oOo

Dukat passed Odo as he headed for his ship. He'd been expecting the shapeshifter to be lurking about. He debated for a moment the idea of simply continuing on as if he hadn't seen the security chief, then dismissed it. The constable could be annoyingly persistent when he wanted something. "Why Odo, imagine meeting you here."

"Yes, what an interesting coincidence," Odo agreed smoothly. "I gather you're on your way to your quarters now?"

"Back to my ship, actually, since I've concluded my business here on the station," Dukat replied with a forced smile. Neither of them commented on the fact that they were in the area of the habitat ring reserved for Bajoran and Starfleet personnel and their families. Which was just as well; Dukat wasn't sure he was up to more sparring with Odo, not after the performance he'd just given Major Kira.

Odo studied his face for a moment. "You're injured. Perhaps you should see Dr. Bashir before you go."

Odo sounded suspicious, as well he might. He no doubt was concerned that his own part in this evening's machinations had been revealed, and if Major Kira was even now, what was the term? Oh, yes, gunning for him. Humans had such a quaint turn of phrase at time. Quaint, but apt. "I'm fine, just a minor…misunderstanding."

He hid another smile while he briefly toyed with the idea of keeping the shapeshifter in suspense, before dismissing it. Odo would simply persist until he found out what he wanted to know, and Dukat was too drained from his encounter with Nerys to want to drag this out any longer, too disappointed at how things had turned out, even with the kiss as a small compensation.

The plain fact of the matter was, he felt a sense of gratitude to Odo for informing him of Nerys' plans, however he'd had discovered them in the first place. He supposed he owed it to the security chief to give him a straight answer.

Sort of.

"Despite the…misunderstanding," he said lightly, "I can honestly say that things did, indeed, turn out as I had predicted. As I said, my business on this station is concluded, and my ship will be departing in the morning." He offered a slight incline of the head by way of indicating the conversation was over. "And now, if you'll excuse me…"

Odo watched him go, then hesitated a moment before returning to his quarters, debating whether or not to stop by Kira's on the way. He decided against the idea; no matter what excuse he gave, the timing would be far too coincidental, and her suspicions would be aroused. Not that she would believe him to be in cahoots with Dukat, but she might begin to wonder about Dukat's abrupt about-face, and that wouldn't do. No, she was better off never knowing his part in all this.

Instead, he headed for Quark's bar, an anticipatory smile on his face. It hadn't taken much for him to figure out which aphrodisiac Major Kira had acquired from Quark, and J'varh was still a controlled substance, at least in Bajoran space. It wouldn't hurt to remind Quark about those facts, to let him sweat a little, as Chief O'Brien would put it.

He strolled along; the evening, after all, was still young-and there was nothing he enjoyed more than tormenting Quark.

Epilogue

Odo was waiting as Sisko stepped off the shuttle two days later. "Commander."

"Constable," Sisko returned the greeting. "It's good to be back."

Odo fell into step as the station commander continued walking. "Was your mission successful?"

Sisko nodded. "Finally, after many concessions from both sides, a trade agreement has been reached between Bajor and the Hitari. Now that they are finally down to merely agreeing on language rather than content, I have been graciously informed that my services are no longer required." He paused. "At least, my services are no longer required in that matter. Is there anything here I need to concern myself with? For instance, that matter we discussed before I left. Has it been dealt with?" He tried to sound casual, but Odo could hear the deep concern in Sisko's voice.

"Everything's been taken care of, Commander," Odo assured him. "The Maquis activity has died down, station repairs have helped reduce the rash of petty theft and pilfering that was occurring, and that final matter was concluded satisfactorily."

"Good," was Sisko's heart-felt response. "I had a feeling you'd be able to take care of it." He stopped, held out his hand and shook Odo's warmly. "I knew I could count on you." He patted Odo on the shoulder and smiled, then turned toward a side corridor. "If you'll excuse me, there's someone I promised to see as soon as I returned."

Odo watched Sisko head down the corridor toward the quarters he shared with his son, Jake. A son who had seen very little of his father recently, and who would be more than happy to see him safely home again. "All's well that end's well," Odo murmured.

No doubt that was how Chief O'Brien would have put it.