A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
by
Tegan Jovanka

DISCLAIMER: The characters of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE are the property of Paramount Television. No copyright infringement is intended.
WARNING: This story contains elements of love between women and scenes of a sexual nature.If you are under 18 years old. It is restricted in your state, or are offended by such material, please read no further.
TIMELINE: this story takes place a few weeks after the incidents of THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOAK.

* * * * * *

Ezri Dax finished inputting her report into the datapadd and let out a sigh of relief. She looked up from her notes and glanced around the Sick Bay. Things had quieted down since the passengers had arrived several hours before. Victims of a Dominion attack, their commercial transport had been severely damaged and it was only the timely arrival of the Defiant that had rescued them. But, as always, there were casualties. Captain Sisko had brought the survivors back to Deep Space Nine for medical treatment, both physical and emotional. . As the Station's Counselor, it was left to Dax to comfort and help the injured, while Julian Bashir and his staff administered to their bodily wounds.

"How's it going, Old Man?"

Dax turned to see the smiling countenance of Benjamin Sisko, as he stepped into the Sick Bay and across the room to her side.

"I finished my report," she said with a smile, handing it to him. She followed her smile with a yawn.

"Rough day?" the Captain inquired.

"Exhausting. How about you?"

"One Dominion vessel, destroyed. Seventy-five passengers �rescued safe and relatively sound.

I came by to check on their status with Doctor Bashir."

"I'll go with you," Dax offered.

The pair stepped around the med-beds, past the various Starfleet and Bajoran medical personnel tending to the injured, to Bashir's office.

Julian Bashir was working at his desk and looked up at the approaching pair. His youthful face had the look of aged weariness. He started to rise, but Sisko gestured to him to remain seated.

"Take a rest, Doctor. Just a quick summary."

Bashir sat back into his seat, taking a breath before he replied," Twenty-three injured, seven seriously wounded. Nothing we can't handle, but they'll be under treatment and observation for the next several days. How are the rest of the survivors?"

"We arranged quarters for them," Sisko replied," And Colonel Kira is going to handle getting them alternate travel arrangements."

"Which reminds me," Dax interjected, "I have an appointment with her at 0900 hours to go over the passenger list."

"1600 hours," Sisko corrected, "You both have been on your feet for over eighteen hours. I want you to get as much rest as you can. Your staff can alert you if there are any changes, Doctor�.and I think the others can settle in without a counselor for a few hours."

Both officers opened their mouth, but Sisko cut them off.

"Did I mention that was an order?"

Dax closed her mouth in resignation, as Bashir shrugged and rubbed his eyes. Sisko and Dax turned to leave.

"Ezri," Bashir said, "Could you stay a moment?"

Dax and Sisko exchanged a knowing look, then Sisko walked back into Sick Bay. Ezri turned to Bashir with a weary smile.

"What's up?"

"I was thinking," Bashir said. "Since we have a few extra hours, I thought we might have a nite cap at Vic's before turning in."

"I'd love to," she replied,"but it's been a long day. Maybe another time?"

Bashir nodded, then wearily said, "You're right. Another time."

Dax gave him one last smile, before turning and leaving his office.

When she reached the Promenade, she found Sisko waiting for her.

"So, let me guess," he suggested, falling into step beside her," A nite cap in the holo suites listening to the romantic song styling of Vic Fontaine?"

"And I thought Vulcans were telepathic," she remarked in mock astonishment.

"Well, it's been pretty obvious since you've been here that he's taken a interest in you, Old Man."

"Well, I'm fond of him too, Benjamin�but as a friend. Jadzia had some strong feelings for him�.very strong. I told him about that. I think �I know she would have wanted him to know that. But I still have too much to do to pursue a romance right now. Besides Julian isn't the only one who's�..taken an interest."

Before Sisko could speak, a voice cried out from behind them," EZRI!"

The officers stopped in their tracks, a look of annoyance crossing both their faces. They turned about to greet the origin of the cry.

"Hello, Quark," Dax said, hiding the weariness in her voice.

"Ezri," the Ferengi smiled at the Trill. Then, almost as a afterthought, added quickly, "Captain."

Sisko returned the gesture, knowing full well he might as well be invisible in Quark's eyes, which were focused exclusively on the young lieutenant.

"I thought you might want to drop by the bar for a drink," Quark invited," On the house, of course. I heard about you helping Dr. Bashir with those poor people. It must have been�.exhausting for you."

"Maybe another time, Quark," she replied, barely stifling a exaggerated yawn.

"Oh.. I'm sorry," Quark said, his eyes not leaving Dax's countenance. "You're right. You should get some rest ".

"I could use a drink," Sisko volunteered brightly. "I'm not tired."

"Of course, sure�" Quark commented, not even noticing Sisko, "Another time."

Quark nodded and walked back towards his bar, his eyes reflecting his dreamlike state of mind.

The Captain barely suppressed a shudder.

"Promise me you won't name your firstborn after me," Sisko remarked.

"I don't think it'll get that far, Benjamin," she replied with a look of disbelief. "Not by a long shot."

"How are things with Worf?" the Captain inquired, as they continued down the Promenade.

"We're getting along," Dax said wistfully. "We have seemed to put Jadzia�.. behind us. Well, as much as I can, all things considered. You know, you carry over the feelings of the previous hosts, but it is forbidden for new hosts to work around former spouses. Now, I understand why, not that Leandra and I didn't�"

Dax stopped, catching herself. "Sorry," she stated sheepishly, "That was Jadzia. But you see how it is, first with Julian, then with Quark. At least with Worf, it's easier because his wife is gone. He's accepted that. But he's been protective of me,�almost like a respectful big brother, which is a lot more than I could have hoped for. It's rough having memories of a marriage you weren't there for."

"Maybe it's Ezri who's impressing the smitten suitors?" Sisko suggested.

"It's Jadzia."

"I would imagine that they see something of her in you."

"No��it's literally Jadzia. Both Julian and Quark had a great deal of affection for her. In fact, I suspect both were in love with her. The sad part is neither got the chance or had the courage to express themselves before she married Worf. And when she died�.."

"So, what you're saying is that they think they're having a second chance with Jadzia through you?" the Captain ventured.

"Well, I am a Counselor, Benjamin," Dax pointed out, "The medical term is 'transference.' . I don't think they realize it or would even admit it if confronted by the possibility. They've both been very sweet and I cherish their friendship, but�.I never know if it's Ezri or Jadzia that they're being friends with."

"Well, you are one and the same in a way," Sisko observed.

"But I'm not, Benjamin!" she countered sternly, "Not exactly. I have the symbiot's memories, the experiences. Curzon's love of life, Audrid's love of her children, Jadzia�But they're just memories, Benjamin, part of what I am. I am Dax�but I'm also Ezri."

The pair grew silent, as they continued to move on across the promenade.

"You remember what a nervous wreck I was when I got here," she continued in a sullen tone, "Good thing I had an old friend to help pull me through. I almost resigned out of the service."

"You DID resign," he chided her. "I kept a copy of your resignation to remind you, if you get those doubts again. You're just lucky I do my paperwork slowly."

They walked along in silence, then Dax smiled. Sisko noticed it and countered with one of his own.

"What's so amusing?" he inquired.

