I entered our quarters to find Worf sitting at the table, dabbing at his hands.
I paused for a moment to put the data PADD aside.
"Are you hurt?" I asked quietly.
He held his hands out to me, revealing masses of burst blisters.
"Here," I crossed the distance between us. "Let me do that for
I took the cloth he was using and dipped it into the water. Carefully, I removed
the dirt embedded in the dried blood, clearing away dead skin.
"You were digging for O'Brien's pipeline?" I asked.
"We have laid nearly half a kilometer of pipe," he said. "We
still have some EPS conduits left to convert, but we should finish well before
the first snow fall."
"That is good news," I told him. "There, you're good as new."
Worf glanced down at his raw, pink hands as if surprised by the still lingering
traces of blood. I leaned forward instinctively and kissed him on the forehead.
"I wish I had a dermal regenerator," I whispered. "Then you
would truly be good as new. Worf, there are so many things I wish for-"
He held his fingers to my lips, exerting slight pressure.
"In a few days," he said, "my hands will heal. They will be,
as you say, good as new."
"Is it that easy?"
My lips grazed his cheek as his hands rested on my hips. After a moment, I
"Where is the picture of Alexander?"
"I put it away. There is no sense in remembering what has yet to happen."
"I cannot replace Alexander," he continued as if I hadn't spoken.
"But there will be others."
His dark eyes met mine. I leaned into him, resting my forehead against his.
"Jadzia?" Worf asked. "I thought
I thought you wanted
*Do you, Jadzia?*
*Of course. *
*Are you responsible enough?*
Only Curzon would doubt me. Anger flared up within me.
*How dare you question
*How can I not?*
"Yes, I do," I whispered. "Of course... But Alexander
oh Worf, I am sorry."
Worf gazed at me with a mixture of skepticism and relief.
"Really," I said. "I do. I didn't think
I didn't imagine
that you would want more children
you have - had - Alexander-"
Worf put his hands on my cheeks, his lips very close to my eyes.
"I wouldn't think that after all I have done that you would
I could not continue. Worf's eyes widened in understanding.
"I have never blamed you for this, Jadzia," he said softly. "I
should have told you so yesterday, but I could not help myself. I should have
been honest with you from the beginning. I am not close to my son but I love
him. That will not change."
"I know that."
His big hands ran slowly over my back.
"Forget this, Jadzia," he said gruffly. "Forget everything but
This time when his lips met mine, I did not pull away.
I let myself go boneless in his arms, feeling warmth and comfort there. He
raised his head only once to meet my eyes questioningly. I responded by running
my hands through his hair and pulling him down to the floor.
Sunlight streamed into the room, pressing against my eyelids. I stretched out,
opened one eye, and then the other.I rolled over, wrapping my arms around Worf;
he groaned, but did not awaken.
My body ached from last night, but I did not care. I examined the bruises on
my wrists, stroking them gently.
*Was that right, Jadzia?*
*It felt right.*
*Yes. I don't know why, but it did this time.*
After a few minutes of languidness, I gently pushed the covers aside.
I dressed and then left a quick note for Worf; I was going swimming.
I walked down the path, reveling in the brilliance of blue sky, the golden
orange of the sun, and the crisp air whistling through the trees.
I found Benjamin by the river, sitting against the trunk of a yet unnamed tree.
He looked up at me, a slow smile spreading across his lips.
"I missed you at dinner yesterday," he said.
I felt a familiar blush rise in my cheeks.
"Worf and I, um, we had things to discuss," I answered.
I sat down next to him, sprawling my legs out in front of me and leaning back
on my hands. In front of us, the river flowed around the bend, the water churning
white where it rushed past boulders in its path. About a kilometer down, the
river widened a little more; it would make a good place to dam it off to form
a water reservoir.
"Beautiful day," Benjamin commented.
"Yes," I said. "A nice change from yesterday."
"I've always wanted to do this. Just sit in the sun, somewhere quiet.
I always planned to find a place on Bajor, somewhere peaceful, but I never got
around to making the trip. Something always came up."
"This is nice."
"I was thinking about a baseball diamond," Benjamin said casually.
He pointed out a spot across the river. "Right there, beyond those trees.
It's flat, big enough, needs very little clearing. What do you think?"
"I think it's a good idea."
"We have enough people for at least two teams," Benjamin went on.
"Yes, I think it could work."
I could not imagine playing baseball; could not imagine standing out there,
waiting for someone to hit a ball and maybe, just maybe, I would catch it. No,
baseball was one passion I did not share with Benjamin, and I wasn't sure that
Worf would find much excitement in the sport.
"What are you doing out here?" Benjamin asked. "It's a little
early, isn't it?"
"A walk," I said. "I need the exercise."
