Change of Heart
Production no.: 540
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: David Livingston
First satellite airdate: February 28, 1998
Worf and O'Brien are watching Dax play Tongo with Quark, and betting on the outcome. Quark has won 206 straight games in the last month, and he makes it 207 with this one. "I would rather lose a bet on you than win on someone else," Worf tells Dax afterwards. That night, they make love.
In the middle of the night, Kira calls them to the captain's office. A Cardassian operative who has been passing intelligence to Starfleet for the last two months has sent an emergency signal, wanting to speak to someone face-to-face. He will beam an encrypted message to a set of coordinates near the Badlands in 13 hours. His name is Lasaran, and he's very important to Starfleet Intelligence. The Defiant is away, and there is only one runabout available. So Worf and Dax have "volunteered" for the job.
On their way in the Shenandoah, they discuss where to take their honeymoon. Dax wants Casperia Prime, the vacation capital of the Horvian cluster, and Worf agrees, much to the surprise of his wife, who was expecting more of an argument. "I am a married man. I have to make certain adjustments in my lifestyle." She tells him he's become practically easy-going. "What's next, a sense of humor?" "I have a sense of humor," he declares. "On the Enterprise, I was considered to be quite amusing." "That must've been one dull ship." "That is a joke. I get it. It is not funny, but I get it."
O'Brien is brushing up on Tongo, sitting in his quarters with a wheel and some cards when Bashir enters, all ready for their secret agent adventure in the holosuite. O'Brien has only played Tongo once, a long time ago, but now he's got a bug in his ear about it. He persuades Bashir to play a game with him. Bashir doesn't know how, but a glance through a PADD teaches him the basics.
Worf and Dax arrive at the designated coordinates, and receive the transmission from Lasaran, who isn't thrilled with who Starfleet has sent, but he's got no choice. He tells them he has information on the Founders in the Alpha Quadrant, where they are, and what they're doing. But in exchange, he wants to defect. The Vorta advisor where he's stationed is getting suspicious. Lasaran can't wait for Starfleet Intelligence to arrange to send someone to get him. He's been reassigned to the Dominion base on Soukara, and he has a plan to use that opportunity to get out. Three days from now, Lasaran will walk out of the base and into the jungle; he won't be missed for two days. Since transporter scramblers will be in place, Worf and Dax will have to land and meet him at a rendezvous point on foot. Lasaran sends them the information on how to avoid the sensors on the ground. "We will be there," says Worf. Lasaran looks at them in despair. "How far I've fallen. I'm risking my life on the word of a Klingon. Three days. Don't be late."
Bashir wins yet another round of Tongo against O'Brien. The Chief has taken it into his head that he wants to break Quark's winning streak, for the challenge of it. He also needs something to take his mind off his wife's absence. Then he gets an idea. "Maybe I can't beat Quark. But you can. You and that genetically engineered brain of yours." Bashir takes a little bit of persuasion. "Do it for the satisfaction of the look on Quark's face when he's beaten at a game of Tongo by a lowly hew-mon," O'Brien urges. "Deal the cards," Bashir tells him.
The Shenandoah enters an asteroid field to pass through one of the gaps in the Dominion sensor grid that Lasaran notified them about. They approach Soukara, and look for a landing site. Dax finds one, about 20 kilometers north of the rendezvous point, meaning they'll have to hike a long way on foot, but they can't risk landing any closer. After they land and equip themselves, they set off, pausing to rig their tricorders to link up to the Dominion sensor grid and mask their lifesigns. This will, however, deprive them of knowing what lies ahead, though Worf says he looks forward to the challenge. They head off into the jungle.
Back at DS9, Bashir manages to convince Quark to let him into a high-stakes Tongo game, though the Ferengi is highly skeptical that even a genetically-enhanced human can win. A few hours later, it has come down to a two-man game between Bashir and Quark. Then Quark starts casually talking about Dax as they play. About how she has always seemed to make things seem better. Bashir agrees, and his mind begins to drift from the game. Though O'Brien tries to get Julian to focus again, Quark continues talking. "And now she's married...Out of reach...You know what's really sad? What really keeps me awake at night? She's out of reach because we let her go." "I suppose so," says Bashir. "But some things just weren't meant to be." He evades; O'Brien is concerned that that was the wrong move, but can't do much.
