Ziyal knew it was almost time for the shops on the Promenade to close for the night. Constable Odo or one of his officers would patrol to make sure there were no squatters or would be thieves about. Anyone thinking they could get away with a crime on the space station was exceptionally insane or woefully ignorant. The security chief was a Changeling with a Klingon colleague. They could solve and enforce the law so fast and so thoroughly! She waited for those last minutes of time on purpose before she slipped inside the simple tailor's shop.

Garak was mending a fine silk dress as she entered. He didn't need to look up or stop his work. He knew to expect her and smiled. There were pins and thread between his teeth. He wore a fine vest over a tunic made of a material not unlike a wet suit. He wore a pair of pants with suspenders and stirrups. He wore conservative black and gray today and not his more flamboyant emeralds and scarlets. He was alone as she had hoped.

If there had been customers Garak would have shooed them away. Ziyal wore a dress where the bust and sleeves was a lovely mix of brown and white hues with what looked like vines and stars threaded into it. The rest of the dress resembled the interwoven checkered colors and textures of baskets with shades of brown, a bit of red, and even shades resembling blue. She came alone and had nothing in her hands.

"Am I too late?" she asked in Cardassian. "I wanted you to measure me."

"Again?" he said through gritted teeth to keep the pin in his mouth.

It was so good to hear and speak his native language. He could only do that with this creature. Cardassians rarely frequented the station anymore even though their race had built it. Whenever they did show up they were usually not the sort Garak cared to keep in his company.

"I don't mean to be a difficult client," she said. "I just have a feeling."

Garak took the pin out of his mouth, setting it in its proper place carefully as he replied, "I would like to address all your feelings. I value your business."

"Is that a dress for Kira?" she peered at the fabric he was working on.

"Actually this one is for Leeta."

"We should have a dress tailored for Kira to butter her up."

"Butter her up?"

"Yes. Maybe she'll think better of you and me."

He grinned, "You and me, eh?"

"Yes, you and me. This is a thing," she said playfully.

"Just allow me to close the shop and then I can give you extra attention."

"I'll reward you well for your personal touch."

That made his temperature rise. He rushed himself and then joined Ziyal in the fitting room. She threw her arms around him and began to kiss him. Something about her was different today and catching. Her perfume, natural and artificial, was more noticeable. She was bolder, more self-assured. She made him sit upon the fitting room bench and sat in his lap.

"Garak, I want you!" she declared.

Was that a hint of terror in the older man's eyes? He said, "Have you been drinking?"

"No!" she giggled.

"Are you ill or under mind control?"

She shook her head.

"Ziyal-"

"You seem to like my kisses!" she interrupted to give him another.

He leaned into her kiss involuntarily and acted as though he had to peel his lips away, "Gah! I do!"

"Don't you want more?" she hooked herself around his hips instead of merely lounging in his lap.

He swallowed and tensed but didn't push her away, "I admit that I want you too."

"Well, your body can't lie about that!" she pressed herself against him so they could feel each other through their clothes. "Otherwise you would try to lie, wouldn't you?"

"I lie with every other breath I take!"

"What a lie! It's alright. I will tell the truth for both of us. I don't just want you, Garak, I need you."

"I fear my character is rubbing off on you, poor child."

"I am no child!"

She took his hands and placed them upon her full breasts to prove her point. She was right. She was certainly no child. She was also not quite innocent. She had been through too much to be described accurately with that word. She was somehow still naïve though. Garak also knew that no man had ever so much as kissed her before him.

"Ziyal, once you give yourself to me I cannot give you back," he said ominously.

"I know that's not how it works, Garak. Do you want and need me? Try not to lie."

He smiled. Did she really think she could teach him to tell the truth and stop lying?

"I want you. I don't know if I need you, but I'm dying to find out!"

"Then why can't we find out now?"

Half of him wanted to pin her down then and there and half of him wanted to cover her in ten layers of clothing and send her on her way. He could feel her heat upon him, urging him. Her eyes seemed impossibly large with desire. He was trembling and trying to restrain himself.

