FINALITY

by Farfalla

blueberrysnail (at) yahoo.com

Kira/Odo fic, rated G. Thank you, Chris and Hypatia, for the beta!

Colonel Kira Nerys stood before her prayer mandala, still as a sapling in a windless garden. Soon, she would begin the nightly ritual that began with meditation, then a warm mug of ginger tea, and concluded with falling asleep over a chapter of the vacuous Terran novel she'd been reading. It was a comfortable pattern, a safe order that had filled the emptiness left by absent friends.

She knew exactly what shape the emptiness had, or rather, that it had no shape at all. It was exactly the dimension of that dimensionless being who for so brief a time had shared her world in an open and honest love. Her days were busy with her important work as station commander, and her nights were occupied with the banal activities that distracted her from her sense of loss.

She'd lost much. That had been a constant throughout her life. But usually the loss had been through death, and though traumatic, the finality of death provided a beginning for each individual period of healing. With Odo it was different.

With Odo--he'd left, but he was alive, and could return to her at any minute, or never at all. There could be no healing, because the future was uncertain. If she knew he was never coming back, she could mourn and miss him and finally just move on. She could deal with it. If she knew for certain he'd come back, it would have been easier to live these months. His immediate presence was not required, but the prospect of his definite return would calm her spirits.

Instead, what was this? Her nights gave her the torture of fulfillment in dreams. They had become so frequent that even within their misty boundaries, she feared the fickleness of reality. The dreams grew harder to handle as they became less far-fetched. One morning, she had actually thought he was beside her in the bed when she awakened. The sinking feeling of realizing he was not had been swept away by the bustling energy of Ops, but one could not work through every hour of the day.

The meditation helped. Thank goodness for prayer.

But this night, the door chimed before she was able to begin. Already relaxed by the warm glow of the candles, she blinked a few times before coming back to her senses and responding. "Come."

She turned to face the opening door. Light poured in around the silhouette of an Andorian holding a bulky object in one hand. "Colonel Kira?"

"Yes?" She stepped into the doorway, suspicious of the interruption.

"Delivery service," said the Andorian, and shoved the tissue-paper-wrapped mass into her waiting arms.

"Thank you..." Kira found herself standing in her open doorway staring at the huge bouquet of red roses she now held, as the Andorian walked away down the hallway.

She retreated into her room and shut the door, inspecting the flowers with confusion. One, two--twelve roses, an even dozen. They were a dark, velvety red, with leaves of emerald green, and they were interspersed with tiny white puffs of baby's breath. How strange. Who would send her roses? She didn't even particularly care for flowers--sending botanical curiosities to each other was a human custom, and she had no idea what circumstances would warrant a bouquet of red roses.

Kira was very close to calling the Andorian back and telling him he'd gotten the order mixed up somehow, when she realized there was a small cardboard card attached to the tissue paper wrapping. It was folded in half, and she opened it and read it by candlelight.

"I'm finally home."

Her heart nearly stopped. Roses from Odo... and a message.

With shaking hands, she lifted the roses to her face and inhaled. What a beautiful smell... The lights of the candles blurred into strange golden stars as tears sprang to her eyes, her skin stinging with the cold sweat of fear. This was it. This was her finality. Finally home... never to leave.

At least he had found it. She loved him enough to thank the prophets for that. How long had he sought such a home? Only they that have gone without truly value what they find.

Only they that lose...

If only they hadn't wasted so much time.

She looked down at the flowers, trying to calm her nerves, and realized that some of the tissue paper had slipped. Two thorns poked her hand, and she recoiled from them with sluggish alarm. She was puzzled when she saw no blood--not even a puncture.

Kira studied the roses more closely, and noticed that the leaves were tinged with yellow. Real flowers... obviously these plants had been grown naturally and traveled a long way, and were not the product of a replicator as she had originally assumed. She wondered why Odo had sent roses. He'd always been very generous to her--quiet, but generous--but she didn't even like flowers.

The yellow spread through the leaves.

The yellow spreading through the leaves glowed and sparkled.

The roses drenched their blooms in golden light, and Kira's grip on the bouquet tightened as they expanded and stretched and grew--

"Odo?!" she stammered.

Her hands now held him by the shoulders, and she almost shook with wonder as his form approached the floor and began to support itself.

"What the--Why didn't you tell me you were--Oh!"

Kira cradled him in her arms, tightly now, as he completed his transformation before her gaze.

"I did," he reminded her with soft calm, rubbing the tense muscles of her back with one hand. His eyes twinkled in a reassuringly familiar blue. "Didn't I say I was home?"