As usual, comments are appreciated, but I understand some of you are too busy to read the story and comment, so I'm pleased if you are simply reading it!
By Clare Holborow
Counsellor Deanna Troi mimicked Lieutenant Worf's slow, controlled movements as she stood at the back of the class he was teaching, her dark hair swinging as she turned and moved. Mok'bara was becoming increasingly popular with the crew, Worf had been forced to schedule two classes as the room simply wasn't big enough for all the officers interested. He considered it a challenge. Of course he would. Thought Deanna to herself with a smile.
She glanced around the room, her gaze finally settling on the man in front of her. Will Riker, the ship's First Officer was completely oblivious to her attention. He was too busy concentrating on following Worf's movements, as he rarely attended the classes and was therefore a little less experienced than the others present. He told himself the reason he was so bad was because they had all been attending religiously, and probably been practising in their quarters as well.
Deanna continued looking at him, admiring the way he moved, remembering the distant memory of how he used to hold her and make her feel safe. But that was a long time ago, far from the realities of the present. She opened her empathic powers, reaching for the comforting sense of his mind. Whenever she was scared, lonely or unhappy, simply being with him was enough to allow her to draw on his strength and feel comforted. They had always been there for each other, and she often wondered if things would go back to the way they had been, but as time went on and they stayed "just good friends", she became less and less convinced that he felt the same way.
Lost in her thoughts, Deanna had failed to notice the difficulty Riker was having in keeping up with the rest of the class. As he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, he somehow miscalculated and lost his balance, falling backwards. Deanna tried to put her arms out stop him falling on to her, but it was no use. They both toppled to the ground in a flurry of arms and legs, amidst the laughter of the people around them.
They disentangled themselves from each other and stood up, he apologising profusely, she trying to ignore how his brief closeness had affected her.
Worf had by this point realised that it was time to end the lesson, and dismissed the class, allowing a rather embarrassed First Officer to leave the room before anyone else.
Deanna, for an empath had been very negligent with her powers. She had failed to notice that his embarrassment was due to his continually stronger feelings for her. He had thought it was rather obvious, another reason to leave the room in a hurry. In his opinion it was only a matter of time before she called casually by to see him to "discuss the situation".
Deanna was working what she hoped to be miracles with her computer. She nearly had second thoughts, perhaps she was interfering too much. She shook her head, it was obvious how much they both enjoyed spending time together. There was no harm in giving fate a helping hand. She smiled slightly. She was fed up with the CMO moaning about the attraction between them that never seemed to be going anywhere. There had been a time when the Captain had been willing to give a relationship between them a try, but it had been the wrong time for her.
Evidently, Beverly Crusher felt differently now, but was clearly having trouble working up the courage to discuss the matter directly with the object of her affections. Deanna figured Beverly would have done the same thing if their positions had been reversed. She switched off the desktop console in front of her, and thought of the events that could transpire later on.
Beverly Crusher returned to her quarters after a long shift in sickbay. "Computer, messages." She said, almost instinctively.
"You have one message."
"Relay it to the computer at this table." She commanded.
She read the message with surprise and delight. It was an invitation from the Captain to have dinner together, in his quarters.
She almost ran to the cupboard where she kept her favourite outfits, although she wanted to wear something special, something memorable and suspected that she might be forced to replicate something.
She scurried about, wanting to look perfect, and wishing somewhat that he had given her more notice, more time to prepare.
By the time Beverly had perfected her look to her satisfaction, and made her way to the Captain's quarters, it was past the agreed time. Picard had been pacing his quarters, wondering whether she had forgotten or something more important had demanded her attention.
Picard stared at her as she entered his quarters and walked towards the table he had prepared. "Beverly, you look wonderful." He said with sincerity in the warm voice she loved to hear.
She was wearing a deep blue dress made of a fabric that shined and glinted as she moved. It had a modestly cut rounded neckline, a figure hugging bodice and a full flowing skirt. Her red hair flowed around her shoulders, flattering her features.
