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Title: Smiles and Botany
Fandom: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Genre: Gen/Humour
Rating & Warnings: PG (mild language, mild sexism)
Words: 3073
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Summary: Keiko has many beautiful smiles. The one she wears when she suggests that they should invite Julian and his new partner Garak over for a dinner party is not remotely one of Miles' favourites.
Author's Notes: I've been meaning to get around to posting this one for, um, over a year now. Whoops.

I don't think I've ever written anything from Miles' perspective before, actually! It was a bit of a challenge, in that I didn't want to write some of his more 90s TV husband traits but I also wanted to stay true to his character. Balancing his actual reasonable dislike of Garak with him also being grumpy was interesting as well.

I'm not sure if I'll be writing anything else from his point of view any time soon, but it was a good exercise in the meantime. And it was an excuse to write more about Keiko, as well as one of my OTPs, and I never say no to that!

Also: I've included a bonus wry joke for anyone who's read A Stitch In Time. Five points if you catch it. <3

Miles Edward O'Brien was in trouble. He didn't know why and he didn't know how, but all the same, he knew with bone-deep conviction that he was in trouble. And that trouble had its source in his wonderful, loving wife.

Trouble with Keiko generally came in two forms. The first was shouting. He liked shouting (insofar as anyone did). A man knew exactly where he stood with shouting. Keiko was in favour of it, too—not the volume, the communicating. Communicating was good.

But then there was smiling. Miles didn't like smiling. Well, that wasn't true: he liked it most of the time. Keiko had a lot of smiles, most of them gorgeous. There was the general "I'm happy" smile, the "I've just made an important botanical discovery" smile, the "Look at this adorable thing Molly did" smile, and, his personal favourite, the "I married the most handsome man in the galaxy and I'm going to express my appreciation of him in as many ways as I can think of" smile.

But there was also the "I have an idea" smile, and that almost never boded well for him. Sometimes it did and he was pleasantly surprised, but ninty-seven times out of a hundred . . . it didn't. (Not that he was counting.)

It was—or had been—a perfectly lovely afternoon when one of those smiles rearranged his life. Molly was playing in the next room and he and Keiko were sharing a little alone time. The only sounds came from Molly talking to herself and the occasional snip of Keiko's pruning shears. It was the picture of peace. Well, until. . . .

"Miles," Keiko said suddenly in that tone that meant she was trying to wheedle him into one of her plans.

He looked up from his tech manual. She wasn't looking at him, but instead was judiciously considering one of her bonsai trees. No eye contact: bad sign.

"Yes, sweetheart?" he asked cautiously.

"I was thinking. . . . Wouldn't it be nice to invite Julian and Garak over for dinner this week?" She looked up, and there, right there, was The Smile.

"What?" he yelped, and oh, bad move, O'Brien, because already The Smile was edging toward The Frown. He tried to backtrack. "Sweetheart—we barely know Garak. Wouldn't it be nicer just to have Julian over instead?"

"That's exactly my point. We barely know Garak, but he's such an important part of Julian's life, especially now that they've started dating. It would be good to get to know him a little, and to show some support. Julian says that Garak finds it hard on the station sometimes. He sounded worried the last time I talked with him."

"I wonder why that is," Miles grumbled, well aware he was scoring no points and currently giving no damns. "If Garak didn't want things to be 'hard,' he could try not living on a Bajoran station."

"Miles, that's unfair." Keiko put down her shears to set her hands on her hips. "Garak can live wherever he wants. He doesn't deserve to be treated badly just because he's a Cardassian."

There was a note in Keiko's voice warning him to tread very carefully here. She was well aware of his opinions on the Cardies and he was well aware in turn that she didn't like them. Never mind that she had never been subjected to their "tender mercies" —if he wanted to continue to experience wedded bliss, he'd learned that he needed to keep those thoughts to himself.

Time to try a different tack. "Keiko, darling, the man was in the Obsidian Order. I don't want to encourage Julian to see someone like that!"

