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9. Life's Little Hiccups

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The young star burned brightly, its stellar wind and intense radiation cutting billowing swaths through the darkness. He watched its looping prominences and flares dance against the void. Stars-- so peaceful at a distance, yet so violent up close.

Mora woke to a cool hypospray touching his neck.

"Oh," Odo moved back. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"You didn't." He yawned, picking the sleep goop off the corners of his eyes. "Don't worry about it...I didn't mean to fall asleep."

"You needed it." Odo replied gruffly. "I gave you your antibiotics. Aleexa says you need to take them at same time each day. It's almost twelve-hundred."

"Mmhmm." Mora lifted his head. "You stayed all this time?"

Odo shrugged, glancing down at the PADD in his other hand. "I made myself available in case you woke up needing assistance. Do you want anything to eat or drink?"

"Water is fine." Mora scooted himself closer to the head of the mattress and adjusted the bed into a semi-sitting position. His lower back roared in protest at the disturbance. He sucked a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "Are Kira and Kejal back yet?"

"Yes." Odo handed him a cool glass of water from the replicator.

"Ah, thank you." Mora took three sips. "I need to speak with Aleexa."

"I'll get her."

"I appreciate it." He winked one eye shut. "By the way, Odo...your mothering instincts never really go away, do they?"

Odo stopped and looked over his shoulder. "No, I, um, suppose they don't."

A few minutes after Odo left, Aleexa slipped in. As always, her brown eyes shone with compassion.

"Pol, how do you feel?"

Mora sighed. "I have to admit, the pain is still there." He tightened his lips and voiced the question he feared asking. "Aleexa, is it going to be like this from now on despite your efforts?"

Aleexa sat by the bed and rubbed his arm. "No. Finding the right combination of meds and herbs might take time, but there's no way I'll let you lay there in agony. I have other medications on-hand if you want to try them. Is the metorapan touching it at all right now?"

"No. It worked for an hour. Now I feel like I have nothing in my system."

"All right." She leaned forward. "Remember, you have a minor infection that's adding to the chronic inflammation. Let's try morphenolog for awhile. It's a little stronger than metorapan. It won't make you sleepy at all, and we can easily go back to the metorapan after the excess inflammation is dealt with."

Mora nodded, desperate to be comfortable again. "I'll give it a shot."

"Then I'll go get it." Aleexa patted his hand. She got her knitted white knapsack and took out a small cloth roll full of hyposprays. "Here we are."

Mora turned his head to let her administer it. The sharp aching in his back slowly dwindled until it only felt like pressure. How odd, he could practically feel the shape of his kidney!

"I see it's working. Your face changed."

"It is." He reached for the glass of water and took a generous drink. "Oh, Aleexa, thank you...this is so much better."

"Just doing my job." Aleexa smiled. "And extra fluids will help your body flush out the infection, so drink up."

"Anything to help get past this. Ahh..." He pointed, "I think I'll finish that smoothie now."

"Oh! I forgot it was there." Aleexa giggled, sliding it into his open hand.

Mora sipped the sweet, fruity concoction. Letting it warm to room temperature didn't affect its taste. "You should be a chef."

"Oh, pfft, there are dozens of Talaxian chefs already. They don't need another one. I wouldn't be talking to the likes of you if I was a chef catering somebody's wedding."

"Aleexa, you sell yourself short." Mora lifted his smoothie glass. "This is delicious. And who knows? You might feed a wedding party someday."

"That would be the day." Aleexa's cheeks turned a nice shade of pink. Then she paused and blinked. "Before I forget-- Kejal said I need to hand this to you."

She passed him a deka seed pod. He looked at it and laughed.

"One of these days..." Mora finished off the smoothie. "...I will get revenge for all the seed pod pranks he's pulled."

Suddenly, the seed pod shimmered and grew. There sat Kejal on the edge of the bed. "Boo."

"Kejal!"

Kejal grinned. "What's this about 'revenge' I hear?"

Amused, Mora mussed up Kejal's hair. "Telling you would spoil my plans before I make them."

"Hmph!"

Aleexa folded her arms, watching them. "You two are a pair."

"He's the weird one," said Kejal.

"Don't listen to him." Mora countered.

