Bitter Heart
Copyright August 1999
Rating: R
Timeline: During In Purgatory´s Shadow

The specters of prisoners and Jem´Hadar step into the half-light only to fade again into the shadows. Julian Bashir moves on until he finds his friend amid the gloom.

Garak looks up. And Bashir knows that Garak has seen it too. Tain's body with his chest split, a piece of his heart cut away. "I´m sorry, Garak. They never defiled a corpse before."

How eerie, the light in Garak´s eyes! His words almost an incantation. "When a loved one dies, we eat siral fruit. We drink it's juice. We take a bite, if we enjoyed the dead one's flesh. Siral fruit, it's shaped like a heart." His features are frozen in yearning.

Bashir fights down tears.

"But did you know, doctor?" Garak`s trembling voice is barely audible. "In ancient times we ate the real heart."

Revulsion and horror engulf Bashir. His body constricts. His mind tells him to run and scream.

But his lips touch Garak´s ever so gently. And take away the fetid taste of a bitter heart.