Story idea and plot contributions from V. Alejandra Madrid and Jenny Gould. Story takes place shortly after First Contact.
The U.S.S Enterprise E hovered over space. It had been more than a year since their last encounter, when the Collective had tried to assimilate the inhabitants of Earth. The crew heaved a collective sigh of relief of the memories of the Borg. As the distance from them increased the danger became just a mere nightmare-at least for now. Among the relieved was Deanna Troi. Every time she thought of their last mission, the image of Zefram Cochran came to mind, and not a particularly good one. What had she been thinking, getting drunk with him just to get information? She was thankful that only person had witnessed her humiliation was Will Riker, who-Deanna hoped-would keep this strictly between them. She trusted him, but she had a sneaking suspicion that he wasnt going to let her live the experience down too easily.
Incidentally, as Deanna entered the turbolift that day, she found herself in the company of none other than Will Riker himself. She smiled up at him and offered a pleasant, "Hello Will."
Those blue eyes of his shining with mirth as he replied, "Why, hello, Deena." He smirked, but kept from meeting her gaze. It's a good thing too, because if he did, he might as well been burned alive with her none-too-pleased glare. Deanna's eyes narrowed as she shot him an angry look.
"Will Riker," she began, slowly, deliberately. "You better stop this nonsense if you hope to survive tomorrow, or any amount of time, for that matter, here on out. Otherwise, you'll be risking some serious damage to your health."
Will chuckled. "Why, was that a threat coming from you, my dear Counselor?"
She folded her arms in upset and avoided his eyes. "You're damn right it is."
His smirk quickly disappeared as he picked up on her mood, and offered a more sensitive approach. He touched her arm, "I was only joking, Deanna. Come on, you don't have to be so offensive."
When she looked up, she still had the same angry glare in her eyes. "And why not? I don't think it's so funny, making light of a situation I only put myself in for the sake of our mission, not to mention my own well-being!" She stared at him, waiting for a response.
Will remembered all too well that night when he had gone to check on Deanna to see if she'd made any progress with Cochran. Evidently, he found not only had she attempted to share a drink with him (or two, or three, or was it four?), but that she had pushed her self to the limit with the alcohol, to the point where she was drunk.
t was a lucky thing Will had been there to help her recover. Otherwise, there was no telling what else Cochran would have put her up to. Deanna had spent two hours vomiting off and on, one of the many side affects of a hangover, as she soon discovered. He had stayed there, by her side, until the dawn. Deanna was absolutely miserable and mortified the next morning to find out what had happened when he had told her.
It was then Will realized he wasn't exactly helping her out here by bringing up a less-than-wonderful memory she could do without. "All right. Deanna, I'm sorry. I won't mention it again."
"Good." She was satisfied, but he wasn't entirely convinced that she felt any better.
As the 'lift stopped, they began to head toward their respective quarters. Just as Deanna started off in the opposite direction, Will gently caught her by the hand. He stared into those Grecian eyes of hers, now a little less hard, and suddenly felt at a loss for words. Since the turn of recent events, they were beginning to fall into a different type of relationship, one that still dictated that they were friends, but still more. One that was the same as it had always been, yet, not.
Honestly, Riker didn't know just how to deal with it. He liked it, how things were between them now, but moments like these when Deanna's mood would shift from friendly to, upset so quickly, made him confused. This was what they did. They joked around all the time. It was part of their relationship. He wondered why this little thing had set Deanna off. "Listen, Deanna. I am sorry. I should know better than to..."
"No, no." She cut him off. "It's not your fault, Will, really. I'm just having one of those days," she sighed, "I know you were just kidding. It's just..."
He stared back at her with the ocean in his eyes, making it hard for her to speak. She could get lost in those eyes forever. She could have sworn she almost saw her own reflection as she looked into them. "What is it?"
The tone of his voice was soft and alluring to her ears. Deanna blinked, bringing herself out of the trance. "I've had a lot on my mind, is all," she said it to distract herself from falling into his arms. "But thanks for being so concerned, Will. I appreciate it."
He gave her a questioning glance. "Are you sure? I'm off duty if you need to talk."