The baffled look on Aleexa's face made them both chuckle.

Afterward, Kejal sobered and focused on Mora's face. "How are you feeling, father?"

"Better, thanks to Aleexa."

Aleexa patted his hand and quietly slipped out of the bedroom.

Kejal laid down next to Mora. "What happened earlier?"

"It's a minor infection in my left kidney. The additional swelling is causing more pain than usual. Aleexa already has it taken care of. I'm fine." Mora smoothed Kejal's hair back into order. "Did you have fun earlier?"

"Yes." Kejal's face lit up. "I found mom the best dress in the store. Mother's eyes are going to-- " he stuck his index finger in his mouth and pushed it out, causing a popping noise, " --right out of his head when he sees her. Then I tried walking in high heels, and-- "

"You what?"

"I was curious. I fell and went splat. I don't know how women do it. Do you think they emit alternating gravimetric fields?"

The mental image left Mora laughing so much his back started to protest. "What makes you think that?"

"Because the female species does a lot of things we can't explain."

"That they do." Mora laid his head back against the pillows with a heavy sigh. He didn't feel well, but he knew saying so would upset Kejal.

"Do you need anything, father?"

"Mm, stay with me for a little while...that is all I need." He closed his eyes. "If I fall asleep again, wake me before Odo and Nerys leave-- I want to see them all dressed up."

Kejal's expression softened. He curled up with his head on Mora's shoulder. "You got it."

Mora smiled and relaxed.

.o

Odo morphed his clothing into a dashing tuxedo. His hair smoothed itself out as he walked into Doctor Mora's bedroom. Late afternoon sun streamed into the window, casting an oblong shape across the opposite wall. It gave the room a warm golden glow.

"Ah, so that is a tuxedo," said Doctor Mora. "Odo, you look fantastic."

"Thank you." Odo adjusted his jacket sleeves. "I'm sure you would look just as good in one yourself."

Kejal peeked in. "She's coming. Mother? Face the window."

Odo did so, licking his lips. He ran a hand over his hair and waited.

Something rustled in the doorway. Doctor Mora took a sharp intake of air.

Kira's voice spoke. "Odo?"

Odo turned. His eyes almost bugged out. The dark burgundy dress fit Kira's body like a glove. She'd pulled her hair back into a bun with delicate hair sticks. Her lips were painted luscious red. And her eyes, so dark and dynamic, expressed everything he loved about her.

No woman in the universe was more beautiful than Kira Nerys.

It was several seconds before Odo remembered how to speak.

"N-Nerys..." He cracked a smile and didn't hide it. "You look beautiful."

"Thank you."

They met at the foot of Doctor Mora's bed. Odo kissed her lightly on the lips, careful not to smear her lipstick. Kira beamed and straightened his bow tie.

"Hey, handsome," she winked. "Ready to go?"

"If you are." Odo winked back. He glanced at Doctor Mora.

"Fantastic," Doctor Mora grinned, pressing his hands together. "Kejal, make sure you take a holo-image before they leave."

"Are you kidding? I'm recording right now." Kejal pointed to the holographic camera. He aimed it at Doctor Mora.

Doctor Mora held up a hand, laughing. "Oh, don't point that at me. I look awful."

Kejal smiled, refocusing on Odo and Kira. "Have fun, kids."

Kira chuckled and gently tugged Odo's hand. "We need to go if we want to be on time for our reservation."

"Yes, of course." Odo noticed the hover-tram pulling up outside. "The tram is here."

Doctor Mora pushed himself up on his elbows. He did look terrible, but it didn't dampen his spirits. "Have a nice night, you two."

"Take care of yourself." Odo nodded to Doctor Mora. He smirked at Kejal. "Stay out of trouble, and contact us if anything drastic happens before we return."

Kejal nodded once. "I got this, mother. Mom? I told you mother's eyes would bug out."

Kira laughed. "They sure did, didn't they?" She gave him a hug. "I'll see you later."

Odo offered Kira his arm and they stepped outside. He held the tram door open for Kira. Once they were both inside the vehicle, he couldn't avoid looking her over again.

"What?" She caught him staring.

