A Love Less Ordinary – Chapter 2

A week later, Dani was in Quark’s, and she was miserable. Ever since that fateful morning that she’d run into Dukat, and they’d had their encounter, Dani had been distracted, moody, and irritable. And her work had suffered for it, too. She’d been making mistakes, and she’d been called on it on more than one occassion by superior officers. For a few days, she’d tried to deny why she was in this state. Then, she’d given up and had finally admitted it to herself – Dukat had made her this way.

Dani didn’t know why she’d let her libido and her ego convince her head that what happened between her and Dukat would just be a one-night stand, and that would be the end of it. As Dani was finding, that’s not the way it was playing out. She couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t get the man out of her head. She also hadn’t seen him in the past week. She didn’t know if that was a good thing or bad. Would it be better to see him? Or would that drive her even crazier than now? She really needed to talk to someone.

As if answering a bell or summons, Ensign Jenna Madsen sat down across from Dani. “Hello,” she said in her usual chipper manner.

“Hi,” Dani said sullenly.

Jenna immediately picked up on her friend’s dull sour mood. It seemed to her that Dani hadn’t been acting like her usual self over the past week. Or maybe this was her usual self. After all, they had only just met a little over a month before, when Dani first arrived onboard Deep Space Nine. Then again, Jenna reconsidered, maybe something really was wrong. “What’s the matter?” Jenna asked. “You look like hell.”

“That’s because I feel like hell,” Dani replied.

“What’s wrong? You’ve been acting weird this whole week.”

Dani looked around Quark’s Bar. She’d found that she’d grown increasingly paranoid, always checking over her shoulder for any signs of Dukat. “I’ve got something to tell you,” she began. She’d made the decision that she needed to tell someone else about what had happened between her and Dukat. Doing so probably wouldn’t solve anything, but it stood the chance of making her feel just a little bit better, at least.

“What?” Jenna asked.

Dani hesitated a bit before going on. “Last week, I slept with Dukat.”

Jenna’s eyes grew huge. “You what?!”

“I…slept with Dukat,” Dani repeated.

“Dani – how could you?!” Jenna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Dani and Dukat? She began to eat her tuna casserole as Dani began her story.

Dani began to explain. “It was a one night only sort of thing. Well, it was supposed to be. I had been having some bad dreams about Will, and I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went to the gym to work out. Dukat ran into me there. We went to the replimat for tea, he invited me back to his quarters, and we just…it just happened.” Dani studied her friend for a reaction. “He didn’t force me or anything. It was completely consensual. Actually, I liked it. I really liked it.”

“Well,” Jenna said, “if you liked it so much, I would think that you’d be quite happy right now. What’s the problem?” She didn’t at all sound enthusiastic about the situation. Dani couldn’t blame her.

“Well, the problem is that I convinced myself of something that wasn’t true,” Dani said.

“Which was?”

“I told myself that I could have this one-night stand with Dukat and be completely detached emotionally. I could do it, and when it was over, it’d be over. I’d be through. But the truth of it is I haven’t been able to get the man out of my mind since our…encounter,” Dani explained.

Jenna’s green eyes rose from her half-eaten casserole to Dani’s brown eyes. “Need I remind you of who this man is, what this man has done?”

“No, I’m well aware of it all. Believe me,” Dani assured her.

“Look, this is probably still apart of your rebound phase. You’ll get over it. Just don’t do anything stupid, like agree to see Dukat again or anything, and you’ll be fine.”

Dani nodded. “Right.”

“Snap out of it,” Jenna urged. “This is absurd. You don’t want to spend anymore time with Dukat.”

“I know.” Dani looked at her friend. “You’re right. You’re right. This’ll blow over.”

“Of course it will.” Jenna stood. “I’ve got to get back to Engineering. Chief O’Brien wants some diagnostics run, and it’s my ass if I don’t get them done on time. I’ll see you later. Remember…”

“I will,” Dani said. “No Dukat.” She watched Jenna leave the bar.

