“Are you going to drink any of that or are you just going to sit there and stare at the bubbles?”
Odo didn’t so much as grunt in Quark’s direction, resting his chin on his hand and staring at the glass of root beer in front of him. It was going flat; Quark could tell by the sound the fizz made popping up against the air. He set down the tray of Yentarian jello shots he was holding on an adjacent table and crossed his arms. “Because if you’re not, I could give it to someone else.”
That got Odo’s attention. He looked up at Quark and glowered. “I paid for it, I get to keep it.”
“Well, maybe I can interest you in something else.” Quark picked up one of the jello shots. “These things have been selling like mudcakes ever since I started doing business with the Yentarians.”
Odo’s gaze lingered on the gooey golden jello before he sank deeper in his slouch, turning back to the bubbly root beer. Quark tilted his head to follow Odo’s face. “O-kay, not the jello shots. How about we start with something familiar? Say, Saurian brandy?”
Odo actually met Quark’s eyes for a second when he mentioned Saurian brandy, before frowning and turning away. “You liked it when you were Curzon,” Quark supplied helpfully.
“Fine.” Odo breathed out--always an odd sensation--and pushed his glass of root beer away. Quark grinned.
“I’ll add it your bill,” he said cheerfully, and scurried off before Odo could change his mind. Odo leaned back in his seat and continued to stare the root beer, thinking about all the food and drink he’d been forced to ingest over the past four days. He’d gone four days now without being able to assume any other shape, not even his liquid state. It was mindboggling to think about, and even more mindboggling to consider how many more days he might spend in the very same form.
Quark returned with two glasses of the orange liquid. “One glass of Saurian brandy for you. And one for me. I’ve never actually tried it.” He sat down across from Odo without asking. When Odo remained silent in spite of the intrusion, he added, “I usually don’t drink my own stock, but it’s been a long week.”
“Don’t you have a bar to run?” Odo asked finally, sipping his brandy. His nose scrunched involuntarily at the sharp taste. Quark looked at him, brow ridges rising.
“The bar is closed, Odo. The only reason I haven’t kicked you out is because I’m still determined to find a drink you like.”
“Why? So you can try to sell it to me every Friday night?”
“Why else? Now that you’re a solid, you’ve got to have some vices. When we’re done testing you out on all the drinks, I’ll start you on the holosuites.”
“Your holosex programs? I don’t think so.” Odo raised the glass to his lips again. The alcohol was biting and unpleasant, but the liquid warmed him where it settled in his convoluted Human digestive system.
“You brought up the sex part, not me.”
“I also said ‘I don’t think so.’”
“It’s not as if you have anything else to spend your salary on,” Quark griped, finishing his glass of brandy around the same time Odo did. “Well? How was the brandy?”
Odo shrugged. He was looking at the root beer again. Quark rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Saurian brandy isn’t a proper drink anyway. What you need is a black hole.”
“You’ll see,” Quark assured him, returning to the bar. Odo looked around the deserted second floor. He’d been squirreled away at a back table, so the bar had never looked particularly crowded to him, but still, he must have been very out of sorts not to notice that closing time had passed. It was like his dejected mood was leaking out of his brain and into his body, making it slow and stupid. As a changeling, he’d experienced breakdowns in his ability to maintain his shape while under emotional duress, but never had he had so little control over his own body as he did as a solid.
Another wave of sadness washed over him as he considered everything he’d lost. Bajoran poets weren’t exaggerating when they described grief as a hole in the chest. A black hole indeed, Odo thought darkly.
Quark was back in his seat again before Odo noticed him coming, sliding him a square glass of dark liquid and raising his own to his lips.
“This does not look edible,” Odo remarked, peering at the glass. The concoction was positively inky; it appeared to absorb all wavelengths of light. Quark waved his own glass at Odo. Probably some Ferengi nonverbal cue for look, not poisoned.
It wasn’t actually that bad, Odo realized as he sipped it cautiously. It tasted intensely fermented, like old wet fruit… Well, it wasn’t good, either. But it warmed him even more than the brandy did.
Maybe it was the brandy already at work, but it suddenly became clear to Odo that if these silly drinks could fill even a fraction of the yawning void in his abdomen, letting Quark have his way with Odo’s latinum might just be worth it. On that note, Odo downed half the glass in one gulp.
“That’s more like it!” Quark was cheering. Odo’s face was heating up like it had been plugged into an outlet to charge. Blinking rapidly, he caught sight of the jello shots Quark had prepared, sitting abandoned on a nearby table. He licked his lips.
“I think,” Odo announced. He paused for dramatic effect. He wasn’t sure why dramatic effect was necessary, but the idea to pause before going on had popped into his head and, well, that was what he was doing now. “I want a jello shot after all.”
