Disclaimer: The characters ar owened by Paramount, and if they had
treated them with the respect they deserved I would never have had to
write this in the first place.

Rated: R

Please review even if it's just to tell me my grammer is terrible. I
appreciate the human contact in from I can get it.:)


By Austenwoolf


"Shore leave is exactly what I need," Deanna said as she
stretched with feline grace on her couch.

"I completely agree," replied Beverly who sat, with her feet
tucked underneath her, in the chair beside the couch. "It will
certainly help with that funk you've been in lately."

"I resent that. I have not been in a funk," Deanna said in
half-hearted attempt at annoyance. Beverly said nothing, just raised
her eyebrows in a silent question. "Okay maybe I have been in a
of a mood lately."

"Now there's the understatement of the century. Do you
realize that this is the first time we've gotten together like
in months, and it's been even longer since you went to a poker
To be honest we were all starting to think you were trying to avoid

"I wasn't trying to avoid you, I've just been busy,"
avoided the Doctor's gaze as she spoke.

"It's about Tom isn't it?" Beverly's question
was so
completely unexpected that it took Deanna a moment to compose herself
enough to answer.


"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Isn't that my line?" she asked with a smile that did
touch her dark eyes. She sobered, "Besides there really
isn't much
to talk about."
"It's over." It was not a question so much as a comment.

"It was over before it even started." Deanna stood up and
walked over to the replicator. "Hot chocolate," she ordered.
moments a cup of steaming liquid appeared of the platform. "Do
want anything?"

"No thank you," Beverly watched Deanna make her way back to
the couch and sit down gingerly. Her friend was quite for a moment,
deep in thought. Beverly knew how hard these past few months had
been on Deanna, even if she had not confided in her as she normally
did. In truth Beverly felt a little responsible for the pain Deanna
was going through it had been she that had encouraged Deanna to
pursue a relationship with Tom, not the she needed much encouraging.
Wanting desperately for Deanna to relax and enjoy herself she changed
the subject. "So where are you going on shore leave?"

Deanna smiled at the thought of her plans, "Well I am going
to a very remote retreat on the planet Vallen. I rented a cabin
there next to the ocean, it should be very relaxing."

"It sounds like just what the doctor ordered." Deanna
laughed aloud at her friend's incredibly bad joke. "See I
knew I
could make you smile."

* * *

Deanna kept the day and her mind filled with the trivial
things that had to be done before she left for shore leave. She had
to pack, reschedule appointments, and finish some last minute crew
reports. She was right in the middle of debating with herself which
bathing suit to take with her when her door chimed. She knew who it
was, had in fact been expecting him. It was a ritual for them, when
one left the ship for any length of time to spend the last night
together, talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other's
She quelled the rush of happiness at the thought that even know, with
all the tension between them, he would still come to her.

She drew a calming breath, "Come in." The door swished open
and Will cautiously poked his head in.

"I'm not interrupting you am I?" He asked nervously.

She smiled warmly hoping to ease his tension. It worked, if
only for a moment, he matched her smile with one of his own.
not interrupting anything, I'm just trying to decide which
suit to take with me." She held up the small suits, one in each
for him to inspect. "What do you think?"

The old Will would have raised his eyebrows and smiled that
one-hundred watt smile of his while making a rather explicit comment,
but now that old Will seemed a million miles away. "That
one," he
said pointing to the purple one. She threw it into her Starfleet
issue case and shut the lid.

"Can I get you something to drink?" She tried to keep the
desperation out of her voice; she missed their late night talks and
wished that they could find that balance in their lives again. The
tension between them had been subtle, only their closest friends had
seen it, but it was enough to throw the equilibrium of their
friendship off. In many ways, it reminded Deanna of their first few
months aboard the Enterprise, until they had drawn the tentative
lines in the sand that dictated their relationship.

No that's okay I cannot stay long. I just wanted to stop by
and tell you to have a good time and I'll see you when you get

Deanna froze on her way to the replicator, with those words
he was continuing another of their unspoken traditions; they never
said the words goodbye. It was just a little thing, but he would
know how much it meant to her. She slowly turned back to look at
him, and for a moment she saw and felt a flash of longing from him so
deep it made tears well up in her eyes. She stepped closer, not
close enough to make him uncomfortable, but close enough to bask in
the warmth of everything he was to her. In his own way he was trying
to bridge the chasm between them, and she loved him all the more for
the attempt.

"Thank-you," she whispered, "and I will defiantly see
when I get back."

