A Love Less Ordinary – Chapter 1

Story #4 in the “More Than a Lifetime” series

Author’s Note: This story is the fourth in a series of stories that do not follow cannon and should not be taken as such. The previous stories, in order, are: 1) Delta Wild, 2) Homecoming, and 3) Graduation. The events in these stories occur in an alternate universe in which Chakotay’s stint with the Maquis happened much earlier in his life. He is married to Kathryn Janeway, and they have a daughter. In this universe, Voyager did not combine with a crew from a Maquis ship, but instead reached the Delta Quadrant with a small loss of life and most of her crew in tact. The events of “First Contact” and “Insurrection” have already occurred in this timeline, but “Nemesis” has not. The Dominion War occurred, but with vastly different results. Many of the events of the final season of Deep Space Nine didn’t occur, which means the characters that died during the season are not dead in my story.

/\

Ensign Danielle Janeway turned around in her seat at the table. Someone was watching her again, and she knew who it was.

She didn’t know how much more of this she could take. Since her first day on Deep Space Nine a little, over a month ago, Dani had noticed that he’d been following her. At least it seemed that way. It seemed that every time she looked up, he was there, watching her. She knew she was probably exaggerating the whole situation in her mind, but it was odd how a man who didn’t really have a visible purpose on the station could appear to be everywhere all the time. The whole situation put her somewhat ill at ease because the man watching her was none other than Dukat. Dukat, the former Prefect of Bajor. Dukat, Captain Benjamin Sisko’s arch rival. Dukat, the egomanicac. She could go on. This man had once been one of the most powerful men on Cardassia. He had also been responsible for some of the most atrocious acts during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. From what Dani had heard, he was one of the most charming people one could ever meet, but he was also one of the most dangerous. It was a deadly combination.

What did he want with Dani? Part of her welcomed the train of thought quickly ensuing. It would give her the opportunity she’d been looking for to take her mind off Will. The fight they’d had was horrible. Dani and Will had both said things that were harsh. Those harsh words, Dani thought, were enough to put a large dent in their relationship. They’d separated after the argument.

Tora Ziyal sat down accross from Dani at the replimat, and rescued the Starfleet ensign from her thoughts.

“Well, hello,” Ziyal said, joining the 24-year-old human for lunch.

“Hello, Ziyal,” Dani greeted. She’d met the half-Bajoran, half-Cardassian young woman her first day on the station, and they’d become fast friends after that initial meeting.

Ziyal immediately noticed that her usually chipper Starfleet buddy was now somewhat sullen. “What’s the matter?” she asked Dani.

Dani pasted a smile on her face. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Ziyal asked skeptically. “Then why haven’t you touched your food?”

“It’s still hot,” Dani said.

“It’s Terran chilli,” Ziyal observed. “It’s supposed to be hot.”

Dani put her fork down and gave up the act. “Things aren’t going exactly as I thought they would a few years ago,” she admitted. “And now, I think it’s finally starting to sink in.”

“How so?” Ziyal asked.

“Well, for one thing, I expected to be posted on a starship, not a station.”

“Space stations need just as many good officers as any starship. Probably more.”

Dani considered this for a moment before continuing. “I guess you’re right about that,” she said. “But I also expected to be making wedding plans by now.”

“Oh. I see.” Ziyal understood perfectly what Dani was talking about. Dani had told the older woman all about her failed relationship with Will Riker. Only then, Dani had appeared to be very nonchalant and matter-of- factly about it. Now, she appeared just the opposite. Ziyal was for the first time beginning to see how deeply this all had affected her friend.

“I don’t even know how it all happened, Ziyal,” Dani was saying. “I always thought we were so secure in our relationship. It happened so fast.”

“I know it’s difficult to accept, Dani, but maybe it just isn’t meant to be for you two,” Ziyal comforted. “If it is meant, you’ll find your way back to each other. If not, you’ll find someone else.”

“That’s what I have to keep telling myself.” Dani reflected for a few moments. “It all makes me think, though, that my parents were right. They said it wouldn’t last. We tried so hard to prove them wrong, but in the end, we couldn’t.”

“Well, if you were only together to prove a point-”

“I know. We were gonna be doomed anyway. But that’s not what it was about. I loved him.”

Ziyal waited for Dani to continue. When that didn’t happen, Ziyal spoke for her.

“And he loved you,” she said.

