DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine characters are the
property of Paramount
Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and
property of C. Zdroj and are copyright (c) 2000 by C. Zdroj. This story
is Rated NC-17.
by C. Zdroj
Chronology Note: This story takes
place about one year after the ST:DS9 finale, "What
You Leave Behind."
"Then the young archer mounted the
horse of power and rode off to the
land of Never. On and on he rode, many days and nights, and came at
last to the edge of the world, where the sun rises in flame from behind
the deep blue sea."
--from "The Firebird, the Horse of
Power, and the Princess Vasilissa" in Best-Loved Folktales of
Joanna Cole, ed.
She felt the kiss on her shoulder as she gazed out the viewport with
her arms wrapped around herself. Odo's lips brushed her temple. "I'm
"You don't need to apologize," she said, keeping her voice level. She
would not cry. For his sake, she would hold her tears until later, as
she had so many times before in her life.
She turned to him, took his face into her hands, somehow managing a
smile. He needed to see her courage now, that she would survive, that
his decision to leave would not cripple her. Kira let her fingertips
move over Odo's smooth face, caressing his
cheekbones, his temples. She had grown so familiar with his features,
with their angular simplicity. He had ceased to look alien to her long
ago, even before she'd realized that she loved him.
"I want you to do what's right for you," she said.
Odo stepped closer to her. In the darkness, he nuzzled her forehead.
His fingers crept through her hair lovingly. For some moments, they did
not speak. Kira stood with her hands on his chest while he kissed her.
She knew that Odo was memorizing her--the warmth of her skin, the
texture of her hair, the shape of her face and body--absorbing the
details of her with that exquisite changeling sense of touch. He was
making an image of her to carry with him into the Great Link. Moved,
she simply closed her eyes and leaned her weight against him, accepting.
"I don't want you to wait for me," he said at last, his voice soft and
low. I don't know how long this will take me--or what will ... happen
to me once I go into the Link."
She looked up, laying two fingers over his thin lips. "I know that. I
don't need any promises--I just want you to be sure that this is what
you want." She also wanted him to be happy, though she did not say
this. For she could see the pain in his eyes clearly. This was not the
path he would have chosen for himself. But it was, perhaps, the path
that the Prophets required of him, even though Odo himself did not
believe in them. Knowing the necessities of duty as she did, Kira would
not ask him to second-guess his choice. She would make this as easy for
him as she could. She wrapped her arms around his body and held him
close. "I'll be all right, Odo," she whispered. "I promise."
They stood for a long time in the starlight, holding each other in
silent, intimate communion. Words were extraneous now. Kira swallowed
the tears that rose in her throat, took her lover's hand, and simply
led him into the bedroom--their bedroom--where time faded away into
touches and kisses that lingered in the dark. She wanted it never to
end. Don't think, she told
herself, as the tears threatened to spill
from her eyes and choke her voice. Don't
think about tomorrow. Feel.
Touch. Taste. Don't think. She let Odo roll her onto her back
her deeply. Let herself fall into his touch, as she had a hundred times
before. Somehow, her joy was the sweeter for being shot through with
grief. She dreamed, that last night in his liquid arms, of a
sea of gold, and of kissing him for the last time.
Liquid movement--in him, around him, through him ... sensations and
thoughts flowing in endless rhythm. Often, and for long stretches of
time, he was not aware of himself as separate from the others--but
this was sporadic--most of the time he was in a state of ... tension.
He'd healed them, and they trusted him--but they did not trust the
emotions that he still carried. These feelings made him, most of the
time, still separate. It was not like the time before, when he'd been
judged. Then he'd hated himself, had desperately craved their
acceptance. Now ... swirls of warmth
... flashes of gold ... hesitant,
mingled thoughts... Now it was different. Now there were things
determined to make them see. Events and memories merged and blurred. He
could still recall with perfect clarity what he'd felt as he lay dying
in his corroded, solid, humanoid form. He could feel Kira's arms around
him as she held his crumbling, fragile self. He felt his body
dissolving slowly, slowly ... becoming formlessness. He was adrift in
the Link, merging and blurring with the others, entering a state that
felt like dreaming. And yet, the sensations pulsing through his body
were humanoid sensations, appropriate to a solid form.
Awareness ... scattered impressions
... resolution, and then ... clarity.
The wetness he felt against his skin was Nerys, or the
memory of her--her mouth, her tongue, her vulva ... defining him,
sculpting his body with her hands and lips. He stretched, arching
himself, wanting to give her more. He was lying on the cold roughness
of the stone atoll, outside the Link, and Kira was with him, as naked
as he was, moving over his body. Beyond them, the Link writhed against
the shore--restless for something that even its ancient knowledge
couldn't give it. The waves of consciousness moved back and forth,
crashing and swirling, background music to the louder sounds of solid,
humanoid lovemaking. The others were watching ... he didn't care. In
fact, he seemed to be in both places at the same time, in and outside
the Link, watching and being watched.
