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 December 1995.
It was an unusual sensation, waking late to the knowledge that he had no need to get up, put on his uniform and hurry to the Infirmary for the start of his shift. Julian Bashir was not entirely certain that it was a sensation he liked. Oh, it was pleasant enough to be able to relax completely for once, but it left him feeling oddly directionless - and lonely. If there had been someone there to share his bed with him perhaps he could have enjoyed his lie in more, but it had been some months since Julian had last woken up with someone at his side... Ah well, it was just for the one day - Christmas.
As had become his custom Captain Sisko had given as many of his staff as possible a day's leave today. He was a firm believer in observing both Starfleet and Bajoran festivals and holidays where it was practical to do so. In honour of Christmas he was arranging one of his famous dinners for this evening with all the senior staff invited. Please, no beets this time! thought Julian with an involuntary groan, considering the prospect as he pushed back the covers of his bed and padded on bare feet into the shower.
Some time later, casually dressed in a crisp, white cotton shirt and loose trousers tailored from a soft, black material, the young doctor sat in an armchair in his quarters. In his hands he held a small package which he fiddled with absently. It was, if one cared to look at it that way, his Christmas present to himself - a very expensive present. Julian didn't like to remind himself just how much latinum he had actually spent on it. And in the end would it be worth what it had cost him? Ah, now there was the question. There was no doubt that in essence this small item represented precisely what Julian most wanted for Christmas, but still...
Finally, with a decisive gesture, the young man undid the plain wrapping to reveal - a single holosuite program rod. A little apprehensively he looked up at the wall chronometer. It showed nearly 1300 hours. It was time to see if it had indeed been latinum well spent. With a determined look on his face Julian hurried from his quarters and headed for Quark's - and a much anticipated appointment in the holosuites.
The Cardassian tailor had been more than a little perplexed by the insistent and mysterious summons he had unexpectedly received from Quark. He gave serious consideration to ignoring it at first, but he had to admit that it had piqued his curiosity. Besides, he rationalised to himself, he wasn't doing much trade today thanks to Starfleet and their irritating human holiday. All those hypocritical protestations of goodwill to all men - tomorrow every one of them would be back to their petty squabbles, just as usual. Shaking his head at the naive folly of these humans Garak closed up his shop and headed for the bar to find out exactly what the Ferengi had discovered that he was so convinced he would find of interest.
The moment Garak walked through the door Quark hurried to his side, taking his arm and drawing him into a private corner of the bar. An obsequious smile informed his features as he looked up at the tailor.
"Ah, Garak, there you are..." began the Ferengi unctuously.
"Quark, please let's just skip the pleasantries." Garak waved one broad, grey hand dismissively. "Now tell me, what is this astounding piece of information you wish to share with me?" he demanded acerbically. And just how much is it going to cost me to find out?
"Y'know, Garak, I think you need to relax more," said Quark solicitously, studying the impassive Cardassian face in front of him.
"Quark..." Garak loomed over the Ferengi impatiently. Quark held up his hands placatingly.
"All right, but listen to me, Garak. I really do think that you should pay a visit to holosuite 3 right now." Quark favoured the tailor with a sly smile.
"And why would I want to do that?" asked Garak with a sigh.
"Well... let's just say that Doctor Bashir is currently running a new program in there; one that he has only recently acquired. I'm quite sure you'd find it most - intriguing." Garak raised an eyeridge questioningly. "It's a program your young friend paid handsomely to have written especially for him - to meet some very precise requirements," continued Quark.
"And who wrote this program for him - you?" enquired Garak. "I thought you always promised your clients complete confidentiality."
"Of course I do!" declared the Ferengi with an air of injured innocence. "But I didn't write this program. The doctor chose to take his business elsewhere."
"So how do you know what the program entails?" asked Garak pointedly.
"Well, I may have mentioned the name of a programmer to the doctor - a business acquaintance of mine as it happens..."
