Author: D. Destiny

Paring: T/R

Rating: G

Setting: Pre-Briar Patch.

Note: Just a short little interlude to satisfy Gloria's need ;)

Disclaimer: If you really want one, just mail me okay? ;)



"Come in." Will Riker walked into the quarters, just like he had so many times before. Only this time he froze in his steps as his eyes fell on her.

Deanna was standing near her couch. A long, white gown hung loosely around her frame, thick dark ringlets encircled her obsidian eyes and her hair was dishevelled.

"My god Dea, you look exhausted!"

"Why William, you certainly know how to flatter a girl." For a moment Will grinned, but then he moved to Troi's side and guided her to sit on the couch. He pulled her head against his chest and enveloped her body with his arms.

Deanna tucked her feet underneath her and snuggled closer against his warm body. Tenderly he kissed her hair before asking the question burning in his mind.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I'm just a bit tired." In response Riker placed a finger under her delicate chin and made her face him.

"Deanna, you're *not* just 'a bit tired'." The concern that showed in his blue eyes made it impossible for the Betazoid to keep up her facade any longer. Heavily sighing she dropped her head back against his chest.

"I'm fine, really. I've just been working a lot lately. Psycho-evaluations, our recent Away Mission, organizing the meeting with Regent Cuzar for today and now this thing with Data. The Captain asked me for a full profile about the Ba'Ku and their way of life and on top of that the sudden change in our mission and the fact we'll enter the Briar Patch in thirty-six hours has the entire crew a bit apprehensive and frightened." A second sigh ended her explanation. Silently Riker agreed with her observations; he too had noticed the crew's apprehension about entering the Briar Patch and he had to admit; he was a bit reluctant himself as well. He realized there must be an enormous strain on Troi's empathy and mentally he kicked himself for not realizing sooner.

"Shall I ask Beverly to give you something to sleep?" Immediately her body tensed.

"No!" She sensed his surprise over her sudden reaction and quickly explained. "Those drugs mute my empathy and that...that frightens me." Will knew that such an admission from Deanna Troi was rare and felt privileged she confided in him. He also remembered how scared she had been when she'd lost her empathy temporarily a couple of years earlier.

"You need to sleep Dea."

"I will. Please don't call Beverly."

"Okay, but I will give you the day off tomorrow." To his surprise she didn't even object. For a reason he wasn't even aware off he felt like talking and so he did. "The meeting this afternoon with Regent Cuzar went perfect Dea. Everyone was having a good time."

"Hmm, hmmm." Riker smiled at his friend's mumbled response and stroke her hair while continuing talking. Content Deanna focussed her senses on him and listened to his voice.

"The food was delicious. Only I think next time we should be more careful with the synthehol." He remembered the Regent's behaviour after just two glasses of synthehol all too well. "I kinda liked the beatwork-thingie they had for Captain Picard though...Dea?"


"Deanna?" Realizing she'd fallen asleep he allowed himself a few moments to study her now peaceful features.

Reluctantly he eventually got up and scooped her in his arms, careful not to wake her.

He laid her down and lovingly tucked her in. After spending a few minutes marvelling at her beauty he gently kissed her cheek.

"Sleep tight Imzadi." And left to find his Captain.


After having talked to Picard about a day off for the Ship's Counselor Will went to check on Deanna before going to bed himself. To his surprise, and concern her found her fully awake sitting on her couch.

"Deanna?" The look in her eyes when he met them was one of pure guilt and even a slight bit of shame.

"Oh Will. Thank you for your care, but you really didn't have to come back." He quickly moved towards her, all the time holding her gaze.

"I'm glad I did." His voice was more stern than he had intended it to be, but she didn't seem to notice. The slight dropping of her head was all he needed to wrap his arms around her.

"Dea, something's bothering you. Tell me what's wrong." For a brief moment she considered telling him about the craving that had been haunted her waking *and* sleeping hours the past months. About the desire that was now stronger than it ever had been. The want, and perhaps even the need, to create a steady relationship, to have someone waiting for her every day and every night for the rest of life.

That someone being Will-The Thrill-Riker nonetheless.

She didn't tell him however and instead told him,

"I'll be fine Will. I'm just having some trouble sleeping, that's all." But Will knew her well enough to know that was *not* all, he also knew that right now there was no point asking further. Thus instead he guided her back into her bedroom and motioned her to lay down. Quickly he tucked her in and tenderly kissed her goodnight. But when he straightened his back and looked in those soulful, dark eyes he was shocked by the vulnerability in them.

"Please, stay with me tonight?" Her small and quiet voice was just loud enough for him to hear. Her request warmed, worried and surprised him all at once and also made it impossible for him to say no.

"Sure, let me get my stuff." Troi didn't move or acknowledge his response in any way, but her gratitude practically beamed off her face. She felt guilty for asking him to give up his private time, but right now she needed the solace of having him nearby.

While Will was gone she allowed herself to think about 'them' for a while. But her exhaustion took away the thrill she felt over finally spending the night with her Imzadi again. Be it in a totally non-romantic way.

Just before Will returned she forced her mind off him and sweetly smiled as he peeked around the corner of her bedroom door before he walked into the bathroom to change.

Clad in shorts and a blue T-shirt Will re-entered her bedroom. Although usually he slept in nothing more than his briefs, he'd opted to wear something a little more 'decent' tonight.

More for his sake than hers.

Deanna moved over to one side of the bed and Will crawled in next to her. The Betazoid laid her head on his broad chest and placed both her hands near her face. Will drew up the sheets over their bodies and made himself comfortable.

"Thank you Will." His throat tightened at the sheer gratitude in her voice.

"Hey, that's what best friend's are for don't you agree?" He could shoot himself for saying that!

"Yes, I suppose." He'd almost swear he heard disappointment in her voice but shove it off as wishful thinking.

To help Deanna fall asleep he focussed on feelings of peace, content and tranquillity and within a couple of minutes the empath had drifted off to a deep, much needed sleep.

Only then did Riker allow himself to think about the woman in his arms in a more romantic and permanent way. Right now, with Deanna in his arms, did he feel truly and wholly content and he would've given anything to be with her like this every night. The past months he'd been thinking more and more about them as a couple, a married couple nonetheless.

And as he looked down at her gorgeous, seemingly ageless features, he only knew how badly he wanted to share his life with her; every moment of every day. And he hoped by all the Gods ever worshipped that he'd one day have the courage to overstep the line they'd set for themselves.

Luckily for both that day was just a breath away.


The end…or rather, the beginning.