Title: Choice Of Faith 
Author: Ainzfern 
Series: DS9-M/U 
Code: MU Garak/MU Bashir 
Rating: NC-17 

Disclaimer: Paramount owns STAR TREK ... etc and so on and so 
forth! My only pay here is personal joy.

Summary: Set one month after the events in "Chosen Path". Julian 
and Elim struggle to define their new relationship in the light 
of all that has gone before.

Archiving:  Certainly- if you want to- please let me know.

Feedback: Yes please! All comments welcome: ainzfern@hotmail.com
Author's Note: I just felt that a little more of this AU could
with being told. I just couldn't see Chosen Path really ending 
where it did, y'know... "and they lived happily ever after etc 
etc". To me, too much painful history had been shared between 
Julian and Elim for there *not* to be some sort of transitional 
period. (Story not BETA read.)

Choice Of Faith 1.

"Hey Julian!" a cheerful voice rang out across the empty

It was well after New Day's closing time. The patrons were
gone, the tables and chairs neatly stacked. With his
characteristic thoroughness, Julian was mopping the polished

He smiled and looked up, resting one arm on the mop handle.
"Yes, Maggie?"

His friend and employer grinned at him. "Busy night," she
remarked laconically as she strolled over and leaned against one
of the tables. "You put in some hard work tonight, sweetie. I
appreciate it. There'll be a little something extra in your pay
this week."

He blinked, still not quite over feeling that secret delight
that washed through him each time his efforts were acknowledged.
"Thank you, Maggie," he murmured, flushing slightly.

She regarded him with genuine fondness shining from her bright
eyes. "There is *one* more thing you can do for me tonight,


She reached out and took his mop away. "Yeah. Go *home*. It's
late and you're tired. I don't want to see you back here until
next week, right?"

Julian nodded. He wouldn't argue. Once Maggie's mind was set,
such things were an exercise in futility. 

"Go out through the kitchen." Maggie's grin became slightly
naughty. "Your Mr. Garak's been waiting for you."

Julian smothered his instinctive reaction to the information.
In times past, keeping Gul Garak waiting was a punishable

He relaxed. These were not times past. The man in the kitchen
was not Gul Garak.

Maggie continued obliviously. "I fed him."

Julian chuckled. Maggie fed *everything*. Stray people, stray
animals... She had the kindest heart of anyone Julian had ever

There were Terran lobsters in the big tank by the back wall of
the restaurant. Apparently, the story went that Maggie had
shipped them in for consumption. That had been five years ago.
The critters would most likely die of old age.

But that was Maggie. 

"Thanks." He nodded to her and moved through the restaurant
towards the kitchens.

"There's a meal packed for you too, sweetie," she called after
him. "Take it with you!"

Chuckling, he pushed open the swing door and stepped through.

Blue eyes looked up into his own.

He paused for a moment, just looking at him.

Elim was comfortably ensconced in Maggie's chairs in the
corner, a cup of tea at his elbow, some unfathomable tome from
his resource library at the college resting in his lap. He
looked for all the universe like the ultimate epitome of an
educated scholar. 

Which in truth, was what he was now. 

Elim had taken the shambles that once was the Risean College of
Further Education's resource center and given it the re-ordering
of its life. He ran the place now, with a team of four staff,
all Terrans. All students and lecturers were welcomed warmly. 

There was only one rule. 

*Ask first*. 

Elim *had* retained one or two traits from his former life,
Julian reflected with mild amusement. Once his acid tongue had
stripped the hide off a few lecturer's backsides, (the students,
of course, had *far* more sense than to just stroll on in and
help themselves), their previous sloppy habits had been quickly

"Good evening, Julian," Elim said softly.

Julian walked over to him. "You didn't have to wait for me.
Thank you."

Elim closed the leather bound book and stood up. "I wanted to.
You look tired. Are you ready to go?"

Nodding, Julian grabbed both his packed meal and his coat and
fell into step with Elim as they left the rear of the restaurant.

Walking close by his side through the quiet streets, Julian
reflected on his companion.

Did he love Elim? He supposed that he did. But it was complex. 

In his own quiet way, he adored the man Elim had become. But he
still feared the man he once was. Part of him believed on some
level that this new life was only transient. That sooner or
later, the warmth in Elim's pale gaze would flash away, that the
terrible coldness and haughty demeanor of First Officer Gul
Garak would come back.

