“Love Prefers Twilight”
Dulcett Family Compound
Morfan Province, Cardassia Prime
“I still can’t believe I’ve told you this,” Ghirta Dulcett’s scaly gray skin prevented her embarrassment from being evident on her face, but her voice was loaded with it. “But I needed to talk to someone. I-I don’t know what else to do.”
“Don’t worry,” Lt. Ezri Dax said softly, giving the Cardassian woman’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “This is a strictly confidential conversation, okay?” The Trill put on her best reassuring smile.
Dulcett looked at the woman, eventually matching her smile. “I trust you, I suppose. Things are just so different on Prime, even now. Knowledge such as this could always be used as a weapon.”
“I don’t see how,” Dax replied, quizzically. Dulcett pursed her lips, sympathetic, and a bit envious of the woman’s naiveté.
“You don’t see how my relationship with the new Bajoran Kai could create a political firestorm on both our respective worlds?”
“No,” Dax shook her head, “I do understand that. I just don’t comprehend how I, or the Federation could use this information as a weapon. New strains in relations between Bajor and the Cardassian Republic aren’t in anyone’s interests, except Cardassian insurgents.”
“Or the reactionaries on Bajor,” Dulcett quickly added. The woman had noticed a deliberate chill, even more than usual, on the station and definitely on planetside whenever she visited Bajor over the last several months. The reverberations of Lang’s assassination and other galactic events, had helped to stir a deep unease among the Bajorans.
And unfortunately, but not surprisingly, some Bajorans had struck out against offworlders, the vandalism even tainting the station. It had become prevalent enough that even Kai Sarkin recently spoke out against it, but Ghirta thought his words had done nothing to dispel the dark mood gripping his planet. It slightly reminded her of the ominous, chaotic times after the fall of the Detepa Council, right before her people made their devil’s bargain with the Dominion. Of course the Bajorans had not become that desperate…yet, but Dulcett knew social dissolution when she saw it, it had marred a good deal of her adulthood thus far.
Once the news came out that Sarkin Noma was the father of her child; that the head of the Bajoran faith had sired a half-Cardassian progeny, Ghirta didn’t know what the reaction would be, but she was certain it would not be pleasant. She touched her stomach, already fearful for the child growing within.
“Have you told the Kai?” Dax asked, bringing Dulcett out of her reverie. The Cardassian woman shook her head.
“No, how could I?”
“You can’t hold this off, he needs to know,” Ezri remarked.
“And he will…but not now, he has so much work to do on Bajor, I don’t want to be a distraction.”
“I doubt that is how he sees you, and really shouldn’t that be his decision to make?” The Trill asked, and Dulcett couldn’t deny her wisdom, but fear clutched onto her.
“I’m not ready,” she shook her head. “I-I’m just not sure…”
“There are…other options,” Ezri proposed, with a pinched expression on her face.
It took Dulcett only a second to catch on. “Never,” she said vehemently. “Family is the cornerstone of Cardassian society. I could never terminate a pregnancy.”
“Okay,” the counselor was more than willing to back away from the suggestion. “But I had to put other options out there. There’s also adoption.”
“And what would I do in the gestation period until I have birth? Leave my post as the relief coordinator for Cardassia?”
“It is an option, if you want to keep the pregnancy hidden,” Dax said, obviously not liking that choice either.
“Yes,” Ghirta conceded, “but I love my job, I love building bridges between the Bajorans and my people. And I…I love Noma,” she admitted, her voice cracking. Vacating her post, leaving the station, was something Ghirta really didn’t want to do. While she had carried trepidations and a dark sense of irony when Premier Lang had proposed she go to the Bajor system to secure aid for her benighted home planet, Dulcett had done her what was asked of her, and had even unexpectedly found love in the process.
Dax gave her a moment. “Perhaps your child could also be part of building bridges, of realizing common ground,” she offered.
“I-I guess,” Dulcett said, never considering the possibility before.
“If a Bajoran and Cardassian can find love, the very head of the Bajoran church in fact, that’s a powerful symbol that both species can overcome their blood soaked pasts,” the counselor declared.
“You speak with a wisdom beyond your years,” Dulcett remarked. Something flashed in the other woman’s brown eyes, but she merely smirked.
“Yeah, I get that a lot sometimes,” her face took on a more serious mien. “After spending time on DS9, I’ve come to believe that rarely do things happen without cause, that at times there are greater hands at work.”
“Yes,” Dulcett nodded. “Noma often expresses similar observations. I have never been a religious person, but my time with him has kindled an interest in the Oralian Way, the old Hebitian faith. I have a better appreciation for the concept of fate now, of the impersonal forces behind our actions, guiding our hands. I’m not saying I believe any of it, though I understand Noma better.”
“He has also taken to studying the Way and will be conducting tours of Hebitian ruins after the inauguration, he has asked me to accompany him, but I don’t know if I should go. There are already rumors about his frequent visits to the station, and once I begin to show….”
“So,” Dax said, with a shrug. “You are two consenting adults. Love is a rare, blessed gift in this universe, and don’t let anyone take it from you,” she said, and Ghirta felt a deep sadness pour from her gaze. “Because when it’s gone, it’s gone…”
“You lost someone…special,” Dulcett understood.
