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 February 1996.

Author's note: No! I didn't know about Garak's claustrophobia when I wrote this story! :-)

JUST ONE OF LIFE'S LITTLE UPS AND DOWNS

by Karen Colohan

It had been a pleasant meal. Julian Bashir had shared supper with his Cardassian friend Garak this evening as their scheduled lunch had been disrupted by a medical emergency. Now they stood together on the Promenade, chatting casually as they waited for the turbolift which would whisk them away to their respective quarters in the habitat ring. It arrived and they stepped inside still trading comments and snatches of gossip. In all respects it was a quiet and unexceptional end to a pleasant evening.

It seemed set fair to remain that way too until with breathtaking suddenness the lift lurched under their feet, grinding to a halt as the lights went out.

"What the...?" Julian protested indignantly from out of the inky blackness which now pervaded the turbolift. He fumbled for his combadge. "Bashir to Ops!" Only silence greeted his words. He tried again - and once more, but the comm. lines remained resolutely dead.

"What do you think has happened, doctor?" enquired Garak calmly from the far side of the turbolift.

"I have no idea," admitted Julian, "but if lights, turbolifts and communications are down then something has obviously affected quite a few of the station's systems. Maybe main power is out." At that moment the faint glow of the emergency lighting appeared and Julian and Garak were each able to make out the shadowy shape of the other in the gloom.

"Well, at least that's something of an improvement," observed Garak drily.

"Not much though," said Julian, vainly trying his combadge once more. "I still can't raise Ops so it looks like we're stuck here for the duration."

The doctor looked about him in irritation. He took a moment to study the turbolift's emergency overrides, but with no power to them they were quite useless. He briefly considered trying to force the doors open manually, but decided against it as there was no way of telling where the lift was in relation to the floor levels. He had no desire to tumble down a lift shaft to his death in pitch darkness! He swore softly to himself under his breath - yes, they were well and truly stuck until Chief O'Brien got on the case and figured out what the problem was. Surely it wouldn't take too long...

Garak watched the doctor with barely concealed amusement. The young man was so impatient! If they were trapped for a while so be it. It was pointless fretting over something they couldn't change and there really didn't seem to be any danger.

"I suggest you sit down and make yourself as comfortable as you can, doctor," said Garak equably. "Who knows how long we might have to wait?"

"Oh, I suppose you're right, Garak, but it's so frustrating. And this really is getting beyond a joke," muttered Julian, quite obviously annoyed. "It's only a few weeks since Jadzia and I were trapped on the Defiant too. Why me?"

"Ah, I'd forgotten that." Garak nodded understandingly. "I'm sorry if the company is not so attractive this time," he added self deprecatingly. "Still I'm sure we won't be here for too long."

Nearly an hour later Garak was beginning to concede that perhaps he had been a trifle over optimistic. There was still no communication with Ops and no sign of the power coming back on. It was also becoming exceedingly cold in the turbolift.

Julian glanced across at his companion who was sitting with his head tilted back against the opposite wall. Conversation had been sporadic at best for the past fifteen minutes and now the doctor noticed that the Cardassian was shivering, steady tremors running through the stocky frame.

"Are you all right, Garak?" he asked, his voice sharp with concern.

"I'm fine, doctor," the tailor assured him. Julian remained unconvinced, studying the Cardassian narrowly.

"No you're not - you're shivering," said Julian, leaning forward to touch one of Garak's hands lightly with his own. It was icy. The doctor raised an eyebrow as if daring the other to refute the evidence.

"Well it is a little cold in here in case you hadn't noticed," countered Garak acerbically.

"If you were getting too cold why didn't you say something?" asked Julian in exasperation. "Damn you and your Cardassian stubborness! It's going to affect you more because your body is accustomed to a higher ambient temperature in the first place."

"It seemed pointless complaining about something neither of us can do anything about," said the tailor stiffly.

"Well we could at least share what warmth we do have," insisted the doctor firmly, climbing to his feet.

"What do you have in mind?" asked Garak warily as Julian settled himself beside him.

"Just this," said Julian simply as he snuggled in close to the Cardassian's side and snaked an arm around his waist. "I seem to be making something of a habit of it lately..." He missed the faint tensing of Garak's muscles as the tailor reacted with surprise to Julian's sudden closeness. "Any better yet?" enquired the doctor.

