DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Star Trek:Deep Space Nine and its characters are copyright Paramount and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan June 1996.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was written before "Doctor Bashir I Presume" aired and so does not accord with the dread canon with regard to Julian's family background.

IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT...

The flickering tongues of flame dance before my eyes,
	and I gaze into the depths of the glowing heart of coals.
The play of amber light casts shadows on my face
	as I lie within the orb of the fire's radiant warmth.
The crackling of the blaze still reaches through my dreams,
	as I slowly drift in sleep like a kitten on the hearth.

The velvet blackness of the wide expanse of sky arching over his head was studded with the familiar, diamond-bright patterns of stars. Julian Bashir took in a deep, invigorating breath of the cold night air as he stared up at the constellations. It was so long since he had last seen them thus - too long. He had grown accustomed to the alien stars which surrounded Bajor, but there was something special about looking into the night sky of one's own home world.

Julian turned slowly, taking in the entire panorama. Under his snugly booted feet a thick layer of crisp, white, powdery snow crunched satisfyingly. Gods, but it felt good to breathe real, clean, fresh air. He drew in another deep, icy lungful, closing his eyes and revelling in the fact that he was on Earth.

A few weeks ago the last place Julian would have expected to find himself was on Earth, but he had reckoned without Captain Sisko. The commander of Deep Space Nine had called his Chief Medical Officer into his office and informed him in no uncertain terms that it was about time he started following his own rules about taking regular leave. Julian was long overdue for a break and he was going to take one - now! The young doctor had protested that it was unnecessary; that he was needed on the station, but when Sisko had threatened to make it a direct order he had finally capitulated.

Julian had no idea where he would take his long-accumulated backlog of leave - Sisko had insisted that it should be away from the station - but then fate had taken a hand. The doctor had received a subspace message from his mother's younger sister. It had set Julian to thinking of fondly remembered holidays in his childhood, taken at his mother's family's log cabin in the farthest reaches of northern Scandinavia. His father had hated the place - too cold, too isolated for his taste. No people to impress, Julian had thought wryly. But he and his mother had been kindred spirits. They had loved the bleak wildness of the wide, barely inhabited area - the crisp white snowfields and bright sunshine. Those holidays had provided some of the rare, cherished, pleasant memories from Julian's childhood.

From those first thoughts the idea had grown in Julian's mind to pay a return visit. A few weeks later and the idea had become a reality. Julian had rented out an isolated log cabin - and here he was. He could hardly claim to be cut off from civilisation as the cabin boasted access to a transporter, an excellent replicator and just about every other comfort he could wish for, including a large sauna - the latter being something Julian was just itching to try out - but all in all he could maintain the illusion of being alone in the wilderness. Well, almost alone...

"Julian!" From the direction of the cabin Garak's voice rang out. The doctor had refused point blank to leave the station unless his Cardassian friend and lover accompanied him. Garak had been curious enough about seeing something of Julian's home world, especially something pertaining directly to his little talked about childhood, to agree to come. From the faintly petulant tone in his voice it was clear the tailor was not finding the surroundings entirely to his liking. "Julian, you'll catch your death of cold, standing out here at night in all this - snow."

Garak had reached Julian's side and he looked down at the white stuff engulfing his booted feet with some distaste. The human smiled patiently. He knew the Cardassian didn't like the cold, but Garak was thoroughly bundled up in the best cold weather clothing available and he couldn't possibly be feeling that chilly. Besides, Julian wasn't planning on spending a great deal of time outside, especially this evening.

"It's not that cold, Elim," teased Julian. "And there's nothing wrong with snow - just wait until I show you the good old Earth tradition of snowball fights!" Garak's lips turned down disapprovingly and Julian took pity on him. "Anyway, I think I'll save that for another day. I have something else in mind to get you warmed up tonight."

"Promises, promises," sighed Garak as the young man slid an arm about his waist, pulling him close. "What were you staring at so intently?"

"Just the stars," said Julian softly. "I'd forgotten how beautiful the constellations are that you can see from Earth. It's - they feel like my stars... The wormhole is magnificent, but it's not home."

"They're very different," murmured Garak with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. "From Cardassia," he added as Julian looked at him questioningly. The shadow in the tailor's blue eyes and the sense of loss in his words made the doctor shiver and he hugged Garak more tightly to him, offering wordless comfort.

"I'm sorry," Julian apologised. "It was tactless of me. I didn't mean to remind you..."

"No. It's all right," Garak assured him with a small smile. "I may not be able to take you to my home and show you the stark beauty of Cardassia's desert plains and its summer skies, but I can share your pleasure in being here. I don't want to take that joy away from you; so don't let it be tarnished with any misplaced guilt. Now," taking a deep breath the Cardassian seemed to shake off the air of melancholy clinging to him, "you told me earlier you had plans to warm me up. Exactly what did you have in mind, Julian?"

"Follow me, Elim!" declared Julian, responding to the tailor's change of mood with a grin. "I really think you will like this - and I promise it has nothing at all to do with snow."

