The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part One

Chapter Seven

A tray clattered to the floor at Kira's feet announcing the arrival of Quark better late than never to gush, "I'm in love."

"So much for sober and sensible?" Dax smiled at Kira.

She could say that again. Kira looked up from the tray to Quark. "Hey," he sneered. "When you're in love, you're in love…And I'm in love…" He stepped over the tray.

Kira's arm caught him dead across the chest. "One more step and you'll be wearing your lobes upside down on the back of your head."

Quark shuddered. Those large and protruding Ferengi ears of his she so callously threatened to dismantle were one of the more sensitive erogenous zones of his race. "You really know how to hurt a guy."

"That I do," Kira promised. "That I do."

In the meantime, the sound of a duffel bag stocked with data files dropping to the floor roused Worf from his stupor. His mouth closed, his eyes cleared and he was staring at: "Jadzia," Worf breathed, terror pounding in his Klingon hearts.

"Glorious?" Dax accepted the empty chair clutched in his hand.

Worf groaned. "I meant the gagh."

"You meant her hair," Dax assured, generously turning to mention to Benjamin clutching the chair on her left: "You have barbecue sauce on your upper lip."

"Thank you," Sisko thanked her through his teeth, snatching up Garak's napkin to scrub his smile clean.

"Not at all," Dax said with a second flash of her smile up at Worf.

"I meant," Worf insisted, "the gagh. It is glorious!" He barked across the masses to Quark.

"Go on," Quark waved back with a blush, promptly proceeding to hammer Kira out of the way. She hit the floor with a crash. Quark halted to eye her but then he just shrugged. "You only live once."

"Yes, apparently," Bashir snapped to attention with a hurried and shocked reach for Kira.

"Leave me alone!" she ordered. "Just leave me alone! Let go!"

"All right." He let go, and Kira promptly hit the deck a second time. Bashir grinned sheepishly down on her. "You said to let go."

"Yes…" Odo said as Kira rose stiffly, straightening her uniform with a contained nod to Janice understandably taken aback.

"Are you all right?" Janice asked.

"I'm fine." Kira's nod turned to Sisko waiting patiently. "I'd like you to meet --”

"Garak!" Garak exhaled in appreciation at Kira's side, delighted to make the acquaintance of such an attractive young woman brightening up their otherwise dull and meaningless lives. "Elam Garak!"

"Julian Bashir!" Bashir heartily supported Garak's appraisal.

"Miles O'Brien!" the Chief threatened to make it unanimous.

"Oh, for -- What do you think you're doing?" Kira gave O'Brien a judicious clout in the arm.

"What?" he insisted defensively. "I can't say hello to the woman?"

"Quark," Quark slipped in with an oiled smirk, firmly planting himself in front of Doctor Lange and his hand casually down in O'Brien's dish. "Coffee, tea, or…" He felt the warmth of mashed potatoes and gravy oozing through his fingers.

"Lamb," O'Brien nodded as Quark picked up his dripping hand with a scowl.

"Glorious," Dax agreed.

Worf huffed. "Your hair," he assured the Human female by the name of Doctor Janice Lange. "It is glorious. I am Worf, a Klingon. And to a Klingon, your hair is glorious. Worthy of mention."

"Oh," Janice bit her lip with a light giggle for the imposing Klingon Worf towering a head or two above everyone. "Well, actually, I was admiring yours."

"Mine…" Worf's hand strayed to his long and tightly braided locks pulled back in a heavy, neat tail.

"Yours. I would love…"

"I would be honored…" Worf swelled to volunteer before he sat down suddenly and hard.

"We get the picture," Dax released the back of his tunic gnarled in her fist.

"To explain to you the procedure," Worf extended Janice. "With Jadzia in attendance, of course."

"We're a couple," Dax pleasantly added. "Where Worf goes, I go. It's just the Klingon way."

"Oh, good," Janice said. "Because, that might be fun…" Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Kira shaking her head. "Or maybe not."

