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In the storeroom, under the cover of darkness and faint light, Quark was in the middle of closing a deal with a Yridian smuggler when something disturbed him.

A physical something.

A minuscule jostle underneath his thigh.

Quark froze.

“Is something the matter?” the Yridian asked, noting Quark’s reaction. “Was the amount not high enough? I can throw in a container of Livanian beets for your Lurian friend."

“No, it’s not the amount,” said Quark absently. He glanced down around him. “There’s something wrong with my chair. Or the floor, but I think it’s the chair...” He quickly looked back at the Yridian. “Anyway, I accept the beets offer.”

The Yridian nodded. He leaned in. “Don’t forget to check the bottom of the container later. For a little something extra.”

“Oh?” Quark also leaned in, trying to ignore the small wobble underneath his other thigh. He supposed one of his heavier customers was lumbering around outside. But if so, why wasn’t the rest of the furniture moving? The vibration was definitely under his legs -

“Bolian crystal steel,” the Yridian whispered. “I’ve been trying to get rid of it since last week. There’s been no takers now that they’ve just started identifying batches with serial numbers - but it’s rare and unreplicable.”

Quark grinned. His shoulders shimmied with anticipation. “I love a challenge!”

At that, the chair wobbled violently, rattling against the floor so much that even the Yridian noticed the movement.

The smuggler stood up. “I have to go.”

“Wait, no, please!” Quark pushed himself back from the table. “We just need to hash out a few final details, time and date of delivery -”

As Quark stood up, the chair started morphing underneath him, edges dissolving and rounding out into a gelatinous deep amber.

The Yridian could wait no longer. He tapped his combadge and shouted out an order, and before Quark could protest, the smuggler had transported out of the storeroom.

A shimmering tentacle shot out of the chair and yanked Quark back down into a sitting position, as the mass around him shifted and resolidified into -

“Odo!” Quark groaned. Ever since they had met, the new Chief of Security had been a thorn in his side, and now Quark had yet another method of surveillance to worry about. In any case, it was too late to get away from the Changeling now - Odo had an arm wrapped around his waist, and there was no hope of ever picking that lock. He was trapped.

“I’m apprehending you, Quark. As I'm sure you're aware, that Yridian is a notorious smuggler -”

“Nonsense! We’re old friends, catching up,” Quark insisted.

“If you’re old friends, then what’s his name?”

“His name?” Quark paused. “It’s… Koret.”

“You know very well that’s not Yridian,” said Odo dryly. “Flipping the station’s name around for your falsified information? Pathetic.”

Whatever, Odo. What’s in a name, anyway?” Quark sighed. His jacket had ridden up at some point and without the added barrier of his heavy jacket fabric, Quark became exceedingly aware that only a couple thin layers of cloth separated his body from Odo’s. “Now stop being a chair and let me get up already!”

“I’m no longer a chair. As you can see, I have become my customary humanoid form once more.”

“You have not.” Quark turned around to look Odo in the eyes. “I’m still sitting on you.”

“That is a fact,” Odo said in that infuriatingly patronizing tone of his. “But as you can see, I have also resumed my normal set of limbs and their accompanying proportions.”

“Nothing about you is normal,” Quark sniped. He derived a smug bit of satisfaction from Odo’s darkened expression, though he did feel a little guilty about it. Quark had often picked up on Odo’s sensitivity to being so unique, and Quark usually tried to be more creative with his insults than that, but he was still pissed off at Odo interrupting what could have been a perfectly lucrative transaction. “Anyway, yeah, I guess you’re more or less your usual, abnormal self. Speaking of which - how are we balancing right now?”

“I added some extra legs,” Odo snarled. His was disturbingly close to Quark’s ear at this point, so close that Quark could feel the extra vibrations required for a snarl. Odo’s chin almost rested on Quark’s shoulder, and his chest was pressed firmly against Quark’s back - usually people didn’t get so close to him. If Odo had a heartbeat for Quark to hear, the nearness would be enough to make a Ferengi light-headed.

“...Do you mean humanoid legs or chair legs?” Quark asked, distracted. He wondered what other ‘extra’ items Odo was capable of sprouting and started blushing tangerine at the thought. Odo felt so… firm underneath him.

“Chair legs,” Odo replied. “But for you, I can turn them into humanoid legs, though I suppose that would look abnormal.”

