Surfacing, part I

By Seema

Characters and places belong to Paramount; I'm only borrowing them for a quick minute.

A big thank you goes to my wonderful betas: Marlissa, for pointing out rampant comma abuse and general weirdness, and Liz, for rescuing this one and so many others. I appreciate your help!

Feedback is very much appreciated unless you happen to be Paramount, in which case I have no money.

I chose to go the river in the afternoon because that was when everyone would be digging the irrigation canals and they would not miss me.

I did not remember stripping off my clothes or even the first step into the water.

The water rushed over my skin, washing away the dirt and grime of the day. I leaned my head back, feeling the weight of my hair as it floated in the water. As I balanced there, my weight on my hands, my legs floating, I thought for a second of letting go. To drift away until the water covered my face, and I would sink to the bottom, my eyes focused on the sky, forever falling into nothing.

I felt the water against the nape of my neck, felt it rush into my hair and then slowly, it inched over my forehead. I jerked my hands off the rocky bottom and let them hang there, heavy and useless. Water swirled into my nose; I inhaled deeply, feeling sour acid burning the back of my throat. And then, the splash; I turned my head to see a rock plunging down into the depths, air bubbles rushing up to the surface. I reached my hand out to catch it, but at least six centimeters separated the rock from my fingers.

Another rock, this one a bit closer, splashed down, narrowly missing my outstretched hand. In a burst of indignation - how dare someone disturb - I straightened and came to the surface, coughing and sputtering.


My unfocused eyes, still smarting from the water, made out a shadowy figure on the shore, but I knew that voice. I sighed. I brushed wet hair from my eyes as I made my way to the shore, ignoring the sharp stones jutting into the soles of my feet.

Worf met me as I emerged. He handed me a towel.

"You could have hit me," I said in a low voice, not finding the strength within to be angry with him.

"I called you," he answered.

"I didn't hear you."

And then in an equally low voice, he said, "I do not know how to reach you, Jadzia."

I clutched the towel to my chest, trembling both from cold and fatigue. I wanted to touch Worf, but he turned his back to me, his broad shoulders slumping. He took a couple steps away from me, his gaze focused on the river.

"Did you forget?" his voice was barely audible.

I choked, my throat raw and acidic.

"Forget what?" I croaked out.

"The dinner," he said. I could tell from his posture that he had crossed his arms firmly against his chest. "It is to begin in twenty minutes."

I dropped the towel and began pulling on my clothes.

"I did not forget," I whispered. If Worf heard me, he gave no indication. His head was bowed slightly, the muscles and Klingon back ridges protruding through the thin gray cotton of his shirt

I moved hesitantly towards him, my bare feet making little sound on the dirt path.

"Worf?" I called out hoarsely.

He now stood just a few meters from where we had exchanged our vows just three months previously; it had been a glorious day, sunny and warm, with just a hint of breeze. For lack of anything better, we had both worn our dress uniforms as we stood in front of Benjamin. Worf's voice trembled slightly as he spoke; for once, his gruff voice did not carry and even I had to strain to hear him pledge himself to me. I had been truly happy that day, grateful that I had Worf, grateful that he loved me. The euphoric haze had lasted only into the next morning when I found O'Brien sitting in the main barracks, carving crude figures out of scrap pieces of wood.

"What are those?" I had asked.

O'Brien held up one figurine, "Keiko. This one is Molly."

I had touched the one he was working on, "Yoshi?"

O'Brien swallowed hard, "Yes. Yoshi."

Only in that moment did I truly understand. I had my life - my husband - here on Gaia; everyone else was alone. Everywhere I looked, I saw shadows of what was among my fellow crewmates, heard the occasional silence fall over them, and wondered what they were thinking. I feared if I asked them, they would tell me they were recalling their families, their homes, their friends… the list would go on and I would lie awake at night in Worf's arms, knowing that I could not claim the same.

Worf turned around now, his face softening.

"I am sorry," he said quietly. "I should not have thrown the rock."

"I should have paid attention to the time," I pointed out. Worf gave me a suspicious look but said nothing.

We made our way up the path. Knee-high weeds, brown and dead from the last frost, swayed in the cool breeze. Along the edges of the trail, overturned earth pointed out the path of the new pipeline. Eventually, the mounds ended, leaving about 200 meters still needing to be dug.

