Hindsight

Hindsight

This takes place during the early second season.

Paramount: I know you lurk, so enjoy reading this one. I'm using

your characters, your universe, and your "money machine" with no

permission (or shame) whatsoever. Ha! Ha! Ha!

- Jessica

***********************************************************************

"Hindsight"

"I have come to look upon Time as a companion...

that teaches us to treasure every moment..."

- Captain Picard, Star Trek: Generations

It was a routine exploration mission. The *Rio Grande* was

charting the Wormhole. Even after a little over a year of studying it,

there were still more questions than answers about why it was stable,

and its unique temporal properties.

Ben Sisko always thought the Wormhole was a beautiful place, and

ever since his encounter with the Beings inside it, half of him was

eager to have those questions answered while the other part of him

hoped that the Wormhole's mystery would last forever. His science

officer, Jadzia Dax, who was sitting next to him, seemed more eager to

uncover the secrets of the universe while he station's Chief Medical

Officer, Julian Bashir, was sitting quietly (a bit of a feat for the

young doctor) at the third seat, monitoring a console of his own.

Ben's terminal chattered a little bit. He looked down. "Hey,

what's that?" he asked, checking his readings. "Looks like we've picked

up something unusual. Could it be a temporal abnormality?"

"I don't know," Jadzia said, eyes locked on her console. "Could

be. I'll deploy a high-frequency scanning beam to find out." She

pressed a series of panels on her controls. "There. Just let it scan

for a little while. I'll go to the back. You guys want something to

eat? I'm starving."

"Sure, Dax," said Ben. "Just grab a ham sandwich."

"Make that two ham sandwiches," Julian said. "And thank you in

advance."

Jadzia disappeared into the back. Julian slid into her seat and

monitored the controls.

"So, Commander," asked Julian. "Looking forward to your class

reunion?"

"How's you know about that?" Ben asked.

"Dax has been talking about it a lot. She's wondering how you're

handling the fact that it's been twenty years since your graduated the

Academy."

"I'm not looking forward to it," said Ben. "There will be all

those captains and commanders on these prestigious assignments, rubbing

it in my face. I'm not sure I want to put up with all of it."

"Well, then," said the young doctor, brown eyes glistening like

polished tiger's eye. "I suppose I should be glad. After all, I've got

my whole future ahead. This post is just for starters."

"For starters?" asked Ben. "What do you mean, for starters?"

"I had a bet going with my classmates in medical school. I was

neck and neck with the class star, Elizabeth Lense. She didn't even

know I existed, but I had a picture of her that I copied from the

campus news service. I would stare at it for hours on end, envisioning

myself beating her out."

"Didn't happen, did it?"

"Not since I botched that question on the final. Gods, it was

such a stupid question. I still wonder why I blew it." He flashed a

huge grin. "I'll beat her to the admiral's bars, though."

"Planning on staying in the fleet that long, huh?"

"Count on it. I'm getting as far as I can get from Earth; new

beginnings, lots of adventure...Couldn't ask for more."

"I hear that you put in for that post on the *Thompson.* Full

lieutenant and chief medical officer to boot. I'll bet you're looking

forward to it."

"Honestly, I'm going to miss this place," Julian said. "But well,

I have to keep going. Don't ever look back. Something might be gaining

on you."

"I recognize that quote!" said Ben with a laugh. "Famous

twentieth-century baseball player named -"

Suddenly, the cockpit of the runabout started to buck and quake.

Julian looked down at his controls. "The beam has caused a temporal

distortion inside the Wormhole!"

"Shutting down the beam," said Ben. "You back us out of here."

"Commander, I don't know if I can. We're already halfway in the

distortion field."

"Engines at full."

"Engines at ninety...ninety-five...Full!"

"We're beginning to clear the rupture. Hold on!"

The cabin jerked and rocked like a rodeo bull. A green-white

light filled the cabin, then subsided as they pulled out of the

distortion.

"All systems read normal."

"What was that light?"

"Unknown. We almost didn't pull out. The ship was half inside the

distortion."

Suddenly, the men heard a woman's surprised shriek from the back.

They both ran back there to find Jadzia in the doorway, looking over

the runabout dining table. Two people were slowly forming...slowly

coming into phase.

Finally, the images solidified. Two men, both unconscious. The

younger one wore a Starfleet uniform in service about twenty years ago.

The older man wore a jumpsuit of a design that none of the officers

recognized.

Jadzia looked at them in wonder. Running over to one of them, a

young man with very dark skin, Jadzia shook her head. "It's amazing..."

She locked eyes with Ben. "It's you!"

"It can't be," said Ben, running over to get a better look.

The other figure, a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair,

groaned as he came awake. The first person he saw was Ben. "What

the...? Where am I?"

He looked to Jadzia and smiled wide. "I must be dead. This has

got to be heaven..."

He turned his head, and locked eyes with Julian. Uttering a

groan, he said. "Scratch that. I'm in hell."

Julian had finished running his tricorder over the older man. "I

can assure you..."

It was at that point that Julian got a good look at this man. He

peered at Julian through a set of brown eyes...familiar brown eyes.

"What are you..." the man said belligerently.

Julian stepped back. Even the voice!

"I'm...I must be you?" Julian breathed.

The computer droned. "Radiation Alert. Lethal dose in two

minutes."

Jadzia shook off the shock and ran into the cockpit. Ben and

Julian followed.

"This doesn't look good," she said. "We have a full blown

temporal disturbance, and the Wormhole's filling up with Arion

Radiation. We've got to back out of here until I can come up with a way

to seal the disturbance."

"What about them?" asked Julian, gesturing to the back room of

the runabout.

Jadzia sighed. "They'll have to come with us."

Ben nodded. "Take us back home, Dax."

The runabout turned around and bolted out of the Wormhole.

In the back, the younger of the men rubbed his jaw. "Man...when

that old fart said he'd knock me into the middle of next week, he

wasn't kidding."

Older Julian shook his head. "I think...that for you, it's a

little later than next week."

"Says who?" the young man barked.

Older Julian got off the table and looked down at his companion.

"Benjamin Sisko, correct?"

"Yeah. Ensign Ben Sisko," Younger Ben looked over Older Julian's

uniform. "Who are you, sir?"

Older Julian helped Younger Ben to his feet. "Admiral Julian

Bashir. You don't have to call me 'sir.' I think serve under you

later."

"I don't get it," Younger Ben said. "How can you be under my

command?"

"Long story, and I don't want to tell it right now. What's the

last thing you remember?"

Younger Ben had to think. "I was with this old fart Trill

Ambassador. He insulted my girlfriend, and I lost my cool. Last thing I

remember is the old man giving me a right hook." He rubbed his jaw

again. "Great hit for an old fart."

"Let me guess. This old man's name was Curzon?"

Younger Ben looked puzzled. "How would you know?"

Older Julian glanced back to the cockpit, then back to Younger

Ben. "Call it a wild guess."

Younger Ben glanced out a window. "Wow! This sure don't look like

Dallios Station. Looks more like a Cardassian scrap heap."

Older Julian looked out the window. The old station...He sighed

and looked at Younger Ben. "For once, you're right."

The *Rio Grande* eased into the shuttlebay.

Ben looked at the back. "One question. What do we do about them?"

Julian shrugged. "I haven't the foggiest notion what to do with

them except explain the situation."

