A/N: This story came about from an acting card game we made where one deck is a deck of character cards, and the other deck is a deck of situation cards with character A and B. This came from drawing Garak and Dukat for A performs surgery on B while B is awake. Well it was much too hard to act on the spot, but it did make a hilarious one-shot xD. This was written by Rae.


The Art of Extraction

Such a hideous life! The last few days had not been the jolliest of Garak's life, what with the ambiguous deathbed goodbye his father Tain had given him. It was probably foolish to believe Tain was proud of him now just because he had been on one single, very particular day of Garak's childhood. Add that to being faced with a humiliating fit of claustrophobia while trying to repair a transmitter in a passage too hot even for a Cardassian, and then finding out that while every other Cardassian prisoner was allowed to return home, he was to be executed because Gul Dukat of all people had chosen to use his newfound political power—won through his usual uncanny mix of posturing and cowardice, as always—to satisfy his own personal vendettas. Oh, and there was also the unthinkable tragedy of Cardassia being led by such a despicable hothead.

Despite all this, Garak had almost, maybe, been close to allowing himself to entertain the mildest possibility that they might get back to the station unscathed and get a chance to set everything back into its proper place—when they had emerged on the other side of the wormhole and were blinded and rattled by a direct hit. It took out their shields and soon they had lost helm control, the inertial dampeners were offline, and they were careening through space, dear doctor Bashir yelling at the top of his lungs about who knows what, when they hit the side of something and they all went flying against the walls. That was when Garak had lost consciousness.

Now, his head hurt, but it was nothing compared to the rest of him, and worst of all, he couldn't move. Hmmm. Probably taken prisoner again. All he could see of his surroundings was a patch of ceiling… not a very nice color, a sort of drab greenish greyish brown. Like bruises. Oh yes, he was sure some parts of his body were that color about now. Perhaps this is a Jem'Hadar ship, Garak thought... not to be rude, but those people don't have much artistic sense.

Best not to assume the worst in this case; Garak cleared his throat and put on his most pleasant I'd-be-delighted-to-cooperate-with-you voice.

"Hello? Is anyone there? I'm sure it's obvious by the way I am presently indisposed, but I can assure you that even if I weren't, I pose absolutely no threat—"

"Ah, Garak!" came a sickeningly familiar voice, enormously slimy in its casual conceit. "You're awake. Good."

"Dukat…" Garak smiled, his eyes widening as the Gul-turned-world-ruler came into his field of vision, smirking down at him. "I must say, this is one surprise which gives me an astonishing amount of pleasure." The fact that Dukat hadn't killed him on the spot after ordering his execution probably meant that he had changed his mind and wanted something from Garak instead—something, Garak hoped, he would be able to provide while getting a few stabs at the Gul's pride in the process.

"Mm. I was hoping I'd find you alive," Dukat replied, polishing a scalpel with an absentminded air. "It seems my luck has recently taken quite a turn for the better."

"And how is that, exactly?" Garak asked pleasantly, beaming at Dukat's face, determinedly not looking at the scalpel which Dukat was now inspecting in the light. "Changed your mind about having me executed, have you? My lucky escape must have inspired you to ask me for my secrets of survival, but I assure you—"

"Oh, I wouldn't call you a lucky man," Dukat crooned, shaking his head slowly with exaggerated pity as his eyes traveled down Garak's body. "But I suppose this will be the ultimate test, won't it? Elim Garak, the spy who refused to die. Take comfort, if you can… in your… secrets of survival." A crooked grin was stealing over Dukat's face as he pulled on some surgical gloves. "We'll see how they stand up to this situation."

"I appreciate your offer for a haircut and massage but I prefer to cut my own hair, thank you—judging by yours, you have no idea what makes a lush head of hair such as mine look good, and I'm sure you don't have as much fine motor control."

"You had better hope I do," Dukat said, leaning over Garak and speaking in a soft voice full of feigned concern. "Because your precious doctor Bashir is out of commission, and I'm the only one who can save your… pathetic… life. Although… it might be more merciful to let you die."

