Author's Note: Set between "Change of Heart" and "Tears of the Prophets." This is a decidedly bittersweet tale that outlines events leading up to Worf and Dax's decision to have a baby, which, as we all know, never had a chance to happen. It could help if you recall the DS9 episode, "Equilibrium (in which Jadzia learns that one of Dax's previous hosts was a murderer)," and the TNG episode, "Disaster (in which Worf delivers a baby)," but it won't kill this story if you don't. Rated G. Written in the fall of 1998.

Disclaimer: Paramount, er, CBS owns it all. Always will. I accept this.

As Much As Love Asks
by DianeB

Life was entirely too short to waste a single minute.

It might seem ludicrous that someone like Trill host Jadzia Dax would think this. She was already over 356 years old, but if she had learned anything in all those years, she had learned never to take one's life for granted, no matter how many years one was given to live it.

Besides, Jadzia knew it wasn't she exactly who was 356 years old, it was Dax. Even though she was, technically, Dax, she was also not Dax. She was a thirty-year-old host; a host who had almost died in the Soukaran jungle three weeks earlier, after having taken a Jem'Hadar disruptor blast to her gut. The mission was in a shambles by that time, anyway, but she had convinced Worf to continue without her to the rendezvous point to pick up the Cardassian operative.

Although he had started off into the jungle without her, Worf had abandoned the mission and returned for her, disobeying every tidy Starfleet protocol there was, and possibly a few that had yet to be written. As a result, he would probably never be given his own command. She would never tell him she was glad of that; she would only continue to live her life as if each day were her last and to drag Worf right along with her (kicking and screaming in ancient Klingon, no doubt).

Therefore, she had decided. Jadzia wanted to have a baby.

She wasn't at all sure what that might entail, except she had an idea it wouldn't be the easiest thing in the universe. She was a scientist, after all, and Trill/Klingon physiology wasn't exactly compatible, at least not on the baby-making level. She further knew the hardest thing would be convincing Worf himself that this was a good idea.

Worf's idea of family was difficult to identify. Jadzia liked to think she held the number one spot in his heart, but she knew his son, Alexander, came in at a close second, despite their rocky relationship. After that came his foster parents, Helena and Sergey Rozhenko, followed by the faded (but never entirely gone) memory of the headstrong, beautiful, half-Klingon who had mothered Alexander and, lastly, because it was so new, his membership in the House of Martok.

Upon deeper reflection, Jadzia realized the names may not have fallen exactly in that order for Worf, and she certainly knew this was not the entirety of the list, but she also knew it was a total waste of energy to think anymore about it.

Of course, she realized her family did not amount to much more than this; in fact, it was less. But Jadzia was nothing if not determined. She wanted to start her own family, a family with Worf, and she knew Worf would want to, as well. As soon as she convinced him.

First things first. Gather data, study it, and when she had all her ducks in a row, then she would bring it up to her long-suffering warrior husband.

oOo oOo oOo

"Dr. Renhol, how are you?" Jadzia spoke to the face on the viewscreen. There was an obvious hesitancy before the doctor replied. "Jadzia. I'm fine. To what do I owe this call?" The doctor was visibly upset and if Jadzia wanted to be fair, she had every right to be. With a fiendish delight that surely must have come from Curzon, Jadzia found herself allowing the woman to cook in her own terror for a moment, obviously reliving the experiences of a few years back.

oOo oOo oOo

Jadzia had arrived on Trill, accompanied by Benjamin Sisko and Julian Bashir, in a desperate attempt to discover what was causing her hallucinations and violent mood swings. Dr. Renhol had initially tried to blame the wormhole's diametric fields, but this did not sit well with Sisko and Bashir. Jadzia suffered more hallucinations, along with a dangerous drop in her isoboramine levels, which indicated that Jadzia was unable to maintain the symbiont. Dr. Renhol wanted to remove the Dax symbiont, meaning Jadzia would die.

