Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Pain of Memory
By Gabrielle Lawson
with the generous help of Jo Burgess
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is owned by Paramount as are the main characters, Garak, and Admiral Ross. All original characters were created by me. The story, too, though it draws on aspects of the Paramount television series, is original and as such, should not be copied or used without my permission.
I'd like to thank Jo Burgess and Valerie Shearer for their generous help as test readers and idea/discussers. Jo especially helped me to hash our the hard spots. This was the hardest story I've written, and Jo really helped me past the writer's block on numerous ocassions.
As always, I thank God for giving me the ability to write and Paramount for putting Deep Space Nine on the air. I'd also like to thank Siddig El Fadil. Without his portrayal to bring Dr. Julian Bashir to life, there wouldn't have been a story to write at all.
Author's note: While this story can be read alone, it references my other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Stories to varying degrees. You might find references to If It's Not One Thing..., Oswiecim, and Healer within.
I dedicate this story to my grandparents: Marjorie Lawson, Alzheimers; Guernie Lawson, Parkinsons; and Charles Bath, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. And also to Edward Richardson.
It was a soft sound, a high-pitched whining, barely loud enough for a human to hear. But Julian Bashir could hear it, and it woke him from his sleep. He leaned up, propping himself on his elbows, and listened, trying to determine the source of the sound. It seemed to be coming from the wall beside his bunk. It's probably nothing, he told himself, maybe something as simple as an imbalance in a power coupling. The Cardassian warship they'd run across yesterday could have caused that. But still, it was too annoying to sleep through. And yet, because of that Cardassian ship, the engineering staff had more pressing things to work on than the doctor's insomnia. It would have to wait. Just as he decided that, the whine stopped. Bashir sighed and began to lower himself back onto the thin mattress.
His head did not reach the pillow. A sharp pain convulsed his body forward as a bright light crackled about his eyes and filled his ears. Electric tendrils reached out to him from the wall, fingering his face and neck, running down his spine. His body jerked involuntarily, and for the one second that he could still think, he thought about crying for help. But his voice was locked in his throat. No sound escaped his lips.
In less than fifteen seconds, it was over. The tendrils removed themselves from his temples and dissipated. Julian Bashir fell motionless back onto his mattress. One leg fell off the bunk entirely and was left hanging over the side.
"0600 hours," the computer intoned. "You have one message." When no acknowledgment answered it, the computer waited patiently. Five minutes later, it tried again. At 0610, its calm female voice did not reveal any frustration. "0615 hours. You have two messages."
"Huh?" came a mumbled reply.
Dutifully, the computer repeated itself without complaint. "0615 hours. You have two messages." Apparently thankful for a response, it even offered more detailed information. "Most recent message from Chief Miles O'Brien received at 0612 hours."
0612! Late! Bashir sat up so quickly that he hit his head on the ceiling above him. He rubbed his forehead and threw his legs over the side. Actually, he only threw one of them over. He was surprised to find one of them already there. "Play most recent message," he muttered as he jumped down.
"Julian!" O'Brien's voice teased. "I'm surprised at you! If you don't hurry, you won't have time for breakfast."
Julian yawned, leaning back against the bunk. "Computer, delete last message and tell me what time it is."
"The time is 0616 hours," the computer stated. "Message deleted."
That's odd, Bashir thought to himself. He'd overslept. But he felt almost as if he hadn't slept at all. Almost. He remembered having dreamed. He shook his head swiftly and forced his eyes open. He didn't have time to stand there working it out. He was running late.
O'Brien looked up at the door again. Ten minutes already. "He's usually here waiting for us," he told Worf.
"He did have patients last night, Chief," Worf reminded him. "He is the only doctor." He took another bite of his breakfast. "But if he doesn't hurry, his food will get cold."
O'Brien turned toward the door again and saw Julian pushing past the other crewmembers to the table. "Well, you made it," O'Brien teased, "and with six whole minutes to spare."
"I overslept," he offered as an excuse, though he didn't appear satisfied with it either. He covered a yawn as O'Brien slid the plate he'd prepared for him over to him. O'Brien gave him a mug of tea as well.
"Obviously," he said, smiling. "You look tired. Late night?"
Bashir shook his head. "Not really. Feels like it though."