He cleared his throat and fidgeted with the gold cufflinks he just formed on his sleeves. "I'm sitting next to the loveliest woman in the world. Forgive me for admiring you."

Her cheeks turned pinker. "Well, I'm sharing a tram with the most dashing man on Bajor." She touched his hand. "Forgive me for admiring you right back."

Their eyes locked and they both snorted at the same time.

"Too much?" Odo asked.

She slapped his shoulder. "You say that like it's a bad thing."

They went quiet and held hands for the rest of the trip.

Odo glanced up when the tram pulled in next to the Ital's front entrance. He got out and opened Kira's door for her. Then he repeated the gesture on the door leading into the restaurant. They walked through a vine-encrusted foyer and stepped onto the wooden platform of the outdoor eating area.

Strings of lights decorated the perimeter. A crystalline chandelier hung off a beam to mark the exact center of the glossy dance floor. The dance floor itself glowed with thousands of tiny, twinkling LED's that brightened whenever someone stepped on them.

Odo approached the impeccably dressed Bajoran standing behind a podium. "Good evening. There should be a reservation for two under the name Odo."

The Maitre d' consulted his PADD, smiled and nodded. "Right this way."

He led Kira and Odo towards a secluded table by the railing. It offered a lovely view of the river, the bridge and...

Odo's substance ran cold. The Bajoran Institute of Science loomed like a shadow from the past. He hadn't seen that structure since he left it so many years ago. The triangular white fixtures illuminating its front entrance were accusing eyes glaring at him. He wanted to shrink from it and disappear.

"Odo?" Kira hedged. "Odo, are you all right?"

"Hm? Oh. Yes." Odo pulled himself together. He eased her chair out for her and didn't sit down until she did. Once they were seated, the building was out of his immediate view.

The Maitre d' lit the tall centerpiece candle and handed them gold-trimmed PADDS containing the menu.

"Would you like to start the evening with a drink?"

"Springwine for me, please," said Kira.

"And you, sir?"

"The same." Odo replied.

"Coming right up." The Maitre d' departed from their table.

Kira's attire and face became more spectacular as the sunset progressed. The candle softened her features and reflected the fire always burning behind her eyes. Odo once again found himself amazed by her inner beauty radiating to the surface.

She asked, "So, you eat and drink now?"

"Er, sort of. I don't want to disgust you with the details, but yes. I still can't taste or smell." Odo glanced at the menu. "So, what will you be having tonight?"

Kira smiled and studied hers. "Ooh! They have shrimp sautéed with klavaatu. I've always wanted to try that."

Odo chuckled. "Then I will have the same and experience it with you."

The Maitre d' turned over the wineglasses on the table and poured the pale blue springwine. "Are you ready to order?"

Kira's eyes tilted when she smiled. Odo nodded to her silent request. She said, "Odo and I will have the shrimp and klavaatu sauté."

"Ah, a nice choice." He reached for their menus. "Your meals will be out shortly."

Odo gestured his thanks. Kira sipped her wine.

Off to the side, a small orchestra played tasteful classical music.

"So," she set the glass down. "You look like you saw a ghost."

The subject made Odo shift in his seat. He folded his hands around his wineglass. "The building over my shoulder is the Bajoran Institute of Science. Where I...began, and something I hoped to never see again."

Sympathy crossed her features. She reached across the table and touched his hand. "I don't mind going somewhere else if it bothers y-- "

"No, no, Nerys, it's all right." Odo managed a small smile and rubbed her knuckles. "I didn't realize it was right across the river. Don't let my past demons spoil your evening. It's been three decades since we had a night like this, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

At that, Kira lifted her glass. "Then let's toast to the here and now. I don't want to be anywhere else."

Smiling, Odo raised his glass and tapped it against hers. "To here and now."

Together, they sipped. Their food arrived moments later. Ten large shrimp arranged in a circle around a bowl with chopped klavaatu and some sort of lettuce decorating the center.

Odo didn't have the faintest clue how to begin eating such a meal. He awkwardly took one of the shrimp off Kira's plate and held it up to her lips. She giggled, guided his hand to dip it in the juice and took a bite.

"Mm!" Her eyes closed in delight. "It's sweet and a little tangy. Do you remember the margaritas you tried while you were a humanoid?"

