Characters and places belong to Paramount. The story and the characters of Stephen Lam, Sonora Lyse, Jaiya and Marisol Grey are mine. Also, a couple of very minor characters also belong to me. This story takes place between "A Call to Arms" and "A Time to Stand." For purposes of this story, the period between the two episodes is approximately three months. The story concludes five weeks before "A Time to Stand."
Thanks to Jaz for proof reading this one and for providing stories from her own life to help me out with some parts of this story. Also, much thanks to Liz for all her suggestions on this story and others! I appreciate it! And finally, Michael, for his feedback on this story also!
"Faithless heart, be far away from me,
playing games inside my head no one else can see,
oh faithless heart, you tempt me to the core,
but you can't have a hold on me,
so don't come around anymore"
- Amy Grant, "Faithless Heart" (CD - Lead Me On)
The lawn in front of the engineering quad spread out green and in lush in the golden glow of the afternoon sun.
I stepped carefully through the grass, trying to keep my eyes out for some of the pesky insects that I had been warned about in my Starfleet Academy orientation. On Trill, there were few insects; here in, San Francisco, there seemed to an insect and other creepy, crawly things everywhere I looked.
I looked up at the sound of that familiar voice. Stephen Lam. His friendly blue eyes met mine and he grinned that grin which I was sure had melted the hearts of many other women before.
"Hi," he said softly. He held out his hand. I laid mine in it tenuously. It seemed so odd that Stephen could care for me, that he would actually have had the nerve to risk all social standing and ask me out. Even after two weeks of togetherness, it seemed overwhelming to me.
"You just flew right out of class," he said. "I was looking for you."
"Sorry," I told him. "I was thinking about some work I had to get done."
"Oh. So you're busy tonight?"
"Just a bit. Professor Gardner has that quantum mechanics problem he needs solved right away. And if I get the answer right, I'll get a good recommendation from him."
"Of course you'll get it," Stephen said easily. "I have faith in you."
"Well, that's nice to know, but I really do need to work on this tonight."
"Come on, Jadzia. It's Friday night. Let's do something, okay? Some people are getting together tonight and I want you to meet them. What do you say?"
"Stephen, I really can't."
We stopped walking for a moment. There was something in Stephen's eyes that I could not read; it was almost if he was daring me to say no to him again.
"That's fine," he said abruptly.
"Fine?" I asked.
He started walking off and I followed him.
"What do you mean, fine?" I demanded.
"You work on your problem and I'll go out," he shrugged. "That's all there is to it."
"Okay," I said in relief. "Sounds good."
Later that night, as I studied in my dorm room, I kept thinking about Stephen. I wondered if he was mad at me because I didn't go with him to meet his friends. I wondered when I would see him again.
Needless to say, I didn't get much work done.
Just before going to sleep, I walked down the hall to get some coffee from the communal replicator. There were two girls standing there, neither of them looking at me; it was all right - I was used to being ignored.
"Isn't Stephen Lam wonderful?" one girl said.
"He's perfect," the other one said. "Intelligent, smart, charming, handsome, athletic. What's there not to like?"
"I hear he's seeing someone."
"Don't be ridiculous, Jaiya. If he was, don't you think she would have been there tonight?"
I froze, my hands cupped around the steaming mug of coffee.
"You think Stephen has a thing for you, Sonora?"
The girl called Sonora tossed her shiny hair and with a sneer of her lips said, "Of course he does. Did you see how he kept by my side all evening? Believe me, Jaiya, if he had a girlfriend, she can't be much of anything because he didn't seem to think of her and she obviously didn't think anything of him being there."
I took my coffee and fled.
The weeks passed and before I knew it, I was officially acknowledged by one and all as Stephen Lam's girlfriend. Stephen usually steered me around campus, his arm wrapped possessively around my waist.
It seemed that my status on campus went up immediately. Suddenly I had so many friends, friends I didn't know what to do with; I was hopelessly tongue-tied. But I was no longer alone, as I had been where I first arrived on campus, and for that I was grateful. Stephen also made sure I was included in everything and he often did silly little things for me, like writing bad poetry or bringing me my favorite foods in the middle of a rainstorm.
