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Ben burst into Jadzia's office, looking harried. He handed her a sheaf of paper. "What do you think of this proposal?"

She didn't even get halfway through the first page before she was giving it back, waving a hand dismissively. "Way too direct. There's no way Minister Winn will go for it, and if she doesn't then none of her followers will. And if they don't go for it - "

"Then there's no way it'll get a majority vote in November, I know." Ben sighed.

"You wouldn't even get a plurality, Benjamin," she scolded. When she saw how miserable Ben looked, she added, voice gentling, "I know you can do better than this. What's going on?"

He sat down heavily. "It's just... between the Leviathan, Dukat's vampires, and those cryptic angels, I barely have time to think about policy reform, let alone write a properly worded proposal. I can't even manage to spare an hour for a meal with Jake once a week. I'm missing out on my son's life!"

"Now Benjamin, I'm sure it's not that bad," Jadzia consoled him. "I've been pretty swamped myself, taking care of most everything that doesn't require your signature, but Worf and I still manage to spend time together."

Ben shook his head and sighed. He appreciated how much she lightened the load of his official duties so he could deal with the countless unofficial duties of being mayor of this town, but it was different for her. Worf was her husband, of course he'd make time for her. Jake was a teenaged boy; Ben was lucky if five times out of ten his son was actually in the house when he got there. "Did you know he'd gotten an offer for his books?"

Jadzia's eyes lit up; she hadn't always been a fan of the Morning Stars series, but Jake's success wasn't something to turn her nose up at. "Really?"

"Yeah. Two weeks ago. I only found out last night." Ben smiled weakly. "The acceptance letter said the way the series humanized monsters was "compelling." Something the market apparently doesn't have much of these days."

Jadzia grinned. "Compelling, huh? That's a nice way to put it."

"Better than the rejection letter that said the monsters were derivative, the treatment of religion trite, and that the books would only sell if the main characters were white." They shared a grimace, recalling the not-so-long-ago disaster that had been. A few of Jake's friends had made the story go viral, and he'd been issued a public apology, but the memory still rankled.

"Anyway, I'm glad those visions of his are good for something," Jadzia said, standing up. She wobbled on her feet and Ben rose to steady her, but she waved him off. "I'm fine," she insisted. "It's just a dizzy spell, I've been having them off and on the last few days."

"How off and on?" Ben asked, his hand going to her wrist. "Because I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure your pulse shouldn't be this low."

"Benjamin," she protested, but when he let go Jadzia only managed two steps before she needed to grab on to a countertop to stay upright. "On second thought," she said, knees buckling, "Maybe I should make an appointment to see Julian."

"You're seeing him today, old man," Ben said, leading her back to her chair. He grabbed her desk phone and started dialing. "Within the hour, if I get my way."


Luckily for the both of them, the clinic had been having a rather quiet day, and Dr. Bashir could see Jadzia immediately. Ben called Worf, Jake, and a couple of the mayoral support staff to let them know what was going on, and then with nothing left he could do began to pace anxiously. Both of them arrived before Ben had heard any news, and it was another twenty minutes before Dr. Bashir called Ben and Worf back to the exam room.

Worf went to Jadzia's side the moment the doctor let them through the door. Ben hung back, to give them an attempt at privacy. Bashir stood at his side, and they watched with mild discomfort as Worf whispered quiet things not meant to be heard by others, a gentle, fearful look in his eyes.

Jadzia looked alright, in Ben's inexpert opinion - a bit nervous, maybe, or stressed, but not truly ill. The lines of her face seemed tighter somehow, and gave her an appearance of worry that just wasn't like her. If any one word least described Jadzia Dax, it was anxious. She was always cool, calm, and collected, and if she didn't always feel that way at least she looked the part. It was reassuring to have her at his back, knowing that if he ever fell apart she'd be able to take over without breaking a sweat, and then fix him up good as new the second she got a chance.

This worried Dax was the opposite of reassuring.

"Well, doctor," Ben said at last, when he felt Worf and Jadzia had had enough time alone. "What is your diagnosis?"

Bashir startled and cleared his throat. "Ah, yes, well, not to break out the worst medical clichés, but there's good news and bad news."

"The good news?" Worf asked, not looking away from his wife.

She squeezed his hand and smiled shakily. With a wavering voice, she said, "I'm pregnant!"

Worf's mouth fell open before pulling into a wide grin. He pressed a kiss to the back of Jadzia's hand, reverent. Ben, for his part, wanted to hoot and holler, but something about the worry still present on Jadzia's face made him hold back. "And the bad news?"

