[STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE] TEARS OF THE PROPHETS
The Defiant had led the flotilla of Starfleet, Romulan and Klingon vessels against the allied forces of the Dominion, winning perhaps for the first time since the fighting broke out.
Not including, of course, the fact that, in the midst of the fighting, Captain Benjamin Sisko, Emissary of the Bajorans and Commanding Officer of DS9 and the Defiant itself, had an unexpected (and violent) vision from the Prophets of the Celestial Temple, which put him out of action for long enough to force Major Kira, his First Officer, to take charge.
Shortly after their victory over the opposing forces, the Defiant had received a Priority One message from the space station instructing them to return as quickly as possible: in addition to the blow of the collapse of the Celestial Temple, the natural wormhole where Deep Space Nine was orbiting, Gul Dukat, possessed by a Pah-Wraith, had managed to break into the premises where the Crystal of Contemplation was kept and violate it, causing the very collapse of the Celestial Temple that had hit the Emissary of the Prophets so hard.
The crowd closed in around the figures of Captain Sisko, Major Kira and Chief O'Brien, who emerged from the docking port. A Bajoran girl, no more than ten years old and wearing a dress of various shades of green, approached the Emissary and took his hand: «Emissary, Mama says the crystals have gone dark, that the Prophets have abandoned us.»
The man knelt in front of her, so that he could see into the child's eyes, and affectionately squeezed her shoulders in his own hands, but before she could say a single word, the child continued almost tearfully, «You must find the Prophets. Emissary, you must find them. Tell them to come back, please!»
Sisko turned away for a moment from the thought of what awaited him in the Infirmary and tried to concentrate on what the little Bajoriana had just asked him. He looked around, realising that the girl wasn't the only Bajoriana his age to have approached him; a few steps back, the children's parents were also looking at him with lost eyes. Some members of the Bajorian crew of Deep Space 9 had interrupted their duties in order to meet the Emissary.
«I'll do anything...» was all Sisko could say.
Around him, the other officers stiffened; Kira and O'Brien exchanged astonished looks, while Quark, who was about to ask what the doctor was referring to in those words, was cut off by a dry gesture from Odo, while Sisko, for his part, was as taut as a violin string.
«But,» Bashir added, causing everyone to breathe a sigh of relief (and deserving of a few murderous looks as well), «I was able to stabilise Jadzia as well. They're both on the mend, although it's going to take a while yet. We were able to save them both! Worf is with her now.»
The tension that had permeated the group up to that point evaporated in a flash, with Kira even hugging Quark and Odo sketching a smile of sorts, while O'Brien gave Bashir a vigorous pat on the back and Sisko inhaled deeply a couple of times to recover from a terrible blow that, thank the Prophets, had not come. Jadzia was safe, despite the significant wounds sustained at the hands of Dukat. But the promise of revenge on the Cardassian was still fresh in her mind: if she found him in front of her, she would not hesitate.
In his report, Doctor Bashir had pointed out that he had been forced to briefly separate the Dax symbiote from Jadzia, otherwise he would not have been able to save the two lives at stake: fortunately, the whole operation had been well within the time frame in which host and symbiote could survive without each other, thus allowing the base's Chief Medical Officer to successfully complete what seemed to be a miracle.
Jadzia, for her part, was recovering rather quickly from her trauma, looking ever so restless and eager to return to active duty, from which she had been suspended by Captain Sisko until further notice, to allow her to process her trauma. On Dr. Bashir's advice, however, Sisko had allowed his Science Officer to engage in some not particularly onerous activities, to allow her to make some use of her time and prevent her from appearing unannounced in the station's Operations Centre.
But the woman was restless also and mainly for another reason: in the short time she had been forcibly separated from her symbiote, in order to allow Doctor Bashir to save them both, the scientist had had to come to terms with some interesting aspects of her own sentimental sphere, as her husband discovered to his cost. In fact, one evening, after returning from duty, Worf had decided to bring her one of his favourite Klingon dishes, although his arrival with the delicacy had not been particularly appreciated by his wife who, instead, had preferred something much more traditional.
Jadzia's reaction had inevitably increased Worf's concern for his wife, considering that she had been rather unfriendly to him ever since she left the Infirmary. During dinner that evening, therefore, he finally decided to broach the subject with her, believing that a confrontation would certainly benefit them both, allowing them to resolve whatever problems were troubling Trill. He had no idea what bombshell would go off to his detriment, however.
«So, how are you feeling today?» Worf asked her at the end of dinner, as he had been doing now since Jadzia had been released from Sickbay. The Trill gave him an annoyed and impatient look, seemingly for no reason, before replying in mild reproach, «You ask me that every day, Worf. It will take time for me to fully recover, you know that...»
The look the Klingon gave her could have meant many things as he remarked, «I am concerned about your health, and wonder if you need more medical attention. Your physical recovery seems optimal, and I look forward to returning to training in the holosuite, but I cannot ignore the fact that you seem more... distant.»
«Like I said... I just need more time and some space,» Jadzia replied, slightly annoyed.
«Time for what, exactly?» Worf couldn't help but ask her, not understanding what she might be referring to with that particular request of hers. Time? he found himself asking again, this time to himself, as the woman in front of him seemed to grow more and more nervous at him, increasingly uncomfortable for some not-so-well-specified reason. After a few moments of silence, however, it seemed that Jadzia had finally come to a conclusion, for she seemed to take a slightly more assertive stance, and the look in her eyes as she met those of her husband caused the Klingon to tremble internally, who found himself foreshadowing something not particularly good from the situation.
