STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE

Bridging the Gap


FADE IN -- DS9 DOCKING BAY ENTRANCE

(Major KIRA, looking as mad as a cat in water, waits near the entrance to the docking bay with her usual lack of patience. She is wearing civilian clothes and carrying a minimum of luggage. ODO leans against the wall opposite, watching her with the faintest trace of an amused smile.)

KIRA
Odo, can't I just go? If I have to take this vacation in the first place --

ODO
I thought that humanoids liked vacations, Major.

KIRA
We do when we aren't forced to take them... (loudly, to the corridor at large) and when people who say that we can't leave without them seeing us off show up on time! I tell you, she's--

(DAX and BASHIR come hurrying along the corridor. DAX carries a small bottle in her hands.)

DAX
(gleefully)
Here it is -- Julian was able to get it from M'jedla Three -- (she hurries up to Kira on the platform and starts randomly anointing her with small splashes of the bottle's contents.) There you go! Deltan Pheromone Replicate!

KIRA
What -- that stuff is illegal! (She tries ineffectually to wipe away the damp spots on her uniform.)

BASHIR
Not exactly illegal -- I believe the old Earth term would be "by prescription only". It's actually indicated in certain medical cases. It's one of the few absolutely foolproof cures for male impotence ...

BASHIR, apparently deciding that he does not have said problem, backs away.

KIRA
What?!!

BASHIR
It's actually applied to the sufferer's partner --you have to use it cautiously, especially if the partner is likely to be near anyone else for the first forty-eight hours after application. Jadzia suggested that it might make the perfect prescription for an absolutely marvelous vacation.

KIRA
(throwing up her hands)
Great! Why don't you just spray me with fluro-carbons -- maybe I can pick up some hungry Cardassian vole.

BASHIR
Well, if you'll excuse me ...

(BASHIR exits hastily.)

ODO
(clearing his throat)
Major, I thought you might enjoy this ...

(He hands KIRA a small square package. KIRA, still seething, rips it open.)

KIRA
What is it? Vole bait?

ODO
No... it's a book. You had mentioned an interest in reading some of the Terran mysteries that I find so enjoyable -- this is one by a man called Raymond Chandler -- one of his best, I think.

KIRA
(visibly softened; she smiles)
Thanks, Odo -- I should have known not to expect any nonsense from you.

(KIRA thumbs through the book, checking the flyleaf. She is surprised to actually find an inscription. She reads aloud:)

KIRA
"Major -- may you enjoy this as much as I have. Odo. P.S. Don't read the ending first." (Shakes her head.) You know, I'm off duty, and I'm still going to be off duty when I read this -- you could have called me 'Nerys'. (beat) Are you sure you won't reconsider?

ODO
I really have too much I need to do.

(KIRA smiles, impulsively reaching out and giving Odo a kiss on the cheek before disappearing into the docking bay. He stands stunned for a few seconds. DAX falls into step beside ODO as they start down the Promenade.)

DAX
(sotto voce)
Reconsider?

ODO
Major Kira asked me if I would like to join her on her trip to Bajor.

DAX
(whistles)
Sounds like a good opportunity for nonsense to me.

ODO
(stone-faced)
I don't know what you mean.

DAX
You're forgetting those hours you were host to Curzon.

ODO
Hmph. (beat) A tour of Bajoran temples and monasteries somehow failed to appeal to me.

DAX
Oh. (beat) Odo, are you ever going to tell Nerys how you feel about --

(The most welcome red alert ever sounded interrupts DAX's question. DAX hits her com badge as she and ODO break into a jog.)

DAX
Ops! Odo and Dax here! What's happening?

SISKO (v.o)
Six Klingon vessels were detected in the Nadirious Belt before they cloaked. Sensors indicate that, unless they change course, they're headed straight for this station.

DAX and ODO exchange looks before picking up the pace.

FADE OUT.

END OF TEASER.


FADE IN

INT. -- SISKO'S READY ROOM

(SISKO, WORF, O'BRIEN, and BASHIR are already present as DAX and ODO come through the door. The red alert siren throbs around them. Everyone's gaze is fixed on SISKO as he relays the situation.)

SISKO
I just finished speaking with Admiral Kelvin on subspace -- Star Fleet Command is aware of the situation, and the admiral informs me that the Klingons are en route to -- negotiate.

(SISKO's officers all exchange looks of varying degrees of suspicion. BASHIR, who can always be trusted to ask the question that others might consider naiive, speaks right up.)

