Here, as promised/threatened is another DS9 based story (see "Collection" for
the advert :) ) Again, Sisko does not show up much, but this time I didn't stop
at giving him one line ;) If you like this stuff *please* e-mail me to find out
what else I have planned >:)
ObNote: This was all written when the only Odo-vs-love ep.s I had seen were
_The Forsaken_ and _The Passenger_. In the latter, there's a bit where the
possibility of Odo having a crush for Dax is revealed. I haven't seen anything
that obliterates that - yet.
For those of you who want to see more of the Dax/Odo thang - stay tuned :)
For those who hate Odo/Quark exchanges - there isn't a single one in this whole
story! (Not that that ruins any of the fun :) )
Anyone else - read it, e-mail me a review whether you liked it or not :) I want
some *feedback* for this stuff :) Thanks for your patience.

And now, something we hope you'll really like ;)

Love Sickness
by Catherine Weller

The new ensign sat perfectly still on the biobed, watching Dr. Bashir
run through a multitude of diagnostics. "It seems that your concerns are
*unfounded*, Ensign..." he looked at her medical records, eyes bugging at the
name at the top of them, "Smith." he compromised. Julian really preferred to be
on first-name terms with his patients; especially the female ones.

Now she moved, head bowing down and face reddening, "It's pronounced
'Key-sah'," she informed, "that's what I get for living on an island colony."

"Named for a dolphin?" It was a usual practice for islanders.

"Named *by* a dolphin." she reddened further, "Aunty Iiir-t'k."

"That explains quite a lot," Bashir smiled, bending to get into her
line of vision, "There's no need to be embarrassed. There are quite a few -ah-
'dryskins' who speak dolphin fluently,"

She grinned and bent her head down even further, murmuring something he
couldn't hear.

Julian backed off, _Give her time,_ he thought, _it's probably her first
assignment._ "You'll be glad to know you're clean of foreign substances. There's
no danger to the station."

"Thankyoudoctor" she rushed out of medical, grabbing her green barrett
and ramming it into her hair.

_VERY shy_ Julian classified, _probably due to linguistical
psychologists shuttling in every month or so to study the dialects._

The Beachans were new re-admitants to the Federation, and as such were
still prey to some discrimination and more than a little prejudice. Julian had
seen only one Beachan in the academy - and he'd been very guarded about splaying
his hands.

Suspicious, the doctor decided to follow her, just to see if she was all
right. True enough, he heard distant catcalls.

"Hey, 'Flipper', doesn't that block your blowhole?" Laughter. "Ensign!
Take those shoes off; or do you *want* your webs to shrivel?" Cruel laughter.
"Hey! How long can you stay out of the water?!" They were hysterical, now.

"Gentlemen?" Bashir managed to surprise them, he noticed that he
outranked all of them. "I believe I could use your services. Come with me."

"Sir." they chorussed.

Once he turned to lead, Julian formed a wicked smile. He's teach
*these* people a lesson in manners they'd never forget.

Ensign Kiiisa Smith deliberately marched, stiff-backed and dry-eyed all
the way to her table/alcove in Quarks'. Once comfortably out of public scrutiny,
she burst into tears.

"You can always *report* them." Odo informed from the seat across from

"I didn't see you," she gulped.

"I don't think you were paying much attention," he tried a comforting
smile, and laid his hand on the table, fingers splayed and pointing towards her.

Kiiisa responded by interlacing her fingertips with his, (but only
briefly, because it showed the extemded webs on her hands) a Beachan greeting.

They had physically met only two days ago, but had been friends on the
Federation Networks for over two years. The text-only method of communication
was preferred for long-distance subspace links, especially convoluted ones to
areas outside immediate Federation juristiction.

Of course, back then, each had assumed that the other was working under
a pseudonym or some kind of alias; but now they knew different. "I didn't find
anything," she sighed, "I came close once, but they weren't sentient. They
weren't even *mobile*." She handed him a datapadd and a small dataclip.

Odo consulted the datapadd, absently pocketing the clip - he knew what
was on that one. "At least I know what *not* to look for..."

Kiiisa smiled, wiping her face with the back of her hand.

"You think they're *what*?!" Dax tried to murmur, so she wouldn't be
heard by the Ensigns in the corner.

"Evolutionary throwbacks," Bashir announced, then almost in a whisper,
"I've witnessed them showing a distinctly *un*-Starfleet attitude towards Ensign
Kiiisa Smith."

Dax ahed understandingly. Trill had been victims of academy ridicule -
once their oddities were well known. She knew Beachans could not hide quite so
well; every time they reached for something, they *showed*. Jadzia remembered
the hell of post-PE shower time and the 'comparative anatomy' sessions that
inevitably resulted.

Julian had picked exactly the right person to 'analise' these young
yahoos, and exactly the right angle to take it from, too.

* * * O * * *

Kiiisa wasn't expecting visitors right after her shift; she let the door
chime again, hoping she wouldn't have to leave her saltwater tank so soon. She'd
been looking forward to it all day. Regretfully, she dragged herself into the
dry, pulling a towel-robe over her waterskin and squelched to the door.

Beyond it was Doctor Bashir, with a white rose. "My apologies if I was
interrupting anything," he smoothed.

"If *you* came to *watch*..." Kiiisa reddened with indignation.

