See PROLOGUE for disclaimer and comments.

ACT II

(Inside one of the conduits where the comm system lives, O'BRIEN, DAX and OPHIDIA are inspecting the carnage.)

OPHIDIA: I warn you, Chief, I am not mechanically inclined.

O'BRIEN: (opening a panel) No, but you're the only person on board who can undersatnd what I'm saying. (The three of them poke their heads into the opening of the panel. Strange multicolored wires are attached from various circuits to various others, and more of these wires seem to be growing and attaching to others. Sparks occasionally fly. O'BRIEN and DAX both swear in their respective vernaculars.)

OPHIDIA: Are those things supposed to be there?

O'BRIEN: Sabotage. Just like on the Defiant.

DAX: Do we flood the whole system with antiviral charges, or can we neutralize it one section at a time? (O'BRIEN doesn't get it. DAX sighs) All at once? Or small bites?

O'BRIEN: Small. We can't fluster the whole pig, it would be too dangerous.

DAX: I'll assume you're having vocabulary trouble and not a recurrence of the aphasia virus.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry?

DAX: Look, you talk to Ophidia, I'll get started here. (Begins zotting things)

O'BRIEN: All right, Ophidia, take this plasma coil here and depolarize the dampening field around the--(sees she is not understanding him) I thought you said--

OPHIDIA: I speak Gaelic, Chief, not technobabble.

O'BRIEN: (handing her a tool) Point this at that glowing bubble over there and press the button.

OPHIDIA: Gotcha.
 

(Back in the B&G homestead. We have a tight shot of one of the rooms, which is empty at first. After a moment GARAK's head moves into view, traveling backward across the screen and stopping as GARAK slams up against the wall; BASHIR's head appears facing his a moment later. Both are breathing hard.)
 

GARAK: I never wanted you to learn it. (Gets his hands around the back of BASHIR's head and grabs his hair) Now I know why. (Pulls BASHIR forward
into a kiss. BASHIR's mouth travels up GARAK's nose to the spoon formation on his head, where BASHIR pauses to devote his attentions to it.)

GARAK: (with his eyes closed) You know I don't really have any sensation there, Doctor. It's just bone.

BASHIR: (as his mouth travels around one of GARAK's eye ridges) Your body temperature is still a surprise to me. You'd think...

GARAK: (arching his neck and starting to breathe harder as BASHIR moves along the jaw ridge) I want you kept separate. I swore from the first day Cardassia was never going to touch you. (BASHIR draws back for a moment to look at him)

BASHIR: It's the ridges, the bones and cords standing out along your face and neck...that's what I think of, when I'm alone. Why? Because I don't have them?

GARAK: It's too late for that. But still. I don't want to hear their words in your mouth.

BASHIR: Because they make you different...

GARAK: Your beautiful mouth.

BASHIR: If I love you because you're different, because your skin under my hand feels like nothing else in the universe...

GARAK: (sarcastic, but sadly) If I told you you make me think of the swamps of Ptresi, you probably wouldn't take it the right way.

BASHIR: Is that wrong?

GARAK: (Kisses him again) But I mean it as a compliment. As more than that. Hot, damp, covering my--(breaks off into a long, hard breath as BASHIR's mouth travels down one of his neck ridges) The steaming heart of--where I live--(BASHIR gets his hands under the collar of GARAK's shirt and rips it open. His head lifts and they look at each other)

BASHIR: I love your language. (Moves in hard, pressing GARAK into the wall and covering the space at the base of GARAK's neck with his mouth. GARAK's
arms are stretched up over his head along the wall as he writhes to the touch)

GARAK: (excited and scared) Go further. (BASHIR draws back and starts leading GARAK backward away from the wall across the floor. GARAK follows,
looking slightly disappointed.)

BASHIR: Talk to me.

GARAK: You never do.
 

(Meanwhile, in Quark's, ODO and KIRA are sitting by the door surveying the mayhem. There are several different species represented and the clamor is seriously disorienting. QUARK is behind the bar trying to keep control of things.)
 

KIRA: It's depressing. You can already see them starting to self-segregate. (Points to a table of Andorians, who are next to a table of Bajorans) Even among the Bajorans it's breaking down by regional dialect. It's a shame.

ODO: Maybe that will keep the number of fistfights to a minimum. (Nods at QUARK) He seems to be the only polyglot on the station. (QUARK is handling
five separate conversations in four different languages, appearing to be equally fluent in each.)

KIRA: I suppose it's good for business.

ODO: If that device isn't fixed soon there will be rampant anarchy. I can already feel the atmosphere changing. It's incredible to me that your entire society is held together by linguistic communication.

KIRA: Do changelings not use language?

ODO: Think about it, Major. We don't have mouths. It was years before I learned how to form the necessary apparatus.

KIRA: How do they...

ODO: (irritated) Unfortunately, I don't know very much about that.

