1. The Bed by Queenix
2. Jadzia by Queenix
3. Miles and Julian by Queenix
4. Garak by Queenix
5. Captain Sisko by Queenix
6. Kira by Queenix
As soon as Odo stepped into his quarters, he knew they had been altered. Nothing was taken, nothing was moved, but he knew just the same that something was different. He knew it in the way he knew immediately when he was being lied to, in the way he could always spot a thief in a crowd, and in how he always managed to predict the winning team in the annual springball playoffs. He knew it by instinct, by that third-eye sense which had preserved him through all these years as an investigator, and Odo always made it a point to listen to his instincts. Rarely had they ever steered him wrong.
Moderating his step to wary stealth, Odo moved further into his quarters, eyes searching for the slightest sign of invasion. He swung his head from side to side, looked ceiling to floor, taking in every detail and comparing it to his perfect recall of how he had left his quarters, over a week ago now. So far, there was nothing out of place. The only foot tread in the carpet was his own. There was a light layer of dust on the large central sculpture, but no fingerprints or telling swipes of a cloth disturbed it. The pictures were straight, his PADDs and computer console just as he'd left them. What,then, was bothering him?
The constable moved passed the living area to check the bedroom. There, he finally found the problem. Someone had definitely been altering things. Before, the space had been open, empty, no furniture or personal items or any of the other trappings that cluttered a humanoid’s quarters. After all, Odo had been a Changeling, and what did a Changeling need with such things? Now, however, Odo’s deliberately blank space had been filled.
Someone had brought in a bed, by transporter most likely, since none of the rest of the room had been disturbed. The bed was well-sized and well appointed, not a station standard-issue piece of furniture. The headboard was hand-carved Bajoran oak, Odo guessed, heavy and masculine, but modern, not an inexpensive piece, and whoever had left this bed had seen fit to outfit it with plush-looking blankets and pillows. The whole effect was quite luxuriant and inviting, actually, if he was forced to admit it.
Odo let go of some of his wary tension and leaned heavily against the door frame, considering this unfortunately necessary and anonymously donated part of his new life. He wondered who’d had the foresight to assume he’d need it. Perhaps Sisko or Dax had called ahead, had arranged this, thinking to do him a favor. It was no favor, though. That bed, that place where he would now sleep instead of regenerating, instead of returning to a natural Changeling state, was a reminder of all he had lost, all that had been stolen from him. It was entirely too humanoid a thing, that soft, comfortable bed.
Odo’s bunk back on the Defiant had been much more acceptable. Its single layer of padding was punishing, hard, and not at all relaxing. The bunk was too narrow for him to stretch out in, too short to accommodate his long, lanky frame. A soldier’s bunk Odo could deal with because not in a thousand years would he ever get used to it. This attractive and generously-sized bed, however, he thought, as he moved to it, as he pressed his hand into the yielding but firm mattress, was something he could certainly get used to. A thing he could learn all too easily to accept.
He would accept it, Odo thought, because he had to. At this point he was so tired, so desperate for some real rest, he didn't really care where he slept, just so long as he did. On that narrow bunk aboard the Defiant, as they made their way back to the station from his trial with the Founders, Odo had pulled a pillow over his head night after sleepless night, trying to block his ears to the low-pitched dirge of the ship’s engines, the electronic hums and tweets of the running ship, the voices of the crew memebers that sometimes seeped through the walls, disturbing noises that ran through his locked-in, solid form and added a layer of vibration he'd never felt before, a thick burr in his head that had left him unable to rest.
Yet in his waking hours he’d strained to hear the layers of sound he was missing, especially in higher pitched tones, like the pleasant hum of the warp drive shifting over factor four, or that dulcet timbre in the last note of the comm chirp. Or the lovely ring in Dax's laugh. To his Changeling senses, the sound of Dax’s laugh had been like the music of a stream rolling softly over small stones, and it was always Odo’s favorite thing about her. Now his inadequate human ears had made Jadzia’s laugh flat, hollow, half of the joy stripped from it. At least for him.
Thinking about Dax's laugh only made Odo more exhausted, and despite his doubts about its origins and its presence in his life, Odo felt himself pulled by the siren's call of his new bed. He moved further into the bedroom, removing his uniform tunic as he went. He hung it carefully over the back of a chair, yet another addition from his anonymous benefactor, but he was too tired to care about that anymore. He removed his undershirt, too, and scratched his bared chest, sighing with relief and ignoring the chill as warm skin met cold air. Goosebumps were better than being itchy, though not by much. Odo had never expected clothes to be so uncomfortable since humanoids spent so much time parading around in them. Dr. Bashir had explained that his new skin and tender nerves had not yet conditioned to the chafe of fabric, but they would. Eventually.
Odo eased himself down on the edge of the bed, thinking about the day’s events. He had headed straight from the Defiant to Garak’s shop to pick up his uniform, and from there, straight to work. Sisko had tried to talk him out of it, suggesting leave, but having unfilled time on his hands was the last thing Odo wanted. He needed to get right back to work, where he belonged, where he still knew himself. But as fate would have it, that was taken from him, too.
Odo’s revelation about the Klingon chancellor Gowron had the senior staff in an uproar. Immediately after Gowron’s transmission, Sisko had called them together to discuss what it all meant, what their plan of action would be against the imminent threat of war with Kronos. After the briefing, the captain had been obligated to inform Starfleet about Odo's suspected Changeling infiltrator. Consequently, Odo had spent his first day back on the job locked in a room and stuck on a comm, answering yet again to Starfleet and Bajoran intelligence agencies for the actions of his people. He was interrogated mercilessly the entire day, as if the two powers blamed the whole thing on him, as if he was an agent of the Founders and was somehow privy to what their plans were. How many times did he have to explain to the powers that be that despite his heritage, the Founders didn't tell him any more than they told the rest of the universe?
When Odo had emerged from that room, drained, disheartened, and so frustrated he was nearly in tears, Sisko took one look at him and changed his mind. He insisted Odo take no less than three days’ leave, both for Odo’s safety, and for his sanity. Odo was still simmering about it, but he couldn't fault the captain’s logic, and understood the why of it. In addition to being restless, sleepless and constantly uncomfortable, Odo had found himself become, of all things, emotional, a trait hardly fitting for a chief of security in a busy space port. Especially one so close to Klingon space.
