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 1994.

OUT OF TOUCH

Julian Bashir opened his eyes slowly to unfamiliar surroundings and tried to remember what had happened to him. It took several moments for him to recall that he had been piloting a runabout back to Deep Space Nine after attending a medical conference on Altair IV. Close on the heels of that recollection came the memory of the computer reporting an intense electromagnetic disturbance ahead, followed rapidly by half the instrument panels in the runabout going suddenly dark. He also remembered his frantic, and ultimately futile attempts to retain control of the now powerless runabout, and then... nothing.

Julian's still somewhat unfocussed eyes took in his surroundings curiously. He was certainly no longer in the runabout. Sheer rocky walls rose up and out of his field of vision. He appeared to be in a large natural cave. Close by he noticed a small fire burning, casting strange, distorted shadows around him. So, someone had evidently seen the crash, found him in the wreckage and brought him here. The question was, who?

Cautiously Julian tried to sit up. He regretted it immediately as a wave of dizziness and nausea swept over him. Probably concussion a detached part of his mind noted. He must have hit his head on impact. He slowly lay back and waited for the unpleasant sensations to pass; then he began to review his situation.

Apart from the symptoms of concussion, Julian was aware that his entire body ached viciously. However, after a few moments of careful consideration he gratefully concluded that nothing actually appeared to be broken. Whoever it was that had removed him from the runabout had evidently found some injuries in need of attention though. His right wrist had been carefully bandaged and there was a dressing covering part of his chest and extending over his right shoulder. At that moment Julian also realised that whoever had tended to him had taken his uniform and he was quite naked under the blanket which had been spread over him.

The doctor turned his head carefully. Where was his uniform? Had his combadge survived the crash? And even if it had, what use was it to him now? All at once the reality of his situation struck Julian forcibly. He had no idea where he was; nor did he know if he had any means of trying to contact Deep Space Nine to let them know what had happened. He had to admit that it didn't seem very likely if the people who had rescued him made their homes in caves! He wondered idly just what kind of a state the runabout was in; could it be made spaceworthy?

Another thought niggled at the back of his mind, but the effort of thinking was rapidly becoming too taxing for Julian in his present condition. Sleep beckoned seductively and he could no longer keep his eyes open. All his instincts as a doctor were screaming at him to stay awake, but to no avail. Julian slept. He was quite unaware of the silent figure who stood in the shadows at the back of the cave, watching him intently.


When Julian woke once more it was to the realisation that he was no longer alone. He blinked rapidly and finally managed to focus on the figure standing at the foot of his makeshift bed. It was a woman, tall and slimly built, dressed in a utilitarian coverall which had manifestly seen better days. The fire was behind her and he couldn't make out her features clearly. He opened his mouth to speak, but she was there before him.

"So, you're awake at last. I thought you were going to sleep all week." She laughed, a pleasant sound. "Actually that's probably my fault. I think I gave you a little too much sedative. You looked like you could use the rest though."

Gingerly Julian pulled himself up into a sitting position. This time his head didn't spin quite so much as before and the nausea was gone. He clutched the blanket to his chest, suddenly very aware of his lack of clothing. He tried again to see the woman's face, but the shadows cast by the firelight made it too dark. He gave up the effort and considered what she had said instead. It was perfectly apparent that his rescuer was not the unsophisticated native he had expected upon first waking in the confines of the cave, but that realisation spawned a whole new set of questions and Julian wasn't sure if his mind could cope with the implications of that just yet. Instead he decided to start with something more straightforward.

"How long have I been asleep?" he asked finally.

"Nearly forty eight hours," replied the woman. "You were unconscious when I got you out of your ship. It seemed a good idea to keep you that way while I brought you back here and checked you over. As far as I can tell you don't have any serious injuries. Your wrist had been dislocated, but apart from that it was just cuts and bruises. You were lucky." She seemed on the verge of saying something more, but instead fell silent.

"The runabout, how badly damaged is the runabout?" Julian had the feeling he wasn't going to like the answer, but he had to ask. His anxiety was plain in his voice and hearing it the woman laughed once more, but this time there was no humour in the sound.