A different and equally useless tack: "Those are just rumours. And anyway, Julian's a grown man. He can make his own decisions."

"And where there's smoke, there's fire," he muttered.

Keiko's lips compressed and he braced himself—but then she breathed out and walked over to stand behind the couch. She brought her hands to rest on his shoulders. "Even if you don't approve of his relationship, do it for him. Julian has been a very good friend to you over the years, you know."

"I do." He really did. Without Julian, he would have been dead several times over. There wasn't anyone he'd trust more to have his back, or anyone he'd rather spend time with flipping sand peas at Quark's. "Even if he's the most annoying bastard I've ever met."

Keiko laughed and patted his shoulder; there was no fooling her. "So. . . ."

He was well and truly trapped. There was only one answer he could give that wouldn't make him look like a terrible, ungrateful lout and he was going to have to give it. Why was everyone so good at trapping him like this?

"So let's invite them over for dinner," he said on a sigh. "But only for Julian's sake, all right?"

"All right," Keiko agreed. He could hear her smile. Feel it, too, when she pressed her lips to his neck. "Thank you, Miles. I'm sure Julian will be very grateful."

Miles only grunted, partly because that kiss would have done embarrassing things to his voice.

He was going to regret this, wasn't he?


Once they found a time when both he and Julian were off duty—Keiko and Garak's schedules were much more flexible—it was time to prepare for the whole sorry business. Keiko devoted her time to planning the menu; Miles assigned himself cleaning duty and arranging for the Petersons to take care of Molly. He couched it to Keiko as a way of letting the adults relax without having to look after a little girl, but his real motive was very different. There was no way in hell he was letting a probably-not-even-ex-Obsidian Order operative near his seven-year-old daughter and that was most definitely that.

(He'd have to remember to drop by the Petersons' quarters later to see if anything needed fixing.)

The evening of the dinner party, when the doorchime rang, Miles' lack of enthusiam had not changed. Still, he tried to look pleasant when he went to let Julian and Garak in—he wasn't a complete ingrate. It was hard to maintain his expression when the door parted to reveal the pair of them looking as though they'd been together for years, not weeks, but heaven help him, he tried.

"Hello there, Julian, Garak," he greeted them, well aware of how awkward he sounded. "Keiko's just replicating a few last-minute things—come on in."

Miles stepped aside to their "Thanks, Chief" and "Thank you." As Garak entered, he looked about their quarters with a bright-eyed interest that sent a pressure headache straight to Miles' temples. But before the stress really set in, Miles was distracted by Julian holding out the bottle of wine he'd been carrying. It was tied up with a dark purple and blue ribbon and it actually didn't look half bad. Maybe this evening wasn't going to be a total write-off.

"It's for Keiko," Julian explained. "Would you mind giving it to her?"

He accepted it gladly. Before he could thank Julian, though, the door to the next room opened and in came the woman in question.

"Oh, Julian, Garak, how thoughtful of you!" she exclaimed, all smiles. (The "Welcoming" one was firing on all cylinders.) She bent down and rubbed the ribbon between her fingers and thumb. "And it's wrapped so beautifully."

He wasn't sure what Keiko was talking about—it was a ribbon and it was on the bottle. Of course, she could be being polite. That would make more sense.

"That was Garak," Julian answered, sending his . . . partner a worryingly fond look. "I'm afraid I'm all thumbs at that sort of thing."

Garak took a small step forward, drawing attention to himself. "Actually, the ribbon is a part of the gift. I recently received a shipment of satin from Earth. I thought it would be ideal for tying your hair back while you're caring for your bonsai trees."

Keiko beamed. Miles could feel his supposedly pleasant expression calcifying.

"Why, that's so thoughtful of you, Garak—thank you! Did Julian tell you about my trees?"

Garak glanced at Julian, looking just as fond as Julian had earlier. "He did. I must say, he's made me very curious. Gardening is a hobby of mine, but I find that conditions on the station make it difficult to grow much of anything. How is it that you manage to cultivate your trees—and so beautifully, might I add?"

