Without Your Love
BY: ANN HOGGE
Standard Disclaimer: "Yeah, yeah, yeah"
The USS Enterprise sailed through the vast emptiness of space at warp speed; traveling to destinations that planet-bound persons only dream about. Facing unknown dangers and boundless excitement in every solar system it passed through.
Deep inside the halls of the massive ship, the Enterprise's crew went about their daily lives: working, laughing, loving, and facing these unknown elements with courage and determination. Life aboard the Flagship of the Federation is in equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Friendships are forged, loved ones are lost, and enemies are vanquished.
Being a Starfleet Officer means sacrificing part of yourself. Exploring the unknown requires giving 100% at all times, leaving very little left over for personal involvement. With every hour that passes, there is the very real horror of losing someone you love to an enemy attack, an away mission gone wrong, or a freak accident aboard a Starship. There are some who would say that a family and a career in Starfleet do not mix, especially for one who strives to be Captain.
Commander William T. Riker knew this better than most. He had sacrificed much for his career. The charismatic, easy going First Officer was well liked by his crew, was highly respected by his contemporaries and superiors, and never lacked female companionship when he so desired it. He seemed to have it all. He was the Executive Officer of the Flagship. His career was on an upward swing. He knew what he wanted, and nothing was going to stand in his way.
No one could have guessed just how miserable Will Riker had become. Not even his very best friend could guess at the depth of his despair. Which was ironic, considering his best friend is an empath, as well as being the cause of his misery.
Ship's Counselor Deanna Troi. The exotic Betazoid who had stolen his heart years ago. The first to touch his soul. The girl whose heart he broke when he left her for his career. The woman who had become his best friend over the years of service together. The living, breathing reminder of all he had sacrificed for the chance at the Captain's Chair. The chair that had been pulled out for him on several occasions.
Sitting alone in his cabin, Will laughed humorlessly; His self-loathing apparent by the scowl on his face. "The chair that you have repeatedly turned down! Will," he told him self angrily, "you are a fool!"
For years, Will has kept Deanna at arms length. Accepting no more than friendship from his Imzadi, because he was afraid it would interfere with his career. A career that he himself had curtailed, turning down promotions for the chance to stay on the Enterprise. If he was completely honest with himself, it was never the Enterprise he did not want to leave, but Deanna. All he had succeeded in doing was deny himself the exquisite pleasure of having Deanna in his arms.
None of that mattered now, because once again he had blown it. He had lost her again. This time for good. Deanna was leaving the Enterprise. She was taking a position at Starfleet Medical on Earth.
Deanna had come to him, excited about the transfer, but at the same time dejected, because it had come so soon after they had renewed their relationship.
He stood there, speechless, feeling is heart break. He knew; he saw it in her eyes. She wanted him to stop her, wanted him to beg her to stay. Like a fool, he just stood there. Then he said the dumbest thing he had ever said. He congratulated her and wished her well. He told her what a great opportunity this would be for her career. He stood there silently, dying inside, as she stormed out of his quarters, tears streaming down her face.
For the second time in his life, he had chosen Starfleet over the most wonderful relationship he had ever known. Only this time he was sacrificing for her career.
"What a fool I am!" he said again. Will tried to imagine life without Deanna. He could not. In a moment of complete clarity, he realized the truth. He would have no life without her.
The captain's chair no longer mattered anymore, had not for a very long time. Why else had he turned it down so much? He still wanted his own ship, but he knew now that he did not want it unless he had Deanna at his side.
Will jumped up from his seat. He tapped his commbadge, "Riker to Troi"
"What is it, Will? I have a lot of packing to do" came the curt reply.
Will took a deep breath. His Imzadi would not make this easy on him. "Stay where you are. I'll be right there"
Will did not give Deanna a chance to reply, he just ran out of his quarters and skidded to a stop outside her door. He rang the bell.
"Come in." he heard from the other side.
Deanna was sitting on her couch. Will could tell she had been crying. He felt his heart leap into his throat.
"Deanna, we need to talk." he began.
Deanna interrupted him, " What more is there to say, Will? You were right; this is a great opportunity. Besides, what reason do I have to stay? You obviously don't want me!"
Will knelt at her feet, taking her hands in his. "No, Imzadi, your wrong,"
Deanna pulled her hands away. "No I'm not wrong!" she practically shouted. "And don't call me that. Our bond means nothing to you. It never has. I wish I never met you!"
Will closed his eyes in pain. "Deanna, don't. Don't say that! I love you. I always have, I always will. Our bond means EVERTHING to me."
Deanna snorted. "Yeah, right! Then how could you just stand there and say nothing more than 'good luck' when I said I was leaving?"
"I don't know! I guess I had to lose you to realize how very much I really need you. I'm sorry, Deanna. Please forgive me."
Deanna probed Will's mind, and found the sincerity and the love that she was searching for. She placed her hands on either side of his bearded face. "Where do we go from here?" she asked quietly.
"I'm not sure. All I know is that I wouldn't be living if I had to live without you. You are everything that is good and real in my life. Everything else is secondary."
Will grinned. "Especially that. I will still get the chance at the center seat someday. However, I don't want it if you're not there to share it with me. "
Deanna leaned forward and pressed her lips against his gently. Will rapped his arms around her and deepened the kiss, pushing her back against the sofa cushions. After a few minutes, he broke the kiss and held her close, breathing in the scent of her.
"Deanna, if you want to take the position at Starfleet Medical, please do."
Deanna pushed out of his arms "But Will, that puts us back at square one you here on the Enterprise, and me on Earth. Don't you..."
Will placed his finger against her lips, silencing her. "Shh. We will be together, Deanna. I'm sure I can find a position planet side. Of course, if I'm going to leave my post for you, you are going to have to marry me. "
Deanna blinked. "Marry you? Are you serious? You want to marry me? And you would leave the Enterprise if asked you to?"
"Imzadi, darling, I would stand naked on the bridge and quote Shakespeare if you asked me to."
Deanna giggled. "Now that I would like to see! Of course, Captain Picard might not like it."
Will laughed and hugged Deanna again. "No, he probably would be insanely jealous."
"Of my Shakespeare reciting, Deanna. Get your mind out of the gutter."
The laughed together for a moment, then Deanna sobered. "Seriously, Imzadi, I couldn't ask you to give up your dreams for me."
"Deanna, you are my dreams."
Deanna kissed him again. "That's sweet. Thank you. Will, I turned down the promotion. I have no desire to be a desk jockey."
Deanna laughed at the faint sense of relief she felt coming from Will. For all his brave talk, Will Riker would go insane living planet side. "I turned it down. Actually, I did give it serious consideration, but I'm happier on a ship then anywhere else. Besides, you don't think I would really leave you, do you."
"Why you sneaky little...” Will lunged for Deanna and started tickling her.
Deanna gasped between giggles, "Will, stop! I'm sorry, but it worked, didn't it?"
Will stopped tickling Deanna and pulled her into his arms. "You know, that's the problem with being in love with your best friend. You know me too damn well."
Their lips met in a kiss that sealed their bond and brought with it a promise of forever.
Outside the ship, the stars continued past. The Enterprise continued on its journey into the unknown, seeking out new life. However, on the inside, for one couple, the realization dawned that the only true adventure is life. In addition, the only thing that really matters is whom you share it with.