All righty--I know I'm dishin' out scenes at a rapid pace--but it's to compensate for the long periods of the day when I'll be gone....
Okay--the plot thickens as Ezri's forced to go to
Simon. This is a long one, so I'll wait a bit before I post the next scene....
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Cleanest Food To Find
She stood outside the quarters of Lieutenant Simon Tarses, staring at the door. Finally, after a minute or so, Ezri said, “Computer…confirm location of Simon Tarses.”
“Lieutenant Tarses is in his quarters.”
—which was the same answer she got fifteen minutes ago.
Well…it didn’t hurt. After all…it would’ve been just
too bad if he’d left just before I came in
Fortunately, it looked like that wasn’t going to be the case. So she pressed the door chime—and waited.
The voice sounded…tired…in a sad
kind of way. Ezri wasn’t surprised, but still….
The door opened. A young-looking man stood there, with a roundish face, short dark hair, ears with a slight point—and the most expressive eyes that Ezri had seen in her life.
At the moment, he was clearly stunned at the sight of her. “Can…can I help you…Lieutenant?”
He nodded quickly. “Uh-huh.”
Ezri smiled, hoping it would calm him down. “I’m Ezri Dax.”
She extended her hand, which Tarses shook, after hesitating a moment.
“Well, uh…what can I do for you…Counselor?”
Good. He remembers me.
“May I come in?”
“Oh, uh…” He cleared his throat in what looked like embarrassment. “What for? Uh, that is, I mean….”
Ezri held up her hand. “It’s all right. If you want to talk here, that’s fine, too.”
I wonder…would he be acting so awkward if I were a
“Well, uh…okay. What do you want to…talk about?”
Ezri kept smiling. “Well, for starters…why didn’t you make the appointment yesterday?”
“Oh…well,” he sighed, “Look, I…I’m sorry about not making it, but….”
Ezri shook her head, as her smile faded. “I hope you’re not going to tell me that something came up—because if it did…you could
have called me to reschedule….”
“I know. It’s just that…”
…” Ezri continued, “If it’s because you didn’t think I was worthy of your presence….”
The man froze.
Ezri’s smile reappeared.
…” Tarses sighed with relief. “Well, I…yeah. I…guess I’d better let you in.”
Ezri nodded. “That’s probably a good idea.”
He moved to the side, to let her enter. The cabin had a Spartan quality about it—nothing fancy, no decorations, few personal effects, just…basic necessities. There were a few padds on a table, but…that was it. Aside from the furniture—bed, couch, the table with two chairs, that sort of thing—one could almost say it wasn’t being used at all.
Ezri stopped at one of the chairs. “May I sit down?”
She sat, crossing her legs, putting her hands in her lap. Tarses stood before her, as if he couldn’t bring himself to adopt any casual posture whatsoever
Ezri smiled again. “Why don’t you take a seat?”
“Ah…” he cleared his throat. “Don’t take this wrong, Counselor—”
“Call me Ezri.”
“Oh…well…I don’t think I should….”
“Oh, it’s perfectly fine. I mean…” as she gave a light shrug, “Why wouldn’t
“O-okay, well…Ezri…aren’t you doing this all wrong?”
Ezri frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Well…it’s just…” Tarses swallowed, and the words that followed came out rushed. “You see, most of the other counselors I’ve seen…first they speak with the commanding officer of…wherever I am…in order to set up an appointment. Then, they have the CO call me, and tell me of the need for me to see a counselor. Then, the CO tells me that we have the most excellent
counselor here, so they recommend that I go see her…or him. Usually it’s a girl. I wonder why?”
“Anyway…I’m ordered to go there, and the counselor starts off telling me how nice of me it is to come, and am I still okay about my Romulan Heritage. And then
…” as his tone became less nervous, and began to sound a little frustrated—and bitter, “The grilling
begins, and they ask me whether I regret my lying
to the Academy Commandant, and why
I did it, and whether I would do it again, and why on Earth
I stayed in Starfleet after that suspension
—as I’m stumbling over that last one, they dare
to ask me—to my face
—how I honestly
expect to move on with my career
…with a black mark like that. That’s the way it’s done
But he stopped, his features softened again, and he looked Ezri in the eye. She held his gaze, waiting for him to continue.
Tarses sighed. “…only not this time.”
Ezri shook her head. “Not this time,” she replied, in a quiet, gentle tone, letting him know she was serious.
Tarses just looked at her, clearly fighting not to show his relief.
Ezri cleared her throat. “Uh, listen, kid…I think—”
Simon blinked. “‘Kid’
Ezri smiled at his reaction. Actually, she had done it on purpose—to provoke this kind of effect. The more he loosened up to her, the better.
Simon broke into a nervous chuckle. “Ah…no offense, Counselor, but…you don’t look
older than me….”
Try ten years
younger…. Ezri briefly looked down, and then returned the laugh as she directed her gaze back to him. “Well, I guess that depends on which ‘me’ you’re talking about.” She pointed to the couch. “Now, sit…down
Tarses slowly walked to the couch, and sat down—stiff as a Vulcan.