"I was thinking about the other Ezri," the Trill replied, "You know, the one Quark met when he and Rom went into the alternate universe last month to save the Nagus from Worf's evil twin."

"The Regent," Sisko corrected.

"The Regent," she repeated with a smile," I have to remember to ask Worf what he thinks about his alternate self. But the other Ezri�..when Quark got back, after you and General Martok dragged them over the coals for stealing that cloaking device��.."

"It was only the Nagus's intervention that saved them from becoming permanent residents of Odo's

holding cells," Sisko interjected dryly.

"Anyway, he told me about the other Ezri," Dax continued," she doesn't have a symbiot. It seems their Jadzia was killed in their rebellion. So the Dax symbiot died with her."

"So, their Ezri's an alternate of what you would have been, if you hadn't received the symbiot?"

"I don't know�.Quark told me that she was pretty much a pirate, but that her heart was in the right place. She rescued them from The Regent, after all."

"His report stated that she was mercenary, had absolutely no loyalties, and��.was very close to the Intendant."

The Counselor stopped short and looked at Sisko with shock in her eyes.

"Kira has told me about the Intendant. When you say 'close'�do you mean� close?"

"I mean, veerrrryyyy close." Sisko smiled. "At least according to Rom's version. Quark didn't mention that."

"Probably being respectful to me," Dax mused, then shuddered. "The visions that conjures up�bbbrrrrrrrr."

"Yes, well, The Intendant is not the nicest of persons," the Captain added, "Take it from someone who's met her."

"That's an understatement. Julian mentioned once she was the most ruthless person he ever met," Dax remarked," And she and my other self were ��..close?"

Sisko nodded with a smile.

Dax looked back towards the bar and pondered aloud, "I bet I can get Quark to tell me more about her. Ezri, I mean."

Sisko opened his mouth to speak, when a beep chimed from the communicator on his breast. The Captain groaned, as he tapped it. "Sisko!"

"General Martok is waiting in your office, sir," the voice of Miles O'Brien reported.

"Oh, yes�� I forgot. Tell him I'll be there in a moment, Chief."

"Yes, sir."

"Saved by the chime, as it were." Dax smiled.

"It's getting late and you need your rest," Sisko warned, waving the datapadd at her," I suggest you ask Quark about her tomorrow. Get some rest. That's an order, Lieutenant!"

Dax nodded, as Sisko turned and strode off towards the lift. As soon as he was out of sight, she started to walk towards Quark's bar. Then she stopped and looked towards the departed lift. With a shake of her head, she turned and continued on her way towards her quarters.

* * * * * *

She reached her quarters and locked the door. She then peeled off her uniform and walked into the sonic shower. After a few moments of washing the day off her, she stepped out and wrapped herself in a robe.

She walked into her main living quarters and checked her comm unit for messages. Finding none, she stepped to the replicator in the wall. "Dax Number 8."

There was a swirl of particles and a mug of warm milk materialized. The Trill picked it up and gingerly sipped the liquid. The warm liquid brought a shiver of warmth in her chest. She then walked over to a sofa that she had placed a yard from a large transparent port in the hull, a small coffee table before it. As she did almost every night, she sat on the cushions, curling her legs under her, and stared out into space.

The Trill marveled at the vista of the ships in docks, the shuttles passing by, men in environment suits working on the station's frame. She took another sip, as she scanned for General Martok's Klingon battle cruiser, which was in Lock 9. There was a Vegan trawler, �a Bajoran passenger ship�.The Defiant. Dax's face saddened as she looked upon the Federation starship, thinking of Worf, who had decided to reside aboard the ship, rather than on the station.

Proud�Strong�.Stubborn.

Dax smiled, as she remembered their first attempt at lovemaking. And, afterward, dragging their bruised bodies into Julian's Sick Bay....

No!

That was Jadzia... Jadzia had made love to Worf. Ezri had been in the Academy back on Earth.

She slowly stretched herself full length on the sofa, tilting her head to look out towards the star field beyond the port. She placed the mug on the coffee table.

It was hard at times. She wished she had had the opportunity for more training with dealing with the memories contained in the symbiot. They would sometimes blend with her own, especially when she was feeling lonely. Having Worf�and Julian�even Quark around�reminded her how lonely her life was BEFORE she became Dax.

Ezri Tigan. Daughter of Yanas Tigan, patriarch of the Tigan Pergium Mining family. She supposed the pressure was always there to be a success. School had been difficult, especially since the students knew her family's status and either attached to her or ostracized her, because of it. Perhaps that is why she became sensitive about her crew mates' feelings, whether they are for herself or the ghost she represents. She remembered the boys of New Sydney, where she had grown up in the Soporro system, how they courted her, wanted her�or rather the opportunity at being part of the prestige that was her family. It wasn't just that she learned to distrust their intentions, it was more than that.

Dax tilted her head until she was looking up towards the ceiling. She closed her eyes.

Her first time, with Keljor, was a disaster. The pain, the embarrassment, and the assumption on his part that being with him was some sort of honor, spoiled the experience for her. Her other two experiences were no better. At the time her distrust and her "inability" motivated her to seek a career in Starfleet, away from her family and away from what she considered her failures. Of course, now she realized that she had just been a child manipulated by boys seeking status and self-centered sexual satisfaction, but the memories hurt just the same.

Jadzia had no such moments�nor did Curzon�and the love between Torias and Nilani lived beyond their host bodies.

Dax smiled, as she recalled the feelings Jadzia felt when Nilani came aboard Deep Space Nine within her new host, Dr, Lenara Kahn. Her eyes, her smile, her body. Jadzia was ready to break all the rules of Trill to be with her. Why couldn't Ezri find a love like that?

Dax sighed, the weariness of the day finally overtaking her.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself curled against a nude woman. They were both lying in bed and Dax's head rested against the woman's shoulder. For a moment, she was disoriented, but she fortunately retained enough presence of mind not to move and disturb her companion. Whoever she was with, Dax noted, the patterns on her neck and back identified her as a Trill. And, with a slight flare of her nostrils, Dax was greeted by a familiar scent.

Carefully, she craned her head up to try and get a better glimpse of her surroundings. She recognized the ornate mirror on the wall, the scarlet curtains on the window, the polymer dressing cabinet. With a smile, Dax slowly turned her companion over.

Nilani's sleeping face was beautiful to behold. Dax smiled. She was just as lovely as Tobias remembered. This must be one of his memories coming to the surface, she mused, as she moved a finger to brush a distended lock of hair from her companion's eyes.

And stopped.

The finger touching the lock was female. That wasn't right.

Nilani opened her eyes in a slow, dreamy motion and looked up at Dax. She smiled and placed her hands on either side of Dax's head, bringing her lips down to meet hers. They kissed long and passionately, then broke away. Nilani cuddled closer to Dax and whispered softly.

"Ezri."

Dax's eyes jerked open. She found herself staring at the ceiling of her quarters. She was still lying upon the sofa. Her arm dropped over the table to touch the mug. It was cold. Dax's hand moved back to her face, rubbing her eyes. Was it all a dream or a memory or a combination of both? What did it mean?

