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Dislocation, Condemnation, Revelation, In Temptation

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You think it's the dream that woke you until the door chimes again. You hustle for a robe.

"Dukat!" you spit. "It's the middle of the night." And for a second you think he can see the dream in your eyes, and you hate that he might know you were dreaming of him. He's still in his armor; he hasn't been sleeping.

"I need to talk to you, Major," he says, dipping his chin, raising his eyes slightly. He's come to you before like this, conspiratory, but you've always turned him away.

"Whatever it is, you can tell me tomorrow at the staff meeting," you say, standing close enough to the door that the automatic sensors keep it open. Dukat is by the window, stroking a leaf on your potted levino. You can imagine the fuzz on the fleshy underside of the leaf getting flattened under his thumb. Inexplicably, you shiver.

"I'm afraid not," he says, not looking at you. "This is an...intimate matter." He's tried that line too, and you're embarrassed to realize you're intrigued. When you're at war, you're dangerously and perpetually aroused.

"What is it?" You cross the room and fold yourself up on the couch. Dukat sits down too, reaches out to touch your knee but you pull away.

"It's our friend Weyoun," he says. "I don't like him."

"And I don't like you," you say. "At least the universe is in balance."

He smiles. "As you know," he goes on. "I've been having some difficulty disabling the minefield your Captain Sisko so kindly left behind for us."

"Get to the point," you say. He smiles more, showing all his tiny top teeth.

"Weyoun is not pleased with me," Dukat says.

"I'd go so far as to say the man despises you," you say.

"That's fair," he says. He looks resigned and honestly beaten, and it surprises you. "A little more every day, I think. But then --"

You raise your eyebrows. "What?"

"Soon enough, he won't just be taking it out on me, Major. He's quite determined to make living aboard this station very unpleasant for all of us."

You realize you've given up trying to kick him out. You realize you want to keep talking, you enjoy prodding him and you're in no hurry to get back to the dream. You feel perverse. You answer him anyway. "Oh, I don't know, Dukat," you say. "I've found that Weyoun's big on making sure we all think of the Dominion as our happy family. He seems hell bent on making us all feel at home."

Now Dukat does lay a hand on your shoulder, just for an instant before you shake him free. He sighs. "Ah, Kira. I wish I could make you see. We're on the same side, you and me. We both want peace." Surrender now, you hear him say, twelve years earlier.

And then he gets up and leaves, and you wonder if you were really ready for him to go. You've been dreaming about him for two weeks, almost half as long as the Federation's been gone, and every night it's the same.

The first time Nbide Dukat entered your consciousness as a flesh-and-blood individual rather than a face on the viewscreen, he'd been at the end of your rifle sight, not ten yards away, and instead of shooting him, you waited, and you listened, and then it was too late.

//

Regimental HQ, Shonii corps, Shakaar cell, Kira squats in her tent, polishing her boots. Scraping off clay and blood. They keep the viewscreen on with the sound way down low -- Shakaar won't let them shut it off. "Everywhere you look, I want you to see his face," Shakaar had said, rapping a knuckle on the screen.

Lupaza and Gant are coordinating an airdrop for tomorrow, supplies and relief personnel. Over Gant's shoulder, Kira watches Dukat's face as he repeats his silent message. Everywhere she looks, she sees his face, hears his supercilious purr even with the sound off.

"My dear Bajoran people," he says, he's been saying for five years. "This conflict can no longer go on. It is time for you to realize you are only harming yourselves and your world. Surrender now, before more blood is shed. Surrender now."

She knows that face, that warbling voice. He drawls in her dreams, smiling that same patronizing smile. "Surrender now," he says, kindly. "We both want peace. Surrender now."

For five years now, everywhere she looks, she sees his face. Sometimes she'll discharge her weapon at shadows, late on dawn patrol, squatting outside Gala Chi. Shooting at ghosts, because everywhere she looks, she sees his face. Legate Dukat's face.

::MONSTERS::

Out in the clearing the trees shake, branches snap, the wind sucks up a tsunami of leaves and dirt and Kira clutches for rocks and roots, shielding her eyes and trying to watch everything at the same time.

Above her, impulse thrusters shoot for rollover burn -- from this angle she can hear the aching strain of the engine, she can see the landing gear release. Thermal booster separation, the orbital module releases the landing pod and blows back into the atmosphere -- Kira closes her eyes and listens for it, counts the bursts -- standard Cardassian shielded trawler -- waits for the plasma packs to engage, scorch the ground, the sky, and then Bajor quakes and rumbles and two hundred meters away from Kira, with a terrific thrum and hiss, Legate Dukat's pod sets down.

