Overdue Rendezvous


     Will Riker's mind raced and his nerves thrummed with pent up excitement and not a little confusion.  Was it hormones?  Or was it loneliness, as the ticking away of his body's clock, told him that time was running out for them.  Deanna's coquettish behavior in the library had both shocked and excited him; provoking his own response of adolescent behavior in her office later that day.  But at least it had procured him an invitation to meet her in the holodeck tonight.  He shivered in anticipation about this evenings rendezvous' and rubbed his beard absentmindedly.  What Deanna had in mind exactly he wasn't sure, but he sure as hell wasn't about to chicken out now.  He looked at the clothing that lay in disarray on his bed and picked up his favorite blue shirt.  "Nah… she's seen this a million times," he said aloud.  Rummaging through his off-duty clothes he sighed.  There wasn't anything Deanna hadn't seen him in, and so he decided to go with Levis and soft suede shirt that she always seemed to love to touch.  He grinned, remembering the counselor's uninhibited response to tactile stimulation. 

     Humming happily, he cleaned up the mess he'd made and watched the clock.  Two hours to go, and nothing to do to fill in the time until it WAS time.  He arranged himself in his favorite reclining chair and tried to empty his mind.  His knee twitched… then his foot.   He put his hands behind his head and tried to relax by attempting to focus on the ridiculous painting Deanna and he had argued about on Betazed.  The goopy swirls just continued to spin in his mind until he was both anxious AND dizzy.  Will sighed heavily and got up and swung his jacket up over his shoulder.  He couldn't stand another minute here.

     Whistling as he left his quarters, he lengthened his stride until he stopped abruptly in front of the turbolift.  He tapped his foot impatiently until the door slid open and brought him eye to eye with Worf.  Not missing a beat, Will stepped in and eyed the Klingon cheerfully.  For the first time in a long time, he didn't second guess himself, and wonder why Deanna had chosen the Klingon for a serious relationship over him.  Today, Deanna had sent him every signal in the book to let him know she was interested in he and he alone, and so he was feeling more then a little smug about it as he winked at the grim faced warrior.  The turbolift stopped and he said, "have a pleasant evening Worf," before he stepped out and walked briskly towards the entrance to the lounge.  As the doors to ten-forward slid open, the muted lighting and soft music immediately began to sooth his jangled nerves, and he was bathed with a fresh sense of expectation.  In fact a sense of expectation seemed to saturate the place.  It seemed as if almost every guy had a girl, and every corner was filled with couples whose heads were close together in intimate conversation.   Will moved easily through the crowd, and sat at his favorite table and slowly stretched his long legs before him, leaning back in the chair with his hands behind his head.  Within a very few minutes, the matron of ten-forward herself materialized at his side.

     "Commander," she said, her velvety tones further soothing him. 

     "Guinan," he said with a nod, not feeling the need to make conversation with the mysterious hostess.

     "Mind if I make myself comfortable," she asked, sliding into a chair next to him.  

     "Of course not," he replied, his grin reappearing against his will.

     "You seem happy tonight," she ventured with a secret smile.  "A little edgy, but very happy," she pronounced.

     Will sat up and straightened his shirt self-consciously.  "I'm feeling pretty good I guess," he said, watching her side-ways out of the corner of his eyes.  "I'm just killing some time before a date," he confessed.

     "It must be someone special Commander," she said with a sly smile.  "I don't think I've ever seen you this nervous before, for just a date," she commented, her almost invisible eyebrows arching until they disappeared under the edge of her hat.  Guinan leaned forward expectantly, her dark brown eyes widening into a questioning pool that threatened to snare him.

     Will vainly pulled himself together enough to formulate a coherent answer that would make him appear at least a little less foolish then he was beginning to feel.  He thought he was saved for a moment when Beverly Crusher dropped into the seat next to him. 

     "Will Riker," she exclaimed a little too sweetly for his liking, why aren't you getting ready for your date tonight?  Getting cold feet?" she teased, grinning impishly as she noted his chagrin. 

      Will felt the tips of his ears burn and his face warm.  He uncharacteristically stumbled over words as he tried to formulate a simple defense.  He stopped suddenly, mid sentence, when he felt the presence he never realized he'd missed until the ache of it's absence was replaced by the peace he'd begun to sense this afternoon in Deanna's office.  He closed his eyes as two small hands started massaging his rubber-band tight shoulders.  Then the voice he had dreamed of for years spoke softly, her lips barely touching the edge of his ear.  

     "Commander, I wondered if I might find you here.  I think I'm ready if you are," she ended in a whisper, and then the hands disappeared, leaving him aching for more as he sensed her leaving the room.  Will opened his eyes and looked at the two pairs of eyes, one blue and one brown, that stared back at him questioningly.   

    "I have to go," he mumbled idiotically, and he ignored their muffled laughter as he headed towards the rapidly receding form of the petite Betazoid.  