"Won't that be polluting the timeline?" asked Ben.

Jadzia frowned. "Ben, I don't suppose you've traveled in this

runabout about twenty years ago?"

Ben shook his head. "No. Maybe they aren't even what they look

like."

"I doubt that very seriously." A clear voice, tinted with a thick

British accent, called from the back of the cabin. "And I don't

remember running into myself, either."

Julian blinked owlishly as he looked at the older man. Getting a

good look at the neck insignia, Julian could see admiral's bars.

Involuntarily, he reached up to his own collar, and felt the two pips

of a Junior Grade Lieutenant. This was his future?

"I've been talking to Ben Sisko in the dining room. Ensign

Benjamin Sisko," Older Julian walked up and got face-to-face with his

younger self. "And congratulations, Doctor. You get to be me in twenty

years."

Jadzia frowned. "This is more serious than I thought. If none of

you remembers being here, we could have a temporal paradox on our

hands. That rupture needs to be sealed before it gets too large to

fix."

Older Julian sighed. "Wonderful. One minute, I doze off at my

desk, the next, I'm in the past." He shook his head. "I'll find Ensign

Sisko some quarters and keep him out of trouble."

"Do that," said Ben. "We can't have him running around the

station."

Older Julian nodded. "I'll also put myself out of action for

awhile."

Julian held up his hand. "Excuse me, Commander. I'd like to take

them both to the Infirmary first. The time displacement might have

affected them, and might give us a clue as to how to send them back."

"Agreed," said Ben. "But don't use the scenic route."

"We're here," Julian said as the door opened.

Younger Ben looked around the place. "Wow. So this is what a

Cardassian Infirmary looks like."

"Who told you this station was Cardassian?" Julian asked, feeling

a little odd. This man certainly didn't seem to act like the restrained

commander he had come to know.

"The Admiral did," Younger Ben said, walking over to a biobed and

sitting down. "Do your worst."

Older Julian walked in the door and eyed the Infirmary. "Hard to

believe I worked here."

"Must bring back a lot of good memories for you," Julian said

proudly. "I'm quite fond of this place."

"We wasted our life here," Older Julian said.

Julian staggered back. "What?"

"You heard me well enough. Look at this Infirmary. It's a piece

of garbage. I'm surprised I even took this blasted assignment. The

equipment never worked. I was sorely understaffed..."

"I think I...we did all right."

Older Julian grunted. "I was more of a fool than I ever realized.

I'm so glad I'm away from this trash heap," he said.

"I don't think it's too bad, Admiral," Younger Ben said. "This

looks at least ten years ahead of what I've seen at Dallios."

"You're twenty years ahead," Older Julian grumbled. "Really. I'm

glad I took a research assignment after the *Nagasaki.*"

Julian frowned. "You? Me? On a research base?"

"I head it now. That's all I'm going to say. And I'm glad I don't

have any more patients or adventures to deal with." Older Julian

shuffled to a biobed. "Okay. Try to find something."

Julian was shocked. A research base? No adventure? He hated desk

jobs with a passion. Why would he take one? Could things have changed

that drastically? How could they?

No time to ask that. Besides, knowledge of the future could only

compound the problem. He started his scans.

Ben and Jadzia came into his office later. Julian handed them a

PADD and shared the results.

"They have some Arion radiation in their bloodstreams, and some

other physiological effects of a time-shift, but otherwise, both of

them are fine. I asked them the date they left. It's the same day,

nineteen-point-seven years ago in Ensign Sisko's case, and

nineteen-point-seven years in the future in my case," Julian said.

"I was in the runabout with the two of you," said Jadzia,

studying the readout. "Why wasn't I affected?"

Julian shook his head and gestured to the screen. "Looks like we

were only half-way in the rift. According to this, the tail section,

where you were, was not inside the disturbance."

"Good thing, too," said Ben. "Twenty years ago, you were two

people. Twenty years from now, who knows?"

"I'll agree with that," said Jadzia.

"Now, I think it's time we assigned them some quarters until this

is over," said Julian.

They walked out in the Infirmary to see Younger Ben talking to

Older Julian.

"Those were Bajoran nurses! And what is this Wormhole they're

talking about?"

"All you need to know is that you are in the future, and I'm from

even further in the future," Older Julian said. "Now, please. Don't ask

any more questions. You'll make matters worse."

"Can't I ask you about that bar near here?"

"Quark's?" sniffed the Older Julian. "Don't bother. The food was

lousy, and it attracted a bad clientele. Better off just drinking in

the privacy of your own quarters."

Ben and Julian looked at them and shrugged. Julian approached

them. "Excuse me, gentlemen."

"Can we leave?" asked Older Julian.

"You can. We will escort you to some quarters until we can find a

way to restore you to the correct time frame," said Julian.

"The sooner the better," muttered Older Julian, sliding off the

biobed. "The sooner I leave here, the better."

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Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative,alt.fan.jadzia.dax.slug.slug.slug

Subject: REPOST: "Hindsight" (B,J,J) 2/4

Date: 18 Jan 1996 05:03:21 GMT

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"So, this is mine?" asked Younger Ben as he sat on the firm

Cardassian mattress.

"These are your assigned quarters," said Ben, smiling just as

wide as his younger counterpart. "Mine are a level up from yours."

Younger Ben was delighted. "I'm liking this place," he said with

a laugh. "Admiral Bashir told me you're in charge here."

Ben nodded and hummed an affirmative. "I am. Can't tell you too

much. There is a protocol to follow with temporal displacement."

"I get it," Younger Ben said. "Well, I don't mind too much. Beats

shuttling that old fart on Dallios around. This could make up for it."

Bonelessly, he lay back on the bed. "Yes sir, out in the middle of the

action. Bet you love it."

"It has its good days and bad days," Ben admitted, smiling at the

infectious cheeriness of his younger self. How easily he smiled! He had

all but lost that ability after Jennifer died, and it was only recently

that he was able to find it in him again.

"Well, now that you're getting settled, I'll get back to OPS and

work on a way to send you back to your time."

Just as Ben was leaving, his younger self called after him.

"Don't hurry on my account!"

The commander chuckled as he slipped out the door.

"Well, here we are," Julian said cheerfully as he pointed out the

quarters, across the hall and two doors down from Younger Ben's.

The door slid open. Older Julian just appraised them neutrally.

"I remember these. Standard guest quarters. Yes, I remember them quite

well, I'm afraid."

"We could transfer you to high-level guest quarters if you like,"

Julian said uncomfortably.

"No, this will do," the admiral said, finding a place to sit.

Julian was very uncomfortable. "Well, Jadzia, if the admiral is

settled, I'd like to meet you later to discuss the situation..."

"Don't mind him," Older Julian said, a snide tone in his voice.

"He thinks he's in love with you. I'm apologizing in advance for all

the stupid things he'll say and do, as well as for his behavior in the

past."

Julian's jaw hit the floor, and his tan skin went ashen. He

flinched as if he had been hit. He started to say something, but no

sound came out of his open mouth - he was simply too shocked to speak.

"Oh, grow up, Julian. I can't believe I was you. Get out of

here."

With as much dignity as he could muster, he nodded and left.

Jadzia stayed, icy blue eyes focused on this stranger.

"That was the most ice-hearted thing I've heard in a long time,"

she said. "I'd never say that to someone..."

