See PROLOGUE for disclaimer and comments.

ACT IV

(Up at the conduit, OPHIDIA, O'BRIEN and DAX are crawling around working on the comm system; things seem to be going a little better, although OPHIDIA has managed to singe herself a couple times and looks a little disheveled)

O'BRIEN: How are you coming with the reinitializer? (There is a crackling electric-shock type sound) Ophidia?

OPHIDIA: 'Tis all right, nae need to panic--

O'BRIEN: It shouldn't be doing that.

OPHIDIA: Aye, I do think the aul' machine is a wee bit off...(More crackling noises)

DAX: Not surprising it's headed for a malfunction, we've charging and de-charging things in this conduit for the past--(another long sizzling noise. OPHIDIA pokes her head out of the panel she's been in and holds up a smoking reinitializer)

O'BRIEN: We'll need to find another one, clearly...

OPHIDIA: Aye, Chief. She can't take much more o' this.
 

(Back in the B&G homestead, we see BASHIR going through the cupboards in the kitchen area in search of something. He comes across a cylindrical jar with a silver cap)
 

BASHIR: Aha! (Unscrews the cap and looks expectantly into the jar. In surprise and dismay) Oh *no*!

GARAK: (Calling from the living area) Something wrong, Doctor? (BASHIR appears in the doorway, sadly holding up the empty jar)

BASHIR: We're *out,* if you can believe this. (GARAK is also surprised to see the jar is empty)

GARAK: Dark powers of all the seven hells combined. You mean we've gone through that *whole* jar?

BASHIR: (sadly recapping it and tossing it into the reprocessing bin) Goodbye, little friend. You were good to us.

GARAK: I cannot believe it. I wouldn't have thought you *had* that much free time. (Walks up to him in the doorway) We *really* need to get out more.

BASHIR: Well, at least there won't be any more...accidents. (GARAK strokes his cheek)

GARAK: On the other hand, a strong home life...

BASHIR: (covering GARAK's hand and bringing it over his lips) We should have been more careful with it.

GARAK: ...*is* the foundation of a strong society. Or that's what they told us. (Runs his fingers through BASHIR's disordered hair) Don't fret, Pookums. (Takes his hand and leads him through the doorway into the kitchen) It's a shame about the kamireh, but I'm sure there's something else in here we can use...
 

(Cut to WORF stomping huffily along a corridor, passing many doors without bothering to knock on them. His badge bleeps)
 

ODO: Odo to Worf.

WORF: Worf here.

ODO: What progress have you made?

WORF: None. I go home now.

ODO: Commander, there is a changeling still at large on this station. We cannot afford to relax our--

WORF: (exploding) Then look for it yourself! I'm through here. (Snarling to himself in Klingon, he retires to his quarters to sulk. Cut back to SISKO, ODO and KIRA)

ODO: That's *very* peculiar behavior.

KIRA: Maybe Worf's the changeling.

ODO: Changelings aren't that petulant.

KIRA: You're right. (SISKO hits his badge)

SISKO: Sisko to O'Brien!

O'BRIEN: (over more crackling noises) O'Brien where.

SISKO: Chief! How long?

O'BRIEN: Thirty minutes.

SISKO: Thank you. (To KIRA) That's the first good news I've had all day. Major, you and Odo take over the search for the intruder. I'm going down to see if I can...help them, or something. (While ODO translates, he takes off down the corridor)
 

(Back with B&G. The camera follows a trail on the carpet of various kinds of viscous foodstuffs that leads from the kitchen doorway into the bedroom, whence we can hear our heroes getting down to business. BASHIR is sitting on the floor with his back to the bed, his arms outstretched along it and his head arched back over the edge as GARAK, kneeling in front of him, licks the remnants of what appears to be caramel sauce off his neck and collarbones)
 

GARAK: I don't actually like...sweet things all that much...

BASHIR: I never kept the stuff around the house until...

GARAK: ...but it helped break the tension...

BASHIR: ...you moved into it...

GARAK: (moving his hands over the shivering skin of BASHIR's abdomen) ...those first few times...

BASHIR: ...I don't really want to know why...

GARAK: (trailing a stray trickle down BASHIR's chest) ...I knew you were nervous...

BASHIR: ...but I like being your dessert...

GARAK: (moving his mouth over one of his nipples) And so was I, believe me...

BASHIR: (laughing, with his eyes closed) Go on, say it...

