Their Mutual Friend

By Clare Holborow



"Have you ever been deeply in love with someone who didn't feel the same way about you?" Deanna Troi asked, her dark eyes intense with emotion.

Doctor Beverly Crusher shook her head, then took a sip of the hot tea she had become increasingly fond of since the Captain had introduced her to it.

Deanna glanced around her friend's quarters, as if she were afraid the walls might have ears or that someone might be there. "I can't concentrate on anything. I can't sleep. I lie awake for hours analyzing every word he has said, interpreting every moment I have spent with him during the day. And then I start wishing that I was with him and I have to resist the urge to get dressed and go to his quarters. It's insane, Beverly, or maybe I am."

Beverly shook her head again. "You're not insane, Deanna. It sounds to me like the real thing. You're just in love."

Deanna leaned closer, as if she was about to reveal a big secret. She lowered her voice to a whisper. "I've even gone off chocolate!"

Her friend looked momentarily stunned by the revelation. "That does sound serious." Deanna was a well known chocoholic. Her sparkling eyes regarded the Counselor. "Let me guess... It's Will isn't it?"

"Is it that obvious?"

"Maybe not to everyone."

Deanna sighed heavily. "I don't know how this happened. I thought I had accepted that friendship was all it would be between us."

"Why don't you talk to him about it?"

She shook her head. "I can't do that. I don't want to risk loosing the friendship we have. Besides, I'm pretty sure that he isn't interested in becoming involved with me again. Being rejected by him would be awful." She tried to imagine how that would feel.

Beverly smiled slightly. The conversation she had had with Will Riker a few days ago suggested that he would not be adverse to a more intimate relationship with his Imzadi. She could remember the sparkle in his azure eyes when the conversation had turned to Deanna. Although he had not directly stated his feelings, he had said that he had been spending more and more time with Deanna and he had enjoyed every moment. They were the words of a man with more than friendly intentions. However, she wondered if he had the same reservations as Deanna - not wanting to spoil the friendship.

Beverly looked thoughtful, almost as if she were planning something.

Her friend appeared not to notice. "Well." She said, brushing her dark hair away from the side of her face. "I am a great believer in fate. If it is meant to happen, it will." She stood. "I have an appointment in five minutes. I'll see you in Ten Forward later." She said, referring to their usual arrangement.

The Doctor nodded. "Bye." She smiled as her friend walked out of the room. But her mind was already scheming away. It was obvious that in this case fate needed a helping hand, and she was in an extremely helpful mood...

"Crusher out." Beverly said to the computer. She smiled. The whole thing was so easy to set up. She had asked Deanna to meet her in Holodeck 1 instead of Ten Forward. She had promised her friend that she would have a great time. The Counselor must have been preoccupied at the time, as she did not ask any questions or seem curious about the change of plans. She had simply agreed.

Getting Riker there had been a little more difficult. After some thought, Beverly had decided that the best thing to do was give the most believable explanation. She told him that there was a holodeck program that she wanted him to see. She had not revealed any more detail than that, although she had expected him to ask her for more information. He must have been preoccupied or busy with something else.

"Doctor, Ensign Salter is asking if she can go back to normal duty again." Said one of Beverly's junior nurses.

The Doctor jumped up from her chair and rushed out of the door to chastise her patient, who had already been told several times that she was not well enough to leave sickbay for a few days. Impatient patients are the most difficult to cope with, but Beverly took them within her stride, a result of her considerable experience as a Doctor.

For now, her mind was on her job. Meanwhile, time was marching on - closer and closer to the prearranged date in the holodeck.

Deanna Troi was unsure about what to wear. She stood in front of the full length mirror in her Bathroom, wondering whether she should bother to change out of her uniform. Beverly had not even hinted at what kind of holodeck program she was going to be running. She decided against changing, as she knew that she would feel silly if she turned up wearing something completely inappropriate. A Starfleet Uniform was designed to be suitable for almost any situation, temperature, location and occasion.

She ran a brush through her dark, slightly wavy hair. As she did so, she thought about her Imzadi. It annoyed her sometimes that she could not control these split second thoughts that crept in when she was least expecting it. She wondered what he was doing, where he was or sometimes thought about things he had said. She always heard his voice or his laugh in her mind when she had these thoughts. She had given up trying to ignore or stop it a long time ago. She knew that she would only ever have one Imzadi, even if she fell in love with someone else. So he would forever be a part of her and vice versa. Even if they did not see each other every day, it would not change that.

She sighed and checked her appearance once more in the mirror before she left the room.

When Deanna reached the holodeck, the program was already running, and she pushed a short sequence of buttons on the control panel to her right. The doors immediately opened.

She gasped with surprise. In front of her was her favourite childhood haunt. All around her were lush green plants, the air was warm and inviting. Colourful flowers bloomed amongst the bushes and leaves all around her, their sweet scent washing over her as she walked into the room. The doors closed behind her and vanished from sight.

She could see, beyond the foliage, the beginning of the beach. There was something intoxicating about the sea. She had always loved sitting on the beach, just listening to and watching the waves. She had told Beverly about this - her favourite place - a few weeks ago. Her friend had created a surprisingly accurate recreation considering Deanna had only verbally described it to her.