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Perchance to Dream

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Following his exile, Elim Garak found it next to impossible to procure a decent night's sleep for himself: at first he'd been far too alert, every sense keyed to pick up any sign of an intruder into his small quarters aboard Terok Nor, until experience had finally convinced his Order-trained reflexes that nobody was interested (at the moment, anyway) in assassinating a disgraced operative banished to a backwater station and set to the task of hemming the trousers of the race his species had conquered. But although that realization brought about a new phase of physical relaxation when he lay down between the sheets of his thin and spartan bed, his mind… well, his mind wasn't so easily convinced.

So there he lay, mentally turning his situation over and over… or Enabran Tain's situation… or the political situation on Cardassia Prime… or the political situation on the volatile world now in Garak's own back yard… and he stared at the shadowed ceiling, driving the cycling thoughts away with every cognitive tool in his arsenal only to have them come merrily spiralling back the second he let his guard down. When he finally managed to drift off he would get in a couple of hours of exhausted slumber before the nightmares crept in on little cat feet and sank razor talons into his spine and dragged him back to the waking world over a path of broken glass: memories of being drummed out of the Order mixed up with childhood recollections of closets and premonitions of all the possible ways he could die here, shaking even his habitual pragmatism to the point where he was certain he walked around with haunted eyes above the blandly cheery smile that he presented to everyone he dealt with in his new prison… not that there was anybody to care, of course.

But as bad as Garak's situation was, with its bitter mix of loneliness and wariness and grinding boredom, it only got worse when the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor ended and the Federation took over the station now known as Deep Space Nine. Oh, things were certainly more interesting — in particular, the arrival of the station's new Chief Medical Officer piqued Garak's hunting instincts in a way that he hadn't experienced in years — and his job description had just become a good deal more challenging, but the fact remained that he was still trapped, his wings clipped and bound, and his own claws well and truly jessed. And the nightmares remained, although certain surface details changed to reflect his new situation…

… but now, as he lay huddled beneath thick blankets that never quite seemed to block out the perpetual chill of his quarters, other aspects began to haunt his sleeping mind, like traces of perfume wafting through a charnel house. Images of warm brown skin and wide hazel eyes and a smile which, while sometimes shy and often brash, was inordinately pleasing, especially when set against the ugliness of its surroundings. And sometimes Bashir's scent would come to him, conveying that strange mammalian heat that seemed to invite him to bury his face against the side of that impossibly delicate throat and breathe deep, breathe until everything else went away, until he was finally warm and contented again.

It certainly helped him to sleep marginally better at night, but it was all a fantasy, of course.

Or so he thought until his implant malfunctioned and Bashir not only risked his own life to save Garak's, but followed it up a couple of weeks later with an impulsive kiss both awkward and yearning, offered in a turbolift, of all places!

Garak's first instinct and all his training dictated that he back off and get some distance — which he had, favouring the good Doctor with a sleek noncommittal smile before exiting the elevator on his own floor. That outwardly serene expression had concealed a tumult in his breast and in parts considerably further south, because when had he last been so awakened by another's touch? Not for two decades, at least. And the touch of a sek'harval at that, an officer from the enemy's camp! 

A touch that wouldn't leave him alone, and that haunted his dreams that night in a way that left him stretching and hissing on his lonely mattress, like a tirvor lizard sunning itself at mid-day on a flower-strewn outcrop of ruddy rock. That had woken him several times during the hours of darkness, but always with a flush of joy rather than a chill of dread.

It had taken him only three days to decide that there were political advantages to such an alliance. Perhaps his clarity of mind had something to do with the fact that he'd recently had three of the best nights of sleep he'd been able to achieve in nearly four years.

And now… well, now he lay in a wider and more luxurious bed graced with his own private sun, the boy's heat pressed against his back and his belly, the music of his paramour's soft cries and delicious sighs warming Garak in every dimension. And when he slept these nights it was often a sleep without dreams, save for those of a happy land where there was no Central Command, no Enabran Tain, and no chain of shame binding his neck: only willowy arms wound around him, and a fond tender kiss pressed to his temple, and a melodious voice murmuring words that he knew he would never be worthy of if he were to live a thousand years. 

THE END