He would be lying if he said he wasn't tantalized by the idea of taking Ziyal's virginity. He wanted to take it, somehow mend her back up as she was before, and then take her virginity a second time. He knew better than to speak his thoughts aloud. Such thoughts were terrible and unromantic. She seemed to think he was a gentle romantic. He didn't like to shatter illusions he liked to feed them.

"You are just curious and lonely," he accused.

"So are you."

"You don't know me. You don't know who I've been with."

"It doesn't matter."

He sighed, "It does matter. It matters a great deal. I have been with Cardassians and aliens. I have been with men and women."

"That doesn't bother me."

He was only slightly surprised. Ziyal's Bajoran mother must have told her about her people's views. He wondered how much of her was in the daughter. He had very little information about Tora Naprem, unfortunately. Besides being beautiful (how else would she have managed to catch the Gul's eye?) she had an unremarkable file and no connections.

He could see plenty of Dukat's features. He hated that man so why did he love his daughter so deeply and quickly? The desire to avoid her vanished within seconds of conversing with her, not to mention she was lovely. She was her father's opposite. How could that monster have created such an angel? She was nothing like her grandfather either.

It must be something from her Bajoran heritage, he decided. He found Bajorans to be appealing for their own reasons. He had never been with one but he had studied them. He knew their language and anatomy. He knew they were more sensitive than Cardassians. He must be extra gentle with his sweet Ziyal.

"You don't ask me questions about my past," he said. "That's bad."

"You are not your past."

"You don't fear me. You trust me. That's bad."

"Garak, I know you punish evil deeds and villains. Am I deserving of punishment?"

"No," he didn't even try to tease about that sort of thing not with her.

"Garak, I'm ready," Ziyal said with resolve."I know you are the man that is suited for me. If you can treat silk and leather and lace gently you will do so with me. If you keep trying to tell me what I want or insist I am too young I will linger around your store and haunt your steps until you give in. You are mine and you need this more than I do."

"What if I hurt you?"

"You won't. You can't."

"You are far too trusting."

"It hurts only if I allow it to hurt."

He wasn't sure what exactly she meant by that. Did she mean that mind always defeated matter? Did she think her Bajoran meditative techniques could possibly compare to his experience as both a lover and torturer? That was almost funny.

She was about to start tearing off her clothes and he stopped her, "Easy!"

She looked confused, "Are you rejecting me, Garak?"

"For the love of Cardassia, no! I am not taking you here in a frenzy of careless lust. Your first time shouldn't be like that."

"Our first time."

He stroked her hair in its lovely braided bun atop of her head as he half smiled. That would also need to be loosened and combed out.

He had been the first for many and yet whenever someone confessed it was their first time it flattered him and put him in the mindset of his first time. It was a privilege to be someone's first and took care. It could be traumatic for men, make no mistake, but it could be doubly so for women. In many species they had so many more nerve endings and sensitive areas. Their first experience could be botched and painful or it could be the most pleasurable experience of their lives.

He led her from his tailor shop and within his quarters. She was eager and was on him again as soon as he shut the door but he coaxed her to be patient. He played music low and without lyrics. It was simply for ambiance. Then he replicated a bit of kanar for them both.

"Are you hungry?" he asked.

"Not for food," she said quickly.

"Same, darling, but I don't want you to be distracted with an aching belly. I want absolutely no distractions! You should also be sure you've used the lavatory. Making sure you go before and after will help prevent urinary infections later."

"No need to worry about that. If we both drink doesn't that cause some sort of problem?"

"If we drank too much. A small amount of alcohol is a natural aphrodisiac and helps blood flow which is important for both of us. Too much and a drunken lout can't properly finish and a woman experiences drowsiness."

"What about birth control?"

He was proud of her for bringing it up. Young men often and conveniently forgot that sort of thing. They preferred the girl never bring it up and take care of that on her own time and dime.

"I take a capsule that isn't affected by small amounts of kanar. There is no need to worry about anything but pleasure tonight. I am a bastard and you are a bastard. If we had a child it would be a second generation bastard."

"But at least it would be basically Cardassian, if I am capable of producing a child at all."

He placed a glass of kanar to her lips so she could take a sip then touched them, "Your features are beautiful, Ziyal!"

