Title: Afterthoughts
Author: Briana
Rating: G Codes: R, m/T. Angst, non-canon.
Authors notes: Tribute to Riker/Troi from TNG. Written in Will Rikers point of view.

Looking across the way, I see her walk in, hanging off the arm and every word of another man. I don't really know why I feel this way. I'm honestly not the jealous type. Never have been...until now. Seeing the way she responds to him, it's almost as if she's mocking me from afar, teasing me, testing me. What makes her different from all the other women I've ever been involved with? I have to laugh, because I know the answer. I was always involved with other women. I didn't recognize that I was in love until I met Deanna Troi.

I sigh, and return my attention briefly to my drink. I'd rather not draw attention to myself, especially from her, if she knows I'm watching her. She knows discretion is not one of my stronger points. How can I help myself? She draws this behavior out from me...or rather, my feelings for her do. It's my own fault I have these regrets, this guilt, and bitterness. I have this uncontrollable urge to approach her and tell her all these things...but seeing her happiness as she smiles at him, it's enough to keep my self-restraint in tact.

It's not as if this is a new experience. I've been this way for quite a long time now, wallowing in self-pity and 'what-might-have-been'. It makes me wonder why Deanna hasn't confronted me about it already. Even without her empathy, she can read me like a book. Maybe it's because she's as comfortable as I am, wearing this mask of friendship to hide my deeper concerns. Or maybe like me, she is in denial of her feelings. After all, life is easier to get by without the complications of years gone by. But how healthy is that? She would know better. All the same... old wounds are hard to heal with every new opportunity for them to re-open.

I find it easy to leave these issues dormant as long as I can preoccupy myself with work and keep to myself. Not even my closest friends-- Worf, Geordi or even Data--have mentioned anything regarding my moods as of late. Maybe it's more obvious to me.

I can't blame this solely on her. It's my doing for hurting her in the first place, for abusing her trust and her love for me. When I envisioned the future with her, I didn't think it would be anything like this. To think"for the briefest moment in time"I was seeing myself as her husband, the father of her...our...children. It disappeared so fast. God, I wish that she knew how sorry I am. If I could do anything, I'd tell her I was sorry. It's not even so much that I want her back"it would be enough for her to know that I regret all the things I've done to cause her pain. Could she forgive me, after all this time?

I'm startled suddenly to find her standing next to me. "Will? Is everything all right?" She places a gentle hand to mine. Meeting her eyes, I smile. "Yeah, Deanna. I'm fine." We maintain contact for a few moments. I wonder if something in my eyes is betrayed in my expression, because for the briefest of seconds, she almost looks as if she might cry. But the wonder passes as she returns my smile. "You know where to reach me if you need anything." My attention goes back to my drink, lost in my thoughts. I think on her words. Even if I could go to her, I'm not so sure that I could reach her now.