Bashir considered himself a generally easy-going man who got along with everyone. Well, to an extent, but for the most part. he was a likeable man. In return, Bashir liked most people. There were a few, like Quark, who really tried his patience, but for the most part, he liked people. But to be honest, Artesia, Daughter of D'Toro, was getting on his nerves.
"I don't know why Worf is avoiding me," Artesia said glibly. She was a beautiful woman, Bashir thought, but her personality was a little overwhelming.
"I don't think he reacted well to your news," Bashir said carefully.
"I don't know why he would have a problem. His son was killed four weeks ago and now I'm giving him the opportunity to be a father again."
"He already has a child and a wife."
"The Trill?" Artesia scoffed.
"Yes, the Trill," Bashir said, trying hard to keep his dislike out of his voice.
"She is an alien," Artesia declared. "I have heard things about her throughout the Empire. Sirella does not like her."
"Sirella's opinion is of no consequence here. We are talking about Worf and Jadzia. You are wrong if you do not think Worf loves Jadzia. He gave up his career for her and she has given up much for him. I don't think you comprehend the extent to which they love each other."
"He cannot love her as much as everyone says," Artesia said snidely as she patted her stomach. "Otherwise this child would not exist."
And to be honest, that was an argument Bashir could not contradict.
Sisko grimaced as he saw the familiar form of the Constable approaching his office. The shapeshifter entered and took a seat opposite the Captain.
"I have checked at Starbase 357 and all of the witnesses say that they saw Worf and Artesia together every night. They drank bloodwine together in the bar, sang Klingon operas together and had dinner at her place privately every night. Whenever Mr. Worf was not in a meeting, he was with her. A Klingon, Jolar, who accompanied Artesia on-board Starbase 357 said that it is very obvious these two were in love. In fact, they made no attempt to hide anything," Odo said grimly. "They were very open with their affection."
"Worf?" Sisko tried to reconcile the image of an openly affectionate Worf with the image of the more restrained Worf he knew.
"I double-checked Jolar," Odo went on. "He is part of Artesia's entourage, but he is from a disgraced house. The House of N'Prie. He has some troubles with the law but his story matched up with every other witness, so I have no doubt of his veracity."
"He was the only Klingon other than Artesia on board?"
"Yes," Odo said. Sisko leaned back in his chair, clasping his fingers together in a pensive gesture. "I would like to know what Artesia was doing Starbase 357," Sisko said quietly.
Odo nodded, "I will get right on it, Sir."
"I want some answers, Odo."
Bashir eyed his patient, trying hard to keep expression neutral. Artesia, daughter of D'Toro, he thought, was rapidly wearing out her welcome. Now that his second battery of tests had conclusively proved the child was Worf's, her attitudes had become downright annoying.
"What do you plan to do now?" he asked.
The woman thought for a second and then said, "Stay here, I suppose."
"Here? On the station?"
"Of course. My child should be near his father."
Bashir left the room then, trying hard to contain his own astonishment. Artesia was certainly a piece of work and even if Dax did forgive Worf, there would definitely be some issues that would need to be resolved if Artesia did indeed plan to stay on the station.
Dax entered her quarters, feeling almost as if she was the stranger. It was late and Daria would be sleeping. But that suited Dax just fine; much as she had missed her little girl today, she wanted the opportunity to confront Worf without having to worry about the effects on Daria. She was also feeling a little shy; no doubt Worf had heard about how much she had consumed at Quark's earlier and to know that the entire station knew that Jadzia Dax had drunk herself silly over a man did not appeal to the Trill.
Jadzia found Worf in their bedroom, kneeling in front of his small figurine of Kahless. She sat on the bed, waiting for him to be finished. Finally he rose and turned to her.
"You came back," he said softly, almost as if he could not believe it.
"I'm surprised to find you here. I would have thought that you would be with Artesia."
"Jadzia, that is not fair."
"Why did you do it?"
"That is not my child. You of all people should believe me."
"I want to believe you," Jadzia said passionately as Worf sat next to her. She tried not to lean against him, but she couldn't help herself. He wrapped her in his arms. Even now, in this most terrible moment, Jadzia loved her husband.
"It's true I spent a lot of time with Artesia," Worf conceded. "But only to mourn Alexander, believe me. I missed you and Daria desperately and she offered companionship."
