Rating: PG-13 Mild sexual content
Codes: O/K (Qu)
Date: Revised 6/21/07
Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures owns the rights to Star Trek, DS9, these characters and situations, except for the ones I made up.
by M. V. Shaver
“Odo, is there something wrong with your commlink? I’ve been trying to contact you…” Quark’s body and voice froze simultaneously. The belligerent Klingon in the bar was forgotten. Odo had raised his eyes from the computer screen he’d been staring at, a look of abject horror blazing from his intense blue eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Quark regained his voice and moved deeper into the Security office. Odo didn’t reply. He simply swiveled the screen around for Quark to read for himself.
Three-hundred-eleven ships lost in the Chin’toka System, including the Defiant. All disabled or destroyed by some sort of new weapon designed by the Breen. Quark’s own eyes widened in shock at the apparent massacre of the Federation fleet.
Odo’s eyes fluttered closed. The possibility always existed, given the precarious and dangerous life she led. Every time Kira went out on the Defiant, there was a risk she wouldn’t return. They never discussed it, the conspiracy of silence a natural outgrowth of their general reticence and the reality that talking about it wouldn’t change anything. Kira was a warrior, born and bred in time of war, growing up in a violent world. She could be nothing other than what she was. Odo thought briefly about Sisko’s recent misbegotten attempt to protect his new bride from danger. Odo understood. His own protective nature had to be throttled back when it came to Nerys. She would consider it an insult if Odo intervened to keep her out of harm’s way. Kira was the kind of woman who raced into harm’s way. It was one of the many things about her he loved. But her cavalier attitude about life and death didn’t bode well for the prospect of a long life together.
Odo opened his eyes. Quark’s irritating voice was droning on.
“The report says there are thousands of escape pods. I’m sure the Federation is mounting a rescue operation. If she made it to an escape pod, there’s a good chance she’ll be rescued…”
Odo spun around in his chair, anger replacing fear. “Do you really think my people will show mercy to those survivors? The Jem’Hadar are no doubt using those escape pods as target practice.” The fury in Odo’s voice drove Quark back a step. He’d seen Odo mad before – mad at the universe, and certainly mad at him. But never so embittered as this. Covering his shock, Quark said irritably, “She’ll be back. I lost a bet with her last week.”
Odo raised his eyes to glare at him in astonished disbelief. “A bet…?”
“Four hours of free holosuite time.” Playing it for all it was worth, Quark went on, his voice lilting into a sales pitch. “A romantic getaway, sultry music playing in the background, a warm, moonlit night…Even you should be able to figure out what to do!”
Odo huffed out a snort of disgust, before retreating back into himself. He slid the desk drawer open and withdrew a small, square box. He balanced it precariously between his fingers, turning it over and over, lost in thought.
“What’s that?” Quark ventured, after several moments of silence. He seated himself in one of the guest chairs.
Odo’s only response was to continue to stare vacantly at the box in his hands.
Not one to leave his curiosity unsatisfied, Quark snatched the box from Odo’s hands and lifted to lid. “A Bajoran betrothal bracelet,” he breathed, giving Odo a look of disbelief. “You wouldn’t.”
“Why not?” Odo shot back, momentarily forgetting his lamentations over Nerys being scattered like space dust across the Chin’ toka system.
“Because you’re a cold, unfeeling Changeling, that’s why not.”
Odo glared at him, but said nothing.
“All right, all right – if you insist on tying yourself down. Tell you what. . . I’ll cater the wedding. I’ve got a new supplier for Saurian Brandy.”
“An illegal supplier, no doubt.”
“No. A discount supplier. I’ll even give you my special ‘Changeling’ rate, since it isn’t like I have to feed you.” Quark looked at Odo hopefully. The look he received in return was anything but hopeful, evaporating the expectant smile on Quark’s face.
“Nerys is dead, Quark. There isn’t going to be any wedding.”
Ignoring Odo’s blunt prediction of doom, Quark grimaced. “Okay, I’ll do it for free. . . but only for you.” Grumbling, he added, “You drive a hard bargain, Constable.”
“You don’t do anything for free,” Odo growled, again distracted by his suspicions over the Ferengi’s hidden motives.
“Call me sentimental. I was the one who got the two of you together. Besides, I plan to invite a number of my ‘business associates’ to the station to enjoy the wedding celebration. It never hurts to mix business with pleasure! And since you’ll be so busy with all the wedding festivities, I’m sure the ‘business’ will be very profitable!”
“If any of your associates show up here, the only business they’ll be conducting will be with the magistrate!”
“Now, Odo, you know you can’t go and arrest people who haven’t committed any crimes.”
“If they are associates of yours, they’ve committed crimes,” Odo voice rumbled in habitual disgust.
Quark handed the box back to Odo with a toothy grin. “We’ll see. . . Just name the date, Odo. I’ll make ALL the arrangements.”
