Though she’d never really let Worf know it, she hadn’t been too happy on Qo’onos. She’d found herself constantly under the eye of Sirella, who had never really taken to her. In an effort to please her, she’d, well, she’d let the symbiont take over. Curzon knew how to keep Klingon matriarchs satisfied. He knew how to infuriate them too, but there she ignored the majority of temptations, though some of them had been very strong.
This was a dangerous thing, flirting with the symbiont in that manner, though she’d been doing it even before she met Worf. Marrying him had sealed her fate as walking that line for the rest of her life.
Standing in the middle of their quarters on Starbase 502, she first realized how much she had missed Starfleet decor. She couldn’t believe she’d ever called it sterile. Suddenly the colors were warm and welcoming, and bright lights were the most underrated thing in the galaxy.
Worf was off talking with Nerys, poor Nerys, who’d suffered so badly from that scandal, but hopefully now she’d get back into Starfleet and put the last few years behind her. Turink was asleep in his bedroom, having worn himself out with excitement. It was amazing to think he hadn’t been off Qo’nos since he’d been less than a month old. She’d be spending many hours, now, teaching him properly about the Starfleet half of his heritage, and get him to stop being ashamed that he was only half-Klingon.
When she heard the door to their new quarters chime, she assumed it was Worf, and putting on her brightest smile, she sung out, “Come in,” and sashayed to the front of the quarters to greet him with a big kiss. But when the doors opened, instead of her husband, they admitted a figure she’d never thought she’d see again.
“Odo?” It was the same unfeatured face and ears, the same blue eyes, the same clay-blonde hair. Though he no longer wore a Bajoran security uniform, having replaced it with a nondescript brownish jumpsuit.
“Hello, Commander Dax. Can I come in?”
“Only if you call me Jadzia,” she said, but she stepped aside and let him in.
He stood there awkwardly, looking at a chair for a moment but seemingly deciding to stand. “So,” he said.
“So,” she replied. “What’s been up with you for the past few years?”
“Well, you must know part of it; the behavior of the Founders after the war is no secret.”
“No,” Jadzia agreed. There had been very little communication between the Federation and Dominion for a year or so after the war. Then there had been an attempt to establish proper diplomatic relations, which had gone very badly, and ended four years ago with a rogue agent of the Dominion deciding to collapse the wormhole. From what anyone could tell, he’d used the earlier developed method which didn’t harm the wormhole aliens/Prophets, and certainly the orbs hadn’t gone black, but it had been a devastating blow for the Bajorans, and it had ultimately soured their relations with the Federation. This whole story, of course, resulted in the question of not only why Odo was here now, but also how he’d even gotten back to the Alpha Quadrant.
“Shortly after the wormhole was collapsed,” said Odo, “the other Founders kicked me out. Made me persona non grata throughout most of the quadrant. The Alpha Quadrant was the only place I could think to go to, the only place I knew anything about. When I got out of Dominion space I took a job as a security officer on a ship headed in the general direction of the quadrant. When that ship started traveling in another direction I switched ships. I was far enough away that I didn’t think I could get back within any of your lifetimes, so I was in no hurry.
About a year ago I got lucky; I found a ship company with transwarp abilities. But even then I couldn’t find any ships that would take me anywhere near Federation space. I finally started saving up my pay to buy a coil from them. When I had enough for a big coil and a small ship, and to pay someone to put them together, I got myself to Federation space. That was about two months ago.”
“Two months?? And why didn’t you contact any of us?!”
In response Odo put his fingers to his lips. “Before I could,” he said gravely, “Starfleet Command contacted me. I don’t know how they knew I’d returned, and I’m not sure I want to. And now they’ve left with the hint that I can join Starfleet itself if I want; I follow all the proper procedures and turn in all the proper paperwork and my acceptance is made certain. The paperwork would include a letter of recommendation from a commanding officer, of course...”
“Worf can do that,” said Jadzia. “Ambassadors have that ability, and he still has the title for another month. He’s already doing it for...” But then she drifted off.
“Kira,” Odo finished for her. His voice was nearly choked to death with pain. “I heard about what happened. I came here to see her. But now I can’t face her, Jadzia.”
“You don’t have to right away,” she assured him. “You can wait at least a couple of days. She’s going to be busy anyway, putting the last pieces of her own application together. It might even be smarter to talk to her after it’s all sent; she’ll be in a much better mood. And if the two of you join Starfleet together...”
“You’re assuming I want to join, Jadzia,” he interrupted her with a dark smile. “I might, actually. But I haven’t told you the second half of the story yet.”
“Ah yes,” said Jadzia. “Starfleet Command.”
