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Fic: A Light in the Mirror (2/?)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] seraphtrevs (My Fic Masterlist) My fic can also be found over at Archive of Our Own
Pairing: Julian Bashir/Elim Garak
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Word Count (this part): ~5800
Warnings: Slavery (but not non-con, surprisingly. However, things get a little bumpy up ahead, so proceed with caution.)
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit made, etc.
Summary: Mirrorverse AU. Gul Elim Garak has always been hated and feared, but when a strange Terran from another universe mistakes him for his lover, Garak gets a glimpse of a life he might have led.

A/N: Sorry for the delay; RL has been a little hectic. It's looking like the fic is going to turn out a little longer than anticipated - five parts instead of four, but I'm not entirely sure yet.

Previous parts:
Chapter One



Garak had never slept with anyone. He'd fucked people – prostitutes, mostly – but they always left as soon as the deed was done. He'd never shared a bed, and he'd never particularly wanted to. There was no one he would trust to not slit his throat the moment he shut his eyes, and besides, the mechanics of it seemed uncomfortable. Wouldn't there be snoring and kicking and other unpleasantness to put up with? He couldn't imagine getting a good's night's rest with another person in his bed.

It turned out he was correct; he didn't get much sleep that night. Julian was a messy sleeper, hogging most of the bed with his tossing and turning. He snored – not heavily, but loud enough that it disturbed him. But what Garak hadn't anticipated were the pleasures that came from having someone in his bed. He hadn't realized how cold his bed was until he had Julian beside him. At one point, Julian threw an arm around Garak; it felt exquisitely warm. He considered cuddling up to him, but didn't want to risk waking him; instead, he held himself very still so as not to dislodge him. He drifted in and out of sleep, and every time he opened his eyes, he saw Julian there, and it filled him with a sense of well-being that he'd never felt before.

He got up at his usual time. Julian was still asleep; he was sleeping so soundly that Garak didn't have the heart to wake him. He went to the dining room and ordered a simple breakfast from the replicator for himself and Julian. He ate and sipped his tea while reading over some reports. By the time he finished, Julian still hadn't awoken, so Garak went back to the bedroom. Julian was sprawled out on his back, still snoring blissfully. Garak sat down on the edge of the bed. “Julian,” he said, giving his shoulder a gentle shake.

Julian's eyes fluttered open. He stretched and yawned. “Hey you,” he said with a sleepy, flirtatious smile. Then he seemed to remember where he was, and his smile vanished. He sat up. “Oh. I'm sorry – I forgot where I was.”

Garak cleared his throat. “I have breakfast for you at the table.” He left the room. Julian tried to follow him, but fell on his face when he tried to step past the doorway. Garak realized that he'd forgotten about the restraint. “Are you all right?”

“I'm fine,” Julian said, sitting up. “But I think you may have forgotten something.”

“Of course – I'm sorry. Give me a moment.” Garak fetched the key and changed the limits on the restraint.

“I don't suppose there's any chance of you removing it altogether?”

“You suppose correctly,” Garak said. “Wouldn't you do the same in my place?”

“No.”

Garak gave him a curious look. “You really mean that, don't you?”

“Yes. There's nothing that builds trust as quickly as actually trusting the other person.”

“It isn't just a matter of trust; it's for your own protection as well. As long as you're wearing that, no one can drag you out of here.”

“Ah – that's something I hadn't thought of,” Julian said. “Is that likely to happen?”

“Perhaps. I'm not sure what the Intendant will do if she finds I've brought you here. She might find it amusing if she thinks I brought you here for...my own personal entertainment,” he said. For some reason, he was reluctant to spell out exactly what he meant.

“Why would she find that 'amusing?'”

“Because she knows that I disapprove of the pleasure slaves she keeps.” Which was true, but it wasn't out of concern for the Terrans' well-being – it was more because he found her decadence loathsome. He wasn't about to stop Julian from inferring otherwise, however. “But if she suspects our plans, then she'll most definitely try to take you away.”

“And have me executed.”

“I won't let that happen,” Garak said, more fervently than he had intended.

“Thank you,” Julian said, sounding a little surprised at his vehemence.

“Yes, well,” Garak said, trying to hide his embarrassment at his outburst. “With luck, it will take her some time to figure out that you're here.”

“Hopefully I'll be gone before she has the chance. No offense, but your universe is terrible.”

Garak laughed. He couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed in honest amusement. “None taken. I'm not very fond of it myself.”