«When I was attacked by Dukat, I lost contact with my symbiote and, as I'm sure you've read from the medical report, Julian was forced to keep us disconnected for a certain amount of time before we were reunited, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to save us both...»
Worf, who was wondering where this was going, nodded absentmindedly, motioning for her to proceed, «During the few hours Julian was racing against time to save us both, I was... conscious.»
The Klingon gave her a look that could pass for highly surprised in any other humanoid on the station, leading him to ask, «Conscious? What do you mean... conscious?»
«Jadzia, without Dax, was present...» tried to explain Dax, struggling to find the right words to explain a concept that might seem alien to anyone who wasn't a Trill or hadn't studied their physiology and the techniques involved in symbiont-host bonding in depth.
«And he has... I have... felt the same feelings I thought I had for you... for another person.»
Worf, hearing his wife's confession, froze: he would have expected anything but that. He loved Jadzia deeply, and was honoured when she had agreed to marry him a few months earlier. Just as he had been honoured when, a few weeks before the accident, they had started making plans to have a child: Doctor Bashir, after a whole series of tests, had been positive about the possibility of the two of them being able to conceive a new life, despite the different physiology of their respective species. What Jadzia had just told him was a bolt from the blue. Literally.
For her part, Dax waited, tense, for the Klingon's reaction: knowing him as she did, she knew she had to give him enough time to be able to absorb the blow he had just suffered before even thinking about consoling him. It would not have been fair to him or to his honour.
Finally, the imposing Klingon asked her between his teeth, not really wanting to know the answer, but feeling compelled to ask nonetheless, «Who would this... person... be for whom you discovered you had these kinds of feelings?»
The U.S.S. Destiny, a Sovereign-class starship, had been docked at Deep Space 9 shortly after Dr. Bashir performed surgery on Jadzia and the symbiont Dax; among its crew members could be found the young Ensign Ezri Tigan, Trill, who was serving as assistant to the ship's Counselor.
The vessel had been recalled from its patrol shortly after the attack, when Bashir had found himself fighting against time to save Lieutenant Commander Dax's life: the risk of failure was quite high, and with Destiny in the area with at least one unjoined Trill among its officers, in case it became necessary to bring Dax back to Trillius Prime, it was surely the best hope of survival he could be given.
Captain Raymer, Commanding Officer of the imposing vessel, had ordered Ensign Tigan, at the request of Captain Sisko and recommendation of his Counselor, to take charge of a special case aboard the starbase: Commander Worf.
The Klingon, in fact, had not at all recovered from the hard blow dealt him by what would soon become his ex-wife, to the point of spending most of his free time (and not only that) in one of Quark's holosuites, the one where Vic Fontaine's programme was always running.
At the same time, Jadzia had requested, and been granted, a short leave of absence that would allow her to go to Trillius Prime to visit her family and, at the same time, tie up some loose ends that had been left untied for far too long. Benjamin, who underneath suspected the real reason why Jadzia had wanted a divorce from Worf and requested a leave of absence, had limited himself to granting her approval and recommending that she take all the time she needed: on Deep Space 9 they would be waiting for her return.
Descending from the platform where she had been deposited by the Destiny teleporter, Jadzia looked around until she spotted the slim, lanky figure of her father, Kela, waiting for her not far from the complex that operated the orbital transporters.
The man had changed a great deal since the last time they had seen each other; he had recently lost his wife, his other daughter was who knows where, and he had just almost lost his eldest daughter at the front. Life had not been easy for him.
As soon as the man spotted the young woman, he came towards her and held her so tightly that the daughter found herself struggling until Kela put her down, pulling her away from him at arm's length to look at her from head to toe.
«You have no idea how happy I am to have you here, Jadzia! I feared the worst, I don't know if I could take the hit,» Kela told her, a relieved smile opening his face from ear to ear, holding her close to him again. When he finally let her go, his daughter smiled back at him and took his hands between her own, «I am happy to be here with you too, father.»
Both of them walked, chatting about this and that, to the house where Jadzia had spent her teenage years and up to her application to Starfleet Academy and the hard work she had done to be accepted into the symbiosis program, run by the Symbiosis Commission. The same Commission, to be clear, that imposed the very strict rule that two guests could not resume a previous relationship (they could not, therefore, re-associate), in order to provide as many varied experiences as possible to their symbiont.
Once they had arrived at their destination, Kela let her daughter go and put away the few items she had brought with her and headed for the kitchen, where she prepared some raktajino, which she knew was one of the young girl's favourite drinks. When Jadzia came out of her room a little later and joined him in the kitchen, a steaming mug was waiting for her on the kitchen table, along with a plate of traditional Trill food; her father had occupied one of the chairs, with an equally hot cup of tea in his hands.
«So,» her father exclaimed as his daughter sat down across from him and began nibbling at the food on the plate in front of her, «how are you?» At the woman's raised eyebrow, he added, «Well, it's been a few years now since you've visited us on Trill... sure, you've always managed to contact us via subspace, but especially in the last couple of good years it's been difficult to have you here with us.»
Jadzia shrugged, returning her attention to her plate, «We all knew this wasn't going to be easy, Father. Being a Starfleet officer is enough of a commitment without a battle, let alone being deployed on the front lines.»
The man huffed slightly, «Symbiont or no symbiont, Jadzia, I know you... you're my daughter.»
