Two days later
Chief Kasidy Yates didn't need to look up to know who'd entered her office and why.
"No, Miss Sahlan. We still haven't been able to find out where Ayas Endo went."
"But you were able to trace the ship right? You found out it was registered to Vedek Kitran?"
"The good Vedek isn't sure where Endo took it either," Kasidy patiently replied. "He's...had his hands full."
Sahlan Reto mutely nodded. Her eyes looked so wounded, Yates had no choice but to take pity on her.
"You really gotta let him, sweetheart."
Reto stiffened slightly. "I just wanted to make sure he's safe. You know...out of trouble."
"He broke into your shop, stole illegal chemicals, nearly got killed, and then headed out on the first ship he could acquire," Yates recited kindly. "'Trouble' appears to be his middle name, Miss Sahlan."
Chief Yates raised an eyebrow. "But you still loved him."
Reto proffered a weak smile. "Isn't that how it goes?" She paused, briefly gazing off into space. "I thought I was over him. It's been years."
"But then you saw him bleeding and vulnerable and it brought it all back."
Reto nodded slowly, as though in a daze. "I'm never going to find out where he is, am I?"
Yates shook her head. "Not until he wants to be found."
Reto turned to leave and paused in the doorway. "Odd, isn't it? We survived bombs and phaser blasts, sickness and starvation. Who knew some of us would have trouble surviving freedom after the Occupation?"
Gaya Mylanti took that as her cue to clear the dishes and put them back in the replicator. Had she actually cooked, she'd be offended by her mother's uneaten hasperat, but as it stood now, she was merely perturbed.
"You never told me," she said quietly, loading the plates on top of each and crossing her quarters to the replicator. "You never told me you knew Slava."
"It wasn't time," Irian shrugged absently. "The Bajoran government needed his records. But they also needed him to be in the right place at the right time." She paused, drifting again. "She'd put up a tombstone for him, you know. 'Rinan Teslava, The One They Took Away'."
"I'm not going to apologize, Mylanti," she lightly called over her shoulder. "Things like these require the right timing. Spend day after day playing housewife to a Cardassian and you'll quickly come to understand the importance of timing."
Mylanti returned to the dinner table. "But Mother --"
"I saved you, you know?" Irian told her finally, looking Mylanti in the eyes. "From the phaser blast. From the auction block. From the bounty."
"I stepped between you and the Cardassian who put a phaser to your head. I agreed to volunteer as a comfort woman. Slava...he tried to tell me about how some Cardassians liked Bajoran girls young, as young possible. He told me you'd be worth at least twenty strips of latinum. That was around the time I agreed to marry Melor. Slava couldn't auction off the stepdaughter of a Cardassian."
Mylanti sank back into her chair, slowly feeling the weight of her mother's past.
Just when I think I know all this woman's secrets....
"And then you ran away," Irian went on, raising her slim glass of Bajoran springwine for a tiny sip. "You took to Federation territory without so much as a by-your-leave and left me wondering for years whether or not you were even alive." She met her daughter's gaze. "You hated me. You thought I was weak. It's no wonder you failed to notice that with no power and no rights, I still managed to repeatedly save your life."
Next ~ Forgiveness