|Primary Characters:||Garak, Jake, (Emma)|
|Warning:||References to various sexual activities, among others rape and incest. m/m sex.|
|Description:||Emma goes to DS9 to make a documentary after the war. She’s also looking for true love, but finds more than she bargained for.|
Emma Stevenson didn’t like the former Cardassian station very much. The architecture was ugly. As soon as she walked through the airlock, after the passenger liner Atlantis had docked she noticed it. Still, it was surprising how many people wanted to go there.
After the war there must be some kind of economic boom going. Bajor and the station itself seemed to experience a euphoria that was more ecstatic even than the feeling on Earth. Emma had celebrated too, partied for nearly a week, but quite soon things had returned to normal. And she had become impatient. Bored.
After this war, and earlier too, when she had been confined to her bed by a debilitating illness, she had been forced to experience things second hand. So this contract to write about Deep Space Nine and Bajor after the war had seemed interesting and challenging enough.
But her family hadn’t agreed. It was too soon after her recovery, her mother insisted. Even Eileen, her younger sister disapproved of the entire idea. They simply couldn’t understand that Emma was trying to make up for lost time. She would go places, see people and experience things. There was no time to lose.
So she had signed the contract and taken the next liner out there. She had done some background research and found out that many of the Starfleet officers on the station had requested transfers back to Earth or to other more comfortable locations.
And the personnel on the station itself was almost entirely new. The station commander, Colonel Kira, was still there, and a few others, but it seemed the most famous of the people of DS9, the Emissary, Ben Sisko had disappeared in a rather flamboyant way.
All that would interest Emma’s audience back home. She would write things down, and turn it into a documentary. Maybe a holonovel even. She would have to see where it would lead her. First she would stay here a few days, to see the sights, get to know people and find her way around the station.
A Bajoran civilian employee showed her to her quarters. They were bare and dull in color. If there was no rule against it, Emma would get permission to redecorate a bit. These blacks, grays, beiges and browns got on her nerves. Subtlety was fine, but plain drabness was where she drew the line.
Looking at the young man who had escorted her here, she remembered what she had read about Bajorans. They were known to be highly attractive and great lovers too, if you could believe the bestselling holonovels. Emma tried a smile on him. The young man smiled back. Very attractive. But then he asked her if that would be all, and since that was so, he took his leave.
Oh, well, there would be bars and restaurants. Places where she could meet others. People who like herself were looking for someone. It wasn’t as if Emma had come here just to work. She was hoping to meet some interesting man too. Of course.
During the long years of her illness she hadn’t been able to meet anyone really. A few doctors, but apparently doctor/patient relationships were frowned upon so nothing interesting had developed.
Emma dumped her luggage on the floor and let her clothes go the same way. Then she got into the sonic shower and stayed there for a good 20 minutes. After that she felt a little refreshed after the long and boring trip. She knew it was an illusion, but the air on the station seemed a lot less stuffy than on the ship.
Now she rummaged through her pack and eventually found the dress she had intended to wear her first evening on the station. Then she turned to the comm panel and asked the computer for any good restaurants and bars.
A place called Quark’s came up right away, and since it was highly recommended Emma decided to give it a try. It seemed that if she wanted anything but replicated food she would have to pay for it in strips of latinum, and as her publishers had provided her with a generous advance, she thought she would use it.
Fresh vegetables and fruit were a passion to her. After one look at herself in the mirror she left her quarters, not completely pleased with her appearance. She couldn’t get used to the fact that she was no longer fat. Before her illness she had been a plump teenager. Now she was grown up, and if not exactly emaciated, at least relatively acceptable. Well, after tonight she would know for sure if she passed muster.
As she entered Quark’s she immediately decided that this wasn’t for her. She was about to turn and try some other place, somewhere more sober and lowkey, but an ingratiating Ferengi approached her offering to escort her to a table. Rather than appearing gauche and awkward, Emma changed her mind again and accepted the suggestion.
She ordered the drink of her choice and an assortment of side dishes. Nothing big or fancy tonight. It had been a long day, and now she really wanted to concentrate on the men. Over by some game tables there were plenty of young, sexy and scantily dressed women, but the males in the bar were most of them middle-aged and not particularly alluring.
Emma frowned disappointedly. When the proprietor of the bar, because it was none other than Quark himself, returned to her table to complete her order, she asked him about the girls by the game tables.
“They’re my Dabbo girls. I employ them to provide pleasant companionship to my guests.”
“I see. And you primarily cater to men, is that true?”
“No. You are very welcome here, miss.”
“Then where are your Dabbo boys?”
The Ferengi scrutinized the face of this Earth woman, so decadently fully clad, to gauge how serious her suggestion was. It was a fact that he had never contemplated employing any male companions. Perhaps that was an unfortunate oversight. Apart from the women guests he had, a number of men would appreciate it too. Yes, he would definitely hold interviews with a few young men at the first opportunity.
“I’m sorry, miss. I don’t have any. Yet. But if you return in a few days time, I might be able to oblige you. In the meantime you might consider a spell in the holosuite.”
“Maybe later. I’ll just check out your other guests in the meantime. Don’t any young men come here?”
“Certainly. They will be in soon. I have a few regulars that might interest you. Excuse me, I need to see to my other guests now. Enjoy the meal.”
Just then a very handsome man walked in. Maybe a little too old for Emma, but decidedly worth taking a second look at. He walked over and sat down at a table not far from Emma. She tried catching his eye, but apparently he was waiting for someone, since he kept his eyes on the entrance.
That was a shame. She found herself hoping that he would simply be waiting for a business associate. When one of the Ferengi waiters came by to refill her drink, she asked him about the sexy man.
“That’s Dr Bashir.”
“The station’s doctor?”
“I see, thank you.”
Right then a young woman entered the bar, and she walked straight over to dr Bashir. Any hopes Emma might have had that this was merely professional were crushed as the insipid young Trill bent down to kiss the doctor’s cheek. It was obvious they were much more involved than mere colleagues. Just her luck. The waiter was still within hearing, so she waved at him again.
“Who’s that young woman?”
“That’s the station’s counsellor. Ezri Dax.”
Emma was immediately filled with dislike for the young Trill. What if she tried to get the enticing doctor away from that boring girl? What if? It was the kind of thing Emma had never dreamed of doing in the past, but something about the simpering ways of that Trill really got on her nerves. She needed taking down a peg or two, that one.
Then Emma remembered how difficult it had been in the past, even getting some guy to go out with her. It was no use. She just had to face the fact, that she was simply not the kind of girl who would be able to seduce a man away from his girlfriend. But she didn’t want to give up.
She decided to keep a close watch on the man with those sensational eyes. They were soft, deep and brown. And she could just imagine how it would feel to lose herself in them. His smile was very endearing too. Yes, this was someone she could definitely fall for. If only there hadn’t been that Trill.
The first night Emma spent on the station had ended somewhat disappointingly. There weren’t even any young ensigns around to practice her budding seductive talents on. But she decided to give herself another few days or even weeks before admitting defeat.
The next day she went for a walk on the Promenade, and checked out the shops and the other restaurants. There was even a tailor working there, and Emma suddenly felt she wanted something new to wear. So she walked into the shop and was met, rather surprisingly, by a Cardassian. She couldn’t stop herself from staring a little in surprise. The enigmatic man smiled amusedly and introduced himself. He even bowed a little theatrically at her.
“My name is Garak. I’m technically not a Cardassian anymore. Burned my bridges back home long ago. What can I do for you, miss…?”
“Stevenson. Emma Stevenson.”