The doctor lead the way to a separate wing of the cabin and threw open the door. Garak followed him inside curiously. Julian opened an inner door and a wave of tropical heat rolled out over them together with a veil of steam. Garak's blue eyes widened in delighted amazement.

"Julian?"

"It's our very own sauna, Elim. I started heating it up as soon as we arrived. What do you think?" Julian looked positively pleased with himself at Garak's favourable reaction.

"Oh, I think it's perfect, Julian," purred the tailor. He quickly shed the heavy jacket and over-trousers he had been wearing, together with his boots as Julian closed the outer door behind them. Garak headed into the steamy interior of the sauna, inhaling the faintly herbal scent with pleasure. He glanced around in surprise as he realised Julian had not followed him. "Is there a problem?" he asked curiously.

"Not from where I'm standing, Elim," laughed Julian, "but you are supposed to get undressed first you know." The young human was quickly stripping out of his heavy outdoor clothes as he spoke and the sight momentarily distracted Garak.

"Humans remove all their clothing in a steam bath?" queried Garak with genuine curiousity. "Do they only use them alone then? This seems far too large for just one person."

"Of course we take our clothes off," said Julian, his brow creasing in confusion. "At the end of the sauna you take a bath and it would be pretty strange to do that fully clothed! And why would you think we use them alone? Is it that different on Cardassia?"

"Very different," said Garak, "on Cardassia steam baths are used communally by both males and females..." Julian nodded, finally understanding.

"Oh, now I see," he said slowly, "but surely if you're with someone you know it shouldn't matter."

"I'm sorry, Julian, but the whole idea just seems strange to me," admitted Garak. "I appreciate the notion of the sauna, but - naked? It's just not the Cardassian tradition."

"Since when did you become a traditional Cardassian?" protested Julian sceptically. "And more to the point, when did you pass up an opportunity to take off your clothes when I was around? Shame on you, Elim!" The doctor was now quite naked and he advanced on Garak with a seductive smile. The tailor regarded the long, golden limbs hungrily.

"Well, I suppose the idea does have a certain quaint charm to it..." The Cardassian's eyes glittered with a familiar light and he quickly divested himself of his remaining clothes, tossing them out to join Julian's.

"Much better," said Julian as he surveyed the stocky body of his lover. "Now close that door and come and get comfortable over here." Garak obeyed and then joined the doctor. Julian settled himself on one of the smooth, wooden seats set against the wall of the sauna. He watched as the tailor stretched himself out full length on another. Julian couldn't help but be reminded of some exotic lizard basking in the sun.

The steamy heat quickly brought a rosy flush to Julian's skin and he was soon sweating profusely. His dark hair clung in damp tendrils to his forehead and beads of moisture sparkled in the curled strands. He glanced across again at Garak. The Cardassian was lying on his side with his head casually propped up on one hand. His eyes were closed and a beatific smile curved his expressive grey lips.

Julian could rarely remember seeing Garak look so relaxed. Was it the heat? Did the cooler temperature of the station really bother the tailor that much? The young doctor found himself recalling Garak's outburst whilst undergoing withdrawal from his cranial implant. After it was all over the tailor had never complained about the brightness or the temperature again, but the lights were no dimmer and the rooms no warmer than before. Julian silently promised to adjust the settings in their quarters as soon as they returned to the station.

As Garak had still not moved the young human took the opportunity to study his companion more closely. Leaning forward, his elbows resting on his knees, Julian admired anew the strong, well- defined physique of the tailor. His eyes traced out the paths taken by the ornate ridges which liberally decorated Garak's body. The heat had brought a fine sheen of sweat to the Cardassian's grey skin and it shone like burnished pewter.

Julian could contain himself no longer. He got up and padded on silent, bare feet to Garak's side. He knelt beside the bench, his eyes eagerly devouring the body stretched before him so invitingly. This close to the tailor Julian also noticed how the heat brought out the spicy, cinnamon scent of his skin. The doctor's nostrils flared as he drew in the pleasantly familiar smell.

He must have made some small sound as all at once Garak's eyes were open and watching Julian with amusement. The doctor abruptly sat back on his heels, his hazel eyes locking with the tailor's blue ones.

"Elim!" he muttered guiltily, ashamed to have been caught out.

"I hope you like what you see, Julian," said Garak huskily. "I know I do. The heat flatters you, my dear one." The tailor reached out one hand, cupping Julian's flushed, sweat-dampened cheek. "But are you sure it's not too hot for you?"

"It's supposed to be too hot, Elim. The idea is to make you sweat after all," pointed out Julian needlessly. "I suppose to you though this isn't really that much hotter than normal for Cardassia."

"Oh, it's a common misconception that all of Cardassia is so hot, but it would need to be a great deal warmer than this to make me sweat as much as you are," agreed Garak. Julian flushed a deeper shade of red, feeling slightly embarrassed.

"I'm sorry, does it offend you?" he asked a little defensively.

