Burden of Proof

by Diana Bloomfield and Joanne Spizzirri

  Elim Bashir-Garak sat back in his comfortable seat and observed the scene before him. His young son and youthful husband were both on the floor playing with the train set Captain Sisko had given to little Rochosh. The captain had told them how much he and his brothers, as well as Jake, had enjoyed playing with it. He thought that Rochosh might enjoy setting up the simple tracks and watching the train go around. The tailor laughed softly to himself, for Rochosh had other plans.

  The now almost three-year-old, had set up an elaborate connection of the train tracks, looping them over, under, and around the various furniture in the room. He then proceeded to make adjustments to the speed of the train itself, so that the train when in motion was a blur to those with common eyesight.

  Julian was delighted with his son's ingenious plan, and had offered helpful suggestions along the way.

  Watching the childlike glow on the faces of both of his Jahkims, Elim sighed with content. He was indeed a lucky man to have found such joy and happiness after the miserable life he had previously led.

  Rochosh was a surprise in life that Garak had never expected. Looking over at his young son, he smiled. The boy was beautiful. He had Julian's eyes, the hazel coloring that changed colors with his mood, just like Julian's. The full lips that could form an exact replica of his daddy's smile or pout, with his lower lip extending, just like Julian. His nose smooth and unadorned, just like Julian. And like Julian, the boy was slim with long limbs. Of course, there was no denying the boy's Cardassian heritage either. The grayish skin tone, and the boy had the ridges, not as pronounced but still present. Somehow, the eye ridges seemed to make his eyes even more expressive. His neck ridges were already beginning to flare when Rochosh would have a temper tantrum.

  Julian's face was beaming as he came over to sit beside his husband. "Well, what do you think? Will he have the Chief's job by next year?" Julian asked with obvious pride in his voice.

  "Jahkim, it wouldn't surprise me in the least." Garak leaned over to kiss his husband and pull him in closer. As he gently stroked Julian's hair, Elim thought of the doctor's strange behavior over the past few days. There was something on Julian's mind, of that Garak was sure. Julian had attempted to talk with him several times today, but had been interrupted by one reason or another.

  Garak's thoughts were interrupted by a sudden weight on his lap. Looking down, he saw the huge hazel eyes of his son staring up at him. "Jayta, come play," his little boy pleaded.

  Laughing he responded, "All right, but only for a little while. Its close to your bedtime, young man." Garak set his son down on the floor, while dropping to his knees in the process. When he heard the soft laughter coming from behind, the tailor swiftly threw one arm back grabbed hold of Julian and pulled him off the sofa onto the floor beside him.

  Rochosh giggled with delight at the sight of his parents crawling on the floor towards him. The giggles soon turned into a sob as Garak's knee came to rest on something soft and plush.

  "Jayta!" Rochosh cried. "Daddy, Jayta hurt Little Worf."

  Garak looked down to see the familiar teddy bear under his knee. "Well, what do we have here? What's that, Little Worf? Ah yes, I understand." He spoke in whispers to the teddy bear, every so often listening to the bear. Rochosh watched the whole display with wide- eyed interest.

  Garak looked at his son and handed him the teddy bear, with a smile he stroked the teddy's head and apologized for not seeing him. Rochosh held his teddy bear up to his ear and then looked at his father. He looked from tiny bear to his father and back again. Then with a smile very similar to his daddy's, Rochosh laughed and hugged his Jayta tight around the neck. "Jayta silly," the boy giggled.

  Still holding onto his boy, Garak rose from his position on the floor and carried the giggling lad off for his bath.

  Julian straightened up the mess from the floor before joining his husband. The tailor already had the boy in the water and was gently washing his back when Julian knelt beside him.

  Rochosh playfully splashed some water towards Julian. "Daddy get bath too?" He slapped the water once again causing a spray to soak the front of Julian's shirt. Rochosh reached out with wet dripping arms to grab his daddy.

  "And just who put you up to this, Rochosh?" Julian asked in a serious tone of voice. Rochosh's eyes grew bigger and his lower lip came out in a pout. He looked at his daddy, "Daddy mad at Rochosh?"

  "No, no, my sweet, Daddy thinks Jayta put you up to this," Julian stroked his son's face and looked out of the corners of his eyes at his errant husband. Then without warning, Julian swooped up a handful of water and splashed Garak. Rochosh squealed with delight as he too splashed water towards his Jayta this time. Soon all three were dripping wet and only one had actually had a bath.

  After drying off, Garak and Julian changed into their robes before they headed into Rochosh's room. Drawing back the covers, Garak waited while Julian helped their son into his pajamas. Taking hold of Julian's neck, Rochosh planted a wet kiss on his daddy. Then jumping free, he ran to Garak, climbed up on the bed, and planted a wet kiss on his Jayta.

  Rochosh settled down under the covers, while both his fathers tucked him in. Taking hold of his teddy bear, Rochosh hugged the bear tightly. Looking up at his parents, he asked "Rochosh love Little Worf, Daddy love Kukie, what Jayta love?" His eyes shone in wide-eyed innocence as he looked to his father for an answer.

  With a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, Garak briskly reached over to grab Julian and pull him into a tight embrace. "Jayta loves Daddy," came the answer followed by a long tender kiss between both men. Rochosh laughed and hugged his bear even tighter.

  Garak and Julian then settled down on the bed as each took a turn reading a bedtime story to Rochosh. Once the little eyes had closed and his breathing deepened, both fathers placed a kiss on the boy's forehead and stole quietly from the room.

  Both fathers headed back into the living area. Garak took a seat in his favorite chair and started to lean back and shut his eyes when he felt his younger husband take a seat on his lap. Julian made himself comfortable as he stretched his long legs over the side of the chair. Wrapping his arms around the Cardassian's chest, he settled his head against the tailor's shoulders. Garak's arms went around his spouse and pulled him in close. Garak could feel the doctor's warm breath on his throat. Through an unspoken agreement, neither man said a word, both just enjoying the feeling of holding one another.

  As Garak held Julian close, the tailor's mind drifted back again to his thoughts of earlier--thinking back to his life before Julian. He had loved the doctor for quite sometime before they had ever gotten together. Not wanting to feel the pain of rejection though, he had never acted on. . .in fact he had kept it secret for a very long time and probably would still have, even now, if Julian hadn't been the one to approach him first. With all the problems they had to overcome, Garak was still surprised that their relationship had lasted as long as it had. Nevertheless, here they were going on six years later, and not only did Garak have Julian's love and devotion, they also shared a son together. It still amazed him how his entire life had been turned completely around because of this one man he held in his arms right now.

  Garak's eyes opened and on impulse, he brought Julian's face up and kissed him long and hard, so thoroughly that his tongue explored every recess and hollow within the younger man's willing mouth.

  "Mmm, now what was that for?" Julian asked after he caught his breath again, a faint smile playing on his lips. His hand came up to rub the part of the Cardassian's chest that the robe exposed.

  "Just because," the Cardassian answered in reply and dipped his head to do it again.

  Julian turned his body slightly, pushing Garak's robe open somewhat more to give his fingers access to the dark hard nipples hidden by the fabric. Julian's lips traveled over the column of Garak's throat. "Because Jayta loves Daddy?" the doctor whispered with a boyish grin that rivaled his son's.

  "Mmmhmm," came the response as a hand slipped underneath the bottom of Julian's robe to gently caress his warm thigh, fingertips barely brushing against the skin of his rear. They continued kissing one another, each one becoming more intense then the last, as hands searched for bare skin. Julian's hands were now inside the tailor's robe, roaming over the broad muscled chest, down to the flat firm stomach. Garak's own hands were still drifting up and down Julian's exposed legs and up to squeeze the pert, rounded cheeks of his behind.

  "I don't know about you, but I think I'm ready to turn in for the night," Julian whispered and started to get up.

  Garak held him firmly in place. "I'm quite comfortable right where we are," Garak murmured against his ear, his tongue tracing the outlining ridge.

  "But aren't you afraid that. . ." Julian started, looking meaningfully at their son's room.

  Garak smiled, "The door is shut, he's sound asleep. . ." His voice trailed off as he took the doctor's pliant lips for more kisses.

  Julian wanted to protest, but his mind grew foggy as Garak trailed a finger lazily up and down the length of his cleft after lightly running his nails over the warm skin. Julian nipped and kissed at the ridges along the tailor's neck and shoulder, taking care to make sure he didn't miss a single one.

  Shifting Julian so that he was more on his back with the tailor's arm underneath him for comfort, Garak's eyes gleamed as he hooked the loose knot of Julian's robe and with one finger released it. Pushing it back only slightly, it was enough to allow him access to the delights hidden underneath the material. Gray fingers caressed the golden hued skin of Julian's chest, lightly running through the sparse dusting of dark, coarse hair. The tailor brought his fingers to his mouth and sucked suggestively on an index finger before bringing the moist finger to the nearest dark brown nipple. The doctor let out a soft murmur as Garak gently teased the nub of skin by running the tip of his finger over and around it in a feather light touch, only to have Julian gasp when he pinched it. After giving the other one attention, Garak moved down in fleeting teasing caresses to the doctor's stomach and up again to trace the doctor's ribcage. The hand then continued its course downward to stroke once again Julian's thigh and upper leg. Julian wanted to turn to be able to caress and stroke the Cardassian's body as well, but the hand on his shoulders kept him still. Julian's breathing started quickening and became more shallow as Garak's fingers continued their assault, getting nearer and nearer to the aching need growing with each movement. Julian squirmed against Garak and could feel the older man's growing firmness pressing against his rear. Garak finally allowed his fingers to gently knead and manipulate the heavy sac of Julian's testicles, bringing soft moans from the doctor, then rubbed his open palm firmly against the doctor's aching member.

  Julian pulled himself up to where he was sitting more in the Cardassian's lap and began licking and suckling at the tailor's neck ridges and ear ridge while his fingers played with the hard black nubs of his nipples. Garak's fingers traced the outlines of the veins adorning the heated flesh already turning a rosy hue. His finger smeared the fluid already collecting at the tip. Julian watched as Garak brought the finger up to his mouth and his tongue darted out to taste the doctor's juices before kissing him again. The musky smell of Julian's arousal mingled with the more spicy smelling scent radiating from the tailor at his own arousal. Julian moaned softly and nipped more soundly with his teeth when the tailor's fingers wrapped around to surround his girth and gently started to manipulate the shaft in a slow and steady rhythm. Julian felt a blinding need burning in his blood and Garak's teasing was just making it worse. All thought was driven from his mind, his only focus being on the feelings his spouse was creating in his body. Garak's rhythm grew steadier and faster, driving Julian closer and closer to the breaking point. Really wanting give as much as he was getting, Julian found the strength to capture the tailor's hand to still him. Garak looked at him with questions in the depths of his blue eyes and Julian answered them with a mischievous gleam in his own as he slipped down off the tailor's lap onto his knees in front of the chair.

  Pushing the material of the robe aside, Garak's obvious arousal was displayed for Julian to admire. Garak watched as Julian suggestively licked his lips before bending his head to taste the tip of the firm erection. Licking up and down first the underside of the tailor's shaft, then the sides, Julian took the whole swollen member into his mouth until his nose touched the tailor's stomach. Garak couldn't help gasping as the sweet, warm mouth surrounded him, sliding up and down on the inflamed skin. Julian savored the spicy taste of the tailor on his tongue as he swirled and teased around the head and shaft, watching with enjoyment as Garak grasped the arms of the chair in desperation. Garak's hands then came to run through his husband's soft mahogany hair before holding the back of it gently. Garak rocked his hips in time to Julian's rhythm. The slow and steady pace became quicker and quicker as Julian adjusted his speed according to the Cardassian's silent cues, knowing he was driving the tailor to distraction. When Garak moaned and tried to pull free of the hot recesses of Julian's mouth, the doctor held fast and increased his efforts. Julian brought Garak to the limits of his control, only to relent and do it again several times over.

  "Julian, quit teasing me," Garak growled in frustration. The sternness he was trying to exert was wasted when his head fell back and a moan escaped his lips.

  Julian took the opportunity to stop his ministration. Looking devilishly innocent, he stared up at his spouse. "I'm not teasing, Love, just getting you ready."

  "Ready for what?" the tailor managed to ask through the haze of desire that was consuming him.

  "For this," the doctor answered and grabbed the tailor around the waist and pulled him with a thud from the chair. The unsuspecting Cardassian ended up on top of the doctor. Julian rolled from underneath of the tailor's body and pinned him with his own. Raising his spouse's arms over his head, Julian lightly pinned his wrists down with his hands.

  Garak was breathing heavily as Julian leaned in to slowly and thoroughly plunder his mouth. "Want me inside of you?" the doctor asked in a sultry voice when he broke the kiss, still brushing his lips across the tailor's.

