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i. in space

“Say something.” Lieutenant Dax’s eyes are earnest, to Nerys’ chagrin. The last thing she needs is for claustrophobia to strike now, of all places, in the middle of a faulty space station that really shouldn’t be having these kinds of glitches anymore. Her leg’s asleep. Her arm is sore from being stuck in the same bent position for an hour. She’s not in the mood to be stuck in a collapsed air duct with Lieutenant Dax, and she’s certainly not in the mood to talk a soldier down from an anxiety attack.

That doesn’t mean she won’t do it.

“Close your eyes,” says Nerys, as she follows her own advice. Anything to make time move quicker. “Think of something wide and open.” When the duct collapsed, they landed on their sides, front-to-front, and the ship’s scans hadn’t shown any major damage, but Nerys is pretty sure she’s sprained something. If Dax’s in pain, she doesn’t mention it.

“What? No, I was talking about the silence,” says Dax, and Nerys blinks at her. “You know, we hardly know each other, we’re stuck—”

“Exactly,” says Nerys, squirming just the tiniest bit. It doesn’t help. “We’re stuck in a crawl space, no one can move until they get us out, and you want to fill what little space we have with noise?” It’s so cramped that she has to struggle to look at Dax when she speaks. It’s more comfortable for both of them to look over each other’s shoulders.

“Do I have bad breath?” asks Dax, and Nerys squints at her. Why would that be a concern? “In case you were wondering, yours is great. And hey, it could be worse—at least we’re on our sides.”

Nerys closes her eyes again. Prophets, please let time move faster. Just this once.

“Tell me a story. I know nearly nothing about you, and here I am, running my mouth. Come on, it’ll make the time run faster.”

Prophets. “You don’t want to hear any of my stories.”

“That just makes me want to hear them more.” Nerys shakes her head. “Alright, but if you don’t start talking, I might have to start singing.”

“Don’t sing. That’s an order.”

Dax blinks and smiles. “I bet you have a lovely voice.” Nerys closes her eyes again. “Okay, if you don’t stop doing that, I’m going to think that the original scans were wrong and you’re passing out from lack of oxygen.”

That might have been preferable at this point. “O’Brien’s working as fast as he can. It won’t be much longer."

“I know time,” says Dax. “I want to know about you. We don’t have to talk about the war. We can talk about something else.”

“Prophets,” murmurs Nerys. She realizes too late that she’s said it out loud, and there’s the light in Dax’s eyes again. “What?”

“I hear Bajorans are religious. Tell me about that.”

“You don’t want to hear about my religion.”

“Sure, I do.”

“Are you religious?”

“No.”

“You’ve never been?”

“In the past, but it’s kind of like remembering a favorite color you had a child—you liked it then, it was pleasant, but it’s not something you like anymore. Do you think that’s wrong?”

Her candidness is both refreshing and discomforting. Nerys tries to shift, then remembers that she can’t. A new ache begins, this time in her back. She tries to shift her weight onto the metal behind her. “I believe in finding your own path. I’ve also only had the one lifetime. I can’t relate."

“I think that’s a wise statement, though,” says Dax. She shifts, frowning. “My knee itches.”

Nerys tries to move her own leg, but she’s pretty sure it’s nowhere near Dax’s and will probably make the itch worse. “Sorry.”

“No, just distract me. Ask me something else.”

“I don’t have to.”

“Oh, come on. I know you have questions. Everyone has questions. I have a worm in my stomach. It’s weird. Ask me whatever you’d like.”

Nerys sighs and stares at the metal behind Dax’s head. It can’t hurt. “Relationships. How does that work, with the rebirth and the different bodies and—” She stops as she forces herself to look at Dax’s face, which is much too close to her own.

Dax is smiling, though. “Yes, that’s a good question. Let’s see. Well, I have relationships, obviously. I’ve been in many—Trill and otherwise. Joined Trill can be with unjoined Trill—there’s no problem with that. It’s probably not a good idea to be with someone you were with as a previous host because so much has changed.”

