When I was a child, I heard it a lot. That I had the "greatest family". My parents loved me, stayed with me, were there when I needed them. The other children told stories to the Counselor during his visits, and he would fix his dark eyes on me then, and ask me, "And how would that make you feel, Jake?" I had no answer to the questions of what if: what if my mother would transfer to another ship, what if they separated forever.
I never had anything to share. I had the greatest family: for we were all together.
After Wolf 359, and my mother's death, it was harder. I missed her every day and I still do. But in a way, it was easier in class. I no longer had the "greatest family", and the beady eyes of the Counselor offered only sympathy. I had things, things to talk about and I muddled along, like the others. I went home at night, through the pale lifeless corridors, to my father's empty eyes.
It wasn't until after we moved to Deep Space Nine, and after my father's trip through the Bajoran wormhole, that it began again. The Bajoran children in the school room on the first day, their pointed glances and gasps when I caught them staring. The quick turn, the flick of the hair and the flash of an earring. I made friends with them all, eventually, but I didn't let them close.
It would only get worse. Even Nog, the one I could trust on to keep a skeptic's eye, became entranced, lured by the chances for a future free of poverty and endless hours of toil for latinium. I did not blame him, but I didn't tell him that it made life any easier. Sometimes it was easy to take the compliments, other times, less so. How could I ever begin to tell Nog that he was my father first, and a leader second?
The war, and his increasing responsibility as the Emissary tore him away. And it was no longer right of me to take up such a hefty share of his time. Truth be told, I didn't want to. I was eager to get up, get out, learn the lessons of adulthood, find my place in the universe. He was called away by his visions, for his leadership, and I was called away because there is no other choice. The greatest captain, the greatest father, The Emissary.
It has been years since he left-- gone, the best word to describe it. I've made a life for myself the best way I know how, the way he taught me. I've been one of the lucky few to have him stop by, even for a brief moment, and I try not to begrudge the fact that there is important work to be done, when all I want him to do is stay and cook dinner tonight. But it still rankles, the questions and the explanations.
There is a young woman, sitting across the aisle from me as I type this, on my way to Vulcan for a sporting event. I can feel her eyes on me as I write. Soon I will look up, raise an eyebrow, and invite her to ask the question she is obviously hoping to get answered.
"You're Jake Sisko, aren't you?" He nods, and sets the PADD down beside him.
"I-- I just wanted to tell you that I loved your last novel."
He smiles then, and says, "Thank you."