This story takes places directly after Worf's scene with General Martok in Quark's at the conclusion of "Soldiers of the Empire." I wrote this story as part of a challenge I issued at the WDFA to write a coda based on a favorite episode, so I chose "Soldiers of the Empire."
Characters and places and especially the episode, "Soldiers of the Empire," belong to Paramount. Paramount has no idea that I'm doing anything at all with these characters and they probably wouldn't want to know either.
Thanks to Rebecca for coming through for me with a copy of "Soldiers of the Empire." Thanks to Liz, as always, for beta-reading this one and saving me from myself.
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The new badge felt heavy – and strange – on my sash. I fingered it awkwardly as I made my way through the Habitat Ring.
After nearly a lifetime of dishonor, I could now claim honor through the House of Martok and for once, I could not speak the words to express my emotions. Martok's gesture had surprised me. Inviting me into his house had been more than giving me an honored place in the Klingon Empire; he was showing me respect.
I stood in front of Jadzia's door, wondering if she would be awake. We had not spoken much since our return and I knew there was much that needed to be said. Apologies, mostly, and those apologies would have to be mine.
I signaled for entry and after a moment, the doors slid open. Jadzia, dressed in a nightgown, was reclining on the couch, her hair loose about her shoulders. She smiled at me, but it was strained smile.
"May I come in?" I asked.
Jadzia arched an eyebrow at me, "Of course."
The doors slid shut behind me.
"Is Martok gone?" she asked, laying aside the PADD she had been reading.
"Yes," I sat next to her. She shifted her weight so that there was space between us.
Her eyes fell on my sash, "That's new."
"I have been adopted into the House of Martok."
"That's a great honor."
"Yes," I answered.
"Are you happy about it?"
"Like you said, it's a great honor."
"Worf," Jadzia sighed. "It's me, okay? There's no need for this Klingon stoicism. How do you feel?"
I considered. When Martok had presented me with the badge of his house, I could see the shame of years past vanish, giving me opportunity to once again serve the Empire with honor. I could now look upon another Klingon (and without meaning to, I thought of Grilka) as an equal.
"I cannot explain to you what this means to me," I told her.
"I want you to try."
"It is a new beginning," I said. "A beginning of promise and hope. It will be a future filled with glory for my descendents."
"That was not quite what I was looking for, but it will have to do," Jadzia said. She curled her legs up beneath her and reclined against the sofa. "How do you feel about the House of Mogh?"
"There has been no House of Mogh for years," I said. "As you said, it was a sentimental gesture."
"But wearing the badge of the House of Mogh meant something to you," Jadzia pointed out.
"It does not matter."
"I think it does. You're replacing a part of your identity, Worf."
"I do not see it that way. I will not forget that I am the son of Mogh, but a Klingon without a house… is no Klingon. Surely you must realize that."
"I realize a lot of things, Worf," Jadzia said softly. She got up and went to stand by the replicator. "Raktijino. I wish you would give me credit sometimes for what I know."
The steaming beverage appeared and she took a sip, leaning against the wall. She looked particularly alluring, standing there with her long hair falling over her shoulders and the strap of her nightgown sliding haphazardly over one white shoulder.
And it had been long time…
"Come here," I indicated the seat next to me. Jadzia shook her head.
"I can't think when I'm close to you," she said. "I hate that you have that effect on me."
"You are angry with me still."
"Damn right I am," Jadzia flared up. "Worf, I deserved some respect from you on that ship."
"You had it."
"No, I did not. You treated me like I was an annoyance, that what I had to say was not important."
"That is not true."
"I warned you so many times about the crew and yet you ignored me."
"I challenged Martok. What more do you want from me?"
Her face softened, "Don't you understand, Worf? This isn't about Martok or the Rotarran. It's about you and me. You were so anxious to be the quintessential first officer that you did not listen to me because I am your parmach'kai."
"That's not a fair statement."