Nerys tries to fathom a different body, a different self but the same, stacked personalities, and she can’t. She’s fought so hard for herself in the body she’s in to even begin to consider being anyone else. “So, if there are people from your previous lives alive—”

“It’s difficult,” says Dax. “It helps to get away, to be out in the middle of nowhere.”

“But Captain Sisko—”

Dax laughs. “The one person I’ve managed to follow out into the middle of nowhere. Yes, I imagine that some things are just inevitable. It’s not as terrible as it sounds. If love really is something as big and encompassing as we want to believe, it should be able to change forms—grow and change, just like a person does. It’s something that should be shared. What do you think?”

Nerys thinks for a while. “I —agree, I think. Love is part of the path that’s supposed to lead all of us, love in its most unselfish form. It is—hard to obtain, but it’s kind of like faith in that way. You trust it will lead you to yourself and others, and you have to be ready to let things go because of it, too.”

“Yes,” says Dax simply, and they remain in silence for a while.

Nerys suddenly finds herself wondering how much one can lose in so many lifetimes. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Dax leans in then to meet Nerys’ eyes, and there’s no blame there, just an openness the likes of which Nerys hasn’t experienced before. “The collapse wasn’t your fault.”

Dax’s face wrinkles up then, and Nerys wonders if she’s gone too far. “Um, no. Uh, do you think you could maybe scratch my nose? It itches, and my hands are stuck—”

Nerys laughs. Her free hand can’t quite reach, but she manages to get her head at an angle that rubs against Dax’s nose.

“Well, don’t look now, but I think we’re going to have to be friends.”

“I’m so sorry,” says Dax, and Nerys manages to work her shoulders into something like a shrug. She really doesn’t mind.

When Miles and Julian finally clear them from the wreckage about half an hour later (she does have a sprained ankle, but that’s nothing she hasn’t dealt with before), Nerys finds that she doesn’t think a lot of time has passed at all.


 

ii. in mind

Nerys is trying to sit up straight, but for some reason out of her control, she keeps leaning into Jadzia the tiniest bit. It’s late, they’re at Quark’s, and they started at the bar but have gravitated to a small table in the corner, which strikes Nerys as unusual—Jadzia loves being in the center of the action—not really for attention, though she gets plenty of that on her own. She just likes being in the middle of people. Nerys doesn’t mind a lot of people, though she’s never been one for the center of a crown. That’s just not a good position of advantage.

Nerys tries to wave off the next round, but Jadzia’s not having it.

“It’s late, and it’s not like we’re going to be getting any less drunk any time soon.”

“I can’t be out here like this,” laughs Nerys, as Jadzia waves the next round over.

Jadzia makes a show of looking around them. “Oh, yes. Being drunk in a room full of Klingons. Unseemliness is the problem here.” Jadzia laughs. “If anything, they’ll think your company more suitable."

“Because that’s exactly what I was going for—Klingon approval.” Jadzia blinks innocently. Nerys smiles and shakes her head. “Alright, but this has to be the last round.”

“I’m drunker than you are!”

“I didn’t say you had to stop drinking.” Jadzia waves her arm again. “What are you doing?”

“We’ve having a sleepover at my place. You, me, and the bloodwine we’re taking to go.”

“I don’t even like bloodwine that much.”

“It’s the principle of the thing. We can always take something else if you want.”

“Jadzia!” Nerys goes for indignation and ends up giggling, leaning just the tiniest bit against Jadzia.

Jadzia leans back against her. “Come on, help me up.” Still laughing, Nerys stands. She has to brace herself on the back of her chair, but she manages to pull Jadzia to her feet. “You should say my name more often. I like when you say it.”

Nerys links her arm through Jadzia’s. “Can you imagine if we’d left later?”

“Ah, but that never would have happened. You’re so responsible, my dear.” Nerys rolls her eyes.


 

“Truth or dare?”

Nerys is lying on Jadzia’s couch (only because Jadzia insisted on lying on the floor). She smirks. “What kind of dare are you going to give me to do? You can hardly move.”

“Truth, or dare?” Jadzia repeats.

“Dare,” says Nerys lazily, stretching.

“Come down here with me.”

“No.”

“S’dare. You have to do it.”

“I’ll fall on top of you.”

