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Futures Past 11: Fallen Skies

by Arvy

Futures Past 10:
Tchaikovsky Unbound
Home Futures Past 12

RATING - PG
CATEGORY - C(rossover), R(omance)
SPOILERS - Second Skin(DS9), Caretaker(VOY)
KEYWORDS - X-files/Highlander/Forever Knight/Star Trek: DS9/VOY crossover, Mulder/Scully Romance

SUMMARY

And you thought Scully had been ditched before? Hah!

DISCLAIMER

As has been previously disclaimed by many before me, these characters do not belong to me, much to my sorrow. I'm only playing with them for a while, and I do solemnly promise to return them to the play chest in due time. Meanwhile, most of the characters referred to in the story really belong to CC, or 1013, or Fox, or Rysher, or Paramount, whoever owns the rights to them.

Author's Notes

This entry makes it the 11th in the series. I remember when I graduated high school, I promised myself that if I ever did any creative writing again, it would be too soon. Just goes to show you, I guess. Anyways, I wanted to thank everyone who's stuck with the series so far. I know I've been promising this one almost since part 8, Sweet Dreams. Well, it's finally done, folks, so enjoy now!!!

The story itself picks up a week or so after part 9, From the Ashes. You probably want to read that first to understand some of the references in this one. As usual, it answers several questions I raised in previous installments, and again as usual, raises just a few more. Although, I did make an effort this time around to keep the loose ends to a minimum. In keeping with the timeline of the series, it occurs sometime during the DS9 episode, Second Skin. It makes small references to both that and the previous episode, Equilibrium.

As always, this one, and all the previous 10 stories in the series can be found at http://unmai.cjb.net/arvy, or on Gossamer or Seventh Dimension, once they update. Meanwhile, I welcome any and all feedback. Let me know what you thought. The address is unmai@bigfoot.com. Till then, read, broaden your horizons, make love not war, and all that other good stuff ;)


They stood on the mountain, looking out over a seeming infinity. The startling blue waters stretched out in front of them as far as they could see.

She could feel the fresh grass under her feet as she ran, her hastily darted look backwards daring him to catch her if he could.

Not that he would resist the challenge, of course. With a grin, he took off as well, effortlessly closing the distance between the two of them. He lunged, and together, they tumbled to the ground, laughing, rolling over each other until they came to a halt, their lips meeting in a passionate kiss.

She didn't know how long they stayed like that. No words were spoken as they finally pulled apart, their eyes locked. One more kiss and she stood back up, moving away from him. He reached out to grab her, but she darted away from his grasp, her coy smile daring him to renew their game.

When she saw his hesitation, she moved back towards him, holding out her hands as if in invitation. When he reached for her, however, she pulled back, a silvery laugh escaping her lips as she quickly backed away. His eyes narrowing, he got up, moving slowly towards her.

Seeing him approach, she turned, moving towards the edge of the cliff. When she heard his footsteps quicken, she started running as well. And when she reached the edge... she jumped.

Her body streaked down the mountainside, heading straight for the clear blue of the still waters below. He followed, the two of them entering the ocean with barely a splash. The warmth surrounded them as they swam back up to the surface. They could almost feel the magic of the place as they moved towards and around each other. It was all they could do to not devour each other immediately. Their hands roamed over each other's bodies, caressing, touching, feeling, loving their other halves.

Finally, when they could take no more of the mutual teasing and seduction, for that was what it was, they started towards the distant shore. They swam quietly until they reached the sandy beach, pulling themselves out of the water and collapsing onto the golden sand. Their bodies glistened in the sunlight as they silently made love under the canopy of the open sky.

They lay cuddled against each other, simply staring at the blue expanse above them. His hand softly stroked the flaming hair that spilled across his chest as he murmured quiet nothings into her ear. She smiled, her eyes lazily half-lidded as she absorbed his words into her very soul.

Her eyes drifted to the mountain they had jumped off of. Behind it, a taller peak rose majestically into the heavens, its summit lost in a haze of snow and clouds. She stared at it, then frowned, a feeling of dread slowly starting to coalesce in her stomach. She felt it before she even saw it. The jagged line that appeared along the side of the taller mountain sent shivers coursing through her body. The man lying next to her, however, seemed oblivious to it all. And she felt unable to do anything about it.

Helpless, she watched as the crack widened, the entire peak seeming to crumble under its own weight. But what horrified her was what followed. As the massive piece of rock broke away from the rest of the mountain, she saw the skies themselves tilt. Without the support from the tall peak, it appeared that the skies themselves were falling.

And she could still do absolutely nothing.

She screamed...

... and came awake to an empty room, her body drenched in sweat. She forced herself to calm down, to bring her breathing firmly under control. This was the third time the dream had occurred, and she was starting to feel its effects even in her waking hours.

She took a quiet breath, then got out of bed. She noted the time, and with a soft curse, she moved into the adjoining bathroom to wash up before heading out.


Quark's Bar, Promenade
Deep Space Nine
Tuesday, Apr 20, 2371
1748 hours

"DABO!!!"

The shout echoed around the room as the wheel came to a stop. The tall woman in the midnight blue dress smiled to herself as she reached for her winnings.

"Another round, Lieutenant?" the dabo girl asked, hoping to get a chance to win back some of the money for the house. Quark would probably throw a fit when he heard how much this one person had won this night.

The taller woman hesitated for a moment, then shook her head, much to the other's disappointment. With a grin, she collected her winnings and moved back from the dabo tables, heading towards the front of the bar. She'd barely taken a dozen steps when she noticed the tall man sitting at the bar next to Morn. He appeared to be nursing a drink as he darted occasional glances at the entrance, obviously waiting for someone.

She thought he looked familiar, but wasn't sure. She moved towards him, her mind sifting through over three centuries of memories as she tried to identify him. She felt the faint stirrings in her stomach as she came closer. Her mind clicked on the memory as she came to a stop next to him.

"Perhaps I should warn Quark that he might be getting a visit from a pool shark in the near future."

He'd already felt the tingling sensation of an approaching immortal. But when he heard the voice, he paused with the drink halfway to his lips. Slowly, he turned in his seat. He saw an attractive brunette staring back at him, a faint smile on her lips. A Trill, he realized, noting the line of spots running down either side of her face before disappearing behind her high cut dress. He wondered if it was the woman herself who was immortal, or if she carried a joined symbiont within her.

He smiled in return, leaning lazily back against the counter as he brought the drink back to his lips. He took a deep sip, his eyes locked onto hers as he tried to figure out how they knew each other. He knew they'd never met before, or he'd have remembered her.

"Now why would you want to do a thing like that?" he drawled, his curiosity now sufficiently peaked.

"You don't recognize me, do you?" the woman asked, her lips quirking mischievously.

"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, Ms..."

"Lieutenant, actually. Lt. Jadzia Dax."

"Dax?" His eyes widened at the name as the memories came flooding back.


K't'ala's Bar
Pelios Station
Aug 14, 2353
1821 hours

"Hey there, beautiful. How's about you and me go get a room?"

Mulder's keen hearing could easily make out the leering come-on from across the dim, smoky pool hall. He was sitting at a bar on one side of the room, nursing a scotch. He turned to see the short redhead leaning over a pool table, trying to line up a shot.

