Jivan was excited to visit the station of DS9 with his cousins, his mother, and his aunt and uncle. He had never been before. The twins technically had, but Nelis and Kendos were too young to remember much of it. He was so happy that Aunt Iniki and Uncle Elim had given him cousins! The twins were over four years old and not toddlers anymore. Jivan was a little over twelve, practically a man, but he didn't let that stop him from bonding with the twins.
The Vorta woman Kilana and the Jem'Hadar teenagers Katana and Bayoneta joined them along the way. Jivan liked the Jem'Hadar sisters but not so much Milo. Milo was a seven year old Vorta pup. He had been extremely cute when he was an infant. He was so cute Jivan wanted to squeeze him and take him home like a puppy. As soon as Milo could walk and talk, however, he resembled his father Weyoun far too much for Jivan's liking and not the mother Kilana. Siana told her son Kilana could be quite devious too, but Jivan couldn't believe that!
"Kilana has been nothing but kind to me and she's so pretty!" Jivan objected.
Siana blinked and said, "My son, that's exactly why she's devious! It's not ugly people you need to watch out for; it's the beautiful people that are most likely two-faced!"
Jivan shrugged, "I thought you and Kilana were like best friends!"
"We are, but let's just say you wouldn't want to be her enemy."
The Jem'Hadar sisters adored Milo. They chirped at him and ruffled his black hair. They merely sniffed at the Cardassian twins and nodded at Jivan. They were a bit more familiar with him.
"Where are the rest of your sisters?" he asked them.
"Back at home with our mother Que'la and her mates," Katana answered. "We have come to ask a favor from Vedek Kira."
"What's that?" Jivan was always asking questions even at his age.
"Never you mind!" Bayoneta growled.
"Oh, I see. That's adult stuff, huh?"
"That it is," his uncle Elim Garak said, slithering to his side. "I heard the O'Briens are already at the station with their children. Kira has three children as well. You will have so many playmates!"
"And connections to forge perhaps?" his aunt Iniki Melset added. "Pay close attention to the new alien children in particular, my very own ones!"
"We will, mother!" the twins practically sang back at her.
"And don't forget to have fun!" Garak reminded them. "Be children!"
"Oh, I'm definitely going to have fun!" Milo let out a sadistic little laugh.
"Aunt Kilana," the Vorta woman was obviously not biologically related to him but she was one of his favorite people, "Didn't you and your mate have another pup a while ago?" Jivan tugged at her blue sleeve. "A girl, right? Why didn't you bring her?"
"Willow is a bit young for space travel," Kilana answered. "However, she is weaned so Weyoun offered to watch her while I visited DS9 with Milo. I am sorry to disappoint you, Jivan."
Nelis and Kendos tried not to show it, but they were disappointed by that. Their aunt and her new husband Cornelius had done something similar. They had welcomed a Cardassian girl child into their home named Zera but the father was caring for her. No doubt baby Willow would have been precious and even cuter than Milo was and they were missing out on seeing Zera.
The twins spoke together in their personal secret language. It had roots in Kelani which was a language of code within code. Whenever they did that, their father grinned with pride. He knew what they were saying but pretended he didn't for their sake.
When his mother wasn't looking, Milo stuck his tongue out at Jivan, "You're stuck with me!"
Jivan was a bit too old to stick his tongue back out but he groaned, "It seems so, Weyoun Jr.!"
"Everyone likes me! Why don't you like me, Jivan?" Milo mock pouted.
"Because you're EVIL!" Jivan didn't try to be subtle.
"What makes you say that?" the Vorta pup grinned.
"Something about your face! Look at it! I just want to punch it!"
Milo tried to scramble away, but Jivan had him in a headlock quick and was mussing up his hair. The little boy might be a mischievous imp but he was fragile and small. He stood no chance against a Cardassian boy whose father was a soldier! He began to let out squeaks of exaggerated distress and Katana and Bayoneta turned their heads to glare at Jivan.
"I'm not hurting him!" Jivan released Milo. "Besides, he started it!"
"Jivan, I've told you to ignore him!" Siana sighed.
"It's alright," Kilana said with a severe look at her son. "He probably did start it!"
Milo turned an angelic gaze at his mother.