“Yeah, abnormal,” Quark said absently. The mental image of an additional set of limbs, and perhaps also a thick other ‘limb,’ made him squirm in Odo’s lap. “Oh no.”

“What is it?” Odo held him even more tightly in reaction to the squirming and Quark stifled a whimper at the force, at how the friction increased against his backside. There wasn’t a hump where he would have customarily expected a hump, but it was still enough of a pressure to remind Quark of… less customary actions.

“I’m, uh…” Quark squirmed again, trying to readjust himself on Odo’s lap while simultaneously trying not to think about being held on Odo’s lap (and forcibly so, his mind added unhelpfully).

“You’re what? Stop moving around, you’re not going to wriggle yourself out of this.” Odo’s mouth hovered so close to Quark’s ear - just outside of actually touching him. The sound vibrations still affected him, though - it was worse than the Tympanic Tickle, and Quark couldn’t completely stifle his whimper this time.

“Odo, please don’t…”

“Don’t what? ” Odo growled. His voice grew rougher and deeper the more irritated he became. “Quark, we are going directly to a holding cell after this, but first you are going to tell me exactly what your strategy is, you devious little miscreant.”

“Ohhhh Blessed Exchequer,” Quark breathed shakily. The growls, the snarls, the rough sounds, the constant friction that he felt through his clothing - he was hard now, and he knew it. Quark started panicking. What could he do? His hands were free, but he couldn’t possibly try to reach - could he?

“Quark?” Something about the Ferengi’s quiet panic had clearly given Odo pause. “You’re trembling.” He sounded uncertain. “Am I restraining you with excessive force?”

“Mrghmgf,” Quark replied. Why did Odo have to say the word force? He spread his legs slightly, trying to reduce the tightness in his pants - and Odo, whose grip around his waist had relaxed to accommodate his movements, accidentally brushed against his crotch. Quark flinched and whimpered again, louder this time, so loud that Odo went still.

“Are you hiding something?” Odo asked, too startled to sound intimidating. He sounded so bewildered, so naive, that Quark couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I am, but it’s not a weapon or anything.” Quark’s eyelids grew heavy as he turned to look back at Odo again, too overstimulated to leer properly. “Although I guess it could be, depending on how you view it.”

At Odo’s glowering, humorless glare, Quark quickly added, “It’s not a weapon. It’s just, uh, a physical reaction. You know. From all the… contact.”

“I don’t know,” Odo replied. “So what is it?” Odo rested his chin on Quark’s shoulder to keep their eyes level, and Quark felt an unexpected flutter of emotion. In another lifetime, this would be a lover’s embrace - but Odo’s expression was one of simple curiosity, without any glimpse of affection or attraction for Quark. Mere curiosity.

“You really don’t know?” Quark was incredulous. Odo had asked him if his earlier attempt at providing an alibi for the Bajoran was a sexual reference, so Odo had to have had some idea of what sex was - or did he?

“I do not. Explain.”

With no one else in the storeroom - the doors were locked from the inside, there was no chance of anyone else barging in, at least not through the doors - Quark figured he might as well take this opportunity to educate the poor Changeling.

“It’s an erection,” Quark said simply. His face grew hot. “It occurs when a man is aroused. Uh, because of sexual stimulation.”

“Oh.” Odo’s arm around Quark’s waist went rigid, the realization tensing his entire body. “Oh, Quark. I never intended to… arouse you.”

“Yeah, clearly.” Quark bit his lip, somehow still turned on. “Um, unfortunately, it’s not really going away.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

Quark blushed. He could think of innumerable things and it was only making the tightness in his pants worse. But Odo was so clearly out of his element that it didn’t seem fair to ask anything of the Changeling. Finally, Quark said: “Odo, just leave me alone. I can take care of it myself.”

“Quark, please let me help.” Odo’s voice was gruff again, but this time with remorse. “I’m sorry if I... sexually contacted you without your consent.”

“No, that’s not it,” said Quark, frustrated all over again. He hadn’t expected Odo to actually feel sorry . Tears started forming at his inability to will his erection away and pretend this whole thing never began in the first place. “I mean that’s kind of it, but you didn’t mean to, and -”

“You’re crying,” Odo said with alarm. His voice increased in volume until he was almost barking at the Ferengi. “Quark, I apologize, please tell me what I can do!”

