The next morning Chris arrived at the infirmary to hear Nathan and Vin arguing. Dr. Bashir was standing by one of the consoles with a smile on his face. Chris walked over and greeted him.
"So, how long have they been at it?" he asked.
"Not that long," Julian said. I have to admit I find Lieutenant Tanner fascinating."
"He can be a handful," Chris admitted. "But he's the best pilot around."
"Mind if I ask you something," Julian inquired.
"You can ask, I won't necessary answer," Chris smiled.
"Fair enough," Julian smiled in return. "What's it like dealing with Lieutenant Tanner?"
"Actually you never know he's there half the time," Chris said. "He just makes a lousy patient. That's why he's being so vocal."
"I just find it interesting that physically he's a Vulcan," Bashir began. "But mentally he's completely human."
"His parents were also from Texas," Chris laughed. "So he sometimes uses odd words."
"Does he know how to do any Vulcan mind techniques?" Bashir asked eagerly. "Or those complex mathematical problems that they can solve instantly?"
"Vin has never been one for math," Chris said. "He can do fast calculations on navigational problems but not much else, except counting cards when we play poker. As to mind techniques he can mind meld but he doesn't like to."
Further discussion was interrupted when Vin and Nathan walked towards them. Lila followed at Vin's side.
"Hey Chris," Vin smiled. "Nathan told me about Lila . Was Tulara mad?"
"No, she was amused," Chris said. "What are you doing up?"
"I'm fine," Vin said. "Besides, I'm starving."
"Nathan," Chris said looking towards the fuming medical officer. "Should he be up?"
"I wanted him to stay here for another day," Nathan answered.
"But Dr. Bashir said I could get up if I took it easy," Vin argued.
"Hold on," Julian laughed. "I said it was up to Nathan."
"Come on Chris," Vin pleaded. "I wanted to see the station. I've heard so much about it. I also want to see the wormhole. Do you think they'll let us go through it? I've never been through one."
"Whoa!" Chris said holding up his hands. "Has he been like this all morning?"
"I'm afraid so," Julian admitted. "He was awake and he asked if he could see the schematics of the station. I figured what could it hurt. I never realized I was creating a monster."
"But I'm not a monster," Vin protested.
"Let's go get some breakfast and leave Dr. Bashir in peace," Chris suggested.
"Actually I'd like to tag along if I could?' he asked.
"Sure you can tell me more about the station," Vin agreed.
Nathan led the way to the habitation ring. Chris noticed Julian watching Vin. He couldn't blame the young doctor for being curious.
"Wait until you see his eating habits," Chris commented.
"I beg your pardon?" Julian said as he turned to the captain.
"Vin has a sweet tooth," Chris said. "You'll cringe at what he eats for breakfast."
Julian observed Nathan and Chris with the Vulcan also. As soon as they came to an area with more people they flanked the Vulcan. Vin's behavior also changed. He was quieter and observed everyone but also tried not to draw attention to himself. Last Julian observed the people around them. No one seemed interested in the four officers and he guessed that people assumed they were all humans. Julian suggested they go to Quark's. When they walked in they saw a heated game of Dabo being played. Ezra could be seen raking in his winnings and smiling at the Dabo girls.
"Didn't we leave him here last night?" Nathan asked.
"Yes you did," said an annoyed Ferengi. "And I'd appreciate it if you would take him with you when you go this time."
"Why Quark, what's the matter?" Julian asked. "Is he beating the house?"
"Yes he is," Quark grumbled. "He's got to be cheating."
"Ezra doesn't cheat!" Vin said defensively, conveniently forgetting that he had accused the security officer of doing exactly that on numerous occasions.
"Easy Hu-mon" Quark said pronouncing 'human' oddly. "I know a cheat when I see one."
"Hold on Vin," Chris said grabbing his arm as he stood.
"Is there a problem here?" Odo asked as he walked up.
"No Constable," Julian said. "Quark just acused their friend of cheating at the Dabo table."
"In other words, he's figured a way around Quark's rigged tables," Odo said with a smile. "And it's making you nervous."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Quark hedged. "If you'll excuse me."
"If the tables rigged why do they play?" Vin asked curious.
