Still no answer. Lieutenant Jadzia Dax eyes O’Brien and shakes her head with a smile.
“You’ll have to try harder than that Chief. She’s deep in next month’s duty roster. Benjamin wanted them last week…” She winks, and with a stentorian voice worthy of a Klingon on the battlefield, bellows, “Kira Nerys!”
“Hmm?” Their subject raises her head. “Did someone say something?”
“Only three or four times…” O’Brien grimaces. “There’s an incoming sub-space transmission for you, from a ship en route from Bajor. Looks like she’s headed here.”
Kira nods, resigned. “Patch it through.” She looks down at the Comm screen expectantly.
“Kira?” The voice crackles through, image grainy and as frazzled as she feels.
“Dom? What in the name of the Prophets are you doing piloting a shuttlecraft? I thought you swore…”
“No time, Kira. Listen, I’ve got Berenice. You remember…”
“How could I forget?” Kira’s tone causes Dax, eavesdropping without shame, to raise her eyebrows.
“…Right, yes, of course. She’s in a bad way Nerys, I don’t know if I’ll…”
“How…But…What happened?” She sounds panicked now. “No, tell me later. Is she fit to be transported?”
“She’s not likely to make it to the station if she isn’t.”
“Right, stand by Dom.” Kira turns to O’Brien, barks out orders without pause. “Chief, prepare to transport one Bajoran female from that shuttle straight to the Infirmary when I give the word.” She taps her combadge. “Kira to Bashir?”
“Bashir here Major, what can…”
“Shut up Julian. Prepare for an incoming patient by transport. Bajoran. I’m not sure of her injuries, but they’re severe.”
“Right you are Major.”
“I’ll be there directly.”
“I assume you’ll….”
“As soon as I know myself. Kira out.” She turns to Jadzia. “Dax, will you meet Dom when he docks and bring him down to us?” Back to O’Brien, without waiting for an answer. “Chief, are they in range? Have you got a lock?”
“Right.” She turns back to the Comms panel. “Dom? We’re transporting her now.” She nods to O’Brien, waits to hear his confirmation. “Right, I have to ask. Are you sure it’s her?”
On the other side of the Comm panel, Dom nods with certainty. “I’d stake my life on it.”
“You’d better ask her yourself.” Dom shrugs his shoulders in a supposedly insouciant manner that tells Kira he’s more bothered than he lets on.
“Alright. You come on up, I… the Doctor… will need to know…” He nods, visibly relieved.
“He’s a good doctor, he’ll do everything.”
“He’d better. See you shortly. Copelan out.”
“Chief, what are the transporter details?”
“According to the biometrics, she has a fracture of her cervical spine, tachycardia, and a pseudo-aneurysm, as well as a variety of lesser injuries,” he replies.
“Right.” Damn it, Kira can feel the colour draining from her cheeks, even as she half runs to the lift and punches the call button. She turns back.
“Chief. She is Bajoran, isn’t she?”
O’Brien looks at her, confused. “Of course she is Major. What else would she be?”
Kira shakes her head, waves a hand in dismissal. “Never mind.”
“Who is she, Nerys?” Dax crosses Ops to stand beside her.
“Hmm?” Kira glances into her all too knowing eyes. “She’s…she’s someone from the resistance. A medic. One of the…” The lift arrives, and she almost collides with Sisko exiting it. “Commander! Sorry, I’m…” She pauses to tell the computer “Promenade.”
Dax steps in beside her just in time.
“…Not finishing the rosters?” Sisko remarks to the hiss and clank of the turbolift. He turns to O’Brien. “Report?”
“Major Kira received a call from a Bajoran shuttlecraft on its way here from Bajor, apparently with a wounded…”
“Yes, how did you guess?”
“True. She’s been transported straight to sickbay.”
“Sounds like I’d better follow. Is the shuttlecraft still on course, or has it returned to Bajor?”
“Still on course. She asked Dax to meet the pilot and bring him to the Infirmary.”
“Right.” Sisko steps back to the lift. “In which case, I’ll be in the Infirmary if anyone needs me.”
