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 1996.

WARNING: This story carries a severe downer warning. If you do not wish to be depressed do not proceed! Consider yourself warned!!!!

GOODBYE IS FOREVER

by Karen Colohan (copyright April 1996)

Garak. Julian Bashir's mind repeated the name over and over again like a mantra; a litany of all the grief and pain he had ever experienced in his life. He could think of nothing else - his brain seemingly as paralysed as his body appeared to be. He could not have moved to save his own life in that moment. Vaguely Julian was aware of movement around him, the sound of voices marking the presence of other people. A hand roughly caught at his arm, but the doctor did not truly register the touch. His entire being was still focussed on one thing and one thing only. Garak - and the fact that he would never see the Cardassian alive again.

Whatever other reasons Julian could have constructed to account for an ending to his relationship with Garak this precise eventuality had never crossed his mind. If anything the recent political changes had led Julian to assume Cardassia's reach had been diminished and that the existence of the lone exile on Deep Space Nine would be of less importance than before. How wrong he had been. It was no comfort at all to know that the tailor's paranoia about leaving the station, which he had so casually derided, had finally been proved to be justified.

Was this my fault? Julian knew rationally that such speculation was pointless, a painful exercise in futility. Would second-guessing himself bring Garak back? Of course not. But you were the one who insisted on taking these little holidays away from the safety of DS9...

Julian shook his head, trying to push away the accusatory voice of his conscience. He squeezed his eyes shut, fighting back the tears which suddenly threatened to escape his control. No. He wouldn't break down here - not in front of these people. He wouldn't give them that satisfaction. His grieving would be done later, in private, when he was a long way away from this hell-hole. With an effort the young doctor pulled himself together, straightening up determinedly. He looked around him at the unfriendly Cardassian faces circling him, his own expression hard and unforgiving.
Julian watches over Garak "You promised me a few minutes alone here," Julian said harshly in a voice like ice that none of his friends or colleagues back on the station would have recognised. "I'll thank you to honour that promise."

The doctor heard the whispers amongst the Tribunal members and then with scant nods of acknowledgement they withdrew one by one. Finally Julian was alone with the empty shell which had once housed the living soul of his closest friend, his lover, his beloved Elim.

Click for full size illustration

Death in itself was nothing new to the doctor, but this was different from anything he had experienced in the past. None of those losses had been so - personal. Julian was young enough not to have felt the loss of one so close, so cherished before. He felt as if he had been bodily torn apart and some vital, living part of himself ripped from him.

With trembling fingers Julian reached out to brush the smooth, grey skin of Garak's cheek, now quite cool under his tentative touch. Were it not for that uncharacteristic coldness the doctor might even have believed his lover to be only sleeping peacefully. Slowly, delicately he traced all the familiar ridges and contours of the motionless face, fixing them indelibly in his memory before they were lost to him forever.

Julian knew that he was weeping, that the desperately fought battle for composure had finally been lost. His anger at the Cardassians and his stubbornly held belief that somehow Garak would find a way out of this situation had carried him this far. Through the deliberately short legal proceedings he had told himself that some old contact of Garak's would suddenly appear and have the charges dismissed. Right up until the nightmare moment of the execution itself Julian had, at least in part, denied the reality of what was happening - and then it had all become abruptly, terrifyingly real. He would never forget those last few seconds as long as he lived Julian knew. They would haunt him forever.

Garak had tried to spare him the pain of it all. From the moment their runabout had been boarded by a vindictive Cardassian patrol the tailor had known the seriousness of his situation and done everything in his power to send Julian away. The Cardassians had no interest in the Federation doctor and had been perfectly willing to release him, but he had adamantly refused to leave, insisting on accompanying Garak back to Cardassia Prime.

With casual indifference his presence had been accepted and so he had attended the farcical legal hearing which had condemned Garak to death for breaking the terms of his exile. It was a nonsense - and everyone involved knew it. Though close to the Cardassian border the runabout had clearly been in Federation territory when boarded. In his innocence Julian had believed he would have time to contact DS9 and enlist Captain Sisko's help, but the new Cardassian government had seen a way of ridding itself of one of the last remaining members of the former Obsidian Order power structure and seized it with both hands. The speed of the proceedings left Julian with no chance to involve his superiors on the station at all.

When Julian had offered to try and intercede on Garak's behalf himself the tailor had mocked his naivety. The Cardassians would not listen to the truth Garak had assured him - they simply did not want to hear it. Julian had refused to believe him at first, but as his repeated protests that the runabout had remained in Federation space at all times fell on deaf ears he slowly began to accept that Garak knew his countrymen far better than he did. So preparations for the execution had continued apace and it was scheduled for the following morning.

The only concession that the doctor had been able to win was that Garak should be housed in a comfortable room, not a prison cell, and that Julian should be allowed to stay with him undisturbed. The human was quite aware of the lewd amusement his request was met with, but it was granted. Garak had been angry when he discovered what Julian had done and had tried once more to force the young doctor to leave. He had been cold and hostile. He had thrown the most hurtful words he could think of at Julian, deriding him for a fool to believe that the tailor wanted his company.

It hadn't worked. The human knew his friend too well now and saw through the stubborn pride that made Garak seek to push him away. His efforts were met with an understanding smile as Julian resolutely stayed by his side. In the end the tailor had given up the pretence, faced as he was with the doctor's steadfast refusal to allow his lover to die alone and friendless. The young man's love had warmed Garak's aching heart and he had been in the end more grateful than he could say for Julian's vital presence during that final night.

They had made full use of the privacy the doctor had won for them. Neither of them had wanted to sleep, nor had lovemaking been much on their minds. The sense of impending loss and the feeling of helplessness as the time inexorably ticked away made their one union brief, painful and intensely bittersweet to both of them. Instead they had passed the night wrapped tightly in one another's arms, savouring the closeness and talking constantly. Garak had finally entrusted Julian with all the secrets of his past and in return the doctor had offered up stories of his childhood and of his years at Starfleet Medical.

Morning had come far too soon and Julian had been left with no choice but to dress and leave, knowing full well that he would not see Garak again until the execution. They had shared another long, probing kiss and from somewhere the doctor had found his brightest, warmest smile for the tailor. Garak had managed to respond with one of his trademark grins, sly and teasing, although inside his heart felt like ice.

Julian did not want to remember the execution itself, but the images were forever etched in his memory. The barely concealed expressions of triumph on the faces of the Tribunal had sickened him. The doctor had been determined to show no emotion, no pain in front of these people, but his resolve had been sorely tested when Garak was led into the room. The tailor was naked, his hands held firmly in restraints. He had been stripped of everything but the quiet dignity he wore like a cloak. He had stood impassively, refusing to seek out the comfort of Julian's face as the charges and the sentence were read out.

Only at the end, as Garak was strapped to the low bench which was to be his death bed did his resolve to spare the doctor further pain falter. His clear, blue eyes met Julian's for a long moment, bidding him a silent farewell. All the love he felt for the young man was there in that glance and Julian's hazel eyes returned the affection in full measure. After that it was a matter of a few minutes only until the tailor's soul fled his body, leaving Julian alone and anguished in his grief.

The doctor's thoughts came full circle and he looked down one final time at his lover. He bent to place a single kiss on the cold, unresponsive lips, tasting the salt of his own tears. Julian straightened, holding his head up determinedly. Garak was gone, but he would never forget.

"Goodbye, Elim - my love, my heart," he whispered softly. Then Julian turned and walked away without looking back again.

THE END

Return to Yavanna's Realm archive

Artwork copyright BGM, originally used in the zine "Doctor, Tailor, Officer, Spy"