This really did not sit well with the captain and the doctor, and they began to search in earnest for another solution.

After a fair amount of digging, Sisko and Bashir discovered Dax had been joined to a young man named Joran Belar for six months, even though they were unfamiliar with this host. Dax was apparently removed from Joran and placed in Curzon, but all data regarding those six months had been erased from the records at the Symbiosis Commission, including any evidence of Joran being joined in the first place. It was made to look as if Dax had gone directly from Torias to Curzon. The question was why?

In an attempt to help clear up the mystery, they had asked Jadzia to look at a picture of Joran Belar to see if she recognized him. Clearly, she recognized something horrible about the young man's face, because seeing it sent her into neural shock.

Thoroughly alarmed now, Sisko and Bashir dug even deeper, and learned Joran should never have been a host at all. Though a brilliant composer, he was unstable, with a tendency towards violence, and had killed the doctor who recommended he be dropped from the Initiate program. Records were created to reflect Joran was killed while trying to escape after killing the doctor.

It was soon crystal clear to Sisko and Bashir that there were many more suitable hosts than the Sym Com ever revealed, and that even an unsuitable host such as Joran could maintain a symbiont. It was equally clear that Dr. Renhol was prepared to sacrifice Jadzia in order to keep this secret. When confronted, Dr. Renhol confessed to these truths and begged the two men not to go public with this information. They agreed to keep the Trill secret, in exchange for Dr. Renhol's help in saving Jadzia.

In the end, the only way to heal Jadzia was to completely remove Dax's memory block and allow the symbiont full access to Joran's memories. It was a calculated risk, but it paid off. Jadzia was a strong woman, and she was able to withstand the reintegration of Joran's memories with Dax's other memories without her becoming overwhelmed by Joran's violent personality.

oOo oOo oOo

Studying the pale face now before her, Jadzia finally let the doctor off the hook. "Dr. Renhol, please. This is not about Joran, this is only about me and my new husband."

Dr. Renhol actually staggered with obvious relief, reaching her hand out to steady herself on the back of her chair. But she was able to conjure up a brief smile.

"Jadzia, I don't know how closely you've been keeping track, but I want you to know the Symbiosis Commission has been trying to rectify the error we made in keeping information about hosts from the general public. Certainly, there has been outcry at the deception, and we have a very long way to go, but we are trying."

Jadzia was both surprised and relieved. She had purposely not been keeping up with news from Trill, for fear of what she might learn, so this news was heartening indeed. "That's good to hear, doctor."

Dr. Renhol brought the conversation back to the subject at hand. "So, what can I do for you now, Jadzia? You said this call concerned you and your husband?" She raised her eyebrow in question.

Jadzia grinned. "I want to have a baby."

"Well, that's wonderful, and I don't see where it should be a problem. You're a healthy young woman, and there's plenty of room for you to carry both the symbiont and the—"

Jadzia cut her off. "My husband is a full-blooded Klingon and I want to carry the baby to term."

Both of Dr. Renhol's eyebrows shot up in surprise, and Jadzia imagined her spots actually leaped away from her skin for a moment. But she gained her professionalism in an instant, folding her arms across her chest and tsking. "Oh, Jadzia, my dear. At least now I understand why you called. This is another matter entirely."

oOo oOo oOo

"Just a couple of days, Benjamin, a week at most. Things are quiet around here right now, and I'll be back before anyone even realizes I'm gone. I promise." The corners of her mouth turned upward in a trademark grin that Benjamin Sisko hated to see, because he knew he could not resist it.

He couldn't imagine what might be prompting Dax's sudden desire to return home. She did not volunteer the information and he did not ask. The last time she had been to the Trill homeworld, it had not been a pleasant visit, but he had since heard the Symbiosis Commission was genuinely trying, little by little, to inform the population of the things they had learned from their experience with Joran Belar.


