Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Thank you to all the people who reviewed this story, and sorry for the long time between updates.
6 years later
I ordered Vulcan tea from the replicator and glanced around the Replimat for an empty table. Most of the people here were Starfleet officers on a late afternoon break, and I found a table in the corner and read the PADD the teachers had assigned me to study. My mother was on the Promenade, looking around at the various shops, and later, she would have a drink with an old shipmate from the Delaware, a woman named Madison Childress. She knew I was old enough to be left to my own devices for a few hours.
I scanned the Replimat once more and found a Trill and a human deep in conversation. The human struck me as familiar for some reason, and I racked my brain trying to place him. Perhaps father had mentioned a human who commanded Deep Space Nine...
Captain Benjamin Sisko laughed at something the Trill said, and I watched him in fascination. His head was clean-shaven and gleamed in the blue light of the Replimat, and his upper lip and chin were covered in coarse black hair. His eyes were dark and friendly as he said something to his companion, and I let a tiny smile grace my lips, then tucked a loose strand of my long black hair behind my delicately pointed ear. I continued reading in silence for another fifteen minutes.
"Excuse me, miss," I heard a deep, masculine voice say. I looked up at Captain Sisko. "Sorry to bother you, but I need to make sure you're not here alone."
The Trill beside him nodded. "Are your parents around here somewhere?" she asked, a warm, friendly smile on her face. I nodded.
"My mother is on the Promenade. She's shopping."
They smiled. "May we join you?" the captain asked. I nodded politely and set down the PADD.
"So," Sisko said casually, "what brings you to Deep Space Nine, Ms...?"
"T'Hayal," I replied with a bow of my head. "My father is arriving tomorrow after six months on the front lines."
The Trill smiled. "It's good to see family again, isn't it?"
I nodded politely. "I do not know your name, lieutenant," I said softly. She nodded in agreement.
"Ezri Dax. You can call me Ezri."
"Pleased to meet you, Ezri," I said, holding out my hand for her to shake. She took it with a smile and shook it, her grip firm.
"And I'm Captain Benjamin Sisko," the captain said, holding out his hand. I shook it.
"I know," I said softly. "My father has told me stories about you. You were at Starfleet Academy together, and he told me you were captain of the wrestling team."
Sisko smiled. "That's right. Who's your father?"
"Captain Solok. He commands the T'Kumbra."
At my words, Sisko's face fell into shock, but he quickly recovered and adopted a neutral expression. Ezri tilted her head, seemingly intrigued by my statement.
"Your father's a fine captain," Sisko said, filling the silence. I turned my gaze toward him. "I heard he received his second Christopher Pike Medal for Valor last month."
"Yes, he wrote to us about it. I mean to congratulate him when I see him tomorrow."
There was short pause, then Ezri spoke again. "What are you reading?" she asked.
"Basics of Biochemistry and Its Application in Genetics," I reeled off, raising an eyebrow at her. She grinned.
"Do you plan to be a scientist when you grow up?"
"My parents wish for me to be a scientist. My mother was a science officer on the Deleware before she was transferred to the T'Kumbra, but she resigned her commission when I was born. We resided with father on his ship, but since the war started, mother and I have lived on Vulcan."
"Who's your mother?" Sisko asked.
Rather than reply, I nodded behind them, to where my mother was weaving between tables toward us.
"T'Hayal," she greeted with a smile. Sisko twisted around, and I saw his face contort in shock for the second time. Ezri's eyes were wide, and I tilted my head at them. My mother was human, but surely enough inter-species marriages had occurred for this not to be a shock. I got the distinct impression from Sisko's reactions that he didn't particularly like my father, and meeting his family was uncomfortable.
Sisko stood. "Excuse us, ma'am, we were just talking with your daughter."
My mother smiled. "That's my T'Hayal. Tia Valentin, captain," she said, holding out a hand. Sisko took it. "Pleased to meet you, sir."
The captain introduced himself and Ezri, and my mother turned to me. "Are you finished with your studies, T'Hayal?"
I shook my head. "I am nearly finished, but if you wish to have some tea with me, we can discuss what I have read."
