As Julian walked towards his quarters, he thought about how he had wanted to start working again that day instead of waiting. 'Well, at least starting tomorrow will be better than nothing.' he thought, although the thought of spending the day around his empty quarters was less than appealing. Then again, the thought of being around a lot of people right then was even less appealing. Turning the corner, he saw his mother leaning with her back against his door.

  "Hi sweetheart," she greeted him, with a modest smile.

  "Hello Mother," he replied without returning the smile. Entering his code, he entered into the living-area. "Didn't you have plans with Leeta this morning?" he asked as she entered behind him.

  "I did," she answered, "but I canceled them to spend some time with my son."

  "You didn't have to do that on my account," Julian remarked, flopping down onto the sofa. Amsha came over and joined him.

  "I did it because I wanted to," she countered. "I thought you might like to talk."

  Julian gave her a suspicious glance. "You've talked to him haven't you?"

  "If you mean Elim, yes I did," Amsha answered, " he told me that he called off the wedding but didn't say why. What happened?"

  "What do you think happened?" Julian answered testily, "Your son managed to foul up once again. Why start braking a perfect record now?"

  "What exactly did he say?" Amsha asked, ignoring Julian's comments.

  "Oh, he said something about doing it for my safety, but I know that was just an excuse. It took him long enough, but he finally came to his senses and figured out that I wouldn't be any kind of spouse for him," Julian answered tersely.

  Amsha could see the pain and confusion in Julian's eyes. " Julian, I know Elim and I don't think that's true. He must have had some kind of reason for his actions."

  "As I said, it was something about not being able to protect me. It makes sense to me. Why would he want to spend the rest of his life watching out for me," he replied curtly.

  "Jules, even though I still haven't figured out the whole story behind this, there is no reason to be taking the blame completely on yourself," she replied, taking his hand in hers and holding it there.

  Julian let out a long sigh. "Mother, if you don't mind, I think I rather be alone right now."

  Amsha figured she wouldn't be able to get much information from him anyhow. He was being stubborn - one of the traits he got from his father. She didn't want to leave him by himself, but if she didn't give him the space he was needing, she could end up making it worse for him. "Are you sure son?" she asked reluctantly. He nodded affirmatively. "Well, you know that you can always talk to me. I'm your mother and I love you."

  Julian's vacant eyes rested on her."Mother, I hope you don't take it the wrong way, but right now being told I'm loved doesn't hold much meaning to me."


  Dax's day had been a tiring one. It had seemed like everything that could go wrong had. The structural integrity field grids on the Defiant had been giving them fits, the optical data network had went down for several hours, and to top her day off, Worf had to back out of their dinner plans. Now she sat in Quark's across from Kira, who had rescued her from spending a boring night alone by offering to share dinner and spend a couple of hours in the holosuites with her. She was watching the door when she saw Amsha Bashir enter. Nudging Kira, the Trill held up her hand and waved to the older woman.

  "Hello girls," Amsha greeted as she took the seat Dax offered her.

  "How are you doing Mrs. Bashir."Kira asked.

  "I could be doing much better," she answered honestly.

  "How so? What's wrong?" Jadzia asked.

  Amsha motioned to one of the waiters before turning back to Dax. "It's Elim and Julian," she replied as the waitress took her order.

  "How are our two grooms doing by the way?" Dax asked with a smile, taking a bite of her Aubergine stew.

  "Not well. It seems that Elim has called off the wedding," Amsha replied at the startled expression of both of the other women.

  "What? Why?" Jadzia asked.

  Amsha took a sip of her ice-tea. "I'm honestly not sure. I can't seem to get a straight answer out of either of them. The most that I've been able to understand is that it had something to do with Elim not being able to protect Julian."

  "Well, after what Julian went though, maybe Garak thought that staying with him would put Julian at risk if someone else came after him,"Kira offered.

  "Now why would he get a ridiculous notion like that?" Amsha asked.

  Dax shrugged her shoulders. " Ruygo did make threats against Julian. Maybe Garak decided to take them seriously enough to do this." The Trill looked over to Kira who was studying the Hasperate she was shoving around on her plate. "It is rather strange though..they seemed to be doing so well together before the abduction."

  "I don't know what I'm going to do about them," Amsha replied unhappily. "I know they love each other."

  Kira cleared her throat. "Well, if neither of them are wanting to try and change the situation, maybe all that can be done is to be there for them and help them go on."

  Amsha turned to Dax. "If what you suggested is true, doesn't Elim realize that Julian isn't going to be any safer with or without him? Danger comes with Julian's position. Anytime you get involved with someone in Starfleet, you know that there are going to be times that their placed in danger because of the uniform and there isn't a thing you can do about it. That doesn't mean you turn away from them."

  "I know of many couples that'd agree with you. The O'Briens to name at least one," Dax replied thinking of all the couples of Starfleet officers and non-officers on the station and that she's met over the years. "When Worf goes out on a mission that I'm not comfortable with, I don't say anything because I know it's part of his duty and I have to respect that. I know he feels the same way when it's the other way around."

