The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part One

Chapter Fifteen

“She threw her shoe at them," Kira paced around in a circle while waiting for her turn at proving she wasn't a Changeling even if she insisted upon consorting with them after all that had been said and done. "What am I going to do with her? What am I going to do?"

"Yes, well, I wasn't aware you were supposed to do anything with her," Odo replied.

"Well, I'm not," Kira agreed. "I'm not. I'm supposed to counsel her, yes."

"Yes," Odo said.

"If she has any questions about the Prophets' teachings, or Bareil's writings," Kira nodded.

"Yes," Odo said.

"She threw her shoe at them?" Kira grimaced. "Sounds like something Quark would do."

"Or Commander Dax," Odo deferred to the acclaimed practical joker of the group, there to keep a close eye over the last member of her troupe to make sure Kira didn't get it into her head to start throwing her shoes at anyone.

"Sounds like a girl thing," Dax shrugged.

"Girl, yes," Odo grunted. "She certainly is a girl, isn't she? A young woman more accurately by Federation standards."

"Oh, don't you start," Kira socked him, though she was laughing when she did. Continuing to laugh as she hung her head in proclaimed frustration. "Between Bashir and O'Brien…I can't take it, Odo, I can't. Not if you start, too." By that time she was laughing to the point she was almost crying, her fists hammering down into the examining bed.

"Yes, I can see that," Odo agreed.

"She threw her shoe at them," Kira collected herself to some extent. "Odo, she threw her shoe at them. Do you have any idea how many times I have wanted to do something like that?"

"No. Though correct me if I'm wrong, you will tell me."

"A lot," Kira promised. "Yes, I'll tell you, and it's a lot. And she did it. She did it!"

"So I understand," Odo grunted, really the only thing he could say.

"Sounds like a mother thing." Dax took care of saying anything else.

"A what?" Kira looked at her.

"A mother thing," Dax smiled. "You have a mother thing."

"I have a mother thing?" Kira repeated.

"Uh, hm," Dax nodded. "For Janice Lange."

"How could I have a mother thing?" Kira insisted. "I don't even know her."

"Well, not knowing someone doesn't stop anyone from having instincts… such as feeling a need to offer assistance or protection?" Dax suggested. "Sound familiar?"

"Or stop the impression you get from the person, such as someone in need or want of protection," Bashir wandered into the discussion with the announcement that Kira was precisely who she claimed to be, and that was not a Changeling. "Lange does rather have an air of virginal innocence around her," his smile turned to Dax, the last of the last apart from Captain Sisko to prove her DNA was her DNA, but certainly not the least.

"On the contrary," Bashir smiled, apparently of the same impression as the Chief that marriage and flirting in front of witnesses really didn't count, "there's something to be said for keeping the best for last."

"Oh?" Odo drawled. "What's to be said?"

"That I'm last." Dax declined adding fuel to Bashir's fire, pleasantly assuming her seat on the examining bed.

"Yes," Bashir supported with a rakish grin. "The same as it's late. You're tired, the same as I'm tired. You want to get home to Worf, the same as Worf wants you to…Or is that allowed?" he hinted how there was consorting and then there was consortium.

Odo turned his bland expression on Kira about ready to agree with her that he wasn't going to be able to take too much more of this himself.

"The Chief was worse," she said.

Odo's expression didn't change but that didn't detour her.

"O'Brien was worse," she insisted. "He's married for one thing."

So was Commander Dax. But Odo still got Kira's point. Apparently flirting was more significant when the offender was married rather than the offended. Even if Lange wasn't offended, which Commander Dax was extremely annoyed. Odo eyed Dax's spots still dark violet as they had been throughout most of the evening.

"Of course it's more significant," Kira scoffed. "Why? Don't you think it is?"

"No," Odo said.

"No?" Kira gawked. "The Chief made a fool out of himself."

"Yes," Odo supposed by her standards he did. The same as Martok probably did. In the meantime Bashir was extremely close to having Commander Dax make sem'hal stew out of him.


"Benjamin decided to make an exception in our case," Dax nodded to Bashir.

"When hasn't Benjamin decided that?" Bashir wondered. "In the meantime, failure to sequester you and Worf could very well be interpreted by Legate Damar as preferential treatment between the Federation and Bajor -- if not ganging up on Cardassia."

