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Out of the mouth of Babes

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“What do you mean, you can’t hail the shuttle?” O’Brien gripped.

“Chief, you know as much as I do,” Dax said as she worked with her console. “The hail isn’t getting through due to the heavy ionized particles that seem to be laced on the hull. But from all indications, life signs read all right, so it must have other internal problems, that’s why it’s off course,” she said.

“Ah! I’ve got a tractor beam on um,” Miles replied. “Guiding them to shuttle bay twelve.”

“Chief, now that they’re getting closer, these readings are all over the place,” Dax stated as she looked over the data once more.

“Might I suggest a medical team just in case,” he replied.

“Good idea. Contact Dr. Giranni and have her meet us down there,” Dax said as she moved toward the lift to leave ops.

 

************************

The shuttle was landed and the bay depressurized as Dax, Miles, Dr. Giranni, and Constable Odo moved in to see what had happed to their friends and comrades. For the shuttle was a day overdue from Ragnick two and with no word from the shuttle carrying Captain Sisko, Major Kira, Commander Worf and Dr. Bashir had some people very on edge. But now that the shuttle was here, and life signs were evident, the next question was what happened.

The small group approached the tinny craft and noticed that it had not opened. “Do you think they’re injured?” Dax asked as she moved to the hatch.

“No, life signs still read normal, and there is definitely activity inside,” Miles replied and Dr. Giranni agreed.

Jadzia was about to reach for the outside door panel when it started to open. The sound that reached her ears was a total surprise.

“You stupid Klingon! I can kick your ass any day of the week!” cried a young male’s voice

“I’ll crush you into grain dust!” a young Klingon shouted back, and before anyone could act, two small boys came tumbling out, engaged in a fight.

One was a small dark human male around ten years old wearing a red Starfleet uniform that had Captain’s pips on it. The other boy was around the same age, but Klingon, and had the same rank as Worf. The group stared in disbelief as another voice echoed from the shuttle.

“You’re both a bunch of Cardassian ass kissers!” a young foul-mouthed Bajoran girl, around nine, shouted as she ran out and pounced on both the boys.

The three of them were fighting, as the group stood silent for a few moments longer. Then Miles, a father of two kicked into gear. “Knock it off!” he shouted in his deep parental voice. He watched the children stop and finally took notice of the adults around them. “What in begora is going on here?” Miles asked, frustrated, not really expecting an answer.

“He told me that he should be in charge, just because he’s Klingon,” The young boy started rattling. “But I said no, because I’m wearing a Captain’s uniform I should be. Then ‘she’ had to put her big ugly nose into it saying that she should be incharge because her father is a freedom fighter…ooh, like I care.” The boy said smugly.

“Ben?” Dax asked

“Yeah?” the boy in red answered. “Hey, you’re pretty.”

“Ah, thank you,” Dax said looking at Miles.

“Worf?”

“He fights without honor, otherwise I would have kicked his ass…all over the quadrant!” the young Klingon growled and was ready to jump Sisko had the constable not grabbed him.

“Major…um…Kira?” Odo asked

“Who wants to know!” the girl snapped in a defensive tone.

Dr. Giranni scanned them, and then looked at Dax. “They appear to be healthy children of their perspective species,” she said, then looked around. “Aren’t we missing one?”

“Julian?” Miles said with concern as he moved toward the shuttle. He entered inside and had to look around before he spotted the small, dark haired, big-eyed child peeking out from behind the pilot’s chair. The boy looked about seven years old, possibly eight, as he slowly moved down from the chair and walked cautiously toward Miles.

“Julian?” Miles asked, seeing just how cute a child his best friend was.

“Did they stop fighting?” the tiny voice said.

“Ah, yes…yes they did,” Miles answered taken in awe of the bright dark eyes. He reached out slowly holding his hand out. “We should join the others, okay?”

“I can’t go till I find Kukalaka,” the boy said in another whispered tone.

Miles thought about it, and knew, “Ah, he’s waiting for you in your cabin,” Miles answered. It was the truth, Julian didn’t go anywhere without it, he said when he was a child, and took the bear to every station he went to, DS9 being no exception. His answer was enough to ease the small boy whom than walked forward and took Miles hand and gave a warm smile, full of trust and innocents.

“Oh, look, they found wussy boy!” Sisko teased getting a chuckle from Kira and Worf.

The adults noticed the sadness that filled the big doe eyes of Julian, but not a word was said or a tear shed. He just walked with Miles as the group was led to the infirmary. Once there all the children were given full physicals and pronounced healthy, much to the dismay of those around them.

“How is it possible?” Miles asked, while trying to keep an eye on the kids, especially Sisko and Worf who looked for any and all opportunities to start a fight with each other. Kira may not have started them, but she tried to finish them and poor Julian, he’d just inch away into the shadows.

“I don’t know,” Dax answered with her own frustration clear on her face. “I’ll examine the shuttle see if there are any clues. You go over their logs, see if they made any indication of what may have happened to them.”

“Find, but what do we do with them in the mean time?” Miles asked.

The crash of metal and the shouts and screams of Human, Bajoran, and Klingon filled the air once more and Miles and Dax were on the move to break it up. With the help of the medical staff, all three were in separate corners. Miles was getting Bajoran teeth marks removed from his hand as he looked at the Constable, and Dax. “So, again, what do we do with them?”