“Pleased to meet you, Emma, if I may call you that. It’s not often we get visitors from Earth out here.”
“Perhaps I should say, not for a long time.”
“I see. If you don’t mind my asking this, how did you know I’m from Earth?”
“Oh, tricks of the trade.”
He smiled deliberately mysteriously. But Emma, with her documentary in mind, didn’t let him off that easily.
“So you’re not only a tailor then? Oh, wait a minute. Now I remember. The enigmatic spy.”
“I see I’m not entirely forgotten. Allow me to introduce myself, Elim Garak, at your service.”
Despite all the mystery, or maybe because of it, Emma felt herself drawn to this man. He was so charming, and this documentary would be a waste of time, if she didn’t include someone as interesting as he seemed to be.
It seemed the Cardassian liked her too, or for some reason thought it useful to make it seem that way. He kept up a companionable banter with her while he was measuring her for a party dress. Whatever else he was, he appeared to be an expert at his day job. The suggestions he had as far as color and other details were excellent. And he had the dress ready for her in just a few days.
When Emma came back to pick it up, Garak surprised her with a dinner invitation. That came as a total surprise. He didn’t look as if women were his first choice in partners, so she had to assume he was interested in her as a writer, not as a person, but it seemed she was wrong about that. As if reading her mind, the Cardassian smiled and explained himself.
“You’re probably thinking that this is not a date. And you’re right. I’m not interested in women. Not in any romantic sense. But though I’ll admit I’m fascinated by the idea of your making this documentary, I also find you very interesting as a person. And I thought you felt the same way about me. Am I wrong about that?”
“No. I find you a very fascinating person. Not that I expect I’ll pry any real secrets out of you.”
“Maybe not. But then again, it’s not as if there are that many important secrets left to tell now with the war over. On the other hand, if you’re interested in some plain station gossip, I will oblige you.”
“Thank you. I’d like that. Just one thing, I don’t wish to be impolite, but I am not all that into Cardassian cuisine. So if you don’t mind…”
“Not a problem, my dear. You pick the cuisine, then I’ll provide the rest.”
“Shall I see you at 9, station time, on the Promenade?”
“Alright. See you then.”
Emma was elated. This was her first big break. Not in the romantic sense, as Garak had put it, but her documentary certainly wouldn’t suffer from this windfall. Since this wasn’t any gala occasion, she left the new dress in her quarters and instead wore a more plain one, but in a color she knew became her.
Garak actually took her to Quark’s again. Emma was a little disappointed at that, but then she saw the point. This was where everyone important on this station gathered in their offduty hours. And Garak seemed to be taking his promise of providing amusing gossip seriously. He pointed out the big man who seemed to be a fixture of this place. Later Emma learned that Morn, as is name was, hardly ever left his bar stool by the counter.
A little later Colonel Kira walked in. She was dining alone. Garak confided in Emma that her lover, the former station Constable, and Chief of Security, Odo, the shapeshifter, had just left her, never to return. So she was feeling depressed to say the least. Then two Klingons walked in and settled at a table not far from Emma and her companion.
The younger man was very attractive, and in fact the older man too, but Emma only had eyes for the younger one. Garak told her they were Worf and Alexander, father and son. Emma remembered reading about Worf but didn’t know that he had a son. The young man was as tall and well built as any Klingon male, and in addition he had a very pretty face. Emma immediately felt drawn to him.
She couldn’t resist asking Garak if there was any girlfriend around, to ruin her chances. Garak looked at her searchingly, then smiled and answered her question.
“No, not as far as I know. So that is your preference in men. Interesting.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, nothing. If that’s the one you’re going after, I might be able to give you a hint or two. I suppose you know about the violence of the Klingon love making?”
“Yes. But that’s something I’ll worry about later. There’s no time to lose. Someone is bound to come along and get him, before I do, if I don’t get a move on.”
“That’s probably wise, my dear. You speak as if you have already had a disappointment. Since you arrived here?”
“Yes. The first night I was here, I saw this absolutely sensational human male. Dr Bashir.”
“Ah, the enticing Julian. How I sympathise with you. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointing it was to me when I found out that young Julian didn’t return my feelings for him.”
“Oh. I see.”
“Water under the bridge, I believe the saying goes in your language.”
“That’s right. So you’re over him?”
“Can one ever truly say that one gets over a love like that?”
Emma watched the Cardassian trying to read his alien features and failed utterly. But his tone of voice seemed to imply that he was still very much in love with dr Bashir. Julian. That was a very pretty name. Emma liked it. She wondered if she ever managed to lure Julian away from that little creep, Ezri, Garak would then resent her. Aloud she didn’t dare to voice that question so she thought of another one.
“I guess that means you know him well?”
“Ah, yes. He’s a good friend, at least.”
“I see. Are there any other eligible young men here on the station?”
“A few, at least that you would be interested in. Bajorans mostly. And – I almost forgot. The son of the former station commander, also known as the Emissary. Jake Sisko. He should be just in your taste. Just in case Alexander Roschenko turns out to be as disappointing as Julian.”
“I’ve read a little about Jake Sisko, as it happens. Isn’t he a writer too?”
“Well, he does want to be one.”
“Oh. I’d like to meet him. Do you know him?”
“Not personally. His father and I were never good friends, and well, shall we just say that Jake has no reason to love Cardassians.”
Garak’s tone made Emma turn an inquiring look on him.
“Well, it is common knowledge aboard this station that after the occupation of this station, Terok Nor, as it was known in the Cardassian rule, Jake was abducted and held prisoner by Gul Dukat. And knowing that man as I do, I can imagine what happened to Jake.”
The ominous tone Garak was using didn’t tell Emma anything except that Garak too, seemed to hold a grudge against this Gul Dukat. But what about Jake Sisko? Had he been tortured for his heroic but misguided gesture of remaining behind during the occupation?
She had seen a holoimage of the smiling young man and the thought of that innocent boy undergoing such torture was distressing. Yes, she would very much like to meet Jake Sisko too. But for now, she wanted to concentrate on Alexander. She needed an introduction to him and she wondered if her new friend Garak might not provide it for her.
“I was wondering if you might be able to introduce me to Alexander and his father. Just to break the ice. I just don’t see myself buying them a bottle of blood wine to catch his interest.”
Garak seemed to be considering her request, then those deceptively mild eyes met hers.
“Yes, I believe I might be able to. You will understand though, that there’s no love lost between me and the Klingons. But I don’t think they will be offended enough to be impolite to you, my dear.”
And without any further preamble, Garak got up and approached the table where the two Klingons were seated. He bowed, spoke to them for a moment, then looked back at Emma as in introduction.
Then the young man got up, walked over to Emma’s table and sat down. Worf on the other hand, just scowled, then got up and left the bar, rather pointedly, Emma thought. Was it her presence that so offended him, or simply that Garak was the one inviting them over?
Alexander seemed not averse to getting to know the new arrival from Earth. Though he had served on a Klingon vessel during the war, he had been brought up by humans, and seemed to enjoy her company. Garak ordered in a bottle of prune juice. Emma’s eyebrows shot up at that.
She had expected blood wine, and since she herself never had got the taste for that strange beverage she hadn’t been looking forward to it much. Even if she now knew there was no actual blood in it. It was just the color that had given it its name. Alexander caught her look and explained, a little embarrassed.
“It’s my dad’s favorite drink. He got the taste for it while he served on the Enterprise, and he introduced me to it. I love it, so whenever I’m around humans I try to get some of it.”
“I see. Do you ever get homesick?”
