"Honor Gives Little Comfort"
Set one year after the Deep Space Nine finale, "What You Leave Behind." Worf has settled into his role as Ambassador, but when he gets close to Martok's daughter Anderel he has decide if he is ready to do what it takes to make his life finally complete. This is the first piece of fanfiction that I've written in almost 10 years. It's the longest single piece I've written and I think it just might be one of my favorites.
Anderel turned towards her door, "Yes, Mother, come in."
Sirella, Lady of the House of Martok entered her daughter's room. It was hard to really call it her room these days, Anderel was rarely home anymore. As it was, she was only there today to gather some things in preparation for another long trip away.
Sirella sat on the bed where Anderel was placing neatly folded clothes into her bags, "I must speak with you about an important matter."
Anderel closed her eyes briefly and sighed. She knew this would be coming soon, "Yes?"
"Since your father became Chancellor, things have been different for our family. We are more than we once were. And because of that, certain things are expected of us."
"Our House is in a very good place right now, obviously. But we are vulnerable. We are a relatively small house, and we need to do everything we can to solidify our position in the Empire. Your father's ascent to power was supported by most, but not all. And we are not powerful enough to defend ourselves if someone wanted to object to his being Chancellor."
"Father has been Chancellor for over a year now and there have been no objections," Anderel replied.
"You are correct. However, that doesn't mean that none will arise."
"So what should we do?" Anderel asked, even though she knew what was coming.
Sirella stood and began to pace, "We need to ally ourselves with another House, one that is large, powerful and has a long-standing tradition. The best way to do that is for one of us to marry into one of the Great Houses."
Anderel sighed, "Who do you have in mind for me?"
"Please understand, my daughter, I only want what is best for you. I only want to see you happy. You are of the age where you should start considering who your mate will be. And if you choose someone from one of the Great Houses, it will benefit you as well as your family."
Anderel continued with her packing, as if her mother wasn't making the biggest decision in her life for her, "I will do my duty, you know that. You do not have to convince me. I know what this means for our family. Now, tell me, who do you have in mind?"
"Kadar, of the House of Je'tel. I have spoken with him and his mother. He is just a bit younger than you, and proved his worth many times during the Dominion War. He captains his own vessel now, so you would barely have to see him."
"What I've always wanted; a husband I'll never see." Anderel said sarcastically.
"It has worked for your father and me for years."
"So when do I get to meet this absent husband?"
"When you return from your work on Earth," Sirella paused; her next statement would not go over as easy as the last ones had, "This is to be your last trip with this job of yours."
Anderel finally turned and looked at her, "What? For what reason? I am allowing you to mate me with a man I do not know and most certainly do not love for the good of the family. At least leave me with the one thing in my life that I actually enjoy. Why must I give that up as well?"
"Ah, so I see where your heart is. I tell you that you are being arranged in marriage, and I get nothing from you. I tell you that you must give up your work and I see the fire in you."
"Why?" Anderel asked again, angrily.
"The Lady of a Great House has many responsibilities. There will be no time for your little hobby."
"Hobby? I have worked very hard to get where I am. I am one of the top anthropologists in the Empire, and I am to give that up so that I can approve marriages and host receptions for my husband?"
Sirella was getting impatient, "At this point I am not asking you. This is your duty as the daughter of the Chancellor. When you return, I will bring you before the Lady of the House of Kadar for judgment. I expect that you will meet her approval and not shame us. Then you will be married and begin your new life."
Anderel gave a defeated nod, "Yes Mother."
Sirella softened. She walked to her daughter and the two embraced, "Anderel, I know this will not be easy for you. But it must be done. You will see, in time you will grow to be happy in this life."
Being an Ambassador was proving to be more enjoyable than Worf anticipated. Worf really liked living on the Homeworld; it was something he'd wanted his whole life but had never been able to. He was grounded here, yet he still got to travel the galaxy, and in his own vessel no less. He was happy to leave behind much of the stress and anguish brought on by the Dominion War in the last few years. True, it's not very warrior-like to say that one is glad to be done with fighting, but having a break from it from time to time wasn't bad.
Most of all, this was the first time that Worf could really exist between two worlds. He worked for both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. For him it was the perfect role and he was thrilled to have it.
Worf also spent a lot of time with Martok. Not only was he the Ambassador to the Empire's strongest ally, but he was his closest advisor and friend. Today Worf was visiting the Chancellor at his home in the Capital City.
"Worf, come in, come in!" Martok was always happy to see him, "I am glad you could come on such short notice."
"Of course Chancellor."
"You enjoy calling me that, don't you?"
Worf smirked, "Just admiring my handy work."
Martok laughed, "Your sense of humor is improving."
"So, what may I do for you?"
"I would like to go over a few details of the treaty before you to travel to Earth," Martok replied. The Khitomer Accords had been dissolved by Gowron back when Worf first came to DS9. During the war, the Federation and Klingon Empire worked together under a temporary treaty. Now it was time for a permanent one, and Worf would be overseeing it. This would be his biggest assignment yet.
Worf nodded, "Yes sir."
Just then Martok's door opened and a young woman peeked her head in, "I don't mean to intrude, Father, but I wanted to say goodbye before I left."
"My daughter arrives one day and is gone the next. Worf, you have met my daughter before, haven't you?"
Anderel came all the way into the room, Worf stood and nodded respectfully to her, "Yes, a few times, briefly."
Anderel returned the greeting, "We have met, but I am often away on one of my research expeditions or at the Military Academy."
"What is it that you do?" Worf asked.
Martok was almost offended, "You are speaking to Professor Anderel, daughter of Martok. She is the head of the Cultural History and Anthropology department at O'Ghat. She is the youngest person to hold such a distinction."
"Father, you are bragging. I am not the department head, just a member. A lot of people will have to die before I get that job."
"As I should! You have worked tirelessly to bring back culture and history to our people, something that we have forgotten."
Anderel turn to Worf, "My father tends of go a bit overboard. I do study Klingon history and do my best to uphold and teach our traditions. But I am sure all of this is of no interest to someone like you."
Worf bristled at her offhanded slight, "I have a great interest in my culture."
"I meant no offense," she said, "It's just that from what Mother has said of you—"
Martok cut her off, before she revealed more of Sirella's opinion of Worf, "The two of you can talk all about it when you are on Earth together. Anderel will be lecturing at Starfleet Academy."
"I will just be a guest lecturer," she clarified.
"She is modest like you, Worf."
"Perhaps I could attend one of your lectures," Worf offered.
"You should do that!" Martok interjected eagerly.
Anderel turned to her father, "Again, Father, I just wanted to say good bye."
He came around his desk to embrace his daughter, "I will be on Earth to sign the treaty when Worf finishes it. I will see you then."
"I look forward to it."
Anderel left the room and the two men sat down again. Martok spoke, "She is fine young woman. Why she has not found a husband yet is beyond me. She is very traditional, perhaps too much so for young men her age."
"She did not think very highly of me," Worf sounded a bit defeated.
"Her mother's influence, I am sure."
"And I thought Lady Sirella only sang my praises."
Martok laughed, "There is that sense of humor again."
"Ambassador, welcome aboard."
Worf stood in the transporter room of his ship. It wasn't a large or glorious ship, but it was his nonetheless. He and his ambassadorial staff used it to travel between destinations when he was working. Because he was technically the Federation's Ambassador to Kronos (and not the other way around) his ship was provided by Starfleet. He never thought that he would get to command his own ship after the incident with Jadzia, and even though this was little more than a transport vessel, it was his and he was proud of it.
His crew was small, and it was a mix of Klingon and Federation staff. There were only 30 of them total, half of whom rotated on and off based on where Worf's latest assignment took him. There was one member of his staff that he was immensely glad to have; his son. Alexander had joined him only a few months after he took the Ambassadorial position. As much as he tried, the life of a warrior was not for him, and when Alexander heard that his father had been named Ambassador, he knew that he wanted to work with him. He refused to allow his father's favor to get him a position on the staff; he applied through the same channels as everyone else. Worf was quite surprised, but pleased. He had been told long ago that Alexander's destiny would lie in diplomacy, and it seemed that was coming true.
When they reached Earth, the other delegates were already there and were ready to being. The treaty between the two allies had not been renewed for a long time, and much had changed since then. The Klingon Empire was vast and consisted of many star systems. The Federation was equally vast, though more spread out. They shared borders in many places and much of that had to be settled.
Worf sent reports back to Martok on his progress daily. It was tedious work, and sometimes negotiating over minutiae could be maddening, but Worf was proud to be a part of it. In this way he could serve the empire, and that pleased him.
Yet, the words of Martok's daughter stuck in his head, "I am sure all of this is of no interest to someone like you."
Dr. Anderel, as she was referred to by everyone since she's arrived, had never been to Earth. It was a very different place than the Homeworld. Its native people were so diverse, it was a wonder the world hadn't ripped itself apart in civil wars. Anderel loved a challenge and a new experience, but she was a little nervous. She had been studying and instructing at the Academy back home for years, but dealing with Federation students would be much different than fellow Klingons. She would have to alter her style to appeal to their lighter way of doing things.
She discussed the matter with one of her colleagues, a fellow historian who was here with her, her friend Dr. Negalla, "And if one more of my students asks a question while I am speaking, I am indeed going to take out my d'k tagh and cut their tongue out."
Anderel laughed, "I yelled at one today that did that and told him exactly what you just said. They thought it was just part of the lesson, I don't think they knew that I was serious."
The two women walked the campus discussing their experiences so far. Dr. Negalla was also here instructing a class for the semester, "I am grateful for the opportunity, but I will be happy to return home when this is over."
"Yes, I agree," Anderel began, "But despite the differences, I am enjoying experiencing so many different cultures here. Though, the food leaves a lot to be desired."
Negalla laughed, "That is definitely the case."
The topic of today's lecture was the role of opera in Klingon culture. This was Anderel's favorite subject, she taught a whole class on just that back on Kronos. She could tell that the class response was mixed; some were enjoying it, some thought it was just noise. Today she would be discussing the role of the musical score in Klingon opera.
And she had a guest.
Just as class started, Ambassador Worf slipped in. He sat in the back and observed. He didn't say anything, but listened intently. Anderel never expected him to actually take up Martok's offer to come to one of her lectures. What did an off-worlder who'd worked for the Federation his whole life and who'd married a Trill care about Klingon opera?
When class was over, Anderel intended to find out. He stayed behind after all the students had filed out and approached her podium, "Thank you for allowing me to sit in on your lecture."
She nodded graciously, "You are most welcome, Ambassador. I was surprised to see you come in."
"Your father suggested that I—"
"Oh, yes, I know that. I just never thought that you actually would," Anderel replied as she gathered her materials.
Worf's body tensed, "And why is that, Professor?"
Anderel paused before speaking, "I do not mean to offend," she chuckled to herself, "I find myself saying that a lot since I have been here on Earth," her face straightened again, "I simply do not see why someone like you would have an interest in these things."
"I am Klingon," Worf said defensively.
"Well, yes, of course you are. Again, I meant no dishonor. I am glad that you enjoyed the lecture."
Anderel made her way toward the door, but Worf was not ready to end this conversation. It bothered him that Martok's daughter clearly thought so little of him. He was a part of the House of Martok, an honor that he held dear. But he knew that he had not made a good impression on Martok's immediate family. Martok's son Drex despised him, Sirella was polite but cold, and Anderel clearly had a poor impression of him as well.
"I did enjoy the lecture," he paused before throwing out the bait, "Though I did not agree with your take on the significance of the crescendos in the second act of 'Ga'vot Toh'va'."
Anderel turned back towards him, her face showed both annoyance and intrigue, "Oh really?"
Worf let out a breath. Now he could impress her with his knowledge of Klingon Opera, "Though changes in the music often represents the tide of battle, this is not an example of it. In this case, I believe that it is representing the unrequited romance between the lead characters."
Worf's opinion on the subject was completely opposite what she'd just presented to the class. Yet instead of being upset at this challenge to her ideas, she was intrigued, "So you think that the pace of this score is written in a similar manner as 'Kahless and Lucara?"
"Yes. Though we will never really know which opinion is correct, as Yinta, the composer, died without giving any commentary on the opera."
"Yes, he did. I take it you are a fan of the opera then?"
Worf nodded, "Yes. And now that I live on the Homeworld, I make a point to attend performances whenever I can. Just last month I was able to see Baraq Kadan perform Ga'vot Toh'va. It was very enjoyable."
"I was at that performance! He is one of my favorites, though he takes a lot of criticism for his traditional style."
"I prefer that style, it is hard to find those who will perform the classics as they were meant, and without their own egotistical embellishments."
Anderel smiled, she was pleasantly surprised by Worf, "I am very glad you stopped by Ambassador. And when we are back on Qo'noS, perhaps I can accompany you to see a performance. I bet the Ambassador from the Federation gets the best seats."
Worf smiled, "Not nearly as good as what the Chancellor's daughter can get."
She smiled in return, "We will see."
The Ambassadorial complex was enormous. Every Federation Ambassador had an office, and since Worf was ambassador to one of the Federation's most important (if not the most important) allies, his office was the biggest. There was enough room for his entire staff to work and for him to hold conferences. Along with the offices, the complex also contained housing for all the ambassadors and their staff when they were on Earth.
"The Jintapa system has been a part of the Klingon Empire for centuries! We have allowed Federation citizens to colonize parts of it, but that does not mean that we will concede those worlds!" Martok's voice came booming from a comm monitor in Worf's office.
Worf nodded, "I agree. The proximity to the Romulan Empire makes Jintapa and important strategic sector. But it is also why the Federation wants a part of it."
"The answer is no! We will not concede any of our territory—"
Worf interrupted him before his latest tirade got out of hand, "I have a solution. If we simply allow the Federation to have a military installation on Jintapa IV, and require them to share all their intelligence with us, then they will be satisfied."
Martok sat back, "Yes, that is acceptable. I am glad that you have the patience for all these details, Worf."
Worf nodded respectfully, "It is an honor to do my duty for the Empire."
Martok changed the subject, "I spoke with Anderel this morning and she tells me that you visited one of her lectures."
"Yes, I did. She is a very capable instructor."
"Have you spent any time with her outside of the classroom?"
Worf was a little taken aback by the question. Why would Martok be asking that, "No, I have not."
Just then Alexander came into Worf's office, "Father, I apologize, but one of the delegates is here to discuss Jintapa with you."
"Thank you Alexander," Worf turned his attention back to Martok, "Chancellor, I must go for now."
It had been a week since Worf's visit to Anderel's classroom. Worf wanted to return, but he wondered what Martok's questions had meant. Did he not want Worf to see Anderel? It was not as if Worf was trying to mate with her; he was just eager to meet someone who shared similar interests. But he did not know what to make of the Chancellor's inquiries.
Though Worf did not seek out Anderel, she went looking for him. Other than Dr. Negalla, he was the only other Klingon she knew on the planet. And as luck would have it, Negalla had become quite friendly with a Tholian physicist who worked with her. So that left Anderel without a dinner partner, and she did not like to eat alone.
Worf was easy to find, he spent almost all his time working. It was getting towards the dinner hour, and Anderel decided to pay him a visit at his offices.
Alexander greeted her when she came to the door, "Father told me that you were here on Earth. I'm glad you stopped by."
Though Anderel hadn't spent much time with Worf, she had met Alexander on several occasions. She found him quite curious. By anyone's account, he was a pitiful soldier and was about as Klingon as a pile of tribbles. But none of that seemed to bother him. He didn't seem to mind that he didn't fit in, and that in itself made him endearing. He was different and he was okay with that. Anderel found that admirable.
She returned his smile, though not as enthusiastically as he'd given it. Alexander's giddiness definitely gave away his human lineage, "Good evening Alexander. Is your father available?"
Just as she asked, Worf emerged from a back office holding a padd and speaking to another staff member, "Kerera, I need the transcripts from last week's discussion of the military installations in the Rodrere systems first thing tomorrow morning."
"Yes sir," the young Klingon woman replied quickly. It was clear that Worf ran a tight operation. Even Alexander snapped to attention when his father entered the room.
Anderel approached him, "I was certain that I'd see you in my second lecture on opera," she said.
Worf's shoulders straightened defensively, "I have been busy."
"I see. Do you make your staff work all night every day?"
"Yes," Alexander replied for him. Worf gave him a look that silenced him quickly.
Andered laughed, "Well, I need a dinner partner for the evening, and I thought that you would be as good as any."
Worf's eyes narrowed, "You wish to have dinner with me?"
"Why not? We are practically family. Plus, I would love to hear your opinion on the newest performance of Aktuh and Melota."
Worf felt uncomfortable in the way he always did at the idea of a social situation with a woman. He could stand down a dozen Jem'Hadar, but dinner with a beautiful woman intimidated him. And in this case it was not just any beautiful woman, but it was Martok's daughter. He felt he should decline, but he did not want to offend her, "Alright."
"Good. Let's go. Tell your staff they can go home now."
"This is still my office, Professor," Worf turned to the staff that was still there, "When you have finished your current tasks, you may adjourn for the evening."
Anderel smiled, "So, where are you taking me?"
"You asked me out. I should be asking you where you are taking me,"
She laughed as they stepped onto the turbolift that took them to the ground floor, "All I know about Earth is eating at the replimat, and I'm tired of that."
Worf nodded, "I can understand that. I know of a place that I think you will enjoy."
"A Klingon restaurant?" she asked as they made their way out the door and down the street. The evening air was cool, more so than was comfortable for most Klingons. Anderel tightly folded her arms over her chest.
"No," Worf began. He'd become accustomed to the cool weather here in San Francisco, "It serves a type of Human food, it is called Russian. I have found the flavors to be strong and pungent; the only human food that compares to Klingon cuisine."
"You know much about Humans."
Worf wasn't sure if that was meant merely as an observation, or as an affront, "I have spent much of my life around them."
The restaurant was not far and they walked together, "Father has told me some things about you… that your parents were killed on Khitomer and that you were raised by humans."
"That is correct."
"Are your human parents still alive?"
Worf nodded, "Yes, they live here on Earth. I acquired a taste for this type of food from my adoptive mother."
"And where did you acquire your taste for opera?"
"That I learned on my own…" he paused, "Actually, when I reached the age of ascension, my human parents sent me to Qo'noS to undergo the Rites. While I was there, my guardian was a performer. From him I acquired my appreciation of Klingon music." Worf smiled inwardly, "And from Jadzia."
Anderel did not recognize the name, but she could tell by the change in his expression and tone that Jadzia must have been his wife, "Your wife."
Worf's chest tightened, he certainly had not meant to go down this road. He gave a short answer of "Yes" in hopes that Anderel would drop the subject.
She did not, "My mother thought highly of your wife."
That caught Worf completely off guard, "What?"
"She did not think and alien should marry into a Klingon house. But she has mentioned that she was surprised by her determination to prove herself and to marry you. Mother did everything she could to break her, but she would not bend. Mother respected that."