"Perish the thought." Odo's grunting reminder that witnesses were witnesses, as in present to witness didn't go entirely unnoticed.

"Julian…" Dax proposed a similar suggestion that he stop.

"I know," he grinned, "how dare I mention virginal and Janice in the same sentence."

"Actually, I was going to say…" Dax's head tipped in thought.

"That I'm almost as obnoxious as when I first arrived six years ago? Can't seem to decide if being obnoxious or playing the good doctor twenty-four hours a day is more me?"

"That's probably closer," Dax nodded.

"Damn it all!" Anon's fist struck the console in frustration, pitting his knowledge against their knowledge the Federation was winning. He couldn't find Janice anywhere.

"Anon," his brother sighed at his side in their assigned quarters with its impressive view of the station's docking ring and Martok's Klingon Bird-of-Prey lying in wait outside.

"Tan!" Anon's fist attacked his com badge. "Janice doesn't have a proximity detector, she has a security tag like some criminal. The frequency should be simple to find. Cardassian-Dominion technology surpasses Federation, everyone knows that."

The interference from Sisko's shields was noticeable in the quality of his Engineer's answer but tolerable. "Someone forgot to tell Sisko. You have a level 5 security field at both ends of the corridor."

"So?" Anon retorted. "Look for a level 5 security field at both ends of some other corridor. Martok is here. Damar. I am not the only troublemaker. The field just doesn't keep us in, it keeps everyone else out. Janice would have one also."

"The security field is Cardassian," Tan reminded him integrated Cardassian-Federation technology was an older, far more tested and exact science than their experiments with Dominion. "One of Dukat's. I'm having difficulty maintaining a lock."

"Don't say it," Pfrann warned Anon.

"I'm not going to say anything," Anon returned to the console. "If Legate Dukat wanted to live like a prisoner in his own command that was up to him."

"Janice has a DNA inhibitor," Pfrann insisted. "You don't even know if they activated the security tag."

"Holographic transmitter," Anon corrected. "And they activated the security tag. I don't think the Changeling is that smart, but I also don't think he's that trusting."

Pfrann was silent.

"Janice isn't a spy," Anon looked up, his voice holding an edge. "The idea is nonsense. I don't care what Sisko or Damar think."

"Sisko?" Pfrann snapped, but only because he probably cared less than his brother what Sisko thought.

"Yes, Sisko. I saw his face the same as I saw Damar's. DNA inhibitors. Holographic transmitters. What else can Janice be? Bajoran Intelligence. Bullshit. She's Janice. And she knows as little about Shakaar as she knows about Legate Dukat," he glowered at the uncooperative sensors. "Our father is not an engineer, Pfrann, I am. Why can't I find one woman in a sea of thousands? I didn't even see any other Humans, did you? If I can penetrate the Federation systems, deflect their security lock, I should be able to bypass his stupid field."

"No," his brother's hand sliced through the air impatiently. "I saw your face when you saw her. I see it when you look at her. That's the face I am concerned about."

"Because you know I'm serious?" Anon focused on scanning the station deck by deck.

"Yes," Pfrann insisted. "Because I know you're serious."

"A reason to rejoice, Pfrann," he suggested, "not panic."

"I am not the one panicking," Pfrann groaned. "You are; or you can," he said when Anon abruptly aborting his efforts to stand there in the somber, pensive stance of the Klingon Worf. As believable and trustworthy as some Klingon. "You have. I've seen you!"

His breath was wasted. Anon renewed his attack on the console with a punch of his com badge. "Tan!"

"The field…" Tan sighed.

"Forget about the field," Anon instructed, excitedly. "You're looking for an unknown entity. Sixty-five percent water. Internal temperature…Yes!" he cheered, grasping Pfrann's arm in triumph when the scanners suddenly halted their sweep.

"You found her?" his brother stammered at the display.

"Yes, of course, I found her. Simple. Just like Bashir. The sensors can read her, they just don't know what she is. I like that, and I don't like that," he activated his com badge one more time. "Tan!"

"But the force field…" Pfrann snapped out of his daze, having an idea of what Anon was planning to do.

He was right. "If Tan can penetrate Sisko's shields he can circumvent the security field…True or false, Tan?" Anon verified, the expected answer evident in Tan's voice.