Bashir did his best to look impassive. "It's killing her."

Worf shot to his feet. "What?"

"It's a side effect of being joined to Dax," Jadzia explained. "I hadn't realized before, but... while I have the symbiont, I can't carry the child of a non-human. Not unless the father has a symbiont too."

Worf sat down, slowly, his face blank.

Jadzia leaned towards him, concerned. "Worf?"

"This is my fault."

"No!" Jadzia glanced at Bashir, then relented, saying, "Well, yes, technically, if you weren't a werewolf - "

"I have been a werewolf since birth!" Worf snapped. When he realized Jadzia hadn't meant it as an insult, his posture relaxed somewhat, and he said softly, "You must understand, Jadzia. This is not something I would change about myself, even if I could. Even if it means that... we cannot have a child together."

"I know," Jadzia said, equally gently. "And I wouldn't give up the experience of being joined for the world. Sharing three hundred years worth of memories with Dax's seven previous hosts has been amazing."

"...'has been'?"

Bashir interrupted here. "Jadzia outright rejected the idea of terminating the pregnancy."

"I want to meet our baby, Worf," she said quietly, reaching out to him. He took her hand, carefully. "Dax may have experienced that before, but Jadzia hasn't. And I want to, more than anything."

"So the only alternative, then," Bashir explained, "is to remove the source of the problem. Dax," he said when Ben and Worf didn't seem to grasp his meaning. "If the child is to survive, Dax must leave Jadzia."

"Is that even possible?" Ben wondered.

Jadzia snorted a laugh. "The Tok'ra comparison isn't a perfect metaphor, Benjamin," she said. "We can survive a separation. Most people just wouldn't want to, after being joined."

"And you would do this, for our child." Worf's voice was full of disbelief, approaching incomprehension. "That is a terrible sacrifice, Jadzia."

"And I promise you, it'll be worth it," she insisted, squeezing his hand. Worf returned the gesture, and they ducked their heads to hold a whispered conversation not meant for others' ears. Ben looked away.

"The real problem," Bashir confided in him, "is finding another host for Dax. It can't stay outside an adult human body for long, but it has to be fully human. The symbiont can't survive in any other living conditions."

"Which is why it can't survive carrying a non-human's child," Ben realized.

"Precisely."

"There must be someone in town who would be willing to take on the memories and experiences of eight other people," Ben said. "The way Jadzia talks about it, it sounds like an incredible experience."

"It's not that no one's willing," Bashir said. "It's that no one who's willing has met the requirements."

Ben stared at him blankly for a long, long moment. "Doctor," he said slowly, "are you saying that there isn't one person in this whole damn town willing to take on Dax who isn't in some way not human?"

Bashir shrugged. "That seems to be the case, Mr. Mayor."

"Now that's just - " Ben was cut off by a knock at the door. A small, dark-haired woman stood there, looking at them uncertainly.

"Sorry to interrupt," she said, "but I thought I heard shouting, and I wanted to see if I could help." She paused, then began again, slightly terrified. "N-not that I was assuming that anyone who shouts needs professional help, it's just that this is my first day, and I don't really have anything to do until Dr. Bashir finishes with his patient and can show me around... and that's you!" she realized suddenly, pointing at them. "You're Dr. Bashir! And his patient! I'm so, so sorry for intruding, I didn't mean anything by it, I just - "

" - wanted to help, yes, I see that," Bashir said, not unkindly. He exchanged a look with Ben, just as an idea popped up in his head. He nodded encouragingly, and Bashir continued, "You're Dr. Tigan, right? The clinic's new psychologist?"

"Well, I'm not really officially a psychologist yet," she admitted. "Still waiting on my certification! They assure me that it's in the mail," she explained hurriedly, "but for the moment, until I receive it, I can't technically practice clinically. But yes, that's me! Ezri Tigan, hello!"

"Hello, Ezri. It's lovely to meet you." Bashir approached her, saying slowly, "This might seem like a strange question, but do you know if your family history has any... supernatural elements to it?"

Ezri blinked as suddenly the attention of the whole room fell on her. "I don't think so? I mean, my brothers are kind of involved with the Succubi Syndicate, but..."

"Oh, brothers are fine," Bashir reassured her, deftly leading her into the room. "It's only direct ancestry we're concerned with. Now," he said as he drew her to Jadzia's side, "why don't you let Jadzia tell you a bit about our problem today, and how you can help..."