“When I reached Deep Space 11, my transwarp coil was all but done for, and I needed multiple repairs, and was having trouble getting them. When a representative from Starfleet Command offered me and my ship passage back to Earth and a free refit, I saw more reason to accept than to decline it. Then they trapped me behind forcefields in one of their smaller buildings and grilled me. I was very nice to them, actually, answered all their questions and made no attempt to escape, and when I probably could have gotten away. Not that they appreciated it. Than they apologized, as if that was supposed to make it all better, and gave me the hint about joining Starfleet.”
It sounded like there might be more to their treatment of him, but that he didn’t want to talk about it. Jadzia didn’t press. “You know,” she mused, “ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed it of them.” But so much had happened since then to disillusion her. First of all there was what had happened to Nerys, which Starfleet was possibly as least partly responsible for; Nerys was being generous presuming them innocent until proven guilty. Also she’d seen things, things she had the feeling she wasn’t supposed to had seen, in her role as ambassador’s wife. And even before all that, there had been that strange conversation she’d had with Julian, just before she and Worf had decided to have Turink, where he hinted he’d just found out something, something Garak had told him, maybe, that had altered his view of the Federation considerably. And then she’d remembered how he’d gone to that medical conference on Risa, with that business where his ship had been delayed and apparently he’d had to give his paper late, and come back looking shaken and upset, not at all like a man who’d just been to a resort world.
But thinking about Julian was always a complicated business for her these days. After that he’d done five operations on her until she and Worf were finally able to conceive, during which it felt like they’d simultaneously grown closer and further apart. She supposed he’d had some regrets; it was the unspoken elephant in the room that had she not met Worf, she probably would have ended up with him. And so it had remained between them ever since.
“You’d better hide, actually,” she remarked to Odo. “Worf will be back any minute and more likely than not he’ll bring Nerys with him.”
As if on cue they heard the door opening. Fortunately they weren’t in immediate sight of it, but there was the sound of two voices, and Odo barely had time to hastily morph into a datapad before Worf and Nerys was in sight.
The timing of this was such that Jadzia did not give Worf the swooping, wet welcome home kiss she’d planned for, but politely pecked him hello before greeting Nerys, who had agreed to eat dinner with them. Jadzia had wanted for her to do so since they’d arrived on the starbase, but now she wished they hadn’t inconvenienced Odo so badly. And who knew what it felt like for him, when Nerys picked him up in her hand and set him on an adjoining table so she could sit in his chair.
Worf had not yet spent any time that day with Turink, and on Jadzia’s persuasion he now made it a point to have a least a few minutes for him daily, so he went to their son’s bedroom, where he had been(hopefully) reviewing his lessons. Jadzia saw Nerys visibly relax when he was gone; she’d been having to hold herself up for him.
“It’ll be all right,” Jadzia said to her. “Two more days and it’ll be all right. He did tell you he’ll probably write the letter tomorrow afternoon?”
“He did,” said Nerys, but there was something odd in the way she said it, it seemed to make her sound more tired than she usually did these days. That was partly an illusion, though; underneath that worn exterior Jadzia knew there lay a woman whose anger might drag her very far, though she worried sometimes if it might be at the expense of her old friend’s soul. What is Odo thinking right now, seeing her like this? “So, how’s Turink?”
“Doing really well, actually. Though we do need to get him into a school.” That would be its own mess, though.
“Is there one on the starbase?”
“A very rudimentary one; personnel don’t tend to stay here long. A smarter idea might be to send him to a boarding school planetside, but...”
“You don’t want to send him away.” Not even because she’d miss him as her primary reason, because she was afraid trouble happening and her and Worf not being there to do anything about it.
“Exactly. And I don’t even know how long we’re even going to stay here. Worf’s got a point, I suppose, when he says Turink shouldn’t get too attached to any location besides his homeworld.” Though while she didn’t quite want to say it out loud, part of Jadzia wondered if Worf was overdoing it, insisted Qo’nos could be his half-Trill son’s only homeworld. She herself definitely wanted to take him to Trill at some point. Just so he could see it. There was no harm in that, was there?
But then Worf returned. “I was telling Kira I would have to formally interview her, recording the interview, because that should be on record.” That was unlike him, Jadzia thought, to stick to procedure like that, but then his years as Ambassador had complicated him.
Then suddenly he looked at her, and after years of marriage she recognized the ever so slight movements of his brow to be a sign he was scrutinizing her deeply. “Jadzia,” he said, “you haven’t been to the power levels?”
