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 July 1998.

HEART TO HEART

The card was small and elegantly printed - something of an anachronism in the brash surroundings of Quark's bar. The message displayed upon it was, however, somewhat less discreet. The words inscribed in flowing script on its face left the reader in no doubt as to the service being offered.

Long fingers closed on the card and Julian Bashir looked around quickly to be sure no one was watching him. Satisfied that the bar's patrons were all intent upon their own business and that he was unobserved, the doctor hurriedly pocketed the small square. Another surreptitious glance revealed that no one had taken any heed of his actions. Then Julian allowed himself to relax.

He wasn't sure what had drawn his eye to the card in the first place - only one corner had been showing under the table centrepiece - but Julian felt it must have been fate. Wasn't this the answer to all his prayers? But, if it was, why was he feeling so guilty about having picked up the card? He wasn't the first person to feel the need for this kind of practitioner - and he certainly wouldn't be the last! What if someone found out about it though? He'd never hear the last of it!

For a moment Julian wondered if he was totally mad even to consider utilising the service advertised on the card. Then he looked up to see his drinking companion returning to their table - and the doctor knew he had made the right decision.

As happened all too often for Julian's liking these days, he felt the involuntary speeding up of his heart and the accompanying stirring at his groin as Garak approached with their drinks. A slight flush coloured the doctor's cheeks - perhaps the result of his arousal, or maybe simply embarrassment at his unruly hormones - but he took a deep breath and schooled his face to show no other sign of what he was feeling. By the time the Cardassian had placed a glass of synthehol in front of him Julian appeared perfectly composed. That didn't alter the fact, though, that the doctor wanted nothing more than to slide into Garak's lap, throw his arms around that ridged neck and kiss the Cardassian senseless!!

Absorbed as he was in his lustful speculations Julian quite failed to notice Garak's quick glance at the tabletop. Nor did he see the faint satisfied smile which curved the Cardassian's lips as he noted that the protruding corner of the strategically placed card was no longer visible...

Much later Julian sat at the desk in his quarters, the small card lying in front of him. The doctor absently swirled the contents of a half drunk glass of kanaar as he read and reread the printed words:

Heart to Heart

Holosuites not for you? Do you want to talk to a real person? Use our secure channel to reach the man or woman of your dreams. Human, Bajoran, Cardassian, Ferengi, Klingon - whatever your preference we can cater for it. We have a quadrant-wide reputation....

The only other thing on the card was the number of the comm channel in question.

Nervously Julian took another sip of his drink. What if the channel wasn't secure and could be monitored, perhaps even by station security? The thought of Odo hearing him pour out his deepest fantasies made him shudder. No, it was utter foolishness... The doctor picked up the card and turned to throw it in the waste disposal, but as he did his eyes fell on the word "Cardassian" again, and he paused.

On the other hand, if this worked, it just might enable him to keep his composure when he was around Garak! Lately the doctor had been finding it harder and harder - in more ways than one - to stop himself from blurting out something to the Cardassian when they shared lunch or a drink together. God, how Garak would laugh if he found out Julian was lying awake at night fantasising about the two of them in bed together. Or worse, the Cardassian might be so appalled he'd never speak to him again...

No, he couldn't risk being deprived of Garak's company. He had to find an outlet for these desires before they got completely out of hand. The decision made, Julian tapped out the number of the comm channel on the panel in front of him. An encryption sequence flashed across the screen, indicating that it was indeed a secure channel, and then an impersonal computer voice was requesting that he state his preferences.

"Um, I'd - er..." Julian almost lost his nerve and asked to be connected to a human woman, but eventually he stammered out, "I'd like to speak to a Cardassian please."

"Male or female?" the computer voice enquired. Again Julian hesitated.

"I don't... well, male," he finally requested.

"Your sex and species is?" the computer droned on.

"Male human," stated the doctor with a sigh. Maybe his first instinct had been right and this really wasn't such a good idea after all...

"Request processed," the impersonal voice intoned. "You may begin your Heart to Heart."

