Surfacing, part III

By Seema

When I woke the next morning, Worf was already gone, his side of the bed cold. I felt a chill running through me; since our marriage last fall, he had never slept with his back to me. I had attempted, during the night, to snake my arms around him, pressing against him, to reassure myself that I had misunderstood his reaction from the previous night; his back remained to me.

Well, Jadzia, I thought sadly, there is a first time for everything.

More than anyone, I trusted Worf to tell me the truth; in most things he did. I often felt, in those moments when I felt most alone, that Worf would support me, would understand me, that he did not join the others in their silent, smoldering condemnation of me.

I deduced from his response last night he too blamed me for stranding us on this planet. More than anything else, knowledge of his disapproval seared through me, adding yet another burden to the forty-seven I already carried.

I blinked back the water pooling in my eyes.

The internal dialogue, such an intricate part of being a joined Trill, hammered inside of my head.

*You wanted him to loathe you, Jadzia. You got what you wanted, didn't you?*

Curzon. Oh, that superior attitude, that hurtful glare, that cold, cold, unfeeling voice. I knew all of that so well, understood it so well, and in my mind, in my response, I became that shy girl, so afraid of the great Curzon Dax.

*Yes, but I didn't know it would hurt this much.*

*You want to hurt. It's the only way you know what's real.*

This time it was Lela, sweet and understanding.

*I don't want this. Not anymore.*

*You know how to end it, Jadzia. Don't you?*

Joran cutting in again, his voice rough and edgy. Impatient. Pushing for me to take that final step, the one where I could finally be free from the guilt which pressed down upon my chest, pushing all air out of my lungs - a slow and painful living kind of death.

*Why not the easy way, Jadzia? It would be so easy. A mis-step on a hiking trip or maybe you'd like to try the river again?*

*Joran… no.*

*You know it's the only way. Admit*

I know, my thoughts whispered back. I know.

I stretched out, the sleep easing from my muscles. I felt a knot forming at the back of my neck and the tension tightening in my shoulder muscles. I shivered despite the blanket tucked up to my chin.

*You can't avoid the past, Jadzia. You want to, but you can't.*

*Tell me what to do.*

*Be strong. Change what you can.*

*I don't know…*

Through the open doorway, I could see into the next room; gray light streamed through the one window, promising yet another chilly day with a chance of some kind of precipitation.

*It isn't fair to Worf, to the others.*

*I know.*

*It has to end.*

*I don't know if I can.

*You can. One step at a time. *

I threw off the covers with resolve, steeling myself not only to face the day's tasks but also those forty-seven people I had stranded here one year ago.

I dressed quickly. Our Starfleet uniforms long since been abandoned; we adopted new loose fitting clothing made out of warm, sturdy material. I paused to look in the mirror. My hair, hacked off to chin length during the summer months in an attempt to combat the intensity of Gaia's sun, was growing back haphazardly in all lengths, and in some areas, auburn. I noticed the first strands of gray above my right temple and I pressed my fingers against the offending hairs, smoothing them back into my ponytail.

I did not look at the picture of Alexander and Worf as I stepped outside. My shoulders bowed involuntarily in response to the cold as I moved briskly towards the mess hall.

When we first chose to establish our colony here on Gaia, Sisko commanded we build a large barracks first, something that would hold all of us. We cobbled the main barracks together, using frame construction and material from the Defiant's bulkheads. In retrospect, it amazed me we had known where to place the first nail or where to cut out the windows.

Next came the infirmary, a square building just to the left of the main barracks. The storehouse followed, and then the individual housing units completed the rectangle. Worf and I occupied the unit furthest from the barracks, so I crossed the distance between the two points on a diagonal, bending my head against the wind, which was whipping up leaves around my feet.

The weathered exterior of the wooden frame buildings seemed gloomy against the gray sky; the boxy architecture of the buildings in our settlement were unoriginal, the product of Starfleet engineers and scientists. O'Brien's set of microlathes, originally used to create furniture for his daughter's dollhouse, painstakingly crafted the sturdy but plain furniture for our new homes.
Once inside the main barracks, I ordered a raktajino from the replicator, cupping my hands around the warm mug.

I turned to survey the two or three people in the barracks, all of them talking in low voices, their heads bent towards each other. There was something distinctly uninviting about their postures, the way their shoulders tensed, their gazes focused intently on avoiding mine.

I felt out of place. Not for the first time since coming to Gaia, my seven lifetimes of experience failed me. I could not find the words I needed to speak to these people, my fellow crewmembers; I was desperately afraid that conversation would exhume memories of a life no longer theirs. And when they began to remember those things they had left behind, I was fearful they would look at me and remember that it was my curiosity, my enthusiasm, which had stranded them here.


