Note: So I couldn't help writing the second part here because there's still just so much that needs to be told and explored in this story and world. This was a blast and Parmak was especially well, you'll see. Also, there's something about Garak being a little pudgy that does thing to me so I threw that in as well. Hope you all enjoy and thank you!
"Kelas Parmak is a dick magnet." Garak's words are the first thing that come into his head when Julian enters the studio and catches sight of him. Garak had made that comment this morning and Julian had replied smartly asking if he also had to have it. Garak had shot him a withering look but really, he was being overly dramatic and ridiculous as always which was reason number one that Julian summoned every ounce of willpower that he'd ever possessed in his life and ignored that urge to just fall into bed with him when they returned home the night of his disastrous date. He wanted to. God did he ever want to. Garak half draped over him as he helped him into their apartment and into bed was almost too much for him to handle. He was solid and thick, and Julian couldn't help but think of that Salt N Pepa song that his classmates used to sing; though he was sure if he rang up Garak's mother in the middle of the night to thank her for his backside it wouldn't exactly go over well. His own mother had thrown that cassingle in the garbage leaving his father to rescue it with a wink and an extracted promise that Julian would never let her catch him listening to it again.
Not that Garak only had a fabulous ass but he was thick (did Julian already tick that one off? well it bore repeating) and wonderfully soft around that thickness, the soft pudge of his belly was one Julian wanted desperately to bury his face in and taste those soft little scales like a mighty dragon and... Alright so perhaps he'd discovered he had a wicked attraction to Cardassians all over the body spectrum but if there was one thing he'd learned in watching Garak's trash diva television it was that a man needed to be okay with what got his motor running and Garak got his something awful. Alas, even if Julian wasn't trying to avoid diving into some inescapable drama mess and ruin his friendship with Garak, Garak was drunk and Julian wasn't about to assume he'd be just as ready to go when he was sober. He was pretty sure he ended up jerking it half raw that night after Garak had declared that he wanted to climb him like a tree and show him exactly what the Cardassian neck trick was. Julian could imagine, oh could he ever imagine.
Perhaps Parmak also knows the Cardassian neck trick, Julian finds himself thinking as he watches the gaggles of students- primarily male students, Julian notes- surrounding Parmak at the end of class. The blast of hot air had hit him full in the face as he opened the door to the main yoga room and he was glad the linen shirt he wore was at least short sleeved in the heat of summer; according to Garak, Cardassians believed that air conditioning like "Boston Legal" or "The Practice" were an affront to decency. Thankfully, he'd adapted to the swamp that was their apartment and was blessedly allowed a room unit for when it grew unbearable. But the yoga studio is a challenge even for his heat adaptation. Or perhaps that's its proprietor, his brain traitorously supplies. Nevertheless, he shoulders on. Julian has desperate need of advice because god he just doesn't know what to do about Garak and if there's anyone who ought to know Garak at least reasonably well enough to provide some sage counsel it should be his oldest friend.
That was his thought when he finally had a day off after one of the worst cases of kennel cough they'd seen from the local shelters and he was on constant call in case of emergency. It had left him with little time home and horrendous hours but it also let him avoid Garak rather easily after that awful and awkward morning after. Julian remembered Parmak telling him that he had a studio in the Village and it wasn't hard to google the only Hebetian Meditation and Healing clinic in the entire metropolitan area. Julian decided it would be better to shoot him a text and drop in between classes rather than pay him a visit at his apartment because lord only knew what Garak would make of that. I can't believe he really threatened to hang a helpless old man from the rafters by his hair. Alright, after a second look at Parmak, Julian is coming to realize that he may very well have to rethink a few things here...
Garak has still been moping around the house irrationally stewing and Julian had explained that he just needed time and it was Garak who started this anyway when he first moved in by going on and on about the sanctity of the home, roommates, all that other nonsense and how was Julian supposed to know that all the while he was apparently lusting after Julian's form? Alright, so perhaps Julian shares some of that responsibility since apparently Garak has also been laboring under the completely awful misconception that Julian finds him too old (never) or too fat (luscious more like, thank you!) thanks to some weird mental catalogue of offhanded remarks he's made about Parmak. But when Garak lies about everything from his age (which is odd since Julian had always thought Cardassians took pride in their middle years) to his father's occupation (right, Garak's father is really the head of the Cardassian Obsidian Order) how was he supposed to believe that the two of them were actually the same age?
And then there were the stories! Julian up until now, had no idea what bizarro world Garak's version of Kelas Parmak supposedly originated from. Parmak occasionally dropped in bundled just as impractically as Garak in all but the hottest weather and on those days Garak would always go over there for some reason. Scratch that, Parmak was always far more insulated than even Garak with his heavy sweaters, baggy wool slacks, and ever present beanie. He was supposedly taller than Garak, as tall as Julian but with a stoop like he'd spent a decade in a work camp or something how could anyone tell? Top that off with some large round silver spectacles that were always slipping on his nose, white hair pulled back like some old hippie shuffling around the apartment mumbling to himself and there was the "ravenous power bottom" that Garak was always going on about? Of course Julian just assumed he was lying!
Julian's often wondered if the man isn't in fact senile even, but Garak has always retorted smartly that Julian's just falling for the "innocent old Parmak" front while following up with some ludicrous licentious tale involving Parmak and a bar full of Cardassian expats in Shanghai or some other ridiculous lie. Julian was certain it was just some odd joke at his expense. He couldn't even believe that the two of them had went to school together when Garak said it the first time, was sure Parmak had to be at least fifteen years older than Garak. Alright well, lesson learned. Lesson learned, indeed.
He's not thinking that now as his peripheral vision barely makes note of the beige and green painted walls with some new age unity tapestry that Julian is completely not surprised to see. He's almost positive that Parmak also has a "Coexist" bumper sticker on his ancient green Geo Metro next to the "Bernie 2016" he once caught a glimpse of. What does surprise Julian isn't so much a single thing as he blatantly stares at Parmak, but a cascading double you tee eff waterfall that nearly drowns him. He's positive that's why he forgets to breathe when Parmak looks his way, blinking, squinting, then beaming a myopic smile in his direction as he finally recognizes him.