Julian very nearly closed the channel without saying a word, but his native curiosity won out. Just who was on the other end of the open line? What sort of person did this kind of thing? After all, it seemed that even respectable Starfleet officers could find themselves using the service....

"H-hello..." he ventured shyly. "Is - is anyone there?"

"Hello," came the reply. The voice was deep and richly melodic. Julian felt his throat go dry. "What would you like to talk about tonight?"

"I..." the doctor took a deep breath. This wasn't as easy as he'd hoped it would be. He'd thought with a stranger he was never going to meet face to face he would be able to simply allow the fantasies free reign, say whatever came into his head. The only problem was, his mind had gone utterly blank...

"Is this your first time with Heart to Heart?" The voice took pity on him. "Let me help you out a little to start with."

"Thank you," murmured Julian, "and yes, it is my first time."

"Well, allow me to introduce myself. I am Terek. And what would you like me to call you?"

"Oh, I'm Julian..." The doctor suddenly wondered at the advisibility of using his real name, but as long as it was only his first name surely there was no harm in it. He would feel even more silly than he already did if he started using a pseudonym.

"Julian. Hello, Julian. What a beautiful name. Are you as beautiful as your name?" The doctor felt a swift wave of arousal wash over him at the sensual tone in the deep voice. If only it were Garak saying those words to him...

The thought doused all traces of desire. This wasn't real! What did he think he was doing?

"I - I'm sorry, this was a mistake," said Julian hurriedly.

"Was it? Why?" The rich voice invited confidences.

"I - it... No, I can't do this. Forgive me for wasting your time," Julian apologised, flustered.

"So, not a mistake then?" the voice chided. "Only your own uncertainty prevents you from enjoying what you want. Allow your body, not your brain, to tell you what it needs."

The low, sexy tones almost swayed Julian - almost. With a quick motion of his hand he broke the connection. The doctor could not know the utter frustration of the man at the other end of the comm line at that moment. All he knew was his own embarrassment. He snatched up the card and spun round to toss it into the disposal unit, but once again something made him stop. Carefully Julian replaced the small square on his desk and stood up, heading for the bathroom to splash cold water on his overheated face.

For the next week Julian tried to forgot the embarrassing episode with Heart to Heart. The card lay ignored on his desk and he felt no inclination to make another call. That was before his weekly lunch with Garak though. It proved to be a more trying event than usual as during the whole meal Julian found the words of the unknown Cardassian running through his head.

Are you as beautiful as your name...? Only your own uncertainty prevents you from enjoying what you want...

Totally distracted, Julian quite missed the fact that Garak had asked him a question. He started as the Cardassian tapped him on the back of the hand to regain his attention.

"Tell me, doctor, am I boring you so much?" enquired Garak, a quizzical expression on his face.

"No, of course not. I'm sorry, Garak," replied Julian contritely. "I, ummm - I just have rather a lot on my mind at the moment. You know how it is."

"Ah..." Garak's blue eyes twinkled with amusement as he leaned towards the doctor conspiratorially. "Affairs of the heart, perhaps?" he teased. He was rewarded by the sight of Julian Bashir's face turning an interesting shade of red.

"Garak!" protested Julian. He couldn't bring himself to meet his companion's eyes, certain the Cardassian would be able to read exactly what he was thinking if he did. And yet his mind mused, Oh, Garak, if only you knew...

"Now it is I who should apologise, doctor," soothed the Cardassian. He patted the young man's hand gently. If he was aware of the slight tremor which ran through the doctor at his touch he did not remark upon it. "I shouldn't pry into your - affairs like that." Julian made another sound of protest at the renewed teasing and Garak hid a smile. Perhaps the good doctor might yet feel the need for another Heart to Heart...

Off duty and alone in his quarters Julian paced back and forth as he relived the embarrassment of his lunch with Garak. Of all the things the Cardassian could have chosen to tease him about... And when Garak had touched his hand he had come this close to blurting out what he was feeling - and all because of the words of a Cardassian he'd never even met! He ought to give that Terek a piece of his mind!