"No. I'm sorry, but no." And Kira extended that unyielding no to Bashir.

"No, what?" he blinked innocently.

"Indeed, Major," Garak agreed equally befuddled by what Kira could possibly mean. "No, what?"

"I said, no," Kira insisted.

"What no?" O'Brien scoffed. "I said hello, I can't say hello?"

"Shows how much you know about politics," Quark sneered at her. "I'm a Neutral."

Odo eyed Kira expectantly, his voice droll. "No, what?"

"Just no," she laughed. "I didn't want to leave you out."

Odo grunted. "Yes, well, shows how much you know about Changelings… Constable Odo," he moved past Kira's agog expression to introduce himself to the young woman responsible for the group of them taking turns at making asses out of themselves. "Chief of Security for DS9. Though in your express instance you'll find your security advisor to be Commander Dax -- Doctor Lange? I presume?"

"Oh, yes," Janice quickly apologized to the interesting looking Constable Odo with the soft, understated features that almost looked as if they weren't finished. He wasn't a species she recognized. His manner as soft as his appearance though, she felt immediately comfortable with him. "Janice Lange, yes," she smiled. "I'm sorry, where are my manners…"

"You should probably ask where are ours…" Odo turned to Sisko. "This is Captain Benjamin Sisko, who I believe Major Kira had been about to introduce."

"Oh, yes," Janice shook Sisko's outstretched hand, her emerald eyes sparkling in excitement to meet the Captain she had heard so much about over the last few weeks. He was a muscular man with smooth dark skin and a cleanly shaven head. Approximately the same height of his lanky Constable, he was somewhere between the age of Odo and the shorter, broader Miles O'Brien. A narrow, closely clipped beard added a devilish, almost provocative flare to Sisko's appearance that she didn't believe for a moment. Bristling energy and strength tempered with kindness emanated from him. Good humor; good fun. "How do you do, Captain Sisko? I'm Doctor Janice Lange, First Minister Shakaar's representative."

"I'm quite fine," Sisko's deep, vibrant voice was welcoming. "I trust you are also. Your trip?"

"Oh, yes," Janice agreed. "But please, call me Janice -- or is that allowed?" she checked with Kira.

"No," Kira maintained whether it was or not.

"Oh," Janice said with apologies to Sisko. "I'm sorry. All of these formalities have me a little confused."

"Chief O'Brien will certainly agree with you there," Sisko gestured for her to be seated.

"Yes, Chief O'Brien certainly will," O'Brien assured. "Or is that allowed?" he verified. "I mean, can I talk to the woman? Or is that a violation of some protocol?"

"Not for this evening, no," Sisko smiled. "And certainly not," he reassured Janice, "in the presence of all sides -- or most sides," he smiled. "The Cardassian representatives have not yet arrived. Still," he smiled, "as commander of this station, I see no harm in everyone meeting each other under social and hopefully pleasant circumstances.

"As it is possibly I who should be apologizing to you," he smiled, "on the behalf of my staff and guests…" A warm twinkle flickered through his eyes turning to Dax. "I know that must be crossing Dax's mind…"

"Just briefly," Dax smiled in return.

"Yes…" Sisko cleared his throat. "As well as Major Kira's…"

"For a moment or two," she said.

"Yes…" Sisko quickly opted to retreat back to Lange. "However, I can assure you, we were all simply startled to find you had arrived…"

Dax likewise noticed Benjamin just glossed right over how he and the rest of them had been notified over his com badge of Lange's unanticipated arrival by security.

"Oh, yes, I understand from Major Kira I'm early," Janice nodded.

"Several hours," Sisko accepted without the slightest thought of accusation. "But quite all right as I said. We do have Mister Garak with us…" he reintroduced Garak seated to her immediate left; a Cardassian of average height and weight with a highly provocative air, invitational. Like a spider coaxing a fly into its web. Garak made Janice want to laugh; she wasn't quite sure why. "A native of Cardassia Prime, should Legate Damar have any questions."