“Do you think Keiko…”

“Awwww, no! I have two little ones as it is. Those three terrors would be the death of us both.”

“Miles, they need a place to stay, and there aren’t really any other families on board,” Jadzia reminded him.

Miles seeing he wasn’t going to get out of this unscared, “All right, but one of them. Kira, for she and Molly are about the same age and maybe, just maybe they’ll get along. But I put my foot down; I’ll not take those other terrors.”

“That’s fine,” Dax smiled thoughtfully. “Hmm, well, since I know Ben the best, I’ll take him…Odo?”

“Is keeping them in the brig truly out to the question?” The Constable asked, then seeing they wouldn’t agree, replied, “I’ll take Commander Worf. So, who’ll take Dr. Bashir?”

Then Miles and Dax looked around, then so did the Constable, Julian was no where insight. “Didn’t you see him?” Dax asked with concern.

“Last time I saw him was twenty minutes before all hell broke loose,” Miles replied.

“Just great, he must have run off. Constable…”

“I’ll have my men on it right away. In the mean time, I suggest you find him a place to stay until this matter is resolved.”

 

****************************

Quark’s bar was busy as always, people of all races piled in for drinks and gambling, and Quark was busy making the most of it. He was in the middle of a transaction over some special Vulcan wine, when Garak walked up to the bar wanting more Kanar.

“I’ll be with you in just a minute,” Quark said then turned to the human male he was doing business with. “So at twenty bars of latinum at thirty percent finders fee for six bottles…that’ll be…160 bars of latinum,” he grinned.

The human was about to dig in his bag when a tiny voice echoed up, “156, sir.”

The human and the Ferengi looked down to see a young dark haired, olive skinned boy in a blue medical uniform climb up onto a stool in between Garak and the human. His big eyes wide with all that was around him, and he was excited.

“What did you say?” the human asked.

“156 bars of latinum, not 160,” the young boy smiled then turned and noticed Garak for the first time, his eyes went wide in amazement. “You’re a lizard man!” he stated with glee.

“Don’t pay any attention to the kid, besides, their not allowed in here,” Quark said, trying to move on with business. “It’s 160.”

“No, that’s not right. Twenty times six is one hundred and twenty and thirty percent of this is thirty six so together it’s one hundred and fifty six,” the boy smiled, a beautiful smile of pride.

Garak laughed, “The boy is right” then looked at the beautiful young man. “That’s an interesting outfit you have on, do mind if I ask where you got it?” he asked, for it was too conspicuous that a young man with Julian’s complexion, which he knew all too well, wearing his uniform to just wonder in.

“You trying to cheat me, Quark?” The human huffed.

“No, no, it…it must been a glitch in the calculator,” the Ferengi said, trying to cover of for being caught. “The boy’s right. 156 bars,” he chuckled nervously.

“For the insult I’ll give you 150, take it or leave it!”

“Very well,” Quark said and gave the young boy a dirty look, but the boy was too involved with the Cardassian to notice.

“I don’t know. I had it when I woke up this morning, and I found myself with the others.” The young boy said.

“My name is Garak, and you would be?”

“Jules. Jules Bashir, though some kids tease me and call me Julie, but it’s Jules” he said.

“Ah, and who are the others, if you don’t mind me asking,” Garak inquired.

“Um…Kira, Ben, and Worf, but I don’t like them very much, for they fight all the time and are mean to me,” he said with a small pout. Then his eyes glazed over as he reached out and touched Garak’s scales. “Wow! I thought they’d be rough like the lizards we have back on Earth, but their soft. Do you have a fork tongue?”

Garak raised an eyeride, “A what?”

“A fork tongue? Most lizards on earth have forked tongues', do you?”

Garak smiled at the inquisitive child, “No, I do not, see,” and he stuck his tongue out, and the small boy just giggled.

“Are you hungry?” Garak asked.

“Oh, yes, Mister Garak, sir. I’m awfully hungry. The others…um, Miles and Dax and the doctors have been poking us for over two hours, and they won’t tell us anything about our parents.”

“Are you frightened?” Garak asked, with some concern for his now young friend.

“No,” Jules replied with a sincere smile. “I feel safe with you, though for awhile I was.”

Garak couldn’t suppress his smile, “Well, then how about lunch. Say, Milk and cookies?”

Jules giggled. “Mother would have a fit, if I ate desert without a proper lunch.”

“Well, I won’t tell if you don’t,” Garak teased as he ordered two glasses of milk and a plate of what he happened to know was Julian’s favorite, Chocolate chip walnut cookies.

“Oh, are those your favorite too?”

“Why, yes they are,” Garak said, not really lying, for they were the only human cookies he had really tried and he did like them.

“There you are,” Odo growled as he moved through the bar.

Jules grabbed Garak’s hand tightly, though he didn’t cry or shake, jut held on tightly, and not letting any blood reach his fingers. “Why, Constable,” Garak said in a soothing tone to ease his young friend. “Have you met my new friend, Jules Bashir?”

“Hmm, Jules, Julian…either way, you shouldn’t run off like that. You need to come back to the infirmary with me,” Odo said dryly.

“But…but we were…” the soft voice trailing off into silence.

“We we’re about to have milk and cookies, Constable. But you are more then welcome to join us,” Garak mused giving a light squeeze to the boy’s hand to let him know all would be well.

“He needs to go back to the infirmary, until they find someone to look after him. I’m sure you know the problem, and I think would be more than willing to cooperate.”