“Just checking you’re okay.”
“I’m okay.” If only Kira could believe it herself.
Dax remains sceptical in silence, is not surprised when Kira pauses the turbolift.
“Who is she, Nerys?” She repeats.
“She… We… In the Cell.” Kira stops, tries to collect her thoughts, slow her pulse rate. “We were…”
“Lovers?” Dax’s voice drips with empathy.
“Yes.” It takes Kira a few moments before she can look into Dax’s eyes, and she’s relieved at what she sees there. Understanding, compassion. “You don’t mind?”
“That you had lovers before me? I never doubted it for a moment. Why should I mind?”
“That I hadn’t told you.” Kira stares fixedly at the duranium alloy walls of the lift.
“Nerys, in six and a bit lives, I’ve learnt that the best sharing is that which comes naturally, not forced. I don’t expect you to tell me everything all in one large data report, and frankly, I’d be disappointed if you did.”
Kira breathes out steadily. “Thank you.”
“Now, go and find out if this woman is who she says she is, and hopefully you can tell me a bit more of the story later, hmm?” Dax lifts her index finger to stroke Kira’s jawline, before re-starting the lift.
When they reach the Promenade, Kira heads towards the Infirmary with barely a backwards glance. Dax takes her time heading towards the docking ring; she’d seen the speed that runabout was capable of, it wouldn’t have arrived yet.
“Nerys? With me.” She ignores him, still trying to question the semi-conscious patient. “Major Kira! Now.” That is enough for her to look up, and the break in her focus allows their new surgeon to pull her over to Sisko, while two Bajoran nurses move forwards to push the stretcher into the surgical bay.
Brought up short, Kira realises her arm is held in his grasp.
“Let go!” Fury entwined with fear.
“Only if you stand still and explain what is going on.” Sisko nods to Dr Campbell. “You’re stopping our new surgeon from treating your friend, you know.”
She stops struggling, and Serena shoots him a grateful look before turning to follow her patient.
“Now, would you kindly explain to me just why you’re down here obstructing our medical staff, rather than finishing off...” His voice is mild, but she knows it belies a steely determination.
“I’m sorry….Commander. I don’t know much myself yet. That’s why I was trying…”
“…to get details from a semi-conscious woman?”
She can feel her cheeks flush. “You don’t understand, Commander. Bernie was a very close friend in the resistance. She was the best medic we ever had, as unconventional as they come, but…”
“A character after your own heart. But you’ve had other former comrades brought in before and not been so, well, so ‘Kira’. What’s different about her?” Sisko looks as curious as he sounds.
Kira takes a deep breath. “Because, Commander, Wolfe Berenice was murdered by Gul Dukat, personally.”
Sisko pictures the antagonistic former Prelate of Bajor, and ex-commander of the station. It isn’t difficult to conceive of him committing murder. But Kira is continuing, and he turns his attention back to her.
“At least, that’s what he told the Militia when Cardassia withdrew from Bajor after the Occupation.” She pauses, then growls “Amongst other things. Though we’d all heard the rumours long before that.”
“And that woman is her?”
“That’s why I had to see her. Benjamin, I’d stake my life on it. And what I want to know is how. And why?”
“Because Dukat thought murdering her, and spreading the story that she was a Cardassian informant who had lost her value would demoralise your cell into surrendering, Nerys.” Accompanied by Dax, Dom arrives silently beside them. “But then he realised having the finest surgeon on Bajor in his grasp was worth more to him, or so he thought…”
“She refused?” Sisko cuts in.
“Of course she did.” Dom’s eyes never leave Kira’s face. “Cut from the same cloth as Kira. She escaped, but she knew she’d be…a…liability…to the cell. She was hiding out in Rakantha Province when peace was declared, living hand to mouth and helping the few remaining farmers there. And that’s where I found her when I refused a commission from the Militia. She…” He twitches, fiddles with fingers, “she swore me to secrecy Nerys. I…wanted to tell you, really, but…”
Kira nods, waves of disappointment flowing through her.
