Disclaimer - DS9 and its characters are copyright Viacom and Paramount Pictures and no infringement of said copyright is intended. This story is purely for the enjoyment of fellow fans. The story itself is copyright Karen Colohan 1995.

Author's note - This story was most definitely written before TPTB showed us their version of the family Bashir, so it does not accord with the dread canon.

GHOSTS

Part One - Past History

"Just when I think I'm winning,when I've broken every door, the ghosts of my life blow wilder than before.

Just when I thought I could not be stopped,when my chance came to be king, the ghosts of my life blew wilder than the wind." - David Sylvian

Julian Bashir sat alone, toying moodily with a bowl of I'danian spice pudding. He was deeply preoccupied and barely aware of the almost untouched food in front of him. On the far side of the replimat Garak, Deep Space Nine's Cardassian tailor, was looking for a place to sit. He noticed his friend, sitting alone, and pushed through the lunch time crowd to his table.

"Hello, doctor, may I join you?" To his surprise, Garak's request met with no response. He frowned; the doctor seemed totally absorbed, oblivious to everything around him. Garak tried again. "Doctor, are you alright?" He set his tray down on the table this time, uninvited, and took a seat. Julian was jolted from his reverie by the movement, and looked up distractedly into Garak's questioning face.

"Oh, Garak, I didn't see you there. I'm sorry. Did you say something?" he asked.

"I asked if you were alright, doctor. You seemed - preoccupied, and you've hardly touched your spice pudding," replied Garak. Julian glanced down at the mess on his plate and pushed it away from him with a grimace. The Cardassian noted that the doctor looked uncharacteristically pale and anxious.

"I'm sorry, Garak. I had a few things on my mind, that's all. I am alright," Julian added hurriedly, essaying a smile, as he saw the concern on his friend's face.

"Is it something you'd like to talk about? If I can be of any assistance..." Garak offered neutrally. Julian opened his mouth to refuse, and then realised he really did need to tell someone what was on his mind. He sighed.

"There's a team of diplomats on their way here from Earth," he began without preamble. "They're scheduled to spend some time here, on DS9, before they go on to Bajor." Julian looked across at Garak, his expression tense. "My father will be heading that team."

"But surely that's good news, doctor," said Garak, now greatly perplexed. "Yet you sound as if you don't relish the prospect of a family reunion."

"I don't," said Julian shortly.

"Would you consider it an intrusion if I were to enquire why not?" The Cardassian watched the doctor carefully, trying to judge his reaction. There was a long pause before he replied.

"Garak, I... Well suffice to say that my father and I really don't - get on."

"In what way?" Garak probed cautiously, hoping that Julian might be a little more forthcoming about precisely what the problem was.

"We've - had our differences, in the past," was all the doctor would say. Garak tried a different tack; it was unlike him to be so evasive.

"Maybe now would be a good time to resolve those differences," ventured the tailor. For the briefest moment, a look Garak could only describe as pure hatred crossed the doctor's normally pleasant features. The totally uncharacteristic expression chilled the Cardassian. As Julian's face assumed a facade of polite indifference, he rose from his seat.

"It's a little late for that, Garak," he said coldly. "Words can't change the past. Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I'm needed in the infirmary." With that the doctor turned on his heel and strode from the replimat. Garak stared after him thoughtfully.

"Now that is a puzzle," he observed to no one in particular. "That is not like Doctor Bashir, not like him at all."

******

Julian sat in front of the terminal in his office, trying to concentrate, but the information on the screen seemed to swim before his eyes. Finally, he gave up the effort, killing the display with an irritated sweep of his hand. He was angry. Not with Garak, in his own way the Cardassian had only been trying to help, and Julian knew he owed his friend an apology for his abrupt behaviour. He wasn't even truly angry with his father; though god alone knew how many good reasons he had to feel anger towards him! No. Julian was furious with himself. After all this time he still went to pieces at the thought of having to spend some time around his father. He really should have learned to control those feelings by now.

Julian cast back in his mind to the last time he had seen his father. It was nearly three and a half years ago he realised with a slight shock, but the occasion was still firmly engraved on his memory. It had been the morning of his graduation ceremony, the culmination of eight years hard work at Starfleet Medical, what should have been the proudest day of his life.

The younger Julian had finally decided that he would pursue his Starfleet career; the lure of the unknown had been too much to resist. He'd turned down M. Delon's offer of a position at the Paris medical complex, the hardest decision he'd ever had to make, especially considering the other inducements there had been to stay. Instead he had opted for the position of Chief Medical Officer on Deep Space Nine. He'd been so proud of that uniform, those lieutenant's pips... And then his father had ruined it all. Surveying his son in his newly earned finery he had shaken his head in disbelief.

