I am so sorry that this took so long.
If there are any major mistakes, please feel free to point them out to me. I have no beta, so they are all my own doing.
Thanks so much to all who reviewed, I know that it's been a bit of a gap between postings but I've been so busy with classes and exams coming up, but after this one things should get a little more interesting! This one might be a short one, and unfortunately there is going to be a lot of dodgy dialogue – I still haven't got the hang of it. I promise it will get better later, this is the last of the scene setting chapters before we get into the real story. Oh, and anything that was mentioned in the episode Wrongs Darker than Death or Night never happened in this universe. Because I like to imagine that it never existed.
"I don't really know what to make of this Major," Sisko's confusion was clear in the tone of his voice. "When you asked for some time off, I can honestly say that I didn't expect this."
They had been back on the station for three days now and Kira had only just informed Captain Sisko of her plan. She had gotten approval from the Bajoran Militia, details omitted of course, and she knew that telling Sisko came next. However, standing in his office now, she was both dreading and hoping for a denial of her request. Because if he accepted her reasons, then that would make this situation real; she would have to explain her justifications in the face of the expected disbelief of the others – and she wasn't sure if she could maintain such an assured façade in the face of that. They wouldn't understand she thought, knowing that they would see only her and Dukat, and her inexplicable impulse to accompany him. She hadn't even told Edon where she was going, and felt a unique kind of guilt about hiding the situation from him. He had once been a great resistance leader, but in becoming the First Minister of Bajor, he had been forced to leave most of his past behind in order to lead his people, and she couldn't resent him for that - no matter how much she might have wanted to. No, she thought, there was nobody who could fully understand her motivations.
What about him? A traitorous voice whispered in her mind. He could understand.
Kira, however, pulled her mind firmly from that direction.
She wasn't in the mood to wonder about her unique situation with Dukat. She had already almost changed her mind numerous times since returning to the station; yet standing in front of Sisko she hoped she looked the picture of assurance.
Sisko sighed when Kira made no comment in the face of his obvious confusion. He stood up from his chair and walked slowly to the front of his desk.
"When Dukat came and told me what had happened, I couldn't believe it, yet here you are, corroborating everything he's said," the disbelief in Sisko's voice increased with his volume as he continued, "I mean, what possessed you to agree to this foolhardy scheme in the first place? We're trying to find a diplomatic solution to this problem with the Klingons, and here you are, my first officer, ready to go out and wage a one-man war on them with Dukat of all people! What's happened to you Kira?"
Kira stiffened at Sisko's tone. How dare he presume to tell her what she is like? Kira may not have been completely assured of the sense of her decision, but Sisko's criticism pulled her stubbornness to the fore, and she damned if he was going to treat her like she hadn't given her every waking thought to the matter. However, she reigned in her instinctive desire to fight back, and tried to address the situation calmly. Perhaps she really was depending on Sisko denying her the request. Perhaps she had hung all her hopes on him saying no, and therefore giving her an excuse to deny herself what Dukat offered. But then again, perhaps she was just scared. It didn't help that Dukat had gotten to Sisko before she had. She could just imagine the scene that must have played out between the two men; if she wasn't already dreading what was about to happen then she might have laughed at the thought – instead she cleared her throat and prepared for the worst.
"I've made my decision Captain. It's something that I need to do. Do you really think that the Klingons are going to listen to reason? Cardassia is suffering at the moment, and I have the ability to help," her combative side flared a little at the look of disbelief on his face. "I've already cleared my leave with the Bajoran Militia Captain, I will be leaving on Dukat's ship tomorrow." She ended her speech with what she hoped was a tone that brokered no argument, yet at the same time some part of her was hoping that Sisko would still deny her what she was asking.
But Sisko simply sighed tiredly and returned to the sit behind his desk. Outside the window behind his head, glittered the stars of the Alpha Quadrant – Kira briefly puzzled over which one of those illuminated pinpricks of light was Cardassia.
