crowdog66: (brigid stained glass)
Another public entry, because I understand that now some people are watching for my G/B who may not want to subscribe.

This story can be read as a sequel of sorts to "A Strange Thing", since it mentions Garak's acts of torture and murder in that fic.

Title: The Fall From Shadows
Pairing: Garak/Bashir
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, but very dark
Word Count: 1660
Summary: Garak watches Bashir sleep and contemplates how his life has been changed forever.
Notes: (1) Set in the "When the Farsei Blooms" universe. "WtFB" is told entirely from the perspective of Julian Bashir. This is a glimpse into Elim Garak's mind on one particular night during their time on the wilderness planet. (2) The term a'latli, as established in "WtFB", is a High Kardasi word which roughly translates into Terran as One who strikes sparks from me, as blade against blade, and whose gaze sheathes itself in my heart. Bashir first read the word in an excerpt from a volume of Cardassian poetry, The Fall From Shadows.


The throat of Julian Bashir lay bared beneath his hand, and Elim Garak paused, watching the Human’s eyelashs flutter fractionally as he dreamed. It was the deepest hour of the night. They lay entwined on a narrow cot in an army tent, warm golden limbs interlaced with cool grey under the thick blankets, and Bashir’s head rested upon his ridged right shoulder, obviously preferring it to any pillow. They had argued, and then they had made love, and when dawn came they would be going to war. He was pleased to see that his friend was getting sufficient rest before what promised to be a very busy day.

He observed with cool precision, analyzing the rhythm of his lover’s pulse and breathing. His mind, Obsidian Order trained, automatically estimated the amount of force it would take to break that fragile neck, to crush that slender throat, to put out the light in those dark eyes forever. He would not. He did not believe that he could, not anymore. But the calculations were nonetheless present, ingrained and impossible to silence.

He sighed faintly, wondering if the Doctor had any inkling of just how close to death he lay each night. More of an idea, certainly, after the conversation they’d had earlier this evening -- an argument, really, when the Human's tender heart had reacted with horror to the revelation of what his Cardassian friend was truly capable of. His anguish had been palpable, his anger righteous... and yet when they'd embraced his passion had been undiminished, and he had remained in the arms of an assassin afterwards, perfectly vulnerable in sleep, as trusting as a child — or as one beloved.

Not for the first time, he wondered if the young man was wiser than he seemed.

He listened to the Human breathe, and he stroked the pulse that throbbed gently under his thumb and let the scent of his friend’s hair momentarily fill his senses. Only the calculations remained aloof, but he redirected them to the back of his awareness. It was a trick he’d modified over the last several days to permit full engagement when they were thus intimate, a variation on an Order technique for directing and controlling one’s attention in order to be completely present in any given moment. It had always served him well in the savage heat of battle or the icy clarity of espionage; lately it had served equally and exquisitely well in the service of delight.

The warmth of the Human’s body was indeed delicious in the chill of this winter night. But more than that, the constellation of aspects that imbued that warmth with life — the mind, the heart, the soul of the man who’d become his closest friend in his exile — provided an entirely different kind of comfort. Garak almost snorted aloud. That he, a creature fashioned to be the living embodiment of pain and terror, should be reduced to this! Enabran Tain would have been so proud.

Only it did not feel like being reduced. Quite the opposite, in fact: it felt like being given a gift of wings and all the sky to soar in. Humans, with their usual facility for missing the point, described this sort of emotional event as “falling” in love. Perhaps one day in the near future, after they were back on the station and this brief span of days in each other’s arms was over, he and the good Doctor might argue the utility of that phrase over lunch, and none of the eyes around them would see the heat that shone between them, invisible and unspoken, and for that reason all the more true.

Lies were Garak’s lifeblood. He lived in a protective cloak of obfuscation, weaving a shining web that mesmerized and disarmed those who might seek to get close to him, laying down silver words like incendiary devices to injure and disarm his opponents. Those who underestimated him once seldom survived to do so twice. But Bashir... no, Bashir had not exactly underestimated him, except in moments like this, when he slept without care in the embrace of Death. Yet was there any power in the galaxy that could convince Garak to fulfill that function with this man now? On the contrary: he would kill for his friend, and gladly; he would die for him, if necessary; and he would take his own life before he’d be forced to place a single mark of true suffering upon that golden skin.