“No, of course not,” she lied. They’d had one big argument about this, after which Jadzia had decided it wasn’t worth it to try to get him to either give her permission to go down into the starbase’s depths or admit that she shouldn’t need his permission in the first place. He’d read one little article about some symbiont suffered radiation damage and killing the host and he’d been paranoid about radiation since. It was no good to repeat that the host in question had been in frail health already.
And meanwhile, one of the few scientific projects Jadzia had been able to do on Qo’onos had involved the effect of accumulated matter-antimatter reaction on an area’s radiation levels over the years. There was no place better to study that than a starbase’s power levels; even starships usually didn’t last long enough to provide the kind of readings she’d gotten from this one, which had been orbiting Martisheva for over a hundred years, since the planet had joined the Federation. Another year and it would probably have to be cleaned out; power levels couldn’t be left to lie much longer than this for safety reasons. In short, this was a kind of unique opportunity.
Jadzia really hoped Worf didn’t think to look into her notetaking files. She’d been down there for two hours that morning, working as speedily as she could; as a sop to her husband and out of actual concerns she was minimizing her exposure. Though that did make the whole thing harder, because it meant her notes were a mad jumble; she might need to read them slowly just to understand them when she looked at them again, and she needed to find a couple of unobserved hours to write her findings up properly.
Meanwhile, Worf still looked suspicious. “There are other things you can do here,” he reminded her. “Didn’t you say there were chemicals on Martisheva occurring naturally nowhere else in known space?”
“Yeah,” said Jadzia. “I’ll probably look at that.” She didn’t mention most of those were radioactive as well. “And I’ve already been contacted by one of the planet’s top scientists, Juret Maids-she’s actually pretty famous in this sector; I’d heard her name a thousand times since we came here.” She was starting to relax now, with the joy of that meeting. Sweet waters of Trill, but she’d never thought she’d be this happy to be a full time scientist again. It had been nearly ten years.
“Did she talk about anything specific?”
“Not yet. But she’ll probably want to talk to me again.”
“Jadzia,” He went back that same suspicious tone he’d asked her about the power levels. Damn it. “You won’t do anything unauthorized for her?”
“Of course not,” she snapped, and there she really wouldn’t. She couldn’t afford to, not when she and Worf were both technically under threat for court martial for the crime of saving each other’s asses against orders. Neither of them could be prosecuted for what they’d done so far because of the delicacy of the surrounding circumstances, but it meant they both had to keep their noses squeaky clean for the rest of their careers.
And Worf knew that, so thankfully he had no trouble believing her. Instead he turned back to Nerys. “We can meet again tomorrow; my shift ends at 1400 hours.”
This was when perhaps Jadzia should have extended an invitation to Nerys to stay for dinner. She herself hadn’t spent nearly enough time with her since they'd both arrived on the Starbase, and she knew she had to be lonely; everyone else here knew nothing of her except her reputation, which still was pretty bad. But not only was Odo there, but there was something about the way Worf had just spoken that made it clear he didn’t want her there. Jadzia couldn’t imagine why, but she was also getting the general idea she shouldn’t push him that evening. So she just said, “I hope to see you again too, maybe after?”
She regretted it a moment later, when Nerys’ quick, “Okay, thank you,” didn’t quite conceal that she was hurt by the dismissal. Five years ago Jadzia didn’t think she would’ve been, but everything was different now.
When she was gone Worf immediately barked angrily at her, “Now tell me what it is you’re keeping from me!”
Before Jadzia could think to explain, Odo did instead, by hastily morphing back to human form. “I’m sorry,” he said. “She came in so quickly, and I just couldn’t...”
Worf had leapt back and pulled his phaser out, and while he lowered it on seeing it was Odo, he didn’t put it away as he demanded, “Tell me what you are doing here. You are supposed to be in the Gamma Quadrant!”
He did at least relax once Odo had explained how he’d been kicked out and how he’d managed to get back to the Alpha Quadrant, and on hearing he wanted to join Starfleet, he readily agreed to write the recommendation. And then he even invited Odo to stay while they ate dinner, so he could tell them both more about his adventures.
Jadzia noted, however, as the two of them ate and Odo talked away, that he carefully glossed over the events between his docking at Deep Space 11 and his arriving on the starbase. Maybe it was that he just didn’t want to talk about them twice in one evening, but she wondered too how much Odo really trusted Worf, whom he had never been that close too despite their having to work together, maybe in fact because of their having to work together. Though she couldn’t help but think it was a good call on his part if he didn’t; one never knew when Worf’s sense of duty would kick in and cause him to turn against a friend; she could rely on him to refrain against her or Turink or another member of the House of Martok, but not against anyone else.
