Set after “Letting Go”
Will & Deanna’s paths cross again two years after Will’s wedding. Will
their past come back to haunt them?
He missed her.
The pain had trailed him like a shadow over the years. He kept it locked
inside the deepest, most private part of his soul. His memories of her were ever
present, and even though he had succeeded in blocking them for most of the two
years that had passed since his departure from the Enterprise, Will could no
longer fool himself. He had married the wrong woman.
It wasn’t that he did not love Sarah, but the bond he and Deanna Troi
shared could not be denied, nor should it ever have been.
Will moved from the bathroom back into the bedroom. His wife’s soft
breathing was the only sound in the room, and he crawled back in bed to lie
beside her, but he made no attempt to touch her, knowing that all advances would
be promptly rebuffed. She did not want his attention anymore, and deep down
Riker was relieved. It was awful, he knew, and he wished that it were different.
But the truth was that his marriage was failing, and that it had been for
months, even before he had received the news that Deanna had accepted a position
with Starfleet Medical and was now planet side as well. Of course, it had not
helped that he had been so surprised at this that he had allowed his feelings to
show. Sarah was not too comfortable with his past as it were, and although she
did not know the depth of his and Deanna’s past relationship, she did know
that the Betazoid woman was special to him.
“Deanna,” he whispered, not realizing that he voiced his thoughts
before it was too late. Luckily, Sarah had not woken up; she did not even move,
and Will relaxed and closed his eyes to get some sleep. If he was lucky he would
be able to get some rest, and everything would look brighter and less
complicated in the morning.
There was a hologram of him at the nightstand. It had been there for a
long time now, and even if logically Deanna knew it did nothing to aide her in
forgetting, it didn’t matter as much as the rush of warmth she felt just by
looking at his smiling face. She loved that smile, and the fact that it was
probably not the healthiest thing for her to see his face first and last thing
every day didn’t matter. After all, she had not actually seen him in person
since they had said their goodbyes on the Enterprise on the day of his wedding.
She had not been present when he and his bride had disembarked, and she had made
no attempts to contact him. It would be too hard having to see him with the
woman he had wowed to spend the rest of his life with, when she had been so sure
that she was the one Will Riker would eventually marry.
Deanna pushed the thought of him out of her mind, using all of her
strength to do so. But her thoughts seemed to go in circles, always returning to
She had been at Starfleet Medical for little more than a month now, and
she thrived there, more than she thought she would have. She knew that she would
have been completely satisfied with her position had it not been for her knowing
that Will was close by. Deanna had tried a few times to reach him with her
thoughts, but she had had no luck. Either he was intentionally blocking her, or
time and lack of communication had buried their link. She wasn’t even sure if
he knew she had left the ship, nor was she sure that it even mattered to him
anymore where she was and what she did. In fact she was uncertain that she even
wished those questions answered. What if she didn’t like the answers?
It had been a long time since she had spoken this particular word out
loud, and it was just as painful as she had known it would be. But for some
reason she felt close to him tonight, and Deanna wondered if maybe he was awake
as well, thinking as she was of times past. She sighed and turned in bed. Of
course he wasn’t. Why would he be? He was the one who had given up on them,
and she had no reason to think that he wasn’t happy with his life, even if he
had said that he would never be complete without her. But that had been two
years ago, and lives had been known to change in much less time than that.
“If only we had been honest with each other … if only …”
But she could not afford to go down that road again, she reminded
herself. It was thoughts like those
that had made her life onboard the Enterprise ultimately unbearable. Everything
on the ship had reminded her of Will, of their friendship and confidence that
had stemmed from the love they shared.
They had loved each other dearly, even if the exact words had not
actually been spoken in years, and the pain of knowing that he had lost faith in
that love, in the bond they shared, was as present now as it had been then. She
had come to terms with it, or so she did her best to convince herself, but
Deanna knew that Will Riker would never vanish from her heart or mind
completely. The loss of his presence in her life had left a void that was yet to
be filled, and she missed him.
She missed him so much.
Sarah Riker looked at her husband from across the breakfast table. He was
preoccupied with some data on the padd next to him, and she found herself
thinking that it might as well have been a stranger in front of her. They rarely
talked anymore about anything important, about their dreams and hopes, and he
never held her anymore, let alone made love to her. She realized that her
reluctance to let him touch her was as frustrating to him as his lack of any
real attention was to her, and she knew it was irrational to wish for him to
reach out to her, when she had shun away from him for so long.
“Will?” She spoke softly, and he nodded, looking up at her. “We
need to talk.”
He cringed inwardly at the look of dejection in her eyes. She had
beautiful eyes, but they were never as vibrant as they had been when he had
first fallen in love with her. Will sighed, remembering. He still loved her, and
she was right. They did have to resolve this.
“I know.” He reached for
her hand, and she smiled briefly when she placed her hand on top of his. Will
smiled as well, knowing that he had to do whatever he could to make this work.
He had not taken his vows lightly on their wedding day, and he did not take them
“I love you,” she said, for the first time in days, weeks even, and
she saw his eyes grow a darker shade of blue before he got up from his chair,
went around the table and brought her into a tight embrace. Sarah didn’t
object this time, she let herself enjoy having his arms around her again, but
even as their lips met softly, and Will let his warmth surround her, was she
aware that he had not told her he loved her, too.
“Sarah?” Will drew back
a little, brushing a strand of hair away from her forehead. “You’re so
tense.” She only nodded, and he let go of her silently. “Let’s just finish
“Will,” she said, letting a hand run affectionately down his cheek.
“We promised each other to always be honest, didn’t we?”
“Yes.” Riker looked at her seriously. “We did. What are you
“Nothing. It’s just that we both know that lately we haven’t been
… and I …” She swallowed painfully. This wasn’t easy at all. What if he
didn’t react the way she wanted him to?
“Talk to me.” He brought her close again, letting her rest against
his shoulder. “I never meant for it to be like this.”
“I know you didn’t. Neither of us did. But I miss you, Will.”
His pain was evident, and even if she shouldn’t be, Sarah was happy to
see it. It meant that he did still care, about their marriage, about her. She
let her hands run through his hair, taking in the sensation of him. They had not
been this close in quite a while, and she wanted to savor it.
“We will work it out,” he promised her. “We will.” He kissed her
again and felt guilty that he couldn’t give this woman all that she deserved.
“Is that what you want?”
“Of course it is,” he said, but she shook her head and detangled
herself from his embrace as she went to clear the table. Will stopped her
“Don’t do that,” she said. “Don’t make our problems out to be
only my fault. That’s not fair, when you can’t seem to let go of the
past.” She looked him straight in the eyes.
“I can. I have,” Will objected. “I don’t know why you have to
keep bringing that up.” He was getting frustrated, and she sighed. It was
always the same, and they never appeared to be able to get past the point of his
past relationships. “It has been over for a long time, you know that.”
“No, I don’t, Will. That’s just it.” Sarah moved away from him,
wanting to put some distance between the two of them as she continued. “If
you’re really serious about saving our marriage, I want you to ---”
“What?” he asked, softly, urging her to continue and walked to stand
in front of her. She was a beautiful woman, intelligent, charming. She was
everything he could ever want, except … He cursed himself for even thinking it
and vowed that whatever it was his wife wanted of him, he would do it. He owed
to her and to himself to focus on what he had instead of remembering what he had
“I want us to go for counseling.” He watched his reaction, and Will
hoped he looked less affected than he felt. Counseling. He had not seen that one
coming, although he probably should have. Will sighed inwardly. More missed
“Sarah ---“ He began, but she cut him off immediately.
“No, Will. I’m serious about this. If you want to save our marriage,
you will go to counseling with me. Otherwise, we are through.”
