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It was a just another normal evening on Deep Space Nine. As the time approached 25:00 hours, Quark looked up from his station behind the bar. He glanced at the doors of the holosuites, almost as an afterthought. Any moment, the two would be getting out.

Lieutenant Jadzia Dax strolled past the door of the bar. As she caught the Ferengi’s eye, she subtly raised her eyebrows, as a silent question. He shook his head. The whole exchange was almost unnoticeable.

Without missing a step, she passed the bar by, and strolled down the promenade.

 ***

 

Quark placed three glasses on the bar.

“So, who won?” he asked, as he poured three drinks from three separate bottles.

The Klingon’s silence was deafening. 

After an awkward moment, the Klingon reached for his glass.

“Morn … is a very worthy opponent,” Worf finally growled. He lifted his glass of prune juice as a silent toast, took a quick gulp, and then firmly placed the glass back on the bar.

“You mean, he won.” Quark’s snaggletooth grin was brave. “Again.”

Morn shook his elongated head, gently. His face pleaded, begged for silence. There was a tiny hint of fear visible in his eyes, and his small ears - perched near the top of his balding head - seemed to wiggle just a little.

Worf began to growl, from deep within, as if trying to control a primal urge. Finally, he grumbled, in a low voice. “I should have known that I could not trust you … to be discreet.”

By the time Jadzia made her way back to the bar,  it was clear that someone had made a scene. A big scene. Quark shooed away the security officer on duty, refusing to press charges. A half dozen patrons stood by the door, waiting to reenter the bar. A crowd began to gather behind them in the promenade, trying to get a peek inside. A small army of Ferengi waiters were picking up and wiping down the barstools scattered around the front of the bar.  Quark’s brother Rom picked up the larger shards of glass from the floor, while a crouching Broink cleaned up the smaller bits and pieces from the mess Rom left behind.

“What’s happened?” the Lieutenant asked, as she needled her way through the crowd. Lt. Commander Worf seemed more uncomfortable than usual. Quark saw his opening, so he chimed in.

“It was Morn. He threw another one of his tantrums.” Quark pulled down a tall, thin fluted glass from the shelf, and began to pour a drink for the Lieutenant.

“Morn?” Jadzia asked, surprised, as she took a seat at the bar. “That’s the third tantrum this month!”

“Tell me about it!” Quark replied, as he typed up a list of damages on his pad.

“Well, Quark, you don’t seem all that upset about it.”

“It’s ok. I’ll just add the damages to his monthly bar tab.” The Ferengi smiled. “Anyway, whatever Morn does, he’s always good for business. Just look at how many customers this one tantrum alone will bring in.”

Worf still looked uncomfortable.

 “Worf, you didn’t threaten him again, did you?” Jadzia was teasing him.

“I did no such thing.” Worf replied, indignantly.

“No, he just told Morn he couldn’t be trusted with a secret.”

“Worf!” Jadzia scolded the Klingon. From anyone other than Dax it would have been a great dishonor.

“Well, I’ve never seen him so upset before,” Quark added with an uncharacteristic Hu-manitarian tone in his voice. “But, I really can’t blame him. He feels…unloved.”

“Unloved? Morn?” Jadzia was surprised at the very thought of it.

“Yes! Unloved!” Quark reply shot across the bar. After a moment of silence, he continued.  “The Ferengi, well, we’re used to people not trusting us.”

“With good reason!” Worf barked.

“We’re a very misunderstood species.” Quark glared at the Klingon. Then, his tone turned serious. Concerned. “But Morn isn’t a Ferengi… No, he’s quite emotional. Erratic. But also fragile.”

“Morn is not fragile.” Worf said, almost defensively. Acknowledging that he was fragile would call his own ability as a warrior into doubt.

“He’s… sensitive.” Jadzia added gently. She gazed into her glass, as if reminiscing about Morn.

“Sensitive?” Worf was shocked at the word.

“Yes. Sensitive.” Quark agreed. “And what you just saw was a crushed, dejected Lurian tearing apart my bar! He’ll probably spend the rest of the evening crying in his quarters. Alone.”

“Someone should check on him,” Jadzia noted.

“He’ll get over it.” Again, the Klingon was unconvinced.

“He might get over it, but I may not. Look! I can’t believe it… Profits are already down 40% since he’s left!” Quark's eyes were fixed on his pad. Then, as if snapped back into reality, Quark made a quick, nodding motion to Broink, who immediately began letting customers back in the door.

Dax turned her back to the Ferengi, who was now distracted by his spreadsheets. Worf turned around, with her.