As a Changeling, Odo’s emotions were a current that ran through his form like electricity, like plasma, and were balanced throughout his matrix, there for him to tap when his intellect found the need. In this new form of his, emotions showed up in fits and starts, in bursts and pops, springing on him unawares and taking him by surprise, creating all sorts of chemical meltdowns and wreaking havoc with his body. Now whenever he got upset, he flushed and stammered. He shivered and cried. He lost track of his thoughts and his mind wouldn't stay focused on the smallest of things, and though each day was getting easier, these messy humanoid emotions were proving damnably hard to master. 'To become a thing is to know a thing,' the Founder had once told him, and Odo had spent many, many hours masquerading as a humanoid, thinking he’d pretty much gotten it down. Only now did he see how wrong he had been. Thanks to the Founders, Odo was certainly getting a full lesson in becoming a thing.
Pushing off thoughts of the Founders and his trial, Odo looked again on the soft, welcoming bed, this symbol of his forced humanity, his humiliation, and he huffed a bitter laugh. After this harrowing first day back aboard the station, he was so exhausted, he was actually glad to see the dratted bed, no matter how it had come to be in his quarters, and Odo finally gave in to its beckoning call.
He bent down and took off his uniform boots, flexing his cramped-in toes, dropping the boots unceremoniously on the floor. He flopped back on the bed. The almost-weightless relief soothed his aches and pains as the mattress conformed to his shape, cradling his body in its soft, but not too soft, support. Whoever had picked this bed out, they had done an excellent job. The tension in his muscles began to slowly dissolve, and Odo sighed out, staring at the ceiling. In the silence of his quarters, as the rest of the day faded away and his thoughts began to settle, Odo heard-felt yet another disturbing sound. It was a distinct, unwelcome rhythm that was coming from inside very own his chest.
Odo moved his hand over the sound, over its source. Just to the left of center and hiding behind his ribs, there it was. The thing he’d done his best for the last few days to ignore. The thing whose rhythm as a Changeling he could only mimic before. That pulsing, pounding core that sent real, red blood coursing through his veins. The tell-tale organ that said he was now truly, and irrevocably, a solid.
The human heart, Odo thought as he felt its steady beat, was the one thing he'd never really understood, not in all these years. No matter how many observations he'd made, no matter how many careful studies he'd embarked upon, the heart had always remained a mystery, and now that Odo had one of his own, he found he was afraid. It was his secret and his greatest fear that before he’d even had a chance to learn the way of it, his heart was already broken.
Oh, for Prophet’s sake, Odo, stop being such a ninny. Just get some rest. You’ll feel better in the morning.
Odo finally let human nature claim him fully. He curled onto his side, rolled himself in his blankets and stuffed a pillow under his head. The former Changeling fell quickly into a deep and dreamless rest, and slept his first full night since his conviction in a Changeling court.
On the first day of Odo’s leave, Dax came. She'd arrived near mid-day, morning fresh and smiling. She had second duty shift, she'd explained, but was still on first shift hours and had been up early. She’d had an errand, so had stopped by to check on him. Odo knew contrivance when he heard it, and tried to get rid of her, as politely and as swiftly as he could. Naturally, Dax didn't listen. Not that Odo had expected her to. Dax simply pushed her way into his quarters, looking around as if she had a right to, and Odo found himself stuck with his very first visitor.
“No furniture yet?” she asked.
Odo folded his arms over his chest, not answering. Actually, he felt a little foolish, now that she pointed it out. He hadn't even thought about getting more furniture.
“It doesn't matter,” Dax smiled with a dismissive wave of her hand.
It was then Odo noticed she was carrying two PADDs, and he cursed himself for not catching it sooner. There was a time where he missed nothing about his surroundings, or the people in them. Were his powers of observation going to go with the rest of his abilities?
Dax made herself comfortable on his floor, setting the PADDS next to her, and folded her dancer's legs into the lotus position of Trill mediation. That pose concerned Odo. How long was Dax planning on staying? She patted a spot on the floor across from her. “Come sit with me, Odo.”
Odo hesitated. He had no wish to encourage her. Dax needed to go, but after all she’d done to help him on the Defiant, he found he couldn't summon his usual gruff rudeness to dismiss her, and indecision froze his feet, and his tongue.
His confusion must have shown, because Dax softened her gaze, and widened her smile. It made her perfect, symmetrical features even more perfect, and something flipped over in Odo's chest. He found he did want to sit with Dax after all, wanted to be closer to her. Maybe take her hand, or touch her cheek. Maybe trace the line of spots down her-
Odo shook his head, clearing it. Where had that come from? He'd never thought about Dax like that before. Damn this humanoid body, anyway.
“C’mon, Odo,” she said, reaching a hand to him. “This won't take long, I promise.”
Resolved, Odo eased himself down on the floor across from Dax, and waited patiently for her to have her say.
“Jadzia’s mother was a worrier,” Dax began. “She worried about everything, constantly. Everything that came out of her mouth was a litany of worry and woe, about me, my father, about my sister, about whether it would rain, and did she secure the house when she went to bed, and did we have enough milk on the table in case the food replicator somehow mysteriously went down while we were eating. Every moment of her life was spent worrying whether disaster was just around the corner. She rarely left the house, and when she did, it was nothing but torture for her. Though I never saw the outside world as the threat my mother did, I stayed home with her as much as I could. I wanted to make sure there was one less worry on her mind.
“My father, though, he was never home. Always at the lab, always making some excuse about working late. All those years, I believed him. I believed my father was working on big, important things, and it was my job to stay home with my mother and sister and make sure they were taken care of while he did this important work. Later, as I got older, I realized he was avoiding my mother, avoiding confronting her about the anxiety problem she didn't believe she had, and therefore wouldn't seek treatment for. Father didn't know how to cope, so he left his older daughter to do it for him.
“Naturally, all of this left me without friends. I grew up shy. Antisocial. Not quite sure what to make of the rest of the world. The only way I ever escaped was through books. I spent almost every moment I wasn't in school with my nose in a reader, taking myself to far-off lands, to worlds far different from my own, full of adventure and filled with excitement. My tastes in reading grew as I did, but of all the things I read, fairy tales were my favorite. They still are. There were beautiful princesses and wicked witches, handsome heroes and great deeds. There was romance and magic and strange creatures, and all sorts of things that kept me distracted. Always, I could escape reality in those stories and find a world of endless possibilities waiting for me. I'm certain that if it hadn't been for fairy tales, Jadzia Idris would have ended up in a lab, cataloging specimens somewhere, eye trained on a microscope slide all day, avoiding life just like her parents. I would never have had the sense of wonder, of curiosity it took to apply to the Initiate program. Fairy tales are why I decided to become joined.”
“Jadzia, why are you telling me all of this?” Odo asked.
