Peace on Earth
by: Olivia Montieth
rated: PG-13

Takes place in the same time and universe as Frightfully Fun, where the boys are living
together on Earth. Julian is head of a Federation study on Jem 'Hadar, Cardassian, and
Changeling biology because he is the only Starfleet doctor to have worked with all three
species. Garak is working with Starfleet Intelligence, breaking Cardassian codes.

In this one, the Garak and Julian have company for Christmas. Much lunacy, and poor
Garak gets put through hell.
 
Tip from me to you, I have been told by a reliable source that the best scenes include one
with two naked men, one with a guy wearing a red suit. I also kinda like one a little later
that features more naked moments, but that's just me. Enjoy it, and Merry Christmas!!!!
 
~~~~~

Elim Garak entered the door of his modest home that he shared with
Doctor Bashir one evening, a few days prior to the Earth holiday, Christmas, and was
attacked. He found himself swept along in a tide of joy as Julian wrapped him in a breath-
stealing embrace, pushed him back against the door frame and kissed him long and hard.
 
When he was finally released, he saw that Julian had only just gotten home himself. The
cheeks were ruddy from the cold, his eyes bright and his clothes smelled of fresh air and
wood smoke.
 
"Taking the mistletoe a bit more seriously today?" Garak teased as he reached for the thin
form of his young lover, only to have him turn obliviously and walk into the den, just in
time to avoid Garak's own display of affection. No matter, he thought. I have always
enjoyed a chase.
 
With a wicked gleam in his eye that the doctor couldn't see, he followed his prey into the
room that was now dominated by a very large tree that Julian had insisted on having, and
had even decorated with lots of bright shiny objects and lights that annoyed Garak to no
end. Garak was, however, trying to be open minded about his mates many holidays and
rituals. Some were even enjoyable. He had heard that there was one known as Valentine's
Day that sounded very, very nice. As this one included exchanging gifts, it was rather
nice as well.
 
"That was part of it, but also, I have splendid news!" Bashir crowed.
 
"You bought a new set of pajamas? Please tell me they are Darvarian silk and
compliment your complexion."
 
"No, but that does sound nice," He responded with his own wicked grin as he turned to
face the tailor.
 
"We could pretend that you did and go try them out,..." Garak suggested as he slid his
arms around Julian's back and began kissing his neck.
 
"Maybe. But first I have to tell you the news," he continued doggedly, even as his own
breathing became a bit labored.
 
"If you must..." Garak replied as he moved to the shell like ear, where he kissed lightly
before darting his tongue inside a tiny bit. He was gratified to feel
Julian shiver with passion.
 
"You were saying?" he prompted after a few more minutes, during which Julian seemed
to have completely forgotten what was so important.
 
"Hm? Oh, yes, of course. I.... I wanted to tell you, we are going to be having company.
That’s all."
 
Now the tailor’s devilish nature came out full force, and he wished to tease his lover.
 
"How interesting. When, and who?" he asked, nearly stopping all stimulation, but still
holding Julian against him and nuzzling his slender neck.
 
"Miles, Kieko and the kids. Tomorrow.  Look, can we move this to the bedroom? I got
carpet burns last time that stung for days. Garak... Garak?  What’s wrong?"
 
"You said the O’Briens are coming for a visit?"
 
"Yes, that’s right."
 
"Tomorrow? That’s awfully short notice if they intend to find a hotel."
 
"Why would they find a hotel?”  They can stay with us."
 
"No, they can’t."
 
"Of course they can! I know the house is small, but we'll manage."

"Dearest, what you don’t seem to comprehend is that it is not a question of where they
will sleep or whether or not we will have room. I don’t want them here."
 
"Elim! I’m shocked. Why on Earth not?"
 
"Are you forgetting that we are talking about a man who got so drunk at our wedding that
when he made the toast as the best man, he said, and I quote 'To Julian.  There’s no
accounting for taste. Just watch your back, ‘cause I’ve seen the way he does, and it’s
damn disturbing.!'?"
 
 "He wouldn’t have said that if he hadn’t been so drunk. It was a difficult time for him. I
was leaving, and our marriage came as a shock to him..."
 
"I’m sorry if my timing was so stressful for him. I only knew that if I didn’t say
something soon, you would be gone for good, and I have missed too many opportunities.
How thoughtless of me not to take the Chief’s feelings into account when I asked you to
marry me.  After all, he only has his wife and children to comfort him on those long and
lonely nights. I, on the other hand had ... I’m sorry what did I have? That’s right, I had a
business that was being sorely neglected, counseling sessions with Ms. Ezri, and endless
codes to decipher. I should have been quite content," he said bitterly as he let Julian go.
 
"And  let us not forget those two delightful children!"
 
"Elim, how long are you going to go on about that? Children say things they don’t
understand, and they break things all the time without meaning to."
 
"Ah, but to break the bust of my mother? And to make matters worse, Molly came and
informed me that 'Yoshi was climbing the bookshelf and knocked some things off, but
don’t worry, the only thing to break was that statue of the ugly knobby woman.'  It’s too
much for a Cardassian to bear!"
