by Kate

SUBJECT: R/T, seen through Deanna's eyes
SETTING: Post 'Insurrection'

"Only my love does it good."
-Paul McCartney

I lay in our bed, encased by your strong arms, your muscular chest warming my back and your radiant love suffusing me. Your warm breath on my neck gently calms me. The softness of your beard against my back comforts me. And it feels so good, so right. But only a few hours ago, everything was so very wrong. A massive tidal change from acidic anger to soul-filling joy.

How did it all start? How had we come to the point of tempers exploding and hurtful words cutting like daggers in each other's hearts? My heart pounding furiously in a rage and my finger stabbing you as if a dart to your heart. Your eyebrows knit in anger and your eyes glacial blue with aggression, your powerful fists clenching and unclenching with contained fury…

Where had it started? Blame it on fatigue. On the insensitivity born of fatigue. My mind too foggy with the swirling overload of a long day with patients to hear another word clearly. Your mind too dimmed by hours of mind-deadening routine on the Bridge to calculate the effect any given words would have…

Yes, that was how it started. I remember now. You had come off duty to meet me in Ten Forward. I had just finished with the tenth patient of the day. This one was the worst. His endless litanies of problems and his unwillingness to admit his role in them…For an hour I listened to this. Attended to it with my inner empathy as well as my clinician's ear. And he sucked the remnants of my energy as if he were a vacuum pump in Sick Bay. I had nothing left in me… Except a desire to be renewed by the aura of your loving presence.

And then, in you walked. Exhaustion rolling off of you like waves off a hot pavement. I should have known then that words would be warped and twisted by both your fatigue and mine. But I was too fatigued to realize that my tired mind could no longer distinguish between well-meant teasing and barbs intended to puncture or destroy.

As you approached our customary table, a tired grin crept across your rugged features.
When you spotted me, the veil of fatigue was lifted from your eyes, allowing them a moment of their habitual sparkle. And gently, your love wafted across the room towards me.

You walked over, a renewed spring in your step. Swinging your long leg over the back of the chair opposite me, you alit onto the chair. Training your twinkling blue eyes on me, you murmured, "Hi." With a small grimace born of my fatigue, I managed a feeble "Hi" back.

"Tough day?" you questioned, your voice full of sincere concern.

"Yeah," I answered as I sighed. Then I drew my hand across my face in an attempt to wipe away traces of the hellacious day I'd just completed. You shook your head, a touch of worry entering your eyes.

"Patients?" You captured my hand in yours, letting your love and concern flow through the thumb that you used to make soothing paths in the palm of my hand. "Uh huh," I mumbled, my other hand covering my eyes and closing off the world from my over-stimulated mind.

I dropped my hand heavily on to the table. Trying as hard as I could to muster the energy for a modicum of conversation, I sighed tiredly, "And you, you look exhausted."

"Yeah, long shift on the Bridge," you smiled, your eyes glazing over as the day's memories washed over you. "But you know," you continued, not considering what words were coming out of your mouth, "I'd take that shift on the Bridge over your patients any day."

Exhaustion can do perilous things to one's ability to appreciate humor. And at that moment, I was tired to the bone. I had no humor left in me. I couldn't parry your gently jesting preference for your work over mine.

"I beg your pardon? Did you just tell me that Bridge duty is better than what I do?" The words shot out of my mouth before I had a chance to consider their impact. My urge to strike back was already winding itself up within me.

"Sure, Deanna," you laughed, not fully grasping that I was not in a laughing mood. I glared icily at you. You looked back at me, fatigue mixed with mirth in your eyes. You seemed amused. You obviously missed the pulses of anger my eyes were shooting at you.

"I mean, hell, Deanna, the control consoles don't spend an hour whining to me," you continued. You laughed again, obviously pleased with what you thought was funny.
At another time, I might have laughed with you and then needled you in return, all in the spirit of congenial humor. But not now.

Instead I stood up, anger bubbling out of my inner being. My heart beat rapidly with the fury suddenly swirling within me. I jabbed my finger, sword-like, into your chest.

"How in hell's name can you say such a thing?" I demanded loudly. Conversations at the neighboring tables paused and heads turned in our direction. Suddenly, Ten Forward seemed very quiet, as if one could hear a pin drop.

"What?" you said, your voice breaking through the remnants of a snicker. Your mouth began to lose its smile, though a touch of mirth still danced in your eyes.

"Where do you get off diminishing the work I do, Will Riker?" I demanded to know, jabbing you in your chest once more with an accusing finger. I eyed you angrily as the light of humor fled from your eyes.

