Title: Nothing in the Galaxy
Author: DianeB
Rating: G

Summary: Molly O'Brien gets sick while Dax is babysitting and slips into a coma. Bashir can't seem to discover the cause. The O'Brien's are worried sick, and Dax is consumed with guilt. Enter Garak. Written sometime after June, 1996, when the episode "Body Parts" first aired.

Disclaimer: Paramount, er, CBS owns it all. I accept this.

Molly O'Brien sat in the damp sand at the water's edge, dressed in her favorite neon pink swimsuit. She was surrounded by colorful plastic buckets in various sizes, busying herself with constructing her version of a castle. She was quite happy to be there, in the warm clean golden sand, not at all like the dingy gray beach she'd been on with her mother on Bajor. It was okay that it was only holosand, because while she was sitting on it, her young mind really didn't care about the difference. Having an engineer for a father, however, she did understand that she couldn't cart it off to her room like she wanted, but still, she was plenty content. The sand was perfect for building and her little heart was happy, even if she didn't quite own the vocabulary to express it.

Jadzia Dax sat further inland on a vivid white terrycloth beach towel beneath a huge red-and-white striped umbrella, in a classic navy one-piece suit, reading a book and lifting her head every once in a while to look at the child. The sun of this program was fierce and would burn spots and skin alike in very short order if one wasn't careful, failsafes or no failsafes. She had coated Molly liberally with a powerful sunscreen and she herself would not wander far from the protection of the umbrella, but she enjoyed simply watching the little girl. Molly was a delightfully self-entertaining child and absolutely no trouble, which always made it easy for Jadzia to offer to babysit when she'd get wind that Miles was trying for a few days alone with Keiko.

She knew the O'Brien's would have scant opportunity to be alone together after the new baby arrived. And now that Kira was carrying the child for them, they were reluctant to let the major out of their sight, let alone their daughter, so when Miles started putting out feelers for a babysitter, Jadzia quickly volunteered.

This very morning, she, Kira, and Molly had seen Miles and Keiko off on a five-day trip to Risa. This would be a vacation for Kira, too, and the last Jadzia saw of her, she was lumbering unevenly towards the turbolift, sneezing violently, headed for the sweet solitude of her own quarters.

And now here Jadzia and Molly were, in private bliss on "Molly-O's Beach," where they had been for the past hour. Quark had outdone himself with this program. He was still recovering from being declared an outcast in Ferengi society by Brunt, after he broke a contract with him. Of course, the contract had been made based on the fact that Quark thought he was dying and had put his remains on the Ferengi futures exchange. Brunt had purchased Quark's remains and then demanded he make good on the deal even after Quark learned he had been misdiagnosed. Since that was impossible, Brunt simply confiscated his assets, leaving the bar with nothing but a few dangling wires.

DS9 personnel began appearing in the bar almost immediately with glassware, booze, and fixtures, intent on restocking and refurnishing. They had not permitted Quark to refuse one single offering, and it had been something of a divine revelation to Quark to realize these people thought of him as a friend. This program was one way Quark could show his appreciation without having to actually say anything.

Besides the gorgeous beach, there were gulls and other seabirds hopping and screeching along the shoreline, dolphins frolicking just beyond the breakers, and even a salty breeze every once in a while. Jadzia decided it was perfectly lovely and allowed one wistful thought that it would be a nice place to bring Lenara. But that was for another time, she hoped. Meantime, her stomach was rumbling and she figured if hers was, so was Molly's.

"Hey, kiddo, you hungry?"

"Yes, Jax," Molly responded, using the nickname she had made up for the Trill. No one else was allowed to use this nickname. No one else had better try.

"Do you want to eat here at Quark's or out on the Promenade somewhere?"

Jadzia knew it was not a great idea to give a child a choice, but she couldn't resist with Molly, who always gave serious thought to her answers. As predicted, Molly scrunched up her face in deep concentration and then said the name of a popular children's restaurant on the other side of the Promenade. Jadzia sighed. Win some, lose some.