  "There's quite a bit of difference between Garak and the others," Kira pointed out. "There's been a lot of things he's done in his life that's made him a lot of enemies. You have to admit that puts Julian in more danger than he would be normally."

  "Kira, you've got to remember too that Garak's Cardassian. Many of the things that we see as being wrong isn't necessarily wrong by their standards," Dax pointed out.

  "There has to be something we can do for them," Amsha replied.

  Dax reached over and covered the older woman's hand with hers. "If you'd like, I could try talking to them. Maybe even see if some of their other friends will try to get through to them."

  "Thank you Jadzia. Maybe Jules will find you or one of his friends easier to talk to than his mother," Amsha replied.

  "Well, sometimes it is easier." Jadzia watched with interest as the Chief of Engineering entered the bar. "In fact, I think I just spotted an ally. Excuse me for a moment please."

  "Of course dear," Amsha replied and watched as the Trill left the table, honed in on the Chief, and cornered him.

  Kira watched the exchange too and looked back to see Amsha staring into the bottom of her ice tea glass, deep in thought. Kira wasn't sure what to make of the situation. She was as surprised as Dax was when Amsha told her of the break-up. She wondered if what she had told Garak might have brought him to the decision. ' Don't be ridiculous. You only made one comment...surly Garak wouldn't have cared about your opinion...would he? Even if he had, maybe they're better off." her attention was brought back to Julian's mother when she heaved a long, frustrated sigh. They were better off...weren't they?


  O'Brien wasn't good at dealing with other people's relationship problem. He didn't even like dealing with his own problems with Keiko. So why was he talked into this mission to talk to Julian? ' Because that Trill knows just how to talk you into anything Miles Edward O'Brien.' he told himself. She went into an elaborate tale of how Garak broke the engagement off and how Julian was so upset and how worried his mother was about them. When she had him look across Quark's to a very woeful looking Amsha, he couldn't very well say no could he? He smiled a bit to himself. As much as he acted like Julian annoyed him to no end, the fact was he was fond of the doctor - though he'd die before he'd tell him so. He knew how Julian could get when he was depressed and knew that he needed someone to talk to about it and he did consider himself Julian's friend. He figured that was the real reason he was sounding the chime to Julian's quarters.

  "Whoever it is, please go away," he heard Julian reply from the other side of the door.

  He could tell by the tone of voice that Julian was in a foul mood. ' This is going to be fun.' Miles said to himself. " Julian, it's me Miles. Let me in will you?" he waited for several moments and was about to ring the chime again when the door finally slid open. Julian was laying on the couch, looking up at the ceiling intently.

  "Didn't you hear me the first time?" Julian asked, sitting up and resting his forearms on his legs and glaring at the Irishman.

  "Look, I know what happened between you and Garak and thought that maybe you could use a friendly ear,"Miles replied. He hated wasting time on matters like these. He took a seat in a chair opposite Julian.

  "What happen? Was there an announcement at a staff meeting I missed? Let's go over the security reports. Has the plasma distribution manifolds been repaired yet? Oh, and by the way, Doctor Bashir and Mr. Garak are no longer engaged," Julian replied testily.

  "Actually your mother told Dax, who told me,"Miles answered and watched Julian roll his eyes.

  "Look, I really don't feel like talking about it right now," Julian replied.

  "Maybe it would make you feel better,"Miles suggested.

  "I highly doubt it," Julian replied dryly. "You know what I was just thinking about?"

  "What?"Miles asked.

  "I was just remembering the time when I overheard you talking to Kira, Odo, and Jadzia on the Promenade when Garak and I first started becoming serious. I remember how I heard you tell Kira that Garak was just a phase I was going through and how you doubted it would last because I couldn't seem to make any of my relationships in the past work out. Remember that?" Julian asked with a wry smile.

  "Julian, I never meant that and you know it,"Miles replied.

  "Oh yes you did or you never would have said it in the first place. It took this to make me see just how right you were," Julian remarked.

  " Julian, I may have felt that at the time, but things have changed since then,"Miles replied and found himself looking down at the floor in embarrassment because he did remember saying those things. "Since then, I've realized how much the two of you care for one another."

  "No, you were right. I never have been able to keep a relationship together. I was foolish to think this time would be any different," Julian replied in a crisp voice.

  Miles felt a strong urge to change the subject. "Look Julian, how would you like to rent a couple of hours in the holosuites, or maybe play a game darts,"

  "Thanks, but I'd rather be alone right now," Julian replied and pointedly looked at the door.

  "I just thought you could use some time away from your quarters. After all, sitting around your quarters all night mopping around isn't going to solve anything,"Miles said with a small smile.

  "Neither is throwing pointed sticks at a bloody board. And as for our little role playing games, I've had enough of holo-deaths to last me quite awhile thank you very much. Now, I'll ask you again to please leave me alone."

