Julian and Garak were sitting together on the floor with the various pieces of a baby crib spread out in front of them and were working on assembling it when Garak let out a surprised gasp. Julian looked up and searched the tailor's startled expression, dropping the tool he was currently holding. "Elim, what's wrong?" he asked, concern marred his face.
Garak slid closer to the doctor and grabbed his hand and placed it on the tailor's stomach. Julian gave the tailor a confused look until he felt the movement under his palm. A smile broke out on the doctor's face.
"The baby just kicked," he explained.
Garak looked at him with shining eyes, "I've never felt anything quite like that before. Our child moving around inside of me like that. . .I. . .I wish I could explain how that felt."
Julian's smile grew, "I hope it didn't bother you too much because I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot more where that came from."
"It didn't bother me at all," the Cardassian assured him. "Actually it's quite reassuring to know that the baby is so healthy and strong." As if to answer, the baby made it's presence known once again and they started to chuckle. "Julian, I hope you're ready to teach our child how to play racquetball because he or she is going to be ready for it." Julian simply chuckled and pulled his husband to him for a kiss.
Later on that evening, Julian was in the Infirmary checking the readings of a research project he had been working on. His mind tried to process the information on the results, but his mind was distracted as he thought about his child's first kick. The look of wonderment on Garak's face would be a look Julian wouldn't soon forget as their child had announced that it was alive and well. Julian would never readily admit it to his spouse, but when he felt their child move under his hand, he couldn't help feeling a touch of envy for Garak. Julian knew Elim would chastise him for his thoughts, but he couldn't avoid the feeling that there should be something more he could be doing for the pregnancy. The doctor thought it was silly, but as Garak developed and grew with the child inside him, Julian started feeling more and more left out of the process. He knew that without the procedure he had preformed that none of this would be happening now, but he still wasn't satisfied that he was doing everything he could be doing. He wanted to be an equal partner in this birth as well as the raising of their child, but how could that be possible? The doctor was so deep in thought that he almost didn't see Dax waving at him to call him over to the table that she and Kira were sharing at the Replimat.
"Julian!" I haven't seen you outside the Infirmary in weeks," the Trill said, waving a hand for Bashir to take a seat, which he did.
"Well, between Garak and being understaffed in the Infirmary, I haven't had much time for anything else," Julian explained.
Dax's smile broadened at the mention of his spouse. "How is Garak doing? Is that itching still driving him crazy?"
"Besides not taking the time off of work I would prefer him to, everything is going well. The second trimester is coming along wonderfully. He still has the itching, but the medication I gave him has helped a lot," Julian replied.
"I hope your making him drink that horrible Carvino juice you made me drink when I was pregnant with Kirayoshi," Kira replied with a mischievous smile.
"Kira, Garak's got it worse than you ever did," Jadzia replied with a matching grin. "After all, can you imagine being forced to spend your entire pregnancy constantly hounded by an overprotective spouse?" She noted that Julian promptly turned a pleasant shade of crimson.
"Hey, I can sympathize. Remember I didn't only have to put up with Miles, but Keiko too. Sometimes I wondered how I stayed sane through the whole thing," the Major replied.
"I do not hound him, I just want him to be cautious," the doctor muttered and Jadzia chuckled.
"I'm only teasing you and you know it," the Trill replied. "There was something I was curious about with Garak and the pregnancy though," Dax continued turning serious for a moment.
"What?" Julian questioned.
"Well, you've said that you're only giving Garak a certain amount of the hormones, right? Only enough to keep the baby in good shape, but not so much that it causes irreversible changes to Garak right?"
"That's right," Julian answered.
"Well, one thing I'm wondering is whether or not Garak will be capable of breastfeeding, if he so chooses," Jadzia replied.
Kira answered before Julian could. "Even if Garak were female, he still wouldn't be able to breastfeed because Cardassian young don't need to be breastfed. When they're born, their digestive systems are naturally able to metabolize and break down normal food that an adult would eat, just in smaller portions, of course."
"Yeah, but the baby is also part Human," Jadzia reminded her, "and Human infants need nourishment that only comes from breastmilk or formula."
Julian couldn't help wondering how they had managed to get on such a topic. "Actually, the baby is going to have to be bottlefed for awhile."
"That's too bad," Dax replied regretfully.
"Why?" the doctor asked curiously.
"Oh, no reason really," Dax replied with a shrug of her shoulders. "I can just recall how it use to feel when any of my former female hosts had become mothers. There wasn't anything in the world like the feeling of rocking your child to sleep as they fed from you."
"I wouldn't know anything about that," Kira replied with a trace of wistfulness in her voice. "I never had the chance to breastfeed Kirayoshi."
"Do you ever regret that?" Julian asked her.
Kira sighed. "Sometimes," she replied. "Sometimes I think it would have been a wonderful experience to get to have and I wonder if I'll ever get the chance again, but other times I'm glad I didn't because it would have it even harder to give him back to the O'Briens when the time had come." Dax reached over and patted her hand understandingly.
"You honestly think it would have made that much of a difference?" Julian asked speculatively.
"Oh, I'm sure it would," Kira replied with confidence. "You're a doctor, Julian, you know the connection a birthmother could make with her child like that." Kira noticed Quark gesturing that their holosuite was ready and she nudged Dax. They both stood and Kira placed a hand on Bashir's shoulder. "In a way, it really is sad that Garak is going to miss out on that." With that, Kira started moving towards the holosuites with Dax following closely behind, leaving Julian alone with his thoughts.
