By: Tori Morris
Disclaimers: I am a poor poor girl. The characters belong to Paramount, Avatar and the related relaunch things belong to Pocket Books. The song 'Duvet', better known as the Theme from Serial Experiments Lain, belongs to the artists, BOA. This started out as something completely different, and I kept the lyrics in, despite the fact that they no longer verbally echo the fic in the way a good songfic should. It's just so entwined into the fic on a subconscious level, I can't get rid of them. These are not the complete lyrics, just the bits I feel fit.
Spoilers: For anything after Life Support, and Avatar pt2 of the DS9 Relaunch.
Thanks to: Tracy of the DS9 Lexicon/Encyclopedia, for providing me with scripts about Odo/Kira.. And just to J.M. Rolls in general, for inspiring me.
Colonel Kira Nerys sat in the replimat, watching as below her, Bajorans from all parts of the station gathered to attend the funeral of Riloa Shelin. Nerys hadn't known the woman that well. She'd been on the station a few years, made a small niche for herself in the station's daily activities as the elderly grandmother of a young engineer in the militia. But according to all who knew her, she had been quite the character. As the people below filed into the Temple, Nerys found herself wishing she could go, and offer her own sympathies to Riloa Farel. Her index finger traced the curve of her mug, but she kept her hand on the mug. She wouldn't show her weakness in this, by letting go to touch her bare ear.
She dropped her gaze to watch the raktajino in her cup swirl with the slight movements of her hand. A young Bajoran woman and her little daughter stood up across from her, the mother using quick clucking noises to urge the youngster to hurry up. The mother didn't even spare a glance for Kira, but her daughter did, the girl's lower lip trembling as if she might open up and say something. But the movement passed all too quickly, with the mother urging the girl forward and towards the temple.
Kira watched the girl and her mother disappear into the knot of busy people on the Promenade and swallowed a memory of another funeral, in another place and time.
She didn't know what she felt. She had poured her heart out to his prone form for over three hours, until his pagh gradually slipped from his failing body. If someone had asked her, a few weeks before, what she would do if Bareil died, she would have thought about it, and said that she would cry. But she had spent her tears, the good ones and the bad, before he had even gone. And after that, she had chanted, until she couldn't force the words out of her mouth any more, and Bashir had sent her home. And now she was dry, and tired. Empty.
It wasn't fair, she wanted to scream, if only she could wet her mouth enough to force the words out. She had gone hungry, sleepless, forced back the physical pain for so many years. Didn't she deserve a little happiness, after all she had helped to do?
And she knew it was unfair, and it was wrong of her to think it. The Prophets chose the time, not she. It was his choice. But, he could have stayed. He could have stayed.
And now she was in her quarters. She didn't exactly remember how she got here, except that it had been quickly, with the least amount of pity possible. The lights were dark-- she could barely see the ceiling above her, and it was so quiet. She had shut everything off-- she didn't want to talk to anyone. Least among them the Doctor, or the Kai. She would have to see them, eventually. But not now.
And you don't seem to understand,
A shame, you seemed an honest man,
And all the fears you hold so dear,
Will turn to whisper in your ear.
She didn't remember when she went to sleep. Only that when she woke, she was hungry. It wasn't a particularly inspiring time to eat, but Nerys had never exactly been the kind to curl up in a corner. She was a fighter, and it was this instinct alone that made her replicate some helin, a soft Bajoran dish made of mashed Kava roots. 'He's gone. Living starts now,' she thought as she stirred the thick and comforting glob with her spoon. She poked and prodded at it for several minutes before the soft whooshing of the door made her look up.
The changeling, her friend, Odo, hovered in the doorway as if embarrassed to even be there.
And surprisingly, she wasn't annoyed, or upset, that he had barged in, probably with his security codes, she reasoned. She couldn't bring herself to smile, but she could talk. "Hey Odo." She let her spoon fall to the side of the bowl. "I guess you were worried."
He gave a faint grunt of agreement along with a slight nod, relief visible in his crystal blue eyes. He continued to hover at the doorway, as if he'd leave as soon as she gave the barest sign she didn't want him talking to her.
"Well, you might as well come in, now that you're here." She said, halfheartedly, but secretly glad it was him. She loved her other friends as just as much, but she didn't know if she could handle one of Jadzia's comforting stories about a past host, or if she wanted the Emissary to volunteer to reopen his past wounds for her sake.
He looked uncomfortable, but he did as she asked, and behind him the door slid shut. He pulled out a chair, and sat down across from her. He looked as though he genuinely didn't know what to say, and for that she was grateful. It was likely he had picked up a couple of the comforting, pat phrases that every species seemed to keep for instances like this, and that she wasn't particularly in the mood to hear. He seemed content to sit there and watch her while she poked at her food. Somehow, it didn't bother her.
