A/N: So I'm just gonna jump right into this rabbit hole even if the show later provides details that contradict the backstory I'm putting together. Because my muse is not going to let go of some Rios and Raffi friendship prequel fics. Since we know they "go way back," I'm going with the idea that they've known each other since the Academy, that they knew each other at their best, and the fact that they both ended up broken only increased their mutual understanding of that brokenness.

Disclaimer: I've constructed a timeline based on the information from canon, but let's face it, there's still a lot of gaps and a lot of this is just me making stuff up as I go. Hope it's enjoyable to read anyway! Also, it's been a while since I've seen any of the Trek shows and I haven't seen all of them, so apologies in advance if I get anything wrong.


"Orbits Crossing"

2370

Raffi walked at a harried pace down the sidewalk, shoes clacking crisply on the pavement. She was going to be so late for class. It wasn't even that she'd been goofing off and lost track of time; she'd been working on a project and had gotten absorbed chasing down all these tiny details that wove an intricate pattern in her head. She became oblivious to everything else around her when that happened.

But she could just imagine the looks and heckling she would get if she used that as her excuse. Yeah, she was late to class because she'd gotten caught up in an assignment. That was either incredibly lame or incredibly nerdy.

She looked down at her PADD and swiped through the information she'd been sifting through earlier. She hadn't finished, and the data was still swirling around in her head in a very distracting manner. She'd frankly be lucky if she could pay attention once she even got to class.

She wasn't watching where she was going, intent on her PADD. Perhaps some part of her assumed people would just see she was engrossed in something important and get out of her way.

Apparently that didn't apply to soccer balls.

The hit right smack on her head sent Raffi stumbling backward as her vision went white. The back of her heel caught on the edge of the sidewalk and then she was falling, landing on her ass on the lawn with an abrupt thud.

"Shit, I'm sorry," someone exclaimed. "Are you okay?"

Raffi gave herself a small shake to dispel the haze around her head—not wise. Her forehead was stinging sharply and she reached a hand up to touch it. She felt the presence of someone crouching beside her.

"Mierda," the voice cursed again. "Do I need to call a medic?"

That jolted her back to clarity. "What? No?" She immediately glowered at the young man kneeling beside her as she fumbled to regain her feet. He reached out to help and she shrugged him off. "What the hell are you doing?" she snapped, looking down first at the white and black patched ball and then searching for her data pad.

"Just having a game of soccer," he said contritely. "The shot went wide. I'm really sorry."

Raffi bent down and snatched up her PADD, looking it over critically for cracks. It looked intact. Lucky for this asshole. She glanced back at him and found him grimacing at her face.

"That looks like it hurts. I can walk you to the infirmary."

"It's fine," she said brusquely. "And I'm late."

"Are you sure?" he pressed.

"Yes." She inhaled sharply and tugged her shirt down to straighten out the creases.

He continued to regard her skeptically.

"And watch where you're playing," she added harshly as she turned to stride away.

"I did call out a warning," he replied, some of his earlier remorse sliding away. "Maybe you should watch out for your surroundings."

Raffi shot him a glower over her shoulder before marching away. Her concentration was completely addled now and she didn't even try looking at her work as she hurried to the lecture hall. She did, however, catch a glimpse of her reflection in the glass siding of the building, and there was a nice bright welt on her forehead.

The door made a very loud, very resounding noise when she pulled it open, ruining any chance at slipping in unobtrusively.

The professor glanced up, skewering her with an austere mien. "Cadet Musiker, how nice of you to join us," he intoned.

Raffi winced and quickly made her way down the hall steps to take a seat.

"I suppose you had something better to do than attend my lecture?" he went on.

"I, uh…got beaned in the head with a soccer ball," she said lamely.

There were a few snickers and an arched brow from the instructor, so she pointed to the obvious red mark on her head.

Any embarrassment she felt was overshadowed by the professor's subsequent loss for words.