He held Nerys, held her hips pressed tight to his own as they came
together, as he, with a pleasure so deep that it was pain too, spilled
himself into her welcoming depths. Then, at the very moment of his
climax he felt it ... a deep disturbance in the Link--agony and fear
rippling through it. It rippled through him too. He stared up at his
lover fearfully. She was gazing out at an ocean turned suddenly from
gold to sickly green ... as if he'd never come back to them. Never
healed them. Green ooze collapsed into black ash as Nerys collapsed
against him, suddenly frail. She clutched him, her breathing labored
In an instant, she was cold and brittle in his arms. Unmoving.
Odo was jolted back to himself, back to waking awareness, gasping,
trembling at the edge of the Link, half out of it and half-formed. His
fingertips clutched at rough stone. He pulled himself out and into the
darkness, collapsing to lie trembling on his back. His hands--yes,
they were hands--moved anxiously, cautiously, over his own form, his
hastily composed humanoid body. He could not recall forming it, but it
was his. He lay on the stone atoll as one awakened suddenly from a
Odo shut his eyes, felt his chest rising as he inhaled and the air
filled his lungs. He willed himself to stillness, slowly forming a
semblance of clothing about himself. He did it almost without thought,
summoning the easiest, most comforting details of shape and texture.
The uniform. Of course. The Bajoran uniform he had worn for so many
years--naturally that would occur to him first. He sat up slowly and
looked himself over, choosing his alterations with care. The process
quieted him, gave him time to think. Looser sleeves and neck, darker
fabric, something closer to what he had worn when he and Nerys had gone
to Cardassia that last time ...
Nerys ... he drew a deep
breath as flashes of the dream came back to
He folded his hands in his lap and sat very still, gazing out at the
Link. Even in the deepest hours of the night, its dark surface still
held a faint gold sheen, a kind of glow from within. He ached at the
sight of it. For a moment, he shut his eyes and leaned his forehead
into his hands. There was nothing to be done.
He stood up, slowly, feeling somehow far older than he should have, and
looked out over the living ocean of thought and awareness--the
society that he had saved and healed. The world that he thought he'd
finally come to understand. He gazed down at the softly glowing
liquid depths for a long time, recalling the heat and warmth there, the
unity, the shared feeling. He waited. The Link was placid and silent.
He stood under the starlight in his assumed, alien form, knowing that
he could not re-enter this world on his own. Not now. He waited. No
other changelings emerged to confront him, to speak to him using clumsy
humanoid language about the folly of his emotions and the error of his
thoughts. They were keeping to themselves now. He tried to summon up
some anger, but all he felt was sadness. They were not ready. Even now.
After all that had happened.
Odo stood there in the moonlight, a solitary figure, a being apart, as
he had always been.
"I'm sorry," he to the stillness.
The Great Link remained unmoved, churning in its own mysteries, its own
slow-moving thoughts, its own ancient, timeless ways.
Odo waited through the night, standing on the shore of the link,
feeling the wind blow through him. When the first rays of sunlight
crept over the horizon, making the Great Link look like a pool of
molten fire, he decided that he'd waited long enough. He turned his
back on them and closed his eyes. He needed to think, and the atoll was
no longer far enough from the others to do that. The first thing he had
ever learned from his people was how to become a bird. His form blurred
and changed now--a Tarkelian hawk with glowing, satiny wings. He
stretched them wide and launched himself into the sky--into the sky
and beyond it.
He didn't look back.
It was only in her dreams that Kira wept. This was the same dream as
always. She stood waiting on the shore while the water, crystal and
transparent where it met the shore, deep jade-blue as it stretched to
meet the sky, washed over the warm gold sand again and again, teased
around her pale bare feet and then retreated--its ceaseless motion
asking her to follow, urging her to leave the land and become part of
the sea. The sounds of the tide, the restless churning around her
ankles, the deeper rumbles further out to sea, gradually came to sound
like a trusted, deeply familiar voice. A voice full of sadness and
that wordlessly whispered: "Come to me ... be with me ..."
"I can't," she told the water sadly. "I'll drown."
So she stood there until the sun was gone and the ocean was black and
opaque and the cold had gathered in her bones. And still shecould not
go out and join the ocean.
And still she could not leave the shore.
So she waited ...
Kira woke in the darkness, alone, the damp sheets tangled around her
body. She lay still for a moment, closing her eyes and seeing him--as
clearly as the day he'd left. The black tuxedo with the bow-tie that
she'd reached up to straighten for him. She remembered that she'd
laughed. It was that or cry. Creating the tux had been an effort to
please her, so typical of the Odo only she knew. She remembered kissing
him, hoping it would go on ...
She stopped herself. There was no one but herself in the bed. No silken
fluid changeling curled up around her body, no smooth skin pressed
against her own. She still found it hard to believe he was really gone.
A sense of emptiness swept over her, on this night as so many other
nights spent alone.
"I love you, Odo," she said to the empty room, closing her eyes and
trying once more to escape into sleep.
An hour later, as the wormhole flowered in the vastness of space, Kira
was stirring fitfully in her sleep ...
