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Old September 9 2009, 10:03 PM   #13
Rush Limborg
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Re: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine--The Cleanest Food To Find

^Thanks a bunch, RobertScorpio!

Okay...everyone enjoying the tale so far?

Good....

Everyone caught up?

...Close enough....

Okay. This next section will be pretty long, as well. Two scenes, but they go together. In the second scene, I have a few nice moments where Ezri and Julian communicate non-verbally. I hope you'll enjoy the touch....



Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Cleanest Food To Find
Scenes 5 & 6

The first thing Julian Bashir noticed about Simon Tarses as his new assistant MD reported for duty the next morning…was that the man was actually holding his shoulders a little higher than he had seen him last. He looked as if the foundations of his confidence were finally starting to repair.

Bashir smiled. “So…you feeling up to specs, Mr. Tarses?”

Tarses turned to him, and gave a small smile. “I…suppose so, Doctor. Why wouldn’t I be, sir?”

Bashir shrugged. “Well, it wouldn’t do if I needed to examine your head, now would it?”

Tarses stopped short. And then he smiled sheepishly, and shook his head. “I guess…word gets around quickly here.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that quickly….”

“Then…?”

“Oh, let’s just say…I have a good working relationship with Counselor Dax.”

“Well—um…”

“Don’t worry—if you prefer to keep it private, she said she wouldn’t tell anyone else. She merely made an exception in my case.”

Tarses nodded slowly. “…Because of your good working relationship.”

Still smiling, Bashir looked off to the side. “Oh…I’d like to think so….”

He turned back to the other doctor. “Suffice it to say, Lieutenant…that you’re in good hands. You can count on that.”

Tarses stared at him for a moment. “Did…did you both plan that…that session?”

Bashir frowned. “Beg pardon?”

“It just...seems a little convenient that my...routine counseling session would be...the first of the series....”

“Well, one…could say that.”

The man’s lip tightened.

Bashir froze. Did he just make a terrible mistake?

Tarses fell onto one of the Infirmary cots, gave a big sigh, and shook his head. And then…he actually laughed.

“… ‘Standard procedure for any new additions to the senior staff of essential departments’…”

As he got his laughter under control, he looked up at Bashir. “You know…so help me…I actually believed her….”

Bashir gave a relieved smile. “She…wasn’t exactly kidding, you know. I really am scheduling counseling sessions for my staff—you were simply the first.”

Tarses paused, and looked deep in thought for a while. Finally, he got up. “Well…I guess I’d better get to work.”

“Of course….”

Julian watched him work. The man had obviously made a bit of progress—he wasn’t nearly as reclusive as he’d been before. Still…Bashir could see there was a great deal of work left for Ezri.

Simon Tarses seemed like a man who engrossed himself in his work in an unnatural way—unnatural, in that he seemed to make it an obsession, excluding everything else from his notice so long as he was on duty—their conversation notwithstanding.

It was as if…


* * *

“…as if he’s hiding.”

They were in Quark’s again, at their regular table.

Ezri frowned. “‘Hiding’…?”

Julian leaned back, a dejected look on his face. “I don’t know…I’m not the counselor, after all.”

Ezri sighed. “Well, Julian…these things take time. My session with him wasn’t supposed to cure him by itself. You have to plant the seed first…and then water it, little by little…and after a while…you can watch it sprout…and grow. But until then…”

“I know…I know….” Julian rubbed his forehead, as if from exhaustion. Then…he smiled. “How on Earth can you be so…patient?”

Ezri chuckled. “I…guess I’ve had a lot of practice.”

Julian nodded. Suddenly, his expression changed to one of…bewilderment.

Ezri frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Julian raised his eyebrows. “Look who’s here.”

Ezri turned—and saw Simon Tarses enter the bar. She watched as he walked over to the counter, taking a stool…and she wasn’t surprised when she noticed that the stool he picked put him at a significant distance from anyone else nearby.

She wasn’t surprised…but it still saddened her. She turned to Julian. “I’ll be right back.”

Julian nodded. “Good luck.”

“Thanks…” Ezri headed for a stool next to Simon’s, where she sat down with a smile. “Hi!”

Simon stared down at the counter, grinning. “So…‘It’s just a counseling session—standard procedure for any new additions to the senior staff of essential departments.’” He turned to her, and raised an eyebrow. “‘You understand.’”

Ezri raised her palms in surrender. “All right—guilty as charged.”

