Ezri held back nothing. Simon was her friend…and she knew she could trust him with whatever she could tell him.
She told him of how Ambassador Spock had specifically
requested to be transported on the Aventine
, so as to see what she, Ezri Dax, was truly like. How he, so deeply concerned about the troubles he saw around him, desired so deeply to hold an audience with “the first leader of a new generation”, as he had put it.
She told Simon how impressed Spock had been with her—at what he saw as her humility, her reluctance to be hailed as a heroine by everyone around her….
She talked about the mind-meld—how they had formed such a deep bond of friendship, and understanding—and how he had unintentionally…brought forth the conflict which had been simmering within her heart…ever since the day she had strained her relationship with Julian Bashir.
She told Simon how after that, it had threatened to become more than what she could bear—how she had struggled on whether to confess it all to Spock…wondering whether he, with his Vulcan reserve, would truly understand what it all meant to her….
But finally, Spock had challenged her—and she had broken down at last, confessing all…telling him all that had happened, between her…and the man to whom she had given her heart.
And Spock did
understand. And he had built her back up…had set her back on her feet…and reminded her of her deepest desire…to do the best she could.
she remembered him say, “You should learn to trust your instincts more often. After all, I have reason to believe that your…initial reluctance to speak to me of…your loss…was mainly out a desire to
think, rather than
do. But as I have stated, there are times for analysis…and times for instinct. And I know—that whatever the mistakes of your past…you truly possess the wisdom to know the difference.”
“…You really think so?”
* * *
Ezri blinked back a tear, as she looked up, at Simon, who sat across from her, taking it all in, in silence.
Finally, the doctor said, “He sounds like a very wise man….”
Ezri nodded. “Yes…he is.”
She sighed, as she took her filled glass. “But he was wrong on one thing.”
“That I have ‘the wisdom to know the difference’.” She stared down into the brandy…and felt an ironic smile come to her face. She looked back at Simon. “Do you know what he said to me, when I asked for advice on how to make things right with…?”
Simon frowned. “What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Ezri…perhaps, once again, you are trying to force excessive thinking
into a scenario where it is not required.’ And then he told me to—‘Put aside logic for a moment, and ask yourself what your heart
Ezri leaned back into the couch, and sipped the glass. “Well
—I’m just glad he didn’t see how it all turned out. I’d hate to see him disappointed in me….”
“Look, Skip, I hardly think he’d honestly believe you’d know everything to do right away. That would be…illogical.”
“Maybe not…but if he saw how badly
I messed up…”
Ezri finished the drink. “I just did everything wrong
—starting with not preparing for the worst.”
…you know darn well I am not
leaving until I know everything I want to know. You’re going to have to tell me, sooner or later. I’d rather it were sooner.”
Ezri held up her hand, as she set the empty glass aside. “All right, all right. You’re stubborn today, aren’t you?”
“I’ve always been this stubborn. I’m sure you
of all people can understand that.”
She rolled her eyes with a slight chuckle. “Tell me about it.”
Simon leaned forward. “Ezri…what happened?” he asked again.
Ezri shook her head. “Okay…well, I hear from Starfleet that we’re to pick up two officers working for Starfleet Intelligence—and that one of them is the one man I wanted the most to see. ‘Great,’ I think! ‘Here’s my chance! At last, I can make everything right. I can confess to him, tell him everything I’ve wanted to say for a long
time—and finally, tell him that I still hold him dearest to my heart. What could possibly
Simon nodded. “Murphy’s Law.”
Ezri returned the nod. “He comes on board—with Sarina.”
“Hold on a minute…is there a story, here?”
“You have no
“Let’s have it.”
“All right. You heard of that small group of genetically-enhanced patients—that everyone had thought was unable to be helped?”
Simon gave a smirk. “The ‘Jack Pack’?”
“That’s them. She was
one of them.”
“Don’t worry; you won’t have to tell me as much as you’d think. I know all about Julian’s fixing her up, as it were.”
Ezri raised her eyebrow at this. “Did you know they fell in love, right after that?”
Simon stiffened, as if in shock. “Actually…no.”
“Neither did I—until Sarina started to get catatonic again.”