"You think you know Kelas Parmak," he hears Garak repeating in his head like a mantra, "But let me tell you a little something about Kelas Parmak..." The Garak in his head gives a sassy triple snap at that and dear god it has to be the heat because why else would he be hallucinating? The man who waves at him and steps out from the disappointed crowd of… students? Admirers? Some sort of weird harem? is a far cry from the stooped and mumbling old dotard who pops in to exchange old books with Garak and drone on about old television. He's standing up tall for one, he's not wearing his glasses- which would explain the squinting-, his hair is pulled into some messy man bun instead of its usual braid, sweaty, strands stuck around his face which Julian actually has a clear view of for once without the hat and it's…
God in heaven, please tell me I'm being Punk'd and the real Parmak is in his office having a laugh at my expense… Stunning, really. Like Garak, like a lot of Cardassians he's encountered, there's an ageless quality to his face save for a few extra ridges, thicker scales around the forehead, brilliant blue eyes looking over at him, and Julian seriously owes Garak an apology. But it's more that than, no, that in and of itself is a bit odd but that's hardly what's caught his attention, causing him to blatantly stare with his mouth agape. What's making him suddenly incredibly thirsty aside from the heat of the yoga room is the slim body draped in the tightest, shortest little black shorts that Julian has ever seen in his life outside a strip club- Jadzia drug him there on his birthday last year not that he goes to those sorts of places on his own- and a black t shirt damp with sweat clinging to him like a second skin. Julian really needs to shut his mouth or say something or pinch himself or wave back, stupid!
Right, he can do that. Julian waves at him, ignoring the smart looks up and down from the group of young men as Parmak politely begs off and Julian has a flash to that episode of Drag Race with Mimi Imfurst and gives two of the especially muscular looking fellows a wide birth. He can hear Garak in his head with a particularly vicious "sashay away" at the lot of them and he barely has enough time to wonder when Garak started talking to him like an unwelcome ghost since Parmak is standing in front of him with a particularly lovely smile. Julian is almost afraid to look anywhere but Parmak's face, that glimpse of fabric around his waist, his hips, those bare arms showing far more Cardassian flesh than he's ever had chance to feast his eyes on. Wow, who knew scales could shimmer like that when damp? Who knew that little collarbone dip could turn a darker gray, that the stomach had such a lovely pattern of scales that he's getting just the tiniest glimpse of-
"Doctor Bashir, I'm glad you could make it! I know we haven't had much opportunity to speak, for which I take full blame as busy as I've been, but as Elim considers you one of his dearest friends, I'm honored that you've come to me for counsel."
"I..." Julian thought his voice was done cracking in high school but apparently not. He swallows with another start, daring his eyes to have another sweep, and yes, those legs are just as long, just as toned, those bare arms wrapped in lean sinewy muscle still look exquisite, would look even better splayed out to the sides on Julian's mattress and he's so screwed. He's completely and utterly screwed and hopelessly in lust and a million "I told you so's" are once again hovering on sassy head ghost Garak's lips.
No... no, I am not giving him the satisfaction again. It's just Parmak, it's just weird old mumbly Parmak- ...asking Julian to follow him to his office so they can speak more privately before his next class apologizing for his disheveled appearance with a self deprecating little smile that's not sexy! Well he should be apologizing, Julian thinks in spite of himself as his eyes track what has to be hands down about the tightest most fabulous ass he's ever seen next to Garak's. Apples and oranges, Julian or rather apple bottom and peach and so stop thinking about it, walking away from him. Apologizing for hiding that for the last two years under ten layers of clothes, under that stoop, that stupid hat and the two of them have both probably been snickering up their shirtsleeves at me this entire time...
"Doctor Bashir?" Parmak asks, looking back a bit blindly and Julian realizes his feet are still stuck to the floor, eye still stuck to Parmak's body and he shakes his head with an embarrassed laugh.
"S-Sorry I... ah... if I may be frank with you em..."
"Kelas, Doctor Bashir," Parmak, that is Kelas replies with a soft amused laugh. "I think I've been coming around enough drinking your tea that you can call me Kelas. Unless that's too presumptuous of me?" he asks looking mildly concerned. Julian's head nearly flies off his shoulders, whipping his back and forth.
"On no no not at all please, call me Julian." He's almost afraid that Garak will pop out of a closet as he shoots Kelas a smile. Oh come one, Julian, what does it matter what Garak thinks about you talking with Kelas? The two of you aren't dating, you may very well never be dating his infuriating, jealous, witty, gorgeous... oh god I don't need this right now.
"Right," Parmak nods, "Julian." He tries the name out and Julian rather likes the slightly accented way he says it Juli-ahn. It's that Cardassian accent and it took Garak months before he got the pronunciation just right. Julian almost asks him to say it again. "You were being frank?" Kelas supplies helpfully with a smile, almost looking like he's teasing him.
"Well I feel like a complete idiot saying this but your... your choice of attire was just a bit ah... surprising. Not bad! No! Not bad at all it suits you I mean I like it, you look..." Don't say sexy don't say delicious, and for god's sake don't say fuckable! "...different." Kelas looks honest to goodness confused by that as if he has no idea what Julian means by the comment and Julian is almost starting to wonder if he's developed some sort of aphasia just from staring at him talking about onions or magpies when Kelas seems to finally understand and laughs again.
"Of course, I don't wear my glasses when I teach," he says as if Julian's completely inappropriate eye fucking is the mere result of a lack of spectacles. "They fall off my face and the heat makes them fog on occasion, but you have my word that I can see well enough." So can I... and that's exactly the problem here...
"Yes," Julian croaks out with a weak wheeze that may pass for laughter in some universe following Kelas' inviting motion- a normal wave Julian, not a "come hither" the man can't even see you!- following that inviting ass walking through the door off the studio.
"Are you thirsty? I can put on some tea. Actually I may have some tarkalian tea in the refrigerator. Elim said that was your favorite so I made sure to brew some. Do you drink it cold? I read that humans prefer cold drinks proportional to the increase in temperature. I'll get you a cold one."