  Miles had no idea what Julian meant with the comment about the holo-deaths, but he wasn't about to push his luck by asking. At this rate, Julian looked to be about one step away from having security escort him out. "Hey, I'm sorry! See if I worry about 'you' again,"Miles replied and headed to the door.

  "Miles," Julian said in a softer voice, "Just give me some time all right?"

  Figuring that was as close to an apology as he was likely to receive at the time being, the Irishman nodded his head before walking out the door.


  The next afternoon, Dax spotted O'Brien with his head poked inside a replicator that he was working on.

  "Chief," she called out and had to smother a smile when she heard him thump his head on the top of the replicator and started mumbling a few things in Irish that she didn't think were pleasant.

  "What is it now?" he asked as he came out from underneath the bulky piece of equipment, rubbing his reddened forehead. "Oh hi Commander. What can I do for you?" he asked with a friendly smile when he saw who it was.

  Dax squatted down next to him. "I was just wondering how it went with Julian last night."

  "All he wanted to do was sit in his room alone. I offered to play darts with him and even use the holosuites, but he wasn't interested," Miles replied.

  Dax's brows knitted together. "Hmmm, you think I should try talking to him?" she asked.

  "If you do, be warned. He nearly bit my head off last night and I doubt he's doing any better today,"Miles advised.

  The Trill smiled brightly at him. "That's just because he hasn't talked to me yet," she replied with a wink.

  "It's your funeral,"Miles said, pulling himself back underneath the replicator. Dax kicked his foot when he started whistling 'Taps' and took off in the direction of the Infirmary.

  Knocking on the door, she got Julian to look up from a data padd he was studying. He gave her a small smile.

  "Hi," he greeted.

  "Hi. I thought you could use a lunch break and I could keep you company," she explained.

  "Thanks, but I have a lot of research to make up since I've gotten back and really couldn't spare the time," Julian replied and started to turn back to his console.

  Jadzia walked up behind him and put her hands on his shoulders and gently squeezed them. "Just thought might want talk. I know this has got to be rough on you."

  Julian closed his eyes and started to rub his temples. "Why does everyone keep asking me if I need to talk?" he asked rhetorically.

  "Because we care about you," Dax replied simply.

  Julian opened his eyes, and his expression softened as he looked at the Trill. "I know that and it is appreciated, really, but I just don't feel up to being very sociable right now."

  "I think O'Brien would agree to that." Julian gave her a sheepish look. "Don't worry, he realizes you didn't mean to get upset with him. After everything you've been through recently, I'd be surprised if you weren't upset."

  "You don't know the half of it," Julian assured her, suddenly feeling very tired.

  Dax pulled one of the stools underneath her. "Why don't you tell me about it. What exactly happened to you when Ruygo had you?"

  "Jadzia, it was horrid," Julian replied, images flashed through his mind - the drug induced delusions, the physical beatings, watching Garak split open in front of him. " he...I...I wouldn't even know where to start."

  "The beginning is usually a good choice," Dax replied.

  Julian looked at her, began to open his mouth, and shut it again. "I just can't. Not right now. Anyhow, Garak's decision was the right one. One of the things a good husband is suppose to do is protect their spouse. How can I do that when I can't even protect myself?"

  " Julian, it wasn't your fault. From what I've heard, you were surrounded," Dax responded.

  "That doesn't matter, Garak could have been killed because of me, because I didn't fight hard enough," Julian replied.

  "What are you talking about?" Dax asked.

  Julian realized she didn't know how they had been led into a trap because of him. "Never mind, like I said, I really don't have anything to say right now."

  Jadzia saw the invisible mask that formed over Julian's expression and she realized she'd just be wasting her breath if she tried to get him to go on any further at this point. "All right, but you know where to find me," she said and placed a kiss on his cheek.


  Kira was laying in bed and counting the bolts in the ceiling. She had been trying to get some sleep for the last hour but hadn't been able to quite thinking about Garak and Julian. It had two weeks since they had split up - two very long weeks. Julian had become a virtual recluse inside the Infirmary. He went in first thing in the morning and stayed long after everyone else went back to their quarters. She couldn't even remember the last time she saw him at the replimat getting anything to eat. O'Brien and Dax both had attempted several more times to get him to join them, but he always had an excuse handy as to why he couldn't. Even at the staff meetings that he was required to attend, Julian always looked like his mind was elsewhere.

  Then there was the other member of the couple. The tailor usually stayed inside his shop most of the time, but when there was the occasional moments when she would run into him ,like passing him in the hall, he always looked so desolate and listless. He tried to hide it, but every time she saw him, he looked like someone who had become defeated. Even though he was Cardassian, that didn't set right with her. All throughout the time she knew Garak and saw him deal with the problems that came from being exiled, coping the neural implant, even with Tain, Garak always put her in mind of a strong fighter. She had respected his determination to survive, but somehow it seemed like the fight had been drained from him.

  This afternoon at the replimat hadn't helped matters for her any either. She remembered her conversation with Dax all too vividly.

