Dani wanted to spend the rest of the day alone. But fate had other plans. She ran into Kyle in a shopping district.
“What a surprise to find you – alone,” Kyle said, as he and Dani approached each other on the sidewalk. “What happened to your friends?”
“Change of plans,” Dani said.
There was a smile on her face, but Kyle sensed that something was wrong. “What happened?” Kyle asked.
Dani walked over to a nearby bench and sat. Kyle followed suit. Dani sighed and started to relay the story of the morning’s events. When she was done telling him, the happy expression had left his face, and she felt even worse for being a downer.
“What happened after you walked out?” Kyle asked. “What did Archer do?”
“I haven’t seen him since,” Dani said. “It’s all so stupid, because I shouldn’t have even been there with him in the first place.”
“Dani, it’s not like you can predict the future,” Kyle said. “You told me this morning that it wasn’t like that between the two of you. How could you have known what was going to happen?”
Dani shook her head. “We both know that I was kidding myself and you when I said that. It was plain as day to you what was happening, so I definitely should have known better…what happened is for the best, anyway, given the situation we’re in.”
“Look – don’t let this whole thing put a damper on your vacation,” Kyle said. “It’s better that this happened now rather than later on, when things would likely have been much more emotionally complicated.”
Dani nodded and said, “You’re right.”
“There’s a beach party tonight not far from the hotel,” Kyle said. “You should come. It’ll be a great way to have some fun and let off some steam.”
Dani smiled for the first time that day since the incident in the caves. “Okay. Drop by my hotel room. We can walk over together.”
They both stood. “I’m meeting Travis and Malcolm at the marina for a boating lesson,” Kyle said. “You want to join me?”
“No, I think I’ll hang around here and do some shopping.”
“You sure? I hate to leave you alone.”
“It’s fine. I promise. I kind of want to be alone right now anyway.”
Kyle nodded. “See you tonight, then,” he said.
Dani nodded, and Kyle started to walk away. “Kyle?” Kyle stopped and turned to Dani again. “I’m really glad we found each other again.”
Kyle chuckled. “Me too. I wish we hadn’t had to take a trip to the 22nd Century to do it, though.”
“Yeah,” Dani said. “But still…”
Her words trailed, but she was sure Kyle understood. She was glad he was back in her life. He nodded and smiled again, before turning and walking away.
It was only a few minutes before Dani found a store she liked, and she believed her day actually had a chance of ending better than it had begun. But turns out that her optimism was to be short-lived. Only minutes after she entered the shop, T’Pol surfaced again. She had appeared in front of Dani as she turned from one rack of clothing, intending to move on to another.
“Sub-Commander,” Dani said. She was a little perplexed. One of the last places she expected to find T’Pol was a shop.
“Commander,” T’Pol said, her gaze seemingly assessing Dani.
“Is there something I can do for you, Sub-Commander?” Dani asked.
“As a matter of fact, there is,” T’Pol said.
That certainly wasn’t the answer Dani had been expecting.
T’Pol continued, “I came to inquire about the nature of your relationship with Captain Archer.”
Dani inhaled sharply and nodded slowly. “You’re referring to what happened this morning at the caves.”
“That much should be evident,” T’Pol said.
“We don’t really have a relationship,” Dani said. It was the truth, so why did it feel like such a lie when she said it out loud?
“Every officer on Enterprise has a relationship of some degree with Captain Archer, whether it be merely that of a commanding officer and subordinate or … closer.”
“Closer?” Dani repeated.
“Yes,” T’Pol said. “You and the captain appear to have become emotionally close during this shore leave.”
“It may look like that, but I don’t think it’s accurate,” Dani insisted. “We’re just friends.”
“Then, you appear to be very good friends,” T’Pol said. “What I witnessed this morning was not customary behavior between mere friends.”
“That was a spur of the moment thing,” Dani said, working to keep her annoyance from surfacing in her voice. She didn’t want to discuss this particular topic anymore, especially with T’Pol. “It just happened. It wasn’t planned.”
“Regardless, it was highly inappropriate. I suggest that you cease all non-professional contact with the captain immediately.”
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about in that department,” Dani said. “Trust me – it was over before it ever had a chance to begin.”
T’Pol inclined her head slightly, and that was the end of the conversation. She moved away toward the shop exit.
