Authors Note:

I've been working my way through DS9 for the first time, writing a bunch of little stories and 'episode tags' as I go along. I feel like Melora could have been a really great episode if it was just... a little different. Maybe with a resolution between Bashir and Melora that helped to make their last exchange... not so awkward. XD

Anyway, constructive criticism is welcome! Let me know what you think!

Under a Different Star

July 2020

(Takes place just after "Melora)

Julian Bashir paused outside ensign Melora's quarters, hand hovering over the buzzer in uncertainty. The two hadn't spoken much after everything that had happened on the Orinoco and then Melora decided she didn't want to continue with the treatments. They hadn't seen each other since then, except in passing. Julian supposed they both needed some time to think about what had happened.

Julian would be lying if he said he wasn't… disappointed. He wanted to help her. It was what he did, what he was good at. Helping people – when he could. And he could now, but she didn't want to be helped.

He understood. Of course he understood. She didn't want to change who she was, even if it might make her life and job harder at times.

Julian glanced at his outstretched hand. That he certainly understood. He understood more than he would like. Melora wanted to retain one of the most important features that made her an Elaysian.

The door suddenly slid open, pulling Julian abruptly from his thoughts and making him realize he was practically lurking in the corridor. This was not getting off to a good start.

"Julian! What… are you doing?"

Julian blinked and stumbled backward a little. "I-I was coming to see… you." He recovered as well as he was able and clasped his hands loosely behind his back. A habit he usually only fell back on when he was nervous.

Melora gave him a little smile. "Well. Here I am."

"Yes. Here you are!" He shifted and resisted the urge to ramble. Stick to the point, Bashir, he told himself. "I was wondering if we could talk?"

She pinned him with those unique eyes and nodded after only a moment's hesitation. "I would like that." She motioned stiffly over her shoulder. "I'll get my chair."

"Of course." He offered to help her, but she declined, following him into the corridor once she was situated.

He led her to Deck 4, away from the crew and guest quarters, and to one of the many observation rooms. The entire far wall of this room was glass, broken only by thing strips of dark metal, displaying the vast expanse of shining stars and planets against the rich blankness that always seemed dark enough to devour any light that might dare try to poke through. This was his favorite observation room. It was off the beaten path and often deserted, as it was now. He wasn't sure what the Cardassian's had used it for. Perhaps all it had ever been was an observation room.

Julian stepped aside and swept his arm out in presentation. "Nothing you haven't seen before, I'm sure, but…" He trailed off as Melora's eyes widened and a little gasp escaped her lips.

"It's gorgeous! I haven't been here yet. What an amazing view…"

"Ah well, it's one of my best kept secrets," he teased.

She maneuvered her chair forward until her knees were almost touching the glass. Julian pulled a chair from one of the empty tables and situated it beside her, taking a seat and looking out over the starrs. His heart still leapt up in his chest whenever he looked out across the star field. He pointed. "You can just barely see Zetar's twin suns there."

She nodded, still smiling. "I see them."

He pointed out several more and she added some of her own observations, before they lapsed into silence.

Melora turned to him after a while and took a breath. "Are you… mad at me?"

Julian turned his gaze toward her. "Mad? Melora, of course not! Why would I be mad?" He may have been disappointed, maybe he had even been a little upset when she told him she didn't want to continue with the treatments, but… he didn't think he could be truly mad at her.

"Well, you did so much for me." She explained. "You offered me something I always thought I wanted… I always dreamed of, and I…"

Julian shook his head. "That doesn't matter. What matters is that you do what you feel is right." He studied her unique facial features for a moment. "Besides, you've helped to make a fantastic medical breakthrough that could help countless others."

She smiled and shook her head. "I don't think I did much. It was all you, Doctor."

"Oh, only about ninety-eight percent."

Melora finally gave in and laughed. Julian just smiled and watched her. She was beautiful when she smiled. He was going to miss that smile. He stopped and realized he couldn't remember when he had come to the realization they couldn't be together. That he wasn't going to win her back. And he was alright with that. She deserved to be happy, even if it meant she wouldn't be in his life anymore. At least not romantically.

Her laughter faded and she sighed, though not unhappily. "I'm being transferred again. At the end of the month. I'll be on a ship this time, the USS Excalibur."

He knew of the ship. It had a good captain and a good crew, from what he had heard. "You'll do well there, I'm sure. Just as you'll do well wherever life takes you."

She reached out and touched his hand. "I am sorry it won't be with you. maybe if we'd met five years ago. Or five years from now."

"Either way, we'd be different people," Julian said with a sad smile.

They sat quietly for a while, watching the stars, until Melora spoke up and announced she should be heading to her shift. Julian nodded. Then he abruptly reached out to enfold her hand in his and give it a quick squeeze. She returned it, then let go. She paused halfway to the door and spun to look back at him. "Thank you, Julian."

"And thank you, Melora."

With that, she turned and was gone.

Julian stayed where he was for a while, looking out at the stars, but not really seeing them. Something had shifted within him. He wasn't quite sure what it was. Maybe it was the realization that he couldn't help everyone. And even if he could, they might not want to be helped. Or maybe it was simpler than that. Maybe he was coming to recognize and accept his own shortcomings and advantages. And maybe, one day, he would be able to accept, and even love them as Melora had.