She looked off, and sighed. “I…saw Julian trying to get through to her…pleading for her to come back. I remember…”
She shrugged, “I guess it didn’t bother me, then—it was before I learned of my own feelings, but…I remember standing there, watching him…seeing how much he cared, and—now that I think of it…I knew, right there, how alone
Julian really was.” She blinked back another tear. “I…I actually found myself praying that it would turn out all right…for both of them.”
She leaned back, folding her hands, and placing them in her lap. “Be careful what you wish for, I guess….”
Simon’s lip seemed to tighten, his mood turning dark. “Let’s…get back to the main thing. You see him and Sarina come on board.”
“Right. ‘Now, that doesn’t mean anything,’ I tell myself. So…I invite Julian to my quarters.” She stared at Simon intently, to emphasize her next sentence. “For dinner.”
“That didn’t go well, I take it.”
Ezri shook her head. “I planned the whole thing out—a romantic evening…candles…wine…music. And then, when I learned the truth, well—things went a bit downhill….”
* * *
She had set up a small dining table in the middle of the main room of her quarters, set with a full dinner service. Two tall, red candles stood at the center, on a white lace cloth.
She’d made it a point to have music play in the background—a soft kind of “jazz”, composed by a band from Betazed.
She was out of uniform, dressed in civilian cloths. It was appropriate, wasn’t it? An expression to him, an indication to not see her as an officer, superior or not—just as a woman, Ezri Dax…who was ready to make things right.
The door chime rang. A smile came to her face. “Come in!”
The doors opened—and Julian Bashir came in, in uniform. She has just about forgotten how handsome he was…how charming. The beard he now sported suited him well…it made him look older…and a little wiser.
Her smile grew. “Right on time—as always.”
Julian returned the smile, as he strolled in her direction. “I do like to be punctual….” He gave a light shrug. “I hope you’ll forgive me for arriving empty-handed. Your replicators wouldn’t let me whip up a bottle of wine—or a bouquet of flowers.”
Ezri fought hard to keep from showing her feelings of elation at his last words. He knows…doesn’t he? And he feels the same way
…. It was as if fate was smiling down on them…and everything was perfect.
She rolled her eyes at him. “That would be Sam’s doing. I never knew he was such a stick-in-the-mud until I made him my XO.”
Julian shrugged. “Well, I guess that’s just the way it is with people. Who they are depends a lot on where
they are…and whom they’re with.”
Ezri nodded. “True….”
Don’t go too fast, Ezri. There are some things you two need to clear up, first. Besides…you can’t be absolutely sure until he says it…right?
Snapping back to reality, she waved a hand to one of the two chairs at the table. “Have a seat. I’ll get our food.”
As she walked over to the replicator, and put in the order, she heard him sit down, and remark, “I feel honored. It’s not every day one is served by a captain.”
Ezri turned to him, pretending to rebuke him with her eyes. “Julian
—when I’m out of uniform, I’m just ‘Ezri’.”
Julian nodded his surrender, as Ezri brought over two plates of coq au vin
, with sautéed asparagus, setting them down for the two of them.
“In fact,” Ezri said, “I apologize for not telling you to wear civvies.” With a smile, she added, “Now I feel underdressed!”
He snorted. “Nonsense
. You look wonderful, as always.”
Ezri struggled not to blush at this, as her heart started to speed up its beat. “That’s…kind of you to say,” she managed to reply.
And she turned to head back to the replicator, before he could discover how she felt. “What do you think would go best with this?”
“Something robust,” she heard him reply…his voice showing no indication that he’d picked up on it all. “A Pinotage…or perhaps a Malbec.”
Ezri keyed it in. “Pinotage it is.”
An open bottle with two glasses materialized, and she took it all to the table, offering him the bottle. “Care to do the honors?”
He took it, with a smile. “Certainly.”
As Julian filled their glasses, Ezri sat down, focusing on tasting the food.
Julian set the bottle down. “It’s…been a long time since we were along together like this.”
Ezri swallowed at this, and nodded. “True.”
She took her glass, and sipped. Finally, she mused, All right…I might as well get this over with. I can’t stand this waiting any longer…and I don’t think he can, either.
And so, she gathered up her courage, and said, “I’m sorry if this seems weird or out of the blue, but…it just seemed like you and I had so much unfinished business, and what with…you know…”
“Me leaving on a possible suicide mission?”
