III. Behind the Lines
She hadn't known. All those years, and she had not understood that she loved Odo until he managed to betray her more devastatingly than anyone else in her life.
Kira sat in her quarters, staring at the bottle of spring wine she had brought with her in order to get drunk, at the untouched glass, and wondered whether there was a connection.
Odo had been her friend for a long time. She had believed they knew each other, trusted each other, cared for each other better and deeper than anyone else on this station. Then he had told her what his older self had done. Eight thousand people wiped into non-existence because he loved her. She hadn't felt comfortable around him ever since, but still it had not occurred to her that she saw him as anything other than a friend, not until the moment when she realised that he had failed her, failed them all, that Rom had died for it. And that Odo didn't even care.
It wasn't important whether it had been some overeager Cardassian or Jem'Hadar who had pulled the trigger when they had caught Rom. It might as well have been Odo. And now their chance to keep the minefield intact was gone. The Jem'Hadar would get their reinforcements through the wormhole. Still, there had to be a way to beat them, even with these odds. She would think about it tomorrow, together with a way to kill Odo for what he had done. Right now, all she wanted to do was to forget.
Distantly, Kira wondered whether Quark was having better luck at getting drunk. She had forced herself to tell him about what had happened to Rom before he heard it from station security. From station security. There was a joke. Her whole life was a joke. If someone had told her a few months ago that she would find more integrity in a couple of Ferengi trolls than in her best and dearest friend, she would have told him to get his head examined. But then, if someone had told her then that in a few months, she would be Dukat's first officer and working with Cardassians on a daily basis, she would have spat in his face.
She wanted to drink. She wanted to drink herself into oblivion, until tomorrow, when she would have to take up the fight again, and face Odo. And yet her glass remained untouched.
How could he have done it? Oh yes, the Great Link. Currently embodied in an oh-so-serene female form. How could he even bring himself to touch that creature, that... thing who was responsible for the slavery and death of thousands, if not millions of sentient beings? Odo, who had prided himself on his innate sense of justice, who despised criminals, who had dedicated himself to seeing them punished?
She didn't want to imagine the two of them together, yet her mind refused to cooperate. She remembered what she had seen in the Gamma Quadrant. Odo and that creature melding together. Linking. There was a nice expression. Just the other day, Dukat had called her his "link to the Bajoran people", smirking as usual, and it had taken all the discipline she had not to go for his throat right there and then.
The idea that suddenly rose up in her made her go utterly, completely still, so still that she could hear her own heart beat.
It would be just one more abomination in a series of abominations. But then she would at least *know* how he could have done it, and she might even be able to...
Dukat wasn't in his office anymore; he had retired to his quarters. Ziyal wasn't there, the one thing Kira felt grateful for, but Damar was, undoubtedly being busy collecting congratulations from his superior on his oh so brilliant idea to disable the minefield. If Damar had been content to be a simple thug, all of this might not have happened, but no, he had to prove he had an intellect.
"Out," she hissed at him.
Damar spluttered in indignation. Dukat merely looked surprised, then interested. She addressed him, not Damar, as she added:
"I'm not repeating myself. I want to talk with you alone, Dukat, so get rid of your flunky."
Damar visibly drew breath for a thunderous denunciation of her Bajoran presumption, but Dukat, never taking his eyes from her, said, sounding amused:
"I believe the Major has something to tell me, Damar, and as Weyoun is so fond of pointing out these days, we're all friends in the Dominion now. A little discretion for our dear ally, if you please. We'll speak further in the morning."
Giving her a scathing look which she hardly noticed, Damar left. When the doors hissed behind him, Dukat smiled at her. He sat on the couch where they had looked at Ziyal's drawings together, looking relaxed, as if he had not a care in the world. As well he might, with the minefield disabled, and the Founder off his back because she was busy with Odo's. Kira's fists clenched.
"So, Major," Dukat said. "My strictly limited sympathies on the failure of what was undoubtedly *your* latest strategem."
"You bastard," she said tonelessly. "That's all it is to you, isn't it? A game. Rom is dead, Dukat, and I don't want to know how many more will die because of it."
One of his eyeridges rose. "Well, you can hardly expect me to show grief because my side will win the war, Major. And please don't insult my intelligence by pretending you cared for the Ferengi. I've watched the way you act around the species."
"Get up," she said.
A note of warning entered his voice. "I'm only willing to indulge you so far, Major. You would do well to remember certain hierarchies here."
"This is your one chance, Dukat," Kira said, and couldn't believe how factual, unbroken her voice sounded. "Take it or leave it."
He wasn't slow in understanding her meaning. When he did rise, moving towards her, his slow, deliberate movements only served to fuel her fury and need.
"Why now?" he asked.
"Because," Kira said between clenched teeth, grabbing him by the shoulders and pushing him against the wall, "I want to know what it tastes like."
*Being with a murderer*, she thought, while his cool, practiced hands took hold of her and slid round her waist. *Being with a warlord drunk on power. What does that taste like, Odo?*
She knew how to get rid of a Cardassian body armour. There had been enough occasions, though never like this. When Dukat kissed her, she bit him. He hissed in pain, but he didn't let go, and she felt his own teeth, felt those sharp Cardassian nails grazing the skin of her neck, her belly, her breasts.
But no matter how hard she tried, how much pain and pleasure she took from him, how furiously she tried to destroy any sense of self she had left, the one taste she had come for, the one which Odo must have been consumed by, that single taste escaped her.