“And what happened to her?” Dax, having stood quiet, takes a hand.
Dom turns to her. “A Cardassian mine. The valley is still full of them. We’re not on the priority list for clearance… She received a call to an accident with a soil reclamator, must have thought that path was clear. Luckily I heard it go off.”
“And the shuttlecraft?” Kira looks curious.
“Belonged to Ar’hur; he lived on the farm over from me until he died.”
“Digby’s dead? I’m sorry to hear that. He was a good man, a good tactician.”
“Couldn’t cope with peace, I reckon, though Berenice gave it a fancy name.”
“Now we have established the basics, how about a Raktajino, or some Tarkalean Tea at the Replimat?” Sisko glances at his first officer and her friend. It is clear no work on the rosters is going to happen while Wolfe Berenice - or whoever the injured Bajoran might actually be - is in surgery. “I’m sure Dr Bashir or Dr Campbell will let us know as soon as they have completed surgery,” he adds, seeing the excuse already forming on Kira’s lips.
“Good idea, come on Copelan, I always enjoy hearing about Kira from her former comrades.” Dax smiles encouragingly.
“Kira is bored with me asking all these questions, I know, but working with so many Bajorans, I think it’s important to understand.” She smiles at him, working, Sisko thinks, a charm that is slightly different to her previous host, Curzon. Which isn’t to say he couldn’t sweet talk the birds out of their nests, or rather, the diplomatic officers of numerous races out of their temper tantrums, but Jadzia’s skill is warmer, more playful. However, Kira’s friend is looking increasingly uncomfortable at her attentions.
“You know Old man,” he looks meaningfully at her, “I think it’s time we got back to Ops. Kira can take care of things down here for now.”
“Hmm?” Kira looks up from her food.
“I was just saying that Dax and I should get back to work. I expect you to let me know as soon as you hear anything from Dr Bashir, Kira. And perhaps you will see about getting Mr Copelan quarters for the duration of his stay?”
“Oh, I don’t intend to stay, as soon as I’ve seen Bernie awake and recovering...” Copelan Dom glances at him. “I’ve got a farm desperately in need of my hands. And I can’t honestly say I like being in space…or here…any more than I used to.”
“You were on Terok Nor?” Dax gives the station its former name, from the days of the Cardassian occupation.
“Not for longer than I could help,” Dom replies flatly. “Gul Is’aac had me sent here, after…and I was put to work in Ore Processing…” He shivers. “Luckily, I…escaped. With Kira’s help.”
Dax’s eyebrows raise, but as she opens her mouth to ask another question, Sisko pulls at her arm. “Come on Lieutenant.” He nods to the two Bajorans, making eye contact with Dom. “Well, if you’re sure you need to leave so soon, have a safe journey back to Bajor.” Hand still on Dax’s arm, Sisko turns away from the table, down the steps of the Replimat, onto the Promenade. Kira watches their retreating figures for a while.
“Sorry about that, she is just genuinely curious about everyone and everything.”
“So I see.”
“Are you…” Kira takes a breath. “Are you really certain it’s her, Dom?” Her tone speaks the words she doesn’t say. They both know what the Cardassians were - and remain - capable of.
“Like I said, I’d stake my life on it.” He looks at her, fidgeting with his mug. “I… I don’t think she’s told me everything about what happened. Anymore than I’ve ever told anyone all of what happened with Gul Is’aac. Never a big one for chat was Berenice.”
Kira laughs drily. “No.” That had been one of their problems.
“But she knew all our codes, could tell me in detail about the time she and I raided the 7th Order’s munitions dump and ended up kidnapping Gul Jasad.” Dom grins at her. “You remember when we got back afterwards… No one but Bernie would have known some of that.”
“But then why…”
“You’ll have to ask her. I…” He pauses. “I rather think you’re the only person she’s prepared to tell, and that’s why she swore me to secrecy.”
Kira swallows, and nods, before searching around for another topic. “Will you really not stay?”
“Like I said, I can’t. I’ve got the farm to get back to, and…”
“Who is he?” Kira grins, suddenly. “I know you.”
