Sorry, this chapter is really dull, but some important things have to be said and have to happen, and all I managed is this dull setting for them
Tarav, Nokar, Cardassia Prime
“Why are your hands shaking?” she asked, scrutinising him.
“I’m nervous,” he admitted.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“I’m always nervous when I’m with you?”
“Why? Am I wrong?”
“W...what?” He burst into laughter.
“You know,” she said, assuming more comfortable position in her chair. “This would be a good moment for a mysterious box to materialise in front of me. Here,” she added, pointing to the surface of an oval table in front of them.
“I could do that, but I’d rather not.”
“How could you do that and why not?”
“I could ask Korel to do it, but I always liked to do it myself and...he doesn’t have to know details of my lo...ahem...life.”
She looked at him again. Did he almost say ‘love life’?
They were in an open air juice bar, sitting at a table that was the nearest one to the edge of the cliff over the sea. He had chosen this place and after a short research she had discovered that this was supposed to be the most romantic spot in the whole prefecture.
They observed ships in the far distance and an old, inactive drilling rig that had become home for sea birds these days.
She looked at him. His eyes were narrow slits—the sun was clearly blinding him—and he kept biting his lower lip.
A terrible thought came to her... She had had two husbands and they both had died. What if it had been because of her? What if she had brought their deaths on them? What if she was some kind of doom bringer? What if she would bring death on Toral, too?
What a silly thought!
He must have noticed her worried face, because he asked, concern audible in his voice, “Is something wrong?”
“No,” she shook her head, more to shoo away the thought than to emphasise her denial. “Nothing is wrong. Why are you nervous?”
He smiled sheepishly. “I’m always shy with ladies. And you are no ordinary lady.”
She put her hand gently on his arm. “I’m very ordinary.”
“No, you aren’t,” she shook his head vigorously. “You are unique.”
She squeezed his arm gently. He was such a sweet, patient and nice man. Always calm, always quiet. But there was something in him, some kind of persistence, of a clear understanding of the direction he wanted to go, of his goals.
He put his hand on hers that lay on his arm. His palm was warm. He raised her hand and neared it to his lips. She didn’t resist and let him kiss it. Then she stroked his cheek gently.
“Toral...” she whispered.
“Hatinn,” he said quietly, observing her reaction.
Her finger slid along his cheek ridge to his ear. “Hatinn,” her mouth repeated voicelessly. “You’re like Assurian chocolate.”
He leaned to her, but to her disappointment kissed her only on a cheek. “Two pieces of Assurian chocolate,” she said. He kissed her on the other cheek. “Three pieces?” His eyes shone with a devious plan and...he kissed her on both cheeks. “A whole box of Assurian chocolates,” she said. He bit his lower lip, gazed into her eyes as if looking for the final permission and then his lips touched hers. It was a gentle, shy, almost innocent kiss. She felt like a teenage girl again.
“You are so unbelievably beautiful,” he whispered. His hands weren’t shaking any more but his voice was.
“And you are Assurian chocolate.”
“Sweet and expensive?”
She chuckled. How was it possible that she had never noticed how adorable this man was? She knew him for so many years and had barely noticed him. Now, however, he had all her attention.
“I want to go for a walk,” she announced.
She pointed to the sea shore and a beach below. “There.” Seeing his surprise, she stretched her finger toward curved into the rock stairs that led to the beach.
“Let’s go, then.” He rose, grabbed her hand and they headed for the stairs.
When they arrived to the beach, she took off her sandals and barefoot ran to the sea. She started to walk along the shore. She enjoyed cool water washing over her feet. She looked back at Toral who stood nearby and observed her. She waved to him and he waved back. She made an inviting gesture but he shook his head. She sent him a flying kiss and resumed her walk. A few moments later she felt him wrapping his fingers around her hand. She looked at him. He stopped, but didn’t let her hand go, so made her stop too. He pulled her closer and kissed again—passionately.
“I hope not to get executed, Legate Atira,” he whispered to her ear.
“I can’t execute my Assurian chocolate.”
