Truth Or Dare
By Olivia Monteith

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  This story is being posted because it is
the subject of this issues main challenge...  Besides it's a wonderful
story that can be read and re-read -- each time getting better.)
 
 

"Okay, Garak, That's the fourth game you've beaten me at.
It would seem I have no aptitude at Cardassian games of any
kind."

"Really, Doctor, one would think that if anyone on this
station would make a worthy opponent for me it would be a
genetically engineered genius. After all, Chief O'Brien
seems to think it has some affect on your dart game, and
that seems to be quite a simplistic sport."

"Actually, it's harder than it seems. Quark can't play it."

"Yes, but, Ferengi have notoriously bad eyesight. I tried
it once, trying to figure out your fascination with it. I
found it very easy and extremely dull.  Tell me, are all
Earth games so simple?"

"No, there are some games from Earth that take lifetimes to
master," Bashir said a bit defensively.

"That's what you said about chess, Doctor. I believe that I
won three consecutive games just last week against Nog, and
I won two against the lovely Lieutenant Dax, although I
must admit she gave me a thorough pummeling in the first
three. I think that of all of the Earth games I've played,
chess is the one I can appreciate the most. It does take
cunning, strategy, and manipulation of your opponent."

"I think I see the problem. You don't like Earth games
because they are like humans, straightforward, by the rule
books, with a minimum of manipulation and discomfort for
all players. Cardassian games are more....  brutal and
bloodthirsty."

"Doctor..." Garak began, but he was cut off by a wave of
Julian's hand.

"No let me finish, Garak. It would seem to me that people
of different species like games that are like their people
as a whole. For example, Quark has found that he adores
Monopoly, because it's a game much like the Ferengi
philosophy. The point is to corner the market and
come out with the most money. Dax admits to a weakness for
the game of Life, and if any species personifies that game
it's a Trill. Worf likes Earth games that associate with
war and tactical matters, such as Risk..."

"Is there a point to this, Doctor, or did you just want the
chance to compare me to Quark and Commander Worf?" Garak
asked, looking a little disgusted.

In a slightly annoyed tone Bashir said, "I was getting
to that. As I was saying, I believe that there has to be an
Earth game you would like, something that is similar to the
Cardassian mindset...."  he trailed away looking
thoughtful. "Something challenging."

"What you are saying is that there might be a game from
your home planet that would appeal to me because of it's
Cardassian qualities. "

"Yes, now all we have to do is determine what those
qualities are, what the Cardassians are known for?"

"We are known for record keeping of course, strategy,
fact finding, interrogation..."

"That's it!" Bashir exclaimed. "Of course. Truth or Dare."

"Truth or Dare, Doctor?"

"Yes, it's a game that Earth children play."  Garak rolled
his eyes. "It doesn't sound as if it could be all that
complex to me if you *children* play it."

"Oh, don't discount it yet, it can get quite brutal.
Besides, I remember someone telling me once, 'An open mind,
the essence of intellect,'" he finished, with a rueful
smile.

"Well, if you're going to throw my own words back
at me. How do you play?"

"The traditional rules are that one player asks
another player if they would prefer a question, or a
challenge, hence the name. If the player finds that they
don't wish to answer the question asked they have the
option of accepting a dare, and vice versa."

"Seems rather pointless to me," Garak mumbled.

"Garak, I've just played four Cardassian games that seemed
pretty pointless to me, and got my ass handed to me in the
process. The least you can do is try this game, especially
since I went to the extra effort to find something you
would like."

"All right, Doctor. Go on."

Bashir looked at his friend a moment before continuing,
"Now, you have to tell the truth, no matter what...." He
was interrupted again by the Cardassian.

"Doctor, I should tell you that there are some questions
that you might ask that everyone on this station would be
better off if I did not tell you the truth."

"Fine, then we'll limit our question to those of a personal
nature, nothing that would have to do with our respective
organizations. Now, if you wish to not answer the question
then you have to do what you are dared to do, and if you
accept the dare first and find that you don't want to do
whatever is asked of you then you must answer whatever
question that replaces the dare. Dares are limited to
things that are not life threatening, or remotely
dangerous..."

"Please, Doctor I'm not a Klingon."