O'Brien noticed he wasn't speaking in full sentences. Of course, he was too busy trying to inhale his breakfast. After a few minutes, he stopped and set his fork down. "Do you ever feel anything while you're dreaming?" Julian asked before taking another bite. He had tried to make it sound like a casual question, but his uncharacteristically furrowed brow went a way toward undermining his intentions.
Worf eyed him suspiciously. "What kind of things?"
"Oh, anything," Julian replied. "I once--when I was a child-- dreamt that I had an ice cream cone. I could actually feel it in my hand. When I woke up, I even had a fist like I'd been holding it." He was holding one hand up to demonstrate.
"I've dreamt I was falling before," O'Brien supplied. "I could feel the weightlessness, the pull of gravity, even the air rushing past me."
Worf nodded, his eyes almost glazing over. "I have dreamt of battle and felt my wounds as if they were real. I could even feel the heat of my opponent's blood as it dripped from my fingers." All around them came the sound of silverware and glasses being hurriedly placed onto trays. Worf looked around him almost sheepishly as at least seven crewmen got up to return their trays.
"Actually, that's not far off," Julian muttered, more to himself than to anyone in particular. Then he finished the rest of his tea.
It was 0630 and There was a briefing to get to. "What did you dream last night?" O'Brien asked Bashir as they all stood.
Julian's tone didn't change. "That I was being electrocuted."
That night, after his shift was over and he'd had dinner with the Chief and the other senior officers, he went straight back to his quarters. He was determined not to have another day like that one. He'd dragged himself through the morning. Only concern for his patients was able to bring him out of the fog of fatigue that followed him nearly the whole day. He'd perked up a bit at lunch, thanks to some lively conversation with Ensign Walker. But by late afternoon, he was yawning again. His temper had shortened, too, and he'd snapped at Nurse Hausmann before leaving for the day. He apologized once he realized he'd done it, but he still felt bad. He didn't want to be an ogre. He just wanted to sleep.
To relax himself, he decided to take a shower and do some reading. He turned up the heat in his quarters a few more degrees, and climbed into the upper bunk where he normally slept. He dimmed all the lights except the one in the bunk. He chose one of Shoggath's Enigma Tales Garak had given him a few years back. He found them predictable and boring. Just the thing to send him off to sleep.
Just as he was about to nod off, he heard it. The whine began softly with a high-pitch. Bashir made a mental note to ask O'Brien to send someone to look into it in the morning. It stopped by itself, so he turned back to the book. The first shock caused him to jerk so forcefully that the PADD was thrown from his hand.
"0615" the computer droned, reaching into his emerging consciousness. "You have two messages."
Bashir's eyes flew open and then promptly shut themselves again. Still it was too long. The sudden influx of light had already started a headache behind his eyes. He groaned and rolled off the bed. "Why did you turn on the light?" he asked the computer.
"Please restate the question."
"The light," Bashir repeated, yawning. "In my bunk. It's on. Why?"
"The light was turned on at 2100 hours as ordered," the computer answered.
2100 hours. Forget it, Julian,, Bashir told himself. You're late. He stumbled toward the shower and nearly tripped when he stepped on something. Looking down, he saw an activated PADD on the floor. He picked it up. It displayed the first page of the second chapter of a Cardassian Enigma Tale. Strange, he thought. He had stopped reading those a couple of years ago, insisting that Garak give him something less predictable and more interesting to read.
"Late again," O'Brien teased when he entered the mess hall. "Your breakfast is waiting."
"What would I do without you?" Bashir offered with a smile he didn't really feel. He felt tired. Only tired. And hungry.
"Nightmares again," O'Brien asked.
Bashir turned his head sharply in surprise. He immediately regretted it. It sent an equally sharp burst of pain through his head. It went away quickly though. "Who said anything about nightmares?" he asked, hoping to sound nonchalant. He hadn't told anyone about the nightmares
"You did," O'Brien pointed out, as he took a bite of his own breakfast. "Electrocution," he added, still chewing.
"Oh." Bashir smiled again, relieved. "Yeah, same one. And I'm just as tired this morning. More tired, actually. Like I haven't slept at all. But that doesn't make much sense. I was so tired yesterday, I apparently fell asleep with the light on. It was still on this morning."
"End Medical Log," Bashir said, touching a control to end the recording. He covered his mouth as he felt another yawn coming. His eyes watered and his eyelids felt heavy. But it was only 1500 hours. The day wasn't over yet.