"I can try," Tan straddled the fence between the two.

"No," Anon corrected. "Do, Tan, do."

"No, is right!" Pfrann desperately supported. "Tan can circumvent the shields to communicate with you, Anon. Not to transport you." he could barely finish the thought.

"Me?" Anon said. "No, I'm not transporting. Janice is."

Pfrann stared at him. Somehow his brother's willingness to take such a risk with Janice's life did not seem compatible with his ardent claim of love. Pfrann wasn't quite sure why he thought that, he just knew he did.

"I have a proximity detector implant, Pfrann," Anon patiently reminded him. "Janice has that stupid tag. They are suspicious of her, but frightened of me. Suspicion comes with my presence…with my name," he smiled slightly at his father's paranoia activated along Janice's corridor as he fed her coordinates to Tan for comparison to what he could see. "Why do you think I agreed? Let them monitor me. I never left this room."

"You could kill her," Pfrann answered hoarsely. "The field could disrupt the matter stream and scatter her molecules."

"No, I am not going to kill her," Anon shook his head, "and neither is Tan."

"I said could! Our father had to be thinking of site to site transports and take precautions against them."

"Klingon," Anon nodded. "Federation, Bajoran, yes."

"The Dominion phasing technique is as unstable as the Romulan, you know that," Pfrann's hand slapped down on the console severing the data link to the Tir.

"And neither is Damar going to kill her!" Anon shoved him away with a bark. "You heard what he said in the Infirmary the same as I did!"

"No, he said, I know. That is all he said. He was talking about Martok!"

"He was talking about Janice! He was talking about me! Rigelian fever. Transports and Klingons eight months ago. He knows our location. He doesn't have to look at any data to verify our coordinates. If he examines the Bajoran and Federation records -- which he will do; is doing, he'll know Janice's world is our world. I am our father. Janice is Naprem. And she is a spy!"

"Spy," Pfrann groaned. "If Damar is thinking that, he is as insane as you. I was there. Tan. Everyone. You were not indiscreet. Janice is Janice, not Naprem. And Anar!" he hissed in Anon's face, "is Maquis! Something else to be concerned about. They cannot agree with this conference; they cannot!"

"Maquis," Anon scoffed, calmer for a moment. "We destroyed the Maquis, Pfrann, don't you know that? Remember? We annihilated them. Killed those we felt like killing and when we grew bored condemned their shattered dreams to our mines. There are no more Maquis."

"No," Pfrann shook his head, invoking Anon's earlier words. "Maquis is an idea, Anon. A dream. A sixty year old grandfather," he clutched him, "with a grandson of six months!"

"Uncles with First Ministers for their nephews." Anon said, well aware of Anar's lineage he couldn't hide any more than his brother could hide his face unless he wore a mask. "Like Dukat, Shakaar wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice Janice to cover his own indiscretion; Anar will never allow it. He'll kill him long before I or you."

"I am talking about you!" Pfrann hissed. "Shakaar is looking to destroy the conference and his weapon is you! The Maquis have sympathies throughout the Federation, more than it cares to admit. Anar is a martyr; Janice less. Who they will condemn is you. From the Bajorans to the UFP, to Cardassia Prime!"

"And in Damar's mind," Anon understood, "I will kill Janice to silence her. Saving his precious consulate and sparing him the trouble of having to do it himself. Well, I have a better idea. I am not going to kill Janice and blame it on the Bajorans, or the Breen. I'm going to marry her and blame it on love. Tan!" he hammered his com badge.

"I have the data," Tan agreed.

"Good," Anon ignored his brother pacing around the living area of their quarters, reactivating his link to his battle cruiser. "Use a pattern enhancer for a test article -- a small one. One Janice can pick up in her hand. She will pick it up, Tan. I know her. She is intrigued and fascinated by everything around her even if she doesn't have any idea what it is; which she doesn't. You could send her a phaser on overload and she would pick it up."

There was a momentary silence from his Chief Engineer.

"Don't even think about it, Tan," he warned. "You know I hate to repeat myself and the speech is quickly becoming old. The enemy is Damar, not Janice."

"Preparing test article," Tan agreed.