"It is," Jadzia shot back. "I told you that there was going to be trouble on the bridge and you told me that you had enough, that just because that I was your parmach'kai did not give me the right to challenge your orders. But I wasn't saying those things as someone who loves you but rather as an officer and you couldn't see that."
I remembered now that conversation on the bridge and how Jadzia had called me "Commander." It had been a long time since we had addressed each other by title and on the Rotarran, her formality had bewildered me.
"I did not mean it that way," I saw awkwardly.
Jadzia lowered her eyes, focusing her gaze on the raktijino in her hands. I wanted more than anything to cross the room and take her into my arms, but I was not sure that she would welcome the gesture.
"Were you ashamed of me?" she asked in a low voice.
Ashamed? Of Jadzia?
The whole idea seemed preposterous to me but there she was, asking me that question.
At that moment, I didn't care if she would welcome my touch or not. I got up from the couch and covered the distance between us in three strides. I took the mug away from her and placed it on the table.
"Ashamed of you?" I whispered, placing my hands on her cheeks. "Never."
"You acted like it," she bit down on her lip. I pulled her close to me.
How could I explain to Jadzia my aloofness? That in my heart, I had wanted to touch her every time I saw her and that I wanted to sneak into her quarters at night?
I did not want her to know how awkward I had felt, having her on-board. She was Dax, a name honored throughout the Klingon Empire. It seemed petty in retrospect, but I was afraid that her presence would overshadow my own.
"Worf," Jadzia said. She stood absolutely ramrod straight, her arms akimbo to her hips. Her expression hardened slightly. "If we can't be honest with each other…"
I knew that tone of voice well and loosened my hold on her. She took the opportunity to back away from me. I growled at her, something that usually made Jadzia laugh, but this time had no effect on her.
"Well?" she queried.
I understood what she said about honesty, but I did not want to admit my insecurities. Not even to Jadzia.
"It would have been inappropriate to show affection," I said finally. "Klingons are… different."
"You don't have to tell me this, Worf. I know."
Ah, yes. She knew. We were back at the beginning of our argument.
"You know as well as I that Klingon society is not tolerant of interspecies romance," I said. "I was trying to prevent another… conflict."
It was only when she rubbed the back of her hand against her eyes that I realized Jadzia was crying.
In our time together, I had never seen her cry before and I could not believe she would cry now over what I saw as a minor incident.
"You're lying," she whispered.
I crossed the distance between and put my hands on her shoulders.
"All right," I told her. "I was concerned about your effect on the crew."
"My effect on the crew?" Jadzia scoffed. "Worf! That's ridiculous."
"I was not sure how they would view a… foreigner… on the Rotarran."
"A foreigner? Is that how you see me?"
"Of course not!
"But you just said…"
"I know what I said," I said impatiently. She shrugged off my hands and paced back and forth in front of me.
"This is crazy," she told me. "This whole thing with you, it's crazy."
I looked at her helplessly.
"I do not understand what you are talking about," I said.
"Your insecurity," she said it very calmly. "You were afraid of what I would do on the ship. You were afraid I would embarrass you. You didn't trust me and that's the problem."
Correct on all counts, I thought with dismay, and I know she could see the confirmation in my eyes.
"I was glad you came," I blurted out. "I would have missed you."
Jadzia sniffed a bit and then lifted her eyes to meet mine. I took the opportunity to kiss her. She immediately stiffened and I backed away, my hands held out in apology.
"I mean it," I said. "I was angry at you at first. I did not want you there."
"I only wanted to be with you," Jadzia said softly.
"I know that now and I am sorry I did not recognize it at the time. I only saw it as interference in a Klingon matter. But I needed you. And I still need you."
"You need me?" she asked. I noticed the barest hint of a smile spreading over her lips.
"Yes. You were the only one on that ship who cared about Martok and me. For that, I am grateful."
