By Seema

Characters and places (unfortunately) belong to Paramount. I don't own them and no one at Paramount knows that I'm playing with their property. No infringement or profit intended.

~ * ~

There is a silence within me, a silence I have never felt before. The intensity of loneliness grips me until I can hardly breathe.

It has been just a few hours, a few hours since Bashir's message came to us; His terrible message about Jadzia's injuries and that we should return to the station, if events permitted us.

Even with the doctor's words cushioned so gently, I knew what he was trying to tell us. Even I, with my reputation for aloofness and insensitivity, could hear the crack in his voice as he spoke.

No one spoke a word as the Defiant turned back to the station. Anticipation - the most dread kind - hung over all of us. Only Kira's voice, calm and certain, broke the tension as she efficiently dealt out the orders that would lead us back to Deep Space Nine.

Once the Defiant docked, I hurried out the airlock, hoping against hope that time had not run out on me this time, that this final cruelty could not be true.

Bashir met me at the Infirmary, his face lined and weary.

"Commander," he said.

"How is she?" I asked briskly. I was so sure that this was all a terrible mistake, that Jadzia's injuries were not as serious as Bashir had initially reported.

He shook his head, "I had to remove the symbiont."

There was a truth in his simple statement, one that I knew I would now have to accept. I glanced in the direction of the incubator. I remembered then how alone Jadzia had felt when Verad had hijacked the symbiont so many years ago. She had confessed to me that she never wanted to experience that loneliness again. I knew I should be with her, to push that loneliness away, but I could not make myself move in that direction.

"How?" I asked sharply.

"Later," Bashir told me. "There isn't much time and she has been waiting for you."

He indicated a private room and I walked in. For some reason, all parts of my body numbed yet the pounding of the blood rushing through my arteries had grown extremely loud.

I went to Jadzia's side and looked down at her. She looked as if she was simply sleeping, her hair fanned out around her. I touched her face softly and her eyes opened slowly.

"Hi," she whispered with much effort.

I sat by her, cradling her hand in mine.

"We came as soon as we could," I said awkwardly.

"I was hoping you would come," she answered.

I brushed my hand against her cheek. Her skin felt damp and cold against my hand.

"I love you," I told her. She smiled at me, a pale imitation of her usual radiance. She nodded and I realized that speaking was growing difficult for her.

"Dax?" she asked. Even now, her thoughts were for the symbiont. I held her hand to my heart, feeling the life slipping from her.

"Bashir…" I could not speak.

She sighed so sweetly then, "I knew I could trust Julian."

Again, I had nothing to say. Her hands brushed up against my jawline as Sisko entered the room.

"I'm so sorry…" she murmured.

It was then that I realized that I was truly losing her and that there was still so much I had to say to her.

"Save your strength," I told her in a low voice. Her hand continued to stroke my cheek, but I could feel the life draining out of the touch.

"Our baby would have been so beautiful…" she mustered and then her eyes closed.

I stared down at her, almost in shock. And then, because I didn't know what else to do, I howled and then began to sing to let Sto-Vo-Kor know that a new warrior would be joining that wonderful place on the other side.

Later, I sat there, still holding her cold hand. There was a calmness on her face, one that I had often seen before while she slept. There had been nights when I would wake and just look down at her, memorizing every feature, loving every curve of her.

And now, I realized, this would be the last time I would see her like this.

I ran my finger along her jawline and then stroked her skin. I touched her eyelids gently and then rested my hand against her chest, feeling for the breath which no longer flowed through her body.

Bashir entered the room, clearing his throat gently.

"Commander," he said softly.

I nodded, looking at him.

"I can make the arrangements," Bashir said. "No need for you to do anything. Starfleet has some regulations on how this…"

"I know," I told him sharply. "I - I need just a few more minutes with her."

"Of course," Bashir said. He withdrew.

I sat by Jadzia, her hand still in mine. It seemed to me as if she was still sleeping, but the truth - the harsh truth - was evident by her stillness, by the coldness of her skin.

Already I missed her and could not imagine a time when I had not known her. Of course that was ridiculous as the time span from our first meeting to the moment of her death was a mere two years.

The first time I had set eyes on Jadzia Dax, she had introduced Kira to the world of Camelot. Of course they had both looked ridiculous in their period costumes, but even then I had noticed her eyes laughing at me, the brightness and clarity within them drawing me into her aura. Later, once we had firmly pledged ourselves to each other, Jadzia had confessed that she had fallen for me at that very moment when I had pulled the knife out on Martok's son. She had even said as much to O'Brien at the time.

"But getting you to notice me was quite the trick," she told me many times. Of course, I would admit my stupidity on that point and try to make up for my obtuseness with a kiss or two or three.

There were times when I had been afraid of losing her, but never so then during our terrible vacation on Risa. At that time, I was finally able to confess to her my fears of human frailty and I think she understood also that I was afraid of hurting her - not just physically, but also emotionally.

Jadzia also had her own pain to bear, her estrangement from her family, the demons from past hosts which occasionally haunted her dreams. Those were the nights when I held her close, soothing her as she sobbed in my arms.

Our times together, for the most part, had been smooth. We loved to fight and neither of us would deny that; but we also loved with an equal ferocity. My desire for her never faded even as we settled into marriage. Coming home to Jadzia and to know that she loved me gave me a euphoric feeling.

And I could say, with confidence, that we had been more than lovers; we had been friends, best friends.

And now, as I enter the room where Bashir arranged her funeral to be held, I find it difficult to say good-bye in front of all these people. Friends they are, but few knew her as I did.

And for that reason - and that reason alone - I keep my silence. There is a pain that I cannot yet put into words, but it is one I shall carry until we meet again in Sto-Vo-Kor

~The End~

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