Quark swayed suddenly on his feet, almost dropping the empty tray he was holding. Odo stood up to catch him, but the movement was too fast; he overshot, stumbling past Quark and into the wall while Quark dropped the tray. Quark looked down at the tray lying sadly on the floor and started to snicker.
“Broik will have to pick that up tomorrow,” he said, still laughing while Odo steadied himself.
“You dropped it. Why don’t you pick it up?” Odo had to be careful to enunciate his p’s; his lips kept trying to slip around one another.
“Because you and I,” Quark poked Odo in the middle of his chest, which was now hot by now with the alcohol, “are going back to my room so we don’t drink up more of my profits.”
“Your room? What’s the matter with mine?” Odo asked petulantly.
“I’ve got booze there. Been saving it for a special occasion.” He winked at Odo. The effort of getting his eyelids to cooperate contorted half his face. Odo couldn’t help chuckling at the sight.
The promenade was deserted, with everyone but the unfortunate night shifters asleep in their quarters. When they made it into the turbo lift, Quark started tittering uncontrollably again.
“What?” Odo demanded. Quark tittered harder.
“You must be really drunk right now,” he informed Odo cryptically.
“I’m not drunk. I feel fine,” said Odo with a frown, defensive all of a sudden. Quark collapsed against the side of the lift in fits of laughter.
“Ha! You so are! How do you feel?”
“Warm,” Odo replied honestly. The turbo lift came to a stop, but Quark was still looking up at him from where he had plastered himself against the wall. They gazed at each other for a few seconds before the lift chimed impatiently at them to get off.
When they entered Quark’s quarters, Quark made a beeline for a cabinet in the back of the room and pulled out a bottle of shining liquid. Odo realized with dampened surprise that he recognized the label.
“I remember that,” he said, pointing. “Tequila. Curzon drank it once.”
Quark squinted at the bottle, then shrugged. “I’m too drunk to read hu-mon. I’ll take your word for it.” He popped the cork off and was about to pour some of it into a glass, but Odo stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Wait! We have to drink it with salt and lime and… and the little glasses.”
“Whatever you say, Constable,” Quark snickered, stepping over to the replicator with a drunken swagger in his movements.
Odo sat down on the couch and rested his chin on his hands, watching Quark’s fingers work as he deftly maneuvered the tequila into the little glasses. Shot glasses, Odo remembered they were called.
“I think this is a lime,” Quark said as he set the glasses, the slices of lime and the salt down on a low table in front of the couch. “It’s green, anyway.” He collapsed onto the couch next to Odo and looked expectantly up at him.
Odo looked at the fruit and shrugged. “I don’t know. Curzon was a Trill, not a Human--”
“Wait, I just realized,” Quark cut him off, a grin spreading across his face. He left the “t” off the end of “just.” “When you and Curzon were stuck together, should we have called you… Curzodo?” He didn’t wait for a response before bursting into laughter at his own joke.
“Shh!” Odo chided him. “I'm trying to remember how to drink tequila.” His face screwed up in concentration as he recalled Curzon’s night spent in New York City… wherever that was. “Ah,” he said after a moment, pleased. He turned to face Quark and gently pushed at his shoulders until he was lying on his back. Quark started to snicker again, but stopped when Odo leaned down and delicately licked his cheek. Quark’s face went slack and his mouth fell open.
He lay like that while Odo reached for the salt. “Wha… What are you doing?” He managed to squeak.
“Don’t get up,” said Odo, taking a pinch of the salt and sprinkling it on Quark’s cheek.
“Why are you salting me?” Quark demanded. “I’m not a snail!”
“Because this is how you’re supposed to drink tequila,” Odo explained. It all seemed rather obvious to him at the moment. Then he frowned. “I think Curzon licked a different part of that woman though. I don’t remember.”
“Licking fe-males! Hu-mons sure are freaks—“ he shut up when Odo leaned down and proceeded to lick the salt from his face before taking a shot from one of the glasses. Odo coughed a little; it burned going down his throat.
“What do we do with the lime?” Quark asked, still prone on the couch. He sounded a bit dazed.
Odo thought for a moment, and came up with a blank. The memory might have been there at one point, but the tequila had chased it out. His brain conjured the image of a little glass of tequila with legs and he began to laugh. “I don’t know,” he admitted in between snorts of laughter.
Then Quark was laughing too, sitting up and reaching for Odo’s face. “My turn!” He grasped Odo’s cheeks and leaned up to lick a stripe along his nose. It tickled, and Odo laughed harder. He let Quark push him down on the couch to sprinkle the salt on his face, but was unable to keep from laughing when Quark licked his nose again, the light touch sending jittery tingles through his Human nerve endings.
