Letting in Love
by Henrietta Wotton
Lake Entírakh sat in a small valley formed midway up the face of the tallest mountain of the Shimat chain that ran along the coastline of the northernmost tip of Cardassia Primeís northern continent. Here temperatures rarely exceeded 10 C. in full daylight--an unusually bright daylight--and fell well below freezing during the very long nights. Hardly a climate for heat-loving Cardassians, and no permanent Kardasi settlements had ever been established here. However, Lake Entírakh held a secret that the ancient Hebitians had discovered. Beneath it churned the molten core of a volcano not yet gone dead, as all the others in the Shimat chain had. Its waters therefore maintained a constant 27 C. temperature, and the Hebitians had duly established a combination resort and retreat here in the otherwise deserted mountains, its purpose to "chill the fevered spirit and warm the cold heart."
It must have been a remarkable sight in its day, Bashir reflected. A wall four meters thick and twenty meters high had ringed the entire lake. Archways opened out of it every ten meters, their interiors decorated in intricate patterns with thousands of tiny, multi-colored gemstones. At the portion of the wall which faced the entrance into the valley, a curving stairway led to the top. Garak told him that eight swaying rope bridges had allowed passage from one side of the wall to the other, but that a true spiritual experience required that a visitor walk the entire circumference, a distance of more than ten kilometers, before descending by these same stairs and then diving into the warm and welcoming waters. Now only about a fifth of the wall remained, in a dozen freestanding sections. The stairs no longer existed, the rope bridges had rotted centuries ago, and the gemstones had been torn out by generations of desperate men and women hoping to stave off starvation during one or the other of Cardassiaís recurrent famines. And yet, even in itís ruined state, the place was magnificent. Garak had planned the excursion even before they became lovers. "I wanted you to see what we were before nature conspired against us and we lost our way," he had said solemnly upon their arrival. "Fortunately, they had no energy weapons when the Hebitian civilization fell, and its traces still linger. All that was ancient and beautiful in my Cardassia has been vaporized clean and replaced with bright new Federation functional."
Their first day here they had hiked the entire perimeter of the lake in the four hours of daylight that came around between 26 hour stretches of chill darkness. Today, the second and last of their camping trip, they had spent in the water. Bashirís enhanced reflexes enabled him to catch in his bare hands a dozen of the silver and rose colored fish that darted everywhere in the azure green water. They planned to cook them over an actual fire when night fell and hunger beckoned. Then Garak had suggested they swim to the opposite shore and back. It surprised Julian somewhat how strong a swimmer Garak was for a man of his years. As long as the doctor did not particularly exert himself, the Cardassian kept pace at his side. Three-quarters of the way back, however, Bashirís exuberance took hold, and he crossed the remaining meters at the maximum speed his special gifts allowed, leaving Garak far behind.
Now he treaded water a small distance from shore and studied his loverís approach. Garak swam in a very peculiar way, at least to human eyes. He held the top of his head out of the water just below his nostrils, leaving the rest submerged. All four limbs churned underneath the surface as well, rarely causing the slightest wave or ripple. As Bashir watched, he realized that all those racist jokes about "Cardies" as lizards or snakes had got their reptiles mixed. What the man swimming toward him resembled was more powerful, more dangerous by far. And Julian had to admit that he had always been attracted to danger. Ah, my clever, charming crocodile, he said to himself, as he set out with rapid strokes to enfold the Cardassian in an embrace. Then, like a rescuer pulling a drowning man to safety, he practically dragged Garak ashore, where they made passionate love just as the sun began to dip beneath the horizon.
They were ironically spending the nights in pure Federation functional, a small emergency tent, thousands of which spread across the emptied landscape of Prime to house homeless Cardassians. Theyíd brought four portable heating units, and the interior temperature, even at night, was for Bashir a comfortable 15 C., but Garak complained constantly of the cold, and spent all his time wrapped in or huddled underneath three superinsulated thermal blankets. Julian felt lucky he had been able to persuade Elim to sleep naked under the blankets, but he found snuggling beneath them so stifling that he kept having to get up and cool off. Theyíd only been asleep an hour when he fought his way out of the covers, went over to the water container, and poured a cup of the icy liquid over his head. He dried off with a towel, stepped out into the cold night for a few seconds, and only then felt shivery enough to dive back into the overheated cocoon with Elim. The Cardassian was sleeping heavily, his breathing deep and regular. Julian slipped in beside him, his chest nestled against the scaly back, his head resting on the shoulder just where the neck bones stopped. Garak shifted slightly but soon grew still.
Why did I wait so long for this? Iím so happy, Julianís no longer sleepy mind told him. Unfortunately, his body told him something else. What was the matter with him, that he still longed to fuck Garak. Hadnít his lover shown him countless ways to experience exquisite pleasure without any necessity for penetration? Was it because most of his previous partners had been women, that he didnít think youíd really made love unless youíd stuck your cock in someoneís hole? He could just hear Elim saying, "What an unimaginative notion, my dear boy, so narrow-minded." Nevertheless his cock was now definitely ready to poke itself in between those silver gray buttocks. Bashir cursed his weakness and reached down to do something about the situation. As if it had a will of its own, however, his hand instead delved down into the scale-lined crevice. Garak stirred and murmured softly. Julian let his index and middle fingers probe further, past the guardian muscles, to stimulate the pleasure cluster he knew lay right beyond. The Cardassianís body jerked as if an electric current had passed through it. Now fully awake, he arched his back and moaned loudly. Julian rubbed harder and faster, and his loverís cries increased in tempo accordingly. "Oohh, my dear, go deeper, deeper," Garak whimpered.
"Iíd have to use my cock for that," Julian said ruefully.
"Yes, yes, do it."
