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The Traitor

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"I have something for you," Tain said without preamble, which, in itself, was peculiar. Either the situation was urgent or Tain was eager. Neither prospect was particularly appealing. Garak straightened his back, and Tain smiled. "Follow me."

Tain led him to a nearby lift and ordered the computer to take them to sublevel two.

"I remember when the Order operated entirely out of a basement. The tirades Gul Norvei'il would have thrown had he lived to see the Order triumph again and again where Central Command has failed."

"Had you not had him killed," Garak said.

"Of course. But I'm sure the Order's success in destroying the Changeling homeworld would have killed him if I hadn't sent you after him first. He was always more interested in his personal matters than the greater good. That is the problem with soldiers, I think. They are, by necessity, ambitious and self-serving." The lift slowed to a stop and its doors slid open. "In the Order, such people are flushed out before they cause too much damage," he added before stepping out into the hallway.

Garak paused a moment before following. So, this surprise would be yet another test of his loyalty. He had thought they were through with that.

Just as well. He looked forward to proving himself loyal one last time.

Tain stopped before the door of the main interrogation chamber. He waited for Garak to catch up to him before opening the door. The overhead lights buzzed monotonously, only bright enough to make out the faint outline of a shadow slumped on a chair in the center of the room.

But Garak knew who it was immediately. The shoulders. The curved, fragile human neck. The long arms that dangled uselessly at his sides.

Garak was still in the doorway as Tain rounded the slumped figure and stood before it. "Did you know that he's become an associate of Starfleet's so-called rogue intelligence agency?"

"Has he? They must be desperate. He is hardly spy material."

"Section 31 is hardly spy material. They complement each other. Here." Tain held out a PADD and hypospray. Garak had to walk by the chair to retrieve it, which, of course, was Tain's intention. "I'll give you two weeks. After that, we extract his memory."

Garak blinked. "I was under the impression the method was ineffective on human minds."

"Less effective," Tain corrected. "You'll find more information in the PADD."

Garak glanced down at the PADD, suddenly anxious to learn more about this assignment. "Two weeks."

Tain nodded. "You will also find that Starfleet and Section 31 are only a few months away from accomplishing something that may be extremely detrimental to our situation. You understand the urgency."

"Of course," he paused. "But you must allow me to carry out this interrogation unhindered. This particular Human is... I may need to employ some unorthodox methods to break him."

"I look forward to your report," Tain said with a wicked grin. He watched Garak silently for a moment, then left him alone with the prisoner.


Something cold on his neck. Followed immediately by an oppressive heat. The air felt too thick to breathe, and he gagged on it. His head hurt, but he couldn't quite remember why.

"Doctor." A quiet voice, gentle. Familiar. He had to blink a few times before he realized that his eyes were already open, but the room was too dark to see.

"Where--" The word tore his throat, and he coughed.

Cool fingertips brushed the bruise on his jaw. "I'm afraid that Cardassia has thus far been inhospitable to you."

"Cardassia?" His eyes were adjusting to the darkness even as the mist around his mind thinned. He squinted until the blurred face in front of him sharpened. He smiled despite himself. "Garak."

"If you like, I could bring up the lighting a bit."

Bashir bobbed his head. "Might help. Disorientation."

Garak disappeared from his vision, then reappeared as the world around him brightened. He was a few meters away now, next to a desk set directly in front of Bashir.

Bashir drew a deep breath. His sides hurt, but nothing seemed to be broken. "What happened? I was at a... conference and..."

"I'm afraid you were abducted by the Obsidian Order, Doctor. You are now on Cardassia, awaiting interrogation."

"By the..." Bashir frowned, trying to force the words to make sense in his mind. "Did you...?"

"I didn't know you were here until a few minutes ago." Garak was still hovering by the desk. His expression was strange. Similar to the look he had when he was fighting off the pain of his implant. "I would not have allowed you to be beaten. Surely you know that."

"Is Odo dead?"

"Yes," Garak said, emotionless.

"Then I don't know anything about you, Garak." The words didn't come out as bitterly as he'd wanted them to. Just sad.

"You're right, of course."

"So." Bashir straightened his posture as well as he could. "Are you to be the one who interrogates me?"

"In time. For now, I will see that your wounds are attended to, and that you are given food and water."

Bashir faked a smile. "How kind."

