I've Been Here Before
The man says things he needs to say,
turns to smile as he stands at my door.
And then I see his eyes are gray,
Oh god, Ive been here before.
He was giving her that look. That signature Will Riker youre about to be cornered look. It made her physically ill to look back at him. She had done a more than admirable job at averting his gaze over the past several days and she figured it was only a matter of time before he backed her into a corner and forced conversation upon her. It wasnt like they needed to talk about anything. What had transpired between the two of them had been nothing more than an unfortunate side affect of their exposure to the mutant Tsiolkovsky virus. That was all. Nothing more.
Sure, okay... so shed thrown herself at him- in full view of a large group of people. But he, thankfully, had known that she was not herself, and stopped her before she had the opportunity to further embarrass herself. Since when has Will Riker been one to rebuff the advances of a willing female... even under these circumstances? No matter. He had realized she needed help, he had gotten her to sickbay, she had been cured, end of story. Right?
Apparently not, according to Will Riker. The Captain had said something to them on the bridge just after the incident about avoiding temptation and Deanna could feel Wills eyes upon her in a manner that made her feel as though he were imagining her without the benefit of her uniform. Imagining- remembering- whatever. It meant nothing. Deanna kept telling herself that- it meant nothing. William T. Riker had not meant anything to her in a very long time. She knew as much because it had been her conscious decision that it was to be that way. Will Riker had no affect on her, he was no more important to her day than what she had for breakfast or which shade of lipstick she chose to wear. He was just another person aboard the ship. Just another officer.
Why then, at moments such as this, when his gaze fixed itself on her, could she feel the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end? Why did she get goosebumps every time he accidentally brushed up against her? And why was she practically running to her quarters to avoid his passing close to her as he made his way down the hallway in the opposite direction?
All of the sudden the why of the matter was of no consequence anymore. His long legs and quick strides had allowed him to cut her off at the pass as it were. He made it to her door an instant before she did, and blocked her entry. He looked down at her as his most innocent and disarming smile crossed his face. Deanna was having none of it.
If youll excuse me , Commander, she said coolly as she tried to worm her way around him. To her dismay, he did not budge.
Uh-uh, he said to her shaking his head in a boyishly charming, albeit annoying gesture. Deanna dropped back a step and looked at him as sternly as she could.
Have you really regressed so far as to resort to grunts? she shot.
Well then, you do still possess the power of speech. Glad to hear it. Now if youll excuse me, she tried once again to slip past him and into the relative peace of her quarters.
Deanna, I just want to talk to you, he implored, please? She stepped away from him again, crossing the hall to lean on the opposite wall.
So talk, she allowed, crossing her arms over her chest. He smiled at her and asked,
Here? She nodded, not moving. Id rather not, he confided. I mean, isnt there someplace where we could be... well... alone? he gestured with his head to her quarters just behind him. Deanna just scowled.
Youd like that, wouldnt you? she challenged. He wasnt sure what had made her this confrontational. It was obvious from her tone of voice that she was afraid he was going to try something as soon as he got her alone. He didnt really blame her. In truth, he had entertained the thought more than once since their recent reunion aboard the Enterprise. But she had been quick to let him know that his advances would be unwelcome. So he hadnt so much as maneuvered them into a position where anything could happen. And hadnt he handled the situation admirably when she had come to him begging to be alone with his thoughts? He certainly thought so. In fact, he was still rather proud of his self-restraint in light of that , most incendiary, situation. Will Riker was renowned for many things; his self-control regarding women was NOT one of them. He thought he had handled himself quite well. And if Deanna didnt, well, he was just going to have to act properly for her some more.
Deanna... he began again, I just think we need to have a talk. A long, serious talk. Thats all Im after here. I swear. God knows theres enough history between us to kill us both. But this isnt about history. And it isnt my lame attempt at being charming. he looked her square in the eye, If I were trying to get you into bed, youd know it, he joked... sort of. Deanna cocked her head to one side and smiled slightly at the truth in that statement. Will Riker could be a lot of things, but subtle, he wasnt.
