And at last...the conclusion.:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"From Risa With Love"
One week later…
* * *
The night hour still surrounded Julian Bashir as he awoke in his quarters on Deep Space Nine. He felt a slight ache in both his arms. Perhaps—
But as he tried to move them…he found he couldn’t. They were bound to the wall behind him—with thick strips of linen. His feet were bound in the same way, to the feet of his bed.
He leaned back with a sigh. “All right, Cynthia,” he muttered. “What do you want?”
From the darkness, he heard her soft, accented voice, with a cruelly pleased tone in her voice. “I should think it were obvious…Doctor
She came out of the shadows, dressed in the standard black leather garb of Section 31. He couldn’t help but notice how tight it looked, how much it emphasized her glamorous, enchanting figure. And the way she carried herself as she walked over…it was almost as if she were going out of her way to emphasize her femininity to him—and her triumph over him for this night.
She gave him a firm, contemptuous smile, as she sat on the side of the bed, facing him…her golden hair spread about her shoulders. She held herself high, like a queen, who now held under her grasp the renegade who had so humiliated her. “Poetic justice…wouldn’t you agree?”
He just sighed. He found himself wondering what he had hoped to accomplished, then…when he had done this to her
. Had it really been necessary—?
He shoved the idea away, and spoke not only to her, but to his own conscience. “I had to, Cynthia. You know you wouldn’t have told me the truth otherwise.”
She sighed, her smile vanishing. “I know…. But to be honest, Doctor, that’s
what amuses me. You…you always lecture us about ‘morals’ and ‘principles’—how we must never violate them, even if it seems necessary.”
Her smile returned, as she reached over with her right hand, to stroke his cheek.
“Tell me…what values were you holding true to, then
…hmm? You took me…” her hand moved down his chin…his neck, “You seduced me…. You…held me…”
Her hand rested on his chest. “And then, as I lay there, asleep in your arms…content…” she gestured around him with her left, indicating the bonds, “You did this
Bashir just stared at her, saying nothing. Holland looked down at him, chuckling with amusement, slowly drumming her fingers on his chest.
“How did it feel, Doctor?” she asked, in a sweet, teasing tone. “Was I a cheap plaything for you, to do with as you please…hmm? Why did you—the moral…virtuous…honorable
Dr. Julian Bashir…why did you deceive me into that?”
Bashir shook his head, his eyes narrowed in contempt. “Don’t insult my intelligence, Cynthia. You people have no concept of ‘honor’, so don’t behave for a moment as if you’re
an innocent victim.”
She stiffened, and her smile turned cold. “Of course. What I
did to you was worse, so that justifies it all…doesn’t it?”
He said nothing.
Holland doodled on his chest with her finger. “Really, Doctor…you’re a walking contradiction. Why won’t you just accept it—hmm? Why don’t you accept that, in your heart…you’re not that high, noble, righteous moralist you claim to be?”
“I don’t need to explain myself, Cynthia. I have nothing to say to you.”
She studied him for a moment…and slowly shook her head. “Of course not. Neither did I, Doctor…five years ago.”
Bashir blinked, his curiosity getting the better of him. “Five years…was that when you first—?”
She nodded, and her tone turned dreamy, nostalgic. “I wasn’t that far different from you, really. Someone who knew, in her heart, what was right.” She gave a shrug, which looked to Bashir to be a little forced—an attempt to dismiss how the memories affected her. “And then, one day…reality forced itself onto me.”
Bashir swallowed a bit. “Reality
Cynthia nodded, her smile fading. “I witnessed—something the Bureau did. Something you might call ‘terrible’…atrocious.”
Bashir couldn’t help asking, “What was it?”
She turned away from him without answering, looking out the window, into the stars. “I had nothing to say, either. I broke down…I cried.” She blinked, and her lip seemed to quiver. “I saw myself losing…losing everything. Everything that had made me…made me what I was.”
Bashir shook his head. “And you let it happen? You stayed
She turned back to him, her smile returning…sad, simple. “I wish I could make you understand, but—you’re too stubborn. Even when you keep finding yourself doing what you hate us
for doing…you couldn’t understand.”
For a while, Bashir said nothing. He found himself looking into her eyes—and all his bitterness vanished. He saw…he saw the girl Cynthia Holland once was…the girl she still
was…the innocent young woman who was still struggling to make sense of the cruelties of the universe. And he saw how, for all his disgust at her having deceived him…he saw how he
had hurt her in her struggle, through what he’d done…despite her smiling protest at the idea of it affecting her like that.
No, Cynthia…you’re wrong. You said you “lost” that innocence inside you…the purity? You
didn’t—it was always there, Cynthia, always visible, just covered in…everything
they threw at you.
And so…he felt his heart soften, and he spoke—not to the agent she imagined herself to be…but to the beautiful girl, inside and out, whom he had allowed himself to fall in love with, for so short a time…the girl who had met him, that first day, on the Risan beach…the girl whom he had held in his arms, that fateful night…the girl who was still searching…still crying inside.
“Cynthia,” he said, “I’m sorry.”
She raised an eyebrow at this. “Sorry? For what? For handling me like a cheap, common—?”
“Hear me out, Cynthia. I still saved your life. You owe me that
much, at least.”
She stared at him for a moment…and nodded. “All right.”
As he gathered his thoughts, he looked at her sitting there…proud, golden, and still as beautiful and captivating as ever.
