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 June 1998. Song lyrics from "Perfect" by Alanis Morissette are copyright MCA Music.

Author's notes: This story is a sequel of sorts to the episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume". It also draws somewhat on the episodes "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light".

"Be a good boy
Try a little harder
You've got to measure up
And make me prouder..."
"I'll live through you 
I'll make you what I never was
If you're the best, then maybe so am I..."

Julian Bashir sat alone in the silence of his quarters. The only light came from the stars shining in through the large viewport. The faint, sombre illumination matched his mood.

Was there ever a time I didn't feel like this? So empty, alone... and I thought I'd left solitary confinement behind when we escaped the Dominion internment camp...

It had been a whole day now since the transport with his parents on board had left Deep Space Nine on the return journey to Earth, bearing Richard Bashir away to begin a prison sentence. Julian could still not entirely find it in his heart to say that his father didn't deserve it. Oh, superficially he and his parents had been reconciled after their long estrangement. Deep inside though Julian knew he would always resent what they had done - the genetic enhancements that had been made to him.

You say it was done out of love and not shame. I can understand that - as a doctor - but as your son... Knowing that Jules Bashir - unenhanced, ordinary, the child you gave birth to - just wasn't good enough... I'm not sure that pain will ever go.

After his parents' departure, Julian had tried to continue as if nothing had changed, but it simply wasn't true. Take your time, Sisko had said to him, after the doctor had learned of the plea bargaining which had safeguarded his position in Starfleet and his right to continue practising medicine.

Time? Julian doubted that he would ever entirely come to terms with the situation, even if he took all the time in the Galaxy to try and do so. The fact remained that his 'little secret' had been revealed thanks to Doctor Zimmerman and his LMH program. In the end, what should have been a crowning achievement of Julian's career - a chance at immortality of a kind - had come close to destroying it completely.

See, Dad, your creation was just a little too perfect for his own good! If my abilities, my achievements hadn't attracted quite so much attention no one would ever have been any the wiser...

Restlessly Julian got to his feet, moving to stand beside the viewport. He stared out at the infinitely complex pattern of the stars, letting its immensity fill his mind and shut out, at least for a while, the clamouring voices of his parents, Chief O'Brien and Captain Sisko. His tired brain had been replaying all their conversations of the past few days endlessly, for what seemed like forever.

"Then it's true? You're...?"

A fraud. A freak. A cheat. All of the above...

"We have a serious problem here. We have to stop the whining and concentrate on coming up with a new plan."

WE have a problem? I was the one whose entire life was almost destroyed by this! God, your arrogance never ceases to amaze me - as if some ill-conceived, half thought through plan was ever going to resolve this mess! But that was always your answer, wasn't it? Things not going according to plan? Don't stop and try to work them through, make them right. No, just throw everything in and run away - come up with a "new plan" that's just as doomed to failure as the old one...

"You have to understand that we didn't do it because we were ashamed, but because you were our son - and we loved you."

Coming from you I can believe that's true, but him? Were Dad's motives quite so altruistic? Even now, when he's going to jail, I can't be certain...

"Your parents came to see me this morning. They explained the situation about your genetic background..."

And you went to Starfleet and made a deal... At the moment I can't even find it in my heart to be grateful for that. Dear God...

"I don't believe it. I don't need you to patronise me. I can play at your level."

My level... Ah, who exactly is patronising whom?

Julian sighed. Nothing could ever be the same for him again now the secret was out. Who would ever simply judge him on his merits again? Everything would be ascribed to his enhancements, not his hard work. And what if he should fail at something? He would be accused of deliberately not trying. After all, how could someone with his gifts fail at anything unless he hadn't really tried? Oh, in theory it shouldn't be that bad. At the moment only a handful of people knew the truth, but Julian was under no illusions. He was well aware that it was only a matter of time. On Deep Space Nine secrets had a disconcerting habit of becoming hot gossip remarkably quickly.

Once that happened what would people say? Would they avoid him, fear him? Julian could already imagine the covert looks, the whispered conversations which would abruptly cease when he approached... Or worse, would the eyes follow him, waiting for him to do something to show off his abilities - to perform? Julian felt a strong sense of kinship with Odo. He always had. It wasn't just that he empathised with Odo's dislike of being treated as a scientific curiosity to be poked, prodded, tested. No, he also understood, only too well, the Constable's distaste whenever he was asked to show off his shapeshifting abilities on a whim. The doctor shuddered. He had always dreaded the thought of being viewed as some kind of freak. But then, wasn't that exactly what he was?