Jadzia looked up at her father, slightly puzzled, «I don't know what you're getting at, Dad.»
«Well,» Kela commented, «in your last transmission you told me that you and Worf had split up, signing the divorce papers shortly before you left. I won't deny that I was a little surprised by that, although I didn't particularly agree with your choice when you informed me that you were getting married.»
«You know very well that I am perfectly capable of handling a Klingon, Father. Not only have I grown up, but I also have the memories and experiences of seven other guests ready to help me in case of extreme necessity,» Jadzia remarked, with a small smile, knowing full well her father's strong reluctance when they had been confronted about his decision to accept Worf's proposal.
«But,» he added before his father could comment, «you were right. We weren't right for each other, despite the experiences of seven hosts that the symbiont has provided me with and always will.»
«What changed your mind, Jadzia? Don't get me wrong, I'm somewhat relieved, but I'd be really curious to know what happened.» Kela was genuinely curious as to what had possibly changed the mind of her daughter, who had always been a very stubborn person and determined to get what she wanted, not necessarily in accordance with the wishes and expectations of her family.
«Well dad,» Jadzia began, «that's what I wanted to talk to you about.» Her father invited her to proceed with a gentle gesture of encouragement, accompanied by the remark «I imagine you'll still be working together, it's going to be difficult,» to which Dax nodded with a half smile.
«Sure, we'll keep working together. And yes, it will probably be difficult, but it's also not fair for either of us to ask for a transfer because of what happened. We'll know how to adapt.» After that, she began to explain to him exactly what had happened from Sisko's departure with the Defiant, leaving her in charge of the station, to the attack by the possessed Dukat, to Bashir's fight against time to save the lives of both her and the symbiote, pointing out that for a time Jadzia and Dax had been separated to allow the Chief Medical Officer to work his own miracle.
«Now, in the time that Jadzia and Dax's consciousnesses have been forcibly separated, I have come to realise that, in fact, as much as I appreciate Klingon culture... Worf was not the right person for me. I didn't love him the way I should have. In that particular moment of suspension, my thoughts were not of him, but of another person, whom I probably really love.»
«And why did you come here to tell me that?» Kela couldn't help but ask the question, which arose spontaneously.
«Well,» Jadzia seemed slightly uncomfortable answering him, «because if I could find her again, and it's not exactly certain that I can do it here, it could have some serious repercussions... consequences. And you're my family, you have every right to know that. And it's better that I tell you than that you hear it from someone else.»
«I would be inclined to comment,» the man opposite her observed, «that your sister is your family too.»
Jadzia dismissed his comment with a gesture, before chilling him in the act of taking a sip of tea, «There is a strong risk that I may never set foot on Trillius Prime again.»
The man became a statue, the cup suspended in the air on its way to his lips to allow him to take a sip of the still hot drink. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he set the cup down on the table and asked his daughter: «Jadzia, my little one, what is the matter with you?» When the young woman in front of him finished explaining what had happened less than two years ago, that a delegation of Trill scientists led by Dr. Lenara Kahn had come to Deep Space 9 to create an artificial wormhole, and that she and Lenara had grown dangerously close because of their symbionts and had fallen in love, and that Lenara had decided to return to Trillius Prime without defying the laws of the Symbiosis Commission, the man was momentarily speechless.
When he finally regained the use of his speech, he asked her, «So let me get this straight: even though there are strict laws about it, even though you are required to preserve the life of your symbiont and offer it as many experiences as possible - as you also swore to do before accepting the Dax symbiont - you are not going to give up?»
When the daughter shook her head firmly, the man asked, genuinely curious, «What is so special about this woman that you would ignore everything you have worked so hard for, Jadzia? This is a step that is likely to be more than it can handle, you know that.»
«In addition to having far more in common with us than the two previous hosts of the respective symbiotes, she is a very intelligent and strong woman,» Jadzia tried to explain to him, trying to sketch in a few words the essence of Dr. Kahn, whom she considered to be a very energetic and confident woman who could balance her where Worf had never been able to. Inevitably, Kela found himself wondering if she really expected the woman who had so adamantly refused to break Trill's laws regarding re-association to now be willing to take that step. What led her to believe that she would risk everything this time, if she had previously refused to do so, even though it seemed from her daughter's words that the other scientist felt the same way?
Jadzia knew her father's questions were well-founded. He was right to doubt and to point out that not everything would necessarily go as she wished: the first time, after all, it had not gone exactly as she had wished. The after-effects of that event had been felt a lot in the following months, from which she had managed to come out with the help of her closest friends. It was also around this time, more or less, that she had grown close to Worf without particularly realizing it, thanks in part to Curzon's passion for Klingons.
It had to be said, however, that she herself had an inclination to look favourably on their culture, taking several opportunities in the past to deepen her knowledge of that race, but after the recent experience she had realised that this was not enough to 'justify' her marriage to Worf.
Before she could answer him, her father took both her hands: «Know, however, that if you have decided to go through with this stand, I will support you. If you are so sure that you love this woman, even if you have to go against the Trill laws, I will always be at your side. I may not be able to agree with you on some of your decisions, including this one, I admit, but you are still my daughter. My first duty, always, will be to you. If you think it's worth risking everything for this person, even a second time, then go for it!»
She smiled at him, relieved and, for the first time since they had sat down at the table, much more relaxed. Clasping his hands in turn, she replied, «Thank you, Father. You don't know how important it is for me to know that you are on my side, despite your doubts and your disagreement.»