  "Look at him," Dax commented to Kira and nodded in the direction of the tailor sitting by himself. He had a bowl of Alterian chowder sitting in front of him that he was barely paying any attention to and he kept stealing glances at the Infirmary when he thought no one was looking. Heaving a weary sigh, he got up and emptied the nearly full bowl of chowder back into the replicator and slowly started to head back to his shop. " he's absolutely miserable and Julian isn't doing any better either. It's been going on too long and I don't know what to do about."

  "Oh come on Jadzia. They're both big boys, they can handle it," Kira replied casually.

  "You know, you almost seem happy about this,"the Trill commented, "Like your glad to see them apart."

  "I don't have any opinion of it one way or the other,"Kira replied.

  "It's no secret that you haven't exactly been one of their biggest fans," Dax pointed out.

  "So what? Maybe I do think Garak's done the right thing in leaving Julian alone,"Kira replied, trying to ignore the angry look coming into Dax's eyes.

  "Kira, how can you say that? Haven't you seen the two of them together? Remember when Garak first came to stay here and what he was like? Alone, cold, aloof, and distrustful. And Julian was so unsure of himself and lonely. They each have what the other is looking for and they're not going to find it anywhere else."Kira opened her mouth to say something, but decided against it. "Besides, you need to remember something else too."

  "What's that?"Kira asked, meeting the Trill's gaze head on.

  "Remember how Julian was there for you when Bareil died? Friends are suppose to be there for friends," Dax replied, drained the rest of her Raktajino, and left for OPS.

  Kira climbed out of bed and went to look out her viewport. It irritated her that Jadzia had been right. Julian had been there to listen to her when she needed to talk about Bareil and had she been a good friend to him in return? What would he say if he knew about the comment she made to Garak? Could she have, at least in a small way, helped to set the brake-up into motion? ' You know don't you that if you did, then that means you actually helped Ruygo get what he wanted.' the small voice nagged at her. ' All he wanted was to see Garak destroyed by taking the only thing that meant anything to him away...Julian.' She walked over to the replicator and called for a cup of Jumja tea. As she sipped the hot liquid, she couldn't escape her line of thoughts. ' Julian has been there for you on numerous occasions and this is how you repay him? And what about Garak? True, he's Cardassian, but what has he ever done to you? How would you feel if Odo or Jadzia had acted like you have?' As she stared out the viewport, sipping her drink, she realized there was only one course of action she could take. Her father had always taught her that there wasn't any shame in making a mistake if you took responsibility for it and tried to rectify it. Her decision made, she found her uniform and dressed quickly, then steered herself out the door and down to Julian's quarters.

  She rang the chime twice before the door finally slid open. Julian stood before her wearing a pair of blue and black flannel pajamas. His hair was badly mussed and his eyes were red and tired looking. "Kira? What are you doing here?"His face turned concerned. "Are you ill? What's wrong?"

  "No, no, I'm fine,"Kira assured him and watched the relief wash over his features. "I just needed to talk to you and didn't think it could wait."

  "About what?" he asked guardedly, but moved aside to allow her to enter. She walked over and sat down on the sofa and waited until he joined her.

  "It's about you and Garak," she answered, trying to figure out where she wanted to start.

  Julian let out a groan. "Major, as much as I appreciate...."

  "Wait a second," she interrupted. "Before you tell me you don't feel like talking about it, I didn't come here to make you talk. I came hoping you'd listen to me."

  "Go on," he prompted, even though she could almost feel his defenses coming up around him.

  "Well, I may have inadvertently helped Garak to think you where at risk as long as he stayed with you." she found herself looking down at Julian's bare feet, it was better than meeting his eyes.

  "What exactly did you say to him?" Julian questioned after a few moments of silence.

  "When we got back from Ratuka, I asked him how many more things from his past would come back to create problems for you and that we were lucky that you were even alive after everything that happened. I also asked him if that was the kind of life he wanted to give you,"Kira replied honestly. She started to feel like squirming when Julian just stared at her for a long while without even blinking.

  "What right did you have to say anything like that to him?" he finally asked. Amazingly, there was no trace of anger in his voice, but she could see the hurt in his eyes.

  " Julian, you have to try and understand my perspective on it. When I came into your cell when we finally found you, you were in a horrible shape. You were covered in dried blood, with cuts, burns, and bruises all over you. Garak was holding you unconscious on his lap while I listened to Ruygo make threats against you,"Kira answered.

  "Threats? What threats?" Julian asked, trying to comprehend everything she was saying.

  " Garak never told you?"Kira asked with surprise. Julian shook his head. " Ruygo told Garak that as long as he was with you, you'd never be safe. He said that he got you once and could do it again. That there was no where either of you could hide."When Julian didn't say anything, she continued, "I guess I believed him. I know Garak's done a lot of things in his past and I just didn't and still don't want to see you get hurt because of what he did. I still believe we were lucky to have gotten you out of there alive."

  Julian leaned back against the sofa and closed his eyes. "There were some moments when I didn't care whether I made it out alive or not."

