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"Really, Quark," Julian said, setting down his stethoscope perhaps less gently than he should have. "I don't see why you keep coming to see me."

"Now Doctor, it almost sounds like you don't want to see your patients."

Julian rolled his eyes, popping open the sterile wrap on a needle. "A check-up once every few months is one thing, but you've come to see me four times in the last week! If you would just tell me what you're convinced you have, I could - "

"I'm not convinced I have anything!" Quark snapped, holding out an arm and allowing Julian to swab it with iodine in silence, only muttering after he inserted the needle, "it's what I don't have that's concerning me."

"And just what do you mean by that?" Julian asked absently, his attention focused on the blood pooling at the bottom of a specimen tube. For the number of tests Quark had requested - well, demanded was the more accurate term for it - he would need enough blood to fill... four and two-thirds tubes this size. His attention shifted back to Quark three and a half tubes later when he realized that nothing more than guilty silence had answered his question. At the wary, almost scared look on Quark's face, he grew properly suspicious. "Quark..."

The leprechaun shifted anxiously on the medical bed for a minute before blurting out, "I asked a favor of the Unseelie Court!"

"The Unseelie - " Recoiling, Julian nearly shoved the needle he'd just removed back into Quark's arm. The Unseelie Court was the more powerful of the two fae courts, by far, but it was almost by definition entirely populated with easily angered tricksters. No one who went to them did it purposefully, not unless they had a death wish - or were truly desperate. And God only knew how easily Quark could get truly desperate. "Quark, why? What did you do?"

Quark fidgeted. "Well, you know how my mother had that heart attack last week?"

"Yes," Julian said dryly, "I think I remember the King of the Sídhe storming into my clinic and demanding that I heal his lover."

Quark made a disgusted expression at the reminder of Zek and Ishka's relationship. "And you know how you said she needed bed rest? No physical activity for a week, nothing strenuous for the next month?"

"Funnily enough, I do remember the treatment recommendations I give my patients. What's this have to do with the Unseelie Court, Quark?"

"I'm getting there!" Taking a couple deep breaths, Quark continued, "We've been trying to keep this quiet, but... the King's not exactly... well. Anymore."

Julian blinked, taking this in. "Physically, or...?"

"Mentally. Mother's been guiding his business practices from behind the scenes for a while now, but he took it too far! He's..." Choked up, Quark had to stop for a moment. "He's offered females the right to own property - to own gold."

"How dreadful."

"Isn't it?" Quark shuddered at the thought. "The Sídhe's in chaos; a dozen different factions are trying to take control, but Maihar'du and Mother figured out that if they could convince just a handful that there's profit in giving females rights, Zek could maintain control."

Julian was starting to realize where this was going. "And with your mother unable to convince them..."

Quark huffed. "Well, it's not as if I know any other females we could bring into this."

"Not even... oh, what did Jadzia say her name was, Pel?"

"You know about her?" Quark was startled for a moment, then dismissed the suggestion with a shrug. "Even if I could reach her, it'd be no use; she's too far away to get here in time."

"So," Julian said, "you went to the Unseelie Court, and asked them to..."

"Make me a female," Quark concluded miserably. "I promised them a favor, any favor they'd like, to be redeemed in a year and a day, if only they would make me a female long enough to fool this stupid Nilva, but look at me! My ears are as big as ever, and so's my - "

"I get the picture," Julian said hurriedly.

"Even your human blood tests say my body hasn't changed," Quark concluded with a sob. "I've been cheated. The King is going to be dethroned, Mother will be imprisoned, and worst of all - I'm going to be fined." Wiping away tears, Quark sniffled and said, "I don't know what's wrong with me, I've been feeling so awful all week."

Finally, something Julian could work with: actual symptoms! "Really? How so?"

"Well... uncomfortable," Quark said, frowning. The word was clearly not sufficient to describe the feeling. "Wrong, like my skin is on backwards and inside out. Like parts of me aren't fitting together the way they should - like they're the wrong parts altogether! At first I thought it was part of the transformation, but - "

An idea was brewing in Julian's mind. An absurd, ridiculous idea - but who else but the Unseelie Court would do such an absurd, ridiculous thing? "I wouldn't be so sure you were wrong about that, Quark," he said, dashing over to his shelf of reference books. Pulling out a copy of the latest DSM, he briefly checked the index before flipping a couple hundred pages in. "You said you asked the Unseelie Court to make you female. Did you specify biologically female?"

"What?" Quark blinked a few times, confused. "No, I didn't specify - I mean, why should I have to? What other kind of female is there?"

Julian handed Quark the text and pointed at a paragraph.

Quark read. Then reread. Then rereread.

"Oh," she said, dumbly.