The Force Behind the Power
G or less;-)
Nobodyís mine, the way I've been jerked around this week I donít think even I belong to myself.
For two years now Iíve been watching you all explore what I call the "hidden scenes" of your favorite eps. This is mine. My favorite episode, "Best of Both Worlds" (oh yea just slam me in w/ the masses), but aside from "measure of man" this episode called up more Riker empathy for me then any of the others.
A rich carpet of black velvet adorned with the flickering jewels of a million stars seemed to reach out and touch infinity in front of him. The colors, shades of blue and gold, amber and red traveled from light-years away to stroke their deceiving and mysterious placidity over a face lined by worry, shadowed by fatigue. He inhaled a breath, the acting Captain of the Enterprise D, and held it in his lungs, holding it until his heart responded, his stomach reached a crescendo of panic.
"Nothing but a vacuum," he said on a long exhale, his body insisting he immediately gulp another breath. A self-inflicted test to see if he was still alive, if anything really mattered anymore.
Heíd begun this battle with an upsurge of determination. An emotion challenged quickly by fear, panic, grief and a deadly hopelessness that had snaked and coiled around all the others, spiraling it into a funnel of confusion and finally choking them all; Leaving him in a vacuum as lethal as the one that lay just beyond the force field.
He barely glanced at Captain Picardís empty chair, and didnít listen to the ghostly words of encouragement he was certain he heard coming from behind him, instead he stepped out onto the bridge.
"You have the bridge Mr. Data, keep me apprised." A well rehearsed smile, a few affirmative nods, and his performance was complete. An actor reading from a fairy tale script, his stage the bridge of a destined starship, his audience a crew that's greatest hope was death instead of assimilation.
"Deck eight," he ordered, standing rigidly in the center of the lift. His plan, the only one heíd been able to come up with had a snowballs chance in hell of succeeding, and a final tour of his ship seemed appropriate. Except there was only one place on the ship he felt compelled to go in these final minutes or hours before he was summoned to the battle bridge.
He didnít ring the chimes, and ignored the lock, accessing her quarters and moving inside like a zombie controlled by a larger force. The living quarters were dark; he followed the flickering ivory glow, the exotic and healing fragrance of Maile into the bathroom.
"Hi." His voice, soft and impassive still startled her. She jumped up, then slid down under the silver-blue cloud of bubbles that protected her. Protected her as he couldnít.
"I thought Iíd like to spend a few moments with you." He hardly afforded her a look as he slid his body down the wall and settled on the plush carpet that covered the floor.
"Iím in the bath."
"I donít usually have guest here.... I'm naked."
"I know, you look very beautiful." His voice, as flat as the emotions she felt from him, more chilling then the distant gaze in his eyes.
"Are you worried?"
"This is a rather strange time to be bathing isnít it?" The way he was looking past her, through her, she wondered if heíd just noticed. She chose to ignore his question.
"The crew is feeling very confident with you as their captain."
His chuckle, low and bitter swept over her heated skin with a glacial chill that froze her heart in her chest, creating a fragile crystal she was certain would shatter under the abysmal feelings that projected to her.
"How about you," he asked, closing himself up again, "do you have every confidence?"
"I do," she answered without reservation, without pause, without a seed of doubt in her heart.
She leaned her arm against the edge of the tub, the cool porcelain and the smooth heat of the water against her skin eclipsed by the clash of fiery determination and frigid doubt that played over his eyes in vivid blue and smoky gray shadows. She watched him, felt him draw on her conviction, her faith that he could and would make sure there was a tomorrow.
"Thanks." He said it so suddenly she had to bite back a gasp. "I needed to know that." He was on his hands and knees, mere inches from her face before sheíd formed a cognitive thought, snatching her sighed youíre welcome from her lips with a sweet, gentle kiss.
"Deanna I..." He hesitated, looked down at her arm then back into her eyes. "I want you to kn..."
"Tell me tomorrow Will," she interrupted, barely touching his beard with a soapy hand, "It will still be there tomorrow."
"Youíre right, it will." He kissed the palm of the hand she hovered next his cheek and stood up, a grin of confidence, conviction and strength completing the image she always held next to her heart.
"It will be there tomorrow," he said over his shoulder, " and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that...." His repetitive assurance echoed in her mind long after the doors to her quarters hushed his voice and the urgent Captain to the bridge stabbed through her heart.