 
"Garak, it’s only for one night, and they will leave the next day for Keiko’s
grandmother’s house, and from there Miles will be going home to meet his new step
mother for the first time. They won’t even be here twenty-four hours, eight of which you
will be asleep.  Please make an effort to be friendly? Miles is my best friend, after you,
that is," he quickly amended. "It’s Christmas for crying out loud. You know, Peace On
Earth, Goodwill Toward Men..."
 
"Julian, I swear by my father’s spirit that if you break into song I will strangle you. I have
heard enough Christmas songs to last me the rest of my life. They can stay one night, and
I will be hospitable. Any longer than twenty-four hours, and I will not be responsible for
my actions."
 
"That will be enough. Thank you for trying. You know that I love you, don’t you?"
 
"That would be the only reason I am willing to allow this. Love has not come to me so
often that I can afford to cast it aside because of ill mannered friends and their equally ill
mannered children."
 
"I will have a word with Miles when he gets here. I’ll try to make sure he behaves
himself."
 
"Genetically enhanced or not, that will prove to be quite a challenge."
 
“You’re right, but then I have some experience dealing with overbearing, obnoxious,
pushy, condescending older men.”
 
“Quite amusing, Julian,” he said dryly as he took the younger man in his arms again.
“Now, I believe we were planning our next joint venture when you felt compelled to
throw cold water on my good mood. We were discussing silk nightwear that would feel
very nice to us both....”
 
“Ah, yes. Where were we?”
 

The moment Garak had been dreading had finally arrived. With the hum of a transporter,
the O’Brien family was here. Never had a sound been so ominous to Garak’s ears.
 
Julian was ecstatic as he bounded forward, flinging himself headlong into the knot of
humans.  Molly immediately attached herself to his leg while both Miles and Kieko
embraced him tightly as if he were a long lost relative.
 
With his usual reserve, Garak hung back, regarding this open display of emotionalism
coolly. These were Julian’s friends, and he cared for them deeply. Garak understood his
mate’s attachment to these people who had been his adopted family of sorts for so long,
but at the same time, he felt utterly alone. This irritated him to no end. It was irrational
and childish.
 
After several seconds of loud exclamations, embracing and back clapping, the group of
humans once more became aware that there was another in the room.  Kieko was the first
to speak to him, saying warmly as she took his hand in hers, “Garak! How wonderful to
see you again.  Marriage seems to agree with you.”
 
Her boorish husband decided to add, “Yeah, looks like you’re puttin’ on a few kilos
there.”
 
To which Garak promptly replied, “Maybe a few, but it seems to me that your own
waistband could stand some relief. Perhaps while you are here you might let me get into
your trousers...” He knew how it would sound, but he also knew the affect it would have
on the chief as well.  “After all, one of my professions was as a tailor,” he added with a
wink. This seemed to have unsettled the Irishman enough that he stared dumbfounded at
Garak a moment, then flushed a deep shade of crimson.
 
Garak felt Julian’s hand close forcefully over his and turned to see a dangerous look in
the doctor’s eye. “That’s sweet of you to offer, Elim, but I’m sure that
Miles wouldn’t want to put you out.” Then he leaned a little closer and said so that only
Garak could hear, “And if he doesn’t knock you out, I just might give it a try myself. He
was only making small talk.”  Then the valiant young doctor turned to their guests and
said, “Well, let me show you to your room.
It’s not much, but I think it will be large enough to accommodate you.
We moved Elim’s computer console and sewing equipment into the garage to give you
more space, and the bathroom is on the opposite side of the hall, right next door to our
bedroom door.....” he began as he lead the way to the office/spare bedroom.
 
“Molly and Yoshi should be all right in the den, they’ll enjoy being able to sleep in the
room with the tree, and the Christmas lights can act as a nightlight of sorts for them, if
they like...”
 
He was interrupted by the high pitched whine of young Ms. O’Brien, complaining, “I
don’t want to sleep with Yoshi! He wets the bed and he drools. And he kicks...”
 
“Molly, we’ll discuss it later. Besides, Yoshi has special pants to sleep in,” Kieko said,
trying to smooth things over. Unfortunately, the discussion of his nocturnal habits seemed
to be something of a sore point for Yoshi, who ducked his head against Miles’ shoulder
and began to wail out his utter humiliation for the entire neighborhood to hear.  Molly
continued to argue with her mother in a manner that made Garak want to seek out the
utility tape and give her a nice long lecture about parental respect, while Miles tried in
vain to comfort the baby, who only grew louder when he found that it got him sympathy.
Somehow the entire procession had come to a dead halt in the hallway, effectively
blocking Garak from the peace and solitude of his and Julian’s bedroom. He tried several
times to politely suggest that they might continue their family discussion in the spare
bedroom, but it seemed his voice was only audible to himself.
 
His self-control finally gave way, with only seconds left to save his sanity. Something
had to be done. “All of you, would you *please* shut up?!”
 
While it lacked finesse, it was very effective, which was all that he wanted at the
moment.
