Chapter Seven

When Bashir opened his eyes again, he found he was
in the Infirmary. He sat up slowly, wincing as his
shoulder protested the movement.

Jabarra hurried out to him. "What do you think
you're doing?" she demanded. "You need to lie down.
You'll hurt yourself."

"Thanks for the warning," Bashir replied, his voice
raspy. Jabarra injected him with a hypospray. "What
happened?"

Jabarra paused, debating whether or not to answer
his question. "The Alentari set off a bomb in upper
pylon three to lure Security away from the Promenade.
From what I gather, someone called up to OPS and told
them what was going on. I saw Major Kira shoot the one
with the knife before he could kill you. You lost
consciousness right after that. A doctor had to come up
here from Bajor to repair your shoulder, and said to let
you sleep the anesthetic off."

"How long ago was that?" Bashir asked.

"Since yesterday," Jabarra told him. "I've had to
chase away some of the senior staff since then. They are
all very concerned about you."

Bashir was startled. "They are?"

Jabarra smiled faintly. "They are. You should
sleep now. As soon as you're well-rested, you'll be
released."

She pressed a hypospray to Bashir's neck. Bashir's
eyelids drooped, and he sank back into the beckoning
darkness.

~~*~~

Bashir was released the following day, the only
remnants of his ordeal being a stiff shoulder. He went
to his quarters to change into his uniform, then returned
to the Infirmary to begin work once more. He was
surprised to find Dax and Sisko already there, waiting
for him.

"What can I do for you?" Bashir asked cheerfully.

"We need to talk," Dax told him.

The smile froze on Bashir's face. "Talk? About
what? Ferat? He's gone, and won't be coming back."

"That's part of it," Sisko said. "We want to talk
about the senior staff."

The color drained from Bashir's face. "I told you-
."

"You don't want to talk about it," Dax finished for
him. "That doesn't mean there isn't anything to talk
about."

Just then, an Andorian entered sickbay. Bashir
seized a tricorder, grateful for the distraction, but
Sisko took the instrument from him and handed it to
Jabarra.

"Your nurse can handle your patients," he said
firmly. "Let's go to your office."

Dax took Bashir's arm and guided him to his office
before he could protest. Sisko shut the door behind them
and turned to face Bashir. Bashir had backed up against
the wall, his arms folded across his chest defensively.

"Julian, why didn't you meet Miles for darts a few
days ago?" Dax began.

Bashir was startled at the unexpected question. He
ducked his head and examined his shoes. "Something came
up."

"What came up?" Dax pressed.

Bashir kept his head down and didn't answer.

"As much as I can tell, that was the day this all
started," Dax stated slowly. "Jabarra told me as much.
What happened that morning? Who did you speak with?"

Bashir shifted, still not meeting anyone's gaze.
"Miles."

Dax and Sisko exchanged glances. "And what was he
doing?" Sisko asked.

"Fixing a conduit near my quarters."

Dax took a tiny step forward. "Did you say
something?"

Bashir nodded, careful to keep his head down.

"What did you say?"

"Good morning."

Dax nodded, even though Bashir couldn't see. "And
what did he say?"

Bashir suddenly tensed up. "This is ridiculous," he
said loudly, suddenly looking at them and circling around
the office until his desk was between him and what he
perceived as threats. "I don't see the point of this
conversation."

"What did he say to you, Julian?" Sisko prodded
gently.

Bashir turned pained eyes to him. "Please . . ."

"What did he say?"

Bashir stared hard at the surface of his desk. "He
was busy."

"What else?" Dax asked.

"What do you mean, 'what else'?" Bashir retorted
angrily. "Miles is a busy man. He's always running
about the station, making sure everything is in working
order. Not like I would know anything about keeping
busy. After all, I'm just a doctor."

Bashir suddenly realized that he had said more than
he meant, and colored. He turned his back on Dax and
Sisko.

Sisko frowned. "Julian, you have a very important
job on this station. We all depend on you to keep us
healthy so we can do our jobs."

Bashir snorted, but didn't say anything.

"What else happened?" Dax asked quietly.

Bashir sighed, his shoulders slumped. "You're
wasting your time."

"Julian, we aren't going anywhere until we get to
the bottom of this," Sisko said pointedly.

Bashir turned to look at him. "What if there's an
emergency?"

"If anyone absolutely needs us, then we can leave,"
Sisko said. "Otherwise, no one is to disturb us. You
may as well talk to us."

"Did Miles say that your job wasn't as important or
as hard as his?" Dax asked, hoping to get the
conversation back on track.

Bashir frowned, but didn't reply.

"Is that why you didn't show up for your dart game?"
Dax continued.

"No." Bashir's voice was quiet.

Dax walked up to the desk. "Then why? Did he say
something else?"

Bashir looked at her. "Look, I told you. Miles is
a busy man. He had a right to be a bit . . . short with
me. He had a lot of things to do that day, and . . ."

Sisko stepped up next to Dax. "And?"

Bashir didn't answer.

"We could always call the chief up here and ask
him," Sisko said.

Bashir hugged his waist tightly. "He was busy."

"So busy that he couldn't play darts with you?" Dax
asked.

"He didn't want to waste time playing darts with me
when he had too much to do."

Bashir's voice was so soft that, at first, Dax and
Sisko weren't sure he had spoken. The pain evident on
Bashir's young face told them otherwise.

"Oh, Julian," Dax said.

Bashir backed against the wall, still clutching his
sides in a fierce hug. "He was right. He's a busy man.
I suspect I'd feel similar if I were loaded down with
patients to care for."

"Julian-," Dax tried to argue.

"Don't, Jadzia," Bashir said sharply. "Just . . .
don't."

"What happened after that?" Sisko asked.

"I left to come here," Bashir told him.

"Is this when you called OPS to find out about the
Romulan attack?" Dax wondered.

Bashir nodded. "Kira told me that you all were
occupied with what you were doing, and that there were no
casualties."

He looked up deeply into Dax's eyes. "Just because
I'm the doctor doesn't mean I don't care about what goes
on in OPS, or anywhere else, for that matter."

Dax slowly edged around the desk and went to
Bashir's side. She lightly touched his arm. "I'm sorry,
Julian."

Bashir fixed his gaze on the floor, as if afraid to
look elsewhere. "No . . . I understand that I get
underfoot quite a bit, and that it's usually at
inconveniencing times. I just . . ."

"Julian, it's your right as the CMO of the station
to find out what goes on around here," Sisko said.
"Granted, none of us are very patient with you, but we'll
work on that. You don't have to take all of this
silently."

"Please, Julian," Dax pleaded. "If you're hurting
like this again, just tell us. We need to know so we can
fix it."

Bashir didn't move.

Dax took his face into her hands and turned his head
to look at her. "I am so, so sorry Julian. We all are."

She pulled him into her arms and hugged him tightly.
Bashir tensed momentarily, then gave in and buried his
face in her shoulder. Dax felt his shoulders shudder
under her hands, and felt the dampness of tears seep
through her uniform. She held him close as he finally
released all of his pent up grief and pain. Sisko stood
by the door, waiting patiently for them to finish. He
and Dax met each other's eyes and nodded. It would be
all right now.

The End.
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