Disclaimer: All hail the mighty God
Paramount, and its mate, the Viaborg...may
the spirit of the holiday fill them, so that they don't get mad at me for playing
with their toys...
Spoilers: Yes; end of season six/beginning of season seven
This one is for the pessimist in all of
us...oh, yeah - Happy Fucking Holidays!
"The only way to spend New Year's Eve is
either quietly with friends, or in a
brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is
bound to be left in tears."
~ W.H. Auden
Sitting on the upper level at Quark's,
Julian Bashir stared down into the bar,
watching Garak flirt with Ezri. Each time the Cardassian touched the Trill on
the arm, or leaned over to speak to her, Julian felt a white-hot stab of jealousy
tear through his chest. It was too noisy in Quark's, and Garak and Ezri were too
far away for him to overhear, but he had a pretty good idea of what was said in
the whispered conversation. They were so comfortable around each other -- it
was almost as if they were already a couple of many years. Ezri hadn't
mentioned anything during their lunches, but Julian could see that Garak was
interested, and that she was not averse to returning that interest. Watching his
two friends together, Julian knew that he had missed his chance, and that he
wouldn't be getting another one.
Seeing Ezri's brilliant smile directed
at Garak as the Cardassian murmured in her
ear made Julian's throat constrict painfully and another wave of jealousy washed
through him. Deciding to leave Quark's before he did something really stupid,
like tearing out Ezri's hair in a fit of jealous rage, or going down there and
forcing his tongue down Garak's throat, Julian rose from his seat. Leaving the
colored party hat and noisemaker on the table, Julian exited the bar. Pausing in
the doorway, he looked again at Garak and Ezri. "Happy New Year," he said to
no one in particular, and turned to walk onto the Promenade.
"Am I to understand that you expect me
to reveal my feelings to Ju- I mean, Dr.
Bashir?" Garak looked aghast at Ezri Dax's suggestion; if she had suggested
that he wear puce and lavender together, he wouldn't have looked anymore
shocked. "I still regret even telling *you*...I don't believe that the good doctor
would accept a similar revelation with as much equanimity as you displayed."
Reaching out to touch the Cardassian's
arm, Ezri scolded, "Garak! I thought that
we had discussed this...you are a decent person who deserves some happiness.
A negative opinion of yourself will not help to achieve that happiness, and
neither will keeping your feelings for Julian a secret."
"Very well, my dear. Suppose I take
your suggestion...how should I approach
"Well, Garak....I would say in the most direct way possible."
Smiling at the young woman in front of
him, Garak asked, "And what would
"Garak, I don't believe that you've *never*
done this before. What has worked
for you in the past? Sometimes it's best if you just find a method, and stick with
it..." Ezri Dax rolled her eyes, and continued, "Sometimes I think that you want
me to tell you how you should act, and what you should say...in the case of your
claustrophobia, I have no problem telling you how to act, especially if it means
making you relax. But in this case, no...uh-uh."
Pausing for a moment, Garak thought over
his options. When nothing presented
itself as a solution, he fell back on what he knew, and asked, "You think I should
approach him like I would another Cardassian?"
"I don't know how Cardassians approach
one another...do you think it would
Ruefully, Garak sighed, and said, "Well...no.
I mean, it hasn't so far. But I've
tried the human approach, and that didn't work either."
"What do you mean, the human approach?"
"I tried to engage the doctor in conversation
that I felt he would enjoy; I touched
him and spoke to him as I've observed Chief O'Brien doing to Mrs.
O'Brien...compliments on his appearance, inquiries after his health and
comfort...things of that nature."
"Well, no wonder it didn't work!
The Chief isn't known as the most romantic
person on the station...even Worf would have been better to emulate! Besides,
Julian sometimes needs to be hit over the head with something in order to
understand it. Maybe if you were to just tell him?"
At that moment, Quark climbed up on a chair
and shouted, "Okay folks, five
minutes to midnight! Grab your sweeties and get ready to countdown to the
New Year!" As he climbed down, Garak heard the Ferengi ask one of his
waiters if he had the earplugs ready.
Snapping her fingers, Ezri said, "I've
got it! Garak, I know how you can let
Julian know how you feel!"
"Oh?" Raising an eyeridge, Garak asked, "How is that?"
"Well, you know that humans celebrate the
turning of the year, right? I seem to
remember Benjamin grabbing Jadzia one year at his New Year's Eve party, and
kissing her, when the chronometer signaled midnight...he told her that it was a
custom that humans practiced. Something about seeing in the New Year with
the people you love..."
"Do you really think that would work?
And even if it would, I am beginning to
think that telling the doctor of my interest is not a good idea."
"Well, it can't hurt...why don't you go
up to him, he's on the upper level, staring
a hole into your back." Gesturing with her hand, Ezri's gaze went to the table
Julian had recently vacated. "That's odd; he was just there."
