DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Star Trek:Deep Space Nine and its characters are copyright Paramount and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan 1998.
Author's notes: This story is set pre War arc.
Many thanks to Terrie Drummonds for her help in making this story better than it started out.
by Karen Colohan (copyright January 1998)
"And I find it kind of funny I find it kind of sad The dreams in which I'm dying Are the best I've ever had." - from "Mad World" by Tears for Fears
"Computer, lights, forty percent!"
I can hear the edge of urgency in my own voice as I harshly bark out the command. Of course, the station's computer is oblivious to my unease as it obediently complies with the request, raising the level of illumination in my room. Able to see now into the furthest corners of my quarters I push myself up in bed, ignoring the disordered sheets as they fall into a tangled mess about my waist. I find myself blinking rapidly as my eyes adjust to the sudden brightness. It is always unnerving to be woken so abruptly and my chest rises and falls with my sharp, ragged breathing. Still, you would think by now I would be accustomed to having my rest disturbed by...
Was - someone here? I scan the small room, avidly searching for evidence of another's presence. My visual inspection reveals no trace - surely I did not really believe it would be otherwise? I am quite alone... As always. That realisation allows me to slowly start to relax and the growing calmness permits me to reflect on precisely what it was that woke me...
Only another dream then - how foolish of me to believe, even for a moment, that it might be otherwise when - like all the dreams before - it ended with my death... and yet here I am, manifestly alive! Then again, perhaps the gods in their wisdom have chosen to punish me for my sins thus. They condemn me to live out this exile, alone, for all eternity, taunting me with dreams of peace. My, how cynical you have become, dear Elim! But who is to say that you would not deserve such a fate?
Such foolishness! I find myself laughing out loud, the sound echoing, mocking me as it breaks the silence in this lonely room. Yes, such thoughts are definitely the product of an old, tired mind. Certainly it was simply a bad dream - probably the result of drinking too much kanaar before retiring!
And yet it seems that I have been dreaming far too often of late. Each time with the same outcome as well. I wake, as I did tonight, shaking like a frightened child, at the very moment of my demise. It is - unsettling to say the least. But for all that, would I have the dreams stop? No, of course not - if I'm honest with myself I even welcome them!
Yes, it's true, because when I dream of dying, whatever the cause, you are always there with me. You sit at my side, holding me, tending me... and as you share those final moments with me you say the words I wish I could hear from you in real life, my dear doctor. You tell me how much you need me and that you love me. You beg me not to go on and leave you behind alone. Ah, what I would give to hear you speak thus outside the realm of my dreams...
Is such a situation really what it would take for you to declare yourself, doctor? Are you afraid to say to a man who is very much alive what you might confide to one on the verge of death? Or, as seems more likely to be true, is this all merely wishful thinking on my part? To imagine that you could ever feel for me what I have long felt for you... Do you? Is it possible that somewhere, deep in your heart, you long as I do for our friendship to be more than it is?
Ah, those hours we have spent together over our meals. How I have hoarded the memory of every one, jealously guarding them against the possibilty of forgetfulness. And even more precious to me, the recollection of your hand clasping mine as I lay in the Infirmary with my implant gone mad. Again, you believed I was dying and so took your own life in your hands to confront Tain and find a means to save me. Your actions were those of more than a friend... Yet afterwards all was as it had been before. When you touched me it was simply as a doctor tending his patient, nothing more. I don't understand...
Are you afraid of the consequences of loving me, dear doctor? Do you feel such a relationship would harm your career? I suppose there are those narrow-minded enough to make that a valid concern. Or worse, do you believe I would hurt you physically, seeking only my own gratification? I pray that you do not think that of me, for I would never do such a thing, doctor. I would love you as you deserve to be loved - with my whole body and my heart. And there has never been another I could make that promise to. How can I show you this though? How can I discover if you could ever love me in return? What futile speculation...
A deep sigh escapes me and I glance at the chronometer to see that morning has crept up on me unawares. With impatient hands I untangle myself from the wreck of my bed and hurry to shower and dress. At this rate I'll never have the shop open on time! I may now be in truth just a plain and simple tailor, but I still have certain standards to maintain.
A soft touch, cool against fevered skin - Garak hovered on the edge of consciousness, reluctant to give up the pleasant sensation. Once he opened his eyes the dream would fade and be lost as all the previous ones had been. No, he would cling to the last vestiges of sleep for as long as possible, revelling in the fantasy of Julian Bashir's slender hand gently cradling his cheek; his fingertips lightly caressing an eye ridge.
"Garak? Garak, are you awake?"
No. He was asleep. He wasn't ready to wake yet. Why was that insistent voice invading his dream? He was still so tired. The weariness was palpable - a cloying sensation that pervaded his limbs and left them feeling so heavy. It almost felt as if he were drowning...
"Garak, please open your eyes. Can you hear me?"
What a foolish question! Of course he could hear and he recognised the speaker now. In these dreams he always heard the doctor's gentle voice, its cultured tones adding an even greater poignancy to the whispered words of love and regret...
"Damn! He's still not responding. Let's try another two c.c.s. Pass me that hypospray please."
What? That wasn't the way it should be! Such prosaic matters had never intruded on these dreams before. They always began after all the doctor's heroic efforts to find a cure had failed and there was nothing more to do but wait for the inevitable and reflect on might-have-beens. They dealt with unspoken love and unfulfilled passion, not medical matters and ...
