Note bene: The events in the story are happening around the time of the DS9 episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges."
This is one of the stories that has been floating around in the limbo of my imagination for about six months. Originally, I had intended for this to be a part of "War Burns," but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a separate tale. So here it goes, folks! The Saga continues!
Thank you readers, followers, and of course reviewers!
Certain it is and sure: love burns, ale burns, fire burns, war burns, and politics burns. But cold is life without them.
-An old Romulan proverb
For among the times of arms, the laws fall mute.
"…our remaining ships, together with those of our Basque brothers, continue to hold the line in the Ximenta and Berezi systems—just as we promised." Lady Guinevere shot a brazen look at the Romulan senator sitting next to her.
Senator Letant flashed a foxy smile in response. With a small amount of satisfaction, he turned his attention to pouring himself a glass of water. It was the closest he had come to provoking a response out of her the entire meeting. Ever since the time he had witnessed her rake Captain Sisko over the coals, he took delight in trying to goad her into losing control again. Now that he was aware of its existence, he wanted to see that fiery temper manifest itself just once more, even if it was to a lesser degree.
But perhaps that was only possible if Commander Bochra was directly involved, as was the case the last time. Or maybe it wouldn't be such a challenge if the Federation didn't insist upon the absence of alcohol at official meetings. He couldn't deny, however, that the difficulty was what made the game so engaging. His interest in taunting General Martok had died away long ago, for the simple reason that it was far too easy.
He discreetly stared at Guinevere's contorted reflection in his water. Were she not an inferior human, he would have thought her irresistibly beautiful. When it came right down to it, her dark looks and regal poise reminded him somewhat of a Romulan woman. Her features were decidedly softer, but that was not necessarily a bad thing. He applauded the way she managed to pull off being strong and charismatic without losing an ounce of her femininity. Not all Romulan women could boast of possessing that ability.
Guinevere: a Norman Celtic name meaning "a white wave," which has its origins in ancient Earth mythology. Her very name sounded beautiful to him. It made him think of a tempest on the sea-a perfect analogy of her psyche in his opinion.
Even if he wasn't happily married (and he was), he would never stoop to a relationship with a human. Bochra was far more adventurous than he would ever be. And yet, he could not find any other defect in the young commander's choice. Letant brought his reverie to a halt when his colleague, Senator Cretak, began to speak.
"May I offer you my congratulations on your recent victory." Cretak was a more accomplished diplomat than he was. "I'm certainly impressed by the efforts of you and your people, Lady."
Guinevere smiled warmly and held her hand to her heart. "Thank you, Senator. I am truly touched."
"Well, ladies and gentlemen," said Admiral Ross, "that concludes our meeting this afternoon." The others sat back and relaxed a little.
Senator Letant meanwhile eyed the human lady with intent amusement as she hastily gathered her materials and left. She offered no "thank you for your time," or "until our next assembly," or anything else of the sort. The other Alpha Quadrant representatives likewise noticed the departure from her normal behavior. But he was the only one in the room who wasn't puzzled by this sudden change.
"Was it something I said?" asked Ross after she had gone.
"She looked nervous," Martok observed. "If I didn't know her better, I would have thought she was hiding something."
Letant chuckled with an air of superiority. Everyone else at the table turned to look at him. "That would have been my assumption, too, General, had I not known that the Greenclaw was due to arrive during our conference."
Martok's mouth opened.
"Didn't you read the docking report this morning?" Letant quipped. Now that his first choice of a victim had left the room, he would have to settle for the alternative.
The Klingon glared at him with his one eye. "I don't spend all of my time behind a desk like you do, Senator!" he growled.
"And that is why you are uninformed," Letant calmly retorted. In reality, he had not read the report either, the fact having been brought to his attention by his aide. But there was no need for the Klingon jackal to know that trivial detail.
Chief O'Brien glanced up apologetically from his PADD. "It's going to be at least two weeks before we can get to your ship, Commander. I'm sorry, but it can't be helped. We're swamped."
Bochra held his hands behind his back. His ship had barely made it to DS9, after single-handedly destroying three Jem'Hadar vessels. He would not be surprised if this action would call the praetor's attention to himself once again. It would be a good thing if it did. At any other time, his inadvisable marriage to a human—no matter how prestigious she was—would have put his career on the rocks. But thanks to the war and his recent victories, his rank and position were assured now.
Naturally, he had every intention of keeping his promise to his wife. But if he could resign his command without bringing disgrace upon himself and his family, he would do so.
"Officially, I must protest. Unofficially, however," he lowered his voice, "my wife is here and I haven't seen her in two months. There's no need to rush, if you take my meaning, Chief."
"That I do, Commander," the Irishman winked. "And since you're going to be with us for a little while," he suggested, "I thought you might like to know there's a performance of Il Trovatore tomorrow evening. I'd take Keiko if she were here."
"Guinevere is fond of opera," the Romulan considered, half to himself, cocking his head slightly.
"That's why I brought it up," replied O'Brien with a knowing smile.
As if on cue, the lady in question appeared. Bochra's hands dropped to his sides when he saw her. She never ceased to dazzle him, and he had not yet been able to fully convince himself that she was truly his wife. Further still, he hadn't gotten over the fact that she had forgiven him after his callous behavior toward her. But she had forgiven him, and he knew he didn't deserve her.
Guinevere rushed over and he took her into his arms. "I'm so proud of you! Kiss me, my intrepid hero," she pleaded.
