Story #7 in the “More Than a Lifetime” series
Author’s Note: This story is the seventh in a series of stories that do not follow canon and should not be taken as such. The previous stories, in order, are: 1) Delta Wild, 2) Homecoming, 3) Graduation, 4) A Love Less Ordinary, 5) Return to Normal, and 6) Sweetest Sin. 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 stories. Please overlook any other inconsistencies or errors pertaining to the original Star Trek universe as the author’s ignorance.
This story contains mature themes, language, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: All the characters, except Dani and other original characters who do not appear on screen or in print, belong to Paramount. I do not own them or claim to. This story was produced and is presented purely for the enjoyment of the readers. I don’t make any money from this, and this story may not be used for any such purpose. If you wish to use my story for purposes other than monetary gain, please do so, as long as my name and this disclaimer remain attached to it.
1. A VISIT
Life could be so simple. If she could just spend the rest of her days in the simplicity she was experiencing now, everything would be okay.
But Dani Janeway was still a young woman with more days ahead than behind. Even though she wanted to, there was no way she could convince herself that she’d be happy just doing nothing. That was unreal.
No. She had to make sure her time here on Earth, in Indiana, in her family’s house, was temporary. A vacation. Even if she didn’t end up going back to Starfleet.
Dani’s first few years in Starfleet had definitely not gone as she’d expected. She’d known a life in the ‘Fleet would involve danger and risk, but she’d assumed that she would just experience her share, like everyone else, and go on with her life. But it seemed that things had been different for Janeway the moment she’d become an Ensign. She’d set foot on Deep Space Nine, and who was one of the first people she’d befriended? Tora Ziyal – Dukat’s daughter. What had happened next? She’d become romantically involved with Dukat.
Things hadn’t gotten any better by the time she’d transferred to the Enterprise. She couldn’t just go to the Enterprise and lead a normal life. No … her first night, who shows up? Q – and his son. Throw in a couple of covert missions, the rescue of a Federation dignitary from a Cardassian prison, and a reunion with a not-so-dead Dukat, and it all equaled up to a very active beginning of a Starfleet career.
Dani was tired. Burned out emotionally. She didn’t want to do it anymore. She’d experienced more pain in the last three years than she had in all of her life prior to that. And she didn’t have anything to show for it. Nothing at all.
Was it worth it? Where would this kind of life lead for her? Where would she be in 20 years? She had no doubt that she would be able to move up the ranks and eventually take her own command one day, but what about her personal life? Family? Would she end up alone?
Dani sighed. It was nearly 4:00 in the morning, and she was no closer to sleep than she had been at 10:00 the previous evening. Her eyes fluttered open when a flash of light appeared in her dark bedroom.
“Cousin,” a shadowed voice said. “Did I wake you?”
Instantly, Dani knew who was in her room. It was her ‘cousin’, Q.
Dani sat up in her bed. “No, Q,” she said, replying to his question. “Actually, I hadn’t had the chance to doze off, yet.”
Q stepped closer to the bed. “Computer – lights,” Dani called. She looked at Q. “You’ve changed your appearance.” His hair, which had been short and closely cropped the last time she’d seen him, was now longer and shaggier.
“Yes,” Q concurred. “I’ve been experimenting with some new styles. What do you think?”
Dani looked him over. For the first time since she’d first met him, he wasn’t wearing a Starfleet uniform. He was dressed simply, in a pair of jeans and a button-down shirt. She nodded. “It works for you.”
“Better than a Starfleet uniform?” Q asked.
Dani grinned. “Much.” Q smiled and nodded. “So, is something wrong, or is this just a visit?” Dani asked, getting out of bed. She padded over to the replicator and ordered a raktijino. “You want something?”
Q shook his head. “No thanks. I never really got the hang of that whole eating thing.”
Dani nodded, retrieving her drink from the replicator bay and walking over to a chair, in which she sat, curling her legs under her. Q sat on the bed. “So, is something wrong?” Dani repeated her question.
“Actually, yes,” Q said.
Dani took a sip from her mug. “What is it? I mean, I don’t know if I can help you or not, but I’ll do what I can.”
“Well, first of all, the problem doesn’t have anything to do with me.”
“Who does it involve, then?”
Dani froze. “Me?” she asked, placing her mug on the table next to her. She searched Q’s features for any sign of playfulness, but she saw that he was lacking any manner of joviality. “You’re serious.”
“Very,” Q confirmed. “Dani, I’ve been watching you for a while now.”
“Q, I thought we agreed – no more spying!”
“No, I wasn’t watching you like that. I mean that I was keeping an eye on you. Monitoring your situations, if you will.”
“Since when?” Dani asked curiously.
“Since you went to Cardassia,” Q revealed. “I was … worried.”
“There wasn’t any need to be worried, Q,” Dani told him.
“I know that now. But I was, nevertheless. And I still am. Only now, it’s for a different reason.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Dani, I know you’re thinking about leaving Starfleet.”
“You can’t leave Starfleet, Dani.”
“Why the hell not?” Dani asked, her feathers obviously ruffled by Q’s statement. She didn’t like people telling her what she could and could not do, what decisions she had to make. Q knew that, she knew, so she didn’t understand why he was saying what he was saying.
“Dani-” Q began, but thought better of it. “I can’t tell you.”
Dani stood. “Look, I’m not cut out for this. I can’t deal with it anymore. Everything I do only ends up with these horrible results.”
“That’s not true,” Q argued. “You helped me.”
Dani shook her head dismissively. “You know you weren’t ever in any real danger, Q.”
“I know, but you knew that, too,” Q reminded her. “The point is that you still risked your life to save me. I wouldn’t call that a horrible result.” Q stood, facing Dani. “Dani, you can’t leave Starfleet.”
“Because … ” Q was looking for the right words. He didn’t want to reveal specifics, but if he was going to convince Dani that her place was in Starfleet, he would have to give her something to latch onto. “Because you’re going to be part of something big. Something important.”
Dani looked at him with questioning eyes. Q went on. “I can’t tell you what it is, but you’re going to be instrumental to the survival of humankind.”
“What?” Dani asked, disbelieving. “Me?”
“Just trust me, okay? I’m trying to do you a favor. You helped me; now I’m going to help you. You cannot leave Starfleet.”
“Help me? By telling me I can’t leave Starfleet? That’s some big help, Q.”
“No. I’m here to help you in another way.”
Dani had turned her back on Q, but now she turned to face him again. Q continued. “I know you haven’t had it easy lately. I’ve come to realize, during my time among humans, that death is a difficult thing to deal with.”
Dani saw where Q was going with this, and she made an attempt to cut it off. She shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about this, Q.” She walked over to the window.
Q nodded. “I realize that, but we have to because that’s where the problem is.” Q walked over and joined her at the window. “You need to get your head together.”
Dani whirled around to Q. “Get my head together? I just watched the man I love die! He died in my arms!”
“I know that. I saw the whole thing.” Dani calmed visibly, and Q spoke again. “You’re torturing yourself, Dani, dwelling on what might’ve been with Dukat. I know you loved him. But please believe me when I tell you that it wasn’t meant to be for you and him.”
“Marac and I were so good together. The age, the species, the politics – none of that mattered. We were connected. How could we not be meant to be together?”
“You really think your life would be better if Dukat were still alive?” Q asked.
“How could it not be?” Dani replied. “We would probably be married by now. I’d be happy.”
“I guess this is when the help session begins, then, Cousin,” Q said with snap of his fingers. In a flash of light, Dani’s bedroom in Indiana was replaced by the bedroom she’d shared with Dukat at his house.