Odo stepped quietly onto the bridge of the runabout and gazed at his homeworld through the viewscreen. Kira’s back was to him, at the helm, punching in codes that would set them in synchronous orbit around his home planet, and turn over control of the ship to the computer. Her straight back and spare, efficient manner made something inside his chest constrict to the point of almost physical discomfort. Odo was sure it was not a natural Changeling reaction.
But then, nothing had been natural or normal for the last several weeks.
All his life, Odo had been searching for a place to call home, a place where he belonged. The answer, when it came, was so damned simple. All he wanted was to spend the rest of his life – or more accurately, the rest of her life – with Nerys. The recovery of the escape pods had been nothing short of miraculous. Odo, a confirmed skeptic when it came to mysticism, uncharacteristically took it as a sign that they were meant to be together.
Then fate intervened, and laid waste to all his plans, all his hopes and dreams.
What could he say?
I intended for us to be together, for the rest of our lives...
I wanted to marry you...
If things had been different…
Might-have-beens. What good were they, in the face of this reality? How would it help Nerys? She’d done everything in her power to make this parting easier for him. They both knew it was forever. How would her knowing what he’d intended to do, before deciding to leave her forever, make life easier for her tomorrow, and the next day, and the next? The sooner she forgot about him and moved on with her life, the better it would be for her. He owed her so much. This was the least he could do.
She’d find the bracelet, Odo was sure. She might even have her suspicions as to its origins. But they’d never discussed any possible future together. It had been a completely spontaneous act on his part, one of the very few he’d ever made. He smiled as he recalled another notable impulsive action he’d taken – grabbing her on the Promenade and kissing her to – in Kira’s words – within an inch of her life. The constrictions in his chest grew tighter. He was certain if he were a humanoid, he would have difficulty breathing. He felt his resolve beginning to crumble, not for the first time. . .
Her voice, and the touch of her hand, brought him back to the here and now.
Their eyes locked in a moment of shared memory. Taking Odo’s hand, Nerys brought it up to rest between her breasts. She pressed her other hand against his collar bone, as a small sigh escaped her lips.
“Computer, two to beam to the surface.”
Kira heaved two or three deep breaths, as she stared at the empty Security Office. If she didn’t do this now, she knew she’d never have the courage to try again. Furrowing her brow in grim determination, she stepped into the office, and choked back a sob as the look, the smell, the feel of the room yanked a flood of memories into her consciousness. And she’d thought cleaning out Odo’s quarters had been heartwrenching…
Had it really only been two weeks since she’d left Odo on his homeworld? She’d already grieved enough to fill a lifetime.
Ezri had encouraged her to embrace the memories, not fight them. Running a hand lovingly over the back of the guest chair, Kira tried to do that now. But the assault was too great. Surely she would shatter into a million pieces if she allowed herself to remember…
Schooling her mind to focus on the task at hand, Kira moved to the other side of the imposing desk, and proceeded to open drawers and remove any personal items that Odo had left behind. As expected, she found very little. A couple of small mementos given to him by people he had helped over the years, and a humorous plaque his deputies had made to mark the occasion of their first very public kiss on the Promenade.
Moving to the safe at the back of the office, she keyed in the combination. The safe was empty, save for a small square box. Intrigued, she reseated herself at the desk and opened it. A Bajoran Betrothal bracelet. She frowned. Removing the bracelet from its box, she ran her thumb over the delicate carvings in the metal.
She tapped her combadge. “Kira to Captain Bazal.”
She liked Bazal. He’d been a part of Odo’s security detachment for a number of years, and had not only made the extra effort to learn all he could from the constable, but to lever his way into the small circle of people that Odo considered friends. Bazal had been Odo’s choice of his replacement, and after some initial haggling with General Lashier and the Bajoran Council, Bazal had been promoted to Chief of Security. He could never fill Odo’s shoes, but he was honest, competent, and dedicated. He would do a better job than most.
“Captain, do you know anything about a piece of jewelry in the security safe? I discovered it when I was cleaning out Odo’s things.”
“No. That safe is only used for prisoners’ valuables.”
“All right. I’ll leave a note in the Security safe that the item has been transferred to the Assay Office. In the event someone comes to claim it.”
“Shall I check with Quark? He might know something about it.”
“Don’t bother. Quark would probably claim it belongs to him. Thanks, Bazal. Kira out.”
She stood, gathered up the small bundle of objects, and scanned the office, her forearms resting against the headrest of Odo’s chair. Memories, being the fickle things they were, came back to her in fragments, until she recalled standing on the other side of the desk and confessing to Odo her guilt in the killing of Vaatrick, the Bajoran chemist. That secret had been like a duridium weight in her stomach, and she recalled with crystalline clarity both the fear and the relief she felt in finally being able to reveal the truth. The momentary look of disappointment in Odo’s eyes, before he, with a generosity of spirit she would later come to truly appreciate, chose to reach out past his own moral outrage to extend to her – forgiveness, and friendship, and love. She hadn’t recognized it at the time, but it was there, nonetheless. The enormity of that memory stabbed at her already wounded heart, and she hung her head in sorrow and shame. Tears spilled from her eyes and splashed on the headrest. She felt like a giant wave was about to engulf her. Biting her lower lip until she tasted her own blood, she fought back.