Marac Dukat walked out of one of Quark’s holosuites and almost ran back in again when he saw that Ensign Danielle Janeway occupied a table in the bar. He was surprised to find that she was still having lunch. She was usually done by now. Not that he was stalking her. It was quite the opposite. He’d been trying to avoid her. He’d taken to dining in either the holosuites or his quarters and tried to avoid any places he knew she frequented.

This was crazy! He was running away from a 24-year-old Terran female like a nervous schoolboy. Well, a person could only run and hide for so long, he concluded. He looked across at her, and all he could think of was that one night they’d shared. That one night of passion. He remembered the way her red hot skin had felt against his, how soft her touch had been, what a beautiful body she’d had.

Dukat leaned back against the wall, further obscuring himself from Dani’s possible line of sight. Great Guls, his body ached for her again! And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it – or was there? He could just ask, couldn’t he? Ask to see her again. Just walk up to her and ask for one more night.

Dukat looked at her again. She was a beautiful woman, and she’d certainly gotten under his skin, hadn’t she? He stood up tall, and started to swagger across the room to her.

Dani didn’t even see him walk up. He seemed to come from out of nowhere.

“Ensign, could I have a moment, please?”

Dani looked up and there he was, standing beside her table. He was dressed in civvies. Come to think of it, Dani realized that every time she’d seen him on the station, he’d been dressed in civilian clothing. She’d never seen him in his military uniform.

Dani stood. “Actually, I’ve got to be heading back to Ops,” she said. She walked away from the table, headed for the exit. She was dismayed to find that Dukat followed her.

“Ensign,” Dukat said, following Dani out onto the Promenade. “Ensign Janeway.”

Dani kept walking. ‘Don’t stop,’ she coached herself. ‘Don’t stop walking.’

“Ensign, I assure you, I’ll take only a moment of your time,” Dukat said, walking with Dani.

Dani kept walking just the same, but from the looks of it, Dukat was going to stay with her. He would probably follow her all the way to Ops if he had to. Maybe if she stopped and heard what he had to say now, that would be the end of it, and she wouldn’t ever have to talk to this man again.

“Ensign Janeway,” Dukat said, more firmly this time. Finally, Dani stopped walking and acknowledged him by looking at him. He gestured to the small, intimate restaurant in front of which they’d conveniently paused. Dani sighed, highly annoyed, and walked in, Dukat at her heels. He pulled out a chair for her at one of the small tables. Dani obediently sat. Dukat stepped around and claimed the other seat.

“I’m going to get straight to the point, Ensign,” Dukat began. A waiter approached their table, and Dukat quickly waved him away. To Dani, he said, “We should stop all this nonsense, this avoiding each other like some dreaded disease. I refuse to live my life aboard the station like this, always being afraid of running into you. If you’re anything like me, you probably feel the same way.”

Dani grimmaced mentally. She hated the idea of having anything in common with the man sitting across the table from her. But, she reluctantly admitted to herself, he was right – she did hate living in fear.

“What do you suggest, then?” Dani asked.

“Why are we fighting this, Ensign? We both know what we both want, so why do we not just give in?” Dukat proposed.

Dani shook her head and looked off to the side. She wasn’t doing this again. She’d made a promise to Jenna, a promise to herself, …

“We did it before, Ensign,” Dukat reminded her. “Surely one more time couldn’t hurt.”

“That isn’t the type of relationship I want,” Dani said. She rose from her seat. “If you’ll excuse me.” She walked away from the table.

Dukat immediately rose and followed her. “Ensign Janeway – wait!” He caught her by the elbow. She turned and looked up at him. “Wait,” he said.

“I refuse to be some sex kitten who’s used for your pleasure,” Dani stated.

“I apologize,” Dukat said. “I did not mean to make you feel objectified. I merely thought it might be a way for each of us to reach a state of mutual satisfaction in our situations.”

“I’m not interested,” Dani said. She turned to walk away, but Dukat still had her arm, so she turn and looked back up at him.

“Perhaps I’m going about this all wrong,” Dukat said. “Perhaps the best way for us to overcome our anxiety about each other is to become cordial with one another.”

