"Okay everyone, the drill is over. I'm proud to say that you all passed with flying colors," Captain Sisko addressed his crew in Ops. They had just finished a mock Cardassian/Dominion attack.

  Kira relaxed at her station while the Starfleet crew let out their victory whoops. She hadn't been sleeping well since that dream started invading her nights. She was brought out of her reverie by the sound of Dax's voice. "What? Oh, I'm sorry, Dax, what were you saying?"

  "I was asking if you had thought of an anniversary gift for Julian and Garak yet? The party is next week, remember?" Dax looked at her friend with concern. "Nerys, are you all right? Is there something wrong?"

  "I'm fine, Jadzia, just not getting enough sleep I guess," Kira responded with a smile. "Well, I was thinking about getting them some Bajoran crystal wine goblets. You know how much they love to have a glass of wine with their meals."

  Dax smiled in agreement with her friend, and held her concern inside. She knew that Kira would tell her what was wrong eventually, it was just a matter of time.

  The turbolift doors opened and Julian stepped out. He smiled a greeting at them as both women turned back to their stations. The young man walked over to Chief O'Brien. "You wanted to see me, Miles?" he asked brightly.

  "Well not right away, Julian," O'Brien stated flatly. "I was hoping you'd want to join me this afternoon for one of our holosuite adventures."

  Julian opened his mouth to speak, just as Worf brushed passed him. "Oh, I'm sorry Miles, but Elim and I have plans, perhaps another. . ." he didn't get a chance to finish as the doctor started sneezing.

  After several sneezes, even Worf came over to see what was wrong. Standing behind the doctor, Worf reached over to hold him by his shoulders. Julian was gasping between sneezes, when suddenly he began to scratch his arms.

  "Julian, what's happening?" Miles couldn't keep his worry out of his voice. "It looks like he's having an allergic reaction to something. Major, get the medkit from the corner, maybe there's an antihistamine we could give him."

  "No!" Dax interjected as Kira moved towards the medkit. She was unsure of what effect the medication would have on Julian's unborn child. "I'm sure it will pass. We don't know if Julian is allergic to anything and giving him medication may make it worse." She moved closer to Julian gently nudging her husband aside.

  Worf moved off, back to his station, relieved that his wife had taken over. As the Klingon moved away, Julian's sneezing abated and the incessant itching stopped.

  "Take a deep breath, Julian," Jadzia was gently rubbing the young man's back. "That's it, now relax." From her peripheral vision, Dax noticed her Klingon spouse's reaction. Worf's back had stiffened, his eyes narrowing slightly.

  Sniffling, Julian looked at her with red-rimmed eyes. "I don't know what came over me, Jadzia. I was just fine a moment ago."

  "Jadzia," Worf was back near O'Brien's station, his eyes still narrowed as he stared at his wife and the doctor. "I want. . ."

  Julian started sneezing once again, interrupting whatever the Klingon was going to ask.

  Kira looked at Julian then at Worf. "Commander, would you step back over here for just a minute," she asked of Worf.

  As the Klingon moved away, Julian stopped sneezing. Dax looked over at Kira, both women started to laugh.

  "What's so funny," O'Brien asked.

  "Come here, Worf," Dax requested. As Worf moved nearer, the doctor began sneezing.

  O'Brien caught on and began laughing along with the women.

  "I don't see what's so funny," Julian managed between sneezes.

  Worf had enough of these silly games and moved away to get back to work, he would talk with Jadzia later. As he walked away, once again the doctor stopped sneezing. Both men stared at each other.

  "What's going on out here?" the captain's deep voice commanded.

  Dax was the first to regain her senses. "Well, Benjamin, it looks like Julian is allergic to Worf!"

  Sisko watched helplessly as his usually steadfast crew burst out into renewed laughter. He shook his head slowly. Where Julian was concerned nothing would surprise him. The young man had certainly been behaving rather strangely for several months now. This was just another one of the doctor's latest quirks. He cleared his throat, gaining his staff's attention.

  "Doctor, may I suggest that you return to the Infirmary to check yourself out. Commander Worf, may I also suggest that you change whatever cologne you're using to keep the doctor from sneezing. The rest of you get back to work."

  They all returned to their respective stations, as Julian left to return to his Infirmary.

  Worf glanced over at his wife who was still smiling. "I'm not wearing any cologne," he mumbled to no one in particular. *****

  A week later, Julian rushed into the restaurant out of breath and looking flushed.

  "Elim, I'm so sorry to be late, we had an emergency. One of the chief's technicians fell from one of the Promenade balconies. He was trying to . . ." he paused as he noticed the look in his husband's eyes.

  "You are doing it again, Jahkim," the tailor spoke calmly, taking a sip of his tea.

  "What?" came the doctor's response.

  "Trying to take care of everything yourself. There is a Bajoran doctor visiting the station. You should take advantage of him and get some rest." Garak stole a glance around the room before continuing in a whispered tone. "Jahkim, you of all people should understand the need for caution in your condition."

  As Elim's eyes rested on Julian's abdomen, the doctor's hands absently rubbed the same spot.

  "You are right, of course, I will start to ease my load in the Infirmary." Julian smiled fondly at his husband's concern. He couldn't fault Elim for being so protective, for he had gone through similar feelings almost three years ago.

  "Since we're going to Dax's 'surprise' party for us later, I would really prefer a light lunch," Julian commented.

  "I agree," Garak responded. "She does tend to go overboard with her parties, doesn't she?"

  They placed their orders and drank their tea while waiting for the food to arrive.

  "Thank you," Julian said at last. At Garak's questioning look, he continued, "For asking me to lunch, just the two of us. It's been a long time since we've had lunch out like this."

  Taking the doctor's hand into his, Garak gently turned the ring on the long elegant finger. Then he brushed his fingers against the betrothal bracelet his Jahkim still wore after all these years. "It was the least I could offer on our Sixth Wedding Anniversary," he began. "I promise to offer you a lot more. . . later, after the party." His fingers were caressing the smooth skin of his beloved's hands.

  When the food arrived, both men sat back, content just to be in the others company. No words were needed to express their feelings for each other. Any stranger who happened to observe them at this moment would be able to tell without a doubt how much love there was between the Cardassian and the younger Terran.

  "Well, now, just what do we have here?" The voice was loud and slurred.

  Julian looked up to see a Bajoran approaching their table. From the way the man walked, it was quite obvious he was intoxicated.

  "Isn't this sweet? Just what kind of 'Bajoran' station is this? Look at how debauched this station is, where a Cardassian can flagrantly seduce a young man into an unnatural union." The drunken man's voice was getting louder and louder as his tirade continued.

  Garak's eyes narrowed as he watched the man approach. His outward appearance was calm as he continued to drink his tea. A glimpse at his husband showed Julian to be in the same position. Yet, Garak could notice the increased breathing of his mate.

  "What? No comment from the blasphemous couple. Where's that half-breed of yours?" the intruder smirked.

  Julian raised his head and glared angrily at the man. He opened his mouth to respond, when Garak's hand reached out to still him.

  "No, Doctor, do not give him the satisfaction. One of Odo's people will be here soon," Elim warned his spouse.

  Noticing the response from the doctor, the drunk quickly moved up behind him. Leaning in close, he wrapped his arms around Julian's arms, pinning them to his side. The Bajoran's hands came to rest on the younger man's stomach.

  Julian froze. He did not want to incite the man, for worry of what might happen to the baby and for worry of what Garak might do in response.

  Garak held his place, only to wait to see what Julian would do. He knew that the younger man was quite capable of taking care of himself. He prepared himself to act quickly should Julian need him.

  The doctor could feel the hot breath of the drunk on his neck and smell the stench of stale alcohol on that breath. Placing his mouth near Julian's ear, the Bajoran half-giggled, "If it's a man you want, I could give you a treat you'd never forget." His hands tightened around Julian, and the doctor let out a small gasp of pain.

  Garak rose from his seat, presenting his full height and solid body to the Bajoran. With eyes of blue steel boring into the Bajoran's, the Cardassian ordered, "Remove your hands from my spouse, or I 'will' remove them for you." As he moved slowly towards the Bajoran, Garak presented an impressive sight, his hands flexing at his sides, eyes narrowed, neck ridges flared.

  Faced with a Cardassian ready to fight, the drunk released Julian. Turning to speak directly to Garak, the Bajoran croaked, "You haven't heard the last of me yet."

  "Oh, I believe that we have," Garak responded with a smile.

  The man turned and ran. No sooner had he disappeared in the crowd on the Promenade, than security arrived. Julian reported the incident. When the doctor had finished, he and Garak left the restaurant, both of them having lost their appetite for the afternoon. *****

  Later that evening, Elim and Julian were walking down the corridor, their hands linked, currently on their way to Quarks.

  "Love, are you certain of Jadzia's message?" Julian asked his spouse for the second time in a matter of minutes.

  "Yes, Jahkim, I'm certain. Her message specifically stated to come to holosuite three at 19:00," the Cardassian replied.

  "But don't you think that it's rather odd that Jadzia would want to throw our surprise anniversary party there instead of her quarters?" the doctor questioned as they entered the noisy establishment of the Ferengi's bar.

  "Nothing that Commander Dax does any longer comes as a surprise to me," Garak replied with a smile, his arm hooking around the younger man's waist as they climbed the stairs to the holosuites.

  As they approached the door, Garak noticed that a program was already running. Punching the override command, the door swished open to allow them to enter.

  The first thing Julian noticed was that they were immersed in total darkness, a far off glow being their only beacon.

  "I don't know about this," the younger man said as he hesitantly continued forwards. He had no idea what to expect of the Trill these days.

  Garak gave his spouse a warm smile as his arm tightened it's hold. "Come now, Julian, where is that sense of adventure of yours?"

  "I married you, didn't I? Doesn't that count for anything?" the doctor quipped back with a smirk.

  "All that proves is that you occasionally have a lapse in judgement," the Cardassian joked back, pressing a kiss to the doctor's cheek.

  As they drew closer to the glimmering lights, they noticed that they were coming upon a table decorated with an elaborately woven lace cloth draped over it. Candles were set upon the cloth with flickering orange flames that bathed the couple in soft light. Julian also noticed that underneath the table were colorfully wrapped packages stacked in a pile.

  "All right Jadzia, Miles. . .you all can come out now," the doctor called out, expecting a big group to jump out of the shadows at any moment.

  A hand on his shoulder startled Julian so much that he let out a loud yelp. Turning around, both Garak and Julian's eyes landed on a young blond man wearing a impeccably pressed white shirt and black pants.

  "Oh, sir, I am terribly sorry for startling you," the young man said in a very apologetic voice. "My name is Stephen and I am to be your server tonight. Mrs. Jadzia sends her apologies for not being able to join you tonight, but she left this for you as an explanation," the blond waiter added as he held a data padd out for Julian.

  The waiter then proceeded to pull out a chair for Julian and then came around to do the same for Garak. "Can I offer to get you something to drink?" the waiter asked after both were seated comfortably.

  "Yes, I would like a glass of Kanaar," Garak requested after a pause.

  "Sir?" Stephen asked, turning his attention to the doctor.

  "Hmm, I believe I'll have a glass of Chateau Cleon, synthahol, of course," Julian ordered, his hand falling absently to his stomach. The waiter's blond head nodded and he took off to get the drinks while Julian's attention came back to the data padd he held.

  "Well, what does it say, Love?" Garak questioned, his curiosity piqued.

  Julian gave him a broad smile. "Well, it looks like she did it to us again. The note reads, 'Dear Julian and Elim, I figured that for tonight, you would appreciate a special party just for two. Don't worry about Rochosh, I'm watching him at your place tonight. Enjoy the holosuite boys. Happy Anniversary. Love, Jadzia,'" the doctor recited.

  "That was indeed very nice of her," Garak commented. The Trill never seemed to run out of tricks.

  "What do you want to bet Worf just didn't want a bunch of people running around their quarters?" Julian asked with a grin.

  The waiter chose that time to appear with their drinks in hand. Setting them on the table in front of the couple, the waiter asked, "Would you like me to take your orders now?" When both men nodded in the affirmative, Stephen then went on to tell them what was on the menu. It didn't come as much of a surprise when he listed all of their favorite dishes. Taking their orders, he then left the couple to be alone.

