DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Star Trek:Deep Space Nine and its characters are copyright Paramount and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan 1995.

New Beginnings

The large airlock rolled inexorably aside like a giant cog. She stepped through cautiously and a swirl of sound and colour promptly assailed her senses dizzyingly. She stopped abruptly, her sensibilities overwhelmed after the quiet of her small cabin on the transport. Impatient people pushed past her and she recovered her wits sufficiently to move away from the entrance. So, here she finally was. This was Deep Space Nine.

She wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but this place far exceeded anything she might have had in mind. She had heard stories about the station in its days as Terok Nor, but the presence of Starfleet seemed to have given it a new flavour all its own - stamping its identity on the spartan Cardassian architecture. And the throng of people commanded her attention - so many races - some familiar, some not.

Gathering her courage she stepped out into the flow of bodies on the Promenade, hoping she would soon be able to figure out exactly where she was supposed to be. Of course it wasn't that simple. There wasn't some comfortingly prominent sign declaring "This way to the habitat ring" and she was soon completely disorientated. Well, perhaps she should seek out the shop first. She knew for certain that was located somewhere here on the Promenade. Why hadn't she thought of that before?

As she paused, trying to remember the landmarks she had been given to identify the shop's location, a hurrying figure careened into her, knocking her off balance and causing her to lose her grip on her bags. Momentarily stunned, she stumbled forward, but the stranger didn't stop, intent on his own business. Tears of frustration threatened, but as she tried to gather her wits a solicitous hand reached out to steady her.

"Are you alright?" enquired a low, pleasant voice. She turned gratefully, at last a friendly overture, and found herself gazing into the widest, most intense pair of hazel eyes she'd ever seen. Her own voice deserted her and all she could do was stare open mouthed at the young man who stood at her side, one hand still resting lightly on her arm. His dark brows quirked upwards questioningly and she swallowed hard, finally dragging an answer from her unwilling lips.

"Yes, there's no harm done. I'm fine. It was only an accident - my fault. I shouldn't stop unexpectedly in such a busy place."

"Where were you going?" asked her rescuer. "If you'll pardon me for saying so you look a little lost. Is this your first visit to DS9?"

"Yes, it is," she admitted. "I have a new job - in one of the shops here. I've only just arrived on the last transport." She managed a slight, nervous smile. "I was hoping my new employer would be able to tell me how to find my quarters in the habitat ring, but I haven't even been able to find the shop yet," she concluded wryly. A broad smile lit the face of her new-found friend and she almost gasped aloud at his heart-stopping beauty.

"Well, I think we can remedy that," he grinned cheerfully. "I have a little time to spare so if you like I can show you to your new quarters. Then you can contact your employer from there. Oh, my name's Julian by the way, Julian Bashir."

"Pleased to meet you," she replied a little breathlessly, "and thank you. Are you sure you have the time...?"

"Of course I do. Helping damsels in distress is one of my specialities," he laughed, favouring her with a conspiratorial wink. His laughter was infectious and she found herself joining in with it, relaxing in this delightfully confident young man's company. "Here, let me help you with these bags," he added, relieving her of several of them. As he bent to retrieve another which she had dropped when the careless passer by ran into her she took a moment to study him more closely.

His eyes had been the first thing to captivate her, but there was much more to admire about him than that single feature. His dark hair was neatly cut and looked invitingly soft as she admired the crown of his bent head. She found herself imagining what it would feel like to run her fingers through those dark curls. His skin was the most exotic shade of golden brown she had ever seen and a faint, deliciously musky scent rose from it to tantalise her. She had been charmed by his smile, but even unsmiling his full lips commanded her attention, beautifully sculpted and inviting.

He was dressed in an immaculate Starfleet uniform and she suddenly realised that he wore several rank pips. She couldn't recall exactly what they meant, but she felt abruptly embarrassed to be taking up so much of an obviously important person's time.

"Julian," she began, hesitant to be using his first name, but feeling that Mr Bashir was altogether too formal for her irrepressible companion "are you sure you have the time for this?" His expressive eyes met hers once more questioningly.

"Yes, I'm quite sure. Why do you ask?" he sounded genuinely surprised at her question.

"You're a Starfleet officer, I just thought, well, you'd have more important things to do," she replied awkwardly. He relaxed visibly at her reluctant admission.

"You're new on this station and in need of a helping hand - what could be more important than that?" he said firmly. "Besides which it's my pleasure to help you." The tone of his voice told her plainly enough that he meant every word and she followed him willingly as he moved confidently through the throng on the Promenade to a turbolift.

"Which set of quarters have you been allocated?" he asked lightly. Her heart gave a start as she realised this beautiful young man would now know the number of her quarters. Meeting his gaze steadily she told him and he nodded slightly, memorising it. All too soon the turbolift door opened revealing a long corridor studded with numerous identical doors. Julian exited and headed purposefully to the right. His long legs propelled him along rapidly and she had to hurry to keep up. Her tardiness gave her a brief but tantalising view of his trim rear end and she had to drag her mind back to more mundane matters with an effort. He stopped in front of one of the doors and thumbed the release.

"Here we are," he said cheerfully, leading her inside and setting down his armful of bags. "Lights 75 percent." She looked around her as the lights came up, taking in the alienness of her new home.

"You'll soon get used to it," he said gently, as if he could read her thoughts. "I did."

"It's just so strange - so different to what I'm used to," she said with a sigh. "I'm sorry - I should let you get back. Thank you for your help, Julian."

"It's been a pleasure," he replied sincerely, his warm regard lingering on her face. Reluctantly he turned to leave and then stopped. He closed the distance between them once more and stood looking at her with a trace of unexpected uncertainty in his eyes. "I wonder... When you've settled in why don't you stop by the Infirmary. I could give you a guided tour of the station... Would you like that?" he asked diffidently.

Would I like that? It was as much as she could do not to hug him to her in her delight. He wanted to see her again... She controlled her enthusiasm and nodded her agreement.

"Yes, I'd like that very much, thank you," she answered with quiet intensity, her smile lighting up her whole face.

"Then I'll see you later," he said warmly. To her astonishment he leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. His mouth was soft and sweet against her own and the unexpectedness of the gesture turned her whole body to water. She was certain she would fall, but Julian reached out and steadied her briefly. When he was sure she had control of her faculties once again he drew back, an unmistakable gleam in his hazel eyes. "Don't wait too long..." he concluded huskily and then he was gone.

She stood looking at the now closed door in wonderment. It seemed that Deep Space Nine had more to offer than she had expected. It might perhaps be a more pleasant place to live than it had at first appeared - truly a new beginning.

THE END

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