Jadzia waited just long enough to see the airlock door close behind Lenara and turned on her heel, intent on getting back to her quarters as quickly possible. She was on shift later and she would need every bit of time until then to compose herself.
She had almost made it off the Promenade when she felt a light touch on her elbow. She whirled, glad of the chance to vent some of her feelings on whoever it was, and stopped dead, mouth hanging open.
Lenara was standing there, luggage in one hand, the other still lightly touching Jadzia’s elbow.
Jadzia blinked, assuming Lenara would be gone when she re-opened her eyes. Then again, the pressure of Lenara’s hand on her elbow felt pretty real too.
“You were right. I realised it as soon as the door shut behind me. If I were to go home now, I wouldn’t come back. It would be too much, too many people telling me what a mistake I was making and given enough time, I would believe them. But when I’m with you... it doesn’t feel like a mistake.”
Jadzia swallowed hard, hating herself for forcing the next words out of her mouth, not sure she could live with Lenara’s answer if it wasn’t the one she wanted. “Are you sure? I hate to ask, and you know I think it’s worth it, but…”
Instead of answering, Lenara leaned forward to close the distance between them, and kissed her. It was all the answer Jadzia wanted.
It turned out, however, to not quite be all the answer she needed. After the initial haze of delight passed (which, to be fair, took some time) the practicalities reasserted themselves.
“I can’t believe this station still uses currency-based economics! I’m going to need a new job? ...That I’ll do for money?” Lenara paced the length of Jadzia’s quarters.
Jadzia, sitting cross-legged on the bed, just nodded.
“And a place to live! Will that also cost money?”
“Well... You could just stay here? Starfleet takes care of all that for us, and there are a lot of allowances for...” Jadzia waved her hand vaguely “...significant others.” She looked around her clearly-not-big-enough-for-two-people quarters. “I obviously don’t mean here-here. I could probably put in a request for bigger quarters?”
Lenara stopped mid-step, almost stumbled.
“What, you think it might be taking things a little too fast?” Jadzia teased.
Lenara smiled wryly. “I suppose once you’ve agreed to defy your whole world and species and face exile together, moving in might just lose some of its significance as a relationship milestone.”
Jadzia’s answering smile was wide and amused. She crossed the room and wrapped her arms loosely around Lenara’s waist. “C’mon, what do you say? It’s not like the stakes aren’t pretty high already, and this way you won’t have to rent somewhere else on the station.”
Jadzia felt Lenara relax into the embrace, her smile widening to match Jadzia’s own. She nodded once, decisively. “Why not?”
“Good, that’s settled then. I’ll ask Benjamin about bigger quarters next time I see him.”
Jadzia leaned in, pulling Lenara into a kiss. Lenara responded enthusiastically, then abruptly pulled away.
“Wait, I still need a job.”
Jadzia rolled her eyes. “You don’t really, you know - Keiko, Chief O’Brien’s wife, lives on the station, and she works because she wants to, she’s covered by Starfleet because Miles is.”
She felt Lenara stiffen slightly in her arms. “Still, I think I’d feel better if I had an occupation of my own. If I’m staying in your quarters and being supported by you, I think I’d end up feeling like I was just on an extended holiday, rather than making a life here with you. Besides, I’d get bored.”
Jadzia rubbed Lenara’s back. “Hm, OK, I can see that. Well, what’s to stop you just continuing with your research? You were saying you had a lot of data to analyse, and I can help you with that. I’m sure Benjamin would be happy to let you use some of the facilities on the station, and there must be someone on Bajor interested in how to create artificial wormholes, given the religious connection.”
Lenara nodded again. “You’re right. You’re right. We’ll figure it out.”
Lenara walked into the, new, large enough for two people, but presently sadly unoccupied quarters she now shared with Jadzia. And sighed.