Finally, he spoke. "I'm sorry. I'm supposed to say something, but...."
She looked up from her bowl of halin. "It's ok. I'd rather you didn't tell me how sorry you are for me, or that you're sure Bareil's in a better place. Or any of that really." She found herself marveling at her own voice, that it could be so loud when she felt anything but. "I know all that."
He ahhed, and looking at his face she wondered if she'd insisted a little too vehemently.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. You can stay, I just, don't want to hear anyone say they know how I feel, because right now, I don't think they do."
Odo inclined his head, and said, "I had no intention of saying those things."
She nodded then, and said, "So. I haven't checked my subspace messages yet. What's happening?"
And you know what they say might hurt you,
And you know that it means so much,
And you don't even feel a thing,
He looked at her, and then looked down. "The Kai took ... his body, down to Bajor a few hours ago. I wanted her to ask you first, but no one could reach you, and well, you know as well as I do that no one can stop Kai Winn when she gets her mind set on something."
She poked at her halin, unresponsive. In truth, she didn't know what to say. Where Bariel's body went really didn't matter; it wasn't the real Bariel and even a schoolchild would know that. "I take it she's going to be organizing the funeral, then?"
He nodded. "She's giving him a state funeral-- all of Bajor has been watching. The Vedek Assembly passed a resolution a few hours ago, to allow his body into the Hall of The Divine."
"The Hall of the Divine-- Bajor's highest honor." She managed to mumble it out. "For the Hero who paid for Peace with his life, I'd imagine."
Odo nodded, silent. Normally, she'd expect a sarcastic, or cynical remark after her comment, about the nature of the people in there, or the heroism of those buried there. But there was nothing, probably for her sake. It made her feel slightly sick, that even Odo would treat her differently.
"So, when is it?" She asked, standing up and picking her now-cold bowl up. She dumped it in the matter recycler.
"Tomorrow, at eight-hundred our time."
Nerys nodded. Bajoran custom was to dispose of the body first, after the ritual chant and prayers had been finished over it. Then there was a hearty feast and a lot of talk about what that person had meant to you, and to the others attending. In her mind, she could see the funeral already; the vedeks carrying Bareil's body, wrapped in shrouds, through the stone corridors of the Hall of the Divine, while she and the others invited below crouched in crevices to watch the vedeks do their duty.
She could see the remembrance party afterward, too. Sitting around the tables, eating Bareil's favorite food while being forced to chat with the Kai. That bothered her more than anything-- she didn't have anything to say to the Kai, and had even less desire to hear the Kai's smug voice calling her 'child' while praising Bariel. The man from whom she stole her position, and eventually, his life.
It suddenly occurred to her that she didn't have to go alone. Any one of her friends would probably accompany her. "Come with me?" She found herself asking.
Odo seemed to soften then. He hadn't expected she'd ask, she reasoned. "Of course." He said, an instant later.
It made her happy to know she wouldn't face the Kai alone, but she couldn't bring herself to smile. "Well, I'd better go find something to wear." She said, retreating into her bedroom.
And you don't seem the lying kind,
A shame that I can read your mind,
And all the things that I read there,
Candle-lit smile that we both share.
Barons do not have a color of mourning. This fact was amusing to xeno-anthropologists across the quadrant. The fact is, the pagh is invisible, and as such, there is no color that can represent it. You can feel it, and believe in it, but only the most daring artists had ever tried to make a visual image of the pagh. And when your pagh leaves, it should be a joyous event, not one of sorrow. So Kira chose the dress she wore during the orb vision she held that had first put the idea of loving Bariel into her head.
They took the Rio Grande, and set it on autopilot for Bajor and the Capital. Odo did most of the talking. He spoke about his favorite musicians, and she remembered being faintly surprised that he took such an interest in music. She hadn't known that before. He also talked about some story he was reading, a detective novel, from Earth. Later, she would wish she had paid more attention to what he was talking about then, but she was too wrapped up in her own emotion to pay much attention to his.
They beamed down a few hours before hand, and walked through the sunlit streets, where Bajorans of all colors and countries where swarming. Some of them were talking about Bariel, but all she could remember later was how much she wished it was raining, or at least cloudy. Odo took her to some of his favorite places in the Capital to burn off the time, and probably to make her feel better. She had been here before, but always on business of some sort; first resistance, and then militia. She had even lived here for a few weeks, but not long enough to get to know the streets like he had.