"Which, of course he will," Garak beamed at Doctor Lange, truly an exceptionally attractive young woman by Human standards that he did concur. Highly provocative in her own right with her flagrantly understated tunic and untamed mane of hair. She looked wild, free. So utterly natural and extraordinarily delicate at the same time. "But never fear, my dear, as always, Captain Sisko's wish is my command."

"Oh, good," Janice breathed relieved. "Because it doesn't matter to me what I sleep in, but I will need to borrow something of yours to wear in the morning; I hope that's not too inconvenient."

Worf stabbed himself in the mouth with his fork. Bashir choked. O'Brien inhaled his beer while Quark dropped another tray. Sisko just cleared his throat again in tune with Garak's halting stammer, "I beg -- I beg your pardon?"

"I left my clothes on the shuttle," Janice shrugged. "I don't know how I did, but I did. Major Kira's already mentioned if anyone could, you would be able to help me."

"I see…" Garak's slow and deliberate nod of understanding trailed its way to finding Kira even though no, he didn't understand anymore than the rest of them -- Other than Commander Dax, Garak noted. Yes, apparently she did understand something.

"You're a tailor, Garak," Kira reminded him coldly.

"Oh," Garak said. "Oh, yes, that's true I am, aren't I?" he recalled.

"Yes!" she snapped.

"And how very kind and thoughtful of Major Kira to recommend me, my dear," Garak oozed his way back to Janice. "Oh, yes, how very generous of her. Because, yes, I am a tailor by trade, that's very true…Not always, naturally," he candidly disclosed for her information. "But, yes, for the past several years since I have been living here on DS9. Prior to that --”

"He was a tailor on Cardassia Prime." Major Kira attempted to be humorous.

"A spy, actually," Garak's coating smile paused to coat Kira. "You're missing a unique opportunity, Major; I am surprised to have to point out. Should Legate Damar present any questions regarding my involvement with Doctor Lange, which of course he will, we'll just remind him how I was once a member of our once illustrious Obsidian Order…Something that should alleviate any concerns," he promised Janice, "that I am not spying on you. Because of course, I am; I spy on everyone."

"You're funny," Janice was glad to find she been right to like him immediately even though she did believe that distinct devilish glitter in his watery eyes. The same as she believed the one she could see in Commander Dax's. Major Kira, she suspected was one of the more serious members of the small group. Kira reminded Janice of someone and she knew just who. Anon. Janice smiled at Garak, one of the few Cardassians she had ever met in her life beyond Anon and his small crew. Despite Shakaar's liberal and generous effort to prepare her for what should be the culture shock of her life, Garak really didn't seem to be anymore disdainful or ominous than Anon had.

No more intimidating than the strong and silent Klingon Worf.

No more suspiciously watchful than the young doctor Julian Bashir.

No more suspicious than Chief Miles O'Brien whose energy held a slightly sharper edge than Captain Sisko. Charged with a stream of mild impatience and minor irritation, Chief O'Brien appeared to be a man who needed to be shown things rather than told. Similar to Major Kira, and certainly no more frightening himself than the playful Commander Dax, equally powerful in her physical appearance and aura.

Speaking of playful. Janice's attention flitted between listening to Garak and smiling back at Quark's impatient look of disgust smeared across his face.

"A much appreciated compliment," Garak was nodding. "If I may compliment you in return, for while not being Klingon, I must say your hair is quite striking. Really quite extraordinary. From the texture to the color."

"Oh, yes," Bashir supported.

"Definitely," O'Brien promised, "top notch."

"We know," Quark assured Worf opening his mouth, "glorious."

"That was my foot you kicked, by the way," O'Brien alerted Dax. "Worf's the one on your left. I'm on your right."

"Sorry," she shrugged.

"It's all right." O'Brien just passed the kick onto Julian who passed it on to Kira who passed it on to Odo who passed it across to Worf.

"So what's the bottom line here?" Quark questioned Janice, more interested in the hairdo that took up three times the space than she did at the table than in who was kicking whom. "Half the customers are asking if you're Klingon, the other half have a bet going you were hit with a phaser on stun."

