Disclaimer: All characters or references to Deep Space Nine belong to Paramount, not me.
Story Rating: PG
Summary: An alternate timeline story where Julian Bashir was forced to resign from Starfleet after the secret of his genetic enhancement was revealed. The story is from Captain Sisko's point of view two months after the Dominion war has ended.
Author's Note: In this story, the events in 'What We Leave Behind' are slightly changed. The war ends the same way, but Chief O'Brien and Garak never leave the station and Captain Sisko also remains on the station.
Captain Sisko sighed and wearily massaged his temples. What a hellish week. He glared at the pile of padds and empty mugs of raktajino cluttering his desk top. He could hardly see his baseball beneath the mess. He really had to clean up in here.
He chuckled as he remembered how even the Colonel had raised an eyebrow and given his desk a meaningful stare when she had dropped off the morning status reports. Given the state of Nerys' quarters, he imagined his office must be in pretty bad shape to cause his notoriously messy first officer to object to it.
He sighed again and narrowed his eyes at the operations status report and the priority repair lists Chief O'Brien had dropped off some time that morning. He quietly debated whether he wanted to start reading them or get another cup of raktajino first.
As he mulled this over, he found his gaze involuntarily being drawn to the replicator in the corner of his office. He sighed once more.
He couldn't believe it. The war had finally—finally—ended two months ago, but the aftermath of it was almost as difficult to deal with as the actual fighting had been. All the little ties and loose ends he had left hanging during the war were suddenly demanding to be tied up and neatly put away.
Ships which had been limping around with one nacelle and half blind for months were jamming the stations docking ports, all of them demanding to finally be fixed and be given the tender loving care they had been denied for months. Exhausted, battle weary crew members were all applying for personal leave, and while Sisko knew that each and every member of Starfleet deserved to be given a years worth of leave, he couldn't fix everything and run the station by himself. Supplies were still a constant shortage and Sisko was nearly at his wits end as to how he could divide the meager amount of supplies he was given by Starfleet medical and other suppliers between his station, the ships docking here and how much of it to send off to Cardassia.
Cardassia. Now there was an entirely different problem. Sisko always became enraged when he remembered what the Dominion had done to that weary, crumbling empire. They had not only beaten it until it had grown weary of living, but they had delivered it a final, crushing death blow which had been completely unnecessary.
Now, the Federation didn't only have its own to take care of and nurse back to health, but was struggling to pull what was left of Cardassia back up onto its knees. There was no way anybody could possibly pull the Cardassians up to their feet at the moment. One step at a time.
Sisko sighed and glared at the reports. If he thought it had been difficult to stretch supplies and personnel far enough to keep ships hanging together by mere threads and man them with just enough personnel to keep them flying in a relatively straight line, it was damned impossible to fix the ships completely and man them with enough people to actually get somewhere. Everybody and everything in the Federation apparently assumed that they would be fixed now that the war was over. Sisko knew this was far from the truth.
Well, at least the Romulans were still lending them and the battered Klingon empire a hand. Much to the loathing of the Tal Shiar and other high ranking Romulan officers, the temporary alliance which the Klingongs, Federation and the Romulans had shared during the war was continuing. They had all fought together and now they saw nothing wrong with cleaning up the aftermath together. But that was as far as the alliance would go. No word of future military alliances had been spoken and nobody was pushing the issue. The three mighty empires were trading with each other and even the Romulans and the Klingons were still managing to work side by side on relatively friendly terms and as far as Sisko was concerned, that was enough.
Pushing his wandering thoughts out of the way, he turned his attention back to the padds on his desk. He really needed to get back to work if he was going to set any kind of example to the rest of his officers.
Shifting around and making himself comfortable in his chair, he reached out and randomly grabbed a padd from the pile.
He glanced at the heading. It was the medical report on crew physicals and a short inventory of medical supplies which were abundant enough to be sent to Cardassia.