Older Julian just waved her off and sat in his chair, avoiding

eye contact with her. "Oh, please. It's the truth. He does believe he's

in love with you, but it's just an illusion. As empty as his delusion

that he's some sort of hero, saving the universe..."

"Julian's a dreamer, but I won't fault him for it. I think the

universe needs more dreamers like him."

Older Julian chuckled humorlessly. "Oh, come on. I know all those

dreams he had. They were mine. I dreamed of coming here, and saving the

universe. Those days are long gone, and so are those dreams. I've grown

up, and I'm seeing the universe for how things really are. You know

what I found out?"

"What?" she asked.

"I found out that dreams aren't worth it. Dreams die." He

gestured around the room. "I realized after a long time that the

universe can't be saved. All you can do is accept it." His cruel voice

echoed in the room. "Look at this piece of junk. I thought I was some

frontier hero. In reality, I was only a foolish young man on a piece of

Cardassian scrap metal. No one gave a damn that I was here. I'm glad my

dreams are gone."

"I'm not," Jadzia said. "And I actually like the dreamer you were

a lot better than what you are now."

Older Julian's expression was unreadable as he turned to address

her. "Thank you for the escort, Lieutenant. You can leave anytime."

Jadzia felt cold as she left his quarters.

* * * *

"According to the Rio Grande's sensor logs," Jadzia said, trying

to focus on the readout. "The beam has caused the temporal abnormality

to expand."

"So why have these shadows of the Commander and me materialized?"

Julian asked.

"Unfortunately, they aren't shadows, Julian. They are as real as

you are. You see, a wormhole is, in and of itself, compressed time.

It's a shortcut that allows us to travel years of distances in what we

perceive to be only a matter of seconds. It is time displacement. I

think the older version of you -" she pointed to the display.

"Materialized when you first entered the rupture. By going forward in

the Wormhole, we were actually going forward in time." Pointing out

another spot on the readout of the display, she looked at Ben. "And

when we were pulling away from it..."

"We were pulling toward the past," Ben said. "And that light that

flashed through the cockpit..."

"Any disruption of the space-time continuum is a confusion of the

way space-time normally works. I think when you were pulling out of it,

the abnormality was trying to put you in its time frame, but instead

pulled your other selves out of their proper place in time."

"Well," said Ben, rubbing his forehead. "I certainly don't

remember being here when I was an ensign."

"I know," said Jadzia. "Which means that we could be dealing with

a temporal paradox." She shook her head. "and those, unfortunately,

have only existed in theory."

"Until now," said Julian.

"This has to be corrected as soon as possible. Theoretically, a

paradox can completely destroy normal space-time. I think the time

displacing properties of the Wormhole are keeping it under control, but

if the abnormality grows beyond the Wormhole, we could have a real mess

on our hands."

"What about sealing the rupture?" asked Julian. "Any way we can

do that?"

"Well, I'll have to review the logs to see what was the most

likely cause if the rift. It could be the energy used in the scanning

beam, our proximity to it, even the frequency of it could have caused

the rupture to expand."

"If the rift is sealed?"

"Well, if we can put your time-displaced counterparts near enough

to the rupture, an then seal it, then they'll just go back to their

place in time."

"What about the radiation?" Julian asked. "And what's to prevent

this from occurring to anyone else piloting through the Wormhole?"

"I'll tell you those answers as soon as I figure out the cause,"

Jadzia said, turning back to her terminal.

Younger Ben paced his quarters. These were nice, but it was a bit

claustrophobic to be here alone. The doorchime sounded. "Come in."

Older Julian walked in the room. "I'm just seeing how you are.

Making sure you don't get into any trouble."

"Me? Trouble? You worry too much, Admiral." Younger Ben went to

the replicator. "Breaded shrimp. Extra spicy."

It materialized. Ben popped one into his mouth. Around a mouthful

of shrimp, he said. "Not as good as Dad's, but it beats the Academy

dorm food."

Older Julian shook his head. "I can't believe this..."

"Yeah, I can't believe life's gonna treat me this good." Younger

Ben grinned as he settled back in a chair. "Sure, the decor sucks, but

hey, who cares about decor when you're the man in charge?"

"Thrilling." Older Julian was underwhelmed.

"Hey, don't get too down on this place. You've got your own

castle here."

"That wreck of an infirmary? I'm glad to be rid of it."

"You know what, Admiral?"

"What?"

"I'm gonna enjoy bossing you around." Younger Ben immediately

rushed to the door, and stepped out of his quarters. Older Julian got

up and tried to follow, but Younger Ben had already gotten into a

turbolift and it started moving, leaving Older Julian to wait for the

next one.

"Damn him!" Older Julian said, pounding his hand fruitlessly

against the door to the lift.

Younger Ben entered the bar. The flashing lights, the pretty

women gathered around, serving drinks and manning the Dabo tables. A

gorgeous brunette sauntered up to him. "Welcome to Quark's. First time

here?"

"Yes. It's the first time I've even see this place."

"Well, here are your five free tokens for the Dabo wheel. Enjoy

yourself."

The tokens were blown in a matter of minutes. Younger Ben decided

to find a place to sit and order a drink. Spotting a pretty woman at

the next table, he ran his fingers through his short hair and adjusted

his uniform before moving in for the kill.

"What's a beautiful woman like you doing on a Cardassian

scrapheap?"

She didn't look up. "Quit joking around, Ben. Just sit down..."

However, when Jadzia looked up, she didn't see the station's

commander.

"What makes you think I'm joking? You know, the food here doesn't

compare with the recipes my dad taught me. Gourmet restaurant in New

Orleans. Best crayfish you'll ever eat. Come to my place, and I'll cook

some up for you."

"No thanks," Jadzia said. What in hell was he doing at Quark's?

"Hey, you're the pilot of that ship..."

Jadzia nodded. "And you shouldn't be here."

"But I am. Let's talk for a while."

"Talk..." She gestured to the waiter to bring two synthales to

keep the younger Ben here until she could figure out what to do with

him. "So," said Jadzia casually, trying to keep this younger version of

Ben from wandering around and seeing any more of the station. "Where

are you stationed?"

Younger Ben flashed her a charming smile. "Dallios Station. My

first assignment." He shook his head and started to mutter. "My friends

are out doing things in space, and I'm stuck playing chauffeur to this

old fart of a Trill ambassador."

Jadzia had to suppress a smile. "Tell me about him," she said,

trying to maintain the conversation.

Younger Ben took a long drink of synthale and looked up. "That's

not the conversation I'm interested in. I'm more interested in you."

Jadzia couldn't suppress the smile this time. *You wouldn't be if

you knew who I was!* Aloud, all she said was, "Oh, really?"

Younger Ben took her chin in his large hand and turned her face

around. "You have the same markings as that old ambassador. You another

Trill?"

*Yes and no*...She nodded.

"Is it a racial trait to be a pain in the ass, or is that just

Ambassador Dax?"

Jadzia raised her eyebrows. Younger Ben just sat back in his

chair.

"Depends on what you consider to be a 'pain in the ass,'" Jadzia

answered.

Younger Ben just waved her off. "You seem good enough. That

Ambassador, though. He insults me. When my mom was visiting me, he

tells this dirty joke right to her face! When I'm shuttling him, he's

making jokes about what I'm doing. Not my fault that he's got a problem

with transporters."