Youre probably right, Deanna conceded, dropping her arms to her side and standing up straight. Were going to be serving together, we need to figure out how thats going to work. She bit her lip in thought.
Have dinner with me? he suggested. She frowned at him. She had a very clear memory of the first time he had asked her to share a meal with him, and the disastrous consequences that almost had. In ten-forward, he qualified. How about that? Would you consent to being alone with me in a well-lit, public place? Deanna rolled her eyes at him - that had been a lame attempt at being charming. But he had a point. The ten-forward lounge was someplace where they could enjoy relative privacy while still in the midst of a large crowd of people.
Alright, she agreed, Nineteen hundred. Ill meet you there. Will nodded.
Ill be there, he told her. He made a grand, sweeping gesture with his arms as he stepped out from in front of her door. She quickly moved toward her now accessible door. Once she was safely past it, she turned to catch one last glimpse of Well Riker; his blue eyes were dancing and his smile was making her knees go weak. She hated that. She managed to shoot him an annoyed grin as the doors swished shut between them.
To want him makes no sense at all.
And then we talk,
and out his feelings pour.
all my defenses fall.
Oh god- Ive been here before.
The meal had been unexpectedly pleasant, Deanna had to admit. She hadnt been exactly sure what to expect when Will had invited her to dinner in ten-forward. Part of her had expected him to launch some grand plan to have the room empty but for the two of them. He hadnt. In fact, he hadnt so much as tried to flirt with her.
Deanna couldn't quite put her finger on why, but something seemed a little off about the whole evening. It was as thought Will was doing everything in his power to keep from doing anything she might construe as a pass. And he had done an awfully good job if that was in fact what he had been trying to do. And it was positively maddening. She had gone in there armed to the teeth with reasons why the two of them should not even consider a romance aboard the Enterprise , she had prepared a mental list of arguments for why their attempting a relationship was entirely out of the question. She hadnt needed a one of them.
In fact, she hadnt needed much more than casual conversation. In truth, Will hadnt even brought up the question of the two of them. He had instead confined the conversation to the mundane details of shipboard life, adding an occasional commentary on how much work he had put into planning their meal. That had been extraordinary. Will had remembered her penchant for eating, she had to give him credit for that. And she had to give him credit for the delectable epicure he had set before her that evening. He had made quite an effort. But it didnt rally matter. The dessert course itself would have been enough for Deanna.
Before her sat the most enormous hunk of chocolate that she had ever seen in her entire life. Its many layers of gooey goodness oozed temptingly onto the small plate, which didnt really look big enough to support the massive dessert. Deannas eyes grew as big as saucers as she studied the concoction, unsure of exactly where she should start. Will eyed her gleefully. He had always found it enjoyable to watch Deanna eat. Her tiny frame did not in the least betray her voracious appetite. She bit her lip and drummed her fingers on the table as her other hand reached for the spoon.
You can eat it, its okay, he teased her. She looked back at him as though he was one of her patients.
I cant just eat it any old way, she told him. Chocolate is a very serious thing.
Oh, he laughed in response, I guess I missed that day at the Academy. Deanna shoveled the first bite into her mouth.
No doubt you were otherwise occupied, she goaded, her mouth still full.
I dont think I like what youre insinuating. he told her, leaning across the table and wiping a stray crumb of chocolate from the corner of her mouth with his napkin. she giggled a little and dug her spoon back in to her dessert.
Im not insinuating anything, Commander, she qualified, Im saying outright that you were quite the ladies man at Starfleet Academy, and dont you try to tell me otherwise. You still had a reputation when I got there.
Youre lying, he accused, leaning across the table on his elbows.
Betazoids dont lie, she reminded him, And get your elbows off the table, its rude. He leaned back in his chair and laughed,
Yes maam, he agreed, holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender. Deanna couldnt help but laugh at that.
Thats better, she told him. She set the spoon across the now empty dessert plate. Will could hardly believe his eyes when he saw how quickly she had devoured the monstrous sweet. What was that? she asked him, gesturing to the chocolate smeared dish in front of her.