"Of course, I understand," interrupted Garak with a cynical smile. "Though I still don't see why Doctor Bashir's leisure pursuits should be of any interest to me, Quark." The Ferengi threw the tailor a sceptical look that clearly indicated he wasn't fooled for a moment by the Cardassian's apparent casualness.
"Oh, you will, Garak. Believe me - you will," Quark assured him, a knowing gleam in his eyes. With that he leaned forward and in hushed tones proceeded to describe at some length exactly what the doctor's program involved. By the time he had finished Garak's cornflower eyes were wide with surprise and a strange light danced in their depths.
"I see," said Garak at last, his brain working furiously to process the implications of what he had just heard. "Thank you, Quark, and I believe I should like to extend the rental on holosuite 3. Shall we say - another three hours?"
"It's always a pleasure doing business with you, Garak," replied Quark with a toothy grin as the Cardassian handed over his latinum, receiving in return the override code to holosuite 3.
Julian stood nervously in the empty holosuite. This was ridiculous. Why was he so jumpy? He'd used the holosuites plenty of times before without giving it a second thought. Yes, but you weren't running this particular program before, were you? his conscience reminded him. Damn it! It's just an image - a simulation - where's the harm in that? Surely this is better than making a complete fool of yourself out there in the real world - and you know you would have done sooner or later. How much longer would you have been able to stop yourself from acting on your feelings and asking the question you know you really shouldn't ask? another part of his brain countered reasonably. Burying the still feebly protesting voice of his conscience Julian cleared his throat self-consciously.
"Computer, activate program Bashir Omega One."
At once the blank walls of the holosuite disappeared, replaced by the illusion of a light, airy room. Julian looked around him avidly, noting all the details. It was a perfect representation - exactly as he remembered it from his last trip home some four years ago. He couldn't claim that all the memories associated with this place were good, but the cosy familiarity of his own room in his family's house on Earth was comforting nevertheless. Yes, this was a far more fitting setting for this program than a facsimile of his quarters on the station would have been. Well, so far so good the doctor found himself thinking with relief, but the real test of the programmer's skill was still to come. The setting was perfect, but what of the company...?
There was a light tap at the bedroom door, interrupting Julian's somewhat nostalgic reverie. He took a deep, steadying breath before moving across to open it. Merry Christmas, Julian, and may you get what you really want... Slowly, with his heart pounding furiously in his chest, the doctor pushed the door aside. The action revealed a solidly, reassuringly recognisable figure - albeit in this setting distinctly out of place.
"Hello, doctor," came the greeting, the familiar cadences of Garak's voice as perfectly reproduced as his physical form. "I do hope I'm not late."
"Not at all, Garak," replied Julian with a hugely relieved smile. "Why don't you come in."
Julian watched as the holographic simulation of his Cardassian friend walked past him into the room. It was perfect; the doctor even caught the faintest hint of the warm scent of the tailor's skin as he passed him. Oh yes, the programmer Quark had recommended most certainly knew his job! The likeness was remarkable, now to find out how much of the essence, the complex personality, of the Cardassian had also been captured...
The doctor suppressed the sudden flicker of guilt he felt as he wondered what the hell the real Garak would say and do if he knew about this. Would he be angry? Would he refuse to meet Julian for lunch any more? That certainly wasn't the result the doctor wanted to achieve. He still very much desired the real Garak's company too. Well, if you're careful there's no reason why he should ever find out about this, Julian told himself firmly. And at least this way you can get all those absurd fantasies out of your system without having to worry about embarrassing yourself totally every time you meet him for lunch. The doctor had been finding it increasingly difficult to conceal his body's reaction to the Cardassian's physical proximity during their recent lunches.
The holographic Garak was standing patiently in the centre of the room as the doctor wrestled with his conscience, an affectionate smile gracing his features. Finally Julian closed the door and walked across to join him. An answering smile curved the doctor's full lips as he moved to greet him as he'd so often wished he could greet the real, living, breathing Garak.