Kira thumbs the safety off on her rifle.

Dukat is talking to a gul on the landing platform. Laughing. He throws his head back.

They all stare a little, and Kira's surprised to feel her breath catch, because he looks just the same, even so faraway and so small. Sharp. Solid. Noble. Sickening. She watches the way he moves, the way his hips shift under his armor, his shoulders back, chin up. She feels strangely embarrassed, and for some reason her mouth waters.

They walk, Dukat and this gul, across the jetway, down the scaffold stairs. Kira can't hear what they're saying, but she's almost sad when they disappear into the squat command center and the doors slip shut behind them.

Gant snaps his fingers in front of her face. "Sergeant!"

She blinks, finding focus. They're all looking at her. "Sorry," she says. "I've just never seen him in person before."

"Me neither," Elat nods.

Dusk is falling, and behind the command structure sunset's a pink blur cutting across the far side of the valley and Kira thinks, "surrender now."

::MONSTERS::

She shouldn't have left her troops. Gant's seasoned, and he knew he was in charge and said "yes, Sergeant" but she shouldn't have done it, and she imagines Shakaar's face when she'll try to explain it to him. "I just had to go," she'll say. "It was Legate Dukat." She knows he'll cite her for it. She'll get a reprimand from Shonii corps, possibly get busted too.

But it's Legate Dukat, and she has to go see for herself.

//

You think it was the dream that woke you until you hear the door chime again. You feel around for your robe in the dark, pull it over your shoulders and head for the door.

"Dukat!" you spit. "It's the middle of the night." And for a second you think he can see the dream in your eyes, and you hate that he might know you were dreaming of him.

He's still in his armor; he hasn't been sleeping; he looks ashen and tired. He slips inside before you can block the doorway with an arm, and instead you curl your elbow in tight and you can feel a tingle where he would have bumped it.

"I need to talk to you, Major," he says, dipping his chin, raising his eyes slightly.

"Nah," you say, shaking your head. "Go away. Whatever it is, you can tell me tomorrow at the staff meeting."

He shakes his head too. "I'm afraid not," he says, leaning in close enough for you to smell his chlorine breath. "This is a delicate matter, something for your ears only." You're too tired to argue.

"What is it?" You fold yourself up on the couch. Dukat sits down too, reaches out to touch your knee and you stare at his hand like it's on fire.

"As you know," he says. "I've been having some difficulty disabling the minefield your Captain Sisko so kindly left behind for us."

"That damned Starfleet know-how," you say.

"Yes," he agrees, as if you weren't rolling your eyes.

"What does any of this have to do with me, Dukat?"

Now Dukat does lay a hand on your shoulder, just for an instant before you shake him free. He sighs. "Ah, Kira. I wish I could make you see. We're on the same side, you and me. We both want peace." Surrender now, you hear him say, twelve years earlier, and you wish you'd pulled the trigger.

"Get the hell out of my quarters," you say.

//

In the dark, Kira slips up against the wall of the command office and crouches in the dirt, waiting for the patrol to pass. She's sent out an electronic scramble, trying to mask her signal, but she holds her breath anyhow and the Cardassian officers cross behind the building and disappear into the night. She crawls under the stairs and pulls herself up, a quick chinup on the greasy bars and she's on the scaffold, squatting by the glassine door.

They've just finished dinner. The gul's clearing plates, pouring two glasses of kanar. Dukat's got his feet up on a crate, crossed at the ankle.

"I saw that production," the gul was saying. "At the old Vedek assembly. It was absolutely horrid. And I loved Pantok Balin in...that other one, the one about the prodigal son. I was Pantok's biggest fan after that show. But the operetta was atrocious."

Dukat shakes his head. "My wife adores him," he says. "And at this point, I'm willing to sit through a couple of atrocious hours of musical theatre if that's what it takes to get back into her good graces."

The gul laughs and sits down across from Dukat. "I heard about that, the woman," he says. "I'm sorry. Was she very angry?"

Now Dukat laughs too. "That doesn't even begin to describe it," he says, and takes a draw off his kanar.

It's gotten cold, and Kira presses her spine against the scaffold strut of the stairs, fitting the metal straight up in the hollow of bone and back. She closes her eyes. She just wants to listen a little, she tells herself. She just wants to know. Then she'll go back.

//

You think it's the dream that woke you until the door chimes again.

"Dukat!" you spit, tying your robe tight under your ribs. "What the hell could you possibly want at this hour?"