“Ah, my dear Constable, I am cooperating. If young Jules needs a place to stay while this…matter is worked out, then he may stay with me, for the good Doctor and I are good friends and I am sure he’d insist on it, don’t you?” Garak replied, giving a wide smile hearing the warm soft yelp of glee that Jules gave when he heard he’d be staying with Garak. “But I’ll be sure to report back to the infirmary with him, so they can double check just how healthy and well looked after he is, right after we have our milk and cookies. So, if you’ve no more business, then shuffle off,” Garak said and gave a wave of his fingers dismissing the Constable, and getting a huge giggle from the small boy, especially when Odo actually left.

“I like you,” Jules said with a huge grin as his milk and plate of cookies arrived.

“I like you, too,” Garak returned, drinking his milk, which he didn’t like anywhere near as much as he did the young boy next to him. He was touched to see the little boy divide the cookies evenly, even splitting the odd one in half, and giving the bigger one to him, and when Garak protested, the boy only said, that since Garak was bigger he’d need more food. When they were done, as promised Garak took Jules back the infirmary, holding the small child’s hand the entire time.

“Ah, I heard that you’d take Julian in,” Dax said as she was going over some materials, and keeping an eye on a young Ben Sisko, now dressed in civilian cloths moving boxes around and gripping with every step.

“You heard correctly,” Garak replied, a small smile at seeing how Lt. Dax was handling the over zealous former Captain. Deep down he was glad to see the boy punished, for Julian had said that they all had picked on him, and could see the hurt in his young eyes, this he found intolerable. “As promised, I brought him back for you to give him a look over, and ask for an update on the situation.”

“Well, they left as adults and came back as healthy children. More than that, we don’t know, but believe me, if we find anything, we’ll let you know. Here,” She said handing Garak a PADD. “It contains basic stuff, and access to Julian’s quarters, for Miles has informed me there is a vital asset there that Julian will most likely need,” she smiled.

“Kukalaka!” the tiny voice chirped with excitement.

Dax couldn’t help look down at the excited youth, and take note to how beautiful and fragile a child he seemed to be. Her mind shot back to the tale Julian had shared with his friends about going into the hospital at age six and suddenly find himself aware of a whole New World around him. This lovely young boy was seven and a half, only eighteen months after that awful experiment, and now as far as he was concerned was on board a strange space station without his parents and no explanation. //Hmm, none of the children have even really fussed over not being with their parents, // it struck her. Her inquisition must have shown on her face.

“Lt.?” Garak asked.

“It just occurred to me that even though to all testing, they are just typical healthy children with no memory of anything beyond this stage, and though they asked about their parents, not one of them has made a fuss over being with them?”

Garak looked down at Jules who had moved over to where Ben was working. He was about to ask a question, but watched as the older boy turned and growled at the young one, and before a word was said, responded to Dax’s command to get back to work. Garak watched as Jules walked back toward Garak, his head lowed, the rejection obvious on his face as he came to stand back next to his side.

“He’s just angry, don’t take it so personal,” Garak said as he knelt down to look Jules in his dark eyes.

“Yes, but he also doesn’t think I’m good enough to be his friend, like the others, Just because I don’t like to fight.”

Garak raised an eyeridge at such an observation from such a small boy. “Why don’t you like standing up for yourself?”

“I…I don’t see why I should have to hurt someone to prove anything,” Jules said softly, his eyes shying away. “Besides, what does it matter, I’m not like other kids, never have been.”

Garak looked up to see that his heart was not the only one to wrench at the small boys admission of lack of worth, for he saw Dax’s small gasp of emotional pain, as he felt his. “Jules Bashir,” Garak said with a new found conviction to right what was made wrong. “You’re a bright, intelligent, and wonderful humanbeing. You are more than worthy of all and everyone’s friendship, love and respect, and don’t you forget it.”

“You really think so?” a tiny voice asked, a hint of hope tinged in it.

“Most defiantly, my young friend, most definitely.” Garak then stood up and saw the gleam on Lt. Commander Dax’s face, but he chose to ignore it. “If there is nothing else, I’m sure I have a lot to do to see Jules properly settled in,” he said then with PADD and Jules in tow headed out of the Sickbay. First stop, his shop for clothes, second, one vital Teddy bear.

 

***********************

Three weeks, three long weeks of hell, as Miles, Dax, and Odo put it as they traded off the tiny terrors for the fifth time. The only one who seemed to be more than pleased with their arrangement was Garak, and to no avail would trade Jules up to any of the others, no matter how they begged, and boy did they beg.

Odo found the little Klingon intolerable, for everything had to be traditional Klingon, and even as a child Worf was totally uptight. Kira made little Molly cry over and over again with the telling of her tales of what the Cardassian’s were like and what she was going to do them when she got old enough. Or she would be fighting with Molly trying to ‘toughen’ her up, as she put it. No, Kira wouldn’t take any coddling, and Kieko had enough. As for Dax, Ben was more stubborn as a child then as an adult, and she was quite surprised the little brat lived long enough to enter the academy much less grow up into one of her dearest friends.

