Kira waited in the security station of the holding cells. Her arms were crossed in what she hoped was her usual manner, but she suspected her tension was obvious.
She didn't cry at random moments, or find herself waiting for Ziyal to come through the door. Kira had been a refugee, a resistance fighter, and now a soldier; she was no stranger to loss. People died in wars. Good people died in wars. That's just how it was.
But there was something that was not quite right, something other than an innocent girl being murdered by her own people. That's what brought Kira to the holding cells.
The door hissed shut behind Garak, and the tailor smiled. "Major! I'm sorry -- I didn't realize there was a line to see our dear Dukat. Please, go in."
"What are you doing here, Garak?" One thing she had learned and learned well - never get drawn into word games with a Cardassian. Especially Garak.
The tailor presented a picture of perfect innocence. "Why, I was just visiting our old friend Gul Dukat. He's having such a rough time of it, poor fellow."
Kira bit the inside of her lip. If Garak wasn't arguably on their side, there were times when she would gladly shoot him. Instead, she turned to the security guard. "Can you give us a minute?" The young woman looked uneasy and Kira added: "Just stand outside that door. You can seal the entrance to the holding cells. I just need to speak with Garak."
The officer nodded and a few quick keystrokes later was out the door. Kira turned back to Garak. "I'll ask you again. Why do you come here?"
He quickly dropped the innocent tailor act, and his smile had a cruel edge to it. Kira suspected this was as much an act as before. "To gloat, of course. It's not often one gets to see your mortal enemy lose his station, his daughter, and his mind all in one day. I didn't even have to lift a finger."
"Don't --" She bit back Ziyal's name. This wasn't about the young woman. "I know that's not why you're here."
"Asking a question when you already know the answer," Garak said. "A signature Cardassian technique."
"She loved you!"
Kira didn't know where the words came from, but they exploded out of her with a force that almost left her shaking. Garak couldn't have looked more surprised if an actual bomb had suddenly gone off. It might even have been genuine.
"Ah," was his only response. "You mean Ziyal."
"She loved you so much." Kira wanted nothing more at that moment than to grab his little lizard neck and squeeze. "And you act as though nothing happened."
"I'm a little confused, Major," Garak said. "What does this have to do with my visits to Dukat?"
She couldn't look at him. Kira turned away, leaning against the security console. If she looked at him, she would kill him, and she couldn't do that. Ziyal had loved him. It wasn't his fault she had died.
She spoke slowly, choosing her words as carefully as she would put a target in her sights. "Despite everything Dukat did, Ziyal loved him. I just need to know why you're visiting him."
"Afraid that I will dishonor Ziyal's memory by torturing her poor, broken-hearted father?"
She finally turned to look at him, and he smiled. "You're wearing your heart on your sleeve, Major. I'm afraid that went out of fashion years ago."
"Yeah, well, it's all the rage on Bajor." She hated these little word games, the quips and verbal sparring, but that didn't stop her from being drawn in.
"Yes, I suppose the occupation did set you back a few decades. Don't worry. You'll catch up soon enough."
She started laughing, and the alarm on his face only made her laugh harder.
"Perhaps I should consider a career as a comedian," he said.
Kira finally caught her breath, forcing the laughter back into whatever mysterious place it had come from. "Tailoring probably pays better."
"I suppose you're right," Garak said. "There's certainly no shortage of uniforms that need to be mended." He hesitated, taking a moment to study her before asking: "Are we done here?"
Kira leaned back against the console. "Did you love her?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"She loved you," Kira said. "Everybody knew that. But did you love her?"
Garak brushed imaginary dust from his clothing. "I really don't see how that's any business of yours."
"You Cardassians," she sneered. "Why is it so hard for you to admit a simple truth?"
"There is no such thing as truth," Garak said. "And even if there were, it mostly certainly wouldn't be simple. Besides which, how would you even recognize it? I could tell you no, I didn't love her. I simply enjoyed having Gul Dukat's precious daughter eating out of the palm of my hand. Or I could tell you I did love her. I could tell you she was the home I never had, that she made life on this glorified torture chamber bearable. I could tell you that I felt nothing except friendship, or that I felt like a father to her. How would you know which is true? If none of them are true? Truth, my dear major, is nothing more than a lie you can live with."
His voice was cold enough to burn, but Kira never looked away, never broke eye contact. When he finished, it seemed as though something had drained out of him. Out of her too.
"I miss her," she said. "Every moment, every day. I grieve for the senselessness of her loss. I'm furious with the bastard who shot her, with Dukat for not protecting her…and with myself. For not being there, not saving her." Still her eyes never left his. "That's the truth. That's the simple truth."
Garak was the first to look away. "You'll forgive me if I'm not impressed."
"And the funniest part is, you're the only one I can really talk to about it." She continued as though he hadn't spoken. "I've spent my entire life fighting Cardassians, and now I'm mourning the death of a woman who was half-Cardassian, and the only people I can talk to about it are a war criminal who's lost his mind and…you. Whatever you are."
"Just a simple tailor," Garak said.
"Nothing is simple," Kira echoed his earlier words, and he smiled.
"Perhaps you're right," he said. "Regardless, I am not a counselor. If you will permit me to leave?"
Kira nodded, and he walked quickly towards the door.
And then he stopped, almost turning to face her again.
"Cutting cloth can be an extremely tedious task," he said. "And my shop can get quite lonely. I would not object to company from time to time."
Kira smiled. "I'll keep that in mind.