“Odo, the only thing you can do is let go of me, okay?” Quark angrily rubbed at his eyes. He tried to stand up abruptly, but Odo was still holding onto him and they both tumbled down to the floor. Quark landed on Odo’s chest with a thump. He couldn’t believe it - the Changeling’s arm was still around him. “Seriously, let go.

“Quark.” Odo tilted the Ferengi’s head up so they could make eye contact. “Please. I want to help.”

“Odo, do you know what consent is? Sexual consent,” Quark clarified. He could not believe he was having this conversation. He also couldn’t believe that his erection was still not going away - if anything, it was getting worse now that Odo’s leg was between his thighs.

“I think I do.” Both of Odo’s hands tentatively rested on Quark’s waist, as if he were afraid Quark would break.

“Because I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to do.” Quark felt strangely tender towards Odo at this moment. Poor Odo, alone in the universe, clearly unworldly in comparison to Quark. “Consent is… complicated in Ferengi culture.”

“That’s all right.” Odo gazed at him. “Admittedly, I don’t have sexual organs. And I wouldn’t know where to begin when it comes to shapeshifting them, unless I consulted a medical reference. Which I plan to do, later, but it's of no use now. But I believe I can still help you. Now. And I want to help you.”

Quark blinked. “Well, if you insist, there are ways.” He’d have to follow up with Odo later about shifting those organs. “Perhaps the simplest is just to, uh. Increase the friction between us.”

He gasped when Odo suddenly rolled over and pinned him to the floor, knee firmly between Quark’s thighs, brushing up hard against Quark’s crotch.

“Like this?”

Quark moaned at the sudden rough treatment, but he also couldn’t help but feel delighted at Odo’s playfulness. It was all so absurd. He laughed.

Odo smiled down at him, relieved that things seemed to be improving.

“That’s good,” Quark said, resisting the urge to hump Odo’s knee shamelessly. “Though, just for your information, being on the floor isn’t ideal - usually there’s a bed or some kind of softer surface involved.”

“Hmm.” Odo glanced around the storeroom, and paused at a corner. Quark followed his glance and saw a rolled-up militia blanket, the one he kept around in case of emergencies - or certain less savory transactions - and his good humor faded somewhat. But Odo couldn’t possibly have any idea. When Quark looked back at Odo, he saw Odo nodding over to the blanket. “Will that do?”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Quark said, somewhat subdued.

Odo seemed disturbed by the change in tone. “Quark?”

“It’s fine,” Quark said, and amped up the brightness in his voice. “It’s perfect!”

Odo regarded him for a moment. “All right, then.”

Much to Quark’s surprise, Odo lifted him up in his arms, one arm behind Quark’s back and another crooked underneath Quark’s knees, and started walking.

“What are you doing?” Quark yelped.

“Carrying you over. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“How strong are you?” Quark asked.

“I suppose I’m fairly strong, by Bajoran standards. But you don’t weigh much, so this isn’t a strenuous effort, if you’re concerned.”

“I’m not concerned,” said Quark. He felt safe in Odo’s arms. It was a strange feeling. “Just impressed.”

Odo grunted in acknowledgement.

Upon approaching the blanket, Odo kicked it over, then extended some additional tentacles to unroll the blanket on the floor, which Quark watched with fascination. Odo kept glancing between Quark and his tentacles like he was waiting for Quark to make a comment. When Quark didn’t, the Changeling seemed minutely more relaxed. He then gently set Quark down onto the blanket, and knelt next to him.

The strange flutter went through Quark again. He looked up at Odo’s face, which was still devoid of affection or attraction, yet seemed... softer than before. A thought occurred to him. Quark asked Odo, “This doesn’t make you feel anything, does it?”

“What should I feel?” Odo’s voice was curious, nothing more.

“...Nothing. I’m just messing with you,” Quark said.

“Quark.” Odo crouched over him. “What should we do now? How would you normally handle the situation?”

“Ohh, uh.” Quark blushed again, thoughts of oo-mox flashing through his mind. And then, thoughts of oo-mox in front of Odo, with Odo watching him. A sharp jolt of arousal coursed through him and he swallowed hard - he’d have to explore that voyeuristic side another time.  Quark cleared his throat. “There’s… here, I’ll show you.”