"You're actually proud of being second best!" his father had said scathingly. "I thought if I'd managed to teach you one thing, Julian, it's that only coming first counts for anything. Who remembers the name of the runner up in a race? No one! I'm not surprised you've chosen to tuck your tail between your legs and slink off to some god forsaken space station. Back here on Earth you might have faced some real competition. So instead you accept a second rate assignment. I suppose that's apt - for a second rate doctor."

Julian could still remember vividly how he'd felt at that moment. His complete sense of abject failure as he'd fled to his room in tears. The way all the effort he'd put into those years at medical school seemed suddenly pointless, a waste of time. He also recalled how his father hadn't even managed to find the time to attend the graduation ceremony, and the following day had been gone. He had simply left for his next diplomatic assignment without even bothering to say goodbye to his son. Julian remembered how his mother had tried to make light of the incident, but she had known how hurt he'd been.

Since then Julian had neither seen, nor spoken to his father. He'd made a place for himself on DS9, resolving that he would make sure everyone knew just how good a doctor he was by telling them at every opportunity. And in the end discovering that his competence spoke for itself when it came to earning respect. And now his father was coming here, his imminent arrival awakening all the old uncertainties in Julian; the long buried memories resurfacing to torment him again. He covered his face with his hands and sighed deeply. How the hell was he going to get through the next few days?

******

Commander Benjamin Sisko sat behind his desk, his hands steepled in front of his face. He and Lieutenant Dax had just put the finishing touches to the plans for a reception for the visiting team of diplomats, who would be arriving the following day. Sisko had been understandably curious when he'd seen the name of the man who would be heading that team, but equally something was bothering him. As Dax rose to leave, Sisko called her back.

"Dax, have you spoken to Doctor Bashir about this visit at all?" Dax resumed her seat and shook her head.

"No, should I have done, Benjamin?"

"I don't know. There's something I just can't put my finger on, Old Man. Do you get the feeling he's been a little - withdrawn the last few days?" Sisko thought hard, trying to pin down just what it was that was bothering him. "Wouldn't you think that Doctor Bashir would be pleased to have the opportunity to spend some time with his father? As far as I know he hasn't seen him since he came to DS9, but he seems - disinterested." Dax considered briefly.

"You're right, Benjamin. Julian hasn't mentioned the visit to me once since he found out about it." Dax looked at Sisko speculatively. "I guess this means you want me to have a talk with him."

"If you wouldn't mind, Old Man. If there's a problem I'd like to know about it," said Sisko gratefully.

"I'll see what I can do." Dax rose, nodded to Sisko and left his office.

Her opportunity came sooner than she expected. When Dax entered Quark's at the end of her shift she noticed Julian sitting alone at the bar. She headed over and took a seat beside him.

"Hello, Julian, I didn't expect to see you in here tonight," she said pleasantly.

"Why not?" he asked in surprise, as he signalled to Quark to replenish his drink and to bring one for Dax.

"Oh, I thought you'd probably have some kind of preparations to make - for tomorrow," she replied lightly. Julian frowned, taking another sip of his drink.

"I'm sorry, Jadzia, but I don't follow," he said.

"Well, I didn't think you'd seen your father for a long time. I assumed..." Dax was quite unprepared for Julian's reaction. He slammed down his glass and jumped to his feet, angrier than Jadzia could ever remember seeing him.

"Oh, I get it! Well, you assumed wrong! I don't know what it is with everyone at the moment. Anyone would think the Prophets themselves had decided to pay a personal visit! He's only my father, for god's sake."

"Julian, calm down." Dax tried to take hold of the doctor's arm, but he shook her off.

"I'm perfectly calm, thank you, Dax," he replied icily. "And I'd be obliged if you would stop trying to pry into things that don't concern you." With that Julian stormed out of the bar, leaving Dax staring after him open-mouthed.

"What's his problem?" asked Quark, sidling over to her. She shook her head slowly.

"I wish I knew," she replied gloomily.

******

Julian slept badly that night. Every time he closed his eyes memories rose up to haunt him and he tossed and turned in his bed. Images formed in his mind. Julian saw again a small, slender boy, dark haired, with wide, puppy dog eyes. Now the boy was laughing, running into the house, bursting with pride over some drawing or piece of schoolwork clutched in his hands. So eager to please, he offered up the treasured item for his parents' inspection.

The scene changed; the same boy, alone in his room in tears after his efforts had been derided by his overambitious father. The dismissive words, "not good enough, a child half your age should be able to do better...", rang in his ears, leaving him distraught despite his mother's efforts to comfort him.

