Will Riker looked down on the room from the slightly elevated stage. During the course of the evening, the crowd had thinned considerably. There were only a few people left including most of the senior staff. In fact, the only one missing was Deanna; she had slipped out sometime during the evening. The idea that she had left with out saying anything bothered him a little. She always told him goodnight, and sometimes placed a friendly kiss on his cheek. He was used to their nightly ritual and found he missed it. He pushed these thoughts from his mind as he bent down to retrieve his trombone from its battered case.
He turned back to look at Beverly who was sitting between the Capitan and Data. "I don't know why I let you talk me into this."
"Oh stop acting like you haven't wanted to do this all night," she replied.
"Well," he said to the room in general, "since a certain counselor ducked out early this evening I think it's safe to ask if anyone has a request." This comment caused a ripple of laughter to move through the remaining people. Almost everyone knew how Counselor Troi tortured Will to play the song 'Night Bird', a song that he had never been able to get through.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that." He heard her musical voice float from behind him and groaned softly. He turned around to see Deanna standing on the other side of the expansive room having apparently come in just in time to hear his comment. She stood there for a moment with her hands placed on her hips and a satisfied smile; she was obviously enjoying his discomfort. He could hear Beverly laughing at his predicament and made a mental note to get revenge on the good Doctor. Deanna took her time walking around the stage and sat down directly in front of him.
"I believe you were asking if anyone had a request."
"Actually sir, I have a request." .
"You're really going to make me do it?" He whispered.
"Yes," she stated in her calm voice.
He looked down at her caught up in the light that played in her dark eyes; she looked back at him with an expression of love and support.
"You are a cruel woman Deanna Troi. All right what do you want to hear?"
"Oh I think you know what I want," she said as she rested her chin on her hand.
"I take it back, you're not just cruel, you're evil," he said before placing the trombone to his lips.
Before the first note was out, he heard her reply, "You wouldn't want me any other way." He looked into her expressive eyes and knew she was right. The realization that he loved everything about her; every subtle gesture, her smile, even her annoying habit of over thinking everything; his mind was so swept up in this train of thought that he was half way through the song before he realized it.
For a moment he panicked, but could see Deanna willing him to keep going and he could feel her support and love pour into him. Finally, the background music stopped, and Will took the trombone from his lips. It took him almost a full minute to realize that he had done it. He had gotten all the way through 'Night Bird'.
"I did it."
He bounded off the stage and scoped Deanna into a big bear hug. It was then that the applause erupted from the tiny crowd.
"I did it," he repeated.
"I never doubted you for a moment." Much to Deanna's surprise and everyone else's amusement he kissed her full on the lips; a long lingering kiss that caused the applause to grow louder, and Beverly to give a loud whoop of approval. This in turn caused Picard to give her a slightly amused look, he was well aware of her matchmaking attempts with his First officer and Counselor.
"What?" Beverly said in the most innocent voice she could muster.
"Picard ignored her and turned back around just in time to see Will deposit a very breathless Betazed woman back of the floor. The crowd moved forward to offer their congratulations, there was much backslapping, and the phrase 'about time' was thrown around. Eventually the crowd broke up, and people began leaving for bed. Shortly only Deanna and Will were left in the lounge.
"I thought you had left for the night," Will said as he led Deanna to a table and motioned the waiter for another drink.
"I got all the way to my quarters and realized I had forgotten to tell you good night."
"You came all the way back to tell me goodnight. I am flattered."
"Well," Beverly also contacted me to let me know you were getting ready to play." Deanna admitted with a sheepish grin.
Will shook his head in disbelief, "I swear one of these days I'm going to get her." Will took a drink of his synthehol, and his expression grew serious. Thank-you, for helping me through it."
Deanna did not have ask what he was referring to, she shook her head, "You did that all by yourself, I was just here for moral support."
Will smiled and took her delicate hand in his larger one, "Then thank-you for the moral support."
"Any time Imzadi, anytime."
He didn't know what made him do it, maybe it was finishing the song after all these years, maybe it was the fact that they were pretty much alone in the lounge, but mostly it was the way she looked at him with warmth and love. Suddenly he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her full lips, different then the kiss he had given her early, this one was slow sensual, a feather light kiss that sent an electric shock down his spine. He was thrilled when he felt her respond instead of pull away, and even more so when her tongue gently touched his lips seeking entrance, he gladly complied. He was not sure how long they stayed like that, how long the slow and sensual kiss enveloped his brain like a blanket, but eventually he was pulled from the warmth of that blanket by the sound of someone politely clearing their throat.
Both of them looked up at their intruder with red faces, the waiter who had brought them their drinks early was standing at a discreet distance from the table looking just as embarrassed. "Sorry guys its closing time."
Will looked at Deanna; he could feel whatever happened between them slipping away, like so many times before. Without a word, they both stood up and left. As they made their way to the lift Will's mind was working overtime trying to think of a way to retrieve what had just been lost. He was so deep in thought he did not hear Deanna at first
"I'm sorry, what."
"I was just asking if you had a chance to say good-bye to Data."
"Good-bye, is he going somewhere?"
"Don't you remember? He leaves first thing tomorrow morning for his duck blind mission on the planet Ba'ku."
"Oh yeah I guess I forgot." The lift stopped.
"Well this is my stop," Deanna said. If will had not known her so well he would have missed the tension in her voice. Foe a moment they looked at each other as if they could find the answers to all their questions in the others eyes. After what seemed like forever, Deanna gave a small smile and stepped out of the lift. "Goodnight Will."
He wanted nothing more then to follow her, to pull her to him, but his feet would not move and the lift door shut closing her off from his view. H cursed his inaction, and in that moment made a vow to himself that the next time she gave him an opportunity he would not waste it. He just hoped there would be a next time.