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Chapter 3: Realizations

Dukat nodded and set her down gently. He races over to the computer by the replicator and attempted to make contact. "Sickbay, are you there? Sickbay are you there?"

"Sickbay here, whatever is the matter?" Bashir's voice stated.

"Kai Winn has been shot by a phaser in her quarters," Dukat explained.

"I know where that is and I can get a medical team there shortly," Bashir explained.

When Bashir arrived he stopped dead in his tracks. Kneeling beside Winn was none other than Gul Dukat. He turned to notice Bashir staring. "I made the call. She needs emergency medial assistance. Now are you going to gawk at me or help me?" Dukat explained.

"I thought you were dead!" Bashir told Dukat.

"So I keep hearing," he related flatly.

"I ought to have you shot on sight," Bashir retaliated.

"You and everybody else," Dukat dryly stated. Just then Winn looked up at Bashir.

"Doctor, this man is protected by me and you will not hurt him in any way, shape, or form," she firmly addressed before passing out.

As the medical team brought Winn to sickbay, Bashir turned back to Dukat. "If you didn't shoot her, who did?" he demanded.

Dukat sighed. "That assistant's assistant, Kavan, whom you probably passed in the hall running the other direction."

Bashir nodded. "I'd better inform security to keep an eye out for him. And you, stay here for now," he instructed.

Dukat glanced over at Winn affectionately. "You don't have to worry about that, Doctor. I have no reason to be anywhere else."

An hour later, Kira stormed into sickbay. "Well, how is Winn?" Kira asked, worried.

Bashir hesitated a moment. "She's... alright. It was just a flesh wound and I should be able to release her soon. That's not what I want you to see. Look," he pointed to Dukat, who was sitting by the unconscious Winn.

Anger and rage filled Kira's eyes. She turned to him with a look of shock. "Why didn't you shoot him on sight?" she demanded.

Bashir sighed. "Because she wouldn't let me," he explained, indicating Winn.

Kira began to pace back and forth. She ran her fingers through her hair and stomped back to Bashir. "Did she give you a reason?" Kira growled.

He sighed heavily. "I think you had better speak with her when she wakes up," he dogged her inquiry.

Kira stared at Dukat and Winn again, watching him brush her cheek with his hand. It made her stomach turn. "That's it! I want answers and I want them now!" she vexed. She marched over to Dukat before Bashir could stop her.

Dukat looked up from Winn to see an infuriated Kira glaring at him. "Hello, Colonel. I'm sorry we keep meeting under unpleasant circumstances," he spoke smoothly.

"You're going to be a heck of a lot sorrier if you don't tell me what's going on!" she barked.

Dukat glanced at Winn before facing Kira again. "I came aboard the station disguised as a Bajoran with the intention of turning her away from the Prophets. But they found me, showed me the error of my ways, and now I am not the man I once was," he began.

She slapped him across the face, causing a red streak to appear. "You should be dead! Why in the world would she want you alive? You're a monster!" she screamed.

"Believe me, Colonel. You are not the first person to wish me dead within the last few hours," he conveyed.

Kira suddenly glanced at the biobed as Winn stirred. She slowly sat up and looked around the room. Kira did not miss the endearing look that passed between Winn and Dukat. But then Winn turned her attention to Kira.

"Child, I can imagine how all this must look. As soon as I am released, we will have a nice chat in my quarters," Winn explained.

Kira sauntered off in a huff to talk to Bashir. "So you plan to release her soon?" she questioned. Bashir nodded. "What are we supposed to do about Dukat?" she asked with irritation.

As Kira was fuming about the situation, Dukat and Winn were quietly discussing the past events. He gently embraced her. "I'm so sorry you were injured," he conveyed.

She pulled back from him enough to gaze into his eyes. She smiled sweetly. "As I told you, it wasn't your fault. You have to stop blaming yourself," Winn tried to ease his discomfort.

"But if I had never gone to you-" Winn did not allow Dukat to finish his statement.

"If you hadn't come to me, I would still be a corrupt leader too blind to recognize my own infirmities to actually be a help to anyone else. I'm glad you found me," she consoled.

"But you should not have been-" she placed her thumb over his mouth.

"It wasn't your fault," she told him. Winn moved her thumb pulled him closer to her. "It's not your fault," she reassured as she kissed him warmly.

Kira watched the scene in horror. Bashir sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I really don't know. But I think this matter should be discussed by Winn and Sisko," Kira rolled her eyes and sighed.

"I'll talk to him," she stated dryly.

Sisko set down the crew report he had been reading as Kira marched into his office.

"Captain, we've got a big problem. Dukat's on the station and the former Kai Winn is protecting him!" she screamed.

Sisko's eyes opened wide. "Why didn't anybody shoot him on sight?" he demanded.

"Because for a reason I'm not certain of, Winn is protecting him," she reiterated. After pausing she added quietly, "I also think they might be romantically involved."

Sisko seethed and looked away for a moment. "I suppose that means I have to talk to her. Do you know anything else?" he inquired, facing her again. She shook her head.

Just then the combadge beeped. "Bashir to Kira, Winn has been released and is in her quarters."

"Thanks, Julian. Kira out," she responded.

Sisko met Kira's eyes. "Let's go," they decided simultaneously.

Dukat had brought Winn a glass of water when the door chimed. She stood to answer it. "Ah, Emissary, come and have a seat," she paused and noticed Kira behind him. "You too, child, come in," she welcomed them. Dukat felt his nerves begin to rattle. He quickly moved toward the door.

"I really should return to work now," he stated, dashing from the room.