He hadn't really given the idea of breastfeeding much thought because he knew that Garak wasn't going to be able to, so he just pushed the issue away to the back of his mind--until Dax had brought it up again. As a physician, he knew that breastfeeding was healthier for the baby's immune system than bottle feeding. As an expectant father though, he realized what Kira had said was true. . .there was something about breastfeeding that caused a bond to develop between the parent and child. He saw the proof of that every time he looked into the eyes of a mother who had just delivered as he laid the new child in her arms to feed for the first time. He found himself wishing that Garak could share in such a rare event. The thought of nurturing their child in such a way seemed like it would be very special indeed. He supposed that bottlefeeding would do though, seeing as they didn't have much of an option. He looked over at the chronometer and was about to start back to the original destination when he felt a hand land on his shoulder. He looked up to see the Chief of Engineering smiling down at him.
"Julian, I didn't expect to see you sitting here," O'Brien replied with a friendly smile. "You look like you were a quite a few light years away from here. What's got you so preoccupied?"
"Oh, nothing really. Just thinking about things in general," Julian answered vaguely.
The Irishman shrugged his broad shoulders. "Well, would you want to play a round or two of darts?"
"Sure," Julian replied with a ready smile. "Computer, put voice transmission to Bashir-Garak," he replied.
"Garak here," came the Cardassian's answer.
"Elim, it's Julian. Miles wants to play a round of darts so I'll be at Quark's if you need me," Julian explained.
"All right, Jahkim, I'll see you when you get back," Garak replied.
"Call me if you need anything," Julian said.
"Don't worry, I will, just have an good time," the tailor replied and cut the transmission.
O'Brien couldn't help smiling as Julian reminded him so much of himself when Keiko had been expecting Molly. He had been obsessive over her too and could sympathize with his younger friend even though he still liked to poke fun at him occasionally about it like he had several weeks ago. Tonight though, he was feeling generous and decided to relent. "So are we playing or what?" he asked with a smile.
"It would be my pleasure to wipe that smug grin off your face," Julian replied returning the smile.
"You can be my guest to try," O'Brien remarked.
"Oh, I'll do more than try, my friend," Julian promised and weaved his way through the after-dinner crowd to the dart board and grabbed a handful of darts.
Midway through the game, Miles realized that whatever was occupying Julian's thoughts earlier was still causing him some trouble. There wasn't anything overtly different about him, but the Irishman had played enough games of darts to know when the doctor's concentration wasn't at it's usual level.
"All right Julian, what's going on? Your mind obviously isn't on the game," O'Brien commented. "What is it? Are you worried about Garak?"
"Not really," Julian replied as he took his darts out of the board and came to stand behind the Irishman.
"Then what is it?" O'Brien asked.
"Are you sure you want to know?" the doctor queried.
"Of course I do, now will you just tell me so we can get back to our game?" the Chief replied as he took aim with his dart.
"Breastfeeding," Julian replied simply and watched with amusement as O'Brien's dart completely missed the target.
"Pardon me?" the Chief asked, forgetting the game and turning to his friend.
"Kira and Dax started talking to me about whether or not Garak would be able to breastfeed earlier." Julian explained.
Miles couldn't help rolling his eyes, "Julian, please, some images I'd rather do without and that would definitely be one of them."
"You asked," Julian reminded him.
"Well, is he?" the Chief asked curiously, "Going to be able to breastfeed I mean?"
Julian smiled. "No, he won't be able to. It's just that I feel bad that he will be missing out on something as special as that."
"Well, I'm sure your child isn't going to starve just because it won't get nourishment like that. You know there are ways around that," the Chief replied with a shrug. "Now, let's get on with the game all right?" he dictated and took aim with his dart again.
"That's not the point," Julian remarked.
Miles gave a frustrated sigh. He knew the game wouldn't be completed until Julian was finished talking about this. "Then what is the point?"
"Oh come on, Chief, haven't you ever wondered what it felt like for Keiko to have breastfed Molly? To care for and nurture a child like that?" Julian asked.
"Hey, just because I'm a guy, doesn't mean I'm not a caring father," Miles replied.
"I never said you weren't," Julian remarked placatingly, "But don't you think Keiko has a certain bond with Molly because of it? A bond that you might be slightly envious of?"
"Well, maybe a little," Miles admitted grudgingly.
"Then you admit that there is a certain amount importance to it," Julian replied.
"I never said there wasn't," the Chief replied, desperately wanting to change topics.
"Do you think you would have if it were possible?" Julian asked, raising a dart and turning the focus back on the game.
"Would what?" Miles asked.
"Breastfed Molly," Julian replied as he hit the bulls eye.
"Julian!" Miles exclaimed. "This isn't a sort of conversation I'd like to be having at the moment."
"Are you so uncomfortable with the idea that you would refuse if you ever had the opportunity?" Julian asked.
"I didn't say that necessarily," Miles replied, looked around to see who was in Quark's then back to Julian. "I love Keiko and both of my kids and there isn't anything I wouldn't do for any of them, so I guess the answer would be yes. If Keiko couldn't breastfeed when our children were younger and I had the means to do so then I probably would have," Miles answered. "Satisfied?"
"It's just that with Garak carrying our child, I've started feeling like I'm not really a part of it as much as I should be. I feel like I'm just standing around waiting for it all to happen, but not really 'doing' anything," Julian replied.
"That's a pretty normal feeling, Julian. That's what expectant fathers do, they wait," Miles replied.
"Miles, I hardly think that logic applies in this circumstance," Julian replied with a smile. "Anyhow, that's why I brought this up in the first place, I just feel like maybe I would be doing more if I somehow found a way for Garak to nurse."
"Bloody hell, Julian, if it means that much to you, why don't you just do it yourself?" Miles replied in a half-joking, half-frustrated tone.
"What did you just say?" Julian asked staring at the engineer, his hand dropping down to his side.
Miles rolled his eyes, "Never mind, come on and let's finish this game!"
"Why hadn't I thought of that?" Julian murmured to himself.
Miles chuckled, "Come on, Julian, you know I was only joking with you."
"No, Chief, it actually makes sense. I think there could be a way to make that possible," Julian replied, his excitement growing the more he considered it.
"Julian, you can't be serious. You breastfeeding? That's ridiculous!" Miles exclaimed.
