Actions

Work Header

Last Standing

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

"Send me a sign, let me know/Give me a time, a place I should go/Reach inside, watch me grow/See me rise/

 

Scene of the crime, the star of the show/If you were mine, then we would know/The peace of mind and seeds that we sow are intertwined/We almost made it/But making it was overrated/

 

Scene of the crime, a friend or a foe/I got a body to hide, you’ve got a body on show/And with our bodies entwined/We will know paradise/

 

Scene of the crime, go with the flow/Take it fast, take it slow/Stay blind so I don't know what's right/

 

 Our breath evaporates before our rise/The ground beneath that shakes under our weight/We almost made it/Making it is overrated/"

 

- ’Scene of the Crime,’ Placebo/Brian Molko (2013)

 

 


 


The first whiff, the very first breath of the station's air outside his door that morning spelled doom.

Garak can't explain this now, and couldn't then; but feels a memory of it in his bones. It feels much like a foul stench on a cool breeze; Garak knows it well, a prickle that sweeps from the tip of his tail and straight up his spine. 
Something is coming. He isn't sure what, or how, or when it will arrive.

His quarters feel almost comfortable in comparison to that horrible foreboding. Julian was still ensconced under their usual pile of blankets as Garak left, hair mussed; a positively beatific vision. Part of him wishes that his heart would still in his chest; beating fit to burst every time Julian cracks a smile . Another part wants to stay in this bright, exhilarating new country forever. 

This wistful, wishful little facet of his mind will lead him to ruin. 

At this point, though, Garak doesn't give a damn. Julian couldn't either, if he had even been awake after his night shift. Garak heads for his shop, trying to keep his thoughts on Julian, and not the quavering premonition creeping up his neck ridges. 

It is quiet this morning. No customers pass through Garak's doors, and he passes the time sewing several ties- a strange Terran fashion statement, more of an arcane tradition than anything else - and enjoys the slow, practiced process. 

Julian drops in before his shift at midday-- the new Federation shift rotation has left him tired and wan most mornings. All the same, Garak appreciates the sensation of Julian slipping into his bed at four in the morning, laying himself flush with Garak's spine, one hand perched atop his hip, sleepily stroking his scales. 

"Slow morning?" His uniform hangs onto his body even more loosely than usual. Garak supposes that the shift rotation has a hand in this, but all the same-
"Very quiet, my dear." 
Julian shrugs. "Would you mind locking the doors for a moment?" His tone is smooth, even, but with his back to the door, he flashes a wicked grin at Garak. 
Garak handles the door controls with professionalism. All he allows himself is a steady swing of his tail; back and forth, side to side, concentrating-
As he turns, Julian is right behind him. He pulls Garak into his arms.
“You know, my dear,” Garak begins, arcing his mouth wide, lips hovering just centimetres shy of Julian’s ear, “you really are a sweet little thing.”
Julian raises his eyebrows, and cajolingly offers a lopsided smile.

Little, Elim? I’m taller than you.”Garak slips the tip of his tail up Julian’s leg.
 
“Maybe so,” he mutters distractedly, which is, of course, what Julian wants. He aims for his lips, claws at Julian’s waist-
He steps back, and Garak thrashes his tail, just a little. Julian’s loveliness is practically incandescent. 

“I must be going,” Julian says with a smirk, and Garak’s ridges prickle. “My shift starts in five minutes.”
“Well then, Doctor,” Garak manages, voice clipped. Julian folds his hands behind his back. Garak knows he likes this game of elaborate tempting and teasing. So does Garak, for that matter. Very much so. 
“We shall reconnect at a later time.”
“Tonight,” Julian agrees. “Stay on your toes, Garak.”

He leaves, and Garak isn’t sure exactly what he means- is he being asked to stay on his toes for the sake of their ‘game,’ or something more? 

As it turns out, both scenarios are at play, ticking almost imperceptibly in the background. 

It is just fifteen minutes after Garak has unlocked the doors and started on a silk robe- obviously for Julian- when his premonition comes for him.

He is tinkering away behind the counter with something of little importance when he hears someone step through the doors. Part of him recognises the sound of the person’s gait; steady, strident. 