Jadzia rose, cleared the umbrella, yawned and stretched her slim spotted limbs, then bent effortlessly at the waist to pick up her book.

"Gather your stuff, honey, and we'll get going."

She stood watching the little girl once more as she set about putting her stuff in order. Jadzia thought absently that she would probably never tire of watching Molly.

Molly stood up, giving her backside a fleeting swipe to remove some of the sand, and then hunkered down again to fix her buckets. They were her own personal property and they nestled neatly together, the biggest one complete with a handle. They could and would be carted off the holosuite with her. As she started to do this, she saw a small lizard-like creature the exact color of the sand crawling into the smallest container. She gave it no further attention, knowing it would disappear when she exited, same as everything else.

Buckets ready, she padded through the dry sand to the waiting Trill. Jadzia ended and saved the program and they exited the holosuite. All the sticky sand disappeared, but when Molly glanced down into her buckets, she noticed the little lizard was still there.

Before eating, however, a quick stop in the O'Brien's quarters was necessary. Once inside, Jadzia peeled off Molly's suit, tossed it into the replicator and tossed Molly into the bathtub. She rinsed her swiftly, lifted her out, and deposited her on her bed wrapped in a towel. Jadzia rummaged through Molly's dresser and came up with an outfit.

"Put these on, sweetie, and I'll be back in a second, okay?"


Jadzia went into the bathroom to take a quick shower. Molly dried off and dressed, minus shoes and socks. Barefoot, she tiptoed out to the living room and up to her buckets, still sitting by the door where she had dropped them. She peered cautiously into the small one. The lizard was still there, now the color of the blue bucket. It had cocked its little head at her movement, one tiny black eye staring up at her. Molly couldn't resist reaching in to touch it and when she did, the little thing scurried right up her arm and perched on her shoulder. She giggled, causing the creature to skitter ticklishly across the back of her neck to her other shoulder. This produced a full-throated laugh.

"Hey!" Jadzia cried, popping her head out of the bathroom door, "what's so funny out there?"

Molly continued to laugh as she reached up to grab the little animal, but it did not want to be grabbed, opting instead to nip her finger and jump off her shoulder. It hit the floor running and disappeared under the bookshelf against the wall by the door, its blue color already faded in preparation for its next camouflage endeavor.

Tears immediately welled up in her dark almond eyes, and a muffled whimper replaced the laughter, as Molly stuck her finger into her mouth to soothe the stinging. After a moment of sucking, the stinging stopped. She yanked it out and studied it, but could see no mark. But it had felt funny and she didn't like it one bit. She raised her volume a notch and commenced crying. Jadzia, now dressed, was beside her in an instant.

"Honey, what's wrong? I thought I heard you laughing out here a minute ago!"

Jadzia gathered Molly into her arms and walked her to the couch, sitting down with her and looking into her brimming eyes. This was all Molly really needed to cease her crying, but she continued to huff and sniffle in the manner of kids everywhere, a stray tear every now and then running down her face. She puffed out her bottom lip in a perfect pout and held her finger out to Jadzia.

"Bit me. Hurt."

"What bit you, Molly?"

Jadzia glanced sharply around the room, immediately on alert, hand on her tricorder. But absolutely nothing looked out of place or foreign, so she dismissed using the tricorder and eased up on the panic. She took Molly's finger and examined it closely. No sign of a bite. No sign of anything. Smiling to herself, Jadzia determined that all Molly needed was her undivided attention, which she was more than willing to provide.

Small finger still in her hand, she brought it up close to her eyes, pretending to study in intensely, sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes in an attempt to distract the little girl. Then she brought the finger to her lips and gave it a big, noisy kiss.

"There. All better!"

These theatrics served as fine distraction. Molly's face lit up and she laughed aloud, squealing, "Love you, Jax!" She threw her tiny arms around Jadzia's neck, hugging as hard as she could.