A tentative whisper sounded in the depths of her awareness. She
strained to hear it. She reached out with herself ... with her
soul--her pagh, and felt a
movement like restless waves ... around her body
... reaching for her ...
He hovered at the foot of the bed for a moment or two, watching her
sleep--if it could really be called watching. More accurately, it was
an act of sensing her with his whole self. He had
learned so much during his time in the Link. It was simple to "become"
fog, as Laas had once done, to gather around her like a halo. Had she
started to wake, he could have "disappeared" himself in a heartbeat,
becoming part of the bed or the floor. Now he let the weightless
essence of himself veil her, wrapping her in a chaste embrace. He could
feel her breathing, a deeply familiar sensation, and the longing to
become his liquid self and hold her that way became suddenly as sharp
as an ache. For the first time since departing the Link, he allowed
himself to simply feel,
allowed his love for Kira to surge through
his being, hoping that some part of the emotion could translate itself
to her sleeping awareness. It was futile, he knew. She could not link
with him, and yet ... Her body stirred, displacing his molecules.
A soft little moan broke from her as she lay there, and then he felt
the salt wetness of her tears mingling with his substance. Kira's body
curled in on itself and shook with sobs, even though she was still
asleep. This was almost too much to bear. Odo saw ... or rather,
perceived, that her hand was clutching something very tightly, and
moved gently to tease open her fingers. Smooth metal with a faceted
jewel embedded there, threaded on a chain. Croden's key. His
almost-changeling "cousin." Had he been in humanoid form, he might have
smiled--or wept. Giving in, he let himself gather around Kira's body
and assume his humanoid shape, turning her in his arms, cradling her
against his chest. "Nerys ... hush ... it's all right." He felt her
weeping into his skin, closed his eyes, and steeled his heart--his
illusory, nonexistent, purely metaphorical heart.
"I'm sorry, Nerys ... I'm so sorry ..."
Kira woke in a kind of daze, feeling a welcome, familiar warmth
surrounding her. What had wakened her was not a nightmare or her own
restlessness, but ... a presence.
"Odo ..." she murmured, and even as she said it found that she was
speaking the words against the smooth, soft velvet of his skin. She
kissed him without hesitation, kissed his chest and up along his
breastbone, until she found his face, his ice blue eyes. He seemed to
have a halo around him, and she smiled through her tears.
"It's you," she whispered. Odo nodded--that priceless, minimalist
gesture that she loved so well, and then he kissed her--her forehead,
her eyelids, her lips last of all. Her own hands moved to slide the
straps of her nightgown off her shoulders, to offer him her body as she
had on that last night.
She felt his lips against her temple, his arms pulling her close.
"Nerys ..." he said her name as if he could not believe in the reality
of her. Kira shut her eyes, surrendering, not caring if she was lost in
a dream. The difference between them was no difference. Her arms,
reaching out to wrap around his now-solid body, to pull him close, were
warm and familiar. Her breathing, her heartbeat, the softness of her
skin--these spoke to Odo and made him feel welcome. Kira did not
think, in that moment. Thought was not necessary. She simply wound
herself around her lover, receiving what he offered--kisses that
searched her mouth, hands that knew her body more intimately than she
knew it herself. Odo lifted and held her. Kira opened her thighs,
opened herself--gasped softly as Odo kissed her throat and then
filled her aching emptiness. He fitted her body easily, warm and solid
and familiar inside her, comfortingly humanoid at first, then
dissolving to hot fluid in her depths. Her fingers clutched his
still-solid, still-warm shoulders. She heard herself saying his name
mindlessly as she moved with him--a tender, insistent, rocking
motion--finally gasping in joy and relief as her body overloaded with
pleasure of being joined to his.
Then she was lying in the tangled bedding, wrapped around his lean,
beautiful body, breathing softly against his shoulder. She couldn't
speak at first, almost didn't dare. Odo drew back to stare at her, his
fingers delicately tracing the side of her face. His head tilted the
merest fraction, and suddenly the tears sprang once more into Kira's
eyes. She took his face into her hands, pulling him down into a fierce
kiss that went on and on until she was forced to stop and catch her
breath. Odo bowed his head until it touched hers.
"Nerys ..." he breathed.
"It really is you ..." she said again.
She reached out to feel his smooth, mask-like features as if she'd been
a blind woman, found an idiotic grin stealing across her own face.
"What are you doing here?" she whispered softly.
"Making love to you." A gentle tease, delivered in that soft, gruff
voice that she had come to find so alluringly sexy and reassuring.
"Seems like this should be a dream ..."
"Not this time ..." he kissed her again, and she wound him in her arms
and let it go on, until a stab of sudden need and pain made her simply
clutch him tight, as if she were drowning.
The tears choked her voice. "I--I'm all right--I just ... I've
missed you. I didn't realize how much ..."
Odo buried his face against the side of her neck, calming the sudden
sobs that wracked Kira's body. He felt them shudder through his own
frame. "I've missed you, too," he said tightly, rubbing his cheek
against her temple. "I'm sorry ... I had to see if--if you were all
"I'm glad you're here," she whispered, pushing away the rest of the
words that sprang to mind: even if
you can't stay ....
