DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Star Trek:Deep Space Nine and its characters are copyright Paramount and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan December 1995.

NOTES: This story takes a look at what might have happened in "The Die Is Cast" had Julian, not Odo, gone with Garak on the runabout to investigate what had happened to Enabran Tain. What would Garak do if he found himself in the position of having to torture Julian in order to prove his loyalty to Tain? And what effect might the experience have on the ongoing friendship between Julian and Garak after they return to DS9? Also, please remember this story was written before it was revealed that Tain was Garak's father, hence certain assumptions were made...

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

by Karen Colohan

With an air of trepidation Julian Bashir looked around at the small room he found himself in. The furnishings were sparse, nothing more than a narrow bed, a single chair and a small table. It was not explicitly a prison cell, but Julian knew perfectly well that a guard waited outside the locked door. He had no illusions as to his status here on the Romulan warbird, but for his erstwhile companion things were a little different...

Julian sighed. How quickly Garak had renewed his allegiance to Enabran Tain, but could the doctor really blame him for that? This was after all precisely what the Cardassian had been dreaming of throughout his years of exile on Deep Space Nine. Now, finally, Garak had been given the chance to take his place at his mentor's side once more, with the promise of reinstatement to his old position within the Obsidian Order beckoning. How could Julian expect the tailor to have rejected such an opportunity? And yet, strangely, he felt disappointed. Somehow he had hoped that Garak had moved beyond such things, formed new ties. Now it seemed to him that he didn't know his friend as well as he had thought he did.

Slowly Julian paced around the small quarters. He wondered idly if the transmission he had sent to DS9 as the warbird had locked its tractor beam onto the runabout had got through before the Romulans jammed the frequency. Perhaps help was already on the way. In the meantime what did Enabran Tain and his allies have in mind for him? Julian had seen the faint hint of amusement in Tain's eyes when he had recognised Garak's travelling companion, but as to his intentions... And where was Garak now? Would he be able to bring himself to face his friend, to try and explain exactly what was going on behind that enigmatic blue gaze?

Julian stopped pacing abruptly as the door slid open. He turned, all his senses on alert, to see who had come to break the monotony of his captivity. As if the Cardassian had been summoned by his thoughts the doctor found himself looking into the impassive face of Garak.

"Garak! There you are. I was wondering how long it would be before someone told me why the hell I'm being kept locked up like this." All Julian's irritation spilled over in the face of the Cardassian's calm, unruffled demeanour. Garak spread his hands in a placating gesture.

"My dear doctor," he began contritely, "I'm sorry it was necessary to restrict your movements like this, but our Romulan friends are a little cautious about uninvited guests. I trust you haven't found your accommodations too uncomfortable..."

"Is that all you have to say to me, Garak?" burst out Julian in frustration. "You hand me over to the Romulans without a second thought while you simply walk back into your old position at the side of a man who's just tried to have you killed because you know too much about him - and then you calmly come in here and ask me if the accomodations are to my liking!" Julian stared at the Cardassian in disbelief. "That falls a little short of my idea of a satisfactory explanation."

"Believe me, doctor," said Garak gently, "if it were my decision you would have been set free at once and allowed to return to DS9. However, Tain and his Romulan friends are of the opinion that you have information which could prove useful to this operation."

"What?" Julian stalked up to the tailor, his expression set and angry. Fierce brown eyes met and held cool blue ones, separated by scant inches - Garak was the first to back down.

"I'm sorry, doctor, there's nothing I can do," he said slowly, the faintest hint of emotion colouring his words. Garak turned away, not wanting to confront the censure in the doctor's heated gaze. A long moment of silence stretched between the two men before Julian spoke again.

"So, Tain still doesn't really trust you then," he observed shrewdly. Garak's shoulders tensed almost imperceptibly and Julian knew his words had hit their mark. "What information precisely does he expect you to obtain from me, Garak, and what will he do when you have to go back to him and say that I have no intention of telling you anything?"

"Doctor, at times you can be most infuriating," sighed Garak as he swung back to face Julian. "At the moment though you are simply being foolish. I'm trying to help you. Can't you see that?"