No, the only one of the arrangements that was working out great was Garak and Jules. The older Cardassian took it upon himself to see that little Jules was ‘properly’ educated and was totally impressed at the compacity for learning the small boy had. He knew Julian was brilliant, he just didn’t know how brilliant until he watched this young version of him soak up knowledge like a sponge to water. The small boy eagerly helped out at the shop, and by the end of the first week could run the counter, and not one financial mistake. The only thing that contorted Garak, was that he loved the older version of this man with all his heart, and though they had been secretly in a relationship for over two years, caring for the small boy only increased not decreased his heart’s pain. Before he was content just being in the dark, in fact ‘he’ insisted on it, no matter how much Julian had protested it. But now, now he wanted his love back, he wanted…yes, he wanted a son just like Jules.

He knew it was important for children to interact with their own age. So he arranged with all the others who had children, being the O’Brien’s who adored little Jules, and the other temporary parents of the ‘tiny terrors’ as they were being called, he arranged for a play time. He supervised, keeping an eye on how the three warrior spirits collided, and Jules being too bright for Molly and too soft for the others, tend to drift off, so Garak intervened. He helped Julian gain a sense of imagination and pretend, knowing his love had one with all the ‘let’s play spy’ games he had. He just didn’t know that it must have developed later in Julian’s life. But once the little boy got the hang of it; he and Molly were the best of friends. Then it was a matter of dealing with the other three. He had what it took to keep them in line, he had plenty of experience with rouge spirits such as these, and even if Kira hated him for being Cardassian, he could deal with her too.

His opportunity arrived, when Miles and Dax approached him in need of his help in watching the children, for they believed they found the location of the anomaly that caused the change in their friends in the first place and were going to investigate it. Garak of course made them squirm, lightly teasing them that they were just looking for an excuse to dump the kids on him and run for the hills, and of course they were, but he did give in…with a few concessions in his favor of course.

He had a plan, it was simple, but would it work or would it backfire, hurting the young boy he loved. But for his sake, he had to try for every time he saw the hurt of rejection in those big eyes, he knew he had to change it. He also couldn’t help associating that in some way, the others treated Julian the adult, much like they did Jules the child, but with less tolerance. He had seen Julian struggle for yeas trying to gain the respect of these three over the years, and though to some degree he had won it, he never won their acceptance as ‘one of them.’ He hoped that was about to change.

After the Defiant was gone, and the station under temporary command of a Captain Winters. Garak arranged for a gathering in the holosuite. It was to be a picnic on Risa, for if he chose Cardassia, Kira balked. If he chose Earth, Worf balked, and if he chose anywhere associated to any of the children, one of the three balked. So, having been to Risa, he had chosen that as a place for this gathering to begin. As usual, either the three were arguing with each other, or trying to pick on Jules, which Garak wouldn’t stand for.

He almost gave up on his idea, but then he was determined to make a change. He made an excuse that he forgot something and left the children alone in the holosuite, and secured the door. He moved to where he could monitor the room, for he paid Quark handsomely for the privilege, and started to run the real program he had planned.

 

“Hey, Julie, why don’t you and prune nose go play baby dolls,” Ben teased chuckling and ribbing Worf, who too found it funny and laughed.

“I don’t play baby dolls, shit for brains!” Kira shouted ready to prove she was just as good if not better then anyone here.

Jules did what he normally did; he moved away and sat down under a tree reading a PADD waiting for Garak to return. He looked up and felt something was wrong, he was going to say something, but thought otherwise and kept silent.

The three were at it again, with Jules out of sight; they targeted their aggressions toward each other, either in challenges of physical feats or in fighting which was the results of the challenges for the losers always called the winner a cheat. Then it happened, the world they were playing in shook violently, the lights flickering, and Risa blinked from being a beautiful planet into a holo deck and back to Risa once again.

It happened three more times before all four of them found themselves huddled around the fake tree that Jules had been reading under, all afraid. The fourth time the planet winked out and all that was left was four young kids in the middle of a holo suit, huddled to each other now, and very much afraid. After what seemed forever, they finally broke apart and looked around, and listened. All was quiet, too quiet.

“What the hell was that all about?” Kira asked, though shaking still trying to keep up a brave face.

“I don’t know, but it must have been bad to shake the station so,” Ben replied, he too worked hard on keeping his face in control so he didn’t show how scared he was.

“It felt like the station was hit by a strong phaser blast,” Worf interjected.

“Oh, and how would you know?” Ben snapped.

“Because, that’s how it felt when it happened at Kittermer where my father died!” Worf shouted, anger and pain in his face.

“He’s right,” Jules said in a whisper as the two older boys stared down each other only to be taken back by Jules agreement. “Besides, there were also the electrical pulses that ran through the deck with each blast, a common result of energy attacks,” he finished.

“What! Now you’re an engineer…Julie,” Ben snipped.

“Hey, he’s right,” Kira snapped in Jules defense. “I saw them too, and my Father told me the same thing.”

“Fine,” Ben said folding his arms. “Well, I guess all we can do is wait till they get us out of here,” he said flatly.

“That is if anyone knows where here,” Kira added.

“Garak knows where here,” Jules said with hope.

“But if the station was attacked, he could have been hurt, as could many others on the station,” replied Worf, a slight tremor running through his small body.

“Is that what happened…back when…” Jules started to ask, but then became quiet.

“Ah, your just overreacting,” Ben quipped, but a twitch in his face indicated he wasn’t to sure of the situation himself.

“Well, if people are hurt, we need to get out of here,” Kira said with some urgency in her voice.

“Perhaps we should just wait awhile and see what happens,” Ben suggested.