"Of course not, don't be ridiculous," said the tailor exasperatedly. "Did you ever notice me complaining when you became hot and damp during some of our more energetic bouts of lovemaking? In fact it's a perfectly acceptable and quite endearing trait. It makes your skin shine..." Garak reached out, drawing Julian closer to him. One broad, grey fingertip traced the rivulets of sweat which ran unhindered down the smooth, hairless planes of the doctor's slender chest. The light touch sent shivers running along Julian's spine and he gasped as Garak leaned forward and followed the same path with his tongue.

"Elim!" Julian protested as the Cardassian lapped delicately at the pooled dampness in the hollows of his collarbone. He made as if to pull away, but Garak held him in place, gently but firmly.

"I like the taste - salty," said Garak equably. "It tastes of you," he added simply as if that explained everything. Another deep shudder ran through Julian's frame at the words and he knew at once that he had an erection.

"Elim, if you're trying to get me hard you're succeeding," said Julian in a husky whisper.

"Good," murmured Garak, his lips brushing the doctor's ear lightly. Julian's hands came up to grasp the Cardassian's shoulders, pulling him upright. Garak swung his feet to the floor and Julian knelt between his legs. His long-fingered hands kneaded at the tailor's ridged neck and shoulders and the doctor was amazed at the way the heat had softened the tough skin. It was far more pliable than usual and Julian could feel each of the individual scales giving to the pressure of his fingers.

"Oh, Elim, you've definitely been holding out on me..." whispered Julian, half to himself.
Is it me or is it hot in here? Garak evidently appreciated the increased sensitivity of his skin as much as the doctor did. A low sound, almost a growl, issued from his throat and he caught Julian's head between his broad hands. He bent forward, pressing a fervent kiss onto the doctor's velvet-soft lips. Julian responded to the caress eagerly, his tongue seeking out Garak's and engaging it in a lovingly erotic duel.
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The young man's fingers trailed slowly down from Garak's neck, toying with the smooth scales which covered his upper body and briefly caressing the large, charcoal grey nipples. The tailor groaned, the sound muffled by Julian's mouth covering his own, and the doctor resumed his downward path until he found the hard evidence of Garak's arousal. At once he disengaged his mouth from the Cardassian's and sank back onto his heels. He glanced up at Garak coquettishly through his long, downcast lashes and then leaned in to bury his face in the tailor's groin.

Garak cried out as Julian nuzzled at his steely erection. The human slowly kissed his way along the shaft from base to tip. His long, agile tongue flicked out. It swirled over the dark, softly flared head and lapped at the dampness gathered there, teasing Garak maddeningly. The tailor's hands closed convulsively on Julian's slim shoulders, urging him on and the doctor intensified his attentions, treating Garak's sex to a series of gentle bites with his sharp, white teeth. It felt good to the Cardassian, but still not enough. Garak slid a hand under Julian's chin, tilting the young man's face up towards him.

"You know what I want, Julian," he hissed. The doctor's gaze sparkled with delight as he saw the unbridled lust in Garak's expression.

"Tell me, Elim..." he insisted. A faint, sibilant sound born part of annoyance, but as much of need escaped the tailor's lips at Julian's words. One glance into the doctor's eyes told him Julian would not relent until he spoke his desire aloud.

"Take me in your mouth, taste me, suck me, make me come..." demanded Garak, "and do it now. Don't make me wait."

"How could I ever refuse you?" smiled Julian, wanting it as much as the Cardassian did. He loved the intimacy of taking Garak this way. The doctor tossed an errant strand of damp hair back off his forehead and then bent his head to the tailor's groin once more. Julian inhaled deeply the scent of his lover's arousal and then closed his mouth over Garak's trembling sex. Long familiarity with the Cardassian told him how much the tailor would be able to take before he slid over the brink into bliss. Julian sucked firmly at the precious flesh between his lips, taking possession of it, making it a part of himself. His tongue explored, also doing its part to bring pleasure to Garak. Closing his eyes Julian angled his head carefully and took the Cardassian in still more deeply, swallowing against the hardness.

Julian felt the tension gathering in the tailor's muscles a scant moment before he exploded into orgasm. Garak cried aloud as he came, vocalising his pleasure in a voice stripped of all its usual artifice and control. The doctor rode the storm, glorying in Garak's offering and savouring every drop. When the sturdy body went limp Julian pulled back and regarded the spent Cardassian affectionately. Garak's head lolled back against the wall and his eyes were closed.

With fascination Julian noticed a single, sparkling bead of sweat which had formed on Garak's brow. Slowly the lone droplet traced a path around the curve of the tailor's eye ridge. Julian watched transfixed as it ran down the smooth plane of Garak's cheek, finding its course along the slope of the ear track to the strong line of his jaw. From there the flared neck ridge directed it onward until it was lost as it dripped from the sculpted scales of the Cardassian's broad shoulder. Julian sighed as the spell was broken. The sound roused Garak and his eyes opened to mere slits, startlingly sapphire in the steamy haze.

