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 1997.

SLEEPLESS

Garak was still awake - despite the late hour and the strain of the past few days, which should have been enough to exhaust anyone. He was also still distressed. Julian Bashir could sense it as he lay heavy-eyed, but sleepless in the darkness of the Dominion prison cell. The doctor's bunk was adjacent to Garak's and Julian could hear his restless movements, a stark contrast to the steady breathing of their other cellmates.

The Cardassian had good reason for his distress. For one thing, the doctor was certain that Enabran Tain's death had shaken Garak far more than he had revealed at the time. How could he not have been deeply affected by the death of his father? Yet there had been almost no outward display of grief; Garak had merely turned from the body and stated calmly that his business in this place was done. That particular revelation about the Cardassian's parentage had stunned Julian. It had also finally made sense of both Tain's own ambivalence towards his disgraced ex-operative and the intense loyalty Garak had displayed towards the man who had first exiled him and then attempted to have him killed. And if that had not been enough to upset the equilibrium of the usually unruffled Cardassian there had been the unfortunate incident earlier that afternoon...

The doctor was well aware how keenly Garak had felt the shame of his complete loss of control when his claustrophobia had overwhelmed him. Julian couldn't even begin to imagine what the Cardassian must have been going through when he found himself shut in and in total darkness. The doctor had, however, felt the violent tremors running through his friend's body as he held onto Garak while he led him slowly out of the confined space in which he had been trapped. Never had Julian seen Garak so terrified - not even in the worst moments of his withdrawal from the implant had his body betrayed him so completely.

Ah, Garak, we had no idea what we were asking of you. You should have told us. Or, if you didn't want to lose face in front of the others, you could at least have confided in me. I would have understood and done whatever I could to make things easier for you. Or did you believe you could control your fear? Perhaps if you had still had the implant to call on you might have been able to. I wonder if you have always been claustrophobic or whether the attack was triggered by some memory...?

Julian turned onto his stomach, propping himself up on his elbows. In the darkness he saw the faint glitter of Garak's open eyes. Would the Cardassian be able to get any rest tonight, or would he simply lie there and continue to brood? They all needed to sleep, to store up their strength, if they were to have any hope of getting out of this alive. As both doctor and friend to Garak, Julian determined to do whatever he could to help him. Carefully he stretched out a hand, touching the Cardassian's shoulder lightly to let him know that he was also awake. Garak started violently at the unexpected contact.

"Doctor, you should be sleeping," he whispered harshly when he realised who it was that had reached out to him.

"So should you," admonished Julian. "After the shock your system had today you need your rest."

"I cannot sleep," hissed Garak. "Every time I close my eyes I find myself back behind that panel. Rationally I know it isn't so, but my mind insists that I am still alone, in darkness, unable to breathe - trapped! Unfortunately I have a remarkably good imagination..."

"I'm sorry. I didn't realise." Julian squeezed the Cardassian's shoulder comfortingly. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Can you find a way to shut these images out of my mind now that I no longer have the implant as an option? If you can I'd be more than grateful. Believe me, doctor, I have never regretted its loss as much as I do now," observed Garak sardonically.

He was trying to make light of his fears, Julian realised - and he was failing badly. The doctor could feel the faint but continuous shivering that ran through the body under his hand. The Cardassian's veneer of control was still very thin. Garak needed comfort - and a distraction - if he was to have any peace that night. Julian considered the options available to him and reached a swift decision. Silently the doctor slipped out of his bunk. A moment later Garak gave a muffled gasp as he felt movement behind him in his own narrow bed.

"Doctor, what...?" he began, far too loudly. A slender hand covered his mouth gently, effectively silencing him.

"Not so loud, Garak," whispered Julian, his voice sounding directly by the Cardassian's ear. His warm breath teased the sensitive ridges there. After a few seconds the doctor removed his hand.

"Doctor," repeated Garak insistently, though in a much quieter voice, "what in all the hells do you think you are doing?"

"I'm trying to take your mind off your claustrophobia," replied Julian calmly. "That was what you said you wanted me to do, wasn't it?" The doctor settled himself more comfortably on the hard mattress, snuggling up close behind Garak and slipping both his arms around the Cardassian's waist. "Mmm, that's nice," he murmured. "You feel so warm."

Garak had not the slightest idea how to react to the totally unexpected situation. Here he was, a prisoner of the Dominion, and yet at the same time Julian Bashir was in his bed, holding him close as if it were the most natural thing in the galaxy to be doing! One of them, Garak decided, had to be completely insane. However, he did have to agree with the doctor on one point. The living warmth plastered along the whole length of his back did feel nice - much better than nice, in fact. As Julian's breath softly caressed his neck ridges Garak felt a definite stirring at his groin. Abruptly he tensed and was immediately aware of Julian drawing back a little. It was both a relief and a disappointment to the Cardassian.

"What's wrong?" the doctor asked, concern evident in his tone.

"I'm quite sure this bed is too small for both of us to be comfortable," replied Garak with as much dignity as he could muster. "I have no wish to be responsible for you not getting enough sleep as a result of my restlessness. Perhaps you would prefer to return to your own bunk. I'm certain that would be the sensible thing to do."