"I urge you not to be stubborn when the time comes, Doctor. If you don't cooperate... I won't be able to protect you."

"I wouldn't ask you to."

Garak sighed, impatience flashing in his eyes. "There is a procedure that is used to extract information from traitors and enemy spies. When used on Cardassian, the pertinent memories are fairly easily found and taken. When used on a Human... All of the memories must be taken, then filtered through afterwards."

"So why don't you do the procedure now and get it over with?"

"Traditional interrogation is actually quicker than going through an entire lifetime of memories." Garak stepped forward, his eyes fixed on Bashir. "We can't put the memories back once they're extracted. Everything you are will be stripped from your mind, and you will never have it back. Tain wants to try this method first."

"And you? What do you want?"

Garak pressed his lips together. For a moment, he looked angry enough to lunge at Bashir, but he instead he simply walked by.

Bashir heard a door slide open somewhere behind him. "I don't want you destroyed, Doctor. Consider what it is you're protecting before you make your decision."

Bashir opened his mouth to speak, but the door slid shut again before he had the chance.


Garak didn't look up from his PADD when his door chime sounded. He hadn't particularly expected Tain to stay away, even if asked. He tapped his desk console, releasing his office door's locking mechanism.

"Well, I guess you are fixated on this job."

Not the voice Garak had expected, but he did his best to conceal his surprise. "Korinas," he said flatly, setting his PADD down.

"Don't let me stop you," she said even as she sat across from him. "I wouldn't want to break whatever concentration you've built up in these last five hours."

Had it been that long? Garak frowned. "What do you want?"

"What can I say? I'm naturally curious. Who is this human to you?"

"He was the chief medical officer on Deep Space Nine while I was there."

She rolled her eyes melodramatically. "Give me some credit. I know the official line. If that were all it was, you wouldn't be locked away in here, poring over Navac's reports on him. You gave him food, for pity's sake. You gave him water. You had his injuries attended to. I think that fool Madred has possessed you to have so much trouble with a Human."

An unfair assessment of both Garak's and Madred's abilities, but he let it pass. "You don't know him, Korinas." He picked up the PADD again. "If I had left him hungry and hurt, it would only strengthen his resolve."

"He is still Human. Humans will do anything to relieve pain and stress. I know he is some sort of genetically enhanced wonder, but he is still Human."

"It has nothing to do with his humanity. Or his enhancements. He has, I'm afraid, a strong set of ethics."

Korinas barked a laugh. "Ethics? That's what you're worried you can't breach?"

"He already believes me a traitor, and--"

"A traitor? To whom? The Federation?" She laughed again.

"He once said to me 'there's more to life than devotion to the state.' He considers friendship and individual freedom of primary importance."

"So, as with Humans, he would see an individual's life as more important than his state secrets," she said, as though it were simple. "If he won't respond to his own pain, threaten injury and death upon someone else. Perhaps that young Bajoran woman we have in holding. I doubt anyone would miss her."

"You misunderstand. To get any answer from him, he would have to think me an ally again. He would have to believe what I'm doing is right."

"What about Starfleet? Would he think that their creation of a biological weapon was right?"

Garak shook his head. "Which is precisely why I doubt he has any direct knowledge. If he knows anything at all, it will be seemingly innocent pieces of information. Of course, if I simply tell him that he must tell me everything he knows to avoid genocide, he won't believe me. Quite justly."

"Quite," Korinas said with a smirk. "How did you handle him on the station?"

Garak drew a slow breath and leaned back in his chair. He remembered the first time he'd met Bashir. The way the doctor had gazed at him with those impossibly large eyes, both excited and terrified. The way he started when Garak rested his hands on his shoulders.

He remembered, too, the infirmary. The warmth of Bashir's hand around his. He remembered the calm he felt when Bashir had blindly forgiven him.

Finally, he spoke. "He knew I was lying from the start, yet he believed everything I said. When I told him a story, even one that directly contradicted a story I'd told him before, he would listen intently, and he would believe it until I told him the next contradictory story. He didn't need to be handled." Garak paused, listening to the hush of fabric as Korinas crossed her legs, one over the other. "He thought me oppressed then, by my exile. Now, he will see me as an oppressor. As long as he sees me that way, no interrogation will be effective."

Korinas was quiet, absorbing the information. She leaned forward, resting her hands on the edge of his desk. "Garak, has it truly not occurred to you that you may need to lie to him to win his allegiance back?"

