Dani Janeway opened her eyes at 7 a.m. sharp at the sound of her alarm blaring in her ears. As she slowly sat up, attempting to gather her thoughts for the day, an alarming thought hit her like a phaser jolt – it was the day after her and Dukat’s interview with Jake Sisko.
She stood and wandered into her living room, not exactly knowing how she should feel or what she should do. What was on the other side of the doors of her quarters? Would there be an angry mob? Or would no one care? Would people be as cold as ice to her? Or would they treat her like they always had, only to talk about her behind her back they were sure she was out of earshot?
Dani looked at her computer console. Maybe she should check her messages for the morning…
She sat down at her desk to access her messages. The first one was from Jake, confirming that he’d posted the interview with the Federation News Service. He’d attached a copy of the finished article to his message. Dani opened the attachment and skimmed over the article. It seemed pretty accurate and balanced, to Jake’s credit. He’d actually presented them for what they were: two people who were in a relationship and merely wanted to live their lives with the same opportunities as others in their position. Maybe this whole thing wouldn’t be so bad after all. Maybe when people read this, Dani thought, they’d be more receptive to the idea of her and Dukat together.
When Dani read the next message in her terminal, that optimistic thought quickly dissipated. “You should be ashamed of yourself, you Cardie-loving bitch,” the message read. “The uniform you wear would be better-deserved by a Romulan, you traitor! Get off that station and go to Cardassia with that spoonhead and all the others of his kind.”
Dani quickly deleted the message. Maybe the article hadn’t had the effect she thought it had after all. It hadn’t if the previously opened message was any indication. Dani moved on to the next message. This one was from a familiar face – Emma Shale. Dani immediately rolled her eyes and accessed the message.
“Well, what a nice surprise!” it read. “Dani and Dukat – has a nice ring to it, if I do say so myself. So, I guess this means you’ll be resigning your lofty position on Deep Space Nine. I always knew you wouldn’t make it. Thanks for proving me right!”
Dani angrily deleted the message, a sense of dreadful foreboding of what the remaining 43 messages on her terminal were about. And it was only 0700 hours. The day hadn’t even started, yet.
Damn, she thought. What she feared most was becoming reality.
She rose from her terminal, intending to return to her room to dress, but paused when the door chimed. ‘Somebody’s here to confront me in person,’ she thought. And here she was in her pajamas, a skimpy shirt with no sleeves and a matching pair of shorts.
The door chimed again, and she dismissed the issue of her clothing, or lack thereof. “Come in,” she said. The doors slid open, and Dukat glided in. “Marac,” Dani said. She was relieved that it was him and not some angry reader.
Dukat noted her sigh of relief. A glance in the direction of her computer monitor confirmed his thoughts. “I take it you’ve read your messages for the morning,” he surmised.
“Some of them,” Dani replied.
“They weren’t encouraging,” Dukat guessed, again correct in his assumption.
Dani merely shook her head to the negative. She took a few steps and sat down on the sofa. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so insulted so many times in such a small amount of time,” she said. “And that was just one message.”
“I don’t mean to sound pessimistic,” Dukat said, joining her on the couch, “but I don’t think you’ve seen the end or the worst of it.”
“I know you’re right,” Dani said. “And that sucks.”
“Danielle – I’m here for you,” Dukat told her. “We will get through this. Together.” Dani looked at him, unsure. “We will,” he insisted.
When Dani walked into Ops that morning, she had that feeling that everyone had been talking but had suddenly stopped when she’d stepped off the lift. She quietly and quickly made her way to her station. She logged in and began to review the sensor readings from the day before. She hadn’t even been working ten minutes when Captain August Bunche stepped out of his office. “Ensign Janeway, could I see you in my office please?” he summoned.
Dani looked at Kira momentarily before making her way across the room to the Captain. She followed him into his office adjacent to Ops. She stood at attention until he instructed her to sit, which she did.
“Ensign,” Bunche began, “I believe you know why I have called you here. It appears that your relationship with Dukat has become public knowledge, thereby making it official to some degree.” Dani nodded, wondering where the captain was going with this.
Bunche continued. “I’ve known about this relationship for weeks, as has most of the station,” he said, “but command is just now only hearing about it. This whole scenario makes them nervous, Ensign.”