Worf's chest swelled; he was proud of the memory, "I did not know your mother grew to respect her."
"My mother isn't all bad, you know."
"I never said—"
"It is alright," Anderel replied, "I know that you and she are not the best of friends. There are some things about you that she does not approve of. But she is just fiercely protective of her family. She wants what is best for the House of Martok, that is all."
They arrived at the restaurant and were promptly seated. Worf spoke, "And what of you? What is your opinion of me?"
"Well, when Father brought you into the house, I did not think much of it. We have many non-blood members, so I did not think it was an issue. Drex, however, was livid."
Worf rolled his eyes. He and Drex had a history before he and Martok did, only it was not a good one. In Worf's opinion, Drex was not worthy of being the Chancellor's son. Worf did not want to offend Anderel by insulting her brother, so he kept his opinion to himself, "That was to be expected."
The waitress came and Worf ordered for the two of them. They continued their conversation, "May I ask, Ambassador, why you chose Starfleet instead of the Defense Force?"
Worf paused before answering. She seemed to have a genuine interest rather than the insulting tone that usually came with that question. Worf replied as honestly as he could, "It was a very personal decision, one that I wrestled with even after I made it."
"Does that mean you regret the decision?"
"A warrior has no room for regret," Worf replied decisively.
"That is a slogan, not an answer."
Worf narrowed his eyes a bit. Right now, Anderel's forwardness was reminding him of Jadzia. Early in their relationship, she was often direct in a way that made Worf uncomfortable, "It is the only answer I have for you… right now."
Anderel smiled, "Oh, I see. So what you are saying is, 'not on the first date?'"
"And what of you? You have asked a lot of questions, but have answered none."
"Perhaps you are not the only one who likes to remain a mystery," she sat back in her chair, "What would you like to know?"
Worf chose a safe question to start, "How did you come to be a Professor?"
"I have always had a passion for our history and culture. The stories that are passed down, the traditions and legacies we hold dear. It has always fascinated me. But I've felt that in recent times, we have begun to lose sight of those things. We have forgotten what it means to be Klingon. And not just in battle, but in everything. Klingons are passionate beings, passionate in everything we do."
Worf perked up a bit, "Yes, yes, I have always felt the same way. It may sound odd coming from an off-worlder like myself, but I have felt that our culture was slowly slipping away from us- that is until your father became Chancellor."
"I suppose I have you to thank for that. Having one's father as Chancellor has made it much easier to get my programs and initiatives passed. I have worked closely with him since his instatement on many things."
"Then, you are welcome."
Their food came and their conversation continued. Worf could not believe that he'd never spent any time with Anderel before. She was fascinating. They two of them discussed everything from the political ramifications of the fall of Gowron to the most authentic way to prepare a bregit lung.
In fact, they talked so long that their food was long done, and the proprietors of the restaurant had begun to put the chairs on the tables.
"Do you suppose they are too intimidated by a pair of Klingons to ask us to leave?" Anderel asked, "Maybe they will just lock the doors with use still here."
Worf smiled, "Perhaps we should go."
As they stood to leave, Worf found himself watching her as she headed towards the door. She was a bit shorter than most Klingon women, and almost half a meter shorter than Worf. Her jet black hair hung halfway down her back in heavy, thick waves. She was rather plain in her appearance; her clothes were simple and unadorned. She wore no jewelry or any symbols of her house. Worf's eyes traveled along her form. Many Klingon would find her utilitarian appearance unappealing, but Worf did not. His breathing quickened for just a moment.
Anderel turned to see Worf was still standing near the table, "Are you coming, Ambassador?"
Worf snapped to attention, "Yes, yes of course."
They walked back to the consulate and though they'd been talking non-stop over dinner, they were both quiet as they walked. As they neared the building, Worf broke the silence, "Would you like to use the transporter at the consulate to get back to campus?"
"Yes, thank you."
Their silence continued as they made their way to the transporter room. They entered the room and Anderel headed for the transporter pad. It was late and the operator was off duty, so Worf went to the controls to activate the transporter himself.
"I enjoyed myself very much," Anderel said as she stood on the transporter pad facing Worf.
He nodded respectfully, "As did I."
"I am ready to transport."
"Yes of course. Qapla."
The next day, Worf was in his office early working. As soon as Alexander came to work, he went straight to his see his father.
"So, how was it?"
Worf didn't look up from his work and pretended he didn't know what Alexander was talking about, "How was what?"
Alexander sat down, "You know what, your date with Anderel."
Worf looked up, "It was not a date."
"Whatever you say. I think she likes you, though."
"Did you have a real reason for coming in here?"
Worf clearly didn't want to talk about his evening; which probably meant it went very well and Anderel did indeed like him. Alexander knew when to drop it, though. "Yes, I actually did come to see you for a legitimate reason. Though, it also has to do with Anderel."
"Well, I was thinking," Alexander stood and begin to pace. That meant he had a big idea. He'd impressed his father since working on the Ambassadorial staff, so Worf listened when his son had new ideas, "I think we should do something grand to culminate the treaty signing. Chancellor Martok will be here, we have to do more than just sign the documents and leave."
"There will be a reception afterwards."
"We're Klingons, we need to show the Federation what we're all about. Let's make the treaty signing coincide with the Day of Honor, and make a huge celebration out of it. Mock battles, opera performances, art exhibits, storytelling, everything that makes us who we are. Our allies need to better understand us in order to work with us. The humans will love it; I just know it will be a big hit."
Worf sat back in his chair and thought a moment, "This could work… but it would take a lot to coordinate."
"You do have a staff, Father," he paused, "And I know Dr. Anderel would love to help. This is her thing, you know."
"Yes, yes it is." Worf actually really liked the idea, "Make an appointment for me to meet with Dr. Anderel. If she agrees, we will let her take the lead. No one knows more about Klingon culture than she does."
Anderel was happy to work with Worf and Alexander to plan the Day of Honor celebration. She had a ton of ideas and between her classes at the Academy she was at the consulate offices making arrangements. She took Alexander's idea and was making it even more than he'd imagined.
Today she was at the consulate trying to arrange transport for the dramatic players who would be doing the battle re-enactments. Worf saw her seated at a desk near the window as he came back from the day's treaty negotiations. He found himself looking forward to the days that she was there. Anderel was extremely intelligent, thoughtful and well spoken. Worf knew that he did not have much experience with Klingon women; and often found himself uneasy around them. But Anderel was different. It was easy to talk to her; she was like him in many ways.
Worf went into his office and sat at the desk. He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a picture that he took with him wherever he went. It was he and Jadzia on the day they got married. He gazed at it for a moment, and a mix of emotions came over him. She was his par'machkai. Worf loved her with everything that was in him; he still did. There wasn't a day that went by that he didn't think of her. But since he'd been spending time with Anderel, he felt guilty.
Feeling guilty implied that he was doing something wrong. There was nothing going on between he and Anderel. They were friends, they were members of the same House, they were working together, but that was all. Yet the thought of Anderel made Worf smile, and Worf did not smile very often.
Alexander cleared his work area and turned around to face Anderel, "I am going home for the evening. You should too, you have been here all day."
She smiled at him. Alexander was definitely not like most Klingon young men. But he was honest and hardworking and wanted nothing but the approval of his father, "You go. I have more to do. I believe you father is still here in his office, I will keep him company."
That made Alexander smile. He knew that his father liked Anderel, and Worf didn't like many people, "Yes professor. I will see you tomorrow."
"Please call me Anderel. And have a good night."
Alexander nodded respectfully and headed for the door. Anderel looked around the empty room; she could see the light on in Worf's office. Ambassador Worf was probably the most interesting and yet the most confusing man she'd ever met. She loved talking to him, even though she felt like she did way more talking than he did. He was like a wonderful mystery.
Anderel opened the door to Worf's office. He was concentrating on whatever was on his monitor quite intently.
"Can I be of any help, Ambassador?"
Worf looked up, "I find it a great honor to serve the Empire, but the minutia of diplomacy can be maddening."
Anderel came all the way into the room and stood before his desk, "My father is very fortunate to have you by his side. Tell me what I can do to help."
"You have already been very helpful to us, to me. Why are you still here so late?"
"I am finishing some things for the Day of Honor. Exams are coming, so I will be working more at the Academy."
Worf didn't reply; that guilty feeling crept up again.
Anderel sat in the chair across from him. Her eyes wandered to a picture that was sitting on his desk, one that she had never seen there before. It was of Worf, and he was wearing traditional wedding attire. Next to him was a Trill woman, his wife Jadzia. Anderel picked up the picture, "I have never seen this here before."
Worf did not respond.
Anderel went out on a limb, "You have never said much about her."
"She was my wife," Worf paused, "Once, we were assigned to a mission together, just the two of us. We had to hike through a jungle for two days to get to a Cardassian operative. One the first night, we were attached by a group of Jem'Hadar. Jadzia was shot, and over the course of the next day her injuries got worse. I had to decide whether to go on with the mission, or turning around to get help to save her life. I chose to save her and face the consequences of abandoning the mission."
"She was your wife, it was the only honorable choice," Anderel replied.
Worf looked directly at her, "Yes. You understand that."
"Of course, any Klingon would."
From listening to him, Anderel could see that this was all still so close to him. Worf could hear the sincerity in her voice, and it compelled him to share more of himself, "Living amongst aliens my whole life, I learned to adapt, but I never felt truly comfortable. I put up a wall and kept everyone out. Jadzia broke through that wall. I was able to be my true self with her."
"I think you are an admirable man and I hope that you find someone else to share yourself with."
"I have the same hope for you."
Klingons did not blush often, and their dark skin hid it well. Right now, though, Anderel felt her cheeks getting hot, "I will undoubtedly get married. But to find someone with whom I can truly share myself, to find my true par'machkai… I do not think that will happen for me."
"Why would you say that?"
Anderel sighed. She wanted to tell Worf about Kadar, she wanted to tell him that she was to be married to a man she didn't know and didn't love as soon as she returned home. But, she did not, "No reason really," Anderel said, "It just has not happened yet." Before this conversation went too far, Anderel stood, "Excuse me Ambassador, I'm going to retire for the evening.
Over the next few weeks, Anderel and Worf spent more and more time together. When they weren't working, they were together. Worf showed her all his favorite places on Earth. The landscapes of Earth were as diverse as its people. Worf had forgotten how much he enjoyed some of the locales. They spent a day hiking in the rainforest, and another cave diving in the Caribbean. They even visited Human opera in Europe (which pales in comparison to Klingon, of course). It had been a long time since Worf had felt this comfortable with another person. Specifically, it had been since he was with Jadzia.
Worf remembered something that was once said to him, "You know nothing of Klingon women." He had been offended at the time, but the words were true. Worf had spent so much time among humans that his knowledge of Klingon women and courtship were limited only to what he'd read about or seen in operas. With both K'Ehleyr and Jadzia, they had been the aggressors. He was very much attracted to both of them, but had not had the courage to say so. Worf could stand down any foe, but the idea of professing his feelings to a woman was terrifying.
If a Klingon man was attracted to a woman, there was no long drawn out courtships, he made his intentions known quickly and decisively. Worf had not done that with Anderel. He wasn't sure he even knew how.
It had been almost a week since Anderel last saw Worf. They'd both gotten rather busy with work, but Worf really wanted to share something with Anderel that he knew she would enjoy. Their work together was winding down; they only had a couple weeks before the treaty signing, and the Day of Honor celebration. Worf was excited by the idea of spending more time with her; he just hoped she'd go for it.
"Professor, do you have a moment?"
Anderel was finishing her classes for the day when she heard Worf's familiar voice behind her. She tried not to show how excited she was to see him," Yes, yes of course. What can I do for you?"
Worf was excited as well, but remained composed, "You do not have class for the next few days, correct?"
"That's right. I have been trying to determine what I might do to fill the time."
Worf handed her a padd, "Join me, I think you will enjoy this. Meet me at the consulate's transporter room tomorrow morning, and bring the following."
Anderel was surprised, Worf did not strike her as the spontaneous type, "Alright, I will."
Worf nodded, "Good."
He quickly turned and left, leaving Anderel even more confused, yet excited and intrigued.
Worf began to get nervous. Anderel was supposed to report to the transporter room at 0900 hours. He was starting to second guess himself; he should have known she'd never want to do this. It was presumptuous of him to think she'd want to spend a weekend with him. He should never have—
"Forgive my tardiness, Ambassador," Anderel said as she entered the transporter room breathlessly with a bag slung over her arm, "One of my students required assistance."
Worf tried to hide his excitement that she was here, "I see you were able to replicate the clothing."
"Yes, I was, though the clothing only provided more questions than answers. Where are we going?"
Anderel stepped onto the transporter padd with Worf, and Worf turned to the operator, "When you are ready crewman, you can energize."
When Anderel's eyes re-opened, she was clearly nowhere near where they had been. She looked around, then looked up at Worf with an excited smile on her face, "Where are we?"
"A place called the Australian Outback. We are still on Earth, but very far from San Francisco. As you can see, the temperature is much more favorable."
Anderel drew in a deep breath through her nose. The hot, dry air filled her lungs and reminded her of home, "Yes, very much," she placed her pack on the ground and took in the scenery. They were clearly in a desert; she couldn't see another person or any signs of civilization in any direction. All around them were open vistas of red rocks, a crisp blue sky and mountains in the distance.
"I used to come here when I was enrolled at Starfleet Academy. I, of course, enjoyed the weather. But I loved the open spaces and solitude; I would come here to hike and rock climb. I thought you might enjoy the change of pace."
Anderel was one step ahead of him. She strapped on her backpack and pointed into the distance, "I like that rock formation, let's start there," and without a word, she was off. Worf strapped on his pack and was right behind her.
The two spent the day hiking, climbing and jogging. Anderel was in impeccable physical form. She matched his movements step for step, and at times Worf found himself working to keep up with her. Anderel had not enjoyed herself this much in a very long time. She felt free and uninhibited. The scenery was amazing; she could spend an eternity here.
As the sun set, the two of them made their way to the bank of an oasis and set up camp under a rock overhang. Worf began unloading their supplies and made a fire for the evening, while Anderel sat and admired the sunset. The colors blazed across the sky as the sun lowered into the horizon.
"Thank you," Anderel said.
Worf stopped what he was doing and looked toward her, "Professor, it has been my pleasure."
She turned back towards him, "You don't have to call me Professor. In a place like this especially, I'm just Anderel."
Worf sat next to her, "Then I will ask that you call me Worf."
She smiled, "Yes...Worf."
Worf gazed at the sunset and began speaking, "I have always been a very solitary person. That is to be expected when you live your life among people who are so different from you. I always sought out places like this where I could simply exist and not worry about fitting into anyone's definition of who I should be."
Anderel gazed at Worf and knew that by bringing her here, he was sharing himself with her in a way that he did not normally share himself with others. They had been colleagues for several weeks now, but in this moment she felt something else was happening, "I am honored that you would share this with me."
Worf's deep voice had a low and gentle rumble that made Anderel's heart quicken, "I am happy that you are here with me."
Just then, Worf noticed something that caught him off guard. It was a scent. The Klingon sense of smell was much more heightened than most other humanoids. It aided them in battle, in the hunt, and in mating. This scent was not familiar to Worf, or at least it had been a very long time since he'd noticed it. He drew in a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. He knew what it meant; Anderel was attracted to him. Within seconds, the same scent filled Anderel's nose from Worf.
Anderel stood quickly and walked away from him. She was overwhelmed with what was happening. Yet, she was enjoying it too much to really put a stop to it. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the gleam of a weapon in Worf's bag. She reached down and removed his bat'tleh.
"Why did you bring this?"
Worf stood and approached her, "You can never know when you may need to vanquish a foe."
She laughed, "I have never been good at handling one of these."
Worf took it from her and began to work the weapon in his hands, "You have to see it as an extension of your body. The weapon is part of me, part of my arm. I can maneuver it as easy as my own hands."
Her breath quickened as she watched his body move with the bat'tleh; it was like a warriors dance.
"Perhaps you can teach me sometime."
Worf stopped and placed the weapon down, "Perhaps."
They were quiet again. It was the silences that made her nervous. When she was talking, she could keep herself focused away from what she really wanted. But when they were silent, gazing at one another, moving towards one another, then anything could happen.
Worf stepped closer and closer to her; so much so that she could feel the rise and fall of his chest against hers. She averted her eyes from his, not wanting to see the desire she knew was there. Worf took her hand in his, first the left then the right. Anderel's mind was racing. This is not right, she though, I can not do this to Worf.
Anderel stepped back and released Worf's hands. She tried to compose herself as quickly as possible, "You haven't caught us any dinner yet."
Worf snapped out of it, "Oh yes, yes," he picked up his bat'tleh again, "I will return, as soon as I have vanquished a foe."
She smiled as he walked off into the distance. Then her smiled faded and she spoke to herself aloud, "I can not do this. I have to stop this; it is not fair to Worf."
Worf had a hard time focusing; he lost two perfect animals as he hunted. Perhaps his inexperience with Klingon women was coming to light. He thought he'd read all the signals just right; Anderel was clearly attracted to him. Or perhaps he was mistaken. Her response when he got close to her was clear- she did not want things to progress the way he did. Perhaps it was for the best. Trying to pursue the Chancellor's daughter would not be an easy thing for him, and maybe she was trying to spare him the trouble.
Just when Anderel began to wonder if Worf got lost, he returned to camp, albeit empty-handed.
"I was not victorious," Worf replied, clearly discouraged, "I could not focus myself."
"No matter, we have some field rations to get us through the night."
The rest of the night they were civil, they maintained small talk and never once mentioned the embrace they shared. Both settled in for the night and pretended to sleep, but neither did. Anderel decided that this would be the end. She could not just be friends with Worf, and since she knew she could not pursue a relationship with him, then she would have to distance herself completely. It was the only honorable thing to do.
After their hiking trip, Anderel did her best to avoid Worf as much as she could. Her work on the celebration was finished, so she only had to make it until Martok and Sirella arrived. Then she could spend her time with them, and stay away from Worf altogether. Though the fact that they were physically apart did not mean that he was out of her mind. She thought of him often, and found that she missed his company more and more each day. But this was for the best. To allow their relationship to continue to progress would just make the inevitable even harder.
The night before the Imperial Fleet from Qo'noS was due to dock, Anderel sat alone in her quarters. She wanted to see him at least one last time. After all, one visit couldn't hurt.
The view from Worf's Ambassadorial residence would be described by most as gorgeous. His living area had a large windowed wall that faced the San Francisco Bay. You could see the lights from the cities and transport shuttles whizzing by. The old transportation bridges still stood, though it had been centuries since they were actually used. Now they served as a monument to an ancient part of Human culture.