Julian sat down at the table and began to eat. When he took a sip of his tea, he paused. “This is Tarkalean tea,” he said.

“Would you prefer something else?”

Julian shook his head. “No. It's my favorite, actually.” He laughed a little. “I was drinking Tarkalean tea the day I met my Elim.”

“How did you meet?”

“He approached me while I was eating lunch one day. I didn't even realize he was flirting with me, although in retrospect he was laying it on rather thick. I used to be a little naïve.”

Garak decided he should let that comment pass without remark. “So you weren't lovers straight away.”

“Not right away, no. We were very good friends for a long time first.” Julian finished his tea and stared at the empty cup for a moment, lost in thought. “So,” he said, putting the cup down. “What's the plan?”

“I'll find your Kira and speak with her,” Garak said. “We'll plan from there.”

“I'd like to see her, too.”

“I'm not sure that's feasible. I can relay a message, if you'd like.”

“I can't really think of what to say, other than telling her that I'm all right and anxious to get the bloody hell out of here.” He thought for a moment. “Oh! I have it. Tell her that I look forward to listening to more music by Tor Jolan.”

“What does that mean?”

“It's what we were listening to before we arrived here. That way, she'll know that I'm truly all right and working with you.”

Garak was about to ask him what the logic behind that was when the door buzzer rang. They both froze for a moment.

“Get back into the bedroom and close the door,” Garak said, lowly and urgently. “Do not come out until I tell you.”

As soon as Julian was safe in the bedroom, Garak answered the door. His heart dropped – it was the Intendant.

“Garak!” she said cheerily. “How are you this lovely morning? Mind if I come in?” She brushed past him without waiting for an answer.”

“Is there something I can do for you?” he asked.

“Oh, I just thought I'd drop by and see how you were doing,” she said. “We work together all the time and we never really talk – you know, just as one friend to another.” She wandered over to the table and picked up Julian's teacup. “Hmmm. Breakfast for two? How interesting!”

Garak's heart was racing. “What do you want?” he asked, trying to sound annoyed rather than anxious.

“I heard a very interesting rumor about you,” she said. “A little bird told me that you rescued the Terran from the alternate universe and brought him back to your quarters. Is it true?”

Garak said nothing, but his eyes reflexively darted to the bedroom. Her smile widened, and before Garak could stop her, she opened the bedroom door. Julian was lying in bed, naked. His hair was mussed, his lips were swollen, and he was breathing heavily. In short, he looked like he'd just been fucked.

The Intendant laughed with delight. “I knew it!” she said. “When I saw the breakfast plates set our for two, I knew it had do be someone you forced here. I mean, who would ever willingly sleep with you?”

“I was willing,” Julian said.

She gave him a surprised look. Terrans rarely spoke to her unless she addressed them directly; it was one of Odo's rules of obedience. “Well, aren't you an enthusiastic little slut!” she said once she'd gotten over her surprise. “The other Nerys says that you're a doctor on your side – is that a euphemism for 'whore' over there?”

Not for the first time, Garak reflected on how good her head would look on a spike. Julian's eyes flashed with fury, but her didn't lose his temper. “No,” he said. “I am a medical doctor, and a man of science. I decided it would be an interesting experiment to see if this Elim is as fantastic in bed as the one in my universe.”

“And is he?”

“Wouldn't you like to know.”

Rather than being angry, the Intendant seemed to be delighted by his insolence. She gave Garak a smile. "Why, Elim," she said with a laugh. "I didn't know you had it in you! I always figured you for a eunuch." She turned back to Julian. “So what's your Elim like? Is he an incompetently ambitious bore like mine is?"

“He's a tailor, actually,” Julian said.

The Intendant started laughing. “A tailor? You have to be kidding me.”

“No, and it's too bad for you that he isn't in this universe as well – maybe he could help you sort out whatever this is supposed to be,” he said, gesturing to her outfit.

The Intendant looked down at herself. “What's wrong with what I'm wearing?”

“It looks like you fell in an Angolian tar pit and forgot to dry off.”

There was a stunned moment of silence. Several years ago, Garak had witnessed a shuttlecraft accident. The navigational instruments had gone offline as well as communications, rendering the ship effectively blind. There was nothing anyone could do except watch as the craft sputtered spastically around the station before finally crashing, killing everyone on board. Garak had a similar feeling now. He held his breath as he waited for the Intendant to respond.

