"If you're expecting histrionics, you're not getting any,” Kira warned as she rose from her seat.
Odo leaned with deliberate casualness against the door of her quarters. “That's not what I expected. I expected to find you resting.”
“I can't,” she said, and tossed the PADD she was holding. “You may as well come in.”
Kira moved to the bunk, lowering herself slowly to sit, and Odo crossed the room to join her. Both of them stared wordlessly at their feet, silence lengthening between them. Odo tried to think of a way to break it, but had no idea where to start, especially with her sitting so close. Anger, guilt, relief and a dozen other things warred within him, but he kept them tightly contained. He didn't want to add to Kira's burden. Odo had come here to do the opposite, to listen to her troubles and thereby soothe his own, the usual way they did things. Then again, if Kira had come to him in the first place, if she hadn't been so impulsive, they wouldn't be sitting here now, mute and awkward, and light years from home.
Finding his voice, Odo allowed himself one softly spoken admonishment. “I was so worried.”
“I know," she said, circling her arms around him. "Me, too."
Odo hid his surprise, and stiffly returned her embrace. “You need rest.”
“I told you, I can't. I keep seeing that.....beast coming at me, over and over, coming for the baby...” Her fear traveled out of her and into him through a tremble of limbs. “I can't get it out of my head.”
“Let it go, Major. Dwelling on it can't be good for you, or for the child.” As if in agreement, Odo felt a small thump through Kira's distended abdomen.
“I think he heard you," she laughed.
“Yes, well, I take it he agrees."
“Odo, I-” Her words cut off as sharp-nailed fingers dug painfully into his arm.
“Major? What is it?”
“My back,” she spat. “Oh, Prophets, I can't wait until this kid is out. I can't take much more of this. Help me?”
Odo rose quickly and helped Kira swing her legs onto the bunk, shucking her boots in the process. He took a place behind her to give her something to lean against. “Better?”
Kira didn't answer, her soft weight resting uneasily against him, face drawn with pain. Her breathing was shallow, rapid, and tears pooled in her eyes. Odo's concern grew. He considered calling the doctor, but then Kira spoke.
“Odo, I really thought I was going to die today.”
The words were a knife, cold and sharp, and Odo's eyes winced shut as it pierced him through. If Kira had died, it would have been his fault. He never should have told her about the list of names that had started all of this. Of all people, Odo knew what Kira would do with the knowledge there was someone she could hold responsible for her pain. How could he have been such a fool?
Kira sucked air through her teeth as another spasm shook her. Odo decided he'd seen enough. “I'm calling Dr. Bashir,” he stated, reaching up to tap his comm badge.
“No!” she said. “No more hypos. We've had enough drugs for one day.”
Odo sighed, resigned to her stubbornness. It had, after all, been his constant companion all these years. “Kira, what can I do?”
“Nothing, Odo... It's too bad Miles didn't come on this trip, though."
No, he thought. No Miles. Just Odo'Ital...
An idea formed then, but it seemed too intimate, an intrusion on her privacy he was loathe to attempt for several reasons, but after everything else he'd failed to protect her from, he couldn't just sit and watch her suffer.
“Major, I think I can help if...if you'll permit me.”
“I will permit it, Captain,” she smiled, teasing him with his never-used militia rank. “What did you have in mind?”
Odo's hands moved before he could answer. A chastising voice in his head told him to stop this, he had no right, but his hands ignored it. They didn't seem to belong to him as they lifted the edges of her tunic, growing braver still as they pushed past the waist of her leggings, exposing her lower back. Odo paused, tensed, waiting for the reprimand for this presumption. What was he thinking, touching her like this? Surely she would be outraged, would reject this intimacy.
The Major simply leaned forward to give him more access. Odo agonized over the pale bit of perfection he'd uncovered, and reached out to touch her, flesh to flesh. The silken heat beneath his fingertips was a wonder, a warm and living joy he'd never thought to know, and the breath stilled in his lungs. This might be the most foolish thing he'd done all day.
