"Scent of Damask Rose" 1\1 (TNG, R\T PG-13)
From: xmasfrog@aol.com (Xmas Frog)

Title: "Scent of Damask Rose"
Series: TNG, R\T
Rating: PG-13
Copyrights: To Paramount, etc.

It couldn't be.
Will Riker's mind hurled a thousand exclamations at his consciousness. Not
now. Of all times, not now.
But, of course, yes. It couldn't be anything else. A delicate waft of
damask rose tickled his nostril once again, vanishing as quickly as it had
Perhaps he had only imagined it. Perhaps he was simply recreating for
himself the odor that seemed to frame such an evening as he had had two nights
ago. Wisps of the scent, real or imaginary, wrapped themselves around his
staunch collared shirt and navy pants, constricting him and making it suddenly
difficult to breathe. 
He nodded dumbly, oblivious to what the Tssaskian directly across from him
was saying. His eyes frantically darted around the lounge, afraid of what they
might find. To his relief and disdain, he did not see her. He must have been
daydreaming, that was all. And yet the next time he inhaled, he drew in the
fragrance in full capacity, and he knew beyond doubt that she was there.
The corner of his eye saw her before he fully realized it. She had just
entered. Will's pulse quickened to a desperate rate. She was wearing a clingy
black dress, the collar and bottom (which barely reached mid-thigh, he noted
with a gulp) were edged in satin. Her hair was upswept in an elegantly casual
style, soft curly tendrils dripping out around her neck and along her brow. . .

Will unbuttoned his top collar button. One of the Tssaskians noticed and
imitated the behavior, ripping off a fastening from the top of his smock. The
other of the insect-like creatures simply stared at him, regarding him with a
sense of curiosity that made Riker feel as though he were being studied. Their
leader chattered away incessantly in their crude attempt at English filled with
heavy clicks and grating noises. 
This had been her idea! She was the one teaching him delegation
techniques, she was the one who had suggested he spend some time with the
mysterious Tssaskians to get a better feel for them. What were her words? "One
of the most important skills to gain is to develop an instinct for an
individual or a people, to sense what they are, what they feel, what they
need." Wasn't that what he was doing, or trying to do? He focused all his
effort on rejoining the conversation. 
". . . . different on our world. . . . red. . . . childhood. . . tkkk. . .
." Meaningless phrases swam together in his mind, turning themselves inside out
and upside down. She had sat down. The waiter was taking her order. Was it his
imagination, or did she smile at him? Again, the damask rose drifted over from
across Ten Forward. At this rate, he would go insane if he had to endure this
much longer. His pitiful attempts at conversation seemed pathetic even to him.
The rose. . . .
. . . . that rich and heady fragrance, surrounding the two lovers in a
delicate embrace. . . . in a moment the passions and days of longing melting
away as sheerly as their hesitations and doubts. He was deaf and blind to
everything but the beauty of her soul and the soft music that drifted through
his mind, like a melody once forgotten but remembered in cascading fragments.
He touched her hair, the thick curls slipping through his fingers. The bath
water was still dewy on her skin, moisture beads vaguely kissed with rose.
Their eyes, brown and blue, meeting. . . .
She was looking right at him.
Her eyes twinkled with suppressed laughter. Oh, she knew what she was
doing to him. The Tssaskian leader noticed that Will seemed distracted, and
remedied the situation by pounding on the table. 
This jolted Will's nerves and brought him back to his current reality. He
smiled congenially and casually asked how the Tssaskian's clan was getting on;
instantaneously, as the Commander had well known, the insect launched into a
drawn-out history of his rather large family and an update on each member's
current status. 
She no longer looked at him, but was sipping from a fluted champagne
glass. Again, the damask rose breezed by. Where had she put the accursed
perfume? On her wrists? In her hair? Just below her ears, at the tender
pressure point he had so lovingly kissed?
. . . . her eyes, telling him the story of her soul. . . .
Not for the first time, Will gulped audibly. Perhaps too late, the
Commander remembered his most recent interview with the Counselor. What had she
said? "--learn to block out all distractions and focus on the depth of those
you were perceiving?" If this was what she called a distraction. . . . but no.
He would not succumb. Two could play at this game.
"Tkk, my twenty-third child was kkilled, tkk, by a rival of our kklan. . .
This time, Will heard and understood. He nodded, reflecting on the pain at
the loss of a loved one. He smiled, pondering the joy of having three of your
children being mated simultaneously in front of you. He frowned, wondering just
whether a male with irreparable damage to his antennae could effectively govern
a society.
And then he knew the people. They were primitive, but based on a rich
history steeped in tradition. Perhaps there was a trace of the bloodlust in
them, but not deception. They were honorable insects, filled with duty and an
intense loyalty. When pincer met hand in a firm, if not a slightly painful
grasp, Will knew he had won. 
Almost everyone had left Ten-Forward. She was still there, of course, her
drink long gone, a dreamy look in her brown eyes signifying that she was far
away from the present. He stroked his chin thoughtfully. Perhaps feeling his
gaze on her, Deanna turned and their eyes met. 

As they lay under the canopy of darkness, Will stroked Deanna's cheek and
leaned closer in. "Where did you put it?" he whispered, barely audible. "Put
what?" Deanna turned toward him, genuinely puzzled. "The perfume. . . . the
damask rose. . . ." Deanna kissed his cheek tenderly. "Dearest, I used the last
of the bottle the other night." His mind lost in a tumult of confusion, Will
yielded to the sweetness of her heart against his. He pressed his lips lovingly
to the spot below her ear, and once again, was encompassed with the sweet scent
of damask rose.