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 October 1995.

IT'S ALL A QUESTION OF TIMING

With a sigh Garak glanced at the chronometer on his desk once again - 2230 hours. It was about time he faced up to the fact that Doctor Bashir wasn't coming. As a change from their usual routine of lunch once a week the young doctor had suggested they had dinner together tonight. He had promised to drop by Garak's quarters at 2030 hours, but he had never arrived.

At first the Cardassian had assumed some medical emergency had detained his young friend, but a call to the Infirmary had disabused him of that notion. Doctor Bashir, he was informed, had left for the evening some time earlier. Garak had subsequently invented a variety of other excuses to explain the doctor's lateness, but finally he was forced to admit to himself that the young human had evidently had a better offer.

As he thought about it further Garak recalled that the Lexington had docked at the station earlier that day. Doctor Bashir had talked at great length about the ship's impending arrival, bearing with her the doctor's medical nemesis - the valedictorian of his class - Elizabeth Lense. Bashir had been nervous about facing the young woman, but perhaps, Garak reflected, his fears had been unfounded and the reunion had been rather more successful than the human had predicted.

Garak sighed again. Much as he would have liked to dismiss the notion, being stood up by Bashir hurt. You ridiculous old fool, he told himself sternly. If you had the choice between dining with a beautiful, young doctor and an aging Cardassian tailor which would you choose? Garak smiled wryly. His answer to that question would have been the same as it appeared Doctor Bashir's had been. Only the doctor the Cardassian had in mind wasn't Elizabeth Lense. No, the doctor who increasingly occupied Garak's thoughts was Julian Bashir.

It had taken the tailor a long time to admit to himself that his feelings for Bashir were not entirely platonic. At first, even given his inclination to flirt with the young man, the idea had seemed totally preposterous. But as Garak spent more time in the doctor's company he had been forced to acknowledge his sexual attraction to the engaging human. So Garak had made his flirtation more overt, but Doctor Bashir had still appeared quite unresponsive to his overtures. Eventually the tailor had reluctantly concluded that the doctor simply didn't reciprocate his feelings and had set about consolidating their relationship on the level of simple friendship. Garak had thought that was enough - until tonight, when the good doctor had, for the first time, stood him up. Bashir doubtless had his reasons for not turning up and the tailor wanted to know what they were.

Without stopping to consider the possible consequences of his actions Garak accessed his computer terminal and set about locating Doctor Bashir. When he did trace the signal from the doctor's combadge the young man wasn't at all where the Cardassian had expected him to be. Why was he in Chief O'Brien's quarters when he was supposed to be dining with him? A mixture of curiosity and pique brought Garak to his feet and sent him out into the habitat ring, heading for the quarters of the station's chief of operations.

Garak stood in front of the closed door, his irritation increasing. The computer had been quite clear about the fact that O'Brien and Bashir were both inside this suite of rooms. So why weren't they answering? Garak pressed the door chime a fourth time and when it still went unanswered he stood back with a frown on his usually placid face. Was it possible that something had happened to the two men? Should he perhaps call Odo in the Security Office? He quickly rejected that idea and after one last, brief hesitation Garak instructed the computer to open the door, reinforcing the command with a high level Cardassian security override. The door swooshed open silently and the tailor stepped inside.

The room reeked of spilled alcohol and as Garak's eyes adjusted to the too-bright lighting he pulled up short, an expression of frank astonishment on his face. Chief O'Brien was stretched out on the floor, snoring loudly and close by, sprawled upside down over the back of a chair, was Doctor Bashir. The young doctor's face was flushed a deep rose colour, evidently the blood had flowed too much to his head thanks to his uncomfortable-looking position. In one hand he still clutched a glass, now empty, the contents having spilled over the front of the doctor's usually pristine uniform.

Garak could scarcely believe his eyes. What had happened here? Why had Bashir chosen to get blindingly drunk in O'Brien's company instead of keeping his dinner date with the tailor? Well, that would have to be a question for later. All that concerned Garak now was getting the doctor out of this room and back to his own quarters - hopefully whilst being seen by as few people as possible. With an exasperated sigh the tailor prised the glass from Bashir's fingers and set it down on the nearby table. Then, as carefully as he could manage, he manoeuvred the doctor into an upright position. Bashir finally began to stir as Garak hauled him unceremoniously to his feet.