Worf sat looking out at the view, thinking. He had done a wonderful job tying up all the loose ends and finalizing the treaty between the Federation and their most powerful ally, the Klingon Empire. It had taken several months, but it was done.
Now all that was left was the formality of Chancellor Martok and the Federation President signing it. And to top it off, it would occur on the Klingon Day of Honor. Anderel and Alexander had worked together to plan a phenomenal celebration that would showcase the best of the Klingon Empire. The performers and entertainers began arriving earlier today. Alexander had been as busy as ever making sure they were all where they were supposed to be.
The door chime sounded. It was probably Alexander completely overwhelmed. Worf stood and answered the door.
It was Anderel.
"May I come in?"
Worf stepped aside, "Of course." He had not seen her since their hiking trip.
"I wanted to come to thank you for everything. You have done an excellent job representing my father and the Empire. I am certain he will be impressed with everything when he arrives tomorrow. He thinks very highly of you, and I have come to see why."
"You did not think much of me when we met."
"No. I thought of you as an off-worlder who knew nothing of his own culture. For me, Klingon culture is my life, so that was a big deal."
"And what do you think of me now?"
"You are an off-worlder, but you have spent a great deal of time learning to appreciate your heritage. You struggle with who you are and where you fit. You cherish this job as Ambassador because it finally gives you a way to exist in the two worlds without conflict." Anderel wandered over to a wall where Worf's service metals from Starfleet hung. "You keep these here, and not in your home on Kronos?"
Worf came over to her. He nodded, "Yes, I do. This is where they belong."
"It has been hard on you, having to live your life this way. A person should not have to be so divided."
He nodded again, "Yes. Few people have ever really understood that about me."
Anderel looked up into his dark eyes, "I would like to think that I am one of those people."
Worf's voice was low and deep. It rumbled in his throat as he spoke, "Yes, you are."
Their eyes met and neither spoke. All the things that had been building between then began to surface in the silence. Anderel's breathing quickened; she did not come here for things to go this far, but this was happening and she had no desire to stop it. She closed her eyes and drew in a breath. Her nose was once again filled with his scent, and it was powerful, even more so than before.
Worf breathed in; this time her scent was unmistakable. He reached down and took her hand in his. He squeezed it, first gently, then more and more forcefully. It was a Klingon gesture of desire and want. When Anderel returned the squeeze, Worf's breathing began to change. He used his other hand to encircle her waist and pull her close to him. Anderel let her eyes close and a moment later she felt his lips on hers. She breathed in his scent as she returned the kiss. Her arms went up around his neck as she pressed her body as close to his as possible. Worf's fingers began to dig into the flesh of her back, which sent her passion spiraling—
But then she pulled away. Anderel broke the embrace and pulled away from Worf. She refused to let her eyes meet his and stumbled over her words, "I… I… I should go." Anderel turned and headed for the door, "I am sorry" she said breathlessly as she escaped from the room without even a goodbye.
Chancellor Martok hated formality. Yet it had become a fact of life since becoming the leader of the Empire. Today, he was being officially received by the leaders of the Federation. His wife, Sirella, stood at his side. She on the other hand loved all this. It was what she'd wanted her whole life, and was completely at home in this lifestyle. Martok preferred being on the deck of the Rotarran to the floor of the High Council Chamber.
In the distance, Martok could see Worf and Anderel. When last he spoke to either of them, they had been spending quite a lot of time together. Martok knew his daughter and he knew Worf. They would be perfect together, and he hoped they spent enough time together to realize that. Though, they were standing on opposite sides of the room, which made Martok wonder if things had not gone well between them.
Once all the pomp and circumstance was over, Martok and Sirella, along with their staff, were taken inside for a welcoming reception. It would be the first of several of these receptions that Humans seemed to be so fond of. Lots of talking, eating horrible food and no blood wine. It was not at all a good time in Martok's opinion. But it did give him a chance to see his daughter.
As soon as she could, Anderel was at her father's side, "Father! I am so happy to see you."
Martok hugged his daughter tightly, "How have you liked it here on Earth?"
"The weather is too cold. But I have greatly enjoyed my time teaching here. More than I thought I would."
"Did Worf show you around?"
Just the mention of his name made Anderel tense up, "I worked closely with the Ambassador on several things."
Sirella interjected, "I trust you have not gotten too attached to being here."
Anderel knew exactly what she meant by that, "No Mother, I have not."
"Good. Because later today, Kadar's vessel will be arriving."
Anderel's blood ran cold. She was not at all prepared for that. Neither was Martok, "Kadar, Je'Tal's son? Why would he be coming here?"
"His family is very prominent, you know that. He wants to come to show his support for you and his solidarity for the Empire," Sirella decided this was as good a time as any, "And he has expressed an interest in courting our daughter."
"I don't know that I could imagine a worse match for our daughter," Martok replied, "What do you think of this, Anderel?"
The piercing looks Sirella was giving her let Anderel know she's better not say too much on how she really felt, "I have yet to meet him" was all she said.
Martok grumbled under his breath. He did not like Je'Tal or his son Kadar. The issue, though, was quickly forgotten when Martok saw Worf leaving the room. He called to him, "Ambassador Worf, why do you dishonor me?"
Worf had hoped to slip out before Martok noticed him. It wasn't Martok that he was avoiding, it was Anderel. But, he could not ignore either of them now. Worf came over to where they were, "Chancellor, I meant not offense. I saw that you were with your daughter and I did not want to intrude."
"Intrude? Anderel was just saying how well you two worked together."
Anderel spoke up, "I have to go, Father, there are some things I must attend to." She quickly left them. Martok noticed that she and Worf were very careful to avoid one another, almost too careful. They never looked at each other once and stayed as far apart as they could all morning. Sirella excused herself as well and followed Anderel out of the room. Martok had the feeling that there were things going on around him that he didn't know about.
"So, tell me, how have things been?"
"You have read my reports, Sir. Everything was resolved just as you wanted it."
"No, no, no. How have things been with my daughter?"
Worf froze, "Sir, I do not know what you are speaking of. Anderel worked with my staff to plan the festivities, but that is all."
Martok led Worf out of the reception and onto one of the paths that wound its way along the campus of Starfleet Headquarters. He needed some space from all the formalities, "Worf, I have watched the two of you all morning, and I have never seen two people go to such great lengths to not get near or look at each other."
Worf's mind was racing. He could try to deny it, but Martok clearly knew something was amiss. So his best bet was to tell the truth, "Sir, I must apologize to you. I allowed my feelings to get in the way of my better judgment, and I am afraid that I have offended Anderel, and possibly you as well."
"What are you talking about, Worf?"
Worf sighed, "Anderel and I have spent a lot of time together here on Earth. I became attracted to her, and I believe I have offended her by doing so."
Martok listened, "So you have feelings for my daughter?"
"Yes. However, I realize that it is not my place to try to pursue a woman like her. She is your daughter, and you are the leader of the Empire. She should have a great warrior from a powerful House. I have nothing to offer her, everything I have I owe to you. Anderel deserves better than me."
"Did she say this to you?"
"She did not have to. Her response to my advances made it clear. I offended her and by offending her I offend you. For that I apologize."
Martok paused for a moment, "Have I ever told you how Sirella and I came to be?"
"No, you have not."
"You know that I was not born into this position. When I finally received an officer's commission, I was stationed to a defense base at the outer-reaches of the Empire. Sirella's father, General Linkasa, was the commander of the base. She was living there with him; her mother had died years before. The General did not think very much of me at all. I was an officer, but only because of a field commission and I was not from a noble family. He was not pleased, to say the least, to know that I wanted to pursue his daughter. But I was in love with her and I courted her with everything I had. I had not let my position stop me thus far, and I was not going to let it keep me from the woman I loved. He came to see that my heart was true and that I loved his daughter. He was impressed with my tenacity; I would not give in just because he didn't think I was good enough. I proved myself to him and he blessed our marriage."
Worf did not respond, he was taking it in and trying to process what Martok meant by telling him all this.
"I am free from the Jem'Hadar prison camp because of you. I am Chancellor of the Empire because of you. I owe just as much to you as you do to me. A true warrior's worth is not measured by his wealth or the status of his House, but by the honor of his deeds. You, Worf, are worth more than you realize."
Worf was speechless, "Sir, I… I am honored…"
Worf held up his hand to silence, him, "Enough of that. If I don't get a glass of blood wine I will kill someone. Beam up to my ship with me, so we can have a drink and go over everything we need for the next few days."
While Worf was with Martok, Anderel was with her mother. They left the reception together, and Anderel was not happy, "I cannot believe Kadar is coming here now. I do not want to deal with this now."
"Your father kept going on and on about how happy he was that you were spending time with Worf. I had to get Kadar here to make sure that you did not do anything rash."
"Father is happy about Worf and I?"
Anderel's response was the confirmation that Sirella needed, "Which is exactly why Kadar will be here tomorrow. You need to get to know your future husband and get the Ambassador out of your head."
"I still have several weeks until my work at the Academy is finished. I do not have time to entertain Kadar."
"You will need to change your priorities, then."
Anderel's anger was building, "I have agreed to do this for the good of our family. You will not dictate how it happens. I am starting to think this is more for your benefit than Father's."
"There is dissention building against your father in the Council. They see this treaty with the Federation as weak. Nehvar, whose family holds two seats on the Council, is leading the charge and could very well strike against your father at any moment. If we don't ally with J'etal, we will have no protection."
"You are sure of this?"
"I would not lie to you."
Anderel closed her eyes for a moment, "Alright then. I will meet Kadar tomorrow."
Worf could not wait to be finished with Martok. His mind was racing, and he headed straight for Anderel's apartment. With all that was going on, he hoped that she would be there. He needed to talk to her, he had so much to say that he wasn't sure if he'd be able to piece it all together.
He rang her chime, and within moments she answered. The look on her face let him know that she was surprised to see him, "Ambassador, I was not expecting to see you."
"May I enter?"
Anderel's head told her to say no, but her heart stepped aside and let him in.
"What can I do for you?" she asked.
Worf paused. He had wanted to find a perfect way to say what he as feeling. Instead, he just began to speak, "You have feelings for me, and yet you deny them."
She folded her arms, "I do not know what you are speaking of."
Worf stood close to her, so close she could feel the heat from his body. His tall form was imposing over her much smaller one, "Some things are obvious, even to an off-worlder like me."
Anderel had to crane her neck to look up at him, "Things are not as simple as they may seem."
"You do not think I am worthy of you. Let me prove to you that I am."
Anderel laughed, "Is that what you think?"
"You could have any warrior in the Empire, I know that. But I ask you to give me the chance to prove myself to you. No other man could—"
Anderel stopped him, "Worf," she took a deep breath, "I am to be married when I return to the Homeworld."
Worf was shocked, "What?"
"Mother has arranged for me to marry Kadar, son of Je'Tal. She feels that the marriage will be good for our family. Our house needs a powerful ally in order to remain strong."
Worf's head was spinning. If this was the case then why would Martok encourage him to pursue Anderel? "Martok does not know anything about this, does he?" Worf asked.
"No, he does not. He would object to me doing this just for him."
"How long have you known about this?"
"Since before I came to Earth."
Worf backed away from her and paced the room to expel his frustration, "And yet you still pursued me?"
"I think we both did our fair share of pursuing."
"Have you taken the oath with Kadar?" Worf asked.
"I have never even met him, Worf" she said with an air of defeat in her voice.
"I… I cannot believe this," Worf stopped pacing and looked at her definitively, "I will challenge him for you."
Anderel came to him and took his hands in hers, "No, Worf, you cannot do that. I have to make this match, our family needs it. It is really a small sacrifice; I will hardly even see Kadar once we are married."
Worf very tenderly touched her face with his fingertips, "You deserve so much more than that. You deserve a man who will love you as Kahless loved Lucara. You are not a bargaining tool to be passed around like a sack of latinum. I cannot stand by and watch you do this."
Anderel closed her eyes and savored his touch, "I will do what is best for my family. I have already given my word, and I cannot break that. I am sorry that I led you on. The truth is; I simply did not want to let you go."
Worf wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close. She did not fight his embrace. His fingertips gently touched her lips. Anderel's eyes closed as she felt his lips upon hers once again. She let it happen, she let the kiss deepen. Her fingers gripped his muscular arms as his hands weaved their way in and out of her thick hair.
Worf ended the kiss, but still held her tightly, "If you can look at me and tell me that you do not want me, that you want to marry Kadar, then I will honor your wishes."
Anderel was out of breath as she spoke, "I want you, Worf. But I will marry Kadar."
Worf nodded, "I see. Then I will not bother you with this again." With that, he left. Anderel stood there alone, trying to burn the feeling of his embrace in her mind forever. She knew she would never feel that way ever again, and it made her heart ache.
"This is what you are wearing?"
"We are already promised to be married, what difference does it make how I look?"
Sirella opened Anderel's closets to see if she had anything more flattering to wear than her usual clothes. She didn't.
"Well, then, this will have to do. Let's go over this again, I cannot afford for you to make a mistake. You and I will beam to Kadar's ship, where I will present you to him and his mother, Ye'Nara. You will only speak when addressed, and you will remember to say what we went over."
"Here, come sit with me," Sirella sat on the bed in the room, and Anderel sat down next to her, "I know you are not happy about this. And I know you are not happy with me. Please, daughter, understand that I am doing this for you as well as our family. You are the daughter of the Chancellor. There is no woman more sought after in the Empire than you, yet you do not see that. I have had dozens of warriors come to me to ask for the chance to court you. Kadar was the best of them all," she placed her daughter's hand in hers, "Oh, Anderel, you have such a full life ahead of you with Kadar. Your whole life will be filled with experiences and opportunities that I have only begun to take part in. You will be the mistress of one of the greatest and most powerful Houses in the Empire. Most daughters would thank their mothers for making a match as good as this one."
Anderel was silent. She knew that her mother was doing what she thought was best. In reality, Klingons at this social level very rarely had the luxury of marrying for love. Marriages were arranged based on loyalties between and within Houses. As her father climbed higher and higher in the Klingon political arena, Anderel became less a person and more of a commodity. Her brother Drex was not immune, but he had been fortunate enough to find a mate of his own before this became an issue.
Anderel snickered, "I suppose I have Worf to thank for this."
"Because of Worf, my father is the Chancellor. And because Father is the Chancellor, I have lost the ability to choose my own husband. How ironic."
Sirella rolled her eyes, "Your father seems to think the two of you would have been perfect. I don't think you could possibly make a worse choice. Do not get me wrong, I respect Worf's position in this House and I honor him for what he has done for us. But, you could have any man in the Empire, why would your father sets his sights on him?"
Anderel did not speak, but suddenly felt her stomach turn. Here she was, about to present herself to Kadar, when Worf was who she really wanted. She sighed; her mother was right. Worf was probably the worse choice Anderel could make. He would bring with him nothing that she needed. And though she did not agree with the situation she was in, she understood and respected it. This was how things had been done among the rulers for thousands of years.
"I understand what I have to do," Anderel finally said, "Let's go."
The flagship of the House of Je'Tal was impressive. It was almost as large and stately as the Imperial Negh'Var that Martok arrived in. Anderel and Sirella beamed over and were taken to the ship's reception hall. Anderel remained calm, but Sirella was clearly nervous and uneasy. Anderel reach over and held her mother's hand to calm her.
After waiting about 15 minutes, the doors to the hall opened and a man entered. He was the personal valet of Kadar's mother Ye'Nara. He spoke, "It is my honor to present to you Ye'Nara, daughter of Rodon and her son Kadar, son of Je'Tal."
Through the door stepped a woman whose formidable stature and demander made Sirella cower. Ye'Nara was taller than most Klingon women, and Klingon women usually stood as tall as the men. She wore a large headdress that was designed in the shape of her ridges. Her hair hung all the way down to her back. She wore a huge and imposing cloak; it was a wonder that she could carry the weight of it. Yet her movements were graceful and fluid. Her chin was held high as she entered the room. Sirella and Anderel gave small bows in honor of Ye'Nara. She acknowledged them by tipping her head and lowering her eyes, but did not bow in return.
Behind Ye'Nara was her son, Kadar. For all the grace and poise that she had, he had none. He bounded into the room like an eager child awaiting a new toy, "So, where is she?"
Sirella spoke. She was nervous, but maintained her composure, "I present to you Anderel, daughter of Martok."
That was Anderel's cue to step forward. She stood before Ye'Nara and lowered her eyes respectfully. In ancient human cultures, marriages were often permitted or blessed by the father. Among Klingons, women handled these things.
Ye'Nara walked around Anderel a few times, looking her up and down like an animal being purchased at the market, "Good… How old is she?"
"Twenty-nine," Sirella answered.
"Older than I would like, and a bit short, but she will do," Yeh'Nayra replied, "What are your intentions?" she asked Anderel.
Sirella had drilled into her how to answer that, "I ask that I be allowed to prove my worth to you by undergoing the trials that you deem necessary. If you find me worthy, I ask to join your family as the wife of your son Kadar.
Yeh'Nayra seemed pleased, "I accept your request. Due to the nature of the situation, we will post pone the trials for now to allow you and my son the opportunity to get to know one another. They will begin as soon as we return to Qo'noS after the Day of Honor. Now, I will leave you and Kadar alone, the Mistress Sirella and I have things to discuss."
Ye'Nara swept past Anderel and went to Sirella's side. The two older women left the room, leaving Kadar and Anderel alone together.
He spoke first, "So, do you always dress like this?"
"It just seems a little too… modest for my tastes. We will have to fix that when we get home. Mother tells me that you are a professor at O'Ghat."
"I am," Anderel answered.
"Well, you will hardly have time for any of that," Kadar was in staunch contrast to his mother's formal demeanor. He sat on top of one the tables in the center of the room, "I will get right to the point. I spend most of my time commanding my father's personal fleet of starships, which is the largest private fleet in the Empire. I expect to only see you when I return to the Homeworld, which is not often. When I am away, I expect that you will occupy yourself with attending to the affairs of our House, which is quite large. My mother handles most things, of course. But you will be at her side assisting and learning from her."
Kadar got down from the table and began looking her over as his mother did, "Because of your rather… advanced age, I expect to begin having children immediately. I need to ensure my lineage as soon as possible. My parents foolishly only had one child. If I were to die, all that is theirs would be lost,"
Kadar then reached down and grabbed her rear end and fondled it. His hands moved to her thighs and then up to her breasts. He was inspecting her, and did not seem pleased, "I will only be sharing your bed for the purpose of child bearing. Beyond that, know that I intend to take lovers who are more suitable to my tastes. You, however, are not permitted to do so. I cannot have my lineage in question," he paused, "Well? Do you have anything to say to me?"
Anderel was fuming. Her fists were clenched tightly and she was trying desperately to keep her breathing even and calm, "I have nothing to say to you."
