Disclaimer: All characters owned by Paramount.

Author's note: Written for the Resurrection, Rebirth, Renewal challenge at Celestialtempl. Five different ways Winn Adami encounters the concept.

Timeline: First drabble set pre-show, last drabble set in the show's finale, the others set in between.


Faith Manages

I.

"The love of the Prophets," Bareil once told Winn, "is unconditional."

As with so many other things, Bareil had no idea what he was talking about.

Winn spent five years in a Cardassian Labour Camp because she had seen what most of the other Vedeks refused to acknowledge. Bajor was alone, utterly alone, and couldn't possibly hope to rival the Cardassian superiority in technology. But faith was a powerful weapon, too, if used properly.

"If we teach that the Prophets will reward those who kill Cardassians, any Cardassians, with paradise, and damn all who refuse to join the fight, we do have a chance to defeat them,"Winn said to Kai Opaka, who looked shocked and declared that the Prophets' gift was renewal, rebirth and resurrection, not death, and that to wilfully misinterpret their words was a grave sin besides.

"Do not presume to speak for them," she said sternly. "Listen instead to what they have to say to you. Open yourself to their love."

After being arrested for teaching the creed of holy war nonetheless and subjected to the beatings, drudgery and hunger of camp life, Winn decided to try Opaka's way and waited for the Prophets to love and heal her. By the time the Cardassians withdrew, she was still waiting.

Obviously, some things did not come without conditions.


II.

Shedding the red robes of a Vedek and being dressed in the golden robes of the Kai was supposed to be a ceremony of renewal. Winn did everything according to tradition. She ordered her old robes to be used to dress beggars in the street. She gave away her personal furniture, as was the custom for the Vedek elected in the Choosing.

The Kai was to enter her new residence as one reborn, and spending an hour of meditation in front of an orb, naked and alone, before the new robes and possessions that came with the office were brought was intended to reflect this. It was an odd experience. Winn had not expected to freeze; she had expected the glow of victory to compensate for anything else. After all, she had finally become what she had been born to be. She didn't even feel vengeful towards those foolish individuals who had presumed to stop her from being the Kai Bajor needed. Why should she, when they themselves were so apt to choose their own punishment? If Kira Nerys had not been so convinced of her own righteousness and Winn's flaws, Winn would never have been able to fashion the young woman into the instrument with which Bareil could be defeated. Yes, everything had ended most satisfactorily.

But she still felt cold, and otherwise not different than on the day before, and the day before that. There was no exaltation, no enlightenment, no communion with anyone. The Prophets still did not talk to her.

There was no renewal.


III.

"You'll never forgive him for having shown the faith you lack," Kira had declared, eyes blazing, full of righteous fury as usual, and Winn could only marvel at the extent of Kira's delusion.

The truth was that neither the Emissary nor Kira would forgive Winn for saving the Emissary's son and Kira herself from certain death. Both the boy and Kira had been doomed to die as soon as the Pagh Wraith and the Prophet had entered their bodies. They had been walking corpses, and neither Prophet nor Pagh Wraith had shown the slightest inclination to spare them. They had demanded the boy and the Major as their sacrifices, and were determined to use them up as they saw fit.

Foiling their will, resurrecting those walking corpses from the dead had not just been charity on Winn's part, true. In some ways, it had been common sense. If his son had died, the Emissary would have lost what sanity he had left. Winn knew very well that this would not have stopped the Bajorans from listening to him, and so she had to act to save her people. There had also been the small pleasure of knowing Kira and Sisko would be in her debt, even if they would never acknowledge as much.

But her main reason was simple. By their choice of Kira as their vessel and sacrifice, the Prophets had shown they were still not ready to talk to Winn.

She had to get their attention in some way.


IV.

Stepping out of the robes of the Kai was the easiest part, surprisingly. Watching them burn warmed her, and Winn laughed. Next she loosened her hair from its tight coils, and the sensation almost brought tears to her eyes.

"I've never seen you look so radiant," Dukat said. She smiled at him. Very soon, he would die as he deserved to, and she hated him more than she had ever hated anyone else in her life, which was saying something. But she was grateful to him as well. As opposed to all her other enemies, he actually had given her something back. Since her discovery of his disguise, she had not shared her bed with him again, yet now, as his time was running out, so did her revulsion. Following an impulse, she kissed him, hungrily.

So strange, to finally taste what she had been waiting for all her life in the fire that burned all her previous hopes away. Still, she had never been more sure about anything. The dizzying sense of freedom, the hate consuming her and the expectancy pounding in her, what else could it be but the start of being reborn at last?


V.

So it came to this. Being rejected by Pagh Wraiths and Prophets alike, Winn lay on the ground, the hard rock under her, body bend and shuddering as if giving birth to the child she had never had. She heard the Emissary arrive in the middle of Dukat's speech, heard him start to make pronouncements of his own and silently cursed the fate that had brought both of these men to Bajor. If Dukat was mad, Sisko wasn't much better. How much of a fool did he have to be to come here alone?

She watched him sink on his knees in front of Dukat, and only then did she realize where this was all leading to. The universe truly had a horrible sense of humour. True, she could refuse, just as she had been refused. But then what would be the point? To live in a world where the Pagh Wraiths ruled through Dukat? To be a servant at best, or a prisoner all over again? No.

Winn waited a moment longer to see if the Prophets would do anything for their Emissary. It didn't truly surprise her anymore that they appeared to leave him at Dukat's tender mercies. Then she forced herself to rise. Not for the Prophets, not for the Pagh Wraiths; not even for ambition or revenge. Bit for bit, inch by inch, she resurrected herself as Bajor's saviour.