Homecoming – Chapter 4

Dani entered the security code to the apartment. The doors slid open. “Come on in,” she said, stepping inside.

“Are you sure your parents won’t mind?” Will asked.

“They won’t,” Dani replied. “How can they when they’re not here?” Will gave her a wary look. “They’re at Headquarters,” she assured him.

Will was still standing right outside the door. “Come in,” Dani urged. Will cautiously stepped into the living room. The apartment doors slid shut behind him. “Have a seat.”

Will sat on the sofa as Dani walked into the kitchen. It was a bright, pleasant Saturday afternoon. Dani had just finished beating Will in an invigorating 3-set match at the Academy courts that morning. They were now at the apartment Dani and her family had been provided with for the duration of Starfleet’s briefings of Voyager’s mission. It was anyone’s guess how long the entire ordeal would take.

“This is a nice place,” Will said.

“Thanks,” Dani said walking into the kitchen. “It’s not exactly home, but I guess I can’t complain. It’s not a starship in the Delta Quadrant, either. Would you like something to drink?”

“No, thanks,” Will replied.

“I’m surprised,” Dani said. She ordered a glass of ice water from the replicator and watched the clear beverage materialize. Once it had, she picked it up and joined Will in the living room. “With the way I had you running all over that court, I would have thought that you’d be dying of thirst.”

Will smiled. “Yes, I’ve got to give it to you – you were better than I anticipated. Let’s just say I softened my game a bit.”

“Softened your game?”

“I had to. It was an unfair match. You against me? I have a physical advantage over you,” Will explained.

“Is that so?”

Will nodded.

“So, I guess that’s an invite for a rematch?”

“If you say so.”

Dani sipped her water. “We’ll see,” she said.

The apartment doors slid open, and Kathryn and Chakotay entered. They stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Will Riker sitting in the living room.

“Well, hello,” Kathryn said. Dani and Will both looked at the new arrivals.

Will stood. So did Dani. “Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay,” he said. “Your daughter just finished beating me two sets to one in tennis.”

“Will insists that he let up on me because he has an unfair physical advantage,” Dani said. She was on her way to the kitchen to dispose of her empty glass. “I think that’s just a bunch of hogwash. I’ve played against guys your size and larger.”

“Mere holodeck creations,” Will said.

“Images of tennis greats,” Dani said returning to the living room.

“Images that you can alter to your own specifications,” Will argued playfully.

“But didn’t,” Dani countered.

Will turned to Dani’s parents. “Can you vouch for this?”

“She beats me every time,” Kathryn said. “That’s not saying much, though.”

“We’ll see,” Will said. “I trust the briefings are going well.”

“You could say that. I’d really like to be done with this whole mess.”

“I know what you mean. After the Enterprise-D crashed, I didn’t think the briefings would ever end.”

“Well, I get the feeling that the board won’t need us for very much longer. At least I hope.”

Will noticed that Chakotay was being awfully quiet. He didn’t look particularly mad. To tell the truth, he didn’t look particularly anything. He didn’t have any distinct expression. ‘Maybe that’s a good thing,’ Will thought. “It’ll be over with before you know it,” he said. “I hate to run, but I’m supposed to meet Captain Picard for lunch.”

“Oh, yes,” Kathryn said. “I know how Jean-Luc hates to be kept waiting.”

“We’ll see about that tennis rematch,” Will said to Dani as he walked to the door.

“All I know is that you’d better not let up on me when we play again,” Dani said. “If you give it your all next time, you might not lose so horribly.”

Will smiled at Dani. He looked at Janeway and Chakotay. “Captain, Commander.”

“Goodbye, Commander,” Kathryn said, as Will left the apartment. As soon as the doors shut behind Will, Dani found two pairs of eyes on her.

“What?” Dani asked.

“You’ve been spending a lot of time with the commander,” said Chakotay, speaking up for the first time.

“We’re just catching up,” Dani said. “We’ve missed seven years’ worth of joking around.

“Dani, Commander Riker is a very busy man,” Chakotay continued.

“Maybe, but he’s the one who invited me to go play tennis,” Dani said. “And he’s the one who invited me to have dinner with him tomorrow night.”

“Dinner?” Kathryn and Chakotay exclaimed, moreso than asked, in unison.

“Yeah,” Dani said slowly. “You know – it’s the meal you usually eat at night.”

Both parents ignored this jibe. Kathryn took a step towards Dani. “Dani, tomorrow, your father and I were hoping that we could have dinner as a family. We were finally going to be free of the briefings, and we figured it’d be perfect timing for meal together.”

“Oh. Mom, if I’d known before I made the commitment…” An idea hit Dani. “I’ll tell you what – I’ll invite Will, and we can all have dinner.” She saw her parents exchange glances. “That won’t be a problem, will it?”

“No,” Kathryn said. “Not at all.”

Dani beamed. “Great! I’ll call Will, and let him know about the change in plans.” She left for her room.

Chakotay looked at his wife. “Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” he asked.

“Why would it be wrong?” Kathryn questioned.

“It just seems as if we’re encouraging this relationship,” Chakotay replied.

“Is there a blatant reason why we shouldn’t be?”

Chakotay didn’t have an answer for his wife. For some reason, this developing relationship between his daughter and the Enterprise’s first officer didn’t sit well with him.

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