"Oh, it held up pretty well, considering, but you're not going to be flying it anywhere in a hurry if that's what you're thinking." Julian was taken aback by the the sudden bitterness in her words. "I'm afraid you're stuck here - just like me," she concluded flatly.

"What?" This was all a little too much to take in. I'm still in shock the rational part of his mind told him. Aloud he continued, "what do you mean - stuck here? Where are we; why did you bring me to this place? Who are you?" Julian realised he was starting to sound hysterical and willed himself to relax, taking several slow, deep breaths to calm himself. Panicking wasn't going to help anyone and wasn't like him at all. "I'm sorry," he said apologetically, "I guess I'm still suffering from the effects of hitting my head..."

"It's alright," the woman replied. "I got pretty hysterical myself to start with. Anyway, you deserve a better explanation than I've given so far, but I should answer the simplest of your questions first. My name is Alana."

"I'm Julian - Julian Bashir," he offered in return. "I'm the Chief Medical Officer of Deep Space Nine. Do you know it?"

"Yes, I do," said Alana. "I've put in there a few times. It's a good place to do business. So, you're a doctor; well this may sound selfish of me, but I wish you'd come here sooner." She moved forward and sank gracefully to the ground close beside him. As she turned towards him Julian was finally able to see her face clearly and an involuntary gasp escaped him at what he saw.

Had it not been for the ragged scar which ran the length of her left cheek she would have been counted beautiful by anyone's standards. As it was her features were still striking enough to turn heads. Her eyes were an intense silvery grey and a mass of fair curls tumbled to her shoulders. Unwillingly Julian found his eyes drawn back to the angry-looking scar.

"Not pretty, is it?" said Alana, noticing the direction of his gaze. "I went face first into a console when my own ship came down. Most of my medical equipment was destroyed in the crash. When no one found me there was nothing much I could do but let it heal in its own good time."

Well at least that explained her bitterness at his own relatively minor injuries, thought Julian. He frowned slightly as something that Alana had said nagged at him. A moment more and her words sank in fully - "let it heal in its own good time" she had said. A wound like that didn't heal naturally to that degree in just a few days! Fervently hoping that his sudden fears would be proved groundless Julian searched her eyes for a long moment before gently asking his question.

"Just how long have you been here, Alana?" She glanced down quickly, unable to meet Julian's compassionate gaze.

"I - I'm not sure, to be honest," she admitted finally. "The electromagnetic disturbance I hit scrambled most of my ship's instrumentation. The onboard chronometer doesn't work any more. I started out trying to keep count of the days, but I must have lost track..." She forced herself to look up at the doctor before continuing. "I'm sure it must be at least three months though."

Julian's expressive brown eyes widened in shock as he stared back at Alana. He couldn't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to be totally alone for so long. A naturally gregarious person it wasn't something he cared to contemplate. His mind raced; why hadn't anyone come to rescue her in all that time? What of this planet's inhabitants; hadn't they tried to help her? Something of what he was thinking must have shown in his expression.

"There isn't anyone to ask for help, Julian," Alana said carefully. "I managed to get some information on this planet before my ship's computer crashed. No one lives on this world. It was surveyed and designated for colonisation, but then they encountered some problems so no colony has ever been established here. There isn't going to be a rescue party and you'd better start getting used to the idea."

"No!" Julian's mind refused to accept what Alana was telling him. "Someone will come looking for me when I don't return to the station on schedule. They have my flight plan and they'll send a ship out to investigate. They'll pick up the runabout's warp signature and track it here. It may take a few days, but they will come. Perhaps I can get the communications system back on line, put out a distress call. I've learnt a few tricks from Chief O'Brien." Julian's expression brightened visibly. "They'll get us both out of here."

"Aren't you forgetting one small thing?" asked Alana slowly.

"No, I don't think so." Julian frowned, trying to decide if there was a flaw in his logic. He couldn't see one.

