More Like A Man

Timeline: immediately follows "Hippocratic oath".
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the other DS9 characters. They belong to Paramount.

They end up playing darts that night anyway. Should have known this'd happen, Miles thinks as he watches Julian throw. Should've known we'd end up in Quark's at the end of the night no matter what.

Because this is their routine, now, and they can't escape it, and Miles doesn't want to be lying in bed alone tonight, and he knows Julian doesn't either, because despite the pretty girls he occasionally takes home, the girls that are impressed with the fact that he's a doctor but really more impressed with the fact that he's attractive, Miles is the only one he wants.

And despite whatever may have happened with the Jem'Hadar, despite the fact that Miles still doesn't understand this need Julian has to help everyone, even if they're enemies of the Federation, and thinks that he's still a naïve child sometimes, despite all this, he can't not be around Julian. He can't separate himself from Julian, just like he couldn't leave him on the planet, and even though he doesn't understand Julian sometimes, and he knows Julian doesn't always understand him, they're –

They're something, anyway, even if he's not sure what to call them. Friends is saying too little; colleagues even less. Lovers sounds too flowers-and-hearts for what they are. Strange bedfellows might be more appropriate, he thinks, because when he arrived on DS9 just over three years ago he never could have imagined that this was going to happen.

This. He still doesn't know what to call it. Reluctant to use the word relationship, because that implies all sorts of things that he doesn't associate with Julian. A relationship is what he has with Keiko – no, Miles, a marriage is what you have with Keiko, he reminds himself with just a twinge of guilt – and it carries duties and weights and responsibilities and burdens, things that he doesn't have with Julian, because what he and Julian have is just – well, it's just there, just two men playing darts every week, or having a drink, or playing racquetball, and then going back to Julian's quarters.

The crazy thing is that it's not even about the sex. Miles doesn't object to it, of course, he quite enjoys it, but they don't always – well, sometimes he's just content to crawl into bed beside Julian and fall asleep in his arms, and somehow it's different from what Keiko calls "cuddling", because she's different, she's smaller and she's curvier and female, and not –

Well, it's not that he thinks Julian's right about him wishing that Keiko was more like a man. He doesn't. He just wishes she was more like Julian.

Julian's dart hits the bullseye. He turns and smirks.

"That was a lucky throw," Miles mutters, but he can't help but smile anyway.