What the hell was going on? After all Elimís protestations about not tolerating anal penetration? Was this another of his elaborate obfuscations, designed to work Bashir up into this very state? Well, he certainly wasnít going to refuse the long hoped for invitation. He quickly straddled his lover and thrust eagerly as Garak writhed in apparent ecstasy. Try as he might, Julian couldnít prolong the experience to the extent his partner would obviously have preferred. He came in a convulsive rush, and withdrew, rolling over on his back in a haze of bliss.
Without a word, Garak was on him, flipping him onto his back and pinioning his wrists with a powerful grip while he used his knees to spread Bashirís legs so that he could, seconds later, slam into him hard. Bashir was momentarily puzzled. Garak had shown absolutely no interest previously in playing rough, but then he had shown complete aversion to fucking, too. Obviously their sex games were simply being switched into a different register. Just enjoy the excitement, Bashir, he told himself.
Human anal clefts were definitely not self-lubricating, but fortunately the fine scales that lined a Cardassianís organ ruffled out, soft and moist, when the man was fully aroused. The first time he saw it, Bashir had thought "feather duster"; the first time he had taken it into his mouth, he revised the metaphor to "cotton candy on a stick." Still, the impact of Garak pounding away at him, coupled with the uncomfortable position of his arms, was not making this the most pleasant fuck heíd ever experienced. "Elim, can you take it a little easier?" he said.
For an answer, Elim jerked his arms back in an extremely painful way, and, matching his syllables to the rhythm of his thrusts, barked, "Doc... tor... for... once... in... your... life... just... shut... up."
Julian felt a little frisson of fear. This seemed to be something other than his partnerís desire for new kinds of sexual stimulation. Everything in Garakís voice said rage, not passion. The doctor reassured himself with the knowledge that his superior strength and agility would allow him to break free if he felt in danger of serious injury. Besides, how much longer could the Cardassian keep this up? He had always come very rapidly in Julianís hands or mouth. Now, however, he seemed unwilling or unable to let go. He grunted with each thrust like a man chopping away with an ancient axe at a tree that refused to fall.
For what seemed like an eternity to his partner, the Cardassian labored, until at last his body stiffened. He gave a shrill cry like that of an animal howling at the moon, and Julian felt the rush of warm liquid inside him. Then Garak uttered another cry, almost like a sob. He let go of Julianís wrists and clambered up. The doctor rolled over and got to his feet, seeing that Garak had retreated to the far corner of the tent. He was standing there naked, his back turned, and his whole body heaving convulsively. Partly it was the cold, but the rest of it was either grief or anger. Bashir couldnít tell. He gathered up one of the thermal blankets and made to wrap it around Elimís shoulders. Without turning to look at him, Garak pushed him away savagely.
"Elim, whatís wrong?"
"Wrong?" came a strangled reply. "Surely you cannot have failed to notice that I just raped you."
"Raped me? How can it be rape when Iíve been begging you to fuck me for the past five days. Granted you were a little more forceful than--"
Garak turned around then, his face anguished. "Oh, please, doctor, spare me the hair-splitting. It was my intention to violate you, to master you utterly, and I know that you are quite intelligent enough to realize it."
"All right," Bashir went on, carefully measuring his words. "You warned me that you wouldnít tolerate being fucked, and I pressed on anyway. Your reaction wasnít exactly welcome, but itís psychologically understandable. I shouldnít have been so eager to take a few drowsy syllables as consent. Although you certainly did seem to enjoy the whole process."
"Oh yes, I did enjoy it. Iíve never felt anything so erotic in my life. That was the problem." Garakís voice was filled with a bitterness and self-loathing Bashir had only heard once before, when the Cardassian was having his worst moments of withdrawal from the endorphin implant. "And just as my pleasure was about to crest, I heard HIM, as clearly as if he were standing in this tent. He laughed at me. ĎSo, Elim, at last we see you for what you really are. All that veneer of sophistication and cleverness, all that fine appreciation of literature and art you acquired under my protection, it canít hide the fact that youíre the bastard son of a street whore who can find no greater joy than letting himself be fucked up the ass by his betters.í Suddenly I was overcome with the irresistible urge to take you and dominate you and prove to Tain that he was wrong, that I belonged on top, that I was nothing like that contemptible piece of filth, Kadz."
"Kadz?" Bashir said incredulously. "Do you mean to tell me that you hate him so much because you think you might have become him?"
"Of course. Isnít that the obvious reaction? Suppose you were to encounter a young man who had been born with limitations similar to yours, and had not had the good fortune to be genetically enhanced. Wouldnít the sight of him fill you with hatred?"
Bashir shivered. The unreconstructed Jules was a figure who stalked his nightmares. "I think he might frighten me, Elim, but I wouldnít hate him. I would hope that I would simply feel sympathy for him."
"Pity," Garak snorted. "No thank you."
"Not pity, compassion. Is that not an emotion known to Cardassians?"
Garak didnít answer. Instead he began to put on his clothes, then to roll up the blankets. "Gather your things, doctor," he said at length. "I canít bear to remain here. Iíll drop you off at the nearest starbase."
Julian gripped him by the shoulders and forced him to look him in the eye. "I agree we should get out of here, but I wonít leave you like this. Weíll return to your house. Iíll move back into the guest room. Weíll forego being intimate until we can rebuild each otherís a trust, a step at a time. I wonít give up on us, Elim."
"Always the optimist," Garak whispered, his face a picture of hopelessness. "Very well, weíll go home together, for all the good it will do us. Although I canít fathom how you can stand to be anywhere near me, after what Iíve done."