"I never intended on stopping you Major, I'm just confused, that's all. I don't think that you've ever willingly spent time in Dukat's presence, so I'm finding it hard to believe that you would volunteer to be aboard his ship!" Sisko's doubt still coloured his tone as he tried to wrap his mind around the idea that she was presenting. Kira's stomach lurched uncomfortably in both dread and relief when it became clear that Sisko was not going to prevent her from leaving on the bird of prey. Perhaps she had been somewhat hopeful that the Emissary would not approve of her plan.
"I know that it seems odd. But trust me when I say that I know what I'm doing."
Sisko eyed for a few moments before determining that what she said rang of the truth. He gave a resigned sigh before pulling the PADD that lay on the table towards him and signing off on Kira's leave. Kira nodded assuredly and gave no indication of her underlying fear.
"You're going to need some provisions if this is going to be an extended trip. You know what Klingon ships are like – you should speak to Julian about stocking up your medical supplies. If that state of that ship when it returned was any indication, then you're probably going to need them."
Kira held back a smile at the captain's reference; by the time they had made it back to Deep Space Nine the bird of prey was limping along at sub-light speeds with half the systems down. She could still visualise the look of horror on Chief O'Brien's face when he inspected the bridge for damage. Even now, after three days, the repairs to the ship had only just finished. Sisko was probably right to advise seeing Julian.
"I'll make sure to stop by medical," said Kira before continuing, "Did you give any thought to my other request Captain? The one about Ziyal?"
Sisko gave a quick nod before answering.
"Everything should be fine with that. I've already ordered that some quarters be set up for her," Sisko paused here, flicking his eyes back to Kira's face.
"Were you surprised, Major? When you saw that Dukat's daughter was half Bajoran?"
Kira's body stiffened at the question, and her eyes hardened.
"It was common during the occupation for officers to have Bajoran mistresses. Children like Ziyal aren't as uncommon as you would think." Kira felt slightly guilty at the deflection she offered as Dukat's tear-stained face flashed through her mind. Her old self, the resistance fighter, could never have believed that a Cardassian could cry over the grave of a Bajoran woman, cradling a pledge bracelet. What she said to Sisko was a lie; Ziyal was, perhaps, unique in this Universe.
Sisko just nodded solemnly in understanding, accepting her answer as a reasonable explanation. He probably wouldn't have been able to believe the truth anyway – Kira would not believe it either, had she not seem him with her own eyes on the desert planet.
"Is that all Captain? I should really stop by and see Julian about those supplies."
Sisko let a smile break upon his face as he got up to see Kira out of the room.
"All that's left for me to do, Major is to wish you luck. I think that you're sure as hell going to need it!"
Kira let a genuine smile form across her lips.
"Oh, you have no idea, Captain."
"I don't envy you your assignment Major," spoke Julian as he ran his eyes over the list Kira had handed him. "Working with Dukat for any length of time must be bad enough, but on a Klingon vessel as well! You're going to need as many supplies as you can carry. I don't even know if Klingons have a sick bay on their ships."
Kira breathed a sigh of relief as Julian began to walk over to the supply cupboards. She hoped that Julian's belief that she had not requested this assignment was the common one amongst the station's staff – especially those who knew her best.
Julian was muttering distractedly and pulling things off of shelves when Garak walked into the room, announcing his arrival with an exaggerated sigh. Kira didn't believe that Garak's timely visited could be considered coincidental. Julian, however, didn't seem to notice anything wrong with the Cardassian's sudden appearance.
"Doctor, I do hope you plan on keeping our further engagements, this is the second time in a row you've been late for lunch." Garak's affected tone grated on Kira's already stretched nerves.
"I know Garak, I'm sorry. I won't be long, I'm just helping the Major get some supplies together for her mission. Then we can go." Julian retreated into one of the adjoining rooms, muttering slightly as he went. Garak gave another sigh before seating himself in the corner of the room.
Kira briefly wondered how much he had heard about what she planned on doing, when a cursory at his face, and the glint in his eyes, told her all she needed to know. Her traitorous heart skipped a beat as it succumbed fully to the apprehension that Garak's presence and knowing smile evoked in her.
