Deanna Troi was thoroughly confused. It was bad enough she had unresolved issues
in her unrequitted relationship with Will Riker. Now-much her surprise- there
was another 'Will,'a supposed transporter accident-double. He made it clear
to her that he still wanted a relationship with her (seeing as she wasn't involved
with Will), and more, that he was still in love with her. In the least, that
admission complicated things more than ever. It would have been enough for Deanna
to just say, yes, to agree to continue with the other Riker where she had left
off with Will Riker... But she knew, somehow, it wouldn't be the same. No matter
what he looked like, Will's twin could never be all the things that Will was.
That much she knew was true. Still, in knowing that he was willing to give her
the happiness that she was denied all those years ago, Deanna couldnt
help to at least consider the possibility.
She sighed heavily as she entered her office and sat down on the sofa. Analyzing situations like these were apart of her job as counselor. In any other time and place, this would be easy, except, with herself as the patient in this case, it wasn't. There was so much that needed to be settled between her and Will... Did she dare to just leave those issues hanging in the air, with no sort of resolve whatsoever...and continue (or was it begin?) a relationship with someone who shared the same past with her, the same memories...but, was in a way, still a stranger to her? A man she'd only met just hours ago? No. That was irrational. She wouldnt do that. Now was no time to be making spontaneous decisions like that, not with so much at stake.
Will... Her mind kept taking her back to thoughts of him. She often wished things had worked out better for them. After all, if Will had showed up on Risa, they'd be married and out of this whole mess. Deanna's head wouldn't hurt so much, and her heart wouldn't be so heavy. This was not going well at all...
Before she knew it, the chime to her door beeped. "Come in."
"Hi," a familiar voice said. Deanna looked up and saw the tall, uniformed figure of Commander Riker. He took a seat beside her. "You look like you've got a lot on your mind. Wanna talk about it?"
She avoided his eyes, staring at her lap for the moment. "Deanna. Please, I know this is bothering you. It's not been any easier for me, too, you know." Will placed his hand over hers, and brought her chin up so she could meet his gaze.
"I know," she whispered. There was a pause in the air, then she sighed and explained herself. "I've been thinking about this whole...ordeal...for hours now...and I've gotten nowhere other than right where I started. And I don't feel any different then what I did when I first began contemplating this. I'm beyond frustrated and confused."
"Why do you feel that way?"
Do you really need to ask, Deanna thought. There was such sadness and hopelessness pasted on her face as she spoke. "Will...part of this whole problem is that with the other you here, I'm forced to face the unresolved issues I have with you."
"I...don't know where we stand, Will. We've told ourselves for years that we'd remain friends all this time while serving on the Enterprise...but I can't help thinking..."
His other hand went to her cheek, and caressed it softly. His words came out barely above a whisper. "I know, Deanna. I keep telling myself that I'm not...the smallest bit jealous, seeing him here, and watching how you respond to him. I see that look in your eyes...you used to have it for me."
Small tears stained her face as he spoke. "Shh...just listen. I know this probably isn't the best timing, and it'll complicate things even more for both you and me, but I'll regret it if I don't say it, here and now. Deanna, I still care about you. The same as I did when we were back on Betazed. I've come to realize now, after all this time working with you, and having you as my best friend, that I love you even more."
She sniffled. "Imzadi...I..."
Before she could say any more, Will kissed her tenderly. He pulled back after a few minutes, still inches from her mouth. "Imzadi," he returned. He placed a kiss to Deanna's forehead, and brought her into his arms.
"I don't know what to do," she murmured against his chest.
Will didn't say anything right away. He held her, listening to the sound of her cries. Then an answer came. "What does your heart tell you to do?"
Deanna looked up at him, not knowing how to respond. She sighed, wiping her tears. "He asked me to go with him."
Suddenly, a look of shock came over Will's face. "What?" he said in astonishment.
"You heard me," Deanna replied.
"What did you tell him?"
