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In Hearts We Leave Behind

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Jadzia remembers being Lela at night. Waiting for her son to climb into bed, snuggled against his mother, babbling about his day and the lessons of school even though he's supposed to be asleep. After he grew, and left, Lela missed that talk. She and her husband spoke rarely, as they grew apart. Jadzia remembers feeling age starting to creep up on her, and the slight ache in her fingers on cold days. Bad circulation, worse than most Trill. Lela gripped her wrists to keep her hands warm. And when she started feeling lonely she applied to be Joined, and along came Dax. Loneliness didn't exist for long after that.

She remembers Tobin when she's working on mechanics. He had short little nails, chewed on, ragged. Scars and burns on his hand from brushing heating elements, or sparks from broken power couplings. He'd chew on his fingers and dig out metal splinters with his teeth. She remembers hearing his children (their children, because she is Tobin as much as Tobin was), miming him, nibbling their fingers noisily while his husband glared at him in reproof. The feel of the sands of Vulcan against his face, meeting Iloja of Prim while buried in an aircar, ignoring the ranting of the banished intellectual. Tobin never had much time for the metaphysical. There was work to be done. Always.

She can feel Eomony while walking. Step by step, sure footed and graceful. Afraid, but then joyous at how the weight of the symbiont felt right inside of her. A missing piece that she always needed. Eomony felt so much, with her laughter and her tears. Sitting in the adrenaline sweat of competition, pitting herself against her own fears and insecurities. Jadzia can remember Eomony's first fall, when she'd broken her wrist, and the panicked nights staring at it, wondering if a slip of the foot had taken it all away; deprived her of a bright future. She walked so carefully after that, until Dax came into her life. Being Joined taught her to move through fear into the heady freedom of uncertainty, where victory and defeat had equal sway.

Audrid comes to her while she does paperwork. The gravid weight of motherhood, and the sensation of children in her arms. Remembering the thrill of laws made, of rulings in the Symbiosis Commission. Campaigning and debating. The thrust and counter-thrust of argument with a skilled opponent. Elections on Trill were friendly affairs. Mudslinging only ensured the people would not know whom to trust. Audrid found the whole thing exciting, intoxicating. By the end of the first year of her work in the Commission, helping prospective Trill understand the risks and rewards of what they sought, she knew she'd her life's work. Jadzia can remember sitting in her bright, open office, secretary in the next room, muffling sobs over the estrangement of Neema. Audrid never regretted a moment of her work, she did regret how betrayed Neema felt by it, when her mother was too busy to attend her father's funeral (Jayvin wouldn't have wanted her to interrupt the preventing of another such tragedy).

Torias is an interesting case: she feels him strongly when she's in danger, or in combat. The young husband who wanted to live life to the fullest, and run without looking at the ground ahead. His lean limbs are sometimes The fighter who would sweat and shake and fire from behind cover, praying to survive. She remembers him when she's around Lenara Kahn, and the next time she's near death she wonders if she'll be the memory the next Dax host thinks of. It's a motivating enough thought that she clings to life, even though it hurts and she wants to lie down and give in. Torias had a lot of regrets after his death - Jadzia doesn't want that for herself.

Joran is a nightmare, and she feels him when she dreams. Memories of torn flesh and and red blood, of hate and rage that swelled out and crushed and tore and cut. Being strong and young and willing to use that to hurt. His music isn't any help, she remembers composing with fingers that had just been wet with blood as he cleaned himself. The sense of ethereal inspiration that came from snuffing out a life; the feeling of power and control over the universe. Jadzia retches after each one, and stays up working on projects. Joran won't make her a victim, and if nightmares are his only weapon, she'll deny him opportunity. She ends up being dressed down by Benjamin for not taking care of herself. Sleep comes - the nightmares take longer.

Curzon is omnipresent. He hums and advises as she plays Tongo. He sighs in pleasure as she sips a raktajino. She feels his aches and pains in the mornings, as phantoms around her own healthy limbs. She fights the urge to reach out with her hands and ruffle Benjamin's hair - he wouldn't appreciate it and it would only get her in trouble. It takes a long time for Curzon to fade, with his impressive will and irritable temper. Years. It's not until three years after her joining, one of them on the station, that she doesn't have a sense of him hovering over her shoulder. Jadzia likes the old man, but is happy to feel her own self more often. Curzon had his time.

Ezri feels Jadzia in every nook and cranny of the station. In the pause before people step in front of her console in ops, in the glances and halting words from the staff. She feels her in Benjamin's grief, and in the oppressive weight of the atmosphere. Ezri feels Jadzia Dax linger, like a ghost that no one wants to let go, and wishes at times for height and shape and long brown hair, if only to stop wondering if people are disappointed in her for being someone else. If only to stop feeling like she's wearing the wrong skin in the mornings, and stop taking the path to someone else's quarters at night. She resents it in a restrained way, and wonders if she'll ever not be an impostor to them.

'Give it time', a dead woman says, voice heavy with sorrow. 'You've got all the years I didn't to wait.'