"No, no, you're right! Think about it, Garak and I are married and I want us to have a equal part in every aspect of raising this child. What better way to start out than to be able to breastfeed when Garak can't?" Julian's eyes sparkled with anticipation as he handed the darts back to the Chief and turned to move off.
"Hey, where are you going?" O'Brien asked, nonplussed.
"There's some things I want to look up in the Infirmary," Bashir answered over his shoulder as he headed towards that direction.
As Miles watched the doctor leave, he wondered how he had managed to open his mouth just wide enough to have his foot inserted quite comfortably. O'Brien shook his head as he started off in the direction of his quarters. A pregnant male Cardassian tailor with a husband who was thinking of ways to breastfeed? Every time Miles thought he had seen everything, something came along to catch him off guard.
Julian found himself once again in the familiar chair in front of his terminal in the Infirmary, but this time instead of recording research data, the doctor had another purpose in mind for the computer. A hypothesis had formed in his mind and he quickly found the data he was searching for. After an hour of making notes and doing an in depth analysis of what he had planned, Julian sat back in his chair with a satisfied smile and clicked the terminal off. He had managed to find out all the facts about what he wanted to propose to Garak, but he would wait until tomorrow to approach the issue. It was late and he was excited, but exhausted as well. Another reason Julian decided to wait before bringing this was the fact there was one person that he wanted to discuss this with before talking with his husband. In the meantime, Julian wearily made his way back to his quarters and climbed into bed with the Cardassian, who was already fast asleep. After settling down next to the tailor's side, taking care not to disturb him, Julian tenderly planted a soft kiss on the Cardassian's swollen stomach and snuggled up against his warm body for a good night's sleep.
The next morning, Amsha Bashir was standing outside of her sons' quarters. She was extremely curious as to what Julian wanted to discuss with her. The message she had received from Julian earlier had been annoyingly vague. All he had said was that he wanted to talk to her and hoped she could come and have breakfast with him. It was a very rare occurance for Julian to willingly allow himself to be late for duty, especially when the Infirmary was as busy as it had been for past several weeks, so it definitely served to encourage her curiosity. She sounded the chime and as the door slid open, the smell of eggs and bacon drifted invitingly towards her.
"Come in, Mother," Julian invited, already seated at the table.
"Good morning, son. It was nice of you to invite me for breakfast," Amsha replied with a smile, taking her seat opposite of the doctor. "That message you sent me this morning didn't tell me much. What did you want to talk about?"
Julian had just taken a bite of eggs, swallowing a sip of tea, he cleared his throat. "There's a matter I've been thinking about that is going to affect Elim and the baby, so I wanted to ask your opinion of it before I suggest it to him," Julian explained.
"What is it?" Amsha asked as she sipped her hot cup of coffee.
"What would you say if I told you I was thinking about possibly breastfeeding our child?" he asked.
The older woman raised her eyebrow at her son and set the cup in her hand down. "How?" was all she asked.
Julian leaned over the table, "I've been doing some research and I discovered that with the proper hormones, I should be able to stimulate my mammary glands to produce lactation."
Hearing the inflected anticipation in his voice, Amsha couldn't help smiling. "You mean taking hormones like placental estrogen, progesterone, lactogen, prolactin and oxytocin?" Amsha had done her own share of research when she had been pregnant herself and was aware of all the various hormones that went into breastfeeding. Julian smiled and nodded. "Wouldn't there be some dangerous side-effects for you if you took those hormomes?" she asked with concern.
"There is if I were simply to synthesize the Human hormones," Julian confirmed, "But, in doing some research, I found that if those hormones are combined with the Tygarian hormone lycticon and Romulan hormone visterol, that together, they would counter-balance the side-effects without inhibiting the effect I'm wanting. I won't even change physically enough to be noticeable, but I'd still be able to nurse," he explained.
Amsha was silent for a moment before she finally answered. "Well, if you're sure it's safe and it's something you really want to do, then I couldn't be happier for you," she said with a warm smile. "I can still remember the first time the doctor laid you in my arms and I fed you. Right then and there, I felt something special happen between us. I wouldn't have traded that time with you for anything." Julian looked into the brown eyes that reminded him of his own and couldn't think of a reply for such a statement. He was grateful that he and his mother had grown closer over the last few years than they were previously.
"Well, now all I have to do is bring it up to Elim and see what he has to say about it," Julian replied, clearing his throat.
"I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be receptive to it," Amsha remarked assuredly as she covered her son's hand with her own. Julian hoped she was right.
Later on that afternoon, Garak was just about to close his shop for lunch when he heard the door sound. Peeking out from one of the storerooms, he saw his husband patiently waiting for him.
"Jahkim, you're a little early," the tailor commented neutrally.
Julian smiled. "I just didn't want you forgetting your promise to come in for that ultrasound this afternoon,"
"Julian, you know I wouldn't forget that," Garak replied walking over to plant a firm kiss on the doctor's mouth.
"Then does that mean you're ready?" Julian asked after the kiss was broken.
"Of course, let's go," the Cardassian replied and took the doctor's hand in his. Once in the Infirmary, it was only a matter of minutes before Julian got the necessary equipment ready. The tailor quickly removed his tunic and laid back on the bio-bed. Julian took some clear gel and spread it heavily over the Cardassian's protruding abdomen. As he applied it, Julian felt a shiver run through the tailor. He knew the gel was cold, but it needed to be. Holding the tricorder attached to the monitor in front of them over Garak's stomach, he brought their developing child into full view. Garak turned to look at the screen.
"That's our child?" he asked in amazement.
Julian nodded as he watched their child turn and move inside of Garak's body. Running the tricorder closer to the top, Julian got a image of the baby's head. The fetus was currently curled up and contentedly sucking on what appeared to be it's thumb. Apparently, the pressure from the tricorder was noticed by the fetus who turned and moved and gave a sharp kick to Garak's ribcage.