"Don't you start!" Kilana snapped. "Do you think I was born yesterday? Besides, you need to work on your innocent face and make it more convincing. If you can't fool me, how are you going to fool anyone else? We'll work on it later."
"Milo," Katana nudged him with her blunt spear, "Do you want to sit on my shoulders so you can see through the windows better?"
She plucked him up like he weighed nothing and placed him on her shoulders immediately. He stroked some of the horns sprouting from her bald scaled head with fascination. The female Jem'Hadar weren't the boring brown color of the males. Katana had scales of pale bone white splashed with gold here and there. Her sister Bayoneta was mostly emerald in color. Jivan was a little envious of their scales.
When they arrived at the station, Jivan was so happy he felt he would burst. They were processed through security with a minor hiccup. Milo kept wanting to run back and forth and harass the security team. There were crowds of people of many species but predominately Bajoran. Jivan wanted to go straight to the shrine where nearly everyone else was going but Siana and the rest of the party led them away.
"Mother, I want to see the Orb!" he insisted.
"That sort of thing is not for us," she answered.
"We want to see it!" Katana was transfixed.
"Yes, please!" Bayoneta echoed her.
"You must ask permission from Vedek Kira first!" Garak reminded them. "Speaking of the Vedek…"
Kira, her children, the O'Brien's, and Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax approached them. Jivan's eyes were drawn to Kira's daughter first and foremost. He hoped his eyes didn't bulge out of their sockets. If they had, no one seemed to notice. The girl had her mother's lovely shade of hair but sky blue eyes in contrast. Her hair was in a long braid. She had tiny ridges on her nose thanks to her mother's Bajoran ancestry. She looked to be half his age but she wasn't shy and flashed a smile right back at him.
Melset clutched her daughter's hand and whispered in Kelani, "Ready for a quiz?"
The little girl nodded enthusiastically.
"You've seen a list of names. Can you match names with faces just by first impressions?"
With her brother's help, the children made their best guesses. Their mother told them to be patient and see how accurate their predictions were after introductions.
"I never thought I'd see the day where we welcomed Cardassians and Vorta amongst the Federation and her allies!" Miles O'Brien blurted.
"Enemies turn to friends under the right circumstances," Ezri said cheerfully. "There's a long history of it throughout the galaxy."
"Well I was going to greet you all with a blessing," Kira shot Miles a pointed look. "I suppose we should make introductions for the children's sake."
"Who should go first?" Julian asked.
Garak grinned at him, "Well, Julian, just about everyone knows who you are! You helped to conceive half of these children! You ought to change your name to Dr. Stork!"
Julian rolled his eyes at the lame joke but smiled and Ezi giggled.
"Where's your kids?" Jivan said almost in challenge.
That made Julian Bashir turn a weird shade for his species and everyone in the room laughed at him. There was good reason for the joke. Julian had helped plant the embryos of all three of Kira's children, Garak's twins, and he had transplanted Kirayoshi so that Kira could act as his surrogate mother.
"I'm too young for children physically," Ezri explained. "I've had children before in my other lifetimes so I'm in no hurry."
"Good for you, Ezri!" Garak said. "Don't let Julian knock you up so soon!"
Even Ezri narrowed her eyes, "Did you really have to use that expression?"
"Yes!" he grinned. "It got a reaction, didn't it?"
His wife gave him a side glance. Although she had spent some time on the station, they couldn't tell if she approved or not of Garak's choice of words. She was far harder to read.
"When a woman is ready, she is ready," Siana said.
"These are mine," Garak clasped his twins, a shoulder belonging to one in his hand and the shoulder of the other in the second. "Nelis and Kendos."
"I am Dr. Siana Damar and this is Jivan."
"I am Kilana and this is my son Milo."
"I am Katana!"
"And I'm Bayoneta! We're Jem'Hadar warriors!"
"I'm Miles and this is my wife Keiko. This is Molly and Yoshi."
"I am Kira Nerys. My firstborn is Pohl, this is Taban, and this is Iliana."
"And we're the childless couple!" Julian groaned. "Are we forgetting anyone?"
The children glanced at one another. There were humans, half human and half Bajorans, Cardassians, a Vorta, and two Jem'Hadar girls. It was quite a mix. Jivan waved at Kira's girl.
"Iliana sounds like a common Cardassian name," he said aloud.
"I know," Kira grinned at him. "I had a sort of Cardassian father."
