A/N: What the...another DS9 story?! What's happening to me? Where is all this coming from?

Actually, I credit this newest spurt to SilverChrysanth. Having a new reader has really boosted my writing juices. They're on fire! Seriously. I've written three stories in two days (two of which are DS9 stories). This is like a record for me.


We regret to inform you…

Oh, he very much doubts that. Starfleet holds no love for Garak. Will they make use of his talents? But of course – that time with Sisko is all he needs to prove the case. But care about his feelings? Never.

A laugh escapes him, bitter in its loneliness. "You regret to inform me, do you? How…thoughtful."

He peruses his message pad again.

We regret to inform you, Julian Bashir has passed away.

What a quaint way of putting it.

Passed away.

As if Bashir has slipped onward to the human's stupid, starry heavens, at peace with the world and himself.

"But we know different, don't we?" Garak's eyes narrow.

When his informants on Terok Nor had leaked the intel to him a month ago, it had…concerned Garak.

0/0/0/0/0

"I do hope you aren't wasting my time again," Garak purrs, letting just a bit of subvocalization ease through.

The Cardassian before him flinches. "Of course not, sir. I have it the highest level of assurance."

"It? My, my, this must be important if you've classified at an 'it'." Garak walks to the side of his desk, and leans a hip on its edge. "Perhaps it will be as paramount as that drivel you gave me last time. A stray asteroid messing with the station's relay sensors, wasn't it?"

The Cardassian squirms.

Garak hardens his gaze. "I believe you told me that time that it was certain there were Dominion Spies attempting to infiltrate the solar system."

"I-I…" The male gasps. "Please, sir, I swear this is different.. I have it from Sisko's own records."

Garak relaxes his stance. "Go on."

"Doctor Bashir has been missing for two weeks." The male lowers his voice. "Sisko thinks it's Section 31's doing, but no one higher up is talking to him."

Garak nods. "You've done well."

He can see the question in the male's eyes. What interest does their First have with this human? Why care what happens to such an insignificant doctor? Garak almost smirks. He remembers being so naïve once, so ill-informed of the intrigues – that unfortunate state of affairs didn't last long, Garak made sure of it, by rising in the ranks quickly.

"You may go," he orders the male.

Once the Cardassian is gone, Garak sits down in his chair again.

So…Bashir is missing. How frustrating. He was a well of free information, not to mention a decent conversationalist. Garak enjoyed toying with him, making him react to outrageous statements.

Garak frowns.

And with Julian's enhancements at their disposal, the Section could pose a very serious threat to Cardassia.

0/0/0/0/0

Garak is convinced now that Section 31 has Bashir.

The chatter all but confirms it.

The clandestine order has recently closed its ranks. No one is allowed in, no one given any new intel. And, most important, all missions to Cardassia are suspended.

It's not 100%, but Garak thinks it sign enough to close his own ranks.

He glances at the remaining message on his pad.

We regret to inform you, Julian Bashir has passed away. As per his requests, we have forwarded his belongings and logs to you.

Short.

But Garak wonders if there is a warning in here as well. Section 31 boasting of their new asset, and advising Garak to stay away. A sort of 'leave this alone, or we'll be sending more than his logs to you'.

How curious.

A hot breeze caresses his cheek. Garak watches the clouds outside the window. "Sloppy, Doctor."

"But maybe I wanted you to know. To fear."

"Should I fear you?" Garak turns to face Bashir.

The man is thinner than he last remembers. A black look crosses the human's face. "Yes, you should."

"Then you are here to kill me."

"No."

Garak pauses in picking up his pen. "Oh?"

"To ask your…assistance." Bashir shivers. "I need to…disappear. On all radars. Can you do that?"

"Escaped the Section's leash, have you?"

"This isn't a game, Garak!" Bashir slams his fist against the table, denting it. "They want Caardassia gone. It's too dangerous to them."

That changes things.

"I don't suppose I could woo you over to The Order."

"No."

"Ah well. One must live with disappointments." Garak smiles. "But tell me, Doctor. Why should I help you? It would better behoove me to kill you."

Bashir's body goes taunt. "You wouldn't get the chance."

"How dark. Really, Doctor, one would think you mean that threat."

"I do." Bashir takes a breath. "I will not just let them win."

"The Eternal Optimist still."

"Opportunist." Bashir sends a dark smirk. "They want me to embrace my enhancements. Very well, I will."

"I do hope you will keep me informed." Garak pushes a few tabs, alerting some contacts of favors due.

"Of course. Haven't I always done well in that regard?"

Garak's stomach clenches.

Bashir's smirk grows, teeth showing now. "Don't overthink it, Elim. It'll keep you up at night."

It's the use of his first name that blares sirens in Garak mind. He scans the human. Has he so misjudged this man? Does Bashir, in fact, know more than he's let on? Who is he playing for? Starfleet? Bajor? Or someone else?

"So, you will help me?" Bashir presses.

Garak eases the tension in his shoulders. "Yes, though I must insist on a few lunches sometimes."

"I look forward to them."


Don't ask me why this one is also kind of dark. It just is. Hmmmm...maybe the next one will be lighter? Here's hoping! :D

Review?