Author: Poet Dareau
When She Loved Me

A man sits in a window booth in a nearly empty lounge on some Starbase, alone. His hand is pressed against the glass and he stares, unseeing, at the stars. He counts his fingers, his knuckles, the hair on the back of his hand. Anything to keep from focusing on the fact that he is alone. The appearance of another synthehol, replacing the empty mug he'd pushed across the table, startles him, and he looks into the kindly face of the bartender, removing his hand from the glass window. The understanding look the woman gives him does more harm than good, as if it only serves to confirm the fact that he is alone and she... She isn't.
He turns back to the window, gazing at his own reflection for a brief second then focusing on the handprint he had left behind. As he watches, the hand-shaped condensation slowly disappears, leaving behind no sign he had ever touched the glass.
Focusing on his reflection again, he wonders if it shows, if *she* shows. The only outward sign she had ever been a part of his life is his clean-shaven face. That was for her. Other than that, you'd never know she had been a part of his life. Except that he looks about a decade older than he did a year ago.
He runs his hand over his face, trailing his fingers down his cheek to cup his chin, an unconscious gesture he'd picked up from his bearded years. As he strokes his chin, he raises his eyes to the window and his mouth drops open.
There she is. The mirror image of the love of his life entering the lounge. She catches his eye in the reflection and smiles softly. He raises his head to gaze at her likeness in the glass and the lines around his eyes soften. For a perfect moment, there are only two people in the lounge, in the world, the universe, and their names are Will Riker and Deanna Troi. The moment spans an eternity
And is over in a beat of his broken heart, as another man walks in and wraps his arm around her waist. She looks up at him and smiles as if he comprises the entirety of her world. As the father of her unborn child, he does. He rubs her round belly, then guides her to a table in the very middle of the room.
Her worried look to the booth by the window doesn't even register in Will's mind as he stands awkwardly and leaves the room. No one notices the despondent look on his face. No one but his Imzadi. She sighs, and when her husband questions her downcast expression, she smiles sadly at him. The last thing Will hears as the door closes behind him is her sweet voice saying that she was just thinking of an old friend.
Will collapses against the closed door, pretending he can hear their conversation through the bulkhead. Hear him asking if the baby is kicking, hear her laugh as she answers that the baby is always kicking.
Hear her laugh, like lots of little bells. Bells tinkling softly, filling the entirety of creation with that beautiful sound. And shattering his heart into millions of little pieces, tiny shards piercing every part of his soul , reminding him of when she loved *him*, her Imzadi.
/When she loved me /