This story was written by TerokNor (Glinn Damar's POV) and Gul Re'jal (Gil Jarol's POV) in a Cardassian spirit of co-operation and is set in “Shaping a Cardassian” universe. Both authors are Continental Europeans and speak Cardassian perfectly, but not English, so prepare for impact of grammar errors. *** The story takes place in 2372 on board the Cardassian Union Freighter Groumall. *** Gil Jarol's shift ended and she was very grateful for that. She knew a soldier's work was sometimes dull and humdrum, but that day it was even more monotonous than usually. She headed for the mess hall to have supper, expecting to meet there her friend and colleague, Glinn Damar. The mess hall was as busy as always at this time, but Damar was nowhere in sight. That was unusual, as typically he arrived to the mess hall before her. “Computer, locate Glinn Damar,” she requested. “Glinn Damar is in his quarters,” the computer replied. Is he? She thought. Dining together became their small ritual and while she didn't mind him changing his plans for this evening, a notification would be nice. She left the mess hall and headed for his quarters. She stood in front of the door and chimed. Nothing. She chimed again. Damar sat in his quarters staring at nothing. It was dark around him, and silent. He felt stunned. He knew, of course, that the danger of getting killed in a fight was a possibility for a soldier and not a rare one, but that it had come true for Tarik, his brother, didn't want to sink in. He had never been very close to Tarik, however he had admired him. Tarik had always worked very hard and had never done anything wrong. Everything he had started always worked out fine and so, even being a low-born, he had been promoted to a Gul and got his own command of a warship at the young age of only 36. He was, like their father liked to point out, the perfect soldier and the perfect son (unlike himself, Damar). Those last words Tyrell did not say, but Damar could always hear them, when his father was telling him about all the glorious things Tarik managed to do, while he, Corat Eren Damar, was just a mere Glinn Grade One on an old freighter with no promotion or transfer in sight. When Tarik had been 30, like Damar himself was now, he had already worked as a Glinn Grade Two and a Gul's aide on a Galor for two years. Their father had been so proud of his oldest son; and now Tarik had died a glorious death for Cardassia. Damar drained the glass with kanar, which he was holding in his hands, and refilled it. Just at that moment the door chimed. Ignoring it, he drained the next glass, but whoever stood in front of his door was persistent and chimed again. Annoyed, Damar got up and went on unsteady feet to answer the door. When it slid open he stared angrily in the eyes of Gil Jarol. “What do you want?” he growled. “You didn't come to the mess hall, so I...” she realised something was wrong. “Are you drunk?” she asked, giving him a careful glance. He was just about to close the door right in her face, but she was faster and entered his quarters. “Damar, what happened?” she asked. She knew he wouldn't sit in darkness and drink alone without a reason. “Nothing happened!” Damar snapped. “Can't a man have a drink or two in his quarters in the evening? And besides…I did not invite you in!” Glaring at the Gil he went back to his sofa and sat down, the bottle back in his hand for refilling his glass the moment he touched the seating surface. Now she was sure something was wrong. Damar was everything, but he has never been rude to her. She went to the sofa and sat next to him. She didn't say anything, she just stared at him, observing him filling another glass. Damar felt her eyes on him. Who did she think she was, just stepping inside his quarters, sitting down on his sofa and staring at him, when all he wanted to do was to inebriate himself? Did she have no tact? Her behaviour was inappropriate. He would tell her to leave him alone! If he had to, he would even order her to leave his quarters! He turned around to meet her eyes. She still looked at him and wore a worried look on her face. Damar averted his eyes. He could not say what he had wanted to say. He didn't want her here, but he also didn't want her to go. “Do you have nothing better to do than to sit here and annoy me?” he snarled. She didn't reply at first, just kept staring at him. “I'd rather have my supper in the mess hall, sure,” she said finally. “But I can't help but wonder, if you have no better things to do than to sit here and get drunk. Do you really think Gul Dukat will not detect your breath tomorrow morning? He knows everything. You can run, but you can't hide and in addition he is enough unhappy with the performance of the freighter to add to his irritation... this,” she waved toward the half-empty bottle. “Not mentioning that I am sure something has happened to cause this mood, so why don't you just tell me?” She tugged her legs under her and turned her body to completely face him. “I am off duty.” Damar mumbled. “It's not Dukat's business, what I do off-duty…” He fell silent and turned his face away from her, the angry expression he wore crumbling away to reveal sadness. She didn't want to argue, although she knew all too well that drinking the whole night – and it seemed like that was Damar's intention – would influence performance the next day and that was Dukat's business. Wait, since when was Damar speaking about their commander with such disrespect? “Damar...” she said softly. “What has happened? I can see something's biting you. Is it something that happened on the bridge?” “Duty was fine,” Damar said, offering nothing more. Leaning forward he grabbed his glass and emptied it with one move. She didn't want to press. Maybe he didn't want to talk about it, but something was telling her that he also didn't want her to go. He complained about her presence here, but he didn't really clearly say he wanted her to leave. So she just sat there, saying nothing and keeping him company. She wished