Garak climbed the spiral stair leading to the holosuites with a strange mixture of anticipation and apprehension. To say that he had been surprised by Quark's description of Doctor Bashir's new program would have been to grossly understate the case! Nevertheless, the tailor did his best to rein in his sudden excitement - surely it was all quite innocent - a misunderstanding on Quark's part. But the Ferengi had seemed very certain of his facts...
Yet the good doctor had never shown the slightest interest in pursuing a more intimate friendship - had he? Or were human reactions so very different from Cardassian ones that he simply hadn't noticed the signs? Garak's mind worked furiously, trying to find any hints or suggestions he might have overlooked. No, he was certain, Doctor Bashir had always seemed quite content to pursue an entirely platonic relationship. Indeed, the tailor mused, the doctor had always appeared quite flustered by his periodic efforts at flirtation and had never seemed to respond to them or attempt to reciprocate them. Or had he assumed, wondered Garak with sudden insight, that they were not sincerely meant; that they were just another game? From where the doctor sat would such an assumption have been unreasonable? Hardly.
If that were so it was not at all surprising he hadn't responded - even if he had wished to. The tailor had come to understand Julian well enough to know how much he hated to appear foolish and he would certainly not be alone in not wishing to have his overtures rejected... Garak sighed. How wrong the young doctor had been he reflected wryly.
And how unobservant he had been, thought the Cardassian ruefully. Even with all his much vaunted skills as a gatherer of intelligence at his disposal he still hadn't been able to divine the feelings of one guileless human. How his former colleagues would deride him for his foolishness! Doctor Bashir was sufficiently besotted with him to spend a small fortune in latinum to have a holographic facsimile programmed that he could sport with, while the real object of his affections harboured his own fantasies in lonely silence. Ah, how ridiculous we have both been, my dear doctor. Well, if I understand your human traditions correctly I believe it is customary for friends to exchange gifts during your Christmas observances. Perhaps today we can follow this custom - and then we may both receive what we desire...
Garak stopped outside the closed door of holosuite 3 still feeling a twinge of unaccustomed nervousness. What if Doctor Bashir viewed his presence as an intrusion on his privacy and became angry? That could spell the end of all his newly awakened hopes. Deal with such things when - and indeed if - they happen, Elim, the tailor chastised himself. You're simply procrastinating. Now - open the door! Before he could think better of it Garak tapped in the override code and waited for the door to slide aside and admit him. As it did he quickly stepped inside and reengaged the holosuite's privacy lock. Then he turned around to learn the secrets of the doctor's fantasy world.
The sight which greeted Garak was of a flushed and exceedingly flustered Julian Bashir hurriedly pulling himself free from the enthusiastic embrace of a perfectly fashioned replica of himself. The Cardassian doppelganger merely regarded the new arrival with entirely appropriate irritation before turning to confront the doctor.
"Julian, what is the meaning...?" began the holographic Garak, but the rest of his question went unasked as Julian hurried to freeze the program of the Cardassian. Then he turned to face the real tailor apprehensively.
"Garak! What - what are you doing here?" he asked nervously, his tongue darting out in an anxious gesture to moisten his suddenly dry lips.
"To be frank, doctor, I might well ask you the very same question," observed Garak slowly as he took a moment to study his surroundings. "This is very cosy, isn't it?" he added, indicating the bedroom setting with a wave of one grey-skinned hand. Julian's gaze dropped abruptly to the floor and he blushed furiously, all the while thanking his lucky stars that he hadn't got beyond simply hugging and kissing his holographic companion. If Garak had arrived a little later...
"I - I'm sorry, Garak. I really never meant to..." he began, but then the doctor's brain lighted on something that didn't quite make sense and he looked up, a sudden frown crossing his face. "Wait a minute, how did you get in here? And how did you know about this program - I only received it yesterday and it's not in the main holosuite database?"
"I'm afraid, my dear doctor, that you have just learned that you should never put your trust in a Ferengi," said Garak over his shoulder as he approached the frozen facsimile of himself. "I must say though that you do appear to have been recommended to an excellent programmer," he concluded with some admiration as he slowly circled the motionless figure.
