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in front of the window, his elbow bending as he leaned forward to survey the
scene. Below, a group of students played an energetic game of soccer. Members
of different species made up the two teams - red and blue - their shouts echoing
against the cement walls surrounding the playing field.
turned away from the window, a slow smile crossing his face.
Benjamin," Curzon said. He leaned against the wall, folding his arms across
his chest. "This is a surprise. I did not know you were coming. You should
have told me; I could have planned something."
Sisko stood in the door, not moving. The corner of his lip, the right corner,
twitched, a slight movement that did not go unnoticed by Curzon.
the matter, Ben?" Curzon asked easily.
moment, Benjamin hated his mentor and friend.
want to know why you did it," Benjamin said, his voice rising. Curzon arched
an eyebrow, the smile vanishing from his face.
told everyone that you must have had your reasons," Benjamin continued.
one last look at the game and then took a step towards Benjamin.
told everyone?" his voice was harsh.
asked. They know we are friends. I defended you and I didn't want to."
so you're angry because you had to defend me, is that right?"
eyes flashed as he took a few steps towards Curzon.
that why you are here, Benjamin? To act as accuser and judge both?" Curzon's
famous temper flared briefly, his eyes flashing. Benjamin visibly drooped in
the face of that anger, his broad shoulders slumping and his chest rising in
do not need to defend me, Ben," Curzon said. "I'm quite capable of
that myself, if need be."
empty except for a couple of high-backed chairs against the wall opposite the
window, felt cold, despite the sunlight streaming in from the open window. Benjamin
stopped, looked at his friend, and took a deep breath.
to say, Benjamin?" Curzon asked. Curzon's facial muscles visibly relaxed,
that familiar indolent smile returning to his lips. "You should just say
what you're thinking, Benjamin. Hesitancy does not make a statesman or even
a mediocre commander."
want to know why you did it," Benjamin's rich baritone carried across the
room. "And I want good reasons, solid reasons."
As if to
emphasize his point, Benjamin raised one finger, "I want you to explain
to me how you could take the life of another man so coldly. I want to know how
one even arrives at such a decision and then makes it without hesitation."
his head in disbelief. A sardonic smile crept up his face, crinkling his gray
become you, Ben," the older man said.
clenched his fists, and then drew himself up, straightening his shoulders and
lifting his head so he met Curzon's gaze squarely. Curzon did not flinch, did
not blink, and Benjamin hated him a little more.
suppose you were romancing some lovely Klingon when it happened," Benjamin
said, his voice edged with sarcasm that Curzon pretended not to hear.
Curzon closed his eyes. "Yes, lovely, very lovely."
bloodwine?" scorn dripped from Benjamin's voice, but Curzon, lost in thought,
did not hear the tone underlying the question.
fine vintage," Curzon murmured. "From the Katah region. Excellent
flavor, very fresh, very young. They know their bloodwine, those Katah."
yes. Delicious. Plump and very much alive. From the depths of the Le'n'aw Sea.
It's specialty, you know, very much like this caviar you Terrans are so fond
do not care for caviar," Benjamin said. "And I do not care for betrayal."
eyes flew open.
Benjamin? I'm intrigued. Please explain yourself."
ordered the assassination of Legate Maris."
are some who would say that," Curzon circled the room, his hands behind
do you think?"
hesitated for a moment, watching his mentor pace in front of the window.
We have no secrets, Ben. You might as well tell me what you're thinking. Cryptic
conversation does not become you."
think the rumors are correct. I think you ordered the assassination because
you gave up on the peace talks."
his lean, lank body into one of the chairs. He crossed his legs and then looked
over at Benjamin contemplatively.
course you wouldn't do it yourself," Benjamin went on. "You wouldn't
dream of getting your hands dirty. No, you hired someone. A Klingon mercenary,
spin wild tales, Benjamin. I did not know that storytelling was a talent of
"You lured him to the meeting, didn't you, with false promises of major concessions?" Benjamin watched as
attention drifted towards the window, to the shouts outside. "Curzon? Am
I boring you?"
the contrary, I'm fascinated," Curzon straightened the sleeves of his shirts,
which barely extended to his bony wrists. "But will it take long? I'm due
to meet A'Lekha for lunch."
lip curled up in a sneer; much as he admired and respected Curzon, he could
never understand the other man's desire and unsatiable appetite for Klingons.