she could make him stop drinking for his own sake, but suspected her insisting would make things worse. After a long time of silence Damar said quietly, nearly whispering, “He would rather see me dead than him.” She didn't expect that. Her first instinct was to ask 'who?', but she didn't. She waited for him to continue. “My father was always so proud of him. He was everything he expected of a son and now…” Damar stopped, trying to get up from the sofa, which was quite a difficult task. “Would you like some kanar?” he asked Jarol, while already stumbling through the room, to get a glass for her. “No, thank you,” she shook her head. She wanted to add he shouldn't drink any more either, but she didn't want to change the subject once he started to talk. “Did something happen to your brother?” she asked softly. Damar stopped in front of a shelf with glasses, grabbing one anyway. “Would you like to drink something else instead?” he asked his back turned towards her. “Fish juice would be nice,” she said. Finally, she was getting something more from him than aggression. Putting the glass down, he went to the replicator on his right and ordered fish juice. With the cup in one hand he turned around, but the world spun rather strongly. He leaned against the replicator and closed his eyes for a moment, trying to find enough balance to transport the hot drink to Jarol. She quickly got up and went to him. “I better take that,” she took the cup from his hands and she put it on the table next to the sofa. “Come, sit,” she patted the seat next to her. Damar hesitated, then went in her direction, but changed his mind just before reaching her and went to the little and only window in his quarters instead. He stared outside into the black ocean, that was the universe. “It were the Klingons,” he finally said after a long moment of silence. “They left no survivors.” Her heart stopped for a moment. No survivors. She knew it all too well. She wasn't sure he would welcome it, but she got up and went to him. She stood close, a little bit too close, and put her hand on his shoulder. “I wish I could bring you a Klingon's head on a plate,” she said quietly. Shrugging her hand off he glared at her, his face turning hard again. “But you can´t!” he snapped. “You are serving on this powerless freighter! Our weapons are nearly non-existent. You can't fight! And neither can I! Go away! Leave me alone!” Roughly he grabbed her arm and shoved her in direction of the door. “Urrgh,” she growled, losing patience. She tore her arm out of his hand and headed for the door. She had enough of it. He didn't want to talk, then he could drink himself to death for all she cared. When the door closed behind her Damar picked up another glass of kanar, and sipped on it while starring at the door. His anger slowly subsided and guilt took its place. He knew she had only wanted to help him. He knew he had behaved unfair towards her. He also knew that he did not want to be alone with only the bad news and a bottle of kanar. But he did not know how to talk with her about the pain he felt. He didn't want to appear weak in front of her. The door closed behind her and she took a deep breath in. Damar could be such an ass sometimes. A tough guy, he thought of himself. So tough he needed litres of kanar to cope with... His brother was killed by Klingons. Of course he was shattered, who wouldn't be? Her anger subsided and she wanted to return to him, but knew he didn't want that. She was just about to move and go to her quarters, when she thought she heard something. She turned and saw him standing on the threshold. Miserable, hurt, lost. She couldn't leave him like this, not this night. She recalled how everyone had taken care of her when Bajorans had murdered her husband and children and her caretakers weren't as close to her as she was to Damar. She went back to him, grabbed his arm and in spite if his - weak - resistance, pulled him back to the sofa. She seated him and sat next to him. “You don't have to say anything. I'll just stay here and be here for you,” she said softly. He nodded and leaned forward to refill his glass again. “I am sorry I was so rough with you,” he said quietly and looked her into the eyes. “Don't worry about me,” her lips formed a sad smile. She took her cup with fish juice and took a sip. She sat comfortable on the sofa, leaned back and absent-mindedly looked at the wall in front of her. She didn't want to press him, she didn't want to force him to do anything. She just was there if he needed her. “How...” Damar hesitated. “How did you cope with...” he stopped again. “I've read your file,” he said instead. Her head rapidly turned and she looked at him. A wave of heat ran through her body under her armour and then another wave of cold. “I'm still coping, Damar,” she said very quietly. “I'm still counting days since... It's probably not what you want to hear, but it never goes away. You just go on and try to make it the best you can without... their support.” She silenced for a while. “And it was my fault. That they are gone. Mine. You didn't kill your brother.” She went quiet again. “Were you close? Your brother and you?” she asked. Damar shook his head. “Not really. Tarik is... was... many years older than I. He had already gone to the Academy when I was just a small child and he didn't visit home that often.” Tarik. She didn't know it was his name. She looked at Damar and she felt – again – this strange icy spike in her heart. Damar's given name meant so much to her. It wasn't only the fact that he shared it with her son, she had chosen it for her little boy. The boy that was no more, murdered by wrinkled noses. “I wish we could go to the front and fight those honour-less monsters,” she said. “How is your family doing?” she asked. When Jarol spoke about fighting Damar felt fire rush through his veins. He wanted to fight too! He wanted to go after those Klingons and avenge his brother. He wanted to punish them for what they did to Cardassia. For the pain and