Ezri sighed in amusement. “At ease
, Simon. This is not
a dressing-down of any kind—no matter what
your past experiences taught you to expect.”
Simon frowned, but he did
relax…a little. Enough to ask another question.
Ezri nodded. “That’s right.”
“You know…I’ve heard a lot about you.”
‘me’? Ezri or Dax?”
“Oh, well, uh…both, actually. When I was a cadet…I read about all the famous negotiations and talks conducted by Curzon Dax. I…how did
you get the—?”
“Maybe we can talk about that another time. Now…exactly what
did you hear about me? As in…Ezri
Simon frowned. “Oh--well…”
“Don’t worry. If I’m offended, it won’t be your
“Okay. Well…I heard you braved the Badlands to rescue Commander Worf.”
—in a runabout….”
“And that you…braved a great maelstrom filled with…lightning and fire…for four days and nights…and that, just when your power reserves were all but gone, a final explosion unleashed a great shockwave that threw your vessel to the far side of the region—where you saw the derelict escape pod adrift before you….”
Ezri stared at him, completely blank. “…‘Four days and nights’….”
Simon frowned. “I’m…pretty sure it was four—but some people say it was eleven. Was it eleven?”
Ezri felt her eyes widen. “You’re…kidding
Ezri sighed, shaking her head. “Simon…first
, it was a few hours, at most, before I found Worf’s pod. Second
, it wasn’t a ‘maelstrom’—it was a series of solar flares, like you usually find in there.”
“Well…that doesn’t exactly sound like a smooth ride.”
“Oh, it wasn’t—not at all. But…I certainly
wasn’t thrown across the Badlands. I may have felt
like I was—but I wasn’t
“Oh…well…” Simon gave a sheepish chuckle. “It was a good embellishment, anyway.”
“And I’ll bet it came from Worf, too….” Ezri leaned back. “His idea of a joke, I guess….”
“But…after you rescued him…you were
shot down by the Jem’Hadar....”
part is true.”
“And were captured by the Breen…just as their new alliance with the Dominion was forming….”
“And you were taken to Cardassia and—”
“All, right, Mister, I get the point. You think I’m a…heroine, or something.”
Simon looked down and chuckled. “You…kind of are
“Really?” Ezri asked, keeping her tone dry.
The man sighed. “Uh…well, you could say, Counselor, that…It wasn’t that I didn’t think you were worthy of my
presence. It’s that…uh…” He blushed, and chucked again, “…I didn’t think I was worthy of yours
Ezri had to fight the impulse to roll her eyes. Great. He actually means it. Thanks a
lot, Worf—I save your neck and the
next thing you know
But then…another thought occurred to her.
“You know, Simon…I think I just realized something.”
“You’re scared of me.”
He blinked. “What
Ezri sighed, and leaned forward. “First, you refuse
to ease up in front of me until I insist. Second, you go on a rant about how badly other counselors treat you. And finally
…you try to flatter me with hero-worship
. At any rate…you’re trying your best to keep me from doing what you’re afraid I’ll do—whatever that
“I don’t…know what you’re talking about.”
“What’s the matter, kid? Why should you be so afraid of my trying to be friends?”
—” Simon briefly showed fire in his eyes…but just as quickly, it vanished. He leaned back into his seat and shook his head. “…Because I’ve had my share of ‘friends’…who keep telling me they only want to help…and then…they start…trying to get into my head
He broke off, and looked at her again.
Ezri shook her head. “Look…maybe those other
counselors were like that…but I’m not.”
“Well…” she amended with a smile, “…not unless I have
to be. And I don’t think
I have to be, not here…not now.”
Simon stared at her for a long time, and for a moment, Ezri saw a glimmer of hope in his eyes. But then he shook his head, and let his shoulders fall. “All right…all right…I’ll go through it all again…one more time. But I just…I don’t want to get my hopes up. Otherwise, I’ll open up and…and then—”
pry into you, Simon. When you want
to open up to me, you’ll open up—but I won’t rush you. I promise
Simon gave a slow, silent gasp. “You…you mean
Ezri nodded solemnly. “Yes….”
She saw him lean back, take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. As he did so, Ezri could have sworn that his lip was quivering. He…looked like he was struggling
to keep his emotions in check.
She brought her chair closer to the couch. “Now…let’s hear about you.”
“What…what do you want to know?”
Ezri smiled. “I don’t care. Just…” as she gently put a hand on his shoulder, “Say what you want
to say—not what you think I want to hear.”
Simon stared at her. His eyes began to widen. Then…he broke his gaze, and stared at the ground as he wrung his hands.
Ezri could see the conflict going on—she could see that…he was struggling…struggling
not to let his feelings be known. He was desperate
not to open up to her—and she knew…that it was more
than just fear. A lot
Finally, Simon let out a sigh. “There’s…nothing to say, Counselor.”
Ezri nodded. “I understand.” She rose from her seat, and headed for the door. But just before she left, she turned to him. “When there is
…let me know.”
Tarses swallowed, and looked up to meet her gaze. “I will,” he said, his voice revealing a strength that had not been there before. And Ezri knew…that this
time…he meant it.
She gave him a nod of thanks, and left.
* * *