We can now reveal our remixes. Yay!
The original story was A Five-Point Tour of the Alpha Quadrant by mosca, a "five things" story about Miles O'Brien.
Here's the info:
Title: Five Easy Steps to a Broken Heart
(Keiko’s Heart Remix)
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Summary: Five things that won’t happen to Keiko O’Brien
Fandom: Deep Space Nine
Warnings: Character(s) death(s); mild profanity; hinted-at slash (O'Brien/Bashir)
Spoilers: Spoilers for all of Deep Space Nine
Title, Author and URL of original story: A Five-Point Tour of the Alpha Quadrant by mosca.
1. San Francisco, California, Earth
Miles hates it here.
Keiko suspects that he also hates her.
He complains about the cold, the fog, the damp, the job, the students, the food, and her late hours. Nothing makes him happy.
She’s at a loss about what she should do. By any standard they’ve won themselves a happily ever after, one that’s well deserved after surviving the Borg, Romulans, Orion Syndicate, Paghwraith possession, the Maquis, Klingons, and the Dominion. Hard is it is to believe, that list encompasses one starship, one space station, two wars, and more than ten years of courtship and marriage.
She can tick off the facts and figures, but it doesn’t quite cover everything that they and their marriage have survived. When they left Deep Space Nine, she believed they were riding into the sunset. And though they were battered, tired, and sore from the years of external strife that surrounded them, they were happy.
They were, damn it!
She never thought, never believed, for one second that their ultimate undoing would be the day they became Herberts. No, no! The word is mundane, not Herberts. Herberts is the word her mother uses in describing her’s and Miles’s cool, comfortable life in San Francisco. Count on mom to use her grandmother’s most insulting patois for the bourgeoisie. Although, in her most frigid moments, Keiko has to admit that Herberts is a particularly apt description of what she and Miles have become.
He used to have hobbies. He used to have friends. He and Julian would spend hours on the holodeck re-fighting the Alamo or the Blitz or playing racquetball or just paling around. There was a challenging job that tested all his skills and the harsh reality of war and moments of sweetness that she and Miles would both cling to because there was a very good chance Miles might not survive the next trip out on the Defiant. And yes, sometimes she resented the time he spent with Julian, with his friends, or with the cold machinery on station and ship, but when he was with her, he was really with her. He was warm, and real, and so very there in mind and body. Especially in body.
Now he’s a ghost of what he once was. He’s coasting in a job that’s far too easy and regimented. And though the family sees him more often than they would if they were still on the front lines of space exploration, he’s barely there even when he’s in the same room. It’s almost as if he’s left the most important part of himself half-a-galaxy away.
The distance has affected Molly. She hides in books and fantasy and Keiko suspects that she may be trying to find the happy ending she should’ve gotten instead of the happy ending she’s been dealt. Keiko doesn’t even want to think that Yoshi will never know his father as he used to be--laughing, twinkling eyes, carefree, alive--and instead will grow up believing that this pale imitation is the real thing.
Keiko wants to do something a little crazy just to wake Miles up and bring back the heat, but she lacks imagination. She’s reduced to fantasizing about screaming, and yelling, and throwing things just to break through the icy wall of silence. She’s even fallen into daydreaming about initiating an affair with a co-worker at the Arboretum, if only so she could have a warm, living soul to cling to.
Fight or affair. They’re both such Herbert choices, especially when the situation calls for the grand gesture of insane desperation. And it’s so very sad that she’ll probably never act on either fantasy or daydream, even though her bed is getting colder by the night. One night she’ll freeze to death in her sleep. She wonders if Miles will finally take an interest in her again when it happens.
She cocoons the blankets around her in an effort to get warm and pretends not to hear Miles’s subtle moans in the bathroom as he brings himself off. When he crawls into bed, she wishes he’d yank the cold covers off her and wrap his warm body around hers until the ice age melts away.
2. Daystrom Institute, Biology Annex, Vulcan
Miles made his weekly call to the children a day early. He said the Telosian flu was wiping out his crew, so there was a very good chance he wouldn’t be able to call tomorrow due to a double shift, so he thought he’d do it today.
Keiko has told him, and told him, and told him. Stick to the schedule. Don’t wander from the script. The children need to keep to a routine. One small break and…
Just like clockwork, Molly’s fallen into a sulk and is refusing to leave her room. Keiko can hear her shuffling around behind the closed door and she tenses, knowing that the next step will involve Molly emerging, the commencement of a blow-out fight, followed by Molly storming out of the house and disappearing into the windswept sands of Vulcan.
Keiko is terrified that one of these days Molly won’t come back.
But Molly hates change--is terrified of any break in the routine--so Keiko knows she’ll come back and neither she nor her daughter will discuss the latest ripple in their relationship because it’s part of the reassuring pattern that Molly desperately needs.