"It happens about half the time," Jadzia explained. "Has he told

you that he's Joined?"

"Joined?" Younger Ben didn't understand.

Jadzia just nodded her head. "Never mind. I...He'll tell you

later."

"Finally, he insults this lady I'm seeing. Tells me she's got a

great set of..." Younger Ben shook his head. "And he tells me in exact

detail what he'd do with them. Man, I just lost my cool." Younger Ben

made a fist and hit an imaginary target to the side. "Smack. Old fart

just laughed and decked me right back. Woke up in that runabout."

"I see," said Jadzia.

Younger Ben just smiled. "Who cares about work, though? Let's

talk about you." After a long pause, Younger Ben leaned in close. "Has

anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful eyes I've ever

seen?"

A short distance away, Ben saw Older Julian enter the bar. The

commander walked up to the older man.

"What are you doing here?" asked Ben. "I thought I told you..."

"I'm following your younger counterpart. He decided that he would

see the bar whether or not he had permission. Since this is my past, I

decided to make sure he doesn't get into trouble."

"Where is he now?"

Older Julian looked around and saw where the younger Ben was, and

who he was with. Uttering a groan, he said, "Oh, hell. He's being just

as stupid as I was."

Ben looked up, and saw his younger counterpart sitting with

Jadzia at the next table. Watching the body language, Ben could see

that the ensign was trying very hard to turn on the charm with the

pretty science officer.

"You mentioned that you were seeing someone..." Jadzia said,

trying to deflect her friend's younger self. He would have backed off

quite readily if she revealed that she could remember what it was to be

that "old fart," but that would disrupt the timeline.

"Oh? Jennifer? That's not serious. She's seeing other guys, I'm

seeing other ladies..."

The lifeline came from an unusual source.

"Ahem, Ensign," the voice echoed behind her. "You've had enough

here. Let's get back to your quarters."

"I was just about to persuade this lady to come with me..."

The voice was stern. "Not bloody likely. Let's go."

"Admiral..."

"Now, Ensign. Do I make myself clear?"

Younger Ben sighed. "Sorry, orders are orders."

After Older Julian all but dragged his younger counterpart out of

Quark's, Ben came up to Jadzia's table and sat down.

Absently looking out the door, Jadzia sighed and smiled. "Your

younger self was just talking about Curzon." Turning to Ben, she

flashed a huge grin that looked vaguely like it belonged on the old

man. "I was a real son-of-a-bitch, wasn't I?"

"No comment, Old Man," Ben answered.

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From: allronix@ix.netcom.com(Jessica Krucek )

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative,alt.fan.jadzia.dax.slug.slug.slug

Subject: REPOST: DS9 "Hindsight" 3/4

Date: 18 Jan 1996 05:12:59 GMT

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When they got into Younger Ben's quarters, Older Julian was

furious. "What the hell did you think you were doing back there?"

"Just getting out of my quarters, and enjoying a harmless drink

at the Ferengi's bar. Take it easy, Admiral. I didn't learn the

future."

"That's what you think!" Older Julian shouted. "I don't think you

have the slightest idea who you were talking to!"

"I didn't catch her name," said Younger Ben, raising his voice.

"You interrupted me!"

"Don't you raise your voice to me, Ensign!" Older Julian shouted.

Younger Ben got up and shoved the older man. "And who in hell are

you to be giving me orders? From what I saw, you're under my command!"

"Not for another eighteen years."

Younger Ben crossed his arms indignantly across his chest. "You

know, Admiral, I'm looking forward to being here."

Older Julian sniffed contemptuously. "Why in hell would you?"

Younger Ben stared down the older man. "I've been doing a little

looking into this place, and for being a Cardassian scrapheap, it's

actually pretty good. Rebuilding a planet, discovering the first stable

wormhole...exploring a new Quadrant of space. I'd say this is a good

place to start over."

Older Julian frowned, and said sharply. "Perhaps the Commander

forgot to mention this, but he didn't exactly come here of his own free

will. His wife died in an attack by an enemy you haven't discovered

yet, but will enc

ounter all too soon. Starfleet all but dumped him on this station, and

put me here because I was a young fool. I was stupid to take this

assignment. Stupid to get attached to anything or anyone here..."

Younger Ben groaned and threw up his arms. "Now, you're sounding

just like that drunk old man I'm stuck shuttling around on Dallios.

Tells me never to open yourself up, because you get hurt every time.

Says he's seen more friends leave or die than he can count. His

culture's solution is to stay away from attachments."

"Well then," grumbled Older Julian. "He's got the right idea."

"I don't know about that," Younger Ben said. "Sometimes, all you

have is your friends. Sure, you get a little hurt, but that's nothing

compared to getting lonely. I tell him that he's got a lot to learn

about people. That shuts him up."

"He does, does he?" Older Julian said.

"Yes. Don't know why."

"Maybe..." Older Julian whispered. "Maybe you were the one who

taught her that getting emotionally involved wasn't a bad thing, even

if that person was going to leave. That's what she told me the morning

I had to go..." He shook his head, them looked up at Younger Ben. "If

that's the case, I have you to thank."

"She?" Younger Ben was dubious. "I'm talking about an old man,

not some lady."

No, thought Older Julian. I'm talking about the same

person...indirectly.

Younger Ben threw up his hands. "I don't know what you're about,

Admiral. I just hope I can get back to where I belong so I don't have

to listen to you for the next decade."

Older Julian nodded and turned to leave. He said quietly. "Just

remember, Benjamin. The longer you look at those eyes of hers, the more

over your head you're getting. I know that all too well..."

* * * *

He was unable to sleep, too acutely aware of his surroundings, of

the feel of the hard, Cardassian bed beneath him, of the coldness of

the sheets. Whenever he closed his eyes, he could see those eyes...her

eyes. Those ice-covered pieces of lapis that held the light of a young

woman and the depth of long centuries of knowledge.

He had been so young, so foolish. It never should have happened.

He should never have that memory, lying in a Cardassian bed, having her

lithe, cool body next to his. It was wrong to feel that way for

her...much less act on those feelings.

Seeing her again...with what he used to be. He couldn't say the

things he wanted to tell her. She'd never understand, and the natural

order of things would be disrupted. In his time, she had been gone for

almost fifteen years...

Older Julian rose out of bed and blearily stumbled to the

bathroom. Splashing some ice-cold water on his face, he looked into the

mirror, and took a look at himself, as if seeing his reflection in a

magic mirror of truth.

The emptiness had weighed on him, stooping his shoulders, and

causing his face to wrinkle much faster that it should have. Hard years

of running away from himself had caused his hair to turn to a dull

gray. His brown eyes were dull and lifeless, lacking all the animation

and life that filled his younger self.

The years of emptiness imprisoned him, chaining him suddenly,

then growing on him slowly. Like a Ruler of the Dead who had slowly

grown into one with his Underworld throne, Older Julian would never

know what it would be like to be alive and free ever again.

*When was the last time you laughed, Julian? Or even shed a tear?

Hell, when was the last time you even felt alive?*

No answer. He had shouldered this emptiness for so long, he had

forgotten how much of a burden it was. True, he had a wonderful career,

existed well enough to get by, even tried to drown his sorrows in

meaningless affairs.

But, like an addict, he was always trying to reach that perfect

high, the exhilaration that could never be found again. He was just

existing and getting quick fixes to stop from feeling rotten.