As he continued to pace the idea took root in Julian's mind. He would call Heart to Heart again. He'd ask to be put through to Terek and he'd tell the idiot how he'd almost wrecked a perfectly good friendship! Bristling with righteous indignation the doctor sat down at his desk and grabbed the advertising card. It took only a moment to connect to the secure channel. The same computer voice began to intone the same questions as before.

"Forget preferences," stormed Julian, "just connect me to the Cardassian called Terek!"

"Working," stated the computer, quite unfazed by his irritation. "Request processed. You may begin your Heart to Heart."

"Terek? Are you there?" demanded Julian.

"This is Terek," replied the same melodic voice as before. "And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"

"I'm quite sure you don't remember me," the doctor began sarcastically, "but my name is Julian. Do you have..."

"Ah, yes, the young man who cut the connection before we could really get to know one another. I remember very well..." There was the faintest trace of amusement in the deep voice. "I didn't expect to hear from you again, Julian."

"And I didn't expect to be calling again either," muttered Julian irritatedly.

"So, why are you?" Terek asked reasonably. "Are you ready to talk now...?" The voice dropped even lower in pitch.

"No, I'm not!" God, that voice was distracting.... "I - I want to tell you how you nearly ruined a good friendship today. This mess is all your fault!"

"Oh, how can that be? We've never even met so how...? 'This mess', you say, as if I should know what you're talking about. What am I supposed to have done to you?"

It was a fair question. Julian sighed, trying to rein in his irritation and organise his thoughts coherently. Terek must think he was quite mad!

"It's not anything you've done; rather it was what you said when we talked before."

"Remind me."

"Last time - well, you told me I should let my body tell me what it wants and not just be ruled by my head. Today I almost did that. I..."

"Ah, so there is someone in your life, is there, Julian?" Terek's tone indicated dawning understanding.

"No - yes, well, he's my friend, but I wish he was more than that. But he has no idea what I feel and I'm sure he doesn't think of me that way and... Dear God, why the hell am I telling you all this?" Julian realised abruptly he had been babbling.

"I'm here - and perhaps because there is no one else you can tell?"

"Hm, maybe you're right." There was no maybe about it, Julian thought. No wonder Terek was in this line of work. He made you want to talk to him - not unlike...

"So, are you still angry with me?" There was a cautious note in Terek's voice.

"No. I - well, I suppose it wasn't even you I was really angry with. It was myself I guess."

"Why? Was it because you nearly did say something - or because you didn't?" Terek sounded genuinely interested.

"Oh, you're very good you know!" Julian laughed softly. "Rather like another Cardassian of my acquaintance..." Ah, he hadn't meant to say that out loud.

"Sooo, this mystery man of yours is a Cardassian. I wondered why a human would choose one of my race to talk with. Tell me then, how long have you been enamoured of a Cardassian, Julian?"

The doctor sat back in his chair, considering. He'd never really thought about the precise moment when he'd realised Garak meant more to him than a plain and simple friend should.

"I don't know - weeks, months, years? Probably from the very first time I saw him. He terrified me that day, but he also intrigued me... I made such a fool of myself! And he has the most amazing eyes. Now every time I'm around him I start to feel..." Julian's voice trailed off into silence.

"You desire him?"

"Oh yes!"

"And that is why you first decided to speak to me? Well, not me precisely, but you understand what I mean?"

"Yes - to both."

"What did you hope to gain from this?"

"If I'm honest? A way of giving my fantasies - did I mention I'd been having erotic fantasies about him? - an outlet without... well, without risking our friendship. I know if I don't do something I'm going to come right out and tell him."

"But if you did that you might find he feels the same. You could be missing out on something special, Julian."

"Or I could be alienating him for good. I'm not ready to take a chance on that yet."

"And so I was to be the surrogate recipient of all this suppressed passion of yours?"

"Yes."

"So, what do you want to do now?"

"What do you mean?"

"Now that you've used me as your, shall we say, father confessor are you going to cut the connection? Run away again? Or are you going to take the opportunity to find out what it might be like this time?"