"I've never met Cardassian kids before," Iliana stared at them with eager eyes.
"I have," Molly O'Brien said. "But it's been a while."
"I suggest the children go off to play while the adults talk," Julian said.
Every parent glanced at him and Melset objected, "Many of the children are quite young to be unsupervised."
"Only a non-parent would suggest something like that!" Miles said, red faced.
"Several of them are teenagers," Julian pointed to Molly and the Jem'Hadar girls. "I mean, why not let them enjoy a few holoprograms at Quark's?"
Kira tapped her comm, "Security, see to it that Quark's bar is appropriate for young visitors within a few minutes?"
"My sister will go with the children," Boyaneta said, "but I must remain for the meeting."
"I'll relay your message," Kilana reassured her. "Go on! Maybe you can spar in the holosuite?"
Jem'Hadar never turned down such an opportunity especially with new opponents to learn from. The families traveled to Quark's. His dabo girls were out of sight and he had the children browse his catalogue of programs.
"Vulcan Love Slave? What is that?" Jivan asked innocently.
"The Risa Program sounds nice! It says the party takes place mostly on a beach!" Iliana said.
All the adults shot Quark a glare.
"Uh, that's nothing! That's mine!" Quark struggled to smooth things over. "I mean, it's not mine! Look, maybe I should just limit the programs to sports programs?"
"That'll do!" Miles growled as Garak and Julian laughed.
"I have a feeling we will regret this," Melset whispered to her husband.
"Let the children have their fun," he whispered back. "They are young. And they are alive."
"Oh, how did you do matching names to faces?" she asked her twins.
"We got most of them right," Nelis smiled with triumph.
The adults finally left and the children reveled in the fact that they were finally allowed to run a little wild. Iliana immediately ran to the twins to get a better look at them. Yoshi and Molly sized up the Jem'Hadar girls. Molly was hesitant to get too close. She remembered the Jem'Hadar had been quite scary in her youth and her father had negative experiences with Cardassians.
"Do you all want to play spring ball?" Iliana suggested first.
They dictated to the computer the program and Pohl took it upon himself to explain the rules. He was ten years old but acted as though he had memorized the rule book and recited it as though it was Shakespeare. He was tall, thin, and blonde with sky blue eyes like his sister. His brother Taban calmly listened. He was eight with Kira's brown eyes. Iliana began to demonstrate with Molly who was somewhat familiar with the Bajoran sport already. It wasn't far off from tennis either.
"When do the players fight?" the Jem'Hadar girls asked.
"What?" Pohl resented being interrupted. "There is no fighting only attacking the ball."
"I agree!" Milo squeaked.
"It's a game of flexibility and skill!" Pohl sputtered.
"Watch us play for a bit," Taban suggested.
"I think it looks fine!" Jivan said.
The twins said nothing. They watched as though their eyes were the optics of a recording device taking everything in. The Kiras and O'Briens played a few rounds. Pohl preferred to play the role of a coach as his younger siblings teamed up against Molly and Yoshi. The boys weren't quite as good as the girls so they were evenly matched. They O'Briens had even played with them before on some rare but memorable visits to their surrogate in the past. Yoshi was still very close to Nerys.
Then Pohl instructed the Cardassians. They had Kendos pair up with Jivan on one side and Nelis and Iliana on the other to make it fair. Jivan kept aiming the ball on Iliana's side. She grinned and batted the ball right back until the twins objected.
"We want to learn!" they complained. "And we're on a team!"
"OK, you are right," Jivan realized he was neglecting them.
"I guess Cardassians aren't so bad at this!" Taban joked. "You should visit more often to get better!"
He tried to pat Nelis on the cheek and she darted away.
"They don't like to be touched. Don't take it personal," Jivan explained.
Next Pohl instructed the Jem'Hadar. Milo wanted to play as soon as he saw them somewhat enjoying themselves. They were very agile and Iliana got excited too. She was naturally competitive and quite skilled for her tender age of six. She volunteered to be on Bayoneta's team as Milo joined Katana. Jivan booed at the pup. He was so small he had to scramble to get the ball and usually failed. He quickly got frustrated. Like his father, he hated to lose and took it poorly. When Iliana and Bayoneta celebrated a score, Milo began to tear at the net.
"Hey, stop that!" Jivan shouted.