"Okay, let's go, kiddo. I'm starving!"

The lizard moved unseen against the wall, slipping out the door when it opened and scuttling rapidly down the corridor, invisible against the beige molding.

oOo oOo oOo

Lunch was a bit more enjoyable than Jadzia had originally figured, what with a Bajoran children's folk singer on the stage rather than all the shrill bells and whistles that were a normal part of the entertainment at this particular establishment. She and Molly ate with great gusto.

Upon leaving the restaurant, the two strolled casually along the Promenade, checking out the nearby shops. In the window of a new one called "The Good Earth," Jadzia's eyes fell on a glass paperweight. It was a three-inch clear dome with a delicate-looking flower sealed inside. The attached card said it was a dandelion puff.

This item immediately appealed to Jadzia as the perfect gift for her friend Kira. Of course, there wasn't much paper needing weighted down on Deep Space Nine, but Jadzia knew Kira liked flowers, having been named after one, even though she did not share this information with too many people. Jadzia was certain Kira would like this. She went to the counter to take care of the business of purchase.

Molly, as usual, proved herself a model child, never making a sound, walking with her small hand in Jadzia's and taking in everything that passed in front of her big dark eyes.

"See anything you like, Moll?"

"No. Sleepy, Jax."

Jadzia looked closely at her and realized the child was almost asleep on her feet. That's odd, little one, she thought. You had a good nap before we went into the holosuite. You shouldn't be tired again this soon. Jadzia bent on one knee and brought the child to her.

"C'mon, honey. Let's get you home." She lifted Molly into her arms, asked the store clerk to have the paperweight delivered to Kira's quarters, and went out in the direction of the O'Brien's.

In the O'Brien's quarters, she put Molly right to bed. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow and Jadzia, sitting on the end of the bed, decided this was an altogether unhealthy way for a youngster to react to lunch and shopping.

She struggled for a moment when things had changed for Molly. They hadn't been apart all day – except when I went to shower after the beach – and that's when Molly had started crying! In the living room. I left her in her bedroom. Why did she go out into the living room?

She said something bit her finger. Did I completely ignore the fact that she was telling me the truth because I was so darned sure all she needed was a little attention? But there was no mark on her finger, nothing out of the ordinary in the room.

Was there?

She jumped up, unhinged the tricorder and scanned the bedroom, then covered the entire dwelling. Nothing.

She glanced in at Molly. The child had not moved. It was time for a professional medical opinion. She tapped her commbadge.

"Dax to Dr. Bashir."

"Bashir here. What can I do for you, Jadzia?"

"Julian, do you have a moment to come to the O'Brien's? I think Molly has come down with something that could use your expert diagnosis." She smiled in spite of her unease, imagining Julian gathering his things even as she was speaking and heading to the turbolift, which was, of course, exactly what he was doing. His reply was brief but comforting.

"Stay put. I'll be right there."

Jadzia returned to Molly's bedside and when she heard Bashir at the door called from there to allow his entry. He rushed in, dropping to his knees at the edge of the bed, one hand on Molly's forehead, the other on his tricorder, scanning the little body.

"She's slipping into a coma."

Even if Bashir had been looking at Jadzia when he said this, he would not have noticed any change in her. Jadzia remained motionless. There was no outward sign of the turmoil that began to churn within her at the doctor's words.

Bashir ran the tricorder urgently over Molly again. The tricorder reported no other sign of distress in the child, even though something was clearly wrong. His urgency level increased a notch.

"I need to get her to the Infirmary. A diagnostic bed should be able to tell me more." His eyes swept over Jadzia as he said this, but they quickly returned to the child. He lifted Molly into his arms and departed, leaving Jadzia to her own devices.

oOo oOo oOo

By the afternoon of the next day, Miles and Keiko were back from Risa and pacing the corridor outside the Infirmary. Well, Miles was pacing, a study in harsh contrasts, dressed in beachwear for Risa with worry lines creasing his pale face. Keiko was sitting on a bench, clutching Molly's favorite stuffed animal, her eyes brimming.