Hopelessly Julian bent his head, covering his face with his hands. Why had all this had to happen now, when his life had finally been starting to turn out the way he wanted it to? It was just one nightmare on top of another. If he had believed things couldn't get any worse after his abduction and replacement on DS9 by a changeling, well, he'd soon enough been proved wrong! And yet, before these twin disasters, he had been happy. This was a posting he loved, serving with colleagues whose respect and trust he'd had to work for, but had eventually earned. He had even made some good friends ...

At least, so he had thought. His faith in that fact had been shaken somewhat though after the changeling had passed undetected on the station for so long.

Gone a month and they never realised, even for a second, that he wasn't me ... Is that the ultimate compliment to the Founders' skills in infiltration? Or the biggest slap in the face I could ever expect to get? I wonder if Miles will ever understand how much it hurt me - the way he joked about it? "Easier to get along with." I'm not sure I want to dwell too long on what that really says about our friendship...

Oh dear God! Julian raised his head as the intrusive memories of his capture and impersonation turned his thoughts in another direction. Garak. Since their return from the Gamma Quadrant, and their incarceration at the hands of the Dominion, their friendship had changed. Actually, the process had begun even during their imprisonment, when Julian had at last learned a few of the Cardassian's long held secrets.

For Julian, his feelings for Garak had finally come into focus as he gently led the trembling, panicked Cardassian from his claustrophobic nightmare trapped in the walls of the Dominion prison. The deeper implications of the protectiveness Julian had felt towards Garak at that moment had at last allowed their relationship to take a more intimate turn. So far it had not gone beyond a series of quiet dinners alone together and a few exploratory touches, but it had seemed to Julian that it was only a matter of time before their expressions of affection became more overtly physical.

What would happen to their fledgling relationship now though? Was it possible that Garak had somehow already discovered his secret? Julian had learned very soon after meeting him never to underestimate the Cardassian's ability to uncover the truth, no matter how deeply hidden. After all, it had once been Garak's job to do so.

Garak was certainly perfectly well aware that his parents had been on the station, even though Julian had taken considerable care to ensure that they did not meet. On top of all the other turmoil surrounding his parents' visit, Julian had not felt up to the task of explaining his developing relationship with Garak to them. He was fairly certain that an exiled Cardassian would not have been their idea of the perfect mate for him, irrespective of gender. Also, Julian admitted to himself, he had been ashamed of his parents. He hadn't wanted Garak to meet them.

Julian was well aware that commonly held opinion around the station was that he came from a privileged background. After all, he'd hardly gone out of his way to contradict anything that was said - even reinforced the impression by referring to his father's role as an ambassador once or twice. What a joke! Richard Bashir had merely spent a few undistinguished months as a diplomatic aide at the embassy on Invernia before once again growing bored. Then, dragging his family in his wake, he had set off in search of the next big opportunity...

What a great role model you were, Dad!

The doctor felt no remorse for his bitterness towards his father, but there was a twinge of guilt for his evasiveness where Garak was concerned. It certainly didn't help to remember how Garak had allowed Julian to witness his final moments with Enabran Tain as the old Cardassian lay dying in the Dominion prison. Julian had learned, to his utter disbelief, that Tain was in fact Garak's father. Evidently his Cardassian friend had more courage than he did, permitting this revelation. The trust implied by that act had been another element in their deepening friendship. So would Garak now feel betrayed by Julian's inability to reciprocate, by his lack of trust? Worse still, would the Cardassian no longer want to be with him; would he turn his back on him when he knew the doctor was a genetically enhanced freak?

The sound of the doorchime startled Julian out of his reverie.

"Come," he called, turning to face the door as it slid open. As if summoned by Julian's thoughts, Garak stood silhouetted against the brighter background of the corridor outside.

The Cardassian entered the room slowly. He found he needed his more acute sight to pick his way around the furniture in the gloom, but Julian made no effort to call up the light level for him. It was apparent Julian really wasn't in the mood for visitors. Garak stopped a short distance away from the doctor, eyeing him carefully. The defensiveness of Julian's posture unnerved him.