Garak blinked at her.

She laughed and shook her head. "Perhaps you should become an exile again." She stood. "It seems to suit you better."


"Tell me, Doctor. Why do you think you're here?"

It had only been a few days since he'd been in the chamber, sitting across from Garak. Garak had brought food and drink in every day, but after the first day, Bashir hadn't touched it. Garak never tried to force the issue. He simply left the food on the floor, next to the chair. Should you change your mind.

Garak sat behind his desk most of the time, resting his chin on his hands watching Bashir in silence as if he could intimidate the truth out of him with nothing but his gaze. Every so often, he would ask that one question, never giving Bashir any indication of how to answer it.

"I've told you."

Garak raised his eyeridges, waiting for an answer.

"I don't know," Bashir spat. "Why don't you tell me?"

Garak stood, suddenly, causing his chair to scrape the floor and nearly topple. "Doctor." His voice was tight, controlling an emotion. Bashir couldn't begin to guess which. "You must know that the Federation and Cardassian Union are on the brink of another war. One the Federation is not prepared for, especially with the Romulan Empire on our side."

"Of course I know that."

"You must know, also, that the Federation would be a great deal more stable with the threat of Cardassian aggression relieved."

Bashir pushed out a breath that was meant to be a laugh. "Garak. I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't you?" Garak rounded his desk and moved toward Bashir. Slow, calculated steps. "Then I suppose you don't know what Starfleet has done to make sure they find that relief."

"I'm a doctor. How would I know tactical information?"

Garak narrowed his eyes, staring at Bashir as if he were trying to see through his skull to the wall behind. "Stand up."

Bashir peered up at Garak, wondering if he had the strength to stand. As if sensing his thoughts, Garak extended a hand. Bashir took it, and Garak's strength pulled him to his feet.

"How closely are Section 31 and Starfleet affiliated?"

"Is... is that what this is about? Section 31?"

Garak's expression was cold, hard. "Answer my question."

"Section 31 exists independently of Starfleet. Starfleet is mounting an investigation into Section 31's activities to stop them."

"Gullible as ever, Doctor."

Bashir grit his teeth. Some part of this reminded him of their old discussions over lunch, but Garak hardly seemed like the same person who had been his friend. "Section 31 showed interest in me, not the other way around."

"Please," Garak said with the kind of patience an adult shows a child. "I know your fascination with clandestine organizations. That's why you kept our lunch appointments, wasn't it? Waiting for me to slip. Waiting for me to tell you some state secret."

"Perhaps at first, but that wasn't the only reason."

Garak drew a sharp breath, half closing his eyes as if he'd been stung. "Doctor, tell me, has Section 31 or Starfleet Medical asked you to perform any tasks?"

"I work for Starfleet Medical, Garak, of course--"

"Something specific. Viral. Engineered to target Cardassians. Anything like that, Doctor?"

Bashir stared at Garak. The Cardassian's grip was still tight around Bashir's wrist, and he could feel Garak's pulse thumping hard through his fingertips, its rhythm mixing with Bashir's, confusing it.

"Answer me." Garak's teeth glinted in the dim light.

"That's not how Starfleet operates, Garak. You know that."

The support of Garak's grip was suddenly gone, and Bashir hit the ground -- first his hip, then his shoulder. He reached for the chair to try to pull himself up, but Garak grabbed his wrist, pulling him forward. He was crouched on the floor with him now, his eyes fierce, but still as cold as before.

"Stop." Garak's voice was strained. "This isn't a game we play anymore, Doctor. Stop being so naïve. Stop being so self-righteous."

"Do you want to talk about self-righteous? When you are an agent of an order who would abduct innocent people in the night and--"

"Stop. I'm asking you, Doctor. Just tell me anything you know. Even if it seems innocent." Garak shook him. "Tell me."

Bashir stared at him, momentarily unable to speak. Garak's hands were gripping him so tightly that he was sure there would be bruises on his wrists in the morning.

"You can't fool me, Garak. You're trying to fight it, but you can't. Tain might beat it down again and again, and you might try to kill it to help yourself sleep at night, but it's still there."

"What are you talking about?"

"Your conscience," Bashir spat. "Your conscience, Garak. You know what you're doing is wrong, and it bothers you. You're desperate for me to answer you, but it's not to make Tain happy or to do your job. You just want this to be over."