  "Yes, Jahkim," Garak answered, his hips already moving under Julian's at the mere thought.

  "Yes what?" the doctor purred as his lips caressed the flared ridges on the tailor's neck.

  "Julian. . ." the Cardassian said with a warning tone in his voice. He tried to reach the doctor, but Julian shifted to keep the weight on the tailor's wrists. "Yes what?" he asked again, his hips lightly grinding their groins together.

  "Yes, I want you inside me," the tailor finally relented.

  Julian kissed him once more before releasing his hands. While straddling the Cardassian, Julian reached for his robe and poked around inside the pocket before he found what he was looking for. He pulled out a packet of lubrication, the kind he normally kept in his medkit, and ripped it open. Pouring the liquid into his hand, he then thoroughly coated his hard member with it before reaching between the tailor's legs to apply the rest to his entrance. Garak groaned as one finger circled the muscular ring before finally pushing into his body. Julian listened to the soft sighs and murmurs Garak made as he prepared the Cardassian's body with first one finger, then two, until three were nestled in the Cardassian's opening.

  "Julian, please!" the tailor pleaded when the fingers were removed and he could feel the tip of his husband's sex against him in their place. Not thinking he could last much longer himself without feeling the tailor, Julian swiftly pressed his hips forward. He entered Garak's heated depths with swift efficiency, the tailor arching up to meet him readily.

  Once they were joined, Julian's slight hips rocked back and forth, pushing himself deeper and deeper into the tailor. The intense feeling of being filled completely had Garak gasping for air as his hands reached to stroke Julian's back and then slid further down to grasp the hips that were causing him such torturous pleasure. The thrusting grew harder and harder, passion building in both of them. Beads of sweat broke out on Julian's body, and Garak loved the sight of the golden skin glistening under the artificial lights. A lock of damp hair fell across Julian's forehead and Garak brushed it away as he pulled the doctor to him for another kiss, his groans filling the younger man's mouth. Julian rode the tailor harder still, feeling himself driven higher and higher as the tailor's body enveloped him. He reached in between them to grasp the firm, dark member of his older husband. He pumped mercilessly with his fingers, while his hips continued driving into the Cardassian, encouraged by Garak's fingers digging into the tender flesh of his rear and pulling him forward.

  Feeling the older man's muscles grow taut as Garak's body trembled underneath him, Julian continued faster and faster with more force until his spouse finally cried out his name in a strangled voice. His fingers milked the seed from his lover as he felt the him shudder with the climax. As the tight body surrounding him grew even tighter upon release, Julian felt himself slip over the abyss as he emptied his own essence into the tailor's core with a cry himself. After his own quivering body stilled and the waves of pleasure subsided, Julian pulled himself free from his spouse's body and was pulled into a hug against the Cardassian's chest.

  They laid in silence for awhile, both just listening to the others steady breathing. Spent and happy, Julian knew if they didn't move soon, he could quite likely fall asleep right in the middle of the living area floor.

  "Come on, Love, let's take a shower and go to bed," he finally said, not fond of the idea of moving, but getting up nonetheless.

  "I suppose you're right, this floor was not made to sleep on," Garak replied with a smile as he reached out to take Julian's extended hand. After helping Garak to his feet, Julian reached down to pick up their discarded robes. As they headed towards their room, Garak stopped Julian by catching him around the waist and pulled him into the tailor's arms. "Jayta loves Daddy," the tailor whispered with a grin, kissing Julian's lips once more before releasing him.

  After a warm shower, the couple collapsed onto bed, holding each other tight. Julian wrapped his arms around the tailor's chest while Garak stroked his soft hair. The couple had been together long enough that Garak knew all the little nuances of Julian's personality and could detect subtle changes rather easily. Even though the doctor seemed content, Garak could still detect a slight sense of restlessness about him. Wondering if it had to do with what Julian seemed to want to discuss earlier, Garak opened the door.


  "Hmmm?" Julian responded, stifling a yawn.

  "Is there anything you wanted to talk about tonight?" the tailor questioned.

  The doctor sighed, as he turned to face his husband. His eyes were wide with just a hint of anxiety in them.

  "You know me so well, Elim. I can't hide anything from you, can I?" Julian responded.

  Garak pulled his spouse closer, gently running a hand over the bare back. "Jahkim, what is it? What's wrong?"

  "There's nothing wrong, it's just. . .," Julian hesitated, as if running through his thoughts trying to come up with the right words to say. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Elim, I. . .I want us to have another child."

  The Cardassian sat upright in the bed. Looking down at his husband, Garak gazed into the hazel depths of Julian's eyes. As his husband sat staring, lost in his own contemplation, Julian began to feel a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach.

  "You don't like the idea of having another child with me?" the doctor inquired in a hushed tone. He turned his head as he felt the familiar warm wet stinging of tears forming in his eyes.

  Garak roused himself quickly. "My dear sweet Jahkim, the thought of having another child with you is wonderful. Don't you know by now, that you are the most important factor in my life? I love you and Rochosh above all else in this universe."

  He leaned over and very tenderly turned his younger husband's face back towards him. Gently he wiped the tears still flowing down Julian's cheeks. "It is your timing that has me troubled. You realize that I have just expanded my business and now have more orders to fill than ever before. My hours are long and tiresome, for me to carry our child now would not be healthy for either one of us."

  Julian smiled and sat up to take hold of his husband in a fierce embrace. When he leaned back he stated very simply, "You don't have to."

  Once again the Cardassian was speechless, but only for a moment. "Jahkim, a minute ago you said that you wanted another child, and now you don't. Are you feeling all right?" Garak's worry showed in his voice and eyes.

  "No, no, I'm fine," Julian answered. "You don't have to carry the baby, I will," he announced with obvious joy in his voice.

  Garak sighed. He pulled his beloved closer and ran his hand over the younger man's forehead. "My sweet, perhaps we better get some rest, you're not making any sense right now." He shifted his body so as to press Julian down towards the mattress.

  The doctor resisted, pulling himself back up into a sitting position. "Elim, really I'm fine. Let me explain, please, then I'll get all the rest you want me to, I'm going to need it, if I'm going to be carrying our child." His face lit up with a colossal smile. He settled himself and took the older man's hands into his own.

  "You see, ever since we came up with a way for you to have Rochosh, I've been thinking. It's really your fault you know, remember what you said after Rochosh's birth, when I asked you about another baby?"

  Garak thought for a moment and then slowly nodded. "I said only if you could find a way to carry the child yourself, as it was your turn."

  Julian smiled again. "That's right, and I did find a way!" He was beginning to move with his excitement, his fingers smoothing the skin on Elim's hands, his entire body shaking ever so slightly. Julian was smiling so much, his pearly white teeth biting his lower lip as he began to speak even faster.

  "I've been experimenting with that Cardassian hormone, the one which allows you to maintain the embryonic sac within your body. I've tried different variations of it mixed along with hormones from other species. Oh Elim, I've found it! I've found the right combination, the one that will allow me to maintain the sac, to carry our child!" Julian's body was bouncing with enthusiasm.

  The tailor stilled his Jahkim's movements. Holding Julian's waist, he pulled him closer into a tight embrace. "Jahkim, you are a human male, your body cannot develop the egg. You have no womb with which to carry the baby. Your body would require too many hormones, look what you went through to be able to nurse Rochosh," Garak pointed out the obvious deterrents to his younger husband's suggestion.

  Julian was not hindered, he continued to flash his broad smile. "My love, I've already covered some of that." He took a deep breath before continuing. "Yes, being a human male, my body cannot produce an egg, but you can. I won't require a womb, you didn't. And yes, I will have to take a lot of female hormones, but I've been able to determine the precise amount of each hormone my body will require. So you see. . ." Julian did not finish his thought as his husband brought his hand up to gently lay the gray fingers across the moving mouth.

  "Jahkim, just explain it to me," Garak requested.

  Flashing hazel colored eyes gazed into the steady blue depths of the Cardassian's eyes. Once again, Julian took a deep breath. "All right, first we start by giving you the hormones needed to produce an egg. Then we fertilize the egg with my DNA, just like we did the last time. We leave the egg within your body as it develops the sac about it, and when complete--just before the embryonic sac can attach itself to the lining of your abdomen, we transfer the baby to my body. I will have been flooding my system with the appropriate amount of the necessary hormones. Once inside my body, the sac will attach itself to my abdomen, and I. . ." Julian paused to look deeply into Elim's eyes. ". . .I'll be pregnant."

  Garak stared at his love. His eyes narrowed and the eye ridges gathered closer together as he sat in serious concentration. At last he spoke, "Is it safe? Will you be all right? Jahkim, I do not want anything to happen to you."

  Julian nodded his head. "I understand, Elim. I won't lie to you, because I'm a human male, there may be complications. The greatest of which is a high risk for miscarriage."

  The Cardassian pulled his husband closer. "Then it is not a safe procedure. It is too dangerous, Jahkim."

  "Elim, there's no guarantee when any child is conceived. I realize that the risk is high, but I just feel that this is going to work. I know that it will work." Julian rested his head on his older husband's shoulder.

  For a long time they sat on the bed, feeling the warmth of each others embrace. Garak absently stroked his beloved's hair, as Julian ran his fingers lightly over his husband's arms.

  "Jahkim, it cannot be done," Garak finally spoke.

  Julian looked up, anxious eyes searching. "What?" he asked, his voice slightly shaking. "Why not? It's going to be all right, Elim. I can do this."

  "No, you cannot," the Cardassian repeated. Then in response to the questioning look from Julian, he added, "I can take the hormones and produce the egg, you can fertilize it, and my body will then develop the surrounding protective sac, however, you cannot transfer the sac into your own body. Jahkim, how can you perform the procedure on yourself?"

  With an audible sigh of obvious relief, Julian smiled once again. "Actually, I have been checking into other doctors. We need someone who has experience with fetal transferences. Someone who would be willing to proceed with this operation."

  "Have you found someone?" Elim casually inquired.

  Julian's eyes dropped and he stared at his hands. "Well, most of the doctors I contacted seemed to feel that I need some kind of psychiatric help. They thought I was crazy. Some of them even indicated that if I wanted to go through all this trouble, why didn't I just have a sex change."

  At that, Garak hugged his Jahkim even closer. "Hmmm, I don't believe that I would like that. I fell in love with Julian Bashir, a male Terran. You are just the way I want you."

  The soft pinkish glow soon turned to the familiar reddish blush. "Don't worry, my love," Julian responded, "I don't have any intention of changing my sex, and that's exactly what I told them."

  "So what do you intend to do? Without another doctor, the procedure cannot be performed." Garak was feeling a little disappointed. After listening to Julian's explanation, he was looking forward to having his husband pregnant.

  "But I did find a doctor. After the others turned me down, I turned to the one doctor I knew would understand and wouldn't think me insane," Julian responded.

  "Who? Is this doctor as good as the others? I want only the best for you, my love." The tailor's grip on his younger husband had not loosened.

  "Doctor Slovik," came the simple answer.

  "Doctor Slovik? Isn't he a psychiatrist, how can he perform such a complicated medical procedure?" Garak asked incredulously.

  "Elim, he's a Vulcan. Vulcans rarely specialize in only one area. Slovik is a very competent medical doctor and, as you well know, he was instrumental in delivering Rochosh."

  Garak offered a smile of his own. "Yes, I remember. He is also a doctor who can be trustworthy. Well. . ." the Cardassian paused to lift Julian's face up towards him. "I placed you in his hands once before, I suppose I can trust him once more."

  Julian sprang into his husband's arms, pushing him down on the bed. "Does that mean you'll do it? We can have another baby?"

  Wrapping his arms around the doctor's slender form, Garak hugged back and placed a kiss on the tender lips. Rolling over so that Julian was now beneath him, Elim placed his hand on his husband's firm stomach. "As long as you're positive that the procedure is safe, and as long as you promise to take care of yourself, I believe I might enjoy seeing you with a big belly." He laughed as Julian playfully punched him in the shoulder.

  Garak's laughter stop as he thought of something else. "Jahkim, remember last time? When you took all those hormones to be able to nurse Rochosh?"

  "Yes, what's the matter?" Julian inquired.

  "Well, do you remember your reaction as your body changed? Are you sure you want to do this?" Elim asked softly.

  Julian nodded his head. "Oh, I'm sure all right. Besides I was under the influence of the drugs Ticana was giving me, this time will be different."

  Garak shook his head slightly and sighed. "Just in case, Jahkim, where did you put those undershirts I made for you? They were stretchable and should fit even as you get bigger."

  "Elim! My body won't change that much. Yes, my stomach will expand as the baby develops, just as yours did. As far as everything else, I shouldn't get huge or anything like that. My breasts will be a little more swollen than the last time, but nobody should notice any major changes. And yes, I know exactly where the undershirts are, I know I'll definitely need them." The doctor kissed his older husband tenderly, before settling them both down for the night.

