- New Year's resolutions -

02:31am. All was quiet in the room ...

Except for the breathing. Inhale. A pause, exhale. His rhythmic, continuous breathing behind her told her he was gone from this world, but still she had not been able to catch any sleep. He had been very considerate, attentive and gentle with her tonight, so unlike himself, to the point when she briefly wondered whether he had done something she should know about. Then Deanna dismissed the thought. He wouldn't dare, not with an empath sharing his bed.

Then it came to her. She had practically been waiting for it to hit her. It had always come before during these last few waking nights, always when she had trouble sleeping. Need. Sometimes strong, sometimes weaker, or hardly noticeable. This time it came slowly, but soon it increased to a level she couldn't imagine possible. It had been too long since. Her flesh began to tingle and she smiled in the darkness of the room. Her body had wanted the sensation before Deanna could even identify its need, and now it burned with excitement at the merest suggestion she might give in to her feelings.

She gnawed at her lower lip, desperately trying to subdue the growing yearning, and rubbed her thighs through the silk covers. The feeling got worse, Deanna felt herself being pulled to a point she knew she couldn't draw back from. The sounds, the motions she would make fighting it might awaken him if she stayed. She looked at him lying beside her, at him sleeping there, and she remembered promising not to. Should she wake him up ... and for what? For all his tenderness, all he could provide would be no more than a substitute for what she really wanted. As enjoyable as it was to make love with him.

One foot touched the rug, and Deanna slid from under the covers like she had done times before. She was getting to be an expert at slipping from the bedroom, she realized as she made her way past the piles of clothing, but there was no guilt. Not any more. He had no right to put these kinds of demands on her and she regretted ever having agreed to them. But she had been so astounded by his suggestion that she had completely forgotten to object. His nerve to bring it up. And her own stupidity to agree to it. She wasn't supposed to be able to suppress normal urges like these. After all, she was only human.

Or half, anyway.

Her steps to the doorway were quick and certain, yet small. She tried not to make a sound as the shirt she wore instead of the usual pink gown ruffled between her legs. 'He'll still be with me,' she thought, 'even if he never knows.' Deanna sniffed the fabric on her shoulder and smiled when she found it still had his smell. Then she passed through to the living room, and ordered the dimmest light the computer could provide. There was no sense in breaking her neck, and she knew the risk of discovery would be less here, away from the bedroom. 'Oh God,' she thought, 'I *am* getting good at this.'

She took the small chair from behind the desk and pulled it to the corner of the room, her corner, where she let go. But softly, careful not to make any noise when the legs hit the floor. She looked at it and, content with its position, rested herself on the seat. She leaned back- wards. Two of the legs left the floor, the back tilted slowly backwards until it brushed against the wall. She exhaled, yet the tension didn't leave her. She would have been surprised if it had, it had been building inside her since the thought had first come to mind. Yes, it was silly to take this as serious as she did, but he would take it very personal if he knew. Deanna knew he had this thing about promises.

Consciously placing her heel on the support between the front legs, she raised her knee to the level of her chin. The shirt's hemline seemed to hesitate, between slipping down her leg and keeping the delicate balance it had found. It just reached her banded knee in this position. Then gravity decided its course, and it slid down to her hips before she could catch it. Deanna left it, at this stage she didn't care. She folded her hands in her lap and with her head leaned back, she rested back against the wall. Her fingers itched, and Deanna decided she was going to enjoy herself despite her conscience. The coming pleasure was all she could think about. Her left hand moved away from the right. Her lips parted, her mouth formed syllables, words. They were barely audible, only moans, but they were enough.

A sound, a sparkle appeared at her side. She closed her eyes, and sighed with relief. Without as much as a look sideways, she extended her left arm to its full reach and took the sinful, steaming cup from the niche.

"Damn," she whispered to herself, safely hidden in the shadows of the room, "why did he have to tell *everybody* on the ship I was on a diet?"

She drank in silence, sulking, and looked over the rim. Both eyes were aflame, and fixed firmly on the closed bedroom doors.

"Sometimes I really hate you, Will Riker," she said.

-The end-
Author's note: Just that time of year, I guess... ;-)