Behind her stood the source of the crass pickup line. Mulder nearly choked on his drink. An old man, probably in his eighties by the look of him, leaned over the woman, smirking suggestively as she tried to move the cue stick without hitting him. And it looked like he was purposely making it hard for her to do so.

Mulder saw the woman finally pick an angle away from the old man, smoothly following through with the cue to sink the eight ball in a corner pocket. She then stood up straight, turning to face her admirer with a look of anger on her face.

"Look...," she began, then paused as if in thought. Just as Mulder was wondering what was going through her head, she went on, "why don't we play a game? If you win..." She trailed off, smiling suggestively at him.

That's my Scully, he thought to himself, chuckling as he shook his head. He turned back to the bar to finish his drink.

"Is that your girlfriend?" the voice from next to him pulled his attention away.

Mulder turned, seeing a young dark-skinned human sit down in the seat next to him. He raised an eyebrow, to which the younger man nodded in the direction of his wife.

"Something like that. Why? Thinking of asking her out yourself?" Mulder smirked.

"Oh, no," the reply came almost immediately. "I'm engaged. I was just concerned about you, that's all."

"Oh? Why's that?" Mulder asked, somewhat puzzled at the reason behind the young man's statement.

"Well, that man she's playing against is my friend, Curzon. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he is something of a pool shark." Seeing that he still wasn't making himself clear, he tried to explain. "That's his routine, you see. He figures, looking at him, no one thinks he'll beat them. So he wagers a night out with him against buying the women a drink at the bar. And he usually wins."

"If you're his friend, why are you telling me this?" A slow smile crept across Mulder's face at the information, however.

The man grinned, revealing a flash of white that contrasted startlingly against his darker complexion. "Just because I'm his friend doesn't mean I approve of his tactics."

"Starfleet through and through, eh?" Mulder grinned, gesturing towards the uniform. "Newly graduated too, I bet. You still have that raw look about you."

"Two months out of the Academy, actually," the other man sheepishly smiled back, absently tracing the small triangular epaulet on his right shoulder. "Ben Sisko," he introduced himself, extending his hand.

"Jason Renard. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Sisko. And thanks for the warning."

"Oh, just Ben, please. I'm not ready to turn into my father just yet."

Mulder laughed in understanding, nodding. "Ben it is, then."

"You aren't worried?" Ben asked, curious at his new acquaintance's nonchalance. "He really is very good, you know."

"That's my wife, actually, not my girlfriend," he said, turning back to the game going on in the back of the room. "And no, I'm not worried. Watch." He gestured with his drink in the direction of the players.

They'd just finished racking up the balls. The older man stepped back, making a gracious sweep with his hand, indicating that the redhead break. With a smirk, she proceeded to do exactly that.

Ben Sisko watched open mouthed as all but one of the balls immediately sank into various pockets. He could tell even from this distance that his friend was speechless as well. Both their eyes were riveted on the last black ball as it lazily careened across the table, finally bouncing off one of the sides before sinking into the opposite side pocket.

"I don't believe it," Ben finally said in an awed whisper.

"Oh, believe it. She can do warp calculations in her head," Mulder said, a definite note of pride in his voice. "Compared to that, figuring out those shot angles is child's play."

"Wow!" Ben shook his head, grinning. "Poor Curzon. Bet he never expected that." He saw his friend hang his head, shaking it in disbelief.

"I believe you owe me a drink," Mulder heard Scully say, a smug smirk firmly affixed on her face.

The old man looked up, a sheepish smile on his face as he acknowledged her victory. "You certainly earned it." He held out his arm in invitation. "My lady?"

The two men watched as they approached the bar. As they neared into range, Mulder's brow rose at the double buzz he felt. An immortal? A late bloomer perhaps, he thought, until they neared enough for him to make out the faded spots on the man's wrinkled face in the dim lighting. A Trill?

It wasn't quite common knowledge in the Federation that the Trill were a joined species. If the man was a Trill, it was just as likely that Mulder was sensing a symbiont within the man, rather than the man himself.

"Ensign Sisko!" the old man greeted the younger one as he come to a stop beside them. "All packed up yet?"

"More or less," Ben answered him. Turning to Mulder, he explained, "Curzon and I are shipping out on the Livingston tomorrow. Jason, I'd like you to meet Curzon Dax. Curzon..." He looked at his friend with an almost mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "This is Jason Renard, the man whose wife you've been hitting on all this time."

Curzon blinked, looking from Mulder's inscrutable expression to the woman he was escorting. Immediately, he dropped his hand as if stung, taking a step to the side. "Ah, well, I... uh... guess I should... umm..." He chuckled nervously. "Look, I didn't mean anything by..."

He trailed off when he saw both Ben and Mulder simultaneously break into laughter. He turned to see the woman raise her hand to quickly hide the smile on her own face as well. Realizing that he'd been had, he reluctantly allowed his own smile to appear. "I hope you all had your fun, tormenting a poor old man like that," he finally said in a miffed tone, the jovial look on his face belying his words.

"Oh, that we did, Curzon, that we did," Ben finally managed. "The look on your face was absolutely priceless."

"Considering that I'm your commanding officer, Ben, it might behoove you to show me just a little respect every now and then," Curzon shot back.

"Very little," Ben replied in agreement, prompting yet another round of laughter from the others. "So are you going to introduce me to the lady, or are you just going to stand there without offering her a seat?"

"Oh, of course, where are my manners?" Curzon said, turning to her. "Ms...," he trailed off as he realized he'd not even asked her her name in all this time.

When Ben realized this, he chuckled. "You're just digging yourself deeper and deeper, Curzon." Looking at Scully, he smiled. "Ben Sisko, Mrs. Renard, and may I just say, that was one hell of a shot. Definitely put him in his place."

To which, Curzon simply closed his eyes, shaking his head gently. "It's just not my night, is it?" he asked plaintively. "My dear, please accept my most profuse apologies for my behavior tonight," he said, his voice oozing as much charm as he could pack into it.

"See, Jason, now there's a gentleman. Pay attention, and you might learn something," the redhead said to her husband, sitting down next to him. "Apology accepted, Curzon. Hello, Ben. I'm Sara. And, Curzon? I think I'd like a Samarian Sunset."

Curzon inclined his head, then turned to Mulder. "Mr. Renard, may I congratulate you on your extreme good fortune to have such a magnificent woman for your wife?"

Mulder simply grinned. "Fine, I won't kill you. But the next round is on you, my friend," he said.

"But of course," Curzon graciously acquiesced. "One doesn't meet such wonderful company every day. Another one?" he said, nodding at Mulder's drink.

When he nodded, Curzon gestured to the bartender. "One Samarian Sunset for the lady, a refill for the gentleman, one icoberry juice for me, and one..." He paused as a movement near the bar entrance caught his eye. "No, make that two Alvanian brandies please." Turning to his friend, he said, "Ben, I do believe that's Jennifer I see making her way over here."

Ben immediately glanced over, his face brightening as he saw the attractive woman walk up to him. When she leant down to place a light kiss on his lips, he smiled. "Jennifer, I'd like you to meet some new friends. Jason and Sara Renard, Jennifer Bell, my fiancée."

"Pleased to meet you," the couple greeted her.

"Likewise," the woman replied, nodding at them as she absently brushed back the dark locks that framed her face. Looking up at Curzon, she smiled. "Curzon, it's good to see you. I hope you've been behaving yourself."