"The men in the camp at Dozaria sure didn't seem to care for them!" she said with some rarely allowed bitterness.

"That's because most Cardassian men are xenophobic idiots!" Garak hissed. "If anything the Bajoran mixture improves our looks! I adore your nose! I worship your skin! I enjoy that you are softer, smoother, and more vulnerable!"

As he described and admired her, his voice became lower and more hoarse and dry. He finished his glass in a single gulp, restraining himself from touching her. He must take his time much like a predator waiting for the perfect time to strike. He mustn't startle the victim.

"The Bajoran men didn't care much for me either."

"That was for many reasons and none of which that actually had to do with you!"

"I heard that Kira made a lovely Cardassian once!" Ziyal giggled.

"That she did!" he didn't hesitate to say that he could barely stop himself from touching her too.

"I wish I had seen it!"

"She despised that skin and would have never taken to it. You, dear, are more than Cardassian enough for me."

"It feels so good to have someone acknowledge that part of me and not find it monstrous," she said with a touch of sadness.

He kissed her, "No unpleasant thoughts! I forbid it! You are no monster, Ziyal! You are an angel or goddess if those things existed!"

"Then why do I love you so much?"

She had said that word, that word that had no proper translation in Cardassian. It made him hesitate again. Other species threw that word around like sugar coating but his people were far more careful with it. This girl never denied him affection or repressed herself in that sense and he found that not only refreshing but he loved it. The only person in his life that had loved him unconditionally was his mother.

"I don't know," he answered. "And that is a fact. You should be my enemy and disgusted with me. We are Cardassians and yet your family and mine have a horrible history."

"I don't want to live in the past! I want to live in the moment, Garak! In this moment right now with you!"

She let out a noise that was half a growl and half a purr. It was exhilarating! He responded with a similar sound but deeper and farther back in his throat. He turned the lights completely off.

"Garak, I want to see you!" she cried.

"I forgot you can't see as well," he was irritated at himself. "I'll adjust the lights accordingly. They were just a bit too bright for me."

He had turned his back to her for but a moment and when he turned to face her she had already discarded her dress and underclothes quicker than he would have imagined. He had planned to remove them methodically but she was young and in far too much of a rush. She was so eager she had forgotten to be self conscious. Dressing her before, he had seen much of her body anyway. He was always a gentleman and never spied but it came with the territory of his tailoring hobby turned into a legitimate profession.

He began to taste her arms, shoulders, and then neck. Her hair was still up! He had wanted to spend some time combing that out with his fine ivory comb. She had such characteristically fine long Cardassian hair, black as ebony. He had to settle with using his fingers and being quick about it. She was tugging at his clothes. He was slightly amused and thrilled. Cardassian women were usually taught to be demure and follow her male's lead.

He noticed she reacted in a similar way to a Cardassian woman when he teased and worried at the flesh of her neck. Her breasts seemed to be, however, as sensitive as a Bajoran's. She was bound to have more erogenous zones.

She bit gently at the ridges connecting his ear and jaw. That made him squeeze her and vocalize an adorable grunt of pleasure. She flashed him a charming smile, happy that she could make him feel good even though she didn't quite know what she was doing. She was just going along with her compulsion and following instinct. She traced his jaw and kissed the little ridges in his chin. To her, he was adorable too. It was nice he wasn't much taller than her either.

He became sky clad and feasted his body upon hers. She was an exquisite work of art. She thought to herself that Cardassian men must be naturally muscular and triangular. The bony ridges complimented male anatomy very well. She stroked his chest scales with one hand and his pelvic region with the other. As soon as her hand wandered there he seemed half helpless with desire.

"You sound almost in pain!" she whispered.

"Quite the opposite, my dear!"

"May I paint you someday?"

"In the nude?"

"Of course!"

"Let's keep such an image between us and in your head!"

"You are living art."

"Not all art is beautiful. There's such a thing as grotesque beauty. I must fall into that category."

"I'm a hybrid. If anyone here is grotesque it is me."

"Let's agree to stop talking about our bodies and just appreciate their sensuality."

