Ezri scoffed in disgust. “Joran, why do you care? Why are you, of all people, so concerned about my love life?”
“For the simple reason, Ezri, that this ‘break-up’ of yours is a perfect illustration of my point regarding your power.”
“Specifically…how you do in fact use it…without even realizing it.”
Ezri shook her head. “Joran…you’re incredible.”
“I try to be. And while you’re searching for your true reasons, consider: You encounter a man who is smitten with you. And eventually, you find that you posses a subconscious attraction for him, as well. Now…you proceed to form a relationship with him—and for a while, it goes smoothly. Now…when did the first sign of trouble appear?”
Ezri stood where she was, refusing to move away, refusing to break under this pressure. “I suppose…it was around the time I transferred to command track—when I started to really explore my past hosts….”
“Well, one night, when we were alone together, Julian saw Jadzia in my eyes, and—”
“Oh, ‘Julian saw’, did he?”
“That fact-twisting may have worked for him, Ezri, but I want what really happened.”
Ezri rolled her eyes in frustration. “All right—I conjured her up because I was reminded of some incident involving her. I briefly became her for a few seconds—which shocked him, to say the least.”
“He expressed…concerns about bringing…others into our relationship—”
“You can’t really blame him.”
“Well, I did, and it drove him away for a little while…until an accident—”
“Ezri, what caused you two to reconcile is irrelevant to me. The important thing is…you twisted the facts until I pressed you, number one. Number two: you were, shall I say, ‘put off’ by his daring to question your decisions….”
“Joran, I made a mistake—”
“And what was the cause of that, my dear? The same thing that caused you to claim that the termination of your relationship was due to…your ‘growing apart’.”
Smiling, Joran stepped forward, stopping a foot away from her. “What’s wrong, Ezri? Afraid to face the truth?”
Ezri narrowed her eyes. “‘Truth’?”
Joran began to circle her, peering at her like a hawk analyzing its prey. “You were afraid, Ezri. Afraid of your feelings towards Bashir…afraid of his feelings towards you…and afraid of the…uncertainty…that such feelings could bring.”
Ezri felt the urge to shudder again, and mentally willed herself to keep still. “What do you mean?”
“They say, Ezri, that familiarity breeds contempt. But I submit that that is not the issue. The issue is: whether such familiarity holds you as the servant…or the master. If you are the one in control, familiarity is a very…useful thing. But if not….”
“Well, that may be how you view things, but…”
“Ezri…” Joan stood behind her shoulder, leaning to her ear, “Did it ever occur to you that, in the darkest corner of your heart…you could not accept him? That you felt him far too…independent for you—that you could not truly accept his love so long as his life did not ‘flow’ with yours…?”
Ezri stared directly ahead. “That’s enough.”
“…A clash of egos, erupting time and time again, without either of you even aware of this battle…until at long last…you won.”
Ezri slowly turned to him. “What do you mean…‘won’?”
“You broke him, Ezri. You broke his heart. How? Simple, really: how do you suppose a man would feel, upon hearing from the woman he believed to be the great love of his life…that that was not the case, that he was just a fraud, who deceived himself into thinking that what he felt was love, when it wasn’t? How do you think he would feel, upon ‘realizing’ that his apparent ‘misreading’ of his own feelings had hurt the woman of his life, that he was in fact just a selfish, vain individual. If that won’t break a man, than what will? My dear Ezri…do you think the Cardassians at their worst could come up with a greater torment than that?”
“Stop it!” Ezri shouted, backing away. “That’s not true—it’s not….”
“Why so frightened, Ezri?”
Ezri felt a dresser behind her. “Leave me alone—”
“Or what? You can’t do anything to me. How could you? After all…” as his voice lowered to a loud whisper, “…I’m part of you!”
Ezri reached for the first thing she could grab—and hurled it at Joran with all her might. The force of the blow knocked Joran off his feet, to the ground. The object—whatever it was—shattered to pieces nearby.
Joran did not move. He remained on the ground, apparently unconscious.
Ezri slowly walked over to his fallen form. “Joran…?”
And then…Joran’s eyes shot open. Slowly, he got up into a sitting position. His hand reached for the side of his face, where the object had hit him. “Good aim.”
Ezri stood there with her arms crossed, and shook her head in contempt. “I’d do it again, you know.”