Another part of him, the part he *wanted* to believe in, told
him that would never happen. 

Gul Garak was gone.

Julian knew that he needed Elim. He understood it on a
fundamental level. There would be no other for him. Too much had
been shared between them. Their lives, both former and present,
were too deeply intertwined now.

They were not lovers.

Not yet.

Julian smiled slightly and slipped his arm through Elim's as
they neared their own street. The Cardassian retuned the smile
with affection.

They didn't speak much. They didn't *have* to. Much of the
communication between them was silent. Simple understanding of
what was and what used to be.

Julian had been in Elim's home now for a month. He slept on a
low bunk in the cottage's small study.

Elim had diffidently given him the option.

Julian had taken it.

He *wanted* to go to Elim's bed. He really did. He had lain
awake every night since returning to his former master, achy and
hard. Longing for a familiar touch that would now be tempered
with tenderness. 

Something held him back.

Residual fear? Most likely, Julian supposed. He knew if Elim
bedded him and it was rough or painful, his heart would shatter.

Elim knew.

The pair climbed the low steps and let themselves in.

Elim gently took Julian's dinner box off him. "Do you want this

Julian shook his head. "Too tired."

Nodding, Elim moved into the kitchenette. He laid his book down
on the bench and put Julian's meal into the refrigeration unit.
Then he moved back to Julian and touched his face gently. "Go to

Julian kissed him. Just the lightest brush of soft lips over
silver skin. "I will. Goodnight."

As Julian went into his room, undressing quickly and sliding
between cool sheets, his mind went back to Elim again.

Elim knew why Julian had not gone to his bed. He understood. 

It hurt him. Julian could see that.

That was the elemental knowledge that soothed Julian's mind and
made him sure that his decision to return had been the right

Julian's hesitance *hurt* Elim.

But it did not make him angry.


Choice Of Faith 2.

The following morning, Elim woke early, as was his habit.

He made his light breakfast quietly, knowing that Julian would
be likely to sleep most of the morning. He had looked exhausted
last might, Elim mused as he sipped his tea. It had been a long
week for his Julian. The Risean Festival of Days had seen to

Still, with the Festival's end, Maggie had seen fit to close
New Days for a short time to allow her staff a well earned

A remarkable lady. So kind.

In truth, Elim also had some time off with the college term
end, but he had promised his staff that he would come back in
this morning and sort away the late returns, thereby allowing
them to start their own break a little earlier. 

They had bought him a bunch of Risean Day Lilies to say thank

He'd never been given flowers before. He had put them on the
shelf in the kitchenette, quite amazed at how pleased he had
been with them.

Simple things. Good things.

Cleaning up swiftly, he left a brief, clearly written message
telling Julian he'd be back by lunchtime, and headed out into
the warm morning.

He thought about Julian as he walked briskly through the
morning air.

He was happy that the Human had decided to come back to him.
Happier, in truth, then he would probably ever be able to

The company, Julian's company, had been sorely missed. 

The young man was still quiet, Elim reflected. Still a little
hesitant around him, but it was getting better. He looked
forward to the day where he would be able to pull Julian into
his arms without him automatically shying away. 

When that happened, Elim resolved, he would be able to forgive

As he mounted the sweeping stairs at the main entrance of the
college, Elim pushed aside all personal thoughts aside, turning
his mind to the task that lay ahead of him. He had much to do
this morning. The sooner he started, the sooner he could go


Late morning found Julian pottering around in the cottage's
small rear courtyard garden. On his hands and knees, he
patiently weeded and trimmed, neatening the little garden beds. 

He had already set out a light meal for when Elim returned.
They would eat together and plan the next few days.

Julian knew there would definitely be some more lessons.
Although he knew how to read and write, Elim was teaching him
the basics of bookkeeping. Julian was learning how to format
correspondence and balance ledgers, how to complete complex
forms and applications. It was all information that they felt
would be important for future endeavors. 

Elim told him he was doing well. He *felt* like he was. 

Perhaps they might also take a trip to the markets. Julian
loved it there. The colors and smells fascinated him. He found
the crowds a little much, but as long as he had Elim's sturdy
frame to press against in the bustle, he found that he rarely
grew frightened by it. 

Julian sat back in his heels frowning, considering that last
thought carefully. 

When had he suddenly decided that Elim's very presence offered
comfort to him? When had that particular transition been made?