Miles calling on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Keiko’s new boyfriend. Changes in class schedules. Substitute teachers. Doing laundry on Monday instead of Tuesday. Watering the plants in the morning instead of at night. All of these little breaks from the usual are enough to send Molly into a tailspin that always ends with her lashing out.
She tried to explain Molly’s problem to Miles as he jumped at the opportunity to get posted to yet another run-down station at the edge of the galaxy. Miles didn’t want to hear it and insisted that Keiko was seeing things that weren’t there. He even accused her of making mountains out of molehills because Keiko was the one who didn’t want to face another off-planet posting.
Miles doesn’t understand, doesn’t even want to see, that Molly has known nothing but chaos before they moved to Vulcan. She was born during an attack that left them locked in the Ten-Forward lounge on the Enterprise. She endured an early childhood of being yanked around between planets and Deep Space Nine, mostly because of the War with the Dominion. Those last years on the station were the worst. Keiko remembers them as bags that were constantly packed “just in case;” sudden evacuations as the front moved closer to Bajor; and unsettling returns as the front receded. Miles just doesn’t get that every time he walked out that door, Molly sensed that it might be the last time that she’d see him alive.
Miles honestly believes that Starfleet life is stable, certainly more stable that civilian life. Well, he didn’t have to deal with Molly’s night terrors during the war and he doesn’t have to deal with the nightmares she still has. He didn’t stumble across her backpack yesterday that was stuffed with her clothes, a favorite book, and freeze-dried emergency rations.
Yoshi, thank heavens, is too young to really remember the darkest years of the Dominion War, so he doesn’t live with the same fears that Molly does. Keiko has every intention of making sure it stays that way. It’s bad enough that she’s sacrificed one child on the altar of Starfleet. She will not sacrifice another if she can help it.
Miles believes that Keiko is being selfish when she insists that the children need the stability that only a planetside life can provide. They need the safety of friends they know will be there next year, and the next, and the next after that. They need a mother who isn’t going crazy from worry whenever she hears about an accident somewhere on a space station. They need to be able to point to a house, call it home, and know that it’ll still be there for them come hell, high water, or the Dominion.
Sure, there’s the myth of the happy-go-lucky, levelheaded Starfleet brat, but Keiko wants to know how many of those children actually lived on the frontlines of a war that involved the Federation’s very survival. How many of those children actually survived not just one, but several evacuations while the claxons blared? Most especially, she wants to know how many of those kids are actually happy with their lot or have learned at a young age to suck it up and live life the Starfleet way.
Judging by the number of children that end up following their parents into Starfleet service, she’s guessing that most Starfleet brats have learned to not fight fate. Look at Jake. He was terrified that his own father would reject him because he didn’t want to put on a red uniform. Sisko was a better father than that, certainly better than Miles, as it turns out.
Well, her children are going to have a choice. They are not going to have the specter of the uniform in their future unless they want it.
And come hell, high water, or the Dominion, Molly will someday sleep the whole night through and not wake screaming because she believes her world is ending again.
3. The Dreamer’s Gamble, Badlands
She shivers in the Jeffries Tube while the crew turns the ship upside down looking for her. It’s a matter of time before the engineer fixes the internal sensors and they find her tiny heat signature in the bowels of the ship.
Right about now she regrets every complaint that came out of her mouth when she’d catch Miles pouring over the latest technical manuals or ship schematics instead of helping her with chores, the children, or diner. If she knew then what she knew now? She would’ve spent a lot more time reading over his shoulder and asking questions and less time reading him the riot act for getting lost in his PADDs.
At least she knows enough to kill the internal sensors and how to make the warp core go boom. Probably learned it through osmosis because she doesn’t remember Miles ever explaining to her how to do either. Or maybe he did and she listened with only half-an-ear as she nodded and hit the replicator buttons to call up diner. Or maybe she absorbed it while he’d talk to himself trying to figure out another fix for those damn hybrid systems on Deep Space Nine.
She’ll never know now.
The sound of footsteps finally fades and she pokes her head out. Thank heavens. She has a straight shot across the corridor to the engine room and no one is watching. Right there is the difference between Starfleet and the Orion Syndicate. In Starfleet, if there were a hostile loose aboard the ship, the chances of the engine room being left unguarded would be exactly zero.
She falls out of the tube into the corridor, pulls her stolen phaser out of her waistband, and tries not to think about the engineers she’ll have to kill before she triggers the sequence that’ll blow up the ship. She tries not to think about the fact that she’ll probably be killed before she even gets close. She’s a scientist, not a soldier. Soldiering was Miles’s job, not hers.
But she’s not going to let the Orion Syndicate use her as a pawn to blackmail Miles into doing something illegal or, worse, turning himself over to suffer Syndicate justice for what he did to foil the assassination attempt on that Klingon ambassador during the war. She knows from experience that Miles will move heaven and earth to save her, even if it means his shallow grave on an unnamed asteroid.