And then they went to the funeral. Or actually, Kira went, and Odo sat outside. He had declined to step into the chambers, and that was fine with the Vedek in charge, who hadn't been in a hurry to let a d'jarra-less person into the sacred Hall. Nerys hurried out, so as not to be pulled aside for a little chat with the Kai. The entire party, made up of vedeks Bariel had known, distant relatives (the only ones he had left), the Kai, Nerys and her erstwhile changeling companion made their way over to the Kai's palace, only a short walk away through her beautiful gardens.
The dining hall of the palace of the Kai was resplendent in glory. There were other people there, who hadn't been invited to the actual burial. Clusters of round tables circled the long table that held all of Bariel's favorite foods, each lit by the light of prayer candles, as design followed down from the centuries, to mimic the light of the Celestial Temple. Uncomfortably, Nerys and Odo were rounded up towards the Kai's table.
"Ah, my child," the Kai said, in her aristocratic and reedy manner, "I'm glad you've decided to sit with me during the feast. She had already gotten her food by the time Nerys and Odo had gotten to the table. She looked to the changeling. "And Security Chief Odo, your presence was missed at the ceremony. I would have thought you would have followed the Major to act as a comfort to her grief." She looked at his uniform and frowned, as he hadn't changed into a dress uniform.
Odo bristled slightly, but dipped his head and was about to speak, when Kira interrupted him. "He felt that the burial was something I need to experience alone." As she spoke, one of the Kai's servants placed a bottle of springwine on the table, before a slight head bow and disappearing from whence he came.
"Ah, yes." Odo said for himself, peering at the Kai from his end of the table. Kira could feel a sarcastic remark coming on, or at the very least, a 'you humanoids' comment. She shot him a warning look, and then busied herself cutting the meat in front of her. Odo, however, had no food to use to deflect conversation.
And the Kai wasn't finished with them, "What a caring sentiment. I must admit, child, I was baffled at your choice of companion. I thought for sure you would bring the Emissary, or perhaps the Trill Bariel mentioned so often. But now, hearing this, I am once again reassured."
"Well, I for one appreciate your faith in me, Eminence." Odo said, quickly, dark humor coloring his gruff voice. He clasped his hands together and placed them on the table, where normally, a plate would have been.
Winn raised an eyebrow. The sarcastic manner in which he delivered that had not escaped her attention. She waited a beat before saying anything, and then asked, "Odo, I find it odd that you have not taken any of the feast food. Are you going to disrespect the Vedek's memory?" She reached for the bottle so recently placed on the table, and poured herself a glass.
"I don't eat, and I hardly think Bariel would be upset by that fact." He titled his head a little, as if expecting her to correct him.
Meanwhile, Nerys poked at the food on her plate, while trying to stop from being amused. Bariel was dead, she reminded herself. And while his loss still panged at her center, and made her ache with the loss, she realized that any other time she would have loved to see the outcome of the Kai and Odo verbally sparring at a feast. The Kai took a sip from her glass with her left hand, and then placed it on the table.
"Perhaps," She said, and then turned from Odo with a little glare to look at Kira. "Child, you haven't hardly said ten words to me all evening. I understand, however, that perhaps at this moment you don't feel like the comfort of your Kai, and that you might, in whatever grief-maddened reasoning, blame me for Bariel's death. And in that, I can only hope the Prophets will eventually illuminate the truth for you." Her hand fluttered lightly besides her.
Kira bristled slightly, but before she got the chance to say anything, Odo interrupted, "Ah, Eminence, you might want to..."
But it was too late. With a resounding wet crash, Kai Winn had knocked over her glass of wine, and sent it tumbling to the floor. The springwine had soaked the fabric of her robes down the side, which she clutched as she wrung some of the wine from them. She looked up and glared at Odo, as if he had been the cause of her spill. Then, struggling to reclaim her haughty dignity, she said, "Excuse me, I think I should go clean up."
As soon as Winn was out of earshot, Kira turned to look at Odo, who had leaned back in his chair. At Kira's look, he sat up again and said, "What? I was just trying to..."
And she rewarded him with a faint smile in the corner of her lips. It felt uncomfortable to smile, but it was funny. "It was very clever of you to tip the glass of springwine on her."
And if he had wanted to object, he stopped when he saw that smile, and simply nodded, instead.
And you know I don't mean to hurt you,
But you know that it means so much.
And you don't even feel a thing.
After all these years, it amused Col. Kira Nerys that her memories of Bariel's funeral were no longer overpoweringly colored with the grief she felt after. She supposed it was true, what the terrans said-- time does heal all wounds. She could see now, so easily, how he had been in love with her even then. 'What a fool I was,' she thought, and then looked down at her mug. It was close to stone cold.
Making a face, she picked it up and tossed it away. Then, after taking a deep breath, and glancing one last time towards the Temple, she headed for Ops. There were things that needed to be done.