"Quark told you about this?" Julian's expression was one of incredulity. "Why?"
"I have no idea," admitted Garak. "He really never struck me as the romantically inclined type. Still, I'm rather glad that he did. Why did you go to all this trouble, doctor?"
"Don't you know?" Julian shot at him more sharply than he intended. Garak raised an eyeridge thoughtfully.
"I could make an informed guess, but I'd rather hear it from you," he declared evasively.
"I - I wanted... Well, I ..." Julian stammered helplessly, unable to find the words he wanted. "I am sorry, Garak. Are you really very angry with me?"
"Let us say - surprised rather than angry, doctor. This must have cost you a great deal of latinum," observed Garak mildly.
"Yes - it did," said Julian in a small voice. "I thought it would be worth it though."
"Didn't you think you could cope with the real thing then, doctor?" asked Garak with genuine curiosity.
"I - I don't understand, Garak. Our friendship - it wasn't like that. I had to do something though. What I was feeling was driving me crazy, but I didn't think..."
"You didn't ask, doctor."
"Computer, discontinue holographic representation of Elim Garak." The simulation vanished, leaving Julian to stare at the living, breathing Cardassian in some confusion. "Well, doctor, what now? Oh, and incidentally, my young friend, I took the liberty of renting this holosuite for an additional three hours," added Garak with an enigmatic smile. He was rewarded by the sight of the doctor's mouth gaping as he struggled to find something to say, but the unexpected turn of events left him speechless for once. Garak regarded him with some amusement, one eyeridge quirking upward.
Running on instinct the tailor stepped closer to his discomfited companion and proceeded to take full advantage of Julian's enticingly parted lips. The hard Cardassian mouth covered the softer human one, Garak's agile tongue taking the opportunity to explore its delicate contours. Caught off guard the doctor forgot the protest he had been about to voice as Garak moved in on him. In reality he forgot everything but the fact that the real Garak's kiss was quite unlike the rather hollow sensation he had experienced with the unreal one. No programmer could have hoped to capture that precise, and completely captivating, combination of sweet taste and spicy scent coupled with the firm pressure of the tailor's lips. When they finally drew apart, panting hard, Julian's hazel eyes were wide with an intoxicating mixture of surprise and lust.
"Well," said Garak smugly, "I don't think I need to ask if that was a more - enjoyable experience than your program was able to provide."
"And are you going to tell me that you didn't find it equally enjoyable?" asked Julian with the faintest hint of a challenge in his voice. Garak grinned at him disarmingly.
"My dear Julian," he purred, "something tells me that it is highly probable that we are both going to get precisely what we most want before this Christmas celebration of yours is over." The doctor flushed again, but not from embarrassment, as he saw the unmistakeable gleam in Garak's eyes. Well, he wasn't about to deny the truth of the tailor's words. Casting caution to the wind Julian glided closer to the Cardassian again until they stood chest to chest.
"That depends..." he murmured coquettishly, glancing at Garak through his long, dark lashes.
"On what?" asked the tailor on a breath.
"On whether you can do more than just kiss, my Cardassian friend," replied Julian suggestively. Warm, hazel eyes challenged clear, cornflower blue and the tailor responded without hesitation. In a heartbeat the doctor found himself swept up in Garak's strong arms. The Cardassian laughed at the momentary expression of total surprise which crossed the young man's face as he was yet again caught completely off guard. Quickly Garak crossed the floor and deposited his precious cargo on the wide bed. At once he joined Julian, the warm weight of his body pressing the doctor down against the soft mattress.
"You should be careful what you wish for, my sweet Julian," whispered Garak huskily, his hands roaming restlessly over the doctor's slender form.
"Oh no, Garak, I very much hope that all my wishes are about to come true. Do you think they might?" asked Julian breathlessly. He moved his hips enticingly against the Cardassian's, the sinuous motion rubbing his growing hardness against Garak's own firm erection. The tailor gasped helplessly as the tantalising pressure drove all his clever schemes from his head at once. All that mattered now was getting out of these damned clothes...