“Because I remember some of what it was to be you, Odo. The Changeling you. After the Zhan’tara, the memories Curzon brought back to me made me think of those fairy tales from my childhood. Being a Changeling is magical, Odo, and beautiful. I think more than anyone on the station, I understand just how much the Founders have taken from you. I am so sorry, Odo, for what they’ve done. Truly.”
Odo didn’t reply, his eyes filling with tears. Prophets, how many times a day did humanoids do this? He would not cry, not this time, and certainly not in front of Dax. He turned away from her, pressing his fingers over his closed eyes, trying to stop the moisture that threatened to seep from under the lids, hiding his expression from his guest.
Dax looked away for a moment, waiting for Odo to collect himself. After a suitable pause, she picked up the PADDs she’d brought. “I brought you something that might help. On this PADD,” she said, holding one up, “is a collection of Trill fairy tales, all of my favorites, of course. I know Bajorans don't really have fairy tales, they have allegories, which is not quite the same thing, so the other PADD is Earth fairy tales, which I like almost as much as the Trill ones...By the way Odo, I've been meaning to ask. Why did the Founders make you Human? Why not Bajoran? Did they tell you?”
They had, of course. Odo knew precisely why, but it wasn't something he was ready to talk about. He looked down at his folded hands, and kept his silence.
“Well, I guess it doesn't matter,” Dax said, her smile sympathetic. She reached over and squeezed his arm. “No matter what form you're in, you're still you, and that’s what matters most.”
Dax rose gracefully from her place on the floor, and Odo followed, and they both made their way to his door. At the threshold, Dax turned back to him, and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Odo, don't let them take it from you. Don't let them take your sense of wonder, of adventure. There’s still magic in being what you are, beauty in simply being alive. Don't lock yourself away in here, away from everything else, and miss it.”
Odo managed a small smile. “I’ll do my best,” he said. “And thank you. For coming by.”
Dax gave Odo one of her famous heart-lit smiles. “You’re welcome,” she said, and turned to go. She swung quickly back around to add one last thing. “By the way,” she said, “there's a story in the Earth volume about a talking fish-girl. She gives up her life under the sea so she can stay with the one she loves. Let me know when you've read it. I found it...appropriate to your situation.”
“I will.” Odo replied, and watched her head off down the corridor.
After Jadzia was out of sight, Odo went back into his quarters, and picked up the PADDs. He had nothing better to do, so he curled himself into a corner of his empty living space, and began to read, though he was skeptical about reading children's stories. They were, after all, for children, but it was the least he could do, after all Dax had told him. Despite his doubts, Odo did loose himself, much like a young Jadzia, in worlds of endless possibilities and wonders beyond count, and forgot, for a time, to mourn his own fate.
When he did lift his head and emerge from fairy tale worlds, Odo ordered the rest of his furniture.
On the second day of Odo’s leave, Miles and Julian came. They arrived in the evening, after their duty shifts and together, no surprise there. Odo was certain the chief spent more social time with Dr. Bashir than he ever did with his wife, and if he didn't know better already, he’d swear they were the ones who were married. Odo tried, once again, to get rid of these unwanted guests, but they weren't budging. When in all of his time on DS9 had Odo ever made it seem as if he welcomed such intrusions? Was there something about his transformation to a Human that suggested he’d suddenly pick up their habits? Yet, Odo had to remond himself, he had spent several of his off hours with Miles, kayaking the great rivers of the Federation, and the chief had become sort of a friend, which would preclude this sort of visit, and Dr. Bashir had been more than patient in helping Odo learn some basics of taking care of his new body, professionally and compassionately helping him wade through the more embarrassing aspects of being made of flesh and blood. At least he could do the pair the courtesy of hearing why they had come.
Taking advantage of Odo’s indecision, Miles asked, “Can we come in for a bit, Odo? We come bearing gifts.”
Miles raised his hands, holding up a covered tray, and Odo noted a long, round case tucked under his arm. Bashir was holding a medium-sized black bag, the contents of which clinked slightly when he moved, but Odo couldn't ascertain exactly what they were. Giving gifts without a religious purpose behind them was one of the many differences between Bajoran and Earth custom, and Odo wasn’t quite sure what the protocol would be in accepting such things. The idea of digging through his recall of cross-cultural social niceties was overtaxing, and made him feel awkward, and Odo thought more than ever he should get rid of these two, but still his conscience wouldn't let him.
Odo shot for a compromise. "Come in, then," he grumbled, "but I’d rather you didn’t stay too long.”
“Oh, we won’t, Constable,” Dr. Bashir said as he moved passed Odo. “We just came to see how you were getting along.” He looked around Odo’s quarters and said, “Got some new furniture, I see?”
“Seeing as how at some point I’d be required to sit down, it seemed appropriate,” Odo returned, folding his arms over his chest.
“Speaking of sitting, Odo,” Miles said, gesturing at the new sofa in Odo’s living space, “may we?”
Odo heaved an exasperated sigh. So much for ‘We won’t, Constable.’ “I suppose,” Odo conceded.
The two men took their seats, and Odo took an uneasy place in an armchair across from them, refolding his arms, waiting for them to get on with it.
Miles set the tray on Odo’s table, and lifted the cover. “This,” he said, “is real shortbread. None of that replicated rubbish. Made it this afternoon. It takes a quarter pound of butter to make a batch, and Sisko’s the only one on the station who’s got real butter. I managed to wheedle it from him, but it cost me a whole bottle of good scotch, and don’t ask me what it cost to get the use of his kitchen. I’ll be on rotation for a straight fortnight.”
“Real shortbread?” Julian said, his eyes lighting. “I haven’t had a real, homemade biscuit since I left Earth.” He scooted forward on his seat, lunging across Odo’s table towards the tray.
Miles slapped Julian’s hand away. “Well, and you won’t have any now, unless Odo gives it to you. It’s for him, not for you.”
“I never figured you for a baker, Chief,” Odo said, eying the tray. The sandy yellow whatever-it-was didn’t look like much, but Miles seemed very proud of it, so Odo was careful to keep his expression neutral.
“I’m not, Odo, not really,” Miles replied. “I can only make shortbread, and that’s only because of my gram. She taught me, years ago…It’s a funny story, though, how I learned to make it. Had nothing to do with cooking. It had to do with playing the cello.”
“The cello?” Julain said, chin in hand, gaze still locked avariciously on the shortbread. “What does that have to do with baking?”
