- Chapter 20 -
When he entered the room, he saw him.
He sat cowering on the floor, next to one of the cots, both hands folded over his head and his face hidden beneath them. His black-gray hair was rumpled and unkempt. As if he were oblivious to the two visitors to the holding area, he didn't move.
Something deep with him urged him to draw back at the older man's sight. To turn his back at this place, walk back out of the room and leave his past as it was. To go back to what was left of his life and try to make a new start. But still he knew he couldn't. He knew that he wouldn't be able to go on if he didn't face him one last time. He needed to put an end to it if he ever wanted to start to heal.
"Take your time, Dr. Bashir. If there's anything you need, you know where to find me." Odo nodded with a last checking look at the holding cell before he turned on his heels and headed for the front part of the security office.
Julian nodded absently. His gaze still lingered on the holding cell in front of him. When he took a step closer, the figure in it suddenly stirred, slowly lifting his head. When their gaze's met, the eyes of the man in the cell suddenly widened.
It was the same red-trimmed uniform, the same deep brown eyes, the same distinctive features, the same gray hair... but there wasn't much left of the former legendary Captain Robert Evans. It was hard not to notice that something within the man had broken. He awkwardly tried to stumble to his feet, his intense yet somewhat unfocused stare making Julian start. His eyes still wide with disbelief – and grief, Julian realized -, he stumbled forward until his face was only inches from the forcefield.
When Bashir offered no reply but kept standing wordlessly and stone-faced in the distance, Evans' face darkened and he backed away. He staggered back and let himself drop heavily down onto the cot of his cell, rubbing over his tired eyes. "So that's why I'm still here..." he said in a sad whisper.
"You'll have to face a court martial for your actions. The formal hearing will be held tomorrow morning," Julian said, surprised at how devoid of emotion his voice sounded. He didn't offer any further comment.
Reluctantly Evans lifted his gaze, a sad and rueful smile on his lips. With his hunched shoulders, there was nothing left of his former self-confidence and authority. He looked like a defeated man. A man who had lost everything. "You'll never understand it, Jules, will you? Why everything had to come as it did. Why we have to face each other like this now? What I've dreaded most in my life has come true. I've lost you a second time."
Despite his earlier resolution not to become emotional, not to let Evans' words get to him, Julian felt the words tumble out of his mouth before he could stop them. "What makes you think you could have ever lost me...?"
The older man drew himself up and came closer to the forcefield, the sad smile still on his lips. "I'm your father, Jules. And you're my son," he said – and it almost sounded like a plea.
"You know that that is not true. I may very well be your son, but you've never been my father... not after what you've done to me. Not after how much you have made me suffer..." He wanted to say so much more, but bit the words back before he could have regretted them.
Evans nodded. "Maybe that's right. Maybe I did some things I shouldn't. Maybe I made some mistakes in the past. But we won't be able to change the past now, will we? What's done is done. Our paths have diverged a long time ago, each of us following the path that had been destined for us. The path that has finally brought us together again." Evans didn't take his eyes off Julian.
"You've made your decision a long time ago. You should have thought about the consequences then." Julian's face drew into a faint grimace in spite of himself. When he thought back to the younger Jules, how he had yearned so much for his parents' love and affection, and how he had never received them, his chest tightened painfully. But still, those had been the feelings of young Jules. The only emotion he was now able to bring up for the broken man in front of him was pity. Not love, not affection, nor any other feeling that had never been reciprocated. It was as if everything little Jules had ever felt for his parents had died along with him on that fateful evening.
The older captain kept silent for a moment. Then he nodded. "Then I'm glad that they were able to offer you what I couldn't. You had a happy childhood with them, Jules. What more could a child wish for?"
Julian involuntarily stepped closer, the blood suddenly rushing to his face. "Don't try to judge my life. You have no idea. You don't know of the problems I had. You never had to go through what I did. You never had to learn that you are different than the others. You never had hide what you really are because you would have lost everything if you didn't. You have no idea what my life has been like after what you did to me so stop talking as if you knew everything!"
Evans met his glare squarely. "Then tell me. He have another chance, Jules..."
Bashir incredulously stared at Evans, silent tears forcing their way up into his eyes despite his effort to pull himself together. His voice was barely more than a whisper when he finally shook his head. "No, Dad, I can't and I won't forgive you what you've done. What you tried again to do."
Another long second, he held the other man's gaze. Then he turned without another word and headed for the exit.