Julian is only half listening to Kelas' soliloquy, long used to tuning out his usual rambling commentary. He steps through the door, not sure why he closes it behind them without prompting. It clicks almost ominously and Julian takes a moment to look around at the decent sized space, walls covered completely with various inspirational posters, a few pictures of men and women both human and Cardassian that he doesn't recognize, the rest of the room an imposing claustrophobic exercise in hoarding, heavy dark bookshelves spilling over with books, books piled ceiling high in some corners, Kelas seeming to have a desk with an ancient grape iMac that can't possibly still work. There's also a side table next to that mahogany desk with a coffee pot, an electric kettle, a hot plate, and a fridge covered in magnets on the other side. It's about what he'd expect in all honesty and makes him feel just the slightest bit relieved that Kelas has not been taken over by a body snatcher. That is until he sees the couch and thinks he's completely damn doomed...
"Don't do it, Julian!" Jadzia's yell in right in his ear and she looks at Garak completely unapologetic, a wicked little smirk on her face as she mouths sorry. She's clearly not sorry. There's a collective gasp from the rest of the patrons of "Rice", the hacked security cameras Garak installed in Parmak's office years ago displaying a rather impressive feed on the large flat screen TV in the Chinese restaurant. Of course Garak had hardly intended for Kelas' insidious seduction and Julian's offensive betrayal to be broadcast for everyone to see. However Mei Ying, the hardened battle axe who owns Rice had informed Ziyal that the "drama lizard" was ruining everyone's mood this week. While his adopted daughter- long miserable story everyone there had heard a million times over- and living saint, Tora Ziyal tried to diplomatically explain to her boss the seriousness of his crumbling life, Jadzia had impishly chimed in with the suggestion that everyone might have a little more compassion if they could see Garak's "dear Julian being sucked into the clutches of a rival suitor." It isn't like they aren't used to his frequent "episodes" as they've come to be known. Sometimes Garak suspects the Tuesday afternoon lunch rush isn't busier just because of him.
It was a stroke of genius, Garak had to admit as Mei Ying shrewdly charged everyone extra to sit and watch and Garak was treated to free lunch and endless alcohol- until Ziyal yanked his bottle away. Ziyal was every bit her domineering father Dukat when she set her mind to it, following up with a scolding bark to Ling Zarat, the young half Cardassian waiter they'd recently hired. Garak had come to love Chinatown since moving to his beautiful- if obscenely overpriced- Manhattan apartment. Since the "alien invasion" of the nineteen fifties, Cardassians have historically gravitated towards their "cultural little brothers", starting with their endless help and influence in shaping the fledgling state following the revolution to the present day. Chinatown in New York is oftentimes referred to by locals as "Cardietown" in fact, and one can often find menus written in both languages- along with ignorant humans who swear they can't tell one script from another but that's a different rant for a different day.
Ziyal had worked at Rice for the last ten years, graduating through hard work and a kind disposition- when she wasn't stopping the flow of Garak's precious kanar- to Mei Ying's assistant manager in all but name. She also may have perhaps become Garak's adopted daughter through a thoroughly miserable and poorly thought out marriage to Skrain Dukat for five of the most stressful years of his life though in his defense he absolutely did meet him on Grindr, so it wasn't like he had lied to Julian per se. He also may have conveniently left out one of Dukat's few positive traits which was a mouth that more than made up for his pitiful prick and hands that could... well, it may have taken him five years but at least he ultimately realized that sexual talent was no substitute for romance and an acrimonious relationship didn't always equal passion. Garak puts that out of his mind thankful that for today at least Ziyal had the compassion to wince on his behalf when Mei Ying loudly and tactlessly announced the start of "Drama lizard cuckhold by young twink!"
He had opened his mouth at that then shut it again, settling for putting his head in his hand with a groan as Ziyal gently pat his hand from across the table. She sits across from him and Jadzia with a comforting smile and if there was one good thing that came out of that nightmare of a marriage it was the treasure that was Tora Ziyal.
"Must we stay and watch this?" Garak asks testily as he sees Julian's almost cartoonish eye pop as Kelas turns around and looks back over his shoulder and Garak thinks if it was anyone other than Kelas he would swear it was all some sinister machination to seduce Julian. But that's the bitch of it, as the humans say; Kelas Parmak is nothing if not completely and utterly oblivious to his own level of physical attractiveness. Garak's positive the man doesn't even own a mirror which makes his myriad of legendary exploits all the more unbelievable. At least to anyone who doesn't know that Kelas only even finds himself in all these stupid sexual escapades by a mix of ludicrous accident coupled with a beyond human level of sexual inhibition.
"You really did bring this on yourself, Dad," Ziyal informs him rather pitilessly he thinks. "And did you have to spray Father in the eyes with that stuff? He told me that he smelled like mint for a week." Ziyal pauses, looking as if she doesn't particularly want to continue. "He also wanted me to give you a message but I'm not repeating it... you could have blinded him!" Garak is about to tell her it's no less than that small dicked son of a nameless whore deserves, but he merely smiles and nods.
"Of course I should have considered your feelings in the matter of your father's assault on my dear friend Julian. I shall endeavor in the future to keep that in mind." Ziyal sighs and shakes her head.
"I know Father isn't the most tactful man, Dad but he wouldn't assault anyone. Anyway," she continues before they go down that old argument again. "Shouldn't you have just talked to Julian?"
Jadzia snerks into her Pepsi at that and she and Ziyal share a look that Garak isn't so sure that he appreciates.
"Right, of course," comes from Ziyal.
"Garak is a master of conversation," Jadzia says with a sly sideways look, "except when it concerns anything of substance." Garak is midway to staring a hole through her when she holds both her hands up and points out Garak was the one who informed her that those were Julian's words. He shoots her a sour look nonetheless, as he piles more honey chicken onto his plate. There's soon a collective roar from the lunch crowd as Julian follows Kelas into his office like a boorish riding hound sniffing after a bitch and Garak is determined to stuff his cheeks like a greedy squirrel and drown his depression in salt and msg until he either has a stroke or some magical fairy from a human story intervenes and grants him his lovely beanpole prince and they can live merrily ever after.