“Well,” Miles began, “I’ll tell you. I suppose I was, oh, seven or eight, when my mother got the idea I needed culture in my life. Without asking me, she signed me up for music lessons. The cello, to be specific. I wasn’t happy about it, but there was no arguing with Darlene O’Brien when she wanted something, so off to cello lessons I went. I hated them. Had no interest in music whatsoever. I wanted to be out building forts and playing phaser tag like the other kids, but my mother insisted I keep going. Said music would make me a more rounded person, and that I'd thank her when I got older.
“Each week, I trudge my way through my lesson, surly and uncooperative, until finally one day my teacher threw down his bow, and said if this was all the effort I was going to give, then he was through with me, and stormed out of the room. My mother was terribly embarrassed, and furious with me, and practically dragged me by my collar to my grandmother’s, scolding me the whole way. Said she’d leave me with my grandmother while she went out for a bit, to see if she could talk some sense into me.
“Gram was in her kitchen, busy, flour and whatnot all over her hands, as my mother told her what happened, and then took off. I stood there in my short pants, feeling all kinds of stupid for the way I’d acted, waiting for her to scold me like my mother. Instead, she gave me a long, assessing look, and finally said, ‘Miles, come here. Come help me with the shortbread.’
“That didn’t sound any better than cello lessons, but I was already in hot water, so I went to the sink, and washed my hands, and took a place by my grandmother’s side.
“'Miles,’ she said, as I eyed a ball of yellow dough in front of us, ‘no matter what it is, learning to do something with your hands is important.’ She took my hands in hers, and showed me how to roll the pin over the dough. It stuck, so I took my hands to it, and I ended up with a sticky mess all over my fingers. Gram was all patience, and helped me get it off, and showed me how to do the pin again.
“'We live in a time,’ she continued, ‘when everything is handed to us, when technology can do just about everything for us. To retain who we really are, it's important to know where we came from. Traditions, art, music, culture. These are things we must never let technology overtake. You could have the computer call up a recording of a Bach cello suite. You could ask the replicator to make you a batch of shortbread, but you won't appreciate either one half as much than if you'd learned the way of them yourself.'
“I didn’t say anything to that, not really sure I understood. My grandmother didn’t say anything, either, just kept showing me how to make shortbread. By the time my mother came to collect me, we had a fresh batch done, and we all sat and had a nibble. When I took that first bite, everything my grandmother said made sense. The shortbread turned out great, and it made me proud, because it was something I’d help make with my own two hands. After that, I stopped arguing with my mother, and my cello instructor. And after every lesson, I'd go to my grandmother's house and make shortbread. Eventually, I got pretty good at both.”
“Do you still play the cello, Chief?” Odo asked.
“Nah," he replied, "not so much since taking this post. Too busy, and I was never terribly talented. But my mother was right. Music did make me more rounded, and helped my thinking. Made me use all of the parts of my brain. You'd be surprised how much music translates into engineering.”
“That’s all very nice, Miles,” Julian said, “and thank you for sharing, but can we try the shortbread now?”
“Hang on, Julian,” Miles said, shooting him a scathing look. “I’m not done yet.” He looked back to Odo. “Keiko made you something, too.”
Miles picked up the case he’d brought, opening it, and pulled out a length of what looked like rolled-up paper. The chief smoothed it out carefully, revealing it to Odo and Julian so they could all admire Keiko’s gift. It was a painting, black ink on cream vellum, of what appeared to be a pictographic form of writing, not unlike Bajoran. Odo admired the grace and symmetry in the free-flowing yet restrained lines, the carefully placed brush strokes, and the stark simplicity of the effect as a whole.
“It’s beautiful,” Odo said, looking up at the chief.
Miles beamed proudly at the praise of his wife’s work. “Calligraphy, another of Keiko’s many hobbies. Her grandfather was a renowned artist, and taught her some before he passed. She said she never had his level of talent, but she did win some prizes in her school days.”
“What does it say, Chief?” Julian asked.
“It’s your name, Odo,” Miles said. “Keiko did some research before painting this. As it turns out, on Earth, Odo is a Germanic name, meaning 'wealthy.' There was a line of kings from ancient days with a variant of the name. She said it translated quite easily into kanji.”
Odo leaned a little closer over Keiko’s work, studying. Wealthy, he thought. A name fit for kings. Odd that his name should mean the exact opposite in Cardassian.
“That's the thing that bound me and Keiko, you know. We're very different, from different backgrounds. Our marriage should never work, but it does, because we both have a strong sense of family, and respect for tradition. That we have in common. She has her calligraphy, I have my shortbread, and Molly gets to have both.”
“Sounds like a metaphor for the whole station,” Julian said. “DS9 is mix of cultures and traditions, a marriage of opposing governments and religions. It should never work, all things considered, but it does, because we all make certain it does.”
“Aye, Julian,” the Chief agreed. “Different races, from different planets, all with our own crosses to bear, and what a confusing hash it is, living here sometimes. But the thing about living in a place like this is, we’re never alone when we bear those crosses…Are we, Odo?”
Odo startled, looking up from the painting. “I…guess not...So,” he said, changing the subject, “what beverage goes best with this…what was it again?”
“Shortbread,” Miles replied.
“Sorry,” Odo said, shaking his head. “The universal translator keeps wanting me to say ‘crunchy brick,’ but that doesn’t sound like something we should eat.” Odo ignored the translator, and tried the words for himself, his Bajoran accent curling uncomfortably around Federation Standard. “Chord…braid.”
“Close enough,” Miles smiled. “And tea would be the regular thing, but Julian didn’t come empty handed, either. He brought something with a little more kick.”
“Indeed,” Julian replied, holding up the bag he’d brought. He pulled out a respectably dusty-looking bottle of something Odo assumed were spirits, and three glasses. “Saurian brandy, a good year, given to me by my parents as a graduation gift,” Julian beamed. “I kept saving it for a special occasion, but never had one special enough to crack something this expensive open, until now.” He smiled at Odo as he set the bottle down. “Offering a friend his very first drink seemed special enough to me.”
“Dr. Bashir,” Odo stated, “as the station’s chief of security, I must remind you that Saurian brandy is contraband under Federation law.” He gave Julian his best Constable Odo glare. “Even possessing it is punishable by steep fines, and up to three days in holding.”
Julian laughed nervously under Odo’s scrutiny, and started to put the bottle away. “Of course, you’re right. I’ll just take this back…”
“Good thing,” Odo said, “DS9 is still Bajoran property.”
