Lieutenant Ezri Dax, Deep Space 9's Counselor and new host to the Dax symbiont, was walking alone along the Promenade, reflecting on what Colonel Kira, the base's new commanding officer following the disappearance of Benjamin Sisko in the Celestial Temple by the Prophets, had told her.

According to one of the reports that sat on the desk of the office overlooking DS9's Ops each morning, a passenger transport from Trillius Prime would be docking at the base by the next day, bringing a group of scientists to resume studies on the Celestial Temple and artificial tunnels in general.
Needless to say, among the scholars was none other than Dr. Lenara Kahn, one of the most experienced researchers on artificial tunnels, who a few years earlier had been part of the first scientific expedition to Deep Space 9.

Thanks to the Dax symbiote, Ezri kept the memories of the turbulent days that followed the arrival of Dr. Kahn and her team on the base, all of which ended in an open and bleeding wound for both the scientist and Dax's then host: Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax. Lenara, in fact, had preferred the Trill laws to Jadzia, refusing to enter into a relationship with her and, consequently, being exiled for indulging in feelings that, perhaps, even she did not fully understand, but which would have been a serious offence to their society.
The fact was that the two women had somehow known each other in a previous 'life', thanks to the previous hosts of the two symbionts, Dax and Kahn respectively. Torias Dax and Nilani Kahn were young, full of love for each other, but without having really had the chance to live their lives and love to the full. Or rather: Torias had not been able to live his life to the full, as he had died in an accident during a piloting test to break the maximum warp speed, i.e. warp 10.
What, in fact, did the Trill laws prohibit? The so-called re-association of two joined Trills, since it prevented the most different experiences possible for the symbionts. There was a risk, in fact, that it was the symbionts who wanted something to the detriment of their hosts, who thus could not override their will.

Ezri Dax, for her part, allowed herself to profoundly disagree with this deep-rooted belief of her own people, who were certainly not known for their open-mindedness, as she had demonstrated several times over the centuries.
She had prepared herself to become a counsellor, a psychologist, which meant that she was used to approaching everything that concerned the psyche of Trill and non-Trill from a particularly analytical perspective. And despite her adjusting with enormous effort to no less than eight previous lives, she had eventually been able to accept her being a united Trill - despite the fact that it was not her life's aspiration - and to start analysing the sensations, the memories that the symbiont occasionally transmitted to her. And she did not believe that, at least on Jadzia's part, there had been any undue influence of the symbiont in what had happened with Lenara so long ago, although surely Dax had had the slightest influence.
And although she had never met Lenara in person, something told her that the other woman had had a strength of will equal to Jadzia's and that, in the end, her refusal had simply been dictated - as indeed it had been - by her own desire not to break Trill laws rather than by a fear of not being able to keep her own symbiont under control.

She leaned against one of the balustrades that overlooked the second level of the Promenade, looking down at the bustle of people who always crowded the base at that time of day. She knew why Kira had found it necessary to inform her of the Trill delegation's arrival: the last time, in fact, had not ended well, and Kira wanted to offer her the same alternative that, on the previous occasion, Captain Sisko had offered Jadzia, to spare her the possible repercussions of meeting the symbiote Khan's new host.
What, however, would it have meant for Ezri herself to meet Lenara? And, turning the question around, what would it have meant for Dr Kahn to see the new host of the Dax symbiont? How had she taken the news of Jadzia's marriage and her death a few months later? Would she have accepted her, despite her history and the fact that two previous guests had died relatively early, even by the standards of the joined Trill?

She had broached the subject with Julian, DS9's Chief Medical Officer with whom she had begun a romantic relationship a few months earlier, who had gotten to know Lenara briefly during her first visit to the station. The man had listened to her attentively, never interrupting her, as she told him what Kira had told her and all her doubts about it, the turmoil and fear she felt in her own chest. Although she had learnt a lot since she had been united with Dax, she still considered herself an insecure person, unable to fully handle the flood of memories, sensations, feelings that the symbiont transmitted to her: she needed someone who, in some way, would give her a hand.
Bashir had done his best, but he had also pointed out to her that, in the end, it was up to her and her alone to make the decision: whatever she chose, he would support her, making it clear that he would not blame her if she decided to take a few days' leave and not be present on the days Lenara and her group of scientists were present.

