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I am too small to be Dax.

What does that even mean, kid? So you’re small. So what? Let’s go get a beer before this gets maudlin.

Torias, dear, Erzi doesn’t drink beer, remember? Let her think.

I am slight, a slip of a thing, not strong or well-muscled, not long and lean and beautiful, like a gymnast or a dancer. And I was both of them before, I remember being both of them, so how am I not those things anymore? The memories come to the surface, and I try to use my limbs to execute the exercise or spin the pirouette in the body I’m now stuck in, and it fails. And I get frustrated, so angry with myself, even though I know that the puppet master pulling my limbs with hidden strings is you, is Dax, not me, and it’s not my fault that I should have tucked instead of rolled and we ended up hurt. 

It’s Dax’s fault.

Isn’t it? Or is it Emony’s?

Well you can’t blame me for skipping your workouts, I want you to go! Your upper body strength is an embarrassment.

 It is Jadzia’s fault we ended up back on DS9, that’s for sure. We can definitely blame her for accepting Ben’s offer. Another string-puller in my head, telling me to say yes, Ezri, say yes. Tell Ben we’ll stay. We love DS9, we love our job as science officer, so many discoveries to make, so many things to see and do and we can’t do any of them from a lab on Trill, oh no we can’t. We love Quark’s, and late-night tongo and bloodwine and craic, don’t we? Don’t we love the excitement and the noise in this disorganized and dangerous conglomeration of alien races all pressed together, wanting to shoot each other, or help each other, or screw each other, and we, oh, we even love the smell of this place, don’t we? Don’t we just love DS9?

Curzon, Jadzia and Torias do. This place makes me so nervous, I want to bite my nails until our fingers bleed.

I don’t know what we were thinking, listening to Jadzia. I know what you were feeling. Or, wait, what we, Dax, were feeling. We were feeling Ben. Worf. Home. That’s what we were feeling when we told Ben we would stay on this dark and twisted spider of his, this old hulk floating back-up like a dead thing in the middle of a war zone. And we remember, we recall so much of the last six years, like it actually happened to us. Like that time when we were stolen by a mad-man, or when we defied our people for our heart, nearly exiling ourselves from both. We fulfilled blood-oaths, and dated Captain Boday with his transparent skull, and we danced and we laughed and we shot a Jem’Hadar at point-blank and watched my phaser burn a hole right through the sucker, and we married, oh we married a Klingon for crying out loud! Why did we marry (I, Ezri, I, not we, focus!) a Klingon! I hate ritual! Why did I ever marry Worf?

I didn’t, though, did I? That was Jadzia, too. And Dax. It’s always Dax who really pulls the strings.

There are no strings, Ezri. You are Dax. You are the puppeteer. You make the rules, not these others. All those years I faced down my opponents in the Legislature, all that confidence I gained, is yours now. Take it. Use it. Own yourself!

But how can I? So small I am against so much. How can I control these memories, all this knowledge, it’s incredible! Like being hardwired into the Computer itself. A law maker, a statesman, a test pilot. A backward mathematical genius who couldn’t match his socks to save his life, but who could solve Sarvok’s seventh equation in under ten minutes. I still remember the answer. What are we doing in this mousy, child-woman’s body? We were a rock star-athlete queen who had so many, many admirers, and oh, how they all loved us, but they’re gone now. Gone. We miss the applause…We were a beautiful and brilliant young woman in her prime, a warrior and a scientist and a red, beating heart, who met her end as victim? It’s not fair what happened to me, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. I was supposed to die old and gray in my bed surrounded by my part-Klingon grandbabies, and oh why, oh why is Dukat trying to kill me I don’t understand. Stop! No, please, put me down, you’re hurting me it hurts, it hurts, don’t, oh no, oh pl-

Please, Jadzia, enough. Don’t take us there, dear. We are all afraid of the pagh-wraith.

The music plays when I remember the pagh-wraith. His red eyes. I can hear it, on edge of my thoughts.  

Don’t listen to that music, girl. You can’t dance the steps to that dark waltz, you’re not ready. Take some advice from an old man, and drown that bastard’s song out. Think about something else, something that will wash him away, and send him up the river where he belongs. Think about our friends, girl, about those we care for. There is no love in that devil’s music. Change his key for him, dove.

Ben. And Jake. Not just our friends, our family. And we remember our lost Jennifer. She was so beautiful, inside and out, always a place in her home for us. We loved her like a daughter, so patient with a drunken old blowhard taking up her husband’s time. Now we have Cassidy, too, and ain’t she a spitfire, so different from Jennifer, but still a good match for our Ben. It is good to see him in love again.

