Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Coda to 3rd season episode "A Matter of Perspective". Riker reflects
on his brush with being convicted of murder, and Troi helps him move
past it.


November 4, 2009

Hey folks,

It's been just over a month since I inflicted my last story upon you all. :) Due to some family health issues, I had to take a short break. I started this work over a month ago, but didn't get the opportunity to finish it until recently.

As seems to be my M.O. these days, this story is another coda piece. This time, it is to the 3rd season episode "A Matter of Perspective", in which Riker was accused of murdering a research scientist. He was, of course, exonerated, and this piece picks up where the episode leaves off.

Comments and criticisms welcome. Flames only in private, please. :)


"Guilty Until Proven Innocent"
by Bryce Newall
Rating: PG-13 (just in case; could probably be PG)
Disclaimer: The usual. Paramount owns all. I'm just borrowing.


The Holodeck exploded around them.

More precisely, the holographic recreation of Doctor Nel Apgar's lab on the science station orbiting the planet Tanuga exploded and shimmered into nonexistence. Only a table was left, around which the small group of people remained, surrounded by the familiar yellow-on-black grid.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard's baritone voice filled the space. "Doctor Apgar killed himself in his attempt to kill Commander Riker." Apgar's assistant and wife both looked utterly shocked. Had it been possible, Manua Apgar's jaw would have hit the Holodeck floor with a resounding thud.

Chief Inspector Krag considered this revelation. "Based on this new evidence, I withdraw my request for Commander Riker's extradition." He turned to look at Will Riker. "Commander... my apologies."

Riker nodded, but gave no other outward reaction. Inside, however, he felt a huge weight lifting from his shoulders. Deanna Troi's hand reached out and squeezed Riker's forearm, and in that moment, he could feel her relief joining his own in his mind. She smiled up at him. Riker glanced and saw her smile, and looked around the room to see equal relief on the faces of Picard and Geordi La Forge. He noted the resignation in Krag's expression, and saw the look of surprise and defeat on the countenances of Mrs. Apgar and Tayna, Dr. Apgar's assistant.

The group slowly began to file out of the Holodeck. La Forge patted Riker on the shoulder and smiled at him as he made his way past the big man and through the door. Manua Apgar cast a final, disapproving look over her shoulder as she shuffled out, leaving only Riker and Troi behind in the Holodeck as the doors closed.

Riker sank heavily back down into his seat and wiped his hands over his face. "That was close... too close." His hands came away from his face, and he saw Troi staring at him, a mixture of relief and concern etching her beautiful features. "If I'd been seeing this as an outsider, Krag's theory may very well have convinced *me*!"

He looked her in the eye. "It's hard to believe Mrs. Apgar was *that* convinced of her story, that even *you* were convinced of her sincerity." His agitation was growing. "Gods, Deanna, I thought for sure that you'd be able to see right through her!"

Troi pinned him with her gaze. "Will, you know better than anyone that in a situation like this, I *have* to remain objective. Even though I know, on both a personal and professional level, that you could *never* commit an act of murder... I wasn't an eyewitness to the events that led up to the destruction of the station, and I was forced to look at this as an impartial, third party, just as the Captain was."

Her eyes broke their lock with his and wandered downward, toward her hands, which were still clasped on the table in front of them. She could feel Riker's warring emotions -- resentment over her not being more "on his side," and at the same time, understanding of the difficult position into which she had been placed. Troi was also all too aware of her own feelings on the matter -- she knew Will Riker better than anyone, and was certain beyond any doubt that he was innocent. The difficult part was proving his innocence, which, thank the Gods, Data, Wesley, and Geordi had been able to accomplish.

Riker spoke more quietly this time. "I'm just glad that the evidence to prove my innocence was sufficient". It was as if he had been reading her thoughts; perhaps he was, she mused. "I hesitate to think about what the sentence might have been..."

Troi's head snapped back up as she heard his last few words. She had not even considered the fact that if he had been found guilty, he would have been turned over to the Tanugan authorities, and who knows what they might have done with him. Would the punishment have been death? Or a lifetime of imprisonment? Troi visibly paled, and took Riker's hand in hers. "It frightens me to even think about the possibility of losing you, Will... especially under circumstances like *those*. I can't imagine what it would be like--"

Will pressed a finger gently to her lips, silencing the unpleasant thought before she could finish it. Deanna's eyes were glistening. He pulled her close and embraced her tightly. She brought her arms up around his neck and buried her face in his chest, eyes closed, listening to the rhythm of his heartbeat. She found it soothing, and let out a slow, calming breath that she didn't even realize she had been holding. Will stroked the back of her hair and inhaled her scent, finding it equally comforting, and intoxicating at the same time.