He thought of his younger self, still full of enthusiasm and a

hunger for life. Still "just" friends with her. Still living on this

utterly glorious piece of Cardassian scrap metal. He hoped his younger

self would not leave this station, and never know what it was like to

hear her voice murmuring words of passion in the darkness...

But, time would march on, and he'd walk the same path. In twenty

years, he'd be staring into this same mirror.

Older Julian wanted to curse his fate, but he was too emotionally

barren. Nothing could be done...

* * * *

I'm trying a new setting, 5000 cycles per second," Miles said as

he pressed a few more panels.

Jadzia studied the readout. "I think that's too low. Up that to

about 10000 cycles per second.

"That's maximum output," warned Miles. "It'll burn out the

emitters in less than five minutes. That might not be enough time to

seal the rift."

"If we lower the intensity levels, that might buy us a little

more time."

"But what about the radiation?" Miles asked. "A lower intensity

level will mean the pilot has to get closer to the disturbance in order

to seal it. That increases the risk of radiation poisoning..."

"It's just a simulation. Let's try it."

"Okay." Miles said, pressing the keys and monitoring the readout.

"Okay. We've got it. The rift will seal...one minute and thirty seconds

after the pilot dies of radiation poisoning."

"What chance is there that the pilot will be split by the

disturbance?" Jadzia asked.

"About fifty percent."

Jadzia paced. "What about generating the same sensor beam inside

the cabin. Will that protect the pilot from getting split?"

"Yeah, but it will compromise the life support systems a bit. The

radiation protection will be diminished by thirty-four percent."

"If the pilot dies, though, that's not going to be a problem..."

Miles was appalled. "How can you...I can't discuss fatalities

that casually."

"Chief, what does the readout say the pilot's chances of not

dying are?"

"About twenty-seven percent. Not acceptable if you ask me. I

wouldn't want anyone flying this in..."

"I just sent another probe into the Wormhole this morning. The

anomaly is only one hundred kilometers inside the Wormhole. Within

fifty hours, this station will be gone...within a week, Bajor. One

person is acceptable under the circumstances."

"Where you going to find a pilot willing to accept those kind of

odds?" Miles asked. "They'd have to be crazy."

"Don't worry, Chief. I won't die if I can help it," Jadzia said.

"You?" Chief sniffed. "You're crazy!"

"It's one person now, or hundreds later. I don't think they'll be

any way to stop it once it breeches the Wormhole."

"But sacrificing yourself..."

"As I said, Chief, I have no intention of dying if I can help

it." Jadzia scanned the readout, and adjusted a few variables. "I've

maximized the shield output. The pilot's chances of survival have

jumped another three percent."

"Still, those odds are for a madwoman. I'd not take my chances on

it."

Jadzia frowned. "Someone has to, Chief...someone has to. The

Arion radiation automatically creates interference with the autopilot.

The impulse engines have to be manually adjusted in order to get close

enough to the rupture."

"Still..."

"Get everyone to meet in the conference lounge. Major Kira,

Doctor Bashir, Ben, and the time-displaced counterparts. We'll all

decide..."

An hour later, Major Kira, the two Bens and the two Julians were

sitting around the table as Jadzia explained the situation.

"The scanning frequency of the probe must have hit a natural

fissure in the Wormhole itself," Jadzia said, pointing to the display

on the screen.

"Almost like playing a certain note can cause fine crystal to

crack," Ben said.

"Exactly," said Jadzia. "I think that I've also found the

solution to the problem."

"Which is?" Older Julian was dubious.

"If a high intensity, low-frequency scanner was able to rupture

to Wormhole, then perhaps another frequency can be used to reverse the

damage. Chief O'Brien and I can modify the Rio Grande's sensor grid to

project the beam into the temporal disturbance."

"What about the radiation?" Julian asked. "Won't that kill

whoever is piloting us in?"

Jadzia nodded. "Arion Radiation can't be shielded by anything

short of a stasis chamber. I've tested various simulations, and there's

a fifty percent chance that the rupture can be sealed before the dose

becomes lethal, but that's not a very good chance."

"How can we prevent the pilot from bringing their past or future

home?" Major Kira said with a frown.

"I think Chief O'Brien has come up with a solution."

All eyes went to the stocky Irishman at the end of the table.

Miles cleared his throat. "The power distribution system can be

modified to set up a steady ion burst that can act as a short-term

shield from the disturbance. It won't hold long, but it will be enough

to engage the low-frequency beam."

Older Julian frowned. "That will increase the risk of radiation

poisoning to seventy-five percent."

"Sorry," said Miles. "That's the best I can do."

Can I look at the specs for the ion burst?" Older Julian asked.

"How it works?"

"Don't see why not," said Miles, handing Older Julian the PADD

with the schematics.

"What if one of us pilots it in?" Younger Ben asked. "I mean, it

would make more sense than risking another person doing it."

"If the radiation is present at deadly levels, you would more

than likely materialize in your time dead," said Jadzia. "That would

only make the situation worse in your case."

"What about me?" Older Julian asked. "I could fly it in."

"Then you run the risk of not returning to your place in time,

and if Ben pilots the ship, his younger self might not go back. That's

why I'm taking the risk of piloting you all in."

Older Julian nearly stood up from his chair. "Why? Any one of us

can pilot that thing, and what good will it do if you're dead?"

Julian and Jadzia were a little surprised. The admiral was acting

not unlike his passionate, young self.

"If you pilot the runabout, there's a chance that you won't

return to your place in time, and frankly, a science officer is more

expendable than a commander or an admiral."

Older Julian frowned and sat back down, looking intently at the

schematics of Miles's shield design.

"Admiral," Ben said. "I'm not comfortable with this arrangement,

either." He looked up at Jadzia. "I don't think you are all that

expendable."

"Ben, I'm willing to risk it. This station will be destroyed if

that rift keeps growing, and Bajor will folloow in a matter of days. If

this thing breeches the Wormhole, no one's going to be able to stop it,

and since the autopilot won't get us close enough to the rift to seal

it, someone has to fly it in."

"Who's going to fly us home?" Julian asked.

"The autopilot can fly out, it just can't fly in," Jadzia

answered. "Now, our best window of opportunity to seal the rupture is

in three hours."

"In the meantime," Ben said, looking at the younger versions of

himself and Julian. "I think that we should make preparations to erase

the memories of Dr. Bashir and myself."

"Just the younger versions are necessary," Older Julian said,

running his fingers through his graying hair. "Their knowledge of their

older selves can disrupt the natural course of events, and I'll be more

than glad to do the procedure." An almost familiar glitter came to his

jaded brown eyes. "After all, even if it has been twenty years, I still

know that Infirmary like the back of my hand. Afterwards, I recommend,

we put them in stasis chambers in the runabout to protect them from the

radiation."

Ben nodded. "Agreed." He looked up at Jadzia. "Dax, tell me when

the Chief and you are ready."

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From: allronix@ix.netcom.com(Jessica Krucek )

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative,alt.fan.jadzia.dax.slug.slug.slug

Subject: REPOST: DS9 "Hindsight" 4/4

Date: 18 Jan 1996 05:32:39 GMT

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X-NETCOM-Date: Wed Jan 17 9:32:39 PM PST 1996

Julian waited nervously in his office. His older self came out of

the wardroom. "The younger version of Commander Sisko is sleeping well.