"You look pensive," Elim's soft voice came from the back door
of the cottage. "Serious thoughts?"

Julian smiled and rose, brushing off his hands. "In a way.
Thoughts of you."

"Ah." Elim touched Julian's soft neck with gentle fingers.
"Will you tell me?"

Julian stared at him for a moment, his huge eyes serious. "I
think I will. Are you hungry?"

"Yes. It was quite a busy morning."

Julian led him to the small table and uncovered the platter
that he had made up. They filled their plates and sat close
together, eating in comfortable silence.

After a few moments, Julian sighed. "I'm not sure exactly how
to put this..." He broke off, frowning in thought.

"You wish to leave?" Elim's question was quiet, but a slight
tremor in his voice betrayed the depths of his distress at the

Julian clasped his forearm firmly. "No, Elim." He shook his
head. "No, I don't want to leave. I'm very happy here."

Elim relaxed slightly. "What troubles you, then?"

With a rueful laugh, Julian met concerned blue eyes. An
astonishing change, he reflected for a moment as he gazed at the
Cardassian. Sighing again, Julian shrugged helplessly.

Elim blinked, then nodded. He stood, clasping Julian's hand and
pulling the Human up with him.

"Come," he said softly. "Come and sit with me."

Julian followed him into the cozy living room and allowed
himself to be pulled down onto the sofa. Elim held his hand,
stroking the long fingers, measuring them against his own.

Finally, feeling a little more relaxed, Julian looked into
Elim's elegantly ridged face. "You're waiting for me to come to
you, aren't you?"

Elim squeezed his hand gently. "Yes I am, Julian."

Julian shook his head. "I feel... bad. Making you wait."

"You mustn't," Elim said gravely. "That you are here at all,
that you sought my company of your own free will. It astonishes
me." The Cardassian touched his face, his splendid eyes
regretful. "I was never good to you..."

"Elim, please don't." Julian stiffened slightly. He wasn't sure
he could ever explain it, but he didn't like Elim berating
himself for the past. It just didn't seem appropriate now. 

"Hush, Julian," Elim insisted. "Let me finish. We don't talk
much of these things. I wish for you know my feelings on the

Julian rather shyly slid his arms around the study body beside
him, offering what comfort he could through the embrace. He
nodded, his soft cheek rubbing against Elim's chest. 

"I don't say such things to distress you, Julian," Elim
continued. "But because they are true. I offered you no
consideration. I kept you miserable and submissive and yes, I
did it on purpose." The Cardassian swallowed painfully. "I
*gave* you to others... surely you remember this."

"I remember," Julian whispered, his head hurting, sorrow biting
at him. In his own mind, he felt no shame for his actions as
property. As a body slave, he had been expected to act in a
certain way. The thing was, as First Officer of Terok Nor, Elim
had been expected to act in a certain way too. 

In many regards, Julian saw both their past selves as victims
of circumstance. He worried that Elim's sense of peace would be
a long time coming unless *he* was able to realize it too.

"I will never ask for, nor do I expect, *any* concessions from
you, Julian." The eyes that Julian looked up into were filled
with abiding remorse. "You must not feel as though your are
obligated by our past to let me have you. You are not."

Julian sighed, feeling more than a little frustrated. "I *want*
to, Elim. I do. I'm just..."

"Frightened?" Elim finished for him. 

Julian shook his head, wondering, not for the first time, *how*
his former terrifying master had changed into this. This gentle,
almost self-effacing individual.

"Will you tell me one day?" Julian asked him. "Will you tell me
why we ran?"

Elim looked at him for a long moment. "One day, Julian," he
said finally. "When I have worked out how to explain it."

Julian sighed and nodded. It was always the same answer. He
understood that the issue was difficult for the Cardassian, but
he really *did* want to know. Elim's apparent revelation, his
fundamental change of heart, was a turning point in the path of
*both* their lives. It gleamed in Julian's mind as some sort of
hazy beacon of wonder. A gift granted to him for no apparent
reason. He sought clarity in this issue above all others.

"Julian?" Elim's soft question broke him out of his reverie.

Julian shook himself and looked up. He smiled and Elim visibly

"Do you wish to go out for the afternoon?" Elim asked then.
"Perhaps the street market?" Knowing blue eyes twinkled at him.