She sat down on the chair he pulled out for her. She smiled at him as he then sat opposite her, and they began the meal, which was traditional French food.
They talked about various trivial matters for most of the evening, until the Doctor realised how late it was. By this time they had moved from the table to a comfortable sofa nearby. "I really should be going." She said, taking her hand away from his. It had seemed for a moment that he might kiss her, and for some reason it had made her back away. What am I frightened of? She asked herself. It wasn't the first time she had found herself in that situation.
His concerned eyes gazed back at her, begging her to stay. He hadn't said a word, his expression and eyes told her all he wanted to convey.
But it was not enough to change her mind. "Thank you for inviting me." She said.
He frowned. "I didn't invite you."
"Yes you did, Jean-Luc. The message, remember." She thought he had simply forgotten.
"You wrote me a message." He said.
"What? I haven't had the time to write messages to you, I've been so busy."
"Well then, it seems we have a matchmaker at work here."
"Who?" Beverly wondered aloud.
"I don't know." He replied. "But I owe them a favour. I don't think I would have had the courage to invite you to dinner."
She understood. She had the same reservations about asking him. "Well, Jean-Luc, don't you think we should live up to the expectations of our mystery cupid?" Beverly said with a heart-warming smile.
He didn't have to ask what she meant, as she moved closer to him for a kiss which he returned with surprising eagerness and passion.
They broke apart, and for a second neither said a word. But then Beverly stood and said "Good night.", leaving him to think about the wonderful evening and the little mystery he intended to solve.
The next morning, Deanna Troi walked in to sickbay to see one of the patients. She looked over at the man she wished to talk to, but she had evidently chosen the wrong moment, as he was asleep. She turned to walk out again, but saw Beverly working in her office.
Working was what Beverly was supposed to be doing, but instead she was gazing into nothingness, lost in a daydream. Deanna surmised that it was a pleasant vision, as her friend had a wide smile on her face.
"Beverly.... Beverly!" She said, having a good idea what had caused her lack of concentration.
"Oh, Deanna." She replied, flustered with embarrassment that someone had caught her daydreaming like a teenager. "I was just... thinking."
Deanna nodded, as if she had no idea what had happened.
But Beverly had not missed the glint in the Counsellor's eyes. It must be her. She thought. No one else knows how we feel, or would be confident enough to meddle in the Captain's personal life.
She wanted to jump up and hug her friend, thanking her for the huge favour, but something stopped her. She had a little plan of her own. She would pay Deanna back in the only fair way possible.
The Counsellor was completely oblivious to Beverly's scheming plans, and left the office after they had arranged their next work-out session in the Gymnasium.
Beverly watched her friend leave, the corners of her mouth lifting in to a slight smile. Everyone could see that Will Riker still looked at his Imzadi with love in his eyes. Everyone except Deanna of course. She had told Beverly in the past that even though she still loved him, it had been over between them for a long time. Deanna's eyes had belied her real feelings when she had said that. Beverly knew all they needed was a helping hand, and she was just the person to do it.
Deanna did not receive an invitation like Beverly and Picard had. That would have been too obvious. Beverly prided herself on originality. She sent Will an invitation, from Deanna. He would "unexpectedly" turn up at her quarters, having read the little note that told him she was still in love with him. She had not specifically stated that, merely hinted at it enough to ensure that he would want to find out for certain. If Deanna wasn't ready for such a change in the relationship between them, she would say so. Beverly was certain of that.
She wasted no more time in thinking about their romance and concentrated on her own. After the success of the previous evening, she had invited Jean-Luc to her quarters for another intimate meal. She hadn't been able to stop thinking about him since the previous evening, and had thought about whether she was ready to begin a romantic relationship with him if she found herself in the position where she had to decide. She was certain that she was ready, even though she still felt guilty about Jack whenever she began seeing someone, the guilt had decreased over the years. He would want her to be happy, which was something Deanna had told her over and over again, until she had finally realised it was true.
Meanwhile, Deanna was relaxing in her quarters, wondering why Beverly had not been at the Gymnasium when they had only arranged it a few hours before. She lay on the sofa opposite the door to her quarters, and before she heard the door chime, she sensed him outside, desperate to talk to her.
