*Note: I wrote this story in 1988, just after "Skin of Evil" aired,
so it focuses on the death of Tasha Yar. It was my first piece of
fan fiction. My style has changed dramatically since the 80's! I
updated it in a few small ways, but most of the original document has
been left intact. Please don't flame this one. I'm posting it only
because many have asked to see some of my old Orion Press stories.

Title: A Matter of Trust
Author: AvalonMuse1@yahoo.com
Rating: R for sexual content and New Age values
Archive: Only at Imzadi Everlasting
Disclaimer: This thing's so old, who the hell cares?


Commander William Riker awoke with difficulty, feeling stranger than
he had ever felt in his life. His body, unusually heavy and
confining, was numb from head to toe. Soon his heart began to
thunder loudly in his ears, sending blood back into deadened limbs.
His skin, prickling painfully, only worsened when he tried to move,
so he remained still until the unpleasant sensation passed. The room
was dark and silent, making it difficult for him to assess his
surroundings; to overcome an almost nauseating sense of

Then he realized he was lying naked in a bed, holding a soft,
familiar form in his arms. He had to force himself to relax; to try
to remember what had happened. His heart slowly resumed a calm,
steady rhythm, and he was able to take his first deep breaths since
awakening, as the events of the previous day sharpened into focus...

Lieutenant Tasha Yar was dead. Her funeral had taken place only a few
hours ago (or was it days ago?) and the shock had been devastating to
all of them. But it seemed to affect Deanna Troi worse than anyone
else, except for maybe Data, who would never admit to feeling
anything at all. The counselor had leaned on Will's strength
throughout the emotional ceremony. He had a feeling that she would
have been unable to stand if he hadn't held her in place the entire
time. He knew she was picking up on everyone else's emotions as well
as trying to deal with her own, and she seemed to be losing the
battle in all directions.

When the ceremony was over, he led her back to her quarters where she
collapsed in his arms and cried for what seemed like hours. She kept
blaming herself, as she often did when matters were beyond her
control, and he had worn himself out trying to convince her
otherwise. She gave the very illogical, uncounselor-like reasoning
that if she had taken control of the situation sooner and distracted
the Armus creature better, none of this would have happened.

"Will you stop blaming yourself!" Riker had finally reached the end
of his patience. He paced the room with agitation after Deanna had
settled herself on the couch, weak with grief. "It's more my fault
than it is yours," he argued. "I led the away team. She was my
responsibility! I could have stopped her from acting rashly, but I
didn't." This admission cut him deeply. He hadn't realized until
just then that he could have prevented Tasha Yar's death himself.

His words seemed to stun the counselor into silence for a time. Then
she stood from the couch and put a gentle hand on his arm
sympathetically. "Oh, Will," she whispered between shaky
breaths, "I've been so selfish. I'm sorry." Although he could not see
her face because of their vast height difference, and because her
huge, luminescent eyes were gazing downward, he could feel warm tears
soaking through the sleeve of his uniform. This was not the outcome
he intended from his sudden revelation. He was supposed to be
comforting her.

"Look," he said, leading her back to the couch and sitting down
beside her. "Tasha chose her own fate and I doubt either one of us
could have stopped her from making that decision. She's gone now and
we have to accept that. All the fault in the world isn't going to
bring her back."

He winced at the harshness of his voice, but Deanna didn't seem to
notice. She had become deathly silent. He turned his head to look at
her, and suddenly found himself lost in two reflective black pools.
Her cheeks and nose, splotched red from crying, made her appear so

"Will, I'm frightened," she muttered, and he had to strain to hear
her. "I almost lost you to that creature along with Tasha. I felt
your pain when he tortured you and I couldn't bear it!"

Her words brought back the sharp memory of his own fear when he heard
that her shuttle went down. Riker gathered Deanna into his arms and
held her while she lamented again. He had comforted her with whatever
idiotic reassurances he could think of, none of which he could
remember now. All he knew was that he had to find a way to ease her
anguish. She was the counselor. She was the only one who knew how to
battle grief, and everyone else would need her strength, including
himself once the shock of the incident with Armus had time to wear

After a while he had begun to feel uncomfortable, although at the
time he wasn't sure why. He only knew that the more she clung, the
more he desired to get away. He didn't know how to deal with loss,
and worse yet, the beautiful counselor's proximity had him thinking
about things other than Tasha's death.

