Playing It Safe
Set during the events of ‘Second Chances’. Will is forced to come to terms with his feelings towards Deanna and her deepening relationship with Thomas. Rated G.
Title: Playing it Safe
Authors note: This is set during the episode ‘Second Chances’ so if you haven’t seen it you may be at a loss as to what’s going on
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all.
From the moment she offered to talk to him, Will knew it would mean trouble. Why hadn’t he said something, stopped her? The truth was he was scared. Scared to take a chance and scared that she would reject him.
William Riker, first officer of the Enterprise, was scared of his feelings. He could face the Borg, the Klingons or anything else that threatened his life, but he couldn’t face his feelings for a woman who meant more than anything to him.
And where had that fear left him? In his quarters, alone while she was with him. Him, being Will’s duplicate, Lieutenant William T. Riker. What a strange situation he had found himself in! He was, in a way, jealous of himself. Will laughed at the thought. “I can’t believe this,” he spoke out loud.
Will stood up from behind his desk and began to pace the room. If she was all he could think about, then why the hell couldn't he tell her that? He had told her not so long ago, and she had said it wasn’t the right time or the right place. But things were different now. By choosing to be with Lieutenant Riker, she had in some way admitted that she still loved him.
It wasn’t long before his breathing deepened and he felt as if he were being strangled. A non-existent hand clutched at his throat, his heartbeat quickened and it felt like his heart was going to leap out of his chest.
He moved to the couch and sat down, leaning his head forward between his knees and taking quick deep breaths. “Damn it Deanna, look what you’re doing to me.”
Needing more room to breath and a drink, he stood up and headed to Ten Forward.
As he made his way through the corridors, other officers smiled and greeted him. He was polite to them but never offered more than he was capable of.
Upon entering Ten Forward he saw friends and couples gathered around tables, chatting and having a good time. He immediately refused the idea of joining anyone, the thought of making small talk bringing a scowl to his face.
Walking up to the viewport he stopped and watched as the stars streamed past.
He began to wonder if he would feel any different if Deanna had become involved with a complete stranger. She would spend time with that stranger, and then the Enterprise would move on and their relationship would be safe.
But this situation was different, Lieutenant Riker knew about the promises they’d made and he knew about Imzadi. And it seemed that he was willing to take the risks that Will wasn’t, or was he? Would Lieutenant Riker follow the same path through Starfleet or would he give it all up for Deanna?
As these thoughts wandered through his mind he had felt her presence near him. He turned to see her watching him, immediately seeing the look in her eyes. She was in love.
The conversation that followed was somewhat awkward as he informed her of his concerns and doubts about Lieutenant Riker.
Will wanted to be with her, but what he wanted more than anything was for her to happy and to not get hurt again. She had suffered enough when their relationship hadn’t worked out and he didn’t want her going through that again.
After assuring him she would be careful, she left him alone with his thoughts. He watched as she walked out the door, studying the way she moved, following the curves of her body. Those curves made him ache to hold her and tell her how much he loved her. 'What I wouldn't give to bury my face in her beautiful hair and take in it's fragrance,' he thought as he watched it swish back and forth as she walked.
Would this be the last time he would look at her like this? Would he be left with only memories? Knowing there wasn’t enough room on the Enterprise for both Rikers, Will suspected Lieutenant Riker wouldn’t be around for long. He just hoped he wouldn’t take Deanna with him.
Remembering he had organized a game of poker with Data and Worf earlier, he returned to his quarters.
His crewmates arrived soon after, and as usual, Will took them for everything they had. Up until Lieutenant Riker had shown up, he had managed to keep his thoughts of Deanna to a minimum.
Will graciously asked the Lieutenant to join them and their poker game continued. Data and Worf looked on as both Riker men tested how far one could push the other. Their behavior resembled that which is normally seen prior to a barroom brawl. Their words escalated and finally reached boiling point. Neither threw a punch, but they had opened wounds buried deep within each other.
Feeling defeated, Lieutenant Riker got up and left the room. Will was surprised to find he actually felt a bit guilty about his behavior. He didn’t like his twin but maybe he had handled the situation the wrong way.
Looking over at Data and Worf, he noticed that they both looked considerably uncomfortable. He suggested they call it a night and Worf shifted in his seat before agreeing.
Collapsing backwards on his bed, Will stared up at the ceiling until he heard the voice of his captain.
<<Picard to Riker.>>
Will slapped his comm badge. “Riker here.”
<<Will, I just thought you should know Lieutenant Riker has been offered a position on board the Ghandi.>>
“I’m here sir, thank you for letting me know. Riker out.” He tapped his comm badge ending the conversation.