Worf not knowing what to do just sat down on the bare floor, drew his knees up to him as he wrapped his arms around them. “Then we wait.”

“For how long?” Kira asked, still insistent they do something.

“I don’t know hour or so?” Ben replied with a shrug.

“An hour!” Kira exclaimed. Then her face reddened. “I don’t see why I should listen to a bone head like you,” she snapped. “I say we get out of here now!”

“Action is much better than wasted time,” Worf added from the floor.

The three locked eyes to kill, when a small voice broke it up, “How?” They all looked at Jules. “How do we get out of here? The computer responds to voice command, and while you all were…discussing, I tried and nothing.”

“No computer?” Kira asked taken back.

“Well, we don’t have a choice now,” Ben smirked. “We have to wait.”

“But…what if…” Kira didn’t finish, a bit of fear filling her eyes.

To everyone’s surprise, Ben walked up and gave Kira a hug, “Don’t worry, it’ll be all right,” he said with a strong reassurance.

The children sat in silence for what seemed like and eternity, but actually an hour, all sitting back to back in a circle, waiting, wondering.

“Does anyone else besides me, think it’s strange that none of us care whether or not our parents are around or not?” Jules asked, breaking the long silence.

“Well, now that you mentioned it,” Kira replied. “When they told me not to worry about them, that all was well and they’d handle things, I just didn’t give it as second thought.”

“Yeah, like we knew that this was…like normal,” Ben added.

“For four misplaced children, we do not fuss like we should. It is almost as we have accepted that this station is our home,” Worf replied.

“I overheard Dax and Miles say that we had been in some kind of accident that made us this way,” Jules said softly.

“Made what way?” Kira inquired.

“Accepting to our situation?” Ben asked.

“Did you hear what kind of accident?” Worf asked.

“Well, I heard them call Ben, Captain Sisko and say that he was the Commanding officer of this station, and that Kira was a Major and his second in Command. They also mentioned that you Worf were a Lt. and in Security, and that I was a Doctor,” Jules giggled.

“When did you here this?” Kira asked a bit irritated. “And why didn’t you tell us?”

“I heard it the first day we arrived here in sickbay,” Jules replied. Then he let his voice drop, “and I didn’t tell you because…well…you guys haven’t been very nice to me, I didn’t see the point.” He wrapped his arms around his knees and held for dear life for what bereavement that may becoming his way, to his surprise none came.

“We have been pretty rotten toward you,” Ben admitted quietly. “I’m…I’m sorry, Jules. I guess it was just easier to pick on you then face the fact that…well, you seem to take all this so calmly, like it doesn’t bother you, and I…well...”

“It bothers me,” Jules replied, his voice strained. “I bothers me a lot, its…well, ever since I got out of the hospital for being very sick, I…well, I was just so scared there, I think I just got cried out,” the small boy replied, his dark eyes wide, and a bit misty.

“You were in the hospital?” Kira asked softly. “What was wrong with you?”

“I don’t know, but my Mother said I needed to be fixed up, and that now I was all better,” Jules replied. “I got to see lot’s of doctors and nurses, and lots of hurt people, so…that’s why I don’t like to see you guys fight…you…you hurt each other.”

“It is honorable to fight for what is right,” Worf stated through clenched teeth.

“What is right about hurting Kira or Ben?” Jules asked innocently.

“Julie has a point,” Kira replied with light tears in her voice.

“I don’t like that name,” Jules shyly said.

“Oh…um…sorry, I…I was only…I’m sorry,” she said.

“It’s okay,” Jules smiled a little.

“So, why do ‘you’ think we don’t care about our parents or being on a strange space station?” Ben asked looking at Jules.

Jules looked taken back that the older boy was asking his opinion, and then twitched his mouth in thought for a few minutes. “Well, from what I heard and have seen, we were adults here on this station, and something happened to make us kids again. But some where inside we must remember this, so that’s why were not as frighten, as we should be. In fact, the fact we’re having this conversation instead of crying and panicking like most kids our age, must indicate we have retained some of those memories.”

Kira giggled. “You sound like a Vulcan,” she laughed, and then the others did too.

Jules pouted, “I do not!”

“Oh, come on, I was teasing,” Kira replied, then smiled wider, “and yes you did.”

Jules looked at the three laughing, then smirked a bit, then started laughing himself, “Yes…I did,” he laughed.

“So, if we really were adult and forced back into our childhood, perhaps that is why we don’t fit to well being parented,” Ben said thoughtfully.

“I like Mr. Garak,” Jules chimed in, his dark eyes twinkling brightly.

“Well, I like the others too, but…well, I don’t like them telling me what to do,” Kira replied.

“No child likes to be told what to do, but I do feel at times that it is more than that,” Worf added.

“Well, if it is, than they must be trying to fix it, and all we’ve done has been make their lives miserable,” Ben replied remorsefully.

“Ah, Ben, speak for your self, I’ve had a wonderful time with Mr. Garak,” Jules beamed.

“Ah, you’ve always been a goodie two shoes,” Kira quipped.

Jules frowned, “That’s not so! I just don’t have to go around punching, fighting, and trying to prove I’m top dog all the time, like you guys.”

They all stared at each other when they heard sounds outside of the holo suit. They all jumped to their feet and ran to the door where Ben, Worf, and Kira started banging on it, yelling to be let out. When the door opened all the children cringed with fear when met by a looming tall alien creature none of them had ever seen before. The creature looked dark like a Klingon, and covered in dark scales like a Cardassian, but it was neither. The children huddled, but Worf stepped in front of them, and Ben joined him trying to protect the others.