"I'm sorry I'm making you uncomfortable," she whispered in his ear,
surprising him only for a second. The sound of her richly accented
voice, husky with grief, made his stomach clench apprehensively. The
sweet, mildly spicy scent of her skin was rapidly becoming
intoxicating. "Please, just hold me a little while longer. I need

Riker tightened his arms around her delicate, shapely form, feeling
rather guilty for his selfish emotions. He would not let his
instinctive fears be the cause of more hurt to this woman whom he
cared for more than anyone else he had ever known. And he would not
let her exotic beauty distract him from doing the right thing. He
didn't know what to do to help her, though. What was the right thing
to say? He had been just as frightened of losing Deanna when her
shuttle crashed as she was of losing him. But their jobs were
dangerous. It was a possibility they both had to face. And it was one
of the main reasons why he tried not to get overly attached to
anyone, especially her. Of course, Will knew there was no way he
could actually turn off his feelings; he was only fooling himself.
And he couldn't even do that well.

Her grief finally spent for a time, Deanna had begun to fall asleep,
so Will helped her over to her bed, removed her boots, and gently
pushed her to lie down. She slowly raised her grief leaden eyelids
and held him mesmerized by her penetrating gaze. He felt the soft
vibration of her mental voice touch his mind and understood her
message; "Stay with me."

Removing his own boots, and ignoring the sirens going off in his
head, he laid down next to her. She snuggled up to his side as his
arm went instinctively around her shoulders. Her head came to rest on
his chest, a warmly accustomed position they had assumed many times
in the distant past, and with a heavy sigh of contentment, she had
fallen asleep. He called for the lights to go out and after a while
he had dosed as well.

He had been startled awake at one point by something he couldn't
name. The counselor was still curled up next to him asleep, only
something was different. It was her hair. Sometime during the night
she had gotten up to remove her decorative hair ornaments, probably
because the bun was uncomfortable, and nestled into his arms again.
The long, thick curls spilled over Riker's chest, filling his
nostrils with their familiar clean, flowery scent. He reached down
and brought some of the silky strands to his face, breathing in the
sensuous memories they inspired.

Years before, when he had been stationed on Betazed and she was
finishing her graduate work in psychology, he had been inexplicably
drawn to her. He had pursued her relentlessly until she finally gave
in to his advances after he rescued her from a kidnapper. He had
played the part of the dashing hero with glorious ease, and she had
succumbed to it completely. The best of circumstances.

Deanna Troi had been his most difficult yet rewarding conquest. Once
she had given herself to him, they were like love-struck teenagers
who found it difficult to sit through an entire musical concert
without dashing off somewhere private to feverishly attack one
another. Over the course of their relationship, their bond had become
increasingly more serious until the thought of marriage had actually
crossed his mind at one point. That was when his transfer became
available, his first real assignment aboard the Yorktown, and he
eagerly took it.

He had to get off that dangerously sedate planet and get on with his
career. He had come closer to settling down with Deanna than any
other woman he had ever met, almost at the cost of his greatest
dream; to be a starship captain. The memory made him shudder.

Then she had appeared again, aboard his other greatest conquest, the
Enterprise… always haunting him – teasing him senseless, just when he
thought he was safe from her powers forever. Who was he kidding? It
was she who had conquered him. He would do anything for her, but he
preferred not to think about such weakness. It was easier to see
himself as the hero.

As Will's memories of the events that took place earlier in the night
sharpened into focus, he realized that here she was again, asleep in
his arms, just like old times. It appeared that they were drawn
together and had little choice in the matter.

During the early part of the night, Deanna had slept in the crook of
his arm, both of them fully clothed, for who knows how long? The
feeling of her curvacous form, fitting so well next to his, was at
once uncomfortable and arousing. It had occurred to him that he
should slip away before he did something he would regret, but as he
tried to move, her arm around his chest had only tightened. She
wasn't about to let him go anywhere. And he was a real bastard for
always thinking of himself first. She obviously still needed him,
though he couldn't see how he was helping her much. Why did she have
to be so damned beautiful? If he wasn't so attracted to her, he could
stay and hold her forever and the thought of sex might have never
enter his mind. But there he was, caught; wanting her, yet wanting to
run from her with equal intensity.

It didn't help matters much when she had turned her face up slightly
and he could feel her warm breath on his neck. He had risked a look
down and was surprised to see that her eyes were open - or was it
just the darkness playing tricks with his sight? No, she was
definitely awake. He couldn't mistake the image of her full,
perfectly sculpted lips as they turned up into a cautious, but
inviting smile. Losing every last ounce of control and dignity he had
left, he had leaned down and touched his lips to hers.