He turns, and Dukat is there, in his dingy little shop. He feels the familiar rush from below; the will to disconnect from the coming moments. He doesn’t have to be here. Not if he, Garak, does not want to be here.

He really doesn’t.

Dukat smiles,- if it could be described as a smile- a bristling leer that sets Garak’s scales and spine prickling again. Some sensible part of him that he dulls with hyposprays and long, deep sleeps is urging him to shut up shop and make for his quarters, to pour a hefty glass of Kanar and bury himself in his bed, Julian beside him.

But Dukat is still here, and Julian is not.

“That Doctor,”  Dukat says, finally, lascivious smile firmly in place. “He really is a lovely specimen of manhood, wouldn’t you agree?”

Garak loathes to hear this. ‘Lovely,’ the adjective of his own choice, cuts his chest like a knife. He doesn’t deign to offer a reply. 

Dukat isn’t fazed in the slightest. “Is it customary for you to lock the doors when you measure a man for a suit, Elim?” 
His posture oozes bravado, and Garak hates him, hates his lustful eyes and heavy-set neck, his prominent ridges. “Perhaps I should have visited your establishment sooner.”

“I very much doubt,” Garak parries, coldly, “that I would ever lock the doors for you, Dukat.” 
Dukat bobs his head, scales rippling, catching the low light. 

“I take it that you and Bashir- Julian- are… caught up in some amorous entanglement?” Dukat looks hungry, ravenous as he says this.

“You are mistaken,” Garak replies, as coldly as he can muster. “Doctor Bashir is a friend. We have lunch together, you see.”

“A close friend?” Garak knows that Dukat isn’t fooled. He is rarely ever hoodwinked, reptilian senses sharper even than Garak’s. Now is the time to keep up appearances, though. 

Deny everything, and admit nothing.

“A nebulous and vague question if I ever heard one, Dukat. You’re slipping, and you’re imagining all sorts of sordid affairs.”

Dukat isn’t deterred by this, either. He looks complacently out at Garak from beneath his ridges, humour in his eyes. Garak feels, if anything, slightly nauseated. Despite all that Garak’s jibe is worth- easing the speed of the panic attack rising in his throat like bile- he is sure that Dukat is as sharp as ever. This too, is a game. A very different game to the one he plays with Julian, but a game nevertheless, practiced and predictable. 

“Well, at any rate, I'm glad to see that you’re- how do Terrans put it?” Dukat scratches his head ostentatiously, with one claw. “…Single.”

Once again, Garak is perfectly silent. 

Again, and again, and again, Garak finds himself opening that door to that cell in his mind: he is twenty, Dukat is twenty five, and he orders Garak to fuck him. And, of course, in that distant corner of his mental landscape, Garak does exactly that, the most terrified, and the most aroused he’s been in his life. Dukat leaves him in the morning, and he suffers with pride. 

“Would you consent to share some Kanar with me, Elim?” 

Garak snaps back to the present. The inertia throws him off balance for moment. When he surfaces from his confusion, Dukat is still there, watching him with steely eyes. 

“No, I don’t think so,” Garak says, primly, and Dukat snorts.

“Very well.” Dukat draws himself up to his full height. Garak’s eyes stumble over his shoulder ridges, and travel downwards, grazing his neck. Dukat looks smug, contented. 
Garak wants nothing more than to sink his claws into Dukat, rip him from the carpet, drag him from his shop like a child’s doll- but Dukat would no doubt extract some erotic scenario from the gesture. 

He leaves, and Garak is alone, again, twisting his tail on the floor.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

"You give me the reason, you give me control/I gave you my purity, my purity you stole/Did you think I wouldn't recognize this compromise?/Am I just too stupid to realise?/Stale incense, old sweat/And lies, lies, lies/

It comes down to this/Your kiss, your fist/And your strain, it gets under my skin/Within, take in/The extent of my sin/

You give me the anger, you give me the nerve/Carry out my sentence, well I get what I deserve/I'm just an effigy to be disgraced, to be defaced/Your need for me has been replaced/And if I can't have everything/Well, then just give me a taste/"

- ’Sin,’ Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor (1989) 

 

 

Garak locks the doors as he leaves the shop, taking the most direct route back to his quarters.