He frowned as he read the report. There was something missing from it. He couldn't quite put his finger on what was missing and he read it over twice more before he realized what it was.
It was the style. Something about the way it was written was sloppy. Not incorrect, but sloppy. Sisko frowned, slightly worried. His doctor was never sloppy when writing reports or when writing anything else for that matter. He was always concise, clear, methodical and so precise about everything he did that Sisko was always partly amazed and partly amused by it.
He continued pondering what might have caused his normally painstakingly organized and articulate doctor to sound so drab and disorganized, when he read the name at the top of the report.
Dr. Hemmingway. Not Dr. Bashir.
Sisko blinked as memory and facts quickly caught up with his thoughts. Of course. He mentally shook his head, amazed that after all this time he still wasn't used to the fact that his chief medical officer wasn't with them any longer.
He knew he wasn't the only one. He couldn't count the number of times the Chief or Colonel or somebody else had tapped their combadge and had asked for Dr. Bashir's assistance. It was only when they got that slightly embarrassed, slightly annoyed sigh from the other end of the comchannel that they realized their mistake and they'd hastily try to cover it up by stammering out their request, making sure to thank Dr. Hemmingway when they were done.
Sisko ran his finger along the edge of the padd and tried to remember how long it had been since the doctor had left them.
It must be nearly three years now.
Sisko thought back to the fateful day so long ago when Dr. Bashir had come into his office, his normal cheerful grin absent and his normally bright eyes dulled with sadness and inevitability.
In a voice that was as empty and resigned as the rest of him, he quietly admitted to the lie he had been living and the lie he had told his teachers, his friends, his collegues, Starfleet and even his captain.
Sisko hadn't wanted to believe it at first. He wanted to laugh it off. Genetic engineering? The only time he had heard of this associated with human beings was when the Eugenic wars were being discussed and those had happened nearly four hundred years ago. But the doctor had quietly handed him a padd, on which he had copied a genetic scan of himself. Asides from the scan, there was no other evidence. His old school records, old medical records, essentially his entire life from the day he was born until he was six years old had been erased and forgotten by everyone long ago for Julian's and his family's safety to prevent the discussion they were currently having from ever taking place.
But there wasn't any other evidence needed other than the padd Sisko had been holding. He didn't have to be a science officer or a doctor to see that Julian's genetic scan wasn't that of a normal human being. There were simply no flaws. None whatsoever. No mutations or deletions or substitutions which are a normal part of every sentient being and which make all beings unique and individual.
He had stared at his doctor for a long moment, too confused, too betrayed and too angry to say anything. Sensing that he wanted to hear the whole story, Julian quietly mumbled his way through a story which he had never told anyone and his parents had spent their lives trying to hide.
Sisko remembered he had hardly paid attention to what the doctor had been saying. He remembered bits and pieces of Julian describing the learning disabilities he had suffered with as a child and how awkward, small and clumsy he had been and how his parents were not only disappointed but were afraid that their son would never amount of anything if he stayed the way he was.
They had sold all their possessions and gotten rid of all their son's records—medical, physical, and academic—and had taken their six year old child to Adigeon Prime. There, Jules underwent two months of painful genetic resequencing treatments and his entire genetic code had been rewritten to create a smarter, stronger, and faster Julian. His parents had changed everything about him, even the color of his eyes. After returning to earth, his parents moved to a new town and enrolled Julian in a new school using falsified documents the doctors had given them. These documents were later destroyed after Julian had started building his new life and there was no evidence that Jules Bashir had ever existed or what had happened to that small, scared child who had spent two months in a strange hospital undergoing illegal procedures, clutching Kukulaka for company.
The doctor's voice had faded off and he was staring at the baseball on Sisko's desk, unable to meet his captain's gaze, sensing the disappointment and anger in his commanding officer.
Pausing for a moment, the doctor swallowed and then quietly told Sisko he was here to resign from Starfleet and that he was leaving the Federation.
