SUMMARY: What was going through Dukat's mind in the period between Ziyal being shot, up to when he gave Sisko his baseball back? Based on the seventh season episode "Sacrifice of the Angels"
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Star Trek, have never owned it. That honor goes to Paramount and the Roddenberrys, and whoever deserves the credit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yes, I know, Dukat was intended to be a purely evil character. However, he was also the most rounded out because through that evil, he had this love for his daughter. It was mainly a loved based on the fact that Ziyal was no more than an extension of himself, but it was fatherly love nonetheless. The way I interpreted his character arc was that he really began to go insane after Ziyal's death. Again, it's only my interpretation, I'm not saying that it's cannon.
Deep Space Nine: Angel's Legacy
By Sonia Wong
He had seen many things; he had felt many things before, but never anything like this. Whatever intense emotion he had felt before was nothing compared to what he felt now. The loss of his daughter was more than he could bear. She had been lost and found and he had found her and kept her because he could not kill her.
He could not kill her because she was of his flesh; she was a product of his strength and passion for all things beautiful. She was a part of him, she had his blood. His blood and that of a Bajoran comfort woman. Yes she was his bastard daughter, but it didn't matter. She was his daughter, she was of his blood, and in her, he felt more joy than with his own legitimate children.
When his family found that he took his bastard daughter home, they all left him. Only Ziyal stayed. It had warmed his cold heart then, melted the ice around the organ that let him live. She stayed with him out of love and curiosity. Being a father was something he had never known. He had come to find that the bond between father and daughter was the strongest bond of them all.
But that bond had been cut. He watched, eyes wide with terror as Ziyal melted away from him, shot by Damar, the man he trusted the most in a world of founder shape-shifters, violent Jem'Hadars, and syrupy Weyouns.
Damar. How could he do this? How could Damar do this to him, the legendary Gul Dukat? Legends had feelings too. He felt rage at his former friend. As he held her body, as he wept his grief as he was deluding himself and her with assurances of comfort and joy of the future, he was thinking of ways to avenge her. He was thinking of how to kill his friend. He was thinking of every known poison, starting with the most agonizing ones. He was thinking of slicing Damar's throat and crushing the life out of him with his bare hands. But one look at his daughter's shuddering chest, those thoughts stopped. He knew. He knew that his rage was only a cover to what he really felt, sadness and pain.
As the realization that Ziyal would never come back to him alive dawned upon him, a slow burning fire coursed through his veins. But the feeling abruptly stopped as he looked upon Ziyal's face. It was the face of a sleeping babe, calm and peaceful. She wasn't dead, she really wasn't dead. She was sleeping and she would awake at any moment. She would awaken and laugh for him and paint for him. She was anything but dead to him. Anything.
He was a Legate now. Legate Dukat of Cardassia. He was equal to anything in the universe; he was probably superior to all. He was Legate Dukat. He was the one who brought glory and victory to the Cardassian Empire. He was Legate. He could give his daughter her heart's desire.
He held Ziyal and pressed her to his heart, as if the beating organ could beat life into her. Somehow, to his mind, it worked. To his mind, it was a father giving live to his child, a child whose life was more precious than his own was. In one arm he held her to him, her sleeping face looking up at him. In another arm, another hand clutched a strange object Sisko called a baseball. Clutching the ball hurt, but he didn't feel it. He was too busy reassuring Ziyal that everything would be all right, that once they got back to Cardassia they would be together—forever. He began to assure her. He rocked her in his arms and told her that he would build her a castle on Bajor, he would build a statue in her name. Her art would be preserved and immortalized forever. All in the universe would know her name and rightly so. Ziyal was a princess of Cardassia, his princess and no one else's.
He never even knew what happened next. He never even knew when Starfleet returned and took Ziyal away from him. He only knew that when he realized that Ziyal was dead, truly dead, he felt only grief and remorse. He looked down at his hands. One hand clutched a baseball that was well worn and belonged to someone whose respect he desperately sought to have. The other hand was cold and empty. That hand held nothing. That hand hours before held his most precious treasure, the treasure that had been stolen from him.
He stayed sitting and looking down on his hands until he heard a familiar step and saw a familiar figure. It was tall, dark, and bald: Sisko. The expression that Sisko bore was that of pity, not respect. Deep inside of himself, Dukat was enraged. Did he fight all these battles and all these wars just to be looked upon by Sisko with pity? No, he didn't. But Dukat did realize that Sisko felt sorry for him because he lost something that no one should ever have to lose. He lost a child. Dukat could accept that. He could do nothing else. He might have felt the same in Sisko's position. There was only one thing left to do. He gave the ball back.
"I forgive you too," he said and he meant it. He forgave Sisko and Weyoun and Damar and everybody in the war. It wasn't really what he wanted, but it was what Ziyal would have wanted. Peace. He did it so that her soul would rest in peace. He wanted her to rest, safely, with the knowledge that her father was not the monster that people thought he was. He wanted her to rest in peace so that he could feel at peace, so that all those close to her would feel peace as well.
It was what she would have wanted.