This story is only a little filler piece based off of Marlissa Campbell's awesome story "Skin Deep", which you need to read if you have not already. It can be found on the Trekiverse and on Arianna's Cardassian fanfiction page. Just a short little vignette involving a forlorn Dukat and a certain betrothal gift.

"You need to get a present for your bride-groom. Let's see... something personal would be traditional.... A special holo-message from you perhaps, with an engraved case to carry it in... I know just the shop!" Ren the housekeeper, Skin Deep

It was late into the night cycle now, and Dukat was finally alone. He had received notice an hour ago that Captain Sisko, and his crew, had made it into Federation space. After thoroughly berating his officers for their incompetency in failing to catch the starship, he had reported the failure to Weyoun. The Vorta's smug attitude had almost been beyond his ability to stomach. He'd had to cut the transmission short in order to keep from smashing his fist through the screen.

Mekor had finally calmed down enough to go to bed. He'd been so upset…only the news that the Federation ship was safe had helped him calm down enough to allow his exhaustion to overtake him. He'd sat there for a time, watching the boy sleep, wishing he could subsume his own worries and griefs in sleep. But he couldn't. He'd finally left the boy's side and made his way back to his own quarters. He'd wandered around it aimlessly for a bit, picking things up and putting them down. It wasn't until he'd tried to go to bed himself that the pain of reality hit him. As soon as he'd walked into his sleeping chamber, he stopped, as if struck. He could still smell her. His bed was still tousled, the bedcovers half on, the pillows still dented from where they had lain. He walked slowly over to it, like one in a dream. Slowly, slowly, he lowered himself to the side of the bed and sat, the scent of their lovemaking hovering faintly in the air. He could feel the pain in his heart, screaming for release. He shook his head in mute appeal to the darkness. He couldn't let it out…he didn't know if he'd ever be able to rein it back in if he did. He closed his eyes, pressing the heels of his palms hard into his eyes, but it didn't help. All he could see was her, eyes closed, head thrown back in abandon as he'd pleasured her. Her eyes, warm and smiling at him, for perhaps the first time ever, as he'd teased her gently about her wantonness. Her voice in his ear, crying out his name in the heat of passion.

Her eyes, glaring molten hatred at him across a room, as she heard what she thought was him denouncing her to the Dominion.

His breath caught in his chest and he leaned forward as the pain inside of him blossomed outward. The agony of the knowledge of what he had lost forever tore through him again, worse than it had after Weyoun had first led her away. He'd had Mekor to think of then and then, with Sisko's arrival, he'd had to plan a way for her escape. No way would he simply allow her to be killed if he could help it, regardless of how she now felt. But now, his mind was free to dwell, with painful clarity, upon his loss. It cut through him worse than any wound he'd ever received.

Despite everything that had happened, everything that had been said, he still loved her. It was that knowledge, coupled with the sure knowledge that he had lost any hope he had of convincing Nerys to return his feelings, that was torturing him now. He suddenly wished, fervently, that he believed enough in any deity to be able to curse them. He wanted, needed, some way to expunge the poisonous mass of feelings that were choking him now.

He surged to his feet and was out the door of the sleeping chamber before he knew it. He grabbed the first item he saw and launched it across the room, sending it crashing into the transparisteel doors that led onto the balcony. Despite the force of the blow, the glass only shivered slightly. Unreasoning anger filled him at the sight of the unbroken glass and he began grabbing every loose item he could find, hurling it with maddened force at the stubbornly unbreakable doors. The only sound in the room was the faint swish of air as the impromptu missiles sailed toward their mark and the thump and thud as they hit the glass and fell to the thick carpet below.

He reached for another missile only to note their was nothing else of tossable size in his vicinity. Then he spotted a small glass cube on the side table near the door. He grabbed for it. However, just before he drew back to vent his volatile feelings with it, something, some small glint of the light in its refractive surface caught his eye and he stopped. He looked back to where he had picked up the object and saw what he had earlier missed. There was a small white card lying just where the cube had been on the table. Unsure why, he lowered his arm and strode over to the table, cube still in hand, and picked up the card. Someone had written on it.