"Good. I'd prefer you kept it that way. Mother has told me all about you, and I do not find women like you at all interesting. You are not a wife or a mother and you are not a warrior. At your age, you would have never found a decent mate had you not been the daughter of Martok. Your family is doing well in this arrangement."
"And what is the benefit to you?
"Me? Most importantly, we will have the Chancellor's favor in everything we do. But besides that, we will be granted two additional seats on the High Council. No family in over 100 years has held 3 seats on the Council. It is what we deserve; we are the strongest by far."
"Enough of that… you will accompany me to all the festivities of the coming week. I expect to be presented to your father tomorrow after the treaty signing. It is important that my family have a place at prominent events such as this."
Kadar didn't wait for a response, nor did he respectfully excuse himself from the room. Once he was finished speaking, he simply walked out, leaving Anderel alone, angry and irritated. She was overwhelmed, and all she could think was that she wanted to talk to Worf. That was the one thing she could not do.
It seemed that San Francisco was bursting at the seams with Klingons who'd arrived for the treaty signing and Day of Honor celebration. There was the Chancellor's ship and all its crew and then the ships of artists, performers and opera singers and their crews. In addition, several prominent members of the High Council brought their personal vessels in order to attend.
Local business owners took part in the festivities as well. A lounge not far from Starfleet headquarters transformed itself into a Klingon bar and it didn't take long for the word to spread.
Worf was finished for the evening, and decided to stop in. If nothing else, he knew the owner had ordered real blood wine from the Homeworld. He'd had his fill of replicated synthehol.
"Father!" Alexander excitedly called to his father. He was at a table with several other staff members from the consulate, "Come join us."
Worf went to their table and sat. A waitress brought him a glass of blood wine immediately. Worf took a long drink from his cup; he could see why everyone liked this place. He took another gulp and began to relax immediately.
"Ambassador, if I may," one of his staff members, a young Klingon woman named Telara, spoke up. This was her first assignment as part of the team, "It has been an honor to work with you. I am very happy that I decided to serve the Empire by joining the Ambassadorial staff, and I look forward to our next assignment."
Worf had always been impressed with Telera, and told her so, "You have been an excellent addition to the staff. Though, most of our assignments are not this extensive. We spend most of our time on the Homeworld. I doubt we will ever do anything as important as writing a full treaty with the Empire's biggest ally. That is, unless we go to war with them again."
Out of the corner of Worf's eye, he saw a group of Klingons enter. There were four of them, and he new who the leader was right away. It was Kadar, son of Je'Tal. Kadar was a young man; at least 10 years younger than Worf. He'd been born into one of the largest and most powerful Houses in the Empire. He was the only child of Ye'Nara and Je'Tal, and they'd indulged him all his life.
Kadar had been commanding a ship for years. He'd distinguished himself in several space battles, though it was known that his hand-to-hand combat was lacking. Kadar was flamboyant and flashy. He talked loud, bragged often and drank a lot.
Worf turned to Alexander, "Come over to the bar with me." Alexander went with him without question. Worf wanted to keep his eye on Kadar, but without being too obvious. Kadar and his men were at one end, Worf and Alexander at the other.
"Who is that?" Alexander asked. Kadar walked with a confident and proud swagger. He felt everyone around him owed him their attentions. Not for the deeds he'd done, but because of the position he held.
"Kadar, son of Councilman Je'Tal," he replied.
"Is that who Professor Anderel is marrying?"
Worf nodded. He watched as Kadar ordered drinks for all his men, and then insulted the bartender for taking too long.
"So are we watching him?"
Worf took a drink from his cup, "We are… gathering information."
Kadar spoke loudly. Most Klingons spoke loudly, but it was obvious that he simply liked to be heard. Right now he was going on and on about the new ship his father has just had built for him. One of his men walked away, but returned with three young Klingon women who seemed very excited to be meeting Kadar.
"You are really Kadar, son of Je'Tal?" One of the women asked.
He smiled, "I see my reputation precedes me."
She moved closer to Kadar, almost sitting in his lap, "I hear that you are not mated… how does a fine warrior like yourself stays single?"
"Oh, I have mated, many, many times… but I am not married." Kadar laughed.
"That's going to change very soon," one of Kadar's men replied.
"Oh, yes, that," Kadar turned back to his female companion, "I am getting married, but, I promise you I will still keep myself available for beautiful women like yourself," Kadar let his hand brush against her exposed cleavage. She giggled.
"So, who are you marrying?" she asked.
Kadar looped his arm around her, "Chancellor Martok's daughter."
"Martok has a daughter?" Another asked.
"Yes, and she is quite forgettable," Kadar took another drink, "Being married to her will secure me two more seats on the High Council, though I am not certain if she is worth two seats. I'd say Martok should have to give me the whole council to marry her. I don't think I have ever met a more boring woman. I can barely stand to talk to her."
The group laughed, "I hear she is a teacher here at Starfleet Academy," one of his men replied.
"She is," Kadar answered, "Though all that will come to an end as soon as we are married. She will spend her time caring for my sons, and that is all. That is, if she can even make any. She is older than me and has never been married."
Alexander watched his father's face as fury rose up over it. Worf's jaw clenched tightly and his fingers gripped his cup. His anger was growing with every word Kadar spoke. How dare he speak of Anderel in such a way!
The woman pressed herself against him; it was clear that she'd been drinking for awhile. "You poor thing. How will you keep yourself happy with such a woman?"
"Do not worry about me, I always find ways to stay entertained," Kadar replied as he looked her body up and down, "You and your friends should come up to my vessel some time this week. We can get to know one another a little better."
Worf had heard enough. He pounded his fists angrily on the bar, "P'tak!"
That caught Kadar's attention, "And what are you so angry about? Did this bartender serve you some of his watered down blood wine as well?" Kadar's men (and now women) laughed on cue.
"You should mind your words before speaking of Anderel in such a manor," Worf replied, his voice was low and focused. He was like an animal crouched before pouncing.
Kadar pushed his woman aside and walked towards Worf, "Who are you?"
Worf stood and looked him in the eye, "I am Worf, Son of Mogh and member of the House of Martok."
"Oh, the Ambassador," Kadar took another drink, "So, what do you care?"
"Anderel is the Chancellor's daughter and I am a member of her House. You will take care how you speak about her."
Kadar was amused, "Or?"
"Or I will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
Words like that between Klingons only meant one thing. Kadar pulled out his d'k tagh and crouched into a fighting stance. Worf did not have a weapon, but he could take a man like Kadar with one hand. They circled one another for a moment. Kadar swung and plunged his knife at Worf several times, which Worf dodged easily. At the first chance, Worf hit Kadar in the face, which knocked him off balance and caused him to loose his knife.
They were hand to hand now, and Worf lunged at Kadar with a deadly fury. They were locked in battle. A crowd immediately formed around them. Kadar taunted Worf; his laughing sneer angered him all the more. There was a flurry of hits, punches and blocks. Worf got the upper hand, lifted Kadar off the ground and tossed him into the bar. Worf picked up the fallen knife and headed right for Kadar.
Worf didn't notice that the bar owner had called the authorities the moment the fight started. Starfleet security officers quickly filled the room. Two of them held back Worf, while two more picked Kadar up off the floor.
Even with his battered face, Kadar still managed to sneer, "A man only fights this passionately over a woman when he is in love," Kadar laughed, "You are a fool, Worf. You are no one and I am everything. I will marry your precious Anderel, and she will spend her life doing what I tell her to do. I will do with her what I wish, and there will be nothing you can do about it."
Worf was still seething but did not respond.
"What do you want us to do with these two?" the head security officer asked the bartender.
"Just get them out of here."
It had been a long time since Worf was thrown out of a bar, and never on Earth. Alexander left with him. Once outside, the security officer spoke first to Kadar, "I want you to beam directly to your ship. If you are caught causing trouble again, you will be disciplined according to our laws."
"This is not over, Ambassador. You and I will meet again, without the interference of Starfleet," Kadar taunted Worf one last time before energizing.
Once he was gone, the officer turned to Worf, "You are Ambassador Worf, aren't you?"
"I really do not want to take you in. Just stay away from him, okay? At least while you're planetside. What you do on one of the Klingon vessels is out of my jurisdiction."
"Yes." Worf repeated, feeling just a bit ashamed.
The security officers beamed away, leaving Worf outside with Alexander, "I cannot believe you did that, Father. This isn't the Homeworld, you can't just go around starting fight—"
"I need to see Anderel," Worf said.
"Don't you think you should calm down first?"
"I am calm."
Worf turned and walked away; trying to work through all the things he was feeling. Kadar's words stuck in his head. Not just the ugly things he said, but what he said to Worf as security broke them up, "A man only fights this passionately when he is in love."
Was he in love? Love was something Worf had only experiences a few times. He kept himself so guarded that he rarely allowed strong feelings like this to develop. He had been a young man, still at the Academy, when he first fell for K'Ehleyr. She was strong willed, opinionated and assertive. Their passion for one another was strong, but they were too different to ever have really worked. Then there was Jadzia, his par'machkai. She was like K'Ehleyr in many ways, strong willed and assertive. Worf fell for her hard, and what started out as raw passion turned into a deep love that left a hole in Worf's soul when she died.
Where did Anderel fit in? She wasn't like either of the women Worf had loved before. She was more like Worf than K'Ehleyr or Jadzia ever had been. How could he love someone so different from them? He really did not have an answer. All he knew was that whenever he saw her, he wanted to take her into his arms and keep her there forever. He looked forward to being with her and missed her when they were apart. The idea of her marrying someone else put a knot in the pit of his stomach that felt worse each day. And he wanted to rip Kadar limb from limb after hearing him speak ill of her.
Worf arrived at Anderel's building and went up to her apartment. He'd settled down some, but not much. He was a mess of emotions, and all he could focus on was seeing her and telling her how he felt.
Anderel answered the door. Worf looked down at her with an intense gaze. He took in the sight of her and suddenly it became perfectly clear. Worf loved her and he was not leaving until she knew it.
Anderel was surprised to see Ambassador Worf stood on the other side of the door. She was especially surprised to see the state he was in. His breathing was heavy, as if he'd been running. He had a bruise forming on his face, and a pool of blood in the corner of his mouth. His hair, normally neatly pulled back, was disheveled.
"What happened to you?" she asked.
Worf invited himself in, still seething and furious, "You can not marry Kadar. I will not stand by and watch it happen. I will not."
"Did Kadar do this to you?" She asked him.
Worf touched his bleeding lip, "He looks a lot worse than I do."
Anderel crossed her arms "Why were you fighting Kadar? Worf, I told you I have made my decision. You have to stay out of this."
"Tonight, I was at a bar with Alexander. Kadar and his men came in and he began speaking about you. He was going on and on, saying terrible things. I could not allow him to ridicule and dishonor you."
"He has no intention of being faithful to you. He does not appreciate you for who you are," Worf paused, his anger rising, "I do not want to repeat it all; it will only make me angrier."
"I know that he does not care for me now but in time, things will get better."
Worf raised his voice, "He does not deserve a woman like you. Your father would have killed him had he been there."
"Worf, calm down. Have a seat," he sat down at her table while she disappeared into the bathroom. She came back with a wet cloth and stood over him, "You cannot go getting yourself into fights over me. You are a Federation Ambassador."
"I am also a Klingon warrior. Why can I not defend your honor?"
"Because I am not marrying you," she began to dab the blood from his face and lips, "By doing this, you will only make things worse for me."
"So I am to sit and watch someone I care for be dishonored and mistreated?"
She sighed "This is not in my hands, Worf. This is just how things are done. I will deal with Kadar in my own way."
"Why are you doing this? Tell me the truth."
Anderel continued cleaning his face as she spoke, "I have always gone my own way and done what I wanted to do, even when it was not what was best for my family. As a child I was difficult and disobedient. I fought with my parents about everything. If they wanted me to go left, I'd go right. When we thought my father was dead, I was devastated. I enrolled in O'Ghat, and buried myself in Klingon history and culture, trying to make myself the Klingon I hadn't been. Then, when he returned to us, I swore that I would be a better daughter and do whatever I could for him," she paused, "This is something that I can do for him. I can be an honorable daughter who marries a man from a powerful House to strengthen her own. This is how things are done, Worf. I accept that."
"There are other ways for you to honor your father. Ways that do not involve you resigning yourself to a life of misery with a man not fit to clean your boots. You pride yourself on your knowledge and respect for our traditions and beliefs. Yet you know that it is dishonorable to marry one man when your heart belongs to another."
Anderel froze, "What are you talking about?"
Worf knew it was time. It was time to let down his guard and show her how he felt; time for him to be the aggressor, "I love you Anderel. And I know you love me. If you did not, you would have asked me to leave as soon as I got here," Worf reached up and stroked her arm, "If you did not love me, you would not look at me the way you do. You would not be caring for my wounds… or standing so closely to me."
Anderel was speechless. Her mouth fell open, but no words came. How could she respond to him? If she denied it, it would be a lie and he would see right through it. If she said yes, then she would be going down a path that she wasn't sure she could handle.
Worf asked her directly, "Do you love me?"
"Yes," she breathed. Anderel reached around and freed Worf's hair from its constraints, watching it cascade over his shoulders, "Yes, I do."
Worf gazed up at her. He began to stroke her back with his hands, first gently, then more aggressively, "All I want to do is to take care of you and keep you safe," he said to her.
"Is that all you want to do?"
"Well," he admitted, "That is not all I want to do."
"What else is there?" she asked coyly.
Worf hands traveled the length of her back, up over her shoulders and to her beautiful neck. He was not sure where this newfound confidence was coming from, but for right now, he was definitely enjoying it, "I want to have you. All of you."
Worf's directness both excited and caught her off guard. Anderel settled down into his lap and straddled his legs. Worf reached up and buried his hands in her mass of hair. He kissed her. The kiss was deep and fervent, filled with everything that had been building between them for months, everything they had been denying.
Worf removed his lips from hers, but still held her face close to his own, "Tell me you are not going to marry Kadar."
Breathlessly, Anderel shook her head, "I am not going to marry him. I love you, Worf."
Worf smiled, and they continued their passionate embrace, kissing, breathing, taking one another in. Their hands liberally explored one another's bodies. Their fingertips groped and their nails dug into each other's flesh in a desperate wanting. The raw scent of desire was so heightened that they felt intoxicated by it. What was about to happen was clear to them both.
In one sweeping movement, Worf stood up with Anderel in his arms. He began walking her towards her bedroom, but stopped just before entering. He looked into her eyes, and asked her very seriously, "Are you certain you want to do this?"
"More certain than I have been of anything else."
The morning sky on Earth was bright, much brighter than on Kronos. Anderel had been waking up to it for months but yet still was not used to it. She stretched her body, and then buried her head under the blanket. All at once the last night came flooding back. Anderel sat up quickly and looked around the room. There was no sign of Worf. Had it just been a dream?
As she tried to get her bearings, the door to her room opened and there he was. His voice was deep and mellow, "You are awake."
"Yes," Anderel replied, "I…" she paused; having no idea what to say to him. Had last night been the true start of something between them, or just a big mistake that they would both end up regretting?
Worf came over to the bed and sat next to her. He was fully dressed; it was clear that he had been awake for awhile. The truth was he had not slept much that night.
"Worf…this complicates things… in so many ways."
"I know that. I knew that when I came here last night and I knew that when I brought you to bed."
"When I told you that I loved you, I meant that," Anderel began, "But I do not wish to put you in this position. I have promised myself to someone else, and there is much at stake. Political alliances are hanging on this marriage, I cannot just—"
"You have not taken The Oath with Kadar, have you?"
She shook her head, "No, but—"
"Then I will challenge him for you."
"It will not be as easy as that. My mother—"
"I have dealt with Sirella before," Worf buried his hand in her hair the same way he had the night before, "I will take care of everything."
Anderel relished his touch. Wonderful memories of last night came back to her and she closed her eyes and smiled. After a moment, she spoke, "I only ask that you wait until we are back on Qo'noS. I want you and Father to focus on the task at hand. I do not want a feud over me to ruin all we have worked for here."
Worf did not like that, "I cannot watch Kadar with you another day. You are my par'machkai now and I must—"
She put her hand on his chest to calm him, "Worf, I am asking this of you. Do not do anything now. In a few days everyone will be headed back to the Homeworld. Things like this are best dealt with there. You are still a Federation Ambassador, and while we are here you must abide by those standards."
She was right and he knew it, "So does this mean that I cannot see you?"
Anderel smiled, "We will have to be discreet."
"I do not like the idea of sneaking around."
"You are doing it for the good of the Empire," she teased.
Worf's jaw clenched as he conceded to her, "I will do as you wish."
"Tonight is the banquet..." Anderel began.
"Which I am certain you will be attending with Kadar," Worf replied.
"I will not do anything, you have my word."
Worf stood, "I must go now. I have to meet with head of the Federation Diplomatic Corps before I return to Kronos."
She nodded, "I myself have classes to teach today."
Worf was not sure what to do next. Did her kiss her goodbye? Tell her that he loved her? Indecision got the best of him; Worf simply nodded, turned and left the room.
The banquet hall was wonderfully decorated. Alexander had been up since dawn coordinating all the efforts to make sure that tonight, the culmination of the week's events, went off without a hitch. To honor the historic treaty signing, a huge assembly hall had been transformed into a traditional Klingon banquet hall. All the Federation Ambassadors and dignitaries would be there, along with all the Klingon representatives. On the stage, a group of performers began to prepare for the evening.
Worf, whose service to the Diplomatic Corps meant that he was still a member of Starfleet, wore his dress uniform. He felt out of place wearing it amidst so many other Klingons. He did wear the crest of the House of Martok and decided to forgo pulling his hair back, as few Klingons ever did that. Besides, he knew that Anderel liked it loose.
The hall began to fill up early in the evening. Worf maintained a presence, greeting and engaging in small talk with dignitaries from the Homeworld and the Federation. This was definitely a part of being Ambassador that he did not like. But, as the person whose job it was to mediate between these two allies, he had to be visible and cordial.
Worf's view of the door was blocked, but he knew who'd just entered. A hush fell over the crowd as they all turned towards the door. In walked Chancellor Martok with the Lady Sirella by his side. They were both in their full dress regalia. Martok, as usual, looked like he was merely tolerating it all. Sirella, on the other hand, was confident. She held her chin high; her strides were even and graceful. She was the wife of the Chancellor, and relished in her role at every opportunity.
Worf began to walk towards Martok to greet him, when he was stopped in his tracks. Behind Martok and Sirella was Anderel. He had never seen her so radiant. Anderel was dressed as her mother was; her dress was fitted at the waist and showed off the ample cleavage that Worf had enjoyed just last night. Her long hair was dark as night and was held back with an elaborate crown. She wore a long flowing cape that clasped around her neck. The memory of burying his mouth in the gentle folds of her neck came back to him. The sight of her left Worf breathless; she was magnificent.
