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As asked for by [livejournal.com profile] dreamplum in my Ficlet Wishes offering:

***

Nobody liked the physical exam on Arial once a year. But at least Inara would meet other companions, talk to them, exchange news on Houses…and maybe something else, she thought as she eyed the young girl who sat next to the door. Lean, well-trained and with a lot of constrained energy in her features, she reminded her of Zoe.

The door to the surgery opened, and a nurse in white came out, a computer pad in her hand. "Ezri Sisko Dax?" she asked, her eyes wandering over the sitting companions.

"Here," the young girl said and went with her. But not without a last smile to Inara.

*

Luck came, luck stayed, and they shared a room. Ezri was rather new in the Guild and eager to listen to news from the outer moons, hear about adventures and what life was like as freelance Companion. Sitting close together, Inara told her stories – being close together in bed, Inara showed her new tricks. Ezri's lips were soft, her kisses tender; later the young girl told her that she hadn't ever been in bed with another woman. But she learned fast.

*

Ezri's skin was in sharp contrast to the white linen. And on her skin, the dark tattooed spots were in milder contrast to her brown skin.

"It must have been a lot of work to get these spots done. Didn't it hurt?" Inara asked once, when her fingers moved along the pattern from Ezri's shoulders down over her hips.

Ezri pondered the answer, but finally shook her head. "No, it didn't. It always felt as if they belong there."

*

There was a scar on Ezri's stomach, something that was unusual in the Guild where usually perfect beauty was the first similarity between the women. However, the scar was perfectly straight and regular and therefore added more to than subtracted from Ezri's beauty; it looked almost as if it had a ritual meaning.

"Did you have surgery here?" Inara asked when they left the shower the next morning. As a companion, one learned quickly that curiosity was allowed and even welcome, but only one question at one time.

"Yes," Ezri said, a shadow crossing her features. "But it didn't work out."

*

The day came and went with examinations. It was when they had met again, eaten and made love that Ezri turned to her in the twilight of the room and said rather suddenly, "The scar - it was something I had to try for my mother. I wanted to save a part of her. But I couldn't."

"I'm very sorry." Inara stroked her forehead, her fingertips trailing along the line of spots.

"She wanted it so much. It was her only wish. But it didn't work out. And so we lost everything, my father and me."

"I see," Inara said softly.

"My father had often allured to having lost everything before, but this time obviously was the worst. He got kind of crazy. Talked about "prophets" and that they would appear one day and save him from this universe. That time was irrelevant for them and they'd turn back the clock and save my mother."

Ezri stared at the ceiling. "My name...it appeared to my father once. Ezri. I'm named after the illusions of a mad man."

"Is he still alive?"

Ezri shrugged. "I guess so. He's good at surviving. He's good with ships and crews. Almost like what you said about your captain. Good men who have seen too much, lost too much. Something's wrong with them now, and it can't be fixed. Something's broken."

Captain Reynolds is no mad man, Inara was about to say, when she remembered some instances that might prove her wrong, and so she stayed quiet. But Ezri's moment of openness was gone; she kissed Inara good night and rolled around to sleep.

*

"Maybe we meet again here next year," Inara said when they were about to depart from the medical center.

"Maybe, yes. I'd love too," Ezri said and smiled.

Of course, chances were minimal and they both knew it. The universe was big and the paths of companions of different Houses seldom crossed more than once.

"Thank you for the wonderful time," Inara said and leaned forward into a kiss. It was anything but chaste, but a companion knew everything about control and so she didn't allow the heat to rise inside of her.

When their lips parted, she stroked along the fascinating spots once more, then through Ezri's short, black, curled hair. "Take care, Ezri Dax Sisko."

"I will." The young girl nodded. "Take care too, Inara Serra." She walked away, her youthful, energetic steps in the hallway displaying a liveliness that the companion training hadn't been able to completely subdue.

So much like Zoe, Inara thought with an inward smile, and suddenly looked very much forward to join the Serenity crew again.

***

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July 2014

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