“Jadzia?” She called, not expecting, and not receiving, a response. She cast about for the inevitable note, and soon found one, letting her know Jadzia was at bat’leth practice with Worf, the station’s new strategic operations officer, wouldn’t be home till later, and Lenara should go ahead and eat without her if she was hungry. She kicked off her shoes. Last night it had been a late-running tongo tournament at Quark’s, the night before that, it had been the holosuite with Major Kira, and the night before that, it had been dinner with Captain Sisko and his son. The fact that Jadzia worked varying shifts whereas Lenara’s work pattern remained stable only compounded the issue.
With another sigh, Lenara ordered dinner for one from the replimat and wondered glumly exactly how late ‘later’ was.
A few hours later, she was curled up with a book and doing her best to read away her resentment and bad mood when she heard Jadzia return.
“Honey, I’m home!”
Lenara huffed out an impatient breath, feeling all the frustration and discontent she had tried to cast aside return at the sound of Jadzia’s voice.
Jadzia burst into the room, flushed and smiling from the joy of exertion. “There you are! Feels like we haven’t seen each other all week. How’s everything at the lab? How’re you?”
Lenara tried to tamp down her irritation, not wanting to spoil Jadzia’s obvious good mood, trying to let it replace her own rather less sunny feelings. Partners frequently had different ideas about how much time they should spend together, and Jadzia was a completely different person to Torias, they were still adjusting to each other. This would work itself out.
“Yes, it’s lovely to see you too. Everything at the lab is fine, as am I.”
Jadzia came and knelt by her chair. “Well, you don’t sound fine. Is everything OK? Did something happen, are you sure everything’s all right at work?”
“YES, I’m telling you, everything is fine. Work is fine. I’m fine. Can we talk about something else?”
Jadzia flinched away from her as if she’d struck her. “Fine. You’re fine. I’m going to go get cleaned up.”
Something inside Lenara snapped, banishing all desire to be patient and reasonable. “No, actually. I’m NOT fine.”
Jadzia rolled her eyes, everything about her body language shouting ‘here we go’ so clearly she may as well have just said it aloud, which just angered Lenara further. “That much is obvious,” said Jadzia flatly. “You’re obviously unhappy, and I’m going to take a wild guess and assume it’s directed at me. So why don’t you just say so, instead of sulking like a child? I guess passive-aggressiveness must just run in Kahn hosts.”
“And playing offence as defence in Dax’s, clearly. Yes, I am unhappy, and yes, you’re certainly a large part of it.” Lenara breathed out slowly. “Look. I don’t want to fight. But I’ve left my whole life behind to be here, with you. The least you can do is be here too.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean? I’m right here, and you’re not the only one in exile here.”
“Oh, come on, Jadzia, that’s not fair. Of course you’ve lost your homeworld as well, but I lost my home. Yours is here. And right now I don’t feel like I can be a part of it.”
Jadzia stood stock-still for a moment, looking torn between hurt and anger at her words. They both teetered on her indecision for a moment, and then Jadzia turned and stalked out of the room. Lenara heard the outer door open and close behind Jadzia a moment later. She put her face in her arms and started to sob.
Jadzia stalked through the station, winding up outside the door to Benjamin’s quarters without any conscious memory of how she got there, or for that matter, of having decided that was where she was going. Knowing he had an early shift tomorrow and it was really too late for dropping by unannounced, she pressed the door chime anyway.
“Come in,” called Benjamin, as the door slid open. “Sit down. Can I get you a drink?”
Jadzia perched slightly awkwardly on the sofa, not at all sure what to say now she was here.
“Dax, is everything alright?”
“Yes. No. Lenara and I had a fight.”
“Ah. Well, that’s not the end of the world, is it? Couples fight all the time, it happens, you should know that better than anyone. Just go back, and make it up, and go on from there.”
“I don’t really see how we can make it up when she’s being so unreasonable.”
“Ah,” said Ben again, in a rather different tone of voice.
“Don’t you ‘ah’ me, Benjamin. Lenara can’t expect me to drop everyone else in my life for her.”
“Can’t she? She’s done more than that for you.”
“Well, it’s not as if we can both go back and live on Trill together and go back to her life.”