Dom blushes. “You remember Lofty?”
“Dark hair, quite quiet?” Kira pauses. “Looked after his grandmother in Singha refugee camp, didn’t he?”
“That’s the one.” Dom smiles softly. “She survived, you know? Tough as old boots that one. She lives with us now.”
Kira looks at him, searching for any hint of a lie. After all he’d been through in the Occupation, the abuse and torture he received at the hands of Gul Is’aac, she wants nothing but peace for him. His round face looks remarkably open, more like the young boy she remembers from the camp than the fighter in her cell. “I’m happy for you. For you both.”
Dom grins in relief. “It’s been quite a reunion we have down there. Mor’ven still works the farm she and Ar’hur shared, though Bernie and I keep trying to persuade her to move on, do something more with her life.”
“People have to make choices in their own time, Dom, you know…” Her Comm badge chirps.
“Bashir to Kira?”
“Kira here.” The panic has returned to her voice, she can hear it, feel it.
“You can come back to the Infirmary now. Your friend is out of surgery.”
“And? How is she?”
“Everything going to plan, I expect a full recovery.”
She exhales a breath she didn’t realise she was holding, sees her relief mirrored in Dom’s face. “We’ll be there in a moment. Kira out.”
Dom is already standing, and together they make their way back to the Infirmary. Julian is at his desk, the new Dr Campbell looking over his shoulder as he shows her the Cardassian system, and how it has been altered to meet Starfleet standards.
“Can we see her?”
“Ah, Major.” Bashir glances up. “I don’t believe I introduced you to Dr Campbell earlier…”
“We’ve met.” Kira shoots a look at the dark haired medic. She must be in her mid to late forties, attractive with sparkling eyes that are currently eyeing Kira with a hint of wariness. “I…apologise for my behaviour…before. I was, am…”
“I quite understand.” Her voice warm, her demeanour genuine, Kira is startled as Serena moves forwards. “How about we start again, Major?” She extends a hand. “Serena Campbell, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and new clinical lead on Beta shift.”
“Major Kira Nerys, First Officer, and Liaison for the Bajoran Militia.” Kira notes the three pips on Serena’s collar with interest. Their new surgeon is higher ranking than Bashir, despite her lower post. There’s a story there, she thinks.
“Ah, Dr Campbell was just shadowing me on today’s shift, to get to know the routine here, and it’s a good thing she was, given the state your friend came to us in.” Julian glances at Copelan Dom. “What on earth happened? It appears she was blown up.”
“She was.” Kira and Dom answer in unison, with Kira continuing the explanation. He nods in understanding.
“Well, we operated on the major injuries in conjunction. Dr Campbell took the pseudo-aneurism, and I took the neck fracture. We had a few hairy moments, but she’s come through well. I also took the liberty of resetting a series of pelvic fractures which must have been causing her residual pain from the way they’d healed. Many other Doctors might have just left them, but I see no reason for anyone to suffer unnecessarily.” He pauses, and Kira wonders if he’s searching for praise. Since none is forthcoming, he continues. “They must have been four, maybe five years old. I don’t suppose you know the cause of them?” He turns to Dom, who shakes his head.
“If you hadn’t said, I wouldn’t have known. She’s never referred to any pain.”
Bashir nods, taps something into his Padd, then looks at them both. “We can wake her shortly, if you wish?”
Kira starts to nod, then pauses. “I should notify the Commander, he wanted kept in the loop.” She taps her Comm badge. “Kira to Sisko?”
“Commander, Dr Bashir and Dr Campbell have finished operating on Wolfe. They say she’s ready to be woken up.”
“I’ll be with you directly. Sisko out.”
Kira looks back to the medical staff, then over to the monitoring bed across the infirmary, and the prone figure upon it. A wisp of blonde hair can be seen, even from here. As she closes her eyes, the memory of the last time she saw that hair, caressed it in her fingers, floods through her, and Kira has to shake herself. A lot of time, a lot of water under that bridge. Suddenly she wishes Jadzia was coming with Sisko, but knows that this is something she needs to deal with on her own.