Cordial? Dani didn’t even want to be in the same room with this man. She certainly didn’t want to be friends with him. She had to admit – again – that he may be right. Earlier, they’d just jumped in the sack after a short cup of tea. Perhaps if they worked at having some sort of semblance of a normal relationship, they would come to see each other in ways besides the super-sexual light in which they were both seeing each other currently.

“Dinner,” Dukat said. He quickly scanned the establishment they were currently standing in. “Here.”

Dani shook her head and looked down at the floor. She couldn’t believe she was doing this.

“Not a date; just dinner,” Dukat said, assuring her.

Dani looked up into Dukat’s blue eyes. “Okay.”

“Wonderful. I’ll pick you up at 1900 hours.”

This was beginning to sound an awful lot like a date to Dani. “Fine,” she said. She hurried out of the restaurant. ‘So much for promises,’ she thought as she headed back to Ops.

Dani passed her tricorder over the open conduit. Everything was as it should be. It was about time. After her station had gone blank, she’d gotten right to work on fixing it. That’d been thirty minutes ago. Everything was fine, now. Dani snapped the tricorder shut.

“Kira and I are going to Quark’s after duty,” said Lt. Jadzia Dax, the Trill crouched beside Dani in front of the conduit. She’d helped Dani repair the damage to her station. Lucky thing, too. If it hadn’t been for Dax, it could’ve taken Dani close to an hour to fix the station. “You’re welcome to come along if you want,” Dax said, extending an invitation to the younger woman.

“Thanks, Lieutenant,” Dani said, “But I can’t. I have…plans.” She stood and activated her console, still refusing to think of her plans with Dukat as a date, even though, in all reality, that’s what it was.

Colonel Kira Nerys, Deep Space Nine’s first officer, strode up to the two women. “How’s the work coming?” the Bajoran asked, inquiring about the progress of the work on the station.

“We’re all done,” Dax said, handing a PADD of to Kira.

“Great,” Kira said studying the contents of the PADD. “With just enough time for me to include it in my report to the captain.” Once she applied her thumbprint signature to the PADD, she looked at Dax and then at Dani. “Say, Janeway, a few of us are getting together at Quarks after our shift is over. We’d love to have you join us.”

“I already asked her,” Dax informed Kira. The colonel looked at Dax. “She has a date.”

“Oh, I see,” Kira said.

“It’s just dinner, Colonel,” Dani said, suddenly becoming very interested in the information on the console in front of her.

“Uh-huh…so, who’s the lucky guy?” Kira asked.

Dani cast a nervous glance at Kira before turning her attention back to her duty station. She knew Kira would not like the word that was about to come out of her mouth next. “Dukat,” Dani replied matter-of-factly.

“What was that?” Kira looked at Dani. “It sounded like you said ‘Dukat.'” Kira laughed a little at the thought.

“I did,” Dani said, looking up from her station console at Kira before walking across to another station.

Kira let a skeptical laugh slip from between her lips. “What? Are you serious?”

“Yes, ma’am, I am,” Dani said. She looked at Kira and returned to her original station.

“You mean Dukat Dukat?” Dax asked. “As in Ziyal’s father?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Dani studied the readout on her console.

“We are talking about the same guy, here. Big Cardassian guy?” Kira pursued. “Cocky as hell?”

Dani nodded and laughed Kira’s accurate description of him. “That’s him.”

Kira and Dax exchanged nervous glances. Kira stepped up to Dani.

“Are you crazy?!” Kira exclaimed. Everyone else in Ops looked at Kira, their attention gained by the raised voice.

Dani looked at Dax and then back at Kira. She understood perfectly the older woman’s sentiment. “It’s just a dinner,” she said, defending the event despite the fact that she felt very much the same as Kira.

“You know, I don’t know what young women find so irresistable about Cardassian murderers? First Ziyal and Garak; now you and Dukat.”

“Colonel, it’s not even a real date,” Dani said. More lies. “It’s more like a…getting-to-know-you dinner.”