"Why yes, thank you, doctor. It really is most kind of you," replied Garak lightly. Slowly he allowed himself to relax and the two men lapsed once more into a companionable silence.

It was now around an hour and a half since the turbolift had stopped. There was still no indication that anyone even knew that Julian and Garak were trapped. In the silence and gloom they had managed to doze a little, but now Julian returned to full wakefulness. While he slept Garak had huddled even closer to him for warmth the doctor noticed. As Julian cautiously tried to ease his cramped muscles without disturbing the tailor too much he also noticed something else - he had the definite beginnings of an erection.

Oh God... Julian felt a flush of embarrassment sweep over him. That was all he needed to make matters even worse than they already were. What the hell would Garak think if he woke up and noticed? Of course, the doctor told himself, it was just an instinctive reaction to having another body pressed so closely against him. His hormones simply weren't making any distinctions... Damn!

Now that his mind was focussed on the problem Julian realised he was getting even harder. He was so conscious of Garak's living weight plastered against his side... He shifted position again - and again, trying to ease his growing discomfort. Julian's fidgeting finally disturbed Garak who drew away a little, straightening up. He regarded the doctor with faint amusement.

"This isn't where you tell me you're actually claustrophobic is it, doctor?" teased the tailor.

"No, of course I'm not!" snorted Julian indignantly.

"Then why are you so restless all of a sudden?" asked Garak. "Is something else the matter?" Julian opened his mouth to speak, but shut it again abruptly. How could he tell Garak what the real problem was? A problem that was still getting bigger all the time...

The Cardassian now looked at his uncommunicative companion with some concern. It wasn't like the doctor to clam up in this way. Perhaps there was something seriously wrong. As he studied Julian more closely Garak noticed that the young man's face had reddened as if he were too warm. How curious. It still felt cold in the turbolift to the tailor.

"Doctor, are you quite sure you're all right?" persisted Garak. "You look - flushed."

"No I'm not," Julian contradicted hurriedly. "It's just a trick of the emergency lighting."

"I don't think so, doctor," said Garak, leaning in a little closer. As he did he also registered just how much heat was radiating from the doctor's slender frame. "And you seem to be very - hot all of a sudden."

"Garak, please will you just shut up," gritted out Julian. Why wouldn't the tailor just let it drop? "You're imagining it. It's nothing." By now Julian was trying desperately to think of anything - the senior officers' physicals, his latest batch of tissue samples, the Infirmary's maintenance problems - whatever it took to distract him from how hard he was getting as Garak pressed in even closer in his concern for his companion.

"Perhaps I should loosen your uniform..." As Garak reached out a hand to do so Julian leapt up like a startled rabbit, retreating across to the other side of the turbolift as fast as he could. If he let Garak touch him he'd come right there and then...

The flurry of movement gave the Cardassian a sudden, unobstructed view of Julian's crotch. Garak's eyeridges rose knowingly as the faint glow of the emergency lighting cast shadows highlighting clearly exactly what was causing the doctor's embarrassment.

"Ah... so that's the problem," said Garak kindly, wondering why in the world the young man had been so secretive about it. Were humans really that repressed about such matters? "Why didn't you just say so, doctor? It would have been much simpler and I assure you I wouldn't have been in the slightest offended."

"There's no problem, Garak," Julian ground out obstinately. "I don't know what you mean. I - I... it's just..."

"You have an erection and you're embarrassed by it," finished Garak calmly.

"Garak!"

"Well, it's the truth, isn't it?"

"Yes!" Julian hissed through gritted teeth, finally giving in to the inevitable. He knew Garak well enough to be perfectly aware that the Cardassian wouldn't let the matter drop until the doctor admitted the truth of his predicament. "Now, can we please just stop talking about it! It isn't helping."

Silence descended again as Julian leaned his head back against the cool wall of the turbolift and willed his body to come back under control. It didn't work. He was still far too aware of the hovering presence of Garak just a few feet away from him. Every fantasy he'd ever had about the tailor came back to haunt him. In desperation he tapped his combadge once more - still no reply. He heard Garak sigh, but refused to look at him.

"Sit down, doctor," said Garak softly.

"No - I can't." Julian's tone betrayed the strain he was feeling.

"Ah, of course," said Garak apologetically, "your little problem is..."

"Garak, this isn't funny!"

"You could always do something about it."

"What?" Julian's voice rose noticeably in pitch. "What exactly are you suggesting?"