The human and the Cardassian tore at each other's clothing with eager hands, removing it as quickly as they could until they lay naked in one another's arms. Smooth, caramel skin like the finest silk brushed sensually against Garak's leathery, reptilian hide. Somehow in the course of their frantic undressing Julian had managed to gain the superior position and he was taking full advantage of it - not that the tailor felt inclined to protest the turnaround - well, not with any seriousness anyway...
The doctor was taking his time now, engaging in a leisurely exploration of every inch of Garak's body. Julian skilfully employed his agile fingers, soft lips and eager tongue to search out the secrets of each part of the Cardassian's solid frame - except that part the tailor most wanted him to devote his attention to. That he studiously ignored, until Garak cried out in inarticulate frustration.
"Is there a problem, Garak?" asked Julian innocently, a wicked smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He was enjoying his ascendancy over the Cardassian to the full.
"Julian..." rumbled the tailor threateningly.
"Well you didn't think I was going to let you off scot free, did you?" said Julian primly. "You drove me wild for months while I sat there at lunch, wanting you, getting so damned hard it hurt, but never daring to say a word for fear of making a fool of myself. So now, my overeager friend, I am going to make you wait while I have a little fun."
Garak sighed theatrically - a sound which rapidly became a groan as Julian bent his head and began to alternately lick and gently bite the tailor's charcoal grey nipples. Such exquisite torture... The Cardassian's eyelids drooped, veiling the pellucid eyes as the sensations overwhelmed him. Julian grinned triumphantly, savouring the sight of the usually calm and unruffled Garak writhing helplessly under him. Oh yes, this was so much more than he had dreamed of - assuredly the best Christmas present he had received in years, and all the more delightful for being so unexpected.
The throbbing between his own thighs was becoming increasingly insistent now, so Julian finally relented. He pulled Garak over onto his side, turning as he did so until they lay head to toe. The tailor needed no further invitation, his hands reaching for the doctor's erection even as Julian caught hold of Garak's own leathery shaft. They toyed with one another, learning which caresses brought forth the most intense responses, but it was the human who first lowered his head, carefully taking Garak's swollen member between his lips.
The tailor craned his neck to watch for a moment as Julian lovingly closed his mouth around the hard sex, taking it in as deeply as he could. The young man's eyes fluttered shut as he concentrated on his task. With the rush of an unfamiliar emotion Garak dropped his head to the doctor's groin, drawing the smooth-skinned shaft with its delicate, flared head into his mouth, intent on bringing as much pleasure to Julian as he was himself receiving from his friend.
Each man worked skilfully to delight his lover, all the while savouring the unfamiliar smell and taste of the other - the spiciness of Cardassian arousal vying with the musky scent of the human. They prolonged their mutual exploration for as long as they were able before tumbling over the edge together into the delicious moment of release. Each gladly accepted the gift of their partner's seed, learning the taste as they drifted lazily down from the heights. As the last tremors faded Garak reached for Julian, drawing him into his arms and cradling the slender form against his own muscular chest. The doctor was smiling contentedly.
"Garak, how did you know what I wanted for Christmas this year?" he teased sleepily.
"Oh, I have my sources," responded Garak in kind. "And I do so hope you don't only want this for Christmas." Julian laughed affectionately as he studied the tailor's hopeful expression.
"No, this is one present I want to enjoy as often as I can," he assured the Cardassian. "The gift wrapping was superb, but what was inside is quite breathtaking," he added sincerely. Garak smiled at the doctor's half-serious flattery.
"And your gift to me is equally enchanting," said the tailor approvingly, running his hands possessively over Julian's smooth chest, "more beautiful than the finest silk - so very rare."
"I'm glad you liked it," said Julian softly, turning his head so that his lips could explore Garak's face tenderly. "I know this probably isn't precisely what either of us had in mind for today, but... well, Merry Christmas, Garak."
"Merry Christmas to you, my dearest Julian - and may the days ahead hold many more such delightful surprises for both of us."
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