BASHIR
Does the Admiral have any idea what they want, Captain?

(SISKO studies the table for a moment. Finally he looks up, straight across the room at ODO.)

SISKO
They want Security Chief Odo.

(Everyone turns to stare at ODO, who in turn stares back at SISKO.)

ODO
Me? What for?

SISKO
According to the admiral, they have some idea that they would like to -- experiment with ways to detect and interrogate the Founders.

(Minor bedlam ensues. WORF, appalled, but remembering his chain of command, asks:)

WORF
Did Admiral Kelvin suggest that we -- turn Odo over to them, sir?

SISKO
No. He just needs us to -- buy him some time. They have reason to believe that the Klingons next -- "area of interest" will be the settlements along the Nadirious belt -- he'd like to have the chance to evacuate as many civilians as he can and get the planetary defenses some serious reinforcements.

DAX
So we initially pretend that we're actually considering the Klingons' offer.

SISKO

That's about the size of it. (beat) Dax, I'm afraid that you're going to have to contact Major Kira and tell her that her vacation will need to be postponed.

DAX
(beat) Benjamin -- I'm not sure that's the best idea...

CUT TO:

INT -- CONFERENCE ROOM

CLOSE-UP -- SISKO.

(DAX has just finished explaining KIRA's current condition. BASHIR has joined her at the captain's other side. SISKO looks utterly amazed, and none too pleased.)

SISKO
Let me get this straight... you can't call Major Kira back from her vacation for at least forty-eight hours because of her perfume?

DAX
Not exactly...

SISKO
Then what, exactly?

DAX
It's -- um -- D.P.R.

SISKO
D.P.R.?

BASHIR
Deltan Pheromone Replicate, sir.

SISKO
You're saying that Major Kira decided to wear a olfactory aphrodisiac -- an illegal olfactory aphrodisiac known to provoke barroom brawls -- just to spice up her vacation?

BASHIR
No, not exactly...

SISKO
(Softly menacing.) Then could someone please be exact?

DAX
Actually, Benjamin -- I just sort of -- splashed a little on her.

SISKO
You did.

DAX
Right as she was leaving -- come on, Benjamin! Otherwise she would have just gone on retreat, or to help out with some farming project!

SISKO
Might I ask where you got this -- controlled substance?

BASHIR
Actually, Captain, I prescribed it.

SISKO
I see. (beat) Am I correct that this substance is generally only prescribed for extreme cases of impotence?

BASHIR
No -- it has certain other psychiatric applications -- still experimental, of course. It's thought that it might be used to induce a greater sense of self-confidence and self- awareness in a person who might be overworked, or generally subject to unusual levels of stress. I'm doing a paper on it, actually.

DAX

(Helpfully.) Major Kira has certainly been under an unusual level of stress.

There is a long silence as SISKO looks from one innocently smiling face to another. Finally he stands up.

SISKO
(Falsely calm and soothing.) Well, it looks like we're going to have to get ready for what could turn into a major engagement with a Klingon fleet without the benefit of my First Officer -- in the meantime, I'm sure that I can count on both of you to lend an extra hand -- maybe do some extra shifts -- until this problem is solved, isn't that right?

DAX
Oh, right!

BASHIR
Absolutely.

SISKO
And you're going to check into an antidote for this D.P.R. - - is that right, Doctor?

BASHIR
Definitely. Right away.

SISKO
(Even gentler.) Oh, good. (Sharply.) To your stations!

CUT TO:

EXT. -- STANDARD SHOT OF BAJORAN CAPITOL.

CUT TO:

INT -- A BAR

(Although the decor indicates a fairly upscale place, KIRA nonetheless has to fight her way through a crowd of men (and maybe a few women) all clamoring to buy her a drink. She manages to make her way to a rear exit hall, and has almost gotten to the exit door when she stumbles into a trio of FERENGI traders who move to block her path.)

KIRA
Oh, great. First I get kicked out of a monastery, and now this. Excuse me...

1ST FERENGI
You are Major Kira Nerys?

KIRA
(realizing that this may not be related to her "perfume") That depends. Who wants to know?

1ST FERENGI
A friend -- Quark -- sent us to find you. You are Kira Nerys?

KIRA
(relaxing, although still annoyed) All right, I'm Major Kira. What did Quark send you for?

1ST FERENGI
You must come with us.

(The SECOND FERENGI, standing off slightly to Kira's side, thrusts a hypospray into her thigh. Kira stiffens before losing consciousness.)