"Wha'?" asked the young man drunkenly, peering at Garak out of bleary eyes.

"Ah, doctor, so you're back with us are you?" murmured the Cardassian soothingly. "Do you think you can walk?" Bashir blinked at him owlishly for a moment before nodding with exaggerated care.

"Where's the chief?" he asked concernedly as Garak began to steer him towards the door.

"Mr O'Brien is sleeping peacefully and I suggest we leave him be," said the tailor firmly. It was the literal truth as the chief of operations still lay on the floor in his alcohol-induced slumber, quite oblivious to the presence of his uninvited guest. O'Brien would be fine the Cardassian told himself, and if he had a hangover in the morning he would only have himself to blame. Right now the doctor was Garak's main concern.

"S'all right then," Bashir said with a tipsy smile, finally allowing Garak to lead him from the room. As the pair made their unsteady way along the corridor the tailor tried to work out what in the world could have induced Doctor Bashir to get into his current state.

Garak managed to get the doctor back to his own quarters without mishap. The walk seemed to do the young man some good too as he gradually leaned a little less on the Cardassian for support and was capable of opening the door to his rooms himself. Nevertheless he allowed Garak to steer him into his bedroom and sit him down on the edge of the bed.

"How do you feel, doctor?" asked the tailor, his concern still evident in his tone.

"'M fine," said Bashir with a vague wave of his hand.

"Whatever possessed you to drink so much - and real alcohol too?" Garak frowned at his own question - he sounded like a parent scolding an errant child. It really wasn't any of his business what Bashir chose to do. The doctor's expression meanwhile had become positively lugubrious.

"She didn't want to know me - she walked right past me," said Bashir by way of explanation. "She must really hate me..." he added, his words trailing off into melancholy silence. Garak looked momentarily puzzled and then suddenly realised who the doctor must be talking about.

"You mean Doctor Lense does?" enquired the tailor, testing out his theory. So, a successful reunion between the fellow students hadn't been the cause of his being stood up it seemed - quite the contrary in fact. But then the question still remained, why hadn't Bashir come to him to talk about it? Why did he turn to O'Brien? "Why would she hate you, doctor?" continued the Cardassian, trying not to let his pique show.

"Don't know," said Bashir forlornly, his shoulders drooping. In spite of himself Garak found his heart going out to the befuddled young man. He reached out a comforting hand and laid it gently on the doctor's shoulder.

"I'm sure she doesn't really hate you, doctor. It's probably all a simple misunderstanding," said Garak reassuringly. Bashir shook his head emphatically.

"No - she does. The chief said so," he insisted. "He said everyone does - or else they love me - but you don't walk straight past someone you love, do you..." Bashir's voice trailed off and he frowned for a moment in intense concentration. "D'you know, Garak," he continued expansively, enunciating every word with great precision, "the chief, he said... D'you know what he said?"

"No, doctor, I'm afraid I don't," replied Garak patiently. The doctor really was still most inebriated. He headed for the replicator and ordered up the most effective Cardassian remedy he knew for counteracting the effects of alcohol - one he'd had occasion to use himself a few times. When the glass materialised Garak carried it across to the young man.

"Well, I'll tell you then, shall I, Garak?" said Bashir happily, his recent maudlin mood evaporating as suddenly as it had begun. The tailor nodded his agreement as he held out the hangover cure. The doctor accepted it without question and downed it in one go before continuing. "He said he - he doesn't hate me any more. Isn't that nice? Don't you think that's nice, Garak?" Bashir aimed an unsteady smile at the Cardassian and waved the empty glass under his nose to reinforce the sentiment. Garak hurriedly retrieved it from the doctor's lax grasp before it could end up on the floor.

"Oh, quite charming, doctor," he agreed dutifully, not really having a clue what to make of the comment. "But now I think you really ought to get out of this damp uniform and into bed. You look like you could use some sleep." Bashir glanced down at the stains on his uniform as if seeing them for the first time.

"It's wet," he said with an exaggeratedly puzzled frown.