"That's our baby, all right," Julian replied with a grin. As much as it was exciting to watch their child and watch it's movements, the professional part of Julian reminded himself why he was there and noted the baby's physical status. "Well, I'm glad to know that it looks like everything is developing exceptionally well. The coronary system is strong, as is the pulmonary. The neurological scans are showing wonderful readings. . .everything is going very smoothly,"
"I'm more than gratified to hear that, even though I doubted there would have been any difficulties," Garak replied as he watched the screen. The child. . .their child. . .seemed so small and fragile inside of him. He saw tiny fingers and toes that were no longer than his fingernail, a small body that was still undefined in some areas with skin virtually transparent. This was all so amazing to him when he thought about the fact that his body was harboring such a delicate life that he was responsible for. They were both silent for several minutes, both captivated by their tiny child. Garak was the first to speak.
"Hmmm?" the doctor murmured.
"What sex is the baby?" the Cardassian asked.
"Does it make any difference?" Julian asked with a smile.
"Not in the least, I'm just curious," Garak replied.
Julian moved the tricorder lower on his abdomen to get a view of their child's lower body. Bringing the imagine in closer, Julian took his finger and pointed to a spot on the screen. "Do you see that?" he asked his spouse.
"Yes," Garak replied, turning slightly to get an even better view.
Julian grinned at him. "Unless I'm grossly mistaken, which I doubt I am, I do believe we are going to have a son," Julian answered.
Garak chuckled and sat up on the bio-bed, "A son? Really?"
"You saw the evidence yourself, don't you think it was pretty obvious?" Julian asked with a smile before he handed the tailor's tunic back to him.
After pulling the tunic on over his head, Garak reached out and grabbed the doctor and pulled him forward for a deep, long, kiss. "Thank you," he whispered after they parted.
"Whatever for?" Julian asked.
"For making this all happen," Garak replied at last.
"Elim, if it wasn't for you, this wouldn't be possible," Julian reminded him and decided to take the opportunity afforded to him. "Actually, I haven't felt like I've done that much at all compared to what you have." Julian replied and took a seat on a near by stool. "That's why I want to do even more."
"What do you mean, Julian?" the Cardassian asked with confusion.
Julian took both of the tailor's hands in his, "I've been thinking about how I could become more a part of this experience, and after doing some research, I think I've discovered a way of making that happen."
"How?" Garak inquired.
"Well," Julian started slowly, "we both know you're not going to be able to breastfeed our son, but I think I've come up with a way that I could," he explained. Garak raised an eye ridge, but remained quiet until Julian finished explaining his plans. "So, how do you feel about it?" Julian asked expectantly.
"Are you absolutely sure without a doubt that it's safe?" Garak asked.
"Absolutely," Julian assured him.
A bright smile lit on the tailor's face as he pulled his mate into his arms. "Then I think it's a wonderful idea as long as you're sure you would want to go through with it."
Julian smiled brilliantly at him, "No doubts at all. This is something I really want to do."
"Then you know I'll support you in anything that means this much to you," Garak replied and lightly pressed his lips to the doctor's. "When are you going to begin the treatments?"
"Tomorrow," Julian replied.
"Our son is very lucky to have such a caring father," Garak replied with a smile.
"I could say the same thing, Love," Julian replied as he tenderly caressed the tailor's belly. As if to concur, their son rolled and moved under Julian's hands and he smiled at Garak. "Is our son hungry?"
"I do believe so," Garak replied, returning his smile.
"Then let's go get some lunch, I'm starving too," Julian commented and helped Garak off the bio-bed. Walking hand in hand, they went to the Replimat to share a meal together before the Infirmary and the tailor shop called them back.
The next morning, Julian's hazel eyes pleaded silently with his head nurse, Nurse Jabara. "Please don't tell me this now. . .not now. Why does it have to be now when everything is hectic as it is?" Julian asked as he rubbed his temples in an attempt to avoid the headache he felt coming on.
"Please, Doctor Bashir, don't make me feel any guiltier than I already do," the Bajoran nurse implored. "My mother has been sick for weeks now and I've put it off as long as I could, but her condition has gotten worse over the last several days," she replied. "I need to be with her. She doesn't have anyone else to look after her."
Looking into her eyes, Julian knew there was no way he was going to refuse her request, but her absence was going to leave him at a severe disadvantage, and with Garak getting farther along in the pregnancy. . . "Jabara, you know that I would not keep you from taking care of your mother, but what shall I do about a head nurse? You know we've been understaffed as it is," he reminded her.
"I know that, Doctor. That's why I took the liberty of contacting the Ilvian Medical Complex on Bajor. They said they could send a temporary replacement immediately if you call for one," the Bajoran woman explained with a hesitant smile.
Julian sighed and then smiled, "Oh, very well then. Just make sure your mother gets well."
Dropping her professional persona briefly, the Bajoran nurse quickly hugged Julian, "Thank you, Doctor, I really appreciate it!"
Julian chuckled, "Okay, go on now before I have the good sense to change my mind."
Giving him an appreciative smile, Nurse Jabara turned on her heels and took off in the direction of the habitat-ring. Julian didn't like the idea of having someone new to brief on procedures and such, but he would just have to cope. Deciding he had more important matters to take care of, he walked over to his console and ordered the computer to replicate the hormonal agents he needed to begin his treatments. Raising the hypospray to his arm, he injected the serum into his bloodstream. He still couldn't believe he was attempting this, but the thought that if it worked, he would be able to feed his own son brought a smile to his lips.
He monitored himself for any adverse reactions for the first couple of hours, but as it grew later it started slipping his mind. By time his lunch hour came to pass, his thoughts turned to starting to put together the nursery that would be in the Infirmary. He couldn't help feeling pleased at the thought that his child would have the chance to stay with either him or Elim throughout the day instead of having to have a sitter. He wanted to be there for every important moment in his son's life . . .to leave no doubts in the child as to how important he was to Julian. As he looked over a list of supplies he would be needing, he wondered again what kind of father he was going to make for his son. Before he could dwell too much on the thought the chronometer chirped at him, reminding him he had plans to meet with his husband for lunch.