Quark reached a hand up to his ear and began stroking it, blushing furiously at Odo’s watchful, inquisitive gaze.

“I see.” Odo reached a hand down, hesitating right above Quark’s ear. “May I?”

Quark nodded, and Odo closed the distance.

“Oh!” Quark jerked up sharply at Odo’s light, careful touch. Odo pulled his hand away, alarmed, and Quark quickly grabbed for it. “No, that’s okay.” He placed Odo’s hand back against his ear, shivering - he had gone so long without oo-mox that he had completely underestimated the thrill of feeling someone else’s hand on his lobes. Another moan escaped him as Odo resumed his strokes, and before Odo could pull away again, Quark quickly explained, “That’s normal. That means I like it.”

“Normal,” Odo repeated, looking relieved.

“Yeah. Normal.” Quark breathed out a shaky moan when Odo started caressing his other ear on his own, both hands moving in tandem. Quark let his own hands fall to either side of his head, wrists up. He closed his eyes. Odo’s smooth, cool skin was such a novel texture - much easier to concentrate on with his eyes closed. “Oh, that’s wonderful.”

Odo seemed lost in the sensations as well, concentrating so hard that he fell silent. The only sounds in storeroom were Quark’s whimpers and moans, desperate sounds that Quark had to assure Odo weren’t sounds of pain or unhappiness - completely the opposite, Quark informed Odo throatily. Very much the opposite of pain.

“How do I know when you’re done?” Odo asked. He was leaning close to Quark again, and maybe it was a goo thing or maybe Quark was just so incredibly overstimulated already, but the vibrations from Odo’s voice seemed to travel through Odo’s hands straight to Quark’s ears.

Quark arched up, choking back another moan so he could speak. “Believe me, you’ll know. Keep that up and it won’t be long.”

“Keep what up?”

“Talking like that.” Quark’s face grew hot again. “Deep. Low. Rough.”

“Fascinating,” Odo said in wonder. “I’ve never read that in my Bajoran literature.”

“It’s not a Bajoran thing, it’s a Ferengi thing.”

“I see.” Odo growled experimentally and Quark cried out, arousal almost overwhelming him. “That seems like immense power.”

“Yeah, I know,” Quark gasped. “It’d be so easy to abuse.”

Odo grew quiet. “I would never.”

“I know.”

Odo’s next question was not at all what Quark was expecting. “May I undo your trousers?”

Quark’s eyes flew open. “Excuse me?”

“It does not appear you have… sufficient room, down there,” Odo said. And once he mentioned it, Quark realized, uncomfortably, that the Changeling was correct. “It might help if you didn’t have your trousers on.”

“But…” That would be wrong, Quark wanted to say, but Quark wasn’t about to launch into an explanation of Ferengi gender norms, not when Odo’s hands were so deliciously light and nimble on his lobes.

Faced with Quark’s obvious discomfort, Odo added tentatively, “I think I can make it good for you. May I?”

“Um.” No one had ever said that to Quark before - he had to see this through. “Okay, sure.”

He lay there in a daze as Odo extended another tentacle to gently undo his fastenings and pull down his pants, while simultaneously remaining attentive with the oo-mox, so deft, so clever, that Quark barely registered the cold air of the storeroom prickling his legs, or Odo settling in between them, until Odo loomed over him again, looking thoughtful as he slowed down his ministrations on Quark’s ears.

“You liked this earlier,” Odo stated quietly, then thrust a knee between Quark’s naked thighs.

Quark arched up against him with a high-pitched whine. Fuck!

“You mentioned friction,” Odo rasped deliberately. “I’ve decided to apply it directly.”

Quark barely heard anything Odo was saying - he was too busy concentrating on the low tone vibrating through his ears and the hard knee rubbing up against him and preventing his thighs from closing together. Odo had him at his mercy and Quark was terrified at how much he enjoyed it.

“Quark?”

The sound of his name made Quark whimper again. He kept his eyes locked on Odo, whose pupils never dilated, whose face never betrayed any involuntary sign. Odo was just curious, Quark told himself. This was like a science experiment for the Changeling.

A really hot, sexual science experiment.

He was close. He was so close, and -

“I observed another… movement that you liked earlier,” Odo continued.