Flashing one of his rare grins, Julian nodded and allowed the
discussion to be closed.

Time, Julian reflected. The fear faded a little more every day.
When he was no longer afraid, he would go to Elim and let the
Cardassian have him. Within that moment, Julian knew that a
great many question would finally be answered.


Choice Of Faith 3.

"All right, Karlan, come on in the back and I'll introduce you
to Loq'Ba and Julian."

Julian turned from the sink, wiping his hands on the cloth
hooked through his belt as Maggie ushered the newcomer into the
kitchen. His Bolian colleague, Loq'Ba, came out of the storeroom
with curiosity written large on his friendly round face.

"Right." Maggie smiled. "Karlan, this is Julian and Loq'Ba.
They work hard so be good to them." The newcomer was Terran,
quite tall and attractive in a muscular sort of way. The eyes
that he turned on Julian were direct, and just like so many
before him, slightly speculative as well.

"Welcome, Karlan!" Loq'Ba said in his usual effusive fashion.
"You're the new waiter?"

"Yeah. Sure am." Karlan kept his eyes on Julian. "Gotta say, I
like what I've seen of this place so far."

Ignoring the underlying meaning in those words, Julian nodded
politely. "I hope you'll be happy here." He turned back to the

There was a brief pause before Maggie spoke into the silence.
"Ah. Well, yes. You come on in the back office, Karlan, and I'll
fit you for a uniform."

Loq'Ba sidled over to Julian. "Well, that's amazing."

"What is?"

"That after the way he was looking at you, you still have your
clothes on."

Julian snorted. He liked the ingenuous little Bolian a lot. He
liked anyone who could make him laugh. 

"Word to the wise?" Loq'Ba said then, grabbing a spare dishtowel.


"Don't let Mr. Garak see him doing that to you." The Bolian's
eyes were serious. "He wouldn't like it. Karlan strikes me as
too young to die."

Julian nodded. "I'll put him off the first chance I get,
Loq'Ba. *I* don't like it much, either."

"I know." Loq'Ba sighed. "You get it a lot, don't you?"

Julian shrugged.

"Well, let's just hope Karlan's the sort who can be gracious
about a refusal." Loq'Ba busily dried and stacked.

"I sure that he will be," Julian said placidly.

The night was busy and by the time Elim came to walk him home,
the exhausted Julian had not had the chance to set things
straight with the new waiter.

He wasn't worried. He would make time tomorrow.


"Hi there." Karlan sauntered over to Julian and stood directly
in his path, forcing the slender man to step around him. 

"Good morning." Julian continued laying the tables, ready for
the lunchtime opening. 

"Sorry I didn't get the chance to say goodnight last night."

"It wasn't necessary," Julian replied quietly, his eyes on his
work. He moved to the next table.

Karlan followed him. "I could see that." He leaned against the
table, once again getting in Julian's way. "You been with that
Cardie long?"

Julian froze for a moment. "Yes I have."

"I see." There was a moment's silence while Karlan grudgingly
moved aside so that Julian could lay the next table setting
down. "I hear that Cardassian's are a bit, y'know, *rough* in
the old sack. You strike me as the kind who needs a soft touch."

Julian sighed. "Karlan..."

"Maggie tells me I should be nice to you. She says you're shy.
Are you shy, Julian?"

Julian blinked, flustered by the question, unsettled by the tone.

The taller man stepped up to him. "I like you, Julian. And I'm
the kind of guy who gets what he wants... in the end."

Julian met a pair of dark amused eyes. It was a game to the
handsome Terran, nothing more. He decided in that moment that he
didn't much care for Karlan. "Please let me alone," he said

Karlan smiled at him. "You'll come around, gorgeous. You will."

With a sense of foreboding, Julian watched him stroll off into
the kitchen.


"Is something troubling you, Julian?" Elim looked across the
dinner table at him, his pale eyes searching his face. "You seem
distracted of late."

Julian carefully considered his answer. In truth, he was very
much troubled. 

Over the last week since coming to work at New Days, Karlan had
become a constant source of vexation for Julian.

The handsome waiter was flirtatious and amusing when dealing
with the customers, and Julian had to admit that the clientele
of the restaurant really seemed to adore him. 

Julian did not.

Karlan's flirtations took on a far more insidious flavor
whenever he was dealing with Julian. He was very careful not to
be caught at it, especially by Maggie, but in essence he was
harassing the slender kitchen hand. He seemed to interpret the
fact that Julian had simply ignored his earlier overtures as
some sort of challenge. 