"Oh...yes. Doctor Bashir's birthday party. Sisko hosted, and I remember I liked his homemade margaritas so much I was too drunk to walk. Then I woke up in my quarters with no idea of how I got there."

"Someone helped you." She smiled and sipped her wine. "Me."

"It was you?"

Her expression sobered. "You were mumbling and upset. I couldn't leave you alone like that. I wish I'd known you were talking about me."

Gulping, Odo fiddled with the stem of his wineglass. "What did I say?"

"You mentioned loving a woman who loved someone else. That you wished you had the courage to come out and tell her. Um..." She bit into a slice of fruit. "I'm sorry for not telling you. I figured being that drunk was embarrassing enough. Alcohol does things to people."

Now Odo longed to ooze under the table. "I didn't try anything on you, did I?"

She shook her head. "I held you until you fell asleep. You needed someone, and I was there. Friends take care of friends."

Odo dipped a piece of shrimp and stuck it in his mouth. It felt wet and spongy when he chewed it up. Not his favorite texture, but not awful either.

"Before I was humanoid, I spent a lot of time wondering why people purposely intoxicated themselves in Quark's bar. Then I got drunk, and it all made sense. Liquor took away my ability to care about how miserable I felt, but it was still there, waiting for me after I sobered up. It wasn't worth it." He set his shrimp down and smiled ruefully. "I know this is late, but...thank you for being there, Nerys."

Kira's grin reached all the way to the corners of her eyes. Odo loved it when she made that face.

She finished her food. Odo asked to have his boxed. He consumed enough to be polite, but he figured someone with taste buds might appreciate the leftovers more. Nobody noticed him discretely dangling his foot over the side of the wooden platform. Everything he ate went right into the water below.

"I heard Kejal sing today." Kira tilted her head. "It was beautiful. The tram driver liked it so much he waived the fee."

That made Odo shake his head in amusement. "Kejal has always been musically inclined. I don't know where he got it. Certainly not from my genes."

"Really? He mentioned Pol having a good voice."

Odo shrugged. "I've never heard Doctor Mora sing anything. My first exposure to music was someone at the lab singing a lullaby every night during lights-out. I wish I knew who it was, because he did it nicely. I looked forward to hearing it."

Kira finished her wine. "Could have been a Prophet watching over you."

He made a face, which won a snicker out of her.

The musicians started a slow Bajoran waltz. Kira's favorite classical piece, simply titled Into The Light.

Odo stood, offering Kira his hand. "Nerys, may I have this dance?"

Kira set her napkin on the tabletop and accepted his invitation. He pulled her close. They swayed together amid the twinkling lights and candles.

And nothing else mattered.

"Odo?"

"Yes, Nerys?"

"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's meant to be yours." She gazed into his eyes. "You came back to me."

"Mm...I did, but I won't be staying."

"The point is you're here with me. It doesn't matter if you can't stay long. Here we are."

Odo smiled, twirled her and led her into a chaste kiss. "I certainly have no complaints."

She mirrored his expression. Then her face grew serious.

"Odo, we're still as much in love now as we were when we said goodbye."

Truer words had never been spoken.

"I really believe we're meant for each other," she went on. "I've thought about this since you left, and I regretted that we never did it while we were together. It's time. Let's get married, Odo."

Odo's mind did a wipe-rewind. He missed a step in the waltz and barely avoided tripping over Kira's feet.

"Married?" He blinked. "Nerys, I'm still making peace within the Dominion. I want this. Oh, you have no idea how much I dreamed of it. But we may be apart for years at a time. Perhaps even decades. How can a marriage work that way?"

"Nobody said it's going to be easy. And didn't you tell Laas once that the fact that it isn't easy is what makes it worthwhile?"

She took his hands. Her eyes held only tenderness.

"I have no intention of falling in love with anyone else. I want to be yours, and I want you to be mine. Knowing we have that bond-- even if we have to wait decades to see each other-- that's enough for me. I love you, Odo."

Odo nearly forgot how to mimic breathing. This moment made him more nervous than any other of his lifetime.