She locked eyes with him, and suddenly it dawned on her why he had that
distant look in his eyes again. Deanna Troi. She was a counselor, he had told
her that much.
Riker saw the fire in her
eyes, realizing that she had probably put two and two together. She backed away
when he tried to touch her.
“Why do we even bother?” she asked him. “Why, Will? When I am so
clearly not the woman you want?” Sarah refused to cry even if she felt like
her heart had been ripped out of her chest. “Just go to her,” she said, and
Will found himself wishing that she would yell and scream instead of regarding
him so coldly. “I don’t care what you do anymore as long as you get out of
my sight. Right now.”
“Sarah, listen to me,” he asked. “I’m not going anywhere. I do
want it to work for us.” He took in a deep breath. “If you want us to get
counseling, we will. There are no other women. Okay? None. They are in the
“Except one,” she shot back at him. “She is very much a part of the
present, our present. How do you think that makes me feel?”
“Terrible,” he acknowledged. “I know that, and I’m sorry. But my
relationship with Deanna was over long before I met you.”
“You don’t even believe that yourself,” she retorted, and he was
silent for a second. “See? Get out, Riker! I may love you, but I am not about
to stay married to a man who wishes he were somewhere else when he lies down
next to me at night.”
“It’s not like that,” Will said. “It isn’t. Yes, she means very
much to me, but I haven’t seen her in years, haven’t even talked to her.
You’re the one I married, Sarah. You’re the one I spend my days and nights
with, and I want you to be happy.”
“But are you happy?” she cornered him. “You just don’t get it, do
you? I can’t be happy if I go around wondering if you think about her all the
time! Your words are not enough anymore, Will. I need more than that. The
question is whether you can give it to me?”
“I will go to counseling with you,” he said. “I will do whatever it
takes to make you trust me again.” She nodded, and he continued, a hint of
hope in his voice. “Does that mean you’re not kicking me out just yet?” He
smiled slightly, and she threw him a glance as he went to clear the table.
“Not just yet,” she whispered behind him and he turned to her. She
was still angry, and if Will was honest with himself, he knew that she had every
reason to. “Do you realize something?” she continued, and he waited. “You
never tell me you love me anymore.”
“I thought words were not important to you?”
“You are this close to being
slapped upside the head!”
He threw his hands defensively up in the air. “Sorry! I’m sorry. Come
She stayed where she was, and he went to her, brought her close to him
and whispered the words she wanted to hear against her lips. Sarah relaxed
against him and locked her hands behind his neck.
“You can’t charm your way out of this,” she warned. “Understood,
“Understood,” he answered, and then continued. “Sarah?”
“I have to go. I wish I … but I have to.”
“I know,” Sarah said. “Go ahead.”
Will let his lips caress hers lightly before releasing her. Sarah watched
him go and wondered if things were really going to change, or if Will’s
attachment to Deanna Troi ran deeper than he was letting on?
He hadn’t told her much, but she had seen them on the Enterprise;
witnessed their closeness. They had some sort of connection that she couldn’t
grasp the magnitude of, and she knew that she had to know, no matter what it
would mean for her and Will.
She had to know what Imzadi was … what it meant.
Deanna stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in a towel and let a
hairbrush run through her dark curls. She was absentminded, lost in memories as
she had been all day. It was strange, really, how you can know someone isn’t
right for you, and still feel empty without them. Deanna put down the hairbrush
and flipped open her jewelry box.
The ring sparkled even in the dim light of her bedroom. It was beautiful,
and she had been so surprised when Jared had given it to her. Jared. She closed
her eyes briefly, remembered the man she had met upon returning to Betazed after
her departure from the ship. She had gone home to visit her mother and to enjoy
the tranquility of the beautiful planet, hoping that it would help her heal. It
had not been her intention to embark on any kind of relationship, let alone a
romance. But then Jared Ryan had appeared, as if out of nowhere.
Deanna walked to her bed, sitting down on its edge. Sadness flashed
across her soft, delicate features, momentarily darkening them. Jared had been a
good man, she thought, and the more she thought about it, the more sleepless
nights she spent alone in this apartment, the more she wondered if she had made
the right decision when she ended their marriage.
Marriage … Deanna smiled slightly. She had actually accepted his
proposal that day on the beach, one year to the day they had met each other at a
social function at her mother’s house. He had been so caring, so
understanding, and she had needed it, needed him. He was a good man, and he had
brought fun and excitement back into her life. Being with Jared had made her
feel that she was a woman again, and whenever he had held her, he had actually
succeeded in making her thoughts drift away from Will Riker, at least for a
while. For that alone she had loved him, and he had understood the pain she was
Being a Betazoid he knew of the Imzadi bond, and he accepted that Will
would always be a part of her. He had not tried to compete with it, but he had
wowed that he would make her happy. He had kept that promise, but it hadn’t
taken them long to realize that it wasn’t enough. Although she cared for him
deeply, loved him even, her affection for him could not be compared to the
feelings she continued to harbor for Riker, and, in the end, it had proven too
big an obstacle. They had parted on friendly terms, however, and Deanna was
grateful for the memories and happiness they had shared, however short-lived it
had turned out to be.
She held the ring between two fingers for a moment before rising and
letting it slip back into the jewelry box, closing the lid on it softly before
returning to the bed and turning down the covers.
“Be happy,” Jared had said, kissing her softly on the day she had
left him for the last time. It was the exact words she had offered to Will, when
they had said their goodbyes. It was ironic, in a way. Deanna shook herself out
of the daze of self-pity that seemed to have enveloped her. She was not a weak
person; she had always possessed an inner strength, which had helped her through
the trials of her own life as well as aided her in fulfilling the
responsibilities of her profession. She was not about to change that. After all,
her clients depended on her, and her own problems could wait. It wasn’t like
she was depressed. She was just a little sad on occasion. It was allowed,
especially when she was destined for another lonely night with only her private
thoughts to keep her company. Will would probably have labeled it a ‘very
human reaction’ had he known.
‘I wonder if he’s happy?’
Slipping under the covers, this was her last thought before she was
overtaken by the blessings of sleep, unaware that a few miles away, Will Riker
was thinking the exact same thing as he held his sleeping wife close, listening
to her breathing slowing down.
Sarah stirred, and he kissed her forehead softly. She smiled, opening her
eyes slowly. He smiled back at her, taking in a deep breath when she let her
lips caress his chest, much in the way Deanna used to do so long ago …
‘Damn it, Riker,’ he scowled at himself. “You are in bed with your
wife, and all you can think about is another woman. You really are losing it,
aren’t you?” He shook himself out of it quickly, relishing in Sarah’s
touch, and returning her reawakened passion.
“Mm,” she whispered against his lips as he deepened the kiss.
“Nice.” Sarah felt her heart leap at his broad grin.
“Nice?” Will replied. “Just nice?” Her laughter was soft, and he
couldn’t help but kiss her again. She hadn’t laughed like that in a while.
It was no small relief to Will to hear it. In fact, this entire night had been a
relief, in more ways than one. “Let’s see what we can do to improve that,
hmm?” She complied smilingly, and Will lost himself in her, intent on banning
any other thought from his mind. It wasn’t only for Sarah’s sake, either.
Riker was certain that if he didn’t manage to let go of the images of Deanna,
he was going to lose his mind.
“Will?” Sarah whispered later, when their passions had subsided
again, and she rested his head on his chest, teasingly playing with the hairs on
his chest. “Are you sleeping?”
“No,” he answered, his eyes still closed. She raised her head,
silently savoring the sight of him. “What?” He opened his eyes, finding her
looking down at him.
“Nothing,” she said, finding that she did not remember what she had
wanted to say. She wondered if he knew what he did to her? If he was aware that
just looking into those blue could take her breath away? Somehow she didn’t
think so. She settled into his
embrace, and Will’s arms tightened around her slender form. “Good night,”
Sarah said, the smile never leaving her lips as she drifted off to sleep.