"Is that all?"
"I've told you before, yes."
"What about Julian's test?"
"There has to be some mistake. Jadzia, I've never given you reason to doubt me before."
"You've never done something like this before," she reminded him gently. "I know that losing Alexander has been hard. Hard on both of us and neither of us had the opportunity to say good-bye to him, but you did not see me flying into another man's arms."
"That's not what happened!"
"Then what did happen?"
"Exactly what I told you before and what I'm telling you now."
"Sisko told me that she belongs to a very prominent family."
"That is true. Her family is friends with Gowron."
"Does Gowron want you to marry her?" Jadzia asked softly.
Worf did not answer right away, "Martok has spoken to Gowron and yes, they would like me to honor her as the mother of the child they say is my son."
"Do you want to marry her?"
"No. No," Worf said. "I have told you many times that I would not leave you or Daria. My duty is to you."
"You never said anything about love," Jadzia said softly. "You mention duty and honor but not once have you mentioned love."
"How was Yoshi's birthday party?" Bashir asked, finding his friend in Quark's bar, sipping a raktijino.
O'Brien nodded wearily, "Kira really knows how to throw a party. Keiko is putting the kids to bed now, they were so wound up."
"I'm sorry I had to miss it."
"That's all right. I know you were tied up in the infirmary."
"That's one way to put it. I was with Artesia, going over tests. I've done every test I know, Miles, and they all come up positive. And I tell you, the woman is insufferable in every way. When she first came aboard, she purposely got Dax's name wrong and called Worf her `par'machkai.' Honestly, Miles, if she wasn't a woman, I would punch her."
"How long is Artesia going to stay?"
"She says she's not leaving," Bashir said unhappily as he took the seat opposite O'Brien.
"Not leaving?" O'Brien asked in surprise.
"Artesia told me that her place is with the father of her son."
"Look, I've known Commander Worf for a long time and this doesn't sound like him at all."
"It surprises all of us. Dax most of all."
"I guess it really is between them," O'Brien said thoughtfully.
"So," Bashir said in an attempt to change the subject. "I heard Sisko say that you were puttering around with the station's system all morning. Which of course made both Keiko and Kira mad because you were late for the party."
"Not that late," O'Brien said, marveling at the speed of the station's grapevine. "Actually, I'm reading some power fluctuations in the energy matrix. I'm not quite sure why. All my scans show that the station is performing at optimal levels. But somewhere, there is an energy leak that's causing phase variations to appear periodically."
"I'm sure if anyone can figure it out, it's you, Chief."
The Irishman grimaced, "It's probably just one of the bloody Cardassian voles eating away at the wiring again."
"Most probably," Bashir agreed.
Worf and Dax stayed up all night talking things through and by the time the chronometer signified that it was almost morning and time for the first shift, Dax and Worf had come to an agreement. They would work their way through this mess together for Daria's sake.
"I cannot ignore my personal feelings," Worf said quietly. "No matter what Martok or Gowron ask of me. Not for a woman I hardly know."
"Nor can I," Jadzia said, curling her long body up against his. "But it will take time, Worf, you understand, before I can truly trust you again."
"I am sorry, Jadzia, but you must believe me. This woman is lying."
She knew Worf so well, Jadzia decided to believe him. It wasn't often that she disdained the results of science, but in this case, she decided that Julian must have been in error.
"All right, I believe you," Jadzia whispered, laying her head on his chest. She felt his fingers move to her hair gently and timidly. When she didn't move away, Worf stroked her hair softly and a few moments later, Jadzia raised her eyes to meet his.
"You have to be honest with me, Worf," Jadzia said quietly. "Do you really want a son? Does it mean so much to you?"
Worf considered, trying to figure out the best way to tell her what she wanted to know.
"I would not leave you for this woman's son," he told her finally. "And I could never replace Alexander."
"You did not answer my question."
"I do not want to cause you pain, Jadzia."
"Haven't you done enough?"
"I could not ask it of you, Jadzia," Worf said, deciding to be honest. "A son could lead our house as a daughter never can. But I could never ask it of you. It is a sacrifice I would not ask you to make. So please, do not ask me again. I love you and I love Daria. The two of you are my whole world and I would never ask for more than you can give. I hope you understand."
