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Fic: A Light in the Mirror (5/?)
Author: [personal 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): ~5000
Warnings: Slavery (but not non-con, surprisingly. However, things get dark 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.

Previous parts:


Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four



Opoki's Palace, the program Quark had selected for them, was based on a real place on Bajor. At one point in Bajor's history, it was the home of royalty; now, it served as a retreat for the wealthy and powerful. It was an enormous structure, containing beautiful gardens, massive halls for every sort of entertainment one could imagine, and, of course, ornate private rooms.

The program opened in one of those rooms. It was large, with vaulted ceilings that gave the room an open feeling. There was a sitting area towards the front, containing several richly decorated chairs and lounging sofas. A few small tables held refreshments: breads, fruits and cheeses, as well as bottles of wine. The left side of the room opened up into a balcony that had its own set of furniture and refreshments. Towards the back of the room was an enormous bed, partially hidden by curtains which hung from the ceiling.

Garak and Julian stood there for a moment, not certain of what to say to each other. Julian didn't look well; it was the first time since he'd arrived that he seemed truly shaken. “Thank you,” he said eventually. “I can normally take care of myself, but...” The shock seemed to be wearing off; now he seemed angry. “I don't know what happened. I'm not some fragile child who can't take care of himself. I've been threatened before. Why did I just stand there? What's wrong with me?”

“It's a good thing you didn't. If you had fought back, I don't know if I could have stopped the Intendant from having you...disciplined.”

“Right. Because Terrans don't speak back to their masters, and they certainly don't put up a fuss when threatened with rape.” He started to pace around the room, his voice rising with every word. “Or I suppose that it isn't even rape; it's not as if I'm a person with my own will. I'm a thing now, just an object to be used and discarded..!”

Julian sat down on one of the sofas and put his head in his hands, taking a few deep breaths. After a few moments, he appeared more composed. “I didn't think going through with this would bother me. I told myself that it would just be for a few hours and that it wasn't real, but I already feel less than myself. Like a thing instead of a person.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and shivered, even though the sun streaming in from the balcony made the room warm. Garak sat down beside him. He picked up one of the velvet throw blankets from a nearby chair and draped it over Julian's shoulders. Julian gave him a weak smile. “So much for not letting her get to me,” he said.

“Don't blame yourself,” Garak said. “It's something that she's extremely good at.”

“What does she want? Is this just some sadistic game to her?”

“Partly,” Garak said. “The other part of it is that she wants me gone. I work for the Cardassian military, not her, and she's obligated to keep at least two Cardassian officers in her ranks. She has some say over who she accepts into new positions, but I was here before she was. The only way she can be rid of me is if I'm promoted, or if I choose to leave. She thinks that if she makes me miserable enough, I'll abandon my post.”

“And she thinks that hurting me will make you miserable?”

“I think that's what she was trying to gauge tonight – to see how much I care about what happens to you.”

“And do you care?” Julian asked. He was giving him that searching look again – the same one he'd given him when Garak gave him the chocolates, and when he undid his restraint.

Was there any point in denying it now? “Yes,” he said quietly. Their gazes met for a moment. Garak almost said something, but the words caught in his throat.

Julian stood up abruptly and walked over to the balcony; he kept the blanket over his shoulder in place with one hand. He looked even more stunning in the sunlight than he did in the pale lights of the space station. Garak felt like his heart was going to burst, it ached so badly.

“It's a nice program,” Julian said. “What planet is this supposed to be?”

Garak was somewhat relieved at the change of subject, since he had no idea what to say next. “Bajor.”

“I thought so. The name sounded familiar – this is an ancient royal palace, isn't it?”

“Yes, but not anymore. Bajor hasn't had royalty in centuries.”

“Same on our side. It's supposed to be a lovely historical site. Whenever I'm on Bajor, I mean to visit it, but never quite seem to get there.”

“You go to Bajor often?”

“Every few months. It's the closest planet to the station; it's nice to have a break from life in deep space.”

Garak walked over to stand beside Julian. “I'm going to live on Bajor one day,” he said.

“I thought you wanted to be in command of this station.”

“What I want is a promotion so I can finally leave this wretched place behind. Who would want to be here?”

“Well – the Intendant, I'd imagine,” Julian said.

Garak scoffed. “I doubt it. She likes being in control, but I'm sure she hates this place as much as everyone else,” he said. “It's not as if any of the wealth that comes out of this station is actually hers. For all of her pretenses of royalty, she's a government drone. She's as stuck here as I am.”