She returned his tender kiss with more force than he expected, her
arms moving up to circle his neck as she pulled him down closer to
her. He tasted her parted lips, drinking in her breath like fine
wine, then moved his mouth to the salty tear stains which had settled
on her cheeks, until all evidence of sadness had been kissed away.
Finally she pulled her lips from his and looked into his dark face
searchingly. He, already fully aroused, had assumed she would
remove herself completely from his embrace in embarrassment, as had
been their custom since their service aboard the Enterprise began.
Instead, to his further surprise, she unzipped his uniform to expose
his broad chest and ran her fingers through the sensitive hairs that
raised to her touch. Her mouth went to his neck as she kissed and
licked in downward circles while her hands found some sensitive
places of their own to further arouse. Driven beyond reason with
desire, he buried his face in the abundant softness of her hair,
heatedly kissing her eyes and cheeks, ears and neck.

It suddenly occurred to him that Betazoids commonly used sex to
relieve stress and frustration, even more than humans did. Maybe he
had found a way to help her after all. Unable to think clearly
anymore, he forced the screaming sirens into the background of his
mind. She took complete possession of him, mind, body, and soul.
Years ago this was what had frightened him away from her to begin
with, but what made her so irresistible now. He removed her uniform
expertly, touching and tasting her everywhere, and was delighted to
see that he still remembered all of her most sensitive areas: the
palms of her hands and tips of her delicate fingers, the undersides
of her forearms, the hollows of her shoulders and curves of her
breasts... Her groaning response to his touch spurned him onward to
rediscover her exquisite depths, his own skin aching to drown itself
in her softness.

The last thing he could remember clearly about the night before was
the instant when they eagerly embraced, her passionate gasp
resounding through his senses, and he felt Deanna in his mind. Her
deep probing would normally have made him nervous, but this time it
just added to the excitement of the moment. He actually felt their
souls merge, and it seemed like their mingling lasted an eternity.
Then he vaguely recalled a strange journey. She was guiding him
through outer space and he saw objects and places he couldn't begin
to describe. And there was someone else there ...someone he knew.
Was it Tasha? He wasn't sure if it was just a vivid dream, or some
bizarre alternate reality. By the initial disorientation and massive
headache he woke up with, something strange must have happened.
Now, looking down at the shadowy, voluptuous woman asleep in his
arms, Riker sighed and rubbed his eyes with his free hand. *You've
really done it this time, idiot!*

What was he going to say to her when she awoke? For over a year,
since he first saw her distracting face aboard the Enterprise, he had
avoided this situation like the plaque, only to plunge into it again
like a wild animal unable to refuse the call of nature. He couldn't
seem to control his emotions when it came to her. He hated not being
in control!

Very slowly, to avoid waking her, Will tried to remove himself from
the bed, and she actually complied by turning over, pulling the
covers closely about her shoulders with a sigh. *She got what she
wanted out of me and now she's done with it,* he joked to himself in
an attempt to avoid the thought of the confrontation which surely
awaited him when she awoke. But he wouldn't run away this time; he
still felt guilty enough about deserting her before. Besides, there
was nowhere to run now. They would have to resolve this relationship
once and for all, whatever the outcome.

He stood and stretched his cramped limbs, then headed for the
bathroom. Maybe a hot shower would help clear his head. After
tripping over his left boot, he scooped up his uniform and took it
with him. He couldn't exactly put on one of Deanna's tiny robes.

A brief while later, Will stepped out of the bathroom with his hair
still wet, feeling quite refreshed. He had been surprised when the
bathroom chronometer told him the time was 1200 hours. Nearly 19
hours had gone by since the funeral, but he could only remember about
five of them. He had to take over his shift in less than two hours.

This little talk of theirs had to happen now or get delayed again
until who knows when. Heading back toward the bedroom, Riker stopped
short in his tracks as he noticed that the bedroom was glowing with
soft light and Deanna was awake. She had donned an ankle length,
silky white robe, and was sitting in profile toward the back of the
bed, her arms locked around her knees. Glorious raven locks fell
erratically down her shoulders and back, and obsidian eyes
contemplated the bedspread. She looked like the Goddess Artemis
herself, statuesque, perfect. Was there something he wanted to talk
to her about? He couldn't remember at the moment.

As Will cautiously approached, Deanna turned her head, looked up at
him, and grinned shyly. To his relief, she appeared somewhat whole
again. He moved toward the bed and lowered himself beside her.