They both knew the time they had together was short at best. She had duties aboard Deep Space Nine, and he still had a lot of work to do with the Dominion to undo the damage it caused. Neither occupation allowed much time away. And there was the matter of her short lifespan compared to his biological immortality. One day, she would be gone from him.

Somehow, we will make this work. Just like she said. We always make it work. Don't worry about the future...just live now!

Odo looked up at the elaborate chandelier above the dance floor and prepared himself. Then he sank slowly to one knee, gazing up at Kira with promises shining in his clear blue eyes, and asked the question he only voiced in his dreams.

"Kira Nerys..." He squeezed her hand. "Will you marry me?"

Kira's lips quivered. She answered without hesitation. "Yes, Odo."

Odo rose up, wrapped his arms about her waist and spun her around once. Afterward, they shared a breathless kiss under the stars.

He didn't notice the other patrons in the restaurant until the applause started.

"You know the planning is going to be hell, right?"

"Maybe." She kissed him again and let her forehead touch his. "Let's do it while Pol is still with us. I think seeing you get married will mean a lot to him."

Getting everything ready on such short notice meant utter chaos. "It would, but it's still going to be hell."

"Doesn't that make it more fun?" Kira gave his hands a squeeze, and her smile outshone the candles. "Come on. Dance now...we'll talk more on the way home."

.o

Assuming the shape of a PADD took no effort. Kejal loved this game, and he was glad to see Mora feeling strong enough to play it with him.

Footsteps shuffled into the living room. They went right past the table.

"Hm..." Mora's voice was a vibration. "You're the chair cushion, aren't you?"

Nope.

"No? Well then...aha."

Kejal sensed Mora heading towards the kitchen. Two more guesses before he could reveal himself.

"Oh, hidden well this time. You aren't the countertop, are you?"

Try again!

Finally, the scrape-scrape of feet approached the back door.

"Are you the door sensor again?"

Kejal concentrated on his humanoid shape. Arms, legs, a torso and a head. He reformed sitting on the table, grinning.

"Gotcha."

"Ah! I should have guessed the PADD."

Kejal chuckled. "I hid the original."

He pulled the real PADD out of a drawer and set it on the table.

"You scoundrel." Mora snapped his fingers in mock annoyance. "I should have guessed!"

"No rule states I can't move an object and replace it," Kejal said smugly. "Classic infiltration trick."

The front door hissed on its housing. Kira and Odo stepped in holding hands, and the invisible bubble surrounding them excluded everything else. They looked absolutely starry-eyed.

Kejal hurried to take the box of leftovers Kira carried. He made a face at the contents and stuffed them in the cooling unit under the kitchen counter.

Mora eased himself into the chair by the oval window. "Well, well, you two aren't in love at all, are you? How was dinner?"

"Dinner was great," said Kira. She leaned against Odo, smiling.

"Yes it was. I'm glad you two are here together." Odo added. He kissed Kira's cheek and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Kejal, Doctor Mora...Nerys and I have decided to get married."

Mora sat up straight. "Really?"

"Mother? Mom?" Kejal mirrored his father's posture. "You mean it?"

"Yeah." Kira was practically glowing. "If everything works out and I can get the extra time off, we'll have the wedding a month from today." She knelt down in front of Mora and gently touched his knee. "We want you there, and I want you to pass my hand to Odo's at the ceremony."

Nodding, Mora clasped her hand between his. "I'm honored."

Odo bumped Kejal's shoulder with his own. "I want you to be the dais bearer...and I'd like you to sing."

"Mother? Really?" Kejal jumped into Odo's arms and kissed his cheek, laughing. "I'll do anything you want for this wedding. It's going to be great!"

In response, Odo plopped Kejal down on the couch. "You're heavy."

"And you're noticeably less grumpy."

Odo offered a fake scowl. "Hmph!"

Kira sat down beside Kejal, smiling. "I'll really be your mom. Mother-in-law, technically, but..."

"You'll be mom to me whether you're married or not." Kejal hugged her, laying his head on her shoulder. "I always wanted to be in a wedding."

"It's going to be wonderful." She patted his arm. "I need to get out of this dress. It's comfortable out in the cold, but it's hot in this nice, warm house."

Chuckling, Kejal let her go. Odo followed her.