“I know. It’ll be like hugging, but sideways.”

Nerys laughs and tries, with as much grace as she can manage, to roll off the couch. She does alright—her knees hit the ground on either side of Jadzia (she slips just the tiniest bit, catching herself right above Jadzia’s chin, but Jadzia doesn’t seem to mind). “Happy?”

Jadzia smiles, and Nerys feels a wave of tranquility wash over her when she looks into Jadzia’s eyes, which pick up the ceiling light and look deep, beautifully deep and clear, like the wormhole that housed Nerys’ gods. It’s a thought she’s had before—Jadzia’s beautiful, inside and out, but tonight, she finds it especially striking.

It’s beautiful.

“Your turn,” says Jadzia.

Nerys settles herself on the floor besides Jadzia, giggling a little when they have to shimmy to fit both of them between the couch and the coffee table. “We should move.”

“Two of Starfleet’s finest? No way. This is much too dignified.”

“I’m not Starfleet.”

“You keep telling yourself that.” Jadzia buries her nose in Nerys’ shoulder, in a gesture that should have, for all intents and purposes, come off as friendly.

The revelation that it’s not hits her like a shot of clarity, a shot of clarity that quickly disappears when she hears herself speaking. “You like me.”

She knows she’s right, because Jadzia turns to her suddenly, doesn’t joke about it in the way Nerys would expect (“Enough to be living room floor drunk with you, Nerys? I should hope so.”). “I didn’t pick truth.”

“That’s right,” says Nerys, even though her mouth has gone dry. “You don’t have to answer.” It wasn’t even a question, really, but questions are less of her thing and more of Jadzia’s.

“I do, though. I do like you.”

There’s a silence, one that lasts so long that Nerys is wondering if Jadzia’s fallen asleep, if she’s fallen asleep, if this is all just a dream because everything she feels, Jadzia against her side, her own hazy perception, is cloud-light and radiant.

But Jadzia’s talking into her shoulder. “Does that make you angry?”

The question strikes Nerys as trepidation. She doesn’t know why, and she doesn’t know what to do with it, but she suddenly feels so much tenderness within her that she wraps Jadzia in her arms (albeit clumsily). “No,” whispers Nerys. “It just feels right.”

She tries to kiss Jadzia, then, but she can only get her lips to her forehead. It gets the sentiment across. “Bed, then?” asks Jadzia.

They make it as far as the couch before they fall asleep, but that just means that Nerys gets to wake up Jadzia by kissing her—for real, this time.


 

iii. in body

Understandably, it’s hard to get time to themselves. There are missions to lead, middle-of-the-night wake-up calls, and diplomacy sends them away for weeks at a time. It’s hard enough to take time off, harder still because it seems that days off seem to increase the chances of something strange happening. Sometimes, though (inevitably, Jadzia tells her, because coincidences do occur, given a large enough amount of data, but Jadzia’s an optimist), they get the rare day.

This morning, Nerys wakes up slowly to warmth and softness—the sheets around her, the blanket over her, the pillow under her, and Jadzia behind her. She moves, just the tiniest bit, stretches her leg.

“Don’t you dare leave,” murmurs Jadzia, warm in the nape of Nerys’ neck. “It’s our day off.”

Nerys feels the smile stretch across her face before she realizes she’s happy—no, blissful. She rolls her head back and sideways. It’s not enough to get where she wants to go, but Jadzia meets her halfway, kissing her neck, then her jaw.

“I haven’t brushed my teeth,” says Jadzia, and Nerys, eyes closed, can hear her, wry as ever, even half-conscious.

“I wasn’t under the impression that you liked having a clean mouth anyway.” She twists her neck further. She suddenly needs Jadzia’s mouth on hers. She remembers, suddenly, Jadzia’s mouth everywhere, and pushes back, impatient.

Jadzia brushes her lips over Nerys’. “Uncouth."

Nerys leans sideways just a bit more and—yes, there—kisses her. “I don’t care.” Jadzia slides her foot up Nerys’ calf, tangles their legs together, and Nerys turns around in her arms and runs her hands over her, shoulder to hip.

Jadzia lets out a sound that’s half-sigh, half-hum. “Uncouth. Wanton.”

