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.