“Good night,” Will whispered to her softly, closing his eyes as he
offered the same words mentally to another woman, hoping against hope, as well
as his better judgment, that she was still able to hear him.
Deanna sat up in her bed, simultaneously confused and elated as she heard
a very faint, but still distinct whisper in her mind. Will. It was Will. He was
sending to her … She listened intensely, focused all her energy on making out
what it was that he was trying to pass on to her. Then a smile spread slowly
across her lips, and she felt her heart stop briefly before beating faster than
it had in a long time.
Sarah was about to begin her lecture at Starfleet Medical when she
spotted a beautiful brunette at the door. She gave a friendly smile and noted
the woman’s apprehension, but she wrote it off as mere nervousness. She did
not remember seeing the woman before and assumed she was a new doctor, or just
one of the several who used to politely stay away from her lectures. Sarah
smiled. Some doctors felt that psychology was for counselors, not medical
officers. They were certainly entitled to their opinions, as she usually said,
but the truth was that not all starships had a counselor onboard, and that was
why she was there to introduce some basics of psychology to the assembled men
She stole a glance at Will, who had decided to sit in for the first time.
He was really trying, Sarah thought. These last weeks had been happy ones, and
she recognized his old flirtatious ways. They were able to relax in each
other’s company again, and she was relieved and happy at the return of the
passion he had once felt for her, even if she did feel that he was holding
something back. There was something he wasn’t sharing with her. But Sarah was
optimistic that when they began the counseling sessions in a few days those
hidden secrets of his would be uncovered. She looked away from Will, down at her
notes and took in a deep breath before introducing herself to her audience.
Will watched and listened in silence as his wife began to present her
paper. To think that he had ended up being a doctor’s husband, after all …
it seemed a twist of fate that he would let go of one only to promise to share
his life with another.
All right, so Deanna was a counselor, and it wasn’t exactly the same as
the research that Sarah worked on, but with the two women’s shared interest in
the secrets of the mind and all that, it was close enough. Close enough for
certain people to wonder if the similarities between the two had caused him to
rush into a union with Sarah at a time where he had been convinced that Deanna
had not only closed the book on the two of them for good, but also that she had
moved on with someone else.
He had told Beverly to let it go, when she had first brought it up during
one of their talks, just as he had politely asked that his former superior
officer please mind his own business when Picard had proposed it during the
Rikers last visit on the Enterprise. It had been six months ago now, and Will
recalled his surprise when he had found that Deanna had resigned her position on
Beverly would not tell him anything except that Troi had returned to her
homeworld, and Will had come to his own conclusion: she had left the ship to
settle down on Betazed, and for all he knew she was married and raising a family
by now. She was probably carrying someone else’s baby … He felt the
frustration rise again and fought to keep it in check, while cursing himself for
the opportunities that he had let pass. It wasn’t fair. It just was not fair,
but he only had himself to blame. Deanna had been right. He should have known
that she felt the same as he, he should have understood, but he had been too
preoccupied to pay attention and take note of the signs, which, in retrospect,
appeared so clear. He had missed one too many opportunities, and now she was out
of his reach.
Deanna had decided to attend the lecture due to a recommendation from one
of her colleagues and because she was curious to hear more about Dr. Phillips’
theories. The last thing she has expected was to come face to face with the
woman Will had married.
But it was she; Deanna had recognized her immediately. Through some
stroke of luck, though, Sarah seemed to not remember her, and Deanna thanked the
gods for that. She found herself sensing Will’s presence before spotting him
among the listeners. The sight of him made everything come to a standstill for
the counselor. She froze briefly before experiencing a mix of heat and cold flow
over her. She was positive that her feelings would be apparent in her face and
glanced quickly at Sarah. Fortunately, she appeared not to notice, and
Deanna’s eyes wandered back to where Will sat.
He had his back to her, but that didn’t prevent Deanna from imagining
those warm, blue eyes, his handsome face, and the broad shoulders and chest,
against which she had so often rested and found comfort in the past. Finding
herself helpless to resist, she opened up her mind and focused on sending to
him, hoping that the incident that had appeared several nights ago meant that he
was be able to sense her thoughts, still.
~ Will. ~
Riker jumped slightly in his seat, quickly masking his stunned surprise
when Sarah caught his eye. He hoped that his smile was enough to keep her from
suspecting that everything was not as it should be. It appeared to be the case,
and because Sarah returned her focus to her paper, she didn’t see the
expression of deep concentration on her husband’s face as he closed his eyes
and visualized Deanna’s face. She had whispered his name in her thoughts, he
was certain of it. But where was she? Was she really here, or was it just a very
vivid figment of his imagination? Will didn’t know, and he didn’t care,
either. The only thing he cared about was that he could hear her soft voice in
his mind again. Finally, after so long, he felt the velvet tones of her words
brush his mind and leave him with a feeling of calm he had not experienced since
the last time she had touched him. It was an utterly inexplicable feeling.
~ Deanna? ~
It took every ounce of his concentration and energy to respond, but in
that moment Will felt that he would gladly have given much more than that. He
waited, but there was no response, and he tried again, softly, almost pleading.
He wanted to hear her; he needed to be assured that it really wasn’t just his
mind playing tricks on him because he missed her so much.
Deanna sensed his conflicting emotions, but because of the time they had
spent apart she was not in tune with his emotions and reactions the way she had
once been, and due to the fact that her own feelings already clouded her
empathic sense, she misinterpreted his reaction to mean the opposite of what
Will had intended. Therefore, she silently rose from her chair and slipped out
of the auditorium before her colleagues would discover the tears glimmering in
her dark eyes.
Will turned in his seat in time to see her leave, but because she had her
back to him, the only connection he made was that this stranger had the same
beautiful hair as his Deanna. Quickly, he turned away and refocused his
attention on Sarah. She was the one he should be worrying about. After all,
Deanna was not his anymore, nor had she been for years prior to his relationship
with Sarah. He had no claim on her, even if they were still Imzadi, and even if
his love for her had never ceased, or diminished.
Suddenly, Riker was struck with an alarming thought. What if she was in
trouble? What if Deanna was in some sort of danger, somewhere, and she was
trying to reach him, but couldn’t? In his mind the thought grew along with the
fear, and Will knew that he had to find her. He had to do whatever he could to
make sure that Deanna was safe. The question now was where and how he should
Will had been unable to shake the thought of Deanna all day, and when
they had finished dinner, he had told Sarah that he had something to finish at
the office. Unfortunately, the solitude had done nothing to cease his doubts. He
had replayed the events of the morning over and over in his mind, trying to
figure out if it really was Deanna who had been in the auditorium earlier. He
hadn’t been able to come to any conclusion, and he told himself that even if
it had been her, even if she was safe and happy with her new job, it didn’t
explain why she would suddenly reach out to him after two years of silence. What
did it mean? He had no idea, but he knew that he had to find out.
Will leaned back in the chair, watching the night sky. Sarah had been
sleeping for a few hours, and he had been careful not to wake her when he had
gotten up, deciding that he might as well give up on sleeping altogether. The
only thing he could think of was Deanna’s voice in his mind, and the mix of
happiness and worry it evoked in him was quickly driving him insane. Riker
sighed, closed his eyes and, for the first time in years, allowed himself to
remember every moment he had spent with the beautiful dark eyed woman, who had
captured his heart the day he had first laid eyes on her. He opened his eyes to
see his wife turn in her sleep and walked to the bathroom. The water was cool
against his skin, and he watched his reflection in the mirror. He breathed a low
curse and decided that it was time for him to get a grip on his life. But he
realized that before he could move on, he had to know if Deanna was okay.
