|Once a Year
Author: dragonwriter24cmf PM
Once a year, Kira goes to spend a week with Odo, on the Founder's Home-world. It's not much, but when she's in his arms, it's not hard to think of how lucky she really is. And how special that once a year is, too.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Kira N. & Odo - Words: 4,584 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 9 - Published: 08-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8450040
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Once a Year
Summary:Once a year, Kira goes to the Founders homeworld. Once a year, she spends...a Federation Standard Week with the man she loves. One week, in all the time of a year. It's so hard. Sometimes, she has to remind herself that she's luckier than many. But then...in his arms, it's not hard to remember at all. DS9 fic. Odo/Kira. Just a sappy little one shot.
One week a year. It isn't much. In human terms, it's one week out of fifty-two, and the other fifty-one are spent alone. In Bajoran time, it feels somewhat longer. She's not sure of the exact ratio. She was, once, but years have passed, two human decades and more since she became a Bajoran Liaison Officer, serving with Starfleet. And somehow, it no longer seems to matter. It's one week. And she always knows when to come, and when she has to leave.
She doesn't remember quite how it started. Only that, a few years after the Dominion War ended, it occurred to someone that, for truce to stay a truce, the two sides had to talk to each other. If they didn't want another era of non-communication, ended by violence, then they'd have to do something about it. Attempts at contact were made. Finally, after several fruitless endeavors, someone thought to ask the Female Shapeshifter (She's never given them a name to call her by. The closest anyone gets is 'Miss', a human honorific.). She was, predictably, amused, but finally gave them a suggestion. Kira, who loved one of the Shapeshifters, enough to protect him, enough to trust him. Enough to release him, for his own sake. Or, perhaps, Doctor Bashir, who watched over their Odo for so long, and provided the cure for the disease that nearly destroyed the whole race.
They'd discussed it, but Bashir had immediately ceded his claim to her. He made comments of her 'greater experience in discussion' and 'command privilege' and 'unique qualifications'. But his eyes, and his words off the record said he understood her, her love, still so deep. How much she missed him. So, in the end, she went. To the Founders Homeworld.
And he was there. How he'd known she was coming, she didn't know. How they knew, she didn't know. But they did, and he did. And when she landed her ship, by the time she disembarked, he was there, in his Solid form, his human form. A smile on his face, and in his eyes. He met her with a kiss, straight out of a romance novel, and with more than enough passion to prove that she hadn't been the only one grieving their parting. It's a nice feeling, knowing she's been missed, that he's had as many sleepless nights (if you could say Changelings sleep) as she has.
And so it began. There is no surprise that the other Changelings don't want her there long, for fear of being 'contaminated'. They're still mistrustful, and she can't really blame them. After all, she has this argument too, at least twice a week, on DS9. Bajoran extremists, Klingons looking for a fight, the rare pissed off and unhappy Cardassian (they don't come much. It is a Bajoran station, and they have a world to rebuild). Even Quark, with his loud mouth, though the mention of money usually shuts him up. But she's used to dissent, and fear. What surprises is that they don't actually object to her coming.
A week is finally settled on as her time limit. It's a fair compromise. She really shouldn't spend much more time than that away from the station anyway. So they spend their week, and if it isn't the kind of 'peace talks' that Starfleet or the Alliance would advocate, it's communication of an entirely different nature. And, ironically, one the shape-shifters are far more likely to accept. If nothing else, it arouses their curiosity more than their mistrust. And at the end, she does at least secure Odo's promise that they aren't planning on attacking anything, and he'll be there to warn her if they try it. Then they share one last kiss, one last embrace, and when she pulls back, his clothing has changed to a tuxedo. She smiles, remembering. Their last parting. 'You always said I looked good, in a tuxedo.Then this is how I want you to remember me.' It seems like a good tradition to her. She blows him a kiss, and a smile, and promises to come back next year.
It feels like a dream, until the next year rolls away, and she receives the invitation. So she goes, and it's another bittersweet union, another week of joy, tempered by grief that it has to be so short.