Ezri knew very well how right Julian was: in the end, despite the advice her friends could offer her, she would be the one to decide, and no one else. Whatever choice she would make, there would be consequences that she would have to face, whether she wanted to or not. But what to do?

The next morning, against all common sense, Ezri Dax stood at the docking bay where the passenger transport scheduled to arrive from Trillius Prime had been directed. With her were Dr. Bashir and Colonel Kira, creating a strange welcoming committee (but then again, with all the changes in the staff ranks, they were still understaffed at key points).

The young woman was quite agitated, despite a symbiote with memories and memories of no less than eight guests at her disposal, and not for the first time the thought occurred to her that perhaps Lenara had hopes of finding Jadzia waiting for her, not others. Especially not others. Ezri wondered for the umpteenth time why she had decided not only to stay, but also to volunteer to welcome the delegation to the base.

Her breath caught momentarily in her throat when she saw a few Trills descend, among whom the graceful, spindly figure of Lenara Khan stood out. Her companions, if Dax's recollections were correct, were not the same as the previous time: Hanor Prem and Bejal Otner were evidently engaged in other research or had not found it necessary to return aboard Deep Space 9 with the woman for further surveying.
Dax lingered briefly behind his colleagues as Kira and Bashir approached to welcome the delegation of scientists to the base, in a kind of strange deja vu that was not entirely coherent. Finally Ezri took courage in both hands, approaching in turn to greet the Trill, head held high and stride confidently, trying to conceal the agitation that still animated her.

Lenara Kahn's blue eyes fixed themselves on her almost immediately: the pain Ezri recognised in them was something quite different, probably deeper and more melancholy, from the feeling of loss still felt by her colleagues and which the young Trill had had to deal with mainly in her early days on the station.
Ezri sketched a smile, embarrassment evident on his face, and offered his right hand, introducing himself: «I am Lieutenant Ezri Dax, station Counselor. Welcome aboard Deep Space 9
Dr. Kahn seemed to almost strain to return the handshake of the young woman in front of her: «Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant Dax. I am...»
«...Lenara Kahn, yes,» Dax finished for her, adding, «I am pleased to finally meet you.»
The two women lingered as they held hands.
«You are...» Lenara restrained herself. She did not want to make young Trill more uncomfortable than she herself was in turn. But Ezri intercepted her thoughts, seduced by the complicity her symbiont, Dax, felt towards Kahn, the symbiont hosted by the other woman: «...different!»
Lenara whispered the word 'different' again and let go of the girl's hand.
«I know, I get that all the time. I'm not like Jadzia. I mean, I'm her, in so many ways, but I'm also Curzon, Torias...» and she paused, suddenly aware of the bond Torias had with Nilani: the two previous hosts who had been husband and wife, before Torias' death had prematurely widowed the then host of the Kahn symbiont.
Lenara managed a smile, nothing more: too many wounds were reopening at the same time. Ezri recomposed himself, straightening his uniform: «I have always been told very well of you and your work. From what I can tell, you left a good memory on DS9

Julian Bashir inserted himself into the conversation, in an attempt to prevent the situation from becoming even more awkward than it already was, gesturing to the small group of Trill scientists to follow him and, in the process, saying: «Please, this way: I will escort you to your quarters...»
Before walking behind the doctor and her colleagues, Lenara glanced fleetingly at Ezri, as if she had reconsidered and wanted to say something to her, but the girl had been taken under her arm by Kira and the two women had walked in the opposite direction, talking to each other.
With a bitter expression painted on her face, Dr. Kahn resigned herself to hurrying after Dr. Bashir and the other scientists, wondering what had really brought her back to the station: her own research into the artificial tunnels or the hope of finding a revived Jadzia Dax instead?