 

Stomach churning, fingers quivering, he delivers one, two, three hypo shots into his neck. Sweet, bright waves crash over him, warm and full of comfort. He sinks back onto his sofa with one low, shaking moan.

 

He’s not sure how long he stays there; an alien observer, hovering far above his own life. This world below is not his, and he is at perfect liberty here. He can float away, back to some distant star. 

He allows himself to give way, buckling and vanishing into a beautiful chasm.

 

When the world refocuses, he finds himself longing for a hot shower, something to wash away the sensation of Dukat’s eyes on his skin. 

He glides to the bathroom, tail dragging on the carpet, tunnel vision yawning before him. He kicks up the water temperature immediately; far hotter than Julian ever allows, and feels the heat mounting in his blood. He toys absently with his scales and lets the spray hit him full in the face. 

 

Anything untoward is melting away. 

 

As he emerges in a cloud of billowing steam, Julian is there, frowning lightly from the sofa, arms folded over his uniform.

 

“O’Brien told me that Dukat’s ship docked this morning,” he begins. Garak can see, barely, the apprehension in his eyes. “I was just in Ops.”

Garak only manages a small nod in reply. He doesn’t want to talk about Dukat, and certainly not right at this moment. 

 

“Are you okay?” Julian squints at him and Garak remembers, distantly, that he is completely nude. It registers barely, then vanishes.

 

Elim. How many hyposprays did you have?” Save for the use of Garak’s first name, Julian’s tone is abrupt, full of medical concern. At least, it feels that way, beneath the crashing waves; the drug thundering through his brain. 

 

Garak could be a high flying cloud, for all he cares. In this moment, he’s too far away to care very much at all. 

 

“Not many, my dear,” he replies, finally, voice low. Julian’s frown has deepened. He stands and strides across the room to look properly at Garak, eyes narrow, face set. 

“Go to bed.”

Garak shakes his head, slowly, deliberately. Julian looks perfectly collected, but there is a fury beneath the veneer, peeking through as he holds his fists rigid at his sides. 

“Go and sleep this off. Seriously.”

Garak waves an airy hand. “I’m quite alright, dear, perhaps after a glass of Kanar-“

A wall of nausea hits him, and he reaches out, barely half a metre from Julian’s arms. He catches Garak, just as another wave sends his head spinning. 

 

Soon, the mattress is beneath him, and Julian is piling blankets, one after another, over his body.

He is numb; mouth dry, his body sinking into darkness- but he is grateful. Julian tucks himself alongside, with one arm draped over his torso. Garak gives in to sleep, and it washes over him like the warmest ocean. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

When he wakes, Julian is facing him, his eyes open and clouded with consuming thought. He appears to have been studying Garak's face as he slept; drowsily, but carefully. He gives Garak a muted smile. 

He has stripped down to nothing but his undershirt, his rangy form exposed. Garak had already lamented- internally, that is, and often- how ill-fitting the starfleet jumpsuits were. He finds it to be especially unbecoming on Julian, whose legs obviously stand out as a focal point of his figure. 

 

Julian begins to stroke his hair, quiet all the while, and Garak holds onto him, raising his head just enough to nuzzle Julian’s neck with his Chufa, planting kisses along his jaw. His skin is smooth and balmy with heat. He grapples with a sudden to urge to sink his teeth into that soft skin, but uses his tongue instead; moving over Julian's collarbones.

Julian keeps him steady in his arms, eyes shut, whispering all the while; sweet nothings to stave off the chill in the air. 

As Garak slides one hand beneath his undershirt, Julian's lips quirk, a breathless smile breaking through. 

"Dearest-" 

"Garak, that's it, yes-" 

Julian's shirt is removed, and clawed hands quickly claim his newly exposed skin. He spreads his legs for Garak, laid out below him. Garak is panting now, face buried in the crook of Julian's neck. 

 

Only when Julian bites his kinat’hU does he rear up; slipping inside in one breathless rush. Julian cries out, just a little, his hands clinging to Garak's shoulder ridges. 

"I need you," he intones, like some kind of prayer, again and again. "I need you." 