"I may not be a medical expert but I'm sure the damage can't be so extensive that you need to operate on me before you take me back to Cardassia." Garak let his wide eyes flicker to the scalpel, which Dukat kept hovering over different parts of Garak's torso, which, unfortunately, Garak couldn't see because of the angle at which his head was tilted back.

"Back to Cardassia?" Dukat started laughing. "My, my, I knew living on that station must have dulled your already limited intellect, but now you actually think I'd take you back? Oh no, you're going back to that space station and mending dresses for the rest of your life—after all, it's the only thing you're good at, isn't it? That is, if you can use your arms after I'm done with you."

Garak started laughing too—he couldn't help it, he wanted to unnerve Dukat and besides, there was no other rational way to respond to this situation. "Trying your hand at interrogation? Really… against me? I'm not surprised you'd pick such a sloppy method—after all, you don't understand the delicate art of anything but flattery, imbecility and the seduction of Bajoran women!"

"Perhaps I should operate on your vocal chords while I'm cutting the rest of you up," Dukat mused, the tiniest tremor of anger in his voice making Garak's smile widen a bit. "I would probably be doing you a favor, because one of these days, you're going to inspire murderous intentions in someone simply for not knowing when to shut up. You're helpless, Garak! You're at my mercy!"

"Ahahahaha, that's very funny!" Garak said. "Let's not play games, Dukat, I am perfectly willing to tell you anything you'd like to know, there's no need to use such… distasteful methods, surely!"

"You were right about one thing," Dukat smiled. "This is not an interrogation."

"Ah, what, then? You're going to implant some sort of tracking device on me? Or a recording device? Or some new DNA to make me easier for you to live with? I hate to be so direct, but why haven't you killed me, exactly? And why not just wake doctor Bashir if you're so concerned about your own lack of surgical skills? As entertaining as it always is to watch you muddle your way through things, I really—"

"I may be a miracle worker in some respects, but the only thing I've managed to bring back from the brink of death is Cardassia," said Dukat. "A modest accomplishment compared to your daring deeds, I'm sure. So unless you'd like to be joining your shipmates in the grave, you will shut your uncontrollable mouth and let me get to work."

Shockingly, Garak did shut his mouth, raising his eyebrows at the ceiling in momentary speechlessness. But only for a moment.

"AHH-ahh-at least give me some sort of anesthetic!" Garak tried to suck in his belly –without gasping in pain—as Dukat's scalpel got alarmingly close to it. "What exactly are you trying to do?"

"Well," Dukat sighed, in feigned patience. "First I've got to cut your clothes open. It may be primitive, but these aren't exactly ideal conditions, are they?"

Garak gasped in horror. "My clothes? Do you know how long it took me to design and sew this suit? Your lack of respect for decent clothing must be the reason your entire wardrobe is sub-par."

"I'm sorry," Dukat drawled. "How thoughtless of me! I forgot to inform you that your clothes are already ruined beyond repair." He tilted his head, again inspecting Garak's torso. "Yes, bloodstains, tears, a few burned patches—really quite irreparable. A pity, but it's no use crying about it."

"Bloodstains and burn marks? Really?" Garak asked, with the air of someone asking for details about some fascinating news.

"I'm afraid so."

"Well, I still think some anesthetic is the least you can do!"

"You're right… I'm sure your screaming will give me a headache and you'll still be whimpering and crying even if you can't actually feel anything."

"May I ask, what do you expect to find when you cut me open?" Garak stared at Dukat with his round eyes that never blinked even after being held wide open for minutes on end, and his little smile which never fluctuated. Unfortunately Dukat wasn't paying attention to Garak's face but instead was discharging a hypospray of something all over Garak's aching chest and belly.

"Do you even know what that is?" Garak asked. "I'm not sure you're doing it right."