GARAK: (re the nipple) I *still* do not understand, incidentally--(BASHIR joins him, copying his inflections)

BASHIR & GARAK: --why you have these, considering you're male...(GARAK lifts his head)

GARAK: You're mocking me. Well I never. (moves up to BASHIR's ear) You've clearly been around me far too long.

BASHIR: ...and they serve no useful purpose...

GARAK: (Kisses him) Well, I don't. It makes no sense.

BASHIR: They *do* serve a purpose, and you know damn well what it is. I'll thank you to stop arguing and put them to the use for which they were intended. (GARAK returns to his previous occupation.)
 

(The conduit. DAX is taking a breather while O'BRIEN and OPHIDIA finish up)
 

DAX: (frustrated) There is not a *single* other being on this station who speaks Trill.

SISKO: How's it going, old man?

DAX: If I want conversation, my option at this point is Worf. *Not* tempting.

SISKO: I should have learned Klingon, at least. (Passes a hand over his head, sighing) Or Bajoran. It *is* ridiculous that I can't communicate with my own first officer.

DAX: Not that I mind being alone, generally. It's knowing I *couldn't* talk to anyone if I wanted to that bothers me. (A crackle, and an oath from OPHIDIA) Even Ophidia, the mathless wonder, is more useful on this station than I am right now.

SISKO: I'm sorry, old man, but I have absolutely *no* idea what you're saying.

DAX: So here I am having conversations with myself...I hate being driven back into doing that, introspection is very dangerous when you're a Trill. People get lost in there.

SISKO: I've never felt so fragile before. A piece of equipment breaks down and suddenly everything I am--pfffft. Gone. I may as well not even be here.

DAX: Let me talk to you, anyway, even though it'll be one-sided.

SISKO: You look different since Lenara left.

DAX: Because I have to.

SISKO: Something new in your face.

DAX: And I'm not sure I'd want you to understand me, anyway.

SISKO: Something I recognize.

DAX: You lost someone, I lost someone.

SISKO: You still miss her, too. And there must be so many others you miss.

DAX: We *could* kill two birds with one stone.
 

(Back in the bedroom, BASHIR is now kneeling by the bed, his chest and arms spread out over it. GARAK kneels behind him, covering BASHIR's torso with his own and mouthing his ear as he speaks softly into it)
 

GARAK: I was terrified of hurting you. (Dips one hand into a jar of something gloopy and moves it down between them)

BASHIR: It's childish, I suppose...

GARAK: It's so different from mine.

BASHIR: ...to think of you as some kind of...

GARAK: Too raw and tender--almost inflamed, or like a healing wound. I didn't see how...

BASHIR: ...predator...

GARAK: ...I could possibly *not* hurt it.

BASHIR: ...but maybe that's it, I don't...(breaks off in a breathy moan as GARAK gets his hands under BASHIR's hipbones and runs them up his stomach,
still pressing him into the bed) ...really know, and it's not...(GARAK nuzzles his spine between his shoulderblades as he moves into position)

GARAK: But you're stronger than I thought...

BASHIR: ...important to me to understand...

GARAK: ...and I didn't know...

BASHIR: ...everything about my...

GARAK: ...I could be as gentle...

BASHIR: ...attractions...

GARAK: ...as I was...(GARAK's hands slide around BASHIR's ribs to his back, traveling up his neck and into his hair)...as I am...

BASHIR: (panting, quietly) I'm ready.

GARAK: I never knew this was who I was--

BASHIR: Yes--

GARAK: (pulling himself up, whispering into BASHIR's ear) But I like me this way.
 

(Cut to the conduit; O'BRIEN is whistling a little tune and putting what looks like the final touches on the sick comm system. OPHIDIA crawls out and sits by DAX and SISKO)
 

OPHIDIA: Makin' a wee confession, are we now?

DAX: I'd be lying if I said you were the only one for me, Benjamin, but ever since you and Curzon got blind drunk on that trip to Wantral--

OPHIDIA: 'Tis no use, pet, ye canna seduce a man who--

SISKO: I miss Curzon too.

OPHIDIA: --canna take a hint.

DAX: --I've been waiting for another shot.

SISKO: It's very strange, you know, for those of us who are around at the transitional stage.

DAX: Come on, just once. No commitment, no fuss.

OPHIDIA: Dax, ha' a wee bit o' sense. Nae guid can come o' this...

SISKO: I can see some of him in you, but then it all comes out looking different--

DAX: Ah, why am I even talking to you. (They sit in silence for a bit. O'BRIEN backs out of the conduit)

O'BRIEN: Ten minutes to recharge and it should be good as new.