Bashir shook his head, "I came only in friendship." he put forward the
rose, "I'd be very upset if you spurned me."

"I have had," she announced, "a very bad day. Don't make it worse." she
closed, then locked the door. She removed her robe, revealing an extended
swimsuit that covered all of her body, and her arms and legs halfway. Kiiisa
then put on her osmisis breather and submerged herself into the tank.

She desperately wanted to go back home to the island-planet Beach. But
Kiiisa was Starfleet, now; she had to endure. Currently, she endured in a
soundless underwater realm.

Julian had never felt so heartroken. Regardless of how impolitely he
was put down, he normally shrugged it off and went back to business. This time
he thought he had better try a more romantic angle.

* * * O * * *

The first thing Kiiisa encountered on her shift was a rose, red this
time, with a little heart-shaped card attatched. In it was some rather inept
poetry telling her how a certain medical officer had fallen madly for her.

She pocketed the card, but placed the rose in her quarters before
heading off for her duties.

Dax was rather enjoying herself this shift; after she had got rid of
the Ensigns Julian had dragged in, it had occured to her that the brash young
Lieutenant(jg) had a so-far-hidden streak for gallant behaviour. He was quite
a bit more than cute when he was trying to be a knight in shining armour.

_It shall be interesting to watch him grow_ Dax decided, her
'mothering' instinct coming to the fore. It was a slow day on the station,
Kira, herself, and several others caught up on station gossip.

* * * O * * *

In her alcove/table at Quarks', Ensign Smith pulled her boots off
covertly and sat cross-legged in her seat. After checking if no-one was
watching, she gently massaged her feet, taking particular care of her toe-webs.
Kiiisa wasn't a runner, and Lieutenant Commander Joren had had her on Gopher
duty all day.

"Thank tides for fast-track," she moaned.

"May I join you?" asked a low, sombre voice. She looked up and
recognised the Commander of the station, and instantly reddened.

"Uhm - I-I'm not waiting for anyone. That is - you're welcome to," she
flustered, "It's your station after all... Sir."

"I'm off-duty, Ensign; you can call me Ben." He tried not to laugh at
the Ensigns' stammering, "I fell all over my tongue when *I* was an Ensign,"
he tried to calm her, "*especially* if I ran into the Captain."

Kiiisa lowered her head in embarressment, "Sorry." she murmured.

Sisko didn't tell her she didn't need to apologise, since she
immediately would. "I gather you were charting some of the Gamma Quadrant


"Did you know that I had to get a *copy* of your report from my
Security Chief?" he tried to sound as polite as possible, "Now, I have no
objections to him knowing things before I do; that makes a good Security Chief.
But when it concerns reports from *Starfleet* Ensigns, I'm willing to settle
for knowing simultaneously."

Kiiisa had gone white, "Oooohhh, noooo!" she wailed quietly, "I *knew*
I forgot *something*... I'm sorry Commander. Ever since I got back, I've been
run all over the station. It *won't* happen again, I *promise*." She reset her
barrett in place, showing her handwebs.

"It's not the end of the world, Ensign." Sisko soothed, "And it is
*not* the end of the Beachans' career in Starfleet, either."

Kiiisa looked at her hands, then promptly put them in her lap. "I don't
understand how people can judge others by their differences." she admitted,

"You should have been an ambassador," Benjamin smiled, "How a sentient
*appears* just doesn't matter to you."

"Deeds speak louder than looks," she replied, "It's an old Beach

"I'm going to have to remember that," Sisko stood, about to wish her
farewell, "What *happened* to your feet?! They shouldn't be that bruised at

For the first time, she actually looked at them. They were a livid
purple-black almost all over; her toe-webs were red and blotchy, "Must be all
the running," she sighed.

"You meant that literally? All right, it's straight to medical for you,


"That's an *order*, Ensign."

* * * O * * *

Kira Nerys strolled along the docking ring, thinking about Vedeck
Bareil. _He is Earth to my Fire_ she thought wistfully, _but this little Major
girl doesn't *want* to marry the next Kai. If he was just a gardener, fine.
But not if he's Kai_

Kai Bareil had a nice ring to it. Nerys sighed, so did Vedeck Bareil.
But could she stand being a Vedeck's wife" More importantly, could he stand

Fire warms the Earth, and the Earth banks the Fire's embers, to keep it
burning. Nerys smiled and sat in one of the large, circular windows facing
towards Bajor. Her Fire, she decided, could get very cold without the Earth to
shelter it.

* * * O * * *

Odo patrolled the cargo bays, taking care to be very quiet when going
through Cargo Bay Nineteen. There was no such thing as being too careful in
his mind. CB19 was currently full of Garborium, an extremely sensitive compound
that was more than likely to shatter *and* explode. It was light, heat, and
vibration sensitive; anyone foolish enough to try and steal it was often found
as a gooey mess at the centre of a crater.

The only way to move it was *very* carefully, using thousands of
tractor-cushion beams and specially cooled transports. It was resting on the
station, a midway point between the ore sight and Bajor. Dangerous as it was,
Garborium contained a lot of energy, and could be used to fuel generators.