“Several someones,” she muttered, “But most recently, he…uh…lost me….”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s complicated,” the Trill patted her hand. “I take it you don’t much about Trill physiology?”
“No,” Ghirta shook her head in confusion. “I do not.”
“I’ll have to send you some data on it, it should provide some illumination,” Ezri said, “Even though I’m still grappling with the unique genetic heritage of my people still.”
“We all do,” Dulcett reached out, now comforting Ezri. “This talk has been most…refreshing. I feel…well, I’m not sure how, but at least it wasn’t as lost as before.”
“That’s something at least,” Dax replied. “And I will always be here if you need to talk.”
“Thank you so much Ezri,” Dulcett smiled. “I think you’re first in line to be godmother.” The Trill chuckled.
“I would be honored,” she said. Both women turned at the light rapping against the wall.
The two women settled into a comfortable silence, punctuated by sips of deka tea. Ezri had brought it fresh from Bajor. It had been added to the list of Ghirta’s growing cravings.
“Thank you for coming all this way to see me,” Ghirta finally broke the silence. “I know it is outside of the realm of your responsibilities.”
“Not for a friend it isn’t,” Dax declared. Dulcett’s eyes watered slightly. She dipped her head in respect and acknowledgement.
“Thank you again.”
“Please, don’t mention it,” the Trill said. “The senior staff had been invited to attend Premier-elect Urlak’s inauguration anyway next week. What’s a few extra days of leave?”
“It’s certainly nothing to celebrate,” Ghirta’s eyes now narrowed. “Though I have been invited as well, and due to my family’s political and business connections, I will do so.”
“Not a fan of the premier-elect I take it,” Dax nodded.
“My family has had several run-ins with the Obsidian Order and though the Order is no more, I doubt Urlak has forgotten its teachings,” Dulcett concluded.
“I see,” Ezri said, “I hope that you are wrong though. My experiences tell me that change is possible, but it is extremely hard.”
“True,” Ghirta said, taking another sip of tea. “But change is only possible if one truly wishes for it. I think Urlak’s new moderation is a fiction.”
“He is a politician after all,” Dax smiled.
“True again,” Dulcett laughed, “So maybe I’m being too cynical. Perhaps even an old gettle like Urlak can change, or at least restrain and reroute our often destructive ambitions.”
“Let’s hope he can,” the Trill counselor took a long draught of tea and sat back on the sofa. She closed her eyes, exhaled, and then sat up. “I haven’t been completely truthful with you Ghirta.”
“Oh?” The woman raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
“I was planning to come to Cardassia Prime earlier anyway, before you called,” Dax admitted.
“Julian,” Ezri sighed again. “I haven’t seen him since he left the station.”
“That was several months ago,” Ghirta pointed out.
“Yes, several painful, confusing months,” Dax added. “For a long time I didn’t want to talk to him, there’s a part of me that still doesn’t, however….”
“The part of you that does has dug into you like a taspar beak,” Dulcett nodded sagely. She patted Dax on the knee. “I understand full well, the tug of the heart.”
“It just ended so abruptly between us, there was so much left unsaid, on my end at least,” Dax said. “I wanted to see him, to see how he was doing, but also to let him know how I’ve been feeling. If we can’t work it out, I think it’s the only way I can move on.”
“No, it isn’t,” Dulcett said.
“What do you mean?”
“You have already moved on, you do it every day that get up and perform your duties,” Dulcett replied. “You just want to see him again, you want either to resume the relationship or closure. What happens if you don’t get either?”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” Ezri admitted, pursing her lips. “I don’t even know if Julian will even talk to me.”
“I’m certain he will,” Dulcett said with confidence.
“I wish I shared your certainty.”
“From my impression it might have ended abruptly, but not rancorously,” the Cardassian said. “And while you’ve been thinking and replaying your final moments in your head all this time it’s a good bet that Dr. Bashir has as well. He might be eager to talk to you, but afraid to broach the subject.”
“Julian is afraid of very little,” Ezri was incredulous.
“Matters of the heart have turned stout-hearted Klingons into mewling grishnar cats,” Ghirta promised. “You’re not leaving this compound until you contact him and see if he wants to meet with you.”
Ezri smiled, “Okay,” she said hesitantly. “I’ll do it.” Ghirta pointed to an alcove.
“My personal communicator is nestled within. The room is sound-proofed,” she assured her. “Do it now.”
Ezri jumped slightly at the command. She pulled herself off the couch and stepped slowly over to the alcove. After she dipped inside it, Ghirta finished her tea and patted and stroked her stomach. The minutes stretched on and Ghirta considered making another cup of team before she heard a rustle behind her.
Dax’s gait was energetic as she exited the alcove. Her cheeks were reddened but a lopsided smile was on her face. She sat back down beside Ghirta. “How did you know?”
“I’m more than a little familiar with the strange river ways of the heart,” she patted her stomach again.
“If things go right I know who I’m recommending to replace me as counselor,” the smiling Trill said cryptically.