"Human," Janice crossed her heart.

"Uh, huh," Quark gave Bashir a sock between his shoulder blades. "That's okay. We'll find out. You've got a date with him later for a physical -- trust me, I know everything," he forestalled Kira's indignant yelp. "I'm surprised I have to point that out."

"Well, personally, I, for one, am glad you did," Bashir jumped to his feet. "For heaven's sake, the woman could be highly contagious. Exposing us all to all sorts of deadly --”

"Sit," Sisko directed, "down."

"Sitting," Bashir sat back down with a grin. "Just a joke, of course… Though I'm sure either Kira or Dax have explained to you," he confirmed with Janice, "that you will have to undergo a medical screening. Nothing too dramatic. Just a small sample of your DNA. I have all sorts of things like teddy bears for you to hold, if you're a coward like the rest of us."

It was around that time Sisko was interrupted again over his com badge by security officer Lieutenant Jacobs.

"Captain?"

"Sisko, here..." Sisko's focus strayed to Quark handing Janice a menu; five voices joined in a chorus of recommendations.

"We just received a transmission from the Cardassian battle cruiser Tir. They will be requesting permission to dock within the next thirty minutes."

Sisko snapped back to complete attention, Janice Lange forgotten.

"Captain?" Lieutenant Jacobs pressed.

"Understood, Lieutenant," Sisko assured. "Permission granted. Thank you. I'll take it from here."



"Is everything all right?" Janice asked when Sisko hurriedly begged off with Worf and Odo.

"Oh, it's fine," Kira settled down next to Dax. "It's fine. Legate Damar is apparently early also…I think what I'd like to do is schedule the medical screenings for tonight?"

"Yes," Bashir understood her reasoning. "That way I can just take a second DNA and blood sample tomorrow morning for comparison analysis right before the conference."

"I agree," Dax nodded.

"Not that we mean to suggest we're paranoid," O'Brien joked to Janice's cringe.

"Oh, no, I understand. Kira explained to me about the concern for Changeling infiltration -- Is Odo by any chance a Changeling?" she wondered curiously.

"Well, yes," Kira answered slowly. "Why?"

"An excellent question, Major," Garak agreed, intrigued and thinking about Shakaar's briefing that was either extraordinarily vague, or extraordinarily detailed as far as whom his representative could expect to come in contact with during her short stay. A decision one could probably reach by simply deciding if they accepted Lange's casual appearance and air at face value. Considering the subject matter Doctor Lange was there to discuss, it wouldn't make any sense if they did.

Doctor Lange, however, was casual and simple in her answer to Major Kira. "I noticed he didn't appear to be eating or drinking like everyone else…That and his facial features are extraordinary. Smooth. Formed, but almost formless at the same time…I'm sorry, I'm probably not making any sense…"

"Oh, no," Julian was eager to interject, overruling her self-criticism with a remarkably weak argument that was sure to glean everyone else's attention even if failed to capture Doctor Lange's. "What's extraordinary, actually, is your observation to your hypotheses. Both entirely correct, and almost empathic in character. Are you quite sure you're entirely Human?"

"As opposed to…?" Dax couldn't resist petitioning Kira.

The Chief's groan was more to the point. "Oh, Jeez…here we go."

"As far as I know I am," Janice laughed to Bashir. "Are you being serious?"

"I'll never tell," he smiled. "Though my medical scan just might."

"Oh, really," she pushed up the sleeve of her tunic in teasing counterpoint. "What will your medical scan say about this?"

"An implant?" Kira frowned at the evidence of small electronic node visible beneath the soft underside of the doctor's forearm.

"Yes," Janice nodded. "I could really be a tree, Doctor, I should warn you. Instead of blocking my DNA patterns, it could really be a pulse center for your scans to lock onto."

"Well it's definitely on a pulse center…" Bashir rose to his feet, fascinated. "May I?"

"Of course," she extended her arm for his inspection. "You will anyway."