For the sake of tradition. I hope it is as satisfactory as was mine.

Momentarily taken aback and more than a little puzzled, he looked again at the cube in his hand. It was only then that he noted that it was a holocube, an obviously expensive, high quality one, at that.

He thumbed it on and was utterly flabbergasted when a small, holographic image of Iliana, Nerys, appeared. Hands clasped behind her back, she stood almost militarily erect.

And then she began to speak.

"Hello, Dukat. My housekeeper, Ren, suggested this as a trothing gift, since I had no idea myself what to get you. I hope it meets with your approval. (She shifted uncomfortably, crossing her arms in front of her and looked down briefly before returning her gaze to the recorder) She also said it was supposed to be a meaningful message. I really don't think we know one another well enough for any deep, meaningful messages or protestations of affection, however…"

She clasped her hands and looked down. "I know that you can be a deeply caring and loyal man, in your own way. I've seen that with your children and with your dedication to Cardassia. I give you credit for really thinking that you are doing the best for those around you (a wry smile here), not least of all, yourself.

Then she took a deep breath, looked up, straight into the recorder, and he felt as if she were speaking into his mind as she continued…in Bajoran. "But don't let that blind you to into thinking that what is best is always what is right. Power is only as good as the one who holds it. Might is only as strong as the strength of the heart who bears it. Faith in anything is only truly felt when you have nothing else to hold onto. No matter what the cost, doing what is right is always worth it in the end. Your daughter is living proof. Remember."

Then the small holo clicked off. He stood there in the middle of his shambles of a sitting room, stunned. He looked at the cube he held cradled in his hands. He played it again. And again. And again. Sinking down to his knees in the middle of the floor, he played it over so many times he lost count. He could feel the tears coursing down his cheeks, as he watched the small image speak to him, over and over and over again. This was all he had left…all he would ever have of her. This and his memories.

And then it hit him.

He jumped up, placing the cube carefully on the low table near the sofa and sprinted out the door. Before he knew it, he was standing in front of the door to her rooms. He keyed the entry code and the door swished silently open.

He stepped inside the darkened rooms. Light from the two moons glowed through the windows on the far side, just enough that he could see without needing to activate the artificial lights. He could smell her even stronger here. His heart again clenched with the same, rending agony. He was prepared for it this time though and let the pain wash through and over him. The large sitting room was quite neat, only a few PADDS on the low sofa table to give any indication that anyone had been there recently. He walked slowly through the room, noting the small room off to the left. The door was shut and he assumed that was where the housekeeper, Ren, had settled herself. The door to the right, however, stood open and it was to that room that he headed. He stepped inside the spacious bedroom and looked carefully around. There was a gown draped across the end of the bed and, like one sleepwalking, he stepped forward and picked it up. The soft Tholian silk slid sensuously across his hands. He lifted it to his face, rubbing the cool silk against his cheek and inhaling the sweet, feminine fragrance that still clung to it. With a sudden, convulsive movement, he clenched his hands and threw the gown back onto the bed. With renewed determination, he looked around the room and then walked over to an ornate, mirrored table. He picked up a box that was sitting on its top and snapped open the lid. There, nestled in its recesses, was the bracelet he had given her. He slowly closed the lid and turned to make his way out. He hesitated a moment then turned, gently retrieved the gown from where he had tossed it earlier, and quietly walked out the door, setting the locks again as he left.

He walked slowly back to his rooms, unmindful of any who might see him traversing the hall with his strange bundle. Right then, he really couldn't care less. Entering his own chamber, he walked into the bedroom and across to the wardrobe closet. Carefully, he folded the gown and placed it in the bottom of the top draw.

As slowly as an old man, he made his way to the side of the bed and wearily divested himself of his armor and clothing. Lying down, he placed the box with the bracelet and the small holocube that he had picked up on his way into the bedroom on the pillow beside him. He lay there, staring at the last vestiges of what might have been, until the orange sun began its climb into the sky.