CUT TO:

INT. -- QUARK'S.

(BASHIR and DAX sit at a table together, both looking somewhat the worse for wear. BASHIR is explaining the contents of the vial in his hand.)

BASHIR
-- this should largely, if not entirely, eliminate the effects of the Deltan Pheromone Replicate. Have you apprised Major Kira of the situation yet?

DAX
Not yet -- the Klingons can't be here for at least twelve more hours, and I thought she could have a few hours of fun, anyway. (She takes the vial.) I didn't realize that there was an antidote to D.P.R.

BASHIR
It's still somewhat experimental. (He leans over so that his nose is a little closer to DAX's hand holding the bottle.) You got a little of the replicate on your fingers when you were putting it on Kira, didn't you?

DAX
Did I? (Looks at Julian's faintly glassy-eyed expression more closely.) Oh. I guess I did. (QUARK approaches with a tray of drinks. QUARK starts to put the drinks down on the table, and then freezes when his head comes closer to DAX's hand.)

QUARK
(Faintly) Is that -- is that --?

DAX
D.P.R., yes. (After an amused look at the males surrounding her, she regretfully opens the bottle of "antidote" and rubs some on her hands. The males blink and recover themselves.)

QUARK
All right, who's your supplier? Perhaps we could do a little business --

BASHIR
It's prescription only, Quark. Besides, I thought you didn't deal in controlled substances.

QUARK
(stiffly, the picture of virtue) Of course not. (beat) Only for medicinal purposes.

DAX
(laughing) Speaking of medicine, I'd better get this antidote to Nerys. (speaking into com badge) Dax to Kira, come in please. This is Dax to Major Kira -- Kira, will you please come in?

(Silence reigns. Shot widens to include ODO approaching the group at the table.)

DAX
Kira? This is an emergency message -- please respond.

(The silence grows deafening. )

ODO
What's going on?

DAX
It's Major Kira -- she's not answering her hail.

ODO
That's not like Kira.

BASHIR
He's right. I don't care if she's having the time of her life, it's not like the Major to ignore an emergency message.

ODO
Not if she's getting it.

(The group exchanges alarmed looks.)

CUT TO:

INT -- OPS

(DAX and ODO preparing to go through a docking bay to one of the runabouts.)

DAX
I've traced her combadge signature over long range scanners and fed the coordinates into the runabouts directional computer so we can synchronize our orbit once we get to Bajor with her location. (Just before they dematerialize.) I just hope we don't catch her having TOO much fun ...

CUT TO:

INT -- HALL IN BAJORAN BAR

(DAX and ODO materialize. ODO immediately spots KIRA's com badge, discarded on the floor. As he and DAX exchange looks, a young Bajoran DABO GIRL bustles into the hall, on her way home after her shift.)

ODO
Excuse me, young woman, but did you by any chance see a Bajoran woman with reddish hair wearing this? (He shows the DABO GIRL the com badge. Beat.) She would have been (beat) quite popular.

DABO GIRL
That one. (Rolls her eyes.) Sure, I saw her. She went out that door (points to the exit behind them) less than an hour ago with a bunch of those Ferengi. So drunk she couldn't stand up. Passed out, she was.

(ODO and DAX stare at each other, worried.)

DAX
That is definitely not like Kira.

ODO
(turning back to the DABO GIRL) Did you happen to see which way they went?

DABO GIRL
Sure -- I was outside in the alley, taking a breath of air. They headed for Zirin's.

DAX
Who is Zirin?

DABO GIRL
He's a merchant -- so he says. Some call him a smuggler. Practically anything you want you can get at Zirin's, if the price is right.

ODO
Thank you.

(The DABO GIRL continues on her way. ODO turns to DAX.)

ODO
Let's go.

CUT TO:

INT -- ZIRIN'S

(ZIRIN's is an amazing collection of intergalactic junk, heaped in diverse profusion. ZIRIN himself is a bright-eyed old man, with an eye for a pretty face. He greets DAX with enthusiasm as she comes through the door, and manages a smile for ODO as well.)

ZIRIN
What can I do for you today? I hope that I can be of some service -- I'd hate to disappoint such a pretty lady. (ZIRIN bows over DAX's hand.)

DAX
(smiling) I hope so, too -- we're looking for someone. (beat) Did you by any chance have some other customers, no more than an hour ago -- a group of Ferengi and a Bajoran woman.