"Because it's the only one around," Odo answered. "Quark isn't stupid. He lets the players win enough to keep them interested but they lose more than they win."
"Dabo!" Ezra yelled over the bells and whistles.
"Captain," Quark came back over. "Isn't there a regulation against gambling or something? He's killing me."
"I'll get him," Vin offered.
"So that's the Vulcan," Odo said as he watched Vin walk over to Ezra.
"That's a Vulcan!" Quark laughed. "Odo you need your eyes checked. Even I can see that's a Hu-mon."
Quark stomped away as they took seats around an empty table. Ezra won again before Vin could get his attention. When he saw Vin he picked up his winnings and they came back to the table. They asked Odo if he wished to join them but he refused. Vin watched him as he walked away.
"Who is he?" he asked.
"Most people ask what is he?" Julian said. "Odo is a changeling."
"Really?" Vin said surprised. "I've heard about them."
"Odo was here when the Cardassians ran the station," Julian explained. "After they left he stayed on as station security."
"He is a rather interesting being," Ezra observed. "We had a discussion last night to the effect that he would be keeping an eye on me while we were here."
"I'm not surprised," Julian laughed. "If you can beat Quark's rigged games, Odo would be suspicious. Don't let it bother you. He's suspicious of everyone. That's what makes him good at his job."
They were about to order when Buck, JD and Josiah walked in and came over. Tables and chairs were shuffled around to make room for everyone. Julian noticed Vin fade into the background as the others started talking. He would add things occasionally but was content to quietly observe.
"Do you have room for two more?" Jadzia asked as she walked up with Lieutenant Worf.
"Sure darlin' pull up a seat," Buck smiled.
Jadzia teased Buck about using that endearment. The conversations started again and Chris observed Vin watching the Klingon. Chris had heard about the lieutenant being raised by humans and obviously so had Vin. Vin kept glancing at Worf while he ate but didn't say anything. When they were finished Dax thanked them, but said she had to get to work. Worf also got up to leave but was poked by Dax. He reluctantly turned to Vin.
"Lieutenant Tanner," Worf said in his gruff voice. "Can I speak with you?"
"I reckon," Vin said and got up to follow Worf to another table.
"Dax, what are you up to?" Julian asked.
"I just figured Vin might want to talk to Worf," she said innocently. "They were both raised by humans and I figured it couldn't hurt."
"I appreciate this Lieutenant," Chris said.
"It was my pleasure," Dax smiled. "Well, I have to be going."
"Jeez Vin looks so tiny next to Lieutenant Worf," JD commented.
"Son, I'd look small next to the Lieutenant," Josiah laughed.
Vin sat with Worf but didn't know where to start. He wanted to ask him all sorts of things but he had never been good at talking to strangers. Vin's thoughts were all jumbled and he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"You ever feel like you don't belong?"
"All the time." Worf answered and Vin smiled.
"What are your parents like?" Vin asked.
"They are kind and caring," Worf said. "They didn't know much about Klingons but they were willing to learn. They raised me to know my heritage and what it meant to be a Klingon."
"My parents didn't have much of a choice on how to raise me," Vin confessed. "After I was found on Tasco the archeology team studied the ruins then moved on. They planned to go to Vulcan to drop me off. They ran into a meteor shower and we crash-landed on a primitive planet. It was able to sustain life and food was plentiful but we had no way of contacting Star Fleet since the ship had been badly damaged. I was seventeen when a Star Fleet vessel found us and I had been raised to be human."
"You at least missed the teasing as a child," Worf said. "I was very different looking than my classmates and was constantly getting into fights over it. You probably would have had no trouble since you look human."
"Which can be a problem, too," Vin smiled. "I look human so they think I am. When they find out I'm Vulcan they expect me to act a completely different way. I hate the way Vulcans act."
"So do I," Worf laughed loudly.
Chris watched as Vin talked with Worf. He had never seen the Vulcan so open with anyone except them. Vin told Worf something that made him laugh loudly. Chris could see Vin smiling his lopsided grin. Vin and Worf had been talking for awhile when Chris noticed Captain S'lar walk in and look around. When he saw Vin he walked over to his table. Chris didn't want to make a scene and remained where he was. Buck moved to get up but Chris grabbed his arm. Dr. Bashir noticed the change in the six officers sitting around him but didn't understand. He saw Chris watching the Vulcan captain.
