salienne: (DS9 Garak drinks)
[personal profile] salienne
Fandom: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Title: Better Judgment
Rating: NC-17
Characters: Garak/Bashir
Summary: Garak and Julian grow closer after the events of The Wire. Essentially a first-time PWP, with some exploration of the issues a relationship with Garak might entail.
Spoilers: “The Wire”, mention of “Crossover”
Beta: [profile] wemblee, the most awesomest person in the whole wide world who picks up on all those nuances I manage to miss
Disclaimer: DS9 belongs to the producers, the actors, the writers, and all the other professionals involved in the creation of the show.

“What was your favorite part?”

“Favorite part?”

“Of the book. Come on, Garak, you can't expect me to read all this Cardassian literature without asking you a single question in return.”

Garak leans back in his seat, away from the half-eaten lize-pilaff in front of him. He takes a moment to dab at his mouth with the napkin. “It's hard to say,” he says.

“How so?”

“Cardassians don't read books for favorite parts, doctor. We appreciate the interplay between the details and the whole. When it comes to mystery novels, the interesting part is the investigation, the betrayal, and finally the trial, when every character's role in the crime is revealed to the public and justice is served. One cannot simply choose a part of that whole at a whim.”

“All right,” Julian says. “What was your impression of A Study in Scarlet, then? It is one of the most famous mystery novels in Earth literature.”

“Oh it was very well-written, and the investigation was certainly full of marvelous twists and turns. The identity of the murderer, however... I must admit I found it to be rather simplistic.”

“Simplistic?”

“A single culprit? And no one to face punishment?”

Julian opens his mouth to respond, then shuts it again. Cultural differences. He certainly was learning a good deal about those lately. “Did you enjoy any of it?” he asks at last, though he's sure he's not going to get much further with that question than with the rest of this conversation.

“It was very.... linear.”

“Linear.”

“For the most part,” Garak says, before leaning forward and taking another bite of his meal.

---

It starts with a second lunch together every week. Perhaps it's because Julian is concerned about his patient's well-being, or perhaps it's simply too difficult for Garak to be surrounded solely by clothing and the sporadic customer now that he no longer has a chip in his brain making the loneliness bearable. Perhaps it's just the enjoyment of eating with a friend. Either way the routine shifts, expanding from a regular seat in the Mess Hall on Mondays to another at their restaurant of choice on Thursdays, and when Julian makes it back from the other universe he is not surprised at Garak's visit to the infirmary. To learn about the other Garak, to check on Julian. It doesn't really matter in the end.

If Julian is being honest with himself, he welcomes the company.

Soon there's a week missed due to an outbreak of Barisian fever, and then another due to an accident in Engineering, and somehow there's a fitting Garak can't reschedule—when Julian suggests dinner, Garak accepts. For some reason Julian finds himself nervous before the appointed time, fussing in a way he hasn't since Melora left the station. Has the replicator been set to the correct temperature? Will a Cardassian actually eat old Earth Chinese cuisine?

After Garak enters Julian finds that, unexpectedly, he has very little to say. That is, until Garak brings up the uncanny similarities between certain Cardassian and Earth philosophers, and Julian can hardly believe it when Garak states Machiavelli erred not in his justification of 'whatever means necessary' but simply in his judgment of appropriate ends. He was not ambitious enough. Julian makes his disagreement known.

Julian does go to sleep that night, and alone, but he does so late enough to be yawning for all of the following morning.

The next week Garak insists on preparing something, and despite the appearance of the Cardassian meal, Julian has to admit it's not bad. A bit sour when it comes to the eggs, and over-salted in parts, but certainly more edible than most of what can be found at Quark's.

“Really now, doctor,” Garak says. “Did you expect everything to come out of Cardassia to be poorly suited to your tastes?”

“Not everything,” Julian answers. He takes a sip of wine, his own contribution, and allows the words to settle between them. When he leaves Garak's quarters, he feels more than a little unsettled in his freshly tailored Federation uniform. The collar feels uncomfortably tight.

---

Their third dinner together, nearly two years after Garak first approached him on the Promenade about a plot and a suit, and the kiss is surprisingly normal. Garak's lips are cooler than those of other humanoids, but unexpectedly soft and pliant. His hands are steady on the sides of Julian's face. When Garak's tongue makes his way into his mouth, brushing against the tip of Julian's tongue, Julian runs his hands across the other man's back. He opens his mouth more fully, body still as Garak moves forward, and—

Oh. So that's what it feels like to have another man's erection against his. He had almost forgotten.