“No,” Dani disagreed. “I’m not sure if he did. He said it, but I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure if he actually did. Not after the things he said.” Dani was lost in thought. “My parents were right. We were doomed from the beginning. It kinda makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.”

At this proclamation, Ziyal had to say something. “The very worst thing you can do is begin to doubt yourself,” she said. “You’ve just got to go with what you believe is right. When I started seeing Garak, there were a lot of people who didn’t approve, most notably my father. But Garak and I did what we thought to be right, and we’ve come out okay.”

“Did someone mention me?”

Dani looked up to see Dukat, her supposed stalker, walking towards her and Ziyal’s table. His eyes were trained directly on Dani. To her surprise, Ziyal stood, as if she were preparing to greet the man.

“Father,” Ziyal said.

She was addressing him, Dani realized. She stood.

Dukat broke his gaze with Dani and looked at Ziyal, his daughter.

“Ziyal,” Dukat said, as he kissed his daughter on the cheek. “All is well today, I trust.”

“Of course, Father,” Ziyal replied. “Father, I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine. This is Ensign Dani Janeway. Dani, this is my father- Dukat.”

Dani felt herself grow pale. She looked at Ziyal, who was beaming, and back at the snake-like Dukat. She couldn’t believe they were even related, much less father and daughter. This man, who’d caused the immediate suffering of millions of Bajorans, had fathered a half-Bajoran child? This had to be an interesting story.

Dukat extended his hand to Dani. She looked at it before cautiously taking it.

“Dani,” Dukat began, “That’s an interesting name.”

“It’s short for Danielle,” Dani explained.

“Ah. Why do you shorten it like that?” Dukat asked.

“I don’t know. My parents always called me by it, and it just stuck, I guess.”

“Which do you prefer?”

Dani noticed that Dukat hadn’t let go of her hand, yet. “I haven’t really given it much thought,” Dani said in reply to Dukat’s question. He let go of her hand, but his steel blue eyes held a steel-tight grip on her.

“Father, Ensign Janeway was just assigned to the station last month,” Ziyal put in, not noticing the interplay between her father and her friend.

“Oh?” Dukat asked. “How long will you be staying?”

“I don’t know,” Dani said. “Until Command tells me otherwise.”

“Ah, the uncertainties of military life…Well, I would love to stay and have lunch with you ladies, but I have an appointment with the good doctor.”

Ziyal immediately became worried at the mention of the doctor. “The doctor? Father, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing, my dear. I just decided to get a little check-up. That’s all,” Dukat assured Ziyal. He kissed her goodbye. His gaze wondered back to Dani before he left. Dani looked at Ziyal. Ziyal spoke before Dani could utter a word.

“Something tells me you didn’t know my father was Dukat,” she said.

“Something tells you right,” Dani said.

“Sorry about that,” Ziyal apologized. “Honestly, I forget who he is. To me, he’s just ‘Father.'”

The two women reclaimed their seats.

“I bet I know what else you’re thinking,” Ziyal said. Dani watched her expectantly. “How can I love someone with a background like his?”

“The thought has crossed my mind,” Dani admitted.

“This is how I look at it: I know he’s done a lot of things. Bad things. But all I can do is hope that he’s telling me the truth when he tells me he’s sorry for what he did. I have to judge on his actions at present because that’s what matters.”

“You’re wise,” Dani said. “Not many people can do that.”

“I’ve been through a lot,” Ziyal said. “I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes, things aren’t always so clearly black or white.”

Considering Ziyal’s words, Dani, for the first time, ate a forkful of her chilli. Maybe things weren’t always so clearly cut, but there was no mistaking Dukat. He was evil. Maybe Ziyal could love him, but nobody else did, that was for sure. The man had caused so many people so much pain. If it weren’t for Ziyal, she wouldn’t mind seeing the man’s head on a stick.

Dani looked down at her chilli. After that first bite, she’d realized that it was actually quite good. She scooped up some more on her fork and brought it to her mouth.

“I see you’ve regained your appetite,” Ziyal said, observing Dani as she ate her lunch.

“Yeah,” Dani said after swallowing. “I’ve still got the rest of my shift in ops to finish, and I’m probably not going to get another chance at food until dinner, so, you know…I should eat while I can.”

“Wonderful,” Ziyal said cheerfully. She was glad to see that Dani wouldn’t be starving herself anytime soon. Perhaps her friend would get over her past relationship with little incident and be okay after all. She rose. “I hate to leave you to dine by yourself, but I promised to meet Garak in 15 minutes.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Dani said with smile. “Go on. I’ll be okay.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. Go ahead.”