"What about the electromagnetic disturbance?" Alana reminded him. "If it caused both our ships to crash why should your friends have any more luck? I told you the plans to put a colony on this planet ran into problems; well that thing up there was the main one. It was apparently first observed after the initial survey and since then the area affected has grown to the extent that safe transport here is no longer feasible. Believe me I've had plenty of time to read the files I pulled off - I know what I'm talking about."

"Ah..." Julian looked crestfallen. "I see your point." He considered the problem once more. "Well," he said finally, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, "as far as I can see that makes it even more imperative that I get back to the runabout and check the communications system. If I can just transmit a warning about the disturbance, give them a chance to think of a way to get through to us..."

"If they even find this place at all," muttered Alana fatalistically. "What if the electromagnetic radiation masks your warp signature, prevents them from tracing it?"

"That won't happen," insisted Julian, "and they will find us." They have to, he finished silently.

Julian made as if to get up, starting to push away the blanket which still enfolded him - and abruptly remembered that he wasn't wearing anything underneath it. Hurriedly he snatched it back, pulling it tightly around himself before looking across at Alana again.

"My uniform," he asked, "what happened to it?"

"I had to take it off to see how badly you were injured." An unexpectedly impish grin crossed Alana's face as Julian suddenly blushed furiously, realising that she was the only one who could have stripped him of it. "Besides," she continued, "it was filthy. I cleaned it up as best I could. You didn't need it at the time."

She reached behind her and retrieved the bundled Starfleet uniform, holding it out for Julian's inspection. It looked somewhat crumpled and torn, but it was reasonably clean and on top of the bundle was his combadge - miraculously undamaged. In spite of the fact that it was quite useless to him at present, seeing it somehow made Julian feel more optimistic. He took the uniform from Alana, still holding the blanket to him with the other hand.

"I'd like to get dressed now if you don't mind," he said slowly.

"Be my guest," replied Alana, making no move to leave his side.

"I can manage on my own." Julian tried again, this time rather more plaintively. Another wicked grin lit Alana's face at his obvious discomfiture, transforming her scarred features.

"You're not embarrassed on my account are you, Julian?" She laid just the slightest emphasis on the word "my". "I've seen it all before you know," she added archly.

Much to his irritation Julian found he was blushing once more. He wasn't entirely sure why - she'd only been treating him as a patient for heaven's sakes! You're a doctor, he berated himself silently, you ought to be capable of taking this sort of thing in your stride. You'd have done the same thing for her if your positions had been reversed. Nevertheless, Alana's proximity was undeniably having an effect on him and he had no intention of exposing the increasingly insistent physical proof of that fact to her critical gaze by coming out from under the blanket. Julian tried a different tack.

"Please, I'd really rather be by myself," he said a little desparately. His eyes met Alana's and held them for a long moment. Then, abruptly and without another word, she clambered back to her feet and stalked away from him towards the mouth of the cave. Her reaction startled Julian; the change of mood was so unexpected. Had he offended her? He hadn't meant to, and surely his request wasn't really that unreasonable.

A heartbeat later the likely reason for Alana's sudden withdrawal dawned on Julian as he realised that if he had been stranded on his own for three months he would doubtless have been craving the comfort of another's presence. It also occured to him that if he had then found someone to break his isolation he would have felt pretty resentful at being dismissed in that way. He winced at his inadvertent insensitivity and determined to apologise at the first opportunity.

Carefully Julian pushed back the blanket and stretched his aching muscles. He slipped quickly into his uniform jumpsuit, discarding the undershirt as it was hot in the confines of the cave. It was obscurely comforting to be back in his familiar clothing and he pulled on his boots and finally reattached his combadge with something approaching relief. With exaggerated care Julian pushed himself to his feet. He was gratified to find that he didn't really feel too bad, all things considered, and he seemed steady enough on his feet. His eyes had become accustomed to the dim light in the cave and he picked his way with relative ease towards the exit in search of Alana.