hunger his family had to endure. “My father is devastated,” he said aloud. “Losing Tarik was a hard blow for him. The worse that could happen, I guess. I have not spoken to my sister yet…” “Do you need any time off to visit them? I'm sure Dukat would--” Damar's face expression, when he looked at her, told her everything. “Or maybe not,” she said instead. They sat in silence for another moment. “Damar... When you said 'he would rather see you dead', did you mean your father?” He lowered his head, but didn't reply. She moved closer to him. “As a parent myself I am sure he wouldn't think like that. No parent wishes their child to die. You're the only son he has left.” Damar shook is head. “You don't know him,” he mumbled, while pouring the rest of kanar that was left in the bottle into his glass. “You didn't have any supper yet,” he suddenly stated, quickly changing the subject. “Would you like something to eat? I still have enough replicator rations left for today to get you something small,” he offered. Jarol was hungry, but she shook her head. “I think you need it more than I do, Mr. Kanar,” she replied. And then added. “Damar, some parents don't show their affection for their children, because they don't know how to. I know my grandfather didn't know how to. However I know he loved my father. And I am sure your father cares about you. Just like you care about your brother. Family is everything. And everyone is important. And no one – no one – would be able to easily choose one child over another. I'd rather die myself than make such a choice.” Damar laughed, but it wasn't a pleasant laugh. “Sure,” he slurred. Feeling defiant, because of her kanar comment, and pained, because she was right that family should be everything, but for the Damar family this seemed not as true as for other families, he got up and stumbled to his cabinet. He knew he had one more bottle kanar stored in there. Jarol sighed. Damar clearly had problems dealing with his feelings. “What hurts you more? The death of your brother and how your father could see it, no matter how mistaken your opinion is?” she asked softly. “That is non of your business,” he growled, coming back to the sofa with a new bottle and sitting down. “Besides you don't know my family, so how do you dare to judge if my opinion is right or wrong?” “For havens, Damar!” irritation flushed her face dark grey. “Who are you angry with? Or rather why are you angry with me? Fine. Your father hates you. I'm sure your brother let some stinky Klingon kill him to make you angry too, so that you would be frustrated by their nasty plot to show you how much they both despised you. Now, is my assessment correct?” This time it was Damar who just stared at her. He looked stunned first, but then an angry and hurt expression took over. Without a word he turned back to his kanar. “Put that bottle away and talk to me, or I leave. I have better things to do than babysit a drunk Glinn. I'd rather help my friend instead,” she said harshly, getting up and looking at him expectantly. “Then go and do those better things", he hissed still not looking at her. She went around the table, stood in front of him, stared at him for a moment, and then with one rapid move she knocked the kanar out of his hand and with another she struck him right below his left eye ridge with her fist. Damar leaped raging to his feet, just to nearly fall again. He lifted his fist to strike Jarol in the face, but when looking into her eyes he stopped, his hand hovering in mid-air. "You better lower this arm, before I break it," she said calmly. An eternity seemed to pass by, with both Cardassians just glaring at each other with fiery eyes. Damar could hear his heavy breathing, while Jarol stood there unmoving like made of stone. Finally he lowered his gaze and dropped his arm to the side. "Damar, I'm not your enemy," she said. She glanced at the bottle and wished she had broken it, as talking him out of getting totally drunk seemed impossible. Damar followed her gaze and bend down to retrieve the bottle. He put it down on the table. “I'm not feeling so well,” he stated slowly and put his hand against his head, slightly wavering on his feet. She grabbed the top edge of his armour and pulled him toward to sofa. "Sit down," she said. "Do you want a tea instead?" she asked. He nodded. She went to the replicator. "Computer, access Jarol, A. G. Red leaf tea, one cup." The replicator hummed. She took the cup and returned to Damar, handing him the tea. He took the tea without a word and sipped on it. “Did you know I am a parent too?” he asked suddenly. "I know you got married not a long time ago, but no... I didn't know," she smiled. "Is it a boy or a girl?" “A boy,” he answered. “His name is Tero.” "Do you know what was my son's name?" "No. Your family members' names were not listed in the file," he responded. “Corat.” Damar blinked at her slightly confused. She stared at him, awaiting his reaction. "Atira?" he said, sounding uncertain. Now it was her turn to blink at him uncertainly. "Why do you address me using my first name?" she asked slowly. Damars confusion grew visibly. “Well, you started.” "I started? What did I start? I don't mind... you're my best friend," she smiled sheepishly. "But..." her confusion was only increasing. "You just called me 'Corat'.” She smiled. "My son's name was Corat," she explained. "Oh...." Damar blushed a deep grey. "But..." she silenced and then finished," but I want you to call me Atira." She wasn't sure it was proper. She was older, but he outranked her, so she wasn't exactly sure which of them should come with this proposition. Damar smiled. "My pleasure.... Atira.” Jarol leaned against the back of the sofa and closed her eyes. Damar did the same and within a few moments he was asleep. Jarol listened to his even breathing, looking at him with a soft smile. After a moment she took the cup out of his hand, took off his boots and covered him with a blanket, which she found on a chair. Then she quietly left his quarters.