Garak's face was a mask. He released Bashir's hands and stood. Bashir listened to his footsteps retreating.

"Do you think, at the end of this, I'll forgive you again?" Bashir asked.

The footsteps stopped. "Tomorrow, you will be taken to our doctors, and we will have your memories."

Bashir eased himself onto his side, wrapping his arms tight around himself. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to fall asleep. He was sure Garak had left until, only half-conscious, he heard his voice again.

"Come, Doctor. Perhaps you know me better than I thought."


Garak sat at the helm of the small spacecraft. He glanced at the sensors again, and they read that they were nearing the edge of Cardassian space. As he expected.

There was no turning back. Looking at viewscreens wouldn't change anything.

A sound. Behind him. His breath caught, and he had to remind himself to relax. It was only Bashir. "I didn't expect you to be awake so soon."

"Where are you taking me?" His voice sounded strange. No... It sounded normal, like it had when they first met. Curious, but without suspicion. The kind of voice Garak had not heard in years.

"You can see for yourself."

Bashir shuffled over to the comm station next to Garak. He had the blanket Garak had covered him with wrapped around his shoulders.

"You should eat," Garak said. "I wouldn't want your colleagues to think you were mistreated by the Cardassian government."

Bashir rolled his eyes, but he was smiling -- a sleepy version of that pointed smile of his. "It's good to see you again, Garak."

"I am not any less me than I have been for the last two weeks." Garak kept his eyes focused on the ship's controls. "You have no excuse to be smug."

"I'm not smug. I'm..." Bashir extended an arm out from under his blankets and pulled on the arm of Garak's chair until it swiveled enough that the faced each other. "What are you going to do after you take me home?"

"Hope that Tain decides to forgive me."

Bashir shook his head. "Don't lie to me. I know what this means. You're an exile again."

"Perhaps," Garak said quietly.

Bashir pulled his blanket tighter around his shoulders. The smile was gone. "How did Odo die?"

"Fighting. Whatever value that may have." Garak leaned back in his chair, resigned to looking Bashir in the eye. "He tried to escape after-- After his planet was destroyed, and he was shot. Apparently, he disintegrated." He paused. "I didn't do it, if that's what you want to know. "

"Part of it." His eyelids were heavy, his eyes out of focus. "Kira hasn't been the same since, you know... And people keep saying I've been easier to get along with, so I guess that means I haven't been the same either."

"I didn't realize you and Odo were so close."

Bashir shrugged "Not especially. I mean, I miss him. But he wasn't a good friend who simply decided to leave one day and not come back."

Garak drew a sharp breath. "Don't tell me you were surprised."

"I wasn't surprised. I was furious," he answered simply. "I didn't even know why I was so angry; I just was. I remember Miles said to me one time 'he's a Cardassian, Julian,' as if that explained everything."

"Doesn't it?"

"No."

Garak pressed his lips together, giving himself a moment. "That is why you will never understand me, Doctor."

"You've said that before -- that I don't understand you -- but I don't entirely believe that. I may not understand all of you, but I understand that part of you that you don't want to admit to."

"Please, don't lecture me on my conscience again." Garak tried to turn his chair back to his station, but Bashir caught it and turned him back.

"When the Cardassian and Romulan ships came back through that wormhole, and I knew you wouldn't be returning to the station, and everyone thought I was upset because I was naïve enough to think you wouldn't betray us. So did I, for a while. I kept wondering: when the hell did I let this Cardassian -- this tailor, this spy, this whatever -- mean so damned much to me?"

"What was your conclusion?"

"Because I know you want to be good. And you know that what you're doing isn't."

Garak kept his breath slow, calm, making sure that his expression was entirely blank. "I don't think--"

"And because I didn't realize until you were gone how much I depended on you," Bashir said, the words spoken quickly, so quietly Garak almost hadn't made sense of it.

Almost. "Doctor. I wish I could make you understand that not everything in this universe is as you are." He paused. "And I think you are overstating our previous relationship."

"You know that I'm not. Why else would you be doing this?"

Garak looked away. Again, his eyes fell on the sensor readings. Not far from Federation space.

"...Did they come in handy?" Bashir asked.

"What?"

"The chocolates."

Garak sighed and forced himself to look at Bashir again. "I'm doing this because you helped me once, even though I was more content to die than I have ever been."

