The next morning found a bleary-eyed Kira having breakfast with herself. To say that it was a strange experience was an understatement. As she watched her doppelganger stab a piece of fruit and take a big bite, Kira had to wonder if the Prophets were somehow playing a joke on her.
Speaking of the Prophets...
“Dassi, how did you do all of this? Was it the Prophets?”
“No, not the Prophets.” Future Kira's fork froze on the way to her mouth. “Did you just call me Dassi? As in Aunt Dassi?”
“It seems less confusing than calling you Nerys. Besides, with your hair like that, you look just like her.”
“We look just like her. Sound like her half the time, too...Alright. Dassi it is. To answer your question, Nerys, is another long story.”
Kira wasn't ready for more long stories. “Give me the short version.”
Dassi set down her fork and sat back in her seat. “I was on the other side of the wormhole when the Jem'Hadaar broke through. Starfleet had sent me to help the Vorta. I was deep in Dominion territory when they destroyed the Bajoran system and collapsed the wormhole. There was no way home, no home to go back to, so I took refuge with allies of the Vorta called the Virinians...Wonderful people, actually. They were very kind to me, watched over me during my...grief... The Virinians were the ones who convinced me to do this. They had the technology to send me back in time, to show me what could be if I returned.”
“What kind of technology?”
“Like I know," Dassi replied. "We aren't good with this stuff, you know that. Tech was always Dax's job, or O'Brien's. I can only tell you it was some kind of device that even the Virinians didn't completely understand. They didn't build it, but they knew how to use it. There was a part of the system that could show what would happen if specific threads of fate were plucked, rewoven. The damned thing was more like a magic mirror than a machine. We spent days changing things around, trying to find the right threads so we didn't alter history for the worse.”
As she listened, Kira took a bite of her toasted mapa bread. It was too dry, so she picked up the jar of tulaberry preserves that seemed always to be on her table these days. The exotic import had become a new favorite. Tulaberries were funny things. When picked and left whole, they were bright red, as was the wine made from them. When they were cooked into preserves with Bajoran sugar, the chemical reaction turned the preserves a distinct shade of sky blue.
Kira paused, turning the jar in her hands. She looked up from the jar and noticed about a dozen other items spread throughout her quarters that had that same shade of blue. A throw pillow, a small framed mosaic, a scarf she'd bought at a Bajoran farmer's market. Kira was never sure why she'd purchased that blue scarf in the first place, but she got it now.
“Dassi, does he...Is he really in love with me?”
“No, Morn,” she returned. “Of course Odo. Who else would I be talking about?”
“I think you need to ask him that yourself.”
“Well, that's helpful." Kira huffed. "What's the point of visiting yourself in the past if you can't answer a simple question?”
“Well, Nerys, let me ask you a question. Do you love him?”
“According to you I do, but...I'm not sure.”
“When you're sure, you'll be able to ask Odo yourself.”
Again, not helpful. Kira plunked down the jar of preserves and changed the subject. “Last night, you said the armistice happens in 2375, that Odo takes the cure home after. That's three years from now. Aren't you a little early?”
Dassi smiled cryptically over her raktijino mug. “No, I don't think so, Nerys. This is the perfect time."
Kira stared at Dassi, trying to decipher that smile. It made her nervous. She didn't like other people having anything over her, knowing something she didn't, even if the other person was herself. Whatever Dassi was hiding was obviously a big deal, but her face was carefully neutral. Kira gave up trying to figure it out and slid her eyes from that mysterious smile to the chronometer on the wall.
"Oh, Prophets!" Kira said, and shot up from the table. “The time. I have to get to Ops.”
Dassi rose and grabbed Kira's arm. “Nerys, wait. It's very important that no one knows I'm here. No one. Not Dax, not Sisko, not even Odo.”
“Why are you still here?" Kira asked, shaking her arm free. "Shouldn't you be zipping back to your time, now that I have what I need?”
Dassi's smile was sad this time. “It doesn't work quite like that. And I want to see what happens in the next couple of days. I want to make sure things are going the right way.”
“Fair enough,” Kira replied. Her mouth turned up with a smirk. “I would say make yourself at home, but under the circumstances, that's probably not necessary. I guess I'll see you after work, then...Dassi.”
Kira left her quarters and started her trek to Ops. It was going to be a rough day. Thoughts about altered timelines and specific revelations about the station's chief of security were filling her head, not to mention that she'd had no sleep. Staying focused on her duties was not going to be easy. Her future self had had kept her awake the rest of the night, explaining what it was she needed Kira to do.
In three years' time, after Julian had his showdown with Section 31, Kira was supposed to give him the missing information so that Odo would receive the real cure, and the Link would be saved. It seemed simple enough, except Kira was going to have to figure out a third party intermediary to deliver said information, since apparently she wouldn't be on the station when all of this happened. Of course, Dassi wouldn't tell her why she wasn't on DS9, only that Garak was off the list of helpers. As if Kira would ever tell Garak anything anyway.
She boarded the turbolift, and did her best to put it all out of her mind. Kira did, after all, have three years to figure out a plan. Nothing had to be decided today.
Kira arrived at Ops, stepping off the lift and heading straight to her workstation. She greeted Dax like she always did, said hello to Channing and O'Brien, doing her best to chat and gossip like normal. When Ensign Smith asked her to take a look at some strange chroniton particle activity in the habitat ring, taking place very near Kira's quarters, Kira smoothly steered the ensign's attention elsewhere. It was just a few particles, after all, nothing to worry about. No unusual fluctuations in the space-time continuum were detected. Besides, hadn't Kira asked for that compilation of docking clamp failures on pylon three two days ago?
As the ensign scurried off to get her report, it struck Kira what an unfair position her future self had put her in, a position she was dismayed to find she was already adept at handling.
For the next three years, in order to protect them all and keep them safe, Kira would have to lie to everyone she knew and loved.