Oh, yeah! He had to apologize, that was it… and what was the other
thing? Well, It would surely come back to him if he just started
right in.

"Deanna, there's something I have to say," he paused, searching for
the right words. He could tell by her increasingly concerned
expression that she could sense his apprehension. "First of all, I
want to apologize for what I did."

"What did you do?" she asked innocently.

"I think I took advantage of you when you were most vulnerable," he
said, even though he knew the fault was at least half hers.

"You didn't take advantage of me. I'm the one who should apologize!
But I think I'd prefer to thank you instead. You helped me a great
deal last night."

"I did?"

"You saved me from a night I might have been unable bear alone. I'm
very grateful you were here." She opened her mouth to say something
else, then closed it again, changing her mind. She shook her head
slightly, and started on a different track. "Did you see Tasha?"

The question caught him off guard. "I guess I did. I thought it was
a dream or delusion or something. Then what little I do remember
from last night really happened?"

Deanna nodded and smiled, her large eyes filling with tears at the

Will thought about this a bit. He knew that strange things tended to
happen when he was alone with Deanna Troi, especially when she tried
to teach him how to read her thoughts years ago. But he could never
seem to trust enough to completely let go. He constantly ran into
stumbling blocks in his own psyche. Places where his feelings were
more than well guarded against alien invasion, and he trusted no one,
including himself, with this part of his mind.

He also didn't like surprises; he wasn't in control then. Seeing
Tasha was a surprise that he had absolutely no control over. He
would have to think about the whole experience later when his memory
returned. If it ever returned. As it was, he had something else to
get off his chest, so he changed the subject.

"Well, if you won't accept my apology for last night, maybe you will
for something I did a long time ago that I still regret. I shouldn't
have abandoned you on Betazed the way I did. I don't know why you
don't hate me for that, and it would be hard for me to explain why I
did it." He swallowed hard and braced himself for the outburst he
surely deserved.

"Will, it's okay," Deanna responded gently, "I knew why you left. I
admit I was terribly hurt, but I always understood the motivation
behind your decision. You were afraid I was expecting a commitment
which would keep you from achieving your ambitions. What I don't
understand is why you never asked me?"

Will was astonished by this response. When was he ever going to
learn that women were impossible to predict? Particularly this
woman. "Asked you?"

"Yes. If you had asked me, I would have told you that I wasn't
expecting that kind of commitment in our relationship."

"Well, what were you expecting? When you started calling
me 'Imzadi' .. ."

"I meant that I cared for you, and still do very deeply. But I never
meant to possess you in the way you thought. Your ambition to be a
starship captain requires that you put your ship first above all
else. I would never have stood in the way of your dreams."

"They were very selfish dreams," Riker frowned. Her patient
understanding only fed his guilt.

"They were important dreams." Deanna touched his clean-shaven cheek
with her cool fingers and gently turned his face to look at
her. "Will, being a starship captain is your destiny. I always knew
what that meant in terms of our relationship. You don't need a wife.
Your ship will take the place of that. And I never wanted a husband.
I had my own need for freedom too, you realize."

Riker shook his head and sighed, feeling dumber by the second.

"Well, it's true. As a graduate student I had my own goals. I didn't
want to become so attached to you that I would be unable to pursue my
own career in Star Fleet unless we could be stationed together.

Riker shook his head again in utter bewilderment. "I didn't even
consider that you had ambitions of your own. How dense can I get?
But you never talked about your goals..."

"Yes, I did, Will. You just didn't listen too well when you were, uh,
preoccupied." She grinned mischievously.

"Am I that sexist?" Will began to despair that he had caused all of
this emotional strain between them needlessly.

"No, you're just old fashioned," she smiled and laughed lightly. Then
becoming very serious again, she said, "Another thing that worried me
was the possibility of either of us dying, the way one of us could
have two days ago. Our jobs aren't exactly the safest in Star Fleet.
It's frightening to become too attached to someone who risks his life
so often for his career. I could have lost you the other day and I
don't know if I would have survived it. That frightens me. So I spend
most of my time worrying about your safety."

"Likewise," was all he could say. She had read his mind again, for
about the millionth time in the past 19 hours.

"You're feeling guilty."

"Yeah," be grumbled.


Riker stood from the bed and paced back and forth as he usually did
when he had trouble assimilating his thoughts into words. "I don't
know," he finally admitted. "Maybe it's because part of the time you
spent worrying about me, I may have been with other women having the
time of my life."