"Deanna. It was just a joke," you began, your hands and shoulders raised in submission, your voice attempting to sound a retreat. But now my fatigue-fueled antipathy buried any possibility that I might back away from the kill. I thrust my clenched fists onto the table's glassy surface, leaned in close to your face, and spat out, "You don't see me laughing, do you?"

"Look, Imzadi. I'm sorry," you returned in a smaller voice, my rage having now shattered your jesting bravado.

"Oh don't 'Imzadi' me," I sneered icily. You must have been expecting me to accept your abject apology. My coldly aggressive response caught you off guard. I watched as your face, a moment ago a mask of sincere apology, now reflected rising ire.

"Don't throw that back at me, Deanna Troi!" you ordered in a commanding voice as you leaned across the table towards me. Your eyes were now blazingly blue, radiating your own exhaustion-driven anger.

"You do not order me around, Commander! Not when it comes to this!" I shouted at you. You glared back, your cold eyes, furrowed eyebrows and clenching fists barely containing your own increasing fury.

Then, with strides fueled by insult and anger, I stomped out of Ten Forward. Down the corridor I marched, my face a mask of potent rage. The crew members I passed on my way to the turbolift could plainly see the fury etched on my face and so wisely pretended not to notice me.

Eventually, I reached my quarters. Punching in my access code with aggressive stabs of my finger, I let myself in. Then I stood, my hands clenching and unclenching and my breath moving heavily in and out. I tried to reach into myself to find a calming core from which to draw healing. As I did so, the waves of anger became more and more attenuated and mere fatigue took their place.

I went over to the replicator and ordered a mug of hot chocolate. Taking small sips from the mug's steaming contents, I sat down on the couch. Little by little, the calming and soporific effects of the hot beverage stole over me. I felt myself drawn slowly into a deliciously relaxing sleep.

I must have just fallen asleep when the chimes to my door sang out and jerked me back to consciousness. As I rubbed the sleep from my half-opened eyes, I knew immediately who was beyond the door. Your presence passed gently through the barrier of the door and into my senses.

The door chimes rang again. "Deanna, can I come in?" you said, the emotional color of your voice muffled by the barrier of the door.

"Come in," I sighed tiredly. You walked in hesitantly, uncertainty written on your features. "Can we talk?" you asked in a gentle voice, no trace left of your previous anger.
Without waiting for me to respond you came over to the couch and sat down, your stiff posture reflecting your anticipation that your words would not be well received.

"What happened back there, Deanna?" you asked softly, your voice laced with concern.

"I could ask you the same thing, Will," I sighed, not knowing yet where this conversation would take us. You looked at me with wide innocent eyes. I sensed nothing at that moment but gentle sadness and a mental fogginess born of exhaustion. I waited quietly for you to continue.

You looked down, your hands rubbing one another nervously. "I never meant to upset you, Deanna…I really was just trying to make a joke," you began, the words tumbling out of you awkwardly. You shook your head sadly, then looked up at me with apology written in your expressive face.

I could hear the contrition in your voice, sense the apology in your soul. And though my mind was still dulled by fatigue, I made an effort to claw my way past it to be fully with you in the moment.

"Will, my work is very important to me," I started, speaking in a deliberate manner. You nodded your head, your eyes trained intently on me. "I know that, Deanna," you whispered as you looked down momentarily.

"It is what I do, will. It is who I am." My eyes bore into yours, carrying the intensity of my feelings about my work. You looked away then, seemingly uncomfortable with me peering into your soul.

"Will," I said as I reached out to touch your shoulder gently, my gesture one of acceptance, "I know now that you were joking. But there are times when some jokes aren't so funny." I ran my thumb comfortingly along the edge of your shoulder as you watched me with understanding in your eyes.

"You're right." You gave me a tentative smile, the warmth of it lighting up your handsome face.

"I don't know if you were aware of how tired I was - or am. But I know I was fully aware of your exhaustion," I explained, my face now expressing a message of gentle acceptance.

"Yeah, I did know, Deanna. And I was too damn tired to take it into account when I opened my mouth," you explained, acknowledging your lapse in judgment.

"I've found, Will, that fatigue and humor can be a combustible mixture. Especially when everyone is tired. Things get said and are easily misunderstood," I pointed out, my voice taking on a professional note.

You giggled nervously and said, "If things were different now, I'd ask if that was Counselor Troi speaking or my Imzadi. But I'm not sure that would go over too well right now." Your eyes at that moment were wide with uncertainty.