Outside it was a clear, moonlit night and Julian took in his surroundings with interest. The cave opened onto a wide, grassy space. To one side a small stream ran, its slight murmuring the only sound to be heard. Beyond the clearing there was nothing to be seen but a dense canopy of broad leaved trees. Of the runabout there was no sign, his plans for it would evidently have to wait until morning now, but on the far side of the clearing was a much larger vessel. It lay at a weird angle, broken-backed and useless, surrounded by uprooted trees. It looked like a freighter of some kind.

Alana was standing beside the wreckage, staring off into the shadowy depths of the trees. Slowly Julian approached her. If she was aware of his presence she gave no sign of it.

"I'm sorry," he said softly, regret colouring the simple, but heartfelt apology. Julian stopped a short distance away from Alana, waiting to see if she would acknowledge him. When she did not he tried again. "I just didn't realise... I didn't think and I should have done." Alana kept her back resolutely towards him and for a moment he thought she would continue to ignore him, but finally she began to speak, her voice barely more than a whisper.

"Do you have any idea how it feels to be totally alone, not just for a few days, but month after month; to wake up each morning to the realisation that the only person you have to talk to is yourself? Can you even begin to imagine what it is like to know that there is nowhere to go for help and that all you have to look forward to is yet another empty day; to realise that your life is measured in meaningless, empty days until your food supplies finally run out and you slowly starve to death? It ought to be enough to send anyone out of their mind, but I couldn't even manage to do that; no, I remained resolutely sane. It would have been so much easier if I had gone mad, Julian. Then perhaps this loneliness, this rejection wouldn't hurt so much."

The intense bitterness in Alana's words was painful to hear and Julian realised just how inadequate his apology must sound in the face of her nightmarish experience.

"Is there really no one who will be looking for you, Alana? Surely someone will have missed you by now." Julian's voice was quiet, compassionate.

"No." Alana's rebuttal was unequivocal. "I have no family, no partner. I'm just another deep space trader. I wasn't even carrying a cargo on this run; I'd already offloaded it. So, there isn't even a dissatisfied customer out there waiting and wondering where the hell I am." Her voice changed suddenly, becoming unsteady. "I just needed to be with someone - to talk to another person. Couldn't you see that, Julian? It had been so long. Then you turn around and tell me you'd really rather be by yourself..."

Alana's bitter mimicry of his words trailed off into silence and Julian felt a stab of regret for treating her in so cavalier a fashion. To be pushed away after all she must have been through. He certainly couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be so totally isolated, starved of all human contact for that length of time. Julian stepped closer to her, reaching out to touch her lightly on the shoulder. Alana shrugged his hand away, refusing his attempt to bridge the gap between them.

"Alana, I really am sorry. I know I should have realised, but..." Julian's words dried up in the face of her stubborn resistance to his attempted apology. He sighed deeply. "Please forgive me, Alana. I know I have this terrible habit of speaking first, thinking second." He tried to inject a lighter note into his voice. "Actually, people usually do have to stop me from talking too much, but I can be a good listener too. A doctor has to be, you know... Alana, please, why won't you turn around?"

Gently, but firmly, Julian took hold of her shoulders and spun her round to face him. She tried to resist, but he was not going to be deflected again. Finally she looked up and met his concerned stare. What he saw made him curse himself silently and at some length. Alana's eyes were swollen and red and tears still ran unchecked down her face. How could you be so damned thoughtless, Julian, he berated himself. Aloud he said only "Oh God, please don't..."

He pulled Alana to him, heedless of the protests from strained muscles and bruised limbs. She no longer resisted and he wrapped his arms more tightly round her slender frame, giving her what comfort he could simply from his presence. It was some minutes before the tears finally ran dry and Alana raised her head from where it rested against Julian's shoulder.

"You didn't have anything to apologise for, Julian," she said in a small voice. "It was me. I should have respected your privacy. I was just so afraid that if I went away you wouldn't be there when I went back. I thought maybe, somehow, I'd imagined you. If you were some kind of hallucination I just wanted to..."

"It's alright. I understand." Julian continued to hold her, absently stroking her soft, fair hair with one hand. With obvious reluctance Alana freed herself from his embrace, pulling back to look at him critically.