  Both men lay silently and soon fell asleep in each others arms. Julian dreamed of this new adventure he was about to embark on, he was going to have a baby. Garak held his husband tight and dreamed of his sweet beloved Julian, and prayed to the deities that no harm would come to him.

  The next morning found Garak sitting in the Infirmary with his spouse diligently running scans over him, and conducting numerous tests on him. "Jahkim, you know how much I absolutely despise all these pointless tests that you seem to like to torture me with," Garak remarked, his patience wearing thin.

  "I know you don't particularly like these tests, Love, but you also know that there's no way I'm going to do this without running them," Julian replied with steadfast determination. He couldn't help smiling at his impatient husband, who was at the moment resembling their two- year-old when he started getting cranky. Bending over, Julian brushed his lips across the Cardassian's. "It'll just be a few minutes longer, I promise," he told him, eyes focusing on the scanner once again.

  "You said that a half an hour ago," Garak reminded him.

  "Yes, but this time I mean it," Julian returned with a grin.

  Within a few minutes, the tests were concluded. Julian entered the data into the data padd he was holding, and looked up at the tailor. "Well, it seems that nothing has changed much from the last time. You're still in optimum health. I can see nothing that would indicate it would be dangerous to go through with this," Julian replied, looking down at the readings once again. "It still amazes me how you manage to stay so healthy without really trying."

  "It is probably all the exercise you and Rochosh provide me with," Garak remarked with a smile and reached out to wrap his arms around Julian's waist and pull him in closer. "So are we to be going through with this then?"

  "There's no reason not to, unless you have doubts," Julian responded, wrapping his own arms about the Cardassian's neck.

  "Jahkim, I have no doubts. Any concerns I have lay with you, after all, it will be your body that's going to be carrying this child and allowing it to grow. I will only be carrying it for the first week. Are you certain 'you' have no doubts?" Garak asked, his ice blue eyes searching the doctor's hazel ones for any sign of uncertainty.

  Julian merely smiled. "Love, you know how strongly I want this to happen. No, I don't doubt that I want to do this. My only fear is of something happening baby," Julian told him with frank honesty.

  "Julian, you told me that Dr. Slovik will be arriving by the end of the week. Under his care, I don't see how you could be in any safer hands, unless you could do it yourself. You said yourself that you trust him," Garak reminded him.

  "I do trust him but. . ." Julian started, but was interrupted by a pair of lips covering his own in a long kiss.

  After he broke the kiss, the tailor brought his hand up to stroke Julian's cheek. "I know you have fears, very real ones in fact, but as you said last night, there are no guarantees when any conception takes place. But, I also know how much this means to you. The choice is ultimately yours, but I want you to know that regardless, I will support your decision."

  Julian took a deep breath and looked Garak directly in the eyes. "I want to do this."

  Garak smiled at his beloved mate. "Then the decision is made. Anytime you're ready, you can give me the hormones I'm going to need."

  Julian released his hold around the Cardassian's neck and reached for the nearby hypospray. Pressing it to his husband's throat, Julian released the hormones into the tailor's system. He knew that soon, they would be on the way to having a second child.

  "Julian, have you taken the first dose of hormones you'll be taking?" the Cardassian asked.

  "Not yet, but I will in just a minute," Julian replied and ordered the computer to create another hypospray containing the serum he had programmed into it earlier. His eyes held Garak's as he injected the hormones into his own throat. He knew that this was just the first of many injections, as he would have to take the hormone treatment on a daily basis, of course remembering the hormones he had to take to breastfeed Rochosh, that wasn't going to present a problem. "There, now all we have to do is wait for a few hours then begin the fertilization procedure."

  Garak once again pulled Julian towards him and gave him a reassuring kiss. "Everything is going to be just fine, Love."

  "How can you be so sure?" Julian questioned.

  "Because, when you're determined about something, you don't let anything stop you," the tailor responded.

  "It's a little early to be so optimistic, don't you think?" Julian asked.

  "No," Garak responded with a sly smile and another kiss. He released his spouse and stood up. "Now, I have a certain two-year-old to get ready for a baseball game. Captain Sisko said he would be by in half an hour to pick him up."

  Julian couldn't help smiling as he thought about the sight his son made wearing the little baseball jersey and cap his Uncle Ben had given him. He knew Rochosh was still too young yet to understand the rules, but that didn't deter Uncle Ben in the least from trying to teach him. "All right, but please tell the captain to lay off the hot dogs. I want to get Rochosh to at least try to eat dinner tonight. And absolutely no cotton candy. Last time Rochosh ate so much, he was sick with a bellyache for the rest of the night," Julian replied with a smile.

  Garak well remembered that night. The poor boy moaned for hours afterwards. "I'll tell him it's doctor's orders," Garak replied with a matching smile. "I'll see you in a couple of hours," the tailor said, and gave his husband another quick kiss and hug before leaving.

  Julian settled down in front of his computer console, determined to finish entering in the lab results that had been piling up for the last week. Before long, he became immersed in his tasks and didn't even realize how much time had slipped by until the computer announced he had an incoming voice transmission.

  "Send it through," Julian ordered.

  "Jahkim, it's time. Are you ready for me?" questioned the tailor.

  "Of course, Love. I'm ready any time you are," Julian answered in response.

  "All right, I'll be there in a few moments," Garak replied.

  Julian went about the task of preparing all the instruments and everything else he needed by the bio-bed, so he was indeed ready when the tailor appeared at the door. Without a word spoken, Garak removed his tunic, unzipped the front of his pants, and laid down on the bio-bed. He gave Julian a smile when the doctor administered the anesthetic and placed the probes that fed back to the computer monitor on his stomach.

  Julian started to bring the long amniocentesis-type needle closer to Elim. He stopped as he remembered the last time Elim was in this position. "Is the needle making you nervous?" he asked the tailor.

  Garak swallowed hard and took in a breath. "A little," he admitted. He still didn't like the looks of the needle that looked so incredibly huge.

  Julian took the tailor's hand in his and squeezed it reassuringly. "Remember the last time. Just concentrate on the screen and you won't even think about it."

  Garak nodded and watched as Julian brought the needle back up towards him. His eyes focused on the screen as he felt the slight pressure on his abdomen. He saw the needle enter into his stomach as Julian guided it towards the small cluster of cells that Garak recognized as the ovum. Within seconds, the outer layer of the ovum was broke through by the needle and he looked over to his spouse as he prepared to plunge the tip that would bring life to the group of cells. Looking back at the screen, Garak watched as Julian's DNA was inserted into the cells and felt himself grow excited as he saw the first division take place. 'Just as Rochosh started out,' Garak thought to himself and couldn't stop the smile that spread across his features. 'Soon we will have a brand new life to add to our family.' He looked over to his spouse who was smiling with a look of pure satisfaction, wonderment, and contentment dancing in his eyes.

  'Ah, my precious Doctor, do you have any idea how handsome you look when you're so happy?' the tailor wondered.

  "Well, it looks like the first part of the procedure has been a success," Julian remarked, still beaming with excitement. "Now all we have to do is wait the rest of the week out for Dr. Slovik's arrival."

  Garak sat up and took both of Julian's hands into his own. "Jahkim, has Dr. Slovik been advised of your wishes that no one knows about this yet?"

  "Yes, he knows and assured me that doctor/patient confidentiality will be maintained. I know I can trust him," Julian assured him.

  "I'm glad. I know how important it is to you that no one knows yet," Garak replied. "Hmm, since Vulcans respect the truth so highly, I do believe it's going to be interesting if anyone questions him about his visits," Garak remarked, thinking in particular about a certain Trill.

  "Oh, I'm sure he'll think of something," Julian assured him, smiling as he too thought about the commander. Julian handed the tunic back to his husband. "I tell you what, why don't you go home and get some rest while I finish things up here, then when I get home, I'll get Rochosh ready and we can all go out for a nice dinner to celebrate," Julian suggested as the tailor pulled the shirt back on over his head.

  "That, my dear Doctor, sounds like a wonderful idea," Garak replied and pulled him forward for another kiss. "That is assuming that the captain ever returns with our son," Garak said with a smile. "That man is in desperate need of a grandchild, or perhaps even needing another child of his own."

  "Don't you think he's a little up there in age to be thinking about more children? Jake's a grown man after all," Julian commented.

  "And just what. . ." Garak pulled the doctor forward and placed his hands on the abdomen that their second child was growing in. ". . .does age have to do with being a good father?" he asked with a smile.

  "Absolutely nothing," Julian replied with a teasing smile of his own as he leaned in to kiss the Cardassian's lips while his hands rubbed the flat stomach. "Honestly though, I am glad spending time with Rochosh makes him happy. It's nice that he's taken to Rochosh so much. He really is good with children."

  "Yes, especially considering that he can drop him off and leave after he gets Rochosh hyper on too much soda and candy," Garak replied with shake of his head. "All right, Jahkim, I'll see you later tonight for dinner," he said and kissed his husband again. "Don't forget though, that now you have to start taking care of your body to prepare it for carrying the baby, so try not to overdo it, all right?"

  "All right, and don't 'you' forget that for the next week, I want you taking it easy too," Julian responded before the tailor hugged him and left.

  After the Cardassian left, Julian tried concentrating on his work, but he couldn't help but think that in a matter of a week, if all went well, he would be pregnant. The thought both excited and scared him, but there was no doubt he was looking forward to it. Before he even realized it, it was time to leave and prepare for a night out with his family to celebrate the fact that in the months ahead, there would be a new life added to their unique family. *****

  As Major Kira stepped off the runabout, she brought her hand up to shield her eyes as she surveyed her homeworld. It was summertime on Bajor and the air was hot and sweet with the thick smell of wildflowers in bloom. The landscape was plush and green with many trees surrounding the farm she had piloted to. Kira couldn't help letting out a small sigh of contentment at the feeling she had, that she was finally home. She loved her post on DS9, but her spirit still cried out to stay on Bajor. It had, actually, been quite a while since she had been allowed the time to visit her home planet. There had been no major emergencies of late, and the station was running remarkably smooth, so Benjamin had seen no reason to deny the Major her vacation when a request from an old friend came in. The request itself had been a simple one, merely stating, 'I've missed you, come see me,' but the request was anything but simple when she stopped to consider who the sender was. Myral was a long time friend of the Major's from her days as a Resistance fighter. The Bajoran woman had even saved Kira's life on a couple of occasions and Kira had helped deliver the woman's only daughter, Anora--so when Kira received the communication beckoning the Major to visit her friend, it didn't take much for Kira to literally drop everything and pay her a visit.

  "Kira! Kira!" she heard someone calling her. She turned just in time to catch a little blond five-year-old Bajoran girl who had made a running leap into her arms. Kira laughed at the enthusiastic greeting as she hugged the grinning girl tight to her.

  "Hi, Anora, I'm glad to see you too! Where's your Momma?" the Major queried.

  "Right here," another laughing voice responded from somewhere behind her. She turned to see the smiling face of a short-haired, blond Bajoran female who was about her age.

  Setting the little girl down on her feet, Kira embraced the woman in a firm hug. "Myral!"

  "It has been too long, my friend," Myral chastised after releasing her.

  "I know, I've just been having a hard time getting off the station," the Major explained.

  "With you gone so long on that station, I sometimes wonder if you forget about us here on Bajor," the other woman remarked.

  "I could never forget any of you, no matter how long I've been gone," Kira assured her friend.

  "Would you like a tour of the farm? We've expanded somewhat since your last visit," Myral offered.

  "Sure! Sounds great. Umm, do I get treated to some of your homemade Hasprat for dinner tonight?" the Major asked with a grin.

  "When have you ever visited and I've not had Hasprat ready for you?" her friend asked matching the grin with one of her own as she slung her arm over the Major's shoulder and led her off around the area.

  They made a circle of the farm, with Myral showing her the latest crops they had planted and the newest equipment they had acquired. By time they reached the small farm house, they were already catching up on all the local gossip.

  "So tell me, how has Johda been?" Kira asked, referring to her friend's husband.

  Her friend's smile left her face to be replaced by a somber expression. "Not well, I'm afraid. He was injured a little over a week ago and isn't doing very well," the Bajoran woman responded as they entered her home.

  Kira was led to where she knew a back bedroom was located. Once inside the tiny room, she saw her friend's husband with a bandaged leg propped up on a bed. "Johda, what in the name of the Prophets happened to you?" she asked the man, who tried to smile in greeting as he watched her enter. He seemed to be too tired to answer her, so she turned back to her friend.

  "It was a ridiculous accident, that's all," Myral explained, answering the question in Kira's eyes. "He was outside working in the field, with some men he hired to help me clear the new plot we purchased, to get it ready for planting. The neighbors we bought it off of had left an old dilapidated stone shed still standing on the property, so the men decided they were going to use explosives to tear it down to make it easier to haul off the rubble."

