Now, back to Ezri--and a couple visitors.
I should note before we begin--let me assure everyone that I'm not
trying to "rush" things, and pull a reconciliation out of the blue, regarding the characters in this sequence.
As for Ezri, her mindset comes out of my already-posted tale "Serenity Prayer".
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Ezri Dax’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doors from the office opening. She looked up, rising from the seat for whoever was entering the hall.
Her heart skipped a beat when she saw who it was. When she could bring herself to say something, it was barely above a whisper:
Dr. Julian Bashir stood there with a small, sad smile, Sarina Douglass standing beside him.
“Hi, Ezri,” he said, in the same quiet tone.
Of all the people who’d be here…who’d come here…
She managed to say, “Well, I—I’m glad to see you again, but…what are you doing here?”
Julian looked off for a moment, his smile fading.
Ezri shook her head. “I’m sorry—that…that didn’t come out right.”
“No, it’s all right. I just…I heard about what was happening. I’ve been watching—we’ve all
been watching this.”
Ezri nodded slowly, and frowned. “Where is
Julian sighed. “Well…otherwise occupied—I’m lucky I
was able to leave. Still…everyone’s quite involved in what’s going on.” He smirked. “Nerys wanted to storm over here and dress down the lot of them.”
Ezri chuckled a bit at this. “I take it you calmed her down a bit on that.”
“Perhaps…but I’d say she speaks for all of us.”
Ezri nodded slowly, and then turned to the woman by his side. “Hi, Sarina.”
Sarina seemed to swallow a bit, as if all too aware of the awkwardness of the whole thing. “Hello, Captain.”
Ezri turned back to Julian. “So…how is everyone?”
Julian stiffened slightly, as if unsure of whether to bring something unfortunate up. Finally, he said, “Fine…for the most part. Kira’s a Vedek, now.”
Ezri’s eyes widened. “A Vedek
“Oh, yes. Sisko’s remarked that he sees her becoming Kai, some day.”
Ezri nodded. “So…how is
Julian looked as if he was suppressing his immediate reaction to the question. “Well…perhaps he’d prefer to tell you himself, when this is over.”
Ezri frowned. “I hope nothing’s wrong.”
“I’m not sure. It’s just…” he shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Ezri stared at him for a moment, unsure of what to make of this. Logging this curiosity in her mind, she made a mental note to call her old friend after all this, and ask what in heaven’s name was going on.
“Well, with all that’s happening,” she finally said, “It doesn’t look too good for any of us, does it?”
Sarina spoke up. “To be honest, Captain…from the looks of things, it won’t be long before actual fighting breaks out. With what happened with the Romulans—well, my superiors think there are some major power plays going on. The Pact members are all trying to come out on top, showing strength, that sort of thing. And if a war should start—that could be the perfect moment for someone to emerge as the leader.”
Ezri nodded. “They all just want us
to look like the ones who started it….”
Sarina returned the nod, “Exactly.”
“Well…what are the odds the Romulans will switch sides? I’ve heard the new Praetor was famous for being a friend of ours—”
“Uh, Captain—even if she still is
our friend…she needs the Senate behind her. I wouldn’t take for granted that she’s on our side.”
Ezri sighed. “Right
…” she whispered in frustration. This just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Julian cleared his throat, turning to her. “Um…Sarina, could you excuse us for a moment?”
Both women turned to him in astonishment. What—what’s this all about?
Sarina finally nodded in apparent understanding. She turned back to Ezri, and said, “If it’s all right with you, Captain…I’d like to have a few minutes after him—to discuss…your current situation.”
Of course. She’s with Starfleet Intelligence. That should be interesting.
Ezri nodded. “That’d be great.”
Sarina excused herself, and left the hall.
Julian paused for a moment, as if gathering himself, and pressed the control on the wall, turning off the force field.
Ezri stepped aside for him, hands clasped behind her back, suddenly aware that she hadn’t felt this tense since that time in Sickbay, almost seven years ago, when she’d tried to explain to Julian why she’d been avoiding him….
Now, isn’t it ironic that I should think about
Julian was slowly pacing around the cell, as if unsure of how to begin. She couldn’t blame him at all. After all, last time they’d talked—or more appropriately, tried
Ezri stiffened at that. Gathering herself, she said, “It’s…good to see you again, Julian.”