The following days saw Ezri Dax and Lenara Kahn busy with their work commitments. Astrometric surveys and psychoanalysis sessions were not areas that facilitated encounters between the two women, and even in the rare moments of leisure Lenara had stayed with her colleagues and Ezri had done likewise, to such an extent that they hardly managed to cross paths, even by accident, in the corridors or on the Promenade or anywhere else, recreational or otherwise.

It was, finally, on the eve of the Trill delegation's return to Trillius Prime that the two women managed, by some strange twist of fate, to meet up at Quark's: Julian, due to a sudden medical emergency, had left his appointment with Ezri in a hurry and the girl had found herself alone at the table finishing her meal and gazing wistfully at the empty seat in front of her.
Lenara, who had witnessed the scene from the bar counter in front of a now-empty glass, could not help but seize the opportunity to get closer and finally have a chat with the other Trill: she realised how awkward and difficult the situation had been for both of them in that first and only meeting. She wanted, in some way, to make amends and try to understand who this new guest of Dax's was, who kept Jadzia's memories with her even though she was no longer her.

For Dr. Kahn, those had not been very interesting days from a work point of view, but nevertheless particularly stressful: in every environment she found herself in, she could invariably not help but think of Jadzia and what she had missed out on, with that hasty and clear-cut rejection almost four years earlier. And, now, Jadzia was gone, although a part of her would still survive as long as the Dax symbiont remained alive.
Despite official communications and reports, she hadn't been able to convince herself that Jadzia was dead until she'd set foot back aboard Deep Space 9 and found herself confronted by the station's new Counsellor, at which point a flood of conflicting emotions had washed over her, preventing her from doing anything more than simply standing back and letting the river of words from the young, awkward Trill that now housed the Dax symbiote wash over her.

She could not, however, let that last chance slip away and, clearing her throat to get Ezri's attention, she asked, «May I sit here, Lieutenant?»
Dax gasped, looking up at the scientist. As soon as she recognised her, she blushed visibly and seemed to flinch, but she took her courage in both hands and nodded to her, pointing to the vacant chair in front of her, «What can I do for you,» she corrected herself, «you?»
Lenara took a deep breath as she took a seat: «If it's all the same, we can leave the formalities aside: after all, we are not completely estranged from each other.»
Ezri, for her part, simply answered her with a nod, remaining silent and allowing the other Trill ample time to rearrange her thoughts and process what she wished to tell her or, simply, to know.

Several minutes passed in silence before Lenara dared to take the floor, addressing the issue she was most anxious to address: «I apologise for my behaviour over the past few days and when I arrived at the base: despite the information circulating rather quickly, during the war period, I never wanted to believe that Jadzia was really dead...»
Ezri barely smiled, nervously: «We both know that, somehow, a part of Jadzia will always be alive: in me.»
The other woman assented, but couldn't help but counter bitterly: «It's still not the same thing. And I found that out to my cost on two occasions: when I met Jadzia and when she died. No,» he shrugged his head bitterly, «when I decided not to stay on board four years ago.»

Ezri recognised the regret in Lenara's words and called upon his professional skills to try to support her. He placed the napkin in his hands and tried to smooth it out on the table, then inhaled. Looking up she saw the scientist's blue eyes on her: she was waiting for his word, her nod, which prompted her to give her what she expected to get: «Jadzia suffered a lot, four years ago.»
Lenara tried to maintain some form of demeanour: she knew perfectly well how much pain she had inflicted on Jadzia, and to have it confirmed by the direct - or almost direct - interested party was no consolation at all.
Ezri, meanwhile, felt compelled to specify: «It is one of the most vivid memories I have found in Dax, about that time.»

Lenara gestured away a Ferengi waiter who had approached the table, eager to take an order. Her thoughts were focused on Ezri: «I never really had the courage to go back. Or, at least, to even contact her again.»
The memories of Jadzia and the strength of her feelings were beginning to make their way into Ezri's mind. The young Trill lacked the preparation and discipline to stem that powerful flow of emotion, and she could not help but remind herself in what emergency conditions she had greeted the symbiote Dax and how, where other Trills had had years of preparation for being united, she had only had a 15-minute speech, despite the fact that it was now more than a year since they had united.
She tried to suppress the pain she felt growing inside her, thinking that the woman in front of her was suffering in almost the same way, for a love somehow denied, albeit by herself.