"He's ferocious, huh?" Iliana and Molly giggled.
"Go on! Tear that net to shreds, Milo!" Katana yelled out in encouragement.
"What is the matter with you?" Pohl was horrified. "Even if you were winning, pup, you've disqualified your team!"
"I don't care!" Milo shot him a venomous look.
"Listen to the Changeling's child!" Bayoneta said. "He's as close to a Founder as we can get."
"I don't care!" Milo repeated.
That made the Jem'Hadar girls stop his tantrum. He wailed he wanted to play a better game.
"How about sumo wrestling?" Yoshi offered.
"What is that?" all but Molly asked together.
"It's a sacred Japanese wrestling sport," Yoshi explained.
"We want to see it!" the twins said.
Yoshi ordered the computer to end the current program and begin the new one. It simulated a dojo and an authentic sumo wrestler. The O'Briens weren't surprised but the others howled with laughter including the Jem'Hadar teens.
"What is that?" Katana pointed to the unusual dress or lack of dress on the NPC.
"His belt and clothing," Yoshi said.
"Why are the wrestlers so morbidly fat?" Bayoneta looked unimpressed.
"Don't underestimate sumo wrestlers!" Yoshi said with complete seriousness. "These wrestlers spend their lives training and eating a special diet to gain that weight. It's the secret of their strength! They're like oxen and dedicated!"
"Where's their weapons?"
"It's wrestling so they use light slaps and try to throw each other out of the circle," Yoshi traced the ring.
"How is that difficult?"
The children watched in fascination as the computer replicated another wrestler and the colossal giants collided and tried to wrest each other out of the ring. Iliana once again became excited. She stomped her feet, imitating the professionals. Then she clapped her hands and crouched, preparing to charge at one of the wrestlers. The NPC looked amused but seemed to accept the challenge. When the count was made, Iliana let out such a battle cry and charged with all her might at the NPC. He seemed so startled by her passion and the computer decided to play along with the girl. He pretended she was overbearingly strong and stumbled backwards as she impacted.
"My turn!" Milo charged and began biting the NPC's ankles.
"Stop!" Yoshi and Molly cried.
"Another disqualification!" Pohl barked.
"Oh, Weyoun Jr. is trying to cheat?" Jivan said sarcastically. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Computer, take away the NPCs," Molly commanded. "Let's all wrestle together. The game is simple enough, right, Pohl?"
She flashed him a sweet smile and Pohl hesitated and then nodded, "Carry on."
"Thanks for your permission, coach!"
The Jem'Hadar girls gave the wrestling a try practicing with each other. Watching them was more entertaining. They were nearly perfectly matched. After a long struggle, Katana finally managed to push the other girl out of the ring. Then Taban and Yoshi tried. Yoshi beat him within seconds. Taban was the easiest going of the Kiras. The twins went at it and made sure each twin had a victory. Milo couldn't resist calling out Jivan and regretted it instantly. Jivan tossed him effortlessly out of the ring and Milo tried to bite him.
"That's it, pup, you're not allowed to fight anyone!" Pohl pointed at him.
"You're all so mean!" Milo wailed.
Molly challenged Iliana. She was surprised that the girl was stronger than she looked. She had forgotten Bajorans were stronger than humans. Iliana took advantage of her surprise and dragged her out of the ring. The second time Molly was better prepared and there was more of a struggle. Jivan challenged Iliana as the Jem'Hadar girls went at it beside them in another ring.
"I'm going to beat you, Cardi boy!" Iliana whispered at him.
"Maybe you will!" he answered. "You have a Cardassian name and maybe a bit more than that in your character?"
She didn't lie. She charged with that cute battle cry and clasped him in a firm grip. He was thrilled by her enthusiasm and her direct contact with some of his scales and ridges. He couldn't help but let her win. Then she challenged his cousins, beating them one after the other. She even motioned to Milo and warned him if he tried sinking teeth into her she was going to slug him.
"Oh, now I think I'm in love!" Jivan thought privately to himself but voiced instead, "I'd love to see you slug that little worm!"
"I don't want to bite her!" Milo snapped. "She's not ugly and I don't hate her like you!"
"That's it! Your mommy isn't here to save you!"
The two of them fought until Katana and Bayoneta pulled them apart. Of course, they always sided with Milo. Iliana patted Jivan's arm.