  "This was a very sweet idea of hers, wasn't it?" Julian commented again on the Trill's creativity.

  "Indeed it was," Garak commented. "It also gives me the chance to make it up to you for the nasty business we dealt with at lunch."

  Julian reached across the table and took hold of the tailor's hand. "Try not to think about that, Love. He didn't cause any harm, and I don't plan on giving a narrow-minded, vulgar drunk the satisfaction of ruining my mood tonight." Julian's fingers squeezed Garak's before releasing them again.

  "You're right of course, Jahkim, tonight is for celebrating," the tailor replied with a ready smile, pushing the darker thoughts from his mind.

  Julian raised his glass of amber colored wine up by the delicate stem and held it in front of him and Garak did the same with his glass of Kanaar. "To us, and the lifetime of love still ahead for us," the doctor toasted and Garak smiled tenderly at the sentiment and clinked his glass to his spouse's.

  "To us, eim yesayo torale," Garak spoke in his native tongue, which translated to 'my loving husband', before taking sip of the Cardassian liquor.

  The blond waiter chose that time to come out carrying a try full of various dishes. In front of Julian, he set down a plate filled with oysters in the half shell with asparagus tips sautéed in butter on the side. For Elim, a plate full of pasta made from thin, flat Cardassian noodles covered with a creamy white sauce and a basket of steaming hot breadsticks were set before him. After making sure both men had everything they needed, the blond waiter took his leave and left the couple to share their meal together alone.

  "Mmm, this smells absolutely delicious," Julian commented as he took in the scent of the foods on the table.

  "That it does, however, I still don't know how you can stand to eat that Earth seafood of yours," Garak replied. Julian had tried to get the tailor to sample various seafoods, everything from cod to lobster, but Garak would have nothing to do with it.

  "I wouldn't knock it till you try it, Love. After all, this particular Earth food has been rumored to have certain. . .'medicinal'. . .properties to it," Julian said slowly as he picked up one of the shells, tilted his head back and let the oyster slide into his mouth.

  "Medicinal properties, hmm, such as?" the tailor questioned with a quirked eye ridge as he watched his spouse.

  "Wouldn't you like to know," Julian replied with a slow easy grin forming on his mouth. Before speaking again, he picked another one up and slowly poured it into his mouth and swallowed. "Well, the ancients said that it helped to. . .enhance stamina."

  "Oh really?" the Cardassian said slowly with undisguised interest. "And is there any reason in particular that you feel you should enhance what is already an enhanced stamina?"

  Julian merely flashed him a enigmatic smile and shrugged a shoulder. "A reason beyond simply having a craving for oysters? Possibly. Are you sure you wouldn't like one?" he offered as another one disappeared into his mouth. Garak watched as the muscles of Julian's slim throat rippled with the movement.

  "Well, I suppose it couldn't possibly hurt anything," the tailor conceded. Picking up one of the shells off of Julian's plate, Garak brought it up to his lips and tilting his head back quickly, swallowed the oyster in one movement.

  "Well?" the doctor asked.

  "Not a bad taste actually, though I may prefer my pasta," Garak replied, taking a bite off of his plate for the first time. Julian watched as Garak closed his eyes, savoring the rich sauce.

  "Are you going to share with me?" Julian asked with a smile at the obvious look of delight on the Cardassian's face as he savored another bite of the pasta.

  As a response, Garak wound some of the pasta dripping with the white sauce onto the tines of his fork and brought it forward just high enough that Julian had to raise his head to capture one of the flat noodles between his lips. Elim then watched the doctor close his eyes as he sucked in the noodle before wrapping his lips around the proffered fork.

  "Mmm, that is very tasty," Julian replied as his tongue snaked out and slowly licked the white sauce still left on his lips.

  "Yes, it is," the Cardassian replied, not necessarily referring to his food. "Although you haven't tried your asparagus though," he reminded the younger man.

  Julian picked up one of the asparagus tips with his fingers. "Why don't you try one first?"

  The doctor brought his fingers in front of his husband's mouth. Garak leaned in and took the vegetable tip between his teeth and bit down into the tender fibers that parted in his mouth, warm butter dripped onto his tongue. Julian started to pulled his fingers back when Garak caught his hand with his own and held the fingers still while his tongue gently licked and sucked clean the butter from the doctor's slender fingers. Julian smiled as his eyes became fixed upon the tailor's teasing mouth which now glistened with the buttery residue. The soft lips looked to Julian to be begging to be kissed, so he bent over across the table and did just that.

  They continued feeding each other through the main course and into dessert where they shared a platter of full of fresh fruit slices that were spread around two small silver bowls containing whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Sticky fingers and lips were no problem, as each of the men took turns tenderly and lovingly taking care of the problem with their willing tongues.

  After the meal was finished Stephen returned to take away the platters and trays. Julian sat across the table from his mate, chin resting on his hand, and a happy smile resting on his lips as he looked at Garak. "This has been wonderful, but we probably should go and rescue Jadzia from babysitting duty, don't you think?" he asked with a slightly regretful sigh.

  Garak looked into his mate's face. The flickering glow of the candlelight played on the doctor's features, softening them even more, making him look even younger than he typically did. His warm hazel eyes shown brightly with happiness and contentment. It seemed that moments like this--being alone and having his precious mate all to himself--were all too rare and he wasn't ready to relinquish it, not just yet.

  "Why don't we leave Rochosh with her for a while longer? I'm sure she won't mind in the least," the tailor replied in a quiet voice.

  Julian couldn't help but notice the warm, affectionate look in his spouse's eyes. "What did you have in mind?" he asked, in the same soft voice.

  "Computer, run music program Delta Gamma Two, verification 9218-Black," the Cardassian called out in a louder voice and within an instant the room was filled with a beautiful and slow melody. Standing up, Garak took the few steps needed to stand by the doctor and extended his hand. Julian took it readily as he was led a few feet away from the table.

  The younger man drifted easily into the Cardassian's secure embrace. Garak's arms closed around the slender waist as Julian's fingers enlaced themselves behind his broad neck. Their bodies swayed back and forth gently as their feet moved in time to the soft strains. Julian sighed deeply as he closed his eyes, his chin coming to rest on the tailor's shoulder as Garak's arms tightened around him, pressing their bodies even more tightly together.

  The doctor loved the feeling of being in Garak's arms, taking in the spicy sent of the cologne he was wearing. He never tired of just touching Elim, feeling the solid gray skin beneath his fingers. As the music played in Julian's ears, he marveled at the fact that this man had indeed been a part of his life for the last six years. It felt strange to think that it seemed like they just married yesterday, and yet it also seemed like the tailor has been a part of his life as far back as he could remember. Julian searched for the one word that would explain just how the tailor made him feel, when it came to him. . .'complete'. He felt a sense of wholeness that he hadn't felt before he had recognized his love for the Cardassian. Julian pulled back slightly to look into the depths of the tailor's azure eyes and felt like he could get lost in their loving glow that seemed to stretch on forever like the warm summer sky back on Earth.

  Garak smiled tenderly, easily reading the affectionate feelings reflected in the doctor's eyes. One hand came up higher on Julian's back, pressing him firmly against Garak's chest, while the tailor's other hand traveled over the curves of the doctor's lower back and hips. Julian leaned in and brushed his lips against the ridge leading up to Garak's hidden ear, while his thumbs played with the hollows of Garak's neck ridge. Their feet still moved in time to the music, as Garak's hand stole up to gently caress the smooth plane of Julian's jaw, his thumb outlining the doctor's lips before he leaned in for a taste. Julian nibbled at the moist mouth, tracing it with the barest tip of his tongue. After several more breezy kisses, Garak's lips traveled back to the secret hidden spot behind Julian's ear, where he placed a kiss before taking the bottom of the young man's earlobe lightly between his teeth and gave it a teasing tug before letting it go. Both of Julian's hands came up to take the Cardassian's face in his fingers as he leaned in to take the tailor's mouth in a firm, long kiss. The older man's lips parted and allowed Julian entrance, their tongues dancing and dueling in sync with the melody. Only the need for air caused them to part.

  "Elim," Julian murmured in a breathless sigh as he nuzzled the Cardassian's neck, his fingers weaving through the satiny hair at the tailor's nape. Garak closed his eyes at the soft lilt of Julian's warm voice saying his name so tenderly. It actually sounded beautiful to him when it came from Julian's lips like that. Garak brushed his lips against the doctor's temple, holding him so closely that he could feel the Human's steady heartbeat through the cloth of their outfits.

  "I want you, Jahkim," Garak whispered into Julian's ear. As their hips rubbed together in rhythm to the music still drifting through the air, Julian could feel the firmness of the tailor's need pressed against his own answering hardness. Although Julian said nothing, Garak could see the answer in the umber colored eyes that let him know that the doctor was feeling as hungry for his touch as the Cardassian was for Julian's.

  Julian took in their surroundings, and seeing only the table, led the tailor back to it. Garak took hold of Julian's slim waist and gently lifted the younger man onto the table. Julian's palms pressed against and caressed the tailor's chest through the tunic, still able to feel the heat. Garak took his mouth again in a firm kiss, one hand cradling the back of Julian's head. Garak then broke the kiss and encouraged the doctor to lie back on the flat surface of the table, where his hands then started to roam over the lean, firm, body that was already aching for his caresses. Their lips sought each other, as Garak's hands played over Julian's chest, down the still firm stomach, and over his legs, wishing he could just make the annoying cloth that separated their bodies simply disappear. Julian let out a soft moan as his own fingers worked Elim's tunic open to allow his fingers to stroke the smooth, warm, gray skin underneath. Garak's fingers trailed down to the front of Julian's pants where he could feel the hard need pressing against his open palm. Julian's moan grew more intense with the touch and his hips began moving under the strong hand.

  Somehow, through the passionate daze that began to descend over Garak, it managed to dawn on him that his pregnant mate was lying on a very hard table and he stopped his motions.

  "Elim, what's wrong, Love?" Julian asked with a shaky voice.

  "Jahkim, we can't make love here. I want to take you back to our quarters," the tailor replied, helping Julian sit up.

  "Why? I don't understand," the doctor replied, still trying to gain control over the sensations in his body.

  "Because I'm not making love to you here, when you couldn't possibly be comfortable," the tailor informed him, all the while being pulled in for more hot kisses.

  "But, Elim, I'm perfectly comfortable enough," Julian relpied in a seductive voice, not wanting to halt what had been started.

  "Trust me, Jahkim, in a couple of hours you'll appreciate the gesture," the Cardassian replied with a smile before helping the younger man up and off the table. The disappointed look in the doctor's eyes and the pouting expression on his lips were almost enough to make the tailor reconsider and relent. . .almost. Julian's comfort was more important to him than the immediate need in his body that could be filled later.

  Taking his younger mate's hand in his, the tailor led Julian out of the holosuite, out of Quark's, and back to the habitat-ring to their quarters. When they entered, they saw Jadzia on their sofa reading a data padd. "Well, hello boys, I hope you had a nice dinner," the Trill replied, standing up to greet them.   "It was wonderful, I couldn't think of a better gift," Julian answered and then he remembered something. Tuning to Garak, he said, "Gifts. . .we left all those nice presents under the table back at the holosuite!"

  Jadzia laughed. "Don't worry about it, I'll stop by and bring them to you tomorrow." Noting the smile Garak held, and the blush creeping up on Julian, she suspected that they hadn't been thinking about the gifts when they left. Sensing it would be a good idea to leave, she said, "Rochosh has been sound asleep for over an hour now, so I guess I'll leave you two to finish 'celebrating' your Anniversary."

  Walking towards the door, she stopped to give Julian a peck on the cheek. "I'm glad you liked the dinner." She also gave Garak a quick hug and left them alone, the door closing behind her with a hiss.

  With a slow smile coming to play on Julian's lips, he kissed the tailor soundly once more before taking both of the tailor's hands and leading him into their bedroom where they both removed the clothes from the other that previously stopped their exploring hands.