  "What went wrong?" the Major asked.

  "The timing device that one of the men set wasn't installed correctly. When it didn't go off when it was suppose to, Johda started to walk up to find out what went wrong. He got halfway to the building before it exploded. One of the flying rocks broke his leg. I managed to reset it, but he hasn't seemed to be getting any better," the Bajoran said, watching her husband as she spoke.

  Kira walked over to the bedside and took a hold of the man's hand. The skin on his hands felt cool and clammy, but as she laid a hand to his forehead, she could tell he was burning up with fever. She also noted that his color was definitely off, his normally tanned skin was almost a pale ashen with a yellowish undertone that he had not had on her last visit. "Do you mean to tell me that you're just going to lay around slacking off while your crops need harvesting? I bet you're faking the whole thing just to get Myral's sympathy," Kira joked, getting a smile in response from the Bajoran man.

  "You know me, any excuse to get out of work," Johda said in a weak voice. "Besides, who could resist getting waited on hand and foot?"

  Kira grinned and slapped her friend lightly on the arm. "Mind if I take a look at your leg?" she asked. The man simply shrugged his shoulders in response and Kira pulled back the sheet that covered his leg. The appendage was extremely swollen, warm to the touch, and a very angry looking shade of red. When she untapped the homemade bandages on the wound, the first thing she noticed was the foul stench that nearly overpowered her. The deep laceration was weeping a yellowish green exudate and the area around the wound contained shiny blackened skin around the edges while closer to the inside of the wound was a flaky looking layer of yellow skin. Kira gently replaced the bandage over the wound and gave her friend an encouraging smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

  "So what's the prognosis, doc?" the man asked with a slight smile.

  Kira looked at Myral before turning to look back at the man. "Johda, I'm not going to lie to you. It doesn't look good. In my opinion, you need to get medical help immediately."

  "Kira, you know that I despise doctors. I have never trusted them and I never will," the man replied with conviction.

  "I've tried to tell him that he needs to see someone, but he refuses to go," Myral explained. "Nothing I have said has done anything to change his mind."

  Kira turned back to the injured man. "Johda, we have a Starfleet doctor on DS9, he's very knowledgeable and. . ."

  "No!" the man interrupted. "I said I wasn't going to see any doctor and I meant it!"

  "Would you rather be forced to lose your leg or worse?" Kira snapped.

  "If that's the path the Prophets have laid for me, then yes," the man returned.

  Kira, with hands on her hips stared down at her friend. "Do you mean to tell me that you'd lay there and rather let yourself die, leaving Myral and Anora to fend for themselves, rather than see a doctor? That doesn't sound like you Johda, you've always been a fighter! I know that because we've fought together! If you want to give up, that's your prerogative, but Myral and Anora shouldn't have to suffer because of it!" Kira turned on her heels and started to leave the room.

  "Kira, I. . ." the man started, but was too late to stop her.

  Kira was pacing back and forth in the small kitchen when Myral came out of the bedroom.

  "Kira, I've never heard you talk to Johda like that before," her friend stated.

  "Well, he needs to know how serious this is," the major remarked.

  "Do you really think he could die if he doesn't get help?" Myral asked. Kira looked into blue eyes that were filled with worry and fear.

  "Yes," she told her honestly.

  "Then I will have to convince him to go," the woman replied with determination. Kira took her friend in a hug. "I can't lose him. . .I won't lose him," the Bajoran said in a shaky voice.

  "You won't have to if he gets the treatment he needs," Kira responded.

  Blue eyes searched the major's. "And you trust this Starfleet doctor?"

  "Yes, I do trust him. He's the best that I've seen in or out of Starfleet," Kira answered.

  "Kira, I've always trusted you, as Johda has. If you think this man can help, then maybe I can get Johda to change his mind," the woman answered and turned to go back into the bedroom.

  "Myral?" The Bajoran woman stopped. "What does Johda have against doctors anyway?"

  "He was at the Hutet labor camp. He lost his mother and sister there," the woman answered simply and returned to the bedroom.

  Kira's blood ran cold in her veins at the name of the camp. The name had become infamous when rumors spread throughout the quadrant that the Cardassian medical personnel used the slaves of that camp to perform tests and experiments on the helpless victims. Stories of maiming, genetic mutation, and disease testing provided nightmares to many Bajorans during the occupation. When the camp was destroyed, there were only a handful of survivors left and none ever discussed the rumors. This had been the first time Kira had ever been made aware of Johda's past and she now could well understand his fear for doctors. She knew though, that if Johda didn't receive help that he would inevitably die.

  After a few hours of convincing, Kira laid in a course to DS9 with Anora beside her and Myral and Johda secured in the rear. The trip was uneventful and Myral kept a constant check on her husband as Kira tried to keep their daughter's thoughts off of her fathers condition. Soon she was nearing the docking ring.

  Her hand tapped her com badge. "Kira to Infirmary, I have someone on board in need of medical assistance. Please stand by."

  "Garak-Bashir to Kira, Infirmary will be awaiting your arrival," the doctor responded.

  Johda was quickly transported to the Infirmary and Myral, Anora and Kira watched as Julian quickly assessed his new patient. Running a scanner over the Bajoran, a grave frown marred Julian's features.

  "What is it, Doctor Bashir? How is he?" Myral asked, already having been introduced by Kira.

  "I'm afraid it's a rather poor prognosis. It seems that your husband has gained a blood infection due to his injury. Sepsis has set in and some irreversible organ damage has already occurred because of it," the doctor explained. "I still need to run some more tests though before I can start treatment."

  "Come on, Myral, let's leave Julian to work without distractions," the Major suggested.

  "No, I want to stay with my husband," the woman replied.

  "Ma'am, I can certainly sympathize with your need to stay close to your husband, but there is really nothing you can do for him at the time being," Julian responded.

  In a daze, the Bajoran woman allowed herself to be ushered out of the Infirmary by the Major. Once in Quark's, Kira bought her friend a strong drink as they waited for word. One hour went by, then another, as Kira watched her friend's nervousness and fear start to control her. Just as Kira was about to suggest going somewhere else while they waited, she heard her badge bleep.

  "Kira here," she answered.

  "Kira, please come to the Infirmary and bring your friend," she heard Bashir request.

  "We'll be there in a minute. Kira out," the Major responded, joining her friend who was already on her feet.

  As they entered the Infirmary, Kira could tell by the look on Julian's face that something was seriously wrong.

  "Well, how is he? Can I see him?" Myral asked the doctor.

  Julian shut his eyes for a fraction of a second and took in a deep breath. "I'm afraid that the damage caused by the sepsis was so extensive that it was irreversible. I'm sorry."

  "What do you mean you're sorry? He isn't. . ." the woman's voice trailed off.

  "I'm afraid he died moments ago," Julian regretfully told her.

  "No, there has to be some mistake!" the woman cried. "Johda isn't dead. He can't be! He just can't be! He promised me he'd always be there for me and Anora! He wouldn't leave me."

  "I know how difficult this must be for you but. . ." Julian started.

  "No!" she cried and shrugged off the hand that Kira laid on her shoulder. The woman walked over to Julian's computer console and used it to brace her hands as she hung her head. Hot tears flowed freely as her body shook with the heavy sobs.

  Kira walked up behind her and placed both her hands on her friend's shoulders. "He was a good man," she whispered.

  Myral brought her hands up and wiped the tears from her eyes and then something caught her attention at the console. Picking it up, she turned back to the Major. "What is this?"

  Kira looked at the object in her hand. It was a photograph of Julian, Garak, and Rochosh. "That's Doctor Bashir's family," the Major explained.

  Angry eyes focused on her. "Do you mean to tell me that I entrusted my husband's life to someone who is married to a Cardassian?!?" Myral's voice grew louder and louder. "A Cardassian!"

  "It wasn't like that Myral. . ." Kira started, wanting to explain. Suddenly she found herself in a small dark room and she found herself standing, approaching Johda.

  "I trusted you, Nerys. Myral trusted you too, now look at me." As Kira drew closer, the man's features became plainer. Grimly, she realized she was staring into the face of a corpse. Johda's face was discolored, skin peeling and flaking, his eyes were dull and listless. "You did this to me, Nerys." A hand stretched out to reach for her.

  "No!!!" she screamed.

  "Nerys, wake up!" Kira sat up with a start. Her hair was soaked with sweat and her body was trembling, and she was gasping for air. A pair of arms wrapped around her and pulled her against a smooth chest. "You were having a nightmare," a familiar voice told her.

  She stopped trembling slightly and turned to the man sharing her bed. The shapeshifter's blue eyes looked at her with concern. "It was nothing," Kira replied.

  "It didn't sound like nothing to me, Nerys," the Constable replied. "Are you sure you wouldn't want to talk about it?" His hands slowly stroked her bare back soothingly.

  "No, not right now," Kira answered her lover. "I'm sorry I woke you up though," she said as she smiled slightly at the Constable.

  "Don't worry about that. You just go back to sleep," Odo told her and placed a kiss on her lips and continued to hold her tightly. As his hand slowly caressed her hair, Kira found herself relaxing. As he continued to gently stroke her body, Odo felt Kira relax in his arms and after a while heard her soft, steady breathing as she fell back to sleep. *****

  Julian was literally bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. His excitement showing in his every movement. Garak calmly reached out and encircled his nervous husband with one strong and firm arm.

  "Jahkim, calm down. You're making others nervous just watching you." The Cardassian's eyes took in the stares he and Julian were receiving from the other people waiting by the airlock.

  "I can't help it, Elim," Julian's voice was bubbling with excitement. "Doctor Slovik is almost here and soon. . ." He paused to take a deep breath. "I'm just so excited!" he exclaimed.

  Garak smiled at the elderly Bajoran couple who was standing next to him. They both nodded their heads in greeting and laughed softly as Julian broke free of Garak's grip to start bouncing once again.

  "Your young man is certainly excited about something," the old woman stated, her eyes gazing at Julian.

  Taking hold of Julian once again, Garak nodded in agreement. "An old family friend is coming to visit. They haven't seen each other for a long time," he explained to satisfy the couple's curiosity.

  "Ah," the couple said in unison. They chuckled again as Julian tried in vain to release the Cardassian's grip on his waist.

  With no other recourse available, Julian settled down and relaxed in his husband's embrace. Garak wasn't fooled though, as he tightened rather than loosened his hold on his younger husband. Julian sighed audibly but made no other attempts to break free.

  Both men looked up as they heard the familiar hiss of the airlock door opening. They waited, with as much patience as Julian could muster, until Doctor Slovik walked towards them.

  "Doctor Slovik, how kind of you to come," Garak said as they greeted the Vulcan.

  "When your husband told me of his plans, how could I resist?" Slovik noted the firm hold Garak still held on Julian. He also noted the excitement exuding from the young man.

  "Have you begun the procedure?" Slovik questioned as they began the walk towards the doctor's guest quarters.

  "Oh yes," Julian announced. "Everything should be ready to proceed."

  Just as they turned to go down a new corridor, they very nearly bumped into Dax.

  "Slovik, what a surprise!" the Trill exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

  Julian squeezed Garak's hand tightly. The tailor was about to respond with some excuse when Slovik spoke up.

  "As always, the inquisitive one, Dax? It is time to do a follow up study of Dr. Garak-Bashir for Starfleet records," the Vulcan explained with ease.

  "Oh, well, I'll leave you to your work then," Dax sputtered. "Oh, do come to dinner tonight. You can begin a study of my husband while you're here," Jadzia invited.

  "It would be my honor to share dinner with you and your spouse," Slovik responded.

  Dax thanked him and went on her way.

  "That was fast thinking, and to come up with such a good answer," Julian stated in awe.

  Slovik turned to face the couple. "Actually, it 'is' time for your psychological review, Doctor."

  "Oh," it was Julian's turn to sputter, as Garak laughed softly under his breath.

  Slovik continued walking as Garak pulled Julian to follow.

  "Do not worry, Julian," Dr. Slovik replied. "I am quite capable of gaining all the information I need from some brief conversations. This procedure alone is providing me with quite a lot of information."

  They reached the doctor's quarters. "Now, if you will excuse me for a while. I would like to see both of you in the Infirmary in an hour. Until then." Slovik punched in his code and entered his quarters, leaving the two men to stare after him.

  "I am sure that there is nothing to worry about, Jahkim. In his own way, Slovik was toying with you. Just relax and be yourself, everything will work out just fine." Garak placed a kiss on his husband's cheek. Then taking Julian by the waist he turned them both to begin the trip back to their own quarters.

  Forty-five minutes later, Julian and Garak were both sitting in Julian's office, anxiously waiting for the Vulcan doctor to arrive for their scheduled appointment. Slovik finally entered and took the seat that Julian normally would occupy.