There was plenty to tell him too; he knew the general history of everyone he’d known, but not the details, such as what Worf and Jadzia had spent most of their time doing on Qo’onos, the crazy things one ran into the world from which the Klingon Empire was governed, and especially how badly that empire and its citizens had been damaged by the war, much more than the Federation had been, really. Jadzia had spent a lot of time doing humanitarian work on those worlds which had been closer to Dominion space and had been truly devastated; of all the things she’d done the past five years, that was what she was most proud of. And Odo appeared pleased to hear about it, asking her extra questions and even laughing when she told him her favorite story, the one that always seemed to irritate Worf for some reason, about the two young Klingon boys on Kharzan and Turink’s old chewed up roosi doll.
“Would you like to see Turink?” Worf finally asked. “He is napping, but it would be appropriate to wake him to see you.” Odo said that he would, and off they went, to Turink’s new room, where he was actually just waking up.
Sometimes it was a little strange for Jadzia Dax when it came to her son. In many ways he was the best part of her life, the way she knew he was supposed to be. He especially had been during her first two years living among the Klingons, when she’d rarely been off Qo’onos, on which she’d had too little to do besides raise him. But now, at seven years of age, he was starting to turn into a a bit of a bad-tempered brat who often didn't feel like talking to either her or Worf, and who couldn’t seem to talk to anyone his own age without getting into a wrestling match with them.
Worf had told her Alexander hadn’t been unlike him at that age, and certainly all the other Klingon boys Jadzia had met had been like that too, but it still made her feel like a failure as a mother. She wasn’t supposed to have a son that embarrassed her all the time, wasn’t supposed to catch herself thinking life would’ve been a lot easier if she hadn’t had him, wasn’t supposed to wish he’d been someone else’s kid. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to think he was the only problem with returning to Federation life, even though he was the biggest. She didn’t know how it was going to work, sending him to school with children who would probably be prejudiced against him as a half-Klingon and who for obvious reasons he wouldn’t be allowed to deal with the only way he knew how to. She didn’t know how she was going to convince him to not attack his classmates before one of them ended up in intensive care, and then she didn’t know what they’d have to do at all.
But for the moment the past lay in the past, and the future in the future, and one of the things that made Jadzia feel as if her heart would be crushed with her love for her son was when she was watching him wake up. He always blinked his head off, then yanked himself up, and for a moment looked confused, as if his being asleep hadn’t made sense. But he actually didn’t react well if the first sight he saw waking up was a stranger, so Worf carefully stood in front of Odo, while Jadzia hurried up to him, and greeted him with, “Hello, Turink, we have someone new for you to meet.”
“You do?” He saw him already, she could tell. His eyes actually looked interested for nearly five seconds, maybe, before they turned dull with boredom and resignation.
“Yes,” she still tried to make it sound exciting. “It’s a man of a species you’ve never met, a very old friend of mine in fact, who I’ve told you about, but I didn’t think you’d even get to meet.”
He didn’t look any more interested, but then Jadzia added, “His name is Odo,” and on hearing the name he perked up; Odo was mentioned in his history texts, after all. “Odo, this is my son.”
Odo held out his hand, and Turink nearly shot forward in his eagerness, which immediately made his mother feel very relieved, it would make the evening much easier. Turink did ask what was a rude amount of questions when they’d only just been introduced, but Odo was amazingly patient with the boy, even freely talking about subjects Jadzia could tell were painful to him, such as what the Founders had thought and done just before he’d left them, and what Earth was like, since Turink had never seen it. Jadzia noticed though, that most of what he talked about concerning Earth was what he’d seen when they’d visited as the crew of Deep Space 9; he might very well had talked as if he hadn’t been back since. She didn’t know if Worf noticed this; he seemed a little absorbed in his own thoughts, which was a little strange, but hardly unknown, especially around Turink. Jadzia thought sometimes he still didn’t really know how to be a father.
He ate his own supper with Odo still with them, though his table manners were now far worse than his father’s. Odo seemed unaffected; as they all sat around watching him east he kept the same kind, almost sad gaze that made Jadzia want very badly to know exactly what he was thinking.
When Turink had finished eating, he said, “So is anyone going anywhere tonight?”
“I do not think so,” said Worf sternly, and immediately Jadzia very badly wanted to, but she could hardly say so in front of Turink after his father had said no.
Odo maybe spotted it, though; he gave her a calculated look before saying, “I think I would like to see a little more of the Starbase; I still haven’t seen much of it. But I could do with someone to help show me around.”
“I’d be happy to later tonight,” Jadzia quickly said. “After I put my son to bed, of course.”