  After slipping in between the soft sheets on the large bed, Julian found himself pulled against his husband's broad chest. The Cardassian's lips sought and found the doctor's pliable mouth as he opened to allow the exploration of the tailor's probing tongue. Julian's own tongue dueled for entrance, savoring the faint taste of Kanaar still on Garak's tongue. Garak's hand came up to capture the back of Julian's head as he deepened the kiss even more.

  "Jahkim, you know I love you, don't you?" Garak asked in a ragged voice when the need for air finally drove them apart. His crystal blue eyes penetrated Julian's hazel eyes.

  "I'd like to think you do," Julian replied with a teasing smirk.

  "I'm serious, Julian, you know it, don't you?" Garak asked again, never breaking the contact with Julian's eyes.

  The teasing smile left the doctor's face when he realized how important this was to the tailor. "Of course I do, Elim. You've never given me any reason to doubt it."

  A faint smile curved on the tailor's lips as his hand began leisurely roaming up and down Julian's hip and thighs. "I'm glad. Sometimes I don't feel like I say it often enough, but I do love you." His hand came up to stroke Julian's soft cheek. "These last six years that we've been together have been the best years of my life. No one else has ever meant as much to me as you have. You've given me so much that I can't even begin to repay you." Garak's voice was starting to get tight in his throat. "When you told me you loved me all those years ago, you reminded me what it was like to come alive again. Before that, I was so used to never trusting, never letting anyone in. . . not wanting to get hurt again. . ." Garak's voice trailed off as he closed his eyes to blot out all the painful memories of nights spent alone and miserable before Julian had become a part of his life.

  Julian saw the emotions playing on the tailor's features and pulled him to him and held him tightly. "Elim, don't you see? You did the same thing for me. Before we got together, I kept going from relationship to relationship, setting myself up to fail because I didn't want to get so close that I could get hurt. Now, I have you and a family and I couldn't be any happier." Garak's hand came to rest on Julian's abdomen and he tenderly stroked it in circular motion. "I love you and I always will," Julian assured.

  As Garak searched the hazel depths of the doctor's eyes, he wondered if Julian realized just how precious he was to him. There wasn't anything Julian could ever ask of him, that Garak would be capable of denying. When it came to this distractingly handsome man, he was completely at a loss.

  "Happy Anniversary, eim adentra jahkim," Garak whispered into Julian's ear.

  "Happy Anniversary, tadem h'a eim tadem," Julian answered, smiling at the memory that phrase brought to mind, and leaned in to recapture the tailor's warm mouth.

  Garak let out a soft murmur into Julian's mouth and returned the kiss slowly and thoroughly. The hand that had been rubbing Julian's abdomen reached back and started running up and down the length of Julian's back and rear while the other hand tangled into the soft short mahogany curls at the back of Julian's head. Julian's arm reached up to wind around the tailor's broad neck, holding him close, the other reached around the tailor's waist to pull him on top of the doctor. Both could feel the beginning hardness building as their bodies pressed together--the slow rubbing causing a delightful ache. Garak raised up on his arms, but continued the deliberate undulations of his groin against Julian's, as he moved from the doctor's lips down his jaw to gently start kissing and nipping at his neck. Julian couldn't suppress a soft moan as the teasing mouth found the special spot just behind his ear that the tailor knew drove Julian wild. Julian's nails racked the Cardassian's back as he moved lower and lower to capture a chocolate colored nipple in his mouth. The skillful tongue teased it to a hardened peak before moving to capture the other one. Julian's fingers dug into the Cardassian's ridges at his neck, causing Garak to groan. Garak continued down Julian's chest to gently nuzzle and kiss his stomach, taking time to dip his tongue into the doctor's navel.

  "Oh yes!" Julian called out as Garak kept going lower and lower. His knee came up to gently prod Julian's legs open as he moved down further. Garak's hands went underneath Julian's legs, tenderly stroking the taut muscles of his calves, then up around to caress the inner folds of his thighs. His lips descended onto the soft flesh, to gently suck and kiss first one side and then the other. Julian's hands clutched at the bed covers as he writhed underneath the tailor, wanting desperately for the mouth to make contact with his achingly hard member. He couldn't catch the gasp that escaped his mouth as the tailor's warm lips came into contact with the head of Julian's erection. Garak's tongue slithered out to taste the warm salty fluid already moistening the tip before running his tongue over the slit, taking his time as he watched Julian fight for control. With deliberate slowness, he opened his mouth up further and took Julian's entire member into his moist, hot mouth. Scraping his teeth gently along the sensitive shaft, the tailor elicited another moan from the wiggling doctor. Julian's hips rose to the firm sucking as his hands grasped the tailor's thick ebony hair.

  Julian watched through lust filled eyes as his member disappeared and reappeared from the tailor's mouth. Not able to stop himself, Julian began little thrusting movements with his thighs as he felt himself being drawn closer and closer to the familiar edge. Not wanting to come too soon, he finally tried to pull himself away from the delightful torture.

  "What is it, Jahkim?" Garak whispered in a husky voice, trying to stop the doctor's movements.

  "Need you inside," Julian managed through gasps.

  Garak smiled at him as he reached over to the bed stand and pulled out the bottle of oil that was always kept there. Pouring the liquid into his hand, he rubbed it over his straining, heated member. Then, with some of the oil still on his fingers, he applied it in between Julian's cleft as the doctor lifted himself up to the touch. Working a digit past the muscular entrance, Garak began stretching the doctor's opening until a second and a third finger gained entrance. Julian groaned as a finger massaged his prostrate and his hips soon began movement again. Garak stilled him and removed his fingers, then leaned forward to press the tip of his firm erection against the entrance. Julian wrapped his arms around the tailor's broad neck as his legs wound around the tailor's back, both working to pull him forward until he entered Julian's body.

  Garak bent to kiss Julian's mouth, and Julian let out a contented sigh, as Garak began thrusting his hips forward.

  "MMmmmph faster! That's it, gods that feels good, Elim!" Julian urged, speaking against the tailor's lips. Wanting to please his mate, Garak readily complied as he heard Julian moan in contentment as he started to quicken and deepen his thrusts that Julian arched up to meet enthusiastically. Garak felt himself lose some of his own restraint at the doctor's cries. When Julian raised up and bit at the Cardassian's neck ridge, Garak's moaning rivaled the doctor's.

  "Jayta?" came a small frightened sounding voice that caused both men to freeze.

  Julian let out a small curse as they looked over and into wide hazel eyes that held a mixture of confusion and fear.

  "Jayta hurt Daddy?" their son asked, his teddy bear still clutched to his chest. His little bottom lip quivered and he looked like he was about ready to start crying.

  Garak carefully maneuvered to pull the sheet up around them as he pulled out of Julian's body almost simultaneously.

  "Daddy?" Rochosh choked back the tears, taking a small step forward. "Daddy. . .Why Jayta on top Daddy?" the frightened voice questioned.

  Trying to calm himself and control his breathing, Julian raised himself up on the bed. Holding out his arms he beckoned for his young son to come to him.

  The little boy came forward and climbed up to sit on his daddy's lap. Julian ignored the twinge from his now partial erection.

  "Daddy's fine, Rochosh," Julian began in his soothing voice.

  "Rochosh hear Daddy cry! Daddy moan. . ." The little boy then did a perfect imitation of Julian's cries and moans from just a short while ago.

  As Julian's body took on the reddish glow of a blush, Garak could barely restrain his laughter. Rochosh looked up sharply at his father.

  "Bad Jayta, you hurt Daddy." He then moved to position himself between his parents, throwing a protective arm around his daddy's neck. The little boy turned his head to look back at Julian. "Why Daddy turn red?"

  Julian looked down at his little boy. "I'm fine Rochosh, Jayta didn't hurt me. He was making me feel. . . good. Daddy was just making some. . . happy sounds." He looked over at Garak with a questioning look in his eyes.

  The tailor leaned over and picked up his small child, giving him a hug. "Rochosh, I could never hurt your Daddy. I love Daddy very much."

  The little eyes looking impossibly huge stared at his Jayta, then looked at his daddy. Scooting back between both men, he picked up his fallen teddy bear. Clutching the bear to his chest, he once again looked doubtfully at his parents.

  After a long silence, he asked "Daddy okay? Jayta make Daddy happy?"

  Julian smiled, "Yes, Daddy's okay, and yes, Jayta makes Daddy happy."

  Looking back at his father, Rochosh asked "Jayta love Daddy?"

  "Yes, Jayta loves Daddy," came the honest answer.

  Rochosh sat back on his heels as if considering the responses of his parents. Hugging his bear, he suddenly lift his head to stare at both his parents as his eyes shone brightly and a big smile formed on his lips. "Jayta make Daddy happy--now."

  "I believe I will do just that," Garak started, as Julian looked at him with wide eyes. "But first, you, young man, have to go back to your own bed."

  The young child looked at his older father as his lower lip pushed out to form a pout.

  Garak smiled and shook his head. "Now, I wonder where he gets that from?" he queried gazing at Julian, who merely shrugged his shoulders in response.

  "Come, Rochosh, Jayta will put you back to bed." He sat up placing his robe about himself, before reaching out to take hold of his son.

  "Daddy come too," the little voice requested. Little arms reached out to Julian.

  After tucking their son into bed and placing kisses on both the boy and his teddy bear, both fathers started back to their own room.

  "Jayta?" the little voice called out.

  "Yes, Rochosh." Garak waited for his son's response.

  "Jayta make Daddy happy," the little boy ordered.

  "I will, Rochosh, I will. Goodnight," Garak answered back.

  The Cardassian flashed a wicked smile at his husband who was moving away. "You heard him, Jahkim, who am I to disagree with such a command? Come now, and I'll tuck 'you' in." His eyes twinkled with excitement as he grabbed his young husband, easily picking him up and cradling the lithe body in his arms.

  Walking into the bedroom, Garak deposited his cargo onto the soft bed with a thud. Both men removed their robes. A predatory gaze swept over the doctor as the Cardassian climbed back into bed next to the doctor and strong arms gently pulled Julian on top the Cardassian's body.

  "Elim, what do you think you're doing?" the doctor asked with a playful smile.

  "Jahkim, I fully intend on keeping my promise to my son," Garak answered, returning the smile as he started nuzzling the doctor's neck.

  "You know he's probably not even asleep yet," Julian remarked, trying to ignore the beginning stirrings of reawakening desire.

  "He will be soon enough, Love," Garak replied as he continued his assault on the sensitive skin of the doctor's throat, marking patterns with his warm tongue.

  "I guess I really should try to be more quiet. I didn't even realize I was that loud," Julian commented and bit back a soft moan as Garak moved to lick his earlobe.

  "I adore the sound of your voice, Jahkim. There's nothing I find more erotic than hearing my name on your lips when you call out," Garak remarked as he gently kissed Julian's warm lips and his hands traveled downward to caress and squeeze Julian's bare behind.

  "I suppose I could talk to either Miles or Sisko and see if they could come up with a solution," Julian suggested. Due to Garak's caresses, involuntarily, the doctor's hips were already moving seductively over the tailor's groin.

  "Mmmhmm," was the tailor's only response as his tongue invaded Julian's willing mouth, allowing a finger to trail up and down the doctor's cleft. Julian could feel his member twitching and stirring to life as his body rubbed against the Cardassian's. He was pleased to feel his husband's body stirring in response as well. Julian's fingers came in between their bodies to gently stroke his spouse's firming member. Garak moaned in response as his hips started moving faster and his fingers started probing the doctor's body with more insistence.

  Julian brought his head down to capture the closest charcoal colored nipple in between his teeth and gently sucked on it as Garak sucked in a gasp of air. Teasing the nub of flesh into a taut peak, he turned his attention to the other nipple. Garak's hips moved restlessly under the doctor's skilled fingers as he arched up for a firmer touch, but Julian kept the hold light and moved his hand with slowness. Taking time to rub his thumb over the blunt tip that seeped moisture.

  "I want back inside of you," Garak murmured softly.

  Julian stopped kissing the tailor's chest, but didn't halt the movement of his hand. Teasing hazel eyes looked into the tailor's. "Hmmm, I don't know. . .maybe if you convince me. . . ."

  "I can promise to get you to make more 'happy noises'," the Cardassian teased in return and with care, rolled so that doctor was pinned underneath him.

  "Well in that case. . ." Julian said slowly, pretending to give it some thought, but the smile on his mouth betrayed him.