Julian was quiet by nature. Apparently Karlan looked upon his
introverted demeanor as an indication of easy prey.  

He crowded Julian whenever he could. He made soft suggestions
and explicit little remarks. 

For the most part, Julian did his very best not to be alone
with him, but there were simply times when it could not be

He was very grateful that Elim had fallen into the habit now of
coming to the restaurant every night to see him home. At least
he didn't have to worry about trying to fend Karlan off in the

Maggie had seen that Julian didn't warm to Karlan the way he
had to other staff. She had asked him about it, but he had
simply said that he found Karlan a little overbearing. She had
believed him and let the matter rest, her natural fair
mindedness resolving to let her staff work out their own
personality conflicts. 

Julian wasn't exactly sure *what* he was going to do, but he
knew he didn't want Elim involved. It was important to Julian
that he was able to handle things, especially his work life, by
himself. Although he was naturally inclined to shy away from
confrontation, he also did not plan to let Karlan continue to
intimidate him. 

He smiled reassuringly across the table as Elim. "Nothing's
troubling me, Elim. I'm just a little tired."


"Loq'Ba?" Julian called out when he heard the storeroom door
open. "Is that you?"

Julian was currently crouched down on the floor in front of the
lower shelving units, carefully unpacking new stock.

"No sweet-cakes. It's not Loq'Ba."

Julian froze for a moment. Then he sighed and stood, turning
around to look into the mocking eyes of Karlan.

The waiter grinned. "You know I've actually fantasized about
getting locked in the storeroom with you?"

"Well, I haven't." Julian moved to the door. "Would you let me
pass please?"

Karlan grabbed his upper arm. "What *do* you fantasize about,
huh? That cold-blooded Cardie of yours?" He looked faintly
disgusted. "You'd prefer something like that over me?"

Julian twisted his arm against Karlan's grip. "Let go of me,

Karlan's face darkened, as once again, the object of his
desires remained unmoved by his overtures. He stepped up against
Julian, pushing the slighter man back into the doorjamb. "Make
me, baby," he whispered, his eyes hard.

"Julian?" Loq'Ba's concerned voice startled them both.

Karlan let go of him, smiling all the while in a friendly
manner. He casually nodded to the Bolian and left the kitchen. 

Releasing a slow breath, Julian returned to his stacking.
Loq'Ba joined him.

"Julian," Loq'Ba said after a moment's silence. "You're going
to have to do something about him."

Surprised, Julian stared at his Bolian friend.

Loq'Ba smiled. "Don't look so stunned. I've seen him bothering
you a few times now." The Bolian's open face darkened. "Why
won't he leave you alone? You're not interested, you don't
encourage him. Why won't he just back off?"

Julian sighed. "Because I'm not saying yes."

Loq'Ba suddenly looked deeply worried. "You've got to tell
Maggie, Julian. She wouldn't want someone like that working
here. Tell her before things get any worse."

"I think I might have to," Julian agreed reluctantly. "I don't
want anyone getting hurt."

"I know what you mean." The Bolian nodded. "If Mr. Garak got
word of this..."

"I'm not referring to Elim at all, Loq'Ba." Julian finished his
side of the shelf.

"You're not?"

"No." The slender Human stood up. "You're making the same
mistake that Karlan is."

"I am?"

"Yes." Julian moved to the door. "You're confusing `quiet' with


Making his way along the wide main road that lead to New Days,
Elim drew his coat a little tighter against the mild night air
and frowned with a somewhat preoccupied expression. 

Something was troubling Julian. Elim knew him well enough to
know that. 

He could not, as he might have in times long past, simply
corner the Human and demand an explanation. He had forfeited all
rights to such behavior the night he had snatched Julian up and
fled Terok Nor. 

All he could do was bide his time and wait until Julian felt
able to confide in him. 

It was worrying that as yet he hadn't. Elim coveted Julian's
trust. Every little scrap that he had so far attained was
valuable to him. 

He turned down the narrow side street that led into the back of
the New Day's kitchen. He was a little earlier than usual, but
thoughts of Julian had made him restless, forcing him from the
cottage sooner than normal. He knew Maggie would not mind. She
would simply press him down into that ratty old chair of hers
and push another enormous meal onto him.