"No, I can't. All I see is someone I considered a friend making the biggest mistake of his life," said Julian sadly. "Tain's using you, Garak - he's using both of us. He knows I'm just a doctor and that I don't know anything of strategic value..."

"You have access to a great many files, doctor," interrupted Garak. "You're a resourceful, well-informed young man. I'm quite sure you've read the most up to date files on the Founders and the Federation's plans for dealing with the threat they pose. All I'm asking is that you share that information with me. Why, doctor, you're usually so keen to engage me in conversation - so just think of this as another of our little discussions over lunch." The tailor essayed a bright smile. He rather suspected it turned out as a pained grimace. Why couldn't the doctor see that he was doing all he could to help him? Why did he have to be so stubborn - and why did he have to reinforce Garak's own nagging fears about Tain's lack of trust...?

The tailor pushed those thoughts firmly from his mind. He'd been given a job to do - one he was good at - obtaining information. He intended to do that job with his customary skill and efficiency. He was finally back at Tain's side where he belonged, where he had dreamed of being for so long - that was what mattered now, not some foolish attachment to this intransigent, beautiful, young human... Garak looked up to find Julian's expressive brown eyes staring at him appraisingly. The direct gaze disconcerted the Cardassian. Damn you, doctor, I've let you get too close. You can read me too well and that knowledge weakens me... Deliberately Garak hardened his expression.

"Well, doctor...?"

"I'm sorry, Garak, I can't help you." Julian's eyes darkened. He could see the conflict in his friend, but he just wasn't prepared to accept that Tain was toying with him. In any event, considerations of friendship had to be secondary now. Julian wasn't about to betray Federation secrets to the Tal Shi'ar - not after their recent abortive attempt to destroy the wormhole.

Garak sighed. He hadn't expected the doctor to react this way - or had he? The young man doubtless viewed his actions as a betrayal of their friendship. And it is! a small, but persistent voice in the Cardassian's mind protested. No, he couldn't afford to entertain such thoughts...

"Doctor, why don't you take a little time to reconsider your decision," said Garak reasonably. "I'm sure you'll see that it is in your best interests to be co-operative. I'll be back soon and I hope that you won't disappoint me." With a bleak smile Garak turned and left the room.

Julian looked after the retreating figure sadly. Why did it have to happen like this? He knew how much Garak longed to return home to Cardassia, but would Tain truly take him back? The doctor was very much inclined to doubt it - he hadn't forgotten his first encounter with the former head of the Obsidian Order and the harsh words he had spoken about his former operative... And how could Garak simply ignore the fact that Tain had sent an assassin to kill him?

Love is blind. The errant thought drifted through Julian's mind. Was that what it was? It would certainly explain a great deal about Garak's recent actions - and his words during their journey aboard the runabout. The doctor sighed deeply. If it were true... In spite of his own precarious position Julian's compassionate nature made his heart go out to his friend. Poor Garak...

At that moment the subject of the doctor's sympathy was sitting silently in the quarters to which he had been assigned, staring unseeingly at the blank, featureless wall in front of him. Garak had just returned from a less than comfortable conversation with Enabran Tain. His mentor had not been pleased with his failure to obtain any useful information from the doctor, accusing him of allowing his friendship with the young human to interfere with his duty. In the face of Tain's displeasure Garak had denied it, but now sitting alone in his claustrophobic room the tailor was forced to admit there was at least a degree of truth in the accusation.

Ah, doctor, why did it have to be you here with me? the Cardassian thought painfully. If it had been anyone else this would be so much easier... He closed his eyes briefly, considering what he knew he must now do. Tain had threatened to turn Julian over to the Tal Shi'ar for interrogation, but Garak had insisted that the responsibility was his. Tain had agreed, but the tailor had been only too aware of the mistrust in his eyes. He doesn't believe I can do this. I have to prove to him that I can - and that he can trust me again. Yes, that was the important thing, proving his loyalty to Tain and the Order. Once he did that he would be free to return home... Home. Cardassia.

Slowly Garak got to his feet. A small case lay on the table beside him. Carefully he opened it, studying the familiar objects inside, the tools of his trade. Surely the doctor would see sense now and it wouldn't be necessary for him to make use of these items - would it? And if he still resists... Then what? Once again the inner voice forced Garak to consider that possibility.He gritted his teeth, closing the case with an audible snap.