Several days went by and Julian was intensely concentrating on the readings of his latest experiment he was documenting when he felt a tapping on his shoulder. He swiveled around in his chair and his eyes came to rest on a pretty, young female. She was Human in heritage, with soft brunette hair that rested on her shoulders and large, pretty blue eyes.
"May I be of service?" Julian asked with his professional smile in place.
"No, but maybe I can be of service to you," answered the young girl with a returning smile. Julian looked quizzically at her and she then continued. "My name is Hannah Jacobs, I was sent to replace Nurse Jabara while she was attending to her family," the woman explained.
"Oh, yes of course! How very nice to meet you," Julian replied and shook the hand that she extended.
"Excuse me, but you are Dr. Bashir aren't you?" Hannah asked with a tilt of her head.
"Garak-Bashir actually, I was married several years ago," Julian replied.
"Doctor Bashir, I must say, it is an honor to get the chance to work with you," the woman said enthusiastically, "I've read all the articles you've ever had published. I was quite intrigued particularly with the ones about neural implants and the android emotion chip created by Dr. Soong."
Julian gave her a genuinely pleased smile. "Well, I'm certainly pleased to know my work doesn't go unnoticed."
"Oh, trust me, it certainly hasn't," she assured him, "and I want you to know that if there is anything at all I could do for either you or Mr. Garak during the pregnancy, please don't hesitate to ask."
Julian arched his eyebrow. "You've met my husband?" he asked curiously.
She gave him and embarrassed look and avoided his eyes, "Well, not exactly. You see, I arrived several hours ago and decided to put my stuff away before starting duty and. . . well. . .I ended up at Quark's. . ."
"And you ended up hearing a few rumors," Julian supplied. Smiling, he decided to let the girl off the hook. "Don't be embarrassed because I'm sure not and I appreciate your offer of help." Jacobs' face flooded with relief and she smiled in appreciation. "Now, let me help you get accustomed to how things are run around here," Julian replied, falling into his professional mode. After an hour long tour detail of her duties, Julian was pleased to see Nurse Jacobs fall nicely into sync with the running of the Infirmary. She seemed to be quite capable, a quick learner, and very efficient. It was much more than Julian had ever hoped for with the overflow of work they've been having recently.
Seeing that everything was running smoothly, Julian quickly became engrossed in his work again. Several hours flew by without Julian noticing and he couldn't help jumping when he felt Nurse Jacob's hand on his shoulder again.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor Bashir, I didn't mean to startle you," Hannah apologized and showed him the cup of tea she had been holding. "I noticed you hadn't taken a break yet and thought you could use this," she explained and handed the steaming cup to him.
It didn't look or smell like his Tarkalean, but he didn't want to offend her thoughtful gesture. Taking a sip, he couldn't help making a very pleased sound in his throat. "Hannah, this tea is absolutely fabulous! What kind is it? I don't seem to recognize it."
A pleased smile formed on her pretty face. "It's one of my favorites. It's a Karvarian blend that I discovered. It's very soothing for the nerves."
"I'm sure it is," Julian replied. "Thank you very much."
"My pleasure," the nurse replied and returned to her assignments.
Several more hours went by before the alarm Julian had set to remind him that it was time to take the hormonal serum again. Preparing the hypospray, he made short work of injecting the liquid into his system. He had been monitoring the effects of the hormones for several weeks now, and to his relief, there had been no adverse reactions of any kind. In fact, the only way he was able to tell that the hormones were in his system and beginning to work at all was the fact that he had tended to become slightly more emotional than he had been previously and that his chest was a bit more tender than normal.
"Doctor Bashir?" Hannah called out after several more hours had slipped by.
"Hmmm?" Julian asked, not taking his eyes off the console he was planted in front of.
"Doctor, your shift ended fifteen minutes ago," Jacobs reminded him pleasantly.
"Oh!" Julian exclaimed in surprise. "Thank you for reminding me. My husband and I are suppose to meet my mother for dinner tonight," he explained as he turned and snapped off the terminal. "If you need me for any emergency, just hail me, otherwise you're in charge," he told her.
"Yes sir," Hannah replied as she watched him quickly gather his things and took off to find his spouse.
As they walked slowly down the corridor, Garak suddenly stopped, grabbed Julian's hand and placed it on his stomach. The baby was kicking again.
"Jahkim, this baby must get all of his energy from you. What a kicker he is!" Garak exclaimed. He glanced over at his younger husband and noticed the tears in Julian's eyes. "What is it? What's wrong?" Garak's voice had an air of deep concern.
Julian straightened up as he turned to face his mate. "I don't know. When I felt the baby kick and you said that he takes after me, well. . .I just felt so happy."
"I will never understand this human need to cry when sad or happy. It's all too confusing for me," Garak stated as they continued walking. He surreptitiously observed the doctor, noting the flushed face and nervous twitches of his hands and legs. Garak was worried. The first opportunity he got, he would ask Lt. Commander Dax to run a spectrum check on those hormones Julian's been taking. Something was wrong and it bothered Garak not to know just what it was.
"We'd better hurry, mother is expecting us to be right on time for dinner," Julian said as Garak took hold of his hand.
When they arrived at Amsha's guest quarters they waited in silence until the door slid open to admit them.
"Surprise!" a chorus of shouts filled the room.
"They did it again. Jahkim, am I losing my touch?" Garak laughed as he and Julian entered the gaily decorated room. Blue streamers and blue balloons were placed all around the room. The table was set for dinner, but in the center of the room were brightly wrapped packages of all shapes and sizes.
Amsha came forward to hug both of her sons. "You certainly didn't think that I would shirk my duty as a grandmother-to-be and not throw a baby shower, did you?"