Neither his hands, nor his voice shook. He gently stroked her hair. His eyes went from the top of her bun to her face and she noticed that his sight stopped for a short moment on her chanth
“Sufficiently blue?” she asked him teasingly.
“Maybe I’m not very traditional, but I don’t care,” he answered. “I want you, not what you could give me.”
His reply surprised her. Usually, a woman’s fertility was on of most important factors in choosing a partner. Toral didn’t seem to think about that at all; if
he spoke the truth but she saw no reason to assume that he lied.
“Hatinn,” she said, holding his hands, “You’re one unorthodox Cardassian.”
“I hope so! That way I can stick out in the crowd of your admirers.”
She laughed and he smiled. They resumed the wet walk, holding hands.
She felt happy. “Hatinn,” she said after a moment of silence. “Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Anything. I don’t have any secrets, not from you.”
She smiled. That explained why he was admitting to his anxiety when being with her: no secrets. “Why haven’t you ever married?”
He sighed. “Well...I promised myself to find someone after the war...that war with the Federation. The war ended but before I got to it...another one started. And after that one ended...” He silenced for a moment and she feared she asked about something painful. “I met that wonderful, beautiful, smart and independent woman...”
“So, why didn’t you marry her?”
“I intend to.”
She let go of his hand. He walked with her here, he kept sending her all those chocolates and all that time he had been thinking ab...Wait a minute...
His face expressed morbid worry. “Did I say something wrong?” he asked quietly. “I’m so sorry, maybe I’m too fast, maybe...I just...I just thought that you know I am serious about it. This is not a ploy, or some silly, immoral game. I...I really wouldn’t even dare to...”
She approached him and put the tips of her fingers on his lips, forcing him to stop talking. “Shhh. I
am sorry. I am sorry I never noticed. I am sorry I didn’t even occur to me that you’ve been talking about me a moment ago.”
“What?! You thought I would tell you that I intend to marry someone else five minutes after kissing you! Who do you think I am!”
His indignation, the anger in his eyes, was something she saw for the first time...the second time. She recalled when he had defended her from Gul Tarkan—over twenty years earlier. How could she have been so blind!
“Will you forgive me?” she asked, lowering her eyes in a gesture of submission.
But he only stood there. She felt her heart starting to beat fast; did she ruin everything? Did she insult him so badly she destroyed his long-term feelings within a second? She dared to gaze at him; he had a mischievous and impish grin on his face.
“I’ll think about it,” he said, mocking offence and raising his head high. “But you will have to work hard for my forgiveness.”
“I’ll do everything that has to be done,” she promised.
“Good. For a start, walk along this beach holding my hand. Then, you will choose a restaurant and will have dinner with me. Then you will allow me to see you off to your hotel. Tomorrow we will repeat all today’s activities. No deviation from this plan is allowed.”
” she acknowledged all his ‘demands’ in an old, traditional submissive way, which now was used only among low ranking gareshes addressing their high ranking superiors.
“Good. Proceed with the walk,” he said in a commanding tone.
She kissed him on his cheek and pulled him along the beach.
“No!” she yelled and left the room, shutting the door loudly behind her.
Brenok and Demok looked at each other. “So much for the therapy,” the gul said.
“We can’t leave it like that.” Demok scratched his head and looked at the door that his mother used for her noisy and furious exit. Not without a grim sense of humour, he thought that she was lucky that the hotel was a very old building and she could slam the door shut that way. He still could hear her furious ‘I’m not crazy!’ ringing in his ears. She knew how to raise her voice, she certainly did.
“We’re not leaving it like that. But you heard what the medic said: for the therapy to bring any positive results, she has to agree to it. We can’t force her to see him.”
“Maybe we should.”
“He also said that her behaviour doesn’t have to mean anything that we should worry about. She’s healing after a terrible experience and emotional imbalance is not unusual in such cases. We should start seriously worry if her condition doesn’t improve for too long.”
“And how can we know that by the time he thinks it’s time, it wouldn’t be too late?” Demok frowned, realising that what he said was so unclear that he wasn’t sure he understood it. “I mean...”