"Is that all that's worrying you...? Actually, I rather like it where I am," admitted Julian. His voice was low and husky. He pressed closer to the Cardassian again and Garak gave an involuntary gasp as his resolve was sorely tested.

"Doctor!" he hissed through clenched teeth. "Please will you leave me!"

"Why? What are you afraid of, Garak?" Julian asked pointedly. He no longer had any doubt as to what his friend was trying to conceal from him. The doctor's hand dropped, cupping the front of Garak's trousers where a considerable bulge now provided undeniable evidence of the Cardassian's arousal. "Are you ashamed - of this?" Julian's fingers tightened, squeezing gently.

"No. Yes!" murmured Garak roughly. "Doctor, this is not right."

"Of course it's right," insisted Julian. "What better way can you think of to relax you and take your mind off your problems for a few precious moments? Is it that you think I don't want this?" To reassure Garak on that point Julian pressed his own groin firmly against the Cardassian's buttocks, so that Garak felt the unmistakable hardness prodding his pliant flesh. He drew in a sharp breath at the realisation that Julian was as aroused by their closeness as he was.

"Julian..." The doctor laughed fondly at the stunned tone of Garak's voice. At the same time, he did not miss the Cardassian's sudden use of his first name - a very rare occurence indeed. It brought an affectionate smile to Julian's lips, though he wondered if Garak was even aware he had spoken it aloud.

"Garak, as your doctor I thoroughly recommend this 'treatment'," Julian assured him, opting to keep his tone light but persuasive. "In all honesty it's helped me to sleep, even when I was under considerable stress, on more than one occasion. Besides, are you seriously going to tell me that you've never thought before about the possibility of this happening? If you do I won't believe you."

Under other circumstances Garak might have tried to deny the truth of the doctor's words. In his heart though, the Cardassian had to admit that he had thought about it - more than once. But until now he had always dismissed it as an impossible dream - a fantasy to keep him company during lonely nights.

"The others...?" Garak made one final, token protest.

"If we're quiet none of them will be any the wiser," replied Julian reasonably. "I promise you, there's nothing to worry about." The doctor's hands found the fastening of Garak's trousers and slid it open. He noted that Garak made no further attempt to stop what was happening - evidently the Cardassian had decided that he needed his friend's touch too much. Julian's gentle fingers slipped inside the prisoning material, freeing Garak's now thoroughly erect cock. The doctor wrapped his hand around the hard flesh and slowly began a firm, rhythmic stroking.

It felt incredible. Garak couldn't stop himself. He gave a low, despairing moan.

"Hush," Julian chided him softly, his lips brushing the swollen neck ridges.

The Cardassian brought a hand up to his mouth, biting on his knuckles to silence the cries which welled up in his throat as Julian worked his magic. Every scale and every ridge received its share of attention from the questing fingertips. Gentle caresses to the flared head of Garak's cock were alternated with the roughly stimulating scrape of nails along the tougher skin of its shaft. Garak had no idea how the doctor had learned so precisely what would please him, but as he climbed swiftly to his peak the Cardassian ceased to care about such mundane considerations. Only the pleasure mattered as Garak slid over the brink into delight.

Julian smiled into the darkness as he felt the Cardassian's body convulse, and a moment later Garak's warm fluid spilled out over his hand. Soon after that the doctor became aware that Garak's breathing had slowed to a deep, steady rhythm and the sturdy body enfolded in his embrace was now perfectly relaxed. Carefully Julian refastened the Cardassian's clothes and, as the sound of gentle snoring reached his ears, the doctor slid out of Garak's bunk and returned to his own. It appeared his 'treatment' had proved highly effective!

As he lay down and tried to make himself comfortable Julian realised his cock was still hard. What was that old saying, he mused? Ah yes, "physician heal thyself". With that thought Julian allowed his mind to replay for him the way it had felt to press against Garak's solid body. He savoured again the memory of warm flesh against his palm and the whole experience of stroking Garak to orgasm. As the images danced in his brain Julian unsealed the front of his jumpsuit and dipped a hand inside, grasping the familiar, smooth contours of his own cock. It wasn't hard for the doctor to imagine that it was another, much broader hand which held him and caressed him. He soon managed a satisfying climax of his own, biting his lip hard to contain the sounds of his pleasure.

Sleepily the doctor tidied his clothing and pulled his rough blanket tightly around himself. Julian knew that this interlude had not really changed their situation, but somehow he felt more optimistic now about their chances of escape. There was simply too much to look forward to that lay beyond the confines of the Dominion prison and he refused to accept the possibility that they might die there. With Julian's support Garak would find the strength to overcome his claustrophobia and complete his work on the transmitter.

The mingled scents of human and Cardassian sex surrounded Julian as he quickly fell asleep. As a result it was perhaps not surprising that as he slept the doctor dreamed of sharing Garak's bed again - this time in the much more comfortable surroundings of Deep Space Nine.

THE END

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