A distinct blush rose along the line of spots on the man's face. "Well, actually..." He trailed off to the sound of muffled chuckles from the others.

Having accurately assessed the situation, Jennifer closed her eyes, shaking her head in exasperation. "Oh, Curzon, you're hopeless. With Jason right here? I'm surprised he hasn't killed you already."

"Hey, I didn't know they were married," he said defensively. "Besides," he added, pausing for effect, "I always wanted to die with a smile on my face."

"Hear, hear," Mulder raised his refilled glass in salute, earning him an elbow from his wife seated next to him. "Ow," he complained, rubbing his side.

"Watch it, or we'll see who gets to have a smile on their face tonight," Scully shot at him. She flicked a finger against the rim of her drink glass, watching appreciatively as the clear liquid transformed into a multicolored hue.

"I'm not even going to touch that," Ben said. "On that note, I'd like to bid you good night." He raised his now empty glass towards Curzon in thanks for the drink. "It was nice to meet the both of you," he told the Renards, "but Jennifer and I have a date."

"Pleasure to meet you too, Ben. Hope you can keep your friend out of trouble on your assignment," Mulder said.

"Jason," Scully chided him. "Enjoy your date, Ben, Jennifer. Maybe we'll run into each other again sometime."

The young couple nodded, then rose to make their way out of the bar.

"Ah, young love," Curzon sighed, looking at their departing figures.

"Mmm...," Mulder said, following his gaze as he finished up his drink. "Dax," he said thoughtfully. "You know, I seem to remember one of my students dating a Dax once, a Trill. Back at the University of Mississippi, on Earth."

Curzon glanced up, his eyes widening in surprise. "Len McCoy?" he asked, surprised. When the man nodded, he chuckled. "I thought you looked familiar. I think I saw you a couple of times when I visited Len at school. Yeah, that was me. Well another host, of course. Emony Dax. What's it been now? Over a hundred years?" He shook his head at the passage of time, thinking of how much had changed since then.


Quark's Bar
Tuesday, Apr 20, 2371
1801 hours

Over a 125 years now, Jadzia thought to herself. And Dax had changed, yet again. But the person in front of her hadn't, thanks to his immortality. She wasn't sure what the man she'd once known as Jason Renard was calling himself now. She knew the penchant that immortals of most races had for concealing their identities. In fact, the only races that she knew didn't periodically assume new identities were those that had no mortals left among them. Ones like the Trill symbionts and the El-Aurians simply pretended to be very long-lived, hiding their immortality that way.

"It has been a while, hasn't it?"

"Jadzia, huh?" the man asked, smiling as he looked her up and down. "Oh, and it's Felix Leiter, for now. And yes, I'd say it's definitely been a while. You've... changed."

Dax chuckled. "Yeah, well, it's amazing what a little makeup can do," she said dryly, nodding towards the back of the bar. "Care to join me at a table?"

"Sure," he replied, both of them walking over to an empty table in the corner. When they were seated, he looked at her for a moment as he sipped his drink. While they'd kept in touch every so often after their first meeting, he'd not actually seen Dax in over a decade. "So kid, how've you been? Last I heard from you, Curzon was going to Risa to celebrate his 110th."

Jadzia smiled as she remembered Curzon's words from that first meeting. "You remember how Curzon always said he wanted to die with a smile on his face?" When Mulder nodded, she grinned. "Well he got his wish."

Mulder's eyes widened. "On Risa?" Seeing her nod, he shook his head. "You're joking."

"I believe Arandis called it... death by jamaharon," she replied with a smug smile.

"Oh my god. What a way to go!" Mulder chuckled. He raised his glass in salute. "To Curzon." Looking at her slyly, he added, "and to Dax. May all its subsequent hosts be as pleasing to the eye as its current one."

Jadzia smiled in reply. "And your wife called me the charmer," she muttered. "Does she know you're spending your time in a bar picking up beautiful women?"

"Funny you should say that, because I just had this idea. I'm supposed to meet her here in the next few minutes, and I was wondering if you..."


Promenade

The nightmare had left her a bit shaken, making her regret her decision to take a quick nap before meeting her husband. On top of which, she was running late.

The petite redhead hurried through the crowd, amazed at the constant hum of life around her. Beings of various races moved through the station's commercial district, going about their business all around her. Dana Scully felt slightly lost amid the bustle and hubbub of the area.

Her eyes brightened when she noticed the free-standing Promenade Directory. She walked up to it and ran a finger down the commercial listings, an auburn eyebrow rising when she encountered an entry for Milliways. Making a mental note to go to the restaurant in the next few days, she continued down the listings until she found what she was looking for.

Within a few moments, she found herself in front of Quark's Bar. From the entrance, she could make out the scattering of Ferengi that worked in the place. She walked up to the bar, looking around as she tried to find Mulder. She froze when she felt the buzz from two immortals coming from the back of the bar.

She turned, her eyes widening as she registered the sight. Seated at a secluded table, away from the rest of the crowded bar, Mulder sat next to a beautiful brunette. Her head was tilted in his direction, and Scully saw her laugh at whatever Mulder had just told her. She saw him lean closer, his lips inches from the woman's ear as he whispered something. Her jaw tightened, even as her eyes narrowed. The second buzz was obviously coming from the brunette.

The woman pushed back a strand of dark hair that fell across her face, revealing a line of spots that ran down the side of her face and down her neck before disappearing behind the shimmering blue dress. A Trill, Scully realized. She ground her teeth when she saw Mulder reach across the table to lay his hand gently on his companion's, both apparently oblivious to her presence.

She pushed the sudden feelings of jealousy to the back of her mind, making her way through the crowd to the table. She cleared her throat, and saw Mulder turn in her direction. He had a vaguely flustered look on his face as he smiled sheepishly at her. "Oh, hi...," he greeted her. "Um, this is Jadzia." He turned back to the brunette with an almost sickeningly moonstruck look on his face. "Jadzia, my wife... uhh... Donna."

Her jaw dropped. Donna? Who the hell is Donna? Not quite over her surprise at Mulder's dismissive attitude towards her, she jerked her head in the brunette's direction when the woman distractedly whispered, "Hi there... uh... Diana, was it? Nice to meet you." Scully noticed that the woman had yet to turn away from Mulder or remove her hand from under his.

"I...," Scully began, a tinge of red rising on her cheeks. She paused, her anger slowly rising. She took a breath to utter some satisfyingly scathing words when she saw the corner of the woman's lips twitch. She frowned, looking back at her husband. Her eyes narrowed at the twinkle she thought she caught in his eyes before he quickly covered it up.

"I want a divorce," she said abruptly, pulling out a chair and plopping herself down on it.

"W... What?" Mulder's eyes darted back to his wife, thrown off balance by the sudden declaration. "What!? What!?" he added a couple more times for good measure, the incredulous expression still on his face.

At which point, the brunette couldn't quite keep it up anymore. She burst out laughing. "I told you it wouldn't work. Oh, she got you back good." She turned to Scully, and saw the smug smirk on the redhead's face. With a rueful smile, she apologized, "I'm sorry about that."

"No you're not," Scully shot back, a smile stretching her own lips. "In fact, I bet you enjoyed it." She leaned forward to extend her hand. "Denise Kelly..."

