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Your Love Is My Drug

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maybe I need some rehab or maybe just need some sleep
i got a sick obsession, i'm seeing it in my dreams
i'm looking down every alley, i'm makin' those desperate calls
i'm staying up all night hoping, hittin' my head against the wall

* * *

"Unnnh..."

Julian Bashir moaned softly to himself, and thudded his forehead gently against his console. I was wrong. This is not fun.

He rested his head on his crossed forearms, and mumbled into his elbow. "Computer, time?"

The computer's soft alto answered. "The current time is zero-one-thirty-eight."

Julian's eyes closed briefly; he sighed, and sat up, and rubbed his face with a weary hand. I have to be awake again in five and a half hours. This means that at some point, I should probably go to sleep. The thought hung before him; he stared idly at it.

There just wasn't enough time. Garak was going to be back on the station within the next twenty-six hours. Too soon, too soon! I need more time to study, damn it!

He stretched, and leaned back in his chair, and surveyed his console, its panels glowing, its surfaces covered with PADDs and dataclips:  his resources for his impromptu research project on Cardassian reproductive xenobiology. This definitely felt like cramming for an exam, too little, too late. Please, God, let it be pass/fail - or maybe multiple choice? His frantic scramble for knowledge had devoured every moment of spare time for almost two days, every second he could snatch between duty and meals. His brain felt as if it was overflowing with Cardassian minutiae, and it still wasn't enough.

There was so much to learn. Cardassians, he was discovering, liked everything very complicated; this included their cuisine, their conversation, and their courtship. God forbid one Cardassian should simply walk up to another and smile, or pay a compliment, or proffer flowers. No, much better to shout angrily across the room or snipe miserably at each other until somehow, confusingly, anger switched directly over to love undying, without even the courtesy of an apology to mark the changeover.

He'd read Petals of the K'selses cover to cover twice the previous night, once feverishly, once methodically, pausing often to make notes. Thank the heavens, it was a romance novel - or at least as close to such a thing as Garak had seen fit to lend him. Well, perhaps it wasn't really a romance in the Human sense - it did have some kind of romantic plot, but there was so much over-layering with love for the Union and duty to the Home that it was kind of hard to tell if the protagonists were making love to each other or to some kind of idealized version of Cardassia. Perhaps that's the perfect Cardassian sex fantasy. God, he was getting weird now. And it was all speculation, anyway, because damn it, there wasn't a single smutty scene in the whole book! No sex, lots of talking. If that's a Cardassian romantic relationship, I'm already having one.

It seemed like Veren and Peretta, the protagonists, spent all of their time arguing nonstop about everything from duty to the home to the making of flower arrangements. Julian had waded valiantly through the book, hoping for them to shut up and kiss already; he'd given up by page 357 of 405, when apparently they were getting married and they still hadn’t even come close. The most frustrating thing was how the author lovingly depicted the body language and postures that went with each barrage of angry words, in an ecstasy of descriptive text; it was written in a way that suggested the reader was expected to find it fascinating and a little bit titillating. I don't think I'm quite sexually frustrated enough for that. Yet.

And the arguments never seemed to go anywhere. Every conversation was a contest to better the other's knowledge about a specific topic, no matter how irrelevant, and nobody ever won. Peretta never said, oh, you mad fool, I am overwhelmed with lust by your four-paragraph refutation of my stance on expansion of the Union, take me now! What was the point?

The book hadn't proved very helpful regarding ways one could demonstrate one's romantic interest aside from arguing, either. Oh, there were all these little hints that there were ways one could interest a potential partner, but the context wasn't described at all; it was just expected that the reader would understand. Veren was constantly doing things for Peretta, sometimes very small things – stirring her drink? and tying her shoes, was that really necessary? - and yet neither of them acknowledged it in any way. Was that romantic on Cardassia? Was it just polite? How do I know what to do? How do I know when to do it? Am I Veren or am I Peretta? Damn it, I don't have the right cultural references for this! He was sinking further and further into a mucky realization that everything he knew about romance seemed to be completely inapplicable.

The Cardassian physiology references he'd dredged up from the computer's memory hadn't helped much either. Their perspective was too dry for what he needed. It was all well and good to have a complete description of Cardassian physical anatomy (such fascinating differences! Scales where? Retractable what?), but nowhere did the texts mention the really crucial details. Signs of arousal in the mature Cardassian male, for example. Where to touch, and how, and when. He was going to have to figure it all out as he went, without any resources, and he hated that. I feel like I'm groping in the dark. Although, come to think of it, groping in the dark might be the best way to learn... Stop it, Julian, you're getting ahead of yourself.

He'd considered the possibility of a late-night holosuite booking at Quark's. Surely the Ferengi, who could cater to just about any sexual appetite, might have some kind of program that could provide him with insights on what an aroused Cardassian might look like - but down that road were very strange questions, and rumours, and it would be embarrassing, and there were some kinds of awkward that even Julian Bashir didn't feel the need to be.

I'm just going to have to do the best I can with what I've got. But it was such a blur, a whirl of data spinning around him, and even his capacious memory was having some trouble grappling with it all. I need to sleep, let my brain file it all away.

Julian straightened his back, stretching all his aching muscles, and pushed himself up out of his chair. "Computer, lights off." Obligingly, the room darkened; now it was lit only by his console's glow, and with a few taps on a panel, that too faded to black. The darkness was delightfully soft and velvety after hours of staring at glowing screens. He rubbed his eyes again, and yawned jaw-crackingly, and padded over to his bed, and lay down, nuzzling his face into his pillow until it sat just right, and oh he was so tired...

What would be the first thing Garak would say when he saw Julian on his return? Would he smile?

Stop it.

Maybe he'd stand just a little too close to Julian, as he sometimes did, and maybe Julian would be able to catch a hint of his scent - what does he smell like? I honestly don't know! Maybe spice? Does he even wear cologne?

Stop it, Julian, go to sleep.

I wonder if he wears cologne. I wonder where he puts it. Maybe a little on the ridges just under his ear, maybe a little on his collarbone, maybe a dab on each wrist... I wonder what it would be like to nuzzle in there, right where his neck flares, that lovely splay, get right in there and inhale, maybe kiss him, taste his skin -

Oh, to hell with it.

Julian got out of bed, strode to the sonic shower, yanked off his pajama pants, cranked the shower to full and thought very intensely about blue eyes and ridged shoulders and retractable what for a surprisingly short interval.

Sleep came much more easily after that.