She blinked, as if she couldn't quite believe what had just happened. Then she started to laugh. She laughed so hard that she nearly doubled over, clutching her stomach as tears of mirth rolled down her cheeks. “Oh my,” she said after her laughter died down. “I haven't laughed that hard in ages. You are an absolute treasure. I'm so glad Odo didn't beat you to death. Oh!” she said, thinking of something. “I'm having a party tonight to welcome my Nerys to the station. You should come! You, too, I suppose,” she said to Garak with less enthusiasm. “The festivities start at 2000 hours– don't be late.” She started to leave, but turned back and gave Julian a thoughtful look. “You're going to need something to wear. Hmm. I'll have to think on it.”

After the Intendant had left, Garak turned to Julian. “Are you out of your mind?! What were you thinking, speaking to her like that?”

“You said it yourself – she wasn't going to let you keep me unless it amused her to do so. I was making myself amusing. She strikes me as someone who's used to having her boots licked and has gotten bored with it.”

“She's going to tire of that very quickly,” Garak pointed out.

“But I'll be gone before then – that's the plan, isn't it?” Julian said. “And besides, you said you weren't going to let her execute me.”

Garak felt touched that Julian had that much faith in him. “I take that to mean you've agreed to help me?”

“I'll help you depose her,” Julian said. “But I'd like to find a way to do it without killing her.”

“You still don't want her dead, even after what she said to you?”

“I'm not about to condemn a woman to death just because she called me a slut,” Julian said. “Although it certainly didn't help her case any.”

Garak laughed; he couldn't help it. “Are you always like this?”

“Like what?”

“You just baited a woman who could have you killed, and now you're joking about it.”

Julian grinned. “I've always been resilient.” He shook his head. “It's eerie talking to her. She's identical in appearance to the Kira I know, but she couldn't be more different otherwise.”

“What's she like?”

“She's noble,” Julian said. “And very brave. In our universe, the Bajorans were enslaved by the Cardassians the same way the Terrans are enslaved here. She fought for their liberation and was willing to sacrifice herself if it meant that her people would some day be free. She's also a bit on the serious side – I think I've heard your Intendant laugh more times than I've heard her.”

“Are you two good friends?”

“Yes,” Julian said, but then amended, “Well, friendly colleagues, at least. She's not going to be any more enthusiastic about your murder plot than I am, you know.”

“I thought you said she fought for freedom. Were they all bloodless battles?”

“No, but there's a difference between fighting to defend yourself and premeditated murder.”

“I doubt the person killed would appreciate the distinction.”

Julian rolled his eyes. “You have at least one thing in common with my Elim – a love of semantics.” He gave him an imploring look. “Surely we can think of some way to do this without killing anyone?”

Garak sighed. Damn those eyes. “I suppose I could give your Kira a hypospray of tranquillizers,” Garak said. “That would allow her to make the switch.”

“I think that's an excellent idea,” Julian said with a smile. He stood up; he hadn't been completely naked after all, since he was still wearing his trousers. Garak tried not to be disappointed. After Julian put his shirt back on, they walked out to the dining area. Julian sat down to finish his breakfast, but Garak remained standing.

“I must go now,” he said with reluctance.

“I don't know what I'm going to do with myself while you're gone,” Julian said. “Just sitting around is going to drive me batty.”

“I'll try not to be gone too long. At the very least, I need to check to be sure they've patched up the thorium containment cells.” After a moment's thought, Garak fetched a padd from his desk and pushed a few buttons. He handed it to Julian. “Perhaps you would find it diverting to read about our history while I'm away.”

“That does sound interesting, actually,” Julian said. “Thank you.”

“You're welcome,” Garak said. “Before I go, would you like me to replicate you something for lunch?”

“Or you could adjust my restraint so that I could reach the replicator.”

“Have you ever had hasperat?” Garak said, ignoring Julian's comment as he went to the replicator. “It's quite spicy, but I've always enjoyed it. Mapa fruit is also tasty – the replicated version doesn't do it justice, but it's still delicious.”

Julian sighed, but chose not to argue the point. “That would be fine.” Garak replicated the food and put it on the table.

After Garak changed into his uniform, he left for the ore processing center. He contacted Telok and had him send one of his men to guard his quarters, and another one to trail the other Kira. She had already been summoned to the Intendant's quarters; it would probably be some time before he would be able to speak to her.

When he arrived at the processing center, he was confronted by Odo. “Good morning, sir,” he said. “I trust you had an enjoyable night?” The bastard had a smug look on his face; he must have been the one who told the Intendant.

