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After the Fall (Rise Again)

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It wasn't something that they'd really ever sat down and talked about.

Maybe it should have been. But everything that Ezri knew, she knew because Jadzia had known, not because she'd learned it herself. There was something about it that didn't feel right, pulling on that knowledge for something that was meant to be private. So they had never talked about it, even after her relationship with Julian had shifted and it had suddenly mattered.

There was a growing part of her that was starting to think they should.

Shaking her head, Ezri stopped hovering in the doorway and walked into the room. Julian was sitting in a chair, rewatching the last message Garak had sent him with a look on his face that she recognized instantly. She'd seen it aimed at her a hundred times, and in memories that weren't quite hers she'd seen it aimed at Garak time and time again in the past.

Maybe it should have hurt, seeing him look at someone else the same way he looked at her. Then again, Julian had been looking at Garak that way long before Ezri had entered his life. If anyone had the right to feel hurt, it wasn't her.

"I think you're trying to memorize that," Ezri said lightly, leaning down to press a kiss against Julian's cheek.

He flushed, his skin growing a bit warmer under her lips as she pulled away. "I just haven't heard from him in a while," he said. "I wanted to listen again and make certain I hadn't missed any secret messages."

Judging by the look on his face, Julian didn't believe that story any more than she did. Ezri didn't call him out on it, though. What was the point? Both of them knew it was nothing more than an excuse, and saying the words wouldn't change anything.

"I'm sure he's fine," Ezri said. She balanced herself on the arm of the chair, leaning against him. "Communications from Cardassia are still hit or miss right now, you know that. If anything had happened, we'd have heard about it."

"Would we?" The words were quiet, barely more than a whisper, and Ezri honestly wasn't certain whether they were actually aimed at her. She just pulled herself a little closer to him, leaning her head against his.

"You'd know if something was wrong," she said. "I'm sure of it."

Julian gave her a grateful smile that didn't quite meet his eyes, but he didn't say anything. There were some things that words couldn't fix, and both of them knew it.

*

Julian was almost bouncing in place as they waited for everyone to finish disembarking. Ezri did her best to hide her smile. He looked years younger than he was, almost like a little boy.

Then he went still.

Ezri followed his gaze, not surprised to see Garak frozen in place a few feet away, his eyes locked on Julian. It didn't last long. Garak wasn't the type to let weaknesses show in public if he could help it, and if Ezri knew anything about him it was that he very much considered things such as emotions to be potential weaknesses. Still, it was enough to confirm any doubts she might have had.

With a shake of his head, Garak continued walking. "Doctor," he said, his eyes roving over Julian's face, "this is a surprise. I wasn't expecting a welcoming party."

Julian didn't say anything for a long moment, his gaze still focused on Garak's face as if he was trying to memorize it. He cleared his throat a bit awkwardly. "Considering the political situation on Cardassia, it seemed prudent to have a member of the senior staff meet you." He paused for a moment before adding a bit more quietly: "I volunteered."

"We volunteered," Ezri corrected him, drawing both of their gazes towards her for the first time since they'd seen each other. She gave Garak a small smile. "It's good to see you."

Garak nodded at her. Then his gaze moved over her face for a moment, clearly searching for something. She wasn't entirely certain what he was looking for, but she had at least a few suspicions.

She didn't know if whatever it was between the two of them had ever gotten to the level it had between her and Julian. She suspected it had, but she didn't know for certain. Either way, it wasn't a secret that she'd slipped into Julian's life in a way that none of them had quite expected. Garak knew her, but he didn't know her. Not as Julian's lover.

"The two of you probably have a lot to talk about," Ezri said, pointedly meeting Garak's gaze and giving him a tiny nod. "I have a few things that I can't put off."

Beside her, Julian startled. "Are you sure?" he asked. "I can—"

Ezri touched his arm, and he broke off. "You've missed him," she said quietly, ignoring the way Julian spluttered a little at that. "It won't hurt me to let the two of you have some time alone."

Julian stared at her for a moment. Then he nodded, something she couldn't quite read shining in his eyes.

"Maybe we can gave dinner tonight?" she asked. "The three of us?"

*

Ezri wasn't quite certain what to expect when she slipped into their quarters that night. Well, technically they were Julian's quarters. She had her own, barely used nowadays except for when she needed some time alone. Still, she'd been thinking of them as "theirs" for quite some time now.

This was the first time in a long time she'd felt even remotely awkward about just coming inside, as if she lived there instead of just being a guest. She'd given them her tacit approval earlier, and she was fairly certain that they'd both understood what she hadn't said. Still, that didn't particularly make it any easier.

The quarters were quiet when she stepped inside, and the smell of food permeated the room. Someone had already started replicating dinner.

Ezri didn't say anything as she made her way inside, keeping her eyes and ears open. Depending on what she found, she was well prepared to slip back out if need be. She was selfish enough not to be willing to give Julian up, not unless he made it clear that was what he wanted, but that didn't mean she wasn't willing to share.

And it had been a long time since Garak had been on the station.

The familiar sound of Julian's laughter suddenly rang out from the dining area. Ezri tilted her head, smiling a little despite herself, and stepped up to the door way.

Julian was leaning over their small table, putting down plates of food. Garak was beside him, his hand lightly resting on Julian's hip as he murmured something in his ear. Julian was clearly biting back another laugh, and there was a light in his eyes that Ezri hadn't even realized had been missing until just then.

Her smile faded somewhat, but she didn't say anything. She just stood there and watched the dance.

Garak was the first one to notice her. He straightened up, a guarded look slipping onto his face. Julian followed a moment later, his eyes widening a little.

Ezri walked over and rested her hand on Julian's arm, pressing a quick kiss on his lips. Then she reached out and touched Garak's arm with her other hand. She met Garak's gaze before turning so that she could meet Julian's as well, doing her best to keep the expression on her face as mild as possible. She didn't want to give them the wrong impression.

They should have done this ages ago.

"I think the three of us are overdue a talk," she said quietly, the corners of her mouth turning upwards in what she hoped was a reassuring smile as she lightly squeezed both of their arms. "Don't you?"