"After All This Time"
Author: Pia Pedersen

Rating: PG. Or PG-13. You'd think I would have figured this stuff out by now …

Timeframe: Sometime early on when they weren't a couple.

Disclaimers apply.



I'm surprised to see you, but I smile even so. I let you inside, and I close the door to the outside world, to the world that keeps us apart, as you sit down.

We don't speak - words are too fragile, too dangerous - and somehow our silence underlines the secrecy that surrounds these late night meetings. You shouldn't be here, and I shouldn't reach out to you like I do. But I can't help it, and before I know it, you've dragged me towards you and down onto your lap.

"Kiss me," you say, my heart aching with the pain in your voice, the need that is so clear. "Let me kiss you."

"I'm here," I whisper, and my arms wound around your neck at their own volition. You hold on tighter to me, as if you want to make sure that I am really here. That this is actually happening, after all this time.

"Are you?"

I deepen the kiss and let that be my answer. It feels so good. Is it just that I haven't kissed someone in a while, or is it simply because it's you?


"I like that," you mumble, and our eyes lock briefly. Then you smile.

"What?" I'm suddenly self-conscious. Not a lot of people can bring that feeling out in me, and I don't necessarily like to admit that you can. But some things are inescapable. Some things just are; they defy explanation … like the two of us.

"That sound." You kiss me, softly this time. Almost unbearably gentle. I didn't realize you were capable of such gentleness. I don't know you like this, I realize. Is this how you are with her? No, I decide, finding confirmation in your eyes.

This Will Riker woke up just for me. And I like him. I love him.

I love you.

"This?" I whisper, smiling as you capture my lips again.

"That," you say, your hands moving to rest on my hips. "Why did we wait so long to do this?"

I want to tell you why. There are reasons, and many of them. But I can't remember any of them right now. I also don't care. Not now.


You're worried, and I move away from you a little, getting up from your lap. The magic of the moment is broken.

"There were reasons, and they are still valid."

"I know." You sigh. "I should have stressed that it was a rhetorical question …"

I can't help smiling at that. It would be so easy to give in, to just let it happen. But there is something I have to know first.

"Have you made up your mind?"

An uncomfortable expression flashes over your face, and I sense the change in your emotions, no matter how brief it is. That is one of the drawbacks of being so close to someone.

"Don't do this," you ask, "don't close yourself off to me."

"I have to," I say, my voice betraying the conflicted emotion that rages inside me. Maybe it's a good thing that we've waited, because it means you can't read me the way you would have been able to otherwise.

"Will you be here?"

Your question floats in the space between us as I struggle to form an answer.

"I don't know," I say, finally. "I want to be, Will. I want this, but I don't know if I should."

You nod seriously, and as the silence stretches, I can feel you coming to terms with my answer. It hurt you, but I don't want to feel bad about that.

I'm not the one who is in a relationship right now - I'm not the one who has to make up my mind and choose. You have to choose …

"I know," you acknowledge, momentarily startling me. Maybe you can sense a thing or two, after all. "And I will. I will, Deanna."

With that you leave, and I watch you go, knowing that you will go to her. It is true. I want to wait. But things happen, situations change, and no one knows what the future holds …

Suddenly you're back, and I realize I have yet to move from the doorway. The kiss is deep, filled with such intensity that I can do nothing but respond.

"What was that?"

"We have to work this out," you say. "We can do it."

I smile, again. You can be very persuasive when you want to be. And right now you want to. Maybe you're right, maybe we can.

After all this time, it seems we are both finally ready to move forward …