"You look like you could use a bath," Julian informed him smugly, noting the tailor's damp skin and lank, moisture-laden hair.

"A bath?" protested Garak disbelievingly. "After this?"

"Precisely," said Julian, "I don't know about you, but I think I've sweated enough for both of us and I'd like to get cleaned up." Garak's gaze fell on the doctor's unsatisfied erection. He gestured towards it with one lax hand.

"But you..." he began.

"In the bath," retorted Julian emphatically. He grinned mischievously. "Fair's fair after all. I gave you what you wanted and now it's my turn."

"The stamina of the young!" sighed Garak good naturedly.

"A little exercise is good for you," teased Julian, pulling the tailor to his feet. He opened another door and led Garak into a further room. While still warm it was nowhere near as humid as the sauna and the dominant feature was a deep, circular bath filled with hot, bubbling water. Garak's eyes widened in renewed interest and any tiredness he might have been feeling fell away from him. Willingly he followed Julian into the comfortingly warm depths of the tub.

The Cardassian sprawled casually, one leg stretched out before him and the other with the knee raised. He looked around the room as he relaxed into the water. Piled about were stacks of soft, thick towels - perfect for wrapping the slight body of his lover in when they were finished in the bath. Closer to hand Garak noticed bars of softly scented soap and a number of delicate glass phials containing exotic oils. The tailor could think of several good uses he might put those to before the evening was over.

Garak's train of thought was derailed by Julian who had settled opposite him and sunk himself deep into the water, immersing himself up to the chin. One elegantly arched, golden foot brushed lightly against the ankle of the tailor's outstretched leg and then traced a path slowly up the firmly muscled calf to the sensitive, kid-leather soft skin of Garak's inner thigh. Just a little further and the agile toes wiggled suggestively against the tailor's genitals. Garak gave a grunt of surprise at the unexpected touch and Julian threw him a seductive smile.

"Oh no, my playful friend," cautioned Garak. His hands dove into the water, trapping the slender foot and stilling its tantalising movements. The tailor drew the extremity to him, propping the heel on his chest. He caressed the graceful arch and softly massaged up towards the shapely calf. Julian squirmed, enjoying the sensations and Garak bent his head to place gentle kisses on the sole of the foot and the toes, which curled in appreciation.

"That feels so good," murmured Julian wistfully. His hazel eyes sought out Garak's face and he pouted provocatively. "But I suppose you're right. We should wash first, then play." The doctor paused for effect before continuing. "It's so difficult to wash one's own back though... Would you mind, Elim?" A lazy smile curved the Cardassian's lips.

"It would be a pleasure," he assured the young man. Garak released the doctor's foot then reached out to retrieve a large bar of soap. This he proceeded to lather between his broad, grey palms. With the scented foam trailing from his fingertips Garak beckoned to his lover. "Come here where I can reach you."

With a coy look Julian slid across to join Garak, turning his back to him. The doctor settled between the Cardassian's legs, leaning against the updrawn knee. Garak surveyed the delightful prospect before him. The long smooth planes of the young man's back invited the touch of his hands. The heated flush had retreated from Julian's skin in the cooler air of the bathroom, leaving it its customary golden brown colour.

Garak filled his palms with the soapy lather and then set his hands gently on Julian's shoulders. The doctor relaxed into the touch, inviting further contact. With soft caresses Garak spread the foam down Julian's back to his waist. Then he slid his hands forward and drew more lather over the sensitive skin of the young man's belly and up to the finely sculpted contours of his chest. Julian sighed in delight at the delicate touch and exclaimed in pleasure as Garak's skilled fingers devoted special attention to his nipples. The tailor gently teased at the soft, chocolate-brown nubs of flesh until they hardened, becoming erect.

Carefully Garak scooped up handfuls of the warm, clear water and let it cascade down over Julian's torso, washing away the soapy residue. The doctor wriggled sensually, enjoying the feeling of the hot liquid running across his skin. It produced a sensation like numerous fingers trailing down the length of his body, stroking him. With a smile Garak repeated the gesture several more times. He shared Julian's enjoyment, as the young man's sinuous movements caused his buttocks to rub against the Cardassian's resurgent erection quite delightfully!

When Julian's skin was completely free of soap Garak retrieved one of the phials of oil from the side of the bath. He unstoppered it and sniffed at the contents critically. It smelt of sandalwood and he nodded approvingly. The doctor glanced around to see what Garak was doing and smiled in pleased anticipation as the tailor poured a measure of the liquid into his cupped palm. Garak set aside the flask and spread the oil over both his hands before reaching to touch Julian again.

This time Garak began his ministrations at Julian's neck. The strong, capable fingers kneaded at the slender column, leaving a trail of oil glistening in their wake. The slim shoulders were the next target and now the tailor brought his whole hands into play, massaging the smooth skin and taut muscles firmly. Julian groaned in delight as all vestiges of tension seeped out of him. Garak didn't stop there either. His hands worked down over the shoulder blades and Julian stretched languidly, allowing the tailor better access to his back.