After the day that she’d had, Dani didn’t feel much like partying. But she’d agreed to go to the party with Kyle, and that’s how she found herself on a beach, standing at the fringes of the party, staring at scores of rowdy vacationers when she really would rather be asleep in her comfy hotel bed.
Kyle turned to Dani, wide-eyed and smiling. It was the way Dani remembered him being at the Academy. It was the first time she’d seen him like this since they’d been reunited. Despite her desire to be elsewhere, she couldn’t help but smile with him.
“See?” he said. “I told you it would be fun!” He began to bounce to the beat of the music as he weaved his way into the party. Dani reluctantly followed him and resolved to stay for a little while, not longer than an hour, before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Dani stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted Archer near a bar area with a small group of people. Kyle, puzzled, stopped with her. He followed her gaze to Archer and nodded knowingly.
Dani wanted to turn and run away, but by the time she’d decided on that course of action, Archer had already spotted her. So she stood there, frozen, watching while he said ‘goodbye’ to his companions and walked over to her.
“Do you want me to stay…” Kyle began to ask.
“No, it’s okay,” Dani said. “Go ahead. I’ll catch up with you later.”
Kyle nodded and left, as Archer approached.
“Hi,” Archer said.
“Hello, Captain,” Dani said.
Archer was slightly taken aback by her decision to use his formal title. “I didn’t know you were going to be here tonight,” he said.
“Kyle invited me,” Dani said. “He said it would help me relax.”
“I bet he didn’t think I would be here when he said that,” Archer said.
Dani winced and shook her head in response. She began to walk away from the party, looking out at the ocean, focusing on the moons’ reflections on the rippling waves and trying her best not to be awkward.
“Dani, I want to apologize for what happened earlier today at the caves,” Archer said, walking with her.
“Are you apologizing for kissing me?” Dani asked.
Archer stared blankly at Dani for a few moments. “Um, yeah. I-I assumed that…well, I didn’t really do much thinking at all, come to think of it. It just…sort of came naturally, I guess. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize, Jon,” Dani said. “Really, you don’t. That kiss – it was wonderful.”
Archer’s brow knitted with confusion. “I don’t understand,” he said. “When you ran away, I assumed it was because of me?”
“No, it was because of me,” Dani said. “I think I was overwhelmed by what had happened between us, and then T’Pol and Trip found us. I think my brain just kind of shut down or something.”
Archer chuckled, relieved. “So, you’re not upset with me?”
Dani shook her head. “No. I don’t have any reason to be angry with you…but I do think that T’Pol is right.”
Confusion returned to Archer again. “About what?”
“We ran into each other later on in a shop,” Dani said.
“In a nutshell, she thinks that our behavior was inappropriate and that we should refrain further behavior of that nature.”
“Were those her words?”
“Not exactly, but that’s the general gist.”
“And you agree?”
Dani began to walk toward the water and away from the bulk of the party guests. Archer walked with her.
“Jon, we both should know better,” Dani said. “I should, at least. Whatever it was that happened between us in the caves, it can’t go anywhere. I mean, look at our situation.”
“What about our situation?”
“What happens if, suddenly, somehow, tomorrow, they find a way to send me and Kyle back to our own time?” She shook her head. “Or worse – what if it happens a few months down the road, after we’ve had time to develop deeper feelings for each other?”
“That’s something I’ve been thinking about, too,” Archer admitted. “It’s a valid point. The only problem is that I think it’s too late. For me, at least.”
“What do you mean?”
Archer stopped walking and turned to face Dani. “Because I’ve already developed feelings for you,” he said. “That’s why I kissed you.”
“All the more reason for us to end it now, before things get serious,” Dani said.
Archer took a deep breath and nodded. “I know.” They stared at each other for a few silent moments. Archer knew that what Dani had said made sense, but he just couldn’t let this go easily.
“What if…” Archer began, his intense gaze channeled directly into Dani’s brown eyes, “What if for tonight and tomorrow, we’re just two people on vacation who happened to meet? They know they’ll never see each other again, most likely, and they want to make the best of it.”
“After it’s all over, though, would you be able to go back to Enterprise and act like nothing ever happened between us?” Dani asked. “Because I’m not sure I could.” His proposal was tempting, but Dani knew herself too well to believe that things would be as simple as Archer posited. She shook her head. “Do yourself a favor, Jon – forget about me. You’ll save yourself some heartache.” She turned and quickly walked away from him, convinced that she’d made the right decision.