“Very,” Garak said lightly; he couldn't let him see that it bothered him that anyone knew. “How are we doing on the thorium containment cell problem?”

“It's under control. I have my best Terran working on it.”

Garak looked over at the broken machine and saw the blond Terran on his knees in front of it, tools in hand. Sisko had finished with him, apparently. “Good,” Garak said. “I'll be in my office if you need me.”

“By the way,” Odo said. “I spoke with the Intendant about the efficiency of this station; she says that we're producing more ore than we ever have before. You must have made an error in your calculations. Sir.” He was smirking again. Garak ignored him; he wasn't about to let the slimy son of a bitch get a rise out of him.

He was able to deal with his ordinary duties fairly swiftly. Now all he had to do was wait until the Intendant was through with the Major. He idly patrolled the processing center; normally, he would hope that a Terran would step out of line so that he could amuse himself with an interrogation, but today wanted things to remain quiet. He had other things on his mind.

He hoped that the other Kira cooperated. From what Julian had told him of her, he knew that she was probably horrified by the conditions of the station. The enslavement of her people was something that Garak might be able to use to persuade her to his side. Once she agreed to aid him, they would have to act swiftly, so as not to give the Intendant time to sniff out their plans. He still thought killing the Intendant would be the easiest way, but if the other Kira would be more swayed by a non-lethal approach, that was what he should propose to her.

He'd tell her to drug the Intendant and switch their clothes. She could then call the guards and tell them to throw the unconscious Intendant in the brig. However, the drugs would wear off eventually. Once she woke up, there would be little doubt as to who the real Intendant was. He supposed he could always have her “accidentally” killed once the other Kira had taken her place. Or maybe he could cut out her tongue. He smiled to himself; that would be both satisfying and in keeping with his promise to Julian.

It would probably be best to wait a few weeks before he had her appoint him the new Intendant. The thought of the strange double from another universe would be less fresh in people's minds, making them less likely to guess the truth. It would also give him time to think of a plan to make Julian his. Yes, he was going to keep him. At some point between the previous night and that morning, Julian had transformed from an indulgence to a necessity. It was as if he'd spent his whole life subsisting on bread alone and had finally gotten a taste of a real, meaty meal. When he was a lonely, needy child, he'd made a promise to himself that once he was grown, he would never deny himself of anything he wanted that was in his power to take. He wanted Julian; therefore, he would have him.

The tricky part of it was that what he wanted couldn't simply be taken. He needed Julian to be willing, and that was going to take some finesse. While the other Kira posed as the Intendant, Garak would spend as much time as he could with Julian, building a rapport between them. When it came time for the scepter of power to be passed to him, he would follow through with his promise to help Julian and the other Kira escape. Alas, there would be a terrible confusion – the fleeing spacecraft would detected and identified as a vessel full of escaping Terrans; they would be fired upon. Garak would “discover” the error in the nick of time. He'd beam aboard the shuttle in time to save Julian, but not Kira. Perhaps Garak would be hurt in the process – not too badly, of course, but enough that he would require some tender nursing from the doctor.

They would learn that that had been Julian's last chance at returning to his universe; the rift that had brought him here had collapse, or disappeared, or was somehow plausibly made unavailable. Julian would be all alone expect for Garak, with nowhere to go except into his arms. He would be miserable at first, but in time he'd adjust. He'd probably never be happy in this godforsaken place – who could be? – but Garak had greater ambitions than control of a minor ore-processing station. Within a year or two of being Intendant, he could launch himself into a better position in the military, and he would keep reaching higher and higher until he could live life exactly as he pleased. He would buy a house on Bajor, where only the wealthiest members of the Cardassian military could afford to live, and he would give Julian anything he wanted, and Garak would be happy at last.

Garak came back to himself. It was a pleasant dream, but he couldn't afford to lose himself in it. There was too much yet to be done. He checked in with Telok to see if the Intendant had released her double yet; she hadn't. Frustrated, he tried to think of some way to occupy his time while he waited. He decided to try to think of ways to make Julian more comfortable and to strengthen their bond. Perhaps there was something nice he could get for him, but he was sure what that would be. He saw the blond Terran who was working on the machine and was struck with an idea.

He approached the Terran. “And how are things going here?” he asked.

The Terran put his tools down and stood up, keeping his gaze respectfully downcast. “I should be finished in another hour, sir.”

“Good, good,” Garak said. “I've noticed your work before. You always do your job admirably.”