  Garak bent his head to kiss the grinning mouth with slow deliberatance, his hands roaming and exploring the svelte body under him. Seeing as how the oil was still sitting on the bedside, it took Garak only a brief moment to reapply the lubricant to both his and Julian's bodies. Locking his eyes with the doctor's, he pressed the head of his member up against the opening of Julian's body. The doctor welcomed him with legs wrapping invitingly around his waist. Wordlessly, the tailor pressed forward as Julian arched up, and together they made the penetration smoothly.

  Garak started a slow rotation of his hips as he went deeper and deeper inside the doctor with each small thrust. Julian's hands traveled over Garak's muscular arms and broad back, silently urging him forward more quickly. Garak however, wouldn't be rushed. He kept up the slow deliberate strokes inside the doctor until Julian was clutching at the bedcovers. Garak could tell by the contortion of Julian's facial features, he was desperately trying to remain silent.

  "It's all right, Jahkim, don't hold back," Garak whispered in encouragement, he slowly licked the doctor's earlobe while slowing his hips even more, but deepening the thrusts at the same time. With the delightful sensations flooding his body, Julian couldn't help but allow the loud moan that had been building to escape his lips. Garak smiled his approval before capturing Julian's mouth again and allowing his tongue to mimic the thrusting motions of his hips.

  Garak could feel the growing urgency in his spouse's movements and knew he was driving his lover, as well as himself, closer and closer to their limits. Reaching in between their bodies, Garak took Julian's pulsing erection into his hand and started gently manipulating the flesh. Soon the rhythm of his hand matched his thrusting hips as he continued to drive into the doctor. The tailor unmercifully continued driving the doctor closer and closer to release as his hand pumped with quick efficiency. Harder and deeper his hips drove himself into the doctor, whose fingers left the bedcovers to rake down the tailor's back, down to cup his taut rear, and help urge him to go even faster and more deeply. Garak felt the doctor's muscles grow taut and continued his efforts to be rewarded seconds later by the sound of Julian calling out his name as his body shook and spasmed in release, his hot and sticky seed coating their stomachs and Garak's fingers. Garak's own climax came an instant later as the feeling of Julian's body tightening around his shaft and shuddering underneath him became more than he could bear. His own warm seed flowed into and filled the doctor's body.

  When his head quit swimming and his breathing returned to normal, Garak gently pulled out of Julian's body and he slowly got up to go into the bathroom. Less than a minute later, he returned with a warm washcloth and he lovingly went to work on cleaning Julian's body with soft, sure strokes. After he was clean, Julian returned the favor then got up and tossed the soiled cloth into the bathroom before returning to bed where he was engulfed into his mate's embrace. His cheek nuzzled the tailor's chest as a warm gray hand caressed his cheek and hair. Without words spoken, they both fell into a deep sleep as their arms and legs bound them together. *****

  Amsha paced the floor of the modest house she and Richard had lived in for many years. "Richard, where are you?" she asked the empty room.

  She had been trying to reach Richard for hours. The reason for the contact having been forgotten and replaced with first worry, then anger, as the hours ticked by and still no word from her husband.

  She paused by the fireplace, gazing at the family portrait of herself with Richard, Julian, Elim, and Rochosh. Her hands trembled as she remembered the day they had it done. It was a gift from Julian and Elim, for their Fortieth Wedding Anniversary. Jules looked absolutely dashing in the outfit his husband, Elim, had designed for him. Little Rochosh had worn a matching outfit, as he was held between both fathers. Elim had smartly positioned himself to be able to hold both Jules and Rochosh in his arms. Richard and Amsha had stood behind their boys. Richard with one arm around her and the other hand placed tenderly on Julian's shoulder.

  This was her family, and now Richard was choosing to throw it all away. Amsha's eyes glistened with tears as she relived the last few weeks. Richard had become more and more withdrawn from her, refusing to answer her questions about work, snapping at her whenever she had purchased something new.

  Amsha was lost in thought as Richard came into the room.

  "Good evening, my darling," Richard started, as he pulled his wife in for a hug.

  "Richard, where have you been? I called your office earlier, and they said you didn't work there anymore. Richard what's going on? What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into now?" Amsha pulled back from her husband's embrace to look him directly in the eyes. Her hazel eyes were flashing with anger.

  Since when did you start checking up on me?" Richard shot back. "I have always provided for you. You have never had to want for anything, have you? I left the company because I had a better offer to join another partner."

  "Who?" The question came out as a sigh, Amsha was still facing her husband, making him look at her.

  "It doesn't really matter, now does it? The point is, I'm involved in a very delicate business venture and can't really discuss the details with anyone just yet." Richard walked away from his wife, turning to gaze out the window.

  "You have always shared your business with me, Richard. Why should this time be any different? Talk to me, please. Where have you been? What have you been doing all this time?" Amsha was pleading with her husband.

  "I told you, I'm not at liberty to share the details with anyone," Richard's voice began to rise.

  "Then who is this new partner, surely he can understand that you have a wife and family who also need you here at home." Amsha watched as Richard threw back his shoulders and stiffened.

  "My partner is none of your affair. Now, Amsha let's get something to eat shall we? I'm famished." He started towards the dining room.

  Amsha stood her ground. "No, Richard, not this time. I have been worrying about you all day, and now you come home and refuse to tell me what's happened. They told me that you had been gone from the office for over a week. Over a week, Richard! All this week you have been on edge. You've been coming home later and later and won't tell me where you've been. I am your wife, share with me."

  Richard paused and appeared to be considering the request. When he spoke it was with a very firm voice. "Amsha, I love you, but you have to give me some freedom. I cannot share everything with you. After my partner does an analysis of my proposed project, she will draw up a contract and. . ."

  "She. . .?" It was a whisper. Amsha turned away.

  "Yes, she. What does that have to do with anything?" Richard was losing his temper. He raised his voice even louder as he moved towards his wife.

  Amsha pulled away from Richard's grasp. "I see, so you have been spending all those late hours with your new partner. Why didn't you tell me about her?"

  Richard paused too long in his reply. Amsha continued, "Never mind, Richard. I can see the answer in your eyes."

  "This is utterly ridiculous. How on Earth did we get into this conversation, Amsha?" Richard inquired angrily.

  "Ridiculous? I'm ridiculous? I suppose being concerned about you is ridiculous? Caring for you and standing by you for all of these years is ridiculous?" Amsha was by a nature a quiet, loving person. However, when she became angry, it would come out with hurricane force.

  "I never said that you were ridiculous!" Richard countered. "I won't stay here, and be subjected to these rantings." He brushed past Amsha and went out the door.

  Amsha stared at the door for a while longer, unshed tears filling her eyes. "Fine," she said aloud, "if that's the way you want it, Richard, then that's the way it shall be." Gathering her courage, she went to the bedroom and packed some belongings. Pausing only to gaze at the family portrait, Amsha headed out the door.

  A few hours later, having walked off the anger he felt, Richard returned home. "Amsha, forgive me please. I'm ready to talk. I just don't know what gets into this stubborn head of mine." He paused, moving from room to room looking for his wife. "Amsha?" Richard called loudly.

  Rushing into the bedroom, he checked the closets and dresser bureau, there were still some things, but most of her things were missing. Amsha had gone, this time she had left him. Returning to the larger living area, Richard glanced upon the portrait. Smiling to himself, Richard went back towards the bedroom and packed some of his belongings. Stopping at the computer console to make a few arrangements, he closed up the house and left. *****

  Odo surveyed the scene before him, he had come across many murders during his tenure as the station's chief security officer, this was one of the most gruesome. There was also a more disturbing side to this untimely death, the mutilated body was that of a male, a Bajoran male. His hands had been removed and laid side by side on the unmoving chest, his arms crossed over them. His throat had been cut so that it appeared that the man had two open mouths. Yet, Odo noted with professional detachment there was a conspicuous lack of spilt blood for such wounds. The area about the man had some smeared blood trailing along the floor as if the man was dragged to his present position beside the bed, but not enough to have generated from the wounds.

  Odo's keen eyes scrutinized the crime scene. The quarters were modest, one room, with a bed and the smaller lavatory. The table in the corner had the remains of a simple meal, the dishes had been pushed off so that some remained teetering on the edge, while the others were laying smashed on the floor. The solitary chair was upended. It was from there that the victim had been hauled.

  Being careful so as not to disturb what little apparent evidence he had, Odo moved towards the table. As he walked his foot stepped upon a small item, that seemed to be pressed into the rug. Stooping, he spotted the piece, and called the medical technician over, asking him to remove the item and place it in a sanitized evidence container. He would examine it later when he had more time. Continuing on to the table, the Changeling's sharpened senses located a thin thread caught on the rough edge of the table, once again the evidence was placed in a secured container.

  "I want samples of this food run through a spectrum analyzer. Check it for all known poisons or drugs," the security chief ordered.

  The technician came forward nearly gagging at the strong smell of blood in the air. Odo was glad that he did not have the sense of smell, as judging from the reactions of the crew, the coppery odor must have been thoroughly permeated within the cabin's small enclosure.

  The Changeling studied the wall next to the upside-down chair. The macabre splattering of blood on the wall extended upward towards the ceiling. The splotches and dripping blood formed a surrealistic scarlet painting against the pale wall color. Judging from the direction of the splashes along the wall and ceiling, Odo concluded that whoever had committed this heinous crime had done so with his right hand. He had seen enough of these cases now, that he was considering himself to be somewhat of an expert.

  Along side of the table, on the rug, were three patches of coagulating blood. The uppermost patch contained the most blood, from the severed artery in the neck most likely Odo surmised. The blood trail started at this point, ending on the other side of the room with the body. Approximately at the midway point, there appeared another large patch of blood, as if the assailant had paused in towing the body.

  "We'll need some samples of this coagulated blood, let's see if we can determine the time approximate time of death," Odo commented to one of his deputies. "See if there's much of a difference between the amount of coagulation of the blood here at the murder site and the clotted blood next to where we found the body. I'd like to know just how much time elapsed between the murder and when the body was discovered."

  He wandered back to the body as it was being readied for transport to the morgue for an autopsy. Again, Odo surveyed the dead man. He noted the blueness of the man's lips and tinge of blue about the face. Moving his gaze lower, something caught his eye. Kneeling beside the body, Odo lifted the arms and studied the severed hands. 'Smoothly cut, apparently with a very sharp-edged cutting instrument, or a laser knife, almost like a scalpel,' he observed. Faintly, under the nail of the index finger of the left hand, he noticed what appeared to be a strand of hair. Once again the technician produced a sterile evidence container.

  As the medical technicians rose to take the deceased with them, Odo had just a few more orders. "Run a tricorder over the clothing, see if you can detect any fibers or other micro substance on the clothing itself or in the fibers. If you detect anything, don't remove it. Call me, I will want to see exactly where it's located. Is that clear?"

  "Understood, Sir, " came the proficient replies.

  "Ensign Thompson," Odo began, referring to one of the medical technicians, "Inform Dr. Bashir, that I would like the autopsy report as soon as possible."

  "Sir, Dr. Garak-Bashir is not on call. We have a Bajoran doctor who will be performing the autopsy."

  "Very well, Ensign, please inform the doctor on call about the report." Odo turned away and took one last look around the murder scene, memorizing the details and storing them away for future reference.

  With the body removed and his own people searching for evidence of any sort, Odo allowed himself a momentary pause to gather his thoughts. He then dismissed himself and bound for Ops he headed directly for Captain Sisko's office. *****

  "Well, I for one, am glad that's over with," Garak was saying as Julian ushered the last of their small guests out the door.

  "Oh? I didn't think it was that bad," Julian replied as he started to help his husband pick up discarded plates, glasses, and paper from the floor.

  "A room full of children, all energetic and filled up with chocolate cake and ice cream?" Somehow, Garak wasn't convinced that Julian had enjoyed every minute of this birthday party. He grimaced as he lifted a plate from his favorite chair and revealed a huge messy conglomeration of chocolate on the seat.

  Julian chuckled and put his arms around his husband. "It can be cleaned," he stated as he kissed his frowning lover.