Ziyal smiled before leaving. As Dani watched her go, something crossed her mind. Garak, had once been a spy, hadn’t he? He’d done horrible things to people and was an excellent interrogator, she’d heard, often resorting to very…effective means of information extraction. Why did it appear that he was so forgivable while Dukat wasn’t, Dani wondered. While Dani had noticed that not everyone fully trusted the tailor, it was apparent that the majority of people would rather deal with him that with the former Cardassian leader.

On another note, Dani thought rising from her seat, Ziyal was surrounded by shady figures. Her father, her boyfriend…Dani supposed the old saying rang true in her case – women really were attracted to men who were like their fathers. With that thought, it became clear to Dani how Ziyal could love her father after all that he’d done. If she could fall in love with Garak and forgive him of all that he’d done in the past, she could just as readily forgive her father.

Walking over to the recycler, Dani shook her head. She didn’t think she could ever forgive someone’s faults that easily when the faults were as objectionable as those of Garak and Dukat’s. Dani pushed the thoughts to the side as she prepared to return to her post in Ops.

That night, Dani tossed and turned in her sleep. If you could actually call it sleep. She’d been having a restless night dreaming of Will. In the dream, she’d relived the fight they’d had, only in the dream, they’d made up and reconciled. The last thing she remembered of the dream was his strong embrace and gentle kiss. When she’d woken up and realized that it wasn’t real, she’d cried.

Dani sat up in bed, leaning against the head board. There was no way she was going back to sleep now. She was afraid that her mind might betray her again by forming another dream like the one she’d just experienced. She couldn’t go through that again.

She looked over at the chronometer at her bedside. It was 0215 hours, but that fact didn’t convince Dani that sleep was what she most needed right now. No longer tired or sleepy, she got out of bed and got dressed.

Fifteen minutes later, dressed in work-out attire, Dani walked into the station’s gym. Not surprisingly, it was deserted, but it was all for the better, in Dani’s opinion. She looked around at all the equipment and wondered what would best suit her needs. She needed something that would help her expend a lot of energy. Her eyes immediately travelled over to the row of treadmills. No, she didn’t feel much like a run. Besides, she’d always found the activity to be boring. She much more preferred the stationary bike. But she discovered that she didn’t really want to do that either.

Dani scanned the room again and her gaze fell on the punching bag in the corner. As she began to walk over to it, the appeal of the activity began to increase. She just needed to take out her frustration on something, anything. What was more perfect than a punching bag?

She picked up one of the pairs of accompanying boxing gloves and slipped them on, fastening them and making sure they were the right fit. They were comfortably snug. For a few minutes, she merely looked at the black bag hanging before her. She’d never boxed before in her life, so she wasn’t quite sure of what kind of technique she was supposed to be using. She tentatively punched at the bag one time. It gave way a little and swung slightly. Maybe there really wasn’t that much technique involved, Dani reconsidered.

Dani held both of her hands up in a boxing stance and began to bouncily shift from foot to foot. She punched at the bag a few times, these hits a little harder than her initial test blow. As she began to punch more and more, her mind found its way back to Will, no matter how she tried to fight it. Dani gave it up, and let her thoughts roam freely over their failed relationship.

None of it made any sense to Dani. How could they have spent four years together, loving each other so vigorously and then let it all crumble in a matter of minutes after a few harsh words? How?

Punch, punch

Jab Had they really only been together to prove her parents wrong? Jab If that had been the case, it certainly all made sense how everything could crumble so seemingly easily. But four years? It didn’t seem plausible that a relationship could last that long if there had never been any real love involved in there somewhere. Punch

Well, Dani knew that hadn’t been the case, at least not on her end of it. She’d loved Will Riker. She still loved him. She just didn’t know if he really had. And that was what was so frustrating about the whole situation. Hook, punch She’d spent four whole years of her life loving this man, and what had it all been to him? Punch A mistake? Punch, punch, hook

She was really starting to work up a sweat now. Punch It didn’t seem that way, like a mistake. At least when they’d been together. Now that they were apart, yeah it felt like a mistake. Jab, jab, jab, jab A very painful mistake.