It's on her third visit, during one of those moments they share, wrapped in each others eyes and smiling at the gold lake he never gets tired of, that she finally says it. "I'm surprised, with all their fear of contamination, that they'd let me come here. Much less let you spend time with me."
There's that dry chuckles she loves, so warm. Then his rough, but gentle voice speaking in her ear, full of tenderness. "Well, I suppose. It might be because I can't help singing those songs from Quarks, the ones Vic taught me. Especially when you're away. If I didn't know better, I might think they were getting tired of them."
She joins him in laughter, knowing the songs he means, and isn't at all surprised when he begins humming in her ear. Even less surprised when he swings her into a gentle dance. For all that he's not a Solid, he's a graceful dancer. They dance for a while, surrounded by people with no shape and no faces, doubtless watching (or whatever they do) with mixed curiosity and disgust, if not outright boredom. She doesn't care, and doesn't think he does either. Then dancing gives way to other things, a kiss, and a touch, a grip that turns subtly into a caress, and she smiles at him. "Who needs dinner."
And he laughs, and kisses her, and gently dances her into the shuttle, ever the gentleman. It affords them a bit of privacy, as he's the only shape-shifter with permission to enter her shuttle. Though, as the kissing gets a little warmer, she doesn't think she cares about that, either. But then, there is no more time for thinking, only, once again, a different kind of communication.
When she returns after that, she can't help feeling bereft. She knows there will be another year, and Odo won't be gone. She's the only one of them who can leave this equation. But it hurts to leave him, she loves him so. She gave him up for the good of so many worlds, to save an entire race and more. But now, she's giving him up only for conventions sake. It doesn't seem fair.
She passes through the wormhole, still in a daze, and it isn't till she docks at the station that she makes an effort to shake herself out of it. She manages to give a proper report to her superiors, and present a semi-cheerful, if tired face to her friends, but in the darkness, the sadness remains.
The next week puts things in perspective though. She sees Cassidy, and Jake, and Cassidy's child, the Prophet's Son, walking the Promenade. It reminds her that Cassidy, like her, has lost a loved one to demands of freedom and light. And while Cassidy's husband is somewhat closer, in terms of distance, he's also a member of the Prophets. Time and space mean almost nothing to them. She sees him only when they deign to mix the fabrics of reality for a meeting. She doesn't even have a promise of next year, or any definite time at all. Kira knows she could never stand such waiting.
She sees Worf, occasionally, when his duties bring him to DS9 for discussion between Bajorans and Klingons, and is reminded that he lost his love as well. And not only does he NOT get to see her ever again, for Jadzia is truly dead, but he bears the pain of knowing her co-symbiont, Dax, resides in another, within Ezra. A double pain, that the woman he loves is beyond his reach, but her memories, a part of what they shared, have taken a new form, equally untouchable, but right before his eyes.
She sees Bashir, eating alone because Miles O'Brien is gone, gone back to Earth to raise his child in peace and quiet. She sees Garak, visiting occasionally, and is reminded that his whole world is in tatters. His clothing shop on DS9, his mentor, his nursemaid, and so many of his friends, not to mention his home-world. It's all gone. If there is a man who has truly been left with virtually nothing, it's him. She'll never really like him, but she understands him, and in a strange way, she would almost call him friend, were they not what they are, Bajoran and Cardassian.
It's enough to kill any resentment she feels. So many people have lost loved ones, been separated from those they care about, with no hope of going back, no guarantee of future meeting. She has her week, and that...as long as Odo is there, as long as he loves her, as long as they can maintain this strange, ultimate long-distance relationship...that is enough.
The years roll by, and each year she returns. She knows she's growing older. She knows, from discussions with Julian (and one very short one with Sisko on a trip through) that she'll live longer than most. After all, she was a vessel of the Prophets, bathed in their power, and she remained unconsumed. One would expect side effects. She's glad, now, that she'll live longer, be healthier. But still...