“No. Not anymore. My grandparents are dead now. They didn’t die in the war. But they were old. And the Klingon home world isn’t really my idea of a home, so dad and I might settle here for a while. On DS9. It will do for the time being. How long will you be staying here, Emma?”
“I’m not sure. I have a contract to make a documentary about this station and Bajor after the war. So I’ll be interviewing people and getting shots of the station’s interior and so on. People back home want to know what it’s like out here.”
Emma spent a very pleasant evening, and the next day Garak asked her out again. He had managed to invite Julian and Ezri over to join them. Emma was delighted to finally meet Julian up close. To her surprise, Garak also asked Alexander over. So in a way she would be double dating.
Garak himself showed up alone, as the host, it would seem. This time they went to a Bajoran restaurant. The food was excellent. All she had heard about Bajoran agriculture appeared to be true, and she decided to include that in her documentary.
But the evening was not a success. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, Ezri and Alexander were flirting unashamedly. Emma could see how sad that was making Julian and she tried her best to cheer him up, but he didn’t have eyes for anyone but Ezri. Garak was trying very hard to keep up the conversation, but Emma was so upset and Julian devastated and angry about the whole incident, that it was a waste of time.
The next day Garak and Emma went for a walk on the Promenade. He appeared to be genuinely sorry for what had happened. A few days later it was all over the station that Ezri and Julian had quarrelled and that their relationship was over. Garak did his best to cheer up his old friend, and after a while he tried to bring Emma and Julian together.
But that was doomed from the start. As soon as Ezri had taken up with Alexander, Kira moved in on Julian. Not to snatch him away from Emma, it seemed, but simply to comfort him. Still, in the end it had the same effect.
Within three weeks Julian and Kira could be seen happily having dinner together. At least dinner was the excuse for their meetings. It was plain that they didn’t eat, and hardly talked. They just looked into each other’s eyes, so totally and deeply in love, that Emma couldn’t help thinking that something like that had always been at the back of their minds.
So Julian was lost to her, just as he had been to Garak all this time, and what was even worse was that now Alexander was out of the picture too. Emma felt so desolate at this turn of events. Her documentary was progressing nicely, but on a personal level her life hadn’t changed at all since she had been lying in her bed reading old-fashioned love stories. No one wanted her. Not even out here. Despite everything, she was touched by the way Garak stayed by her side. As he told her, he was no stranger to unrequited love.
To help her through this disappointment, he offered to introduce her to Jake Sisko. The young man had been down on Bajor to try and offer some consolation to his stepmother, Cassidy Yates. It appeared she was pregnant, and since the Emissary’s disappearance it seemed she was even more distraught than Emma was. That shamed her somewhat. At least she wasn’t virtually a widow. And she really would love to get to know that cute guy Jake.
Since Cardassians were far from Jake’s favorite people, Garak had asked Julian and Kira to provide the introduction. In reality it was Kira herself that took Emma to see Jake. The Colonel was friendly and apparently very much inclined to offer any cooperation to the young woman who was making a flattering documentary about her station and her planet.
Emma had decided to give the audience a story of self-sacrificing heroes and superhuman courage. That always went down well after a war, or so Emma’s studies in history told her. As they were about to enter the private quarters of Jake Sisko, Kira told Emma that she felt it would do Jake good to meet a young woman from Earth.
“He’s been through a lot lately, and I think he really needs the companionship of other young people. His close friend Nog is stationed somewhere else right now, and anyway, I think it’s about time he started dating some more. For a boy his age, he always spent so much time with his father. I hope you get along well.”
The signal buzzed and they heard Jake’s voice from within, asking them to come in. Kira introduced them, and then excused herself. Her work schedule didn’t leave her much time for small talk. Emma was so excited about finally meeting Jake face to face. He was just as cute as he had seemed in the holoimages she had seen of him. And it really seemed as if he was just as impressed with Emma.
“I hear you’re a writer, Emma. I have, well, I’ve been doing some work as a war correspondent here. Not that it was a success or anything.”
“Please, don’t be so modest. It was your work that inspired me to come out here in the first place.”
His smile was so sweet, but he seemed a lot more shy than Emma had expected. Of course, there was that distressing incident with Gul Dukat. And now his father was missing, maybe dead. Naturally Jake would be a little downcast. Emma decided she would do her best to draw him out.
And if he fell for her in the process, that would be a nice bonus. She let him see some of her work. They went to the holosuite at Quark’s and took a look at her first chapters. Jake was very interested, and asked her some intelligent questions. Emma couldn’t be sure, but he seemed very taken with her as a person too, not only as a writer.
It wasn’t long before she realized that he was filled with admiration for her, and not only that. He was falling in love with her. That couldn’t have come at a better time. Emma had been rapidly giving up hope of ever finding someone for her. But this time she didn’t even have to work very hard. Jake was practically falling into her arms.
But so far they hadn’t even kissed. Instead they talked for hours. She learned far more about his friend Nog than she was interested to know. It was quite obvious that Jake had spent too much time alone on this station. Not that Nog seemed a bad sort, but if Jake was this attracted to her, a female, then all that intimacy with Nog couldn’t have been good for him. Emma strongly suspected they had been up to some sex play together.
She had seen that kind of thing before. She and her best friend on Earth, Johnny Rourke, had been up to a thing or two as well, when she was much younger than Jake. And many of her other friends had had flings with members of their own sex. Not her girlfriends though, but then she didn’t have that many girlfriends. So that might be quite common too. Still, a little harmless sex play with his friend Nog wouldn’t spell trouble for their relationship, Emma was fairly sure about that.
And finally came the night she had been expecting. Normally she would have been too shy to make any advances to a guy, and especially in this case, she hesitated to do so. Jake seemed to be almost painfully shy and on the few occasions that their hands had met, he had almost jumped back from her. At first she was very confused about the mixed messages she was getting. Maybe she had miscalculated his feelings for her, after all.
But the looks he gave her when he wasn’t aware of it, were obvious enough. Then she had gathered all her courage and asked him out on a real date. As she was awaiting his answer, Emma hardly dared breathe. What would he say? Was he really into guys and not girls as she was hoping? But then she saw that sweet, brilliant smile of his. Apparently he was overwhelmed by her attention.
“Yes. I’d love to. Can I tell you a secret, Emma? I’ve been hoping you would say that.”
Then why didn’t you ask me first? Emma wanted to ask him, but she felt it would be too forward, so she just smiled and asked him where they were going. To her surprise he suggested they meet in his quarters. Maybe she wasn’t the only one who wanted to make up for lost time.
Well, she had certainly had enough of this waiting game. It was time for some action, and she didn’t mean combat. Anyway, neither she nor Jake were warriors. On the other hand, there was that old saying that the pen was mightier than the sword. In that case maybe they were warriors after all. But on the same side, fortunately.
When the evening came, Emma decided to wear the new dress that Garak had made for her. It was by far the most stylish gown she had ever owned. Normally she would wear plain, simple clothes and just content herself with choosing a color that was becoming to her. But this time she had allowed Garak to advise her, and though she couldn’t be sure, she felt that she had never looked better.
The cut of the dress was very cleverly and skillfully made, and there were all kinds of little details that were so perfect. She had even gone to a beauty parlor to have her hair done. On her way to Jake’s quarters, the corridor’s light brought out the luster of her long thick hair and she had put on a new scent that she had found in a gift shop on the Promenade. It was Bajoran and she hoped she would gain a little of the attraction that was associated with the Bajorans.