"Likewise." Deanna's cheeks reddened a bit.

It took Riker a few seconds to understand what she meant by
that. "You mean you..."

"Yes, Will," she cut him off. "Does that surprise you?" Her tone was

"Well, I obviously knew about Wyatt Miller but you mean there were
others?" He looked at her accusingly.

"Yes." She returned his glare defiantly, daring him to verbalize the
double standard he was suggesting.

He was about to argue the point irrationally, his emotions
threatening to overwhelm his ability to reason. Then something
snapped in his mind and he saw how unfair he was being to her. He
drooped his offensive stance and let his shoulders sag in
defeat. "Sorry," he mumbled, sitting back down on the bed. His elbows
rested on his knees as his head fell into his hands. "I'm a real
character. I get jealous at the thought of you with other men, but I
can't promise to be faithful myself."

"Whoever asked for faithfulness? I would never ask that of you as I
hope you would not expect it of me. I admit I have experienced times
of jealousy in the past, when you were with other women, but I only
felt that way because you spent so much time avoiding me. I kept
wondering when it would be my turn." She smiled jokingly and nudged
him in the lower back with her toes. Then she added, "I don't think
you understand my background very well. Are you familiar with the
Betazoid concept of free love, or where the tradition of genetic
bonding came from?"

"Not really."

"Genetic bonding, the Betazoid tradition of matching genetically
perfect babies for marriage as adults, used to be a necessity
thousands of years ago, after a plague ravaged our planet and left
very few men alive. Most of the women who escaped death were made
barren by the disease. At that time, marriage was actually outlawed.
Because so few women were able to bear children, the ones who could
were required to take many lovers. This new law was accepted with
little conflict since Betazoids have never considered monogamy to be
a requirement of marriage to begin with. Marriage is simply a
partnership - a way of cooperating together in order to raise
children. This is the largest difference between Human and Betazoid

"Well, when a cure for the infertility problem was finally
discovered, the early experimental drugs produced dangerous side
effects including infant mutations and still-births. It turned out
that the drug worked better with specific genetic make-ups. So,
genetic bonding was invented and it has been traditionally used by
the royal houses ever since, even though it has far outlived its

"Many Betazoids still comply with the custom of genetic bonding,
simply because it's a tradition, and because it is practical to a
certain extent. Our children are born with far fewer illnesses and
birth defects because of it. But in the past few hundred years,
Betazoids have combined the obligation of genetic bonding with the
older tradition of free love, so that monogamous marriage is a rare,
highly personal choice these days. It is not easy for Betazoids to
hide their feelings from each other, so free love is a lifestyle
better suited to the honesty we are comfortable with. It also makes
the often unreasonable demands of genetic bonding more bearable. This
is why I would not have been prevented from caring for you, Will, if
I had married Wyatt Miller ...although your feelings on that subject
were different from my own..."

She gave a short sigh, then continued, "Ever since my near union with
Wyatt, I've reexamined my goals. I decided that I'm not ready to he a
wife, and I may never be ready. I rather like the ways of free love.
I have never believed people can own each other the way human
marriages suggest."

Riker shook his head. "I still don't understand. Call me old
fashioned, but I don't think I get the idea of free love." He fought
with his own insecurity, trying to sound more mature that he
felt. "Where does all this leave us?"

While he felt relieved that she wasn't expecting a solid commitment
from him, and that she wasn't angry about the stupid things he had
done in the past, he still couldn't find an easy way to define their
relationship. Could he share her with other men and not feel jealous?

She slid over to his side, took his hand in hers, and put her head on
his shoulder. "It leaves us as we have always been: best friends born
of the same spirit, who may sometimes share our affection physically,
but who will always have a private, unconditional trust and caring
for one another which defines itself. That's enough for me, as long
as I don't get ignored entirely. I love spending private time with
you, Will, just to talk and be in your calming presence, like now. I
don't want to give that up just because you're afraid I'll expect
more than what we have."

Deanna's words changed him in some indescribable way. Released him.
As her took her into his arms again, his guilt quickly faded away.
What they had together went far deeper than the simplistic definition
most had for the concept of a relationship. She was the only person

who ever made him feel safe enough to love. Maybe someday they would
decide to spend the rest of their lives together as a married couple,
but for now, he could be content with the knowledge that they had a
spiritual bonding which would endure beyond the boundaries of
marriage, and likely beyond the boundaries of death.

They had trust.