See PROLOGUE for disclaimer and comments.

ACT V

(The next day, a briefing room. SISKO is sitting at the head of the table, around which are assembled DAX, KIRA, ODO, WORF, BASHIR and O'BRIEN. They
look chagrined, he appears to be winding down a long harangue)

SISKO:...and the upshot is, we still have a changeling roaming the station. Now that is absolutely unacceptable. Our response to the crisis was pathetic, and I include myself in that condemnation. We *cannot* afford to rely on technology to the extent that we do. And with that in mind, I have mandated Federation Standard refreshser courses for all senior personnel--(there is a universal groan)--commencing immediately. (trying to soften the blow) We're fortunate enough to have one of the premiere Federation Standard scholars on the station with us...

(Cut to GARAK's shop; he is finishing up OPHIDIA's alterations.)

OPHIDIA: Thanks, Garak, you're sweet to take the time to do this.

GARAK: The pleasure's mine.

OPHIDIA: What do I owe you?

GARAK: Actually, I wondered if we could make this a purely verbal transaction.

OPHIDIA: Pardon?

GARAK: You speak French, do you not? I've heard you perform in it.

OPHIDIA: Yes...sort of...

GARAK: There are a few things I'd like to learn how to say. If you can teach me the proper pronunciation...(OPHIDIA laughs; he hands her a PADD)

OPHIDIA: I'll do my best. (Looks at the PADD) This would be "donne-moi ta bouche..." (GARAK nods) And this here is--well, derriere or the more colloquial "cul"...(GARAK smiles; she looks over the list) Now these four in the middle I don't know the vocabulary for, but there must be a dictionary that would list the necessary anatomical terms...

(Cut to Keiko's erstwhile schoolroom. The entire senior staff is sitting in it. They look restive. The camera pans over their heads to the front of the room, where we see BARCLAY standing in front of a large screen with undecipherable symbols on it)

BARCLAY: Now Fed Standard is an inflected language, meaning the word order doesn't matter as long as you get the right form of the word, for instance like in Latin or in Dehenan the nouns are what we call declined, now there are only four cases, since that seemed to be all that was required...

(As BARCLAY continues, we pan to BASHIR, who is typing on his PADD; he hands it to DAX, who is sitting next to him. The message reads, "PLEASE. KILL ME NOW." DAX types "BETTER IDEA. KILL BENJAMIN." and hands it back. BASHIR chortles when he reads it)

BARCLAY: Doctor Bashir? (BASHIR looks up, panicky)

BASHIR: Y-yes?

BARCLAY: Can you tell us what the accusablative of "hopnat" is?

BASHIR: Um..."splotnat?" (Laughter)

BARCLAY: If you spent more time paying attention and less passing notes to your seatmate, maybe you would...(BASHIR hangs his head in shame; we dissolve to the next scene)

(The next evening, in Quark's. OPHIDIA is in the middle of a number that seems ot involve a lot of complicated technology. The mood is convivial; there is a small group of enthusiasts sitting near the stage paying attention to the actual song, but mostly people are circulating and chatting. There is a general sense of relief and well-being. KIRA and ODO are sitting at a table together)

OPHIDIA: Uh, let's see, it was on an island.
         And there was a snake living on the island,
         And this snake had legs.
         Yes, that's true.
         A snake with legs.

ODO: (after they have sipped their drinks in silence for a while) Do *all* solids--

KIRA: (irritated) Yes, Odo, *all* solids do that, if they're lucky. All in different ways, of course. Come on, Odo, you must have heard before this where babies come from--

ODO: If *that's* where babies come from I think we *all* have cause for concern.

(The camera moves past them to SISKO and WORF, who are sitting at a table. DAX is sitting by herself at another table a few feet away, staring at them moodily)

OPHIDIA: And a man and a woman were living together on the island,
         And they were not very smart.
         But they were always as happy as...clams.

SISKO: Fascinating, Commander. Tell me more about the Klingon honor code.

DAX: You can't avoid me forever, Benjamin!

WORF: (ignoring her) To leave the battlefield alive once a kinsman has fallen is the worst crime possible--

DAX: And it's only a matter of time before you've heard all you can stand about Klingon culture! (O'BRIEN enters and approaches her table)

O'BRIEN: This seat taken?

DAX: Why no, Chief. Join me, by all means. (Smiles slightly to herself)

OPHIDIA: And one day the snake was out walking in the garden
         And he saw the woman and they started to talk.
         And they became friends.
         *Very* good friends.

O'BRIEN: (to DAX) What's going on here?

DAX: Ssssh. It's her Laurie Anderson set. Ancient performance art. Great stuff.

O'BRIEN: Ah. (Looks around for a beer)

OPHIDIA: And the woman liked the snake very much
         Because when he talked, he made little noises with his mouth
         And his long tongue was lightly flicking about his lips...

O'BRIEN: Iiiiiich!

DAX: (to O'BRIEN) Hush up. (We pan over to another table, where BASHIR and GARAK are sitting finishing their dinners)

BASHIR: And you're not going to tell me what you were saying.

GARAK: (with a bright smile) Not if you paid me.

BASHIR: Well, that's all right, I'm not going to either. (They grin archly at each other.)

OPHIDIA: ...and this is not a story my people tell...
        This is something I know...myself.
        And when I do my job,
        I am thinking about these things.

GARAK: It's not very interesting, really. (Looks at him) It was mostly just "I love you," said in various different ways...

BASHIR: Funny, I was about to say the same thing...

GARAK: ...some more profane than others. (BASHIR smiles)

BASHIR: I wish I spoke your language.

GARAK: (seriously) I'm glad you don't. (BASHIR looks puzzled. GARAK looks back up at OPHIDIA; BASHIR follows his sight line)

OPHIDIA: Ooooooh, la la la la-aaa...
         Voici ma langue
         Voici le language de mon coeur.
         Voici le language de l'amour.

GARAK: But Ophidia has taught me some of yours.

BASHIR: (looking at him and smiling) Oh *really*?

GARAK: Just the important vocabulary. You know...(taking the hand BASHIR had laid on the table) L'amour...le petit mort...baise-moi...

BASHIR: Oh no no, "kiss me" is "embrasse-moi." I know it's confusing because "baiser" is "to kiss" but "baise-moi" means--(breaks off as he sees Garak's expression) Oh she told you what it means.

GARAK: Exactement. (Kissing his hand) Baise-moi...entre-moi...(moving up his arm to whisper in his ear) Pris-moi comme un rhinoceros enrage des
marais du Scaranth...(BASHIR waves to a passing ROM)

BASHIR: (urgently) Could we have the check, please?  (Back up to OPHIDIA, who has finished her number. She bows)

OPHIDIA: That's all folks. (Watches BASHIR and GARAK sneaking out the entrance and smiles) Happy Valentine's day. (She snaps her fingers. Blackout.)

*The End*