By Deede


Fate seemed to intercede at the most inopportune times, during
moments of comfort and security, pinpoints during instances when
life seemed to be running smoothly…until something happened that
not only redefined the term ‘fine,’ but caused an embedded realization
that maybe things hadn’t been as great as previously thought,
that perhaps every certainty up until that moment had been a
façade. Or at least that is how it seemed to William Riker when
such a crude and senseless wake up call took him so unwittingly
by surprise.

He sat forlornly and sullenly in ten forward, nursing drink
after drink while cursing the health regulations of the ship
that prevented any real form of alcohol from being served. Which
in turn would allow his senses to disappear into a pleasant haze
of nothingness and would serve to help him forget why it was
he was so depressed to begin with. But, since fate had lately
taken upon itself to see to it that his life was a miserable
mess, he couldn’t get drunk and therefore he had to live with
the pain that grasped a hold of his heart so desperately.

And all the while the sparkling image of her danced before his
eyes: his dearest friend and strictest confidant. Her with the
big, beautiful brown eyes and brilliant smile - the one woman
in the universe that he had ever truly loved, and the one woman
in the universe that he could ever truly want. And love her he
did, for he had never really stopped loving her, even during
their tenure on board the Enterprise while they deluded themselves
into believing that all they were to each other was close friends…
nothing more.

Friends, pals, companions, bosom buddies – how he hated those
terms, and never so much before as he did in the present. He
could never be satisfied with just being her friend; he knew
that now. Hell, he had known it for a while. He wanted infinitely
more than the limitations that friendships brought. He wanted
HER, her laughter, her smiles, her thoughts, her affections,
her very soul. He wanted to be able to express to her just how
much she meant to him, and he wanted to be loved fully by her
in return. For years he had harbored this desire, contenting
himself with her friendship while he waited for the right moment
when they were both ready to embrace a romantic relationship
again with open and loving arms, and maybe that is where he went
wrong… in the waiting.

Shock couldn’t even begin to cover how he felt when he walked
into the arboretum and caught his beloved, his precious imzadi,
in a passionate embrace with another man. In retrospect he knew
that Deanna had been seeing one of the newly appointed Lieutenants
for a while now, he had even grown to like the man, but he had
dismissed their infatuation with one another as he had all her
other relationships: temporary, unattached… not of the imzadi
caliber.  And perhaps he had been too cocky, too secure in his
own position in her soul than he should have been - for a cold
and desperate fear had taken ahold of his heart and squeezed
with all its might when he had unintentionally interrupted the
scene he wished with everything in him that he hadn’t observed.
For in this instant, ignorance really would have been bliss.

Only once before had Deanna scared him with a similar, all encompassing
panic. Once, a few years earlier, when she had started to develop
feelings for their mutual friend and fellow senior officer Worf.
But that romance had been ill fated, even the Captain had seen
to that, relaying tales of time travel and a future where friends
drifted apart while others passed on, some of which were a result
of a burgeoning romance between two entirely opposite individuals.
Deanna and Worf, ever the consummate professionals, had squelched
any further thoughts of a relationship: breaking cleanly - remaining
friends while going about their duties with steadfast and heartfelt
ability, the way they always had. There had been no words to
describe the utter and complete sense of relief that Commander
Riker had felt when the Counselor had relayed the news of her
break up from Worf to him.  He had literally felt like jumping
for joy and embracing her so tightly that the universe would
spin wildly around them and they would both be knocked short
of breath.

The problem was that he hadn’t and things had gone back to the
way they were before, the way they always did; back to the safe
and comfortable security of friendship. The Enterprise D had
crashed, the Enterprise E was built, Worf had come and gone,
accepting a position with the distant outpost Deep Space 9, and
life spun in a continuing, unrelenting cycle. And maybe he was
the fool for allowing things to go on unrequited for that long,
perhaps he had been the coward in not living up to his feelings
earlier, but he did know that their years of friendship had taught
him things he never would have learned otherwise.  It taught
him layers to her he’d never seen before when they had both been
so incredibly young and inexperienced: it taught him that any
worthwhile relationship was given freely, openly and unconditionally,
and it taught him that the truest sense of love was the ability
to care for another person to the point where their thoughts,
feelings, and hopes were as important to him as his own.