Bajor needed fuel for it's generators, but the fact that it was turning
to *this* substance, despite the ready offers of Starfleet Dilithium, disturbed
Odo beyond the depths of his Core. _My poor Bajor_ he mourned, _how can you
*do* this to yourself?_

Odo had long since adjusted his eyes to see infra red. The holding
tanks showed a reassuring blue-to-black, the everpresent Station rodentia (a
multitude of species and crossbreeds) showed as mobile dots that scurried away
when he came near. Odd, there was a significant area of heat in one corner of
the bay. Alarmed, he strode towards the area to investigate, changing his eyes
back to normal bands and turning on his torchlight (of course, being forever
careful of the holding tanks).

There was a couple there, Bajoran, already in that blissful state of
non-awareness that couples seemed to lose themselves in a lot. He interrupted
them with a nudge of his foot and the information that there were such things
as *private* rooms and *private* quarters.

He made sure they *left* the bay, shaking his head to himself.
Humanoids. They always seemed too stupid for their own good. That was why he
had to protect them.

* * * O * * *

"You can stop the playacting," Kiiisa told Leiutenant(Jg.) Julian
Bashir, "I know you're fascinated by my differences, and that you'd *love*
to do a paper on me. What I am, and what other Beachans are is *strictly*
a result of adaptive evolution. I'm still *human*." It was the bravest thing
she'd ever done, or said to a superior officer; but if she was going to avoid
the initial speciesist prejudice, not to mention the slurs of Genetic
Manipulation, she'd better stand up to someone. Odo had told her to; and
Kiiisa wished for some of her friends' bravery right now, if only to cover up
her trembles.

Julian smiled, if only a little sadly, "Kiiisa, I have no intention of
doing a paper on you. I'm just a doctor."

She frowned slightly at this information, "Then why are you being so -
nice? I hardly know you."

"I'd like to know you better," he said honestly as he held a healer
beam over her brutalised webbing, "From a *strictly* personal standpoint, of

Kiiisa immediately blushed and lowered her head, "I hardly know you."
she murmured.

"That's no reason to keep away from people," Julian told her, making
sure the bruises healed correctly, "If I stayed away from everyone I didn't
know, I'd be an *appalling* doctor,"

Kiiisa giggled, an abrupt laugh cut short by embarresment.

"Now *that's* a pretty sound," Julian smiled, "and a pretty face to

She covered up most of it with her hands.

"Please, don't do that," he asked softly, "I'd like to see *more* of

At least she lowered her hands, but her head remained down, "Can I go

Julian released her foot, he had no further reason to tend either of
them, "I recommend that you switch to sandals in future. Starfleet boots don't
have Beachans in mind," He paused long enough to help her off the biobed, "If
you're worried about the Promenade yahoos, I could escort you?"

Kiiisa dared look up at his face, he had such a hopeful expression, she
dared not turn him down. Her parrot, Racket, used to look at her in exactly
the same way, even when she had to leave him at her home soshe could go to
Starfleet Academy. She couldn't say no to Racket, either, "Alright."

Julian smiled gallantly and offered her his elbow.

* * * O * * *

Odo locked down the cargo bay doors with his personal access code -
the one he used on the door to his quarters. Few people knew *that* code. So
far, he only trusted Kira to enter and leave his room as she pleased. Even
Bashir would have to use an emergency medical override, in combination with
the code, in order to enter.

Ideally, that *should* keep people from endangering themselves in
there; he'd need further permission to put shields in front of the doors.

Which meant bothering Sisko.

Of all the humans Odo had encountered, Sisko was the hardest for him
to read. He was also one of the most unpredictable. Odo had yet to resort to
reading Sisko's infra-red patterns in order to get *some* basis for judgement.
As far as he was concerned, infra-red patterns were the resort of the
desperate. Sisko was also the most *annoying* of the humans, taking alarm at a
perfectly normal hull breach, or even Cardassians visiting the station; but
treating most of Odo's concerns as if *they* were the trivialities. He still
remembered the 'little romance' fiasco, when the station commander deliberately
took amusement at Odo's run-in with the sharklike Lwaxana Troi.

Only when he himself was threatened by the situation in the turbolift
did Odo dicover that Lwaxana actually posessed a soft side. She could be
considerate, compassionate and even *gentle*. Odo was still debating within
himself as to whether he should take revenge on Sisko.

All the same, the situation here *was* a threat. Sisko should know
about it at least; he *was* allegedly in charge of the station. It was almost
the same with Dukat. If the Prefect had a problem his own staff couldn't
handle, he left it for Odo to clean up. Eventually, Odo got tired of this
pattern and starting averting trouble *before* it started; knowing damn well
that if Dukat got rid of him, the entire situation could explode.

_Speaking of explosions_ Odo reminded himself as he headed to a
turbolift, _I'd better go bother Sisko anyway_

* * * O * * *

They walked slowly along the habitat ring, Kiiisa talking animatedly
for the first time in days. At the moment, she was describing her pet bird,
Racket. The Beach parrots were actually native to the planet, yet amazingly
like a cross between a hyacynth Macaw and a Cockatoo. Like all parrots, they
shared the innate desire for the destruction of anything within reach.

"We test things on him," Kiiisa supplied, "If he fails to destroy it
in a day - it passes."

Julian laughed, the carressed her shoulder-length hair, "You should
let that grow, long hair suits you."

