those words were true. But I know well how it will end, Lenara. If you loved me at least as much as I love you right now, that transport would leave tomorrow without you. Because if you decide to leave tomorrow, we both know, you'll never come back.»
With that, Dax hurriedly and tearfully left Lenara's quarters, so distraught that she did not notice at all the presence of Bejal in the corridor, just a few steps away from the entrance to her own rooms, which were located a little further away from those of her sister. The other scientist gave her a look between surprised and perplexed, before leaving his own rooms and hurrying to Lenara's, to find out what had happened in the few minutes the two women had been alone since he had decided to leave - in defiance of all his reluctance and perplexity.

The man was just in time to enter, when he found himself having to grab a very agitated Lenara, who was completely out of it; it took him a while before he managed to calm his sister down just enough to ask her what was going on and why Jadzia had left in such a hurry, her eyes swollen and in tears, and she was in that condition.
Lenara, for her part, seemed delirious and was slightly feverish in the arms of her brother, who carried her back to the cot, where he forced her to lie down before trying, in every possible way, to make her lucid and calm enough to understand what had happened in his absence. The first words spoken by the woman, understandably given the situation, were «Jadzia, where is Jadzia?» as she looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of the other woman, now no longer there.
«Lenara,» Bejal stroked her face tenderly before continuing, «what happened? I saw Commander Dax leave in a hurry, she hardly seemed to be herself. What did you say to each other? What happened?» His concern for her sister, who had escaped almost certain death on the Defiant precisely because of the other Trill's prompt intervention, had only increased in those last few minutes. His sister, much calmer than before, but still in obvious shock and stress, had not immediately reacted to his questions, which made him worry even more.
When, finally, the woman decided to speak to him, to say something, what she said made him momentarily chill: «Bejal, please... don't make me leave DS9, please... I don't want to leave.»

Otner looked at her momentarily speechless: he had fervently hoped, within himself, that his sister had been convinced, once and for all, to let go of that almost childish infatuation with Jadzia, an infatuation that he for one could not understand and, above all, could not accept. The Trill rules were very strict in this respect: it was not possible, on pain of exile from Trillius Prime and the impossibility of giving a new host to the symbiont, to carry out what was called re-association, i.e. the resumption of a relationship between two Trills, at least one of which was joined to a symbiont. This was one of the oldest and most respected taboos in their society, and Bejal could not believe that Lenara really wanted to break it.
He tried to make her think about it, using as reasonable a tone as possible, but he feared, deep down, that it was just a losing battle: not only was it common knowledge that, when Lenara put her mind to something, it was impossible to change her mind, but, as aware as they both were of the Trill laws regarding re-association, Otner also realised how close his sister had become to the station's Science Officer, regardless of the fact that in a previous 'life' the hosts of the two symbionts had been married. Deep down, he wanted to see his sister happy: if she had been happy together with Commander Dax in the end, what harm could there have been?

Nevertheless, he could not help but try: «Lenara, you know better than I that Trill laws do not allow this. Besides condemning yourself, and Jadzia, to certain exile, you are also condemning both your symbionts to death. Damn it, don't get carried away by everything that has happened since we arrived at the station, you have duties... and obligations to fulfil! Do you want to throw it all away in this stupid way? We've already talked about it...» The look he saw in Lenara's eyes, however, only confirmed his greatest fears, as did her words in response to his urgent request to exercise some caution: «I no longer care about the Symbiosis Commission or those stupid laws, Bejal!»
The woman was now on edge again, agitated at the thought of having to leave Dax behind... Jadzia forever: «I love her, Bejal! I love Jadzia, do you understand? It is not the memories of the Kahn symbiont that affect me, brother, it is my own feelings that drive me to want to make this decision and stay here, regardless of the impositions of Trill laws!» She ran a hand over her face, clearly distressed by the situation.
«And you told her? To Jadzia, I say... did you tell her?» asked Bejal, almost fearing the response he would receive from her sister, considering the manner in which Commander Dax had exited the quarters moments before: the reaction was definitely not that of someone who had been told to be loved in return. Mind you, he wasn't yet ready to leave the camp, moreover in defeat, but he still felt compelled to try, in some way, to understand his sister.