“The... the dishes,” he murmurs. Leftovers of chicken tikka masala sit in a bowl on the table, the smell of its spices lingering in the warm air. “I should really-”

Slipping a hand over Julian's collar, Garak says, “I think there might be more pressing matters to concern ourselves with.”

“Right.”

Garak kisses him again, and Julian allows himself to be turned and pushed against the table such that the dishes clang.

The ridges along the sides of Garak's neck form an interesting pressure against Julian's forearm. He runs a finger along them, followed by his tongue and, now and again, his teeth. The tops of the ridges are about as insensitive as he expected, but from the way Garak's breath catches when his lips move along the boundary between smooth skin and that with cartilage underneath, particularly at the curve of the neck, he knows he's found at least one erogenous zone.

As Garak slips a hand beneath his shirt, Julian deepens the kiss, their bodies pressing together in something approaching a rhythm. There's a coarseness to Garak's hands not seen in many humanoids, but from the chills he feels when Garak strokes his chest, then down to his navel, it's not exactly an unpleasant sensation. He runs his fingers along to the hem of Garak's sweater, tracing the skin with his nails. Thus far he has barely even gotten a taste of Garak's mouth, Garak's tongue blocking access in an entirely pleasurable way, and tightening his arms around Garak's waist Julian pushes back.

He is not expecting the low growl, a sharp tremble in Garak's chest. His head snaps back as Garak grabs him by the chin.

A thumb presses against Julian's jawbone. Two fingers dig deep right beside his throat.

Julian stands absolutely still, whether from shock or fear or perhaps something less appropriate, something not exactly befitting a doctor of the Federation. He stares into Garak's eyes and see an anger there, one that tells him he should not make any sudden moves right now, should probably reconsider breathing so harshly if so commanded. One that makes him want nothing more than to throw the dishes to the floor and be fucked senseless.

“Is this really what you want, doctor?” Garak's voice is low, and hoarse, and there is something like a warning in it—something that probably is a warning. “Knowing what you know, is this really want you want?”

Julian doesn't hesitate. Quite intentionally he doesn't think about the implications of Garak's words, not now, not after two years of banter that has been altogether too tame and pleasant. He nods.

Garak presses his lips against Julian's again, brushing skin against skin as Julian holds onto the edge of the table, closes his eyes, and simply allows himself to be touched. Garak's hands push up under his shirt. His palms are rough across Julian's abdomen, his ribs, his chest, and when the shirt is up near his neck Julian pulls it off and throws it to the floor. Tentatively he moves a hand to the side of Garak's face, deepening what has become a very shallow kiss, even as one of Garak's hands finds its way to the front of his pants.

Julian's body goes rigid, and he lets out a small moan.

Garak's hands remain where they are for several moments, stroking Julian through the fabric, and when they finally pull back Julian grabs Garak by the back of the head and kisses him deeply. Garak's hands are at his back now, even as Julian presses their pelvises together. Soon Garak's fingers are at his waistband, slipping under by his hip bones.

When Julian starts laughing, Garak stills, then pulls back. “Am I amusing you, doctor?”

“No. No, not at all.” Out of breath, the words are more difficult to come by than expected. His tongue and his lips feel thick. “I just had a thought of my last fitting at your shop.” Julian presses a hand to Garak's chest, still clothed, and then runs it down to his side. “The contrast is an interesting one.”

“Is this a fitting, doctor? It would certainly be the strangest one I've ever performed.”

“You don't do this often then?”

“Not nearly as often as I might like, no.”

“What a pity.”

“Extremely.”

This time when he's whirled around he's expecting it, and kissing and being kissed and walking backwards he somehow manages to keep his balance as he is led to his own bedroom. Having quarters this small has irritated him in the past, particularly when he first came aboard the station and the shine of new adventure faded to the reality of broken replicators and unpleasant odors that still lingered by the ducts of the Promenade. Now, however, he is grateful for the short distance between the dining table and his bed as he stumbles once, twice—four times if he's being honest—only to fall back on the bed. He finds himself acutely aware of how shirtless he is, how clothed Garak continues to be, as Garak kneels on top of him and begins to slide down Julian's pants.

“Garak,” he manages, “shoes.”

He regrets the words even before he finishes saying them, because Garak does, in fact, stop. His hands are at Julian's hipbones, Julian's erection still trapped by fabric that is becoming steadily more uncomfortable.

