Garak knew he was walking into a trap, but he had no other choice. Well that wasn’t strictly true. He could choose to ignore the situation, to turn back the way he came and forget he’d ever been here, but he knew that was impossible. Garak was a lot of things, was skilled in the art of subterfuge first and foremost. But for all his lies and deception, one thing he never did was lie to himself, and he wasn’t about to begin now. Telling himself that he didn’t care, didn’t make it true. In fact, trying to deny that fact probably made it more real.
He didn’t care about the others; they were inconsequential. It was Bashir that was important, always Bashir. Even now years since they’d met, Garak still did not understand his fascination with a seemingly unimportant human doctor. But Bashir could hold his own against the most obstinate Cardassian, could give as good as he got, and seemed to take the same joy out of it as they did. The verbal banter, so often misinterpreted as heated arguments, was really just the Cardassian’s version of a friendly debate. Garak saw the enjoyment that lit up Bashir’s eyes during those occasions, and felt both an odd kinship to the human and a pang of homesickness.
No one had understood what was happening at first. People just began disappearing with no clue as to how it happened or where they might have gone. After the ninth, the panic set in, and people began blaming each other. It wasn’t long before accusations were turned his way as he was the only ‘dirty Cardie’ on the station, and people knew his past wasn’t exactly spotless. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard such allegations, and would not be the last, he knew, so they were easy to ignore especially when Security did not question him.
It wasn’t until Bashir disappeared that the reality of the situation hit Garak. He’d gone straight to the Chief of Security, but the man hadn’t been able to tell him anymore than he’d been able to tell everyone else. They knew nothing, had heard nothing. There was no demand for ransom, no way of knowing if they were alive or dead, and no way or knowing if there was a way to get them back.
When Garak finally returned to his room, he poured himself a drink and took a sip. Suddenly growling in frustration he hurled the glass against the wall, taking some small sense of satisfaction as it shattered. His comm suddenly beeped causing him to jump. Reaching to check it, he frowned at the words.
“Garak, my old friend. My, it has been a long time. Much too long, I say. We really must catch up. In fact, I insist.”
Garak puzzled over the familiar voice that met his ears. He knew it, but could not recall from where exactly.
“I’m surprised it took so long. I’m normally so much better at this. Who would have imagined that it would be a simple human doctor that managed to shatter your façade?”
Garak wracked his brain for possibilities. He knew he had enemies, lot of enemies in both high and low places that would love nothing better than to take him out if not for exile being a punishment crueler than any death to a Cardassian. They were a collectivistic culture not just by choice, but by necessity. It was a biological imperative. In humans and other races there were such oddities as loners and hermits. In Cardassians there were no such things.
“Aww, Garak. You don’t recognize me already? I’m hurt. Really I am. Maybe we need to jog your memory. Ten years, two hundred, twenty eight days, thirty nine minutes, and two seconds ago. Cardassia Prime. There was a party. A very special party.”
Garak delved through his memories, recalling the event. He remembered the party, another conquest party, in a long procession of other seemingly similar parities. But this one had been different. It was the appointment of a new council member, one full of youth and radically liberal. That made him very unpopular in certain circles, and he’d been tasked with getting rid of him. And he had with an untraceable, instantly fatal poison in the drink that he’d served the young man. Amidst the confusion and horror, he’d thought he’d slipped out unnoticed, but apparently not.
“Nassar was my baby brother, and you killed him without a second thought. It was surprisingly difficult to track you after you’d been exiled, but when I found you, I realized, I didn’t want your death to be quick and simple. That would be too merciful for one such as you. No, I want you to feel the pain I felt, the pain I still feel every day.” There was the sudden impact of flesh meeting flesh, followed by a cry of pain. “Say hello to Garak, Doctor.”
There was a harsh cough, then Bashir said, “Garak, don’t listen—” He cut off with a cry of pain.
“Now, now. That’s a bad boy. You’re supposed to beg him to come save you. I won’t be denied my fun. Now try again.”
Bashir whimpered. “Garak, please.”
Garak knew Bashir was a begging him to leave him, not come and rescue him, but this was one wish Garak could not comply with.
“Meet me at this location in one hour alone. Don’t be late, or you won’t like the consequences.” The communication suddenly ended and a set of coordinates appeared on the screen just long enough for Garak to remember then before they faded.
That brought him to his present situation, standing outside the door of the listed coordinates.
Pushing open the door carefully, he greeted the person standing in the center of the room.
“Garak, my my, I would say it’s a pleasure to see you again after all these years, but that would be a lie. Before we begin answer me this. What did it feel like killing your own brother? Was it easy? Did you care?”
“I do not have to justify myself to you. Nassar deserved what he got. I was doing what was best for our people.”
“Were you?" Twirling a knife between nibble fingers, his brother stepped to the side revealing a badly beaten Bashir with a gag firmly in place.
As Bashir’s eyes focused on Garak, he tried to shout against the gag and squirmed in his bonds. Even tortured, obviously beaten, he was not broken. Garak both cursed and admired that strength of will.
“I see what you like about this one. He is so like us. Yet so different. And he is so soft and fragile.” He stepped behind Bashir, and lightly wrapped his hands around his neck for a moment before squeezing.
Garak took a stop forward but froze as the knife was suddenly pressed against Bashir’s neck hard enough to draw blood.
“Now none of that. We have so much left to do. I’d hate to have to call an end to this prematurely.”
Garak suddenly smiled widely. A trap this may be, but he had never specified for whom.
“What are you grinning at? You think this is funny?”
Garak did not answer, just continued his rictus of amusement, never once breaking eye contact with Bashir.
But Garak did not comply.
With a shout, his brother suddenly rushed him, a move that he’d expected. But he wasn’t quick enough to dodge the blade as it sank into his flesh. There was a shout and a bang as the door slammed open, followed by yelling, but it was all so far away. As the trap finally sprang shut, and unconsciousness overtook him, all he saw for the ever-widening expanse of blue that were Bashir’s eyes and knew it was worth it.