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This is my brief take on what happened on the evening following the next-to-last scene of "His Way". You know, the Big Humongous Smooch Right Smack in the Middle of the Promenade In Front of the Prophets and Everybody.

Disclaimer: This work...fan fiction...no infringement intended...copyright...Paramount (yeah, yeah, get on with it)...

Clarity
by Tracy L. Hemenover


It had quite probably been the most confusing, embarrassing, and at the same time exhilarating day of Odo's life.

Ever since that morning, he had been the object of several stares, whispers, and giggles, along with smiles and congratulations. Once, when he had entered Quark's, the Ferengi had looked at him and asked in an ingenuous tone that had not corresponded at all with his sly grin, "Disturbing the peace -- public lewdness -- aren't there fines for that sort of thing, Constable?"

It had gotten so bad that he had finally had to call Sisko and ask for the rest of the day off, for "personal reasons". It was the first time in his entire career as security chief that he had done that. But there was no way he was going to be able to muster up enough concentration to do his job, not today.

"Of course, Constable," Sisko had said, in an indulgent voice which Odo took to mean that he had already heard what had happened. Which wasn't surprising, considering the size of the crowd that had been present, not to mention the fact that Dax had been among them.

He spent the rest of his shift in his quarters, contemplating the enormity of what he had done.

There were laws against re-creating real-life personnel in a holosuite. Laws which he had broken. The fact that it had been Vic's (a hologram's) idea, not his, was irrelevant -- he had allowed it, and used Kira's image as "practice", albeit relatively innocently, in hopes of gaining the self-confidence to finally approach the real Kira in a romantic way. And he had done it again -- or thought he had -- last night.

Then there was this morning.

What had possessed him to simply grab her like that, and kiss her, in full view of at least fifty witnesses in the most public place on the station? Not just once, but twice?

She didn't seem to object, a voice within him argued. In fact, judging from her response, it's quite safe to assume that she was an entirely willing participant, both times.

He wasn't sure whether to trust that voice or not. There was a memory of Kira clutching at him, returning his kisses with equal ardor, and her words: "You're right -- who needs dinner?" But excellent as his memory was, he couldn't discount the possibility that in this case it was colored by his wishes. Maybe she had actually been trying to get away; maybe she had meant that she now didn't want to have dinner with him again, ever.

There had been no chance for a conversation to verify either possibility. Just as they were pulling apart from the second kiss, her commbadge had bleeped. Sisko wanted her in Ops right away.

"I'll see you later. We have to talk," she said, and strode off quickly, ignoring the "awwwws" of the crowd, who had probably been hoping to see further improprieties committed.

It was now coming toward the end of her shift, and he hadn't seen her nor heard a single word from her since.

"Kira to Odo."

He was a pool of liquid on the floor. Not regenerating -- just reminding himself of what he was, as if he could ever forget. It took him a few moments to reform and answer her, dreading (or was it anticipating?) whatever it was she had to say.

"Yes...Major."

"I'm off duty. Is there any particular restaurant you would like to meet me at?"

His mind went blank. "I -- I have no preference."

Kira paused. "Maybe we'd better not," she said, and his hopes sank.

"I -- understand."

"Maybe you'd better come to my quarters instead. If we went to a restaurant, half the station would follow us there to eavesdrop."

Odo nearly liquefied again in surprise, but managed to say, "Very well. When would you like me to come?"

"Right now, if you're not busy. I'm on my way; I'll meet you there."

"All right. I'll see you in a few minutes."

She hadn't sounded angry, at least. He clung to that shred of hope as he walked through the corridors to her quarters. Perhaps there was a chance she would forgive him. As for more than that, though...

He reached her door, and pressed the signal button. There was no answer. Had she changed her mind, or was she simply not there yet, or -- ? Then the door opened.

She was in her uniform. "Odo!" There was a smile on her face. "That was quick. I've been here less than a minute."

"You did say right now -- Major."

Kira tilted her head up at him, quizzically. "'Major'?" She stepped aside to let him in; the door closed after him. "What happened to 'Nerys'? I know you can call me Nerys, I've heard you do it."

