One Day More
"How can I live when we are parted?
Tomorrow You'll be worlds away,
And yet with you,
My world has started."
He had left her once before. She remembered it vividly, so vividly it was as though the intervening years had never even happened. She remembered the pain he had put her through, the self-doubt, and the sadness. She remembered feeling -exactly- as she did at this moment.
He had hurt her in the past. Which was why she had resolved to keep herself at a distance from him now. And she had done well, she thought. She had kept him at a respectable arm's length during their service aboard the Enterprise. She had never let him so much as invade her personal space. Except once.
Once, after living through a shuttle crash and while mourning the death of her crewmate and friend, Tasha Yar; just once, had she let her guard down. She had been vulnerable, sad, and had needed a shoulder to cry on. His was the nearest, the strongest, and the most welcoming shoulder. And so she had turned to him. Out of need and despair, she had turned to him. And she had known the minute his arms were fully around her that she should not have done so.
His embrace was familiar. He was warm, and comforting. She had forgotten just how good it had felt to be in his arms. She had wanted to forget; she had made herself forget. But once she stepped into the comfort of his embrace once again, she almost couldn't bear the thought of stepping away. But she had to. It would have been easy to give in to nostalgia, to desire, to the magnetism the two of them admittedly still shared. But she could not allow herself to do that. She had to remain at a professional distance. She had to guard her heart, she had rationalized, from what she knew was coming.
What had just come.
Will had been offered his own command. The Starship Aries. She was a fine vessel, and Will would certainly make her an inspired Captain. And he would be leaving her once again.
She really had known this was coming. She had known all along. He had wanted nothing more in the entire time she had known him than to command his own Starship. That ambition had been the primary reason for every pain he had caused her from the very beginning.
And she had known, from the first moment their eyes had met on the bridge of the Enterprise, that all she had to do was manage to keep herself from him until that eventuality. And here it was before her; staring her in the face, and it hurt.
It hurt like hell. And she didn't understand why. She and Will were certainly not a couple. They were barely even friends. They had resigned themselves to uncomfortable silences and unspoken understandings. Why then was it killing her that he was leaving?
Maybe it was because he hadn't told her himself. She had known, of course. The Captain had discussed it with her, and Will would have known that. Perhaps that was why he hadn't come to her with the news. It was only through the unsolicited musings of Will's estranged father that she had learned of his acceptance of the position. Not that she had ever doubted he would accept. But she was certain that he would want to tell her himself.
But he hadn't. He had made a very good showing of avoiding her since he had been notified of his promotion. She solemnly hoped he would come to her. Although she had chosen not to seek him out for herself, she had made certain that she was accessible all day. They would be at Starbase Montgomery tomorrow, and then he would be gone. So she paced back and forth across the length of her small office, immersed in introspection, self-examination, and this awful gut feeling that his leaving just wasn't right.
She was so engrossed, in fact, that she had not so much as allowed her senses even their normal range. It came as a complete shock to her when the door chime rang. So much a shock, that it knocked her off balance and she found herself seated. She instinctively called out for whomever it was to,
"Come in." All of the sudden, Deanna was very glad she was seated. It was Will. He took one slow step into her office and looked into her eyes.
"I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye," he said to her. She wasn't sure how to respond.
"I don't like goodbyes," she told him, "how about, 'until next time". Will nodded,
"Until next time," he agreed. She stood up, now fully confident in her ability to remain on two feet, the initial shock of seeing him having subsided to some degree. She only had to play it cool for a few more minutes. After that, he would be gone and she could scream and cry all she wanted. But for now, she had to maintain the professional distance she had so carefully put between them.
"It's been a pleasure serving with you, Commander," she said to him, sounding as unaffected as she possibly could.
"That's mutual, counselor," he said back to her. He hated it more than anything, but if Deanna needed to keep up her professional decorum, even under these circumstances, he was not going to ask her to do otherwise. After all, he was the one who was leaving her. Again. She was biting her lip. He was deep in thought, and she could tell, but she hadn't the slightest idea what about. She looked into his cool blue eyes and suddenly realized that this was the first time they had been alone behind a closed door in the entire time they had served together aboard the Enterprise. She wondered if he was thinking the same thing. She tried to get a sense of what he was feeling. She couldn't.
"I'm supposed to know how everyone feels... but I... I can't read you right now," she admitted, timidly. She really did want to know how he felt, more than anything. But, unfortunately for her, he had remembered all of the techniques she had taught him so long ago for clearing his mind and shielding his emotions from those who wished to pry. He had become very adept at it. She wore it all over her face that she was hurt over her inabilty to sense him under the circumstances.
"Maybe your own feelings are getting in the way," he suggested, taking a tentative step toward her. She turned her back on him. She was not about to let him see the tears that had sprung into her eyes. She was not about to let him see how much she was hurting; how much his leaving was affecting her-again.
"My job is to help others sort out their emotions," she managed to say in as even a tone as she could muster, "My own feelings are beside the point."
