by Kate

DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns it all. I'm just playing.
SETTING: After Insurrection, but non-canon.
POV: Deanna; first person
ARCHIVE: Only at Imzadi Everlasting, please.

"Goodbye." It's such a simple phrase. Why did we not take the time to say it? Gods, why not, when we had the chance? Because now it's too late, and I'll never be able to say that word to him again.

I knew he was gone the moment he died. I was in my quarters then, as I am now. I was absorbed in reviewing the dossier on the planet we were visiting for the first time. One moment, I was studying the material, happily humming to myself. The next moment, a jagged pulse of pain shattered my heart into a million pieces and the constant light of his presence in my mind winked out, as if someone had flipped a switch.

Instantly, panic and pain poured through me, vying for ascendancy. I slammed my hand onto my comm badge and screamed out, "Troi to Bridge. What happened to the Away team?" The trembling baritone voice of Captain Picard came back immediately, "There's been a terrorist attack on the Away team. A bomb exploded in the embassy. The Away team was hit."

"Are there any survivors?" I asked in a strangled voice. In the infinitesimal interval between my question and the captain's response, my heart pounded so hard I though it would burst through my chest. And then he uttered the answer that I already knew was coming: "No, Counselor, there were no survivors. I'm sorry."

No survivors. How could such a thing have happened? We were preparing to meet with representatives of Cadoor, a candidate for admission into the Federation. Will went down with a security team to make the initial contact. He was then to report back with an assessment as to whether fuller diplomatic contact was warranted. If so, the captain and I were to beam down for further discussions with the Cadoorans.

There had been reports from the leadership about dissenters, Cadoorans who objected to interplanetary contact. But we were assured that any dissent would be expressed peacefully. Cadoor, the officials stressed, had no history of political violence. And so we had looked forward to this first contact with cautious optimism.

Will was especially excited about leading the Away team. He always enjoyed probing the unknown and encountering new species. It was the restless explorer in him. The drive that once took him far away from me years ago.

I must confess that I too had looked forward to this mission. I have always found the art of diplomacy to be an energizing challenge. And, like Will, I too enjoy meeting different peoples.

And so we sat together last night on this very couch, discussing the up-coming mission. And then the conversation turned to us, as it so often has since our mission to the Briar Patch. Feelings that we once hesitated to share, let alone act on, were expressed freely.

As we discussed those more intimate sentiments, his hand snaked its way around my shoulders. And then he leaned in close, his warm lips mere centimeters from mine. His utterances were soon punctuated with needful kisses. Quickly, all thoughts of the impending mission were lost to our mutual hunger. And we made exquisite love with each other, right here on this couch.

And now I sit on this very same couch, yearning for the warmth of a body and the brush of a mind that I will never, ever again feel. A faint hint of his aftershave hovers about the cushions, harshly reminding me of his absence. Intermixed with that, I can still perceive the smell of our love-making. It haunts me, wordlessly provoking a yearning for his body and soul which will remain forever unmet.

And now I am left with a throbbing ache where my heart once beat and a yawning chasm in my soul. An emptiness filled only by my gnawing pain and deafening silence. A silence in my soul never to be filled again with the gentle echoes of Will's presence. Visions of what was play before my dulled eyes, drawing forth more tears with each memory.

The one word that could at least bring some peace to my soul is the one word that can now never be said: "Goodbye." Instead, a mournful voice murmurs in my mind, teasing my broken heart with a phrase that will forever haunt me: "If only we had…" A constant reminder of chances missed and lost opportunities, preventing my shattered core from mending.

"If only, Imzadi…If only we had…"