  "Dr. Garak-Bashir, Mr. Bashir-Garak," the Vulcan nodded towards both men. "I am pleased that nothing detained the both of you from attending the meeting today." Slovik looked pointedly at Garak. "First, let us begin with any questions dealing with the procedure that I will be performing. I am assuming that Dr. Garak-Bashir has gone over the various details of the procedure already?"

  "Yes, Julian has informed me that during this procedure, you shall be making an incision into my abdomen in order to remove the fetus, and that you will then make a similar incision into Julian where the fetus will then be inserted into Julian's body," the tailor replied. Julian had indeed gone over the procedure with him the previous night.

  "That is correct. It shall be similar in nature to a laparascopy. It is a very simple procedure and there is very little risk to either you or Dr. Garak-Bashir," the Vulcan responded. "With this particular procedure though, the risk is most prevalent for the fetus. You are, no doubt, both aware that there is a high degree of risk for miscarriage after the fetus has been transferred. That is why, after the operation, Dr. Garak-Bashir will need to be held for a minimum of three days for observation." The Vulcan's eyes rested on the tailor again. "And since it is also an invasive procedure for you, Mr. Bashir-Garak, you will also need to remain overnight."

  Julian turned to Garak. "What about Rochosh?"

  "I'm sure that Rochosh would enjoy the idea of staying overnight with Kirayoshi, and I don't believe Miles would mind," Garak replied. "Have you thought about how you're going to explain your absence to Captain Sisko and the others?"

  Julian was silent for several minutes, deep in thought, then he looked the Vulcan doctor squarely in the eye. "Dr. Slovik, you understand how critical it is that this remains a secret, correct?"

  "I am aware of your desire that this procedure remain concealed from your fellow officers, yes," Slovik replied.

  "What I am going to suggest is that Elim will tell any who ask that I have contracted a rather rare Vlutgan virus. I actually have been doing research on it, so it won't be that far fetched in the least. That way I will be able to stay in the quarantine room, away from visitors, excluding Elim and Rochosh, for the several days I need to remain here." Julian looked over at his spouse and smiled. "I doubt that you'll have any trouble making it believable." Garak merely gave him a sly smile in response before Julian turned his attention back to the other doctor.

  "Since I know that Vulcans dislike being untruthful, all I would require of you is to back up the story by refusing any other visitors."

  "Though it is true that Vulcans, normally, are always honest, in a circumstance such as this, doctor/patient confidentiality is valued to be of greater concern. As I am aware of how this will help to promote your mental well-being and will not adversely affect anyone else, I have no hesitation to agree to your proposal. I will do my best to keep your condition under the strictest of confidence," the Vulcan assured him.

  "I deeply appreciate that," Julian told him, though the obvious relief in his eyes made the words unnecessary.

  "So, it's all in order then? Will the procedure take place tomorrow morning?" the Cardassian asked.

  "Yes, the procedure is scheduled for 07:00 tomorrow morning. It will be necessary to avoid drinking or eating anything after 19:00 tonight," the Vulcan stated.

  Julian and Garak both rose from their seats and Julian extended his hand to Slovik. "I just want to thank you again for agreeing to do this."

  "It is not often that I get to be part of a rather unique occurrence. I thank you for allowing my assistance," Slovik said in return, as he lightly shook the younger man's hand.

  Garak guided his younger spouse back to their quarters and spent the rest of the evening trying to relieve some of the doctor's growing apprehension. The reality of what was going to be happening the next day finally began sinking into the doctor, and it made him nervous. Even though he tried to hide it from his son, Julian still caught Rochosh's concerned look on several occasions. Finally, Julian's apprehension calmed slightly as he slept through the night in Garak's arms.

  The next morning, both men dressed and readied themselves for their arrival at the Infirmary. They had already made plans for Rochosh to stay overnight at the O'Brien's and Kira had been delighted to watch him in the meantime.

  Inside the quarantine room, Garak took a seat on the bio-bed next to Julian as they waited for Slovik to come in.

  "Are you still nervous, Jahkim?" Garak asked.

  "A bit. I still hope it all goes well," Julian replied.

  Garak pulled the younger man into his arms and placed a kiss on his lips. "I'm certain everything is going to go just fine. If Dr. Slovik had any doubts about whether or not this procedure was safe, he would have cautioned us against it."

  Julian turned his face up towards the tailor's eyes and sought assurance in their cornflower blue depths. "I do suppose you're right. . . actually, I know you are, but I just don't want to disappoint you if this fails."

  Garak looked disapprovingly at his spouse as his fingers took Julian's face in his hand to make sure the younger man looked him dead in the eye. "Jahkim, I want you to get that notion out of your head this instant. There is no way you could ever be a disappointment to me. No matter what happens, I want you to bear that in mind." Garak softened his words by capturing the doctor's mouth in a tender kiss. After the kiss ended, Garak laid the younger man's head on his chest and ran his hands over his slender back. "Just think of it, Jahkim, soon I will get to watch your body grow and change as our child grows and matures."

  Even with the fear and apprehension, Julian couldn't help but smile at the thought. When Garak was pregnant with Rochosh, Julian was excited and happy to watch the changes that took place in Garak, but he had also been a bit envious as well, but now he would come to know all the joys Garak was able to experience throughout the pregnancy for himself. It was an experience that not many men would ever get the chance to undergo, or even want to experience, but Julian was looking forward to it. Julian was brought out of his musings when he was caught up by another long, tender, encouraging kiss.

  The sound of a discreet cough brought their attention to the fact that the Vulcan doctor had entered the room. Garak kept his arm around Julian as Slovik stood in front of them.

  "Good morning to you both. I assume both of you are ready to proceed with the operation?" the Vulcan asked.

  "Yes, we are," Julian replied with more conviction than he was feeling.

  "Fine, then Mr. Bashir-Garak, please make yourself comfortable on the other bio-bed while I prepare the instruments and the anesthetic that I will be using," Slovik replied while he moved about the room beginning to set things up.

  Both men dressed in the Infirmary robes they were handed and laid on their backs while they waited for Slovik to finish. Julian looked over to table of instruments and saw the laparascope, a long cylinder tube-shaped device that would be used to gently suction the fetus from Elim and then reversed to insert it into his own abdomen. A small visual device would be used to feed back to the monitor to show Dr. Slovik exactly where the fetus was in Elim, and to guide the exact placement of the embryo inside of Julian. It would be a delicate procedure indeed, but one that Julian felt the Vulcan was more than capable of performing.

  "I will first put Mr. Bashir-Garak under the effect of the general anesthetic, then I will induce you, Doctor," Slovik informed them as he approached the tailor. Julian watched as Slovik pressed the hypospray to his spouse's throat.

  Looking into Julian's eyes, Garak whispered, "Love you, Jahkim," before slipping into unconsciousness.

  Julian smiled to himself and took a deep and calming breath as Slovik came to stand beside him. As he felt the hypospray being pressed up against his throat, Julian closed his eyes and let the thoughts of his mate's strength and the idea of bringing a new life into the world wash over him, allowing a sense of peaceful calm to filter in and surround him as the inky blackness of unconsciousness soon took over.

  Doctor Slovik moved back over to the tailor and began to make the first incision with the steady-handed precision of a skilled surgeon.

  The first thing that filtered through Julian's consciousness as he began to stir, was the pair of cool blue eyes that greeted him and he slowly tried to work the fuzziness from his head.

  "Hi, Love," Julian gave the Cardassian a weak smile. "What are you doing out of bed?" he questioned, his doctor's instinct knowing full well that the tailor shouldn't be up moving around.

  "Dr. Slovik gave me permission to check on you when you started coming to," the older man replied. "How are you feeling?"

  Julian tried to move around a bit to see exactly how he did feel. The pain that he felt in his abdomen was expected. "Like Miles has been using my stomach for a dart board, but other than that, I think I'll survive."

  Garak gave him a smile, "I know exactly what you're referring to," he replied and rubbed his own stomach in response. "I'm glad to know that you are all right, considering."

  As the rest of the anesthetic wore off, Julian found himself having lots of questions. "What has Slovik told you so far? Were there any complications? How is the baby?"

  Garak placed a finger on Julian's lips to silence him. "Sshh, Doctor Slovik will be back in a moment and he can tell you everything then. What he has told me though, was that there were no complications, and that the operation was successful." Garak took away his finger and bent down to press a kiss on his mate's lips. "You, my dear Doctor, are officially with child."

  A wave of relief flooded over the younger man and Garak watched as a huge smile lit and his hands came to rest on his flat stomach. Julian then saw Doctor Slovik enter.

  "Everything went well?" he asked the other physician.

  "Yes, neither you nor your husband suffered from any complications, and the transfer of the fetus went exceptionally well." At the smile of contentment on Julian's face, Slovik continued, "Even though the procedure itself went well, the next seventy-two hours are absolutely critical. We must watch and see that your body does not reject the fetus, as there is a risk even with all of the hormones you have been introducing into your system. Then if that goes well, there will still be a high probability that you might miscarry, but it shall decline with each passing month."

  Garak bent down close to Julian's ear and whispered, "Don't worry, Jahkim, nothing is going to happen to this child. I'm certain of it."

  "Mr. Bashir-Garak, will you please return to your bio-bed? Both you and the doctor need your rest, especially the doctor," Slovik commented.

  After Garak gave Julian's fingers a squeeze, he went to lie back down, as the doctor had ordered. Slovik then brought a chair in between the two beds. "While both of you are awake, there is another matter, of a personal nature, that I need to address regarding the risk of miscarriage for the fetus." Slovik looked at the tailor and then the doctor to make sure he had their undivided attention. "Knowing that you are a married couple, I need to make sure that you realize certain risk factors for the baby regarding sexual intimacy. While Dr. Garak-Bashir is in his first trimester, I need to forewarn you both to use the utmost caution. That means being careful regarding Julian's stomach. He is not to lie on it, nor should pressure be put on it. After the first trimester, you may resume sexual relations as you normally would."

  The tailor looked at his younger spouse before looking back at the Vulcan. "Thank you, we'll be sure to bear that in mind."

  The Vulcan looked first at Julian and then at Elim. "Well, if neither of you have any questions regarding the pregnancy at the moment, I shall leave you two alone to get some rest. However, I must remind you that after the initial seventy-two hour observation of Dr. Garak-Bashir, I will not be available for consultation. I am needed on Pacifica for consultation and the project shall take several months." The doctor then stood and made his way out of the quarantine room, calling for the lights off as he went. *****

  Kira stood nervously outside of Sisko's office. Twice she had come up the stairs to see the captain, and twice she had gone back down. Now on her third attempt, she wondered if she were doing the right thing. Benjamin Sisko was never comfortable with his role as the Emissary. 'Who else can I turn to?' she asked herself. With a deep breath, she sounded the chime requesting admittance to the office.

  Sisko looked up from his work. "Major, is there anything I can do for you?" He indicated the chair and watched as his usually unflappable first officer sat tensely in the offered seat.

  "Captain, I need some advice." she began. "Not from a Federation commanding officer, but from the Emissary."

  It was now Sisko's turn to fidget nervously in his seat. However, knowing how much Kira's religious beliefs meant to her, he said nothing.

  Kira swallowed and started to tell him of her dream: her friend, the accident, bringing Johda to see Dr. Bashir, the reaction of Myral to Julian's family, and then the most disturbing of all, the accusation of the dead man.

  Sisko listened patiently, and when Kira had finished he asked softly, "Major, I'm not sure, just what is it that you want from me?"

  "What does it all mean?" she asked in return. Then in frustration she added, "I don't know, I'm just so confused by the dream. I think about it during the day and at night. . ." she paused briefly, ". . .at night it's the same dream over and over again. It has to mean something, there's something that I'm missing. And why should I be having this dream now, why not after it happened, why so long afterwards?"

  Rising from his seat and walking towards the Bajoran, Sisko replied, "Do you feel guilty for what happened?"

  Kira looked up sharply. "No, of course not. I felt it was the right thing to do then, and I still feel the same way. Johda was dying, if we had gotten him to Julian sooner, he would still be alive today. I believe that with all my heart." She stared at the Emissary.

  Benjamin pulled up a chair next to hers and sat down. "You think the Prophets are trying to tell you something?" Kira nodded her head slowly. Sisko sighed, "Perhaps you should contact Myral and see how things are going for her and Anora.'

  "She won't talk with me," Kira huffed. "She blames me for Johda's death."

  "Maybe that's it," Sisko stated. "Maybe you're feeling the strain of being separated from a longtime friend. You're feeling her guilt, and applying it to yourself in the dream."

  Kira thought about what Sisko had just said. "It makes sense, maybe I should contact Myral, she might be needing someone to talk to about Johda's death." She smiled at the Emissary. "Thank you," she said softly.