 

Julian rocks his hips, side to side, and Garak pushes till he feels his irllun meet with resistance. He shakes, hips grinding, chest heaving, his lips at Julian's ear. 

 

"I'm close," Julian hisses, twining his legs tighter still around Garak, hanging on for dear life. 

"Oh," is everything he can manage in reply, before he gives it all up; ejaculating in one shaking breath. Julian follows him; flat on his back, long cry hitting the air like a bird's. 

 

Garak flops onto his side, wrapping Julian in his arms, nestling him against his chest. 

 

"Nu ka zIra'I.

 

Garak whispers this, so afraid in a single moment, as the pronouncement careens away from him, out of him control. 

 

There's no taking it back, now. 

 

He hears the smallest of sounds; a sigh, or a laugh, Garak isn't sure. 

 

"I love you too, you great lizard." 

 

If his heart had been made of sterner stuff, he could have produced some witty remark. Instead, he kisses Julian's forehead, marvelling at the smooth planes of his skin. 

 

Julian drifts away, soon enough, into sleep. As the glow of the orgasm chases itself out of Garak's system, he finds himself wide awake. Another hypospray would send him to sleep again, but Julian has draped himself across his body. He sleeps deeply after sex, and Garak doesn't have the scales to even consider waking him.

Instead, Garak studies his sleeping expression; as if to dip one hand into his dreams. He is still, below it all, trying to stave off the cold that knocks at his door. 

Dukat's merciless face exists there, at the centre of the storm. Within that memory, he entices and humiliates Garak. It's all he's good for, in those moments, fresh from his teen years, fumbling and falling over his tail - he must be debased, used

 

Dukat sees to it that he is. 

 

Garak steps through that door in his mind, once more. Dukat has him tied to a chair, completely nude, and he takes Dukat's bruising fingers, his fists, his mouth that roams Garak’s ridges. 

 

Garak never asked for it, any of it, but as Dukat unties him and forces him to his knees, everting into his mouth- Garak knows that he really does deserve it

 

The longer he spends here, in this dark space, the harder it will be to escape. Garak knows this well; he has too many memories like this to allow them to run free. He tries, eyes shut, brow furrowed, just to shut the door. 

 

It puts up a fight.

Chapter Text

 

"I see you look around/You're staring, staring out to sea/

I feel them pulling down/You touch my hand, it all goes away/

Don't hear a single sound/But I feel your breath in front of me/

With every kiss, I drown/I feel my body fading to dreams/

I don't mind/And I don't care/And I'll do fine/I know you're mine/

I can't believe I feel this way/I've got the spirit inside me/I know it can't be, can't be wrong/I know it keeps me/

 

'My Weakness,' A Place to Bury Strangers (2007)

 


 

 

Garak wakes to Julian slipping back into bed. He has a mug of coffee in his hands, but sets it aside as Garak finds his bare thigh beneath the blankets, claws barely brushing his skin. 

Julian kisses him, long and slow, one hand at his waist. 

 

"Good morning." Julian smiles, blissfully, into his neck, and Garak is again caught short, heart running away with him. 

 

"Good morning, my dear." 

It is so warm here, the warmest Garak's ever been on Terok Nor, and, dare he even think it, he is safe-

Julian passes him a cup of coffee, and he sips it languidly. 

 

"Rotation's in half an hour," Julian tells him, before taking a hefty swig from his own mug. He makes a face; some kind of playful grimace. "Another shift spent sorting antibody samples, I expect."

Garak readjusts the sheet draped over him, as Julian threads steady fingers through his hair. "Are you opening the shop today?" 

 

"Indeed I am." Garak feels a little gloomy at the prospect, but chases this thought away. He needs customers in these slow times, no matter how mind-numbing his shop may be. 

 

Julian leaves for his shift, planting a warm kiss on Garak's scales as he goes. Garak savours that warmth, alone in his bed, contented even without his usual morning hypospray. 

 

As he steps out of his door, however, something sets the back of his neck prickling again. He doesn't look round, not at first, pottering away down the corridor, until a small sound brings him to a halt. 

There is something, someone, in the shadows behind him. 

"It would be a wise decision if you chose to show yourself, you know." 