In all of the anonymous hookup stories that Garak has read on the internet, he's pretty sure this should have been the part where he and Julian were supposed to have had mind blowing sex and taken a fantastic vacation to the Bahamas: possibly even planning to get married in a garish ceremony on the beach. He should be on the beach right now instead of bothering Ziyal on her lunch break and letting the usual gossipy old lunch hens comment unhelpfully that if they had a choice between "sexy lizard" and "fat drama lizard"... He can feel his left eye and the ridges around it twitch, the hardened scales like a worm wiggling unpleasantly on his face. Alright, he may have put on an extra few pounds because liquor and chocolate were a comfort in these trying times but he'd like to see any one of them do better. I could kill very last one of you. You see these steel chopsticks? Give me ten minutes, give me five, I don't care if I do get put on the banned listed with Ziyal's thieving profligate brother Tekenny.
Okay, so maybe Garak had actually thought that everyone would be on his side in the matter instead of a traitorous Julian loving hive mind wondering out loud how Garak could have possibly let that cute young thing slip through his fingers. Because it's complicated, that's why. He's under a lot of pressure, that's why. Because Julian is a stubborn ass who doesn't understand how these stories are supposed to go, that's why. If that wasn't bad enough, his mother has been after him after all to bring his handsome doctor home; he may have sent her a text (or several dozen) with pictures of him and Julian together but if she chose to believe the two of them were a couple then that's hardly his fault. After all, everyone knows what they say about people who assume things and all those years being involved with Tain ought to have taught her better.
Take him for example, assuming that after Julian and Jadzia helped him home and he'd drunkenly told Julian how he wanted to climb him like a tree that Julian would either merrily fall into bed with him or at the very least have the decency to tell him flat out he wasn't interested. No instead he got some ridiculous sigh, some offensively gentle and patient tuck into bed and kiss to his chufa- as if he were a child- that was still making him float on air days later. To make things worse, Julian was quite stupidly and offensively honest about the fact that he did as a matter of fact reciprocate Garak's physical attraction quite deeply but oh he couldn't possibly take advantage and there were things and complications and they could talk about it in the morning. Never let it be said that Garak as a proud Cardassian would ever object to talking but that "talk" was much less a talk and far more an insidious assassination of his character!
"Well you're looking a rather attractive shade of green," Julian informed him far too cheerfully as he dumped even more strawberry jam onto his scone. Garak thought that Julian ought to be far more grateful that he even bothered throwing on his warm bright blue robe and shuffling out of his nice comfortable room where he'd been pleasantly sick in peace to indulge him in this pointless exercise. "Not that you weren't green yesterday as well," Julian went on ignoring Garak's glare, "but I'd say you're wearing it a bit more obviously this morning." Julian was disgustingly buoyant from his seat at the table, diving into a full English breakfast as Garak drank his rokassa juice slowly, waiting for the aspirin to kick in. Garak was also desperately trying to hold down the contents of his stomach in at the smell and taste of that steak and eggs permeating every molecule of air in the room.
He waited for another round of nausea to pass before answering.
"Far be it for me to criticize a monster of my own creation, my dear, but you might have a care for my delicate state. Though I rather suspect you're enjoying this as some sort of comeuppance when we both know I merely had your best interests at heart."
"Right," Julian drawled thick with sarcasm. "Is that before or after you decided to stalk me and ruin my evening?"
"Now here is where I must as you say on Earth, "call bullshit". Your disastrous evening was sealed the moment you agreed to go out with that reprobate."
"God, I'm not going 'round with you on this again. This is exactly your problem, you can never admit when you're wrong!" Garak winced at the shout and Julian at least had the decency to look contrite as he drank his coffee and finished those disgusting runny eggs.
"I'm exceptionally found of you Julian," Garak murmured not even sure where that came from as he looked toward the counter television, watching Judge Tuvok trying to meditate a dispute between a Ferengi bar owner and a Bajoran waitress who swore he was skimming her tips. 'Guls, the trash television that humans watch…' Garak held up a finger for Julian to hold off on his reply while the bailiff read the verdict. Garak never claimed not to like human trash television, after all. Julian shut it off just as the damages were being read and the Ferengi looked about to have a coronary. If Garak wasn't half sick even thinking about making a dive for the remote he'd have shown Julian exactly why even former Obsidian Order operatives weren't a force to be trifled with. Oh beloved State, his stomach was doing that roiling thing and there was no way he was going to vomit all over the beautiful stainless steel sink.
"What you're exceptionally fond of Garak," Julian retorted, any semblance of cheer dropped in favor of annoyance as he gave the remote a good hard 'smack' on the counter, "is creating needless drama where there doesn't need to be any, instead of just telling me the truth!" Garak took another swallow of juice and glared at him angrily. Yes, because it was so simple when Julian trotted in nothing but one vapid young thing after another Benjamin Sisko excluded that he was expected to magically compete with in addition to the "rules" he'd already established. Yes, why not put everything on the line and make a fool out of himself when Julian had made it quite obvious what chances Garak actually had with him? Garak sighed, drumming his fingers on the table looking away. Guls, he wished he was still drunk.
"What do you think of Kelas?" he asked Julian at last staring hard out the kitchen window at the disgustingly cheerful birds chirping outside.
"Parmak? What does he have to do with anything?" Julian asked confused, his breakfast forgotten.
"Humor me." Garak took another drink, head at least pretending as if it might let up with the pounding. Julian looked like he was searching for whatever answer that Garak wanted to hear.
"I mean Parmak is your friend I know um... I don't know what you want me to say, Garak!"
"It's not a difficult question. Tell me the unvarnished, unfiltered truth. You know, that filthy thing you're so fond of proselytizing about." It really wasn't a difficult question. And the sooner Julian answered it, the sooner he'd see Garak's point and feel like the complete ass that he rightly should.
"I like Kelas. He's quiet..."
"I didn't ask you if you liked him. Here, let me help you out. I believe you've described him as "weird and mumbly"," Garak corrected, himself mumbling into his cup.
"Alright, fine well I didn't mean anything by it. I'm not trying to be unkind, I know he's a good friend-" Garak motioned for him to continue. "Alright, alright, well he's not exactly in the best of shape-"
"Your exact words were "a shuffling unwieldy mass of sweater blocking half the kitchen.""
"Did I really say it like that?" Julian blinked as if he couldn't believe it himself. Garak took another long drink with a measured look. "Okay well I wasn't trying to be offensive just... he shuffles! He's bundled like that man they fined in Iceland for trying to wear every bit of his clothing on the plane because the carry on fares are too ridiculous but so what if Parmak is a little slow or a little heavy? That's to be expected..."