Nerys laughs, a quiet, short sound. Pure joy. “And you wanted to sleep.”

Jadzia runs her hands through Nerys’ hair, pulls back enough to look at her. “No, you misunderstand.” She kisses her—mouth and cheek and neck. “I just want you here.”

“Then I’m here.” She can’t remember where Jadzia’s nightgown is—probably on the floor somewhere—but Nerys has never been comfortable sleeping nude (too much vulnerability, no protection in a middle-of-the-night attack). She pulls it off now (it’s ridden up over her hips anyway) and pulls Jadzia to her, hip to hip, arms around her and up her back, hands on her shoulders. She kisses her deeply, until they’re both gasping.

Jadzia kisses her nose, presses her forehead to hers, and it strikes her then—love’s lightness, it’s flexibility. It’s so profound that she can’t do anything but look back at Jadzia, her face, her lips. “I love you,” Jadzia says, and it’s all Nerys can do not to laugh with joy.

If she can’t express it, she can show it. “I love you, too,” she says, and it’s the last complete thought she has for a while.


 

iv. in spirit

There will be an adjustment period. Nerys knows that better than anyone, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it.

There’s extra responsibility, but those are all things she can do in her sleep. It’s the actual getting to sleep part, the time between getting off duty and resting, that’s hard. She feels everyone’s absence the most then, when she’s left alone with herself, the self that would not have existed had it not been for them.

So, she prays. Praying helps. It always has. She prays for the child she felt grow inside her and the family that loved him enough to take him and his sister away from this volatile place, to a place where he could live his childhood in peace, live the childhood that people of her generation and her people had never gotten to live. Her distance protects him now in the same way that their closeness protected him years ago.

She prays for her comrade, one who straddled the cultures of two peoples like her and had changed both, the one who, like her, had called Jadzia lover. He had never questioned her about her faith like the others, though she knew they did not believe the same. Their conviction, however, was something they shared, and perhaps that was why, when the subject had come up in a conversation that was not theirs, they’d looked across at the room at each other in Ops and never breached the subject again. It was her conviction that he understood, conviction that he shared, and perhaps he knew that part of her better than anyone.

She prays for the man she called both leader and savior of her people, a good-hearted man, a good-spirited man, stubborn like her, who equated “subordinates” to “family,” even when that meant leaving all of them. He’d left them to her with the smallest of goodbyes (though she and him had seldom needed words to be understood).

She prays for her dearest friend, one who’d walked the path alone to determining self from selfish and selfless, the cloud of golden who’d chosen to call himself man, who’d chosen to call himself hers. In the end (end is relative—her beliefs are something that words will never be able to express in cliché and pithy statements), he had chosen love, the same love that he saw in her, the same love that she’d always believed at his core, the same love that had taken him away but would ripple out change farther than any of them could fathom.

She prays for the list of people she has recited for years, ever since she was small. It’s a long list but a quick one, thought not in names but in a string of feelings, one she has trained herself to think through quickly in battle, in times of pain, during the times she was conscious enough to know that she was close to death and cried out for comfort, protection, strength, forgiveness.

She prays for the ones who are left, who have adjusted the idea of “home” to both place and family and have to adjust again—for Jake, for Julian, for Nog, for Quark—

She’s just a fraction of a second slower at processing the chirp of her doorbell, but she’s still on her feet before she opens her eyes. “Come in.”

It’s Ezri. Something inside Nerys aches where she used to feel sharp pain. She pushes it aside all the same. None of this has ever been Ezri’s fault.

“What’s up?” Nerys asks, her voice feeling strange to her ears (the sound of it always surprises her after a long time of prayer-talk in her head).

Ezri steps forward and the door closes behind her. “Um, I was walking, and I decided to drop by. No reason. It’s just that we were off-duty at the same time and—” She blinks, looks around Nerys’ room in that way that keeps reminding Nerys of a small animal out of its element. “I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.”

“Not at all. I was just—”

“—praying,” finishes Ezri, eyes on the lit candles at Nerys’ altar. “I’m sorry.”

