TITLE: The Chair
AUTHOR: The Plaid Adder
CODES: G/B, rated PG
SUMMARY: When Garak is recalled to Cardassia to answer for his actions, Bashir and some friends fly to the rescue...
DISCLAIMER: All rights reserved except for the ones Paramount owns already. Song lyrics taken from "Human Hands" by Elvis Costello.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.io.com/~villyard/plaidder/lair.html

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(We are looking at a closeup of BASHIR that fills most of the screen and shows his head and neck. It is difficult to tell exactly where he is, except that the room is gray and dark. He is looking straight at the camera and addressing someone in the room with him. His voice is calm but from the face we can tell that he is upset by something.)

BASHIR: I'm sorry. I thought I could but it's not working for me. I really can't--(breaks off for a moment, resumes) I don't know what it is. But everything is just cut off at the root, now. It's frozen me. (GARAK's voice comes from off screen, probably from behind him but it's hard to tell.)

GARAK: I don't understand. That time in Odo's office, it seemed that you--

BASHIR: Being spontaneous made it different. To come up here planning makes it--less like a game. (More agitated) And I don't want it to be serious, I don't want us to be in these positions, for real.

GARAK: Neither do I. That's what games are for. The power question is always there. This allows us at least to control it. (BASHIR shakes his head) And to keep it changing.

BASHIR: I--(his voice is beyond his control) Maybe you're right, but I still can't do this. I'm sorry. I can't, I don't want to be this. I can't get around the feeling that in some way--in some way it *is* serious, for you, and to see you this way is just horrible--I--

GARAK: (alarmed by how upset he is) Julian, don't. It's all right.

BASHIR: I want to give you what you need but--

GARAK: Please. It doesn't matter. You do give me what I need. This is nothing. I would never have suggested it if-- (BASHIR turns; the camera pulls back. We see that BASHIR is standing up a few feet away from GARAK, who is seated in an ordinary black metal chair. The chair is straightbacked
and armless. GARAK's hands are locked behind the back of it in a pair of wrist restraints and two bands run around his upper body strapping it to the back of the chair. They are now facing each other; before, BASHIR had his back to GARAK. The room is small, about 15 x 15, and there is a single
light source, a hanging lamp in the center of the ceiling. The walls are gray and completely bare; there is no other furniture. In one of the walls is a shut door that almost blends into the wall itself; there are no windows.) Computer, end program. (The hologrid appears; the chair is still there along with the restraints.) Oh, Julian. Come here. (BASHIR walks toward him) Get me out of this and let's talk. (BASHIR starts undoing the restraints.)

(Cut to QUARK's bar, where a bustling crowd is being served and disporting themselves. OPHIDIA is at the bar arguing with QUARK.)

QUARK: That's my final offer.

OPHIDIA: You're a funny man, Quark. Two strips and that's it.

QUARK: Garak was right; you don't know how to haggle. The offer has to be at least within the range of possibility--

OPHIDIA: I may not be queen of the bazaar but I know a dead loss when I see one, and that's what that root beer is right now. If you don't sell it to me, you're not selling it to anyone. (O'BRIEN has entered and is trying to get QUARK's attention)

QUARK: I have some Andorians very interested in it as an alternative fuel source, actually.

OPHIDIA: Sell it to them then, I'm sure they'll beat my price.

QUARK: Of course, since you are a favored customer I might be willing to offer you a  special-- (O'BRIEN gives up on QUARK)

O'BRIEN: The usual, Rom.

ROM: But of course. (O'BRIEN passes behind OPHIDIA)

OPHIDIA: Oh, sure, like I've never heard *that* before. Hey, Chief! You got a minute?

O'BRIEN: Sure, I'll be right over at that table by the post. (OPHIDIA nods and he exits)

QUARK: Novice hagglers are so irritating. Will you please pay attention?

OPHIDIA: Sorry. Where were we? Ah yes. Since it is not apparently destined to become Andorian rocket fuel, and since no one else on this station can drink the stuff--

(Cut back to the holosuite, which is much as we left it except that BASHIR is sitting with his back propped against the wall while GARAK is curled up more or less in his lap. On the one hand, this looks ridiculous, since GARAK is much too big for his lap, but on the other hand we can tell that
both are completely comfortable in this position and with each other. BASHIR is stroking GARAK's head while he finishes something he was saying.)

GARAK: That's why.

BASHIR: I know. (They sit in silence for a while.) Thank you. It helps to know where it comes from. And...

GARAK: I know. (Carefully) I've never told anyone that.

BASHIR: You know I'll keep it safe. (GARAK nods and moves closer to him.)

GARAK: You've never been anything but honest. I don't think you could lie, successfully. So it makes sense to me, that I trust you. What I don't understand...(Looks up at him) is how you can trust me.

BASHIR: I don't understand it myself. I know...your code is different, but you stick to it. I suppose that's what I trust. Not what you say, but you. So it doesn't matter that you don't believe in truth and your ethics don't match mine, because I believe that you have--that you've decided that for me, the rules are different. That I'm an exception.

