Title:  Itís All Coming Back
Author: AngelWings
Rating: PG-13 to be safe
Summary: Takes place after the events of Insurrection. Deannaís POV.

Thought you were history with the slamming of the door/and I made myself so strong again somehow/and I never wasted any of my time on you since then/but when you hold me like this/and when you touch me like that/it was gone with the wind and it's all coming back to me/I can barely recall/but it's all coming back to me now-Celine Dion

    I waited a week. 7 days. Do you know how long that is? No, I don't suppose you do. I waited a week before I went to his quarters to have it out.

    My heart thrums in my ears as I lift my hand to knock. I have no idea what I will find there. I don't know if I will be welcomed or pushed away again, held or dismissed. For the first time, I have no idea what Will Riker is feeling.

    I've shut off our connection before. It shouldn't hurt so much to do so now, shouldn't cause this ache rooted deep inside of me. My Betazoid senses are a part of me, but using them would be unfair. I am not like Aiden (trade negotiator, insert name); I do not use my advantage to steer people towards feeling what I want them to feel.

    I don't know why I slept with him. I don't know why I told him I'd been waiting for him. I think some part of me was desperate, afraid that no one would ever love me again. My first real love, the first person I opened my heart and soul to, threw them away. I didn't understand. I still don't. Anyway, I made the right decision then. I made the only decision I could make. And I'm glad I did it.

    And then I fell for Worf. I was in love with him-at least that's what I tell myself-even if it wasn't as all-consuming as my love for Will. Even if we weren't soul mates. He made me happy, or at least happier than I had been, and I believe I made him happy as well. We had a kind of symbiotic relationship, if you will. It gave me a moment's surprise when it was called off; I'm ashamed to say not much more.

    Imzadi. A strange term for a strange occurrence. One unexpected, unplanned, even unwanted. But there nonetheless. I think back to that naive girl training at the college, the one so in love with the stranger from another world. The one who thought they would be together forever. He told her that, and she believed it. And she told him. At night, still flying somewhere in that other world, still seeing the places he'd gone and in turn planting her own images in his mind, they'd tell each other of their lives, separate in the past and together in the future. It was the only future either of them could bare to imagine.

    But it grew to be too much, too soon. The girl and the boy, hardly out of childhood, grew afraid. They couldn't stand being apart, but ached when they were together. What they had was wonderful, and pure, and burned bright as a star inside of her, but thoughts of the future had begun to intrude. Could she really live like this, forever and ever, the way they planned? What about finishing school, what about raising a family one day? And him traveling around the universe without her, could she handle that? The doubts flooded into the space that had once been so bright, so carefree. And he had his own doubts.

    His trips began to take longer. She began to get involved with the school again, instead of spending absolutely every moment possible with him. And one day, things came to a head. On that day he left her.

    She woke up scared and panting, her mind shying away from a dream in which he was boarding a starship that would take him away from her forever. She sat up and quickly realized he was missing. Her terror grew. She spotted a note and snatched it with trembling fingers. She flung herself into bed after reading it. She had dreamed the truth. He was gone from her life.

    That little girl was me. I remember her, I remember what it was like to have faith in the universe and life itself. I don't anymore. After Will left, I had to remember how to live for myself again. It was hard. That first week was the hardest. I couldn't stand to go to classes; I stayed in my apartment all day. I stopped eating and started sleeping 15 hours a day. When I slept I could imagine that he was still there with me; I could sink into his arms and pretend. I lost weight. I stopped having any interest whatsoever in the world. My friend Alondra grew so concerned about me that she convinced me to go to my mother's for a visit.

    It worked. I healed, mostly. I found ways to live without my Imzadi. I went back to school and forced myself to concentrate. I began to forget for a minute, an hour, a day. I went on dates. I shoved the hole he had left in me out of sight and covered it up. I did a pretty good job, too.

    I never expected to see him again. Certainly not aboard the same starship I was to be serving for who knew how long on! I would have to smile, act normal, when inside I was seething? In that one moment of recognition, he tore more holes in the shields I'd built up than....well, suffice it to say I could barely stand to be around him. I would go, do my shift, and rush back to my quarters to have a good cry. I couldn't seem to stop crying. Being near him was and is still like putting my emotions on an amplifier. I couldn't suppress them, couldn't ignore them, so I hid them. And I learned to cope.

    To my surprise, we actually became friends. Good ones. It was something we'd never been before. We'd skipped that stage and gone right to lovers with one charged glance. But now we had a chance to make up for lost time. We discovered little things about each other, and had fun playing small jokes on the others. They never could figure out how we read each others' minds so effectively. I learned to laugh. I learned to trust him again.

    I learned that there are many different facets to love. You can love a person but have it be out of loneliness, or fear, or just the need to have someone there for you, someone's arms around you to block out the night. That was Worf. And then there's the hormone-driven kind-Aiden. I was lonely and frustrated and recognized someone who could possibly match me in strength and will, and Voila-you have a relationship. One built on all the wrong things, but hey. I never claimed to be perfect.

