Lwaxana Troi was not a weak woman, but at the moment she wished she were. If she were, she could freely admit the pain she was in over Odo to someone other than herself.
She hadn’t loved a man this intensely since her Ian.
She still wasn’t sure how falling in love with Odo had happened.
How had this man filled her heart so completely?
How had a being, she had only been able to sense if touching him, become so important to her that she thought of him at night in her bed? Or during the day when she was supposed to be concentrating on her work?
What was it about Odo that had grasped her usually short attention span?
She had thought that Timicin was the last love she would have. But a shy Changeling, on a space station guarding the great wormhole, had showed her that what she felt for the alien scientist was merely fondness.
Staring down at the baby currently suckling at her breast, Lwaxana remembered how it had felt to have Odo touch her and hold her those days she had spent with him on Deep Space Nine.
She hadn’t meant for anything to happen between them, but when she had woke up in the night crying, he had been there to comfort her, and things had changed. She had only meant to kiss his cheek to show him her thanks, but he had turned his head and her kiss had landed on his lips.
“Odo,” she breathed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I promised I wouldn’t try to sedu…” his finger on her lips halted her words.
“I know that you didn’t mean to kiss me.” He smiled and caressed his thumb over her lips. “I rather enjoyed the touch. You’re the only one who has ever kissed me.”
Lwaxana stared at the man, unsure if she had read the look in his eyes right. “You’ve never been with a woman?” she guessed.
Smiling at her confusion, Odo shook his head. “No. I never saw the need for it. It never interested me.”
“Not even when you think about Kira?” Lwaxana was wishing more and more that she could read the man holding her.
Odo shrugged. “I guess my thoughts never turned to that because I’ve always known that she doesn’t return my feelings. And really…how was I supposed to want something I’ve never known?”
“What do you want now, my darling?” she asked, her voice low and sultry.
For the first time in his life, Odo was beginning to understand the humanoid need for touch and intimacy. Looking down into the startling black eyes of the woman he now called wife, he lifted a hand to tuck a wayward curl behind her ear. “I want you to be the one.”
“Why don’t you show me how you would make love as yourself not as a humanoid?”
“I don’t know how my people do that. I don’t believe there’s a need for it,” he whispered even as he closed his eyes, letting his shape go, morphing around her.
Lwaxana felt the sudden sensation of another mind touching hers and realized that somehow she and Odo had linked mentally, even if their bodies weren’t joined in the normal manner used for making love. Letting his thoughts flow into her mind, she let them guide her as the feel of his form surrounding her began to tingle. Her body began to react to the strange stimulation and she felt the arousal she’d buried begin to rise, the feelings growing in their intensity until she could no longer control her reactions. Letting herself go, she cried out his name, tears rolling down her cheeks as she closed her eyes and collapsed into her pillow, vaguely feeling Odo shifting back to his human form.
Odo wiped at the tears on her soft cheeks, thinking he knew why they were there. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Opening her eyes, Lwaxana tried to smile. “Don’t be. It was beautiful.”
“It was,” he started but stopped, frowning when he felt her mind touching his. “Lwaxana?”
“Yes, Odo. I can read your thoughts now. Something happened when you were wrapped around me. I can block the thoughts if you wish for me to.”
“No. I’m glad you can read my thoughts now. It makes it much easier. I don’t have to try to use words to express myself, something I’ve never been good at.” Staring into her eyes, he wondered how long it had been since happiness had resided in the dark depths.
“I’m sorry for getting carried away. I know that you want,” she stopped when he shook his head.
“No. I wanted this, you didn’t get carried away. You’ve kept your word to me, but there was no reason to. I,” he paused and looked away.
“I know. You still love her. It’s alright,” she assured him. “It isn’t the first time I’ve been with a man that doesn’t love me.”
“I may still love her, but I don’t have an obligation to her. You’re my wife, and I do care for you. I don’t understand my feelings, but I do have them.”
Studying her husband, Lwaxana could read what he was thinking and smiled. “As long as I’m here, we’ll be together.”
“It isn’t fair to you.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to me if we didn’t. I know that you don’t love me. I know that I do love you. I’m willing to teach you all that I can about how to be with a woman.”
“I don’t want you to just be a teacher.”
“I won’t, believe me. I’ll enjoy it.” She smiled and cupped his cheek. “Now, how about we try making love again? Only stay in human form this time.”
“You’re definitely going to have to teach me, because I’m even less sure of what to do as a humanoid.”
“Oh, it will be my pleasure,” she breathed as she pushed against him, smiling when he landed on his back with a startled grunt. “I’m pregnant, not weak, my darling.”
The fussing of her baby brought Lwaxana out of her thoughts. She didn’t want to remember those nights anymore. It was bad enough they haunted her dreams. She didn’t need them haunting her waking hours as well.
“Oh who am I kidding,” she mumbled as she settled her son to nursing once again. “He’s always haunting me.”
The beep of her comm. system disturbed the baby and she sighed as she lifted him to her shoulder, pulling her robe closed as she moved to the screen.
“Captain Sisko?” she asked when the familiar face of Deep Space Nine’s highest ranking Starfleet officer appeared before her.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Madam Ambassador, but I thought you deserved to know about a situation that’s arisen here on the station.”
Knowing the truth before he even spoke, Lwaxana closed her eyes. “I’ll be there as soon as I can make the arrangements, Captain.”
Sisko blinked, still not used to the fact that even through subspace the woman could read his thoughts. “He’s been asking for you.”
Lwaxana raised her eyebrow…how had she missed that bit of information? “He has?”
“Yes. He’s been very insistent that he speak with you before,” Sisko shrugged, not knowing how to go on.
“Tell him I’m on my way, Captain. Please, tell him.”
“I will, Madam Ambassador. Just hurry. Sisko out.”
Lwaxana watched as Benjamin Sisko’s face disappeared and was replaced by the seal of the Fifth House. Opening her robe once more, she let her baby finish nursing even as she called for Mr. Homn to pack her bags and find her transportation to Deep Space Nine.
Time was of the essence.
Closing her eyes and using all her mental capabilities, she opened her mind to his once more, sending a message she hoped reached him in time.
Odo, for the first time in days, felt a sudden peace. His wife was coming. She knew that he was dying, knew that he wanted to see her. It would seem Captain Sisko managed to reach her.
“She’s coming,” he whispered.
“Who, Odo?” Julian asked, thinking that his patient was hallucinating.
“My wife,” was the quiet answer.
Kira frowned, wondering why Odo insisted on calling the woman his wife. She hadn’t been truly his wife, they all knew that, so what was the point? Why even want her here? What right did she have?
“You know nothing about the true Odo, Major,” a familiar female voice spoke from behind her, startling the Bajorian woman, making her gasp.
“Ambassador.” Kira said the name, having the grace to blush at her thoughts, knowing from the look she was getting from the Betazoid that she had been caught.
Brushing past the petite woman, Lwaxana made her way to the private area where she knew her husband lay dying. Steadying her emotions, she stepped through the doorway, biting her lip to keep from gasping at the sight that greeted her.
“She’s here, Odo,” Julian informed his patient after noticing the woman standing behind him. “You were right.”
“Lwaxana.” Odo whispered, turning to look at his wife.
“I’m here, my darling.” Lwaxana put on her bravest face as she moved to stand beside her husband, taking his hand in hers as she caressed her free hand across his forehead. “What’s happened to you? Who did this?” She let her thoughts drift to him, hoping that the link they’d formed hadn’t been affected by his illness.
“I don’t know,” his mind answered. “Julian wants to take me back to my home world. Go with me?”
“Why me, my darling? Why not use this time to tell her how you feel? She’s jealous, you know. Jealous that you wanted me. Jealous that you called me your wife.” Lwaxana watched Odo’s eyes as they moved from her to Kira standing in the background just beyond the privacy wall.
“She’s too late.”
Lwaxana felt her heart flutter as the meaning of his words began to sink in. “My darling?” she asked, keeping their conversation to their minds so that it couldn’t be overheard.
“I realized, too late, that I love you. I was mistaking the friendship I had with Kira for love. She could never love the real me. I could never let her see the real me. Only you. Only you. But it’s too late.” He shook his head. “Too late.”
“Doctor Bashir,” she called to the young man hovering nearby.
“Yes, Madam Ambassador?” Julian answered as he moved closer.
“Odo told me that you want to take him back to the Changeling home world.”
Julian nodded. “I do. I believe it is his only chance of surviving whatever this is. It’s killing him, and I can’t do a damned thing about it.”
“I’m not blaming you, Doctor Bashir. I know that you care for Odo and are doing what you can.” Lwaxana smiled at the young man to assure him she wasn’t just placating him. “Has Captain Sisko been informed of this idea of yours?”
“Yes. He has the Defiant at the ready waiting for Odo’s consent.”
“He’ll go.” Lwaxana turned her gaze back to her husband. “We’ll go.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Julian didn’t try to argue with the woman about her going along, knowing instinctively that it would be an exercise in futility. “I’ll inform Captain Sisko.”
“Thank you, Doctor Bashir.” She turned her attention back to Odo. “I’m going to go inform Mr. Homn. He and the baby will have to come with us. Mr. Homn will have to take care of the baby while I’m with you.”
“I love you, Wife.” Odo stared up at her, knowing that he had to at least think the words just in case he didn’t make it.
Leaning down, Lwaxana pressed a kiss to his lips. “I love you, Husband.”
Kira watched the scene with narrowed eyes. What had this woman done to beguile Odo? She was sick and tired of the non verbal communication that was going on, and was determined to make sure they knew she was going along as well.
“You are not going, Major.” Lwaxana spoke up, her voice carrying easily into the other room. “I’ll be right back, my darling. Just rest,” she whispered to Odo before turning and making her way into the other room.
“I beg your pardon?” Kira asked, glaring at the older woman as she entered the room.
“You really should control your thoughts, Major. Quite frankly, they’re getting tiresome. Odo isn’t yours. He isn’t property. I have done nothing to beguile him. I only let him be his true self. You heard what he said at our wedding. I enjoy seeing him changing and being what he truly is just as much as I enjoy the human form that he takes.”
“The words he said at your wedding were just that, words.”
“No. They were not just words.” Lwaxana sighed. “He wasn’t in love with me then, but he did care for me. You just don’t get it, do you? You never have.”
“Get what?” Kira demanded.
“It isn’t my place to open your eyes to the truth. I have to go now.” Lwaxana turned and left, leaving behind a very confused and upset Major Kira Nerys.
Shaking her head, Kira made her way from the infirmary, her mind set on making sure she went along with them on this journey to the Gamma Quadrant. Odo had been her friend long before Lwaxana Troi came along, and there was nothing the older woman could do about it.
Lwaxana bit her lip to keep from crying as she watched Odo struggle to breathe…struggle to just exist. Thoughts of Kira angrily shouting at her as they left, kept her tears at bay as she remembered the biting words Captain Sisko had told the woman.
“You have to stay on the station, Major. As my second in command, it is your responsibility to see that the station is run properly. Besides, Odo doesn’t need you. Once upon a time, he might have. But now he has a family, a family he needs, and Lwaxana and her son are that family. Your accusations of the Ambassador using her position to force me to leave you behind will be dealt with when I return.”
That had left a bitter taste in the younger woman’s mouth, Lwaxana was sure, but Captain Sisko had been right. She hadn’t used any influence with the man, even though it had crossed her mind to ask him to keep Kira from going.
“We’re almost there, my darling. Please, hold on just a little while longer.” Lwaxana pleaded, turning her attention to her husband.
“I’m trying,” his thoughts were weak.
Sighing when she heard the crying of her son, she turned to see Mr. Homn bringing the infant into sickbay. “I believe someone is hungry,” she spoke out loud.
Odo smiled as best he could as he watched Lwaxana with the baby she’d called a miracle the last time he’d seen her. He was trying as hard as he could to hold on as she’d pleaded with him to do, but he wasn’t sure that he could. It was getting harder and harder to hold his shape, and the fluctuations were becoming more painful and intense.
Lwaxana gasped with the pain she felt as she watched Odo’s form flux to a liquid. She tried to quell her reaction for the sake of the baby, but he sensed her emotions and began to fuss. “Shh, Love. I’m sorry. It’s alright,” she soothed as she settled the baby back against her breast.
“I’m sorry.” Odo sent through their link as he closed his eyes.
“Don’t apologize, Odo. It was my fault for not having the mental barriers up so that he couldn’t sense my emotions. Everything is fine now, they’re firmly in place, and he’s alright.”
Julian watched the couple, amazed that somehow they had formed a mental link to communicate. He wondered what would happen if Odo connected to the Great Link. Would the ambassador be able to sense the rest of Odo’s race through that link?
Lwaxana turned with a rueful smile. “Unless they find a way to break our link, I’ll be able to sense anything Odo does as long as he’s with them.”
“I’m sorry, Madam Ambassador.” Julian gave her a small crooked smile. “I know it must be frustrating for you when we get lost in our wonderings.”
“I am very adept at blocking those random thoughts, Doctor, if I choose to.”
Julian nodded. “I came to inform you that we’ve detected a Jem’Hadar fighter headed for our coordinates.”
Lwaxana lifted the baby to her shoulder to burp as she stared at Odo. “They know we’ve brought him.”
“I don’t know. They don’t like us being in their territory. They may just be coming to threaten us,” he paused.
“Or kill us.” Lwaxana finished for him. “I need to take the baby back to Mr. Homn. Will you stay with Odo?”
“I won’t leave, Madam Ambassador.”
“Thank you,” she whispered before leaning down to place a kiss to Odo’s forehead.
Julian watched the woman fuss a bit with her dress to make sure she was properly covered before straightening her shoulders and walking out of sickbay. He’d heard the stories of her times onboard the Enterprise, and he’d seen how she was the first couple of times she visited Deep Space Nine, but this woman wasn’t the same.
This woman was quiet and calm. She seemed reserved compared to the first time he’d met her. Her hair wasn’t elaborate. As a matter of fact, if he wasn’t mistaken, her hair was real not the normal wig she’d always worn before.
Something had changed the Ambassador.
Or maybe it was someone.
“Odo,” he whispered as he moved closer to his patient.
“Take care of her, Doctor.” Odo breathed as he fluctuated once more.
“You’ll take care of her, Odo. Your people will fix this,” the younger man tried to reassure.
“You don’t know that. They don’t care much for me or my choices. They don’t like the fact that I chose solids over them.”
Julian started to respond but heard the hum of a transporter and turned to see a female Changeling and two Jem’Hadar soldiers approaching from behind. Not saying anything, he backed up, trying to stay out of their way. The look on the female’s face left a bad feeling running down Julian’s spine, but before he could even form the beginnings of a plan to get them out of there should something go wrong, Lwaxana came back into the room, all hell about to break loose from the growl that rumbled from her chest.
Lwaxana refused to be left behind when it was agreed that Captain Sisko and Doctor Bashir would accompany Odo to the Changeling, or Founders as they liked to be called, home world. She would not let them take her husband and leave her behind because she didn’t trust them to bring him back, especially after the confrontation in sickbay. Only the arrival of Captain Sisko had kept it from getting completely out of hand.
Now, five hours later, standing quietly by the shuttle, Lwaxana stared out at the great amber ocean, her mind racing with the endless thoughts of thousands of beings. Each thought was filled with horrific images of the things they had done, the hatred they had for solids, and the hatred they now had for Odo because of his marriage; his choice to live with solids. They were judging him for killing a Changeling, something no other of their kind had ever done before.
Julian heard Lwaxana’s gasp and rushed to her when she began to tremble. “Madam Ambassador, what’s wrong?”
“The pain. They’re turning their,” she shrugged at a loss as to the right words then continued on. “their backs on him. So many horrible things they’ve done. So many lives. So many. So many,” she whispered then stood up and started walking toward where the sea of morphegenic liquid held her husband.
“Madam Ambassador,” Julian called and tried to stop her, but stopped himself when he saw movement on the shore.
“Odo,” Lwaxana breathed when his naked form was spit out of the liquid onto the ground.
Benjamin Sisko watched with amazement as the fiery Betazoid woman knelt down and draped her cloak over Odo. He couldn’t hear any words, but he could see her lips moving. He frowned in confusion at the whispers since he knew from Julian that words were not needed for the woman to communicate with her husband.
“Odo, my darling.” Lwaxana whispered as she caressed his face. “I’m so sorry.” A tear rolled down her cheek as she looked up to see a female Changeling staring down at her.
“He has been judged for his crime. He now has what he wanted. He is no longer one of us. He is a solid.” Her words were filled with anger, her simulated eyes filled with the fire of hate.
“I love him just the same.” Lwaxana calmly stated, her dark eyes holding those of the being she hated for the pain she had caused the man shivering in the dirt beside her. “Doctor! Captain Sisko! Help me get him to the shuttle,” she called as she turned her attention back to her husband, completely ignoring the being standing in front of her.
“Love is a useless fallacy. It’s the biggest part of what makes solids worthless.”
Lwaxana ignored the Changeling, knowing that she had no clue that the telepath knew of their plans, that she knew what they were doing at that very moment with imposters inside Starfleet. She had enough to foil their plot, something she was sure would bring her great pleasure to do.
Ben studied the woman as he bent to help Julian lift Odo. There was something she was hiding. He wasn’t sure what all had been said between the female Changeling and the Ambassador, but he was sure that they hadn’t been exchanging pleasantries.
“Madam Ambassador, what did the female Changeling say to you?” Sisko asked as he watched Julian scan Odo.
“Sorry to interrupt, Captain, but you aren’t going to believe these readings.” Julian looked up with confusion written on his face.
“There’s nothing wrong with your readings, Doctor Bashir.” Lwaxana moved to Odo’s bedside, her finger gently tracing his forehead. “He is human. That was their punishment for his taking the life of another Changeling. That is what the female said to me.”
“Dear god, what is this going to do to him?” Sisko wondered.
“He’ll be fine. He knows.” Lwaxana informed them. “When we reach the Defiant, I want to be taken back to Betazed. I don’t want him having to face his friends until he’s accustomed to being a true humanoid.”
“Ambassador, I don’t,” Sisko started but stopped at the look in her eyes.
“You care for him as a friend, don’t you?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then grant him this bit of dignity. He’s going to have to adjust to all of the things we’ve had to live with since the day we were born. He’ll have to learn how to understand the signals his body is giving him. Let him come with me so that I can take care of him and help him.”
“I think she has a point, Captain.”
“I’d also ask that neither of you say anything of this to anyone. Tell them, when they ask, that Odo has been cured and that he’s taking a much needed rest. No need to tell them where. I’m sure most of them can figure that part out on their own.”
“You have our word.” Sisko assured her. “We’ll take you back to Betazed, Madam Ambassador.”
“Thank you, Captain.” Lwaxana sighed as she turned back to Odo. “He’s waking up. Can we be alone?”
Julian nodded. “Of course.”
Lwaxana held Odo’s hand and smiled when his eyes opened. “Hello, Husband.”
“I’m taking you home, my darling. Home to Betazed. I know that you won’t want your friends seeing you this way until you are accustomed to being human.”
“You’re right. I don’t want them to see me this way, but I,” he turned away from her. “I don’t want you to see me this way, either.”
“Oh, my darling. I love you. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re solid or not. I’m your wife and I want to help you.”
Odo returned his gaze to his wife. “I love you.”
Placing a kiss softly on his lips, Lwaxana cupped his cheek. “How about we start this new life with some clothes? I think you’ll need those when we reach the Defiant.”
Odo laughed and reached up to clasp her hand in his. “I think you’re right.”
Winking at him, she turned to the replicator, putting in the measurements for a simple shirt and pair of trousers to match. She could feel his eyes watching her, and knew where his thoughts had wandered.
“You were with me in the link,” he finally spoke.
“They never suspected. How?”
“I’m very proficient at blocking my mind from detection. I wasn’t sure I would still be linked to you once they took you in, but when you were completely submerged, I felt it all. I heard it all. The images…” she shook her head. “Oh my darling. They are truly evil,” she whispered as she turned back to him, his clothes in her hands. “How is it that you aren’t?”
“Friendship, and now your love,” was his immediate reply. He sat up, holding out his hands for the clothes she had provided for him. “Thank you. These are very soft.”
“I thought you might appreciate that since this will be the first time you’ll be wearing real clothes.”
As he carefully dressed, he returned to their earlier subject. “Are you going to tell Starfleet what you’ve learned?”
Lwaxana nodded. “I have to. There are high ranking officials being impersonated. The Founders want to start a war. I can’t stand by and let them do that.”
“Neither can I,” he assured her. “I’ll go with you.”
“Once we’ve returned to Betazed, I’ll contact Jean Luc. He’ll be the one we tell everything to. At this point, I believe he might be the only one we can trust outside of Deep Space Nine.”
Odo nodded, leaning back against the bio-bed he’d been laying on. Holding out his arms, he waited for her to settle in his embrace. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
“You can, my darling, if you’ll just remember to let me help you. You’ve always trusted me, just keep trusting me.”
“You make it easy to trust you.”
“We’re back on the Defiant.” Julian’s voice broke into their thoughts.
Lwaxana nodded and squeezed Odo’s hand. “Are you ready, my darling?”
“Just keep hold of my hand. I’m a bit shaky on these legs.”
“Put your arm around me and we’ll be just fine.” She winked at him. “They’ll just think you’re showing affection toward your wife.”
Odo shook his head. “You think of everything, Wife.”
She frowned. “Well, not everything. I’m afraid I haven’t thought of a way to keep Kira from coming after you once she learns you aren’t with Captain Sisko and the doctor.”
Odo shrugged. “I’m no longer her concern. Captain Sisko won’t let her bother us.”
“I only hope you’re right.”
“I heard her yelling at you as we left. I’m sorry for that. I suppose she thought she should be allowed to go since she was my friend before you became my wife.”
“That isn’t the problem. Her problem is with me, and me alone. She doesn’t like that you asked for me when you were sick. She doesn’t like that you think of me. And I’m guessing that you haven’t been spending as much time with her, which I’m sure she doesn’t like, either. That woman craves all the attention she can get.”
“I’ll just have to straighten her out. I won’t have her yelling at you.”
“I can handle her, my darling.”
“I know that you can, but you shouldn’t have to.” Smiling down at his wife, Odo squeezed her hand. “I think we should go now.”
“I believe you’re right. I’m sure I have a very upset baby trying the last of Mr. Homn’s patience.”
