To The Journey

Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it's not mine. This is an AU story.

Chapter Thirty: Who Knows?

"Hello."

Tasha nearly fell from the balcony. "You been taking lessons from Julian?" she asked the woman who had apparently appeared out of thin air. "He's always doing it."

"You learn to be inconspicuous when you know that no one would react well to seeing you." She stepped a bit more into the light, and Tasha recognized her, and immediately understood the sentiment.

"Ziyal, right?"

"Yes. I've been looking for you." She looked Tasha in the eyes. "Tasha Yar, if I'm not much mistaken. Julian tells me you saved my life."

"He underestimates his own role. He saved you. I just got you to the right place at the right time." She glanced over her shoulder again at the thought, smiling to herself.

"What? What are you looking at?"

"Julian." Tasha pointed down to Quark's Bar, which was empty due to the late hour except for a few staff, a Lurian who never seemed to be anywhere but the bar and had a reputation for talking people's ears off, and a human couple sitting at one of the tables: Julian Bashir and Jenna D'Sora, deep in conversation and oblivious to the world.

"That's sweet." Ziyal smiled. "He deserves that."

"You know him well?"

"Somewhat. Mostly through Garak, but you see, the friendship those two have - it's special. Julian was pretty much the only person to really accept Garak when the Federation first took over the station. Oh, Garak would never acknowledge that any of this is significant to him, but I know it is." Ziyal smiled a little. "Like you. He'd never acknowledge that the way you treat him means anything at all, but it does come up in casual conversation from time to time, and if there's one thing I know about Garak it's that he doesn't say anything he thinks is unimportant."

"I couldn't do anything else. Garak was - a small light in a very dark place. What he did was incredibly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it meant the world to me."

"What? What is it he did?"

"He was kind to me - at a time when I was surrounded by people who enjoyed being cruel. His first - his first words to me were 'Don't worry. I won't hurt you.' I don't think he could ever fully appreciate how much that meant to me in that moment."

"Who knows? There's a lot about Garak that only Garak knows." Ziyal smiled. "There aren't many Cardassians, exiled or otherwise, who would accept me. For that matter, the number of Bajorans who would is limited too. Women like my mother were considered collaborators by Bajor and the Cardassians saw them as fit to use as concubines but not fit to actually make a part of the family - not fit to bear the children of Cardassian men. Haven't you ever wondered why there aren't more of us?"

"I guess I never really thought about it."

"A lot of Bajoran 'comfort women' were forced to undergo sterilization. Those that weren't were almost all made to use birth control injections. If a woman did become pregnant, chances were she wouldn't be allowed to carry to term, regardless of her own wishes. In the few cases where a child was actually born, they were either killed outright or mother and child were sent back to Bajor or to a labor camp. I know my father is far from perfect, recent events have showed that all too well, but he is the only Cardassian I know of that actually kept his half-Bajoran child and her mother, that tried to send us to safety instead of condemning us to death when he knew he couldn't keep us around any longer, who decided instead of killing me to claim me openly, knowing he would lose his position and his family for it."

"Ziyal, he's insane," Tasha burst out. "Insane and cruel! How can you defend him?"

"I don't defend what he's done, except to say that when you say he's insane, I think you're more right than you realize. He's always been a little unstable - thinking back, I know that now. But he truly did love my mother - did love me. When we went missing on our way to Lissepia, I think it loosened a few of those screws. Power became his new love, and he became greedy, and that caused him to do a lot of unconscionable things. For awhile, when he found me again, I trumped that. He gave his power up for me. But it had become a - a sort of addiction. I don't know if you know anything about addiction -"

"Too much," Tasha cut in.

"Then you know that even when a person appears to have overcome the addiction, the cravings are still there. If tempted too harshly, even someone who's been clean for a long time can relapse. That's what happened to him. The Dominion dangled the prospect of a return to power in front of him, and he wasn't strong enough to refuse. For what it's worth," she added, "if I'd known what he was up to, I would have tried to talk him out of it - which is very possibly why he didn't tell me."

"Oh, Ziyal, I don't blame you for your father's actions. I just - it's going to be a long time before I can find it in my heart to forgive what he did to me, if I ever can."

"When you said you were surrounded by people who enjoyed being cruel - was my father one of those people?"

Tasha was tempted for a moment to lie, but the look on the half-Cardassian girl's face pleaded for a straight answer. "I'm sorry, Ziyal."

"I asked, didn't I?" she replied sadly. "What did he do?"

"I don't like to talk about it."