The doctor's skin radiated a pleasing warmth and droplets of water still beaded it as Garak slowly moved lower, his fingertips tracing the line of the human's spine. The Cardassian spread his palms to encompass the willowy waist and Julian started as Garak found a ticklish spot. Finally, the tailor's oil-slick fingers dipped below the water, seeking out Julian's genitals. One hand cupped the young man's balls, kneading them gently while the other curved around the smooth shaft and tenderly coaxed it fully erect.

Julian sank back bonelessly until his head lolled against Garak's shoulder. The tailor bent to nibble at the vulnerable neck and suck softly on one earlobe. The doctor whimpered, lost in the delight of Garak's hands touching him; the tailor's Cardassian heat plastered along the length of his back. Garak's warm breath caressed Julian's smooth cheek as he leaned in still closer to trace out the alien contours of the human's ear with the tip of his tongue.

The pleasure was seductive, but Julian resisted it, not wanting to succumb quite yet. He had given Garak the gift of his mouth earlier and now Julian craved the same in return. With an effort the doctor pulled himself free of the tailor's encircling arms, looking over his shoulder to see Garak's face. There was surprise and a trace of hurt there and Julian could understand the Cardassian's reaction.

"Did I do something wrong?" asked Garak anxiously, unsure why the young man had refused his touch.

"No, love," Julian assured him, "but I told you that I wanted something very particular from you." Carefully the doctor turned until he was facing the Cardassian. Gracefully he rose to his knees, water streaming down his flanks to drop from the sharply defined bones of his hips. The movement presented Garak with a clear view of Julian's long, slender erection. The damp skin glistened and the rosy tip beckoned to the Cardassian, leaving him in no doubt as to what the doctor desired of him. Garak curved his hands around the young man's buttocks, pulling Julian into a better position.

For a long moment the tailor merely looked at the treasure offered to him. He inhaled deeply, drawing in Julian's musky scent subtly overlaid with the sandalwood fragrance of the oil. When the human whimpered with need Garak gently cupped the waiting erection in one palm, steadying it. He leaned in closer. The tailor's tongue flicked out, delicately lapping at the soft, flared head. Julian trembled and his eyelids fluttered shut.

With care Garak repeated the caress. Then he licked his way slowly along the firm shaft. When he reached the base he lovingly bathed the human's balls, swirling his tongue over the moist skin. Wordless sounds of pleasure escaped Julian's throat. Encouraged Garak's questing fingers moved to toy with him as well. They played with the dark curls of wiry hair at the doctor's groin - always a source of fascination to the smooth-skinned Cardassian - teasing Julian almost beyond endurance.

"Elim..." whispered Julian desperately on a long exhalation of breath. "Please..."

The tailor could not refuse the softly voiced plea. He parted his lips and took the young man's sex into the warm haven of his mouth. Julian cried out in delight and relief as his need was finally served. He was too close to the edge for it to last long. Indeed it took only a few moments before he came and his seed spilled into Garak's throat. The Cardassian swallowed it greedily, eager for the salt taste of it and he milked every last drop from the softening member.

When Garak finally released him Julian slumped forward against the tailor's chest in exhaustion. The Cardassian cradled him gently against his body, lowering the doctor back into the comforting warmth of the water. Julian snuggled in close, a contented smile gracing his lips.

"That was wonderful, Elim, my love," sighed Julian, "and I wish we could stay here all night. But while that might be possible for a Cardassian I know I shall look like a - wrinkled prune if I stay in this water much longer." An explosive burst of laughter escaped the tailor at Julian's self-deprecating comment.

"Well, we can't have that now, can we?" teased Garak. "Though I'm sure I should adore you anyway." He gently pushed Julian away from him, shooing him out of the bath. The doctor snatched up a large, soft towel, wrapping it snugly around his bare body. Julian held out another for the Cardassian who took it from him as he also climbed from the bath. Garak swathed himself in its folds as he followed the young man back into the main part of the cabin.

Julian had gone out of his way to create the perfect setting in the comfortably furnished sitting room. A wide hearth graced one wall and a real log fire, not a holographic simulation, roared in the grate. The dancing flames provided the room's only light and cast dark shadows in the corners, creating an intimate cocoon of brightness in front of the fire. Garak paused on the threshold, absorbing the ambience of the room.

"It's beautiful, Julian," he said admiringly. "Heat, subdued lighting - everything a Cardassian could wish for." Garak slid an arm about Julian's waist, giving him a grateful hug.

"Cosy is the word you're looking for, Elim," said Julian with a smile. "So, you'll forgive me for the snow then?"

"Even the snow," conceded Garak laughing. He shook his head in puzzlement. "Though I'm afraid I really cannot see the attraction for you in such cold, wet, miserable stuff."

"Oh, it has a certain chill beauty all it's own," said Julian, a faraway look coming into his eyes. "I always loved the time we spent up here when I was a child..." He recalled himself abruptly, glancing up at his companion. "I'm sorry, you don't want to hear me waxing nostalgic."

