[STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE] REASSOCIATION

Dax emerged in tears from Lenara's quarters, where she had been in the last ten minutes to check on her condition following the accident aboard the Federation starship Defiant a few days earlier. She was so distraught that she did not notice Bejal Otner's presence at all, who gave her a surprised and puzzled look before hurrying off to join his sister.

It took him a moment before he was able 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 why she was in such a state. Lenara, for her part, seemed delirious and was slightly feverish in the arms of her brother, who carried her back to the bed, where he forced her to lie down before trying his best to calm her down.

«Jadzia, where’s Jadzia?» were the first words spoken by the woman, when she finally realised that, by her side, it was not Dax but her brother.

«Lenara,» Bejal stroked her face tenderly before continuing, «what happened? I saw Commander Dax leave in a hurry, she hardly seemed to be himself. What did you say to each other? What happened?» His concern for his sister, who had escaped almost certain death on the Defiant precisely because of Commander Dax, had only increased in those last few minutes. His sister, now calmer than before, but still in obvious shock, had not immediately responded to his questions, which had made him even more worried.

But, finally, she answered to her brother, looking sorrowfully into his eyes, «Bejal, please... don't force me to leave DS9, please... I don't want to leave.»

«Lenara, you know perfectly well that Trill laws don't allow that. You're condemning your symbiont to death, dammit! Don't let everything that's happened since we got to the station get to you, you have duties... and obligations!» Bejal tried to make his sister think in a reasonable tone, but deep down he feared it was a losing battle: not only was it common knowledge that when Lenara put her mind to something, that was the end of it, but as much as he was aware of the Trill laws regarding reassociation, he also knew how close the woman had become to the Trill Science Officer of the station, 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 with Commander Dax, after all, what harm could there be? Apart from, of course, condemning the two hosts to exile and, consequently, the respective symbionts to death.

The look he saw in Lenara's eyes only confirmed his greatest fears, as did her words in response to his urgent request to exercise some caution: «I don't care about the Symbiosis Commission or those stupid laws any more, Bejal!»

The woman was now on a high again, agitated at the thought of leaving Dax behind... Jadzia forever: «I love her, Bejal! I love Jadzia, do you understand? It's not the memories of the Kahn symbiont that affect me, brother, it's my own feelings that make me want to make this decision and stay here, regardless of the impositions of Trill laws!»

«And have you told her? Jadzia, I mean... did you tell her?» asked Bejal, almost afraid of the response she would receive from her sister given the manner in which Commander Dax had left her quarters moments before.

«No,» Lenara sighed, looking surprisingly vulnerable to her brother before finally explaining to him what had just happened with Jadzia and why she had left so agitated, «I felt pressured, I told her I wanted to return to Trill for more time... under the illusion that I could return to her once I had a chance to think clearly. But when Jadzia turned her back on me to leave... I felt like I was losing a part of myself, I felt my world crashing down on me... and it hurt, and a lot! I can't go back to Trill, not when I have a chance to be happy elsewhere, no matter what the consequences!»

The man at his side took a deep breath: he could not believe what he was about to say to his sister, it went against everything he believed, everything he had been taught: the decision his sister wanted to make still had a very high price to pay, making him wonder if it was really worth it.

«Listen, Lenara... why don't you stay here?» he asked her, earning a surprised look from his sister who clearly couldn't believe his words. How could I blame her, after all? In the end I was the one who tried so hard to make her hang around Commander Dax as little as possible, Bejal reflected almost bitterly, before being brought back down to earth by her sister.

«What are you going to tell Doctor Pren and the Symbiosis Commission? And to our parents?»

«That is the best place for Dr. Lenara Kahn, the foremost scholar of artificial wormholes, to continue her research on Deep Space 9! Of course," she added, almost in retrospect, "sooner or later they'll realise that that won't be the reason, and they'll most likely proceed to permanently exile you and Dax... but, if you're sure and that's 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 her decision: despite her assurances to the contrary, which he wanted to believe with all his might, he could not be completely satisfied with it, believing that Jadzia had probably had too much influence on the matter instead.

---------------

The next morning, Lieutenant Commander Worf, the Strategic Operations Officer of the station and Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Defiant, escorted Hanor Prem and Bejal Otner to the docking hatch on the Promenade from where, after a very brief exchange of words, the two Trills boarded the transport ship that was shortly to depart for Trillius Prime.

The Starfleet Officer stood waiting patiently for Dr. Kahn, who had not immediately joined his brother and colleague when the imposing Klingon had shown up to escort them to their passenger transport,  to arrive as well. Worf was not the only officer 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 comings and goings, her face tense and drawn, her eyes still red, swollen and shiny.

Inwardly, Jadzia fervently hoped Lenara would decide to stay, fervently hoped she wouldn't see her embarking for Trill, as her two colleagues had done moments before. The night had been quite a struggle for her, she'd had very little sleep and had spent several hours pacing back and forth in her quarters before surrendering to the evidence and making her way to the station’s Operation Centre in the very early hours of the morning (only to be bounced by Major Kira, in charge of Gamma shift, who had clearly ordered her not to return to active duty until she'd overcome the trauma of those last few days).

And so, she had found herself wandering aimlessly around the station, before running into Julian who, given her condition, had not hesitated to offer her his unconditional support and deep friendship, even making sure she had something to eat for breakfast before going to the Infirmary in time for the start of the Alpha shift.

Momentarily 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, prompting her to turn around: the person she found in front of her was both the only one and the last one she expected to see at that moment.

«Lenara,» Jadzia whispered, incredulous, suspended between the hope Lenara's presence gave her and the strong fear of what might happen in the next few moments. She didn't have time to add anything else when the woman in front of her pulled her towards herself, 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 her neck and shoulder. After an infinitesimal hesitation, Jadzia returned the embrace with equal firmness and gentleness, hiding her face in Lenara's hair, to herself thanking all she could for the choice the woman had made.

---------------

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, they had very little influence on their relationship. Far less than one would have expected.

Both women of rather strong character, they proved what Lenara had told her brother Bejal the night before she had left for Trillius Prime: neither had been particularly affected by the memory of a previous love brought by their symbionts, although that had probably been the spark that had fueled their interest in each other.

They got to know each other, discovered each other day by day, with their faults and their strengths, and learned to love each other more and more. There were difficult moments, 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 Strategic Operations on the station, turn away.

A few months after the beginning of their relationship, the Dominion War exploded in all its enormity and ferocity, seeing Commander Dax engaged in constant guerrilla warfare against the 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.

One evening, on the eve of the Defiant's departure for 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. The tension was crackling in the air: Jadzia knew perfectly well how uncomfortable Lenara was when her partner went off on a war mission, just as she knew that the woman tried hard not to burden her with it.

When the preparations were finished, Dax approached Kahn, holding her close and trying to convey all her love and strength, her confidence, with that simple gesture: «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, in such a way that she could return the embrace, and could hold in turn the woman she had discovered she loved and had grown to love more and more over the last few years. Neither of them expected that this would be the last time they would ever embrace.

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