Odo had adjusted easier to being human than he had thought, something he attributed to his wife. She had been by his side every step of the way, even though she had a small baby to look after. He had been contacted on several occasions by Bashir and Sisko, both men assuring him that no one knew of his condition.
What had surprised him more than anything, was that Kira hadn’t come to find him – hadn’t even tried to contact him. He knew from Bashir, that Kira had been sent back to Bajor after the Defiant had returned to the station. It would seem that Sisko didn’t take kindly to being accused of taking a bribe.
“My darling, your thoughts are scattered.” Lwaxana spoke as she came into the room, their son in her arms.
Odo smiled when the baby looked at him and cooed. “He’s really growing.”
“And very fond of his papa.” Lwaxana returned the smile as she handed the baby to Odo.
Odo nuzzled the baby’s cheek before placing a light kiss to the soft skin. “I can’t believe I’m a part of his life. I didn’t think he would ever know me.”
Caressing Odo’s face, Lwaxana leaned forward, pressing a kiss to his lips. “Don’t think of that, my darling. You’re here with us now, and you’re very much a part of our lives. Chason will grow up with you as his father, and you’ll teach him to be a kind and caring man. You instill in him the strong principles and beliefs that will make him into a wonderful man some day.”
Odo titled his face further into his wife’s gentle hand and sighed. In only a month his life had changed so radically, it seemed a dream. “You’ve made this so much easier for me than it would have been if I had been alone.”
“You wouldn’t have been alone, Odo. You have friends that care for you and would have helped you adjust.”
“None of them know the real me as you do.”
“Julian, I’m sure, has seen the real you.”
“No,” Odo shook his head. “He may have seen me in my true form, but that’s not what I mean by the real me.”
Lwaxana smiled. “I understand, my darling. You are the only one, since my Ian, that has seen the real me. You are the only one in my life that knows who I truly am.”
“What about your daughter? Does she not know the real you?”
“No. We’re closer since she learned of Kestra, but I still bother her. I make her uncomfortable,” she shrugged and switched to verbalizing her thoughts. “I haven’t seen her since just before I was married to Jeyal.”
Odo looked down at the baby that had settled against his chest and fallen asleep. “You mean she hasn’t seen her brother?”
Lwaxana caressed the dark curls on her baby’s head. “No. She doesn’t even know about him. She wasn’t happy with me over some things that happened the last time I saw her. Then I married Jeyal, and while married, I wasn’t allowed to contact her as much as I would like. I,” she shrugged.
“Why don’t you contact her and ask her to come home? Tell her that you want to explain everything.”
“I’d like that. I want her to meet the baby and you. I want her to see that I’m happy, that I’ve changed.”
Using his free arm, Odo pulled Lwaxana against his side. “Let’s go put the baby to bed.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I want that as well. I don’t like to think that she’s upset with you when I know how much she means to you.”
Sighing at the peaceful feeling she had just from being close to her husband, Lwaxana walked in step with him as they made their way up the stairs to the nursery. “Promise me he’ll never know anything but peace,” she thought as she watched her baby sleeping, his tiny fist resting under his chin.
“I wish that I could. I can promise that I’ll do all that I can to protect him from things that might happen in our future.”
“You believe war is going to break out between the Dominion and the Federation, don’t you. Even with the information we’ve given Jean Luc?”
“I do,” he answered, his sadness filtering through the link. “If only there was some way for me to change my people’s view of solids, but I can’t. I’m only one among hundreds that were sent out. Only I returned with a different view of solids and their culture.”
“Didn’t they see what you went through at the hands of the Cardassians? Yet it didn’t make you mean and cruel. Don’t they understand that we’re not all the same?”
“They refuse to. They see my being a solid as a punishment, but I see it as freedom. I’m no longer ashamed of my people. I can’t lie and say that I don’t miss being able to change my shape, but that’s a fair trade off for what I’ve gained.” He let his thoughts drift to the times he’d shared with Lwaxana and the baby, let her see the memories he had of all the beauty of the planet he now called home. It still amazed him how easy he was around the baby when he’d had little to no experience with children before.
Lwaxana gently tucked the blanket around Chason, leaning over to place a soft kiss to his cheek. “Goodnight, my little love,” she let her thoughts drift to the sleeping infant.
Odo couldn’t resist letting his hand caress over his wife’s hip as she bent over their son’s crib. Smiling at her when she turned with a raised eyebrow, he shrugged. “I couldn’t help it. It’s been a long time since we made love.”
“I know, and I’ve missed it. But are you ready for that?”
“That is the only thing that I don’t have to change or adjust how it’s done.” He winked at her.
“The sensations will be different,” she warned as they moved out of the nursery and made their way to their bedroom.
“But not so different that I won’t enjoy it as much as I did before.”
“You might enjoy it more.” She smiled up at him as she turned and pressed herself against him, her hands resting on his chest. “I must admit, I’m going to miss the way you made love to me as a Changeling.”
Caressing her hair from her face, Odo nodded in agreement. “I’ll miss that as well, but I’m looking forward to this new experience.”
Backing away, Lwaxana held his gaze as she untied the sash of her robe, letting the gauzy material fall in a pool of color behind her. Her nude body glowed in the pale moonlight filtering into the room from the large windows that lined the wall across from their bed.
Odo let his gaze drift over her, his body reacting to the beauty she exuded. “As beautiful as I remembered.”
Lwaxana smiled, hearing his spoken and unspoken words. “Husband,” she mentally scolded him playfully as she watched him untie his own robe.
Chuckling, Odo shrugged his shoulders. “My mind has a will of its own.”
Looking at his body in the same frank appraisal as he had hers, she smiled up at him. “And does your body have a will of its own as well?”
“It would seem that it does,” his voice broke the silence. “Although, I must agree with its obvious approval.”
Lwaxana’s melodious laughter filled their room as she moved into his arms, wrapping her own around his neck. “I love you, Husband.”
“I love you, Wife,” he returned, his hands caressing down her back. “Still as soft as I remember.”
“I never dreamed I would feel your touch again,” she whispered, her eyes closing as she reveled in the feel of his gentle caress.
“When I realized that I loved you, not her, I would find myself sitting and staring off at nothing, remembering the nights we spent together. You taught me so much.”
“I thought you would use what I’d taught you with her.”
“Then why did you teach me?”
“Because I love you. I wanted you to be able to show her how much you loved her without feeling embarrassed by not knowing what to do.”
Shaking his head, Odo cupped her cheek, his thumb tracing her bottom lip. “From my study of humanoids, that doesn’t seem like the normal reaction.”
She shrugged. “Meeting you changed me.”
“But I broke your heart.”
“Yes, you did,” she admitted easily. “But if you hadn’t broken my heart, I wouldn’t have married Jeyal. And if I hadn’t married Jeyal, I wouldn’t have that beautiful baby asleep across the hall.”
“So you don’t regret anything that’s happened?”
Finally able to voice her thoughts, Lwaxana answered his question. “Only that I left the station when I did. I wanted you with me when the baby was born. I was just getting too accustomed to you being there, and I was falling more and more in love with you. It hurt, so I left. I regretted it when there was no one but my doctor there with me at the birth.”
“You should have sent me a communiqué to tell me you wanted me there, I would have taken some time off to come be with you. I hate that you were alone. Why didn’t you have Mr. Homn with you?”
“He wasn’t here. I had let him take some time off.” She moved against him, his body immediately reacting. “I’m tired of talking. We’ve waited long enough to be together. I want to feel you again.” She finished the rest with a thought. “Make love to me, Husband.”
Odo lifted her in his arms, carrying her to their bed. Gently laying her against the pillows, he stopped to admire her with her dark hair spread out around her, a tendril slipping over her shoulder to curl just above a taut nipple.
“Beautiful,” he whispered as he joined her, his hand reaching out to caress her hip as he bent over her. Touching his lips to hers, he easily remembered the kisses she had taught him.
Lwaxana hummed her pleasure as she lifted her hands to tangle her fingers in his hair. Opening her mouth when his tongue pressed for entrance, she moaned as their tongues twisted together and tugged. Scraping her tongue along his teeth, she felt herself shiver when he gently bit down.
Breaking out of their kiss when his lungs began to scream for air, Odo stared down at his wife, marveling at the change in her eyes. For the first time since he’d met her, the dark depths of her eyes were filled with true happiness. Cupping a breast in his hand, he bowed his head, lapping the rough surface of his tongue over the taut peak.
Lwaxana pushed against him, holding his head to her, humming at the pleasure that shot down her spine. “Odo,” her mind pleaded when his mouth left her hot flesh. Arching her back when his mouth surrounded the taut nipple of her other breast, she whimpered with the need he was building inside her.
Odo could feel her arousal through their link and moved to settle his body between her parted thighs. Slowly, but steadily, he slid inside her body, shocked at the way it felt to be surrounded by the hot, wet flesh. Holding her hands and staring down at her, he continued until he was fully sheathed then paused to adjust to the sensations.
“So different and new.”
“But pleasurable.” She smiled up at him, feeling his amazement at how different it felt from before. She felt his heart beating rapidly against her chest as he pressed their bodies closer, and titled her head up to trace his bottom lip with her tongue.
Odo held her gaze, let his thoughts take over, and began to move against her. He groaned at the difference in the way this affected him now that he was flesh and blood, the nerves in his body humming with the pleasure flooding his senses. Burying his face in the sweet smelling skin of her neck, he let himself go, giving into something he didn’t quite understand, but something he was sure his body was demanding.
“That’s it. Just let it happen. Odo!” Her thoughts reassured then screamed, a low moan emanating from her throat as her body gave into the orgasm that had slowly been building with each kiss, each caress, each thought, that crossed their link.
Odo collapsed against her, his breathing erratic, his thoughts a whirl with what had just happened. He knew that it would be different, but never before had he experienced so many different sensations all at once.
Lwaxana smiled at the thoughts that filled her mind as Odo tried to reason out what had just happened. “Everything that was supposed to,” she breathed as she caressed his back.
“Amazing,” he let his thoughts do the talking, his body concentrating too much on trying to calm his heartbeat to a more sedate pace.
Squeezing him when a stray thought crossed their link, she patted his back. “This was your first time, Odo. Besides, I don’t think I could have stood the tension much longer.”
Raising his head to look at her, he studied her eyes to see if she was just being nice. Smiling when he saw she wasn’t, he leaned down, touching his forehead to hers. “I’ll have to practice more.”
“Mmm,” she murmured. “I like that idea.”
“Are you sure you’re okay with this? I can tell her that it won’t be possible for us to meet on the station.”
“I need to go back at some point. Now is as good a time as any. Captain Sisko will need to know that I’m not going to return to my duties. He’ll need to find someone to replace me, which I’m sure will make Starfleet happy. They’ve never cared for me.”
Touching his chest, Lwaxana looked deep into his eyes, her mind touching his. “You don’t have to give up your home and friends, my darling. I’m perfectly fine living on the station with you. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lived away from here.”
Odo smiled and caressed her face. “Thank you for being so willing to leave your home, but I don’t want that. I’ll miss my friends, but a space station is no place to raise a child.”
Lwaxana raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “There are several children on Deep Space Nine. Or have you forgotten?”
Odo laughed. “No, I haven’t forgotten. I just don’t think it’s the place to raise a half Betazoid child. Especially not with everything so tense between the Gamma and Alpha Quadrants.”
Nodding, she sighed. “You’re right. But are you sure you can leave your life there? I don’t want you to resent us.”
Pulling her into his arms, Odo pressed a kiss to her soft lips, then let himself get lost in her eyes. “I could never resent you or Chason. I love you and I want to be with you. He needs to grow up with his people so that he can learn how to use his gift without being overwhelmed by the hate and tensions on the station. Besides that, I rather enjoy not having to deal with criminals.”
She smiled. “But you’ll miss the game you and Quark play.”
Odo shook his head. Only his wife would know that little secret about he and Quark. They had a friend/foe relationship, but they had always been very good at keeping the friend part to themselves. “I will miss that. He’ll get completely out of hand without me around.”
“You’ll just have to make sure he knows you’ll be kept appraised of what he’s doing.”
Smiling, he nodded in agreement. “Now, why don’t you go find Mr. Homn and have him start packing for our trip while I find us transportation?”
Shrugging, she pointed to a list by her communication terminal. “Just use any one of those contact numbers on the list. Tell them who you are, and we’re as good as there.”
“That is going to take some getting used to.”
“Being the husband of a dignitary and getting things just by mentioning who I am.”
“It’s rather nice.”
Odo laughed. “I’m beginning to agree with that.”
Lwaxana looked at him. “You do know that I don’t just want you with me to take care of the baby while I’m busy. I’ll never hide anything from you unless it’s required by whatever ambassadorial situation I’m in.”
“I never doubted your openness. You’ve always been honest with me, even when I couldn’t read your thoughts.”
Smiling, she nodded her agreement. “I’ll go find Mr. Homn. Then I’ll go tend to the baby. He’ll be waking from his nap in a few minutes.”
“When will the Enterprise be at DS9?”
“Two weeks time. We’ll have plenty of time to get there.”
“Do you want to leave today? Or tomorrow?”
“If you can find transportation for today, I’d rather leave today. It’s going to be a long trip with the baby and I’d like to be able to rest a bit before Deanna arrives.”
“I’ll do what I can. I wouldn’t mind having a few days to get settled, myself. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit hectic when we first arrive.”
“Yes. She’s back on duty, but from reports, not happy. She’s going to confront us as soon as she finds out we’re there.”
“Then we ask Captain Sisko to keep our arrival a secret.”
“No,” he shook his head. “We’ll just face things as they come. If she confronts us as soon as we step off the transport, so be it. We’ll just have to make sure Mr. Homn is prepared to take the baby away from the tension. I don’t want Chason upset.”
Moving back across the room, Lwaxana leaned over, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “You’re a wonderful father, Odo. My son couldn’t ask for a better man to raise him.”
“I know nothing about being a father. I just don’t want him being subjected to something that he can’t comprehend. I know what that’s like and it’s frightening. Chason doesn’t deserve that.”
“That’s all part of being a father, my darling.” She smiled down at him.
Odo returned her smile. “Go on now. Or we’ll never get ready.”
“Oh, Mr. Homn will see to it that we’re more than ready when the time comes.”
“The gods bless the ever faithful Mr. Homn.”
Lwaxana laughed as she walked gracefully from the room. By now it would be useless to try and find Mr. Homn before going to the baby, so she stopped in the nursery, laughing when Chason began to cry only moments after she’d entered.
Hearing his wife crooning to their baby just down the hall, Odo shook his head. She always had perfect timing, even if he hadn’t always believed that. Shaking the thoughts from his mind, he looked at the list and picked a number, hoping that it would be the only one he’d have to use, and praying that the accommodations were more than just adequate for the sake of his wife and baby.
Odo pulled Lwaxana back against him when the transport rocked suddenly. Sighing as he shifted his position, he began to drift back to sleep, hoping that whatever had caused the rocking wasn’t anything dangerous. He didn’t want to think about what would happen to them on a transport with minimal defensive systems.
“Relax, Husband,” her thoughts touched his mind.
“Sorry. I’m just a bit jumpy.”
“Going back, I suppose.”
Snuggling even closer to him, Lwaxana pulled his arm tighter around her waist, holding his hand with hers. “I’m sorry, my darling. Just look at it like this; by the time we’ve been traveling for three days, you’ll be wishing we were already there.”
Odo chuckled quietly and pressed a kiss to her head. “Go back to sleep, Wife.”
“Only if you can rest,” she countered.
“I can,” he assured her, burying his face in her hair and inhaling the light floral scent, appreciating the fact that he could enjoy the smell of it as he hadn’t been able to do before becoming a true humanoid. Closing his eyes, he let his thoughts drift off as his body slowly relaxed into sleep.
Lwaxana sighed when she felt him finally fall asleep. She wasn’t sure what had him so worried. They had been assured by Jean Luc that he would do his best to get the proof they needed of the traitors. He had also made it clear that they would do whatever was necessary to stop the war the Dominion was planning. Even if that meant closing the wormhole for good.
Closing the wormhole, she knew, would cause great distress to the Bajorian people because of their belief that it was the temple of their gods. She had assured Jean Luc that she would do what she could to smooth things over with Bajor, should it come to that. After all, it was she who had brought the information to light in the first place.
Slowly drifting off, she moved closer to the warmth of her husband behind her. Letting her consciousness settle, she had just got to sleep when foreign thoughts touched her mind.
Foreign only for a moment.
Sitting straight up in bed, startling Odo awake, she stared at the man standing over the baby’s bed.
“Jeyal,” she breathed.
Odo grabbed his wife and pulled her back against him as they stumbled from their bed. “Get away from the baby,” he hissed at the man.
“He’s my son.”
“No,” Odo shook his head. “He’s my son. Mine and Lwaxana’s. You lost all rights when I married Lwaxana.”
“I will take my son.” Jeyal insisted as he leaned over and lifted Chason in his arms, startling the baby who began to cry.
“Jeyal, please. He’s just a baby, you’re scaring him.” Lwaxana’s heart squeezed in her chest as she listened to her baby crying. “Please,” she pleaded again, not able to stop herself.
“I will not allow you to pamper him any longer. He’s a male, he needs to learn not to be so sensitive.”
“He’s a baby, Jeyal, and a half Betazoid baby at that. They’re different than Tavnian babies. You’ll hurt him if you try to raise him that way.” Lwaxana kept her eyes focused on the baby in her ex-husband’s arms, her hands fisting in the folds of her gown as she struggled for control.
Odo could feel the panic rising inside his wife, something that he knew was only because of the baby. He knew that if the baby wasn’t involved, she’d be spitting mad and letting the man across from them know exactly what she thought of him. Gripping her arm, he let his reassurance flow over their link, the warmth of his hand a stark contrast to the cold clamminess of her skin.
“I see you’ve gone back to your wicked ways of dress.” Jeyal sneered.
Odo rolled his eyes. “Give the baby back to his mother and forget about the way she’s dressed. She was in bed with her husband. Her night attire wasn’t meant to be seen by anyone but me, and wouldn’t have been if you hadn’t transported in unannounced and unwanted.”
“The boy is going with me.” Jeyal held the baby tighter to his chest.
“Then take me with you.” Lwaxana moved forward. “He’s still nursing and changing him over to synthetic milk will cause him to become ill. He’s nervous and digestive systems are very sensitive at this stage in his development. You’ll kill him if you take him and change his life that drastically.”
“Lwaxana!” Odo’s mind screamed at her even as he tightened his grip on her arm. “What are you doing? He isn’t going to believe that.”
“I can’t let him take my baby. I can’t lose another child, Odo. Not another one.”
Odo felt her tremble and knew that he was fighting a losing battle. He couldn’t attack Jeyal, he would hurt the baby, but the thoughts of just standing here and watching as his wife and son were taken, made him feel useless. For the first time since he’d become a solid, he regretted not being able to shape shift. “I’m sorry I’m so powerless to stop this.”
Turning to her husband, Lwaxana caressed his face. “I know you’ll do everything you can to find us. The Enterprise will help you.”
“Stop this rubbish. If you’re lying, I’ll kill you.” Jeyal hissed. “Put some decent clothing on.”
“I’ll not change with you here,” she seethed as she grabbed her robe and wrapped it tightly around her. “I’ll take clothes to change into once we’re wherever you’re taking us.”
“Why so modest? We were married.”
“And you never saw me in the light,” she countered. “Too provocative. Too indecent. I believe those were the words you used. I belong to Odo now, I’m his property. He sees me, no one else.”
“Not property. Never property.” Odo sent through their link.
Moving back to where her husband stood, she leaned forward, rubbing his nose with hers. “I know that, my darling, but it’s all that he understands. I love you.”
“Be careful, Wife. I promise I’ll stop at nothing to find you.” Odo pressed a soft kiss to her lips then watched as she walked across the room, taking the baby from Jeyal and instantly cooing to him. He watched helplessly, fury raging inside, as Jeyal grabbed Lwaxana to him and disappeared in the bright orange shimmer of a transporter beam.
Odo stormed to the bridge of the ship, his keen eyes taking in every lifeless body he met along the way. Noting that none were dead, just unconscious, he struggled to keep himself in check as he thought of the extent Jeyal had gone to.
“I shouldn’t have ignored the rocking of the transport. That had to be when we were attacked,” he mumbled as he searched for, and found, the communications system. Thankful that their attackers didn’t seem to be interested in doing anything but disarming what little defensive weapons they had, Odo turned the system on, immediately sending out a distress signal.
Not wanting to leave the place he’d last seen his wife, Odo sat and fumed as he waited for the captain and his crew to wake up, hoping that it wouldn’t be but just a few hours instead of days. As he fumed, he thought of the different races he’d encountered, trying to put one with the orange transporter beam he’d seen. Each race’s transporter was different, some only different by their sound, others by the color, still others by the way they worked.
Since he had done his research on Tavny and its inhabitants, he knew that their transporters were nearly identical to Starfleet, the only difference being the sound they made. Orange covered a range of different transporters. He’d need to be in his office on the station to be able to cross-reference the sound, color, and the fact that Jeyal seemed to have a remote that triggered the beam out.
Hearing a pounding coming from a panel across the bridge, he made his way around the bodies lying on the floor, kneeling down to remove the panel. “Who are you?”
“I’m the Communications Officer, Sir. Dakin Nua.” The young woman stared up at him with pale green eyes.
“Here,” he offered his hand. “let me help you out.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“What on Bajor were you doing in there?”
“I was working on a glitch, or what I thought was a glitch, in the communications system. I felt the ship rock, and just as I was about to come out to see what was going on, I heard the captain yell for me to put the panel back on and sit quiet.” She shrugged. “I never question Captain when he uses that tone.”
“Do you know what was done to them?” Odo asked as he watched her take in the crew.
“Some kind of stun.” Again she shrugged. “I heard a weird noise and then heard the crew hitting the floor. I didn’t think I was ever going to get out of that tight little space.”
Odo nodded. “I sent out a distress signal with our location.”
“We’re going to stay here?” she questioned.
“I don’t know what they did to the ship. We still have engines, but I don’t want to leave this area.”
“What did they want, Sir?”
“My wife and child.”
Eyes filled with sympathy, the young woman nodded and moved to the communications consol. “I’m sorry, Sir. I’ll monitor transmissions to make sure that the glitch doesn’t happen again. I think it had something to do with the attack, but I want to be sure so that we can get some help.”