    Beverly looked at the bartender, her amusement barely contained.  "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" she asked. 

     Guinan slowly returned her gaze from the broad back of the Commander to the ships doctor.  "I don't know, what are you thinking," she drawled.

    "I'm thinking that things will never be the same on the Enterprise again, at least for the female population of the ship," she chuckled.

     "I think you're right about that doctor," Guinan said with a content sigh.  "I do think you're right about that.  They both sat in silence, thinking identical thoughts about the long overdue rendezvous that was about to take place.

Overdue Rendezvous II

     Will paid no attention to the laughing women behind him in ten-forward as he cut through the crowd to follow the counselor's lead.  He was intently headed after her, aiming for the turbolift that would take them to their rendezvous on holodeck three.  When the noise of ten-forward abated suddenly as the door slid shut behind him, he paid the quiet no more mind then he had the colorful din that had permeated the ships lounge. Stepping up his stride, he turned the corner and cursed as he caught a fleeting glimpse of Deanna's mocking smile before the turbolift door cut the sight of her off.  Disappointed, he slowed down and caught his breath, resigned to the fact that there was no chance of catching up with her now.   Anticipation settled more deeply in his bones, making his gut churn again as his thoughts whirled deliciously.  He imagined he could still feel the warmth of her breath on his ear, and rubbed it self- consciously. 

"Got an itch Commander," a young lieutenant asked, practically making Will jump into next week he was caught so unaware.  "I didn't mean to startle you sir," the young woman said, her manner immediately abashed. 

      "Will chuckled self consciously.  "No worry lieutenant, you just took five years off this old man's life that's all," he said.

      "Old man," she asked, her eyebrows cocked.  Sir, we might call the…" she stopped at Wills questioning look.  "I mean that I hardly think you qualify," she said, eyeing him speculatively, and then blushed to her roots when he raised his eyebrows at her boldness.

      Normally Will would have taken the opportunity to flirt and press his advantage, though he rarely pursued a liaison with a crew member, purely as a matter of boundaries.  But tonight he had no thought for anyone but Deanna, even in fun.  He grinned and winked at the still blushing lieutenant and rapped on the turbolift door.  It obligingly slid open.  "This is my stop," he said and stepped out, his anticipation rising with each step.  Before he knew it, he was there.  But now that he finally stood in front of the holodeck door, he hesitated.  "What am I waiting for?" he mumbled.  "Computer, Name program and occupant," he inquired.  Will damn sure wanted to make sure he was at the right holodeck.  Deanna Troi, Program Briar Patch hot tub," the computer responded.  Will's eyes widened and he nodded and swallowed, "Authorize Riker entry," he croaked.  Authorization granted," the computer intoned as the door slid open.

     He walked into a wood lined hallway that was warm enough to immediately raise droplets of sweat on his skin.  "Guess I didn't need to worry about what I was wearing," he said under his breath.  He was dripping sweat by the time he found himself at a door when he reached the end of the hallway.  He looked at the towel that hung next to the empty peg on the wall and decided he didn't need written instructions to know what was next.  He disrobed and slipped the terrycloth towel around his hips and opened the door.  Steam immediately enveloped him as he stepped into the next room.  He breathed deeply, inhaling the aroma of eucalyptus leaves deep into his lungs, imaging them being cleansed by the medicinal scent.  When he tried to open the other door, he found it locked.   "Ahhh," he said, letting the breath he'd been holding out in a rush. "I'll play it your way Ms Troi," he said, and sat contentedly in the steam until sweat rolled down his nose and poured down his chest.  Will found it easier to stop thinking in the steamy heat, and after fifteen long minutes, a soft gong sounded and Will stood and tried the door again.  This time it opened.  He stepped through the doorway, leaving a trail of wet footprints behind him as he walked down a heated wooden hallway.  This one smelled strongly of scented cedar.  By the time he got to the next door, he was all but dry.  Turning the handle, it opened easily and led him into a long narrow room that was wide enough for a shallow lap pool and little else.  Will dove into the tepid water and easily swam the length of the pool, getting out and standing dripping wet and shivering naked at the next door.  He pushed, half expecting to be forced back into the pool to swim eternal laps, but this time it swung inward easily, and Will stepped into a room lit by both fire and candlelight.  He waited until his eyes adjusted, wiggling his toes on the thick carpet under his feet. When he noticed a set of plush towels on a shelf, he carefully dried himself off, inhaling the invigorating scent of pine needles and freshly cut wood, while wondering what was going to happen next.  He spied a bottle of wine and dried fruit with an assortment of cheese on a table next to a generously overstuffed chair.  Plopping his naked body down, he curiously picked up a note that lay next to the fruit.  "Eat…you're going to need your strength."    