OPHIDIA: Brilliant.

O'BRIEN: I'm wrecked. (Lies down in the hallway outside the opening to the panel) Now all we need to do is find the changeling...

DAX: (groaning) Ah yes. That sprucklit changeling. (They sit tired and thoughtful for a moment) Hey, I've had a thought--where the hell is Julian?
 

(Back in the bedroom, we've got a side view of BASHIR and GARAK, once again in the throes. BASHIR's outstretched hands are clutching, and tearing, the bedspread as GARAK, with his chin over BASHIR's shoulder, cries out into his ear)
 

GARAK: Give me your mouth--

BASHIR: Oh God, speak it--

GARAK: Give me your mouth--

BASHIR: Talk, talk, speak your language--(GARAK tries to reach around to kiss BASHIR, but even with his head twisted sideways it's too awkward and
GARAK eventually gives up, settling for his ear)

GARAK: I wish my neck were longer--

BASHIR: Love me in your--

GARAK: I want to be everywhere--

BASHIR: --native tongue--

GARAK: --all at once--(BASHIR shouts inarticulately; we cut away from them to)
 

(...the corridor outside, where ODO and KIRA are standing outside the door)
 

KIRA: (concerned) He's not answering.

ODO: (casing the door with a tricorder) Two sets of life signs. But both sets are highly erratic.

KIRA: You think one of them could be what we're looking for?

ODO: It's worth a try. Computer, override door lock, authorization Odo omicron five.
 

(Door opens. The camera remains in the hall while we hear the lusty and oblivious voices of our heroes celebrating climax. Moments later KIRA and ODO come flying out of the door, aghast, as the noise of revelry continued uninterrupted; the door shuts and the two of them collapse against a nearby wall. They sit in horrified silence for a few moments)
 

ODO: (in a strangled voice) Do you think they noticed?

KIRA: (still beet-red with embarrassment) I think they were too busy. (ODO nods. They sit some more) Odo...

ODO: (shuddering) Yes?

KIRA: (solemnly) We must never speak of this to anyone.

ODO: Of course not.

KIRA: Only you and I will ever know what happened here. (Holds up her arm, palm outward toward him) Swear.

ODO: (touching her elbow with his and clasping her hand) I swear it. (She nods, satisfied, and they sit for a moment recuperating further) Do you...

KIRA: What?

ODO: Do you...solids...do that often? (KIRA laughs)

KIRA: As often as we can.
 

(Cut to the conduit. O'BRIEN, beaming, closes the panel and activates a console. Behind him DAX and SISKO are still talking past each other)

DAX: I know your mono-lived people are more hung up on permanence--

SISKO: I wonder how long it would take me to learn the basics.

DAX: --but I don't see why a simple proposition should be such a problem. We're two healthy, consenting adults, and if I happen to want you in my bed, say, once a month or so, well where's the harm in--(stops short as she sees SISKO staring at her, appalled) Oh fuck. It's back up, isn't it? (SISKO nods) Goodbye! (She takes off down the corridor; SISKO watches her go)

O'BRIEN: Thanks for all your help, Ophidia.

OPHIDIA: No sweat. If that thing *stays* up more than an hour it'll be because of your work and not mine. I'll be gettin' off hame now--

O'BRIEN: Blast it. (Takes the panel cover off) Ah, I see the problem...(starts tinkering)
 

(Cut to B&G, who are lying on their backs next to each other at the side of the bed, having pulled the covers off it and on top of them. Both are in a state of post-coital exhaustion, but both look happy. BASHIR turns to GARAK)

BASHIR: Elim. (GARAK turns his head)

GARAK: Have I said "I love you" often enough that you might recognize it, this time?

BASHIR: I've thought of something we can both understand.

GARAK: I suppose the grammar being so different, you've got no way of...(BASHIR brings a hand over to stroke his jaw)

BASHIR: Heldek stor. (GARAK blinks, then smiles broadly)

GARAK: Heldek stor, Julian.

BASHIR:  Heldek stor, Elim. (They both laugh, then kiss. After a few minutes they separate, lying apart with only their hands touching)

BASHIR: My *God* I'm hungry.

GARAK: I think there's still some chocolate cheesecake left in the pantry. (They look at each other)

BASHIR: I understood that!

GARAK: Powers be propitated, it's back on line. (They pull each other into a full-body hug)

BASHIR: I love you.

GARAK: I love you too.

BASHIR: (laughing) Happy Valentine's Day.

*end Act IV*