"Oh, I doubt it matters too much if I got the wrong dosage. And as for what I expect to find… your insides, of course, waiting for my benevolent, healing hand to stitch them up."

"Stitch them up?" Garak repeated, with a little intake of breath. "Forgive me if I don't trust your skill in that area, seeing as I am the tailor and you couldn't stitch together a string of anything except a list of failed missions and relationships. If anyone is going to be stitching me up I don't want them to do a messy job—I wouldn't be able to live with myself, knowing I had a piece of such shoddy workmanship holding me together! I know—why don't you prop me up so I can see and do it by—AAAh-aahaa-haaaaahhhh!"

The peculiar feeling of steel sliding through skin was only made bearable by the fact that the hypos were starting to take effect. Garak held his breath for a moment, and then let it out slowly, his eyes fixed on Dukat's face, a mask of concentration.

"Quite… an unusual feeling, I must admit," Garak breathed. He thought he felt Dukat's fingers reach through the slit as the area went numb, and it made him slightly nauseous. "See anything… interesting?"

"You know how easily I could just yank your heart out… I would say the idea has some poetic justice to it, but that seems a bit too reminiscent of Klingon behavior, and I'm not too fond of the Klingons at the moment," Dukat said conversationally, lifting his gloved hand out of Garak and rubbing the bloody fingers together as he frowned. Garak tried to laugh again but it came out as more of a feeble "mehehehm."

"I do hope those gloves are sanitary," he managed to say. "Though I'd say not, after you touched them."

Dukat chuffed a laugh and reached back inside. "Always so charming, Garak. Does your hospitality know no bounds? Or are you simply sucking up to those who hold your life in your hands, as always?"

"Funny, I thought that was your specialty." Garak had to leave it at that for a moment because of the sudden pressure against his lungs.

Dukat paused. "Yes… I think I've got it. Though I'm quite tempted to sever one of your spinal cords…it's right there, just an inch or so beneath my fingers."

"Got what?" Garak breathed. "Oh! The reason every trick you've tried in order to earn respect has failed? I'll tell you a secret." He lowered his voice to a stage whisper. "It's not your looks, it's your personality."

"Wrong again," Dukat smirked, bending over to peer inside the incision. "Ah, it's no use, I can't see… I may have to make a larger cut." He tsked quietly.

"Can't see WHAT?" Garak cried. "And don't go cutting any further before you tell me!"

Dukat smiled. "Is that a note of panic I detect?"

"I can see you're enjoying this," Garak laughed roughly, nodding. "Alright, you've got me convinced. I'll take you on as an apprentice in interrogation if you're that desperate to emulate my greatness."

"Now where did I put that scalpel…?"

"What was the purpose of keeping me awake for this if it's not an interrogation?"

"Why don't you tell me?" Dukat mumbled distractedly, slowly setting scalpel to scaly skin. Garak was just glad he couldn't feel it anymore.

"Do you even HAVE anything to stitch me up with once this is over?"

"Remind me to check in the emergency medkit," Dukat laughed softly. "If not, I suppose bandages will have to do."

"You make an even lousier doctor than you do a Gul…or a politician, I daresay." Garak's head was getting fuzzy and his hands felt cold—though, what else was new?

"Really, Garak, is that the best you can do? I expected better."

"Oh, pardon me for my lack of eloquence—it's freezing in here, can't you turn the heat up?"

"I'm sorry, would you like me to warm you up with a phaser on its lowest setting?"

"I wouldn't trust you to know how!"

"Such a complainer," Dukat sighed. "So… ungrateful." He straightened, one hand still in Garak's torso and the other raised and slightly bloodied. "I truly cannot see what Ziyal sees in you."

"I see… so…" Garak said softly. "That's what this is about. I commend you for your fatherly devotion. Truly you are an example of filial piety to us all! That sort of fidelity was what prompted your fall from grace, wasn't it? And now in a desperate bid for power, you no doubt would abandon her as well, or else force her into battle to defend you! Such bravery! Such… patriotism!"