Yes, he was moody and possessive, but he was wonderful to me most of the time.
One night, we were studying in Stephen's room when he looked at me, his eyes glinting with something I can only describe as lust.
"Stephen, no, not now," I begged him. "This isn't the time. I really need to get this project done."
"We have all the time in the world to get this project done," he told me. Already he was crossing over to me. He yanked me up from my chair and pushed me down on the bed.
"Come on, Jadzia. Think of it as a study break."
I let myself go, mostly because he was so much stronger than me. Stephen hardly looked at me as he unbuttoned his pants. I could feel his breath on his cheek and I didn't make a sound. His hands were touching me all over, pressing against my flesh. Somehow, I felt frozen inside, unable to respond to him. Finally, he rolled off of me. I sat up and for a moment, I felt like crying, but then didn't say anything. Stephen lit a cigarette and looked at me.
"Sometimes, Jadzia, I get the feeling that you aren't really there," he said to me. "I mean, just now, you didn't even react."
I could not answer right away as I pulled my clothes back on. I could tell Stephen was waiting for an answer and I could feel his impatience grow.
"Stephen, I told you I wasn't in the mood," I told him.
"You're never in the mood."
"I could be if you weren't in the mood all the time," I shot back.
"That's it!" Stephen stood up. "Get out!"
I stared at him, "What?"
"Get out! I've had it. Don't you know that there are thousands of girls out there who would want to be with me?"
"I know that."
"Well, then why do I have to put up with you? Huh?'
"Stephen, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. It's just that I have so many things on my mind."
"And I'm not one of those things?"
"No, I mean yes, I mean, yes I do think about you, Stephen. It's just that right now, the project is more important to me. I have to get it done."
"Well," Stephen's eyes glared at me and I shrank under the weight of his fury. "Take your time. Get the project done. I will leave you alone. Don't worry."
I didn't like the way his words sounded, but I did not protest. I gathered up my things and left the room.
I hated walking across campus alone in the dark but I didn't want Stephen to come with me. He was furious with me, I knew, and I didn't know how to make it better.
As I entered my dorm, I saw the girl - Sonora - in the hallway. She was all dressed up, her make-up perfectly applied.
"Hello, Jadzia," she said quietly. I couldn't read her tone of voice but at that moment, I didn't really care. I nodded a greeting at her and went into my room.
Later that night, I heard Sonora in the hall and I heard another familiar voice. Stephen. So he had forgiven me and had come back. I quickly put my books away and splashed some water on my face. I went into the hall to look, just in time to see Stephen enter Sonora's room.
I cried myself to sleep that night.
"You want to go hiking?" I asked as we sat in the cantina. "You want to mark our two year anniversary with a hiking trip?"
"Sure," Stephen nodded. "It'll be fun, Jadzia. Just you and me."
I thought about it. I wasn't really fond of the outdoors, but I thought a hiking\camping trip would be fun. Besides, Stephen really wanted this and ever since that dreadful night almost two years previous when I had seen Stephen and Sonora together, I had been careful to accede to most of Stephen's wishes.
In the end, I was glad we went on this hiking trip. Stephen was a consummate outdoorsman and knew much about the wildlife and the fauna which inhabited this part of North America.
At night, we slept in the same sleeping bag, our nude bodies pressed up against each other. Needless to say, we didn't get much hiking done.
"Jadzia," Stephen said one night, as we lay there staring up at the stars. "Jadzia, have I told you that your eyes remind me of heaven?"
"That's a little corny, Stephen."
"No, really. I see in your eyes a place that I would want to be forever."
"Well, are you talking about forever?"
"I'm talking about forever."
"Stephen," I said gently. "I hate to break it to you, but we really don't get along that well."
"We don't?" he grinned at me. "Could've fooled me. I thought we were getting along just fine about ten minutes ago."
"That's different. I would call that passion, lust. I don't know how much of what you feel for me could be termed love."
"All of it."
"All of it?"
"All of it."
