Author: Pia Pedersen

Rated PG-13

Disclaimers are here.

He wants her. It is as clear as anything she has ever felt. Will Riker is
about to make love to her, and Deanna can feel shivers of anticipation all
over her body. It has been so long, so very long. She can feel the tension
in him, and then … then … she closes her eyes and sears the connection
that should never have been made. The woman he is kissing and touching
isn't her, and it will most likely never be her again. To feel his sexual
desire and know that someone else has awakened it … did she really
thought it wouldn't hurt? Was the need to feel connected to him really so
strong that every principle she ever lived by had ceased to matter?


His eyes follow her as she steps through the doors and takes her place
beside him at the table. She can feel his concern for her and smiles
briefly in acknowledgment. He returns it, his eyes searching her face.

"Are you okay?"

She can't help thinking how loaded that question is, how many ways it
could be answered, but she is not ready for that kind of conversation, and
so she settles for a confirming nod.

"Dreams," she adds when he holds her gaze, silently asking her to elaborate.


"No," she says, dismissing any further questions with a wave of her hand.
"I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

He presses on and Deanna knows he does it only because he cares for her,
only because he is worried for her. But she still isn't willing to get
into it.


"All right," he acknowledges, "but if you want to talk ---"

"I don't." She cuts him off. A little too abrupt, a little too impatient,
and she can sense his hurt.

"Obviously not." He masks his surprise at her outburst with one of those
signature smiles. But this time it doesn't reach his eyes. And he moves
away from her a little. The simple gesture speaks volumes to Deanna, and
she smiles, although Will doesn't see it. And it's better that way. They
are on shaky ground as it is. "I've …" He looks at her now, an uncommon
look in the eyes she knows and reads so well. "I've been thinking."


"I have to ---" He looks away from her as he rephrases. "I'm going to
speak to the Captain. After the briefing."

"You're leaving." It isn't a question and not a statement … merely an
observation. Shouldn't she feel worse? Shouldn't she feel sad? Is she
supposed to ask him to stay? Is she supposed to tell him she wants him to
stay for her sake, for theirs? Maybe. But she can't. She just can't.

"It's about time," he says, "if I don't, there may not be another chance.
And, there isn't much for me here anymore."

"Is that suppose to be an accusation, Will? Is this some sort of ultimatum?"

"I may be arrogant, Deanna, but I'm not stupid. I don't deliver
ultimatums, and I sure as hell wouldn't present you with one. Especially
not when I'm pretty sure it would not change a thing."

"No," she agrees, "I suppose it wouldn't."

"We tried," he whispers, "it didn't work. Not then and not now. Maybe it's
time to move on."

"I think so," she says. Will's blue eyes grow darker, and Deanna senses
him come to terms with what she has said. "In fact," she teases lightly,
"I was under the impression that you already had."

His head jerks up quickly. The shock apparent on his face is not the
reaction she expected. It makes her just a little uneasy. She sighs
softly, offering him a slightly apologetic look. How do you define
boundaries with someone who knows your soul, someone who is forever a part
of you in every possible way?

"Your impression is false," he replies. Suddenly his eyes are almost
black. Deanna has to admit, once again, that his eyes may be the single
most expressive pair she has ever seen. Or felt. A tingle runs down her
spine as the memory of how he once looked at her returns. "Deanna." His
voice is dangerously calm; too calm. "How would you get that impression?"

The question is only for effect. She knows that, and she also knows that
there is no excuse, no explanation that she can offer will justify that
kind of invasion.

"I'm sorry," she says, nevertheless. "I'm so sorry, Will. It was --- I
shouldn't have."

"You sure as hell shouldn't have!" His voice is explosive, his tone
unforgiving. "For God sake, Deanna! Make up your mind, will you? Either
you want me, or you don't." He took a deep breath. "I can't believe you
did that … I just can't believe you would ever do that!"

"I can't either," she admonishes, the shame coloring he cheeks lightly.

"Then why the hell did you? What possessed you to ---?" He breaks off
angrily. "I don't even know what to say."

"Will …" she tries, but she is silenced by the entrance of the Captain and
the rest of the senior crew.

~ Will, please let me try to … ~

"Deanna," he whispers much too gently as they both focus on the Captain's
briefing. "Stay out of my mind."

"Damn it," she curses, and it gets his attention. "Don't talk to me like
I'm a child! That's not fair!"

"Fair?" He shot her an icy look, his words spoken under his breath. "You
have the nerve to talk to me about fair after violating my privacy in the
most intimate way?"