"That's right, doctor," said Garak gently, "and that's why you should take it off. Here, let me help you." Bashir didn't resist as the tailor began to fuss over him, removing his boots and starting to unfasten the coverall. The young man stared down at Garak's bent head thoughtfully and his next words came as something of a shock to the Cardassian.
"You don't hate me do you, Garak? I - I think you love me, don't you?" he asked in a small voice. The tailor froze, his heart lurching in his chest. Where in the world had that come from? He drew back until he could see Bashir's face. The doctor's lips were curved in a sweet smile and his eyes, still somewhat unfocused, held an expression of such hopefulness that Garak could barely speak. Julian and Garak

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"Of course I do, doctor," he replied lightly, soothingly, not trusting himself to say more. He reached up and smoothed back a stray lock of Bashir's ruffled hair gently with a hand that trembled betrayingly. Oh God... The doctor looked heartbreakingly beautiful, sitting there so trustingly... With an effort Garak pulled himself together. No - he mustn't take advantage of Bashir - especially not while he was in such a vulnerable state. He obviously had no idea what he was saying.

As dispassionately as he could Garak swiftly resumed his task of undressing the doctor, pulling the coverall from Bashir's shoulders and then lifting him just enough so that he could slide it down over his hips. The tailor knelt to remove the uniform completely and abruptly realised he was nursing an unexpected, and most inconvenient, erection. Damn it! Garak cursed himself silently for his foolishness. He did his utmost to ignore the ache between his thighs as he straightened up carefully, keeping his body turned away from Bashir's gaze as best he could.

It wasn't Garak's fault that the doctor shifted position just as he leaned forward and pulled the lavender turtle neck over the young man's head. Consequently Bashir's arm came firmly into contact with the growing hardness at the tailor's groin. In spite of his best efforts Garak couldn't suppress the involuntary groan which rose to his lips at that touch. The doctor's expressive eyes widened in surprise and he began to sober up very quickly indeed as he recognised the Cardassian's predicament.

"Garak? What...?" he asked in a small, disbelieving voice.

"Hush, doctor, don't mind me. Let's get you settled," said Garak briskly, turning away to pull back the sheets and hoping desperately that Bashir would simply let the matter drop. He should have known better. The doctor had absolutely no intention of doing so. He doggedly resisted the tailor's attempts to get him to lie down, instead reaching out to take hold of Garak's arm and pull him back round to face him. There was no longer any hope for the Cardassian of hiding just how aroused he was. His erection pushed firmly at the front of his trousers, creating an unmistakeable bulge, even through the thick fabric.

"You - have an erection, Garak," said Bashir haltingly. He wrapped his arms tightly around his smooth, bare chest and looked up at the tailor, his hazel eyes wide and pleading. "I - do you... do you really love me, Garak? I - don't mean just as a friend, but... Please tell me the truth." After a long moment - faced with those beautiful, soulful eyes how could he lie - the tailor nodded.

"Yes, doctor, I do," he admitted slowly.

"I did wonder; sometimes, when it seemed as if you were - well, flirting with me..." murmured Bashir.

"I was," said Garak, ducking his head in embarrassment. It appeared he'd been a little too subtle in his advances for his own good. "I simply didn't wish to offend you by approaching you more directly, doctor." The Cardassian was abruptly very conscious of the way Bashir kept glancing at his bulging crotch.

"Oh, Garak, I'm not offended," sighed the young man. "If anything I'm flattered. Right now I - I need to know that someone loves me."

"Did you really need to get so drunk to find that out?" asked Garak a little stiffly. Bashir shrugged helplessly.

"When Elizabeth Lense just walked right past me I felt so - worthless somehow," admitted Bashir. "I didn't want to feel like that. So when the chief suggested I went back to his quarters and had a drink with him it seemed like a good way to blot everything out. Then I just - forgot I was supposed to have dinner with you. I'm sorry."

"If you had come to dinner with me as planned," said Garak softly, "I could have found other, more pleasant ways to take your mind off your troubles." Bashir gave a slight smile.

"I didn't know that then..."

"You know now..." Garak let his words trail off suggestively.

"Yes, I do. I - Garak, will you stay with me tonight?" asked Bashir with a diffidence he really didn't feel. "I - I'd rather not be on my own and it would be nice - to be with someone who really loves me. It - seems to have been a long time..." Still seated on the edge of the bed, the doctor held out his arms to the Cardassian invitingly. Garak hesitated just a moment longer.