Odo closed his eyes and let his lips travel gently down Kira's throat
and over her body--the soft pink nipples of her breasts that hardened
under his tongue, the smoothness of her abdomen and inner thighs. He
parted her legs gently and kissed the soft flower of her labia, lapping
at fluid that spilled from her body, listening to her soft cries of
pleasure as she twisted among the sheets. He let his fingers liquefy
over her, caressing every centimeter of her flesh as he slowly went
fluid around her, enveloping her within himself. It went on forever
until Kira was a tangle of naked limbs sprawled in exhausted sleep and
Odo was a spent pool of translucent gold poured over her. The pulses of
her body--breathing, heartbeat, echoed through his own senses,
lulling him into sleep at long last.
Hours later, after he'd slipped almost unthinkingly to the floor and
lay for some little while as a still pool beside Kira's
bed, reflecting the starlight up at the darkened ceiling, he moved out
into the living area of her quarters. Slowly, deliberately, Odo
reformed his humanoid self, rising up as a pillar of glowing, fluid
amber and then shaping his body, cell by cell, joint by joint. He made
himself naked and smooth, but without obvious gender. He lingered over
aesthetic considerations--eye color and skin tint, the texture of his
hair, the shape and length of his fingers. By now he was a skilled
enough changeling that such intense concentration was unnecessary. This
face and form were so much his own that he might have summoned them up
complete as quickly as thought. But he chose not to. He found the
meticulous process of creating himself, one detail at a time, to be
strangely comforting, particularly after being in Kira's arms. He was
not yet sure exactly why this should be, but in this moment, shaping
his own lungs, drawing the air inside them, feeling his chest
expand--all these things seemed to demand focused attention.
Once everything was in place, he was somehow not surprised to find
himself standing in front of Kira's prayer mandala, gazing into its
soft gold light.
He had never believed in the Prophets. Yet so much had happened to him
since he'd last stood in this place, since he'd slept or made love in
these rooms, he found himself feeling unusually still, almost ...
"Hmmph," he snorted softly, not at all sure if this was a desirable
state of affairs.
He stared at the mandala for a long time--for all he knew, it might
have been hours--before his lover's soft voice intruded on his
"Odo ... are you all right?"
He looked up slowly, momentarily surprised to find her there.
"I woke up and you were gone," she said quietly. "I thought that maybe
you'd ..." Kira shook her head. "I thought you'd disappeared. Or that
I'd dreamed you." She tried to make her tone light, but Odo sensed her
deep sadness, her fear and uncertainty, even through the turmoil of his
It happened. We really did make love.
Kira leaned silently in the doorway to the bedroom, a slender, pale
figure wrapped in one of the bedsheets, her eyes large and dark and
worried. Odo looked away from her and fixed his gaze on the object
standing beside Kira's personal shrine. He had not noticed it before,
but now he recognized it immediately. Slowly, he let his hand come to
rest on the single metal arch taken from the larger sculpture that had
once occupied the main area of his own quarters here on the station.
His fingers, moving almost of their own volition, traced gently,
lovingly over the smooth surface.
"Nerys ... exactly how long have I been gone?" he asked softly.
"You don't know?" Her question was gentle, not accusing. She didn't
even sound surprised.
"Time is perceived ... differently in the Link."
"It's been just a year and seven months--or nearly seven."
There was silence for a moment. For some reason, Odo could not look up
at Kira--not yet. He kept his hand--and his eyes--firmly on the
piece of curved bronze.
"I liked ... the way that it sort of reaches upward into space," said
Kira softly. "It reminded me of you--that day when you learned how to
be an Arbazan vulture. Do you remember?"
Odo nodded slowly. How could he have forgotten? It was the day he'd
learned who his people really were. He'd been trying to make peace with
that knowledge ever since. "I remember," he said, still running
fingertips over the soft, smooth metal, "--the day that I had this
delivered to my quarters."
"Me too," said Kira.
Odo could hear the deep affection in her voice, closed his eyes as his
form began to feel oddly liquid and unstable.
"You brought me that potted plant on the same day," he recalled,
carefully keeping his voice level.
"Yes--I still have that, too."
"I noticed. What else did you keep?"
There was a soft rustle in the dimness as Kira shrugged. "Only a few
things. The locket, some of your detective novels. Most of it was
packed off to Bajor, but Ezri tells me that ... I have a problem
"So do I, evidently," whispered Odo. There was a brief silence.
Then--"Nerys ... I never meant for you to ... wait for me. I didn't --"
There was more soft rustling, and somehow he was stunned to look up and
find Kira facing him. "I know," she said. The corners of her mouth
turned slightly upward in soft but wry smile. Odo glanced down at the
slender hand that had come to rest on his shoulder. Kira's touch crept
slowly upward to caress the side of his face. She was staring at him
again in rapt amazement, as if he'd returned from the dead rather than
simply from the other side of the galaxy.