Jake had gone to a lot of trouble. Being the grandson of a restaurant owner, he had apparently inherited the knack for making the most delicious food. But he had respected her wishes not to eat any animal derived products, or even replicated substitutes. Emma was strictly a vegetable eater.
The dishes he had prepared were as delicious as they looked. And to finish off there was the most divine dessert. That was replicated, and Emma, who despite the best medical attention in the Federation, still suffered from a few hereditary food allergies, could really enjoy herself. Still, she had kept a close eye on the size of the helpings, and at the end of the meal she didn’t feel too tired or stuffed. It wouldn’t do to spoil the mood for later.
Jake asked her what sort of music she preferred, and at her request he put on some ancient classical Earth music. The sound was kept low, so they could converse without raising their voices. But it soon became apparent that Jake wasn’t interested in talking tonight. Emma had no objections, and soon they were in his bed, kissing, touching. Jake had some trouble with Emma’s dress, so she removed it herself. When she tried to undress Jake, he pulled away.
She was a little hurt. Why did he shy away so from her touch? But she soon forgot about it in the surge of passion. Afterwards she was left with a feeling of disappointment. Jake was already fast asleep and she was nowhere near content. Had he really never been with a woman before? From what she knew, he was out of his teens, and then surely he couldn’t be a virgin?
When Emma was his age, even she had had a few boyfriends already, not counting her best friend Johnny. So why did he seem so inexperienced? It had been over within minutes, and it didn’t even seem to occur to him that she might not have been quite as contented as he was. Yet he had seemed to be doing his best. There had been no roughness, no ruthlessness. And now he was asleep, looking so much younger.
Emma was wondering if maybe that was the problem. Some people matured later. Boys always did, but she still hadn’t been prepared for his inexperience. But she resigned herself to the fact. It was so endearing to see his contented smile. If he smiled any more his face might even split in two. And she really enjoyed imagining the picture they would have made together, his chocolate brown on her satiny white.
Just as she was studying his serene features, something changed. His face contorted as if in pain. She could hear him whimpering softly, crying even. Was it the loss of his father that so haunted him in his dreams? But no, there seemed more to this than simply grief. He was reliving some terrifying memory, and she could even hear him cry out in his sleep. Begging for mercy, but whoever was putting him through this ordeal wasn’t showing him any.
Emma thought she should wake him up, to spare him this nightmare, but before she could make a move to shake him awake, he screamed and opened his eyes. At first he didn’t even seem to know who she was. His reaction was scaring her. But she kept talking to him soothingly, gently as she might to a child. As she sometimes had comforted her younger sister. And finally the terror left Jake’s eyes, and he allowed her to hold him.
When it was over, he wouldn’t talk to her about it, but he accepted her embrace and her fondling. They cuddled together for a while, but finally he began to relax and eventually he was able to go back to sleep. After all that, Emma really wanted to go back to her own quarters, just as she had been intending to, all along.
But something held her back. If Jake had another of these horrible nightmares, she would have to be here for him. She shuddered at the thought of waking up alone after such a terrifying dream. What was wrong with Jake? She was beginning to suspect there was much more to this than just losing his father.
The next day, nothing further was said about the incident, and it seemed as if Jake had forgotten all about it. He wanted to see her again, in the evening, and Emma could only accept. After all, she wanted to as much as he did. And maybe this time he would be able to accept a few hints about his technique. She had no intention of once again falling asleep feeling empty and wanting something more.
As soon as she left Jake she hurried back to her own quarters, showered and changed, and then set off for Garak’s shop. He was with a customer, but he asked her to wait, and she did. She sat down at the back of the shop, looking through some fashion catalogues. There were several padds lying around, and she studied the current Bajoran fashions with some interest. Maybe she would have a few more outfits made before she returned to Earth.
When Garak was done with his customer, he offered her the choice of a cup of Raktajino or Bajoran tea. Emma said she would have a cranberry juice, Earth style and after having a few sips of that, she got to her reason for coming. She didn’t explain why she was asking, but she had an idea that Garak already suspected how she had spent the night. Nothing seemed to get past those shrewd eyes.
And today just as every day since she had gotten to know him, Garak looked into her eyes, thoughtfully, trying to assess her in turn. She wondered if it was as hard for him to read her human countenance as it was for her to see through him. Then he came to a decision, and began to tell her what he had learned about Jake’s time in captivity. He seemed to be speaking from a certain knowledge, rather than suspicion but even if he hadn’t been sure, it appeared that he knew Dukat well enough to know what to expect.
“I’m afraid your friend Jake went through a very traumatic ordeal at the hands of Dukat. And in case you’re wondering, that man was no friend of mine. It was very fitting the way he died. Dukat has always been in the habit of taking advantage of his prisoners.”
“Taking advantage of? As in sexually?”
“I’m afraid so. Colonel Kira’s mother was one of his victims, and Jake Sisko was another.”
“You mean Dukat raped him?”
Emma’s eyes widened at the thought. She had studied some exo-biology in school, and from what she could understand, being raped by a Cardassian would be agony for a human. As she recalled the implications of it all, she felt literally sick. Garak seemed to understand how she felt, when she pushed away her glass. They didn’t say anything for a minute or two, as Emma was fighting down her nausea.
“Commander Sisko – the Emissary – sent a man to get him out, but it was too late. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, my dear.”
“Well, it certainly explains a thing or two.”
Garak didn’t comment, and she was sure he wasn’t surprised that she and Jake had ended up in bed. But he didn’t comment directly
“I’m sure that your company will take his mind off the past. Meeting someone like you, is exactly what young Jake needs.”
“So you don’t think he is – well – into men.”
“Jake? Quite the contrary, my dear. I think I’m able to tell these things. As you humans say, it takes one to know one, am I right?”
“I suppose so.”
“Then why that sad face? Come on, I’m sure Jake would much rather see you smile.”
Despite herself Emma did smile a little. But she couldn’t get the whole thing out of her mind. Still, you could say that it explained the nightmares Jake was experiencing. She wondered if she would see more of that if she made a habit of spending the night with him. It wouldn’t surprise her if she would.
That led her to consider bringing the subject up with Jake. In her experience it helped to talk about things. When she had first been diagnosed with her illness, she had found it very helpful to discuss it, with her family, her friends, and most of all, the doctors. After learning all about it, she felt a lot less scared of the future.
It occurred to her that she might ask for advise. But the only counsellor on the station was that boring little Ezri person, and Emma really couldn’t stand her simpering. Why in the world Alexander had chosen Dax over her, Emma simply couldn’t understand. And Julian – how in the world could he have fallen for her too? Julian might be another possibility, but if she did consult him, she might inadvertently give Jake away, if dr Bashir didn’t already know, and this wasn’t her secret to reveal.
Instead she decided to rely on her common sense. She had told Jake about her illness and her loneliness and he had seemed to sympathise. He had said all the right things, and she thought he understood about loneliness. Surely he wouldn’t mind if she talked to him about his problems? Wasn’t that what being lovers was all about, sharing problems as well as good times?
When they met that evening, this time in Emma’s quarters, they spent the first hour or so over dinner not really discussing anything. There was just the companionable small talk that seemed to come so easily to them now. But after dinner Emma decided to risk spoiling the mood for later, by touching on the painful subject.
“Jake, about last night -“
He didn’t seem to have any idea where this was leading. His smile told her how much he had enjoyed the sex, and also how much he was looking forward to more of that. She sighed a little. This wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe she should give it up or wait until they knew each other better. But no, this was affecting their sex life and she had to try to help him resolve those issues before their relationship suffered. If she wanted it to stand a chance, they had to talk this out now.
