Timeline: Sixth season. After "A Sacrifice of Angels", before "You Are Cordially Invited.."
Thanks to: Kathy and Mylexie, for beta-reading; Altariel, for inspiring the whole thing.
Author's note: There is just the tiniest crossover B5 crossover here.
Certain life-saving experiences notwithstanding, Quark didn't put much value on dreams that didn't feature attractive females, or at least the germ of an idea for profit. He would have been glad to forget the one he had when the computer woke him up as well, but no such luck. The images were still there, and that acid taste in his mouth. It would probably go away in time, he told himself; after all, it had been only two days since the station had been retaken by the Federation. Only two days since Rom had almost died, because his idiot of a brother had to play the hero. Because Odo had decided that he didn't care about lower lifeforms that didn't change shapes or weren't Kira anymore. Because Rom, confounded nuisance that he was, had stuck around on Deep Space Nine to begin with, instead of leaving with his uppity Bajoran wife.
Sharpening his teeth for the day, Quark mentally reviewed the profit and loss situation. He'd have to get rid of much of the kanar, there was no help for that; after all, Garak couldn't be depended upon to drink it all by himself, now that Ziyal was gone. And wasn't that another uplifting thought. Quark had liked Ziyal; she had been utterly lacking in either Bajoran condescension or Cardasssian arrogance, and she had always paid her bill. If she had been Ferengi, he would have bid for one of her body parts, in respect and memory, but Kira had insisted on putting her in the earth somewhere where her remains wouldn't be of use to anyone.
On the bright side of things, getting rid of all the Jem'Hadar and Vorta in favour of Federation people who actually liked to eat, drink and party meant he could more than balance the loss from the superfluous kanar. And it seemed everybody and their accountant wanted to redecorate. Yes. Being part of the free and not so bright once more was definitely a good thing.
On the way to the promenade, Quark saw Odo making his first stroll of the day and considered taking another route to the bar. But no. Such games were for Odo and Kira, who had successfully avoided talking to each other ever since the Founder and her minions had left. Which wasn't a bad state of affairs, and Quark was determined to exploit it; who knew what schemes he could pull as long as the chief of security and the First Officer were too busy brooding at each other to pay attention at an enterprising businessmen? Besides, Kira owed him now. And as the rule said: treat people in your debt like family. Exploit them.
Still, something about this pleasant arrangement made him itch the wrong way. He didn't want to think about the reasons, so he decided to continue on his way to the bar. The light setting was still at night level, and suddenly he wondered why Dukat hadn't insisted on keeping it this way all the time during the second occupation; so much more comfortable for Cardassians. Undoubtedly the Vorta had had other ideas. Thank the Blessed Exchequer Weyoun was gone; poisoners made Quark nervous. In passing, he glanced at Garak's shop, but Garak hadn't reopened yet.
By now, Odo had spotted him. There was a tiny hesitation in his stern figure, which no casual observer would ever have noticed; then the Constable continued on his way. They met shortly before the ground level entrance to the bar.
Quark nodded at him before starting to unseal the door, and Odo curtly nodded back.
"So," Quark asked, unable to resist, "are you going to make those cells of yours more comfortable now? Just to be prepared for the next time you put one of your friends in there? I could fix you up with some good suppliers for cushions, you know."
Odo harrumphed and turned away, which was fine as far as Quark was concerned. If Odo had insulted him back, it would have meant that things were back to normal, and Quark wasn't sure yet he wanted them to be. Not until the nightmares had stopped, at any rate.
Once the doors were unlocked, he started to get all the systems running. Then he mentally started to count. The Dabo girls wouldn't show up until later, but his waiters were expected to start early in the morning, and given the fines for showing up late at work, there might be some extra profit due soon.
He also checked last night's findings again. People always lost something in the bar, and Quark had three categories for all the items the regular cleaning up provided: profitable to return, profitable to keep, and uninteresting. Inevitably, there was yet another toy soldier of O'Brien's and Bashir's among the booty. Why the two of them had insisted on rebuilding their bizarre model almost as soon as they had moved back on the station baffled Quark. Privately, he suspected that one reason why Leeta had given Bashir the brush-off in favour of Rom had been her inability to stand the good doctor's insistence on playing with little men on a regular basis. Leeta was annoying, not stupid.
Far more interesting was someone's silver hair pin, except that it was Jadzia's, and he probably would give it back to her without interest. It had been such a relief to see her alive again, even if The Walking Frown was still at her side. Not that Quark had wished a warrior's death on Worf, exactly, but that was what Worf would want, wasn't it? Feeling the hair pin in his hand, he suddenly wondered what Worf would say if he, Quark, suggested to him they'd try that puppeteer thing again, this time with Jadzia, not with Grilka.
Rom showed up just in time to save Quark from indulging in more suicidal recklessness, his Starfleet engineer's uniform crumpled. Rom had to be the only person able to do that, but of course Rom shouldn't be in that uniform at all.
"A steak, eggs and orange juice," Rom ordered cheerfully, which told you all about his state of sanity as well. He had been taking on the nightshift again to help O'Brien with the enormous repairs necessary, and so at the very least should be exhausted and in a bad mood, even if nothing else would have happened.
"That stuff will kill you one day," Quark muttered, and fixed the order at the replicator so there would be slug juice instead of the orange one. No matter what Rom said, Quark knew very well all the craving for human food was just an act to irritate him.
"No," Rom replied, insufferably cheerful, "not me." Then he dropped his voice for a moment. "Not with you looking out after me, brother."
That, too, was Rom for you. They hadn't really talked about it, either. Not that Quark wanted to. Whatever heroes were supposed to feel in those insane Klingon programms Grilka had liked, and that Worf and Jadzia were so fond of – it couldn't be the numbing sense of panic and disgust he had felt during those last days, but really, if your brother's life was at stake and you were used to the idiot in question, what was there to do but to become insane with the rest of them, down to shooting Dominion guards?
It had been only the second time in his life he had shot at someone, and the first time he was absolutely sure that person died. It couldn't have felt less like an occasion to roar or compose poetry, or whatever else heroes did in the programms he had tried to learn by heart once for Grilka. The only good thing about it had been the relief that at least Rom wouldn't die now, and then Kira had taken over and there had been no chance to feel anything else until all of the Dominion had left.
Quark changed the subject. "Fix that replicator later, will you," he said morosely. "Those Cardassian food programs are taking far too much space now. We need programs that bring profit."
"Yes, brother," Rom replied. "Nog and I have been looking forward to root beer again."
"I didn't mean..." Quark gave it up. It wasn't, after all, as if he couldn't sell root beer to enough other people anyway.