Searching for a distraction, Kira turns back to her companions. “So, ah, Dr Campbell… I gather you and Sisko already knew each other?”
The other woman smiles at her, her warmth infectious. “We trained at the Academy in San Francisco, in the dim and distant past. And served together briefly, on the USS Livingstone, about, ohh, it must be thirteen years ago.”
“Thirteen and a half, actually.” Sisko arrives behind them. “And Serena patched me up after more than a few brawls, not to mention an unwelcome altercation with an Argosian on Risa.”
“He was left with some pretty bruises, but no real damage. Unlike the Argosians - I think they thought twice before insulting random Starfleet Lieutenants…”
“…and their wives…” Sisko cuts in.
“…on shore leave after that!” Serena shares a conspiratorial wink with Kira. “Anyway, his war wounds made him quite the attraction to the ladies, so it wasn’t all bad.”
“Jennifer might have disagreed with you there old friend.” Benjamin grins at Serena.
Kira nods, a sharp jerk of the head, anxious to get back to the issue at hand. She leads the way across to the monitoring bed. “So, Doctor, is there anything else we need to know?”
“Well there was one curious thing.” Julian holds up his Padd. “In the full biometric scan, we noticed she’s missing one of her molars…” He looks significantly at her.
Kira nods. “I know about that. It’s not relevant.”
Julian and Sisko wear matching frowns as they consider her reaction.
“You do know that the Carda…”
“It’s not relevant.” Kira repeats firmly, in a tone that she hopes brooks no argument. Sisko shakes his head at Julian.
“Well, in which case, there is nothing else of note. What we have here is a Bajoran female, typical of her age. She has a variety of healed injuries, many horrific…”
“As do we all.” Try as she might, Kira’s tone is bitter.
“…but nothing that should impede her recovery particularly now that I’ve re-set the pelvis fractures. In fact, her genetic structure suggests she is quite a fast healer.”
“Always was, lucky thing.” Dom remarks, a tinge of jealousy in his voice.
“Time to wake her up then?” Sisko quirks an eyebrow, and Kira nods at Bashir. He holds a hypospray to her neck. There is a moment where nothing happens, other than the soft breathing of each of them, and then Wolfe Berenice stirs, a frown creasing her forehead before she opens her eyes. She gazes up at the curious faces around her. Copelan Dom, concern and relief flooding his boyish face; two human men, an attractive human brunette, a smile playing about her lips, and…
“Nerys?” She tries to stretch fingers up, and Kira stills her hand, stroking her wrist with the tip of her index finger.
“Yes, it’s me. You’re on Deep Space Nine, Dom brought you here.”
Wolfe looks at Dom out of deep brown eyes, half grateful, half recriminating. He colours.
“I’m sorry Berenice. It was the only way I could think of to save you. The Prophets know it’s the least I could do.”
She begins to smile. “So which of you operated on me?”
“Dr Bashir and Dr Campbell, our most senior medics.” Kira indicates them in turn. “And this is Commander Sisko.”
“The Emissary?” Only now does Wolfe pay him closer attention, and Sisko casts his eyes down, shifting uncomfortably.
“Yes.” Kira answers for him.
“That was quite some blast you took.” Bashir cuts in. “You had some nasty injuries…”
“A spinal fracture…and a pseudo-aneurism?” She queries, eyes thoughtful. “And…” A ripple in the blanket suggests she is flexing her hips. “You’ve reset my pelvis.”
“How do you know?” Dr Campbell asks, eyebrow raised.
“I’m a trauma medic, Doctor. I’d be a pretty poor example if I couldn’t recognise my own condition.” She smiles up, holding the other woman’s gaze.
“Well.” Sisko coughs. “Welcome to DS9 Dr Wolfe. I’m sure you will need some time to recuperate, and I know Major Kira has some questions for you, particularly regarding…Gul Dukat.” Her eyes jump to him at that, and it is as if a shutter comes down behind them. Sisko seems to be aware of this as he continues, “but for now, it’s probably best that you rest.”