ZIRIN
Ferengi! (ZIRIN looks like the word tastes bad.) They're the type that give honest merchants a bad name (beat) but yes, I saw them. Such a lovely woman, too -- a bit under the weather, though. I'm sorry to have to say this, but I think she'd had a little too much of something she shouldn't have.

(ODO and DAX exchange glances.)

DAX
Did they buy anything?

ZIRIN
Ferengi usually aren't just browsers, unless they're trying to run down your price.

ODO
Do you remember what they bought?

ZIRIN
Of course I do -- how could I not? Biggest sale I've had in weeks. (beat) They bought a ship.

(DAX and ODO look startled.)

DAX
A ship? What kind of ship?

ZIRIN
Well, I don't mean a boat. (beat) A nice little scout ship it was. Got top dollar for it, too.

(Something about this statement doesn't seem right. ZIRIN nods in answer to DAX and ODO's unspoken question.)

ZIRIN
That was the strange thing about it. Those Ferengi -- they didn't try to bargain me down, even though I admit to having named a price that was pretty high -- with Ferengi, I figured I had to or they'd bargain me down to nothing. Paid me in latinum, too -- no haggling with credits. Most un- Ferengi-like Ferengi I ever met.

ODO
What was the name of the vessel? Where did you have it docked?

The

ODO
Thank you for your time. (ODO and DAX look at each other and reach a decision without further conversation.)

ODO

Odo to Rubicon. Two to beam up, please.

(They dematerialize, to the trader's protests.)

ZIRIN
Wait! Don't you want to buy anything?

CUT TO: SHOT OF STATION.

ODO (v.o.)
Security Chief Odo's log, Stardate ________. Having exhausted possibilities on Bajor, we are preparing to track the Bajoran scout ship purchased by the Ferengi so-called traders with the use of the Defiant. However, a certain amount of investigating will take place here at (beat)

CUT TO:

INT. - QUARK'S

(QUARK is flanked by ODO and DAX. QUARK is clearly very put out.)

QUARK
I don't know how many times I have to tell you this -- I don't know anything about any Ferengi on Bajor, and I have no idea where Major Kira is! (beat) What makes you think that it was Ferengi who kidnapped her, anyway?

ODO
(wearing the impatient look of man re-traveling ground he's already covered) They were identified as Ferengi by two independent sources.

QUARK
Do you know their names? Do you know what they looked like?

ODO
They looked like Ferengi!

QUARK

That's hardly enlightening. All right, did anyone mention anything else distinctive about them -- what was their bargaining style?

ODO
They didn't bargain.

QUARK
(incredulous) What?

DAX
They didn't bargain. They just bought the scout ship and left.

QUARK
They didn't bargain... (What seemed an oddity to ODO and DAX is obviously an obscenity, a sacrilege, and mental aberration beyond comprehension to QUARK, who has to take a moment to recover himself. Then:) They must have been insane!

ODO
Or else paid not to waste time bargaining.

QUARK
A Ferengi not to bargain -- on a major purchase?? It would have cost a fortune!

DAX
Yes, but why would they want Kira in the first place?

QUARK
(instantly) Profit.

DAX
Yes, but who's providing the payment?

ODO
(decisively) Come along, Quark. You're coming with us on the Defiant.

QUARK
I beg your pardon?

ODO
We need someone who speaks these traders' language. I certainly don't.

QUARK
Do I need to remind you that I'm a private citizen?

DAX
(turning on the charm) Quark, you'd hate it if anything happened to Kira, wouldn't you? (DAX fondles one of QUARK's ears and murmurs into it, with predictable results.) It would mean so much to me if you could help Odo and me out -- (beat) just -- (beat) this -- (beat) once. (DAX accentuates each of her last three words with little puffs of breath against QUARK's earlobe.)

QUARK
(halfway to ecstasy) I'll do it!

ODO
Wonderful. Let's get going.

(DAX abandons QUARK's ear, her mission accomplished. ODO and DAX start purposefully for the door, QUARK trailing blissfully behind them.)

CUT TO:

INT. -- THE BRIDGE OF THE DEFIANT

(ODO, DAX, WORF, and BASHIR man their stations, along with a normal bridge complement.)

CUT TO:

INT. -- A HOLDING CELL ON THE JEM'HADAR SHIP

(KIRA is lying a cot which is bare except for a light blanket folded at her feet. She moans as she comes to.)

KIRA
Quark, as soon as I get my hands on you I'm going to -- (beat)

(Sound of approaching voices. KIRA freezes.)

VOICE (v.o)
Is the prisoner awake?