"Perhaps he grew tired of the noise?
I know that *I* am beginning to develop a
headache." Seeing a chance to escape the Trill's matchmaking attentions, Garak
rubbed his forehead in an exaggerated manner, and continued, "I believe that I
will retire for the evening. If you'll excuse me, my dear."
"Garak, wait. Promise me that you'll
talk to Julian, and tell him that you're
interested in pursuing a relationship with him...please?" Smiling up at him
disarmingly, Ezri waited for an answer.
Sighing, and thinking to himself that he
would probably regret it, Garak
promised that he would. Once more bidding the young woman a good evening,
Garak left Quark's and walked along the Promenade towards the habitat ring.
As he left the noise and crush of Quark's,
Julian realized that he didn't want to
go back to his empty quarters. Deciding that the observation deck in the upper
pylon was the perfect place to be alone with his thoughts, he walked to the 'lift,
determined to get away from the noise of the celebration behind him.
When he arrived, Julian was pleased to
see that he had the room to himself --
there were no trysting lovers, no talkative amateur astronomers -- just the
blackness of space and the hard white pinpoints of light from distant stars.
Crossing to the port that dominated the room, Julian leaned into the bulkhead,
and gazed out.
Empty...just like his life. Since
Jadzia had died -- no, before that even -- Julian
had felt that life was empty. The war with the Dominion had taken a toll on all
of them, and to Julian, the loss of Garak's friendship was the biggest casualty of
all, even worse than losing Dax... What had happened to them? For a long
while, it had seemed that Garak had even reciprocated the hidden feelings that
Julian had...but then, nothing. Their lunches had dwindled from every other day
to once a week, to once a month, to whenever they could schedule one, to no
lunches at all. Now when they spoke to one another, it was terse and business-
like, and wholly unsatisfying. In a way, he supposed that it was his own
fault...he could have tried harder, made more of an effort to remain intimate with
the tailor. But it was so much easier to let things happen than it was to control
them, and he had let his work and other friends come between them...and now
Garak had found someone to take his place.
As much as Julian would have liked to hate
Ezri, he couldn't. She was his
friend, and it was good to have her on the station -- in a way, it was as if Jadzia
hadn't died. Her gentle wisdom and teasing manner had slipped into Ezri's
personality, and Jadzia's quirky sense of humor would assert itself at odd times,
just like it had when she was still alive. No, he couldn't dislike her...even if she
didn't remind him of Jadzia, Julian would still like Ezri. And that was the
problem...even as her happiness was ruining the chance of his own, he
acknowledged that she deserved it, as did Garak. Sighing, Julian dropped his
forehead onto the cool transparent aluminum of the viewport and willed his
depressing thoughts away.
Garak had no intention of keeping his word
to Ezri...in his life he had learned
that emotionalism and survival weren't good bedfellows. In this case, he was
sure that revealing himself would only end badly, so it would be better if
nothing was said at all. As long as he avoided personal contact with Julian, and
kept their few unavoidable interactions public and brief, Garak believed that he
could live with keeping his foolish attraction to the doctor to himself. Now if he
could only convince Lieutenant Dax of the same thing...
Now there was a woman who knew the value
of persistence. In another life, she
would have made an excellent agent for the Obsidian Order...her mannerisms
and way of speaking, even her way of gazing into a person's face to gauge
reactions, would have been commendable traits for an agent. It was this tenacity
that Garak was trying to avoid when he inadvertently let it slip out that he
wished to pursue a relationship with Julian. As soon as he said it, Garak had
realized his mistake, and Ezri had pounced.
For a month's worth of counseling sessions,
he and Ezri had talked of little else -
- actually, she had talked and he had avoided her pointed questions by asking
questions of his own. Finally, the counselor reached the end of her patience
with the tailor, and made a deal with him. For every two questions that she
answered about herself, Garak would have to answer at least one about himself.
In this way, by answering his extremely personal queries, Ezri had gained the
Cardassian's trust, and he had eventually confided that he was interested in
Julian. What he hadn't told her, and didn't even want to admit to himself, was
that he already loved Julian...and that he was frightened by that. It wasn't that he
was afraid that Julian wouldn't love him in return -- well...he was a bit afraid of
that possibility -- but he was more worried about what would happen if he did
put his heart into this, and what would happen if he were to lose it.
It was with these thoughts in mind that
Garak entered the habitat ring, and
summoned the 'lift that would take him to the corridor that led to his quarters.
Once inside the car, the Cardassian decided that he would take a walk first, to
work clear his head, and work off the adrenaline edge that he felt creeping over
him. Ordering the 'lift to deposit him in the upper pylon, he plotted a route
through the station that would take him back to his quarters without taking him
through the Promenade...
