As Ezri finished recounting the events, she looked as Simon, to watch his reaction.
He was staring at the ground…and he rubbed his forehead, as if he was overwhelmed with all she had told him.
Finally, he said. “Wow.”
She nodded. “I know. And Simon…before you say anything—I have no one to blame, but myself.”
“I guess…I guess I just assumed, for whatever reason, that I could make everything right. It never occurred to me…that he’d have…”
“Well…to that extent.” Ezri’s gaze fell, as she wrung her hands a bit. “That’s my problem, isn’t it? I always take something for granted—and that’s invariably
what goes wrong.” She looked back to him. “In short…I’m a Dax. Sometimes I don’t think. Sometimes…”
Simon let out a sigh, and met her gaze. “Ezri…I have to be honest. I think you were
setting yourself up for a fall, but
…it’s not as if he were exactly pure
Ezri sighed. “Simon—”
“Come on, Skip. Other than the fact that he took what you said far
too personally—Sarina was Julian’s patient
, for goodness sake. What on Earth is he thinking, anyway?”
Ezri’s lip tightened. For some reason, the thought had kept occurring to her that her leaving him, all those years ago, had created a void that he was desperate to fill—and that his memories of regret about Sarina combined with that, and…
But no—that was just ego on her part…wasn’t it?
She shook her head. “I wouldn’t dream of speaking for him, Simon.”
“Well, I don’t like it at all.”
“What, do you have something against Sarina?”
“Not her, per se—except she’s a bit too ‘sweet’ to be authentic—something’s odd about all that, in itself. But, for now…it’s Julian
I’m worried about.”
Ezri stiffened. “What about Julian?”
“Let me put it this way—and I can’t believe I’m saying this about him
, of all people, but…doesn’t the whole situation look like—like he took advantage of her?”
“Oh, I’m sure he didn’t do it intentionally—but whether he did or not, she was basically a child back then, wasn’t she? He introduced her into the world, and she sees him as her hero for it. She didn’t know better—and she’s too inexperienced at life to handle the idea. Of course
she was going to go into overload.” He tightened his grip on the glass of brandy. “He of all
people should have known better.”
Ezri shook her head. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Simon…I told you, he was alone. And—I think you could say that…they identify with each other, a lot, and—”
“Oh, so that
makes it better. He’s desperate for someone who’s genetically enhanced—because that’s the only way any woman could possibly
be perfect for him!”
He froze, as if realizing what he was saying…and shook his head. “I…I’m sorry. I just…look, it goes against everything I’ve been taught as a doctor…I guess.”
Ezri smiled. “So, who needs a counselor, again?”
Simon straightened up. “Frankly, I’d say he
“Well, this isn’t about
him. It’s about me. Regardless of how…you or I feel about their relationship—none of that excuses what I
said to him.”
“What—that his feelings for Sarina’s all a crush? It’s called ‘tough love’, Skip.”
“I said it for the wrong reasons. But—it isn’t just that. I insulted him, and his abilities—and to be honest, he was right
to get mad and leave. What I said was totally uncalled for…not to mention hypocritical.”
Ezri blinked. “O-of course it was! Do you realize how many times I’ve rushed into things—without knowing anything
about what I was getting into?”
“Well, some would say that gives authenticity to what you told him!”
“I don’t know….” She paused for a moment…and another thought came to her. “You know something?”
“We were afraid this would happen. When he and I first…talked about a relationship…we were afraid that, if it didn’t work out…it would destroy our friendship. And,” she sighed, “A-and now…”
Simon nodded slowly. “You’re afraid…that that’s exactly what happened—and that…you can never be friends again.”
Ezri nodded, and struggled and failed to suppress a tear. As she felt trickle down her cheek, she managed to whisper, “Yes….”
It’s my fault, Julian…and I was right, before. I don’t think you can forgive me…and I don’t blame you, really. It’s my fault…and I deserve all of this…don’t I?
* * *
Simon stared at his captain, his friend, studying her…watching her. He saw the tear…and how hard she had tried to fight it. He recognized the feeling all too well—it was exactly what he himself had gone through, all those years ago.
“…Look, Ezri…you said, a little bit ago, that honesty means a lot to you.”
“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.”
After a minute, he said, “Ezri…can I speak freely?”
Ezri chuckled. “That doesn’t seem to be one of your problems.”