(Kira hurries to one side of the door and flattens herself against the wall. As a Jem'Hadar GUARD comes in, she jumps and tries to subdue him. Unfortunately, he has a partner, and between the two of them, with several well-placed blows, they soon have KIRA back on her cot, holding her gut and struggling not to faint or cry out.)

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP. KIRA, EYES CLOSED, IN PAIN.

VOICE (v.o.)
We meet again, Major Kira.

(Kira looks up. The leader of the FOUNDERs who she met on ODO's home world stands in front of her.)

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.

INT. -- KIRA's CELL.

KIRA
(stands up) Why have you brought me here?

FEMALE CHANGELING
We have no wish to harm you, Major. Your presence here is simply to guarantee that we get what we want.

KIRA
And just what would that be?

FEMALE CHANGELING
It's very simple -- we have offered you in exchange for Odo. I expect we will have their decision shortly.

KIRA
Why would they want to trade Odo for me? (sarcastic) Is it because you still think that we put less value on him because he's a changeling?

FEMALE CHANGELING
They will trade. Odo himself will make that decision for them. Do you not believe that he would trade his life for yours?

KIRA
(Knowing that ODO would, she bluffs.) Why should he?

FEMALE CHANGELING
Because he is foolish enough to think himself in love with you. Did you not yet realize it?

KIRA
(automatically) You're out of your mind!

FEMALE CHANGELING
I heard him say it myself, the time the two of you were together on that very unstable planetoid. Did he never tell you?

KIRA
I knew that there was a Founder who impersonated me. But Odo never told me anything like that!

FEMALE CHANGELING

I made the mistake, when I (beat) impersonated you, of responding that I -- you -- were in love with him too. That is how he finally saw through my deception.

(Kira is absolutely silent, remembering the incident and the little that ODO told her about it. Finally --)

KIRA
I don't believe you. Of all the ridiculous --

FEMALE CHANGELING
Why ridiculous? Do you find it repugnant, that a changeling be in love with you? Unnatural -- (beat) disgusting?

KIRA
Of course I don't think that! If Odo were in love with me, I'd be -- I'd be proud of it!

FEMALE CHANGELING
Proud? Surely you exaggerate, Major. How could a solid ever truly appreciate the love of a changeling?

KIRA
Some of us can appreciate love whoever it comes from. Besides, Odo is my best friend -- he's one of the finest men I know.

FEMALE CHANGELING

If you think so highly of him, why do you find it strange that he might think equally highly of you? That he might even love you?

KIRA
Because Odo has never said or done anything that --

(KIRA stops, as certain small remembrances slip unbidden and unwelcome into her brain. She sinks back onto the cot and sits in a huddled position. She wears a faintly puzzled expression that shifts into one of worried amazement. For the moment her captors are forgotten.)

FEMALE CHANGELING
The important thing, Major, is that we will get Odo back, thanks to you.

FEMALE CHANGELING exits. KIRA barely notices.

KIRA
(the merest breath above a whisper) Odo, why didn't you tell me?

FADE OUT.

SCENES MISSING --


A word of explanation here ... this is where I originally meant to insert the obligatory ships standing off sequence, and Odo agreeing to exchange himself for Kira. Somehow I never got back to it, and NO ONE EVER MISSED IT. :)


FADE IN.

INT. -- KIRA's CELL.

(The lights have been lowered, implying night. KIRA is lying on the cot, dozing.)

(Enter ODO, escorted through the door by two Jem'Hadar guards. They reactivate the containment field and leave. ODO hurries to KIRA's side. He sits down on the edge of the cot, reaches out and lightly touches KIRA's face, then lets his hand fall to his side.)

ODO
Nerys ...

KIRA
(eyes opening; struggling to rise) Odo!

ODO
Major, I have to do this -- (ODO takes a lancet out of his pocket and lightly touches a spot on the back of KIRA's hand, wiping away and studying the drop of blood that wells up. ODO relaxes.)

KIRA

I understand. Odo, am I glad to see you -- (suddenly suspicious) It is you, isn't it? Tell me what we did the evening before I left on vacation.

ODO
We played cards, and I beat you. (pause.) Badly.

(KIRA sags in relief while ODO takes stock of her generally bruised and battered appearance. He starts to reach out to touch a bruise on her face, but lets his hand fall abruptly.)

ODO
Well, it looks like we've been double-crossed. Fortunately, the people on the Defiant were expecting it.

KIRA
What do you mean?

ODO
What do you think? A Founder took your shape and beamed over to the Defiant in your place, in exchange for me.

