It was rare for Damar to have any time to himself, reconstruction taking up most of his waking hours, but he found himself out of his office before sunset and in the still-bustling market he had only seen in passing. Ducking through the throng of people, he marveled at how far they’d come. There was food, beautifully-crafted clothes and accessories, and the people no longer looked as haggard.
A flash of purple caught his eye. Making his way to the stand, Damar felt a smile creep across his face. Sand gardens! He hadn’t seen them since he was a small child. Looking at the collection, he spied the one that had brought him over.
It was a simple rectangular box, about the length of his forearm, and painted a dusky purple. The sand was more pastel, and there were a few stones so dark they looked black until they caught the light. A soft purple rake lay delicately in the sand.
A few minutes later, he walked out of the market with a small bag of fruits in one hand and the sand garden in the other.
Damar is putting the bag away when Weyoun walks in and does a double-take.
“Damar! You’re home early,” Weyoun smiles softly at his partner, walking over to greet him with a kiss.
“Yeah, I can hardly believe it myself,” Damar takes a second to just look at the shorter man, reveling in his happiness. “Oh! I got you something!”
Weyoun visibly perked up at that statement, his fingers twitching. Damar herded him over to the couch, in front of which the sand garden sat.
“Oh! What is it?” Weyoun was already trailing his fingers through the soft sand.
“A sand garden. You make patterns with the sand and rocks.”
Damar picked up the rake and demonstrated for Weyoun, who was enthralled. Handing the rake over, he watched the shorter man make more and more lines until they were no longer discernible from each other. When he got up to make dinner, Weyoun was still raking, his eyes glittering with joy.
The next day, Damar came home to a bouncing Weyoun bursting with facts from all over the quadrant. He had apparently spent his free time researching similar items to his sand garden. That night, he elaborated on the Zen Gardens from Earth. The next night he spent describing the snow paintings of Andor. It took a week and a half for him to run out of cultural comparisons, including demonstrations of the traditional designs from each.
Damar was both relieved and disappointed. It was interesting to learn how the ancient Hebetians had been similar to many other cultures. And he loved seeing his partner excited. But by the second week, Weyoun had become closed off, jumping when he saw Damar and looking guilty.
It was when he was woken up by Weyoun sneaking out of bed that Damar had to put his foot down. The next day was the anniversary of the new government, and they both had it off in celebration. Damar was setting up breakfast when Weyoun walked out, yawning.
“Is there something special about today?” The Vorta asked, tilting his head.
“No, not really,” Damar shrugged, gesturing for Weyoun to sit. “Just thought it would be nice.”
Shrugging, Weyoun sat, fixing his eyes on Damar, who sat across from him awkwardly. A tense pause followed, with Weyoun’s eyes never leaving his companion.
“So,” Damar started, “did you sleep well?”
Weyoun blinked slowly, not answering. They finished breakfast in silence, only broken by the scraping of utensils on plates. Damar took the plates to the reclamator, internally cursing himself for his awkwardness.
He sighed, sitting himself down onto the couch and patting the cushion next to him for Weyoun to sit. He looked at his lap where his fingers were tangled, taking a breath before Weyoun cut him off, still standing.
Damar looked back up, startled. His breath caught when he saw the fear in his partner’s eyes.
“I know you were about to ask why I’ve been acting… off… and it’s because I’m defective.”
“Weyoun-” Damar was cut off again, this time by Weyoun plopping down on the couch. He decided that convincing his partner that he wasn’t “defective” was a battle for another day.
“Ok then, how would you be defective?” He took Weyoun’s hand in his, softly rubbing circles into it with his thumb.
“You know the Vorta have no sense of aesthetics… however…” Weyoun hesitated, “using the sand garden you bought me, I have been… experimenting.”
“And that makes you defective?” Damar tried to be soothing, but winced as Weyoun flinched at his words.
“Obviously!” Weyoun burst out, throwing his hand away, “If the Vorta were meant to have aesthetics, the Founders would have given them to us! What I’ve done is an affront to everything they have ever given us!”
Damar pulled a resisting Weyoun into a tight embrace, his heart hurting at the wet patch his shoulder was becoming. It was rare for Weyoun to cry and even his outbursts about the founders had decreased.
He waited until Weyoun had calmed down a bit before pulling back, wiping the tear stains off his partner’s face.
“Weyoun… you know I love you exactly how you are, no matter how defective you think you are, right?”
Weyoun nodded, wiping away a fresh tear.
“Now, if you feel comfortable with it, I would be honored to see your designs.”
Weyoun’s eyes widened, still glassy with tears, and he threw himself at Damar, hugging him tightly. He then jumped up, running to the other room while chattering about design technicalities. Damar smiled, content to see the spark in his partner’s eye return and bask in his excitement.