Brought out of his reverie by the sound of his name, he lifted his black eyes to meet her twinkling blue ones and knew he was done for. Whatever her reasons, she was right about one thing: the station was quiet now. He knew it would not remain that way for very long and this might well be her last opportunity to visit her homeworld. He reached for his baseball, tossed it into the air and caught it crisply. "All right, Old Man, you can have your week."

"Oh, thank you, Benjamin!" She spun on her heels and disappeared.

oOo oOo oOo

Upon arrival on Trill, Jadzia went directly to the Sym Com's main building and spent her entire first day being poked, prodded, and otherwise studied by Dr. Renhol and her team. They took blood samples, DNA samples, they scanned her (every which way to Sunday), checked and rechecked her isoboramine levels, did a biospectral scan on Dax, and gave her what was possibly the most thorough pelvic examination she had ever received. She had brought along a datapadd containing all of Worf's medical history, and they thoroughly checked that, too. On the second day, Dr. Renhol sat her down for the Serious Talk.

"I suspect your Doctor Bashir will want to begin providing his own series of ovarian resequencing enzymes once you have—" Dr. Renhol smiled, "chatted with Worf about becoming pregnant, so I won't start those now. However, I am going to start a regime of vitamins, antibiotics and genetic suppressants to prepare your body for the demands of carrying a half-Klingon child."

"I understand."

"They will probably make you ill for several days."

Dax smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "I suppose it won't be any different than morning sickness."

"Oh, Jadzia, it will be much different than morning sickness, and you'll still have that to contend with once you do get pregnant. As you know, producing offspring between a Trill and a Klingon, while not impossible, is not the easiest thing to accomplish, particularly in this case, when the one who will carry the child is the Trill. Trills are generally small-bodied humanoids, and you are a classic example of that. Klingons are just the opposite, and Worf is a shining example of that. Their forehead ridges alone pose a particular danger during delivery by anything less than a full Klingon woman.

"There are other options, Jadzia, you know this. Are you sure you wouldn't rather use an artificial womb? Klingon fetuses can be just as aggressive as anything else Klingon! If you carry to term, that will mean at least ten months of pregnancy, possibly more. It is also quite possible you will spend the last half of the pregnancy in bed.

"I would suspect Doctor Bashir will want to deliver by Caesarean section, and I would concur. No matter how well your body is prepared for it, no matter how much care you take throughout your pregnancy, a vaginal birth of a half-Klingon child would put quite a bit of stress on the Dax symbiont." Dr. Renhol asked again. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Jadzia didn't hesitate. "Yes, doctor. I've never been surer of anything else in my life. I know I may not be able to deliver naturally, but right now I just want to get pregnant and carry the baby for as long as I can."

Dr. Renhol knew when she was licked. She slapped her thighs and stood. "All right then, any advance prep we can do to reduce the size of the child and ease the strain on your body can only work to your advantage as well as the baby's. I warn you again, these drugs are powerful, and you will react strongly to them, but the ill effects will only last about a week, and they are vital if you want to have a healthy child and remain healthy yourself."

Jadzia placed her cool hand on Dr. Renhol's arm. "Then let's get to it, shall we?"

oOo oOo oOo

Dax had purposely timed her return to DS9 to occur just at the start of Worf's duty shift. Telling him a fib about her reasons for going to Trill had been easy enough, but keeping her present condition from him would be infinitely harder. If she could have, she would have made sure no one was around to see her arrive, but she knew that would be impossible. So she had asked Kira to meet her at the docking bay, knowing she would need assistance getting back to her quarters.

She had puked once every four hours during the entire 37-hour trip back to the station, unnerving her pilot no end, at the same time swearing him to secrecy. It took some doing to convince him she was not dying of a horrid disease, but he finally promised not to tell a soul and she trusted he would take that promise to his grave.