“I agree. Did you see anything? Like what race we’re dealing with?”
“I heard Captain mumble something just before he went down, but I couldn’t make out what it was. He recognized whoever our attackers were, of that, I’m positive.”
Odo liked the young woman. Even though she seemed to be a bit shy, he could tell that she was good at her job. “I hope that whatever they used, it didn’t erase his memory.” But even as he said the words, he felt dread begin to fill him.
Somehow he knew that if the captain ever woke up, he wouldn’t remember anything.
This wasn’t going to be that simple.
“What happened to my mother?” Deanna demanded as Odo stepped down from the transporter platform.
“Deanna,” Riker caught the petite woman as she moved in the path of their visitor. “Stop being a daughter for a moment,” he whispered to her.
Deanna resisted a moment then turned black eyes to her mother’s husband. Studying the man, she suddenly felt ashamed of her outburst, realizing that he was in just as much pain as she was…maybe more.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
Odo studied the woman staring up at him through her mother’s eyes then had to look away before the pain of not being able to protect his wife overwhelmed him. “I understand. I’m grateful to your captain for answering our distress call.”
“We were en route to Deep Space Nine when we intercepted the call. Since we were closer, and could get to you faster than the Defiant from DS9, Captain Picard ordered a change in course. We were shocked to learn that it was the transport carrying you and Ambassador Troi.”
“The baby was with us.”
“Baby?” Will asked, not really sure he’d heard right.
“Our baby. That’s why we were attacked. The baby’s biological father wanted his son back.” Odo closed his eyes once more, trying to control himself as images of his wife disappearing flashed in front of him.
“I believe, Constable, that I’ve missed some vital information along the way. I didn’t know there was a baby involved.” Will looked to Deanna, her face showing as much shock as he was sure his own did.
“The baby is the reason Lwaxana and I married. It’s a long story, Commander, and one I’m not sure I can tell at the moment. I would really like to talk with your captain.”
“I understand, Constable. I’ll take you to him. He’s waiting in the briefing room.”
Deanna grabbed Odo’s arm, stopping him before he could walk out the door. “She went willingly, didn’t she? For the baby?” she asked, even though the question she really wanted to ask was about the baby, the baby she didn’t even know existed until just a few moments ago.
“Yes, for the baby.”
“It isn’t your fault. I know my initial reaction made it seem like I think that it is, but I don’t. I can tell how much you love my mother and her baby.”
“Your brother,” he whispered. “His eyes are black as yours, his hair a curly mess over his head.”
Deanna smiled at the description. “So he took after the Betazoid part of his DNA.”
“Yes, he did. The only thing that shows that he’s half Tavnian, is his nose.”
“When you’ve talked with the captain and had time to rest, please? Can I hear the story?”
Odo nodded and patted the young woman’s hand. “Yes, I’ll tell you everything. Even the things she wasn’t able to tell you.”
Deanna sighed as she let go and watched the man that was essentially her step-father, walk away. There were barriers in his mind that kept her from getting a good read on him, and she wondered just how a Changeling could block his thoughts.
Then she frowned.
“Wait a minute,” she mumbled as realization suddenly started to dawn on her. “I can’t read Changelings.”
“I have no idea what was used to render the crew unconscious, but the communications officer said that the captain knew the attackers. I should never have ignored the sudden rocking of the transport. I might have been better prepared.” Odo sighed. “If we’d only kept Chason closer to our bed, or in the bed with us, Jeyal wouldn’t have been able to use him the way he did. I just couldn’t risk hurting the baby.”
“How was the communications officer not affected by whatever was used?” Picard asked, changing the subject so that Odo wouldn’t dwell on what he hadn’t been able to do.
“She was hidden behind a panel. She’d been working on the comm. system, trying to find a glitch. The captain must have sensed something because he told her to replace the panel and be quiet. She was in there until I came to the bridge.”
“Mr. Data, have you been able to learn anything?” Picard turned to his second officer.
“We have scanned the area as far as our sensor range with no signs of any ships other than the Enterprise and the transport.”
“Thank you, Mr. Data.” Captain Picard nodded then turned to their visitor. “I’m sorry, Constable.”
Odo sighed. “No need to be sorry, Captain. I knew that the chances of finding any sign of our attackers were very small, but I just had to try.”
“I understand, Constable.” Picard studied the Changeling sitting across from him. Deanna rushing into the room startled him out of his study. “Counselor?”
Deanna rushed to Odo’s side. “I can read you.”
Odo nodded. “I know.”
“But I can’t read Changelings. Not even my mother can read your people.”
“They aren’t my people.” Odo stared up at her. “I’m no longer a shape-shifter. The Founders judged me for the murder of another shape-shifter, turning me into a solid as punishment.”
Deanna moved to the empty chair beside Riker and plopped down. “What?”
Odo chuckled slightly. “I know it’s very confusing.”
“Why haven’t we heard anything about this? Because you are part of DS9 security, all of Starfleet would have known of this.” Picard was now extremely curious about their guest.
“The reason you haven’t heard anything is because Starfleet hasn’t been informed. Captain Sisko and Doctor Bashir are the only Starfleet personnel on the station that know I am no longer a shape-shifter.” Looking down at his hands, Odo fidgeted with the ring Lwaxana had given him. “Lwaxana asked that they not tell anyone because she knew how I would feel. I’ve always been an intensely private man, Captain, she understands that and only wished to protect me. It’s what she’s always done with me. Even if I didn’t appreciate her advances the first time I met her, she has always accepted me for who and what I am, well, was.”
Picard nodded. “I understand.” Which in part he did. The unwanted advances, he understood, but the rest…was this man really talking about the same Lwaxana Troi they all had always dreaded seeing?
“I’ll explain more, if you want me to, but may I have time to rest first? As a humanoid, I tire easily. I’m still trying to adjust.”
Deanna frowned. “How long have you been a humanoid?”
“Not quite two months.”
“We’re sorry, Constable. Commander Riker will show you to your quarters.”
“I’ll show him, Captain.” Deanna stood up and held out her hand. “He is after all, my step-father.”
Picard blinked with surprise at her acceptance of the man. “Fine, Counselor.”
Odo’s face showed his own shock as he let Deanna lead him from the room. “Deanna? What’s going on?”
“I want to know how you know the mental blocks. If you’ve only been a humanoid for the short time you say, how can you block me so expertly?”
Odo sighed. “It’s a very long story, Deanna, but your mother and I were linked long before I became a humanoid.” He held up a hand when she started to question. “I promised to tell you the whole story, and I will, but I need rest.”
Deanna nodded, seeing how tired he was in his eyes. “Alright.”
“Thank you.” Odo nodded. He was too tired to keep on pretending that this wasn’t eating him up inside. Too tired to keep the mental barriers up to block his step-daughter from sensing the shame he felt.
“Husband?” Lwaxana tried, hoping that they weren’t far enough away that their normal link would be strong enough for him to hear her, but knowing deep down that they were probably thousands of light years away. If this didn’t work there was only one way that would.
“Put some decent clothing on, woman.” Jeyal ordered as he stared in disgust at his ex-wife sitting on the floor holding their son.
“I’m afraid, Jeyal, that the clothing I have will not meet your approval. This is by far more modest than my gown, so unless you have a replicator on this rust bucket, I suggest you find a way to ignore the way I’m dressed.” She stared down at her fussing baby. “Besides, this makes it easier for me to nurse the baby. Something I need to do now, if you don’t mind.”
“What’s stopping you?” he snarled.
“You are what’s stopping me.” She rolled her eyes, reaching for her robe to use as a cover. “I’ll just use my robe to cover myself.”
Jeyal shrugged. “You do know that you’re dead once we arrive at our destination.”
“I know that if you kill me, you’ll also be killing your son.” She stared up at the man once she had Chason settled. “You have no understanding of how a Betazoid mind works.”
“He’s half Tavnian, and I know exactly how our minds work.”
“But you can’t ignore his Betazoid half. His mind is linked with mine, Jeyal. He was mentally linked with me from the womb. You can’t rip him away from me and expect him to be okay. He won’t be. He’ll die. He will feel whatever is done to me as if it’s being done to him.”
“You are a very gifted liar, Lwaxana, but a liar all the same.”
“It’s easy enough to check what I say, Jeyal.” Looking down at her baby, she felt tears rolling down her cheeks. “What happened, Jeyal? Why have you done this?” she whispered as she looked back up at him. “What changed? You accepted my marriage to Odo. You told me to speak kindly of you when Chason grew old enough to ask about his father. I just don’t understand.”
And she didn’t.
She had read his thoughts that day, knew that he had been accepting of the fact that he had lost the rights to his son. The Tavnian brain wasn’t really that complex, and she knew that he had no way of blocking her telepathy. So what had happened to change his mind?
“I was berated. Ridiculed for letting a woman use our laws to keep me from what is rightfully my property,” he snapped.
Lwaxana shook her head. “This baby is not property. He’s flesh and blood. He’s a gift, not a possession.”
Jeyal shrugged. “Women and children are to be seen not heard. They are our possessions to do with as we see fit. The children must be taught their place in life. My son will be raised by men who will teach him that he is the superior sex. That a woman knows nothing more than to pamper and be weak.”
“Oh for the love of Rixx,” she hissed. “Why in the name of the Four Deities did I let you charm me?”
“Because of that shape-shifter you’re married to.”
Lwaxana sighed and kissed Chason’s forehead when he fussed at the tension. “Sorry, love,” she soothed him telepathically.
“You’re over indulging him. He’ll grow fat and lazy with the way you feed him. Which is revolting, by the way.”
“What in the name of Betazed isn’t revolting to you?” she growled at the man glaring at her across the room. “This is the way mothers fed their babies for millennia. I’m not going to explain to you the benefits to the baby, it would be futile. I’m sure, at some point in your culture’s past, women were actually allowed to nurse their babies.”
Sighing, Lwaxana lifted the baby to her shoulder and began patting his back. “If this is so revolting to you, why don’t you leave? I won’t escape. How can I?”
Jeyal huffed. “Fine. I will be back later with food for you.”
“Nothing overly spicy. The baby won’t like it,” she added with a mental laugh at the way Jeyal blanched. If she couldn’t get to him with sympathy for their son, then she would continue to verbally upset him.
“You didn’t tell us there’d be a woman involved.” Nebron Trell hissed at the Tavnian as he stepped off the lift.
“I didn’t know the foolish creature would demand to be taken.” Jeyal hissed back. “Women are unpredictable. Why do you think we don’t allow them to raise our male children?”
“You didn’t tell me the woman was an ambassador, either.” Nebron growled. “That bit of information I learned from Tobias over there.”
Jeyal glared at the man in question. “How do you know who she is?”
“I was Starfleet. She’s stuff of legend.”
“That woman?” Jeyal looked at the man as though he’d spoken in an unknown language.
Tobias shook his head. “Man, you’ve got to get over the way you think of women. At least this woman. She’s as influential as she is for a reason. She comes off as flighty, and a flirt, but that’s a cover. She’s one of the smartest minds I’ve ever seen. There are many planets that are members of the Federation that wouldn’t be if it weren’t for her.”
“It’s all because of her telepathy.”
Tobias shook his head again. “That has helped her, but that isn’t how she operates. She can match wits with the best mediators the galaxy offers, with only two exceptions; Jean Luc Picard and Ambassador Spock. Don’t continue to underestimate her if you want your son.”
Nebron studied Jeyal. “If you don’t want the woman, I can think of uses for her that will benefit my little group.”
Tobias rubbed his forehead. “The Federation won’t negotiate with terrorists, and the Betazoid priests have ways of making one wish they’d never been born much less heard the name Lwaxana Troi.”
“The priests have to find us before they can do anything.”
Shrugging, the pale humanoid stood up. “I want nothing to do with this. I’ll go get some food for Mrs. Troi.”
“He’s going to be trouble.” Jeyal watched the man disappear behind the lift doors.
“No, he won’t. He knows more than any of us put together about how to avoid being caught by Starfleet. We just won’t let him in on the rest of our plan.”
“What is the rest of the plan, exactly?”
“Now that I know who she is, I’m going to get enough gold pressed latinum to get out of this line of business and settle down on one of those pleasure planets.”
“And just who are you going to get this latinum from? You’ve already been told the Federation won’t negotiate with thieves and terrorists.”
“Oh, but that’s the Federation. I happen to know a certain Ferengi DaiMon that will pay me several bars for the beautiful ambassador.”
Jeyal rolled his eyes. “Disgusting little creatures.”
“But very rich little creatures.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Jeyal turned to go. “Do as you wish, but not until I’m sure that what she’s saying about my son isn’t true. If it is, then I’ll have to keep her.”
“How could she let herself get involved with a man like that? I just don’t understand.” Deanna frowned as she watched her step-father pacing.
“I hurt her, Deanna. I broke her heart. I was in love with another woman, and your mother knew that I’d never love her. She told me that if I ever changed my mind, I knew where to find her, but she knew they were just words. She knew that I’d never change my mind.”
Deanna cocked her head, reading the emotions the man let her sense through his barriers. “But you do love her.”
“I do, very much. I,” he paused, staring out the viewport at the passing stars. “When I met her, she was more than I could handle. I didn’t know what to do with her advances. I had never been with a woman, didn’t see the need for it, so I kept trying to avoid her. Then we got stuck in the turbolift. I was very rude with her, but she didn’t let it faze her. She just kept on, until finally, she had me opening up a little about my life. When I could no longer hold my shape, she let me see her without her wig so that I would know that she didn’t care that I was different. That moment was when I realized she was different from any other humanoid I’d ever met.”
“That was when you fell in love with her?” Deanna wondered.
“I suppose it was. I didn’t realize that I was in love with her until I was dying.”
“Dying?” Deanna asked, her face showing the confusion she felt.
“The Founders passed a disease to me through Weyoun, a Vorta, so that I would have to return to the Great Link. It was how they judged me for taking the life of another of our kind. When I became sick, I suddenly realized that I had been missing Lwaxana and thinking about her more than I was thinking about my job, my friends, and the woman I thought I was in love with. I knew then that I had never truly been in love with the other woman. I knew that I never could have been myself with her. I never could have truly opened up to her as I did with your mother. That’s when I asked Captain Sisko to contact her. I had to tell her before it was too late. I was sure it was too late for us to share a life together, but I knew that she had to know that it was her that I loved. I had broken her heart and gotten her into the mess with Jeyal and then broken her heart again when,” he paused, not willing to go on with the more personal details.
Deanna walked to where Odo still stood staring at the stars. “I understand,” she whispered, and she did. She understood that there were personal things he didn’t want to discuss, things that she could figure out just from the emotions she sensed from him.
“But you don’t,” he countered in a choked sigh. “You don’t understand. I let her leave. My foolishness caused her to take a chance on having the baby on the way home to Betazed. She was all alone when she had him, Deanna. All alone because of me. But when I needed her, she was there. She stood her ground and went with us to my home world so that she could be with me, and then she fought Captain Sisko to let her take me to Betazed. She knew how important it would be to me not to have my friends see me as I was after the Founders made me a solid. After all that I had done to hurt her, she still loved me. She’s not the same woman, Deanna. She’s changed so much.”
Deanna felt a tear roll down her cheek as the feeling of shame her step-father felt washed over her senses. “Why are you ashamed?” she asked quietly.
Odo closed his eyes. “Because I couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t stop Jeyal from taking the baby. For the first time since I became a solid, I regretted not being a shape-shifter. If only I had been able to change my shape, I wouldn’t be standing here alone. Lwaxana and Chason wouldn’t be only the gods know where.”
“Oh,” she whispered. “Unusual name.”
Odo shrugged his shoulders. “Lwaxana isn’t?”
Deanna couldn’t help but chuckle. “You’re right.”
Smiling slightly down at his step-daughter, Odo sighed. “We have to find her. Jeyal will only believe the lies she’s telling him for so long. Once he’s able to check what she’s telling him, he’ll,” he stopped and shook his head, unwilling to voice where his thoughts led.
“We’ll find her, Odo.”
“Our only clues lie with a man currently in a coma. I hope Julian can find something that will wake the transport captain and his crew.”
Squeezing his arm, Deanna smiled at him when he looked back at her. “Have you eaten?”
“No.” He shook his head.
“Then I think there’s somewhere I should take you. There’s a certain person there that’s a good listener.”
“I really don’t want to talk anymore about it, Deanna. It was hard enough telling you the little bit I’ve told you.”
“Who says you have to talk about Mother and the situation? Just trust me,” she smiled.
“That isn’t fair.” Odo growled as he stared at the familiar smile he’d seen on his wife’s face so many times before.
Deanna shrugged. “She taught me well.”
“So she did,” he conceded as he held out his arm. “Take me to this listener, then. I am getting a bit hungry. This humanoid body can be a problem at times.”
“Oh, you’ll get used to it. Once you’ve had time to adjust, you’ll be able to go without eating for longer periods of time, although it really isn’t healthy to do so.”
“It’s still troublesome to have to stop what I’m doing because my body begins to tremble from the hunger,” he grumped.
“Keep something in your pockets when you’re busy. At least until you’ve been a humanoid a little longer than just a couple of months.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” he sighed. “Thank you for not prying too much into the details I’ve left out. I know there’s more that I need to tell you, but I need a break from it for a little while.”
“No problem. We have time.”
“Too much time,” was his whispered reply.
“We’ll find her, Odo,” she tried to sound like she believed her words, but deep down she wondered if she would ever see her mother and be able to apologize to her. Deciding to change the subject, Deanna looked up at Odo. “What lies has my mother been telling about the baby?”
Odo chuckled. “I’m surprised it took you this long to pick up on that.”
“I was preoccupied with the rest of what you were telling me.”
Odo nodded. “The lies she started off with were that the baby couldn’t be separated from her while he’s nursing. She said that he would get sick if they used synthetic milk.”
Deanna shrugged. “She’s an expert at making someone believe something that isn’t true. It’s gotten her out of a lot of trouble in the past. Did she ever tell you about the DaiMon who kidnapped her, Will, and I?”
“Yes, she did, the first time we met. She told me while we were stuck in the turbolift. I’ve since learned the whole story. I know now why she glossed over it as she did.”
“That was very traumatic for her, but she’s extremely good at mentally boxing those memories up and packing them away, so to speak.”
“I know.” Odo nodded then looked around when they entered ten forward. “What is this place?”
“I suppose it’s our version of Quark’s.”
“With a lot more class,” a woman’s voice informed them.
Deanna smiled at the woman standing in front of them. “This is Guinan.”
Guinan studied the man, her face expressionless. “Why don’t you join me for a drink, Odo?”
Odo looked down at Deanna. “Word spreads around here as fast as it does on the station.”
Deanna shrugged and shook her head. “Don’t assume she knows your name because of gossip. With Guinan, never assume anything.”
“Deanna?” Will asked when the doors to his quarters opened revealing the petite brunette he was slowly discovering still held his heart.
“Were you busy?”
“No. Come on in.”
“Thank you,” she sighed as she walked across the room, collapsing on the sofa and leaning her head back.
“What’s wrong? I thought you would be with the Constable.”
Deanna half smiled. “I left him with Guinan. I thought maybe talking with her would make him a little less uneasy. You know how she is. Oh, and he isn’t going to be a constable anymore. He told me that he’d planned on resigning when he and Mother arrived at DS9, but then this happened.” Her voice shook. “He’s so ashamed, Will.”
Will frowned. “Ashamed? Of what?”
“Of not being able to save her and the baby.”
Shaking his head, Will sat down beside her. “Maybe you should start with the beginning. Your mother having a baby,” he paused and shook his head again. “Well, it’s all a bit odd.”
Leaning her head over on his shoulder, Deanna relaxed to tell him the part of the story she’d been told only just an hour before. “I told you about mother meeting Odo on DS9 when he caught the thief that stole her latinum hair broach.”
“Yes. I remember you telling me that she was smitten with him, but none of us were shocked because that’s who she is.”
“She wasn’t just smitten, Will. This time she was genuinely in love, but Odo was in love with another woman. After the second time she met up with him on DS9, she left with a broken heart.”
“Is that the time she was diagnosed with Zanthi fever?”
“Yes.” Deanna nodded. “After she left DS9, she showed up here and started in about the two of us,” she shrugged. “Anyway, after she left the Enterprise, she met Jeyal, a Tavnian, who she married a few months later. I don’t know how long after the marriage she found herself pregnant with Jeyal’s baby, but I do know that she didn’t think she could get pregnant again.”
“Wow. But what happened that she went back to DS9 and married Odo?”
“The Tavnians, if you’ll remember, are a race where the men think of women as possessions.”
Will nodded. “Ah yes. One of the main reasons why they aren’t a part of the Federation.”
“Exactly. Too many women in high positions of authority.”
“That only makes it even more confusing. Why would your mother marry someone like that? Are the Tavnians a race that Betazoids can’t read?”
Deanna shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never heard that we can’t, but maybe there weren’t any Betazoids around for the dealings with Tavny.”
“She really must have been hurt.”
“Odo says she’s changed from the woman we know her as. She wanted to show me that when we met on DS9. According to Odo, my mother has calmed considerably over the last year and a half.”
“I can’t imagine a calm Lwaxana Troi.”
“It is hard to fathom. The only time I’ve ever seen her very calm was when she was dealing with the memories of Kestra.”
Will wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer. “Does Odo know about Kestra?”
“Odo knows everything about Mother.”
“She’s told him everything? Even things you don’t know?”
“She didn’t exactly tell him.”
Will frowned. “Then how did he learn things that only she knows?”
“They’re linked, Will.”
“You mean they formed a mental bond after he became human?”
Deanna shook her head. “No. Before he became human. And don’t ask me how, because apparently Mother doesn’t even know how it happened.”
Will sighed. “This just gets more complicated as it goes.”
“And I still don’t know everything. It was getting harder and harder for Odo so he asked if we could stop. He really loves her, Will.”
“I could tell that just by listening to him talk about her. We’ll find her, Deanna. You’re mother isn’t going to give up very easily. If she and Odo are linked, bonded, she’ll find a way to use that to get help.”
“I hope she can. I don’t know how far the link will work. I don’t think she’s close enough for it to work or Odo would have mentioned it.”