Julian had lain in his bed sleepless, replaying the disturbing events over and over in his mind. So he leapt up immediately when the security alarm sounded. But Garak had reacted even more quickly. The Cardassian stood checking out the video feed from his external security cameras. Underneath the whine of the alarm, the doctorís ears discerned a series of dull thuds. Someone was pounding on the front door. Bashir came up behind Garak and looked at the screen as the rate of the pounding accelerated. Its source was about the last he would have imagined. Moxh stood outside, kicking at the door desperately while struggling to hold up Kadz, who leaned against his sister, supporting all his weight on his right leg, while the left dangled a few centimeters off the ground, twisted into an unnatural shape. A bone protruded at mid-calf. The boyís head lolled like a rag dollís upon the girlís shoulder. His face was a blur of blood and bruises.
"Garak, what are you waiting for? Let them in," the doctor insisted.
"Not so fast. It might be a trap."
"I doubt that he beat himself to a pulp just so he could get another crack at your replicator."
"No, but whoever did this to him might be using those creatures to gain entry." Garak gestured at Bashir with his disrupter. "Get your weapon also, and weíll risk opening the door."
Julian went to his room, shaking his head at Garakís paranoia. Still, he supposed that his friend had made plenty of enemies with very long memories during his career in the Obsidian Order. He would probably never be able to let his guard down. The doctor retrieved his phaser from his luggage and stood to one side of the door, covering Garak, as the Cardassian programmed it to open. The two young people stumbled inside as the door immediately slid back and locked behind them. Moxh looked around in dismay at the two menís weapons and froze for several seconds before pushing her brother toward the doctor. She uttered strangled cries of distress while imploring him with frightened brown eyes, still rheumy with the after-effects of her illness.
"My God!" Bashir exclaimed after getting a close look at Kadzís injuries. He swept the boy up in his arms and started barking orders, not now lover or houseguest but CMO. "Garak, beam up to your runabout and bring down the emergency medkit. Iím taking him into the guestroom. When you get back, Iíll need all the blankets you have in the house." The doctor half expected a protest, but Garak only nodded silently and did as he had been requested.
That Kadz had made it to Garakís house from the park, the assumed location of the attack, was nothing short of a miracle. The cuts and bruises looked to be a day or two old. His sister must have dragged him here slowly, meter by meter. The boy was now only semi-conscious, dehydrated and delirious. And in excruciating pain. Every step Bashir made, every arrangement of his patient on the bed brought a little bleat of agony. The doctor fumbled through his bag, took out the most powerful painkiller he had and injected Kadz with the maximum dose. By this time Garak had returned with the medkit. The doctor started some intravenous fluids and then began the arduous task of trying to repair the damage.
He found his efforts impeded, however, by Moxh, who was clinging to his robe and addressing him with a series of incomprehensible grunts. "Garak, take the girl into the kitchen and try to quiet her down, will you," he asked. But when the Cardassian approached, Moxh screamed and dived under the bed.
"She hasnít seen me at my most ingratiating,"Garak apologized with a shrug of his shoulders. "One has to admire her courage, returning to a house they had robbed, risking immediate confinement in a labor camp. She must love her brother very much. And trust in your compassion even more."
Julian smiled at Elimís managing to say "compassion" without a sneer. "Well, sheís at least out of the way at present. Itís probably best just to leave her there."
Refocusing his attention after the interruption, Bashir rechecked the readouts on his diagnostic instruments. They gave a grim account. There was internal bleeding where a cracked rib had punctured a lung and more from a lacerated organ that served Cardassians as both spleen and liver. He injected cloptamarine to slow the blood flow; to stop it would require surgery. An operation would also be needed on the crushed and mangled leg. For now he simply straightened it out as best he could, made preliminary repairs with a bone regenerator, and immobilized the limb in a cast. The other fractures, and there were many, fortunately had come as clean breaks, and the bone regenerator sufficed to mend them. Finally Bashir took out his dermal regenerator and worked carefully to restore Kadzís battered face, to reduce his swollen eyes and mouth to normal proportions.
Just as he erased the last bruise, Kadz stirred to consciousness. "Fedder?" he asked, confused. "Whereís Moxh?"
"She brought you here, sheís just fine," Bashir said in soothing tones. "What the hell happened to you?"
The boy tried to scoot up into a sitting position, but the effort soon caused him to groan and lie still. "Mmmmmmm. Head hurts, dizzy." he gasped. "What happened? Klingon. Made him mad."
"You certainly did," Bashir observed. "Whatever did you say to him?"
"Klingon asked... that I do Moxh for him... wanted to watch how Cardies sport. Then, heís not pleased... Said I donít do it like a real man--heís going to show me how... Fine I say, but thatís one strip more... Klingon just laughs, says itís free, Ďcause Iím such a... disappointment." Kadz paused and struggled for breath. "No one cheats Kadz out of whatís his, though. So I pulled him off her. Said cheaters got no honor. He grabbed me up by the leg... Donít remember much else..." he trailed off into a wracking cough that brought up a trickle of fresh blood to the corner of his mouth. "Not easy to talk," he gurgled.
"Donít try. I shouldnít have asked you to. Here, Iím going to give you something that will let you rest." Bashir filled a hypospray with a strong sedative and put it to Kadzís neck. The boyís eyelids fluttered a few times, and then he drifted off to sleep. The doctor bent down and gently pulled Moxh from under the bed, lifting her up to have a look at Kadz. She reacted with a happy chirp at seeing her brotherís face returned more or less to its usual appearance and then climbed in carefully beside him, draping one arm over his shoulder. Bashir covered both of them with two of the blankets Garak had brought in and then beckoned the Cardassian to leave the room with him. "I canít believe heíd take on a Klingon-- all for one strip of latinum," Bashir confided as they walked into the living room.
"Oh, it wasnít just the latinum, my dear doctor. Poor Kadz was defending his manhood. I suppose thereís been no one to tell him that he lost it the first time he bent over for a twofie gitter."
"I think heíll live," the doctor said as he reclined on the couch with his feet propped up on its arm. He stifled a yawn. "When his vital signs have stabilized, Iíll beam over with him to the nearest hospital, because heíll need surgery for the internal bleeding and a major reconstruction job on the leg."
