"So you were involved in the Andorian coup!" Julian grinned triumphantly over his Tarkalean tea, and sat back in the corner of his living room sofa with smug satisfaction.

"My dear Doctor Bashir, you leap to the most extraordinary conclusions." Garak favoured him with look of bland innocence.

Julian narrowed his eyes. "The level of detail in that story you just told me is more than even Starfleet has on it. The tunnel layouts alone-"

"Ah, but you would be surprised, and I am afraid to say quite distressed, to know how many people and entities know more than Starfleet does on a remarkable number of subjects."

"Including a simple tailor, no doubt." Julian made an ironic salute with his coffee mug.

Garak shrugged eloquently. "What can I say? Or perhaps, dear doctor, I was not there at all, and am merely spinning tales for your amusement."

"Only you would find it amusing to talk about being lost in an underground labyrinth while thoroughly irate Andorian guards were out for your neck."

"Did I say lost?"

"You said they were chasing you, and the lights went out." Julian levered himself out of his seat and went to the sidebar, which was littered with the detritus of the evening meal. "Shall I get the larish pie?"

"Yes, thank you. It was quite frightening at the time, I admit. Cold and dark-Andorian temperatures would make even you humans shiver-and riddled with gaps in the tunnel floors. We had only a few minutes to make our rendezvous point. My companion-let us call him Kamar-was falling behind. He'd injured his leg, as I told you before."

Julian nodded, opening the container of delicate Bajoran snacks. Garak came to help him, finding forks amongst the dessert dishes.

"We heard shouts behind us," continued Garak. He moved closer to Julian, gesturing. "Andorians have no stun settings, of course. We rounded a corner-to find there was no ground beneath our feet. Kamar slipped."

Garak touched Julian's shoulder, and Julian jumped. "There was a very short scream."

As if on cue, the lights went out.

To his credit, Julian did not scream. He did, however, fling himself to the ground, tackling Garak around the waist with the lightning-fast reflexes he usually took great care to hide.

They landed behind the sofa, and Julian felt the dessert pies squish under his hand. More importantly, he found himself sprawled atop a stout, muscular Cardassian body, pressed chest-to-chest with Garak. Their faces were inches apart, and Julian could feel Garak's breath on his cheek. Further down, Julian's weight tangled their legs together and pressed him flush against Garak's thigh.

"My, what interesting conclusions you leap to, good doctor." Garak's hands tightened around Julian's biceps. His voice had that low purr that terrified Julian and made him want to tell him all his secrets.

The darkness and adrenaline made Julian reckless. "I wouldn't call that a conclusion," he said.

"More of a beginning?" Damn him, he didn't sound out of breath at all. Julian tried to sit up, but Garak was still holding onto his arms.

"I, er," said Julian. He tried not to think about how intimately they were entwined. His uniform felt far too thin, and far too tight in certain places. He gulped air. "You're a spy. You know what to do in these kinds of situations."

The emergency lighting strips near the floor came on, casting Garak's face in strange sharp shadows. "You've been reading entirely the wrong sort of novels, doctor. If I wanted Starfleet secrets from you, I would not have to seduce you to get them."

"Ah, so you admit you're a spy."

Garak brought his knee up, shifted his weight, and rolled them, flipping Julian onto his back. "What a pity we've ruined dessert," he said. He brought his left hand to his mouth, and, never taking his eyes from Julian's, licked the remains of the larish pie from his fingers.

"There's other kinds of desserts," Julian blurted.

Garak's eyes glinted in the low light. "Why, doctor. I thought you'd never ask."