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) 1998 by C. Zdroj. This story is Rated NC-17.

Waltz II (or, Meanwhile, Back on the Station ...)
by C. Zdroj


Chronology Note: This story was inspired by a scene from the ST:DS9 episode "Waltz," during which it is set.


~~~

Odo stood behind Kira, watching her shoulders, watching her back tighten with tension as she kept her eyes on the four Starfleet officers leaving Ops and heading for the Defiant.

She stood impassive, for the moment the commanding officer of the station, adopting her most military aspect as Dax, Worf, and Bashir all prepared to go in search of the missing Captain Sisko.

Bajor's liaison would stay behind while others went to seek the Emissary.  Odo felt certain that she was asking herself the same question that was in his mind. The question that both of them were afraid of asking aloud. Could Sisko be dead? And if he were, then what was to become of Bajor?

Odo himself was no believer in any religion. He was rigorous about his skepticism. Nothing in his life had ever allowed him to feel the unconditional faith that Kira seemed to possess. Yet he knew something of the loyalty she had to Sisko--the man who had persuaded her, against all the walls that she had erected within herself against such a possibility--that joining the Federation was the right course for Bajor. Even more improbably, Sisko had convinced Odo too of this initially strange notion.

The changeling was motionless in the silence that suddenly swelled within the nerve center of the station, the Cardassian-built monstrosity that both he and Kira now called home. There was something surreal about the moment--about the two of them being left to themselves to attend to station business.

It was a miracle that they were able to work together at all, after everything that had happened during the recent Dominion occupation of DS9--but here they were now, standing together, almost as if none of that had happened. It was, for one brief moment, as it had been after the departure of the Cardassians and before the arrival of the Federation--with the two of them in silent solidarity, looking over the wreckage of the station and into a future that seemed grim at best.

Kira, like Odo himself, was made of emotional steel, and he admired that, as he always had. He respected it. And yet, for the entire time he remained there, watching and admiring her, he also knew how terribly fragile she was behind the hard exterior, for he had seen her at breaking point before, many times. He ached to lay his hands on her shoulders in a gesture of comfort.

But he didn't. His own posture remained as hers, his hands locked behind him. His shame eating at him.

She turned, and Odo looked up. There was a moment, half a heartbeat, perhaps, when they startled each other with the vulnerability betrayed on both their faces. But military decorum intervened to save them from embarrassment. "We'd better update the Bajoran government and Starfleet on all of this," Kira said briskly.  Odo's face was an impassive mask as he nodded. Undoubtedly there would be vedeks and ministers to reassure, admirals to placate, and countless other tasks of both protocol and necessity to be done in the wake of Sisko's disappearance--as well as the routine duties of running the station itself. It suddenly occurred to Odo that someone would have to inform nineteen-year-old Jake Sisko of what had happened. Kira would undoubtedly take that unpleasant duty on her own shoulders. She nodded back to Odo, no hint of emotion on her face--and then headed back into Sisko's office to deal with whatever needed to be dealt with there.

No one observing this brief, businesslike interchange between DS9's security chief and first officer would ever have guessed that Odo and Kira had managed, not two months ago, to spend more than ten hours hidden in Jadzia Dax's closet, just talking. Odo wondered when--and if--they would ever be able to talk that way again.

~~~

Kira, after countless hours of subspace conversations with generals and spies and intelligence officers and security personnel and who knew what-all from Starfleet, entered the Bajoran temple at some Prophets-forsaken hour, feeling tired and utterly deserted. There had been no word from the Defiant. She approached the altar and lit a prayer candle, and then allowed herself to sink into one of the carved wooden benches near the front, pushing her hand tiredly through her short, dark red hair.

"That damned Worf," she muttered softly. "Couldn't find a shree-vrat in a nest of tarka's eggs." She laughed softly, the laughter of one who hasn't had any sleep in over forty hours. It was unfair, she knew, to be picking on the Klingon. He was too easy a target, with his constant bluster and uncertain machismo. Besides, Dax and Julian and Miles were with him, and she knew that all of them would have gone to the ends of the earth for Sisko. She was mildly surprised, in the midst of muffling her own laughter with her hand, to find herself wiping tears from her face. Within seconds her short, jerking sobs could no longer be contained, and threatened to become embarrassingly loud, amplified as they were by the acoustic design of the temple.