“Sir?” Dani said. She didn’t quite understand what he meant. Nervous?
“Ensign, I received orders this morning to relieve you from your duties until further notice,” Bunche revealed.
Dani couldn’t believe her ears. “What?” she managed to say.
“Personally, Janeway, I think an officer’s private life and what he or she does off-duty is his or her own business and does not necessarily have any bearing on that officer’s on-duty performance. However, as I’m sure you’re well aware, you are, by no means, just an average officer, and Dukat is…well, Dukat. Starfleet is afraid of a scandal, which is where this is headed.” ‘It’s probably already
reached that point, Bunche thought, regretfully. “I’m sorry, Ensign,” he said, and he truly was. This was a good officer, and she had the potential to be one of his best eventually. “I’m going to have to follow through on these orders,” he informed her.
Dani couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She’d barely been on duty a couple of months, and already she was being suspended. This had to be some kind of record for the shortest time on duty before being relieved of duty. “Am I to be confined to quarters as well, sir?” she asked, making every effort to appear to be taking the news in stride.
“No, I don’t believe that’s necessary,” Bunche said. “I do hope you understand Headquarters’ reasoning behind this, Ensign.”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
Bunche nodded. “You’re dismissed.”
And so that was it, Dani thought. Her Starfleet career was probably over. She nodded to the captain and rose. She left the office and Ops without so much as even a glance at anyone on her way out. It wasn’t because she was too embarrassed to look at them; it was because she was too mad.
The lift doors slid open, and Dani steamrolled through them and down the corridor toward her quarters. Once she entered her quarters, it was apparent to her that she wanted, needed to throw something, kick something, hit something. She would go to the gym and work off all the pint-up rage she was feeling.
How could headquarters dictate to her how she was supposed to live her life? Who were they to tell her who she was supposed to be romantically involved with?
She unzipped her uniform jacket and peeled it away from her body. It was then that the communications beacon on her terminal started to beep. She walked over to her desk and sat down at the computer. The comm, the screen showed, was from her parents. As she activated the message, hoped it was a recorded message and
not actually live, with someone on the other end. Immediately, an image of both Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay appeared on the screen.
“Dani,” Kathryn said, “we were just about to give up on you.”
‘Damn,’ Dani thought. ‘If only I’d come in a few seconds later…’
“Yeah,” Dani began, “Sorry about that. My shift in Ops just ended.” She studied her parents’ expressions. They weren’t giving up anything. What did they know? “What’s up?”
Kathryn and Chakotay looked at each other and then back at Dani. “Dani,” Kathryn began, “there have been some rumors floating around Starfleet. Very disturbing rumors. Concerning you and,” Janeway swallowed, “Gul Dukat. I’m sure you had to have heard of them by now. They’ve been floating around now for about two
So they had heard after all. “I have heard them,” Dani replied.
“And I’m sure you’ve heard of the article on the news service concerning you this morning,” Kathryn said.
Dani nodded. “Yes.”
Kathryn continued. “Well, Sweetheart, we just wanted to hear your take on this. I mean, is this something that began as a prank or joke that spun out of control? Something like that? Or…it’s just that we expected what people were saying to die out, but the stories keep coming, and the article this morning-”
“You want to know if it’s true,” Dani interjected.
“That’s right,” Chakotay said, speaking for the first time. “We want to know so we can put an end to these despicable lies. Tell us you’re not involved with Dukat so we can stop this.”
Dani’s head hung. Her heart was beating like a mad drum. Her stomach was nothing more than a twisted knot.
“Honey, it’s okay,” Kathryn said. “We know that words hurt, but it’s not the end of the world. It isn’t-”
“They’re not just words,” Dani broke in. She rose her head and looked at her parents on the monitor. They were both speechless. They didn’t know what they were hearing. “I can’t tell you that I’m not involved with Dukat because I am. They’re not just stories. That article on the Federation news wire is real. I did the interview with Jake Sisko yesterday. The things that people are saying…are true.”
Dani watched her parents and waited for some kind of response, but they just sat there in silence for a few moments. She wanted to say something, but wasn’t exactly sure that there was anything she could say that would make things any better. She opened her mouth to speak anyway, but before any words left her lips, her father suddenly reached over and angrily ended the transmission.