Somewhere, a beeping sound was echoing, but Dax wasn't listening, her mind racing at the ramifications of her vision. The beep continued unabated and The Trill finally resigned herself to the fact that something was wrong. With a sigh, she slowly pulled herself up to a sitting position, wrapping the robe tighter around her. Dax realized it was the door chime to her quarters. A quick glance towards the chronometer on the wall showed her that she had been asleep almost three hours. It also showed that it was into the night shift on the station.

"Who's there?" She called.

"Leeta!"

A confused look crossed her face, as she rose from the sofa and crossed to the door. Becoming conscious of her apparel, she asked awkwardly, "Is Rom with you?"

"I'm alone."

Dax touched the wall pad and the door slid open. Leeta stood there, attired in a dark brown jumpsuit, a small purse slung over her shoulder. She smiled at Dax and her obvious discomfort, a smile The Trill found��..disconcerting. "Leeta. Is there a problem?"

Leeta suddenly realized she was staring and her face changed from a smile to an expression of distress.

"It is kind of important. Can I come in?"

Dax nodded, allowing Leeta to walk pass. As she closed the door, Dax thought she caught a peripheral glimpse of Leeta staring at her�body? But when she turned, she found the woman looking over her quarters.

"This is nice."

"Thanks�.but you've seen it before, you know."

"Of course...with�Rom."

"Sure�you and Rom picked me up here on the way to welcome Nog back to the station, remember?"

Leeta smiled, but Dax could sense the confusion in her eyes.

"Nog?"

"Your son? The little Ferengi Ensign?"

Leeta turned away and Dax thought she saw the woman's shoulders�shudder? Moving away from Dax, she stared out the port at the activity, an act that motivated her body to relax.

"It's so beautiful. " She remarked with a sense of wonder," the ships and�..all of it."

"Leeta?"

"Do you ever just watch the ships go by? Wonder where they're going? What their destinations are like?

Dax drew up beside her and followed her gaze.

"Sometimes."

Dax felt herself tense again. She could sense Leeta's gaze had fallen on her body. Her breathing had faintly increased. The Trill could almost feel the woman being�..aroused? With a sudden movement, Dax turned and walked casually towards the replicator in the wall.

"Ractojino?" she offered.

"What?"

"Ractojino?" the counselor repeated.

Leeta turned and saw Dax by the replicator. With a unsure look,. she nodded. Dax gave her a look of askance, then turned to the machine.

"Ractajino and a chilled club soda."

The two drinks materialized in a swirl of light on the replicator dais. Dax picked the glasses up and turned towards the port, only to discover that Leeta had moved to the sofa and sat down. Dax stepped over and handed her the coffee mug. As Leeta took it with a glance of uncertainty, Dax moved around the coffee table to the other end of the sofa, sliding onto the cushion. She looked at Leeta, who stared at the drink. With a hesitant smile, Leeta sipped the drink, then coughed with a look of disgust.

"Are you all right?" Dax inquired.

"Yes�yes! It's just a little hotter than I am used to."

"Well, that's Klingon coffee for you."

Leeta stared at the mug with distaste and placed it on the coffee table. Dax could look at her, the questions evident in her eyes. Putting on her best Counselor face, she decided to start by being direct.

"So�.what brings you here?"

Leeta reached into her purse with her right hand and withdrew a small control box. She held it before The Trill.

"This is what I wanted to show you!"

Dax put the club soda on the table, her curious gaze focused on the device.

"What is it?"

Leeta smiled and, placing her left hand on Dax's shoulder, pressed a button on the unit with her right thumb.

The pair were consumed in a hail of light. When it faded, they were sitting on the floor.

Dax shook her head in astonishment, then gazed about to take in her surroundings. It was a cabin very similar to her own, but the walls were dull, not polished. And the room was dominated by a large sofa set opposite the port. A small metal table sat in front of it in place of Dax's sleeker polymer version. A small end table sat to one side of the sofa.

Leeta was already on her feet and looking down at the Trill with a vivacious smile. Dax followed her gaze and realized that the transport had opened the top of her robe, exposing her breasts. With a incensed expression, she quickly closed her robe and climbed to her feet, her body shaking with indignation. Before Leeta could speak, Dax moved past the woman to a comm panel by the door, jabbing a button.

"Security! Odo!? This is Dax!"

Silence.

"Odo!" she repeated more indignantly.

"It won't work �and neither will the door."

Dax whirled towards Leeta, her eyes ablaze with her anger.

"What have you done!? What is this all about? This is kidnapping! When Odo finds out�."

"I am afraid Odo can't help you, dear," Leeta smiled, "he's dead�.and has been for some time."

Dax could only stare at the woman with disbelief. Odo dead? What was she talking about!?

Leeta stepped to the port and crooked an inviting finger at the Trill. Reluctantly, her body poised for anything, Dax approached the port and looked out.

Where there had been the bustle of spaceships and personnel working on the station exterior, there was only a few older ships moving about. Dax craned her head to see The Defiant berthed in it's lock. Even at the distance between them, she could see that it was not the Defiant she knew. It's hull was pitted and scarred with the legacy of a dozen battles.

"The other universe��the alternate one."

Leeta nodded at Dax's statement. The Trill shook her head in disbelief.

"But how? Why?"

Leeta held the small control box in her hand before the Trill and said, "This is a multiphasic signaling device. A friend of mine is on duty in Engineering tonight. With her help, I was able to use the multidimensional transporter to cross over to your universe and signal her to bring us back. With luck, she'll erase the records from the computer. We don't want Captain Smiley to find out. He wouldn't approve of this little jaunt, you see."

"Captain Smiley?"

"O'Brien�Our O'Brien."

"It still doesn't explain why�and what was that about Odo being dead?"

"Our Odo�the one who lived in this universe�served The Intendant. It's said he was killed in a breakout from Terrok Nor�.this station�a few years ago."

Dax reflected on her words and stated, "That still doesn't explain why I'm here."

Leeta smiled, but said nothing. She touched Dax's robe, a gesture that compelled the Trill to move away from her.

"Before I answer any more of your questions, maybe you'll want to change first," Leeta suggested. "There's a jumpsuit in the bedroom."

Dax followed he gaze and slowly crossed towards the bedroom, not looking back towards Leeta. Her body tensed, but she could sense the woman was not following her. When she reached the threshold, she said, "Lights." As illumination filled the cubicle, Dax suppressed a gasp of surprise. Instead of the small functional bed that resided in her quarters, the room had a king-size bed with scarlet silk sheets and matching pillows.

Lying in a neat square at the end of the bed was the jumpsuit. Dax picked it up and unfolded it, bringing the outfit against her body. She was surprised to discover that it was a the correct size, exactly so. Dax glanced back towards the open doorway, expecting to find the alternate Leeta standing there with her annoying leer. Her fears temporary swayed, Dax quickly dropped her robe and slipped the jumpsuit on, tossing a nervous glance now and then at the doorway. As she zipped up the front of the suit, her eyes scanned the room. Unlike her own quarters, there was no decor, as if the resident hadn't settled in or planned to move on in a short time. Curious, she stepped towards the only piece of furniture in the room. She reached out and touched the bed frame above pillows, examining four iron eyelet in the structure. She ran her fingers over the objects, noting that were two on each side.

"Are you decent?"

