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Electric Twist

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you should be wilder, you’re no fun at all
yeah, thanks for the input – thanks for the call
with dull knives and white hands, the blood of a stone
cold to the touch, right down to the bone

* * *

“Come on, Julian, not again—“

“Look, I’m sorry, Rij; it’s not my fault that I’ve got a very busy social calendar.”

“Julian Bashir, you are so full of it.

“What can I say? I’m in demand.”

He grins and sips his Pepsi, and Rijal frowns at him, pulling at her hair in mock frustration.

“What have I got to do to get you to come out with us again?”

Julian laughs and leans in. “You’ve got to get to me first.”

“Oh, Prophets, Julian,” and Rij rolls her eyes, “I seriously cannot believe I am being ditched for a forty-year-old man.”

“You don’t know that.”

“What? The being ditched, the forty, or the man?”

“Um… the first two, I think; the last one is pretty obvious.”

“Huh. Well, as for the forty, I’ve met him, Julian, and he’s forty years old if he’s a day, and can I just remind you that you are twenty-six—“

“Yeah, yeah…” He waves that away. “Didn’t you date that Bolian guy? How old was he? Thirties for sure.”

“Thirties is not forties, Julian, and don’t try to distract me. And as for being me being ditched, it’s obvious.”

“Oh? Do tell.” He widens his eyes, trying for innocent.

“Don’t pull that Disney shit with me. Look at you.”

“What about me?”

Rijal looks at him over the plastic cafeteria table, and her mouth tilts into a reluctant smile. “You’re frigging glowing, Julian.”

“Am not!”

“Are too, like a string of fucking fairy lights, Prophets, it’s nauseating—“

“You’re just jealous, Rij.”

“Um. Yeah. I really wish I had somebody to take me to exciting places like the library or the art gallery—“

“Don’t forget the cinema – that was pretty good.”

“Right, the film in Romulan, Prophets know I can’t think of any better way to spend my night—“

“I like it, Rij.”

“You’re crazy, Julian.”

He shrugs, grins at her. “I’m having a good time. What can I say?”

Her expression is all fond irritation. “Yeah, I can see that. Just… don’t forget who you are, okay?”

He frowns. “What does that mean?”

“Well, Julian, libraries, okay, this is all good times, but… you’re only young once, you know? You’ve got to be a little wild,” and she wriggles in her chair, as if for emphasis.

His brows pop up and he laughs. “What, libraries aren’t wild enough for you?”

“Yeah, yeah…” And now it’s her turn to brush him off. She pulls out her phone, checks her calendar. “Okay, Julian, you’re off the hook for tonight – but next week you’re mine, got it?”

“Consider me booked, Rij,” and he’s smiling, he does like to go dancing with Rij and her friends, it is tremendous fun, but—

But—

Well, things had been ticking along rather pleasantly for Julian; he had a new friend, a clever friend, who made him laugh and was fun to talk to and took him to interesting places and went to places Julian liked without complaint - well, much complaint—

And it had been all fascinating Cardassian cultural studies and hand gestures and knuckles to throats and literature review, and nothing much more solid than that; getting a straight answer out of the man was like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. About the only thing Julian had known for sure was that the man was interested in him in a way that went much deeper than the average friendship, and that had almost made things more intriguing, and he’d wanted to know more and more—

Had found himself spinning around this man in a way that he wasn’t used to, curious about his days, wondering about his nights, sleeping on his couch for God’s sake, listening to him breathing in the next room, thinking about his cold hands, wondering if all of him was that cold—

And one day, Julian had drawn the man’s hand to his throat as if to open himself to a slash with a blade, and the way the man had looked at him had made it clear that any blade he’d ever hold to Julian’s throat would have to be a very dull one indeed—

And now things have gotten complicated.