"However they can be as humiliating as your twisted
imagination has to offer. The same with the questions. Is
all of that clear?"

"Yes, doctor, but I must state in the interest of fair play
that this does seem to be a bit one sided. Your life may be
an open book, whereas I have never been one to share
information about myself. On the other side of the coin, I
doubt that there is very little that I have not
experienced, and you are still young yet, there are many
things you have yet to do. Don't you think it would quickly
become boring if all you do is answer questions and all I
do is accept dares?"

"You have a point, I suppose we should adapt the rules a
bit. Okay, for every dare you must accept two questions,
and for every question I answer I must accept two dares.
And to make it a bit more interesting, we'll take our game
out to the Promenade, say, Quarks?"
 
"Agreed, Doctor."
 
 

The two men settled themselves at a table and placed orders
for drink, then Garak turned to Bashir and said,  "Well,
Doctor, where should we begin?"

"I suppose I should go first since I'm more familiar with
the game, So, Garak, truth or dare?"

"I may as well get a question out of the way, go ahead."

Julian looked thoughtful a moment, then his features
brightened and his eyes lit up. The affect was not lost on
Garak.

"Garak, how old are you? Specifically."

"Thirty five oolats."

"What?"  Bashir asked looking confused.

"That's two questions, Doctor. Do you get a penalty?"

"No, of course not."

"That's a shame. It would make the game more interesting. I
believe it is my turn, Doctor. Truth or dare?"

Shaking his head to clear it, Julian said, "Truth."

"Very well, Doctor.  How old were you when you had your
first sexual experience?"

Julian stared at Garak expressionless for a few moments,
before saying, "You catch on rather quickly, don't you?"

"I've been told that, yes. Answer the question, Doctor."

Julian cleared his throat, and his gaze dropped to
his hands as a flush of red crept up to his face from his
collar. He squirmed in his seat and mumbled something
unintelligible.  "I'm sorry, Doctor, unlike our Ferengi
friends my hearing is not that acute. What did you say?"

"I believe I will take a dare on this one," Julian glared
at Garak.

"Very well. I dare you to answer the question."

Julian said more loudly and indignantly, "That's not how
the game works, Garak."

"Why not?"

"It just doesn't, pick something else."

With an exasperated sigh Garak replied,  "Very well,
Doctor." His eyes traveled around the bar and came to rest
on Leeta. A slow wicked smile came to his lips that made
Julian's blood temperature drop. "Doctor, look at the color
of Leeta's lipstick. Isn't that an awful shade?"

"I suppose, as lipstick colors go. Why?"

"I'd like to see how that color would look on you. I dare
you to go over there and ask her if you might borrow it,
and then put it on."
 
If Julian's face was flushed before, it was ash white now.
"You've got to be kidding."

The Cardassian only shook his head and smiled in that
very alarming way of his that would frighten Klingon
warriors.

"I can't believe what I've gotten myself into," Julian
muttered as he slowly rose from his seat. He walked over to
the bar where Leeta, and Major Kira were talking and waited
for Leeta to ask what she could get for him.  Blushing
a deep red again, Julian said, "Nothing to drink," He
looked back to the table where Garak sat with that damn
grin on his face. "I just need to borrow your lipstick a
moment, do you have it on you?" He asked hoping she
wouldn't.

Leeta looked at Julian who refused to meet either her or
the Major's gaze, then she answered slowly, "Yes,.. yes I
do." Quickly searching her person she came up with a small
tube marked Sunrise Surprise and handed it to him.

Taking a deep, fortifying breath, the doctor uncapped it
and began to clumsily apply it to his lips, trying to
ignore the dumbfounded stares of Kira, Leeta and several
Ferengi waiters.

"Thank you," he murmured as he handed it back, before
walking quickly back to his seat. As he let out a breath he
hadn't realized he was holding, he whispered furiously,
"Well...?"

Garak appeared to be examining his face, and reached across
the table to wipe off a bit of lipstick that was below
Julian's lip with his thumb, before saying,  "No,
definitely not your color," and handed Julian a napkin.

Julian scrubbed at his lips harshly. He looked at Garak and
asked, "Did I get it all off?"