Dax turned towards the doorway at Leeta's voice. She sat down on the edge of the bed, her shoulders slumping in weariness. Why was she here? Did she know something that The Resistance needed? No�if that were true, O'Brien�Captain Smiley...she corrected herself�would have met her, instead of sending this�..woman. It couldn't be related to the alternate Jadzia or the symbiot, since both were killed in this universe. It might have something to do with her own doppleganger,�but she's a mercenary. What could be the connection? And the way Leeta kept leering at her��.

Bracing herself as best she could, Dax rose from the bed and crossed the bedroom into the living area. Leeta was sitting on the sofa, two drinks in her hands. She smiled at the Trill, holding out one of the glasses towards her. Dax shook her head.

Leeta pouted," It's Orion ale�.much better than that�drink you offered me."

"No, thanks," Dax replied. "I understand now why you didn't know what ractinjino is. Not with your war with the Klingons. And why you didn't know about Nog."

Leeta shuddered, commenting, "Married to a Ferengi? My poor counterpart. What her nights must be like!"

"Are yours any better?"

Leeta sipped her drink with a grin and replied, "You'd be surprised."

Leeta placed Dax's drink on the end table by the sofa and then patted the spot next to her with her free hand. Dax ignored the invitation and stepped closer to the portal, gazing out at the stars.

"Suit yourself, sweet cheeks," Leeta commented in a mock sulky tone.

There was a chime at the door. Dax looked to Leeta, who only smiled, placed her glass next to the other and rose from the sofa.

"Show time."

The woman crossed to the hatch and fed a code into the panel by the door. As she did, Dax moved closer towards her, hoping that she might seize the opportunity to flee from the room and find O'Brien�or someone�that could help her return home. She braced herself, as the door slid open.

And froze in her tracks.

Standing in the doorway was herself or a version of herself. Her twin was wearing jeans, knee high black boots, a tight t-shirt with a bare midriff and a translucent dark blue short sleeved jacket.

She looked at Dax with appraising eyes, her lips barely hiding a small smile.

"What do you think?" Leeta asked.

The mirror image turned towards Leeta with a stern gaze.

"Why don't you go check on your friend in Engineering? What's her name?"

"Annika."

"Make sure we won't have any surprises."

"Okay�but remember we have a time limit here."

With that said, Leeta looked at the duplicate with a knowing glance, then moved through the door. As she disappeared into the corridor, the newcomer pressed a button on the wall panel and the door slid shut.

Dax braced herself, as the other Trill approached her, the appraising eyes inspecting her. The mirror image held out her hand.

"Ezri Tigan."

Dax stared at the outstretched hand, then placed her own in it and shook.

"Ezri Dax. I suppose you have a reason for bringing me here?"

"Did Leeta offer you a drink?"

"Among other things."

Ezri detected the note of sarcasm in Dax's voice and smiled. "You'll have to forgive her," she remarked, as she stepped over to the replicator in the wall. "She has an appetite for life. Is her...the other Leeta, like that?"

"She is fun-loving�but I don't think she could be considered as�vivacious."

"What will you have?"

"Answers."

Ezri smiled at Dax's reply, as she said, "Orion ale."

A small glass with a blue liquid materialized on the replicator stand. Ezri picked it up, sipped and turned towards Dax. "You should try this. Great at calming the nerves."

Dax stood silent, an annoyed look on her face. Ezri shrugged.

"I wanted to meet you," she said off-handily. "That simple."

Dax looked at her in disbelief and said, "All this�because you wanted to meet me?"

"We had to do it this way," she retorted. "Smiley frowns on unauthorized interdimensional visits and I doubt he would have granted me permission, just to satisfy my curiosity. And I wasn't up to going back myself. I might have run into that Odo of yours�or worse, Quark."

"Quark?"

"Did he tell you how I saved his life?" Ezri asked cynically, before taking another sip. "No? Well, I did. Though I don't know why, when I think about it. On our trip to see the Regent, all he did was bore me with stories about you... Dax this. Dax that. He just wouldn't shut up."

Ezri shook her head with a pained expression and added, "Do you know the little troll is in love with you? He is. He told me when he thought I was you."

"He can be annoying," Dax agreed, "but he's a friend. "

Ezri gave her a cynical look, then stared at the glass in her hand.

"I have to be careful. This stuff gets me running at the mouth. Come here."

Ezri stepped to her double and took Dax by the arm, leading her to the sofa. She gently shoved the officer down into a sitting position and followed suit. Dax could only stare at her with disbelief.

"You brought me over here, because of Quark?" she asked.

"Not that I was jealous or anything. Just curious," Ezri remarked. "But, since I couldn't go to you, I had to get you to come here. Luckily, Leeta has a girl friend in Engineering. She is on watch tonight for eight hours. We already used an hour getting you here."

Dax sat back into the sofa and eyed her counterpart warily. "Just what is it you want to know?"

Ezri sipped her drink and locked eyes with Dax.

"I was curious about your life�our lives," she answered. "I would guess you had it pretty easy, haven't you?"

"Easy!? Wait a minute!"

"I mean, relatively. You never ran away from home or married at a early age or became involved with the 'wrong people. That's right...isn't it?"

"And you have?" Dax inquired.

Ezri sipped her drink, as she replied, "Well...I never married."

"So you brought me here to compare life stories?" Dax asked in a tone of incredulity.

Ezri looked towards the port, as she said, "Wouldn't you be curious, if you were me? Aren't you curious about me?"

Dax reflected on the question, failing to notice the small smile on Ezri's face. "I don't think I would have kidnapped you," the Trill finally stated.

"I explained the circumstances. I would have thought the Counselor in you would be curious about--"

"How did you know I was a Counselor?"

Ezri cocked her head with a quizzical expression. Realization played across Dax's face. "Quark?"

"I told you�.I just couldn't shut him up about you," she chuckled, "he talked about your smile, your hair, made you sound too sexy to be true. He also talked about the symbiot."

"I take it you have them on the Trill homeworld in this universe."

"But not in me, sweet cheeks," she stated with a note of disdain," I'm particular about what goes inside me."

Dax winced at the innuendo, but Ezri ignored her annoyance.

"Quark told me that you have the memories of �Jadzia�..That her name?"

Dax nodded.

"That's the one he had the real crush on. He almost talked about her as much as you�almost."

Ezri looked at Dax with inviting eyes, again holding out the glass to her. "I don't like drinking alone. Do you?"

Their eyes met and Dax slowly reached out, taking the glass. She brought to up to her face and looked down at the liquid with a slight frown. "Curzon�one of my hosts�The symbiot's hosts�he used to love this drink.," she observed in a wry tone. "Of course, I remember the taste�AND the effects."

Dax looked again at Ezri, who only smiled. Closing her eyes, Dax took a swig.

And then coughed.

Ezri laughed and held Dax by the shoulders until her fit subsided. She then moved back to her corner of the sofa and watched with a amused expression, as Dax regained her composure.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"It was terrible!" Dax replied in a loud tone, as she took a second swig, draining the glass. "Another?"

Ezri laughed, rose to her feet and crossed to the replicator, She returned in a moment with two full glasses and handed one to Dax, who placed the empty glass in her hand on the end table. The mirror images clinked the glasses together.

"To Ezri."

"In any universe."

Both took a drink, Dax coughing only slighty now.

"See? You're getting used to it."

