Boats against the Current
It was the sort of morning that made you remember that the atmosphere was just another layer of material swamping the planet like an ocean. Instead of the cool, inconsequential movements one usually made through the park outside the Federation's chambers, every movement felt as if it had to be pre-planned in order to get through the thick humidity. 'Dratted weather controls,' Nerys thought. 'They never work when they are supposed to.'
She sat on a bench, under the draping leaves of a willow tree, and tried to force down her worries. Odo could take care of himself. Nothing bad happened to him-- there was no reason to worry about where he was. Despite her long service with and in Starfleet, she doubted the ability of the group to find him if he was deliberately hiding.
But the fact remained-- he hadn't come back last night.
She closed her eyes, and concentrated on the here and now. He would be fine, she assured herself, and she let a little prayer escape her thoughts, for surely the Prophets heard everything. And then, back to the here and now. The feeling of morning sunlight playing off the leaves of the tree above her, and battling the shadows in a rustling dance, moved by the wind.
The rustle of feathers made her open her eyes and turn her head ever so slightly to the left. A small brown bird, she knew the name of it but couldn't remember, perched on the topmost slat of the bench. It shuffled its wings once more, tiny beak and black beady eyes looking straight at her, without the slightest bit of worry. She laughed, not quite a full laugh, but the happy little huhing sound one makes when one feels perfectly pleased.
At once, the bird lept off its tiny twig like feet and opened its wings. It was gone before she had time to register it leaving. After which, she looked down at her hands. Smart, Nerys, smart. Still, she could excuse herself for thinking it was him -- he had always loved the form of birds.
Another deep breath, and then leaning her head back against the park bench, to once again, feel light and shadow.
At that exact moment, but a few miles away from Kira's position on the park bench in Paris, Odo took it upon himself to reform his body and break the link with the Eldest.
He became aware of the room around him suddenly, and once again, marveled at how insulated yet comforting the link, even with a single changeling, could be. His fingers curled and flexed, and he headed towards the door before the Eldest herself could form. Then, he headed for the chamber of his Vorta, as they had preparations to make.
Perhaps she had fallen into a light doze, but when she next opened her eyes, she found herself looking into the angular face of Jake Sisko, who was decked out for journalistic business, holographic imaging glasses perched upon his head, wide smile on his face.
"Hey Nerys. You must be quite busy these days, if I can catch you falling asleep on a bench." He raised his eyebrows repeatedly in a rather rowdy punctuation to his own sentence.
She smiled, and said, "I'm not telling you anything, you know."
He laughed. "You don't have to. It's still all over the comnets. Besides, I'm not at work yet-- I tracked you down for a visit. How are you?" He angled himself onto the park bench, and then weaved his fingers together to place his head on it. It reminded her so very much of Ben Sisko, in a time she couldn't quite remember clearly. After Bariel's death? Perhaps.
"I'm fine." It was automatic, and sudden. And it didn't sound convincing, even to herself.
"Are you really? I'm worried. I thought I might find Odo here, but...." He trailed off for a moment. "You know, I've been thinking about what you said that night in New Orleans. Well, I guess you didn't really say it, but I thought you did...." He looked away, eyes focused on a couple of security officers patrolling the park, in case something occurred.
Nerys sat up straighter on the park bench. "You were the one who wanted this to happen, Jake."
"I know, but now I think...it would have been a lot easier for you if you hadn't been on the committee, or if they hadn't sent him. Because I don't think I can stand to see you go through him leaving again." He looked back at her, and once again she got that strange feeling as if this was another time, and another person warning her against something. She shook it off as best as possible.
"Maybe not. But it's not really any of your concern, is it?"
He sighed, and said, "I just don't want to see you moping around for months at a time when he leaves." His arms drop to the side of his chest, and he leans back against the bench.
"You seem pretty sure he will leave." The anger she was feeling was now becoming evident, and it made her sound wary.
Jake shrugged. "All I know is, you two have always had your duties, and neither of you have ever been able to say no. I don't exactly see that changing any time soon." His voice too, was harsher than it should be.
She stood up, stomping the ground slightly with her bad leg, to make sure it wouldn't give out. Once she was sure it was ok, she turned around, and said, "Maybe. I just hope, whatever happens this time, you don't write a book about it." Even she was shocked by the cold in her voice.
"I'll see you later, Jake." Just slightly warmer, and she looked back, to see his wary and slightly hurt expression. She would pay for that dearly later, she knew, but right now, she didn't care.
She left the park, and headed for her office.
A bird, once again, this time a Terran Falcon. He needed the sharp vision to try and find Nerys, for she had taken off her diplomatic communicator. In fact, she had excused herself from this day of debate altogether, and in return, he had sent Shela, his personal Vorta. Shela was more than capable of handling the message and the rest of the meetings along with the other Vorta.
He wondered when he had started to except that Shela would do things for him. It didn't seem right, although before he had returned to Nerys, he wouldn't have thought twice about it. The realization sent shivers through his form. What was he doing? Would it all be a big mistake?
Just then, he spotted a familiar redhead, slightly streaked with grey at the top, right next to that place she had taken him. The ancient temple. There were hundreds of humans, and Bolians and Vulcans about the square, taking in the sights. Regardless, he had to do this. The bird spiraled down, landing on the cobblestone pavement quickly, in a movement that surely would have broken a real bird's body. Then he retook his humanoid shape.
She looked up to hear a soft thump on the cobblestone a few feet ahead of her. It was a large bird, which would be quite obviously dead if it wasn't for the familiar golden sheen that was already merging feather with bone and sinew. She couldn't force a smile onto her face, even as she began to see his own.
Behind her, she heard the murmuring of others in the crowd as they too realized that it was a changeling, not a dead bird. They were staring at her, she could feel their eyes on the back of her neck. She stood up and walked over to Odo, and whispered in his ear. "We have to go somewhere private."
Onto Chapter Seven