"Well, what do you usually do to - relieve your frustration?" enquired Garak delicately. Julian couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. Did Garak seriously expect him to...? The doctor flushed an even deeper shade of red.

"I can't do that," he protested weakly. "Not in front of you!"

"Why ever not?" asked Garak. He sounded genuinely surprised. Were Cardassians really that much more open about their sexuality? Julian couldn't help but wonder. "I won't be offended, doctor," the tailor added. "I'll even look the other way if it will make it easier for you." By now Julian's situation was becoming desperate. His poor constricted member ached terribly and he was prepared to consider almost anything.

"Do you really mean that, about turning your back...?" he asked hopefully.

"Of course, doctor." Garak turned away, settling himself facing the opposite wall.

Julian watched him for a long moment and then gave in. Quickly he unzipped his uniform, sliding the coverall off his shoulders and down to his knees. More carefully he drew his briefs down, releasing his aching erection. Julian couldn't contain the groan of relief that escaped his lips as the uncomfortable pressure on his most tender parts was finally relieved.

Across the lift Garak tensed fractionally as the unfamiliar but exotic scent of the human's arousal teased his nostrils. It really was the most delightful fragrance. He had never been more aware of the doctor's presence - or of his own fleeting fantasies regarding the young man. Ah! Garak felt the sudden tightness in his own groin. This could be more trying than he had anticipated.

Julian leaned languidly against the turbolift wall. One hand stole down to his crotch, taking hold of his rigid sex and beginning to stroke it slowly. Oh yes! Another soft moan escaped him. God, Julian my lad, that feels soooo good... All thoughts of Garak's intrusive presence fled from his mind. All that mattered was how delicious the rhythmic stroking felt. He had quite a talent for this if he did say so himself! Never quiet during sex Julian's soft, wordless exclamations filled the lift...

Those sounds were rapidly driving Garak wild! His own erection now pressed firmly against the thick fabric of his trousers. Finally, unable to resist the temptation any longer he turned around. He was greeted by the highly appealing sight of Julian's slender, half naked body. The emergency lighting cast wonderful shadows on the smooth, caramel skin of his slim hips and long, delicately muscled thighs. The doctor's eyes were closed and his head was tossed back against the wall in abandonment as he stroked himself enthusiastically. Garak simply couldn't help it - he groaned aloud as his body's reaction intensified. Julian's eyes flew open at once, the mood shattered, and he flushed scarlet as he met the tailor's frankly lust-filled gaze.

"Garak!" he cried reproachfully, unsure if he were more angry or embarrassed. "You said you wouldn't look!"

"I'm sorry, doctor," said Garak contritely, "but you see I have a - slight problem myself."

"Now what?" asked Julian, irritated. Garak climbed to his feet and the doctor could immediately see what the Cardassian was referring to. "Oh..." he managed weakly.

A long silence fell between the two men as the Cardassian's cornflower eyes caught and held the hazel ones of the human doctor. Unspoken questions were asked and answered. Never taking his eyes from Garak's face Julian stooped to find his combadge - tapping it produced the same lack of response as before. The doctor's gaze became more speculative as he straightened up again. Garak matched him stare for stare.

Deliberately Julian kicked free of his boots and the puddle of clothing around his ankles. With a decisive gesture he yanked his turtleneck over his head and dropped it on the floor with the rest. Now quite naked Julian advanced on the waiting tailor.

"Why are we fighting the inevitable?" he murmured as his hands reached out, seeking the fastenings of Garak's clothing.

"Why indeed?" agreed the Cardassian, breathing hard as he quickly moved to help the doctor strip the garments away from his sturdy body.

In a matter of moments Garak was as naked as Julian and his powerful arms were pulling the doctor firmly against the sharply defined muscles of his grey, leathery chest. Julian no longer had any thoughts of resisting - he was too close! He was also perfectly aware that Garak was as close to the brink as himself. This wasn't going to be a time for a slow, teasing climb to pleasure - a more direct path to their release was what they both craved. Their rigid erections bumped together, sending electric jolts of sensation through them both and a groan escaped each throat. It was too difficult to remain standing... Julian felt his knees buckle and he slid gracelesly down the wall, pulling Garak with him.

The doctor rolled as his backside landed on the floor, managing to end up on top of Garak with his hips thrusting wildly. The Cardassian tightened his grip on the slender form and thrust back with equal enthusiasm. He slid one capable hand between their restless bodies, wrapping strong fingers around Julian's sex and pulling firmly. The doctor moaned loudly and came, spilling his seed over Garak's hand. Quickly Julian reached down to return the compliment, teasing a wild climax from the Cardassian.

