“Nerys, I love you, but… I’m just not sure that what we have is going to work out.” Her partner sighed and squeezed her hand. “We both have so many other responsibilities, and the Prophets only know if we’ll make it to next week what with all the life-or-death situations and assassination attempts we each have to deal with. I don’t want to give up out of fear, but I also don’t want us to build our lives around each other only to have that foundation torn away by tragedy. Does that make sense?”
Major Kira Nerys, First Officer of Deep Space Nine, was not somebody who gave into her emotions often. There was usually too much at stake for that. But in this moment, one of the rare ones where she just got to be Nerys with someone she trusted, she could feel her eyes welling up with tears. She squeezed his hand back with a wobbly smile.
“It makes perfect sense, Edon,” she assured him, “and you’re right – the Prophets only know what lies in store for us. Why don’t we find out whether we’re meant to keep walking the same path, and then talk again afterwards?”
From there, the discussion turned to whether prayer would be the right approach – Edon suggested a visit to Kenda Shrine for a spiritual retreat, but Nerys was unwilling to leave such a major decision up to their own potentially biased interpretations. Remembering the accuracy of the Emissary’s visions from the Prophets, she decided the best course of action to take would be to seek access to the Orb of Prophecy. With the combined political leverage of First Minister Shakaar and Major Kira Nerys, the vedeks would have little choice but to give them the opportunity they asked for.
As the Orb of Prophecy’s casing opened, Nerys had a split second to wonder whether this was too personal a request for the Prophets to lend their guidance to them both – and then her mind opened to the visions. Flickers of scenes from the future played out around her, the words that flowed from her future self’s mouth not her own.
“Maybe you and Shakaar can slip away when we get back.”
“ We're not seeing each other anymore… I miss him. But last time we were on Bajor… we asked the Prophets if we were meant to walk the same path.”
“ We're not.”
“You make it sound so cut and dry… I guess I'd rather believe that any relationship can work as long as both people really want it to.”
A sparking console. A sharp jolt of energy crackles through her. It feels like she’s being split in two.
An older, but still recognisable Odo stands before her.
“You're as beautiful as I remember. You can't know how I've longed to hear your voice, see your smile.”
“Odo, what's gotten into you?”
“There's something I want you to know. Something I've wanted to tell you for two hundred years. I love you, Nerys. I've always loved you.”
“…I never knew you felt that way about me.”
“I did everything I could to make sure you wouldn't find out.”
“It worked. Why didn't you ever say anything?”
“I didn't think you could possibly care for me the way I care for you. I suppose I was afraid of ruining what we had. Our friendship meant everything to me. It still does. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything.”
“…I've always believed that we're all given one destiny, one path, and now we're using technology to get around that. I'm not sure how it makes me feel.”
“I know exactly how it makes me feel. You can't know how much it means to me to know you're going home, Nerys. It won't change anything for me. I lost you two hundred years ago. But for the other Odo, up on the ship, it changes everything. He doesn't have to lose you. And somehow, knowing that makes me feel better.”
“Kira, if we don't go back to the station you'll die within a few weeks. There's nothing I can do for you here.”
“I know that, Julian. I've accepted it. We've got to take the Defiant back in time, otherwise we're cheating fate.”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn't mind cheating fate all the way home to the station.” Miles muttered.
“ Neither would I,” Jadzia sighed. “But if we go home, eight thousand people are going to cease to exist.”
“Nerys, just tell me one thing.” The older Odo pleaded. “If you'd known how I felt about you, if I'd said something years ago, do you think things might have been different?”
“Maybe.” And with that, she leant forward to give him a gentle kiss farewell.
The younger Odo looked uncomfortable, but determined. “There's something else the other Odo wanted you to know. He was responsible for changing the Defiant's flight plan.”
“So that you wouldn't have to die.”
“I can't believe it. Eight thousand people!” She was horrified.
“He did it for you, Nerys. He loved you.”
“That makes it right?”
“I don't know. He thought so.”
