Gil Kapoor waited in front of Gul Zamarran’s door. She chimed once already and was just about to press the wallcomm again, when the door finally opened.
“You said you had problems with secondary power inductor?” She raised her hand with her toolkit in it.
“You must be joking! I can fix it myself!”
“Tavor is still aboard the Damar
and I get crazy waiting for him. I’d use some real work. Pleeeaaase!”
Zamarran smiled. “Come in. And do it right!”
He led her to the faulty power inductor and returned to his desk. She took off a panel from the bulkhead to get to the broken device, while he was busily tapping at a console. A moment later Kapoor heard a familiar sound of an established connection.
“My sweet Sparkle!”
The human knew Zamarran for many years but she had never heard him speaking like this. His rusty voice became softer and gentler, his face brightened and his eyes opened wide.
,” a female voice replied. “You look tired
“I am fine. A bit busy but that’s how it is? How’s home?”
Kapoor never met Zamarran’s wife. She knew her name but had no idea he called her ‘Sparkle.’ If that was his wife and not one of his two daughters, that is.
She didn’t want to eavesdrop to such a private conversation, so she concentrated on her work. She was glad she came here to do that little thing for Zamarran; he could talk to this woman and not worry about some stupid power node. Kapoor knew that for Zamarran his family was everything. She often wondered how come he agreed to work so far from home; he had to miss them very much.
However, in spite of herself, she was listening. Not to the content of their conversation, she wouldn’t be able to tell any details, but to his tone of voice. She observed his body language and his face.
Since the first day she saw him, Zamarran was a piece of wood—stiff and serious. She quickly discovered that under that facade there was a nice and decent man hidden there. His tiny smiles she’s learnt to recognise and a softer note in his voice from time to time—they were giving his true self out. He was different on duty and off duty, especially with Karama, his best friend, and her, his best friend’s wife. Now she could witness how different he was when dealing with his own wife. How warm and loving he became. He called her cute pet names and she addressed him with a pet form of his given name. For Kapoor Zamarran was Zamarran, she’d never imagine him as ‘Trovik,’ but now? Now Trovik came out from his turtle shell and showed his vulnerable, soft belly to the world.
He asked about their children, all eight of them, and about his grandchildren (he already had four of those!) and their friends and neighbours. He asked about his brother and his parents. He asked how they spent some regional holiday and if the kids had fun.
She finished her work and put the plate back in its place, sealing the hole in the bulkhead. She waved to him to draw his attention and inform him that she was leaving, but he raised his hand and gestured for her to come closer. Then he pointed to the sofa. She sat.
“Who’s there with you?
” the woman from the screen asked.
“My lover.” Kapoor almost exploded from shock and laughter. She knew Zamarran had sense of humour but this kind
“I want to see her
The gul waved to Kapoor, so she got up, approached her boss and stood behind him.
“You are Karama’s wife!
” the woman on the screen said.
There were white wisps among her shiny charcoal hair; it gave her a dignified look. Her face was aristocratic—that’s the first word that came to Kapoor’s mind. Her ridges were quite smooth for a Cardassian, which gave her a gentler look. She was smiling friendly to the human.
“Yes, I am, ma’am.”
“How old are you, Gil Karama?
“Sparkle, it’s not polite to ask human women about their age,” Zamarran whispered consiprationally.
” His wife shrugged. “She’s still very young.
“In their terms she’s older than you.”
“Really? Then why do I have grey hair and she doesn’t?
“I’m vain, ma’am. I dye my hair.”
Mrs. Zamarran stared at Kapoor with disbelief, then her mouth stretched in a smile. “I must try that too
“Don’t you dare, you look beautiful the way you are,” Zamarran said and it was obvious the compliment meant a lot to his wife.
“It was nice to meet you, Gil Karama,
” the lady Zamarran said. “I’m sorry if I was rude asking inappropriate questions.
“That’s all right. It was nice to finally meet you too.”
She returned to the sofa and waited for Zamarran to finish his talk, making herself busy with bringing order to her chaotic toolkit.
It was a long moment before she realised that the quarters were silent for a few minutes. She stopped her work and looked at the gul. He still sat in his chair, blindly staring before him. She could tell he felt lonely, she could tell this conversation was just a shadow of being with his wife, she could tell he missed her very much.
“Do you want me to go?” she asked quietly. She had no idea why he wanted her to stay in the first place. It was such a vulnerable moment for him he probably didn’t want any witnesses.
“No,” he shook his head. “How about a cooking evening? We’d make something and then ask Tavor and the kids to join us?”
They had cooking evenings from time to time. It was always his invitation and she enjoyed that each time. Usually they cooked Cardassian food, but sometimes he wanted to try something Indian. Those evenings were irregular and she didn’t even think there was any pattern to it, but now...now she thought that maybe he was seeking her company after talking to his wife. He didn’t want to be alone and she was the closest thing he had to a family on the station.
“Sounds like a good plan,” she said softly. “What will we cook?”
“Something new. Something we haven’t tried before.”
“Great,” she rose. “How about asking kids to help us?”
“A wonderful idea. Go and bring them and I’ll find some recipes.”
She grinned, grabbed her toolkit and headed for the door.
Jarol paced the room, getting more irritated with every minute. How could it be possible? How could Brenok be late? How could any
Cardassian be late?
“Where is he?” Demok asked, standing in the door to their little kitchen.
She rolled her eyes and tapped her wristcomm. “Jarol to Brenok.”
“Where are you? The food is getting cold!”
“I though...I was...I thought I was not welcome any more...after our conversation today
,” his voice sounded uncertainly.
“Arenn, get your skinny ass here right now!” she said firmly. “We are hungry and we can’t start eating until you arrive. Use emergency transport if you have to.”
“I’ll be right there
,” he said and disconnected.
“What conversation?” Demok asked.
“He was ordering me today,” Jarol said. “He gave me an order and I told him what I thought about this order.”
“Oh,” he pursed his lips. “Did you fight?”
“No. I can’t fight him on duty, he’s my....superior.”
She could clearly see her son’s attempt to hide his amusement caused by the way she said the word ‘superior.’
“You never ordered him around?” he asked innocently.
“I never had to, he always listened!”
Demok started to laugh and didn’t stop even when the door opened and Brenok entered.
“Sorry,” the gul said.
“I’m still sending that protest,” she said in a menacing tone of voice. Then her voice lightened. “But that’s not a reason to stop eating, is it?”
“No,” he smiled and she could tell he was relieved.
She went to him and put her hand on his arm. “Arenn, what’s on duty stays on duty, all right?”
“Absolutely,” his smile widened. “What do we eat today?”
“I don’t know, he didn’t let me into my own kitchen,” she answered and they both looked at the young man.
He stood on the threshold to the kitchen for a moment, staring at them with a happy smile and then disappeared behind the bulkhead. “Take your seats at the table,” he shouted from the kitchen. “I’ll bring the food in a moment.”
Jarol and Brenok went to the table. The legate had a feeling her son cooked something he liked but she didn’t.