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Jadzia woke up slowly, but not gradually.

First, she was aware of pain, a low ache she associated with surgery. For a time, that was all she could feel. Then, abruptly, there were textures: coarse hospital clothes and sheets, a somewhat smoother pillow under her head, artificially cold air being blown against her face. It smelled antiseptic, like lemon and bleach and trying too hard to be clean. As she shifted her face out of the direct aim of the air-conditioner, she began to hear sounds: hospital equipment beeping, footsteps a room or two away, the quiet rustle of cloth shifting against plastic as someone sitting nearby resettled in their chair.

Jadzia turned her head toward the sound and opened her eyes, but it took them what felt like hours to focus. By that time, the person sitting there had realized she was awake, and was waiting for her reaction.

It was the psychologist Julian's clinic had hired, wearing patient's clothes herself. Dr. Tigan, was it?

No, Jadzia realized, putting a hand to her stomach and remembering why that low ache was there. No, it would be Dr. Dax now, wouldn't it?

"Hello, Jadzia," her symbiont's new host said gently. "How are you feeling?"

Jadzia said the first thing that came to mind. "Empty. And a little lost." She laid back on the bed and wondered, "Is that how it felt for the others, when you left?"

"Maybe," Dax considered. "Well, probably not Torias." She flushed, stumbling over her words. "Oh gosh, that was so tactless, I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me!"

"Probably Curzon; he was never one to talk around a subject. The werewolves liked that about him."

"They liked that about you too," Dax said thoughtfully. "It's still a little hard for me to tell the influences of my previous hosts apart." She started humming absently, a tune Jadzia half-remembered as being one of Joran's. The memory of a memory still exists, it seemed, but it was vague, unclear. Like copying a copy of a video tape, which lost more of its clarity with each step away from the original. Still, Jadzia thought it was comforting in its way to know she wouldn't be losing everything. Some of the surety that came with three hundred years of life was gone, but more remained than she'd feared.

And anyway, she thought, hand pressed to her stomach for a different reason now, it would be worth it.

"Oh! That reminds me," Dax said abruptly. "Why I came to see you! Not that I wouldn't want to visit you anyway, since we're related now, sort of, but what I actually came here to do was inform you that Martok has offered to sire you, if you'd like."

Jadzia sat up too fast; her head was spinning. "What?"

"Supposedly it will make having the baby easier," Dax explained. "I don't know if that's just an old wives' tale among werewolves, but since the baby will be a werewolf it's possible you could be injured by the pregnancy as a human."

"I... don't know what to say." Running with werewolves was one thing - something both she and Curzon had loved to do - but Jadzia didn't know if she wanted to be one. She liked cheating leprechauns out of their gold too, but you didn't see her going to one of the fae courts to ask to be made one of them.

But did she want to go back to being just human?

"You don't have to decide right now," Dax told her hurriedly. "According to Ju - to Dr. Bashir, you can safely be sired any time in the first two trimesters without putting your child at risk. You have months to think about it. And..." She bit her lip, hesitating. "And if you need to talk to someone, I'm available. O-or I can direct you to another psychologist in the know, if talking to me would be too strange!"

"Thanks," Jadzia said, for lack of anything else to say. "I'll... definitely think about it."

"Great!" Dax picked up a clipboard and fussed with it for a minute, before asking, "And... if it's not too much trouble, could I talk to you about some of our mutual memories at some point?"

Jadzia wasn't too sure how comfortable she would be with that. Revisiting memories that she didn't quite have anymore, helping a new host incorporate what was best about herself and discard the worst... her heart hurt at the thought.

"I know it would be hard for you, but... I wasn't prepared for this," she admitted softly, "and I could really use your help."

Jadzia considered the woman before her - practically a girl still. So young, and suddenly made unsure of herself all over again. Had she known what she was getting into, accepting Dax? Had she known it would change her, expand her, or had she only known that three strangers - Jadzia, Dax, and the baby - needed her to do this?

Had Jadzia been lost like this at first? She couldn't remember.

Jadzia felt suddenly, sharply sorry for this woman, who on a day that should be joyous and celebrated was hesitant and apologizing at every turn. "What's your name?"

Dax blinked. "My name? Ezri Tiga - uh, I mean, Ezri Dax." She flushed, embarrassed, and ducked her head. "I'm still getting used to that."

"It's nice to meet you, Ezri Dax," Jadzia said warmly, smiling. "And, if no one's said it to you already, Happy Joining Day."

"I - thank you!" A smile lit up Ezri's face, and Jadzia knew she was doing the right thing.