"On the contrary, Julian," said Garak, suddenly quite serious. "You speak so rarely of your childhood..."

"Perhaps because there is very little about that time that I care to remember." Julian's voice, clashing with Garak's, was uncharacteristically harsh. "Please, just let it go. Don't let's spoil the mood, Elim..."

"And yet the memories this place engenders are evidently pleasant ones. You wouldn't choose to come to such an isolated spot without good reason. It's hardly the obvious choice for a holiday," persisted Garak. He turned Julian to face him, looking earnestly into the young man's hazel eyes. "Julian, from what little you have told me I know there were - difficulties between you and your father, but I have only ever heard you speak with affection of your mother. Being here reminds you of her I think. Won't you at least share those memories with me?"

The doctor rested his cheek against Garak's shoulder, considering. It was not that he had actually refused to talk to the tailor about his family, simply that Garak had never really asked. Perhaps he had known that Julian would want to ask things of him in return - something it seemed the Cardassian was still unwilling to allow even at this point in their relationship. Julian sighed. For all the physical and emotional closeness he and Garak shared, in truth they still knew precious little about one another. But by asking this now was Garak intimating he wanted that to change? The doctor raised his head, glancing around the firelit room - it seemed to invite secrets, confidences. Julian looked back at Garak, his gaze meshing with the tailor's.

"All right, but there are so few of them, Elim. We only came here occasionally. My father hated the place - the temperature, the location, the snow - everything about it. Maybe he had some Cardassian ancestors. He was cold-blooded and manipulative enough," added Julian unthinkingly. It had been a fairly futile attempt at humour in the first place, but as he realised who he had uttered those words to Julian looked up appalled. "Oh God, Elim, I'm sorry. I didn't mean... Please, don't take any notice of me. Thinking about my father always seems to bring out the worst in me."

"No apology is required, my dearest Julian, I know what you were trying to say," Garak assured him evenly. One hand absently stroked Julian's damp, tousled curls soothingly. "And if I can make you forget that I am Cardassian - have you see me as simply your friend, your lover - well, how can I take that other than as a compliment?"

"Still, what I said was..." began Julian, but the tailor interrupted him.

"A fair assessment of many Cardassians of my acquaintance and, I think, an honest indication of your feelings towards your father. I am not offended, Julian, believe me." Garak smiled encouragingly at the discomfited young man, dismissing the words as if they had not been spoken. "So if your father was not in his natural element here then...?"

"My mother was. Her family were born and bred in these parts. I may not have inherited my looks from her; in those I am most definitely my father's son, but in everything that matters I take after her. One of the things she passed on to me was her love of this place," said Julian with a remembering smile. "We'd go out on skis and enjoy the peace and quiet together. Sometimes we'd go for miles without ever seeing another soul. Then we'd come back, sit in front of the fire and just talk. She used to cook the most wonderful meals too. She refused to use the replicator in the cabin - said it seemed like cheating and that the locals made it a point of pride never to eat replicated food.

"Father always told her that was being ridiculous, but I never heard him complain about the meals when he was eating them. Actually, because he detested the snow so much father used to shut himself away and work most of the time we were here. We barely saw him. He'd leave mother and me pretty much to our own devices. Believe me that was a rare luxury." A shadow crossed the doctor's face and he pressed more closely against the reassuring solidity of Garak's body. "I miss her a lot, Elim. She - died just before I left Earth. It was only when she was gone that I realised I didn't just lose my mother, but my best friend too."

"I'm sorry," said Garak softly. His arms tightened around the doctor's slight frame, offering comfort. "I shouldn't have made you talk about it."

"No, it's appropriate somehow, telling you about her and remembering her here," said Julian. "I'm glad that I did. Maybe we should just talk like this more often..." There was the hint of a question in the doctor's words and Garak didn't miss it.

"Perhaps," he conceded, "but not tonight - I don't want to darken the mood so much. You've brought me to this beautiful place and I would like to enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed."

"Oh, and how is that?" asked Julian softly.

"With me holding you - making love to you in all the ways that I know how," said Garak simply. "Thank you for allowing me into your life Julian Bashir. It is a gift I will always cherish." Julian stared at his companion in delighted surprise. It was the closest to an outright declaration of love that he had ever received from the Cardassian and it was as precious as it was unexpected.

"Elim, I..."

"No, Julian, no more words," said Garak with a slight shake of his head. He indicated the rug before the fire. "Shall we sit here?"

"Yes, but first there's something else I want to introduce you to, Elim. Another thing that reminds me of my visits here." Julian slipped out of the tailor's embrace and padded across to the replicator. He considered for a moment. "Hm, two mugs of hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls," he decided finally. Garak's eye ridges shot up disbelievingly.

"Chocolate?" Garak sounded faintly put out. "Julian, fond as I am of chocolate how can you think about it at a time like this? I'm offering to make love to you by firelight and you want me to try a chocolate drink?"