"You didn't answer me!" Anon snapped. "Janice did not save my life and my brother's and forget to save yours. Cardassian filth was the dirt on your uniform to her, not you. Move in her direction to harm her and I will no more hesitate to kill you then I would Damar or anyone."

"Your concern is unwarranted," Tan reassured above the static interference. "Our loyalty is sworn to you and the Lieutenant and your families as it was to your father and his."

"Lieutenant," Anon grinned at his brother's sullen scowl. "That's you. You hear the respect in his voice? He doesn't have to say it, all you have to do is listen."

Pfrann couldn't listen to Tan. He was still listening to what Anon said about their father's murder of Tora Naprem that he subsequently blamed on the Breen.

"Yes, Breen, Pfrann," Anon sighed. "I don't think our father sent a woman and their child to their new life to return six years later to kill only the daughter who did not see to die. Perhaps in his mind he did this, yes. To console, cajole Nerys. Incur her favor and sympathy. But in truth, the liabilities were two, not one. Tora Naprem and Tora Ziyal were prisoners, not passengers, and the deaths would have been two not one."

"You would like to believe," Pfrann answered quietly.

"What I would like to believe and do believe is irrelevant," Anon interrupted. "Tora Naprem and Tora Ziyal alive or dead does not change the fact that Nerys is his conscience if she is nothing else to him. Picking, prodding and chipping away at him for ten years. A power he has allowed her when he could snap her in half. A myriad of threats and tantrums, he has never done it. Why do you think that is? I know what I think, you're right, I do."

"You would like to think the threat is only Damar!" his brother completed his thought. What he was talking about. The details and truth of a twenty year old love affair long dead and forever buried with his half-sister Ziyal irrelevant other than as a glaring example that it was. It existed. Its universal dangers as alive and compelling as they always were, regardless of the players' names.

"Yes, of course, I would like to believe that," Anon shrugged with a disinterest he could not begin to feel. "First in line, not third behind the Bajorans and the Maquis -- and the True Way," his grin for his brother was sly that time. "Two years ago you were fighting the Civilian Counsel on our father's behalf so you claim."

"Truth not claim!" Pfrann snapped.

"Truth, not claim," Anon shrugged again. "Truth is Central Command is not as impotent as you once thought. Any more than our father is as he believes he is -- emotionally, Pfrann," he clarified before his brother finished counting down the names of his siblings. "Emotionally and physically in his strength. Who is, is Damar. You should be happy, not frightened. You like to fight, now you are fighting Damar on our father's behalf. Protecting Legate Dukat's daughter and yet-born grandson, my son, and your nephew from him. Martok's Klingons. The Bajorans and the Maquis. In that order for tonight. By tomorrow, yes, you are right, the order will have changed with the Bajorans at the top of the list!" his fist on his com badge. "Tan!"

"Pattern enhancer is ready."

"Well, do it," Anon ordered. "An hour to find her, an hour to explain the reasons why. She's not asleep, she's waiting for me…Is she?" his question of Pfrann glancing over the display was anxious.

"She's moving around," Pfrann agreed.

"Tan?" Anon asked.

"Initiating transport."

"And?" Anon said.

"Complete," Tan assured.

"She has the pattern enhancer," Pfrann nodded as Anon stared at the console. "You were right. She picked it up."

"Yes!" Anon's hand cracked against his arm, his voice elated. His face settled into disdain a moment later.

"What?" Pfrann asked tiredly. "I didn't say anything. I'm tired of arguing with you. You're right. I like to fight. And so we fight," he shrugged. "Your fight. My fight. Legate Dukat's. It's all the same. And we will win."

"What? What?" Anon's face pressed close to his. "Go to bed. That's what. I need assistance, I'll call you. I don't think I will."

"To bed," Pfrann repeated.

"To bed." Anon returned to his com badge and patient engineer. "Now, Tan. Don't worry about the security bracelet. I will take care of it…" his smile teased his brother dallying. "Continue transmitting Janice's signal for the Changeling's files until you find her a new bracelet…Not too difficult to do. They're Cardassian. The same as everything else here is."

"Oh," Janice blinked once as she flopped down on her bed to curl up on her side, Damar's proposal dangling from her hand, the room suddenly tickling with the streams of a transport matter beam. She blinked again when she immediately rose to pick up the small curious looking instrument with its distinctive Cardassian markings.

