Disclaimer: Star Trek is Roddenberry's, not mine, and I make no money from this.
"You seem in a good mood, Doctor," Garak remarked idly, toying with his fork. He'd finished his meal, but was reluctant to end their discussion just yet, and this seemed as good a way as any to prolong it.
"I do? Oh yes." Bashir smiled. "A delivery came in for me the other day, and it's brought back some good memories."
"Well..." Bashir ducked his head, a slightly embarrassed look creeping onto his face. "It's nothing especially interesting. It just reminds me of when I was young." His combadge went off, a summons coming through for him. "I'm sorry, I have to go." He rose, then, looking apologetic, and hurried away.
Garak sat at the table, staring at the now-vacated seat. An odd glint crept into his eyes. More than likely, it was trivial in the extreme... but the matter had roused his curiosity, and he was determined to get to the bottom of this.
Hours later, Garak was feeling somewhat frustrated. All he'd managed to discover was that it had been a very plain container of no great size, and that Bashir had whisked it away to his quarters shortly after it had arrived. Either there was nothing worth discovering, or Doctor Julian Bashir was keeping a secret very well indeed.
The Cardassian tugged his tunic a little straighter as he considered the matter. He felt the questions gnawing at him, and inwardly praised Bashir for supplying him with a new mystery to occupy his attention.
He had to have answers; it was as simple as that.
At last, he came to a decision, and set off briskly toward his destination.
For one with Garak's skills, sneaking into Bashir's quarters was simple enough. In a space of time that might have been envied by any of the colleagues he'd left back on Cardassia, he was searching through the doctor's belongings.
There. The container sat against the wall, lid half-open. Elim Garak walked slowly over to it, anticipating the discovery he was about to make... but also almost regretting the end of the mystery.
He froze, hand reaching out toward the lid, as the door opened, and barely managed to gather his wits enough to straighten, turn, and smile urbanely at a very startled Julian Bashir.
"Garak? What are you doing here?"
Garak sorted through a list of explanations, and judged that some approximation of the truth would most suitably baffle Bashir anyway. "Waiting for you, Doctor. We never did finish our conversation, and you never answered my question."
Bashir blinked slowly, looking briefly confused. "Your – oh, about my delivery." He gave a rueful little smile and walked over to the container, pulling out something that he unwrapped and popped in his mouth. "They're sweets," he explained, pushing it into his cheek so as not to impede his speech. "I used to love them when I was younger."
"Sweets." Garak barely managed to avoid showing his disappointment.
"Yes. They're quite good," Bashir continued. He turned away to set aside the bag he'd been carrying, adding over his shoulder, "You might as well sit down, since you're here."
The Cardassian remained standing, contemplating making his excuses and leaving. He'd gone to all this effort to uncover Bashir's nostalgic desire for confectionery?
"What's wrong?" Bashir asked innocently, finally returning.
Garak froze. Had he really seen what he thought he'd seen? "Nothing, Doctor, I assure you."
"Good, then." Bashir smiled.
He had seen it. "Doctor... are you aware that your tongue is blue?"
"What? Oh." Bashir laughed, swallowing the candy. "Yes, these temporarily stain the tongue. It's half the fun of them. Children like to make their tongues go odd colours, and then pull faces, for amusement." In demonstration, he poked his tongue out briefly.
Garak felt as though his heart had stopped beating for a moment, and then resumed with twice its usual intensity. "An interesting habit," he managed to say. "It would have quite a different meaning on Cardassia, however."
"It would?" That handsome face clouded with a swift frown. "If it's some kind of insult, I didn't mean -"
"Julian." His first name brought a shocking immediacy to the situation. "Have you any idea what, on you, something like that urges me to do?"
"...What?" Reflexively, Bashir moistened his lips with his tongue in a nervous gesture.
It was too much. Garak stepped in, pulled him close, and kissed him firmly, feeling the surprise melt into reciprocation, tasting the residual sweetness of the candy... When he paused to take a breath he noted, just as though it were a purely academic observation, "On Cardassia... well, our women bear their natural blue colouration, and accentuate it when looking for a partner... Somewhere along the line, someone invented a kind of tongue-stain. It's used for flirting, because it's not as open as colour on the neck or forehead, and can be used by either sex. It's subtler, because one has to be paying attention to see it."
"And then I went and showed it off to you..." Bashir seemed considerably more focused upon this enlightenment, rather than displaying any kind of dismay. An almost cunning light entered his warm brown eyes. "If you don't mind... would you like one? I can share..."
Garak stared for a moment, processing the offer and the evident motivation. "...Maybe later." He was kissing Bashir again then, almost fiercely, grey hands tugging at the Doctor's uniform.
Bashir was quick to respond in kind. He barely had time to feel the chill of the air against his bare skin before they were on the bed, and mere matters of temperature had been driven wholly from either of their minds.
"Garak," he whispered urgently, the Cardassian's movements making his senses reel.
Garak's arms tightened around him. "Julian..." There was something fiercely possessive about the way he almost hissed the name, eyes alight with passion. There was none of his customary dry, witty reserve visible just now.
Bashir longed to close his eyes, but something in Garak's stare demanded his attention, the intensity in his eyes holding the Doctor there, overwhelmed by the sensations overtaking them.
They lay together, afterwards, gradually regaining their breath. Bashir smiled sleepily, tracing one of Garak's smoothly scaled ridges with his fingertips. "You know," he mused, "those blue ones were always my favourite. I think most of the sweets in the box are blue."
Garak stretched lazily. "How fortunate for me," he purred. "It seems I shall have no lack of business."
"Repairing the uniforms I intend to tear from your body at any suitable opportunity, of course." A wicked grin touched his lips.
Bashir smiled in return, deciding to himself that he had no objections whatsoever to this suggestion. "I look forward to it." He laughed sleepily and relaxed, head drooping against Garak. Never, he thought as he slipped into sleep, had he encountered a more fortuitous cultural misunderstanding.