“I know what you mean.” Brenok paused for a moment, taking a padd from a table. “I intend to contact two more medics from that list. I will ask them what they think about it.”
“Maybe Toral could convince her that it’s for her own good.”
Brenok gave Demok a sceptical look. “Toral is still uncertain of his new role and I am not sure he’d risk losing what he had gained just recently.”
“Well, if he puts his own good over hers, then he can go to hell. She doesn’t need him.”
The gul looked at the young Cardassian. He had to agree that it was a very good point and after looking at the matter from this angle, he thought that he had probably misjudged Toral. He couldn’t imagine the gul would care about himself more than about the woman he has been in love with for twenty years. This kind of faithfulness is all but selfish.
“I’ll talk to him. I think they will see each other tonight too.”
“Ask him now.”
Brenok thought for a moment. “All right,” he agreed. “Let’s go.”
“Do you know in which room he stays?”
They were at Toral’s door a few minutes later. The gul seemed a bit surprised seeing them. “Is there a problem?” he asked, letting them inside.
“Yes, we have a terrible problem and maybe you could help us,” Brenok said.
Toral gestured toward the dining table by the window, so they all sat.
The long-haired gul cleared his throat and said, “We want you to try to convince Atira to agree to a therapy.”
Toral frowned. “What kind of therapy?”
Demok leaned forward. “We want her to start seeing a psychotherapist.”
Toral’s frown deepened. “Why?”
“You see her in a good mood, but she’s not always like that,” Brenok explained.
“Of course she isn’t,” Toral shrugged. “She almost had been assassinated. You think it doesn’t leave any scars? Why do you think Daset resigned before his term?”
Demok glanced at Brenok; he knew that Legate Daset, the previous head of the Central Command, had resigned after third attempt on his life. Things, however, weren’t so easy in this case.
“It’s not only that!” Demok snapped, surprising Toral.
“Just try, all right?” Brenok asked calmly. “Just try to talk to her.”
“I assume your attempts to convince her were unsuccessful,” the gul’s eye ridge went higher. Both younger men nodded. “Do you really think I would have more luck?”
“We’re ready to try everything.”
“I can try, but if you didn’t make her agree, I don’t think I’d have any more influence on her decision.”
“She might get furious,” Demok warned.
“So I’ll run away like a scared vole.”
“She might brake up with you,” Demok added.
“I certainly hope she wouldn’t.”
“But if she does...?” Demok kept asking. Brenok shot him a glance—did he think that the sub-archon was testing Toral?
The older gul didn’t seem to enjoy the questioning. “I will talk to her tonight,” he said, ignoring Demok’s demands.
“That’s all we ask,” Brenok said and rose. Since Demok didn’t move, he poked the sub-archon in the shoulder. “Let’s go.”
The young Cardassian reluctantly followed his uncle. But when he reached the door, he stopped. “I would like to talk to Toral in private, if you don’t mind.” Brenok nodded and left.
Toral eyed Demok. “What do you want to know?” he asked.
“Are you serious about my mom?”
“You are her son but that really isn’t your business.”
“Toral, I want to know if you will marry her.”
“It’s not only my decision.”
“If she agrees, will you?”
“Do you want to have children.”
If Toral ate or drank, he would certainly choke this very moment. “Excuuuuse meeee? What kind of question is that!”
“I’m sorry...I just...”
The gul rose and approached the young man. “Just what!”
“I always wanted to have siblings...like everyone.” Toral’s face softened. “So...” Demok didn’t finish.
“I don’t know. I didn’t think about it before.”
“You didn’t?” Demok was surprised. For a Cardassian, a possibility of having children and a big family was one of most important factors in choosing a life partner.
“All I want is for your mother to be happy. I don’t want anything from
her. I want to do things and be there for
The sub-archon smiled weakly. “Talk to her tonight, all right?”
“Thanks. And don’t get discouraged if she gets angry.”
“I won’t. I didn’t get that far to resign so easily now.”
Demok returned to the suite that he and his mother stayed in and where Brenok waited for him now.
“What did you want from him?” the gul asked.
Brenok gave him a suspicious look but didn’t pry.