Jake's been sitting in his room, in the dark, trying to think of a better word to describe his current situation than "sulking", when the bell rings. He sighs. "Come on in, I guess," he says. Whoever's gonna lecture him now, it can't be any worse than Dad, or Nog.
It's Garak. Jake climbs to his feet, tries to remember where he'd stuffed the sewing thing he'd borrowed during their... experiment. "Mr. Garak! Uh, hi."
"Mr. Sisko," Garak says politely. He holds out a PADD, one of Jake's rough copies of Anslem. "I thought you might want this back. Forgive my impertinence," he adds, "but I took the liberty of reading through the story over the course of this last week. I had the copy on hand as part of our ruse, and it seemed a shame not to read it."
"Yeah?" Jake takes the PADD, swallows down a rush of nerves. "What did you think?"
"Surprisingly intelligent, for a piece of human literature." Jake raises an eyebrow. "No offense meant, of course," Garak adds hastily.
Jake laughs. "It's okay, Mr. Garak. Dr. Bashir warned me about your tastes in fiction before I approached you."
"He thought I was just going to ask you to look over it, offer some suggestions."
Garak considers that. "Not a bad alternative, I suppose. But your actual request was much more... interesting." He smiles. It's kind of creepy. "You did a very respectable job playing the part of me, pretending to be you."
"Thanks? You too, I think." Jake notices suddenly that Garak has been hovering in the doorway this whole time. Another thing for Dad to be mad at him about: bad manners. "Come on in, sit down."
Garak gets an alarmed look on his face. "I don't think - "
"I know the place isn't much, and I can't offer anything to drink, but I've got something of yours to return too. If I could just remember where it is..." He waves Garak inside.
Garak enters warily, like he thinks something might jump out of nowhere and attack him. When Jake thinks about it, he guesses it isn't unwarranted. The guy doesn't exactly have a lot of friends on the station.
It made Jake pretending to be him easier. Hadn't made Jake pretending to be Garak pretending to be Jake easier, though.
The whole thing had been a bit of a trip - exactly the kind of thing Jake needed to get through this next part of Anslem. He'd known since the beginning that one of his characters was keeping a huge secret, pretending to be something she wasn't, but getting inside her head had been impossible. He'd been stuck on the reveal for weeks before the idea hit him: he knew a person who'd been in nearly the same situation. Why not ask Garak for his perspective?
Garak had tried to explain it, but it got so confusing that in the end Jake had suggested Garak show him instead of telling him. They decided on the lie they would live - a powerful alien switched Jake's brain with Garak's, to be undone when they had both "learned their lesson" - and then went about their lives, pretending that they were pretending there was nothing wrong.
It was just supposed to be a mental exercise, and only for a week, but Jake had apparently acted oddly enough that it got Nog's attention - not to mention Dad's. The same thing happened to Garak, with Constable Odo and Ziyal, and the next thing Jake knew they were getting scanned by Dr. Bashir and asked all kinds of questions by Dad and Major Kira about the alien who'd done this.
The whole thing took longer to fall apart after that than it should have. People were still mad at them. Well, mostly at Jake; they expected this kind of thing from Garak, apparently.
Jake finally finds the sewing thing - it had fallen behind his bed at some point - and gives it back just as a question he'd put aside reoccurs to him.
"Could I ask you something?"
Garak smiles. "Of course, Mr. Sisko." No guarantee that he'll answer honestly, or at all. Jake gets that now.
"The hand thing you told me to use with Ziyal... what does that mean?"
"Nothing in particular, it's a simple Cardassian gesture of greeting and farewell." He watches Jake, unblinking. "Why do you ask?"
Jake shrugs. "She got this look on her face when I did it the first time. And her skin went a little blue, here," he says, pointing to his forehead.
"Blue?" Garak says, still watching Jake carefully.
"Just a little."
"Really, Ziyal," Garak mutters. "It's nothing to concern yourself with, Mr. Sisko," he adds, wearing one of those slightly creepy smiles. "You did very well, as I said."
"Okay," Jake says, not really buying it. "That's all I wanted to know. Thanks for your help."
"It has been my great pleasure to assist you, Mr. Sisko," Garak assures him, taking his leave.
Jake taps a finger against the side of his PADD thoughtfully for a minute. "Computer? Note to self: ask Dr. Bashir what blue skin means for a Cardassian."