If he resists, so be it. I know what I have to do and I will do it, the tailor admonished himself sternly.

But he's your friend. He trusts you. This time Garak could think of nothing to say to the voice of his conscience. Before he could think better of it he snatched up the case and the Cardassian disruptor which lay beside it and headed for the door.

******

Julian lay stretched out on the bed, trying to rest. He was hungry and thirsty. No one had thought to see to his needs since he'd been locked up in this room and it didn't offer the luxury of a replicator. He sighed in frustration. Tired as he was sleep was proving impossible; he was too tense. What was going to happen to him? The question kept chasing itself futilely round and round in his brain. Julian looked up hopefully as the door opened and Garak strode purposefully into the room. The Cardassian was carrying a small case which he set down on the table without a word before turning to look at the doctor. Julian felt suddenly uneasy as he noted that Garak also now wore a disruptor clipped to his belt.

"Well, doctor, I trust that you've reconsidered your earlier decision," said the tailor with a tight smile. Julian swung his feet onto the floor and stood up slowly, shaking his head.

"No, Garak, my answer is still the same. There's nothing I can tell you. I'm sorry." There was genuine regret in the doctor's tone.

"You do realise that you're putting me in a most difficult position, doctor," said Garak intently. His cornflower eyes caught and held Julian's, silently entreating him to change his mind. The intensity of the Cardassian's gaze puzzled the young man. What was Garak trying to tell him...? Julian frowned and turned away.

"Garak, I can't tell you what I don't know," he insisted.

"I'm truly sorry that you've decided not to co-operate, doctor, as I fear that you leave me with no choice but to take certain steps I had hoped to avoid," observed Garak regretfully. He was grateful that the doctor's back was turned towards him so that he couldn't see the look of pain which etched itself into the Cardassian's features. I don't want to do this, doctor. Don't make me do this to you, he implored silently.

As Garak watched he saw Julian's back stiffen as realisation finally began to dawn on him. With an effort the tailor composed his features and by the time the young human had turned back to face him the impassive mask of the Obsidian Order interrogator was firmly in place once more.

"What kind of steps, Garak?" asked Julian in hushed tones. His expressive, brown eyes flicked uneasily to the case on the table and back to the Cardassian's face. "What are you going to do?"

"You have information, doctor. I intend to obtain it from you," said Garak steadily. "Now, I'll ask you one final time, are you going to make this easy for yourself or not?" The doctor's reaction to this pronouncement was not at all what the Cardassian had anticipated. Julian shook his head slightly and laughed ruefully.

"So, it's to be an interrogation, is it? This is Tain's test of your loyalty," he observed sadly. "But it's not quite as simple as you thought it would be. You don't want to do this do you, Garak? You're looking for an excuse not to do it."

"I'm sorry, doctor, but I fear you are mistaken." Garak's voice was cold, controlled, giving no hint of what he might be feeling inside. "I have a job to do and I will do it - as efficiently as possible. Your co-operation would have made things much easier I admit, but..."

"But now you're going to torture me," finished Julian bleakly. "Oh yes, I'm sure Tain is going to be so proud of you."

"If that's what is required - yes," agreed Garak, ignoring the doctor's jibe. He walked to the table and opened the case. Carefully he began to remove various items from it, laying them out neatly. The routine familiarity of the task was somehow comforting to Garak, almost distracting him from the unpleasant reality of what he was about to do to his friend. Julian watched in horrified fascination as the Cardassian produced restraints, a variety of hyposprays and a number of other unknown devices whose function the doctor could only guess at.

"Garak, this is pointless..." The tailor could hear the note of fear in Julian's voice, but he kept his silence, knowing that it would unsettle the doctor more, making his task that little bit easier. His preparations finally complete Garak once more acknowledged Julian's presence.

"Please remove your clothes, doctor," he said calmly. Garak was quite sure this particular request would unnerve the young man still further. He had often observed humans to be almost obsessively self-conscious about being naked before their peers. His instinct was correct. Julian's face immediately flushed and his eyes widened in startled disbelief. He made no move to comply with the Cardassian's request. "Doctor..." repeated Garak menacingly. He took several steps towards the doctor, who backed away instinctively.

