And now, we continue:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"From Risa With Love"
Of course she was going to be late.
Julian Bashir looked up at the chronometer at his room at the “Vulcan Stone”. It was 1705.
He leaned back in his seat by the desk. Naturally…she was continuing the little “banter” they’d began on the beach…just without words. She was testing him to see if he’d give in, look her up…and then go to her
door, after all.
He smiled. He could wait.
He was dressed in what was something of a private joke with himself—a mid-20th-century-style black dinner suit with a white shirt and a black bowtie. On a world like Risa…no one would really notice the humor of it.
He looked around his room. True to the “theme” of the resort, it was made to have a feel of solitude, in the logical, strictly efficient style of Vulcan. Comfortable, certainly, no self-respecting Risan establishment would ever abandon that—but it was effectively supposed to be a “stylized” version of Vulcan architecture. Dark reddish-brown walls, paneled with stone…relics on the wall, from miniature lirpas
to a massive rug, covering the wall behind the bed, with a large golden IDIC woven in. The lamps gave off a warm light, with a soothing fire-like hue, when it was too late or early for the daylight to come in through the windows…or when the curtains were closed.
The bathroom lay across the room from his desk. There was no door, just an effective design where he would go straight forward, to the sink, and turn right, going a few steps straight into the shower—water, of course, not sonic.
The whole place was ideal for him…even if it did
remind him of being alone.
He heard a knock at the door.
He glanced at the chronometer. Eight minutes past.
With a grin on his face, Julian Bashir rose from his seat, walking straight to the entranceway, and pressed the control on the wall.
Cynthia Holland stood there with a childlike beam, her hands clasped low, in front of her. She wore a long-sleeved, dark green blouse, with a short brown skirt.
Bashir smirked. She’d clearly intended to charm him with adorability. It was certainly effective. “You’re late.”
She looked off and shrugged, her smile growing. “As I said…I had work to finish.”
She gave him a look of complete innocence. “You did
order me to do so, Doctor.”
“Ah, yes. So I did.” He decided not to remind her that he’d also
‘ordered’ her not to be late. She knew it—she was simply teasing him, appropriately.
She made a show of looking him up and down. “Well—you seem to be properly dressed for the occasion!”
Bashir chuckled. “As do you. Now…shall we?”
She returned the laugh, and extended her hand to him. “Of course!”
He took it, as he went out into the hall, the door locking behind him.
* * *
As the evening sky darkened, they eventually found their way to the Caranala Club
. Within, the stone walls were covered in flowered vines and foliage. Palms grew here and there throughout the floor—and in false “breaks” between the walls. There was a ceiling—but it was designed and decorated in such a way to simulate a night sky breaking through the rain forest. Amid the faint sounds of animal life not really there, they could hear a “lounge” musical style which reminded Bashir somewhat of Vic Fontaine’s….
He looked up from his dinner, and noticed that Miss Holland had barely touched hers. She was looking around at her exotic surroundings, with a look of enthusiastic wonder in her eyes….
He smiled. He always loved to see that in the personality of a woman—that innocence, that childlike joy for life, and all its pleasures.
“I take it this is your first time here?” he asked.
She turned to him with a blink. “Hmm?”
He chuckled. “I was asking whether you’ve been here before.”
“Oh…no, Doctor. I haven’t been to Risa at all, before now.”
“Really? Well, I suppose there’s a first time for everything.”
“Now, may I be so bold as to presume that you’re not exactly here on vacation?”
She blinked again, frowning. “Doctor?”
“Well—perhaps it’s the romantic in me…I’d always imagined what it would be like to be a…‘secret agent’, sent to exotic places around the universe…serving Queen and Country, as they say, while also enjoying the many pleasures of wherever I’m sent….”
She smiled, and gave a light shrug. “Well, sometimes that is
“But not all the time, of course.”
She looked off, shaking her head with a sigh. “No…certainly not.”
Bashir leaned back in his seat. “So—are
you on assignment?”
She turned back to him, and chuckled. “I see it’s impossible to fool you on that sort of thing, Doctor.”
“I’d say so.”
She narrowed her eyes as she leaned forward, beckoning with her finger. Bashir happily obliged, leaning to her, as she spoke in a near whisper:
“You’re right, Doctor. I’m here on assignment.”