Reminding himself that this was about her, he shoved his less worthy thoughts aside, and pressed his roughened palms into her bare back, pushing from the base of her spine and out. He made tight circles with his thumbs on the pressure points by her tailbone. Kira gasped and arched at the sudden release of tension, and Odo swallowed yet another strong feeling, channeling it into the mechanics of his task. Digging strong fingers into her widened hips, he pulled them back to the center and watched, encouraged, as his ministrations eased the furrow from her brow, and turned her mouth up in a slow grin.
Kira eased a sigh of relief. “Odo, that's incredible. How do you always know what I need?”
The Constable bit back a bitter laugh. How did he know? It was as natural as breathing, knowing her, caring for her, though to his constant regret, he could never bring himself to say so. He let his hands speak instead, and studied her face as he continued his work. Her expression was pure bliss, something out of a dream he was sure he once had. Odo did his best to ignore it, to forget the velvety feel of her beneath his hands, and stay focused on his task.
As Kira relaxed, silence of a different nature filled the space, and Odo let his thoughts drift. It was hard to believe that only hours ago, she had been lost to him, and the solid contact with her body was nearly enough to banish the horror of it from his memory. The panic at discovering her gone had been a feral thing, running circuits around his brain, devouring all logic in its path. It was all he could do to hide his fear from the others as he organized a search. He was consumed by the scenarios his mind had spun, each one worse than the last, and every delay, every passing second had driven him closer to the edge. The madness didn't stop until the Major was found, safe and sound on a rouge planet, with a dead assassin at her feet.
A small sound drew him back to Kira. He risked a look down, and was shocked to see tears running down her face, silver glints reflecting faintly in the dim light of her quarters.
“Kira, have I hurt you?”
“Hurt me?” she sniffed. “No, why?”
“You're crying.” He wiped a tear gently off her cheek, and showed her the evidence.
She looked down at the shiny drop on his fingertip, puzzled. “You didn't hurt me."
“Then why the tears?”
“You've managed to relax me past three days of hell in the last ten minutes, Constable. That can do funny things to a person.”
“Oh,” Odo replied, a strangely warm feeling burning his cheeks.
Kira wiped her face and leaned her head back on Odo's shoulder. “Do you think Sisko is going to issue a formal reprimand, or just yell like he usually does?”
“He will add a reprimand to your file for the runabout. He has to. But I don't think anyone, especially Sisko, could yell at you in your current state.”
“I guess you're right,” she laughed. “There is some advantage to being the size of a house.”
Odo rolled his eyes, and sighed disapprovingly. "Kira..."
To him, the Major was always lovely, and her pregnancy had only deepened his attraction. Since she'd arrived in his office one afternoon to show the new and softly-mounded contour of her belly, Odo had burned with an inexplicable need to follow Kira around the station and guard her from he knew not what. It had tortured him for months. Thank goodness for the computer, and its extensive database on human physiology, or he would have questioned his sanity.
Not that he could tell her any of this, of course. He let his hands slide up higher instead, smoothing more knots from her tension-wracked body, using strong and sensitive fingers to say what he couldn't.
Kira sighed appreciatively. “Oh, that's good. I had no idea you could do this. Miles might be out of a job.”
“Well,” he said, “I don't do this for just anyone. If word got out, I'd have pregnant women hanging about the security office all day.”
Kira gave a full-throated chuckle that twitched her ribs under his fingertips. “That would sure start some rumors.”
“Yes,” Odo laughed, “I suppose it would.”
She reached over and squeezed his knee. “Thank you for this. Really.”
“You don't need to thank me. I came here to help.”
“And you have. I don't think I would've opened that door for anyone else, not even Edon. I'd have turned him away if he'd been here. Isn't that strange?”
It wasn't so strange to Odo, and he bit back the curse that rolled around his mouth at the mention of the First Minister. The man wasn't right for Kira, and part of her knew it, if she chose to look hard enough. Odo had informed Shakaar of Kira's disappearance, but he'd barely acknowledged it, had told Odo “good hunting” and “keep me informed,” his concern for the woman he supposedly loved half-hearted at best. The Constable's jaw clenched. There was someone else he'd like to hunt down.
