Home for Christmas

By Kim Riley a.k.a. MYSTIC

The pressure of the war was getting to everyone, so when the unexpected break in the fighting occurred it was greeted as a mixed blessing. The break gave time for people to breathe and remember what they were fighting for; it also made many people wonder what was going to occur next and how soon. Fortunately for many on DS9, Sisko was more of the optimist and with the Earth holiday Christmas within the next few days, he arranged for a huge Christmas gathering in Vic’s lounge on Christmas Eve.

The holiday was difficult enough without family being able to be present, after all there was still a war even if there was a temporary break in the activities of the Founders. The people of the station were hardy folks and found the spirit Sisko was hoping for, the reason to celebrate, life. The day of the party everyone was making last minute arrangements for either an outfit or a present here or there, well almost everyone…

“Garak, why are you still here? Aren’t you getting ready for the party?” Ezri asked the busy Tailor.

Garak looked up from behind his counter, as he was finishing up with a last minute customer. “My dear, I don’t think I’ll be going. I’m sure Captain Sisko won’t be too upset if I’m not there,” he replied.

Ezri waited till the customer left before continuing. “It’s Julian isn’t it?” she asked concerned.

“Perceptive as always, my dear councilor,” Garak retorted, not wanting to get into it.

“Look Garak, you know as well as I do, if he could be here he would. It’s not his fault that he and half his medical team were temporarily reassigned to the Potemkin.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Oh Garak. He’s a Starfleet officer, you knew that when the two of you got involved, so how is it his fault?” Ezri asked trying to get to the bottom of the Tailors anger, which she believed, was a mask for his heartache.

“Well, he could have tried a little harder to not be the best doctor in the quadrant,” Garak snapped, knowing how foolish it sounded. He wasn’t really angry with Julian, he just missed him, and it had been three months with the last two not hearing a word from his lover due to the Potemkin being on radio silence.

“You have a point there, Garak” Ezri returned in mocking understanding. “He could of tried a bit less; maybe even let a few patients die, just so he’d not be noticed by Starfleet for his contributions to the war effort.”

Garak shot Ezri a dirty glare, letting her know he didn’t appreciate the mockery. “I am quite aware of how much he’s done councilor. I…I didn’t mean it. Now, if you don’t mind, I have things to do,” the tailor snapped coldly.

“I’m sorry, Garak. But please. Reconsider coming to the party, please?” Ezri tried the puppy eyes she seen Julian use on the tailor, knowing she didn’t quite have the young doctors charm or the tailors fancy, but she tried her best.

To get the impudent pup off his back, “I’ll think about it, all right?”

“All right. I really hope to see you there,” Ezri stated before leaving.

Garak sighed. He moved to the front door of his shop and locked it then turned off the open sign. He then moved to the back of his shop to his work area to finish some of the work he had let pile up. Between the battles, decoding messages for Starfleet, the Cardassian resistance, which Julian had instigated with him, he got behind with his tailoring. He took a seat at his work station and looked up to see a picture of him and Julian from last year when the young man talked the Cardassian into going skiing with him. The ski trip was a disaster, but what joys they had when the energetic doctor decided to make it up to him by staying the rest of their time in the warm cabin they rented.

Not everyone on the station was thrilled about their relationship, but as Julian put it, “It’s their problem not ours.” Garak had watched how the young man had blossomed over the years and when Garak had almost given up on any possibility between them, the unpredictable doctor had approached him, which was almost two years to date.

Garak sat back in his chair; it would be their two-year anniversary today, Christmas Eve. He closed his eyes and thought back to that day. Sisko had become famous for his ‘last minute’ arrangements for the holiday. That year, things were not quiet so tense with the Dominion, and everyone knew about the party a whole month in advance. Garak was so busy with orders for dresses, and tuxes, since Sisko decided to make it a formal for kicks. It was the day of the party and Garak was making last minute alterations for a few good customers when Dr. Bashir walked in his shop looking very handsome in his tuxedo, even if he wasn’t wearing the jacket.

“Can I help you, my dear Doctor?” Garak asked giving his warmest of smiles that he’d allow himself toward the young man.

“I sure hope so,” Julian replied while returning the warm smile. “I seem to have snagged my jacked on something and popped a seam. Do you…”

“Of course, Doctor. If you’d be so kind as wait a moment, I’ll have it fixed for you in a couple of minutes.”

“Oh take your time, Garak. I know you’ve been busy and you have to get ready your self, so please take your time.” Julian smiled.

“Oh, I’ve just finished for today, thankfully. As for getting ready, I wasn’t planning on going.” Garak stated as he moved to his workroom not noticing that Julian was following him.

“Why not?”