She sees silver in her hair for the first time. She worries, for a few years, rather irrationally, that he'll cease to love her, as he realizes she's getting older and he isn't. She needn't worry. Not only is he quite willing to hold her and kiss away her fears, he's rather adamant about his feelings on the matter. He'd say he's not the best with words, but he's eloquent enough, reminding her how he expected her to turn from him, when the Founder's disease was killing him. She stood beside him, through his illness, his suffering, as the disease ravaged his body and literally made him fall apart. She even kissed him. He says all of it, the first time. And when she returns, the following year, there are threads of silver in his hair too. It might be just a trick, she knows it's just a gesture on his part, as easy as changing from his Bajoran uniform to a tuxedo, but it is immensely cheering. She worries a few more years, but he still maintains the silver, still greets her with a kiss and a smile, to sweep her off her feet, and sends her on her way with an outstretched hand, in his tuxedo, and she eventually decides that if several light-years and gray hairs can't kill their relationship, then he's right. Nothing will.
In retrospect, she wonders why she worried. Odo has always been the most loyal of beings, loyal to a fault. Even when it trapped him in the middle of a terrible conflict, even when it caused him unimaginable suffering, he is loyal. Why she thought something as minor as distance and years should break him of the habit, when torment, near-death, and abandonment did not, she really can't say. So she stops worrying, and her next visit she greets him with a laugh, and a kiss, no longer concerned as to whether his arms will be around her when she leaps for him.
There are few real patterns to their time together. At some point, she'll make the obligatory request, asking if there's any aggression planned. And he'll provide the necessary answer. He greets her with a kiss and a smile, and sends her away wearing his tuxedo. Sometimes, just for effect, he'll produce a rose for her. It's part of his essence, so she doesn't take it with her, but it's nice.
The rest of their time is spent simply enjoying each others company. They relive the high moments of their relationship, share news, memories. Dance. Love. Sometimes, they sit outside and gaze at the stars, telling each other stories, applying familiar patterns of their shared childhood on Bajor to a sky that only begins to become familiar as time goes on. Every now and then, he even shares shape-shifter stories with her, and she shares the little gems of legends and such that come with being commander of a space station that is the only port of call to those wishing to pass through the wormhole.
Sometimes, he spends the entire time as a solid, except when he has to revert to a liquid. Sometimes, she dances with him in his semi-liquid form, enjoying being literally wrapped in his embrace. And there's her favorite, when he turns himself into a globe of golden light, a miniature sun, and swirls above and around her. It reminds her, every time, of the first time she saw it. The night he told her he would choose her, over his people. The night she began to understand, to her core, what an amazing, wonderful man she'd let into her life. Not that she hadn't known for a long time, but this was a side of him she's never really seen, a warm and beautiful side. She knew his passion, and his strength, his honor and his courage. And his love, but there was just something pure and beautiful about his essence that she'd never grasped before that night. She thinks, sometimes, that if the Prophets could be seen in a non-corporeal form, they would look similar. Every time she sees it, she remembers. It's not something she can put into words, like much of what they share. But then, he's never needed words. And he senses her delight without her saying anything at all.
She wonders, during the hours when he must be a liquid, for his health, if the other shape-shifters see the wonder of him. If they see what he has become. A bridge across worlds. If they realize the wonder they created, in this man who was once a child they sent out across the universe alone, abandoned at the edge of the wormhole. There's a cynical part of her mind that doubts it, doubts they could ever truly appreciate him. But still, there's another part of her that hopes they do know and appreciate what he is. A part of her that believes they can see it. After all, there was a time she didn't think much of Benjamin Sisko either. Then he wakes, rouses, and she sets the thought aside, like station duties, and memories of the Resistance, and a host of other things. After all, this week is for them, and it's only once a year.
Sometimes, other shape-shifters visit them. But they are uncomfortable, and while she and Odo are never rude, neither do they invite the others to stay. It is their week, and the shape-shifters will have fifty-one more to have all their curiosities dealt with, their questions answered. And for the most part, the Founders are content to leave them alone.