"Well�.Maybe."

"I don't quite understand," Ezri inquired. "How do you separate your personal taste�the things you love or hate when you were Ezri Tigan,�to the personal tastes of the people that ..I don't know�The carriers."

"Hosts," Dax corrected. "I take it you haven't met many like me."

"There aren't many like you. Most were killed, when our planet was �conquered. Just the ones who were able to survive by escaping the frontier or joining the resistance or�capitulation."

"Traitors."

Ezri gazed towards the view port, as she remarked, "I suppose."

Dax looked at her with a serious expression. Ezri noticed and gave her a small smile.

"Well, Counselor," she stated, "I suppose at this moment you're reading me like a Betazoid."

"You brought me here to exchange life stories," Dax reminded her, "but, if you changed your mind�."

Ezri took a long swig, then said, "I've had a life totally unlike yours, I can tell you. I wouldn't know where to begin."

Ezri moved closer to Dax, relaxing into the cushions. Dax was unsure whether it was the drink or the opportunity to talk that was relaxing her counterpart.

"I'm from New Sydney �You?"

Dax nodded.

Ezri looked towards the port, her eyes embracing the star fields before her, and stated, "My Mother was...'friendly' to the Klingons who occupy the planet. It was the best way to keep what little control over the family mining business she could maintain. The Saporro system was part of the territory turned over to them by The Intendant. Anyway, I left when I was thirteen, stowed away on outbound ore freighter. I drifted from planet to planet, did...whatever it took to put a roof over my head and food in my stomach."

Dax gave her a sympathetic look. Ezri reached out and took one of the Counselor's hands gently.

"That's what I meant by�.."easy ". Sorry."

"No need," Dax replied," I always considered our�.my Mother to be a " force of Nature ". I stayed as much out of the business as I could. I just wanted to go�.anywhere, but where I was."

"Same here," Ezri agreed," I assume Norvel and Janel were part of your life."

"Yes," Dax smiled.

Ezri's face grew somber, as she stated, "I miss them."

A darkness passed over Dax's face, but she said nothing.

Ezri looked into her drink, studying the contents. She then took a long swig, emptying it.

"I need another," she said, rising from her seat and taking Dax's glass.

As she stepped to the replicator, Dax asked, "How are they?"

"Fine, I guess," she replied, "I actually saw one of Norvo's paintings hanging in the homes of one of my�.:"patrons ". I guess he's doing all right. I assume Janel is still at Mother's side�.to the bitter end. I haven't been back home since I left. You?"

She placed the glasses in the slot and pressed two buttons on the console. The glasses shimmered and there was liquid in both. Ezri picked them up and took them back to the sofa. She stopped short, as she noticed Dax's reflective expression. "Dax?"

"Just remembering the last time I was back home. It wasn't that long ago, only a month or so."

"How did things go?"

Dax flashed on the moment she realized that Janel had committed murder to protect the family and quietly answered, "Same as always."

"I guess Mother didn't take too well to the name change."

"No, she didn't�.or my choice of careers. But the host always takes the name of the symbiot. It's traditional."

"Yeah, Quark explained that. I guess Jadzia told him or something."

"Can we talk about something else!?" Dax snapped.

"If you want," she stated, noticing the change of tone, as she handed her twin her drink," Or maybe we should just drink up and I'll send you back."

Dax sipped her drink and stated, "Not yet."

Ezri sat down and studied Dax with wry eyes.

"You're not feeling sorry for me, Counselor...are you?"

Dax shook her head.

"I just want to hear more."

Ezri shrugged and lay back against the sofa.

"For a while, I was a �.associate of The Intendant. She is the ruler in this quadrant, if your people haven't briefed you. I was a pilot for a smuggling operation, running dilithium. She took me under her wing, helped set me up my own operation. It ingratiated me with the Resistance."

"And you informed on them?"

"I told you I did what it took to stay alive," Ezri commented. "That is�until The Intendant killed Brunt."

"Brunt?"

"The best friend I ever had. He stood up to her and she stabbed him."

"But I thought The Intendant was your lover."

Ezri nodded. Dax's face grew somber, a look of uneasiness crossing her countenance. Ezri looked at her with a baffled expression.

"What? That she killed my friend or that we were lovers? Women in your universe don't�.�."

"Of course we do!" Dax snapped uneasily. "I just...never thought of myself in that way."

Ezri gave her a curious look, then smiled. "Never?"

Dax hesitated, then replied, "Never." Dax looked away towards the view port, taking another swallow of her drink. She suddenly wanted to be away, back on DS9, anywhere but under this woman's gaze.

"Let me tell you something," Ezri stated in a matter-of-fact tone, turning to face Dax directly, "When I left home, I had to sleep in the streets�and go for days without food. I took any job I could, the kind of work people like Mother would spit on. I worked freighters, mines,�I 'm a great pilot, when I can get a ship under me. Other times, I hustled, I conned, I've stripped, I've� I discovered there were men who would be willing to solve problems for me�.and, later, I discovered women who could do the same. Before I left home, I wasn't interested in women sexually. But I lost my interest in men with each�'relationship.' I can generalize and say they were selfish, greedy, insensitive�violent��.but that's a given. Men could only provide food and shelter. But I needed more. I needed to be on my own."

"Which is why you ended up with The Intendent?" Dax asked, leaning towards Ezri.

"Why not!?" Ezri said defensively," she was the most important female, the most important person in the quadrant. She had the power to indulge any wish, exert control over �."

Ezri stopped short, noticing the sympathetic look in Dax's eyes.

"You're being a counselor again," she chided.

"Sorry...it just kicks in. What kind of person was she?"

Ezri reflected for a moment, then confessed, "Selfish...Hedonistic...Cruel�but she was a supernova! Even Leeta doesn't come close.... Well, maybe pretty close."

The two Trills then sat in silence for several moments, both looking into their drinks.

"What finally happened to The Intendant?" Dax asked.

Ezri took a long swig from her drink, gestured at the port with her glass, and said, "She escaped. She's out there, somewhere. Probably planning to come back and...punish me, like she did in the old days."

"Punish you?"

"Like you wouldn't believe. I still have the scars."

Daz felt a wave of sympathy and moved closer to her counterpart. "I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it. I don't."

"So...what's your status here with The Resistance? I mean, considering your past."

"Smiley has me on probation, though Bashir would like to find a penal planet to drop on me."

"Bashir?" Dax asked, perking up. "Julian Bashir!?"

"That's the son of a bitch. I take you have one like him in your side?"

"Yes, but he's one of my best friends. He's kind�sweet�.generous...."

"Well, your friend Rom did call this the 'alternate' universe," Ezri pointed out. "The Bashirs are obviously as different as we are."

"I don't think we're that much different," Dax observed.

Their eyes locked for a moment. Ezri smiled, causing Dax to smile in return. "What?" the counselor asked.

"How do you do it?"

"Excuse me."

Ezri shifted herself, leaning closer to Dax and stated," You have all these memories, all these�feelings. How do you maintain your identity, your sense of �who you are?"

"It's not easy, I can tell you," Dax remarked. "Usually, a host candidate will undergo rigid testing and training to earn the honor of carrying a symbiot."

"I remember hearing stories when I was growing up," Ezri remarked. "Mother used to frighten me with stories of having a worm put in my body. But honor? You're simply keeping a parasite alive another generation."