  "What are you talking about?"Kira questioned.

  Julian opened his eyes, focused them on Kira, and leaned to rest his arms on his legs. " Ruygo physically tortured me by beatings, giving me drugs to make me delusional and other things I still don't feel like talking about, but it didn't matter. Every time I felt like giving up, I'd think about getting back to Garak and it made the difference. Then..." Julian began to trail off.

  "Then what?" she asked, leaning closer towards him.

  "Ticana fooled me into thinking she was Ruygo's slave and that she wanted to help me to escape. She led me to the controls to send the Defiant the distress call, but when I was cut off Ruygo informed me that it had all been part of a plan to lure Garak there for him to be killed." Julian watched as Kira's eyes grew angrier and angrier. "I was so sure that Garak was going to be killed and it was all going to be my fault. It wasn't long after that when I watched, bound by chains to the wall, as Ruygo brought Garak into my cell." Julian paused and tried to collect his thoughts and calm his emotions before continuing. It was the first time since the incidence that he had discussed this with anyone. " Ruygo told me how evil Garak was and told him how I was going to belong to him instead of Elim and how he was doing this for both of us. I couldn't stop him, I was useless. I tried to fight, but it just didn't seem to matter. I watched without being able to do anything as he pulled out his knife and..." Julian couldn't stop his wavering voice, or his moist eyes as he rested his elbows on his knees and his forehead against his open palms. "...split Garak wide open in front of me." Julian looked over at Kira who was watching him with a mixture of confusion and horror on her face. "It wasn't until I was on the Defiant that Garak told me what I had seen had been a holoprojection..with the drugs he injected me with, it all seemed so real..." Julian trailed off.

  "Oh Prophets Julian. Why didn't you tell anyone?"Kira asked, wiping away the tears that started to well up in her eyes.

  "I don't know. I just couldn't at the time. Maybe if I had, then I wouldn't still be having nightmares," Julian replied wearily.

  "Nightmares?"Kira questioned.

  "Ever since I've gotten back, I keep having nightmares about Ruygo," Julian replied.

  "After what you've just told me, I'm not the least bit surprised. Nightmares are common after the trauma you've went thought," Kira replied.

  "Well it's just one more thing to add to the list of reasons why Garak really is better off without me," Julian replied numbly.

  "What are you going on about?"Kira asked.

  "I wasn't able to hold my own against Ruygo's henchmen, I'm an emotional wreck obviously, and I almost managed to get Garak killed by leading him to Ruygo. " Julian answered. "It's no wonder he doesn't want the responsibility of watching over me...why would he?"

  " Julian, there's no need to feel that way. If we were all able to defend ourselves the way you want, then why would we need security? I'm a soldier, a resistance fighter, and I was kidnapped by the Cardassians. You weren't at fault and Garak knows it. Nightmares are normal too, they'll pass. Don't you see Julian, Garak thinks he's at fault. We've all been sitting around blaming ourselves instead of working towards the solution." Kira turned herself to look Julian directly in the eyes. " Julian, look at me, and tell me honestly, do you love Garak? Do you truly want to risk everything to spend the rest of your life with him?" "Yes," he answered without a pause or breaking contact with her eyes.

  With a firm nod of her head, Kira began pacing in front of the sofa. "All right, we need a plan, one that will knock some sense into Garak."With a sly smile, she chuckled as she said "Kira to Dax."

  " Dax here"came a sleepy sounding reply.

  "Don't ask questions, just get O'Brien, Odo, and Mrs. Bashir. Meet me in Julian's quarters. Out."

  A short while later the solemn group sat about Julian's quarters. Julian and his mother were off to one side. Amsha was smiling and talking animatedly, happy that her Jules was finally opening up to her.

  "I could hit him with a 'Breach of Promise' citation,"Odo replied.

  "We don't want to force him, we want him to realize just how much he and Julian belong together," Dax was quick to respond.

  " Elim does realize how much he needs Julian," Amsha began, "It's because he loves Jules so much that he's called off the marriage. He's afraid that Jules will get hurt because of him. He's so stubborn, they both are," Amsha smiled at Julian.

  "So, what we need to do is show him that he's hurt Julian more by leaving him," O'Brien added.

  "No!"Kira flashed a crooked smile. "We have to make him think that Julian is in more danger without him."

  "How?"Five voices echoed back at her.

  "First, we need to work on convincing him of how much Julian needs him and how dangerous everyday life is for Julian even without him. We'll take turns approaching him, Dax, O'Brien, Odo, Amsha, and then me. Although, maybe it would be better if I stayed out of that part." she ignored the questioning looks, and relaxed when Julian reached out to pat her hand. Taking a deep breath, she continued "Then we move in for the kill..."They gathered around Kira as she laid out her plan.

  "I can't do it," Julian protested, "I can't lie to him, no I won't be a part of this."

  "Jules, why don't you and I take a walk. No one is going to force you to do something you don't want to." Amsha guided her son out, pausing briefly to nod her head in agreement for Kira to continue in their absence.

