A big thanks to all of you who have been following this story, especially 0afan0, thyme2read, njmrtl, JustaCrazy-Man, TheAfricanAmericanQueen, and deeply-spaced! I really appreciate your reviews, y'all!
In an effort to smooth things over, Setal offered to treat Elpida's family to some drinks at Quark's. They arranged for Lysander to meet them there.
"So we are going to get some snazzy, cheap-ass drinks." Paris was giddy with anticipation.
Elpida was on the verge of panic. It was all going to blow up in their faces—she just knew it. But before she could protest, Setal gave her his disarming, "trust me, my darling" look. He held his hand out to her.
If anyone could get them through this, it was he. She did trust him, so she figured she should at least give him the opportunity to try. It wasn't like she had a better idea of how to remedy the situation. Taking his hand, she followed him.
"So, what is it that you do—'Sotol,' is it?" It was plain to Elpida that her mother really didn't care about getting his name right.
"Setal, ma'am," he corrected politely.
"Oh, whatever...what do you do?" Despite her earlier declaration, she still didn't approve. Penelope was merely biding her time until her husband showed up. Then they would play the "good guy/bad guy" game, taking turns letting Elpida have it. That was the way they always operated.
Setal remained undeterred. "I'm a diplomatic aide to Senator Cretak."
"Oh...that sounds important."
"It is important," the Romulan assured her confidently.
They walked into Quark's and sat down at a table. From across the room, Julian Bashir gave them a thumbs up. Elpida smiled back nervously. The owner came to take their orders.
"Well, if it isn't Mr. Snazzy Cheap-Ass himself!" Paris declared.
Quark turned his mother and bared his sharp, pointy teeth. "Your kid shows promise."
Penelope shuddered. "Give me ouzo," she said, waving him away.
"Sorry, we're fresh out of ouzo" That was a strike one.
"Well, bring me some wine," she said impatiently, "I don't care what is it as long as it's from Earth."
"May I make a suggestion, Mrs. Anthane?" Setal offered.
"Yes?" she narrowed her eyes.
"Romulan ale is comparable to ouzo," he said.
For a moment, it looked as though she was going to actually consider trying it, but then Lysander appeared.
The man pointed at Setal accusingly. "So you're the alien freak trying to corrupt my daughter, are you? I demand that you give up this sick, abominable idea immediately!" he said in a booming voice for all to hear.
But Setal wasn't going to take it lying down. "As long as Elpida wants me, I will not abandon her," he returned unflinchingly.
Seeing that he wasn't going to get what he wanted from the suitor, he turned instead to his daughter. "End it! Now! And promise me you'll never see him again."
By now, everyone else in the bar was watching them with great interest.
Elpida held Setal's hand tightly. "I won't," she said calmly. "I love him, father."
Lysander couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Child, have you lost your senses completely? He's a Romulan, you're a human!"
"I don't care!"
"You're really going to marry one of your grandfather's murderers?" He was on the edge of flying into a rage.
"He's not a murderer!"
"Will you talk some sense into this girl?" he screamed to his wife. "She's rationalizing this whole thing! Willful blindness! She can't even see that we care more about her than she cares about herself!"
Enough was enough. Setal quickly pulled Elpida behind him. "I will not allow you to continue to yell at the lady I love, sir."
"You're not going to allow?" he shouted in disgust. "You don't love her—you aren't even capable of love! She's my daughter, Romulan. I'll yell at her when she needs it!"
"We're just passionate because we care about you, honey," Penelope averred with false meekness.
"If you truly cared about her, you wouldn't humiliate her in this disgraceful fashion," Setal snapped back. To Elpida, he said in a more gentle tone, "You were right; there's no reasoning with them. Let me take you away from here."
Elpida nodded and Setal led her to the door.
"Well, I won't see you in hell, you ungrateful hussy!" Lysander moved to follow, but he was stopped by Julian.
"Shut up, man," Elpida heard the doctor tell him. "You're making humanity look bad."
"I'll say," Leeta piped up, "I thought humans were supposed to be past racism."
Elpida didn't hear anymore. They were outside on the Promenade. Tears were blurring her vision, so she simply held onto Setal's hand and let him guide her. She was so upset she didn't even wonder where they were going.
Setal brought her to his quarters and sat her on the couch. He left for a few seconds and came back with a glass of water. "I'm sorry," he said, "At least we tried." He dried her tears with a handkerchief. "I want to show you something."
He lifted his shirt to reveal a large scar on his ribs.
Elpida gasped. "How did you get that?"