“Worf, you really hurt his feelings,” Jadzia said, in a low voice as she tried not to embarrass him. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you broke Morn’s hearts.”

“I disagree.” Worf’s upper lip curled into a slight snarl.

“I think you should apologize. It is the honorable thing to do.”

“Apologize?” Worf’s tone made it sound like a statement, but he was – in his own way – asking for Dax’s advice. Jadzia understood. But even more, Curzon - the Dax symbiont’s previous host - understood Worf’s problem with apologies.

“Worf, you should make him feel like a … friend… not just another resident alien on the station. Treat him like a confidant. Confide in him.”

“Confide in him,” Worf repeated, unconvinced.

“You really have no choice, Worf,” she said, with a subtle shrug. “It is the honorable thing to do.”

 ***

“Morn. I must speak to you.”

The Lurian shifted uncomfortably in his barstool as the Klingon approached.

“Do not worry.” Worf took a breath, and struggled with his choice of words. “It seems I have… misjudged you. I understand now that it was The Ferengi’s fault.” Worf would not even mention Quark’s name.

Morn shook his head nervously, worried that yesterday’s tantrum could easily lead to bloodshed today.

“Do not worry. I will not harm you. Or him.” Worf stated. The last statement, however, was followed by a grumble that suggested otherwise.

“Lieutenant Dax has assured me that you are an honorable confidant, and that you would never betray my trust.”

Perhaps it was Jadzia’s reassurances. Or perhaps it was the blood wine. Whatever it was, Worf and Morn spent the next few hours bonding at the bar – to everyone’s surprise and fascination.

Morn’s rendition of Aktuh and Maylota impressed everyone, even the station’s resident expert on Klingon operas.  

“You have performed well. I was unaware you were fluent in Klingon.”

“’IwlIj jachjaj!” Worf toasted, more than once, holding up his flagon.

Finally, the two sparring partners settled down, as they discussed their great victories – Worf’s, on the bridge of the Enterprise, and Morn’s, in affairs of the hearts.

“THAT is a private matter,” Worf grumbled, seemingly annoyed by Morn’s last question. Then, he remembered why he was there. He considered Jadzia’s request, that he try to open up more to Morn. Perhaps this was the time to … share.

“It would have been … dishonorable … to continue our relationship.”   

For once, Morn fell silent. He lowered his eyes and stared into his drink. His ears wiggled, just a bit, the way they did when he was deep in thought.

Worf sighed, fully acknowledging that Morn was a far greater opponent in understanding matters of passion.

“A Klingon woman would not behave as the Commander - as Deanna did. It was clear that she was still   attached to Commander Riker.”

“No, not in that way. She never betrayed me.”

Worf considered how much he should reveal to Morn. He was, after all, considered the biggest gossip on the station. And he had no use for gossip. But if Morn could perform Klingon opera with such great passion, Worf realized that the Lurian must be a man with at least some sense of honor.

He dropped his voice, making it clear that what he was about to say must be kept in the deepest of confidence.

“Our respect for one another was strong. And her love for Alexander was our bond. But, it was clear that her connection to Commander Riker was too strong to ever be fully broken. And that is something I could not live with.”

Worf’s voice lowered once more, to almost a whisper.

“As I am beginning to move on, I cannot imagine being with any female who could not take our relationship VERY seriously.” Worf could not help but let his thoughts focus on Jadzia. 

“Then, when I received my new orders, to transfer here to DS9, it seemed like an honorable way for both of us to end our relationship. But I knew - long before then - that we were never really meant to be.”

 ***

Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir hesitated. The two men stood a few meters away from the door of Quark’s. They were nervous, and unsure how to approach the task at hand. The two tried not to stare at the bulky figure seated at the first stool by the door, but their attempt to hide their ulterior motive made it all the more obvious.

“She said we should just talk to him,” Miles O’Brien whispered. “Make him feel like he’s one of the family.”

“But I don’t really like my family…” Julian joked. At least Miles thought he was joking.

“Come on, now. He’s feeling a bit down lately. As if people don’t trust him.”

“Well, do you blame them?” the Doctor replied. “Talking with Morn is … well, it’s like being the lead story for the Federation News Service.”

“Come on, now! Don’t you think you’re exaggerating a bit?”

“Tell me, Miles, when you need to know the latest gossip on the station, who do you ask?”

“I don’t need to know the latest gossip.”

“But if you did, who would you go to?”

“Well…” Miles agreed.