* * *

but you give me the electric twist and it kicks, and it kicks like a pony
and true, you might get away with it, it’s a risk, it’s a risk, yeah

* * *

Gotten complicated very quickly; God, even as he thinks about it now he feels the shock to his system, the twist inside him that makes him want to curl up on himself and grin. It rocks him to his core, it overwhelms him, it makes him want to shout embarrassing things in public, it is very, very good

New relationships could be such treacherous things. The rush could pull you in, could yank you under, and you’d find yourself over your head without knowing how you got there, and swimming was fun but drowning wasn’t so what, in the end, did you do?

It always felt so risky. He never knew how much of himself to expose, how much of yourself you could bring with you to bed without making things into something they weren’t quite ready to be. He did have rather a nasty habit of falling head over heels at the slightest provocation, but he’d tempered it, recognizing how dangerous it could be; these days, the most he usually allowed himself was a quiet sigh and a daydream, because risking anything more than that was too much trouble. Easier to go dancing, to flirt and kiss and go home with someone very short-term, someone who wouldn’t cause complications.

But now here he is, deliberately making things as complicated as possible, sneaking off to find more complications whenever he can, missing sleep and sitting dazed through class and smiling dopily at his friends because he is so very, very complicated—

* * *

picked from a hot grove and packaged for sale
it drips down the sleeve, gets under your nails
a loss of the senses, a chip off a tooth
the smells of the city, they ride in your suit

* * *

God, what is it about Elim that has him so tangled up in the man?

Something about the eyes, maybe? He does have fascinating eyes, blue and sharp – Julian’s a bit of a sucker for blue eyes – but lots of people have blue eyes.

Maybe his clothes? Always impeccably dressed, everything he wears fitting him and flattering him completely, and he always looks perfect for every occasion. This is a world Julian knows nothing about. But he’d been completely happy to know nothing about it just a few months prior, so it couldn’t be the clothes.

Could be his hands. He does have amazing hands. Short fingers, but strong, and his nails are always perfect, which had honestly weirded Julian out for a little while – who was that much of a perfectionist? But he’s kind of gotten to like it, actually… Again, though, hands are just hands, it isn’t the hands.

And it isn’t his shape: he’s just a typical man, a little shorter than Julian, and Julian isn’t particularly much for men, really, which is a big reason this makes Rijal shake her head and makes Julian wonder quietly to himself sometimes, what am I doing?

Oh, let’s be real, I know exactly what I’m doing!

He’s been hooked, helplessly hooked by Elim’s mind, by his quick wit and his insight and the way he always says the right thing except when he, charmingly, doesn’t; by the things he knows about and the things he doesn’t and the way he’s pleased to discuss both with Julian for hours and hours—

God, the talking, the talking, the conversations have been so good he’d almost wondered if they could be a replacement for sex.

And then, rather remarkably, they haven’t been a replacement, they’ve been an appetizer.

Julian had had no idea, none at all, and this is a ridiculously delightful thing, this is new and exciting and really something, this has him running from class, dashing from work, banging on Elim’s door, shifting from foot to foot, waiting—

It feels like trying a new fruit, something exotic, something tropical – you don’t quite know how to eat it, if it should be peeled or sliced, and then the first bite is sweet and spicy and the juice runs down your hands, and all you can think was, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this sooner.

His first curious taste had turned into a weekend-long binge, skipping work, skipping study sessions, skipping the clubs with Rijal, nothing else mattered because he needed more, and the first Monday back to the real world he’d felt like life was in fast-forward; all he’d been able to think all day was soon soon soon and when class had ended he’d ducked out with a wordless wave to his friends, had hopped on the bus, had clung to a support post, grinning—

And Elim had had no idea what hit him when Julian had burst into his apartment; he’d been just getting in, and his suit had smelled of taxi and exhaust and the faint scents of city wrapped around the rich warm heart of Elim, and Julian had inhaled him, pressed him close, kissed him so hard and so clumsily that their teeth had banged together and Julian had briefly seen stars—

And very shortly afterwards, under Elim’s expert ministrations, he’d seen rather a lot more of them.