The softness of your voice carried its message of genuine intent. I did not miss it. Then I chuckled gently, a spark of humor gently animating my eyes.

"It's just me, Will. I'm both those things." You smiled, exhaling a sigh of relief. Your features softened with the departure of concern from your face.

"You know, Will, I was also impaired by my fatigue." Your eyebrows rose in question. "Just as your ability to judge the appropriateness of your words was affected, so was mine. I was so exhausted that I was beyond being able to sense your actual intent."

You nodded, a broad smile of understanding spreading across your face. "Two ships passing in the night," you murmured.

"I beg pardon?" I questioned. You saw immediately that I didn't understand the expression.

"It's an old Terran saying from the days when ships sailed the seas."

"Oh, of course," I chuckled. "Well then, our two ships passed miles apart, wouldn't you say?" I asked my voice full of contrition for my lapses and the childish spectacle I presented in Ten Forward.

"That's a fact!" you laughed, the sound rumbling forth from your chest. And then you reached out to pull me into your warm embrace. "I'm sorry," you whispered softly into my ear. I turned my head to face you, my apologetic eyes boring into yours. "Me, too."

You placed a gentle kiss on my head, your warm breath tickling my scalp. I put my arm around your chest and buried my head in the sheltering nook of your shoulder.
"You know, Will, that was some show we put on there in Ten Forward," I commented dryly. You laughed, the sound vibrating through my body.

"Yeah, that'll give them something to talk about, won't it?" you snickered. I felt a knowing smile spread on my face.

"Will, they already talk about us," I told you. "Really?" you queried in a shocked voice.

"Don't be so surprised, Will. We have the honor of being the main item in the ship's gossip," I giggled. You looked at me with a note of mischief dancing in your clear blue eyes.

I sensed the shift in your feelings immediately. "And just what might you be up to now, Will Riker?" I inquired with mock severity coloring my voice. A broad loving smile crawled across your face as you trained your intensely blue eyes upon my face.

"Well," you began, a tone of playfulness entering your voice. "I was wondering what they might be talking about behind our backs." You drew your face closer to mine and caressed my cheek with the soft palm of your hand. I waited, for I could see in your merry eyes that you had more to say.

"Hmm, well I was wondering if maybe they were talking about what we do when we are together in our respective quarters. Like maybe this," you breathed against my mouth. You brushed your lips lovingly against mine as you entwined your fingers into my hair. Then you pulled back and viewed me through eyes now half-closed and dilated with escalating desire.

"I don't know, maybe…," I whispered huskily, my body beginning to tingle with my own wants. "What else do you suppose they might be talking about?" I murmured seductively. Now I knew that the altercation had been truly left behind, shoved aside by our craving for one another.

You leaned in again to engage my mouth with yours. Your lips, warm and soft, drank in the texture and feel of mine. Your breathing became heavier with the weight of increasing passion. And then you wrapped your solid arms around me and bore me down to the couch's cushions. Pressing your firm body against mine, I could feel the contours of your chest and shoulders through the fabric of your uniform.

"I never meant to hurt you, Imzadi," you apologized again, speaking into my mouth as you began another kiss. "Nor I," I murmured back as you began to seek entrance with your tongue. I opened my mouth to receive you and my tongue met yours. Wet, warm, soft, our tongues explored the terrain of each other's mouths. Hands entwined in one another's hair, breaths coming more heavily, we were lost in the universe of that kiss.

Then I sat up wordlessly. You looked at me with questioning eyes. I smiled at you warmly, erasing the momentary concern from your face. Then I slipped my legs out from under you to stand up. I wrapped my fingers around your hand and drew you up from the couch. Watching me with eyes glazed by passion, you let me lead you to the sleeping area of my quarters.

Once there, in silence thick with desire, you bore me down once again. This time, the soft fabric of the blanket caressed my back as you lay upon me. I could feel the warm of your breathing tickle my ear as you began to kiss my earlobe. Then you kissed a soft wet path down my neck and onto my collar bone.

"Imzadi," you groaned huskily into my throat. Your hands began a sensuous journey up and down my body: my breasts, my arms, my thighs. At the same time, I began my own explorations of your deliciously well-formed body. With each inch that my hands traversed, you moaned anew. "Oh yes, Imzadi," left your lips repeatedly.

And in that way began our dance of love and forgiveness. What had once been a chasm of bitterness and misunderstanding was altered by two lovers into expiation, acceptance and passionate love. And it has often been this way. So many misunderstandings resolved with genuine apology and then the making up… Well, that's the best part. Because my love, my Imzadi, does that good.