Kira had just arrived and was settling herself onto the bench beside Keiko, one hand at her lower back. She hated very much to show her discomfort to the O'Brien's, but her back ached, and aside from medication, which she wanted to avoid, or floating around in anti-grav, which she didn't have time for, this was the only way she got any relief. Keiko reached out and placed her hand gently against Kira's stomach.

In spite of her best effort not to, Kira grunted as her rear end hit the bench. Keiko's hand slid away.

"Anything new, Chief?"

"No, Major." Julian says it's bacterial, not viral, but so far Molly has not been responding to any of his antibacterial agents. She's comatose, but there doesn't seem to be anything else wrong with her. And he hasn't let us in yet."

Miles paused, bit on a fingernail, shook his head and frowned, as if he wanted to add something more but couldn't come up with the words. He spun on his heels and continued pacing.

"Mmm." Kira, rising from the bench, began a fit of sneezing and nearly fell backwards. Miles rushed to assist her and she uncharacteristically permitted him. When balanced and sneeze-free, she mmmed again.


"I'm going in. Julian's gonna let me see Molly or he's gonna give me a darned good reason why not."

oOo oOo oOo

"Now, Major," Bashir began, stepping in front of her to halt her forward progress, "I'm not sure you should see her at this time. I don't really know what's wrong with her. It could be something contagious and might cause a worse reaction in a Bajoran."

Seeing her face darken, he changed tactics but not tone. "You don't want to endanger the baby, do you?"

Kira knew he was tired. He had been working around the clock ever since he brought Molly in, but she still did not need or appreciate his condescending attitude.

"Listen, Julian," she hissed, "don't give me any of your bullshit. I don't need to touch her, I just want to see her. I'm living with the O'Brien's, remember?" She jabbed her thumbs at her huge belly, as if Bashir had not just mentioned the baby. "I'm carrying Molly's little brother, for the Prophets' sake! You think I'm just gonna stand around with my back aching, watching Miles and Keiko go crazy wondering why you won't let them see her?" She shook her head, answering her own question. "No, I don't think so."

She paused in her ranting and considered something. "You have her in quarantine, right?"

"Yes. Right."

"Then, tell me, doctor, what's the problem here?"

Her tone indicated she would go around him or through him, and either way was fine with her, whopping belly and all. She sneezed, but it did not change the look on her face.

Sighing in resignation and not knowing how else to proceed, Bashir walked slowly to the wall panel and thumbed a switch. The smoky aluminum window cleared, revealing Molly in the dim light of the quarantine room, lying on a diagnostic bed.

Bashir had taken additional measures to insure Molly received every bit of attention she needed, and these measures took on an eerie visage, as thin tubes ebbed and flowed from the child to bags hanging beside the bed. Just to be sure he didn't miss even the slightest change, Bashir had increased the volume on the vital signs being monitored by the bed, so Kira could clearly hear a heartbeat and other noises she could not identify. The whole scene looked to her like something out of an old Earth horror film Miles had made her watch. Molly looked so tiny and fragile, her black hair fanned out in stark contrast to the white sheeting on the bed. Kira stepped up to the window.

"Oh, Prophets," she whispered, raising her fingertips to the cool aluminum, unable to take her eyes off the scene in front of her. "No wonder Julian doesn't want your mom and dad in here."

Kira had no idea how long she stood there or that she swooned until she felt Bashir's hands on her, supporting her. With his help, she found her footing and turned to him, realizing for the first time who was missing.

"Where's Jadzia?"

He faltered. His concern with Molly had taken precedence over everything else and for a moment he could not recall anything about Dax. Then he remembered. "I left her in the O'Brien's quarters when I brought Molly here. But that was…yesterday."

Kira reached into the pocket of her shift and pulled out a tissue-wrapped bundle. She let the tissue fall away, revealing the paperweight that had been delivered to her quarters. Yesterday afternoon.