Better he believes that the “I’m leaving you” note she wrote with a phaser pointed at her temple is real.
Better that Miles hates her and lives.
4. Robinson Memorial Psychiatric Hospital, Kilatxayi, Adialu Prefecture, Betazed
“He thought I was Keiko today.”
“Are you sure he actually thought you were and didn’t just accidentally call you that?”
“No. It was pretty clear in his thoughts. He thought I was Keiko. He even asked why I don’t visit as much.”
“Damn. Just when I think he’s about to accept reality…”
“He’ll never accept what happened. Any of us Betazeds on staff could tell you that, doctor.”
“Allow me my feeble human hope.”
“Fed daily by the fact that you can’t actually see his thoughts. At least today he thought I was Keiko. If I never again walk in on him when he thinks he’s in that Cardasian holding cell while they’re ripping out a molar, it’ll be too soon.”
“Still, most days he seems to understand that Keiko and the children are…”
“He doesn’t. Look what he handed me to prove he was ‘getting better.’”
“‘Keiko is my wife. My daughter is Molly. My son is Yoshi. They live in San Francisco…’”
“‘Live.’ He’s still thinking of them in the present tense.”
“This is…I don’t…I thought sure…”
“I can feel your heart breaking.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that it’s not polite to read someone while they’re organizing their thoughts?”
“Sorry. Our planet. Our rules. Actually, sometimes I forget that it unnerves humans. I’ll keep the comments to myself in the future.”
“Please don’t. When you’re right, you’re right. It’s just…this case…”
“Heartbreaking is really the only word to describe it.”
“Unsettling is a better word.”
“Everyone has their breaking point. His was a fatal transporter accident.”
5. Kumamoto, Japan, Earth
There are some things that only a wife knows.
Like how your husband and his best friend look at each other a beat too long, or how they lose themselves in fantasy worlds where women are scarce, or how their hands casually brush each other’s shoulders and arms more than is entirely necessary.
Keiko knows Miles loves her, knows it right down to her toes. But she also knows that he loves Julian just a little bit more. She knows they never went beyond looks and casual touches while she and Miles were married. She thinks. She hopes. She’s not sure. Actually, she’s afraid to ask.
Which is a prime example of how a wife can delude herself. Or maybe it doesn’t apply to “a wife” in the general sense so much as applies specifically to her.
She thought she had played it right. Step back. Give Miles room. At the end of the day, at the end of the shift, Miles was in her bed and no one else’s. Oh. Except for the times she was on Bajor doing a botanical survey. Or when she and the children were evacuated to Bajor during the war. Or when…or when…or when…
The point is this: when she was on station Miles shared his bed with her, not Julian, and that’s what counted.
She thought she had him back all to herself when they finally left the station behind and Julian was tied up with Ezri. All she had to do was wait until time and distance did the rest.
It almost worked.
Almost is such an awful word. It calls up images of no cigars, being second best, and grasping for something just out of reach.
When Julian went through a nasty break-up with Ezri, who was the first person he called? Barely a word in over a year, and just like that Julian’s back in their lives. True, he was an image on a screen or text messages on Miles’s PADD, but he was the elephant in the room, the unspoken third party in their marriage.
It’s hard when you can feel your husband slipping away even as you hold him tight.
When Starfleet knocked on their door and “requested” that Miles return to Deep Space Nine to fix the mess left behind by a revolving door of chief of operations officers, Keiko knew she might as well kiss Miles good-bye and wish him the best of luck in his new life without her.
Yes, there are some things only a wife knows and one of those things is to know when she’s been beat. The only thing left to do is to gracefully exit stage left.
But there are some things that a mother needs, and that is to have her children with her, which is why her exit wasn’t nearly as graceful as it should have been.
Her mother’s comfort leaves a lot to be desired. You were living a fool’s dream if you thought any divorce could be completely civil.
She supposes her mother should know what she’s talking about since mom just burned through her third…no, wait…forth marriage.
So much for breaking the cycle. Maybe she should try women next time, that is if she can find the pieces of her broken heart, glue them together, and gather enough courage to go out there and gamble on love one more time.
She can forgive Miles for preferring a space station more than her; she can even forgive Miles for preferring someone else more than her. What she can’t forgive is Miles following the judge’s decree to the letter and taking Molly away from her.
She feels like half of her has been transported back into the space and back into the past. She can’t help but brood on the unfairness of the situation. She did everything right, or at least tried to, and it was never enough. She suspects that right about now Miles is casting her in the role of bad-guy ex-wife while he waits for the papers that’ll declare him a free man and give him full-time custody of Molly.
But she hopes, oh she hopes, that someday Miles will ask to speak to her after he’s through with his weekly call to Yoshi or she’s through with her weekly call to Molly. She hopes he’ll look at her with that familiar twinkle in his eyes and ask how she knew.
When that day comes, she knows, she believes, they can finally be friends.