Wolfe gives the slightest nod, the dressing on her neck creasing. “Thank you, Emissary.”
Discomfited, Sisko leaves.
“I should go too, Berenice. I have to get back to the farm, I just wanted to make sure you were ok so I could let the others know.”
“Give them my best, Dom.” The depth of her smile is genuine this time. “And…thank you.”
He laughs, a short chuckle. “I could hardly do anything else. Not after all the scrapes you’ve pulled me out of.”
She barks a laugh. “Go on. Keep an eye on Mor’ven for me, and if you could call in on Chernik Artem… See that he has everything he needs.”
“Of course.” Dom pauses for a moment, then turns away.
Kira stares after him for a moment, then apologises to Berenice. “I’ll be right back.” She runs after Dom, catches him at the door to the Promenade. “Leaving without saying goodbye?”
“You seemed pretty taken up with Berenice.”
“Yes, well…about that.” Kira looks him in the eye. “Thank you. For bringing her here. I mean it.”
“Give my best to Lofty, and Morven. And don’t be such a stranger, even if it does take a near fatal accident to get you here.”
“Duly noted.” Dom laughs. “Look after her, Nerys.”
“I will.” She watches him make his way towards the turbolift, only returning to the monitoring bed after she sees it rise out of sight. Julian and Serena have returned to the medical officer’s desk, where it appears he is setting her up to finish off the shift on her own.
“Don’t tire her out, Major,” he calls over.
“I won’t.” She doesn’t intend to, that is - but they have a lot of catching up to do. Five years of it, in fact. Leaning her hands on the bed, she looks down at Bernie’s face, notes the lines and scars that are new since the last time they said goodbye, the tan that comes only from regular outdoors work. Her eyes are just the same: a soulful brown, full of warmth one moment, melancholy the next. Her arms, lying over the thin blanket, bear the same tell tale signs of time and endurance. Kira drinks it all in, like she could never see enough. Finally, she whispers, “I thought you were dead.”
Bernie smiles, soft, sad. “I’m sorry.”
“What happened, Bernie? Why…” Kira pauses, swallows. “Why didn’t you…” She stares at the woman in front of her, the woman who had shared her bed - and her life, such as it was. “…tell me?”
Wolfe stays silent for so long that Kira begins to wonder if something is wrong, or if she is just too tired. Perhaps she’s not ready for this conversation. Her mind flits back to the last time they spoke.
The Cell had met to discuss the attack on Gul Dunn’s compound. If successful, the bomb would take out a camp of fifty Cardassian soldiers housed there, plus the despised Gul and those present in his residence. Bernie, having extensive previous knowledge of the area, and the individuals, insisted she should be the one to set the bomb. Some of the Cell members hadn’t approved; she was their only medic, but Bernie had laughed her honking laugh, and counteracted that she was also their most experienced operative. Shakaar had sided with Bernie, and there it was. His Cell, his rules.
Kira caught up with Bernie in the outmost chamber of the network of caves they’d been hiding out in all winter.
“I don’t want you to go.”
“I have to.” Bernie could be as stubborn - and as feisty - as she was herself.
“No you don’t, any one of us could do it. Hell Bern, I could do it.”
“And likely get killed in the process. No Nerys, you’re too important to the resistance…to me…No one knows the layout like I do. No one knows Dunn like I do. It has to be me.” She had said it with such finality, such determination, that Kira had stared at her.
“There’s some other reason, isn’t there?”
“What? No!” Bernie had laughed it off, but the niggling voice of doubt remained in Kira’s mind. She stood facing her lover, arms folded, unsmiling. Bernie had taken her in her hands, walked her backwards till she leant against cool wet rock, and smoothed a hand across her cheek. “The only reason I want to do this is to make sure I have a you to come home to.” And then she’d kissed her. At first, Kira had been unwilling, upset that her protestations were in vain, but then, at the touch of Bernie’s tongue, she’d given in, moaned into the depth of the kiss, pressed herself into those hips, those breasts, held her lover as close as she could.