Quark garbled a reply. It was mostly a moan with a questioning lilt at the end.

At Quark’s moan, Odo sharply leaned backwards, pulling Quark with him until Quark was straddling his lap, legs on either side of Odo’s torso. With his fingers digging into Quark’s sides, Odo brought their bodies flush together, his gaze never leaving Quark’s face, and growled Quark’s name - deep, low, and rough.

It was too much for Quark. He jerked against Odo’s front, gasping, then collapsed against the Changeling, shaky breaths rocking his entire body.

Quark felt utterly wrung out. Damn. And Odo was - did Odo even get anything out of it? Quark had never been on the receiving end of so much one-sided sexual attention. A sob shook Quark’s shoulders at the thought of the Changeling being so nice to him.

“Quark.” Odo gently lowered them both back down onto the blanket. “You’re crying again. Did I do something wrong?”

“No, it was perfect,” Quark sobbed and was unable to keep himself from sobbing.

“But why are you crying?”

“It doesn’t matter. Just… come here, okay?”

He reached up and pulled Odo down by the neck, slowly, so they were face to face. Quark was almost afraid that Odo would wrench his head back - but Odo just kept looking at him, waiting to see what the Ferengi would do next.

Quark closed his eyes and brought their noses together in a nuzzle. Odo didn’t pull away. He nuzzled Quark back, echoing Quark’s gesture, and Quark shuddered against him, sniffling.

“Was that a kiss?” Odo asked. “I think I’ve observed this before. A sign of affection between Ferengi.”

“Between Ferengi and anyone, really,” Quark said softly. He stopped crying.

“It’s nice.” Odo nuzzled him again and Quark laughed.

“Are you just mimicking me?” Quark asked, and his laughter quieted when Odo hesitated to answer. “...Right. I’ll take that as a yes.”

Odo didn’t correct him, and Quark realized, almost numbly, that he was actually disappointed. Then he hated himself for feeling that way. Idiot, you bet too soon!

Quark pulled Odo’s arms around him, determined to at least get a cuddle out of this. “Well, thanks. That was… fun.”

“That was,” Odo said. He didn’t remove his arms, and Quark felt that strange flutter again. He had to remind himself that this wasn’t real. That this all started from a misunderstanding, from Odo interfering with his profits. That it didn’t mean anything beyond a simple exchange of cultural ignorance for cultural knowledge.

Nevertheless, Quark felt more satisfied than he had in years.

“Quark?”

“Yeah?”

“When I consult those medical references - and if you are amenable to it, of course - the next time shouldn’t be in a storeroom.”

Quark stared at him. “What?”

“If you are okay with a next time.” And Odo sounded uncertain, his arms tensing around Quark. “If you consent to a next time. With me.”

It had never occurred to Quark that Odo could ever be the one feeling insecure, and the realization struck Quark dumb.

Unused to a silent Quark, Odo continued talking. “I have no use for a bed, but I imagine a bed would be more comfortable for you.”

“Oh, definitely.” Quark bit his lip. “Um, but you don’t have… a nervous system, right? So what would you get out of it?”

Odo looked contemplative. “Do I need to get anything out of it?”

“Well. You don’t have to,” said Quark. He felt suddenly sad. “And I guess without nerves to feel… other things, yeah, you don’t need to. But you might want to. It’s even more fun when both people feel pleasure.”

“Does that always happen with you?”

Quark looked away. “I’d better get up. Get myself clean.”

Odo watched him get himself freshened up. “Quark?”

“You’re a busy man, Odo.” Quark refused to look at him again as he pulled on his pants, trying to forget how gently Odo had removed them. “I’m sure you have other things you need to do. Crimes to investigate.”

“That reminds me...”

Quark froze. He had forgotten about the Yridian.

“...I should be going.”

Was that it? Quark turned around to look at Odo, only to see the Changeling dutifully propping the rolled-up blanket back against the corner of the storeroom.

Almost in spite of himself, Quark wanted to ask Odo if there was anything else - but decided not to press his luck. He had done enough gambling for the day.

They walked out of the storeroom together in silence.

But before Odo turned to head back to the security office, he leaned in close, lips gently brushing Quark's ear. "Stay on your toes, Quark. You never know what I'll become next."

Dazed, Quark watched the Changeling walk out of the bar, and broke into a smile.