Then Kejal faced Mora, held up his hands and pretended to scream at the top of the lungs he didn't have.

"They're getting married!"

"Married!" Mora replied. The smile on his face was one Kejal would never forget. "From a viscous mass in a jar to a man about to wed the woman he loves." He shook his head, sighing. "Incredible. This is just incredible. Kejal, help me up. I need to lie down again...I don't think I'll sleep-- not after news like that!"

"Nobody will!" Kejal helped his father onto his feet and led him into the bedroom. "I'm going to regenerate for a little while. Will you be okay?"

"Mmhmm...I'm going to work on my treatise." Mora reached for a PADD on the bedside table. He stopped for a moment, wide-eyed and tense. The odd look disappeared into another soft chuckle. "Married...heh, heh, heh!"

Kejal, grinning ear to ear, bounded out of Mora's bedroom and into the living room. His excitement actually made it hard to hold his humanoid form, and letting it go was bliss.

A short while later, he sensed his mother joining him. Time became fluid as they exchanged feelings of joy and wonder.

Mother! You're really getting married!

I never thought I would...if not for Doctor Mora's illness, we wouldn't be in the Alpha quadrant at all.

It's the work of the Prophets.

Or it's just a lucky coincidence.

You have your beliefs and I have mine.

I can't argue with that.

...Kejal, do you sense that noise?

What n-- yes, I felt it that time.

It's Doctor Mora. Something is wrong.

Oh no
.

Quick footsteps padded into the living room.

"Odo? Kejal?" Kira tapped on what ended up being Kejal's surface. "I heard a bang. I think Pol fell in his room."

Kejal broke the link with his mother and quickly reassumed his humanoid shape. Beside him, Odo did the same.

A raspy shout sounded behind Mora's closed bedroom door. Kejal never heard his father yell like that, not even when angry. He pushed between Kira and Odo and keyed the code to open the door.

The bedside table lay on its side, spilling PADDS and a water glass across the floor. Mora was on his hands and knees. He still had his right hand on the table's corner. His free hand clutched at the left side of his lower back.

"Father!" Kejal knelt. "Father, I'm here. Tell me how to help."

"Call-- Aleexa-- please, now!" Mora said through gritted teeth. "Medicine...not-- helping!"

Odo got right on the comm system. Aleexa answered after two hails.

"Aleexa, it's Odo. Doctor Mora collapsed. He says the medicine isn't helping his pain."

"Can he walk?"

"No. He fell."

"Get him into the bathroom and run a hot bath. As hot as he can stand it. I'll be right there to assess."

"What will that do?"

"It'll help him relax. Tension and stress worsen pain."

"...all right."

Kira wrapped a shawl around her shoulders. "What can I do?"

"Keep an ear out for Aleexa." Kejal scooped Mora up into his arms and carried him into the bathroom. He heard Odo explaining the situation behind him.

"It's all right, father." Kejal whispered. "Can you get your clothing off?"

Mora barely managed to strip off his nightshirt. He wore nothing else underneath. Kejal gave him a towel to cover up before he helped him into the tub. Mora did not appear to care about his state of undress. As a man of high dignity, that spoke of his pain louder than anything.

Odo reached over Kejal's head to turn on the bath. The drain plugged automatically and steam soon filled the room.

"Aleexa is on her way." Kejal rubbed his father's arm.

"I'm not prepared for this much pain!" Mora gasped. "Not like this! Oh, it's starting agai-- " He pressed his forehead against the side of the tub, " --augh, dammit!"

Kejal shut off the water. Mora couldn't stand any position other than laying curled up on his right side. Kejal laid his arm on the edge of the tub to give him somewhere to rest his head.

"Odo-- if your labor-- was this painful-- I c-can see why you-- struggled-- before you relaxed..."

"That was an entirely different situation, Doctor Mora." Odo knelt beside Kejal. "Is the hot water helping?"

"A little...oof..." Mora's breathing accelerated again.

Odo leaned over and took Mora's hand. "Don't try to speak. Focus on relaxing. Aleexa will be here shortly."

Mora nodded once, closing his eyes.

"Aleexa is here." Kira whispered. "I'll go let her in."

Moments later, Aleexa slipped into the bathroom wearing a dark orange nightgown and slippers.