Garak turned to see he had company, but didn’t mind one bit. “Oh, no particular reason,” he lied. He just couldn’t bring himself to be at such a festive occasion and watch so many couples being merry, when his heart hurt so much for the man now standing near him.

“Oh,” Julian replied, his disappointment was clear in his voice. “I was kind of hoping…” Julian started to say but suddenly became silent.

Garak turned to look at Julian. Is he blushing? The Tailor asked himself. “What exactly were you hoping for Doctor?” he asked curiously.

Julian looked up to meet the gaze of the Cardassian’s bright blue eyes, finding a courage that lay deep inside as he swallowed hard then proceeded to speak. “I don’t wish to offend you Garak, we’ve been friends for so long, but…” he let out his breath then took another deep one, “I was hoping to ask you to go with me, dance with me, be with me,” he finished in a whisper as his dark eyes shined with hope, love, and desire.

Oh yes, Garak had accepted Julian’s proposal that evening and they had been together ever since. Tonight Garak had hopes of his own, but they got squashed when the orders came in from Starfleet sending Julian away. The Cardassian wiped the tears of frustration away from his face and moved to his small safe he had in the workroom He opened it and pulled out a small box and opened it up and stared at the ring. He was going to ask his love to marry him tonight; it would have been perfect. Too bad Julian wasn’t due back for another three months, and that was only if things went well. He closed the box and placed it back in the safe and turned back to his workstation to try and lose himself in his work, for it was too painful to think anymore.

Garak’s computer beeped, he had a message. He checked it out to discover it was a written invitation by Vic’ himself. That hollow character is getting too real for its own good, the tailor mused. The invitation read:

Dear Mr. Garak.

         It has come to my attention that you may not be coming to our holiday shindig. So, because I know something you don’t, I’m extending this personal invitation to you, and I’m insisting that you attend.

         Trust me,

Vic.

Garak thought for a moment, was this the councilors way of manipulating him? He wondered, but than thought again, she wasn’t that good at that game. So, what was it that this holochracter knew that he didn’t, and better yet, did he care? The message indicated without many words that he’d miss out on something if he didn’t attend, so it was something geared to him. He sighed again, not wanting to get his hopes up, but Vic’s message had done the trick, he’d go just to see what it was he’d be missing.

The Tailor was only about twenty minutes late, but he was not the only one who took fashionably late, as a social must. The Cardassian tailor looked radiant in his green and silver suite he created for himself some time back. Ezri greeted Garak, and even Sisko and Kassidy were friendly toward him, and gave some condolences that Julian wasn’t here with them. Garak was glad to see that he wasn’t the only one who missed the young man. Even Miles O’Brien joined Garak for a drink.

The holochracter Vic gave a good floorshow with many of the holiday songs of long ago, and even had a few people from the station join him. Garak had to admit it was a nice party, though it only made him miss his love even more. Garak, Miles, Ezri, Sisko, Kassidy, and Jake were sitting at a table enjoying a fine meal when Kira came in, dressed in a lovely long dark red gown, but her face was anything but joyful. She moved over to Sisko and leaned in close and whispered to him.

“Are you sure?” Sisko bellowed in disbelief.

“Unfortunately,” Kira stated, a hardness taking over her face, but there were other emotions in her eyes. “I double checked. I…I didn’t know if I should say anything…yet.”

Garak’s blood ran to ice when he saw Sisko steal a glance at him, there was a problem, and it must have involved Julian. “Captain what is it?” he insisted, for he wouldn’t be kept in the dark, he wanted to know.

“Have a seat,” Ben said to Kira then lowered his voice so only those at the table would hear him speak. He took a moment to look at everyone sitting at the table before he started, “I would like to keep this news to us for a while, if you don’t mind.” He looked at Kira then to Garak, “But we just got word, the Potemkin was attacked.” Sisko said letting the meaning of his words sink in. before he continued. “The last report we got was that she was in critical condition when communications went out. We don’t know anything else, I’m sorry.”

Garak felt his heart constrict. The ship that Julian was on had been attacked, and no one knew if…if, Garak’s mind went numb. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and blinked a few times before he realized it was Miles’.

“He’s too stubborn die,” the big Irish man teased, hoping to supply the Tailor and others with some hope that he himself was lacking.

“Ladies and Gentlemen may I have your attention,” Vic said, as a spot light shined on him and the music stopped. “Thank you all for coming tonight, we’ve got a big turn out. So let’s take a moment to thank our benefactor, Captain Sisko.” Vic announced. The spot light then moved to shine on the Captain who did his best to smile and give warm looks as so many around him applauded him. No one needed to know the bad news so soon. Then the light turned back on the entertainer.