She looked back to Will, "I told him I'd think about it...because I wasn't sure of my feelings for you."
Riker paused for a minute before speaking. Then he said, "Are you saying...that if you hadn't told me...if you hadn't said anything about us, that you were just willing to leave me behind, regardless of how I felt?"
"No," her hands covered his. "That's not what I meant at all. I just said it to give me some time to think about all of this. I honestly had no intention of leaving the ship with him...I mean, he's you...and yet," she met his eyes again, "He's not. Nor could he ever be. He can't take your place, Will. I realize that now. When I first saw him, it was like seeing you for the first time on Betazed. I don't know...maybe, somehow in my mind, I thought getting involved with him was like getting a clean slate with you...a different man that was still, in a way, you. It meant I wouldn't have to deal with all that emotional baggage that you and I had pushed away."
Again, Will said nothing. Deanna tried to put things into a different perspective so he would understand. "Look at it this way, Will. How would you react if another me showed up?"
He tried to imagine the scenario, and the whole idea of it made his head hurt. *It'd be like sleeping with your ex-girlfriend's sister* he thought. Will mentally shuddered with a feeling of uncertainty. "I understand now, Deanna." She stared at him, still not knowing what to do. "There's no other way to deal with this...than to tell him, Will."
He nodded in agreement. She brought her hand to the back of Will's neck, and brought him down to her. They both sat there-forehead to forehead. Deanna said nothing, just held him there. "I'm so sorry, Imzadi...for everything," Will apologized. "We both have a lot of healing to do...together."
She met his eyes, "Tomorrow is all we have to worry about now."
As Deanna Troi walked down the corridor on her way to the bridge, a familiar presence came from behind her. She stopped walking and turned to face him. "Deanna, we need to talk."
There was a strong look of seriousness on the face of Will Riker's twin. "We can go to my office..."
"No," he kept her from finishing her sentence with a tone of urgency in his voice, "I have to go, so I have to tell you now."
She stared at him in silence, waiting to hear what he had to say. "Deanna...I respect your wishes to stay here. I won't push the issue any further." It wasn't the exact response she expected to hear from him.
"Besides," he continued, "I know you could never love me as much as you love him...I mean, as much as you love Will. It'd be wrong of me to just show up like I did, and then take you away on a whim. After you've been here with him all this time."
There was almost of touch of sadness in his voice as he spoke to her. "The bottom line is this: I can't expect you to just fall in love with me again over night, nor should I have ever been selfish enough to think so in the first place." Deanna wanted to say something, but he stopped her. "I wish things could be different between us...but the truth is, this is where you belong, and out there is where I belong. Don't worry about me, Deanna. I can take care of myself." He gave her an encouraging smile.
"It's not you I worry about," she managed to say with humor in her eyes, despite the seriousness of the moment, "It's the rest of the galaxy that I fear for."
He laughed, and gently brought her into his arms. "I'm going to miss you," he said as he hugged Deanna.
"And I'll miss you."
Thomas kissed her softly on the forehead and took one long, last look at the beauty before him. "It was fun while it lasted, don't you think, my dear?"
"Yes, it was," she said, smiling, "Now let's get you off this ship before Will kills us both."
They laughed together as they made their way to the transporter room.
Captain Picard and other members of the senior staff stood in the room as Rikers twin prepared for transport. "Good luck, and stay out of trouble."
"Right, Captain." He nodded.
He turned his attention back to Deanna. "I hope he doesn't give you much trouble."
Deanna laughed through her tears and said, "Believe me, he's all the trouble I can take."
The twin now called Thomas (taken from 'their' middle name) looked to Will. "Take care of her. She's the only one you got." He caught Deanna's eye, then back to Tom.
"I will. You can count on it."
He shimmered away in a haze of light with a smile on his face. *Until we meet again, Deanna. Take care of yourself, beautiful. * She smiled at his thoughts, and left the transporter room with Will Riker by her side.