"No. It's okay," she insisted, "I'm fine. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" She took his hands in hers, trying to assure him of what she was saying.
Will glanced down at their hands, then back to Deanna. "Ok." A smile came to her face, one that made him do the same.
"Good night, Will." She gave him a friendly goodnight kiss on the cheek then went inside her cabin.
"Good night, Deanna."
Sleep did not come easily to Will that night. He couldn't shake the thought of Deanna from his mind, and his encounter with her earlier. There's something not right about this 'relationship' of ours. That made him laugh. Of course it's not right, otherwise I wouldn't be complaining.
Since the 'romance' between Deanna and Worf was put to rest, and Worf gone on DS9, the relationship between Will and Deanna had taken a turn for the better. Or at least it seemed, anyway. Will knew he loved her. No, he corrected himself. Love isn't even the word. The things Deanna Troi made him feel went deeper than that.
Throughout their entire separation on Betazed, he felt like she had been ripped apart from his soul. Now that she served with him as his friend, and as of recently, with the potential of being more, Will Riker was beginning to realize that without her, there was definitely an empty space in his life, one that only she could fill. He was only kidding himself to say that he was happy with the way things were.
The truth was, he needed Deanna apart of him, permanently. Not as a friend, or a lover. She was his beloved, and to him, that meant she should be given more than just his friendship, and vice versa. He wanted to make her laugh. She had the most beautiful laughter that was like music to his ears. And seeing her smile, seeing that look of absolute happiness on her face, brought pure joy in his heart, unlike anything in the world. He wanted her in his arms where he was sure that he could never let go of her. How many nights had he struggled with insomnia, much like this one, wondering if she felt the same way? How could he want all these things if Deanna didnt want them from him too? And worse, how could he know for sure?
A similar turmoil of emotions went through Deanna's mind as she thought about Riker in her quarters. It wasn't as if it was for the first time, of course. There were many nights when she would sit up late at night, unable to sleep because him. Commander William Riker. The very sound of his name gave her goose bumps. She had been lying herself when she said time and again, that she was satisfied with just being friends with him. It couldn't be further from the truth.
No matter how much Deanna tried to shut Will out of her life, her mind, and her heart, she couldn't. Not even if she wanted to. The fact was, Deanna, honestly, truly, in all sense of the word, was in love with Will Riker. The only problem was, it seemed that he didn't feel the same way. She was the expert on feelings and human behavior, after all. Or so she told herself. It was only what she wanted to hear, of course, so she wouldn't have to deal with all the complications that came with being romantically involved with Will.
She sighed with frustration as she sat on her couch. We're so comfortable with the way things were now. Maybe the real problem is that were both afraid to break out of that cycle? For so long, Deanna had secretly blamed their status as it was because of Will. She knew he liked the way they were because it meant he wasn't committed, he was still free to roam around, if he pleased, but remain attached to Deanna, emotionally, at least.
But it went both ways. Deanna wasn't committed to Will, but could still have her fair share of game, should she want it. He was her friend-her best friend-and her emotional support. So maybe they were both to blame. There were so many unanswered questions. Did he still share those same feelings for her, as she did for him? Could they possibly have a deeper, more meaningful relationship, even as senior officers?
Troi crossed her arms as she finally decided that one thing was certain. She didn't think she could live another moment in question, in doubt of her feelings every minute of the day, and always looking back to see if she had made the right decision. Deanna needed stability in her life, and ironically, she figured that stability could come from Will. He was the only person in this world that could make her complete, a whole person. No matter what simple joys her career and her friends aboard the Enterprise gave her, somehow it was never enough.
Maybe that's why Mother has been so insistent all these years. She's always known all of this. She needed him as apart of her life more than ever, but not as a friend or as a fellow officer. She needed him as her Imzadi, her lifetime companion, and everything else that entailed him as her first love, her soul mate. She wanted him entirely, to melt her with passion and desire, body and soul, just like she had always dreamed about. She wanted to look into those eyes of his for eternity, and not feel guilty. But instead of coming up with any solutions, Deanna decided to sleep on it, and-as she often did-let things take their course.