“True, but equally, you do have a whole life here, you have your career in Starfleet, close friends here on the Station as Jadzia, and friends from your previous hosts all over the place. Lenara just has you here. You asked her to stay here with you, and leave everything else behind. You should never have done that in the first place if you weren’t prepared to give a little too.”
Jadzia paused a moment while she considered this.
“You know, I wasn’t actually looking for a long-term relationship. I was perfectly happy here, with my friends, and my job - it was all so exciting. Then she just appeared, like a blast from the past, and I just knew. I needed her…need her in my life. I didn’t really stop to think about what it would mean. After all these years... I still lead with my heart.”
Ben smiled at her, softly. “You know, that’s one of my favourite things about you.”
Jadzia threw herself at him, launching into a hug. “When did you get to be the one giving out the advice in this relationship?”
“When I grew up.”
“Yeah.” Jadzia sighed. “I think maybe I have some apologising to do.”
“Explain to me again what we’ll be doing, exactly.”
“It’s a holosuite programme.”
“Yes, I had grasped that much. I was hoping for a bit more detail before I agreed.”
Jadzia laughed. “Oh, come on, where’s your sense of adventure?”
Catching sight of the amused exasperation on Lenara’s face, she relented. “It’s an old Earth myth. It’s one of my favourites. I tried to get Kira to play it with me but she, um, doesn’t get on too well with holosuite programmes. Actually, that’s a funny story, remind me to tell it to you sometime.” She smiled slightly shyly at Lenara. “I thought you might like to try it with me?”
Lenara smiled back. “I DO enjoy fancy dress.”
Jadzia’s eyes lit and her smile widened. “Well, just wait till you see the dresses they wore in that era. Supposedly. Earth’s records are terribly patchy.” And with that, she towed Lenara off to the back corner of her closet where she kept her holosuite costumes.
It was quite some time later that they emerged, slightly flushed, but gowned and ready to feast with King Arthur’s court.
“You know, I did some reading about King Arthur. It doesn’t sound like his adopted sister had much of a time of it…”
“Who, Morgana? I thought she was his cousin.”
“I think it varies. She’s usually some sort of villain, anyway, but I think she’s been rather mistreated by historians over the years. You were being quite tactful, by the way, when you said Earth’s records were patchy. I can’t make heads or tails of it sometimes.”
Jadzia, Lenara, and most of the station’s senior staff were invited to dinner in Sisko’s quarters.
“You two are obsessed!” interjected Julian with a laugh.
“Well, it’s nice to share things,” replied Jadzia, sharing a quick, warm glance with Lenara.
That same warmth carried her through the rest of the evening as she watched Lenara chatting easily and familiarly, first swapping notes with Julian on Earth’s various historical holosuite programmes, and then moving on to talk shop with Miles about some support she needed from engineering.
She looked away to notice Benjamin watching her with an equally warm, if slightly smug expression on his own face.
“See, Old Man? Give a little, gain a lot,” he called quietly, for her ears only, raising his glass to her in a toast. Jadzia smiled back, raising her own glass in agreement.
Lenara strolled through the Promenade, nodding to people she knew as she passed them. She wasn’t in any particular hurry, she had finished work already and was early for her date night with Jadzia. They were going to visit a holosuite recreation of the library of Alexandria.
She had been spent most of the day going over plans for organising an extended stay inside the wormhole to gather more data for her to study. The initial planning phase was taking quite a lot of bureaucracy and diplomacy in dealing with the various sections of the Bajoran government, which she had struggled with at first, but was gradually becoming second nature. That sort of thing, at least, stayed comfortingly the same no matter what world you were on.
She decided she would go straight to Quark’s for a quick drink and just wait for Jadzia there, she had enough time. Maybe she would pick up some flowers on the way.
“Where’ve you been?” Jadzia queried, looking up from her music practice.
“Oh, I was having lunch with Garak.”
“Yes! He’s an excellent conversationalist, and I wanted his advice on adjusting our Camelot dresses. It’s all very well looking the part, but I for one have had enough with prioritising historical authenticity over comfort.”