Nerys smiles. “It’s not like the Prophets are going anywhere.” Ezri still looks skittish, so she continues. “Did you need something? Or you can stay. I don’t mind if you watch.”

Ezri meets her eyes, still nervous but steady. “Yes,” she whispers. “I know.”

Well, that stings unexpectedly, and she may be imagining the wince on Ezri’s face, but it looks like it stings her too.

To her surprise, Ezri crosses the room and sits down on the couch. “I can stay,” she says, a little more firmly than before.

“You’re sure,” says Nerys. It’s not a question.

“I really don’t know why I’m here,” says Ezri quietly, “but yes, I’m sure.”

“Can I get you anything?"

“No, I think just being here helps.”

She doesn’t ask what she’s helping. Ezri’s never been in her quarters before, not by herself, anyway. Nerys turns to the altar (she feels bad, turning her back like that, but she doesn’t think facing Ezri is going to help anything) and prays for Ezri—nothing in particular, just prays, for the young woman, for Dax, for all of the people contained by that one name.

She prays until she hears Ezri shift on the couch behind her.

“You miss her, don’t you?” Ezri says. It's a question but only in formality.

Nerys turns around, looks up at Ezri. She doesn’t need to ask who she’s talking about. She and Ezri are friends and hang out often. They haven’t spoken much of Jadzia, and Nerys has never brought up what they had before. Why torture Ezri more? Still, it’s hung between them in conversation, something carefully avoided. “Yes.” Her chest is heavy.

“I think I miss her too—I mean, I miss all of them. I mean, I’m me, and they’re them, and they’re—we’re—me. We. They’re here, but I can’t talk to them. I can’t ask them things. It gets all mixed up, but I know her, and I know that she’s not here now, and I miss that. I’m never alone, but—” It’s the most she’s ever said to Nerys, and she prompts her with a nod. The heaviness in her chest is growing, and she may even cry, but that’s somehow going to be better than sitting with all of it. “—but sometimes I wish they were physically here—like with me. It’s like I have all these friends that I can’t touch, and then they want to touch—” She shakes her head. “I’m saying this wrong.”

“You can talk about Jadzia,” says Nerys. She feels the tears forming, feels the ache fueling them, ache for all of them, all of whom hold her prayers (hold her heart, her love), ache for Jadzia that she can’t put into words, but her voice remains steady. “You have the right, more than anyone else."

“I just wish I understood. Her. You and her—me. You and me and her. Us.”

Nerys shakes her head. “Understand me?”

Ezri looks down at the floor, looks for the words. “I guess I do know why I came.” She sighs. “I’m just so tired.”

Nerys is suddenly weary herself. She looks at the woman before her and doesn’t see Jadzia. She’s trained herself not to look for Jadzia, to see only Ezri, but Ezri is the sum of her parts, trying to find herself, trying to find truth. She’s here now, asking for help, and Nerys doesn’t know what she can offer. Words have never been her strong suit, not with any of the Daxes.

Jadzia would tell Nerys to follow her heart.

She sends out a prayer, a single all-encompassing thought for help, stands, and stretches out her hand. “Me too. Come on.”

They don’t speak, which is probably for the best, since Nerys can’t articulate and Ezri overarticulates, and there was so much physicality between her and Jadzia anyway. This is different. This is an offering of intimacy, the purely platonic kind, but it’s still unusual. Nerys hands Ezri an extra nightgown, and they change in silence, Nerys keeping her eyes on the floor (she considers turning away, then realizes that Ezri already knows what she looks like).

Nerys lies down (please, let this be the right thing to do), considers, then rolls on her side. “You can be little spoon. I know it might not be what you're used to, but—"

Ezri laughs. “New for you, maybe.” She settles down on the bed and backs up against Nerys.

“We can switch if you want.”

“Not on your life.”

Nerys is struck by how small she is. She drapes an arm over her tentatively, and when Ezri pulls it more tightly around her and shivers, Nerys pulls the blanket over them (a clumsy initiative, but they make it work).

Ezri snuggles into Nerys and sighs. “We can still be friends, right?”

“Depends on whether or not you snore.” Ezri freezes in her arms. “I’m kidding.”

“I honestly don’t know if I do or not.”