Otherwise the doubts would kill any chance he had of salvaging his marriage, and
he could not do that to Sarah, or to himself, for that matter. Will returned to
the bedroom and lay down next to the sleeping woman. She moved close to him, and
he lay awake listening to her breathing while memories of the past continued to
Dr. Beverly Crusher looked at the screen in front of her and let out a
soft sigh before offering her friend a reassuring smile. It had only been a few
days since she had been called upon to appease the worries of another of her
dear friends. Sometimes she really wished Will and Deanna would just stop
pretending that they belonged with anyone but each other - everyone knew they
were meant for each other, anyway. Of course she didn’t say that to Deanna
when she had confided in her about seeing Will in San Francisco, and she knew
better than to say it to Will now.
“Deanna is fine,” she promised. “She’s fine, Will. Last I heard
she was settling in at Starfleet Medical. You know that. I told you.”
“So, what you’re saying is that I should stop acting like an
irrational fool?” Riker offered a slight smile to Beverly over the vast
“I don’t remember saying that.” Beverly noticed the signs of
fatigue on Will’s face. “But now that you mention it, you might want to give
it a try. Stop worrying, Will, there’s no need.”
“Bev,” Riker begun, and Crusher nodded, waiting. “I don’t know
what to do.” She was surprised at the seriousness of his words, but it was
impossible for her not to believe that he was sincere.
“You told me to stay out of it, Commander.” There was a brief silence
between them before she continued. “I can’t make that decision for you. No
one can. But I do think it’s time that it is made.”
“Well, thank you, Doctor.” This time his smile was bright. “I see
you’ve been taking lessons from Deanna. That was quite a cryptic answer.”
“I know,” she joked. “I’m getting quite good at them, too.
Jean-Luc says I’m driving him crazy.” She watched as Riker’s smile turned
into that trademark grin.
“I bet,” he said, raising an eyebrow suggestively. “How is the
“Stop it.” Her smile took the edge of her retort. “The Captain is
fine. We’re all fine. But I would be better if I knew you two would patch
“Beverly,” he warned. “I don’t want to talk about that. I’m
just … worried, that’s all. We’re friends, and I want her to be safe.”
Crusher watched the resignation in his eyes as he went on. “But I guess
that’s really not my place anymore, is it? She leans on someone else now, just
as I have someone leaning on me … “ He sighed. “I better go. Sarah is
waiting.” He found it hard to articulate the last words. “We’re going for
counseling. Quite appropriate, isn’t it?”
“That’s one way of putting it, I suppose.” Crusher was unable to
hide her surprise. She wished that she could set him straight where Deanna’s
marriage was concerned, but she had promised her friend not to tell, and Deanna
had been quite adamant in her request, so Beverly didn’t say anything.
“Will?” He nodded. “Take care, and get some sleep. You look terrible.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” he teased, admitting to himself that Deanna
wasn’t the only one he missed. He missed everyone from his years on the
Enterprise. Hell, he missed the ship. He was no more fit to be stationed planet
side now than he had been twenty years ago. But he had made a promise to Sarah
that they stay on Earth for a few years, until she had finished her current
research project, and then she would go with him, wherever he wanted to go.
Riker returned Crusher’s smile and her goodbyes before ending the
For a minute he just sat there in silence, looking around his office
before getting up and out. It was a nice office, and he had a comfortable job.
Which was the problem. Will Riker didn’t go for ‘comfortable’ - he wanted
to feel the adrenalin pumping through his veins. He wanted adventure, danger
even. But his life had changed, which meant that his priorities had to as well,
no matter what he might think about it.
Sarah looked up as Will walked through the door of the café where they
had decided to meet for lunch before going to their first appointment with the
counselor. She smiled and returned his light kiss, before he flipped the chair
around and straddled it.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes,” he promised and reached out for her hand. She let him. “I
said I would, didn’t I?”
“I just don’t want it to be for my sake,” she objected. “I need
you to want this for both our sakes, Will.”
“I know,” he replied. “I don’t want a divorce, Sarah, but the
things that have gone wrong with us aren’t going to be changed in a day, in a
few weeks, or even months. Which is why this counseling may be a good idea.”
He squeezed her hand lightly before waving for a waiter and then continuing.
“I can’t promise you more than I have already.”
“I know, and you have been trying. We both have. I’m not blaming you
---” She trailed off as the waiter appeared, and they placed their order. When
he was gone, she spoke again. “ --- I just needed to know that I won’t be
alone in there today.”
“You’re not alone,” he said. She smiled, and Will leaned in to let
a finger run down her cheek, reminding himself that this beautiful, caring woman
actually loved him. She deserved that he at least make an effort, no matter how
nervous he was that these counseling sessions would reveal something that would
make their problems even more difficult to overcome.
“Will?” She called him back softly. “Are you all right?” He
nodded reassuringly and was relieved when their food arrived, and they moved on
to talk about different, lighter topics. He didn’t want to get into something
that he had no idea how to finish.
The couple enjoyed their meal, and when they left the café together Will
and Sarah was both optimistic about the upcoming session.
“Do you know him?” Will asked as they made their way to the
counselor’s office. Sarah shook her head and walked into the secretary’s
office first. The young woman smiled her greeting and let them know that it
would be okay for them to go in. Will read the name on the door before knocking
softly. There was no response, and he pushed the door open, making sure that
Sarah was right behind him as he proceeded cautiously into the office after an
acknowledging nod from the secretary.
The counselor was nowhere to be seen, and Will and Sarah stayed right
inside the doorway. “Are you sure that this is the right guy?”
“Of course I am. Relax, Will. He won’t hurt you.” Sarah smiled, as
she called out to make the counselor aware of their presence. “Doctor Ryan?”
Deanna had been in the next room when she heard Will call out her name,
and she had been listening in on his and Sarah's conversation, unable to move or
breathe. She had frozen to the spot upon hearing his voice, and she knew that
her shock was written all over her face. She had taken over this appointment
from a colleague, not realizing whom she would be counseling. Will. He was right
here, just a few feet away … Her heart was pounding, and she closed her eyes.
Sarah called out for her again, and the truth hit Deanna like a jolt of
lightning: Will might be here, but he wasn’t alone, and he didn’t come to
see her. He didn’t even know that she was here. He and Sarah had come to see
Dr. Ryan, and he had no idea that she was the one who would counsel them. Deanna
swallowed painfully. It was a cruel irony, and she couldn’t imagine Will’s
reaction when he found out. But she couldn’t keep stalling, either.
“I’m sorry to have kept
you waiting.” She held her head up high as she entered her office and extended
a hand to Sarah, being careful not to look at Will. It didn’t make any
difference. She didn’t need to see his expression to know how he was feeling,
and Deanna acknowledged that being empathic wasn’t always a blessing,
especially when the one hurting was the man she had loved her entire adult life.
“I’m Doctor Ryan.”
Will was stunned. Deanna. She was their counselor. He watched as the two
women shook hands. Apparently, Sarah did not recognize the doctor in front of
her. Maybe it was because Deanna had slightly shorter hair now that when she was
on the Enterprise, he didn’t know. All he knew was that to him she was as
beautiful as she had ever been. Perhaps even more so, he thought as he masked
his astonishment and closed his hand around hers.
“De … Dr. Ryan,” he greeted and lost every sense of time when her
eyes met his. God, he had missed her, everything about her, and here she was; so
close and yet so far away. He smiled slightly at the cliché and noticed now her
eyes grew even darker than they already were.
“Welcome, Mr. Riker. Please sit down.” Her hand slipped out of his,
and his heart crumbled at the feeling of loss that gripped him. His beautiful
Deanna was safe, and Will was relieved beyond explanation, but she was not the
woman he had left behind. She was someone else’s wife - another man held her
and kissed her … another man woke up every morning blessed with her presence,
her smile …
Deanna watched Will as he took his place next to his wife. She watched
their intertwined hands and tried to steady herself. Distance, she told herself.