He turned to her, with a small smile. “Same here. I suppose…neither of us thought it would be this soon, after…”
Ezri closed her eyes, her head lowered. “I know.”
She remembered, after what had happened between them, during what was supposed to be a nice, sentimental dinner in her quarters on the Aventine
…she’d made it a point not to interact with him any more than she had to—which meant, not until she saw him and Sarina off, as they beamed back to DS9. The pain over…the incident…had been too much for her. She’d basically been in a state of shock for the whole mission: cold, professional, refusing to feel anything. Simon had helped her recover after the aftermath, but…
She opened her eyes, bringing herself to meet his gaze. “About that…”
He said nothing, looking at her patiently.
“Julian,” Ezri asked, “Are…you up for an apology?”
Julian frowned in concern. “For what?”
Ezri shook her head in bewilderment. “‘For what
’? Are you serious?”
He sighed. “Ezri…”
“Julian—last time we were alone, I called you a moonstruck, incompetent
“As I recall, I all but accused you
of self-dishonesty and hypocrisy.”
I said you were just risking your life for—”
,” Julian calmly held up his hand.
Ezri froze—and broke her gaze, shaking her head with an embarrassed chuckle. “Oh, there I go again…” she muttered, to herself more than to him.
Arguing over arguing. I should be better than that—I was a
Julian sighed, and resumed his pacing for a moment. Finally, he stopped, and turned to face her. “To be honest, Ezri…it’s not as if I didn’t deserve it all.”
She turned to him, astonished. “What—of course
“No…really. I didn’t want to admit it, but…you may have been right. Maybe I—maybe I was
too arrogant, letting my…emotions get the better of me. I—” he swallowed, “I can’t tell you how many times on that mission I found myself—well, in over my head.”
He’s blaming himself. I can’t—
He looked off, and sighed. “You know…come to think of it, even Sarina told me the only reason I was coming on the mission was—because…”
Ezri shook her head. “No—Julian…whether I was right or not, I know—better than most people, I think—how well you can handle yourself, regardless of what you’re doing. It wasn’t my place to question your abilities, or your…” she stared at the floor, “your choice of…”
Ezri swallowed a bit, and raised her head to meet his gaze. “Yes…” she managed to say.
I’ve lost that right a long time ago…haven’t I? I left you—it was my choice, regardless of how bad that choice was. How could you know whether I’d have a change of heart—of
course you’d find someone else! Who am I to get angry at you for that? It’s my own fault, isn’t it?
Julian looked at her sympathetically for a moment, as if he’d heard her latest thoughts. Finally, he said in a near whisper, “I don’t blame you. Were I in your position…I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have responded the same way. It’s only…”
Ezri smiled. “…human?”
Julian chuckled. “For lack of a better term.”
“Still…it was wrong of me. There was no excuse for it—at all.”
Julian didn’t respond, looking as though he was thinking the same thing—about himself. For a while…they stared at one another in silence, unsure of what to say. Finally, Ezri brought herself to speak again.
“We were afraid of something like that happening…weren’t we?”
He frowned at her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, when we first…came together. Weren’t we afraid of going too fast, because of our—our friendship?”
Julian stared at the ground for a moment. “I remember,” he muttered.
Ezri nodded. “We said that…if it didn’t work out—it would destroy what we already…”
Julian looked at her. “You think it did?”
Ezri flinched, and sighed. “I think…it caused a lot of pain—for both of us. And every time we saw each other, it got harder and harder not to feel…”
She nodded. “I guess…we had a lot buried up inside…didn’t we?”
Julian paused for a moment, and asked, “Can we sit down?”
“Oh—of course! Right here…”
They sat on the bench, not too far apart, but…Ezri knew the gap formed six years ago hadn’t gone away.
After a while, she shook her head. To herself more than to him, she muttered, “You know something? I told myself that if I just gave it time, I’d be able to heal. But…somehow, it just…it didn’t happen.”
“Not for me, either,” Julian said.
Ezri looked to him. Julian was gazing off, as if deep in thought….