“Julian hasn’t said anything?”

“No, but that could mean anything.” They laugh. “Is this weird?”

Nerys shrugs, and Ezri takes that opportunity to push back against her even more. “I’ve learned to stop asking that question. Does it help, though?” She’s hoping it does, because she aches (she always aches), but it’s better now. Shared, somehow.

None of that matters, though, if Ezri’s uncomfortable.

Ezri giggles. “You know, I have no idea why, but I think it does.”

“Same here,” murmurs Nerys.

“Can I ask you something?”

Nerys tries to answer and gets a mouthful of hair. She settles for nodding against the back of Ezri’s head, making a general sound of permission. “Do you ever pray for me?”

All the time. “Yes. Is that okay with you?” Ezri nods, and Nerys is glad, suddenly, that she can’t see her face. Nerys thinks about their family, spread out over galaxies, ever-present in her prayers. She falls asleep holding Ezri (to be fair, Ezri falls asleep before she does) feeling peace for the first time in months.


 

Nerys wakes up to an empty bed. When she walks into the living room, she finds Ezri sitting in front of her altar, cross-legged, palms open in front of her, and Nerys is so struck that she forgets to move quietly across the room to her. She sits down beside her.

“Am I doing it right?” asks Ezri.

“Do you feel like you’re doing it right?”

“I think so.”

“Then you’re doing it right.” Nerys closes her eyes, opens her thoughts. Today, though, she feels better. Less empty.

“I might try it out,” says Ezri. “If that’s okay with you.” If we’re okay. The sentiment lies right under the statement, close to the surface where Nerys can see it, reach for it if she likes.

“You’re always okay,” says Nerys, and her eyes are still closed, but Ezri reaches over to hold Nerys’ hand, and they pray like that, together, for the rest of the morning.


 

v. in soul

It’s not a regular occurrence. Maybe it will become that way, in time, but for now, Nerys comes to expect Ezri at her door a couple times a week. Usually, they pray, sit in silence, and then Ezri will leave. Sometimes, though, she stays, curled up against Nerys as they sleep.

Tonight, she stays, but Nerys lies on her back, looking up at the ceiling.

“Why me?” asks Nerys. She takes care not to look at Ezri. That might make this too hard to bear.

“I mean, it doesn’t have to be you,” Ezri says nervously. “I know everyone’s coming in for the zhian’tara, so I could ask any of them, but it’s a lot to ask of anyone. I just thought—you know, you two—us—her—you.” She takes a deep breath. “The relationship you shared with Jadzia was—unique. I think, if it’s you, it might be best because you knew each other on a level that other people didn’t.”

She’d be lying herself if she hadn’t thought about it. The idea of having Jadzia with her again—around her, inside her. It would be so much. It wouldn’t be enough. It might be painful.

It might be wonderful.

“I’ll do it,” says Nerys.

That night, they switch—Ezri holds her.

Nerys is familiar with the feeling of being a temporary zhian’tara host: pressure, at first, that eventually subsides into a feeling like she’s observing her own body, feeling it move and wanting it to move but not causing that herself. Lela was kind, always seeming to stop and asking permission before everything she did.

Nerys remembers liking it, liking Lela, and liking this part of Dax that she would otherwise not be able to understand.

“Are you alright?” asks Ezri. They’re ready to begin.

Nerys is confused by the question until she looks at her own hands and realizes they’re shaking. “Yes, of course. I’m just—”

“—nervous,” says Ezri. “Me too. I mean, all of this is nerve-wracking, but I’m most nervous about this one.”

That’s true, Nerys realizes. Ezri doesn’t have the fear for Torias that Jadzia had, and she’s not sure why. “She would have liked that,” says Nerys. “Grand finale.” She closes her eyes. “I’m ready.”

It is as she suspects—the pressure of a second presence in her mind, the ease as she drifts farther—and then Jadzia’s in her mind, in her body, and she stops thinking. Somewhere, in her periphery, she’s aware that Ezri has asked for a moment alone.