The Cardassian took Julian's chin in one hand and a fresh
napkin in the other and dabbed at the corner of his
companion's mouth, then turning his face from one side to
the other, seemed satisfied with the results.  Laying the
napkin aside he said calmly, "Your turn, and in the
interest of saving time, I'll take a dare."

Julian narrowed his eyes as he tried to come up with a dare
that would avenge him. His eyes rested on Major Kira who,
like Leeta was still staring at him from the bar. The
corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile.  "Very well,
Garak, I dare you to go over to the bar and kiss Major
Kira."

Garak looked nonplussed as he responded, "I thought the
rules stated that it couldn't be anything life
threatening."

"Are you afraid of her, Garak?"

"As Bajoran women go, yes. If you're wise, you would be
too."

"I don't think she'll kill you, Garak. I'll even call
Constable Odo at the first sign of trouble."

Garak regarded him coolly, and asked, "Why, so he can
finish what she started? You know as well as I do how he
feels about her."

"Are you saying you would rather not accept the dare?"
Bashir challenged.

"No, I believe I can accomplish what you have asked." The
Cardassian rose and walked over to the bar with all the
grace of a Terran snake sliding gently through the grass.
He approached the Bajoran women at the bar and spoke to
them in low tones that Bashir could not hear. After a few
moments conversation, the three of them smiled, the two
women both nodded and then very much to Julian's surprise,
Garak leaned over and kissed first Leeta and then taking
Kira's hand, kissed her as well, a little to the left of
her lips. He spoke a few more words to them, and then made
his way back to the table, where he sat down and calmly
took a sip of his kanaar.

Julian stared at him wide eyed, and amazed. "How did you do
that?" he demanded.

"Really, Doctor, one shouldn't kiss and tell."

"Garak! What did you say to them?"

"If you must know, I told them that today was a Cardassian
holiday, much like the Terran Valentines day. Our customs
are slightly different, in that instead of sending flowers
and gifts to only our loved ones, we kiss the most
beautiful people in our presence. Oh, and by the way,
Doctor,..." He leaned over the small table and kissed
Julian squarely on the mouth.

"What are you doing!?" Julian said in a startled tone.

"Adhering to an old Cardassian custom that I just made up.
Beside, the ladies are watching."

Sure enough, Kira and Leeta were looking, only now the
smiles on their faces were frozen there from shock instead
of being pleased that Garak had thought so highly of their
looks.

"Besides, I had to see if I had any of that hideous
lipstick on me, if there had been any on your lips after I
kissed you then I would know."

"You could have just asked," Julian said trying to hide the
affect that Garak's kiss had had on him.

"I believe it is my turn again. What is your preference
this time, Doctor?"

Julian considered a few seconds before saying, "I may as
well get this other dare out of the way."  His stomach
fluttered as he watched Garak's eyes travel around the bar.

"Ah," he said looking rather pleased. Julian followed his
gaze to see Dax and Sisko entering the bar.

"Ohhh noo," Julian moaned as he dropped his head into his
hands. Garak could never resist the chance to tease him
about his infatuation with the willowy Trill.  "No, Garak,
please not anything to do with Dax."

"Not at all, Doctor. I'm merely going to challenge you to
go over there.... and polish Captain Sisko's head."

Julian's head jerked up. "You've got to be kidding."

Garak cocked an eyeridge. "I assure you that I am not. Do
you you wish to decline the challenge?"

The human thought for a moment, and remembered the first
question Garak had asked him. "No," he said quickly.

He stood on shaky legs and went over to the captain's
table. He paused as he reached it, at a loss for words.

"Yes, Doctor?" Sisko prompted.

"Uhm... Captain.. I..I..noticed that you seem to have... a
dry scalp," he said as inspiration took him.

"A dry scalp.." Sisko repeated dubiously.

"Yes, sir. If you allow this to go on, it could become
quite irritated."

Sisko glanced at Dax, who shrugged and smiled in that
amused way she had.
 
"And just what do you suggest I do about it, Doctor?" Sisko
asked as he once again met Julian's eyes.

"One moment, sir," the doctor answered as he rushed over to
a nearby replicator and retrieved a bottle of oil and a
soft cloth. He then proceeded to pour a bit of the oil onto
the cloth and rub it into Sisko's scalp. Dax had to cover
her mouth with her napkin to keep from laughing out loud at
the sight. Captain Sisko looked mildly annoyed and slightly
flustered to be sitting in a bar having his bare palate
buffed by the young doctor.