She loses track of the years. It's not as if it matters. One week she spends with him, the rest they are apart. However many times they've met in this strange arrangement, it doesn't matter. Will never matter. All that matters is that they have that time. That one time each year. Sometimes, she counts down the weeks, but mostly, she doesn't bother. Like waiting for a prophesy to fulfill itself, it comes in it's own good time. Besides, she knows she'll be aware of when it's almost time. The crew will start shuffling schedules, so they can be without her for the week, and she'll catch her friends giving her encouraging smiles. Jake leaves a little trinket, some of his pictures and writing work, for Odo to look at if he's interested. Given that Jake tends to write news when he's not working on his novel, particularly station news, Odo usually is interested. And it makes for good conversation, on the nights they choose to spend sitting together, staring at the stars, and simply talking, enjoying the contact.
Another visit ends, and she boards her shuttle, and flies back through the emptiness of space. Her eyes are on the console, and she stays relatively focused, but she's still thinking of him. She docks, waves and smiles, tells everyone she had a good trip, and settles back into the routine. The first days pass with everyone squelching their curiosity, and then they become resigned to the fact that she still won't tell them what she and Odo do alone. Then days turn into weeks, and everyone goes back to business as usual. Docking ships, trade, various negotiations, and the occasional incident, just to spice things up. After the first three weeks, when she's sure he's gotten bored waiting, she even makes her way down to Quarks, to grab a glass and harass him, simply for the fun of it, and because she knows he misses Odo's harangues, though he'd never admit it. It keeps them both sharp, at least. And the weeks turn into months, and she does her duty, even if part of her is still waiting, waiting for that week to come again.
She's deep in reports, when the deck doors chime, to announce someone entering the command deck. She doesn't even look up, the noise stopped surprising her after her first week here. And though she hears the noises of surprise and excitement, she doesn't go to see what they are. Someone will come tell her, if it's worth her knowing. But reports need doing, and anyway, there's regular disturbances. At least once a month, someone gets lost, or drunk, or just plain stupid, and staggers in. Not to mention, there's still that 'cyber puppy' that O'Brien housed in the computer. They never have figured out how to oust it, and it's never been worth the effort. And sometimes, it puts on a show, just to make sure they're still aware and appreciative of it. So she doesn't bother to go out.
Then the doors to her office chime, and she does look up, prepared to receive someone's report, and act on it, if action is needed. Or give them a tongue-lashing, if it isn't.
He's there, standing in her doorway. He looks a little hesitant about disturbing her at work, he always has. For a moment, she almost forgets that all that time has passed. It isn't until she stands and bumps her hip on the desk, Sisko's desk, that she remembers, realizes what's going on. She wonders if it's a mirage, a trick, an illusion, and comes around the desk in a daze, hand outstretched, half expecting it to pass through him.
Warm fingers take hers. He smiles, takes her hand gently, presses a kiss to the back, and to the palm, as he so often does, and breathes one word. "Nerys." And she sees the silver, which no one would ever emulate on him, and knows it's real.
She has just enough presence to shut the door and lock it. Then her hands are on his face, and they're only inches apart, and she's smiling, just as she always does when they meet. "Odo. You...but how..."
"They let me come." He held her eyes, love and longing and joy in his. "I can only come once a year, and it's only for a week. But they let me come."
She blinks. "Does that mean I can't come see you anymore?"
"No. You'll receive the invitation on schedule. They simply decided a little reciprocity was in order." There's a bit of mischief on his eyes then. He never had a sense of humor while working for Cardassians, but after he got used to Sisko, he'd slowly developed one, and he'd had Quark and Garak to practice on for for years. She wonders, with that expression in his eyes, what he did to convince his people to permit this.
But it doesn't matter. He's here, back on DS9. She can hear the murmurs outside, and knows if she looks out the doors, she'll see people watching, though some of them might try to look like they're still working.