An image, a sensation, comes to mind. It’s a simple moment, standing at the replicator when Jadzia wraps her arms around her from behind, except she’s herself and Jadzia in the moment, the holding and the held, and there’s such a sense of peace inside of her suddenly, the first moment that a painkiller starts to take effect, when the ache is still very much present but only amplifies the feeling of relief. She’s aware that she’s wrapping her arms around herself.

Hello, Nerys.

This is just like you, isn’t it? Here I am, ready to play sagely advisor to Ezri, and you come and distract me.

It’s not words, not really. They understand each other. She’s not talking to herself, and she’s not necessarily thinking in words, but she can still understand Jadzia in the same way she did when she was alive, when she was talking next to her.

I miss you too. You’re so strong. I just wish I didn’t have to be one of the reasons you had to be.

She can feel Jadzia’s concern, concern for her and Ezri and everyone else at the station. She wants to answer all of it at once, and now, she can. She thinks, a burst of thoughts forward, much like the kind that she has when she prays—an encompassing thought of need and love, one that includes everyone she and Jadzia have known and loved.

She doesn’t hear the sigh, but she feels it and thinks it. I hope they’re being taken good care of, wherever they are. Oh, Benjamin. And Worf? I’m so sorry, Nerys. I’m so sorry for everything.

That doesn’t matter. What matters to Nerys is this one moment they have, this last moment to stay goodbye, and Nerys finds that it’s not the things she wants to say, just the thinks she wants Jadzia to know what she can feel. With the barrier of words gone, she just feels—she just feels.

Yes, I do imagine that this is what the Link would be like. I wouldn’t know—it’s not like I’m in an afterlife as far as I know. My life stops with Dax. This life, anyway.

She thinks of Odo, the Odo that Jadzia understood after he had merged with Curzon.

You’re doing well, Nerys, so well. You have to understand that’s why I blame you a little bit for Benjamin running off like he did. You know that he wouldn’t have done that if he’d known that all of us would be taken care of. What a softie.

Nerys thinks laughter but feels tears on her skin. She can feel herself falling, now, guided falling. Ezri is behind her, sitting her down on the floor. She feels a hand on her face and finds that Ezri’s closing her eyes.

Oh, I think I’ve been neglecting your blinking function. I apologize. Nerys thinks laughter again. She’s a good one, isn’t she? You two are close.

It’s true, they’re close—not in the same way Nerys was with Jadzia, but she’s probably Nerys’ closest friend on Deep Space Nine.

That’s good. She’ll need help. She’s doing amazingly under the circumstances. I’ll have to talk to her soon. I’m excited to meet her. We can talk about Trill stuff. Girl talk. You know.

Nerys understands. She’s braces herself for a goodbye, for the feeling that will be like sleep until Jadzia leaves her again and she wakes up to the same situation as before. Well, not the same, but same enough.

Thinking like that breaks my heart, you know. It’s kind of amazing that you can do that, because I am kind of dead.

She thinks her love this time, her love for Jadzia, sends it out into her body and into the ether and if there is another Jadzia out there—the Jadzia that was apart from Dax (and there had to be at least a bit of her that was apart, the part in her body that died), the Jadzia that may or may not be at Stovokor, or whatever afterlife she’s managed to make her way to (afterlife for Nerys is less a place and more a state of being, a state of perfect love and compassion)—she sends her love out to that one too.

She’s familiar with this tone, this feeling, because the same deep ache she feels from Jadzia is the one that she’s become accustomed to feeling constantly.

We can stay like this a little longer. Ezri—understands. She really is a lovely person. My Nerys, with such a capacity for love, I do love you.

The ease into the sleep is gradual, and when Nerys comes back to, sitting sprawled on the windowsill of the room, Ezri’s looking at her nervously. Nerys moves over, and Ezri sits beside her. They shift until they can’t see the room anymore, just space, blackness speckled with light before them.

“I think I understand her—you—us more now,” says Ezri. “Are you alright?”

Surprisingly, Nerys finds that she is. She nods. “You?”

Ezri nods and reaches for Nerys’ hand with both of hers. Slowly, and turns it palm up. Nerys follows with her other hand, and Ezri rests her head on Nerys’ shoulder.

They sit like that, open, staring out together at space together, for a long time.