As if to emphasize that point, the deck suddenly shifted beneath him, sending at least two of his staff to the floor. The klaxon went off right after, and the lights changed, indicating Red Alert. "We're under attack," Bashir surmised, just as a second volley struck the Defiant. Still, he managed to get out of his seat and help one of the nurses to his feet. A few others stumbled through the door. Nurse Baines already had the kits out. Many of the medical staff now kept med kits in their quarters as Bashir did. They wouldn't have to report to Sickbay. But some were on duty in other areas of the ship.
Casualty and damage reports began to pour in with the next round of torpedoes. Bashir sent his staff out to the various parts of the ship. He checked the contents of his own med kit and then headed for the bridge.
Exhausted, Bashir didn't even bother to undress. It was nearly midnight. Kicking off his shoes, he climbed up to his bunk and collapsed onto the pillow. "Computer," he mumbled and waited for the computer to chirp its acknowledgment. "Wake me up at 0600 hours." In minutes he was asleep.
Twenty-six minutes after he lay down, the whine began. But he was too asleep, too exhausted even to hear it. His body tensed as the first tendril reached out to touch his temple. At that his eyes flew open, but then the electricity hit full-force, sending his body into convulsions and locking his mind into one single thought: pain.
Each convulsion threatened to drop him off the side of the bunk, and it was gravity that eventually broke the connection. The tendrils lashed out in vain, searching for him. But he was beyond their reach, unconscious on the floor.
"0620" the computer intoned. "You have six messages."
Bashir stirred, and then winced. Instinctively, his hand reached for his temple, the source of the pain. He opened his eyes quickly after that. His index finger had felt the irregularity of a scab there. Before he could investigate, however, he was surprised to find that he was not in his bunk. A spot of red on the carpet beneath his face confirmed the scab. He'd been bleeding.
"How many messages?" he asked, his voice still muffled by the morning. Late again. Very late.
"You have six messages," the computer answered. "Most recent from Chief Miles O'Brien."
Bashir was about to have the computer delete them, since he knew what they would say. But his door chimed before he could order it. "Who is it?" he asked, standing. If it was the captain, he'd have to get dressed.
"It's me, Julian," the Chief called from the other side of the door. "You up?"
Bashir let out a sigh of relief. "Yeah," he answered, trying to keep from yawning. "I'm up." Then he noticed he was already dressed. But the stubble on his chin told him he hadn't shaved. It was all rather strange. Waking up on the floor, dressed, but not shaved. He didn't remember any of it. Just the dream. So real, that dream. He shook it off. "Come on in, Miles."
The door opened and O'Brien entered. "You look like hell, Julian."
"Good morning," Bashir muttered back. "I've just got to shave. I'll be ready in a minute." Julian left him in the main room while he went to shave.
"You had breakfast?" O'Brien asked, already moving to the replicator. "Tarkalian tea and a glazed donut," he ordered. "It's not much, but you haven't got time for anything else. Trouble sleeping again?"
Julian emerged from the other room, clean shaven, but still with dark shadows under his eyes. "I really don't know," he admitted. "I remember the dream, but I feel so drained."
O'Brien handed him the donut, but held the tea while Julian pulled on his shoes. "Maybe you should run some tests. Something's wrong. I've never known you to oversleep like this."
"I've never been this tired either." Julian took a bite and then rethought his last remark. "Well, maybe, but that was awhile ago. Circumstances couldn't be more different."
O'Brien waited for him to finish the donut and then handed him the tea as they stepped out into the corridor. "It's probably just stress," he suggested. "War time, and all. You've been through a lot. It's bound to get to you eventually."
The Defiant, having completed its mission, spent the rest of the day heading back to the station. There were no more reports of Dominion or Cardassian ships in the area. No new anomalies to keep the crew's attention. It was a slow day. O'Brien hadn't minded though. He and his engineering teams had needed the time to repair the ship. The battle the day before had blown out the impulse engines and the forward shields.
The Defiant docked at the station at 1900 hours. O'Brien's shift was over, so he assigned work crews to continue the repairs on the Defiant and invited Doctor Bashir over for dinner. Keiko was away with the children for the weekend. "I'm feeling Italian, tonight," he told Bashir as they entered his quarters. "How about you?"
"I'm open to anything," Bashir sighed. "Do you need any help?"
