Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events. Lyrics at the end from "All the Way" and the respectful property of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

Author's Note: Jointly inspired by a recent re-watch of "To the Death" and StoryWeaver56's fabulous Odo piece, One Touch, this piece came into existence the moment I caught Worf's hand on Jadzia's back as they entered the compound. And I wondered...why did Worf do that? Takes place roughly 5 days after the events of season 4's "To the Death."


Only a Fool Would Say
by Dax's10thHost

The raktajino I sip is hot enough to burn even a Klingon's tongue, but I barely notice. There is only one thing I feel, and that is the strong, comforting warmth of a hand upon my back. A hand that hasn't contacted the black of my uniform for nearly five days, but a hand whose touch has never left my mind all the same.

It's been five days, and I still can't make myself forget.

In truth, the heat of its splayed fingers burns into my flesh, keeping me conscious of it every waking hour. Nothing I do—whether I eat, drink, laugh, work, or exercise—can erase the ceaseless tingling between my shoulder blades, nor dismiss the thoughts roaming through my mind.

If it hadn't been so long since it happened, I could force myself to believe it was nothing. After all, it lasted hardly a second, and was so insignificant that my mind barely registered it at the time. Only later, as I stood in a shower on board the Defiant, scouring the filth of battle from my skin, did I remember and allow my mind to wander along the maze of possibilities the touch presented.

No, I amend, taking another swallow of my coffee, the maze of fantasies. You're a fool, Jadzia, making something out of nothing.

I run through the memories again, as if their hundred and first reviewal will convince me of their insignificance.

...

We beamed down to the planet, intent upon our goal. The knowledge that for some, or all, of us, this was our last beam-out was never far from our minds. We were silent, grim, fixed upon the two possibilities before us: succeed…or die.

Our phaser rifles soon proved useless that close to an active Gateway, and the science officer in me cursed the oversight. Of course the rifles wouldn't work! But I had no time to apologize, for a company of Jem'Hadar soldiers materialized in front of us, and the breathless struggle of combat soon robbed me of all thoughts outside survival.

When the air cleared, nausea swept over me at the sight of so many Jem'Hadar bodies sprawled about, mingled with the lifeless ones of Starfleet's own. Why must this happen? my mind cried out, once again stricken with the futility of battle. But no one answered, and I found myself looking to Benjamin, watching as he hoisted a Kar'takin, and witnessing the determination on his face. Words weren't needed to express his orders; we all read them, written across his brown eyes, and knew what he expected of us.

And so we ran for the compound, beating back enemy soldiers even as they un-shrouded before our eyes. An endless stream of scaled hides and bared teeth, of whirling limbs and gleaming Kar'takins, all with the sole intent of neutralizing the threat we posed. It seemed that for every Jem'Hadar I killed, another leapt in front of me to replace him. And I had no choice but to fight back. To kill.

"Jadzia…every time you kill someone, a piece of you dies with them." I'd hoped never to understand Kira's words, so haltingly whispered to me that day in Ops two years ago, but as they echoed through my mind, I did. With horrifying clarity, I, Jadzia, knew the truth of her words, just as Torias had come to realize them decades before Jadzia was born.

Maybe it was the scale of such violence that got to me, or maybe it was the fact that the last face-to-face killing I'd done was over two years ago, when the Klingons and I had attacked the Albino's stronghold. Either way, this was not my calisthenics program, and the Jem'Hadar bloodying my weapon were not holographic projections of force fields and light that would vanish the moment they hit the ground. No, they were real, sentient beings, and killing them made my stomach turn. It didn't matter that the Founders had bred them for the sole purpose of killing—they were living creatures, humanoids, and I was robbing them of that life.

The violence, the screams of the dying, the sudden onslaught of murder—whatever it was, I wanted it to cease, and to cease then. And so, as our company ducked into the compound, I covered them, anxiously awaiting my turn. Sisko, O'Brien, the security officers, a stream of our Jem'Hadar allies—they all ran, one after the other, through the door. I glanced at Worf.

A bag, really Odo in disguise, was slung over his shoulder, and the blade of his Kar'takin ran dark with rivulets of Jem'Hadar blood. Meeting my gaze, he jerked his chin toward the compound. I nodded and made for the door, knowing he would cover my retreat. Just as any Starfleet officer would in a combat situation.

I thought nothing of it, only raked my eyes across his as I turned the corner, preparing to duck into the darkened embrace of the unknown. There was a jam of bodies in the door, Jem'Hadar maybe, I can't be sure, so I had to stop. It only took half a second for them to clear the doorway. Half a second of hesitation, just the briefest of stumbles in my stride. But in that half a second, something happened that I'll never forget for as long as I live.