"And why might that be?" Garak hissed dangerously. "Bear in mind I've told you on more than one occasion that Kelas is likely in far better shape than I am."
"Which I still don't believe, but you know he's er... a tad older than you? Not that there's anything wrong with that... just... ah..."Julian looked back down at his food awkwardly that understanding finally dawning on him. It seemed Garak's constant reminders that he and Kelas were the same age were finally starting to sink in. Because if that was how Julian felt about a man Garak's age, less "difficult" as his mother would say, who was by all accounts in better shape, and in Garak's opinion possibly, slightly, in some lighting a touch better looking then what conclusion was Garak supposed to draw from that about his own prospects?
"Oh," was all Julian said at last.
"Yes. Oh," Garak grumbled as the both of them lapsed into awkward silence. He finished the juice, setting the cup down perhaps harder than he really needed to, seeing the gears in Julian's head turning this entire time, some false starts and he finally determined there was only one way the matter of his nausea was getting resolved. "Well now, if you'll excuse me, I feel like I may need to empty the contents of my stomach and unless you're up for holding my hair back as the saying goes, I think it's safe to say that this conversation has reached its natural conclusion."
Garak stood on shaky feet at that, proud of himself for still holding the juice down as he started his slow shuffle of hungover shame to the bathroom in the hall. Amazingly, Julian actually did accompany him, actually did hold his hair, and wipe his face and Garak would have called it a "moment" if he wasn't feeling completely gross on his knees with Julian sitting on the side of the tub tenderly massaging his temples. He even gave a little extra attention to the ridges on Garak's forehead which were somewhat tender. Of course Julian had to start talking then, had to start explaining and ruin everything.
"I never realized I was giving you that impression Garak, I really didn't. If I had any idea that's what I was doing… ah… right... bit late for all that now."
"I'm glad I could be present for your life altering moment of clarity." Maybe Julian would leave it at that so Garak could close his eyes and just enjoy his hands.
"I just need to think, Garak," Julian said sounding exasperated which was ludicrous since Garak was positive he'd epitomized exasperated so thoroughly there wasn't any left in the universe for anyone else: especially now that the massage had stopped.
"I don't see what there is to even think about. If you find me as comely as you claim, and I assure you my ego will survive if that's not the case, then it's only natural that we test the waters either by way of intercourse or courtship or some other move forward. This waiting seems like little more than a pointless exercise in deliberation."
"It's not that simple!" He apologized as Garak winced. At least he went back to rubbing with that one. "Sorry could you just... do you think I might have a little more time? I think if I was forced on the spot now it'd be a "no" and I really don't think I want that either but… but that's where I am right now."
"A "no"?" Garak mumbled dumbly as Julian hit a nice spot. "Well then, it would seem as you requested I'll just have to wait and leave it all up to your impeccable judgement and trust you'll defy all previous precedent and choose wisely."
And while that may not have been the concession Julian was looking for it was all he was going to get while Garak felt once more like bad helping of racht was trying to claw its way back up his esophagus. Of course, that touched off Julian contenting himself with another five minutes of massage mixed with that "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" thought process of Garak's numerous faults. Now pointless nitpicking like that never did anyone any favors, so Garak felt well within his right to merely nod along before Julian had the gall to accuse him of not listening and left in a huff. Oh Garak was listening alright. He absolutely listened to Julian's pedantically ticking off every one of his cons without a single pro to counterbalance, adding it to the massive wall of "why this will never work" that he was spinelessly cowering behind.
And that had kicked off the awkward last week of the not talking, half aborted conversations between Julian's extra work and Garak's extra work on his new summer line on commission for Gilora Rejal's beautiful boutique, dividing his time between Panera and Rice, portfolio and laptop ever present while he waited for Julian to decide whether or not he was "worthy". And then Julian decided he absolutely had to talk to Kelas to sort this whole mess out and Jadzia decided that the two of them watching that whole scene would be a good way to reassure him that he was overreacting to his dread at that visit. Jadzia, like Julian, did not know Kelas Parmak...
Time, Julian said! As if a man of Garak's age has an abundance of good years he can afford to fritter away while his stupid, stubborn human crush deliberates like a senile old archon! Of course this is the part where Kelas would tell him that he's assimilated too much toxic Earth culture and that he needs a cleansing and he really should come by the studio and take a few classes. Yes, because an afternoon at that sausage factory masquerading as a yoga studio with Kelas obliviously prancing around like a Chippendale's dancer while one oversexed young man after another throws himself at his feet is exactly what Garak's ego needs. Ah, and speaking of things the ego doesn't need... Garak realizes that the camera feed has switched to Kelas' office and that infamous couch is about to make an appearance. Jadzia has the decency to look contrite as Garak finishes all the mei fun on his plate, and she offers him hers as well. That's it, he's going to eat until he's the size of a house and has a massive coronary and Julian has to figure out how to deal with his oversized corpse and it haunts him the rest of his life. Serves him right!
Oh god. Oh god, this cannot be happening. Julian turns to take a seat as Kelas insists and that's when he sees an honest to goodness casting couch, black leather, worn, beat up, and he thinks his heart is about to hammer out of his chest as he wildly looks between that couch and Kelas bent over looking in the fridge for who knows what, that ass begging Julian to take a bite, to stick his tongue right between his- Okay Julian, calm down, sit down, you're just hot, you're lightheaded, you might possibly be overstressed, under slept, a million things that are making more out of this than there really ought to be. Julian sees Kelas turn back around with a pitcher of tea and a small container which is likely what he was reaching for at the back.
"Please, take a seat, I'd hate for you to feel you have to stand." Kelas sets the pitcher and container down. "I hope you don't mind, I remember Elim says you like your tea sweet, but you know as a doctor I really can't in good conscience let you load your body up with refined sugar. It's absolutely terrible for you and I keep telling Elim you know that he'd have much better energies if he cut out all the sweets he indulges in, but you know Elim."