Benjamin, while he did not dislike Klingons, found them loud, obnoxious and
aggressive. Curzon, however, would constantly point out the Klingon penchant
for loyalty, honor and duty.
can never find a better friend than a Klingon," Curzon had lectured on
more than one occasion to a less than convinced Benjamin.
Benjamin winced and then saw once again Curzon's attention drifting
and knew that he had been distracted from the main purpose of his visit.
didn't even give him the chance to talk," Benjamin continued, his voice
rising in pitch. "He had barely entered the hall when the phaser cut him
down. Of course, we don't know who or where the assassin is; he or she escaped
very conveniently, leaving only the bare vestiges of a untraceable transporter
signal behind. Very cleverly done. Did you reroute the transporter through at
least six different relays to mask the pattern buffers?"
give me too much credit, Benjamin. It is flattering."
slammed his fist into the palm of his right hand.
can you take this so lightly?" Benjamin asked in a dangerously calm voice.
Curzon regarded his friend with a careful eye. Still young, newly married and
a baby on the way. Yes, Benjamin Sisko, despite his budding Starfleet career,
still had an air of naiveté about him.
did not explain how I betrayed you," Curzon said quietly.
first time since Benjamin had walked into the room, he felt at a loss for words.
How to start? Better yet, how to explain? Ben's thoughts jumbled in his head,
none of them coherent enough to string together a sentence that would make sense
trusted you," Benjamin said finally. This one statement, it was the best
he could do under the circumstances.
"You should know better, Ben," Curzon said sadly as he stood up. Benjamin's lips parted slightly in surprise.
is it, Ben? Did you not expect me to say that?"
don't know what I expected," Benjamin admitted.
to the window, placed his hand against the wall, and leaned forward.
came all this way to confront me," Curzon laughed. "Yes, I am touched
by your devotion. Were you concerned about rumors only?"
didn't think they were rumors," Benjamin said flatly.
that's good, Ben. You never doubted me for a moment. You believe I am capable
of such things? Of ordering the death of another living being?"
did not hesitate this time.
it suits your purpose, I don't think you would think twice."
low esteem you hold me in," Curzon said. "I do believe the red team
joined the Trill at the window.
can you tell?" Benjamin queried.
can sense these things," Curzon shrugged his slender shoulders. "I
know when a game is lost."
you suppose the blue team knows?"
can they not?"
turned away from the window and leaned back against the wall.
it's true then?" he asked.
not looking at his friend.
silence for a few minutes between the two.
Curzon said, "There is more to diplomacy than drinking fine wines and making
small talk, Benjamin. There are agreements to be made, concessions to debate,
and then at the end of the day, both parties walk away from the bargaining table
with something. It's only fair."
could have tried harder."
could have, you're right. But for how long? Knowing that Legate Maris was completely
intractable? Knowing that he had no intention of stopping the slaughter of the
border colonists? It had to stop, Benjamin. It did not matter how."
bit his lip, holding back the angry retorts, which threatened to spill out of
his mouth. Curzon noticed the effort and smiled.
time, Ben, you will learn these things. You will do those things which are necessary
and not always right."
not like you," Benjamin replied furiously.
his friend a sad little smile.
grateful for now that you are not," he said.
statement was not what Benjamin Sisko had expected, but nothing so far had turned
out the way Benjamin Sisko expected. Curzon shrugged his shoulders again, his
drawn, gray face softening in the sight of Benjamin's obvious distress.
should go, Ben," Curzon said gently. "Your wife, she is waiting for
you, I imagine."
nodded, "I left her in the gardens."
uncomfortable foot-shifting silence returned.
cleared his throat.
was no other way?" he asked hoarsely.
gray eyes met Benjamin's brown ones. How to explain the intricacies of diplomacy?
Curzon wondered. Was there any way for Benjamin to even fathom the tangles through
which Curzon stepped through every day? And how to measure the price? One man,
an evil man, for the lives of ten thousand border colonists?
Could he have tried harder as Benjamin had queried? Curzon supposed he could have, but what was the use?
No, it was
better this way. One man dead, the rebellion crushed, the threat to the Federation
Curzon mused. Not bad at all.
shifted his weight from one foot to the other and Curzon realized that the younger
man was still waited for an answer.
was no other way," Curzon said firmly.
had left, Curzon returned to his post by the window. The red team, as predicted,
had won and was celebrating its victory wildly. One or two of the women even
ripped off their shirts, waving them in the air in triumph.
softly and then turned to leave.
A'Lekha was waiting.
~ The End ~
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