"Major, have you heard a single word I've said?"
Kira pulled herself back from her reverie. "I'm sorry, Odo. I'm not much use today. I didn't sleep well."
Odo's seemingly permanent scowl shifted slightly, into what Kira knew was concern. "Any reason in particular?" he asked.
Oh, no reason, Odo, except that I met my future self last night, and she says you're walking around with an engineered time bomb in your DNA, and that at some point before it explodes, we fight a war, fall in love, and have epic sex...
Kira felt her cheeks start to burn. "No, no reason. Just..couldn't."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Major," Odo replied, studying her carefully. Kira squirmed under the scrutiny. "Your cheeks are a little flushed, Major. Maybe you're catching something. I can finish these plans without you if you'd like to get some rest."
Kira plastered on a quick smile. Prophets spare her from too-observant Changelings. "I'm fine, Odo. We need to get this done. The First Minister's visit is going to keep you busy. If we get the docking protocols straightened out now, it's one less thing you'll have to deal with later."
"I really can do this without you, Kira."
"I know," Kira replied, "but I like working with you. We work so well together. Besides, we don't get to spend time together like this that often, do we?"
"No, we don't." The constable cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. "So, as I was saying, security at the airlocks will be doubled. When First Minister Shakaar disembarks, it will be a vulnerable moment. It's the most dangerous part of his visit, not to mention that you and Sisko will be at the airlock, as well, so—"
"Odo," Kira said, "can I ask you something? Something personal?"
The Constable gave her an arch look. "You can ask. That doesn't mean I'll answer."
"Does it ever?" Kira returned. "Anyway, I was thinking about something. All the times we've talked about relationships—specifically romantic relationships—you always scoff at the idea of romances, yet you always sit there and listen to me go on about mine. You even offer advice when I'm having problems."
Kira paused, and Odo's expression grew wary. "You are my friend, Major. Isn't that what a friend does? Listens, and offers advice? Even if it is probably useless and uninformed."
"Actually, your advice is usually pretty sound, which makes me think you're not as uninterested in the subject as you say you are."
"Major, what is the point of this line of inquiry?"
"Is it for real? Do you really mean it, the whole 'romance is for solids' routine? Or are there...circumstances where you would change your mind?"
"I'm a Changeling, not a solid."
"But you're also a thinking, feeling being that obviously likes the company of said solids—"
"—Only certain solids."
"-and I wonder if you really mean it."
Odo heaved a sigh and looked away from her. He was composing an answer, she could tell, looking for the right thing to say. Kira tried to read his expression, looking carefully for anything that would tell her what he was thinking. Odo was so hard to read, but once in while, Kira had some success.
Today, however, was not one of those days.
"I don't think so, Major. I am a Changeling. We don't need romance."
Kira heaved a sigh and rose from her seat. "You know, Odo, I really am tired. Maybe I will go rest. Can we reschedule this meeting for tomorrow?"
Odo tapped the keys on his computer terminal, checking his itinerary. "How about ten-hundred hours?"
"Fine. I'll meet you here."
Odo stood as Kira left his office. "Very good, Major, I'll see you then. And rest well."
On the way back to her quarters, Kira turned over her conversation with Odo, trying to reconcile it with what her future self had told her. How could someone who could be so cold about relationships be the man, the lover, that was from her dream? Except for the eyes, she couldn't find a single thing Odo had in common with that dream man, nor could she find anything in her waking self that responded the same way. Odo was the same as he had always been, her friend. Nothing at all about him suggested the grand passion that took her in her sleep. She was seriously starting to hope that the whole time travel, 'I know about the dream' thing had been a dream itself. Maybe she had hallucinated the whole ordeal. Maybe DS9 had finally cracked her up.
As she stepped over the threshold of her quarters, Kira's heart sank. Pleading insanity was not an option. It was all real. Dassi-who-was-actually-Kira was still there, wearing one of Kira's dresses. It was the red one with the long skirt, Kira's favorite.
"You're early," Dassi said, looking up from the PADD she was reading. "Everything alright?"
"Not really," Kira replied. "I just came from security."
"And I don't get it," Kira plopped next to Dassi on the couch. She picked up a throw pillow and hugged it. "How is that stiff, stubborn security chief the man from our dream?"
Dassi didn't answer. Instead, she rose and went to the replicator. "Two deka teas, hot," Dassi said. The replicator created the requested beverages, and Dassi brought them back, handing a mug to Kira.
Kira wrapped her hands gratefully around the mug, enjoying the heat as it seeped through to her cold-numbed fingers. No matter what she wore, she was never warm enough on the station, especially if she was tired.
Blowing on her tea, Kira cast her glance at Dassi. "Is this going to be another long story? We only drink tea with good books or long stories."
"Or when we're troubled," Dassi replied. "After what you said this morning, you've had me thinking about Aunt Dassi all day. She always said a hot cup of deka tea could fix anything."
"Too bad we never saw any while she was still alive," Kira replied. "Maybe the Occupation would've been over sooner."
"I would have drank deka tea morning, noon, and night if I thought so," Dassi returned. "I still can't answer your Odo questions, Nerys. The answers are something you have to figure out on your own. You have to come to them naturally, like I did. I could tell you everything you want to know, I remember every moment like it was yesterday, but if I give you-if I give myself- too much information, I'll sour your relationship before it starts."
"Because I'll feel forced. Which I'm already feeling."
"Exactly," Dassi smiled. "We are, after all, Kira Nerys. We do things our own way, in our own time."
"Hear, hear," Kira replied. She yawned and let her head roll back on the sofa. "Prophets, I really am tired."
Dassi took Kira's mug and set it aside. "Lay down, then. I'll keep watch."
Kira smiled widely at her twin. "I haven't heard that in so long...Aunt Dassi really was there for us, wasn't she, after our mother died? I think I've missed her more than our mother."
"Makes sense. We were so young when mother left us. Aunt Dassi was with us until we were ten."
Kira shifted on the sofa to rest her head in Dassi's lap, ignoring the strangeness of the fact that it was actually her own lap she was lying on. After all, if you couldn't be a friend to yourself, if you couldn’t trust yourself, then who could you trust?
Dassi started stroking Kira's hair, the gentle tug as her fingers ran through the short strands comforting, soothing, and Kira let her eyes drift closed.
"I remember Aunt Dassi doing that, too," Kira said sleepily. "I've missed it."
"I know," Kira's future self replied. "I remember..."