Kelas gives a hopeless little shrug and it's that mention of Garak which hammers into him just what the Hell does he think he's doing even entertaining any sort of lewd fantasies about Garak's best friend? Garak is the reason he's even here in the first place. He needs to know what to do about Garak, and how to get all this jealousy drama nonsense in some sort of place where they can meet in the middle and move on. Yes, because you're totally going to knock that wall down with your eyes undressing his friend here. He needs to stop and he needs to get this fixed like an insidious case of ringworm because Garak's eyes boring a hole into his head is starting to get to him and his back feels itchy and spasmy as if someone's about to stick a knife back there. That in turn reminds him of the incident on the subway involving Garak, two Klingons, and a pair of scissors three months ago that left Julian somewhat unnerved. Alright, unnerved but a little turned on as well when Garak practically kicked in the door, immaculate hair disheveled and messy like a man who'd just-
"Do you mind standing up a moment, Julian? I completely forgot to put the blanket down first. It's an old piece but I really would hate to stain it."
"Excuse me?!" Julian stares at him, stares at Kelas holding up an old woven grey and white blanket mind immediately going to the worst possible place. "I... I really don't think that will be necessary!" Julian exclaims seeing a confused expression on Kelas' face.
"It might be a different matter if I had time for a shower but you can appreciate surely, how badly sweat might stain the fabric."
"Oh of course!" Julian is up like a shot mentally slamming his head into the wall. "Of course, ha... yes, that makes perfect sense." Kelas carefully tugs the blankets into all the corners while Julian keeps his eyes straight ahead on the bookshelves, that quick cursory glance right to Kelas on one knee, head bent, breathing heavy, strands of hair tackling his face and his neck ridges already doing things to him that he can ill afford.
So naturally at that moment, Kelas starts recounting the story of how he got the thing in the first place having acquired it from a film company going out of business which Julian could already guess the nature of. He had to swallow a laugh when Kelas told him completely matter of factly that his students had nicknamed the thing "the casting couch" and wasn't that just the most curious name? Julian has to really look at him, certain that he's saying this merely for Julian's benefit, about to laugh any moment, but no, he's completely serious and Julian is quite thankful all of a sudden that Kelas is putting a blanket down, sweat or not. He viciously tamps out any wonder of how many times it's been "used" since getting it. "Did I ever tell you about the time I had come home- now this is when Kelas and I first emigrated to Earth and were sharing an apartment in Jersey of all places that poor Cardassians go to die and I'd walked into the living room and as Preloc is my witness, there was Kelas and some Bajoran on my precious Absolom Roche like one of those vulgar sculptures at the Met and the stains, Julian, the horrendous stench of Bajoran gratification… I assure you, It was the last time Kelas and I ever shared an apartment."
"I know Elim is a far better housekeeper than I am. I can't count the number of spills this poor couch has nearly had but I do try and be careful." Julian swallows hard hating that he can actually picture what must have been a glorious display of acrobatic mutual fellatio. "One of my students had given me the blanket as a gift and I'm rather fond of the pattern. Please, take a seat, have some tea." He pats the space next to him looking up, that expectant look up giving Julian another lurid flash of that face looking up from his knees because of course, of course Kelas is sitting with his legs tucked under him, kneeling and...
Julian sits down, taking the offered tea nearly drinking the entire cold brew in one gulp.
"Help yourself to more any time." Tea, Julian, he means tea! "Now, you had wanted to talk to me about Elim? I should disclose that I spoke with him earlier so I believe I might have an idea of the situation but it's definitely better to hear from you as well. I'm hardly a counselor but I can listen. Listening is one of the most essential traits for communication that we have." Kelas looks so earnest that Julian feels disgusting for nearly asking him if the stories are true. Did you really service one of your professors beneath his desk on a dare? Did you really pay a pizza delivery boy with your mouth when you misplaced your wallet last month? Have you done any of that Picasso sex on this couch?!
This is all your fault, Garak. If you'd just kept your mouth shut about Kelas, if you hadn't spent the last two years with all these perverted stories I wouldn't be sitting here wondering how many times Kelas has laid back on this couch and-
"Are you feeling ill, Julian?" Oh god oh god, he was supposed to be answering the question, not sitting here staring, daydreaming about students running a train on him where they're seated. "I've never read of anyone having a poor reaction to the root, but I suppose anything's possible and I could certainly get you a glass of water to try and dilute it down while I call poison control. You look a bit dark in the face." Kelas' hand is on the side of said face, warm, slightly rough fingertips making Julian shiver and crap crap crap if Kelas doesn't stop touching him, stop teasing his neck like that with his other hand, leaning in with that wide, soft looking mouth-
"I'm fine!" Julian squeaks, clearing his throat, carefully, guiding Kelas' hands back down- not to his lap!- managing a weak smile. Kelas smells nice. He smells like sweat but it's not some unpleasant sour thing but almost like cilantro mixed with that earthy bergamot male Cardassian musk that Julian has learned over the last two years drives him completely wild. It's been a gift that Garak isn't terribly fond of exercise or Julian may have embarrassed himself long before today. Julian clears his throat and fans himself rather dramatically. "Fine but ah... it's a bit warm in here. Ha... you'd think I'd be used to the heat living with G-Garak but... but it's just... just a bit much," he says looking up at the ceiling for a reprieve.
"Of oh course, I can certainly get a bit of air circulating." Julian feels him hop off the couch while he tries to breathe, knowing that fan isn't likely to do anything about the heat that he's trying to ignore. He hears a chair being moved, and of course, of course God absolutely hates him because Kelas is asking if he might spot him while he tugs the cord for the ceiling fan on because he never uses the thing and has never gotten around to attaching a long pull chain, and Julian is five seconds from running out of there screaming.
He doesn't. He pastes on his best smile and stands up realizing completely mortified that he's already rocking a semi only barely kept in check by the baggy khakis that he's wearing.
"Sure," think of England, think of baseball, that stupid judge show that Garak is always watching... "Just steady the chair, right?" Julian asks gamely as Kelas shoves the sturdy wooden chair under the fan already climbing.
"Yes, I just need a moment. I think it's on exhaust and I'm afraid it hasn't been dusted in some time..." Julian nods, looking back at the bookshelves, deliberately not looking at Kelas' ass right in front of his face. "I need to reach here. You can put a hand on my back." I'd really rather not. That's an awful idea. You're going to have to at least look for a second, Julian... He looks. He reaches. He realizes that Kelas wasn't kidding when he said the thing hadn't been dusted in ages because there's at least several years of dust shaken loose when it kicks on, as Julian's hand touches Kelas' back making him sneeze.