Jadzia nodded, her eyes filling with tears. She understood all too well what she had to do.
The doctor turned at the sound of his friend's voice. Quickly he checked in the infirmary and saw that Artesia was thankfully gone.
"Jadzia," Julian said. "Come in. Something I can do for you? You're not scheduled for a treatment today."
"No, I know that."
"I've made some adjustments," Julian continued. "Hopefully you won't feel as queasy this time."
"That's good to hear."
"So?" Bashir asked. "What can I do for you?"
"I need some of the resequencing enzymes."
"What?" Bashir could hardly believe his ears. "Are you trying to have a baby?"
"I don't want to discuss this, Julian."
"You know what I think."
"You tell me every time I have one of those damned treatments," Jadzia felt the anger rising up inside of her. She knew it was unfair to direct her fury to Julian, but she couldn't help it. "I ask you every time and every time you say it's not advisable. But damn it, I have to, Julian. Why can't I have what that woman has?"
"Artesia? Are you doing this because of Artesia?"
"No!" the word came out of Jadzia's mouth more forcefully than she had intended. But Julian had known her for a long time and could tell when the Trill was lying. He quickly picked up a hypospray and began to fill it with the required enzymes.
"This is because of Worf," Julian said, starting to feel anger towards the Klingon. "He is making you do this."
"No, no he's not. No, it's not like that."
"Jadzia, I'm telling you, if you have a baby, it could kill you."
"That's a chance I'm going to have to take."
"And Worf is all right with this?" Julian asked, knowing that his respect for the Klingon was decreasing with every passing moment. Julian pressed the hypospray against Jadzia's arm and she winced slightly. "Jadzia? Does Worf know what you're doing?"
Jadzia's clear eyes met Julian's darker ones.
"He doesn't know," she admitted. "I did not tell him I was doing this."
"He doesn't know?" Bashir asked in shock. "But I thought-"
"I've always wanted a second child, Julian. Daria is almost two years old and I think now is as good of a time as any. I can't live like this anymore, Julian. You have to understand that this uncertainty is killing me and much as Worf says he loves me, I have to keep in mind that Martok and Sirella are against me. Even Gowron wants Worf to marry Aretsia. How can I compete?"
"This isn't the way, Jadzia."
"It is the only way. He would never leave me if we had a son. And I'm going to do everything I can to have another child. Even if it kills me."
It was a quiet moment for Dax, as she lay on the sofa, recovering from the enzyme resequencing treatment. Bashir had said she would not need to worry as much this time about her compatibility with Worf as she had the first time, as both of them had undergone extensive treatment before she had gotten pregnant with Daria. And Dax knew in her heart that Worf would never undergo the treatment again. Much as he wanted and needed a son, he would never put Jadzia in a position where her health would suffer.
"I will give him what he wants and he won't leave me for that woman and everything will be fine again," Jadzia said quietly. Her voice echoed through the stillness of the room. She shook her head, trying to fight off the weariness that was threatening to overwhelm her. At that moment the door chimed and Jadzia groaned as she sat up.
"Come!" she called. Her visitors, much to her surprise, was none other than Sirella with Artesia in tow. Dax immediately felt the strength leave her limbs.
"Sirella, Artesia," Dax said, her voice trembling just the slightest bit. "Anything I can do for you?"
"We have a proposal," Sirella said quietly. "And it would do you and your husband good to listen."
"Worf isn't here," Jadzia said quietly. "You'll have to come back."
"That is not important," Sirella answered. "I have been talking to Gowron and he has agreed to restore your husband's house on the eve of his marriage to Artesia."
"Excuse me?" Jadzia asked in shock.
Artesia nodded, "It is true. If Worf marries me, Gowron will restore Worf's house and allow his family seats on the High Council. It has been decided."
"Decided? By whom?" Dax demanded.
"It's in Worf's best interests," Sirella said silkily. "So now the decision is yours, Jadzia Dax."
"Mine?" Dax's voice sounded rather hollow. "What do you mean?"
"Gowron is insistent that Worf marry Artesia. You can let him go and it will make the whole matter more honorable for everyone considered," Sirella answered.
"More honorable? What about my daughter? Is what you ask fair to Daria?"