Jadzia blushed at being caught. "You're right," she replied sheepishly. "That was entirely too much fun." She shook the redhead's hand. "Jadzia Dax." She waited for the name to register. She wasn't disappointed when, a moment later, an elegant eyebrow rose.

"Dax?" Scully asked. "As in Curzon Dax?"

"He died about four years ago," Jadzia replied. "The symbiont was transferred to me."

"Oh," Scully said, digesting the information. She then smiled. "So Dax got stuck with you, eh? Too bad. Curzon was... cute. Maybe next time."

Mulder had been looking from one woman to the other, and hearing the last remark, couldn't resist a chuckle.

"I guess I deserved that," Jadzia said, grinning. "So who's buying the drinks this time?"

Both women simultaneously turned to Mulder.

"Considering who thought up this lame joke...," Scully began.

"Yes, it seems only fair," Jadzia concluded, smiling conspiratorially at Scully.

Mulder looked from one to the other, then sighed. "Oh, yeah, just gang up on me, why don't you?" he said in a wounded tone.

"Synthale for me, Felix," Scully said without any remorse.

"Ditto," echoed Jadzia.

He nodded as he stood up, darting a glance in Jadzia's direction. "Traitor," he playfully chided as he made his way to the bar.


"So naturally, I told Odo that if he wanted my help, it was only fair he let me have access to some of the station's security files." The Cardassian leaned back in his chair, affecting a pleased smile on his face as he waited for his audience of one to respond.

"Naturally," came the almost absent answer, said audience clearly having something else on their mind.

"Doctor? Are you listening to me at all?" the Cardassian asked, his tone more curious than annoyed at the lack of attention from his tablemate.

"Huh? Oh, of course, Garak. Odo's security files. Although, I doubt he'd ever agree to that."

He still wasn't being looked in the eye, Garak realized. He turned in his chair, looking back to see what so held the good doctor's attention. Spotting the table in the back, his eyes widened. "Well, it appears Lt. Dax has someone new in her life," he remarked, seeing the man lean in close to murmur something into the Trill's ear. He turned back to face the man seated across from him. "Tell me, Dr. Bashir. Are you worried about Lt. Dax's health after her recent trip to the Trill home world? Or is it the new man in her life you are so interested in?"

Garak would lay odds it was the latter. It was no secret to anyone on DS9 how Bashir felt about Dax. The initial crush seemed to have tapered off in the past few months, but Garak had no doubt the doctor was still experiencing a slight case of unrequited adoration. He silently shook his head at the inevitable jealousies the man must be forced to endure, especially taking into account the lieutenant's penchant for... socializing.

He might have been surprised, however, had he been privy to Bashir's thoughts at the moment. While he had been right that the doctor's attention was focused on the man at Dax's table, it was not for the reasons he was thinking of. Noting the doctor's attention wander to the bar, then back to the table, Garak turned again, noting the addition of a short red-haired human female to the couple already at the table.

When he turned back, the doctor was looking directly at him, his expression curiously clear of any indication as to his state of mind. Perhaps he'd assumed that the new arrival indicated Lt. Dax wasn't as unavailable as the earlier picture had suggested. In any case, Bashir's attention was now completely on Garak.

The Cardassian shrugged, his thoughts returning to earlier in the day when he'd laid out to both Sisko and Odo what he considered perfectly acceptable terms in return for his help in searching for Major Kira. He sighed, wondering if it had been worth it, revealing the Major's possible capture by the Obsidian Order. He should have expected that Sisko would force him to lend his expertise in an attempt to rescue her. Oh well, he thought to himself. He'd cast his die when he'd sided with the Federation on more than one occasion since their occupation of the station. Now it remained for him to live with the roll he'd cast. Or was it the role he'd been cast in? He silently smiled to himself at his unintentional pun.

He continued regaling the doctor with the details of his talk with Sisko and Odo, the two of them going on to discuss their plans for the upcoming mission to Cardassia. Finally, the conversation wound down, Garak standing up to take his leave.

"Leaving already, Garak?"

"I do have to prepare my shop for tomorrow, doctor. I have customers I must inform about my absence for the next few days." He nodded. "Good night, doctor. I shall see you tomorrow."

"Good night, Garak." Just as the Cardassian was about to leave, Bashir added, "And thanks for helping us find Major Kira. I know you didn't have to do that."

Garak simply smiled. "Perhaps I have my own reasons..."

"Oh, I'm sure you do, Garak," Bashir smiled back at him. "I'm sure you do."

Garak nodded, turning to head out of Quark's.

At the table, Bashir watched him leave. He brought his hands up from where he'd kept them underneath the table. His face hardened as his fingers caressed a thin orange rod. He turned it over and over as his eyes wandered back to the table at the back of the bar. Seeing the two women leave, he sighed and got up as well.


"Well, it's actually more like early evening right now for most of the station," Jadzia said, looking from Mulder to his wife.

Scully shook her head. "I'll never get used to the shifting time standards. And I used to think a trip across the North American continent on Earth was bad," she said, shaking her head ruefully. "It feels like morning right now."

"You get used to it after a while," the brunette admitted, then smiled. "But we do have to work longer shifts because of the longer days. The station runs on Bajor time, rather than Federation standard."

The other two chuckled at the slight lament in her tone.

"So have the two you had a chance to look around the station yet? I got off shift only an hour ago, so I'm pretty free to give you a tour. This is the busiest time on the Promenade."

Mulder looked from Jadzia to Scully. "You know I can already see it in your eyes. You're going to hit the shops, aren't you?"

Scully looked imperiously back at him. "And if we are?" she asked defensively.

"Then," he replied, "you can count me out." He made a shooing motion with his hands. "Go on, get out of here. Enjoy yourselves. Just don't expect me to join you. I have better things to do with my time than shop."

Scully narrowed her eyes at him, then turned to Jadzia. "Men," she finally said, her voice carrying just that touch of exasperation.

"Hey, watch it," Jadzia retorted. "I used to be one of those."

The three of them shared a moment of laughter at the joke. Jadzia raised her empty glass. "Thanks for the drink, Felix." Turning to Scully, she added, "Now what say we go have a bit of fun?"

"I don't see why not," came the reply.

"Just don't do anything I wouldn't do," Mulder said as they stood and stepped back from the table.

"But that would defeat the entire purpose, Felix," Scully cheekily shot back as she left.

At the table, Mulder simply shook his head.

"I would have thought you'd go with James Bond."

The dry comment took his attention away from the retreating figures of the two women. Mulder turned in his seat, noticing the man he'd seen earlier seated a few tables away, talking to the Cardassian. An eyebrow rose at the man's comment.

"Julian," the other introduced himself. "Dr. Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer for Deep Space Nine."

Mulder smiled, recognizing the name. "Bond was... a bit too pretentious, I thought. Besides, I've always had a soft spot for the underdog. I take it you're interested in 20th century fiction?"

Bashir blinked at the question. "As a matter of fact, I am," he replied. "I have a few holoprograms of the era that I enjoy."

Mulder grinned, nodding. "Always a pleasure to meet a fellow aficionado, Julian. Felix Leiter," he said, extending a hand.