“Why, Odo?” she spoke to the empty walls. “Why did you make me fall in love with you, if you were only going to leave me?” It wasn’t fair, she knew. He hadn’t planned to leave, for all he still felt the inexorable pull of the Link. He did it because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been the man she loved. It still hurt like hell.
Her face contorted in a sardonic smile. He’d been so insecure of their relationship, especially in the beginning. He seemed never to quite believe it was real, much less that it would last. Yet it was she who’d suffered the heartbreak of losing him. First, she thought she’d lost him to Laas, his Changeling brother who’d offered Odo everything he’d craved all his life. Everything but her. Then, she thought she’d lost him to death, when he became ill with the Founder’s disease. The agony of that farewell was still raw and gaping, as she recalled his banishment of her from his death bed. It turned out they were merely practice runs. This time it was for real.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. They were meant to be together. He was a part of her, blood and bone, just as she was a part of him. Even now, with thousands of light years separating them, she could still feel his presence, embedded in the very core of her being.
A thought sparked to life. Reaching for the box, she lifted the bracelet from its soft folds, and examined it thoroughly. No inscription. Betrothal bracelets were routinely inscribed with the names of the couple, and often a word or phrase of endearment. Would Odo know this? Was it possible he’d . . . no. Odo would never make this sort of unilateral decision without consulting her. Would he?
Gently, she replaced the bracelet in its box, unaware of the silent stream of tears running down her face.
Kira looked up through misty eyes to see Quark.
“Your lip’s bleeding. Been in a fight lately?”
“Only with myself.”
Kira found Quark’s ragged, toothy leer oddly amusing. At least it distracted her from darker thoughts.
“This place is befouled. You should blow it up and construct a new Security office.”
She smiled through her tears. “You know, Quark, I actually thought about doing just that very thing.”
The Ferengi looked around and sighed. He too, was grieving the loss of his old friend and adversary. It gave them a connection, a kinship. Kira shook her head slightly at the absurdity of it.
“Those his things?” Quark asked, nodding in the direction of the meager collection of items. He fingered each trinket casually, mentally assigning values. Feeling Kira’s indignant glare on him, he moved away from the desk. “That miserable, surly Changeling. I never made one slip of latinum off him, in all the years I knew him. Didn’t eat, didn’t drink, didn’t have sex…”
“You’d just love to know, wouldn’t you,” Kira snapped back. “Bet you’re sorry now he had that soundproofing installed in the floor,” adding under her breath, “lecherous little troll.”
“He spent years in that bucket, when he could have been enjoying the Pleasure goddess of Rix, or the three Orion slave girls, or the Vulcan love princess.”
“Some people are more discriminating than you – but that would be just about everyone, wouldn’t it?”
“I offered to make a holoprogram of a nice, voluptuous shapeshifter for him to mingle with. I called that one ‘Silicon Baby.' I had another one, ‘Founder Frenzy,’ with a whole pool of gooey Changelings, any size, any sex, if he wanted an orgy. My personal favorite was ‘Changeling in Chains,’ if he was into that sort of thing. Wasn’t interested. I even,” Quark lowered his voice and gave her a confidential stare, “I even offered to make him a very special holoprogram of you, Colonel, back when you were a Major. All it would have cost him was a little latinum. But, no. Too stubborn, too bad tempered, and too damned proud! Never would give me the satisfaction of selling him something… No, there’s no profit in Changelings.”
“He offered to purchase your desiccated remains.” She threw him a sweetly insincere smile, then sobered, adding wistfully, “You’re forgetting all those times we used the holosuites. Our holosuite programs,” she amended, “not your filthy trash!”
“Bah. Barely covered my overhead. Then Nog sticks me with the cost of running that lousy Vic program 26 hours a day. You never paid for any of that time, did you?”
“Part of your job as Community leader,” Kira smiled.
Quark turned towards the door. “Don’t stay here too long, Colonel. The ghosts are too real.” He threw her a sympathetic gaze. “He deserved better. So did you.”
“Quark,” she asked after a pause, “do you know who this belongs to?” She held out the box that housed the bracelet.
Quark turned and gave it a perfunctory glance. He looked at Kira, her face still flushed and blotchy from her recent bout of tears.
“Nah. No idea…”
Comments? Please write to author Mary Shaver.
Return to the René's Page fanfic page.
The René Auberjonois Internet Link is maintained by Marguerite Krause