This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
Kira Nerys was having a bad day. And given her temperament—indeed, the normal temperament of the average Bajoran woman—this boded ill for anyone who had the singular misfortune to get in her way, and even worse for anyone who gave her the slightest degree of trouble.
To begin with, she’d woken up sprawled across her desk, having fallen asleep over some idiotic bureaucratic paperwork that had to be turned in that morning. To make matters worse, it was about two hours later than when she normally awoke, and about five minutes past the start of Sisko’s morning staff meeting. Gritting her teeth, Kira had abstained from her usual morning rituals and rushed into her commanding officer’s meeting looking rumpled, wrinkled and rattled.
Sisko had simply stared at her with that damned irritating gaze he gave to anyone who had failed to meet his expectations. “Nice to see you could join us, Major,” he said quietly, then continued on with whatever he’d been discussing with Dax. Feeling a deep crimson blush spreading across her face, Kira hurriedly sat down in the only chair available—beside Dr. Bashir, who looked disgustingly bright-eyed and eager for action. The physician was a source of mild amusement and irritation on the best of days, but on this particular morning, he grated on Kira’s raw nerves every time he spoke up.
After the meeting, Kira finished up the paperwork and routed it to Sisko, then got a priority call from Docking Bay Seven. Kira hurried down there to find O’Brien and his tech crew struggling to open a balky airlock that he’d sworn two days ago would never again give them any more trouble. The group of Anguilian traders stuck between the station and their ship watched with amusement as Kira fired off a tongue-lashing that drove the beleaguered chief back against the wall and sent his assistants scurrying to finish the job.
When the airlock had been repaired and the Anguilians freed, Kira headed to the nearest replicator and ordered a cup of tea; what she received was a thick black goop that resembled sewage more than anything. This resulted in another tirade at O’Brien, who to his credit simply stood there and took the rebuke in stride...even if his fingers did occasionally twitch around his paradiam spanner.
On her way back to Ops, a group of disgruntled Bajoran workers surrounded Kira and demanded she do something about getting them some leave. She folded her arms over her chest and listened to their complaints, then suggested that if they were that unhappy, she would be pleased to make sure that they had plenty of time off...say, permanently. The group quickly scattered, and with a sigh she decided to skip the trip to Ops. The way the day was going, she needed a quick visit to the Promenade.
Kira purchased a large Bajoran slurrpae from a vendor and drank it down with great gusto. Feeling better almost immediately, she called for a turbolift and was about to let the doors close when a voice yelled, “WAIT!” A few seconds later Bashir slipped through the doors and smiled gratefully at her. “Thank you so much, Major,” he gasped. “I was beginning to think I’d never get up to Ops at this rate.”
“Problem?” Kira asked politely, not really interested in the reply. Her mind was running through her mental checklist to figure out what needed doing next.
“Apparently, the turbolifts have been malfunctioning,” he answered. “People have been waiting forever for one to come along—I spent about ten minutes in front of a door down the corridor before I decided to try elsewhere.”
“Something else for O’Brien to look into,” Kira sighed, her mind already deciding on which of two crises to deal with when she got back to her station...
And suddenly, the turbolift stopped dead.
“No,” Kira muttered, shaking her head in despair. “No, no, no, no....”
“Well,” Bashir said confidentially, “I’m sure this won’t take too terribly long.”
Kira glanced over at the Doctor. “And what makes you say that?”
Smiling smugly in reply, he tapped his communicator. “Bashir to Dax.”
“Julian?” came the eternally serene voice of Jadzia Dax. “What can I do for you?”
“Jadzia, the Major and I are in a stalled turbolift,” he said, smiling at Kira as if to say behold my latest burst of brilliance and be awed. “Could you perhaps lock onto our signal and use the transporter to get us out?”
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. “Jadzia?” Bashir called.
“Uhhh...Julian, there’s a slight problem...” Dax had an uncharacteristic note of uneasiness in her voice. “You see...well, the transporter isn’t working right now.”
“WHAT?” two voices cried out in unison.
“Sisko here,” came a new voice. “O’Brien was replacing several Cardassian components with Starfleet parts when he got called away...something about a balky airlock. Then someone complained about a malfunctioning replicator, and demanded that it be fixed immediately.” Kira glared at the ceiling, sensing the well-masked amusement in Sisko’s voice. “Can you pop the emergency access panel and climb out of there?” he suggested.