Sisko smiled. "You've got a bright daughter, Mrs. Valentin. I hear your husband is coming tomorrow."
"Yes, the T'Kumbra should be here in the morning. Your station is lovely, captain. The merchants are all very friendly and helpful, and I didn't even know there was a Vulcan Embassy here. T'Hayal, have you seen it yet?"
Again, I shook my head. "No, mother, I have not. Do you wish to visit it?"
She smiled and nodded. "If you'll excuse us, captain, lieutenant."
We walked away after I nodded to the two officers, but I caught Sisko's comment as we left. "Would you look at that, old man? Old Solok's got himself a human wife...I wonder how's he handling that emotional handicap of hers."
I turned to mother when we were on the Promenade. "Captain Sisko was markedly uncomfortable when I mentioned Father," I commented lightly, glancing around at the shops and shoppers. The Promenade was colorful and boisterous, and although the sight of so many aliens gathered in one place was fascinating, the noise level made me long for the quiet of our quarters.
"Your father and Sisko didn't exactly see eye to eye at the Academy. But your father, I'm happy to say, has changed considerably since then."
I nodded and followed her to the Vulcan Embassy.
The Bajoran colonel called Sisko in his office, and I climbed the steps to the double doors and waited. The doors opened and I stepped over the threshold, my eyes on the defiant human. He had changed...his hair was shaven off and he sported a goatee, and his face was a little more lined than I remembered. His expression wasn't as displeased as I thought it would be, rather, he was looking at me as if I were a stranger. I nodded my head in greeting.
"Welcome to Deep Space Nine, captain," he said quietly.
"Thank you. Your welcome is acknowledged," I replied calmly. My eyes fell on the chair in front of his desk. "May I?"
"Please," he murmured, gesturing to the seat. I sat down. "It's been a long time," he continued.
"Ten years, two months, five days," I said. He raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Our repair list."
I held out the PADD and he took it from me, setting down the PADD he was reading. He glanced over the list.
"I met your daughter yesterday on the Promenade," he said quietly, not looking up from the list. "She was studying biochemistry, and I swear that girl's not a day over seven."
"T'Hayal is six," I said, a tiny note of pride slipping into my voice. Sisko glanced up, slightly triumphant.
"We can upgrade your inertial dampeners by the end of the day, but to begin to overhaul your warp core would take at least a week."
I was about to retort when I paused. "I would call that inefficient, however...the more time you spend on these repairs, the more time I have to spend with my family. Take all the time you need, within reason."
My fellow captain looked up at me, confusion written in his features. He opened his mouth as if to speak, then snapped it shut and looked back over the list.
"We could probably get you some new impulse manifolds by next week if you like."
"That would be acceptable," I replied quietly. He handed the list back to me and I stood to leave.
"Hold on a minute," Sisko said before I could turn for the door. I looked back at him, then slowly sat back down. He leaned forward, shoving the other PADD out of his way, and rested his elbows on the desk, his eyes fixed on mine.
"I...I don't understand, captain," he said quietly, shaking his head.
"What don't you understand?"
He shook his head harder, and I could sense he was uncomfortable. "You are referring to my marriage," I offered. He looked at me, then nodded.
"You married a human, Solok?" A slight smile was growing on his lips. "And you have a daughter now?"
"Obviously," I replied calmly. "No doubt you find that amusing."
"I find it strange, is all. You of all people..."
I stared at him for a moment in silence. "I consider my wife to be one of the best of your species," I said firmly. "And my daughter has a promising future with Starfleet. My reasons for marrying Tia are my own."
"So your views have changed?" he asked defiantly.
"I believe the answer should be obvious. I do hold that Vulcans have several advantages over others, but my parents' views about your species was wrong." I paused. "If I offended you when we were in the Academy-"
"You don't have to apologize, Solok," Sisko said quickly, as if the thought of my doing so made him immensely uncomfortable. "Let's just forget about the past and move on. Go spend some time with your wife and daughter. After all, that's what we're fighting for here, isn't it?"
I looked down at him, then bowed my head. "We fight for what is ours, captain. Good day."
I left the office, and I could still see his smiling face as I walked back to the ship where Tia and T'Hayal were waiting for me.