 

Predictably, horribly, Dukat slips out of a patch of darkness like some vengeful ghost. Garak grits his teeth, and stands his ground. 

 

"Why are you following me?" 

 

Dukat smirks, and Garak silently berates himself for forgetting his hypospray. There's nothing inside him, undrugged and terrified, that can push back against that reptilian smile, those bruising teeth, that remorseless countenance - 

 

Garak turns and walks away at a steady clip. Dukat catches up to him, trailing along about a metre behind. He calls out with menacing relish in his voice. 

 

"Unbelievable lies are very unbecoming on you, Garak." Garak lets the silence between them yawn ever wider. Dukat seems bolstered, as ever, rather than deterred by this. "You weren't suffering some medical emergency that required Doctor Bashir's services, I trust." 

He's baiting Garak, who solidly ignores him, sweeping along the Promenade, now, as if Dukat were nothing more than his shadow. 

 

He maintains this supreme indifference until he reaches his shop; stepping inside and locking the doors in Dukat's face. 

 

He lets out one shuddering breath.

 


 

 

"Garak?" 

He resurfaces at the mention of his name. 

"Yes, my dear Julian?" 

 

They are in the Replimat, muddling their way through lunch. 

 

As it should be, Garak notes to himself. 

 

"We need to talk about last night."

 

Garak waves one airy hand, claws catching the light. 

"Are you sure? I for one-" 

 

"Elim." Julian's tone is firm, immovable. He won't budge. "Don't be stupid. We need to talk about this." He folds his arms across his chest and fixes Garak with a stern gaze. 

 

"Oh," Garak allows, innocently. "Very well, then." Julian misses the biting note of sarcasm in his voice. 

 

"How many hypos did you take before I arrived?" Julian ploughs ahead; straight to the point. Garak gives his hands an airy flourish. 

"As I said, my dear, not many." 

 

Julian scowls. "Garak, that's not an answer." Garak makes an extravagant show of unfurling his napkin onto his lap, just to avoid Julian's unflinching eyes. 

"I believe it was three." 

 

"Three!?" Julian slams his palms onto the table, incensed. "You took three shots of sedative?!" 

 

"A quite manageable amount," Garak adds, unhelpfully. Julian twists his face out of shape.

 

"If you don't stop this, Garak, you'll kill yourself. I'm serious." 

 

"An overstatement if ever I heard one." 

 

Julian shakes his head in a kind of exasperated frenzy. "Please, Elim, there are plenty of treatments for this-" 

 

"Which I would be happy to discuss at a later time." Julian opens his mouth to argue, but Garak cuts him off, raising his hand. "My dear, we have more pressing concerns than my supposed drug problem." 

 

Julian makes a mutinous noise from the back of his throat. Garak allows himself one surreptitious glance around the Replimat, before leaning in; close enough to kiss Julian's well meaning lips. 

 

At his core, he feels a chill. 

 

He drops his voice to the lowest murmur he can manage. 

 

"Dukat was surveilling my quarters this morning. He saw you leave." 

 

Julian sets down his fork with a jolt. He is eating again, Garak notes, at least for the moment. All he knows is that 'the moment,' the present, is all they have. 

 

"You mean to tell me," Julian begins, face creasing into a frown, "that he was skulking in the shadows, watching the front door?” 

 

Garak takes a moment to flash him an indulgent smile. The way Julian puts it, they are married, with two dogs, living our their days in a little cottage. Even the thought is a mirage, a sweet dream. To Garak, it feels forever out of reach, so ordinary it becomes laughable. 

 

"I'm afraid he has a talent for it," he continues, toying with his meal, but unable to take another bite. Julian looks worried too, twisting his hands in his lap. 

 

"So, we can confirm that he's stalking you," Julian says, a hollow quality to his voice. Garak winces a little. 

"

Us, my dear, Dukat happens to be watching both of us."

 

"What difference does it make?" Julian shrugs dejectedly. "He'll know everything." 

"

I dare say he does, yes." 

 

Julian's answering sigh is enough. They're caught in a delicate position. 

 

"I suppose we just wait this out, until he leaves? It's not as if we can simply inform Odo, unless we want the entire station knowing about..." he pauses for a handful of seconds. "Knowing about us." Garak nods.