“What have you found,” a female voice spoke from behind the large creature.

The children looked to see what appeared to be a female, but her face was misshapen like Constable Odo. “Ah, children. I’m surprised that there would be any here,” she said softly. She looked at them a bit as if they looked a bit familiar then took her gaze off them. “Take them with the others…no, they can be useful. Take them to my new office, and keep an eye on them,” she ordered then moved on.

The children were herded to what was once Captain Sisko’s office and thrown in and the door locked. Jules had great dexterity and tumbled nicely, so he was the first up to help the others. They looked around and saw huge big ships outside the view port surrounding the station and lots of those ugly guys moving around the station. None of the crew was found anywhere.

“This doesn’t look to good,” Kira stated as she rubbed her shoulder.

“What should we do?” Worf asked looking at Kira and Ben.

“What can we do? I mean, just because we may have been adults, we aren’t now,” Ben said as he took a seat, feeling kind of well placed in the chair behind the large desk.

‘I never figured you for a quitter,” Jules said softly, though is dark eyes narrowed with irritation.

“Oh, and what do you suppose we do…brain child!” Ben snapped his arms folded around his chest, for he was frightened of what was happening.

Jules took the comment and closed his eyes, and then clenched his tiny fists. “Stop it,” he said in an angry tone. “I may be smart, but I’m just a kid just like you…. I’m just like you!” he shouted.

“Don’t take his hot air personal, Jules. He’s just jealous of how smart you are,” Kira said giving the young boy a half hug. “Look,” she said to everyone. “I’m scared and I’m not a shamed to admit it. If Jules has shown me anything, it takes more guts to be up front than hide it. I also believe we all are, but we can’t take this lying down, we just can’t. If we really were officers of this station, than our home is in danger, and my Father says, that a man fighting for his home is worth ten times those who are not.”

“Great speech, Kira,” Ben said snippingly, “but what do you recommend we do? Ten kids to one adult is still no match.”

“I know I can kill one of them, but not all of them,” Worf added.

“What we need here isn’t brawn but brain power,” Kira replied.

Jules felt all three staring at him, “why are you all looking at me?’

“Nothing personal, Jules, but you really are the brain child here,” she said easily, giving another half hug to the small boy.

“Let’s face it, as much as I hate admitting this,” Ben said moving down from the chair. “I think we need to tally our strengths and weaknesses, and though I think we’re all pretty smart, right now, you seem to be leading this pack, so enough of the who-me bit and think.”

“Well, I can see if I can get into the computer?” Jules said softly.

“Okay, well keep and eye out,” Ben replied.

“I remember my Father said that this station had a lot of ducts and crawl spaces, I’m going to see if I can find any,” Kira added. When she got a nod from all the boys she scurried off to the other side of the office as Julian climbed up into the chair and started in with the computer.

It took Jules about an hour and thirty minutes to get into the computer, and the children noticed that most of the guards didn’t seem to care what they were doing, and only looked in once the whole time then moved off. Kira found a vent behind the couch and was able to remove the screen from in front of it. Another fifteen minutes Jules read off what he learned. That some of the crew were still fighting on the lower decks, but most of them were being held in the brig area. That these creatures were Jem Hadar and the woman must have been a Founder.

Ben overheard the Founder discussing the Defiant, which it was heading this way along with other Starships, but she had hostages, that they may have been willing to let officers die, but not children. That the species in the Alpha quadrant had a weakness for their offspring, and she’d use it against them.

“Well, now what?” Jules asked.

“We can’t take on a whole station,” Kira replied, angry, but still scared.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t fight,” Worf replied.

“Ah, but ‘if’ we fight, we do it with brainpower,” Ben grinned, for he had an idea.

 

********************

The female Founder walked back into ops, receiving the latest reports of the ongoing battle on the station as well as outside of it. Then she moved her way to her office, as soon as the door opened the noise hit her senses.

“You bone headed, fur faced, freak!” Ben’s voice shouted as he was rolling on the ground with Worf.

“You inferior subclass ape!” Worf roared.

Kira was beating both of them with a couch cushion, “You’re both a bunch of Cardi loving boot lickers!”

The Founder stared at the violent scene before her, “Stop this!” she ordered, but the three children continued to fight, yell, kick and scream until Jem Hadar came in and grabbed them and kept them separated.

“Such behavior is unacceptable,” she said dryly.

“Shove it, mush face!” Kira shouted.

“Yeah, puddle puss,” Ben retorted.

Worf only growled.

“If you continue in this manner, I’ll have you all locked up separately!” she snapped, then turned to leave not wanting to be in this room any longer. The Jem Hadar dropped them and left the three kids to their own fate

The three laid on the grown still, the wind knocked out of them, “Do you think he’ll make it?” Kira asked.

“Yeah,” Ben said.

“He was right,” Worf replied. “When we fight, they don’t even take notice of him. All we have to do is do so when ever anyone comes in and by him time.”

“But what if she does what she said and splits us up?” Kira asked, concern in her voice.

“We won’t let her,” Ben replied. “Some how, we just won’t let her.”