"Don't worry," she reassured him. "I can see he's a little brat!"
"Thank you!" Jivan was happy that anyone else would acknowledge that.
"Mother and father taught us to avoid violence," Kendos said softly.
"And when there's no other choice at last to exploit the enemy weaknesses!" Nelis imitated her mother's voice.
"Yeah I like to skip a few steps," Jivan groaned. "So what?"
"Pohl, would you like to spar instead of just standing and watching?" Molly extended an invitation.
"Someone has to be responsible!" he puffed up.
"Lighten up!" Yoshi tackled him from behind. "Be a kid, not a man!"
"Can you simulate a forest?" Milo asked. "I want to climb trees!"
"Don't do that!" Katana stopped him. "Milo climbs up into those trees and we can't get him down!"
"Good! Then we can lose him!" Jivan said.
"We can replicate food you know!" Taban reminded them.
"What do Jem'Hadar eat?" the twins asked.
"Raw meat when possible," the sisters answered. "But we find we like Klingon food."
"I prefer Bajoran," Jivan yawned.
"Me too!" Iliana chimed.
"I can eat just about anything!" Taban boasted.
"I like nuts and berries!" Milo said. "And pizza with chopsticks!"
"What?" they all turned to give him a funny look.
"I really like sushi," Molly confessed.
"I like shepherd's pie!" Yoshi admitted.
"What about the twins?" Pohl asked.
"Zabu stew the way our grandmother makes it," they answered.
"That's pretty good too," Jivan nodded. "I like anything she makes."
"What do you like, Pohl?" Molly was always trying to get him to speak up.
"Cheesecake," he answered with a guilty look.
"Let's replicate a swimming pool!" Yoshi shouted to the computer. "Give us all swimming suits too!"
The computer obeyed. Jivan made an attempt to drown Milo just a little but the pup was actually a good swimmer. Molly tossed her brother into the water. Taban did a cannon ball. The sisters treaded in the shallow end for a bit. Iliana dived gracefully into the deep end fearlessly. The twins studied the water warily before Jivan encouraged them to get in. Pohl offered to give them swimming floats and lessons always thinking about safety and the younger children's comfort.
Jivan treaded the water over to Iliana. She was soon busy racing Milo in the water. He was like a seal and she was like a lovely little mermaid. Milo beat her in most of the races. Because he beat her he decided he liked her even more. That made Jivan instantly jealous and that encouraged the ornery pup even more.
"You don't stand a chance with her!" he told Milo.
"Neither do you!" he screeched. "You're a lizard boy who will grow to be a lizard man! Bajorans hate your people for good reason!"
Iliana looked confused and Jivan's mouth dropped open in shock.
He retaliated, "Your people are sly little devils that carpet bombed my planet!"
"Maybe you all deserved it!"
Jivan's anger was real this time and not just playful rivalry. Pohl saw his face change color and wisely came between them.
"I want you both to stay away from my sister!" he said in a threatening voice. "Come on, Iliana! Let's play with Molly and Yoshi."
Both the lizard boy and the pup became troubled and slightly sad when the Bajoran children swam away. The twins were distracted from the scene because they were playing a game of chicken on the Jem'Hadar sisters' shoulders.
"I apologize for my brother's behavior," Taban swam back over to them. "He's very protective of my little sister is all."
"I guess I don't blame him. I have a little sister now," Jivan said but he didn't feel much better.
"Will you race me, Taban?" Milo asked.
He nodded and they raced.
The children swam and played for hours until Molly got the message from Kira that the adults were done with their serious business and wanted to collect their children.
"I don't want to leave!" Milo shouted.
"For once, I agree with you," Jivan announced.
"What shall we do?" Yoshi was far more mischievous than his sister.
"Hide and seek!" Milo said gleefully. "Whoever can hide from their parents wins!"
"Wins what?" the twins demanded.
"Bragging rights forever and ever!"
"We like challenges," the Jem'Hadar sisters said.
"Split up and hide!" Taban bellowed.
They all fled before the two responsible people in the room could possibly choose one of them to pursue. Molly and Pohl looked at each other helplessly.
"We better tell our parents," Pohl sighed with exasperation.
Garak and Melset, Kira and the O'Briens, Siana and Kilana, none of them were happy when they realized they must hunt their own children down. Molly offered to help find her unruly brother and Pohl was more than willing to track his brother and sister.