Bashir reached forward to shake it. "Perhaps we might go somewhere a bit more private?" he said curtly, looking around to spot the bartender hovering a few tables away with an expression of curiosity on his face. Bashir knew that the Ferengi was always on the lookout for that next piece of juicy information that he might be able to capitalize on. "Quark's is a nice place to socialize," he added, "but those ears of his are hardly decoration."

Mulder followed his gaze, noting the Ferengi abruptly turn away and head behind the bar. He turned back to Bashir. "You mentioned a fondness for 20th century fiction, doctor. Perhaps I might interest you in a program I'm working on. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it."

Bashir considered the offer, then nodded.

Mulder stood and walked over to the bar. A quick conversation with Quark and he was directed to the stairs leading to the holosuites. He quietly went upstairs to the empty suite, Bashir following him in.

Mulder pulled out an isolinear data chip from his pocket as he walked to the holosuite control console. "Computer, scan data chip and load program Vegas eight alpha." He turned back to Bashir. "I don't usually get a chance to run this particular program. It's a bit too complex for conventional holodecks. But the Ferengi told me the holosuites run directly off the station's power core, and have more than enough processing power. Computer, run program."

The interior of the holosuite dissolved into a spacious lounge. From the program's name, Bashir guessed the locale to be somewhere in the city of Las Vegas, back on Earth. The program had placed them next to the bar. Towards the front of the room, Bashir saw a gray haired man standing on a stage amidst a band, singing softly to an audience of well-dressed patrons. The costumes and the atmosphere finally brought a smile to Julian's face. "1970's Las Vegas?"

"Pretty good, doc. So... we're now somewhere a bit more private," Mulder said. "Have a seat," he nodded towards the stools at the bar. The suggestion sounded almost like an order, Mulder's curiosity sufficiently peaked by the other.

"Mr. Leiter...."

"Felix, please," Mulder corrected him.

"Felix, then." Bashir pulled out the orange data rod he'd been holding earlier. "I believe you were expecting a message." He placed the rod on the bar table. "Computer, scan data rod and play message, authorization Bashir omega seven nine. Isolate message from the program parameters."

There was a small chirp, followed by a new holographic character that appeared a couple of feet away from the two men. Bashir's last command made sure that the lounge patrons and other holocharacters blithely ignored the new addition to their environment.

Mulder turned away from the bar to see the image of a regal blonde woman coalesce in front of him. His face crinkled into a small smile. It had been a while since he'd last seen Alynna Nechayev. The image of the Admiral looked directly at him, leading him to realize that the message was partially interactive. "Hello Lynn," he greeted the image.

"Felix," the image responded to his greeting. "I hope you and Denise are well. I looked into your request, and I had to pull a few strings, but I got what you wanted." She smiled then. "Congratulations, Lt. Mark Renard. You are now officially part of Starfleet, assigned to Engineering on the USS Voyager. Dr. Bashir is a former..." The image hesitated, then continued, "a former acquaintance of Steve's. He'll provide Voyager's medical staff with the necessary files on you, so that you won't have to undergo any physical examinations upon boarding."

Mulder saw Lynn pause, and took the opportunity to ask a question. "What about Denise?"

The image of his friend smiled. "Somehow I knew you'd ask that." She shook her head. "Sorry, Felix. She'll have to stay on DS9. It was hard enough getting you on board at this late date. Voyager has some of our most advanced technology. People have been waiting for assignments on board that ship for months. There just wasn't any more room."

Mulder sighed, nodding. "I was afraid of that. She's not going to be happy about this. But thanks anyway, Lynn. I owe you."

Nechayev shook her head, smiling back. "I'm just repaying a debt long overdue, old friend," she replied softly. "Good luck, Lt. Renard," she said, the hologram image winking out with the end of the message.

Next to Mulder, Bashir looked on in surprise. The Admiral had looked almost... human, he thought. He knew of Fleet Admiral Nechayev, of course. Who in Starfleet didn't? The woman was considered to be a harsh, by the book officer. He would've sworn that this was the first time he'd ever seen her smile. He turned to glance at the recipient of the message. Who was this man, he wondered, that evoked such a response from possibly the most frigid person in Starfleet? His thoughts were interrupted by his new acquaintance.

"Thank you for your help, doctor," Mulder said.

Bashir shrugged. "Steve and I go back a long way. It was the least I could do for him."

A dark eyebrow rose at the man's words, hazel eyes going automatically to the other man's wrist in search of a distinctive tattoo.

Bashir let out a bitter laugh, noting the other's scrutiny. "No, I'm not a Watcher. I'm happy to leave that particular chore to others like Steve."

"Yet you know of us?" Mulder asked, curious. While the man had been courteous throughout, he couldn't help feeling that the doctor didn't particularly like him. Yet Byers had personally vouched for this friend of his.

Bashir shrugged. "Sometimes I wish I didn't," he sighed. "It's brought me nothing but heartache. Part of the reason I came to DS9 was to forget about immortals and the Game."

"Oh?"

"Did you know that humans are among the handful of races that still practice this inane ritualistic combat?" Bashir ground out, his eyes flashing. "After all our advancements..." He sighed, shaking his head. "I bet you have your sword on you right now."

Mulder's eyes narrowed at the man's heated statement. He took a breath, then asked softly, "Who did you lose to the Game?"

Bashir froze, staring back at him. "A good friend of mine, and of Steve's. She didn't have to die, but I saw her... saw the Quickening. Steve held me back, said I couldn't interfere." He paused, taking in a deep breath. "I've never hated anyone as much as I hated him then. I saw it, but I still couldn't believe she was gone." A moment of silence. Then, "Damn it, she was even younger than I am now."

"I'm sorry," Mulder said with heartfelt sympathy. "If it makes any difference, I stopped believing in the Game a long time ago myself. I hardly if ever carry my sword around anymore, although I still practice, and I've never taken a Quickening in my life."

Bashir's eyes widened at the man's confession. Steve had told him how old he was, over four centuries. And after the incident with their friend, had also revealed the truth about immortals in an attempt to get him to join the Watchers, but without success. To have never taken a single Quickening in all that time... He almost couldn't believe it. He looked at Mulder with newfound respect in his eyes. He shook his head, speechless. "I don't know what to say," he finally said.

Mulder shrugged. "Maybe we could start again." He extended his hand. "Hi, my current alias is Felix Leiter... well, Mark Renard now, I suppose. But my real name is Fox Mulder."

"Julian Bashir," the doctor replied, a small smile on his face. "And I really am glad to have met you."

"Good," Mulder said, smiling back. Noting the sudden quiet, he realized that the current song had ended, the singer having noticed the new arrivals. He saw the tuxedo garbed man walking in their direction. "Doctor, I'd like to introduce you to a once good friend of mine. He's long dead now, of course, but I wrote this entire program," Mulder said, gesturing around the lounge, "in his memory. He was always wishing for the good old days."

"Oh?" Bashir asked, turning to see the singer walk up to them.

"Felix," the singer greeted Mulder, a welcoming smile on his face.

"Vic," Mulder replied, smiling. "How the hell have you been?"

"Oh, not bad. You know how this business is...," the hologram shrugged. "So who's the uniform?" he asked, glancing at Bashir.

"Vic, I'd like you to meet Dr. Julian Bashir. He's a friend of Steve's."

"Well, any friend of Steve's is certainly welcome at Vic's." The hologram extended a hand in Bashir's direction.

"A pleasure to meet you Vic," Bashir replied. "I loved the song."

