Winter Sport
By Fenris

G/B, NC-17

The mush factor on this one's higher than my usual, but, well---shit,
folks, I just *can't* write an angsty holiday story.
I'll torture them later and balance it out.

Disclaimers-
These characters belong to Paramount. I am merely taking them for some
exercise, and returning them rumpled but much less tense. Not one cent is
being made off  of this, now or ever. Adult content. Not responsible for
personal property.  No running in pool area. Not for internal use. Protected
by Lo-Jack. Our delicious coffee is served extremely hot. Moose Crossing.
Bridge freezes before road.
=================================

Once again, Garak had to wonder exactly when his last shred of common sense
had completely deserted him. That it had was the only explanation he could
give himself for having agreed to accompany Dr. Bashir on this idiotic
endeavor.

< I should know better by now. Really, all it should take is hearing Julian
say "holosuite," and I ought to be through the door before he's finished
the sentence. >

He looked at the eager smile that lit Bashir's young, mobile features as he
drew Garak through the usual early evening crowd at Quark's, and sighed
inwardly. Garak recognized a no-win situation when he saw it. He resigned
himself to the inevitable, and continued to let the human tow him along by
one elbow.

Seemingly oblivious to his companion's distinct lack of enthusiasm, Bashir
led the resigned Cardassian toward one of the holosuite doors, talking
animatedly the entire time.

"Commander Sisko has this holosuite reserved for the next week, to give
people who want to participate a chance to practice. I really think you're
going to enjoy this, Garak."

The holosuite door opened, and they stepped into an eerily white, brightly
moonlit landscape. Garak exhaled and watched his breath congeal into mist
in the cold, still air with a touch of horror.

"Oh, I don't think so, doctor." He took a step backward. "You go ahead and
let me know how it was. I'm sure you'll have a lovely time."

Delighted, Bashir took in the pristine snowy landscape, the dark shadows of
clustered evergreens dotting the gentle hillsides and the shining flat
surface of the frozen lake before them. At Garak's words, he cut the survey
short and turned to face the Cardassian, frowning.

"Garak, you promised me that you'd do this."

"I was obviously not in full possession of all the facts at that time,
doctor. Surely you aren't going to hold me to our agreement in these
circumstances? Or is it just that you'll enjoy watching me slowly freeze to
death?"

"Garak, stop trying to pick a fight. I'm not letting you out of this that
easily." Garak immediately assumed a surprised, slightly hurt expression.
Bashir gamely ignored it and continued. "No, Elim, of course I don't want
you to freeze. But you *did* promise me you would try."

Garak sighed, mentally threw in the towel and cinched his tunic's high neck
up even higher, completely covering his neck ridges. Julian slipped an arm
around the powerful waist and gave the older man an affectionate squeeze
and a brilliant smile.

"I knew you wouldn't go back on it. Come on, Garak. I promise you, you
won't even feel the cold after you've had a chance to get out on the ice
and warm up a bit."

Garak threw him a dark look and began trudging down the hill, heading for a
long wooden bench situated a few feet from the frozen lake's edge. Halfway
down the slope, he stopped and looked back over his shoulder at the
following human, grumbling,

"Remind me again, whose idea this idiotic theme party was?"

Julian slipped on an icy spot and slid into the older man, catching himself
on Garak's shoulder. As he did, the Cardassian reached out to steady him.

"Whoa--thanks. It was Commander Sisko's idea, as you very well remember. He
thought it would be fun to have some sort of event in honor of the season,
because it's winter on both Earth and Bajor right now."

"And because of a meaningless coincidence, Sisko decides he simply *must*
subject all of us to another one of his silly historical reenactments."

"The baseball game wasn't a reenactment, Garak, it was a real competition.
And winter is a significant time on both Earth and Bajor. A lot of holidays
are observed on both worlds, during winter or on the longest night of the
year. Commander Sisko wants to recreate an Old Earth style winter social.
Evidently a skating party was something that was done at those a lot, at
one time." Bashir paused, then shrugged and continued, talking faster as he
warmed up to his subject. "I think it's a marvelous idea. Sort of an early
Christmas or Solstice party for the people from Earth, and it gives the
Bajorans and the other people here a little taste of older Earth culture.
And people can dress up in costumes of the period, if they like."

"Winter social. Hmph." Garak growled, sounding eerily like Odo for a
moment. "I still don't see why Humans and Bajorans have so many religious
holidays held during the worst part of the worst season of the year."

Julian shrugged and smiled fondly at the irritated Cardassian as they
seated themselves on the narrow bench.

"I don't think most of them are held in honor of winter itself, Garak. I
don't know about Bajor, but Christmas and Hanukah are religious, and I
think the Solstice had more to do with honoring the idea of...I don't know,
renewal, I suppose. That people could not only survive the winter, but
still have the spirit to look forward to spring and celebrate."

Garak shot him a dubious look. "Personally, I think it makes absolutely no
sense to celebrate a tradition of wasting valuable resources during a time
of hardship."

Having delivered his final word on the subject, the Cardassian began putting
on the strange footgear Julian handed to him.  < This entire arrangement is just
so typical of Sisko >, he thought. Obsessed with nostalgia for ancient Earth
history, the man seemed to assume that all of DS9's's inhabitants naturally
shared his fascination for it. He should have known that the baseball game
was only the beginning.

Bashir had wanted him to participate in that, too, joining him on Sisko's
team, but Garak had managed to wriggle out of that nightmare--barely. It
hadn't been easy. It wasn't as if he could reasonably present Julian with
some ancient baseball-related trauma from his