The first to be found were the Jem'Hadar girls. They weren't even trying to hide really. They had snuck into the shrine and were staring at the Orb compartment. Vedek Mesro was luckily instructing them and Vedek Kira let them know that she would welcome any Jem'Hadar to be guardians at the station just as they requested.
Overjoyed, the sisters helped to hunt Milo down. He was found crawling on the ceiling of the Promenade. Kilana told him in a quiet but menacing voice that Weyoun would punish him if he didn't become an obedient little pup that instant. Real fear appeared in Milo's eyes and he came down quick enough.
Taban was found buying a jumja stick with Yoshi at his side eating sticky rice balls. They had forgotten the silly game in their hunger. That meant only the Cardassian children and Iliana were left to be discovered. Pohl interrogated his own brother, worried sick for his sister. Yoshi assured him that no one in their right mind would hurt Kira's daughter but Pohl didn't care. He was more concerned than his mother. She was taking the whole situation quite well.
Finally Melset heard a familiar sound and looked down at the floor grates in one of the hallways. Her twins had crawled down into the floor and were giggling mischievously. She thought about giving them a long lecture then and there but she also felt the mischief bug bite her and gestured to Garak.
"I think they may be down there. Fetch them. I think I know where Jivan is so I must help Siana find him," she excused herself.
"Really?" Garak gave her a look but she was gone quick.
"We are not coming out until you get us, father!" Kendos called up to him.
"We like it here! We're having fun!" Nelis agreed.
"I can't believe my own children are exploiting my weakness!" Garak muttered to himself.
He had made a lot of progress but he was still claustrophobic. Crawling down into a dark and cramped space was the last thing he wanted to do. He shut his eyes, reminded himself he was a father, and he absolutely could not allow his twins to defeat him like this! He crawled after them, facing his fear and proving his dedication as a father yet again.
Kira, Siana, and Melset found Jivan and Iliana together. They were sitting in the window that overlooked the wormhole. They were deep in conversation and seemed to have forgotten all about the game. To Siana's distress, the children were pressing their palms together as they spoke. She snatched her son away and Kira gathered her daughter into her arms.
"Jivan, what do you think you are doing?" Siana demanded.
"Did we do something wrong?" Iliana was confused again.
"You did nothing wrong, girl," Siana reassured her. "Jivan didn't tell you what that gesture means to our people, did he?"
Kira said nothing but she could see that Siana was very uncomfortable. Pohl was staring daggers at Jivan as well. He was at his mother's side too.
"Mother, I didn't mean-"
"Not a word! Not here!" Siana said severely. "Vedek Kira, you have been very hospitable. I hope you had fun, children, but it's time to leave!"
"Bye, Jivan!" Iliana waved.
"Bye, little Bajoran girl," he said with regret.
The O'Briens were remaining on the station for a few days more. The Cardassians, the Vorta, and the Jem'Hadar gathered into the shuttle. Garak took a moment to say farewell to Julian Bashir and to make a dig at Miles. Kira offered to give them all a blessing in the shrine. The Jem'Hadar girls said that Vedek Mesro had already done that so she made some quick gestures to Melset and Siana and their children wishing them a safe journey home.
"Siana, I want to apologize if my girl-"
"I said it wasn't Iliana's fault. Your girl didn't know. You may need to explain some history and culture to her once you can though," Siana interrupted.
"I need to have words with my own children," Garak said and Melset nodded.
"I have no doubt my son was behind a lot of the antics today," Kilana said.
"Don't be too harsh with them," Kira smiled. "They are children after all."
Once the shuttle was on its way, the parents did speak to their children. They lectured them for being disobedient and irresponsible. What if someone had been hurt? What if a child had been lost and the entire party was delayed? They each had very busy parents. They couldn't afford to be strapped in space.
"Father, didn't you have fun too?" Kendos asked. "You got to see your friends again."
"You like Kira, don't you, mother?" Nelis chimed.
"The point is that we have a schedule and adults must balance their time," Garak told them.
"It was very cruel of you to hide in a dark suffocating place as well," Melset told them. "I am proud of your father considering the circumstance."
"You could have fetched them for me!" Garak told her.
A ghost of a smile appeared on her lips and she said, "No one listened to me when I said the children should have been properly monitored by an actual adult."