Ezri felt a tugging at her heart—of sympathy, of compassion, but mostly of guilt, over the loneliness in Julian’s soul—the loneliness that she
had caused in him. “I know…” she whispered, blinking back a tear.
The appropriate words to follow would have been that she didn’t know why
they didn’t heal—but of course, that would’ve been a lie. She knew all too well, for about a year now. And—she wanted to tell him. Everything inside her begged
for the chance to tell him the truth—the truth about how she felt, how she still
But—but she couldn’t
. She knew all too well that now, of all times, was the wrong
time. The last thing she needed was to go into a penal colony knowing she’d caused him that kind of pain—the guilt of knowing that she still loved him, but was unable to do anything about it, for however years she’d be sentenced.
But, even if she hadn’t
been in that kind of situation…there was still Sarina. She had no right
to risk destroying what solace and comfort Julian now had in his new relationship—it would be a blow far worse than anything she’d ever done before.
Ezri swallowed, and continued, “And I am
sorry, Julian. For everything.”
Julian turned to her at this, and replied, “Ezri, regardless of whatever’s happened between us…I still consider you one of my dearest friends, in the entire universe. Nothing can ever
Ezri blinked a bit, feeling a smile. “Really?”
Julian returned the smile in full, and nodded. “And again—you were probably right. My reaction was…well, I suppose you could call it proof of that. I was so stuck on the idea of my being right
…that I shut out any advice to the contrary. Sometimes, I suppose, I can be very…stubborn.”
Ezri raised an eyebrow. “Remind you of anyone?”
They shared a chuckle at this. Julian shrugged, and said, “Well, I…suppose I’m trying to say that I’m sorry too, for what happened last time.”
Ezri nodded slowly. “So…do we forgive each other, for that?”
Julian smiled. “Of course,” he extended a hand. “Friends?”
Ezri felt a grin of her own, as she took it. “Friends.”
She noticed they held on for a moment longer than necessary. But then…it was a very important moment in their lives, wasn’t it?
When they let go, they stared off at the opposite wall for a while. Finally, Ezri added, “I just wanted you to know…in case…”
She let her voice trail off, finishing only in her heart.
…in case this turns out for the worst. I know I can’t tell you that I love you, Julian…but at least, I didn’t want what happened, then, to be—to be the last word between us
Julian nodded, and asked, “How are you handling…all this?”
Ezri sighed, almost in relief for getting off the previous subject. “I don’t know. One moment, I’m absolutely certain I did the right thing. The next…I find myself wondering if I’m not getting exactly what I deserve.”
Julian blinked, staring at her in astonishment. “What…Ezri! You’re nothing
like—like what they’re accusing you of!”
She turned to him, as a thought—and a memory—suddenly came to her. “Am I?”
“You can’t be serious. They’re calling you a reckless murderer
with no regard for the rules or the peace.”
“And nothing! It’s disgraceful
—do they even realize what they’re doing?”
Ezri paused for a moment. “You know…a year ago, I’d have said the exact same thing. But…after our mission…”
Julian shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
Ezri stiffened, slowly letting out a sigh, finding herself haunted…haunted by a memory all too recent.
“Julian…” she said, “When we came to your rescue, I made absolutely sure no one else could escape. I…all those people—I-I let them all die
…and then just sat back, and let Command spin it, and claim that I’d intended to rescue them—I was just too late.”
She blinked back a tear. “Julian, w-would it have been wrong if…if I had
tried to save them—for real?”
“Ezri…you did what you had to do.”
Ezri tried her best to force a smile…but couldn’t. “That what I’ve always told myself. But…all those people, Julian. They’re dead
because of me. I…”
She turned away, staring at the floor. She’d never admitted those feelings to anyone—not even herself. She’d refused to dwell on what had happened for so long…and now, somehow, the memory came back to torment her, at the worst possible time.
That station…that laboratory—destroyed. And all those people with it…just so things would be “clean”.
She finally managed to say, “Maybe…maybe I’m finally being punished for that—just not in the way I’d expected.”
“Ezri, listen to me. You know as well as I did, we couldn’t take the risk that some of them might have…exposed the truth of what had happened—what Sarina and I were doing.”