They stood beside one another for several long moments, looking out at the view of the spectacular gardens below them. Garak tried to gauge what Julian was thinking; he couldn't tell if he was deliberately avoiding looking at him or if he was simply lost in thought. “Things would not be so bad for you on Bajor,” Garak said eventually. “If you can't get back to your universe, I could take you there. Not right away, of course, but in time...”

Julian finally turned to look at him. He didn't seem surprised by Garak's offer, but he didn't seem pleased, either. “I really don't think – ”

“I wouldn't ask anything of you,” Garak rushed ahead before he could finish. “No one would treat you poorly; I wouldn't allow it.”

“I'm going back to my universe,” he said, gently but firmly.

“But what if the Intendant is right, and you can't?”

“She may be right about the transporters, but she doesn't know about the wormhole. If it brought us here, I'm sure it can bring us back. And even if I can't get back – I can't stay here, or anywhere where I'd be enslaved. It would kill me.”

“Terrans are enslaved everywhere in this galaxy.”

“You mean on worlds under the Alliance,” Julian pointed out. “The galaxy is an awfully big place. There has to be somewhere I could escape to. I could even venture into the Gamma Quadrant.”

“No, it's too dangerous. Other Terrans have thought that before you and have paid the price. I won't let you get yourself killed.”

Julian gave him a startled look. “I'm not looking for your permission,” he said. “You aren't planning on trying to stop me from leaving, are you?” When Garak didn't answer right away, his tone grew even more alarmed. “You have to promise me that you'll help me leave this station, even if I can't return to my universe.”

Garak met his gaze. He couldn't possibly say no to those eyes; however, he didn't have to mean it. “I promise,” he lied. “It's just that I care what happens to you,” he added, more honestly. “More than I've cared about anything in quite some time.”

Julian's expression softened. “You should leave, too,” he said.

“What?”

“Leave this station. You said you only want to depose the Intendant so that you can move on. What if you're never promoted? You could be stuck here for years.”

Garak wasn't sure what to say. He'd never considered just getting up and leaving before. “I can't just leave; it would end my career.”

“Your career in a military for a planet you hate – how much is that really worth?” Julian seemed to be really warming up to the idea now. “We still need to depose the Intendant, of course, since it would make the Major's and my escape possible. Beside, I can't in good conscience leave this place in her hands if I can help it. But once our Kira's made the switch, she can appoint someone else to be in charge – someone who isn't a monster. Maybe someone who will work on freeing the rest of the Terrans. Then you can resign your commission.”

“But what would I do with myself?”

“I don't know – anything you want. I have a feeling you'd make a decent tailor,” he said with a grin. “Or you could buy a shuttlecraft and set off to see the universe.”

“Would you come with me?” Garak said impulsively. “I know, you're going back to your universe,” he said when Julian started to protest. “But if that's not possible for whatever reason – would you come with me?”

“That's a difficult question to answer,” he said gently. “I've only just met you.”

“But you know me,” Garak said. “You've almost as good as said it – I'm just like him, aren't I?”

“You look like him, and there does seem to be some similarity in your personalities,” Julian said. “And I'll admit that this has all been...confusing. But in the end, you're not the same. You aren't my Elim.”

“I could be,” he said. “If you gave me the chance.”

Whatever response Julian was going to give him was cut short by the sound of the bell at the door. Garak and Julian exchanged looks. The bell sounded again.

“You should probably answer that,” Julian said.

Garak reluctantly walked to the door and opened it. It was the Intendant, of course. With her was one of her Vulcan servants, the other Kira, and Benjamin Sisko.

“Hel-lo!” the Intendant said in a sing-song voice. She looked into the room over Garak's shoulder. “Oh good, you haven't started yet.” She brushed past him; the others trailed behind her.

Garak was speechless at first. His hands began to shake with rage. “How dare you barge in here,” Garak said once he was capable of speaking. “You can't keep invading my privacy like this. I'm your second-in-command, not one of your slaves, and I demand that you – ”

“Oh, relax,” she interrupted. “I rang the bell, didn't I? And I'm not here to spoil your fun.” She glanced at the blanket around Julian's shoulders. “You know, generally you're supposed to start taking things off rather than putting them on. I know you're probably new at this, Garak, but I assumed that you'd get at least that right.”

“What do you want?” Garak said.

“My Nierys was concerned about Julian's safety.” She turned to her counterpart. “See? I told you he was fine.”

The other Kira walked over to Julian. “Are you?” she asked him directly.

