Here's part 4 of 6 of "Marked."
Part 5 in next entry.
Title: Marked, Part 4 of 6
R/NC-17 (though not graphic) for semi-consensual and consensual m/m sex, torture and angst. Don’t read unless you’re into this sort of thing.
Disclaimer: I fully acknowledge that Paramount has exclusive rights to the Star Trek universe, All Rights Reserved, and that all characters and locations are the property of Paramount television. No infringement is intended. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures.
approx. 15,000 words
This is my first attempt at fanfic. Purple prose alert. Comments, constructive criticism, and other feedback are very welcome!
Canon-breech alert. I have tried to explore how Cardassians differ from humans, and in addressing Cardassian anatomy and customs, I have of necessity strayed from canon, because we have, sadly, a dearth of naked Cardassians to examine. And because it’s true that good Cardassians are hard to find, (as well as the corollary that hard Cardassians are good to find!), I have had to rely on my imagination.
* * * * *
The guards had stepped back, giving them room. One of them seemed about to speak, then thought better of it. They watched in silence.
Garak tossed aside the tunic, manacled Julian’s wrists and pulled the chain taut, forcing his arms up over his head. He didn’t need to study how the mechanism worked. His movements were efficient and confident. Julian was unresisting, passive. His eyes never left Garak’s.
“You may proceed as you see fit, Garak. Your choice of tools. I know I can count on you to do your usual excellent job. You are, after all, one of the best.” Dukat’s voice was low and even.
Garak regarded the figure before him. Naked, arms stretched overhead, so vulnerable. These humans were so fragile, it was a wonder they survived to achieve intelligence, he marveled. Look at him! The spine, right there close to the surface, with no protection at all. He could break it with one blow. The scales covering his own spine seemed to draw tighter with the thought.
Bones everywhere with nothing but a thin layer of soft skin covering them. Those shins, he could shatter them with a kick. The knees, sticking out like that. Those absurd genitals, soft and exposed, as defenseless as a newborn mamset. He took a step toward the table, oddly aware of his scales covering shins and knees and groin. And most of all, that fragile neck. Nothing to ward off a blow, so weak, he could snap it in an instant. He reached the table, and turned back to look at Julian again. So weak – and so very beautiful. So graceful. It hurt to look at him. He turned back to the table.
There was no choice. The whip would flay that soft, tender skin into ribbons; the clubs would easily break any of those unprotected bones, the blades would slice into him with a whisper. He picked up the collar. There was no choice.
He fitted it on Julian’s neck and sealed it closed quickly and casually. He returned to the table and picked up the controller. He looked at Dukat for the signal to begin.
He made sure it was set to the lowest level. He took a breath, then pressed the button.
Julian’s mind had finally shifted into gear as his friend was clamping him into chains. Oh God, he thought, please let me be strong. His sharp, fast mind ran through dozens of different races’ methods for dealing with pain. The Vulcans said, let pain wash over you and through you without changing you, and then the pain rushes on but you remain, like a rock in a river. He wasn’t sure he understood that. The Romulans spoke of re-naming pain, of re-interpreting its sensations. The Klingons embraced pain, the test of a warrior. He wasn’t sure he could do any of that. What was it Garak had said he was supposed to do? Oh, yes – detach.
Then he saw Garak’s finger move. And in an instant, Julian Bashir’s world disappeared. There was nothing but pain – the sharp, bright, fire of it flashing through his body. It seared, it consumed, it obliterated all thought, all intention. He had no mind for anything beyond the experience of the pain. He’d had no idea. It was as if he’d been given an entirely different set of senses. It flung the air from his lungs. Then suddenly it was gone. He gasped like a fish. It was beyond anything he could understand.
His vision cleared, and he focused on Garak’s face. He latched onto the sight of him, as if it were an anchor to keep him from being swept away.
Garak’s eyes held his gaze. Garak’s face was immobile.
Then it happed again.
When Garak had pressed the button for the first time, he had watched Julian’s body convulse with pain. It wasn’t right, that so much pain should be produced with so little effort. Just push a button. Instant agony. This level of pain should come only through great personal effort on the part of the inflictor. His muscles should be screaming, his arms should be working, his breath should be labored. He should be paying with his body for the pain he was giving. His hands should be dirty.
Garak watched Julian as he repeated the process. He had endured the pain collar himself, one time. But he understood this world. Julian did not.
Suddenly he decided that he could not endure the sight unfiltered. He clicked down his nictating membranes. There. That was better. They removed him, as though he were watching the scene through a window, or at a great distance. It seemed unreal. Much better. He had often used his third eyelids for… this part of his work. Others had mocked him for it.
It was almost possible now to ignore the small sound that leaked out of Julian’s mouth. He looked at Julian curiously. He had heard a sound similar to that recently, it seemed, although he remembered it having a different effect on him than this sound did. He tilted his head, looking at the figure before him, trying to remember. He felt nothing but curiosity.
Julian was looking at Garak when Garak changed. The connection he felt looking into his eyes, the feeling that there was an anchor there, suddenly stopped. It was as if Garak his friend had disappeared. In his place, there was a stranger staring at him with cold, indifferent eyes. He flashed back in his memory to when they used to take field trips in school when he was a young child, to the natural history museum. All the other kids loved the hall of dinosaurs best, but the holo-displays always terrified him. He could still remember the velociraptor, tilting its head and regarding him coldly. The image faded and Garak’s face swam back into focus. They were the same face. But this was no holo-image. He was a seven-year-old boy again, and the beast was ready to strike.
Garak pushed the button.
The sound ripped through Garak and in a flash he retracted his nictates. What was he thinking? Julian had no such comfort, nothing to help him put his ordeal at a distance. Why should it be any easier for him? He should be suffering, he should be suffering each and every wave of pain along with Julian. He was despicable, for trying to hide from it. He was weak. He was filth, he was vile. He was excrement.
Maybe it had gone on long enough. He looked at Dukat, his eyes filling with such hate that it was like looking through steam. Dukat shook his head.
He pushed the button again.
Garak heard the new scream with every cell of his body. He knew that people who were new to this world often thought that the point of screaming represented the ultimate loss of control, the lowest point. They thought it was the end. But he knew better.
The time of screaming wasn’t the end. It was the beginning.
Much, much later – too much later, too late to ever live the same life again – but then again, it had been too late for him right after the first push of the button – it was over. Dukat seemed satisfied.
Julian was hanging in his shackles. He had finally found that secret place inside, where nothing could touch him anymore. Either that, or he had lost himself. Garak couldn’t tell which.
Dukat turned to Garak with a smile. “That will do. You can take your… pet… and go. But I have one last gift for you. As a …” his smile grew gracious. “Remembrance.”
Dukat had a small, black box. He held it loosely in his hands, head tilted and eyes upward, in contemplative thought, it seemed. Then he nodded, murmured, “ah, yes, yes, just right,” punched something into the controls on the side, and grabbed Garak’s right hand.
Garak didn’t even try to resist. He didn’t care what Dukat did to him. He didn’t much care about anything.
Dukat thrust Garak’s hand into the box. Garak expected pain. There was pain, but it was not excruciating. It felt like fire on the back of his hand. Then it was over. Dukat removed the box.
Garak looked at his hand without much interest. There was something seared on the back. Symbols. Cardassian writing. Even as he watched, the searing scarred upward into raised, red ridges. He read what was there. He had thought the emptiness inside couldn’t feel any colder. He had been wrong.
(Continued in Part 5 of 6)
Part 5 in next entry.
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