"Anon?" she stood up to look around the quiet and dimly lit darkness. She was gone a moment later when the transporter beam abruptly returned. Her head swimming as she clutched the instrument. Her startled "Oh!" tinged slightly with fear.

"No, I have you!" Anon's voice penetrated her dizziness as the room faded in and momentarily out of focus. Janice felt his arm around her waist and his hand taking the instrument away.

"Where am I?" she really didn't have to ask that as her vision cleared. Obviously she was in his quarters, not hers. The tell-tale signs were pretty clear beyond the Klingon Bird-Of-Prey hovering just outside the porthole and Pfrann lingering in a doorway.

"Where do you think you are?" Anon grinned, feeling giddy and breathless as he had felt leaning over the railing in Quark's.

"Your quarters," Janice nodded.

"My quarters," Anon pulled her by the wrist towards the computer console, a new and different interesting looking instrument in his hand as he activated his com badge. "Tan, do you have her signal?"

"I have it," Tan assured.

"Good. Deactivating now. Try to maintain stability in the frequency. It doesn't have to be perfect…Just almost," he ginned at Janice peering curiously at her security bracelet. "What?"

"What are you doing?" she nodded.

"Deactivating you. Two hours it took me to find you, you know that? This thing was worthless. Everything was worthless until I started thinking like Bashir about what a DNA inhibitor could not hide."

"Holographic transmitter," Janice teased. "I am a rock. Doctor Bashir told me. I'm not quite sure why Anar just didn't."

"Would you have understood him if he did?" Anon snapped the security bracelet free to throw it across the room, trying not to run his hands up her bare arms as he stared at the sunset in her hair.

"I'm not sure I understood him when he called it a DNA inhibitor," Janice laughed. "Nadya."

"What?" Anon said absently.

"My hair." her finger poked him in his chest.

"Oh," Anon said. "Yes, I know that. I like it. But, no, I wasn't thinking that. I was thinking about my father…" he floated back to the apricot sun she called hair. "I cannot imagine his pain. He thinks you're a Klingon."

"Ziyal?" Janice agreed sympathetically.

"No, Martok," Anon shook his head. "That's his ship out there. His battle cruiser, he likes to think…" he frowned. "Why would Ziyal think you are Klingon?"

Janice would go along with that. "Why would your father be upset if she did?"

"What?" Anon said.

"I'll also go along with that," Janice nodded. "You said something about your father's pain. I said Ziyal. Then you said something about General Martok and the Klingons."

"He's here," Anon agreed. "That was him in the Infirmary screaming at Pfrann… Did he hurt you?" his hand dared to stray to her chin, touching it gently.

"Pfrann?" Janice wanted to laugh even though she knew who he meant. She couldn't laugh though. All she could do was gaze back into his eyes where she could almost see her reflection in his lens. Desperation made her think of the portholes and the ship docked outside. "Can he see us?"

"Pfrann?" Anon repeated. "No, he's in bed."

He was in the doorway a moment ago, though he wasn't there now. Janice pointed towards the portholes. "No, Martok."

"He can see Terok Nor, the same as she can see him. Why are you asking?"

"Because I'm not exactly dressed for company?" she hinted, the floor warm under her bare feet. The rough, woven fibers of his tunic tickling her bare arms starting to sweat. Anon woke up from his trance to notice the sleeveless green shift loosely covering her from her neck to her knees.

"I like your dress," he agreed. "It's soft."

"It's not a dress, it's a nightgown. Commander Dax's. I left mine on the shuttle."

"Why would you do that?"

"Because I'm not too bright?" she shrugged.

"Not too bright," Anon repeated, remembering she accused him of that for removing the spike of shrapnel from his chest. She must have been thinking of herself. Her chest and arms were half the size of Pfrann's half the size of his. The collarbone of her neck no thicker than one of his fingers. The force of the shrapnel would have killed her. Pierced her through one side and out the other. The impact of the crash would have crushed her, crumbling her dangling limbs into pieces.

"Did you mean to do that?" Janice was laughing after her broken security bracelet. "And even if you did, will it still work?"

"Never again," Anon assured, feeling himself fade back into his trance he attempted to snap out of it with a smile. "But that's all right. They're Cardassian. Tan has thousands of them…One or two, at least. He can borrow one from the Security office out from under the Changeling's nose if he can't find them."

