Now 17, Dani stood staring unbelievingly at Kathryn. She had pulled stunts like this before, and it’d never produced this outcome.
“Grounded?” Dani asked.
“Yes,” Kathryn said. For some reason, Dani couldn’t accept that this was her punishment. She could accept kitchen duty or something to that effect, but not this.
“But-” Dani started to argue, but Kathryn cut her off sharply. “GO!”
Dani didn’t have any choice but to do as Kathryn said. She walked across the living room and entered her room. The doors closed quietly behind her.
In the living room, Kathryn decided that it was the perfect time for coffee. She crossed over to the small dining room and ordered a cup from the replicator. As the coffee was materializing, Chakotay entered the room from the corridor. She was surprised to see him, for he had said he would be in engineering for most of the day. However, she was glad he was there.
“Chakotay,” Kathryn said, picking up the cup of coffee, “I thought you were going to be in engineering all day?”
“That was my plan, but B’Elanna said she had all the help she needed. Besides, it was a little crowded in there. So, I decided to get started on next week’s duty rosters.” He held up PADD and walked over to his desk. As he sat down, Kathryn walked over to the desk. “Where’s Dani?” His hand skipped over the buttons on his desk.
Kathryn took a sip of her coffee. “I sent her to her room.” Chakotay looked up at Kathryn.
“Why?” he asked.
“Chakotay, do you know what she was doing today?” Kathryn asked. When he shook his head, she went on. “She went space diving on the holodeck.”
“Space diving?” Chakotay said. He stood and walked around his desk, shaking his head. “What was she trying to do? Kill herself?”
“No. She claimed she was just bored.” Chakotay sighed. “Chakotay, the girl’s gone…Delta wild.” Chakotay merely smiled at his wife’s new expression. “I grounded her. I’m also going to revoke her holodeck privileges for a month and give her kitchen duty.”
“Well, don’t call Neelix just yet,” Chakotay said. “Let me talk to her.”
“Gladly,” Kathryn said, sipping on her coffee. Chakotay walked past Kathryn to Dani’s door.
Inside her room, Dani heard her door chime.
“Go away!” she said.
Outside, Chakotay looked back at Kathryn. She raised her eyebrows and took another sip of coffee. He turned back to the door and chimed again.
“I said GO AWAY!” Dani reiterated. It was to no avail, however, because she heard her doors slide open. Someone walked in. The doors slid closed. The visitor took a few steps towards Dani’s bed. Dani had her back to the door and the visitor, but she knew who it was. It wasn’t her mother, because her step was lighter, and this person had a heavy step. She looked to her right in time to see her father sit down on the bed beside her.
‘Oh, great,’ she thought. ‘Another lecture.’
Chakotay surprised her by saying, “I’m not here to lecture you.” Dani looked down at the floor. Chakotay went on. “I just want to find out what’s going on with you.”
“Nothing, Dad,” Dani said looking at Chakotay. “I’m fine.”
Chakotay studied his daughter’s face. Her skin was a pale brown, an exact medium between his brownness and her mother’s paleness. She had inherited many of her mother’s traits. Even though her eyes were dark like his, they were definitely her mother’s eyes. They had the same piercing quality. She had her mother’s facial structure and was the same height as she. She had inherited many of his traits, also. She had his dark hair and his mouth. She even had his smile. It was almost identical to his, except she only had one dimple, and he had two. However, she was not smiling today.
“You may be able to tell that to some people, but I don’t believe it,” Chakotay said. “I’ve known you for seventeen years. I know when you’re fine and when something’s bothering you.” Dani looked away from Chakotay. This wasn’t going to be easy. “Come on, Dani,” Chakotay pleaded. “What’s wrong? Talk to me. We used to talk. We don’t ever talk anymore. What’s the matter?” Dani still wouldn’t answer him. Instead she turned her body and leaned against the headboard. At least she was looking at him now.
Dani studied Chakotay. She was a little surprised that he’d taken time from his busy schedule to actually attempt to find out what was bugging her.
“Your mother told me you went space diving on the holodeck today,” Chakotay said. “Wanna tell me why?”
“She didn’t tell you?” Dani asked, bitterly.
“Well, she told me that you blamed it on boredom,” Chakotay said. “Is that accurate?”
“Pretty much,” Dani admitted. “I mean, she just doesn’t understand what it’s like for me.”