“Ensign?” Dax said standing. Dani turned to her.

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

“That’s a date.”

“I can’t believe you want to date Dukat,” Kira continued.

“I don’t,” Dani said. Finally the truth. “I’m just curious. Can’t a person be curious?”

“About him? No!”

“Ensign,” Dax began, “we know Dukat. We know what he’s capable of. He can be a very dangerous man.”

“I know. Believe me, I do,” Dani said trying to convince them. “This isn’t something I just planned.” Dani didn’t know how much into detail she should go with this. “This isn’t exactly our first date.”

“Ensign!” Kira exclaimed, her voice rising an octave once again.

Dani continued. “Look, I really would rather not go into details and, unless either of you makes it an order, I won’t. Just take my word when I tell you that I know what I’m doing – I think.”

“He’s hurt a lot of people, Ensign,” Kira said, her tone somewhat softer. Dani looked at Kira. She understood that what the colonel was talking about hit home for the Bajoran. “We just don’t want you to become one of them.”

“Well, I thank you for your concern, but I don’t even believe that this is going that far. This is one date,” Dani reminded them. At the same time, she hoped she was right. She hoped that what she was telling Dax and Kira held true.

“That’s all it takes,” Kira shot back.

Dani had just finished brushing her hair when she heard her door chime. She looked at the chronometer on the wall. It was 1850 hours. Dukat had arrived.

Dani gave one more look at herself in the mirror before walking into the living room of her quarters. It’d been a while since she’d last worn a dress, and she had to get used to the sensation of loose material brushing against her legs. She stopped at the door and opened it. The doors slid open to reveal Dukat with an armful of red roses.

“Dukat,” Dani greeted as cordially as was possible. “You’re early.”

Dukat looked a little alarmed. “I’m sorry. I can come back-”

“No, it’s okay,” Dani assured him. “Come on in.”

Dukat stepped into Dani’s quarters.” “These are for you,” he said, offering Dani the bouquet of a dozen red roses.

“Dukat,” Dani said accepting the roses. “You didn’t have to do that.” She smelled them. “Dukat-are these…” She sniffed at them again. “Are these real?”

Dukat smiled and nodded. “Yes.”

“Well, I am thoroughly impressed,” said Dani walking over to the replicator and requested a suitable vase. As Dani watched as the vase materialized, she wondered what kind of scheme Dukat was running. He’d brought these flowers so he could obviously impress her, and it’d worked. What was he trying to do…She placed the flowers in the vase and placed the vase on the living room table.

“Perfect,” Dani said, admiring the new addition to her table. It really did brighten up the room. She turned to Dukat, who wasn’t admiring the flowers, she realized. His staring at her unsettled her. She didn’t know why when he’d seen every inch of her naked body only a week before. “Are you ready?” she asked him.

“Of course,” Dukat said. He offered his arm to Dani, as he had the day before.

“Shall we?” She accepted his arm and immediately noticed that he had a very firm, very muscular arm.’Must be the work of the Cardassian military,’ Dani thought. ‘They sure know how to turn them out, don’t they?’ Then as if an automatic reaction to her own mind, she scolded herself for admiring Dukat. ‘Stop it!’

“So, if you could, would you have changed anything?” Dani asked Dukat once she and he had been seated and their orders had been taken.

“Changed anything about what?” Dukat asked.

“Changed anything about your life, your career,” Dani elaborated.

Dukat blinked at her a few times. “You’re talking about the Occupation.” He looked down, slowly shaking his head. “You don’t waste any time getting straight to the point of things, do you?”

“Classic Dani,” she said.

“Did I mention that you look wonderful tonight?” Dukat asked, skirting Dani’s question.

“Thank you, Dukat, so do you.” Dani was telling the truth. Dukat was wearing a forest green shirt that matched his skin tone very well.

“Your hair is very enchanting in that style,” Dukat continued, commenting on how Dani’s dark hair fell into loose rings around her face.

“Thank you,” Dani acknowledged. “You’re avoiding the question.”