"Still wondering if it's really me?" he whispered, a half-hearted joke,
though it had occurred to him that from her point of view, given the
general level of distrust that remained between the Alpha Quadrant and
the Dominion, he might have been any changeling at all. Kira only shook
her head. "No," her voice was soft and husky. "I'd know you
anywhere. Don't ask me how--but I would." She brought her lips
against his temple and kissed him.
Odo took her hand and pressed it to the smooth surface of the metal
arch. She looked at him questioningly.
"Do you remember why I
brought this into my rooms? Do you remember
what I told you when you asked about it?" A note of urgency had crept
into his voice without his intending it.
Kira looked a little puzzled, but her answer came with no hesitation.
"You said you wanted to find out what it really meant to be a
"Yes," Odo tried and failed to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
"As if it were possible to learn that from a room full of
"What's happened, Odo?"
He saw the distress in her face--distress over his own pain and
uncertainty. He stared at the floor, trying to find words for something
that he wasn't certain how to explain. "I wish I knew, Nerys. If I knew
that, perhaps I could fix it."
She studied him for a moment, a peculiar kind of determination in her
dark eyes. Then she raised both hands to touch him, and in doing so,
she allowed the sheet to fall completely away from her body. "Let's fix
it now," she whispered, leaning in to kiss him. His body tingled from
head to foot as her lips brushed over his cheek and then found his
mouth. Odo shut his eyes and allowed his hands to run softly up over
her torso and her small, soft breasts. Kira's breathing became heavier
while Odo's slowly liquefying hands began to explore her body once more.
"Wait ..." she whispered.
Odo's hands stilled and went solid on her shoulders. He tilted his head
to look at Kira's flushed face. "Nerys?"
Kira smiled at him. "You've already done something for me tonight," she
said, her voice low and seductive. "Now I want to do something for you
..." Her hands slipped smoothly down over his chest and then back up.
Odo took the hint immediately. "I'd like that," he whispered.
"Lie down, then ..."
She watched his face change as her hands moved over his body. The floor
of her quarters seemed strangely accommodating at that moment, just as
it had on that night over a year ago when she thought she'd released
him forever--and then he'd magically come back to her. Kira's hands
still knew exactly where to go as they moved over Odo's created form.
She watched his eyes close in pleasure and felt his body arch and his
breath come short as she kissed him, as her hands roved his body with a
kind of desperation. Somehow she knew what was wrong. She felt how
lonely he still was, how isolated, in every groan and every spasm of
his body as he responded to her touch. It was in the very taste of his
skin as she kissed him. She straddled his hips in the dark, covering
his body with her own, covering his face with her kisses. Odo seemed
incapable of saying anything except her name, over and over, until
somehow it seemed to her that the two of them had been in this place
forever, eternally tied together, and that her very breath was
dependent upon his being there to receive and react to her touches.
"What is it, Odo?" she whispered. "Tell me ... tell me what's wrong ..."
He could only shake his head. Had he been able to cry, she knew he
would have. As it was, she saw moisture begin to gather in the hollows
around his deepset eyes. Her kisses moved down over his body, from the
ivory smoothness of his throat, down his belly and thighs, and she
heard him moan with joy and pain. He remained passive--and solid--until
he could no longer bear it, and finally seized Kira in his arms
and rolled her onto her back.
If anything, her body was even more open and welcoming than the first
time. He could feel the hunger in her lips and fingertips. Unbidden, he
recalled making love to the female Founder, and her obvious disdain for
the procedure as anything more than a mildly amusing experiment.
Afterwards he'd felt guilty and ... soiled somehow. But Nerys' warm
body, with its soft, giving curves of flesh, was like water to a
thirsty man. Her obvious hunger for him, the way her mouth demanded and
returned his kisses, was balm to his aching soul. To be wanted in this
intimate way, despite all of his perceived failings--yes, this was
why he'd come back to the station. He kissed her deeply, sighed in pure
relief as her legs fell open and he sheathed himself in the warmth
between her thighs. She wrapped herself around him, gasping. Her body
claimed him and he thrust, letting the tension flow out of his hips,
feeling his own body ripple with pleasure.
For those fleeting moments,
nothing mattered except their joining, their link to each other, as
elemental as thirst and hunger--and Odo felt those humanoid needs as
he moved in and with and against Kira's body, as clearly and vividly as
when he himself had been forced into a humanoid body. What am I now?
said a soft voice in his head. Am I
a changeling or a solid? Did I
make myself this way--or did Nerys? This was a dream he'd had
before--after the Founders had made him human, a dream that had always
ended in frustration. And now, now ... he ran his fingers up over
Kira's smooth back, gripped her pelvis with his hands and pressed her
against himself. This was real. He remembered now. They had always been
here. The two of them. Odo heard himself as if from a long distance
away, saying Kira's name. He heard her cry out and then felt her lips
on his own again. She was kissing him, touching him everywhere with the
soft, warm circle of her mouth. Nerys
... He could only clutch her
against himself and shiver with pleasure and fear.