The following morning, Deanna Troi awoke to discover she had overslept, which meant she only had ten minutes to prepare for her next appointment. Dreams of a certain bearded first officer had persuaded her to sleep longer than usual. In a rush of confusion, she got dressed and was out the door. As she rounded the corner to her office, she-almost quite literally-bumped into Will
"Deanna, can I talk to you?" His blue eyes pleaded with hers.
She felt herself being pulled into his intense gaze, but struggled to focus. "O.k., Will. But make it quick. I woke up late this morning, and have an appointment in two minutes."
"Alright." They made their way to Deanna's office, where Will took a seat on the couch. He look up at her, the happy smile from yesterday gone, replaced with a gaze of complete seriousness.
"Deanna, I was up late last night, thinking about us." He was straight forward, and to the point. He originally hadn't planned to be so, formal, but it was all he could do to keep from losing his nerve.
It caught Deanna a little off guard. "What?" She stared at him for a moment, trying to pick up on what he was feeling. He was serious. Will sat, still staring at her, waiting to see how shed react. "Oh, you...You were?"
Finally, Deanna thought, Maybe we can bring some resolve to this drama after all. "Yeah, I have. As I have done for the last few years since I first came on this ship and saw you on the bridge."
She said nothing.
He sighed, held is head in his hands, and then forced himself to meet her eyes, "Imzadi," Hopelessness and desperation was obvious in his voice, even as he spoke that word, the word that prompted Deanna's heart to sink. She stood, almost gaping at him. When was the last time either of them had spoken that one word?
Will saw her hands shaking slightly. Deanna had to take a seat in a chair opposite the couch to keep from almost fainting. He immediately got up and went over to her. He took her by the shoulders and forced her to look into his eyes. Deanna stared into his soul, totally enraptured in what she saw there. Riker made his move and came closer within her space.
All rational thought escaped Deanna Troi within a split second as Will's lips caressed her own. The touch was feather-like against her skin. Her heart pounded heavily in her chest as he came in to capture her mouth completely. But the moment was ended all too soon when the chime to the door beeped, announcing the arrival of Deanna's patient. She hastily got up and away from Will's arms, and quickly tried to forget the thousand sensations she was feeling throughout her body.
"Will, you have to go. My patient needs me."
He easily complied with her wishes without saying a word, and walked out the door.
An hour later, Will Riker made yet another appearance in Deanna's office, hoping to offer an explanation of the previous event. He stood in the doorway for a minute, trying to sum up all he would say to her.
But this time, Deanna was the first to break the silence. "I thought you wanted to talk." Her tone was stern, and her expression one of irritation.
Riker picked up on it immediately. "I do." He tried to remain calm.
"Then why is it that every time you come in to 'talk,'" she said with disgust, "you always end up trying to kiss me? It's getting a little old, Will. You can't just come in here, kiss me, and then expect everything to all to be forgiven and fine."
He frowned at her. "Oh cut the crap, Deanna. You know you liked it as much as I did."
She wasn't the least bit intimidated.
"Don't get smart with me, Riker. Admit it. You still expect me to just fall into your lap, don't you? Well, here's a news flash: I'm not the same girl you first met on Betazed, Will."
He stood shaking his head at her. "Oh, and what? You don't think I've changed at all, do you? To you, I'll just take anything that has two legs and is female, is that right?"
She sighed with frustration, tempted to attack his last comment, but made the intelligent decision not to further the argument. "Okay. Fine. You want a confession? I wanted to you to kiss me. I wanted it bad. It's all I've ever fantasized about since we both got stuck on this ship together. But you know what? That doesn't really matter, because I know that's exactly what you wanted to hear."
"Deanna Troi," he addressed her patiently, "Stop for a minute, will you?"
She flashed him a look to be reckoned with, "Since when did you start addressing me so formally?"
His temper got the better of him. "Quit with the attitude and just shut up for a minute!" It was the first time in years he had ever yelled at her. "Youre right," he said five or six notches softer than before, "I was wrong. Totally wrong. But what did you expect? I spend hours every day thinking about what I'm going to say to you about how I feel, and then once I get here, near you, it all goes out the window."