"No!" said Julian vehemently. This wasn't real - it couldn't truly be happening to him. Garak would never try to hurt him... But as the doctor looked into the Cardassian's icy blue eyes he could see nothing of the Garak he knew. Breathing hard Julian stood his ground. This was ridiculous; if Garak wanted him undressed he could damn well do it himself - and he wasn't about to give the tailor any help!

Garak saw the new resolve in his young friend's eyes. He was going to resist him. Please, doctor, just do as I ask... The unwelcome promptings of his conscience again, but another part of Garak's mind welcomed the spark of resistance, exulted in it. Yes, this might be a worthy challenge after all.

"Doctor, I asked you to remove your clothes," said Garak threateningly. His steps had carried him to within inches of Julian's still form.

"And I'm refusing," said Julian insolently. Anger flared in the depths of his dark eyes. "So what do you intend to do about it?" Garak's hands shot out, taking each of the doctor's arms in a crushing grip. The abrupt gesture startled the young man and he gasped in shock as the cruel fingers dug into his flesh hard enough to bruise. "Garak?"

The Cardassian ignored Julian's pained cry, tightening his grasp on one arm while his other hand searched for the fastening of the doctor's uniform. As if realising for the first time the seriousness of his situation Julian began to struggle in earnest. He felt the shoulder seam of his coverall give way as he tried to twist out of Garak's pitiless grip.

"Stop this, doctor," said the Cardassian in a commanding tone. "If you persist in struggling I shall stun you."

"Fine - go ahead!" taunted Julian as the sleeve of his uniform finally came away altogether and he was able to evade the tailor as he clutched uselessly at the torn material. Julian didn't for one moment believe Garak would make good his threat. But with a swift gesture the Cardassian drew out his disruptor, aiming and firing it in a single, smooth movement. Julian dropped immediately to the floor as the bolt of energy hit him, his face barely having time to register the horrified shock he felt before he lost consciousness. Had his eyes remained open a few seconds longer he would have seen his own horror mirrored on Garak's face as he stared helplessly at the crumpled figure which lay at his feet.

The disruptor slipped from Garak's suddenly nerveless fingers, clattering down onto the floor. He gave it no further thought as he sank to his knees at the young human's side.

"Julian..." The single word escaped Garak's lips, no more than an agonised whisper. It didn't occur to the Cardassian to wonder at his instinctive use of the doctor's given name. All he was aware of was the sudden pain which clutched at his heart like an icy hand.

You've done nothing more than your duty demanded, the cold voice inside his head observed dismissively. Why do you delay? Now you can strip him and bind him - he can't fight you any more.

Garak was well aware that there was no denying the logic of that, but still he hesitated. Duty... In spite of what he knew was the right thing to do the tailor found that seeing the doctor lying before him helpless and vulnerable filled him with a strange mixture of emotions. Why did this one insignificant young human tempt him to a course of action that would surely see him exiled from his home for the rest of his life? No - he couldn't give in to the sudden, nearly overwhelming temptation to end this interrogation before it began and let the doctor go free. It was madness to even think of it.

Slowly Garak reached out to the still form and began to unfasten Julian's torn uniform. He could feel the slow rise and fall of the doctor's chest under his hands as he worked, reassuring him that the young man had suffered no permanent harm. He slipped an arm under the doctor, raising him up so that he could slide the coverall off the slender shoulders. Propping the lax body against himself Garak pulled the lavender turtleneck over Julian's head revealing the smooth expanse of his chest. The tailor's hands brushed the soft skin lightly, fascinated by the texture, and his fingers touched the chocolate brown nipples curiously.

Recalling himself with difficulty Garak resumed his task, laying Julian back down on the floor and tugging off his boots. Quickly he removed the coverall completely and finally slipped off the doctor's briefs, revealing the young human in all his glory. As Garak looked down at the slim, passive body his resolve almost failed him again. So beautiful... Unconsciously the Cardassian's fingers trailed gently over the smooth caramel skin. So - different.

