Worf pressed the chime to Captain Sisko's office and waited for a reply.
"Come," his commander said.
Worf entered, coming to stand before the desk. "Sir," he said, "I would like to request a personal day on Stardate 50367. And the use of a runabout to travel to Bajor and back."
"I don't think that will be a problem, barring an emergency," Sisko said, sitting back in his chair. "Anything special happening?"
"It is … cultural," Worf said, shifting uncomfortably.
"Something Klingon, then," Sisko said. "Well, have fun. Was there anything else?"
"No, sir," Worf said, and left.
"So, Benjamin said you were taking a day to go to Bajor next week," Jadzia said, bringing two dishes from the replicator as he cleared the table. "He said it was something Klingon—I can't think of anything important coming up, have I forgotten something?" She sat down, sliding one of the dishes to his side.
Worf sat in his chair, wondering what to say. He was not ashamed; it was a noble heritage. It was merely difficult to explain. "It is the Day of Remembrance," he said at last.
"I'm not familiar with that one," Jadzia said. "What would that be, jaj vaD qaw?"
Worf stared at her, imagining what his mother would say. Father would probably laugh. "No," he said heavily, hoping that Jadzia would take the hint.
There was a short time of quiet, during which Worf tried to find words that would explain—without leading into the kind of uncomfortable, circular argument he had found himself in too often in his early life. But Jadzia merely gave him a look and changed the subject.
He hoped she did not see his sigh of relief.
As he walked toward the docking ring, Worf tried to settle his mind in an appropriate attitude. He didn't often practice these rituals and prayers that his parents had taught him, and they did not fit easily into his view of the world. But he had never been entirely able to forget them, either, and with age and experience had come an understanding that such plurality was nothing to be ashamed of. Lost in thought, Worf reached the runabout pad and keyed open the hatch. He stepped inside and blinked. Jadzia was sitting at the copilot's seat.
"Hey, Worf," she said. "I was thinking, it's been a while since I've been to Bajor, myself, so I asked Ben if I could have the day off as well. You don't mind if I tag along, do you?"
Worf tried to think of a way to refuse that would neither offend her nor give fuel to her curiosity. "Very well," he said stiffly. He walked over to the pilot's seat and stowed his bag.
Together they ran the preflight check and launched the runabout. Once they were free of the station, Worf entered the flight path and engaged the autopilot before pulling out his PADD to read.
Two thirds of the way to Bajor, he glanced at the replicator, then at Jadzia. She was looking at her console, but seemed to sense his attention. "You know," she said, "if you didn't want me around you could have just said it was private."
"I know that," Worf said. It wasn't private, just difficult to explain. And if their relationship went further, as he was beginning to hope it would, she would have to know.
"Just wanted to make sure," she said with a smile. "You don't usually fidget this much."
"I do not fidget!"
Jadzia smirked at him. "Of course not." She paused. "So, if it's not private, what are you reading?"
Worf hesitated, before passing the PADD over.
Jadzia took it and began to read. "'But You are the King, the Living and Enduring God. There is no set span to Your years and there is no end to the length of Your days. It is impossible to estimate the angelic chariots of Your glory and to elucidate Your Name's inscrutability. Your Name is worthy of You and You are worthy of Your Name, and You have included Your Name in our name.'" She frowned. "Worf, the Klingons killed their gods."
"We did," Worf said, remembering how horrified his mother had been when he had told her the story. His father had said that at least it meant the Lord had no competition, and at last his mother, the Human who learned to cook Rokeg blood pie, had sighed and told Worf not to let it give him any ideas. "This is not a Klingon god. I was raised by Sergey and Helena Rozhenko."
"Your Human parents, I know," Jadzia said, nodding. "This is a Human god, then? I thought Humans decided their gods were myths and superstition centuries ago."
"Most did," said Worf. "Those that didn't learned to keep their heads down, or moved to colonies. Or both."
"Like Gault, where you grew up?" Jadzia asked. She was curious, but not dismissive. It was nothing like the few times he'd tried to have this conversation with Humans.