"Let me try to explain."

"Try being the operative word," he shoots back. None of them have heard
much of the Captain's instructions, and as the rest of the officers start
to leave Deanna remain seated. "Forget it." He looks shocked,
disillusioned, and she can't blame him. She will never be able to explain
to anyone why she bypassed the both the written and unwritten rules and
customs of her Betazoid heritage and invaded his thoughts and emotions.
Even if it had been only for a short moment.

But she has to try. She will not let him leave like this. She can't.


Will looks up at her as she stops in front of his table. Save a couple of
officers in the far end of the lounge, they are alone.

"Can we talk?"

"We can." He finishes his drink. "But I don't think I want to."

"Did you talk to the Captain?"


"When do you disembark?"

Deanna focuses on an imaginary fiber on her dress, surprised at how empty
she already feels. He is sitting right across from her, but it feels like
he is already gone.

"I am gone, Deanna," he tells her silently, and she gasps inaudibly. "I
am. Whatever we had, we don't anymore."

"Just like that?"

"What I can't figure out," he mumbles, ignoring her question, "is why you
would do what you did when you know … you know how violating it is." He
paused, pushing the empty glass away. "I never asked for this. I never
asked to be at your mercy like this."


"That's how I feel."

"It isn't one-sided," she argues, taken back, "we renewed the bond
together. I don't recall you …" She sighs, there is no way out of this,
and she might as well stop looking for one.

"The difference is that when we realized it wouldn't work, when I walked
away from you, I left that part of me behind. I live with you in my mind
everyday, but I cope with it. I make it work, and I know when to … I know
what lines I should never cross. There are boundaries, Deanna. There has
to be, even if it seems impossible at times."

"Do you ever miss it?"

"I'm only human," he smiles, and she cherishes the sight. A few minutes
ago she was certain he would never smile at her again.

"Sometimes I think that's one of your best qualities," she whispers,
registering a hint of the affection that he still has for her.

"You didn't always think so," he reminds her, a note of playfulness in his
voice as their eyes meet briefly.

"Things change," she says, realizing too soon how serious her tone is. "I
am sorry, Will."

"I know," he allows, getting up to leave. A light gesture of his hand, and
she is walking beside him. None of them speak. Not until they stop outside
his quarters, and the silence becomes less than comfortable.

"Good night."

He nods, and she wonders how it has come to be this way, how they have
come to be like distant acquaintances so quickly after having been as
close, physically and emotionally, as it is possible for two people to be?
In the past they have been able to remain friends, close friends that have
taken part in each other's lives. But that does not seem possible this

This time, there are boundaries. She looks at him as he begins to turn
away from her. Of course she knows that they have always been there, they
just have not been visible. It has been a silent understanding, one that
Deanna never imagined she would be the one to break.
"Come inside for a moment," he asks, turning back to face her. She does
not offer a reply; she just follows him, stepping far enough inside the
cabin that the doors are allowed to close behind her.


"When will you go?"

They stand face to face, his tall figure towering over her smaller one. A
single step, one little step, and they would be in each other's arms. But
none of them move, Will does not even speak to answer her question. They
just stand there, until, finally, Deanna steps back from him and sit down.

"The ship will be ready next month," he tells her, "but I leave in a few

"Would you have told me?"

She does not mean to sounds like this. Possessive. Accusing. Pathetic. But
it hurts, so much. It isn't supposed to hurt so much. Is it weak of her to
feel that way, to not want to be on this ship without him? After all, she
just agreed that it was time to move on. She smiles inwardly, a little
amazed at how quickly her emotions have changed. A few hours ago she had
wondered why his decision hadn't moved her more, and now here she is.
Deanna takes in a deep breath, hoping to calm herself. It does not work.
The emptiness inside her only increases. Will has taken a seat as well,
resting his arms on the back of the chair as his eyes settle on her face.
Deanna can feel them there; it only makes it harder to focus.

"I wish you didn't have to ask."

"So do I."

"You're actually not sure if I would leave without telling you, without
saying goodbye. I can't believe we have come this far and yet not moved at
all. So, when you told me that you knew I'd changed, you didn't mean it.
Is that it?"

"No," she maintains. "I did. I do. If I hadn't, I would never have said
it. But we're so far away from where we were then, Will. Can't you see

"Of course I can," he concedes, "never mind."

"But that's just it. I do mind. How did we end up here?"

"What does it matter, Deanna? We're here."

"It matters to me, Will." She rises from the couch, slowly pacing the
room. "I don't want it to end this way."