"Doctor, I'm truly sorry," Garak whispered, not caring that the words went unheard - only knowing that he needed to say them. "I don't want to hurt you, but I must... Finally I have the chance to end the living hell my exile has become. I can go home. Surely you can understand that. In my place wouldn't you do the same?" Even as the words left his mouth Garak knew in his heart that Julian would have answered unequivocally in the negative. He could never hurt anyone... Pushing the thought away the Cardassian drew back. He took a deep breath - he could afford to think only of the completion of this interrogation now. Gathering the doctor's motionless body up in his arms Garak scrambled to his feet. As he carried Julian across to the narrow bed he marvelled at how light the young man was - he barely felt his weight. His senses also began to register how warm and soft the delicate, human skin felt...

To his surprise Garak suddenly became aware of the first, familiar stirrings of arousal. He dropped Julian ungently onto the bed and stepped back, glancing down at himself. The tailor's lips twisted in a self-deprecating smile as he noted the betraying bulge which distorted the smooth line of his trousers. Why did these feelings have to intrude now? Surely he'd never had them before. He refused to consider the questions this thought raised - it was irrelevant. He couldn't give in to these sudden impulses or he was lost. Fiercely Garak stalked over to the table and snatched up the restraints he had set out there. Mechanically he set about binding the hapless doctor - anything to avoid thinking about the growing hardness of his sex, the pounding of his blood through his veins...

As Garak fastened the restraints around Julian's limbs, leaving him helplessly spread-eagled across the bed, the young man slowly struggled back to consciousness. It took him a moment to remember what had happened, but slowly the memory returned, accompanied by the realisation that he was stretched out, flat on his back, quite naked, with Garak bending over him intently. Instinctively Julian tried to shrink away from his tormentor only to find that he had been completely immobilised. The discovery sent a stab of fear through him and he struggled futilely against his bonds.

"Ah, doctor, you're awake," observed Garak coolly. His errant emotions were at least outwardly under control once more though his erection refused stubbornly to subside. The tailor was grateful that the doctor seemed unaware of his discomfiture.

"No thanks to you, Garak," Julian spat out bitterly. His velvet brown eyes stared up at the Cardassian accusingly.

"You left me no choice," countered Garak evenly. "Perhaps now you'll believe me when I say that things will go much better for you if you co-operate with me. I really don't want to have to hurt you again, doctor." Julian laughed harshly.

"Well, you could have fooled me," he retorted acidly. The doctor's eyes held the Cardassian's unflinchingly, refusing to let him off the hook. "Still, I've learned one thing today, Garak. Now I certainly know how Julius Caesar felt."

"I beg your pardon?" Garak's cornflower eyes narrowed in confusion.

"When Brutus stabbed him..." prompted Julian. "Surely you haven't forgotten our last lunch together so soon, Garak. As I recall you told me you thought Caesar was a fool for not realising his best friend was about to betray him." Julian paused for a moment, his face twisting in a bitter grimace. "It seems I've been quite the fool too, doesn't it? I trusted you, Garak..."

The words stung, but Garak refused to allow the doctor to see that. With grim determination the Cardassian forced a cold smile as he gave a hollow laugh.

"Oh, my dear doctor, how naive you are and so dramatic! Betrayed by your best friend - surely you realised we were never friends. Our lunches were simply a convenient way of passing the time when I had nothing better to do. Oh you were occasionally a useful source of information, but there was nothing more to it than that I'm afraid. Whatever made you imagine that a Cardassian would take any pleasure in the company of a weak, inferior creature such as yourself? Oh, doctor, you look upset. Do you mean to tell me that you truly believed I cared for you?"

Julian stared up at Garak mutely. His expression had become steadily more distraught as the Cardassian's cruel words had spilled over him. By the time Garak finally stopped speaking the doctor's eyes were sparkling with unshed tears. He silently upbraided himself for allowing the hateful words to hurt him so deeply - and for letting the tailor see so clearly their effect on him. This wasn't the Garak that he knew, or rather had thought he knew. This was some remote, alien creature who thought nothing of torturing him to obtain the information he wanted. Julian squeezed his eyes tightly closed and turned his head away. He wouldn't give the Cardassian the satisfaction of seeing him weep openly for his shattered illusions.