"That's quite the statement, Cadet."
"Jadzia, I'm serious. I've never been this serious before in my life. I would give up everything before I gave you up."
Stephen chuckled, "I deserved that, didn't I?"
"Yes, even Sonora."
"Well," I rolled over to lay on top of him. "Show me then how much you want me. And I don't mean want in a physical sense only. I want you to show me that you love me. Really love me. And then I will believe you."
"That would be my pleasure," Stephen said with a smile as our lips met.
~ Ten years later, the Defiant ~
"Stardate... I don't even know anymore," I let out a breath of frustration as I sat in my crammed quarters on the Defiant, trying desperately to find something to record in my log. "It's been three weeks on the Defiant. Three long weeks. I think we're all starting to get on each other's nerves a little bit. And Gorales didn't help."
I stopped talking for a moment, thinking about my last few hours on Deep Space Nine, before Benjamin had officially surrendered the station to the Cardassians and the Dominion. After Worf had accepted my marriage proposal, I had wandered a bit around the station, trying to quell my anxiety. My anxiety that the man I loved was going off to fight on a different front then me and of course, the very real fear of going into a war with an unpredictable enemy.
I had found Kira standing at a window staring out into the endless sea of stars. I joined her.
"Worf is gone?" she had asked me quietly.
"Yes," I had decided to keep the news of our engagement to myself for a while. Right now the whole idea of spending the rest of my life with this man was still wonderfully new and I wanted to relish it for a little while before sharing my joy with all of our friends.
"What do you think will happen now?" Kira asked. "Now that Sisko is giving up?"
I had shrugged, "He's not giving up, Nerys. Benjamin never gives up."
"Are you scared? I am. A little."
I looked at Kira in amazement, "Nerys?"
"It was a simple question, Jadzia."
In the five years I had known Kira Nerys, I had never known her to wilt under any circumstance. No matter what came her way, Kira always managed to pull herself together and get the job done – no matter what the personal cost might be.
"Scared? Yes, somewhat," I admitted. "I've never been through a war before."
"You? Never?" Kira looked at me in bewilderment.
"Jadzia has never been through a war before," I sighed. "I keep hoping that it will go away and that everything will suddenly be fine again."
"Me too," Kira said. "I feel very tired all of sudden. I spent my whole life fighting against the Cardassians and then once we get rid of them, here comes the Dominion. I wish we had never discovered that worm hole."
I bit my lip, since the wormhole was technically my discovery; I knew Nerys did not mean what she said as an affront to me, but I understood the frustration she felt. I touched her shoulder gently.
"We can only hope for the best, can't we?" I asked her. Kira did not answer and I understood she wanted to be alone. Again, I touched her shoulder and left her. The Defiant - and the Dominion - were waiting.
Which brought me to this very moment, sitting in my cramped quarters, trying to think of something to write in those hateful logs which Starfleet required all of us to diligently keep. It was a silly requirement, I thought now. Silly to document endless days of absolute nothingness and then on other occasions, the minutia of every little encounter with Dominion and Cardassian forces.
Today though, I was determined not to write about Gorales, that battle which had cost us dear. As it was, the Defiant was lucky to get away with minimal casualties; other Federation battleships had suffered dreadfully. Sisko had said that so far, Gorales had measured as the most costly - in lives lost - so far in the Dominion War. I found it hard to believe that those faraway Admirals back in San Francisco could digest my words about Gorales and truly understand the horror that had happened in the space of two days of fierce fighting.
And since leaving Gorales, it had been hard for everyone to keep an optimistic facade. It seemed that the Dominion, along with their Cardassian allies, were slowing beating us back and there was nothing we could do to stem the tide.
"Benjamin wants us to keep our spirits up," I said finally. "It's hard. Gorales still echoes deeply in my mind. I try not to think too hard about it; Benjamin says we must move on and try to focus on our next challenges. So I'm trying to do that. But there are other things that occupy my mind. Worf, for one. I wonder how he and the Klingons are doing. Benjamin hasn't heard much from them lately, so I can only assume that no news is good news. And then of course, there is Deep Space Nine. I keep thinking about those we left behind. Kira especially. She must hate it. Absolutely hate being on the station with those Cardassians."