"Thank you." Bashir was perched at the edge of his chair, leaning forward. Their knees were almost touching. "For telling me. And for saving me."

"You should get some rest."

"Was I imagining it?" Bashir asked. "I hadn't noticed at the time, but after you were gone I thought back on our conversations, and I thought... Do you have feelings for me?"

Garak cast his eyes down, allowing himself a sad smile. "Does that matter at this point?"

"You could live on the station again," Bashir said. "With me."

"The Major would kill me in my sleep."

Bashir leaned forward further. "Then we could live somewhere else."

"Doctor..." Garak shifted in his seat. Bashir was getting too close. "Don't make this more complicated than it is. Is it so easy for you to forgive what you call a betrayal?"

"This isn't about forgiveness. This is about spending the last three years realizing too damn late that I'm in love with you."

Garak flinched. Not the reaction he intended. "There was merely a harmless flirtation between us, Doctor. Perhaps the years have warped your view."

"If it was harmless, how did you break my heart?"

There should have been a snappy reply, but Garak couldn't speak. Bashir reached forward again, this time resting his hand on Garak's thigh.

"If you won't talk about the future," Bashir whispered. "Then, let's just forget the past too, for the moment. Let's just have right now."

"I can't do that," Garak said, keeping his voice even.

Bashir's eyes were fixed on Garak's, and he didn't say anything as he crawled forward onto Garak's lap. The chair was small and straight-backed, but somehow Bashir fit. Garak tried to steel himself against the contact as Bashir kissed his neck, but he could feel his body responding to a desire he thought he'd given up on.

He realized, suddenly, that the blanket was still lying in the chair Bashir had left behind, and that all he wore was the red shirt of a prisoner. As Bashir's mouth closed over his own in a wet, desperate kiss, all Garak could think of was tearing that shirt off of Bashir's body. Freeing him.

Garak turned his head away from Bashir. "We shouldn't do this. Not now."

"When?"

"I don't know," Garak said. "Years ago."

Bashir furrowed his brow. "That's not good enough."

"Perhaps not, but--"

Bashir's teeth sank into the ridge of his neck. Garak gasped, instinctively pushing his hips against the surprising warmth of Bashir's body.

"Don't, Doctor," he managed to whisper. "You will regret this."

"Let me worry about that. Later."

Garak closed his eyes, drawing a slow breath. Bashir was unfastening Garak's pants now, one impatient hand sliding down the to touch him as the other worked.

This wasn't what was supposed to happen, but somehow this underfed, naïve little human had made him powerless.

Maybe Bashir was right. Maybe it was worth facing their regrets tomorrow if it meant they could live in the present for one night -- only one out a thousand other nights they hadn't and would never have.

But Garak doubted it. Even as every idiotic fantasy he'd allowed himself while in exile came true. He knew it wasn't enough.


Bashir woke feeling rested for the first time since he'd left the station for that damned conference. Where was he? A small room? No... The back of a shuttle. And he wasn't alone. He smiled drowsily up at Garak, who still lay on his side next to him, watching him.

"Didn't you sleep at all?"

"No." Garak's expression was strange, like the skin was pulled tight around his eyes.

Bashir stretched as well as he could on the small bunk. "Why are you so serious? It's too early to be serious."

"I need to know something, Doctor."

"Only if you call me Julian," Bashir said.

Garak's eyes flicked away. Irritation? "Were you telling the truth?"

"When?"

"In the interrogation chamber. If there's anything you know, you have to tell me. I can not have betrayed my government just to give Starfleet a window to kill my people."

Bashir propped his head up on the heel of his palm. His stomach was tightening, and he wasn't sure why. Did the shuttle seem smaller than it was? "Garak, you know I would've told you if I knew anything."

"Of course, I never thought you were involved, Doct--." Garak lowered his voice. "Julian. But if there is anything at all, I must know. Even if I am an exile, I have to protect my people."

"Like I said," Bashir said, speaking slowly. "Starfleet does not operate that way. I doubt that even Section 31 would commit genocide. We aren't even at war."

Garak sat up suddenly, knocking Bashir back against the wall. He sat on the edge of the bunk, gripping the mattress.

"What's wrong with you? You sound like..." Bashir's stomach twisted again. He was silent for a moment, listening for the buzzing of the ship, trying to feel the corresponding vibrations. "This isn't right."

