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Inevitable

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Ben had resigned himself to Nog being part of his son’s life a long time ago.

That didn’t mean he had to be happy about it.

Because Jake was the one who was going to end up hurt. It would be Jake in trouble for lying, and loitering, and learning the hard way how little friendship meant to the average Ferengi.

So he watched, and he waited, and he pushed aside remembered images of the matching smiles on boyish faces to encourage Jake to look beyond what was right in front of him.

In return Jake found someone too old and with all the wrong kind of experience, so that Ben consoled himself with the thought that at least Mardah had more in mind than how much profit she could extract from the relationship.

Later, too late, he realized his mistake.

Felt ashamed of his reasons for supporting Nog’s application to the Academy, and the relief that had once flooded through him at the ugly twist of jealousy on Nog’s ridged features.

It was Jake battling with the green eyed monster when he returned from the Celestial Temple. When he dispensed the advice he should have long ago, a hand on Jake’s shoulder as he mused on what a perfect mix of human sentimentality and Ferengi commercialism that old Earth tradition of Valentine’s Day truly was.

Jake wasn’t quite as easy to read as he had once been. They were both still breaking down the wall the Dominion and the Temple had built between them. The lovesick look on his face was clear enough, just the same, and as recompense for past misdeeds Ben made sure to lumber the pair of them with babysitting duties almost the moment Nog had his leave confirmed.

Watched and waited, all over again, and felt nothing but pride at the beaming smile on Jake’s expressive features.

Felt relief flood through him when Nog stood before him, back straight and shoulders squared, all nervous tension and solemn tone as he requested his permission to ask for Jake’s hand in marriage.

For Jake’s sake he bit back the laughter.

Saw only the certainty of long years of happiness when the time came, though Jake now towered over the railing of the Promenade and Nog had to strain his neck back, a little unsteady on one knee as the station lighting glinted off gold pressed latinum.

It wasn’t what he had once wanted for Jake.

Now he had no hesitation in speaking his heart on the subject.

There was nobody he would rather be welcoming into the family.