I paused for a moment, thinking. I could still remember Kira standing at that window, searching the stars for something. At the time I had speculated on what she had been looking for and now I thought I knew the answers.
"Peace," I said finally. "I think that's what Kira wants more than anything else. Not in the sense of war and peace, but more along the lines of inner peace. Serenity, maybe? I don't even know anymore. The battle at Gorales has demoralized the crew even more. As for the Defiant, it has sustained much damage, more damage than we can repair out here in space. So we're scheduled for repairs at Starbase 357, which is still a day or so out. I think the break will be good for everyone. It's time to get off this damn ship."
At that moment, my door chimed and I thankfully ended the blasted log with a tentative "Maybe I'll have more to report tomorrow."
My visitor was Bashir and I smiled at him as he wearily sat on the bunk opposite me.
"You look tired," I observed.
"I am tired," he answered. "Tired of this ship, tired of patching up bodies and neglecting the souls. Tired of it all."
I stared at Julian in amazement, shocked by his confession. During Gorales, he had been the picture of efficiency, tending to the wounded - not only from the Defiant, but from other ships also. Not once had his expression ever changed from one of compassion and sympathy. Not once had he complained about the horrid situation we all found ourselves in. But then, I suppose he had not wanted to add to the strain we already were feeling and now, looking at him, I saw that the stress was etched clearly on his face.
More and more, I had noticed Julian maturing, that this war had done more than gray his hair at the temples. Now I realized that the strain showed more on him than anyone else. It was his heart, I realized, a heart which wanted so much for so many but could give only so much. I reached over and touched his hand softly.
"We haven't seen the Dominion in a couple days," I said. "And we're due into Starbase 357 tomorrow. It might be good for you to get off the ship and maybe visit a holosuite when we get there."
"That's not the point, Jadzia."
I understood what he meant; there really wasn't a point to this war. I mean, if you ignored the battle for the Alpha Quadrant, that is.
And it all came back to those last words Kira Nerys had said to me, those terrible words about my once proud discovery.
I sighed, "I wish I had never found the wormhole."
And Julian, always quick to encourage and to comfort, said nothing.
I found Sisko sitting alone at the table on the Defiant's bridge. He was going over some reports and hardly noticed when I slid into a seat opposite him.
My old friend gazed up at me with those liquid brown eyes, filled with so much meaning. In a way, Sisko wore his command like a comfortable old shirt, yet he managed to exude so much authority and confidence in his voice. I don't know how history will remember Benjamin Sisko - I suppose it depends on who writes the history. But as someone who served under him, I noted that he had commanded the Defiant well throughout Gorales, without flinching at anytime. I know some of the decisions he had made then had not been easy, yet he had issued each one with sureness.
Sisko said, "Hello, Dax."
"Working on something important?"
"What will it be today?" I asked playfully. "A little Dominion activity? Or maybe some Cardassians will come out and play."
I sighed, "Sorry. You were looking a little too serious there. "
"Look at this."
He pushed a PADD over at me.
"The Klingons have been pushed back," I said quietly. "Sustaining heavy losses."
"As far as I can tell, Worf is safe."
I nodded, thankful that he answered my unasked question.
"But it also means the Rotarran will not rendezvous with us as planned."
I had been looking forward to spending time with Worf, but I swallowed my disappointment whole, trying not to choke on the frustration which was rapidly rising up my throat. I gulped down the lump which was threatening to overflow into tears.
"The Klingons cannot lose Garida," Sisko said.
"No, of course not," I choked out my reply.
"It is too bad. I was looking forward to meeting with Martok. Another time, perhaps."
"O'Brien will be glad of the stop," Sisko went on, deliberately not meeting my eyes. "The Defiant has sustained a lot of damage. As it is, this ship is being held together with chewing gum and string. We won at Gorales, but it was at a terrible cost. Starfleet says it lost five hundred for that skirmish. Is it worth it? I don't know."