Bashir quickly finished what he was doing and meekly handed
Sisko the oil and the cloth. "Just use this every morning
after your shower," he said quietly before rushing back to
the relative haven of his chair.

Sisko looked at Dax and asked, "Was he wearing lipstick?"

"Not a very good shade either," she replied.

"There, satisfied?" he asked irritably as he sat down.

"Why, yes, Doctor. I have to congratulate you. You handled
that in an almost Cardassian manner."  Garak raised his
glass in a sort of salute to Julian's deviousness and took
a sip.

"My turn," Julian said with relish.

"Very well, I suppose you've earned it."

"All right. Now, how old are you in relation
to Earth years."

"Older than you."

"Answer the question, Garak."

"What is this fascination you seem to have for my age,
Doctor? Do you intend to gloat? I can assure you that for a
Cardassian I am in the prime years of my life."

"I didn't ask if you were older than me or in the prime of
your life, I asked how old you were in Earth years," Bashir
said with malicious amusement in his eyes.

For the first time since the beginning of the game Garak
seemed a little bit unsettled. "Really, Doctor.
Cardassians respect age, when one grows older, they grow
wiser as well.  It's not a preoccupation my culture shares
with yours."

"Then you shouldn't mind telling me," Julian added, leaning
his chin in his hand.

Garak took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then said
very quietly, "In Earth years, I am approximately... fifty
five." He looked up to find the doctor looking surprised.
"What, you knew I was some what older than I looked."

"It's not that, it's just that I just realized your only
four years younger than my father."

"If you're finished marveling that I can still walk without
assistance, we can get on with this ... childish game."

"Yes, yes, of course."

"Now, Doctor, I believe you have to answer a question for
me. I'll repeat my first question. How old were you
when you first had sex?"

Julian's face flushed again before he let it drop back into
his hands. "Oh, Allah, Garak. We're back to that one?"

"Yes, and you have to answer it this time."

Julian lifted his head and asked, "Can you keep a secret?"
before he opened his eyes to look at his friend.

"Really, Doctor. You're not talking to Commander Dax or
Chief O'Brien. If any one on this station can keep a
secret, it's me."

"Of course, I must have forgotten who I was talking to.
Well, to be quite honest I was always too busy trying to be
the best at everything when I was younger, and during
medical school I hardly had time, what with studying and
all of that,  besides I've never been very good in social
situations...." He realized he was rambling. "Twenty five.
After Palis and I were engaged." When he looked up at Garak
he expected to see amusement in his friends eyes, but was
met with compassionate understanding instead.

Garak smiled kindly and said simply, "Truth," although he
already knew what the question would be.

"How old were you?" Bashir asked a bit shyly.

"Too young. Cardassians feel that the older a person is
before they explore that avenue, the better. As a matter of
fact, it's not uncommon for us to reserve that part of
ourselves for marriage."

"It used to be that way for humans as well.  Things have
changed quite a bit over the last few centuries. Your
turn."

"If it's not too personal, how many?"

"No, that's the point of the game, isn't it?  To make the
other answer questions that they don't want to answer, to
make them squirm," Julian replied, his eyes were locked to
the table top, but Garak could see the hard glint in them.

"Doctor, this game was your suggestion, and you don't have
to answer me. I'm not asking to see you humiliated. I'm
asking as a friend, and besides, you do have the option of
selecting a dare."

"No you'll just come back to it later.  I've been with
three women. Palis, Leeta, and a woman on Risa when Leeta
and I went through the Rite of Separation. And how many
women have you been with?" he asked meeting Garak's gaze
with a challenging glare.

Garak's eyes never left his as he said, "Only one."

Defiance was forgotten as Julian's jaw dropped in shock.
"You’re joking."

"I wish I was, Doctor. If I hadn't been married to her I
would never have been with her, either." he deadpanned
before lifting his drink to his lips.

For once Julian was utterly speechless. "You were married?"

"That is what I said, Doctor. Weren't you paying
attention?"

"What happened?"