"You're probably right," Quark says. "But what if that's a convenient rationalization? What if, deep down in our heart of hearts, we both know she's something unique, something we may never see again? A chance at true happiness. And we let her slip through our fingers. What if, fifty years from now, we each look back and say, 'What a fool I was'?" He confronts. Bashir, now thoroughly distracted, shows his full consortium. But Quark has a total monopoly, and his 208th win. Bashir is busted. But somehow that's not what disturbs him most. "Did you really mean all that? About Dax. Being my one last chance for true happiness?" "Doctor, you don't expect me to show you all my cards, do you?" replies Quark. It's O'Brien who wakes Bashir up to the fact that he's been royally psyched out. However, he doesn't hold it against him. "Genetically engineered or not, you're still 'hew-mon'."
Worf and Dax continue on their journey, until they finally camp for the night, listening to the sounds of the wildlife, and relaxing. Suddenly they hear something, and hide. It's a Jem'Hadar patrol. When one soldier comes toward them, they open fire and kill them all. But Dax has sustained a serious injury to her side. What's more, though no vital organs were damaged, the disruptor left an anti-coagulant in her bloodstream. Worf can't stop the bleeding. There's no choice but to pump her with painkillers and keep moving.
They pause in the morning to change her bandages. Dax makes jokes to keep her spirits up, but Worf is back to his usual gruff manner. He blames himself for letting his guard down, allowing her to be injured, and jeopardizing the mission. Dax tries to tell him they had no way to know about the patrol, without their tricorders, but Worf cuts her off, determined to be guilty. They move on, and Dax's condition worsens. Finally they have to stop so Worf can give her another hypo and change the dressing. Dax is ready to pass out, making half-delirious jokes. There are still three kilometers to cover before nightfall. Worf tries to help her up, but Dax can no longer stand.
"Worf, you have to go on without me," she tells him. "And I know that. I understand." Worf knows it as well. Lasaran's information could be vital, and he has a duty to see him to safety. He promises to be back tomorrow night, and he will leave her the medkit. But they both know this is probably goodbye. "It's been a great two months, hasn't it?" she says at last. "Yes," Worf tells her. "Jadzia, I just want to tell you how -- " She stops him. "Just kiss me and go." Worf does. But after some time, he just can't go on. He turns back, finds his wife again, and carries her back to the runabout.
Dax is still in surgery when Sisko comes into the infirmary. Lasaran is dead, having been killed trying to re-enter the base on Soukara. Worf admits that he could have made the rendezvous, but he turned back to save Jadzia. Sisko reminds him that Lasaran's information could have saved millions of lives. But Worf tries to explain why he did what he did, by recalling the story of the first two Klingon hearts, that was told at his wedding to Dax. "I have heard that story since I was a boy, but I never understood it -- I mean, really understood it -- until I was standing in the jungle with my heart pounding in my chest, and I found that even I could not stand against my own heart. I had to go back. And it did not matter what Starfleet thought or what the consequences were. She was my wife. I could not leave her."
"As your captain, it is my duty to inform you that you made the wrong choice," Sisko says. He doesn't think Starfleet will file formal charges, since even a secret court-martial would jeopardize their intelligence operations. But this will go on Worf's record, and Worf will probably never get his own command. He and Jadzia are also not to be assigned to missions on their own again. "One last thing. As a man who had a wife, if Jennifer had been lying in that clearing, I wouldn't have left her either."
Worf goes in to be there when Dax wakes up from surgery and asks if he made the rendezvous. "No," he tells her. "I could not leave you there. Not for Lasaran, not for the mission, not for anything else." Dax is saddened by Lasaran's death, but touched by what Worf did for her. She knows how much his career means to him. "You come first," Worf says. "Before career, before duty, before anything. I do not regret what I did. And I would do it again." Together, the two of them reaffirm their love.
The B-story was originally about Rom's ex-wife visiting the station.