"Sir?" I asked blankly, still lost in my own thoughts.
"Jadzia," Benjamin said softly. "I know you're upset, but this is war. And Gorales is just the first of many battles, skirmishes, encounters, whatever you want to call them. It is war."
"So I've been told," I answered bitterly. "I know I should not consider my own selfish and very personal feelings in a time like this, but…"
I nodded, biting down on my lip. In all honesty, if I had been alone with Benjamin, I probably would have cried; but here, on the bridge, I managed to restrain myself. After all, even in times of war, one must maintain a modicum of dignity. And I was very aware of my duty to Benjamin and to the crew; I could not show weakness of any kind, especially over something as petty and trivial as a disappointment.
"And the crew," Benjamin said feelingly. "The crew will want the break. I think they could all use the rest."
"You should get some rest," I told my old friend. Suddenly, I felt very guilty of my own selfishness, my own pettiness. Here was Benjamin, bearing the weight of the war on his not so broad shoulders, and I was thinking only of my own aching heart.
"Soon?" I asked with as much of a smile as I could muster. "Benjamin, I could have Julian order you to rest and you know, the doctor is just itching to do so. All I have to do is say the word, Benjamin."
"I don't think I'm ready to leave the bridge."
I looked around at the silent crew, each manning his or her station with diligence. Some were young - on their first tour of duty - and others were experienced. But I knew, with confidence, each would do their job regardless of whether Benjamin was on the bridge or not - and Sisko knew it.
"Benjamin," I held out the PADD to him. "This isn't so important, Benjamin, that you can't read it in your quarters."
He nodded and took the PADD away from me, "You have the bridge, Old Man."
The Defiant hobbled into Starbase 357, much to the relief of everyone on board. Of course we were all relieved for various reasons. I knew the Chief had been afraid that the battleship would not make it through another encounter with Cardassian and Dominion forces. This stop would provide ample opportunity for the Chief to restock his supplies and also fix the problems he had been unable to repair before.
Julian, I knew, had been suffering from something I can only describe as ennui. His melancholy worried me and I felt sure that our two weeks at Starbase 357 would be good for him.
Benjamin needed some rest from the ever-present problems which plagued every starship captain. Despite my admonishments for him to take care of himself, he constantly pushed himself to the brink and I was concerned about the stress, which was just now starting to show beneath the smooth facade of his calm expression.
As for myself, I just needed to get off the Defiant. I needed to be some place where an evasive maneuver did not need to be performed or where I did not have to be roused out of bed to pilot us through a mine field or avert a field of asteroids or dodging...
"There you go again, Jadzia," I thought to myself as I exited the ship. "Always thinking about yourself."
Starbase 357, I found, was a lively mixture of alien races. It was one of the larger starbases, so it had much to offer in terms of cuisine, entertainment and consumer goods. I browsed among some of the stores, and noted one dress store in particular which had a gorgeous, filmy dress on display. I made up my mind to come back and try that dress on later. As I roamed the Promenade, I decided that yes, Starbase 357 was certainly what we all needed - and not just for the obvious, practical reasons.
I turned to see O'Brien following me. Frankly, I was surprised, as I had expected him to be working on the Defiant, but I could understand his desire for a break also.
"Have you seen Julian?" O'Brien asked. "I've been trying to find him, but I haven't managed to locate him. He must have removed his communicator."
"That's odd," I frowned. "Well, I'll keep an eye out for him and I'll let him now you're looking for him."
A couple hours later, I found Julian in a bar on the first level. I had expected him to have found some lovely young thing already, but to my surprise, I found him staring into a raktijino, as if the Klingon coffee somehow held the answers to the universe. His expression reminded me of the expression I had seen on Kira's face just before we had surrendered the station.
"Mind some company?" I asked softly, as I settled down in front of him.
The lack of enthusiasm in his voice dismayed me.
"What is it?"
I recoiled at the frustration in his voice. Immediately, his features softened.
"O'Brien is looking for you," I said. "You removed your communicator."
"I needed some quiet, that's all."
"Is everything all right? Something you want to talk about maybe?"