 
“Molly, we will make Yoshi his own pallet separate from yours.  Yoshi, if you could stop
that indignant blubbering, I will tell you a story before bedtime. I’ve been told by a
reliable source that I’m quite good at it. Chief, Mrs. O’Brien, I’m sure you are tired from
your journey and want to rest. If you’ll just go down the hall and turn to your left, you’ll
find the room that Julian and I prepared for you. Everything you need should be in there.
As Julian said, the bathroom is across the hall. When we are all settled and rested, we’ll
go out to dinner.  Julian, would you care to see them to their accommodations?”
 
He expected Julian to be livid about his behavior, but found that the doctor seemed
grateful that something had brought order to the situation. When the
O’Briens were settled in their room, Julian found him in their bedroom, lying across the
bed with a cool washcloth pressed to his eyes.
 
“I’m sorry,” Julian said as he sat down beside his husband, placing a sympathetic hand on
his knee. “They did get a bit loud didn’t they?”
 
“Doctor, compared to that, a warp core breach could be more accurately described as ‘a
bit loud’.  That would more accurately described as horrendous, deafening,
nightmarish....”
 
“Now you are exaggerating.”
 
“Perhaps, but I can assure you, not by much. How much longer before they leave?”
 
“Twenty three hours, forty two minutes, and eighteen seconds.  Sixteen seconds....”
 
“Far too long would have been sufficient.”
 
“Garak, you know that Miles and his family mean a lot to me, and I haven’t seen them
since we left the station all those months ago. Please, try. I know I’m asking a lot, but
really, it’s not that long. Besides, I promise I’ll make it up to you.”
 
Garak finally peeked out from beneath the corner of his washcloth.  “How?”
 
“Oh, I believe I can think of something," Julian whispered promisingly.
 
“Do I have to wait until they leave?”
 
“Not necessarily...” Julian replied as he leaned down to kiss the tailor.
 
He found himself pulled down into a harsh, yet passionate embrace, and his clothes being
quickly removed.  Within seconds they were both naked, rubbing against one another and
trying to stifle the sounds of their desire. Garak deftly shifted to a position over Julian,
kneeling on all fours, as he lowered his mouth to bite at the sensitive skin of the young
man’s neck.

Then disaster struck.
 
As if in slow motion, the unmistakable sound of the bedroom door creaking drifted to his
ears as light from the hallway spilled over his back. Then a loud, bellowing, “Sweet
mother of God!”
 
Garak whirled so fast that he lost his balance and fell off of the bed to lie in mortification
between it and the wall.
 
Julian quickly grabbed for the first article of clothing available, which just so happened to
be Garak’s undershirt, and hastily tossed it over his lap. Trying vainly to handle this with
the reportedly unshakable manners of the English, Julian as calmly as he could, “Did you
need something, Chief?” although the strain in his voice was evident.

"I was just trying to find the bathroom, I didn’t want to see his scaly, ugly arse and that
other stuff!” He shouted in the typical blustering manner of a man who has humiliated
himself beyond the point of rationality.
 
To have himself insulted in his own bedroom was more than Garak could stand. He sat
up so that his head pooped up above the edge of the mattress, and began acidly, “Oh, I
am sorry, Chief.  How rude of me to have my ‘scaly, ugly arse’ waving about when you
decided to barge into my bedroom unannounced.”
 
Miles blushed even deeper, and looked as if he was choking on his own tongue. Finally
he came to his senses enough to turn around and leave, shutting the door behind him with
a slam.
 
Garak fell back onto the floor with a boneless thump. Julian’s face from the bridge of his
nose up appeared over the edge of the mattress. “Maybe twenty three hours, thirty four
minutes and fourteen seconds is too long.”
 
Garak calmly rolled his eyes to meet Julian’s and asked in a voice dripping with sarcasm,
“You think?”
 

Dinner that evening was eaten in a very uncomfortable silence that could not be
alleviated even by Keiko’s attempts at light banter. The worst was yet to come.
After they finished dinner, they decided to go to a nearby shopping center and do a little
window shopping. In the center of the mall was a rather elaborate display of Christmas
trees, toy trains,  small people dressed in odd red and green suits and shoes that curled at
the toe. At the very center, in an oversized chair covered in dark green velvet sat a plump
man in an obviously artificial beard and a red suit.  The children immediately began
shouting and jumping about, crying, “I want to see Santa! Mommy! Daddy, I want to see
Santa Clause!”
 
As much as Garak detested standing in line, he stood with his husband and their guests,
gathering suspicious looks from the people ahead of and behind him.
 
As he watched, he began to notice to his confusion, that even though the children seemed
overjoyed to see this Santa Clause person, when they got close, over half of them
suddenly became frightened and began to scream.  They seemed to find him even more
terrifying that the Cardassian himself.
 
When finally, their turn arrived, he and Doctor Bashir stood at the foot of the steps that
lead rather grandly up to this throne, while Miles and Kieko ushered their offspring up
and placed Yoshi on the jolly man’s knee.  Garak watched with keen interest as the
young boy froze, eyes wide in horror, and then began to scream. Miles lifted him up and
away from the knee of the Santa Clause, trying to soothe him.
 
Molly, being older and braver than her brother clamored forward, volunteering
information where her brother had been unable to speak for himself.
