.The End and The Beginning.
Julian looked unseeingly out the shuttle window. Far and distant stars streaked by as it flew farther and farther away from Deep Space Nine. His mind was already on his destination that was light years away; Cardassia Prime. Garak’s home world.
So much had changed in the last few months. All his fellow officers, his friends really, had moved on.
Whether it was moving up in rank, new assignments or travelling back to their respective home worlds after the Dominion War everyone else on DS9 had known exactly what their next step was. All the while Julian had been left behind treading water.
But maybe that wasn’t entirely true. Julian had known immediately what he wanted to do, it had just taken longer than he would have liked to get up the courage to do it.
The frater that was taking him to Cardassia was small and filled to the brim with relief supplies complete with a few volunteer workers of various species. This was one of many relief ships continuously making its way back and forth from the devastated planet. While every little bit did help from what Julian had heard it was still not nearly enough. Because of Cardassia’s less than stellar reputation both from before and after the war not many people had been willing to make the trip. If rumors were to be believed qualified workers are something Cardassia is seriously lacking in some very important areas.
Starfleet itself had not been invited to help, Cardassia made it very clear that they did not want the Federation on their planet. So Julian had used six months of his shore leave so they would accept his application to join the Neutral Volunteers Union. Technically for the next six months Dr Julian Bashir was not a member of Starfleet. It was a technicality but so far it had worked and nobody has questioned it; or maybe they were just so desperate for doctors that they simply chose to overlook it completely.
Now finally, finally he was on his way. Really there was no other place in the entire universe he wanted to go. Whatever happened next Julian needed closure. He needed to know that Garak was ok; that he was surviving. It was a worry that had become harder and harder to ignore. Ever since the end of the Dominion War Julian had been left with a reoccurring dream; a memory really. It might be easier to live with if he knew it wasn’t real.
Garak was standing alone and lost in the ruins of what had been his great Cardassia. His beloved home destroyed in one final act of petty aggression at the end of the war. Every night Julian relived that moment. And every night he felt as useless and helpless as he did on that day.
So despite everything, using up his hard earned leave, ignoring the dangers and xenophobia he would likely be faced with, Julian was on his way to Cardassia Prime. And while he had told anyone who asked that he was going for purely humanitarian reasons (and he was going to do everything in his power to help the people of Cardassia) the truth was far more self-serving.
He had to see Garak again; even if it was only for a moment. That would be enough surely? Once he knew Garak was ok he could move on. Julian could put all his silly fantasies finally to rest and get on with his life. He would find a new Starfleet posting somewhere exciting and challenging and put all of his exceptional talent back into his profession as a doctor. It was all he had ever strived for. Promotions and acclaimed for his exceptional work. It was all he had ever wanted, wasn’t it?
Julian couldn’t stop himself from frowning. He had always had clear objectives in his life but the war had left him with a bitterness that he couldn’t quite shake. Things were no longer so black and white and problems were not so easily wrapped up in nice neat boxes of good and evil. Life wasn’t like that and he had learned some hard lessons over the last few years.
He mentally shook himself. Find Garak and help the people of Cardassia. That was his focus for the next six months. After that life would return to normal and things would be clearer again he was sure of it.