*You're learning to lie so well, Jadzia. Doesn't it make you feel good?*
"A little cold to go swimming, isn't it?" an undercurrent ran through
his carefully modulated voice.
"I wasn't planning to," I answered carefully.
Benjamin glanced at me, "You don't have to be careful with me, Old Man."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I think you're lying," my old friend said in an even voice. "Have
you tried at all?"
"To believe what you say. When you say that it is nice here, do you mean
"I do. I wouldn't say it if I didn't."
Benjamin's glare told me an entirely different story; I didn't care. Let him
think what he wanted, believe what he wanted. It made little difference to me.
"Have you ever thought of the possibilities?" Benjamin gestured towards
the distance. "Those hills for instance. We don't know what lies beyond
them. This is what exploration is about, Jadzia, endless possibilities."
"I haven't really," I confessed. "I don't know if I want to
know what is out there."
"You like to explore, make those discoveries. Why don't you explore, Jadzia?"
" my voice trailed off as I discovered I could not
find the answers Benjamin wanted.
*Why don't you say it?*
*What's really on your mind? He's not stupid, you know.*
I know, I silently responded to those taunting voices. You don't
have to tell me; I know.
Benjamin stood up and walked to the edge of the river; I did not follow him.
I watched as he found stones along the edge and tossed them in. Occasionally,
he would skip the stones, but mostly they all landed with a resounding splash.
He turned to look at me, shielding his eyes from the sun.
*He knows about you. Knows what you've tried.*
*He only suspects. Doesn't really know. *
*You can hide from Worf, Julian, Miles, but not Benjamin. You know that.*
*He knows, Jadzia. He knows.*
"You have changed," he said.
I got to my feet.
"We all have," I answered.
"The Jadzia I remember would have jumped at the chance to investigate
something new, to make a new discovery."
"I have new priorities, new obligations
"That's just an excuse," he charged. I crossed my arms on my chest,
feeling my jaw tighten in anger. I took a step towards Benjamin, seeing his
own expression growing darker.
"The uncertainty," I said softly. "I can't predict what's out
there. That scares me."
Benjamin met me halfway.
"You chose uncertainty when you chose science," he reasoned.
"I did not choose this," I waved my hand back in the direction of
"What did you want? Some great discovery?"
"Maybe. I was so intent on making that great discovery, I never thought
I didn't take an extra second to think about what the consequences could be.
I don't intend to do that again, Benjamin. The price is too high."
We were now only a few feet away from each other, but at this moment, I felt further away from my friend than ever.
*I can't. He doesn't understand.*
*I think he does. Say something. Anything.*
*I can't. Not this time. Not now.*
*You're hiding again. It has to end. *
"Do you remember when we chose the spot for the settlement?" Benjamin
asked, his rich voice interrupting my inner dialogue. I jerked back to attention,
my eyes focused on a spot somewhere above Benjamin's right shoulder.
"Yes, of course."
Clearly, I could remember that day; Benjamin and I walking through hip-deep
grass, Worf and O'Brien behind us. After days of frustration and failure, it
had felt good to get out and do something, even if it meant sealing our fate
here on Gaia. I had been excited that day, fascinated by what Gaia might offer,
how our new lives would unravel here. That excitement, however, had lasted until
we returned to the Defiant and I saw Kira, her face drained of color. She had
been weak, needed to lean on Julian's arm, but she had insisted on seeing the
spot we had chosen. Later, exhausted by her effort, Kira had leaned on my arm
for support as we walked back to sickbay; that night, for the first time, I
was truly aware that my friend was dying.
"Jadzia," Benjamin's voice drew me back into the present. I blinked
at him in an attempt to clear my vision.
"I think that day was the last time you and I talked," he said quietly.
I looked at him in surprise. "Until today, that is. It's almost as if you
are afraid to speak."
"That's not true."
"It is. You've been afraid of your own shadow," he said. "Ever
since we made the decision to build the main barracks."
I thought back to the day we first started building. It had been hot, damned
hot. Most of us stripped down to our tanktops, sweating profusely from the exertion
of sawing and sanding the wooden slats. Our hands blistered, our shoulders ached,
and our stomachs churned as we raised the frame. Each nail pounded into the
side of that building reminded us of the decision to remain here. Even when
we lay, shoulder to shoulder, within the dark interior of the newly raised building,
we were curiously removed from the realities of our new existence.
We woke the next morning, amazed at our accomplishment, but also painfully
aware of the enormous burdens that lay ahead.
And when it was finished, this curious building of ours, I knew with stark
finality that life here was a reality; getting everyone home would never be
a hope fulfilled.
I pressed my fingers to my face in the pretense of brushing hair away from
my eyes. The whole time, I was keenly aware of Benjamin's glance, knowing that
he knew everything.