Bashir looked up, then at Kira. “It’s worth a try,” he shrugged. He cupped his hands and bent over, offering Kira a foothold. “Do be careful,” he cautioned.
“I didn’t know you cared, Doc,” Kira said dryly.
“I meant my hands,” he snapped as she slipped her foot into his hands and clambered up to his shoulders. “These are my livelihood, you know.”
I didn’t think it was your brains, Kira thought to herself as she reached the ceiling and grasped the access handle. Several tugs brought no success. “It’s jammed,” she reported.
“Try hitting it a few times,” Sisko suggested.
“And do hurry,” Bashir complained from below. “This is rather uncomfortable, you know.”
Kira ignored him and pounded the area around the hatch. “I think it’s working,” she announced happily. “Let me give the handle a go...” She gave it a sharp tug, and with a loud snap the panel opened...dumping a huge mass of bones and leather on Kira, who squealed in surprise and lurched backwards. This unfortunately resulted in throwing Bashir off-balance, and a second later three bodies tumbled to the floor.
“Ouch,” Bashir declared, squirming out from under Kira and the body.
“Major?” Sisko’s voice called out. “Are you all right?”
“Oh, I’m just fine,” she snarled as she scrambled free. “We just had a third drop in for tea, that’s all.” She found that she still had the hatch handle gripped in her hand and, looking up, saw that the hatch had snapped shut again. “Oh, great,” she sighed. “That’s just great.”
Bashir meanwhile was examining the body. “Based on bone structure and clothing, I’d say it was a Cardassian. Murdered some time ago, from the look of it.”
“What makes you say that?” Kira asked. In reply, Bashir rolled the body over, revealing the hilt of a long steel blade that was stuck in the leather clothing. The carvings on the handle were distinctly Bajoran in style. “Oh.”
“Convenient hiding place,” Bashir commented cheerfully, looking up at the sealed access hatch. “Ahh. Seems that the hatch is no longer an option, Commander.”
“All right,” Sisko’s voice replied. “I’ll call O’Brien and relay your predicament to him—I’m sure he’ll drop everything to get you out of there.”
“Ho, ho, ho,” Kira grumbled under her breath.
“Very well, Commander. Bashir out.” He turned to Kira and smiled. “Well, here we are!”
She smiled thinly. “Yes—isn’t that nice?”
* * * * * * *
“What the hell is taking him so long?” Kira snapped, staring up at the ceiling. It beat staring at the dead Cardassian or at Bashir.
Bashir was reading something intently on his PADD, and so didn’t reply immediately. Eventually he looked up at her and smiled. “I’m sure the chief will get to us as soon as he can. But as it isn’t a life-or-death situation, I’m afraid we must be patient and wait this out.” He ignored the ice-cold stare Kira shot his way and returned his attention to the PADD.
Kira squirmed slightly, regretting that slurrpae she’d had earlier. To take her mind off her discomfort, she cleared her throat. “What’s that you’re reading, Doc?” she asked.
“Hmmm?” He looked up again. “Oh, nothing. Just a paper Dr. Crusher sent me.” He smiled slightly. “She thought I might find it interesting.”
“What’s it about?”
Bashir grew a bit evasive. “Just...medical information, that’s all.”
“About?” Kira prompted again, smelling blood.
“It’s nothing you’d be interested in, really,” he assured her weakly.
“Oh, you might be surprised at what I’d be interested in,” she replied, snatching the PADD out of his hand before he could react. She quickly scanned the current page, and felt a vicious smile growing on her lips. “Trill sexuality? Oh, yes, Doctor, that might come in very handy one of these days.” In your dreams, she added silently.
Reddening, Bashir glared up at the turbolift ceiling. “What the hell is taking O’Brien so long?” he demanded.
* * * * * * *
Kira was beginning to worry. An hour had passed without any change in the situation; Sisko assured them that O’Brien was working on it, but the silence coming from the shaft made her wonder just how seriously the chief was taking this task. In addition, that slurrpae was making her more uncomfortable with every passing minute. And then there was the Cardassian, who was still lying patiently on the floor and taking the entire situation in stride.