Neither of them were sure how much time had passed as they held each other in the Holodeck, but a faint rumble from Riker's abdominal cavity startled them both. "Sounds like someone is hungry." Troi's amused voice came out muffled, since her face was still against his chest.

Riker pulled away from her just enough to look into her deep, onyx eyes. "Being tried for murder can give a person an appetite. You up for dinner?"

She smiled warmly at him. "Sure. Ten Forward?"

"My quarters. I have something in mind." He stood, offering his hand, which she gladly accepted.

"What are you scheming this time, Commander?" she teased.

"Me? Scheme?" He grinned widely. "You must be confusing me for someone else, Counselor. Shall we?"

She suppressed a giggle as she stood, interlaced her fingers with his, and they exited the Holodeck together. "Computer, end program," Riker called over his shoulder, and the table and chairs disappeared as the doors closed.


Hand in hand, Will and Deanna rounded the corner to the corridor in which the entrances to both of their quarters resided. Reaching hers first, Deanna paused. "Give me just a couple of minutes, and I'll be right over, okay?" She moved to enter as the doors parted, then turned back around to face him. Releasing her hand from his, she placed both hands on the sides of his face. He was surprised to hear her voice in his head. //I'm really glad you were found innocent, Imzadi. I was worried!// She rarely communicated with him telepathically, and before he even knew it was happening, Deanna wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. She was gentle at first, and Will found himself responding in kind, but soon the kiss grew deeper and more passionate, penetrating his soul with a fiery heat, the likes of which he hadn't encountered since... well, since they were together in the Jalara jungle on Betazed all those years ago.

Deanna pulled away and smiled coyly at him. "Be right back," she whispered as she disappeared into her quarters. The doors shut behind her, leaving a somewhat dazed Will Riker standing outside, still seeing stars in his eyes. A smile spread across his face as he slowly returned to reality. He hadn't felt this way in a long time, especially not where Deanna was concerned. Riker strode into his quarters nextdoor, still smiling, and began dinner preparations.


The door to Riker's quarters swooshed open. Riker looked up, smiling as he saw a startled ship's counselor whose hand was halfway to the door chime button. He gestured grandly, "C'mon in."

Snapping out of her momentary surprise, Troi stepped in. "You programmed the door to open automatically for me, huh?" She walked up next to him kissed him on the cheek, then looked appraisingly at the table. "Mmmm, smells good!"

"Yes, and thank you," Riker replied. "You smell pretty darn good yourself," he observed, inhaling the scent of her perfume. "Not to mention that you look beautiful," he marveled, noting the flowing, strapless lavender dress she had chosen to wear. Troi did not fail to notice the desire sparkling in Riker's eyes, but chose to ignore it, at least for the moment. Riker pulled a chair out for her and offered it to her; she gladly accepted and he sat himself down across from her.

They ate mostly in comfortable silence. After they finished the meal, Riker rose to get dessert -- chocolate mousse, one of Troi's favorites -- and brought it to the table. Looking into her eyes as he sat back down, he chose to be the first to broach the subject of the day's events. "Deanna... what you said to me earlier... well, thought to me earlier... all through the trial, I kept thinking about what would've happened if they had somehow found me guilty. The worst part was the thought of being imprisoned and being forcibly kept away from you. I can't imagine not being near you and feeling your presence..." His words caught in his throat as he saw her pained expression.

Riker realized perhaps he had brought up feelings with which Troi was uncomfortable. "Deanna... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said--"

"No, no, Will, I'm glad you did." Her hand snaked across the table and snared his. Her lips curled into a smile. "I was the one who kissed you a little while ago, remember?" Her expression grew serious again. "I couldn't imagine my life without you in it either, Imzadi." She paused, and took a bite of her chocolate mousse. Riker watched her, suddenly aware of how watching Troi eating chocolate of any kind brought certain unbidden thoughts to his mind. As if reading his thoughts, she asked him, "Have we been denying our true feelings for each other?"

"I don't know," he responded, quite honestly. His eyes twinkled. "I can't deny how I felt outside your quarters a few minutes ago, that's for sure." She blushed slightly. He rose from the table and knelt next to her. "I'd like to feel that way again, Imzadi, if you're willing..."

Troi needed no further encouragement. She jumped up from the table, chocolate mousse forgotten, pulled Riker along with her, and allowed them both to give in to the hunger and passion they had suppressed for far too long.


Nearly an hour later, both of them spent from the most intense lovemaking either could remember, their nude bodies pressed against each other, Deanna whispered into Will's ear. "Have you *always* felt this way about me?"

Riker grinned at her. "Guilty as charged."