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Production no.: 555
Written by: René Echevarria
Directed by: Jonathan West
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: October 24, 1998
Tim Ransom ....................
Faith C. Salie ...................
Hilary Shepard-Turner .....
Michael Keenan ..............
Aron Eisenberg ...............
Randy James ...................

Bashir is off duty and hoping to spend an evening with friends -- any friends -- but O'Brien has to get home for dinner, and Odo and Kira have a date at Vic's. So he ends up in his quarters, doing a bit of research on a virus that has mutated on him. Just as he's about to drop off, Nog calls to say he's needed in the infirmary. The doctor on duty was thrown out by an Admiral Patrick, who wants to see Bashir immediately.

When Bashir arrives, Nog tells him that Admiral Patrick and his staff have just arrived on the Farragut. But the admiral turns out to be Patrick, one of the genetically enhanced patients Bashir worked with last year; and his "staff" are Jack and Lauren. They have managed to get all the way to DS9 by posing as Starfleet officers. "Why are you so upset?" Jack asks. "You wanted Sarina brought here. Well, here she is." Sarina is indeed there too, silent as ever. Bashir explains that he was considering bringing her here for treatment, when he was ready; he still needs to modify his surgical equipment. Jack replies that they'll help. "When we're through with Sarina, she will be just like us."

Fighting a losing battle, Bashir tries to get them to understand the enormity of what they've done. But Jack points out that they didn't get caught. Whenever anyone questioned them, Patrick would simply say, "That's a stupid question". Bashir resignedly says he'll straighten it out somehow. He then goes to Sarina. "Are you really going to be able to make her better?" Patrick asks. "I'm going to do everything I can," Bashir replies. "I promise."

Bashir fills Sisko in, and tries to convince him to convince Starfleet not to press charges; Sisko wants to know one good reason why he should. All Bashir can offer is that they "meant well". But since they're here, he asks permission to proceed with Sarina's treatment. The Institute has given him approval to do so, and he has consent from Sarina's legal guardian, Dr. Loews. The procedure has never been tried on anyone before. "There's no guarantee that it'll work, of course," Bashir says, "but if it does, it could change everything for her. There's no reason to think that she's suffering from the same type of behavioral disorders as Jack and the others. Her problem is that she's trapped inside her own mind. This could free her." He's sure that the technical issues can be ironed out. "I owe it to her, sir. I could have ended up the same way as Sarina, but I was lucky."

Seeing how important this is to him, Sisko relents. He will talk to Starfleet, and arrange for the rest of the group to be sent back to the Institute. However, Bashir asks that they be allowed to stay for a while. Sarina may need some familiar faces around her. Sisko concedes this, and Bashir promises to see that there won't be a repeat of what happened last time. "I'll hold you to that," says Sisko. "And one thing more -- get them out of those uniforms."

A cargo bay is set up as a dormitory, just as it was before, and Jack and the others are settling in when Bashir arrives to give them the good news. Jack is all set to assist with the operation, but Bashir manages to convince him otherwise. He then takes Sarina to the infirmary.

Bashir outlines the procedure to O'Brien. Sarina's problem is that her cerebral cortex was enhanced in such a way that her sensory processes can't channel stimuli into it fast enough, resulting in her not being able to focus on her surroundings. His plan is to stimulate the growth of new synapses, and to do that, he has to manipulate neural proteins at the subatomic level. That's where there's a bit of a snag: the most advanced neurocortical probe available isn't accurate enough to do that. O'Brien, however, says there's nothing he can do to improve it. "I can't break the laws of physics. Nobody can."

Jack, though, later tells Bashir, "Your friend was right, you can't break the laws of physics. But you can bend them!" he choruses with the others, showing off the newly-juryrigged probe. Jack continues proudly. "It is so accurate that you could clip the wings of an angel dancing on the head of a pin -- if you wanted to."

Now that he's got the equipment he needs, Bashir goes to work. However, it seems the operation is a failure; Sarina remains unresponsive. Disappointed, Bashir talks with Ezri, who tries to tell him he did everything he could. "Well, it wasn't enough," he replies. "I'm sorry," Ezri says. "Obviously you want to punish yourself. Do you want help? Because I'm really good at punishing myself. Let's see. If I were you, I'd be kicking myself for making promises I couldn't keep. For getting people's hopes up. For being arrogant enough to think that I could help Sarina even though dozens of other doctors have failed. Should I keep going?" "No, that just about covers it," Bashir says glumly. "Thanks."

But then he sees something on the Promenade, and steps out of Quark's with Ezri behind him. Sarina is standing there, looking around. "Sarina, what are you looking at?" asks Bashir, not expecting an answer. Then, to his amazement, in a voice like that of a deaf person, she replies softly, "Everything." She is startled when she realizes she actually spoke aloud.

