Graduation – 4. Encounter

Dani stood in one of the Academy’s many shuttlebays, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Will’s transport. He was taking shore leave and was going to spend the entire week with Dani. They had planned it that way. Will would take his shore leave the same week as the Academy’s spring break.

“Incoming transport,” a technician said. Dani looked at him and then at the portion of the sky visible through through the shuttlebay’s large doors. A shuttle transport was coming in for a landing.. She hoped this was Will’s. She looked around at the others waiting at the station. Obviously, they were thinking the same things, only about their own loved ones.

The shuttle entered the bay and hovered above the ground for a few moments before finally settling. After a few more seconds, the doors rose and people began filing out of the transport. Immediately, people began to greet their loved ones. After about five minutes, Will stepped out. As soon as he was clear of the vehicle, Dani ran up to him jumped on him, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. The act attracted stares, but she didn’t care. She kissed him.

“Hi,” she said.

Will blinked a few times, surprised by her jumping him. He smiled. “Hello,” he said.

xxx

“So, where are we going?” Dani asked. She and Will were on their way to their spring break destination, but Dani didn’t know where they were going. Will had wanted to keep it a surprise.

“You’ll see,” Will said.

“Why can’t you just tell me now?” Dani begged. They’d only left the Academy’s shuttle bay 15 minutes before, but Dani just couldn’t wait. She just had to know where they were going. “I can act surprised when we get there.” She smiled at him hopefully. He looked at her. He wasn’t going to tell her where they were going. “Well, you could at least tell me how long it will take to get there,” Dani pried.

“Not long at all,” Will said. “In fact, we’re there now.”

“Already? But we just left the station.” Dani sat up and looked out the shuttle’s viewports. “We’re still on Earth.” She looked at Will. “Aren’t we?”

“Yep.”

Dani was thoroughly confused.

“Dani – welcome to Alaska.”

xxx

Dani and Will entered the modest two-story ranch-style house in Valdez, Alaska.

“I wish you had told me we were coming here,” Dani said as Will closed the door behind them. “I thought we were going to Risa.”

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Will asked.

“Well, you like Risa. It’s one of your favorite vacation spots.”

“I also like Alaska. It’s my home.”

“I didn’t even bring any warm clothes.”

“That’s alright,” Will said. “There are replicators here.”

“That’s okay.” Dani let go of her bag and wrapped her arms around Will’s neck. “We probably won’t be going out that much, anyway.”

Will looked as if she’d told him they were having grass for dinner.

“What’s the matter?” Dani asked him.

“I wanted to show you the area, do a little exploring,” Will told her. The last thing he wanted to do was sit around the house for the week. It’d been a while since he’d last been here. He wanted to get out and do things. Then he realized that Dani might have been having a rough semester, so he reconsidered. “But I understand if you just want to lay low for the week and relax.”

“Relax?” Dani asked. She almost laughed aloud. “Of course I do. And I wanted to have fun, too. Just a different kind of fun than you’re talking about.”

Will was confused. He looked into Dani’s eyes and saw a familiar gleam. But it wasn’t a look that he had ever seen in Dani’s dark eyes before. Realization dawned.

“Are-” Will swallowed. “Are you sure? I mean, are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready?”

Dani noted that he seemed a bit flustered. “Are you?” she asked him coolly. She’d caught him off-guard, a feat few could brag about. Good, she thought.

“Um,” Will chuckled. “You know, once you do this, you won’t be able to take it back.”

“Why are you stalling?”

“I’m not stalling-”

“Then kiss me.” And he did.

Dani was a wild woman. Eager seemed to be an understatement. If it’d been left up to her, she would have had him right there by the front door.

“The bedroom’s upstairs,” Will said between kisses.

“Oh?” Dani said, also between kisses. “Really. And?”

“Well, you don’t want to do this here, do you?” Will asked.

“Any reason why I shouldn’t?” Dani asked looking up at him.

Will couldn’t believe she was serious. Dani was ready and willing to lose her virginity on the floor in front of the front door. But Will wouldn’t have it. He wanted this to be special for Dani – not some passing encounter on a floor.