"I was going to tell you this sooner, but then your family came, and I didn't want to add to your uneasiness. It is from when my younger sister stabbed me."
"My family is in the middle of a blood feud," he explained, "Or at least they were, until the war interrupted it."
She blinked. "You didn't have the scar removed?"
"No. I kept it to remind myself of why I never wanted to live on Romulus again. You see, as soon as the war is over, the feud will resume once more."
Elpida sat in his lap and put her arms around his neck. "Oh, Setal. I'm so sorry."
"Now do you understand why I don't think your family is so bad? They are ill-behaved, I'll grant you that. And yes, they are worse than I had anticipated. But at least they aren't cutthroats." He smiled hopefully, "Perhaps they'll come around at a later time."
"I don't care. I never want to see them again."
"I have no objections to that. Oh," he said suddenly, "I almost forgot." He reached into his pocket and pulled out an exquisite diamond ring.
Elpida was in awe. "Setal..." she breathed.
He got onto one knee. "I am officially asking you to marry me, my beautiful Elpida."
"Yes! Yes!" As soon as he slid the ring onto her finger, she dropped to the floor and hugged him.
"I feel like I'm dreaming." He lifted her chin up and kissed her.
The door chimed. It was Julian.
"Hope I'm not interrupting anything," he grinned, holding his hands behind his back.
"Of course not," Setal said with a sarcastic smile.
The doctor cleared his throat. "Given all that's happened, the gang and I wanted to take the two of you to Vic's to cheer you up."
"Vic's?" asked Setal. "Where is that? I've never heard of it."
Julian's grin grew wider. "That's because it's an exclusive club known only to a few of us DS9-ers."
"We're getting married!" Elpida announced to the group gathered in the holosuite nightclub.
Everyone admired Elpida's ring, and offered Setal their congratulations.
"Oh, Elpida, you sly thing," Leeta said excitedly.
After a few minutes, Julian stood up. "I'd like to make a toast," he said, holding up his glass. "Setal, Elpida's a lovely person. She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one." Everyone laughed, and even Setal had to appreciate the doctor's humor. "Elipida," Julian continued, "love reminds you that nothing else matters."
"Here, here!" The others cheered.
The applause died down, and Elpida gave him a hug. "Thank you, Julian," she whispered gratefully in his ear, "For everything."
Her friend responded with an adoring wink, "Now we're even, old thing."
Vic Fontaine, who never liked to be ignored, made his way through the group. "So when are you two lovebirds getting hitched?"
"Hitched?" asked Setal. "I thought we already had been..." he said, referring to the earlier ordeal.
"You need to get out more, pally." The hologram scratched his head. "You know, married."
"Ah," he understood, "That's an interesting analogy." Setal looked to Elpida. "You know I'm only waiting until you're ready."
"Tomorrow," she dared.
Setal lifted an eyebrow in surprise, but then smiled with pleasure. "As you wish, my lady."
"Well, that's settled," said Vic, rubbing his hands together, "Let's have a song." He turned to Setal, "Now, I know I don't have to tell you to take her over to the dance floor, pally."
"No, you don't."
Vic hopped up onto the stage, where he was joined by three backup singers. They began to hum a doo-wop tune. "This one's an oldie, but a goody," said Vic.
Will you be mine?
My darling dear
Love you all the time
I'm just a fool
A fool in love with you
I fell for you
And I knew
The vision of your love, loveliness
I hope and I pray
I'll be the vision of your hap, happiness
Oh, Earth Angel
Please be mine
My darling dear
Love you all the time
I'm just a fool
A fool in love with you
"I told you I would marry you, my Earth angel," Setal said, holding his newly-wedded bride against the wall just outside his quarters.
Elpida sighed with happiness. "So where do you want to live?"
Setal paused for a moment. Where they would settle down had not yet crossed his mind, mainly because he had been more concerned about convincing her to marry him in the first place.
"Let us strike a deal," he proposed, effortlessly scooping her up into his strong arms. Her white satin gown rustled as he carried her across the threshold. "I will give up Romulus, if you'll give up Earth. The galaxy will be our oyster, as you say."
"Alright," she agreed, "It's a deal." The doors closed behind them, and he lowered her back to her feet.
"Crazy family not withstanding, you're still the most dazzling woman I have ever met," he said, affectionately stroking her cheek, "And I will always love only you."
Elpida gazed dreamily into his dark eyes. "And you're the most gallant and handsome man I've ever met," she giggled.
"Now," Setal flashed his irresistibly charming smile, "I will seduce you..."