Satisfied that he knew the station's layout
so well, Garak left the 'lift, and turned
towards the observation niche. Briskly walking, he used techniques he had
learned in the Order to clear his mind, and relax. The Cardassian had passed the
small room when he heard a muffled thunk. Curious, he turned back and
silently crept down the short hallway that led into the darkened room.
A familiar silhouette was outlined against
the stars, his shoulders slumped and
his head against the viewport. As Garak watched, the wormhole opened, and
ejected a ship. Fascinating patterns of phosphorescent blue light danced over
the curls of Julian's hair and the planes of his face; the illumination allowed
Garak a glimpse of the sorrow that had etched itself into the smooth brow.
Something about the younger man's stance spoke to Garak, and he crossed the
room to place his hand against the narrow back.
"My dear doctor...are you ill?"
Julian started and stepped back, into the
bulk of the tailor. Flustered, he
stammered out, "I-I'm fine. Just fine." A frown crossed his face, and he asked,
"And where is your lovely companion? I wouldn't have thought that you and
she would have ended your evening so soon."
Was that jealousy? Could it be that
Julian was actually jealous? Of Ezri Dax?
Feeling his heart begin to hammer, Garak answered in a bland tone, "If you are
referring to Lieutenant Dax, she and I parted company at Quark's. I found that I
wasn't in the mood for the noisy crowd."
"Oh..." Noticing how close he was
still standing to the Cardassian, Julian turned
to move away. "I suppose that you and she will be spending most of your
evenings quietly then."
He *was* jealous...if there was something
that he understood about humans, and
this human in particular, it was that jealousy stemmed from a desire to possess
something...in this case something that was perceived to be out of reach. If
Julian was jealous, that meant that he was interested -- but in who? Himself or
Ezri? Knowing that if he used the right questions Julian would tell him, Garak
asked, "And why would we do that?"
Misery was the only word that Garak would
have used to describe Julian's
expression as he answered. "Well, that is what people in relationships do --
spend time together..." Moving towards the doorway, he said, "I have to go...I'll
see you later, Garak."
Stepping in front of Julian, Garak blocked
the path to freedom. With gentle
hands, the Cardassian reached out to frame the hot face. Cupping the narrow
jaw, Garak forced Julian to raise his head.
Whispering, Julian said, "Garak, let me
go...*please.*" His hazel eyes, luminous
with unshed tears, locked onto the pale blue of the Cardassian's. "Please."
"No. I think that we need to discuss
this." As he watched, a single tear rolled
over Julian's cheekbone to caress the gray skin on the back of his hand.
Trying to pull away, Julian repeated, "Please..."
Garak shook his head, and began to walk
the younger man backwards. When
Julian met up with the bulkhead, Garak allowed his momentum to carry his body
forward so that his full length was pressed against Julian. Still cupping the
human's face between his hands, Garak lowered his mouth to Julian's in a tender
Even this chaste kiss sent a spike of desire
through him; Julian could feel the
tension in his groin, and pulled his face away and began to push at the
Cardassian, panicking at the prospect of revealing how the kiss had affected
him. Shaking the cool gray hands from his heated face, Julian said, "Don't,
please. Don't play with me. It's not fair...to me, or to Ezri."
Chuckling, Garak asked, "Doctor, what exactly
do you think is going on
between myself and the Lieutenant?"
Bitterly, the doctor said, "I thought it
was pretty obvious tonight at Quark's.
You were all over her, and she was -- she..." Closing his eyes, Julian took a
deep breath and said, "It's obvious that you and she are -- involved. Now will
you please let me go?"
Pressed against the slim form, the tailor
felt the stirrings at Julian's groin, and his
chuckle deepened as he took in the flushed face and heaving chest beneath him.
"Julian...do you really believe that? Do you really think that I'm interested in
"I - I don't know what to believe."
Hardly believing that he was letting himself
say it, Garak began to speak.
Cradling the doctor's head in his hands, the Cardassian punctuated his words
with kisses -- one onto Julian's temple, one to each of the fluttering eyelids and
the bridge of his nose, across the sharp jut of a cheekbone, and finally the full
lips. "Even if you've never believed me before, please believe me in this: for
almost seven years, there's been no one that I've wanted to be involved with, but
you. Only you."
Garak felt a strange tingle of fear in
his stomach -- he'd just taken a big risk...the
biggest risk of his life. Hoping that he hadn't been wrong, he watched as the
peat colored eyes opened and fixed on him with a questing stare. What he saw
in those eyes reassured him a bit. What he saw was a beginning.
Opening his eyes, Julian looked into the
serious Cardassian face. What he saw
there was hard to describe -- he thought there was desire, and even a little fear.
Reaching up to cover the hand against his neck, Julian felt relief wash over
him...he'd been granted a second chance.
Again lowering his mouth to the doctor's,
Garak whispered, "Happy New Year,
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