"Julian, there isnít a hospital on Cardassia that would admit him. He wonít ever have had his birth registered. Heíll never pass the DNA scan."
Bashir shot him a disbelieving look. "You canít be serious," he exclaimed. "When they see how much heís suffering, they certainly wonít turn him away just because heís illegitimate."
"The most they will do is offer him a lethal injection to end that suffering," Garak explained calmly.
"Good heavens, itís not as if he were some animal whoíd been run down in the road."
"Thatís precisely what he is, to Cardassian eyes."
"With all the people you lost in the Dominion exterminations, youíd think that every surviving Cardassian life would be precious," Bashir said accusingly.
"Yes, but we lost an even greater percentage of our resources," Garak responded. "If the hospitals wouldnít treat accies during prosperous times, theyíre hardly likely to change now that everything from hyposprays to biobeds are in short supply."
It was true that the Cardassian medical institutions had only returned to a subsistence level of care, capable of handling the life-and-death cases, but little else. The doctor had noted in his report that the less seriously ill should be accepted into Federation hospitals for elective treatments for at least another year. Otherwise it would be unconscionable for Starfleet Medical to pull out completely, which had been the recommendation of the commission he had served on. "I suppose I could evacuate him out to the Infirmary on Starbase 419," Bashir mused, "but he really doesnít need to be dragged about again." Then his eyes lit up. "Wait, Iíve got a plan. The big medical supply depot for the relief effort is on Cardassia Two. If youíve got space you could clear, I can get what I need from the industrial replicators there, load them on your runabout, and perform the surgery here. It will only take a few hours."
"If I pack up the materials in my sewing room, it could serve your purpose," Garak replied.
"You donít mind?" Bashir felt a twinge of guilt. Heíd landed Garak with these two unwanted guests, and now he was about to turn his loverís home into an outpatient clinic.
"Consider it a small recompense--for what happened earlier."
"Right." Bashir ducked his head, feeling awkward. He dared to give Garakís hand a little squeeze. "Uh, Iíll go dress and then be off immediately. Kadz should stay asleep the whole time, with all the sedation heís under, but you might check in on him every half hour or so, to be on the safe side. Sorry to keep you up all night."
"I donít think I would have slept in any event," Garak said with a tight smile.
"No, nor I." The doctor took two steps toward the door, then stopped. "Um, Garak," he began, regarding the Cardassian with slight apprehension, "I hate even to ask this, but I can trust you not to give him a lethal injection, canít I?"
Garakís face relaxed into a more genuine smile. "It would be the best solution for all concerned, but you need have no fears. You will find him just as you left him."
Bashir piled the three supply containers onto the biobed, hopped up beside them, and beamed down from the runabout into Garakís sewing room. The Cardassian had moved all the roomsís regular furnishings up against the walls, leaving ample space for the doctor to set up his surgery. He activated the biobedís energy source and opened the first container, sorting its contents by the order of the planned procedures. He hadnít been there for more than a minute or two, however, when he heard several piercing screams, followed by a repeated anxious cry of "Heís going to catch me, heís going to catch me." Damn, Bashir swore. Kadz must be that one in a thousand Cardassians in whom cloptamarine induces nightmarish hallucinations. Elim will be delighted if heís been having to listen to that for long!
He had to open the second container and rummage through it before he came up with the anesthetic he planned to use for the boyís surgery. Loading a hypospray, he took off at a brisk pace for the guest room at the other end of the hall. By the time he reached the doorway, however, the screaming had died down into a few whimpers. The doctor halted at the threshold to take in an unexpected tableau. Garak was seated by Kadzís bed, his back to Bashir. His index and middle fingers were stroking the two bone-ridges that ran along the boyís jawline and met at a thirty degree angle just below the ear. "Shh, shh now," he said softly. "Youíre safe here. He canít hurt you any more." With his other hand, Garak was caressing the youngsterís hair. Moxh, sensing her brotherís distress, had retreated to a corner of the room, where she was signing emphatically to no one in particular.
Kadzís own hands groped about wildly until he grabbed onto the one with which Garak was stroking his face. He nuzzled against it with his cheek, heaving several contented sighs. "Mmm Mo-mo, Mo-mo," he finally whispered.
Julian stepped deliberately into the room and laid his hand on Garakís shoulder. The Cardassian didnít flinch. Well, Julian hadnít really imagined that he could sneak up on one of the Obsidian Orderís finest. "Heís not always a contemptible piece of filth, is he, Elim?" he said, leaning down to inject Kadz with the anesthetic.
Garak extracted his hand from the boyís grasp with great care and got up. "No, not always," he replied. Then he shook off his tender mood and gave the doctor that little smirk so familiar from countless lunch table debates. "Only when heís awake."
The surgery took three hours. Bashir did the trickiest procedure first, the one that required Garakís hands in support of his own: the reconstruction of the shattered leg. He had to piece the fragments together and then attach the ragged bone ends one to the other with synthetic skeletal grafts. Both knee and ankle also had to be replaced. To assure that the limb would heal straight, he put pins through the two artificial joints and attached four external knee to ankle rods to brace the leg and hold it immobile. This done, he sent Garak off to bed. Moxh had evidently been impressed sufficiently by the Cardassianís recent solicitude toward Kadz that she allowed him to lead her to the couch and tuck her in for what little was left of the night before he retired himself.
Bashirís genetic enhancements allowed him to function at his peak through extended periods with very little sleep, but he was more than ready to crawl into his own bed as the first murky light appeared above the horizon. He took off his uniform and threw it into a chair, told the computer to awake him in two hours, and was snoring softly two seconds after his head settled into the pillow.