"Can I help you?" Worf asked as S'lar got closer.
"I wish to speak with Lieutenant Tanner," S'lar said.
"I was talking with Mr. Worf," Vin said warily.
"Then I will join you," S'lar announced.
Worf could sense that Vin wasn't comfortable with the captain. He didn't much like Captain S'lar either. The Vulcan captain was too arrogant for his tastes.
"We were comparing our childhoods," Worf answered for Vin. "And discussing our parents."
"They weren't your parents," S'lar said glancing at Vin with raised eyebrows. "They were just the humans who nurtured you."
"They did more than that!" Vin protested. "They loved me."
"Love is illogical," S'lar said. "They found you and the logical thing to do would have been to take you back to Vulcan."
"They were going to," Vin said defending them. "They didn't have the chance."
"If you had been brought to Vulcan you would have been taught to be a Vulcan," he said, and then added derisively, "not a human."
"Ain't nothin' wrong with the way they raised me. I had everything I needed."
"Except a sense of who and what you are."
Vin knew that was true, but it was no one's fault. "Ain't nothin' wrong with who I am, either," he said softly.
S'lar reached out and flicked a strand of Vin's long hair. Vulcans were not supposed to show emotion, but S'lar's tone of voice was condescending. "A vulcan who pretends he is human? Who calls pilagers his parents?"
That was enough for Vin. This Vulcan had no right to talk about his parents. Unable to contain himself, he punched S'lar in the nose. He would have hit him again but Worf grabbed him around the waist.
"You have no right to criticize my parents," Vin yelled, struggling. Lila stood in front of the captain with her tail lashing furiously and growling.
"And this is exactly my point," S'lar said wiping the blood from his nose.
As Vin struggled his hair was pushed away from his ears and everyone gasped. Chris heard people starting to talk and point. Chris decided they better get Vin out of there and as he and the others moved towards him, they he heard the navigator cry out and slump against Worf.
JD was roughly half Worf's size, but he confronted the Klingon like a pit bull. "What did you do to him!?"
Buck grabbed him back by the collar of his uniform. "Whoa there, Sparky," he laughed.
Chris remained calm. "What happened?" he asked as he checked Vin.
"I do not know," Worf answered. "He grabbed his side and cried out."
"You didn't have to be so rough," JD commented.
"JD..." Buck warned the Ensign.
"Let me see," Julian and Nathan said together.
Julian smiled and let Nathan check Vin. He pushed Vin's shirt up and touched his side. Vin cried out and tried to move away.
"Nate?" Chris asked.
His side needs more time to heal," Nathan said. "The transparent bandage came lose and the new flesh hurts when touched."
"Let's get him back to the infirmary," Julian suggested.
Josiah moved in to take Vin but Worf easily lifted the slight navigator. They headed for the door and stopped when Sisko and Odo entered. "What's going on here?" Sisko asked.
"That Vulcan started a fight!" Quark declared. "Vulcans don't fight. You sure he isn't a Romulan?"
JD made a lunge for Quark but Buck grabbed him. Quark screeched and went back inside the bar.
"It was all a misunderstanding," S'lar said.
"Is that right," Odo said sarcastically. "And how did you get a bloody nose?"
"Lieutenant Tanner punched me," S'lar stated.
"What?" Sisko asked surprised.
"Captain," Julian said getting his attention. "I need to get the Lieutenant back tot he infirmary."
"Alright," Sisko agreed. "Captains, I'd like to see you in my office."
"Sir," Worf said. "I would like to be present."
Sisko nodded and waited while Worf handed Vin to Josiah. Vin stifled a groan as Josiah took him in his arms and headed down the corridor. JD dragged a furious Buck with him as he followed Josiah. Lila follow close at their heels. Chris was surprised to see Ezra glaring at the Vulcan captain.
"Is there a problem Lieutenant?" S'lar asked.
"Not yet," Ezra sneered.
"Ezra!" Chris reprimanded. "Go with the others."