He nodded with a grin. “Doing what?”
“Well…if you’ll keep this confidential…”
“My dear Miss Holland…I pride myself on my trustworthiness.”
“Thank you, Doctor. Now…” as she folded her hands in front of her, growing serious, “Intelligence has been receiving reports of Syndicate activity in this sector for the past several weeks. We suspect they have a base of operations here
Bashir frowned. “The Orion Syndicate?”
“Is there another ‘Syndicate’ we should be aware of?”
He shrugged. “Any idea what they’re planning?”
“Not exactly…but there have also been recent withdrawals of large sums of latinum from certain accounts in the Bank of Bolius which we’ve been monitoring.”
“Hold on,” Bashir held up a hand, doing a double-take. “Isn’t that illegal, to spy on the Bolius accounts? They’re supposed to be neutral….”
“They don’t know about us. Our operatives have been doubling as…as bankers, in order to look at the transfer records….”
“Of course. Now, you think the withdrawals are to fund something, or…?”
“We don’t know. All we do know is that an establishment a few block away from here—the Palais de Mystère—has been completely bought out a week ago, by a man named Crolin, who paid all at once…in latinum, Doctor Bashir.”
He nodded slowly, taking it all in. “By ‘bought out’, you mean…”
“Completely private—no stockholding. Total and complete ownership.”
“Well…perhaps it’s a simple case of corrupt dealing and buyouts…in which case, it’d be in the jurisdiction of—”
“Doctor…if that were all, why purchase in full, so quickly? Why the rush…unless they were planning something to happen…very
Bashir narrowed his eyes. “Something…”
, Doctor. Something important enough to warrant that amount of latinum.”
“I see…. So, you’re to investigate the new owner of the Palais.”
“Why didn’t you check in to that
“We didn’t want to risk it. I report regularly to my superiors, and we can’t afford the possibility of anyone spying on me in my quarters, and destroying my cover.”
Bashir smiled. “I’m impressed, Miss Holland. This seems like a very important assignment—especially for someone who’s not a full agent. And it would seem you deserve it.”
She smiled, with a blink of her eyes. “Thank you.”
“Of course. Now…have you made contact with the new owners, as of yet?”
“Not yet. That’s what I was preparing for, tonight, before I came to you door—I was analyzing the information we already have, and then confirming everything with my contact at Headquarters.”
He nodded. “Very good…. All right, Miss Holland…how detailed is your plan, then?”
“Detailed, Doctor? No…I have to anticipate according to things I wouldn’t be aware of beforehand.” She hesitated, and tilted her head. “Are you asking to join me?”
Bashir kept his face unreadable. “Now why would I ask something so absurd?”
Holland smiled, and shrugged again. “Because…you’re too curious?”
Bashir laughed. “Well, that would certainly describe me! All the same…I’m not authorized for this sort of thing.”
“Of course not.”
They stared at each other in silence, both struggling to keep smiles from breaking. Finally, they both gave up, laughing despite themselves.
Bashir shook his head. “All right. You have me—if you want me.”
Holland narrowed her eyes and grinned, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “I do
Bashir grinned inside at the double meaning of her answer. “Oh…call me ‘Julian’.”
She blinked, her smile vanishing in bewilderment. “Well, I—”
“Well, after all, I have a name and reputation—more so than you do, certainly. If I’m to come along, surely we need a cover, don’t we?”
“I…suppose so. But, I don’t see what that has—”
“So, in that case, you and I, we are a happily engaged couple, and we’re looking for the perfect resort for our future honeymoon.”
Her eyes widened, as her smile returned. “Doctor…I had no idea
“That we were going to be married? Neither did I—but after a considerable period of courtship, I found myself proposing almost against my will to you a few nights ago—the end of our first day here, as it were. On the beach, as the sun was setting…the soft sound of the waves soothing our hearts—the usual.”
“I see. Quite romantic.”
“I should think so. Now, caught up in the passion of the aftermath, we’re eagerly setting out to plan everything out. In this case…our honeymoon.”
“Shall we get a ring…Julian?”
“Oh, not necessarily. Not unless you already have something you could use. As I said, it was all unexpected, and therefore rushed.”
She nodded. “All right. That’s settled, then.”
Bashir leaned back in his seat. “So…the Palais de…”
“The Palais de Mystère, Julian.”