It's your turn."

Julian got out of the chair. "Good. The sooner I forget you, the

better."

Older Julian stopped him. The look in his eyes was oddly

troubled. "You don't mean that, do you?"

"Of course I mean it," Julian snarled. "Ever since you got here,

you've done nothing but ridicule me. 'This station's a mess,' 'This

Infirmary is a piece of garbage,' 'You wasted your life here...'"

"Julian..." Older Julian was at a loss for words.

The younger man was oblivious to his older self's discomfort.

"You belittle everything about me. You...you even blurt out my private

thoughts in front of Jadzia. Do you know how damned embarrassed I

felt?! Gods, I *am* you! If you are me, you should know how I feel

about her..." Julian was shaking in anger. "But you don't care do you?

You don't give a damn about anyone but yourself. You..." Julian spit

out the worst insult he could think to give himself. "You are just like

Father! Tell me, do you have a son at home you can take your anger out

on? Someone who you can beat with *your* belt?"

Older Julian turned red with rage. "You are such a fool, Julian!

And, no..." His voice became quieter. "No, I don't have anyone. No

children, not even someone I can really call a friend..."

Julian was still enraged, but decided to keep it in for the time

being. "You traded your passion...*my passion* for life...for saving

lives, for a high rank and an empty life." The anger dissolved,

replaced by pity. "What happened to me, Doctor? The man who decided

that the frontier was the best place for him? The person who still can

respect himself when he looks in a mirror? *Remember me?*"

Older Julian's shoulders sagged with the weight of his wasted

life. He looked up at his younger self. "Too well."

"Then," Julian's voice was as quiet as an empty church. "What

happened to me? I liked me..."

Now, it was Older Julian's turn to become angry. "You were

stupid, Julian. Incredibly stupid. I thought that Palis would have

taught us that if life gives you a good thing, you should just pull it

close to you and never let it go - come hell or high water - but no!

No, Julian, we were so dense we let our whole lives go spiraling into

the pit."

"I don't think I understand," said Julian.

"Of course you don't! You will never know until you wake up one

day and see me in the mirror!" His voice was harsh. "I'll tell you why

I hate you, Julian. I hate you because I had this. I had a beautiful

life and I threw it all away because I was too afraid to start growing

roots, too afraid to call any one place my home."

"I didn't apply for the position on the *Thompson* because I'm

afraid," said Julian. "I'm doing so because they need someone there who

can do the job."

"Don't you think that 'here' needs a good doctor, too?" Older

Julian sighed. "Truth is, I know why we took that position, and why

we've been running our whole careers. You think about staying too long

in any one place, and frankly, it scares the hell out of you. Don't

deny it. You are me. You just don't know it, yet."

"Well, there's nothing we can do about it now," Julian sighed.

"I'm doomed to lose, so I might as well go into it oblivious. Take me

to the wardroom."

Julian started out the door. Older Julian caught his arm.

"Julian..."

He turned around. His older self was looking at the floor. His

voice was a whisper. "It doesn't have to be that way."

"What?"

"I could just give you a sedative, and not do the erasure. I can

even tamper with the records so no one will ever know."

"That's unethical! You'd be disrupting the natural course of

events..."

"Damn you, Julian. Time is one of the most flexible things ever

designed. The future is carved one day at a time, each man making his

own mark. I think the Gods might have intended this...a glimpse into

what you could be."

"But..."

"I suppose you're right," the older Julian said, disgusted. "Just

go out. Go out and be damned. I'll sedate you."

Later, after his younger self was asleep, Jadzia entered the

Infirmary. Seeing the older Julian putting away the memory erasure

device, she asked. "Is everyone ready?"

The Older Julian nodded. "Yes, they're all ready."

Noticing his distant expression, Jadzia asked, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing you should concern yourself with, Jadzia. I'm just

thinking about what's happened to turn him..." He pointed to Julian,

asleep on the biobed. "Into me. All the friends I left behind, all the

things I missed. Hopefully, history isn't going to repeat itself."

"Why?" asked Jadzia. "You have a good post and a good rank.

You're well-respected..."

"Professionally," Older Julian said hollowly. "But I'm not as

lucky as he is. He has people who actually care about him. I pushed

everyone away after..." He turned around, his large brown eyes taking

in every centimeter of her, a horrible sadness echoed within them.

"After..."

"Don't tell me. You'll only disrupt..."

"Oh, just shut up, Dax! I'm not that 'child' on the biobed that

you can just brush off," Older Julian barked. "Right now, I have so

much to say. What the hell, I might as well say it, since I know you

well enough to know that what I say won't leave this infirmary..."

"Julian, I don't want to hear it..."

"Don't want to hear what? What I'm about to say?" Older Julian

pointed to his younger counterpart. "Fine. Be as stupid as me. Realize

the truth when it's too damn late to do anything about it. I'm not

about to make the same mistake twice!"

Jadzia blurted it out. "You *didn't* erase his memory?"

"And it's not going to be erased. I won't have him walk off a

cliff without giving him a chance to see the edge. I'm not that

important."

"You don't know that," Jadzia argued.

"Neither do you," Older Julian said. "By hell's fire, Jadzia. The

future was never meant to be carved in stone. It was meant to be lived,

and I'm not living. I'm existing. I may have an admiral's bars, but I

don't respect myself when I look in the mirror." He shook his head and

started to talk wildly. "Maybe I was supposed to come here, did you

ever consider that? Did the possibility ever once come to mind that I

might be here to avert a disaster?"

"The timeline must be preserved, Julian. No matter how

detrimental that decision is..."

Older Julian was bitter. "You had better open up those pretty

ears and sit down so you can hear all of it, and I'll make you listen

if I have to." He forced her into a chair. "Listen once, and listen

good. I know that if I let him...let myself run away, he'll never

forgive me...never forgive himself."

Older Julian pulled up a chair for himself and sat down in it.

His eyes were downcast, his voice quiet and choked with emotion. He

didn't even look at her as he spoke. "I did get accepted to the

*Thompson.* Everyone here was so happy to see me take a promotion,

especially you." He shook his head. "That isn't right...it's more

appropriate to call her the Jadzia from my time. Anyway, In the months

that followed, she and I spent a lot of my remaining time on the

station together, and the day before I left..." His eyes became clouded

with inscrutable shadows. "She invited me to a perfectly innocent

dinner in your...I mean, her quarters. We started to talk, listen to

music..."

"What happened?"

"We were drinking something quite a bit more potent than

synthale. After a few drinks, we started to get up and dance to the

music. Beautiful music...slow, romantic..."

She realized it in a hurry. "It didn't stay innocent, did it?"

"How astute," Older Julian said dryly. "No, it didn't. One thing

lead to another, and the next thing we knew, you were...she was giving

me a rather personal good-bye. It could have been the drinks or the

fact that we didn't have any time left, but that night was the most

memorable night of my life. Everything just seemed to...to *fit.* I

never felt that way before, so at peace. I was terrified of it. Duty on

the *Thompson* gave me reason to forget..."

"And we lost contact," she said.

"We'd write each other, but our friendship was strained by the

distance and the memory of that night," His voice cracked, and he

buried his face in his hands. "I didn't really know until it was too

late that the night we spent together was no accident...That we

actually felt the same way about each other and were to damn scared or

stupid or stubborn to admit to it."

