The next night, Dani was in her room (at the apartment provided by Headquarters, of course) reading a magazine when her computer beeped and announced, “Incoming Transmission.”
“If this is another long lost relative…” Dani said, rolling off of her bed and walking over to her desk. She sat down and read the transmission information. She was surprised to find that the transmission was from Will Riker. Almost immediately, she accessed it. Will’s image instantly appeared on the screen.
“Hello,” Dani greeted.
“Hey,” Will said.
“Well, this certainly is a surprise,” Dani said.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“No,” Dani assured. “I was just trying to catch up on all the magazines I missed while I was gone. It seems that even after all these years, they never terminated my subscription.”
Will chuckled. “I guess they don’t lie when they say ‘guaranteed delivery.'”
Dani smiled. “I guess not. Anyway, I’ve got about 50 issues left.”
“Oh, well, if you’re busy-”
“No – I need a break anyway. So, what sparks this transmission?”
“Well, I was thinking about the party last night, and how we were talking about how I hoped it wouldn’t be the last time we would be able to do something together,” Will said.
“And I was wondering when we could make good on that,” Will concluded.
‘He was asking me out,’ Dani thought, recalling the conversation she’d had with Will the previous night. ‘Oh, my-‘
“Were you serious about that, or just being cordial?” Will asked, interrupting Dani’s thoughts.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Dani said, “except I already know your answer since you’re the one who brought it up.” ‘I hope I do,’ Dani silently added.
“What’s your answer?” Will asked, again interrupting Dani’s thought processes.
“I was serious,” Dani revealed. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she saw Will breathe a small sigh of relief. “Am I wrong in assuming that you’re glad to hear that?”
“No. In fact, glad is an understatement. I’m damn near giddy.”
“Good,” Dani said.
This unbearable silence followed. Dani was grateful when Will finally broke it.
“So, I was thinking that maybe we could have lunch,” he said.
“Lunch?” Dani repeated
Will eyed her cautiously. “Is something wrong?”
“No,” Dani assured him. “No. I just wasn’t expecting-”
“It won’t be anything formal, if that’s what you’re worried about. It just be a little…sit-down-get-reacquainted kind of thing.”
Something suddenly dawned on Dani – the media. If she went out in public, during the day, especially, the media would eat her alive. She, along with every member of the Voyagercrew, had become instant celebrities since their return to Earth. And if they realized that she was on a date? With a famous Starfleet commander, such as Will – they would have field day.
Dani’s feelings must’ve been apparent to Will.
“I’ll make sure no one bothers us,” he said. “I can have security positioned throughout and around the restaurant. No reporters, no cameras. It could just be the two of us. If that’s what you want.”
Her answer told him all he needed to know. “Of course we can have lunch. I’d love to. When and where?”
“Well, I wanted to let you be the one to make that decision. I didn’t know what the schedule for the briefings was.”
“The sooner the better.”
“Would tomorrow be okay?” Will asked.
“Sure,” Dani agreed.
“Your parents won’t have any problem with this, will they?” Will inquired.
“Why would they? They never had any problem with it before.”
Will inclined his head and laughed nervously. “I think this is a little different.”
“I know,” Dani acquiesced. “But if they don’t make an issue out of it, I certainly won’t.”
“That’ll work for me.” That big smile that Dani had been dying to see for seven years spread across Will’s bearded face. It made her smile as well. “I’ll see you then,” Will added.
“Bye,” Dani bid the charming commander.
“Riker out,” Will said, terminating the transmission.
Dani deactivated her terminal. She couldn’t believe it. She actually had a date with Will Riker.
“Oh, my…” Dani said standing. She started walking around her room. “I’ve got so much to do. I’ve got to get a dress, I-” She stopped mid- pace. “Wait a minute – no I don’t. Nothing formal. This is just a casual dinner. It’s not even dinner; it’s lunch. I don’t need to dress up. But I don’t need to dress down, either. Ohhh!”
Dani turned to see that her mother had appeared in her open doorway.
“What’s the matter?” Kathryn asked her daughter as she walked into the room.
“I can’t decide what to wear for my date tomorrow,” Dani revealed. She walked over to the replicator and started searching the terminal for possible outfits.
“Date?” This piqued Kathryn’s interest. Voyager hadn’t even been back a week, and her daughter already had a date? With who, she wondered.
“Yeah,” Dani said. “Will and I are having lunch tomorrow.” A blue blouse and black slacks appeared on the console. She cleared it and moved to the next outfit.
“You and Will?”
“Any special occasion?”
“No,” Dani replied casually. “Just a casual thing. You know, to get reacquainted.”
Dani turned off the replicator console in frustration. “I can’t do this tonight. I’ll just throw something on. It won’t matter.” She turned to her mother. “Was there something you wanted to talk about it?”
“Uh, no. Not really. I just wanted to let you know that your father and I would be in briefing all tomorrow.”
“No,” Dani protested. “I was hoping we could all spend the day in the city.”
“I know, Sweetheart, and I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“We’ve been here for three days, and I haven’t even had one meal with you guys.”
“Dani, I’m so sorry.”
“Will you be here for dinner?” Dani asked hopefully.
Kathryn looked at Dani and painfully said, “I can’t make any guarantees.” Dani looked at the ground. “Look, after all this is over, and we get back to Indiana, we’ll do anything you want. But right now, this comes first.”
“I understand, Mom,” Dani said. “I was just hoping that we would get to spend a little time together.”
“I know,” Kathryn said. “And maybe we will. We just have to get this taken care of first.”
Kathryn walked over to her daughter. “Look at you. I can’t believe it.”
“When this whole mess started, you were only twelve, and now look at you. You’ll be twenty in a few weeks. I’m so proud of you.” It looked as if she were going to cry.
“Oh, Mom,” Dani said, hugging Kathryn. “Don’t cry.”
“I love you so much,” Kathryn said.
“I love you, too, Mom.”
“I’m so sorry you had to spend your teenage years stuck on a starship.”
“I wouldn’t change it for the world.” She and Kathryn looked at each other and embraced again.