"Julian," he acknowledged quietly when the young man simply stood and stared at him warily without speaking. "Is everything all right? I heard that your parents had left the station so I stopped by the Infirmary to see you. Your nurse told me you had taken the day off. Are you unwell?"

"No, I'm not ill," Julian assured him with a tired sigh. "Yes, my parents left yesterday and I - needed a little time to myself. Captain Sisko agreed some leave for me. I - in case you hadn't heard things were a little difficult with my parents." The doctor watched Garak's face intently as he spoke, searching for any hint of a reaction or a clue as to what the Cardassian might know. But there was nothing in the carefully schooled expression to help him.

"Anyway, was there something you wanted?" asked Julian at length. "You said you went to the Infirmary to see me. Is there anything I can help you with?" The doctor tried to sound as much like his normal self as he could, but knew that he was failing. It mattered too much to him to learn what Garak knew and the faint tremor in his voice betrayed his anxiety.

The Cardassian regarded Julian steadily, his blue eyes bright with reflected starlight. He was not sure what exactly he had expected to find when he entered the doctor's room, but it definitely hadn't been a Julian Bashir who seemed so defeated - even afraid. What precisely did the young doctor fear?

"I had heard," began Garak thoughtfully, "that Doctor Zimmerman left without completing his new holographic program. I wondered what had gone wrong. Forgive me, but you had seemed such a good choice as the model for the program."

"It's true he left before it was done," admitted Julian noncommittally. "Things just - didn't work out. I'm sure he'll find a more appropriate template for the LMH." He shrugged his shoulders in an attempt at casualness. Garak nodded understandingly.

"I see," he said slowly. He paused a moment before continuing. "I also heard something odd in Quark's. Rumour has it that when you and Chief O'Brien play darts now he insists you stand a considerable extra distance from the board. Is that true? It seems a very strange request." Garak threw a curious glance in Julian's direction and noticed how much the doctor had paled at his words.

Damn, damn, damn! Someone must have overheard my conversation with Miles... Agitated, Julian pushed himself away from the wall, brushing past Garak as he strode across to the sofa and flung himself down on it. With his back to the room's only source of light Julian's face was now hidden from the Cardassian, but the tense set of his shoulders was revealing.

"Julian..." Garak began again, but before he could say more the doctor interrupted him, his voice harsh.

"Yes, Garak, it is true - and any other rumours you might have heard are probably also true. You see, Miles learned that I had a, shall we say, somewhat unfair advantage over him when it came to hand eye co-ordination; so he set about finding a way to even the odds again. He just wasn't especially subtle about it," Julian added viciously. He knew he was being a little hard on O'Brien; there had been no real malice in his actions and, in truth, the chief had been the one wronged, but right now the doctor didn't feel like being fair.

Garak moved from where he had been standing, pulled by thread of pain evident in Julian's voice. He took a seat in one of the chairs facing the sofa. He leaned forward to look into the young man's drawn face, trying to catch his eye. Julian pointedly refused to look at him, seemingly absorbed in staring at his hands where they lay in his lap. The long fingers moved restlessly, brushing non-existent specks of dust from the doctor's impeccable uniform.

"Please tell me, Julian," insisted Garak softly. "Tell me what it is that makes you hide away in the darkness, afraid to face your friends - to face me."

The Cardassian had been prepared to demand that Julian tell him the truth, to be angry at his lack of trust - and to reproach him for his hypocrisy. Garak had, after all, offered up to the doctor his most closely guarded secret at the moment of Enabran Tain's death. When it had become apparent that Julian had his own dark secret and had not seen fit to trust Garak with it, despite their deepening friendship, the Cardassian had felt - betrayed. The doctor had played the innocent to his worldly-wise ex-spy so convincingly... How thoroughly he had been duped! And yet, confronted with the reality of Julian's pain and shame the spark of anger refused to ignite.

"It sounds to me as if you already know," said Julian with an unmistakable trace of bitterness in his voice.

"I've heard only rumours," protested Garak. "I would rather hear the truth from you."

"Truth? Oh, you're a fine one to talk about wanting the truth, aren't you, Garak? Tell me, if your father hadn't been dying would you have admitted you really were a Son of Tain?" Julian gave a caustic laugh, even as he berated himself for lashing out at the Cardassian this way. He's only concerned about you. None of this is his fault. He deserves better from you, Julian! Contrite he glanced up in time to see the hurt which touched Garak's features for just a moment before he schooled his face to impassiveness once more. Damn! Did he really want to estrange himself from all his friends? He seemed to be doing a pretty good job of it these past couple of days.