He was trained to look several steps ahead in everything that he did, so in these last few days he’d devised plans for their return to Deep Space Nine, ways to remove his friend to safety, or at least to throw the Order off his scent, if the leaders of the Cardassian Union determined that the station's Chief Medical Officer was a fit target for assassination. The realization that under the right circumstances he was prepared to choose this fragile mortal creature over the might and glory of Cardassia might have chilled a lesser man, or filled him with crippling doubt. To Garak it was largely a matter of practicality and priorities.

For Garak lied to everybody as a matter of principle, but never to himself, and now when he looked into the deepest reaches of his spirit he knew that he no longer walked alone. Viewing the universe through the crystal mirror of his intellect and detachment had kept him free of emotional entanglements all his life — until two and a half years ago, when this beautiful alien had appeared before him and slipped past his intricate defenses as effortlessly as cool spring rain penetrating the slightest fissure in grey stone, cracking it open bit by bit. He should have eliminated the threat, perhaps — it would have been possible to arrange a convincing accident, if not easy. But the instant he’d spoken with the boy and seen his charming naivete, his anxiousness to succeed and his eagerness to please, he’d been hooked as surely as ever he’d been addicted to the Order’s wire.

He certainly shouldn’t have responded to Bashir’s passionate but rather clumsy sexual overture in the attic above the inn stable seven days past. He should have made a joke of it, laughed it off, or better yet pretended that the Human had done nothing of erotic or emotional significance. It would have been such an easy lie to tell. But the touch of those lips on his neck ridges had riven him wide open at one stroke; all the little shimmers of cool water that had whispered into him over the years rose up in a flood of compulsion, and he’d chosen to follow the tide. Calculations had cascaded through his awareness even as his hands had finally savoured that lovely body, risk assessments and manipulative probabilities, but in the end it had come down to hot breath mingling with his and the sweetness of a shared sigh in the dark.

He’d lived among the shadows all his life, always their master, always a predator, and always alone. That was his essence and his past. The future lay along a different path, one whose permutations even he could anticipate only imperfectly, one whose dangers he was nonetheless determined to master. That was why he had told Bashir that when they returned to the station this relationship -- or at least this aspect of their relationship, for he'd never choose to abandon their friendship completely -- would be over. His recommendation had been accepted, albeit reluctantly, because of course he was right. In Federation space they were on opposite sides of a political divide: a dashing Starfleet officer and a Cardassian spy pretending to be an affable tailor. Simple common sense dictated that they maintain a prudent distance.

Life, however, seldom permitted one the luxury of being merely simple.

These last several days he had called Bashir “my love”, bestowing the words sparingly, as a gift. The brutal training of the Order had been designed to strip the ability to truly love from his personality, yet against all odds it seemed that something had survived, patiently waiting long decades to be awakened by a young man’s shy glance and tentative smile over a cup of Tarkalian tea — or a seductive bite in the depths of a winter’s night. How ironic, that he should have fallen prey to a snare so simple that in the case any other man he would have laughed it into scorn. How bitter his fall from the grace of splendid isolation! But in the end, oh, how inevitable this connection, a chain that he had accepted as completely as he’d once accepted the punishing strictures of the Order. A savage whisper of joy rose within him, a cry almost of despair, patterned on the words of Larec in his classic collection of poetry, The Fall From Shadows:

It flowers for one brief season, this fierce and secret beauty/And will never come again,/But memory, ah! the memory of these nights/Shall sustain our souls forever...

His train of thought was interrupted when Bashir frowned, shifting restlessly in his arms, although he didn’t seem close to awakening. His lips parted and he muttered something unintelligible in a blurred and anxious tone, turning his face closer against Garak’s shoulder. Without thinking he held the Human a little nearer, leaning close to whisper against the shell of that elegant ear, quoting Larec again from a Cardassian ballad a millennium old as he stroked gentle fingers into the short dark hair at the nape of his friend’s graceful neck:

“Hush, my a’latli, dearest heart... nothing shall touch you in the shadows, unless it be my hand... be at peace, my beloved, my jewel beyond price...”

Bashir’s troubled brow was smoothed by the silken flow of words. He slept on. And Garak contemplated his beauty in the darkness, reflecting upon how painfully little some things had changed in the course of a thousand years.
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October 2016

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