“Well, since its Christmas Eve, the time of giving, I have a gift for all of you,” he smiled. “Now, I know there are a few of you out there who happen to be missing a few of our loving family and crew due to their being shipped off a few months ago. More specifically I’m talking about some of our dynamic medical staff,” the entertainer smiled. “Well, a couple of days ago I received a little something and was asked to share it with all of you.”

All the people at the table with Garak paled, for they were sure they knew what was going to happen, and the timing couldn’t be worse. Sisko thought about stopping it, but it was too late. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything but watch just like everyone else.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you some holiday cheer from across the stars!” Vic announced then stepped off stage as the lights changed. Then the stage filled with a projection of several medical staff members along with Julian sitting around a tiny Christmas tree, wearing silly red white furry hats, like the earth character Santa Clause wore. Julian’s face was red with embarrassment, but he was being encouraged by the other four members of his staff to go ahead with something.

“Okay, okay,” the young doctor laughed. Then looked up as if he could see everyone in the audience, “Since we know we wouldn’t be home for Christmas, and we know that Captain Sisko will want a celebration, some of us,” he said looking at those next to him as if they were to blame for what was happening. “Thought a recording would be a good way of celebrating the holiday together. We’re only allowed one message out, um…so…” Julian was too embarrassed to continue.

Jabara, his head nurse spoke up for him, her arm around his shoulder, her face glowing with a warm smile, “We’ve decided to be your entertainment. No offense Vic,” she shouted.

“None taken,” Vic replied even though he knew they couldn’t hear him.

“This was your idea, not mine,” Julian lightly protested.

“On three,” another member said, there was a count and holiday music started to play. The four members of the medical team started to sing and with some encouragement they got Julian to sing with them too. Despite how Miles always teased the young man, he had a nice voice and the group had a good harmony.

They sang Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and Jingle Bell Rock all back to back. During the song they were enjoying some drinks and some playful antics, showing that they were merry and well. The audience was laughing, and singing along with them, and a warm feeling filled the room as they watched their friends and comrades perform for them, even if they were light years away.

Garak’s eyes misted as he watched his love smile laugh and sing with his friends and medical family. He noticed that Julian did something strange with his fingers, he’d hold up his hand and bend in the middle two so the only ones up was the thumb, forefinger, and pinky. He did this several times, though it was subtle, but Garak couldn’t help but wonder why. He then noticed that those who shared his table were also having trouble enjoying the surprise, for like him, they were wondering if this would be the last time they’d ever see these people again.

“Well, our time is almost up,” Jabara said. “But with lots, and I do mean lots of goading, pressuring, and down right threatening,” she laughed, “We’ve persuaded our good Doctor here to provide us with a treat.” Then she turned to Julian. “Okay, too late to back out now,” she smiled.

Julian turned beet red then took in a deep breath, “All right,” he said. The he closed his eyes and waited as music started. He sang a solo; an earth song called ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’ By the end of the song there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The small group of medical staff gave each other a group hug then looked toward the audience, “Merry Christmas!” They shouted as they waved good-bye and then the projection was gone.

The room was silent till it was broken by some clapping started by Garak himself, and followed by everyone else. After Vic jumped back on stage and got the regular entertainment to continue the Cardassian turned toward the rest of his companions at the table. “He would want us to have hope,” he said.

“Aye, he would,” Miles added.

“If it’s the Prophets will, they’ll all be safe, I’m sure of it,” Kira replied.

“Hey, why all the long faces?” Vic asked as he came up behind Captain Sisko and Kassidy. “Don’t tell me you didn’t like that?” he teased.

“No it’s not that,” Ezri stated quickly. “It’s…” she didn’t know what to say.

“It’s what?” the entertainer asked.

Sisko looked at the councilor than the rest at the table; he knew word would get out sooner or later. “We just got word that the Potemkin was attacked and we don’t know its status, though I’d appreciate it if try to keep the new as quiet as we can so not to spoil the evening any sooner than we have too.”

Vic then understood all too well why the long faces. He may have been only a holocharacter, but he cared for people, and Julian was on the top of that list, since if it weren’t for the young doctor he would not exist, since he was a present to Julian from a friend. “Oh, I…I didn’t know, I’m sorry…I” Vic found him self-stuttering.

“Don’t apologize,” Garak said. “I’m glad you shared that with us, truly I am,” the tailor said, still a bit numb inside.

Vic looked over to the Cardassian and gave a sympathetic smile. “I only came over because there was a footnote from Julian. Um…” the entertainer hesitated, “He wanted me to inform you that what he was doing was sign for,” he cleared his throat, “I love you,” he whispered,” feeling a bit embarrassed.

“Excuse me?” Garak said not understanding what he just heard.