He awoke to what passed for blazing sunlight on Cardassia Prime and knew that he had slept for far more than two hours. A check of the chronometer revealed his slumberís duration to be in fact nearly six. He scrambled up to go check on his patient, but before heíd even got his shirt on,
he encountered Garak at the door bearing a tray of hot Tarkalean tea and buttered scones
"Just sit back down on your bed, doctor. Your breakfast is right here," his friend said.
"I have to see if Kadz is doing all right,"Bashir protested.
"He is. Iíve been checking on him regularly."
"But youíre not a doctor."
"No, but I do know what normal Cardassian life signs look like, and which abnormalities indicate a crisis," Garak responded smoothly. "I can assure you that the boyís condition is quite stable." He produced a PADD from under the napkin, "This is the last five hoursí readout from the biobed. You can look it over while you drink your tea."
Julian reluctantly got back into bed and took up the PADD in one hand and the teacup in the other. Garak was right, the life signs were just as they should be. But they indicated that the patient had come out of the anesthesia three hours earlier. "Heís been conscious?" the doctor inquired, taking a bite out of a scone.
"Not entirely focused, but conscious, yes. A little scared, too, although he tried to hide it. Whether the source of the fear was me or that contraption on his leg, Iím not sure." Garak observed with his customary irony. "I told him that you would explain everything to him shortly and gave him a bowl of taspar broth. He ate about half of it before he dropped off to sleep again."
Bashir wolfed down the second scone and drained the rest of the tea. "Thanks for playing nurse and letting me sleep, Elim. Iíll go see to him myself now."
"Julian, donít, not yet." Garakís tone was half command and half plea. As the doctorís brow creased in puzzlement, the Cardassian quickly divested himself of his clothes and slid into the bed, his agile fingers moving over those places that produced in Julian the swiftest arousal. Then he turned over on his belly and spread out his legs. "My dear, I want you to come inside me, I want us to be as close as lovers can be."
"Elim, how can you be asking me this, after what happened last night?" Julianís mouth was hanging open in disbelief. "We agreed we would take things slowly from now on."
"Please, donít argue with me," Garak urged. "Itís what I want, and I want it now."
Bashir bent over and massaged the powerful neck. His cock ached to find its way into the welcoming cleft, but he held himself back. "Youíre sure?" he whispered into Garakís ear. "I donít want you to subject yourself to something that feels like a violation, just to please me."
Garak thrust his hips upward, brushing his buttocks against the doctorís erect organ. "A silly prejudice," he gasped. "Please, Julian, come inside me now."
Bashir hardly needed further persuasion, his own desire had grown so powerful. Yet he couldnít get rid of the fear that he would make some false move that would sunder them forever. You canít be overpowering him in any way. Itís a joining. Youíre becoming one. Every moment of pleasure must be secondary to that, he told himself. He entered slowly, gently, wrapping his legs around Garakís as he ran his hands rhythmically up and down the Cardassianís powerful gray arms. Very gradually the force and speed of his thrusts increased as their reciprocal sounds of pleasure struck up an almost musical counterpoint. As Julian approached his release, Garak took his loverís hand and drew it to his own fully expressed cotton candy. The Cardassian came in the doctorís hand a fraction of a second before Bashir stiffened and then relaxed with the rhythm of his own orgasm. He withdrew quickly and tumbled off Garak, seeking his loverís face and covering it with wave after wave of kisses. He felt absolutely overwhelmed with pure joy. "Oh, Elim, Iíve never loved anyone so much as I love you now," he sighed.
Garak stroked Julianís hair with both hands and sent his tongue probing deliciously deep into the humanís mouth, but suddenly the doctor broke off the kiss and sat upright, clutching the discarded covers to him. "Uh oh, weíve got company," he yelped, pointing to the doorway, where Moxh was standing, studying them with rapt attention. The minute Bashirís eyes lighted on her she skittered away.
Garak laughed heartily. "You can tell, my dear boy, that Iím not used to having children in the house. I never even thought to lock the door."
Before Julian could say anything further, the voice of Kadz echoed from the end of the hall. "Hey, hey, if you twofies is through fucking each other, this studder here is starving."
Garak got out of bed and put his clothes back on. "The operation has been a success, doctor, and your patient obviously is on the way to a full recovery," he observed, with an amusement tempered by an equal dose of annoyance. "Shall I prepare the meal for his highness?"
Julian still had eight days leave to spend with Elim, but it was clear that they were also going to have to share the precious time together with Kadz and Moxh. Garak immediately laid down some ground rules, which he asked the doctor to communicate to their guests, since both children were still deeply distrustful of their host. They were to learn and observe the rudimentary elements of Cardassian hygiene. The makeshift infirmary would be the place they both ate and slept; they were under no circumstances to intrude on Garakís bedroom when both he and his lover were in it. Nor were they to interrupt the meals Garak and Bashir shared in the kitchen.
The twinsí ragged clothing was filthy and blood-stained beyond restoration, so Garak made them each a set of sleeping robes, two daytime outfits, and also provided the unfamiliar novelty of several pairs of underwear. He also replicated for each a tooth polisher, a scale buffer, and a comb. Moxh, especially, was delighted with these new toys, and spent hours grooming her bed-ridden brother, who tolerated her efforts without protest, although he was obviously mortified at the spectacle he presented every time Bashir walked in to check up on him.
Today was the third since the surgery. Garak had a council meeting that promised to take up the entire afternoon. Julian, reading in the living room, had just managed to sort out all the guilts in one of the enigma tales in Garakís library--his first complete success after struggling through a half dozen of the damned things. He rose and stretched, then decided to go in and examine his patient. The doctor had by observation picked up the meaning of a number of Moxhís signs, and he gestured to her to leave off styling her brotherís hair so that he could make his examination. She hopped down with a smile and took up one of the sewing tools Garak had shown her how to use after he noticed her fascination with how he pieced the various cloth shapes together in order to produce their garments. She had gathered some of the scraps from his recycle basket, and, climbing onto her own bed, the girl took up again her project of attaching them together in a number of fantastic configurations.