"I've gotta find her." Returning the paperweight to her pocket, she left the Infirmary with as much speed as her gravid body would allow.

oOo oOo oOo

Bashir had been in and out of the anti-contamination suite every hour since he had carried Molly into quarantine. He checked her vitals, ran his hands over the little body, checked and rechecked all the tubes and connections, hoping for some sign of improvement or change, but there was nothing. Every vital sign remained steady, but Bashir remained chewed up by his inability to bring the child to consciousness.

After Kira's impassioned reaction, Bashir knew he should not keep the O'Brien's out any longer. They needed to be near Molly, no matter how she looked. He had been trying to come up with a gentle way to prepare them for the sight of their daughter, but his weary brain could not invent anything better than what he had done for Kira. He stepped out into the corridor and held up a hand as Miles rushed him.

"Miles, Keiko, please come in."

oOo oOo oOo

Ziyal was in Garak's shop, having just arrived to spend the day with him.

"So, Elim," she began in her gentle manner, "what's new?"

Since the biggest news was about Molly O'Brien, Garak began with that. "The O'Brien girl was rushed to the Infirmary yesterday. I hear she's in a coma because something bit her while she was in Lieutenant Dax' care. Julian says she 'looks like hell,' as humans are wont to say, but, of course, Chief O'Brien won't let me anywhere near her to see for myself. I do know this: it's tearing Julian apart. I hope he gets to the bottom of it soon."

As Garak spoke, he watched Ziyal's face go a shade lighter than the pale gray it normally was, and her throat convulse as she swallowed hard. He wondered about that, but refrained from questioning her. Instead, he changed the subject to the dress design he had been working on for her, pulling out his data padd to show her his latest alterations. Her eyes dropped to the padd, obviously grateful for the change of subject, and Garak could see color return to her face. He determined that this would not be the end of it. Perhaps during lunch he would have more success in discovering what the young woman knew about Molly's ailment.

oOo oOo oOo

Out on the Promenade, Kira consulted the computer as to the location of Jadzia Dax.

"Jadzia Dax is in her quarters."

Kira wasted no time arriving at her door. She buzzed for entrance, fully expecting to override a lockout, when she heard a faint "Come" from within and the door hissed open. She stepped in to see Jadzia with her back to the door, staring out the huge oval window in her living room, dressed in a long indigo bathrobe, her hair loose and tangled.

Kira was hesitant to disturb her, but as far as she knew, the last person to see Jadzia had been Bashir when he left her in the O'Brien's. Since the door did not have its privacy lock engaged, Kira decided her friend would not turn her away. She stepped up beside her, pulling out the paperweight and cradling it in her hands.

"This paperweight is beautiful. Thank you."

Jadzia turned to her, her elegant spots standing out clearly against colorless skin. Her crystal blue eyes were dry. Too dry. Jadzia covered the paperweight with icy hands and looked straight into Kira's eyes.

"Oh, Nerys, Miles and Keiko trusted me with Molly, and I failed them. In all my lifetimes, I have never let anything like this happen. What if Julian can't discover what's wrong with her and she never wakes up?"

"No, Jadzia, no," Kira whispered, shaking her head to give firm chase to the despair threading through the Trill's words. She took the paperweight from beneath Jadzia's cold hands and placed it carefully on the windowsill. She turned back and took Jadzia's hands in her own.

"Do you think you can tell me what happened?" Jadzia nodded. "Go sit at the table and let me get your hairbrush."

Though it might have seemed odd to anyone else who knew them, Kira and Jadzia would engage in a couple of activities that always seemed to aid in easing them through periods of emotional stress. Kira was big on back rubs and Jadzia loved to have her hair brushed. Although they didn't always have a lot of time together, they tried to do this for each other as often as they could.

So in this manner, with Kira standing behind her, patiently tugging loose all the snarls in the Trill's thick brown hair, Jadzia voiced for the first time the events of the day before, thoughts she had been holding in all night, compounding her pain with the knowledge that her symbiont would carry all this with it into its next host.

