Jim hurried to make it to Odo’s office. He was already five minutes late. Something strange had happened on his way to Security. As he’d walked on the promenade, a flash of color caught his gaze. For some reason, he’d been unable to tear his eyes away from the crystal merchant’s stall. The way each gem had shimmered and sparkled in the light pulled him in. Jim had stood there for almost ten minutes, completely mesmerized until the sound of someone breaking glass near him broke the spell. He straightened his uniform and took a deep breath before entering Odo’s office.
“Sir. Lieutenant Ellison reporting for duty.” There was that smell again—that earthy scent. The office reeked of it. Was that Constable Odo?
“Seven minutes late.”
“Yes, sir. I got…turned around and went the wrong way.”
“You’ll have plenty of time for sight-seeing later, Lieutenant. I’ve been reviewing your service record. Your early career was very promising—commendations, promotions, glowing reports. Then a year or so ago your behavior became erratic. It was right after you were found on the Cardassian prison planet Daknar, wasn’t it?”
Jim said nothing. Tried to not even betray anything with his face. He didn’t remember everything that happened to him on Daknar. And the things he did remember he wanted to forget.
Odo hadn’t expected him to say anything. He wasn’t Ellison’s confidante, not even an acquaintance at this point. “I suggest you talk to Chief Miles O’Brien sometime. He’s had a lot of experience with the Cardassians and their…hospitality.”
Jim practically growled. “Is that an order, sir?”
“Merely a suggestion. I’ve been warned by several captains that you’re an unreliable loose canon who can’t seem to work with others. And then there’s a Captain Banks who swears that you’re one of the finest officers he’s ever served with. I like to make up my own mind about people I have to work with. So I don’t care what you do in your spare time, lieutenant. I don’t even care if you have the personality and attitude of a Nausican Raider as long as it doesn’t interfere with your duties. Do your job and do it well, we’ll get along just fine. Now I suggest—and that is an order—you take the next few hours to more completely familiarize yourself with the layout of the station. At 0900 you will report to Lieutenant Commander Taggert in front of Quark’s. Dismissed.”
“Yes, sir.” Jim turned and left the office. So, the Constable didn’t care what he was like or what he did as long as it didn’t affect his job. Did that mean he could just sit in his quarters and go insane as long as he did it on his own time? Unfortunately, Jim was afraid that his problem would start affecting his work. His actual performance levels had slid somewhat, but he was still a decent officer. His interpersonal skills, however, had plummeted dramatically. That incident on the Rainier…he had been off duty at the time, relaxing in the ship’s lounge. But it’s never acceptable to punch a fellow officer. He had been unable to tell the inquiry board why he’d hit Lieutenant Commander Sorensen. Would they have believed it was because the man had been gnashing his teeth since the beginning of their mission together? Off and on for three months Jim had endured the unbearable sound of that grinding and grinding. Why hadn’t anyone else been bothered by it when it was so loud? Maybe Jim was just marking time, just waiting for the big incident that would take him out of the game forever. He only hoped he didn’t take anyone else with him when he went.
Jim walked around the station, memorizing all the corridors and major attractions. He didn’t want to screw this up. He found himself at Quark’s early and went in. He sat down for a minute to take in the surroundings.
A perky brunette approached him almost immediately. “Hi there! My name’s Lita. Would you like something to drink?”
“No thank you.”
“How about a spin at the Dabo wheel? Today could be your lucky day.”
“I don’t think so. I’m not good at games of chance and today’s not looking real good. I don’t think wasting latinum is going to brighten it any.”
“Come on. You won’t know unless…”
“I said no! Now leave me alone.” He didn’t look at her as she walked back over to the Dabo tables. He listened as the wheel spun, clicking slower and slower as it came to a stop. Someone shouted as her lucky number came up. After a few minutes, he found himself concentrating only on that sound, everything else hazing out of focus.
He blinked to find the girl Lita staring at him with a worried look on her face. A Ferengi bartender stood at her side. He was saying something. “Thank the Nagus you’re all right. I thought maybe you were dead.”
“Well you know Quark would dock my pay if someone died in the bar. He says it’s bad for business.”
“Don’t pay any attention to him. Lieutenant, isn’t it? We were worried for a few minutes. You got this blank look on your face and almost fell off the barstool. We couldn’t get you to wake up. Are you ok now?”
“I’m fine. Thank you. I’m sorry I scared you. I’d better go.” He jumped up and headed for the exit.
Dr. Julian Bashir and his good friend Chief Miles O’Brien were entering the bar as Jim brushed past them. Julian walked over to Lita and Rom. “What’s wrong with him?”
The rest of Jim’s day went surprisingly well. First, he captured a pickpocket on the Promenade. Then later, he caught someone trying to fence stolen goods at Quark’s. Quark swore he had no idea such a thing was going on in his establishment, but everyone knew he was lying. Quark had made sure there was no way to connect it to him, though. Odo seemed mildly impressed with Jim’s discovery. Which given what he’d seen of the hard-nosed Constable, was high praise. Apparently Odo had made Quark his own special project. Jim decided to help him keep a close eye on the Ferengi from now on. Maybe DS9 wouldn’t be so bad after all.