Then she admitted, without thinking too much about it: «I am afraid that you will reject me again this time. I am now completely certain that my feelings for you are... mine, rather than Dax's. Certainly having memories of Torias has had a great influence, I cannot deny it,» she continued, «but I have had the chance to realise that those feelings were born and took root in me, growing more and more as time went by. But yes, I am afraid: Lenara, fortunately, did not have to suffer a momentary separation from her symbiont. And I wouldn't wish it on her either, honestly...»
She didn't have time to continue talking when there was a gentle knock at the front door.
Kela stood up, signalling her daughter to sit quietly and finish her raktajino and plate, and walked out of the kitchen to see who was at the door. Left alone, Jadzia calmly took a sip of the strong Klingon coffee her father had prepared for her as soon as they arrived at the house, but she was just in time to put down her cup when she heard her father open the front door and ask the unknown person to identify himself. What stopped her from bringing a forkful of food to her mouth was the familiar voice that answered her father. Moments later, she heard the door close again and two sets of footsteps heading towards the kitchen.
Jadzia had half risen from her chair when Kela and Lenara Kahn entered the small, but neat and tidy room; the Trill scientist had a particularly tense expression on her face, pale and drawn and with deep circles under her eyes, as if she hadn't slept much recently. Waves of tension emanated from her body, making the air instantly crackle and so thick that it felt as if it could be cut with a knife.
Commander Dax, now fully upright, took two uncertain steps towards the other woman, completely unaware that his father had very discreetly left the kitchen to give them the space they needed for the inevitable confrontation.
«Lenara, what are you doing here?» Jadzia seemed to have finally regained the use of speech and, after metaphorically taking a deep breath, had found the courage to take the first step to break the ice. She didn't have the slightest idea what Lenara was doing there, or how she had learned of her arrival and who she was going to stay with (though the choice of going to her childhood home might have been the most logical one).
The other scientist took a few more moments before answering, studying the officer in front of her for a moment, trying to understand the changes that had taken place in the woman over the last three years, trying to understand who Jadzia had really become, how her recent events had transformed her.
When she finally answered, her voice came out a little laboured, almost as if she was no longer so used to using her vocal cords: «I needed to see you, to make sure you were all right. Really well. Rumours have been circulating...»
Jadzia couldn't hold back any longer, instinctively taking another step forward with the intention of holding Lenara close, but Lenara, realising her intentions, took a step backwards in turn, keeping her distance from the other woman, who stopped in her tracks, a little hurt.
«Don't do that,» Lenara enjoined her, «don't embrace me as if I were the most important person to you, when we both know that's not the case.»
«Lenara,» Jadzia whispered with tears in her eyes and not fully understanding what the other was telling her, «what the…?!»
The other Trill shook her head, the tension still reverberating from her body, «When I left DS9, you did everything you could to convince me to stay with you, professing all your love for me... Now, I'm not saying I hoped you would chase me back to Trill, but yes at one point I wished with all my heart that you had, to prove to my brother that the love I felt for you was well placed. That he was wrong, that it wasn't just an infatuation due to the memories held by our symbionts!»
«Lenara, I couldn't have known. I spent months mourning your departure. Your words seemed so... definitive...» Jadzia couldn't believe what she was hearing: was Lenara really saying what she thought she was saying to her?
«I was afraid, Jadzia! Afraid of losing a lifetime of studies, my career, my home planet,» Lenara retorted, continuing to remain at a distance from her.
«And you preferred to lose me.» There was an accusatory tone in the words Jadzia spoke, shoulders slightly hunched, gaze pained and unable to look the other woman in the eye.
«I took the easy way out, but when I was finally convinced to return to you... there was Worf by your side...» Lenara seemed in no mood to forgive her for the decision she had made a few months earlier, when she had (mistakenly) accepted Lieutenant Commander Worf's marriage proposal.
«Oh no...» whispered Jadzia, who would also have continued speaking had Lenara not added, then gestured to leave, «You had moved on, and I had been trapped in my love for you. I came only to see you. I demand nothing more of you.»
«Lenara, wait!» Jadzia quickly covered the distance that separated her from the other woman, grabbing her by the shoulders and holding her, turning her towards herself, «Please look at me! I know I did everything wrong, I realise I let Dax influence me. I was weak too, I had a void to fill and I took the easy way out and I was wrong. But I, Jadzia, not Dax and not Torias, am in love with you. I was before and I am now. Dax was protecting me using his experiences, and I let myself be influenced because I was hurt, but when Dax and I were separated my feelings resurfaced and I was able to regain control.»
Very gently, Dax forced Lenara to raise her head and look into her eyes, «I came to Trill for you, Lenara. To see you, because I want everything from you...»
Benjamin Sisko, Emissary of the Prophets and DS9's commanding officer for more than a century now, was sitting at his office desk, his back to the entrance to his office and his eyes lost in the maze of space. The events of the last few days were weighing heavily on his shoulders, to the point where he felt a deep desire, a deep need to get away from everything and everyone, to detach himself from what had happened.
Sure, they had managed to emerge victorious from the clash of the Chin'toka system, but the collapse of the Celestial Temple and the fact that Jadzia had risked death just because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time had completely destabilised him. Add to that the Bajorans' justified fear of being abandoned by the Prophets, which is why they turned to their Emissary, and he felt utterly powerless.