"This *is* long," she argued, "Any longer and it starts fouling

"It does?" Apart from the fact that her hair was shoulder-length all
around, he couldn't imagine it getting in the way of *anything*.

"You can't understand until you've been there," she smiled, albeit
redly, "You should see it; the sky, the plants, the *corals*. There's so
*much* I've missed; I wish you could see it."

"I'll see what I can do," Julian smiled. He let her into her quarters
and, despite all insistances, was left *outside* as the door closed.

* * * O * * *

Odo had paused his journey to Ops in order to pursue a cursory
investigation of the Promenade; it was his constant suspicion that, whenever
he was busiest, Quark was up to something. He caught O'Brien buying flowers
from a corner stall. "I thought your shift didn't end for another hour?"

"It doesn't," O'Brien grinned, "I'm just knocking off early y'know?
It's a slow day in Ops and ... I'd rather be with Keiko." he started to move
off, "It's wonderful; like we're falling in love all over again." he grinned
and started to speed towards a turbolift.

Odo shook his head. The Chief Engineer might as well have announced it
across station that the O'Briens were trying for a *fourth* family member.

He hoped they wouldn't follow the precedent set by Molly and resort to
the Security Chief as a midwife.

After his customary quick prowl along the Promenade, just to check on
things, he headed up to Ops. The Promenade was orderly, almost barren of people
in the well-lit areas; and what's more, Quark was busy with *legal* business.

Whenever that sort of thing started happening, Odo began to *really*
worry. Anything from the Gamma Quadrant could breeze into the station and
infect everyone on board.

He'd air *that* concern as well, as soon as he got to-


It was almost abandoned. The only main crewmember left in the central
area was Dax, and she was clearly not running her usual checks and scans.

"Where," he interrupted her, "*is* everyone?"

Dax shrugged amiably, "It's a slow day. Spring is in the air." she
smiled warmly, "Ah... young love..."

Odo ventured near her terminal, experiencing the same 'thin-ice'
feeling that he had when the Sul'tanah matrix had taken over the crew.
Something was eerily wrong with this situation - he'd tell Sisko about *that*,
too. "And -uh- what's so interesting that it diverts your attention from -
Spring?" He craned his neck to see what she was working on.

"Just catching up with my correspondance," Dax breezed, "I'm still on
my great-grandchildren,"

Odo nodded understandingly and moved on to Sisko's office. The eery,
not-right feeling intensified, somewhat. He kept that in mind. He found Sisko
lolling on the couch, coffee in one hand and some kind of picture frame in the
other. "Commander?" No response, "I - need clearance to put security shields on
cargo bay nineteen... Some - people are getting in there to - uh - engage in
romantic - entanglements-"

"There's nothing wrong with that," Sisko smiled faintly, "Jennifer and
I used to 'entangle' in all sorts of places."

"Need I remind you that cargo bay nineteen is currently full of
Garborium?!" Obviously, Sisko was infected, too. Odo temporarily forgot that
while he drove his point across, "It is one of the deadliest compounds in
known civilisation. They're not only endangering themselves, but my station as

"I take it you've tried chasing them off,"

Odo scowled, "Several times. In cargo bay nineteen, *alone*, I've
encountered five couples within the last *hour*." he humphed, "It seems every
dark corner has become a suitable spot for - 'entangling'."

Sisko looked on him with pity, "You don't have a romantic bone in
your body, do you, Constable?"

"I don't *have* **bones**," Odo clarified. So long as humanoids kept
their disgusting interiors to *themselves*, Odo was a happy sentient. "What's
more, I don't have time for 'romance'; seeing as I have to keep people from
innocently endangering themselves in cargo bay *nineteen*."

Sisko sighed, "Do what you have to do..."

Odo nodded and turned for the door.

"Constable?" Sisko called him back, "Don't you ever wonder sometimes,
what it would be *like* to be completely happy with somebody else?"

"I don't often try to," Odo admitted, "I don't *need* to be reminded
of how alone I am here." He left before Sisko could ask any more uncomfortable

For his part, Sisko went back to his picture of Jennifer, "I miss you
Jen," he told it, "I still love you,"

Jennifer continued to smile at him.

* * * O * * *

Quark had never felt happier. He even sang quietly to himself as he
scuttled between crowded tables, rooms, and even Holosuites. Quark's Place was
outrageously overbooked. Time-slots for the Holosuites had to be booked in
advance; all the same, the Ferengi wouldn't *hear* of accepting a booking fee.

Young couples wanted to use his facilities, they were welcome to. He
was even willing to cut the price down if the wait was too long.

Rom was currently explaining to a dissapointed couple that everything
was booked until tomorrow afternoon, that he was terribly sorry and that he
*really* wished he could help them. As usual, he said the lot in the sort of
singsong voice in which he said everything.

Quark shifted into humming in counterpoint to Rom's explaining.
Meanwhile, Nog was selling contraceptives like hotcakes, and recommending that
the dissappointed try their quarters for *guaranteed* privacy. It was amazing
what the boy could do with a little initiative and a replicator, Quark thought.

He didn't even care if he was making a profit out of this or not.

* * * O * * *

Odo cautiously investigated the Ops consoles. At the moment, he was
where O'Brien normally stood, poking around in the _help_ files. Odo needed a
lot of helping around most technology; he guessed it stemmed from his earlier
years, when he could only touch things with prior permission. That, and the
electroshock therapy/punnishments made sure that Odo had a healthy respect for
anything that carried a live current.