But what about Kira? She can still go the temple where I died, where I had to face that demon wearing Dukat’s face, and Dukat’s face was bad enough. How can Kira even go in there, after what happened? How can she go to the place where I was murdered, and send loving prayer up to her gods, like it didn’t happen, like those Prophets of hers weren’t partially responsible for what happened to me? How can she just ignore the bloodstains on those walls?

Shut-up, Emony. You’re such a pain in the ass. It’s always been all about you, and that’s saying something, coming from a cocky cock-pit jockey like me. For the love of the Goddess, let Jadzia help the kid, she actually lived here!

Kira loves us, Ezri, we know she does, and we love her, too. We found so much in common with her. Strength. Intelligence. The will to fight, the will to win. She was our equal, our sister, our next-best friend. She accepted us wearing a different face as easily as Ben did. Maybe that’s because she’s learned to love someone who has no face of his own, that she knows now it doesn’t matter. And that’s our influence on her, isn’t it? Didn’t we help her see past her Bajoran nose and her terrible past, and wasn’t she there for us in turn, always loyal, at our backs, with a rescue squad, or bottle of booze, or a hug? And she’s still here, when we need her most. We are lucky she is our friend.

Very lucky. Kira Nerys is a fine woman…But, oh the ass on that one. I would’ve sold every Federation secret I had to get a handful of that.

God’s balls, old man, you are not kidding. Though it’s that saucy mouth that does it for me. It’s hard to say which one of us has it for her worse- you, me, or Lela.

Enough, you two! We will have order. Ezri is confused enough as it is. And for the record, some of those feelings aren’t even ours. They were transferred to us through the shape-shifter, thanks to Curzon and that foolish stunt of his. Now, let Jadzia have the floor.

Odo. Steady, stalwart Odo. Beautiful and unique and kind, though he tries his best to hide it Odo. Our friend the constable, who found you wandering the habitat ring last week, lost, because you had yet another moment where you lost yourself, and couldn’t remember if you should go to Worf’s quarters or your quarters or Ops or what, and ended up somewhere in between, confused and out of it. When Odo found you, and asked if you were alright, it woke you up, because you realized that no, you were not alright, not at all. You had been wandering blindly for over half an hour, going nowhere, and it scared you, oh it scared you so much that you had lost that much time, and you were so embarrassed and so frightened at the state you were in, and you couldn’t help it, you burst into tears, and hid your face in Odo’s chest, and sobbed. Sobbed and sobbed. And Odo, our Odo. He put one arm around you, not saying a word, silent and solid as the rock you needed him to be, and let you have your cry. Then he walked you to your quarters. And not once did he judge you for losing your mind.

And there are the O’Briens. Miles with his easy manners and his way with a microspanner, and Keiko with her soft mother’s touch blessing everything she does. Audrid likes Keiko. Keiko likes you. And from the O’Briens, you can accept the pity in their eyes when they see you flounder with your identity, because you know they mean it. You know they will help you, and take your hand to keep you from falling.

They are good parents. I would know.

And Julian. Sweet, dear Julian, with his doctor’s competence that never fits with his boyish charm. He never knows quite what to do with himself. Emony and Jadzia never took him seriously, but you could, couldn’t you? He’s more your speed than Jadzia’s. You could let him get to know you. You already like the things his eyes tell you about him. And you can go carefully, you can take your time, and maybe. Just maybe…

And then there’s our favorite Ferengi bartender. He doesn’t care who you are, as long as you have the latinum for your bar tab. You know he feels responsible for you, in memory of Jadzia. He will be there for you, too. Everyone is welcome at Quark’s.

These are not my friends! They are your friends. I don’t know these people. They don’t know me, and I feel like we’re all forced here, like we’re trailing on the tails of the dead trying to make a life, and I can’t stand feeling like this, like I’m half out of my own skin, and half in someone else’s, and that all the faces I love are alien to me, strangers with familiar mouths. We should have gone back to Trill, I can’t do this. Maybe I have no right, no right at all to call myself Dax! Maybe we should go home, and have you removed, and give you to a better host. You weren’t supposed to be with me anyway, it was an accident. I can’t do this, you were all so big, and I am so small.

You are small, Ezri. We were small, too. Itty-bitty little bits of bonded matter, skittering, pitter-patting about, constantly in a state of atomic decay, sending even more particles scattering about, all taking up our tiny corner of the universe…You have no weight in space, Ezri…You can't be quantified against the cosmos, even if you do the math, and I’ve tried, even I couldn’t get the answer, but…But you can’t give up on finding it. If I didn’t give up being Dax, you can’t. With Dax, finally, I was not alone. You are not alone. You are Dax.

I am. I am small. I am Ezri. Ezri Tigan.

No, my sweet girl. My host. You are Ezri Dax.