There had been little point in talking to the young Counsellor Trill Ezri Tigan, who had remained on the station at his specific request to assist Lieutenant Commander Worf in his process of "accepting" what had happened to him since he had set foot on the base immediately after the encounter at the Chin'toka system. Although the Ensign was quite skilled at his job, even though she had not yet completed the apprenticeship/training period he was expected to complete once she left the Academy, Sisko could not find the peace, the quiet he sought.
He had tried over and over again to contact the Prophets, to seek confrontation with the aliens living within the Celestial Temple, even comfort, but without any real success. He had been visited in his quarters, shortly before his departure, by a vision from the Prophets themselves, who had expressly asked him not to go to Cardassia. He had disobeyed that request, obeying Admiral Ross's orders. And now, with an attack by Dukat, something particularly bad must have happened, to the point where the Prophets seemed to have turned their backs on the Bajoran people.
And it's my fault, he found himself thinking, all my fault. If only I had listened to them, Jadzia would not have risked death at the hands of Dukat and the Prophets would not have abandoned their chosen people. They wouldn't have abandoned me. I failed as an Emissary... and although Jadzia survived, for which I will be eternally grateful, I feel that I have failed, for the first time in my life, as a Starfleet officer.
Perhaps I need time to think, he mused as he pointed his feet to the floor so that the chair could be turned and he could face the terminal on his desk. It would help me clarify the whole situation, make me really think. But... I can't do it here, not now. I need to leave, I need a change of scenery... and I need to find a way to put things right.
With a couple of taps, the screen lit up, allowing him to log in and fill out a request for extended leave from active duty and the front lines, explaining in part the needs and reasons behind his decision; after a final check of the document to make sure everything was in order, he sent it to Starfleet Command on Earth.
Lieutenant Commander Worf, Deep Space 9's Strategic Operations Officer, was completely out of himself. Ever since Dax's departure, but really ever since that unpleasant conversation that led to their divorce, the imposing Klingon had been unable to get his head around the turn of events.
For days now he had refused to see Counsellor Tigan, preferring to shut himself away in the holosuite where the programme simulating Vic Fontaine's club in 1960s Las Vegas, which Dr Bashir had created a few months earlier and which had won over all the officers on the base, was running constantly.
Due to the wrath of the Klingon, even the singer's band, clearly unaware that they were holograms and not flesh and blood, wanted to quit and leave the club.
With that said, she left the hologram and headed towards the Klingon, sitting at the counter with a glass of what appeared to be liquor in front of him. As she approached, she sighed. This was going to be a long and arduous task, but it would certainly produce important results if carried out with a minimum of patience. She had no intention of giving in to early adversity just because he was dealing with a Klingon.
Jadzia Dax and Lenara Kahan were walking in the small garden in front of Jadzia's childhood home. They walked side by side, talking softly to each other, their arms constantly brushing against each other’s, for fear that what they were experiencing was a dream that would soon be over.
Once again Lenara's thoughts went to Trill laws: the moment she was having with Jadzia was sweet, and there seemed to be nothing wrong with it, but what it implied was an important affront to their people’s culture. When she had felt ready to give up everything for Jadzia, she had discovered that she was alone, that she had missed her chance: she was not yet sure she could retrace her steps.
Jadzia, still sensing the other woman's tension, which apparently had not entirely disappeared, stopped suddenly, taking her hand and forcing her to stop in turn: «Lenara, come here please.»
She waited for the other woman to stop and turn towards her, before taking her other hand as well and adding, «Look, I know it's been a hard and bad time for both of us and I know I've done things that have hurt you deep down... and it's going to be hard for both of us to heal...»
Lenara looked into Jadzia's eyes, her gaze was stern, but her lips betrayed a desire to kiss her. She still forced herself to hold back, she had to be told and confirmed that nothing would come between them this time. She hoped Jadzia really was ready for this step. She allowed himself one word, "But...?"
«But,» and here Jadzia barely smiled at the haste Kahn seemed to be in at the moment, «it will be alright, I promise. You'll never lose me again, okay?»
She drew her to herself, squeezing her gently, «I definitely have a lot of flaws, but... having a 'little Curzon inside me telling me to be impulsive.... to ignore the rules' is certainly not one of them!»
The joke had the desired effect: Lenara was able to relax slightly more in her grip, clutching the other woman in turn and returning the embrace more serenely, her face sunk into the hollow between her shoulder and neck.
Jadzia lost herself in Lenara's hair, and in it she whispered: «I love you... I loved you from the first moment.»
Lenara could not answer her. She wanted to tell her that she loved her, but the words still lingered on her lips. So, she merely said, «I will go with you.»
The two women parted slightly, just enough to look into each other's eyes again. Jadzia masked the pain of not hearing back with an "I love you," but she was willing to wait, preferring to take refuge in a bit of practicality and starting a conversation made up of commitments and routines.
«You'll be able to continue your studies on Deep Space 9, in fact we could really use someone like you right now. The tunnel seems to have disappeared!»
The other scientist's attention was now focused on her life's work. Lenara and Jadzia took another step away, letting their intertwined hands hold them together. They continued walking, talking about tetryons and quantum fluctuations, but the tension was gone: the two souls had finally found each other and would have time to heal each other.
When they returned to the house, they noticed two figures standing in front of the entrance, arguing animatedly: one was Jadzia's father, the other was Bejal Otner, Lenara's brother and a member of the team that had visited DS9 three years ago. The latter seemed to be particularly exaggerated, given the broad gestures he was accompanying what he was animatedly saying to the older man, his own words carried by the light wind that had begun to blow - and which had forced the two women to decide to return.