(KIRA tries to sit up again, this time with more success. She groans. ODO slips his arm behind her back to support her.)

KIRA
You know, there must be advantages to being a liquid.

ODO
Yes, but think of all the things you'd miss.

KIRA
Such as?

ODO
Eating, drinking ...

KIRA
Hurting ...

ODO
Are you seriously injured, Major?

KIRA
I think I may have a broken rib -- nothing else too serious. If you could just bind it up --

(ODO looks around the room, and pulls the blanket off of KIRA's cot.)

ODO
What about this?...

(He tears a few strips off of the end of the blanket. KIRA unfastens her tunic top, but winces with pain as she tries to shrug it off her shoulders.)

ODO
Here, let me help you ...

(ODO gently works the tunic over KIRA's shoulders and slides it off her arms. KIRA is wearing her usual white, lattice-work undershirt underneath -- it is tight enough that ODO can begin to wrap the bandage around her over it.)

ODO
I'm sorry if this hurts...

KIRA
(wincing) No, that's what it needs. (As he finishes.) That feels better. We could have used you in the Resistance -- Sweet Prophets, could we have used you in the Resistance. (She stops, thinking about what ODO's changeling abilities might have meant in certain situations.)

ODO
I can imagine.

KIRA
(pause) Odo, why did you do it?

ODO Do what?

KIRA
Why did you work for the Cardassians?

ODO
You mean why was I a collaborator?

KIRA
No! -- (shakes her head; startled) I -- I never think of you that way -- just as well, I suppose.

ODO
I suppose I thought it would be better to have people falling under my jurisdiction than if station security was being directly administered by one of Dukat's henchmen. I thought I could provide a buffer... (pause) a velvet glove of sorts.

KIRA
You certainly saved my hide on more than one occasion. (reaches out and gently takes ODO's hand in hers) Odo, the leader of the Founders said that --

(There is sudden noise in the outside hall.)

ODO
Shh!

(KIRA releases ODO's hand as they both shift into positions where they can move quickly if need be, KIRA wincing as she does so. They both stare at the doorway expectantly.)

(The FEMALE CHANGELING enters, flanked by 2 Jem'Hadar guards.)

FEMALE CHANGELING Your people are quite clever, Major Kira. Fortunately, we have what we want. (she nods at ODO.) Odo has decided -- of his own free will -- that he would prefer to stay here, with us.

KIRA
(aghast) Odo --

ODO
It's all right, Major.

FEMALE CHANGELING
Odo understands that the best place for him is with his own people. Surely you can understand that.

KIRA
Odo... you can't want to stay here ...

FEMALE CHANGELING
But he can. (looks at ODO) Why don't you tell her?

ODO
(visibly bracing himself)
She's right, Major. It's time I rejoined my own people, learned who I am and where I come from.

KIRA
(outraged) Odo, you can't believe that! (heavily sarcastic) I'd think that you already know more than enough about "your people".

ODO
I'm sorry, Kira. The guards will take you now, to pre- designated coordinates for your transfer back to the Defiant.

KIRA
(disgusted) Odo, how can you do this?

ODO
It's something I have to do.

(KIRA just stares at him, beyond speech. The GUARDS grab her, each to a side, and a startled cry escapes her at the sudden painful movement. The FEMALE CHANGELING steps forward and presses a small hypospray into KIRA's arm before she can protest.)

FEMALE CHANGELING
It's something for the pain. It's a drug that our readings indicate as being tolerable to your system.

(KIRA flexes cautiously; she DOES feel better.)

KIRA
(stiff) Thank you.

FEMALE CHANGELING
You can thank Odo, he suggested it.

(KIRA is silent. She has said all that she plans to say to ODO.)

ODO
Nerys --

(ODO steps forward and unexpectedly gathers KIRA into his arms, burying his lips in her hair. She stiffens, but doesn't break from his grasp. Then he steps away.)

ODO
Good-bye, Major.

(KIRA gives him a final anguished stare before allowing the guards to lead her away. The FEMALE CHANGELING pauses before following, looking at ODO.)

ODO
I think that I'd like to be alone now, if it's all the same to you.

FEMALE CHANGELING
(inclining her head) As you wish -- you're with your own people now. No one will interfere with you -- or your choices. (She exits.)

(ODO stares after her, a strained, anxious expression on his face.)

FADE OUT.

CUT TO:

(KIRA, walking between the guards. She suddenly stops and shudders, hugging her arms across her chest.)