"Doctor, you are sure this is what you want, aren't you? It isn't just the drink talking?" he asked intently. Bashir smiled at him warmly.

"Not having second thoughts yourself are you, Garak?" he asked lightly. The Cardassian shook his head emphatically. "Well then, believe me when I say that this is just Julian talking and he's quite sure that he wants you to share his bed tonight," Bashir assured him, looking up through the veil of his dark, silky lashes.

Garak felt his resolve crumbling. Two short steps took him into the doctor's outstretched arms and a second later the tailor felt their wiry strength wrap firmly around his waist, pulling him closer. Giving in to the inevitable Garak brought his own arms up to encircle Bashir's shoulders protectively. He bent to brush his lips lightly against the doctor's soft, brown curls, feeling the slight tremor which ran through the young man's body at the touch. An answering shiver of sensation trembled through Garak's stockier frame as Bashir turned his cheek, pressing it firmly against the smooth swell of the tailor's erection.

"Thank you, Julian," Garak whispered huskily, "and I promise to leave you in no doubt at all as to just how much you are loved, my dearest doctor."

Julian's eyes closed and he swallowed hard, taken aback by the intensity in the tailor's voice. The words left him in little doubt as to just what he had committed himself to by asking Garak to stay with him, and he had to admit he was nervous about that prospect. He was quite certain that the tailor was a good deal more experienced than he was when it came to making love to another man. Fantasies were all very well, Julian reflected, but at a moment like this no substitute for the real thing. This was what he wanted - the doctor knew he hadn't lied about that - but he doubted his ability to give back to Garak what the Cardassian so obviously wanted to give to him.

Carefully Julian shifted his position a little, his cheek brushing against Garak's erection again as he moved. He felt the swollen sex strain against the fabric of the tailor's trousers. That really couldn't be comfortable for him... Without another thought for what his actions implied the doctor drew back and began to fumble a little clumsily with the fastening at Garak's waistband. As the tailor realised what Julian was trying to do his own hands dropped down to help him. The combined efforts of the two men had Garak naked from the waist down in a matter of moments.

The spicy scent of the Cardassian's arousal teased Julian's nostrils. It was somehow exotic, intoxicating, and the young man suddenly found himself imagining just what it would feel like to allow Garak to worship his body as he so manifestly wished to. The doctor permitted himself to stare in frank admiration at the tailor's impressive sex with its grey, textured skin that looked like the finest leather - is that how it would feel to his touch? The Cardassian stood, utterly still under the young man's scrutiny, watching the play of emotions over his expressive features.

Julian ran the tip of his tongue lightly over his dry lips, acutely aware of the stirring at his own groin. Yes - he wanted this every bit as much as Garak did. Why had it taken him so long to admit that? Why had it needed a rejection by a ghost from his past to make him acknowledge the possibilities he had here and now? All this time Garak had wanted him, loved him, and said nothing, simply sending out his subtle signals from time to time - signals Julian had blithely dismissed as being in his imagination. The doctor wondered briefly why the Cardassian hadn't said anything more openly. Then he recalled Garak's earlier words. The tailor had said he hadn't wished to offend him. Obviously he had been unsure how Julian would react to the suggestion of a physical relationship with another man - a Cardassian man at that. Evidently Garak had decided that their shared friendship was too important to him to risk losing should the doctor's reaction to such a suggestion be strongly negative.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave! Julian looked up, meeting Garak's clear, blue eyes and reading the question in them.

"I'm sorry, Garak. I was only thinking - wondering why it took me this long to understand what you felt for me." The young man smiled a little self-consciously.

"And what you feel for me too?" asked the Cardassian softly, his gaze dropping to Julian's lap and the hardness still contained by the doctor's briefs. The young man's eyes followed the same path as the tailor's. He gave a self-deprecating laugh.

"I could hardly deny what I'm feeling now, could I, Garak? The evidence is rather damning."

On an impulse the Cardassian dropped to his knees before Julian. Reaching out he encouraged the doctor to rise just enough to divest him of the confining briefs. Freed from the prisoning material Julian's smooth hardness unfurled and Garak took it gently into his hands, exploring its unfamiliar contours.