“Why are you so stuck on punishing yourself?”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. It seems to me
…that whenever something unfortunate happens involving you—you feel the need to take full responsibility, and tell yourself that it’s your
fault, for not doing enough. And I’m not just talking about Julian. I’ve seen this happen almost from the moment I’ve met
you. It’s just become a lot more severe, lately. Ezri…you can’t
carry everyone’s problems on your shoulders. So why do you keep trying?”
He saw her eyes widen, as she managed to say, “Well—gosh, if I didn’t want to help everyone, you wouldn’t be here, talking to me!”
Simon didn’t bat an eye. “There’s wanting to help everyone—and then
there’s beating yourself up because some problems are just beyond your control.”
“I wouldn’t call what I did to Julian ‘beyond my control’.”
“That’s actually my point—your entire reaction
to him was an example, Skip. You said it yourself—you saw your plans go up in smoke, and you broke down and snapped, because you were afraid you couldn’t set things right.”
Ezri sighed, and looked off.
Simon rose from his seat, and walked over to her, sitting beside her on the couch. “Ezri…talk to me. Why put yourself through all this?”
Staring at her feet, Ezri shook her head, and whispered, “I don’t know…it does seem pathetic, doesn’t it?”
“Maybe it’s just—look, every time I think about what happened…I remember Spock, and…how much faith he had in me. I just…”
She turned to him…and he saw in her eyes a plea for help which she would not dare truly express in words. She was his captain…and would not, could
not allow this kind of vulnerability to show in full force…even in private, even to a friend as close as him.
Still, she managed to ask, “Simon—if I can’t solve the problems of my
life…how can I become what he saw in me? How…how can I help anyone, if I can’t even help myself?”
Simon spread out his hands. “Well, look—speaking for myself…you remember what you had me
do…when our positions were reversed?”
Ezri smiled. “I remember. But—I don’t have a padd to snap in half.”
Simon chuckled at the memory. “No
…not literally. But remember the point? I had to learn
from the past—not brood over it. I had to let go
of the pain it was causing me—because only then could I recover…and make things right.”
Ezri’s smile faded. “So,” she said quietly, “are you saying I should just…let go of Julian?”
Simon gave a quick shake of his head. “Absolutely not—just stop assuming that everything is your
responsibility to fix—regardless of whether you’re capable of fixing it. You do the best you can…and once that’s done, don’t
hate yourself for it.”
“Simon, I don’t ‘hate’ myself. I just…”
Simon reached over, and put his hand on her shoulder. He had never done anything like that before…he had always considered her “untouchable”, in a sense, from the moment he’d met her. But…right now, it felt all too appropriate.
“Skip,” he said, “Let me tell you something. There are some things you can’t change—like the past. But once you’ve accepted what went wrong, then…you use
that to prepare you for what’s next for your life…right?”
Ezri swallowed, and nodded. “I know,” she whispered. “I should
know—of all people…”
Simon nodded, and quietly said, “It’s easy to forget, I’m sure.”
Ezri nodded again…as she reached up, to put her hand on his.
Simon let it rest there, watching her gather herself together. You’re stronger than you think, Skip…you wouldn’t be a captain, if you weren’t. And…you wouldn’t be sitting her, talking to me about all this, if you weren’t.
* * *
As they sat there, in silence, Ezri reflected on all they had said…and all that had brought her to this moment…all that had happened before. Spock…Joran…the unrest on Trill…the civil struggle on Luthia…the Jem’Hadar attack…and all that had happened then, to her…how much her life had changed…how much had unraveled before her.
“You know,” she finally said, her voice barely above a whisper as she removed her hand from his on her shoulder, putting in her lap, “Life was so much simpler when I was a counselor, wasn’t it? Before all this happened to me…”
Simon tilted his head. “Before you got Dax?”
She frowned. “No…not really, that’s
“Well, you had to accept
that one, didn’t you?”
“I—yes. It’s just…I had a life
, before all this—this ‘change’. My life made sense—I knew who I was, for the most part…what I was doing. I knew what I could do, and what I couldn’t. And…” she felt her lip quiver, “I didn’t—I didn’t put anyone through—”
“Ezri…you grew up.”
“Sure I did—too fast.”
“Maybe…but like I said, that’s the past.”
“I know, but…but I’m starting to think it’s getting to be too much for me.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. Let me ask you: look at all the things you’ve been able to do—here
. Would you have been able to do any of that, five years ago?”
She shook her head. “No….”