Bashir wasn’t helping matters any. To cover his own increasing anxiety about their predicament, he’d chosen to try and make conversation. Unfortunately, Kira wasn’t in a mood to listen. “So when they asked me where I’d like to go, I requested someplace where I could just jump in with both feet and get to work,” he was prattling. “None of this ‘watch the other doctors and learn from them’ business—I wanted to practice my art and carve my own niche, as it were. And when they told me about this station—the Cardassians had only just left, and Starfleet was trying to find a qualified medical team to serve here, but they couldn’t seem to find any takers—well, I knew this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for...” Bashir sighed. “No one ever told me that I’d have days like this, though. I mean, Dr. Crusher had warned me that it wasn’t all danger and adventure, but I just can’t imagine her being trapped in a balky turbolift like this.”
“Uh-huh,” Kira mumbled, standing up and crossing her legs.
Bashir was oblivious to Kira’s inattention. “Dr. Crusher is a wonderful person, you know—she was sort of my mentor when I was in Starfleet Medical School and she was in charge that one year. She called me into her office several times during that year and gave me the benefit of her advice.” He beamed brightly at the memory. “She said I reminded her of her son.”
“Yeah,” Kira nodded, biting her lip and trying not to think of waterfalls.
“I had to admire her courage in leaving administration and going back to the Enterprise,” Bashir continued. “That wasn’t easy for her, and she caught a great deal of trouble for it. But you know, she taught me that sometimes you have to do what you know is the right thing to do, and hang the consequences.” He looked up suddenly and stared at Kira. “Major—is something wrong?”
“Huh?” She shook her head and looked over at Bashir. “What’d you say?”
“You seem to be in some discomfort.”
“No, I’m fine,” she quickly assured him. “Really.”
“Well, it’s just that you didn’t seem to be listening to what I was saying.”
Kira sighed and tried to think of a suitable excuse—damned if she was going to tell him the real reason she was squirming. “Look. I just...don’t like enclosed places, okay? Or dead bodies, either. And your rambling is getting on my nerves. Why don’t we just stay calm and quiet until O’Brien gets this thing fixed. All right?”
Bashir looked hurt. “I’m sorry.... I didn’t realize. I guess I do go on a bit, don’t I?” Before Kira could say anything, he was off and running again. “That is a problem, you know, with physicians—for all our dedication to medicine, we sometimes forget that the patient’s needs come first, especially when it comes to having a sympathetic and attentive listener. We become so preoccupied with finding the cause of the problem that we don’t listen to what the patient is saying to us. Dr. Crusher had a lecture on that one time that I found most fascinating—she was telling us about...”
“DOCTOR!” Kira shouted.
Bashir blinked. “Yes?”
“But I was only trying to explain to you...”
“That. Does. It.” Kira’s eyes burned into his. With one smooth movement she plucked the knife out of the Cardassian and advanced on Bashir....
* * * * * * *
“Ahhhh, there we go,” O’Brien said with satisfaction as the stubborn turbolift jolted into life. While the temptation to let Kira stew awhile in there had been strong, he was too much the professional to give in—but it had been a close call. The fact that she was trapped down there with Bashir had tilted the scales towards an immediate rescue—O’Brien could think of no better definition of Hell than to be stuck in an enclosed space with the overeager physician for all eternity.
The doors slid open; like a flash of lightning, Kira exploded out of the turbolift and raced down the corridor. O’Brien and his crew watched her run with a mixture of surprise and amusement. “You’re welcome, Major,” he called to her retreating form, then turned to see what was keeping Bashir...and felt his jaw hit the floor.
To begin with, there was a long-dead Cardassian lying on the floor. And right beside him was Bashir, clad only in undershirt and boxer underwear; the rest of his uniform had been neatly sliced into strips of cloth and used to bind his limbs and gag him. He looked for the entire world like a calf that had been roped and tied at an old-time rodeo. His eyes met O’Brien’s, pleading for someone to untie him and never a word about this to anyone.
And just as O’Brien was about to take pity on Bashir and free him, the turbolift doors abruptly snapped shut again. A few commands to the computer failed to resolve the situation. O’Brien sighed and shook his head. “Just hang tight, Doctor,” he called through the thick doors. “We’ll have you out of this...tie-up...as soon as we can...”