Dukat grabbed Garak's face with his free hand, crushing his jaw shut. "And you! I'm to believe your intentions toward my daughter are entirely innocent? You have already poisoned her against me and I will not stand for it, Garak! Not her, not this time! I should cut your vocal cords, so you can never lie to her again!"

Dukat's face was swimming in front of Garak's eyes. It was really freezing in here; he couldn't feel his fingers or feet at all.

"But," Dukat said, letting go of Garak's face. "I, unlike you, am not heartless. I would not see Ziyal—"

But Garak wasn't paying enough attention to hear the rest because he was too distracted by Dukat's other hand, the one that had been buried in his belly, and which was now dripping blood and holding a twisted piece of metal that must have been embedded in his guts. Dukat kept rambling on about "mercy" and Bajorans and the Dominion and something about yamok sauce—wait, what did yamok sauce have to do with Ziyal?

"Only Ferengi are stupid enough to… try to… sell Yamok sauce to the Dominion…." Garak managed to mumble, his delirious mind waiting for Dukat's response to his perfect insult. And there it was. Suddenly Dukat was back in his face shouting something and then he was gone, and with some sense of vague satisfaction, Garak felt unconsciousness swooping down on him.

The next thing he knew was Doctor Bashir's face, very close to his own, and a sluggish sense of well-being vaguely reminiscent of the slight euphoria which his implant used to give him whenever he was in distress. In this case it was probably some sort of sedative.

"How are you feeling, Garak?" the doctor asked in his soothing doctor voice.

"Before I answer that, Doctor, may I ask one question?" Oh good, so Dukat hadn't cut his vocal cords after all.

"Of course."

"What was the last thing you said to me before I got here?"

Bashir's eyebrows contracted in a puzzled look. "Well, I… I dunno, I suppose it must have been… something about…." He trailed off. "Actually, I… don't remember."

Garak eyed the doctor, inwardly trying to calculate whether or not this was the real Bashir or the shapeshifter who had replaced him. Either way, he needed answers. He looked around, finding himself in the infirmary of DS9.

"How did we get back to the station?"

"Well, it was sort of bizarre, actually. I woke up suddenly and saw you bleeding on the floor, with a scalpel in one hand and this in the other." Bashir held up the twisted bit of metal that Garak remembered Dukat pulling from him. "Astonishing! You never cease to amaze me, Garak—performing surgery on yourself? I would applaud your latent medical expertise but for the fact that by the time I got to you, you'd nearly died from blood loss!"

Garak smiled and took the offered shrapnel, glad to see he had regained the use of his arms as well. "I always aim to please, doctor."

"Well then, answer my question and tell me how you're feeling."

Garak slowly sat up and looked down at himself—he was in a hospital gown, but as far as he could tell there were no more incisions or gaping holes in his body and overall he felt alright, if a little sore.

"Well, I seem to be well enough, thanks to your timely administrations." He smiled and nodded at the doctor, who was waving a medical tricorder over him to double-check.

"Yes, you do seem to be… if you'd like I'll allow you to leave tomorrow, as long as you take it easy and get adequate rest—there's a young woman who seems quite eager to see you."

"I see… well…." Garak paused for half a second, his mind racing before it made itself up. "It's best not to keep a lady waiting, isn't it? I'd better rest up in the meantime. I'm already behind on the O'Brien's new set of baby clothes." He laid back down and closed his eyes, still trying to sort out what had really happened and what it meant.

A few possibilities quickly came to mind: Dukat-the-surgeon was a shapeshifter, or perhaps the real Dukat had let him live for Ziyal's sake—the experience was to serve as a warning not to get too close to her or hurt her in any way. And it was a prime opportunity for torture whilst trading banter. Perhaps Dukat had some greater revenge in mind further down the road.

Either that or Garak was absolutely insane and had imagined the whole thing, and really, what were the chances of that?


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