“You were right,” Kira called as the door closed behind her. She bent down and started taking off her boots. “I had the worst day at Ops. I saw Odo this morning and all day long, for the rest of my shift, the only thing I could think about was...” She cut off as she realized she was talking to an empty room.
Kira tried again, her heart sinking. “Nerys? Are you here?”
Silence. Kira looked around her quarters, trying to find a clue as to where her future self may have gone. On her breakfast table was a PADD, turned on, ready light blinking. Kira jogged over and picked it up.
I had to write this fast so I wouldn't forget. My memory is growing jumbled, confused, all the tiny details falling through the cracks, whirling and skittering away like blowing grains of sand. Soon my memory will go in whole dunes, washed away by the wave of changes I've wrought. I didn't want to lose it all before I told you the rest of that long story.
I was sitting here, thinking about what meeting your Odo today might have done to the timeline, hoping I hadn't screwed us all over, when I felt the most awful feeling. I was losing a very precious memory about Odo. It was of our very first kiss. Imagine how it felt to have it taken away in bits and pieces, only to have it returned to me, rewritten. This new memory was of a different first kiss, one taking place in the security office. I could clearly recall my knees turning to jelly as Odo slowly traced the ridges on my nose. It was a lovely, soft sort of memory. It wasn't the same as the memory I was giving up, but it was still a treasure.
I am so happy for you, Neyrs. I'm happy for me, too. This means we've put things right, that the timeline will right itself. It also means that I can finally rest.
I have to tell you I've been a little selfish. You were right. I could have come to you three years from now, and given you the cure right before the war ended. You asked me why I chose this moment in time, and now, with that new memory floating happily around my head, I can explain.
What the Founders are about to do to Odo will nearly destroy him. This time, though, you can be there for him, fully, to show him what it's really like to be...what he will become. By returning to this particular point in time, a point that was a crossroads for both Odo and me, I knew I could change some things that should have gone a different way, and give you both a chance to change your fates.
Before Odo's trial, there will be a mission involving you, Keiko O'Brien, and Dr. Bashir. Get out of it. Don't question why, just do it. Find any excuse not to be on that ship. It is, however, of the utmost importance you schedule a young female pilot of decent skill in your place. I know this is all very mysterious, like the rest of my visit, but there is an excellent reason for what I'm asking you to do.
You see, at the end of the war, Odo is still going to leave you. I told you that on my first night here, and it will not, and cannot, change. He must return to his people and deliver the cure. The Link must learn about the solids, and Odo is the only one who can teach them. You will both see this, you will both hate it, but you will both understand when the time comes.
Remember that feeling from our dream, that hollow-heart feeling we talked about? When Odo goes, that feeling becomes a thing you can no longer shake out of your sheets and out of your mind. That feeling becomes your reality. You will wake with it every morning, it will shadow you as you work, and when you go to sleep, it will lay down with you in your empty bed. This is nothing we haven't lived with before. Our heart has been through more than its fair share, but without its sentinel, all of that old heartbreak comes back to you threefold. If you do as I say, and stay off that runabout, you and Odo might have a chance to bring something into being, something that won't leave you so alone when he is gone.
The choice is yours, but your window of time is small. Decide soon. Know that either way you and Odo choose, the timeline will be fine.
There is another reason that I chose this moment to come to you. I wanted to give you and your Odo a gift my Odo and I were denied. More time. Any earlier in your lives, and neither of you would have been ready. Any later and it would have been, quite simply, too late. Though the coming years will be full of danger, of death and war, and though you pay a heavy price by living with the secret you now carry, it's worth it. These years are also ones you and Odo can have together, where you can share the purest love, the sweetest joy, and, for longer than fate originally intended, simply be together.
Is it possible to be jealous of yourself? Because I am. Take care of him, Kira Nerys.
Kira closed the letter and set the PADD back on the table, staring down at it. Something that wouldn't leave her so alone. Something Kira had never thought she wanted, but with that kind of forewarning laid out for her, she had to consider. Was she ready for that? And even more important, was Odo ready? Right now, she was sure the answer was no in both cases.
Kira started to drop in a pulled-out chair, but her feet became tangled. She looked down and found herself stepping on her bathrobe. Her future self had been wearing it the last time she saw her. Now the robe was an abandoned heap on the floor, as if it had fallen right off the body that was wearing it. Kira bent down and picked it up, finding her slippers underneath. She rose slowly, crushing the robe to her chest as she stared long at those empty shoes.
Adassa was a family name. Kira had always thought it should be passed on.