Boats against the Current
"Are you ok?" She asked, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. Odo sat across from her, but it might as well have been a million miles away. Ostensibly, he was watching the people as they walked by the tree-lined boulevard, but she could tell her was brooding. It amazed her that after so many years, so few things about their relationship --and his emotions, had changed.
He turned to look at her, his ice blue eyes fierce, for just a moment. She put the napkin down and met his gaze. It only took a few seconds, but he gave in and decided to trust her with whatever he was brooding over. "Oh, nothing. I was just ... thinking."
"That much was obvious." Kira said, before prompting, "Were you thinking about Pol?"
His head dipped, and it appeared as if he were greatly admiring the pattern of the tablecloth. "Among other things." He said, quickly, and then paused and looked at her. She was wondering if she should pry more, or let this one go as another of his mysteries she'd never quite solve, when he spoke up again. "I was really thinking about time. So much time has passed."
Lightheartedly, she tried, "It does tend to do that, doesn't it?" A faint, half smirking smile showed on his face before he looked out at the trees again.
"For you, it does."
She understood then, what was distracting him. It wasn't just Pol's death. It was the fact that if Pol could die, so could everyone who he cared about. And eventually would, including herself. Maybe, Nerys mused, this is why changelings and humanoids shouldn't associate. And then she immediately dismissed that as silly. After all, Dax had probably seen hundreds of good people- friends and family alike, pass on. And she continues to live and work like anyone else.
"Yeah, that it does." She said finally, then shrugged. "It doesn't matter, though. Because there's always the time we're spending right now. Together."
He snorted. "We'll always have Paris?" He suggested, with more than a little bit of sarcasm. She didn't quite understand, and was sure whatever was funny about the joke had passed her by. "It doesn't matter." He said quickly. "The joke, anyways." He corrected.
Nerys nodded, and then said, "Besides, it was time well-spent. If we get this peace agreement hammered out, then it will all have been worth it."
At this, he laughed, and said, "Hopefully. It had better be."
Kira Nerys looked out her window, as the late afternoon sunshine of San Francisco filled her view. The lace curtains flickered softly in a warm and salty breeze, and she watched the patterns as they moved and shifted across the floor, as if they were the most important thing in the universe, and if only she watched long enough, the patterns laid by the Prophets would be revealed. But curious thoughts kept distracting her from her concentration, until she gave in.
Both of her hands moved from her side, and pushed a tendril of golden liquid off of her stomach. The sudden movement made him withdraw and ripple with grumpy indignity. She laughed, and waited until he reformed so she could explain. It took him a little while to form, sitting legs-folded, on her bed.
"You have a nasty habit of rude awakenings. Did you know that?" He muttered darkly, looking slightly less 'sharp' then usual, as if the details of his own form were still fuzzy to him.
"Yeah, I've been told. But listen. Do you remember that conversation we had? About children?" It was a long time ago, but he had to know what she was talking about.
He blinked in the darkening room, and said, "This is sudden. Nerys, I really don't think we could adopt. Considering everything." He yawned slightly, expelling the air he'd accidentally shifted around.
She laughed again. "No, I wasn't talking about a real baby. I was just thinking." She got excited, and propped herself up on an arm. "When the treaty gets signed, that will be like our legacy ... our child. After all, we've sacrificed for it, fought and loved over it..." She trailed off, and then looked at him with an urgency. "Well?"
He grunted, softly, and said, "You know, other people have real children, not idealistic goals."
At this she whacked him with her pillow, and laughed. But it was true.
The sun had long faded from the sky by the time Nerys woke once more. The room was as quiet as a tomb, and she knew from experience that this meant that she was alone. She sat up once more, her hand brushing the coverlet, but he wasn't there. Her eyes scanned the room, but nothing was out of place-- he was gone.
She stepped out of the bed, and grabbed the sheet to wrap around herself, before walking over to her desk. On the flat, smooth surface, a tiny stone from her windowbox served to keep one of her pieces of paper from moving.
<<Off to think. See you this afternoon. Odo.>> It said, in his effortless Bajoran script. She took a moment to admire his handwriting-- the clean, sweeping lines that made up each glyph, so unlike her own, cramped handwriting. Then she folded the paper down the center and tucked it in a drawer, before sitting down to attend to her morning subspace messages.
At first, he had been an inconspicuous seagull, buzzing around the boats in the harbor, and later, over the city proper as people flitted out of offices and homes for the evening meal. He had eyed the campus, and pondered finding someone to spy on-- some young cadet surreptitiously playing a prank, or visiting a lover. But he feared that, should he be found out, it would distract the Federation from the peace talks-- their 'baby', as Nerys referred to it.
As night fell, he shifted midair, something that would have once been dangerous, except for the fact it was from seagull to Andorian nighthawk. He landed in a tree in the park, and then became a squirrel, to watch part of an evening performance of a Trill play. It was, ironically, about a host who was torn between her duty to her family and ensuring the survival of her symbiont. In truth, he only half watched, spending most of the first few acts pondering his own fate. He had spent the last years of his life ensuring that one day, there would be a place for his people to live peaceably with the Alpha Quadrant. But his people still knew nothing about existing as solids.
It would be too easy to stay here, after the 'ink was dry', as the human phrase went. He could spend the rest of Nerys' life, wherever she took them, and then go back and finish his job. If he left this time, he might not get back for another forty years. Or more. And a few more of his siblings had returned to them-- wherever the Federation found the wandering changelings, they had told them of the Dominion and sent them home. Some of them had no hatred towards humanoids, and they could take up his cause.
It all fit so neatly together. It sounded simple. But nothing was ever that simple, and he knew it.
Despite the knowledge that tomorrow would be another busy day for the peace agreements, and that she should get her rest, Kira Nerys couldn't get back to sleep. She'd finished several lengthy subspace messages to the First Minister and the Kai about how the talks were going. Then she had done some light household chores-set the sonic shower to scrub itself, stuck the dirty plates and glasses into the matter recycling unit, making the bed up.
Lacking any more chores she could think of to keep her mind busy while she waited for Odo to return, she set about reading her mail. Instead of her public mailbox kept for her ambassador's position, which she was sure was as clogged as Ssrasth seemed to think it was, she went directly to her private mail. Ezri's message had been lighthearted, wishing her all the best in her newly resumed relationship. Nerys pondered if it sounded like Jadzia had helped the joined Trill compose that message, or if it had just been Ezri's counselor training coming through.
Jaz's message was typically filled with rumors and other things she had heard about from her friends on campus, and also a well-wishing from Kassidy, who was otherwise disposed. She spent several minutes denying those rumors, and trying to wish that some of them wouldn't come true. Jake's message was smug, even if it was short. He also joked about wanting a scoop, which brought a smile to her face.
Keiko had written the message for the O'Brien's, while both Molly and 'Yoshi had sent their own quick responses from their own families, from the separate starships they had been assigned to. Kirayoshi offered to beam down to Earth for the night, because the USS Hikari Sulu was currently on planetary patrol. He wanted to have a meal for his family, while he was here-- The O'Briens, his wife, his namesake and Odo. While Nerys thought this was a lovely idea, she didn't accept right away. Instead, she told him she'd ask Odo and get back to him.
Onto Chapter Six