"Not to me," he insisted, his voice strong and authoritative. He took a much more decisive step toward her. She was sure he had said something else as he moved closer to her, but she hadn't really heard him over the sob she was choking back.
"Are you feeling sad?" She asked, the tremor in her voice becoming more and more pronounced.
"Yes," was all he could say in reply.
"Me too," she admitted, a tear slipping down her cheek. He took the final step to close the distance between them and pulled her into his embrace. She accepted his gesture willingly. She wrapped her arms around his strong body and allowed herself to take comfort in the warmth of his arms around her. He whispered soothing words to her and softly kissed the top of her head. She could have stayed there forever; she -wanted- to stay there forever, and what's more she let herself want it.
"One More Day,
All on my own.
One more day with him not caring.
What a life I might have known,
But he never saw me there."
One. More. Day. Deanna paced across her cabin; three measured steps in each direction as she repeated the words that had become her mantra. One. More. Day. That was all she had. One more day with Will. One more day with her Imzadi, with the man who had made her into the person she was, with the man whom she loved beyond explanation and beyond comprehension; with the man who knew none of this.
He had no idea of the depth of her feelings. Of that she could be absolutely and positively sure. For, even in the rare and precious moments she had allowed him to be close to her; even in the tender moment they had just shared in her office, she had never let it slip that she still loved him.
The question was, should she? Should she tell him how she felt? He was leaving. He was going to find the destiny he had always sought. He deserved the realization of his dream. But she felt like she deserved something too; some reward for her decorum while the two of them served together; some consolation prize for losing the love of her life- again. And maybe, just maybe, she deserved to see him hurting as much as she was.
She knew he was sad in leaving. He had admitted that to her. But she thought for a second that, had she blurted out all of the raw emotion on her tongue, he would have felt some pang of desire to stay with her. If she had thrown him down on her couch and made love to him then and there, would that have changed his mind about leaving her? So many questions... and only one day to find any answers.
Or one more day to hide from her feelings. One more day to protect herself from herself, and to shield him from whatever it was the selfish and maniacal side of her thought she might subject him to. It really wouldn't do either of them any good to make his leaving any more difficult, she rationalized. Still, there were a lot of things she thought needed to be resolved. There were a lot of things she wanted to get off her chest.
There was so much between them that defied reason, feelings that the two of them had figured they had all the time in the universe to sort through. But they did not have all the time in the universe. What they had was one more day.
Twenty-four measly hours. Maybe less; she wasn't exactly sure when it was he would be beaming off the ship. What would he do if she were to come right out and confess everything to him? What would his reaction be if she told him just how deeply she still loved him? Would it just complicate things? Would he ask her to go with him? Or would he just leave again?
That's what scared her the most...would he just leave again? It was one thing for him to leave under the rule of her strict professional conduct. His leaving her now was only of slightly greater significance than his leaving any other member of the Enterprise crew (although she was sure no one else had gotten quite the farewell kiss she had). But if he left- knowing- exactly how she felt.... It would be like before.
Every time in her life that he had left her up until this point- both times to be exact... he had done it with full and complete knowledge of her unconditional and unyielding love for him. And he had left her anyway. So what would it change this time? Will was finally facing the greatest achievement in his career; the one thing that had taken him in directions that led away from her time and again. Would her making some grandiose and heartfelt confession of love change his desire to leave? She seriously doubted that.
Hell, once she had almost gotten married- right in front of him. But he hadn't wanted to do too much to stop it, afraid that any attachment would impede his direct path to the top of Starfleet. And so he would have let it happen, if fate hadn't intervened. But fate always seemed to intervene in favor of the two of them.
And fate was one thing Deanna Troi had absolute confidence in. One. More. Day. That wasn't enough time. That was not time enough for them to work anything out, they couldn't even list all of the issues that needed resolving between them. Was fate, trying to call her into action? Were the stakes raised just so that she and Will could reconcile their feelings for one another? Fate was sometimes a tricky thing.
Deanna stopped dead in her pacing. She had decided on a course of action. It would maybe save face, it would maybe touch him, and maybe- just maybe- nothing would happen at all. But the fact of the matter was, Deanna was doing the very least to see to it that fate had the chance to intervene on their behalf again.
She cleared her mind, slowed her breathing, and began to concentrate on the image of Will. Her mind's eye pictured him as he had been just a few moments ago in her office; tender, compassionate, and open to her. Once, she could have been certain he would have received her thought-cast, but now, she couldn't be so sure. She had only tried once since they had been serving together. The day the two of them had first seen one another in the turbolift, she had let him know that she hadn't fully let go of him. She was almost certain he had heard her that day. But that day, he had been eight inches from her and looking her square in the eye. She wasn't sure that she would be able to reach him decks away. Which is why, she figured, that she was leaving the situation entirely in the hands of fate.