But the sight of who stood next to her put knots in the pit of Worf's stomach. Kadar escorted her into the room. Worf's fists clenched; it should be him standing next to Anderel, not that p'tak.
Anderel felt sick. She'd allowed her mother to dress her up like a miniature version of herself, and now she was standing with her arm in Kadar's, as if they were a happy couple preparing for marriage. She felt like everyone in the room was watching them. Anderel looked around, and found the one person who was indeed watching her. Worf's gaze was fixed on hers, and their eyes met. She held the gaze, and it was as if they were speaking without saying a word. He was telling her how much he wanted to be the one with her, and she was apologizing to him and asking him to be patient.
Anderel and Kadar took a seat at the Imperial table with Martok, Sirella, and Kadar's mother Ye'Nara. Worf decided against going to the table to greet them all. He took a seat at the table where Alexander and the rest of his staff were. Worf said little throughout the meal. Alexander did enough talking for everyone, going on and on about how happy he was that everything went as planned. Worf was immensely proud of his son and the work that he did. He was happy to let him bask in his success.
Besides, Worf could think of nothing but Anderel. He told Anderel this morning that he would handle everything, but in reality he knew that he was up against a lot. The house of Je'Tal was the most powerful house in the Empire. How could he stand against them? Even though he had no love for her, Kadar would not simply give up Anderel. And Sirella would be absolutely furious.
But then Worf thought of how it felt to wrap Anderel in his embrace. Worf looked toward her table to see how she was doing. She sat quietly, taking small bites of food and gazing aimlessly at the musicians. She was in a room filled with hundreds of people but she looked all alone. Worf searched the room to find Kadar. He was standing near the bar with a group of Klingons, laughing loudly and drinking heartily. This would be her life if she married him; Anderel left alone while Kadar indulged himself.
Just then, Kadar left his group at the bar and went over to Anderel. Kadar said a few words to her, and she nodded. He picked up his cloak that set on the chair next to her and headed for the door. His group of friends, both men and women, followed him out of the room. Anderel searched the room until her eyes met with Worf's again. Worf rose from his seat and went over to her.
"Professor…" he began.
"I would think we are past formal titles, Worf."
"I was trying to exercise the discretion you asked for earlier today."
"Well, my husband to be has retired for the evening. He and his friends will continue their own celebration aboard his ship," she smiled up at him, "Sit with me."
Worf sat, "How have you been today?"
Anderel was smiling for the first time since they parted this morning, "Well. Mother made me put on all this," she said, gesturing to her outfit, "I thought it was excessive—"
"No, no. You look magnificent."
That made her blush, "Well, if you think so," she reached up and stroked his hair, "I loved seeing your hair down last night. I am glad you did it again today."
As the dinner came to a close, the musicians played and many of the non-Klingon party guests were assembling in pairs on the dance floor. The Klingons watched in puzzled amusement as the humans and other aliens danced to the music. Worf stood and reached for Anderel's hand, "Dance with me."
Worf nodded, "Yes. I think you will enjoy it."
Anderel looked at the crowd nervously as she stood with him, "It looks rather odd."
Worf led her to the floor, "It is not difficult at all. Just move with me. It is like doing mok'bara, but with a partner."
Worf took one hand in his and put the other around her waist. He led and, as he suspected, Anderel was a quick study. Within a few moments, they were whirling on the dance floor with everyone else.
"Where did you learn to do this?" Anderel asked.
"Humans dance in this manner at most of their formal affairs. And for some reason, women often wanted to dance with me."
She laughed, "They want to see what the big scary Klingon can do."
"You are absolutely beautiful, Anderel," Worf said, "I was speechless when I saw you enter tonight. I wanted to take you in my arms right then."
"Well, I am in your arms right now."
Worf smiled and whispered to her, "Yes, you are… my par'machkai."
Anderel lowered her eyes, "Worf, how will we ever do this?"
He had no idea, but did not want her to know that, "Let us not worry about it tonight. Right now, we will enjoy one another."
That answer seemed to suffice. Her smile returned, "You and your staff have done an excellent job this week. The treaty between the Empire and the Federation is of extreme importance and you executed it all flawlessly. And then all the festivities that went with it… it's been amazing Worf."
"I would not say it was flawless. Agreeing on many of the conditions was not at all simple, but we did it. And the credit for this week's celebrations goes to Alexander, and to you."
"I am sorry to see it all end. It has reminded me of the pageants held in the times of Kahless. I think our people need this, to remind us to celebrate who we are more often."
"Well," Worf began, "If anyone can bring all this back, it would be you."
"So what happens now?"
"The Klingon vessels begin departing tomorrow. I am not sure when the Chancellor is leaving, but I am sure it will be within the next day or so. My staff has a few things to finish up, and then we pack up and head back to Qo'noS. My plan is for us to be gone by the end of next week."
Anderel's smile faded, "I see. My semester at the Academy has several more weeks still. And I will have to really get back into things. I have been a bit lax this week with everything going on, I am certain my students thought they were on vacation. Do you have to leave Earth so soon?"
Worf nodded, "I am afraid so. I have been away from the consulate for months. I will be swamped with work when I return."
"Well, then you probably won't notice that I am not around."
Worf looked down at her gently, "I will notice. When can I see you again?"
She laughed, "Ambassador, you continue like this and I'll start thinking you like me."
"Tomorrow then?" he asked eagerly.
"Well, I have to go back to the Negh'Var tonight with my mother so she can get me out of this get-up. I have an afternoon class tomorrow, but I can meet you for lunch."
"At your apartment?"
He conceded, "At the Russian restaurant?"
She smiled, "That's better."
On the other side of the room, Ye'Nara was furious. She was finding it hard to hold onto her graceful composure in the face of such an insult. Her eyes darted across the room until she finally found Martok and Sirella. She lifted the hem of her heavy dress and marched straight to them.
"Are either of you going to do anything about this, or will you stand by and just watch this dishonor unfold?"
Martok knew exactly what she meant; he had smiled when he saw Worf and Anderel step onto the dance floor together. Sirella, on the other hand, had not seen them, "What are you speaking of?"
"That!" Ye'Nara pointed an accusing finger at Worf and Anderel. Worf held her close to him, and the two gracefully moved in rhythm while they smiled and spoke gently to one another, "That is what I am talking about. Your daughter is dishonoring my son with her actions and if you do not stop it I will!"
Sirella felt the blood rush to her face. She was both angry and embarrassed. She opened her mouth to reply, but Martok spoke first, "You will do no such thing. Worf is a member of our House and an important dignitary to both the Federation and the Empire. If he wants to show my daughter a good time, then so be it. It is more than your son has done all week."
"My son does not have to entertain Anderel. She is promised to him and that is that. How he chooses to compose himself with her is up to him."
"Promised by whom exactly? They barely know each other. They have not yet taken the Oath, which means they have not formally stated their intentions. Arrangements made by someone else have no bearing. With Worf, my daughter is smiling. I have not seen her smile once with Kadar."
Ye"Nara looked to Sirella, waiting for her to speak up. Sirella wanted to speak but could see that her husband was not in the mood to be challenged, "My son and my husband will hear of this," Ye'Nara said angrily. She spoke directly to Sirella, "And if you want this alliance to take place at all, then Anderel will take the Oath with Kadar tomorrow."
With that, Ye'Nara stormed out of the room. Martok took a long drink from his cup before turning to his wife, "Now this all makes sense. Were you ever going to tell me?"
Sirella kept her chin high in quiet defiance, "I do what needs to be done to protect the future of this House. The House of Je'Tal is the most powerful on the council. We need strong allies, and this marriage will ensure that."
"I will not sell my daughter into a dishonorable marriage just to hold onto power that I never sought in the first place. If I lose my seat as Chancellor, then so be it."
Sirella looked him directly in the eyes, "I married you for love, Martok. I threw away power and status to marry a man from nowhere with nothing. We have worked our whole lives to get to this point, and you would throw it all away?"
"I have worked to serve the Empire. The power and status I have achieved were never the goal for me, and if they are gone tomorrow I would not miss them."
She shook her head, "There is no use arguing about this with you, you will never listen to reason."
"Not these reasons."
"I am going to retire to our vessel for the evening," she respectfully bowed her head to him, "You handle this however you see fit." With that, Sirella turned and left the room.
Martok stood alone, looking around the room in disbelief, "How did I get here?" he asked himself aloud. He was born to a poor, powerless farming family in the Ketha Lowlands. He started out as a lowly bekk on freighter after having been passed up for an officer's commission by Kor. He earned one on his own later on, and from there he began the path that led him to here. Along the way, he fell in love with Sirella and had his own children. She had married beneath herself to be with him and sometimes Martok thought she took pleasure in reminding him of that fact, as if she'd done him a favor. Maybe it was his fault; he adored her, put her up on a pedestal and did everything in his power to keep her happy.
He sighed, and looked again at Worf and Anderel. Worf was the most unusual man he's ever met, yet he'd come to love him like his own son. Martok knew that a more loyal and true person did not exist. He's take one Worf over ten Kadar's. No, he would not say anything to either of them. If this was meant to be, he would not stand in the way.
Anderel had a smile on her face as she headed back to her apartment the next day. She'd expected her mother to be upset about her dancing all night with Worf, but Sirella had been surprisingly silent. Meanwhile, her father had an uncharacteristic grin on his face much of the night. Anderel spent the night on the less than comfortable ship, she'd gotten used to the cushier accommodations on Earth and was looking forward to sleeping there again tonight. Maybe with Worf… The thought made her skin flush and her heart quicken.
Anderel opened the door to her apartment and gasped.
"What in Kahless's name are you doing here?"
Casually sitting on her couch was Kadar, her affianced. He stood when she entered, "I was beginning to become impatient waiting for you to get here. Dare I ask where you spent the night?"
"How did you get in here?" she demanded.
"You think a Federation lock could keep me out?"
Anderel's heart was pounding, but she refused to let him see how much he'd rattled her by showing up like this, "You have not answered my question. Why are you here?"
"My mother had some interesting things to say about what happened after I left last night."
"You mean after you left to go entertain your whores?"
Kadar's voiced was raised and he began moving toward her, "You spent the entire evening with that p'tak Ambassador. Everyone is talking about it. I will not be made a fool of!"
"You are already a fool, Kadar, there is nothing I can do to change that."
In one quick movement, Kadar backhanded Anderel across the face. The blow was so startling it took her breath away and Anderel hit the floor on impact. Kadar knelt over her, "You will not speak to me in that manner. If you are to be my wife then you will need to learn your place. I came to let you know that I am not going to wait around for you. You will return to my ship where we will take The Oath and be on our way to the Homeworld. All of this Federation nonsense is over for you right now. "
Anderel touched her lip and saw that it was bleeding. She looked squarely in the eyes, "If you think I am going to marry you then you are indeed a fool."
Kadar was not used to be told no. He was rich, powerful and good looking. Women fell at his feet, women much more desirable than Anderel. And yet this plain, boring excuse for a woman was telling him no? His blood boiled at the thought of it.
Kadar grabbed her by her shirt, lifted her from the floor and hurled her over to the couch, "This is because of him, isn't it?" His voice was like venom as he spoke, "You would turn down all I have to offer you for a Federation Ambassador?"
Anderel's head was still ringing from his blow, but she was not going to cower to him, "Worf is more of a man than you could ever hope to be," she put emphasis on the next phrase, "In every way."
"You've mated with him, haven't you? You let him touch what is MINE?"
The next moment, all Anderel was aware of was the feeling of Kadar's fists pummeling her over and over. She was in a fog of pain as he kicked her repeatedly, in her chest, her stomach, her back. He was speaking, angrily cursing her and Worf, but she could not make out the words. Like the spoiled child that he was, when Kadar did not get his way he lashed out in anger, tearing down whatever was in his way.
She layed on her floor, gasping for breath. Anderel could feel her pants being ripped from her body. She wanted to cry out, to fight him off, to run away, but her body betrayed her. Tears ran down her bloodied and bruised face as she felt him forcefully enter her. What was in reality just a few minutes seemed like hours. When Kadar was spent, he stood over her triumphantly.
"Women are like animals, and sometimes they both need to be broken. Now you know who is in charge."
Anderel heard nothing else as the room faded to black.
Worf had sat alone at a table at the Russian restaurant nearly an hour. He had met Anderel countless times over the last few months and not once had she ever been late. He tried to contact her using his comm badge but he got no response. Sometimes being planetside was a pain, he'd have to go back to the Ambassadorial complex to gain access to a central computer to locate her. Worf decided to go to her apartment first since it was on the way on the off chance that she'd simply forgotten.
Upon approaching her door, Worf went to override her security code (something a Starfleet Commander could do) when we found that it was unlocked. The door slid open and there she was. Instantly Worf was on the ground at her side. His mind took him back to the moment he found K'Ehleyr lying lifelessly on the floor so many years ago.
She was unconscious, but the rise and fall of her chest let Worf know that she was still alive. Worf's voice wavered as he said her name repeatedly, "Anderel!" He gently shook her body trying to rouse her.
Her eyes fluttered until finally she opened them, "Worf, thank goodness it's you."
He looked down at her and his chest tightened with a mix of fear and anger. She had been badly beaten, her face was swollen and bruised and her clothes were torn. Her pants were ripped almost completely from her body and blood stained her inner thighs. The sight of that made Worf angry beyond control. Someone was going to die, "Who did this to you?"
"Kadar was here. He knows about us and he was hysterical," Anderel tried to sit up, but gasped for breath and clutched her chest in pain.
This was his fault. Worf had been cavalier in his actions and hadn't considered the wounded pride of someone like Kadar, "I am sorry, this should never have happened to you. Let's get you to medical. I will deal with Kadar.
Worf had himself and Anderel beamed to Starfleet Medical. He contacted Martok and within minutes the Chancellor was there as well. Just as Martok was entering the Doctor emerged and spoke to them both. Worf had not said much when he contacted Martok, only that Anderel ws hurt.
"She is resting comfortably now," the doctor began "As you know, she was beaten very badly. She has broken ribs, a mild concussion and numerous cuts and contusions," she paused before continuing, "The physical damage will heal quickly. Now, I am no expert on Klingons, but in most cases the psychological damage from this type of attack will not heal as easily."
Martok gave a confused look to both the doctor and Worf, "Psychological?"
The doctor looked almost afraid to say it, "In addition to being beaten she was attacked… sexually."
Martok was furious, "What? Who did this?" Martok asked Worf.
"Kadar." Worf answered.
"Would you like me to contact Starfleet Security so that you can file—"
Martok held up his hands, "No, this is a Klingon matter and we will handle it ourselves."
The doctor nodded, "I would like to keep her overnight, but she should be ready for release tomorrow."
The doctor left the two alone and Martok immediately asked again, "Kadar did this? You are certain?"
"Anderel said so herself when I found her."
Martok's first instinct was to waste no time in taking his own bat'tleh and running it through Kadar like the animal he was. But, even though Anderel is his daughter, this was not his fight. If Worf wants Anderel to be his mate, then it is him who needs carry out the Right of Vengeance.
Decidedly, Martok said to Worf, "Then kill him."
Kadar was frantic. He had done some impulsive and foolish things before but this was by far the worse. And not just because he attacked and forced himself on a woman, he'd done that before. Because he attacked and forced himself on the Chancellor's daughter. He beamed back to his ship immediately and went straight to his mother's chambers.
As usual, she was dressed regally, like she was the Chancellor's wife and not Sirella. In her mind Ye'Nara was far more fit for the roll than Sirella ever was.
"Mother, I'm assembling the crew, we are leaving Earth immediately!"
"Excuse me? What has gotten into you? Is Anderel aboard? We are not scheduled for departure until tonight, and I need to see Sirella about that daughter of hers before we go."
"Look, I am tired of this boring planet and I want out of here right now. We will deal with Anderel later."
Ye'Nara knew her son. She knew that the frenzied tone of his voice, the way he was aimlessly pacing back and forth, and the sweat that beaded on his forehead meant that something was wrong. She and Je'Tal had tried, but they'd failed to instill in him the values that an honorable warrior should possess. Perhaps it was because he was their only child. They indulged his every whim and now he was a spoiled and immature man who would never be able to lead their house successfully.
"Kadar," her voice was firm and focused, like a mother scolding a child, "What is going on? Have you done something?"
"Why are you asking me that? I am the Captain of this ship and if I want to go then that's what we'll do."
Her eyes narrowed, "You answer my question. If you're asking me to disregard my meeting with the wife of the Chancellor, your future mother-in-law, then I need to at least know what I'm running away from."
"I'm not going to marry that woman, I don't care what deal you have made. She is a horrible match for me. Not to mention the fact that she has been with that Federation Ambassador."
"Is this about last night?" Ye'Nara softened. Maybe her son was just upset that Anderel was seen with another man, "I assure you that is nothing to worry about. They are members of the same house, practically brother and sister. She is promised to you, Kadar."
"They are most certainly not brother and sister. She admitted to mating with him. But she now knows what happens to those who betray me."
The worried feeling came back, "What did you do?"
"I don't have time for this. You have been informed. I'm heading to the bridge," Kadar turned to leave but Ye'Nara grabbed his arm. They had been down this rode before with other women. If Kadar couldn't have what he wanted, he would take it by force.
"Did you hurt her? Kadar, she is not some nobody that we can pay to keep quiet. She is the daughter of the Chancellor. He will kill you when—"
"Which is why we need to leave, now!"
While this was happening, Worf beamed first to Martok's ship and then to Kadar's. He didn't want to go directly from Earth to Kadar's so that the Federation could not easily tie him to the murder that was about to take place. In his hand he gripped the handle of Martok's mek'tleh tightly and headed towards the bridge.
When he got there, the sparse crew didn't seem to notice him enter.
"Where is Kadar?" He demanded in a loud voice.
Just then, from the door on the other side of the bridge, Kadar entered, followed by his mother. Worf did not want to do this in front of her, but so be it.
Kadar's chest tightened. He looked back at his mother, his eyes pleading with her to find him a way out of this. She shook her head silently, he would have to face what he'd done. Ye'Nara knew that this would probably end with the death of her son.
Kadar titled his chin up defiantly, "What are you doing here? Shouldn't Martok's lap dog be by his side at all times?"
"You know exactly why I am here," the distance between the two men began to close, "What you did to Anderel, my par'machkai, was cowardly and dishonorable. If you want to fight someone, fight me."
One of Kadar's crewmen handed him a bat'tleh, a larger and heavier weapon than the one Worf had. The memory of a debate Worf once had with Jadzia over which weapon was better came to mind. He was about to prove Jadzia wrong.
The men entered the traditional battle stance and circled one another a few times, sizing up their competition. Worf's anger flared as he looked at Kadar. He could see rips in the arms of his clothing, no doubt where Anderel had tried to fight back. But she was petitie for a Klingon woman and not a warrior, so she would have been helpless against Kadar.