Before he had met Maggie, he had never actually realized that
food could be equated with affection.

Terrans had some remarkably endearing traits, he reflected with
amusement. How empty life would have been had he never had the
chance to come to learn that. 

Stepping through the open kitchen door, Elim froze in shock,
his greeting dying on his lips. For a moment, he simply stared,
not quite able to comprehend what he was actually seeing. 

Some... some unfamiliar Terran was *pressing* against his
Julian! The larger man's muscular frame was literally plastered
to Julian's slender back, his big hands holding onto his lean
hips, pulling him back against his groin. 

Elim blinked, dismay rising in him. Was *this* what Julian had
been hiding? Had his precious mate, his lifeline to salvation,
decided to seek comfort elsewhere?

In the next breath, Elim realized what he was actually seeing.

Julian's face was pale and grim, his body stiff and trembling.
He did not like what was being done to him. It was happening
against his will.

Elim shifted his stance, feeling cold rage and sharp disgust
rising in him. He understood for the first time, how *ugly* he
must have looked whenever he forced himself on the beautiful

"Get off me," Julian was saying. "I'll call Maggie..."

"Maggie's got her little nose in the till, sweet-cakes. C'mon

"I've told you before, Karlan," Julian hissed, shifting under
his grip. "I don't want you to touch me."

Karlan laughed mockingly. "You're all talk, gorgeous. You want
it. You know you do." He rubbed himself against Julian's rump.

The slender man twisted around, his dark eyes angry. He shoved
at Karlan's chest with both hands sending the bigger man
stumbling backwards a few steps. "I said *NO*!

Karlan's face darkened, hip lips curling into a sneer. "You
little shit," he growled. "You teasing little *whore*." He moved
towards Julian again. 

Snarling horribly, amazed in a vague way that he was actually
making such a sound, Elim lunged. 


Karlan felt the air whoosh out of his lungs as a solid shape
bulleted into him. He found himself pinned against the wall, an
immovable silver hand clamped around his throat. 

Struggling for breath, he looked into a pair of pale blue eyes. 

Eyes that flashed murder at him.

He tried to break free, but it was useless. The pressure
against his windpipe tightened inexorably. 

Karlan knew that Cardassians were strong, but he'd never gone
actually gone head to head with one before. Some tiny inner
voice began to suggest that if he had, he might have *seriously*
rethought toying with Julian. 

Desperately, he gripped the Cardassian's wrist. 

No good.

He was a dead man.

Through blurry eyes, he saw salvation come. A slender golden
hand pressed against the Cardassian's solid chest, stroking,

A soft voice spoke. "You mustn't."

The Cardassian snarled. "He was going to *force* you!"

"You mustn't, Elim," the soft voice repeated. 

"Why?" Blue eyes, filled with rage, narrowed.

That slender hand cupped the Cardassian's face, turning his
head slightly. 

"Because it's what *he* would have done."

For a moment, Karlan thought Julian was referring to him, but
his hazy mind realized he was wrong. From the look on the
Cardassian's face, Karlan could see that they were referring to
someone else entirely.

The Cardassian released him. 

Wheezing, gasping in great lungfuls of air, Karlan fought
against the dizziness as relief and oxygen flooded through his

He looked up into a cold gaze.

"I should seek another place of employment, if I were you," the
Cardassian told him.

Seeing the promise of death in those eyes, Karlan decided that
he agreed.


Choice Of Faith 4.

Julian sat quietly on the edge of his low bunk, staring out the
study window at the night sky. He had a deeply thoughtful
expression on his face and he dragged a wide toothed comb slowly
through his long hair, almost absently repeating the action over
and over.

It had been a very quiet, almost withdrawn Cardassian who had
walked home with him tonight. They had entered the cottage and
Elim had touched his face gently by way of goodnight. Then he
had gone to his room and closed the door without further word.

Julian knew why. Elim had seen himself tonight in Karlan's
bullish advances. He had seen Gul Garak. And it had hurt him.

For a brief moment there, Julian had been certain that Elim was
going to kill Karlan. It would have been no effort for him. A
simple twist of his powerful hand and that Terran neck would
have broken apart like dry kindling. 

But Julian had said no and Elim had obeyed him.

Elim had obeyed him.