“Cynthia, you know you’re a slave—don’t you? A slave to them
, and whatever they taught you to believe about the universe. And, somehow…you hate it. You hate every minute of it.”
“Oh, do I?” she replied, looking blankly at him.
Bashir nodded slowly. That’s why you told me what happened to you…somehow, you
want me to help you. I’m just not sure if
I’m the right person to do it.
But he had to try. And so, he went on, “You’re only able to look yourself in the mirror…because you do exactly what you’re accusing me
of doing. You’re denying it all…denying that it’s hurting you—that it’s keeping you chained. And you keep on working for them
, letting it keep you from asking whether…whether it really is the right thing to do.”
She just stared at him, her face unreadable.
Julian felt his eyes blur. He blinked it away, as he whispered, “I’m sorry…. I just—I wish I could find some way to…to free you from all of that.”
After a moment or two of silence, she tilted her head, and asked, “What makes you think I want
to be free?”
He sighed. Had his hands been untied, he would have spread them out in acknowledged defeat.
She shrugged. “Perhaps…I want
to be ‘enslaved’.”
He shook his head. No, you don’t, Cynthia. I
know you…I know the soul, the spirit inside you. You are
not like the rest of them. They could never corrupt what’s inside you—no matter
how much you try to accept it. Why can’t you see that…?
She moved atop him, her face hovering over his, so that the tresses of her hair fell down by the sides of his head. There was…there was a warm, sad smile on her face, as if she understood his thoughts all too well…and was grateful that he cared.
“Julian,” she said softly, “Believe me…there was nothing you could have done. You…you haven’t said anything right now…that I haven’t said to myself already, many times.”
“Don’t be. It was not as if I’d have left the Bureau for you.”
He frowned, unsure of what to make of this. Why can’t you
see it, Cynthia? Is…is there something you’re not telling me?
She smiled sadly at him, as if reading the question in his eyes. “Doctor, let me ask you one thing. That night…was it really
all an act on your part—or…or did you, despite what you’d discovered about me—did you allow yourself to…put that aside, for a night, and…?”
Julian felt his heart tug at her words, but somehow managed to keep his voice even. “Are you asking whether my feelings for you were real, Cynthia?”
Her voice was barely above a whisper. “Yes…I am.”
He fought to keep his emotions in check. He knew, somehow…that if he told her the truth—that, for that night, at least, he was all too ready to throw aside what he had discovered, and view her as he wanted
her to be—it could well be an injury far worse than what he’d already given her. She might accept it as proof that Section 31 was right—that matters of conscience, even matters of love
were irrelevant to one’s duty…and she would go even deeper into their camp.
On the other hand, if he said “no”…she would take it as proof that she
was right—that his “values and principles” were only skin-deep, that necessity could demand even a dishonest seduction. Worse…it could well forever close whatever doors she’d opened to him…and he would never be able to reach her, again.
And so, all he could say was, “Funny…I was about to ask the same question of you
She straightened up. Her eyes lowered, as her smile’s mood turned to amusement once again. When she met his gaze, she replied. “Did I
feel anything? No…of course not.”
There was something…something in the way she said it—
And with that, the answer hit. Bashir knew full well what she was going to say next. All he could do was shake his head.
“It may interest you to know, Doctor…that I am already in love with a man.” Her smile faded, as she looked off. “And yes, it…it was
hard for me, to have to seduce you, as I did…and then report to him about it all. But…I knew it was necessary.”
Bashir felt sick to his stomach. When he could bring himself to speak, he asked, “Does he love you
Holland blinked, and without looking to him, whispered, “I’m not sure if he even knows. We…I’ve never told him how I feel, let alone act on it.”
Julian said nothing. Cynthia Holland was tied to Section 31 by feelings of admiration and…affection
towards another operative of the Bureau—a superior of hers. It wasn’t the Vulcan, Sorak—he hadn’t detected that sort of affection between the two of them. Her mentor, perhaps?
Whatever or whoever he was…that
man, more than anything or anyone else, was directly responsible for enslaving and chaining this innocent young woman. And so, Julian Bashir’s feelings of contempt and righteous fury had found their target—whoever it would turn out to be. And so help me, if I ever find out the identity of that man…
Holland sighed with what looked like genuine remorse. “I suppose…I’m sorry, too, Julian. If…if I made you…if you did
Bashir tightened his lip, knowing there was nothing further he could say or do—for now, at least. “Miss Holland,” he said evenly, “What we did, that night—I had the same motives you did. Our duty
She looked at him in astonishment, and it seemed as if she were…impressed. “So you do
understand, after all…don’t you?”
“You’re wrong, Cynthia. Don’t think for a moment I felt any pleasure from it all…because I didn’t
She smiled once again, all the warmth in her eyes vanishing away. “Neither did I.”
She reached over to the nearby table, and picked up a hypospray. “You’ll wake up tomorrow morning, to the sound of the normal alarm on your chronometer. When you do, you’ll find yourself untied, and free.”
She leaned over him again, so that her face hovered above his, as she extended the hypo to his neck. “Until we meet again, Julian Bashir.”
Bashir narrowed his eyes. “If that ever
happens…don’t expect to put all this behind—”
He felt the pressure against his neck, heard the hiss as the sedative took hold. As his vision blurred, he heard her voice, one last time, in a soft, gentle whisper:
He nodded slowly, and managed to respond, “So am I….”
And the last thing Julian Bashir felt, before sleep overcame him…was the feel of her lips on his…one…last…time….
* * *
Julian Bashir Will Return….