“She’ll keep trying until it works. You know she will. And, with the crew on DS9 and the Enterprise crew working together, we’ll have her and the baby rescued and back where they belong in no time.”
“Just keep being that optimistic, Will.”
Will pressed a kiss to her hair. “Something else is bothering you, Imzadi,” he whispered the name, knowing instantly that it had the desired affect.
“He blames himself for her being all alone when the baby was born, but Will, I’m to blame. I should have tried to contact her when months had gone by without her communicating with me. I should have gone to her when Mr. Homn said she had come back to Betazed. He sent me a hastily written message. He didn’t tell me she needed me in the message, but I think that’s what he was trying to convey. But I didn’t listen. I didn’t care. I was angry with her for the chaos she caused on her last visit, and for just sort of disappearing and not telling me where she was.”
“Don’t, Deanna. You know better. I know it’s hard to use your training on yourself, but you know that you can’t lay blame on yourself for things you didn’t do. Remember, you have a job here, and while I’m sure the Captain would have granted you the time you needed, I’m also sure it would have been denied if we were caught up in an assignment. Find out when your brother was born, check the ship’s logs against that stardate. We may not have even been anywhere near Betazed at the time. And even if we were, you still can’t blame yourself. That won’t do you any good. Just as it isn’t doing anything for Odo. It will only hurt you, and you know your mother wouldn’t want that.”
Looking up at him, Deanna caressed his face. “You’d be a good counselor.”
“Only with you, Imzadi. Only with you.”
Lwaxana started when the doors to the room she was being held in, opened letting light spill in. Immediately she reached out with her mind, finding not the anger she expected, but finding instead sympathy and compassion. “Who are you?” she questioned.
“I’m Tobias, Madam Ambassador. I brought you some food.”
“Are there not any lights in this dreadful room?” she asked as she sensed him moving, the doors closing and leaving them in complete darkness once again.
“I’m afraid the lights have been disabled. I have a small lamp that you can use while you eat. I’ll have to take it with me when I leave. He won’t like it if he finds out you’ve had light.”
Lwaxana shook her head. “He is out of his mind. What does he think I’m going to do with light?”
Tobias turned the lamp on then shrugged. “I believe he thinks that you need light to read his mind.”
“Oh for the love of…” she muttered, finishing the rest under her breath.
“He doesn’t know much about you or your race, does he?”
“No,” she shook her head as she reached out to lift the cover off the food that had been placed in front of her. “He didn’t want to know anything. I’m not sure he knows just how well I can read him, light or no light.”
Tobias sat down and looked at the baby asleep in his mother’s lap. “He doesn’t know. He perceives you to be nothing more than a stupid woman.”
Cocking an eyebrow, Lwaxana studied the young man before her. “You seem to know a great deal about me.”
“I was Starfleet. I’ve seen you in action and I know that you’re a very clever woman.”
“And I suppose you told him just how clever I am,” she mused, already knowing the answer.
“I’m sure you know the answer to that. I’m also sure you know how he reacted.”
“Didn’t listen to a word you said,” she laughed. “Why are you working with these people?” she asked as she looked up at him.
“Needed something to do.” Tobias watched her carefully looking her food over before taking a bite. “I promise there’s no poison in the food. I made sure it wasn’t spicy.”
Smiling, Lwaxana nodded her thanks. “I’m grateful. At least someone has a brain.”
“He doesn’t believe what you’re telling him about the baby.”
She shrugged. “He can believe or not believe. It’s his son who will pay the price.”
“And you’re counting on that.”
“As you said, I’m a very clever woman.”
“That you are.” Tobias sat and watched her as she carefully ate her meal. He knew that she had learned all that he knew about what was going on, something that should bother him, but didn’t. He could put up mental barriers, try to block her probes, but he chose not to. He had made the decision when he stepped into the room and saw her sitting on the floor with her baby cradled in her lap. This woman deserved better than this. She deserved to be left in peace to raise her son as she saw fit.
“Why did you leave Starfleet?”
“You should know that as well.”
“I didn’t probe every part of your mind, Tobias,” she informed him as she reached for her drink, carefully sipping the Tarkalean tea that had been so thoughtfully provided.
“I left because I didn’t agree with the treaties they were making.”
Lwaxana studied the man in the dim light, realizing something and keeping it to herself. No sense getting the man in trouble. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to help me escape.”
Tobias shook his head. “I would if I could, but there’s no way. There are no shuttles or escape pods to put the two of you in.”
“I thought as much,” she sighed and leaned back, her head bumping slightly against the cold metal of the wall. “Is there not a bed in this room, either? This floor is rather uncomfortable.”
“I’m sorry, Madam Ambassador. He doesn’t want you to have any comfort.”
“Nothing to be sorry for.” She shrugged then sat up to pat Chason’s back when he started to fuss. “Where are we?”
“On our way to a rendezvous point with some Ferengi.”
Lwaxana frowned. “What are they planning to do with those trolls?”
Tobias couldn’t help but chuckle at the way her voice lowered in disgust. “Our leader has decided that you will bring him a good deal of gold pressed latinum if he sells you to the Ferengi.”
Lwaxana rolled her eyes. “Those noxious creatures are too cheap to buy me for what I’m guessing he’s going to ask.”
“Oh, but I believe he has his sights set on some DaiMon that likes collecting exotic women.”
“DaiMons,” she harrumphed. “they’re the worst.”
“You’ve had experience with them before, have you?”
Sighing, she nodded. “Yes. Most vile little creatures I’ve ever met. Well, until recently that is.”
Tobias nodded, knowing that she was talking about some of the crew. “I’m sorry for that. I warned them to stay away from you. He doesn’t seem to care much about what happens to you, but he doesn’t realize that they’ll hurt the baby as well.”
“Jeyal doesn’t have enough sense in his head to realize that.”
“He does come across as very simple minded.”
“More like single minded,” she mumbled. “He can only think of one thing. The baby being around a woman.”
Tobias rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe how archaic the Tavnians are. Doesn’t he realize how much damage he could do to his son by just yanking him away from you?”
Cocking her head, Lwaxana studied the young man in the dim light. “You know a lot about Betazoids.”
“Nothing more than what you can read in the Federation database.”
“Has Jeyal checked the database yet?”
“No. He might not be able to get in without my help.”
Lwaxana nodded before turning her attention to Chason who was on the verge of waking up. “Thank you for being so kind, Tobias.”
Tobias stood, picking up the lamp as he did. “I’ll be the one to bring all your meals, so I’ll see you again.”
Lwaxana didn’t bother to nod, knowing that Tobias had already turned and couldn’t see her. She’d learned a lot from just sitting and talking quietly with the young man. As she lifted her baby to her breast to nurse, she began to mentally prepare herself to use a long unused form of telepathy that would allow her to mentally reach out to her husband no matter how far apart they currently were.
“Do you really think this will work?” Deanna asked as she and Odo worked together with Julian to revise the database’s information about Betazoid babies and their dependency on their mothers.
“If we add what Odo knows she told Jeyal just before he took them, then it should give us more time. He’s set on taking his son, but if taking him means his death, Jeyal won’t do it. That will give us some much needed time to find them.” Julian answered as he keyed in the proper medical terms.
“I’m sure she’s told him about the mental link the baby has with her. If she’s told him any of that information, he’d be a fool to risk taking the baby away.” Deanna commented as she watched Julian.
Odo nodded. “I’m sure she’s told him that part as well, but I’m also sure that Jeyal won’t bother with that. He doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of telepathy and empaths very well.”
Deanna shook her head. “I just don’t understand how she could have gotten involved with such a man.”
“Her heart was broken. Maybe she chose to ignore what her telepathy was telling her about the man.” Julian suggested.
“It still makes no sense.”
“I’ve found that love never makes sense.” Julian sighed. “There. The database is updated.”
“Thank you, Julian. I hadn’t meant to bother you with any of this, but with Dr. Crusher on assignment at Starfleet Medical, I didn’t know who else to turn to.”
“Odo, it isn’t a problem. You know that any of us will do whatever we can to help you.” Julian smiled at his friend. “I quite liked Ambassador Troi, even if she was a handful at times.”
“A handful, very diplomatic of you.” Deanna commented.
Julian stared at the petite woman. “I wasn’t being diplomatic. Your mother is a remarkable woman. I’ve never seen anyone who had the nerve to face the Founders as she did. She showed no fear when she went to Odo after they spit him out of the Great Link. When the female Changeling came up onto the shore, your mother didn’t flinch, but stared the Changeling down. Ambassador Troi stood up to Captain Sisko, something that not very many people do, but she did, and all because of her love and concern for Odo.”
Deanna blinked in surprise at the man’s intense response to her offhand comment. “I didn’t mean to offend, Dr. Bashir. I don’t know the woman you know.”
Julian frowned. “But she’s your mother.”
“It’s a long story, and I’m ashamed to say that most of the reason I don’t really know her is my own fault.”
Odo squeezed her arm. “She understands, Deanna.”
“But I don’t want her to understand. I want her to know that I’m sorry.” Deanna looked up at her step-father. “We have to find her, Odo. We have to. I have to tell her that I’m sorry for not being there. For not caring enough to go looking for her when she didn’t contact me all those months. I have to,” she managed to finish before leaning against Odo’s chest, tears coursing down her cheeks.
“I’ll go check on a few things in the lab.” Julian whispered as he turned and left the two alone, wondering at all the changes that had happened to Odo in just the two months he’d been gone.
“We both have a lot of apologizing to do, Deanna, so we’ll just have to work together to make sure that she and Chason return safely to us. I know a little boy that’s going to adore his big sister.”
Deanna smiled up at him through her tears. “Tell me more about him?”
“Why don’t we go to the replimat? I’m hungry, and I know that you haven’t eaten anything today, either. I’ll tell you more about your brother while we eat.”
“Sounds like a plan. Do you mind if I ask Will to join us?”
“If you want him there, I don’t have a problem with it.” Odo held out his arm.
“He’s very curious about Chason. He finds it amazing that my mother has a baby.”
Odo chuckled. “She finds it amazing.”
“Do you have any holo-images of him?”
“Back on Betazed. I’ll contact Mr. Homn and ask him to send them.”
Deanna started in surprise. “Mr. Homn! I forgot all about him. Has anyone informed him of what’s happened?”
Odo patted her hand. “I contacted him and told him. He was going to come to help, but I told him that Lwaxana would want him to stay and take care of her home,” he sighed then corrected himself. “Our home.”
Deanna smiled and squeezed his hand. “I think mother would like that you think of it that way.”
Odo didn’t answer, just stopped in his tracks causing Deanna to stumble. “Wife?” he whispered as he closed his eyes, concentrating on what he thought was her voice through their link.
“Odo?” Deanna questioned as she turned to face him. “What’s wrong?”
He shook his head, motioning for her to be quiet. “Lwaxana?” He let his mind question, not trusting what he was hearing. “Sweet Bajor, it’s her,” he breathed.
“Who?” Deanna was confused because she couldn’t read what was happening or what he was thinking.
“Husband, do you hear me?”
“I hear you, but I don’t understand how.” Odo returned, his eyes closed as he tuned everything around him out and concentrated on her voice in his mind.
“I’ll explain everything later, but right now you have to listen to me very carefully.”
“Jeyal has lost control of this mess. They know who I am and they plan to sell me to a Ferengi DaiMon. One of the crew is former Starfleet, he’s been taking care of me the best he can, and has said that he would help me escape if there was a way, but there isn’t. He isn’t lying. This ship barely sustains life. I know that we’re headed toward Ferengi territory, but that’s all I know. I’m frightened, Odo.”
“I know you are. I am, too. I’m afraid I won’t make it in time, that something will happen to you and I’ll lose you and the baby. I can’t let that happen. I promise we’re going to work as hard as we can to make it in time. Be careful, Wife.”
“I promise, Husband. I love you.”
“I love you.”
Deanna raised her hand to stop Will from asking what was wrong as he approached them. “Odo?” she asked quietly when she saw that he had opened his eyes.
“It was your mother. I don’t know how she did it, but she managed to contact me through our link.”
Will shook his head. “Are they close by?”
“No. They’re on their way to Ferengi territory.”
“Oh no.” Deanna breathed.
“Evidently the mercenary crew that Jeyal hired know who Lwaxana is and are planning to sell her to a DaiMon.”
“The only DaiMon I know that would pay the kind of money they are going to be asking for, is,” Will started then looked at Deanna.
“DaiMon Tog,” she finished.
Odo scowled. “The DaiMon that kidnapped the three of you and nearly let her be killed?”
“Yes,” Will answered. “The only thing is, he isn’t a DaiMon anymore. Hasn’t been since that incident. If he does buy her, it won’t be for pleasure.”
“He’ll want revenge.” Deanna plopped down in a chair at the table they had stopped by. “We have to get to them before they contact him. If he gets his hands on Mother,” she stopped and rested her forehead on her hands.
“I’ll go talk to Captain Sisko. The Defiant is smaller, more maneuverable, and has the cloak.” Odo told them.
“Captain Picard and Captain Sisko don’t exactly get along that well.” Deanna informed him.
“Well they’re going to have to get over whatever it is. My wife and baby’s lives are at stake.” Odo growled as he turned and made his way to the nearby turbolift, calling for it to take him to Ops.
“I think the captains have met their match.” Will commented as he watched Odo disappear.
“Maybe we should go with him?” Deanna wondered as she looked up at Will. “The state he’s in,” she shook her head.
Will shrugged. “I think we’d best just let him take care of this on his own. Can you explain how she contacted him from so far away?”
“There’s only one thing that I know of that could have let her contact him at so great a distance.”
“It’s an ancient telepathic technique that uses the Imazdi link. It’s called the Tulanara. It hasn’t been used in centuries. I had no clue Mother knew how.”
“So you mean, you could contact me this way?”
Deanna shook her head. “No. Our Imazdi link isn’t that of mates, which is a deeper link, and I’m not a full Betazoid.” She shrugged.
“Do you know how it works?”
“No idea. It isn’t talked about. The only reason I know about it, is because Mother has ancient texts that mention it. The information given in the texts is exactly what I told you.”
“So how does your mother know how to use it?”
“I don’t know. She’s one of the older Betazoids. Our family has been one of the most influential families on Betazed all the way back to before Betazed became a warp capable society, and Mother is one of the more powerful telepaths. Maybe that’s why she knows the Tulanara. It’s just one more question added to the long list we already have no answers to.”
Reaching over, Will squeezed Deanna’s hand. “Now that we know where to look, we’ll find her. Captain Picard cares for you, and I suspect Captain Sisko cares a great deal about Odo. I don’t believe there’ll be a problem with them setting aside their differences to help two people they care that much about.”
“Maybe if we’d told Odo why they don’t get along,” she wondered.
“They’ll tell him if it comes to that.”
After a few moments pause, Will looked at her with a half grin. “I told you your mother would find a way to contact him through their link.”
Deanna laughed, something that felt wonderful to do amidst all the trouble that surrounded them.
Captain Picard sighed. “I’m tired of this, Captain Sisko. I’m tired of constantly being punished for something I had no control over. Don’t you know that you have no need to remind me? That my mind does that on a constant basis? I relive what I did as Locutus every night in my dreams. I see all the people I knew, taunting me because they died that day. Over and over again I hear the screams, I see the ships carrying friends being blown to nothing but tiny bits of debris. I still feel the coldness of the implants that invaded my body. I still wake up screaming in horror as I’m flooded with the remembered pain of the assimilation. Isn’t that enough punishment for the death of your wife? Are we going to let this cause another man to lose his wife? Let another child lose their mother?”
Benjamin Sisko didn’t know what to say. He’d never seen the usually stoic captain open up so much about his private life, and for the first time, he realized how wrong he’d been to blame a man that hadn’t had control of what was happening. For so many years it had been easier to just blame the man, rather than look at the situation as it had really been. The Borg had taken Captain Picard from his ship, turned him into one of them, and used him as a tool to overpower and kill thousands of people at Wolf 359; Jennifer Sisko being one of the thousands.
“If we continue this, Odo will lose his wife and child and will be in the pain that you have found yourself in for all these years. Do you really want that for someone you claim is a friend?”
“I’m sorry, Captain Picard.” Ben started. “I have no problem working together to rescue the Ambassador and her son.”
Both men turned when the door to the office opened.
“Odo?” Ben asked.
“I’ve been in contact with Lwaxana. They’re headed to Ferengi space. I don’t care that the two of you don’t get along, we need the Defiant if we’re going to catch up to them without them knowing it.”
Jean Luc blinked, amazed at the man. “We’ve already worked out our differences, Mr. Odo.”
“And we’ll be meeting in the briefing room in fifteen minutes to work out the plan to rescue Ambassador Troi and the baby.”
“Thank you.” Odo sighed in relief, relaxing his posture a bit then straightening again when he was paged.
“Odo here,” he answered as he tapped his comm. badge. “Quark? I don’t have time for this.”
The other two men listened as Quark and Odo argued back and forth, with Odo finally giving in.
“Fine, Quark. I’ll be there, but you only have five minutes.” Odo growled as he tapped his badge. “Excuse me.”
“Don’t kill him, Odo.” Ben warned, only half in jest.
“I wonder what Quark could have found that he thought might interest the Constable?” Jean Luc asked as he watched Odo leave, shaking his head all the way to the turbolift.
“He isn’t Constable any longer.” Ben informed Jean Luc. “I have his resignation here on my desk.”
“He’s going to live with her on Betazed?”
Ben nodded. “I don’t believe he thinks this is the appropriate place to raise a half Betazoid child. And I agree with him. I think we’re on the brink of war, and the tension is high here. Too high for such a sensitive baby to deal with.”
“Lwaxana could protect him.”
“I’m sure she could, but she knows too much about what’s happening with the Dominion.” Ben watched the expression on Jean Luc’s face. “Yes, I know you’re the one she told what she learned on the Changeling home world.”
“Best kept to ourselves.”
Ben nodded. “They’ll come after Odo if they get wind of someone knowing about their imposters.”
“That’s really why he’s leaving here.”
“Yes. I believe it is. I also believe she knows that. She’s a different woman than the woman that first showed up here.”
Jean Luc nodded. “She’s a woman I don’t know. The woman I keep hearing about sounds nothing like the woman that always seemed to bring chaos to my ship.”
Ben laughed, “She brought chaos with her the first couple of times she was here,” then sobered. “but she also brought something to Odo that he’s never really had before. She brought him the freedom to be who he really is without being ashamed of it.”
“I think I’d like to meet this woman.”
“I hope you get the chance.”
Odo stood staring at the Petri dish, amazed at the morphogenic liquid it held. Quark had gotten a ridiculous amount of gold pressed latinum from him, but it was worth it. Although looking at the dark color that tinged the normal golden amber was a bit disheartening, he was almost sure that Dr. Bashir would be able to cure whatever was wrong.
“Odo,” Julian said as he stepped from the lab.
“What’s wrong with it?”
Julian sighed. “It’s been exposed to a massive amount of tetryon radiation. I’ll have to use an electrophoretic diffuser to purge the isotopes, but I’m not sure if that will be enough.”
Odo nodded. “Just do what you can.”
“What’s going on, Odo?” Sisko asked as he came into the room, Captain Picard following behind.
“Quark found a sick Changeling and sold it to me.”
“Dr. Bashir?” Sisko turned his attention to the young doctor.
“I was just telling Odo that the Changeling has been exposed to tetryon radiation. I’m going to try using an electrophoretic diffuser to purge the radiation, but I can’t guarantee it will work.”
“If it works, will the Changeling be a danger?”
Odo shook his head. “No. It’s too young.”
“Maybe you should bring in Dr. Mora to help.”
“No.” Odo shook his head.
“Odo, you can’t do this and search for your wife and baby.” Bashir reminded and watched the change in the man’s eyes.
Looking at the sick being, Odo fought a war within himself before looking up at those in the room with him. “Only because I have no other choice, I agree that bringing Dr. Mora in is what should be done.”
Julian nodded then reached out to pick up the dish containing the Changeling. “I’ll get started on the treatment. One of my nurses will send the message to Bajor for Dr. Mora.”
“We have a meeting to get to, Odo.”
“I’ll be along.”
Sisko nodded then turned to a confused Captain Picard. “I’ll fill you in on the way to the debriefing room.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
Dr. Mora shook his head. “Its matrix is too unstable. There’s nothing we can do.”
Julian scrubbed a hand over his face. “I was afraid of this. How am I going to tell Odo?”
Dr. Mora looked down at the dying Changeling. “Where is he?”
“He’s in a meeting with Captains Sisko and Picard.” Julian frowned. “Did no one tell you about Odo’s missing wife and child?”
Dr. Mora’s face registered his surprise. “Wife? Child? No. I knew nothing of them.”
“I’m surprised. Did you not hear about Major Kira being sent back to Bajor and the reason why?”
“I’ve been traveling and out of touch for quite some time.”
“Oh.” Julian sighed. “Odo married Ambassador Troi from Betazed. She has a baby from another marriage that Odo legally became the father of when they married. The ambassador and her child were kidnapped by her former husband. The Enterprise, Captain Picard’s ship, responded to the distress call and brought Odo here.”
“I believe, Doctor, that you are leaving something out.”
“I’ve told you all I can. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask Odo.”
“Ask me what?” Odo asked as he came into the room.
Dr. Mora looked at Odo. “It’s nothing.”
“How’s the Changeling?”
Julian sighed. “I’m sorry, Odo. I tried, but it didn’t work. Its morphogenic matrix is too unstable. There’s nothing I can do.”
Odo looked to Dr. Mora but only got a shake of the head. Walking across the room, he stared down at the Changeling that reminded him so much of how he was when he was found. Leaning down, he backed away in surprise when the being shifted and mimicked his face.
“Look at that.” Julian whispered.
Dr. Mora smiled. “It’s a fast learner. Much quicker than Odo was.”
Odo sighed as he lifted the Changeling and smiled. “I’m sorry we couldn’t make you well. If we’d found you earlier, maybe we could have helped.”
“Maybe, Odo.” Dr. Mora whispered as he moved to stand beside the man he considered a son. “Something’s changed in you.”
Odo nodded. “I’m no longer one of them. They punished me and made me a solid.”
Shocked, Dr. Mora studied the man closer. “That doesn’t bother you?”
“It didn’t until my wife and child were kidnapped.”
“Dr. Bashir told me. I’m sorry, Odo.”