Lenara slowed to a stop, forcing Jadzia to do the same, although she had moved a few steps ahead of her before being yanked by her companion, with whom she was still holding hands. Dax turned to the other woman with a questioning look. She knew that Bejal had pushed for his sister to return to Trillius Prime a few years ago, fearful that some of their people's most sacred laws would be broken.
«What is it, Lenara?» Jadzia retraced her steps, grabbing her other hand as well and massaging the backs of both hands with her thumbs, somehow trying to get her to relax and calm down with that simple gesture. The other woman took a few deep breaths before answering, «Bejal is still of the same opinion, he still believes that I should not break the laws of our people, so much so that today he wanted to stop me from coming to you at all costs...»
She looked up at the other Trill, the pain that had seemed to have been able to disappear in the previous hours returning to show itself in her blue eyes. Jadzia's heart clenched, but she didn't have time to do anything about it when Bejal glanced over her shoulder, leaving the conversation he was having with Kela behind and heading nervously and angrily towards the pair.
The man appeared to have aged a great deal since leaving DS9 with his sister and Dr Hanor Prem: his face was hollow, his eyes were slightly sunken and the wrinkles in the corners of his mouth, nose and eyes gave the impression that Bejal Otner had been under a lot of pressure and worry.
His gaze at Jadzia was filled with a deep anger, as if he blamed her for whatever had plagued him so far, but before he could do anything, Kela reached out and firmly grabbed one of the younger man's arms, ordering him, «I'd say you've done enough damage, young man. I would leave before something irreparable happens. Whatever decision your sister will make, it is not for us to tell her what she must or must not do...»
Before Kela could finish his sentence, Bejal shook him off badly, risking sending the older man sprawling. Lenara, for her part, managed to grab Jadzia just in time before the latter reacted, giving all the impression (and probably would have) that she wanted to hit Otner with a couple of well-placed punches.
«Jadzia!» Lenara forced her to look into her eyes, both hands grabbing first her arms to turn her towards herself and then her face, forcing her to look into her eyes full of anger and smiling at her, trying to calm her down.
«Let it go, we both know it's not worth it! And you're not a violent person at all, despite the fact that you have a passion for Klingon culture that I will never understand...» she added, a slightly tense expression on her face, as if she was afraid that the other woman would actually do something thoughtless.
Jadzia, who had instinctively grabbed Lenara's waist in reaction, fought with all her might to try and calm herself and not do something she would surely regret later, taking a few deep breaths as she lowered her head to rest her forehead against the other woman's. When she finally seemed to have calmed down, Lenara gave her one last encouraging smile before leaving her and turning back to her brother, who was still quite altered.
«I know very well the risks I will be taking, Bejal. We've talked and talked about it at length, but we both know that I don't belong on Trillius Prime any more, ever since I got to know Jadzia better on Deep Space 9...» Lenara glanced sidelong towards Dax, before returning her focus to her brother, «I know it will be difficult, but I am prepared to accept even exile to be with her. It's a decision I should have had the courage to make three years ago, but I'm thankful I have the chance to make it now.»
When, at last, the two women boarded the passenger transport bound for Deep Space 9, both Trills seemed, on balance, relieved to be leaving the planet and all its trappings behind. Jadzia's father had escorted them to the centre of the Federation transporter which would have allowed them to board the vessel.
The voyage proceeded without any kind of incident and, sharing a cabin, they spent most of their time in each other's company, studying some PADDs containing reports of the disappearance of the Bajoran wormhole and talking about various topics, all topped off with a few hours of sleep in each other's arms.
In all the days they had spent together, Lenara had still not found the courage to tell Jadzia clearly, to tell her in words, that she loved her, although she had demonstrated her feelings several times and had rarely left the other woman's side, giving the impression that she did not want to leave her now that she had finally found her.
When they arrived at the station, they found Dr. Julian Bashir and Quark, the Ferengi who ran one of the most famous bars along the Promenade, waiting for them. The fact that he was there, normally never far from his bar and the profits he could make from it, made Jadzia raise an eyebrow as she and her companion greeted them both warmly.
«I wasn't expecting a welcoming committee,» Commander Dax chuckled as the four of them made their way to the living circle, specifically the section where the Officers' quarters were located.
Quark, ever the inconvenient man, was, as he had been three years ago, curious about the story behind the two Trills' relationship; but if he had asked Julian Bashir and Major Kira for information the first time, on this occasion he had seen fit to speak to those directly concerned, despite the look of disapproval on the doctor's face.
«... and now Doctor Kahn, who if I remember correctly was Torias' wife, has returned to the base.»
Jadzia gave him a look between the amused and the slightly annoyed as the little group continued walking. Lenara, who was holding her hand, fingers intertwined, let out a slight, almost inaudible sigh of resignation: she had not kept a good memory of the Ferengi since her previous visit.
«Quark, at that time Lenara had not yet been born,» Dax tried to explain, «and the Kahn symbiont was united with a woman named Nilani. For his part, Dax was hosted by Torias.»
Lenara intervened, quietly, «And it was Nilani and Torias who were married.»
She took a deep breath before adding, «But they were only married for a short time, as Torias died in an accident... thus making Nilani a widow.»
Not seeming to pick up on the slight tension that had been created by talking about Torias and Nilani, Quark scratched his ear slightly, grumbling, «And how simple was that? The Denobulans have a marriage policy that is significantly easier to understand!»