"Surely you don't want to carry on with this conversation - not in that way - not after what I've told you. You know it's not you that I... well...."

"If I may be honest? For one thing, how could I ever expect to be the real object of anyone's affections in this situation? Believe me, I have no such illusions. However, I'm frankly intrigued by you, Julian. I'd like to know you - even if only for this short time."

The rich voice had become quieter, deeper. Julian found himself leaning closer to the comm panel so as not to miss a single word. He knew he should simply close the channel, but he was tempted by the offer. In a strange way he felt a connection with Terek. The unseen Cardassian seemed to understand...

"All right," agreed Julian. "Let's continue. I'll admit I still don't really know what to do though." A brief smile curved his lips. "Hm, I can think of a few people who'd pay good money to see me at a loss for words for once!"

"Ah, so you're always the talkative type then, Julian?"

"So I'm told!"

"Well then, let's put that delightful voice of yours to good use, shall we? Tell me, are you as beautiful as you sound?" Warm sensuality coloured the Cardassian's voice again. Julian let his eyes drift shut, savouring it.

"You asked me if I was beautiful before."

"And as I recall you failed to answer on that occasion as well. This time I don't intend to let you off so lightly. If you want this conversation to continue you will answer my question, Julian."

"Ah, I've heard that Cardassians like to dominate their lovers. Is that true? Are you trying to establish dominance over me?"

"To dominate, to submit - they are merely opposite sides of the same coin."

"And you're no better at giving direct answers than - than..."

"Than your Cardassian is?"

"He's not my Cardassian, but yes."

"Well, you did indicate that I needed to guide you in this verbal dance of ours. Was that not an indication of your submission?"

"No, merely an acknowledgement of your greater experience in this arena - not the same thing at all." Julian straightened in his seat. This conversation wasn't going at all the way he had imagined it would.

"To a Cardassian they are one and the same, my dear Julian. Age and experience are due suitable respect." Terek sounded a little affronted.

"I didn't say I wouldn't respect you, only that I wouldn't submit to you. Well, not just yet anyway..." Julian's voice held out a promise.

"Ah, your Cardassian friend has taught you well! He is to be commended. Your conversation is most stimulating. If he does not want you for himself he is a fool. Now, tell me, are you beautiful?" The tantalising hint of sensuality was back in Terek's tone.

"You don't give up, do you? Well, I've been told perseverance should have its reward..." The doctor chuckled - a deep, throaty sound. "Beautiful? Hmmm, it's not a word I'd use to describe myself, but I suppose I am quite good-looking..."

"So tell me what you look like, Julian. I've been imagining you; I'd like to know how close my imagination has brought me."

"Oh, I have brown hair, quite short really, and my eyes are brown, I suppose - unless I'm tired, and then they're more greenish..."

Terek's musical laughter greeted this recitation.

"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, my naive Julian!"

"Oh?"

"You are human, correct?" said Terek patiently.

"Yes, so...?"

"Well, I've never seen a naked human before. Tell me about the rest of yourself, Julian. Describe what delights I could look forward to uncovering if I were with you now."

"Oh..." The doctor swallowed hard. Could he sit here and give a total stranger a detailed description of his body? He'd never even done something like that for one of his lovers.

"Is it really such a difficult request to make of you?" Terek sounded honestly curious.

"Actually, yes," admitted Julian. "It makes it all seem rather - clinical somehow, but I'll try. I, um, well, I'm pretty tall - long legs, I suppose - and slim. My skin is quite a dark shade... Er, I don't really know what else to say, Terek."

"Clinical indeed, dear Julian! You sound like you're describing the suspect in a crime rather than attempting to paint an alluring picture of yourself! And I had such high hopes for you." Julian could almost see Terek's disappointed shake of the head as the Cardassian sighed. "Let's try this another way. Tell me, I hear that humans have hair all over their bodies - not just on their heads as Cardassians do. Is that true?"

"Well, yes, I suppose so. It varies from person to person though. I don't have as much as some men do."