“I’m not afraid. I want a Betsy Wet and Walk doll, a QRX 364 game system, and a puppy
for Christmas, and I know what Yoshi wants to!” she began, beaming in pride at her
bravery.
 
Miles and Kieko exchanged amused glances, before Kieko prompted,
“Well, Honey, since Yoshi can’t tell Santa himself, why don’t you?”
 
Molly nodded her head and turned eagerly to the old gentleman, and stating in a loud
clear voice for Santa and all assembled parent and children to hear, “Yoshi told me he
wanted a set of balls like Mr. Garak’s, ‘cause Daddy said that if nothing else could be
said for him, the Cardie bastard was hung!!”
 
Garak was certain that his eyes were going to fall from their sockets and roll under
someone’s feet. The noise that had been going one behind them suddenly stopped, and
the only sound to be heard was Julian’s low voice muttering, “Oh. God!”
 
Showing the same lightening quick reflexes that Garak had seen earlier, the chief went
beyond red straight into purple, but stood cemented to the platform with his jaw hanging
open.  Kieko handled it slightly better, grabbing her daughter by the arm and saying,
“Molly, it’s time to go. Say thank you to Santa Claus...”
 
In a whirl, Kieko managed to usher three horrified men, one traumatized toddler, and one
screaming little girl  to the nearest transporter pad, and key in the coordinates that landed
them all in the larger public pad closest to the Garak-Bashir home. The personal one that
would take them directly to the house was far too small for four adults and two children.
It had been a fairly snug fit for the O’Briens that afternoon. When they materialized,
Kieko was off like a shot, exhibiting a mother’s instinct to protect her young as she
hurried her children toward the house and effectively putting distance between them and
one severely pissed off Cardassian.
 
This left the three men still in shock standing at the transporter pad. In unison, both Julian
and Garak turned and looked dead at Miles, who seemed extremely nervous, shuffling his
feet and finally mumbling, “I better go help Kei get the kids ready for bed.”  For an over
weight man fast approaching middle age, Miles could still gather quite a bit of speed
when he had to. Before either of the other two could form a reply, he was lost in the
darkness.
 
Julian weakly took Garak’s hand, and whispered, “Maybe we should take a walk around
the block before going home. I think we could use some quiet time.”
 
Garak nodded mutely, and allowed his husband to gently lead him down the sidewalk.

He was concentrating on the puffs of mist that came from their mouths and noses when
he heard something like a choked sob coming from the man at his side. ‘Damn O’Brien!’
He thought.  ‘Julian is crying, and it’s all that bastard’s fault.’  He stopped and pulled
Julian to him, trying to offer him comfort, but found to his dismay that apparently the
strain had been too much for the young man. He was obviously so distraught that he was
having a nervous breakdown. He was delirious. The young man was laughing so hard that
he was doubling over, barely able to breathe and even had tears running over his cheeks.
Soon he began to choke, and finally had to sit down on the cold sidewalk because he
didn’t have the strength to remain upright.
 
“Oh, I wish I had had a holocamera with me. That moment was priceless!!!!”
 
Garak settled himself on the curb, and waited for Julian’s mirth to die down. Every time
Julian seemed to reach a point of brief coherency, he would try to speak, only to burst
into gales of laughter again, until he was in a very undignified prone position on the
ground holding his sides and crying, saying over and over, “Ouch... that was so
funny!...Oh, it’s killing me....But, damn it was funny.”
 
When Garak could stand it no longer, he stood up and left Julian rolling on the sidewalk
and headed toward home in resignation.
 
He noticed upon arrival that there was a decided lack of noise and O’Briens in his house.
The children were not in the living room, nor were either of the parents. The only
indication of their presence in the house was a bag sitting against the wall that Miles had
left there, which contained the children’s padds, games, and toys. Without stopping he
went straight to his bedroom,  then into the master bath, changed into his most
conservative pair of pajamas, and crawled into bed.
 
Some time later, the bedroom door creaked open and light spilled over the bed.
 
“If that is you, Chief O’Brien, I should warn you that I have Romulan disrupter under my
pillow, and I would find you a very agreeable target at the moment.”
 
“Well, you’d have to throw it at him. When I found out they were coming for a visit, I
disabled all of the weapons and hid all of the sharp objects. It was more for the children’s
safety, really. I thought they might get caught in the crossfire.” The door shut again, and
Garak could hear Julian moving about in the soft darkness. He heard the doctor’s clothes
fall to the floor in a rustle, and a drawer being opened. Then he heard more fluttering
sounds as Julian dressed for bed. Finally the human slid in beside him and wrapped his
arm around the suffering Cardassian. Warm soft lips pressed against his neckridge, but he
felt unmoved by an action that would have sparked a flame in his groin any other time.
 
Sensing Garak’s unresponsiveness, Julian resignedly snuggled into his side, and finally
they both fell asleep.
 
 

The next morning Garak awoke to find himself alone in his bed. An appetizing smell
wafted through the ventilation system, making his stomach growl. Bacon, eggs and
waffles; perhaps Mrs. O’Brien was trying to apologize to him for her family’s
transgression the previous evening. He got up, stretched, and pulled on his robe, tying it
securely at the waist before opening the door and venturing out into the hallway. Toys
littered his living room floor, and bright cheery voices came to his ears from the kitchen.