She averted her eyes from where Garak sat. Being left alone with him was not something that she wanted. His face remained the picture of benign innocence, but there was a strange glint in his eyes as he got up from his seat and slowly moved towards her.
Damn her mind repeated.
"This is a very kind thing, what you're doing Major, I hope that Dukat fully appreciates all that you're giving him." He stopped a few feet before her, still trying to catch her eye. Although the animosity between Garak and Dukat was well known, Garak's motivations remained as cryptic as always. It was impossible to tell what he could gain from the conversation. "I almost can't understand why you would want to go with him. You know better than anyone what he is capable of. So why would you help him?" Garak's tone had taken on a musing quality; almost as if he was simply voicing things out loud to himself. Kira couldn't help but answer him.
"I'm not doing this for him, Garak, I'm doing this for myself" Garak's face lit up as though she had just given him just the answer that he had been fishing for.
"Trying to recapture some of the old spirit, eh? 'Fighting the good fight'" Garak smiled, the picture of innocent understanding. "You do remember that he was the reason you had to learn to fight in the first place, don't you Major?"
"Of course I remember! You think that I could forget? I never will. I hate him for what he did to us. But helping him to fight, when the rest of Cardassia won't lift a finger to help, is the right thing to do. I can make a difference in this war."
Garak narrowed his eyes slightly, his face darkening as he leaned closer to her. She had lowered her guards down in her sudden outburst and he took the opportunity to lock his eyes with hers. His voice lowered to only a whisper; Julian in the other room would not hear him speak.
"Don't let him in Major, don't let him win. I don't think that I could bear it. I can see that he has already gotten to you. He's very charming, isn't he? I can see in your eyes that you're already starting to see him differently. Forgiveness can be the easiest thing in the world Major, and it is so much simpler than hating." Kira's eyes hardened.
"Don't worry about me, Garak. I know what he is. And I won't forgive him for it." Garak looked at her appraisingly; the glint had not left his eyes. She could hear Julian returning to the room and took a step back from Garak, but his eyes did not leave her own.
"Just be careful, Major," he whispered, "You're so close to slipping; I'd hate to see you fall."
She finally managed to tear her eyes away from his as he began to make his way back to where he had been sitting as Julian returned to the room. He seemed oblivious to the tension that extended between its other two occupants, but he did give Garak's ostensibly innocent figure a cursory glance.
"Alright Major, I've got everything you've asked for, " Julian looked awkward for a moment before continuing, "but I just wanted to ask you to please be careful."
Kira smiled ruefully before answering.
"Don't worry Julian, I can take care of myself"
"I didn't mean it like that. I meant about Dukat. Just… be careful with him. You know what he is capable of."
Kira's features tensed slightly before giving him a tight nod. She was getting tired of people doubting her ability to handle Dukat; she'd done it a hundred times before.
Kira thanked Julian before turning to exit the room. Garak stood up and eyed her meaningfully as she walked past him.
"Best of luck Major. I hope everything turns out for the best."
Kira gave another curt nod before leaving sickbay behind her.
Kira subtly watch the scene in front of her from afar. Dukat was saying goodbye to Ziyal in a very emotional and un-Cardassian display of affection. She could see the love for his daughter etched across the familiar lines of his face. She had been slightly surprised at the easy way that he had acquiesced to allowing Ziyal to stay aboard the station, but now she could see that his love for her, and his desire to see her safe far outweighed any notion he had of what is to be expected of a Cardassian child.
It had only been a day since Sisko had signed off on her mission, yet the ship was ready to lave and Dukat wanted to waste no time in going about their directive. Kira had packed all the supplies that she thought would be necessary for the trip, as well as a few personal items. Everything was already aboard the ship, and this was the moment for goodbyes that Kira had been so dreading. She had said goodbye to Dax and Julian already, yet she had yet to locate Odo, and was slightly anxious at what she might find hidden in his impassive features.
