Author's Note: I think “Random Thoughts” missed an opportunity to delve deeper into the character of Tom Paris and how far he’s willing to obey Starfleet laws. We know he found reason to break them in “Thirty Days,” so why not for B’Elanna?
Quark was more than a little surprised when the perennially disgruntled Klingon who was somehow (he still didn’t quite understand how) their lovely Science Officer’s husband walked into his bar. Lieutenant Commander Worf was hardly a regular customer. In fact, he seemed to be on a personal mission to ensure that of all Starfleet personnel stationed on Deep Space Nine, he spent the least amount of time in Quark’s, even the holosuites. When he did cross the threshold, it was usually because Jadzia had coaxed him, and he spent practically the whole time sulking.
Thus Quark was even more surprised to see that, first, Jadzia was nowhere in sight, and second, Worf was headed straight for him. Any way you added it up it seemed that an opportunity for profit had just walked through his doors. Surly Klingon or not, Quark was careful not to let opportunities for profit slip away.
He had learned that the best way to deal with Worf was to let him speak first, which he did. “Ferengi,” the ridged officer began. Looking like he would rather be facing the bat’leth champion of the Klingon Empire rather than Quark, he began again. “Quark.”
“Yes?” replied Quark, trying not to sound too eager. That was bad for business.
“I require your assistance.”
“Really?” Of course any Ferengi worth his lobes could’ve figured that out, but no matter. “What can I do for you, Commander?”
“It will be Jadzia’s birthday in less than two months.” Quark hadn’t forgotten. Jadzia’s birthday was always a good day for business, as she was in the habit of treating herself and several friends, or, should she be in an especially good mood, strangers as well.
“I suppose you want to get her something special.”
“And you can’t get it yourself because you don’t have any contacts,” furthered Quark.
“No,” grimaced Worf.
“I’d be happy to help. For a price, of course.”
“Of course,” muttered Worf in what could only be a derogatory manner.
“Now, what are you considering? Is it illegal? Because if it is, I-”
With his signature bluntness, Worf cut off Quark. “I do not want to know. Nor do you wish for me to know.”
“Alright,” conceded Quark. “I take it you have something specific in mind.”
“Yes. I want to get her an Andorian rhan bracelet.”
“Very good taste, Commander. I’m impressed.” Rhan was a delightful shimmery stone that was soft to the touch but practically indestructible. It also happened to be quite rare. “However, rhan is pricey. Pricey transactions are also risky. I think that a twenty percent commission is fair.”
Worf fixed Quark with a stony glare that had melted the resolve of many opponents. “That is unacceptable.”
Quark was unmoved. “I don’t see many other merchants for you to choose from.”
“Haha! They really don’t give you enough credit for your sense of humor around here.”
Doubtlessly the hulking Klingon’s idea of haggling was choking the other unfortunate soul until they would do his bidding for free. Fortunately for Quark, Starfleet frowned on such activity.
“I am not joking.”
Quark made a show of pondering percentages. “Alright, alright.” He held up his hands. “For you, I can take eighteen percent.”
“It is not for me. It is for Jadzia.” Ah, a brain was hiding somewhere behind those ridges after all! Worf had finally stumbled onto his best bargaining chip. Which, of course, Quark had already taken into account. He would indeed take a few percentage points off for Jadzia, but not because they were, as so many Starfleet officers liked to label people, friends. Quark was not a sentimental fool like his brother. No, he had a perfectly sound financial reason for lowering his commission: if Jadzia were to find out that he charged Worf more, it could haveterrible implications for his business. Jadzia was a good customer, and she was also popular around the station. A bad word from her could be disastrous.
Apparently deciding that now was his chance, Worf made his next offer. “Twelve percent.”
“Sixteen. Do you think I do this because I enjoy it?”
Worf didn’t miss a beat. “Yes. Thirteen percent.”
Well, he hadn’t expected that. Quark disliked being surprised, and he especially disliked it when he was bargaining. It threw him off track. “Fifteen,” he said, regretting it as soon as he said it. He had meant to offer fifteen and a half, but Worf had already gone on fifteen percent.
“Fourteen and a half, and that’s final.” Somewhat recovered from his shock, Quark managed to convey that he would go no lower.
“Agreed. Fourteen and a half percent. And I will be checking your math.” With that, Worf pivoted and strode quickly towards the door.
Quark was not entirely pleased with himself. First, because he had allowed himself to be distracted while bargaining. But really, the walking cloud of gloom actually thought he ran a bar for fun? It was unbelievable! Fun would be his own moon. Fun would be being a household name on Ferenginar. Fun would be a lot of things, but a bar on an old Cardassian station run by uptight Federations and Bajorans! To make matters worse, he had fully intended to demand fourteen and three-quarters as soon as Worf walked in, so he had lost a quarter of a percent.
Well, he reasoned, it was for Jadzia.
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