She hadn’t thought of it exactly that way…but it was true. She gave a nervous chuckle in response. “I guess, yeah.”
Come on, Ezri. Don’t be afraid. This is it. Just say it.
“I just…thought it might be the right time for me to say some things I should have said a long time ago, before I left Deep Space Nine.”
Julian stared at her, as if unsure of what to make of this. “Things such as…?”
Ezri’s gaze fell to her plate. “Such as…‘I’m sorry, Julian’—for starters.”
Julian said nothing, waiting for her to go on.
She swallowed again, and went on. “I know I didn’t make things easy for you. I guess…part of it was that I didn’t understand how profound a change I was going through, until I was deep in the middle of it. And, by then…it was too late for me to undo what I’d done.”
It was the understatement of her life, as far as she was concerned…but it was a good beginning, she thought.
She looked up at him. Julian nodded his acceptance. “I know, Ezri…and I understand.”
Ezri braced herself, ready to continue…ready to tell him all. But he wasn’t through.
“It can’t be easy to adjust to such a massive change in self-image…to take eight past lives, and make them your own. To become,” he smirked, as if at a memory, “‘More than the sum of your parts’.”
Ezri threw her head back slightly, in amusement at his odd choice of words. “‘The sum of my parts’? Where did that
Julian gave a light shrug. “Just something…Sarina said a long time ago, after she first met you.”
There was something in the way he said the name…something in his eyes…that made Ezri freeze. Recent memories hit her—how she saw the way the two interacted with each other, after coming on board. And then, it all came together…and with that, all her hopes, all she had felt before that moment—it all came crashing down.
No…please, tell me it’s not true. It can’t be—not like this,
But it was. There was no going around that simple fact.
“Of course…” she said quietly. “I see.”
Julian frowned in confusion. “See what?”
“You still have a crush on Sarina, don’t you?”
She had blurted it out without thinking—and once it slipped out, she found herself wishing desperately that she could take it back.
Julian stiffened, as if biting back a retort. “I remain…attracted
to her—and interested in her. My feelings for her go beyond mere infatuation.”
His words filled her with an immense frustration that she hadn’t felt in a long time. She heard herself speak in a low tone of voice, matching the darkness she felt. “So you’re in love with her…and acting as her partner on a high-risk undercover intelligence mission? Don’t you see a few potential complications
with this scenario, Julian?”
It clearly stung a lot more than she could have imagined. After he stared at her in shock, as if stunned at her sudden change of mood, Julian’s tone turned bitter, with an air of forced amusement. “You’re one to talk—or have you forgotten how you attached yourself to my mission on Sindorin? And—don’t try to tell me that was ‘different’, because we both know that’s a lie.”
That was it. All the emotions building up inside her since the discovery about Sarina let loose inside—and Ezri threw her napkin on the table in disgust. She heard her voice start to break. “You want to know what’s the same about the Sindorin mission and this one, Julian? You
are. You’ve always loved playing spy—and I think this is more of the same.”
Julian’s own napkin fell from his hand, onto the table. “Oh, really?” he asked as he rose to his feet. “You think I’m here to play a game? To satisfy some…adolescent appetite for adventure?”
Ezri looked up at him, her eyes narrowing, mentally willing her eyes not to moisten. “No,” she said quietly, “I think you’re here to impress Sarina. But…just because you’re genetically enhanced—that doesn’t mean you’re qualified for intelligence work.”
Julian swallowed hard, and it looked as if he was fighting a tear of his own. “Funny,” he muttered, “That’s what some people have said about your status as a joined Trill—and your readiness for starship command. According to our critics, neither
of us is qualified for our current duties.”
And with that, he turned, and headed for the door. But as it slid open, he turned to her, and said, “You were offered a chance to expand your horizons…and you took it. I plan to do the same.” As he turned back to leave, he concluded, “With or without your approval.”
Ezri felt frozen, unable to move. Everything in her screamed for her to cry out to him, and beg him to wait
—while she would let her tears flow, and apologize to him for all the terrible things she’d just said…
She did nothing, said nothing…as he left, the doors closing shut behind him.
She slowly rose to her feet, and reached her glass to her lips…
—And then, as if by its own accord, her hand flung it across the room, and she listening to the sound of the glass, shattering on the wall.
* * *