Which was why he was in such turmoil. The unselfish thing to
do would be to bear Deanna’s romance as he had all her others
and the way she had bore his many indiscretions in turn: silently,
quietly, in the background but there… always, always there.
The selfish thing to do would be to confess to her once and for
all the secrets he had kept locked up in his heart for far too
long, and gods help him, he was feeling selfish. He wanted her,
and he was sick of internalizing it, that much he could shout
out to the universe with complete certainty. And so, in that
instant of deeply contemplative thought Will Riker reached a
decision that had the power to shatter his heart into a million
pieces or mend the torn and bruised corners of his soul.


She glanced up with a troubled expression as he entered her quarters,
and for an abstract moment he could actually feel his mood and
temperament change entirely, as if his emotions made a 180 degree
turn and he went from brave confrontationist to concerned friend
in the space of seconds. He got a slight pang while looking at
her, his heart jolting in awe by the sight of her beauty, the
way it always did when he walked into a room and laid eyes on
her. As if each new encounter served as a reminder to him of
just how utterly breathtaking she really was. Not that his extremely
active imagination didn’t serve as a buffer in the interim, but
nothing had the capabilities of substituting what it felt like
to be with her, near her, sharing in her aura, her presence,
and learning each new facial expression, each new nervous fidget
she made, all the while delighting in the ones he already recognized
through years of companionship.

Her dark eyes turned to him, looking at him but not really, as
if his presence represented some sort of thought or ideal that
she had been pondering before his arrival. And he swallowed the
lump that had developed in his throat, pushing away any thoughts
of confession while he settled for a simple, instinctive “What’s
wrong?” instead.

“Its nothing,” she replied dismissively, using that tone she
had where she made it clear that she wanted to keep her troubles
hidden from outside forces, even though it had never worked with
him, and never could. They knew each other too well for that
sort of casual conversation halter that most people got away
with using in day to day life and with far more casual acquaintances.

“Uh huh, try again,” he stated firmly, moving to sit down on
her couch and watch her as she grappled with what to tell him
and how much to convey. It dawned on him that he didn’t find
it strange that he could almost see the proverbial wheels turning
in her head, and that he could sense the direction of her thoughts
as they pertained to him, for that was something they also shared,
this natural inclination towards one another to sense the inner
conflict residing within themselves.

And wisely she gave in, realizing through experience that brushing
him off was a particularly futile maneuver. The problem was that
she felt awkward discussing her relationships with him. She could
discuss anything and everything else with utter ease and comfort,
she could confide in him in a way she couldn’t and wouldn’t with
anyone else, but this one topic she usually tried to shy away
from, and for a multitude of reasons she felt safest not exploring.
However, Will Riker would not be deterred, she knew that as she
knew him… well. So well that it sometimes hurt that weary and
lonely part of her soul that forever remained his.

“Its Brandon. A Captain he served with in the past and apparently
had a great rapport with has just been offered a new commission,
and he offered Brandon a promotion and position onboard his ship
if he were to decide to leave the Enterprise,” Deanna admitted
dejectedly, as if this sort of occurrence were an every day normality.
And then she laughed, a sullen sort of out of place laugh that
contradicted the sadness to her earlier words. “He offered to
take me with him, said that we could get married, and I got this
weird sense of déjà vu…” she trailed off, her eyes meeting his

Will Riker gasped, a pain clutching his heart from a past that
would forever return to haunt him, no matter how many years had
passed since. The double-edged sword lie in the fact that he
felt her pain as well, watched as this familiar horror flashed
before her eyes, and a metaphorical black cloud hovered over
the room, thickening the air, causing the Commander to shudder
and draw in a heavy breath. And still she continued: driven,
relentless, seemingly ready to exorcise any ghosts that threatened
her path to understanding.