KIRA: (chagrined) I'm sorry, I--(In response to something QUARK says, a Tantrian trader reaches across the bar and start throttling him. ODO and KIRA move over to break it up)

ODO: (prying the offended customer's tentacles off QUARK) That's enough, gentlemen. I'm sure Quark didn't mean to imply--

TANTRIAN: On my homeworld you would not be let to live after--

QUARK: (indicating a bottle of red stuff sitting on the counter holding) All I said was that I'd be happy to buy his Pintran cherry--

ODO: You have to pronounce "Pintran" with the accent on the *second* syllable.

QUARK: Ah. (Looking warily at the still-fuming TANTRIAN) Otherwise it means--

ODO: Otherwise it's the possessive of "sister." (KIRA turns away, trying desperately not to laugh)

QUARK: (highly embarrassed) I do apologize. It has been a long time since I visited your section of the galaxy and my skills are a little rusty. (ODO and KIRA start walking away) By the way, how *is* your sister? (ODO and KIRA turn around as the TANTRIAN lunges for QUARK again.)
 

(Cut to the B-G living area, where BASHIR is lying on his back on the glass-topped table as GARAK climbs over him. Both are stripped to the waist; BASHIR is sweating and both are panting.)
 

GARAK: I could tell you anything now, and you'd never know.

BASHIR: (As GARAK buries his face in BASHIR's stomach) Keep talking.

GARAK: (smiling to himself, moving up BASHIR's chest) Want to know why I was exiled? Ask me, I'll tell you.

BASHIR: Oh God.

GARAK: So you don't want to know. Well, what else can I tell you? Ask me anything. (Having moved far enough north, GARAK gets his arms under BASHIR's shoulders and noses along the angle of his jaw. Softly into his ear) Ask me what I want. (No response, aside from BASHIR's breath. GARAK turns them around so that BASHIR is now on top of him. He holds BASHIR up by the shoulders, slightly away from him) Ask me what I want you to do to me.

BASHIR: I don't care what you say, I just want to hear your voice.

GARAK: I can tell you, now that you can't hear me. (BASHIR leans his head forward to kiss him; GARAK keeps him just too far away for his neck to reach) I think about it still, even after all that happened. Sleeping, and waking sometimes.

BASHIR: I feel like I've never really heard it before.

GARAK: Wanting you to hurt me--(BASHIR tries to press closer; GARAK holds him off still, looking at him intensely) Wanting that still--

BASHIR: Garak, let me--(GARAK collapses his arms and BASHIR falls into a kiss; GARAK wraps his arms tightly around him. As BASHIR moves his mouth
gently over GARAK's bare shoulders we close in on GARAK's face, visible over BASHIR's shoulder)

GARAK: --knowing you could never do it--

BASHIR: (speaking into GARAK's ear) Say anything--

GARAK: (eyes closing as his body stretches out against BASHIR's) And loving you *because* you can never do it--

BASHIR: Say anything, I love your language--

GARAK: *Because* your hands are a doctor's, *because* they have never done what mine have--

BASHIR: (grasping GARAK's hair and moving his mouth over GARAK's as he talks) Can I understand you--

GARAK: *Because* even if I could ask you wouldn't be able to--

BASHIR: --just through touch--

GARAK: (holding him away again, looking straight at him and on the point of tears) Because I am the most twisted, mis-made thing the powers ever created--

BASHIR: --your breath and mine--

GARAK: --and you still love me--

BASHIR: Say my name, Elim.

GARAK: Julian--(BASHIR smiles, takes a deep breath, and moves downward and out of shot. The camera stays with GARAK's head and chest, down which
BASHIR'S hands are trailing) Julian...
 

(Cut to SISKO's office. He and WORF are doing their best to have a conversation.)
 

SISKO: I..want to know...surplus...about the Cardassian...violence people. (Shakes his head, oknowing he hasn't got the word right.) Kira suspects. Them.

WORF: Violence people? (Thinks) Terrorists.

SISKO: Yes.

WORF: Suspects you of what?

SISKO: No no. Them.

WORF: Them. Of what.

SISKO: Sabotaging the translator.

WORF: Yes, that is a plausibility. I will...gaze into it. (SISKO nods. WORF exits. We go back to OPHIDIA, O'BRIEN and DAX in the conduit. OPHIDIA is starting to get short-fused.)

OPHIDIA: I've *tried* to disconnect them but they keep coming back!

O'BRIEN: You have to deionize them with the--

OPHIDIA: I don't know an ion from a sixteen-ton-weight, Chief, I keep telling you that! Is the deionizer the blue thing, or the black thing with the pointy teeth?

O'BRIEN: The blue thing.

OPHIDIA: Thank you. (Starts working with it.)

O'BRIEN: How are you coming along, Dax?

DAX: You know, it occurs to me we might want to tell someone to look out for that changeling.

O'BRIEN: You've found it? Where?

DAX: It's probably hiding out in the habitat ring someplace. That's what I'd do.

O'BRIEN: (Hitting his comm badge) O'Brien to Sisko.

SISKO: Sisko there.

O'BRIEN: I'm not sure but I think Dax has located the saboteur. He's in the habitat ring.

SISKO: Fast work. I'll briefcase Worf. (Hits badge) Sisko to Worf. The saboteur is somewhere in the habitat ring.

WORF: Understood. Worf off. (SISKO shakes his head and exits to Ops. Cut to commercial.)

*end Act II*