"Ah, my beautiful Julian..." he breathed. The soft touch almost took the doctor's breath away. It hadn't occurred to him to expect such tenderness from Garak. The Cardassian bowed his head and Julian realised what he intended only a bare moment before the hot, moist mouth closed around the aching length of his erection. He gasped at the unexpectedly intense sensations, his hands closing convulsively on the tailor's shoulders. Garak promptly shuddered and drew back, looking up at Julian imploringly.

"Garak, what did I do?" asked the doctor anxiously. "Did I hurt you?"

"Not at all," Garak assured him, "I only wondered if you might remove my jacket for me. I should like to feel your touch - properly..." It took another moment for Julian to understand what had transpired. All unknowing he had caught hold of the ornate ridges running down the tailor's neck to his shoulders and evidently they were somewhat sensitive - perhaps an erogenous zone even! As he moved to comply with Garak's request the doctor felt himself blush. He simply hadn't realised - and what about the other ornamentation on Garak's body...?

The tailor meanwhile looked more than a little relieved to be completely free of his clothing at last. Glancing at the doctor Garak registered the heightened colour in his cheeks, the speculative look in his hazel eyes. A faintly amused smile curved his lips.

"Yes, Julian, I know what you're wondering," he said, the smile broadening at the doctor's guilty start, "all of the ridges on my face and my body are sensitive to touch - especially when I'm aroused. You need have no fears about hurting me though if you do wish to touch them; a firm hand is preferable actually. Now, I believe you found this pleasurable..."

Garak bent to resume his gentle stimulation of Julian's erection, finding that it was now even harder and longer than when he had begun. He drew his tongue in lazy strokes along its smooth length, working from the base to the delicate, rose-coloured head. Ah, Julian, you taste so delightful. I have never known anything so beautiful...

Taking heed of Garak's words the doctor had once more taken hold of the Cardassian's neck ridges, working his way along them with firm pressure from his agile fingers. Julian had always assumed the ornamented ridges would be hard and unyielding, but as he massaged them he found them surprisingly pliable. He tried his best to concentrate on giving the tailor as much pleasure from his touch as he could, but he found it increasingly difficult as Garak wreaked havoc on his senses with his skilful attentions to Julian's erection.

For the first time in a very long while Garak knew himself to be happy. He had wanted this for so long that he could barely believe it was truly happening, but the sensations were so immediate, so real, that he knew this could not be fantasy. The warm, living flesh between his lips pulsed as he sucked at it gently and Julian's delightfully musky, masculine scent filled his nostrils. The unfamiliar feeling of coarse, dark curls tickling his face as he bent to his task was enchanting to the tailor. Cardassians had no body hair and this difference in the young human fascinated him - he wanted to explore all the different textures as soon as he could.

Garak brought his hands up to caress Julian's balls, massaging them lightly. The doctor moaned softly at the enticing touch and began thrusting gently with his hips. He gripped the Cardassian's neck ridges harder, wanting Garak to share something of the pleasure he was feeling. His efforts drove the tailor to increase the pressure of his mouth on Julian's sex, taking it in deeper against the back of his throat. The young man's response was immediate and vocal. He cried out his delight and encouraged Garak further with a stream of incoherent entreaties and endearments. The beautiful voice rose and fell in counterpoint to the now near-frantic movements of the doctor's hips. The tailor exulted in the knowledge that Julian would trust him enough to lose control like this. Oh, my dearest Julian, what a gift you are giving me...

With one final cry the doctor reached his peak. He held onto Garak as if he would never let him go as the waves of pleasure emanating from his groin cascaded over him. The Cardassian felt the young human's body convulse as he came. He welcomed the salty-tasting liquid which filled his mouth as Julian rode the intense sensations of his climax. Garak savoured the unfamiliar taste as he swallowed, knowing the moment of perfect closeness was almost over. Strangely, his own unsatisfied erection was of secondary importance to him. All that mattered was cosseting Julian as he came down from the peak. The Cardassian couldn't recall ever having such tender feelings towards another before. How strange to find himself experiencing them now with this young man.