Laying the comb down on the bunk, Julian got to his feet and
padded out into the hallway, tightening the belt of his soft
robe. He stared for a moment at Elim's closed door before
stepping forward and gently tapping. He waited a moment then
opened it. 

He stood, leaning in the doorway, meeting the troubled blue
eyes that stared back at him.

"Can't sleep?" he asked softly.

"Much to think on." Elim sighed and sat up, propping his back
against the bed head. 

"I want you to tell me, Elim," Julian said then. "I *need* to

The Cardassian drew in a deep breath. "I suppose you do." He
stared at his silver hands for a moment, then took another
breath and began. "I had a visitor, an extraordinary creature.
It called itself Q. It had... powers."

Julian nodded, moving slightly into the room.

"I'll never understand why it chose me," Elim continued.
"Perhaps a whim? I simply don't know. It took me from Terok Nor,
showed me a possible future."

"What future?"

Elim smiled. "This one. You and I and... contentment." He
sighed, looking away for a moment. When he spoke again, his
voice was thick. "It showed me another future after that. A
future that belonged to Terok Nor."

Julian began to tremble. "If we had stayed?"

"Yes." Elim's voice was a tight whisper. 

Julian wet his lips. "And?"

Elim's anguished eyes looked back at him. "You would have been
dead within the week. And I would have been ultimately at fault."

Julian moved a little closer. His heart raced as he digested
the information. He had suspected as much, but it was still a
terrible thing to hear. "So... so you did it for me?"

"And myself, Julian." Elim shrugged helplessly. "I'd never
considered the notion that I might actually have a soul. But I
wanted to save it, just the same."

Releasing a breath that he hadn't even been aware of holding,
Julian shook his head slowly. Something very like wonder filled
him. He hadn't just been granted a chance at a new life. He had
been granted his life full stop.

"I *do* love you, Elim," he said suddenly. "As much as I can.
In the best way that I know how. Will it be enough for you?"

Elim smiled sadly and his entire heart seemed to reflect from
those splendid eyes. Julian was struck, not for the first time,
by how attractive he was. "More than enough, Julian," he
answered softly. "And certainly more that I deserve."

Julian set his shoulders and bent down towards the bed. He
pulled back the covers, smoothly slipped out of his robe and
slid naked into the bed next to Elim's warmth. 

"Then I think we should pack away the bunk in the study
tomorrow," Julian murmured, sliding his slender arms around the
strong neck of the suddenly astonished Cardassian.

"Oh?" Elim managed weakly. 

"Yes." Julian's voice was calm, his face serene. "I'll be
sleeping in here with you from now on."

Elim stared down at him, his eyes revealing his hesitance, his
fear. Julian could feel the tiny tremors that shuddered through
his big chest.

Sinking his fingers into Elim's thick soft hair, Julian smiled.
"I trust you."


"I trust you, Elim." Julian pulled him close and kissed him,
slipping his hands under Elim's sleep shirt, holding him
tightly, loving the warmth of him, the firm planes of muscles
and the sensitive swirls of ridges that adorned them. 

As if those soft words had somehow released whatever fear was
holding him back, Elim began to kiss him. Gently at first, then
with rising fervor, the Cardassian tasted and teased him. 

Sighing into the kiss, Julian closed his eyes and relaxed,
letting himself experience for the first time, pleasure in the
arms of someone who loved him.


Some time later, just as the first rays of the morning sun
broke over the Risean hills, Elim woke next to the slumbering
form of his mate and smiled. 

Turning in the bed to face him, moving slowly so as not to wake
him, Elim rested one hand under his head and simply watched him
sleep. Watching the steady rise and fall of that sleek smooth
chest under the soft covers. 

He ached to fling the covers back, to expose his beautiful
human in all his golden nakedness, to take him over and over
again, to kiss that sweet mouth and bury his hard sex deep
inside the welcoming heat of that supple body. 

He ached to hear Julian cry out in pleasure again, to hear that
tiny hitch in his breath just before he came, to feel the sweet
tremors that wracked his body as he surrendered to orgasm. 

It had been beautiful. More wonderful than he could have
imagined and certainly far, far better than he remembered. 

At first, Julian had tried to pleasure him, much like he would
have in days gone past. Elim had stopped him. Holding his hands
gently down to the mattress he had kissed him softly and
whispered against his lips. 

"Let me, Julian. For you. This time, just for you."