The two men slowly spiralled down from the heights, collapsing in a sticky, sweaty tangle of limbs. They certainly weren't cold now. After a moment or two of stillness and coming to terms with what they had just shared they snuggled comfortably close together again accepting the intimacy. Lazily they traded exploratory kisses and caresses.

"Well, that was rather unexpected," murmured Julian when his mouth was his own once more.

"But..." prompted Garak, eyeridges raised slightly in question. Julian smiled, knowing what the tailor was not quite asking.

"But -" Teasingly Julian prolonged the agony. " - most enjoyable," he concluded warmly. "I'm glad it happened."

Garak's lips turned up in a pleased smile at the implied compliment. His hands roamed over the doctor's smooth, sweat-damp skin. As his fingers strayed down to Julian's sex, exploring the texture, the shape, he realised it was hardening again under his questing touch.

"Well, well, doctor, what commendable enthusiasm," Garak whispered seductively, his lips brushing lightly against Julian's ear. He wrapped his fingers more tightly around the doctor's growing erection, enjoying the feel of the changing flesh in his grasp.

"I'm not the only one," countered Julian, teasing the tailor's own organ with an expert hand. There was no denying the way it too was lengthening, lifting.

"What do you suggest we do about it, doctor?"

"Oh, I know exactly what I'd like to do, Garak..."

Julian wriggled free of Garak's embrace, turning until he once again lay beside the tailor, but now facing the opposite direction. He slid down a little further until his face was mere inches from Garak's groin. His warm breath tickled the tailor's erect shaft and dark, hairless balls. Julian took another long moment to explore, appreciating the kid leather smoothness of the Cardassian's sex which was faintly wreathed with a pattern of scales. He leaned closer inhaling Garak's spicy, enticing scent. Then with great delicacy he closed his mouth over the waiting, trembling erection.

Garak gasped in delight at the new, though not entirely unexpected, sensation. For a few moments he simply lay there and enjoyed it, but the prospect of a mutual exploration was too exciting. With care Garak reached to cup one large hand around Julian's balls, squeezing gently. A muffled sound of contentment issued from the doctor. Encouraged the tailor wrapped his other hand round the base of Julian's firm shaft, steadying it. Experimentally he ran his tongue along the smooth flesh, savouring the taste. Delicately he licked the drops of moisture crowning the flared, rose-coloured head, watching as others appeared to take their place. Avid for more Garak took the waiting length into his mouth in a single, swift motion. He sucked carefully, not wanting to hurt Julian.

The doctor's composure very nearly deserted him completely. He released Garak's sex, breathing hard as every nerve in his body seemed to overload at once. It took Julian a long moment to recover sufficient presence of mind to renew his tender assault on the tailor's grey-skinned erection.

Each man delighted in the responsiveness of the other. They drew one another to the brink of orgasm and then tumbled over the edge into mutual bliss. When they finally drew apart enough to look at each other both their faces wore broad, satiated smiles. Garak reached down, pulling Julian round and back into his arms. He held the young man against his chest, feeling the pounding of his heart which only gradually slowed to a more normal pace. The doctor snuggled into the affectionate embrace with the air of a contented feline. The strength of the arms that enfolded him felt good. It was reassuring somehow.

Garak bent his head, seeking out Julian's lips with his own. The doctor allowed himself to be kissed thoroughly, opening his mouth to the tailor's questing tongue. It was strange, but also exciting, to savour his own salty taste on Garak's lips at the same time as the spicy flavour of the Cardassian's seed filled his own mouth. He wondered if Garak felt the beguiling strangeness of it too.

Well, this certainly wasn't how he had anticipated spending his evening when he left the Replimat with Garak reflected Julian. He had to admit it had turned out to be an enjoyable encounter though, fun... Idly he wondered if Garak might care to repeat the experience sometime. Caught up in his thoughts it took Julian a while to realise that the tailor was watching him, a quizzical expression on his face.

"I was, um - just thinking that it had turned out to be an interesting evening," said Julian by way of explanation.

"I've certainly discovered a whole new side to you I never suspected existed, my dear doctor," laughed Garak. Julian grinned back at him, enjoying the affectionate teasing. They settled more comfortably on the lift floor as tiredness began to take its toll on both of them. In minutes they were dozing fitfully, secure in one another's arms.