Just as in their first fight, Kadar swung first, a sloppy blow that Worf was able to parry easily. A few more of those blows came and Worf knew quickly that Kadar really was all bark and no bite. The crew of the ship gathered round them cheering on the fight as Klingons always did when two warriors battled.
"If you want her, Worf, she is all yours. Having had her today I can tell you it's nothing I want to revisit again."
That comment sent Worf's anger reeling. The men volleyed back and forth until Worf got him right where he wanting him. Kadar held his bat'tleh vertically and pushed against Worf's mek'tleh. Kadar was trying to push Worf to the floor, thinking his larger weapon would prevail. Meanwhile, Worf's goal with to put just enough pressure on the weak point in Kadar's blade.
With a loud snap, the bat'tleh broke in half leaving Kadar defenseless. With a quick twist of his arm, Worf's mek'tleh swiped across Kadar's throat and Kadar dropped to the floor, lifelessly. The crew's cheers grew silent. Worf was panting breathlessly as he looked down at the man lying at his feet. The anger that had built inside of him subsided.
His eyes moved toward Ye'Nara who was standing silently in the corner. Her chin was proudly tilted upward and her hands were tightly clasped behind her back. Her only son was dead, but she showed all the poise and composure that a Great Lady should. Worf walked towards her; part of him, probably the part that spent his life with humans, felt like he should apologize to her. Instead, Worf silently stood before her, lowered his eyes respectfully, and then quietly left.
Worf went back to the hospital. He wanted to tell Martok that he'd avenged his daughter's honor. He wanted to tell Anderel that the man that hurt her would never breath a word to anyone ever again. When he got there, Martok was still there and Sirella was with her.
"It is done," Worf said to Martok.
"What is done?" Sirella asked. She looked at Worf's clothes, which were still splattered with blood, "What did you do?"
"He did what was necessary," Martok said, "Kadar had to pay for what he'd done."
"Fools," Sirella replied, "Now we have made an enemy of the family that we needed on our side. Now we will have a blood feud on our hands that could last generations."
"Were you not listening to me before? Did you not hear what he did to her?" Martok asked, " I should kill Kadar's father when we return to the Homeworld just for raising such a dishonorable son."
Sirella turned her frustration towards Worf, "If you had stayed in your place and left Anderel alone none of this would have happened. None of it. Kadar was angry at her because of you. She was promised to Kadar and should never have gotten involved with you."
Worf had taken a lot from Sirella over the years, and in this moment, with the drying blood of the man who attacked her daughter on his clothing, he'd had enough, "Since meeting Martok, everything I have ever done has been for him and the good of this House. Kadar was without a shred of honor and for you to try to force Anderel to marry him was appalling. He had nothing but contempt for your daughter and saw her as a political pawn," Worf turned toward Martok, "I love Anderel and I will stand against anyone who would do her harm."
Sirella was seething at the audacity Worf was displaying. Martok spoke instead, "Then that is all there is to it. If there is a feud between the Houses then so be it. I do not like Je'tal anyway, I'd be happy to meet him on the field of battle."
"I am going back to our vessel," she finally managed to say, "Please keep me informed as to her condition."
Sirella tried her best to gracefully leave the room without showing how shaken she was by Worf's words. She didn't succeed.
"I will go speak with her; you are correct and she knows it. Her pride is just wounded right now," Martok said.
"Chancellor, I never meant for this to happen. And for what it's worth I do feel responsible. I underestimated how Kadar would react to having something he thought was his taken from him."
Martok put his hand on Worf's shoulder, "Having you by my daughter's side brings honor to her and our entire family. Go see her now and let her know that everything has been taken care of."
Anderel was asleep when he entered her room, so he pulled up a chair and sat and watched her for awhile. He gently touched the faint outline of bruised skin on her face. Just as seeing her lying on the floor made him think of K'Ehleyr, seeing her lying on the bio-bed made him think of Jadzia. His breath quickened at the sight of it; he swore right then that he could not let the past repeat itself. He would protect her life at all costs, against anyone or anything. He had lost so much, he could not lose her.
Unlike Jadzia lying on the bio-bed years ago, Anderel awoke after awhile and sat up when she realized he was there. Or, she tried to sit up. With the breaks in her ribs still freshly fused maneuvering her body was difficult to do, "Worf, where have you been? I have been asking to see you but they told me you'd left." Anderel could see the blood splattered across the front of his clothing, "What happened to you?"
"Kadar is dead."
"You killed him?"
He nodded again.
"Thank you," she replied genuinely.
Worf smiled down at her, "I could not let him get away with what he did to you. How do you feel?"
"Sore," she said, squirming a bit, "But I am okay. Mother was here."
"Yes," Worf nodded, "She and I… spoke."
Anderel smirked, "What does that mean?"
"Nothing for you to worry about now," Worf stroked her hair, "You need to focus on healing." He thought about what the doctor had said earlier. About how even after her physical scars healed, there might be emotional ones left behind, especially due to the graphic nature of the attack.
"I'm sorry you have to see me like this. I feel so, dirty. Used."
This must be what the doctor meant, "You are just as beautiful as you've always been. Nothing Kadar could do will change that."
Anderel turned her face from his, "I should have been able to fight him off, to defend myself. Especially when he…" her voice faded away and her eyes welled with tears.
Worf gently kissed her forehead and looked into her vulnerable eyes, "We will not speak of this again, my love."
"Stay with me, please."
He smiled at her, "Always."
"It sounds like it will be a lot of work. Are you sure you're going to be up for that?"
Anderel rolled her eyes, "Yes Worf. You are worse than my father. I am fine."
The two strolled along the Academy campus. They had just had dinner together at the Russian restaurant and now they were walking towards Anderel's partment. She had her arm linked in Worf's as they walked. It was late and there weren't very many students on campus at this time of night. Worf had spent the day at the consulate closing down his operation on Earth. Tomorrow his entire staff would be going back to their offices on Qo'noS.
"So it will be some time before I see you again."
"Yes," she began, "But we will stay in touch."
Anderel had a few more weeks before she was finished with her classes at the Academy. And just this morning she'd been offered a spot on a cultural expedition to one of the outlying colonies in the Klingon Empire. She would be studying the way of life of Klingons who had not adapted a warrior culture and instead lived in a farming community. Even though she had healed from the attack, Worf was still worried about her. But more than that he didn't like the idea of them being apart for so long.
His silence was speaking volumes so Anderel spoke instead, "Once the expedition is over, I will be back on Qo'noS in time for the term to start at O'Ghat. And then…" he let her voice trail off. She really wasn't sure what would happen next between them. Would Worf want to get married?
Worf did finally speak, "I am certain your father will keep me busy."
Anderel laughed, "You can count on that. And you can use all your free time to get to know my mother better."
Now it was Worf's turn to laugh, "I am sure she would love that."
Their laughter subsided as they approached Anderel's building, "Worf, I want to thank you again for what you did for me."
He smiled down at her, "You do not have to thank me."
"I have never had a man fight for my honor. It's rather flattering."
"Kadar got what he deserved. He was not worthy of you."
She lowered her eyes a bit, "I know I'm not like other Klingon women. And I'm not used to being desired by a man."
"Well, as much as I try to deny it, I am certainly not like most Klingon men," he gently touched her face, "And I do desire you."
"You are not going to forget about me while we're apart are you?"
Worf laughed again, "I will think of nothing but you. I killed a man for you. If that doesn't convince you that my intentions are genuine then I do not know what will."
"I'll be in class when your ship leaves tomorrow," she said, turning the conversation toward the inevitable as they arrived at her front door.
"Then we will have to say goodbye tonight."
Anderel nodded, "Yes." She didn't know why but she was afraid. She had never really been in love before and she worried that this time apart could be more than their fledgling relationship could handle. With months and millions of kilometers between them, they would be going their separate ways before they really began.
Worf was aching to be with her the way he had been the night before the banquet. But since her attack he knew that he did not want to rush into anything physical until she was truly ready for that again. Would she invite him in to say good bye, or would they part right here?
The unspoken question lingered in her mind as well. She had done her best to be strong in the wake of Kadar's attack, but it had left her confidence shaken. How could she be the woman Worf desired when she'd been violated so brutally by another man?
Her voice wavered as she spoke, "Would you like to come in?"
"Only if you wish it," Worf responded, doing his best to give her an out.
Anderel hesitated. "I…"
Worf could sense her apprehension and knew that she was not ready. So instead of going in, he simply pulled her into his arms and kissed her. It wasn't as ardently passionate as kisses they'd shared before, but it was filled with all the promise of what lay ahead for them, "I will see you when you return to the Homeworld."
A breathless, "Yes," was all she could say. They held other's gaze for a moment longer, and then he left.
The Council Chamber on Qo'noS was an imposing place; soaring ceilings, dramatic fireplaces, and weaponry covering every inch of wall space. Sometimes Worf had to remind himself that this was really his life now. He lived on the Homeworld. He served both the Empire, the home of his birth, and the Federation, the home of his rearing. He was a respected member of one of the most powerful and honored House in the Empire; the House of Martok.
Today he'd gotten a message to come to Martok's chamber but he wasn't sure why. When he got there, Martok and Sirella were already there.
"This is where it begins. I have a horrible feeling about this."
Martok patted his wife's hand, "Relax Sirella, we do not know the meaning of this just yet." Martok saw Worf enter, "Brother! Now that you are here, we can get this over with. Je'Tal and his wife Ye'Nara asked for an audience with the three of us."
"The three of us?" Worf repeated.
"This cannot be good," Sirella said.
The door to the chamber opened and in came Je'Tal and Ye'Nara. Martok and Sirella stood, both proudly staring down the couple that had just entered. Worf's stomach was in knots. This was where they two of them would announce that the Houses were officially at war with one another over the death of Kadar, the death that Worf had caused under Martok's orders.
Je'Tal and Ye'Nara approached the Chancellor and his wife. Yet surprisingly, when they got close, the both dropped to their knees, "Chancellor Martok, Lady Sirella and Ambassador Worf. We have come to beg your forgiveness for the dishonor brought upon your daughter by our son Kadar, Je'Tal continued, "His actions were his own and in no way reflect that of the House of Je'Tal."
It was Ye'Nara's turn, "We tried to raise our son to be an honorable warrior, but clearly we fell short of that. Ambassador Worf had every right to kill him and we came to make sure you know that we have no ill will because of it. This matter ends here."
Martok was dumbfounded. This was not what he expected from a man like Je'Tal at all, "Stand up," he ordered, not at all one for having others bow at his feet, "It takes great courage to admit when a wrong has been done. I consider this matter closed as well. There will be no bad blood between us."
"As a sign of our good will, we still commit the support of our fleet to you, Chancellor, in whatever need you may have for it…" Kadar's voice trailed off, as if he was waiting for Martok to offer something as well.
Martok exchanged glances with Sirella and she nodded. Now he knew why they were really here, "So even though our children clearly are not going to be married, you would still like to honor the terms of the deal that my wife and yours negotiated without my consent?"
Ye'Nara spoke, "An alliance between our Houses is still in our best interest. Grant us two more seats on the Council and we will use them to vote in the Chancellor's favor on all matters."
Marok grumbled. He did not like back room political dealing. He was a warrior, not a bargaining Ferengi. His eyes met Sirella's again. She thrived on this kind of thing, "What do you think, my Lady?"
Sirella was giddy at the idea of having Ye'Nara to grovel at her feet, "One more seat on the Council."
Martok looked back to Je'Tal, "Is that agreeable?"
The two men locked forearms, the Klingon method of sealing the deal with a handshake.
When the two were gone, Worf finally spoke, "I did not expect that."
Martok laughed "Nor did I, my friend. It looks like you did us all a service by eliminating Kadar."
"Everything I do, I do for the House of Martok," Worf said again, looking at Sirella as he spoke.
"You continue to prove me wrong, Ambassador," she finally said. "I am beginning to think you take pleasure in it."
"What Worf takes pleasure in," Martok teased, "Is our daughter."
"Sir…" Worf began nervously.
Martok laughed again, "So when are you going to get her to come home and settle down?"
"If she will not settle down for Worf, I don't think that girl ever will." Sirella replied.
"Her expedition ends in ten days, then she will be returning to the Homeworld."
"And then?" Martok asked.
Worf stiffened. He had to remember that Martok wasn't just his friend, he was Anderel's father, "I will have to ask Anderel about that."
"Well, don't take too long. Sirella might start making more deals if you do."
The door to Worf's Ambassadorial apartment on Qo'noS slid open and Anderel stepped in. It was located on the top floor of the Federation consulate building, right at the heart of Capital City on the Homeworld. The view was amazing, large windows made up nearly every wall and framed up the lights of the city beautifully. The apartment was built by one of the former Ambassadors, Curzon Dax, an irony not lost on Worf. It was built to suit his lavish and indulgent tastes and was very different from the crew quarters on the lower floors. Adding to the irony was the fact that K'Ehleyr and Alexander had lived here for the short time that she served as Ambassador.
Anderel's chest was tight; she was nervous. She and Worf had not seen one another for almost two months. In that time they'd spoken when they could and sent messages to one other when times allowed. But just as so much had happened between them in the time they were together on Earth, she had no idea what affect the absence would have on them.
She stood in the doorway, chest heaving, trying to find the right words. Worf had been reading reports at the large dining table near the windows, but he crosssed the open space between them in just a few steps. In what seemed like an instant, he was standing before her. Standing closely; closer than acquaintances, but not as close as lovers.
"Professor." With just one word he said so much. His voice was low and gentle, like a deep rumble in his chest. The tone was filled with relief. As if he'd been waiting for her and could breathe a sigh now that she was here. But he used her title and not her name.
His presence, as usual, overwhelmed her. She's forgotten how he towered over her, and how his deep-set eyes always showed the emotion his words tried to hide. She wanted to be in his arms, to feel the strength of his body fold her into him. She decided there was no need to be coy, either he wanted her still or he didn't, "Worf, I've missed you very much."
Worf let out the sigh of relief that Anderel had sensed he was holding in, "Please, come sit with me."
He led her to the couch, it looked large enough to seat twenty people, "This place really is… different," she said.
"Yes, it is. I am not sure how long I plan to make it my home."
"Are you leaving the Homeworld?"
"No, just the opposite, I think I would like something more permanent," he paused and went out on a limb, "My life, and the people that matter to me most, are here now."
Anderel lowered her eyes, "So what now?"
Worf's mouth opened, but no words came. He had been asking himself that since they parted on Earth two months ago. What did he want now? To make her his wife? It was the logical next step and Anderel would be a fine mate for him. But, was he ready for that, really?
She sensed his hesitation in answering and decided to change courses a bit, "I mean, for you. What are you up to now?"
"Oh, well, I will be here on the Homeworld for the foreseeable future. Perhaps a few short term assignments will take me away, but nothing like what I did on Earth."
There was a silence between them and they were sitting close to another yet not touching. It was as if they had so much to say yet neither one of them had the courage to say it. Sitting there in a room that both Dax and K'Ehleyr had lived in made Worf think about something. Both of those women were the aggressors in their relationships with Worf, they pursued him. Anderel was different. If Worf wanted them to pick up where they'd left off, he would have to be the one to make it happen.
Worf took her hand in his, "I am glad to have you here," he paused a moment, "I have missed you."
"Then I'll ask again," she said with a bit of a smirk, "What now?"
Worf's heart was pounding. He spent so much of his life forcing himself to reign in his impulses and desires that it was difficult to let go of those inhibitions. But looking at her seated there, her dark hair hanging over her shoulders, her thick lips, her beautiful brown skin, her generous hips…
Before he knew what he was doing, Worf was kissing her. In the blink of an eye it all came back, and all that time apart seemed to melt away. His hands found all the places on her body they'd come to know and love. She settled into his arms and their familiar security came back to her. Anderel leaned back on the couch and Worf positioned himself over of her. She looked up at him and smiled, "There you are, Worf."
He smiled back at her, "I told you I have missed you. And I do not want to be apart from you anymore, par'machkai."
Her smile got even wider, "You'll never have to be."
"Is that what you're wearing to the opera?"
Sirella stood in the doorway of Anderel's room at the Imperial Mansion. Though Anderel spent the majority of her time living on the campus of O'Ghat, occasionally she lived here with her parents. Sirella secretly treasured the time that her daughter was there with them. It made the huge house not feel so empty, especially since Martok was often away on one mission or another.
"Worf never expects me to dress up, Mother."
"And that is exactly why you should. It's always good to keep a man guessing," Sirella walked over to her closet and sifted through the sparse selection. She pulled one out, "Here, this one will do nicely."
"Of course you think so, you gave it to me."
"And I think I have yet to see you in it. Go ahead, put it on. I will be right back."
Anderel smiled and obliged her mother. Since returning to the Homeworld, she'd been pleasantly surprised by Sirella. She actually seemed supportive of her relationship with Worf. Worf said it must have had something to do with Sirella getting the upper hand over Ye'Nara after all. Whatever the reason, Anderel was happy. Happy enough to indulge in her mother's desires to dress her up whenever she could.
Sirella returned to the room to see her daughter wearing the dress she picked for her. In her hands was a box of jewels, "Sit down, now." Anderel obeyed and her mother stood behind her and began brushing her thick, black hair, "You have your father's hair."
Anderel smiled, "Worf loves it."
"How are things with the two of you?"
"Good, I think. We don't get to see each other very often, though."
Sirella frowned, "Why is that? Does that job of yours keep you away from him?"
"It's not just my job, Mother. He is the Federation Ambassador, he's not exactly sitting at home every day."
"Has he discussed marriage with you yet?"
"Mother," she said, almost embarrassed to admit that he had not, "We are not there yet."
"And why not?" Sirella asked. "Is this a modern thing, a man not making his intentions known to his par'machkai? Especially after the two have mated, which I'm sure you have, I've seen the way he looks at you."
Now Anderel was embarrassed, "Mother, I am not going to discuss pur intimacies with you. Not that there is anything to discuss anyway."
"So Worf's a man of tradition? Prefers to wait until you take The Oath of Marriage?"
"No, I don't think that's quite it," Anderel sighed, clearly this conversation was going to be had whether she wanted to or not. And in all honesty, she did want to talk to someone about it, "We did just once," she began quietly, "It was before Kadar...violated me. And now, I just cannot bring myself to let him…"
Sirella stopped what she was doing and kneeled down next to her daughter. Anderel's eyes were lowered, the shame of her attack was still fresh in her mind, "Oh my daughter, my beautiful daughter..."
"I am not so beautiful, Mother."
"Worf thinks so. Have you spoken to him about this, about how you are feeling?"
She shook her head, tears welling in her eyes, "I do not know how he will react."
"You know, we Klingons pride ourselves in our strength and in our ability to face down anything. But we get that strength from each other. The Klingon heart does not beat alone. We are like the opposite of Vulcans, our emotions run deep on every end of the spectrum. Share this with him."