She started with the goodbye to Miles and Keiko as they left for Risa and did not choke until she came to the part where Molly told her something bit her. Kira continued to brush down the length of the dark tresses, allowing Jadzia all the time she needed. When Jadzia's shoulders finally started to tremble and she moved her hands to cover her face, Kira put the brush down.

"C'mon, Jadzia, it's way past time for this." Kira led Jadzia to the couch and they sat side by side. Jadzia rested her head on Kira's shoulder, draped a long, slim arm across her vast belly, and finally allowed the tears that had been burning behind her eyes to fall freely. Kira stroked Jadzia's smooth hair, murmuring Bajoran words of comfort as Jadzia wept in release.

Many minutes later, Jadzia's tears slowed and then stopped. She remained on Kira's shoulder sniffling for a moment, and then sat up. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and reached for a tissue to wipe her nose.

"Feel better?"

"Yes, I do." And again "yes," more firmly this time, accompanied by a look of such determination that Kira knew indeed she was feeling better. Jadzia's next words convinced her beyond all doubt.

"How 'bout we go visit Molly? I want to talk to Julian."

oOo oOo oOo

Lunch over, Garak began coaxing out of Ziyal whatever it was she had been holding back about Bashir's problem with Molly O'Brien. It was painfully evident by her silence all through the meal that she knew something but was unwilling to share it. That and the fact that she barely ate a thing. He started with an easy question.

"How was your meal, my dear?"

"It was delicious. Thank you, Elim."

He pretended not to notice that her plate was still half full of food she had been pushing from one side to the other.

"What would you like to do now? How about a toasty stroll along a Cardassian beach? Quark owes me about an hour's time in a holosuite."

"No, thank you." She would not meet his eyes.

"Well, if you'd prefer, we can return to the shop and go over the dress design again. I have some lovely Andorian fabric in the back that arrived just this morning. The color would compliment your—"

"No. I-I," she stammered, sighed deeply, and abruptly came back to herself with a steely gaze in his direction. It was apparent he was not going to have to coax after all. A good thing, too, as he was not at all sure even his excellent persuasive skills could worm something out of a Cardassian woman who was determined not to talk, nevermind the nose ridge and what sort of tenaciousness that represented.

"Elim, you know you were telling me about Doctor Bashir's problem with Molly?"


"Well, I think…I think," she stammered some more, in spite of her obvious determination to say it, and he could tell she was at once both terrified and worried.

"Ziyal," he urged gently, "what is it?"

"I think it's my fault!"

"What?!" This was quite possibly the last thing he was expecting her to say, but he wisely kept this thought to himself.

The rest came out in a rush. "Oh, Elim, I've been thinking about this ever since you told me. Do you remember the last time Father was on the station? He and I had dinner together, food he brought special for me from Cardassia." She sucked in a breath, held it, and then spit it out with a sharp exhale.


"Shinisaurs! Ziyal!"

"One of them escaped."

Garak was at last beginning to see the light. Shinisaurs were a rare delicacy and tricky to prepare. They were swift creatures that had to be captured and kept alive until cooked. One of the trickier parts was capture itself, since the little devils had skin that allowed them to change colors at will, blending in almost seamlessly with their surroundings.

In hunting shinisaurs, about the only thing you had going for you was movement, as they could be easily enticed with bait, and thus captured when moving towards it. Once caught, the preparer had to take care not to be bitten, as the bite, while not painful, could cause a number of peculiar, annoying, or in some cases, nasty, reactions.

Though Garak had seen plenty of Cardassian reactions to the shinisaur's bite, he was certain no Human had ever been bitten and so was unsure of what a Human's reaction might be. Bashir needed to be informed immediately.

Ziyal, why didn't you say something right away? Julian must be told." He rose from the table.

"I know, Elim, I know. I tried to, but I just got scared. I'm so sorry." She bit on her bottom lip, her face screwed up in a frown.