Finally, at the sound of one of the others approaching with the remainder of the supplies Bernie would need, they stopped. As she saw the older woman off at the mouth of the cave, she had whispered “come back to me,” and Bernie had smiled, touched her left hand to her her temple in salute, and turned away. Kira had watched her progress down the side of the mountain in the moonlight, until all she could see were shadows. She had hugged herself. This didn’t feel right.
The patient monitoring panel bleeps, warning her that Wolfe’s heart rate is rising, her breathing becoming shallow. She stands up. Time to put a stop to this reunion, no matter how important.
“Major, I’m going to have to ask you to let Dr Wolfe get some rest now.” There is no request in her tone. Serena turns to her patient. “I’m going to increase your oxygen for now, and lower the lights.” A quick glance tells her that Berenice is agitated, the pulse point at her temple beating, her pupils dilated. “You need to relax to help your body to heal, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.”
“No.” She agrees, quietly, before turning her eyes back to Kira. “I’ll…see you again?”
“Try and stop me.”
Serena isn’t sure whether Kira’s words are meant for Berenice, or for her. Nonetheless, she stays while Kira squeezes the patient’s hand, gives her one last searching glance, and then leaves.
“Are you warm enough?” Serena queries, as she dims the lighting in the bay.
“Quite warm, thank you.”
“Anything you need, just let me know. Or the Doctor who comes on after me. I think her name is Fleur.”
Berenice smiles, or at least, her lips hitch up at one side. “Thank you, Dr Campbell.”
As Serena walks back to her desk, she can feel herself being watched, but as soon as she sits down and glances over, the patient closes her eyes. Soon, feigned sleep becomes the true and even breathing of the real thing. Satisfied, Serena turns back to familiarising herself with the new system.
She doesn’t get far before the cheery noise emanating from Quark’s lures her in. She glances behind the bar, tries to work out what the establishment has in terms of wine. She’d prefer a nice Shiraz, but as long as it’s red and drinkable…
“What can I get a lovely looking female such as yourself? A nice synthale? Or perhaps a holosuite programme set in the steam pools of Risa?” an ingratiating voice asks.
Raising an eyebrow, Serena regards the Ferengi barman, his large earlobes, bulbous nose and sneering fanged grin anything but alluring. “Do you have any Shiraz?”
“She-raz? What’s that? Some kind of Vulcan snack? I can think of far tastier tidbits for you to eat here…”
Serena resists the urge to roll her eyes, and removes the hand that has strayed across the bar onto her wrist with a clamp-like grip. She doesn’t let go.
“It’s an earth wine. You can replicate it, until you start stocking the real thing.”
“Oh can I? And what makes you think I’ll start stocking it?”
“Because if you don’t…” Serena presses down on his pulse point, “you’ll never pour a pint of synthale again. But if you do…” She drops his hand to reach up her fingers and stroke the creature’s left lobe, and lowers her voice to a purr. “I’ll make it worth your while.” The Ferengi moans, and whimpers when she lets her hand fall.
“Shiraz, you say? One glass, coming right up.”
“Serena!” She spins round and spots Sisko at a table with a number of other officers. She waves a hand in acknowledgment, before turning back to retrieve and pay for her drink. By the time she arrives at the table, an extra chair has appeared.
“Come and join us.” Sisko invites, unnecessarily. He indicates the other men around the table by name. “These are Ensign Adrian Fletcher, commonly known as Fletch, and Lieutenant Raf Di Lucca, part of Chief O’Brien’s team. I’m sure you know Miles?” The men all nod cheerily.
“Of course.” Serena grins at the former transporter officer come Chief of Operations. “Though he’s gone up in the world since we last met.”
O’Brien smiles warmly at her. “Keiko will be glad to know you’re on the station. I think she’s missed her friends and connections from the Enterprise.”
“Is she keeping well?”
“She’s founded the station’s only school, and developed it’s curriculum. It certainly seems to be keeping her busy.”
“Oh, I must have a word with her about Jason…”
“If it isn’t Serena Campbell! The one that got away.” A warm voice she doesn’t recognise speaks from behind her, and Serena turns to see they’ve been joined by a dark haired Trill science officer.