“I meant later. The nightmare. Were you dreaming about Dukat?”
Jake looked as if she had hit him. For a second she was afraid that she had ruined everything and that this would be the last time she saw this young man who in a matter of days had become the center of her existence. But he wasn’t going to turn away from her. He straightened up, and faced her. She really loved him for rising to the occasion. After all, he must know that she knew by now, and what would be the point of denying it?
“Yes. How did you learn about that?”
“Do you mind talking about it?”
“Yes. But let’s do it anyway. You’re right, it’s something that we need to discuss.”
“Well, everyone seemed to know about the abduction, but it took me a little longer to figure out exactly what had happened.”
At the mere mention of the incident, Jake looked sick. Emma was so sorry she had to torment him like this. But it really was necessary that he tell her about it. Those nightmares had to stop. Now that she knew him better, she could tell how much he had changed in the months since the holoimage was taken. The weight loss, the reluctance to accept her touch, except when they were having sex. All that told her how deeply disturbed the ordeal had left him. If only he could learn to put it behind him.
Emma remembered that day, only nine months ago, when she had been attacked by a surgically altered Cardassian spy. She had been leaving the local medical facility after one of her last treatments, when the man had come seemingly out of nowhere. How she had managed to grab the heavy ornament in the hallway and have time to bring it down hard on the man’s head she’d never know.
And afterwards she had been told that if the Starfleet officer on duty nearby hadn’t come by and killed the man with a phaser set to kill, he would have died anyway, from the severity of her blow.
The counsellors she had seen afterwards had been able to help her get over that. He had attacked her, and if she hadn’t been able to defend herself, she would have been the one left dead. And the real target of his attack, the local Starfleet commander who was having a small wound treated in there, might also have died, as would any other person standing in the assassin’s way. So Emma had learned to accept what she had done.
This was different of course. Traumatic as it was to know that she had almost killed someone, she had still had the initiative. She hadn’t been subjected to something painful and humiliating. It was even some consolation that she had come out of the incident the victor. Not much, since Emma never wanted to cause anyone any harm, but still, the killer had failed. Jake had been the helpless victim, who had had to be rescued. That must leave emotional scars. But if he got help, surely something could be done?
Jake still didn’t say anything, just waited for her next move. He was tense, watchful, but the fact that he was still here, listening to her, must mean that he still wanted this relationship, despite the difficulties.
“Jake, have you received any treatment?”
“You mean medical treatment? Sure. I would have died otherwise.”
He hesitated a little, but then he went on. It seemed he was relieved to finally be able to tell anyone about the ordeal.
“You see, we aren’t built to take it. Sex with Cardassians should only be experienced by other Cardassians. It messes you up inside, and leaves you bleeding to death internally.”
“Yes, I seem to recall something like that from exo-biology classes in school. I’m really sorry about it, Jake. You must be so glad that your dad was able to finish him off. It must have seemed as if you were receiving justice at last.”
But Jake was in no way comforted by that remark. Emma was wondering what she had said that was wrong. So she decided to just go on.
“I actually meant counselling sessions. To help you relieve the emotional trauma.”
“No. I didn’t want to remember any of it. And besides, the people working here are my friends and my dad’s friends. He didn’t want them to know, and neither did I.”
“But you could have gone down to Bajor. I know they have excellent counsellors and after the long years of Cardassian occupation, I’m sure they have plenty of experience in case like this.”
“No. I’m the Emissary’s son, and it wouldn’t have been possible to keep it a secret. It wasn’t even dr Bashir who treated me. I just got emergency treatment in transit. But it was enough to save my life.”
“So your dad’s career was more important than your welfare?”
The look on Jake’s face was hard to read, so Emma felt she had to give up criticizing his dad. After all, whatever the man had done, he was Jake’s father. That reminded her of another thing. Jake had a grandfather. If Commander Sisko’s job was so important surely they could have sent Jake back to Earth to receive treatment there? That ought to have been possible to do discreetly.
“What about your grandfather then, Jake? Couldn’t you have gone to him?”
“No. I didn’t want him to know. Don’t you understand?”
Again Emma sighed. Of course she did. Only too well. Any woman shared the fear of rape. The humiliation, the way people would talk.
“Yes, of course I understand. But don’t you understand me? I care about you, and I hate to see you suffer like this.”
Finally that brought a smile to Jake’s lips. It wasn’t a happy smile, but at least it told her how much he cared about her. Her affection for him must mean a great deal to him and that warmed her. She wondered how he would react to a simple hug. Surely that wouldn’t be too much to take? So she pulled him closer, and though he tensed up, he accepted her embrace, and returned it. Then he let go and faced her again. How she loved those brown eyes.
“Emma, I love you. Of course I’m happy that you care. But I don’t think there is much to do about it. What happened, happened. Nothing can change that. I’m just so glad you don’t feel revolted by me after you learned about this.”
“You? No, but it makes me hate that Dukat even more.”
“Well, at least he’s gone now. I won’t have to worry about seeing him again. By the way, you can tell Garak that I don’t hate him for what Dukat did. I know Dukat was an old enemy of his.”
“I’m sure he’ll be pleased to hear that.”
Emma wasn’t really satisfied with the way the whole matter had been dropped, but it seemed as if her discussion with Jake about it had done some good. For a while things were much better. There were still some nightmares, but not every night, and slowly Jake was adapting to their relationship. Now he no longer feared her touch. And he was not only willing but actually eager to learn to please her as much she pleased him.
Soon Emma’s documentary was done, and she was beginning to plan for her return to Earth. Jake had agreed to return with her to see his grandfather. The old man had been overcome by grief over the loss of his son, so he hadn’t even come out for the memorial service.
Then when Emma had made arrangements for her return journey, and Jake had done the same, things took a turn for the worse. The nightmares returned, but far more seriously this time. Emma was completely helpless. She and Jake had discussed the matter thoroughly, and she had thought it had helped him to get the painful memories out into the open.
For a while it really appeared it had, but now all that hard work seemed to have been in vain. And although Emma had assured Jake that she didn’t mind listening, she had had a few nightmares of her own about Dukat. In her dreams he wasn’t raping her, but he seemed to have taken on the role of the Devil in old Earth religion. The whole thing was very much like a horror holonovel. But at least she had been able to keep that from Jake.
Even after discussing the matter further with Garak, she could come to no solution. She even considered postponing her trip back home, just in case Jake was dreading the return home. But Garak agreed with her about getting Jake away from the distressing surroundings.
While they were waiting for the arrival of the Alexandria, they were kept busy trying to avoid invitations to double date with Ezri and Alexander. Emma couldn’t help but be relieved that Dax was a Trill, and not a Betazoid. It was beyond her how Ezri could escape noticing how much Emma disliked her, but apparently the Trill wasn’t even trying.
Whenever you saw her, she was more or less constantly making out with Alexander. Emma suspected she also had to go see her old boyfriend regularly to be patched up after the nights with her Klingon boyfriend. But that was something for which Ezri could expect no pity from Emma.
They did go out with Garak one more time. And at least Jake had no trouble accepting the presence of a Cardassian. Emma felt sure that Garak was almost touchingly pleased with that. Maybe he was growing soft in his old age. She had really come to like this enigma of a man. And she was so sorry that he had been unable to meet anyone who could give him the happiness she felt with Jake.
It must be so distressing for him to see the people around him enjoying relationships when he was the only one left out. But he didn’t seem to grudge them their happiness, and maybe having friends was in some small way compensating him for the lack of success when it came to romance.