That had immediately pulled Sisko away from his own feelings of betrayal and anger. He had quickly pointed out that Bashir's parents should take the fall for this, since he had had no choice in the matter, but Julian had smiled quietly and sadly, knowing as well as Sisko did that this was the only way out. No genetically enhanced person was allowed to serve in Starfleet or practice medicine in the Federation. The law had existed for four hundred years and wasn't going to change for one doctor. With that, he had pulled off his two gold rank pips and his combadge and had quietly put onto Sisko's desk beside his baseball. Sisko stared at them for a moment as reality sunk in and right away, he went into action.
Sisko had called in the doctor's parents and Richard and he had both agreed that they could take this to court and fight for the doctor's rights and profession, but the doctor had declined. According to Federation law, he wasn't considered a Federation citizen and didn't have any rights and he knew that no trial would change that. People were afraid of what he represented and they all knew without saying it that bending the rules for Bashir could have dangerous consequences.
The doctor had quietly asked that he be allowed to resign in peace and leave without a fuss. He didn't want to wait for the court martial, the newsvids, the medical examinations, the questions and the instant loathing and mistrust this would stir up around the Federation. He had smiled sadly and said that the universe had enough problems as it was and that the last thing he could do for this small corner of it was to keep this problem quiet and leave before word got out.
With that, he had given Sisko a thin smile, apologized for everything, thanked him for everything and had turned and walked out the door. Just before the doors slid shut behind him, Sisko called after him. When the young doctor had half turned around, Sisko gave him a smile and wished him luck. Nodding, Julian gave him a small smile and walked out of the room, the doors sliding shut behind him.
Sisko never saw him again.
He had left that night. Garak had somehow gotten him a fake transporting pass and Quark had arranged for him to catch a Terralian freighter leaving at 2530 hours. Sisko had been worried about Garak and Quark knowing about the doctor leaving, but knew deep down inside that these were the two people on the station who were most adept at keeping their mouths shut about shady business and could easily lie themselves out of suspicious questions.
Chief O'Brien was the only other one who had said a proper goodbye to the doctor. At first, Sisko hadn't wanted to tell the Chief, not wanting to endanger the doctor's chances for a safe escape and also not wanting to deal with the Chief's anger at the way the situation was being handled. But he felt he had an obligation to tell him. Miles had been the doctor's best friend for years. Sisko had owed the doctor that much. Yes, he was angry and felt betrayed, but knew he owed the doctor too much and respected him too much to let him leave without saying goodbye to his best friend.
He had commed the Chief at 2500 hours. Miles had sleepily answered the com, speaking in a hushed whisper so he wouldn't wake up Keiko. Sisko had quietly told him to get to Bashir's quarters right away. He had mumbled some kind of excuse such as the doctor's replicator being off line. He heard a pause at the other end of the channel. Then the Chief cleared his throat, sounding much more awake and said he'd be right over there. The Chief was always a smart man.
The next morning, Julian was gone. The Terralian freighter had long ago left Federation space and Bashir's parents had snuck off on a transport bound for earth just hours ago.
He had called a staff meeting that morning and had tersely declared that Dr. Bashir had resigned the night before and wasn't coming back.
This was met with the expected outburst of surprise and anger. The Colonel had demanded an explanation, Dax had wanted to know where he had gone and Odo had sat there, frowning worriedly. The Chief hadn't said anything but his frustrated, helpless gaze was nearly burning a hole into the table top.
Sisko had put up a hand and said that the doctor's reasons had been personal and it was in the doctor's best interests if everyone forgot about this.
A week later, they got their new CMO, Dr. Hemmingway. He was good, Sisko had to give him that.
He knew what he was doing, but there was something about him that Sisko had never quite liked. He was too clinical, too detached from his patients. Over the years of having Julian as his CMO, Sisko had gotten used to the young doctor's undying commitment to his patients and the way Julian always suffered and healed right along with his patients. Sisko sighed.