"Next to the shelf marked knives," Janice folded her arms with a nod.

"Kut'luch!" Anon threw back his head with a laugh. "What did you expect me to do? Throw my shoe at him like you? Eh?" the tip of his steel-toed boot tapped lightly down on her toes. "My foot doesn't look like that; not anything at all."

"I know what your feet look like. Anar and I dodged them for three days. Stop trying to change the subject. You overreacted. Admit it. You should have just ignored General Martok."

"He's Klingon, Janice," he said. "Can you understand that?"

"I understand he's Klingon, yes. Anyone can see that."

"Yes, see it," Anon nodded. "A difference in the skin. A difference in the body. The hair, the shape of the head. That's it, that's all. Just like me -- Janice, I want you to quit the conference. Resign. Tell Shakaar no, you won't do it. For those two reasons. Klingon. Cardassian."

His request startled her. "Quit the conference? What did you mean? I can't just quit."

"Yes, you can," he insisted. "I want you to. Not for political reasons, for personal. I don't want you to get hurt!"

"Hurt?" she said. "Why would you say I'm going to get hurt?"

"Because that's why, Janice," he groaned. "That is exactly why. You don't understand -- you don't!" his hands gripped tightly around her shoulders. "Fight for your replicators, or give them away; nothing is going to save you, Janice, they're going to kill you anyway. We're going to kill you," he said. "Yes, we. We, Cardassian. They, the Klingon. Bajoran. A week isn't going to change fifty years or even three. You can't disagree with us, you can't agree. We're not here to listen, we're here to tell you. You try to open your mouth, and Martok, Damar, Shakaar are going to shut it for you unless you shut theirs first. Can you do that? Can you?"

"Anon, please," she begged him. "I'm trying to understand, I really am; at least what you're saying to me. I just not sure what you expect me to say to you."

"Say thank you!" he surrendered and kissed her, his hands lost somewhere in the snarls of her hair. Her lips were as warm and soft as he remembered them, the flesh of her arm comfortably hot around his neck. He untangled his hands eventually; his smile light; his fingers toying with the tips of hers; their arms relaxed at their sides.

"Do you remember when I said Cardassians kiss for a reason?" he asked.

"Yes," she nodded.

"Humans, too?" he verified hopefully.

"Yes," her smile tickled her mouth.

"Good," he sighed a deep breath of approval. "So if I tell you my reasons, you will tell me yours?"

"Sounds fair," she agreed.

"I love you," he said, watching her lips part slightly again in surprise.

"Love?" Janice whispered.

"Here, let me show you," he picked up her hand, pressing his palm firmly against hers. "This is love on Cardassia. Binding. Union. And I love you," he assured her. "Eight months. I think I should tell you that especially when I haven't seen you for six. What do you think?"

"Oh, Anon!" she threw her arms around his neck.

"Time!" Anon pulled himself free of her kiss to gasp in her ear.

"The time is zero two hundred, zero five," the station's disinterested computer complied in its unemotional monotone.

"Tell me again when it's 0600," his hand gripped the back of her head carefully, the muscles of his arm tight with restraint. "If that's acceptable to you?"

"Probably," she giggled shyly.

"Yes, probably me, too," he swept her up off her feet with a laugh and little effort. His uniform and boots were heavier than her, and their weight was nothing. He was unprepared for the extent of her Human weakness. At almost his height, six inches taller than his father's Nerys, he wasn't the only one who could crush her like a bag of air, so could the petite Major Kira. The realization startled and immediately frightened him. Not entirely confident in his ability to protect her against a galaxy of more powerful beings never mind the ruling notorious few. The smell of her hair was dizzying though, encouraging him to ignore his concerns. "Just whatever you do -- "

"Don't tell Anar," Janice laughed in agreement.

"He threatened to kill me," Anon grinned. "Move, Dukat, in her direction, any of you, Pfrann, too."

"He said the same thing to me," she nodded.

"You?" he blinked. The threat made no sense. Anar adored and honored her. That was clearly obvious to him. Calling her daughter when he didn't call her child.

"Move, Federation," she teased him with suggestions of powerful friends and connections, "in Anon's direction, Pfrann's either. So I guess he must like you, too."