She's too happy to care, and she thinks that if it's a show they want, it's a show they'll get. So she greets him as she always does, taking his face in her hands, then kissing him soundly. Whether he shares her thoughts is unclear, but he certainly shares her passion. He returns her kiss full force, his arms wrapping tight around her, pulling her close. It's only a small modicum of dignity, and awareness of her position that makes her pull back. That, and the fact that her office has glass doors, and windows, and humans and Bajorans are far more nosy than shape-shifters appear to be. Plus, she'll still have to live and work with these people after he leaves.
She fears for one brief moment, that he'll be hurt, offended. But he smiles, and she sees that he understands. Even after all this time, he still understands people, sometimes better than they understand themselves. And she relaxes.
There's a brief moment of silence between them, awkward, because they aren't as alone as they usually feel, and this is a different setting. Then she speaks, breaks the silence with mundane, simple words, as she always does when silence falls between them. "You know, everyone's going to want to see you."
"I expect so." He doesn't appear that ruffled by the thought.
"You'll have to beat Quark off with a bar or a phaser. You remember how upset he was when you left."
"He'll get over it, and I expect my wit will suffice. It always has, so far. And Changelings are far more slippery than Quark." There's a gleam in his eye that suggests he's looking forward to the encounter. But then, he always has enjoyed baiting Quark. She's always enjoyed watching him do it. And on some level, she thinks Quark enjoys being baited.
She pauses. "Julian will want to check you. So much exposure to the disease..."
"I was the cure. He knows that." There's a brief flicker of uneasiness there.
"Doesn't mean he won't worry. But just this once, I'll let you turn into a dangerous creature or something, and chase him down the Promenade." She knows he won't take the offer, but it brings a smile to both their faces. For the first few months, she knows he wanted to do exactly that. He really didn't like Bashir at first. But then, neither did she.
There's another silence, and again, she's the one who breaks it. "Just a week, huh?"
"Yes." He sounds sad. "I tried...but...you're only on Homeworld for a week, so..."
"Shh." She places a hand on his mouth, and he stops talking. "It's okay." She smiles. "At least now, I get to see you twice a year. Even if you only come here once."
He nods, but his eyes are still sad. "I wish I could give you more. More time..."
She puts a hand over his mouth again. Time is too short to waste with regrets. "I know. Odo, it's okay. Any time we get to spend together is good. And maybe someday, we'll get more time. After all, they've already given us this much." It's taken years, and she knows very well she might die before the Founders relent so much. But it's hope, and that's really all she needs. She's had practice waiting for impossible dreams and, lucky her, she's even seen some of them come true. More of them than she would have expected, when she started as a Resistance fighter.
After a moment, he bows his head, acknowledging her words. Then he takes her hand, and kisses her fingertips. A small smile quirks one corner of his mouth. "I was thinking, perhaps we might go to see Vic, this evening. Maybe have a little dancing."
She smiles back. "I'd like that. I'm scheduled off at twenty-hundred, but I think the station commander will let me off early, if I get all my paperwork done quickly."
He shares her delight, that little bit of mischief and laughter that hangs between them. "I'm sure she will. After all, I'm sure you can convince her it's for a good cause."
They share laughter, and she contemplates the idea of pulling the 'visiting ambassador' trick, and leaving early, paperwork be damned. It's tempting. A little too tempting, actually, it could become a bad habit. So she smiles. "You're right. I'm sure I can." She touches his face. "Pick me up at my quarters, twenty-thirty."
He blinks. "I thought..."
"I know. But I want to get dressed up. It's a special occasion." She never does dress up, when she visits him, but then, there's no proper setting for it, and she can't change clothes the way he does. And here, in a place where she can change, where she can look beautiful, she wants to dress up. He always looks at her like she's the most beautiful thing in the world, but she wants to see that special light in his eyes. The way he looked at her when they first danced together. She smiles into his eyes, gives him a quick kiss on the cheek. "After all, something like this only happens once a year."
Author's Note: I couldn't help it. They're just such a great couple.
yes, the tense wanders a bit. I know. But it's sort of a wandering bit of a story, so I hope you'll forgive me, just this once. I don't usually do present tense.