"So I will," he grinned. "Dare I try out my own empathic abilities? I say Bajoran. True or false? Probably not farfetched to think of a DNA inhibitor."

"True," she laughed again. "My work on the outer colonies found me there during the Federation-Dominion war. The Elder of my village was concerned for my safety from any scout ships that might be in the area, so he gave me this to block their scans."

"Extraordinary onto itself," Bashir examined the area as best as he could without a tricorder. "Certainly quite thoughtful of him -- Garak, you see this?"

"Oh, yes," Garak assured. "Yes…Your village Elder is a former member of the Bajoran Resistance, my dear, I take it?"

"Possibly," Janice shrugged. "I really don't know."

"Though safe to presume," Garak smiled. "As it's also reasonable to presume your Bajoran friend was mildly apprehensive that being Human you might experience some form of rejection to his prosaic technology. It really should be implanted just slightly deeper for maximum effectiveness."

"Well, actually, yes it should be," Kira agreed. "But, no, this will work…" She denounced Garak's indifference impatiently. "You know it will work."

"Oh, yes, I do know," he purred. His senses, not only Julian's, increasing aroused by this young woman with every passing moment. "From our short range scans, quite well. As well as the Federation or the Klingon Empire. From the Dominion? I would be far less confident. All really moot points, my dear, because you realize once in your presence, it would be a different story entirely. Of Human ancestry or some other species somewhat more advanced, you're quite obviously not Cardassian or Jem'Hadar. Fortunately though that did not happen?" he waited eagerly for Janice to contradict him; mildly disappointed when she did not.

"No. Do you have to remove it?"

"Oh, no, I wouldn't think so…" Bashir looked to Kira for confirmation. "I will have to make record of it, yes. Possibly conduct a few other scans…"

"I'm sure that will be fine with Sisko," Kira said. "After all, Shakaar is certainly aware --”

"Oh, yes, Adon knows all about it," Janice nodded. "He insisted it be documented on my medical screenings."

"Did he?" Bashir grinned at Kira.

"New?" Dax scoured the carpet in an attempt to change the subject.

"Two years," Quark snorted from above her tipped head.

"Nice try though," O'Brien extended Dax.

She thought so.

"Well, we certainly can't argue with that," Bashir's grin pressed Kira.

"I'll clear it with Benjamin," she said. "But, yes, I'm certain you can keep it."

"Oh, good," Janice relaxed. "It's almost like a gift from a friend. I'd hate to have part with it."

"It is a gift, my dear," Garak reiterated. "A very thoughtful one -- what exactly is your line of work, if I may ask?"

"Archaeology," Janice accepted a glass of wine from O'Brien. "I have a grant from the Bajoran government for two years to do studies on -- well, the outer colonies," she smiled. "Makes sense."

"I see…" Garak contemplated the explanation. "And that's how all of this came about…I mean, as far you're being chosen as First Minister Shakaar's representative?"

"Yes." Lange disappointed him again with the simplicity of her answer. "And that's how my hair came about -- the color. It's a root dye. I have a little friend -- Nadya," she told Kira. "You'd love her. She's nine years old. Hates my hair. Absolutely hates it. She made me promised that before I went to Bajor Prime to meet the Council of Ministers I'd let her help me do something with it."

Bashir smiled. "Well, that very well may be because she doesn’t hate it quite as much as she claims to."

"No, she hates it." Lange proceeded to tell her story about her little friend complete with animated gestures and asides to everyone's sheer delight. Kira and Dax found the short tale generally interesting as well; difficult not to. Doctor Janice Lange was a personable young woman. Unpretentious and refreshing with her open honesty. That concerned Dax just a little. If the Klingons were predators, the Cardassians were destroyers, both often acting without provocation. Both seemingly steadfast in their refusal to develop their societies beyond their advanced technologies to the practices and principles of what truly separated a civilized world from barbarians. Dax wasn't so sure bright and gifted Janice Lange was a person capable of enacting change on an audience that didn't want to change. For all her talents, she lacked the one most needed endowment of all; armor. Personal armor. Without it the change far more likely to occur would be within Janice Lange. Confusion, if she was lucky. Destruction, if she was not. Dax glanced at Kira wondering if she was thinking what she was thinking, having a feeling she was.