"You really should come back inside," she said, abruptly businesslike. "You still need rest and you must be hungry. I'll make us some food."

She moved back towards the cave and slowly Julian followed. He felt strangely disappointed by Alana's change of mood and suddenly became acutely aware that his body had again reacted to her closeness far more than he had expected. He drew in a sharp breath and hoped Alana hadn't noticed the extent of his arousal. Oh God, the thought suddenly struck him, was that why she backed off so quickly? With an effort Julian recovered his composure, masking his discomfiture by making a great show of studying the interior of the cave.

"You seem to have salvaged quite a few things from your ship," he commented, casting around for a neutral topic of conversation, and hoping that he sounded a damn sight better than he suddenly felt. A fresh wave of dizziness swept over Julian, but he did his best to ignore it. "If there's anything on the runabout that would help we can bring it back here tomorrow. I, er..."

"Julian, you sound terrible. What's the matter?" Alana hurried over to him, regarding him with concern as his voice faded out.

"Ah...must be the concussion, I, er... probably just got up too soon; that's all." Julian waved away her proffered arm, not quite trusting himself to touch her again until he had a better command of himself. It would be too easy to take advantage of this situation... He glanced around as his legs threatened to give way under him and noticed a sturdy looking crate close at hand. He dropped onto it gratefully and closed his eyes, breathing deeply and steadily until the worst of the dizziness had passed. Alana stood watching him anxiously for a long moment before turning back to her preparations.

"Well, you rest there while I get you something to eat," she said over her shoulder. "Lack of food probably isn't helping with that dizziness. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer you though, only reconstituted stuff. The rest of my supplies are gone. At least the stream provides me with fresh water. I suppose you could say I was lucky crashing here. I had shelter and a water supply right at hand. Do you have any food on the runabout? I didn't stop to look."

"That depends on whether the replicators are still functional." replied Julian, grateful for the mundane change of subject. "Still it shouldn't matter too much if they're not. You said I'd been sedated for about two days, didn't you? So, they'll have realised something is wrong now - back on the station. They're probably already out looking for me; someone could be on their way..." He stopped short. Oh, well done, Julian, why not open your mouth and put your foot straight in it again! At least he had people who would be missing him, doing their best to find him. This definitely wasn't one of his better days as far as tact and sensitivity went. He sighed deeply, and Alana turned at the sound.

"It's alright," she said, seeing the chagrined expression which crossed his face. "You don't have to treat me like - like a piece of Calurian crystal. I don't break that easily." Alana spread her arms wide. "See, I'm still in one piece. Besides," she added flatly, "you were right. If they find you I get out of here too."

Whilst there was no denying the logic of her statement, Alana's rigid stance was enough to tell Julian that his thoughtlessness had hurt her again. But it seemed that this time she intended to keep her emotions to herself. He felt a pang of regret, wishing she would let down her guard again and give him the chance to make amends. It had felt good to hold her... Julian came back to himself with a start and realised that Alana was standing in front of him, a quizzical expression on her face.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"I was about to ask you the same question. You were miles away. Tired of my company already, are you?" Unexpectedly the light, bantering tone was back in Alana's voice and Julian couldn't completely hide his surprise at this further abrupt mood swing. Alana chose to ignore his reaction, instead holding out a plate of food. "Here, dinner's ready." He studied the offering, deciding it was probably the most unappetising looking concoction he'd ever seen. Hell, it was worse than Federation combat rations!

"It's not as bad as it looks," said Alana ironically, noticing Julian's less than enthusiastic expression. "You get a taste for it after a while." He took the plate from her and she picked up another for herself. Alana sank down to sit cross legged beside him and began to eat. Dubiously Julian raised a forkful of the food to his mouth, and found to his surprise that she was right. It definitely tasted a lot better than it looked! With that thought came the realisation that he was ravenous and without comment he quickly finished the rest of his meal.

Julian set the empty plate down on the floor and as he straightened up he caught Alana watching him, a glint of amusement in her silver grey eyes.