Through it all, though, Dani still couldn’t believe Will had thought she was cheating on him. She couldn’t believe that he’d been so convinced. A mistake. Punch She remembered how his words had stabbed at her, how it’d hurt so much when he’d called her young and irresponsible. He’d called her that, and in his eyes, he’d wasted four years of his life. What they’d had, what Dani had thought they’d had, meant nothing to him. She had meant nothing to him. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch At a point which she could not determine, the tears had started flowing. But she continued with her workout, regardless.

Will may not have loved her, but she’d loved him, dammit! She went full force against the punching bag, letting out a long scream of frustration. Finally spent, she exerted one last feeble punch on the bag as she let out a sob. The sob was followed by another one, and another. Before she knew it, they were coming full force. Dani held on to what little support the punching bag could provide and fell to her knees. She was in a pitiful state, on the floor on her knees, sweaty and crying like a baby. It was truly one of her worst moments. She would’ve been content to remain that way had someone not tapped on her shoulder.

“Are you alright?” a man’s voice asked her.

Dani immediately sprung to her feet, acting as if nothing was wrong, as if she hadn’t, only moments earlier, been crying on the floor like a little girl. She made sure to keep her back to the man, though.

“I’m fine,” she said quickly. She dabbed her runny nose with the back of her wrist.

“Are you sure?” the newcommer asked again with a smooth, silky voice.

Dani quickly removed the boxing gloves. “I’m fine,” Dani insisted, still refusing to look at the man who had addressed her. “I just…got a little tired, that’s all.” She didn’t even worry about replacing them on the hook from which she’d retrieved them. She simply threw them to the ground.

“Ensign Janeway?”

‘Great,’ Dani thought. Despite her efforts to conceal her identity, this person had discovered who she was. She slowly turned around to greet this person who’d intruded on her ‘alone time,’ and her heart nearly stopped. Dukat was standing before her. She didn’t know what to say. He’d happened upon her while she was in this very vulnerable state. She hadn’t really expected, or wanted, to run into anyone at this hour, and he’d come and caught her completely off-guard. She suspected she looked a mess. Her eyes were probably puffy, her nose red, her hair stringy and wet around the edges. Then, it suddenly occurred to her – why did she all of a sudden care what she looked like in front of this man?

“I didn’t know anyone else was in here,” Dani finally said.

“I apologize,” Dukat said. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“No, I was just leaving.” Dani walked away from him, heading for the exit. She was halfway there when he called out to her again.

“Ensign?”

Dani turned to face him. He was approaching her. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked again.

Dani nodded. “Yes. I’m good.”

Dukat nodded. He cast a glance over at the punching bag and then returned his gaze once again to Dani. “You know, I’m not really in the mood for a workout right now. Would you, perhaps, like to join me in the replimat for a drink?”

Dani’s immediate instinct was to decline the Cardassian’s offer. But if she did refuse him, what would she do? Go back to her quarters and be depressed? Did she really want to go back to her bed and cry until it was time for her shift?

Of course not. She wanted to be with someone else, anyone else she realized. And right now, Dukat just happened to be that someone, since he was here now. Why not?

‘Because he’s a murderous maniac,’ she found herself thinking before she even realized it. But before she could refuse the offer, she heard herself accepting Dukat’s invitation.

“Okay,” she said.

A few minutes later, Dani and Dukat were in the empty replimat sharing a table. In front of Dukat rested a cup of red leaf tea, which he had convinced Dani to try. A cup of the same beverage also sat in front of her.

“Is it a habit of yours to engage in aerobic activity at three in the morning?” Dukat inquired.

“I could ask the same of you,” Dani said. She sipped on her tea, which she was enjoying very much. “I couldn’t sleep,” she said, answering Dukat’s question. “Now, you – do you usually work out at this time in the morning?”

“Yes,” Dukat replied.

Dani looked up from her tea at him. Was he being facetious? She watched as he took another sip of his tea and continued. “It’s very difficult for a person like me to do some things during normal waking hours. Using the gym facilities is one of them. It becomes a bit awkward when everyone is watching your every move.”

‘Pity,’ Dani thought, staring down into her tea. She didn’t feel any sympathy for Dukat, though. For all she cared, he deserved it, to be hated and ridiculed for the rest of his days.

It was when Dani looked up from her tea again that she realized, for the first time that Dukat wasn’t all that bad-looking. He was actually quite attractive – for a Cardassian. No, Dani reconsidered; Dukat was attractive for anyone. Dani internally shook the thought from her head. She did not need to be thinking about this man in that manner.