"Come in." She said.
Will Riker walked in, and upon seeing her in front of him he walked towards her only stopping when he could walk no further. "Deanna, you are still in love with me." He said, wishing she would look at him.
Her eyes opened in surprise. How had he known? Since they had began serving on the Enterprise, neither had admitted their real feelings. It was almost as if it were a taboo subject. They could talk about anything - except their relationship. The directness of his words had startled her. She sat up to face him, as he sat down next to her, turning to face her.
"Well, am I right?" He pressed, eager for her answer.
Thinking back on the past few days, she could only think of one incident that might have given him reason to think that - when he had fallen on to her. She was sure she had kept her expression blank to avoid such a scene as this. "I'm not answering that unless you tell me how you really feel about me."
She knows! He thought. Of course, it had been foolish to think that she wouldn't. But the truth was she didn't know. The love she had sensed from him in the past she had interpreted as friendly love. They were still very good friends after all.
Will didn't know how to answer. If he told her how he felt and she said she didn't feel the same way about him, he would feel terrible. And she might feel obliged to make it up to him somehow. The last thing he wanted was her pity. "You're my best friend and the most important person in my life." He felt comfortable admitting that much.
Deanna knew that. She wanted to tell him how she really felt about him, but after he had confirmed that he was only interested in friendship, she thought that she would look rather silly if she told him the truth. She smiled. "I was just about to say the same thing about you."
"So... you're not still in love with me." If she admitted it, he knew he would too.
Her eyes searched his face, as if somehow it would help her to decide how to reply. "No, I'm not." Deanna hated lying to him, but under the circumstances thought it was fully justified. "But what if I had said yes?" She wondered aloud.
"Then I would have told you a secret. Something I should have told you a long time ago."
"It doesn't matter now. Good night Deanna." He stood up to leave.
"Have you eaten yet?" She asked before he had time to get to the door.
"Stay here and have dinner with me." She almost pleaded, hoping she could find out more about "the secret" if he stayed.
He smiled. "I'd like that."
They continued talking into the night, Will never finding out whether she really did love him, and Deanna never finding out his secret.
A week later, Beverly and Jean-Luc found themselves having dinner together again, as did Deanna and Will. The former couple had not agreed to begin a romantic affiliation, although they had discussed the possibility and had simply decided to spend more time together and let their relationship develop naturally.
Deanna and Will, however, were having problems. Neither wanted to admit how much they really enjoyed the other's company, how much they thought they were perfect for each other.
Doctor Beverly Crusher was really fed up with the Counsellor and First Officer. Deanna had been keeping her up to date on all the latest between them, and it seemed that the Doctor's matchmaking plan had nearly, but not quite been successful. It called for drastic action and a small smile came over her face as she came up with a fool proof plan.
Deanna smiled as she read the simple, yet magical message on her small computer console in her quarters. "I love you Imzadi."
It was true they had been spending a lot of time together recently, and she had wondered exactly how it would alter their relationship. His love had always been a strong emotion to her, and she had felt it growing over the past few weeks. It had only been a matter of time, she realised, before those feelings were revealed.
Little did she realise that Will Riker had received the same message from her.
"She loves me?" The First Officer said aloud with surprise.
He stood up, a smile on his face. "She loves me!" He repeated with childish delight.
He wasted no time in rushing to her quarters, alarming the crew members walking along the same corridor. He rang Deanna's door chime impatiently, which combined with the huge smile still on his face, resulted in some very curious glances in his direction.
He entered her quarters as soon as the doors permitted him to. She was stood in front of him, a puzzled expression dominating her Betazoid features.
The Counsellor did not push him away as he pulled her close and softly pressed his lips to hers. He pulled away and looked into her eyes. "I love you." He said.
"I know." She replied with a smile.
She pulled him back down to return the kiss. In his head he heard the words
he would remember forever and would, years later tell his adorable grandchildren.
"And I love you too, Imzadi."