"But it has." He's whispering now, suddenly in front of her. "Come here."

"No." She resists the pull to rest in his embrace, to forget the last six
months of estrangement and the pain of knowing that she will never be
entirely free of him, no matter how hard she tries. He's wrong. What they
shared isn't gone; it never will be – the fact that they live with a
constant awareness of the other's thoughts should be proof enough.

She leaves the cabin without another word or even a backward glance. And
he lets her go.


It is well into ship's night, and when she makes her way from her cabin
the quietness of the corridors envelopes her, overwhelms her shortly
before she steels herself and continues silently. She sees no one, hears
no one, and for a moment Deanna has to listen intently, suddenly unaware
of her own breath. She reaches her destination and loses herself in the
darkness on the other side of the view port.

There is hardly any stars, any light, and Troi closes her eyes. Suddenly
there is water everywhere, and she is floating, she is calm …

One moment. Two. Three.

Deanna gasps for breath, grasping for something, anything, to hold on to.
For a moment all is gone, and then it returns in a flash. Everything is
suddenly so abundantly clear. So painfully clear.

And there he is. She can sense him in the room with her, feel his hands on
her shoulder even though she knows he is sill standing there, in the
doorway; indecisive and uncharacteristically uncertain.

"Deanna," he says, his voice just above a whisper, and she turns towards
him waiting in silence for him to continue. "I don't want to leave this

"It wasn't so long ago that you said something very different," she points

"We do have to move on," he repeats, "both of us. It's too painful." He
walks closer, and she fights the impulse to step back. Instead she stands
her ground, and the feeling of being in his arms, when she finally
relents, is overpowering. "I have to know why."

She does not pretend not to know what he refers to. Instead she lifts her
head to look at him. "I miss you, Will."

"Do you really?"

"Yes," Deanna says, leaving the circle of his arms. "I don't expect you to
understand it, because I don't. I don't think either of us are meant to.
But I do miss you. It doesn't excuse what I did, but ---"

"It does explain it." Will finishes her sentence, drawing her back into
his arms. "Somewhat." His blue eyes search out her dark ones. "I miss you,
too. I always will." His smile grows wider as he touches her face, the
feeling of her skin against hers is revitalizing. "I love you, Deanna. You
know I do."

"Yes," she nods, "I do. I always thought that it would be enough."

"It isn't," he says, noting her surprised expression. "Not even for us."

"Will it ever be, Will?"

"I can't answer that," he whispers, kissing her suddenly. There is
desperation in his touch, longing, and love. So much love. "God, Deanna …"

"What?" There is a slightly teasing note in her voice, and he holds her
closer, his lips settling on that soft spot on her neck. "Will …"

"Yes." He steps back before she has time to ask him to. "I didn't come
here for this. It's just --- "

"For me, too," she admits. "I love you."

"You don't have to say that." His hands have moved to her face again, and
Will is sure he will never see anything more beautiful than her smile. Or
feel anything more exhilarating than the feeling of her lips on his.

"I want you to remember."

"Nothing could ever make me forget." He swallows, wondering how it became
so hard to speak. "We're bonded, and I wouldn't want it any other way."

She knows that he's honest, and, for some reason that she will never be
able to articulate, she is relieved. The bond is sacred, it will always be
present between them, and Deanna realizes that she isn't the only who is
reassured by that fact. So is Will.

"It's hard," she whispers, still resting in his arms with her head against
his chest. "The boundaries were always blurry, but they were constant."
"Unspoken," he adds, and his deep voice resonates through her entire
being. "Until now." There is a brief silence, and she lifts her head to
look at him again. "I don't know what will happen, Deanna."

"No one does, Will."

"No. I guess not."

Another silence, another instance of wordless communication. When they
come together again, the kisses develop and seem to stretch into infinity,
and Will and Deanna hold on, both reluctant to let go.

"Take care," she whispers, and he smiles a little. "Be safe."

"Deanna," he begins, but she cuts him off quickly.

"No, Will, don't," she asks, and he concedes.

"It just seems so …"

"Permanent," she acknowledges, and he nods. There are so many questions
they both wish they had the answers to.

"No goodbyes," he asks, and it surprises them both.

"Good night," she says instead, a smile on her lips. Will holds her one
last time, and then he watches her leave. The pain is unmistakable.

"Deanna?" he calls out, and she stops in the doorway, turning around to
face him yet again. The turmoil that is his emotions mirrors her own

"It will be all right," she says, believing it. "No matter what happens,
it will be for the best."

"Yes," Will smiles again, "I think it will."