"That is my current conclusion, also." 

 

Julian looks him in the eye, silently, for the longest time. 

"Well. Fuck." 

 

Chapter Text

 「IV」

 The world is full of noise yeah/I hear it all the time/And me I am your dagger/You know I am your wound/ 

I thought I heard you whisper/It happens all the time/  

"... I love you when you smile”/I didn't really lose you/I just lost it for a while/  

Dagger,' Slowdive/Neil Halstead (1994)  

 

Garak closes the shop early that afternoon. Dukat stays away, lurking elsewhere, but Garak's scales prickle all the same. 

A tiny, grief-stricken voice in his mind calls, relentlessly, for Julian, and Garak feels a wall of shame rise up inside him at the very same moment. Last night's pronouncement, drenched in layers of hypnagogia and afterglow, meant a betrayal of his better nature.

Love? Don’t be ridiculous.

The once cold, indestructible stone that was Garak’s heart has been shaken; compromised. He's dived down; far deeper than he'd intended. The surface seems a long way away, now. 
Julian claims to love him, and Garak, with all his obfuscations, knows nothing. Whether his dizzy headrushes and Julian's warm lips are enough to sustain him for the rest of his days in bitterly cold exile, Garak doesn't know.   

On the Promenade, he passes Odo, who gives him a swift, searching look.

“Afternoon,” smiles Garak, his stomach churning violently. He must agree with Julian wholeheartedly on this matter- Odo must not be told about… Whatever this is. Garak doesn’t have enough hope beneath his skin and scales to classify it further.

It may soon vanish, like a sun shower.  

As he turns a corner, nearly in sight of his door, he sees a figure retreat, off into the shadows. He has no doubt as to who this figure might be. Dukat is baiting him- Garak knows this only too well. Garak also knows that if Dukat only wanted to lurk, he would conduct his affairs far less conspicuously. No, Dukat is waiting, trying to rattle him- and rattled he might be.  

He tries to wipe that image from his mind once safely in his quarters, administering four hypos with rapid precision and collapsing into his desk chair. For a time, he disappears completely. No one breaches the shining space hanging over him. Then, from way off in the distance, he hears a small chime. It reverberates, sweet and piercing. Over and over it rings, and Garak lets the sound take him; astonished.  He barely registers his door opening until he hears his name, from an astoundingly long way off, now-

"Garak!"  A pair of faces swim before his eyes, peering in through the open doorway.  The intense, crystalline dream shatters. His head spins, and as he rises, his body lurches forwards. Through the breach in the mist, Garak sees Julian; brows knitted, and Odo, with a face like a spectre. As he reaches the doorway, he crumples heavily against the frame.

"What can I do for you, gentlemen?"  Distantly, to Garak, Julian appears to cringe.  Garak hasn't the faintest idea why.  It seems to take an age for either of them to reply. Garak feels a sudden stab of anger, and it careens out of control inside him. 

"Gul Dukat has been apprehended loitering outside your quarters," Odo says, finally, his tone clipped and brisk. Garak finds himself swaying against the doorframe as his mind steers itself into freefall.  

"What's wrong with him?" Odo's voice is far away again, distorted and wavering. Julian's eyes are trained on Garak. His complexion appears unusually pale, strained.

"He's taken a strong sedative." Julian's voice is flat, hollow. 

"Oh, my dear, surely patient confidentiality should apply in this situation," Garak begins, finding his voice in one rush. Odo fixes him with a cool stare that sets his neck scales prickling again. He finds Julian's long, delicate hands and makes to pull him inside.  "Dear, Dukat can wait. Come inside, won't you?"  Odo snorts. The sound reverberates strangely in the corridor, and Garak lurches a little.  "Julian, please, -"  As Odo lopes away down the corridor, Julian bundles Garak through the door, locking it from the inside. Garak sways on the spot, his head whirling. Julian fixes his hands at his hips. There is a quiver in his voice that Garak can't place. 

"Would you like to explain to me what just happened?" Garak senses a draught, creeping in at the edges of his silver dream. Garak tries to collect himself, but Julian doesn't wait for him. "You turn up, completely shitfaced, I might add, and give the constable a stunning display!"  Garak lets himself down, slowly, onto the edge of the couch.