Garak paused for a moment and took a good look at the girl. She was about to come out of her seat, she was shaking so violently. He realized that no matter how much she had been through in her young life, she was essentially still a teenager and should not be blamed for the natural shortcomings of her age.

She had, in the end, told him what was wrong and she had not taken two weeks to do it. He reached across the table and took her hand.

"It's all right, Ziyal. You told me. You did the right thing, and I'm proud of you. We'll go together to tell Julian. Come on." She nodded in agreement, relief showing clearly on her face.

oOo oOo oOo

Bashir, again suited up, was checking Molly for what had to have been the thousandth time. No change one way or the other. He was turning from the biobed, intent on going and staying gone for more than an hour this time, when for no reason he could see or comprehend, the monitor above the bed began to beep in harmony, indicating all was well. He heard a tiny, little-girl sound from the bed. Molly was waking up. He tore from the quarantine room, peeling off the suit as he went, yelling to the outer room.

"Keiko, Miles, get in here! She's awake!"

He spun on his heels back into the room, no longer worried about quarantine. Molly was fully awake, and when he came into her line of sight, she smiled up at him. He smiled back and gently stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers. The biobed reported all systems go. Keiko and Miles came flying into the room.

"Mama. Daddy."

Molly tried to raise her arms to them but couldn't because of all the connections. After checking the readouts one more time to be absolutely certain everything was as it should be, Bashir set forth disconnecting the tubes with more zeal and less care for the equipment than might befit a Starfleet medical officer, but he just didn't care. When he had removed every connection, he stepped back and let Miles lift his daughter from the bed, both he and Keiko raining kisses and tears on her everywhere.

"Julian," Miles asked between kisses, "what happened? What did you do?"

"Much as I'd like to take the credit, Miles, I didn't do anything. She woke up on her own. I've checked everything. Twice. She's fine. She's fine!"

At that moment, Garak and Ziyal walked into the Infirmary. When Garak saw that Molly was awake, he stopped and smiled, putting his arm around Ziyal's waist to draw her up beside him.

"See, what did I tell you? Humans are made of mighty sturdy stuff."

Bashir eyed them both, frowning in confusion. "Garak, what are you talking about?"

"Julian, I am talking about a Cardassian delicacy known as shinisaurs. Ever hear of them?"

Bashir shook his head mutely.

Garak went on to explain. "Shinisaurs are lizard-like creatures, hard to catch because they have a remarkable talent for changing their skin coloring to blend in with whatever they happen to be in, on or against. Once you do catch them, they must be kept alive until they are cooked. The problem is that you run a risk of being bitten. And, believe me, Doctor, I've seen some very interesting reactions to the bite in some of my fellow Cardassians." He cleared his throat for effect. "I, myself, have never been bitten."

Realization dawned on Julian Bashir. "So you're saying Molly was bitten by a shinisaur?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying! And I believe she suffered from one of the milder reactions, a sleeping sickness that cures itself after about 24 hours. Or it could possibly be what I suggested to Ziyal – that Humans are made of sturdy stuff." He gestured towards the O'Brien's. "I know it's 'one bite, one reaction,' so Molly should suffer nothing further." He rolled his eyes and then let his gaze fall back to Bashir.

"Tell me, Doctor, is the shinisaur still…at large?"

"Why, yes it is, Garak. I don't suppose you would be interested in finding it?"

"Yes, Julian, I believe I would." Not a soul objected. Ziyal grinned at her Cardassian friend and at the wordplay he and the doctor so loved to engage in.

Jadzia and Kira entered the Infirmary at the same moment Garak began his explanation. As he spoke, Bashir could see the tension drain from Jadzia's body and the color return to her face. The sight gladdened his heart. If he had been alone, he would have done a little happy dance. When Garak finished his tale, he decided to dance anyway. He took Molly into his arms and twirled her around the room, to her intense delight and everyone else's amusement.

Nothing in the galaxy like a happy ending.