Anderel nodded, "Yes, Mother."
"Now, let's finish getting you ready."
The voices of the soprano and baritone soared through the hall. There was a packed house for the opening night of the newest Baraq Kadan and Terah Nu'El opera. Being Ambassador to the Federation and accompanying the Chancellor's daughter meant that they got the best seats. It took some work, but Worf and Anderel were able to get their schedules to work out so that they could do this together.
It had been a month since Anderel returned to Qo'noS, and this was only the third time that she had been with Worf since then. The new academic term began at O'Ghat, and her home near campus was very far from the Capital City. Using a transporter was the only reasonable way for her to come into the city to see Worf, but she didn't have easy access to one. Meanwhile, he'd had two assignments that took him off world for a few days at a time.
Things between them were good, but they had not quite returned to where they were before parting ways on Earth. Their careers kept them so busy that there had not been time to ignite the spark that started months ago. Worf looked over at her and smiled to himself. She was focused intently on the performance, sitting just slightly on the edge of her seat. Anderel usually kept her appearance plain, but she was dressed beautifully tonight. She wore a long gown in a deep purple color. As was the fashion with Klingon women, the neckline was generous enough to show Worf that which he hadn't seen up close since that night long ago on Earth. She was decked out in gemstones, probably borrowed from her mother for the occasion. And her hair, Worf's favorite thing about her, was woven into an intricate braid and adorned with more jewels.
Worf was having a hard time focusing, even though Kadan was one of his favorite performers. He remembered something Martok had said to him when he was having doubts about marrying Jadzia, "Honor gives little comfort to a man alone in his home... and in his heart." Ironically, the phrase still applied to him now. So what was he going to do about it? Marry Anderel? That's what he wanted, wasn't it? Why else pursue her, why else kill Kadar to preserve her honor?
The performance ended to thunderous applause. Anderel's face was beaming with emotion, her cheeks wet with tears, "Wasn't that amazing?"
Worf has barely noticed the final act, but he did not want to admit that, "Yes, amazing." He paused, and then asked, "Would you like to come home with me tonight?"
Anderel was surprised by his request; he'd never so directly asked her that before, "Yes, sure," she answered hesitantly.
When they got to Worf's apartment, Anderel was still apprehensive. Why did he ask her here? Did he want to rekindle their physical relationship? She remember what her mother had said to her earlier that night. But in the back of her mind she worried that by sharing her fears with him she would seem weak.
Worf's intentions for having her there were much more innocent; he really just wanted to finally spend some time alone with her. He felt like everything they'd had was slipping away and that was the last thing he wanted.
Worf handed her a drink and they sat on his couch together, "You really are stunning tonight," he said, "I could barely focus on the performance."
She blushed, "You have my mother to thank for that."
"Tell me, if you could live anywhere on the Homeworld, where would it be?
Anderel was a bit taken aback by the question, "Why in the world do you ask that?"
He took a drink from his glass, "No real reason."
She took a drink and thought a moment, "Well, in all honesty, so much of the Homeworld is so chaotic. So much noise, so many people, so much congestion. I would live someplace simple. A place where the hot sun blazes over open fields. My father once took us to the Ketha Lowlands, the region where he was born. Most of the inhabitants are laborers and farmers, not many go on to become warriors with the Defense Force. I think Father is sometimes ashamed of that simple heritage," she laughed, "I know Mother is. But being there with those people, they hold so much of the heart of what it truly means to be a Klingon. To have pride in your family, honor in your deeds. It's why I went into anthropology."
That's not the answer that Worf was expecting to hear, but he was intrigued nonetheless.
"What about you?" Anderel asked, "You said you didn't want to stay here on the top floor of the embassy forever. So where would you go?"
His first instinct was to reply "Wherever you would go," but that would give away his plan. So instead he said, "I am not quite sure yet. You have lived on the Homeworld a lot longer than I, perhaps you will have to show me the best parts."
She smiled, "Perhaps." They shared an awkward silence, those seemed to be a common occurrence between them these days. Finally Anderel spoke, "I should get going," she said as she stood.
Worf stood with her, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am. Thank you for tonight, I really did enjoy it. You are the first person I've ever met to share my passion for the opera."
I would love to simply share your passion, Worf thought to himself. "It is late; I would feel better if you stayed here. Please."
Her breath quickened, "Okay."
"Have I told you how beautiful you are tonight?"
Anderel laughed, "Once or twice."
Worf moved closer and let his arms encircle her waist, "Have I told you how much I love you?"
"Once or twice," she teased.
He bent over her and their lips met. Anderel's hands gripped Worf's strong arms as she let him kiss her. Being in his embrace was the best thing in the galaxy.
Anderel pulled her lips from his but stayed in his arms, "Worf, I'm afraid."
"I would never do anything to hurt you, you have to believe that."
"I don't want you to think any less of me. I don't want you to think I'm not strong, or that—"
"I will be strong for both of us. I want nothing more than to take care of you and protect you."
She kissed him again, this time holding nothing back. Worf's nose filled with the scent of passion that meant only one thing; she was ready. He knew that tonight there would be no broken bones or bruises. Tonight he would be gentle with her, he would make sure she felt safe, secure and loved.
Professor Anderel sat in her office reading dissertations written by her students on the brief part of Klingon history where the High Council was ruled by democracy. She sat back in her chair and rubbed her eyes, she had been reading all afternoon and the words were beginning to run together on her screen.
She decided to take a little break. Her view out of her window was of an open field. In the field there was a squadron of new recruits practicing hand to hand combat. She laughed a bit; it was a very different sight than what she would see looking out of her window at Starfleet Academy.
Thinking of that time on Earth inevitably led her thoughts back to her par'machkai. The last time she and Worf were together was the night of the opera. She'd spent the night, in his arms and in his bed. The next morning Worf made (well, replicated) a steamy pot of raktijino and a traditional Klingon breakfast.
The door to her office opened, snapping Anderel back to reality, "Forgive the intrusion Professor," her assistant began, "But there is a priority one subspace message for your from Starfleet Academy."
"The Academy? Route it to my monitor here," she said.
Anderel activated the screen and before her was the head of Academic Planning to Starfleet Academy, Dr. Michael Therodun. He was the man that had initially invited her and Negella to lecture at the Academy earlier this year.
"Professor. I hope you have a moment to speak with me."
"Dr. Therodun, of course. What can I do for you?"
"We were very pleased with the courses you delivered to the Academy students. Our courses on Klingon history and culture have been sporadic thus far, just a subset of the Alien Cultures department. However, after you and your colleague's time here there has been increased interest in the subject."
"I am glad to hear that," Anderel replied.
He continued, "We have decided to expand and to start a Klingon Studies department. We would like you to come aboard as Lead Professor and Department Head."
"Sir, I am honored that you would consider me for this. Would this begin?"
"I realize you have previous commitments with O'Ghat, and I would not expect you to leave those immediately."
"Again, I am very honored, but I don't know that I can give you an answer right away."
"Is this something that you are at least willing to consider?" he asked.
"Yes. Most definitely."
"Good. I am forwarding my contact information to you, please get back to me as soon as you have made a decision and then we can discuss the details."
"I will. Thank you."
The transmission ended. Anderel stood from her chair and began pacing the room. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Granted, most Klingons would balk at the thought of leaving the Homeworld and moving to Earth. But professionally, this was something she could not turn down. At O'Ghat she was just one of many instructors, but Starfleet Academy was one of the most respected institutes of learning in the quadrant, second only two the Vulcan Science Academy. Being a department head there would put her among the academic elite. All the ideas she'd had for research and cultural expeditions could come to fruition. She could share with others all the many facets and intricacies of Klingon culture.
But all of it meant that she would have to leave her home and move to Earth. Her mother would lose her mind. And Worf, "Worf," she said aloud. The thought of him made her heart sink. Things would never work between them with him living here and her living on Earth. It was bad enough with them just working on different parts of Qo'noS. Worf loved his job as federation Ambassador. More than once he'd told her that he had finally found a way to serve the Empire, the place of his birth, and the Federation, the place of his rearing. He loved finally being able to live on the Klingon Homeworld amongst his own people. He would never leave it to go back to Earth.
And how could she even ask him to. After all, they had made mo promises to one another. They'd confessed their love for one another, but beyond that they just focused on enjoying one another's company in the present. Never did they talk about their future together. Worf asking her where she wanted to live one day was the closest they'd come to that, and he himself admitted that he was just making conversation. They never discussed marriage, never discussed taking the oath. Perhaps he did not want to be married again. Perhaps their lives didn't allow room for that anyway.
Anderel looked out the window again at the squadron below. If she'd never met Worf, this would be an easy decision. Then again, if she'd never met Worf she's be married to Kadar and miserable. She laughed at the irony; she'd been willing to give up her career for a man she didn't love, but now couldn't bear the thought of doing it for the man she did.
Several days had passed since Anderel had gotten the job offer from Starfleet Academy. She hadn't seen Worf since then, and decided that she wanted to tell him in person. When he called and asked her if she could spend the day with him she agreed and told herself that she would bring it up to him and see how he responded. She really had no idea what she was going to do, she deiced to base her decision on how Worf reacted to the news. But even still that she was still unsure what that really meant.
"So where are we going?"
They were at the loading bay at the Federation Embassy. She and Worf were getting into a land-based shuttle craft. These vehicles were not designed for space flight, but could take passenger and cargo around the planet quickly. This one was Federation issue, part of the perks of being Ambassador.
"It is a surprise." Worf said as he sat in the pilot's seat. Within minutes they were on their way.
"How long will it take to get there?"
Worf laid in the course, "About an hour."
"And you're not going to at least give me a hint?"
Worf smirked, "Not in the least."
During the ride to wherever they were going, Anderel kept trying to find ways to bring up the job offer on Earth but the moment never presented itself. That and the thought of mentioning it terrified her. Thankfully, Worf was full of nervous chatter. He talked about Alexander, his latest hunting trip with Martok, and the fact that he secretly enjoyed being able to get Human food at the Embassy.
The shuttle began its descent. Anderel looked out the front window, trying to figure out where they were. They were far from the Capital City, or any city for that matter. In the distance, he could see a herd of wild beasts migrating across the open country side. There was a winding river that cut a path through vast fields of kitacha wheat.
Worf's fingers moved quickly across the panels as he landed the shuttle and brought it to a stop. He turned to Anderel, extended his hand and smiled at her as he said, "Come with me."
She followed him. They were parked about 100 meters from a house. It was the only thing as far as the eye could see.
"Where are we?" Anderel asked. She breathed in the hot air and let the heat if the sun warm her face.
"Ketha." Worf said.
She turned to look at him, "Ketha? The place I told you about? My father's home?"
He nodded, still smiling, "Yes. Come."
Taking her hand again Worf led her to the house silently. A knot formed in her throat as they approached. It was exactly as she had described to him just weeks ago when they were last together. Finally they came to the front door.
"Whose house is this?" Anderel asked, though she had a feeling what the answer was going to be.
"I purchased it."
"Over the years, I have never done much with my earnings from Starfleet. So, I bought it. The house, plus the two square kellicams that it sits on. It has always been a dream of mine to own a home on Qo'noS. Your vision helped me make that a reality."
Worf entered a security code and the door slid open. The house had very few furnishings, but was big. Way too big for Worf to occupy by himself. Worf watched with a smile as she wandered around exploring every part of it. As Anderel explored, the knot in her throat turned into a pit in her stomach. A house and land. If there had even been a glimmer of hope before, she was certain Worf would never go to Earth with her now.
"Here, I want to show you something," Worf led her to a room at the back of the house. She opened the door to it and was perplexed by what she saw.
"Is this a… a transporter room?"
He nodded, "It is not yet fully operational, the installation began just the morning. I had wanted to wait until everything was ready to bring you, but I suppose I was just too excited."
Anderal ran her hands along the consoles, it was obviously Federation issue, "How did you ever get a Federation transporter in a house on Qo'noS?"
"I had to call in a few favors. It is only a Level 2 transporter. The range will cover transport to anywhere here on Qo'noS, but not beyond planetside."
"Why would you need a transporter?" She asked though once again she knew the answer already.
Worf came close to her and spoke gently, "I do not want you to be far from me anymore."
Right then she decided this was not the time to bring up Starfleet Academy.
"When do you move in?" she asked.
"I am going to have my things brought in while I am away on Deep Space Nine."
"Deep Space Nine? When?"
"I just found out this morning. It's an assignment for Starfleet, outside of my ambassadorial duties. They need me to train the new Bajoran sector Strategic Operations Officer."
Anderel thought for a moment, "I got an invitation to attend a conference on Bajor. I wasn't planning to go, but perhaps I will. We could spend a few days together on the station before the conference. I would love to see the place where you lived and worked for so long."
"It was not that long, just about 4 years."
"It was an important 4 years."
Worf was surprised by what he was feeling right now. It was as if they excitement about the house was gone as soon as he was faced with the prospect of going to Deep Space Nine with Anderel. He could not tell her that she couldn't go, because frankly he did not know why he didn't want her to go.
"Alright. Then we will go together."
Worf arrived on Deep Space Nine a few days before Anderel would. He had taken a transport vessel instead of his Ambassadorial ship, and was reminded of how spoiled he'd become to traveling in his own accommodations. The whole way there he pondered the question of his future with Anderel. He'd saved her from a marriage of misery to Kadar. He'd purchased a home for her to live in with him. So why had he not claimed her for himself by taking The Oath?
While the tradition of marrying someone as soon as you mated with them had fallen out of favor among most young people, it was still the case that Klingons did not have long courtships like other species. At this point in their relationship he should be declaring his intentions or moving on to someone else. He knew he did not want to move on; he loved Anderel and did not want anyone else. Worf knew he needed to talk to the one person who could help him sort this out.
When Jadzia smiled, it was like she was teasing you. Her eyes would dance coyly and her lips would form a flirty smirk. Ezri's, on the other hand, was giddy and innocent, almost childlike. It was hard to know what Jadzia was thinking or feeling, but Ezri wore her emotions in plain sight for everyone to see. As Worf walked through the airlock he could see Ezri's excited smile waiting for him on the other side. Her smile was infectious, it was hard not to smile at her in return.
As soon as he was close enough, she hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek. She'd come alone to greet him, Worf was happy about that. He had only seen Ezri one other time since leaving DS9 for his new position.
"Ezri, it is good to see," Worf replied sincerely.
She looped her arm in his as they walked away. Ezri and Worf's relationship was… complicated. It wasn't something that was easily explained to others. They had been married, weren't anymore, but were not divorced. So they had the admiration and rapport of a husband and wife without the physical attachment of a married couple. Well, they'd shared the physical attachment once, but that was all.
"Let's go have some lunch," she said.
"Not at Quark's."
Ezri laughed, "We can catch up at the replimat."
Once they'd gotten lunch and sat down, Ezri began chatting right away, "Okay, so tell me all about her. And don't leave out any details."
Worf and Ezri didn't see each other much but they stayed in contact, so she knew about his relationship with Anderel, "She is…" Worf smiled, "Glorious."
"We really need to work on your adjectives. Every woman you like is 'Glorious.' What does she look like? Is she short or tall-"
"Short like me?"
Worf seemed almost offended at the implication that she be as short as Ezri, "No. But not tall like Jadzia."
"Does that mean you can't break bones with her like you did Jadzia?" Ezri teased.
"Counselor, I do not that that is appropriate for you to ask."
She laughed, "Worf, there is nothing appropriate about you and I."
He conceded to that, "Anderel and I are …very satisfied in that department."
"So then when's the wedding?"
Worf took a big drink of his prune juice, it was not something he could easily get on Qo'noS, "I have since discovered that not as many people adhere to that tradition as I thought. But that said, no, we have not taken The Oath yet."
"Any why not? Don't you love her?"
Worf paused. The answer was of course yes, but for some reason he felt guilty admitting that to Dax, "I would not share my bed with a woman I did not love."
"Yet you have not insisted upon marriage the way you did with Jadzia?"
"Jadzia taught me that rushing into something simply based on tradition is not always the best course," Worf paused, "And what about you and Dr. Bashir?"
Now it was Ezri's turn to squirm, "What about us?"
"I have not received a wedding announcement from you either."
"That is completely different. We are still very young. And I'm still trying to figure myself out."
"You are not young, and neither is the doctor. You have been married—"
"Six times, yes I know. I thought we were talking about you."
Worf laughed, "We were."
"Alright then, next question. What does Martok think of you and his daughter together? No, let me guess. Martok loves it and Sirella can barely stomach the idea."
"Very good. It was the Chancellor who suggested we go out together in the first place. Whereas Lady Sirella thinks her daughter could do much better."
"Well," Ezri replied, "Sirella has been wrong before." Ezri paused, and her tone became more serious. She knew Worf and she knew that something was holding him back, "Do you want to get married again?"
"Of course I do," he said dismissively.
"No, be honest with me; don't just tell me what you think I want to hear."
Once again Worf turned the question back around on her, "Do you want to get married again?"
Ezri sat back in her chair "Alright, I'll bite. It's not that I don't want to get married. It's that I don't want to wake up one day and not be married. I have been married six times, and three of those marriages, Tobin, Torias and Jadzia, ended because of my death. The feeling of waking up knowing that the person you were deeply in love with yesterday is the person you cannot even see anymore today is… it is more than I can bear again. 'Til Death Do Us Part' has a cruel irony when you are a joined Trill."
Worf had never thought about Jadzia's death from that perspective, but to go through that over and over again had to be a painful prospect. Since Ezri had shared that very personal perspective he owed it to her to do the same, "It seems that the pain of death haunts us both. The only two women that I have ever truly loved died right before my eyes. Would marrying Anderel mean sentencing her to the same fate that K'Ehleyr and Jadzia suffered?" Worf paused, "I also wonder if marrying again means that I have gotten over Jadzia. I do not ever want to get over Jadzia; I want to keep her with me forever. So much of who I am is because of her. It is because of her that I can even have a healthy relationship with Anderel that is not filled with jealousy and insecurity on my part."
"It seems like we're both pretty messed up," Ezri said.
"We should see a counselor."
She laughed, "There's that sense of humor of yours."
"You know, we should not be sitting here telling each other these things. We should tell them."
"Anderel and Julian?" Ezri asked.
"When did you become so emotionally balanced?"
He smiled, "Jadzia taught me."
Once again, the airlock opened to allow passengers from today's transport vessel to board the station. This time is was Anderel that stepped off and onto Station Deep Space Nine. She gripped the strap of her pack tightly as she walked; as much as she wanted to hide it, just being here made her nervous. This station was the tangible representation of a part of Worf's life that was very important to him, but that he kept very guarded from her. Anderel knew that if she was to ever really be his mate that she would have to peel back this final layer of his complex personality.