 

************************

//I can’t believe I left the children alone like that, // Garak was thinking as he sat in the corner of a cell, filled with fifteen Starfleet officers and five Civilians who were caught off guard like he was by the sudden Jem Hadar attack on the station. He only was going to leave the kids alone, set up a rain storm and give the kids a chance to work it out, but then all hell broke out and he was grabbed as he tried to get to the children. He was nursing his head where he received a nasty blow to it knocking him out only to find himself here, and worried sick about the children. //Part of me wants to say something, ask about them, but another of me can’t help think that they’d be better off in the holo suit, even if there is no food, or water. Oh, Great Gul…I should have never left them alone. //

Garak listened to a Vorta try and threaten the officers that if he didn’t receive the computer codes to access the computer of this station people would start dying. It seemed that Captain Winter had managed to lockout the computer before being killed in the attack. The bottom line, no one could give any codes even if they wanted to, for the only one who could was dead, and Lt. Grumly was more than pleased to inform the Vorta of this, several times.

The Vorta didn’t accept this and took several of the top line officers that were captured to be questioned, but their screams were clear enough that he wasn’t getting what he wanted. This time he came back, he was livid. “One of you has the codes I want! You Will Give THEM TO ME!” he shouted.

“I’ll give them to you,” a small voice replied.

Garak was stunned, but he moved and pushed passed all the bodies to the front of the field to see young Jules standing in the hall of the brig looking small, innocent, and offering his help? “Jules!” Garak cried, glad to see him unharmed, but not wanting him to be apart of this horror. “Jules, you don’t know what you’re saying!”

The small boy looked at Garak and smiled warmly, “Garak!” he exclaimed. “It’s okay, Mr. Garak. I don’t mind helping,” he said innocently.

“They’re the enemy child!” one of the officers that didn’t really know who he was looking at, yelled.

Jules giggled, “That’s silly. The Founder lady said if we were good she wouldn’t have to punish you, so I said I would help.”

The Vorta was taken in by the small adorable boy and gleamed his dark wicked pleasure at the Officers. “Yes, child, do help,” he said as he led the child to the computer console, his eyes locked on the harrowed faces of those this child was about to betray.

“NO JULES!” Garak shouted. But all he could do was watch as his young friend innocently sat down at the console and started working it like a fine tuned instrument. To everyone it was a shock to see the console come to life under his hands, and just then Jules smiled.

“A Mr. Vorta, sir?”

“Yes, child,” he said, still enjoying the expressions of his captives.

“I’m afraid you have a problem,” Jules said softly.

The Vorta looked at the boy a bit annoyed. “And what is that?”

“Only this,” Jules said as he hit the button and all the force fields of the brig dropped and the prisoners seeing their chance jumped the few guards present and the Vorta.

Garak was amazed but didn’t hesitate for once the field was down he was over by Jules grabbing him up protectively in his arms, hugging him desperately. “You amazing, amazing child!” he cried with glee.

One of the officers walked up to Garak and Jules. “Kid that was one hell of thing you just did,” he said giving Jules a proud pat on the back.

“I can’t take all the credit, the others covered for me so I could sneak down here,” Jules said modestly.

“Well, now that were out, we need to take back the station,” another Officer interjected.

“Since the computers working, we can use the gas on the decks controlled by the Jem Hadar,” Grumly replied, though beaten badly he had found his second wind in his freedom.

“Your shoulder in out of place,” Jules cried with concern, and tired to wiggle down to help.

“Jules, what are you doing?” Garak asked holding the boy even more protectively.

“I want to help,” Jules replied.

Garak stepped back and let Grumly work the computer and activate the gas that would knock out the majority of the enemy, giving them a fighting chance in taking back the station.

“Jules,” Garak said as he moved away from the computer, “You did help. You helped save the day, now it is time to let the adults handle this.”

Jules big dark eyes gazed at him, suddenly not looking so young, “Garak, I’m a Starfleet Officer, I can take care of myself,” he smiled.

//That was Julian, not Jules. Some how he’s coming back, // Garak thought as his eyes widened in response to hearing what his lover had said to him countless of times when things got rough and Garak wanted to protect him. He could only smile, “Yes, yes you are, but at the moment, your still seven and in my charge. Until then, no Starfleet after dinnertime.’

Jules laughed. “Well, it is rather late, and I could use dinner,” he smiled.

“Well, then. After this is settled, it’ll be dinner, bath and then bed, and because you were exceptional today, an extra long bed time story,” Garak smiled, his heart filled with joy at the moment.

Jules leaned in and gave Garak a huge hug; “I love you, Elim Garak.”

Garak was glad that most of the people had moved off to take back the station leaving him and a few others left in the brig for safety. He hugged the small child tightly, “I love you too, Julian, Jules Bashir, and I know I always will.”

 

********************

It took four days to get the station back in order after sending the Jem Hadar packing, and another day for the Defiant to take the small charges back to the anomaly that would return them back to normal. Garak was allowed to accompany them on this trip, one of the favors he called in for watching the tiny terrors as they had been called. But the children were more like their old selves over the last few days, and it was really creepy as O’Brien put it, seeing such adult thoughts coming out of such young children.

Garak stood on the bridge, and all were entertaining Dax who let Sisko sit in his captain’s seat, and let all the other children stay at their regular stations as they traveled through space to the coordinates of the anomaly.

“Captain, sensors picking up the anomaly,” a little Major Kira said, wearing the same outfit she had been when this whole thing started.