Odo smiled slightly, and Julian sagged with obvious relief, and all three of the men had a good chuckle. Julian cracked the bottle open and poured out three glasses, handing one each to Odo and Miles. The men settled in with their brandy, which was exceptionally good, though Odo had to acknowledge he had nothing to compare it to. They shared the shortbread as well, which to Odo’s pallet was deceptively simple, not too sweet, the light flavor and melty-crumble texture rich and comforting. ‘Real butter,’ Miles reminded him, and Odo decided he liked this ‘crunchy brick’ just fine.
Odo swallowed a sip of his brandy, eyeing Julian and Miles over the rim of his glass as he enjoyed the flavorful burn of spirits, and, not that he’d ever admit it out loud, the company. He took another moderate sip, mindful that only half a glass of brandy had him fuzzy, when a question popped up.
“Do either of you know why the Federation banned Saurian brandy in the first place? It’s not harmful in any way, and the Federation is always open-minded with imports, especially spirits. I never got around to finding out for myself what the issue was with Sauria.”
“Well,” Miles said, “it’s a funny story. Had nothing to do with brandy, or Sauria. It had to do with Vulcans.”
“Vulcans?” Julian countered. “They don’t drink. What do they have to do with banned brandy?”
“Well,” Miles began, “I’ll tell you…”
The next morning, on the third day of Odo’s leave, he learned yet another hard lesson in being a thing. He awoke to a pounding, merciless, absolutely horrific pain in his head, and a foul-beyond-reason taste in his mouth. Odo equated the flavor with something that had crawled out of Quarks ear. As he dragged himself slowly, carefully, out of bed, shielding his eyes against the too-bright light of his quarters, Odo decided that he might petition the Bajoran Council of Trade to join with the Federation. Saurian brandy was dangerous stuff after all, and not just to Vulcans.
After a stop in the bathroom, Odo stumbled out into his living space, heading to the replicator, seeking a very cold and very large glass of water. Odo asked for it, and grabbed it quickly from the replicator tray almost before it was fully materialized, swallowing it in huge gulps. He emptied the glass and heaved a relieved sigh, resting his head gratefully against the wall for a few minutes, and decided that cold water was about the best thing the universe had ever invented. He was about to ask for another glass, when the door chime sounded.
“Oh, for Prophet’s-” he exclaimed, slamming down the glass. “Now what?”
Odo stomped toward the door, ignoring the pain in his head over the bigger pain on the other side of the door. Whoever it was, they'd better have a very good reason for bothering him, or he was going to forever redefine the meaning of antisocial.
“Enter,” Odo barked.
The door slid back and revealed his latest visitor. Garak stepped into Odo’s quarters, two garment bags held aloft.
“Good morning, Constable,” Garak began, setting the bags carefully across the back of the sofa. He looked back to Odo, his gaze sweeping him quickly up and down, taking in Odo’s disheveled morning state. “Though by the looks of things, I see that it is, in fact, not a good morning.”
“Garak. Aren’t you supposed to be in holding?”
“Yes. I am. And I will be returning there shortly. Aren’t you supposed to be dressed by this time of day?”
Odo glanced down at himself, face reddening, remembering too late all he had on were the scrub pants Bashir had given him when he was first brought back aboard the Defiant. His head had been spinning too much when he'd went to bed to be bothered with the shirt, and he hadn't even thought about how he looked before answering the door. Changelings, after all, didn't have this problem.
“Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien were here last night,” Odo replied, as if that were an excuse. He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it back into place, but it was no good. An errant strand insisted on falling over his eyes, and fussing with his hair made his head hurt even more. Odo gave it up, and dropped into an armchair, shielding his eyes from the light. Why were all the lights so damned bright this morning?
“Ah,” Garak replied, “I see…Computer, Julian Bashir hangover remedy number…I’m sorry, Constable, what were you drinking?”
Garak winced, and shook his head. “Number three,” he finished. The replicator complied, and a hypo appeared on the tray. Garak retrieved it, and brought it to Odo. “Dr. Bashir’s own formula, used by him personally for recovery from an exceptionally overindulgent evening…How much did those two let you drink, anyway?”
“I only had two glasses,” Odo replied, eyeing the hypo warily. Taking anything Garak offered seemed like a bad idea, especially if it was in a hypo, and right now, so did taking anything Dr. Bashir had concocted. “What’s in that?”
“Don’t trust me, Constable?” Garak smiled. “Well, you shouldn't, but if I wanted to poison you, I’d come up with something much more creative than this. The formula contains, if I recall, an analgesic, some electrolytes, and a counter-agent to remove any remaining… cheer from the bloodstream.”
Still keeping a level eye on Garak, Odo took the hypo. His head hurt so much, death by poisoning might have been preferable, but as Garak had said, if he wanted Odo dead, he’d come up with something better than a hypospray. Throwing caution-and suspicion- to the wind, Odo shot the hypo into his neck, and immediately heaved a sigh of relief.
“Better?” Garak asked.
“Yes,” Odo replied, letting his head roll gratefully back on the chair. “Thank you…Now why in the hell are you here? Who let you out?”
“Captain Sisko, so I could bring the extra uniforms we discussed,” Garak replied, nonplussed by Odo’s gruffness. “They’re all finished. I also brought the personal clothes you ordered, which are obviously very much needed. Those pants are an abomination. I recommend burning them, now that I’ve brought you proper sleepwear.”
“You could’ve just sent a message,” Odo returned. “I would have come and picked them up.”
“I could have, Odo, that is true, and I certainly do not deliver, not under normal circumstances. I am no errand boy, not even for my own shop, but given the current tensions on the station that are due to the unfortunate revelation you made on the Promenade, and Captain Sisko’s wise decision to hide you away until those tensions are relieved, it seemed best that I deliver this order myself. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to…stretch my legs.”
“Things are bad on the station, then?” Odo asked. “I haven’t paid much attention. I’ve been…preoccupied.”
“That’s unlike you, Odo. You always have a finger on the pulse of things. Even if it’s not your patient.”
“Don’t worry, Garak,” Odo said, sitting up to cast a Constable-worthy glare at him. “I’ll be back on duty tomorrow to keep an eye on it all, especially an eye on you.”
“You're certainly welcome to try,” Garak smiled. “Now, I didn’t come here just to bring your clothes. I also wanted to measure you for another set of garments, one you neglected to select when you were in my shop.”
“Oh? And what is that?”
“A suit?” Odo groused. “What would I need with a suit? I have a uniform, and that’s good enough.”
“Actually, I beg to differ. I’ve never cared for that dun color the Bajoran militia selected for their uniforms, far too drab and most unflattering, but as far as function and cut, well, it’ll do, when you’re on duty. There may be times however, when you are not working, and need to look your best. You need a suit for those occasions.”