Garak pulls his hands away. He says, “Ah, of course,” before standing, followed shortly by Julian.

As Julian slips off his shoes, then his socks, he takes a moment to appraise Garak. He has never thought of himself as a bigot but he does admit he has never been particularly interested in Cardassians before, male or female. Their shared and hostile history, touching him even as shallowly as it did, soured that attraction. Now, as Garak strips off his clothes with a particular confidence Julian can't help but admire, he finds himself appreciating the unusual pallor and smoothness of the skin across Garak's chest, and even the strange configuration of dermal scales across his abdomen. Garak's shoulders are more muscular than he would have expected, the ridges less noticeable than with other Cardassians. The spinal ridge is pronounced, its sharpest rise just past his shoulder blades, until it flattens somewhere just beneath Garak's waistband. A waistband that falls quickly down.

Well, it's been a while since he's gotten a view like that outside of Sick Bay. He can't say he's disappointed.

Julian slips off the rest of his clothing. Noticing Garak's gaze on his own body, he straightens, clearing his throat. “Enjoying yourself, Garak?”

“Exceedingly.”

Garak's grip on Julian's shoulders is tight, and neither one of them bothers to keep any touch light or tender. Julian straddles the other man, nibbling his way down his throat and tracing the scales on his stomach with a fingers, taking note of every clench of the muscles before Garak grabs that hand and Julian wonders whether Cardassians might be ticklish. Before long the covers twist around them, twining around legs and torsos until they're kicked off the bed. Garak's mouth moves along the sinews of Julian's neck, no doubt as strange to him as Garak's body is to Julian, and when he bites down and sucks at the skin, far harder than expected, Julian moans and arches his back.

With some urging from Garak, Julian rolls onto his stomach. He lets out a shaky breath as Garak's hands run up his lower back, stroking muscles he didn't even know were sore. Soon Garak's mouth is by his ear.

“Doctor,” Garak says, “where might I find some form of lubrication?”

Even to himself, Julian sounds breathless. “Replicator.”

Typically the bedside table would be his answer, but Garak has caught him at an inopportune time—which, Julian notes, is probably why Garak appears so amused at that answer. He gets up and moves to the other room, and Julian takes the opportunity to take one of the pillows that had been stuck between the mattress and the wall. Hands beneath his head, he lies down on his back. Not for the first time he is grateful for having one of the few wider beds available here on the Station, even if it is hard as a rock with rounded edges that make any Starfleet-issue sheets impossible to use. For the life of him he can't figure out why anyone would design a sleeping apparatus so impossible to actually sleep on.

When Garak reappears in the doorway, Julian does not only reappraise the Cardassian form. He admires it. There's a symmetry to the ridges, almost a beauty, as if a sculptor had molded the rise and fall of the flesh outlining every bone pressed against the surface of the skin.

Well, Julian always knew he became sentimental when aroused.

As Garak kneels down on top of him, Julian cranes his neck to the side, allowing for greater access. He lets out a breath and shuts his eyes.

Several seconds later, he opens them again.

Garak, it seems, has not moved in the slightest. Not an arm, not a finger, and certainly not his mouth. Julian raises his eyebrows.

“I'm merely taking stock of the situation,” Garak says.

“Your findings, Garak?”

“A human who has become far too trusting despite what should be his better judgment.”

Julian smiles. He always does. “You know,” he says, sitting up, “I don't think you want me to use my better judgment right now. To be honest, I don't think you have for quite some time.”

“Really?”

“And I think,” Julian continues, putting a hand to the back of Garak's neck, “there will be far more appropriate times for this conversation.”

Julian takes Garak by the lips, and he pulls him back down.

Garak's skin is no longer cool but warm, softest just beneath his chin. Julian focuses on that area, nipping at it when he can, gasping and arching as Garak strokes his erection. He reaches down to return the favor—and it is then that Garak grabs his wrists and pins them to the mattress. He pushes the rest of Julian's body down with his own.

Garak runs his teeth down the curve of his neck and Julian groans, twisting his hands into the sheets. Taking a nipple into his mouth, Garak rolls it in a way that makes Julian hiss, and by the time he moves downward all Julian can think about is the way Garak's mouth will feel around his cock.

Julian gasps, arching his back as Garak's fingers dig into his hips. His eyes are shut, his body rigid, and he can't help the noises that escape from the bottom of his throat. There's something unique about the Cardassian tongue, the same shape and basic sensation but a slight difference to the texture, and Julian has just enough time to think about taste bud makeup before Garak makes a swirling motion and Julian cries out. His hips jerk up. His mind, for once, for just a moment, goes absolutely blank.