With Dukat gone, Sisko faced Winn. "Can I get you anything to eat or drink?" Winn asked him.

He shook his head, his eyes staring at Winn, as if he could dissect her where she sat. "Enough with the pleasantries, Winn. Have you lost your mind? You are protecting Gul Dukat! Why?" Sisko questioned.

Winn looked abashed. She realized she could not tell the Emissary everything, but she could explain enough to him. "Please try to understand, the Prophets told him to repent of his deeds. He did that and they forgave him, but they also wanted me to forgive him because only a Kai can offer a person life-long protection. He also had to ask my forgiveness so I would realize what a corrupt leader I had become," she could not look at Sisko, not now. She knew he was still angry and would not understand if she told him everything.

Sisko slammed his hand down on her table. "But he's Dukat! He's killed who knows how many-" she did not let him finish.

"He is not the man he was. He has genuinely changed," she argued adamantly.

"Dukat has played these tricks before! And how can you believe that this is what the Prophets wanted?" he spat.

Winn glared at him. "Because for the first time in a great many years, I spoke with them when I went to the orb!" she declared.

At that moment Sisko found himself in his office, but a familiar bright light shinned from the window. A woman he knew well walked toward him. "Sarah," he whispered. She nodded.

"Benjamin, you need to believe Winn. We want Dukat to stay here on the station, with her. That way neither one of them will be a threat to you," she explained.

Sisko was not satisfied. "But why can't we just kill him? It's what he deserves," he pointed out.

"That may or may not be true. But Benjamin, we did not teach you revenge. That was something you bound yourself too from bad experiences. Listen, learn from the past so as not to repeat it. And do not take revenge. You have a difficult journey still to travel and you will need everything you are to succeed in it," she told him.

Then he was back in the room with Winn and Kira staring at him. "Are you alright?" Kira inquired.

"Yes," he answered humbly. He turned back to Winn. "I owe you an apology. You were telling the truth about what was said to you," with that he left. Kira sat down next to Winn.

"Are you angry too, child?" Winn asked her.

She knew Kira could figure out that she had not told the Emissary everything. Kira sighed and smiled sadly. She took Winn's hand. "You left something out, didn't you?" she whispered.

Winn had endured the past days without allowing herself to cry. Now, alone with the person who knew her best, she permitted a few tears to fall. Quickly brushing them away, she returned to the question. "Child, you know me better than anyone else, and you always have. Yes, I hid something. I can only request that you do not hate me after I tell you. There was something that drew me to him, perhaps that we shared the same flaws. Whatever it was, and I do not think either one of us actually meant for it to happen, but we fell in love. Child, I love him very much. I'm not asking you to understand, nor do I expect you to. I'm only asking you not to be angry," she pleaded.

The news overwhelmed Kira with disgust. But she did not want to hurt Winn. "I won't be angry," she assured her. Then they hugged and Kira left quietly to deal with her own thoughts and emotions.

Winn was still seated on the couch when Dukat returned. He entered and walked over to her. "Adami," he whispered as he sat next to her.

She slowly turned to face him and he knew she had been crying. He embraced her. "What happened?" he asked with concern. He brushed the tears off her cheeks.

"I'm alright, really. I just worry that I have disappointed Nerys. She looks up to me and I think I have caused her to doubt what she knows as proper conduct and morality. I just hope I haven't done too much damage," she admitted, clinging to him.

"Do you regret resigning the position of Kai?" he inquired.

Their eyes met. "No," she answered in a whisper.

"Do you regret what has happened between us?" he questioned.

She shook her head and smiled. "Definitely not."

"Then why are you upset?" he asked in a whisper. She smiled again and wrapped her arms around his neck. He kissed her deeply.

She answered when the kiss ended. "I'm not now." She looked into his eyes. "I love you. Don't ever leave me," she whispered.

"I won't. I love you too. I want to spend every day with you," he replied. Abruptly his eyes widened. "I have an idea. What if we were married?"

"The Emissary would never agree to that," Winn remarked.

"Then we'll find somebody who will," Dukat answered, grinning.

"I agree," she murmured. He pulled her toward him and kissed her with passion.

When they pulled away, he turned on a screen to see the latest news on Bajor. Dukat and Winn stared at the screen, questioning what they had just heard. "I can't believe Solbor is Kai," Dukat stated.

Winn raised an eyebrow. "He shouldn't be. I don't remember suggesting him," she worried. She stood and was walking to her room to find a PADD of whom she did suggest when she passed Solbor's room.

She had closed the door since he left, but for some reason felt compelled to open it. Dukat followed her and they gasped when the doors slid to the sides. "He certainly did not clean very well," Dukat remarked as he stepped over a broken table.

Winn looked at Solbor's bookshelf and noticed that he had left several books. "That's strange. He left all the books pertaining to the Prophets," she commented.

Dukat was walking toward her when he almost stepped on a small statue. "Adami, you'd better take a look at this," he suggested.

"That is an artifact belonging to sects of the Pah wraiths. I have a bad feeling that Bajor is in trouble," she relayed.

"We'd better tell the Emissary," Dukat advised.



Captain Sisko left in the Defiant to tackle the Dominion before Dukat and Winn could reach him. Upon his return, Dukat and Winn were married by him before he suddenly left again for Bajor. Sisko dealt with Solbor in the Fire Caves and they fell into the chasm. He found himself with the Prophets while Winn and Dukat lived out their natural lives on Deep Space 9. Winn nominated Colonel Kira for the position of Kai. Though reluctant, when the results of the election were in Kira's favor, she accepted the position.