It was 1995 and I was attempting to write a spec script for Star Trek: DS9 in my spare time—just to see if script writing was something I wanted to do. The Internet was new to my household that year and I had just moved in with my first girlfriend. Our laughable “second bedroom” (note: it was a closet with a window and was painted Institutional Puke Green) became our office and contained my Gateway computer.
I entered search words into the Yahoo search engine (this was pre-Google), looking for examples of DS9 scripts. Instead, up popped a story called “Choices” by Patricia L. Givens. Within seconds of reading the disclaimer, I was hooked.
In the interest of full disclosure, I never really shipped Kira/Dax. I read this story by Patricia, wrote a ridiculous and unpublished one of my own, but my heart wasn’t in that pairing. I wasn’t a huge DS9 fan and—while Kira was my favorite character—I didn’t see her with Dax. My preferred pairing for Kira was Deanna Troi. (I wrote one of those, too—also unpublished. It was very, very dark. So was I, at the time.)
I printed “Choices” by Patricia, stapled it neatly, and put it in my filing cabinet. The story made it through several moves intact before finally being lost somewhere along the way. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to open one of a dozen random boxes still stored at my parents’ house and find it now.
What I didn’t realize at the time, but found out this past Sunday, was that “Choices” was Patricia’s first piece of published fanfiction. I would never have known that from the instant hook, the terrific pacing, the deft blend of humor and angst, and the absolute plausibility of the plot line. It was and is a good story.
Later in 1995, I was to discover the stories of Missy Good, the television show they were based on (Xena: Warrior Princess), and a new Star Trek franchise (Star Trek: Voyager began that year). By 1998, I was single again, living alone in Charlotte, NC, and spending nearly all my spare time writing Voyager fanfiction. Patricia was part of that movement, too, penning many, many J/7 stories. Her ability to write so many stories so quickly and cleanly is something I still admire. My wife, the amazing Lisa Countryman, also shares that ability. I, painfully, do not.
Eventually, I parted ways with the J/7 Voyager community to begin VJB and the B/7 community. Lisa Countryman came along with me; Patricia stayed with HerCaptain and the J/7 group. Life intervened and I lost touch with both Patricia and Lisa. VJB stayed alive due to the heroic efforts of Rachel of “Passion & Perfection” fame and was still a vibrant community when I returned to lead it again a few years later.
Lisa had moved on, too, and we--all three--penned stories in other fandoms, cognizant of each other only through what we were writing.
I should have known the wildfire of Otalia that swept through the lesbian fanfiction community a few years ago would bring me back into contact with DAx.
She became one of the most revered and prolific of all Otalia writers and I was lucky enough to be considered an elder along with her and Fewthistle, so much so that we three recorded a podcast with Allaine about writing and fanfiction and Otalia. It was an honor to be counted among such stars of our community.
“The Courtship of Emma’s Mother” shortly became the only Otalia unfinished epic that I followed until the time that Lisa Countryman re-entered my life and Otalia slowly faded away.
I think that’s why I’ve been having such a difficult time with the news that DAx is gone. Though we never met, her writing, her presence, has been a part of my life in one way or another for over 15 years now. She literally introduced me to the concept of Internet-published fanfiction and inspired me to publish my own. She was a part of several of the largest fanfiction communities at the same time I was. She was one of the writers that I admired and wanted to emulate.
Even our personal stories paralleled strangely with cross-country moves, professions in health care, and marriages all playing part at nearly the same time. I moved from North Carolina to California in 2011 to be with Lisa Countryman. Patricia’s wife had moved from her hometown on the East Coast a year before. Lisa became a nurse; Patricia’s career in health care was well known amongst those of us that followed her on Twitter. Patricia and her wife married late in 2012; Lisa and I married in July of 2013.
And now Patricia—DAx—is gone.
On Sunday, there was an impromptu and very sweet gathering of the Otalians in an old chatroom we had populated back at the height of the fever after the news spread about DAx’s death. Two of my Otalian friends, both of whom I have had the pleasure of knowing personally and virtually, invited me to attend. I should have gone.
I didn’t. I couldn’t.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what had happened and what little we knew. I couldn’t understand how DAx could be gone, how a single Tweet could herald such a deep and unsettling loss. I still cannot fathom the agony now suffered by her wife and her family. The hard lump in my throat that accompanies me still wouldn’t let me grieve with the community to which we both belonged.
I can still feel the tears pressed against the backs of my eyes. Ready. Waiting. I know that grief is necessary and good, somehow healing in its passage.
But there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to feel that grief, a part of me that is so very unwilling to write these few, inadequate words in tribute to a woman who was such a strange, intangible, wonderful part of my life and the lives of so many of us.
It hurts to let her go. It feels too soon.
But I am thankful, grateful to still have her stories. To know that she will be known by them and for them. That they are now her presence in the world.
I send my deep and sincere condolences to her wife and family and to all of you, her friends and fans, at this time of loss.
And I hope that DAx has found what we all hope—that death is not just an ending, but is also a beginning.
The beginning of some new adventure.
The beginning of a new, exciting existence.
The beginning of a new story, with an instant hook, terrific pacing, a deft blend of humor and angst, and absolute plausibility of plot line.
Write on, dear DAx. Write on.