This woman was bold. And she wasn’t going to give up on this. Dukat liked that.

“Okay, Ensign,” he said, his demeanor becoming more serious. “Let’s get down to business. What would I have done differently? Well, let’s see…I would’ve improved the living conditions on the station and on the surface, for certain. I would have made sure the Bajorans were fed better. If I could, I would have made sure that my soldiers were less brutal.”

At this last proclammation, Dani laughed ruefully and looked off to the side. Then she said, “You know that if you had given the order, your men wouldn’t have laid a finger on those people.”

“I would never have given that order. You have to understand that I had to keep order some way. Telling my men they couldn’t use their own judgment when it came to the Bajorans would be condemning the whole operation,” Dukat explained.

Dani didn’t believe that for a second. There had to have been better ways handle things. She looked at Dukat. “What else would you have done differently?” Dani inquired.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Ensign, but I can’t say that I would have changed much else,” Dukat said truthfully.

“Why not?”

“I wouldn’t want to change anything that would’ve prevented my meeting Ziyal’s mother.” Dukat studied Dani for a moment. “I know you’re dying to ask, so please do.”

Dani was somewhat relieved. She and Ziyal had never discussed her family, only the fact that she was half-Bajoran and half-Cardassian. They’d never talked about the particulars, like who her parents were, how they’d met, or what her life had been like. Despite her rather blunt question earlier, she hadn’t wanted to wander into the forbidden territory of the heart. Dukat had picked up on her hesitation, and he had read her like a book.

“How did you meet her?” Dani asked.

Dukat sat back in his chair and began his tale. “Well, Ziyal’s mother- Naprem was her name-was a Bajoran, as you probably already know…”

Toward the end of the tale, Dani could see that Dukat was finding it difficult to continue. His voice had become low and hoarse, and he seemed like he was close to tears.

“I was not there for my daughter when she needed me most,” Dukat ended. “And for that, I can never forgive myself.”

“Ziyal has,” she said.

Either Dukat was a great actor, or he really did have a heart, Dani realized. Unlike that night when they’d had tea the week before, now, she was actually feeling sympathetic toward the man.

Dukat remembered where he was and quickly gathered himself. He was obviously embarrassed for letting his raw emotions become so apparent in such a public place. He cleared his throat and said, “That she has, Ensign.”

Dani looked down at her meal. Neither she nor Dukat had touched their dinners.

“Do you dance, Ensign?” Dukat asked.

Dani looked at him. The question had caught her off-guard. She looked at the musical ensemble that had taken the little stage at the front of the place not too long ago. It consisted of two Bajorans, a human, and a Bolian.

Dani looked at Dukat. “Do you?” she asked.

Dukat was on his feet before Dani even finished asking. He held out his hand to her. She took it and stood.

“I didn’t think Cardassians danced,” Dani said as Dukat led her to the little dance floor in front of the band.

He put his arm around her and said, “They don’t; but I’m the exception.” He pulled her a little closer as they started to move to the slow rhythm of the music.

Dani looked around at the other restaurant patrons. They were all looking at her and Dukat as if they were ghosts. Dani couldn’t blame them. If she saw her and Dukat dancing together, she’d probably gawk, too.

Dukat must’ve noticed her distraction, for he said, “Are you dancing with them or me?”

Dani looked up into Dukat’s eyes and, to her surprise, felt herself relax.

“Now,” Dukat said, “isn’t that much better?”

“Of course.” The words had no sooner left Dani’s mouth than she found herself in the middle of a dip. When Dukat raised her, she asked him, “Where’d you learn that?”

“It was something I picked up,” he replied.

“Impressive,” Dani said, a smile spreading across her face.

“Did you really like it?” Dukat asked. Dani nodded. “Then, tell me, Ensign, what do you think of this?” Dukat twirled Dani around and brought her back to him.

She was now closer to him than she had been before. His hands rested on her hips, and hers, on his arms.

“I think,” Dani began, “that you are a much better dancer than a lot of men I know.”

“I’m a mere amateur,” Dukat said with mock humility.