Dani was left staring at a blank screen. Tears welled up in Dani’s eyes and didn’t hesitate to fall down her cheeks. The worst had occurred. And Dani hadn’t been prepared for it.
Dani rose from her desk. It was official, now. If her parents had heard, chances were, everyone had heard. Her worst fear had come true. Her parents had found out about her and Marac, and her father’s reaction had been worse than she had expected. He hadn’t said a word. She’d expected him to say something, even if it had been to just yell, but he hadn’t said anything. Dani hadn’t expected that.
She understood perfectly his reasoning for his actions, though, and she couldn’t blame him. She understood what he believed. He just didn’t understand what she believed.
Two and a half hours later, Dani, who’d previously left for the gym for a nice long workout, returned to her quarters. The intense regimen she’d embarked on had been successful in helping her alleviate some of the stress of the situation. It could not, however, get rid of the pain she felt as a result of being virtually disowned by her parents, or by her father, at least. When she thought about the sadness, the anger in her rose again. When the anger rose, she felt like punching something. This was the process that had manifested itself throughout her workout, which was why she’d continued for so long. She could never completely get rid of the feelings, and if there was any remnant of any feeling, the process started all over again. It was all so useless. What she really wanted to do was crawl into bed, burrow under the covers, and hide from the universe forever.
Dani sank down onto the couch and buried her head in her hands as the tears came. Her entire life was falling apart, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. Well, there was one thing she could do, and doing it would probably get everyone off her back. But she couldn’t go down that road. Not because everyone else dictated that she should.
The door chimed, and Dani’s head sprung up. “Who is it?” she asked. She wasn’t used to asking that. She usually just told whoever was out there to come on in. She didn’t think it was such a good idea to be so open now. Whoever was on the other side of that door might wish she were dead or something.
“It’s me – Marac,” Dani heard Dukat say from outside.
She almost breathed a sigh of relief. “Come in,” she invited. She stood as Dukat entered.
“I thought we were meeting for lunch,” Dukat said. “What happened?”
“I was relieved of duty this morning,” Dani informed him.
“What?” Dukat asked, walking over to her.
“I went to Ops for my shift this morning, and the captain told me that he had been ordered, by Command, to relieve me of duty.”
“Because of me?” Dukat asked. Dani nodded and reclaimed her seat on the sofa.
Dukat sank to the couch beside her. “I didn’t realize such drastic steps would be taken,” he admitted.
“Me either,” Dani said.
“I can’t see you any longer, Danielle,” Dukat said suddenly.
Dani’s head snapped around to face Dukat. “What?”
“Your whole world is falling apart all at the expense of me. Getting rid of me is the obvious solution to this conundrum.”
Dani studied Dukat. He was right. It was the most obvious solution. But it wasn’t the only solution. “I’d rather not do that,” she told Dukat. Dani realized that she wouldn’t be willing to put herself through all this drama if she simply cared for Dukat or merely liked him a lot. “I love you,” she revealed.
Dukat looked at her. He couldn’t believe his ears. Only a few days ago, she’d said that she couldn’t say those words, that she couldn’t tell him she loved him. But now she could?
“I realized,” Dani began to explain, “that I wouldn’t be letting myself go through all this if I didn’t love you.”
“Are you sure you aren’t letting yourself go through all this merely to prove a point?” Dukat asked her.
“What point would that be? My whole life is a wreck. Everything I’ve ever worked for is slipping away. I know I’m stubborn, but I don’t think I would go so far as to risk everything just to prove someone wrong.” Dani stood and turned to face the viewports. “I just wish I could get away from this all.”
Dukat stood and joined her at the viewport. “I have to go away to Cardasssia IV for business in a few days,” he told her. “I’d like you to come with me.” She turned and looked up at him as he continued. “I could arrange for my ship to leave early, perhaps as early as tonight, if you wish.” Dani returned her attention to the viewport, as placed his hands on her shoulders and whispered into her ear, “I can take you away from all this, if only for a little while, a
few days. We’ll go somewhere where we’ll be completely secluded, away from everything that’s troubling you. Danielle, come with me.”
Dani turned and looked up at him again. “Can we really leave tonight?”