Garak didn't move. Bashir slid over until he could sit next to Garak. See his face.

"Tell me what's going on, Garak."

"Anything, Julian. It doesn't have to be big. Just tell me something." Garak's gaze were fixed forward, not really looking at anything.

"Your pulse is up," Bashir whispered. "Your skin clammy. You're afraid of something. Or... suffering extreme stress."

Garak looked at Bashir. There was something frightening in his eyes. "Can't you just do what I ask for once? Has anyone asked you for information on anything? Have you noticed an increase or decrease in the stock of any suspicious substances? Anything."

Bashir felt dizzy, a wave of nausea hitting the back of his throat. His fingertips were numb when he reached down for Garak's discarded shoe. He held it for a moment, looking at the meticulous stitching and soft, smooth material.

"Just give me something." Garak's voice seemed muffled. "Please."

With a sudden, simple movement, Bashir threw the shoe. It hit an invisible barrier only a few meters away and fell to the floor.

"What is this? Some kind of holosuite?" Bashir laughed weakly. "I thought you meant it. I'm the fool you always took me for, aren't I?"

"That wasn't part of the plan, Doctor. I apologize."

"You're not forgiven, tailor," Bashir spat.

Garak stood and walked forward, scooping up the shoe Bashir had thrown. He nodded. For a moment, Bashir thought Garak was nodding at him, but the room faded away to the simple dark grid of the holoprojectors and the door slid open, and Bashir realized that he'd been nodding for the guards.

"Take him to the infirmary," Garak said.

Bashir didn't fight when the two large Cardassians grabbed his arms and dragged him away.


"I was beginning to think that you wouldn't show," Tain said cheerfully as he poured a second glass of kanar for Garak. "The operation was a success. No permanent damage to the patient aside from the memory loss. Of course, it will take a number of man hours to find the information we're looking for. If it's there."

Garak took the kanar when it was offered and drained the glass too quickly. His throat burned and his head spun, but he filled the glass again.

"That was an... interesting technique. I'm sure a more traditional method wouldn't have been more effective."

"I pushed him too hard at the end," Garak said.

Tain nodded. "A mistake anyone could have made. I was shocked that he didn't take the bait immediately myself."

Garak turned the kanar in his glass, watching it leave a trail of murky brown behind it as it slid along the smooth surface. "You're generous today."

"This has been quite a success for the Order, Elim."

Garak raised an eyeridge. "How so?"

"When he's recovered from this procedure, he will undergo a new -- and rather radical -- cosmetic procedure. When it's finished, he will appear Cardassian even to the most thorough scan."

"You're not sending him back," Garak said in a low voice.

Tain laughed. "Do you think I'd throw away such an opportunity? He may be a Human, but his genetic enhancement is some of the best anyone has seen. And without many psychological side-effects. He will be an extremely useful agent."

"This is what you planned, isn't it?" Garak gripped his glass, not able to look Tain in the eye. "There is no Starfleet virus."

"Elim." Tain rested a hand on Garak's shoulder. "This one got to you, but you did the right thing. I'm proud of you."

Garak swallowed, then straightened his back. "I'd like to see him."

Tain smiled and nodded. "Go ahead. He's just in there. I'm afraid he isn't very coherent."

Garak set his kanar down, next to the long, twisted bottle it had been birthed from, and walked through the infirmary doors.

It was a small room, adjacent to Tain's lower office. Only used for this kind of information extraction, which Tain had been relying on more and more in favor of traditional interrogation since he fell in with the Romulans. Garak despised the procedure himself, but he didn't voice his opinion. He knew it wasn't wanted.

Bashir was strapped onto a bed, as if he were dangerous to anyone. He was awake -- or, at least, his eyes were open, staring at the ceiling above. He barely reacted when Garak stood next to him and rested a hand on his forearm.

"Doctor," Garak said softly.

Bashir looked up at him, startled. He seemed to be responding more to the sound than the word itself.

Garak leaned down, close to Bashir's ear. "For what it's worth, I do wish I were what you wanted me to be."

Bashir stared, unable to understand what Garak was saying to him. Garak's heart clenched, but he forced himself to smile. Bashir smiled back. Innocent and trusting as ever.

"I never meant to break your heart," Garak said quietly, and he left Bashir to the doctors and to the fate Tain had shaped for him.