"It's not just a chocolate drink," declared Julian. "It's guaranteed to soothe the most jangled nerves - and right now, to be honest, mine could use a little soothing. It's also the most perfect thing to curl up in front of the fire and relax with - well, the second most perfect thing," he amended glancing coyly over his shoulder and smiling sweetly at the Cardassian.

The steaming mugs materialised in the replicator and Julian retrieved them. He walked across to join Garak who had moved to stand closer to the fire and was staring down into its flickering heart as if transfixed. The doctor wondered briefly what images the tailor saw in the dancing flames. Or did Cardassians even indulge their imagination that way? To reach Garak, Julian had to step onto the fur rug which covered the floor in front of the fireplace. The soft, warm surface of the rug brushed delightfully against the soles of the doctor's feet. He rather imagined the ticklishly silky pelt would feel even more delicious against other more sensitive parts of his body.

Julian held out one of the mugs of chocolate to Garak who accepted it gingerly, curving his fingers around it and enjoying the warmth against his palms. Gracefully Julian sank down, settling himself cross-legged on the rug. The Cardassian followed suit with slightly less ease. He watched as the doctor sipped at his steaming drink.

"Mmm, just right," said Julian with a pleased sigh. He regarded his companion with some amusement as Garak looked at the swirl of cream surmounting his mug suspiciously. Finally the tailor brought the drink to his lips and took a cautious sip. His eyes widened in surprise as he found the combination of cool cream and hot chocolate more pleasing than he had anticipated. Garak took a second larger mouthful before looking up again. As he did so he was startled when Julian promptly burst out laughing.

"Julian?" he asked with a puzzled frown. "I'm sorry, but I fail to see what exactly you find so amusing." After indulging in several more moments of helpless laughter the young doctor finally took pity on Garak, sliding across the rug to his side. One slender finger traced along the tailor's top lip, coming away with a residue of whipped cream.

"I'm sorry, Elim" said Julian with an apologetic grin, "but you looked - strange with your impromptu moustache! Here, let me," he added. "There's still some more of it - and there on the tip of your nose too."

Garak expected the doctor to use his fingers again, but this time Julian leaned forward and carefully licked away the remaining cream with delicate strokes of his tongue. As he drew back the doctor's hazel eyes met Garak's for a long moment and there was a renewed hunger in that look.

"Cardassian and cream - hm, very tasty," observed Julian lightly. His eyes never left Garak's face.

"Would you like more?" asked Garak huskily.

"Always..." whispered Julian with total honesty.

Garak set aside his mug and quickly pulled the enveloping towel free of his body. Julian watched avidly. He delighted in the way the flames in the hearth cast shadows, throwing all the nooks and crannies of the Cardassian's naked body into sharp relief. Julian found himself admiring anew all the ridges and delicate scales which patterned Garak's skin. The firelight burnished them, giving them an exotic ruddy tinge. The tailor's cross-legged posture gave Julian a clear view of the dark length of Garak's sex as it rose from the shadows between his thighs. Unconsciously the young man licked his lips, remembering the taste and the feel of it as it slid across his tongue. Julian swallowed, aching to claim the Cardassian for his own again.

The tailor followed the direction of his lover's intent look and smiled. With an abrupt gesture Garak stretched out a hand and pulled Julian's towel from him too. He tossed it aside carelessly and his hungry gaze devoured the perfect picture the young man made. All his long, graceful body was limned with a beautiful rosy glow and the reflection of tiny, flickering flames danced in his clear, dark eyes.

As Julian continued to watch, Garak stretched himself out casually across the deep fur of the rug. He kept his face turned towards the doctor and his startlingly blue eyes invited Julian to indulge himself. The invitation was too much for the human to resist. Carefully he trickled just a little of the mingled cream and hot chocolate over Garak's broad chest and down to his stomach. Julian did not trust himself to go lower - he wanted the moment to last and knew the promise of the tailor's sex would be an irresistable temptation. The rivulets of creamy liquid flowed over the Cardassian's skin, finding a path between the ornate, grey scales. Julian watched them for a moment, fascinated.

Recalling himself the doctor put down the mug and bent over the invitingly sprawled form of his lover. He began at the smooth, leathery belly where a little of the hot chocolate had pooled in Garak's navel. Delicately Julian lapped at the moisture gathered there. The combination of the sweetness of the beverage mingling with the underlying spiciness of the tailor's skin was exotic and Julian felt his pulse quicken, the pattern of his breathing become uneven.

Slowly the young man began to work his way up Garak's torso. His tongue diligently sought out every trace of chocolate and cream, and if he also lingered over places where none of the liquid had fallen Garak was not inclined to complain. Julian found the dark circles of the tailor's nipples and spent long moments dabbing at each in turn with the very tip of his tongue. Garak gave a soft sigh and emboldened Julian returned to them, sucking harder this time and grazing the sensitive flesh with his teeth.
The tailor gave voice to a long, throaty moan. Reaching up he wound his arms about Julian, pulling the young man down fully on top of him and rubbing against the slender frame as his need grew. Shifting his weight Garak rolled over. The movement pinned Julian beneath him, pressing him into the softness of the rug. The doctor gave a small sound of protest as the air was driven from his lungs, but a moment later he was caught up in other sensations. Garak's mouth descended to cover his, treating him to a sweet and very thorough kiss. Julian responded willingly. His lips clung to Garak's and his tongue stole into the tailor's mouth, exploring and twining with his lover's in an erotic dance. When the two men finally broke apart they were both flushed and quite breathless.
Now it's even hotter...