"Shower?" Garak looked questioningly at Julian.
"It's another word for a party, where they 'shower' you with gifts," the doctor explained.
"Hmmm, I'm beginning to like all these Terran customs of yours," Garak responded with a smile.
Dax had enough of the small talk. "Let's open the presents," she said to them. "Come on have a seat."
When Garak and Julian had settled on the sofa with Amsha sitting next to her son, Dax pulled out some packages from the stack. "Here, open these first," she requested excitedly.
Julian handed the box to Garak, who promptly tore through the wrappings, tossing the remnants to the side. Opening the box, he allowed Julian to read the card. "These are from Jadzia and Nerys." Inside the box were three soft baby blankets with different animals printed on them, each blanket was bordered with a sky blue edge.
"There's one for each nursery," Kira explained.
Next came some sleeper pajamas in various colors. "Look, the feet can be removed," Kira leaned over to demonstrate. "He can wear them with the feet if it's cold, and without if it's warmer."
"Sorry, Garak, but we bought these ready made," Dax answered the look she saw in the tailor's eyes. Garak took the outfits from Julian and examined them closely.
"Well, they are not of the same quality as I would have made them, but they'll do. Thank you, both of you."
"There's more," Julian interrupted wanting to change the subject. He reached into the box and pulled out some small white cloths made of a heavy cotton-like material. They were obviously too small to be diapers. Julian held them up and turned to his mother.
Amsha smiled fondly at her son, running her hand through his hair. "They're called 'burping' cloths. You wear them on your shoulder. After you finish feeding the baby and you place him on your shoulder to burp him, the cloths will keep your clothing from getting all messed up."
Garak looked at the cloths, then at Julian, and back to the cloths, until his eyes finally rested on Julian once again. Then he smiled as he stated in a very serious voice, "I believe that these fall under your jurisdiction." He then handed all of the 'burping' cloths to his husband, who blushed and quickly set them on the side.
Picking up another present, Garak felt the weight. "Hmm, this surely can't be for the baby's use." He ripped off the paper as Julian looked on.
"A book?" they both queried at the same time. Garak read the title aloud, "The Growth and Development of Your Child--From Birth to Adolescence." All eyes instinctively turned and stared at Odo.
"Really, Constable, we have to work on your gift ideas," O'Brien joked.
"Well, the last book worked, didn't it?" Odo defended himself.
"Oh yes, Odo, it did. I'm sure that this one will come in handy also. Thank you so much." Julian flashed his trademark smile at the security officer, who nodded in return.
"The last book had illustrations," Dax mumbled.
"Yes, it did, Commander, and just when did you intend to return it?" Garak questioned as Jadzia shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She ignored Worf's stare.
"Well, I find the book very interesting," Amsha interjected. "Look, Jules, here's a section on breastfeeding." Julian promptly took the book from his mother and laid it on the side.
Sisko cleared his throat and took command of the situation before things could get worse, if they could. "Here, open my gift next."
Julian smiled gratefully at the captain as he pulled Garak back towards him. Together they opened Sisko's brightly wrapped present.
"Thank you, Sir. These will all be very useful," Julian smiled as he spoke. Elim was busy pulling out the many items from the big box. There were diapers, a diaper bag, sheets for the cribs, then reaching the bottom, Garak pulled out one last item. The tailor held it up looking perplexed.
Julian smiled as Benjamin explained, "It's an infant's baseball uniform. It will be a little big for him right now, but he'll grow into it in no time."
Attached to the uniform was an envelope. Opening it, Julian withdrew a note. He laughed as he read it aloud, "This note entitles baby boy Bashir-Garak my services as babysitter, baseball coach, and friend. It's signed Uncle Benjamin."
"Better watch it, Julian," Dax informed him, "Looks like your son is going to get spoiled by a very soft-hearted Starfleet Captain." Her eyes shone brightly with laughter as she looked over at the captain.
O'Brien's gift was next. "It's not as involved as the captain's but it comes from the heart," Miles stated as he handed over the present.
After opening the box, Julian withdrew a set of very small foam tubes. With confusion on his face, he held them out to his husband who examined them. "Ear plugs, Chief?"
"Ah well, yes. Take it from me they come in handy. I figured with a set of them, at least one of you can get some rest while the other answers the ah. . .call of nature."
Everyone laughed, and Garak slipped the earplugs into his pocket. He smiled slyly at Julian who just shook his head and went back to the box. Pulling out item after item, he passed the gifts around. O'Brien seemed to have raided a toy store. There were rattles, mobiles for the cribs, several books of old Terran folktales, as well as several visual motor dexterity puzzles obviously made for young children. It was the latter gifts that held everyone's interest for a while as each person took his or her turn trying to solve the puzzles.
A rather huge box was the next package brought over to the expectant parents. Reading the card, Garak announced that it was from Worf. Dax looked over at the Klingon.
"It is an appropriate gift," he replied to her unasked question, "It is specially designed to keep the child out of trouble and from getting in the way." He ignored the strange looks everyone cast his way.
Julian was hesitant, however, Garak gleefully ripped off the paper. "It's a playpen!" Julian said with relief evident in his voice.
"Of course, what were you expecting?" Work asked defensively.
"Oh, well. . .uh. . .I'm really not sure," Julian stammered.
Kira leaned over to look at the picture on the box. "Why does it have bars? If you ask me, it looks like a miniature prison." She flinched as Dax gripped her arm tightly.
"It's the thought that counts, isn't it, Julian?" Jadzia asked trying to diffuse a potential problem before it got started.
"Yes, of course it is. Thank you, Commander, we'll make good use of this, I'm sure," Julian answered diplomatically.