He found out how to scan for sentients in an area and did so; first in
Ops, then the Promenade, then CB19.

Three, One Hundred, and zero, respectively. Odo smiled to himself and
initiated the shields on the doors. At least he already knew how to do *that*.
Next, he had to scan for anything in the air or environment that could cause
humanoids to get into their present state of insanity.

He couldn't *do* that from this terminal. Odo blinked at the display
and tried again, just in case he'd made some form of mistake.

He still couldn't *do* that from this terminal.

Odo called up the help screen for the umpteenth time and started
searching for the right commands again.

* * * O * * *

Kiiisa stepped out of her quarters and almost caromed into Dr. Julian
Bashir. He was holding yet another rose. "How long have you been here?" she

"Since the Beginning of Time," Julian purred.

Kiiisa smiled in spite of herself. "Now, really, what are you doing

"I'm going to take you home," he smiled, "Sort of."

"Sort of?"

"I managed to reserve a Holosuite at Quark's Place. The program is your
home, Beach. You can show it to me,"

Kiiisa accepted the rose with a *very* red smile, "Thank you."

* * * O * * *

It took Odo an hour of persistance to discover that he needed the use
of Dax's science console to do such a scan of the station. At least he knew
more about how Ops worked. More or less. The alleged 'help' programs kept
showing Odo complicated circuit routings and launched into algebra after the
first sentance. Needless to say, Odo was completely lost with that sort of
help. He tentatively approached Jadzia Dax, the single most beautiful sentient
on DS9. Also the most likely to pry.

"Lieutenant?" he tried. She looked up from 'her' grandchildren, "If
you have a free moment - could you scan the station air for anything that
could effect humanoids? I - have reason to believe that something is -

Dax shrugged and pressed a few buttons on a seperate touchpad, "There
you go." she returned to her messages, "I don't see why you're so worried,
the station air filters take care of any foreign contaminants."

Odo looked at the screen she'd called up for him, "Is that why there
are so many of them?"

* * * O * * *

Kiiisa had been right, Julian decided, Beach *was* a beautiful world.
The sun beat down on the treetops outside of her family's extended home, which
was something like a long house.

Julian looked again at the silvery garment that had been thrust into
his hands. It was obviously some sort of bodysuit, but he doubted it would fit.

He was very surprised when it did, adhering like paint to his skin, but
allowing free movement. It also covered most of his body, gracing his arms
until the elbow, and his legs until the knee. The neck was neither high nor
low, but - comfortable.

"I look ridiculous," he told Kiiisa, who looked positively natural in
the thing.

"I think it shows your - *initiative* rather well," she smirked.

It was phenominal how much she'd changed once on 'home soil'. She
didn't just live on the planet, she was *part* of it.

"C'mon," she said, handing him a backpack-like device (although it was
wafer thin), "You gotta learn how to wear your osmosis pack."

* * * O * * *

Dax stared at the display along with Odo; his simple question had
caused more than a little concern. There were thousands of contaminants; some
in combinations. A diagnostic had said that the air filters were down due to
an overload - now they could see why.

"Is there any way to narrow this down a little?" Odo asked, confused by
the reams of data, "get rid of the known ones?"

"Sure," Dax was abominably cheerful, despite the seriousness of the
situation, "I should have done it for you before."

There were still a lot of unknown ones. "What about emotions?" Odo
remembered O'Brien's unusual behaviour, "Which of these could effect humanoids

Dax's hands flurried over the touchpad, now. After a quick program,
only one remained - a virus. "Now that *is* odd." Jadzia remarked, "An
*empathic* virus - it feeds off emotions," the last she explained to Odo, who
was obviously and completely out of his element. "Now, how could it be
effecting us?"

"It's effecting all the humanoids aboard," Odo allowed, "The -uh-
'Spring' in the air that you noticed before."

Dax smiled soppily, "Aww..."

"*Lieutenant*," Odo did not hide his impatience, "this could prove to
be *serious*."

"it's all right, Odo," Dax reassured, "Let them enjoy themselves, it
won't do any harm,"

"*No* **harm**?!" Odo could not believe it. The normally sane, sensible
Dax had turned into a gooey sentimentalist. Now he could see what the virus
did to *her*. "It's already effected the efficient running of this *station*.
Who knows how long it could be before it proves *fatal*?"

Dax blinked at him, concern spreading over her features, "I hadn't
thought of that, Odo," she told him, "I suppose we'd *better* look at it in
my science lab - we can run some simulations in there."

Odo allowed himself a congratulatory smile, "After you, Lieutenant,"
he breezed, covering for the fact that he only had the vaguest idea of where
Dax's science lab *was* from Ops.

* * * O * * *

Julian tried to get used to things quickly. First was the vague
sticking sensation in the back of his throat, caused by the osmosis pack's
connection to his trachea. Second was the fact that he was now *breathing*
underwater, with no reassuring scuba gear between him and the salty water.
Third was that he was struggling to keep up with Kiiisa, who was not only
thoroughly used to this, but was also swimming lazy rings about him.

Her hair was now pulled back into a short ponytail, and every time she
stopped, it would use the chance to flower behind her head.

