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Dax knows. I saw the look she gave me when I entered the room, contemptuous, icy. One should never underestimate these Trills - the Lieutenant Commander may seem simply a beautiful - if accomplished - young woman, but she is wise beyond _my_ years. Nonetheless, whatever she knows about what transpired does not worry me. She will protect Sisko - and so, by default, me.
Sisko could not meet my eye, but came over nonetheless. I suspected it was not to welcome me.
'What the _hell_ are you doing here?'
'Why, Captain,' I answered, raising my voice so that it did not match his hiss. 'Dr Bashir invited me. I happened to have passed by the infirmary earlier - I appear to have been most clumsy of late; why, only today I walked into the door of my _own shop_! As you can imagine, it was most painful - nonetheless, the good doctor has done his job as well as ever, and I am here to celebrate. Because we _do_ have something to celebrate, don't we, Captain?'
He pierced me with the look of a man who would have liked to have given me another set of bruises. '_You_ may think that,' he whispered, 'but _I_ take the cost of a war seriously.'
Captain Benjamin Sisko does not have the monopoly on cold stares. 'Then, Captain, we are completely in agreement. Who would have believed we could have so much in common?'
In the event, I did not stay at their little party long. It _had_ been a somewhat tiring day. I have to confess that assassination _does_ take it out of you. Once you are no longer immersed in the intellectual challenge, once the adrenalin has finished pumping round your body, a profound tiredness engulfs you, an exhaustion born not only of the physical strain you have undergone, but of the cost to the soul. No-one kills without it exacting a price. You would have to be insane - and I am very far from being insane. No, these are - in theory - the acts of a rational man.
Lying down on the couch in my quarters, I closed my eyes, one hand stretched out to reach the bottle of kanar on the floor, the other resting my glass on my chest. If I drank enough, and quickly enough, I would be asleep before being overcome by the melancholy which I knew, from nearly thirty years of experience, tended to follow a killing.
Beginning to drowse, I counted the cost of the day. One Romulan. One forger who had been awaiting a death penalty anyway. And, of course, Captain Sisko's precious peace of mind. I snorted.
Suddenly, my eyes shot open. I had forgotten about the bodyguards. When did four lives become so easily dismissed?
I fumbled for another glass of kanar, drank it very quickly.
As blessed sleep took me, I told myself what I wanted to hear - that in the great scheme of things that is my chequered past, four extra Romulans were nothing. I disposed of nearly twice that number across one summer on their homeworld.
Add some more bodies to your tally, Garak.
I can live with that. I _have_ lived with that.
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