Ezri laughed. “Sign language, Garak. It is the use of the hands to communicate, and it was used on Earth before many of the medical break throughs were found for the hearing impaired. Since many couldn’t talk or talk well, they used their hands to communicate. Figures Julian would know that,” she smiled. “There are some alien cultures that have adopted its use since they don’t have a language that we can understand, even with universal translators.”

“So this,” Garak duplicated what he saw Julian do, “means…”

“I love you,” Vic repeated, managing to blush, even for a holographic projection.

Garak gave a small smile, but the realization of what may be happening out there in space hit him. He cleared his own throat then looked at the entertainer, “would it be possible to have a copy of that transmission?”

“Of course,” Vic replied seeing that the Cardassian was barely holding it together. “I’ll send a copy to your quarters, if it’s okay with you Captain?” he asked, he was a part of the computer system, but he knew that he shouldn’t push it. He saw Sisko only nod; he too was filled with deep emotions from this possibility.

“Then if you’d excuse me, I think I shall retire for the evening,” Garak said as he stood up. “As usual Captain, a wonderful party. In the spirit of your people, a Merry Christmas,” he greeted, then with a bow he excused himself and left. He knew they’d inform him once they knew any more information on the situation.

Garak returned to his quarters and replicated a bottle of Kanar and replayed the transmission six times before he could no longer find comfort in the bottle he drank and turned to the oblivious he hoped to find in sleep. He told himself to have hope, but between the bad news, the alcohol, and the hours of crying, it was difficult to feel anything. He stumbled his way to his bed and flopped down on it. He turned on his side to face the picture of Julian he kept there. He reached out and grabbed the wooden frame and brought it to his chest and closed his eyes as a few more tears fell down his cheek. “Merry Christmas, my love,” he whispered before exhaustion overtook him.

Garak felt something warm and moist on his face then his neck ridges. He felt a warm touch as it caressed against his chest and firm flesh pressing against his lips, the taste sweet and familiar. He opened tired eyes; it was his Julian kissing him. He closed his eyes and opened his lips to allow the kiss to deepen as he brought his arms around to hold the lilt body that he loved so much. His body registered every touch, sound, and smell of making love to his young man as he rolled on top of him to take him passionately. Some how Garak knew this was only a dream, but it was so intense that he didn’t want to stop it and allowed himself to go along with it all the way to an intense climax. Then he felt himself drift back into the shadows of sleep with a sense of hope that his love would be all right after all.

When Garak woke up he could feel just how intense his dream was last night; he’d need a shower. It wasn’t the first time he’d gotten over intense in his fantasies about his dark beauty, so finding himself in a state of undress was nerving, but not uncommon. He sat up; a wave of disappointment hit him to see that he was along. He got up and took a shower. When he came out of the shower wearing his robe and towel drying his hair he moved out to get himself some breakfast and stopped cold in his tracks.

There in the living room was a decorated Christmas tree and several presents under it. He didn’t do it since Julian wasn’t going to be home so where did it come from? He looked and saw breakfast on the table waiting for him. He blinked a few times; he didn’t understand what was going on, then his front door opened and his jaw dropped open. “Julian?”

The young man walked in wearing a loose white shirt and black pants, and a huge smile. “Ah, you woke up? I was hoping to get back before hand to wake you up,” he teased as he moved across the room and wrapped his arms around his love. Noticing the look, “what?” he smiled.

“How…when?”

Julian laughed, “How, when what?”

“When did you get home?” Garak asked in disbelief.

It was Julian’s turn to look at the Tailor in disbelief. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember last night?” he smiled warmly.

“I…I thought…”

“You thought what?”

“I thought I was dreaming,” Elim said still not sure if he was still dreaming. “Captain Sisko told me the Potemkin was attacked and…”

“Oh,” Julian said understanding things now. “The ship was attacked, thankfully no one died. But the ship was bad enough that it needed to be recalled, turns out that the nearest port was DS9. I arrived at 03:30 this morning,” he smiled. “I didn’t think you’d mind the wake up call,” he teased giving a wickedly seductive look. “I’m only sorry I couldn’t have been here for our anniversary, but…” Julian didn’t get a chance to finish for his mouth was suddenly covered by Garak’s.

When Garak broke the kiss both men were panting heavy. “Marry me,” he asked with conviction.

“What?” Julian asked, not sure he heard correctly.

“Marry me, Julian. I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, if you’ll have me.” Garak dropped to one knee as was traditional in human culture, “Marry me, Julian.”

Julian just looked warmly at the Cardassian on his knee, “yes,” he whispered, not trusting his voice not to break. “Oh yes, Elim I’ll marry you,” he replied pulling his love to his feet and embracing him tightly.

“I’m so glad you came home for Christmas,” Elim replied holding his soon to be husband in his arms.

“Me too. Garak,” Julian said looking into the Cardassian’s eyes, “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, my Love. Merry, merry Christmas!”

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