"We will make sure your child, as a daughter of the Empire, is well taken care of," Artesia said coolly. "I will love her as my own."
"What?" Dax shrieked. "You will not take my husband and you will certainly not take my child!"
"In Klingon law, the children belong to the father," Sirella reminded the Trill. "When Worf remarries, Daria automatically will belong to him. The mother no longer has any rights."
"Worf is not going to marry you," Jadzia fairly shouted. "He will not!"
"Does he have any choice?" Sirella asked.
"All that Gowron promises, it doesn't mean that much to him," Dax answered. "Worf is devoted to me and our child. He would not leave us. In fact, I don't even believe that this child is his."
"You saw the test results," Artesia said.
"Yes, but I don't believe them. I know my husband, Artesia. You evidently don't. He may have enjoyed your company and you may have fallen in love with him a little bit but don't you dare tell me that he has been unfaithful. He loves me and I love him. And he will never marry you!"
Sirella cleared her throat as she eyed her daughter-in-law with clear distaste.
"Gowron is adamant that Artesia's honor be satisfied," Sirella said firmly. "He is willing to declare war if Worf does not marry Artesia."
"That's blackmail!" Dax cried out, horrified at the very suggestion that Gowron would go to war with the Federation over what should be such a simple and private matter.
"Call it what you will," Artesia answered smugly. "But if Worf does not marry me in two weeks' time, Gowron will declare war. So, Commander, the decision is yours. What will it be?"
Jadzia burst into Bashir's office, Daria on her hip.
"Julian!" she said breathlessly. "I can't find Worf anywhere and the Chief needs me to help him with something. Can you take Daria?"
The doctor looked at his friend in amazement, "I suppose so, Jadzia."
"Thanks," Dax handed him the child and a bag of her toys. "Please, Julian, whatever you do, don't let her out of your sight. I mean it. Don't let anyone near her except for Worf or me. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but why…? Wouldn't the daycare…?"
"I don't have time to explain," Dax answered. "Please?"
Dax knelt down and kissed her baby on the cheek, "Daru, I promise I will be right back. It's just a little problem I have to fix and then I'll come back, okay? Don't be frightened. No one is going to hurt you."
Dax stood up and then nodded at Bashir, "Thanks, Julian. I appreciate this."
"Anytime, Jadzia, anytime," Bashir answered. He looked down at Daria, who was looking back at him with her mother's eyes. He wondered what he could possibly do with this eighteen month old child. More importantly, he wondered why Jadzia was so agitated about Daria's safety that she refused to leave the child at daycare.
"Well, there's one way to find out," he thought.
Sisko was reading Dax's latest report on the wormhole in his office when the door chime rang. He looked out through the glass doors to see Bashir standing outside looking worried.
"Come in!" He called loudly. Bashir came through the doors and stopped short of the desk. He looked at Sisko seriously and frowned.
"Captain," he said softly, "I would suggest that you have a talk with Dax."
With that he left before Sisko could ask any questions. He tapped his comm. badge softly and spoke it into.
"Sisko to Dax," he waited for her to respond.
From the sound of her voice Sisko could tell that he had woken her.
"What do you need? I'm not late for duty."
He smiled despite the fact she couldn't see it.
"I need to talk, Old Man."
He made sure not to mention the fact Bashir had suggested it as she wouldn't talk to him if she knew that. On the other end of the line Dax sighed.
"Where do you want to meet, Ben?"
"How about my office?"
"All right, I'll be up in a little while." Dax cut the comm link and Sisko picked up his baseball. Curiosity was killing him now; he had to know why Bashir wanted him to talk to Dax. He was also worried because the doctor had never done this before. Was something so wrong and he had missed it? The door chime buzzed and Sisko looked up; it was Dax.
"Come in!" he called and she came through the door. "How are you, Old Man?"
"Kind of tired, how about you Benjamin?"
"I'm fine," he motioned for her to sit down and she gratefully collapsed
into the chair. "Do you want something to drink or eat?" He got up and walked over to the replicator and ordered a raktajino for himself.
"I'd love a decaffeinated raktajino."
"That's unusual, Dax," Sisko said, "Trying to go to bed early or something?"
"I suppose," Dax shrugged and took the drink Sisko handed to her.
"So, what's new on your end of the station?"
"Ben, I live down the hall from you."