“But I told him no, that I was happy onboard the Enterprise and
with my life here: my job, my friends, everything I had built
these past years. And then he offered to stay, here, on this
ship, turning down a promotion… for me,” she finished finally,
distantly, as if her mind had once again retreated to a far off

And with her words Will felt his heart shatter and scatter into
a million pieces, as if it were made of fragile glass. At last
Deanna had something she deserved: a man willing to sacrifice
everything for her, a lover willing to place her above his career
in a way that he himself hadn’t been able to do all those years
ago when he had nothing but youth and ambition to his name. And
he knew that it didn’t matter that he had come to understand
that he loved her unconditionally and with everything in him,
that now, after years of inner turmoil his intentions towards
her were as clear as sparkling crystal, because it had all come
too late. 

Utter silence filled the room, as if a spell had been woven that
robbed them both of speech and Will found he was in too much
shock, too utterly heart broken, to care. It was an interminable
moment, one that stretched without boundary, laced with awkward
tension and the nearly audible sound of spirits being torn ravenously
apart. Deanna looked anywhere but at him, her eyes wandering
around the room, watching the shadows as they danced across the
walls while coming to some formidable conclusion that perhaps
she and Will were both doomed to a life of breaking the hearts
and minds of others as they had done so thoroughly with themselves.

“I told him no for a second time,” she said after what seemed
like an eternity, her voice piercing the thick tension in the
air like a laser slicing through granite. “I told him that I
didn’t want to be responsible for holding him back and that he
would only end up resenting me if he were to stay here. And as
I was saying that I realized something: I realized that this
man was willing to give up everything for me and that it wasn’t
what I wanted. For years I had thought that it was: that the
true test of love was finding someone who would sacrifice it
all just for me, but it’s not.  I kept thinking that to give
up something you're committed to - be it a career or a relationship,
is the coward’s way out. That way there would always be this
excuse to fall back on that a career took priority over everything
else, or that a relationship took priority over everything else
when the true test of courage is the ability to balance it all.
To be in love yet also do something that you love and not give
up who you are to satisfy one or the other, to accept both in
your heart and your mind and somehow be whole. And I realized
then that Brandon wasn’t the one I was willing to take this courageous
step with.”

Her admission was once again met by silence, only of an entirely
different variety. An undercurrent of electricity charged the
small room: the dawn of potential, the shadows of the past, the
solitude of the moment; all circled the air with enlightened
clarity. Riker didn’t know whether to be elated, or frightened,
or both, but he did know that an extraordinary opportunity had
just presented itself and that he would be forever destined to
a life of hidden truths if he didn’t seize the moment and bare
that part of his soul that had been crying for release.

“I love you,” he stated, strongly, firmly, and without a shadow
of a doubt. “I always have. I am no longer satisfied with just
being friends, I know now that I never was. The thought of you
with someone else kills me inside. You are a part of me Deanna,
you always have been… you always will be. All the lessons in
my life that have been worth learning I learned from you. Being
with you fulfills me, brings out the better qualities of who
I am. When you walk into a room everything seems brighter, less
intimidating, and infinitely more precious. I look towards the
future and I can’t imagine you not there sharing it with me.
And maybe I waited too long to tell all of this to you, maybe
we have both put ourselves through unnecessary torment all of
these years, but I couldn’t go another day without letting you
know exactly what it means to have you in my life.”

And then her eyes were all he could see, brilliant, sparkling
orbs of dark, bottomless color. He saw a thousand conglomerating
effects in her gaze at that moment: a kaleidoscope of emotion,
of wisdom, of life and experience, of knowledge, of poignant
realization. It was as if she were seeing everything and anything,
and transferring it to him in a way they hadn’t allowed themselves
to experience for years. Tears sparkled in her eyes, causing
the lights to reflect off of them with a glittering array of
color. A small, gentle smile spread slowly across her face causing
her face to glow as if she were surround by a celestial light.

She walked slowly toward him, moving with silent grace, lifting
her fingers to brush ever so softly across his cheek, like the
brush of a feather, while his body shuttered with the onslaught
of years worth of pent up emotion that he was finally able to
own up to. His eyes closed as he felt her reach to his sides
and take his hands in her own, electrical currents igniting wherever
their skin physically touched.

“Are you feeling courageous?” she asked in little more than a
whisper, her breath gently tickling his face.

“Yes,” he responded instantly, instinctively knowing her full

“So am I,” she replied, bridging the gap between them.

And it was all he needed to hear.

The End!