Amsha rose from her seat and walked over to where a blanket had been tossed over another large object. "Jules," she addressed her son, "Your father's business has kept him from being here personally. However, you are never far from his thoughts. He had this sent all the way from Earth, where he's kept it in storage all these years. He's been saving it for his first grandchild, your child." She removed the blanket to reveal a beautiful intricately carved wooden crib. It was made of pure oak,and on the headboard a pair of angle wings were scrolled into it. "It's been in the Bashir family for generations. It was yours when you were a baby and now it belongs to your son, our grandchild." She smiled fondly as her fingers roamed the ornate carved designs on the crib.
When she didn't say anything further, Julian rose from his seat to stand next to her. "Mother?" he asked quietly.
Amsha looked up at him. "Forgive me, son, I was just remembering the first time your father placed you in this crib. You were so tiny. . .But enough of the memories. Let's get back to the presents." She let her hand trail over the crib one last time before returning to her seat.
Julian stared at the crib, trying desperately to wish away the tears he felt starting to form in his eyes.
"Jahkim," Garak interrupted his husband's thoughts, "Come, sit back down." He patted the empty place next to him on the sofa.
Julian smiled self-consciously as he returned to his place next to Garak.
The tailor had picked up the last two remaining packages, one large and one small. He handed one to Julian.
"Oh, wait," Amsha commanded. She took both packages from them. "These are from me," she explained. She handed the larger one to Garak, "Here, son, open this one first." She continued to hold the smaller present close to her.
Removing the wrapping paper, Garak held up a beautifully designed quilt. Dax, Kira, Sisko and O'Brien leaned closer to look at and touch the quilt. All admired the workmanship.
"Mother, it's beautiful!" Julian exclaimed.
Garak, allowing his tailor's eye to take over, quickly examined the quilt. "It is exquisitely made, Mother. Did you do this?"
All eyes looked at Amsha, who promptly showed exactly where Julian got his blushing from. "Why yes, I did. Thank you for the compliment, Elim."
Julian was staring at the quilt, running his hand over the soft material. Some of those patches looked. . . "Mother, this looks familiar," he said pointing to one of the smaller patches, "and this one also. In fact a lot of them do."
"They should," Amsha replied. "I made the quilt using scraps of materials from all of your old clothing. Look, here's your Christening outfit, and this one was from the shirt you wore on your first day of school."
Julian stared at his mother. 'She saved all of that, my old clothes? Father saved the crib for my child. Have I been so wrong all these years. Do they truly love me?' He brought himself out of his reverie to point to another patch. "And this one?" he questioned, he had recognized the colors and material.
Amsha smiled, "I have Captain Sisko to thank for that one. He helped me get it." The patch was a familiar gray, with teal colors. "It's from your old dress uniform, the one you wore on the day you were married."
Julian looked incredulously at his commanding officer. "Excuse me, Captain, but you said everyone had to replace their dress uniforms?"
"I lied," the Captain replied as he flashed his teeth in a broad smile.
"Hey, we still have one more present to unwrap," Kira interrupted.
"Yes, we do," Amsha responded. She placed the smaller package on Julian's lap. "Now you open this one, my darling."
Julian began to unwrap the present, slowly revealing the contents. The tears that had merely threatened to come before, now came back for a full onslaught. As the tears rolled freely down his cheeks, he thought 'She remembered! My mother remembered!'
He felt Garak's arm enfold about his shoulders, "Jahkim, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, nothing's wrong," he laughed as he held up the object for everyone to see. In his hands he held an identical, if not newer, duplicate of his beloved teddy bear, Kukalaka.
"He's adorable," Dax remarked as she took hold of the bear. Worf rolled his eyes and looked away.
"Let's clean up, I'm hungry," Miles announced as the guests began to clear away pieces of paper and stack the presents on the side.
Amsha leaned closer and spoke in a voice meant for Julian and Garak only. "I hope your son enjoys his little companion as much as you have loved yours, Jules." She tenderly rubbed his tears away with her fingers. "I have forgotten nothing where you are concerned, my sweet precious Jules." With that said she rose to go prepare the table for dinner.
Garak retrieved the bear from Jadzia. Handing Julian the bear, the tailor then pulled him into a tight embrace. Leaning in close to Julian's ear, he whispered, "It's all right, Jahkim, your secret will be safe with me. I only hope that our son will provide his teddy bear with an easier sounding name." His eyes twinkled with laughter as Julian blushed once again.
Garak slowly stood up pulling his younger husband up with him. Arm in arm they walked over to the table.
After the dinner was served and everyone said their good-byes, Julian started to clear the table with Garak's help.
"Jules, Elim, what are you doing?" Amsha asked, taking a sip of the hot tea she was drinking.
"I wanted to help you straighten up," Julian answered and Garak nodded.
"Nonsense, I'll take care of that later," Amsha replied, "Why don't you two go on and get some rest. Both of you look like you could use it," Amsha observed.
"Are you sure?" Julian asked.
"Of course, now go on," she answered with authority.
"As you wish, Mother," Garak replied, "and we will be back tomorrow for the playpen and the crib."
"All right. I'll see you then," the older woman replied as she helped load the presents in both of her sons' arms. She gave them both a kiss on the cheek before she watched them leave.
Before stepping outside, Julian turned and looked at his mother over his shoulder. "Thank you, Mother, for the party."
"Believe me, sweetheart, it was all my pleasure," Amsha replied with a contented smile.
As they entered their quarters, the couple walked into the nursery and sat their armful of presents down on the floor. Garak put his arms over his head and stretched out his muscles before turning to Julian.
"Jahkim, I'm going to take a shower. Would you want to join me?" the Cardassian offered.
Julian had the quilt his mother made draped over an arm and the teddy bear in his other hand. "Hmm? No, not right this minute. I'd like to put some of this stuff up tonight if you don't mind," the doctor answered.
"Of course not," the Cardassian responded, but the disappointment was still evident in his voice. "You'll know where I'll be if you change your mind."