"No, it's alright," O'Brien replied. "Just have a seat." Chester, having heard the door open, ran from the bedroom and collided softly with O'Brien's shin. O'Brien could already hear him purring. "I suppose you want dinner, too." But Chester responded by turning his back on O'Brien to investigate the guest who had sat down on the sofa. "I'll take that as a 'no.'"
O'Brien left Bashir with the cat and walked over to the replicator. "Fettuccini alfredo," he ordered. "Two servings." Lights began to swirl inside the opening of the replicator until two steaming plates of pasta appeared there. O'Brien reached in to remove them and then turned to set them on the table. "What do you want to go with it?" he asked Bashir.
When Bashir didn't answer, he looked up. Bashir was leaning on the arm of the sofa, his arm propped under his head like a pillow. His eyes were closed. Chester had found a nice spot in the nook made by Bashir's hip, since the doctor's legs were still over the side. His eyes were closed, too, at least as far as O'Brien could see. The cat was curled into a tight, furry ball, with one paw placed over his nose.
O'Brien smiled. "Good job, Chester," he whispered and put one plate back in the replicator.
The sun was just beginning to dip beneath the lower branches of the pine
trees around him. It had been a beautiful day and a beautiful sunset, with the
colors of blue and pink firelite beneath the rolling clouds. But now the sun was
past the trees, about to dip beneath the land. The sky above the treetops was
dark and looming, while the firelight was hidden by branches and pine needles. The wind picked up and he found himself beside a lake. The first echoes of
thunder met his ear and the tranquility of the forest lake left him. He was
afraid of the thunder. He had to find shelter. There was a flash of light,
reflected eerily across the strangely still glassy surface of the water. The
thunder boomed loud and fast behind the light. It would catch him. There, up ahead, but still across the lake, was a cabin. Lightning reflected
in the windows and thunder shook the ground. He almost slipped in the mud beside
the banks. The wind picked up until he felt it wanted to push him into the lake.
Firelight glowed in the windows of the cabin, welcoming him. Smoke billowed up
from the chimney. He tried to run, but the mud was slippery. Rain poured down,
drowning his view of the cabin. And then the light and sound were one. With blinding, deafening force, he was
thrown from his feet into the icy water of the lake. But he didn't feel the
cold. The fire and energy still coursed through him. Liquid fire surrounded him,
licked at his skin, poured down his throat, burned in his lungs. And in the
strange consciousness that dreaming allows, he wasn't sure if he was drowning or
dying of electrocution.
The wind picked up and he found himself beside a lake. The first echoes of thunder met his ear and the tranquility of the forest lake left him. He was afraid of the thunder. He had to find shelter. There was a flash of light, reflected eerily across the strangely still glassy surface of the water. The thunder boomed loud and fast behind the light. It would catch him.
There, up ahead, but still across the lake, was a cabin. Lightning reflected in the windows and thunder shook the ground. He almost slipped in the mud beside the banks. The wind picked up until he felt it wanted to push him into the lake. Firelight glowed in the windows of the cabin, welcoming him. Smoke billowed up from the chimney. He tried to run, but the mud was slippery. Rain poured down, drowning his view of the cabin.
And then the light and sound were one. With blinding, deafening force, he was thrown from his feet into the icy water of the lake. But he didn't feel the cold. The fire and energy still coursed through him. Liquid fire surrounded him, licked at his skin, poured down his throat, burned in his lungs. And in the strange consciousness that dreaming allows, he wasn't sure if he was drowning or dying of electrocution.
Bashir woke with a start, gasping for breath as droplets of water fell from his forehead into his eyes. They stung. He was sweating. Just a dream, he told himself, like before. It was dark and he felt pricks against his chest. Now that he thought about it, he felt weight against his chest. Then he heard the rumble, and his eyes began to adjust. "Chester," he whispered, realizing that he must still be in O'Brien's quarters.
The cat responded by stretching one of his front paws out to touch Bashir's face. His sharp claws gently pricked his chin. He purred louder and then snuggled back into a ball and went back to sleep.
Trying not to disturb the cat, he checked the time. 0230. Still late at night. It was the first time since the dreams had started that he woke up before morning. But he was still tired, and there was something hypnotic about watching a cat sleep. His eyelids began to drop, and despite the lightning waiting for him in his dreams, he let them close. The vibrations of Chester's purr were soothing, and he soon fell asleep again.