Timeline: During the season 2 episode, The Collaborator.
Word Count: 289.
Author's note: Inspired by Deborah's reaction to viewing The Collaborator, as well as several discussions at ds9agogo.
Summary: Bareil chooses not to become Kai.
In the end, it came down to this. Opaka was revered by all of Bajor, their lost, perfect jewel that had shone through so many years of the occupation. Tell all of Bajor that Kai Opaka had sacrificed her own son along with many of their people so that hundreds more would live, that she had traded in secrecy and bitterness with their Cardassian overlords, and her memory would not be the only thing to suffer. Some might even admire her for her selflessness. Others would understand. But no one would look on any of their Kais the same way again, not if they knew that the golden robes of the Kai could be splattered with the blood of the innocent.
The occupation had already destroyed the caste system, and Bareil was not sure whether or not this had been a good thing. Still, the belief in the Prophets, and the veneration for their Vedeks and the Kai they had chosen had remained uncompromised. Bajor was fragile, with so many wounds that needed healing. If the people were robbed of those they had always looked up to now, it might fall in eternal darkness.
So he chose to hand over the gleaming, alluring bowl with its poisonous worm inside to Winn, accepting the disappointment and the suspicions. He would save Bajor, but not as Opaka had done, by trading lives for lives, by entering the world of shadows and deals that could drive a good man to suicide. No matter what everyone else thought, his hands would remain clean. He would never be Kai, and somewhere inside himself, he was glad. The Prophets had seen that he didn't deserve such a fate.
He had always thought that Winn did.