"Thanks for the compliment, doc. To tell you the truth, I wasn't that good in real life. But Felix here mixed in some of Sinatra's personality into my parameters, and as they say in France, la voilà, eh pally?" the man grinned.

Bashir's eyes widened at the remark. "You know..." He turned to Mulder. "He knows he's a hologram?"

"Oh yes," Mulder replied. "He's nowhere near sentience, of course, but he's much more self-aware than the run of the mill hologram. It makes the songs that much more expressive." He snorted. "Also crunches holodeck resources for breakfast."

"Incredible," Bashir whispered, looking back at the hologram, who simply shrugged at Mulder's words.

"Well, it was a pleasure doc, but my next set's coming up. But please, stay a while, relax, enjoy the music."

"I'll do that, Vic," Bashir replied, watching the hologram walk back towards the stage, stopping to chat with some of the customers along the way. As the next song started up, Bashir turned to Mulder. "The Admiral said you were going to be on board Voyager for a while. That means you won't be able to run Vic's program, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yeah," Mulder nodded. "But it's only for a few weeks. Why?"

"Well if you're going to leave the program behind, I was wondering if..."

Mulder chuckled, realizing what Julian was getting at. "You're welcome to the program anytime you feel like it, Julian."

"Thanks," Bashir grinned in reply, the two of them settling back to listen to the rest of Vic's music.


Visitors' quarters, Habitat Ring
Deep Space Nine
Wednesday, Apr 21, 2371
0817 hours

"Your Dr. Bashir's quite an interesting fellow."

The red-haired human onscreen grinned in reply. "I thought you might like him."

Mulder simply glared back at his friend. "You could have warned me, Byers. The man nearly took my head off."

"Figuratively speaking, of course," the ex-Watcher shot back, the grin still firmly etched onto his face. "Oh, come on, Felix. I knew everything would work out once you got to know him."

Beside Mulder, Scully simply shook her head in exasperation. "Men and their little mind games," she muttered.

"Hey, if you can't mess with your friends' minds, who can..."

"Oh keep going, Byers," Mulder cut him off. "We'll see who has a job the next time we're on Earth."

"I'm so scared. Face it, old man," Byers retorted, chuckling. "Without me, you'd be lost."

"Pffft...," Mulder snorted. "Is there a reason you called, Byers, or did you just wanna shoot the breeze?"

"Yeah, Byers," Scully said, looking at the communications console readout. "I'm seeing almost seven layers of encryption on this transmission, so something must be up," she added, a tinge of concern in her voice.

Immediately, the jovial visage of their friend sobered. He took a breath before continuing, "Actually, I did get some disturbing news yesterday, guys." He sighed. "Apparently, Admiral Paris has arranged for his son to be detained as soon as possible. According to his instructions, his men are to arrest young Mr. Paris if they reach DS9 in time, otherwise they remain on the station and escort him back to prison upon Voyager's return."

"Can he do that?" Scully wondered.

"He's an Admiral, Denise," Byers replied. "And his son is a convict, out on temporary parole. He has the right."

"It also means that the Admiral's running scared after what happened on the Enterprise. He was supposed to ensure no Starfleet missions got assigned to the area the Enterprise was in while Section 31 performed their experiment," Mulder reasoned.

"But that was a fluke, though," Scully protested. "It wasn't an official mission. He could hardly be expected to..."

"I doubt he sees it that way," Mulder sighed. "He might just be taking precautions to safeguard his son, I suppose," he said. "But there's also the possibility that Section 31 is after Paris Jr. as we speak. Voyager just might be the safest place for him right now."

"Unless they already have one of their own on board, of course," Byers cut in. "The ship's launch was pushed up because of this Maquis thing. Most of the senior positions had already been filled, but the brass had to fill some of the more junior positions on short notice. Someone from 31 could have easily gotten on board, just like you did, Felix. Actually, you have that to thank for Alynna getting you even the one posting that she did."

"Wait," Scully interrupted, a frown creasing her brow. "Did you say Lynn got only one posting?" She looked from Byers to her husband, waiting for an answer.

"Uh..., well...," Mulder winced at her tone.

On the screen, Byers' eyes had widened. Obviously, Mulder hadn't yet conveyed all of Admiral Nechayev's message to his wife. He almost sympathized with the man. He'd had first hand experience with the petite redhead's temper, and it wasn't something he'd wish on anyone.

"Mulder..." The ire in her voice was slowly growing.

"I'm sorry, Scully. Lynn could only get the one position. Even with the hurried staffing Byers mentioned, everyone wants to be on this ship. It's not my fault."

"And you didn't think to mention this yesterday night?" she asked hotly, her eyes flashing in anger.

"I was going to tell you." Mulder said defensively, shooting a glare at Byers, who simply shrugged in reply.

"Are you going to ditch me, Mulder?" Scully asked, her voice now lowering. "It's been a while, but I haven't forgotten the experience."

"What else can we do, Scully?" he asked plaintively. "We'll never get closer to Tom Paris than this. Do you want to throw away what may be our only chance to get to his father?"

"You heard Byers, Mulder. There might be an agent on board Voyager. And you'll be there without any backup."

"It's not like they can kill me, in case you've forgotten. If we wait till Voyager returns, it might be too late. We certainly can't follow Paris into prison." He reached for her hand, gently squeezing it. His voice dropped to a whisper, as he added with a small smile, "Besides, it'll only be for three weeks. After I return, maybe we can stop by Risa or something on our way back home?"

"Now you're trying to bribe me?" Scully asked incredulously, an auburn eyebrow shooting up her brow.

"Only if it's working," he replied cautiously. He ducked his head, an eyebrow rising to match hers in question. "Is it?"

Her eyes narrowed for a few seconds. Then her face cleared, relaxing as she appeared to consider the question. "Maybe," she reluctantly answered. "We'll see." Turning back to the screen, she snapped, "Get that grin off your face, Byers, or I'll tell your wife what you did to her boyfriend so that she'd go out with you."

Wincing at a memory he'd just as soon forget, Byers immediately dropped the grin.

"Better," Scully said. "And you...," she added, poking her forefinger in her husband's chest. In a blink of an eye, she'd grabbed the lapels of his shirt, pulling him down so his eyes were level with hers. "You'd better come back to me in one piece, you got that?"

"Sir, yes sir," Mulder replied cheekily.

"Bastard," Scully whispered, a small smile on her face.

"And you love me anyway," he whispered back, moving close enough to her that she could feel his breath caress her face.

"I think I'm going to be sick," the figure on the screen said, making vague gagging noises at the sight of the couple trading soft kisses with each other.

"Thanks for calling us, Byers. Go away now," Mulder shot over his shoulder, slapping at the console on his way to the bedroom as he followed behind his wife.

"That's gratitude for you," Byers muttered, shaking his head. "I tell you..." The rest of his words were cut off as the communications console shut down, leaving the living area in silence, uninterrupted except for some muffled sounds from the bedroom beyond.


Deck 4, Section 3
USS Voyager, Upper Docking Pylon 3
Thursday, Apr 22, 2371
1221 hours

It didn't happen quite as often anymore. But still, every now and then, she found herself starting at the sight of the extra pip in her reflection. She blinked at the woman she saw in the wall panel as she walked by. Captain... she was getting used to the new rank now. She closed her eyes for a moment, allowing herself to feel the ship, surrounding her. Her ship. It felt good just saying that. She allowed a small smile to stretch her lips as she listened to the faint echoes of her footsteps in the silence of the carpeted hallway.