That sneeze makes his hand slip, makes him sneeze again and the next thing he knows, Kelas' sweat slick feet have slipped, causing him to overbalance and step down hard to keep from falling. Fortunately, Julian catches him. Unfortunately, the weight sends them both to the floor. Julian is sat down hard with Kelas on top of him and then flat on his back with the force. And this is where the Kill Bill siren- Jadzia dragged him to see it when Garak couldn't make it and he was still stupidly trying to woo her or else he'd have begged off because pornographic violence is hardly his cup of tea- starts sounding. Kelas is on top of him, silent a moment before he starts blinking, squirming, seeming to realize that Julian is-
"Oh," he says brilliantly and Julian notices that his arms are around Kelas, and he whips them off so fast his knuckles bang the hardwood clear through the throw rug making him wince. "You're-"
"Oh god I'm sorry. I am so sorry I didn't mean to... I don't... It wasn't... it just happened I swear I..."
Why do I feel like I'm watching every awful romcom trope rolled into one offensively contrived scene? Garak has his forehead pillowed to Jadzia's shoulder with an exaggerated groan- as Julian stupidly tries to stutter an even more asinine explanation of what a blind man could clearly see is an absurd erection- when someone up front who's clearly new to Tuesday lunch hour, shushes him. His head snaps back up immediately and if Jadzia wasn't sitting on the outside of the booth blocking him in he'd have already stood up and stabbed Shushy McShush pants with a spoon because it would hurt more.
"Dad," Ziyal says in a warning.
"She did not just shush me."
"Quiet," some other voice that he recognizes as an ancient old sea witch named Jingfei calls out. "Twink boy and sexy lizard are about to do it!"
"They are doing no such thing!" Garak fires back right as Kelas smiles at Julian brilliantly and there goes any hope Garak had of getting laid this century. Because of course Kelas smiles; Kelas Parmak has such a vile un-Cardassian cavalier attitude towards casual coitus that the word "no" isn't anywhere in his vocabulary. But even a lifetime of knowing the man couldn't have prepared Garak for the ridge twitching completely Kelas reaction to all this.
"Oh thank the Ancients!" Kelas says lifting himself up looking relieved. That's the expression: relieved. Julian can honestly say of all the reactions he's ever had in his entire life from a partner to an unwarranted pop up of the old Julian junior to say hello, relief has never been one of them. He opens his mouth then shuts it again as Kelas continues, a shift of weight, knees moving so that he's sitting on top, Julian's cock now free to press against that firm ass. That really doesn't help Julian's ability to process the situation as Kelas goes on about how worried he was about him? "This is such a welcome turn of events, you know. Now, sexual dysfunction is hardly my specialty but Elim was overcome with emotion at your plight so naturally when you contacted me I couldn't say no." Kelas slips his right leg over, sliding off on to his knees, giving Julian's groin a weird little pat. It's akin to what one would do to praise a dog rolling over on command and Julian sits up, wishing that stupid gesture still didn't feel so damn good as he tries to make sense of what the devil Kelas just said.
"Wait...what?" Julian asks stupidly, sure he's missed something here somewhere. Kelas gives his crotch another caress, not seeming to realize that it's far more arousing than it is comforting.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of. I think it's safe to say it was merely psychological because of your work stress but Elim was absolutely beside himself because of your impotence interfering with the two of you being able to consummate your relationship."
Garak is white as a sheet as every set of eyes in the room turns to him all at once. He hears that same shushing woman up front loudly exclaim to her equally grating lunch companion in Mandarin that maybe the attractive young doctor just couldn't get it up for the fat drama lizard. He notes she isn't exactly the picture of svelte herself either.
"It was a figure of speech," He replies primly and repeats it in Mandarin satisfied to at least see her eyes get wide as she turns back to her food having the decency to at least look a tad embarrassed. There's a pregnant pause just as the speakers play Julian's high pitched and loud "he said what?!" A Cardassian woman in the booth next to them, wearing one of those horrendously popular "success perms" sniffs at him in Kardasi "There certainly is no such figure of speech that I know of."
Certainly, Garak owes neither her nor anyone else any explanation but nonetheless he sighs dramatically shaking his napkin out as Jadzia slides out of the booth knowing him so well. He takes a deep breath as he stands up, Ziyal looking precious in her concern, as if he were ever one to make a scene.
"Well madam, as we can all quite clearly see, Doctor Bashir is in proud possession of a fully functioning… PrUt I'll say at the risk of sounding vulgar. So logic might then dictate that either the "sexy lizard" has magically cured him with nary a touch which, I promise you even the "sexy lizard" is not gifted enough to accomplish. Or, that as Occam's Razor would suggest, my dear friend Kelas misunderstood me when I said that Julian's "impotence in the matter of our relationship" was causing me no end of frustration. For while we may consider it to be a base and unclean language, it is only through extensive practice and conversing in English can Kelas and I improve our understanding of colorful idioms such as these and endeavor to avoid such unfortunate misunderstandings in the future."
Garak doesn't even need to motion to Jadzia as she's already ending the feed from his phone, getting an extra box of eggrolls from Ziyal, and making their goodbyes.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I believe I've entertained you all sufficiently for this afternoon and our esteemed hostess Miss Mei Ying will surely collect another hard earned pittance for anyone who'd like to throw in a tip." He slides his eyes over to said hostess who beams at him toothily both of them. Never let it be said that Elim Garak isn't willing to go to extraordinary lengths for a free meal. "It was an honor and a privilege," he lies with a small bow, waving to his adoring "fans" knowing he'll see the usual crowd back next week. He gives Ziyal a kiss on the chufa, seeing her face screwed into a suspicious pout. Garak had never met Dukat's Bajoran mistress, Tora Naprem as that was before his time during Dukat's other failed marriage, but he's always imagined that expression to come from her. Dukat possesses nothing half as charming.
"Be kind to Uncle Kelas, Dad," she implores him.
"Oh, my dear, you have my word that I bear our beloved "uncle" Kelas no ill will, no, the blame lies entirely at my feet, and I believe I'll just need to "take the bull by its horn-" Jadzia makes an odd noise next to him and he ignores it. "-and clear this all up." He's already pulling the app up on his phone for a taxi thankful they haven't hit peak traffic time yet. With any luck, they'll be to Kelas' studio before this goes any further.
