My Other Side, Part III
My Other Side:
The next few days they spent together and talked. She had a hotel room although she spent most of her spare time at the cabin Thomas had purchased near his father’s estate.
He talked about his life or lack of it in the Cardassian prison camp and how his father had managed to go though Starfleet personnel using some of his influence on the administrative end. After going through certain channels they finally arranged for probation, followed by a hearing. The jury then gave Thomas full absolution for the crimes he had committed.
Thomas had only been out for two months when he was offered a position at the Alaskan academy teaching new Starfleet recruits tactical maneuvers and strategies. Something he prided himself in.
He joked stating that they probably would never give him another shot aboard a Starship or even a shuttlecraft or if one of his recruits ever tried a stunt like he did; he would probably be in front of a firing squad in split second timing.
His life now was on earth, not in a starship exploring the vast universe. Deanna quickly sensed how he didn’t seem bothered by it. He had settled down and accepted his fate; becoming perfectly content with the cards that life had dealt him.
Thomas hadn’t learned of Will’s death until after he was released from the prison camp, stating that it was too painful for this father to talk about and he didn’t want to press the issue.
He listened quietly as Deanna tried as best she could to relay the details of Will’s death. Listening to her as she spoke of Will, Thomas could tell that Deanna was still deeply in love with his duplicate. He showed no animosity, he simply let her speak. While he listened with undivided attention, knowing she never would fully recover from his death, or totally heal, but desperately willing to be the bandage that could stop the hurting.
Deanna was shopping in the market early one afternoon, looking for some special gifts to take back to the enterprise when she heard his playful voice behind her.
"Hey gorgeous. Wanna have lunch with a perverted old man?" he whispered into her ear.
Turning around, "I thought your father was out of town…."
His eyes widened and a smile spread across his face, "Touché Counselor."
"I went by the hotel, but you had already left." Grabbing an odd looking object from her hand as if to say what in the hell is this. "So this is where you ran off to." He asked as he looking at the awkward statue…. At least he thought it was a statue.
"Yes, I thought I’d do some shopping." She retrieved the item out of his hand and gently placed it on the table. She didn’t dare tell him that she also had been to the gravesite, not wanting to spoil his apparent good mood.
"So what about lunch?"
"I’ll have to take a rain check. I’ve already eaten."
"I see…" he sounded disappointed and then his voice changed into one of expectancy and hope, "Then how about desert?"
"I’m really not…."
He had gotten her attention and her eyes widened at the sound of the word.
"Melt in your mouth…chocolate? Real chocolate?" he tempted her with a cock of his head and a lopsided grin.
"You really are persistent aren’t you?"
He didn’t answer. He just stood there with the famous Riker boyish grin…knowing she was going to say yes to his invitation.
"Do you have real chocolate Thomas or are you just teasing me?"
"You’re the empath…. And if you want to know, you’ll just have to join me."
"I’m not really dressed to go to lunch."
"Miss Troi you look exquisite just as you are."
Thomas had been true to his word…in the pantry, a box of real chocolates each individually covered with foil and displayed in a box that was elegantly wrapped. He told her he had picked them up at a seminar he had gone to with the intentions of sending them to her for her birthday.
He watched with delight how she carefully un-wrapped the chocolate, popping it in her mouth and savoring the flavor of her favorite confection.
"Take these away." She finally sighed, pushing the box away.
He quickly swallowed a mouthful of food and asked "What? You don’t like them?"
"No that’s not the problem." She said, "I do like them…too much, actually. It’s the calories that frighten me."
He stood to his feet and slowly picked up the box of chocolates, purposely running them under her nose. "You sure?" he teased.
She closed her eyes slowly and inhaled the aroma of the chocolate as it passed by tempting her. "My mind is telling me I’m not sure at all, but…." She sighed before she continued, leaning towards him in a whispered. "My posterior is thanking you for taking them away."
He laughed and placed the chocolates on the kitchen counter. "Well in that case, tell your butt your welcome."
She sat and watched Thomas finish his lunch. Her mind drifted to the many times she had sat and watched Will eat from across the table. How he would enjoy each bite, and there wasn’t anything that he would not eat…. He was always eager to try new foods no matter where they came from. She smiled at the remembrance of Will Riker eating her mother’s oskoit and how his face distorted when her mother revealed to him what it was.
He looked at her with a cock of his head, knowing that she was watching him. He had decided to ignore it, and gave her a playful raise of his eyebrows as he continued to finish his plate of food.
"Would you like more coffee?"
"No…. No thank you." She answered. "I really should be going, it’s late."
"Yeah." He sounded a little disappointed, but he didn’t want to go against her decision. "I’ll call you a cab."
"I’ve got time to help you clean up before it arrives."
"Nah that’s all right. Leave it." Thomas answered with a shrug. "The maid will get it tomorrow."
"Liar." She stated flatly…knowing that he didn’t have a house cleaner. She picked up the coffee cups and placed them in the disposal slot and the dishes dematerialized.
She sensed his laughter; he loved to be caught in harmless little lies. He used the excuse that he had to keep her empathic abilities sharp or she would get rusty.
He didn’t answer verbally; he simply looked up at her from the living room making it known she had his undivided attention.
"Do you still cook?"
"I’m still a very imaginative cook, Miss Troi." He answered as he slowly walked towards the kitchen area.
"Really?" she responded almost excited at the possibility of him cooking for her…. Remembering how Will used to cook their dinners. A smile crossed her face wondering if Thomas bragged about his edible masterpieces just as Will had done.
"Yes." He answered…now standing directly in front of her. "I use my imagination and pretend it isn’t a replication, and then I use my imagination again and pretend that it taste like I really cooked it." He reached down and kissed her neck lightly; he turned and walked back into the living room.
She suddenly felt nervous…it was just a harmless kiss, but why the neck? Why didn’t he kiss me on the cheek or the lips? Why did he kiss me at all? My question had nothing to do with kissing? Nor was it leading. At least if he would have made a pass at me…I’m certain I could have handled that…made up some excuse as to why it was all wrong. All of these questions flashed before her mind in an instant.
"You’re over-analyzing again." He stated casually from the living room as he continued to tidy up.
His statement made her look up at him in amazement.
"You do that a lot." He said with a slight cock of his head. He wasn’t angry or upset, he was just speaking the truth, and she knew it.
"I most certainly do not!" She sounded appalled, and she sensed that he knew she wasn’t telling the truth. She walked into the living room and grabbed her coat off of the rack, quickly throwing it over her shoulders.
"Liar." He stated with a lop-sided grin and a raise of his eyebrow.
She stood motionless and watched him, as he stood there just smiling at him, the impact of his blue eyes, those federal blue eyes that could pierce through her soul. She gave him warm smile. He was good to her, extremely tender and patient in so many ways.
Yes, he was definitely good to her, she thought. He had settled down and was now more secure with himself. He had mellowed over the years…gone was the rebel that had defied Starfleet.
Now standing before her was a man…who knew what he wanted out of life, and was on his way of achieving it. She felt a stirring deep within her soul. When Will died, she was certain that she would never feel this way again. She recognized the sensation and it made her a bit apprehensive.
Deanna Troi was falling in love.
"Your ride is here." His voice suddenly became serious.
He stretched his body as if he had suddenly become exhausted. "Goodnight." The words were surrounded by an ill attempt to stifle a yawn, and then he turned and headed towards his bedroom slowly closing the door behind him.
The sound of the shuttlecraft’s beeper made Deanna flinch as she quickly opened the door and ran down steps onto the cool night air, towards the awaiting taxi.