AUTHOR: C. Zdroj
TITLE: Shapes in the Dark
SUMMARY: A companion piece to "Links Broken and Forged." Kira
reflects on her relationship with Odo.
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AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story had been languishing on my hard-drive
for perhaps a year or so before I finally posted it to the Rene
Auberjonois Fanfic List (RAFL) back in 1998, a few months before
the Odo/Kira romance became part of DS9's canon in the episode
"His Way." It appeared in the fanzine Love and Justice (issue
three) along with its companion-piece, "Links Broken and Forged,"
that same year. Fair warning: there is romantic mush aplenty
here, and I've arguably taken liberties with Kira's voice, but I
still rather like this piece, especially its mythic "alien lover"
Shapes in the Dark
by C. Zdroj
They only see what they want to see. What he lets them see. The
rigid posture, the gruff voice, the steel spine. The inflexible
rationality and stubborn determination. The outer pseudo-humanoid
form, carefully sculpted by a will that likes to keep its pain
hidden away. Secret. Old hurts, too many to count, are hidden
behind his eyes--ice and blue fire at the same time. His body,
his face are all angles and smooth surfaces that give away
nothing. I smile when I see him across the promenade, glaring at
the transients with authority written in his very posture. His
mouth is grim and tight, thin-lipped, Puritanical.
No one would ever guess how soft his kisses are.
When I watch him now I am surprised that we ever hesitated to
become lovers, that there was ever any fear of rejection or of
the "alien." Alien? In so many ways he is startlingly like any
other man I've bedded. He has pettish and taciturn moods,
dissolved in an eyeblink by passion. He leaves things unsaid. So
often I have to prod him to talk that I worry about prying. I
watch him figet as he tries to keep himself from picking up
something that I've left on the floor--a shirt, a half-empty
plate of hasperat, a datapad. I know that he finds these small
transgressions against order almost impossible to ignore, but he
will never remark on them. Nor will he correct them himself, out
of respect for my privacy. Correction implies criticism. I can
see him holding the words in, studiously ignoring the small,
messy, "humanoid" sloppiness of my life. I want to laugh at him,
but don't have the heart. I will laugh about it with Dax later
on, to spare him. Open laughter at anything he does still carries
a sting for him.
His eyes seem always to catch mine at some unexpected moment.
Across a desk, across a room. Two pools of still lake-blue, of
storm-grey sobriety. That is when I see the alien--in eyes
created consciously by a species that must find sight a
limitation--a function of "solids" who don't know how to see with
their bodies. His eyes read me, muscle and bone. Posture, form,
movement, to him are as good as language. Sometimes I still feel
as though he sees into my soul with those interrogator's eyes.
And then, just as suddenly, the stranger is gone and it is
something else I see--a gaze that knows all my flaws and yet
still sees something to love. That look is as good as a touch. It
is private. The entire staff might be sitting in the wardroom
when he looks across the table or over his shoulder at me--and
the look is for me alone. An acknowledgment. A promise. I smile,
amazed at myself, at my lack of perception. It is so obvious now
that he loves me. I can see it in the briefest glance. Yet, I
must have looked into his eyes, into his face, a thousand times
and more before I really saw him--the fear, the regrets, the
tenderness lurking under that smooth and impassive mask.
Even now, I sometimes I wonder if I really do see him fully. He
is an eternal and maddening contradiction. He is a creature of
magic. A myth, a ghost, a unicorn. The god of the Jem'Hadar. I've
seen him become a bird, or a still, graceful arch of sculpture
soaring into space. Can such a creature be also the flawed and
loving man who sits beside me in Quark's bar and who shares my
bed at night? Even now, I have trouble holding the two images
side by side.
I am always surprised when I touch him. Surprised that his skin
is soft, that his body is warm, that I can feel, when I wrap my
arms around his torso and run my hands down the curve of his bare
back, the defining ridges of vertebrae beneath his flesh, the
delicate arch of his ribcage against my chest. I wonder how long
it took him to learn to recreate humanoid bone structure. I
wonder how long he has lived in this particular body, how much of
it is comfortable and familiar--how much of it still seems
Watching him "undress" as we sit together on the bed is something
oddly and almost painfully intimate. There is an alien beauty to
the way that he changes form. He loses rigidity, becomes
elemental. Becomes "being" itself. The fabric simply melts from
his limbs, as subtle and graceful a thing to watch as the action
of a ta'arhawk spreading its wings across the sky, cutting its
shape into the blue. Yet he always looks down at his body, smooth
and pale-skinned, with uncertainty and hesitation. He wonders if
it's all right. The fear of being wrong is in the way he sits,
the rigid tension of his shoulders.
"You're beautiful," I whisper, and he closes his eyes as though
locking the words away in memory--not merely the words but their
tone, their music, their texture. He remembers everything. I slip
my arms around his waist and press myself against his back, kiss
the soft curve of his shoulder, and I know that he believes me
because I can feel the stiffness and the fear easing out of his
"I love you, Nerys," he says, soft and low. His voice is a warm
purr that reverberates down my spine and warms my whole body. The
words are tender, but they are never easy for him. Even now, when
we have made love so many times, it is as though he is always
giving away a piece of himself as he says it. Trusting me with
something as dear as his own life.
Making love to him is ... elemental, like embracing the sky, or
the wind, or the ocean. It begins slowly. My hand along the curve
of his ribcage. His mouth opening to mine, a soft circle. His
kisses move down my throat, warming, exploring, finding the shape
of my neck as it arches back in silent offering. Tracing the
outline of my body, changing my contours with a touch that
provokes and soothes, calms and arouses. His hands move
everywhere in slow, persistent waves of sensation--now solid, now
fluid--sculpting me as he sculpts himself, fitting himself to me.
I've often wished to become fluid, to let the tension fall away
from me and let my body relax enough to completely let go of its
shape. Being joined to him is the closest I will ever come to
that strange state of grace. His skin is unnaturally smooth,
eerily soft, liquid somehow even in its solid state, smooth as
glass or polished stone, soft as velvet, yet eternally changing.
It shifts to liquid as quickly and imperceptibly as thought, in
the time it takes for the sensation of touch to travel the nerves
to awareness. One moment my hand caresses warm flesh, soft skin,
the next my fingertips create ripples in fluid that is like
liquid satin, brilliant as fire. It holds the reflection of
myself, the shadow and essence of my shape, and then, it is
without definite shape, waves of clear amber, of fire and pure
sensation, and it engulfs all thought, all feeling. So often,
while we are merged this way, I seem to hear his voice in my
mind, again and again. One word. My name. "Nerys, Nerys ..." As
if it is not to be believed, this joining, as if I am some kind
of eternal mystery worth wondering at.
Afterward, his eyes gaze down at me with the same look of
tenderness and disbelief. There are untold depths in those eyes,
mysteries hundreds of years old, suffering too great for any
humanoid to bear, and I reach up, to pull him to me and kiss that
straight, soft mouth. His kisses are as endless as Bajor's
oceans. It is all giving. His love is unsparing.
Once, in the quiet of the moments after, I whispered against his
temple. "I've never made love to a god before," and he drew back,
as though ashamed.
"I'm not a god."
*But you are,* I wanted to say. *You must be. You own my soul,
Odo'ital.* Blasphemous words, but I knew them to be true. Somehow
I was not troubled. I locked the words away in my heart and went
on kissing him.