The Terran seemed to not know how to respond. Garak couldn't really blame him; it wasn't as if he made it a habit of complimenting Terrans. “Thank you, sir,” he said.

“What's your name?”

“My designation is Theta 37594.”

“No, your given name.”

The Terran paused. “Miles O'Brien,” he said quietly.

“Did you ever live on the Terran home world, or have you always worked in space stations?”

“I was born on Earth, sir.”

“Tell me – if you could have any Terran food right at this moment, what would it be?”

The Terran's gaze flickered upward. “I'm sorry, sir?”

“Answer the question,” he said tersely, but then amended, “It's not a trick; I'm merely curious.”

“Chocolate,” the Terran said after a moment.

“What sort of food is that?”

“It's a candy.”

“Is that available in the replicator menu?”

“I don't think so, but I saw some in Sisko's ship yesterday. He wouldn't let me have any,” he added sullenly.

“Does he now.” Garak tapped his badge. “Garak to Telok.”

“Here, sir.”

“Send a few of your officers to meet me in docking. I'm going to have to confiscate a few items from Sisko's ship.”

“Right away, sir.”

Garak turned back to the Terran. “You've been very helpful. I'll let your supervisor know.”

He arrived in docking at the same time as the Klingon officers. He was hoping that Sisko and his crew would be elsewhere, but no, they were there on the ship. Sisko was there at the door to greet them. “Gul Garak,” Sisko said, his teeth exposed in an expression that looked similar to a smile. “What can I do for you?”

Garak hesitated for the briefest of moments. He would never admit it, but Sisko frightened him. The other Terrans were so beat down that he rarely had to worry about them fighting back. Sisko was different; part of it was that he knew he had the Intendant's favor and could afford to be insolent, but even more than that, Garak had the feeling that Sisko didn't particularly care what happened to him. A creature who had no fear was a dangerous, unpredictable thing.

“I've had reports that you have non-replicated food items on your ship. That's against regulations, you know.”

“I've never heard of any regulation like that,” Sisko said.

“They could be contaminated, and we wouldn't want the station crawling with pests now, would we?” Garak gave him a smile of his own. “Take your men and leave for a few hours. I'm sure Quark would be thrilled to host you.”

Sisko's expression shifted into something darker. He began to move forward very slowly; Garak wanted to hold his ground, but the Terran kept getting closer and closer until Garak could feel his breath on his face. Suddenly, he surged forward with a snarl as if to bite him. Garak let out a startled shout and stumbled backward.

Sisko laughed. “Of course, Gul. Anything you say.” He called out to his men and they filed out of the ship. Most of them had seen what had happened and were laughing, too. “Please, let me know if I can be of any further assistance,” Sisko said when the last of them were gone.

“I can't wait until the Intendant tires of you,” Garak said.

Sisko's teeth gleamed in the low light. “Likewise,” he said. He laughed again, and then he was gone.

Garak and the officers cleared through the messy contents of the ship, seizing anything that looked edible. He found several boxes filled with pieces of small brown food. He tasted one; it was very sweet. This must be the chocolate. He also found a few bottles of something that looked alcoholic. He had the Klingon officers dispose of everything except the boxes of candy and the bottles, which he took back to his office. He replicated a basket and arranged the items inside it, feeling very pleased with himself.

Just as he had finished, he received a message from Telok that the other Kira was finally on her way back to her quarters. He hastily made his way there, hoping to reach the room before she did. He made it just in time; five minutes after he entered the room, the other Kira appeared in the doorway, a purple gown draped over her arm.

“Lovely,” Garak said. “I do admire a well-tailored gown.”

She threw the gown aside with a look of disgust. “What the hell are you doing in my quarters, Garak?”

Garak couldn't help but stare at her for a moment. She looked exactly like the Intendant; he'd been expecting that, of course, but it was still eeire. After he got over his surprise, however, he realized that there was some variance. She held herself differently. The Intendant had the relaxed posture of someone who knew she was in total control; she always looked like she was ready to drape herself over something. This Kira stood straight; she was proud, but also guarded and ready to defend herself. Like Julian, she had dignity, but hers seemed hard-earned. Garak raised his arms as if in surrender. “My goodness, aren't we touchy. I merely stopped by so that we could have a chat – in private.”

“What have you done with Dr. Bashir?”

“Nothing, I assure you.”

“That's not what the Intendant tells me.”

“The Intendant has seen only what we wished her to see. I assure you, the doctor is quite safe with me. In fact, he and I have an agreement, and we were hoping that you would be interested in assisting us as well.”