He smiled and stepped out of her quarters with out another

* * *

Deanna lay in the hammock on the porch of the rented beach
house reveling in the warm breeze laden with the scent of the ocean.
She had been here for two days and was enjoying the seclusion of this
place. It was rare that she got a chance to completely let her
shields down and not be bombarded by the one thousand minds, give or
take a few hundred, which made up the crew of the Enterprise. The
sun was begging to set on the horizon causing bright splashes of
pink, purple, and red to dance across the sky. She watched the sun
setting, and for the first time in years began to feel lonely. She
wistfully looked up at the stars beginning to form in the darker half
of the sky and thought about Will wondered what he was doing, if he
was safe. Suddenly she realized what she was doing, looking at the
stars and thinking of him, just as she had done years ago after he
had left her on her home planet. Mildly disgusted with herself for
thinking like that she swung out of the hammock and began to walk
toward the door. It was then, over the crashing waves of the ocean,
that she heard the familiar whine of a transporter beam. She spun
around just in time to see the glistening transporter beam deposit
its charge on the sand in front of her porch. She looked at the man
with a mixture of confusion and anger. "Tom what the hell are
doing here?"

* * *

"You know you're the only one who can tell us apart,"
was his
only reply to her question. Deanna was in shock, the last person she
expected to see here was him.

"How did you find me?"

"Were you trying to hide?" He was smiling at her now,
like hell that she would not find something to throw at him. "It
wasn't that hard, people generate a lot of paperwork when they
request a shore leave, it's not hard to track it down if you know
how," he answered her question quietly he was beginning to feel
uncomfortable under her intense gaze. "As for what I'm doing
well I got a little time off and I thought…well I guess I thought
had some things I needed to say to you."

"Some things, some things, Thomas I haven't heard from you
over two months and you think you can just pop into existence the
middle of my shore leave and have a discussion."

"I don't recall you trying all that hard to contact me
Deanna," he snapped, wishing even as he spoke that he could take
back. The last thing he wanted was to fight with her, on tonight of
all nights. "Deanna look I just want to talk, why don't we
go inside
and I'll make us some diner." Deanna did not move she just
there trying to figure out exactly what it was she was felling from
him. "Or if you prefer I could just stand out here until you
being stubborn." He kept his voice soft and tried to hide his
growing dismay, he had never taken into consideration the fact that
she might not even speak to him.
"All right," she whispered. "You can come in." She
and walked through the door without looking back to make sure he was
following. Tom stood out on the porch for a moment trying to calm
his breathing and prepare himself for the hardest thing he was ever
going to have to do in his life.

* * *

Deanna went straight to the small bedroom with out a word to
Tom. As soon as the door slid shut behind her, she sat heavily on
the large bed and began the Betazed relaxation breathing. `What
he want' she thought. After a few moments, she felt composed
to stand and began peeling the bathing suit, which was still damp
from her last swim, off her. She quickly found a soft lilac colored
dress in the closet, slipped it on, and brushed out the tangles in
her hair. She gave her self a quick glance in the mirror, and
deciding she looked as pulled together as she was going to get, under
the circumstances, she walked back into the living room.

Tom was sitting on the overstuffed white couch that sat in
the middle of the tastefully decorated room. He had started a fire
in the fireplace, and was now holding a glass of wine. If it had
been anyone else but her Tom would have seemed relaxed, but she could
feel the apprehension rolling off him in waves. Tom looked at her
and a small sad smile touched his lips.

"You are beautiful," he said quietly.


They both stood like that for a moment looking at each other,
trying to organize all they wanted to say into coherent thoughts.


"Deanna," they both started at the same time, and then
laughed nervously.

"You go first," she said as she sat in the chair opposite
couch and tried to ignore his pang of sadness that she had not sat
beside him.

"I wanted to explain what happened, why I couldn't contact
you," he paused and she nodded her head to encourage him to
continue. It was a gesture she made many times in counseling
sessions, but Tom Riker did not know that having never seen her in
what Will referred to as `counseling mode'. "I
didn't want you to
think that I was ignoring you, or that I didn't care anymore.
had a lot going on these past few months, a lot to think about and
well I just wasn't ready to talk about them until I got
figured out."