“You see,” Julian cut in. “You’d go to Morn. Everyone knows he can’t keep a secret. Lieutenant Dax says he is trying… but… I don’t know what kind of secret I’d be willing to trust him with.”

“Well, who would YOU go to, to learn all about the station’s gossip?” the Chief asked his friend, with a slight chortle.

“That’s easy,” Julian responded. “I’d ask Garak.”

“Be serious, now.”

“I am being serious. You’d be amazed how much he observes, hemming trousers.”

“Bollocks.”

“Well, it’s true.” The Doctor stretched his neck, just a bit, to see past a group of Pakleds blocking his view of Morn. Miles harrumphed.

“Seriously, Miles, what do think we should say?” the Doctor whispered back, emphasizing the last word.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you can just tell him about your latest miracle in the infirmary.”  Miles was being sarcastic. But only slightly.

“Well, that’s no secret.”

Miles shook his head. It was not so long ago when he would have completely misinterpreted the Doctor’s conceit.

“Well, you could tell him about… your relationship with Leeta!”

“I’m sure he’s already heard all about it.”

“Sure, but not from your side. And I bet she tells it better.” Miles smiled, finally getting the upper hand in the conversation.

Not to be outdone, the doctor countered.

“Well, maybe you could tell him about how much you miss the Major.”

The Chief shot a dirty glance towards his friend.

Julian had obviously hit a nerve.

Since Nerys left for Bajor - No, since Major Kira left for Bajor, several days ago, things just didn’t feel right at home. He tried to hide the emptiness from his wife, Keiko. But it was clear that he missed her.  He really missed her. She was, after all, the woman who was carrying his child. No. Wait. She was, after all, the woman who was carrying his and Keiko’s child.

“And just what is that supposed to mean?”

 “Nothing.” Julian shrugged his shoulders, glanced back towards the bar, and began to move in that direction.

“Now, wait a minute. Are you suggesting…”

“Look, there’s nothing to be ashamed of…”

“I’m not ashamed…!” Miles shot back, defensively.

“And there’s nothing to be defensive about!”

“I. Am. Not. Being. Defensive.”

“Then, go on and tell him.” Julian gestured towards the door, and the two men slowly began to walk towards the bar.

 “Well, then,” Miles finally responded, taking a deep breath. “Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.”

“Wait, what did you say?” Julian froze in his footsteps. “You can’t be serious?”

“Maybe you should go, Julian.” Miles said. “This is probably something I should do alone. I’ll catch up with you, later.” 

Julian’s expression turned from playful teasing to a combination of surprise and disgust. It wasn’t a reflection on the Major – an attractive woman, if ever he did see one. It was the mere thought of – no, it was the mere possibility of -  his friend having feelings for any woman other than his wife, Keiko. Miles O’Brien was, after all, the very model of a happily married man. But in this case, he was a happily married man who also shared his quarters with the surrogate mother of their child.

“Miles, are you really serious?” Julian asked his friend, once again. This time he was genuinely concerned. “I mean, this is… well, serious.”

“Well, why don’t you come by and ask Morn about it. Tomorrow. After all, everyone knows he can’t keep a secret.”

The Chief smirked, and headed toward Quark’s.

 ***

“So he’s not here, either?” he whispered.

Morn shook his head.

“You’d think he was hiding from me.”

Shakaar let out a deep, deep sigh. His entourage of advisors and station security, all just barely a few steps away, were concerned. This wasn’t what they had in mind when they agreed to accompany The First Minister of Bajor and Major Kira Nerys back to Deep Space Nine. They followed close behind everywhere he went, careful not to let anyone get too close.  They were sure, after they dropped the Major off at her empty quarters - at the O’Brien’s empty quarters – that he would be ready to turn around and head back to the capital. But when he began a stationwide search for the Chief, they were completely confused.

Oddly enough, it was unclear whether the crowds in and around Quark’s bar were here to see The First Minister, or to take his place at the bar next to Morn.

“First Minister. It is time to go.” His aide suggested, growing impatient.

“No, I think I’ll stay here a bit.” Shakaar smiled at a few passing Bajorans, and even shook a few hands. But it wasn’t his constituents that he was here to see.

Perhaps it was the good feeling he had, not being cooped up in some administrator’s office for a change. Perhaps it was just the way that Morn knew so much about Bajor; he had been here since the occupation, and he obviously knew as much about Bajor’s history and politics as any alien on that station. Or perhaps it was that third glass of Spring Wine. Whatever it was, Shakaar felt completely comfortable with Morn.

They made a toast to Bajor, and to the brave resistance fighters that she produced under the Cardassian occupation.