"That's another question. We really should discuss
penalties for this game."

"Garak, you can't just drop something like that on me and
expect me to just go on with the game."

"And why not? So, I was married. I understand marriage is
still common practice among humans as well."

"Yes, I just never imagined you to be married."

"I don't see why not. After all, children are highly valued
among my people. The only way to have a legal heir is to be
married. Now, Doctor..."

Still dumbfounded and wanting to get to the next turn,
Julian blurted, "Yes, go on."

"Come with me if you please, Doctor."

Befuddled, Julian got up and rushed to catch up with the
Cardassian's retreating back. Their path led to Garak's
shop, where the tailor entered his code and walked through
the door before the were completely opened. "Well, come on,
Doctor. Come in and take off that uniform."

"Excuse me?!"

"You heard me, take off that dreadful uniform.  You can go
in the changing room. I'll be with you in a moment."

Julian stood a few moments in the tiny, curtained room
where he had hidden six years earlier, listening to two
Klingon women plotting, and where his friendship with the
Cardassian had been cemented. He was not sure why, but, he
did remove his coveralls and the grey turtle neck, and was
standing in the grey shorts and t-shirt that were standard
Starfleet issue when Garak appeared.

"I'm sorry, Doctor but those will have to go as well."

"What?! Garak, I think now would be a good time to tell me
what you expect of me."

Garak held up a hanger from which hung the skimpiest,
cheapest, green lace teddy that Garak had in his shop. "Put
this on. I think it should fit. Oh, and here is the garter
belt. I'll be outside if you have any trouble."

"Garak, wait! I can't wear this!"

"I do have other sizes..."

"No, I mean that I won't wear this! This is preposterous!"

"Doctor, if you don't accept this dare you will be breaking
the rules."

"Damn the rules! Why would you even want me to put this on
any way?"

"So you can model it for me in front of my shop, of
course."

Julian almost fainted dead away. "No, Garak. I
can't...that's too much to ask..."

"If you like I could come up with something else for you to
wear, or I could try to find a suitable replacement
dare...."

Julian didn't trust that look on the tailor's face, he was
fairly certain that there were things far more twisted and
humiliating in that mind than his, best not to provoke
them.  "How long?" He asked scowling.

"Oh, say five minutes. We do want to get on with the game
after all, don't we?"

"You have no idea," Julian mumbled under his breath. Five
minutes would give him ample time to think of a revenge.
Garak smiled and stepped back through the curtain into the
main room of the shop.  Julian couldn't even bring himself
to look in the mirror once he had the lacy contraption
on. Seething inside he stalked out into the shop.

Garak's face lit up when he saw the doctor, "Ah, Doctor,
there you are. Quite flattering I assure you. I would say
that that color suits you far better than Leeta's
lipstick."

"Shut up, and let's get this over with," Julian growled.
Mercifully, it was rather late in the station's evening,
and there were few people walking the Promenade at this
hour. This is not to say that it was completely empty,
there was Garak of course standing in the doorway of the
shop, with that maddening smile, and there was a tall,
furry alien who paused in his journey to Quark's and asked
in a low voice, "How much, Doctor?"

Bashir's scowl grew deeper and he replied menacingly, "You
couldn't afford it, Fred. Move along."

The only other being on the station to see Julian in his
current state of disgrace was none other than Constable
Odo.

"Dr. Bashir, what in the name of the Prophets do you
think you are doing?  We do have dress code you know."

"It's a long story, you see Garak and I are playing a
game..." he began, but, Odo cut him off with a wave of his
hand.

"I don't question what 'games' you play with Mr. Garak
during your off time, just at least have the decency to go
to private quarters to do it. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Constable."

"Doctor, your time is up. My aren't your cheeks a becoming
color?"

"I was just thinking that my face might be this color
permanently," he fumed.

"Well, those cheeks too."

At this point, the good doctor had had just about enough.
He pushed past Garak to the dressing room, and hurriedly
began to remove his outrageous costume. In his haste, he
ripped the material, throwing it to the ground. He pulled
on his uniform and stormed out of the dressing room. "Put
it on my account," he said as he left the shop with out
affording the Cardassian a second glance.

