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.

Author's notes: This story is set in the canon universe somewhere between the episodes "A Call to Arms" and "A Time to Stand".

WHAT IF?

by Karen Colohan (copyright October 1997)

'What's wrong with me? Here we are in the middle of a war and yet every time I'm off duty or have a few minutes to myself I find my thoughts turning to him. Surely I should be thinking about casualty reports and medical supplies, not blue eyes and neck ridges!

'I can't understand it; after all I've known him for five years - so why now? Actually, I suppose it does make sense. We've never been at such close quarters before, spending all this time in one another's company, day in day out. The Defiant doesn't exactly allow you to avoid someone! And then again, war does make you so very aware of your own mortality. It makes you realise how precious each day is when you don't know if you'll live to see the next one. Obviously it also sets you thinking about what you want out of your relationships with certain people...

'Still, it is becoming something of an embarrassment. It's been getting to the stage where every time I see him I want to put my arms around him, touch him... I suppose I just want to reassure myself that he's still alive and so am I and that it's not to late for us to... God, I'm acting like a lovestruck teenager! It's too ridiculous for words. Yes, he's my friend, my lunch companion, but anything more...? If he ever realises what's going through my mind each time we're together now I'll never be able to look him in the eye again. I'm sure he'd have a good laugh at my expense too. Things are bad enough already with him jibing me about my genetic enhancements, but this?

'What is it about him though? What's made me start to feel like this? I suppose that air of mystery about him has always appealed to me - the hint of hidden things in his past. Of course, I know a few of his secrets now, don't I? It certainly came as something of a shock to learn the truth about him and Enabran Tain... Although it explained a lot too. But the odd thing was he didn't have to let me be there with him when Tain died. Actually, the fact that he trusted me that much made me feel - special somehow. He could have simply shut me out even then, but he didn't. It was almost as if...

'No! Don't be stupid! It was just a very difficult situation for him and he needed a bit of moral support. He knew he could count on me - I've proved it to him in the past. Don't try and read anything more into it than that!

'Hm, so what else about him attracts me? Yes, I might as well be honest with myself and admit this is about a physical attraction. Well, there's no denying he has the most beautiful eyes - and smile. And I know from when I've had to treat him that his body is... Dear God, what am I doing? It's not ethical for me to be thinking that way! What I see when he's my patient isn't something to be used as the subject of a fantasy! I must really be tired to slip up like that. I should get to sleep.

'Ha! If only I could just fall asleep without those - images floating around my head... And without the physical reaction that's begun to accompany them. Damn, I don't want to lie here and get hard thinking about being with him. How long before this happens when I actually am with him. That would be just too humiliating!

'Of course, it's probably all down to the uncertainty of the situation we're in at the moment. As a doctor I've encountered the phenomenon before. Fear and stress can affect people in all kinds of different ways - and God knows this war scares the hell out of me! For some reason I'm reacting to it by fantasising about having sex with Garak. It doesn't really mean anything...

'Oh, who am I trying to kid? There's always been - an undercurrent to our friendship. Not that either of us has ever really acknowledged it or taken it beyond an occasional bit of subtle teasing. But everything is different now. The way this war is going there are no guarantees. Life may never go back to the way it was before, and Garak and I may not have the chance to share lunch together in the replimat on DS9 again. If I leave things the way they are now will we both have cause to regret it? Maybe it doesn't seem like the appropriate time to raise this, but what if something should happen to one of us...?

'Well, Julian, if you don't ask you'll never find out, will you? It's very simple. All you have to do is touch your commbadge and speak to him...'

For a long moment my hand hovers in the air above the insignia on my chest. Then, slowly, I let it fall and slide it back under the pillow beneath my head.

'No. No, it's too late to disturb him. He's probably already asleep - as I should be. Tomorrow. I'll talk to him tomorrow. It's always better to sleep on something like this... Isn't it?'

THE END?

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