Darrel W. Beach

Feb, 1999
HTMLized July, 1999

Dedicated in memory of George D. Morgan, whose departure from this world reminds us how much any any life, no matter how brief, adds to the whole of our existence.

The following presentation is rated G.

     O'Brien shut off the vidscreen and sat there in a stunned silence. The news still seemed unbelievable, even though he had already replayed the message four times. It was just...well, hard to believe. A man he had known for over 37 years. A man with the most determined sense of survival that he had ever had the privilege of serving with. Gone.
     He half expected to hear the sound of Keiko walking in from one of the bedrooms, but knew it wouldn't happen. She and Molly were both presently residing in some small village down on Bajor while his wife partook in a geological research project. Right now he would have given anything to hear her concerned voice asking him what was wrong. He would have laid bare his whole soul for her just then. As such, though, his only audience was the bulkheads of their quarters. He needed more consoling than that. There was one place he could think of that could provide all the comforting he required.

     Dr. Bashir entered Quark's with the full intention of enjoying himself. He planned to have a few drinks and chat up Leeta, the new Dabo girl. Leeta had caught his eye for quite some time now. With the dresses Quark made her wear it was no wonder. He sidled up to the bar and waited for the Ferengi bartender to finish serving a denizen of parched patrons. After a few minutes Quark made his way over. "Doctor Bashir, how nice to see you this evening. What can I get for you?"
     "A Rigelian Sunrise, please."
     "Coming right up," Quark cheerfully replied, grabbing a couple of bottles from beneath the bar.
     "You're in a good mood tonight."
     "What can I say? Business has been very good tonight. People drink a lot more when they're in a really good mood, and I've got a really happy crowd here tonight. Well, except for Chief O'Brien, anyway." He nodded to the far end of the room. "He came in ten minutes ago looking the same way he does now and he's already on his third drink. He wouldn't say what was wrong. I'd go over to check on him but I've been swamped." He finished mixing the drink and set it in front of the doctor. "One Rigelian Sunrise."
     Bashir looked over his shoulder and around several bodies to spot the engineer sitting by himself with a large, half-finished mug of ale. Worry took hold at the man's look of misery. Leeta could wait another night. He distractedly picked up his cocktail from the bar. "Thank you, Quark." He moved away from the bar, intent to give confidence to the chief.
     "I'll be right here if you need anything else, Doctor."
     Bashir weaved his way through the crowded room. "Mind if I join you, Chief?"
     O'Brien glanced up from rim of his glass and grunted. "Suit yourself," he replied tersely.
     Julian sat down and took a cautious sip of his drink. He examined the frown lines on O'Brien's face and felt a heaviness settle into his own features. "What's wrong, Miles? Quark tells me you've been trying to drown yourself with synthehol."
     The chief drained half his glass before replying. "I just found out that my best friend was killed in a Maquis raid. His wife sent me a message a half hour ago. His ship was delivering supplies to the Rudimar colony when they got jumped."
     Bashir's face sagged. "Oh, that's terrible, Miles. I'm sorry. How long did you know him?"
     "Me and Daniel were friends since we were kids back in Dublin. You couldn't separate us. We were like brothers." He stopped abruptly and grabbed a passing waiter by the sleeve. "Another pint of bitters, and make it quick. I'm almost finished this one."
     Julian looked on with concern as the rattled Ferengi waiter scuttled hurriedly back to the bar. "Miles, perhaps you should slow down a little. You could make yourself sick."
     O'Brien scowled at his tablemate. "I knew Daniel for over 30 years, Doctor. I'll pay my respects to him in whatever bloody way I feel like. We went to the same schools, played on the same teams, we even enlisted together. We took our training at the same base and got signed on to the Rutledge where we served together for 7 years. You never met a more wily, pig-headed cuss than Daniel. It didn't matter what kind of trouble our unit got into, he'd find a way to get us out. That man saved my life more times than I can remember. He never deserved to die in an ambush."
     "Probably not, Chief. These things just happen sometimes, though."
     "You didn't know Daniel," O'Brien shot back, tipping his mug back and emptying it into his gullet. "What would you know about it?"
     "Miles," Julian sighed. "You're right, I didn't know your friend, but I am a doctor. I've always felt that every patient I've ever lost never truly deserved to die, thinking that there must have been something more I could have done to save them. It's never easy to admit that sometimes there's nothing you can do to prevent a death. Believe me, I understand what you're feeling."
     O'Brien's face softened to a lamentable gaze. "I'm sorry, Julian. It's just that we went back a long way."
     "It's all right, Chief. Someone very close to you has passed on. It's natural to feel protective of that loss."
     The chief smiled weakly. "Thanks, Julian." A brimming glass of ale was set in front of him, and the waiter scurried away before he was rough- housed again. O'Brien picked up the mug and looked at it thoughtfully. "Care to join me in a toast?"
     "I would be honored, Chief."
     O'Brien held his glass up, pausing to think of the appropriate words. "To Daniel, the toughest, surliest, stubbornest, most foul-mouthed sod ever to wear a Starfleet uniform, and the greatest man I ever knew: may you walk proudly among your ancestors in the field of God, knowing you served kin and country and the Federation with a good and noble heart. While you are no longer with us, your dedication and sacrifice will forever live on in the memories of those who knew you and loved you. Peace be with you, old friend."
     "To Daniel," cheered Bashir, raising his drink in toast with the chief's. The glasses clinked in an odd tone as they struck together, but Julian didn't notice. Apparently, neither did Chief O'Brien. What mattered most was sharing the moment of camaraderie and mourning the loss of a life taken before its time.

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