Garak got up from his place at Julian's feet, moving to sit beside him on the bed. He cradled the doctor's slender body in his arms, delighting in the way the human snuggled into his embrace with a contented sigh.

"Oh, Garak, that was wonderful," breathed Julian. The clear, hazel eyes regarded the tailor with open affection.

"I wanted only to show you that you are truly loved, my dearest Julian," replied Garak seriously.

"Now I wonder how I could ever have doubted that," said Julian softly. His gaze dropped and he gave a sudden, startled gasp as he noticed Garak's still unsatisfied state. "Oh, Garak, how could I be so selfish! You should have told me that I wasn't pleasing you."

"It's of no matter," insisted the tailor.

"Of course it matters, Garak. What kind of a lover am I if I take my own pleasure and give no consideration to yours? Or is lovemaking so different between Cardassians?" Julian seemed quite disturbed by the notion. "Tell me what would please you, Garak." The Cardassian gave a wry smile.

"I fear you would not want what would most please me, Julian," he said hesitantly. The young man understood without further explanation what the tailor was not quite asking of him. Julian felt his heart hammering as he considered the prospect. None of his admittedly few medical school encounters had ever progressed that far, but did he really want to refuse Garak? The idea of opening himself to the tailor was not without its appeal.

"Garak, I've never..." Julian's attempted admission trailed off into embarrassed silence and the doctor gestured helplessly with his long-fingered hands.

"Of course, I understand," said Garak at once. "Your hands or your mouth would serve very well..."

"No. No they wouldn't," interrupted Julian. "I didn't say I didn't want it - only that I never have before." A sudden, lop-sided smile lit the young man's face. "Surely you can forgive a few first time nerves," he observed self-deprecatingly.

"I would never do anything to hurt you, Julian. You know that, don't you?" The intensity of Garak's words surprised the young doctor. He nodded quickly.

"You've already proved how much you care for me, Garak. I want to share this with you," said Julian emphatically.

"Then let us make you comfortable, my dear Julian," murmured Garak. He fussed over the slender human, heaping up the pillows and settling him across them. Julian let himself relax as the tailor caressed him soothingly. "Ah, I nearly forgot..." Garak got up and moved over to the replicator, requesting something in a low voice. As he resumed his place Julian glanced back over his shoulder in silent question. Garak held up a small tube for his inspection and the doctor nodded in understanding. Yes, the Cardassian would most certainly need to use a lubricant.

With gentle hands Garak set about preparing Julian. He stroked the silky, smooth skin of the doctor's buttocks, feeling the last of the tension in his muscles draining away. The young man had settled with his head cushioned on his folded arms. His eyelids slowly closed, the long, dark lashes brushing his cheeks as he relaxed. A soft sigh escaped him as Garak's warm, capable hands drifted over his backside and by the time one gentle finger, slick with lubricant, slid inside him it seemed to Julian as if he had never wanted anything else in his life.

Garak felt how readily the doctor's body opened to him and his heart filled with a fierce joy. Julian wanted him! The tailor withdrew his finger and swiftly coated the aching length of his erection with lubricant. Carefully he pushed more of the slick stuff into Julian before positioning himself behind the young man, kneeling between his legs. Leaning forward he teased the pliant opening with the head of his sex, pressing gently.

"Are you ready, Julian?" he asked tenderly. "If I hurt you at all tell me and I'll stop."

"I'm ready, Garak," said Julian dreamily, "and trust me, I want this as much as you do. I know you won't hurt me if you can possibly avoid it." The encouraging words were all the incentive the tailor needed. With a soft cry he pushed forward steadily, slowly entering the tight warmth of Julian's body. The young doctor gasped at the unfamiliar sensation of being penetrated. The lubricant eased Garak's way and in only a few moments his smooth belly rested against the gentle curves of Julian's buttocks.

The tailor stretched forward, covering the young man's slender body with his own stockier frame. Then he paused, content for the moment simply to absorb the wonderful feeling of being inside his beloved Julian. He rested his cheek against the doctor's silken curls and breathed deeply of the warm, human scent. Under him Julian stirred restlessly.

"Garak...?" he murmured questioningly. "Is something wrong?" Garak laughed softly.