  "Jayta, Daddy," screamed their son as he came running into the room, grabbing both parents by a leg. "Look what Yoshi gived me for my birthday," he said excitedly.

  Both parents instinctively dropped to their knees to be at eye level with their offspring. Garak opened the box, little Rochosh held out. "Well, this is interesting," he said and held out the box to Julian.

  Inside was a replica of the dart board used by Julian and Miles. It had to be magnetized, as the darts were made with flattened metal-like tips. Each had a special coating over the tip to prevent injury.

  "Daddy teach me play?" Rochosh asked, hugging Julian.

  "Don't you think, he's a little young to play darts?" Garak asked his spouse.

  Their son looked over at his father and in a very serious tone of voice replied, "Jayta, I 'am' three now." He held up three fingers to emphasize the point to his father.

  Julian smiled at the exchange, but decided to propose a compromise for his two loves. "That's right, Rochosh, you are three now, and getting to be such a big boy. Daddy will show you how to play with these, but you have to promise that you will only play with them if Daddy or Jayta are with you."

  The little boy considered the proposal, his eye ridges scrunching together in serious thought. "Okay," he finally responded. "Only play darts with Jayta and Daddy."

  He hugged both men before jumping up and running towards the table. "Cake?" he asked as his fathers rose from the floor.

  "No," Julian responded, "You've had enough for right now."

  "Rochosh like cake," the little boy pleaded. "Jayta?" He looked to his older father for support.

  "No, Rochosh. Your Daddy is right you have had enough." Garak almost laughed out loud as his son formed a pout on his face and stood watching his daddy gather the remains of the chocolate cake and remove them from the table.

  When Julian had finished disposing of the remains, he returned to his son and gave him a hug. "Now, Rochosh, you still have some other birthday presents to open."

  Rochosh placed his arms around the doctor's neck, fully expecting to be carried. Garak stepped up behind the boy and lifted him high into the air. Julian rose slowly, with a questioning look at his husband.

  "It's been a long day, and you're obviously tired," Elim responded to the unasked question. "Let's all go sit down and watch Rochosh open his other presents." He led the way back to the chairs, carefully avoiding the one with the mess still on it.

  The little boy gleefully opened present after present from his grandparents. When he had finished, he looked up at his parents. "Rochosh happy," he announced. "Well, I can see that," Julian responded. "Did you get everything you wanted for your birthday?" he asked his son.

  Slowly, the little boy shook his head, looking at first Julian and then Garak. "Rochosh, not get everything, yet."

  Julian looked over at his husband. "Didn't we?" he asked doubtfully.

  "I thought we did," came the Cardassian's answer. "Rochosh, what didn't you get?"

  The sound of giggles filled the room. The boy stood up and went over to Julian placing his head on his daddy's stomach. Rochosh giggled some more, "Daddy still have one present."

  Both parents looked at each other. Garak shrugged helplessly as Rochosh then began to playfully pat his daddy's abdomen. "Rochosh get baby brother," he announced to the shock of his parents.

  Julian flashed angry eyes at Garak, "Did you. . ." he began.

  "Of course not," the older man responded before the question was completed.

  "Then how. . ." Julian lifted his son onto his lap. "Rochosh, what makes you think you're getting a baby brother?" he asked his still smiling son.

  "'Cause Jayta and Daddy make baby," came the now serious response.

  Julian could only stare at his son, while Garak regained some of his lost composure. "I'm sorry, Jahkim, but I have to ask. . ." he hesitated for a moment. "Rochosh, how do you think Jayta and Daddy made a baby?"

  The doctor's eyes widened as he turned to now stare at his husband. The little boy squirmed out of Julian's arms and into his Jayta's waiting arms.

  "You know," he said, looking his father in the eyes.

  "Well, why don't you tell me anyway," Garak prodded.

  "Jayta love Daddy?" the boy questioned.

  "Yes, Jayta loves Daddy," Garak answered.

  "Jayta make Daddy happy?" came the next question.

  Still not knowing where this was leading, Garak continued to play along with his son's game plan. "Yes, Jayta makes Daddy happy."

  "Jayta on top Daddy. Daddy make happy sounds. Jayta and Daddy make baby." The child sat back on his fathers lap, looking proudly at both his parents.

  This time, Garak did not keep the laughter in, he burst out with loud, cheerful laughter. Rochosh joined in the fun, as both father and son enjoyed the moment together.

  Julian waited in silence until the laughter ebbed. Then in a whispered tone he asked his husband, "You do realize what he's thinking, don't you?"

  "Jahkim, he's just a small child, he doesn't understand. . ."

  "Do so!" Rochosh interrupted. "Yoshi tell me everything"

  Once again, Garak laughed heartily. "The blind leading the blind," he managed to get out between chortles.

  Julian sighed loudly and flashed a warning glance towards the Cardassian. "Rochosh," he began, "Babies are made by mothers."

  The little boy looked at Julian, determination in his eyes. "No have mother, have Jayta and Daddy. Jayta on top Daddy, make Daddy happy. Jayta make baby in Daddy's tummy." His lower lip pushed out as he watched his daddy's reaction.

  "Rochosh," Julian began once again over Garak's now subdued laughter.

  "Daddy have baby in tummy?" Rochosh asked with huge hazel eyes staring.

  "Well. . .I. . ." Julian was bewildered. He looked to his older husband for assistance.

  Garak sobered quickly. "Rochosh, what Daddy is trying to say is that it normally takes a man and a woman to make a baby."

  "I know, Yoshi tell me. No have mother," he repeated. "Daddy have baby in tummy?" he asked once again.

  Both men stared at each other. Julian sighed once again. "Yes, Rochosh, Daddy has a baby in his tummy."

  "See, Rochosh right!" The little boy hugged Garak and then reached over to Julian and placed a kiss on his stomach before hugging him also. He then climbed down and began to play with his many birthday toys.

  Garak reached over and pulled Julian in closer to him. "Jahkim," he whispered. The younger man looked up. "He won't understand anything right now. It's okay, when he's old enough we will explain everything to him. Let's be happy that he knows we love him and each other."

  Julian nodded his head in silent agreement, then leaned into his husband's embrace as they watched their son play. Garak kissed the doctor's soft hair and ran his hands down to rest on Julian's abdomen. Placing another kiss on Julian's cheek, he moved his lips to the doctor's ear. "Hmm, Jayta love Daddy," he whispered. "Jayta make Daddy happy," he continued while nibbling the sensitive spot behind Julian's ear.

  Julian settled in closer, "Remind me to have a word with Miles, about children and the facts of life." *****

  Odo put down the padd he had been reading. There was something very disturbing about the recent murder. He wanted the evidence checked and then rechecked several times until he could be sure that no mistake had been made. All of the evidence appeared to be pointing in one direction, to one specific person. It was perfect, too perfect. Sisko was asking about the amount of time Odo was taking in presenting his case, but Odo just had to be sure about this. Too many people could be hurt as a result. Just when had he become so concerned about the feelings of these solids? The Constable smiled, as he remembered the reason why.

  He looked down at the sleeping form lying next to him in the bed. With a smile, he brushed back the red hair from her forehead. Then with a pang of sorrow, the Changeling realized that his beloved Nerys would also be affected by this murder. She was close, too close to the suspect and his family.

  No, he was missing something, of that he was sure. But what? Why would any one go through all this to murder one man and frame another for the crime? For the first time in his long career as the station's security officer, Odo was wishing that his crew had made a mistake, that somehow this would all be cleared up and everyone would go on with their lives.

  Kira stirred in her sleep, mumbling incoherently. Sweat began to form on her face. With a start, she screamed out "NO!" and sat upright in the bed.

  Odo was there to hold her and gently run his hands up and down Kira's back. soothing her with calming words of affection. "Nerys, it's all right. There is nothing, no one, here that will harm you. I am here, Nerys."

  With a deep breath, Kira pulled away from the comforting embrace of her lover. "I know, Odo. Thank you," she said in a quiet voice.

  "I don't mean to pry, Nerys, but these dreams have been getting worse. Won't you confide in me? Tell me what they are about. I want to help you in any way that I can," Odo gently prompted.

  Big brown eyes searched her lover's face. Sighing, Kira pulled the covers up a little higher and sat with her back against Odo's chest. His fingers laced through her hair as the major began to explain the essence of her dream. When she had finished, a shudder overtook her body and Odo hugged her closer to him.

  "Did you do what you and Sisko discussed? Were you able to contact Myral?" Odo asked.

  "That's just it. I can't find her! It's like she disappeared. She sold the farm and moved away. None of our mutual friends have seen her since. I don't know what's happened to her." Nerys turned her head as Odo leaned forward to kiss her.

  "Let me do some checking," Odo requested. "I have contacts on Bajor who may be able to locate her." He settled them both down in the bed. "Try to get some rest now. I'm here, for you."

  The two lovers lay wrapped in each others arms. Kira soon drifted back into sleep, as Odo held her throughout the night. *****

  After greeting the returning Doctor Slovik, Julian had invited the Vulcan to come for dinner. The evening had started off pleasantly enough with Slovik recalling the details of the medical conference he had attended. It was when they had completed their meal, and Rochosh had been put to bed, that things had taken a sudden turn for the worse. Slovik had casually asked about Julian's health over the last few months, and Garak had supplied the details.

  Julian sat in his chair, not looking at either of the two men facing him. "I'm doing just fine. I don't see why everyone is so concerned anyway. Just because I had to put in a few extra hours at the Infirmary, doesn't mean that I'm overdoing it."

  He glanced up at his husband with stubborn resolve. Garak stared back with equal determination. The Vulcan sitting next to the Cardassian shifted slightly in his seat drawing both men's attention.

  "Doctor Garak-Bashir, you of all people would be the first to reprimand any other pregnant being from working too much and thereby placing their health in jeopardy. Your condition is precarious, while the probability of a miscarriage is lowered, there is still that peril to be considered." Doctor Slovik paused to judge the reception of his words. Julian had lowered his eyes and was absently rubbing his abdomen. "As your obstetrician, I must warn you of the unforeseen complications that you might face if you continue to place yourself at risk. Therefore, I am limiting you to half-days of work."

  Julian looked up sharply. "You can't do that! How am I going to explain this to Captain Sisko or any of the others?"

  "Julian," Garak hesitated as the younger man turned his angry eyes towards him. "Jahkim, soon there will be no question in anyone's mind about the pregnancy. Perhaps it is time that we informed your friends."

  "No," came the stiff response, as Julian turned away from his husband.

  The tailor sighed and shrugged helplessly towards the Vulcan doctor.

  Slovik sat in silent contemplation before speaking once again. "As your doctor, I will respect your wishes, Julian. However, I must still insist that you work only half-days. From what your husband tells me, you have been suffering from extreme bouts of morning sickness and exhaustion. Your body has undergone profound changes. Your body is struggling to adjust to rapid changes due to the excessive amounts of hormones you are required to take daily. The others are well aware that you have been. . .shall we say 'sickly' as of late. Perhaps you could inform them that you have had a relapse of the Vlutgan virus. Do not concern yourself with the inability to perform your duties. I will be remaining on the station until your delivery date, so all medical problems will be covered."

  Julian looked at the Vulcan, mouth open in frank surprise. "You are going to lie for me?" he asked incredulously.

  Slovik raised an eyebrow at the question. "No, Doctor, you and your husband are going to lie. I just won't refute your claims."

  "Julian, it sounds reasonable to me. No one will suspect a thing. Commander Dax will help us with the cover story. Please, Jahkim, you need to start taking care of yourself." Garak reached over and placed his fingertips under his husband's chin, raising his face to look into the flashing umber depths.

  With a weak smile, Julian slowly nodded his head.

  "Now that we have reached an agreement, there is another matter that I wish to discuss with the two of you," the Vulcan stated.

  Both Julian and Elim turned their attention back to the other doctor.

  "Due to the uniqueness of this pregnancy, I believe that every precaution needs to be taken. Tomorrow I would like to run a few tests on you, Julian. This would include performing an amniocentesis."

  Garak felt Julian's body tense. He put his arm around his Terran husband and pulled him closer for a reassuring embrace.

  Julian's voice trembled slightly as he asked, "Is that absolutely necessary, Doctor?"

  "What would you do in my place?" the Vulcan responded.