Odo looked at the man he’d despised for so long and realized that he was the closest thing to a father he’d ever had. “I think I understand better what you went through with me.”
Mora started to speak but stopped when Odo’s eyes widened in surprise. “Odo?”
Odo shook his head and stumbled back as the baby Changeling absorbed itself into his hands. Blinking as he felt his body changing, he smiled and shifted into a Tarkalean hawk. Soaring up into the rafters of the Promenade, he lingered in the air before coming back down, landing and changing at the same time.
“Amazing.” Julian murmured.
“Think of it as a gift, Odo.” Dr. Mora smiled at the man.
“I do.” Odo whispered as he rushed off. “This changes things. I have to go find Captain Sisko.”
Julian shook his head. “I haven’t seen him that way in a very long time. I truly believe they’ll find her now.”
Mora nodded. “I’m sure they will. Now. Who are the other patients you have? Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Maybe you can. Maybe you can.” Julian mumbled as they turned to go back into the infirmary. If Mora could help him wake at least the captain of the transport, they could possibly learn something about Ambassador Troi’s kidnappers that would help them.
Odo felt her presence in his mind before he heard her voice. Just the knowledge that she was contacting him again, gave him hope because it was proof that she was still alive.
“Are you coming for me?”
“I am. We’re on our way. The Defiant is fast and cloaked. They won’t know we’re there until it’s too late.”
“Husband? You’ve changed.”
Odo couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, Wife, I have. I’ll explain everything when we’re together again.”
“I miss your arms around me. I miss you next to me at night. I can’t sleep.”
Odo could feel her fear. “I promise to hold you for as long as you like once we find you. And I’ll make sure you get all the rest you need. We’ll go back to Betazed and lock ourselves in the house until you’re ready to go out again.” Odo knew she was smiling with the sigh he heard.
“Will you marry me again, Odo? Once this is all over, I’d like for us to marry on Betazed, with family and friends, in the tradition of my people.”
“I’ll do whatever you want, Wife.”
“Please hurry, Odo. He’s…”
“Wife? Lwaxana!” Odo opened his eyes, a rush of fear sweeping over him. “Lwaxana! Answer me! What’s happened?”
“The baby, Odo! He took the baby! Please hurry…please!”
“Hang on, Wife. Please, just hang on.” Odo rushed from his quarters, nearly running Deanna down as he made his way to the turbolift.
“Odo? What’s happened?” Deanna asked as she righted herself.
“Your mother. Jeyal took the baby from her. She was scared when she contacted me.”
“I’m going with you.”
Odo nodded and together they stepped onto the waiting turbolift, giving it the command to take them to bridge. “The last time I checked with Captain Sisko, we were still half a day outside of Ferengi space.”
“We have to convince them to go to maximum warp. If he’s taken the baby,” Deanna didn’t finish the thought.
“Please, Tobias. Please bring my baby back to me.” Lwaxana pleaded with the young man that had become a friend.
“I’ll try, Madam Ambassador.”
“He’s so scared. He doesn’t understand and he’s hungry. He’ll get sick, Tobias.” Lwaxana’s tears rolled down her cheeks. “All the hate is too much for him to process. He hasn’t developed the ability to erect barriers. I can extend my mind to his, but he’s too frightened to listen to me.”
Tobias studied the woman he’d always admired. “I’ll try to talk Jeyal into giving the baby back, but I don’t know how successful I’ll be. If I can’t talk him into giving the baby back, maybe I can at least calm the baby down enough that he’ll listen to you.”
“Thank you,” she whispered as she clutched the baby’s blanket to her chest.
Tobias shook his head as he stood, taking the light with him. Her pale skin had a grayish tint from the lack of light and healthy air to breathe. He was sure that she’d somehow managed to contact her husband, as he’d heard her whispering his name in a plea for help, but he didn’t know how close the man was to their location.
“Maybe I can do a little tampering with the warp drive. That will slow us down and give her rescuers time to catch up with us,” he mumbled out loud as he made his way down the dirty corridor to Jeyal’s quarters.
As he walked, he pondered how a man could do such a thing to a child he claimed to love. Did the man know what love was? Or was this the only way his people knew how to show love? And how had such a brilliant woman gotten herself mixed up with such a male oriented race? He knew that she could read Tavnians, she’d said on more than one occasion, as they talked, that she could sense the man’s hate for her. So how could she have missed what he truly was when she married him?
Finally standing outside Jeyal’s quarters, he waited for the man to grant him entrance, wincing when the doors finally opened and the crying of a baby greeted him in haunting tones of fear and pain. The baby truly was hurting, Lwaxana hadn’t been exaggerating.
“I’ve come to plead with you to give the poor thing back to its mother. You’re going to kill it, and then where will that leave you? You’ll have kidnapped it and its mother for nothing.” He used neutral terms to keep from sounding like he cared more than he should. He didn’t want to tip his hand too soon or he might not get the chance to help the baby.
Jeyal glared at the man standing just inside his quarters. “I can make him stop.”
“Yes, I can see that you’re doing a wonderful job.” Tobias snarled and rolled his eyes as he walked to where Jeyal stood staring down at the crying baby. “Standing and staring down at it will do nothing. May I try? I had ten siblings that I helped my mother with.”
Jeyal shrugged. “Do what you will, just shut the pampered weakling up.”
Tobias leaned down and lifted Chason up, holding the baby to his shoulder and rubbing his back. “She wasn’t lying to you. Can’t you tell by the cries that he’s hurting? He’s frightened because he doesn’t know you and because you ripped him away from his mother.”
Jeyal rolled his eyes. “She’s done nothing but pamper him. He’s my son and I’ll not let her ruin him any further.”
“So you’d rather he die?” Tobias argued, careful to keep his voice even so as not to upset the baby who had finally calmed to just whimpers.
“That’s nothing more than a lie.”
This time it was Tobias’ turn to roll his eyes. “Did you check the Starfleet database? If not, why don’t you let me get us in? If I can get into the medical database and find the information on Betazoid babies, will you at least read it to see if she’s lying or telling the truth?”
“What then? Give him back?”
“Yes. If you find that she’s telling the truth, give the baby back. It’s better than killing him, isn’t it?”
“Fine.” Jeyal huffed. “But do it quickly. I’m tired of looking at you.”
Lwaxana held Chason close, kissing his head and humming a soft lullaby to him as she let her thoughts reassure him. “You’re safe now, love.” Feeling his heart beat decrease as he calmed, she sighed and leaned back against the wall. She would be forever grateful to Tobias for convincing Jeyal to give the baby back, but she suspected that it was only temporary.
Tobias hadn’t told her in words, but his thoughts had told her plenty. The DaiMon had been contacted, the only thing stopping their progress toward the meeting place, was a sudden problem with the warp drive. She knew that Tobias had tampered with it to give them more time, but she also knew that they’d soon discover the problem, and they’d be on their way again.
“I love you, Husband,” she sent out to Odo, even as she made up her mind to use a technique that her grandmother had taught her as a young girl. It was the first advanced technique she had learned once they realized she was one of the few special telepaths with mental capabilities that far surpassed the majority of the population of Betazed. She hadn’t needed to use the technique in all the years after she learned it, but now it seemed as though it was the only way she would be able to protect her child.
“Don’t be afraid, love. Just trust me,” she gently guided the baby, knowing that instinct would will him to follow her. “Sleep, Chason. Sleep for Mama.” Lulling her baby into a deep sleep, she laid down, cradling him to her as she slipped into a sleep deep enough that she no longer heard the hum of the engines. Using the paracortex, the part of her brain where her telepathy was centered, she tricked their bodies, making them begin to start shutting down.
Now, the only way anyone would know that she and Chason were still alive would be if they had medical instruments sophisticated enough to read the waves of her metaconscious. Instruments far beyond what this ship had in its medical bay.
She knew that there was a chance that she wouldn’t be able to bring them out of the stasis. If it lasted beyond three hours, even her metaconscious would shut down, and they both would be lost. But it was a chance she had to take. To her, she would rather die than lose her son to a man that would raise him to be a monster.
Holding her baby closer, she felt his heart slowing, his soft breath on her face slowly fade into a barely there whisper even as her own heart began to slow. By the time they found them, the stasis would be complete.
Tobias felt his knees begin to shake as he took in the sight before him. On the floor, covered with the blanket he’d brought to her, was the Ambassador and her child, their bodies lifeless in death. He didn’t know how she did it. Could only guess that she had used her mind.
But how was he going to explain that to her ex-husband?
The man was a complete imbecile and had no understanding of how her mind worked. The man thought that keeping her in the dark would keep her from using her mental powers, not realizing that the dark gave her more power over people than the light.
Kneeling down, he felt his heart catch at the way she still cradled her son to her chest. She had done the only thing she could to keep her child from danger. A danger she knew was far greater than death.
“I’ll never let anyone forget how brave and strong you were in the face of all of this,” he whispered as he stood up again, turning when the door swooshed open behind him.
“What’s going on here?” Jeyal shouted, Nebron Trell pushing in beside him.
“Nothing’s going on. She and your son are dead.” Tobias informed them, his voice cold.
“What have you done?!” Nebron shouted as he rushed across the room, kneeling down to make sure they weren’t being lied to.
“I’ve done nothing. This is no one’s doing but her own. She willed them to die. She saw no other way to protect her son.” Tobias shook his head then stared at Jeyal. “You don’t realize how powerful a telepath she was. You thought that by hiding her in the dark, she wouldn’t be able to read you. You were wrong. The dark only enhanced her power. In the light, she had to be careful of probing your mind, but in the dark,” he sighed. “In the dark she could read you as though every thought you had was spelled out on a data padd in front of her.”
“She’s dead, alright.” Nebron confirmed. “So is the boy.” He shook his head.
“I tried to warn you. I tried to tell you that she wasn’t to be messed with, but you didn’t listen to me. You kept insisting that she was nothing more than a woman.” Tobias pointed back at the lifeless bodies. “Look at them. Look at the son you did all of this for. He’s dead with only your incompetence to blame.”
Jeyal watched Tobias leave the room. “I don’t believe him. She couldn’t have done such a thing.”
Nebron rolled his eyes. “You really are a fool. Do you want to know the real reason this Ferengi DaiMon wants her?”
“You lied to me?” Jeyal asked, his eyes narrowed.
“Of course, I did. Did you expect me to tell the truth?” Nebron shook his head. “The DaiMon wants her for her mind. They want to use her brain as a weapon.”
“Yes. That was the reason this particular DaiMon kidnapped her several years ago, but she tricked him. Not with telepathy because Betazoids can’t read Ferengi, she just used her cunning and played on his weaknesses. Tobias was right. She wasn’t just any woman. This was a powerful woman.”
Jeyal took one last look at his son then sighed, “It’s over. Take me home.”
“You’re a fool if you think,” Nebron started but stopped when the transport shook violently. Slapping his communicator, he demanded a report of what was happening.
“We’re being hailed, Sir. They’re requesting to speak to the captain of this vessel,” came the strained disembodied voice of his first officer.
“I’m on my way.” Nebron informed the man as he stared Jeyal down. “I don’t think any of us will be going home. I believe we’ve been found by the angry husband. And if what Tobias said earlier is true, he has one of Starfleet’s best captains with him.”
Odo stumbled, collapsing against the bulk head behind him. “Lwaxana!” he shouted.
“Odo?” Deanna grabbed his hand, worry wrinkling her brow.
“Something’s happened to her. She told me she loved me then…” he stopped and shivered. “Nothing. There’s nothing.”
“What do you mean, nothing?” Deanna felt fear creep down her spine.
He shook his head. “Nothing. I feel nothing. There’s always been a part of her with me no matter how far apart we were, even when she left and thought we wouldn’t see each other again. But now…it’s as though,” he stopped, refusing to continue with the thought.
But he didn’t have to continue. Deanna knew what he meant. Even at a great distance from each other, Odo would feel her mother’s presence in his mind. Feeling the blood drain from her face, she closed her eyes, wishing Will were there to hold her so she could rely on his strength.
“We’ve got an opening, Odo.” Captain Sisko broke into the silence.
“Data, go with him.” Captain Picard ordered.
“I request to go with them, Captain Sisko.” Worf spoke up, startling those on the bridge.
Sisko studied the Klingon then caught movement from the corner of his eye and turned to catch the look Picard was giving him. What had he missed? “Granted, Mr. Worf.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Data and Worf followed Odo into the turbolift, all three discussing just how they were going to go about the mission.
Sisko watched the doors close then turned his attention back to Picard. “Why let him go? We could use him here at tactical.”
“I believe Counselor Troi can best answer that.”
“He may not say it, but there’s an unspoken kinship between him and Mother. He didn’t know how to relate to his son so she showed him how by showing him how to have a little fun.” Deanna smiled as she recalled the mud bath they’d all taken together. “She calls him Mr. Woof, but not because she thinks that’s his name. It’s a deliberate tactic.”
Captain Picard couldn’t help but chuckle. “She has always known how to work all of our buttons. I’m beginning to see that her chaos, wasn’t really chaos that she made. We made it by acting the way we did when she was around.”
Deanna nodded. “I’m learning a lot about my mother that I didn’t know.”
Odo looked around as they shimmered into the cargo area of the transport. “I’m going to go find her.”
“Be careful, Constable.” Worf warned.
Odo nodded at the Worf, then shifted until he easily slid under the doors. Careful to remain a shape that would escape detection, he made his way down the corridors, hoping for someone to come along that would give him a clue as to where his wife was.
“Do you think the Ambassador is alive?” Data asked Worf as they looked around for control panels he could use to tamper with the ship’s systems.
“I do not know, Data.” Worf answered honestly. “From Odo’s reaction, it is unlikely.”
Data nodded as he finally found a control panel and began to hack into the system. “I have access to bridge controls. Slowing to full stop.”
Worf nodded. “Shields?”
“Will take another three point four two seconds to shut down. This system is comprised of several different technologies.” Data shook his head. “It is I believe what humans say, a mess.”
Worf rolled his eyes. “This whole thing is, as you said, a mess.”
Hearing yelling coming from an open door, Odo carefully slithered along the wall, never shifting more than what it took for him to move. As he neared the door, he moved inside, switching to match the shadow created by the absence of overhead light. He nearly lost his form when he noticed the still figure lying across the room. Closing his consciousness off to the sight, he focused instead on the conversation of the men in the room, one of whom he had identified as Jeyal.
“You did this!” Jeyal screamed at Tobias who had returned a few minutes after Nebron left.
“I did nothing, you fool! You did this! You took her baby, threatened her, sold her to the highest bidder. I warned you. Over and over, I warned you, but did you listen? No! You chose to ignore what I told you, what you saw for yourself in the Starfleet Medical database. She told you over and over what would happen to your child if you took him from her, but you wouldn’t listen. Instead you went ahead with your plan to separate them. I don’t know how she did it, but it was the Ambassador herself that brought death upon them. She’s powerful, but I told you that already.” Tobias growled as he knelt down next to the prone body and gently pulled the robe covering the woman he’d come to think of as a friend, up over her face, covering the baby and her completely.
“Now what are we supposed to do?”
“I don’t believe you’ll have to worry about that.” Odo hissed as he took his human form.
Jeyal turned in surprise, his already pale skin becoming almost translucent as the blood drained from his face. “How did you get on this ship?”
Tobias rolled his eyes. “You really are a dense race,” he muttered. “This ship was boarded over ten minutes ago. Who do you think attacked and hailed the captain?”
Jeyal shrugged his shoulders, an evil smile crossing his face as he looked at Odo. “You’re too late. She’s dead.”
“I may be too late to save my wife and our son, but from my point of view, you’re the one who is too late.” Odo’s voice dropped as his eyes turned a fiery amber.
Jeyal frowned. “What nonsense are you saying?”
Tobias shook his head. “Man, look at his eyes. Do you not see the fire of hate burning in them? You have to know that the man intends to kill you.”
“He won’t kill me. He doesn’t have it in him.”
“Which tells me you know absolutely nothing about him.” Tobias sighed.
Odo turned his attention away from Jeyal and stared at Tobias. “Who are you? And what would you know of me?”
“I am Tobias, Constable Odo. I’m undercover for Starfleet. We’ve been investigating these mercenaries for over a year. I was set up to become a part of their group so that we could learn just who they were working for. This mess just ended our investigation. There’s no way we can let them go now that a Federation Ambassador has died while being held captive.”
Jeyal decided to use Tobias’ explanation as his chance for escape and yelled in surprise when Odo’s hand shot out grabbing him around the throat. “Le…t m…e go…” he struggled to get the words out as he gasped for breath.
“I know how much you want him dead, but she wouldn’t want you to do that.” Tobias whispered. “I promise he’ll receive the punishment he deserves, but please let me handle it.”
“I have to do this. It’s because of him that…” Odo shook his head, not finishing the thought. “Get him out of my sight.”
“Yes, Sir.” Tobias agreed as he grabbed Jeyal and drug him from the room.
Odo closed his eyes and took a deep breath before moving to where the woman that had loved him and given him the confidence to be himself, no matter which self that was, lay eyes closed and lifeless. Kneeling down, he pulled the robe back, his breath catching at how pale she was. “Wife,” he spoke the name quietly, reverently, as he reached out to trace the contours of her face. Pulling the robe further back, he caressed the soft curls of the baby he’d grown to love and think of as his own child.
Feeling a warmth on his cheek, Odo reached up and found a dampness there that he realized was tears. Never before had he cried, just one more thing his beloved wife had taught him. “So little time,” he whispered. “I promise to take you home, Wife. You and our son will go home to Betazed to rest peacefully.”
Data and Worf looked up when the doors to the cargo hold swooshed open, both startled to see Odo enter carrying a lifeless Lwaxana clutching an equally lifeless baby.
“We were too late. Always too late,” Odo whispered as he stared down at his wife.
“Odo, let Data take her.” Worf tried.
“No. I promised I would take her home.”
Data wisely nodded then tapped his comm. badge. “Lt. Johnson, lock onto Odo’s signal and beam him directly to sickbay,” he issued the command, and tapped the line closed after the lieutenant gave his acknowledgement.
“Thank you.” Odo whispered as he was enveloped in the familiar blue haze of the transporter’s beam.
“What do you think he meant by too late?” Data questioned.
Worf shook his head. “I do not know what it meant.”
Nodding, Data went back to what he had been doing. “The ship’s controls have been successfully transferred to the Defiant. Now all I have to do is beam the rest of the crew to the brig.”
The doors swished open again.
“Halt!” Worf growled as he drew his phaser.
Tobias held up his hands in the sign of surrender. “I’m not here to cause trouble. Where is Odo?”
“Who are you?” Worf asked, ignoring the man’s question.
“I am Tobias. I’m undercover Starfleet.”
“Section 31?” Data questioned as he finished transporting the last of the bio-signatures he’d found to the brig aboard the Defiant.
“No.” Tobias shook his head. “Completely different faction of Starfleet, and one I want no part of.”
“Umph.” Worf grumbled in agreement.
“Why were you aboard this transport?”
“You are Data, the android that serves aboard the Enterprise.” Tobias said instead of answering the question then turned to Worf. “And you are, Worf, you serve on Deep Space Nine, although you served aboard the Enterprise for many years. The only full blooded Klingon in Starfleet.”
“You did not answer my question.” Data reminded.
“I am aboard this transport as part of my assignment. This group of mercenaries has been under investigation for over a year. I was sent to infiltrate the group and find out who they were working for. The death of Ambassador Troi has ended the investigation. Now, I’ve answered your question, answer mine. Where is Odo?”
“We beamed him aboard our ship with Ambassador Troi and the child.” Data informed him.
Tobias nodded. “I wanted to tell him that Jeyal is dead.”
Data tilted his head to the side and studied the man. Had he killed Jeyal outright? Or had there been a struggle which led to the man’s death? Data didn’t know the answer to either question and wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
“Too good for him.” Worf mumbled, his comm. badge chirping, interrupting anything else he might say. “Worf, here,” he acknowledged then listened to Captain Sisko tell him that all prisoners were accounted for and that they were ready to beam them aboard and head back to DS9. “Aye, Captain. We have one of the crew with us. I will explain when we come aboard. Worf out.”
Data watched as Tobias moved closer to where he and Worf stood then nodded as he tapped his badge. “Three to transport.”
Julian knew that Odo was being transported to sickbay, but he wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted him when he looked up at the sound of the transporter. Feeling his heart fall at the look on Odo’s face, he didn’t have to ask if the Ambassador was dead.
“You can lay her down here, Odo,” he spoke quietly as he motioned to a biobed.
Odo gently laid his precious burden down, caressing a curl from her forehead. “They were already,” he paused. “like this when we beamed aboard. Too late. Too late.”
“I’m sorry, Odo.” Julian whispered as he began to run scans, frowning when his tricorder beeped.
Odo looked up. “What was that?”
“I don’t know.” Julian answered honestly. “Let me run a sub-neural scan.”
Odo watched as the young doctor pulled over the necessary scanner and turned it on. Hearing the shrill beeping, he watched in amazement as Julian brought up the scanner’s readings on a nearby monitor. “Is that…?”
“The Betazoid metaconscious reads at a higher level than a human subconscious and takes the type of equipment we have readily available. If anyone on the transport scanned her their equipment wouldn’t have been sophisticated enough to pick up any sign of life.”
“You mean she’s alive?” Odo asked, hope filling his voice.
“She and the baby both are. I don’t know how, but they’re in some sort of stasis.”
“I don’t understand how they’re in stasis without being in a stasis chamber.”
“I don’t understand it either, Odo. I’ve never seen this before.”
“Can you bring them out?”
Julian shook his head. “Because I don’t know how they were put into the stasis, or how the stasis is being maintained, I don’t know how to bring them out.”
“How long can they survive like this?”
“The metaconscious signature is weakening,” he shook his head. “I’m just not sure.”
Deanna rushed through the doors before they could continue.
“How is she?”
“We thought both she and the baby were dead,” Odo started then paused to reach out and grab Deanna when she swayed on her feet. “Thought they were, Deanna, but they’re not.”
“Her metaconscious signature read on the initial scan I did with my tricorder.”
Deanna frowned. “I don’t understand. Why did you think they were dead?”
“Because they aren’t breathing, Deanna.”
She rubbed her temples and took a deep breath. “I think you’d better just explain it to me.”
“They’re both in some sort of stasis.”
“Then give them something to wake them up.”