“I see you’re enjoying your tea,” Dukat said, breaking into her thoughts.

That voice, Dani thought. It was so…smooth. “Yes, it’s fine,” Dani responded. It was the first instance that day that she’d had thought such as these, but it wasn’t the first time she’d ever thought like this. In reality, it’d all begun when she’d first noticed that Dukat seemed to be everywhere and she’d entertained the notion that he might be stalking her. Dukat was a handsome man. That wasn’t in question. And there was something mysterious about him which was appealing and drew people to him – well, most people. There were quite a few people, Dani knew, who were absolutely repelled by the man. Colonel Kira Nerys was one of them. It hadn’t taken Dani long to realize that the Bajoran absolutely hated Dukat’s guts. And Dani couldn’t blame the woman. As a young girl, Kira had been on Bajor during the Cardassians’ occupation of the planet. Back then, Dukat had been running the show on Bajor and on the station. She’d learned all this from conversations with Ziyal over the past month.

“It’s a very delightful beverage,” Dukat said. “I usually drink it at the start of my day. I find it gives me a little boost to get my day going.”

“What exactly is it you do with your day, Dukat?” Dani asked rather boldly.

“Plenty of things, Ensign,” Dukat replied.

“Like what?” Dani pressed. She wanted details. For some reason, Dukat seemed like he was hiding something. But, then again, maybe he always seemed like he was hiding something. She really couldn’t tell if he was always ambiguous or if he was really trying to keep something secret. Maybe the fact was that he always had secrets to keep. Not knowing the real deal was the scary part.

Dukat regarded Dani briefly before answering. “As you know, I have a freighter ship that I must see to,” he explained. “Much of my time is devoted to that.”

Dani nodded. “Um-hmm…and the rest of your time?”

“The rest of my time, Ensign, is spent carrying out the daily tasks that most find it necessary to complete for a happy, healthy existence – exercise, doctor’s appointments, good meals. I’m actually quite a normal person.”

Dani smiled skeptically. “For some reason, I find it difficult to associate normal with you.”

Dukat laughed a little. “Most people do have that problem, I find,” Dukat said. “But most people, I also find, don’t give me the opportunity to prove to them that I really am not much different from them.”

Dani studied Dukat’s expression. He had a slight smile, but his eyes were serious. There was a challenge behind those blue eyes. What was it, exactly, that he wanted her to do? “How would you prove yourself?”

“By inviting you to come to my quarters to see how a normal person like me lives,” was Dukat’s answer.

“And how would I know that you wouldn’t have fixed up your quarters to look normal for my prospective visit?” Dani inquired.

Dukat coolly took another sip of his tea before answering. “Well, why don’t we go right now? I had no idea I would even run into you this morning, so there is no way I could have arranged my room in any way before- hand in anticipation of your visit.”

Dukat’s proposal caught Dani by surprise. She took a sip of her tea and examined the situation. It was 0330 hours, and Dukat, a known murderer and traitor, had just invited her to his quarters, where they would be alone and somewhat isolated. He would be able to do anything he wanted to her there. He could if he wanted to…but would he want to?

This was driving her crazy, this not being able to tell if Dukat was telling the truth or not. Dani decided to take a logical approach to the situation. What could Dukat do to her in his quarters that he couldn’t do to her here in the replimat at 0330 hours, when it was almost completely deserted. Almost, Dani realized, was the pivotal word, here. What ‘almost’ covered in the replimat and other public places wasn’t covered in the privacy of Dukat’s quarters. Despite the hour, a few people did trickle in and out of the replimat. People did not trickle in and out of Dukat’s quarters. That was what was so risky about going to this man’s quarters. She looked across at Dukat. This was some kind of a test or game of some sort.

The logic card finally came through as Dani thought of something. If Dukat had wanted to do something to her, he’d had the perfect opportunity when they’d been alone together in the gymnasium. Chances were, she concluded, Dukat really was sincere in his desire to show her his quarters. Yeah, Dani thought, he was sincere now, but was he only doing so to gain her trust so that she could become some kind of pawn for him later on.

This was all giving Dani a headache. Frankly, at this point, she didn’t care about what Dukat planned to do in the future. What really mattered was that right now, Dukat was telling the truth as far as she could tell. Apparently, that was enough for Dani.

But Dukat had already reached a conclusion on Dani’s decision. “You don’t want to come to see my quarters,” he surmised. “That’s quite alright. You don’t have to humor me by pretending to contemplate your decision.”

