A/N: Yes, I know, I should be working on any one of my other stories. But this fandom is one of the easiest and most fun for me. So, when the DS9 muse comes a-knockin', I pretty much drop everything.
Hope you enjoy it. Shouldn't need a higher rating than T (and even then I don't think it need to be that high).
Gift For: my friend, summerartist. Just because.
This is a world where the vilest creatures come to roost. Even the Klingons, brave as they are, don't utter its name – for to say it is to give it power over you. This is a world where the snow falls black, where the ashen ground comes to life at your feet, where the trees are built from the bones of the dead. It's the depths of misery, of horror, and Garak relishes in the perversion.
Decay hangs heavy on the air. Each breath tastes of rot and ash, yet somehow also of sunlight and fresh grass. Garak's lips twitch up at the paradox. How fitting that a planet such as this would never conform to standard expectations.
He rolls his shoulders to loosen the tense muscles of his back.
Before him, the grey waters ripple and gargle as its mistress emerges.
Adorned in crimson silk, her sleeveless gown reaches to her bare ankles. It accentuates every flawless curve as she glides forward. As she nears, the water rises so she may sit on its rolling waves. Again, the paradox amuses Garak. She sits as if the water were unmoving, yet the waves roll up under her, and slide up on the shore.
"We welcome you, stranger," the red-haired siren says. She dips her fingers into the misting waters, her eyes sparkling with untold glee. "What is your desire?"
Interesting choice of word.
He's sure many a poor fool has fallen for her benevolent speech and guileless features.
Garak admires the quick wit on this fae, even as he takes note to watch her every move. "I desire nothing, fair one. I do, however, have need of something."
He, too, selects his words carefully. So many little nuances can insult these people; where a slight is granted a slow, painful death. If not outright slavery. Again, Garak relishes in the small thrill of it. He does so love to play the game.
So, with a tailor's soft touch, he weaves his own web of lies, and opts for the word 'need'. It will serve his purposes nicely, drawing upon the fae's innate greed.
"Need," the siren says. She drifts a little closer to the land. "A heavy price to pay is attached to need."
"As is only right."
She smiles, and all the innocence of childhood blossoms on her pale cheeks.
"Is payment given before or after my request?" he asks.
She titters daintily. "After, of course."
He nods. "Very well."
"So, tell us, Cardassian, what need have you today?" she plays with a lock of her fiery hair.
Her sea-weed colored eyes widen. "My, your want is great."
"Indeed, fair one. I would not ask it otherwise."
"You have studied well," she tells him.
He bows a little at the half compliment, half warning.
"How did you learn?" she asks, her tone flippantly careless.
But it's not an innocent question.
He's made her wary, cautious. Garak stifles a grin. Just what he wants. He must impress upon these fae just how dangerous he can be to them, but without encouraging them to kill him. It will enable smoother dealings in the future – for the fae value knowledge and strength above all else.
"Oh," he says, just as carelessly, "you might be surprised what people will say, when you work as I do."
The harsh rage of the ocean swells in her eyes. For a moment, Garak worries he's strayed too far from the script. But, just as quick as the sea fickle nature, her anger leaves. Mirth dances across her ageless features.
"Clever, mortal." She waves a hand over the stilled waters beneath her bare feet. "I shall grant your wish."
"My thanks, great one." His fingers twitch. "And the price?"
"Price, always worried about price, you mortals are," she complains sharply.
In a farcical way, her attitude makes complete sense. The fae live centuries, eons. To them, the short-lived consequences of their mortal allies are but an insignificant price to pay. Not when the fae give them such wondrous gifts in return.
"My apologies, my lady." Garak bows. "Your –"
"Oh, enough," she interrupts. Her perfect lips jut into a pretty pout. She half turns from him to scowl at the orange sky. "It's always the same."
Garak waits – to do more would only incite well-deserved anger.
At last, the siren sighs. Her face smooths into a gentle smile. "I should not expect so from you. Tis not fair."
Garak waits still.
"The price is one strand of hair," she says.
Garak plucks it without further ado. He's not ignorant of the command such an item gives the fae, oh no, but neither does he have the luxury to deny her demand.
The single, black hair lands on her outstretched hand. The instant it touches, her fingers close with a snap. Her other hand gives him a thin bell – the pixie's charm, no doubt. Garak receives it with care.
She giggles. "He'll arrive shortly. Treat him well, Cardassian."
"Always, fair one," he promises.
She slips back into her watery home.
The ground under him rolls as if alive.
A circle of emerald stones flare to life beside Garak. They glow with an unnatural light, pulsing like a heartbeat. Thump, thu-thump. Thump, thu-thump. Grey smoke curls up inside the circle. Faster and faster the haze builds, taking the shape of a humanoid.
