It was dark. It was cold. The memory of that hot, tiny crawlspace
closed in on him over and over, tormenting him not only with his
phobic reaction but with the knowledge that others had seen his
"Garak?" The whisper was gentle, concerned, and accompanied by a
human hand on his arm.
"Are you warm enough?"
A curious question, posed to one who had not felt warm enough since
he had been exiled. "I do feel colder than usual," he said. As a
matter of fact he felt so thoroughly chilled that the cool human hand
"You're in shock. I want you to try to stay conscious." A pause.
"Come with me. Bring your blanket."
The hand slipped into his and led him confidently through the opaque
darkness. "Can you see, doctor?"
"No, but I know where I'm going. Trust me."
"Where are we going?"
"Somewhere we can talk without disturbing those who ought to sleep."
Fear washed over Garak and compelled him to another humiliation.
"It's not too confined, is it?"
Compassion resonated in the human doctor's voice. "Of course not,
Garak. It's private, though."
"Are we permitted to move about the compound at this hour?"
"Yes. Don't worry, Garak, I've done this before."
"You were also in solitary confinement before," Garak remarked with
some semblance of his usual teasing tone.
"Not for walking the halls at night," Bashir answered mysteriously.
Garak started to ask why he had been, but quickly thought the better
of it. The doctor led him through a door and pressed him into a
corner. "Here we are. Sit down."
He sat obediently and was covered not only by his own blanket but by
the doctor's as well. Then the slender young man slipped under the
covers beside him and enveloped him in a protective embrace. "Doctor!
What are you doing?"
The doctor actually sounded a little defensive. "I have to keep you
warm. You're freezing!"
He simply could not relax under these conditions. The lovely man
rubbed his body, obviously just trying to raise his body temperature,
oblivious to the havoc it was wreaking on the old exile's emotions...
"Garak, please try to relax," the doctor said patiently. Then a sigh
of exasperation. "What's the matter, don't you trust me?" A faint
trace of the small child, the innocent who trusted and was hurt by
"On the contrary, my dear doctor, I trust you implicitly. It is
myself I don't trust." Some part of his mind still ruled by Tain's
training was horrified by his candour. But Tain was dead and the only
living being he cared about sat next to him, requiring protection.
"What do you mean, you don't trust yourself?" the other man asked
Garak sighed, touching the smooth caramel forehead, imagining the
luminous mahogany eyes as clearly as if he could see in this utter
blackness. "Enchanting man," he murmured, running his fingers into the
soft black curls, "surely you aren't that naive."
"...Oh..." Those beautiful eyes would go dull now, the propaganda-
fed human mind dredging up every frightening and inaccurate thing
he'd ever heard about Cardassian desire and sexual pursuit. Garak
withdrew in preparation for the rejection.
Julian's voice continued after a moment. "I kept expecting a
Cardassian seduction. I had given up hope..."
"I beg your pardon?" Surely he was mishearing.
"Garak, I would enjoy exploring a sexual relationship with you. I
did try to initiate one... I read all about Cardassian mating rituals
and followed them to the letter."
"Oh, is that what you were doing, doctor? I thought you were upset
with me!" Relief washed over him, making every muscle go limp.
"Finally! It's about time you relaxed."
More than relief. In his shock, his tired brain saw the cruel irony:
Julian valiantly attempting a Cardassian flirtation while Garak
flirted with the human as he saw humans do. He began to laugh
silently, uncontrollably, half-sobbing with ragged, worn-out, edgy
emotion that bordered on hysteria.
Julian held him. The human was such a comfort, always had been...
By touch he found Julian's soft, supple lips... when he kissed the
young man he could feel the odd human coolness.
Julian spared a moment to examine his vital signs, then another
kiss, then the tickle of breath in his hair and the elegantly accented
voice in his ear. "Your temperature is back up. You're out of danger
from the shock. Now we just have to manage your phobia so it doesn't
Julian's fingers caressed his ear, his forehead... his neckridges!
Garak moaned with arousal. Of all the times those skilled surgeon's
hands had touched him: five years of physicals, the injuries he'd
sustained in the explosions and ambushes that were every tailor's lot,
a casual hand on the arm over lunch and literature, he never thought
Julian would touch him this way.
The smug little smile appeared in his mind's eye as the
self-satisfied voice caressed his ear. "You like this, don't you?"
"I suppose you'd like me to keep doing it."
Was he actually planning to do this properly?! "Please," Garak
The hands withdrew and Garak nearly exploded. "We should get back to
bed before the patrol goes through," Julian said smoothly.
Garak hissed, trying to gain control of the situation. "You infernal
tease! Get back here!"
"I'm tired." He didn't sound the least bit tired. He sounded
delighted at his position of power. Then, reasonably, "Come on, Garak,
we both need sleep. We can't do this here anyway. Wait until we're
"Of course." Garak smiled, finding the doctor's mouth in the dark
for one more kiss. "You really have mastered the art of conflict,
doctor. When I teach you the finer nuances that allow us to
distinguish between antagonism and passion you will be a most
stimulating and challenging mate."
Julian chuckled as they made their way back to the prisoners
barracks. "Do you know my first name?"
"Nobody would ever know," Julian said archly.
Garak smiled. "I love you, Julian."
"I love you too, Elim."