"You swim like a penguin," she told him. (The trachea link allowed the
wearer to speak freely - if they ignored the sensations it caused) "Use your
hands to steer, like dolphin fins."

"You have an unfair advantage," he replied, tickling his throat from
the inside. "You had the time to evolve *webs* on your feet and hands."

She swooped to his flapping legs, "Hold still," she ordered, and tied
some flippers to his feet. "Now try it."

Julian took off, laughing for the sheer pleasure of it; forgetting
completely about the sensations caused by the throatpiece.

Beach had been settled for two millenia, thanks to the one-way-warp
that bought it's people (and the dolphins) there; but Julian could at least
adapt if he couldn't catch up.

* * * O * * *

It all brought back horrible memories. The abundance of probing and
analising machinery made Odo's skin thicken in defense. He tried to quell his
ancient fears, with minimal success, since he kept seeing Cardassians in the

Dax blew them away with a mere motion in her seat. She didn't *move*
like a Cardassian, she moved like a dancer. Once again, Odo felt an unfamiliar
pang of - *pleasure* at the sight of her.

_I only see her shell,_ Odo reminded himself, _the truth lies
underneath. A sluglike being is her real mind._ Odo hovered behind her
shoulder, trying desperately to make sense of the reams of data scrolling up
Dax's screen. "We've established what it is," Odo stated, "Why are we doing
this again?"

"I'm sorry," Dax smiled, "I forgot you aren't used to all this at all."

"I'm not stupid," Odo reminded; whether it was himself or the Trill,
he couldn't tell, "I've just overspecialised."

Dax smirked, "I'm hunting mutations, to see if the virus is changing
itself to suit it's environments."

"An adaptive virus?"

Dax nodded, "Most viruses adapt, to suit their hosts; or evade the
immune system. Partly, I want to check that it *is* a virus, and partly to
check that it isn't a lifeform in it's own right."

Odo envisioned thousands of tiny lifeforms swimming through what
passed for his biosystem and feeding on his mind, and at once felt dizzy and
nauseous. "...ooohhhh..." he managed; then, "I don't think you have to worry
about their adaptive capabilities, Dax. I think I've got this thing too..."

* * * O * * *

It was huge, overgrown with corals and home to the Beach fish, but the
oval shape was still discernable. "What *is* it?" Julian asked.

"Landfall Reef," answered Kiiisa, "you can still get into Dolphinhold."

Julian caught the name connection, "And I suppose Humanhold is on
land somewhere,"

Kiiisa giggled, "That's an island, silly," then took his hand, "Come
on, I'll show you the glowpolyps,"

Bashir had learned that the lazy swimming style was far less exhausting
than his earlier, frantic flailing through the water. Although he could only
clumsily imitate the way Kiiisa glided through the water, he had the basics
just about down.

Every now and then, a coral would scrape his waterskin; even if the
coral was sharp enough to cut him to the bone, the waterskin, and the flesh
underneath, was not harmed in the slightest way.

There was some kind of faint blueness ahead of the unusual darkness.
Then, almost like surfacing into another world; was a cavern full of blue
stars. Living stars.

Julian stared and gasped.

* * * O * * *

Sisko relaxed in his office couch, coffee cold and forgotten in the
wake of the sweet memories flooding his mind. "I wish you could be here," he
whispered, "I'd give you the Wormhole; it's so beautiful - like a gem between
the *stars*." he sighed, "Oh, Jen... sometimes I miss you *so* much..."

* * * O * * *

Underwater-Kiiisa was completely different to the dry-land Kiiisa
Julian had met. "You *belong* here," he told her as they swam to another site,
"Beach is your - habitat. You're one with your world."

"Of course," she smiled, "We keep it healthy, and Beach keeps us safe."


In answer, Kiiisa pointed ahead at a large, dark shape at the floor of
the ocean. "In Memorium," Kiiisa said, "is where a slave-ship crashed. They
discovered our home and tried to abduct us. They discovered our sattelite net
a touch too late."

"I'd heard about that," Julian answered as they glided closer to the
wreck, "how the Federation survey team met you all by accident."

"I remember it" she informed, "The shuttle crash got everyone's
attention, that's for sure. We didn't know if they were slavers or what, just
that the hull was leaking. I was in the team that helped drag them ashore."

"It must have come as a bit of a shock, when you found out what was
inside it," he observed.

"Not really," Kiiisa shrugged, "Your face doesn't make much of a
difference on Beach - it's your *intentions* that *count*."

Now Julian could see the wreck of the slave ship. It was obvious that
they must have tried to put up a fight before they went down. Large sections of
the hull breaches were imprinted with signs of null-g trauma, as well as the
doors inside being sealed, and the rooms emptied of anything light.

The rest of the hull had split open on impact. Shearing apart after
being superheated in the atmosphere, then dumped into the cool waters of Beach.
Their bones lay where they had fallen. The closest thing to respect that the
Beachans had afforded their would-be captors. There was also a plaque.

"In Memorium of the Orion souls

Who mistook a peaceful world

For a primative one."

All things considered it was very diplomatic.

The sattelite net kept hostile forces *out* and that was final. Anyone
who wanted to visit Beach normally had to get clearance from the new base that
the Federation had installed there. Currently, the Beachans were working on
updating most of it so it would be more compatible with their
thousands-of-years-old satelites.