  The younger doctor considered the question and once again nodded his head on agreement. "I would run the test," Julian stated simply. As he spoke he leaned in even closer to Garak, seeking comfort in the larger man's arms.

  Slovik rose from his seat and started towards the door. "Very well, then, I will see you tomorrow at 1100 hours. Afterwards, Doctor, you will be dismissed from your duties for the rest of the day." Garak and Julian sat quietly after the Vulcan had left. The Cardassian instinctively knew that there was something on his young husband's mind. He also knew that when Julian was ready to share, he would. Until then he would have to be content to offer whatever reassurance his Jahkim would need, no questions asked.

  The next day, Julian was in the quarantine room sitting on the bio- bed, wearing a loose fitting Infirmary gown, with Garak standing by his side.

  "This is absolutely ridiculous!" Julian stated, his arms resting on his growing abdomen. "I don't even know what Slovik needs an amniocentesis for anyway."

  Garak smiled fondly at his sulking husband. "Jahkim, you're a doctor yourself. You know you wouldn't run a test on a patient unless you deemed it necessary and neither would Dr. Slovik, just be patient, Love," the tailor replied and pressed a kiss to his spouse's lips.

  Julian gave him a small smile. "I guess I'm just worried about the baby. I don't want to find out that there is something wrong with our little one."

  Garak gave Julian's hands a squeeze. "Jahkim, you know that it's just a precautionary test to make sure everything is fine. There is no need to worry yourself so much."

  "Mr. Bashir-Garak is correct," Slovik announced as he entered the room. "The amniocentesis is only a precaution since this is a very high risk pregnancy. I just need to make sure that there are no problems that might have been overlooked," the Vulcan explained coming to stand directly in front of Julian. "Now, Doctor, if you'll lie back, I'll prepare the anesthetic."

  Julian did lie back and as he did so, Garak noticed that Julian's breaths were getting more shallow and he was turning a bit pale. "Jahkim? Are you feeling all right?" he questioned.

  "I-I'm fine," Julian replied, none too convincingly. His hands still making gentle movements over his stomach.

  Slovik applied the hypospray to Julian's throat and turned around to prepare the needle. Garak watched Julian's face as Slovik turned with the needle in hand. His spouse's face turned white under the golden tint. His eyes grew huge and his hands moved faster and faster over his stomach. Slovik was about to approach with the needle, but Julian sat up quickly on the bed.

  "Stop! I can't do this!" he moaned, as his Cardassian mate looked on in concern.

  "Jahkim, whatever is wrong with you? Why are you behaving so irrationally?" He then looked at how Julian could not take his eyes off the large needle that. . .the type he himself had been stuck with on two different occasions and suddenly something occurred to him. "Jahkim, are you telling me that you, a doctor, are frightened of needles?" His voice held no amusement, as he could see real fear in the depths of Julian's hazel eyes.

  "I-I-I'm. . ." Julian started, before he stopped and swallowed a couple of times. Garak took Julian's chin and pulled his gaze away from the needle. Taking a deep breath, Julian started again. "Elim, do you know how you feel when your in a tight confined place?" Julian asked. The tailor full well remembered how his claustrophobia could sometimes affect him and he nodded. "Well, I know it sounds foolish, but I feel the same way with needles. When I was seven, and in the Institute for my enhancements, I was poked and prodded on a daily basis with needles. I know that it's ridiculous, I am a doctor after all, but ever since then--needles make me. . .make me. . ." the younger man hesitated as his body produced a shudder. "All right, yes. Elim, I'm afraid of needles." Julian hung his head in shame as he confessed his childhood phobia.

  Garak looked him deeply in the eyes and stroked his hair. "Jahkim, I know what it's like to carry a fear and it's nothing to be ashamed of," he assured him. He then looked at Slovik. "Is the amniocentesis absolutely necessary?" he asked the Vulcan.

  "I am afraid that it is indeed necessary," the other doctor answered. Slovik looked at the still flushed face of the younger doctor. "Perhaps Dr. Garak-Bashir, you would find it beneficial if I showed you some Vulcan relaxation techniques to use during the procedure?"

  "I don't believe that will be necessary," Garak replied as he gently pushed his husband back down onto the bio-bed. "Lie back, Jahkim, and close your eyes," he said firmly. Julian did as he was asked and hesitantly closed his eyes. "Now just listen to my voice, all right?" Garak asked.

  "I'm listening," Julian responded softly and Garak smiled.

  "Now, Jahkim," he started, making sure Julian's eyes stayed closed. "Think about our little one. Imagine how happy we're going to be when he or she will finally be born strong and healthy. Can't you just see Rochosh's smile now when he gets to hold his new brother or sister for the first time?" Garak asked, as he pulled back Julian's gown and rubbed the swelling belly with the palm of his hand.

  "Yes, he sure is excited," Julian agreed with a faint smile on his lips, still keeping his eyes closed and simply concentrating.

  Garak kept talking soothingly to the doctor while his hand kept up the relaxing motions on his abdomen. Finally, when Julian seemed to be totally calm and relaxed, never having opened his eyes yet, Garak motioned with his free hand for Slovik to prepare the needle. As Slovik approached, Garak stepped back, but continued talking in a soft voice to the doctor as Slovik inserted the needle into Julian's stomach. In less than a minute, he had his sample of the clear amniotic fluid, and stepped back.

  "Julian?" Garak called.

  "Mmm?" the younger man murmured.

  "You can open your eyes now, Doctor Slovik is finished," Garak informed him with a sly smile.

  "Over? Are you sure?" Julian asked, blinking his eyes as he opened them again.

  "Quite sure. See it wasn't so bad now was it?" Garak asked and squeezed his fingers.

  Julian sat up and gave him a rather sheepish smile. "No, I guess it wasn't, with you around."

  "Think nothing of it. Let's just say it's part of the service you received when you married me," Garak replied with a smile, and brushed his lips against Julian's.

  "Lucky for me," Julian replied, matching his smile.

  Slovik cleared his throat. "Thank you Mr. Bashir-Garak. My technique would have been similar but yours seemed to be very effective. The results of the amniocentesis will be available in the morning. I shall contact you then with the results."

  "Thank you, Dr. Slovik," Julian replied as Garak helped him down from the bio-bed.

  "There is one more matter that I would like to discuss with you before leaving," the Vulcan doctor said as Julian picked up his uniform.

  "What is it, Doctor?" Julian asked, searching the other doctor's eyes for some clue as to whether or not it was anything serious. The Vulcan's eyes remained unreadable as usual.

  "I was just speculating as to whether you and Mr. Bashir-Garak would prefer knowing the gender of your child now or whether you would prefer waiting until a later date," Slovik replied, knowing that some Terrans preferred being 'surprised'.

  Julian looked over to his mate. "What do you think, Elim? Do you want to know now or wait until the due date?"

  Garak smiled at his spouse. "I decided that last time, the choice is yours."

  Julian thought about it for a few moments. "I think I'd like to know," he answered as a hand drifted to his stomach. "It would easier to know what we're going to need in order to be prepared."

  "Your child shall be female in gender," Slovik informed the couple. He then turned and left the couple alone.

  Julian looked into Elim's eyes, "We're going to have a daughter. . .a little girl," he remarked with bright smile.

  Garak's eyes shone as he moved behind Julian and placed his arms around the expanding belly, his hands softly stroking it. Whispering in the doctor's rounded ear, he said, "We've been blessed with a little treasure. I only hope that she can handle being in a family with three males."

  "Love, something makes me wonder if you might not just have that backwards," Julian remarked with a grin, his arms coming up behind him to wrap around the Cardassian's neck. "I don't know about you, but I don't have a clue as to how to raise a baby girl!"

  "With a lot of love to start with," Elim replied, placing a kiss on the side of Julian's neck. "The rest we figure out as we go along."

  Julian shook his head ruefully at his husband. How the Cardassian could be so confident, Julian didn't understand, but he did admit to himself that he was excited about the prospect of raising a daughter. "A daughter, our own little girl. I still can't believe this."

  "Well, it's true, soon Rochosh is going to have a little sister," the tailor replied, his eyes still alive with pleasure and pride. "Why don't we go to that new restaurant on the Promenade for lunch to celebrate?"

  "Sounds wonderful," Julian replied, pulling away from Garak to get dressed in his uniform once again. Soon afterwards, both men left for lunch. *****

  Odo stared at the reports. He had read them over several times now, the evidence was all there, there were no mistakes made. The shapeshifter leaned back in his chair, he closed his eyes and concentrated. There was something wrong, something he had missed. He shook his head sadly and slowly rose to his feet. Gathering the data, he headed out from his office and towards Ops.

  Lost in thought as he crossed the Promenade, Odo almost didn't hear his name being called. Stopping, he turned to look into the faces of Major Kira and Commander Dax.

  "Odo, I've called you three times already. What's the problem? You look like you've lost your best friend," Kira addressed him.

  "I 'am' on duty, and there's always a problem," the Chief of Security replied.

  "Odo, you need to learn to loosen up, enjoy life," Dax advised. Pointing towards the new restaurant on the Promenade, she continued. "Look, at those two, will you."

  They all watched as Garak led Julian from the Infirmary and headed to the restaurant.

  "Looks like they're very happy. You know, despite the fact that he's been sick a lot lately, Julian has never looked better," the Major observed.

  Odo's eyes twitched as he glanced at the married couple. Indeed, the doctor looked quite happy, ecstatic would better describe it. With the Cardassian's arm protectively around his waist, the young man leaned towards his husband and whispered something. They both broke out in huge smiles as they entered the restaurant.

  Nervously, Odo cleared his throat. "Yes, well I must get back to work. Major. Commander." He left the two women and resumed his journey towards Captain Sisko's office. He dreaded facing Sisko. The captain was not going to like what Odo had to say, in fact, Odo didn't like what he had to say. Yet he had a job to do, it was his responsibility.

  "Odo, what can I do for you?" Sisko leaned back in his chair and casually picked up the baseball from his desk.

  "Captain, I have the results of all the labwork and analysis of the evidence from the murder scene." Odo turned away from Sisko and stared out into Ops.

  "Constable, what is the problem? I've waited days for your report. Now, I can be a patient man, however, in this case I have just about run out of patience. The Bajorans are demanding a quick resolution, and all I've been able to say is 'We're working on it.' Give me a reason to stall them, Odo, and I will, but give me something," Sisko commanded.

  The shapeshifter turned back to face Sisko. He then sat down in the chair opposite the desk. "The evidence and reports all point to one person as the perpetrator of the murder."

  Sisko sat up, eyes narrowed. He realized the constable's uneasiness and that troubled him. "Constable, just tell me, who is it?" Sisko demanded.

  Odo looked up and stared into the captain's dark eyes. "Garak," he replied.

  Sisko jumped up from behind the desk, the baseball falling to the floor. "What?! There has to be some mistake," the big man's voice shook with fury.

  "Captain, I assure you that I have gone over every bit of evidence myself, several times. I have read and reread the reports from several Bajoran citizens who witnessed an altercation between the murdered man and Garak. I even interviewed them myself. Captain, everything points to Garak." Odo had not realized how emotional his own voice had become.

  Sisko sat on the edge of his desk. "I can't believe that Garak would jeopardize his life here on the station like that." He lowered his head and moaned, "Oh my God, Julian. Odo are you sure?"

  Odo stood and face the captain. "The evidence points to Garak, and as a representative of Bajoran law on this station, I must arrest him. However, am I sure?" Odo paused and shook his head. "No, Captain. No, I am not sure. There's something wrong with all of this, I just can't place it."

  "Perhaps you'd better inform me, just what is the evidence against him?" Sisko requested.

  Odo nodded his head, and produced the data padds. Reading off of them he went over the damaging facts. "We have found some strands of hair and skin fragments on the murder victim, DNA testing has shown them to be Garak's, the food was poisoned with Ridiumcerozine, a drug commonly used by operatives of the Obsidian Order during the Occupation." Odo paused as, Sisko moved back to his seat. Then he sat down himself, before continuing. "The weapon used to remove the hands. . .was a laser scalpel. After checking, we discovered one missing from the Infirmary."

  Sisko interrupted, "Just a minute, Odo, are you saying that Julian had something to do with this?"