This was a lot like his ideal of a Cardassian family home would be.  Strange how it
suddenly lost it’s appeal.    He found everyone else gathered in the kitchen, Keiko at the
stove that was rarely used but Julian insisted on anyway. Miles was leaning against the
counter having a cup of coffee, while Julian sat at the table with the children, so deep in
an animated conversation about Tolov The Turtle that it was easy to imagine that he was
their age. When Garak stepped through the door. Julian’s smile widened considerably,
and his eyes danced.
 
“Good morning! We thought you would never wake up. Look, Keiko has some things to
do today, so I thought you, Miles and I would take the children to the mall and do some
Christmas shopping.”

“Not the same mall, of course,” Miles interjected, trying to be helpful, but only drawing
dirty looks from Keiko and Julian.  “Sorry,” he apologized.
 
“If it would be all the same to everyone else, I would prefer to stay home today. I’d like
to just watch the news on the holo and relax.”
 
“I really think you should go with us,” Julian encouraged, his facial expression not
changing, but Garak felt a subtle nudge at his ankle. Was Julian trying to tell him
something?  Intrigued at the possibility, Garak finally agreed. After eating a quick
breakfast, he left the house accompanied by the children, Julian and Miles.
 

Once they reached the mall, Miles and Julian quickly abandoned him with the two tiny
terrors and disappeared into the holosuites. Some thing’s never changed.  While the two
officers indulged in fantasy battles between good and evil, Garak found himself in a real
battle between Molly and Yoshi.
 
Finding that food silenced them for a brief amount of time, he took them to one kiosk
after another, until Yoshi began to cry with a stomachache. In an effort to make the boy
stop drawing the attention of those passing by, Garak picked the boy up. This only
seemed to make matters worse, as he kicked and squirmed, and even began shouting,
“Let me go! I want my daddy!!” To Garak’s alarm and great distress, he saw a woman
who had been watching him closely go over and tap a uniformed gentleman on the
shoulder. She said something to him that Garak couldn’t hear, and the man began to walk
toward him. At the point at which Garak was formulating a story to tell him two things
happened.  The first was that Yoshi suddenly made this awful wretching noise, and
realizing too late what was happening, Garak found his fashionable tunic and pants
accessorized in a colorful mixture of the day’s fare. Secondly, Miles and Julian chose that
moment to come back. When the security officer saw Yoshi exclaim, “Daddy!” and reach
for Miles, seconds after spewing on Garak, he decided to take a chance that there was
nothing going on here and returned to his coffee.
 
Julian looked at Garak who was utterly exhausted, covered in vomit, large tangles in his
usually smooth black mane from Molly playing hairdresser, and simply said, “My God,
Garak. You look awful!”
 
Garak simply stared blankly at the man to whom he had pledged his everlasting love and
loyalty. This person who had vowed to love, honor and cherish him, in sickness and
health for as long as they both lived. At this moment he was realizing that this might be a
very short time indeed, because if he survived this visit, he was going to kill Julian. He
could do it, too. He could do it and no one would ever be able to prove that he had.  They
would never find the body, or any evidence. All those years of Obsidian Order training
had to be good for something after all. Maybe he would do it and then just disappear.
Without Julian there, he really had no reason to continue working with the Federation. He
could assume a new identity, create a new life... and be completely and utterly alone
again. He wasn’t sure at the moment if that would be a good thing or a bad thing.
 
No inlaws, no one to keep you warm at night, he thought, mentally weighing the
possibilities. No O’Briens, no Julian.  Never having to share a bathroom again, never
making love to the young beauty who was staring at him with wide innocent eyes and a
wrinkled nose.  Loneliness or Julian and all that came with him. Either way lead down
the path to insanity.  Might as well take the scenic route, he finally decided with a
resigned sigh. He would let him live, this time.

“Come on, Garak. Let’s go home. You look like you’ve had an absolutely awful day.
You could use a shower and some pampering,” Julian said smiling sweetly, completely
oblivious to the fact that his very life had just hung in the balance in the last five seconds.
“Besides, you’re wet, and we wouldn’t want you to get cold, would we?”
 
Garak did get the small satisfaction of hearing a grunt of disgust from O’Brien as Julian
leaned forward, careful not to touch him in any of the puke soaked places over his
shoulder and chest, and kissed him on his cheek.
 
As they were leaving, Molly asked, “Daddy, Uncle Julian, what’s in all of these bags?”
 
Miles replied with barely concealed excitement, “Nothing, Sweetie.  Just a few Christmas
gifts for the family.”
 
For some reason, Garak had a nagging feeling that the hell that this visit had become was
not at an end. He had developed an intuition about this kind of thing.  He didn’t know
how, or when, but things were going to get worse.
 

 Once at home, Garak was hurried to the master bathroom, stripped, and ushered into the
steaming spray of water in the stall shower. He simply stood there for a long time, using a
self-control technique he had learned as an initiate for the Obsidian Order. He couldn’t
properly control the situation if he couldn’t control himself. He had to focus his energy
onto something else other than the object(s) of his distress. Breathing slowly, steadily, he
finally centered himself enough that he felt he could keep his hands away from the
throats of all of the humans that surrounded him.