Shakaar mentioned what a great visit he had had with the Major over the past few days.

“It was a great visit,” Shakaar sighed. “Until Miles popped up.”

Morn seemed surprised. And a bit confused.

“No. Not the Chief. The name.” Shakaar’s calmness quickly left him, as he began to stew over the night’s events, once more.

“I knew something was about to go wrong, when she met me at the capital.” He felt slightly guilty for complaining. He lowered his voice, so not even the Ferengis with their big lobes would be able to hear.

“I was supposed to meet her in Musilla province. An old friend has an cottage there. You know, romantic. Secluded. Away from this…” He motioned towards the crowds around the station. “But I was ok with staying in the capital. Any place was fine with me, as long as we could be together. Alone.”

Morn nodded. He understood. Romance was, after all, one of his favorite subjects.

“I cancelled a few late meetings, and we went back to my quarters. I drew her a calming bath – she was complaining about being pregnant, you know? We ate dinner on the floor. I began to give her a gentle massage.”

Morn smiled, and drew in nearer to hear Shakaar as he continued to lower his voice.

“She was really enjoying herself, too.” The two men chuckled, knowingly. “And that’s when it happened.”

Shakaar took a long swig of his drink, as if needing it to finish the story.

“As she began to relax, completely, she gently called out his name. Miiiiles.” Shakaar said, imitating the Major. Then he shook his head, deeply frustrated. “I tried not to let it get to me. I mean, she is living with him – with the O’Briens. I guess it’s completely understandable. But…

“Then, when we got back to the station, the first person she wanted to see was…” Shakaar didn’t even have to finish the sentence. “That’s why I wanted to get to him. Before she could.”

***

He had heard through certain… channels… that the entire population of Deep Space Nine was on a mission. A fool’s mission. Or perhaps it was a mission of mercy.  If his sources were right – and they always were! – the latest pastime on the station was spending an evening with Morn. Even the First Minister of Bajor was reportedly seen sitting on a barstool next to him at Quark’s.  

“It seems rather … shortsighted … for everyone on the station to share their deepest, darkest secrets with Morn,” Garak thought to himself, as he straightened the clothes on their hangers. “Anyway, what good are  secrets, if they are passed around, freely, like cheap hors d'œuvres at a party?

Alas, it was his time to join the rest of the station in this bizarre ritual. Confiding in Morn. Never in a million years would he have guessed his life would come to this. As if peddling ladies scarves wasn’t an indignation enough for the former agent of the Obsidian Order.

The Cardassian tailor slowly made his way to the door of his tailor shop. He hesitated. He paused. He carefully arranged each one of his creations as he walked passed them. He lingered at each dress and each scarf, as he ran his fingers down the soft fabric. He made sure each thread was in its correct place. He brushed the lint off the wool jackets. He gently guided Tholian silk to its proper position on a padded hanger.

All the while, he tried to conjure up a story – a confession – to share with the Lurian. He considered every possible storyline, and twisted each one beyond recognition. He weighed each word, until a word was no more than a mere suggestion. And like strands of thread in an intricate tapestry, the subtext that he planned on weaving throughout his narrative would need to be perfectly placed. Yet, like a seam in a finely tailored shirt, the true construction of each thread should not be too obvious, lest it be considered garish.

He considered a patchwork quilt, of a dialog consisting of thousands of pieces of cloth. Or perhaps his words could be thinly veiled and ethereal, like the loose wrap that draped off the shoulders of an Aenar Guard on Andoria.

Yes. When it came to creating a story, Garak knew that he needed to consider all the possibilities.

Finally, when he believed he had woven his tale, he left his shop, locked the door behind him, and made his way through the promenade. He wasn’t sure if he looked forward to the challenge, or if this whole fool’s errand was a complete waste of his time.

Still, Garak rather liked Morn. After all, if there was one thing that Cardassians loved, it was conversation. And Morn was exceptional at it.

Oh, not in the way that his conversations with Doctor Bashir were exceptional. The Doctor, after all, was spectacular. Incredible, even.

The weekly luncheons he shared with the young doctor were delicious. But every time Garak sat down with the Doctor for a meal, the banter was always far better than the food. Each word they exchanged was rich. Each debate - spicy. Like a box of dark Dalavian Chocolates, the texture of their conversation was complex. Each bite drew him in, deeper and deeper. The sweet tastes of conversation lingered on his tongue.

These lunches appealed to his senses – all of them. The emotions they conjured were powerful – more powerful even than hunger. Indeed, he craved spending time with the Doctor, more and more each day.