This time it was Sisko's turn to shrug, "Just trying to make conversation."
Dax smiled at Sisko, "All right then, what's the real reason you invited me here? If you were upset we would already be talking. If you wanted to talk about work, Major Kira
would be in here instead of me since I still have a few hours before I come on."
"Who's to say I don't just want to talk about my goddaughter?"
"Daria's fine, managed to break a statue given to Torias Dax by Nilani yesterday."
Sisko winced, at the rate his goddaughter got in trouble by the time she was old enough to be grounded she would never be able to leave her quarters.
"Is anything bothering you, Dax?"
Dax gave him a strange look and sipped her coffee.
"No," Dax answered and frowned at the coffee. "This isn't very good Ben. When was the last time O'Brien looked at your replicator?"
"I don't know, he's always to busy so I usually get something from the Ops replicator."
"You only use it when you need to talk to your best friend? Are you trying to poison me, Benjamin?"
Sisko smiled and laughed.
"Yes, Dax," he told her, "That's it!"
"I'm not that easy to get rid of!" She walked over to the replicator and put the drink in. "Especially when I can just use the retake button." Dax thought for a moment, "Benjamin, what time is it?"
Sisko looked at the chronometer on his desk and then back to Dax.
"It's just turning 1300," Sisko told her, she seemed surprised and began to head toward the door.
"I've got to pick up Daria from Kira's. I'll see you later, Ben."
Sisko nodded and watched as Dax walked out.
That was wonderful, he thought. I found out absolutely nothing.
Chief O'Brien watched as Commander Dax walked out of Sisko's office and step into the turbolift. She ordered it to the replimat and leaned against the back wall as it started to move downward.
He turned back to his console and noticed a blinking red dot.
"It's back again," he muttered to himself and pressed a few buttons on the console in hopes of tracking the fluctuation. He followed it carefully and found, to his surprise,
that it led to one of the guest quarters on the habitat ring.
"What in the habitat ring could be causing those fluctuations?" he asked himself. O'Brien stood up and looked over at Major Kira, who was in command of the station because Captain Sisko was in his office.
"Major, I've finally tracked down that fluctuation."
She turned to him with interest.
"Really, Chief? Where is it and how do we get rid of it?"
"I don't think we can get rid of it, at least not from our systems, and that's because it's not in our systems. The computer still says that all of its systems are functioning perfectly and a manual check confirmed it so I'm assuming that this fluctuation is a separate machine," O'Brien explained.
"Where is it coming from?"
"It's coming from one of the guest quarters and according to the computer there's no one staying in the room right now. I want to go check it out."
O'Brien knew that Kira would have it no other way.
"Do you want a security team to meet you down there? There's no telling who could be in that room or what they could be doing."
"No thanks, I'll be fine, Major."
O'Brien grabbed his tool kit and stepped into the turbolift.
"Habitat ring section C," he ordered and the turbolift jerked to a start. I'll have to remember to fix that, he thought as he sunk below Ops.
Artesia pressed a few buttons on the hand-held device and waited for a moment. She pressed a few more buttons and waited for another moment. The Klingon woman continued to work with the device for another six minutes before putting it in a pocket in her dress.
"There," she patted her stomach and smiled. "Your identity is safe again, my beautiful baby boy. No one will ever know whose baby you are and whose baby you aren't except for Martok and me."
Then the door opened and Chief O'Brien stepped in.
"What are you doing here?" he asked her.
"I might ask you the same question!" Artesia came back sourly.
"The computer's sensors caught a fluctuation in here and I came to check it out. Your turn, what are you doing here?"
"Me? Um, I...got....lost!"
"What were you looking for?"
"A way out of this conversation!" Artesia muttered under her breath.
"Nothing, I said I was looking for the Klingon restaurant."
It was cheap lie, Artesia knew, but that was okay, she was new to the station, and perhaps this Irish ninny would believe her.
"Oh, okay," O'Brien said skeptically, "Well, it's not in the habitat ring, it's on the Promenade near Quark's."
Artesia nodded and gave him a fake smile.
She walked out with a secretive smile leaving O'Brien to wonder.
Worf entered his quarters, noting that it was dark.
"Computer, time?" he called out.
"It is 0135," the computer responded.