“I don’t doubt it. But it wouldn’t change what I said…would it?”
Ezri stared down at him for a moment, and sighed. “No…I guess not.”
“Still…you had to let out your anger, and you did. You acted on instinct…and I’m proud of you for that.”
“What makes you think I want or need your approval?”
“You don’t. But I’ll express it nonetheless. Now…” Joran turned to the wreckage nearby. “…What was it that you threw, anyway?”
Ezri followed his gaze—and froze. No….
It was a glass sculpture—not very big, but noble in its own way. It wasn’t recognizably anything—just an abstract design. But she had been fond of it, ever since it had been given to her.
It had been a gift from….
No… She knelt before the pieces, and gently began to gather them all into a pile.
After a few seconds, Joran remarked in amusement:
“The good doctor gave that to you…didn’t he?”
Still staring at the wreckage of glass, Ezri swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes….”
It…it happened so fast…. Ezri, you idiot, why didn’t you look? Why didn’t you THINK before you—?
“Ezri…you do realize that none of this is real. Your little trinket is perfectly fine.”
Ezri felt a tear in her eye. When she could bring herself to respond, she found that she just barely had the strength to. “But…why…?”
“Ezri…you of all people should know that in dreams, images like that…tend to mean things.”
“But…” Ezri whispered, “…But what does this mean? What…could this mean?”
“For once, my dear…I don’t have the answer to that.”
And then, it hit her. She blinked her tears away…and stood up. “Well…I do….”
She turned to face Joran, who had also managed to get up. “You see, Joran…I really am nothing like you. Oh, I may have…slipped sometimes—and I know, I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of. But…I’m nothing like you said.”
Joran raised an eyebrow. “You seem certain of that.”
“I am. And…maybe it was my fault that…my time with Julian wasn’t what it could have been. Maybe I was afraid of commitment. And maybe you’re right—maybe my…pride…got the better of me. Maybe I did hurt him, out of fear of what might’ve happened…had we remained together. But the point is…I can learn from my mistakes…and pick myself back up…and move on with my life.
“Do I…regret what I may have done to him? Of course I do. But…I’ll make it up to him, if I can. And if I can’t, well…” Ezri sighed. “I’ll move on…somehow. And that, Joran, is why I’ll never be anything like you. When something happens that you can’t control…you refuse to accept it, and in your anger, you try to destroy those who stand between you…and power, whatever the cost.”
Joran smirked. “And you don’t?”
Ezri smiled. “No. I don’t. I see a lot of things in this universe I can’t control. I may not like it—I may not pretend to like it—but when I know there’s nothing I can do, I move on.”
Joran’s smile faded. But Ezri wasn’t through.
“That’s why I brought you here...wasn’t it? Somehow, I knew…that I had to face some things in my past…that I’d put off facing for…far too long.” She chuckled. “I…guess I needed someone who could…force me to confront those things. And…well, I suppose you were the only one of my previous hosts…heartless enough…to do that.”
“None of the others would ever have been able to…push me as close to the brink as you did. I guess you could say I needed a…kick in the rear for my own good.”
Joran stared at her for what seemed like an eternity, and finally, he replied, “Tell me…how much of that little speech was Jadzia speaking…?”
Ezri didn’t bat an eye. “None of it.”
“Are you certain?”
Ezri nodded, and her smile grew. “I’m certain.”
“What about Lela…or Curzon…or—”
Ezri laughed. “It was all me, Joran. And yes…I’m sure of that.”
After a moment, she said, “I…thank you should go.”
Joran’s eyes widened in amusement. “…‘Thank’…?”
Ezri’s smile vanished. “I think you should go….” She narrowed her eyes. “Now.”
Joran nodded. “Until we meet again…Ezri….”
And just like that…he was gone….
Ezri opened her eyes, to discover that she was seated at her desk once again.
I…must have dozed off, she thought. But…it sure felt real….
She glanced at the dresser. The sculpture was still there—intact.
It was as if the whole thing had never happened.
No…it happened. And I’ve learned a lesson…which I hope I’ll never have to repeat again.
Ezri stood up, and walked over to the sculpture. She reached over, and traced its lines with her finger.
She remembered her vow, and whispered it again to herself, to cement it in her mind.
“I’ll make it up to him…some way…somehow…I’ll make it up to him…I promise….”
* * *
And the adventure continues....