Dukat noticed Kira loitering just beyond the door to the docking bay and waved her over. She reluctantly walked over to where Ziyal and Dukat were standing, not wanting to intrude on the time that they had left. Dukat easily saw through her feigned confidence and gave an easy smile, subtly telling her that she was not interrupting.
"All ready Major? It's rather exciting, isn't it – the eve of battle?" Kira gave Dukat an exasperated look before turning to Ziyal.
"Did Sisko manage to locate some quarters for you?" Ziyal smiled at the concern in Kira's tone.
"Yes Nerys, everyone's been so kind, I'm sure that I'll be happy here." Kira smiled in return, yet flicked her eyes to Dukat before answering.
"They'll take care of you." Dukat's smile softened slightly, and he embraced Ziyal one more time.
"I'll come back for you" he promised, and gently released her.
"I know you will."
Kira once again felt as though she was intruding on a private moment. Such displays from Cardassians, even father and daughter, were unusual to her. But then again, she supposes that Dukat was not your typical Cardassian.
"I best leave you two to get on with your mission then," Ziyal smiled as she stepped back from Kira and Dukat, "Lieutenant Commander Dax promised to show me the holodecks". Kira smiled at the comment. She'll be alright here; everyone she knew on this station would go out of their way to make sure that Ziyal felt at home. This station must have been Ziyal's home at one point, long before any member of the Federation called it so. She would be safe here.
Ziyal left with the traditional palm-to-palm Cardassian goodbye, and Kira and Dukat left were left standing alone in the docking bay.
"Are you ready to leave now Major? The ship is ready for departure." Kira gave a cursory glance around the docking bay, hoping that Odo would come to say goodbye, before turning back to face Dukat.
"As ready as I'll ever be, " she said, resigned humour colouring her tone, "Are you ready Dukat? Getting your crew to listen to me is going to take some serious work on everybody's part."
"They'll do what their ordered to do," he muttered darkly, before continuing in a more jovial tone, "And yes Major, I am most definitely ready." He looked in the direction where Ziyal had exited before continuing in a sly tone.
"It seems to me, Major, that in more ways than one, our lives have become deeply intertwined." A teasing smile had formed on his face and Kira could not help but reciprocate.
"That really pleases you, doesn't it?"
Dukat laughed slightly before indicating that she should enter the ship. He followed behind her as she walked confidently along the gangway. As the doors were closing he answered her.
"Pleases me? Why Major, it gives me reason to live."
Kira gave a small chuckle at his affected tone, and continued to make her way deeper into the vessel. Each step that she took carried her towards an unknown future; one that she had never really considered possible. But along with that mystery, the future carried that nostalgic tang of the person she had once been. And behind her strode Dukat, the man who had played so predominantly in her past, and was now to play such an integral role in her future. She smiled slyly as she walked confidently towards this future; this time the tables were turned. He was in her world now.
The doors of the docking back swished shut behind the pair as they boarded the bird of prey. Once they were both out of site, a crate by the entrance shimmered slightly before losing its shape completely and reforming as the station's Chief of Security in humanoid form. His inscrutable features looked intently at the doors that had closed behind Kira and Dukat. He knew that he should have said goodbye to Kira properly, yet he had found himself unable and unwilling to speak to her and Dukat.
After a few moments he turned his face away from the doors, and began to exit the docking bay.
A/N: Alright, I know that this chapter wasn't particularly exciting, but it will get better from here, I promise! There was far too much dialogue in there for the standard to be maintained. I've decided to scale back the story that I intended to write, due mainly to school work, but hopefully the story isn't too affected. It just means that we get to the good stuff earlier! I already written the best scene in the story (I couldn't help but get a head of myself) and I am a little excited for it. HOWEVER, there are a few chapters between now and then, so if you can bear with me, then hopefully you won't be disappointed! Feel free to review if you enjoyed the story, but I do admit that reviews make me a little panicky, I'm so scared about what they might say, that I usually put off reading them.