Click for full size illustration

Julian had quickly adjusted to the weight and heat of the body pressing down on his own. Now he felt the hardness of the Cardassian's renewed erection nudging his thigh and his own groin stirred in eager response. The crackling sounds of the logs burning in the hearth were loud in Julian's ears, but not so loud as the thudding of Garak's heart against his chest. The tailor's lips nuzzled the soft curve of his neck and then moved gently upward to brush his cheek.

"Julian, I want you," came the breathless whisper. "May I have what I want?" Julian groaned in anticipation.

"Yes," he breathed.

The doctor felt the weight lift from him and he knew a moment of cold emptiness as Garak briefly left the room. The tailor quickly returned with one of the phials of oil from the bathroom and several dry towels. Julian lay on his back looking up at the strong, sturdy form of the Cardassian standing over him. Garak looked magnificent. His grey skin shone in the firelight and the flickering dance of shadows over his ridged features gave him an air of mystery.

Garak knelt beside Julian and arranged the towels carefully before urging the young man onto his stomach. The doctor gasped as the soft fur of the rug found every ticklish spot on his chest and along the hard length of his sex. Garak regarded him quizzically.

"Sorry," muttered Julian sheepishly, "it's this rug. It tickles." Garak laughed at the doctor's embarrassed admission.

"Julian, my love," he promised, "soon the rug will be the last thing on your mind. Now, would you like to make me ready?" Garak held out the flask of oil to Julian and he accepted it readily. The tailor moved to kneel before him, angling his hips to allow the young man better access. The doctor tipped out a generous measure of oil into his cupped hand then grasped Garak's erection, coating the length of it with the slick substance. Julian took his time, devoting all his attention to every ridge and scale that ornamented the hard shaft. He finally rubbed a liberal handful of the oil over the dark tip before returning the phial to Garak.

Drawing a ragged breath the tailor positioned himself behind Julian, nudging the doctor's legs a little wider apart with his knees. Garak filled his own palms with the viscous, scented liquid and began a careful massage of Julian's raised buttocks. One, and then two broad, slick fingers sought out the delicate opening to the doctor's body, gently working their way inside him. Julian moaned in abandoned pleasure, raising his hips from the floor and wordlessly begging for more.

It was all the invitation Garak needed. Carefully he withdrew his fingers, quickly replacing them with the blunt tip of his sex. Julian opened willingly to him and the Cardassian slid easily inside. Several more gentle thrusts were all Garak required to bury himself to the hilt in the dark warmth of the young human's body and claim him once again as his own. The tailor stretched forward, covering Julian's slight form with his own, tenderly, possessively.

They moved together to bring pleasure to one another, falling with ease into a familiar rhythm. Garak found the perfect angle to thrust into Julian so as to touch that most sensitive place deep inside him. Each stroke caused the doctor to cry out in delight as the almost overwhelming sensations flooded his body. In his turn Julian clenched his muscles steadily about Garak's thrusting erection, squeezing him tightly until the Cardassian shuddered convulsively and came. Garak threw back his head, giving voice to an intense, animal cry as the hot gift of his seed filled Julian's depths. The doctor trembled beneath the weight of the tailor and his own release finally overtook him, his entire body tingling with the sparkling pleasure.

As the intensity of the sensations slowly faded the two men slumped together gracelessly before the hearth breathing hard. They were both totally satiated from their lovemaking - and completely exhausted. Even the flames in the fireplace had dwindled to mere embers as if in sympathy with the lovers' exhaustion. With an effort Garak slid off of Julian's body and pulled the doctor close against him in a possessive embrace. Julian yawned hugely and settled himself more comfortably against the broad, leathery chest. The tailor pressed a gentle kiss onto the young man's forehead.

"We should go to bed, Julian, before we fall asleep here," he whispered softly.

"In a minute, Elim..." murmured Julian vaguely. "'M too tired to move."

"The fire is dying. You'll get cold," said Garak insistently. "No

I won't." Julian peered blearily at the tailor. "Just pull the edge of the rug over us - it'll be fine." Garak smiled in resigned acquiescence and did as the doctor asked. The heat of the fire had warmed the silky fur and it felt good as the Cardassian tucked it more firmly around them both. Julian sighed contentedly.

"Y'know," he mumbled sleepily, "if we keep this up we're going to need another holiday just to recover from this one." Julian heard Garak's answering chuckle rumbling deep in the Cardassian's chest as his eyelids drooped shut and he finally succumbed to sleep.

THE END

The artwork is copyright BGM and was originally used in "Doctor, Tailor, Officer,Spy"

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