  "That's what I'm here for," Sisko replied with a broad smile of his own. "Now, I have some work to finish."

  As Kira headed towards the door, Sisko called out to her once again. "Oh, Major, pleasant dreams."

  Kira smiled once again, nodded her head and returned to her post. *****

  Three weeks later, Julian was standing outside Chief O'Brien's quarters with a desperate look on his face. "Miles, I just didn't have anyone else to turn to," Julian was explaining to the chief. "Elim has to fill those orders today, and I have those surgeries scheduled. Now the captain has to attend those meetings with the Kai, and. . ." the doctor paused as he noticed the amused look in O'Brien's eyes. "What's so funny?"

  "Oh, nothing, except you trying to ask a favor from me. Bloody hell, Julian, don't you think I'd be willing to help you out. You're my friend," Miles playfully admonished his younger friend.

  "I'm sorry, I guess I just wasn't thinking," Julian replied.

  "You go ahead, I'd be happy to watch the little tike for you." Miles scooped up Rochosh in his arms and swung him around, much to the glee of the little boy.

  "Are you sure, with Keiko back to work on Bajor, I don't want to impose, if you're too busy," Julian was apologizing.

  "I said it was okay, now off with you, before I change my mind. Besides I have Molly and Kirayoshi here to keep him company."

  Julian hugged his son and gave him a kiss. "Daddy will be back for you soon," he told the boy. Rochosh just giggled and as soon as he was set down was off and running.

  "Yoshi, Yoshi," the little boy shrieked as he went looking for his playmate. He found Kirayoshi and Molly playing on the computer in the other room.

  Molly frowned as Rochosh climbed up on her lap to see what she and her brother were up to. "No, no, Rochosh, don't touch the console. I've been working very hard trying to get all my information recorded. Daddy," the twelve-year-old called.

  "What is it now, Hon," her father asked as he came into the room.

  "Can't Yoshi and Rochosh go play somewhere else," she whined. "I have work to do, it was bad enough with Yoshi bothering me, but now I have two of them."

  "Molly, Hon, I have just a few more adjustments to make to a program, and then I'll take them off your hands. Can you hold out a little longer for your daddy?" the chief pleaded with his daughter.

  "Oh, all right," she sighed, getting up and carrying Rochosh with her so her little brother would follow. She led them over to the toy chest in the corner. Settling down on the floor Molly began pulling out all the toys she knew would occupy the minds of the six-and two-year-olds.

  "Molly?" Yoshi questioned.

  "What?" came the response.

  "Molly, when are we going to have a little brother like Rochosh?" Kirayoshi asked his older sister while playfully wrestling with the little boy.

  Once again the girl sighed, her brother had been asking her questions like that all day. "I told you before, Yoshi, mommies and daddies have to be together to make babies. Our mother and father are apart so much, they don't see each other enough to make a baby." The young girl expressed her bitterness in her words.

  "How make baby?" Rochosh asked his friend.

  "Oh, this is just great!" Molly complained. "Now I have two of them asking dumb questions. I'm getting something to eat." She rose from the floor and stomped out of the room.

  "Yoshi, how make baby?" Rochosh asked again.

  "Well, Molly says that the two people have to love each other and make each other happy. Then the father gets on top of the mother and they make a baby." He smiled, proud of himself for remembering all that his big sister had said he was too young to know about.

  Kirayoshi looked over at his little friend and noticed the slight pout that had formed on the younger boy's lips. "What's wrong, Rochosh?"

  Sniffling, the little hazel eyes looked up at his friend. "No have mother, just Jayta and Daddy."

  Putting his arm around the little boy's shoulders, Yoshi drew his friend closer. "It's okay, Rochosh, your Jayta and Daddy love you. Sometimes, my Mommy goes away and we just have Daddy."

  "Rochosh want baby brother too," he cried.

  Yoshi sat back and considered his friend. Then smiling, he hugged the smaller boy. "My Daddy says that your Jayta and Daddy love each other. So they must do everything that Daddy and Mommy do."

  Rochosh looked up at the older boy, questions in his eyes.

  Kirayoshi proudly announced, "It just works a little different in your family, instead of a father and mother you have a Jayta and a Daddy. So to make a baby, your Jayta has to be on top of your Daddy."

  Molly returned carrying a tray of fruits and some glasses of juice. She looked at the tears on Rochosh's face. "What's wrong, little one?" she asked as she sat down beside him.

  "Nothing," came the answer. "Yoshi tell me how to make baby."

  "Oh great," Molly sneered at her brother. "What have you been telling him?"

  "Just what you told me," her brother defended himself.

  Molly could have just kicked herself for even opening her mouth to her brother, but she had gotten so tired of the questions. 'Best just to try and change the subject,' she thought to herself.

  "Well, I hope you told him how the father and mother should love each other before they make a baby. Now, who wants some apple juice?"

  The three children ate their snack and played some games until the doctor came to get Rochosh.

  Later on that evening, Garak entered the darkened quarters silently. He headed towards the light still shining in Rochosh's bedroom. Coming to a standstill at the doorway, he smiled at the sight before him. His son was asleep, tucked under his covers with Little Worf held tightly against his chest. A sight that would bring a smile to any fathers lips, yet what Garak was really smiling about was the sight of his spouse. Julian was sound asleep stretched out along side of Rochosh. The doctor's long legs dangled over the small bed. One arm lay across his son, the hand resting on the teddy bear, while the other arm dangled over the side of the bed, fingers lightly touching the floor. On the floor lay one of the books they had been using to read stories from every night.

  Still smiling, Garak crossed the room and looked down at both of his Jahkims sleeping so peacefully. Both had their lower lip pushed slightly out forming a little pout as they slept. He leaned over to place a kiss on his child's forehead.

  Gently, the tailor shook Julian's shoulder. "Jahkim," he whispered in the doctor's ear. "Come, let's move you to someplace more comfortable." Julian stirred and released a soft groan. "Julian, wake up, my love. Let me help you into the other room."

  Garak reached down and helped raise his husband to a standing position. Placing a strong arm about the slender waist, he led his still groggy mate to the sofa. He settled his lover on the sofa then went to the replicator to get some tea for the two of them.

  "You're home late," Julian said between yawns. "Rochosh tried to wait up for you, we both did." He smiled sheepishly with half-closed eyes.

  "Yes, I had a lot of orders to get out in time for the festival. I know that I said something to you earlier about it," Garak responded handing a cup of steaming tea to his younger husband,

  "You did, I just forgot," Julian replied. He took a sip of tea and cuddled against his mate, his long legs stretched out over the sofa.

  The Cardassian ran his fingers through Julian's soft mahogany hair. "You're very tired, Jahkim, how was your day at the Infirmary?"

  "I ended up having to do two surgeries. It seems that our Bajoran replacement doesn't have a wide range of experience in some areas. With Dr. Slovik gone for at least another month, I'll just have to do the best I can." Julian rested his head on Garak's shoulder.

  "Perhaps we should talk with Captain Sisko and explain your condition. He could get a Starfleet replacement and ease your workload," the tailor suggested hopefully.

  "We talked about this, Elim." Julian lifted his head and faced his husband. "I don't want to have everyone fussing over me and then lose our baby. I just couldn't bear it if something were to. . ." his voiced choked with unspoken fear.

  Garak pulled his love closer and gently began to stroke his back. The desired effect was achieved when Julian's body began to relax in his husband's comforting embrace. "Jahkim, I understand your fears that your body may reject the baby, but working yourself to the point of exhaustion will not help. In fact, that alone may lead to the miscarriage."

  "No, don't talk like that!" Julian's voice shook with suppressed emotion. "I'll be fine. I just have to start taking more vitamin supplements. I promise to get some more rest, I'll even cut back some hours. Elim, please don't think such thoughts again."

  Not wishing to upset his husband any further, Garak decided to change the subject. Looking at Julian questioningly, he asked "If you had to do the surgeries, where was Rochosh?"

  Julian smiled. "You'd never believe it," he teasingly answered.

  "Try me," came the tailor's response.

  "Miles," Julian said with a wide grin spreading across his face.

  "You mean that Chief O'Brien agreed to baby-sit?" Garak asked with a staged shocked voice. "Why just the other day he was complaining about Keiko being on Bajor and leaving him with Molly and Kirayoshi."

  "Everyone else was busy, so I just asked. Yet, I really don't think he did the babysitting," Julian stated. "I really think that it was Molly. She's growing into quite a young lady." Julian yawned several times in succession. He placed his head lower on Garak's chest and tried to settle in for a quick snooze.

  "Oh no, you don't," Garak exclaimed. "The last time you did this, I ended up having stiff arms and legs, not to mention what it did to my back. Up you go, off to bed," he ordered.

  Garak rose from his seat taking both tea cups and placing them on the table. He turned and pulled Julian up and guided him towards their bedroom. Seating his husband on the edge of the bed, he proceeded to undress Julian.

  "Sometimes, I do believe that you like this," the tailor told his smiling husband.

  "Hmmm, if I wasn't so tired I'd show you just how much I like it," Julian replied in a sleepy voice.

  "Just what makes you think, I won't try to find out anyway?" Elim asked seductively while running his hands over the doctor's now naked body. Garak stepped back from the bed and quickly stripped himself of his heavy clothing. He then gently pushed the younger man onto the bed and lifted the long legs up. Straddling the golden skinned body, Garak looked down at his mate.

  Shifting off to kneel at his husband's side, ever mindful of Julian's stomach, Garak urged Julian to roll over onto his side. He then began a slow massage of the doctor's tense and aching body. Reaching over to the nightstand, he retrieved the vial of oil kept in the top drawer. Pouring some into his hands, he then, ever so slowly, began the circular motions across the young man's shoulders, down his back, and then stopping to caress the rounded globes of his lover's rear end. The Cardassian was always fascinated with the smooth sand-colored skin of his Human mate. He could spend hours just touching Julian. Even after all these years of marriage, the doctor had no idea of just how erotic an effect his skin had on Garak.

  Julian was unaware of his husband's musings or, for that matter, the massage. He had drifted off to sleep when Garak had applied the oil. Garak continued his ministrations for a while longer. 'No sense letting good oil go to waste,' he thought happily.

  In the early morning hours of the next day, Garak awoke to the sounds coming from their bathroom. Vaulting from the bed, he rushed into the smaller room. There he found Julian doubled over the commode. The doctor's face was pallid and he was having some difficulty breathing. Garak knelt behind his spouse gently holding him by his shoulders. When Julian had finished, he leaned back against the Cardassian's solid chest. The younger man's head lolled on Garak's shoulder. Julian was trying to breathe deeply to steady his rapid pulse. Elim reached over and grabbed a wet washcloth and tenderly wiped his husband's face and chest of the mucous remains.

  "Jahkim, is this normal for Humans? It just doesn't seem right that a baby should cause such a reaction." He held Julian close to him and rocked him gently.

  "Oh, this is quite normal all right," the doctor responded. "Elim, would you help me back to bed, I just don't seem to have the energy to get up."

  The Cardassian rose from his position, bringing his weakened husband up with him. Julian leaned against Garak for support as they walked back to the bed. After settling his love in bed once again, Garak lay next to him, arms wrapped protectively about the still slender body.

  "You really don't look very well, Jahkim, perhaps you should consider calling in sick today," Garak hopefully suggested.

  "You know I can't do that, they would just send someone to check on me, questions would be asked. Please, Elim, trust me on this. I'll be okay." Julian reached out and held his husband's face in his hands. "When Dr. Slovik returns, I promise to cut back."

  "You, my sweet delight, will have no other choice when Dr. Slovik returns. He will make you stop some of this foolishness." Garak held Julian's hands in his own, leaning in to place a kiss upon those full pouty lips Julian had tried to use to sway him.

  "Well, I don't see why you and Slovik are so worried about how much I work. You were working right up until the day Rochosh was born. You even had to carry me several times," Julian protested.

  "Jahkim, I am Cardassian, we are capable of managing extreme physical exertion, even during pregnancy. You are Human, a Human male. You are treading on some experimental ground. Dr. Slovik and you both agreed on the probability rate of a miscarriage and the pernicious effects this pregnancy could have on your physical well- being. I refuse to let anything happen to you as long as I can avoid it."

  Julian smiled at his husband. "Thank you," he replied.

  Garak looked at him with questioning eyes. "For what?"

  "For caring, for being you. I love you Elim Bashir-Garak, and I promise you I will ease up on my workload." He sighed, "But not today. I have no other choice," he quickly added seeing the look in his husband's eyes change to one of discontent.

  "Very well, Jahkim. I will take Rochosh today." He held up his hand for silence as Julian began to protest. "I know that it is your turn, you'll just have to accept it, that's all. And. . ." he paused slightly, "I will be checking in on you throughout the day. If I see that you have gotten any worse or are exhausting yourself, I 'will' bring you home." He pulled the doctor closer, keeping his arms wrapped around the younger man until they both fell asleep once again.

