Kira was on her way back from a day of work in Ops when she thought she spotted a Tribble in the wiring of the hallway. She blinked and it was gone. Her mind was playing tricks on her again. Nearly a week had passed since the Tribble infestation had been handled on the station of DS9. Of course, no one would confess to being the source of it, but it was obvious someone had brought at least one of the critters back from their mission to protect the time line of the original Enterprise starship. Knowingly or unknowingly, they had committed Time Crime.
The balls of cute fluff known as Tribbles were notoriously prolific. Within twenty four hours of being brought to their new environment, there were hundreds of them throughout the Promenade. Even Odo had been overwhelmed. Molly had grabbed a handful of them and tried to take them home. She threw a huge fit when Keiko snatched them away. Miles tried to explain why but the little girl wailed she had always wanted a dog. Why not the space equivalent of a giant hamster or a rabbit with no ears?
Kira had never had a pet. Plants didn't quite count. She had tried to keep a little garden snake at Singha and her father refused. What was she supposed to feed him with anyway? She had to focus on survival all her life, including her early childhood. Pets were not allowed on the station anyway.
"More than one person must have smuggled multiple Tribbles here!" Odo said. "It's impossible for a single Tribble to have reproduced exponentially like this! I refuse to believe it!"
"Constable!" Worf growled. "I didn't have the chance to explain before why Tribbles were such an ecological threat and why my people declared war on them! They are absolutely capable of asexual reproduction and it is nearly all they do. They are born pregnant and half their metabolism is dedicated to making more of itself! They are a plague unless neutered."
"Oh!" Odo's face fell. "Well, then we must gather them together and have them neutered ASAP!"
"It's too late for that! You must allow me to exterminate them!"
"Exterminate?" Odo usually never stammered. "The creatures are so harmless-"
"This is a large station, but we are floating in space with limited resources. It is a monstrosity of mixed alien technologies. There are wires exposed in places, untapped food caches, many hidey holes and potential nests of these critters. Some species are allergic to their fur and dander. They are a security threat level: Dangerous! Every hour, the creatures double their numbers. Don't be soft! Let the Klingon do the dirty work."
Odo tried to appeal to Captain Sisko, but he nodded at Worf. The former Changeling looked terribly conflicted. He hated violence and the murder of animals was hard to accept for any reason. He had no choice, though, and he stepped aside and put his face in his hands as he sat down at the conference table. Worf let out a battle cry and the staff left the tortured man alone.
All except Kira. She silently slipped her hands around his shoulders. He flinched a little at her touch. It wasn't skin to skin contact, but her touch was always significant to him.
"I'm sorry," she said near his ear, "for startling you and I know you hate that Worf is right. I understand. Tribbles are adorable pets if neutered in time. I wish there was a better solution."
"Me too," he sighed and relished the sensation of her.
If only I… he banished his thoughts from his head before finishing them. Eventually Kira left him alone.
The Klingon had done his job well. The infestation was declared over and Kira was almost as depressed as Odo was about the whole affair. She decided to pay him a visit and knocked on his door.
"I'm busy!" she heard him bark from within.
"Constable, it's your Major!" she answered. "I'm just checking up on you."
"Major Kira?" he sounded delighted and then his tone went flat in the next breath. "Give me exactly five minutes."
"Why?" she knew her friend was precise and odd, but she was suspicious.
"It's a personal matter."
"Odo, I order you to open this door!"
"Five!" she began a countdown.
"If you would just-"
He opened the door and seized her arm. She wasn't expecting to be grabbed. He was lucky she reacted with puzzlement instead of a defensive punch to his Adam's apple. She let out a small sound of surprise and he half dragged her within his quarters. Then he put a finger to his lips.
"What has gotten into you?"
He gazed at her with his blue eyes full of shame. She became very serious. She projected her voice as softly and gently as possible. She hated seeing any distress in those beautiful eyes.
"Odo, you know you can tell me anything, right? You are my best friend."
He couldn't help but smile and his eyes lit up like a child's, "I thought that honor belonged to Dax or Shakaar."
"Dax is a close second. Shakaar is my lover. You are special, Odo."
She had no idea how happy that made him! He couldn't hide or deny anything now!
"I must show you something."
He gestured to his bedroom and Kira nearly hesitated. She had never gone in there! Odo had only recently acquired such a room. As a Changeling, it was not a necessity for him. She found herself wondering what it must be like for him to sleep. Did he have as much trouble as she did falling to sleep? Did he dream? What did he dream about?
She heard distinctive sounds coming from his pillow case. He produced a ball of fluff with a bashful look. Kira's eyes went wide as saucers and her jaw dropped.
"Odo, you're hiding a Tribble!"
"Worse, this it the original source of the infestation."
"Odo!" she couldn't believe her ears!
"It's quite alright. This little thing is sterile now. I took care of that myself."
"But pets aren't allowed! You know that! Why am I telling you? Worf would blow up if he knew about this! Sisko would reprimand you and have you reported for Time Crime! Oh, Odo!"
She sighed and he averted his eyes. He stroked the fuzz ball and it made crooning sounds. Kira couldn't help but feel pity and a sympathetic half smile and half frown dominated her face. She thought of Molly crying her eyes out and of her younger self begging her father to let her keep her little garden snake. She saw the same heartbreak in Odo's eyes.
"Why would you break your own rules?" she asked.
"I didn't know about their biology. This little creature seemed so harmless. He liked me. He makes such soothing sounds. I guess I wanted something to love and love me back."
Kira smiled so fiercely it hurt the muscles of her face. She gave Odo a big, warm hug around his middle and told him, "I promise I won't tell anyone! But you have to promise to partner with me for my Lamaze classes. Shakaar can't be here for them and things are getting a little awkward with Miles. Deal?"
"I would do anything for you, Kira."
She rose and left, but for a brief moment, she had been on his bed with him. Odo kept stroking his new pet and grinning like a fool.
"I guess pets can attract women!" he spoke to the creature. "I think I'll have sweet dreams tonight. What about you? Do Tribbles dream?"
The ball of fur responded with the sounds he liked.
"I love that woman," Odo confessed about. "Don't tell anyone!"