Yes, when it came to titillating conversations, the Doctor was in a category all his own.

As he approached the bar, Garak took a deep breath, and composed himself. He was still convinced that the whole endeavor was utterly absurd. Just what was the point of confessing your deepest secrets to the station’s resident gossip? After all, there was no way that Morn could keep a secret.

Why torture the man?

And with that thought, Garak smiled and entered the bar.

“Good evening, Morn!” Garak seemed to sing, as he approached him from behind. “I must say, I am quite surprised to find you sitting here alone! May I join you? And I see you already have a drink…”

 “Tell me, my friend,” the tailor continued, excited to begin his work. “Just how well do you know Doctor Bashir…?”

 ***

“Really, you won’t tell me?”

Julian seemed shocked, as he stared into Morn’s worried face.  The Lurian almost seemed like he was about to burst. Obviously, he knew some sort of secret. And Doctor Bashir desperately wanted to know EXACTLY what it was.

“You won’t tell me, or you can’t tell me.”

Morn turned to avoid his gaze.

“Did he say anything – anything at all! - about the Major?” He exhaled, exasperated.

Frustrated, the Doctor shook his head, and swiveled in his bar stool to leave.

***

“I’m glad to finally see you alone.” The Ferengi leaned across the bar, and smirked. “I have a proposition for you. And it could make you, and me, quite a bit of profit.”

Morn seemed exhausted, but a bit relieved to have some conversation about something – about ANYTHING - other than station gossip.  He hunched over the bar, to listen to Quark’s proposition.

Quark’s voice got lower, and his smile a bit wider. He leaned in to Morn, until their noses almost touched. “I’ve heard - from a very reliable source - that one of my costumers is willing to pay us five bars of gold-pressed latinum – EACH! -for your involvement in a certain artistic endeavor.”

Morn recoiled, then sat up straight. He looked around to see if anyone was listening, then leaned in again.

“How would you like to be the star of a new holosuite program?” Quark handed a pad across the bar for Morn to look at the specs.

It didn’t take very long for Morn to slam the pad on the table.

 “Really? I would think Morn Porn would be a really big seller.”

He shrugged, as he watched Morn storm out the door.

***

Hands behind her back, Jadzia strolled into Quark’s Bar with a slight smirk on her face.  Business was good, but the station’s most popular confidant was not sitting in his regular seat. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.

Now was as good a time as any.

“So, Quark, it’s been over two weeks,” Jadzia said. “Any security breaches?”

“Not that I can tell. At least Odo hasn’t arrested me. Yet.”

Jadzia chuckled.  “Well, do we have a winner?”

A bit annoyed, Quark took out a pad, and called up a spreadsheet. Looking at the numbers, he produced a fake smile, saying “Oh, well, that’s not so many!”

“Quark.” Jadzia knew that tone.

“All right. As of this afternoon, I calculate no less than…” He paused, giving his co-conspirator a slightly annoyed look. Finally, he reluctantly called out the tally.

“Ninety-two Starfleet officers, plus twelve of their family members. Twenty members of Bajoran security, thirty assorted civilians, and, oh yes, eighteen shopkeepers. Oh, and there might have been a Ferengi or two.”

"Two?"

"Maybe three."

“You?”

“And Broink. And my brother, Rom. Who knew Rom had any secrets worth sharing?” Quark let out a little chuckle.

“And that’s just here in the Bar.” Jadzia said, gloating. “There’s no telling how many others cornered him in the turbolifts, and bared their souls to Mourn. Has he talked?”

“Not to me he hasn’t,” Quark said, disappointed. “And it wasn’t for lack of trying!”

“No. Not to me either. And from the sound of it, he hasn’t uttered a single word of gossip in two whole weeks.”

“You’re right,” Quark agreed, with a small grimace. “If he slipped up, everyone on the station would know by now.”

 “I’ve got to hand it to Morn,” Jadzia said, a smile on her face. “He had half the station confiding in him these past two weeks, and he didn’t say a word. Not a single word.”

With that, Quark shook his head, and harrumphed. Jadzia stretched out her arm, and opened her hand in front of him.

Reluctantly, he pulled out three strips of gold-pressed latinum from his lapel, and gently placed them in the Lieutenant’s open palm. But before he let them settle in place, he just had to ask.

“Would you like to go double, or nothing?”

Jadzia took the latinum, and squeezed it tightly in her hand.

“Can you keep a secret?” Jadzia asked, leaning across the bar. “I honestly don’t think he could handle it.”