"Oh?"

"Um, I don't have any hair on my chest, for example. I never seemed to manage to grow any there." Julian laughed ruefully.

"Where do you have hair then?"

"Oh, the usual places, of course - but then you wouldn't know... I'm sorry, Terek, I'm babbling; I know I am. It's only that I'm feeling rather nervous about this. I guess that sounds stupid to you."

"Not at all," the rich voice soothed. "You've never talked to someone like this before and it's going to take you a little time to be comfortable with it. Don't worry; it will get easier the longer we talk."

"I hope so!"

"Just relax, Julian, enjoy this experience for what it is - a means of freeing yourself from the constraints of your normal existence. To me you can say all the things you only dreamed of saying to your Cardassian."

"He's not my..."

"Semantics, dear Julian! Now, you were describing yourself for me. Why don't you continue - tell me all the secrets of your body."

Somehow the deep Cardassian voice was beginning to make the doctor unwind. It invited confidences - a sharing of secrets... And Terek was right; this was, after all, what he had wanted.

"All right, I'll tell you what I look like - well, to myself at any rate - and I'll try not to make it sound too much like one of my medical reports! I am tall, about six feet I suppose, and definitely very slim. Sometimes I think I'm too skinny and I feel uncomfortable about being naked, but the lovers I've had all tell me they like me that way. Graceful, I've been called - and athletic... They were probably just being polite, actually.

"Um, like I said before, my chest has no hair on it so you can see my nipples clearly. They're dark brown while the rest of my skin is a more - golden brown I suppose you'd call it. I do have fine, dark hair on my forearms and legs though. Actually, I rather like it when someone caresses it... Oh, that's probably more than you wanted to know!"

"Not at all, Julian. I'd like to know what pleases you. Perhaps we can talk about that more later. So, have you told me about all the places you have hair now? Or do you still have more secrets for me?"

"Hardly a secret, Terek, but I do have some under my arms and - at my groin."

"Ah, yes, I'd heard that about humans. It sounds intriguing. Is the hair down there soft too?"

"No, it's coarser, curled..."

"And do you like it when a lover runs their fingers through that hair too, Julian?"

The doctor felt a jolt through his body at the low, sexy voice in which the question was asked. He realised he was beginning to get hard. Just from talking? He wondered at it - was he really so starved of company? Or was it just the fact that it was a Cardassian asking him such intimate questions - a Cardassian he could so easily allow himself to imagine was Garak...?

"Julian?" The soft voice again...

"Yes, yes I do!" he whispered.

"And what else do you like? How does it please you to be touched, my human friend?"

"I - I like it when..." The doctor hesitated again, feeling his body's response becoming more insistent.

"Does it please you when a lover takes your cock in his hand and slowly rubs it - up and down, again and again?" Softer, still more intimately the voice continued, "Is your cock long, Julian? Is it smooth?"

A muffled moan was all that Julian could manage by way of answer for a moment, but eventually he pulled himself together enough to reply.

"I - I suppose it's - well, pretty much average for a human male, so, long enough, anyway. It - yes, it's smooth and - and yes, I do like it when a lover masturbates me."

"Ahhh, and is it long and hard now, Julian? Your voice tells me that it is. I think perhaps you're finally beginning to take heed of my words and letting your body decide what it wants... Is your cock hard?"

"Oh God, yes it is!"

"Are you touching yourself, Julian?"

"No, I..."

"Oh, Julian, such a waste! Why don't you touch yourself for me now. I'd like that."

"I - I... so would I."

Quickly Julian pulled open his uniform and slid out of it. Boots and briefs were also discarded until the doctor sat naked at his desk. His cock was most definitely hard, and already leaking its clear liquid from the rosy tip. He waited for the sensual voice to resume.

"Are you naked for me now?" Terek enquired softly.

"Yes, I am," breathed Julian.

"Good. Now, take hold of yourself for me - stroke yourself - and imagine that it is my hand wrapped around your smooth cock, touching, squeezing... Close your eyes and let your mind believe that I am at your side, bringing you this pleasure..."