  Later on, Julian sat at his desk. He leaned forward placing his head on his arms. 'Not now,' he thought. 'Oh, not again, please.' He fought desperately to keep the nausea under control. He had put up with two bouts of morning sickness in just the few hours he had been awake. Elim had fussed over him this morning, and had offered to take Rochosh today. However, Julian was bound and determined not to give off the slightest hint of his medical condition, he had to come to work, there was no other choice. He had tried to explain this to his husband, but the tailor was still not satisfied. With his head down and thoughts else where, the doctor had not heard the entrance of another person into his office.

  "Julian," the soft voice spoke. "Are you all right?"

  The young man looked up into the face of Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax. She knelt down next to his chair and put her arm around his sagging shoulders.

  "Julian, you look terrible," she said noting the dark circles under the young man eyes, the paleness of his face, and the unmistakable signs of a throat trying to keep the queasiness from prevailing. "Are you coming down with something, can I get you some medication?" Her voice was filled with the sisterly concern she had adopted over the years with Julian.

  "I. . .I'm fine, Jadzia," Julian managed between swallows. "Must have been. . .been something I. . . ate." With that the young doctor flew out of his chair and headed straight to the small bathroom.

  Jadzia rose after a few seconds and followed the doctor. She stood in the doorway as Julian relieved himself of what was left of his breakfast. She helped the shaken young man to his feet and to the basin where he splashed cold water on his face.

  When Julian felt better, they moved back into the office. Julian sank down into his chair, while Jadzia pulled up a stool from the corner.

  "Are you going to tell me, or do I have to guess," the Trill asked.

  "Really, Dax, I'm fine. There no cause for concern. I feel better already," the doctor responded in a shaky voice. His eyes would not meet hers and he tried to look busy at his console.

  "Yes, you do look a little better," Dax stated. Julian's color was slowly returning to his ashen face. She sat and watched him try to work as her mind quickly assessed the situation.

  "Tell you what, Julian, let's see how good I am at diagnosing your problem," Jadzia peered closely at the startled expression on her friend's face.

  "Jadzia, really. . ." Julian began to protest.

  The young woman held up her hand, placing her fingers gently on his mouth. "You listen, I will talk," she commanded.

  Julian sat back as Dax made a show of checking the doctor's pulse, lifting his face and running her fingertips over his cheeks, then tapping her finger against her mouth, the science officer let her eyes trail over Julian's body, stopping to stare at his stomach. Or so Julian thought as he unconsciously brought his hands up to his abdomen in a protective gesture.

  "Okay, Doctor, here's what I think. Judging from the almost daily bouts with queasiness, the mood swings, the unusual combinations of food I've seen you eat lately, Garak's overprotectiveness, and your rather nervous reaction every time I look at your stomach. . .I'd venture to say that you, my brilliant friend, have found a way to get. . .pregnant."

  For a fraction of a second, Julian's eyes flashed at her, before he started to respond. "Really now, Dax! You have quite an imagination! How could I be pregnant?"

  "I don't hear you denying it," she shot back.

  "It's ludicrous, Jadzia. In case you haven't noticed, I am a male," Julian gave it his best comeback.

  "Garak is a male also, and. . .you still haven't denied it!" Dax replied with a smile. "Julian, look at me," her voice took on her Commander's tone. When Julian glanced down at his desk, mumbling to himself, she repeated the command. This time taking his face in her hands and turning his head towards her.

  "I said, look at me." Julian's eyes met hers. "Now, deny it to my face." Julian tried to turn away and each time Dax brought his face back.

  In a quiet whisper, he responded "I can't."

  A smile formed on Jadzia's face as her hands gently wiped away the tears that began to flow down Julian's cheeks.

  "Julian, this is wonderful!" she shouted.

  Panic overtook the doctor, he jumped up checking to see if anyone was nearby. "Jadzia, please, you can't tell anyone, please."

  "Julian, I don't understand. You're pregnant, you should be overjoyed. You are happy about it aren't you, I mean this had to be a conscious decision, right?"

  "Yes, I'm happy. Elim's happy. We're both ecstatic, but Jadzia, we can't tell anyone, not yet."

  The Trill rose and came over to her friend, wrapping him in a hug, she asked, "What's wrong, Julian?"

  "There's a high probability rate that I could miscarry. I just don't want to get everyone's hopes up, and then . . .then lose. . ." his voice began to tremble. Jadzia's arms held him protectively as he leaned into her embrace, unable to complete his thought.

  "It's okay, I understand," Dax spoke soothingly. "What can I do to help? You know, if I was able to figure it out, it won't be long before someone else does." She pulled back to look at Julian once more. "Just how far along are you?"

  "I just started my third month," Julian sighed, while stretching to relieve his aching back muscles.

  "Hmmm, not too much longer and you won't be able to keep it a secret. Until then, though, I'd be glad to help, starting with a nice back rub, come on," she was unable to keep the concern out of her voice.

  Jadzia checked the Infirmary, everyone seemed to be busy or on a break. She led the doctor back to the quarantine room, helping him to sit on one of the beds. When Jadzia tried to get Julian to turn onto his stomach, the doctor made a mild protesting sound.

  "No, Jadzia, I can't," he informed her with a small smile.

  At her questioning look, Julian explained. "I can't put any form of pressure on my stomach. We need to wait until the embryonic sac is firmly attached and strong enough."

  "I understand, but you can lie on your side, can't you?" The doctor nodded his head. Dax helped him lift his feet and settled him on his side. She then began to slowly rub his shoulder and back, talking to him in a soothing voice.

  Julian fell asleep as she massaged his back. She continued for a little while longer, then leaned down to give the sleeping doctor a peck on the cheek. "A baby, our Julian is having a baby!" she whispered and smiled broadly.

  She looked up as she heard a noise. Garak stood in the doorway. "How long have you been there?" Dax questioned.

  "Long enough to know that you have privileged information, Commander," the tailor stated. "How did you find out?" He moved to the bed and checked his sleeping spouse.

  "I wheedled it out of Julian just a little while ago. You know, I really am insulted, I thought you two trusted me, you should have told me," she said with hurt evident in her voice.

  "Commander, if we told you, then we would have to tell the captain, then Major Kira, soon everyone would know. This was not something that Julian wished to be known just yet. He told you why, didn't he?"

  "Yes, he really is worried about having a miscarriage." She looked at the Cardassian. "So are you."

  Garak nodded, "It would sadden me to lose the child, but more importantly, it would be extremely detrimental to my Jahkim's health, physically and emotionally. I would do anything to avoid that."

  "So would I, Garak. You know how much the two of you mean to me. I am Julian's Bonding Patron, and 'your' best man, remember."

  The tailor studied the woman before nodding in agreement.

  "Now," Jadzia began, "How can we get him out of here and back home without raising any suspicions? He really needs to rest more, Garak. His body is changing and he needs what strength he has to put towards accommodating those changes."

  "I agree, but you know how stubborn he can become," the Cardassian conceded.

  "Well, I can be just as stubborn. You have me on your side now, and together we will make him do things our way!" Dax announced with determination.

  "Garak?" she continued. The tailor looked at her with questioning eyes. "Is he planning on being his own doctor?"

  "For a while, yes, I believe that is the plan," he responded.

  "Excuse me?" Dax asked incredulously. "Of all the foolhardy things to do. He needs to be under the care of an objective doctor. Let me check into it, and see if I can find anyone who's available. Is that all right with you?" The Trill paused, staring at Garak with deep intensity in her eyes. "Wait a minute, how did Julian do it? I assume, he transplanted your egg, but who did it?"

  Garak did not respond with words, but only with a slight smile as Dax slowly began to realize what had happened.

  "It was Slovik, wasn't it?" she questioned the tailor. "I knew it, I just knew it. He was here at the right time and he would have the expertise to do the procedure. Humph, and he told me he was here to do a follow up psychological study on Julian. Wait until I see that Vulcan again!"

  "Yes, Commander, you are correct, it was Doctor Slovik who performed the procedure. However, at the moment, I believe we have a more pressing matter to concern ourselves with." He nodded towards the sleeping form of his pregnant husband. "If you would check the Infirmary, let's see if we can get him back to his own bed." Garak bent down to lift his sleeping husband while Dax made sure no one was around.

  With Dax in the lead, running interference, Garak carried Julian back to their quarters, and laid the doctor onto their bed. Julian had barely noticed the movement. He curled up against Garak's pillow and slipped into a deeper sleep.

  "Where's Rochosh?" Dax asked.

  Garak looked at her with a sly smile. "Actually, I was so worried about Julian, that I asked the first available sitter I came across. Rochosh is with Commander Worf."

  "Really?" Dax laughed. "Back in our quarters?" When Garak nodded, she giggled. "This I have to see!" Turning to leave, she called back to the tailor, "Don't worry about anything. Just see to it that Julian gets some rest. Worf and I will take care of Rochosh for the rest of the day." She was gone before Garak had the chance to thank her.

  Dax hurried down the corridors, back to hers and Worf's quarters. She was trying to think of a way to enter the quarters without being seen or heard by Worf and Rochosh.

  "I have been trying to figure this out for years," she said aloud. "Just what makes you so special, Worf? Why does Rochosh enjoy being with you so much?"

  She stopped at the entrance to her quarters. Staring at the door, she leaned forward trying to listen to the sounds coming from within. "Shoot, I forgot, we put in the sound proofing last month."

  A smile began to creep across her face, and a laugh escaped her throat. "Dax to O'Brien."

  "O'Brien here," came the answer.

  "Chief, would you do me a tiny little favor?" Jadzia laid on her charm, knowing full well the Chief of Operations would not refuse her.

  "What is it, Commander?" Miles asked, eager to help.

  "Would you beam me into my quarters, specifically, the bedroom?"

  Silence. Then O'Brien spoke cautiously. "Uh, Commander, is this something that Commander Worf will find out about? I mean, I'd be glad to help you, but I don't want the Commander to know I helped you."

  "Understood, Chief. Now go ahead please." Jadzia felt the familiar tingling sensation that came with transport. She rematerialized inside her own bedroom.

  'What is that noise?' she thought to herself as she collected her bearings and headed towards the open door. As she got closer to the door, Jadzia realized that Worf was playing his Klingon operas and singing! Peeking out through the door, she spied Worf sitting in his favorite chair, eyes closed, and singing loudly. Rochosh was playing on the floor near Worf's feet.

  The little boy looked up at Worf and smiled broadly, then giggled. Reaching up with a small hand, the child grabbed hold of the Klingon's leg and pulled himself up. He kept climbing until he was firmly seated in the Commander's lap. Tiny fingers went out to cover Worf's mouth.

  "Uncle Worf make funny sounds," the little boy spoke loudly over Worf's singing and the music playing. Lifting his small hand on and off the Klingon's mouth, Rochosh was delighted to find that he could make the sounds louder and softer. His boyish giggles mixed with the music and singing.

  Dax had to place a hand over her own mouth to keep from laughing aloud.

  With a resounding sigh, Worf's much larger hand covered the tiny hand and brought it away from his mouth. "You must learn to listen, Rochosh. How can I teach you Klingon culture if you do not listen," Worf's voice was firm, yet gentle.

  "Rochosh listen. You sound funny. Does it hurt when you sing? Daddy sings to Rochosh, it no sound funny." The little one's eyes looked up into the Klingon's face.

  Worf could see the seriousness in the boy's eyes. He shook his head, with wonder. "Your. . .'Daddy' is not Klingon."

  Rochosh stared into Worf's eyes once again. His lip pushed out in thought. "Daddy not Klingon, Daddy a doctor. Rochosh understand now. You go see Daddy. He make you feel better. You no hurt when you sing."

  Jadzia leaned back against the bedroom wall, she was now biting her own hand to keep her laughter from echoing through the room.

  Before Worf had a chance to try to correct things with the boy, Rochosh had tired of the conversation. Bouncing up and down on the big man's lap, Rochosh began to demand a ride.

  "Uncle Worf give me ride?" he questioned so innocently with the previous conversation already forgotten. "Rochosh like your rides." The huge hazel eyes opened wide with a questioning look.

  The Klingon felt his heart melting. This half Cardassian, half Terran child had been the only one, other than Jadzia, to see through his rough exterior. This child trusted him, not because he feared him, but because for some strange reason and in his own way, Rochosh loved him. Worf knew that he could never say no to this child, but he would 'never', 'ever' let anyone else know it.

  Rising from the chair with the boy in his arms, Worf swung the child up into the air. The boy's giggles filled the room.

  "Higher," Rochosh demanded.