"But you...he and I are friends. The feelings don't -"

Older Julian let out a humorless laugh. "So you think. So you

convinced yourself that you don't feel anything for him beyond guiding

him. You are a 'proper Joined.'" He spit out the term, his voice full

of acid. "Shutting out every thing inside yourself outside your duties

to guide those in the universe who haven't inherited someone else's

thoughts...You won't admit it to yourself - not right now, but later,

when you invite him over to your quarters for an 'innocent' good-bye,

and wake up the next morning to find yourself -"

"I don't have to listen to this," Jadzia barked, leaping out of

the chair. "You're lying to save yourself."

Older Julian pleaded, in a voice that seemed to be torn from him.

"Jadzia, I've never lied to you, and it's too damn late to start now.

If I were lying, I sure as hell wouldn't be embarrassing you with the

details of something you refuse to acknowledge. There are better ways

to get what I want - namely, knocking you out and erasing your memory.

It's not terribly hard to make both Host and symbiont forget a few

days' worth of memories. I swear, in front of every God, Goddess, and

*Prophet* in this universe, that I'm telling the truth."

Every rational fiber of Jadzia was telling her to ignore this

fool and call Security, but her intuition told her to stay put because

he was telling the hard truth.

For the first time in a long time, she trusted her hunches.

"Suppose you are telling the truth. What happened?"

Older Julian said, in a voice so quiet she had to strain to hear

it, "I killed you."

"What?"

Older Julian looked at her for the first time since she walked in

the Infirmary. Jadzia could see the tears streaking down the wrinkled

cheeks, and flooding his chocolate-brown eyes.

"Five years later, we met on a Starbase. It was just like old

times and more." His voice was bitter. "Gods above, I was more than

willing to trade every rank pip I had for more time with you, but you

had to leave. I understood, and we kept in much better contact. Two

months later, I was on the *Nagasaki.* You were coming by shuttlecraft

to visit. There was a microscopic defect in the engine, and the shuttle

engine overloaded. You were badly injured. It was up to me to save

you..."

"And you didn't?"

"I used an experimental procedure. If it worked, it would have

saved both parts of you. However, it didn't work. You slipped away from

me..." Jadzia got him a cloth to dry off his face, which he gratefully

accepted. "If I had been a little cautious, I would have probably been

able to save Dax, but I took the risky option and I lost. Even though

Sisko and the other people who knew both of us tried to assure me that

I wasn't at fault, I never could shake the feeling that they blamed me.

Hell, I still blame myself." Older Julian surveyed his old home, the

battered infirmary. His voice was distant, not speaking to her, but to

himself, and to the past. "I started to turn away from everyone and

everything pertaining to my life here." He gestured to the Infirmary.

"I transferred to a research base, and dedicated myself to my career.

I'd already destroyed everything else in my life except that. I

dedicated my life not to saving lives, but to pouring over stacks of

someone else's findings. I had my rank and illustrious record, but," He

stared at his younger counterpart on the biobed. "Until I met up with

what I used to be, I never realized that I died, too."

Older Julian got out of his chair and grabbed two forehead

patches. "These are delta-wave inducers, and over there is a free

biobed. Now, Jadzia, I'll put my fate in your hands. You can choose to

have me erase your memory of this conversation and erase the past few

days from Julian's memory, or you can choose to have the two of you

keep your memories. If you decide to forget this, it might not happen

exactly the way I described to you, and if you let him keep his memory,

there's no guarantee that he'll keep history from repeating itself. The

choice is yours. Either way, I'll understand..."

Jadzia stared at the two patches, then up at the older Julian who

was expecting an answer. He had to be lying, lying to keep himself from

ruining his life. After all, she could never feel anything other than a

teacher's detached love for his younger self...And even if she did,

wasn't part of being Joined the discipline not to get attached to any

one person, especially if that person would die before they did? Even

her hell-raising predecessor, Curzon, knew better than to act on

sentiment. He never got too attached to anyone.

Well, he did learn friendship...a long time ago when a certain aide

managed to turn the tables and teach the old man a few lessons in how

to stand by a person, and stay by them.

But love was a different, deeper matter. Could this future image of

her friend and newest life-student be lying to her. Love was nothing.

It was casual affairs based on hormones, or a commitment like a

business arrangement. All of the marriages in her lives had been for

the purpose of producing a better generation of Candidates. Even those

were never based on the foolhardy passions that people like Julian

lived for...

Or did this human teach her another lesson?

She glanced at the young men on the biobeds. Benjamin and Julian.

Past and present. Future was the two patches in her hand.

*The future was never meant to be carved in stone*...His words

made sense. Wasn't she going to be doing just that by allowing the

memory erasure? Just condemning him to walk that dismal path? But what

about the proper order of things? No easy answers, but one easy

solution.

She handed the patches back to Older Julian. "Let him remember. I

don't think he'll cause too much trouble by remembering you. He'll

probably keep his mouth shut about it."

He put the patches back into the cabinet. Jadzia tapped her

badge. "Dax to Sisko. We're all ready. We'll meet you at Runabout pad

C."

"Acknowledged."

Jadzia and Older Julian met Ben at the pad, bringing the antigrav

stretchers containing the unconscious young men.

"The forward phaser has been replaced with the beam," said

O'Brien, wiping his grimy hands on a rag. "It's working, I've already

run all the diagnostics."

"What about the stasis units?" Older Julian asked.

"I rigged four up in the back."

"Thank you, Chief," Ben said. He turned to Older Julian. "You

ready, doctor?"

"As ready as I get," he replied, smiling. "So are our younger

counterparts. Let's load them on as soon as I inspect the stasis

units."

Miles waved Older Julian ahead.

The stasis units were all rigged up to spec, and

radiation-proofed. Perfect. The younger versions of Commander Sisko and

himself were already sleeping in two of them. Older Julian was

concentrating on those long-ago courses in Starfleet Engineering,

courses he had kept himself somewhat up-to-date on. There was something

to be said for knowing simple, yet advanced techniques.

He looked at his younger self, unconscious. Would this be what he

wanted? The shield around the cockpit would prevent him from being

split, but what Jadzia said about radiation...

He smiled. What the hell was he thinking? He *was* that young man

in the stasis chamber. Of course, he'd want this. A chance to set

things right. Wasn't that why he came to this godforsaken place?

*I won't argue with me.* Older Julian thought.

Commander Sisko walked into the room. "You ready?"

"Ready as I'll ever be," he said. "Just lie down. I'll follow."

Sisko nodded and lay down in one of the stasis units, leaving the

last one empty. Older Julian shot a strange smile to his former

Commander. "Thank you," Older Julian said.

"For what?" asked Ben.

"For too many things," replied Older Julian before pressing the

hypospray of sedative to Ben's neck.

Ben was out like a light in seconds. Older Julian ran one more

check. Okay, the stasis pods for both Bens were functioning and

unshielded from the disturbance, as was the chamber where his younger

counterpart was resting. Just had to make the modification to the last

one...He took the chip out of his pocket. This should be a shielding

device, to keep the last pod's occupant protected from the disturbance.

Older Julian crossed his fingers until he saw the lights and readings

telling him that his jury-rig was successful.

Jadzia had already got the launch sequence out of the way. Older

Julian smiled as he felt the vibrations beneath the deckplates that

told him that the ship was moving.