The doctor ran his scanner over Kadzís leg and smiled with satisfaction at what it told him. The natural and synthetic bones were knitting together well. He clapped the boy on the shoulder. "Your leg is coming along splendidly, Kadz. Tomorrow I think weíll start letting you put some weight on it. I imagine youíre more than ready to get out of bed, eh?
"Sure, sure," the boy replied without enthusiasm, his attention focused not on his physician but on his sister. Then he turned toward Bashir with an unusually earnest expression. "Fedder, the old twofie bought Moxh fair up. I know the girls donít excite him, but maybe he could keep her as his slavey, let her clean and fix, soís he donít have to mind about the dirty work?"
"Garak wouldnít want her here, Kadz. He only pretended to buy Moxh so he could get you both out of his home as quickly as possible."
"Oh, thatís a ruffler." The boyís countenance was glum.
"Why would you want her to be his Ďslaveyí anyway?"
"Sure youíve grabbed it, Fedder, how happy she is in this gitter house. Soft bed, clean clothes, food for the asking. Kadz wonít ever get her those, no matter how hard he sports. Sheís never been as strong as me, and ever since her acci died, she donít have much heart for the work. After that Klingon, I donít think sheíll ever do a sport again. Kadz canít get enough on his own to keep us both." He lifted up his broken leg and tapped it up and down on the bed several times. "Canít even get enough to keep myself these moons. Moxh stays with the twofie, at least Moxh donít starve."
The doctor just stared at him for a second. What have you been thinking Bashir? Youíre going home in less than a week, and you know that Elimís only letting them stay here to indulge you. What exactly did you suppose was going to happen to them when youíd gone? Maybe Elim is right to distrust compassion. Shaking off such doubts, however, he grasped the boyís shoulder and said to him earnestly, "Donít worry. Iíll see to it that neither one of you starves."
Kadz shook his head. "That Damar, the one in our park, used to come on the big screens. Once he told us, those Fedders always think they can save everyone just by wishing. Kardasi know thereís plenty of things--nobody can save," he said pointedly.
"Well, despite Damar, I prefer to cling to my Federation delusions a little longer," Bashir responded stiffly, and left the room.
He went immediately to Garakís comm console and logged on. The girlís deafness might actually provide an opportunity for placing her. He searched his enhanced memory. Which one of his medical school classmates was it who had gone into speech and audiology? Right, Bhatt, the one with the hearing-impaired parents. "Computer, find comm location for Bhatt, Dr. Adger V...
"So Adger Bhatt told me about the research his sister was doing into gestural communication, and she told me about the Institute on Camerzion." Julian was in full explanatory mode, excitedly filling Garak in over dinner of the positive results of his search for a better life for Moxh. "The Camerz have no vocal chords--their mouths go directly into their stomachs. They communicate with their hands and their facial expressions. Theyíre the leading experts on all kinds of sign language in the galaxy, and they maintain a training program for gestural speakers from non-gestural species. Of course thereís a waiting list a kilometer long, but they reserve spaces for any subjects needed by their resident scholars. As luck would have it, Professor Bhatt is a linguist who studies gestural systems unique to a few individuals. Sheíll take Moxh to the Institute and map out the system she and Kadz use with each other. In return sheíll teach the girl one of the standard gestural languages that universal translators can handle. And the Camerz are also working on a chip that can be implanted behind the retina and then convert speech into sign. She might not want to go that far, but at least sheíll have the choice and--" Bashir stopped for breath, at the same time noticing Garakís preoccupied air "--you stopped listening to me about five minutes ago."
"Youíve found the girl a school where she will learn to communicate with someone other than that reprobate brother of hers," Garak said. "Iíve heard every word youíve said. I donít suppose they are going to invite him to Camerzion also?"
"Professor Bhatt will want to observe the two together. I was hoping that youíd let them stay on here until she arrives next week. But, no, she wonít be taking Kadz with her. I-I suspect youíll have to send him to me on the station. Heíll probably cause as many problems as that young JemíHadar Odo tried to tame, but I canít think of any other alternative until his leg heals."
"I think it would be better for all concerned if Kadz remained here."
"I agree that he shouldnít necessarily leave Cardassia, but thereís no way he can survive on the streets now," Bashir replied.
"You misunderstand, Julian. I meant that Kadz should remain here, in my house."
"You canít be serious," Bashir exclaimed. "The very sight of him makes you livid."
"Ah, but the sight of you makes me indescribably happy. Youíll want to check up on him often, like the dedicated physician you are. If heís here, that gives you an excellent excuse to come see me. You know Iím never without my ulterior motives."
"I donít need any excuses to come see you. I love you."
"Not an excuse, then, but an explanation-- to your colleagues, in case youíd rather not tell them about your devious Cardassian lover," Garak said.
"Look, Elim, Iím not ashamed of our relationship. If this is about my not resigning my post on DS9--"
Garak put his hand to Bashirís lips. "Of course itís not. I donít expect you to change everything in your life just because weíre lovers. As Preloc says, ĎTo have oneís beloved in oneís arms for only an hour suffices if oneís beloved dwells always in oneís heart.í Besides, Iím probably doomed to end up Cardassian ambassador to Bajor, and youíll eventually have more than enough of me in your quarters every night complaining about quarrelsome Kais and Vedeks and First Ministers. In the meantime, you must allow me my little intrigues. I canít let my skills get rusty." He folded his napkin and reached for Julianís empty plate . "Iíll clear up, and then we can go find out how well our guests take to the new futures we have mapped out for them."
The doctor went in alone to tell Kadz of the plans for Moxh. The boy listened to him intently. When Bashir had completed his recitation, he inquired, "This Ins-ti-tute that will study Moxh, youíre sure itís no hospital to cut her up?"