“I can’t. I don’t know how the stasis was achieved, or how it’s being maintained. Deanna, they aren’t in a stasis chamber.” Julian shrugged. “I can’t undo something when I don’t know how it was done.”
Sitting down, Deanna stared at her mother. “I have to contact Shaldufar.”
“Who?” Odo and Julian both asked.
“The High Priest of Betazed. I have a feeling he’s the only one who can tell us what to do.”
Deanna rolled her eyes at the man currently staring at her as if he didn’t know what she was talking about. “My mother and her child’s lives hang on the truth. You can’t keep being silent. Please,” she begged.
Shaldufar studied the daughter of one of Betazed’s most powerful telepaths, wondering just exactly how much she knew about the power her mother possessed. “After entering the stasis, the telepath only has three hours before the stasis is permanent.”
“But how can we help her?”
Shaldufar shook his head. “It was said long ago that the Imzadi bond of mates might break through the stasis, but there is no proof that this is true.”
Deanna closed her eyes, her heart pounding. “Thank you. I think you might have just given me the answer.”
“One last thing, my child.”
“To restore her completely, she must be brought back to Cyndriel.”
Deanna nodded dumbly, not used to hearing the name of her planet from the old age of Betazed. The name now belonged to the temple where Shaldufar resided. She had only ever been to this specific temple once in her life, the day her grandmother died, but she knew that there would be no way of knowing when or how they would arrive. They just would.
“I’ll tell my captain.”
“There must be no delays. If you are far from home, you must start the journey now.”
“I’ll make sure my captain understands that.”
“It is imperative that he does.” Shaldufar emphasized. “She must be brought to the temple.”
“I understand. Thank you,” she whispered as he disappeared from the screen, his image replaced by the Starfleet insignia.
Odo shook his head in exasperation. “How do I accomplish that? I have no idea what to do. How am I supposed to use the bond to break through to her when I can’t feel her presence in my mind anymore?” he asked Julian, wishing that Deanna had delivered the news in person so that he could ask her.
Julian shrugged. “I don’t know, Odo. I know nothing about the Imzadi bond. Deanna will have to tell you more about it when she gets here.”
Sighing, Odo sat on the stool beside his wife. “I don’t know what to do, Wife. You and Chason are slowly fading and I’m helpless once again. I couldn’t keep Jeyal from taking you, and now I,” he stopped and closed his eyes, trying to reach her with his mind.
Julian watched and felt his heart ache for his friend. He didn’t understand why this was happening, but he did understand the helplessness that his friend felt, because he felt the same. As a doctor, the worst thing that can happen is to not know what to do, to have to sit back and just watch as your patient withers away.
Deanna stopped and took in the scene as the doors to sickbay closed behind her. She could feel her step-father’s pain as he tried to communicate with her mother. She also felt Julian’s frustration over being unable to do anything. The emotions on top of her own were nearly overwhelming.
Odo looked up and stared at her. “I don’t know what to do. How do I use our bond when she’s no longer here?” he asked as he tapped his head.
Shaking her head, Deanna made her way to where he sat by her mother. “I don’t know. There has to be a way. It’s all that Shaldufar gave me that could possibly work.”
“Something has to be done,” Julian broke in. “Her metaconsciousness is growing weaker with each minute that passes. The baby,” he shook his head.
“What about the baby?” Deanna asked before Odo had the chance.
“The baby’s condition is even more tenuous that the Ambassador’s.” Julian sat down on a nearby stool and waited for Deanna to take a seat.
“Explain, please?” Odo asked.
“The baby’s brain isn’t fully developed. His metaconscious isn’t active yet.”
“But he can sense emotions. Lwaxana said that he could.”
“I’ve been doing some research and I ran a few scans of the baby’s brain. At the moment, the only reason he can sense emotions is because he’s mentally linked with his mother. Because he’s so young, we may lose him even if we are successful in waking Mrs. Troi.”
Deanna shook her head. “She can’t lose him. Not another child.”
“It will kill her.” Odo breathed as he leaned forward, touching his forehead to hers.
“Wife?” Odo asked, keeping his question to his mind so that he didn’t raise any hopes if he had only dreamed the sound of his wife’s voice in his head.
“I’m here, Odo. Help me.”
“How? I don’t know what to do. The high priest from Betazed said that I might be able to use our bond, but until now, I haven’t been able to feel your presence.”
“All you have to do is remember. Remember our love. Remember how happy we’ve been,” she coached. “Just don’t lift your head from mine.”
“Is that why I can feel you again? Because I touched my head to yours?”
“Yes. I’m surprised Shaldufar didn’t tell you that.”
“Deanna barely got him to tell us about using the Imzadi bond. He said it wasn’t proven.”
“It is proven, he just isn’t aware of it, although he is aware of the forehead touch.”
“He’ll be aware of the proof once we return home.”
“Yes, home. Our home. Thank you, Wife.”
“For giving me love and the confidence to be exactly who I am and not be ashamed of that. I’ve never known anyone like you.”
“I’ve never known anyone like you, either. Husband?”
“The baby? How is he?”
Odo sighed. “He’s very weak, Lwaxana. Julian says that we could lose him if your metaconscious gets any weaker.”
“I’m close, Odo. Take my hand and rub the palm.”
Odo, careful not to move his head, reached out and lifted one of her hands. Gently rubbing the soft palm, he felt the first signs of life as a finger twitched. “That’s it. Come back to me.”
“Hold my hand.”
Holding her hand, he held his breath waiting for the next sign that his wife was coming back to him. Feeling her lightly squeeze his hand, a tear rolled down his cheek. “That’s it,” he breathed, still not lifting his head.
“Odo?” Deanna questioned for the third time. She and Julian had been trying to get Odo’s attention for the last five minutes without much success.
“She’s coming back,” he whispered.
Just as Julian started to ask what Odo meant, the machines monitoring Lwaxana’s condition began to beep and he stared at them in astonishment. “He’s right. She is coming back, and so is the baby.”
Deanna smiled even as her eyes filled with tears. “You did it, Odo.”
“She did it.”
“No, my darling…we did it.” Lwaxana’s voice was a faint whisper but music to the ears of those surrounding her.
“Mother,” Deanna whispered as she leaned down and placed a kiss to her cheek.
“Do I need to stay this way?” Odo asked.
“Just a while longer.”
“As long as you want.”
“Odo, why don’t you sit up so I can run some scans.” Julian suggested.
“I can’t. If I sit up, she might lapse back into the stasis. She says that this was what I was supposed to do all along.”
Deanna rolled her eyes. “Why didn’t Shaldufar tell me this?” she hissed.
“I don’t know. She said that he knows of what she calls, the forehead touch. All I know is, I’m not moving until she tells me I can.”
Lwaxana fed her baby then laid him in his crib, sighing at the swirling madness in her mind. “I don’t remember this happening when grandmother was teaching me the technique,” she whispered as she closed her eyes. “My mind is a mess.”
“Then let it rest, Mother.” Deanna smiled when her mother opened her eyes and looked up at her.
“Little one, verbal communication is just as taxing as mental, probably more so.”
“Maybe you should transfer the nickname to my brother,” Deanna suggested.
Lwaxana shook her head. “No. The name is yours. I’m sorry that I keep calling you that. I’ll try harder to remember not to.”
Deanna watched her mother’s eyes close again and felt tears threaten. She really didn’t know this woman. “It’s alright, Mother.”
“Don’t cry, Li…Deanna. I’m going to be fine. My muddled mind will be fixed once we reach home.”
“I don’t understand all of this, Mother.”
“I know you don’t. I know that you have a lot of questions, but I can’t answer them all. At least not now. I promise to answer as many questions as I can once I’ve been to the temple.”
Deanna nodded and sat down, taking her mother’s hand. “Are you going to marry again on Betazed?”
Lwaxana smiled and squeezed the hand holding hers. “Yes. I asked Odo and he agreed.”
“Does he know what a Betazed ceremony entails?” Deanna asked, a bit surprised at the thought that he knew about the nudity.
Lwaxana smiled and shook her head. “I’m not sure if he knows everything or not. Although I don’t see how he couldn’t know.”
Deanna nodded. “It is a known fact, but I wouldn’t assume anything.”
“I won’t.” Lwaxana sighed. “I’m tired, Deanna, and I,”
“I know, Mother. You close your eyes and I’ll go get Odo.” Deanna squeezed her mother’s hand, watching her for a few moments. She could sense the whirling mess her mother’s thoughts were in, and wondered how much her mother wasn’t telling her.
Two days later, the Defiant found itself orbiting Betazed, not sure where on the planet Odo and Lwaxana were at, but happy that they’d made it in time to help Lwaxana. As the crew went about their daily duties, Lwaxana and Odo were currently going through the ritual that would restore her mind and rid it of the chaos.
Odo touched his forehead to Lwaxana’s, placing a kiss to her lips as he squeezed her hand. “Here we go again.”
Lwaxana chuckled. “Yes, here we go. It does help to calm the swirling mess that my mind has been in, so I’m glad.”
“I don’t mind it.”
“Thank you for making yourself into a blanket. I think it startled the priests.”
“I’m sure it did, but it’s cold, and I didn’t want you getting sick.”
Lwaxana caressed his lips with hers. “Thank you, Husband. Tell me how you became a Changeling again.”
“Should we be communicating so much?”
“This is what we’re supposed to do. It will help the priests right what’s wrong with my mind.”
“Then I’ll do whatever I must.”
“Just tell me how you became a Changeling again. I want to know what happened while I was gone.”
Odo sighed. “I felt so helpless and ashamed because I wasn’t able to protect you and the baby. For the first time since I was made a solid, I hated what my people did to me. If only I had been able to shape shift,” he started, but Lwaxana stopped him.
“No. Don’t think that. You did the only thing you could. I didn’t think less of you then, and I still don’t. We both made a mistake by not having the baby right beside our bed. I should never have let him be that far away from me. Neither of us knew that Jeyal would do something like that. He had accepted your declaration of love and our marriage, I thought it was over.”
Odo nodded slightly, accepting her sharing the guilt. “I told Deanna a lot of things, things that you wanted to tell her. I had to help her understand. Then she took me to meet this woman in ten-forward.”
Lwaxana smiled. “Guinan.”
“Yes. Amazing ability to get one to talk when they don’t want to.”
“Her species, I think, is some sort of empath. No one really knows much about her. Jean Luc knows more about her than anyone, but even he doesn’t know everything. No one has any idea how old she is, although they do know she’s been around long enough to have been in Earth’s nineteenth century.”
“Amazing.” Odo commented before continuing with his story. “After she got me to open up, I began to talk about how I felt. How I felt so helpless and alone without you. I told her everything about how we met, and how I hurt you. I told her about you coming to me, even after I’d hurt you again. So many things that I’ve never shared with anyone but you. All she did was listen. When I was through, she quietly told me I would find the answers I was looking for all in good time, but not to feel helpless and restricted by my human form…to learn and enjoy the things I had missed before.”
“The sense of smell, the ability to eat.”
“Mostly the sense of smell.” Odo inhaled the fragrance around him, amazed that he could still smell even though he was no longer a solid. “I’ve grown very fond of being able to smell you. The scent of your skin, the soft floral scent of your hair after you wash it. The smell of the crème you use on Chason still lingering on your hands. When the baby Changeling died and gave me back the ability to shape-shift, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the smells I’d grown accustomed to, saddened me. But I can still smell you.”
Lwaxana felt a tear roll down her eye. “Where did the baby come from? Show me,” she whispered.
Odo opened his mind, letting the images of his memories flow through their link, thankful that they were bonded in such a way that he didn’t have to do more than show her what he was thinking if he didn’t want to. It was much easier to do it this way with certain things. She’d seen what he went through at the hands of the Cardassians through the memories he’d shared with her after their minds were linked, and he’d shown her many more things just by thinking of them.
Lwaxana lifted her hand, gently fingering through Odo’s soft hair as she relived the moment he became the hawk and soared high above the Promenade. “Oh Darling.”
“You’re the only one who can know what I felt that day. No one can begin to imagine what it felt like.”
“It’s done,” a voice broke through their thoughts.
Odo lifted his head, staring down into the dark eyes of his love. “Are you alright?”
Nodding her head, Lwaxana smiled up at him. “I am. My mind is clear again, and the baby is settled.” She laughed suddenly. “Although he’s just a bit upset that Mr. Homn can’t provide him with the milk he’s searching for.”
Odo laughed with her as he shifted back to human form and stood, holding out his hand to help her up. “Here,” he held out her robe and wrapped it tightly around her. “Let’s go home, Wife. Our son needs his mother.”
“Home,” she breathed. “That sounds wonderful.”
Odo watched his wife put their sleeping baby in the cradle sitting only a few feet from her side of the bed. It would be some time before either of them were comfortable enough to let the baby sleep in the nursery across the hall. He knew that Jeyal was no longer a threat, something he had yet to thank Tobias for, but he also knew that his wife needed the added security of having her baby close.
And in truth, so did he.
Lwaxana turned to face her husband who lay in their bed, waiting for her to join him. Dropping her robe, she smiled when his eyes roved her nude form. Slipping beneath the covers, she moved into his waiting arms. “I see you had the same idea,” she commented at the feel of his bare skin touching hers.
Odo smiled as he kissed her upturned face. “It’s been so long, and I thought,” he stopped, not wanting to think about the feeling of utter hopelessness he’d felt when he’d lost her presence in his mind.
“Shh,” she whispered as she cupped his cheek. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that. I didn’t know any other way to protect us.”
“Don’t apologize for doing what you had to do,” his voice was as he reached up to caress a soft tendril of hair behind her ear.
Lwaxana smiled as she caressed her hand over his shoulder down his arm. “I’ve missed this. I’ve grown so accustomed to having your arms around me at night, that I couldn’t sleep. Even having your presence in my mind didn’t help. I wanted you.”
“I felt the same way. You had helped me so much when I was learning how to be a solid, that I didn’t know what to do without you there. I was sort of just functioning but not really feeling anything. I just did what I knew had to be done because I needed you. I wanted to feel you in my arms at night. I never slept in the bed in my quarters on the Enterprise because I had never slept in a bed alone.”
“You’re not alone now,” she informed him in a sultry voice that made him shiver.
“No, I’m not,” he managed. “but we’re not alone in the room, either.”
Lwaxana chuckled a bit. “He’s sound asleep. The Enterprise could come crashing down beside us and he wouldn’t stir.”
Odo couldn’t help but chuckle himself at her explanation. “So in other words, he’s a heavy sleeper.”
“When his stomach is full, he can sleep through anything.” She smiled and traced Odo’s lips with her finger. “Even his parents’ love making.”
Rolling them over, easily putting her underneath him, Odo stared down into the eyes that still fascinated him even after all this time. “How do you want to make love? The solid way? Or the Changeling way?”
“Surprise you, you say?” Odo smiled at his wife then let his shape go, wrapping around her as he had done their first time together. They had made love like this only one other time after that, something that he had regretted because he loved the feel of her body cocooned in his. He could feel every twitch of a muscle, every vibration of a nerve, and it only added to his own desire to have her, to be with her.
“Odo!” she cried out through their link, her voice echoing through his mind. She could feel him moving around her, subtly shifting his shape so that he massaged just the right spots on her body to arouse her and make her want more. With each move, each gentle nudge against her, she felt the heat spreading through her veins, heating her blood and making her feel as though she was outside her body even though she knew that she wasn’t. The feel of him made her tingle, made her ache with the need for release.
“Come for me, Wife,” his mind touched hers, encouraging her to let go and give in to what he knew she was straining toward. Giving all her erogenous zones a nudge at the same time, he stilled when her back arched, her voice echoing through his mind once again. Shifting back to his human form, he nudged the tender spot just below her ear, licking at the salty perspiration that covered her skin in a fine sheen.
Lwaxana felt her body tremble with each little nip of his teeth as he worked his way down to her breasts, nuzzling first one then the other before plumping them with his hands, taking a taut nipple in his mouth to suckle. “Odo,” she breathed as she shifted her thighs further apart to better cradle him with her body.
“You’ve learned a lot since that first time,” she whispered as she reached up, caressing his face.
“I know your body better than I did then.” He smiled as he turned his face to place a kiss to her palm. “I know just where to touch you to arouse you. I memorized your body each time we’ve been together.”
Wrapping her arms around his neck, she drew him down, his face mere inches from hers as she tangled her fingers in his hair. “I love you, Husband. Show me more,” she breathed.
Smiling as he leaned down, capturing her lips in a kiss, he let his hands begin to wonder over her soft curves. Marveling again at the silkiness of her skin, he wondered if there were any of the fine silks in Garak’s shop that came even remotely close. Feeling her arching into his touch, he let his tongue trace her lips before pushing through and scraping across her teeth as he tasted and teased.
Lwaxana felt a tear roll down her cheek as his thoughts filled her mind. All those years of loneliness, of chasing after men that didn’t really want her, they all fell away as she let her mind get lost in his as his hands continued to gently caress her. She felt his mouth surround a taut nipple and arched up, pressing herself closer to him. Tangling her fingers further into his hair, she moaned when he pulled away to switch his attention to the other breast.
Odo suckled her taut flesh then moved his kisses lower, licking a path down to her navel. “I love the taste of you.”
“You can still taste…ooh…me?”
“Yes. Another thing to be grateful for.” His mouth moved lower, eliciting a moan from his wife when he brushed his nose against her.
Lwaxana felt her muscles tense as she let her hands fall to the bed, taking deep breaths to control herself. She had taught her husband many things, this being one of them, but she’d never expected to experience this herself after the lessons were over. They had made love after she’d brought him home to Betazed, but this wasn’t something he’d tried. “Odo,” she whimpered.
Smiling, Odo merely continued what he’d been doing, his fingers joining his tongue as he gently thrust them into her warmth. Savoring the taste of her, something he hadn’t known the first time he’d loved her this way, he was surprised at the tangy bitter sweet. Moaning against her, he used his shoulders to hold her thighs open when she twitched at the sensations.
Feeling the familiar tingling working its way up her spine, Lwaxana gripped the sheets and turned her face into the pillow cradling her head. As his tongue traced around her soft folds, his fingers curled to touch the spot inside her that always set her on fire. “Sweet deities, Odo!” she cried out in her mind even as she bit her lower lip to stifle the moan that made its way from her chest as she gave into her orgasm, letting the release sweep over her in waves of pleasure so intense that her heart beat began pounding in her ears.
Odo moved up her body, resting his own body in the cradle of her thighs as he waited for her to catch her breath and look at him. Reaching up, he caressed a tendril of damp hair from her cheek. “I love your hair and that you wear it natural now. It’s beautiful, just like you are.”
Opening her eyes, she turned her face to look up at Odo. “I’ve never liked my hair, but now, through your eyes, I’m comfortable with it. I see it as you do.”
Leaning down, Odo pressed a kiss to her forehead, sliding himself deep inside the wet heat of his wife’s body. “I’ve waited so long to feel you around me again.”
Lifting her hands, she rested them on his back as she wrapped her legs around his thighs. “I’ve missed this closeness as well. You fill me as no other man ever has.” She felt him swell inside her with her thoughts, and sighed in amazement at the way his body functioned as a humanoid man’s did in this situation. “You’re amazing, Husband.”
“Only because of you. Your body has taught mine.” He sucked in a breath when her inner muscles squeezed around him.
“Love me, Odo,” she whispered, feeling his body begin to move against her, his eyes completely focused on her face.
“With all the pleasure I can give.”
Little rivulets of water and bubbles rolled down her body as she sat up and turned to face her husband. “I can’t believe you’re taking a bath with me.”
Odo shrugged. “I’ve never taken a bath. It’s a bit…odd.”
Laughter filled the bathroom before Lwaxana remembered the sleeping baby in his bassinet close by. “We can get out if you would like.”
Odo smiled at her. “No,” he whispered as he shook his head. “I’m enjoying the sight of you covered in all these bubbles.”
Her eyes gleamed at his unspoken thoughts. “Husband,” she silently admonished. “the things you think of.”
“I can’t seem to help myself. It’s very alluring the way the bubbles seem to gather at the most tempting spots of your body.”
Moving to straddle his thighs, Lwaxana let her hands caress his chest. “I’ve never felt this way with anyone before, Odo. You make me feel more alive than I have since,” she shrugged, not needing to finish the words.
“You didn’t have this kind of bond with your first husband?”
She smiled. “Well, actually, Ian was my second, and no. I’ve never had the Imazdi bond with anyone.”
Odo looked down, feeling things he wasn’t sure he understood. Lifting his face when she touched his cheek, he reached up to trace along her jaw line. “I’m honored, Wife, but why me? What makes me the one you have the Imzadi bond with?”
Leaning into his touch, Lwaxana sighed. “My first husband was a good lover, but I wasn’t in love with him. I loved Ian, very much, but we didn’t have a lot in common. Jeyal, well, you know all about that mess. You and I, on the other hand, have things in common that no one else can really understand. You were always ashamed of what and who you really are. You were afraid of how people would react if they saw the real you. That’s the way I have always been. I’ve always hidden my real hair under a wig, too ashamed to let people see the hair I’ve always thought of as ordinary. I’ve never had someone that I could just be my whole complete self with, not even Ian. He loved me, but he often got frustrated with my,” she shrugged not sure of the right word, letting her thoughts finish for her.
“You’re right. I have never had anyone, but you have family. I’m alone.”
“Were alone, my darling,” she reminded as she leaned forward, her breasts pressing against him. “You’re not alone now.”
“Neither are you.”
“No. And I’m very thankful for that. I still marvel at the fact that you’re here with me, that your arms hold me at night as we sleep. I don’t ever want to be without your presence in my mind again.”
Moving against her, Odo felt her response, her nipples growing taut against his chest as she moved her hips. “In the bath, Wife?”
“It’s just as good as the bed, Husband,” she answered, her hips rotating as she pressed her mouth to his, humming when his tongue touched hers.
Odo wrapped his arms around her, his hands caressing her back as he thrust up into her. She felt wonderful. He moaned when she moved against him, setting their rhythm as she broke from the kiss, her head falling back to expose the creamy expanse of her neck. Bracing her back with his hands, he leaned forward, his tongue tracing a path from the hollow of her throat to her chin before capturing her lips in another searing kiss that stole their breath.