«No,» Lenara sighed, looking surprisingly vulnerable to her brother before finally explaining to him what had just happened with Jadzia and why she had come out so agitated: «I felt pressured, I told her I wanted to go back to Trill to have more time... deluding myself that I would be able to get back to her once I had a chance to think clearly. But when Jadzia turned her back on me to leave...» she shook her head, wiping away a few tears, before continuing to speak: «I felt like I was losing a part of me, I felt like my world was collapsing in on me... and it hurt, Bejal! It really hurt, because Jadzia is right: if I returned with you to our planet, I would no longer have the courage to leave.»
She took a deep, shuddering breath and, before Otner could intervene - even if only by asking what, if anything, was wrong with acting that way - she continued: «I cannot return to Trill, not when I have the chance to be happy elsewhere as well, regardless of the consequences.» She looked him in the eye, tears still streaking her cheeks: «I cannot give up such a thing, Bejal... I cannot be guided by fear and taboos so restrictive that I do not consider how the host can have a will of its own.»

The man looked into her eyes for a long moment before taking a deep breath: he could not believe what he was about to say to his sister, it went against everything he believed, everything they had been taught. The decision she wanted to make still had a heavy price to pay, leading him to wonder if it was really worth it - but as he looked at her, he realised that, yes, no price would be too high for her, despite all his protestations to that effect.
At that point, he found himself proposing to her, almost without thinking: «Listen, Lenara... why don't you stay here?» The question earned him a surprised look from his sister, who evidently could not believe his words.

After all, how could I blame her? In the end I was the one who tried hard to make her associate with Commander Dax as little as possible, Bejal reflected almost bitterly, before finding a way to justify to himself what he had just said: «If you really want to give this relationship a chance, the place to test it is here, not on Trill. Besides, until this becomes public knowledge you can always go home. In case it doesn't work out with Dax.»
Her sister dwelled on the words "public domain" and found herself thinking about the more immediate implications of her decision: «What will you tell Dr. Pren and the Symbiosis Commission? And to our parents?»
The answer surprised her, if possible, even more: «That the best place for Doctor Lenara Kahn, the foremost scholar of artificial wormholes, to continue her research could only be on Deep Space 9! Of course,» he added, almost in retrospect, «sooner or later they will realise that that was not the reason and, most likely, exile will be inevitable... but, if you are sure and that is what you want...»
«Oh Bejal,» Lenara sighed, rising just enough to put her arms around his neck and pull him close, «I'm not just sure, I'm certain!»
Bejal Otner merely returned his sister's embrace, deeply regretting the woman's decision: despite her assurances to the contrary, which he wanted to believe with all his might, inside himself he could not be totally satisfied, believing that Jadzia had probably had too much influence in the matter.

The next morning, Lieutenant Commander Worf, the base's Strategic Operations Officer, escorted Hanor Prem and Bejal Otner to the docking hatch on the Promenade from where, after a very brief exchange of banter, the two Trills boarded the transport ship that was shortly to depart for Trillius Prime.
The imposing Klingon officer, the first of his kind to serve in the Federation ranks, waited patiently for Dr. Kahn to arrive, who had not immediately joined her brother and colleague when Worf had shown up in front of their quarters that morning to escort them to their transport embarkation point.
The Klingon wasn't the only one awaiting the woman's arrival: on the balcony overlooking the lower level of the Promenade, Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, DS9's Chief Science Officer, was studying the hustle and bustle of people, her face tense and drawn, her eyes still red, swollen and glazed.

Inside, she fervently hoped that Lenara would decide to stay, fervently hoped not to see her embarking for Trillius Prime, as the other two scientists had done moments before. The night had been quite an arduous one for Trill: she had slept very little, spending several hours pacing back and forth in her quarters, before surrendering to the evidence and, in the very early hours of the morning, making her way to the base's Operations Centre (only to be bounced by Major Kira, in charge of the Gamma shift, who had clearly ordered her not to return to active duty until she had overcome the trauma of those last few days).
And so she had found herself wandering aimlessly around the base before running into Julian who, given her condition, had not hesitated to offer her his unconditional support and deep friendship, even making sure she ate something for breakfast before going to the Infirmary in time for the start of Alpha Shift. The doctor had listened to the torrent of words coming from Jadzia with extreme patience, even offering a bit of advice here and there, but mainly letting her vent: he realised how that was what her friend needed most. Advice, opinions, could possibly wait for better times.
Before making her way to the docking hatch, albeit from an elevated position, Dax had taken a few more strolls around the station, which was gradually coming to life as the morning wore on and the day service began. The aim was to clear her head as much as possible, not to think about what had happened the day before, but this had achieved little, at least in the immediate term: she couldn't help but return her thoughts to the fact that she was more worried about losing Lenara than being exiled from her home planet.