Kira was. Carrying the premise of Janice Lange needing a receptive audience in order to be effective all the way to Shakaar who had to realize that. That troubled her deeply. Uncertain as to what the destruction of Doctor Lange would ultimately achieve other than Bajor was, as always, right? And Cardassia was, as always, wrong? Like a lamb before the slaughter, Kira eyed Janice surrounded by her enthralled audience that wasn't captivated to the point that the one with the power and control was Janice Lange. Far from it. From Quark setting down a tray with a selection of every conceivable food item he could fit on one plate. To Bashir's rapt attention, to the glint in Garak's eyes, to the Chief's unabashed interest.

"I've tried to explain to her," Lange was saying, "'Nadya, this is my hair.' 'What can I do?' Make it a different color. What color? Yellow.

"Yellow," she nodded to Kira.

"Yellow," she said to Dax.

"I'm thinking to myself," she reminisced with her laugh, "of this gigantic sun surrounding my head. I couldn't do it; I just couldn't. So we compromised. That way Nadya was happy, and Bajor Prime was happy -- I guess," she laughed again. "No one told me to go home."

"What a marvelous story," Bashir applauded.

"So it is," O'Brien helped himself to sampling her dinner. "Want a job?"

"A job?"

"Babysitting."

"Oh, you have children," Janice smiled tenderly.

"Two," O'Brien nodded proudly. "Little boy, little girl. They're on Earth with their mother -- Keiko's her name. But they'll back. The lot of them. Soon."

"How wonderful for you."

"Oh, yeah?" O'Brien chuckled. "Who says? Nah, I'm just kidding you," he promised when she blinked. "Yes, it is wonderful. I'd be lost without them -- I am lost without them. I'm also serious. Anytime you want to give up this archaeology business, come see me. Molly would love you -- heck," he grinned at Kira. "The lady lets some kid paint her hair? Trust me, she'd love her."

"Eh, heh," Kira flashed a row of clenched teeth.

"What, 'eh, heh'?" O'Brien blustered. "What am I doing? I'm talking -- excuse me," he patted Janice's arm. "I can't talk to you. I'm cheating on my wife if I do."

"Oh, well, that's very true, Chief O'Brien," Garak collaborated. "At least as far as being a married man," he notified Janice. "Which no, neither Julian or myself --”

"Or Quark," Quark interjected.

"Happen to be," Garak agreed.

"Oh, no," Bashir hurried to confirm his single, and therefore highly eligible status. "No, Quark's brother Rom stole my last girl, I'm sorry to say. Where Worf…" he batted his eyes at Dax, "stole the one before her."

"And neither was too difficult," Quark assured.

"No, unfortunately," Garak's head swayed in sad support of Julian's perpetual heartache. "Inexplicable really. It's not as if there's anything noticeably wrong with Julian -- though quite apparently there must be something terribly wrong, somewhere."

"Think if I vomited anyone would notice?" Kira wondered.

"Probably not," Dax offered her a taste of gagh just in case she wanted to try.

"I'll pass."

"However, not dismissing lightly Julian's painful history of chronic rejection," Garak was saying, "I would also like to say how very much I enjoyed your story about your hair -- notwithstanding you, personally. What a delightful and charming individual you are, Doctor Lange. Truly, the Cardassian Union doesn't stand a chance."

"Good," Janice approved. "Because if any of you," she pointed to O'Brien. "You," she pointed out Sisko's empty seat. "Or you," she promised Garak and Bashir. "Pretend you're the Cardassian representatives for a moment -- try to be difficult, remember Adon, Kira and I are going to come away with our Consult anyway."

"Consider us on notice," Bashir smiled. "Though I admit I hadn't realize First Minister Shakaar actually supports the Cardassian proposal?"