“Husband,” she panted as she pulled back for air. Resting her forehead against his, she felt the water swirling around them as their bodies moved in perfect sync. Amazed at the thoughts and feelings she could sense from her husband, she realized that they mirrored hers perfectly, and it only made her want him more.
Odo felt her body tremble as her inner muscles clenched around him and knew that she was close. He could sense through their link how much she wanted him, and it drove him closer to his own release. Pulling her close, he held her to him as he moved faster, their bodies making the water splash about.
Lwaxana held on, letting her body take complete control as she followed Odo over the edge to release, her body tingling and quivering with the onslaught of her orgasm. She felt him tightening his hold, his own release filling her, setting off another smaller orgasm that made her whimper as she collapsed completely against him.
“Wife?” he questioned when she took a deep breath.
“Only trying to catch my breath, Husband. It’s been a very long time since I’ve made love this much in one night.” She laughed, “I’m supposed to be too old for this.”
Odo smiled and shook his head. “You’re not too old for anything.”
“Some time I’ll have to fill you in on the phase.”
He laughed when he sensed her disgruntled thoughts on the subject. “But not tonight.”
“No, not tonight,” she whispered around a yawn.
“Come, Wife. I believe it’s time I put you to bed.”
“Sleep sounds wonderful.”
Odo stood up, easily lifting her into his arms and stepping out of the large bathtub. Setting her on her feet, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her, gently patting the bubbles and water from her skin. “Night dress?”
She shook her head. “No.”
He smiled. “Good.”
Laughing, she kissed him when he stood up to place the towel back over the rack he’d pulled it from earlier. Looking over at the baby, she laughed at the odd look on his face. “I wonder if he’s dreaming.”
Odo studied their son’s face when he lifted the bassinette before turning to follow her back to their bedroom. “He might be, but it doesn’t seem to be too pleasant.”
“Or maybe we disturbed him,” she suggested then covered her mouth and the laugh that threatened at the look on Odo’s face.
“Now, Wife,” he growled.
“You distracted me so much that I’m not sure my barriers were up.”
“Oh brother,” he mumbled as he gently lifted the baby to settle him back in his cradle. “I’m sorry, Son, if we disturbed you.”
Lwaxana smiled as she settled into their bed. “Sweet,” she murmured as Odo slid in next to her.
Pulling his wife against him, spooning their bodies tightly together, Odo kissed her bare shoulder. “I love you, Wife.”
“I love you, Husband,” she returned as she laced her fingers with the fingers of his hand now resting on her stomach.
“Better than I have in weeks.”
“I what?” Odo asked as he stared with wide eyes at his wife.
Lwaxana couldn’t help the laugh that burst out at the look on her husband’s face. It was part horror, part shock, and absolutely adorable. Reaching out to caress the lines from his forehead, she marveled at the change in his features since becoming a shape-shifter again. “It’s tradition, Husband. And you have nothing to worry about.” She smiled at him.
Shaking his head, he sighed, “I should have learned more about your wedding ceremonies before I agreed to get married again.”
“You won’t be the only one there that won’t like being naked. Jean Luc isn’t particularly fond of the ceremony, either.”
Reaching up to squeeze her hand, he smiled and sighed his acceptance. “I’ll do anything as long as I have you beside me. I can always leave a certain body part out of my shape that day.”
“Oh no you don’t!” Lwaxana scolded. “You have to show up just the same as you are when we’re alone.”
Odo raised his eyebrows. “Wife!”
Lwaxana rolled her eyes. “Not like that! I’m the only one who gets to see you that way.”
“I should hope so.”
“Oh you’re impossible sometimes,” she huffed, switching back to verbal communication.
Odo smiled and pulled her close. “You love me that way.”
Returning his smile, she nodded. “I do love you, Odo. I can’t imagine going back to a life without you.”
“You won’t have to. I,” he started but was interrupted by Mr. Homn leading Picard, Sisko, and Bashir into the room.
“Mr. Homn?” Lwaxana asked, amazed that she hadn’t sensed the others upon their arrival. “Ah, I see. Very well, go fix some refreshments for our guests.”
“That’s not necessary, Ambassador.” Sisko told her. “We’re here because there’s trouble.”
Lwaxana rolled her eyes as she settled herself next to Odo on the sofa. “The Tavnian government want my baby.”
Sisko was sure he’d never get used to her knowing what he was going to say, before he said it, but nodded anyway. “Yes, Ma’am. They insist that he is their property now that his father is dead.”
“But he isn’t their property. Their laws are clear. The child is the property of the mother’s husband, not the baby’s father.” Odo said in frustration. “Why must they keep insisting on taking this baby away from his mother?”
“I read their laws, Odo, and what you say is true. It is very clear, but they keep insisting that your marriage isn’t valid.”
Lwaxana sighed. “I’m tired of them insisting that it isn’t valid because Odo is a Changeling, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to get Betazed’s government involved in this because I don’t want to start a war, but I’m afraid that’s what they’ll try to do if we keep fighting them on this issue. What is it about my baby that makes him so special to them?”
“I believe I can answer that.” Julian spoke up. “They want him for scientific study.”
Lwaxana opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out, her thoughts so chaotic, Odo had to shake his head to clear his own mind enough to speak.
“They what? Why would they want to do that?”
“I did a little research. This baby is the first successful hybrid. No other child that had mixed parents survived. Thanks to Quark, I was able to dig a little deeper and discovered that the Ambassador didn’t get pregnant without a little help. They put a drug in her food to ensure she would become pregnant. It seems they do that with every alien that has the misfortune to marry into the Tavnian race.”
“But why? I don’t understand.” Lwaxana asked, clinging tightly to Odo’s hand.
“Because as a race, the Tavnians are slowly weakening. While the women have no trouble becoming pregnant, the children they give birth to often die within the first ten years, and more and more of the ones that survive are mentally or physically limited.”
“So you mean they are trying to use new DNA to strengthen their race? My poor little baby is to be their savior?”
“So they seem to believe.” Julian shook his head. “But they’re wrong, something that they would soon discover, and by then it would be too late for the baby.”
“Then what do we do? I won’t let them use my baby as research.”
“We rid him of his Tavnian DNA and replace it with Odo’s.”
Everyone in the room stared wide eyed at the young doctor.
“Dr. Bashir? Care to explain that?” Picard spoke up.
“I know it seems shocking, and I know that it’s not something that’s done, but it’s the only way we are going to stop these people. I have Odo’s DNA from the tests I ran shortly after he was changed into a humanoid by the Founders.”
“But it’s expressly forbidden to genetically change or enhance anyone.” Picard reminded.
“I know that it is. I also know that what I said before is true. This is the only way the Tavnian government will leave the Ambassador alone. She was kidnapped once and we nearly lost her and her child. Do we want to risk it happening again with things not ending so well the next time?”
“If we do this, it stays between the five of us. No one is to be told.” Sisko warned.
“I can’t keep this from Deanna. She’ll sense something is being kept from her.” Lwaxana told him.
Picard nodded. “She’s right. We can’t keep Counselor Troi in the dark about this. For that matter, Comm. Riker must be told as well.”
Sisko sighed and nodded. “Fine. Now,” he looked at Lwaxana. “it’s up to you, Ambassador.”
Lwaxana looked at Odo. “He would be your son in more than just your love for him. No one could ever deny it. It’s your decision, too. If you don’t want them to use your DNA, we’ll just simply make the baby completely Betazoid.”
Odo squeezed her hand, his gaze never leaving hers. “Can you do the procedure on the Enterprise?”
“Yes, I can. Everything I need is in their sickbay, and I have your DNA on the Defiant.”
“Then we give our consent. When do we start?”
“Give me an hour to prepare.”
Odo looked at the young man. “Thank you, Julian. If the truth ever comes out, Lwaxana and I will take the blame.”
“If the truth ever comes out, we all take the blame.” Picard insisted. “We all go into this willingly. We all willingly pay for the crime if it’s ever discovered.”
Elysian: Excellent, beautiful
“Will,” she whispered.
“Deanna,” he whispered in return. Looking down at her, he thought of times past when they’d been together. “You’re still as beautiful as you were all those years ago on Betazed.”
“And here we are again. Although we’re not exactly on Betazed this time.” She smiled at him.
“There must be something about this planet. It brought us together once, and now again. Is there some magical power it possesses that you haven’t told me about?”
Deanna shifted beneath him, her hands moving down his back to rest at his waist. “I’ve never heard about one, but then again, I hadn’t heard about the stasis technique Mother used, either. There could be. Or maybe it just has something to do with Mother’s happiness with Odo. Maybe she’s projecting again.”
Will shook his head, his hand reaching up to caress her face. “No. I don’t believe she’s projecting.” Leaning forward to press a kiss to her waiting mouth, he slid slowly inside her. “I’ve wanted to be with you for quite a while. Long before all of this with your mother.”
Running her fingers through his hair, Deanna lifted her legs, wrapping them around him. “I’m tired of talking about my mother.”
Smiling, he rubbed his cheek against hers. “Imzadi,” he whispered before nibbling on her ear, his hips moving in a slow rhythm against her.
The use of the name made her shiver and pull him closer. Their bond had never been like her mother’s with Odo, but she hoped as they explored this relationship once more, that it would grow. She wanted to be that close to someone, to be that in love with someone. She had always been in love with Will, but never enough to give up everything to be with him.
“Imzadi,” she whispered back, tightening her embrace, using her feet to urge him to move faster.
Will gave what she wanted, quickening the pace, moaning as he buried his face in her hair. The scent of her was intoxicating; the feel of her warm body surrounding him – elysian. He was so close, so close that his control was nearly gone, but he wanted her there with him. Reaching down between them, he touched her where they were joined, gently scissoring his fingers until she cried out and bucked up against him, her inner muscles clamping around him setting off his own release.
Panting to catch her breath, Deanna let her arms fall as Will slid to the bed beside her, his head resting on her breast, an arm draped across her torso. “Are you alright, Imzadi?”
“Yes,” his mind answered, then he looked up at her with a startled expression. “Deanna?”
Smiling as she reached up to caress a wayward and damp curl from his forehead, Deanna nodded. “We can hear each other’s thoughts now. It would seem that the link we’ve sought has finally been granted.”
“Maybe we were never ready before,” he suggested then settled a leg over hers, his hand curling around her side.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I’ve been thinking of all the things my mother was willing to give up for the baby and for Odo. Odo told me Mother was going to leave Betazed and live on DS9 if he wanted to. And she nearly died for the baby. But have I ever been willing to give everything up for you? For the love we could have?”
“Deanna,” he started but she stopped him with a touch of her finger on his lips.
“No, Will. I have to say this. I’ve always held some affection for you, but I don’t believe I ever truly loved you. I do love you now. I love you enough that I’m willing to give up my position on this ship if it comes to that. I want to be with you. I want to have a life together. I want,” she stopped and frowned when her comm. badge beeped.
“Troi here,” she said after tapping the object.
“You have an incoming message from the planet, Counselor. It’s your mother.”
“Thank you. Put it through to my quarters. Troi out.” She sighed and looked at Will. “Sorry.”
“It’s alright.” He smiled at her and pressed a kiss to her cheek as she moved to get out of bed.
Grabbing her robe, she tied it tightly around her as she made her way to her desk. Pushing the button to answer the message blinking on the screen, she was surprised by the look on her mother’s face. “Mother? What is it?”
“I can’t go into it over an open comm. line. And while I could tell you telepathically, I’d rather wait. Odo and I are preparing to beam aboard. I’ll tell you once we’re there.”
“Mother, what is going on? Why are you being so mysterious?”
“I told you; I can’t tell you now. Odo and I will be there in a few minutes.” Lwaxana studied her daughter. “And tell Will to make himself appear as if he just arrived. Captain Picard will be joining us.”
Deanna felt her face heat at her mother’s scrutiny. “Mother,” she sighed.
Lwaxana smiled. “I’m sorry, Little…Deanna. I’m very happy that the two of you seem to have figured out the things that were keeping you apart. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Before Deanna could respond, the screen went black. Feeling Will’s hands on her shoulders, she leaned against his arm with a sigh. “I’ve hurt her, Will. I always hated when she’d call me Little One, but now that she doesn’t, I…”
“You realize you didn’t hate it as much as you thought,” he finished for her, brushing a soft kiss across her forehead.
Deanna nodded. “She’s scared about something, but she’s blocking it from me.” She pushed up out of the chair. “We should probably get ourselves dressed.”
“Yeah.” Will agreed. “I really don’t want to be caught in just a robe.”
“They’re what?” Deanna asked, her head hurting from the emotions in the room.
Odo squeezed Lwaxana’s hand and pulled her a bit closer. “The Tavnian government have insisted that Chason be given over to them.”
Captain Picard decided to break in. “It’s a long story, and one that we don’t have time for at the moment. You’ll be told everything once we’ve stopped this craziness.”
“What are we going to do, Captain?” Will asked wishing that he could take Deanna’s hand.
“The only thing we can do.”
“You can’t turn him over to them.” Deanna said in surprise.
“Deanna, that isn’t what he meant.” Odo assured her. “Julian is in sickbay preparing to do a DNA extraction and replacement procedure. We’ve told the Tavnian government that they have no claim to the baby because he isn’t Tavnian. They’ve been told that Chason isn’t Jeyal’s child but mine.”
“Your DNA?” Will asked, his brow creased in confusion. “I thought you were a Changeling again.”
“I am, but Julian still has my DNA from the tests he ran shortly after I was turned into a solid.”
“But it’s forbidden.”
Picard nodded. “Which is why this stays between the five of us, Captain Sisko, and Doctor Bashir.”
“But, Captain, if this ever gets out,” Will started but stopped when Picard held up his hand.
“We all lose our careers and wind up in penal colonies,” he finished. “I know this, Number One, but I also know that this government will not give up as long as they believe this baby is part Tavnian.”
“I don’t understand why the government wants Chason.” Deanna shook her head, trying to make sense of all the confusion.
“Because, Deanna, they are the reason he exists.” Lwaxana sighed, knowing that they’d have to make the time to tell Deanna the whole truth even though Jean Luc had wanted to wait.
“According to information Julian was able to procure, the Tavnian people are weakening and the government has started experimenting with hybrids. They drugged Lwaxana to make sure she became pregnant, something they’ve done to every alien woman that has had the misfortune to marry a Tavnian. Chason is the first baby to survive.”
“So what you’re saying, is that my baby brother is to be the savior of the Tavnian people?” Deanna scowled. “But he’s only a baby.”
Lwaxana nodded. “Yes, he is. Julian said that Chason won’t solve their problem, even though they believe that he will. Once the government discovers that bit of information, they’ll,” she stopped and shook her head.
“But they won’t.” Odo whispered as he pulled her close, pressing his forehead against hers.
Deanna watched her mother, amazed at the way she let herself lean on someone. After she’d been old enough to watch and comprehend what her mother did, Deanna had learned that Lwaxana always took charge without letting anyone help her. To many people this new version of her mother would appear weaker than the other version, but to Deanna, it made her mother stronger and brought her closer to understanding just exactly who Lwaxana Troi was.
Lwaxana stood, her head resting on Odo’s shoulder, staring out at nothing. The stars outside the viewport were nothing but blurs to her weary eyes. “He’s just a baby, Odo,” she whispered.
“And he’ll be back in your arms soon. After Julian finishes the procedure, he’ll call us and you can go and hold your baby.”
“Then we’ll have to let the Tavnian Minister of Science scan him,” she sighed then switched to silent communication. “I just want to take our baby and go home. I want to finish planning our wedding.”
“Shh. I know, Wife.” Hearing the door open, Odo smiled at his step-daughter’s reflection. “I think someone wants to talk to her mother. Maybe having the long overdue talk with Deanna will help take your mind off of missing Chason. I’ll go to sickbay to see how things are going and leave the two of you alone.”
“Promise to let me know if anything happens?”
“I promise.” Kissing her gently, he released her then turned and quietly made his way from their quarters.
“Mother.” Deanna greeted, watching the way her mother’s eyes followed Odo through the doors.
“He’s good to me, Deanna.”
“Good for you, too.”
Lwaxana smiled sadly at her daughter. “I suppose you’ve come for some answers.”
Deanna sat down and stared at her mother. “I need to know why you married that Tavnian. I need to understand why you didn’t call for help. There’s so many questions, Mother.”
“I married him because my heart was broken.”
“Could you not read him? I don’t understand how you didn’t know what he was like.”
Lwaxana sighed and looked away from Deanna. “I could read him. I chose not to.”
“I told you, Little,” she stopped and shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Mother. I know that I always complained about you calling me that, but please, don’t stop.” Deanna let her mother read her thoughts and watched as another sad smile appeared on her mother’s lips.
“Alright, Little One.”
“Thank you. Now finish what you were telling me.”
“My heart was broken, Deanna. I’ve never felt that way before.”
“I still don’t understand. You’ve had men turn you down before.”
“But I’ve never been this in love before, Deanna. I loved your father, but it was different than how I love Odo. I’ve tried to figure out why I fell so hard for Odo and the only thing I can come up with is that in a way we’re exactly alike.”
Deanna frowned and in her confusion switched back to verbal communication. “What?”
“I was ashamed of my differences. You have no idea what it was like growing up and having mental abilities that far surpassed everyone but your grandmother. Everyone knew that I was different but didn’t know the reason. I couldn’t go to school until I was older because I couldn’t control some aspects of my abilities and because I had to learn all that I could from Gram before she passed. When I was old enough, I began to draw attention to my looks, wear wigs to cover up my ordinary hair, and act as though I were nothing but a flighty female.” Looking back at her daughter, she saw her wiping a tear. “Odo was the same, Deanna. He was different and they treated him horribly. He felt that if anyone saw how truly different he was, they would recoil from him, so he learned how to adapt and hide most of his differences because he was ashamed.”
Deanna moved to where her mother sat and knelt down, wrapping her arms around her. “I’m so sorry. All these years you’ve done everything you could to protect me and I’ve resented it. Why didn’t you ever tell me about what you went through growing up? Why did I never know about your abilities?”
“Because they aren’t something I’m comfortable talking about, or even allowed to talk about. The only reason you know that I have them is because I had to use a couple of them to survive this ordeal.” Reaching up to cup her daughter’s face, Lwaxana pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll never be able to tell you everything, Deanna, I’m not allowed. I know that you know I’m one of the more powerful telepaths on Betazed, but you can never know how powerful.”
“Why? I’m your daughter.”
“Because my abilities were not passed on to you.”
“Because I’m half human.”
“That and because it skips a generation. I’m the last of our line that will have these powers and abilities, but I’m okay with that. I’m glad you don’t have to live with this.”
“What’s the other reason you can’t tell me?”
“I took an oath, Little One.”
Cocking her head to the side, Deanna studied her mother. “Does Odo know just how powerful you are?”
“Yes, he does. As my Imzadi, it is his right. The Imzadi bond between a Betazoid, such as myself, and her mate, is different than any other. They become your very soul.” Biting her lip, debating if she should tell her daughter one more truth, she closed her eyes. “If I die, Odo will die. The bond is not merely broken as it is with normal bonds.”
“And if Odo dies?” Deanna questioned, already sure she knew what the answer would be.
Lwaxana opened her eyes, looking into the mirroring depths of her daughter’s black eyes. “I die.”
Deanna swallowed. “But he’s a Changeling.”
Lwaxana shook her head. “That won’t change anything.”
“Then we’ll have to make sure neither of you die.”
“We’ll do our best. I plan to live a very long life, just like my grandmother.”
“How old was she?”
Deanna rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Now that I know why you married Jeyal, tell me why you didn’t leave once you realized your mistake.”
“Because I found out I was pregnant. And now that we know that I was drugged to make it happen, I never had a chance of getting out of my situation. I didn’t contact you because I knew how upset you were with me, not that I could have contacted you if I’d wanted to. I was property and property doesn’t need to have communication privileges.”
Both women’s heads turned when the doors swished open.
“Look who I’ve brought to see you, Wife.” Odo whispered as he walked to where Lwaxana was sitting, placing their baby in her waiting arms.
“My baby,” she breathed as she pressed a kiss to his cheek.
“He’s perfectly fine, Momma. He’s half Betazoid, half well, whatever I was.” Odo shrugged and chuckled. “Or am.”
Deanna and Lwaxana looked up at him with puzzled expressions.
“Whatever you are?” Deanna asked. “I think we need more of an explanation than that.”
Odo shrugged as he sat down beside Lwaxana. “It would seem that I am a hybrid. I still have humanoid aspects. I have DNA. I can smell. I can taste. I can eat. I still have real hair. And…I’m a Changeling.”
“How did that happen?”
“I have no idea. Neither does Julian. Somehow, when the baby Changeling reactivated my matrix, it did it in such a way as to leave behind part of what the Founders had turned me into. I believe it was part of the gift the Changeling gave me.”
“How did you learn all of this?” Deanna asked.
“Julian needed more DNA than what he’d originally thought. He ran a scan, even though we were both sure it would do no good.”
“Surprised you both.” Deanna laughed then looked at her baby brother. “Is everything over now?”
“Yes. All we have to do is meet with the Tavnians tomorrow. By then there will be no trace of any medical procedures.”
Deanna frowned. “What about Chason’s brain?”
“What about it? It’s fully Betazoid. That’s why the baby won’t be the savior of the Tavnian race. The only reason he survived is because the bloodline is passed on through the mother in the Betazoid race, not the father. Betazoids are the superior race out of the two, so Chason only had the nose ridge and DNA to prove that he was Tavnian.”
“That’ll teach the Tavnians to mess with Betazoids.” Deanna smiled. “I’m going to go so that the three of you can go to bed.”
“Goodnight, Deanna.” Odo smiled up at his step-daughter as she stood looking down at her baby brother.
“Goodnight, Little One. Go find Will. I’m sure you could use a pair of strong arms to rest in on this night. I know that’s what I need.”
Pressing a kiss to her mother’s cheek, Deanna smiled as she kissed Chason’s head. “I do need that, and I won’t have to go find Will. He’s already waiting for me in my quarters.”
Lwaxana bit her lip as the Science Minster ran his scanning device over her baby for the third time. “It can’t be. It isn’t possible,” he mumbled.
“You were told that my baby wasn’t Tavnian. I may have been married to Jeyal, but I was already carrying the child.”
“But you couldn’t have been. We, we made sure.”
“Meyal!” The Health Minister hissed. “Enough. Obviously we’ve made a mistake.” His tone had a warning in it letting the other man know he’d given away far too much information with his blundering reaction.