"Yes," Worf said. "The settlement we lived in was mostly Jews, of varying kinds. My parents were Second Reformation."
"But not you?"
Worf looked away. "There are … rituals required for conversion. I refused them. I thought I could not be a Klingon, if I did." There had been many, on Gault, who had agreed with him: all, or nothing. It was part of the reason his parents had decided to move to Earth, with its much larger population of aliens. They had hoped it would make things easier for Worf. They'd been partially right; it had been easier for him to be Klingon. But much harder for them all to be Jewish. Nikolai would probably still have decided to reject his faith if they'd stayed, but there was no way of knowing. Sergey and Helena still grieved that both of their sons had turned away from Judaism, though they were careful not to pressure them. Now, a father himself, Worf understood them much better.
"Hey," Jadzia said gently, reminding him of her presence. "I get it. I understand about identity issues."
Worf would not have described it that way. And the "identity issues" of a joined Trill were much different than his. Still, he appreciated that she was trying to understand. "Thank you."
"So, tell me about this Day of Remembrance. What's it all about, and what should I be doing?"
"It is the first day of the year," Worf said. "It is also the first of the ten Days of Awe that lead up to the Day of Atonement." He remembered his mother explaining this to him as a boy. "It is a time to turn away from any wrongs done during the previous year, a time of judgment, but also a time to prepare for the New Year. It is customary to wish people 'a good and sweet year.'"
"A good and sweet year to you, too," Jadzia said. "I noticed earlier you kept glancing at the replicators."
Worf went to the replicator, returning with a tray just like the one his mother still used. "It is traditional to eat apples and honey to symbolize wishes for a sweet year to come," he said.
Jadzia took an apple slice and dipped it in the honey. "Mm, that's good," she said, eating it. Worf ate, as well. "But you don't like sweet food," she said, watching him.
"I do not like pain sticks, either," Worf said, "yet when it is traditional to use them, I do so." He paused, considering. "But if you ever meet my mother, please do not tell her I compared her traditional foods to Klingon pain sticks."
Jadzia laughed. "Sure thing."
When they reached Bajor, Worf landed the runabout in a wilderness area near a river, and gave Jadzia bread to put in her pockets.
It was a pleasant day for a walk, he noted; perhaps they would go hiking later. He noticed tracks and spoor, traces of animals large enough to be worth hunting. He had not been on a proper hunt in years; but today was not the time. Today, they had other business.
They reached the river soon. It was not a large river at this point, but it was more than enough for their purposes. At this point, the bank was very steep, almost a cliff, as the river cut through the valley. Worf remembered another river, and another steep bank, and jumping in with Nikolai on hot summer afternoons to play in the cool water. He wondered whether Alexander had ever had a friend like that to play with; he wondered whether Alexander was observing this rite somewhere today. He had never been a good father to his son, not as Sergei had been to him. And Kurn—the brother he had never understood. The brother Worf only thought about after Worf had destroyed his world by dishonoring the House of Mogh, after Kurn had struggled alone for months until he could no longer bear to live. If he had contacted Kurn and brought him to the station as soon as he had rejected Gowron, would things have been different? Would Worf still have at least one brother?
It was useless and foolish to dwell on the past. It could not be changed, and could only stop him from doing his duty in these difficult times. He could only hope that his parents' god would look after his brothers and son as he had failed to. He tossed his bread into the river. "Who is like You, God, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance. He does not remain angry forever because He desires kindness. He will return and He will be merciful to us, and He will conquer our iniquities, and He will cast off our sins into the depths of the seas. Give truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, like that you swore to our ancestors from long ago."
Beside him, Jadzia tossed her own bread into the water.
Worf watched the pieces float away and dissolve until they could no longer be seen.
On the journey back to the station, Worf sat in contemplation while Jadzia piloted the runabout.
"Thanks for sharing this with me," Jadzia said as they prepared for landing. "I sure hope it works," she said after they had touched down. "The prayers for a good and sweet year. With things heating up between us and the Dominion, we could use one."