Elim had re-written the book last night. He had made every
effort to show Julian that what they had before was gone and
good riddance to it. 

He had focused his entire attention on the beautiful Human,
stroking and teasing him, touching every inch of that smooth
warm skin, desperate to learn it again. Every gasp, every soft
moan that Julian helplessly vented only made Elim want to hear

The almost shocked cry that had left Julian's throat when Elim
bent his head to the Human's heated erection had been the
sweetest sound he could imagine. The Cardassian had been quite
frankly amazed at how much he enjoyed stimulating Julian like
that. Holding him in thrall while those long legs moved
helplessly across the bed, cupping that firm little rump in his
big hands and lifting him up like a feast. When Julian had
stiffened and bucked into release, filling Elim's mouth with the
salty sweet heat of his essence, he had felt a fresh surge of
desire fill him. The very intimacy of the act had thrilled him. 

He had gathered him up then, holding him close as he trembled
and panted his way down from the peak. 

Julian had looked up at him, those amazingly huge eyes luminous
and loving, his flawless face sated and flushed. 

He was stunning. He stopped his very heart. 

Now, as the morning light filtered into the bedroom, Elim
carefully reached over and moved a lock of dark hair back from
where it had fallen across Julian's face. The young man murmured
softly, sighed and then settled back into sleep again. 

Julian had taken him into his body last night. Elim had been
surprised, to say the very least. He hadn't expected it. He
certainly hadn't expected Julian to be so willing, to *want* to. 

The Human had pulled him down and wrapped those lean golden
legs around his waist. 

"Please, Elim," he had whispered. One slender hand had dipped
between their bodies, curling around his erection, stroking him
up confidently. Julian knew just how to stimulate him so that
his body produced sufficient lubrication from between the soft
scales that adorned his solid member. 

Of course he would have. He'd been doing it for most of his

Only this time, it was different. This time, he *wanted* to do

That had decided Elim. Shifting slightly, he had lifted his
hips up and given Julian the access he needed. When he had felt
ready, Elim and nodded and allowed Julian to guide him to the
entrance of his body. Knowing that the Human had not been
prepared for penetration, Elim had entered him slowly, carefully
rocking into him, inch by inch until he was fully sheathed
within that incredible satin heat. 

It had taken every inch of his will power to hold still at that
moment. He had forgotten how tight Julian was, how hot and
smooth. Living satin, surrounding his aching flesh. 

Julian had sighed against his neck and rocked his hips upward,
signaling his readiness. With a low groan of absolute surrender,
Elim had begun to move, thrusting deeply into him, feeling with
a deep sense of wonder, the way the Human moved with him,
meeting his thrusts, pulling him in deeper. 

Those soft lips had traveled over his face, kissing his
straining expression. They had glided along the side of his jaw
before reaching his ear where a soft and husky voice had
whispered, "More..."

With a deep shudder, Elim had complied. Rising up on his arms,
he had thrust into the supple body under him with deep, powerful
strokes. Even in the midst of his rising pleasure, he had been
fascinated and filled with adoration by the sight of Julian,
writhing under him, glistening with sweat, his face and body
flushed with his own resurging climax. 

Feeling his own peak approaching quickly, Elim had reached down
between their bodies and grasped Julian's erection firmly. The
Human had wrapped his own hand over his, guiding his movements. 

Julian had come just before him, the sharp rhythmic clenching
of the Human's body around his sensitized sex pulling his own
orgasm out of him in glorious waves of rapturous white-hot
pleasure. He had found himself helpless to anything but fling
back his head and scream as he came in seemingly endless pulses,
his body surging beyond his control. 

When sense had returned, he was cradled in Julian's arms, that
soft voice crooning to him gently, that comforting heartbeat
thudding in his ear. 

Tears on his face.

"I love you, Julian. I will make you happy," he had whispered
the vow through a throat tight with emotion.

Julian had smiled down at him. "I know." 

It was all that needed to pass between them. 

Now, as Elim lay beside his mate, he smiled again and stroked
the soft skin of Julian's neck. 

Dark eyes opened slowly. A rich mouth curved into a soft smile. 

Terok Nor was nothing. All that power, all the riches and
luxury. It meant nothing at all. 

Right here. Right here in this little cottage, within his small
and ordinary life, Mr. Elim Garak had everything he could
possibly want. 

The choice he had made. It was good one. 

His faith in that would see him through for the rest of his