Garak gazes down at the pixie, amazed despite himself.
Its skin is inky black. Wisps of smoke twist round its shoulders. Its chin jerks spastically as the pixie stares at its new owner. The spams stop as it grins, four rows of sharp teeth flashing in the dying sunlight. Slowly it stands, a simple garment of brown weaving their way over its body.
It walks over.
A couple inches away, the protection circle strikes out a crackled bit of lightening at it. It stops with a hiss. Garak never moves a foot. His breathing stays calm.
This close Garak could see six different colors in its slanted eyes.
"We have much business, your soul and mine. Come, let us partake and dine. We shall not rest til deeds are done. After life is lost, and battles won." He quotes the binding words perfectly – any slip up could mean disaster.
"Master," It sighs, in what seems like pleasure.
The stones light fades. There is no more need for its protection. The binding has sealed the pixie to Garak in one of the most intimate ways possible. Their souls. The fae cannot, no…will not harm him. He can feel the flutter of its quick thoughts against his mind. This creature is now the most loyal asset Garak has.
He watches as it changes its form into something more conventionally attractive, demurer. Interesting. It chooses a human form, not Cardassian. But even with this malleable husk, it can't hide its true nature. It shines bright in the slant of its stance, in the way every movement seems predatory.
It's danger, wrath, and animal; all wrapped up in the body of an unassuming human male.
"So," it purrs, "why have you bought me?"
Garak studies it.
The husk/disguise will do for his purposes.
Slight of build – no one will think it a threat. Short hair – others will consider it well-groomed and civilized. A playful smile teasing the corners of its mouth – many will assume it naïve. Simple attire – it will fit into all dimensions of society.
Yes, Garak's lips curl back, this pixie will do nicely.
"I have a brother who is destroying the State's chance of winning our war," he tells it.
"And you wish me to kill him."
It blinks, then grins. "How intriguing. Do go on."
"I want you to deceive him. Coerce him into revealing his hand." Garak licks his lower lip. "I want you to warp his mind."
"Oh," the pixie claps its hands, "this will be fun! I'm so glad you are my Master today."
Garak indulges the fae's outburst.
After all, it is going to help Cardassia win the war.
He can allow it a few moments of childish glee.
"When can I start?" the pixie asks.
"First," Garak says, "you need a name."
The pixie recoils, hissing. Its fear barrages against Garak's mind. Long claws spring from its fingertips, and a low growl rumbles from its clenched teeth. Names have power, even fabricated ones. Garak remains firm, though, on this point. He flexes his wrist. The tiny bell in his hand tinkles.
The pixie screams, grabbing its head in both its hands. It falls to the ground, curls into itself.
Garak leans forward. "You are Julian Bashir."
"Yes, Master," the pixie whimpers. "I am Julian Bashir."
"Very good." He straightens. "Get up."
Julian stumbles to its feet, swaying slightly. Hate flashes through its multicolored eyes. Garak ignores the sentiment. He has more important things than to cater to its hurt feelings – later, perhaps, he'll assuage it, but for now…
"I'm assigning you to Terok Nor." Garak swallows bile. "The humans call it Deep Space 9."
"Are the humans our enemies?" It glances down at its new form, probably worried its displeased its Master.
"In a way." Garak gestures for the fae to follow him to his shuttle. "They complicate matters."
"Shall I kill them?"
"No, they distract the Orders gaze. Their humanity is a liability I tolerate."
"I see. And what is my task there?" The pixie's bare feet never stir the leaves they walk on. A silent predator to the very end.
"You will integrate yourself into the station." Garak glances over. "Use your sidhe to overshadow their minds."
"Yes, Master," Julian replies.
"I want you designated at their chief medical officer."
"An officer. Quite a tricky trick," the fae murmurs, head bowed. An instant later, its head jerks up with a sharp, toothy grin. "That will be difficult to maintain."
Garak raises a ridged eyebrow.
"All the better to have fun," it explains. It rubs its spindly hands together. "May I start now, Master?"
They've arrived at his shuttle. "Yes. It would be best if we weren't seen arriving together."
An impish smile steals across the pixie's lips. "But who's to say they would see me?"
"Still, best if you started now."
Julian sweeps his arm out wide, bowing low. "Anything for you."
A loud buzzing, and then it's gone in a blink.
Garak is left alone. He steps inside his shuttle and looks back to the stilled waters. Moist air breezes in from the shoreline. He takes a deep breath.
Yes, this will do for a start.
And as for the future?
Only time will tell.
But Garak is cautiously optimistic about Julian's success.
After all, who better to play the game with him, then a pixie?
And that's it. Open ended, but a sequel is playing in my mind, so...here's hoping. :D