 
How had he gotten to this point? The sole Cardassian amidst a sea of pink  human faces.
The anchor of reason and control among so many beings who thoughtlessly tossed
themselves and all around them in a giant emotional tide.  Where was their cool
efficiency, their detachment?  Where was their order and dicipline? These humans were
passionate, and most that he knew were caring and concerned, but these were not
qualities he desired in companions at the moment.  He longed for the subtlty, the quiet
dignity of a Cardassian mate and family. The silent acceptance a Cardassian child
displayed when told no, or when faced with something that cannot be changed. Not the
wriggling, screaming, tantrum throwing human children with their heads full of Fairy
Tales.
 
In a traditional Cardassian home, he would be the head of the House. These others would
defer to him, and his word would have been law. If he had told a
Cardassian mate that these people were not welcome in his home, there would have been
no argument, they simply wouldn’t have come. But his mate was far from the traditional
Cardassian mate, and, truth be told, he was far from the traditional Cardassian. He had
fallen in love with and married a human male.
He accepted that in order to live with Julian, to enjoy his passionate nature, his wit,
compassion, sharp, open mind, and elegant body, he also had to endure his attachments to
others, his comical social ineptitude, his brash ways, naïve idealism, and sometimes
adolescent lack of finesse.
 
He lathered his hair, scrubbing harshly and still unable to shake the feeling that he was
not entirely clean. He allowed the shampoo to remain on his scalp as he reached for the
brush and defoliant gel that Julian had to special order for him from Quark.  When he was
finally resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to get any cleaner without removing
scales, he ducked under the water to rinse.
 
The icy cold was quite a shock to his sensitive system. He bellowed loudly, scrambling to
put distance between himself and the offending water. Unfortunately, some of the gel and
shampoo had flowed from his head and body, mixing with the current and making the
floor slicker than normal, and this was made worse by the fact that he was blinded by the
suds that were caught in the channels formed by his eye ridges.
 
He screamed again, more loudly, before becoming entangled with the shower curtain and
tripping over the small ledge at the bottom of the doorway to the stall, finally crashing to
the floor. Bottles, vials and jars fell around him, glass shattering and chemicals spilling.
Garak’s hair tonic blended with Julian’s hideous after shave and a bathroom cleaner,
sending up a mixture of noxious fumes and swirling in a brownish red current, spiraling
and escaping into the drain.
 
During his descent to the floor, his temple made contact with something hard and sharp.
He slammed against the tiles, wind knocked from him, senses dulled, staring at the
plaster of the ceiling blankly, vaguely feeling the burning of soap in his eyes. It almost
seemed like something from an ancient horror movie that he had seen with Julian.
Something about a dysfunctional family. How fitting.
 
Footsteps echoed throughout the house, thundering to the bathroom.  He thought dimly
about the fact that he was completely naked, but had neither the time nor the strength to
cover himself before the door burst open and he was staring up into the round wide eyes
of Julian, Keiko, and Miles. A half-second later Molly and Yoshi squirmed in beneath the
arms and legs of the adults.
 
"What happened?!" Molly shrieked just before her chin dropped and her eyes nearly
swallowed up her small face. Apparently she was just as impressed with his anatomy as
her father and Julian had been.
 
Keiko gripped one child in each talon like hand, mumbled a sincere apology, and dragged
them roughly away from the small room. Julian, being accustomed to dealing with
situations of this sort, as well as seeing Garak nude, quickly knelt near Garak's head and
began cataloguing his injuries. Miles simply stood.
 
"Garak. Garak.... Garak, can you hear me?" Julian was asking.
 
Garak could hear him, could see him clearly, but for some reason, his eyes had fixed on
Miles and he couldn't make them look away. Miles seemed to be afflicted with a
sympathetic condition, for he couldn't do anything but stare back.
 
Julian tried once more. "Garak! Look, Garak, follow my finger with your eyes."
The digit in question entered his field of vision, breaking his visual hold of O'Brien (or
was it O'Brien's hold of him?) and he was finally able to focus his energy on something
else.  Gradually, he came back to his senses, regaining his breath and strength. Through it
all, Miles simply stood unmoving in the doorway.
 
Finally, when Julian was satisfied that there were no serious injuries, he called, "Miles,
come help me get him to his feet. Er,... grab that towel. Yes, the biggest one." Garak was
mercifully covered, and the other two men helped him up from the glass littered floor.
 
"What happened?" Julian asked as he set the dermal regenerator and began repairing the
many nicks and cuts on Garak's back and the larger one one his head.
 
"I was trying to rinse my hair, and the water suddenly became frigidly cold. I was so
startled that I managed to slip on the floor while trying to get away from it. In all the time
we've lived here, the water has never done that. We had the best water heater we could
find put in here before we moved in, solely because I like long extra hot showers. I don't
understand," he said, still seeming dazed.