She gritted her teeth, trying to restrain the maggone that was growing in her chest: «I wish I could tell you that she never forgot you, and she probably did. But then...»
The words choked in her throat: growling outpourings of love echoed in her mind, moments of struggle and passionate amplexions, as fierce as only two Klingon souls could share.
Lenara understood: «...but then she got to know someone else better.»
The words burned in her throat: maybe a drink wasn't such a bad idea after all. She looked around, searching for that waiter she had turned away earlier.
Ezri's eyes were still on her: the normally less daring young Trill had found in Jadzia's strength the courage to back up her speech. And Lenara wanted answers: «And did she fall in love with him?»

Ezri shifted uncomfortably in his chair, knowing that the answer she would give would not be the one the other woman wanted to hear: «Yes, she fell in love with him,» she bit his lip, «sorry, maybe that's not what you wanted to hear.»
Lenara still couldn't help but strike while the iron was hot: «Did she really love him? Or was he somehow influenced in some way?»
For her part, Ezri barely wrinkled her nose, not really understanding where the woman was going with her question, leading her to ask inevitably, «What do you mean?»

Lenara wondered what she was really looking for. She had accepted the assignment to return to Deep Space 9 knowing full well that she wasn't needed: the studies on the Bajoran wormhole had been at a standstill for years because of the war, and what Trill's Astrometric Department had requested were simple metrics that any novice assistant could have acquired, but she had taken advantage of her rank to insert herself into the scientific delegation.
In a way, she wanted the chance to return to the station, to get confirmation that her rejection four years earlier had not disrupted Jadzia's life as much as it had, in fact, disrupted her own, but now she was getting hard: she wanted to get to the bottom of it and find out if it was really Jadzia who loved the one who came after her, almost as if she didn't want to believe that she had built a new life without her. Even Kahn, the symbiont she carried in her belly was not helping her, giving her back the feelings that Nilani, the woman who had hosted the Kahn symbiont before her, had felt when she had been widowed by Torias Dax.

Ezri, realising that Lenara was lost in thought, repeated the question: «Lenara? What do you mean?»
Lenara recovered, called back to reality by Ezri's voice which, incredibly, sounded very much like Jadzia's: «You are the Counsellor, you know better than I how an individual's psyche works... in this case yours - she corrected herself - Jadzia's.»
Ezri shook his head slightly: «I don't think the saying 'Physician cure yourself!' applies to Councillors as well.»
Finally the waiter approached the table, picking up Ezri's plate and cutlery. Lenara mentioned ordering them both something to drink. She suggested a raktajino, as if to check how much of Jadzia there was in Ezri, but the young counselor stopped her with a wave of her hand. She was satisfied with what she had already eaten and drunk, and a raktajino, the very strong Klingon coffee, was by no means her favourite drink. Lenara fell back on a Balso Tonic, a typical drink from her homeworld that any human would have mistaken for cucumber juice.

After that, he resumed the discourse: «Was she really in love with Worf? To the point of ... manage, somehow, to 'forget' me?»
Ezri waited for the woman to take a first sip of her drink. Lenara had found the strength to name Worf, the one who had become Jadzia's husband and by whom she would have had a son, if only Dukat had not ended her life. Ezri retrieved a very specific memory from Dax's memory: «You know, I think she had invited you to the wedding just to show you how happy she was.»
Lenara placed the glass on the table, without letting go. Ezri continued: «Some sort of spitefulness. At least that's how Dax remembers it. And maybe that means she hadn't 'forgotten' about you.»
Lenara also brought her other hand to the glass, nervously trying to wipe the droplets of condensation from the surface. Ezri waited again before speaking. The topic made both women uncomfortable.
«You didn't come... go to the wedding, did you?»
Lenara stared at the glass, tracing inscrutable marks on the damp glass: «No... I didn't go. Too many open wounds. Too many regrets - Nilani's memories surfaced once more - too much pain.»