“Right. You know, you pronounced that perfectly—far better than I could, anyway.”
She looked off. “Well…I suppose my family history helps me in that, you could say.”
“Ah. A French background?”
“Well, yes; my mother was French, my father was English.”
“Indeed. I wouldn’t have known it from your name. ‘Cynthia’ isn’t French.”
“Oh, but my middle
name is, Doctor.”
“And it would be…?”
She squirmed for a moment, and finally blurted out, “‘Mirabelle’.”
Julian felt his eyes bulge. “Heavens—not the plum
She burst out laughing, and shook her head. “Actually, I’d often asked them about that! Mother swore to me they’d meant it in its literal
“Ah.” Mirabelle…“lovely…wondrous…of incredible beauty”.
“Well, your parents were certainly on to something, I’d say.”
Her lips parted as her smile grew. “Merci
, Doctor!” she said in a near whisper.
Julian returned the smile. “You’re welcome.”
A French background…how terribly ironic. Unbidden, the memory of a woman he hadn’t thought about for years…came to him, now:
Palis…my first love…the woman whom, for so long, I feared could never be equaled in my heart. For so long…the perfect woman in my eyes, until…until Ezri had walked into my life
There was a certain something those two past loves shared, wasn’t there? The same inner beauty…the same grace of spirit…the same tender, romantic heart. Of course, they had looked so very different from one another—but that was irrelevant. What had made them the two greatest loves in his life was still the same, when it mattered—although…he found himself thinking that he wouldn’t have abandoned the latter by his own choice, as he had the former….
Funny—this woman, sitting across from me…she looks so much like Palis. A little different, but…the resemblance is still there, now that I think if it.
—Oh, what are you
doing, Julian? Comparing this girl to Ezri, over and over—and now Palis…it’s not fair to Cynthia, at all! She’s who
she is—no one else.
And yet…on the other hand…there
is something about all three, isn’t there? Something…which always draws me to a certain kind of woman
Bashir looked at her, his curiosity—his desire to become closer to her—growing by the minute. “Cynthia Mirabelle Holland….”
She nodded. “Julian Subatoi Bashir….”
Bashir returned the nod. “That’s right.”
“And your background is…?”
“Yes—my father’s from England. My mother’s Arabic.”
“Oh, they’re still alive?”
“Of course. Father’s a landscape architect. He’s been doing very well, I’d say. In fact—”
He cut himself off, when the implications of her question became clear.
“Oh…” Julian whispered, staring at her in compassion. She just met his gaze, with a look of sad, nostalgic regret.
He shook his head slowly. “I…I’m sorry, Cynthia.”
She blinked, and her gaze fell. “It’s…quite all right, Doctor,” she whispered. “It’s been some years since…since I lost them.”
“When I was in the Academy, my second year. A climbing accident. I don’t think about it, really.”
“I…well…how close were you to them?”
She looked off, and sighed. “Not as much as I would have liked.”
Julian stared at her, saying nothing.
She shrugged, and turned back to him. “We seem to be bearing our souls to each other, Doctor.”
“I suppose so….”
“Well, thank you—for caring.”
Julian swallowed, and managed to reply, “It was nothing.”
She nodded, her gaze falling.
Julian shook his head again. He was filled with sympathy for her…he knew full well what it was like to be separate, alone—even if his own parents were still alive.
And so, he found himself taking her hand. It felt so soft…so frail, underneath his own.
She blinked in surprise as she saw what he did…but she didn’t resist. Her other hand rested on his, and she looked at him, her eyes sparkling, with a warm, grateful smile.
Despite himself, Julian started musing, Confound it, Bashir—why does nearly every woman you share a mutual attraction with turn out to be emotionally
vulnerable, in some way or another? Melora, Sarina, Ezri—is it your Oath as a doctor run amuck, or something? Does that, in some terrible way…does it somehow make things worse for her—?
He cut himself off again. Oh, knock it off. That’s the
last sort of mindset you should be having, right now. She says she’s over it. She’s proven she can live with it. What she needs is your empathy—and you’ve given it to her. With that, you two can move on.
Finally, Julian cleared his throat, and muttered, “Well, um…we’d best make plans for the mission at hand.”
The girl nodded…and the two pulled back their hands, and returned to their dinner.
* * *