She wanted to ask him what he had figured out, but she was
not sure she wanted to know. "You came all the way here to tell
that," she said with just a hint of a smile. "The Gandhi is
almost a
month away from here at warp six, that's a long way to travel for

"Actually that's one of the things I wanted to tell you. I
transferred off the Gandhi. Things just weren't working out very

Deanna could feel that there was much more to the story then
that, but she chose not to push it. "So where will your next

"Planet side, I'll be at a station near the Cardassian
border." Tom spoke confidently, but Deanna knew that he was not
happy about being posted on a planet. If there was one thing Tom had
in common with Will it was their love of space travel. "It's
hard, getting back into the rhythm of Starfleet," Tom continued
in a
quite measured voice. "It took a while to get used to being
so many people everyday. It's funny I used to like being around
people. You know big gatherings, jazz clubs, I just liked being
around people, but when I got back from the science station it was

"Tom it is perfectly normal for there to be a period of
adjustment when you've spent so long by yourself. I think under
circumstances you've adapted very well.'

Tom chuckled, "That is exactly what the Counselor aboard the
Gandhi said."

"What can I say; we recite our rhetoric from the same book.
It's called how to annoy your patients in ten easy steps."
attempt at humor was rewarded with the first genuine laugh she had
heard from him in a long time.

"I always thought counselors sounded to much alike for their
own good," he said after he caught his breath. He looked at her
with open tenderness and Deanna could feel the intensity of his blue
eyes burning into her. He stood up in one swift motion and covered
the distance between them in one long stride. She expected him to
touch her, but he did not, he just crouched down in front of the
chair so that he was eye level with her.

"God I've missed you. You don't know how many times I
thought about you, how many times I wanted to hold you in my
They were so close, but Tom still didn't touch her. She could
his desire, but something was holding him back. "Deanna I have
some soul searching, about who I am, who I want to be. It is weird
to know that someone else is living your life, the life that you
always wanted. I was so angry with him, for having my life, messing
things up with you, just breathing. I didn't think I would ever
made the same decisions he had, especially where you were concerned,
but the more I thought about it the more I realized I probably would
have. As much as it kills me to say it, I probably would have done
things exactly the same way, and I am sorry for that. I am sorry
that he hurt you, I am sorry that I would have hurt you."

Deanna opened her mouth to tell him it was not his fault, but
he gently placed a finger on her lips to quite her. His touch caused
her stomach to tighten, and she bit back the soft moan that was
forming in the back of her throat. "Please let me finish,"
he said,
and when she nodded, he removed his finger from her lips.

"The time that we spent together on Betazed was the happiest
of my life, even when you were arguing with me. All of it, not just
making love with you, the talking, the arguing, and even hanging from
that stupid tree," he smiled wistfully at the memories that made
their mutual past.

The sexual tension that had invaded her body was quickly
being replaced by a new kind of tension; she knew where this
conversation was going. She felt distant, disconnected from her
body, and it all clicked into place. She understood now why he had
come all this way to see her, why he had gone to the trouble to track
her down. She thought she was ready for this, thought she had
prepared herself for the worst. Now that he was in front of her,
with his emotions pouring into like a pitcher filling an empty cup,
she knew she was not nearly as prepared as she thought, not even

Tom had paused in his speech to watch the play of emotions on
her face, silent tears began to fall down her cheeks, and he knew
that she understood what he was trying to say. He opened his mouth
to say the words, the words that she did not want to hear and he
really did not want to say. This time it was Deanna who put her
finger over his mouth to stop the words from coming. The
disconnected feeling intensified, and she seemed to be watching from
outside herself as she removed her finger from his mouth and quickly
replaced it with her lips.

She kissed him with a hungry desperation born of heartache
and searing pain, and he returned the kiss in kind. With a passion,
she barely thought herself capable of; she clutched him to her, and
felt the gratification of his arousal against her. Somehow, they
both ended up on the floor tearing at each other's clothing until
their naked bodies touched, and fire spread through them. Tom's
became more fevered, and a primal hunger shone in his eyes that
matched her own. Deanna touched his mind, and was drawn into the
deluge of longing, desire, and sadness pouring from every fiber of
his being. She took his emotions inside of her, just as she took his
body, and feed them all back to him. With each thrust, the pressure
mounted the physical as well as the mental. Neither noticed the
bitter tears that flowed down both their cheeks, and mingled on their
bare flesh. In that moment they were two people raging against fate,
and the universe, at everything that stood between them, including
themselves. The climax tore through both of them, leaving a white
hot flash through their entwined bodies, and minds.

"Imzadi," they cried out at the same moment, as if calling
each other from a great distance, a distance neither could cross.

* * *

The moon was just begging to set as Tom searched for his
scattered clothes; he moved quietly casting frequent glances at the
woman curled up in the bed. He could not even remember moving to the
bedroom, but apparently, somewhere in between their fevered
lovemaking they had found their way in here. The only sounds that
had passed between them in hours was moaning and the one word that
bound them together with gossamer threads, but not just the two of
them, there was another whose very soul hinged on that word. Not so
long ago Tom would have denied that his double still respected the
magnitude of that word, after all he had left her, refused to
continue a relationship with her. Now though he knew that it was
possible to love someone with everything you were and still have to
let them go, for he was about to do just that.