On one of the last nights before the arrival of the Alexandria, Jake and Emma had their first fight. Jake had expressed a wish to meet his friend Nog one last time before returning to Earth. While Emma didn’t think he should pass up on the opportunity, she was exhibiting an almost total lack of enthusiasm. Jake couldn’t fail to pick up on that, and mistaking her attitude for some kind of Earth speciesism, similar to old Earth racism, told her what he felt about that kind of thing.
In her temper, Emma had something of the Klingon in her, and she retorted more sharply than she had intended. One thing led to another, and she found herself running back to her room like in her teens. She was in tears, and all the newly gained confidence fell from her, as she huddled miserably on her bed.
If Jake hadn’t come to her, she didn’t know what would have happened to their relationship. At that point, after being away from home for so long, and having worked so hard to get Jake through the trauma of his time with Dukat, she was ready to give everything up and go home without Jake.
But Jake was outside her door, asking so contritely to be allowed to come in. He sounded so sincere, that she didn’t hesitate to let him in, after hurriedly drying her tears and applying some emergency make-up. Jake sat down on her bed and seemed even more upset about their fight than she was.
“I’m sorry I said those things to you, Emma. It was a mistake. I couldn’t bear to lose you. Please, can you forgive me?”
“Well, you thought I was a real Earth chauvinist, so I guess you were right to react the way you did. But couldn’t you just have asked me? I’m no speciesist. Do you think I’d be friends with Garak if I were? And I think Cardassians in general are real creeps. But I can see past the scales or the funny ears. Don’t you know me enough by now for that?”
“Yes, that’s what I meant just now. But what do you have against Nog? He is my best friend.”
“That’s fine, Jake. But don’t you think it might be best if you two got away from each other for a time? I think this might be a good opportunity to get this out in the open too.”
Now Jake looked decidedly wary, but he seemed willing to be questioned on the subject all the same. He had really meant what he said about not wanting to lose her. That was so gratifying. Emma couldn’t help smiling. He really loved her. Then why was she so worried about him and Nog?
“Get what out into the open?”
“Come on, Jake. I’m not a fool. Nog wasn’t just a friend, was he? Wasn’t he more of a special friend?”
She could have sworn she could see him blush, but she couldn’t be sure. His complexion was such a perfect shade of milk chocolate, that a blush wouldn’t show very well.
“How did you guess? But I meant what I said about us being friends. We weren’t in love or anything, we just did some things.”
“That’s what I thought. So, are you sure about this? About me and not him?”
Now Jake looked really astonished. He certainly hadn’t expected that question. Emma was again struck by how young he seemed.
“You didn’t think I want to be with him instead of you, did you?”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”
“But I’m not into men at all. It was just something Nog, I mean we, did for a while.”
“Ok. You were very lonely up here. Not many people your age around. I can understand that. My best friend Johnny and I were up to a few things too.”
“I’m sorry, Emma. Can you forgive me?”
“Are you apologizing to me? There’s no need. I just had to know what I’m dealing with that’s all.”
And that really seemed to be the end of it. She and Jake cuddled for a while, and then they decided to put this stupid quarrel behind them. Jake settled for sending a holomessage to Nog to say goodbye, then nothing more was said about the whole thing.
But on the night before the Alexandria was scheduled to dock at the station, Jake had his worst nightmare yet. This time he was talking quite clearly in his sleep, tossing and turning, and his distress was all too obvious. Emma was about to wake him, when to her horror she heard something that might finally explain all the pain Jake was in. Until then she had assumed that the rape by Dukat was the only thing bothering Jake, and surely that was enough to explain his behavior. But now she finally learned the truth about him.
“No, please. No. Don’t. It feels so good, but don’t. Stop, please. Yes, I know, but we can’t. Dad, no.”
He went on like that for much longer, until Emma was finally able to break out of her paralysis. She had been totally stunned by that revelation. So this was the real Emissary. She had seen it before back home. Politicians, military leaders and now apparently a holy man too. All seeming so holier-than-thou and yet, when you looked more closely their hands weren’t as clean as they would have you believe. The greater the individual, the darker the secrets apparently.
Furiously blinking away her tears, Emma finally regained control over herself. She couldn’t allow Jake to lie there, reliving this other horror. Of course this must be worse even than Dukat. Her hand on his shoulder made him pull away violently. It was a long time until he even recognized her and allowed her to touch him. But then he accepted her embrace. They didn’t talk about it yet. Emma just sat there holding him, his head resting against her breasts. From time to time she stroked his hair, or his face, but she didn’t say a word.
Finally he seemed to have recovered a little. He sat up and faced her. His eyes were dry. All the tears that had been shed were hers. But the pain in his eyes chilled her. She felt as if a hand was squeezing her heart inside her chest. Drawing a deep breath, she was about to break the silence, when Jake forestalled her.
“You were right. There was more than just Dukat. I guess I talked in my sleep again?”
Emma nodded, but let him go on, without interrupting. He seemed stunned by the fact that finally this last and worst secret was out into the open. But part of him must have been relieved. She didn’t think he would be holding back anything more.
“So now you know about that too. Now do you understand why I couldn’t go to any counsellor? Sooner or later someone would have guessed, and no one could know about this. He was too important.”
“He was too important, and you weren’t?”
“I guess so.”
“Wrong, Jake. You are more important than that stuck up pervert. But I know, you were out here, alone, without any other family member. Who could you have told? Your grandfather?”
“Especially not him. I would have died if he’d found out.”
“Ok, I understand. But now that I know about it, you will go and see a counsellor, won’t you?”
“If you think it’s necessary. Wouldn’t it be even more painful though? Telling a stranger about it.”
“Not just any stranger, an expert. Someone who might actually be able to help you.”
“Ok. Emma, I want you to know something. He was so alone. Since mom died… I was all he had.”
Emma thought to herself that for that very reason he should have taken much better care of something as precious as a child. Not take advantage of his trust and the fact that he had no one else to turn to for help. She really hated the way Jake was still helping protect his father’s shameful secret. That would have to stop if he were ever going to get over this trauma.
“I was 16. We were away on a camping trip. Nog and Quark were there too, but not in the same tent. And… It doesn’t matter. But I loved him, do you understand that? I had no one else to love, and I trusted him. So whatever he did had to be good. Except this time, it wasn’t. He told me that he could see that I enjoyed it as much as he did.”
Now Jake was struggling to hold back his tears. He seemed to be choking on the words, and Emma had to hold him again to calm him down. After a while the tears stopped, and he swallowed to clear his throat. It seemed to be very important to him to explain this to her. So she listened carefully.
“He was right too. It felt so good, but I knew we shouldn’t. He was my dad. And fathers and sons shouldn’t do – what we did. Everyone knows that. I tried to tell him, and he said that maybe not every father and son did it, but we were more special than others. We loved each other more. And maybe we did. But I knew all along that it was wrong.”
“Of course you did, Jake. But he was your father. He was in control. It wasn’t your fault.”
Again the tears were beginning to fall, and though he tried and tried, Jake couldn’t get any words out for a while. When finally he could, the pain in his voice made Emma wince.
“Then why didn’t I stop it? I was 16. He wasn’t stronger than me. I should have pushed him away. I could have run out of that tent, but I didn’t. And I’d already been with Nog a few times. That had to mean I was what Dukat called me. A slut. A whore.”
“No, no. You’re not anything like that. I know this isn’t pleasant to hear, but what you were was a victim. That might not sound very uplifting, but it means that you had no part in any guilt. Tell me one thing, whose idea was those things you and Nog did?”