 
"Maybe it's malfunctioning. We still have a warranty on it, I'll call someone. Meanwhile,
I think you should take it easy.  Rest, don't wear constrictive clothing to allow the
plastiskin to cure, and be careful of your head. Here, take two CCs of this if you have any
pain, but not more than six CCs total in a twenty four hour period," Julian prescribed in
the cool practiced manner of a doctor.
 
Garak quickly shifted his focus from Julian to Miles. The man was getting twitchy, acting
strangely. In as unassuming tone as he could muster, Garak interrupted Julian's litany of
orders to ask, "Is something the matter, Chief?"
 
"No! Nothing. Why?" the older human replied, in an absolutely guilty voice.
 
"Miles, you do seem a bit off. You look kind of pale, and your skin is clammy. You may
be coming down with something," Julian stated, trying to be helpful.
 
"I'm fine. It's just a little hot in here, and it smells pretty bad."
 
"I'd have to agree with you there. Garak's hair tonic is rather hard to take in large
amounts. What is that other smell? Damn! My aftershave! 'Shaken' is hard to get these
days. Oh, well, as long as Garak's are all right, that's all that matters, isn't it, Elim?"
 
"Of course. As long as no one was - seriously injured..." Garak agreed with Julian, while
looking very pointedly at Miles. Somehow he knew that the chief was responsible. Julian
would say that it was just that he was being childish and petty, because he didn't like
Miles, but Garak was sure that it was not. Miles gave him all the confirmation he needed;
as he watched, the chief's throat moved as he gulped uncomfortably. First, he was going
to find out what that man had done, and then he was going to exact his revenge.
 
Miles stammered out an offer to look at the heater, but Julian and Garak both assured him
that it was a bad idea. If the service technician saw that it had been tampered with, the
warranty would be invalid. A service man was called, but to Garak's dismay, he wouldn't
be able to make it until the O'Briens were on their way.
 
Garak allowed Julian to help him into some very unflattering pajamas, and then they
went to join their guests in the den. Here they found Yoshi and Molly wearing something
like a visor on their faces, glove-like things made of elastic type filaments on their hands,
and a belt-like article with blinking lights and more filaments that extended from the belt
down to adjustable bands around each knee and ankle. They were squealing and
shrieking, appeared to be staring at something in the space between their faces and the
ceiling, turning in circles, waving their arms about, and flexing their fingers in some odd
gesture or another.
 
"What are they doing?" Garak asked curiously, forgetting momentarily about the mystery
of the water heater.
 
"That's the Christmas present that we got for them. It's the QRX 364 game system,"
Julian replied animatedly. "You see, it's the latest thing, as close as the average person
can get to owning their own holosuite.  And unlike a holosuite, you can take it anywhere.
Those visors that they are wearing show images of everything from scenery to weapons,
props and other characters, while the gaunlets and belts monitor your movements and
adjust the scenario accordingly. You can even connect it to an area wide network and
play against people in other houses, neighborhoods, towns, countries, even as far away as
the next solar system, depending on what size and speed monitoring chip you have."
 
"A chip that would enable you to play against someone as far away as even the next
country would undoubtably be very expensive."
 
"Not if you're a Starfleet trained engineer!" Julian crowed, beaming with pride at his
friend.  Miles, on the other hand, started to become very uncomfortable again.
 
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," Garak said innocently, grabbing on to the conversation
and leading it masterfully.
 
"It's nothing, really. Terribly boring stuff. You wouldn't be interested in it," Miles said
quickly.
 
"Miles, this is precisely the kind of thing Garak would find interesting. You see,
somehow, a little while ago, Miles managed to do some rewiring and got the two of us
into a game in India! Without having to go back to the mall and spending a small fortune
on the booster monitoring chip!"
 
"Really! I'd be terribly interested to find out how you did that, Chief."
 
Miles dug his hands deep into his pockets, and flushed in a way that Julian mistook for
modesty.
 
"Well, if he won't brag on himself, I will. Look, this little box here is the link.
Electric impulses from this box," he explained as he indicated a palm-sized box sitting on
the bookshelf, "Go in a loop, and connect these two game suits to each other, and to other
suits along the network. The chip, as I said, depending on size and speed, dictates how far
your signal can go, as well as what distance you can receive from. The basic system
comes with the smallest chip available, which would only allow you to reach as far as
twenty, twenty-five kilometers as long as there isn't much ionic interference. Well, Miles
opened up the box, and did some rewiring..."
 
Julian reached up and removed the small casing from the shelf, seemingly ignoring Miles'
distressed pleas not to mess with it. Garak was extremely interested at this point, as some
of the pieces began to fall into place.
 
"I don't doubt that his experience repairing mixed systems on DS9 had quite a bit to do
with his genius ability to come up with a way to bypass the limits on this system. You
should try it, Garak. This game is great!"
 
Julian had lost Garak's attention as soon as he had pried the box open. Garak peered
inside, searching the minute landscape. Where is it? he asked himself.
Suddenly, he saw it. A tiny electric blue chip, the size of Yoshi's fingernail. The
manufacturer's logo emblazoned over the surface. He had his proof.
 
"Chief, it would seem that this game system is either made by an appliance company, or
our water heater was designed and constructed by a computer or toy company," Garak
said staring at Miles coolly.