"A host keeps the knowledge and experience alive," Dax replied in a serious tone. "It is an honor. But, unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of training. Jadzia was dead and the only way to save the symbiot was to put it into a host as quickly as possible."

"And you were the lucky one?"

"I was the only Trill aboard the Destiny, the ship transporting Jadzia back to the homeworld. It was either me or let the symbiot die."

Ezri looked into her glass, swirling the liquid slowly, and observed, "I wonder what decision I would have made, if it had been me? How did it�feel?"

"You wouldn't believe!" Dax breathed, downing another swig. "The flood of memories...trying to separate who's who...I was trained as a Counselor in Starfleet, but it didn't give me a better chance of surviving the emotional trauma�which I did, but it made my personal life a bit of a mess."

"How so?"

"When Mom came to visit me, after I was taken to a hospital on the homeworld, my first words were, 'Hi, Mom, it's me�..Curzon!' That didn't go over too well," Dax related, taking another sip. "And there have been some personal problems. For example, it's forbidden...a strict rule�that you don't come into contact with loved ones from a previous host's life. Unfortunately, Jadzia's husband, Worf, is serving aboard the station. I try to keep our relationship platonic, but sometimes Jadzia's feelings come forth. You see, my training as a host is a ongoing endeavor."

"Counseling yourself?"

Dax nodded.

"Worf," Ezri repeated, "where's he from?"

Remembering that the Worf in this universe was The Regent, the Klingon Leader of The Alliance, Dax replied, "He's from Russia...The Soviet Confederation back on Earth."

"That's good to know," Ezri stated, "It sounded like a Klingon name."

Dax almost coughed in her drink. Ezri put her drink down and stepped over to her, leaning The Trill forward and slapping her back. The coughing subsided.

"Must have gone down the wrong way," the Mercenary observed. "How are you feeling now?"

Dax looked in Ezri's eyes and the women looked at each other for a long time. On a impulse, Ezri moved forward, her mouth moving towards Dax's. For a long moment, their lips met, locked, and parted. Dax suddenly broke the embrace, slipped around her counterpart, rose from the sofa, and stepped to the view port. She gazed out at the stars, wrapping her arms around herself. Ezri looked at her form, framed in the light of the station and the stars, and smiled. "Well, I guess that was a surprise," she finally said.

"I guess it was," Dax agreed.

Ezri moved slowly up behind Dax and placed her hands on her shoulders. She slowly began to massage the tension she felt in the flesh. Dax closed her eyes and tried to relax, absorbing the feeling. She didn't want to think about where she was, who she was with or whether it was right. She simply wanted to enjoy this woman's touch. She didn't react to the first caress of Ezri's lips on her throat or the second. Or the nibbling of her ear lobe.

"I never knew I smelled so lovely," Ezri observed, her tongue licking at Dax's throat, "or tasted so good."

"We shouldn't. " Dax cautioned, conviction absent in her tone.

"Your words say 'No,' Counselor," Ezri remarked, "but your body doesn't seem in a hurry to go anywhere."

Dax knew her words were true. It was more than a matter of the drinks or the soft touch. All the loneliness, all the need that had been repressed inside her was asserting herself. It wasn't any of her previous hosts that were urging her on. It was herself, her true self.

And when Ezri closed her mouth over the Counselor's again, Dax could only surrender to her. When the kiss ended and Dax could feel Ezri's hot breath on her, she placed a hand on Ezri's shoulder, partly to stop her, partly to steady herself. "This is...too bizarre. We're like...sisters or�."

"No," Ezri breathed, "we're not."

Ezri moved closer, her left hand closing over Dax's right breast, gently applying pressure through the jumpsuit cloth, as her lips moved to Dax's left ear. Ezri's lips brushed against Dax's ear and moved down to her throat, as her right hand encircled her companion's waist and drew her closer. Dax's hands grasped Ezri's jacket and pulled it back. Ezri gave a small laugh, as she disentangled herself from her counterpart and pulled the jacket off, tossing it away.

As soon as the jacket was off, Dax encircled Ezri and pulled her to her, her mouth pressing against the mercenary. Dax's lips moved down to her throat, as her hands slid under Ezri's halter, grasping the woman's breasts.

"You must have done this before," Ezri remarked.

"I told you a symbiot's knowledge comes in handy," Dax reminded her with a grin.

Ezri squealed at her touch, as Dax's fingers played over nipples, pinching them into hardness. Dax pushed the halter up with her forearms, not relinquishing her hold on her prizes. Her mouth eagerly closed over Ezri's left breast, her tongue playing over the nipple. Ezri arched slightly to push herself against the lips that enveloped her. Dax responded by nibbling at the nipple in her mouth with her teeth.

Ezri moaned, as Dax moved from Ezri's left breast to her right one, her fingers squeezing Ezri's breasts, as she felt Ezri's hands stroke her hair. Ezri's hands moved to the sides of Dax's head and gently tilted her gaze towards the mercenary's face. "Come with me, Counselor."

She took her twin's hand and led her towards the sleeping quarters. As she did, Dax noticed for the first time the scars on Ezri's back. She stopped in her tracks. Ezri looked at her with concern, then followed her gaze. "I see you noticed."

"How?"

"Some of them were...souvenirs from the men�and women� in my life. I told you I had to do whatever I could to survive. Some of them, like the scar on my right shoulder, are...'love bites' from The Intendant."

"Don't you have dermal regenerators here?" the Counselor asked.

Ezri snorted a laugh, answering, "The rich do. But that kind of technology is hard to come by in this universe, sweet cheeks. Forget it."

Ezri continued to lead Dax towards the bedroom. When they were inside, Dax started to move towards the bed, but Ezri placed her hand to gently restrain her. Dax looked at her with eager eyes, as Ezri's right hand went to the zipper of Dax's jumpsuit and hooked a finger into the ring. She slowly zipped the garment open to the waist. Dax moved to take it off, but Ezri shook her head. The smuggler moved her hands under the suit at the shoulders and peeled the apparel back from her shoulders. As Dax's naked flesh came into the open air, the Trill could feel Ezri's warm breath on her breasts, the gleam in the other woman's eyes at the treasure before her.

Slowly, Ezri peeled the jumpsuit down Dax's body, falling to her knees to help the woman out of the pant legs. Tossing the garment aside, she stared up at the woman before her, who in turn, looked down at the smuggler with anticipation in her eyes.

It's so eerie

, Dax thought, as she gazed down into Ezri's hungry eyes, having a mirror image of yourself seducing you�making love to you�.and wanting her just as much.

Unlike Ezri's, Dax's skin was smooth and unmarked, save for the Trill markings they both shared. Gradually, Ezri rose to her feet, running her fingertips over the woman's flesh. Dax shivered at the touch. Ezri kissed her gently and moved back a step.

"Come to bed."

Dax nodded and let herself be led to the large bed. Ezri slowly lowered her to the silken sheets on her back and looked down upon her. "I know this sounds like ego, �.but you're beautiful."

Dax smiled at the compliment Ezri removed the rest of her clothes and sat down beside her. Dax reached up and touched her twin's shoulder, careful not to place her fingers directly upon the 'love bite.'

