Julian wondered why he had ever thought this would work. Why would talking to Dax about Dax help him figure everything out?
"I know that look," Kira/Jadzia said when Julian hesitated. "You've got a girl, don't you? Who is it?"
"Well, I'm not actually sure you can help me with this one…"
"It's Ezri, isn't it?"
"How did you know?" he asked.
Jadzia gave him her "come on, this is me we're talking about" look, one eyebrow cocked and her head tilted a bit.
"I always know," she said.
Julian had to give her that.
"Am I really that obvious?"
"I'd bet you ten slips of latinum that Miles knows, too," she said.
"Fine. Since you know so much, are you going to help me?"
"What seems to be the problem?" she asked, moving to sit down on the couch. "Ezri seems like a nice, easy-going girl." Julian joined her on the couch, thinking about where to start.
"I'm just not sure if it's going to work," he said. "We're really good friends and, honestly, I'm really afraid to ruin that."
"Julian." Jadzia looked him straight in the eye, never wavering. "When does life ever give you a second chance?"
"I suppose it doesn't, but-"
"Don't throw it away," she said, her voice serious. "Second chances are a very rare thing. When you're lucky enough to get one, you need to use it for all its worth."
He leaned back on the couch, thinking about what Jadzia had said. Dax was a sort of second chance, an opportunity to get another shot at things. Besides, Jadzia and Ezri were very different people. Just because things had never worked out with Jadzia didn't mean that he shouldn't at least try for something with Ezri.
"Living is about taking risks," Jadzia continued. "So take the risk. Think about what you might miss out on if you don't. It just might be worth it."
Julian was silent for a moment before saying,
"I'll think about it. Thanks."
"You're welcome, as always." Jadzia gave him her signature smile and he said,
"It really is so good to see you again."
"It's good to see you, too, Julian."
Ezri returned to find Julian and Jadzia reminiscing about Worf's bachelor party and how the men had been forced to carry large sticks around the station for a few days.
"I just couldn't wait to throttle the both of you," he said with a laugh as Ezri entered.
"I'm glad you two are having fun," she said.
"How was your walk?" Jadzia asked.
"Refreshing," Ezri answered with a small head nod.
"I don't mean to steal Jadzia," Julian said.
"Well, there are some more people who want to see her," Ezri said. "They're waiting at Quark's. Want to go?"
Jadzia smiled and answered, "I'd love to."
"This one's to old friends," Benjamin said as he lifted his glass of Synthale.
"Old friends," the others answered and drank. The entire senior staff had assembled at Quark's to see Jadzia.
Quark leaned across the bar, saying,
"Since you're here, it's time to pay up on that last game of Tongo."
"I believe it is you who owes me," she said.
Quark waved his hands in defeat and said,
"Ah, who remembers anyway? Just to show my goodwill, that drink is on the house."
Jadzia leaned over to Ezri and said,
"Same old Quark. He'll try to cheat you out of everything you own, but his heart is bigger than the Alpha Quadrant."
Julian leaned in toward Ezri from the other side and added,
"But don't ever let him hear you say that."
"Point taken," Ezri said.
"It's so nice to be here," Jadzia said, looking around Quark's fondly.
"It's so nice to have you here, Old Man," Benjamin said, coming up behind her stool at the bar and putting a hand on her shoulder. "I never expected this to actually happen."
"Me, either," Jadzia said. "I think it's only right to toast Ezri."
"No, that's not necessary," she said immediately, waving the suggestion away like a bothersome insect.
"No, I insist," Benjamin said. They lifted their glasses and Julian said,
"To new beginnings."
Jadzia smiled at Ezri as she repeated,
"To new beginnings."
Odo looked up from the criminal activity report he was reading when he heard the security office door open. Kira walked through the door, shaking out an arm and fixing a crick in her neck.
"Glad to have your body back?" he asked fondly, putting down his report as Kira came around the desk toward him.
"Definitely," she said. "I forgot how weird it is to have someone else in control of it."
Odo gave her a gruff laugh and Kira leaned down to kiss him.
"I'm sure you're glad to have me back," she said with a small smile, sitting on his desk. "Although, I'm sure it was nice to see Jadzia again."
Something in her expression made Odo take her hand.
"It was good of you to do that," he said. "To sacrifice being with her so that everyone else could."
Kira nodded, looking down at their joined hands as she said,
"I guess it just reminded me how much I miss her."
Now Odo looked at their hands, squeezing hers affectionately before bringing it to his lips and kissing it.
"I'm glad that Ezri decided to stay," she said. "At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but now I'm glad. In a way, we still have Jadzia with us. And, somehow, that makes it a little better."
Odo looked at her and said,
"Then, I'm glad, too."
"Those were an interesting few days," Julian said to Ezri as they strolled on the Promenade the following afternoon. "Have you recovered yet?"
She smiled at his joke and said,
"They were definitely interesting. It's a bit strange to have conversations with the people who live inside me all the time."
"I would think so," he said. They ambled next to the big windows and Julian looked out just as the wormhole opened. They stopped to watch it and Ezri said,
"It must have been nice to see Jadzia again. I know you two were close friends."
"We were." Something in him wanted to add "We are."
They stood there, looking out at the stars and allowing the silence to sit comfortably between them.
"She had a lot of good friends," Ezri said softly. "There are a lot of good people here. I think I understand now why I decided to stay."
Julian hesitated, then said just as quietly,
"I'm glad you did."
Something in Julian's voice made Ezri look at him, at the unreadable expression on his face. He didn't turn to look at her, even though he could feel her gaze, but kept looking straight ahead when he said,
"I have something I need to tell you."
The counselor part of Ezri's brain turned on immediately and she blurted out,
"Take your time."
Now, he turned to look at her. He looked more scared than she'd ever seen him. Even in the midst of battle or surgery, she'd never seen this particular expression on his face. Her heart started to beat faster.
"Ezri, I really care about our friendship, but I think…"
When he didn't continue, she said,
With a jolt of impulse, he took her face in his hands and kissed her full on the mouth.
Ezri was stiff at first, from the shock of it, but she relaxed into it and was surprised by how natural it felt. When he let her go, she looked up at him and said,
"That was unexpected."
He laughed – at her directness, at his nerve, and at how wonderful it all felt.
"So," she said, "I suppose…"
Julian shook his head and said,
"Maybe we should start with something a little simpler. Would you like to go to dinner with me tonight?"
Ezri smiled and said,
"I'd love to."
From the Author:
You made it! I made it! A huge thank you to everyone who stuck it out through this story! I know there was a huge hiatus. College and life got in the way and I had no time to myself, but I always loved this story and I really wanted to do it justice. I'm happy that I could finally finish it and that it still has some readership. This is actually the longest fanfiction piece that I've ever written. DS9 is a series near and dear to my heart and I feel honored to be able to contribute to the fandom. So, to all your DS9 lovers out there – thanks for reading and commenting and just being awesome. I hope that I didn't leave anything out and that this story wrapped up in a way that made your little DS9 hearts happy. :)