 
Julian frowned in confusion. "That's odd. I wouldn't think the two items would be
produced by the same company. Maybe some of the components could be made in the
same place, possibly even be compatible..." he was saying as Garak interrupted him.
 
"Such as a monitoring chip designed to maintain a continuous temperature, that might
also be reconfigured to monitor impulses and frequencies over long distances?"
 
"It was the back up chip, I didn't think that the primary chip would fail while I was
borrowing it! How was I supposed to know?!" Miles burst out. Garak silently
congratulated himself that he had not lost his fine touch when it came to ferreting out a
confession.
 
Julian's mouth fell open, as he stared wide-eyed from Garak to Miles. Keiko said in a
hushed shocked tone, "Miles! You didn't!"
 
"I borrow back up parts from one system to another all the time at the station! It's like
second nature. I have to do it there, because the requisitions can take so long!"
 
"But we aren't on the station! We are guests in our friends' home!" Keiko said raising her
voice. "Look at the trouble your juvenile impulses have caused! Garak got hurt! And
humiliated!"
 
"Not to mention you voided the warranty on a very expensive water heater, that should
have been good for another three years at least!" Julian added. "Miles, I can't believe you
could be so stupid!"
 
"Look! I'm an engineer! I'll fix the damn heater!"
 
"And what? Come back all the way from Bajoran space if it breaks again? And that still
doesn't erase the fact that Garak was hurt because of your kind of engineering! He might
have been killed!"
 
While this conversation was taking place, Garak settled himself comfortably on the
couch.  This was one screaming match he was going to enjoy.
 
 

 
The time that Garak had been looking forward to since he first found out about their
impending visit had finally arrived. The O'Brien's were leaving. And not a moment too
soon.
 
The chief and Julian had gone out that afternoon to buy replacement parts for the water
heater, while Keiko had taken Molly and Yoshi somewhere for a short while. When the
three most tolerable O'Briens returned, they had baked cookies, filling the house with a
pleasant spicy scent. She had even been kind enough to clean up the mess in the
bathroom, as well as give the entire house a thorough going over, stating that it was the
least she could do to make up, in some small way, for her husband's idiocy.
 
Later, Julian came home unaccompanied by the chief, and helped Keiko with the
remaining housework. During this time, Garak fully enjoyed being waited on hand and
foot by the two of them, who insisted that he should rest and not do anything to aggravate
the head injury he had received.
 
Miles returned, and made the repairs to the heater, promising that it would be a very long
time indeed before it malfunctioned again. Then, while he had his tools out, he and Julian
went outside to hang even more strings of lights from the eaves of the house and in the
hedges. At one point, Garak heard Miles howl in pain, followed by a rather unconvincing
apology from Julian. It seemed that Julian had managed to miss the nail head he was
aiming for, and hit the chief's thumb instead. 'Enhanced hand eye coordination, indeed,'
Garak thought cattily.
 
Eventually, the two came back in the house and it was apparent that all was forgiven
between the two of them, as they were laughing and joking.
 
Garak thought Julian looked absolutely beautiful, eyes sparkling with mischief, skin
glowing and flushed from the cold, an air of carefree happiness surrounding him. It made
Garak's own heart light to witness it.
 
But not as light as witnessing their guests pile their belongings into the transporter to be
beamed ahead to their next destination. The time was near, and Garak couldn't help but
feel that at any moment he would wake up with the entire day spent with Chief O'Brien
still ahead of him.

As they said their good byes, Garak was pleasantly surprised when Keiko went from
embracing Julian, to wrapping her arms around his neck and warmly wishing him a better
Christmas that he had experienced so far. She then gave him a decorative bag, and the
entire family squeezed onto the pad.
 
In a sparkling of energy, they were gone, and the house seemed eerily quiet. Garak and
Julian turned to look at each other, a sad smile shared between them.  Julian jerked his
chin to the bag that Garak had forgotten he was holding.
 
"What's that?" he asked.
 
"I believe it's a Christmas gift from Mrs. O'Brien. The card says that it's for both of us,"
Garak replied.
 
"Well, let's see what it is. Open it up."
 
Shoving aside the tissue paper and reaching inside, Garak's sensitive fingers touched on
something light, cool, soft, and smooth. He pulled the contents out, and found two pair of
short men's pajamas made of Darvarian silk. The larger pair was a pale aqua color with a
wide neckline. The other was the color of fine chocolate. They were nearly transparent in
some lights, and in others the material caught and reflected the light causing them to
appear to be glowing in an ethereal way. The fabric was coveted because it was so light
and sheer that it whispered against the skin in a most sensuous way.  To be touched or
stroked while wearing clothing made of this silk was pleasurable in the extreme, and it
was rumored that one could have the most Earth shattering experiences without ever
taking them off.
 
Garak's eyes were dark with desire, and eager anticipation was clear on Julian's own
features as their gazes met.
 
"Shall we try them on?" Garak asked.
 
"Can't wait," Julian replied, already walking toward the bedroom, shedding his clothes
along the way. Rest assured, Garak was not far behind.

End.