Ezra did as Chris commanded. Sisko gestured for the three officers to follow him. When they got to his office he told Kira he didn't want to be disturbed and told them all to take a seat.
"I will not need one," S'lar said. "As I said, it was a misunderstanding and I wish no action taken against Lieutenant Tanner. Good day." When he was finished he left the office.
"Lieutenant, what happened?" Sisko asked.
"It was no misunderstanding," Worf grumbled. "The captain insulted the Lieutenant's parents and he defended their honor."
"What did he say?" Chris asked.
"That they weren't his parents, only the people who raised him. Then he said he should have been brought to Vulcan, and that because he was not, he had no sense of his true heritage. He ended by referring to Vin's parents as pilagers."
"Thank you Lieutenant," Sisko said "That will be all."
"Aye sir," Worf said as he stood up. "Captain Larabee?"
"Lieutenant Tanner is an honorable warrior," he said. "It was his duty to defend his parents' honor and I am glad to have met him."
He nodded to Sisko then left. Once the Lieutenant was gone, Chris sat back in his chair and regarded Sisko.
"We'll be going as soon as Dr. Jackson says Vin can leave," Chris stated.
"Is it always this lively when your officers are around?" Sisko asked.
"Usually," Chris sighed.
"Lieutenant Tanner seems to be a handful," Sisko observed.
"Actually this is very unusual for him," Chris said. "He hates to draw attention to himself."
"But he is fiercely loyal," Sisko commented.
"Very," Chris smiled. "And as you saw, he has quite a temper."
"Does he get into fights often?"
"He doesn't start the fights. That's Buck or JD's job. But Vin will join in if they need help."
"If Captain S'lar is not pressing charges then I won't make an issue of the incident," Sisko assured Chris.
"Thank you," Chris said as he stood and walked out.
When they got back to the infirmary Josiah placed a very subdued Vin on one of the exam tables. Vin tried to curl onto his side but Nathan stopped him.
"No Vin," Nathan said. "I need you to stay on your back so I can see what's wrong."
"Hurts," Vin groaned.
"This will help," Julian said as he hit Vin with a hypospray. Vin immediately relaxed and Nathan helped him roll to his back.
"What happened Vin?" Josiah asked.
"Don't want to talk about it," Vin answered. "Chris is going to be mad."
"No he won't," JD said with confidence.
The ensign was petting Lila, trying to get her to calm down. It was obvious she was still angry, the way her tail was slashing back and forth.
"Yes he will," Vin sighed. "I made him look bad."
"Why don't you all wait outside," Julian suggested. "So we can check him over?"
"Come gentlemen," Ezra said. "Let the good doctors take care of our fallen comrade."
They had been waiting for twenty minutes when Chris walked towards them.
"How is he?" Chris asked.
"He's hurting and upset," Buck replied. "His worried you'll be mad."
"Whatever for?" Chris asked confused.
"Mr. Tanner is afraid he made a bad impression and that it made you look like an incompetent Captain," Ezra remarked.
"All of you know I don't care what other people think," Chris said exasperated.
"We know that Chris," Buck smiled. "You were never one to follow the rules. Vin idolizes you and hates to make you look bad."
"Hell, Buck, everybody already thinks we're the bad element," Chris chuckled.
"This is all rather amusing but may we inquire as to what transpired?" Ezra asked.
"Worf said Captain S'lar made a comment about Vin's parents and the way he was raised," Chris said. "And Vin got angry and punched him."
"I'm not surprised. He adored them," Josiah commented.
"Is Vin in trouble?" JD asked worried.
"No, Captain S'lar didn't press charges," Chris said.
"That's a relief," JD said.
Nathan came out a short time later and walked over to them.
"How is he?" Chris asked.
"He's fine," Nathan smiled. "Like I said, the new flesh is tender and hurts when touched. When he struggled in Worf's arms he pulled off the protective bandage. He's more upset than anything else."
"I better have a talk with him," Chris said as he went inside.
Chris walked over to the bed and found Lila already curled on Vin's legs. Vin knew it was Chris but wouldn't look at him. He had his head down and his long hair covered his eyes.
"I'm sorry Chris," Vin said. "I reckon I should apologize to Captain S'lar."