“Good. Ensign, take us to impulse,” a little Sisko ordered, dressed in his red uniform.

“Everything seems to be as predicted,” a little Worf stated as he looked over the information that Dax was also looking at.

“Captain,” Julian’s soft voice echoed over the bridge, “according to these readings, we have to do this now, for in the next hour this anomaly will close and won’t reform again until we wouldn’t need it anymore.”

“Very well, Doctor,” Sisko said as he jumped down from the chair. “Lt. Dax, you have the con until I grow up,” he smiled.

“That could be an awful long time, Ben” she teased.

“Watch it, old man,” he joked.

“You forget, Ben. I’ve seen your inner child,” she teased.

Garak walked the children down to the shuttle that would be taking them to the anomaly and when all were safely boarded. He moved into the hall and waited, not moving an inch until the shuttle returned. By then Miles, Dax, and Odo had joined him. They entered the shuttle bay once it was pressurized and moved to the shuttle, a bit concerned when they away team didn’t exit. Dax once again started for the hatch when it started to open on its own. The sound that she heard shocked her.

 

“You stupid Klingon! I can kick your ass any day of the week!” cried a male’s voice

“I’ll crush you into grain dust!” a Klingon shouted back.

“You’re both a bunch of Cardassian ass kissers!” a young foul-mouthed Bajoran shouted.

But this time however, all four adults emerged and were laughing their heads off. Julian was in the middle between Ben Sisko and Kira Nerys, smiling ear to ear. “Face it, you’re all a bunch of bratty hooligans,” he quipped.

“What ever you say, brainchild,” Sisko teased. “Though we still need to talk about how you got into the computer when it was locked out, and you being only seven.”

“Yeah, wussy boy,” Worf growled in an approving manner.

“Don’t let them get to you, you know we still love ya…Julie!” Kira said mussing Julian’s hair, and without a word or warning started running out of the shuttle bay at full speed.

Julian grinned and looked at Sisko, “Tag your it!” he shouted and ran after Kira.

Ben looked at Worf, shrugged his shoulders then suddenly reached out and touched the Klingon, “Tag, your it!” and booked down the hall as fast as he could.

Worf then stood akimbo, “Now that ‘was’ dishonorable,” he growled. “I will have to rectify this,” and looked at the others who were just staring in disbelief. “If you will excuse me, I happen to be ‘it’,” and started running out the bay after the others.

A stunned group stared down the hall and listened to the hoops and hollers of joy and laughter that echoed back their way. Miles and Garak’s jaws were wide, and Odo and Dax were stunned with wide-eyed expressions.

“Do…do you think we should send them back again?” Miles asked slowly.

“I don’t know,” Dax replied.

“They seem to be acting more like children then when they were children,” Odo replied.

“I don’t think sending them back is the answer,” Garak said as a smile crossed his face.

“Oh, and what do you recommend?” Miles asked.

“You know the old saying as well as I do. If you can’t beat them…join them,” he smirked and took off down the hall to join the fun.

Dax grinned, “Ah what the hell,” she laughed and ran after Garak. “Is Worf still it? Who’s it? ” She yelled.

“Is it just me or has everyone gone bananas?” Miles inquired of Odo.

Odo took a look down the hall to see several of the Officers running back into the shuttle bay and leaping over crates and just staying out of Sisko’s reach, who was now ‘it’.

“It would seem that everyone has gone…bananas’,” Odo said coolly then turned and walked out of the shuttle bay as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

Miles headed out and turned to the playing officers, “I’m heading to the bridge…someone has to run this ship!” he growled, and then huffed as everyone just ignored him and kept laughing and playing as he left.

*******************

“Technically, this is cheating,” Julian laughed as Garak finally put him down in his own quarters.

“Why, we’re just changing games, instead of Tag, its hide and seek,” he smiled as he hugged his love tightly.

“Oh, Elim, how I missed you,” Julian purred. “I mean, I remember everything, and how wonderful you were…I…well, you know what I mean,” he smiled.

“Ah, my Jahkim, I do indeed,” he said kissing his love deeply. Then he looked deep into those dark-loving eyes. “I’ve come to a decision, and I hope you approve.”

“What?”

“I want us to get married and have a family,” Garak said with love and a determined sincerity.

Julian smiled in astonishment. “We have to let people know we’re going together,” he replied.

“I know, and I’m all for it. I want to be with you and I want a family…that is, if it is something you want too?”

“Oh, Elim!” Julian cried softly and kissed his love again. “Yes, that is exactly what I want, but what changed your mind?”

Garak smiled, “You did or to be more precise, Jules did. Julian, I want a son just like you,” Garak replied hugging Julian tightly. “I never thought I’d be a good father after having Tain as a role model, but my time with little Jules showed me not only would I make a decent father; it also showed me that I wanted to be one, and I want it to be your son and mine.”

“I’d like that a lot, Elim. But remember, I was not a typical child,” Julian said softly.

“Do you think a child of yours and mine would be typical?”

“No,” Julian laughed. “Not by a long shot. Okay…yes…yes, I’ll marry you, and then we’ll talk about our options of having a child later.”

“I said it before, I’ll say it again. You’re amazing, and I love you Julian Jules Bashir.”

“I love you Elim Garak.”

They hugged and kissed then Julian leaned back, “you know what I’m in the mood for don’t you?”

“I think so,” Garak leered.

“Good, you get the cookies, and I’ll get the milk.”