“Nog’s. But that doesn’t mean anything. I never told him I didn’t want to. It seemed like a fun game, something to pass the time.”
“And it was. There is no harm in that, as long as both of you liked it. But you see, if you had been what you say you are, surely then you would have initiated these contacts. Did you? Ever?”
“No. But I didn’t run away either.”
“When Dukat held you in his quarters, was there ever a time when you could have escaped? Tell me honestly.”
“No, of course not. I was tied up, and there were Cardassian soldiers watching the exit. There was some alarm too. But Nog didn’t force me to do anything.”
“No. But like I said, what you and Nog did wasn’t so bad. As long as you didn’t start feeling bad about it. But what your father did was just the same as Dukat. Can’t you see that? You were tied to him, with bonds of love and trust, and dependence. How could you have stood up to him? If you had had your mother, or maybe an older sister or brother, you would have had someone to turn to. But who could have helped you deal with that?”
“But we kept on doing it for nearly three years, until he met Cassidy. I introduced him to her, hoping that he would get tired of me then. And he did. In all that time, I could have gone away somewhere. Done something, but I didn’t. Don’t you see, I still loved him.”
“Of course you did. He was your father. And he took great care reinforcing that bond, didn’t he? That doesn’t mean you were wrong. He is the one at fault here, not you. Why won’t you listen to me? Jake, do you trust me? Do you love me?”
“You know I do. Didn’t you believe me when I said so?”
“Yes. But then why won’t you accept what I’m saying? I think I’m seeing this more clearly than you do. Being on the outside, as it were. Naturally, you’re experiencing these feelings of guilt. But you have to trust me. And now I’m only going to say this one more time: You were not to blame. It wasn’t your fault. You’re not a whore.”
-I hear you. But saying it won’t make change anything.
“Jake, please, let’s go back to Earth, and when you get there, start seeing a counsellor.”
“I said I would. But what would be different? I can’t go back in time and change what I did.”
“You don’t have to. But I wish I could. I wish I could have stopped this from happening.”
“I know. I’m sorry you had to find out about it. How can you love someone like me?”
“Oh, Jake, it’s the easiest thing in the world. I just took one look at you, and I was lost.”
“Me too. I mean when I saw you. It seemed like a miracle. Before you came, I was so convinced that everyone knew about what happened with Dukat, and I was so embarrassed. I felt sure those Bajoran girls were laughing at me behind my back. But I wanted to have sex with a girl, I just didn’t dare to try. I didn’t even expect to fall in love, but then when I met you I fell in love first, then we had sex. It was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.”
“Believe it or not, it was the same with me. I’ve had three boyfriends, and Johnny of course, but I’ve never really been in love until now. You see, I used to be fat. Not that many guys were interested in fat girls.”
“You were? I don’t care. I know you were never anything but pretty. Even if you were fat. It wouldn’t have made any difference to me.”
“Don’t lie to make me feel better. You don’t have to. After all, I’m not fat anymore. Anyway, you were so brave during the occupation. I wouldn’t have dared to stay on the station but you did.”
“Look where that got me.”
“But you couldn’t have known it would happen. I’m not brave at all. Even if I nearly killed a Cardassian agent once.”
“Yes, nearly a year ago. I was attacked as I was leaving the medical facility back home. After a treatment. Cardassians are so strong and fierce but this one must have had some kind of crack on his skull already, or a congenital weakness. Or else I was just incredibly lucky. But I was so scared, I couldn’t sleep for weeks afterwards. My mother or sister had to be in the room with me, and the light had to be on.”
“I wasn’t brave, I was a fool. But you’re right, that’s all in the past. You know something, I even felt that it was better that I died there, and at the very least I welcomed the pain. No question of enjoying anything. I didn’t have to feel guilty about it.”
“You don’t need to feel guilty about anything. Remember that. Now I think it might be time for us to get up. It’s about time anyway. I need to start packing, and you too, don’t you?”
“Ok. Don’t be too long, please.”
“No. I’ll hurry. I just need to buy a few things, as presents for my family, so I’ll have to go shopping. But I’ll be back here long before the Alexandria docks.”
Jake hugged her hard, then he got out of bed to get ready. Emma grabbed her clothes and went back to her quarters. She was going shopping, and she did intend to pack, but first there was something she needed to discuss with Garak. Once when they had been talking, Garak had reacted in a way that led her to believe that he might be able to offer some insight into Jake’s problem.
It bothered her that by asking, she might be giving Jake’s secret away, but his pain was so great that she feared the consequences. Maybe she should risk betraying his trust if only she could find some help for him. But she would decide later, when she had tried talking to Garak about it.
She was outside the tailor’s shop when Garak came to open it up. He was surprised to see her, but pleased too, she thought. Perhaps he thought she had come to say goodbye, and she had intended to, but this was so urgent she couldn’t wait. It might not take a genius to see how shaken she was, but on the other hand Garak was an expert at guessing people’s secrets. He took one look at her, and offered her a drink. They sat down at the back of the store, and she noticed that he didn’t put up the welcome sign. The door remained closed to any customers that might come by.
“Garak, I’ve come to ask you something very personal, and I might be wrong about it. So, if I am I apologize. But we were talking earlier and it seemed to me that something about the way you referred to your father that led me to believe there was something… Something about your relationship that was unusual.”
“My dear, it was the most unusual relationship in every way. But I see what you are getting at. It was a very long time ago. I wonder why you want to discuss this? Could it have anything to do with young Jake, by any chance?”
“How do you do it, Garak? How in the world do you know these things?”
“I might ask you the same thing. It’s not common for me to give something like this away to anyone. But to answer your question, I was never sure, at least not until the worthy Emissary disappeared. So, in case you are wondering why I did nothing to help, I didn’t know anything. There was just a hint of shall we say, something unusual. But there was no way of approaching Jake about it, not with his father always nearby. And you must know that our young friend is very good at hiding his true feelings. He wouldn’t have let anything slip to me of all people.”
“That’s ok. I realize there would have been nothing you could have done about it. Unless you might have arranged an accident, perhaps.”
“My dear, you do me a grave injustice. But you might not be entirely wrong. I’m afraid the Emissary was someone quite beyond anyone’s reach though. And though I doubt that you will believe me, the people here on this station were dear to me. And those who are still here, still are.”
“I believe you. That might not have made any difference under certain circumstances, but since those never came to pass, I suppose we should leave it at that.”
Garak made no comment about that, but he was beaming at her in a way that seemed to indicate he admired her wisdom. That led her to believe she might have been wrong after all. But whether Garak was an assassin or not, had nothing to do with the matter at hand. She was considering how she should approach the subject, or even if it would do any good, when Garak interrupted her train of thought.
“You were right about my father. But it wasn’t as wrong as it might seem here in your culture. It was the way things were done in Cardassian culture in the old days. Not often, but it was known in some instances. I believe that in your ancient history there was a country called Egypt, where the leaders would marry their daughters, isn’t that right?”
“Yes, but in this case -“
“In this case there was no question of marriage naturally, and the cultural basis was different. I merely pointed that out as a comparison.”
“Cardassians believe in a total devotion and submission to parents. A child is a possession more than anything. If necessary a child can be sacrificed as a pawn in a game. And in a few rare cases, such as this, a father might have another use for a child. When I say child, I don’t mean infant, it was just a description of the relationship between us. I was nearly grown up when it started. And it was a great honor for me. So I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel honored.
But then many things I was brought up to do, were unpleasant and seemingly pointless. You are not encouraged to question your parent’s decision or anything else. In fact, to do so might get you killed. But I would never have openly questioned or objected. The respect for my father was so deeply ingrained that I would never voice any criticism. I believe you humans are very dependent to and devoted to your parents too.”