Anderel stepped off the platform and looked around. She'd gotten a message from Worf that morning saying he'd meet her there, but he was nowhere to be found. She stopped a Starfleet officer walking by, "Excuse me, I'm looking for Ambassador Worf, do you know where I could find him?"
"Sure, I can help you with that," the officer tapped his comm badge and the computer responded, "He's in Quark's bar. It's easy to find, it's on the bottom level of the promenade. Just follow the noise."
"Thank you." Anderel began walking that way. She was trying to stay calm and to give him the benefit of the doubt as to why he would forget about meeting her up so he could hang out in a bar.
When she got to the bar she looked around and quickly spotted Worf. He was in a corner, playing some sort of game with a woman. Anderel hung back for a moment and watched. The game involved throwing pointed tip objects at a target on the wall. Worf seemed to be doing quite well, the woman was not. But with every bad throw the woman seemed to laugh more. And with every laugh, she hung on Worf's arm even more. Anderel narrowed her eyes and headed towards the two.
She cleared her throat, "Ambassador."
Worf turned and his mouth dropped open. He looked to Anderel, then to the woman and back to Anderel again, "Anderel, when did you get here?"
"Exactly when I said I would." Anderel's voice was very calm, almost too calm, Worf knew she was angry. This was not a good way to start off this visit.
The woman Worf was with spoke up. She was petite, almost childlike. Her hair was very short, a stark contrast to Anderel's long, thick mane. She spoke too quickly, and stammered her words, "I'm so sorry, it's my fault. We started playing darts and lost track of time."
"It is no problem at all," Anderel was speaking with the too-calm voice again, "The walk from the airlock was not far."
Worf almost didn't want to introduce the women. Anderel knowing that he'd forgotten her because he was with Dax would make it even worst. But there was no getting around it, "Anderel, I would like to introduce Lieutenant Ezri Dax. Dax, this is Professor Anderel, daughter of Martok."
Ezri reached out and shook her hand vigorously, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Worf's been telling me all about you every since he got here."
Anderel nodded respectfully, "I have heard much about you as well. Though, you look different than I expected."
"That's because Worf's probably been telling you about Jadzia Dax. I'm nobody worth mentioning, really."
"Nonsense," Anderel said, "You carry the memories of all your previous hosts, including Curzon Dax and Worf's wife Jadzia."
Suddenly, a voice came over the comm system, "Commander Worf, you are needed in the ward room."
Not now, thought Worf. Instead, he tapped his badge and responsed, "I'm on my way." Worf looked to Ezri, "Lieutenant, could you please show Anderel to my quarters? I will be there as soon as I can."
If Worf was a telepath he'd be able to hear Ezri screaming, "Don't you dare put this on me, Worf!" But instead, she smiled and said, "Of course."
Worf quickly left the bar. Ezri clasped her hands behind her back, "If you would follow me." Ezri tried to walk as quickly as she could without forcing Anderel to run behind her. She could feel Anderel's eyes boring holes into her back. Why was she feeling like the other woman right now? She and Worf hadn't done anything wrong. They really did just lose track of time. And meeting someone at the airlock wasn't a big deal anyway. It's not like he left her stranded on Qo'noS.
"Here we are," Ezri said as they came to his door. She reached to the panel and keyed in his security code.
"You know his entry code?"
Damn. "Yes, but only because he still uses the same one from back when we were married. I mean, when he and Jadzia were married.
Anderel silently entered the room and set her pack on the couch.
"If there is anything you need, just let me know," Ezri said quickly then turned to leave.
"Lieutenant, I'd like to speak with you if you have a moment…"
"Sure," Ezri stepped all the way in and let the door slide closed behind her. Her hands couldn't be any more tightly held behind her back.
Anderel paced for a bit, and then began speaking, "When Worf told me he was coming here I knew that I had to come with him. I know much about Worf, his life on Earth, his time at the Academy and on his first post the Enterprise. I even know all about Alexander's mother K'Ehleyr and their relationship. But what he hardly ever talks about, is DS9. Or Jadzia. So that tells me that there is a lot here that he hasn't gotten out of his system."
Ezri did not respond, just listened.
"So," Anderel continued, "I had to come to see this place. To see it and to see you."
"There has never been anything between Worf and I," Ezri finally said.
"Oh, I understand how joining works, I know you are not Jadzia. But to Worf, you are the embodiment of the wife he loved and lost. His only connection to her is you. I love Worf, very much. He has come to mean a great deal to me. He is everything I ever wanted in a mate. But I do not think he can say the same thing about me."
"You shouldn't say that, Worf told me he loves you, he—"
Anderel put her hand up, "It is okay. I know that to him, Jadzia was perfection. And her being taken from him just as their lives began only served to solidify that within in. You know him better than anyone, better than I probably ever will. What I want to know from you is," Anderel took a breath, "Is there any chance that I might one day be first in his heart? Will he one day speak of me the way he speaks of her? Is there any hope that I might be the great love of his life? The Lucara to his Kahless?"
The emotion in her voice, the mix of sadness, hope, pain and love was enough to make Ezri cry. But she knew tears would come off as pity to a proud Klingon woman and she did not want to insult her. Ezri also knew that she could not answer her question the way she wanted. And if she lied, Anderel would see right through her, "In all honesty… I don't know. You are right about Jadzia; he puts her up on a pedestal. He had no problem finding fault with her when she was alive, but now it's like heresy. I know he loves you, but, I really don't know if he can give you what it is you want from him."
"Does he need more time? Will that help him to get over her?" Anderel's voice was almost pleading.
There were those damned tears. Ezri looked up, trying them will them to roll back into her eyes, "I don't think time is the issue," Ezri paused, she almost felt like she was betraying Worf by telling Anderel all this but his words from the other day were ringing in her ears, "Worf doesn't want to get over Jadzia."
Worf was virtually running back to his quarters. He knew Anderel was not going to be happy when we got there. First he forgot about her transport vessel, and then he got called to an impromptu meeting. Worf was never late for anything, so for him to forget about her was no small thing. When he got to his quarters Anderel was sitting at his desk using the computer. She looked up at him briefly, but wordlessly went right back to whatever she was doing.
Worf sighed. She was not going to make this easy. Women never did, "I trust you have made yourself comfortable," he said awkwardly.
He was just going to have to dive right in, "Anderel, I apologize for today. It was not my intent to—"
"No apologies are needed. You were where you wanted to be."
"Are you implying that I would rather be with Dax than with you?"
"Yes," she said definitively, still not looking up from her work.
"Anderel," he began, trying his best to diffuse this before it became an issue, "My relationship with Dax is very complex. It is difficult to explain."
Anderel finally looked up at him, "Try explaining your relationship."
"Well we are of course good friends. She knows a lot about me, and carries the memories of everything Jadzia and I shared," Worf stopped for a moment, he didn't want to talk about this with her and was losing his composure because of that, "I do not have to explain this to you. I have done nothing wrong."
Before Worf came in Anderel had been readind the specifics about her job offer from Starfleet. Right at that moment she decided it was time to break the news to him, "I got a job offer, from Starfleet Academy. They want me to work there on a full time, permanent basis."
Worf's heart dropped. He went from feeling angry to afraid all in one moment, "What?"
"The position is Department Head of Klingon Studies."
Worf needed to sit down. He came into the room and sat at the table across from her desk, "What are you going to do?"
"Up until a few hours ago I had no idea. Now, I think that I am going to take it."
"So you would be moving to Earth, permanently?"
There was a silence in the room that hung like a weight in the air. Anderel desperately wanted Worf to take this chance to tell her that he wanted to be with her forever, that she was the only woman for him and that he wanted to marry her.
"What about you and I?" he finally asked.
"You and I? Worf, you know I love you very much. And you have done so much for me; I could never begin to express my gratitude. But I don't want you to be with me only because the woman you really want is locked up in someone else's body."
Worf pounded his fists on the table, "How can you say something like that? You do NOT understand my feelings for my wife!" he said angrily.
Anderel stood from the desk, walked toward him and stood over him at the table, "You're right, I don't understand. And the reason I don't is because you don't want me to. You don't want to move past this life. You don't want to get over Jadzia."
Worf narrowed his eyes. That was almost exactly what he'd said to Ezri, "Where did you hear that?"
"I spoke to Dax about you. I had some questions that I knew only she could answer."
Worf rose slowly. Now instead of Anderel looking down at him, he looked down at her, "It is not your place to ask Dax anything. My relationship with Dax, Jadzia or Ezri, is my own. It is none of your concern."
"You are never going to open up to me about this, are you?"
Worf's staunch silence was her answer.
"I see," Anderel went over to the corner where her bag sat. She picked it up and slung it over her shoulder.
"Where are you going?" Worf asked, his voice sounded more annoyed than concerned.
"I know where I stand; there is no need for me to stay any longer. What I find ironic is that you are the one who taught me not to settle for someone who will never really love me."
Worf stared at the door for a few minutes after she'd walked out of it. His emotions were a mix of many things right now, though the prevailing one seemed to be anger.
"Computer, locate Lieutenant Dax."
"Lieutenant Dax is in her quarters."
The door to Dax's quarters slid open and Worf stepped in. She was seated on the couch, alone thankfully, reading a book. Like Jadzia, she preferred paper books to reading on a padd. She placed her book down when she saw him, "Worf, what are you doing here?"
"What did you say to Anderel?"
Oh boy. He was mad.
"Worf, don't come in here yelling at me. She asked me a few questions and I answered honestly."
"Those things that I said to you were spoken in confidence!"
"In confidence? You're the one that said we should be telling them our feelings," Ezri continued, "Is she mad?"
"She is gone."
"Wow. Well I certainly didn't think—"
"No you did not think," Worf snapped.
"Hey," Ezri stood, not one to let Worf's temper intimidate her, "You shouldn't have left me with your girlfriend, whom I barely know. I didn't go volunteering any deep dark secrets about you. But she asked me point blank if you could ever get over Jadzia. I couldn't lie to her. That would be dishonorable."
"Somehow I do not think honor was your motive."
"So what did you say to her?"
Worf's shoulders slumped and his voice softened, "Nothing."
"Good job, Worf," she said sarcastically, "Where is she now?"
"I do not know."
"Are you going to go after her?"
"She is finished with me."
Ezri put her book back on the shelf, "I think that's what you want, Worf. Now you're off the hook. Now you don't have to get over Jadzia."
Worf couldn't decide if he should be angry with her or concede to the fact that she was right. Surprisingly, he was leaning towards the latter. He sat down on her couch and shook his head, "Perhaps I am not cut out for relationships."
Ezri rolled her eyes. One of the biggest differences between her and Jadzia was where Jadzia would indulge Worf when he got like this, Ezri did not, "Stop it, Worf. If you didn't want to have a relationship with Anderel then why did you fight for her? Why kill the man she was supposed to marry?"
"He was a p'tak and deserved to die."
"So then you just did it to bring justice to the universe and not for Anderel?"
"I did it for her," Worf admitted.
Ezri sat down next to him, "Do you remember when you and Jadzia took the trip to Risa?"
"How could I forget?"
"On the last night, you shared something very personal about yourself with her. You told her about the soccer accident from when you were a child and how much it affected you."
"That's the moment Jadzia knew she was in love with you."
Ezri took his hand in hers and smiled, "Before that, you were so guarded. You made it impossible to get close to you because you refused to share any part of yourself. I know that for a warrior the last thing you want to be is vulnerable. But when you show some honesty and vulnerability to the person you love, it can strengthen the relationship. Anderel just wants you to share the part of yourself that was once happily married to Jadzia. But you're keeping it locked up like sharing it with her means she'll take it away from you."
Worf quietly took it all in. As usual, Dax was right about him, "You know me better than anyone ever has," he said gently, "I could never understand why someone as amazing as Jadzia would want to be with someone like me."
Ezri smiled, "She knew it from the moment she first saw you. Remember? In Quark's bar? You laid a Klingon warrior out on the floor like it was nothing. Jadzia thought to herself, 'Finally, someone interesting.' You know how she loved to be challenged, and you were definitely a challenge."
"She could have had any man on the station."
"Oh, and she knew that. She liked that you didn't drool all over her like a lovesick schoolboy. But because of that it took a year to get you to finally see that she was interested. She had to literally hit you over the head with a bat'tleh to get you to see it," Ezri laughed.
Worf smiled at the memory, "I never imagined that she was actually interested in me. She flirted with everyone, I just thought she was teasing me the way she teased Dr. Bashir or even Quark. I took more than my fair share of cold showers after spending time with her, especially when we were in the holosuite together."
"Do you remember that time, in the holosuite, when she wore the skintight red leotard?"
"Do I?" Worf said, "I wanted to have her right then and there."
"Well, she would have let you," they shared a silence, then Ezri spoke again, "You know, you need to share these things with Anderel. Share Jadzia with her, she is a part of you."
"It may be too late. Once a Klingon woman has made her mind up, there is not much that can be done to change it."
"Klingon or not, Anderel is still a woman. And there's nothing a woman loves more than to have a man admit he was wrong while declaring his love and showering her with compliments."
Anderel was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Bajorans. She caught the last transport of the night from DS9 to Bajor immediately following her "discussion" with Worf. Because of her unexpectedly short stay on the staion, she arrived at Bajor two days ahead of schedule. The conference coordinator happily secured lodging for her and now she sitting on the balcony of her room overlooking the city of Ilvia. The State Museum of Bajor, the location of the conference, was here, as well as the Ilvian Medical Complex.
She got up that morning, made herself a strong pot of raktijino, and sat on the balcony alone with her thoughts. The day before she'd explored the city, viewed many of the museum exhibits, and tried Bajoran cuisine. The spiciness of hasperat reminded her of Klingon food. Tomorrow the conference would begin and she could occupy herself with that and not the fact that she'd walked out on the only man she'd ever loved.
"So now what?" she asked herself aloud. There was always the job on Earth. She'd told Worf that she was going to accept it, but she'd only said that to scare him. In reality, she wasn't so sure. Anderel's true love was her own people. How could she continue her work as a Klingon historian and anthropologist when she was spending her time in a classroom on Earth?
Anderel let her eyes close and let the heat of the sun warm her face. Her thoughts began to turn towards her next projects when they were interrupted by the sound of a knock at the door.
Her heart lept and her eyes popped open. Could it be him? She had been secretly hoping he'd knock at the door since she got here. Then again, it was probably just the manager making sure she was okay. As she walked towards the door she told herself that if it was Worf, she would not show him how happy she was to see him.
Anderel opened the door, and there he was, "Worf," she said as calmly as she possibly could, "What are you doing here?"
"May I come in?"
"Yes, of course," Anderel stepped aside and he entered the room. She walked back to her seat on the balcony, again trying her best to pretend like she was indifferent to his presence. She took another drink of coffee and looked up at him, "What can I do for you?"
Worf stood on the balcony with her, his hands nervously clasped behind his back. He looked straight ahead at the view instead of at Anderel, "We need to talk."
"I have said all I have to say."
He sighed. It was time to start groveling, just like Ezri said he'd have to, "I do love you, Anderel."
"I believe that," she replied honestly.
"You had every right to question my ability to truly be your par'machkai. You have shared everything with me, yet I have kept a part of myself hidden from you. I loved Jadzia very much. Her loss was more than I thought I could bear. My only comfort was to keep her memory bottled up inside me," he finally turned to face her "That is until I met you. I will not ever forget Jadzia, nor do I want to. She is part of who I am. But what I do promise is that if you will allow me, I will love and honor you just as I did her; with everything that I have for the rest of my life."
Anderel stood, "I have never wanted you to forget her. I know that with Jadzia you learned how to love. But what a waste it would be to never love again just because she is gone. I don't know her, but I have a feeling that is not what she would want for you."
Worf shook his head, "No it is not," he took her hand in his and pulled her close, "She would want me to move on and to be happy."
"Are you happy with me?"
Worf smiled down at her, "More than I ever thought I could be," he stroked her hair, then ran his fingers along the sloping ridges of her forehead. They kissed one another like it was the first time. As they kissed their fingers linked together.
Worf pulled away from her just enough to whisper two words to her in their native tongue, "jiH dok."
"Do you mean it?" she asked breathlessly. Worf had just uttered the first lines of The Oath of Marriage, the Klingon equivalent to an engagement.
Worf repeated the words, this time even louder, "jiH dok!" (my blood)
Anderel lifted his hand to her face and breathed into it. As she let the scent of his passion for her fill her nose, she gave the ritual response of consent, "Maj dok." (our blood).
Their kiss deepened and Anderel could feel Worf's hands fumbling with the closure to her outfit, "Perhaps we should go inside," he said.
She laughed, "Not willing to give all of Bajor a show?"
"I am not sure they could handle it," he said with a smile.
"So what are we going to do with the rest of our day?" Anderel asked. Her head rested against Worf's bare chest as they lied in bed together.
"Stay here together," he replied.
Anderel looked up at him. The bite mark on his cheek was reddening, "You're going to have a hard time explaining that when you get back to DS9."
Worf decided to discuss something that had been on his mind since he walked through her door earlier that morning, "Now that we have decided to marry, we will have to come up with an arrangement to accommodate your new job."
Her eyes narrowed, "What do you mean?"
"You will be on living on Earth with your job at the Academy. Perhaps I can base my operations from the consulate at Starfleet Headquarters. I will have to travel back and forth to Qo'noS, but, it might work."
"Worf, how can you be the Ambassador to the Klingon Empire if you are living on Earth?"
"I will find a way."
"No," she sat up in the bed so she could look directly at him, "It has been your dream to live on the Homeworld. I could never ask you to give that up."
"You are not asking, I am volunteering," Worf said, though his eyes were focused on her breast as it peeked out from behind the sheet.
"No," she said again, shaking her head "I am not going to take the job."
Worf pulled his eyes away from her bosom, "Why not? It is a good opportunity for you."
"It is," Anderel began, "But it's not what I want. I don't want to live away from my people. My passion comes from the time I spend experiencing our history and culture. I could never get that teaching in a Federation classroom."
"Well, your mother will certainly be happy to hear that."
"And my father will be happy about this," she said, kissing Worf again.
"I am happy about this."
"Worf, are you certain this is what you want?" Anderel asked him seriously, "When I left your quarters, my goal was not to guilt you into taking the Oath with me."
He took a lock of her hair between his fingers, "You walking out was the wake up that I needed. I am very certain of this. I love you, par'machkai."
Later that night, Worf stood on the balcony and looked up into the sky while he waited to Anderel to get dressed for dinner. From Bajor, the lights of DS9 twinkled like a distant star. All at once, he felt like Jadzia was looking down on him and telling him that it was going to be okay. He smiled up at her and murmured the lines to a song he hadn't heard in a long time, "If somebody loves you, it's no good unless she loves you, all the way…"
Anderel stuck her head out the balcony door, "Are you ready?" she asked.
He turned to her, "Yes, I am ready."
August 9, 2011