They made love until they were both breathless with it, entangled in
each other, catching their breath. Odo lay back and saw Kira gazing
down at him, felt her hands moving slowly through the damp hair near
his temples. There were tears streaming down her cheeks. "Tell me," she
whispered softly, as her kisses continued to rain on his face and neck.
"Tell me what's wrong ..."
Odo closed his eyes and exhaled.
"I'm sorry, Nerys. I shouldn't have come here."
Kira lowered her voice. It was barely a whisper, but her words had
never been so clearly audible. "Don't be silly ... I want you here.
Hell, Odo--I hardly know what to do without you here." Kira swallowed
hard, rubbed her wet cheek against Odo's face. "Please ... tell me
what's wrong. You don't have to protect me from anything. I want to
There was a long silence while Odo struggled to keep his solid form
from puddling beneath her, while he allowed the tension to leave his
"I failed them," he said at last.
When Kira offered no comment, he went on. "I didn't mean to end up
here, Nerys. I just," he closed his eyes. "There was no where else. I
only wanted to get away for a little while--go someplace where I
could hear myself think ..." She had gathered the crumpled
bedsheet from the floor and now spread it over the two of them, curling
against Odo's side. "What do you mean?"
"I mean--I couldn't bear it anymore--all those voices. All that
constant ... intimacy." The
word was uttered with deep distaste, for
all the world like the old Odo she'd known, the one who despised
"humanoid mating rituals."
"I suppose ... I suppose I had some ... vague idea of what it would
be like when I rejoined my people. I knew it would be different from
the isolation I've always lived in. I even idealized that, somehow. I
thought--I thought that I could somehow ... move between my
individual state and the totality of the Link. But after a while, being
in the Link just became ... overwhelming ..."
He watched Kira's still-troubled face, fearing that he had said too
much. It was asking a great deal to expect any humanoid to comprehend
the nature of the Link. For a moment he felt the same kind of dread
that he'd always associated with allowing others to see his natural
form. Nerys hesitated a moment before speaking. "I ... don't think I
understand. Isn't that kind of sharing ... natural for changelings?"
"For them, yes--it certainly seems to be. They don't think of
themselves as separate beings most of the time."
"But you do." Her voice was gentle, inexorable. He drew another deep
breath as he felt her hand gently rubbing just below his ribcage.
Prophets how he loved her touch. How had he survived for a whole year
and more without it? Eventually, he found the voice to continue, but
the words were ragged coming out.
"Individuality was ... something I thought I could teach them. But as
far as the Link is concerned, that's only evidence of how much I've
been 'damaged' by living with solids. For all I know, they're right
about that." Odo snorted.
"But--when you linked with the Founder here on the station, you said
"--that it was paradise. I know. It's probably simpler with just two
changelings. There are fewer ... distractions. But it's also clear to
me now that the Founder ... well, obviously she was making it easy for
me--manipulating me, just as you said she was."
"But I saw you heal them, Odo--just like you healed the Founder ..."
"Yes. It was almost ... frightening how easy that was."
"Are you telling me that after you saved all of them, they just ...
turned you away?" There was a hint of righteous anger in her voice, and
in a way, it warmed him. It was so very typical of Nerys to spring
immediately to his defense.
He paused for a moment, trying to retrace the thread of his own jumbled
thoughts. Kira lay next to him, softly breathing against the side of
his neck, waiting for an answer. "It isn't that, it's .... They don't
understand, Nerys. They've been afraid of solids for so long--and
it's not as if they didn't have reasons. After all, the Founders never
would have needed saving if Section 31 hadn't used me to poison them
all in the first place ..."
"That wasn't your fault," insisted Kira.
"It hardly matters," said Odo softly, "I was an oddity in the Link
almost from the moment I stepped into it. The Founders assumed that my
return meant I'd changed--seen the 'error of my ways.' When it became
clear that I hadn't ... things got ... complicated. Some of the oldest
ones still don't trust me, I'm afraid--and I have no idea how to
change that, except by giving up who I am and giving up trying to show
them any new ways of thinking."
Kira was silent for a long moment. "What will you do?"
There was a wealth of unspoken feeling behind her carefully neutral
question. Odo was touched by her effort, even now, to remain open to
whatever choice he might make. She did not assume that he would stay
with her, even if she was no longer playing the good soldier, devoted
only to duty with no needs or wishes of her own. He closed his eyes and
tried to think past the roiling emotions in his own soul. Holding her
in his arms, feeling her living, breathing reality, her sorrow and her
love--all pulsing through his own physical being, he wanted
desperately to comfort her, to offer reassurance. Yet he could make no
promises about their future. He would not lie to her.
"I don't know," he said at last. "But I can't just ... abandon them
Nerys ... they're my ..."
"They're your family."
She understood. Odo stared at the ceiling and released a breath. "Yes
... I just feel so ... useless."
To his surprise, Kira laughed softly. Odo gave her a solemn, inquiring
look. Kira shook her head, recollecting. "Bareil once told me that I
should 'explore being useless' for a while."
"When was that?"