Im not telling, he teased, If you want another one, youll just have to get it from me. He cocked his head sideways and shot her his most disarming smile. It got a reaction from parts of her body that Deanna Troi had just as soon have nothing to do with. She smiled back in as unaffected a manner as she could. It was a damned good thing that Will was not an empath. If he had any idea what nonsensical feelings were fighting her for control, he would have been thoroughly amused.
Will stood from his chair. He held out his hand to her and asked, Take a walk with me? In an almost automatic gesture, she stood as well and took hold of his outstretched hand.
She felt her whole body tense up as their hands made contact. There was something almost electric about his touch. Still- after all this time, she still teetered on loss of control when he had done no more than smile and touch her hand. She felt like she was about to get herself into some serious trouble. She could have just surrendered. She could have just let herself go, let her tears fall, and let herself sink into his strong arms like a very vocal part of her was urging her to do.
She knew the Tsiolkovsky virus acted on the brain like alcohol. She also knew, being a trained psychologist, that no one under the influence of alcohol or any other drug did anything they wouldnt have considered dong when they were entirely sober. Deanna saw this a huge problem. She obviously, somewhere in the deepest part of herself, still wanted him. And it irked her. It was a very irksome fact indeed.
She knew, in ever fiber of her logical and intelligent self, that being with Will Riker again could cause her nothing but pain and sorrow. Okay, so maybe not ONLY pain and sorrow, but that was where the relationship would, undoubtedly, end. It made no sense then that she would feel her mind careening off in inappropriate and nonsensical directions. And from only the touch of his hand?
It was a very good thing, she rationalized, that she had become aware of this sickening residual attraction to him. It wasnt as though she hadnt prepared herself for such a possibility. She certainly remembered the first time she had fallen under the spell of Will-the thrill I never met a woman I didnt like Riker. Shed been kicking herself for that lapse in judgment ever since. And she was still paying for it.
She could still feel the pain well up in her chest whenever she remembered the day he had left her on Betazed. She could still feel the tears stinging her eyes when she thought of his waning attentions to her as the years passed. Her most vivid memories of Will Riker were painful ones. Which is why it was so damned infuriating that her body was able to ignore those memories outright and absolutely thrill in his touch.
They walked. For an hour or more they walked. Will spent much of the time pointing out new design features exclusive to Galaxy Class Starships. Deanna couldnt have cared less. She was glad for once of the fact that Will had always enjoyed the sound of his own voice. Deanna used the time to once again acclimate herself to the feeling of him next to her. Eventually her heart rate slowed back to its regular pace and she felt her body temperature return to normal.
She was glad when she finally worked herself back onto an even keel. She found herself gradually able to enjoy his company. And she was glad. They had just entered the Enterprise arboretum when the tone of the conversation shifted.
Deanna realized instantly when it did. He had led them to a secluded corner of the arboretum and stopped. It was the first time they had paused for more than a second since they had left the dinner table.
Are you having a good time? he asked her. She smiled up at him.
Yes, I am, she answered, sincerely.
Good, he affirmed, bringing her hand up and kissing it. She could sense what was about to come next and decided to speak first.
I, um, she suddenly found herself ever so slightly tongue-tied, I , um, I want to thank you for the way you handled the...er... the situation in Engineering.... Her eyes were downcast, she was clearly embarrassed. But he couldnt resist the opportunity. It had not been often over the years that he had the upper hand in matters pertaining to Deanna Troi and he wasnt about to let this one get past him.
You mean when you leapt in to my arms and begged to be alone with my mind, and I did the honorable thing instead of what I really wanted to do? Deanna rolled her eyes at him. He really could be infuriating.
You know what Im talking about, she qualified.
Are you proud of me? he asked, leaning in closer to her. She giggled a little; infuriating but charming.
If I tell you yes will you drop it? she laughed.
Nope, he answered, Im going to be reminding you of that for a very long time.
I wish you wouldnt, she asked, almost flirting.
I wish for a few things, too, he told her. Deanna looked into this eyes, she was almost certain she wasnt ready to hear what was coming next.