"I need to talk to you, Major," he says, dipping his chin, raising his eyes slightly. He's come to you before like this, conspiratory, but you've always turned him away.

It's been nearly a month since the Federation left, and you've started to call this place Terok Nor in your head again. The staff in ops no longer look like aliens to you, that grey mess of Jem'Hadar and Cardassians, they're just people now and you know almost all of their names. They know how you like your coffee. One of the Cardassians spent some time in Dahkur and once while you were waiting for a meeting to start you talked about restaurants you'd been to, people you'd known in common. "Best hasperat in the valley, before your people blew it up," you'd said. He looked almost genuinely sad when he agreed.

Dukat's crossed the room in a few long strides and he's studying the potted levino by the window. You step away from the door and let it close. "So talk," you say. "Talk fast."

"It's Weyoun," Dukat says. "I'm beginning to think he doesn't like me very much."

"I can't imagine why," you say, curling into the corner of the couch. Dukat smiles and sits down beside you, too close.

"You have to realize he's not going to honor the non-aggression pact with Bajor for very long," Dukat says.

"I have to realize if you had your way you wouldn't either."

Dukat ignores you. "The minefield your Emissary left behind is proving more difficult to disable than I'd anticipated," he says. "I must commend that inimitable Starfleet know-how."

"I'm glad to hear it," you say. "What do you want?"

"Nerys," Dukat leans in, close enough for you to smell his chlorine breath. "I cannot risk letting Bajor fall under Dominion control," he says. "It horrifies me to think of what they would do to that beautiful world."

"I'll bet," you say, but you remember that Bajor was once his home too. You feel sick.

"You see, Major?" Dukat's eyes brighten. "We're not so different after all, you and me."

"Get the hell out of my quarters," you say, and you steer him to the door, every inch of you alive with the feel of his rubberized armor as you push him, hard, between the shoulder blades. The door's barely hissed shut before you have time to dive into the washroom to vomit.

//

She wants to know what happened with his wife, what was so awful that this strange man sipping kanar would bring her out here for a night of Bajoran musical theatre. It's odd to think of him that way. She's gotten so used to the Cardassian presence on Bajor that it's strange to think of their homeworld, so far away and yet right next door, where there's no battles being fought, no wars going on except the ones between husband and wife over domestic problems and dinner. She's never been to Cardassia, and she finds she wants to go there someday, just to see what kind of world bred people like Dukat. Someday, after all this is over, she thinks, she'll take a trip to Cardassia and spit on the ground where Dukat once stood.

"So," says the gul. "We've had dinner. We've lubricated our gullets, exchanged pleasantries, traded presents for the kids. Now, Nbide, you going to tell me why you're here?"

Nbide. Kira rolls it around, mouths it to taste it on her tongue. Nbide Dukat. None of her intelligence briefings have mentioned his given name, but Cardassians are notoriously close with their private addresses, and first names are saved for intimate folks, friends, family. They aren't relevant on the battlefield. But still, it's something, and her stomach curls around the words. Nbide Dukat.

"I've been away too long," Dukat says, lounging in his chair, but the look on his face is full of terrible seriousness. "I missed Bajor. I've decided to stay a while."

Kira has him in her rifle sight, and she doesn't shoot, not yet. She wants to listen just a little more.

//

You think it was the dream that woke you until you hear the door chime again. You don't even bother with your robe.

"Dukat," you spit, and he looms over you in the doorway, seductive, menacing. You're aware of every inch of your body under your thin nightdress, your nipples stand at attention. "Get in here."

The door shushes shut behind him and you seize him by the shoulders, pin him against the wall and kiss him hard. He doesn't miss a beat. He kisses you back. He's come to you before like this, conspiratory, but you've always turned him away.

"Nerys," he breathes, astonished, when you pull back. "If this is --"

"Shut up," you say, digging for the fasteners on his armor. You steer him to the couch; in your recklessness you knock the levino plant to the floor and the soil spills out, a long dark stripe on the carpet. "I don't care. I want you to fuck me, Dukat."

"Gladly," Nbide Dukat says.

His hands are everywhere and you claw at him, slipping off his collar and breastplate, his belt, his gloves. His chest is broad, Cardassian and muscular. "I should've killed you," you say, his hand sliding up your thigh, under your nightgown.

"On many occasions," he agrees.

Now his fingers are probing and he bites your shoulder, hard enough to leave a mark. You throw your head back and you can't breathe. "I will, someday," you say, around a desperate inhale.

"I don't doubt it," he says, and his face breaks into a grin.