The quiet didn't last, however. She opened her eyes to the sound of her footsteps mingling with several approaching ones. Rounding the corner, she came across the person she'd been looking for. "Mr. Lalkurta," she called out. Across the hallway, the stocky, barrel-chested Bolian came to a halt. Behind him, a squad of about a half dozen crewmen followed suit.

"Captain," he returned the greeting, nodding at her.

"Just the man I wanted to see. Do you have a few minutes, Lieutenant?"

"Of course, captain," he replied. Turning to the rest of the crewmen, he called out, "Xeral, Marks, take point." He stepped to the side, allowing the two he'd singled out to follow his instructions. "Continue with the drill until 1300 hours, then break."

Janeway watched as a tall, dark-haired woman with distinct feline features, and a wiry human stepped forward. They glanced at each other, nodded and began to jog down the hall past the lieutenant and the captain. The rest of the group fell into step behind them.

"How can I help you, captain?" Lalkurta asked, his brow crinkling to match the central ridge on his face.

"Walk with me, lieutenant," Janeway replied instead, moving past him down the corridor. He caught up with her, the two of them continuing down the hallway in silence. Finally, Janeway said, "I'm surprised security is already starting drills. I'm sure most of your division isn't even on board yet."

Lalkurta chuckled. "Actually, those were Voyager's senior security officers. The exercise isn't really designed for training. More to let them get familiar with Voyager's layout, become more comfortable here. This is going to be home for a while, and not that many people have been on an Intrepid class vessel before. Right now, when most of the crew is still on the station, seemed like the best time to get the exercises done most efficiently."

"Sounds like something Tuvok would do," Janeway commented wryly.

Lalkurta turned a sheepish glance towards his superior officer, the blue tinge on his face darkening slightly. "To tell you the truth, captain, it was Tuvok's idea. He left me quite a bit of material to get through while he's... away."

The reply garnered a small laugh. "It's good to know that security isn't losing any efficiency due to the absence of its section head."

"Of course not, captain!" the Bolian replied immediately. "As second-in-command of ship security, let me assure you, we intend to be ready for anything when we arrive at the Maquis base. You can count on us, captain."

"I never had any doubts, lieutenant," she assured him. "I have complete confidence in Tuvok's choices for his security team."

"He's an excellent teacher," Lalkurta agreed. "However, I'm looking forward to having him back where he belongs."

"I feel the same way, lieutenant. How is the rest of your section taking his absence?"

"They do consider it a bit strange," he admitted. "A first mission with a missing head of security." He shrugged. "With only a few senior officers privy to the finer details of our mission, the crewmembers are understandably a bit nervous. But I'm happy to report that security will be at peak efficiency by the time we leave."

"Excellent," Janeway acknowledged with a nod. She noticed the transporter room to her left, and came to a stop. "Very well then, lieutenant, carry on," she said in dismissal, turning to walk into the room.

"Captain," Lalkurta said in reply before turning and continuing on his way to meet up with the rest of his team.


Promenade, Upper level
Deep Space Nine
1233 hours

Janeway walked along the windows on the upper deck of the Promenade, glancing from the shops that lined the station's market district to the view outside the station. One such lazy sweep of the star-filled exterior caused her to pause. She moved closer to the window, watching in fascination as a small ship moved away from the station. She knew what lay in that direction, and she wasn't disappointed as, a moment later, the wormhole opened. It appeared to almost blossom outward, the fiery maelstrom seemingly swallowing the ship whole before winking back out of existence. Her breath caught at the beauty of the sight.

"I beheld the heavens open up, and saw the angels descend..."

She turned to see a tall, dark-haired human standing next to her, looking out the same window. For a split second, a sense of familiarity washed over her. She smiled faintly at him, noting the lieutenant's pips on his collar. "It does seem like that, doesn't it?" she murmured.

The man nodded, returning the smile as he turned to look down at her. "The Bajorans certainly seem to think so," he shrugged. "Lt. Mark Renard, captain," he introduced himself. "I was recently assigned to Voyager."

"Renard?" Janeway frowned, then nodded in realization. "Ah, yes, the late transfer. Engineering, if I'm not mistaken. I received your file a few days ago, Mr. Renard, and I must say, I was curious about the last minute assignment."

He grinned in reply. "The wonders of Starfleet bureaucracy, I would imagine. I requested this berth a while back, actually."

"And they wonder why more and more captains refuse the Admiral's chair," Janeway said with a wry smile.

"Well, at least the orders came through before you left," he replied. His eyes automatically traced the station superstructure outside the window, moving past the outer docking ring and up the adjacent pylon to the starship that seemed to literally hang above their heads. "She certainly is a magnificent ship."

"On that, lieutenant, we agree," Janeway remarked, an indulgent smile on her face as she mirrored his glance. "Well, it's good to have you with us, Mr. Renard. I'll see you on board tonight."

"Thank you, captain," he nodded in reply, stepping aside as Janeway brushed past him on her way down the Promenade. His eyes followed in her wake, lost in thought as he stared at her retreating figure for a few moments. The distinctive walk coupled with the sudden flash of starlight glinting off her hair had served to remind him of exactly who she was. Finally he sighed, then turned to head for his quarters. He had some packing to get done before he was scheduled to board Voyager.


Quark's Bar
2005 hours

She sat in one of the corner tables, silently nursing her drink. He'd been gone less than a half hour now, and already she missed him. And if she felt like this now, Dana Scully wondered how she'd be able to get through the next three weeks without Fox Mulder.

It wasn't the first time they'd been apart, not by a long shot. But this time... she couldn't quite put her finger on it, but it felt... different somehow. She knew that they'd agreed about him doing this alone. But then, she'd had that dream again...

She could still remember waking up that morning, drenched in sweat, shivering from the nightmare. She could almost feel Mulder's hands caressing her as he'd done then, hear his murmured words of comfort as he'd tried to soothe her, to calm her down. And she'd known then... she'd known with every fiber of her being that she couldn't let him go by himself. Why, she couldn't explain when he'd asked her. She allowed herself a small snort. Imagine, her, the scientist, begging him to forego boarding Voyager on the basis of a dream. She could completely understand the incredulous look he'd shot at her then. Hell, she now wondered what had possessed her to even consider the notion.

But she couldn't deny the twisted knot in her stomach every time she thought about Mulder and Voyager. She didn't understand the dream, but every instinct was telling her that it had something to do with Mulder and her. Of course, that hadn't stopped Mulder from going ahead with his plans. After all, it was only a dream, right? She tried to convince herself of that as she drained the last of her glass.

"Now I know there's got to be something the matter for a beautiful woman like yourself to be in here alone."

The voice broke through the thoughts running through her head. An auburn eyebrow rose at the blatant line. She put the glass back on the table, glancing up at the last person she'd expected to see standing in front of her.

"Tom Paris," the man said by way of introduction, smiling down at her. "Can I buy you a refill?" he asked, gesturing to her empty glass.

As Scully was trying to figure out a way to politely say no, she felt the slight tingle race up her spine. Glancing around, she reached out and grabbed the hand that appeared beside her, pulling the owner close to her. "Thanks, but as you can see, I'm not alone, am I, sweetheart?"