Julian had been born to be a doctor. Right away, Sisko winced and withdrew that thought. No, Julian hadn't been born to be a doctor. He had always had the desire, like when he had stitched up Kukulaka's leg when he was just five, but he hadn't had the ability. He had been given the ability and combined it with his desire and his love for helping and healing people and had become the best doctor Sisko had ever encountered.
As Sisko absentmindly ran his thumb over the edge of the padd in his hands, he wondered if he would ever get used to his new CMO. That got him debating whether or not he truly wanted to get used to his new CMO. He knew he and the rest of his staff weren't being very fair to Dr. Hemmingway, but there were some things that one could never really get used to.
It was different when Jadzia had died. Ezri had never tried to replace her symbionts previous host, but instead, had created a new place for herself and Sisko had quickly accepted her because of that. But this was harder. Dr. Hemmingway not only wanted to replace Dr. Bashir, but technically, he had to and Sisko knew that he would have to get used to it one of these days.
No matter how much he might want it or think about it, Julian wasn't coming back. He had been gone for nearly three years and Sisko hadn't heard a word from him. He had considered asking Garak, Quark or the Chief to sniff around for some information, but quickly rejected that option. Garak had an unending supply of political allies and connections, but lacked resourceful civilian contacts and Quark's civilian contacts weren't ones who spent their time with doctors, but rather, with Orion slave girls and illegal goods. As for the Chief, Sisko knew that if he asked, Miles would hurl himself off the nearest cliff in an effort to get word about the whereabouts of his best friend, but Sisko knew the Chief tended to get overeager in those kinds of situations and also tended to forget about Starfleet protocol and Sisko couldn't afford to lose his Chief engineer at the moment or put up with bureaucratic complaints.
He sighed and his eyes wandered over the pile of padds. He glanced up at the ceiling.
"The time is 1142 hours." The emotionless, always reliable computer voice answered him.
Sisko sighed. He'd been sitting here for two hours and had gotten absolutely nothing done.
He was about to reach over, grab a handful of padds and force himself to start getting work done, when the side door to his office slid open.
He glanced up, always wary and cautious when anybody used that side door. People either used it when they wanted to talk to him privately about some shady problem they were having, or when thieves or saboteurs had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Neither scenario was every really pleasant.
He breathed a quick sigh of relief when the figure of Kasidy Yates stepped through. She greeted him with a wide smile which seemed to light up the room and she walked over to his desk.
"Hey you." She smiled, coming around his desk and sitting on the top.
Sisko smiled and leaned up to give her a kiss. "Hey yourself. What are you doing back so early? I thought your cargo run wouldn't be done until next week."
His wife gave him that impish smile that said she had either done something mischievous or she had some good news for him. "I put the run on hold."
He raised his eyebrows. "On hold? I didn't think freighter captains could just put their runs on hold."
"Oh, we can when we want to," she leaned down. "Especially when we have useful bribes up our sleeves to keep our clients and bureaucrats happy." She whispered.
He laughed, but then curiousity got the better of him. "Not that I don't love your company, baby, but I can't believe you put your run on hold just to come and sit in my office."
She grinned. "Unfortunately, no. I'm here because I happened to run into the most interesting person when I stopped at a docking station in the Kion system." She raised her eyebrows again, her eyes sparkling.
Sisko's curiousity was really starting to gnaw at him now. He frowned. Who in the name of the Prophets did he know that would be in a docking station in the Kion system? It wasn't even in Federation space.
"Alright, you've got me. Who?"
She pressed her lips together, hardly able to contain her excitement. "None other than Julian Bashir. Well, actually, Jeff Davis, but that's another story."
Sisko nearly fell over in his chair. "You ran into Julian?"
She nodded. "I didn't recognize him at first. I was sitting at the bar, talking to the bartender about where my helmsman had disappeared to when suddenly, Julian shows up beside me. I nearly passed out when I saw him, I was so surprised."