“But that usually involves love.”
“I felt love of a kind towards my father. It’s hard not to. And wouldn’t it be even worse to be forced by love rather than discipline?”
“Yes, exactly. I’m sorry I brought this up, it’s just that you were the only one I could turn to. And now I’ve betrayed his trust.”
“No, you haven’t. Like I said, before you came here, I was relatively certain that something had occurred between them. But you were the only one who could get through to him. I certainly couldn’t try. Although I’m much gratified that Jake does not associate me with Dukat.”
“Thank you for telling me this. It can’t have been easy.”
“No. But if I can help Jake in any way, I will. I’m just not sure how. He won’t talk to me, I’m reasonably sure.”
“I’m not sure what I hoped to accomplish by asking you about this. Maybe simply to gain an understanding into the emotional state of someone who has been a victim of something like this. Jake feels as if he is to blame.”
“Perhaps it would be useless to point out that he is wrong about that. Anyway, I didn’t have any such issues to deal with. Had anyone known about the relationship, no one would have disapproved. It would, as I said, simply have been an honor bestowed on me. What was troubling me was simply that I felt really distraught about it.
And that did make me feel guilty. I shouldn’t have been even thinking any criticism towards my father. But it has been many years since then and I’ve come to accept my memories as an unavoidable part of the past. Jake might come to do so as well. I sincerely hope so. If you think it is for the best, you may tell him about me.”
“Thank you. I know I’m not the most important person in all this, but I have been so distressed about it. It was such a relief to have someone to talk to about it.”
“I’m happy to have been of some help to you, my dear. Now, if there is anything else you would like from me, let’s hear it now. I wouldn’t want you to be late for the departure of your ship.”
“Yes. I was hoping you could send along some fabrics so my mother and sister can have dresses as lovely as the ones you made for me.”
“By all means. Fabrics are my business. Come over here, and take a look at these Tambrian silks. Do your mother and sister share your coloring?”
By the time Emma left the tailor’s shop she was laden with parcels full of lovely fabrics. She wasn’t sure she would find a tailor quite like Garak to make them, but it would be fun anyway. She took some time to explore a few of her favorite shops on the way back. Then she hurriedly got on with her packing.
Before she was quite done, she heard Jake calling her from outside. She asked him to come in, dreading to see the state he was in. But apparently he had been able to shed some of the mood from earlier. In any case, he was all set for boarding the liner. She was hoping she had made the right decision about leaving. It certainly seemed that way.
Some time later, they were waiting in the airlock. Jake’s friends had come to see him off. Julian and Kira came together, not quite holding hands, but close enough. Ezri and Alexander arrived a few minutes later, breathless from kissing no doubt. There seemed to be a few bruises here and there on Ezri’s face. Emma was in a generous mood that day, so she smiled indulgently at them. They were so obviously in love, and Emma didn’t think she could get used to having to go to the sickbay every morning.
She still felt some lingering attraction towards Julian, however, but seeing how happy he was in Kira’s company, she decided to bury her disappointment deeply. After all, what she had was wonderful enough. Despite the problems. To her surprise, Nog’s family showed up too. Since Nog himself couldn’t be there, his family had come to say goodbye to the young ensign’s best friend.
Just as they were about to leave, Garak showed up too. He smiled a little awkwardly. Somehow it was so out of character for the spy – and, yes, Emma was quite sure of it, assassin – to act this way. But he talked to her and Jake a little longer, and at the last moment embraced her briefly. For a second she even thought he would hug Jake too, but instead he just shook hands with him, human style, and said goodbye.
That was it, they were finally away from the station. Emma couldn’t wait to get home. But she would miss her new friends, even Ezri a little. She thought she would keep in touch, at least with Garak. As she and Jake made themselves comfortable in their cabin, she took the opportunity of looking him over. He really did look much better. Staying on at that station might have added to the state he was in. And now when he was leaving it behind, he was beginning to look forward to the future again. At least she hoped so.
He caught her looking at him, and she suspected that he guessed what she was thinking about, but if he did, he chose to ignore it. Instead he pulled her into his arms kissing her intensely. They were even late for dinner, but that really didn’t bother them at all. There would be many more opportunities to socialize with the other passengers. It would be a few weeks before they were back home. And there were a few stops on the way too, a chance to explore a little more of their universe.
Emma dared to hope that this would be alright eventually. She had come out to DS9 to make a documentary. And that she had accomplished. A more private reason had been to find some romance. In a way that too, had been successful, but she had found so much more. For better and for worse. All in all, she felt she had been lucky. Affairs could be very rewarding, but love was even more so. When she left home she hadn’t even dreamed of this.
When they got back from dinner neither one of them was sleepy. Emma thought maybe Jake might want to make love again, but now he was in a more somber mood. Still nothing like the night before, so she was hoping he would be ok. And she had promised to be there for him.
“Emma. I’ve been thinking about what you told me earlier. Last night, or rather this morning. Maybe you were right. While I was still on the station, everything was so close by. Dukat’s quarters, which were also dad’s. And mine. Not the ones where I was staying when you came here, but the other place. Dad didn’t mind me moving out after he’d met Cassidy. But now, finally I feel free. Not completely, but close enough. I’m sorry for that performance last night.”
“Don’t mention it. You should have seen me, right after I ran into that Cardassian. They had to sedate me for a while. I kept seeing his brain tissue and all that. It was absolutely horrible. But I was only imagining most of it. From what I’d seen in holonovels. He was pale, and he probably had a big lump on his head. But I didn’t really break the skin. So all that was in my mind. It didn’t stop me from making a spectacle of myself afterwards though. And when that Starfleet officer, T’Sar-something, I forget her name, killed that man, I could still feel the smell of the burnt flesh. I guess you didn’t need to know that.”
“Yes, I did. You can tell me anything, Emma. And you can ask me anything at all. Now there aren’t any secrets left, so I’m not scared anymore.”
“I’m so glad you feel that way. So, how will you feel about meeting your grandfather?”
“Ok, I think. But I won’t tell him. It would break his heart.”
“Maybe you’re right. But don’t you think he has a right to know?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. I just can’t, Emma. It would be so awful knowing that he knows.”
“Ok, you decide. But you will go and see a counsellor?”
“Yes, I promise. Before I met you, I didn’t really think it mattered. I just thought I would be miserable for the rest of my life.”
“I suppose that means you’re not miserable anymore?”
“Not as much as before. And I think I might feel even better soon, all thanks to you, darling.”
“Now shouldn’t we get some sleep? I hear the games these people play, to while away the time, are quite strenuous. Wouldn’t you like to give them a run for their money?”
“Then I suggest we hurry up and go to sleep. Any objections?”
“No. I know it was my fault you didn’t get any sleep last night.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve gone without sleep before. Many times. But I really could use some right now.”
They didn’t waste any time in getting under the covers. Jake didn’t mind her touch anymore, so they cuddled really close. And it wasn’t long before they both dozed off. Emma was really tired, but she didn’t think there were any nightmares. She would have known. And it really felt good to be on her way home. She couldn’t wait to see her family again.
It would be good for Jake too, to see his family. What was left of it. He would most likely have to go back to Bajor some time, to see his half-brother or sister when the baby was born. But she hoped it would be a long time. There really weren’t that many good memories associated with that place. So the longer he waited the better. At least in Emma’s opinion. And she certainly didn’t feel the need for any more travel. There really was nothing like home.