Simon shook his head. His smile faded. “So…how much of what you’d said to me…yesterday…all that you promised me…how much of that was true, anyway?”

Ezri felt her own smile vanish, as she lowered her arms, and stared him in the eye. “Every word.”

Simon turned away, and sighed. “I…I wish I could believe you…. I want to believe you…but….”

“Let me put it this way, Simon: suppose I had told you everything—that I was talking to you just for you, and that I wasn’t going to interview the others on Dr. Bashir’s staff until a later date. What would you have thought?”

He shook his head again. “I don’t know….”

“Well, I know what I’d think, if I were in you’re shoes: ‘This counselor is singling me out, and just wants to talk to me because she’s heard of me, she knows all about what’s been done to me…and she’s just going to grill me all about that.”

“I thought that anyway.”

“Maybe so…but you have to admit, you had less of an excuse to avoid me.”

Simon gave a sigh, and turned to face her again. “Good point.”

Ezri frowned, and her tone grew more serious. “Simon…one of the rules I’ve set for myself long ago is: I…never…lie. My integrity means a lot to me. I would never compromise it…for anything.”

He looked down, shrugged, and met her gaze again. “Well…I can’t exactly say you told the truth, either.”

“I did. Just not in the way you seem to want to hear it. I mean…would you have preferred it if I had led you to believe that you were the only one of the new staff that I’d be counseling?"

Simon nodded. “Yeah—actually, I would.”

“Well, that…would’ve been a lie.”

Simon chuckled, and shook his head. “You are absolutely incredible.”

Ezri smiled. “I try to be.” She stood up. “Now…why don’t you come sit with us?”

Simon frowned. “‘Us’…?”

“Just follow me….”

He did. Ezri led him to the table with Julian, and sat down.

Julian looked up at the man, and smiled. “Ah, Dr. Tarses! How are you, this evening?”

Simon nodded. “I’m fine, Doctor. Miss Dax was just…”

Ezri smiled, and finished for him. “I was wondering if he could sit with us for a while.”

Julian frowned at her. You sure about this?

Ezri nodded. Trust me.

Julian turned to Simon with a grin. “Of course! By all means, sit down.” He turned to the Ferengi waiter nearest to them. “Broik—let’s have a round of drinks!” He turned back to Simon, “What would you like?”

Simon shrugged. “I don’t care.”

As Broik arrived at the table, Bashir ordered, “A Scotch, neat, for me—a Fanailian toddy for Ezri—and…”

“You know,” Simon spoke up, “I think I’ll have…what the counselor’s having.”

Ezri grinned, raising an eyebrow. “Any reason for that—or are you just…?”

“I don’t know…it just sounds good.”

Ezri nodded. “I’ll accept that.”

Julian smirked. “You got that, Broik?”

Broik nodded, and rushed off.

Simon, who had been standing up the whole time, finally sat down. Ezri resolved to watch him interact with Julian…and only join the conversation to come if she truly had to….

Still, the conversation had to start. She turned to Julian, and after he met her gaze, she looked to Simon…and to Julian again. He got the message, and gave a subtle nod in reply.

“So,” said Julian, “How do you like DS9?”

Simon frowned. “Oh…I like it fine. Nothing to complain about, really.”

Julian smiled. “Well, speaking for myself…I remember when I first came here. You would not believe my excitement about this assignment. I came here, and I said to myself, ‘This will be perfect—real…frontier medicine.’”

“Ah…‘frontier medicine’?”

“Well…seven years ago, this region was a different place. Bajor was…isolated, in a sense…separate from the rest of the galaxy. Few, if any, gave it any real thought until the wormhole was discovered.” Julian leaned forward, grinning, as if getting to the best part. “As far as I was concerned…this sector…was the wilderness…where heroes are made.”

Simon shrugged. “I…take it the wormhole changed all that?”

“It did—for the better. I thought to myself, ‘At lasthere is the chance I’ve been looking for. The chance to be the first doctor to encounter a new disease…and to cure it. To gain knowledge which no doctor has ever gained before. To publish paper after paper about my discoveries—and far better, to finally be…the hero I desired so much to be….”

And then…Julian sighed, and leaned back. “Shows you how much I knew….”

Simon looked at him, apparently unsure of what to make of this. “So…you became a doctor…to be famous?”

Slowly, Julian shook his head. “No…thank goodness.”

Broik came back with the drinks, set each one down, and walked off.