That was all Keiko needed. Immediately, she launched into a full spiel about soil and lighting conditions and watering regimens that was as foreign to him as interphasic coil spanners and ODN relays would be to Keiko. Garak, however, seemed to understand just fine. He stood before her with his head slightly cocked, soaking up every syllable that left her lips.

Feeling very much the third wheel (or possibly fourth or fifth), Miles excused himself to set the wine in the other room.

Julian followed him. The moment the door closed, he remarked, "That's certainly going well."

Miles set the bottle down next to a waiting dish of—ugh—zabU stew. (Fully half their dishes were Cardassian that evening; Keiko "wanted Garak to feel welcome.") "Does he really like gardening or is he lying again?"

"Oh, he loves it—you should see his quarters."

"I'll pass."

Julian grinned, clearly enjoying his pain. "He is lying, a bit, though, about the trouble he's having. I'm no expert, but all his plants look fine to me."

"Huh. Hasn't let you near 'em, I take it."

Julian gave him a look. "Those bonsai trees were your fault, not mine, and you know it."

"You were the one who drowned them!" Miles retorted.

As they bickered, Miles at last began to relax. For the first time since going off duty, he felt as though he were back in his own skin. This was nice—comfortable, even. Why couldn't they just have had Julian over, like he wanted?

. . . But Garak was here now. He was going to have to make the best of it.

And so, over whatever the hell Julian was going on about, he said, "Suppose we'd better go back out."

"You know you're only trying to get us to leave because I'm right."

"Shut up, Julian."

When they returned to the main room, neither Keiko nor Garak acted as if they'd noticed he and Julian had left. They were bent over one of the specimens Julian had missed killing and Garak was nattering on about some sort of gardening thing that sounded a bit like Cardassian bonsai. Keiko looked enthralled, and that left a sour feeling in his stomach. It was bad enough that Keiko wanted to get to know Garak without her liking him into the bargain.

The whole damn meal was the same. Every so often, the pair of them would break off their conversation out of politeness to try to include him and Julian, but every time, they'd be back to their little botanical world in minutes. He supposed it was a blessing that he didn't have to try to make small talk with a man he didn't know, didn't like, and didn't trust—but remembering as much was hard when he had to watch Keiko and Garak hanging onto each other's every word.

Of course Garak's manners were perfect, too. He was the tidiest eater Miles had ever seen. He actually went so far as to tuck his napkin into the front of his tunic-shirt thing before eating. (Who did that?) Miles was almost annoyed enough to wish Garak would knock over his wine on the tablecloth—anything to stop him from being Mr Perfect Guest.

Watching Julian and Garak interact was no better. The two of them were obviously in that bump-hands-while-passing-a-plate-and-smile phase of their relationship that he and Keiko had gone through, because at one point that was exactly what they did.

He caught Keiko's eye rather than endure the sight. She beamed (the "Isn't that adorable?" smile) and he tried not to grimace too badly in response. Yeah, it was cute, all right, except for the fact that Garak was an incurable liar. Who knew if he was lying about his feelings for Julian, too?

Despite everything, though, he really did try not to be too much of a thundercloud. The meal was important to Keiko and probably important to Julian. His wife had worked hard and the Human food, at least, had turned out great. (Nothing could induce him to try the Cardassian stuff.) All he needed to do was keep telling himself that soon this would all be over.

He survived the dinner, and he even got through dessert without putting his big foot in his big mouth. He was just thinking he was home free when Keiko stopped Julian and Garak on the way to the door.

"Oh, just a minute!" She hurried over to a shelf and lifted . . . bloody hell.

"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly." Garak held up his hands when Keiko returned with one of her bonsai trees and offered it to him.

Keiko poured her heart into those trees. She spent hours and hours and hours on them. She hated parting from one, unless it was for a really good reason.

She didn't like Garak that much, did she?

"No, I insist." She pushed the pot into Garak's hands and waited until he took gentle hold of it. "I know you'll take good care of it. I want you to have it."