“What does it matter what I wear, Garak?” Odo scoffed. “No one will notice."
“Oh, on the contrary, Odo, it matters, and people will notice. Shallow though it may sound, humanoids care very much about the outward appearance someone presents to the universe. It says so much about a person. What they do, where they’re from, their social status. Thumb your nose all you want, but a good suit is essential for a man who wants to give the right impression. And surely you can see, Constable, why giving the right impression is so essential in your circumstances.”
“Garak, my head still hurts. What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means, my dear Constable, that as I said, tensions on this station are high, and what has been done to you has become common knowledge. There are opinions on both sides of the issue as to whether the Founders’ actions were just, and plenty of speculative gossip about whether you’ll be able to do your job, now that you’ve been so grievously altered. No matter the gossip surrounding your transformation, when you leave these rooms and show your face again, the residents of this station will scrutinize your every move. Your detractors will look for signs of weakness. Your sympathizers will, too. No matter how your inward thoughts and feelings might run, you must present the outward appearance that you are in control, you are capable, and you will do the job of protecting them from the big, bad universe just as you’ve always done. On duty, a well-tailored uniform will do that for you, but off duty, you need something that has the same sort of…gravitas. That, Odo, is a good suit.”
“That’s putting a lot of faith in a piece of clothing, Garak. Are you making this suit out of metal, by chance?”
“Idanian wool, actually. We’ve already established that Bajoran wool doesn’t agree with you, and Idanian textiles are quite fine. You'll be pleased with end result. Trust me not for any other reason, Odo, but when to comes to matters of current fashion on the station, I would not steer you wrong. I would never allow you to become, shall we say, out of season.”
Odo heaved a sigh, and rose from his chair. “Alright, Garak, you’ve sold me. Take your measurements. How much is this fine wool suit going to cost?”
“A very reasonable rate, I assure you,” Garak replied, pulling the small sensor he used for recording measurements from his breast pocket. He snapped it on and said, “I would not charge you full price for your very first suit.”
“And why not?”
“Oh, to generate good will, I suppose, should you wish to buy even more fine suits in the future. Certainly not because I have any sympathy for your plight. I do have a business to run, Constable.”
“Offering locals a discount to gain repeat business? Now you sound like Quark.”
“Odo,” Garak admonished, “whatever have I done that would make you say something so terribly rude?”
“You’re right, Garak” Odo replied. “My apologies.” He watched suspiciously as the tailor moved the measuring sensor over his torso. “What color is this suit going to be, anyway?”
“All finished here, Odo. And I’m so glad you should ask.” Garak turned off the sensor, and put it back in his pocket. “I did give that some careful thought.”
Garak moved towards the door, and the Constable followed. As the door slid open to let Garak out, he turned back to Odo and answered the question.
“Gray, I believe, is the correct choice, Odo. You always struck me as a man who should wear gray. Color seems too, well...colorful for you, and black is too severe. White is only acceptable if one is vacationing on Risa. I did consider navy, but your dress uniform -which will be ready next week, incidentally- is already navy. That leaves us gray. And Odo, there are so many shades of gray. It's important to find the one that suits you best.”
Garak turned away from Odo then, a mysterious smile still playing the corners of his mouth, and began to walk down the corridor. He was quickly flanked by two security guards. “Shades of gray, indeed,” Odo mumbled to himself. He watched until the three turned the corner, and went back into his quarters, where he went straight to his computer terminal to catch himself up on what he’d missed.
On the last night of his leave, after putting away the garments Garak had brought, and rearranging some other items in his quarters, Odo decided he would spend this final evening alone establishing a routine. Garak was right, he needed to stay on track, to maintain order, and it was very important to have a schedule, to acquire regular habits, if one was to maintain said order. Though his world-and his quarters- still felt completely out of order, Odo was now confident that it would not remain so.
After an evening meal, Odo had decided to keep at least one aspect of his former life, and enjoy a good book before closing the day. He went to his old standard, the Mike Hammer series. He was half way through and heavily entrenched in his favorite volume, “The Case of the Missing Hypello,” when his door chime, yet again, rang.
Odo pinched the bridge of his nose, and heaved an exasperated sigh. He really hoped this constant interruption wasn’t going to become part of his new routine. If so, he might have to move, to somewhere very far away, where ‘just dropping by’ was an impossibility. Breen, he figured, might be far enough. He set the PADD on a side table, and called for the Computer to open the door.
“Hello, Constable,” Captain Sisko greeted. “Caught you at a bad time?”
“Captain,” Odo replied, jumping up from his seat. “Not at all. Please, Come in, although, I’m not in uniform, let me go change and I-”
“At ease, Constable,” Sisko chuckled. “You weren't expecting me, and I’m not here on business. Pajamas will do fine for this conversation.”
Sisko moved into Odo’s quarters, and settled into the armchair next to Odo’s. The constable noted that Sisko had brought two frost-coated brown bottles with him…Oh, no….
Sisko gave him Odo one-sided grin. “Don’t worry, Odo. It’s just a couple of beers, Earth brewed. I met with the Chief this morning, and he told me he and the doctor had stopped by here last night. The look on his face told me the rest, a look I’ve seen on my own face a time or two, but we have a way of dealing with these things on Earth." Sisko popped the cap on one of the bottles, and offered it to a reluctant Odo. "Have a little hair of the dog that bit you.”
Odo balked at that, but took the bottle. He had no idea that dog hair was a component in Earth beer, a disturbing fact he’d rather he didn’t know, and he eyed the bottle more suspiciously than ever.
“It’s alright, Odo,” Sisko smiled, taking an exemplifying pull from his own bottle. “It won’t actually bite.”
Odo threw caution yet again to the wind, and took a drink. The bubbling, ice-cold brew went down easily. Not bad, actually. It had a pleasant taste he had no word for, but was somehow still very satisfying.
“So, Captain,” Odo said, easing back in his chair, “what can I do for you?”
Sisko leaned back in his seat as well, balancing his beer on a crossed leg. “Oh, nothing, Odo. This isn’t business, like I said. You’ll be back on the job soon enough, and I’ll have plenty for you to do then,” he grinned. Sisko took another long pull from his bottle, and turned it in his hand, studying the label. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I had a beer, Odo?”
“Not that I recall.”
“Well,” Sisko said, “you know about my Dad's restaurant, you've been there. By the way, I told Dad what happened, and he says to tell you any time you find yourself on Earth, you stop in and have yourself a meal. Anything you want, on the house. You made quite the impression on him when we were there, and honestly, I think he was a little excited that he could actually feed you now.”