He nodded. “Yes, I'm all right.”

“Of course he is,” the Intendant said. “Elim here is in love; he wouldn't do anything to hurt his dear Julian.” She wandered over to the sitting area and draped herself on one of the sofas. Once she had sat down, Sisko took one of the chairs, slouching in it with one leg dangled over the arm. He took a knife from his belt and began picking dirt out from under his fingernails.

“Mmm, I love this program,” the Intendant said. “The seats are so decadently soft – aren't they, Benjamin?”

“Indeed they are,” Sisko said. He smiled at his knife.

“I don't believe you've met Julian yet,” she said. “Julian, this is Benjamin. Benjamin, Julian.”

Sisko turned his smile from the knife to Julian. “A pleasure to meet you,” he said. “How did you like the chocolates?”

Julian was caught off-guard by the question. “They were fine,” he mumbled.

The Intendant held a hand out to the other Kira. “Come, my Nierys – sit by me. We might as well have a drink while we're here.”

The other Kira reluctantly crossed the room and sat down beside the Intendant. The Vulcan servant poured two glasses and handed them to the Intendant, who handed one to the other Kira in turn. “My poor Nierys,” she said, stroking her arm lightly. “You're still upset, I can tell. Why didn't you tell me you cared about Julian?”

“I'm a little afraid of you,” the other Kira said after a moment.

The Intendant looked pained. “I don't want your fear,” she said. “I want your love! If you can't love me – ” She stopped herself as if she'd revealed too much. After a sip of her drink, she continued in a brighter tone. “And there's no need to fear me! I know that I can come across as a little...harsh, but that's only because I have to be firm to run this station. I'm really a very gentle person, so long as people don't lie to me or disobey me. Isn't that right, Benjamin?”

“There are newborn lambs who are more vicious than you,” Sisko said.

The Intendant smiled. “You see? And Julian's fine, aren't you Julian?” she said, calling over to him.

Julian clenched his jaw and said nothing.

The Intendant sighed. “Oh, stop sulking. I only have your best interests at heart. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so hard on you, but I'm simply trying to make your transition into your new life as quick as possible. Considering the alternatives, you should be grateful you've ended up where you are. Just because you aren't free doesn't mean you can't be happy. I mean, look at Benjamin here. He started in the processing center, but like you, he was lucky enough to catch the eye of someone important. Now he has everything he could ever want. You are happy, aren't you, Benjamin?”

“I greet every morning with a song in my heart,” Sisko said without looking up.

She looked over at Garak. “I'm looking out for you, too, believe it or not. Do you really think that he's going to easily trade his freedom just for the chance to warm your bed? No, I'm afraid that Julian here is using you in order to make an escape attempt. I can't believe that I have to tell this to you, of all people, but you need to put him in his place. He'll be happier for it.” She beckoned to the two of them. “Come now, both of you – sit down, have a drink. Let's all be friends.”

“My duties don't include being your friend,” Garak spat.

“Did I hurt your feelings?” the Intendant said with a pout. “I have to say – I'm finding this new, tender side of you rather adorable.”

“Play your games with someone else. You can't order me to stay.”

“Maybe not you,” she said. “But I can certainly order him.” She turned her attention to Julian. “Come on, now. You can sit on the floor here by me.”

“No,” Julian said.

The Intendant's eyes flashed with annoyance. “You see, this is exactly what I'm talking about. 'No' isn't a part of your vocabulary anymore. Get over here.” When Julian still didn't budge, she let out an exasperated sigh. “Being this stubborn is only going to make you miserable in the long run – can't you see that? Don't you want to be happy?”

“As if you could possibly know what makes anyone happy,” Julian said.

“Don't be silly,” she said. “I'm the picture of happiness!”

“I don't think so,” Julian said. “In fact, I think you're one of the saddest people I've ever met. There's an emptiness in you, and you're starting to realize that you're powerless to fill it. That's why you play all these little games with people's lives, because the only real power you have is the ability to make everyone around you more miserable than yourself. But no matter what you do to me, or to anyone else, it won't change the fact that you will never know what love feels like. You'll never even have a true friend. You will always be alone.”

The smile dropped off the Intendant's face. “I think I know a lot more about happiness than you do,” she said. “You've had an easy life, haven't you? No real hardships, everything handed to you – I can tell. You're spoiled and arrogant. Someone who's never known pain can never truly appreciate the happiness that comes their way.”