Jadzia came into the room. "Final check of the stasis..." Her

voice caught in her throat as she saw Older Julian still very much

awake.

He wasted no time and put his plan into action. He bolted up to

her and discharged a healthy dose of sedative into her arm. He caught

her as she collapsed.

"Sorry, dearheart," he said. "I'm not about to let you die on me

again."

He put her in the last pod and made a final check on all of them.

If she was right, all he had to do was engage the beam and disengage

the shield around the cockpit.

* * * *

Older Julian shuttered as he entered the Wormhole. All the colors

and lights. The Bajorans were right - this was a place befitting the

Gods.

The disturbance blocked the tunnel like a net. He remembered the

staff meeting. All he had to do was disengage the shielding and fly

into it.

He overrode the shield and took her in slowly.

The computer sounded a chime. "Radiation levels beyond safe

levels. Lethal exposure in ten minutes."

He hadn't reached the disturbance yet. He raised the speed to

half impulse.

"Radiation levels beyond safe levels. Lethal exposure in eight

minutes."

Older Julian ignored the signal. This was how he planned to meet

his makers, anyhow - a meaningful sacrifice for people he cared about.

Jadzia would die if he hadn't put her in stasis. Older Julian laughed.

Maybe he was a paradox. Maybe his younger self wouldn't take this path.

Even if history didn't change, Older Julian still felt strangely

peaceful - as peaceful as he did that morning after "his" timeline's

Jadzia wished him good-bye.

"Five minutes."

Older Julian looked up. "Computer, how many minutes until I enter

the rift?"

"Four minutes."

One minute to deploy the beam and set the runabout to autopilot

for home. Perfect. His reaction time would be slowed by the vertigo

that went with severe radiation poisoning.

He was beginning to experience the symptoms. Weakness, increased

heartrate, and the aforementioned dizziness.

He sat back and mentally reviewed his life, lingering over

memories of the station, of the friends he met and the enemies he made.

It hadn't been a bad life until he ran away. Ah, well, that was in the

past, and hopefully not the future.

The runabout bucked. The readouts indicated that he was in the

rift. He wasted no time. He started to enter the sequence to deploy the

beam.

"Radiation Alert," droned the computer. "Lethal exposure in

forty-five seconds."

Older Julian noticed that his symptoms were getting worse. Too

late to back out. There. The beam was going.

The rift was beginning to seal. He staggered back to the stasis

units. Younger Ben was already fading from existence, returning to the

Time he came from. Ben was sleeping peacefully. Jadzia still had a very

astonished look on her face.

"Radiation Alert! Lethal exposure in -"

"Shut up, Computer," Older Julian sputtered. He could feel

something else besides the poisoning. Almost like a pull. He looked

down at his shaking fingers. He gasped to find that he could see

straight through them! Not much time left. He staggered to the console

and punched in the sequence to cut the beam and return home in forty

seconds, after the last of the rift would be sealed.

That was his last act. He slumped to the deck, feeling himself

grow weak. He would die. No question about that. He would phase back to

his office dead, or he would just phase out of existence. Older Julian

didn't care which. He closed his eyes and waited...

Seconds after his last breath rattled in his throat, the rift

sealed, and he winked out of this timeline. The unmanned runabout

headed for home.

* * * *

"Major, come here!" Miles shouted. "The runabout's coming back!"

"Scan for lifesigns. Is Dax in there?" Asked Kira anxiously.

Miles looked at his terminal, frowned, then performed the scan

again. He looked up at Nerys sadly. "No. No lifesigns in the cockpit."

Kira felt her insides freeze. The worst had happened. Another

friend gone. "Chief," she whispered. "Secure a tractor beam on the *Rio

Grande* and bring her in."

"Yes, Major."

They rushed down to the runabout and opened the hatch. Kira

closed her eyes before she went in. She would have to face the fact

that her friend was gone, sacrificing herself to seal the rift and

restore the timeline to normal.

Jadzia was such a good person. Why did she have to die? Why did

all good people seem to die too soon? Why...

"What the hell?" She heard Miles say. "There's no one here."

She opened her eyes and looked around the cockpit. Miles was

right. No body. Nothing.

"Was the radiation at fatal levels?"

Miles nodded. "The residual effects are still here. It's been

neutralized for the most part, but it would have killed someone a

minute ago." He punched up the computer logs. "According to this, the

rift was sealed."

Immediately, the two of them rushed over to the stasis pods.

Miles whipped out his tricorder. "What the..." Miles began. He looked

up at Kira. "Three of these are occupied. All of them are alive. One of

them's been rigged with an ion shield."

Kira shook her head and opened the pod Miles had pointed out. The

hatch lifted, and she staggered back in shock.

"By the Prophets!" she breathed. "She's alive!"

Jadzia started to come out of it. She looked up at Kira, shocked.

"What did he do?" She shook her head. "Joined Gods! He must have!"

"Who?"

Jadzia shook her head. "Open the other stasis pods!"

Kira and Miles opened the pods. Ben and Julian were fine, and the

time-displaced counterparts had vanished.

"The three of you seem to be all right."

"Three? Julian?"

"He's okay," said Kira. "What happened? You were the one we

thought had died."

Jadzia pinched the bridge of her nose. "Julian's counterpart

knocked me out. He must have piloted the craft in." Miles handed her

the tricorder. As she studied the readouts, Jadzia shook her head. "He

would have been dead by the time the rift sealed..."

The men were coming to. Ben looked up. "Major, did it work?"

"It worked."

Julian shook his head. It felt three meters thick. His dark eyes

widened in shock as he realized that he could still remember everything

that happened with his older counterpart with surprising clarity.

Something hadn't gone right with the memory purge, or maybe... Maybe it

had gone right.

Julian decided to play dumb. "What happened? How'd I get here?"

"Don't ask," said Jadzia. "It's better that way."

Julian had secretly withdrawn his application to the *Thompson.*

No one but him must know that the memory purge failed. He sat back,

trying to find a reason why he still had his memories.

The doorchime sounded. "Come in."

The door slid open. Jadzia entered the room, the door sealing

behind her. "Julian, I probably have the answer you've been looking

for."

Julian looked up. "Since when did Joined Trills have telepathic

abilities? And I don't have any questions, thank you."

"Please, Julian. I know that your older counterpart let you keep

your memory of his visit. I think it's tied into the reason why he...or

you...or whoever decided to sacrifice himself."

Julian turned around. "How...how did you know I didn't forget?"

She looked down at the floor, then back up at him. "Because I

agreed with your older self to keep it that way."

"You? You decided for me?"

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Sorry? Why should you be?" Julian said. "On the contrary, I

should thank you."

"Why?"

"You've given me a very precious glimpse into what I could be if

I'm not careful," he said. "But, aren't you worried about the

timeline?"

"Frankly, Julian, you're not that big of a deal to the universe.

That's why I agreed with him."

"For once, I'm glad I'm small potatoes," Julian said with a

laugh. "Hopefully, you won't mind if I stayed here with those

memories?"

"What? You aren't going to the *Thompson?*"

"Probably wouldn't have, anyway. I'm beginning to get used to

here," his voice quieted. "And to everyone that's here with me."

Jadzia was stunned. So history wouldn't repeat itself...at least

one aspect of history wouldn't.

Well, then, the future never was meant to be carved in stone...

30