He wriggled around a little too much and sent Quark tumbling off him to the floor, his own giggles set off again by Odo’s laughter. “This guy doesn’t know what to do with the lime!” he gasped out, addressing the empty room.
Odo rolled over, reaching for the lime. He didn’t so much decide to eat a slice, as realize he was reaching for one and then fail to stop doing what he was doing. He popped the piece into his mouth. Curzon’s memory balked at the taste.
“Quark! This isn’t a lime. This is an apple!” Quark just laughed harder, flopping onto the table and almost knocking over the remaining shot glasses. Odo chewed thoughtfully, thinking about the glass of tequila and its tiny glass legs. He frowned at Quark lying against the table instead of on the couch, with him, which would obviously be a much more comfortable arrangement.
He leaned over Quark, reaching for the slices of “lime.” “I remember what we’re supposed to do with these now,” he said, guiding a slice into Quark’s mouth.
“Mmph?” Quark asked, sitting up on his heels, but held on to the fruit dutifully in between his teeth. Odo reached around him and took another shot of tequila, then spun Quark around to face him and leaned in to take the fruit in his own teeth.
He had only been trying to get at the fruit, really; these were all just rules to the drinking game, right?… but then their lips had brushed and now Quark was licking pieces of green apple into Odo’s mouth, rising from where he was kneeling on the floor to straddle Odo’s lap on the couch. Odo gulped, almost choking on the apple, but didn’t stop moving his lips against Quark’s. He wasn’t honestly sure he would be able to find them again so easily if he let them go now; Quark’s fingers tangling in his hair were very distracting.
His theory was confirmed when Quark came up for air, rubbing their noses together and gasping for breath. When Odo tried to find his mouth again, he landed on his cheek, and Quark broke into laughter again. Then he tried to kiss Odo again—this was kissing?—and Odo turned his face away so Quark would miss.
The game of kissing cat and mouse continued until Odo landed a kiss on Quark’s ear, at which point Quark gasped sharply, tilting his head back and squirming in Odo’s lap. Intrigued, Odo pursued the ear, teasing the outer cartilage in between his teeth.
He had always liked making Quark squirm. In a way, this was not so different from his job, right? Getting drunk with Quark must have been a sensible decision if it had led to Odo having Quark at his mercy like this. Yes, what he was doing made perfect sense, he thought smugly to himself as Quark moaned loudly in his ear.
Odo devoted the remaining fragments of his concentration to mapping out all the places on Quark’s ears which, when friction was applied, induced a reaction that incapacitated Quark further. Odo was running the tip of his tongue over the antihelix of one ear when Quark toppled over sideways, landing on his back on the couch, and Odo followed him.
He miscalculated the trajectory on the way down, however, and fell on top of him. Their teeth bumped, which hurt, but then their lips met again, and that felt… good, really good; Quark wrapped his legs around Odo’s waist and his arms around Odo’s shoulders; Odo’s limbs tangled in between Quark and the couch cushions. The kisses were open-mouthed and sloppy, tasted like liquor, and gradually slowed in pace as the alcohol caught up with them.
For the first time in almost an hour, Odo wished he were a changeling again so he could turn into a liquid and cover every inch of Quark, but for now this rough approximation would have to do. Overcome with a bone-deep sleepiness, Odo pressed his face into Quark’s neck and lay limply on top of him.
Quark wriggled slightly under his weight. “What’re you doing?”
“Hmmm,” Odo sighed.
“Puke on me and I’m kicking you out of bed,” Quark mumbled, resting a hand on Odo’s head and carding through his hair.”
“This is a couch.”
“Whatever.” Quark batted at his head. “Go to sleep.”
So Odo did.
“You said you last saw him in Quark’s. Was he drinking?”
“Not that I could see,” O’Brien replied. “Well, he can’t have gone far. But if he’s not in the bar, and he’s not in his quarters…”
Sisko sighed. “Computer, locate Odo.”
Sisko and O’Brien listened to the computer state Odo’s location in silence. And then remained silent for a solid five more seconds before Sisko gave O’Brien a look and said, “O’Brien, I would really appreciate it if you would handle this.”
O’Brien wasn’t sure what he expected to find when he opened the door to Quark’s quarters, but nothing could have prepared him for the sight of Odo, uniform rumpled, hair askew, asleep on Quark’s couch with his head resting on Quark’s chest. Quark was snoring. There was a bottle of tequila on the counter nearby, O’Brien noted with a grimace.
Why do I always get the crap assignments? he thought mournfully to himself as he opened his mouth to wake his chief of security.