She briefly worried Worf would object, but the only one who did was Turink, yelling immediately that this wasn’t fair to leave him out, and why did they always do this, go out and have fun when he had to go to bed. Jadzia let him have it all out, waiting patiently for nearly ten minutes before he started to run out of steam, at which point she said sternly, “If you continue to behave like that, Turink, I won’t take you out at all on this Starbase, except to go to school. But stop this right now and go to bed and tomorrow, if you behave at school, I’ll take you out to dinner.”
That got him to bed, and he even said he was sorry as she tucked him in, which was real progress. Worf and Odo continued to talk, mostly about matters concerning the recommendation, until she came out of his room with him asleep, and said, “So where do you want to go?”
Odo started, “I don’t want to run into...”
“Don’t worry about running into Nerys,” Jadzia assured him. “She hasn’t gone out that much since she got here. I’m afraid the scene here isn’t as diverse as it was on Deep Space 9, but we can go to the lounge.”
“I think I shall stay here,” announced Worf.
Jadzia was too used to that to feel any disappointment. She kissed him lightly, and left with a “I’ll be back by 2400.”
They were out of their quarters and headed towards the turbolift when Odo said, “Actually, I’m not sure I want to go to the lounge. Even if I only see Starfleet officers I don’t know, I don’t want to see those in a place where I’m expecting to be sociable with them.”
Jadzia thought for a moment, then said, “Odo, if we go somewhere else, could you maybe not mention it to Worf?”
“Where?” It was only when she heard his surprise that she realized how that sounded.
“Well, it’s kind of silly,” she said, “but I’m doing a little study of this base lowest levels that Worf doesn’t want me doing because he’s afraid of radiation poisoning, and just in case I don’t get a chance to get down there again, I’d like to go now. If you don’t mind, of course.”
“That sounds interesting,” said Odo, and down they went, Jadzia doing the talking as she explained her purpose to the engineers, most of whom had known already she was down there sometimes. They decreased quickly as the two of them went down further; it was standard operating procedure to monitor a starbase’s power core very remotely and each individual typically did work just outside the core itself only once every two months. “Make sure you don’t come back here for a few years,” she said to Odo as she explained this to him. “I won’t, of course.”
“It is very quiet down here,” was Odo’s first observation when at last the doors slid open to admit them to the lowest level. It actually wasn’t, quite, because they could hear the steady thrum of the core, powerful enough that the air around them almost vibrated even through the walls. But Jadzia understood what he meant when that was the only sound to greet them, and it did not stop the sound of her boots on the floor from echoing as if through true silence to ring in their ears.
She couldn’t be distracted by it, though; she had to focus completely on her tricorder. She didn’t even want to spend time explaining; she just walked straight to her first marking point, spend five seconds there doing her scans, strode on to the next, did the same, and then continued on. He followed without comment, surveying his surroundings with what didn’t look like much understanding. At one point he gingerly reached out and pressed his hand against a bulkhead, and she though she saw it go a little moist before he pulled it away.
“Sorry,” Jadzia said to him as she started to wrap up. “I know this isn’t much fun.”
“That’s okay,” Odo replied. “I don’t find it uninteresting. I actually see more down here than you might think.”
“Really?” Jadzia was piqued. “What can you see?”
“It’s actually not see, exactly. It’s hard to describe. But...” He put a hand out, fingers spread, and seemed to trace something invisible through the air. “It really isn’t safe down here.”
“We’ll be out soon.”
“It’s fine; I’m not worried. Just...surprising how much is in the air down here.”
True to her word, Jadzia finished up soon after that. “Remember not to mention this to Worf,” she said to him back in the turbolift.
“What shall we tell them we did, then?”
“Just say we went to the main lounge, got a drink, did basic introductions, that sort of thing. No wait, then he’d expect you to know the main officers if he moves to introduce you to them tomorrow, which is something he really might do. Maybe we just chatted with the bartender; I’m not sure Worf’s even met him yet. Though he probably will sooner or later, so we’d have to hope it’s later enough he doesn’t remember whether I came to the lounge on a night like this or not anymore. Or maybe we didn’t go to the lounge. Maybe we got sidetracked stargazing. I don’t know if he’d buy that, though.”
“Jadzia,” said Odo, “why don’t you just tell him you went down there? He can’t actually stop you, can he?”
“Odo, I can’t!” she snapped at him. “Don’t you realize this is more than just tonight, that I’m going to have to take those measurements at least five times more, and if he finds out, even if he doesn’t outright forbid me, he’ll huff and fuss and just make it all more hell than its worth. Just leave the whole thing be, please.”
“As you wish,” he replied gruffly, and they left it there and were mostly silent even as they took the long way back to her quarters. But she thought his pointedly saying goodbye to her before going in was a statement of objection to her lying.