  Making sure he had a good solid hold on the child, Worf swung him around as high as he dared go. Then in one swift movement, the boy's legs were slung over the Klingon's shoulders, as Worf stretched to allow Rochosh to touch the ceiling. Then dropping to his hands and knees, Worf provided the ride Rochosh had wished for.

  From her vantage point in the bedroom, Jadzia had witnessed the entire uncharacteristic display of emotion and genuine caring that her husband had displayed for little Rochosh.

  As the pair made their way around the far side of the room, Jadzia decided to sneak out of the bedroom and head towards the entrance to the quarters. She had almost made it, when she heard the squeals of delight.

  "Auntie Jadzia, Auntie Jadzia!" Rochosh had slipped off of Worf's back and ran to meet Dax, arms held high for her to lift him.

  As she cuddled her godson, Jadzia looked over at Worf, who was now standing in obvious embarrassment. Crossing the room to come stand by her husband, Dax stooped to pick up the discarded teddy bear that lay on the floor. Setting Rochosh down and handing him his bear, she then leaned over to place a kiss on the Klingon's lips.

  "No wonder he named his bear after you! Face it, Worf, he knows and 'I' know that you're just a big soft teddy bear at heart!" She kissed him once again.

  Worf grunted but said nothing to dispute his wife's claim. She knew him too well. *****

  Several weeks later, Captain Sisko faced his officers, there was quite a lot of business to discuss at the staff meeting. They had all taken their customary seats, except for Dax. Curiously, she had positioned herself next to Julian instead of her usual seat by Worf. Sisko frowned slightly. Dax had become overly protective of the doctor. She had always seemed to have a sisterly concern for Julian, but lately it seemed to have gone overboard.

  Worf was sitting at the other end of the long table, staring at his wife. Kira and Odo were sitting together discussing something. O'Brien was busy adding some figures to his data padd.

  Since this was to be a long meeting, the captain had made arrangements with Quark to have some food and drink provided. Quark was busy placing various dishes in the center of the table, so that all could have some whenever they desired and wouldn't have to leave the table. When he finished, Quark left the room.

  Sisko cleared his throat. "May I suggest that you each take a plate and fill up with some refreshments, then we can get started with business. I'm sorry that this will be a long meeting, but we have several items to go over."

  Dax got up and took two plates, filling each with samples of the various cuisine. When she reached the place where Worf was sitting, the Klingon eagerly reached out for one of the plates. Jadzia merely giggled and placed a kiss on his brow before handing him an empty plate. She then took both full plates back to her seat, handing one to Julian. Worf said nothing, but glared menacingly towards the doctor.

  Julian blushed and looked sheepishly at the Klingon. He shrugged his shoulders and accepted the plate from Dax. As he took the plate, Julian smelled the aromas of the food. His stomach gave a twist and he began to feel the all too common nausea. Quickly placing the plate on the table, he pushed it off to the side and tried to regulate his breathing to keep the nausea from getting worse.

  When all were ready, Sisko began the meeting. They discussed station system failures, visiting delegations, security measures, Odo's report on Quark's latest venture, and had just reached the midpoint of the meeting. Pausing, Sisko suggested a brief recess.

  Worf was immediately up and by his wife's side. "Jadzia, we have to talk," he requested while giving Julian a wilting glare.

  Julian watched as the husband and wife retreated to a corner of the room. Their words could not be heard but the intonations were very distinct, Worf's accusatory and Dax's defensive.

  The Trill finally threw up her arms and responded a little louder, "Later, Worf. Just trust me, all right." She stalked off, returning to her seat at the table. Jadzia spent a few minutes regaining her composure before relaxing once again.

  Dax then casually leaned over and spoke to Julian. "You'd better eat something. You have to keep your strength up you know." She had patted his stomach while she spoke.

  "Jadzia, please," Julian said quietly as he looked around the room to make sure no one saw. He breathe a sigh of relief as he observed everyone busy with other matters. He was especially relieved to see that Worf hadn't noticed as he was discussing something with Captain Sisko.

  "I'm serious, Julian." Dax grabbed the still full plate and placed it in front of the young man. "Now eat," she commanded.

  Not wanting to make a scene, Julian tasted some of the food. He found that he was hungry and took several more bites. Just as he swallowed the last bite, he felt the churning in his stomach once again.

  Dax noticed the change in Julian's color immediately. From experience, she knew what was going to happen next. Standing, she helped the doctor to his feet and steered him in the direction of the bathroom. Getting him into the little room, she then closed the door and turned back to face the others.

  "What happened?" Sisko asked with concern.

  Kira and Odo had stepped forward, while Miles began to head towards the bathroom.

  Dax held out a hand to stop everyone in their tracks. "Julian's fine, something he ate just didn't agree with him.

  From the other room they could all hear the unmistakable sounds of a very sick man.

  "Maybe we should call one of the nurses or one of Julian's assistants?" Kira suggested.

  "I said, he's fine. Just give him some time, he'll be all right," Dax responded.

  Sisko brushed past Dax, and she reached out to stop him. "Old Man, I 'am' going to check on him. The rest of you just have a seat. We still have quite a lot to discuss."

  Sisko knocked softly on the door, and then entered.

  A short while later, the two men emerged with the captain helping an unsteady Julian back to his seat. Dax offered the doctor a cool drink. Sipping on his drink, the color slowly returned to Julian's face.

  "I'm fine, really," he stated simply to all present. Julian smiled weakly at Sisko.

  "Very well, let's pick up where we left off. Chief, what about those repairs on the lower docking area?" Sisko resumed the meeting.

  Julian sat quietly, fully aware that everyone's attention was divided between the meeting and himself. He felt Dax's reassuring pat on his arm. He shut his eyes, wondering just how much longer was he going to be able to keep this secret from everyone. *****

  Stretching his back to relieve his tired and aching muscles, Julian moved slowly back towards his office. The morning had been unusually busy. He had been on his feet continuously and was now beginning to feel the strain.

  'Well, at least I'm not feeling nauseous today,' he commented to himself. He sat at his console and leaned back in his chair. He couldn't believe how tired he was, he had been taking all the vitamin supplements Dr. Slovik had prescribed and he tried to rest as much as possible at night. Unfortunately, the station was getting more and more crowded, and more people meant more medical problems. He sighed, he would just have to make it until Dr. Slovik came back in less than a month.

  "Doctor?" Julian looked up at the sound of his head nurse's voice.

  "What is it, Jabara?" he asked in a weary voice.

  Nurse Jabara came forward and stood before her boss. Her eyes took in the tired form and she responded with concern. "Doctor, everything is under control here. Why don't you go home and get some rest? You haven't been looking too well lately. I'd hate to have you for a patient."

  The young man smiled. "I just need to sit for a while, then I'll be all right. Thank you for your concern," Julian answered.

  Jabara stared at him for a while before responding. "You know, I've been a nurse for many, many years. I've seen a lot more and dealt with a lot more than you think. Before I started working on DS9 I was the best midwife Bajor had." She paused to judge the doctor's reaction to her statement.

  Julian sat with eyes lowered, lips pressed together tightly. Nodding her head, Nurse Jabara continued, "You, young man, are the most brilliant doctor I have ever known. I don't know just how you did it, but I want you to know that I'm here for you."

  Julian looked up at the Bajoran. "I don't know what you're talking about," he stated with an insecure voice.

  Shaking her head, the nurse sighed. "All right, Doctor, have it your way. Your 'secret' is safe with me. Oh, by the way, here's a list of some herbs I've always found useful in reducing nausea and fatigue during a pregnancy." She handed the padd over to Julian, then gently gave him a hug before turning to leave.

  As he stared at the doorway, Julian began to tremble. Both Dax and Jabara had figured it out, and he wasn't even showing yet. Biting his lower lip he looked down at the list Jabara had given him. "Well, maybe some of these will help," he said aloud.

  So engrossed was he in his research of the herbs, Julian did not notice someone coming up behind him.

  "Hmmm, and you call yourself a doctor," Jadzia commented.

  Julian looked up from his console at the Trill. "I'm sorry, Jadzia. I didn't hear you come in. What were you saying?"

  "Jabara tells me that you've been very busy all morning and that afterwards you have stayed in here. Julian it is well past lunch time, and you still haven't eaten." She held up her hand for silence as the young man began to protest. "You are a doctor, and you should know the importance of good nutrition during a pregnancy."

  "I-I forgot about the time," he answered with a lowered voice.

  "Well, just be thankful that it was me who stopped by and not Garak. Although, I should call him and let him know about your foolishness," the young woman scolded.

  "No, Jadzia, please don't," Julian urgently pleaded with her. "Elim would make me go home and start fussing over me. He has too much work to do to take time for that. Please don't, Jadzia."

  Dax considered her pregnant friend. "All right, I won't call Garak-- yet. You're right, he has a lot of work to get done. However, 'I' have plenty of time. So, I think that 'I' will take you home and fuss over you. Come on, let's go," she commanded.

  Julian's stared up at her. "But I have work to do," he stammered. "I'm on duty, I just can't leave." He was trying to think of all the reasons possible to sway the other officer. "How about, if I go get some lunch?"

  The Trill shook her head, "Sorry, Julian, but it's gone beyond that. If you won't take care of yourself, then we'll just have to take turns doing it for you."

  Turning slightly away from the doctor, Jadzia called out "Jabara, will you come in here, please?"

  Jabara appeared at the doorway.

  "Is Doctor Garak-Bashir needed in the Infirmary at this time?" Dax asked sweetly.

  Jabara smiled. "Why no, Commander, everything is under control. We do have another doctor on call," she answered, with arms folded across her chest and staring at Julian as if he were a naughty child.

  Jadzia responded with a smile "Why, thank you."

  Turning back to the young man she ordered, "Doctor, you 'will' come with me. Now."

  With a loud sigh, Julian closed down his console and followed his superior officer back to his quarters.

  "All right, I will get something to eat and then rest. Thank you, Jadzia. You can go now," Julian suggested hopefully.

  Jadzia tsked and shook her head. "I know you, Julian Garak- Bashir. The minute I leave, you'll be at that console working on something, or you'll just wait a while and then head back to the Infirmary."

  Julian looked at her with innocent wide eyes. "Dax, really now, there's no need for such concern."

  Again the Trill shook her head. "You have your choice, Julian. Me or Garak?"

  The doctor closed his eyes. He knew that Elim would force him into bed and make him stay there. However, Dax wouldn't do that. He sighed again. "You," he responded as he sat down on the sofa.

  Dax smiled pleasantly, as she walked over to the young man and grabbed him by his arm pulling him upward. "Fine, now off to bed while I make you something to eat." She pushed him towards the bedroom.

  Julian balked. "I don't need to be in bed, Jadzia. I can rest right there on the sofa."

  "You'll just want to sit up and talk. You need to rest properly, Julian. Now get in there and get into bed." She stood hands on hips.

  Julian didn't move. He could be stubborn also.

  Jadzia took a step forward and came closer to the doctor. Julian swallowed, but stood his ground. "Do I need to call Worf to come put you into bed? You know, if I have to, I'll do it."

  "All right, I'm going," Julian conceded and went into the bedroom.

  "By the way, all clothes off," Jadzia added. When Julian turned to stare at her, she added, "Or do you want me to remove them?"

  "No, I'll do it," Julian whispered. He couldn't figure out who was worse Elim or Jadzia, either way he couldn't win.

  Julian was in bed with the covers pulled up when Dax entered with his lunch. Helping him to sit up, she placed the tray on his lap. She then removed his clothing from the bed where he had placed them.

  "You won't be needing them for the rest of the day," she answered the question in his eyes. She then took them into the other room, leaving Julian to eat his lunch.

  Once in the other room, Dax went over to the console. "Computer, request communication with Mr. Bashir-Garak."

  The Cardassian's face appeared on the screen. "Well, did it work?" he asked.

  Dax smiled. "Oh, yes. He's in bed and eating. I'll make sure that he gets some rest afterwards also."

  "He'll just get up as soon as you leave," Garak informed her.

  "Well, I have no intention of leaving until you get here," Dax responded. "He won't want to get up while I'm here either," she added with a devilish smile, holding up the doctor's clothes.

  Garak laughed. "Of course, it is his own fault, you know. He has to start taking better care of himself. I shall be there in another hour. Thank you, Commander."

  "No problem," Dax replied, ending the communication. She got up and went back into the bedroom, just in time to catch Julian trying to get out of bed. With bare legs dangling over the side of the bed, Julian quickly pulled the quilt over to cover himself as a blush descended over his body.

  "Ah, ah, what did I say?" Jadzia admonished him. "Back into bed and finish eating." She pulled up a chair alongside of the bed and took out the novel she had been reading. Settling herself, she observed Julian out of the corner of her eyes. He stared at her with a look of total frustration, but was back in the bed, covers pulled up high, and eating his lunch. *****