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What is that?”

Julian turned to follow the Cardassian’s gaze. “What? The… necklace that Ensign is buying?”

“No,” The Cardassian sounded almost irritated, “the uniform that the Ensign is wearing. That can’t be regulation.”

“Oh, the skant?” Julian chuckled at the completely bewildered look he received. “You’ve never seen one before?”

Garak leaned back in his chair, eying Julian as though to decide if he was being played or not. “I dare say I would have remembered.”

“Well, I suppose they’re not as popular as they used to be.” He grinned, enjoying knowing more about a subject than Garak did for once. “Do they offend your plain, simple tailor sensibilities?”

A ridged eyebrow was raised at him. “On the contrary. Aside from being a bit too cold for this chill environment, it does make a delightful change of pace from the drab uniforms everyone else is wearing.”

Julian laughed again. “Well, don’t get too used to it. They’ve fallen out of fashion.”

“That is to say that they were in fashion at one point?” Garak sipped his juice, hiding a smile. “I was unaware that Starfleet cared about such things.”

“Oh, they don’t.” He grinned. “The uniform was initially created for those serving who did not have the traditional bipedal legs. But, a lot of people took to wearing them because they were comfortable. No one seemed to care when it was just women wearing them, but when some of the men started wearing them, too, some prejudice higher-up threw a fit and tried to get them banned.”

“He failed, I take it?”

“Oh, spectacularly. They couldn’t ban them because that would be alienating the ones they had been made for in the first place, and regulation clearly states that, as long as the uniforms fit properly, an officer can wear any form of authorized uniform available. So, in protest, it became fashionable to wear them around just to spite the people who didn’t like it. But, as happens, when people grew used to it, and stopped caring, it stopped being a form of rebellion, and the fashion died.” He shrugged. “And, the uniform has had a few redesigns since then. The only people who wear them now are the ones who just like them.”

There was a silent pause, as Julian took a bite of his stew, but Garak seemed lost in thought, staring at the Ensign who was now walking away down the Promenade. After a moment, he turned back to Julian.

“Did you ever wear one, Doctor?”

Julian chuckled. “I did wear a variant in my academy days, but I find them very impractical for medical work.”

The smile that grew on the Cardassian’s face sent shivers down Julian’s spine. It was predatory. It was… lecherous.

“I should have liked to see that.”

The Doctor had no doubts he was imagining it right now. He cleared his throat. “I’m… not sure any photographic evidence exists.”

“Pity.” He stood. “Well, Doctor, I’m afraid I must cut this short. I have some work that has just come up.”


The man grinned. “I think it’s time some things come back into fashion.”