"Are you Federation?" he just wondered, no malice intended if she was Sisko's spy, Bajoran Intelligence or survived Maquis.

"Neutral," Janice crossed her heart. "Born, raised, to my grave. I think I'm probably too impatient to be anything else."

"Central Command," Anon understood the sentiment. "I am too impatient for Pfrann's True Way. They scheme for the Union to rule, I know we do rule. It doesn't matter though. Legate Dukat's Union will be restored either way. Guaranteed."

"Should I be frightened?" Janice asked, even though she wasn't.

"Of Legate Dukat or the Cardassian Maquis?" Anon laughed again. "Yes, definitely. But, no, you won't be. I also know that."

"Oh, well…" Janice touched his collar length straight black hair. It was coarse and oily either naturally or coated with a heavy pomade. Quite unlike hers as well as quite unlike the female of his race whose elaborate hairdos of twists and braids were often worn to their ankles. She wasn't sure if that was just the way it was on Cardassia. A preferred choice of hair dressing between the male and the female, or an attempt by the military to emulate the Romulan Star Empire and at least try to make themselves all look alike even though they didn't. "Perhaps I'll wait to quit the conference Tuesday."

"No, you don't have to quit," Anon shook his head. Her inspection of his hair while intriguing was mildly unnerving.

"But you said," Janice reminded him.

He knew what he said and the reasons why. They were all still valid. Unfortunately so were his feelings. "I don't want to leave in a week. You think I want to leave tomorrow? You quit, I couldn't convince Sisko with a phaser of a reason for me to stay. My father's right. What you Humans lack in strength you make up for in your thick heads, never mind us."

She looked at him; he changed to a safer subject, curious about the sweet smell and salty taste in his mouth. "You're sweating."

"Maybe because it's hot enough in here to make a Vulcan faint?"

"No, a Vulcan wouldn't faint. They like it hotter than we do. What's the matter with you? I thought you were an anthropologist?"

"Bajorans are as complicated as I get," she assured. "You, on the other hand, are a little too simple for your own good with your kut'luchs in one hand and your phaser rifles in another. It's 2375, Anon, catch up. Ram horns and brass brassieres were in fashion two thousand years ago on Earth."

"Simple," he scoffed. "Talk to my father five minutes, I have a headache. We are not a simple race, and he is a thoroughly confusing man."

"I'll remember that when I meet him. Now, turn the heat down. Don't tell me it's not a hundred and twenty in here, because it is."

"Good," he continued to ignore her complaint about the temperature. "So when I tell you not to listen to him, you will listen to me."

"Sounds controlling," Janice grinned. "How typical."

"Yes that we are. Controlling. Not ourselves. You."

"I meant typical of a man," Janice laughed. "Any man. My mother warned me and after twenty-four years, I would have to say I agree with her."

"That's not very neutral of you," he slyly countered, alluding complaints of gender inequality were not entirely foreign to him.

"My dark side," Janice confessed. "Tell me yours. Are you going to make love to me and leave? I say no. There's an old Earth saying 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' that suggests you better not even try."

"Terok Nor," he swore, "yes. Janice Lange, no."

"Good," she smiled. "Now tell me what you think of the name George."

He had no idea what she meant. Her question as mysterious as her reference to horns, making love and ancient human proverbs; subjects he didn't even attempt to approach. This time was different. "George?" he frowned.

"Your son." his half-sister Ziyal's voice whispered in his ear. He didn't recognize it any more than he could see her standing in the realm between his universe and her Prophets' world.

"My son?" Anon stared at Janice in his arms.

"There's another Earth saying if you play with fire you shouldn't be surprised if your daughter Ziyal wakes you up in the middle of the night -- or your son," Janice bit her lip, staring into his eyes. "That is if Humans and Cardassians can mate. I don't know. Do you?"

Anon had no idea for all his sanctimonious ravings to his brother about separating and elevating himself above his father's rakish behavior.

"Probably not without genetic intervention," Janice decided. "Which would make it more of a choice rather than an accident."

"I disapprove of my father's actions," Anon interrupted her, "not his choices."

"There's a difference?" Janice always assumed one was the same as the other.

"Between myself and my father?" Anon misunderstood. "Yes. Huge." Though whatever the difference was it didn't stop him from joining with her any more than the potential threat of parenthood did, so he must have meant something else.


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