"A hand for our beloved drama lizard!" Jadzia calls as they hustle towards the door, the usual crowd long used to these semi regular incidents from Garak giving a round of applause. Garak gives a mocking bow, Mei Ying shooting him a small warm smile and foisting a handful of fortune cookies off on them for luck as he and Jadzia race for the street where their chariot awaits. Now just to pray they're not too late…
"He said what?!" Julian is both aghast and completely bewildered as he sits bolt upright, staring at Kelas in disbelief. "I am not impotent!" The two of them look at each other a moment, such a fact quite plain for both parties to see as Julian brings his knees up to his chest uncomfortably trying to hide that hardness that somehow still hasn't started to shrink down. "I… I mean I haven't had any issues with my…" he swallows, looking anywhere else but Kelas, seeing out of the corner of his eyes as those spectacles are reached for and retrieved off the desk. Julian stops, watching those large round silver frames slide back onto his face, making his blue eyes look even bigger. "em… my… you… you know what," Julian finishes lamely. Kelas puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Of course you haven't," he agrees in what has to be a tone so patronizing that surely he must be the source from whence all of Garak's patronizing bitch originated.
Julian also realizes that sitting here arguing the point is likely to be as pointless an exercise in futility with Kelas as it is with Garak.
"Regardless," Kelas says looking uncharacteristically smug as Julian's lack of argument. "I'm certain that this gift from the Ancients-" God, did he really have to call an unwelcome boner a "gift from the Ancients"? "…is hardly intended for me so we should absolutely make use of our good fortune and get you back where you belong." Kelas ruffles his hair like he would a stray dog whose owner has just been located and Julian almost expects him to finish with a "little fella" except… Kelas' hand slowly falls from Julian's crown to the back of his head then to the back of his neck and those fingers linger, stroking the skin gently. It makes the hairs stand up, makes a shudder pass through his entire body and as Kelas' fingers continue to rub that spot, Julian's head falls forward and he can feel his heart hammer faster with some sort of anticipation.
"I'll take you home then," he hears Kelas whisper and Julian turns his head to look at him. He's sure if Garak were here he would say that it's nothing but a misconception caused by Julian's massive ego and not everyone is completely enraptured with his "boyish charm", but Julian isn't blind and he swears that he sees a fierce lick of desire there as Kelas stares back. It's gone just as quickly as Kelas stands, hoisting him up by his shirt collar leaving Julian little choice but to follow or allow the thing to be ripped clear off.
"Home?" Julian asks stupidly watching Kelas fire off an impressively quick series of texts on his phone, likely to his students or his assistant or whoever.
"Of course home, Julian. Elim will be thrilled to know that you're fully functional again."
"I don't mind driving you. It's the least I can do for a dear friend," he says with another hand to his shoulder and a shining sincerity that would make Julian feel like a complete wretch for even thinking of saying no.
"Yes. Yes, home it is ah… thank you, Kelas." At least Garak won't be home. At least he'll be spending the rest of the afternoon at that weird restaurant full of middle aged women he always hangs at. "Do you… need to change at all?" he asks hopefully, thankful that the tide is finally starting to recede as it were.
"Why should I need to change?" Kelas asks looking confused.
"The ah… sweat stains on your car?" Please? Right? Tell me you're not going to drive me back looking like that. Kelas laughs.
"Ah, Elim was right about your sense of humor, Julian." Julian has no idea what's so funny about that as Kelas slips on a pair of Birkenstocks and begins digging through a pile of papers for presumably his keys. Julian spots them hanging there they ought to be on a rack of yet more keys and almost hides the damn things but instead hands them over without a word. He feels rather like he's going to an execution when Kelas takes them happily.
"Perfect. I'll have you back in no time and you and Elim can celebrate your newly regained vigor."
"Once again, just reminding you I've no issue there," screaming into the wind as the whirlwind that is Kelas Parmak blows through like a mercurial breeze.
"Well of course you don't Julian. And don't you worry, you have my solemn vow that we'll keep the sails fully unfurled until such time where you can safely dock at port. Is that the right phrasing?" He asks looking far more concerned with his idioms than what he just implied.
"If you're saying what I think you are," Julian begins warily only to be stopped by a finger to his lips and a smile that's far too much like Garak's to be anything but absolutely malevolent.
"Don't worry, Doctor Bashir," Kelas says with a drop in his voice like some freakish Jekyll Hyde thing. "You have my word, I'll make sure you're good and ready for Elim." There's a feeling falling over him as that finger presses to his lips that's somewhere between lusty anticipation and certain doom. However there's one thing Julian is absolutely certain of. Garak was right again, Julian. Kelas Parmak is far too much for you to handle.
Take the State to your bed and you'll never be left wanting. Garak balls up the fortune irritated and is about to let it drop on the floor of the cab when he catches sight of the Ferengi cab driver just itching for a reason to add another surcharge. "Quark" as the name reads was all too happy to offer him the special "fast track" for a few extra dollars and Garak reluctantly agreed, far too anxious to haggle. It was bad enough he had to talk him out of the extra fee for trunk space for his portfolio. His foot taps impatiently as they're still stuck on Canal Street and he's almost tempted to just get out of the car and walk- the greedy little man surely to tack on another charge for that when his phone buzzes and he looks down at the screen. It's from Kelas, curiously, and as his eyes read it, they surely grow so big as to nearly fall out of his head. He passes the phone wordlessly to Jadzia and all she has to say in turn is "well then". Garak clears his throat a bit of a bounce in the seat as he gets the driver's attention.
"I hate to be a pain, Mr Quark," Garak says not even trying to sound sincere. "But how much might you charge to continue on to the Upper West Side... quickly?"
The Ferengi glances at them both in the mirror, grinning far to evilly for Garak's liking.
"Now that, my Cardassian friend, depends on what kind of fast you have the money for." Garak licks his lips, the memory of that text, that screen flashing to the forefront of his mind.
"Oh I have the money for whatever you need, Mr. Quark. There are some things," he adds much to Quarks noisy disgust, "that one cannot possibly put a price on."
End note: As usual, Garak is right about everything ;) Stay tuned because I definitely can't leave these boys hanging.