“No—and there’s a reason for that. As a rule…you don’t learn much when things are going good for you. You have to hit bottom so you can learn how to get back up. You want proof? Just look at me.”
Ezri nodded, with a brief smile.
“Ezri, I think you’re just setting standards for yourself that no one can reach. Now, do you honestly think Spock wanted you to do that?”
“Ezri…you are not infallible, any more than I am. Perhaps…in a sense, that unfortunate train of events assisted you…in rediscovering that fact. And indeed…perhaps that experience assisted in shaping you…into what you are, today.”
Simon rose to his feet, and gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Skip…you always face a lot of things you don’t prepare for. And when you do…you either stand up to it all, and take charge…or you start to let yourself die inside. Now…which one it’s going to be…that’s your decision, not mine.”
Ezri looked up at him; saw him smiling down at her, like a father. She blinked back a tear, and managed to say, “I’ve…forgotten a lot, haven’t I?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’d say the good ambassador taught you a lot…it’s just taking a while for it to sink in.”
Her gaze fell. “Not just that, Simon. I think for a long time…I’ve forgotten who I was—as a person. And because of that…I’ve put myself through a lot of unnecessary trouble.”
“Well…just stop doubting yourself, Skip. You know
who you are. Just don’t try to be anyone else.”
As Ezri took this in, Spock’s words came back to her once again: “You know…that you cannot change the past. However…you can use your experience, and the lessons you have learned from it, to better prepare for the future. Perhaps…your loss has taught you to never take for granted…the things you have been given.”
She looked back up at Simon, and whispered, “All right.”
He nodded. “Now…you finally
ready for leave?”
Ezri sighed. “I guess…just not here,” she said, meaning DS9. “I…I still need to think it all over. Pick some place—I don’t care—just…where you think would do me the most good.”
Simon nodded once again, and released her shoulder, giving it a pat before he gathered the bottle and glasses, and headed for the door.
But before he took two steps, he turned to her. “You know,” he said, “Kira once told me about how long it took for your friend Odo to admit his feelings for her
. In the meantime…she dealt with Vedek Bareil…Minister Shakkar….”
Ezri smiled, and nodded. “I know all about that.”
“Well, I guess what I’m saying is…don’t count Julian out just yet.”
She felt her smile fade, as she looked at him in concern. “Simon…I don’t want to wish anything bad on the two of them…”
“I’m not asking you to—but Ezri…as I said, you may have been on to something when you called it a ‘crush’. Now…I’m sure they’re nice to each other, and all—but let me tell you this: I remember the two of you, all those years ago, and I must say…I have never
seen a more natural couple than you and Dr. Julian Bashir. If you two weren’t meant to be together…I don’t know who
Ezri chuckled. “And…what is that supposed to mean?”
Simon gave her a smile. “Just…that if I know him as well as I should…he’ll remember it, soon enough.”
Ezri tilted her head. “I thought you were starting to hate him—for Sarina.”
Simon blinked, frowning at the thought. “What—no, of course not. I’m just concerned for him, about the whole thing. Just—something about that woman…”
He shrugged, and his smile returned. “He’s my friend, Ezri…it’s the least I could do.”
Ezri nodded. “I know….”
Simon looked off for a moment, and continued, “But whether you two rekindle or not…it’s up to you
to live with it, either way.”
Ezri sighed, and nodded again.
It’s so simple…but it’s so hard. I ruined everything he and I could have had…but I might have to just accept it, and live with it. And even now…I’m not sure if I can. But if I have to…I will, somehow. Because if there’s nothing I can do…
But she still refused to accept that there was
nothing. Something inside her, she knew, would refuse to give up to the bitter end. But if, in the end, she couldn’t change a thing—she would
learn…to live with it.
Simon turned to go. As the doors opened, Ezri rose to her feet. “Simon?”
He turned back, with a questioning look.
Ezri held his gaze, to emphasize this moment. “Thank you.”
Simon gave her a smile, and said, “You’d have done the same for me.”
Ezri felt a smile of her own. “I already did
Simon chuckled, and gave her a playful salute.
He turned to leave. The doors closed behind him….
And Ezri Dax was alone.
* * *
God, grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference;
Patience for the things that take time,
Appreciation for all that I have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles;
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of my past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for me and our love for each other,
And the Strength to get up and try again…even when I feel it is hopeless.
* * *
And the adventure continues….