"Did she do this for punishment?"

Ezri shook her head with a smile and said, "No, it was her way of expressing herself. To her, it was a show of�affection. Twisted as it was. You could never be sure of anything with her. They're...reminders."

"Reminders?"

"The Intendant was a first class bitch...but she taught me a lot about pain�and other things. This scar never really healed. It's still sensitive. Sometimes I press on it to�bring back memories."

Dax looked into Ezri's eyes, searching for some understanding of her words. The Counselor then slowly rose to a sitting position, wrapping her arms around the other's waist, pulling her close to her body. Gently, The Counselor brought her lips down on the scar and grazed it lightly. Ezri winced, her fingers digging into Dax's flesh. Dax began to lick against the wound, feeling the sharp reactions to her touch through Ezri's nails. After several moments, she moved away from her lover and stretched back on the bed, her body naked and inviting, her aroused countenance staring up at Ezri, who was trembling slightly from the pain and the anticipation of what was to come.

"Teach me," Dax implored, her arms reaching towards her.

* * * * * *

"You simply don't understand!"

"What is there to understand? The man is guilty!"

"No, he's innocent!"

"He's guilty! Your own legal system pronounced him so!"

"But that proves the fallibility of legal systems�their ability to make a mistake!"

"Cardassian systems are much more efficient!"

"Yes, I seem to recall they have an extraordinary judicial procedure.... They find you guilty first, then hold the trial!"

"Works out better for everyone!"

"GENTLEMEN!"

Bashir and Garak looked up from their corner table at Quark's to see Odo staring down at them. Bashir noted he was wearing his 'official' scowl. He sighed.

"I take it we're being a little too loud?" The doctor inquired sheepishly.

"For Quark's, that's quite an accomplishment," the Shape Shifter noted. "Maybe you care to explain what this discussion is all about? Judicial systems?"

"Videos," Bashir corrected.

"Videos?" Odo repeated.

"The good doctor has been rummaging into video archives of the early broadcast history of planet Earth,�.specifically, something called 'Television shows,' I believe," Garak explained, "he seems to find my recommended Cardassian literature not quite to his standard,"

"Well, it does seem to be somewhat repetitious in the storytelling," Bashir noted.

"Be that as it may!" Garak snapped. "As I was saying, he offered me a few�..chapters?"

"Episodes," the Doctor corrected.

"Episodes...of a drama about a man convicted of killing his wife, then eluding justice."

"He does not elude justice. He is innocent to begin with," Bashir chided. "It is clearly shown that his wife's murder was carried out by another individual, a one-armed man, and that the individual escaped incarceration to bring the true killer to justice and clear his name."

"Rubbish," Garak insisted, "the whole story is told from this--Kimble is his name--from this Kimble's viewpoint. This one-armed man could very be a innocent bystander."

"He comes running out of the house after the murder and is almost hit by Doctor Kimble's vehicle!" Bashir retorted. "Innocent bystander, indeed!"

"That's it!" Garak pronounced with an air of sudden realization. "I should have realized it sooner. Kimble is a doctor! Naturally, you'd take his side, Doctor Bashir!"

"Now who's talking rubbish!?"

Garak ignored the remark and leaned towards the Constable in a conspiratorial pose. "Furthermore, Constable, this Kimble fellow is being hunted by a very stalwart representative of law and order. In fact, he reminds me of you!"

"Really?" Odo asked.

"I have to agree," Bashir added. "He's a role model patterned after you."

"But!" Garak continued, "this gallant champion of justice is constantly thwarted by common citizens, who are taken in by this...this convicted felon...the kind of collaboration that would bring a swift death penalty on Cardassia, I might add."

Bashir simply shook his head, but Odo leaned forward with curiosity.

"I'd like to see this�drama, if I may?"

Garak removed four small cylinders and handed them to the shape shifter. "Be my guest!"

"I have to warn you," Bashir stated, "they are monochrome...no color, just a sort of gray. Most of the early episodes in the series, as it was called, were produced before color became a standard on broadcast video. However, if that's not to your liking, the holo-suites can adjust and colorize them for you."

"You'll want to, I assure you," Garak urged Odo. "Monochrome is so�.dreary."

Bashir was about to retort, when he spotted a familiar figure moving past Quark's entrance. Bashir fished out a small cylinder and pressed it in Garak's hand. "Maybe you'll have better luck with this," he stated with a smile," Excuse me, gentlemen."

Bashir quickly departed the establishment, leaving the Caradassian and Constable to study the cylinder. With a wary look, they exchanged baffled looks.

Garak inquired," What do you think?"

"I don't know," Odo replied," What is a...'Brady Bunch?'"

Bashir reached the Promenade and caught up with his small quarry quickly. He placed a hand on her left shoulder, causing her to yelp.

"Bashir!"

Bashir looked into the pained expression of Ezri Dax, as she rubbed her shoulder from his touch.

"I'm sorry!" he stammered. "I didn't know. What happened?"

"Nothing," she smiled meekly, "I was trying that upside down posture to clear my head and I twisted my shoulder coming off the wall."

"You better let me take you down to Sick Bay and have it scanned," he suggested.

"No need. It's happened before. It'll pass."

"Where are you headed?"

"For my quarters. I'm off duty and I'm really tired."

The pair started to walk across the mall.

"No chance I could convince you to come with me to Vic's tonight."

The Trill hesitated, then replied, "I'm really tired, Bashir."

"You know, I still have a first name," he reminded her.

"I'm sorry, Julian," she apologized, "I must be more tired than I thought. I didn't mean to be rude. I've just had a lot on my mind "

"Well, think about Vic's, will you? We haven't spent too much time together off duty. Not for several weeks. Not since the refugees from that Dominion attack, come to think of it."

"Well... I'm sorry...I really am. I'll drop by Sick Bay tomorrow and we'll set something up, okay?"

Bashir smiled and nodded. The Trill returned his smile.

"I really have to go. I am exhausted. See you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow, then," Bashir agreed.

He watched her walk away, then turned with a foolish grin and started to walk back towards Quark's, his step decidedly lighter than it had been before.

* * * * *

She reached her quarters and stopped at the door. Cautiously, she glanced from left to right down the empty hall, before touching the chime.

"Who is it?" came a voice from the other side.

" Ezri," she replied.

The door slid open and the Trill stepped in quickly. As it slid closed behind her, She turned and smiled at the only other occupant in the room, who stood by the wall to prevent anyone in the hall seeing her by the door console.

"It's about time you got here," Dax remarked, keying in the lock sequence. She was attired in a long white robe, an annoyed look on her face.

"Sorry," Ezri replied, giving her twin a long liquid kiss.

When they broke, Dax remarked, "Always worth waiting for�as usual."

"I ran into Bashir."

Concern crossed Dax's face, as she asked, "He didn't suspect?"

Ezri smiled and shook her head.

"No. In this Starfleet uniform, our Mothers couldn't tell us apart. But you have to remember to see him tomorrow. Seems you have been neglecting your relationship of late."

"We're jusy friends."

"He doesn't seem to think so."

Dax touched Ezri's shoulder, causing her to wince slightly.

"How did you run into him? The route you use from the Cargo Bay circumvents the Promenade."

"I...cut through the Promenade."