By the time the runabout was firmly docked, her spots itched, her ears were ringing, her vision blurred, she was feverish, and her equilibrium was shot. But there was no way anyone named Worf, Sisko, Bashir or any of their nosey pals was going to see the shape she was in. She raised herself slowly out of her seat, stumbled against the bulkhead, tried to regain her balance, stumbled again, and just gave up, dropping heavily back into the chair.

"Billy, go see if Kira's out in the corridor, would ya, please? If she is, send her in. If she's not, find her fast."

"Yes, ma'am!" He departed with haste befitting a man who had been given a direct order from his superior, rather than a polite, but strained, request from a slightly chartreuse passenger. If she lived through this, she would have to put a commendation in his records. How would she word that, without giving away the reason why…

"Jadzia?" A cool hand brushed her cheek oh, that felt so good. "Prophets save us, Dax! What in the Nine Orbs is wrong with you? Billy was having a cow!" Kira squatted in front of the Trill, who did not see her because her eyes were pinched shut. Jadzia reached out blindly for Kira's hand.

"Nerys, I'm better than I look, trust me. I should be over this in a few hours. Just get me to my quarters with as little drama and as small an audience as possible, okay? I'll explain when we get there."

"How about if I just request a beam-out—?"

Dax jumped in the chair. "NO, Lord, no! My stomach won't be able to take that." Her stomach, in fact, did not care for the sudden movement she had just made. "Oh…oh, wait, wait…" She pointed weakly to the corner and wanted to say pail, but couldn't force the word out above what was coming up. She leaned over the arm of the chair, as far away from Kira as she could get, and emptied her stomach of the miserable little bit of soup she had tried to eat.

Kira grunted and stood. "This better be good, Jadzia." She brought the Trill to her unsteady feet and tucked herself up under the taller woman, bringing Jadzia's arm over her shoulder to the front and hanging on. "C'mon, then," she huffed in mock annoyance.

Jadzia, for all her reediness, was built like a wall, and Kira staggered a moment under her weight. "Prophets, maybe I should just fling you over my shoulder. How'd that be for drama, huh?" She cursed, using the epithet Miles favored. "Bloody hell, the things I do for my friends." As they progressed slowly out of the runabout, she wrinkled her nose ridge and slapped her commbadge. "Kira to Maintenance."

:::Maintenance. Go ahead, Major.:::

"Qiana, hey, how ya doing? Listen, we're gonna need somebody with a mop and bucket in the Rio Grande pronto. Kira out."

oOo oOo oOo

An hour later, safely in her quarters with a cup of hot tea and feeling much better, Jadzia did not know Kira had gone to the Bajoran temple to say her first prayer for the health of Jadzia and Worf.

oOo oOo oOo

By the time Worf got off duty, Jadzia was pretty much over it. And she was ready to tackle the subject of baby with her husband.

"Worf, can we get holosuite time this afternoon? I feel like some exercise."

"Yes, Jadzia, if you'd like."

When they were facing each other in the holosuite, bat'leths raised, lips curled, she abruptly lowered her weapon and called for the program to change. Both the bat'leths disappeared and big, cushioned couch appeared.

Worf was clearly puzzled. He looked at the couch, then at her, his bushy brows furrowed. "Jadzia, what is going on?"

"Worf, there's something I'd like to talk with you about, but I wasn't sure how to start."

"So you tricked me into thinking you wished to do battle? Very clever, but I fail to understand the reason for such a ruse. Why don't you just start?"

She sat and craned her neck to look up at him. "All right. Let's have a baby."

He couldn't have been more surprised if she had sprouted spotted forehead ridges and began belting out Klingon opera. "WHAT?!"

She smiled in spite of herself; he was so predictable. "Worf, relax. C'mere, sit down and listen to me. I want to have a baby, I want us to have a baby. Now, before any more time goes by. Life's too short as it is, and after what happened in the jungle four weeks ago, I don't want to think one of us might die before we've had a chance to…a chance…"

She could not finish her sentence because Worf had enveloped her face in his big hands and was looking intently at her, searching, she supposed, for some sign that she might be insane.