Deanna crossed her arms and turned her head away from him.
"Deanna, I don't think you realize the power you have over me,you drive me NUTS! I just have to look at you, and I'm speechless. All you have to do is walk into the room, and I forget what it was I was doing, where I was headed in the first place."
"Oh yeah?" she countered, "Well, life with you isn't any easier for me, Will. You drive me insane! I could have admitted myself to an asylum a dozen times by now because of you!"
"Oh really? And do you know how many nights I've had to see Dr. Crusher because of chronic insomnia, brought on by you? My god, I couldn't even begin to count the nights I've stayed up tossing and turning over you! It's like I don't sleep at all!"
"Sometimes you make me hate you, Will Riker! All this drama between us..." she put her hands up in desperation, "Thanks to you, it gives me a headache not even Beverly can cure. I swear, you make me so mad, I just want to throw things at you!"
They came closer, closer within each other's space, in a continuous shouting match. "And you know what else? Sometimes I wish I'd never met you, Will. If my Mother had her way, I'd be married with kids by now."
"Oh well, that's wonderful, Deanna. Glad to know you'd just be willing to let your life waste away at the hands of your Mother. But just think," he added with sarcasm practically dripping from his lips, "if you HAD let that happen, you wouldn't be ON this ship, right now, would you? In fact, you wouldn't even be here TALKING to me!"
"Well you know what they say, Will, 'Out of SIGHT, out of MIND!" she yelled in his face, her hands balling into fists.
"Dammit Deanna, STOP YELLING!" Will shouted. His temper was definitely getting the better of him.
"I'M NOT YELLING!" Deanna shouted in return, fury blazing in her eyes.
"YES YOU ARE!"
"No I'm not!"
"You are too!"
They were mere inches from each other.
"So stop then!"
"Fine, I will."
And instantly, with their lips almost touching, they came together in a kiss that was electric. At that moment, Beverly Crusher burst through the door, upon hearing the shouting down the hall. "Deanna, are you-?" Then she saw them and suddenly looked totally confused. "What the hell is going on?"
Moments passed before the kiss ended, until finally, they broke apart. Deanna turned to Beverly, in Will's arms and assured her friend that everything was ok. "Beverly," she said, somewhat breathlessly, "I'm alright. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
The doctor, still looking absolutely clueless, simply turned on her heel and left the two alone. "I don't think I'll ever understand those two."
After a brief pause, Deanna spoke again. "Will, just answer me one simple question, and we can both be happy." "Are you sure?"
"I'm not making any promises. Do you love me, Imzadi?"
"Yes. I do, more than anything else, even more than my career." He held her tightly, his chin resting on the top of her head. "I love you, Deanna. I always have, I just was never sure when to admit it. I had to deal with how I felt first, because there were times I doubted myself. But then there were moments...like when you were pregnant with Ian, and that time Jev put you in a coma, that only reinforced everything. The guilt and the regret I felt sometimes ...it was unbearable. It made me realize that I really was in love with you, and only you. Who else could make me feel all those things?"
She smiled beneath him. "And since weve built this...comfortable relationship," he continued, "I thought I might finally have the nerve to come to you and admit my feelings."
"Imzadi..." Deanna whispered into his chest, close to his heart. "I'm so sorry."
That was all. The barriers were broken. And for the first time in years, first contact-of the heart-had been made. Will lifted her chin to meet his eyes, "And I am sorry, Imzadi, for everything I ever did to hurt you."
She smiled, and put a hand to his face, "Apology accepted. So what do you say, shall we start over?"
He returned her smile, "Certainly. I believe I was going to say something to you."
"Yes," he took her face into his hands and said in a voice more romantic than she had ever heard, "I love you, Imzadi." Her eyes began to tear up, but Will easily wiped them away. One tender kiss later, he met her eyes again, "No more tears, imzadi. I promise." Deanna settled into his arms as he held her tight to him, and knew, deep in her heart, the truth of his words, and came to the realization, that truly, with Will Riker by her side, things would be okay.