".....ashir, there he is."
"Ssh! He'll hear you. Over in the corner by the plant."
"His appearance is a lot younger than I had been given to expect."
A deep Klingon voice.
"And a lot cuter..."
"If you like the pretty type."
Disdain in the second human's voice.
*Thank you, young man, but I'm thirtysomething and well past pretty.*
Muffled laughter again.
"He doesn't look like a spy."
A Bolian accent.
He glanced casually around the Replimat, ending at the table that held him under discussion. Two humans; a solidly built blonde male and a small dark-haired female with Eurasian features, sitting with a Klingon male and a slender female Bolian. All were ensigns, Science blue and Engineering yellow. He didn't recognise any of them. They caught his gaze and hurriedly turned to their plates, the female human smiling almost coyly before she did so.
The sound of food consumption for several minutes.
"Do you think he heard us?"
The Bolian again.
"He's across the room for god's sake."
"But he's, you know..."
"Only mentally, I think."
"You mean he got that body naturally? I'd like to run a few tests on that theory."
"Shian, get your mind out of the gutter."
"After you, Gregor."
"So you think he really does work for Starfleet Intelligence? He doesn't look like a spy."
The Bolian was obviously not one to give up a line of enquiry.
"What does a spy look like? I would have said someone with a reputation like his would be the perfect choice." Shian's voice turned almost dreamy "I wonder whether the personal parts are true..."
"Anyway, who's to say he works for Starfleet? I heard he was very chummy with the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shi'ar."
"Greg!" the word was hissed "That's not even funny! You've seen his record! You know what he went through during the war!"
*No, my dear, you don't. But that doesn't bother me in the slightest. Some things should be kept from the innocent.*
"That does not mean he is not a spy. I would surmise his work on Cardassia gives him wide opportunity for espionage."
*Are you sure you aren't a Vulcan under that Klingon hide?* his appetite for dessert had suddenly vanished along with his taste for the conversation.
"Come on Del'eek, the man's practically a national hero on Cardassia."
*Considering what usually happens to 'national heroes' on Cardassia, that is not necessarily a desirable status.*
"Exactly my point!" the male ensign jumped in again "He spends all his leave there and..."
*What's this? Even the junior staff keeps track of me nowadays?*
"And he's a doctor. The Cardassians desperately need medical aid. It may have been three years but their homeworld's still in chaos."
"Yes, and who do they have to blame for that?"
"I know, I know, I'm sorry. It's just it's so hard to forget sometimes...."
"No-one asks you to forget,"
Julian turned his head to see the Bolian stretch across the table and place a hand over the male ensign's.
"Just to forgive. Those who suffer now are not our enemies. Nor do they deserve the price they pay for their leaders' actions. To aid them heal is to aid ourselves heal. It will not be easy, but it is right. Is this not why we are in Starfleet?"
There was several seconds' silence after the Bolian's speech, then the Klingon placed his hand over hers', swiftly followed by Shian. Gregor placed his hand on top of them all and the four figures stilled into a tableau as they silently pledged their allegiance - to Starfleet and each other.
Gregor gave a shaky laugh and the intensity of the moment was broken. The four returned to their meals in an embarrassed clatter of cutlery.
A figure dressed in Science blue with Lt.Commander's pips paused by their table.
"Hello, I'm Dr Bashir, the CMO."
"Sir!" the ensigns made as if to stand up, but Julian waved them down.
"No, no, finish your lunch. I assume you just got assigned here?"
"How did you know that?" Shian almost gasped.
Julian smiled gently "I always do the initial medical check-ups for staff myself and I haven't seen any of you before. The "Fortitude" also just delivered the latest transfers. You came in with them, Ensign... ?" the statement tailed off into a query.
"Ensign Ling Shian, Engineering, sir."
Julian directed his gaze at the others.
"Ensign Gregor Duretev, Astrophysics, sir!"
*A little stiff there. Hoping I didn't hear what you said? Never mind, you're young. You'll learn.*
"Ensign Del'eek, Engineering, sir."
"Ensign Teleti Dop, Biomed lab, sir."
"So we'll be working together then, Ensign Dop."
The Bolian looked discomforted.
"Yes, sir. I have heard much of your work and I look forward to the honour of serving under you."
*If you could blush like a human, you'd be scarlet* Julian's smile deepened.
"Tell me that again in six months! Well, welcome to Deep Space Nine, Ensigns."
"Thank you sir," Gregor murmured.
"Sir! Can I ask you a question?" Ensign Dop straightened in her seat. The other ensigns exchanged apprehensive glances. Encouraged by the lack of a negative response, the Bolian continued, "Sir, is it true you were a spy during the war?"
"Teleti!" Del'eek hissed. Gregor closed his eyes in embarrassment. However both the Bolian and Shian stared at him in wide-eyed query. Ten years contracted and twisted in a split second and Julian knew there was only one thing he could say.
He feigned surprise.
"Really Ensign, wherever did you hear that nonsense? I'm just a plain, simple doctor."