I was trapped, unable to escape the killing, the murder, the sight of the dead piled one atop the other, a gruesome tangle of bloodied limbs and vacant eyes. My panic was swift and nameless, and welled inside me, Jadzia, as surely as it welled inside the part of me that had been Torias, the young soldier who had seen countless battles and still come away with shadows cloaking his eyes.

The heat of a body bearing down on me sent my internal alarms off, but before I could swing around to defend myself, I felt a hand on my back, and knew its owner held no threat. As I spilled past the doorframe and into the cool, dim compound and the hand slid away, I realized whose it had been.

Worf's.

...

It was a touch—one touch. A single, unconscious movement of bone and sinew exacted in the heat of battle. Nothing more, and certainly something less than what I've made it out to be for five interminable days.

And still, here I sit in my quarters on DS9, sipping raktajino and daydreaming about the feel of Worf's hand upon my back.

I don't understand why I indulge these emotions, or replay these memories. I can't pinpoint what exactly sends a bolt of adrenaline through my heart, nor do I understand what aspect of the touch makes my face flush with such excitement. Why is it that when I stand in front of a mirror, I see two sparkling blue eyes staring back at me, filled with a hope I dare not even express? Since when did my feelings toward Worf make the leap from exasperating friend to potential mate?

Joined Trill don't involve themselves in romance—in fact, they distance themselves from it, whenever possible. I used those words as an excuse to turn Julian down for good four years ago, but it was a legitimate one. Most of my past married hosts wed their spouses prior to their Joining with Dax. Of course, Emony and Curzon were never ones to swear off romance altogether, as the more serious hosts did, but neither did they consider marriage after Joining. For Emony, there was her career, and Curzon…well, who knows what Curzon thought? I am Curzon, in a sense, and I still can't understand all his paths of reasoning. Still, the fact remains—Joined Trill rarely marry.

So why am I making such a big deal out of a hand on my back?

Maybe…maybe it's because I want to make something of it. Perhaps, somewhere inside me, I want Worf's touch to have meant something. Is my heart trying to tell me that I'm falling for him? And…that he possibly holds similar feelings towards me? Or am I grasping at the proverbial straws here, trying to make the incident into something it wasn't? But if I'm doing that—fantasizing—that doesn't explain why I am.

Could it be that somewhere, amidst all the arguments over Klingon opera, the merits of the bat'leth versus the mek'leth, and the head-shaking at the other's choice of drink, something deeper than friendship has taken root? Did my quest for a decent, flesh-and-blood sparring partner end with Worf simply because he was a Klingon…or for another reason? Why do I spend so much time with him? Even Benjamin has remarked on our friendship, and Kira's wondered aloud what on Bajor do I see in him.

True, he's arrogant, and cranky, and cares far too much about honor and protocol to relax and enjoy himself, but still…that's half the fun of spending time with him. He's so stiff that I can't help but rattle his cage. I love to tease and tease him until he's so flustered that his defenses drop, and I catch a glimpse of the real Worf. The Worf who is a lonely outcast of Klingon society, who loves his heritage passionately, and longs to feel accepted somewhere. The Worf who is embarrassed at the slightest misconception, who adheres to protocol and honor because he feels they are the only reliable aspects of his life. And the Worf who I suspect, beneath all the Starfleet regulations and Klingon bravado, secrets a tender heart meant only for his par'machkai.

It's those glances, those snatches of Worf's character, that draw me to him, that dismiss my frustrations and invite him repeatedly to the holosuite to run the calisthenics program with me. And it's because of them that I sit here on this couch, with cold raktajino in my cup, analyzing the emotions and memories dancing within me.

So…what did Worf's hand on my back mean? Does he see me as simply a sparring partner, the only being on the station who has proven to match his skill in Klingon martial arts? Or does he harbor feelings for me—feelings that I myself am just beginning to realize? Am I someone he merely tolerates for my knowledge of Klingon culture, or a friend he looks forward to seeing…a friend he hopes might one day become…more?

I don't know.

But who can predict what the future holds? It just might be that someday, I'll be the one to capture the tender, hidden heart belonging to Lieutenant Commander Worf, son of Mogh, warrior of the Empire. Perhaps I'll be the one who can make his eyes light up just by walking into a room. The one who can get him to smile, the one who teases him until he sounds that exasperating sigh…the one who turns to him and sees his eyes smiling, smiling back at me.

That one.

And maybe…just maybe, he'll someday call me his par'machkai.

But who knows? I smile, staring into the tepid depths of my coffee, and the closing words to my favorite song drift through my mind.

For who knows where the road will lead us? Only a fool would say…

Finis