FEMALE CHANGELING
Major, is there a problem?

KIRA
I'm just cold, and it makes my ribs hurt. I left my tunic back in the cell.

(The FEMALE CHANGELING looks suspicious, but motions to one of the guards to go and get it. KIRA, true to form, tries to overcome the other guard just as soon as the first one disappears. In her weakened state she is almost immediately subdued, her arms twisted behind her back.)

FEMALE CHANGELING
Major, we truly are sending you back to your people -- this time. I see no reason why you should make this any more difficult for yourself.

KIRA
I don't believe -- I can't believe that Odo really wants to stay here. If you really care about him, why don't you let him go?

FEMALE CHANGELING
Odo has made his own decision. If you really care about him, why don't you let him stay? (The guard comes up with KIRA's uniform tunic.) Here, put this on and come -- it's almost time for the transfer.

(KIRA takes the jacket from the guard, refusing any assistance as she shrugs into it painfully. She straightens, and allows herself to be hustled into a nearby transporter chamber.)

FEMALE CHANGELING
(as KIRA is hustled onto the transporter pad) I didn't lie, you know, about what Odo said to me. (One of the guards moves to the controls.) Perhaps he just decided that it will be less painful for him this way. Good- bye, Kira Nerys.

(KIRA disappears in a glimmer of transporter effect and another CHANGELING materializes on the transporter pad. The FEMALE CHANGELING nods in greeting, staring at the spot where KIRA had stood.)

CHANGELING 2
Odo -- is he here?

FEMALE CHANGELING
(nodding) For now... (pause; she holds up the empty hypospray that she used on KIRA) And I have made sure that there will be one less reason for him to want to return to the solids.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.

INT. - BRIDGE OF THE DEFIANT.

(WORF, DAX, SISKO and BASHIR all watch tensely as KIRA materializes . She wavers, nearly collapsing.)

BASHIR
Major Kira!

(KIRA waves BASHIR and DAX back as they both start to leap to her aid. There is a ripple of golden gelid light around her, as ODO abandons his disguise as KIRA's tunic and resumes his usual form at her side. He helps her to her feet as the others pause uncertainly.)

KIRA
It's all right -- it's Odo.

WORF That is a fact that needs to be better established.

(The ship shudders; it is under attack.)

ODO
I'd think that was a fairly good sign of it, wouldn't you?

SISKO
Dax! Get us out of here! We can validate people's identities later -- meanwhile, no one leave the bridge!

(DAX manipulates the controls dexterously and manages a fairly clean transition into warp.)

SISKO
Engage cloaking device.

DAX
Cloaking device engaged.

(SISKO turns and nods at Julian, who apologetically draws a blood sample from KIRA. SISKO then turns his attention to ODO.)

SISKO
Well, Constable, that leaves you.

(Everyone is temporarily stymied. How do you go about confirming that your changeling is the right one? KIRA's look finally brightens.)

KIRA
Dax! Did anyone bother to get my bag from my hotel?

DAX
I did. It didn't look like you'd ever bothered to open it.

KIRA
It still has the customs' seal on it from the transport?

(DAX nods. KIRA turns back to ODO, who is hovering anxiously at her side.)

KIRA
Odo, what did you do immediately before I left the station for Bajor two days ago?

ODO
I gave you a book. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

KIRA
And what was the inscription?

(ODO barely has to think about it -- for all its casualness, this inscription was something he anguished over for a long time.)

ODO
"Major -- may you enjoy this as much as I have." Plus, there was a postscript -- "Don't read the ending first."

(KIRA grins and nods. The others visibly relax, although all but Worf were pretty well convinced.)

KIRA
Odo, I thought for a while that I might have to drag you back here, but I never expected to wear you --

(KIRA suddenly freezes. Her face is white.)

ODO
Major--?

(Without further warning, KIRA slumps over, ODO catching her and managing to lower her gently to the floor. BASHIR springs into action, hurrying to kneel beside her, his scanner already out and working.)

BASHIR
(slapping his com badge) Emergency! Two to beam to sickbay, now!

(They vanish.)

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.

INT. -- SICKBAY ON THE DEFIANT

(KIRA is lying on a bio-bed with ODO sitting patiently at her side, eyes fixed on her unconscious face. He is so absorbed that at first he fails to notice BASHIR, coming in to check some readings. BASHIR studies ODO's expression closely, a glimmer of comprehension lighting up his eyes.)

BASHIR
Good evening, Constable.

ODO
How is she?