Deeply lost in thought and consequently not immediately aware of what was happening along the Promenade, Dax was brought back to reality when a hand hesitantly rested on her arm, gently. The gesture prompted her to turn around, although she was doing so almost reluctantly, part of her attention still focused on the Promenade or on her own innermost thoughts: the person she found herself facing was both the only one and the last one she had expected to see at that moment.
She was so incredulous that she found herself weakly whispering a «Lenara,» suspended between the hope that the other Trill's presence gave her and the strong fear of what might happen in the next few moments. She did not have time to add anything else that the woman in front of her pulled her towards her, sliding her hand still on her arm upwards and lacing both arms around her neck, drawing her into a firm, but gentle, embrace and sinking her face into the hollow between neck and shoulder. After an infinitesimal hesitation, Jadzia returned the embrace with equal firmness and gentleness, burying her face in Lenara's hair, to herself thanking all that could be thanked for the apparent choice the other woman had made.

On the lower level of the Promenade, Worf merely looked up briefly at the couple: for some time now, the Klingon had begun to feel some sort of interest in Jadzia, and he also had the impression that the Trill reciprocated it to some extent. However, Worf did not know if he was misrepresenting Dax's strong passion, knowledge and understanding of Klingon culture with something else.
«They make a nice couple, don't they?» Quark's high-pitched voice made the Klingon flinch: a step behind him had approached, unnoticed, the Ferengi, the station's bartender and fixer, and favourite victim - and rightly so! - of Constable Odo. It must have been a short step, since Quark's place was right in front of the boarding gate, and the curiosity was great; Worf just turned around, giving him a sullen look and a grumbling of annoyed assent.

«Her glance towards the balcony was very eloquent. Tell me, do you prefer Jadzia or Lenara?» Quark accompanied the words with a complicit glance and a sharp-toothed half-smile.
Worf turned completely around to face him, several spans taller than him and decidedly more stocky, unwilling (as always, so this was nothing new) to put up with the Ferengi's way, far too intrusive at times: «None of your business.»
Quark raised his hands in surrender and stepped back, dodging a Bajoran civilian passing along the Promenade: «All right, all right, - he squeaked - how touchy you Klingons are!»
Worf tried to extricate himself from the uncomfortable situation he found himself in by declaring that he had to return to the Ops Centre, but Quark wasn't finished with him yet - on the other hand, every opportunity was a good chance to earn some credit: «Look you can trust me, I've had dreams too - he searched for the right word - particular about Dax. With all that passion for Klingon culture she must be a particularly fiery companion.»
«How dare you?» Worf was blatantly annoyed and testy, a fact that led him to clench his fists just to keep from grabbing the cunning little Ferengi by the neck: the Klingon was still a Starfleet officer, not just any petaQ. Besides, he had learned the hard way what anger could lead to when provoked.

«Then I am right!» replied Quark victoriously, «She didn't say no when I asked her which one she liked of the two; and she didn't now either.»
«Go back to your bar, Ferengi. And leave me alone,» Worf thundered, this time truly on the verge of committing an action he would most likely regret.
«Don't be like that, come with me to the bar, the first round is on me. There's nothing better than some Blood Wine...» at the Klingon's furrowed brow, Quark changed strategy, «...some warm plum juice to soothe the heartache.»
As inappropriate as it might seem, and all in all it seemed quite inappropriate to him given the Ferengi's manner, Worf agreed to join Quark at the bar counter. He had no intention of staying long, he was on duty anyway, but he felt that a chat with the bartender about a matter he believed he had concealed from everyone, namely his unexpected interest in Jadzia Dax, would make it easier for him to perform his duties later.