“You may have found a hidden talent, Dukat.”

“‘Dukat’ is what my enemies call me,” he informed her

“What do your friends call you?” Dani asked.

“‘Dukat,'” he said, eliciting a laugh from Dani. “But you may call me ‘Marac.'”

“‘Marac’…” Dani repeated. She’d heard that it was a real honor if a Cardassian allowed a person to refer to him or her by the first name. Dani was touched.

“You may call me Dani,” she said.

“No,” Dukat objected. Dani was surprised. He didn’t want to call her by her first name? She was a little embarrassed. Maybe she’d appeared too forward by offering Dukat the privilege of calling her by her first name. Dukat continued.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I like Danielle much better.”

Dani smiled. She was beginning to like this man. That much was certain. But could she afford to? Could she afford to let her walls down for this person?

“I really had a good time tonight,” Dani said. “Better than I had expected.”

“I, too, had an enjoyable evening,” Dukat said. The two were standing outside

Dani’s quarters, their dinner having come to an end. “I hope this won’t be the last,” he added.

This was it. This was the pivotal moment that was going to determine whether Dani was going to pursue this relationship or not. Her date with Dukat had proven that they could have a cordial relationship and hinted at the fact that they could probably be more than just friends. It was obvious to Dani that Dukat wanted to be more than just friends. But Dani just didn’t know if she could trust him completely.

“Dukat-” she began, but then remembered. “Marac, I-”

“I’m just asking for a chance to prove myself to you,” Marac said, slightly pleadingly. He watched Dani’s face as she visibly wrestled with the decision.

“Please,” he said. “A chance – that’s all I want.”

Dani looked up at him. He wasn’t really asking for more than any other man in his position would ask for. And the gamble was the same. Would he lie to her? Would he play her for a fool?

Dukat could tell that the decision was a difficult one for her and nothing he said this night would persuade her to say yes to him. “Why don’t I give you some time to think this over?” he suggested to her. “I don’t want you to feel pressured either way, and it’s obvious that is what is happening.” Dani nodded.

Dukat leaned down and kissed Dani on the cheek. “You know where to find me,” he whispered into her ear. He gave her one last look before walking away.

Dani watched after him for a few moments before turning and walking into her quarters. She stopped at the table and looked at the vase of red roses. Her comm badge, which lay beside the vase on the table, chirped, and she heard Jenna’s voice filter through. “Madsen to Janeway; come in.”

Dani picked it up and answered. “Janeway here.”

“I’ve been trying to reach you forever,” Jenna said through the comm link. “Where have you been?”

Dani swallowed. She knew Jenna wasn’t going to like the answer to that question. She looked at the chronometer on the wall. It was a little after 2100 hours. “Why don’t you come over. I’ll tell you all about it.”

Jenna Madsen appeared at Dani’s door ten minutes later. “Dani, what is going on?” Dani stepped to the side, and Jenna walked in. She stopped short and her jaw dropped to the floor when she saw the roses on Dani’s coffee table. A wide smile slowly spread across her attractive face. She turned to Dani, who was making her way from the door to the couch.

“Someone had a date,” Jenna surmised.

“Yes…” Dani said, sitting on the sofa.

Jenna was at her friend’s side in an instant. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, slapping Dani playfully on the arm. “Who’s the lucky guy, and how did it go? I want details.”

Dani took a deep breath. “Jenna, you’re not going to like what I have to say next,” she said.

“Why not? Was it a total disaster?” Jenna asked.

“No,” Dani said, “it went very well, actually.”

“Then what is the problem?” Jenna pressed.

Dani looked her friend of only a month directly in the eye. “I went out with Dukat tonight, Jenna.”

Jenna’s expression changed from curiosity to something that Dani couldn’t quite pinpoint. “You what?!”

“We went out on a date,” Dani said.

Jenna rose from the couch and paced a few times before looking down at Dani. “Dani – you said you wouldn’t!”

“I know, and I didn’t mean to.”

“What? It just happened? Like when you two slept together?”