  "Well, what do you think, will it work?"Kira looked at each of her cohorts.

  "Well, it definitely has possibilities. I'm in," Dax answered. "Although, instead of all of us approaching Garak, I might have a better idea."They all huddled in together again as Dax made her suggestion. "So?"

  "I love it,"Kira replied with a mischievous grin

  "I can't say that I approve,"Odo snapped. "However, if this plan of yours will help in getting things back to normal on this station, I'll go along with it."

  Kira stared at O'Brien, her eyes questioning. " Garak isn't exactly my favorite choice of a 'partner' for Julian ... Oh bloody hell, if it will make him happy, count me in."

  "Great, let's get started first thing in the morning!"Kira practically cheered.


  The next morning Garak weaved his way through the usual breakfast crowd until he spotted his target. He didn't know why he had received a message from Odo to meet him for breakfast, but since he had not been receiving too many invitations from anyone, he wasn't going to question it too closely. Since he and Julian had been spending so much time together, his breakfast meetings with the Chief of Security had fallen by the wayside, so maybe Odo was making a gesture to initiate them again.

  "Good morning Constable, and how are you doing this fine day?" Garak replied with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.

  "I think a better question is how are you doing?"Odo asked after Garak took his seat.

  "Pardon?" Garak asked as he arranged his plate in front of him and spread his napkin over his lap.

  " Garak, it's no use to play games with me, no matter how much I know you enjoy them,"the Changling noted how that brought a whisp of a smile to the Cardassian's mouth. "I know about the problems you've been having with Doctor Bashir, and I thought I would offer you someone to talk about them to,"Odo replied, "That is if your capable of having a serious discussion for longer than two minutes."

  "Constable, I assure you that is one subject matter I am nothing less than serious about," Garak said with a sigh, taking the Changling off guard by his candor.

  Odo pretended to sip his coffee and nibble at a pastry - as he usually did whenever he kept company with a solid while they ate. "As I hear it, you were the one to call off the ceremony. "

  "It would seem your sources are as accurate as usual," Garak commented, sipping his Rokassa juice.

  "What brought that decision about?"Odo asked, as his clear blue eyes locked with Garak's over the rim of his cup.

  'Would he understand?' Garak asked himself. As he thought about it, he realized he didn't have the energy or the interest required to make anything up anyhow. "You heard the threats that Ruygo made against the Doctor. I couldn't just stand by when I realized being with Julian put him at risk, especially when I don't know how many others are out there with the same intentions of deriving justice from my death."

  "What makes you think he's any safer without you than with you?" Garak remained silent. "Think about the risk involved with him just being an officer. You didn't have anything at all to do with the cave-in on Bajor that injured him and that could have killed him easily. He was there because his duty dictated it and wouldn't have made a difference if he were involved with you or not, but what do you want to bet that being involved with you at the time gave him the determination to survive?"

  Garak opened his mouth to say something, but just then Odo's com badge beeped.

  "Odo here," he replied.

  "Constable, I've just been informed that Ambassador Lojal is due to arrive on the station in two hours. Please make the necessary preparations," Sisko's voice on the other end requested.

  "Yes sir. Odo out,"the Constable replied as he folded his napkin and laid it neatly beside his plate. "Please excuse me," he said and rose from the table.

  "Of course. Duty calls," Garak responded.

  " Garak, think about this,"Odo suggested leveling his gaze with the tailor's. "You still care about him, so what's to stop someone from hurting him anyway? Wouldn't he be better off with you than apart from you?" Garak watched him as he left the replimat and headed towards his office.

  As Garak slowly chewed a mouthful of his breakfast, he did indeed start to think about what Odo had said. Was the Constable's point a valid one? Garak couldn't deny that the injuries Julian had sustained on Bajor had been serious, and had he not received the proper medical attention, they could have been fatal . There had also been the incidence with the Founders when Julian had been once kidnapped before when he had merely been on his way to a medical conference. It was true that Julian had been put into harms way on many occasions before they had even become a couple. Julian might not be entirely safe in his job, but did he really need the additional threat that Garak could bring? But then again, what if they stayed separated and someone from Garak's past decided to try and harm him anyhow. ' You might not be there for him if he needed you.' Had he acted too rashly? Perhaps in his haste to keep Julian safe, he hadn't stopped to consider all the other variables. ' What are you worrying about it now for anyhow? The damage has been done and there's no reason why he'd ever want to take you back even if you might have made an error. You saw the hurt in his eyes when he left. How could he forget that much less forgive it?' Garak emptied his plate without really tasting it. ' Julian doesn't need you anyhow. You made your decision and now your going to have to live with it.' Garak carried his empty dishes back to the replicator and glanced at the chronometer. It was time to open his shop. 'The one constant in your life Elim, better learn to enjoy it.' the small voice inside his mind reminded him.