"I'm sorry. I was hungry," he admitted defensively, a faint smile curving his full lips. Alana laughed.

"Do you like coffee?" she asked unexpectedly. Julian's wistful expression was answer enough.

"You have to survive on reconstituted food and yet you have real coffee!" he said incredulously.

"It was part of my last cargo," explained Alana. "I didn't quite deliver the whole consignment. The container survived the crash intact. It's my one indulgence." She busied herself setting a container of water on the fire to boil and disappeared outside the cave with the dirty plates, returning with them cleaned a few minutes later. Julian found himself watching Alana's graceful progress as she moved around, searching through the piles of scavenged items from her ship to find a second cup for the coffee. He was still following her with his eyes when she turned and became aware of his gaze once more. Julian hurriedly ducked his head, feeling absurdly guilty and embarrassed at being caught out like that.

"I really don't mind you looking at me," said Alana softly. As Julian looked up at her in surprise she offered him a steaming cup of coffee. Before he could respond to her words she changed the subject once more, admonishing him gently. "It's very hot. Mind you don't burn yourself." Julian took the cup from Alana, thanking her with a smile. He savoured the coffee's delightful aroma and tried to ignore the almost electric jolt which lit his nerve endings as Alana's fingers brushed his own for just a moment.

She drew away from him again and resumed her cross legged seat on the floor. This time though, she positioned herself so that she was facing Julian. They sat in companionable silence, sipping slowly at their too hot coffee. At last Julian broke the spell.

"Will you tell me about yourself, Alana?" he asked quietly. "Why did you choose to be a trader out in deep space? You said you had no family - what happened to them?"

"Oh there isn't much to tell." Alana's voice was curiously flat. "When I was younger my family lived on Tarrana IV; it's a Federation colony, or rather it was. I doubt you've heard of it."

"Tarrana IV," Julian frowned, trying to remember why the name seemed familiar. "I thought..." His eyes widened and he stopped himself abruptly as the elusive memory returned. "Oh my God, yes, Tarrana IV was one of the last colonies attacked before the end of the Cardassian war, wasn't it?"

"That's right. I lost my parents and both my sisters in the attack. I only survived because I was staying with a friend in one of the outlying villages. The Cardassians didn't bother with us." Alana's voice was remote and it was doubtful if she even remembered Julian was there as she slipped deeper into the memory. "I'll never forget coming back to my home after the Cardassians had left. They didn't just kill my family, they butchered them. My father was barely recognisable. My mother and my sisters..." Her voice broke. She didn't need to say any more; Julian understood what must have happened perfectly well. "And I've never been able to forgive myself for not being there with them, for not suffering and dying with them. Maybe that's why I'm here now. Perhaps this is my punishment..."

"No!" protested Julian, reaching out to draw her to him, but Alana evaded him. She rose quickly, running from the cave. Julian watched her leave with a sad shake of his head, but he was wise enough to let her go. This was something she had to deal with in her own way. When she was ready to talk he would be there, but until then she needed to face these particular demons on her own.


Scene on DS9 - still to be written. Dax/Sisko in Sisko's office - Julian overdue, instigating search.


It was several hours before Alana returned to the cave. Julian had long since fallen asleep, unable to keep his eyes open any longer despite his best efforts. She moved to stand by the dying embers of the fire and looked down at the young doctor, watching him sleep. The faint glow of the firelight seemed to accentuate the contours of Julian's face, casting deep shadows under his sharp cheekbones and round his closed eyes. His cheeks and chin were darkened with stubble, mute testimony to the length of time he had been unconcious.

Even in sleep Julian looked exhausted and Alana wondered guiltily how long he had remained awake, waiting for her to come back. She found that she regretted running from him like that. It hadn't been his fault; he couldn't possibly have known about the ghosts which haunted her. All he'd been trying to do was make polite conversation to ease the awkwardness between them.