"Years ago--when I was staying at the monastery--before he and I
were lovers. It was during that incident with the Circle, remember? The
first time that Winn tried to take over the Bajoran government?"
"I remember. So did you--'explore being useless'?"
Kira snorted softly. "I guess."
"And I hated it." She pressed her forehead down against his, let her
lips brush his cheek. "I always knew you and I were alike." There was
momentary silence as he put one hand up to her face, sought her mouth
and kissed her back. For a while, the kissing was an adequate
distraction, and they got lost in it. Finally, Kira laid her cheek down
on Odo's chest. "You remember the way I used to come to you with
Odo's tone was low and wistful. "I remember--I miss those days."
"Sometimes I still walk all the way to the door of the security office
before I realize that you're not there. I was telling Ezri about that
just the other day. You know, the whole station is different without
you." Her voice was tender, but not urgent, her tone almost one of
nostalgia. Yet her body felt very fragile in his arms.
"I'm going to tell you something that I should have told you a long
time ago." She drew a deep breath, as if reaching far back into memory.
Her next words had the air of a confession, of the type she used to
bring to Odo back in the days before they were lovers.
"When I was in the Bajoran Resistance, I taught myself how not to feel.
How not to be afraid, how not
to fall in love. I got pretty good at
it. During the Dominion war, when I was part of the Cardassian
resistance, I fell right back into my old survival habits. At the time,
it didn't seem like I had a choice. I wound up sitting in a basement on
Cardassia for I don't even know how long. I learned a lot about being
'useless' then. All I could think about was you, Odo. I wondered if I'd
ever see you again. I dreamed about you so much that after a while I
started to wonder if you were
a dream, if us being together had ever
She paused, seemingly catching her breath and steadying her emotions.
"So when I saw you again, alive, after Bashir cured you, I was so
grateful that you were safe--I would have done anything to keep you
out of harm's way. I wanted
to be happy when you decided to go back
and be with your people, because I wanted you to be happy. For a
while, I think it worked. But I pushed all my other feelings down where
I couldn't find them--just like I had when I was in the Resistance.
It was so easy, at first I didn't even know I was doing it. Ezri and
Julian made me go down to Bajor for a while, because I wasn't fooling
them, even when I was fooling myself. I stayed at Bareil's monastery
for a while, and I was 'useless' there for a long time too--but I
finally figured something out." She took hold of Odo's long, slender
fingers and allowed her grip to tighten around them. "I've been
terrified of losing you ever since the beginning. Not just since we've
been lovers--but always. From almost the first day we worked
together. I always had a feeling, in the back of my mind, that on the
day you found your people, you would leave all of us behind. I always
had that fear--and I think that's why ..." She let her voice sink
very low, "... why it took me so long to realize that I loved you."
"I'm sorry, Nerys ..."
"When I said goodbye to you, I thought I was doing what was best--maybe
for the Dominion and the Alpha Quadrant--but mostly for you.
I've known you a long time, Odo. I knew you never felt at home here. I
wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to be where you belonged. That's
all I've ever wanted for you."
"I've known that for a long time," he whispered, "Ever since you did
what you did for Laas."
"I did it for you. For you, Odo." She held him tightly,
words sink in.
Odo shut his eyes. It had always been hard for him to accept kindness,
even at the most basic level. For a long time he'd found it difficult
to accept love, to allow Nerys to tend to his needs as he'd always
tended to hers. When he'd been close to death, he'd sent her away. He
had always listened to her talk about her own feelings, but so seldom
talked about his own.
"I remember when I took you back to the Link," said Kira softly. "You
did seem happy then. You seemed ... hopeful. But --" She let her hand
caress his face, as she had on that last night, so long ago. "--but you
don't seem happy now. You're not happy, and neither am I--and neither
one of us can help our people."
Odo reached up to stroke her wet
cheek. "You're a bird, Nerys," he whispered. "I had to let you go ...
so that you could fly ... live the kind of life you've always wanted.
I'm ... I'm like a ... a fish you'd have to drag with you--always
bound to the ocean. We're different from each other ... don't you see?
There was no other way."
"I know what you tried to do. I know what I tried to do. But it's not
working, Odo. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that you and I do our best
work when we're together? How can I tell Shakaar about the state of the
Dominion without a reliable source? How can I convince the people here
that changelings are ... are people
without any changelings here on
the station? How can I ... how can I go through another year of not
having you here to counsel me, to argue with me, to show me when I'm
being an idiot? I know you. You try to be strong for everyone. You
never ask for help. But I need you, Odo--and I know you need me too."
Her impassioned words left him silent for a moment. When he spoke
again, his own voice was tentative.
"Laas once told me ... that humanoid love was a pale shadow of the Link
... but he was wrong." He looked into her eyes. "The Link isn't my
home. It never was. This is home. You're
She studied his face. Could it be that the Prophets had somehow spoken
to him and called him here? She digested this in silence, running her
hands over his back. "You're home to me too."
"So what does all this mean?" said Odo.
"It means ... that we have to find a way to help our people ...
together. Unless you'd rather go on 'exploring uselessness.'"