"Whatever you say... um, darling?" a flustered Jadzia Dax replied, a slightly confused frown on her face as she took a seat beside Scully.

Paris' smile suddenly looked a bit forced. "Oh," he finally said. "I... um..." His cheeks flushed as he helplessly glanced round, his eyes coming to rest on a human of Asian descent arguing with the Ferengi bartender. "I think I see a friend over there. If you'll excuse me, ladies," he hastily shot out, then turned and headed for the bar.

Behind him, Scully wore a self-satisfied smirk on her face as she turned to look at Dax.

"Having fun, Denise?" Jadzia asked, a faint smile tugging at her lips. She had a pretty good idea what had happened, having witnessed the few moments before she'd arrived at the table. Both she and Scully turned to glance behind them at the sudden sound of giggles.

The blue-skinned young woman seated at the next table held her drink to her lips, hiding the wide grin behind it. Green eyes twinkled behind the shock of blond hair. "That was priceless," she said, amusement coloring her tone. She looked from one to the other. "Say, are you two really together, or was that...?"

"Entirely for Mr. Paris' benefit, I'm afraid," Scully replied, smiling back at her. "Jadzia's a good friend, just not my type. By the way, I'm Denise," she introduced herself.

"Oh, I'm Leslie. I don't suppose either of you is assigned to Voyager?"

"Sorry," Scully shook her head. "Are you?"

"Mmmhmm... Ops. It's my first starship assignment," the young woman replied, the excitement obvious in her tone.

"Well, congratulations, Leslie."

"Thanks," the blonde replied. She looked up to see Paris and his friend leaving the bar. "Oh, looks like I'd better be getting back to Voyager. It was nice talking to you. Bye."

"Goodbye, Leslie," the two women replied. "And good luck." They watched the blonde hurry out of the bar, heading for the personnel transporters on her way back to her ship.

Jadzia smiled as she turned back to her friend, and immediately replaced the smile with a look of concern at the thoughtful expression on Scully's face. "Hey, you all right? That guy wasn't..."

"Oh no," Scully replied, turning to look at the Trill. "It's not that. It's just..."

"Let me guess, your husband?"

Scully sighed. "We'd decided that he was going to go on Voyager by himself. But I can't help feeling that something's going to go wrong."

"Well, there's always the element of risk on board any starship, Denise," Jadzia responded. "But Voyager's only going against a small group of rebels. Considering his unique abilities, I wouldn't worry too much."

"I know, but still..."

"Come on, let me buy you some dinner. There's this Klingon restaurant a few shops away." Dax grinned. "They make the best skull stew this side of the Alpha Quadrant."

"Oh, god..." Scully moaned at the mention of the uniquely Klingon dish. She knew Curzon had had a fondness for almost anything Klingon, from their culture to their cuisine. And it looked like Jadzia had inherited much of that through Dax.

"Relax, they serve other things too, you know. Come on. A full stomach does wonders to soothe the soul."

"We'll see," Scully sighed, getting up from the table. She quietly followed the Trill out of the bar, wondering if anything could help how she felt.


Visitors' quarters, Habitat Ring
Friday, Apr 23, 2371
0539 hours

The dream was different this time. There was no beach, no sand. This time, there was no soft sun shining down on them. Instead, a dark roiling sky above shadowed the two of them as they flew over the tumultuous clouds. He held her tight against him as they skimmed over the dirty grey rain clouds. The wind whistled past, chilling her to the bone, her light clothes woefully ineffectual at warding off the cold.

She tried to burrow into him, reaching for that elusive warmth that seemed just beyond reach. She shivered, feeling him slowing down. A few moments later, they simply hung there, surrounded above and below by the layers of cloud cover. She pulled back, looking up at his face in question. Noticing his eyes fixed on something in the distance, she followed his gaze. And saw it, a few hundred meters in front of them. A dark shape, looming up through the dense clouds below.

He flew closer, until they could clearly make out the details of the shape. It was the peak of the mountain, she realized. The one she'd seen from the beach in each previous dream. Even as she watched, the protruding rock seemed to tremble, the very air shimmering with whatever force was affecting it. She glanced back at him, noting the worried look on his face.

He lowered her gently onto a cloud that passed by. Curiously, as dreams are wont to be, the cloud held her weight. She peered over its edge, watching his lithe figure slice through the turbulent air on his way to the mountaintop. She saw him disappear beneath the grey canopy, and she knew. How, she couldn't explain, even to herself, but she could feel it. Deep in the recesses of her very soul. She felt the shudder as the cloud tilted, nearly throwing her off. She watched in horror as the rock seemed to virtually disintegrate before her eyes. The dark shape disappeared beneath the cloud cover, the entire sky beneath her seeming to shiver at the loss of apparent support. She clutched at the powder puff underneath her feet, desperately holding on as her eyes searched the skies for him.

She cried out for him, calling out his name, to little effect. She'd stood with him on that mountain, she'd bathed with him in the sea below, and they'd lain that way for nearly four centuries. But now, even as she watched helplessly, the sky was falling. And she could do precious little to stop it.

A few light-years away from the space station, in an area of space known as the Badlands, a wave of polarized magnetic variation engulfed a starship fleeing the plasma field.

Back at the station, in an unassuming room in the habitat ring, a lone figure gasped, sitting up in her bed, the sheets cascading off her body as she whispered one word...

"Mulder..."

The End


End Notes

Sweet Dreams was something of a blip in the story timeline. I was feeling a bit impatient, and wanted to delve into the startrek phase of the series. I never expected all the emails wondering how Mulder got on Voyager. So now you know. And I'm finally caught up to the events in Sweet Dreams.

About this story itself... the title is from that song that Mulder and Scully danced to way back in part 4, Crossover. Anyone still remember it? ;) Also, I finally figured out a few more details about immortality. Like the El-Aurians, I decided to make all Trill symbionts immortal as well. Anyone notice that Jadzia felt the buzz in her stomach? And how many of you read that part about Mulder never having taken a Quickening and went, naah, impossible? I always wondered if it would be possible to do this without becoming like Darius and staying locked away in a church. Of course, the intervening years are going to be somewhat interesting to write (hint, hint ;).

Anyway, I know I said up in the header notes that I put in some new loose ends in here. But now that I reread this thing, I was a bit surprised how low key they turned out to be. I did try to set the stage for a couple of stories set after this one, but not too obviously, I think.

The next one I have in mind is another TNG crossover, I think. And it'll definitely be longer than this one. So till then, hope you enjoyed the read. And if you liked this one or the ones before enough to send feedback, the address is unmai@bigfoot.com. Later...

Futures Past Chronology:

01 - The Awakening(Oct 1997)
02 - The Light of Day(Jan 1998)
03 - My Funny Valentine(Feb 1998)
04 - Crossover(Feb 1998)
05 - Flying Lessons(Feb 1998)
06 - Hazel + Gold = Green(Mar 1998)
07 - Phoenix(May 1998)
08 - Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This(Dec 2010, Sep 2374)
09 - From the Ashes(Dec 1998, Mar 2371)
10 - Tchaikovsky Unbound(Jun 1998)
11 - Fallen Skies(Apr 2371)

Futures Past 10:
Tchaikovsky Unbound
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