Her smile had returned, but it was much sharper than before. “So I'm going to give you a gift. Benjamin is going to bring you over here, and I am going to have him do things to you that you couldn't possibly imagine even in your worst nightmares. And when I've decided that you've had enough – when you beg me for mercy – I'll have whatever's left of you scraped up and sent back to Garak here, and the relief that you feel will send you into the most ecstatic heights of happiness that you've ever known!”

“No!” the other Kira shouted.

The Intendant stopped her tirade and looked over at her counterpart. She seemed startled, as if she'd forgotten she was there.

“Please,” the other Kira continued in a more measured tone. “Just – let him go. For me.”

The sharpness had left the Intendant's expression; now she seemed almost embarrassed. “Oh, all right,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand, as if they'd been arguing over what to have for dinner rather than whether or not to torture someone. She turned to her Vulcan slave. “Solak – take Julian back to the Gul's chambers, and make sure he stays there.” She pointed to Garak. “But you're staying for a drink. Those feelings that Julian thinks I don't have are starting to get very hurt.”

Garak didn't argue – he couldn't. Anything he might have said would have come out in a pant; he felt as if he'd barely outrun a pack of hungry wolves. Once Julian was led from the room, his heartbeat started to slow. He felt a surge of anger – at the Intendant, of course, but also at Julian. He was angry at his recklessness, but also at his ability to make Garak feel this way. He hadn't been frightened like this since he was a child. This whole situation was complete folly; for a brief moment, he wished that Julian had never come into his life.

Garak sat down on the one remaining empty chair beside Sisko, who was now sitting up instead of slouching in his seat. His demeanor had changed since the Intendant had made her threat; before, he seemed uninterested in the proceedings, but now he was watching everyone with subtle but intense interest. Garak wondered what he was thinking; he hadn't seemed eager to carry out her orders, at the very least.

Sisko put his knife on one of the tables and picked up a bottle of wine. “Allow me,” he said, and he poured them both a glass. Their gazes met when he handed the drink to Garak; for once, he didn't seem mocking. Garak felt like those dark eyes were searching him for something, but he wasn't sure what.

The Intendant finished her wine and stared moodily at the bottom of her glass. “This wine was terrible,” she said. “It's given me an awful headache.” She tossed the glass aside; it shattered on the floor. She crossed her arms over her chest, looking like a sulky child. “I wasn't really going to hurt him,” she added eventually. “Not that badly. I was just trying to frighten him a little. I have to be firm. Imagine if all the Terrans had his attitude; nothing would ever get done.” She touched the other Kira's arm. “You understand that, don't you?”

“I'm sure you only do what you think is best,” the other Kira said in a flat tone.

The Intendant continued to stroke her arm lightly. “Once you've been here for awhile, you'll see. I do it all for them, and I'm so alone – no one understands my burden. But that's all going to change now that you're here. We're still friends, aren't we?”

The other Kira managed to nod, but didn't look at the Intendant. The Intendant frowned, but instead of saying something to her, she directed her displeasure at Garak. “And I don't see where you get off acting as if the thought of discipline is something that horrifies you. You discipline Terrans so enthusiastically that they sometimes don't survive to appreciate the lesson! Does your Julian know that? I'm thinking he doesn't. Maybe I should bring him back here and tell him all of the nasty things you get up to!”

Sisko suddenly stood up. He walked over behind the Intendant and gently put his hands on her shoulders. “Haven't they taken up enough of your time?” he said as he began to massage her. “You promised me that we would have fun tonight. I'm not having any fun – are you?”

She sighed and leaned into the caress. “No, I'm not. And this evening started out so promising.”

He leaned down until his mouth was by her ear. “It isn't over yet,” he said.

She let out a hum of pleasure, but she wasn't quite ready to give up her sulk. “I suppose not, but now I have this awful headache.”

“Why don't we go sit on the balcony? The fresh air might help.”

“It's not really fresh air,” the Intendant pointed out. “It's fake, like everything else here.”

“It feels real enough,” Sisko said. He rounded the sofa and helped her to her feet, then placed a kiss on her hand.

“Oh, all right,” she said, her foul mood almost completely evaporated. “If you insist.” She turned and headed for the balcony.

As soon as her back was turned, the other Kira stood and made a move to pick up the knife that Sisko had put on the table. Sisko quickly put his hand over hers, preventing her from picking it up. When their gazes met, he silently shook his head. She reluctantly released her grip.

The Intendant turned back around. “What are you doing?” she said when she saw Sisko's hand on the other Kira's.

