"Zahn ti Zeltan"

By Allronix

DS9 - V, angst, JD POV

Summary: "Guardians call it Zahn ti Zeltan - literally "ancestor and heir." According to them, the *Kiva Zahn,* or past Host, watches over and aids the Host-heir, the *Kiva Zeltan.*  The relationship can be one of hate and fear as the ghost torments the heir (usually in the case of an unworthy Host), or it can be one of great, benevolent love."

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the guys in question. I just doodle these fanfic pieces between calls.

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Being dead is strange. The scientist in me wants a PADD and stylus to record the myriad of observations I'm making. I am not walking among the honored Klingon dead in Sto'va'kor - a fact my widower would be disappointed to hear. There are no angels or demons as I heard Benjamin describing them. And I am not facing Kele and Tosa in judgment, being sent to the Great pool to be reborn or to be forgotten on the Winds as was taught to me as an Initiate.

The closest description of this afterlife was something I heard from Nerys a few years ago. I had to call her to OPS for some reason and found her in the Bajoran temple, arms out and a smile on her face, whispering something in her home dialect to a presence I couldn't see. I turned off my translator. One thing you learn in 300 years - eavesdropping on prayers is worse then rude. Nerys told me that she had been speaking with Bariel, telling him that she would miss him, and promising him that she would love again.

She explained that when a Bajoran dies, they wander as spirits to find those they loved or needed to make amends with in life, and only pass to the Celestial Temple after the apologies and good-byes have been properly made.

Well, maybe the afterlife is divided up into localities as well. It's annoying that there isn't a way to test the theory. However, I have said my good-byes and apologies. Some of my friends would never acknowledge it. They probably will only call it dreams, even if I can see the grief in their eyes fading. Nerys wished me well, and asked me to give Bariel her regards. At the other extreme, my darling and stubborn husband holds on to his pain. He will until he chooses not to and not a moment before. It's his way.

So, why am I still here?

Another theory comes to mind. There were times when I was newly-Joined that I could have sworn I heard Curzon in the same room. Sometimes, the feeling would be so vivid that I could smell the tanna-leaf pipe smoke that he'd been fond of, or hear his gruff chuckle over my shoulder. It's normal, they say, a sign of the Symbiont adjusting to a new Host.

Guardians call it Zahn ti Zeltan - literally "ancestor and heir." According to them, the *Kiva Zahn,* or past Host, watches over the Host-heir, the *Kiva Zeltan.*  The relationship can be one of hate and fear as the ghost torments the heir (usually in the case of an unworthy Host), or it can be one of great, benevolent love.

I didn't know you in life, but I think you're why I'm still here. Ezri, my Kiva Zeltan, please know that you don't have to be afraid of me. You may think that I hate you, but I don't. I have come to know that great love the Guardians speak of.

At first, I didn't know what to make of you. I know you didn't go through the Program, and that you would never have been Joined at all if Dukat's attack hadn't damaged Dax at the same time it killed me. I also know why you agreed. It wasn't arrogance or the thought of obtaining honor - those never crossed your mind. You agreed to save a life, no matter what the cost to you.

Oddly enough, you remind me a great deal of Julian in that regard. You had better take care of him, or I will haunt you. I see how you look at each other, and it amuses me at the same time it makes me very sad. I see you dance around each other and keep things unsaid for my sake. Look, I'm dead, and if there was a way to tell you two that I give my blessing, I certainly would have already.

I wonder if you sense me there. I see you shiver when I touch your shoulder, so I'm guessing that you can. I've seen you caress that silver barrette of mine that you rescued from the pawnshop after Worf donated my personal effects, asking for forgiveness in the sibilant colonist dialect you speak.

When you tried to save Worf from his suicide mission, I was there with you. You went to save him not necessarily out of feelings you had for him - you knew you were too confused - but because you felt you owed it to me. I know about your Reassociation and am angrier with him than with you, especially with how he treated you afterwards. The night you came home from the Breen ship and cried yourself to sleep, wracked with guilt and shame, I held you as the sobs followed you into slumber. You didn't know that I already forgave you.

Each day I see you growing more settled, finding your strength. I see you use the memories you inherited to say wise words of consolation and advice to the shattered souls coming home from the front. I see my friends and loved ones adjust to having a new Dax around, and hear the laughter and joy that is so precious in these awful times. I see you watch over them -part out of the healer's instinct that I didn't have, but you have in abundance, and part because they're your family now, too.

I'll watch over you best I can, Kiva Zeltan. I didn't know you in life, but I do know you now. Despite what you think, I'm honored that you said "yes." I'm glad that Dax has a brave and gentle Host that earned the right not because of a Board's say-so, but because she possessed the courage and strength to honor the spirit of Joining. I'm glad that you're here, even knowing the dangers, looking out for others.

And I hope that you will someday know how proud I am of you. Maybe after that, I can rest.

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