Another memory, the boy was older now, a gawky, fragile-looking adolescent, travelling with his father and trying to learn something of a diplomat's skills. Through it all ran the constant lectures, the exhortations that winning, being the best, was all that mattered. The boy took it all in, desparately attempting to please his father, trying to do things right. But somehow all that seemed to follow were a succession of failures, as under the pressure of paternal disapproval, his nerves always contrived to get the better of him.

Julian came fully awake, sitting bolt upright in his bed, with his hands clenched at his sides. He stared unseeing into the darkness, trying not to remember any more. He had tried so hard to forget, but failure was the one thing he still feared more than any other. Failure - and its inevitable consequences, they haunted him perpetually.

No! his mind protested fiercely. That was then. It will be different now. You've made a success of your life. This time he's going to be proud of you. He can't hurt you any more. But out of his memories came the protests of a younger Julian, rising up to mock him. "No, father, please don't! Why are you doing this to me? What did I do wrong?"

The present day Julian put his hands over his ears, trying to block out those cries, but they echoed in his head over and over again.

******

Benjamin Sisko waited outside the airlock, Major Kira at his side. The diplomats' ship had docked and the two of them were here to greet them. Sisko found himself once again curious at the prospect of meeting Julian's father. The man's reputation as a diplomat and negotiator was formidable. Also, Dax had told him about Julian's uncharacteristic outburst in Quark's and that had piqued his curiosity further. The doctor himself was conspicuous by his absence, although Sisko had suggested casually that he might like to be present. The airlock rolled open and the four diplomats stepped through. Sisko moved forward, holding out a hand.

"Gentlemen, welcome to Deep Space Nine; I'm Benjamin Sisko, commander of the station and this is my first officer, Major Kira Nerys." One of the men stepped forward, accepting Sisko's outstretched hand.

"Commander, it's good of you to greet us personally. I'm David Bashir. Allow me to introduce my colleagues - Mirlan Tovyn, Stephen Grey and Alain Durand." Each of the men in turn took Sisko's and then Kira's hand in greeting.

All the while Sisko never took his eyes from David Bashir. Based on the doctor's strange reactions over the last few days he wasn't sure exactly what he'd been expecting. The first thing he noticed was that there was no doubting the family resemblance. David Bashir was both taller and more strongly built than his son, with a commanding physical presence, but there was no mistaking where Julian had inherited his dark hair, golden brown skin and full mouth from. Their features were virtually identical - except for the eyes. Where Julian's were a warm, expressive brown, his father's were clear grey, and quite emotionless. Re-collecting himself, Sisko began to usher the diplomats in the direction of the habitat ring.

"The Major will show you to your quarters, gentlemen. Later I've taken the liberty of arranging a small reception," he added. "Some of the Bajoran delegates will be present, so you'll have a chance to meet informally before negotiations commence."

"Thank you, commander, we look forward to it," said Bashir. As he turned to follow Kira, Sisko briefly forestalled him.

"Oh, Mr Bashir, if you'd like to visit with your son, please feel free to drop by the infirmary. Major Kira can show you the way. I'm sure Julian would be glad to see you." *I hope* added Sisko to himself.

"That won't be necessary, commander," came the unexpectedly dismissive reply. "This mission to Bajor is an important one and we really do have a lot of work to do to prepare for it. I'm sure my son will understand that." Sisko glanced across at Kira, who stood open mouthed, clearly startled by the off handedness of the man's tone. Looking back at Bashir he nodded curtly.

"As you wish. I'll see you at the reception tonight." Sisko stood looking after the departing diplomats, an expression of disbelief on his face. Whatever he'd expected it hadn't been total indifference on David Bashir's part to his son's presence on the station. No wonder Julian had been apprehensive! Sisko shook his head and hoped to god that things would be alright at the reception.

******

Julian stood in front of the mirror in his quarters and studied his reflection. Tonight he'd taken even more than his usual care over his appearance. His uniform was spotless, his boots shone and not a hair was out of place. But he took no pleasure from being so impeccably turned out, all his attention was drawn to the face which looked back at him out of the mirror; a face he could hardly recognise as his own. He was unnaturally pale and his eyes were rimmed with dark circles - the legacy of several nights with precious little sleep.

But the change went deeper than that. When he looked into the mirror he no longer saw Doctor Julian Bashir, lieutenant j.g. The image that confronted him was of a frightened child with red-rimmed eyes. This time the boy was waiting apprehensively for his father's verdict on his latest school report. The younger Julian already knew the report wasn't as good as it should have been, certainly not good enough to satisfy his father's expectations. The child flinched involuntarily as his father finished reading and turned towards him, an angry expression on his face...