"My dear-" 

"Don't give me that! Right now I'm speaking as a doctor, and as a doctor, I told you to ease up on the hypos!" Garak feels as if he's sinking into the cushions beneath him. He can barely hold his ground. "Elim, I think love you, but I can’t help you if you keep doing this, let alone if we-" 

"Love me?" Garak climbs to his feet, against his better judgement, a shrill laugh escaping his lips- "Don't be so naive. You don't know half of the things I've done to end up here, Doctor. Would you claim to love me if you really knew?" A shadow passes over Julian's face.

“In that case, some things may have to change around here, won’t they?” Julian’s countenance is set and impassive. He has twisted both arms behind him, hands clutching each other for support-

“Perhaps you, loving me is the entire problem.”  Julian flinches, ever so slightly.

You said that you-“

“My dear.” Garak shifts his tail, trying to anchor himself. “What I said last night, in Kardasi, I might add, was…” He pauses, claws digging into his palms. “…A sweet dream, a sweet little thing to keep us warm, Doctor, don’t you see? I can no more love you than I can return from exile.” His head spins, horribly, and Julian shifts in and out of focus. 

“You told me to wait for you,” Julian says, gently, and Garak is bowled over by the soft timbre of his voice. Any other man would be shouting in this moment. “That patience has its rewards." Garak clutches his head; nausea rising up from the depths like an old ghost.  “Doesn’t that go both ways? For the hypos, and for… the two of us?”  

Garak isn’t sure of how to reply.  

 

__________________________________  

 

When he wakes, he remembers Julian, leaving for his own quarters, his face set, with a hand against Garak's neck ridges; his gaze opaque.  Garak curls into the empty space he'd left, days before, filling it with dread.   Julian had sent him to bed with a hypo for his nausea and a pile of blankets before he'd left. Garak knows that he doesn't deserve such tenderness, but craves it all the same.

He has to summon some force of will to move from his bed, to face Dukat.

So he dresses in his most foreboding outfit; solid black, with a high neckline; determined to give nothing to ogle. His eyes are heavily shadowed, too. He looks just as he'd meant to; dour, unflinching.  

Dukat is in the central holding cell when Garak arrives, alone and pacing like a trapped animal. His face, however, transforms as he sees Garak; a predatory smile blooming. Garak positions himself before him, hands clasped, face dead set. Odo hovers by the door, silently watchful. 

"Elim! Looking a little worse for wear, aren't we?" Garak ignores this. "I'm surprised you turned me in. I never thought you'd be so... Weak."

"Doctor Bashir reported your presence to me, actually," Odo cuts in, stony faced.  An ugly, hungry smile appears on Dukat's sharp face. 

"Ah, yes. An interesting choice; a rather ravishing young man, but very human, so breakable." When Garak fails to reply, again, Dukat seems to grow desperate for a reaction.  "I take it your dear Julian doesn't know a thing about your past, Elim, or he'd have left you already." Dukat's horrible smile stretches, wider and wider. Garak feels a sick lurch in his stomach.  As he opens his mouth, heart pounding, he sets his gaze on Dukat. 

"Doctor Bashir is not the current topic of conversation." 

"Ah." Dukat stretches lazily; long and lithe. "To what do I owe the pleasure, then?"  Garak's cold glare doesn't waver. 

"I've come to organise your release and departure." Dukat sighs, blissfully, and Garak hears his spine pop in the silence.

"How thoughtful of you, Elim."  Once again, Garak doesn't reply. 

"Release the force field, please," he calls to Odo, as dispassionately as he can muster.  As Dukat steps from his cell, his smile reappears, expectant and satisfied.   Garak rears in one instant, open palm lashing the side of Dukat's complacent face.  Garak's claws left a set of neat gouges, red raw. Dukat stumbles, righting himself clumsily. 

"I'll have to remind you not to attack the prisoner," comes Odo's dry voice. Even so, his voice carries no concern.  Dukat clasps his cheek, eyes incandescent. 

"You care." 

"But not for you." There is a long, charged silence. "Your ship is waiting," says Garak. "Go."  

He leaves without a backwards glance.