At the second round of plum juice, served in a traditional metal cup, Worf remarked how unusual a union between a Trill and a Klingon would be, wondering how he would marry her if she was not part of a glorious lineage. Quark, for his part reasoned about the profits: «There will be a lot of Trills arriving, intrigued by the two women who have defied their laws; whether they hate them or admire them, they will pass by and have their throats out after all those insults... or compliments!»
«Even a Klingon wedding would bring a lot of people,» Worf retorted almost resentfully.
«Yes, but they'd be Klingons... no offence,» he hastened to correct himself, «there's all the breaking crockery to be reckoned with.»
By the third glass of plum juice, the two were talking about the holidays Worf and Jadzia might take together. Risa would have been the most obvious destination, but Quark confided in him that a certain Arandis, employed on the very planet of pleasure, had been a mistress of Curzon's... indeed she had been the last woman Curzon had loved before he died in her arms doing jamaharon. There was a risk that the spark would be rekindled just as it had been with Lenara, and Worf agreed that the destination was not a preferable one.

At the fourth glass they talked about offspring. Quark was fascinated by the hypothesis of a Klingon with the typical Trill markings, while Worf was puzzled by the possibility that the offspring might want to carry a symbiont in the future. It puzzled him, to the point of arguing that the delivery of a Klingon baby was not sustainable by a non-Klingon woman.
«She's used to having a symbiote in her stomach,» Quark mocked him, pouring him his fifth glass, «what can a little Worf do to her in there?»
«You have no idea, Ferengi,» Worf told him, menacingly, coming dangerously close to his ears, «even that alone would be enough to dissuade me from having a relationship with her.»
«All the better!» The bartender defended himself by placing the bottle of plum juice on the counter: «Also because Dax is with Lenara, not you.»
At this sentence the Klingon-Ferengi idyll broke down. Worf clutched the glass harder than he should, but recomposed himself in time by pulling on his uniform tunic, after which he abruptly pushed it away from him, splashing the contents onto the counter.
«What did I say? It seemed obvious, didn't it?» Quark put the glass back to him.
«We're done, Ferengi,» Worf, annoyed, took two steps away, turning his back to the bartender.
«Where are you going? You must pay me!» Quark sighed as he looked up at the ceiling, but by now Worf was taking the walk, stepping out of sight.
Quark shook his head, dejected, then noticed the metal glass, showing the deformed marks of the Klingon's grip: «All the same, these Klingons.»
Jadzia Dax and Lenara Kahn's adventure lasted for almost three years. Although their symbionts retained the memories of their previous hosts and, therefore, Torias and Nilani lived on in both women, their memories and the symbionts themselves had very little influence on their relationship. Much less than one would have expected.
Both women of rather strong character, they demonstrated on several occasions how true it was what Lenara had told her brother Bejal on the evening before he left for Trillius Prime: neither of them had been particularly affected by the memory of a previous love brought by their symbionts, although one might believe that this had most likely been the spark that had sparked their interest in each other.
They got to know each other, discovered each other day by day, with their flaws and their strengths, and learned to love each other more and more. The difficult moments were not lacking, of course, but they were all overcome with great humility by both women, although at times their fierce discussions made even Commander Worf, the imposing Klingon in charge of the base's Strategic Operations, turn away. Which, all things considered, made one wonder quite a lot, if one reckoned with his irascibility, enhanced, at least for the first few months, by the fact that he had hoped, underneath, to be in Kahn's position.

A few months after their relationship began, the war against the Dominion exploded in all its enormity and ferocity, seeing Commander Dax engaged in constant guerrilla warfare against enemy Jem'Hadar and Cardassian vessels. At the dawn of the clashes against the Dominion, the Symbiosis Commission had notified both women of their exile from Trillius Prime and the associated death sentence for their symbionts once both hosts were deceased. Nothing the two women hadn't expected, mind you, but nevertheless quite a blow to take: all their friends and colleagues rallied around them both, supportive and understanding, always ready to offer a helping hand and not make them feel isolated.

On the eve of the Defiant's umpteenth departure for a war mission, this time to the Chin'toka system, where the Federation vessel would join the Allied forces, Lenara and Jadzia were in their quarters, the latter intent on finishing preparations for the next day. Tension crackled in the air: Dax knew perfectly well how uncomfortable Lenara was when her companion was leaving for a war mission, just as she knew that she was trying hard not to let it weigh on him.
Having finished her preparations, Jadzia approached the other woman, wrapping her slender figure in her arms and holding her close, in an attempt to convey to her with that simple gesture all her love and strength, her confidence: «I will come back to you, Lenara, as I always have and as I always will. I promise you! I will never abandon you.»
The scientist turned in Jadzia's arms, so that she could reciprocate the embrace, could hold in turn the woman she had discovered she loved and had grown to love more and more over the past few years. Neither of them expected that this would be the last time they would ever embrace.