GARAK: You certainly are. (Pause) I never imagined that I could tell anyone that story.

BASHIR: I never imagined--this. (GARAK nods.) I trust people with my life all the time. But this is different. I trust you with--

GARAK: I know. So do I.

BASHIR: (after a pause) It's...Garak, do you find it a little scary, sometimes? (Pause)

GARAK: It's absolutely terrifying. (BASHIR holds GARAK closer. We move back to QUARK's. OPHIDIA is leaving the counter)

OPHIDIA: I give you an afternoon to crack and then I'm coming back to take the whole damn case for one strip. (She walks over to O'BRIEN and sits down) I have to have *something* to drink on my way back to Caledonia.

O'BRIEN: Are you finally going home then?

OPHIDIA: That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I have a deal on a used ship--

O'BRIEN: Really!

OPHIDIA: I got sick of waiting for a freighter. Caledonia is too damn far away from everything else. I have to get home and if I have to buy a ship to do it, then so be it. The problem is--

O'BRIEN: It's too expensive.

OPHIDIA: No, that's just it, it's way too cheap.

O'BRIEN: Aha. And you need somone to take a look at it to find out why.

OPHIDIA: Would you? Please? I'm so totally at a loss, Odo has shown me how to fly the thing  but I don't know which end of a dilithium crystal is up, and--

O'BRIEN: First of all, dilithium crystals don't have ends. But of course, I'll give it a look-see. I love vintage spacecraft. Where is it? (As OPHIDIA and O'BRIEN get up to go, BASHIR and GARAK come out of the holosuite together, holding hands and looking happy. The four of them walk out into the corridor)

BASHIR: So are you finally leaving us? (OPHIDIA nods)

GARAK: I'll believe it when I see it.

OPHIDIA: You laugh, my Cardassian friend, but I mean business this time. Come on, Chief, let's take a look at this lemon.

(She and O'BRIEN peel off into an airlock; the other two continue into their quarters. As they enter we see that their living room is in complete disarray, and we assume the rest of the place is in a similar state. BASHIR contemplates it)

BASHIR: We really need to clean this place up.

GARAK: I concur completely. (Kisses him. BASHIR laughs and tries, not very hard, to disengage)

BASHIR: Now look. This is what always happens, I mention housekeeping and--

GARAK: (renewing the attack) Ah, the mere thought of it sets my blood on fire.

BASHIR: (still laughing) No it doesn't, you're a reptile. This is all just a pathetic ploy to get out of--

GARAK: You become more astute with every passing day, Doctor. Soon you'll be almost a match for me. (Still refuses to desist. BASHIR finally steps in a plate of something that has been left on the floor)

BASHIR: All right, that's it. Cleaning first, sex afterwards. (GARAK pouts) Oh, no! Not the pout! (BASHIR averts his eyes) Can't...must...resist...quarters...a hellhole...(GARAK laughs and lets go)

GARAK: Very well, Doctor. (He starts collecting things in the living room; BASHIR wanders into the bedroom)

BASHIR: (calling from within) How did we let it get like this? We're both relatively...relatively...

GARAK: Fastidious?

BASHIR: Thank you. And yet there are deposits in here from the Pleistocene era. I don't even know *what* this brown sticky stuff is--

GARAK: Better that we not ask, Doctor.

BASHIR: I don't see what your thread is doing in here--(tosses it out; GARAK catches it and sets it down) or the pincushion--(another toss and catch) and find a place for this, whatever it is--(tosses out a round glass ball about the size of a baseball. GARAK catches it, then looks closer with
extreme interest. The ball is black and translucent, with a smaller sphere at the center that is a blood-red color. GARAK stares at it while BASHIR continues tossing items out of the bedroom, which fall around his unheeding form. Finally he speaks, with an effort at nonchalance)

GARAK: Julian...where did you find this? (BASHIR pokes his head out the door)

BASHIR: It was on the stand near the bed. What is it?

GARAK: I have no idea.

BASHIR: You mean it's not yours?

GARAK: I've never seen it before. (BASHIR pauses) I wonder how it got in here.

BASHIR: Maybe it's a wedding present we never opened?

GARAK: (Far away) Maybe.

BASHIR: It's strange it should be sitting out in the open, though. (GARAK nods) You have no idea what it is?


BASHIR: Maybe we should ask--(his badge beeps.) Bashir here.

NURSE: Doctor, Iliana is asking for you. She says her contractions are two minutes apart.

BASHIR: I'll be right there. (He drops what he's carrying and kisses the still-abstracted GARAK on the cheek) Sorry, Elim, I have to go. Hopefully it'll be a quick one. I'll see you back here. (GARAK nods, absently) Elim?

(GARAK looks up)


BASHIR: Are you all right? (GARAK smiles)

GARAK: Perfectly.

BASHIR: I'll be back as soon as I can. (Exits. GARAK looks down at the ball in his hand. He stares impassively for a few moments)

GARAK: (to himself) Why *now*?

 (Blackout and credits.)

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