Dukat tries to understand the Bajorans.
by dilly r
You learned the Bajoran language for them. Because they were incomprehensible, nearly animals, and you needed a way to connect that even the most sophisticated translator couldn't allow. When you knew the language well enough, you read their literature. From prophecies to the epic histories to lurid romance. You watched them on viewscreens when they thought they were alone. You watched them eat dinner, wash themselves, sleep. You watched them fuck as if it were as spiritual an act as worshiping at their temples.
And it wasn't enough. Not because you hadn't done enough -- certainly, you'd done more than any other Cardassian. Than any other person had ever done to try to understand them. Not because of you, because you wanted to help them. You wanted to improve them when they weren't even civilized enough to know they needed improvement.
It was that you had to walk that edge between your own civilization and their savagery, even cross over now and then, to truly understand them.
Again, you had to learn their language, but a far more subtle language this time. Subtle like your native tongue. The men took comfort women now and then, but you'd never paid much attention until then. First, you watched from viewscreens -- finding those few moments when the Bajoran's eyes would warm, perhaps only for a second, as the soldier who chose her pulled her along on the long, complex dance into his bed.
It wasn't long before you were ready.
The first time you made and appearance as the comfort woman were brought in, the men were surprised into tense silence. You didn't look at them. In fact, you showed open distain for them even as you looked over the young women they took from the camps. The women were too skinny to be as beautiful as they should've been, but every one of them had a feature or two -- dark eyes, soft hair, graceful hands -- that gave a hint of what she could become.
Of course, you already screened them, and you knew which one you wanted. But first, you had to show sympathy. "Bring these women food and water," you said. "None of them will be touched until they've had sustenance."
And you left.
You waited in the next room for an hour, then two, watching them in the viewscreen. Your Bajoran was being "courted" as it were by a broad-shouldered glinn named Pirek. You found yourself smiling. You never liked Pirek, and you knew you would enjoy it when the time came too take her away from him.
As you watched them disappear into a shadowy corner of the room, you returned.
Pirek had her against the wall, pinning both of her tiny wrists with one hand while the other made its way up her thigh. She was trembling. Her eyes were angry, as Bajoran eyes always are, and tears wet her cheeks.
"Let go of her," you said, in a smooth, steady voice.
Pirek snapped a "what did you say?" before he turned to see that it was his superior officer. He quickly added, "I was just-- Everyone else is--"
"I don't care what everyone else is doing." You grasped his shoulder and pulled him away from her. You sniffed the air ostensibly and grimaced. "You've had too much kanar. Go to your quarters and sleep it off."
You pushed him toward the exit, to be sure he was on his way. You watched him leave with a spark in your eye that could be confused with anger, then you looked to her, as if you had forgotten she was there.
"I am sorry. I hope that you won't judge all of us by the actions of one man."
She rubbed at her wrists, eying him like a wounded animal too tired to fight.
You added, in a quieter tone, "Are you all right?"
"I'll live," she said.
"Of course you will," you said, this time with solid honesty. "I can see your strength. I can see where it's made your face hard. Around your eyes... and your jaw." You brushed the edge of her jaw lightly, then pulled your hand away, looking down as if you were embarrassed.
You could see her feet. The tip of one was turned slightly inward. Uncertainty -- the first step.
"If you would please follow me... I would like to make up for Glinn Parik's callous treatment."
And she did follow. You learned almost immediately by watching them that they weren't the sort of people who took orders unquestioning the way a Cardassian did. But, when it was a request, they had difficulty refusing. You didn't understand why -- you didn't understand any of the Bajoran whys, but that was why you had picked that girl, that night.
You led her to a simple pair of doors that slid open on your command, revealing a rather large, lightly furnished room. You held out a hand for her to enter first, then you followed.
"I think you'll find these quarters more suitable."
She looked around, then directly at you. Her eyes were clear and blue, too ignorant to be anything but innocent. A girl with a dead family on an unfamiliar station, surrounded by enemies and desperate for a friend.
You felt an eagerness in the pit of your stomach that you hadn't felt for a long time, but you were forced to ignore it. For the time being.
"Am I to stay in your quarters?" she asked. She was trying to sound brave, but you can hear a desperation in the shadows of her language.
You allowed your eyes to widen, to reflect her innocence as best you could. "No. No, not if... if you don't want-- No, these are your quarters. A girl like you shouldn't have to live like that. Here, you can be safe."
She didn't want to believe it. You could see in her eyes that she didn't want to believe that a Cardassian could be kind. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because you're beautiful. And I couldn't bear to see that other man hurt you. To see that other man touching..." You looked away, as if flustered. "I apologize. I've been alone out here for quite some time. I must have forgotten how to control my emotions around a beautiful woman."
She was still for a moment, and you almost thought that you'd made a misstep somewhere. But, soon enough, she stepped forward. She'd had a bit to drink with Pirek, and she was unsteady.
When she stumbled, all you had to do was catch her. Without thought, without hesitation, she kissed you. Kissed you the way that Bajorans kiss, with her lips against yours. Her tongue slid along your lips, over your teeth, with another language you never spoke before. There was a bravery in her innocence that you hadn't seen before -- not in learning their language, reading their literature, eating their food. Not even in watching them.
You were the one to pull away first, and you have to tell yourself that you did it to leave her wanting, not because you were overwhelmed.
"I want to know everything about you," you said, and it was the first completely truthful thing you had said to her.
She was trembling again, but not with the same kind of terror as before. You took control then, pulling her body close to yours, but were just gentle enough that she could believe that this was a choice she'd made.
You leaned down to kiss her again, and you taught yourself -- her lips, her throat, her breasts -- waiting for her primitive soul fill the empty place inside of you where the Cardassians discarded their own.