She needed to distance herself from the situation, or she wouldn’t be able to
keep her emotions hidden, and she couldn’t risk that. Her job was to help, and
she would. Her eyes moved to Will again, and she drank in his presence, letting
the warmth in his eyes fill up the void in her soul, even if she was aware that
it wasn’t meant for her.
“This is not easy, Doctor,” said Sarah, causing Deanna to tear her
eyes from Will’s and offer a supportive smile to Sarah.
“I understand, but coming here is the first step, and I am confident
that if you take time to talk things through …” The words felt much too big
in her mouth, and Deanna struggled to sound as neutral as possible. “Is there
something you would like to tell your husband, or ask him, that you haven’t
been able to?”
“Will …” Sarah turned to face him, and Riker felt like screaming.
This was surreal. There were certainly things he wanted to say, but he wanted to
say them to Deanna. He had to talk to her. “There is something that I have
wanted to ask you for a while.” He nodded and had never felt as torn as he did
in that moment. The last thing he wanted was to hurt Sarah. Riker sighed.
“Will, I need to know …” Sarah was cut of by the sound of the
secretary’s voice through the intercom system.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt, Doctor,” she said, and Deanna looked at
both Will and Sarah apologetically. “But Mr. Ryan is here to see you.”
“Jared?” Deanna asked, a surprised look on her face. “Tell him
I’m with patients, please.” She smiled briefly. “I’ll be with him
“Yes, Doctor,” came the reply, but Will didn’t hear it. The only
thing he could focus on was the fact that Deanna’s husband was on the opposite
side of the door waiting for her, and that she was smiling at the mere mention
“I’m very sorry.” Deanna gestured toward Sarah. “Please
continue.” Sarah nodded and caught Will’s eye as she spoke again.
“I need to know what Imzadi is,” she said, silently. “What does it
mean to you?” Sarah swallowed hard, relieved to have finally voiced the
concern, which had been on her mind for so long. Will and Deanna, on the other
hand, were both having trouble breathing. Deanna focused her attention solely on
Sarah, finding it impossible to look at Will, but she wasn’t able to block out
“Sarah,” Will said finally. “I … it’s complicated.” Deanna
listened, and Will caught her eye briefly. She didn’t flinch, and Riker took
her lack of reaction to mean that she had indeed moved on. Whatever her calling
out for him had meant, it obviously didn’t matter anymore. He let a finger
caress wife’s cheek, soothing the pain he recognized in her eyes. Her eyes
were a bright color, a slightly darker shade of blue from his own, and so
different from Deanna’s onyx ones.
“I realize as much,” Sarah answered. “But if it really is in the
past, you should be able to tell me!” The
anger in her voice was more than Will could take. It wasn’t that he didn’t
understand that she wanted to know; it was just that this was exactly what he
had been afraid would happen. It would have been difficult to talk about with
anyone, but now that Deanna was actually right here, it was impossible.
“It is in the past,” he
said, knowing that she would no longer be satisfied with that. He would have to
say something. Will felt trapped, out of control with the situation, and he
hated it. He hated that he was even here in the first place. If he had just
admitted that he still loved Deanna, instead of letting his pride get the better
of him, maybe there would still have been a chance for them. Instead, here they
were - she was his marriage counselor, and he was going out of his mind
wondering what kind of man he was, her husband … what kind of name was
‘Jared,’ anyway? Riker looked at Deanna again before finally offering Sarah
the answer she wanted, or at least part of it. He only hoped it would prove to
be enough. This wasn’t a conversation he wished having to revisit. “Imzadi
means ‘beloved,’ ‘soulmates,’” he explained, adding, almost as an
afterthought. “At least that’s what I thought.”
“What do you mean, ‘at least that’s what you thought’?” she
asked, and Deanna wondered the same thing, especially because he now avoided eye
“Nothing,” Riker answered, getting slightly defensive and thinking
what the hell he had ever done to deserve this. All he had tried to do was move
on with his life - why did it have to be so hard … and why did he have to love
Deanna so much? Sarah reached up to take Will’s hand, removing it from her
face but still holding it in hers. Deanna watched in silence, and her heartbeat
quickened as she imagined that it was her hand in Will’s, her hand that
caressed his face and tracing his lips … She could not withhold a soft sigh at
the feelings the thought stirred up.
“Doctor Ryan, is everything all right?” Sarah looked at her
worryingly, and both Will and Deanna wondered if she would regard her with the
same sympathy if she remembered who she was. It wasn’t likely.
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine.” Deanna smiled. “I’m glad you managed to
communicate,” she continued in her best ‘counselor’ voice. Will’s wry
smile did not escape her attention, and her own smile widened a little. He
really did know her too well. Sarah was more right than she thought. This was
not going to be easy at all. But Will was in love with this woman, and she
sensed his desire to resolve their problems, so all she could do was try to
help. No matter how much it hurt, and no matter how much she still loved him.
“I’m afraid we’re out of time for today.” She rose from her chair, and
Will noted how graceful she had acted through it all. It was one of the things
he had always admired in her. He offered Sarah his hand, and she took it, saying
her goodbyes before slipping out of the room to schedule a new appointment with
Will stayed behind, not wanting to leave and desperately trying to find a
way to prolong the moment. Deanna and he stood silently in front of each other,
both wanting to say something but none of them knowing the words that would
express what they felt. So they said nothing. Instead, he reached for her hand
and let his lips brush softly over her skin. The feeling was incredible to both
of them, and Deanna held her breath when he moved closer to cup her face in his
hands the way he had done so many times before.
“Will …” The sound of his name on her lips was wonderful, and he
smiled before he caught a slight movement out of the corner of an eye and
withdrew from her abruptly. No one was there, when he looked, but the moment had
passed, and he stepped away.
“I hope he makes you happy,” he whispered, remembering that her
husband was waiting. She nodded, and when he turned to leave Sarah had appeared
in the doorway. She wasn’t alone. Will nodded politely to the man he figured
was Jared Ryan. He felt like he had been kicked in the stomach. For some reason
the fact that Deanna had married a Betazoid highlighted every insecurity he had
ever had about their relationship, and suddenly Riker felt very inadequate.
Deanna sensed the change in him as he went to Sarah, and Jared stepped into the
office, dropping an affectionate kiss on her cheek. She reached out to Will with
her mind, unable to stop herself, and she was graced with a shadow of a smile as
he disappeared out of sight, and she turned to face her ex-husband, wanting to
find out the reason he had turned up so suddenly and without a word in advance.
Before she had a chance to form the question, Jared spread out his arms
to her, and Deanna rested in his embrace, thankful to be able to let down her
guard and let her emotions flow to the surface.
~ It’s okay, Deanna. ~ Jared soothed her mentally, and she withdrew a
little to look up at him. He smiled, and Deanna realized that she didn’t have
to tell him anything. He already knew. “He feels strongly for you as well,”
he said, but she silently shook her head.
“He’s determined,” she countered, backing away from Jared. “He
doesn’t want his marriage to end. He is in love with her …”
“That may be true,” he agreed. “But, Deanna, I saw the way he
looked at you, and the way he looked at me. He doesn’t love her the way he
loves you, and he never will. Just as you couldn’t love me the way you love
“Jared, I did love you,”
she said. He only smiled and led her to the couch. She sat down before repeating
what she had just said.
“I know you did. But I also know that no one can replace Will Riker in
your life. Deanna …” He reached for her hand as he continued. “You need to
“No,” she argued. “I can’t do that, Jared. I won’t.” Deanna
rose and walked to her desk. “What are you doing here?”