  "I am merely presenting the evidence, Captain. At this time, Dr. Bashir is not a suspect," Odo replied.

  The captain let out a slow breath. "Continue."

  "There have been several Bajorans who have claimed that they witnessed an altercation between the victim and Garak several weeks ago. Apparently, the victim was drunk and accosted Dr. Bashir. They claim that Garak had threatened to remove the man's hands. The incident was reported by both Garak and Bashir."

  Silence settled over the office as each man thought over the evidence presented.

  "Is that all, Constable?" Sisko asked quietly.

  Odo nodded. "According to Bajoran law, it's enough to arrest Garak and keep him incarcerated while the investigation continues."

  Sisko remained silent for a while longer. "Odo, something isn't right. Garak is a former member of the Obsidian Order, it seems to me that all the evidence would have been careless mistakes for him to make. For as long as I've known Garak, he just doesn't make careless mistakes. And what about Julian and Rochosh? Garak would never do something that would hurt them."

  "Captain Sisko, may I remind you that Garak is a Cardassian, a former member of one of the most ruthless organizations known. He has killed before," Odo interjected.

  Sisko waved his hand, "Yes, yes, I know all that. What I meant was, Garak would never have been so careless as to leave such obvious evidence. If he did it, you wouldn't have found one shred of evidence against him."

  Again, Odo nodded his head in agreement. "What can I do, Captain? By law, I have to arrest him."

  Sisko sighed, "Then arrest him. But I want you to continue this investigation, find the real murderer."

  "And if it's Garak?" Odo inquired calmly. "He could have planted the evidence, to make us think that it wasn't really him."

  "Then I want the evidence to be more than circumstantial. If he did it, he will be punished," Sisko replied in a weary voice. "For Julian's sake I pray that Garak is innocent."

  Odo stood and headed towards the door. He paused, turning back to face Sisko. "Captain?"

  "Something else, Odo?"

  Remembering how happy Julian had looked as he and Garak entered the restaurant, Odo chose his words carefully. "Captain, I would prefer not to arrest Garak just yet. He and the doctor are having lunch at the new restaurant and. . ."

  "It's all right, Odo. I understand, do it whenever you feel it's best." Sisko dismissed the Constable.

  Alone in his office, Benjamin placed his head in his large hands. "No matter what happens, it will be Julian who is hurt the most. Garak, what have you done now?" The words echoed in the small room. *****

  Julian was exceptionally glad it had been a slow morning in the Infirmary. There were no major traumas that had kept him late over his shift and now he was on his way home to spend some time with his family. He had dealt with a bout of morning sickness earlier, but was feeling fine now. The door to their quarters swung open and as soon as it did, Rochosh greeted him at the door before he even had a chance to set down his medkit.

  "Daddy home, Daddy home," the boy exclaimed in a sing-song fashion as he ran up to Julian with his arms up, ready to be held.

  Julian set the medkit down on the floor and obliged the boy. "Hi buddy, have you been good?" Julian asked giving the boy a kiss.

  "Yes, Daddy, Rochosh good," the boy replied and then squealed as Julian started tickling him.

  "Good, then maybe you'll get a extra-long bedtime story later, tonight," Julian told him as he set the boy back down on his feet. His son smiled up at him and then took off for his room.

  Julian then walked over to the tailor who was sitting on the sofa, apparently engrossed in the latest novel he was reading. "And what about you? Have you been good today?" Julian teased as he leaned in for a long kiss.

  "If I say yes, do I get rewarded too?" the Cardassian teased in return.

  "We'll see," Julian remarked with a devilish grin that hinted at promises.

  Garak regarded his younger husband. There seemed to be circles under the doctor's eyes and his legs were looking swollen. "You look tired, Jahkim, come, sit down," the tailor ordered.

  Julian couldn't deny that fact that he was indeed tired, so he did as ordered. Garak pressed him back to lie down on the sofa and then removed Julian's boots. With long, firm strokes, Garak ran his hands up and down the length of the long legs, taking time to stroke the soles of his feet and working the toes. Julian sighed as he let his eyes drift shut.

  "That feels heavenly," Julian remarked dreamily, trying to fight a yawn that was coming on. Garak merely smiled and continued massaging the doctor's taut muscular legs.

  "Maybe you'll start cutting down some more hours you spend at work," Garak suggested hopefully.

  "Elim, you know I have already. I can't expect that Bajoran doctor and Slovik to take on the entire workload, can I?" Julian asked.

  Garak couldn't help wondering why the doctor couldn't do just that, but he knew Julian wasn't about to stay away from the Infirmary all together. "I suppose not, Jahkim," Garak consented.

  Julian had nearly drifted off to sleep as Garak kept up the delightful movements over his legs and feet when the beeping door gathered his full attention. Sitting up, he asked Garak, "Who do you suppose that is?"

  "I have no idea, Jahkim, we aren't expecting any company," the tailor answered. "Enter," he called out.

  The door slid open to admit Odo into their quarters.

  "Why, good afternoon, Constable. Did you come to have lunch with us?" Garak asked, wondering if Julian invited him and forgot to mention it.

  "I'm afraid not, Garak," Odo replied. "This isn't a social call," the shapeshifter informed them.

  "Then is there a problem of some sort?" Julian asked, wondering if someone needed medical assistance.

  "In a way, yes," Odo replied as two other Bajoran guards filed into the room. Odo walked over to Garak, who was now standing, along with the doctor. Odo pulled out a data padd that contained the picture of the Bajoran that had tried to cause them trouble at the replimat. "Do you recognize this man?" Odo asked.

  "Yes, that's the man that tried harassing us at the replimat. Is he some kind of a criminal?" Julian asked.

  "No, this man was found murdered," Odo explained.

  "Do you need an autopsy done?" Julian asked.

  "No, an autopsy has already been performed. That's why I'm here actually," the Constable replied.

  "What do you mean?" Julian asked in confusion and watched as Odo pulled out a pair of cuffs as two more Bajoran security officers filed into their quarters.

  "Garak, I'm afraid I have to place you under arrest for the suspected involvement in the murder of Orian Soban."

  Julian subconsciously moved between his husband and the Chief of Security. "Murder! You can't be serious! Elim wouldn't murder anyone!" the doctor exclaimed.

  "I'm afraid, Doctor, there is substantial evidence that points to the contrary." Odo's eyes shifted to the tailor, who's hand was now resting on Julian's shoulder. "Besides the physical evidence we found, there are also witnesses stating that they heard you threaten physical violence against the murder victim."

  "That's ridiculous! He only told him to release me when he kept harassing me and making snide comments about our family. Odo! You know Garak wouldn't kill anyone!"

  "I"m sorry, Doctor, but it's my duty to arrest him. I have no choice in the matter." Odo then looked at Garak. "Will you be coming peacefully?"

  "I don't see as I have much choice in the matter either," Garak replied.

  Julian turned towards his husband. "No! You didn't do anything! There's no reason for you to leave."

  Garak smiled affectionately at his spouse and pulled him into his arms. "Don't worry, Jahkim, we both know I'm innocent and I'm sure this will be cleared up in a few hours." He then took the doctor's lips in a very long and tender kiss.

  "We need to leave," Odo replied as they broke the kiss.

  "Jayta go bye-bye?" They all looked down at the small boy that had ventured back out of his room with all the commotion. "Can Rochosh go too?"

  Garak knelt down to his son's level. "Yes, Jayta is leaving, but Rochosh can't come with me." The boy stuck out his bottom lip and looked at the floor. Garak took two fingers and brought the child's face up to look at him. "Rochosh has to stay here and look after Daddy while Jayta's gone. Can you do that for your Jayta?"

  Rochosh then gave him a smile that reminded him so much of Julian that it made his heart ache. "Yes! Rochosh take care of Daddy," the small boy promised.

  "That's my big boy," Garak said and swept the child into a hug and held him tightly. "I love you."

  "Rochosh love Jayta too," the boy said as he smiled brightly at his father. Garak kissed the child's forehead.

  Garak released the boy and then stood to face Julian. "I love you too, Jahkim, I won't be gone long," the tailor said as he placed another quick kiss on the doctor's lips before Odo's men took his arms and led him out of the room. As the door slid with a hiss, Rochosh didn't quite understand why his daddy had scooped him up and held him just a little too tightly.

  Julian was still for a moment before speaking to the station's computer.

  "Please put a voice transmission through to Leeta," he ordered aloud.

  "Leeta here," the former Dabo girl replied.

  "Leeta, would you watch Rochosh for me for a bit? There's an emergency that has come up and I need to talk to the captain right away," he replied briefly, trying to keep his voice under control.

  "Of course, Julian," she replied. "Leeta out."

  Within minutes, Julian heard his door chime.

  "Enter," he called out.

  The door opened to admit the former Dabo girl. There was a smile on her face, but as soon as she saw Julian's expression, she lost it.

  "What's happened?"

  "Garak's been arrested, no time to explain, I've got to go," Julian replied quickly as he gave his son a final kiss and was out the door before Leeta had time to blink twice.

  Julian was off the turbolift before it even came to a complete stop. Kira looked up from her console, "What's wrong, Doctor? You look horrible!"

  The doctor brushed past her and bounded up the stairs leading to Captain Sisko's office. The young man burst in without waiting for an invitation.

  Sisko, O'Brien, and Dax looked up at the intrusion. Noticing the look on Julian's face, Dax came over to grab hold of Julian's arms. "Julian, what's wrong? What's happened?"

  With watery eyes glowing with unabashed animosity, the young man stared at his commanding officer. His voice hoarse with emotion and from crying, he asked, "How can you let this happen? He didn't do anything! Captain, please!"

  O'Brien and Dax looked at each other, then at the two men. Sisko rose from his seat and walked towards Julian. The doctor took a step backwards, breaking free of Dax's gentle hold.

  "Benjamin, what is he talking about? What's going on?" Dax demanded of her friend.

  O'Brien had stepped around so as to come up behind Julian, he tenderly placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. Julian shrugged him off, standing his ground to face the captain.

  "Tell them, tell them how you had Odo arrest an innocent man. Tell them how you and Odo plan to use Elim as a scapegoat. He's innocent, you know that. You know he could never murder anyone!" The doctor's voice was rising, reaching the verge of hysteria.

  "Dax, O'Brien," Sisko began, "please leave us alone for now."

  Hesitantly Miles and Jadzia left the room, each placing a comforting hand on their young friend's shoulder. Dax stopped at the door, turning back, "Julian, I'll be waiting for you in Ops. Don't exert yourself." The warning in her voice was apparent even to Sisko, who looked questioningly between his two officers. Jadzia left the room.

  "Doctor, would you like to sit down so we can talk this through reasonably?" Sisko asked.

  "I'd rather stand, Sir," came the reply.

  "Doctor. . .Julian, you have to understand that all of the evidence points to Garak. It's not a vendetta against him, we just had no other choice. Odo is working around the clock trying to locate more proof to. . ."

  "Proof to convict my husband?" Julian inquired. "Captain, please, you know that Elim couldn't murder someone"

  "No, Julian, I don't. The Bajoran was murdered after an altercation with Garak, there's evidence of Garak's DNA at the murder scene, the murder weapon was a laser scalpel, and we have witnesses that state the man had threatened you in some way and Garak responded to that threat."

  "He didn't do it, Captain. He couldn't, wouldn't. You have to believe me." Julian turned away exasperated. As he turned he felt a sharp pang in his abdomen. Grabbing his stomach he leaned on the Captain's desk.

  "Doctor, are you all right?" Sisko's worry for his young friend came through. He carefully led the younger man to a seat. "Do you need medical assistance, should I call for a medic?"

  "No," Julian gasped. "No, I'll be fine."

  Deep brown eyes searched the lighter hazel eyes for a moment, before the captain spoke again. "Here, let me get you something to drink. I have some Saurian Brandy that should calm your nerves." He started to rise from his seat.

  "No, Captain, please, I can't," Julian requested in a quiet voice. As he spoke, the doctor's hands had absently began a gentle massage of his abdomen.

  Sisko noticed the movement, and reached out to cover the young man's hands with his own. "There's something wrong, tell me," his command was gentle.