Julian began to swim away from the monument, "I - don't belong here,"
he said softly, "This is *your* place, Not mine."

"My place is on Aester Isle," Kiiisa replied, confusing his meaning
into a little joke, swimming with him.

"You don't understand." he told her, swimming numbly over a utopian
underwater town.

* * * O * * *

As soon as Dax touched him, Odo's panic sheared off into another
emotion he'd hidden, even from himself. Love. He relaxed into her touch and
sighed, even as he reminded himself of the differences between them.

"You're feverish," she told him as she eased him into a seat, "Unless
you're supposed to be that hot."

Heat. The monster that had been released once before had given out a
lot of heat. A sudden image of Dax's science lab torn to pieces, the lovely
Trill in the same condition. His fault. "No," he said, panic returning, "Not

Dax held a tricorder over him, unaware of the flashbacks she caused, "I
don't know what it's doing to you," she said, "but your reactions aren't the
same as the ones from the gas."

{Mora, leaning over him, "We have much to discuss. You and I."}

{The day he finally got out, overhearing, "I know you'll come back." I
won't. I **WON'T**.}

{Always, instead of praise for something new he had achieved, a
battery of tests. Childform, looking up at the one constant in his remembered
life; angry, shouting at him, "When will I *please* you?! When will I do
something *right*? When-will-you-*stop*-that?!" the last at the appearance of
a tricorder.}

Present time, to Dax. Calm, "I don't know what it's doing. I don't want
to *hurt*." lean-lurch towards the console, forcing the Memories away. "We need
to find a cure. Now." he quickly checked CB19. No-one was there. No-one was
near. Calm down.

"I've already got a program running down the chemicals and
antiviruses," Dax smiled, placing soothing hands against him, "All we have to
do is wait until the computer sorts it out."

"Can you crossreference with a cure that can be released into the air?"
Odo asked desperately, "By now, quite a number of the crew must be -
entangled..." Disgusting. Even the thought of what they did to eachother was
disgusting. He tried to subliminalise his nausea and failed abysmally.

Dax was smiling at him in the gooey sort of way females did before -
*romance*. Odo wasn't as turned off as he should have been. "You don't want to
disturb them," she typed an addendum to her original query, "You're really a
big softie at heart, aren't you?"

"I prefer to keep private matters *private*." Odo clarified, "no matter
*whose* private matters they *are*." _Except for Quark, of course_

Unnoticed in Ops, a light began flashing a warning.

No-one was there to see it.

Bee-deep. "Warning," the impassive computer announced over the link
into the science lab, "Garborium instability at 40% and rising."

"What?" Odo jerked his attention away from the monitors - and Dax.
"What could be causing it?"

The computer answered, "Multiple low-value vibrations caused by

"I don't want to know!" Odo cut off the computer's reply, "Computer,
can you use the inertial dampeners to absorb the - vibrations?" _Hundreds of
couples,_ he thought, _All doing - *that*. No wonder they claim the Earth
moves, afterwards... I think I'm going to be *sick*_

"Requested function will require fifteen minutes before the rate of
absorbtion takes effect," burbled the computer.

"Do it," Odo ordered, then to Dax, "I *don't* want half the docking
ring destroyed by this - *thing*."

"It's more than just the docking ring," she told him, "It's the whole
station and everyone on it. You really worry about us, don't you?"

"I-" he began to deny, "Yes. I do worry," he hung his head as if in
shame. "You humanoids seem so - *fragile*. Eager to destroy yourselves," he
dared to look directly at Dax, "I've seen a lot of people die. Not just in the
mines. They consume chemicals that shorten their lives - just for a brief
endorphin boost," he stood, "It's no wonder I don't understand."

* * * O * * *

"I don't understand," Kiiisa said, now on dry land and free of her
osmosis pack, "Isn't Beach beautiful? I thought you liked it."

"It's wonderful," Julian replied, "Beach is a paradise incarnate. A
*Utopia*. That's why I can't stay."

Kiiisa frowned, "Explain this slowly," she told him, "I must be missing
*something* here."

"I joined Starfleet for the *adventure*," he tried, "The chance to
prove myself in battle with new experiences and new encounters. What's here on
Beach? An idyllic lifestyle; few diseases, the occaisional cut or bruise.
I'd - atrophy... This isn't a frontier for me; it's a holiday." He brushed her
damp hair, "As much as I want to, I can't holiday forever."

Kiiisa embraced him gently, "I understand," she comforted, "It's the
same with me and Starfleet. Sooner or later, you want to go *back*."

"I'll walk you to your quarters," offered Julian.

* * * O * * *

The feel of her cheek against his; the dizzying sensations flooding
through him. Warmth against warmth. Comfort. Odo was unsure exactly when it
started, but it became quite obvious she liked him when Dax actively embraced
him. After the virus was gone, would he ever feel this way again? For that
matter, would Jadzia Dax ever talk to him again?

She was soft, delicate, graceful - *gentle*. Comforting. Odo gently
pried her away, silenlty mourning the loss of pleasure, "The *station*," he

Dax brushed his cheek softly - so softly - and almost whispered, "The
station can wait a little while..." her fingers moved down to his neck,
brushing and gently fondling the soft folds there.