Worf shook his head. He had lost all track of time. He had spent much of the day on the Defiant, thinking and listening to Klingon operas. His thoughts had mostly been of Alexander, but he had also thought about Sirella and Artesia's visit to Dax. Like Jadzia, he had been afraid that Artesia, in her quest to make him her husband, would abduct Daria. Since then, Jadzia had arranged with Odo to make sure that Daria was watched every single moment of the day.
Still, Worf thought as he peeked into his daughter's room, Artesia's threats were worrisome. He walked into the little girl's room and realized with a start that the baby was not there, that the bed had not been slept in.
"Don't panic," he told himself. "It's all right."
He went into his bedroom and there found Jadzia asleep in bed, her arm curled lovingly around Daria.
Worf exhaled, only now realizing that he had been holding his breath. He went and sat on the edge of the bed and stroked Jadzia's hair lightly.
She stirred and after a few seconds, opened her eyes.
"Hi," she whispered. "Where have you been?"
"On the Defiant."
"I just needed time to think."
"Oh," Jadzia shifted to make more room for him on the side of the bed. "Well, you must be tired."
"A little, why?"
"I was hoping, maybe, that we could spend some time together tonight. Alone. It's been a while, Worf."
Worf looked at the sleeping child. Jadzia shook her head.
"I did not want to let her out of my sight," she told him. "But now that you are home, you can take her back to her bed."
Worf nodded. He got up off the bed and picked up the child. She stirred slightly but remained asleep. He tucked her into bed and then went to rejoin Jadzia. She held her arms out to him and he went willingly.
"I love you," she whispered as he buried his face in her shoulder.
Bashir took a sip of his Tarkalian tea and watched the many peoples of the universe stroll by Quark's Bar. Then he noticed one of the many people of Earth strolling toward him, Chief O'Brien. The Chief didn't look very happy, in fact he looked downright confused.
"Hello, Miles," Bashir said loudly.
"Hi, Julian," O'Brien sounded just as confused as he looked.
"Something bothering you?"
"No, not really, I just wish I knew what that fluctuation that keeps showing up was." Bashir shrugged, surely it was nothing he could help with, after all, he was a doctor not an engineer.
"I also wish I knew what Artesia was doing in the unoccupied guest quarters. She claimed she was looking for the Klingon restaurant."
"In the habitat ring?"
"That's what she said."
"Sounds a little suspicious to me. I wonder if we could get Odo to spy on her for a while."
O'Brien sat down across the table from Bashir.
"Do you think there could be any sort of connection between her and the fluctuations?"
"I don't know, I suppose there could be but the fluctuations always stop anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute after I find them. I've asked Lieutenant Miller to keep watch for them while I take a lunch break."
"And what'll you do if she detects them again?"
"I'll beam directly to the site of the fluctuations before they have a chance to stop, or be stopped."
"Good luck," Bashir said and he took another sip of his tea.
"Thanks, I'll need it to catch this bugger!"
Dax was walking down the corridor with Daria in her arms when she walked into Sirella. The Klingon did not look very happy, in fact she looked downright angry. Dax held Daria closer and tighter to her body.
"What do you want?"
"Artesia has told me that you will not give up Worf! She says that you do not care if there is a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Are you really so dishonorable and such a pahtk that you will let your people go to war over a matter that is so obviously out of your control!?" Sirella screamed. Daria began to cry and clung just as tightly to her mother as Dax clung to her.
"I said no such thing. I haven't talked to Artesia since the two of you came to our quarters to tell me your terms!" Dax was careful to keep her voice calm and gentle for Daria's sake. The whole situation was behind the child's understanding and certainly, Daria could not understand why her grandmother was being so hostile towards mommy.
"Are you saying that Artesia lied to me?!"
"She would not lie to me!" Sirella insisted.
"Are you so sure, Sirella?"
The Klingon was silent for a second but quickly retaliated by spitting in Dax's face.
"Be careful, Trill, you're wading into dark waters and there may just be a current hidden on the bottom!" Sirella hissed and stormed off angrily. Dax shivered slightly and comforted her crying daughter.
"It's okay, your grandmother was just playing a joke," Dax said softly and she bounced
Daria a little to make her smile.
"I don't like Gramma's joke." Daria told her mother seriously.
"Neither do I."
Go on to Part 4
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