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Kira Nerys is worried that people are beginning to notice.

To notice that Deep Space Nine’s second-in-command has to take a deep breath before performing even a simple task. That the breath she takes shudders, just a little – you can see it in the shoulders, in the slightest tremor of her lips, if you’re paying attention.

To notice that when you call the Major’s name, her head whips around like a startled hara-cat’s and her voice is strained when she snaps, What?.

To notice that her orders are more than usually clipped and sharp, that she has less than usual tolerance for bullshit, that she’s taken to fidgeting in meetings and placing combative bets at Quark’s.

That her hands shake at the oddest moments.

She stands at her console in Ops and slowly, carefully sets her raktajino down. Only the smallest drop of scalding liquid splashes out of the cup, onto her hand, but she hisses at the burn. It sends a shock of feeling through her whole nervous system. Her hands are shaking. She lays them across the smooth, cool glass and takes a deep, just slightly shuddering breath.


The breath catches in her throat. She turns. Carefully.

‘Yes, Lieutenant?’

Jadzia Dax is smirking. And Kira Nerys is asking herself who notices.

‘May I have a moment?’

Who notices that Deep Space Nine’s science officer is asking for more than a bit of her senior officer’s time? Who notices the lilt in her voice, the slightest cast of cruelty in her eyes? Who notices that Kira Nerys hesitates for just a fraction of a second, her fingers splayed across her console, before she strides with something not quite like her usual swagger across the room?

‘What’s up?’ she says, so smoothly it startles her. Because the seconds stretch as she places one hand on the back of Jadzia’s chair, one hand on Jadzia’s console, as she leans across Jadzia’s shoulder – through the smell of her hair, the warmth of her proximity – to scrutinize the schematic to which Jadzia gestures with a calculatedly casual flash of her fingers. Just as she always does, as she’s done so many times, but now she must school her breath and grip the chair hard, and she wonders how much more she can take.

‘I’m really not sure’ – and who but Nerys would notice that her voice is nearly a purr? – ‘about the efficiency of the new interface between the sensor array and the photon-torpedo launch protocols.’ Her tone is casual. But each vowel, each consonant, is shaped to effect. And effect it has.

‘This is between you and the Chief, Lieutenant, and I don’t have time to mediate your little turf war.’ She masks in gruff exasperation how her body’s betraying her (or does she? and who notices?), and she’s just about to straighten and swagger away when, here at the back of the room where no one can see, Jadzia’s hand slides across the back of her knee, and Jadzia’s hand sweeps upward, and the coarse fabric of her uniform scratches against her too-attuned skin, and Jadzia’s hand comes to rest on her thigh, her grip firm but cruelly gentle, Jadzia’s fingers curled suggestively just under the curve, just to the side of the cleft, where Jadzia’s fingers have drawn these lines of desire so many times before.

‘I know, Major, but I could really use your assistance in this case,’ Jadzia says, her coolly professional deference like the most outrageous of lies.

Time is no longer stretching but collapsing. Her muscles are taut under Jadzia’s hand; if Jadzia’s fingertips move even the slightest bit she is sure she will twitch, she will gasp, she will give herself up; she is paralyzed under this casual, deliberate touch and she feels time collapsing.

Five days of this, five days since she last had Jadzia’s bare skin on hers, five days since she last heard Jadzia’s voice speak the literal truth instead of these lies (I want you; I want you to touch me; I want your mouth and your hands; I want to kiss your spectacular ass; your nails on my back, your lips on my clit, your fingers inside me; I want you on top of me, I want you behind me; faster; slower; faster; kiss me; hit me; fuck me), five days since Jadzia last begged her for anything, five days since she last withheld the begged-for thing, five days of these casual touches that have never been casual at all – hand on her thigh in Ops, hand on her knee, her shoulder, the small of her back in Quark’s, knee against knee in the wardroom, fingertips at her hairline in a turbolift, brief slight tender points of contact that boil her blood for hours at a time –, five days of Jadzia’s lilting or whispering or openly laughing voice, five days of trying and failing to learn how to accept this loss of control, five sleepless nights alone with her fantasies and her nails raking her thighs because she refuses to break the rules and make herself come, five days of walking the station with her nerve-endings on fire and wondering who notices and when, when, when relief will finally come.

‘... Major?’ Jadzia’s grip tightens, just a little, just slightly, and the walls and the floor and the lights and the whole station disappear and for a moment, Nerys sees nothing but stars.

She blinks, and she’s back in Ops, with Jadzia’s hand hot on her thigh. She holds herself perfectly still. She hears herself breathe.

She could say it. One word, and this would be over. Jadzia would squeeze not her thigh but her hand and smile at her, her kindest, most honest smile, and say, ‘Okay.’ and ‘Tonight.’, and then she’d have that to look forward to and she could stop being distracted, stop worrying, stop wondering and stop breathing sharply and losing her focus and needing always to have her hands on some steady surface. She could say one word and end it.

‘I’ll see to it, Lieutenant,’ she says instead. Jadzia’s thumb grazes the curve of her spectacular ass, and it would be impossible not to notice how wickedly Jadzia bites her lip as she grins up at her lover, who is willing to wait because she is simply that stubborn, or maybe, just maybe, because waiting, for her, is that much of a thrill.

And Jadzia Dax, under her smile, heaves a tense sigh as she, too, wonders who notices.