The cool sensation of a hypospray discharging its contents into his bloodstream finally pulled Garak out of the miasma which had fogged his brain. A moment later the soft whirring of a tricorder sounded close by his ear and he blinked in confusion. Why were the lights so bright? He didn't remember having called them up at all. As his eyes slowly focused Garak found himself in a waking dream. Hovering over him, with a medical tricorder clutched in his hands and his face a study in concern, was Julian Bashir.
"Doctor?" Garak was startled to hear how weak and unsteady his voice sounded. He glanced curiously at his surroundings. It appeared he was in the Infirmary, but how...?
"Garak, thank goodness! Welcome back," added Bashir, a relieved smile spreading across his face. He turned to the nurse who had been waiting patiently at his side. "Thank you, Jeryn, I can handle things from here."
She nodded briskly and headed back out into the main section of the Infirmary. Bashir turned back to cast a considering eye over his still obviously confused patient. There was a mute appeal in the Cardassian's gaze as he looked up at the doctor.
"Do you remember anything at all about the last three days?" Bashir asked softly.
Garak frowned in concentration. The last thing he recalled was opening his shop. Surely that had been this morning though... He struggled to remember - had Bashir said three days? Did that mean he had been in the Infirmary that long? The Cardassian did not want to believe that there was such a large gap in his memories. However, eventually, frustrated by his inability to recall anything further Garak shook his head.
"Doctor, I have absolutely no recollection of how I came to be here in the Infirmary. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me." The tailor did his best to sound like his normal, brisk self. He did not want to reveal to Bashir just how much the apparent loss of memory troubled him. The parallels with his recent dreams also disconcerted him. Had they been a warning of sorts, signalling his impending illness?
"Hm, if you really can't remember anything beyond going to your shop then I suppose I must begin at the beginning." Bashir gave Garak a slight, reassuring smile. He sensed that the Cardassian was not taking the news of the extent of his illness as well as he appeared to be. The doctor knew how much Garak hated not being in control of a situation. So he could imagine how unnerving it must be for him to discover he had no memory at all of three entire days.
"Well," Bashir began, "I got a call here in the Infirmary from one of your customers. She was most distressed. Apparently you'd been conducting a fitting quite normally when you suddenly collapsed on the floor of the dressing room and lost consciousness. We brought you here and I began running a whole series of tests. Unfortunately, nothing in the database explained the results I was getting. You remained unconscious and began running an incredibly high temperature. A human would never have survived such a fever, but it seems Cardassians are made of sterner stuff. Anyway, I was able to manage the fever, but I still couldn't find a match anywhere for the pathogens in your system..."
"Nevertheless, it appears you were able to work one of your miracles, doctor, and find a cure in the end," interrupted Garak. He flashed a disarmingly bright smile at the human. To have Bashir at his bedside, but speaking only of medical matters was too much of a torment for the Cardassian in his weakened state. He might not be able to recall the days of his illness, but the dreams which had preceded it kept coming back to haunt him vividly. If only the doctor would reach out, take his hand...
"Actually," admitted Bashir slowly, "it's not really me, but Ziyal you have to thank for your cure. She came to visit you and recognised the symptoms. Apparently it was the adult variant of one of the Cardassian childhood diseases. There were no details on it at all in the old medical records I had, but Ziyal was able to tell me which drugs are usually used on Cardassia to treat the condition. I cross-matched them with the nearest human equivalents and then it was just a case of finding the correct dosage."
"Ah, so 'all's well that ends well' then, as your human expression goes," observed Garak with false cheerfulness. "I must be sure to thank Ziyal next time I lunch with her. Now, doctor," he added, "I'm sure you must have other patients far more deserving of your attention than I."
Bashir's expression showed distinct signs of unhappiness at the Cardassian's offhandedness.
"Garak, do you have any idea how close you came to dying?" The sombreness of the young doctor's gaze and the seriousness of his tone made the tailor look up at him sharply.
"Surely you are overstating the case," Garak asserted. He attempted to dispel Bashir's grave mood, essaying a bright smile.
"No, I'm not." Bashir perched himself on the edge of the bed, leaning close to Garak. His hazel eyes pinned the Cardassian with their intent stare. Garak swallowed uneasily.
"Please, just hear me out, Garak," insisted the doctor. "This is important."
Unaccountably Garak's heart had begun to beat faster. Was he dreaming again? The look in Bashir's eyes was... Garak almost cried out in shock as the doctor reached down and took one of the tailor's broad, grey-skinned hands between his own. Bashir stared at their intertwined fingers for a long moment, not speaking. Garak dared not make a sound for fear of breaking the spell. When the doctor's gaze finally locked with his own again the Cardassian could no longer be in any doubt of what he saw in the depths of those velvet pools. Doubtless a similar expression was reflected in his own clear blue eyes.
"I thought I was going to lose you!" Bashir's words were quietly, but passionately spoken. "Garak, do you have the faintest idea how that made me feel? How worried I was?"
Garak allowed the affection he felt for Bashir to shine from his eyes and warm the tone of his voice as he replied, invitingly. "Why don't you tell me, my dear doctor..."
It seemed that, after all, dreams did sometimes come true.
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