"Please. I have to know." Tears were forming in her eyes. "I have to know the truth."

Tasha bit down hard on her lower lip before answering. The terror of those five days had never ceased to haunt her, and she wasn't sure it ever would. "He had his guards beat me. He didn't want any significant information - he just wanted to hurt me. Then he ordered the guards out, and he - he -"

"Oh, gods." Tasha could see by the look on Ziyal's face that she had put it together, and she was relieved that she didn't have to say it out loud.. "I'm so sorry."

"You know I don't blame you."

"But still, my father. And Garak knew about this?"

"Yes."

"Excuse me." She hurried off.

"Tasha?"

"Data!"

"Are you all right?"

"What are you doing here?" she asked even as she turned into him, slipping her arms around his neck in a silent plea to be held. "I thought you were with Worf."

Data grimaced a little. "As things stand at this moment, there will be no wedding."

"What?"

"Part of the Klingon tradition is that the matron of the house must accept all women who marry in; in this case, Lady Sirella. Jadzia made a bad impression on Sirella, she refused to allow Jadzia to join."

Tasha shook her head. "It's too bad. They were so clearly made for each other." She bit her lip. "Maybe I can talk to Sirella, make her see reason."

"If anyone can, I truly believe it is you." He smiled at her. "I love you, you know."

"You bet I know. And the feeling's completely mutual."

"What is wrong?"

She shook her head in amazement. "Never could fool you, could I?"

"Rarely."

Burying her head in his shoulder, she told him about Ziyal's inquiries. He gently ran his hands up and down her back, trying to soothe her. He could feel that she was shaking a little even as she tried to hide it.

"You are safe, darling," he whispered. "It is all right now. You are all right." He gently hooked one arm behind her knees and lifted her. "Data to Enterprise. Two for site-to-site transport directly to my quarters."

xxxxxxxxx

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Garak looked up at the young woman who had just burst into his shop. "I might be able to tell you that, my dear," he replied, "if you would tell me what you're talking about."

"I've just been speaking with Tasha Yar, and she happened to mention why she hates my father, and that you knew about it. You knew what he'd done, what he was capable of. Why didn't you say anything?"

"Ziyal, Ziyal." Garak shook his head sadly. "You were so young, so naive, and you loved your father so much. How could I have destroyed that innocence?"

"Better then letting me find out on my own from one of his victims!" She took a swing at him, connecting solidly with his face. He turned his head with the blow but otherwise didn't respond. She slapped him again, and the result was the same.

"By all means," he said calmly, "continue to hit me if it will make you feel better."

"It won't." The fight drained out of her. "It's not you I want to hit."

"I know."

"How can he do something like that? How can he be so caring towards me and so cruel towards someone else?" Her eyes were full of tears. "How is it that after all these years, I feel like I never knew him at all?"

"I don't know." He shrugged aside his normal aversion to contact and put an arm around her shoulders. "But Ziyal, I know he genuinely loved you."

"And that changes anything?"

"That's up to you."

They sat in silence for a long time.

xxxxxxxxx

"Lady Sirella?"

"Do I know you?"

"No. Tasha Yar, I'm a friend of Worf's."

"I assume this has something to do with the wedding?"

"Yes." She fixed Sirella with a look. "Why did you tell Jadzia she couldn't be a member of your house?"

"She has no regard for the house. She is weak, she contradicts me, and she openly flaunts the history of my family line. She had the audacity to state that my grandmother, the Emperor's daughter, was in fact nothing more than a concubine given the name of the true daughter in order to create an illusion of the line."

"Is it true?" Tasha asked pointedly.

"That is beside the point."

"Are you listening to yourself? You're faulting her for telling the truth because it's not what you want to believe! That doesn't seem like an honorable attitude to me."

"What do you know of honor? Of the struggles the Klingon people have faced over the years? What do you know of the strength needed to overcome overwhelming odds?"

"I could ask you the same question," she shot back, suddenly aware of how she could play this to get Sirella to at least hear her out. "You grew up having armies at your family's beck and call, ready to attack at the slightest sign of dishonor, to say nothing of an actual threat to your life."

"And you, who grew up in the stronghold of the Federation, had so much less?"

"You're wrong," Tasha countered. "The Federation isn't all a palace of privileged and overprotected people. My home planet self-destructed when I was a child. I spent the next ten years just trying to survive, on my own mind you, not with some army to protect me. There were people out on that planet out to attack or kill anyone they could for no reason at all, just because it gave them a thrill. So you can see how, compared to me, your own life seems pampered."