As silently and gracefully as a whisper, she felt her hands being pulled gently away from her face. Still incoherent, she reached out and let her fingers grasp handfuls of the brown Bajoran uniform tunic that materialized beside her, clothing a body that was warm and solid. Her arms slipped around a broad upper torso and she felt herself wrapped in a pair of strong arms. "It's all right, Nerys ..." The low, familiar rough-soft voice had a gentleness in it that stirred a memory of herself in the station infirmary, lying on her side, with a protective shadow standing over her. Odo. She drew back, looked into deepset blue eyes in a minimalist, angular face. Somehow those plain features spoke volumes to her. There were oceanic depths there of sadness, understanding ... and regret.

"Odo ..." she said--and the sound of her voice made them both draw back for a moment. She in surprise, he with something like embarrassment. "When did you ...?"

"I've been here for an hour or two. I was ... one of the candles on the altar," Odo admitted with some obvious chagrin. "Though I never have managed to replicate a flame," he added, his faint, almost-smile signaling his attempt to make a joke.

Kira smiled at him and managed to recover some of her self-control. "That could be dangerous, you know--suppose I'd tried to light you?"

"That would have been interesting," he responded. "Believe it or not, no one's ever tried that--not in all the times I've been here."

"You've been here before?" Kira blurted. Then, feeling that somehow the utterance had sounded rude, she amended, "I mean--I didn't realize that you came here regularly."

"Just since the Occupation ended," Odo admitted. She felt him wince as a shadow of self-doubt flickered briefly over his carefully crafted features. "I mean--I've found that I like the quiet here. It's very ... conducive to thinking. Very restful. That's a good environment for shapeshifting."

"I never thought of that. You make it sound like meditation."

"I suppose it is, in a way. It requires a certain ... inner silence to become an inanimate object. It's one of the things I--" He stopped and then went on, his eyes averted from her. "One of the things that I learned from my people."

"I see," she said.

There was a silence that stretched.

"I ... didn't mean to intrude on your privacy," said Odo. "I didn't come here to--to watch you. It was so late I didn't think anyone would--"

"It's all right."

"I didn't mean to interfere," he went on, still looking away from her. "But I heard you crying and ... I just couldn't sit there and do nothing."

In the dimness of the temple, Kira peered curiously at his averted features. She had a fuzzy remembrance of the shy young security officer who had once come to her table in the replimat and awkwardly informed her that a "pretty girl like you shouldn't be eating alone." The awareness of his current discomfort filtered into her own fatigued senses slowly. After a moment, she reached out and took his hand, letting her fingers interlace with his and squeezing warmly. "I'm glad you're here. I feel like I've been trapped inside my own worries all day."

"Almost two days by my count."

His eyes met hers at last and they both almost managed to smile. For a few minutes they just sat in the silence, holding hands. Kira was astonished at how comfortable a silence it was. It seemed to her as though they were both, in their distinct ways, silently praying for Sisko's safe return. Kira knew that Odo was not religious, not according to any of the usual definitions, but that didn't seem to matter at the moment. She found herself recalling all the times that she had ever sat with him in his office, saying nothing, and feeling safe in that silence. "You know what I've always liked about you?" she said at last.

"What?"

"You always know exactly when to be quiet."

"I've had lots of practice."

She drew a breath in the stillness. "Do you remember the very first words you said to Sisko?" 

"'Who the hell are you?'" Odo quoted back, with perfect "cranky Constable" inflection. Despite her worry, Kira almost laughed outright.

Then she shook her head. "When I think about some of the shouting matches I had with the captain ... of course--who knew then that he was the Emissary? I didn't want to believe it at first."

"We don't know that he's dead, Nerys," said Odo, quietly, but with iron-firmness. She squeezed his hands again in gratitude, welcoming his bluntness in saying aloud the word that she was afraid even to think. She felt a surge of affection then, warm and painfully unexpected. He always knew exactly what she needed to hear. So like Odo, to show affection by being brutally honest. It was a mark of respect. It showed how much he valued her.

She reached up, slowly, almost fearfully, to touch the side of his face, hesitating briefly just before her fingers came into contact with his skin. Some part of her was fearful, even now, of this "inappropriate" intimacy, this breach of her cowardice and his fierce privacy. She traced the contours of his face carefully, as if seeing him for the first time. He held perfectly still, allowing her hand to move over his carefully molded features, her fingertips tracing the bridge of his nose, his cheeks, his lips, the ridges of his brow. He closed his eyes, and his expression was almost one of pain, as though he were enduring her exploration.