Odo gave Sisko a level look. “I think we both know after what happened last time, I won’t be returning to Earth any time soon,” he said. “Meeting your father, and getting to spend an evening talking with him, was about the only positive thing I got out of that trip…Your father made an impression on me, too. He was very kind to me, even with what was happening on Earth, and it's something I don't usually encounter when people learn what I am... Or rather, what I was...You’ll thank him for me, though, for the offer?”
“Count on it, Odo,” Sisko smiled. “So…As I was saying, my first beer. Owning a restaurant, especially one that doesn’t use replicators, is hard work, for the whole family. Every day after school, us Sisko kids had the same routine. Homework. Dinner. Then dinner shift at the restaurant. And our day didn’t end with the last customer, oh no, sir, always plenty more to be done. My sister would be sent off with the night’s books, and me, my father sent outside with a bucket o’ somethin’, some water, and a scrub brush. Clams, potatoes, carrots, whatever needed washing for the next day's prep. I'd sit on the stoop and scrub until my hands ached, and when it was done, every night, my dad would come out and share a drink with me.
“Me, I always had a cold root beer, Sisko’s own home brew, of course. My dad had a regular beer, but none of that replicated stuff, no way. It was the real deal, brewed by a buddy of his down on First Street. He never drank more than one beer a night, but I remember Mama used to harass him about it anyway, saying drinkin’ wasn't good in any moderation. Dad would raise an eye at her, and say that not only was it good, it was essential to a working man's health to have a cold beer after a long, hard day.
“When I was about seventeen, on that same stoop, I told my dad that I’d be enlisting. He wasn’t happy about it. At all. We fought for weeks, until Mama intervened, sick of both of us, and told Dad to let me alone. I was old enough, she said, to know my own mind, and even if I was making the wrong choice, it was my choice to make.
“Dad and I calmed down then, more because we knew we’d catch hell from Mama if we didn’t, but we still weren’t talking. One night, after about three days of this, I was out on the stoop like usual, and I felt something cold bite my neck. I jumped like I’d been goosed. Dad had pulled that trick on me about a thousand times, with that cold root beer bottle, but I fell for it every time. I turned around to sass him, and take my root beer, but this time it wasn't a root beer. It was a real beer. I wasn’t old enough to drink, so I thought he made a mistake, and didn't take it, but he shoved it at me and sat down next to me on the stoop. My father didn't say a word. Just cracked his beer, took a long pull, and looked at me, waiting.... So, I did the same. And I tell you Odo, to this day, no beer has ever tasted better. I knew he was telling me he had accepted my decision, that he acknowledged that I was, as Mama said, old enough to make my own choices…”
Odo kept his silence, and took a more appreciative drink of his own beer, waiting for Sisko to continue.
“You know, Odo,” Sisko said, looking up at him, “for all the fancy classes and post-academy officer training I’ve had, I learned more about being a leader in those first seventeen years of my life from my parents, especially my dad, than I ever did from Starfleet.”
“I can see that,” Odo replied, “now that I’ve met him.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Sisko agreed. “People get me a whole lot better, once they’ve met my dad…I’m glad you got that chance, Odo, because I’m going to be asking some hard things of you in the next couple of weeks, things that I know, with all else you’ve been through, are going to seem especially difficult, and I need you to understand why. We’ve come up with a plan to do something about the Changeling infiltrator in the Klingon high command. A very risky plan. And I will be sending you on this mission.”
“I thought you said this visit wasn’t business,” Odo said, apprehension tightening the back of his neck.
“You’re right, Constable, I did say that,” Sisko replied. “We’ll save the details for tomorrow. For now, just know that I’m glad you’ll be back on the job, and if what I’ve decided sounds like I’m asking too much, remember that I have good reasons for choosing you for this mission…That’s one thing my parents always did for me, Odo. They believed in me, no matter what, and I’ve always tried to do that for my officers. It makes all the difference in the world to know that someone, somewhere in the universe, believes in you...”
Sisko drained the last of his beer, and stood. “Well, Constable, I’ll let you get back to it. Mission briefing’s at oh-nine hundred. Don't be late.” Smiling, the captain clapped Odo on the shoulder. “And finish up that beer. It’s no good if it gets warm.”
After Sisko left, Odo did finish his beer, and as he contemplated all Sisko had told him, he found his eyes drifting slowly closed. The beer had made him pleasantly sleepy, no sick spinning of the room this time. Hair of the dog, apparently, wasn't so bad. Odo dragged himself up from his seat, and on to bed, and did his best not think about risky missions in Klingon space, but it was no good. Worry over the mission was keeping him awake, despite the alcohol. Odo did his best to turn his thoughts instead to something more restful, to the hawk’s eye view of San Fransisco Bay, and to good conversation with good company on the back stoop of a New Orleans restaurant, and drifted off into a light, if uneasy, rest.
Odo was going back to work. Finally.
He didn’t get as much sleep as he would have wanted, though, and he was up way before he had to be. He had taken advantage of his insomnia by catching up on his messages, skipping deliberately over the one about the Klingon mission briefing, since he’d already been informed about it by the sender himself. Odo sipped his cooling Tarkalien tea, and yawned, wondering if he was ready to try raktijino yet. Everyone else on the station seemed unable to function without their morning dose, and for once, he understood why.
Odo moved to the replicator and stood before it, debating whether he should go with Earth or maybe Betazoid coffee instead of the raktijino, which might be kinder to the uninitiated, when, as if on cue, the door chime sounded.
“Well, by all means,” Odo spat, rolling his eyes, “enter!”
Major Kira's head peeped into his quarters, the rest of her still standing uneasily in the hall. "Hi," she said. "Is this a bad time?"
“Major Kira…I’m sorry…Come in. Please.”
“I can come back later if you want. I know it’s early, but I couldn’t sleep, and I took the chance that you might be up by now.”
“Lucky bet,” Odo returned. “I couldn’t sleep, either. I’ve been up for while. Can I offer you anything? A raktijino, maybe?”
Kira moved to Odo's sofa, easing herself down slowly, holding her pregnant belly as she dropped in her seat. “No more raktijinos," she said, "not with this little guy. He’ll kick me all day, a fact I learned the hard way. I will take a deka tea, though.”
Odo got a tea for Kira, and ordered himself a cup of coffee, and joined Kira on the sofa. “So, what can I do for you, Major?”