Garak sighed, "Yes, you made a point. We should have listened to you."
"Milo says he is the one that suggested the children play 'hide and seek'," Kilana announced.
"Yeah and I didn't even win!" the pup's arms were folded across his chest as he pouted. "I'm sorry, mommy!"
"Are you?" she studied him critically.
"Yes! I hate seeing Jivan win!"
"Iliana won too. Both of us did," Jivan muttered.
"About that…" Siana's eyes flashed. "Did you tell that innocent girl that what you were doing was highly inappropriate?"
"Siana," his aunt Iniki Melset actually came to his defense! "They are children. I doubt Jivan knew what they were doing."
"Well let's ask him! Jivan, did you know what you were doing?"
"We were pressing palms."
"And what does that imply? Tell me!"
"It's like a kiss in our culture."
"That's right! Did you press your palm to hers first or did she initiate that?"
"But did you explain to her what that meant? Answer me!"
Jivan hung his head and Melset said, "Siana, I really think you are overreacting. Kira certainly didn't seem to think there was anything wrong. She understands our people better than you think and she probably wouldn't object to some innocent contact between a Bajoran and a Cardassian."
"First of all, I can't believe you are saying this, second of all my son and her daughter are too young and lastly I would rather my son have a Cardassian girl."
"Why is that?" Garak asked sharply.
"Because you have no idea what it is like to be a hybrid!" Siana snapped. "Jivan, if your children are hybrid or something like me, their life will be made unnecessarily harder!"
"Sister, that's not fair! You can't choose your son's preference in mates and we all face certain adversaties-"
"I'm sorry, Melset, but you are Kelani! That isn't the same as being a hybrid! It's not even close! Your people are accepted into the mainstream. I still get looks wherever I go and they are not always flattering!"
"Well if a Cardassian and a Bajoran can't be together, is it fine for a Vorta and a Bajoran to get married?" Milo interrupted the heated debate with a question and a smirk at Jivan.
Kilana pinched his ear and made him squeak and then he was silent.
"Siana," Garak aided his wife. "Times are changing. Bajorans and Cardassians don't have to be enemies anymore. Our species are closer than we like to think. There's no need to perpetuate the negative feelings because you felt victimized."
Siana seethed at their words and Jivan was struggling not to cry. The twins had watched the whole conversation with wide eyes and seemed very confused. They were a bit too young perhaps. They didn't like seeing their cousin berated and made upset either. At least they weren't getting an earful. They supposed they should be grateful and they had fun but they knew they'd never wander from their elders and be naughty like that again.
After a while, Siana gestured to her son. She had calmed down and hugged him close.
"It's OK to be friends with Kira Iliana," she whispered to him. "Just please be mindful about anything further? Don't fall for the first girl you see. Promise?"
"I promise, mother."
"Can I exchange transmissions with her?" Jivan worked up the courage to ask.
"Alright. Keep them simple and remember you have the higher academies to attend very soon. I hope you had fun today. You are nearly a man, Jivan, and great things are expected from you."
"It's a good thing that my step-father is a teacher," Jivan grinned. "Zera is lucky to have him as a father too."
Siana smiled, "She is."
"Mother? Father? Can we visit the O'Briens and the Kiras again?" the twins asked eagerly.
"Maybe in the future," Garak answered. "But you must promise to behave!"
Milo stuck his tongue out at Jivan, "Kira Iliana will be mine anyway, lizard boy!"
Jivan shook his head, "What would a fierce girl like that want with a pup like you? She's got a Cardassian name and her mother's spirit. You can't compete with me!"
"She's closer to my age!"
"Age is just a number. I told you that you are evil. Even a blind woman can see that!"
"We can't wait to tell our sisters that we get to guard the Orb and the Wormhole!" the Jem'Hadar sisters were buzzing with a spiritual high.
"Really?" Kilana snapped. "Because you couldn't even guard a Vorta pup!"
The girls managed to look bashful, "You are right. Milo, you're going to be guarded much better from now on!"
"Aw!" Milo let out a frustrated groan.
Jivan laughed until his sides nearly split. It had been an unforgettable trip aboard DS9, that was for certain. He probably wouldn't return again for years but he promised himself he would visit Kira Iliana again someday. He would make it a point not to forget her.