Bochra brought her lips to his and ran his fingers through her silky dark hair. It thrilled him that she already knew of his recent victory. She always seemed to know the exact words with which to stroke his ego, and he enjoyed it immensely. He couldn't have asked for a better welcome. If she had wanted to, his wife could have been a cunning manipulator. But he was relieved that she wasn't.
He pulled away before things could get too heated. "We're in public," he reminded her regretfully. O'Brien quietly snickered behind him. And I don't want another lecture about the proper conduct of a Romulan officer from Senator Letant again, he added to himself.
Bochra kept his arm around her shoulders and led her in the direction of the Promenade. Before they left, he took a brief gander at O'Brien, who gave him a thumbs up. A human gesture he had never seen before. It certainly conveyed approval, though. The Chief was quite a character.
"It would appear that I'll be here for at least two weeks," the commander said to his wife cheerfully as they strolled down the Promenade. "I can't remember the last time we've been together for that long. Not since before we were married, I'm certain."
Guinevere beamed. "Whatever shall we do?" she teased playfully.
A poster for a traveling opera company hung from the upper level. See and Hear the Tragic Tale of Ill-Fated Love, Gypsy Curses, and Revenge! Verdi's Masterpiece: Il Trovatore! it read. Bochra watched his bride's beautiful dark brown eyes light up when she saw the advertisement.
"Why don't we attend that opera tomorrow evening?" he suggested casually. He was rewarded with her enchanting smile.
"Here we go again..." Quark mumbled under his breath. "Looks like trouble has darkened the door of my bar again," he said a hair louder to Morn.
The Lurian nodded in agreement when he saw Bochra and Guinevere sit at a table in the far corner.
Quark walked over to take their order. "I just can't get rid of you two," he joked, trying to hide his uneasiness. In truth, he was half serious. He genuinely liked and admired the Lady. After all, he helped to rescue her and free her planet. And the fact that she had rewarded him with the Ring of Bran—not to mention the opportunity for a cut in the trade profits to Nua Breizh–had served to increase his respect for her. It was her husband he was concerned about.
"Oh, Monsieur Quark, you're such a tease," Guinevere laughed. Whether or not she sensed his nervousness, Quark couldn't say.
The Commander, on the other hand, took his true meaning. "My wife would like a Chartreuse on the rocks, and I will have kali-fal," he said in a tone that was typically Romulan. He clearly wanted Quark to bring their drinks and leave them alone.
The Ferengi grinned. This was his chance for payback. "Damn, she's as hardcore as you are!" he said to Bochra, "I just keep that around for adding flavor to stuff." He didn't worry in the least about his tip being decreased. Romulan pride would hold the Commander in check in that department. As long as his Lady was happy, Bochra wouldn't dare risk looking like a cheapskate in front of her.
Guinevere laughed again. But Quark could see that her husband's annoyance was mounting. He estimated that he would only be able to get in one last jab in before crossing the line.
"You always know how to amaze a fellow, fair Lady," said Quark with a wink. That should ruffle the good Commander's feathers enough, he thought mirthfully.
Bochra narrowed his eyes. "Just bring what I ordered," he snapped, barely keeping the hostility out of his voice.
"Your drinks will be out shortly." Quark scurried off.
"Please don't be cross, my love," he heard Guinevere say, "He was only being friendly."
But he didn't wait around to hear Bochra's response. Was he crazy? He shouldn't be rocking the boat like that. Commander Bochra's temper had expensive results, not to mention painful. Oh, he remembered all too well the way Worf went flying backwards in his chair after provoking the Romulan. He had no desire to be the object of Bochra's wrath himself.
At the bar, Sisko was waiting to place his own order. He frowned in disapproval at the couple.
"Have you talked to Odo about them being here yet?" Quark asked him anxiously, "Because if you don't, I will."
Sisko glared at him. "What do you think? Sorry," he shook his head, "I suppose I'm just as nervous as you are that they're here, and together. On their own, they don't seem to be so bad. Listen to me," he chuckled gloomily, "I sound like a louse who's trying to hinder the course of true love."
"Yeah, I know exactly what you mean," the barkeep agreed, "It's nice that they can be together in spite of the odds, but they do seem to leave a wave of destruction in their path."
"This from the man who left his bar with three of my officers to go rescue her."
"I merely saw a business opportunity and took it," he insisted, "Hew-mon females have no appeal for me except for profit, Captain. No offense."
"None taken." He leaned on the bar and rubbed his eyes. "Don't worry, Quark. I'm sure Odo has it all under control. Now will you get me a raktajino before I fall asleep?"
Quark set a mug on the counter. "Well, of course we all have complete faith in our good constable," he said sarcastically.
"I live and hope that one day you'll come to see this universe for what it truly is, rather than what you'd wish it to be." Garak waved his hands in the air as he spoke.
Bashir grinned unenthusiastically. "Then I shall endeavor to become more cynical with each passing day, look gift horses squarely in the mouth, and find clouds in every silver lining."
Garak returned his smile, but didn't buy it. "If only you meant that." He took a sip of his beverage. They were sitting together in the replimat for the last time before Bashir would leave to attend the first Federation conference on Romulus as one of its key speakers.
"Alright," the Cardassian surrendered, "If peace is truly the Federation's goal, I must say they're going about it the wrong way."
The doctor blinked. "How else do you expect us to go about it?"
"This is merely my own personal opinion, of course, but it seems to me that Starfleet is overlooking an invaluable component for the task," he responded cryptically.
Bashir didn't miss a beat. "I take it you mean a specific person?"
Garak nodded and smiled again, pleased to find that his companion could indeed be taught.