Unsure of what he was going to do, different scenarios began to play over in his mind. Should he wait and see if Deanna chose to leave and play it safe, or should he say something and risk it? Rolling onto his stomach he covered his head with a pillow, indecision running amok in his mind until he fell into an exhausted slumber.
When he awoke, the headache he had fallen asleep with had intensified. Even in sleep he couldn’t escape! Sitting up on the edge of the bed while rubbing the remnants of sleep from his eyes, he ran his fingers through his hair.
After looking over at the chrono he realized there was less than an hour until they would transport down to Nervala IV for their third attempt at retrieving the database on the planet's outpost.
The thought of spending more time with Lieutenant Riker wasn’t a pleasant one, but knowing he wouldn’t have to put up with the awkwardness much longer eased the torment. He couldn’t pinpoint what it was that he disliked so much about his twin. Was it that he saw things in Lieutenant Riker that he didn’t like in himself? The qualities that stood out in the Lieutenant appeared to be the opposite of himself. Their lives had been so different for the past eight years, both of them being molded into their own distinctive person.
Did his twin still possess the qualities that Will no longer did? Was that why Deanna was drawn to him, because he was more like the man she had fallen in love with in their youth? Questions probed his mind, and, not for the first time in the past twenty-four hours, he had begun to question the choice he had made.
Needing to not be alone with his thoughts any longer, he changed into a clean uniform and headed to the bridge.
Captain Picard was a little surprised to see Will on the bridge, considering he wasn’t on duty. Still he hadn’t questioned his first officer or his motives, the Captain understood the position Will was in and how distressing it must have been for him.
Time past relatively quickly while he was on the bridge and before Will knew it he was on the planet.
Lieutenant Riker accompanied him to access the main core under the station in the caverns.
Will walked in front and began walking along the bridge, which crossed the distance of a deep black hole in the cavern. He had made it safely across when the bridge collapsed. His twin hung onto the fallen bridge as Will leaned over and grabbed on to his arms. He could see the terror in the other mans eyes as he pleaded for him to let go.
Sweat began to run down Will's face as he used his strength to hold on to his twin and screamed at him to climb. He pleaded with him to move his legs. The Lieutenant’s feet scraped along the grating of the bridge as his legs frantically pumped to push him up. Eventually he managed to scramble partially up the fallen bridge and Will hauled him up.
The two of them worked together and finally pulled him all the way up, saving him from certain death. Looking at each other, a new understanding could be seen in their eyes. Even with their difficulties with each other, they had managed to pull together, saving the Lieutenant's life.
The away team returned to the Enterprise and Will headed back to his quarters after reporting to the captain.
Will emerged from the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist, still dripping wet. He stopped short of the bed when he say his trombone sitting in the corner of the room. He walked over to it and picked it up, running his fingers over its smoothness. Thinking it was as much a part of Lieutenant Riker as it was of him, he decided that he would give it to him.
He hadn’t heard that Deanna was leaving so he presumed that she wasn’t. If he’d turned up and Deanna told him she was leaving too, then he had made the decision that he would lay his heart on the line and tell her everything. It had gotten to the stage where he was willing to lose his pride and ask her to stay, for him. ‘How did I get myself into this mess,’ he asked himself.
When the door opened to the Lieutenant's quarters, he was somewhat startled by the closeness of his duplicate and Deanna. He apologized and was ready to leave when he was asked in.
After receiving the trombone, Lieutenant Riker informed both Will and Deanna that he would be using the name Thomas, showing just how unique they really were.
Thomas had kissed Deanna and said that he was willing to wait for her. Will's eyes fell to the ground, feeling uncomfortable with their embrace. For now, their relationship was safe. There was no need to make a fool of himself by asking her to stay and by blurting out his feelings.
He hadn’t known what he was going to say, the truth was he would have said anything to keep her near him. Maybe he would have told her that she completed him, that she was the missing part of his soul and that he could no longer live a day without her. But the first thing he would have told her was that he loved her and needed her, just as he needed the air he breathed.
Thomas had asked him to take care of her, and he thought of how it had become second nature for him. He couldn’t not take care of her. She was always the constant in every decision he made, whether it was personal or work related. It was also one of the reasons he was still the First Officer on the Enterprise and not commanding a ship of his own.
Once Thomas had said his good-byes and left the room, Will turned to look at Deanna. Inwardly, he sighed with relief. He hadn’t lost her. He could see the pain reflected in her eyes as tears threatened. Wanting nothing more than to look after her, he held out his hand.
She took his outstretched hand and they left the room together.