Setting: I don't know, probably between season six and seven, but could conceivably occur any time after His Way but before WYLB.
She's leaned against me as she glances through a PADD, schedules and things I feel relatively sure that if it were something I wasn't to know (and I get the feeling there are a lot of those somethings, from time to time), she wouldn't be here. So, I look at it without looking, exactly, while I soak up the body heat she's giving off. Humanoids are so intoxicatingly warm, and I wonder if my people have ever spent the time to notice this, or enjoy it.
Then she stops, and lapses into quiet, not even the sound of the scrolling of the PADD anymore. She's going to talk, soon, so I listen.
"Do you know when this started?"
"When what started?" I hate it when she's vague. It seems a common failing of those in romantic relationships. Several years ago, I would have tacked on a conditional statement about 'you humanoids', but these days I catch myself doing it. It's maddening.
"This." She says, looking at me with those warm eyes I've never been able to resist. I open my mouth to have her clarify further, but she catches me before I can. "Us."
"Oh." She's obviously not forgotten the dates, or the Promenade, as I still from time to time get congratulated for that. I lean forward, forcing her to sit up. I consider. She probably means when I first noticed I loved her. "You mean, when did I first ... know I loved you?"
I feel inwardly quite stupid about the pause. There was no reason for it, and yet it was involuntary, a response to a secret that long ago ceased being one.
She watches me closely, a smile spreading on her lips. "Well?"
"I'm trying to remember..." I say, with a gruff little impatient punctuation at the end. She chuckles, and I too, smile, amused that I've made her laugh.
Then, I consider it. I've never quite pinned the moment down. Was it when I first saw her, in the Bajoran sector of the divided Terok Nor? Or when she first stepped out of the airlock to take command of the station from me? Or was it... a thousand different types of kindness to a very lonely me echo around my memory.
She sits quietly, waiting, and I wonder if I'll try her patience before I can come up with a real answer. "I think, it was when Sisko found the wormhole. Do you remember, I asked you if I could come along? You said yes. I never really forgot that-- I don't think I talked about wanting to find where I came from that often, before. And you didn't seem to think it odd of me." The more I speak about that moment, the more truth I find in what I'm saying.
She tugs at her earring, and then says, "To tell you the truth, I don't really. I was so excited about finding the celestial temple, in our own backyard, that I wasn't giving much thought to anything else." She looks apologetic, but I can't muster a real emotion out of myself. Perhaps bemused might describe it.
"Well, that's all right. I don't really expect you to remember something you weren't aware of." I season this with a light flavoring of sarcasm, and then she settles back against my chest. Any second now, I expect her to pick up the PADD again, and go back to work.
"I'm sorry I didn't."
"Didn't what?" I say, demanding she finish the complete sentence, just to object. Inside, I'm really quite happy, whatever she means, and part of me is beginning to object to being solid.
"Didn't notice it sooner. Didn't notice ... Jadzia's prodding, or Garak's questioning inquiries, or your awkwardness with Shakkar and Bariel. I should have put it together. Maybe I would have ... I don't know."
I close my eyes to focus on being here, being me. "Well, I can't say I object, really, to the way things turned out."
"Me either." And then she snuggles against me once more, and picks up her PADD.