"I'm coming out of stillness," Julian told me. "There's the war and there's here and then there's that place where I am. Stillness."
"I don't think I understand."
"I don't think I do either."
The waiter came by and I ordered a bloodwine. Julian arched an eyebrow at me and I offered him a smile in response.
"I heard Worf won't be coming now," Julian said quietly.
"In times like this, personal feelings should not have priority."
"That's not true."
We sat in silence until my bloodwine arrived. I took a sip; it was old and stale, but it still went down easy. Slowly, I began to feel the tension in my muscles ease and the nagging knot at the back of my neck dissipated into numbness.
"Feel better?" Julian asked.
"Have you heard from Worf?"
"No. Not recently. Benjamin says that he's okay."
I nodded, "Benjamin says that the Rotarran has been sent to the front again because of all the damages the Klingon fleet has sustained."
"It will be all right. You'll see."
"As Kira would say, from your lips to the Prophets' ears."
At the mention of Kira's name, Julian fell silent and I knew now what was bothering him.
"I wish we hadn't left them," Julian said softly. "Kira, Odo, Rom, Leeta, and hell, even Quark. I wish we hadn't left them behind."
"Do you think they are okay?"
"Kira and Quark always manage to come out all right. The rest? I don't know. And I know Odo must be torn. Terribly torn."
"Odo knows where his loyalties lie."
"Of course," I said defensively. "He killed another changeling, Julian. Have you forgotten?"
Julian Bashir looked at me with eyes infinitely wiser than his years, "In times like this, can any of us truly know where our loyalties lie?"
I found Chief O'Brien in engineering later on that same day. He was lying on the floor, working on the underside of a plasma conduit that had short-circuited in our last encounter with the Cardassians.
"I found Julian," I reported. "He just needed sometime away from things, from people."
"Ah. Is he okay?"
"No," I answered truthfully. "But I think he will work it out himself. Maybe you can talk to him later."
"I will do that. Where did you find him?"
"In a seedy bar down on the first level. It's run by an Gnalish."
"Ah," O'Brien nodded. "Worth going back to?"
"Not for the bloodwine."
"I don't know," I shrugged. "Probably not. There wasn't much of a Starfleet presence there. And I know the Gnalish would serve the Cardassians and the Dominion with equal finesse."
"You know that the Gnalish are just as bad as the Ferengi," O'Brien pointed out.
"Except they don't play tongo," I answered with a grin.
I watched O'Brien work again, marveling at his patience and his skill. He expertly fused together some tiny circuitry and a control panel lit up in response. I grinned. It was a small step, I knew, but one in the right direction and I knew if anyone could get this ship back into shape again, it was the Chief.
"Anything I can do to help?" I asked, kneeling down next to him.
"Could you realign the plasma energy matrices?" the Chief responded. "I think that might do it."
I nodded and moved over to the console. I felt good about this engineering work, because it seemed that this was a very small problem - a problem I could actually do something about. After a few moments, the Chief crawled out from underneath the conduit.
"Good work," he told me with his usual, friendly grin.
"Thanks," I answered. He went over my data quickly and nodded his approval again. I noticed then that he looked tired, that his eyes seemed to have lost a little of their luster.
"Why don't you tell me what needs to be done," I said. "Then you can get off for a few hours and rest. I can take care of things here."
"Really, Commander. That's not necessary."
"Please. I want to. Besides, you really do need to leave engineering. Not everything in this world revolves around a dillithium core."
O'Brien grinned at me, "Here you go. I hope you're not sorry that you asked."
I surveyed the PADD he had given me; the repairs were quite extensive.
"It's not a problem," I said. "I will get started on this list right away."
"Positive. You go on, Chief."
The chief turned to leave and I picked up a phase link coupler.
"Maybe this will help me," I thought to myself. "Maybe now I won't think so much of Worf."
Relief came a day later when Starfleet dispatched a new crew of engineers to Starbase 357. I was in Engineering when the new crew arrived. I could feel the excitement emitting from our Chief of Operations as he greeted the new engineers. He was positively bubbling over with enthusiasm, his ruddy face awash with joy.