“Obviously.” Odo ground out, barely controlling his temper. “Now I suggest that you leave and not bother my family again. I’m tired of having to deal with your outrageous claims to my son.”
“You have my word that there will be no further attempts to claim the infant.”
“Thank you, Minister Neyual.” Captain Picard titled his head then watched as the men left.
“Did he mean what he said?” Commander Riker asked as soon as the doors were closed.
“Yes, Will. He was sincere.” Lwaxana answered as she bent over to lift the baby into her arms.
Deanna watched as her mother cradled Chason close. “But what about the Science Minister, Mother?”
“He’ll be dealt with once they return to Tavny. He was careless with his reaction and let information slip out that their government wanted kept quiet.”
Deanna nodded. “Oh.”
Odo smiled down at the baby currently staring up at him. “What do you find so fascinating?” he asked in a quiet voice as he lifted the baby’s hand to his mouth, placing a gentle kiss to the soft skin as the tiny fingers gripped his larger one.
“You.” Lwaxana whispered as she reached out to caress her baby’s chubby cheek.
“Me? What’s fascinating about this plain face?” Odo asked as he turned to look at her.
“Darling, don’t do that. Nothing about you is plain,” she told him across their link.
Deanna studied her step-father and realized something. “Your face is different, Odo.”
Odo looked away from his wife and gave his step-daughter a puzzled look. “I look different? How could I look different? I shaped my face as I always do.”
Lwaxana chuckled. “Oh, Husband. Go look in the mirror,” she suggested.
Odo frowned but got up and walked to the mirror, startled at what he saw. He looked the same, sort of. For the first time since he’d assumed a humanoid form, his face had definition. It was no longer the plain face he’d seen in the mirror so many times over the years. He’d never before been able to achieve the subtleties that made the humanoid face so distinctive, though he had tried with a near obsession in the beginning. Now, the gift of a baby Changeling, and the love of his wonderful wife had changed that.
“I loved you as you were, Husband.” He heard whispered in his mind. Turning, he smiled and walked to where she sat holding their son.
“I know, Wife. I can’t help but be happy to have a normal face. Now I’ll fit in and be harder to distinguish as a Changeling. Think of the possibilities this opens up.”
Deanna, realizing that she had been forgotten decided to take her leave. Standing, she watched the kiss exchanged between her mother and Odo before smiling at the gentle kiss he placed on the baby’s forehead.
“You haven’t been forgotten, Little One.”
“It’s alright, Mother. I’m going to go. Will is waiting.”
“I’ll contact you when we’re ready to transport back to the surface.”
“Alright. Until then.”
Odo couldn’t help but stare as he watched his wife nurse the baby. As he watched them, he found it hard to believe that he’d ever felt so alone. The outcast of his people, he’d believed he would never truly have a family and home. But this beautiful woman came into his life, even though he’d wanted nothing to do with her advances and love in the beginning, and ultimately became the one person who truly understood the being behind the tough outside façade.
“I love you, Husband.” Lwaxana smiled and held out her hand.
Odo happily took her hand, lifting it to his lips to press a tender kiss to the soft skin. “I know that you do. Although I’m still not sure why.” He watched her pat the baby’s back, chuckling when a loud burp sounded in the room.
Pressing a kiss to Chason’s head, Lwaxana smiled as she stood up. “He doesn’t have any manners.”
“We’ll teach him, but I don’t think manners matter at this point in his life. Eating, sleeping, and being cuddled, I believe are his top priorities.”
“Among a few other things,” she chuckled as she laid the baby down in the cradle Will had thoughtfully provided.
“Speaking of a few other things,” Odo started.
“Husband,” she whispered as she moved back to him, sitting down in his lap. “I believe his other things are different than what you’re thinking about.”
Wrapping his arms around his wife, Odo looked down at her. “Do you really want to wait until after the wedding?”
“No, but it’s part of the traditional Betazoid wedding. We’re not supposed to make love three days before the ceremony.”
“So yesterday was the first day, today is almost over, and we have one more to go?”
Lwaxana nodded. “Just one more, and then we’ll go wherever you want to celebrate our marriage.”
“I just want to go home, Wife. There is nowhere that I would rather go. You’ve made your home a place that I can call my home. I just want to spend time there with you, our baby, and even Mr. Homn. He’ll get plenty of chances to grumble about what we’re up to.”
Lwaxana laughed. “He does go on at times.”
Odo stared at himself in the mirror and frowned. “Naked!” he grumbled only to hear a chuckle through their link. Smiling, he shook his head. “Not nice, Wife,” he sent back.
“Just a few more minutes, my love.”
Smiling, he sighed and walked out of the room they’d given him at the temple. “I’m on my way now. I love you.”
“See you there. I love you, too.”
Odo took a deep breath then stepped out into the open air, keeping his mind focused on the High Priest and frowning as it dawned on him that the man wasn’t naked. “Just why does he get to wear clothes?”
Lwaxana couldn’t help but laugh out loud which earned her a look from her daughter. “Sorry, Deanna. Odo just realized that Phaltar is wearing robes.”
Deanna smiled and shook her head. “Poor Odo. Why didn’t he know that the high priest presiding over the ceremony always wears robes?”
“It slipped my mind.” Lwaxana shrugged. “Things were a little hectic.”
“But it’s all over with now.” Deanna squeezed her mother’s hand. “Have I told you how beautiful I think your hair is this way?”
“No you haven’t, Little One. Thank you. Odo likes it down and natural. Besides, I’m not allowed to wear anything but my ring.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.” Deanna looked out at the guests, biting her lip when she spotted Captain Picard, the look on his face perfectly calm, even though she knew he would rather be scowling over the fact that he was standing in all his glory surrounded by friends and strangers.
“Jean Luc is doing better than I expected.” Lwaxana smiled at her daughter before turning her attention to the steps that would lead her up to where her beloved was waiting.
Deanna watched her mother, tears filling her eyes at the love and happiness she felt from those around her. Even the off-worlders who were uncomfortable without their clothing, had suddenly forgotten the embarrassment as their attention focused on Lwaxana slowly climbing the stone steps leading to Odo and the High Priest. Joining Will, she smiled when he reached out and clasped her hand. She could see the love in his eyes and knew that soon there would be another wedding on Betazed, here at this very place.
“Wife. Friend. Lover. Mate. You’re all of these things and so much more. You know my thoughts, my heart. You were the one person who truly understood how I’d always felt living in a world full of solids. Even when I chose the solid world over my own, a part of me longed to be with my own kind. I longed to be accepted for who I am, not who others want me to be. I tried so hard to make myself into what I thought others wanted, but still I felt like I was on the outside looking in. No one other than scientists and doctors had ever seen the real me, not until that day in the turbolift. You showed me your true self so that I would be comfortable enough to let you help me. No one had ever cared enough for me to do that. I love you, Wife. Mind, body, soul. I am your Imzadi until death.”
“Husband. Friend. Lover. Mate. You’re also all of those things and more to me. Our thoughts often collide, something that amuses me instead of irritating me as it would have with anyone else. I’ve always had to protect my innermost thoughts, but then you came along. Now my mind is open in a way that I’ve never experienced. I’m freer than I have ever been in all my life. Through your love I’ve realized that I no longer have to hide behind the wigs and outlandish clothes. I can just be me, the true me, and still have you here by my side. Where you longed to be with those like you, I longed to be able to just be myself with my own kind. We were both outsiders, but now we’re no longer alone. We’re no longer outsiders, my love. We belong…to each other. I love you, Husband. Mind, body, soul. I am your Imzadi until death.”
Deanna sniffed and leaned her head against Will’s arm. She had heard every word even though they were spoken in silence. That was something the other priests had provided for those in attendance who weren’t telepaths, she being one of them. She could hear her mother’s thoughts, but Odo’s had to be passed on through the priests. The only spoken words would be those of the High Priest after the symbolic mind touch her mother and Odo would do by touching their foreheads. The symbolic gesture came from the days when the bride and groom would form their bond on their wedding day because they were kept from one another after their betrothal. Many a wedding never finished in those days because if there was no bond, there was no marriage.
That wasn’t something her mother and Odo had to worry about. Their bond had been formed long before this moment and had only become deeper as time passed, staying with them even though they were separated.
Will looked down at Deanna when he heard her sniff again. Smiling, he pressed a kiss to her head, wondering when it would be their turn to stand up there in front of their family and friends and pledge their love to each other. Turning his attention back to Odo and Lwaxana, he concentrated on what the priests were sending to his mind. That was a little weird getting used to, but the reverence of the stillness around them only seemed to make the ceremony more meaningful.
As the High Priest’s voice broke the quiet, all eyes focused on the couple surrounded by a mist formed as the sun set and the air cooled around them. The words that were spoken were in the language of old Betazed, a language that only the Betazoid guests understood, but it didn’t matter. The mystical moment awed the guests into a tranquil state of mind, leaving them feeling more at ease than most had felt in years.
“I love you, Wife.” Odo spoke the words aloud as he’d been told to do.
“I love you, Husband.” Lwaxana echoed as she held his hands, smiling as he leaned toward her, their lips meeting in a slow sweet kiss to seal the bond that had been made so many months ago.
“Stop!” a shout was heard, shattering the stillness and causing the telepaths, and non-telepaths alike, to cringe.
Mr. Homn frowned and moved to the redheaded figure causing such a disturbance. Glaring down at the woman he knew had tried to cause trouble with his Lwaxana and Odo, he carefully lifted her off her feet then turned when he heard his mistress’ voice.
“Take her out, Mr. Homn, but don’t hurt her. Wait by the transporter station.”
Bowing his head in acknowledgement, Mr. Homn hurried out, knowing that the faster he got the woman out of there the happier the guests would be. He’d lived among the Betazoid people long enough to know that the strong emotions this woman was obviously emitting had to be causing chaos in their minds. Not to mention that her loud yelling was disturbing the tranquility around them.
Kira struggled against the big man holding her, her temper flaring as she shouted, “Let me go!”
“I’m sorry, Major, but he won’t take orders from anyone but my wife and I.” Odo glared at the woman before nodding to Mr. Homn.
Setting the woman down, Mr. Homn moved to stand in front of the door, blocking the only escape. Standing and glaring at Kira, he wondered just what she thought she’d accomplish.
“Just exactly what did you hope to accomplish?” Odo asked, his hand finding Lwaxana’s and holding tight.
“You don’t belong with her. I know the truth now. I know that you love me. We can be happy together. You can live where you belong. On the station with me.”
Lwaxana shook her head. “So how did you finally figure it out? Or did someone tell you?”
Kira glared at the older woman. “You know nothing.”
“I know everything.”
Odo held up his hand when Kira started to speak again. “Enough. You need to leave, Major.”
“Why do you keep calling me Major? You used to call me Kira. What has she done to you?”
Odo looked down at his wife and smiled. “She’s done nothing but love me,” he whispered before looking back up at the woman he’d once thought he loved. “You don’t know the truth. I thought I loved you, but it was only a mistake. And I can see now that our friendship meant more to me than it did you. You crave attention and power. My friendship gave you attention. The men you have been in relationships with brought you closer to the power you think you deserve as well as more attention. I don’t understand how I could’ve been so blind to the kind of person you really are.”
“She’s brainwashed you.” Kira hissed as she glared at Lwaxana.
“Oh get her out of here. She isn’t going to listen to anything anyone has to say.” Lwaxana sighed.
Mr. Homn moved to do as asked, but stopped when Captain Sisko brushed past, modestly wrapped in a robe he’d gotten from somewhere.
“I’ll take care of her,” he assured the couple. “I’m sorry, Odo.”
“It isn’t your fault, Captain. Just make sure she doesn’t come back.”
“I assure you that she won’t be causing anymore trouble. Now go on back to your guests. They’re all waiting to congratulate the happy couple.” Ben smiled at them then turned his attention to his troublesome first officer.
“This isn’t over! He’s mine!” Kira shouted.
Lwaxana rolled her eyes then glared. “It is over, Major. He wasn’t yours before, and he most definitely isn’t yours now. You could have had this wonderful man in your life, giving you all the attention you crave and a love that far surpasses anything you’ll ever know, but you were too greedy. He doesn’t have the kind of power you want, so he wasn’t worth anything more than the little bit of time you afforded him. Face it. You’re too late. Much, much too late.”
Odo held his wife close as they stood talking with Will and Deanna. Things had quieted down and they were all thankfully dressed and celebrating inside a beautifully decorated open air banquet hall. “Wife, do you think we’ll be attending another wedding sometime soon?” he asked as he watched his step daughter smile up at her companion.
“I do think they’ll be getting married, but they’ll have to work things out with their jobs first. I’m not sure if Starfleet will allow them to serve on the same ship since Will is the First Officer.” Lwaxana watched her daughter touch Will’s arm. “I think Deanna has finally learned what love is about. I believe if it comes to it, she’ll leave Starfleet. She can easily have a private practice.”
“She learned from you what love is. You’ve shown all of us it’s true meaning.” Odo lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to the soft skin.
Deanna smiled at her mother and step father. “You look much more comfortable now, Odo.” She couldn’t resist teasing.
Lwaxana laughed at the good natured grumble her husband gave, even as he smiled. “Deanna, behave. He was wonderful.”
“It was a bit disconcerting.” Captain Picard spoke up.
“I will admit to be uncomfortable, but I have to say that there might be something to having a wedding this way.” Will added his own thoughts.
Picard nodded. “I agree. It was very peaceful and tranquil. This was the first wedding that I’ve been to where everyone was at ease, even those of us uncomfortable without our clothes.”
“Once the ceremony began, I forgot about that.” Will said as he put his arm around Deanna.
“That’s why you were told before to empty your minds of everything but the wedding and what was happening around you. We wanted you to share in our love, not be distracted by work, etcetera.” Lwaxana raised her eyebrow as she looked from Will to her daughter. “Although I suspect some of you were still distracted a bit.”
Deanna blushed a little when Will laughed and looked down at her. “Mother,” she breathed.
“Yes, Little One?”
“I was merely telling the truth. And did I mention any names?”
Picard couldn’t help but chuckle. This was really the most fun he’d had in quite some time. “I believe, Counselor, that you gave yourself away.”
“I suppose I did.” Deanna gave in, laughing with the rest of them. Lifting her glass, she turned to her mother. “I want to raise a toast to my mother. I’ve learned a lot watching you and Odo. I never really understood you, now I think I do. I never knew what love was until these last few weeks. Now I know. It’s giving of yourself no matter what the consequences. If you love someone, you’re willing to give up the things you think are important, because in the grand scheme of it all, your loved one is more important than anything in the universe. So important that you’ll give your life for your loved ones if that’s what is asked of you.” She stopped and closed her eyes. “Thank you, Mother, for teaching me the most important lesson of all.”
“Here, here,” the others chorused as they raised their own glasses.
“To Odo and Lwaxana,” Will began. “May your lives be blessed with many more years of love and happiness. And may we all continue to live peacefully.”
“I’ve gotten to know a very different woman from the one that always seemed to be causing chaos on my ship,” Picard began with a smile, causing the others to chuckle. “I’ve also gotten to know the man that woman is married to. It’s amazing the two of you found each other. The woman I know now is extraordinary, and I can see where my counselor got her strength of character and her fierce determination. It took amazing courage to stand up to a race that has power such as the Founders do, but both of you did so. I think all of us have learned a lesson or two in the past few weeks. We will live peacefully.”
Lwaxana held her baby close, smiling at the way his mouth made the sucking motion even though he was asleep. “Do you want to lay him down, Darling?”
Odo smiled as he bent down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’d be happy to,” he whispered as he lifted his sleeping son carefully from his mother’s arms. Moving to the nearby cradle, he stopped and turned to look at her with a raised eye brow. “Are you sure, Wife?”
“I’m positive, Husband. He’s safe now. Tonight is our wedding night. The baby will sleep the rest of the night. If he doesn’t, Mr. Homn will see to him. This is our time. Just you and me.”
Odo smiled and nodded before carrying their son out of the room to the nursery across the hall. Gently laying the baby down, he chuckled when he wiggled and stuck his thumb in his mouth with a sigh. Covering Chason with his blanket and tucking it around him, he pressed a kiss to his forehead and whispered, “Goodnight, Son. I love you.”
Lwaxana watched him from the doorway. She hadn’t been able to stay behind and miss watching Odo with their son. She knew that being around babies was something Odo hadn’t been familiar with, but he had been exceptional with Chason from the very beginning. It was as though he was made to be a father. And maybe he had been. Maybe her beloved had a higher purpose than his people had thought when they’d sent him out into the world.
Odo stood looking down at his wife as she studied him. “Wife,” he whispered to get her attention.
“Yes, Husband?” she answered as she looked up at him.
“Come,” he held out his hand.
Taking his outstretched hand, Lwaxana leaned against him as they walked back to their room. “You are amazing with him. Watching you, one would never know that you have never been around babies.”
“I still don’t know what I’m doing. It just sort of happens.” He shrugged his shoulders then stopped by their bed. “It’s sort of like loving you. It just sort of happened, too. It snuck up on me. The first time I’ve ever appreciated being snuck up on.” He winked at her when she laughed.
Untying her robe, she let it fall to the floor as she reached out to untie Odo’s. Pushing it off, she pressed her body close to his, humming her appreciation at the feel of his bare flesh against hers. “This is where I’ve wanted to be all night. It was very hard to control my thoughts. I think I may have shocked one or two of the guests a time or two during the night.”
Odo laughed and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I probably shocked a few of them a time or two, myself. I wanted you the moment I saw you appear at the steps. You’re beautiful always, but this evening, in the misty light of the setting sun…” he shook his head. “All those colors on your skin from the crystals in the mountains…you were ethereal. It was as if I was looking at an otherworldly being.”
“I’m not otherworldly, my love. I’m nothing more than a woman who is very much in love with the man holding her. Make love to me, Husband. Celebrate this day with me,” she whispered as she moved away from him, lying back on the bed with open arms.
Settling himself in the cradle of her body, Odo caressed the hair from her face as he leaned down, his mouth covering hers. Moving his hips, he slid into her waiting warmth, stilling when he could sink no further. His tongue teased hers, tasting the sweetness of the drink they’d shared earlier. She was intoxicating and addictive. Pulling back for air, he rested his forehead against hers. “I love you,” he breathed.
Caressing his face, she smiled up at him as she wrapped her legs around his thighs. “I love you,” she returned as she arched up against him. “Love me, Husband.”
“Slow and easy.”
Odo bit his lip and groaned, “Sweet mercy, Wife! You’re going to kill me!”
“Easy, Darling,” she whispered as she smiled at him. Her hand held a firm but gentle grip around him as she used an up and down motion to bring him back to life. They’d made love once already, but she craved the feel of him again, and so had begun her sweet torture.
“Your hands are as wicked as you body,” he panted out as he watched her.
Using her free hand, she caressed over his torso, teasing a hard nipple with her fingernail. “Wicked, Darling?” she asked, a gleam in her eyes.
“Yes,” he nodded. “wicked.”
“Oh…you haven’t seen wicked yet,” she warned.
“Wife,” he hissed when her mouth replaced her hand. Odo felt the rush through his entire body and bucked up off the bed in surprise.
Lwaxana pressed a hand against his stomach to keep him steady while her tongue traced the length of him following the path of the pulsing vein she had discovered responded to her touch. Concentrating on loving her husband in a way that she hadn’t done but once, she could feel everything he felt through their bond.
Odo moaned when he felt the cool air of their bedroom replace the heat of her mouth and opened his eyes in time to see her moving over him, settling her knees on either side of his body. “Amazing,” he whispered as he reached up to knead a full breast.
Arching her back, she pressed herself into his hand, sighing at the feel of his touch then whimpering when his fingers gently rolled the taut nipple between them. Biting her lip when his free hand moved between her thighs, she felt her body tremble with his touch. “Odo,” she puffed out, her muscles tensing with each stroke of his finger.
“Two can play the game, Darling,” he whispered as he leaned up, suckling a sensitized nipple into his mouth.
Gripping his shoulders, Lwaxana’s head fell back, a moan escaping as she let the sensations overwhelm her. Over and over again his fingers teased her until her body could take no more and the tight string of arousal snapped, her orgasm rocking through her making her quake in his arms.
Caressing her back, Odo kissed her damp forehead as he held her while she recovered her senses. “Are you alright?”
“Mmm, fine.” She shifted and sat up to look at him as she lifted her body to press down over him.
“Wife,” he moaned when she began to move, her arms around his neck balancing her. “So beautiful.”
“So wonderful,” she returned as she pushed him back against the pillows. Her body moved easily over his as she pressed her hands on the bed beside him. With each upward move, she used her inner muscles to give him more pleasure and smiled when he gripped her hips with a groan.
“Wicked,” he sent through their link, his body too concentrated on the sensations and trying to breathe to speak.
Lwaxana smiled and leaned over, her breasts brushing against his chest as she picked up the pace, her body moving faster and faster over him, until he cried out, his release felt through their link sending her into her own climax as she collapsed against him.
Odo blinked and stared at the dim light seeping through the windows. How long had they been asleep?
“Mmm, who knows, Darling.” Lwaxana murmured as she pressed a kiss to his chest.
Kissing his wife’s head, Odo caressed a hand down her back. “Well, judging from the light in the windows, it must have been a while. That’s the light from the last of the moons setting. It will be morning soon.”
Moving off his chest, Lwaxana snuggled into his side, her leg draped over his as she rested her head on his shoulder. “This wedding night was so much better than the other.”
“Yes, it was. We spent it together. The first one was spent alone.” He let his fingers comb through her hair. “Do you remember that day in my quarters when you fell asleep on my lap?”
“Yes. I remember you apologizing to me for the way you had been acting.”
“I didn’t know that you’d heard me. Of course now that I know how your mind works, I’m not surprised.” He smiled when she looked up at him. “Do you remember what you told me before you fell asleep? You told me that life is a search to find the peace you once had inside your mother. I told you that I didn’t have a mother and you informed me that I’d find my peace just the same.” Cupping her face, he stared into her dark eyes. “I’ve found my peace, Lwaxana.”
Tears filled her eyes as she reached up to cover his hand with hers. “I’ve found my peace, too. Loving you is my peace.”
“Just as it’s mine,” he whispered as his thumb wiped at a tear. “Sleep now, Wife. Tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of our lives.”