* * * * * * * * * *

He was stretched out on his couch, slugging back his second
scotch in as many minutes when the door chimed. He ignored
it, and allowed it to ring twice more, and then there was
silence for about a minute. Then the door slid aside, and
Garak came in uninvited.

"You left before taking your turn."

"That's because I don't want to play any more," he
answered, fully aware that he sounded like a spoiled child.
Maybe he was, but, in his opinion, things had gotten wildly
out of control.

"I would have thought that you would be eager for revenge."

"You would only come back with something ten times worse.
What would be the point in doing that to myself?"

"I apologize, Doctor. Perhaps I went a bit too far..."

"You think?" Julian retorted sarcastically as he rose to
retrieve another drink from the replicator.

Garak watched him, deeply regretting that he had caused his
friend so much embarrassment. "Maybe we could continue the
game with another revision of the rules."

"What kind of revision?" Julian asked, not really wanting
to hear it or anything else from the tailor.

"Instead of Truth or Dare, we might change it so that if
you don't want to answer a question, you have to take a
drink of your choice. No more dares."

"I'm not certain I care to see you drunk, though I hope
that I will be soon."

"I promise that things will not get out of hand again," he
said raising his hand, palm out in a solemn oath.

There were still some things he had wanted to ask Garak,
and the scotch had already begun to numb his anger.
Reluctantly he agreed.

The two made themselves comfortable on either side of the
table, each with a bottle and a glass at their side.  "I
believe that it is your turn," Garak gently prodded.

"Right," Bashir said, feeling faintly muzzy. His mind raced
over the questions that he had wanted to ask, and found
that he couldn't remember many of them. One did pop to the
front of his mind, though.  "Did you have any children?"

"One, a daughter."  Julian nodded his head before saying,
"Your turn."

"Why are you so curious about my personal life?"

Julian frowned. Why was he so interested? "I'm not sure. I
suppose I never could resist a mystery."

"I suppose that's as good a reason as any. Your turn."

"What happened to your wife and daughter."

Garak stared at the human a moment, considering what, if
anything, to tell him.  Finally he reached over and poured
himself a glass of kanaar.

"What makes you think I won't ask again later?"

"If you ask questions like that too often I might be in a
more receptive mood later. My turn."

Bashir shrugged his shoulders loosely, "Go ahead."

"Is there anyone on this station that you care for more
than anyone else?"

Julian considered a moment, eyeing his bottle, then stated,
"Yes."

"Who?"

Smiling slyly he said, "That's another question now isn't
it?"

"You're right of course.  Go ahead, Doctor."

Bashir's expression changed from sly to highly amused. "Was
sex with your wife so frightful that you never wanted to
try it again?" he asked with a barely contained snicker.

"I never said that I hadn't had sex with anyone else."

"Yes, you did. You said in Quark's that you had only been
with one woman and if you hadn't been married to her...."

Realization dawned on him and Garak enjoyed watching the
color suffuse his feature once again.

Bashir dropped his face down to his hands again and said,
"Great, now I'm embarrassing myself. I think I'll have
another drink, now."

"Are you sure that's wise, Doctor?"

"No, you’re probably right. I've already got two up on you.
Go ahead."

"Have you never been involved with another man before,
Doctor?"

Julian smiled and answered, "No, that would be yet another
experience you've had the pleasure of and I have not."

"What a shame," the tailor commented, sounding a bit
wistful.

By this point Julian was beyond noticing, though.  "My
turn," he said in a sing song voice. "What happened to your
family, Garak?"

Garak sighed and reached again for his bottle. "You are
persistent."

"Just trying to even things up a bit."

Garak swallowed the kanaar a bit faster than was wise and
set the glass aside before saying, "Really, Doctor. You
should be careful. One might think you were trying to get
me drunk so you could take advantage of me."

"Hmmph,... As if I could. Or would."

It did not escape Garak's notice that Julian had not
been shocked by his remark. "It's my turn. So, Julian, why
haven't you ever been with a man?"

"Just never been approached by one I guess, at least not
until Fred propositioned me on the Promenade this evening."

Garak bit his tongue to keep in under control. Could it be
that Julian had not noticed his blatant flirting all these
years?

"My turn."

"Yes, go ahead, Doctor."

"What happened to your wife and daughter?"