"Of course not! Itís really a school. The researchers will learn from Moxh, and sheíll learn from them. Sheíll have a room all to herself and everything she wants to eat."
"Canít say no then," Kadz beamed.
"Now Kadz, you do realize that Camerzion is very far away. You and Moxh may not see each other for a very long time. I know how close you are. It may be hard." The doctor didnít want to deceive the boy that the advantages of the proposition came without any cost.
"Hard, yes, but has to be," Kadz said. "Better that Moxh gets close to other studders than Kadz. Lately sheís been talking that no one does her like her brother, wants us to go off by ourselves and have some accies. Guess she thinks their foodís going to fall from the sky. But even if it did, we canít be doing the rest. Ara Beldon, the one that knows all about how babies come, she says that itís not the best thing for sisters to have accies with their brothers." He turned an inquiring countenance toward Bashir. "That true, Fedder?"
The doctor did everything in his power not to sound judgmental. "Yes, itís not at all the best thing , Kadz."
The boy sucked in his breath sharply. "Then sheíll go to the Institute, and Kadz will stay behind. If I tell her slow, sheíll be ready when the study woman comes to take her."
"Good man," Bashir said, impressed at this unexpected capacity for self-sacrifice. "Itís not just Moxh whoíll be well cared for, though. Garak has agreed to let you stay with him until your leg is better. Here he is to tell you about it himself." This was the cue for Garak to enter, but before he had taken two steps into the room, Kadz delivered his analysis of the situation.
"Itís fair, I nabbed his keepings, cheated him out of the latinum rock. He gets more from working me than calling sec." He looked Garak up and down with an appraising eye. "Wonít be so bad. Kadz been fucked by half the twofies on Prime, lots of them older and uglier than he is."
"No, no, youíve got it all wrong. Garak isnít demanding anything in return for his hospitality--certainly not sexual favors."
"Why else would a gitter keep an acci around?" Kadz asked skeptically.
Behind him, Bashir heard Garak suck in his breath, much as Kadz had done moments before. "No other reason Kadz. Except that Iím not a gitter, Iím an acci, just like you."
"You lie!" the boy declared.
"Frequently. However, this happens to be the truth." Kadz looked with incredulity at Bashir, seeking confirmation. The doctor nodded.
"Canít grab it. No acci gets a big house like this. ĎCept maybe the Jemmies got his keeper, and heís just squatting."
"My motherís... keeper took an interest in me when I was small," Garak explained. "He gave me the opportunity to learn what he could teach me, so I could become an asset to the state, rather than a nuisance to it. Iím willing to pass on that opportunity to you."
"Why? You donít even like me."
"And I imagine I will like you even less before our time together has ended. However, these days Cardassia is in no position to throw away any of its people, even impudent street boys."
"I hope you can appreciate the chance Garak is offering you," Bashir intoned sententiously, all the while wondering why this was the first he was hearing of this motivation for Elim to keep the boy with him.
Garak raised his eye-ridges slightly at Julianís pronouncement. "The doctor has, however, mislead you in respect to my requiring nothing in return for my hospitality. Becoming capable of productive service to the state will require extremely hard work from you."
Kadz hardly looked overjoyed at the prospect. "Kadz says no thanks, you call sec, right?"
Garak grabbed Bashir hard by the wrist to forestall any indignant denial by the doctor. "Thatís right. Hard work for me or hard labor for the security forces."
"Guess you win then, old twofie."
Garak stepped forward and grabbed both the boyís wrists even harder than he had Bashirís. "All right Kadz. Weíre going to have your first lesson right now. Kardasi is a rich and beautiful language. You will use it properly and respectfully in this house. The correct response is "I accept your offer, Garak."
"I accept your offer, Garak," the boy spat out, his eyes blazing defiance.
"Good." The Cardassian released his grip. He gave Kadz his characteristic little mocking bow of the head and walked out.
Whew, what a battle of wills this is going to be, Bashir thought to himself. Before going out himself, he bent down and said to his patient. "Before you think about taking Garak on, Kadz, let me give you a little advice. Heís the man who made it possible for your Damar to drive the Jemmies out. After facing down the leader of the whole Dominion, I donít think heíll have any trouble with you."
And Kadz, his eyes as big as Primeís two moons at full, for once had not a word to say.
The day he had to return to Deep Space Nine came all too soon for Julian Bashir. Being apart from Elim, having to explain things to Ezri--it wasnít going to be easy. Yet the joy these past days had given him made any future difficulties appear eminently surmountable. He smiled as he folded each of the six pairs of the briefest of silver silk briefs his lover had made for him and packed them at the top of his travel bag. "The more I have to peel off that lovely body of yours," Elim had said, "the more satisfying it is." Julian then closed the bagís fasteners, picked up his uniform jacket from the bed and put it on. A glance at the antique Cardassian chronometer told him that they wouldnít have to leave for the spaceport for another quarter hour. He sighed and went into the living room.
Garak was sitting on the couch studying a PADD; Moxh, curled up beside him, was concentrating on piecing together a pile of colored cloth squares according to a simple pattern Garak had provided. In contrast to these two still figures was Kadz, fidgeting like mad in his seat in front of the computer console. The boy took Bashirís entrance as a welcome cue to swivel his chair around and hop up on his good leg. He limped energetically toward the doctor and reached for his bag. "Ready to go, Fedder? Kadz will take that out and beam it to the runabout."
Garak rose and put his hand on Kadzís shoulder. "Kadz will do no such thing. Kadz will go back to the computer and attend to his lessons."
"Lessons? Stupid time-wasting more like--ugh" As the boy was in the middle of his protest, Garakís hand slid up the neck bones, provided a little pressure, and Kadz was suddenly flailing like a sea-gettle washed up on shore. Garak caught him before he fell, dragged him back to the computer, and with another touch to his neck restored his muscle control.