  Julian looked up at his commanding officer. "I guess, I won't be able to keep it a secret much longer anyway." He sighed as he considered his choice of words.

  "I'm. . ." Julian hesitated. "Captain, I. . .I'm pregnant."

  Of all the things Sisko had expected to hear, that definitely was not one of them. Surprised, he looked at the doctor, "What did you say?" Not believing his ears, he requested the information once again.

  "I'm pregnant," came the simple reply.

  "What? How? That's impossible!" The well spoken captain was at a loss for words.

  "Sir, it is possible, and I 'am' pregnant." Julian smiled at the older man. "You remember how Elim became pregnant?" The captain nodded slowly. "Well, I just figured out a way for my body to carry the embryonic sac developed by Elim."

  Considering what was just said, Sisko looked at his Chief Medical Officer. He knew that the young man, had wanted to have more children, and also suspected that the tailor was not overjoyed at the prospect of carrying another child. Julian was a determined man, with a super intelligence. If anyone could come up with a way for a human male to carry a child, it would be this brilliant doctor.

  Sisko's looked down at his hands, still holding the doctor's. A smile formed on his lips as he repeated "Pregnant?"

  Coming back to his senses, the captain then asked, "How far along are you?"

  "I'm in my fifth month," Julian responded.

  "Your fifth month! Why didn't you say something?" Sisko asked, then he remembered all the times Julian had to rush from a meeting to the bathroom, the times Julian had literally turned green whenever Quark brought by a new concoction to be tasted.

  "Sir, there is something else," the doctor began. "There is an extremely high risk factor for a miscarriage. Right now it's down to 65.831 percent. I didn't want to chance telling everyone, and then. . ." his voiced trailed off as he rubbed his stomach again.

  "Julian, if there's anything at all that I can do, just ask." Benjamin told the young man.

  "You can give me back my husband," Julian requested. His eyes bore into the captain.

  Sisko shook his head. "You know it's not as easy as that." He held up his hand to silence the interruption from the doctor. "I will help you though, I will help you find the proof you need to release Garak. I believe you, Julian, I do believe that Garak wouldn't kill someone, at least not now, not when he has you, and Rochosh, and . . ." his head nodded towards Julian's abdomen. "You're right, and now we have to show that the evidence against Garak was planted."

  It was Julian's turn to smile. The tears that threatened to flow before were forming again. He wiped them away with his hands. "Thank you, Sir. I really appreciate knowing that you will help me. Now, what I have to do first. . ." Julian paused as he saw Sisko shaking his head.

  "Sir?" Julian's voice was quiet and doubtful.

  "No, the first thing 'you' are going to do, is get some rest. I won't have you jeopardizing your health or that baby's life. Do I make myself clear, Doctor?" Sisko commanded. "When I need you to do something, I will let you know. Now, I want you to trust me enough to leave this up to me."

  "But, I can't just not do something!" the doctor protested. "Elim's my husband, the father of my children. Sir, please. . ."

  "Doctor, you will be doing something. Aside from taking care of those children, you will be consulting with me and Dax. I assume she already knows about your condition?" The young man nodded. "Let us do the legwork, then we'll all get together to go over the findings. Is that agreeable with you?"

  "Yes, Sir!" Julian responded enthusiastically. He hesitated for a moment and then continued. "Captain, may I request a favor?"

  "What is it?"

  "Well, besides Elim and myself, you and Jadzia are the only ones who know that I'm pregnant. I'd like to keep it that way for a while longer." Julian looked up sheepishly at the captain.

  Gathering the young man into his arms for a gentle hug, Sisko responded, "Just for a while, Doctor. However, I do believe that very soon, your body is going to be announcing it to the entire station. Tell me, do you know if it's a boy or a girl yet?"

  Julian looked up at his commanding officer. If he was embarrassed by the closeness he now felt towards the older man, he didn't show it. The doctor smiled as he responded, "A girl, I'm carrying a baby girl."

  Sisko hugged the younger man tighter. "A girl! Perfect! There's going to be a lot to plan for between now and the time of the birth. Don't you worry about anything, Julian. You just leave everything to me." He looked down at the doctor and ran his hand over Julian's abdomen. "Well, not everything," he conceded.

  They both laughed, as Benjamin released Julian. Just before Julian left, Sisko called to him once more. "Julian, bring Rochosh by my quarters about 1800 tonight. I'll have dinner ready by then. No, arguments, Doctor." Julian nodded and left.

  After leaving Sisko's office, Julian went back to his quarters. When he entered, he saw Rochosh sitting on the floor coloring in a favorite coloring book.

  "Hi, Daddy!" Rochosh cried and smiled as he looked up from his book.

  Leeta stood up from the sofa, "Has anything changed?"

  "No, I'm afraid not. Things aren't looking too good right now," Julian told her. "Thanks for keeping an eye on Rochosh though, while I talked with Sisko."

  "Oh no problem, he's such a little doll, that it's no trouble at all," the former Dabo girl replied as she made her way to the door. "If I can be of any help at all, just let me know."

  "Thanks Leeta, I'll keep that in mind," Julian remarked as he watched the door shut behind her. He then walked over to the sofa and plopped down on it with a thud. He threw an arm over his eyes and tried to blot out all the thoughts running through his head. Before long he felt a tug at his arm. "What is it, buddy?" he asked his son as he turned to face him.

  "Want to play trains with Jayta. When Jayta come back?" the little boy asked.

  "I don't know when Jayta will be back," Julian answered honestly as he lifted the little boy onto his lap.

  "Why Jayta go away? Did Rochosh make Jayta mad?" the child asked as hazel eyes searched hazel eyes.

  "Oh no, no, my sweet. You didn't make Jayta mad at all," Julian assured the boy with a firm hug.

  "Then why Jayta leave?" Rochosh asked again.

  Julian sighed deeply. "Some people think that Jayta did something very, very, bad and they want to punish Jayta," he tried to explain.

  "Jayta not bad! Jayta good!" the boy replied. "Want Jayta to come home."

  "So do I, Rochosh, so do I," Julian answered.

  "Then Daddy bring Jayta back," the boy ordered.

  "Daddy can't bring Jayta back until people think he's good," Julian replied.

  Rochosh's lip trembled and huge tears rolled down his cheeks. "Want Jayta back!" the little boy sobbed.

  The doctor began rocking his son back and forth and talking soothingly to him, but the more he rocked his child, the angrier he got. There was absolutely no reason that Rochosh shouldn't be able to be with his father. All of the frustration and anger that had been building up since the arrest had finally proved too much. Julian felt his own tears start flowing freely as well. Soon his body started shaking with the sobs of frustration, anger, and fear.

  Rochosh's own sobbing quieted down as he watched his daddy crying. Wiping his own tears, Rochosh then reached out his little hands and wiped at Julian's eyes. "No cry, Daddy, no cry," he said in a small voice. "Jayta be okay, Jayta come home. Rochosh take care Daddy til Jayta come home." Even through the tears, Julian couldn't help smiling at the little boy trying to comfort him. He hugged the boy close to his chest.

  "Yes, Rochosh is right, Jayta will come back home," Julian promised the boy. He would see to it, somehow, that his family would be back in one piece soon.

  Julian sat holding his son close, words of reassurance flowing, some for Rochosh's sake some for Julian himself. The little boy snuggled up to his daddy's chest, gently stroking his fathers arms. When the tears had stopped and the murmurs ceased, they sat in silence, Julian rocking them both back and forth.

  A soft beeping noise roused Julian. He became aware that a message was coming through. Wiping away the remains of his tears and tenderly lifting his son, Julian walked over to the computer console. "Incoming message from Amsha Bashir," the computer voice informed them.

  "Yanna!" Rochosh squealed with delight, his fears for his Jayta momentarily forgotten.

  "Computer, initialize message," the doctor requested.

  "Mother, how nice to hear from you," Julian's voice cracked slightly as he smiled a greeting to his mother.

  Hi, Yanna. Rochosh miss you." The little boy was thrilled to see his grandmother.

  "Oh, my darlings, I have missed all of you also. Jules, are you feeling all right? You look pale, and your eyes are swollen." Amsha's motherly eyes took in the disheveled sight of her usually impeccably neat son.

  "I'm fine, Mother." Once again there was a slight catch in his voice. Julian silently cursed himself. He really didn't want to explain everything to his mother, he couldn't keep relying on her every time something went wrong. Taking a deep breath, he straightened his back and drew back his shoulders.

  Amsha took in what she could see, and worry shone in her eyes. However, the reason she had called pushed forward into her mind once again. Clearing her throat, she began, "Jules, this isn't exactly a social call. . .I mean. . ." she hesitated. With a loud sigh, she tried once again. "Jules, is your father there with you?"

  Julian stared at the monitor, it took a moment before he could answer. "What's wrong? Mom, what happened? Is dad missing?" His heart began to beat faster and his hold on Rochosh tightened. 'Oh no,' he thought, 'Please don't let there be anything wrong. I don't know how much more I can take.'

  Amsha saw the panic stricken look in her son's eyes. She thought quickly to come up with a response, one that would not cause Julian to worry. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Jules. I didn't mean to alarm you. No, your father had just mentioned something about going to see you. I spent some time at my sister's, your Aunt Constance, and when I returned home, Richard was gone. I just assumed that he went ahead with his plans. He's probably just working late, I should have checked first."

  The doctor breathe a sigh of relief and loosened his hold on his unusually quiet little boy. "Thank God, you gave me quite a fright, Mother."

  Just at that moment the door chime sounded. Julian jumped involuntarily, he looked startled.

  "Jules, are you sure that you're all right?" Amsha repeated her earlier question. "Darling, you look and act terribly upset."

  "I'm sorry, Mother, but there's someone at the door. Perhaps we could continue this conversation another time," Julian responded with apathy.

  "Rochosh want talk to Yanna. Please, Daddy, please. Yanna talk with me, please." The little boy was bouncing up and down on Julian's lap. "Please, Daddy."

  Julian relented with a slight smile, as the door chimed once again. "Very well, Rochosh. You and Yanna talk while I go see who's at our door."

  "I'll be right back, Mom." Julian settled his son on the seat in front of the monitor. The boy had to kneel to view the screen, but did so quite happily.

  "Rochosh," Amsha began. "Did you have a nice birthday? Did you get everything you wished for?"

  Rochosh happily nodded his head, but then turned serious with very wide eyes. "Yanna Amsha, Daddy cry. Rochosh no like when Daddy cry."

  "Why was Daddy crying, is there something wrong?" Amsha gently prodded her grandson to get the answers she wanted.

  "Daddy cry, Jayta no come home. Rochosh want Jayta come home. No like when Daddy cry. Yanna come make Daddy better. Make Jayta come home."

  The little boy looked at his grandmother with wide hazel colored eyes. The expression in those eyes so much like his daddy's. Amsha's breath constricted and she held a hand to her throat. 'So that's it, my poor sweet Jules.'

  "Don't worry, Rochosh. Yanna is coming, I'll be there very soon."

  "Rochosh take care Daddy. Yanna come soon, take care of Daddy and Rochosh." The boy's lower lip pushed out to form a pout. "Yanna and Grandfather come help."

  Before Amsha could reply to her grandson, Julian returned to take his seat. "I'm sorry, Mother. Now where were we?"

  "Oh, it's not that important right now, son. You take care, and I'll be in touch soon. I love you, Jules." Amsha blew her son a kiss over the thousands of light years. "Yanna loves you too, Rochosh." She blew him a kiss also. "I see that I've missed Elim. Give him my love, will you, Jules?" She watched as her son took a deep breath and took note of the watery eyes.

  "Of course, Mother. Oh, and give dad my love also." Julian watched as his mother took in a deep breath and also noted the watery eyes.

  "Yes, well, goodbye." Amsha signed off leaving Julian and Rochosh staring at the blank screen.

  The little boy climbed down from his fathers grasp and ran to play in his bedroom. Julian continued to sit by the console, his mind replaying the strange conversation he had just gone through. Something was wrong, he knew it. He was jolted from his reflections by a tugging on his pants leg. Looking down, he gazed into the deep shining eyes of his child.

  "Daddy come play," the little youngster pleaded.

  Julian raised himself from his chair and while rubbing the ache away in his lower back, walked slowly into the other room. *****