Julian looked off for a moment, with a bitter smile, “Come to think of it…I did a lot
of things on that mission I’m not proud of. But…I came to understand that it was either do those things, or allow millions more to die in a war that none of us would really be prepared for.”
“I know,” Ezri muttered, “But I still feel like I got away with something I shouldn’t have. Whether I needed to do it or not…sometimes, I think I—that I have
to go through some kind of penance for it—at least.”
Julian turned to her. “And you think that’s what’s happening now—Fate, coming back to haunt you?”
Ezri shook her head. “Julian…I just don’t know.”
Julian sighed, saying nothing for a while. And then…Ezri felt him, as he put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
She looked to him, frankly stunned by the gesture—although, to be honest…she suddenly realized it meant more to her than anything else he could have done.
“Ezri,” he said warmly, “I don’t believe that for a moment. No matter what anyone says…you don’t deserve this—any of this.”
“You…how can you be sure of that?”
He smiled. “I know you
Ezri said nothing…just stared at him in silence, unsure of how to respond.
Do you really know me, Julian? Do you understand what I’m feeling, right now? Do you understand…understand
why I exploded like I did, in my quarters, then? Do you understand all the frustration I felt—all the pain I went through, when I’d first realized—no, first
accepted—what I’d done?
How can I, let alone
you, accept that I’m the same person you knew…the same woman you fell in love with—after all that’s happened?
Julian met her gaze, his eyes firm, and certain. “Ezri,” he continued, “You are nothing
like what they’re accusing you of. Didn’t Sam say, yesterday, that your respect for life—and the rules that protect it—would never
allow you to take it so recklessly?”
“Well, he’s right.”
Her gaze fell. “I don’t know…I just feel like I’ve changed too much for my own good.”
“Well, I do
know.” His voice turned firm. “You’re a very…a very special person, Ezri—nothing can change that. And no matter what happens…I’ll always
believe in you.”
She looked up at him, stunned silent. After all that had happened before…all she’d done to him…he could say
all that—so simply, so clearly?
He smiled, and rose from the bench. “I’ll be at the hearings, for the rest of it all. I suppose…I felt it was the least I could do.”
Ezri stood, and replied, “Well, my testimony’s the day after tomorrow. They apparently want to hear the statements from the Breen about this whole thing, first.”
Julian nodded. “I take it…you won’t be there, tomorrow?”
“No…I’ve heard it all before. They aren’t requiring me to, anyway.”
“All right. I’ll be there Friday, then, to hear you speak.”
Julian turned to go, but Ezri spoke up. “Julian?”
He turned to her, and she walked up to him, looking deep into his eyes.
“Thank you,” she said.
Julian smiled, and replied, “Give them everything you’ve got.”
Ezri smiled. “I intend to.”
There was nothing she wanted more, right then, to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, in gratitude for all he had said and done for her tonight. But…she knew she couldn’t. It would be far too cruel…for both of them.
And for Sarina
, a voice in the back of her mind couldn’t resist adding. Which reminded her—
“So,” she said, “Sarina said she wanted to talk to me….”
Julian seemed to stiffen a bit, as if at an unfortunate jolt back to reality—or was that just her imagination? “Right,” he quietly replied, and stepped back, hesitating for a moment before reluctantly turning the field back on.
“Good luck out there,” he said.
Ezri nodded. “To both of us.”
As she watched him leave, Ezri put a hand to her shoulder for a moment, feeling where Julian had held her a few minutes before.
For goodness sake, Ezri—don’t get your hopes up, like that. That’s what got you into trouble last time, wasn’t it? It’s not like he kissed you, or held you tight in his arms, or anything. All he did was put his hand on your
shoulder. Friends do that all the time, don’t they?
But…it wasn’t just that—it was how well he’d accepted what she’d said, how easily he had reconciled with her over that unfortunate night on the Aventine
—how much of the canyon between them seemed to close so easily
…just like that. Everything just seemed so…so impossibly right
Was…was it possible…?
Oh, knock it off. That’s the
last thing you should be thinking—especially considering who’s talking to you next!
And so, she shoved away those thoughts for another time, as she mentally prepared to be interviewed by Sarina Douglass.
* * *