When her fingers brushed along the edge of his lower lip, he whispered as though he could barely force out his rasp of a voice, "Nerys ... stop ... please."

She withdrew her hand and then, determined to continue the experiment, leaned forward and kissed the place where her fingers had last rested, kissed his mouth with careful, cautious precision. In the seconds that followed, she drew a sharp breath as she felt his tongue sliding past her lips and then going liquid inside her mouth. An uncontrolled shiver raced through her body, for it was the most purely erotic sensation she'd ever felt. She was fully conscious of the fact that he was tasting her--exploring her like any of the shapes that he imitated--and in some strange way, she was exploring him too, feeling what it was like to be fluid. An unexpected flare of heat surged between her thighs, and for a moment, she thought her entire body was going to melt. She pulled back, gasping for breath when he
finally withdrew from her. She stared at him for a moment, into his wide, blue, terrified eyes--and he stared back.

He broke the eye-contact, looking down. "I'm sorry, Nerys."

Her own emotions were flailing around her skull, formless, a sea of unnamed desires and fears and doubts. His apologetic tone vexed her suddenly. She had the vague sense that they were both standing on the edge of something, wavering. No more, she decided, and seized his hand with sudden fierceness.

"Come on," she said, "We need to be someplace more private."

Odo looked completely baffled, but he rose and followed her out of the temple, out onto the Promenade. She held his hand determinedly as she strode along, dragging the constable after her, fixedly ignoring the stare of Quark, who was alone at his bar, counting out the day's take as they passed by his door. Out of the corner of her eye, Kira could have sworn that the crafty little troll had grinned one of his snaggle-toothed grins. She even fancied that he looked pleased about something. But she wasn't stopping to check. Stopping was deadly. She had no specific idea of just what she had in mind as she hauled Odo onto the turbo-lift and stood trembling, clutching his hand, as the doors hissed closed, sealing them inside. The silence was suddenly terrible and deafening.

"Nerys--" Odo attempted.

"You have a bed, right?" she asked, almost clinically, staring at the turbolift doors.

"I--yes, but ...."

"That's good." Then, abruptly to the computer, she snapped, "Habitat ring."

By the time Odo had got out the words, "Nerys, I don't think--" Kira was pulling him through the open doors of the turbolift and down the curving hallway to his quarters. She didn't stop moving, didn't allow herself to think, until the two of them stood outside his door. Then she halted, suppressing the million and one nameless fears that were trying to crowd her mind. She clamped down harder still on her own internal chaos and contemplated the smooth metal surface of Odo's door. Another choice, said the one crystal clear thought in her brain. She stared down at their joined hands, seeming to realize for the first time that she was still holding onto her friend. Slowly, she released his fingers. Odo withdrew his touch with a strangely tender grace, and she resisted the urge to reach out and clutch him once more. She just stood there. They both stood in silence for a moment, as if wondering exactly how they'd come to be there. Then Kira said. "Your move, Constable."

Silently, he keyed in the lock code to his door with spare, graceful movements of his fingers. He stood aside and gestured for her to enter. She did.

"Lights," said Odo's soft, gruff, voice behind her, and the lights came up, creating a strange, soft twilight effect in the room, revealing the distorted shadows of Odo's collection of sculptures and other strange objects. A changeling's garden, thought Kira, and almost laughed at herself aloud--at her own ridiculous burst of poetic sentiment. She remembered the first time she'd seen this place--how she'd gawked at everything like some rude tourist. "It's beautiful," was all she said now.

"Nerys--" Odo laid firm hands on her shoulders and turned her around to face him. "What is this about? I need to know."

He was so solemn-looking, especially now, especially in the half-light that shadowed his eyes and made him look even more forlorn than usual. Unexpectedly, he reached out and cupped the side of her face in his hand, forcing her to meet his gaze. She closed her eyes, feeling the tears welling into them. "I don't know," she confessed, for she couldn't lie to him. She'd never been able to lie to him. Except the one time. "Damn it, I don't know." She was suddenly furious at herself for charging this far to the cliff's edge only to hesitate yet again. "I just don't want to think tonight. I want to be someplace other than here. I don't want to be responsible for Bajor if --" She made herself say it: "--if the Emissary is dead."