On an impulse Alana crouched down beside Julian. He moved slightly in his sleep, murmuring quietly to himself, and she froze in place afraid that she might have woken him. After a moment he settled again and Alana resumed her scrutiny. She really hadn't taken the time to study him so closely before. When she first discovered him lying unconcious in his crashed runabout her only concern had been to get him out of the damaged craft and back to the cave so that she could treat his injuries. It had been simple expediency which lead her to strip him of his dirtied and torn clothing and she hadn't given a thought to anything beyond making him comfortable. Now Alana regretted the omission.

She had been very aware of Julian's eyes following her as she moved about the cave earlier, but he had seemed so embarrassed when he realised that she had noticed. So in deference to his feelings she had let the matter drop. Now Alana wished that she had not. She found herself remembering all too vividly the way he had held her while she cried. She recalled the touch of Julian's hands on her hair, the tell-tale signs of his arousal that she had felt while he pressed her close to him, his obvious regret when she had pulled away.

Abruptly Alana dragged her thoughts away from those memories. No, this is wrong, she told herself fiercely. You're just taking advantage of the situation; playing on the fact that he feels he owes you something for upsetting you. She stood quickly, wanting to get away from the temptation Julian's sleeping figure presented. In her haste she caught her foot on the crate he had used as an impromptu stool and almost fell. The crate tipped over with a clatter. Julian was awake instantly, sitting up and looking around him for the source of the sudden noise.

"Alana, is that you?" he called out. She stepped back into the small circle of firelight so that he could see her.

"Yes it is. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you," she said softly.

"Are you alright?" Julian's concern was evident in his voice and his dark eyes reflected the same emotion as he looked up at her. He made as if to rise, but Alana motioned him to stay where he was and moved to sit down carefully beside him. "You look like you could use some sleep," he observed critically. "Are you sure you're alright? I was worried when you didn't come back."

"I'm fine," she assured him. "It's just that I haven't talked about what happened to anyone for a long time. When I did think about it the memories were more intense than I expected. It caught me off guard and I needed to get things in some kind of perspective. That's all." Julian regarded Alana in silence for a long moment and then nodded in understanding.

"Do you have another blanket?" he asked neutrally.

"What?" The unexpected and incongruous question surprised Alana.

"A blanket," Julian repeated, indicating the one which still partially covered him. "Is this the only one?"

"Yes, it is." Alana looked concerned. "Are you cold? I can build the fire up again if you are." He shook his head emphatically.

"No, that's not what I meant." Suddenly Julian's whole demeanour became serious. "I was just wondering where you were going to sleep. I don't want you getting cold because I have the only blanket. I... Would you like to...? What I mean is... Damn! What the hell is wrong with me? I just don't want you to think I'm trying to take advantage of this situation, but..." As Julian's words unconciously echoed her own thoughts Alana suddenly realised what he had been trying to ask. Her face relaxed into a broad smile, tinged with relief, and without further ado she crossed the space between them and slipped under the blanket beside him.

Her sudden movement seemed to release Julian from his uncharacteristic uncertainty. He smiled at her warmly, his eyes sparkling with delight, and reached out to pull her closer. There was no more hesitation; Alana came into his arms willingly. Sliding back under the blanket Julian drew her down on top of him and his mouth reached hungrily for hers. Alana closed her eyes, giving herself up to the delightfully gentle pressure of his lips against hers and the sweet taste of him as his tongue toyed with her own.

This time Julian allowed his body free rein. A whole spectrum of delicious sensations ran through him as his growing arousal sharpened all his senses. He rolled over, pinning Alana beneath him and impatiently sought the fastenings of her coverall, but she was there before him. As she unsealed it his hands gripped the rough material, pulling the drab garment from her shoulders. Quickly she wriggled free of the coverall altogether and Julian let out a small sigh of delight as he discovered that she was naked beneath it.

Julian's skilled hands set about tracing the contours of Alana's body. She was boyishly slim and slightly built. With infinite tenderness he cupped her small, delicate breasts in his hands and bent his head to gently caress first one nipple and then the other with slow strokes of his tongue. Alana moaned low in her throat as the roughness of his stubbled cheeks brushed against her sensitised skin. And now Julian set about exploring more of her soft, smooth skin. He breathed deeply, enjoying the delightfully clean, fresh scent of her body.

