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After being found by his wife and a security team in the airlock, his foster daughter waiting patiently by his side, Odo ended up spending a few hours in the infirmary for monitoring. His matrix was having difficulty maintaining cellular cohesion after his battle with the universe. There wasn’t much Dr. Bashir could do to treat a Changeling, so he prescribed rest, which, with the way Odo felt, he was fully on board for. Odo’s foster child was also treated by Dr. Bashir, having sustained minor head trauma, and a few bumps and bruises, and she was also prescribed rest. Colonel Kira tried to take her back to quarters to do so, but she vehemently refused, saying she would sleep where Odo slept. After the day’s events, no one wanted to argue with her, so they let her sleep in the infirmary with a beaker full of Odo on a table near her bed. Dr. Bashir assured Kira he would personally watch over them both.

Colonel Kira then left the infirmary to help Captain Sisko clean up the mess, along with help from Deputy Ridia. As the day drew to a close, DS9’s holding cells were full again. All of Corixian’s crew were caught, except one who was shot and killed during pursuit. And of course, except for Corixian himself. The station populace was rattled, and there had been casualties, there would be grieving, but once the current crisis was resolved, most of the station went back about their business. The gossip mill embellished the true events of the day with dramatic flair for those that had missed it, creating an exceptionally profitable night for Quark’s, and in true DS9 fashion, by the end of the day, life was pretty well back to normal. After all, it wasn’t the first time there had been blood on the Promenade.

As her day went along, Kira got a more details out of Ridia about the girl, about her mother, and about just what kind of life she had lived so far. Odo was right. It wasn't pretty. And somewhat auto-biographical. She mulled it all over in the background of her thoughts as she worked, adding it to what Odo had said to her in their quarters, and adding in her own new experiences in caring for the girl. Kidnapping and hostage-taking aside, Kira never thought it would be as simple as it was to care for a child, or as rewarding, or that it was possible to have so much affection for someone she'd only just met. And she was amazed at how easily that affection was returned. Sure, there were some bigger complications that went with parenthood, but her fears of not being right for the girl vanished. Like any child, all this girl really needed was a safe home, a safe place to grow, and people to give her love, to be there for her, and she would be able to blossom into the person she was meant to be. Kira herself had those things when she was the girl's age, even if they had been brief. It was a big part of what made her who she was now, despite everything that had befallen her since.

Colonel Kira ceased all of her musings, and decided that she'd done enough thinking. Somehow, she and Odo's positions on this had gotten reversed. When making a weighty decision, it was usually Odo that pondered through his many doubts, and Kira who stepped boldly forward and ignored hers, so Kira decided to get back in character and pick a path, plow ahead, and see where it went. Tomorrow, she and Odo would tell the girl about her mother, with Dax's help. Then she could take all the time she needed to decide if staying with them was what she really wanted. In the mean time, the girl would have a home with Kira and her husband for as long as she needed one.  

After her day was done, Kira returned to her quarters. She was glad to see her husband had beaten her to it. Odo was in one corner of the sofa, the girl tucked under his arm with her thumb stuck in her mouth. They both still looked a shell-shocked. Odo glanced up at her, and Kira shared a long gaze with her husband from across the room. They said everything they needed to say about this day, without any words. Finally, Kira moved across the room to join them.  

“Hi,” Odo greeted. He lifted the girl onto his lap so his wife could sit next to him. Kira took her spot, snuggling in next to her husband. The girl stretched her legs out over Kira’s lap.

“Hi yourself,” Kira said. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Odo replied. “I’m still tired, though, and sore. Remind me to never again get in a fight with an airlock.”

“Yeah, I’d rather you not repeat the experience myself.”

“Me, too,” the girl added.

Kira chuckled at that, and wrapped her arm over the girl's legs. “You should probably be in bed. We have another big day tomorrow. We need to see Counselor Dax about some silly paperwork, and then we can get you signed up for school. And we need a private sitter. No more childcare, that’s for sure.”

Over the girl's head, Odo cast a quizzing look at his wife. Kira grinned at him, nodding once. Odo smiled back, and hugged her tighter.

“Have you decided on a name yet?” Kira asked. “Little girls who want to go to school need to have a name.”

“Actually,” Odo said. “I have a surprise for you. I found out what your name is. The name your mother gave you.”

The girl’s thumb popped out of her mouth, and she sat up, anticipation lighting her face. Odo cupped his hand around her ear, and whispered it to her. The girl’s face lit even brighter, and she gasped, then grinned.

“That’s it!” she said. “I remember! That’s my name.”

“Well,” Kira said, “are you gonna keep me in suspense? What is it?”

“Hope,” the girl smiled. “My name is Hope.”

 

 



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