  O'Brien pulled himself out of the plasma conduit that he had been working on most of the afternoon and looked for the time - 15:30. That meant it was time for his break and time to visit a certain clothing shop - or it's proprietor to be more precise. Ordering himself a cup of coffee, he took the cup and headed for Garak's shop, not aware there was a faint smile on his lips.

  He entered the shop, causing the door to ring, but he didn't see the Cardassian owner anywhere.

  " Garak?" he called out. "Are you here?"

  "Chief O'Brien," Garak replied in a surprised voice as he appeared from a room in the back. He had several pieces of cloth draped over his arms and a sizing scanner in hand. "I apologize, I was getting a customer's measurements in back. What can I help you with?"

  "It's Julian," O'Brien replied.

  There was a troubled look on O'Brien's face that the tailor found distressing. "What's happened?"

  "I don't know what's gotten into that head of his. A few days ago Captain Sisko received some message from the Admiral stating that in trying to ease the Klingons back into full cooperation of the peace agreement, they've reestablished a Federation/Klingon Officier Exchange Program where one officer from each starbase and station are transferred onto a Klingon ship and one of their crew is sent here in their place," O'Brien explain. "Some nonsense about helping to restore camaraderie and showing good faith. Each transfer lasts no less than six months."

  "That's all well and good Chief, but what exactly does this have to do with the Doctor?" Garak asked.

  "The bloody idiot has gone and volunteered for it!" O'Brien bellowed. "You're going to have to try and get through to him and get that ridiculous idea out of his head."

  "Chief, Doctor Bashir is perfectly capable of making his own decisions and if he feels he wants to go on this expedition, then he has the freedom to do so," Garak replied with more calm than he actually felt.

  Miles crossed his arms in front of his broad chest. " Garak, maybe I'm not making myself clear. We are talking about Julian..alone..for six months..surounded by Klingons. You know very well how 'irritated' they become when they think their honor has been insulted, and you also know how Julian has the knack of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time occasional. Maybe you haven't noticed, but Julian is also the type that can easily irritate you if you don't know how to take him, and Klingons aren't too fond of doctors anyhow. Usually if Klingons are so badly wounded that they need a doctor, they'll just perform the Hegh'bat."

  "Isn't that when Klingons commit ritual suicide?" Garak asked.

  "That's right. Julian has no business being part of the exchange. There's no telling what can happen. Did I tell you about the time our first officer aboard the Enterprise was part of that same program?" Garak shook his head. " he inadvertently insulted their first officer and ended up in a battle where the loser was suppose to die. Luckily he won and spared the Klingon's life. Think Julian would be as lucky?" O'Brien waited for Garak's answer, but one never came. "Look, I know you two have split up, but I know you still care about him too. His mother and I have both tried to talk him out of it, but he says his mind is made up - says there's nothing here for him. You've got to try and talk to him. Make him see how foolish he's acting."

  "Chief, what makes you think I still have any influence over his decisions?" Garak asked finally.

  "Because if you can't get through that stubborn head of his, no one else is going to be able to," O'Brien replied before turning to walk out the door, leaving a disjointed Cardassian alone to wait on his forgotten customer.

  As soon as O'Brien was out of earshot of the tailor's shop, he tapped his com badge.

  " Dax here,"came the Trill's voice.

  "Your turn," he replied with a smile.

  "Gottcha,"was all she replied, but he could hear the amusement in her voice.


  Julian on a Klingon ship for six months? Garak had spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about O'Brien's announcement of Julian's plans. Why would he even be interested in such a venture? Was he the one responsible for him making such a decision? ' You did cause him a great deal of pain.' Garak's inner voice reminded him. He thought of all the different things that could happen. What if the vessel went on a suicide run? Would Julian say something offensive to one of their crew members? The image of an angry Klingon wheeling a bat'leth at Julian's head came to mind. Garak didn't like Klingons, didn't trust Klingons, and gave only a handful of them any respect whatsoever - grudgingly at that. ' You know how naturally trusting Julian is anyhow, and there isn't going to be anyone to watch over him like there is here. No O'Brien, no Dax, only a ship full of Klingons...vial tempered Klingons.' Another image of Julian getting drunk on blood wine came to mind. Julian could get very insulting when he was intoxicated and he couldn't hold his liquor very well. Another thought crossed the tailor's mind. 'What if he were on a mission and got injured himself? Would they leave him to die an honorable death?'

  The tailor locked up his shop and walked over to Quarks and ordered himself dinner and a glass of Kanar. He was still deep in thought when he took his seat - almost oblivious to the two female voices that entered the establishment.

  "Your kidding! You've been trying to teach Julian Klingon?"Kira asked. Drink in hand, she found an empty booth three seats away from the tailor.

  "Well, someone had to teach him some of what I call 'survival' phrases," Dax replied, taking the seat opposite the Major.

  "Such as?"Kira asked.

  "Oh, you know, the usual. NuqDaq ' oh puchpa"e, or 'where is the bathroom' for one. Hlja' for 'yes' and Ghobe' for 'no'. " Dax replied.