Bashir, who had remained silent up to that point, coughed, as if to reprimand Quark for something he shouldn't have said, leading Quark to jump up with, «What? What did I say wrong? They're going to get married, aren't they? Or since they've already been married, there won't be any need?»
For their part, Jadzia and Lenara cast a furtive, slightly embarrassed glance at each other as all four of them approached their quarters.
«Surely that's something we'll have to talk about at some point!» Lenara took the floor, as if to take Jadzia out of her embarrassment, adding, «Considering that we've only just arrived!»
For his part, Quark felt free to continue, «Speaking of marriage, your ex has been going on about tearing up one of the holographic suites for days now, could you maybe talk to him?»
Bashir, who had been trying as discreetly as possible to silence the Ferengi or, at any rate, get him to change the subject, huffed, exasperated and vaguely stymied a «Quark!!!» It had been days now since Quark had done anything but complain about it, but to go and complain to Jadzia was really inappropriate. Especially now that the Trill seemed to have finally found herself.
Lenara's reaction was immediate, as she increased her grip on Jadzia's hand: the subject of "Worf" was still an open wound, probably the reason why she had not yet been able to express her love for her companion in words.
Jadzia tensed in turn, but still tried to answer nonchalantly: «Of course, I'll talk to him, don't worry. Obviously,» she turned to the other woman, «if that's alright with you, Lenara.»
Lenara nodded, trying to smile at her, but still unable to loosen her grip on Dax's hand.
In the meantime, the four of them had finally arrived in front of Jadzia's quarters, and she couldn't help but notice that, until a few weeks ago, this was the room she shared with Worf.
She hesitated for a moment before saying: «Perhaps we should have a different accommodation assigned to us...»
Bashir immediately realised what the problem was: «Yes, I think that would be wise.»
But Quark, for his part, didn't seem to be about to give up at all: «He keeps saying that you went off and left him in disgrace, that you had to do that thing I did with Grilka.»
At those words, Jadzia seemed to retrieve a shelved memory, something lingering between her memories and Dax's, leading her to suddenly exclaim, «The Klingon divorce!»
She looked first at Quark, then at Lenara, before adding, «I really need to end this thing with Worf, it's gone on too long!»
She kissed Lenara softly on the lips, after which he hurried to the turbolift they had just used to get to that section of the base, leaving them all looking between surprised and puzzled as he asked, «Computer, where is Lieutenant Commander Worf?»
For a few moments, Dr Bashir, Dr Kahn and Quark stared at each other, puzzled, without a word. Finally, Quark spoke once more: «Come on, what are you standing around for? Doctor, open this door!»
Doctor Bashir barely arched an eyebrow at Quark's tone, but he did as he was asked, using a priority medical code to gain access to what was rightfully Jadzia's quarters. Lenara hesitated, almost as if afraid of invading a space that was not hers, but eventually followed Bashir inside, part of the suitcases in hand.
Quark, who had followed them into Jadzia's quarters, pressed them: «Shall we go? I have no intention of leaving those two alone in one of my holosuites! You have no idea of the cost of repairing even the smallest component... and I don't want them engaging in some destructive Klingon ritual!» Rolling his eyes, half exasperated, Bashir grumbled: «All things considered, you've got a point... come on, I'd better be there too, because with these Klingon rituals you never know what might happen!»
The dance floor of Vic's Las Vegas Lounge was surprisingly deserted: the tables had been moved to the sides, except for a single round table with two chairs; the stage was empty, except for Vic Fontaine, with his jacket off and his collared shirt undone. The hologram tried to fill the otherwise desolate room by rehearsing a few notes from I'm a Fool to Want You, a song written and sung several centuries earlier by the famous 20th century singer Frank Sinatra.
In one corner of the room several chairs were piled up, placed next to some small sofas. As Jadzia entered the holosuite, she saw the imposing figure of the only Klingon on the station, Lieutenant Commander Worf, sitting in the half-light. Unlike usual, he was not wearing the metal sash that proudly adorned his chest, his uniform was oddly unbuttoned and his hair was loose, in front of him was a glass filled with plum juice. He was not alone.
I'm a fool to want you
To want a love that can't be true
The two of them were talking excitedly and no one, not even Vic Fontaine, had noticed Dax's arrival. The Trill, for her part, hesitated: she was trying to collect her thoughts, to find the right words to confront the Klingon she had, in a sense, loved. But who now stood between her and her future with Lenara.
A love that's there for others too
I'm a fool to hold you
At that precise moment, Vic missed a note, having first and finally noticed the figure of Lieutenant Commander Dax. The singer's off-key interrupted the conversation between Worf and the young Ensign Trill (judging by the spots on her face and the rank on her neck) and caused the two to look up, trying to figure out what was going on.
Worf and Jadzia's gazes met, and Fontaine, knowing full well that he was 'only' a hologram, began to break into a cold sweat, fearing that the situation might escalate. For his part, Worf stiffened so much that the Ensign placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him down: after all the work they had done, it was a shame to spoil the results they seemed to have arrived at.
«Let her speak,» she admonished, «she came here to clear the air, not to start a fight!»
To seek a kiss, not mine alone
To share a kiss that devil has known
Since the Klingon didn't seem to want to make the first move, the very young Trill decided it would be best if she took the initiative, getting up from the settee and, as Jadzia approached at a slow pace, introducing herself, «Commander Dax. I am Ensign Ezri Tigan, the station Counselor...» She smiled in embarrassment, «pPracticing Counsellor, actually!»
