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In Due Season

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In the end—what the human Sarah sees as the end—it is so very easy to relinquish the human shell that has contained her for two years. She sighs in relief as she slips the tightest of the shackles of linear time that have bound her, however imperfectly. Sarah, the human, is also freed, and looks about herself in confusion.

“You sometimes seem so far away,” Joseph—Sarah’s husband—says. “What are you thinking of?”

They are sitting curled up together on a sofa, with jazz playing softly in the background and Joseph’s hand on Sarah’s stomach where the Emissary is growing. They are also sitting together in Jackson’s Square, and in bed the night the Emissary is conceived, and eating the last meal they will ever share. “Nothing,” Sarah says. “How beautiful the Square was when we met,” she says, smiling with Sarah’s face as Sarah falls back into a half-dreaming state.

“Beautiful?” Joseph says, his deep voice sending vibrations through Sarah’s body. “A weather satellite had malfunctioned. It was pouring, and everyone was crowded under those awnings waiting for it to pass.”

“And, suddenly, I saw you there,” she sings along with the music. “And in rainy New Orleans, the sun was shining everywhere.”

Joseph laughs and kisses her and the kisses turn into more. She allows Sarah to wake and take as much control as she ever has, though she knows she must guard Sarah’s thoughts and perceptions carefully. If she could manage the body and its instincts and reactions in a situation this complex without waking Sarah, she would; it seems only fair that at least one of the two trapped in this flesh should find what freedom she can. But this body is more bound to time than she can ever be, even in her bondage. The interface is imperfect.

“It seems as if I’ve known you forever,” Joseph says as they walk down Bourbon Street. “But it’s only been two months!”

“I know just what you mean,” she says. “It’s like we’ve got this bond that won’t ever go away. I’ve never felt like this before.” Of course she has. She has always felt it, and this tie to a mortal (however ephemeral) has always set her apart from her own kind and marked her for this. She would rather be as one with her people in the unity of time and space that is their home, but that which separates her will also allow her to escape when the Pah Wraith come. “I’m so glad I found you. I wish things could be like this forever.”

“I feel the same way,” Joseph says. He pauses, and smiles. “Say, do you want to get married? We can get a ring today, and stop by the registrar’s office tomorrow.”

“Yes,” she says. “Let’s do that.”

Joseph laughs, and swings her around. He kisses her. “This is the best day of my life. Sometimes I wish time could just stand still,” he says.

Sometimes she wishes Benjamin would stay still. Or, at least, quiet. She stays at home with the Emissary for the first six months after his birth, feeding him little bits of her essence along with Sarah’s milk so that when this linear creature first encounters what he will see as a wormhole, he will have enough of the atemporal in his mind and soul to communicate with her people. Joseph laughs a great deal, and sings to Benjamin, and does the cleaning and the cooking.

She likes the time before Benjamin is born and the time after Sarah goes back to work better than the time when she is home with Benjamin and Joseph. At work, she need pay little attention to linear time; Sarah knows her job, and there is no need for her to interfere. With Benjamin and his father, she must always be in control and must therefore experience time as linearly as a human. It is easiest with Benjamin alone; babies know little of time. But Joseph spends much time with her, and although he laughs at Sarah’s absent-mindedness, he would grow concerned if it came too often.

“You took over her body, made sure she married my father so that she’d give birth to me.” The Emissary is upset, angry. He says things he already knows as if they are questions.

She does the same. “The Sisko is necessary.” He is enough like her that she can speak with him, and so can others of her people. She understands linearity the best. She lived it, after all. Benjamin Sisko is linear enough that he can act in the linear world. He is offended. He is angry on Sarah’s behalf. He is offended at the idea of destiny, that his choices are not his own.

“And once you didn't need her anymore, you left her. No wonder she walked out on my father. She didn't choose him, you did.”

She does not choose Joseph Sisko any more than Sarah does. If she could have chosen, she would have chosen a Vulcan. They understand that what is, is. “The Sisko would prefer different answers.” They are the only answers possible. She causes him to be born. She will not deceive him beyond what is necessary.

“What you're telling me isn't easy to accept. You arranged my birth. I exist because of you?” How self-centered. He is necessary, but he is only one of those who are necessary, who are involved in this web of actions. Many bear harder consequences. But he chooses not to understand. She wonders if that is the way of all human children.

“The Sisko's path is a difficult one.” It would be easier if he would listen to her advice. Then again, if he would, he would not be the one they need. Still, she takes no pleasure in his struggles.

“But why me? Why did it have to be me?”

“Because it could be no one else.” She wishes she could give him an answer that would satisfy him. He is far easier to soothe when he is an infant at Sarah’s breast, and understands more clearly when he is loosed from his linearity. But it is in neither time that she speaks to him now.

When she begins, (if there is a beginning) she starts small. It is not a choice; choices require the possibility of different options. But she is a being who sees all of time at once; what she has done and what she is doing and what she will do. She sees more than that, in fact; all of the things she might have done and is not doing now and will never do show themselves in her perception with almost equal clarity. Out of all the possibilities, very few lead to the outcome her people require. She follows them because she must. Because she already has. Because she has seen and spoken with Benjamin Sisko, has seen him grow old and die and be born.

Others arrange for Sarah to receive a job offer in New Orleans, and Sarah takes it. Sarah is not yet aware that she is not alone in her skin. Sarah likes old things, and most of the old things in New Orleans have been destroyed by one hurricane or another. It takes little effort to suggest Jackson Square as the place to take her lunch break.