Bashir takes her to the infirmary, where she delights in the sights and sounds everyone else takes for granted. She seems fine, apart from elevated norepinephrine levels, and quotes back what Bashir had said to his nurses about that, having been listening. "I kept thinking that I wanted to thank you for what you were trying to do for me, and now I finally can. Thank you."

Sarina is then brought back to see her friends, who are astounded when she speaks to them. "Hello, everyone." "I don't think I've heard a more beautiful sound in my life," beams Lauren. Jack, however, finds fault with Sarina's odd speech cadences. To give her some practice, he begins singing the scale of musical notes for her to follow. The others join in, turning it into a whole, improvised song. As Sarina sings with them, her voice becomes surer and sweeter. Bashir listens in fascination, smiling as he watches her blossom before his eyes.

"It was amazing," he enthuses to O'Brien later. "Within a few minutes, Sarina's voice just took off. That kind of improvement usually takes weeks of speech therapy...I still can't get over that transformation. Yesterday, she was silent as a stone. Today, she's singing and laughing. You should've seen her, Miles!" "How could I? I've been sitting here all night," O'Brien replies pointedly, and Bashir realizes he forgot all about their regular Thursday night get-together. However, the Chief forgives him. "I'm happy for her. Happy for both of you."

Going to his quarters, Bashir is surprised to see Sarina there; she broke his access code (after all, it only has six digits). She says she couldn't sleep, and confesses that she doesn't want to. "What if I wake up the way I was?" "That's not going to happen," Bashir tells her tenderly, putting an arm around her. "Your life's going to be different now. Your future is full of possibilities. You know, you're going to be doing things that you haven't even dreamed of. There's really no reason to be afraid." As he's speaking, she falls asleep with her head on his shoulder.

He wakes up there, to find her reading the PADD he was working on earlier; she tells him the solution to his problem with the virus mutation, and gets him breakfast. "I'm glad I could do something for you. You've done so much for me." Bashir is called to surgery at that moment; Sarina indicates she would like to spend time with Jack and the others.

In the cargo bay/dorm, Lauren is dreamily studying a picture of Nog (whom she considers handsome) while Jack and Patrick work on a way to stop the collapse of the universe. When Sarina arrives, they get her involved, but Sarina is the only one who seems to realize how preposterous their ideas are. "We're trying to save existence as we know it, and all you can do is criticize," Jack tells her. "I'm sorry," Sarina says, chastened.

When Bashir joins them later, he is disturbed to see Sarina sitting staring into space while the others talk, just like she was before. But she finally focuses on him. Nothing's wrong, she assures him. "They're used to my being quiet. It's easier this way." Not sure he likes that, Bashir invites her along to a dinner he's having tonight with some friends at Quark's. The others are disappointed not to be included, but Lauren generously dresses Sarina up a bit.

At Quark's, Bashir introduces her to O'Brien, Ezri, Odo, and Kira. Sarina remembers O'Brien as Julian's best friend, and is confused when they downplay it. Ezri tells her men have trouble expressing their feelings, but Sarina observes that Odo doesn't: he's showing his, by holding Kira's hand. Later, on the Promenade, Sarina offers Bashir her take on his friends. "If I had to find someone to replace Atlas and hold up the world, it'd be Miles -- he'd do it with a smile, too. And Kira -- she never doubts herself, which is why Odo finds her fascinating. because he doubts everything but her." As for Ezri, "The day she realizes she's more than just the sum of her parts, she's really going to be something." Bashir jokes that he'll have to start practicing his poker face.

"Too late," Sarina says. "You've already given yourself away." "Is that right? And how would you describe me?" "Compassionate," she tells him. "Brilliant. Lonely." This catches him off guard, though he tries to pass it off. The talk moves on to Jack and the others, who Sarina knows couldn't get by in the real world; they would get into too much trouble. Bashir tells her that Dr. Loews wants them back at the Institute as soon as possible.

"I'm not going with them, am I?" Sarina asks, saddened by the thought of saying goodbye to her friends. "They've been like a family to me for as long as I can remember...As difficult as they can be sometimes, I'm going to miss them. We had our own little world, just the four of us." She looks out at the stars. "So, what's a genetically enhanced girl supposed to do when she wakes up from a long sleep? Point to one of those little specks of light out there, pack a bag, and go make a life for herself?" "Why does she have to go anywhere at all?" Bashir replies. Gently, greatly daring, he kisses her. Sarina looks back at him with wonder, shy and a bit overwhelmed, but not unwilling.

Jack, Lauren, and Patrick are upset when Bashir breaks the news to them, that Sarina isn't going back with them. "We did not help you so you could take her away from us!" Jack declares hotly. Patrick tearfully asks if Bashir can do the same thing for them that he did for Sarina. "Go on, Julian, tell him," Lauren says. "There's nothing you can do for us. We're too far gone." It's true.