He slipped into the other room rummaged around for the pants
he had been wearing; he found them in front of the chair and began
digging into the pockets. After fumbling for a few moments, he
pulled out an envelope. He took a moment to rub his thumb over the
smooth white paper of the envelope, his thoughts went back to the
last time he had written anything on real paper, a poem for the very
woman that slept in the other room. He placed the envelope carefully
on the table and finished putting his clothes on.

When he had dressed, he walked back into the bedroom and
watched her for a moment as she slept. She was lying on her side
facing him with her dark hair fanned out on the pillow behind her.
He watched the rise and fall of her bare breast with every breath; he
followed the curve of her body trying to memorize every nuisance.
For one crazy moment, he thought about slipping back into bed and
holding on to her for dear life, but he knew it would be wrong, for
both of them.

Instead, he leaned into her and kissed her gently on the
cheek, "Good-bye Imzadi." He stood from the bed quickly so
as not to
lose his nerve, and walked through the house, out the front door, and
into the dark night.

When Deanna heard the front door close, she finally opened
her eyes, "Good-bye."

* * *

Deanna had cried the rest of the night and finally drifted
back into sleep after the sun sat well above the horizon. She slept
for most of the day, and when she finally woke, she found the
envelope sitting on the coffee table. Her name was scrawled across
the top in his strong steady hand. She trembled as she slid the
paper out of the envelope and began reading.


If you are reading this now it means I could not say the
things I needed to say. You always could turn me in to a coward. I
know how much you hate to say good-bye, and where you are considered,
so do I. It is funny, I could say good-bye to everyone I have ever
know, my Father, my home, old friends, and lovers, but not you never
you, until now.

I need you to understand why I am saying it now, why I have
to let you go. It is not because I do not love you, and it is not
because of my career, in truth Starfleet doesn't seem to mean as
to me as it used to.

When I left the Enterprise I thought I could pick up right
were I left off, not only with you but with Starfleet as well, but I
couldn't things didn't feel the same, I didn't feel the
same. I was
still William T. Riker in my mind, but at the same time, I was not.
I realized, after months of trying to be something that I could not
be anymore, that I had to find my own path. I had to stop being
William Riker and start being Thomas Riker. I cannot keep living my
life in another man's shadow, even if essentially that man is me.

I envy Will, not just because of his career, but because he
got the chance to watch you become the beautiful, strong woman you
are now. Even if your not lovers you are together, you have both
grown together, shared you lives, and he has become everything to you
that I wanted to be, that I guess we both wanted to be.

With you I am still Will Riker, and I cannot go on like
that. I hope you understand that in order for me to be my own man I
have to let you go, as much as it hurts I know that I would never be
able to find my own way as long as I held on to the past, and my past
is you.

I will never really be able to forget you Deanna, never
really stop loving you, but I have to do this. I don't know if I
will stay in Starfleet, I don't honestly know what I will do. I
as if I am just starting out on a long journey, and I'm scared
excited all at the same time. I wish I could have started on this
journey with out hurting you, but I think you have known all along
what would happen. I am so sorry Imzadi, for everything.


* * *

Will stood in the transporter room waiting for Deanna to beam
aboard. The last few months had been hard on the both of them, and
he felt like a total jerk for avoiding her. He had missed her a
great deal, it was hard not to go to her when he had a problem, not
to sit with her in Ten-forward, or flirt with her at the weekly poker
games. Now he just wanted everything to go back to the way things
were before Tom, he hoped they still could.

"Sir," the transporter chief said, "there ready for

Will nodded and watched the platform as Deanna materialized
there. The first thing he noticed was how beautiful she looked. She
was wearing a long light blue dress that clung in just the right
places; her hair was free of its normal clasp and hung down her
slender back and shoulders.
He stepped toward her and picked up her bag from the
platform. "Hey, you look great. I guess spending a week at a
agrees with you." He smiled at her hoping she understood his
at putting the tension behind them.

She returned the smile with equal warmth. "I spent the whole
week lying on the beach and being completely lazy. How could it not
agree with me?" She nodded and smiled at the transporter chief
that way she had that turned any man with a pulse into a pool of
quivering jelly.

Will followed her out the door and down the corridor. "So
you had a good time then?" He asked as they stepped into the
lift. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a sad almost
wistful smile cross her face, but when she turned around to look at
him, it was gone.

"Yeah I had a good time."