“Well. Good.” Jadzia grinned. “You know, this is great, actually. We could double-date. You can bring me. Garak can bring Julian.”
“I’ll be sure to suggest it next time I see him.”
“Please do.” Jadzia turned back to her instrument, carefully plinking out some scales.
Lenara turned to the mirror, fiddling with hair and jewellery that was not the least bit out of place, and waited.
“I didn’t know you and Garak had regular lunch dates,” said Jadzia after a very short pause, in a would-be casual voice.
Lenara caught Jadzia’s eye in the mirror, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “Well,” she said seriously, “I asked around and it seems Garak is about the only person you don’t have a standing lunch date with on the station. You know, he’s actually rather hurt about it.”
Jadzia spluttered, and Lenara knew she couldn’t decide which part of that statement to address first.
“Well-Just-...You’re not serious, are you?”
Lenara burst out laughing. “That ego, is it a consistent Dax trait, or is the symbiont just particularly fond of extremely egotistical people?”
“No, I was teasing you. And as for the rest of it, you DO seem to be friends with just about everyone else on the station.”
“My friends are your friends, you know that, don’t you?” Jadzia finally let her lurking anxiety show fully on her face.
Lenara crossed the room and squeezed onto the piano stool, landing half in Jadzia’s lap. She slipped her hands behind Jadzia’s head, threading her fingers through her hair and placed a quick kiss to her temple.
“Yes. I do know that. Don’t worry. I love sharing your friends with you. I just also enjoy having one or two of my own.”
“Lenara, come on, we need to get to the Defiant-... Lenara?” Jadzia walked into the room they both shared to the sight of Lenara sitting on the bed, making no attempt whatsoever at packing.
Lenara took a deep, steadying breath. “I’m not coming with you, Jadzia.”
“What? But you can’t stay here! The Cardassians are coming, Starfleet are retreating, we’re going any minute now-”
Lenara held up a hand to silence her. “Yes. I know. Starfleet are leaving. But I’m not Starfleet. Nerys is staying. As are Odo and Quark.”
“But that’s different, Keiko and the O’Brien children went back to Earth weeks ago-”
“But that’s different too, though. Earth is their home.”
Jadzia paused, utterly flummoxed and, despite the situation, a slow, delighted grin spread across her face. Lenara’s answered it with a small smile of her own as she continued. “Whereas this is my home. Our home. I’m not leaving it, not even for you, because you are coming straight back, are we clear?”
“Absolutely.” Jadzia launched herself at Lenara for a quick hug and a kiss. “And you, don’t go doing anything stupid while I’m gone, you hear? If I know Kira and Odo, they’ll be causing all sorts of trouble, and I don’t want you anywhere near it, OK?”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’ll just keep my head down and go visit Bajor for a bit if things get too dangerous on the station.”
Jadzia eyed Lenara dubiously, not in the least bit convinced. “Somehow I’m not reassured. OK.” She gave Lenara another squeeze and a kiss and hauled herself off the bed. “Unfortunately, I have to get to the Defiant five minutes ago. Come wave me off?”
They walked down to the docking ring together, hand in hand.
Lenara had given up trying to fight her way through the cheering, celebrating crowd of Bajorans clustered around the airlock door, waiting for Starfleet and the Klingons to arrive. Instead, she was strategically perched on one of the Promenade’s catwalks, where she had a perfect view of said airlock, straining to catch sight of Jadzia.
The airlock door opened to admit Captain Sisko, who was immediately swamped by a crowd of Bajorans eager to greet their returning Emissary. She saw him reach through the crowds for his son Jake and smiled.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder. She whirled, and found herself in Jadzia’s arms.
“Jadzia! How did you get up here without my spotting you?” she cried, throwing her arms around Jadzia in return.
“Oh, I have my ways,” Jadzia smirked.
“Oh, never mind, I’ll get it out of you later. The important thing is you’re home!” Lenara had to back off from their embrace slightly in order to kiss Jadzia soundly.
“Yes,” Jadzia replied, beaming at her. “Home.”