Sirella was silent for a long moment, and Tasha was gratified. It was clear that she'd really gotten to the Klingon woman. "What is your point?" she said finally. "Why do you tell me this?"

"Two reasons. The first," she admitted, "is to get your attention. I knew you think of humans as weak and contemptible, and that if you thought I was some spoiled child of the Federation you'd never hear me out."

Something flashed across Sirella's face that might have been a smile. "You have quite the measure of my character, I must say. And the second reason?"

"To make a point. Anyone can seem inadequate or weak if the standards are set high enough, even Lady Sirella of the house of Martok. You don't like the idea of a non-Klingon marrying into the family, so you're determined to find fault. You've set her a test that you know she'll fail because you want her to fail. Then you'll have an excuse to exclude her."

"The rituals are traditional!"

"But the criteria to judge success or failure are subjective."

Sirella said nothing, which Tasha took as a good sign. She was listening.

"You don't like Jadzia because she's not Klingon. It's as simple as that. But you don't want to say that, so you come up with a whole series of other reasons, a lot of tests with subjective results, so you can say something else."

"Why does Worf insist on marrying - that? Is no Klingon woman good enough for him?"

"In a lot of minds, Worf isn't good enough for any Klingon woman." She watched Sirella for the subtle reaction she suspected was coming. She wasn't disappointed; Tasha plowed on. "Including yours, if I'm not mistaken. Worf may be Klingon by blood, but he is also a Starfleet officer, and because of that he's too human for you. Even though, if anything, he's more Klingon than Klingon."

"How is that?" It was clear she hadn't seen this side. She was genuinely interested now. Tasha pressed the advantage.

"Worf bases his Klingon identity on an ideal. If I had to count all the times I've heard him say 'A Klingon does not...' , it would take me at least an hour. And then I spend time around people like your husband and I realize that real Klingons do a lot of those things Klingons supposedly don't do - like smile and laugh." Martok had found ways to smile even in the dark time in the internment camp. Seeing that had made her see keenly that Worf, who didn't crack a smile even on the rare occasion he beat Will Riker at poker, was far from the norm. "He feels deficient, and he overcompensates."

"He has been exiled from the Klingon Empire on two occasions."

"In the first case, he was doing it to protect the Empire. The crime his father supposedly committed was actually committed by the father of Duras, which Gowron knew when he reinstated Worf's family honor. On the second, I think what he did was more honorable than anything. He held onto the truth and his values even under pain of exile. You and I both know there were no Founders on Cardassia. There was a Founder in Gowron's inner circle, trying to force the Klingons to turn against Cardassia, to get us fighting each other so we wouldn't unite to fight them. Worf saw that the Empire was on a self-destructive path, and he refused to go along. He made his own judgment and stuck to it. Your husband recognized this in him. But that's the real problem, isn't it?" she added, seeing Sirella's subtle reaction and deciding to run with it. "Jadzia's not your real problem; Worf is. You don't like that Martok added Worf to your family, but you have no control over that, so you're using what power you have to contain that as much as you can. Frankly, you seem more vengeful than objective." She turned and walked out before Sirella could respond, leaving the Klingon to consider her words.

xxxxxxxxx

Cheers consumed the Promenade. Tasha beamed, glad that after all the challenges the wedding had in fact come to fruition.

Worf had gone to Jadzia and tried to patch things up, but Jadzia had shown her own stubbornness and rebuffed him, making everyone think the wedding, and in fact the entire relationship, was down the drain. It had been Ben Sisko, Jadzia's oldest friend, who had finally talked her around.

Sirella had performed the wedding ceremony. Tasha had been glad to see that. Sirella had given the traditional wedding ceremony, and then added to one of the traditional lines, "To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts," a soft "Not even me" before going on with the ceremony.

At the moment, Martok, Chief O'Brien, Julian, Sisko, Data, and Alexander were attacking the couple with soft sticks, apparently a ritual designed to commemorate something-or-other in Klingon history, as the rest of the crowd clapped and cheered.

The attack broke up and the reception began. Tasha found herself swept up by Data and pulled onto the dance floor. Nearby, Julian was dancing with Jenna. The blonde security officer caught Tasha's eye and smiled.

"In five weeks, three days, and five days," Data whispered in her ear, nodding towards Worf and Jadzia who were dancing together, "that will be us."

She smiled, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "Yes, Data. That will be us."

Hey, I'm back! Sorry for the delay.

This chapter references the TNG episode Reunion and the DS9 episodes The Way of the Warrior, Indiscretion and You Are Cordially Invited.

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