“Ouch!” Kira yelped. “Too hard.”
Kira eased back into his hands as he lightened the pressure of his touch. “Odo, how did you know where to find me? I didn't exactly leave any clues.”
“We tracked the runabout's ion trail.”
“I thought I masked it,” she said, frowning.
“You did," Odo replied. "You were very clever. Thank goodness for Dax, who's even more clever, or we'd have been poking around the galaxy for days.”
Odo recalled the Trill's hasty efforts to modify the Defiant's sensors. Dax had been angry with Kira, truly angry in a way Odo had never seen from the sunny lieutenant, her hands trembling as she worked, and her mouth issuing a string of invectives in at least three languages. Odo had been no less angry than Dax, and now that the crisis was over, he couldn't keep an edge from sharpening his voice.
“Kira, what were you thinking, running off like that? Why didn't you tell me what you were planning?”
“For the simple reason that you would've stopped me."
“You're right, I would have," Odo returned. “What you did was reckless. Irresponsible. I'd have tossed you in holding if I'd known what you were up to, though I'd at least have tried to talk you out of it first.”
“And I would've listened, Odo. I couldn't give you that chance. The man wasn't going to stop until I was dead, look what he did to the O'Brien's quarters. Loosing Lupaza and Furel...” She paused, and swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. “I couldn't bear it if any more of my friends were harmed because of me."
Odo understood, more than she knew. The fierce flame that fueled her was kindred to the one in his own heart, but that still didn't excuse her actions. “I would have gone with you if you'd asked, no matter the danger. I know you tried to protect us, but you're not alone, not while I'm here. Never forget that. Besides, you gave me the fright of my life when you left. I thought...” He trailed off, the words locked in the back of his throat.
"What, Odo? What did you think?"
Odo heaved a shuddering sigh. “Nerys, I thought I'd lost you.”
Kira reached back for his hand, taking it in hers. “I know I worried you, but I'm not going to apologize for any of it. I did what I had to do.”
“I know," Odo said, sliding his arms around her. "Just promise me the next time you want to cut a path of vengeance through the cosmos, you'll take me with you.”
“Alright, I promise,” Kira replied, and turned to beam at him.
There was a heavy pause as their eyes locked in the quiet space. Kira's smile faded as she searched him, silently questioning, and Odo let his answer shine unguarded as he held her gaze. A soft bloom graced the paleness of her cheeks, and Kira's lips parted. She reached up a hesitant hand. The warmth of her palm was tantalizingly close, and Odo longed to roll into it, to press it to his cheek, but he didn't dare move, time itself suspended to an agonizing halt as he awaited her touch.
To Odo's everlasting regret, the baby chose that moment to kick again. Kira started and sucked in a breath, her soft bloom turning to a full flush that stained her skin scarlet.
“Wow,” Kira said, tone falsely bright as she sat up. “My back's much better. Thanks again.”
“You're welcome,” Odo mumbled. He jumped as he realized his hands were still under her tunic. He snatched them back quickly, pulling them into useless fists that rested on his lap.
Kira looked at him over her shoulder. “You'll stay with me? While I sleep?”
Kira smiled her relief, and snagged a pillow from the end of the bunk. Laying on her side, she settled on his lap, and said, “You're a good man, Odo. What would I do without you?”
In the Bajoran fashion, Kira slipped quickly into deep sleep. A wry smile curled Odo's mouth as he looked down at her. He was exhausted, but sleep would take longer to find him in his human form. He watched over her for a while, her breathing deep and even, a small snore droning from her nose. Odo thought his heart would burst as he smoothed a stray curl from Kira's brow, and he contemplated that last thing she'd said. What would she do without him? That wasn't the question at all.
Odo felt more than heard the engines of the Defiant increase speed, and knew it marked the halfway point. There was plenty of time before they arrived at the station, so he leaned against the wall behind the bunk and closed his eyes, a protective arm draped over Kira and her bundle. Sleep claimed him as the ship sped them safely home.