Worf walked next to me, his head still bowed. Out of habit, I linked my arm within his, looking for reassurance that he was not angry with me. Inside, the familiar cacophony of three hundred years worth of voices scolded me, each in his or her turn. Audrid, Emony, Lela, Tobin, Torias, Joran, Curzon… they were all there, each offering an opinion.

*Silly girl. I knew you did not deserve Dax.*

*Look at what you have done. Your curiosity is responsible for all of this. *

*If only you had listened to me. Why didn't you learn from my mistakes?*

*You can drown yourself in a thousand oceans and it would not wash away this thing you have done. *

*Doesn't this feel good? This dark side of you? Knowing you are responsible for it all? It is powerful, isn't it, Jadzia? *

*Don't listen to them, Jadzia. You couldn't have helped it. It isn't your fault.* *Don't listen, Jadzia. Don't listen don't listen don't listen…*

I stopped then to take a deep breath. Worf looked at me.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Just-" I held up one hand. "Give me a moment, okay? I just need to catch my breath."

I leaned, my hands on my thighs, breathing deeply. In, out, in, out, in, out… but still my stomach churned. I retched a couple times and Worf was immediately at my side, holding me lightly at the waist.

"It's okay," I sputtered as I wiped spittle away from my lips.

"You are ill. I will get Dr. Bashir."

"No," I clutched at Worf's sleeve. "Don't… don't leave me."

We stood there for a couple more minutes before Worf ventured hesitantly, "Are you feeling better? We will be late for the captain's dinner."

I nodded, and then leaned against Worf's arm.

"I'm fine for now."

We continued up the path. Over the horizon, the evening light was softening into lavender and periwinkle, the silvery clouds rimmed with gold. To the right, we passed the harvested fields lying fallow for next year's crop.

What would it be this time? I mused. Corn? Wheat? Oats? Something else?

Our first planting season had been difficult; no one had known anything about agriculture. It was yet another class not taught at Starfleet Academy. As we had stood there, O'Brien, Bashir and I, contemplating the long stretch of newly turned earth, Miles had said softly, "If Keiko were here, she'd know what to do."

In the end, Benjamin had taken charge, making the decision to use precious rations to replicate seed wheat.
Beyond the fields rose the boxy buildings of Gaia - the name we had bestowed both upon our settlement and on the planet we now called home.

We reached the main barracks and I guiltily realized how late we were; everyone except for us was already seated, the food served on uneven and bumpy pottery plates, shaped and burned into being during our first months here on Gaia.

I slid into my chair next to the right of Bashir and across from Worf.

"Where have you been?" Bashir asked in a low voice. "We were waiting."

I shrugged my shoulders, "Swimming."


I did not answer the question so Julian persisted.

"We were looking for you, Jadzia. You shouldn't have gone to the river alone," he said.

I knew he meant well, but at the moment, I was severely annoyed by his concern. What if I wanted to swim by myself? Was there something so wrong with that?

*Yes, Jadzia, what is wrong with that?*

*You know, don't you? You shouldn't be alone. They all know that.*

*Don't listen, Jadzia. Do what you want.*

I leaned back in my chair; thankfully, Bashir had turned his attentions to the red-haired ensign, Angie Kirby, seated to his left. Around me, conversation was muted, with the occasional laugh punctuation the solemn mood. All voices stopped however when Benjamin pushed back his chair and stood up. He raised his glass, light from the kerosene lamp bouncing off its rim. His gaze, always paternal and proud, rested on each of us. When his eyes fell on me, my gaze turned downward.

"The first year," Sisko said. "To the challenges we faced and overcome."

His face shone in the soft light, giving his skin an almost ethereal glow.

The others lifted their glasses in old earth tradition, tipping their glasses to each other, murmuring felicitations.


"To another year."

"The best is yet to come."

"To the challenges yet to come."

"To friends."

My own glass trembled in my outstretched hand. Soft laughter bubbled up around me, but I could not speak; my throat still burned. I was aware of Worf's eyes on me, the question in his eyes.
If you only knew, I thought, that I can't feel any of these sentiments, that I want so much to be a part of all of this, but I can't. None of this feels real to me.

I put my glass down, shoved back and rose from my seat.

Go to part II

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