    I don't know when it was that I fell in love with Will all over again. I didn't just look up one day and think, Oh, I'll fall in love with you today. I know when I realized it, though. Worf was on Deep Space Nine. We were playing blackjack, with the usual crowd-Jordi, Beverly, Data (he was hopeless at cards, but made up for it with his ability to effectively disguise his emotions), the Captain. He and Dr. Crusher had been looking at each other strangely since they got back from being kidnapped. I still don't know what that was about, to my endless chagrin.

    Will and I were the last ones in the game. I looked at him and looked at my cards. I had 19, but I knew it was entirely possible Will's hand was better. He's still the best and luckiest card player I've ever met, save for Aiden, and he cheated. It was late. I was tired. Will had a devilish gleam in his eye; he had a good hand. I decided to fold.

    Will grinned and turned over his hand. He had a 17. I dropped my head into my hands and smiled wryly. He laughed. He turned to ask whether anyone wanted to play another hand. He asked me last, and our eyes met.

    I looked into those bright blue eyes that had enraptured me so deeply as a girl and felt my stomach flip over. I had the sudden and irrational urge to kiss him right there, to lean forward and press my lips against his soft mouth and fall into him like I used to. I wanted him, but it was more. I wanted to feel his mind merged with mine as his arms entwined around me. I wanted to bury my face in his chest and inhale the scent of him, to see if it was the same as I remembered. I wanted...

    Beverly snapped her fingers in front of my face, and I came back to myself. I saw with embarrassment and just a hint of fear that everyone was staring at me. I smoothed my features and calmed my frantically racing heartbeat. They couldn't tell, could they? They couldn't tell that I was in love with him, right?

    The thought echoed in me. I was in love with him. Oh, God. I got up and, throwing some random excuse over my shoulder, walked out of the dining hall. Someone called to me if I was all right; I nodded and focused on keeping my pace steady and my legs moving. I walked down the hall, into the elevator, out of the elevator, down another hall and straight to my bathroom, where I proceeded to throw up the contents of several days' worth of meals. I finally finished, took off my clothes, and climbed into bed.

    I wasn't planning on telling him. Not ever. I didn't want to risk my heart again. But when we went to the Ba'aku planet, and everyone seemed happier than usual, and I felt young again....I don't know what happened. He came to me, and we played around, and he kissed me, and it all flooded back. After that, I was a goner.

    So now, here we are. I don't know if the path ends here or if we're going to start off on a new one together. I only know that I love him, but I also know that may not be enough. 

    He pulls open the door as soon as I lift my hand to knock. Just standing there, face to face, tugs at me. I am the first to look away.

    "Come in," he says finally, gesturing to his quarters. I walk in calmly, carefully-my legs seem to be made of jelly and I'm afraid I'll trip. I perch on the edge of his bed.

    "So," I say, knowing I sound like an idiot. "How are you?"

    "All right."

    "That's good." God, we both sound like idiots.



    "You go first," I tell him.

    "Okay." He takes a deep breath. "I don't quite know how to say this, but I have to get it out. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how things ended when we were kids, I'm sorry I never said anything on Enterprise, I'm sorry I made the biggest mistake of my life and left you. I've been paying for it every day since. All these years, I never stopped loving you, Imzadi. I know I'm an idiot and I've made mistakes and I don't deserve you, but...if there's any way you could possibly feel the same way...." his voice trails off. "Anyway, now that I've made a fool of myself, what was it you wanted to say?"

    He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. It's like a song, singing inside my body and my heart. My heartbeat, my pulse, my cells, all on fire. All a slave to the same rhythm. And I smile, a smile made sad at the edges by the years we've wasted and all the tears I've cried and all the nights lying alone thinking of him in someone else's arms when it turns out he was thinking of me too. It is a smile of hope, a flash of light, the rainbow caused when the sun hits the rain just right. I can feel tears falling down my face and soaking my uniform, but I ignore them. I am happy, for the first time in more than a decade, the kind of happy that comes from way down deep inside.

    "Okay," I finally get out. "Okay." I wipe futilely at my eyes, then decide to just ignore them. Who cares, after all?

    "It took me a long time to get over you. I don't think I ever quite managed to, but I sure tried. And then I saw you on this ship, and it was like all those wounds had been opened up again."

    I hold up a hand to stop him from speaking. "No, I'm not done." He shuts his mouth.

    "I didn't mean to fall in love with you again. But I did. It was different from before, grown up, the love of a woman instead of a girl. It didn't have a girl's expectations or mindless trust attached to it. I fell in love with you knowing that we could die at any time. I accepted it, but I didn't tell you, and I should have.

    "I want to try again. It won't be like the last time. We have stuff to work through, a lot of stuff. Trust issues. Oh, and by the way, please try not to steal the covers 'cause it really bugs me." Will laughs at that; still, when he speaks, his voice is serious.

    "I want to try. I love you, Deanna, and I always will. I know that now. I think I always did, on some level. You're a part of me, the best part, and I love you."

    A smile sneaks onto my face without my permission, prompted by the ferocity in his voice. "I love you too. I always will."

    He scootches forward and slides his arms around me. Our lips meet, and it is everything in the universe all compressed into one timeless moment. It doesn't matter that there are already grey threads in my hair, or that the lines on our faces are just that slightest bit more pronounced than before from so many life-and-death situations. All that matters is that we're together. I think that's the one thing I never learned, not until right now- he completes me. My love for him is the brightest song in the universe. And that's enough.