“But I do,” Chakotay said. “At least I’m trying to.” Pulling his leg up on the bed, he turned his body and faced Dani, hoping she would take as a sign of his genuine interest in her feelings. She did and continued to talk.
“I’m stuck here with no one to really talk to, you know? I feel like I’m so alone, I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, have you tried talking with some of Seven’s students. I believe Icheb’s about your age, isn’t he?”
“Oh, Dad…they used to be drones! What kind of conversation could I have with them?”
“They might surprise you.”
Dani shook her head. “No. I don’t think so.”
“You know, you can always talk to me or your mother anytime you need or want to,” Chakotay offered.
Dani just shook her head again. “No,” she protested. “You and Mom are always busy doing stuff with the ship.”
“Dani, your mother and I run a starship. That’s our job.”
“I know, but I miss how we used to do things together.” Dani looked away from him, remembering earlier times. “We used to do stuff as a family. Me and you and her. I wish things could go back to the way the used to be.”
“Me, too, Dani,” Chakotay said. “We all do. Don’t you see? That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get home. But we can’t do it if we have to worry about you. We need your help in this. We’re both working toward the same goal, but you’ve got to do your part, too. You’ve got to stop upsetting your mother like this. Give her a break. She could definitely use it.”
Dani looked at Chakotay. Her expression was much more pleasant than it had been when he’d first entered the room.
“Dani,” Chakotay said, “you know that your mother and I love you very much. We just don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“I know, Dad, and…I’m sorry,” Dani apologized. “It’s just hard, you know?”
Chakotay nodded. “I know.” Without warning, an idea entered his head. “Say, what do you say we have dinner tonight? Just the three of us.”
Hope filled Dani. “A family dinner? Like old times?”
Chakotay nodded. “Yeah.” He saw the hope in his daughter’s eyes replaced by joy.
The joy faded a little as she asked, “Neelix isn’t going to cook is he?”
Chakotay laughed and shook his head. “No. We’ll replicate something.” Dani smiled again.
“I’d like that.”
“Good.” Chakotay leaned over and kissed Dani on the forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Chakotay stood and walked to the door.
“Dad?” Chakotay turned to face Dani. “Am I still grounded?” Chakotay smiled a little.
“Yes,” he said with nod. “But be thankful that’s all. If it’d been left up to your mother, you be pulling kitchen duty and you wouldn’t have any holodeck privileges for the next month.” Dani grimaced at the thought of that. Chakotay smiled and left the room.
“So, how’d it go?” Kathryn asked. She was sitting on the couch, drinking her coffee and reading a PADD.
Chakotay sat down at the desk and picked up a PADD. “Fine,” he said. “I think we’ve worked everything out.” Kathryn looked at Chakotay. He was already working.
“Really?” Kathryn asked. “Well, that’s a relief.” She went back to reading her PADD.
“Oh, by the way, we’re having dinner tonight,” Chakotay said. He glanced up at Kathryn. She was already looking at him. “As a family,” he added.
“Oh, really?” Kathryn asked, placing the PADD on the coffee table. Chakotay glanced up at her long enough to nod.
“Yeah. I thought it would be a good idea if we spent some quality time together,” Chakotay said. “So did she.”
Kathryn got up and walked over to the desk, coffee still in hand.
“She did?” Kathryn asked.
Chakotay looked up at Kathryn.
“Yes,” he said. He watched as Kathryn took a sip of the coffee. “Is anything wrong, Kathryn?” She raised her eyebrows at him.
“No,” she said. He didn’t believe her. A smile formed on his face.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid to have dinner with your own daughter,” Chakotay said. “You negotiate treaties with alien races.”
Kathryn looked down at Chakotay. ‘He’s right,’ she thought. ‘This won’t be so bad.’ She turned away from him and started to walk back to the couch. She picked the PADD up off the coffee table and started to study it again.
“So what’s Neelix cooking?” Kathryn asked, about to sit down. She started to, but she stopped when she heard Chakotay’s reply.
“Nothing,” he said. “You are.”
Kathryn looked at Chakotay’s smiling face and smiled herself. “You have got to be kidding.” The dimples that accompanied Chakotay’s smile deepened. Kathryn’s smile faded completely. “You’re not,” she said flatly. Chakotay shook his head ‘no’.