"Garak, I'm sorry," said Julian remorsefully. "That wasn't fair. Just because I'm miserable doesn't mean I should be taking it out on you and making your life a misery. You do deserve the truth from me. I'm just - afraid that once you've heard what I have to tell you you'll never want to, to be with me again."

"You just mentioned how you learned that I was the son of Enabran Tain. Did you turn your back on me once you knew that?" asked Garak gently.

"Of course not, but I don't see how that's relevant." Julian frowned, confused.

"What I'm trying to say," explained Garak, "is that none of us can choose our parents and yet we are all moulded by them, by their expectations of us, to a greater or lesser extent. If someone other than Tain had been my father I would be an entirely different person now. Why, I'm sure I should be neither an exile or a tailor!" Garak smiled warmly at Julian, trying to draw him out of his dark mood, encouraging him to share the joke. "In all seriousness though, if I had not spent my entire life trying to make Enabran proud of me... If I had not needed his acceptance so much, then there are many things I would never have done."

"And those things, whatever they might have been, are part of what shaped the person you are today - the Elim Garak that I know," said Julian slowly, understanding what Garak was trying to tell him.

"Exactly," agreed the Cardassian, "and you have not rejected me simply because they are there in my past. You, of all the people I have come to know since my exile, have been the one most willing to accept me for what I am now. Don't you trust me to be able to do the same for you in return? Can your secrets possibly be any more unpleasant or shameful than my own?"

Finally Julian allowed himself to meet Garak's steady gaze. There was no censure there, even though the doctor was by now quite certain that the Cardassian had already learned what he was about to tell him. He sighed, angry with himself for his lack of trust.

"You're right, Garak," Julian admitted. "When we were being held in that Dominion prison you shared something very personal with me. You could have asked me to leave you alone with Tain, but you didn't. You wanted me to be there, to know what he was to you. I haven't been at all fair to you, refusing to return the favour. God, I went out of my way to make sure you didn't have a chance to speak to my parents. I was - ashamed of them and I was afraid that if you talked to them you'd manage to charm the truth out of them. I suppose the only thing I can say in my defense is that... Well, our relationship has been changing and that's very important to me. You are very important to me. I just didn't want to risk anything getting in the way of that.

"Anyway, as I suspect you have already found out, whatever or whoever your source, the Julian Bashir you have come to know was most definitely moulded by his parents - engineered you might say. The original version wasn't performing to expectations and so they had me genetically altered when I was still very young. All my intellectual abilities and many of my physical attributes are the product of those genetic enhancements. What you see before you, Garak, is not at all what nature intended for Jules Bashir."

"And you are ashamed of this?" asked Garak.

"Yes!" Julian leaned back on the sofa, staring up at the shadowy ceiling above him with unseeing eyes. "Everything that I've done with my life, whatever I've achieved - it's as if it doesn't really belong to me. I'm a fraud. Those achievements are purely a result of the genetic enhancements. God, can you imagine how I felt when I found out Dax had nominated me for the Carrington award a couple of years back? What my parents had done to me means I can never take pride in myself or anything I do..."

"How can you be certain of that?" observed Garak thoughtfully.

"I'm sorry?" Julian looked at his friend in puzzlement.

"How can you be so sure that your achievements are only due to your enhancements?" insisted Garak. "You could have been given the most incredible talents and still chosen to do nothing with them. It takes more than simply intellect to achieve. It requires dedication, determination and passion too - qualities which must have been inherent in Jules Bashir, as surely as they are present now in Julian Bashir."

"Believe me, I appreciate what you're trying to do, Garak," said Julian with a sad smile. "I'm glad that - well, that you don't despise me for what I am, or for not being honest with you before this."

"I could never despise you, Julian," said Garak forcefully. He leaned forward, reaching across the distance between them to take the doctor's slender hands between his own broad, grey palms. "As far as I am concerned this changes nothing between us. If anything it only goes to prove that we have even more in common than I had realised." Garak squeezed the young man's fingers reassuringly.

"Thank you." Julian's voice was a barely audible whisper. "I - couldn't bear it if you wanted to end our friendship."