"I see," he said. She felt the color rise to her cheeks. The stupidity of her actions hit her like a slap in the face. What had she just asked of him? Fuck me so that I'll feel better about the state of the universe? Let me borrow your body for a while? Let me take advantage of you? She wanted to sink into the ground in that moment. But the hateful, Cardassian-built architecture would have none of that. The floor under her feet stayed solid, and she became aware of the fact the Odo had leaned down to kiss her. She felt his lips brushing her cheek, a reverent, careful kiss. Prophets, I have to do this now, before I lose my nerve. She let her arms slide around his neck. Her lips sought his for the second time, kissing him with slow, deliberate sensuality. No thought, no doubt, just pure sensation. Exactly what she needed. She breathed against the skin of his neck and he shivered. She felt it through her whole body and pressed herself closer against him, felt an unexpected softening of his contours.

"Odo," she said softly, bringing one hand up to run her fingers through his fair, silken hair, pressing her lips against his temple. "Odo ..." she breathed his name again, drawing out the syllables. "Don't leave me tonight ... please." She was aware of arching her neck against the warmth of his kisses. He lifted her with astonishing ease and carried her to the other room, gently laying her on the bed. He drew back from kissing her, and she felt his fingers sketch lightly through her hair, a cautious touch against the side of her face.

"You're certain?" he said.

Having no use for words, and less idea what words might be appropriate, she reached for him, slipped her hands behind his head and pulled him into another firm kiss, shuddering as he liquefied inside her mouth again. She ran her hands down his back, and as she did so, she felt the fabric of his uniform melt into ripples of warm liquid, reform into skin that was softer than velvet, liquid after its own fashion, in its subtle, flowing curves. She brought her hands up over the front of his chest, shocked and delighted to feel the softness of his belly, the precise u-shaped outline of his lower ribcage, and the perfect, well-formed nipples that hardened under her touch. Odo gently drew her wrists away and pinned them down against the mattress, beginning to kiss her neck.

And then, as suddenly as he'd begun--he stopped, releasing her and sitting up on the bed.

"Odo?" Kira opened her eyes.

His face, above hers, was shadowed so that she couldn't read it.

"Odo, what's wrong?" she asked.

He paused. When he spoke, his voice was filled with shame and revulsion. "The female changeling," he whispered. "I--she and I, we ... it was here. On this bed." The last three words were spoken with emphatic precision, with sorrow, but mostly with anger. He fell silent.

Kira rolled onto her side and sat up slowly. She made no move to touch him. She and Odo had, occasionally, spoken of his "link" with the female changeling, always cautiously, always with a deep awareness of things left unsaid. But there was something now in his voice, a sense of fear as well as shame, that suddenly seemed familiar and troubling. She reached out to him slowly, allowed herself to touch his shoulder. He didn't move away, but she felt a contracting of his substance under her touch, as if his cells were drawing together.

"Odo--" she asked softly, "Did she ... force you? Did she hurt you?"

"No, she ... I didn't have the strength to say no to her." It was not an excuse. It was clear that he blamed himself entirely. He blew a soft snort of disgust. "We spent three days in this room. I didn't even realize how much time was passing. I let her have everything--everything that was me--all my memories, my emotions, everything. I gave it all to her. I even--I 'showed her how humanoids express intimacy.'" His words were dripping with pain and sarcasm.

Kira said nothing. His tone was one of confession, as though he needed to expose his failings before he could bring himself to touch her. "All my life I've longed to be with my people. Those three days were the closest I've ever come to complete happiness--and yet, all that time, it still seemed ... unsatisfying." He paused before going on. "It seems all I really wanted was to be with you."

Kira shut her eyes. She let her hand fall from his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Odo. I had no right to do this to you. It was stupid for me to come here."

He turned then and looked at her. "Was it?" he whispered, "Is it really so ridiculous? Am I so unattractive to you?"

She felt her throat constrict, tears stinging the corners of her eyes. "Of course not!" She took his chin in her hands and kissed his face, an act of desperation. She kissed his eyes, his cheeks, the hard, stubborn, straight line of his mouth. She kept her face close to his in the darkness, let her fingers roam through his hair, combing it haphazardly into complete disarray. She struggled for to find her words. "Odo," she whispered, "you're beautiful. I mean that. If you only knew how perfect you look right now--and when you kissed me, just now--and in the temple--it was like ... nothing I'd ever felt before. And it just seems like we've both been avoiding this for so long. I don't know what I feel right now. I'm tired and scared and lonely, and I do want you. I just don't want to use you the way she did. When you started talking about her--I realized that's what I was doing. This isn't right. It's not fair to you." She let her fingers smooth a few strands of hair back into place along his temple. "You've always been so good to me. You've always been there. You've never complained. I've never done anything but take advantage, have I?"