"That would be the best thing," Chris agreed. "He didn't press charges."
Vin just nodded and scratched Lila's ears. He knew Chris was mad, he had to be.
"Vin, look at me," Chris said. Vin raised his head enough to peer through the curtain of his hair. "I'm not mad."
"You're not?" Vin asked surprised as he lifted his head. "I would be. I made you look bad."
"You know that doesn't matter to me," Chris stated. "Besides, we have a reputation for being on the wild side."
"That's true," Vin smiled.
"Why don't you get some sleep," Chris suggested. "I'll see you later."
"Chris," Vin called.
"When can we leave?" Vin asked.
"As soon as Nathan says your OK," Chris answered. "Deal?"
"Deal," Vin smiled and closed his eyes.
Chris smiled and left the infirmary.
They remained at DS9 for another two days. Nathan wanted to make sure Vin didn't have a relapse. During that time Vin apologized to the Vulcan Captain and was invited on a tour of the science vessel. JD had asked if he could come and Vin brought him along. The two of them ended up disrupting an experiment that that had taken two weeks to set up. Captain S'lar finally made them leave the ship when he found them tinkering with one of the command panels. When asked what they were doing they replied they were taking it apart to see how it worked. Vulcan technology was different from theirs and they were curious. It took the Vulcan crew twenty-four hours to put it back together.
Vin and JD were then let lose on DS9. They went exploring the station in the company of Jake Sisco and Nog. The four of them got into all sorts of trouble, until Captain Sisko cringed every time he saw them together. They managed to disable the food replicators and other minor functions on the ship, and Quark was ready to kill them when he found them tampering with one of his holosuites. They had been dubbed the 'fearsome four' by Odo.
Ezra ended up winning Quark's bar from him when the Ferengi challenged him to a solo game of Dabo. Chris made sure he gave it back, but not before Ezra had stocked the Maverick with items they all liked. The Ferengi was livid, but gave into all of Ezra's demands to get his bar back. Finally Quark accused Ezra of being a Ferengi altered to look hu-mon.
Buck was a favorite among the ladies on the station. He was seen with a different woman each night. One night he dined with both Major Kira and Dax. Both women enjoyed themselves and would be sorry to see him go.
Josiah had requested if he could go down to Bajor to talk with the Vedics. He was very interested in the religion of the Bajorans. He had been permitted to go to the planet and join in one of their communes. Chris was just afraid when it was time to leave, they would be forced to beam Josiah onboard.
Nathan spent is time with Dr. Bashir. When Nathan learned that Julian was a genetically enhanced human he had been intrigued. They spent hours discussing the merits of the program as well as going over every medical technique they could think of.
The rest of the crew of the Maverick had been granted leave as well. Chris had given Odo permission to arrest any of his crew that got out of hand. The first one to end up in Odo's cells had been Chief Engineer Chanu. He had gotten into a fight with a Delvian. The Delvian had called the Maverick a garbage scow and Chanu had decked him. The Chief was very sensitive about his ship.
Chris spent the next two days having the time of his life. His crew was the responsibility of the station since they were on leave. They were somebody else's problem. Chris spent his time relaxing and watching their antics. They were all living up to the Maverick's less than stellar reputation.
Finally they day arrived that the Maverick was ready to leave. Captain Sisco and Lieutenant Dax saw them off at Docking Ring six.
"Captain Larabee," Sisko said holding out his hand. "It's been an honor to meet you."
"Same here Captain," Chris said shaking his hand.
They watched as Chris walked through the hatch to his ship. Once he was on board, the Maverick pulled away from the Ring and went to warp speed.
"Am I glad their gone," Dax said. "I don't know how Captain Larabee does it."
"Neither do I," Sisko laughed.
They walked back to the command center and Sisko headed for his office. When he walked inside he saw a bottle sitting on his desk. He sat down and picked it up. It was a rare vintage of Corillian Spirits, very expensive and very illegal. A card was attached. He pulled it off and read it.
This is for the next time we take shore leave on the station. I will give you plenty of notice and you can get drunk before we arrive.
Sisko laughed and placed the bottle back on his desk. There was one thing Captain Larabee was lucky for, his voyage would never be dull.
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