Sisko had a million questions, all of which fought to get out of his mouth first. Finally, his command training kicked in and he slowed his thoughts enough to get out the most important question.
"Is he alright?"
Kasidy gazed off at a point over Sisko's shoulder for a moment before she nodded. "More or less."
"What does 'more or less' mean?"
Kasidy sighed. "It's a long story, Ben."
Sisko's eyebrows rose. "Long story? How long did you two talk for?"
She shrugged. "About two hours. He was leaving for Orion space in a few hours and we both knew we probably wouldn't see each other for another three years so I badgered him with questions and he badgered me with questions and we found some time in between to actually answer some of them."
Sisko shifted around impatiently. "So, how does he look? What has he been doing? Where is he going now?"
Kasidy leaned over and put a finger on his lips to stem the flood of questions.
"Hush and I'll tell you." She paused for a moment, shifting around on his desk to get more comfortable.
"He looks a lot older than he should, genetically enhanced and all. And he carries a phaser and a knife on him all the time now too. When I asked him about it, he just shrugged and said he'd learned he'd rather be safe than sorry." She was staring off into space and Sisko was staring at his desk, not interupting her. "And he looks harder too. Doesn't smile as easily or talk so much anymore. Anyway, I asked him where he'd gone after he'd left DS9 and for a minute, he just sighed sadly and said I didn't really want to know, but you know me and my charm, and well, anyway, he started talking pretty soon after that."
Sisko tried to smile at that, but didn't like the sound of what Kasidy was saying. Regardless, he didn't interupt her or assault her with impatient questions. Besides, he knew that asking her questions would only make her tease him more and dance around more.
"Apparently he hid out in Terralian space for about a year working at a small clinic on one of the border colonies. Somehow, news of his genetically engineering leaked out somehow and bounty hunters from everywhere—the Orion Syndicate, Ferenginar, even the Naussicans—started sniffing around, wanting to find the superhuman doctor who was hiding somewhere in Terralian space. They nearly caught him once or twice, but he got away from them. The colonists helped protect him too. They respected him and liked him and watched his back for him while he helped them. But after about a year, the Orion Syndicate sent a whole pack of Rigelians and Naussicans after him and they threatened to blow up the clinic if the doctor didn't turn himself over to them. He didn't give himself up—the colonists wouldn't let him—but he didn't think it was fair that he endangered them with his presence, so he escaped on the next transport out and fled to some backwater world in the middle of some system close to the Elendar system, I forget it's name. He found some work stocking cargo in some crappy docking station and basically lived in a rat hole for a few months until he was sure the Orion Syndicate and everyone else had given up looking for him. Then he changed his name to Jeff Davis and bribed his way onto a cargo freighter which was going to the Devore system. There he stumbled into a wad of luck—his words, not mine. He joined a group of doctors, nurses and volunteers who spend their time travelling to isolated, poor colonies with basically no medicare and they treat the people, set up hospitals and do whatever they can. During the war, they spent more than a year working in the refugee camps set up on Prima IV."
Sisko nodded. He'd heard of Prima IV. It was a small, sparsely populated colony with nothing much to offer except that it was on the edge of Federation space, as far away from Cardassian, Klingon and Romulan space as possible. Civilians who were frightened or sick of the war took their families and belongings and fled to Prima IV. It was close enough to make it possible for small, badly equipt freighters and cargo ships to make it there in one piece, but was also far enough away from the fighting to ensure that those people were left alone. During the war, more then 47 million people had fled from all over the Federation to Prima IV making the living conditions atrocious and desperate. Sisko could easily understand Bashir's bitterness and hardness if the young doctor had spent years on that planet caring for the refugees who had fled the war but hadn't fled its repercussions.
