Jim and Blair walked into Quark’s. The place looked fairly empty—maybe it was the Klingons at the Dabo tables. They tended to scare other customers away. Quark saw the two of them enter and hurried over.
“There’s nothing illegal going on here, Lieutenant. I’ll thank you to just turn around and leave.”
“Now, Quark. You shouldn’t be trying to get rid of paying customers. It doesn’t look like you can afford to.”
“If you’re spending money, that’s different. Rom will get your drinks.” He raised his voice, leaning towards the bar so Rom would hear him. “That is if my lazy brother decides to earn his keep tonight.”
Lita frowned at Quark. “You shouldn’t be so mean to him. He is your brother, after all.”
“A brother’s sweat is worth its weight in latinum--174th Rule of Acquisition (author’s note: I made this one up). Now don’t you have to be somewhere with those drinks?” Lita walked off in a huff. Quark left Jim and Blair at the bar.
Jim looked at the stools at the bar. “Let’s sit here.”
“But I want to sit at the other end.”
“Trust me, Sandburg. This stool here will be much more comfortable.” Jim whacked the seat a few times.
Blair gave Jim a funny look. “Uh, sure. If you insist.”
“I’m Rom. Can I get you something to drink?”
Blair looked a little embarrassed as he fumbled in the pouch he had hanging from his belt. He couldn’t afford to be blowing money on drinks, but if Jim thought coming here would help Theryl…
Jim noticed him carefully counting what didn’t look like a lot of money. He turned to Rom. “Two Vulcan Tam’pars. I’m buying, Sandburg. As long as you’re old enough to drink that is.”
“Very funny. I’ve been legal for a long time, Jim. Besides, I happen to know that Vulcan drinks are strong, but don’t have any alcohol.” He was relieved Jim was buying, but shouldn’t they be doing something besides hanging out at the bar?
“Well, I don’t want us getting drunk when we’re supposed to be looking for information.” It occurred to him that he was dragging Sandburg with him on the trail of a would-be killer. “I know you want to help your friend, but this could get dangerous. Maybe you should go back to your quarters and let me handle this.”
“No way, man! He tried to kill my friend! I want to help catch him. Besides, what if you need my help with your senses?”
“Can we talk about that later?” Jim gave him a quelling look.
“Ok, but I’m not staying behind. You’re stuck with me.” Blair started squirming around in his seat. “Hey, I thought you said these were good seats.” He gave it a couple of punches. “This one’s really lumpy.”
Jim had a hard time keeping a straight face. He would tell the kid later. “You just need to stay for a while longer. I’m waiting for Quark to go into his office.”
“So we can have a private chat with him.”
“Do you think he’ll give us anything useful?”
Jim had a strange smile on his face. “Oh, I’m sure he will.”
The two of them sat at the bar, nursing their drinks. Jim kept an eye on Quark. After about twenty minutes he saw the Ferengi head for his office to count the money from the shift. The two of them quickly followed, Jim catching the door before it could go shut.
“You can’t come in here! Employees only.”
“Don’t worry. We’re not really here. In fact, we never had the conversation we’re about to have, either. Got it?”
“What do you want?”
“We want a little information. We need to find out who’s been buying Cardassian disruptors on the station.”
“Disruptors are banned weapons in Bajoran space. I wouldn’t know anything about them.”
“I’m sure you know lots of things. Like exactly how much water to put in blood wine so you save money and the Klingons don’t notice their drinks have been watered. And how to make the Dabo wheel land on numbers that favor the house. I wonder what the Klingons would do if they found out? I’m sure there wouldn’t be any problems, though. You could just talk to them—you know how rational and reasonable Klingons are.” He leaned across Quark’s desk. “Now. Are you going to tell me what you know, or should I tell the Klingons what I know?” Jim could see Quark thinking about what four angry Klingons would do to him and his bar.
“Well, I have heard some rumors… I don’t know who’s been buying…” Jim leaned closer. “I don’t! But if you’re looking for the seller, there’s a Zerite trader named Bendelay hanging around. Rumor has it he can get you any kind of hand weapon you can afford. But you didn’t hear it from me.”
“Of course not. And, of course, you haven’t had any dealings with him yourself.”
Quark adopted a self-righteous air. “I run a legitimate establishment. If certain criminals conduct their business here, how can I stop them if I don’t know anything about it? Isn’t that your job?”
“Yes it is. And as soon as we take care of this case, I’ll be back here to keep an eye on your place. I wouldn’t want you to accidentally get mixed up with the criminal element.” Jim smiled innocently at Quark and left the office, Sandburg right behind him. The two of them walked back to the bar.
“Wow! That was great. How did you know he wouldn’t call your bluff?”
“I wasn’t bluffing. I’ve been in here several times and he always waters the drinks. I think these Ferengi have it down to an art form. Didn’t you notice how much different the second Tam’par you drank was from the first? The first drink is always perfect. Then each one after that gets progressively weaker. They water the alcoholic beverages down faster than the non-alcoholic ones. I guess they figure if you’re drunk, you won’t be as likely to notice. I’m also betting they do it differently depending on the species. Some races might pick up on that quicker than others.” He looked over to see that Blair was staring at him open-mouthed.
Blair’s voice was barely a whisper. “Taste. You have super taste buds, too. I didn’t notice anything about the drinks at all. I can’t believe it! Four—four out of five! After we find this guy, we need to run some tests on your senses!”
“I don’t think so, Chief. I’ve done way too many tests lately and I’m sick of them.”
“But those were tests to find out what was wrong with you. These are tests to help you learn how to use your gifts.”
“Gifts? You call these crazy heightened senses gifts? I wish I’d gotten a pair of socks instead. At least those I could’ve exchanged.” Jim tossed some latinum on the bar. When Rom took the money and left, Jim spoke as if talking to no one in particular. “I’ll save you the trouble of harassing Quark yourself--unless you want to. He doesn’t know who bought the Cardassian disruptor, but he said there’s someone selling weapons on-station named Bendelay, a Zerite trader. And the attempted killer you’re looking for is a Bajoran male.” He turned and walked out of Quark’s, a confused Blair hurrying to keep up.
“Uh, Jim? You want to tell me what that was about? Who were you talking to?”
Jim had a strange gleam in his eye. “Chief, you have just had the honor of meeting the head of security on DS9, Constable Odo.”
Blair glanced behind him. “Where? I didn’t see anyone.”
“You wouldn’t. You were sitting on him. He’s a shape-changer—can turn himself into practically anything. He makes a good wall, but a lousy barstool.”
“Aw, man. No. Don’t even tell me that.” He looked at Jim who couldn’t quite keep a straight face. “You’re serious.” The two of them headed back to Jim’s quarters while Blair continued to mutter, ‘I can’t believe I was sitting on him’, over and over.