It stays that way for quite some time.

It is not long, however, before Julian feels a familiar tightness. He is close, so close, and he nearly growls in frustration when the question of whether he should really come this early pops into his mind.

“Garak.” His voice is low, and hoarse, and he receives little response if any, and damn it that hot pressure is building. “Garak.”

Julian reaches down and pulls Garak's hair, hard. That apparently gets his attention because the next moment Garak sits astride him, Julian's wrists pinned down once more.

“Turn over,” Garak says, and perhaps for the first time since they've met, Julian senses no evasion or misdirection in the other man's words. Just the shortness of his breath and the darkness of his pupils.

Julian is silent as he complies, and from behind him, he hears a bottle twist open. The cap tumbles to the floor.

“Garak,” he says, and his voice is quiet, “it's been a while. For this anyway.”

A pause, one so slight Julian might not have picked up on it had they not eaten lunch together at least once a week, every week, for the past two years. Then Garak says, simply, “I'll keep that in mind.”

Julian sucks in a breath as Garak presses a finger against his anus, massaging firmly but shallowly. The lubrication, whatever Garak has chosen, is cool, and Julian forces his body to relax. He breathes in deeply as Garak's fingers continue moving gently, too gently, for far too long, and he presses his forehead against his forearm as swathes of warmth trickle across his body.

When Garak finally slips a finger inside he groans. It has been years since he was a cadet in Starfleet, and after so much time spent exclusively as the one who inserts, he finds this position... not exactly unpleasant, but uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and vulnerable.

Julian has just enough time to worry over that and to remind himself, once again, to relax, to stop thinking, before Garak pushes in further and curves his finger, almost as if searching for something, probably—

Fuck. Garak.”

“Patience, doctor. Patience.”

Julian has a response to that, several in fact, but he can't be bothered with any of them. He clenches the pillow in a tight fist as Garak slowly introduces a second finger, then brushes against his prostate just enough to make him yearn for something besides sheets against his cock. He grits his teeth and presses his face into the fabric. With some effort, Julian prevents himself from rearing up and switching their positions so at least one of them could get on with it already.

He knows better than this. As a doctor, he knows the details of safe and pleasurable sex. He has taken all the vaccines, has kept up to date with nearly every practice and pathogen, has even counseled patients on how to best avoid a wide range of discomforts. But when it's yourself being forced to be patient...

“Garak,” he groans, and Garak's fingers still before pulling out entirely. Julian lies panting, waiting, and when he feels hands on his hips he pushes himself up onto his own hands and knees. Finally, it's not just fingers behind him.

With a hiss, Garak enters him slowly. Julian can feel every push, every centimeter, and when Garak is finally in fully, or at least as fully as can be given the anatomy involved, Julian takes a shaky breath.

“Are you,” Garak begins. “Is that-”

“Yes, yes. I'm fine.” These words, after all, are notably quicker to say than, I would very much appreciate it, Garak, if you would hurry it up and fuck me already.

Apparently Garak picks up on his none-too-subtle meaning, because finally, finally, he begins to move. His pace is steady, and it is kind, and the phrase too damn methodical keeps popping into Julian's head until something shifts. One of Garak's hands is on his hip, the other on the bed beside him, and soon Julian is grunting in time to a rhythm that shoves him forward, that makes his cock ache for just a touch. Without thinking Julian grabs Garak's hand. He twines their fingers together, Cardassian knuckles digging deep into his palm, and he clutches that hand with every thrust.

Again a pause, a moment of peculiarity for a man like Garak, and Julian has just enough time to wonder whether Garak is really reading that much into such a small action before Garak begins moving again.

His thrusts are harder now. Less precise, less controlled. Julian's shoulders burn and he falls forward, arms crumpled beneath him. The angle shifts, and Julian's breath catches, even as Garak pauses to reposition and starts again. Soon Garak's hand is gone from his and Julian braces himself against the pillows, only to grasp at the sheets as that hand closes around his cock.

It doesn't take much more for Julian. A fumbling for the lubricant, Garak's fist around him, Garak inside him, and he's crying out, his body clenching with every new wave of heat.