Will... she started. He didnt let her finish.
You know, I still love you Deanna, he blurted out. Her breath caught in her throat. Part of her wanted to slap him. But part of her... part of her wanted to swallow him whole. Part of her wanted to kiss him with a voracity she had never known she possessed; to touch his body and his mind in the way they both knew only she could; to make love to him for days without stopping. Those two facets of her body were battling each other so fiercely that she couldnt think clearly as he bent down to kiss her.
The mans all wrong.
Thats all thats true.
And what is worse... this time....
Since its wrong,
before we start,
why should I rush to prove that I can break my heart
She didnt have but a split second to think. Not hat she hadnt been thinking about this for years now, but it was only in that last instant that things came clear for her. She stepped away from him just as his lips were about to meet hers.
We shouldnt do this, she whispered to him through the shivers she was trying her best to control.
Im sorry , Deanna, I just...
Dont... dont apologize, she told him. she wrapped her arms around herself.
Good. Because Im not sorry, Deanna. Im not. I want...
I know what you want, Will, she assured, I mean, I think its pretty obvious... what you want.
Deanna, thats not fair.
I know, I didnt mean it like that. I just meant- hell, I dont know what I meant. Will, she looked at him with a stern desperation in her eyes. Will, we cant do this.
You dont have to finish, Deanna, he told her, I know the rest.
No, she countered, I dont think you do.
Tell me, he shot.
Cant, or wont? he challenged. She could feel her chest welling up and she did her best to keep her voice even,
I cant, Will. There... there arent ...words. he reached forward and gripped her shoulders, tight. He looked deep into her eyes.
Then tell me- without words- imzadi, he implored. She knew what he was asking. She knew that she could... do what he was asking. She could speak to him, with her mind. She had- already, just weeks ago when they had first met again on board the Enterprise. But she couldnt open herself up to him like that again. That one moment; those few words she had sent to him had been enough to prove to her in living color that the wounds were still too fresh. She squeezed her eyes shut tight, but one tear managed to escape from between her pursed lids as she shook her head and whispered,
Deanna, please, he whispered back. She bit her bottom lip in a vain effort to stop it from trembling,
I dont know how to say this, she spat out as quickly as she could, to avoid a sob interrupting her train of thought, But its like... I look at you- and- Im just waiting... for you to go away again. I thought I had gotten used to living without you. I HAD gotten used to it. But then, all of the sudden, here you were- right in front of me again- and I didnt know what to do. Its like youre not even real- like youre not really here. Like, at any minute youre just going to disappear. He moved his hands from their firm hold on her shoulders to gently cup her face.
Deanna, Im here, he assured her. She looked, sadly, into his eyes.
No, youre not, she choked, not really- not all of you.
Youre wrong, Deanna,
And what if I am, she spat back, How long do you really think youll be here? How long do you ever stay anywhere? How long until Im wondering when will be the next time I have to tell you goodbye, and the time after that ,and the time after that?
Thats not important now, Deanna, he challenged, I am here, with you, right now, in THIS moment.
Havent we put each other through enough by giving in to moments, Will? Havent we hurt each other enough? She was very upset, and Will could tell that she was struggling to keep her voice low to keep from being overheard by the arboretum keepers who were watering a flower bed just a few feet away.
I dont want to hurt you, Deanna- I never wanted to hurt you.
I know that, she conceded. She turned away from him. And Im not blaming you. Im just... I cant just give in to loving you. I cant, Will- not now- not...yet.
Then you admit that you still love me, he quizzed.
Of course I still love you, she exhorted, turning back around to face him. You had ought to know that. It didnt just go away, Will- imzadi just doesnt go away. But I have a life now, Will; a good one. I have a career, I think I have a real future here.
And I dont think Ive told you how proud I am of you for that, he interrupted. She smiled at him for the first time in minutes.
You should be. You know youre the reason for all of this, right? Her tambour had switched completely, her voice sounded sweet, genuine. He shook his head and smiled at her.