   Overdue Rendezvous III

     Will stood and wrapped the towel around his hips and then sat down again, quickly eating several slices of apple and cheese.    Heeding Deanna's warning and having eaten nothing at all this evening, he turned his attention next to a pear that was too tempting to resist.  The sweet juices ran down his chin and neck with each hungry bite, and he wiped his chin and then used the side of the chair to clean his sticky hand, furtively hoping that Deanna wasn't watching him on a closed circuit vidcorder.  Reaching for another piece of cheese, he decided he wouldn't even try the door.  Deanna would let him in when he was good and ready.  He attempted to relax, but had little success in subduing the anticipation that was making him squirm in his seat like a boy of about age six.  Will had always had an active imagination, a fact that had gotten him into trouble more then once, and now that same imagination tormented him with explicit images of what might lay behind the next door.  The mental pictures elicited a low groan from deep in his chest after he closed his eyes again, and the minutes passed like hours until soft bell-like chimes announced that the time had finally come.  "OK," he said, drawing a shaky breath, "I guess this is your play Ms Troi."

      Exhilaration made his blood rush, and anxiety made his heart pound. Will slowly turned the handle to the door and pushed it until it swung open on silent hinges, revealing a room that was a study of light and dark.  The corners were filled with deep shadows that flickered sinuously in the candlelight.  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.   It smelled of wood, musk and delicately scented steam.  His eyes adjusted and were drawn to the most predominant feature of the room.  Slowly approaching the wooden tub, Will ran his hand over the polished edges, caressing it with a touch as gentle as that of a lover.  The marbled edge was crowned with scores of tapering candles of all heights and thickness, giving him only illusive glimpses of the mysterious woman he had dreamed about for years.   It seemed that in a matter of moments, his dreams would become a reality, and still silent, he allowed the towel to drop to the floor as he stepped to the edge of the tub.  Deanna stared up at him, her ebony eyes gleaming in the candles light as she sat enthroned amidst a cascade of shimmering bubbles.  The merest touch of a breeze would have easily dissolved them into nothingness, and Will silently prayed for a hurricane as he stood frozen until his bug eyed revere was broken by the sound of her voice. 

    "Are you coming in Will Riker?" she said, "or are you going to stay out in the cold until the most interesting parts of you shrivel away to nothing," she asked, eying him as though she expected certain key parts of him to shrivel away before her very eyes. 

     Feeling as if he'd just been wakened from a dream, Will didn't hesitate, and slid quickly into the hot water, positioning himself directly across from Deanna. 

     "Now come closer so I can get you ready," she pronounced. 

     "Ready for what," he asked cautiously.

     "Ready to rid you of the last barrier between us Imzadi," she said, the corners of her mouth twitching slightly.

      Intrigued and a little concerned, Will slid next to Deanna, then turning his back to her at her request.  "Now lay your head back," she murmured, "and trust me," she said, her voice coaxing him to relax, her touch soothing his anxieties.  He exhaled and relaxed as he rarely did.  Laying back across her lap, he settled against her chest and began to wonder if he had indeed died and had been translated into Paradise.  Deanna ran her fingers through his beard and the hair on his chest, gently massaging until he felt the last of his knotted muscles un-kink.  He could feel her position shift beneath him as she reached for something, but he kept his eyes contentedly closed as she began to work something smooth and creamy into his beard.  His eyes remained closed and he sighed aloud.  Deanna hummed an ancient Eartha Kitt tune while she rinsed her hands and began to rub oils in a gentle circular pattern across his chest and down his arms.  The words ran through his head while she successfully smoothed away every trace of the tension that had built up in him for the past several days. "Birds do it… Bees do it…Even educated fleas do it…Lets do it, lets fall in love."  Will sighed and nestled against her, relishing the smooth feel of her skin as he listened to the slightly off key humming of his Imzadi. Cracking open one eye to see what she was reaching for this time, he saw her grab something nestled on a burgundy towel at the edge of the tub.  It glistened as it caught the candlelight, and as she brought it closer to his face.  When he saw it was an ancient folding blade of some kind that was half ivory handle, and half six inches of polished steel he became a bit more alert.  "Hey, what are you doing with that thing?" he asked, his voice rising an octave higher on the last word as she brought it closer to his throat.  She made a shushing noise, and shifted him so that he lay across her lap and said, "I'm going to see if baby face Riker is still hiding behind all this official looking hair," she whispered, a teasing smile on her lips.  She leaned across him in a most tempting manner, and took a slow sip of wine from a tall slender glass on the edge of the tub.  Riker thought he'd never seen anything or anyone so beautiful in his life.  Laying back he bared his throat willingly.  "Deanna I'm up for anything you have in mind," he said, "and if you were to slit my throat and I bled to death right now, I'd die a happy man," he said with a cocky grin.  Her mind brushed his with an intimate promise as the first scrape of the blade moved across his face, and he was more then content to leave his future in her very capable hands.
                        The end…. Finis….