Julian obeyed willingly now. Terek's voice carried him along with it and it felt wonderful. It had never been this good when he touched himself before.

"Terek?"

"Yes, Julian?"

"Tell me what you look like too. Then I can really imagine you're here with me. I have no idea at all how you look."

"Oh, I'm a Cardassian like any other of my race - not a rare beauty like you."

"I'd still like to know. I mean, I've seen a naked Cardassian as a patient before, but never in a sexual situation. I'm sure there are plenty of differences..."

"Patient? So, my Julian, you're a doctor then?"

Ah! Caught up in the sensations he wasn't concentrating. At this rate he'd be giving his whole identity away if he wasn't careful! And wouldn't that be great blackmail material for a canny Cardassian? It was one thing to enjoy this unreal fantasy encounter, but he still needed to keep his brain functioning independently of his genitals!

"I, yes, I am."

"Mmm, then no doubt you have gentle, skilled hands. How delightful - though a shame I can only imagine how they feel. Well then, as a doctor you must know how sensitive a Cardassian's ridges are - especially during sex."

"Are they?" Too eager - but he hadn't known!

"Oh yes, if you were here, stroking my neck ridges or the ridges around my eyes - why, I'd be in heaven, sweet Julian!"

"And the ridges on your body - are they as sensitive?"

"Oh yes, during a sexual encounter they are a source of great delight - the friction of two bodies rubbing together is exquisite. And then, of course, the best ridges of all..."

The voice became lower still. Julian's hand stopped its stroking so he could lean in closer to the comm link.

"Yes?"

"Have you ever seen an aroused Cardassian, dear Julian? If not in life perhaps in a holosuite?"

"Er, no, I haven't."

"Ah, well, a Cardassian's penis is encircled by two ridges. As the penis becomes erect they enlarge. When a joining takes place..."

"The ridges rub... Oh my!"

"Exactly, Julian! Do you wish I were there with you now? I can assure you that after this fascinating discussion I'm really quite aroused myself."

"Ohhhhh...."

"Oh yes, and there's really nothing I'd like more than to have your slim, golden body under mine and slowly, slowly slide my cock inside you... Believe me, it would be like nothing you've ever felt before."

Julian bit his lip to stop the moan which threatened to escape him. He took hold of himself again, stroking harder now, more urgently.

"Terek," he asked huskily, "are you touching yourself too?"

"Yes, my Julian, I am. Does that please you? But tell me, are you close now?"

"Yes, yes I am!"

"Then let me hear your beautiful voice. I want to hear you moan and sigh as you come."

Julian closed his eyes and pumped his cock in a steady rhythm. He could feel the explosion building inside himself and as it finally overwhelmed him he let his voice express his pleasure for the unseen Cardassian listening at the other end of the comm channel.

On the other side of the station, in his quarters, Garak sat naked on his bed, stroking himself in time to the soft moans of Julian Bashir. The tailor forgot that he was supposed to be talking to the young man, encouraging him - his own voice disguised by a trick of the computer - he was too intent on savouring the sounds of Julian wantonly pleasuring himself. They allowed Garak to imagine he could see and touch the slender, golden body the doctor had described so deliciously for him.

A sudden louder moan told the Cardassian Julian had found his peak. Garak renewed his own efforts and a moment later spilled out his seed in turn. He sat, panting hard as the world slowly came back into focus. When he thought to check the comm channel again it was closed.

In his room Julian was staring at the comm in disbelief. He had just sat, talking to a complete stranger, while they both masturbated themselves to orgasm - the sounds from the Cardassian had been unmistakable - as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do! What had he been thinking? Quickly Julian snatched up the Heart to Heart card, and this time he threw it into the disposal unit without a moment's hesitation. How embarrassing! And all because he had been pining over Garak. He'd obviously taken leave of his senses!

With his cheeks still burning at the memory of what he had just done Julian got up and went into the bathroom to clean up. A good, brisk sonic shower was what he needed now. Really, this had to stop!

To be continued...?

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