“How do I know you're telling the truth?”

“He said to tell you he looks forward to listening to more music by Tor Jolan.”

She gave him a confused look. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“He said that if I told you that, then you would know that he was working with me willingly.”

“That definitely sounds like Bashir,” she said with a sigh and a grim smile. “All right, I'll bite. What kind of agreement?”

“You'd like to leave this station, yes?”

She nodded warily.

“There are things that I want as well. I think we can all help each other.”

“I'm listening,” she said.

“The Intendant, as you have no doubt surmised, is unstable. It would be in the best interests of this station and everyone on it if she were no longer in power. Resigning her post is not something she would ever do willingly. However, taking the position by force is also problematic – it would be very politically inconvenient for the Cardassians to annoy the Bajorans by forcibly taking control of this station. However, if she were to step down voluntarily...”

“You want me to convince her to do that?”

“No. I want you to take her place.”

What?

“It's the only way,” Garak said.

“And how am I supposed to do that?”

Garak gave her the hypospray. “I've loaded this with a powerful tranquilizer. Administer it to her when the two of you are alone. Once she's out, exchange her clothing for yours, and call the guards. Tell them that she's displeased you and have her thrown in the brig.”

“But when she wakes up, she'll tell them that she's the Intendant. I don't see why they would believe me over her.”

“That won't be a problem,” Garak said.

“Why not? Are you going to have her tongue cut out?” she said sarcastically. When Garak didn't respond, she gave him a horrified look. “You are, aren't you?”

“Do you have a better idea?”

“I do, actually – how about I find another way of getting us out of here and leave you to do your own dirty work?”

Garak decided it was time to make an appeal to her noble nature. “I've been told that in your universe, the Bajorans were subjugated to the same treatment as the Terrans are here. I was also told that you fought for their freedom. You've seen how this station is run. You see how she treats the Terrans. Even beyond saving yourself, isn't it your moral obligation to do something? You of all people should know that tyrants can't be reasoned with”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, I know about tyrants. I also know about the petty subordinates who nip at their heels. Don't insult my intelligence by pretending you have any interest in helping these people. How do I know things would be any better with you in charge?”

“I suppose you don't. But there is one difference between myself and the Intendant that I can assure you of – I will let you go. She won't.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because she's in love with you.” Kira gave him an incredulous look. “It's true,” Garak said. “You are her fondest dream come true – the image in her mirror made flesh and blood. Do you know what she calls you? 'My Nerys.' Perhaps a better person would be able to let go of her dream for the sake of her true love's happiness, but she is not a good person. She will be good to you, I'm sure – like a little girl taking care of her favorite dolly. But I doubt that's a life you'd like to lead; just ask Benjamin Sisko if he enjoys being her toy.”

Kira looked ill. Garak suppressed a triumphant smirk – he knew he had her. She gave him a level look. “Let's get something straight – I don't like you in my universe and I sure as hell don't like you in this one. Helping you goes against every instinct I have.”

“But help me you must, if you ever want to leave.”

She sat down on the sofa and put her hands to her face for a moment. “If I agreed to this – once I took her place, what would you want me to do?”

“After a sufficient amount of time has passed – a few weeks, perhaps – you will announce that you're stepping down to embark on a spiritual quest, to explore your Pah or whatever. You will name me as your successor.”

“And then you'll help me and Dr. Bashir return to our side.” Garak nodded. “I need time to think about it,” she said.

“Of course,” Garak said. “Find me when you've made up your mind.” He turned as if to leave, but stopped at the doorway. “Oh, and don't worry about Julian. I'll keep him very safe. However, if you should decide to decline my offer – well, I would prefer to have control of this station, but if I can't have that, he will make a lovely consolation prize.”

“You son of a bitch,” she snarled.

Garak smiled. “I'll give him your regards.” He left the room.

That had not gone as well as he had hoped. Apparently Julian's naiveté was a charm uniquely his own and not something endemic in the other universe. However, he was sure she would agree to his plan eventually; a few more days with the Intendant would erase any doubt from her mind. He was going to have to keep her from communicating with Julian, though – he couldn't imagine that Julian would react well if he heard how their conversation had really gone.

Annoyingly, some minor problems occurred which required his attention. He dealt with them as quickly as possible, but he was still laid up until close to dinner time. He and Julian would only have an hour before the Intendant's party. He gathered his basket and set off for his quarters, trying to ignore the hopeful flutter of his heart.

Onto Chapter Three!
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