"No," Kira was startled, "neither did I."

"Oh, yes," Janice picked up her glass of wine. "Absolutely. He's quite adamant about it -- Not that there isn't room for compromise. There's always room for compromise. That's what we're here for. Right?"

"Has my vote," O'Brien lifted his glass in toast.

"And also mine, my dear," Garak joined in, in all good fun. "In my temporary assignment as Consular Representative for the Cardassian Union, I can't imagine Gul Dukat not being as receptive to you as I am."

She heard him wrong. Janice's glass paused on her lips. "Gul Dukat?"

"Don't panic." Doctor Bashir moved to relieve any concerns she might have over meeting the infamous Cardassian tyrant face to face. But then he had to be thinking of Anon's father; of course he was. To where she wasn't thinking of anyone other than Anon. Janice shook her head in an effort to pay attention to what was being said.

"Oh, well, no, I'm not panicking…" she denied. Garak noticed her quick look up from her wine for Kira. "Am I?"

"Maybe a little." Major Kira agreed in thorough understanding.

"For no reason, really," Garak upheld. "As Julian claims…"

"We'll protect you," O'Brien swore in oath.

"That's very kind of you, but I really don't think I need protection…"

Garak watched her eyes flit anxiously between Kira and Commander Dax.

"I was just surprised. I had no idea…"

"Benjamin just received the disclosure notice himself a couple of hours ago," Dax explained. "While you were en route from the planet's surface -- Something which actually, yes, should have been clue," she submitted to Kira.

"That Damar was also en route," Kira agreed sourly. "Federation and Bajoran surveillance would have picked up the Cardassian battle cruiser on long range scans; even before they crossed the border."

"I'm sure they did," Dax told Janice. "However, the UFP supported the Cardassian Government's request to keep the names of the delegates concealed until the time of the conference…"

"And when we found out who they were," Bashir assured, "we could certainly understand why."

"I'm confused." Doctor Lange was still shaking her head. "Who are you saying is going to be here?"

"Gul Anon Dukat," Garak clarified for her. "The eldest son of the former emperor of Cardassia, my dear. Along with a younger brother, yes, is my understanding. Anon is only about your age -- in Federation years, of course."

"Yes," Kira squeezed Janice's hand tightly. "No, the representative isn't Dukat."

"Definitely only his sons," Bashir promised. "Good heavens, we'll have the woman in tears…."

"Oh, I'm not near tears," Janice denied. "I'm just…well, surprised," she maintained. "I had no idea. But…." she straightened her shoulders, setting her glass firmly down on the table. "I do now."

"Very true," Garak cooed. "As I maintain, it's quite reasonable to suggest Gul Dukat's apt to be as surprised in meeting you."

"Oh, yes," Janice nodded. "Yes, I can appreciate that."

"Can you? How extraordinarily confident of you, my dear," Garak picked up her wine to offer it back to her. "Really, most becoming --”

"That's enough!" Kira snatched the glass away. "Two's enough! We don't need three!"

"And we'll tell him, if necessary," Chief O'Brien boasted in reminder.

"Quite," Bashir begged the glass back from Kira. "Like father, like son -- I'm sure you've heard that before. Interestingly enough the Klingons have a similar saying. 'The sins of the father -- '"

"Actually," Dax interceded with a smile, "it's the dishonor of the father dishonors his sons and their sons for three generations."

"Close enough," Bashir handed Janice her wine.

"So it is," Garak agreed. "Forewarned is forearmed, my dear, I believe you Humans also say?"

Yes, they did. Though Janice wasn't sure what any of them seemed to think they meant as far as Anon. "What was your father like?" she asked Bashir.

"A con artist," O'Brien chuckled. "So forewarned is forearmed, is right."

"And yours?" Janice's laugh turned to Garak.

"Unfortunately," Garak inclined his head, "my father was a man who delayed saying what needed to be said until it was too late."

"Like my brother," Quark assured her.

"And yours?" Janice asked O'Brien.


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