"When the war ended, Federation and Starfleet personnel made their way over to Prima IV to clean up the mess they'd been neglecting during the war and Julian ran before they caught him. Apparently, he never got very far. The doctors and nurses he'd worked with for more than a year at this point told him that they knew and understood and he didn't have to run anymore. They didn't know precisely why Julian was running, but apparently, some of the doctors and nurses part of this group had their own shady pasts—a lot of them have previous ties to the Orion Syndicate for example—but they said that their patients never care about their pasts and that neither do they. They basically told him that his past doesn't matter and that they weren't as picky and scared as the Federation is when someone has a less than stellar past and the important thing is that Julian is a good doctor and loves what he does so they let him stay. Now he's on his way to Orion space with them to the border colonies there. Some Federation refugee camps were set up there too, but the Federation or Starfleet won't come near them of course, since they're in Orion space, so Julian and the rest of them are their only hope."
When her voice drifted off, Sisko found himself still staring at his desk. Another question was nagging at him, one which he wasn't altogether sure he wanted an answer to.
"Is he—is he—happy?"
His wife tilted her head back and studied the intricate golden Cardassian frame surrounding the oval window behind him.
"Yes, he is. It's been hard and it toughened him up a lot, but he needed that anyway. But now, yes, he's happy. All he's ever wanted was to be a doctor and help people, and it's what he's doing. In fact, I think he's happier helping those people who really desperately need his help than he was fixing holodeck injuries and hangovers here on the station. Not that he didn't love it here on the station, but you know what I mean."
She lapsed off into silence and suddenly smiled sadly. "He asked about all of you, you know. He'd heard about Jadzia's death and Ezri becoming the new host and about the General becoming Chancellor, but he didn't know the small things. I told him how Garak finally went back to Cardassia but then realized it would never be the same Cardassia as he had left it so he came back here. He also wanted to know how the Colonel was doing now that the Constable is gone and he wanted me to say hello to all of you for him, especially you, Garak, the Chief, the Colonel and Dax." She leaned forward and glanced around the room for a moment as if verifying whether or not they were truly alone. "He said that in a few months, him and the rest of his renegade, gold hearted doctors need to stop at Bajor to pick up some promised supplies and check on the Cardassian orphanages there so he said that 'Jeff Davis' would love to stop by DS9 for some 'sightseeing' before leaving."
Sisko nodded, a small smile flickering across his face. Damn, it would be good to see the doctor again. Yes, he wasn't the same naïve, young doctor he had met eight years ago, but at least he was happy.
Kasidy smiled when she saw how her husbands mood had increased since she had stepped throught the door. Suddenly, she remembered her run and the time and she frantically asked the computer to tell her the time. When the reliable computer voice told her it was 1217 hours, she swore quietly and leapt off the desk.
"Ben, I have to run. I was supposed to leave two minutes ago and I probably have to go and fish Delaney out of Quarks first. Damn that man. If he wasn't such a damn good pilot and had such a good sense of humor, I'd leave him here to rot."
Giving Sisko a quick peck on the cheek, she turned and ran for the side door, hardly waiting until it finished opening before she ran through it. Just before the door closed, Sisko yelled an 'I love you' after her and he heard the yelled response moments before the door closed.
He smiled in quiet amusement and shook his head at the closed door.
Then he turned his attention back to the padds on his desk. Suddenly, he didn't loath this paperwork nearly as much. He became more determined to tie up loose ends and make ends meet and fix the mess the war had left in his lap.
If Julian Bashir had lost everything and had somehow managed to fight his way out of it and had survived, surely Sisko could fight his way out of this mess.
Turning in his chair, he glanced out at the stars which quietly floated past him as the station spun in the darkness of space.
Julian Bashir was out there somewhere, doing what he could after having been dealt a less than stellar hand. Sisko glanced at the pile of padds. He hadn't been dealt the easiest hand either, but he knew that somehow, he'd get through and make ends meet.
Smiling to himself, he swivelled his chair back around and grabbed one of the padds, quietly scrolling through it.