Story #5 in the “More Than a Lifetime” series
Author’s Note: This story is the fifth 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, 3) Graduation, and 4) A Love Less Ordinary. 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.
The turbolift halted, and the doors opened, revealing ship’s counselor Deanna Troi, who had been waiting patiently for the lift to arrive.
“Goodmorning, Deanna,” said Will Riker, who was already occupying the lift..
“Will – goodmorning,” Troi said, stepping into the lift and joining the commander. “You’re just the person I wanted to see.”
“Really?” Will asked. The lift doors slid shut, and Deanna instructed it to go to the bridge, Will’s destination as well. “What can I do for you?” Will asked.
“Well, it’s about Dani,” Deanna revealed, with some degree of caution in her voice.
“What about her?” Will inquired, caution creeping into his own voice.
“I’ve been fielding some concerns about her serving aboard the Enterprise,” Deanna said.
Will looked at her, puzzled. Why would anyone be concerned about Dani Janeway, Will wondered silently. He already knew the answer, though. He didn’t even know why he was trying to pretend like he didn’t. He had a feeling he knew the exact words that were going to come from the counselor’s lips.
Deanna continued, answering Will’s unasked question. “People are concerned about her relationship with Dukat.”
“She no longer has a relationship with Dukat,” Will said, immediately tensing at the subject of conversation. He knew it. Dani’s relationship – former relationship – with the infamous Cardassian was going to be a hot topic for weeks, perhaps months, to come. It had all ended almost a year ago, with the execution of the former gul by the Romulans, and Dani had moved on, apparently. She and Will had resumed their romantic relationship three months ago during one of his visits to Deep Space Nine. They were together again, just like the old days. Despite the fact that Dani was leaving DS9 having served Starfleet to the best of her abilities, and one rank higher to show for it, he and Dani both knew that her past relationship with Dukat would be all that a lot of people saw for a long time to come. It wasn’t something that was just going to go away. That much was obvious, given the fact that Dukat had died almost a year ago, and people were still talking about him and Dani.
Deanna had expected the automatic defense that Will projected regarding Dani, and she understood his need to do so. But it didn’t change the fact that there were people on board the Enterprise who didn’t want Dani there. “Regardless, they’re questioning her loyalty to Starfleet,” she said.
“That’s absurd,” Will said. “Dani’s as true to Starfleet and the Federation as you and I are.”
“I know that, but many don’t.” Deanna didn’t like being the bearer of a lot of unpleasant news, especially on a day when she knew Will was excited, but there was more that he needed to be aware of concerning the crew’s attitude toward Dani Janeway. “People are also concerned that she’s going to be on the receiving end of some special treatment,” Deanna added hesitantly.
“Special treatment?” Will couldn’t believe his ears. “Computer, halt turbolift.” The lift came to a complete stop. Will turned to Deanna. It wasn’t enough that Dani would have to deal with the backlash of her relationship with Dukat, was it? She would also have to deal with the backlash of being her. He didn’t know why it was so hard for people to accept that the daughter of Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay could come up through the ranks and prosper without the help of “connections”. “Who exactly has been coming to you with these ‘concerns’?” Will asked. It came out more harshly than he’d intended, especially since he knew Deanna was only doing her job by informing him. He knew she hated it as much as he did. She knew Dani, too.
“A significant number of officers,” was Deanna’s calm reply. “There are a lot of people who don’t want Dani on this ship, Will.”
Hearing her say the words Will had known were true was hard. How could people hate so much the woman he’d come to adore? He merely turned to the turbolift doors and said, “That’s unfortunate.” Dani didn’t deserve this kind of reception, he thought. All she’d ever wanted to do was be a good officer. “They don’t even know her,” Will said quietly. “But I don’t have time to go and personally talk to every officer on this ship who has a problem with Dani Janeway.”
“I’m well aware of that,” Deanna said. She understood perfectly Will’s sentiments, and she thought he was well justified in feeling the way he did. But he did have a job to do here, as she did. In coming to him, she had hoped that this would aid him in his tasks as first officer. She continued. “But as the ship’s first officer, personnel matters do fall into your duties. I’m asking you to talk with the department heads and ask that they not give any special treatment to anyone.”
“None of them would ever do that,” Will defended.
“I know, but it would put a lot of people at ease if you talked to them.”
Will considered the proposition. He had to admit he had thought of the possibility of personnel problems concerning Dani. He’d even submitted to the fact that those problems weren’t just possibilities; they were likelihoods. He just didn’t want to believe it. He acquiesced and nodded in response to Deanna’s suggestion. Calmer, he said, “Perhaps it couldn’t hurt. Computer-”
“It would also be a good idea if you treated Dani like you would treat any other junior officer while you’re on duty,” Troi interrupted.
“Of course,” Will said, bristling at the silent implication that he would ever act in such an unprofessional manner. Deanna picked up on it.
“Will, I’m not suggesting that you would behave otherwise,” Deanna was sure to add. “It’s just a reminder.”