  "Those could come in handy,"Kira agreed with a nod.

  "Then there was more practical ones that he would need like, Qel for 'Doctor', SID for 'patient' and 'oy"a' which means 'will it hurt'. I also told him to watch out if he hears ro'qegh'Iwchab unless he likes rokeg blood pie." Dax watched as the Major made a face at the thought. "Funny, that was Julian's reaction too," she replied with a grin.

  "What about some other phrases he could find very valuable if he were caught in an awkward situation?"Kira asked carefully.

  "What exactly are you talking about?" Dax asked.

  "You know..well, people say.,"Kira began, trying to figure out just how she would broach the subject. "It may be just hearsay, but I've heard that some Klingons have a certain...fondness...for humans. Does Julian know about it?"

  "Well, there's really no need to think he's going to run into any trouble, but I did teach him a few other phrases. For example, I told him to be careful if he hears the words 'kyamo' and 'lach'tel' together," Dax replied.

  "What does those mean?"Kira asked.

  "Attractive and boyfriend," Dax replied. "Then I taught him 'ghobe' or 'no', ' mev yap ' for 'stop', ' naDev va' ylghoS' meaning 'go away' and ' Qo' which means 'I refuse '," Dax answered.

  "What if those don't work?"Kira asked with concern.

  "I told him that there was one that has yet to fail," Dax replied. "'jlwuQ'."

  "What's that mean?"

  "'I have a headache'" Dax answered with a grin and started laughing as Kira started coughing and sputtering on her drink.

  "For crying out loud!"Kira replied when she could finally talk again, trying to ignore the Trill's giggling. "Oh come on. Let's see if Quark has our holosuite ready yet," she replied as she stood up. The Trill followed her.

  "Do you think he heard us?" Dax whispered to her.

  "I think so,"Kira whispered back with a grin. She risked a glance over her shoulder at Garak. He wasn't watching them leave, but she did notice that the knuckles of his hand holding the glass of Kanar were white and his foot was tapping impatiently under the table. "Correction, I know so," she replied with a laugh.

  Garak hardly ever got upset and he wasn't upset at the moment...he was down right infuriated! He hadn't even thought about what Julian might encounter if one of those savage animals turned their attention his way. Garak found him very appealing so why had it escaped him that a Klingon might get the same thoughts? The very idea of one of those creatures laying their hands on Julian's body made his skin start to crawl. There was absolutely no way that he was going to stand by and let something like that happen. 'Oh no, my Jahkim is not going to be on a Klingon ship if I have anything to do about! What have I done? I've got to stop him before it's too late.' he thought to himself. ' What are you going to about it? Why would he listen to you? He said himself that you have no claims on him.' the inner voice nagged at him. "I'll simply have to make him listen," he said aloud with determination.


  Worf was anything but pleased to be sitting on the biobed as Julian ran a tricorder over him. He always felt incredibly awkward anytime he was in the Infirmary. He disliked coming to doctors for anything. It went against all of his instincts.

  "Doctor, is this really needed?" Worf asked in a low and annoyed tone.

  "I'm sorry Worf, but you know Starfleet regulations. You have to have a complete physical every year. Your time has run out," Julian replied, entering data into Worf's medical file.

  "But..."the Klingon started to protest.

  "We're nearly done," Julian interrupted. "A few more tests and you'll be free for another year."

  "Doctor, I need to talk to you right now," Garak said storming into the Infirmary, hardly acknowledging Worf's presence on the biobed. "I've heard rumors that your going to be part of an exchange on a Klingon ship."

  "I'm not going," Julian remarked, not looking up from his data padd.

  "I think this has got to be one of the most foolhardy actions you've ever undertaken!" Garak continued.

  "I said I wasn't going. It was all a lie," Julian said again.

  "Do you even realized what a Klingon could do to you if you accidentally insulted him? Doctors are seen as a nuisance anyhow...they would rather commit suicide than get help from a Doctor. Not to mention wondering how you would protect yourself if one of the vulgar, uncivilized beasts happen to take a liking to you!!! You simply can't go. You may not think I have any claims on your decisions any longer, but you'll have to walk over my dead body at the airlock before I'll let you leave and that's final!!"

  " Garak!!!" Julian said loudly. He placed his hand on Worf's shoulder to silence the low growling he was now making.

  The tailor blinked at him. "What?"

  Julian sighed. "I said I wasn't going."

  Garak blinked several more times. "It's a lie?? You're not going?"

  "That's what I said, now if you'll excuse me I do have a patient to take care of, a Klingon patient!" Julian replied.

  "A lie? Whose lie?"

  " Garak, I don't have time for this! Kira's, go see Major Kira!" Julian replied dismissively with a wave of his hand. Garak gave him one final confused look before turning to the door. After he left, Julian turned back around to Worf. There was a twinkle Julian's eyes. 'It's actually working! I can't believe it, but it actually seems to be working!' he thought to himself.

  "Can I go yet?" Worf muttered.