"All right, sweetie, let's have a look." She wasted no time hiking up her nightgown's skirt to kneel between Kejal and Odo. Her tricorder ran silently.

Kejal's jaw dropped at the reading. Mora's left kidney was twice its normal size! He felt sympathy pains in his own lower back, and he didn't even have internal organs.

"Pol? Are you with me?"

"Yes..." Mora panted. "What's happening to me?"

"The antibiotics I gave you aren't strong enough. The infection is getting worse. Your left ureter is completely blocked by swelling. It's causing a condition called hydronephrosis."

"I know what that is. Can you help?"

"Yes, Pol. This requires more intensive treatments than I can give you here. I need to transport you to a medical facility."

Grimacing, Mora gripped her wrist. "Can they stop the pain?"

"Definitely. They'll put you in a specialized biobed and block the nerve impulses responsible for your pain. You'll get stronger antibiotics to take care of this kidney infection. Aw, sweetie..." She stroked his shoulder. "I said I'd get you through any pain you have. You're going to be feeling better in a few minutes."

Kira passed a faded old bathrobe into the bathroom. Mora pulled the plug in the tub and Aleexa covered him with the robe once the water drained out.

Aleexa spoke into her combadge. "Palliative unit, we have an incoming pain emergency. Requesting transport." She handed out reflective white stickers full of circuitry. "I'll get him transported, and then I'll have the rest of you transported. These will help the facility lock onto you, so don't lose them."

"Understood." Odo nodded.

Kejal leaned over and kissed the top of Mora's head. "Don't leave me, father."

Mora touched his hand. "I'm not leaving you yet. I have a wedding to attend...ooh," his face contorted. "It's coming back again."

"Wedding?" Aleexa spoke as the transporter beam made her and Mora shimmer into nothingness.

Kejal hid his face against Odo's shoulder. Kira leaned on his back.

Ten minutes later, everyone else was transported directly to Mora's location.

The room didn't look like a hospital at all. A large window overlooked the city, and the walls were painted warm brown like deka tree bark. Soft recessed lighting lined the crown molding in the ceiling.

The only visible medical device was the casket-like bed. Mora looked so small in it, but he appeared much more comfortable. He wore a purple standard issue hospital gown and his robe hung on a hook in the corner.

Aleexa joined them. "I had him sedated to make him more comfortable. He might be groggy for awhile. We were able to find out the exact bacteria causing the infection and we're adjusting his antibiotics accordingly. He'll be just fine in a few days."

"Thank you." Kejal said shakily. "What exactly is hydro-- what was it again?"

"Hydronephrosis is kidney swelling due to urine backup."

"Ew."

"You asked." Odo snorted. He peered at Mora. "Perhaps we should return to the house and visit in the morning."

Kejal hung his head. "You can go. I want to stay."

"I don't see how it will help anything."

"Mother, I want to be here if he wakes up."

"Odo," Kira kept her voice low, "let him stay. We'll come back tomorrow."

"What about visiting hours?" asked Odo.

Aleexa examined the monitors above the bed. "There aren't any in this wing of the facility. This is the section for terminal patients. We never turn away family. Kejal is welcome to stay if he wants to."

Terminal. The word cut through Kejal like a phaser.

Mora opened his eyes. They didn't quite focus. "Odo."

"Doctor Mora?" Odo approached his bedside. "I'm here."

"Yes," he smiled slightly. "When you return to my house, look for a small white box in the chest under the oval window. You'll find something that should go to someone I will soon consider a daughter-in-law."

Kira blushed at that.

"A small white box? Very well." Odo patted Mora's shoulder. "You should rest. We'll see you again in the morning."

"Thank you." Mora replied, his eyes already fluttering shut.

Kira lightly touched Odo's arm. They stepped back onto the transporter pad and Kejal heard them shimmer away.

Chapter End Notes:
**Chapter soundtrack**

Another Dream: https://app.box.com/s/svck27fhsk4wzvwvyq5p

Odo and Kira's Evening: https://app.box.com/s/3soyv1tvaingu8hm5z4b

Mora's Disaster: https://app.box.com/s/pvdthpeon1ex9a3u30ftr

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