And she wonders why I don’t want to go dancing?

* * *

he says don’t think, don’t talk, don’t think
don’t think, don’t talk
but i don’t think i want to…

* * *

It had all been so cerebral when it started out, so terribly cerebral, and there had been moments where he’d almost been a bit self-congratulatory about it. Julian Bashir, twenty-six year old medical student, discusses Cardassian authors and Romulan film and semantic saturation. God, he’d felt all fluttery and clever every time he and Elim had talked about anything; part of him had enjoyed learning new things, part of him had enjoyed having a bit of a chance to show off, and part of him had just really, really liked having someone to talk to…

And now there’s a new, fascinating balance; now cerebral is tempered with, um, rather less than cerebral, and how will he balance the two? He doesn’t want to be boring, after all. There are so many things two people can talk about, so many topics to discuss, so many places to go to get new ideas, theatres and libraries and art galleries and coffee shops and, and, and…

And now it’s… mmm, less thoughtful. And considerably less talkative. Sometimes.

Can it work? Can it really work? If what made him spiral around Elim once upon a time was his mind, was his words, then if those are briefly removed from the equation… what’s left? Just bodies.

God, I am such a hypocrite! Just bodies indeed, just hands on hands, on arms, on legs, on all kinds of interesting things, new and very interesting, and perhaps they hadn’t been the main attraction at the very start of things but Julian Bashir, who are you trying to kid, they’re starting to be one hell of a draw. Elim’s hands on his shoulders, on his arms, on his face, smooth and sliding and leaving sparks—

Oof, and he laughs at himself, because there’s that kick to the gut again, that delicious little electric twist that sends him spinning: yes, yes, there are lots of interesting things to do with bodies, some he’s tried and tested and some fascinatingly new, and doesn’t he have an interesting person to do those interesting things with, doesn’t he have someone who likes to learn and likes to teach—

Oh, he exhales slowly, shakily, and Rij smiles at him across the table. Rij isn’t wrong. He could get lost in this. “Don’t forget to come up for air,” she says, and he thinks about it and then grins at her: to hell with it. He’s got a feeling Elim can teach him how to breathe underwater—

* * *

and the touch of your lips is a shock, not a kiss
it’s electric twist, it’s electric twist

* * *

—and so when Rij leaves, laughing, the first things he does is check his phone, and yes, there are texts, cryptic little things that leave him grinning, and his tapped reply makes his fingers tingle. He’s one big short circuit, vibrating voltage; he’s constantly surprised that his hair isn’t standing on end. Which it isn’t: he checks quickly in a window, and no, he’s fine, which is very good because not far from campus is a coffee shop, and he needs to get to that coffee shop as soon as humanly possible, so if his hair were standing on end it’d have to stay that way.

Up and out and moving and oh, he’s a generator, he’s buzzing with hormones, and the slap of sidewalk against his sneakers makes him tingle, makes the ache of thighs and calves complaining of lactic acid into a positive paean. He has to move, he has to run, he has forty-five minutes to class, and if he can be quick enough, every one of them can be filled with—

Elim. Sitting facing the coffee shop window, of course, hair slicked back and coat too heavy for the weather and big cup between broad-fingered hands and brows rising as he takes in the spectacle of a stupidly-limerent too-long too-thin med student loping his way at a dead run. I must look an idiot—oh, but it doesn’t matter, because look at him, look at the smile, the wide eyes!

The door is a momentary obstacle, dealt with decisively as the space between them shrinks, and there he is, the scent of him, the incredible fact that he’s real.

“Hello, Garak…!”

Hands out and reaching and meeting, and the shock of too-cool skin, soft palms touching his, the barest interlace of fingers, the hidden stroke of thumb against palm.

“Hello, my dear.”

And every word is glowing voltage-bright.

--a fine frenzy, “electric twist”