So tempting... "No. It *can't* wait," he distanced himself from her.
"You're all endangering yourselves by allowing the virus to persist. We have
to *stop* it."

Dax sighed and slouched into her chair. "You're no fun while this
thing's on the loose," she told him, punching in a series of commands,
"*There*. The antidote is in circulation. *Now* will you let me-" he never
found out what she wanted, because the antidote hit her unexpectedly,
"oooohhh..." Dax collapsed, Odo catching her before she could hurt herself on
the floor.

He made sure she was comfortable, breathing, and sound; softly touched
her face, apologised, and left.

Again through Ops. Sisko seemed to be moodily sipping his coffee. So,
it effected different species differently. Whatever it did to Odo, he'd be
waiting for it in the privacy of his alcove-quarters. He slunk out of Ops,
the most miserable sentient on the station, mourning the loss of something
that he hadn't been aware of missing.

Until now.

* * * O * * *

Ensign Kiiisa Smith clambered into her hammock, tired and wrung out. It
was a pity in a way. She had begun to like Julian towards the end. They had
managed to part friends, but the clearer part of that was the parting. If he
wanted to stay with her, he'd have to be able to live on Beach; and it was
her home, not his.

Worlds apart.

But at least they understood.

Julian slunk home to his quarters. To the single bed. Single. Alone.
With a new friend. He smiled, a little sadly, and sat looking out his window
to the stars. They had shared a World; a fraction of a lifestyle. He didn't
belong; no matter how perfect Beach was, it wasn't perfect for him.

But at least they understood.

* * * O * * *


"Come in," Dax chimed, turning to face the door with a stunning smile
after a minor adjustment to her dress.

Odo stood beyond the door, with his usual mixture of apprehension and
Business, "You - wanted to see me?" he stepped over the threshold; just enough
to let the door automatically shut.

It had been almost a week since the virus had wrought it's havok on the
station. Perhaps he just wasn't used to seeing her out of uniform like this -
or perhaps he was frightened of what this would mean. "We haven't had much of
a chance to discuss last week," she began.

"There - isn't much to discuss," Odo tried, "We were all under the
influence of a Gamma Quadrant virus that was activated by a level one Medical
Scan. It's all in my report."

"I'm sorry to tell you this, Constable," Dax soothed, "but I find your
reports a great cure for insomnia."

Odo uttered his slight cough of a laugh, and actually *smiled* at her.
He also, Dax noticed, edged a little closer to her. "It's my secret revenge on
all Beaurocrats," he confided.

Dax laughed, then, "You're allowed to sit down, you know. You won't
break anything."

"If you don't mind, I prefer to stand." he told her, with another
little half-step towards her.

"So you can be ready for a quick escape?" she smiled.

"I'm sorry," he murmured, "I never meant to offend you."

"Odo, I was joking!"

Shuffle, "I - find it difficult to tell, sometimes..."

She wanted to run over and comfort him, he looked so - alone. "Don't
feel so bad," Dax pleaded, "I'm not mad at you, I just want to talk - about
last week."

Only his head moved backwards, he looked ready to bolt.

"You were extremely considerate," she announced, leaving Odo dumbstruck,
"not to mention gentle and chivalrous. I have a suspicion that it wasn't
entirely due to the virus, either."

He bowed his head down. "Some of it was the virus," confessed Odo,
"but - most of it - *was* me."

Jadzia Dax nodded as if she'd known it all along, and patted a seat in
invitation, "Please sit down," she said, "you're looking lonely way over there."

Odo considered for a moment, then sat down, slightly awkwardly, on the
offered seat.

"Why didn't you just tell me?" Dax asked softly, "It would have been so
much easier..."

"I'd never have a chance," murmured the shapeshifter, "We're too
different. You'd be happier with someone else... Anyone else."

"Do you honestly believe that?" she reached forward, clasping her hands
over his. Gentle contact. Easily broken if he didn't want it.

He didn't break it. Instead, he stared at her hands as if they were an
impossible dream. "I don't know." his voice was a whisper, now. "I don't know
what to believe... All I know is - when you held me like that, I - I felt - at

"Anyone else would have taken the advantage," Dax supplied.

"Anyone else doesn't have the same value put on - respect." He still
hung his head, still murmured, but let Jadzia shuffle a little closer to him.
"If - I'd let you - persist; we'd never be able to look at eachother in the
same way again."

Dax smiled, slid a little towards him, and began a slight caress on
Odo's hands, "And what if I want to persist now?"

"I'm - willing to - try..." allowed he.

They leaned into eachothers' warm embrace. Comforting. Comfortable.



Isn't that ending so warm and fuzzy you want to be sick? ;) Do you think the
story would have been better if it was Odo/Kira? Or do you want to know what
the hell I may have planned for a followup?

Well, then - email me and find out. I'd appreciate a little feedback on these
things :)

Feel free to distribute/print/copy this story - so long as you give me credit
:) All copyright laws apply so long as the above does, too :)

Next from my notebooks: Something that has been hidden away for fifteen years
is let *out* when O'Brien and Odo investigate a radiation spill that doesn't exist, a murder that wasn't recorded, and a mysterious power drain... All in my next story; _Wart_ :)

Wondering WTF I'm up to? email Q of SFNPS member and instigator: RAAS
Excuse any typos; washed my hands last night and can't do a *thing* with them ;)

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