Pairing: T, R -- This is a friendship only story with much innuendo of a W/T pairing.
Setting: After Worf left…can be anywhere really, but for good
measures, let's say a couple months after Insurrection.
Disclaimer: Yep, no, really, right, it's here, somewhere, I think?
Summary: Will and Deanna have a little heart to heart talk and come
to some important conclusions Right now I'm thinking sequel…emphasis
on *thinking*
Reviews: Oh yes please! I'm out of substitutes *sweet smile*

Best of Friends

"Dea?" The solemn figure at the other side of the room jumped
slightly at the calling of her name, a reaction he'd come to
associate with her. Sighing silently, he approached her with a heavy
heart, not at all looking forward to this night. "We need to talk."

A soft intake of breath was the only sound that accompanied the
movements she made to face him; her curls slightly swaying back and
forth. A sultry smile lay on her full lips, inviting and inciting
him, only this time he refused to rise to the bait. "Talk can be so…
overrated." Never had she reminded him more of her mother than right
at that moment, and before he had recovered she had already swung
her arms around his neck and fastened her mouth on his.

For a second he fell into the kiss, exploring the sweet offering he
knew so well, but the soft sigh that left her throat reminded him of
why he'd come to her in the first place. Gently, but firmly he
shoved her away from him and locked his eyes onto her black ones.
Just as every other time he'd done so since renewing their
relationship her eyes darted away before he could unravel the
feelings hidden within them.

"Do we have to?" She pouted as sensuously as she could manage,
falling into a pattern he had recognized only a short while ago. For
someone who had spent the larger part of her life dealing with
emotions, she had developed a nearly perfect technique to avoid
them. He grabbed her by the arms and forcefully shoved her back
until she fell onto the couch; for a brief moment in time her eyes
flashed with passion, but then she remembered and the spark of
emotion disappeared into the void in her mind. "What is it Will?"
The tone of her voice had become normal for her during the past
months; distant and flat. There were no longer any emotions in her
voice or features, just distraction. As if her mind and heart were
light-years away.

"Tell me what you're feeling." His unusual request initiated another
surge of emotion; this time shock and surprise. "What?"

"What are you feeling?" Will repeated, carefully punctuating each
word. "You're not yourself; you're not happy and everything about
you shouts that you want to be anywhere but here."

"That's not true!" she shot back. More out of habit than out of
honesty he guessed. "I love you!"

"I know you do" and he did, he always had, "but you're not –in- love
with me." Again she started to object, but Riker continued before
she could finish her first word. "Don't. Don't hide yourself Dea,
not from me. Never from me."

The Betazoid turned her face away from the man she called Imzadi.
She had no right to lie to him, in fact, she had no right to even be
with him. It wasn't that there wasn't any love between them, for
there was but only a deep friendship. Deanna let out a long,
shuddering breath and turned to face Will again. "I had no right"
she whispered softly, finally acknowledging what he already knew.

"You did" he grinned, allowing humor to lighten the situation for
just a moment, then turned serious again. "You do not love me, do

"I do…but not the way you mean. I just…" She fell silent, her gaze
returning to the stars as if looking for the answer among them.

Ironically, Will was now aware, the answer was indeed somewhere out
there. "Just what Dea?"

"I just…oh I'm sorry Will! I never meant to…to hurt you." Each tear
that fell from her eyes tugged at his heart, but he fought the urge
to wrap her in his arms, knowing that this was something she had to
face on her own. She looked up at him with tear strained eyes, for
the first time in too long acknowledging what her heart had been
screaming all along. "I just…wanted someone to love me." She bit her
lower lip to keep from crying, so desperately holding on to the last
strands of her control that her teeth pierced the tender skin and
drops of red sharply contrasted with her pale complexion.

"So, why not find someone *you* love as well?" The question had left
his mouth without his conscious consent and when he saw raw pain
flicker across her beautiful features he wished he could take it
back. She turned her back to him again and remained silent. He was
still waiting for her to speak, telepathically or verbally, when he
realized her shoulders where shaking. Not sure what else to do he
placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

The contact broke through the silence, and between sobs and tortured
breaths she found the strength to speak. "I'm so sorry Will…I just…I
just didn't want to be alone anymore. I've treated you wrong and I
understand if you hate me for it, if you leave."


"It's all right, everyone always leaves. I should have learned that
by now. Worf, you, Damien, Boaz; you all left. Maybe it's time that
I accept that."

Ever since he had realized that she no longer was in love with him,
he had thought of a hundred different reasons why she was still with
him…and yet, despite all his pondering, he hadn't thought of the one
she'd just revealed. He pulled at her with his hand and forced her
to turn. He cupped her chin and looked into tear-filled obsidian
eyes. "Hey, don't think like that. You're a beautiful woman and I
just know there's someone out there for you."

"I don't want `someone out there', I want someone in *here*." She
hit her own chest and barely controlled a wince of pain. "I want a
lover, a companion; someone who'll stay with me for the rest of my
life! Someone to marry, to have children with, someone like…" She
stopped herself short and tried to turn away again, but Riker's
strong grasp prevented her from doing so.

He listened to her halting words, noting that the passion, the
desperation with which she spoke was a far greater show of emotion
than anything he'd heard or seen from her the past six months…and
even more surprising; he felt no jealousy or anger or even regret
that she wasn't talking about him. They were okay, they still were
what they'd been for years; best of friends and all that mattered to
him now was that she would be okay. "You can say it; like?"

Deanna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. On a tremulous
exhalation she whispered "Like Worf."

He enfolded her in his arms then, as much as to reassure himself as
to reassure her. She would be all right; she had to be. "Then why
didn't you go after him? Why did you stay here, with me?"

Her breath was warm against the wetted material of his uniform as
she spoke. "You've been my best friend for so long. You declined
promotions and transfers, I just allowed myself to believe that…that
you'd be here forever." At her confession she felt a spark of
something within him and it took her all of a few seconds to realize
what it meant. "They offered you another promotion, didn't they?"

Riker could only nod. "The Nakeye. I'm going to accept this time."

"You earned it long ago." Despite the pain still hunting her she
smiled genuinely and tightened her arms around his muscled form in

"I was going to ask you to join me, but…"

"I know." Troi stepped back and willed herself to look into his
crystal clear eyes. "I think it's time to start over. For both of

He nodded and bent forward, their lips meeting half way in a tender,
loving, but passionate-less kiss. "Will you be all right?" She
looked breath-taking vulnerable; her dark curls plastered against
her cheeks and her dark eyes too large and too watery in her face
and he couldn't help but feel protective of her.

She smiled up at him, still sad and lonely, but assuring even
so. "Yes. Yes, I think I will be."

Will nodded and squeezed her shoulder in encouragement. "Good luck

"Fair sailing Captain Riker." He watched her as she left; praying
that she would be all right indeed and reflected upon the months
they'd shared as lovers. He had expected to be angry at her for
allowing him to live a lie. Now, however, he knew that the past
months were something to be treasured. Almost like a visit to the
past, different and yet so alike.

What had happened between them, from the very moment they'd met,
showed nothing if not that they were best of friends, through thick
and thin. And now he realized that that was all they were meant to
be. And it was all right. It was all right that she no longer loved
him like a lover, or as a wife and although he felt a pang of regret
as he watched her leave, he just knew that it was how it was
supposed to be…best of friends