"Well, they took it rather hard," Bashir admits to Sarina. To cheer her up, he takes her to Quark's, where she proceeds to win game after game of Dabo, much to Quark's dismay. However, Sarina is quite willing to take up Quark's suggestion that they sit down and have some spring wine on the house. As Sarina is following Bashir and Ezri to a table, a Klingon bumps into a nearby waiter, who drops the tray he's carrying. Sarina freezes, as if the sound is too much for her nervous system. But she comes out of it when Bashir turns back to wave her forward. "Julian, would you mind if we left?"

Bashir walks her to her quarters, and suggests a quiet dinner tomorrow night. Also, he's got a week's leave coming, and thinks they could go to Risa together for some time alone. "All right," Sarina says, but there's a hint of hesitation in her face that Bashir fails to pick up on.

"She's wonderful, Miles," Bashir tells O'Brien rapturously as the Chief fixes a replicator. "I've never met anybody like her. She's brilliant, sweet -- everything's new to her. Being with her is so refreshing. She takes such delight in what she's experiencing. It makes me appreciate things I usually take for granted." Though O'Brien is busy, he finds time to voice a little caution. "I haven't seen you like this for a long time, and I'm really happy for you. But don't you think it's all happening just a little too fast?" He points out that Sarina is his patient, but Bashir says he has asked another doctor to take over her case. "Miles, I don't think you understand what this means to me. All these years I've had to hide the fact that my DNA had been resequenced. I'd listen to people talk about the genetically engineered, saying they were all misfits. I used to fantasize about meeting someone who was like me who could live a normal life. But it never happened. Until Sarina. Don't you see? She's the woman I've been waiting for all my life." O'Brien sincerely wishes him luck.

The next night, Bashir has a nice romantic dinner all set up, complete with music, but Sarina never shows up. Finally, he asks the computer where she is; she's in her quarters. There is no response when he goes there and chimes it. Overriding the door locks, he goes in and sees her sitting on the couch, completely unresponsive.

In the infirmary, as Sarina is being scanned by his assistant, Bashir tells Ezri that her thalamic pathways are still functional, but there seems to be no detectable neural activity in them. There's nothing he can do except hope she pulls out of it. "Sarina, don't be afraid," he says to her. "Everything's going to be all right. I'm not going to give up on you. Ever."

However, in desperation, he finally brings her to Jack and the others. "Why should we help you?" Jack demands. "You just want to steal her away from us." "Look at her," Bashir says. "Do you really want her to spend the rest of her life like this? I've been trying to find a way to reach her, but I can't. Maybe there isn't one. All I'm asking is that you try. The three of you know her better than anyone else. Please. I don't want to lose her." At last, Lauren tells him, "All right, Julian. Leave her here with us for a while. We'll see what we can do."

Bashir goes to his quarters, where his dinner settings are still out, and waits, miserable. Once they're sure they've got the answer, Sarina's friends make their way over to Bashir's quarters (getting lost once). "She can still talk," Patrick tells Bashir. "It's just that she's afraid to." They don't know what she's afraid of, but Jack says it has something to do with Bashir.

Stricken, Bashir goes to her. "Sarina, talk to me, please. I know you can. What's wrong? Is it me? If it is, don't be afraid. I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it right. Because I love you. I want us to be together. Tell me." At last he sees a tear trickling down her cheek. "Do you love me?" "I don't know," she finally says, in anguish. "I don't even understand what love is. I don't understand anything...What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to feel? Tell me. I want to make you happy. I owe you everything." Bashir looks at her, realizing at last the depth of her confusion, and what he's done to her. In his desire for someone to love, he has been pushing her too fast. He holds her close. "No," he says. "You don't owe me anything." "I'm sorry," Sarina tells him softly. "I wish I could be the woman you want me to be."

O'Brien joins Bashir at the replimat. Sarina's transport leaves in a few minutes; the others left this morning, back to the Institute. Sarina is going to take up an internship at the Corgal Research Center, staying with one of the scientists there. Bashir blames himself for everything. "How could I have been so blind? What was I thinking, trying to move things along so fast? She needed time. I didn't give it to her. I came this close to driving her back inside herself. I'm supposed to be a doctor. I'm supposed to put my patient's needs above my own." "You didn't want to be lonely anymore," O'Brien tells him. "Nobody does." He invites him to dinner, but Bashir declines.

He goes to see Sarina off. "So here you are, on your way to one of those tiny little specks of light out there." "I guess that's what a genetically enhanced girl should do when she wakes up from her sleep -- go make a life for herself," Sarina replies, smiling bravely. "I'm going to miss you." "I'm going to miss you," Bashir tells her, his heart breaking. With a last look between them, she boards the ship, and he watches it pull away from the station.

  • An early idea for this episode involved Jack being turned normal, only to ultimately revert (like the main character in the story "Flowers For Algernon").
  • The musical "improvisation" piece was actually written by Jay Chattaway, who composed it as a "motet" (a Middle Ages form). The real voices of Faith Salie, Hilary Shepard-Turner, and Michael Keenan were used; Tim Ransom had to be dubbed over.