Chapter 2

They had been sitting there for awhile before Ziyal finally stirred. She was rather reluctant to move. She had not sat thus since the return trip from the Dozaria system. It was comforting to her to realize that, even though she had grown and things had changed so much, she still fit on her father's lap. She took a deep breath. He even smelled the same as she remembered from her childhood. But she knew they couldn't avoid whatever unpleasantness that had occurred forever. Lifting her head from her father's chest so she could see him she asked the question that had been pressing on her mind.

"Father, what happened?"

Dukat wasn't particularly surprised by the question and had managed to pull himself together enough that he could answer his daughter without any obvious emotion.

"I went to see my wife."

Ziyal was a little shocked by this. While she had known, in a rather detached way, that her mother and father were not married, this was the first time it really struck her that her father actually DID have a wife...and that woman was not the one she had called "mother". She felt rather sorry for that woman and her children. Her own half-brothers and sisters. While she had a rather sudden and desperate desire to meet them, she was practical enough to realize that that was probably not going to happen. She knew enough about Cardassian culture to know that much, at least.

Swallowing hard, she asked, "I take it she did not greet you with open arms?"

He gave a dry laugh in appreciation of his child's sangfroid.

"No. No she did not."

Ziyal waited for a moment to see if he would elaborate on this statement. When he did not, she knew it must have been bad. She knew her father's penchant for rambling. For him to say so little was a sure sign that he was troubled by whatever had occurred.

Dukat did not want Ziyal to know what had transpired between him and his wife. He realized her curiousity was most likely eating her alive but this was one occasion when he refused to indulge her curious mind. The events of this morning were not ones that needed to be shared with his young and tenderhearted daughter. He knew she would end up feeling responsible and she had enough to deal with for the moment without adding more. Resolutely, he roused himself from his painful musings and sat up. Or at least, he tried to.

"Ziyal, I think it is time we shifted positions. I've lost communications with my left leg and most of my right."

With a small giggle, she scooted off his lap and back onto the sofa so that he could move. Dukat pushed himself to the edge of his seat and sat there, grimacing as he tried to work some feeling back into his legs. Stubbornly pushing the memory of the morning away from conscious thought, Dukat looked over at his daughter. She sat in a little heap on the other end of the sofa, eyes bright and her mobile face grinning mischievously. She was still attired in her nightclothes and her hair was sticking out in a frowzy mess. She was adorable. His mind suddenly brought forth the image of her as a small child, sitting in just the same manner in the quarters they had occupied on Terok Nor. He blinked as his mind tried to superimpose that image over her now. With a faint pang, he realized once again that his little girl was no longer a little girl. She was a young woman. Not only that, but she was a young woman of better than average looks and possessed of a father who was suddenly swamped with the determination to see her outfitted as a woman of her position should be. By all the Guls, he may be in disgrace but he still held a certain position in society and he was still, despite his mother's attempts, a wealthy man. Bolstered somewhat by determination, he looked questioningly at Ziyal.

"So, my dear, did you have anything planned for today?"

Ziyal smiled wryly, "I don't know enough about anything to plan anything."

"Good, because in that case, we're going shopping."

Her wry smile turned wary.

"For what?"

"For whatever you wish, although I think I must insist first that we purchase you something to wear. Your replicated items were good enough for shipboard, but you will need much more than that now that we are home."

Ziyal had no wish to disrupt her father's better spirits but clothes shopping was not high on her list of things to do. As far as she was concerned, as long as she was decently covered and clean, what she wore mattered very little. She was far more interested in seeing what there was of natural beauty on Cardassia.

She asked cautiously, "How much is 'much more', Father?"

"We'll just have to make that determination as we go."

Noting the determined note in her father's voice, Ziyal knew it would be useless to argue. That, also, was something she remembered well. Her father was probably one of the most stubborn beings alive once he set his mind on something. She had seen her mother go up against him many a time. It was like beating your head against a duranium wall. Resigning herself to the necessity of a shopping trip she determined that she would make it as enjoyable-and as short-as possible.

Wearily, she got up of the sofa.

"Well, I suppose I shall go and get dressed then."

Her father waved her away, "I'll just make a list of where we need to go. Take your time, we have all day." With that, he stood up and began looking around for a PADD. Ziyal didn't need any other incentive to hurry; the quicker she dressed, the less time he would have to plan.