(BASHIR checks the readings over KIRA's bio-bed.)

BASHIR
Fortunately, I was able to pick up quite a bit of information that the Founders didn't realize I had, when Chief O'Brien and I were held by the renegade Jem'Hadar. The toxin they administered to Major Kira is a derivative of __________- White -- I've fabricated an antidote, and she should be coming 'round very soon now.

ODO
They poisoned her?

BASHIR
Yes, but she's going to be fine. (beat) Constable, sometimes things like this happen to remind us that there isn't always all the time in the world to say the things that are important to the people we care about.

ODO
What are you getting at, Doctor?

BASHIR
Constable, this is certainly none of my business, but -- aren't you in love with her?

ODO
I can't imagine what you're talking about. (Looks up at BASHIR, realizes that he's not fooling him. Stares at his hands for a moment. Finally:) How did you know?

BASHIR
Maybe it's just what Jadzia says about me -- that I'm a hopeless romantic. (pause) Maybe it's the way you haven't budged from her side for the past three hours. (pause) Odo, don't you think that it might be better if you just went ahead and told her about it?

ODO
I couldn't.

BASHIR
But why not? What harm could it really do?

(ODO shakes his head.)

ODO
I have my reasons, Doctor -- and like you said, it's none of your business. (not a reproach so much as a simple statement of fact.)

BASHIR
Well, it's certainly your decision, Constable. (shrugs; smiles) I suspect I'm not needed here for a while -- if you're planning to sit with her, be sure to call me if any problems come up.

ODO
I will, Doctor.

(ODO watches BASHIR as he walks away. The lights dim as BASHIR exits, to the ship's simulated night.)

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP -- KIRA, AWAKE.

(ODO turns and realizes with a jolt that KIRA is conscious. She smiles.)

KIRA
Hello, Odo.

ODO
Hello, Major. (awkward pause) How do you feel?

KIRA
Better than expected. It's a good thing that you were able to whisper to me to forget my jacket until I was out in the corridor -- I don't think I would have remembered it in the first place, but I doubt if I would have asked anyone to go back for it.

ODO
It was a -- spur of the moment idea. I was rather surprised when it worked.

KIRA
Well, you certainly had me fooled about wanting to stay there...

ODO
They would have killed you, Major -- they still tried to, even after I told them I'd stay. (gruffly -- "don't thank me for this!":) I would have stayed if it meant saving your life.

KIRA
I know you would have.

(KIRA reaches out and gently takes ODO's hand.)

KIRA
Odo, the -- the leader of the Founders was talking to me. She said that you once told her that ... (pause)

ODO
(stiffly, he knows what's coming)

Yes, Major?

KIRA
... that you were in love with me.

(ODO remains silent, staring ahead of him. His silence screams a validation of her words.)

KIRA (cont.)
Odo, why didn't you tell me?

ODO
(pause; finally) I saw no reason to.

KIRA
No reason -- ?

ODO
I thought it would make you uncomfortable.

KIRA
Odo, I --

(KIRA pauses, helpless, at a loss for words.)

ODO
I seem to have been accurate in my judgment.

KIRA
(finally) A person has the right to know what their choices are. I didn't know that your people could fall in love, Odo -- how could I let myself think that you might fall in love with me? (softer) Or I with you.

ODO
(looks at her warily; with no real hope)
Nerys, I --

KIRA
Please... this kind of thing isn't easy for me, so just let me get it out. (pause) Odo, I don't know if I -- if what I feel for you is the same thing that you feel for me... but I was awake and I heard what Julian was saying ... All of those years in the resistance, you'd think I would have learned better what he was talking about -- about not having all of the time in world to say the things that are important. When I thought that you really meant to stay behind, that I might never see you again ...

(She struggles to sit up and Odo automatically puts his arm behind her back to help her. ODO practically freezes as KIRA puts her arms around him, resting her head on his chest.)

KIRA
I'm just glad you're here.

(His face a battleground for fear and hope, ODO folds KIRA in his arms as though she is made of crystal.)

FADE OUT.

THE END

Copyright 1995 by Carolyn R. Fulton*

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE and all of the characters, places, etc therefrom are the property of Paramount Pictures, Inc. This story however, is mine. It was written purely for personal enjoyment and does not intend to infringe on Paramount's copyright in any way. It may not be changed or altered in any way. Do not duplicate. You may print one copy for your personal use.

Like all fan-fic authors, your comments are my only reward. Please drop me a line at ds9kirys@me.com and let me know what you think!


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