“I’m afraid you’ve reached the wrong conclusion,” Dani informed him. “I’ve decided to take you up on your offer. I will be coming to your quarters.” She was a little disappointed when the look of surprise she was expecting to see on Dukat’s handsome face never registered. She quickly dismissed it, though, and stood.

“Very well,” Dukat said, standing.

Ten minutes later, Dani stepped into Dukat’s quarters. Surprisingly enough, the place actually was pretty normal. She looked around the living area. An ordinary-looking sofa set sat a few feet away, and the art that adorned the walls and tables was average at best.

“Quite boring, I’m sure you’ll find, as I told you,” Dukat chimed.

Dani whirled around to face him and was shocked that the first thought that entered her mind was what a beautiful man he was. He had piercing blue eyes, and the ridges that bordered them were elegant and perfectly formed. He was tall, perhaps six feet, with a slim, lean, muscular build. There was something aristocratic, almost regal, about him that Dani found incredibly alluring.

“Ordinary and normal, yes,” Dani said of Dukat’s quarters. “Boring, no.”

Dukat approached her with an arrogant swagger that was truly his own. “Why is that?” he asked her. Instead of replying right then, Dani stepped around Dukat so that she was no longer facing him. She’d just had the overwhelming urge to kiss Dukat, and she’d had to move away, quickly, before she did something she regretted. What was this? Why was she getting thse thoughts, these urges? The worst part of it all was that she couldn’t even control what her mind was thinking. She proved that point when she caught herself fantasizing about her hands moving over Dukat’s firm torso.

Dani gave herself a mental shake. Why? Dani knew this was a rebound, from Will. That’s why she was thinking like this. She was presented with a perfect scenario to restore her confidence. Will had probably already rediscovered that confidence in the arms of Counselor Troi, Dani thought bitterly. Could she possibly find that in the arms of the man standing in this room with her? Could she simply sleep with him without a relationship? Could she do that? She’d never in a million years believed she would ever even contemplate doing something such as that. But now, here she was, presented with just that option. She unexpectedly turned and faced him.

Should she give in? She wanted to, so very much. And why shouldn’t she? What regrets could she possibly have? Not many, she concluded, if any at all. It would be one night, no strings attached.

“I have a question,” Dani began.

“By all means, ask,” Dukat instructed.

“When I first arrived on the station, it seemed like you were following me,” Dani said. “Were you?”

“Why does it matter?” Dukat asked.

“Because I want to know,” Dani said.

So resiliant, Dukat thought. “If you must know, Ensign, we happen to share similar daily schedules in that we both visit many of the same places near the same times,” he explained.

“Were you watching me, then?” Dani persisted.

“That, I must say, I’m guilty of,” Dukat admitted freely. “But, if I’m not mistaken, it isn’t all that unusual for a man to stare beautiful woman, is it?”

Dani studied Dukat. Flattery would get him everywhere tonight. He wanted it, she could tell. Not that Dani was being overly-confident or anything. She knew she wasn’t the most beautiful thing to ever walk through Dukat’s doors, but with a man as virile as he, the odds were pretty low, near non- existent, that he would object or decline. So, without further delay or any warning, Dani stepped to Dukat, wrapped her arms about his neck, and kissed him deeply. He didn’t pull back a bit or seem the least bit surprised. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer.

Three hours later, Dani awoke in Dukat’s arms. She glanced over at the chronometer on Dukat’s nightstand. 0715 hours. She had to be in Ops at 0800 hours. She looked up at Dukat. He was still sleeping soundly. Dani began to work her way out of Dukat’s arms. She knew it would probably wake him, but she didn’t know any other method of getting away. As expected, Dukat stirred and squinted through his sleepiness and the dark at Dani, as she rose from the bed and began to pull on the various articles of her clothing that had been discarded around the room.

In a few moments she was fully dressed.

“You’re leaving me so soon,” Dukat said.

Dani turned and looked at him. He was reclining on the bed, propped up on one of his elbows, and looking sexy as hell. “I have to be in Ops at eight,” she told him.

Dukat nodded. “I hope this won’t be the last time we’ll be seeing each other,” he said, as if granting her permission to leave.

Dani knew that it had to be the last time. This was a fling. One night only. She couldn’t afford any additional encounters. She simply nodded vaguely before turning and walking out of Dukat’s bedroom and quarters.

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