Odo shook his head. "That's not true. You--" He reached up and caught her hands, drawing them down gently and holding them still. "Don't you realize what you are to me? You are the one who made me feel ... like a person, like I belonged here on this station, at a time when I'd become so used to being a freak that I hardly thought about it anymore. Don't you see?" His face was close to hers now, his voice filled with both fear and longing.

Kira nodded slowly. "I think so."

"I'm not asking for any promises, Nerys. I don't even dare to ask you to forgive me. But if I can do this, for you--then nothing else matters. I won't feel used, I promise you." She leaned close and kissed him again, feeling herself tremble with the intensity of it. He released her hands, and she drew him to her, nuzzling his face. "It's all right--I promise," she whispered, finding a rhythm now in touching him. He raised his own hands tentatively to her face, following her lead. This was uncharted territory for both of them and they moved slowly, hesitantly as a pair of ... virgins, Kira thought, and she gently drew Odo's hands back to the nape of her neck--to the place where the zipper of her jumpsuit was located. She pressed her forehead against his, "Help me out of this, would you?"

She was surprised, somehow, by the delicacy of his hands, as they pulled the zipper down smoothly and then slipped over her bare shoulders, between the fabric and her skin. She felt the thrill of his hesitation, the ache of her own body as she realized how badly she wanted him. "Go ahead," she told him--and in silence, the front of the jumpsuit came down, exposing her upper body in the starlight, the pale curves of her neck and shoulders, her small, firm breasts. She shivered in the slight chill of the room as this last "skin" was peeled away from her. Odo paused for only a breath before she felt his hands travel caressingly down her flanks to her hips. His fingers slid just under the elastic waist of her thin white panties, freeing her from the last confines of her uniform.

"Touch me," she said, "It's all right ..." and she felt his fingertips move along the inside of her thigh, then higher, delicately, reverently, tracing the outer edges of her vulva.

A tiny whimper of pleasure emerged from her as Odo continued the slow and gentle investigation of her body. He continued to tease lightly at the opening between her thighs, his fingers now solid, now partially liquid, traveling in precise, careful circles until she moaned softly. His mouth closed on hers and he liquefied, welling into her mouth and her waiting vagina at the same moment. Her whole body shivered in response, arching against him. Her hips moved, her whole body moved with sureness against him, her arms and legs wound around his supple, ever-changing form. There, on the wide bed in his quarters, on the very sheets that had once held the pooled, entwined forms of Odo and the female changeling, Kira Nerys opened herself, body and soul, to the unknown and the unknowable, and cried out her passion in the dark.

She was mindless and unthinking as she twisted among the soft sheets, against his soft body, against his soft words. Her body was a river. There were rivers flowing out of her, where Odo moved inside her and tasted her. She gasped. She felt the sound her name, a velvet rumble against her skin, whispered to her over and over.

"Odo," she gasped

There was no end. She felt him inside her and her hips moved with his, a chaos of passion amidst the sheets. He was warm and real, now solid and now fluid, around her, inside her. Her orgasms shattered the silence, one after another, as she moved beneath him, receiving his passion as a smooth, white beach receives the ocean. She saw, through the haze of her own pleasure, the look of intense concentration, almost pain, on those simple features of his, heard him cry out and felt his essence spill into her. Somehow it was a victory. He collapsed onto her chest, breathing hard, as any Bajoran male would after sexual release. She ran her hands over his shoulder blades, feeling the illusion of muscle and bone, listening to him breathe, feeling him tremble. Her fingers ran up through his soft, disheveled hair, pulling him to her in a protective gesture. "Shhh... It's all right."

"I'm sorry, Nerys ...."