“She stumbled when she stood up,” Sisko said smoothly. “I think her head is hurting, too. She has your delicate constitution.”

“Is that it?” the Intendant asked the other Kira. “You're not feeling well?”

She nodded. “Yes. The wine...”

The Intendant looked relieved. “Of course – it's the wine. You do look pale. Poor thing.”

“Perhaps she should return to her quarters,” Sisko said. “To rest.”

The Intendant hesitated for a moment. “Yes,” she said finally. “That's probably for the best.” She walked back across the room and embraced her. “Good night, my Nierys. Sleep well.”

She turned to Garak. “I suppose you can go, too,” she said. She pointed a finger at him. “But next time I see Julian, he better be nicer to me. The assignments for Terran slaves are ultimately my decision, and if you can't keep him in line, I'll give him to Odo.”

“That won't be necessary,” Garak said quickly.

“You really have fallen for him, haven't you?” she said with a sly smile. “Don't worry – I'm not going to snatch him away from you without cause. I think it's good you have something to care about other than your petty little ambitions. And now you have something to lose; that's bound to improve your temperament.” She gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Good night, Garak.”

Garak and the other Kira left the room together and made their way out of Quark's bar. As soon as they were alone, Garak pulled her aside. “What did you think you were doing back there!?”

“I had to do something!” she said. “I can understand why you might be confused since I look exactly like her, but I'm not a psychopath. I'm not going to stand by and do nothing while my friend is threatened with torture!”

“And so, what – you thought you could just stab her to death and then waltz off of this station without any trouble? The whole crew is in that bar – and Sisko was even in the room...” He stopped. “Wait. Were you expecting him to help you? Are you working with him?”

“I'm not discussing anything with you,” she said. She started to walk away. Garak grabbed her arm – that was a mistake. Before he knew it, she had him slammed up against the wall, her forearm against his throat. She'd also relieved him of his phaser, which was now pressed against his temple.

“If you kill me, you'll never escape,” Garak managed to choke out. “They'll hear the phaser fire and be after you in minutes.”

After a tense few moments, she released him. He snatched the phaser from her and put it back its holster. As much as he'd like to, he couldn't kill her here; he suspected that she knew that, too. “Sisko can't help you,” he said. “His power is dependent on the Intendant's favor. If she's gone, he'll be useless to you.”

“I'm not so sure about that,” she said. “He has a ship.”

“And why should he help you? His fortune depends on the Intendant – why would he ruin what he has here? He's not the type to help others out of the kindness of his heart.”

“I'm pretty sure I have a better shot with him than I have with you.”

“Now, that simply isn't true. I offered you a deal. It's still on the table.”

She laughed. “Oh, please. You never intended on honoring that deal and we both know it. At first I thought you might, but now that I've seen the extent of your sick infatuation with Bashir, I know you were never planning on letting us leave. You were going to let me take the Intendant's place, and then you were going to arrange for some 'accident' to befall me. Isn't that right?”

Garak didn't have a good answer to that, so he said nothing.

“What did you think was going to happen after you got rid of me? That Bashir would just resign himself to staying here? I've been asking around about you – you're just as much of a monster as the Intendant. He's going to see through whatever lies you've been telling him eventually. You aren't the man he loves – you just look like him. And once he knows the truth about you, he'll be as horrified and disgusted by you as I am.”

She turned to leave again; this time, Garak didn't try to stop her. As soon as she was out of sight, he tapped his comm badge. “Garak to Telok.”

“Here, sir.”

“I need you to post a guard to the Intendant's double's room – no, two guards. Make sure she doesn't leave until morning.”

There was a pause. “Understood,” he said, but Garak could hear the uncertainty in his voice.

“I'll explain everything tomorrow,” he said. He hoped that he could.

He made his way back to his quarters as fast as he could without running. Had the other Kira come for Julian? The Vulcan slave was there, he told himself. She couldn't have gotten past him. Besides, she probably didn't know where his quarters were. And where would she take him? There was nowhere she could hide him, she had to realize that –

He found the Vulcan standing guard by the door, seemingly undisturbed. “Has anyone been by here?” he asked him.

“No, sir.”

Garak breathed a sigh of relief. “You can leave now,” he said. The Vulcan bowed and left.

Garak didn't enter the door right away, taking a moment to compose himself. Everything was falling apart. He didn't know what he was going to do. He had tonight, at least. Just one night, he pleaded silently – to whom he didn't know. One night, that's all I ask.

He took a deep breath and steadied himself, then opened the door and stepped through.
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