I made my way to O'Brien's side.
"I don't suppose you need me anymore," I teased. "Looks like you got all the help you could possibly want."
O'Brien nodded, "The repairs will go much quicker, but I would still appreciate your assistance."
"Of course. Just tell me what to do. As long as the Defiant is not needed somewhere, I'm at your service."
At that moment, O'Brien was called away. I returned to the console where I had been working initially.
"Something about…" I muttered to myself. "If I just vary the gradient here…"
"You will blow out the auxiliary LDP fuses."
I looked up almost in anger at the person who had interrupted my thoughts.
"Stephen?" I whispered. "Stephen Lam."
I backed away slowly from the panel, "Stephen, what are you doing here?"
"I'm here as part of the team Starfleet sent to help with repairs. Aren't you going to say hello, Jadzia?"
"Well, of course," I answered. "Hello, Stephen. How have you been?"
I could not remove my gaze from his face; that smooth skin, the piercing eyes, the gentle wave of his hair. God, how I had loved that face - and everything else that went with Stephen Lam - so passionately.
"Good, good," I moved deliberately, keeping the console between us.
"Well, it was good to see you again, Jadzia," Stephen said genially. "I will see you later."
With those words, he turned and left.
I gasped, trying hard to catch my breath. Stephen Lam, after all these years. I pressed my hand to my chest, trying desperately to quell the raucous beating of my heart.
"O'Brien said the new engineers are helping speed things along," Benjamin said to me as we ate dinner together on the Starbase. Benjamin had found a restaurant which specialized in Terran cooking and I had agreed to accompany him. O'Brien was off with Bashir, probably at the more energetic Risian restaurant which was located on a lower level.
"Something wrong, Dax?"
"I don't know. Not really."
"That doesn't make sense."
"No, it doesn't, does it?" I smiled at him. Benjamin pressed his fingers together.
I nodded, "Yes. There is a problem."
"Want to tell me about it?"
I told him then about meeting Stephen Lam.
"Who is he?"
"We went to Starfleet Academy together," I explained carefully. "We were in the same engineering study group on warp technology. He was much better at it than I was. I needed a lot of help."
"And?" Benjamin prodded gently.
"That's how these things get started, isn't it?" I laughed hesitantly.
"You never mentioned him before."
"I never thought to. I alternated for a long time between hating and loving him."
"Do you love him still?"
"No, I don't think so. It's been years, Benjamin. Eight years now since I've seen him."
"Was it a serious relationship?"
"For Jadzia, yes. I think I wanted to marry him. I was ready to marry him if he had only asked."
"Do you regret that?"
"That he didn't ask? No," I shook my head. "Absolutely not. My joining came between us. I wanted that so passionately and he didn't understand why I wanted it. We lost touch with each other after I joined the initiate program. I think he married a classmate of mine, Sonora Lyse."
"Then he's married."
Benjamin looked at me, "And you will be too. Soon."
"Then there is no problem."
"No," I agreed. "There is no problem."
That night, I lay in bed, thinking about Stephen with a ferocity that frightened me. I could remember our last time together very clearly.
"I wish you wouldn't go, Jadzia," he had told me. "We could have such a good life together."
"But I want this!" I had argued back. "I want to be joined and I can't give that up, Stephen. Not for you, not for anyone."
Stephen had paced while I had sat in the bed, my trembling hands holding the sheets to my chest.
"I can't believe you would throw it all away," he told me.
"I'm not throwing anything away. I'm just asking you to wait."
"Wait? Until you're joined? Will you be the same person, Jadzia?"
"You know things will change but how I feel about you… that won't change. That won't ever change."
"You're wrong, Jadzia. And naïve too. But then, you've always been a little naïve, haven't you?"
I had hated him in that instant. I remembered getting out of the bed, still wrapped in the sheets and scrambling for my clothes. At the time, there were so many things I could have said, yet I had no strength to stand up to him. I had grabbed my clothes and gotten dressed while he stood, his back to me, staring out of the window.
Go to Part II
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