Disclaimer: The characters and universe of Star Trek belong to Paramount Pictures.

AU/DS9: It has been years since everyone left – Benjamin, Worf, O'Brian, Nog, Julian and Odo. But then why Kira kept dreaming of them being together? And most disturbingly she kept seeing Jadzia, an old man, and a young commander playing tongo.

Old Friends never leave: Part III

Nerris' life was turning to a living hell. She no longer had visions but it was getting worse. She now kept seeing her friends – Jadzia, Benjamin, the old man, and the young commander walking around the station and in the next moment it turns out she was hallucinating. She kept seeing their faces in strangers all around her. It was getting intolerable.

The translation of the rest of the message was still not coming. She kept calling Vedek Neigh almost four times a day, sometimes even every two hours and always the same answer not yet. She could hardly live like that anymore. She had become delinquent in her duties. She could no longer focus properly. She asked the First Minister to relieve her of her duties but he refused.

It became even more frustrating when she realized she was like a lonely voice in the wilderness. No one seemed to believe her visions. It was like someone had cut off the cord of reality and she was watching it through a view screen.

Even the doctors were telling her she was perfectly fine but it got worse. One day as she got into the infirmary Bashir welcomed her. She asked the computer to confirm it and the computer said Doctor Bashir is not on the station. Then just as she was leaving the infirmary she ran into Odo and again he was not him. She returned to Ops and found everyone there – Benjamin, Jadzia, Worf, O'Brien. She had shaken her head and stormed out.

She returned to her quarters to hide from everyone. She could take this no more. And then an uninvited thought crawled into her mind. It was something Q had said 'the universe sometimes answers all calls even those that aren't possible'. But she did not ask the universe for any of this. So perhaps it was time she asked.

She called Neigh again. "Give me the entire text."

"But it is not translated yet." Vedek Neigh said.

"Give...it...to...me!" She said slowly enunciating the words.

"Very well," Neigh replied and sent her the whole thing.

"Show me!" She spoke to the air, to the universe, to anyone. To her surprise the computer displayed the whole message. 'Come join us, Nerris. Follow the path of the shepherd and seek the light in the night sky. His bliss shall guide you to the aromatic meadow where all life and the rest coexist – in the plains of heart, hope, light and creation.

Do not be afraid, Nerris. I know I was. Fear not the fright the chills it gives you. Fear not the faces in the crowd. Give in stop fighting it. Every time you resist you deny the existence of your friends of those that are and those that were. Were they of such low value to you?

On the way here, you shall meet him – the resident mystery. He will show you to us. You will find him on the light of the night sky where the shepherd showed you to. Follow him. He is quite the charmer. It was hard to resist and still is.

This is Kira Nerris to Colonel Kira Nerris. Come, all are waiting!'

Nerris stepped backwards away from the screen. Was this part of her imagination too? But if it was it is damn descriptive and precise. Her imagination was great but not that great. She could not have come up with this one her own. Someone or something was helping her. Did she really write this down? But when did she write it in the past or in the future or in the present? Time mechanics were indeed complicated.

'You will find him – the resident mystery,' this echoed in her mind. But her other self did not mean Q. Who did she mean? She somehow doubted she meant Odo. Barail, perhaps, no, it could not be him. He was gone. But then again so was Jadzia. 'Give in to the faces of the crowd' But she couldn't. She could not afford to give in. She would start talking to strangers in the crowd about things they knew nothing of. Everyone would know everything.

Nerris made up her mind. She chose to ignore the whole thing. She returned to duty the next day as though nothing had ever happened. She kept seeing the faces though. But this did not dampen her spirit at all. She maintained her composure and faced them with the daily routine of the station. These faces became part of the day and she treated those faces as strangers as people she had just met. And for a time her solution worked. But it was not meant to be.

The days were passing by and routine had returned to normal .The faces of her friends she met in the strangers started to subdue and one day vanished completely. She no longer had any visions. Everything was back to normal. She had only deal with the trouble of every day's life. She was not at peace.

One day, Julian came onboard. It was really him. She made sure it is the genuine Julian Bashir.

"It is really so good to see you, Julian." She insisted.

Julian eyed her for awhile then smiled. "Alright, I can't be grumpy with you for long." He hugged her. He had attempted to do so the first time but she did not let him until she had confirmed it is really him.

"What brings you back?" She asked as he pulled back.

"Well, I wanted to see you, the station and there is a...um...lovely girl I met."

"Oh, Julian, I'm so happy for you." Nerris exclaimed. "Is she here?"

"She will be." Julian said. "Well, then, what has been happening while I was gone?"

"Not much," Nerris replied beaming but told him everything except the part with her visions. They were gone for good and she was glad it was behind her now.

Some days later, Julian's girlfriend arrived. Julian and Nerris went to greet her.

"Here we are. Colonel Kira Nerris, this is my girlfriend Jane."

Nerris' eyes however were out of her orbit. Jane was the spitting image of Jadzia just without the spots...

To be continued...

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