The tailor started the shower to the warm temperature he preferred and began scrubbing himself clean. After a few minutes when Julian didn't show up, he figured the doctor wasn't going to, so he finished up quickly, stepped out and picked up a towel to start drying himself. As he did, he caught an image of his reflection in the mirror. He couldn't help feeling like he was staring at a stranger compared to how he use to look. The washboard stomach gave way to a continuingly swelling one, to where he could barely see his feet any longer. Not that he would want to see how much they were swollen anyway. His fingers caressed the stomach and he couldn't help wondering how women had managed to do this century after century, but as the baby moved around inside him, he knew his expense because of the pregnancy or heard the hateful comments of a handful who didn't understand their desire to raise a family nor did they want to understand. All of his concerns rested on the son he was giving life to. A precious gift that meant the world to him.
Although, the reaction he occasionally got wasn't always unwanted. He still recalled the image of the first time Dukat laid eyes on him after he began showing. A smile curved on his lips at the image of Dukat staring at him with his mouth hanging wide open and completely incapable of making a sound. It was a priceless memory that still continued to make Garak chuckle when he thought of it. The tailor looked up to see Julian leaning in the doorway watching him as he finished drying off.
"How long have you been standing there?" the Cardassian asked.
"A few minutes," Julian replied as he walked up behind the still undressed tailor and started running his hands over the protruding abdomen.
"You know, Jahkim, our son still hasn't been given a name yet," Garak replied, covering the doctor's hands with his own.
"Yes, I know. I've been thinking about that too," Julian replied.
"And have you managed to come up with anything?" the tailor inquired.
Julian took a seat on the low counter of the sink and taking both of the tailor's hands in his, pulled the Cardassian forward. "Actually, I have," Julian replied with a smile. Looking deeply into the tailor's crystal eyes, he went on. "You know my middle name is Subatoi, right?"
"Yes, Jahkim," Garak answered slowly.
"Have I ever told you the story behind it?" Julian asked with a smile.
"No, you haven't, Love. Is there really story behind it?" Garak asked, his curiosity now piqued.
"Oh yes. My mother told me this story several years ago before we were married," Julian answered. Garak was silent, so Julian continued. "My mother was a young girl all of sixteen when she was staying with a cousin of her's and met a handsome Starfleet officer who she fell very much in love with. He was a pilot in training at the Academy and when he had to go back after his summer break, he was injured in a shuttle craft crash. My mother tried to be there for him afterwards, but he broke off their engagement anyway, leaving my mother heartbroken."
"How tragic," Garak commented.
"Yes, it was, but do you know what his last name was?" Julian asked.
"Subatoi?" Garak hazard to guess.
Julian smiled at him brightly. "That's right, and that particular story led me to figure out the perfect name for our son."
Garak raised an eye ridge. "I'm not sure I follow you, Jahkim."
"My mother named me after someone who was very important in her life that she never was able to forget. So, my love," Julian replied drawing the Cardassian closer into his arms, " that's why I decided that our son should be named Rochosh." Garak simply stared at his husband. His eyes were wide and mouth was partly open. Julian went on. "Rochosh was someone very special in your life and I want to honor that as my mother did when she named me."
"Julian, I honestly don't know how to respond," Garak admitted, the surprise still evident on his face.
"Do you approve?" Julian asked.
"Jahkim, I. . ." The tailor's voice trailed off, unable to know what to say, so finally he pulled Julian forward and kissed him quite soundly.
"I'll take that to mean you like the idea," Julian responded when he finally caught his breath. "Rochosh Bashir-Garak, that has a nice ring to it doesn't it?" the doctor asked wanting their son to share Garak's last name. When they married, Julian took the name Garak-Bashir and Elim took the name Bashir-Garak so that neither of them would cause confusion to their respective customers and patients.
" Jahkim, isn't it customary for a Human child to also have a middle name? Have you thought about that at all?"
"Yes, it is a custom, but I wasn't able to decide on anything for that yet. Do you have any ideas?" Julian asked as the baby rolled and moved under the hands that were resting again on Garak's stomach.
"I personally would like it if our son's name includes your heritage as well. That is why I would be pleased if you would consider our son's middle name to be Richard," the tailor replied, drawing a surprised look from the doctor.
"Elim. . .I just don't know. You know that my father and I aren't all that close. I just don't know whether or not it would be appropriate," Julian replied.
"Yes, Jahkim, but I want to show our son that he should be proud of his heritage. . .both sides of it," Garak explained. "Not that my own father was much to be proud of, but I have no room really to discuss that particular matter," the tailor added, trying to avoid the doctor's eyes. "I still can't believe everything I put myself through. . .everything I risked, just to gain his approval. I still feel like a fool every time I think back on it."
Julian reached out to stroke Garak's cheek and drew his eyes up to meet his. "Elim, you loved your father and that's nothing to be ashamed of. It's natural for every child to want the approval of their parents. I can relate to that better than anyone. It's not your fault that he wasn't able to appreciate the love you wanted to give him," Julian told him. A smile returned to his face as he caressed the tailor's stomach, "Besides, this time we have the chance to do everything different with our own son."
A faint smile drew on Garak's mouth. "That's right, our son is going to have no doubts that he's loved." The tailor leaned over and pressed his lips to the doctor's. "Will you at least give consideration to my idea?" he asked.
Julian smiled and sighed. "All right, I'll promise to think about it, but that's all I'm promising," came his answer.
"For the moment, that's all I'm asking for," the tailor responded and all of a sudden a rather loud rumbling filled the small bathroom and Julian looked at his spouse with amazement.
"You can't possibly be hungry after the dinner we just ate!" the doctor remarked.
Garak covered Julian's hands on his stomach with his own. "I'd say our son still has a craving for something sweet," the tailor replied with a teasing grin.
"Yirgish pie?" Julian suggested knowingly.
"With Yamok sauce," they said in unison.
"Well, some pie does sound good, but I'll leave you to have the Yamok sauce," the doctor replied as Garak grabbed his robe and they both headed towards the kitchen area.