"What do these scales on your back do for you when I touch them?" she drew circles with her fingers.

He grinned and let her read his face. She acted as though she might have done some research on this subject before or perhaps she had experience. He was glad he had a vast store of knowledge of Bajoran and Cardassian bodies. He knew all the tricks to rev her engines. Men were visual and quick creatures in these matters. Women needed time to work into wild passion but it was highly rewarding once they were in that state and they could maintain it for seemingly an eternity. A machine would be exhausted long before a woman. Their power was often misjudged.

"Garak, I'm ready!" she kept insisting.

"No, you're not," he would answer as he continued to stimulate her in a slow burn.

"Garak, please!"

"Patience, my darling."

Another man certainly would botch this! He realized that now. She was far more sensitive in her pelvic region than he had first guessed. She had soft tissues Bajoran women had but not Cardassians. He needed to be careful. He was required to take his time. He wondered if he should fetch aides but decided an amateur definitely would need them. Not him.

"Garak, let me pleasure you!"

"Next time. This is your first time. This is all about your pleasure tonight, got it?"

She moaned as though he was cheating her. The truth was he didn't need much stimulation. He finally pinned her to the bed and began to tease her but not quite giving her what she wanted. This was his favorite sort of 'torture' and yet it was pleasure with no pain. Pain and pleasure could have a razor sharp edge. It was no knife or needle he wanted to plunge into Ziyal's body.

Finally he entered her and they both let out rattling breaths. It was both tragic and victorious at the same time. It just seemed a shame that within fractions of a second, a girl could consider herself deflowered or somehow devalued. Some cultures set far too high a store on the concept of virginity. Some species and individuals cared not a bit for it; some guarded it as though it was their only treasure. Some were all too eager to get rid of it. Some carried stigmas for never doing so.

Privately, Garak thought it was whatever a person made it out to be and any partner should treat it as their partner did. To Ziyal it was a sacred and loving act to give him her body. He didn't violate her trust in him. He'd never dream of it.

"Garak, I love you."

He wished he could say it.

She seemed to understand he preferred communicating with his body, thank goodness. That was what she had wanted all along. He muttered soothing Cardassian words or hissed as he worked up a rhythm. She continued to make that sound that was like a purring hara cat. His strokes became smoother, deeper, and faster. She devilishly bit near his ear again and he almost lost his control. His fingers twitched and he caused a few cries so sharp he was alarmed.

"I'm not in pain!" she hastily reassured him.

He sighed with relief.

He was not a large man but he knew from experience men blessed with size were often terrible lovers. They counted on their length and girth to do all the work for them. Garak was a happy medium and listened carefully to Ziyal's every little breath and paid attention to every flicker of her eyes. That clued him in to just how fast or rough he should be. It wasn't until he sensed the calm before the storm that he unleashed himself and proudly timed their climaxes within seconds of each other.

Aftercare was something young Cardassian men neglected entirely too. When Ziyal sat up thinking he must want her to leave, he pulled her into the crook of his arm. She sweated like a Bajoran woman but that didn't bother him. It gave her body a nice gleam. She relished his strong arms around her. They were strong and yet gentle.

"I knew you would be an expert lover."

"Say that again."

"You are an expert!"

He closed his eyes and held her to his chest now. She was warm and soft.

He surprised her when he said, "You might as well move in here now."

"What am I going to tell Kira?"

"Tell her you are a woman in every sense now and can live wherever you want. There is more than enough room here for you. Although, now that you mention it, I realize that Kira might kill me for this. If she doesn't, Dukat will likely try to put some kind of price on my head. As though I didn't already have one before."

"Maybe they will collaborate to murder you! It's something that could finally bring them together."

He groaned, "That sort of pairing would never work."

"You don't know how much my father loved my mother and how wonderful he can be. You just proved to me men that are labeled monsters can be absolute sweethearts if given the chance."

"My darling Ziyal," was all he could manage to say with a shake of his head. "Part of me hopes you will never change."

"Thank you for making me a woman and feel like a Cardassian woman for a change."

"Thank you," his voice almost broke and betrayed him, "for showing me affection and friendship. You are right. I needed you all along."