“I am here as a representative of Betazed,” he answered. “Your
mother asked me to go in her place.” Deanna looked up at his words, worry
shining in her eyes. Jared calmed her down quickly. “She’s fine,” he
promised. “But she’s worried about you, and so am I, so when she asked me to
“I don’t need you looking out for me!” she interjected. “This is
so typical. Look, I have patients waiting.”
“I didn’t come here to argue with you.” Jared got up from the couch
and went to stand behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders. “I care
about you, Deanna, and I know you. Maybe not as well as Will Riker does, but I
do know you, and I can see through those shields that you’ve put up.” Deanna
turned around to face him. “Tell him. Pride is one thing, but stubbornness is
“Jared, I’m not stubborn … okay, so maybe I am,” she allowed at
his amused look. “But that’s not the point. Will and Sarah came to me for
help. What kind of counselor would I be …
I couldn’t do that. “ Deanna sighed. “It’s too late for Will and I. I
just have to accept that.”
“Deanna, you are one of the best counselors I have met, and by far the
most incredible woman I will ever know, but sometimes you need to put yourself
first.” He held up a hand in the air to stop the protest that he knew would be
sure to follow. “All I’m saying is that you should focus on your happiness
for once, instead of everyone else’s.”
“Will isn’t just anyone,” Deanna objected and sighed audibly,
conceding that that was exactly the point Jared had wanted to make. “All
right, maybe you’re right. I will talk to him.” She smiled, and Jared knew
that he would treasure the sight of it forever. She was exquisite. How Will
Riker had ever been able to stay away from her, he would never understand.
“What? You got that look.”
‘What look?” he asked, kissing her forehead softly. “I just
remembered how beautiful you are.” He smiled, when she blushed lightly. It was
a rare sight, and it just made her even more beautiful. “I should go, let you
work.” Deanna watched as he went to the door. He really was a wonderful man.
“Thank you,” he smiled. “Does that mean that you will accompany me to the
dinner at the Embassy tomorrow night?” He paused briefly. “For old times
“For old times sake,” she agreed, and he left. Deanna fell down in
her chair and took in a deep breath to clear her mind. It had been quite a day,
so far. She glanced at the padd with Will and Sarah’s data on it, adding a few
sentences. But she had trouble concentrating. The brief moment she and Will had
shared preoccupied her thoughts, and she wondered if Will might actually still
love her, just as Jared had suggested? For an instant she had felt the distance
between them subside, and when he had touched her, Deanna had felt a spark of
the connection that had existed between them for so long, and it had been
amazing, even if it had been brief.
“Doctor Ryan, your patient is here.” Her secretary disrupted her
thoughts, and Deanna quickly composed herself. She had a job to do, and she had
to focus on that instead of on Will, at least for right now.
She went over to the door and opened it silently.
Will had walked with Sarah to her office, promising that he would pick
her up when her lectures were over. None of them had felt like talking, and Will
had been walking around the city for the last twenty minutes, trying to sort out
his thoughts. He had not been able to, so he had decided that there was only one
thing to do. He had to go back, had to see her again. It didn’t matter if he
knew it was the last place he ought to be, and that it would ultimately make
matters worse. He needed her, and he couldn’t deny it any longer.
So here he was, waiting for her to open the door and let him in. Riker
looked at his wedding band, remembering the day Sarah had slipped it on his
finger. He also remembered that he and Deanna’s eyes had met across the room
before she had turned her attention to the man she had brought with her to the
ceremony, and he had focused on Sarah. It was the last time Deanna had looked at
him like that, until today when he had held her face in his hands, and she had
made him feel like they were the only two people in the Universe.
“I love you, Imzadi,” he whispered, speaking to the image of her that
he saw as he closed his eyes.
“Will?” Deanna stared at him while trying to comprehend the words she
had just overhead him say. Will opened his eyes and looked at her.
“Deanna,” he said, shocked to see her there and uncertain of how much
she had heard. “I didn’t think that you
- I’m sorry, I …”
“If you’re going to tell me that you didn’t mean the words you just
said …” Her eyes met his, and Will was the one who eventually had to look
away. She took his breath away.
“I wasn’t,” he replied. “I can’t say that, Deanna, and you know
it just as well as I do.” He followed her into the office, and Deanna closed
the door, resting her head against it. Will went to her, gently turning her
around and enveloping her in his arms.
“We shouldn’t,” she whispered but was unable to resist the warmth
of his embrace and ultimately relaxed against his chest. “Will …”
“Yes,” he said, his emotions evident in his voice. “I just want to
hold you for a moment. Just let me hold you.”
She didn’t answer, and they just stood there, each feeling the essence
of the other fill up the emptiness in their hearts.
She had spent countless hours imagining this, remembering how it felt to
be in his arms, but no memory compared to this, and nothing could have prepared
Deanna for the rush of feelings that came over her. Coupled with the emotions
she sensed from Will, the only word that seemed adequate to describe it was
"Will," she said softly and withdrew a little from the embrace
to look up at him. He tightened his arms around her, and she smiled.
"Yes?" He returned the smile, and they stood there silent once
more, until Riker let go of her gently. She was free to move away if she wanted
to, but she didn’t; she stayed inside the circle of his arms. "How are we
supposed to get through this, Deanna?" he asked, willing her to provide
answers she didn’t have. "How am I supposed to sit here and work through
the problems in my marriage … " He trailed off, sighing, and she put a
hand on his arm in comfort. The gesture was one she had offered many times
before, and they both seemed to remember it as their eyes locked briefly.
However complicated their lives might have been over the years, they had always
had their friendship, and they had leaned on each other for support and solace
more times than any of them cared to remember.
"We will," she promised him, feeling her heart twinge.
"You and Sarah will be fine, Will." She moved away a little, finding
that she could no longer stand to be this close to him. "I’m proud of
"Don’t say that." He closed his eyes and turned away from
her. Her hand rested against his chin when she turned his face and forced him to
look at her.
"I am," she maintained. "The fact that you came here shows
how committed you are ---"
"Deanna, I can’t talk about this with you," he interjected.
"I just can’t." He took a step back, letting a hand run through his
hair. "This isn’t going to work. Today was hard enough - what happens
when she …" He took in a deep breath before finishing the sentence.
"What happens when she realizes who you are? How the ---"
"Calm down, Will," she asked. "Anger is not going to solve
anything." He agreed silently and took a seat at the couch.
"This is insane. Can’t you see that? I can’t sit here and
discuss these things with you. Especially not after what I just said."
"Will, listen to me. I know this is the last thing any of us
suspected, and of course it will be hard, but we can do it." Will felt like
he wanted to grab her when she looked at him with those dark eyes. She didn’t
understand, and he wondered how she couldn’t know.
"How?" he challenged her, and Deanna cringed. "How do you
propose I tell my wife that the reason I can’t give her what she wants, what
she deserves, is because I keep thinking how everything could have been so much
different if I had just told you that I still love you?” Deanna sensed how he
battled with his temper. She wanted to reach out to him, but she knew that that
would be the last thing he would want right now, so she did nothing.
"Will, that isn’t ---" She began, but he cut her off quickly
as he got up and started pacing the floor.
"What? It isn’t the point? Then what is?" He stopped suddenly
and caught her eye. "What is the point, Counselor?"
"She loves you so much, Will, and you ---" Deanna found that
she had difficulty forming the words. It hurt to even think about it, and having
to admit it only made the pain worse. "You love her too, otherwise you
would ever have agreed to come here, and you would never have given up your
dreams of your own command."
