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Space Girlfriends

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Julia liked tall men, and tall women. She liked people who were lean and fit (not unlike her) and young, who had dazzling smiles and long fingers. She had dated ballerinas and tennis players, gymnasts and at one point another student in Starfleet medical- a vulcan who was tall by anyone’s standards and towered four inches over her easily. So it was a small wonder she had gone after Jadzia, feeling invigorated in her search for companionship now that she no longer fretted over the pressures of school or finding a steady position.

Of course, Jadzia had shot her down in a way that was codling and gentle and still made Julia mope like a puppy denied a treat. The trill thought it was hilarious and soon enough cheered her up by reassuring her that there was the possibility to meet anyone, out here. Who knew? Maybe the Gamma Quadrant was going to be entirely populated by gorgeous ballerinos who thought that doctor was the sexiest occupation.

Well, Julia could dream.

And then she met Garak. Not Miss Garak, not Misses Garak, and god help you if you called her Ma’am or Madam you’d get the same exaggerated, almost theatrical tone of “Just Garak! Plain, simple Garak.”

The limited amount of Cardassians she’d seen had been mostly men, and entirely military, all scowls and angular armor, their hair swept promptly back or cut into short bobs, but she’d seen Garak around, when passing her shop. A glimpse of white skin and Bajorans avoiding stepping in her path, of patterned fabrics.

It wasn’t until the woman sat down across from her at the replimat, unprompted, that Julia actually saw her and looked. There were rumors- she was a spy, a double agent, a criminal escaping Cardassian law or a dutiful servant of it remaining behind to observe the former Terok Nor.

Instead, Julia was reminded of some of her teachers. A little bit of her mother. Maybe someone who should’ve been a stereotypical aunt in a human comedy. She certainly didn’t look like a spy, or a murderer. All smooth, rounded edges and stocky build, round cheeks and rounded nose. A face made for wide eyes and broad smiles. Her face was accented with a splash of blue upon her forehead and the scales of her neck, over her eyes as well, and Julia couldn’t recall ever hearing if Cardassians used makeup or not.

So she stared and she was certain she made an ass out of herself and Jadzia had teased her when she burst into Ops full of excitement over meeting “the spy”. Afterwards, she realized that maybe Jadzia was entirely right in her assumption that Julia had a thing for mystery, rather than slenderness, as their steady schedule of lunches began to take place.

Within’ a year, Julia was certain she had learned more about Cardassians than she had ever intended to, and yet, she didn’t know half of what she wanted. Garak spoke with emphatic flair and fluttering motions of her hands, and she dressed in angular Cardassian styles that made her impossible to miss on the promenade. She devoured the terran books that Julia offered, and seemed to have a bottomless supply of Cardassian literature to exchange for it- and a bottomless supply of opinions to go with every debate.

For all her mysteries, Garak was charmingly, inescapably…well, human, although Bashir struggled to find a term better suited. She would fuss over the doctor’s collar when it was crooked and complain over the dull silhouette of the uniforms. She had a weakness for chocolates and overly spiced foods. Julia thought of her less and less as some sort of mysterious spy, a Cardassian other, and more as any other good friend.

Mind you, there were endless hints and occurrences that said otherwise- she knew too much, denied too much, seemed to treat her suspicious behaviors as a joke. Dukat bristled in her presence, as did seemingly every other Cardassian who passed over her with a glimmer of recognition, and when she was riled up her voice became a stern, humorless bark that made Bashir jump quite literally the first time she heard it.

All that mystery was smothered by lunches, though. By chatter about whether or not Repetitive Epics were overrated or plays were underrated, by her complaints that she couldn’t spend all day bent over a sewing table anymore or that she needed a better place to hide her stash of chocolates or she’d eat them all.

After the implant, Julia couldn’t pretend to ignore the mystery anymore. Not after she had seen Garak in so much pain, seizing on the ground or crying without tears. She saw Garak without her blue splashes of makeup, without her stylish clothes, without her masking smile and curious gaze. Something had seized Bashir, then, and in a fit of rash decisions she had forgiven Garak her sins and gone to Cardassian space.

Eli, she had said it was a friend’s name. Somehow, Julia should have known better than to trust that it was, but she thought it fit. Eli was a good name for Garak, in no small part because when Julia wrote it in English she found that a few quick movements of the letters and you wound up with LIE.

Garak seemed less than amused by this revelation, and insisted that her “dear doctor” continue to use Garak. Eli was a name best left in the past.

Julia still slipped it into conversations every so often, a few times a month, just to keep her on her toes, and there was something new between them now. Something that made their lunches last a little longer and their arguments a little more heated

Julia liked tall men and women, people who were lean and had dazzling smiles and long fingers. She liked people in her age group and people who were earnest and enjoyable in their companionship.

Apparently, she also liked people who were shorter than her by a few inches, with round hips and bellies and broad, steady hands. She liked people who were mysterious and could apparently produce stunning displays of violence out of nowhere, and people who argued endlessly over ridiculous literature and build an entire conversation around everything they found wrong with the Federation. Older women with lines that defined their cheeks and scales around their eyes.

It was a bit of an adjustment, she thought, but she could manage.