"I do more than care for you, Worf," Jadzia ventured. And I remembered her comment to me on the bridge as she helped me after my fight with Martok.
"Sometimes I think I know why I love you," she had said then. Our eyes had met in understanding as I leaned my weight on her slender frame.
"I know," I said. "And I think… I hope you know that I love you."
In a second, she was across the room, her arms looping around my neck.
"I do," she breathed. "Even if you are ashamed of me."
I drew back in shock from her embrace, but her eyes were twinkling at me.
I laughed and drew her in closer. It felt so good, after so long, to hold her in my arms.
"I cannot promise that I will not disregard your comments in the future," I told her. "But I promise, I will always listen."
"That's all I ask."
She rested her head on my shoulder and I tightened my hold around her waist.
"The next time we go somewhere, can it be something more luxurious than a Klingon Bird-of-Prey?"
"How about the Defiant?" I asked, thinking of my quarters there. Crammed and tiny as they were, they were infinitely more preferable to the Rotarran.
Jadzia laughed, "I was thinking about something more restful."
"No… a few days on Bajor, perhaps."
"That sounds good. We need the time together."
She lifted her head and looked at me in surprise, "Really? You would take time away from the station and the Defiant to spend time with me?"
The surprise in her voice startled me, but then I could understand. Our last vacation together, on Risa, had been a complete disaster.
"Really," I assured her.
She fingered the new badge on my sash, "I guess joining the House of Martok is a good thing then. You seem to be in a better mood."
"As do you."
Jadzia looked at me soberly, "You did hurt me, Worf. But I have to accept that we are going to hurt each other, whether we mean to or not."
It was a rather disturbing thought but it was one I knew to be true. I tightened my grip on her.
"Always know that I love you," I whispered in her ear. "No matter what I do or say. That will never change."
Jadzia eyed me and I could see the lingering doubt in her eyes. I did not think this was the appropriate moment to bring up that fact that now that I belonged to an honored house, I could court any Klingon woman I chose. Not that I would…
But Jadzia knew. In her uncanny, Trill way, she had known what I was thinking, knew I was remembering Grilka.
"Do not doubt me, Jadzia," I said fiercely. "My new status as a member of the House of Martok changes nothing about our relationship."
"I don't doubt you. I never have," she said earnestly. "I know that you were interested in Grilka –"
"Do not mention her name to me!" I thundered. It seemed incredible to me that Jadzia, usually so confident in herself, was suddenly doubting herself.
"You could have a Klingon –"
"Why would I when I have you?" I asked softly. A centimeter of space separated our lips. I tipped her head up towards mine. "And one day, soon, maybe you will join me in the House of Martok?"
"In time," she said.
Our lips brushed lightly and then Jadzia broke away from me.
"Where's the crest of the House of Mogh?" she asked.
"Here. You may have it," I held it out to her. She caressed it gently and then handed it back to me.
"Keep it in a safe place," Jadzia said. "You may want it in the future."
"There is no purpose in keeping alive a dishonored house."
"It's not a question of honor," Jadzia said quietly. "It's of value to you. A sentimental gesture, if you will. I know you, Worf, and you value sentiment as much as honor and glory. One day, you will want to recall the House of Mogh."
"Perhaps you are right," I fingered the badge, following the intricate curves with my finger. I handed it back to her. "But I want you to have it.
Her eyes welled up with tears, "Worf..."
"There is little I treasure more than this badge," I told her gently. "One of them is Alexander and the other is you."
Jadzia reached up and stroked my cheek. I loved feeling her fingertips against my skin. I turned her palm inward and kissed it gently. We held each other for a long moment, reveling in the warmth of our bodies.
"It is late, Jadzia. I should be returning to the Defiant," I said quietly against her ear.
"I was hoping that the newest member of the House of Martok would stay with me tonight."
I could feel the tension in my muscles ease, "Then I am forgiven?"
She smiled, taking my hand in hers, "We'll see."
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