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Unwanted Help

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Quark was taking a break from behind the bar, walking around to check that all was in order and that the Dabo tables were bringing in an adequate amount of profit. All was satisfactory until his eyes fell on the collection of decorative (and of course, empty) exotic liquor bottles on the end of the bar furthest away from the door. He frowned. Surely there had been 10 the last time he had taken a look around, and now there were 11. His frown deepened into a scowl. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” he muttered.

“What did you say?” Rom asked. His brother had come up behind him.

“A human saying, one of the few that makes any sense,” he replied absently. Then he registered who he was talking to. “What are you doing away from the bar?”

“You told me to change the ice buckets, Brother,” explained Rom, showing Quark the two he was holding.

“Well, you’re taking too long about it! Get back behind the bar and make sure the other bartenders aren’t swindling me out of my profits. No, put those down first!”

Quark watched as Rom put the ice buckets down and hurried off towards the bar. Then he made his way seemingly nonchalantly towards the display of bottles, greeting customers as he went. When he arrived at his destination he looked round to make sure that no-one was listening, then addressed the group of bottles. “Why are you spying on me, Odo? I’m not doing anything illegal, and you have no right to keep harassing me like this!”

One of the bottles developed a mouth. “You’re always doing something illegal. If you weren’t I wouldn’t need to ‘harass’ you, as you put it. Anyway, my being here has nothing to do with you for a change. I’m watching something else, so go away and stop drawing attention to me.”

Rom, who had come to that end of the bar to pick up one of the ice buckets that were stashed there, took that moment to ask Quark why he was talking to himself.

"It's none of your business! And why are you behind the bar?"

“You told me to…”

“Well, you’re obviously not doing anything useful there - go and change the ice buckets!”

“Yes, Brother,” sighed Rom. He picked up two of the ice buckets and went off.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Quark turned his attention back to the Odo-bottle. “So, what are you watching, then?”

“I told you, it’s none of your business. Now go away.”

Quark idly looked around then said, “Oh, that pair of Nasats haggling in the corner over there. They take forever to decide on anything, and they hardly ever have to sleep. When we Ferengi do business with them we need to do the negotiations in shifts, and deciding how to apportion the profit between the team members afterwards takes even longer.” He looked more closely at Odo. “How long have you been here anyway? You’re looking a bit fuzzy round the edges. Do you need to sleep or whatever it is you do?” He reached behind the bar for an empty ice bucket. “I can take over the watch for you.”

Odo angrily denied needing it and refused Quark’s offer of help while casting aspersions on Quark’s abilities to do anything useful.

Quark shrugged and said, “Suit yourself.” He went off, leaving the ice bucket nearby. When he turned back a few moments later, he saw one less bottle and smiled to himself. Then he saw Rom approaching the ice bucket that was presumably containing Odo, carrying a full one, and yelled at him to stop. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“You told me to change the ice buckets, and that’s what I’m doing.”

“Well stop doing it and get back behind the bar… leave the ice bucket there! No, both of them!”

Rom went off, muttering to himself.

As soon as he was out of the way, Quark pushed the ‘empty’ ice bucket behind the bottles. Then he looked over at the Nasats, planning his next move.

After a while, he adjusted the collar of his suit and went over to the bar, where he collected a bottle of the strongest intoxicant that Nasats could drink, and three glasses. He went over to the Nasats’ table. “Welcome to Quark’s, gentlebeings! Let me offer you something to drink on the house.” He filled the glasses and sat down at the table with them.

They seemed slightly taken aback, but replied politely and were happy to accept the drinks.

“We don’t get many of your race visiting Deep Space Nine. Are you staying for long or just passing through?”

**********

When Odo ‘woke up’ again, the Nasats were gone. He transformed back into himself into his usual solid state and found Quark. “Well, I see you let the Nasats get away - what a surprise! I suppose you earned yourself a profit by letting them know I was incapacitated too.”

“Actually, they’re both in the brig,” replied Quark.

“How?” Odo demanded, disbelievingly..

“You can thank me for that. I got the Nasats drunk and they told me what contraband they were trading. I suggested a good place for them to make the exchange, then slipped the recording I’d made…” he tapped his collar… “to one of your security guards as we left the bar. So of course there was a reception committee waiting for them and they were arrested. I managed to ‘get away' in the confusion.”

Odo scoffed. “As if I’d believe that! You were trying to make an illegal profit, and you’re just making this story up to weasel your way out of trouble.”

“All right - call the Security Office and ask them if I’m telling the truth.”

Odo did so, and was told that the Nasats were in custody as a result of a tip-off from Quark that they were involved in illegal trading. He turned to Quark after he finished the call. “It seems you were telling the truth,” he said grumpily. “But why? What are you getting out of this?”

Quark threw up his arms in exasperation. “Why do you always think the worst of me? I didn't even find out there was a bounty on one of them till after it was all over! I told you when I tipped you off about the Subytt freighter that we were going to be friends. It looks like I was wrong, though. Fine - I’ll see you around.” He turned to walk away.

“Quark, wait!”

Quark stopped but didn’t turn around.

“I… I apologize. Maybe I am sometimes too quick to assume the worst. Perhaps we could be friends. You’re one of the people I’ve known longest here after all.“

Quark turned back to face Odo, smiling. “Friends, then.”

He held out a hand, and after a moment Odo awkwardly reciprocated, and they shook on it.

“This doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and make a profit whenever I can get away with it,” Quark warned.

“Of course not. And I’m not going to stop trying to catch you out.” Odo smiled. “Actually, I enjoy the challenge,” he admitted. “It gives me something to do when things are quiet. But perhaps now we could collaborate from time to time.”

“I’d like that.”

“Why don’t we go to my office to discuss it?”

“No, not there. I wouldn’t want people thinking you’d got the better of me about something. We can go to my private quarters.”

“Private quarters? I thought you slept on a pile of latinum.”

“Oh, very funny. And I’m sure you’ve never been in them.”

“Well, not in this form…”

“Wonderful - I suppose you’ve seen me in my most intimate moments.” Quark didn’t seem too bothered at the thought, though he muttered about getting Rom to increase the security as he started to put the ice bucket Odo had been in back behind the bar.

“You’re not going to use that again, are you?”

“Why not? You haven’t left any bits behind.” Quark looked inside the ice bucket.

“No, but…” Odo seemed uncharacteristically lost for words.

Quark realized that Odo was actually hurt that it meant nothing to him. Off-handedly he said, “Perhaps I should keep it in case you need it again.” He took a stylus out of one of his many pockets, wrote something on the bucket and showed it to Odo. It said in Ferengi script: ROM, IF YOU TOUCH THIS I’LL DISINHERIT YOU!