The visions faded and she was left reeling. Odo, one of her dearest friends – and who she’d once thought of as so set in his sense of justice he was practically the lodestar of some people’s moral compasses – was going to doom eight thousand people just for the hope they could be together? The older version of him must have changed far more than she’d expected. Her Odo would never do that… would he?
No. No, she had to believe that he was a better person than that. Or… or perhaps she had to make sure he’d stay a better person than that.
“Nerys, just tell me one thing.” The older Odo pleads. “If you'd known how I felt about you, if I'd said something years ago, do you think things might have been different?”
Nerys takes a deep breath. This is the moment the Prophets warned her about. And though it hurts her to hurt him, the alternative is so much worse that she can push her own feelings aside.
Major Kira Nerys looks him dead in the eyes, like she once did while trying to convince him she was innocent of a murder she committed long ago, and gives the only answer that she can.
“No, Odo, I’m sorry… but I could never think of you as anything other than a very dear friend.” She delivers the lie flawlessly, sees the flash of hurt cross his more-Human-than-usual features before he schools his expression.
“I understand.” The other, older Odo murmurs. “Please excuse me.” And with that, he walks out of her life.
Recording her log for her family, she leaves a message for Odo. How could she not? But, mindful of the unique perils of this paradox, she’s careful not to say anything that could give away even the slightest impression of potential romantic interest. The Prophets gave her a vision for a reason, and Kira Nerys will see that those eight thousand people survive if it’s the last thing she does.
She knows it will be.
She’s baffled when she regains consciousness on the bridge of the Defiant and can see the stars of the Gamma Quadrant still on the viewscreen.
Maybe the imaging system broke when we crashed, her befuddled mind wonders, or the Prophets have used the image of somewhere familiar to welcome me to the Celestial Temple.
Dax is talking rapidly while Sisko’s voice booms out orders, and Julian’s gently rambling about neural regenerators and surgery somewhere behind her, and she is in so much pain –
Kira Nerys wakes up in the Infirmary on Deep Space Nine to the sight of Odo and Jadzia playing cards in companiable silence, though with matching worried frowns. She smiles as she struggles to sit up and they both drop their cards to rush over and help.
I’m lucky to have such good friends. The memory of kissing Odo in a vision resurfaces for a split second and she winces, filing it away with the time she chickened out at the last moment from asking Jadzia on a date. It’s best not to dwell on such things, Kira tells herself firmly. People are either meant to be together or they’re not.
“What happened?” Kira croaks, voice raspy from disuse.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Jadzia grins, “but there was an energy discharge that caused a subspace doubling effect. For an instant, every molecule in the Defiant had a corresponding quantum duplicate. There were literally two of everyone!”
“It was… rather disconcerting.” Odo chimes in.
“Our alternate selves crashed, but we made it out. We still don’t understand exactly how it happened – the chances of that must be a billion to one!” Jadzia’s eyes sparkle with barely-suppressed excitement at a new scientific mystery to unravel. For Kira, however, the answer immediately presents itself.
“It must have been the will of the Prophets.” She whispers it more to herself than the others, but Odo tilts his head in acknowledgement and Jadzia gives her the familiar awkward smile of hers that means ‘I don’t agree with you, but I respect your beliefs’.
It doesn’t matter whether they agree with her or not. She feels certain of it.
And yet – Dax must have felt the same way when they were talking about relationships, too. “I guess I'd rather believe that any relationship can work as long as both people really want it to”, she’d said, and Kira had brushed it off. But now, faced with what she can only describe as a miracle second chance to live on DS9 with the people she loves, Kira wonders if perhaps both their points are true – that they’re meant to be together (in whatever sense) because they really want to make it work. Whether it’s romantic, platonic or something else entirely, she hopes she’ll get the chance to figure things out with Odo and Jadzia someday.
For this moment, though, she’s content to just chat with her friends and focus on her recovery. She has faith that soon enough she’ll get to see what the Prophets have in store for them all.