Ezri gave her a sympathetic look: «You know, I think Jadzia was still hurt too. And I think Dax wanted to help her move on, somehow...»
Lenara smiled bitterly, replying almost with a trace of resentment in her own voice: «Dax... he had his own way of protecting Jadzia, didn't he? For example, by getting her influenced by Curzon, right?»
Ezri pressed a smile to her own lips as more memories of Jadzia resurfaced, no doubt brought to the forefront by her symbiont: «Curzon has always been a great influence on Jadzia, you know that too... I wouldn't explain, otherwise, his fierce passion for the Klingons, accentuated just after his union with the symbiont.»
Lenara leaned back in the back of her chair, the forgotten drink in front of her, the bitterness now clearly evident in her own movements as well as in her voice: «To the point of giving the impression that she wants, in some way, to take revenge?»
«Well,» Ezri answered her, «revenge is a dish best served cold. Certainly Curzon and the Klingons loved that saying. And Jadzia loved them both, in a way.»

Lenara crossed her arms over her chest, as if to defend herself against what she was about to ask and discover: «More than she loved me...?»
«Lenara, I am not Jadzia. I don't know everything about her. But I can tell you that, although not immediately, she was then able to forgive you.» Ezri, despite Dax's presence and her past experiences, really didn't know how to interface with the other Trill any more and, indeed, the longer the conversation went on, the more she felt it was all wrong: it should have been Jadzia there, not her.
Lenara distracted her from her thoughts, muttering something that forced her to pay attention - «Curzon... curse and, at the same time, blessing of that woman...» - and which led her to reply, almost on the spur of the moment: «I can tell it's not easy having a little Curzon inside me!»

Lenara, who had lowered her gaze to her own hands clasped in her lap in the meantime, raised it again with hopeful eyes towards Ezri, murmuring a weak «What...?» He recognised those words, almost the same ones she had said to Jadzia in rejecting her for one last time four years before, blaming once again Curzon's strength in the Dax symbiont. Ezri, for her part, felt the distant echo of the desire to caress her face, strongly influenced by the feelings felt by another person, at other times now strangely remote.
Coughing embarrassedly, she made to get up: «Perhaps I had better return to my duties.»
Lenara could not refrain from stopping herself, despite the other's hasty reaction and the now increasingly palpable tension: «Wait...»
Ezri, for her part, now completely on her feet, was looking for a plausible loophole to leave: «Julian... Dr. Bashir will definitely need a hand.» She was clearly trudging along, looking for any excuse that might allow her to end the conversation on the spot: she had not been able to hold back the words about Curzon, Jadzia's old memory that Dax had let slip at the wrong time.

Lenara could not refrain from asking, now with a trace of undeniable bitterness in her voice: «Julian...?»
Ezri gave her an almost guilty look as he tried to somehow justify herself: «Lenara... as I told you before, I am not Jadzia. And I cannot be.»
The other woman averted her eyes from Ezri, a distraught expression on her face as she let her gaze wander over the rest of the room, «No, I guess not...»
The Counselor instinctively made to extend a hand, intending to console the scientist in some way, but the latter flinched just enough to let her know that the gesture was not appreciated and, therefore, accepted. However, Dax couldn't help but try to say something, however futile it might seem, apologising, even if she didn't quite know what she was doing it for.
Kahn shook his head, bitterness and resignation rippling the air between them: «But you're right. I missed my chance... four years ago. When I decided to leave.»

Ezri really wanted to embrace Lenara, to console her in some way: thanks to Dax's memories, she felt she knew the woman deeply. She did not wish to see her suffer, and the memories of two previous guests, Jadzia and Torias, surfaced overwhelmingly in her, threatening to make her give in to feelings and sentiments she did not feel were her own. But the moment passed as quickly as it had come and Ezri, giving Lenara one last embarrassed smile, left, leaving Jadzia's past behind and forever.