Dax moved slightly away, a disapproving scowl on her face. "That was risky, especially if you had into Captain Sisko. Why?"

"Curiosity, I guess. I wanted to see what it looked like compared to ours...you know�in peacetime."

"Well, I hardly consider us at peace, not with the Dominion breathing down our necks," Dax replied, stepping over to the replicator and removing two glasses sitting on the dais, "but I would guess there are substantial differences."

Dax turned toward her guest to discover she had already shed her uniform and was standing there nude before her.

"You don't waste any time, do you?" The counselor commented slyly.

Ezri grinned, shaking her head slowly. She started to move forward, when Dax shook her head. "Turn around first."

Ezri cocked her head in mock frustration, then did a slow turn for her lover. Dax gazed upon her body with pride.

"The dermal regenerator did such a wonderful job on you," she remarked. "No scars at all�except that one on your shoulder you insist on keeping."

"I told you that it's a reminder," Ezri replied, facing her. "But now�it's a reminder of you. I am just glad you were able to 'borrow' the device without Bashir finding out."

Dax lowered her gaze to her lover's crotch. She seemed to examine something there with a scientific singularity. Ezri looked down between her legs, then back at Dax.

"What!?"

"I was just curious," the counselor replied," As I recall traditions, pirates used to pierce their ears and put a small ring through it."

"You never complained about it before," Ezri remarked, fingering the object in question.

"No," Dax agreed, placing the drinks back on the dais. "I haven't ".

With one quick movement, she unbuckled her robe and let it slide down her arms to the floor. Ezri looked at her with anticipation, her gaze traversing her twin's nude body. Her eyes rested on the area between The Counselor's legs and her smile became a grin.

"I guess we're becoming more alike every day," she remarked.

"Except mine's silver, not gold," Dax said with a touch of pride," I have to be my own woman."

Ezri stepped to Dax, entwining her arms around the Trill's waist, pressing her flesh against hers, and said, "I wouldn't have you any other way."

"As long you have me," Dax remarked, before placing her lips over her twin's.

* * * * *

A few hours later, Dax opened her eyes. The bedroom was still dark. She stretched her naked body, arms over her head, a satisfied smile on her features. She loved the moments of languishing in the aftermath of their lovemaking, before they started up anew. Tenderly, she reached out to touch Ezri beside her.

She was gone.

Dax sat up, concern on her face. Ezri never left without a good bye. Dax stepped out of the bed and padded across the room to the doorway.

In the light of the port, Dax could discern Ezri on the sofa. She was wearing the robe Dax had greeted her in and sat with her legs curled under her. Dax stepped back into the room, taking a powder blue robe from a closet, one adorned with a small Starfleet emblem. She quickly wrapped it around herself and stepped quietly to the sofa. Ezri didn't move her head from the vista before her, but Dax could tell her sharp smuggler's ears had detected her arrival. Silently, she curled onto the sofa next to her and placed her head in the woman's lap, her eyes staring towards the port. Ezri used her free hand to stroke her lover's hair.

"It's beautiful," Dax commented.

"I know," Ezri agreed," All the ships�the activity. Your world is so alive. I wanted to take one last look at it. I didn't want to disturb you."

Dax raised up to a sitting position, a look of dread in her face. "Last look?"

Ezri locked eyes with her twin, the pain of her next words apparent in her gaze. "She's back."

"Who?"

"The Intendant."

Dax crossed her arms in front of her, her concern obvious. Ezri merely shook her head.

"I don't mean back on Terrok Nor. I mean, she's started up trouble again. She's rallied the Klingons and others in the Alliance, obviously trying to replace The Regent with herself. They have started a series of raids. Leeta informs me that Smiley intends on clamping down on station security. So it may not be possible to cross over for some time after tonight."

Relief washed over Dax's body. "For a moment," she breathed," I thought I'd lost you."

Ezri reached out and moved a finger tenderly through Dax's hair. "Never."

"You know...you could stay in this universe...with me."

Ezri smirked, asking, "Wouldn't that be hard on Sisko�having two Daxs around? Not to mention the delight of Bashir, I'm sure."

Dax touched Ezri's hand and replied," I'm serious."

"I know you are," Ezri said somberly. "And I don't want to leave you for a minute. But I am the one person in the Resistance who has been�..closest to the Intendant. I know her moods, how she thinks. Smiley is finally glad he didn't get rid of me like Bashir wanted. I'm important now. I sit in on all the strategy meetings. Smiley even has me cleared on a security level."

Ezri looked deep into the Trill's eyes, as she commented, "I guess hanging around you has given me a sense of responsibility towards others. Damn you!" The last words were followed by a smile, and Dax could only shake her head, returning the smile.

"Besides," Ezri added, "How do you think Leeta feels? No more special 'Double Dax nights' for her for a while."

"Tell her I promise to make it up to her," Dax replied with a grin. "Although it's difficult not to look at my Leeta and not wonder if she has those moles in the exact same spots."

"Maybe you should find out?" Ezri suggested with a sly expression.

"I don't think her husband would appreciate it."

"Married to a Ferengi...makes me shudder."

Dax slapped the other's arm lightly, stating," Rom is very nice! And sweet! And hung like a horse, according to Leeta."

Both women laughed. Ezri placed her drink on the table and took Dax by the hand, rising to her feet. The counselor followed suit, her eyes never leaving her lover's face. "We still have a few hours," the smuggler reminded her," Let's not waste a moment."

Dax slid under Ezri's arm and the two walked slowly back to the bedroom.

* * * * *

"Julian!"

The Doctor turned away from his medical console to see a smiling Dax stepping across the Sick Bay towards him.

"Ezri! How's the shoulder?"

"The shoul�. er, fine. Not a problem."

"I was a little worried from your reaction at my touch yesterday," he admitted, rising from his seat.

He picked up a tricorder from the console and stepped to her. He removed the sensor from it's casing in the machine and passed it over her shoulder, examining the results on the device's screen.

"Well, no problem with the shoulder," he remarked, a look of concern crossing his face," But your energy level seems down. Did you get enough sleep last night?"

Dax put on her best smile, as she replied," I'm afraid not. I was composing a letter for my mom. You have no idea how nerve wracking that can be."

He looked closely at her face, the concern growing more somber.

"Your eyes are red. You look almost as though you were...crying."

"Don't be silly," Dax laughed, turning her head away. "Just staring up at the ceiling trying to count targs all night. But, since I have been neglecting you of late, I dropped by to let you know that I am off duty at 1600 hours and I might...might be free for dinner tonight."

"Excellent," the physician declared, "then I recommend dinner at the Bajoran caf� that just opened, followed by some entertainment at Vic Fontaine's...as long as you get some rest after that. These readings indicate you were probably up all night."

"Well, Julian, you know what they say," Dax offered, "there is never so satisfying a time as that which is spent with oneself."

Bashir tilted his head, not sure of the meaning of her words.

Dax touched his arm and stated," I have to get to Ops. See you at 1600."

"1600, it is," he agreed.

Bashir watched her lithe form walk out of the Sick Bay, a smile on his face. However, as he replaced the tricorder on his console, his delight turned to concern. He couldn't help wondering if there was something more to Dax's condition..

He could not have seen the look of sadness in her eyes, as she crossed the Promenade towards the lift.

END

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