Sensing the doctor's need for more tangible comfort, Garak got up and moved to sit beside him on the sofa, without relinquishing his hold on Julian's hands. The doctor leaned against the Cardassian, laying his head on the broad shoulder. The warm solidity of Garak's body was comforting and he finally began to relax a little, feeling the tension slowly drain out of him. However, his mind refused to be distracted as easily as his body.

"I still wish my parents could have accepted me for who and what I was though," continued Julian once he was settled.

"I am certain they had your best interests at heart," Garak assured him.

"But they never really gave me a chance." Julian knew he should simply let the matter drop, going over and over the same old ground changed nothing. Yet it still pained him so much, and he needed to try and rationalise that pain to himself. "Why didn't they just give me a little more time to be who I was destined to be?"

Carefully Garak shifted his position until he was looking directly at Julian. The starlight threw shadows on the doctor's face and Garak could not see his eyes clearly, but he could guess at the hurt clouding them. Gently the Cardassian withdrew one of his hands from Julian's and raised it to press the palm against the smooth skin of the young man's cheek. Julian leaned into the touch, enjoying the warmth against his face.

"Julian, I appreciate how much this hurts you and why you want to understand. But whatever your parents' reasons it is much too late now to go back. What is done is done." Garak's hand stroked the doctor's cheek softly, affectionately. "You are who you are now - Julian Bashir, a talented, successful doctor and a caring, compassionate man. Yes, you were given certain abilities above and beyond those you were born with, but it was up to you to make the best use of them. No matter how you feel about the manner in which those talents came to you I think what you have achieved with them is something you can be proud of. My dearest Julian, if others can accept you as you are, why can you not do so too?"

Julian drew back, out of reach of the enticing touch. His hazel eyes were wide as he stared dumbly at his companion. It was not simply Garak's encouraging words, or even the way his fingers had touched him, but...

My dearest Julian... That's what he called me... The doctor struggled to keep his breathing steady as his heart abruptly began to pound in his chest. The affectionate caress, the unthinking use of the endearment - was this to be the catalyst for the final, irrevocable change in his long relationship with the Cardassian?

"Is something wrong?" asked Garak anxiously as he noticed the strange, almost fearful expression which had settled on Julian's face.

"No - no, I don't think so," stammered the doctor uncertainly. Shyly, afraid even now of rejection, Julian leaned closer to his friend, focusing his gaze on the smooth, grey lips. He moved slowly, allowing Garak the opportunity to back away if this was not what he wanted. The Cardassian's blue eyes widened fractionally as he realised Julian's intent, but he did not try to stop what was about to happen. Garak had been waiting far too long for the right moment. The possibilities had been there between them ever since they had come back from the Gamma Quadrant, perhaps even before that.

A second later the soft, human mouth brushed against his and Garak's eyelids fluttered shut. The kiss began tentatively and quickly transmuted into something far more intense. Garak gasped involuntarily as Julian's tongue insinuated itself between his lips, exploring. Quite simply Cardassians did not kiss this way. He quickly began to appreciate the intimacy of it though and responded by stroking his own tongue against Julian's. The young man moaned his pleasure. Eventually the need to draw breath forced them apart and they rested, foreheads lightly touching. The sound of their breathing was loud in the otherwise quiet room.

"Garak?" Julian's voice was uncertain as he finally broke the silence.

"Hush." Garak rested one broad finger lightly against the doctor's lips. "I believe you are about to ask me if I mind or if you have offended me. The answer to both questions is no. I want this as much as you do, my dear Julian."

The doctor's response was swift and non-verbal. His mouth opened, drawing Garak's finger inside and sucking on it gently. His tongue curled around the tip and the Cardassian had no doubt in his mind that the young man was imagining doing the same thing to something other than his finger. His pulse speeded up at the thought of that beautifully warm, wet mouth enveloping his cock and with a gasp he drew Julian tightly against him. The doctor's hands had somehow found their way inside Garak's tunic. Now they glided over the leathery skin, seeking out the most sensitive spots - the ridges which softened as Julian's fingers rubbed them and the hard peaks of his nipples.

It was too much, and yet not enough. With an impatient cry Garak drew back and with unsteady hands began to pull at the fastenings of his clothes. With a tender smile, touched by the emotions which for once were plain to read on the Cardassian's face, Julian helped him and then in turn accepted Garak's assistance to remove his uniform. He lay back invitingly along the length of his sofa and Garak covered the slender form with his own stockier body. It felt wonderful. The total acceptance implicit in this closeness warmed Julian as surely as the Cardassian's higher body temperature and he revelled in it.

