An Apple A Day
by Nostalgia

Dinner, on a summer evening on Deep Space Nine with your former lover, his current lover and their child. One of the overlooked pleasures in life, I've always felt. Those amusing little moments when no one knows quite what to say or where to look, pretending to give a damn about other people's children. Very stimulating on an intellectual level.

This is where I am right now, at least in memory. It's a simple form of time travel, if not a very practical one. A few neurons correctly fired and I am a child again, or a revolutionary. But those things are for another tale, and I should stick to a single evening for now.

And afterwards, when the food is eaten and the infant and its mother are asleep, I sit for a while and talk to my old friend, my former love. The preamble is rather dull, so I feel I can leave it out of my account. It wouldn't do to bore you to death so early on.

So I'll begin with the moment that begins the most interesting part of our conversation, the moment when I say:

"And now of course we share the same line of work."

And he blinks innocent brown eyes, and says, "You've taken up medicine, Garak? Well, I suppose there is a certain amount of stitching involved."

"Oh, no need to be coy with me, Julian. I know all about your little adventure on Selonart. A masterpiece of genetic engineering, I'm told."

"Told by whom?"

"Oh, you and I both know that I can't reveal my sources. That's one of the cardinal rules of our profession. A sort of doctor-patient confidentiality. An eminently transferable skill, as I'm sure you've discovered."

There is a perfect, beautiful moment where his facade crumbles and a resigned glaze appears in his eyes. But he's already very good at his new line of employment, part-time though it may be. And so the innocence returns, he contrives to look as naive as he did when we first met.

"I failed on Selonart. A simple mutation of malaria and I couldn't find a cure."

"As I recall the disease had been thought extinct for over two centuries. No one could have expected it to reappear. And the mutation was very subtle, a vicious little thing."

When he doesn't answer me I add, "I do wonder where you managed to find a sample of the original virus though. I suppose your new employers had hoarded some away on the off chance it may prove itself useful at some point. Which is what the Obsidian Order would do, certainly. Interesting that so many different organisations employ the same tactics, don't you think?"

He leans back into the couch and says, "Is there anything you don't know, Garak?"

"The rules of cricket continue to confound me. And I really can't fathom why any culture would devise a game simply to allow its former colonies to continually defeat it in a sporting event."

"I didn't do it for myself. Selonart was a danger to the Federation, a..."

"What a pleasant child you and Dax have managed to produce. Another fine work of genetics. But not your own brush-strokes, I believe."

"Section 31 are remarkably resourceful."

I smile my agreement. I've always had a certain admiration for their work. A little amateurish at times, but on occasion awe-inspiring. And their operatives hold up remarkably well under torture. They all break eventually, of course, as everyone does. But very impressive nonetheless.

I wonder briefly if our paths will cross in an unofficial official capacity at some point. I wouldn't like to have to kill Julian myself. But sending an associate would be rather impolite.

"I trust you haven't told anyone," I say.

And here he reveals his first, rather careless, mistake. "Miles."

"Well, I certainly hope he's sensible enough not to get himself into any trouble. Or indeed drunk. I hate to think of young Benjamin growing up without a father because dear Chief O'Brien drank a little too much and spoke to the wrong people."

"Miles knows how serious this is. He's not stupid enough to mention it to anyone else."

"Well, I certainly hope you're right. Does Ezri know?"

He smiles, but his eyes are sad, "She thinks I know some wonderful doctors."

"Yes, experts on genetic compatibility. A very exciting field of science. And so much less painful than the truth."

"Which is?"

"The Federation wouldn't like to endorse genetic enhancement. And while they might turn a blind eye when it seems convenient, they would hate for, forgive me, doctored genes to contaminate the human bloodline. I'm amazed they didn't sterilise you the moment they found out what your parents had done to your DNA."

And we stare at each other for a few moments, neither prepared to blink first. I have the advantage of experience, and he looks away briefly.

"It's getting late," he tells me, "You should probably be getting back to the guest quarters."

"Oh, almost certainly. And how kind of you to show such concern for my well-being. Sleep does wonders for the skin."

And there my story ends. There's more to tell, of course. But isn't there always?


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