She did.


"Just don't let Julian anywhere near it or it'll be dead in a matter of days," he added flatly.

Down went Julian's eyebrows. "Ha ha, Chief."

Julian might not have thought much of his advice, but Garak sure seemed amused. Wearing a broader smile than Miles usually saw on his face, he assured Keiko, "You have my word that mine will be the only hands to touch it." He gave a slight bow over the tree. "You have my deepest gratitude. You're as generous as you are gracious."

Keiko's cheeks went pink. Miles could have punched Garak. "I'm just glad to have someone to share my hobby with. It isn't the same, working by yourself."

"I entirely agree." Garak glanced to Julian. "And now, my dear—"


"—we had best be on our way. I believe you go on duty early tomorrow, don't you?"

Julian's shoulders dropped. "Don't remind me." But then, he smiled. "Thank you for a lovely dinner. See you tomorrow for darts, Chief."

"What a nice man," Keiko remarked once the pair had left. "No wonder Julian likes him so much."

It was one of the hardest things he had ever done, but Miles actually managed to swallow an entire top-of-the-lungs rant, all in one go. Not one phrase to the effect of "Obsidian Order" or "fresh out of prison" or even "annoying bastard" escaped his lips. Instead, all that emerged was, ". . . Yeah."

"I should take him some of my padds on bonsai tomorrow to get him started," she went on, and there, he couldn't help himself.


Keiko looked up from where she was clearing the dishes from the table. There were no smiles to recognise on her face.

He tried one of his own: the "I'm a loving and considerate husband" smile. "Don't put yourself out, darling. I'll give them to Julian at darts and he can pass them on."

Mercifully, Keiko's response was a pleased, "All right. Thank you, Miles—that's so thoughtful of you."

His smile went a bit awkward. "Don't mention it."

Keiko went over to the replicator and set a stack of dishes inside. "You know, we should do this again soon. It was really nice to spend time with Julian and Garak together. Don't you think so?"

"Mm," he managed and went to busy himself with helping Keiko reclaim the dishes.

Bloody hell.


"What are these for?" Julian tried to get a good look at the top padd in the pile Miles thrust at him the next evening.

"Garak," Miles said shortly. "They're about bonsai trees. Keiko couldn't decide which ones to give him, so she's sending all of them."

"Oh!" Did Julian have to look so damn happy? "That's great—tell her thank you. I'm sure Garak will be thrilled."

Miles grunted and, his hands now free, picked up his darts.

"What? What's the matter?"

At last, at very long last, Miles could stay silent no more. "What's the matter is my wife is on the verge of divorcing me and marrying Garak!"

The look of incredulity on Julian's face did not do wonders for his mood: "Come on, be serious."

"I am! She adores him! She can't stop talking about how 'lovely' he was and she's falling over herself to help him with that bonsai tree. Do you have any idea how often she gives away those things?"

"No, I can't say that I do."

"Never, that's how often! She hasn't even given me one."

"Probably because she knows you'd kill it," Julian answered, then held up his hands to stop Miles from stabbing him with the darts. "Look, Miles, I'm sure Keiko's just missed having other botanically-minded people around since she got back from Bajor. Your relationship has weathered a lot worse than your wife making friends with my partner—"

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

"—and anyway, Garak's not the sort to fool around with a married woman even if we weren't dating. You'll be fine."

"You'd better be right." Miles shook a finger at him, still scowling. "And don't even think of coming crying to me if those two run off together."

Julian laughed, the arse. "I promise that any crying I do will be out of your earshot. Now how about throwing those darts at the board instead of menacing me with them?"

It wasn't his best series of games, but Miles took a great deal of satisfaction in whipping off his darts a little more forcefully than was necessary. And, well . . . when he returned to his quarters and Keiko greeted him with an "I love my husband" smile (that held just a hint of "And I'm about to show it")? He realised that maybe the imminent danger of Keiko and Garak embarking on a whirlwind gardening romance wasn't so imminent after all.
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