Languidly Julian trailed gentle kisses over Alana's shoulders, along the graceful curve of her neck, working his way back to her eager mouth and then, hesitantly, tracing the ragged line of the scar on her cheek. He felt her tense at the touch and drew back to meet her pained gaze.

"I'm sorry," she said with barely suppressed disgust. "I know how awful it looks." Julian shook his head vigorously in denial.

"No it doesn't," he said firmly. "You're still beautiful. Don't underestimate yourself." He gave her one of his lopsided smiles as she looked at him in disbelief. "It makes no difference to me. I still want you; can't you tell?"

Alana was indeed intensely aware of Julian's heightened state. As the weight of his body pressed down on her she could feel the unmistakable firmness of his erection against her thigh. With trembling hands she reached out and quickly unfastened the blue and black uniform jumpsuit. This time she intended to acquaint herself with every inch of Julian's body - intimately. With his help she was soon able to divest him of the jumpsuit and she wasted no time in starting to learn the secrets of his spare frame.

He was, she soon decided, stronger than he at first sight appeared. His body was fit and athletic, despite his recent battering. As Julian resumed his leisurely exploration of her mouth, Alana let her hands stray across the smooth, caramel skin of his chest. She toyed briefly with the darker nipples, drawing a shiver of pleasure from him before moving on to caress his flat, well muscled stomach. Finally she allowed herself the luxury of reaching down, lower still, to gently stroke his eager sex. She felt the powerful tremor which ran through him at her touch and the sudden tightening of his hands as they gripped her waist.

Carefully Alana pulled back from his kiss and Julian began to murmur a protest, his eyes opening in question.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked anxiously, controlling his rapid breathing with an effort. "If you don't want this, please tell me now. Soon I may not be able to stop myself, and I don't want to hurt you." Alana reached up brushing Julian's cheek lightly with the back of her hand. The roughness there contrasted delightfully with the smoothness of him elsewhere. Her restless fingers trailed through the silky softness of his dark hair and she savoured the way his eyes narrowed like a contented cat's. Involuntarily his hips thrust against hers and a small cry escaped her lips as his erection pressed more insistently against her. "Are you sure this is what you want?" he murmured, his brown eyes gazing deep into Alana's silver grey ones.

"Yes, I'm sure." Her voice was barely more than a whisper and a moment later she was incapable even of that small sound as Julian's full lips captured hers. His tongue slipped gently into her mouth, tracing its contours with infinite tenderness. All the while his hands moved over her fair skin, conspiring with his mouth to intensify her arousal. His questing fingers reached down to explore her damp warmth, sliding easily inside her, setting every nerve in her body on fire.

With what little self possesion she retained Alana reached once more for Julian's erection, gripping it firmly and beginning to caress it with slow, steady strokes. She felt him react, his hands gripping her arms and his whole body tensing as she pushed him dangerously close to the edge. He threw back his head with a sharp cry.

"No!" he protested helplessly. Alana smiled and gently guided him inside her. His protest rapidly became a moan of pleasure and he thrust deeply into her, eliciting a cry of delight in his turn. Slowly they found a rhythm, moving against one another in sensual harmony. As they drove one another inexorably towards their peak Julian lowered his head to Alana's breasts once more, sucking and licking until she cried aloud. He felt her climax begin deep inside her, spreading outward through her trembling limbs. She clung to him as the tremors intensified and with one final thrust Julian found his own release, the pulsing of his sex sweeping away the last traces of coherent thought.


Scenes required:

Julian/Alana next morning - talk about what happened/go to runabout and get message sent.

Dax/O'Brien in runabout searching - pick up message, trace source and make contact.

Rescue/return in runabout

Back on DS9 - Julian/Alana - he offers to treat her and remove the scars; the skin can be regenerated. To his surprise she refuses, saying that the people who matter will be able to see past the scar - like he did. He accepts her decision.

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