"Oh no, nothing is wrong - quite the contrary in fact," he added breathlessly. "I'm simply taking the time to enjoy all the sensations this moment affords. My dearest Julian, you are too impatient. Good lovemaking is like a good meal. It should be savoured slowly, appreciated. Ah, but then you are somewhat given to rushing your meals as well, are you not?" Julian realised that he was being teased, albeit affectionately, and chuckled delightedly. He decided to respond in kind.

"So, Garak, if this is to be like one of our lunches maybe we should choose an appropriate literary topic to discuss," he observed lightly, all the while acutely aware of the heat of the Cardassian's skin against his own, the weight of the sturdy body atop him. "We could consider the relative merits of human and Cardassian love poetry perhaps..."

Garak's heart sang. Julian had managed to exceed all his expectations. The young man's nervousness seemed to have vanished completely and he was relaxed and ready to enjoy the pleasures the tailor wished to share with him. Slowly Garak began to move inside his lover, only small movements that nevertheless elicited an exclamation of enjoyment from Julian. Encouraged, Garak began to thrust more forcefully, drawing further out of the doctor's body before sliding back into the warm, sweet depths. The young human moaned with wordless delight, thrusting back instinctively against the weight of the Cardassian's body.

With a heartfelt cry of pleasure Garak lost himself in the experience of making love to his Julian. Not quite the kind of poetry you had in mind, my dearest Julian, but no less beautiful... He bent his head, trailing kisses and gentle bites across the doctor's smooth, golden-skinned shoulders and along the sweet curve of his neck. The young man cried out his appreciation of Garak's actions, his voice husky with emotion.

The tailor knew himself to be close to his release, but he wanted to share the moment fully with his lover. Rolling onto his side, bringing Julian over with him Garak gathered the doctor tightly in his arms. Reaching down he found the human's sex already hard again. He curved one large, grey hand around the smooth length of it, pumping steadily. Julian moaned more intensely, his own hands drifting down to cover Garak's as it held the swollen member. With one last, firm thrust the Cardassian came, emptying himself deep into the doctor's body. Before his tremors had subsided he felt Julian tense, pulsing in his hand, the creamy liquid spilling over his own and the doctor's entwined fingers. At the same time tight muscles clasped at Garak's own organ, wringing one final, explosive shudder of pleasure from him before exhaustion took over and he relaxed bonelessly, Julian's equally spent body lax within his encircling arms.

It was some minutes before Julian roused himself sufficiently to roll over until he was facing Garak, the Cardassian's arms still held loosely around him. Contented blue eyes regarded him drowsily from under heavy lids - Garak was on the verge of sleep. With a tender smile Julian pressed a gentle kiss on the tailor's forehead. To think that such a short time ago he had felt totally worthless, unloved, and now...

"You kept your promise, Garak. Thank you," whispered the doctor. Garak's brow furrowed as his tired brain tried to make sense of Julian's comment.

"I don't understand..." he began. The doctor kissed him silent, his full lips gently tasting the Cardassian's mouth.

"When I asked you to stay with me tonight you promised that you would leave me in no doubt as to how much I was loved," explained Julian as he drew back from the kiss. His smile broadened. "You were right. I don't have any doubts about that now, and that's a very precious gift you've given me." The doctor cuddled closer to Garak, sliding his arms around the reassuringly warm bulk of the Cardassian's body as he drifted towards sleep.

"Will you promise me one thing," asked Garak seriously.

"Name it..." breathed Julian.

"Next time you are in need of company or a shoulder to cry on come to me first, not Mr O'Brien," implored the tailor. "My remedy for such troubles is much more pleasing than his, for both parties, don't you think? And it won't leave you with a hangover in the morning," he added slyly. Julian laughed softly as Garak had intended he should.

"I promise," he declared with mock solemnity.

"Thank you, now good night," murmured Garak indistinctly as sleep finally overtook him. "I love you, Julian Bashir." Julian gazed fondly at the Cardassian's peaceful face, knowing the tailor would not hear the words he was about to say, but wanting to acknowledge the truth of them, at least to himself, by speaking them aloud.

"And I love you, Elim Garak. Good night."

THE END

The artwork is copyright BGM and originally appeared in "Doctor, Tailor, Officer, Spy 2"

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