"The chief is going to install the pump today," Benjamin said. His
voice was lighthearted and unbelievably merry, as if this pump was the most
marvelous innovation he had ever seen. "He couldn't have picked a better
day for it."
"You're changing the subject," I pointed out.
Benjamin flashed a quick smile at me.
"I'm only doing what you've learned to do so well," he answered.
"That's not fair."
"You can't always expect things to be fair, Jadzia. That's not the way
things work. I would expect that you, of all people, would understand that."
"I didn't want fairness," I told him. "Only a way home."
"It's too late for that," Benjamin said. "I've told you many
times before - you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself. We depend on you,
Jadzia. Don't let us down."
I stared at him, "Let us down? What do you mean?"
"Everything. You have removed yourself mentally from Gaia. You have chosen
to martyr yourself for a cause that does not exist. Maybe you like the changes,
but I don't. I want the Jadzia Dax I remember back and I don't care how you
make it happen, but I'm tired of this attitude of yours. We are a team, Jadzia,
and you better remember that."
I winced at the sting in his voice. I wanted so much to do what he asked. I
wanted to be able to wake up in the morning and feel alive, but I knew that
The Jadzia Dax of one year ago was gone, irrevocably lost.
In some ways, even I missed her and wanted her back.
We were now standing face to face, mere inches separating our noses. As Curzon,
Benjamin had often tried to intimidate me with his height and stature; as Jadzia,
I could look him squarely in the eye. This time though, Ben's eyes were stern
and commanding - an expression I had often see him direct, scathingly, in the
direction of Quark or Garak.
"You have to make up your mind, Jadzia, what you want," he said.
"Sometimes you want everyone to be angry at you, so you can continue to
feel wounded; sometimes, you want forgiveness. It doesn't work that way."
"How can I make up my mind?" I asked softly. "Because I want
both of those things, Benjamin."
"We'll figure it out," he said quietly. He put his hand on the small
of my back, forcefully propelling me away from the water. "All of us. We'll
figure it out."
The flowers had long ago wilted, the petals brown and flaky, but there were no fresh flowers to replace them. The early frosts of autumn had killed them off several weeks past.
I doubted Kira would care. I wondered what she would think about the attention
we lavished on her grave; I could almost hear her crisp voice in my ear asking
if there wasn't something else I could be doing?
I cleared away the weeds growing in front of the stone, and then crouched back
on my heels.
Kira doesn't blame you, Lela spoke in my head.
*Of course not. She isn't that kind of person.*
*Then why do you blame yourself?*
I envied O'Brien's equanimity when he came here to speak to Kira; when I tried
to form words, I felt ridiculous, even hypocritical.
In the days following Kira's death, I could not bring myself to visit her grave.
And then when I finally did come, I could only talk of trivial things such as
the new plants we discovered on a daily basis or the latest gossip. So many
times I tried to bring myself to apologize to Kira, to beg her forgiveness,
but every time the words remained locked in my throat.
In my mind, the same pounding refrain echoed: if only if only if only if only
My visits here had become something a silent ritual; Worf had once suggested
that visiting Kira had become a sort of pilgrimage for me, an emotional catharsis,
and I could not disagree. I found an aura of calmness here, a feeling so far
removed from the vibrant person who now lay beneath the black soil of Gaia.
*It's my fault, you see.*
*How often are you going to relive a single moment?*
*Forever, I imagine.*
*That's not fair.*
I straightened up as the sun faded into its usual dull orange. Nightfall, I
knew, was not far, and I had duties to attend to back at the settlement.
"Good night, Kira," I said softly.
Already lanterns were coming on in the windows, casting soft shadows across
the ground. Voices rose and fell in rhythmic patterns as people returned from
their various locations. I stood in the middle of the courtyard watching the
activity around me.
The atmosphere around me was easy, warm and genuine. A couple walked by me,
arm in arm, their heads tipped towards each other, both of them oblivious to
my presence. I did not feel ignored, however, as I watched them pass by.
Arms slipped around me and I leaned back into Worf, feeling warm and safe in
"I would never have predicted that," I said softly.
"What?" he whispered, his lips close to my ear.
"Julian and Angie Kirby," I nodded towards the couple disappearing
into the main barracks. "It seems almost
Worf opened his mouth to speak but before he could articulate words, a loud
cheer erupted from behind us, followed by enthusiastic applause and the occasional
"The water pump," I remembered.
We joined the crowd, looking over shoulders, as O'Brien demonstrated how to
use the pump. To the enthusiastic applause of onlookers, water flowed out of
the spout and splashed onto the ground. O'Brien laughed out loud, cupping his
hands beneath the stream of water, and drank.
I slipped my hand into Worf's and squeezed.
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