"Who said I did?" He looked away from her. "Look, I should
go. If you insist on continuing this … whatever it is … I guess I will have
to live with it, but --- Deanna, please, I can’t do this with you. If you ever
loved me …" He never finished the sentence, and he was in such a hurry to
get out of the office that he didn’t see how she fought to keep her emotions
"How come you didn’t tell me?" Sarah turned to Will as they
finished their meal. He looked up as a thousand explanations ran through his
mind in a matter of seconds. She had been silent all evening and reluctant to
discuss the counseling session, so he had been wondering if she had remembered
about Deanna and when she would tell him. Now it seemed the wait was over, and
Riker had no idea how to respond to her questions or the accusations that might
"Told you what?"
"About the reception at the Betazed embassy tomorrow night,"
she said, and Will was grateful for his poker face, because that was the last
thing he had expected her to say. "I just heard about it from a colleague
earlier." She paused briefly. "You are going, right?"
"Yes, I am. It’s expected, but I knew that you are going away for
that symposium, so I didn’t want to mention it."
"Well, all right, but won’t it be awkward going alone? I mean
…" She stopped herself. "Will, please tell me, you aren’t going
there to see her."
"I’m not," he said, truthfully. "I hadn’t even
considered that. Come on, Sarah, it’s an official dinner." He rose and
went in the direction of the bathroom. Seconds later she heard the sonic shower,
and a faint memory of the two of them in there together brought a smile to her
face. This would be her last night home in a week. Maybe she should give him a
little something to remember her by, something that would remind them both not
only of what had been, but also of what could be again, if they worked on it.
"You seem shocked, Commander?" Sarah looked at his stunned
expression as she joined him in the shower. "Is something wrong?"
"No." He smiled at her. "Everything is fine. You just
surprised me." He returned her kisses almost without thinking.
"Good," she said, relaxing against him. "That was my
Will couldn’t help smiling, and he wondered if he was kidding himself?
Was he holding onto a memory that had no chance of ever being more than that?
Would he ever be able to recapture what he and Deanna had shared? Did she want
to? He wasn’t sure. The fact that she had let him hold her didn’t mean that
she wanted more, he had to remember that, and before he tried to figure out what
she wanted, or didn’t want, he knew that he had to figure out things for
himself. It wasn’t a question of loving Deanna, it never had been. He knew
that he would have loved her even if the bond between them hadn’t existed, and
his feelings for her now had little in common with those of the lieutenant he
was all those years ago. It wasn’t just about sex anymore, and it hadn’t
been for a long time. He needed her, needed to feel that special connection that
made just being in the same room with her extraordinary. He longed for the
friendship and confidence they had shared, knowing that without those aspects of
their relationship the bond would have never become as strong as it was. It may
have been created in the Jalara Jungle, but they had made it what it was now; it
had developed as they had grown closer, until toady when it was an undeniable
part of who they were, no matter if they were together or apart. Riker did his
best to clear his mind as he looked at Sarah and tried to disregard the fact
that even in their most intimate moments something would always be missing.
Deanna would always have a part of him that he could never share with anyone
else - not even his wife.
Deanna had been sitting in front of her mirror for what appeared to be
hours, absentmindedly brushing her hair. It wasn’t that she was too wired up
to concentrate - the soaking bath had taken care of her stress and eliminated
most of the thoughts of Will that had been on her mind since he had left her
office the second time. But she could not forget that he had said he still loved
her, or that he had called her Imzadi. Deanna couldn’t remember the last time
he had done that, and it would probably not have mattered so much if she
hadn’t sensed the emotions that coursed through him when he had spoken the
word that carried such significance for both of them. His feelings had been so
powerful, such a mix of love, pain, and guilt. She had felt the same way when
she had allowed herself to feel the warmth of his embrace.
‘If you ever loved me … ‘
How could he not know that she still did - that she needed to be close to
him? How could he not know how she ached for that part of her soul that he
carried with him? But he didn’t, and she couldn’t tell him. Not now ... not
Riker had never cared too much for these official functions, and tonight
he wished himself to be anywhere else. He had known she would be here, of
course, but Will had not anticipated that she would look so radiant, so
beautiful that he had felt his heart skip a beat when he had leaned in to kiss
her cheek, and now he could not seem to take his eyes off her. All through the
dinner he had watched her silently as she had engaged in conversation with the
diplomat seated next to her, and he had wanted nothing more than to be that man,
whoever he was. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t see the
pair of eyes so intensely focused on him, much in the same way that his own had
been focused on Deanna.
Now, thankfully, the evening was drawing to a close, and Will nodded
politely to Deanna before heading out of the building.
“Commander Riker?” Will turned to find Jared Ryan behind him. The man
was smiling, and Will nodded in acknowledgement. “We have yet to be properly
“I’m sure we both know who the other one is,” Will found himself
smiling slightly. There was no anger in Jared’s eyes, Riker noted, nothing to
suggest that he harbored any ill feelings. “It’s a pleasure, Mr. Ryan.”
The two men shook hands, and Deanna, who was standing in the doorway, unseen by
any of them, was struck by how men seemed to insist on acting like everything
was perfectly all right and natural, even when it was far from that. It was
endearing and frustrating all at the same time.
“Is it really, Mr. Riker? The first time we met you seemed to not think
so. In fact, you seemed very displeased with my presence then. Or am I
“I suppose not,” Will reluctantly allowed, trying to figure out what
it was Ryan wanted. “If you would excuse me, sir, I was just heading out.”
“I’m not trying to be rude, Will,” Jared said now, and Riker
couldn’t hide his surprise at the other man’s use of his first name - the
abbreviation of it no less, something that only his friends did. Ryan was not
among them, and so Will could only assume that Deanna had spoken of him to her
husband. “But I noticed how you didn’t take your eyes off Deanna tonight,
and I ---“
“Mr. Ryan,” Will interjected. “Deanna and I have been friends for
years, and I haven’t seen her in a very long time.” He wanted to smile, but
found that he wasn’t able to. “I apologize if I made you or she
uncomfortable. It was never my intention.”
“No apologies necessary,” Jared answered and paused for a moment
before continuing. “She’s right. You’re very good at hiding your
“It comes with years of prac ---“ Will abruptly stopped himself. He
hadn’t meant to say that at all. He swallowed hard, trying to find a way out
of this. When he saw Ryan’s smile and finally noticed Deanna standing in the
doorway, he knew there wasn’t one. “What I feel or don’t feel is not
important, Mr. Ryan,” he managed to say. “I want Deanna to be happy.
That’s all I ever wanted. She knows that.”
Jared watched the tall man in front of him, sensing the same pain from
Riker that he himself had felt when he had watched Deanna leave for the last
time. He also sensed Will’s sincerity and nodded.
“I understand,” he said. “I do, even more than you know.” He
extended his hand to Riker, and Will took it with a hint of hesitance. “Good
“Good night, sir.” Will managed a slight smile before looking past
Jared to the door. Deanna was no longer there, and he breathed deeply. This
didn’t escape Jared’s attention, and he found himself sympathizing with the
man. It wasn’t an altogether comfortable feeling, he thought, because even if
they were no longer married, he did still love Deanna as well. He knew the pain,
the frustration - the longing, even.
“She needs you,” Jared said, before heading back where he had come
from, throwing the last words over his shoulders as he disappeared from Will’s
view. “Don’t let her convince you otherwise.”
Will stood there for a moment, stunned, and when he left the embassy,
Ryan’s words followed him home. What had he meant? It didn’t make any sense,
none at all. If he loved her, and Will was sure that he did, then why would he
say something like that? It was almost as if Ryan wanted him to go to Deanna … but why would he want that?
Before he knew where he was going, Will was back at the embassy. He found
her there, she was getting ready to go, and he looked around to see if Ryan was
anywhere to be seen. But no one else was around. They were alone.
“What are you doing here, Will?” she asked, locking eyes with him.