I blinked a couple times to clear my vision and then turned to face Julian. He looked exhausted, his eyes red-rimmed, his face gray and haggard. Like everyone else here on Gaia, he had lost weight during the last year; now his clothes hung loosely off of his lank frame. Thin as he was, the fatigue showed even more prominently on his angular features. Unconsciously, I reached forward to touch his cheek. His skin felt slightly warm to my touch.

We had all changed so drastically since coming to Gaia in so many ways; the changes however, were most visible in Julian. His youthful energy and enthusiasm for the new adventure on Gaia disappeared in the days immediately preceding Kira's death.

"Are you all right?" I asked in concern.

"Stayed up all night," he said. "Angie Kirby is running a high fever. She was sick last night at the dinner but didn't say anything. Nearly fainted as we left. Luckily I was nearby."

"Will she be okay?" I asked, my voice trembling. I put the mug on a nearby table so as not to spill the warm liquid.

"I've given her some herbal remedies," Julian said. "They should take care of the nausea."

I nodded, knowing if we were back on Deep Space Nine, Angie Kirby's fever would have already broken and she would be well on her way to recovery.

"You'll let me know," I said quietly. "Right?"

Julian looked at me in surprise, "Of course, if you want to know."

I picked up my raktajino again, "I want to know."

Julian nodded and then said, "Were you okay last night?"

"Yes, just a little tired."

"You looked tired."

"Digging ditches, you know," I laughed hesitantly. "You'd think I'd be used to physical labor by now."

I held out my hands to show him the blisters gained in yesterday's effort to irrigate our fledgling community before the ground froze. Julian held my hands lightly in his, stroking them gently and then released them.

"Give them a few days," he said. "They will disappear, don't worry."

He sighed, rubbing his temples with the base of his palm.

"Something the matter?" I asked, fear creeping into my voice. If anything happened to Julian - or to anyone else, for that matter - I would never forgive myself.

As it was, I already had one death on my conscience.

Inside me, the symbiont jerked, evidently in distress. I placed my palm against my abdomen in an attempt to calm it. The symbiont settled itself, temporarily calm.

"Headache," Julian said.

Yet another health issue which would have been non-existent had we been on Deep Space Nine, I thought, my heart aching. But there was not much I could do for my friend though and the thought of my own helplessness occasionally invoked fantastic fury on my part, anger I attempted to keep well hidden.

"It will get better, Julian. I promise."

Julian's brown eyes darkened for a moment, an expression of confusion flashing across his face. A second later, he looked at me with a mixture of compassion and understanding.

"It's all right, Jadzia," he said gently. "We'll make it. You don't need to worry about us."

He patted me gently on the arm and then walked away. I finished the last of my raktajino and headed out to the Defiant.

The cannibalized remains of the Defiant lay beyond a gentle swell of land in a large open field. Over the past year, we had worn a dirt path between the settlement and the Defiant. For the first five or six months of our stay here, most everyone on the Defiant's crew had found a reason to return to our crippled ship, as if to assure themselves that a way to get home still existed.

Once Benjamin made the decision not to continue the repairs on the Defiant, we set upon the once sleek battle cruiser, raiding it for the necessary components we needed to build our new homes. We managed to salvage one replicator, a portable generator, some tricorders and other needed items, including power cells, EPS wiring and data crystals.

Only the Bridge remained untouched; other areas were either so completely stripped of parts as to render them useless, or like the sickbay, were transferred in their entirety to the settlement.

I entered the Defiant, shining my tiny flashlight in front of me. Silence reigned supreme on the Defiant; no purr of engines or the clang of alarms would ever sound again. I ran my fingers along the metal walls, taking comfort in the rounded angles of this ship. There were times, in the not so distant past, when I had hated the amount of time we had been forced to stay on the Defiant. I remembered long hours on the bridge, scanning continuously for Jem'Hadar, the muscles in my shoulders and neck growing tense with every passing minute. There were sleepless nights in cramped quarters, waiting for the warning klaxon to sound. Countless times, we had raced to repair the Defiant, knowing that the photon torpedoes pummeling the ship could very well destroy us before we succeeded.

Now, as I ran my fingers over the panels, I knew I would do anything to have those times back again. Forgetting the panic and tension of battle, I wanted very much to take the Defiant to do what Starfleet had initially started out to do: to explore space.

So much to discover, to learn, to theorize…

My fingers abruptly scraped against a power conduit that had been ripped out of the wall not too long ago, jolting me back to reality. I sighed and continued on my way to the Bridge, trying to keep my thoughts firmly in the present.

go to part IV

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