"I'm -- not certain it would be the best thing," he said. Painful as it was, he looked into her eyes. "I wanted to say...I'm sorry for this morning. And last night as well."

"Sorry?" She stared at him. "Have you...you don't mean to say you've changed your mind, that you're not -- you don't -- " Getting tangled up in words, she stopped, heaved an impatient sigh, and started over. "Odo, do you or do you not still love me?"

He caught his breath. "Yes."

She put her hands on her hips. "Do you or do you not want the two of us to be a couple?"

"More than anything," he confessed, softly.

"Good. Because so do I."

Odo was speechless.

"So," Kira said, her tone softening, "what's to be sorry about?"

"This morning. I had no right to do what I did. And last night -- "

"When you thought I was a hologram?" He nodded. "I've been wanting to ask you about that. Was that something you had done before? Interacted with a hologram of me, that is?"

"In a way. Actually, she was a singer. Her name was Lola. Vic had adapted her from Julian's spy program, from when you and the others were trapped inside it."

Kira's eyes searched his. "You asked him to do that?"

"No. It came as rather a surprise to me."

She blinked. "That's a lot of initiative for a hologram. But then again, it is Vic we're talking about." She went to sit on her couch. "So, what did you and this Lola do?" Her smile was teasing.

Odo shrugged, as he perched tentatively on the couch near her. "Nothing much, actually. She was very willing, but it was only because she had been programmed that way, which took a lot of the -- enjoyment out of the whole experience. Also, her personality was nothing like yours. I realized that even if I did...go through with it...it would do me little good in the way of practice."

"Practice?"

He might as well tell her the whole story. "I had been consulting with Vic, you might say, for a week, while you were on Bajor. I was trying to learn how to change my behavior toward you. To learn how to feel more free -- not to be so -- stiff, so closed off. Like 'Nanook of the North'."

"Who?" Kira frowned, puzzled.

"A character in an old Earth film, as far as I can gather. It's a reference Vic made...anyway, when Vic told me he had an improved hologram of you -- one that matched your personality far better than Lola did -- I thought it might be a good opportunity -- "

"For more practice?"

Odo nodded. "And you know the rest. You can imagine my horror when I found out you were real." He glanced at her face for the first time since they had sat down. It gave him no clues. "Please believe me, I had no intention of taking advantage of you, hologram or not. And the last thing I ever wanted was to hurt or embarrass you. But if you're still angry with me, I completely understand, and you can rest assured that it will never happen again."

Kira looked at him, and gave him one of those soul-piercing smiles of hers. "Really? That's too bad. I was kind of looking forward to it."

He gazed at her in shock.

"Odo, I won't deny that I was angry. For all of two seconds. But before that, while we were dancing, something happened to me. I had -- a moment of clarity, you might say. I realized something."

"What was it?"

She hugged her knees, not looking at him. "That ever since I found out how you felt about me, I'd been putting off and denying how I felt. Because it scared me. So much, I even convinced myself I was in love with Bareil's double -- but when he left, though I was sad, I mostly felt relief, and I didn't know why. Finally, though, when we danced together last night, the truth just jumped up into my face. And I couldn't hide from it any more."

"What -- truth is that?" Odo hardly dared to hope what it was.

"That -- " Kira bit her lip, and finally looked up into his eyes. "That I'm in love with you."

He let out a breath that felt as if he had been holding it forever, and closed his eyes, fully expecting that when he opened them again she would be gone, and this would all have been a delusion. But when he did open them, she was still there, gazing at him, her eyes bright with unshed tears. Impulsively, he slid toward her on the couch, so that they now sat with their thighs touching. He put an arm around her shoulders, with no clear idea of what he planned to do next.

Kira provided the answer. She embraced him, pulled him closer, and kissed him. He responded unconsciously, his senses and emotions in riot.

This time, there were only the stars outside the viewport to witness it, and what followed afterwards.

-The End-


Copyright 5/11/98 by Tracy L. Hemenover

 

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