“I know,” Will said genuinely with a sigh. He was getting all worked up over this, and Dani wasn’t even on board yet. Deanna was just trying to help, and he was snapping at her like she was to blame for all that she’d told him. “I appreciate it,” Will said sincerely, thanking the counselor for her help. “Computer, resume.” The turbolift began its ascent once again.
“I just didn’t realize the effect having Dani aboard would create,” Will continued. “I’ve been aware of how we should both behave on duty. And I knew a few people would have some qualms with her because of Dukat and her relationship with me, but is it really that many?”
“I wouldn’t have come to you if it were only a few people who had expressed concerns,” Deanna said.
The turbolift came to a halt again, this time at its destination – the bridge. The doors slid open, and Will and Deanna glided onto the bridge. Data, who had been in command, stood from the captain’s chair and relinquished control to Will.
“We have arrived at Deep Space Nine,” Data reported.
“Thank you, Mr. Data,” Will said. “On screen.” A visual of the space station Deep Space Nine appeared on the view screen at the head of the bridge. Will tapped his comm badge. “Bridge to Captain Picard,” Will began, “We’ve arrived at Deep Space Nine.”
“Very well, then, Number One,” Picard’s voice sounded through the badge.
A few moments later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard emerged from his ready room adjacent to the bridge. His sight went directly to the view screen.
“Captain, Colonel Kira is hailing us,” the communications/tactical officer reported.
“Put her through,” Picard instructed. The viewscreen image of the space station was immediately replaced by that of Colonel Kira Nerys. “Colonel,” Picard greeted.
“Captain Picard,” Kira said, “How good it is to see you again.”
“It is good to see you as well,” Picard said. “How are things on the station?”
“Things are running quite smoothly, fortunately,” Kira informed him. “Captain Bunche sends his regards. He regrets that he won’t be in attendance at the reception this evening. He was called away on official business. I’m sure you understand.”
“All too well, Colonel,” Picard responded. He had been looking forward to talking with Captain Bunche again. They shared an interest in archeology, which made for wonderful conversations. He’d gotten to know Bunch much better than Ben Sisko, DS9’s former captain, who had taken a leave of absence to spend time on Bajor. The Dominion War hadn’t afforded Sisko or Picard the opportunity to become friendly with one another. War had a habit of doing that.
Picard continued. “I understand we are to be taking on a former crewmember of yours.”
“Ah, yes,” Kira said, “Lt. Janeway. I must say I’m sorry to see her leave. She’s become a valued member of the DS9 crew. We’ll miss her.” It was true. Despite Dani’s connection to Dukat, Kira had grown very fond of the young woman. She was a hard worker, a good officer. She would make a good addition to the Enterprise team. “She should be arriving shortly,” Kira said.
“Captain,” the comm/tactical officer began, “Lt. Janeway’s shuttle has just docked in shuttlebay two.”
“Thank you, Lt.,” Picard said, directing his attention back to the colonel. “I’ve just been informed that my new officer has arrived. If you’ll excuse me, Colonel, I’m going to go greet her.”
“By all means, Captain,” Kira said. “I look forward to seeing you at the reception this evening.”
“And I, you,” Picard said.
Kira smiled warmly. “Kira out.” The communication was terminated, and Kira’s image was replaced by the image Deep Space Nine.
Picard looked at Will and Deanna. The three filed off the bridge into the waiting turbolift.
“I imagine this particular occasion must be a joyous one for you, Will,” Picard said, once the lift doors had closed.
Will smiled, not even attempting to hide it. “Yes, sir. It is,” he said. Despite his earlier conversation with Deanna, he was still excited about Dani’s arrival. “It’s very fortunate for the Enterprise that Lt. Janeway will be joining the crew. She’s a valuable asset that any captain would be proud to have serving on his ship.”
“Oh, yes,” Picard replied. “She graduated at the top of her class at the Academy and completed command school. And she’s matured into an excellent officer.”
“That she has, sir,” Will agreed.
The turbolift continued for a few moments before coming to a halt. When the doors opened, Troi, Riker, and Picard stepped out, walked down the corridor and into shuttlebay two.
Will waited anxiously as the shuttle hatch opened. He noticed that his heart rate had risen, as had his body temperature. His palms were also sweaty. He had already begun to wipe them on his uniform when he realized that Deanna was looking at him. She could probably sense how he was feeling, although she didn’t say anything.
Will turned his attention back to the shuttle, and there she was. She was just as beautiful as the last time he’d seen her, if not more so, and one rank higher. Her eyes rested on him briefly before falling on the captain.
“Permission to come aboard, Captain,” she requested.
“Permission granted, Lt.,” Picard said. Lt. Danielle Janeway stepped off the shuttle gangplank and onto the deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-E. Picard stepped forward with his hand extended. Dani stepped forward as well and met him, shaking the captain’s hand. “Welcome aboard,” he said.
“Thank you, Captain,” Dani said.
“It’s good to have you back on board the Enterprise,” Picard said.
“It’s good to be back on board, sir,” Dani replied.