"Really, you have a one track mind."

"At least I'm not asking you about your sex life, or lack
thereof."

"I can see that you aren't going to give up.  Very well, my
wife divorced me when I was exiled, and I haven't seen her
or my daughter since. Now if that answer is satisfactory,
maybe we could move on to more interesting topics."

"Yes, of course. Go ahead."

"Have you ever thought of being with a man?"

Julian stared glassy eyed at Garak for a moment, then
leaned forward and said, "I was getting thirsty anyway."

"You have!"

"I didn't say that!"

"You may as well have, Doctor. I do believe this game is
far more effective than any Cardassian interrogation
technique I've heard of to date," he crowed, his eyes
gleaming.

"What does it matter to you?" Julian asked defiantly.

"Is that my question?"

"If that's the only way to get an answer out of you, yes."

"Well you won't," Garak said lifting the glass to his lips.
"My turn. Who was the man who sparked your interest?"

Julian defiantly slugged back another shot, before asking,
"What do you care?"

By way of refusing to answer the question, Garak joyfully
poured himself another glass of  kanaar before asking, "Is
it Captain Sisko?"

"No. Why does it matter?"

"Call it morbid curiosity. Is it Chief O'Brien?"

"Hell no! Miles is a married man for God's sake!"

"I suppose I can rule out Commander Worf as well, then."

The doctor's body was racked by a shudder. "Please do," he
said sounding more than a bit disturbed by the thought.

"My turn. Have *you* ever felt attracted to Captain Sisko?"
he smiled wickedly.

"I'd be dead if I didn't," Garak replied candidly.

Julian howled with laughter. He was beginning to relax and
enjoy himself as the effects of the alcohol settled over
him like a warm blanket.

"Constable Odo?" Garak asked.

"No, but, the possibilities are interesting to entertain,"
the doctor chuckled as he found himself reclining on the
couch once more. He paused long enough to think before
asking, "When was the last time you had sex?"

"Three months ago. Now, Doctor, this man, is he human or
non-human?"

"I'm only going to answer this one because I just got
bloody comfortable and I don't want to have to move to get
my glass. Besides, half of the men on this station are non-
human. So is he.  My turn, Garak. Who do you currently lust
for?"

"Unlike you, Doctor, I feel more comfortable getting the
drink," Garak said leaning forward for his bottle.

"Who is he, Doctor?" he continued after taking a sip.

"Oooohhh.... I can't take another drink without my stomach
beginning to work in reverse. Let's play another game."

"Really, Julian, it's too late in the evening to start
another game. Why don't you just answer the question."

"You like a good mystery, too, don't you, Garak? Shall I
tell you what I know about him and you tell me who you
think it is?"

Garak sighed and said in an exasperated tone, "Very well,
Doctor. I'm listening."

"Well, to begin with he has these great pale eyes. They
seem to see into your soul, he's  very intelligent, and he
has a great sense of humor, although he does tend to go too
far. He's been around, he's done a lot of things I could
only dream of. I think that he thinks that I'm ignorant,
though. Sometimes he makes me feel so ... small. I don't
think that he knows that it hurts me. Maybe I hurt him,
too."

"Not as much as he hurts himself, I'm sure," the tailor
said quietly.

"So, any guesses, any advice?"

"I think I know who this is, Doctor. If it is who I believe
it to be, you should approach him tomorrow, when your mind
is clear. He feels the same way for you, but he wouldn't
want you to make a mistake about this while you are in a
questionable state. If you feel the same way tomorrow, you
should go see him and tell him what you've told me. Now, if
you're going to have a clear head tomorrow, Doctor, you
should go to bed. I need to go, I have an early day ahead
of me in my shop.  Goodnight, Doctor."

As he rose to go, Julian sat up, perhaps a bit too quickly.
"You have to go so soon?"

"I'm afraid so. I have inventory and need to be in the shop
earlier than usual. Will we meet for lunch then, Doctor?"
He hoped desperately that Julian would catch the subtle
hint.

"As far as I know, yes. I think we have some serious
matters to discuss. Goodnight, Garak."

"Goodnight, Julian." The tailor's heart was light with hope
as he returned to his empty quarters. Hope that they would
not be so empty tomorrow night.

END.

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