Julian sinks back to reality still braced on his arms, breathing heavily, absolutely exhausted, with Garak still inside him. The sensation is not quite as electric now, giving Julian the chance to feel something beyond the ache of almost there—the sweat on his back, the smack of Garak's hipbones against him, the fullness of the penetration, Garak's nails scraping at his thighs. Garak's thrusts grow more frantic and Julian finds himself fascinated by the grunts Garak makes, low but desperate, absolutely uncontrolled, and God if he could get hard right now he would.

During his orgasm, Garak does not make a single sound. His body tenses. His fingers dig into Julian's hips. Julian wouldn't be surprised if they bruised, and he wouldn't mind it much if they did.

Julian lies with his forehead on his hands as Garak pulls out of him. Just for a moment, he feels the round ridges of Garak's forehead against his back, perhaps even the press of lips on his shoulder blade.

Then the body is gone.

The light around them is bright, almost painfully so, and as the various liquids across his body begin to cool Julian sighs and pushes himself up. He is cold, and his mouth is dry and throat raw and sore, and somehow he doubts Cardassians—or perhaps just Garak—are all that interested in sharing body heat. “I'll be right back,” he says.

The bathroom is connected to the bedroom, just a few steps away, and Julian still manages to stumble. It doesn't take him long to clean up, but by the time he mutters, “Lights,” and collapses under the comforter Garak has gathered up from the floor, all he really wants to do is sleep. Vaguely he notices that Garak, too, slips out from under the covers and returns sometime later, though Julian can't be bothered to look over even as he feels the mattress shift under the additional weight.

It's a familiar exhaustion, and a pleasant one, but exhaustion nevertheless.

“Doctor.” Garak's voice is low, and kind, and Julian finds that tone both oddly soothing and oddly disconcerting. Which, he supposes, should not be all that surprising given the company.

Garak continues, “It may be a good idea for us to keep this recent development in our relationship a private matter.”

Julian never thought real people hit one another with pillows after sex, but perhaps that's simply because he's never been so tempted before. With some effort, he turns onto his side to face the other man. “Really, Garak?”

Head resting on his hand, as casual as can be, Garak answers, “I'm afraid I don't understand your confusion.”

“You want to have this conversation now?”

“Is there a better time?”

Julian sighs, massaging away his new-found headache. “How private,” he says, “is private?”

“How private would you think is private?”

“Garak.”

“All right, doctor. No need to be impatient. Let's just say there are certain parties known to either of us that could take the wrong impression from this evening's activities and could attempt to use them to their advantage. They could even put you or me in danger because of them.”

Julian pushes himself up, because even though the thought had crossed his mind it had crossed his mind in the same way fairy tales crossed his mind, or dreams of Jadzia in his bed had crossed his mind, before slipping happily back into that mental corral known as fantasy. “Are you saying that someone from Cardassia could try to hurt me to get to you?”

“Yes. I am.”

Taken aback by Garak's bluntness, Julian doesn't quite know what to say.

“And so long as we're being honest,” Garak continues, and there is no hint of playfulness to him now, “you knew that before you invited me into your quarters tonight. Now I would appreciate it if you would respect my wishes. Whatever else does or does not happen from this point forward, I suggest we keep the details of this encounter between us.”

Garak remains on his side for several long seconds, the shadows of his eyes no doubt fixed on Julian, and even after the Cardassian lies back down Julian does not move. He is irritated, and he is frustrated, and if he's being perfectly honest with himself of course he knew. From the moment Garak approached him on the Promenade he knew the man was dangerous, perhaps even a spy, and it's not as if he hasn't received plenty of confirmation.

But as a Starfleet doctor living aboard a space station at the edge of a wormhole, vulnerable to potential attack from the Cardassians at any moment, what was he supposed to do with that knowledge? Never leave his quarters? Fly back to Earth? Stop sharing meals with a friend?

When the chip in Garak's brain malfunctioned, was he supposed to just let the man die instead of risking a visit to the retired head of the Obsidian Order? Would Garak truly have preferred that?

Perhaps he hasn't thought this through, and perhaps he's being quite the hypocrite, but he's not the only one.

Julian falls back onto the pillow. This is a conversation worth having but he is tired, and his head really is starting to ache, and all he wants to do now is sleep.

“Whatever you say, Garak.” Julian rolls onto his back. “Good night.”

“Good night, doctor.”

Long after Garak's breaths have grown steady and deep, Julian lies awake, his eyes open to the darkness. Whatever this is, it is a bad idea, and he knows it. They both know it. But Julian is not a fool and he has known better for two years now, and he is quite certain neither one of them is going to act on that knowledge anytime soon.
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July 2011

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