With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach Garak watched the play of emotions over the young human's face. He should be pleased to have broken through the doctor's defences so thoroughly, but all he felt was an aching emptiness inside him. As yet he still had nothing to show for his efforts, no information to present to Tain. All he had succeeded in doing was destroying his cherished friendship with Julian. Julian - the one person to whom his past had been irrelevant. The only one who had treated him as an equal, without reservation, even to the point of risking his own life to save him...

Savagely Garak suppressed the painful emotions. What was done was done and he had the doctor on the run now. It was time to press his advantage.

"Doctor, why don't you tell me what you know about the Federation's plans for dealing with the Founders," he said steadily. Disbelievingly Julian opened his eyes, turning back to look into Garak's impassive face.

"I don't know anything, Garak," he insisted, his voice tired. "I'm sorry if you don't believe me, but..."

"That is not an acceptable answer," snapped Garak, once more the model of the coldly efficient interrogator. He moved back to the table, picking up a small device in the shape of a thin circlet. Carefully he slipped it onto Julian's head so that it fit snugly against his temples. The doctor looked up at Garak a little fearfully.

"What is this thing, Garak?" he asked with a slight catch in his voice. The Cardassian ignored the anxious question and turned once again to the table to retrieve a second small contrivance which he held loosely in his right palm.

"I will ask you once more..." Garak began, but Julian allowed him to go no further as his irritation finally flared anew.

"Damn it, Garak, I don't know!" he cried out in frustration. A moment later Julian found himself gasping desperately for breath and writhing uncontrollably in his bonds as the most intense pain he had ever experienced lanced through his temples and spread along every nerve in his body.

Garak watched the violent contortions of the doctor's naked body in horrified fascination, feeling his swollen sex throbbing more insistently than ever. He had done this to Julian and the knowledge both excited and repulsed him. Just one small contraction of his hand and the young man was twisting in unimaginable agony... Garak's hand jerked open convulsively and the circlet stopped sending its messages of pain into Julian's brain. Slowly the doctor's frantic movements ceased and he lay back panting hard. His haunted eyes sought Garak's.

"Why?" he asked in desperation.

"Because you have information that I need," said the Cardassian obdurately.

"No..." Again Garak's hand clenched and Julian's body convulsed once more. "Please, stop!" Somehow the doctor forced the words out of his parched throat.

"Tell me what I need to know, doctor, and I promise this will stop." Garak bent over Julian's agonised, sweat-drenched form. Oh Gods but he was beautiful, writhing helplessly in the grip of this exquisite pain... The straining of his erection, forgotten for a few moments, once again intruded on Garak's consciousness and he realised he was dangerously close to coming. Oh, Julian! Of its own volition the Cardassian's free hand stole out, lightly caressing the doctor's damp skin and straying briefly down to stroke his flaccid member. Garak leaned in closer, as if drawn to the young man by an invisible thread. Even through the haze of pain which engulfed him Julian felt the new and quite unexpected sensations. The Cardassian seemed to loom even larger in his vision and suddenly Garak's lips were pressing hungrily against his own. With an effort Julian wrenched his mouth away from the kiss, crying out in angry protest.

"Garak! What the hell do you think you're doing? Garak!" With a guilty start the tailor registered exactly what he was in fact doing. He drew back sharply as a pang of shame stabbed through him and he turned, hurling the circlet's control device away from him.

He had wanted Julian so much. The intensity of the young man's reaction to the pain racking him had almost caused Garak to lose control completely - and it wouldn't have been the first time it had happened to him during the course of an interrogation either he acknowledged to himself. So why had he stopped? The doctor was bound, helpless to resist him. He could so easily have taken what he wanted... But it hadn't been the inflicting of pain which had aroused him so much this time he admitted finally. It was Julian himself - and if he had given in to his desires he would have lost the beautiful young man for ever. As it was, what he had now almost certainly lost was any chance of ever seeing his home again.