“No.” Dani rose and walked over to the other woman. “I meant to say no. I was going to, but the man wouldn’t leave me alone, so I thought that if I gave him what he wanted, which was dinner, maybe that’d satisfy him, and he’d leave me alone.”

“I can’t believe someone as smart as you would think something so stupid,” Jenna said.

“What?” Dani asked. “It started out like that. I seriously went into this with the intention of not seeing him anymore after this.”

“So, what changed. What went wrong?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem. Everything on the date was perfect. I found that he’s really a decent person, when you get to know him.”

Jenna rolled her eyes and threw up her hands. She felt like a mother whose child was trying to convince her of the merits of orbital skydiving.

Dani continued. “It’s true. He’s not really a bad person.”

“You’re going to tell me the bad Cardassian government made him do all those horrible deeds,” Jenna quipped sarcastically.

“No. I’m going to tell you that everyone does things that they regret later on, and the fact that those people did those things once doesn’t mean they’re the same person they once were or that they’d do those things again,” Dani explained. After saying all this, Dani realized that she had just succeeded in convincing herself that she did in fact want to see Dukat again. What kind of hypocrite was she if she could defend him using the words she’d just said and still refuse to give him a chance?

“I really do think he’s changed,” Dani continued. “Did you know that he dances?”

“Dukat?” Jenna asked. The skeptical look that graced her features was replaced with one of disbelief.

“Yeah,” Dani said. “He’s pretty good at it, too. The man is definitely full of surprises, as I found out by the dancing thing. He’s also very charming and sweet…and I’ve decided to see him again.”

“Dani!” Jenna exlaimed. “You can’t! This is the man who has the blood of Bajor on his hands. He’s not Romeo or Casanova; he’s a cold-blooded killer!”

“You’re wrong,” Dani said emphatically. She couldn’t believe that after the time she’d spent with him tonight. She shook her head. “You’re wrong.”

Jenna could see that she wasn’t getting anywhere with Dani by attacking Dukat. So, she decided to try another approach. “Dani, what about your parents? What are they going to say? What about Will?”

That last question sparked a little flame in Dani.

“Dani, please don’t tell me you’re pursuing this as a way to get back at Commander Riker,” Jenna said.

“Will and I are through,” Dani said sharply. “He’s probably found his way back to Counselor Troi’s arms by now. As for my parents, I don’t know. I’ll deal with that when I get there.”

“‘I’ll deal with it when I get there’?” Jenna repeated. “I don’t think it’s

going to be that easy, Dani. You do realize that this is the very man who bears at least some responsibility for destroying your father’s home colony?”

“I’m not stupid, Jenna. Of course I know that. When this gets back to my father, he’s going to explode. But if I do everything to please my parents, I’ll never live. This is my life. I’m going to make my own mistakes. And if this is one, then…so be it. It is. Marac-”

“Marac?” Jenna said in disbelief. “Are we on a first name basis, now?”

“Yes,” Dani said. She was unable to keep a small smile from appearing on her lips.

Jenna sighed, giving up on any effort to try and dissuade Dani from continuing with her doomed relationship with Dukat. She reclaimed her seat on the couch.

“What else happened on your date?” she asked.

Dani followed Jenna back to the sofa. “Nothing, really,” she replied. “He took me back to my quarters and we said goodnight. That was it.”

Jenna sat back and crossed her arms. “What does Ziyal think about all this?”

Dani sighed. “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to her, yet.”

“Don’t you think you should?”

“I will.”

Jenna looked out the view ports behind the couch. “You know, Colonel Kira could order you not to see Dukat,” she said. “She doesn’t like him, either, and if she found out you two were dating-”

“She already knows,” Dani interjected. “I told her and Lt. Dax this afternoon that I had a date with Dukat.”

Jenna turned back to Dani. “I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into,” she said.

“I do,” Dani said.

“I don’t mean to trample on what could be your happiness, Dani. I’m just trying to look out for you.”

“I know,” Dani said. “And I appreciate it. I just think you’re wrong.”

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