Dani recognized Will’s look of hesitation and responded by hopping onto him, wrapping herself around his body and taking him, yet again, by surprise. She kissed him again. “I’m yours,” she whispered into his ear. He kissed her and proceeded up the stairs with her wrapped about him.

xxx

Later that night, Dani and Will cuddled with hot chocolate on the bedroom floor in front of the fireplace. Wrapped in blankets, she donned one of his pajama shirts, and he sported the pants.

“How are classes this semester?” Will asked.

Dani took a sip of the hot, dark liquid before answering. “They’re okay. Good.”

“Good. Is Nimembeh still on your case?”

“Yes.” Dani made a face of pure contempt. “And the thing is I don’t know why. I work my ass off, and it’s not good enough. I’m convinced he’s made it his personal goal to stay on my case.”

“You should consider it an honor,” Will said before bringing his mug to his lips to blow small, cooling jets of air on the hot liquid. He honestly couldn’t figure out how Dani was managing to drink the stuff right away. It was still steaming hot.

“An honor? Doing push-ups in the pouring rain?”

“Nimembeh turns out some of the best officers the fleet has ever seen. He’s not doing it because he hates you; he’s doing it because he wants you to make it.”

“Well he sure does have a funny way of showing it,” Dani said, instantly resenting the tough-love treatment she’d been receiving from Nimembeh.

“It’s his way, and it seems to work. You’ll thank him later. Talk to your father, or to Harry Kim. Besides that, though, everything’s fine?”

Dani nodded. “Pretty much.”

“Is that Emma girl still giving you problems?” Will asked.

“Yes. I’ve just learned to look at that as an annoyance, rather than a problem, though.”

Will nodded and sipped on the hot chocolate for the first time. He winced internally as the liquid touched his tongue. It was still just a bit hot for his taste. “So, any boyfriends on the side?” he asked.

“Too many,” Dani joked. “Enough talk about me, though. What’s been up with you?”

“Nothing much. Nothing quite as exciting as what you’ve experienced at Starfleet Academy.”

“That’s impossible,” Dani said. He was trying to make his time away seem uninteresting when she knew that wasn’t the case. “There’s never a boring moment on the Enterprise.”

“That’s a lie.”

“No, I don’t think so. It’s just that you all have become so used to emergency that it’s become routine, and therefore, boring.”

“Oh, is that it?”

“Yes.”

Will nodded. He looked into Dani’s brown eyes and realized once again how immensely he had missed her. “Dani, how would you feel about coming back to the Enterprise with me for the summer?” he asked.

“I’d love to,” Dani said. “You know that, but it’s not very likely.”

“Why not? It’s never been any less likely to happen than any other thing before.” Will recalled the times when Dani was younger and had spent a few summers onboard the Enterprise.

“Will, I’m a cadet,” Dani said, as if that would explain everything.

“We’ve had cadets on the Enterprise before,” Will said. “They’re there all the time.”

“This would be different. Those cadets are usually there getting their field training. They’re assigned there.”

“I could pull a few strings-”

“No – no favors,” Dani objected. “If that’s one thing I’ve learned from Nimembeh, it’s that. I shouldn’t get special privileges just because of my familial connections. I don’t want to be treated any differently than any other cadet.” People already thought she was at the Academy on a free ride. She didn’t need any more fuel for that fire.

Will nodded. He completely understood that sentiment. “Fine, then-you can come as my guest,” he said.

“Will, Captain Picard doesn’t like for his ship to be used as a hotel,” Dani reminded him.

“Since when did housing families become a crime?”

“I’m not family, remember? I’m not related to anyone onboard the Enterprise.”

Will was silent. “Maybe we should do something to change that.” Dani looked at Will. A slow, bitter-sweet smile broke out across her face. She knew a marriage proposal when she heard one. She pulled a strand of brown hair behind her ear as she collected her thoughts.

“I’m not ready, Will,” she said. “I just don’t want to jump into anything. Marriage is a big, huge thing. I don’t want to get married until after I graduate from the Academy, at the earliest.” Dani stroked Will’s face and kissed him. “We will get married, though, if you’ll still have me.”

“You know I’ll wait for you,” Will said. Dani smiled as she moved in to kiss him again.

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