Out of the blue a voice filled the turbolift, commanding attention.

"Sisko to Bashir. Doctor can you hear me? Respond please."

Instantly Julian and Garak were awake, looking around in confusion as their passion fogged brains tried to make sense of the sudden noise. All the while the voice continued its insistent calling.

"My combadge!" cried Julian, suddenly realising the source of the voice which was now rapidly acquiring the cadences of extreme impatience. A few seconds of frantic scrabbling through the pile of discarded clothing revealed the combadge and Julian hurriedly responded to his superior officer.

"This is Bashir. Go ahead, sir."

"About time, doctor. What kept you?" rumbled Sisko irritably.

"Sorry, sir, I must have fallen asleep. What's been happening?" asked Julian curiously.

"It's a long story, doctor," replied Sisko with the air of one who has had a singularly trying time. "But the problems are almost solved and we'll be able to get you out of there in just a few minutes. Are you all right?"

"Yes, sir, I'm fine," said Julian trying with limited success to mask his rising panic as he realised how little time he and Garak had to restore themselves to some semblance of order. If Sisko or any of the others should see them like this... "Um, Garak is fine too," he added.

"Mr Garak was trapped with you?" queried Sisko in surprise. "I hadn't realised that. Well, you'll both be free very soon now. I'll meet you in the habitat ring, doctor. Sisko out."

The line closed and Julian and Garak scrambled to their feet, frantically grabbing for their clothing. The turbolift lurched under them and began to move. Fingers flew as the doctor and the tailor dragged on garments haphazardly, desperately searching for fastenings and trying to smooth out creases and wrinkles. As the lift came to a halt once more hands hurriedly smoothed down disordered hair and the two men exchanged a quick visual appraisal, nodding their approval of what they saw. When the doors glided open Julian and Garak were revealed standing a respectable distance apart and looking only faintly dishevelled.

They stepped cautiously out into the hallway to be greeted by Captain Sisko, Chief O'Brien and several technicians. Had they neglected any important details while dresing in such a rush? Was there anything else to betray how they had spent the past couple of hours? Did the faint scent of sex still cling to them perhaps? Julian and Garak glanced at one another and then at their welcoming committee. Sisko and the others stared back aware of a certain - atmosphere, but unable to work out precisely what it was they were missing.

"Are you two sure you're all right?" asked Sisko suspiciously, eyeing his officer's slightly disreputable state. Was it his imagination or did Doctor Bashir seem to be blushing?

"Yes, of course, sir, we're - fine. Just fine," stammered Julian. "It, ah - got a bit hot in the lift while it was stuck," he added, hoping the captain would accept that comment at face value. At the doctor's side Garak found he was fighting to keep a straight face. It really was so ridiculous. Julian was such a terrible liar! Sisko gave them a long hard stare and then nodded sharply, dismissing them.

Julian found it was an effort not to run away from the turbolift and his colleagues as fast as his long legs would carry him. With as much dignity as he could muster he headed in the direction of his quarters, Garak following close on his heels. Finally they rounded a corner and were out of earshot of the others. They stopped. Hazel eyes met blue, each reflecting an unmistakable sparkle. There was no denying how much they had both enjoyed their shared experience despite an unpromising start.

With sudden insight they also realised they were both on the verge of bursting out laughing. They had come so close to being discovered - and what would Captain Sisko have had to say then? It was too much. Laughter swept over both of them and they doubled up with undignified mirth like a pair of schoolchildren whose prank has gone undetected by the teacher.

"I don't know about you," said Julian when he was finally capable of speaking again, "but I need a shower after that." Garak nodded his agreement. "Would you care to join me then? I'll scrub your back if you'll do mine..."

The Cardassian's eyes widened almost imperceptibly. So, the good doctor had enjoyed their encounter enough to wish to repeat it... Garak's brain began to work furiously, wondering how he could turn this unexpected development in his friendship with the doctor to best advantage - planning how he could engage the young man's interest enough to keep him in his arms for a long time to come.

"What a kind invitation, doctor. Thank you, I'd be delighted to." A proprietary smile settled on the tailor's lips as he followed Julian along the corridor. A shower - Garak turned his mind to the possibilities that offered. Just what inventive things could he and Julian find to do in the doctor's shower? It would doubtless be fun finding out exactly what Julian had in mind...

THE END

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