Jadzia arched an eyebrow, clearing her throat: «And since when, exactly, have we had a Counselor on the station?»
«Captain Sisko...» Tigan didn't have time to finish his sentence, when Worf stood up and approached the two women and intervened: «Jadzia, I thought you were staying on Trillius Prime.»
Time and time again I said I'd leave you
Time and time again I went away
Ensign Tigan almost seemed to want to overlap the two: the therapeutic course she had undertaken with the Klingon led her, in some way, to want to protect him. And although it was strange that the petite Ensign would defend a Klingon warrior of that size, the effect Jadzia felt was just that, a barrier keeping them apart.
She looked proudly at her ex-husband: «I never had any plans to stay here... my place has always been here, on Deep Space Nine...»
Worf was equally adamant: «My place is here, too.»
Jadzia knew Worf well and knew how pride would keep him from admitting to any weakness, and how the honour he sought in his own actions would require him to stand proud even in such a situation.
She decided, therefore, not to belittle what the Klingon was feeling and to offer him a challenge: «We will have to get used to it, then. And I know it won't be easy for you.»
Worf shifted Ezri slightly so that he could get even closer to Jadzia; «I accepted the divorce even though I did not fully understand the reasons for it.»
But then would come the time when I would need you
As Jadzia moved to the side to have more room in her confrontation with Worf, the doors to the holosuite opened to let in Dr. Bashir, Quark and Dr. Lenara Kahn. This time Vic noticed the entrance of the newcomers and stopped singing, leaving the stage to hurry over to them and explain what was happening between Jadzia and Worf.
Quark, for his part, didn't want to hear any arguments; this was, after all, his holosuite, and after all, the program could be considered his own, even though it had been designed by Dr. Bashir. He shrugged Vic off a few steps and launched into a boisterous incitement: «Tell him, you stupid beast.»
Bashir and Lenara had fallen slightly behind, joined by the hologram, who was softly explaining the situation to them.
For her part, Jadzia had tried hard to suppress a smile; she hadn't realised they were coming until Quark had made himself so obvious. She had found herself at a loss as to how to broach the subject with Worf, knowing full well how difficult it had been for the Klingon to accept the whole situation, but now she seemed to have found the words she had struggled to locate since seeing him again: «You want a divorce according to Klingon rituals!»
For his part, Worf nodded solemnly: «I must safeguard not only my honour, but yours as well. And you will have to leave the House of Martok!»
The Trill Starfleet Officer found it very easy to utter the following words, also in a solemn tone: «Worf, son of Mogh, I grant you a divorce!»
With that, she delivered a mighty slap to the Klingon's face, causing Lenara, whose eyes had moistened, to bring both hands to her mouth in surprise at the turn of events.
In the meantime, Vic Fontaine had left Bashir and the others to return to the stage, where he had resumed singing I'm a Fool to Want You; the lights, almost as if they had a life of their own, seemed to be closing in on Jadzia and Worf.
Time and time again I said I'd leave you
Time and time again I went away
«N'Gos tlhogh cha!»
The Klingon formula for divorce was proudly recited by Jadzia: the marriage was officially broken, by both Federation and Klingon standards. Witnesses present could have confirmed the regularity of the ritual, as required by Klingon tradition.
Bashir turned to Quark, intrigued by how a species as rich in spirituality and complex rituals as the Klingon could resolve a marriage with a simple sentence, «Is that all?»
«No, no, there's still something missing!» Quark let a smirk escape and, after a moment, Jadzia completed the ritual by spitting in Worf's face who, with a rather indignant look, wiped his face with one hand, then answered with a belligerent scream at the Trill.
«Now it's over!» Quark was grinning openly, «Except I got a big kiss afterwards!»
Bashir arched an eyebrow, wondering if the Ferengi was teasing him, «A kiss?»
Quark shrugged, before stating, a smug «Ah, what I do to women...!!», causing an exasperated Bashir to shake his head.
During the exchange of banter between the physician and the Ferengi, Worf had strutted away from Jadzia and approached Ezri Tigan, who had given the two "contenders" some space in the hope that the long hours of therapy might have actually been of some use. For his part, the imposing Klingon seemed relieved at last and when the young Councilor handed him the metal sash that bore his decorations and the emblem of the House to which he belonged, he put it on with renewed pride.
After that, the two walked towards the exit, passing Bashir, Quark and Dr Khan.
Dr. Bashir and Ezri greeted each other with a faint smile, while the Klingon reserved a low growl for the Ferengi, who quickly retreated a step, terrified. The next instant, Worf's eyes met Lenara's and the two did not stop staring at each other until the imposing officer had to turn his back on her to leave the holosuite.
At that point Julian grabbed Quark by the arm, dragging him away before the Ferengi ruined everything with one of his usual outbursts, and only Jadzia and Lenara remained in Vic's Lounge, always accompanied by the words of Vic, who had found his jacket and was now wearing it as elegantly as ever.
But then would come the time when I would need you
And once again these words I'll have to say
Gently, he wrapped both arms around her neck and kissed her softly on the lips, before looking into her blue eyes, «I love you.»
After that, he let go of a long embrace, proudly reciprocated by Jadzia, who sank her own face into his hair, tears of emotion streaming down her face.
Take me back, I love you
Pity me, I need you
After what seemed like an eternity, the two women parted slightly: Jadzia gently lifted Lenara's face to lose herself in her eyes, before kissing her in turn.