Odo snorted softly. "Sometimes I wonder if I've made things worse in
"I've confused them, Nerys. They don't know what to do
with me, what to make of me. They still don't understand why I healed
"Sounds like it's going to take some time."
"Yes ..." Odo shut his eyes. Could it really be as simple as all that?
That the two of them simply needed each other? Somehow, in his deepest
self, this truth was self-evident. He and Nerys were linked. Neither
one of their worlds would benefit from their permanent separation.
"This won't be easy, Nerys," he said at last.
"It never was, was it?"
Kira shut her eyes, drew a deep breath and let her arms close around
him. She could sense the despair that was lurking under his words. It
had been there all night, in the desperate way that he'd made love to
her. She let her fingers run up through his hair, when she spoke at
last, her voice was very soft. "You know--I think I finally figured
you out. All these years you had everyone thinking you were such a
"You're not. You're an idealist. You want a perfect world where
everyone gets justice and everyone gets to belong somewhere. Where no
one ever has to go without."
"Hmmph," he snorted softly. "The universe doesn't work that way."
"Nerys ..." He hesitated. "I can't promise you that I'll ever be able
to leave the Link behind for good ..."
"I'm not asking for that.
Why would I? The idea is to teach them how to get along with solids,
"You're right." Odo finally smiled at her--that thin ghost of a smile
which always seemed so out of place on his usually solemn countenance.
Their eyes held each other a long time. Then Odo became solemn again,
recalling the dream that had spurred him to leave the Link. "We will
lose each other one day, you know, no matter what we decide ..." he
"Better to end it now, then?" she challenged.
"I didn't say that."
Kira leaned down to him. "I can take being apart for a little while,
Odo ... even for a long while, as long as I know that ... that this
doesn't have to be the last
His heart--that nonexistent engine of emotion buried deep within the
core of himself, had lifted somehow, if only a little. He gathered Kira
against himself once more, kissing her slowly, reveling in the feel of
her body against his. Perhaps there was a way, after all. Perhaps ...
He closed his eyes and at last breathed a promise against her skin, one
that he knew would be kept. "I swear to you, Nerys ... this
won't be the last time ..."
The memory of sleeping in her arms that night was something that
sustained Odo for a long time afterward--the soft, even rhythm of her
breathing, the warm, living reality of her. He realized in those
moments that they did share a link, a link so subtle and intricate that
his people would possibly never understand it, not unless they ever
fell in love themselves with some fragile individual of another
species. He no longer knew what was going to happen, but he knew where
he belonged, and he knew what the others needed to understand if the
Dominion was ever to find true peace with its neighbors. They needed to
understand this kind of unconditional acceptance, and that it was
possible, even between beings who were alien to each other.
He let his body flow around Kira's, knowing now that she would always
be with him. Promises were not necessary, only understanding.
Kira was gazing out the viewport, clutching the pendant in her hand,
when Ezri Dax came to stand beside her. The diminutive Trill was silent
for a long time.
"He was here, wasn't he?" she said at last, her voice quiet but
certain--for all the world an echo of Jadzia's serenity and sureness.
Startled, Kira dropped the pendant and turned to face her. "How did you
Ezri shrugged nonchalantly, her elfin features coloring slightly.
"Something about the way you've been acting since last night. Like a
lot of weight has fallen off your shoulders." She gave Kira one of her
earnest "counselor" looks. "Are you all right?"
"I'll be fine, I think." Kira allowed herself to exhale softly. "We
"So he's gone back, then?" queried Ezri.
Kira felt herself strangely calm, almost contented, as she turned back
to the viewport. "For a while."
She could hear the smile in Ezri's voice. "So you worked something out?
That's wonderful." She paused. "Is he going to say hello to the rest of
us the next time?"
"I'll mention it to him," said Kira. Her hand
came back to rest lightly on the pendant, and then she wrapped her
fingers around it. "We must be crazy to think this can work," she said
at last. "I still can't quite believe it really happened."
"You've had long distance relationships before," Ezri reminded her.
"Not like this one. Never like this one." Kira grinned
"But he is coming back?"
Kira shut her eyes, drawing in her breath, feeling her chest expand
with the certainty of it. "Yes."
They stood together, not quite shoulder to shoulder, looking out the
viewport at the endless depths of space. Suddenly the wormhole flowered
open, and Kira shut her eyes and wished, with all her heart, that her
lover would be well.
She already knew he would be back.
~ Not the End ~
Author's Notes: This story was my
first attempt at a post-WYLB O/K reunion story. It appeared in the
Love and Justice V (2000), and
was posted to ASCEM in September of 2002. I have not yet tried to write
any sequels for it (though I am currently working on a much longer and
more involved O/K reunion story, set post-finale). The phrase "not the
end" used to mark the closing of this particular story, is in this case
merely a rhetorical device that lets me thumb my puny nose at DS9's
PTB, since I emphatically do not see Odo's and Kira's relationship as
"over" at the end of WYLB, Great Link or no Great Link.