Despite the painful correction, Kadz was unrepentant. "Aw, Garak, whatís the good of lessons for an acci?"
"Iíve told you that youíll have no chance of getting off the streets and being of service to the state unless you acquire some useful skills."
"Sure, sure. And then what? Cleaner at Central Waste Extractionís the best state service theyíd trust to the likes of Kadz. Iíd rather stay with the sportiní."
"Until another Klingon you insult decides to finish the job?" Garak inquired acidly. This reminder of his failure finally sufficed to quell the boy. He leaned forward, crossing his arms on the desk and balancing his chin on them with a surly expression. "Kadz got honor too, not just those Klingon gitters," he muttered.
Julian patted him on the head. "Of course you do," he said earnestly, casting a reproachful look at Garak, who however showed no remorse. True, that itís a hard case to make when youíve named yourself after your own testicles, the doctor thought. That thought led to a question. "Kadz, did your mother ever call you and Moxh by different names than you have now?"
The boy nodded, "Jilana"--he motioned toward his sister-- "and Jogal. Rich gitter names. Our mo-mo was a dreamer." Kadz gave a little snort. "How our street mates laughed when we said Ďem. Dropped Ďem soon enough for names more fitting."
Garak knelt beside the boy and held him with his famous interrogatorís stare. "Listen, you learn what I can teach you, and I promise you that Iíll find you work far more to your liking than either sporting or waste extraction maintenance."
The boy regarded him with suspicion. "No lies, Garak?"
"No lies, Jogal." Garak insisted. "Now, while I take Dr. Bashir to the spaceport, you will therefore memorize every single symbol on those five screens and be able to reproduce them for me, in order, by the time I return. Is that understood?"
"Understood, Garak." Kadz sighed loudly and screwed up his face into an exaggerated representation of concentration as he stared at the computer.
"And the next time I come back to check on your leg, you can amaze me with your powers of recall," Bashir said.
The boyís face brightened. "Will do Fedder. And you can count on Kadz to see the old twofie here donít get too lonesome those moons, case youíre worried."
Garakís hand hovered over the boyís shoulder again. "Ah, my dear pupil, another lesson youíre going to learn is the positive effect of abstinence in cultivating self-discipline."
"Hey, hey, a sport canít do lessons all the time."
The hand moved lower, but did not go for the nerve. "True. And when you need some relaxation, you can do some needlework. Perhaps you have as natural an aptitude as your sister."
Kadz laughed. "Studders donít do no sewing, not this one at least."
"I hardly think that someone who boasts that heís Ďbeen fucked by half the twofies on Primeí is going to suffer any further damage to his masculinity because he knows how to hem a pair of trousers in an emergency." The hand rested lightly on the boyís shoulder. Kadz lowered his eyes and chewed on his lip. He reached up and carefully removed Garakís hand. "Kadz has to work on his screens," he muttered. Garak stepped back and said, "I think we should be going, Julian."
Bashir clapped Kadz heartily on the back, but the boy shrugged him off and continued to stare at the computer display. The doctor then went over to Moxh and gave her a hug and planted a kiss on her forehead. She favored him with a dazzling smile and one of her little happy sounds. Heíd figured out the sign she used for good-bye and made the gesture to her. The smile faded. The girl bent down and returned to her sewing. Evidently she and her brother handled partings by ignoring them. Garak had already stepped outside, and Bashir, feeling ever more reluctant to go, nevertheless saw no further reason to linger.
Garak carefully programmed the outside door locks and then tilted the transporter device around his wrist toward Bashir. "Shall we?" he asked.
In these last few minutes alone together in the runabout before they would have to part for at least a month, Julian knew he should not breathe a word about Kadz, who always seemed to be annoyingly tangled up in their relationship. Yet he had nagging doubts as to whether leaving the boy with Garak was a good idea. "Elim," he ventured, "donít you think youíre being awfully hard on Kadz- on Jogal?"
"Julian, every day of that boyís life heís learned that gentleness, that compassion are weaknesses he should relentlessly exploit in others and crush absolutely in himself if heís going to survive. He never thanked you for saving his life, did he? And he never will. If there is even the slightest chance he is to learn to respect himself, to set worthy goals and persevere until he meets them, to become anything more meaningful to his devastated planet than a sexual parasite, then I cannot afford to let up on him for a minute." Garak paused and shook his head. "Itís probably too late. Heís done as he pleases during all the years that properly raised Cardassian children learn to subordinate their wilfulness to the greater good of the state."
"What will happen to him, if you fail?"
"When his injuries are healed, Iíll send him back where he came from. Heíll be no worse off there for my tutelage. On the slight chance that he applies himself to his lessons in good faith--well, the government is establishing residential schools for the many orphans the Dominion has left us with, and if the boy had my recommendation, the authorities would probably not look too closely into his background. I warn you though, my dear Julian, if that happens, and he should come to us on his holidays, I will not have you destroy all my hard work by infecting him with your sentimental Federation ideas."
Bashir leaned over and kissed him. "Oh, Elim, I do love you," he said.
"So you have convinced me."
Bashir felt a twinge of disappointment. Come on, you didnít really expect him to say he loved you, not this soon. That would be just as likely as an expression of gratitude from Kadz.
However, Garak had already deciphered his loverís countenance. "Youíre unhappy, are you, that I didnít return your declaration of affection?"
"No, itís all right, Elim. I know youíre not the type to wear your heart on your sleeve."
"What a gruesome expression!" Garak said with a teasing air. "But surely youíre aware how often Iíve told you I love you."
Bashir wrinkled his nose to nearly Bajoran proportions to express his exasperation. "Really, Elim, I donít think thatís something I would have forgot!"
"Why, Julian, my dear, I tell you I love you every time I ask you to come inside."
DISCLAIMER: Paramount Pictures owns these characters and situations, except for the ones I made up.
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