"Jules! You can't just ignore what happened! If you leave now, you'll regret it. The memories are there. You can't push them away!"
Julian eventually came to a halt, turning. "Don't worry, Dad, I won't. Everything that happened, all those memories will forever stay a part of me... After all this time, they still hurt. But it's nothing compared to how I felt back then."
Not waiting for Evans' reply, he turned his back on the scenery and headed for the exit, shutting out Evans' desperate calls for him to stay. Without even being aware of it, he bit the constable curtly goodbye and hurriedly exited the round door of the security office. No sooner had the door closed behind him, than he came to a halt, leaning heavily back against the bulkhead in his back. He felt as if all his scantily gathered energy was seeping away in an instant, making his legs feel like rubber. His heart was still pounding heavily in his chest when he closed his eyes and tried to wipe the rest of the barely suppressed tears out of the corner of his eyes. It had taken him so much self-control to talk one last time to Evans. But at least he'd brought it to an end. He still wasn't able to sort through the chaos inside him but as he had told Evans, he would live with the pain. And even the pain would fade some day until the only thing that remained of the tragic events in the past would be a sad memory of his childhood.
With another deep breath, he slowly opened his eyes and watched the bustle on the promenade. The passersby and shop owners, the Starfleet officers hurrying by and the visitors sauntering along the long row of shops – no one seemed to take much notice of him and Julian was glad for it. Life on the station was going on. And so would his.
With a quick, wistful look over to the infirmary, he wondered if Sisko would be angry with him if he went back to his work even though Counselor Telnorri had suggested he take off another two weeks before he came slowly back to duty. At least he would be able to keep his mind busy, and his thoughts distracted. Though it were not exactly his thoughts that were the real problem, or his mind that needed to get distracted. It was the emptiness in his soul, the feeling of a great loss. Like if some part of his self had been taken away, and there was nothing that could fill the gaping hole that was left behind. He had redeemed his childhood, his own truth, but had lost in only a few days more than in all the months of fighting. No, he was no longer afraid of the night. He no longer needed to run away from himself and he would no longer be haunted by nightmares about a father who was trying to kill his own son. What remained was only a bitter feeling of sadness and loneliness.
"What about some darts?"
Bashir startled at the sudden nearness of the voice. He hadn't noticed Chief O'Brien come up to him.
Slowly Julian shook his head, not without some pang of guilt about turning down yet another of the chief's offers. "I'm sorry, Miles, but I don't think I'm in the mood for it. I'd rather... be alone now," he said without any trace of enthusiasm.
O'Brien didn't seem very impressed by the young man's dismissal. With a smirk on his face, he gently took hold of Julian's shoulders to steer the young man toward the bustle in Quark's, completely ignoring Bashir's attempts of resistance. "I think, we already had that discussion. Come on, even Worf volunteered to join us!"
Julian shot him an unbelieving look. "You managed to talk Worf into playing darts?"
"Well, in fact, it was his wife..." the chief conceded with a wink as he pulled Julian along.
"Jadzia's here as well?"
O'Brien arched one meaningful brow. Then he laughed: "Look Julian, just... call it some small, spontaneous get-together ..."
Julian couldn't help a smile. "I take it that Major Kira also just happened to stop by...?"
It was the first genuine smile in weeks. Even if it was still hesitant, it was at least a beginning. They'd be able to build upon it.
"You'll be surprised who else also just happened to stop by!" O'Brien chuckled when they entered the bustling of the Ferengi bar.
He couldn't tell how glad he was to have his officer and crewman back. Even though he knew that the wound inside him would still take some time to heal, it was at least a beginning. He even seemed relaxed, not so dark and brooding like during the last couple of days. When he was told by O'Brien to take the right distance toward the dart board and Worf launched yet another debate about fairness and honor in battle, he almost seemed to be back to his old self.
He was relieved that things had turned out well in the end, even though there were still some things that were far from being over. Whose end was still uncertain.
Something about the whole story had made him realize how important it was to act before it was too late. And he would act. He felt it clearer than ever before. He would take action... even if he had to lose in order to win at length.
"Your gloomy look doesn't exactly fit into the happy atmosphere here, Benjamin. Even Worf is enjoying himself," the young Trill commented with a raised brow, placing her cup of synthehol on the table before she settled down next to him.
"And, has your mind found its way back to Quark's?"
He looked at her. A smile crept upon his lips. "I was just thinking."
"And about what?"