"Shhh..." She wound her legs around his hips, forcing him to stay inside her, kissed his temple in reassurance, held him until his body became still. She was aware of his mouth against hers, of slow, tender kisses. She slipped into the warmth of sleep still clinging to him.

~~~

When Kira woke she was immediately conscious of an absence, a lack of warmth. She rolled onto her side and saw Odo standing at the viewport, staring into the distance, the supple curves of his lovely, naked body highlighted by the cool, silvery light of the stars. She blinked in surprise at the second of transcendent loveliness. For in that moment he was more than just Odo--her friend and her lover, he was all that was alien, all that was mysterious and ultimately unknowable. And yet, the tenderness and subtle, carefully-built curves of the humanoid frame were now familiar to her as places where her own hands had traveled. It came as a shock to her to realize that she knew him better than perhaps anyone did. He had stayed here, in this humanoid world, for her. She knew this. He had rejected his own people to be with her. Kira was moved. For the first time, the idea of being loved so much meant something to her other than fear.

She sat up, and Odo turned to look in her direction. The bedclothes fell away from her body as she rose from the bed, went to him and kissed him in the starlight, kissed him for a long time, letting the feel of his liquid self spill inside her mouth, and this time, feeling what it was to be him feeling her. There was a slight quiver of flesh shared between them, a sweet whisper of anxiety and adrenaline. She did not know if it was her body or his. At last she stopped, bowed her head and felt Odo's forehead come to rest against her own. "What were you looking for?" she asked, nodding briefly at the viewport. "I mean--out there." 

"I don't know."

"Come back to bed," she whispered.

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

He clutched her then, and she felt a shiver pass through his body. Had he been humanoid, she would have thought him about to cry. She closed her eyes and held him. "What is it, Odo? Tell me."

He continued to hold her, and his voice when he spoke was a tight whisper. "This still feels so unreal to me--like a dream. I'm sorry."

She held him in the silence, feeling the anxiety and pain pulsing through the substance of his being. His body hummed with it.

She kissed his temple. "I should be the one to apologize. I was so afraid of--I don't know. I'm still afraid. It just seems to matter less right now."

There was a silence. "I need to regenerate soon," he said, as though it embarrassed him.

"I thought that's what the bed was for," she said quietly, with the tiniest of smiles. He didn't protest as she took his hand once more and drew him with her to the wide mattress. They lay down together among the tangled sheets, Odo's head pillowed on Kira's chest, her hands tracing aimless designs on his shoulders and through his hair.

"I need you, you know," she said quietly. "I always have." She waited for a few breaths, choosing her words carefully. "Do you remember the first time you ever linked with another changeling--back when we first met them on that stray planet you discovered?"

"I remember," he whispered, his eyes closed.

"You joined hands, and then your hands melted together while I watched--and when she finally let go of you, you had this ... look on your face. Some secret joy that I could never understand--and then you just looked--blank, gone. Like the Odo I knew had never existed. I was afraid you were gone forever."

"I'm sorry."

"I've been afraid losing you ever since that day--to them. Even before we knew who your people were, I always had a sense that I would lose you to them. When she came here, she ... they ... they took you away from me."

She kissed the top of his head. "I don't ever want to lose you again." The words were spoken in barest whisper. Her own confession.

His hand tightened around hers in the darkness. "I'm not sure how to explain it to you, Nerys--but you are ... already part of who I am. And I don't want to lose you either." His hand turned to liquid, immersing hers, and Kira felt a wave of pleasure pulse suddenly from the tips of her fingers and throughout her body.

"It's all right," she whispered. "I'm here."

Odo, feeling his control over the humanoid form begin to slip the tiniest fraction, murmured, "I'll probably slide ... off ... the mattress," His voice was breathless and fatigued.

"Don't worry--I won't let you fall."

Odo felt his body begin to slowly mold itself to the curves of hers, the edges of his assumed form blurring and melting, merging with hers somehow, and then, like a softly expelled breath of air, he released his hold and let himself fall into her care, contracting and pooling gently into the hollow created by her curled-up body. He lay against her chest, felt her heartbeat, felt her arms gather him in. He rippled against her, enveloping her body as she enclosed his, letting the rhythms of her body lull him into the blessed stillness of changeling sleep.

Beside him, within him, Kira slept as well, safe and without dreams.

~the end~
    
~~~

Author's Notes: Two earlier versions of this story have appeared in the fanzines Face Forward IV (1998), and Love and Justice VI (2001). Since it was originally published before Odo and Kira became a canonical couple on DS9, I was surprised and pleased, on re-reading this work, to find that I had anticipated a bit of Kira's dialogue in "Chimera," which didn't air until February of 1999. This story also has some similarities to one of my later works, "Flying and Falling" (2001), even though the two stories were dreamed up completely independently of each other.