Dani didn’t remember going to sleep, but when she woke up, she was in her quarters onboard Enterprise again. Had what she’d just experienced in Archer’s bedroom – his bedroom in San Francisco – been real? Or had it only been a dream?
“Archer to Janeway.”
Dani rose from her bed and walked over to the comm unit on the wall. “I’m here, Jon,” she said.
“This may sound a little strange,” Archer began.
“I bet it won’t,” Dani said. “I just had a really strange dream, and you were in it…but I don’t think it was a dream.”
“It wasn’t,” Archer said. “It really happened.”
Dani looked at the chronometer on the desk. Any minute now, Kyle would be setting their plan in motion to steal the temporal transporter. But after her and Jon’s visit with Daniels, she knew that couldn’t happen. She must prevent Kyle from going through with the plan.
“Jon, I’ve got to go,” Dani said. “I’ve got to stop Kyle from doing something.”
“I don’t have time to explain right now. I’ll fill you in as soon as I can.”
“Don’t do it,” Dani said. She’d caught up with Kyle just as he was about to walk into Engineering.
“Why not?” Kyle asked, turning around to face her. “You can’t tell me you don’t want to go home?”
“You know I do,” Dani said. “But this isn’t the way to get there.” She stepped closer to him and lowered her voice. “There have been some developments that I think you should know about.”
Archer had wasted no time summoning his senior officers to the bridge and setting his own plan into motion.
“The circuitry in there isn’t compatible with our technology,” Archer said. “We’ll have to create an interface.”
“What for?” Hoshi asked.
“We’re going to be retrieving some Suliban data discs,” Archer said. “I have no doubt you’ll be able to handle the content, but before you can do that, we’ll have to find a way to access the data.”
“And Daniels claims this is Suliban technology?” T’Pol asked.
“Everything he’s told me has checked out so far,” Archer said. “I have no reason to doubt him about this.”
“We’ll do our best, Captain,” Hoshi said. Archer began to head to the turbolift.
“Captain,” T’Pol began, “the Vulcan ship we were headed for, it’s no doubt detected we’ve altered course.”
Archer stopped walking and turned to Hoshi. “Have they tried to hail us?” he asked.
Hoshi shrugged with mock innocence. “I wouldn’t know, sir. Our comm is on the fritz.”
Dani and Kyle followed Archer into the turbo lift. “I think Kyle and I should be the ones to retrieve the discs from the Suliban,” Dani proposed once the doors closed behind them. “We have experience with their ships – I do, at least. I can’t speak for Kyle.”
Kyle nodded. “I’m more than qualified,” he confirmed. “We’ll leave it at that.”
Dani looked at Archer. “We’re not even supposed to be here,” she said. “So it would be minimal risk.”
“It would not be a minimal risk,” Archer countered.
Dani’s brow knitted in confusion. “Sir?”
The turbo lift came to a stop, and the doors slid open. Archer looked at Kyle. “Could you give us a moment, please?” he requested.
Kyle nodded. “Of course,” he said. He stepped out of the lift, leaving Dani and Archer alone as the lift doors closed again.
“I don’t understand,” Dani said. “What is it about my plan that doesn’t make sense? I honestly can’t see how this doesn’t mitigate the risk for you.”
“I think there’s one hell of a risk to you,” Archer said. “These people are serious. If they catch you…there’s no telling what they’ll do to you.”
“This isn’t my first mission like this,” Dani said.
“I realize that,” Archer said. “I know that’s how you ended up here. But I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if anything happened to you, especially because of me.”
“It wouldn’t be because of you,” Dani said. “I’m volunteering.”
“Dani,” Archer said, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Dani leaned back against the turbolift wall. “Let’s say something happens to me,” she proposed. “Wouldn’t that make some of your problems go away? You wouldn’t have to worry about trying to send me back to my own time. And that would be one less thing to distract you from your duties.”
Archer closed his eyes. “I was wrong,” he said. “I was upset, and I didn’t mean it. I regret saying it.” He stepped toward Dani. “What I don’t regret is any moment I’ve spent with you. I’ve cherished them.”
Neither Dani nor Archer noticed that the turbolift had begun to move again after Kyle had gotten off, and they were surprised when the doors opened and someone almost stepped into the turbolift with them. Archer and Dani both flashed the young man a look that told him he’d better not step onto the turbolift. The man, a crewman, seemed to understand and nodded. He took a step back and let the turbolift doors close.
Archer turned his attention back to Dani and stroked her face. “I may not get another chance to say this,” he said. “I love you, Dani.”
“Don’t say that,” Dani said.
“You’ve only known me for a few months. How could you possibly know that?”
“When you know something, and you feel it, you don’t need a lot of time to figure it out,” Archer said. “You don’t feel the same way?”
“I do. But it’s not fair because I’m going to have to leave you – one way or another,” Dani said. She pressed a button on the wall, halting the turbolift at the current level, and she stepped out.