A shudder rippled through Julian's slender body and with an effort he tore himself away from the memory. His father was here - on Deep Space Nine. He knew he'd arrived; he'd seen the ship dock. There'd been ample time for him to contact Julian, if he'd wanted to, but there had been no word. Why had he expected, even for one moment, that there would be? In a way it had been a relief not to hear from him, but it also meant that Julian now had to face him without any idea of the reception he was likely to get. Worse still, that meeting would take place in a room full of his colleagues, all of them curious as anything about his relationship with his father. Julian sighed deeply, pulling himself together as best he could. Would anything have changed in the last three and a half years? He smiled bleakly; somehow he rather doubted it.

******

The reception was already in full swing when Julian finally arrived. Sisko had commandeered Quark's for the evening, much to the Ferengi's disgust. The doctor sneaked in the door, hoping no one would notice just how late he was. As he helped himself to a drink at the bar he suddenly found Commander Sisko at his side.

"I'm sorry I'm so late, sir," Julian apologised, cursing his luck.

"I think I can understand why you are," said Sisko sympathetically.

"Sir?" Julian looked at him warily. Before Sisko had the chance to reply, the imposing figure of David Bashir appeared beside him. Julian paled visibly and looked as if he wished the floor would open and swallow him up. "Father." With a considerable effort Julian forced the single word past his lips.

"Perhaps I should leave you two to get reacquainted," observed Sisko, starting to back away.

"Not at all, commander, it was you I wanted to see," said David Bashir. Almost as an afterthought he turned to survey his son. "I was wondering when you'd put in an appearance, Julian. I never could manage to teach you the value of punctuality in creating a good impression, could I?" The doctor tensed as if he'd been hit. Sisko could hardly believe what he was hearing. What kind of a greeting was that?

"I'm sure Julian's had a busy day in the infirmary, Mr Bashir," he said smoothly. "He is the only doctor on the station."

"I am aware of that, commander, but please don't feel you have to make excuses for my son. He never did have the knack of organising his time efficiently." The elder Bashir continued to regard his son with an air of disdain. "Still, at least in a place like this his shortcomings probably don't inconvenience too many people. Now, commander, I really must speak to you about the scheduling of our trip to Bajor. Julian."

David Bashir nodded dismissively at Julian and began to steer Sisko away from him. The commander resisted for a moment, but one look at the doctor's face told him that the more distance there was between these two the better. Julian stood, looking after them, his expression devastated. Three and a half years and still his father was barely prepared to acknowledge his existence. What did he have to do?

There's nothing you can do now, the inner voice told him. In his eyes you failed. You didn't graduate top of your class. You didn't follow the career path he thought you should have taken. Those things are done and now nothing will convince him you're not a failure. With an effort Julian pulled himself up to his full height. He wasn't going to let this get to him. He could get through the rest of the evening. The people he worked with knew what he was capable of. They respected him. That was what mattered. Julian repeated those words over and over in his head like a litany. I'm not going to let you destroy me again, he vowed to himself, watching his father's retreating back. So intent was he on rebuilding his shattered composure, that Julian didn't notice that someone had walked quietly over to join him.

"Was he always like that?" came Dax's voice from behind him. Julian spun round, startled, to find her watching him compassionately.

"Oh, Jadzia, I didn't see you there!"

"I'm sorry, Julian. I didn't mean to startle you," she said quietly. "But was he?"

"My father," said Julian stiffly, "oh yes, that's pretty much par for the course."

"I don't understand it, Julian. Why is he so hard on you?" Dax shook her head, trying to make sense of it all.

"I'm a profound disappointment to him," replied Julian matter of factly. "I've never matched up to his expectations for me." The doctor sighed deeply. "Oh, Jadzia, I thought by now he'd have accepted the choices I made. At the very least he could respect my decisions, even if he won't ever agree with them." Jadzia reached out, laying one hand on Julian's arm in wordless sympathy. He glanced down at it briefly, pale against the black of his uniform, and then back up at her face. "I owe you an apology, Jadzia," he said slowly.

"What for?" she asked, surprised.

"For blowing up at you yesterday," Julian replied. "You weren't to know about all this; I shouldn't have taken it out on you. I'd already bitten Garak's head off over the same thing. Anyway, I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it, Julian. It's already forgotten." Jadzia smiled at him encouragingly. "So what are you going to do about your father?"

"I don't know. I suppose I should try and talk to him again, but I don't know that it will do any good." Julian bit at his lip nervously.

"I think you should, Julian," agreed Dax. "Think of all you've achieved since you came to the station. If you told him about it, surely he'd see that you're doing a job that you love - one that's right for you."

"You're right, Jadzia," said Julian, squaring his shoulders determinedly. "It's about time I made him take notice of me."

End of part one

Continue with part two