Maybe she would never know if it had worked or not. And that would be alright. If he left for the Aries, then she could tell herself that he had not heard her, and then it would be okay. Yes. It would be okay if she thought he hadn't heard her. That was it. A brilliant solution, Deanna thought. She closed her eyes and concentrated very hard- after all, she may as well give it her best shot.
"Imzadi... Please... don't go- I need you" She sent to him. Now all she could do was wait and see what hand fate was going to deal her. Luckily, she would only have to wait one day.
"Will we ever meet again?
I was born to be with you.
And I swear I will be true."
He wasn't there. Deanna had prepared herself for such an eventuality, but still.... Will's departure hadn't been real until she had walked out of the turbolift and onto the bridge. And he wasn't there. They had reached Starbase Montgomery; where Will was to disembark. She had come to the bridge, a very peculiar feeling pecking at the deepest recesses of her head. So she had come to the bridge, half expecting to see him in his usual seat, wearing his usual grin. But he wasn't there.
Everyone else was there: Captain Picard was exactly where he always was, Data was at ops, Worf was at tactical, Wesley was at the conn, and Geordi occupied his sometime station at the aft engineering console. But Will wasn't there. He had really left, he was really gone. The empty chair to Picard's right bore silent testimony to that. Will had gone to seek out his destiny, and he had left her here to find hers. She went to her seat on the Captain's left and folded her hands in her lap. She wouldn't dare let the rest of the staff know for a second that she had only come there because some ridiculous part of her thought Will was going to be there, having given up his lifelong dream to be with her.
'What a stupid fantasy', she thought to herself as she heard Lt. Worf's deep voice announce,
"Starbase Montgomery briefing specialist and analytical team have beamed down, sir." Picard stood up and turned to Geordi,
"What were the analytical team's findings?" he asked. Deanna was peripherally aware of what had been going on for the past day or so, but when Geordi answered,
"They suggested we reprogram the system to correct the readout variables," She didn't rightly care what he was talking about.
"Precisely what Data recommended, as I recall" Picard answered, Deanna still only paying half attention. Picard then added, "But it did give Commander Riker the time he needed to consider his promotion. Now that he's accepted it, we can leave him at Starbase Montgomery." She hadn't wanted to hear that. She had not wanted to hear that in the least. She slumped back in her seat, resigned. She knew he would go. She had always known.
But last night, she had really felt like she had gotten through to him- like he must have received what she sent. But he couldn't have. Everything cool and rational in her head told her that. But still... there was this gnawing feeling in her stomach, like there was something deeper to what was happening. She was startled by the sound of the turbolift opening behind her. She turned to see who was there, as did everyone. No one else was expected.
Deanna stared at the aft turbolift, in joy and disbelief. Had he come back to her? Had he come back -for- her? A million thoughts and questions were fighting their ways to the surface, and she couldn't seem to get a handle on what she thought would be proper to say to him in this, most peculiar circumstance. She was caught completely off guard when she heard, for the first time in years, his voice sounding clear and strong in her head,
"Imzadi... I heard you." His unexpected thought-cast sent shivers through her entire body and she tried in vain to focus herself and send back. He had looked away from her, to the Captain, who said,
"Captain," Will regarded him with the same measure of coolness he would have used any day, betraying none of the conversation he was still carrying on in his head. Deanna finally got herself together and asked him silently,
"Why are you here?" Will answered her out loud, in the form of a request directed to the Captain, whose gaze he had not broken,
"With your permission, I've decided to remain on the Enterprise."
"Granted," Picard answered without hesitation. She couldn't believe her ears. He was staying. He was actually staying. He had just turned down the promotion that would have fulfilled his lifelong ambition. All she could think was 'why?'.
"Thank You, sir," Will said aloud as he slowly crossed to his usual seat on the Captain's right. And to Deanna, he sent, "Do you have to ask?" So he had come back for her; because of her. He loved her. He must have. A person doesn't walk away from achieving a lifelong goal for anything less. "Take us out of orbit, Mr. Crusher," Will ordered, as though this were any other mission; any other day. But it wasn't. And everyone knew it.
"Terminating synchronous orbit," Wesley answered, unsure of any other way he had ought to react. Riker addressed him again.
"Set a course for Beta Kupsic," then he turned to Picard, "That is still our next destination?" The Captain gave him ana affirmative nod. "Velocity- warp factor five," Will finished his order. Wesley again responded in the only way he could think to,
"Course and speed set." An uncomfortable pause set in as everyone tried to figure out just what they were supposed to say next. It was Captain Picard who took the lead and asked,
"Any particular reason for this change of heart?" Will looked directly at Deanna as he offered the Captain his answer,
"Motivated self-interest," he said, "Right now, the best place for me to be is right here." Deanna knew that no one else heard the last bit of this exchange. His last word, the defining sentiment of why he had decided to stay was directed souly to her. His voice sounded his reason to her in her head, bringing tears into her glad eyes. It was the only word he needed to say, "Imzadi".
"Do I stay and do I dare?
My place is here... with you."