The hard length of Garak's cock pressed against Julian's thigh enticingly, its natural lubricant dampening his skin. His own equally firm erection was trapped between their close-pressed bodies where it rubbed against the smooth scales of the Cardassian's belly. The unfamiliar texture of Garak's skin stimulated him more with every breath. In its turn Julian's body offered unexpected sensations to Garak as the tightly curled hair at the doctor's groin tickled him. He reached a hand between them to explore. As his fingers played with the soft curls they found the unadorned length of Julian's cock, so different from his own ridged member. Garak's hand wrapped around the intriguingly smooth shape and Julian thrust his hips gently, making small appreciative sounds as the Cardassian continued his explorations.

Garak reached up and captured Julian's willing mouth in a deep, probing kiss. He decided he much preferred the human way of kissing and the doctor seemed to be enjoying it as much as he was. Their tongues duelled as Garak firmly stroked and squeezed Julian's cock. His thumb spread the growing wetness at its tip as his hand kept up its rhythmic contractions, bringing Julian to the brink and then releasing him. The young man convulsed as the pleasure overwhelmed him. The Cardassian continued caressing him gently until his breathing calmed. Julian smiled up at him lazily, but the familiar sparkle was back in his eyes. Garak was more than happy to see it there.

"Mmm, Garak, I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am you dropped by to see me." The words were spoken lightly, but the undertone of sincerity was quite apparent. "What can I possibly do to show my appreciation properly?" Julian asked then, in a low, teasing voice. The Cardassian caught hold of one of his hands, guiding it down until it touched Garak's still hard cock. But instead of taking hold of it as Garak had expected, Julian merely wriggled out from under the Cardassian's body and perched on the edge of the sofa, looking down at him thoughtfully. When Garak would have protested the doctor shook his head. "No, I believe I made you a promise of sorts earlier, didn't I?" he said softly.

Garak's brow creased in confusion until Julian's hands rolled him onto his back. The doctor knelt at his side, admiring the sturdy erection with its spiralling pattern of ridges and dark, purplish tip. His hands encircled the base, steadying it and then he bent his head. Garak gasped as the warm mouth engulfed his cock. Now he understood what the doctor had meant and the reality proved even better than his imagining. Julian's teeth grazed the sensitive ridges as he sucked at the hard flesh between his lips. Garak writhed in uninhibited pleasure and reached his peak in a startlingly short time. Julian accepted the Cardassian's offering, lapping the last traces of the spicy fluid from the very tip of Garak's cock before he released it from his mouth. Then Julian reached up to kiss his lover, sharing the taste of it with him as their tongues lazily intertwined. Garak moaned softly at the sheer eroticism of the gesture.

The Cardassian tried to pull his thoughts into some semblance of coherence. This outcome was certainly not the one he had imagined when he arrived at Julian's door! Anger, confusion, concern - he had experienced them all when he first learned what the doctor had been hiding from him, but in the end Garak's deep affection for Julian had won out - Garak wasn't quite ready yet to give his feelings any other name. But whatever emotions he was inclined to ascribe to himself, after the slow progress of their relationship over the past few years the Cardassian had never dreamed it would culminate in a consummation like this. He had seen Julian Bashir passionate about many things, but to have all that passion suddenly focused on him... Garak permitted himself a contented sigh as he contemplated the future.

Julian closed his eyes, also savouring the new-found intimacy. Garak had accepted him, made love to him and not, as he had feared, turned from him in disgust. To the Cardassian he was still the same Julian Bashir he had always been - genetic enhancements and all. That knowledge gave Julian hope. If Garak could see past his enhancements perhaps others would too. Maybe he didn't need to hide any more.

For a moment Julian found himself wondering what his parents - or for that matter Garak's father, were he still alive - would think of this development. After all, had it not been for the discovery of their equally troubled family backgrounds he and Garak might never have taken the step from friendship to becoming lovers. But as the Cardassian leaned down, drawing the young man back onto the sofa and into his embrace, Julian realised that he really didn't care what they thought. This relationship mattered to no one but Garak and himself - and they had only one another to please.

"We'll love you just the way you are if you're perfect."

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