“I just wanted to see how you were doing, and see if maybe you'd like me to walk you to your office. Thought it would be a sort of a symbolic gesture, since you did the same for me my first day here.”
“That’s very kind, Major," Odo replied. "I would like that. We do have some time, however, before I have to report.”
“I know," Kira said, "and I kind of got here early for another reason. It’ll give us a chance to talk...I'm...I’m sorry I haven’t been by sooner,Odo. I really wanted to come see you, but with the impending war, and you being out for the last week, I haven’t had a chance. I’ve been helping Worf do your job, and still had to do mine, and I've just been so busy and so tired with this baby, and I..." Kira cut herself off and laughed nervously, rubbing her free hand the leg of her pants. "And I'm babbling and complaining to you about it, which is not why I came here." She took a calming breath and a sip of her tea before going on. "Really, though, Odo, Worf is up to his ears. Running security is not as easy as you make it look, that’s for sure. Your deputies have been great, but I think they’ll be relieved to have you back. Besides Worf being, well...Worf, being pregnant has done nothing for my patience. They miss you down there. We all do.”
“Well," Odo said, hiding a sudden smile behind his coffee cup, "no doubt the deputies and Worf did their best, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to straighten out when I get back to the office. Thank you for overseeing my affairs while I was absent.”
“No problem,” Kira smiled. She looked quickly away from Odo, looking around his quarters instead, noting the changes he had made. “Your quarters look nice, Odo. You must have been pretty busy the last three days.”
“I did try to stay busy, but I still managed to find too much downtime.”
“Odo, you were on leave, that’s what it’s for.”
“Major, when have I ever been someone who liked downtime?”
“Never, ever,” she smiled, “but things are different for you now. You’ll have to learn to take care of yourself…” She heaved a deep breath, and set down her tea. “Enough with the formalities, Odo. How are you doing with all of this? I mean really doing?”
“I’m fine, thank you, Major.”
“Cut it out, Odo. I’m asking as your friend, Nerys. How are you really doing?”
Odo heaved a sigh, and leaned back on the sofa, looking away from her. “I don’t know, Major, not really. Three days isn't enough time to figure it all out, but even if I had a month of leave, it still wouldn't be enough.”
Kira rubbed her hand over the soft mound of her belly, a thoughtful expression on her face. “It is hard, having your life upheaved. I’m still not used to living at the O’Briens. After all this time living on my own, it seems like too many people around most of the time…But we’ll adjust, won’t we?”
“I think so, Major. Carry on, and all of that…”
“So...How’s the bed?”
Odo nearly smacked his forehead. Of course. “You are the one who got me the bed,” he said, shaking his head.
“Yup," she smiled. "I had Shakaar’s assistant help me, though I didn’t expect her to do such a great job. She has nice taste. It’s a beautiful piece. That Starfleet thing in my quarters is not the most comfortable bed to sleep on, not to mention ugly as sin, but I never seem to get around to shopping for a new one. Maybe I’ll call Miranna again, and have her find me a bed this time...It seemed like the least I could do, after what those bas-....after what the Founders did, was start you off the right way, and get you a real Bajoran bed to sleep on..Do you like it?”
“Very much,” Odo replied, too touched that she had gone to so much trouble on his behalf to say much else. Thinking of someone else's comfort was not a typical Kira Neyrs gesture. “Thank you,” he said softly.
“You're welcome,” Kira beamed, pleased.
Kira let her smile fade, and picked up her tea. An awkward silence grew between the pair, both of them thoughtfully sipping their drinks. After a time, Kira sighed, and reached across the sofa. She took Odo’s hand and squeezed it tightly, but still didn't say anything. Her eyes were cast to the floor, looking through it hazily as she gathered her thoughts. Odo could tell, after all these years of knowing her, that she was gathering the courage to say something that wasn't so easy for her to say. Odo twined his fingers with hers, patiently waiting for Kira to look up at him, for her to speak.
“Odo,” she said, tears glimmering in her eyes, “I am so glad you’re still with me. When I walked you down the Promenade last week, and put you on the Defiant, part of me thought I would never see you again. It was one of the hardest things in my life, not to go with you on that ship.”
Odo set down his coffee, and wrapped her hand in both of his. It was his turn to say something difficult to say. Locking his gaze with hers, he said, “Nerys, I would be lying if I didn’t say I felt exactly the same way. And I’m so glad I got to come back to you…To the others.”
Kira nodded, and sniffled. They stayed quiet for a time, hands still joined, both of them knowing nothing else really needed to be said.
With a last little squeeze, Kira finally released Odo's hand. “Odo,” she asked, wiping her face, "do you know why the Founders chose to make you Human, and not Bajoran? Did they tell you?”
Odo startled at that, at how close her question was to Jadzia’s, and much like when Jadzia had asked, he still couldn’t talk about it. Most especially not with Kira. Of course he knew why, they made sure he knew. It was yet another aspect of his punishment. The Founders knew that making him a non-Bajoran would still keep him separated from the place he thought of as home. From the person he thought of as home.
Looking up at Kira, he said, “I believe it was simply easier. Human genetics are not as complicated as other species.”
“Makes sense,” Kira said, reading a little more of Odo’s thoughts than he’d intended. “Though if they meant it as an insult, they missed the mark. Humans, relationally speaking, are more compatible with other species than most humanoids. Less issues with food allergies, with climate, with cultural acceptance. Even with, well, more…personal relations. They seem to blend in where ever they go.”
“That they do,” Odo replied, trying very hard not to think about ‘personal relations,’ now that she’d brought it up. Humans and Bajorans were actually extremely compatible in that department, a fact the Founders had apparently missed when making their decision. “Speaking of which, did I miss a festival of some kind? Bajorans don’t usually give gifts outside of religious occasions, and there is the matter of the bed…”
“No, Odo. You didn’t miss anything. Humans must be rubbing off on me, too," she smiled. "Especially a certain Human."
Odo ducked his head, trying not read too much into that statement. Clearing his throat to cover his lack of reply, he looked at the chronometer on his wall, and rose from his seat.
“I think we should probably go, Major, and face the music,” he said, offering a hand to help Kira up.
Kira took it, using his arm as well to haul herself up from the sofa, and they started toward Odo’s door. “Face the what?”
“Sorry. More Human influence. I pick this stuff up from O’Brien. It means, go where we have to go, do what we have to do, and get the job done.”
“Another universal concept we can all relate to,” she smiled. “Let’s go…what was it? Hear the music?”
“Close enough,” Odo replied. He stepped into the hall after Kira, and walked with her at his side to the start of his new life.