“How are your parents?” Picard inquired. It had been a while since he’d last seen Admiral Janeway and Captain Chakotay.
“They’re well. My father is enjoying his teaching post at the Academy, and my mother is keeping busy at headquarters.”
“Welcome aboard, Dani,” Deanna said warmly.
“Thank you, Counselor,” Dani said.
“Hello,” Will said.
“Hello,” Dani said, looking up at Will, briefly. She couldn’t afford to gaze at him to long. If she did, she wouldn’t be able to look away.
“The commander will be showing you to your quarters,” Picard said. “It’s good to see you again, Dani.” He turned to Will. “I’ll be on the bridge.”
“Aye, sir,” Will said, as the captain left the shuttle bay. He turned his attention back to Dani. “If you’ll follow me.” Will, Deanna, and Dani left the shuttle bay. None of them said very much during the journey to Dani’s quarters, probably because of the awkward situation the three of them were in. A man, his ex-lover, and his current lover – and all of them officers serving on the same ship in positions where they would all inevitably interact with each other. Despite the friendly smiles they sported, one didn’t have to be an empath to sense the tension and uneasiness surrounding the three officers. When they reached their destination, the tension wasn’t lifted.
“Well, this is it,” Will said casually as the three of them walked in. “I hope it’s to your liking.”
“Oh, yes. Definitely,” Dani said, looking around the living room area.
“I know it’s not the lap of Cardassian luxury you’re used to,” Will said.
“Believe me, I think I can adjust,” Dani assured him. “It’ll be nice to get back to a real bed for a change. I’d had about all I could take of those hard Cardassian excuses for beds.”
A long, awkward, silent moment followed. No one knew what to say next. Finally, Deanna spoke up.
“I’d better get going,” she said. “I’ve got to see how things are looking for tonight.”
“Right,” Will said. Deanna nodded to them both before exiting. Will and Dani looked across the room at each other. They walked to each other and embraced.
“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to do that,” Will said.
“I bet I do,” said Dani.
“I wanted to gather you into my arms when you first stepped out of the shuttle.” He looked at her. “But with the captain there. And Deanna…” Dani reached up and pulled Will’s head to her own. Her lips met his for the first time in months. When she pulled away, she expected him to pursue her and was surprised when he didn’t.
“You haven’t seen me in three months, and all you want is one kiss?” Dani asked. She had to admit, she was somewhat confused.
“I don’t think I can afford any more right now,” Will said, a hint of a smile on his face.
“Affordability was never a factor before,” Dani pointed out, raising one eyebrow.
“If I get involved now, I’m not going to want to leave for the rest of the day, and I am currently on duty. And tonight, we’re holding a reception and dinner for some of the admirals tonight.”
“That sounds like fun,” Dani said, lacking enthusiasm.
“The captain would like for you to be in attendance,” Will informed her.
“Me?” Dani certainly wasn’t anyone important enough that her presence would be missed at a reception for admirals. Was she? “Why?”
Will was surprised that she didn’t know. “Well, you’re only one of the most talked-about officers in the ‘Fleet,” he said.
Dani was suddenly aware. “That was almost a year ago,” she said of her relationship with Dukat. Most of her colleagues on DS9 didn’t talk about what had happened between her and Dukat. Because she no longer heard anything about the whole subject, she assumed others on other ships had put it to rest, as well. She was wrong. “I thought everyone would be over that by now. I am.”
“Captain Picard and Colonel Kira just want to show everyone what kind of officer you really are,” Will said, trying to justify everything. “He wants to give who ever wants it a chance to talk to you personally.”
Dani stepped away from Will. She didn’t want to be hearing what she was hearing. “I can’t believe this. You’re telling me the whole purpose of this reception is to put me on display?”
“No, that’s not the purpose of it at all. It’s just a get-together for the admirals. But the captain and Deanna both thought it would be a good idea. It would kind of serve as another opportunity for you to clear your name. Frankly, I think it’s a good idea, too.”
“Why didn’t anyone discuss this with me?” Dani asked. While she, too, believed this was a good idea, she was a little upset that the decision to go along with it had been made without her consent.
“That was inconsiderate of us. On the behalf of all of us, I apologize. But, Dani, you’ve got to realize what a good opportunity this is for you to explain your side of things.”
“I do realize the opportunity. That’s why I’m not madder than I am. What time should I be there?”
“The reception starts at 1800 hours.”
“And I was so looking forward to getting re-acquainted with you,” Dani said regretfully.
Will took her hand and pulled her to him. “We can still do that,” he assured her.
“Tonight?” Dani asked hopefully.
Will shook his head regrettably and said, “No, I don’t think so. We don’t know what time this is going to be over with, and I have an early shift tomorrow.” He kissed her. “And so do you.”
Dani looked up at Will’s neatly-bearded face and could tell he wasn’t joking about the shift.
“See you tonight,” Will said, this time kissing Dani on the cheek instead of the lips. He walked to the door and said “Dress uniform,” before walking out.
“I hate those things,” Dani said once she was alone.