He scooped up his own glass and took a short sip. Then he set it back down on the table and looked over to where Bashir, O'Brien and Worf were still in the middle of their heated discussion. It was almost like back in the old days.
His gaze still lingering on his arguing crewmen, he shook his head. "It's... nothing important."
- Epilog -
Bright sunlight filtered in through the white curtains and filled the room with a pleasant warmth. A faint breeze came through the open window, carrying with it the sweet scent of a sunny summer morning.
She was sitting on a chair next to him, her sleeping face bedded on her folded arms on the white cover of his bed. He didn't know how long she had been here, but watching her sleep, he knew that she must have been here because of him. Still groggy and tired, he tried to get his hand free from under the bed cover.
When she suddenly stirred and turned her sleepy face to look at him, he held his breath. Her long, black hair was welling to both sides over her shoulders when she slowly drew herself up. Stifling a yawn, she gave him a loving smile.
Her voice was soft and pleasant. He released the breath he was holding and snuggled again up to the soft pillow.
"Have I been asleep?" he asked dreamily, rubbing at his tired eyes.
"Yes, darling. You've been asleep for quite some time. We were worried about you."
He looked about. He couldn't remember coming to this place. She must have noticed his questioning gaze when she said: "You fell from the swing, Jules. I told you not to overdo it but you just wouldn't listen. And there you lay. Right when we were going to have some coffee and cake. You gave us quite a fright."
It felt good to see her laugh. He couldn't remember the swing...
"We wanted to have some cake?"
She softly stroke his forehead. "Yes, darling. Today's your birthday. We were just about to try your birthday cake."
His face lit up. "Chocolate cake... we wanted to eat chocolate cake...?"
"Yes, chocolate cake. And when we're back home, you'll get an extra big piece of it."
He couldn't remember the swing. Nor the cake. But something in her face told him that it must have been as she said. And when he kept thinking about it, he thought he could even remember it. Chocolate cake. Yes... and... she had called his name. He could remember that. He could remember how she had called his name after he'd fallen.
She gathered him up in her arms and hugged him softly. "I love you, Jules."
"I love you too, Mum."
=/\= The End. =/\=
To be continued in... "In the Pale Moonlight"
2012 by Mijra
Notes from the author:
Wow... here it is. Finally. The whole story. A story that has kept me company for more than eight years now. It's hard to imagine that you can work on something for such a long time, even though I have to admit that I've really "worked" on the story for the last two years.
After I wrote and published the original in 2004, I've always wanted to do an English translation because I love this story and I so wanted to share it with other people. It's taken me a long time to put my plan into action, but finally I did by posting the first chapters in April 2011. At first, the story started as a pure translation from the original. But as the story grew, I realized that I had so much more to tell. It had been eight years after all. So I started to add some new things. I rewrote scenes or added whole new paragraphs. All in all, both versions are similar in their content though the new version is much longer and more detailed than the original one – I guess you could say it's the grown-up version of the original.
Basically, it's more than just a story about Julian uncovering a secret about his childhood and suffering from the consequences. It's a story about people. About hopes and dreams – and human failure. It's about what happens when your life suddenly starts to go into the wrong direction. Without forewarn. Without you being able to do anything against it. And how easily your life can be turned upside down when you thought that everything went just as you planned it.
I wanted to make the story fit into the canon. Like something that would theoretically be possible within the original setting. If you've made it this far and have some time to spare, just go back and try to watch "Dr. Bashir, I presume" again. You'll realize that what's happened in this story could be possible. As well as it could fit into the context of the next episode "In the pale moonlight" that takes place right after the events in this story.
And yes, the O'Briens do have a cat:) I've been asked the question a lot during the last months. In fact, Chester originally belonged to Liam Bilby and was adopted by Miles O'Brien after Bilby's life had taken a tragic end in the episode "Honor Among Thieves" (Season 6). Speaking of a tragic end, if this story had an end credit song, then for part I it would have been without doubt the Japanese singer Chihiro Onitsuka's song "Gekkou" (Moonlight). It's a very sad song with lyrics that fit quite well into the context of the story. If you're interested, just google it – but try to avoid any life version of the song because it... well... doesn't sound quite as good as the studio recorded version.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this story to my grandpa H. who was the first to show me that one and the same person can leave completely different impressions on different people – and my grandpa R. who showed me that relationships we chose can be at least as firm and lasting as those we are born into.
Thank you all for your patience and kind support!
I'd be more than happy if you keep reading my stories!