Julian cried out in relief as the pain abruptly cut off and the intense sensations which had ravaged his body slowly began to subside. Dimly he became aware of a lessening of the tension in his limbs as well. The restraints binding him had been removed. The doctor's overloaded brain reeled in confusion. Why had the torment stopped so suddenly? He hadn't told the Cardassian anything.

"Garak?" Cautiously Julian levered himself into a sitting position, drawing his overstretched arms and legs close to his body to ease the aching muscles. His head spun dizzily and for a long moment he closed his eyes tightly fighting off the wave of nausea that threatened to sweep over him. Eventually he risked opening his eyes again and with difficulty focussed on the still form of the Cardassian. He stood stiffly in the middle of the small room, his face buried in his hands. His whole posture spoke of abject defeat. Julian gazed curiously at Garak, wondering what had happened to wreak this sudden change in him; why he had so abruptly let him go.

As the doctor's eyes swept the Cardassian's hunched figure they were drawn suddenly to the considerable bulge in his trousers. All at once the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place and Julian flushed. Garak had touched him, clearly intent on arousing him, and here he was with an all too obvious erection... The tailor had wanted him? Was that why he had stopped the interrogation and let him go? Had Garak lied, trying to protect himself, when he said that their friendship meant nothing to him?

Carefully Julian slid from the bed and slowly crossed to where the Cardassian stood unmoving, uncaring. Taking a deep breath the young man tentatively stretched out a hand, resting it lightly on the tailor's shoulder.

"Garak, it's over. Are you alright?" he asked gently. The doctor could feel the Cardassian's body shaking with reaction. It was debatable which of them was in worse shape.
"Oh, my dear Julian, what have I done?" The words came out as a strangled whisper, but they pierced Julian's heart with their obvious sincerity. "I let my foolish desire to return home blind me to the truth. Tain doesn't trust me any more. He would never truly take me back - I know him better than that. All his words were just empty promises. He was using me and when he had no further use for me he would have had me killed."
Garak slowly raised his head from his hands, his expression darkening. He laughed bitterly. "And for that, doctor, I destroyed our friendship."

"Garak, there's nothing foolish about you wanting to go home," said Julian gently but firmly. "I can understand how you must have felt, being offered that chance... And another thing - you haven't destroyed our friendship. Do you really think I'd turn my back on you, now of all times?" The Cardassian's pale blue eyes widened as he stared at the doctor in frank disbelief.

"Doctor, you don't have to spare my feelings I assure you," said Garak stiffly. "After those terrible things I said; the pain I caused you; the way I - touched you... Well, you surely can't be suggesting that you can dismiss all of that as if it never happened."

"No, of course I can't, but I know you had your reasons for what you did and when we get back to DS9 I hope you're going to explain them to me." Julian smiled tentatively at his Cardassian friend, still a little uncertain. "And that this time you're going to tell me the truth." The doctor's guileless brown eyes caught and held the tailor's limpid blue ones. There was pain in that stare, but for all that there was also understanding and a measure of affection. Garak's eyes became unfocussed.

"The truth," he murmured, more to himself than to Julian. Abruptly his mood changed again and he was all business once more. "But first I have to find a way to get us off this warbird and home safely." Home No longer could he call Cardassia home. His decision here had made that impossible. He simply didn't belong there any more, but what exactly was he turning his back on? And equally what new doors had he opened for himself? Garak let his gaze fall on Julian's reed-slim body and felt again the throbbing at his groin. For a moment he very nearly gave in to the overwhelming temptation to crush that beautiful body to him and slake his desperate need...

Something of his thoughts must have showed in his eyes as a look of alarm suddenly crossed Julian's face and he took several involuntary steps backwards away from the Cardassian. The doctor's nervous reaction arrested the almost imperceptible movement Garak had made towards him. There was no doubt the young man understood what he was feeling, the depth of his desire, and it evidently disturbed him. The tailor sighed. They didn't have the leisure to pursue this now - it wasn't the right time - but there were questions that needed to be asked and answered.

Wordlessly he turned away, moving to retrieve the doctor's torn uniform. Julian took it from him and dressed quickly, without comment. For now they both knew that all that mattered was finding a means of escape - a way back to DS9 - before Enabran Tain learned of Garak's change of heart.

******

Continued in part two