Ezri reached for her drink right away. Julian did the same. Simon, however, took his drink slowly…and stared down into it, not bothering to take a sip.

Julian frowned. “Is…something wrong?”

Simon’s head shot up. “Oh, no—that is…not really,” he amended, as his gaze fell again.

Julian nodded slowly. “Well…?”

Simon fiddled with his mug for a while, and finally sighed, “I just… Doctor, why did you accept me?”

Julian frowned. “Pardon?”

“I mean…when I was assigned here…you could have refused—like so many others did. Even those who let me in…they quickly changed their minds. But…you accepted me—and you’re still ready to accept me.”

“Is…there a reason that I shouldn’t accept you?”

“Come on. Why do you want me on your staff?”

Julian shrugged. “Because…you’re a good doctor?”

Simon scoffed. “Really? Says who?”

Julian blinked, clearly taken aback. “Says…your list of achievements—which, quite frankly, is considerable.”

“Yeah. My achievements. So what’s your real reason?”

Excuse me?”

“Did you feel sorry for me? Did someone recommend me? What?”

Julian’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Because…you’re…a good…doctor.”

But it was clear Simon didn’t believe a word of it.

All right, Ezri thought, Time to join in. “Simon, is there a reason that you can’t accept that you’re good?”

“No…there’s a reason that I can’t accept that that’s his reason for wanting me.”

“Oh?” Julian leaned back and crossed his arms, raising an impatient eyebrow. “And that would be…?”

Simon’s hand squeezed his mug. “Do I…have to spell it out?”

Ezri nodded. “I think that would be best.”

He sighed. “All right…fine. I’ll say it. I’m a pariah. Oh, I was accepted back onto the Enterprise well enough, sure. But after that, I go from post to post—and does everyone else treat me like that? Oh, no. ‘You’re no good, Tarses—you’re a sham. You’re a liar—you’re a disgrace—you have no place here, good bye!’” As if to punctuate this line, Simon raised him mug, and drank.

Julian turned to Ezri, with a tired look. You’d better handle this….

Ezri nodded. She turned to Simon—and sighed. “Well…looks like we have a problem.”

“I…guess you could say that.”

“In all seriousness…is that what this is all about? Have you been told that you’re no good so much…that you’re actually starting to believe—that you’re just not worthy of anyone’s respect?”

“Look, Counselor…Doctor…I’m very appreciative what you two are trying to do. Really, I am. But…look, Ezri, uh…you said, a little bit ago, that honesty means a lot to you.”

“It does.”

“Well…it means a lot to me, too—and…look, I have to be honest with myself: I made a big mistake at the very beginning of my career. And now…I’m paying the price. I don’t deserve to be accepted anywhere—as a good doctor, anyway. And I never will be—and that’s that.”

Julian shook his head, puzzled. “And yet…you’re still in Starfleet. You went on to peruse a doctorate—and got it. Are you really so…masochistic…as to continue on a path where you think you have no chance?”

Simon looked down at his mug again. When he brought himself to speak, it was in a pained near-whisper. “No….”

Ezri frowned. “Than…why?”

“Because…because…” He swallowed hard, and blurted out, “Because I’m a fool.”

Ezri turned to Julian. He just frowned. She couldn’t blame him.

Simon continued. “I guess…there’s always been…that little voice inside…telling me not to give up…to hold on…to not lose hope.”

Ezri’s mouth opened in a silent gasp…and she felt her eyes widen. Of course…that’s it, isn’t it? That’s…what it’s always been….

Finally, she understood—why the man was so very reluctant to accept any offer of help—from her, from Julian, or from anyone else. And just like that…she found herself feeling a growing sense of respect for Simon Tarses.

Julian frowned, apparently unsure of what to make of her reaction. She made a mental note to explain later.

She turned back to Simon, a small, reassuring smile on her face. “I think…you should listen to that voice a little more.”

Simon looked up, and stared at her, his face completely unreadable. And then…he stood up, downed the rest of his drink, and said, “Well…It’s been fun. Enjoy your drinks, you two. Have a pleasant evening. Now—if you’ll excuse me….”

He put his empty mug on the tray of a passing waiter—and rushed off, out of the bar.

Julian began to stand—but Ezri’s hand shot up, grabbing his shoulder, stopping him. He looked at her in bewilderment.

Ezri shook her head. “Let him be, Julian. Let him be….”

Julian sighed, and sat back down.


* * *
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