“I’m sorry, who…?”
Sisko grins, a wicked gleam in his eye. “Serena Campbell, meet an old friend of yours. Lieutenant Dax… Jadzia Dax now, but you will remember her as…”
“…Curzon Dax.” Serena finishes off his introduction. “Well I never.” She casts an appreciative eye up and down the trill symbiont’s new, highly attractive, host. “Who did you have to bribe for this body, Dax?”
Jadzia feigns offence. “I’m shocked you could even suggest such a thing!”
Serena laughs. “Same old Dax. Good to see you too. I might not run so fast this time…”
Fletch chuckles at this. “Maybe not from Lieutenant Dax, but Major Kira will chase you off quickly enough.”
“Aye,” Raf chips in, “and you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with her, believe me.”
“Would this be the…?” Serena glances at Sisko.
“The very same. My First Officer, and Dax’s…er…”
“Lady friend.” Jadzia supplies demurely, pulling up a chair and sitting on it backwards.
“Is that what they call it these days?” Serena snorts a laugh as Dax swats her arm.
“So who’s Jason? Edward’s replacement?”
“Ha! Not exactly.” Serena glances at Sisko. “He’s my sister’s young son. Marjorie was killed at Wolf 359 three years ago. She and Jason were on the Saratoga.”
“Jake and Jason were great friends.” Sisko nods. “As were Jennifer and Marjorie.”
“I’m sorry to hear that - about Marjorie.” The warmth in Dax’s voice is unmistakable.
“It wasn’t easy. We’d only just got to know each other, then suddenly I had lost a sister and gained a second child.”
“How is Elinor?” O’Brien queries. “She hasn’t come with you?”
“My daughter,” Serena explains to Fletch and Raf. “She’s her usual delightful self. Working as a journalist now, in San Francisco.”
“As far away from mum as possible?” Dax laughs.
“Which suits her just fine, until she wants something.” Serena has long been resigned to her child’s self-centred approach to life.
“See what you have to look forward to Chief?” Sisko elbows O’Brien. “You think Molly’s hard work at three, just wait till she’s a teenager.”
Fletch groans at this. “At least you’ve only got one. We’ve got four.” He looks fondly at Raf. “On which note…”
“…We should be heading, yes.” Raf grins across at Serena. “Lovely meeting you. Hope we don’t need your services any time soon, though.”
She laughs. “I promise I’m gentle when patching up engineering injuries. The Chief can vouch for me.”
“That I can, and will.” O’Brien downs his pint. “Though I had best be getting back to Keiko and Molly, too.”
“Have a good evening.” Sisko nods at them all.
“So.” Dax begins, when the others have left. “What brings you to DS9 Serena?”
“Asides from the delight of being deputy to the one and only Julian Bashir?” Serena queries drily. “To tell the truth, it’s Jason.” She glances at Sisko and smiles. “He has really struggled since his mum died, and I wanted to give him some stability back. Moving him nearer to his one close friend seemed a good idea. I’m hopeful for a more static routine here. Jason doesn’t like change, and there was a fair bit of that on the Enterprise, what with one thing and another. I thought maybe, here, I could give him more of what he needs. Luckily, Benjamin understands the situation.”
Dax nods, thoughtful. “It can be chaotic enough here.” There is a hint of warning in her voice.
“I know, but if he has the stability of friendship, he might be better placed to deal with occasional hiccups in the day to day routine of things. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.” She glances at her watch. “Ah. I should be heading back. I promised him I’d be home in good time tonight. He’s still getting used to the twenty-six hour day on the station. I’ve promised him we’ll go and visit Bajor as soon as I have a bit of leave, so that he can see how a 26 hour day works on the planet. He’s very curious about that.” She finishes the remainder of her wine, and stands to leave. “Thank you for the company, both.”
“See you again soon, I hope.” Dax grins.
“I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t.” Serena flickers a wink at her for old time’s sake. Jadzia is certainly a much more promising aspect than Curzon ever was. “Good night Benjamin.” She nods to her old friend, and turns to leave.