Naah, he countered, This was inside you all the time. I just showed you where to find it. He looked down at her, she was, to his surprise, still smiling. She stayed silent for a few minutes, but her focus never left his eyes. She reached up and brushed a wayward lock of hair from off of his forehead. He caught her hand as it left his face and held on to it, tight. Cmon, he finally whispered, tugging on her hand as he walked them both toward the door. They were several steps down the hall before he spoke again. I guess Im going to have to prove myself to you all over again, he told her. And I guess I deserve that. More importantly, you deserve that. I screwed up, Deanna. I know that. I screwed up huge. And I wouldnt have blamed you if you had told me to go straight to hell and never speak to you again.
You know I couldnt do that, she assured him.
I know, Deanna. But still, I wouldnt have blamed you. And now, that I have you back in my life again, I want to make everything up to you I know thats impossible to do- I cant even imagine how much I hurt you. But I want the chance to try. And, he stopped them both and spun her around to face him, Im willing to wait for that chance- until youre ready. When youre ready to let me back into your life... Ill be here. Until then, Ill keep my distance.
You dont have to do that, she countered, Please, dont. Just let me get used to this again. Time has a way of working things out. Who knows where this could wind up... but,
For now, its going nowhere, he finished her sentence for her, letting go of her hand and continuing to make his way down the hall. She took a few quick steps to catch up with him.
You still want to be a starship Captain, she said to him- as though he had momentarily forgotten. He just nodded. You could be gone tomorrow, and I could have my heart broken again. He kept nodding. And that wouldnt do either one of us any good. Will let out a tiny laugh.
How is it that youre always right, Deanna?
Im not always right, she told him as they stepped into the turbolift and he ordered it toward their respective quarters on
I seem to recall, she continued, saying more than once, that I was very definitely NOT going to fall in love with Will Riker. He laughed out loud at that.
You should have taken your own advice on that one, Deanna, he jested.
Don't even joke about that, Will. Im not sorry for any of it.
Not ANY of it? he asked in disbelief. She looked up at him and smiled.
Im not saying it was all fun and frolic, Will. But Im not sorry.
Im only sorry for how it ended, he told her.
I will admit that wasnt my favorite part of our relationship. But the truth is, Will- I wouldnt trade one day of loving you for all the tears Ive cried.
I mean it, Deanna, he reinforced, When youre ready... the doors to the turbolift swished open to reveal the hallway of deck eight. The two of them stepped out of the lift and toward their quarters. They seemed to walk more and more slowly the closer they came to her door- which was just one door down from his. They were silent until they reached the patch of hallway that was just in front of her cabin. The doors swished open in response to her proximity, and she jumped a little. She still wasnt used to starship life.
Well, Commander, she turned to him, I guess this is good night. He smiled grimly as he reached for her hands.
I guess so, he confirmed. He was looking at her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable in her own skin. Her body seemed to have been absent from their most recent conversation. She knew in an instant that he was going to try to kiss her again. And she hated it, but she knew that she was going to let him. So it surprised her to no end when he brought her hand to his lips and gave it a feather-light kiss.
Good night, Counselor . he said to her tenderly.
Good night, she answered, reclaiming her hands and stepping back into her cabin. She felt an overwhelming sense of relief as the doors swished shut between them. Deanna let out the breath she didnt know she had been holding as she fell in to the first chair she came to. I can do this, she told herself out loud. I am going to do this. I am going to be strong. I am not going to give in- not this time. Ive done fine without him for years now. I do not need him now. She could feel the tears beginning to well up again. She didnt even bother to fight them- there was no one there to see. A situation that was of her own doing. But she found a measure of comfort in that. She had survived an entire night with him. The first of, what she knew, would probably be many. And she was very little worse for the wear. She looked out her window at the vastness of the stars streaking outside her window and marveled for a minute that, in a universe this enormous, she and Will had found themselves together again. This was going to be interesting. But it was going to be all right.
The man leaves
and Im on my own.
I sit here,
and simply watch the door.
And tell my self, Im fine alone!
Ive been here before.
It wont be easy,
Its never that easy.
Youd think so but no- oh no,
Ive been here before.