He surprised her instead, with a question right out of left field. "Why did you go to Trill? And do not tell me another one of your fibs." He released her face.

He's gotcha there, Old Man, she thought, but it didn't matter. It was not necessary to keep it from him any longer. "I went to talk with Dr. Renhol at the Sym Com." She paused, realizing this was going to be harder than she thought. "Turns out it'll take more than ovarian resequencing for us to get pregnant."

"Didn't Doctor Bashir already speak to you about the medical barriers you and I face in trying to conceive a child?"

"Yeah, but there's a, uh, a little more to it than that. Or, well, there was." She shook her head. "No, I guess there still is."

He did not care for her beating around the bush, and she knew it. "Please clarify, Jadzia!"

She explained about the drugs and resulting side affects, but was quick to reassure him she was fine. Except for the resequencing enzymes - and, of course, one other very important ingredient that only he could provide - her body was now in excellent shape to accept a half-Klingon pregnancy and to carry to term, though she did casually add she'd probably have to deliver Caesarean and possibly spend three or four months in bed prior to that.

It was clear that Worf wasn't sure how to respond. He stood, paced away from her, turned, paced back, sat again, and snarled. "Do you realize," he said, slowly, enunciating each word, "how little I know about children?"

She didn't buy that for one second. "About as little as I do, Worf. Has that ever stopped anybody?"

"Jadzia, it is untrue that you know nothing about children. You have Audrid." Audrid, as they both knew, was Dax's fourth host, and she had had two children.

"Worf, Audrid was four hosts ago! I may have her memories, but I don't have any empirical knowledge. She was also head of the Symbiosis Commission and because of that was unable to spend as much time as she would have liked with her children." She fixed him with her blue, blue eyes and delivered her counterpoint. "What about Alexander?"

He growled in near pleasure. Arguing was one thing, but this? This was verbal sparring, something else entirely, and Jadzia knew she was well-matched when it came to her new husband.

"Alexander, as you know, came to me as a little boy, and I could barely admit I was his father, much less care for him. I did not know him before that time. Except for helping you with Yoshi that one time, I have no experience with infants." And then he remembered something, which must have shown on his face, because Jadzia jumped on it.

"Spill it, big man."

"Well…" This time he allowed the corners of his mouth to turn up, knowing he was about to reveal a startling bit of information. "I guess I do have more 'hands-on' experience than you do with infants." He paused for dramatic affect, which he was clearly having. Jadzia was all ears and spots. "I have delivered a baby."

Now it was her turn to exclaim. "WHAT?!"

He went for her jugular. "Molly O'Brien."

How in all the gods' names had she lived on this station, worked with Miles and married Worf without knowing this? "Worf," she hissed through clenched teeth, "you had better tell me this story, and fast, or I swear I'm calling back a bat'leth and killing you."

When her face broke into an ear-splitting grin, Worf figured the threat was a bluff.

So he shared the story of the day the Enterprise-D came into contact with quantum filaments that had crippled the ship. He had been in Ten-Forward, suffering through some down time with Data, Riker, Miles, and a very-pregnant Keiko O'Brien. Just after Miles left for the Bridge, the ship rocked and alarms began blaring.

Since access to the Bridge and Sickbay had been cut off by emergency bulkheads and heavy damage, Riker had casualties brought to Ten-Forward. Before Riker left with Data to try to find a way to Engineering, the Commander assigned Worf to take charge in the lounge. Molly chose that moment to demand to be born, and Worf was the only one available to do the honors.

"The rest, as they say, is history," he finished with a Klingon operatic flourish, reaching behind Jadzia's head to release the barrette that held her hair.

As her thick, dark hair fell around her shoulders, he knew a decision had been made. No matter what the future might hold for them or the station or even the universe as a whole, it was only the here and now that he cared about.

They would have a baby.