Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events.
Author's Note: Set within the conclusion to the season 6 finale, "Tears of the Prophets," immediately before Sisko leaves the station for Earth. Heavily references season 2's "Blood Oath." Third in the "Jadzia's Legacy" series.
"It's never a good day to lose a friend."
That's what she said to me four years ago, quiet tears running down her cheeks, when she came back from fulfilling the blood oath Curzon had taken with Kor, Koloth, and Kang.
I still remember the day clearly…it was nighttime, actually, right as the gamma shift came on duty. We'd been working for two solid shifts, and all of us were exhausted. But for some reason, she picked that night to open up to me.
I suppose I'd been less than welcoming the two weeks previous. I couldn't quite forgive her for disregarding my wishes. I admit, I didn't carry it as far as I could have; I was her commanding officer—I could have ordered her not to go. But something in her eyes, something—the catch in her voice when she said it—"Don't do it, Benjamin. Don't make me disobey a direct order"—made me stop short of pulling rank on her.
Still, when she left, it hurt. It hurt worse than losing Curzon, in fact. I couldn't understand her that day, or the days she was gone, or even for two weeks after she came back to us, alive and well…or so I thought.
Why would she do that? Why would she nag and argue and insult the Klingons until they let her go with them? It looked to be a suicide mission. No, it was a suicide mission. So why would she go? She was only twenty-nine! Far too young to die. And Dax—Dax was over three-and-a-half centuries old! How could she put so much on the line?
I just couldn't forgive her for that.
So, in light of it all, I suppose I used those two weeks following her return as punishment for putting me through that nightmare. It's no wonder she told me nothing of the incident before she did.
Still, four years later, I can't understand why she told me that night.
Maybe it had all been building inside her, and picked that night to apex. Or maybe I'd let my silent treatment slip a little, given her the impression that I wasn't as angry with her as I'd put on to be (which I wasn't…I don't think). Or maybe she just needed a shoulder to cry on, a friend with which to grieve.
Looking back on it, I think the last is most likely.
All that to say, I still remember switching out with the gamma team and leaving Ops via the turbolift—along with Dax, O'Brien, and Major Kira. O'Brien was headed for the habitat ring—as was I—but Kira wanted to stop at the Promenade, for a visit to the shrine. Dax was silent, which, after two weeks, I'd gotten relatively used to, and I assumed she was headed to her quarters, as well. She didn't seem in the mood to play tongo with Quark and his lackeys. So I was surprised when she turned to me and asked if I'd like to grab something at the Replimat with her. Something in her eyes—a glimmer of desperation—and the tiniest hitch in her voice, breached my angry wall and made me say yes.
And so there we were, at a corner table at the Replimat, nursing our respective drinks. I'd chosen some neutral tea or another, I can't remember what exactly, but I do remember what Jadzia got. She ordered a raktajino, straight. No sugar, no cream. It was then that I really knew she had something on her mind. And it wasn't Quark's newest tongo strategy or Bashir's latest attempts at flirtation.
It didn't take long for her to break down. In fact, she dove right into it, just started spilling out the story, like she couldn't stand to hold it in any longer. She told me about Kor, and the way she'd had to dig and dig to find his Klingon pride. She talked of Koloth, and his brusque, almost impatient, manner with her. She admitted the anger and disquiet it stirred in her to realize that he thought of her as only a little girl, and not worthy of Curzon Dax's legacy. She detailed Kang's despair, his reluctant confession that the mission was a suicide run, a way to die honorably in battle, rather than dishonorably in an invalid's body.
She didn't cry until she came to the part about facing the Albino. Her eyes glistened as she repeated the taunts he'd thrown at her; the first tears fell when she came to her indecision, the icy claw she'd felt gripping her belly. By the time she came to Kang's death, her face was wet with tears.
But you have to realize something. Her tears fell faster, and she had to stop every now and then to swallow past the pain in her throat, but they were never excessive. She never crumbled into sobs, never collapsed into a heap on the deck plates. She just sat there and cried…quietly, letting the tears stain her pale, taut cheeks.
"It's never a good day to lose a friend," she said, and then fell silent.
It nearly broke my heart.
And now…now, four years later, I'm left standing in her shoes, with tears of my own running down my cheeks. If twenty-nine was too young to die, thirty-four seems even younger. She wasn't even thirty-four yet. She was thirty-three; he birthday isn't until next month. She wanted a baby. She wanted one so badly—I could see it in her eyes when she told me, just hours before I made the decision to leave her in command of DS9. She was going to be a mother, was going to get the child she so desperately wanted.
She told me that night, four years ago at the Replimat, that she would name her first son Kang, in honor of him. But now…now she never will.
And so I'm left facing tomorrow, knowing that I'm not strong enough to carry on and keep being the man I've been for the past six years…ten years…twenty. I'm not ready to walk out that door and face my crew, my friends, my son, and tell them I'm all right, I'm recovering, that I'm not dying from the inside out. I'm not capable of shouldering the responsibilities of father, Emissary, captain, and grieving friend.
I'm left sitting here, alone.
Without Jennifer, without the Prophets, without Dax.
You were right, old man: It's never a good day to lose a friend.
"Computer, end log."
Benjamin Sisko raised his head and rubbed his eyes, as if massaging them would make the pain in his heart go away. He felt the tears tracking his smooth, dark cheeks, and attempted to smear them away. It was a useless gesture; they just dried, stickily, like fruit juice would on a toddler's fingers.
He rose, shouldering his travel bag, knowing that he could wait no longer. Jadzia was gone, dead. Her memorial service had ended hours ago, with the tearful scattering of friends and relatives. Dukat, her killer, had vanished, and no one remained to punish for his friend's senseless death.
It was over.
But in his heart, Benjamin knew that it really wasn't over. His grieving had only just begun, and it would take months, if not years, for him to absorb the loss of his dearest friend. Perhaps even a lifetime.
Curzon had been his mentor. But Jadzia…Jadzia had been his friend.
And it was never a good day to lose a friend.