“Where’s Sarah? I didn’t see her all night …”
“She’s at a symposium,” he explained, not able to stop the next
words as they rolled off his lips. “You look absolutely breathtaking, Deanna.
That dress … my God … I …”
“I noticed.” She smiled. “Did you come back just to say that? I’m
flattered.” She was teasing him, he knew, but in that moment Will didn’t
“I miss you,” he admitted to her for the first time. “I miss
everything about you, about us.” He watched for her reaction, but she only
looked at him, nothing in her expression revealed the joy she felt, and Deanna
was grateful for it. She was afraid that he might have been surprised by the
strength of the feelings that threatened to overflow her senses. But she
couldn’t deny her own longing anymore, nor could she continue to overlook his.
“Me too,” she said. “But, Will ---“ She went silent when he shook
his head and took one step closer to her … and then another one. Deanna held
her breath, waiting.
“No.” His voice was soft, the softest it had ever been, perhaps, as
he continued. “Not this time, Deanna,” he reached out for her, and she let
him bring her close. She could no longer remember all the reasons why they
shouldn't be here, alone and seconds away from kissing. But then, suddenly, Will
drew back from her. She looked at him, finally letting him see what was in her
heart, but it wasn’t enough. She knew that she would have to say it, to tell
him that it was okay, and that she wanted it, too.
“Will,” she whispered, releasing her breath. That was all he needed,
and when it happened, when their lips met, both forgot about everything else in
their lives and gradually deepened the kiss until they clung to each other,
finding it impossible to let go. They fit together so perfectly, and Deanna felt
herself react to his closeness. Eventually, that was why she ended the kiss, and
Will noticed the change in her immediately. It might have been a while since
they had shared any kind of intimacy, but Will remembered every little thing
about it, about her, so even if the only visible sign of her beginning arousal
was that her eyes had gotten even darker, he still saw it.
“Do you even know what you do to me?” She was surprised by his words,
but she said nothing, and he continued. “Of course you do, you always knew. I
was the one who didn’t know, didn’t see, and now …” He trailed off when
she reached up to let a hand run down his cheek. “Deanna?”
“Walk me home,” she asked. “Please?” He nodded, and she let her
hand slip into his. Will had trouble comprehending how affected he could be by
just the touch of her hand. Deanna thoughts were very similar, and she looked up
at him and fed off the warmth in his bright eyes, knowing that this time it was
for her. Somewhere in the back of her mind the thought of Sarah emerged, but
Deanna managed to push it away, explaining away the guilt by rationalizing to
herself that Sarah would have Will for the rest of her life, she only had these
few moments. It didn’t matter that she knew she ought to know better, or that
up to this point she would have sworn off ever behaving like this. The only
thing that mattered was that she was finally where she had imagined being for so
long … everything else seemed to just fade away.
They didn't speak as they made their way through the city. The feeling of
the other filled both their minds and hearts, and there was no room for words.
When they reached the house, Deanna felt Will let go of her hand, and she didn't
need her emphatic sense to pick up on his apprehension. He smiled in an attempt
to brush off her concern. He had completely let go of her hand now, and they
just stood there, letting the calm of the evening wash over them. Will had never
seen a woman so beautiful, and he found that just looking at her made all the
sense in the world. They didn't have to speak, didn't even have to touch ... it
was all there, in her eyes.
Will looked to the side and saw the light in one of the windows. That
could only mean that Ryan was there, waiting. Riker felt like he had been kicked
in the gut as the bubble burst. Despite the emotion he saw in her eyes and had
felt when she had responded to his kiss, Deanna was a married woman.
"I should go," he whispered, finding it hard to speak. Deanna
looked at him, surprise in her eyes. Will only wanted to hold her and keep her
in his arms - where she belonged. How had they ever let it come to this?
"Go?" She reached out for his hand without realizing it.
"Will ... no. I ... come in for a minute. It's been so long."
"He's waiting for you."
For an instant she said nothing. It broke her heart to keep up the
appearance of being married to someone else, when all she wanted was to tell him
how she really felt, how she longed for him, loved him. She couldn't do it
anymore. It was too hard.
"Will ... I need to tell you ---"
"Deanna, there's no need. Really. I'm happy for you." he
interjected, hoping that he sounded at least a little sincere, and that she
would be kind enough not to point out how his emotions betrayed him. "But I
have to go. It's getting late, and ---." Will gave up trying to find
something to say and settled for a soft "good night" as he walked
"Will!" she called out, watching him stop and turn around.
"We have to talk." Deanna saw him hesitate for a moment before he came
back to her.
"What's to talk about?" he whispered, resisting the
vulnerability in her eyes. "Haven't we talked enough?"
"Please, just listen," she asked. "Jared is ---"
Riker closed his eyes only to open them again quickly. Deanna was
silenced by the discomfort so evident on his face. He really did care, still. It
was obvious now - even more so than it had been when he had kissed her.
"I don't want to know," he said. "Don't tell me." He
had never looked at her that way before, and Deanna stepped closer to him,
wanting nothing more than to remove the pain from his features.
"What?" he continued, no longer able to keep the strain out of his
"Will, there's something you have to know about Jared and I
"If it's that important to you," he sighed, stealing a glance
at the window. He saw no one there and returned his attention to Deanna and
"We're ... not married anymore."
He couldn't speak. Her words were so unexpected; so incredible that he
had to hear them again, just to be sure.
"What did you say?"
"I'm not married anymore," she said, again. "You heard me,
"I did, but I --- Deanna?"
"I know it doesn't make any difference," she continued.
"But I had to tell you."
"I don't know what to say." He honestly didn't. This was so ...
it was everything he had asked for, and now he was at a loss. She was not
married. Not ... Riker smiled, and
when he looked at Deanna, he saw that she did the same. "I thought
---" he stopped mid-sentence as she nodded.
"I know," was all she said. "I wanted you to. It was ...
easier that way." She let a finger trace his lips, knowing that she should
let him go, but at the same time wanting him to stay. She wanted ... him.
"Easy?" Will captured her hand in his and kissed it, oblivious
to the fact that they were still standing outside. "Nothing about us has
ever been easy."
"Maybe not," she agreed, slowly melting into him as he drew her
into his arms, holding her close. "This is not making it less
complicated." He smiled.
"You're right. I ---" He looked into her eyes, losing himself
in them for the thousandth time. "I really should go now."
"Not again," she asked. "Not like this." She held his
gaze, and he gave in. After all, the last thing he wanted was to walk away from
"All right," Will said. "I'll stay."
Moments passed by in silence as the words he had spoken manifested
themselves. This was a crossroad, and suddenly decisions were forced upon them.
“Let’s go inside,” Deanna suggested, and Will followed her into the
house. He felt like he was trespassing, and she flashed him one of those
incredible smiles. “Relax.” He nodded and sat down on her couch when she
went to replicate drinks. He took the beverage from her, smiling as he saw her
sip the hot chocolate. It was such a well known, comforting sight in a situation
where he was fighting to do the right thing. The fact that he now knew Deanna
was free changed everything, on the one hand, but on the other everything was
much the same as it had been before she had told him. He was still bound to
Sarah, and he wanted to spare her as much pain as possible. He had already hurt
“She trusts me.” He hadn't realized that he had been speaking out
loud before he saw Deanna's darkened expression. “I’m sorry, I ... it is
“I don’t want us to make any rash decisions.” She looked down on
her hands, wrapped protectively around the mug.
“Look at me, Deanna,” he asked. “Open up your mind.” He leaned in
closer and kissed her. “You should know that I’m right where I want to
“Yes.” She kissed him back, gently letting her lips capture his.
“But,” she continued as they withdrew from each other, “if you would
rather ---“ He stopped her from
finishing the sentence as he took the still hot beverage from her and put it
down on the table. Deanna watched as he sat back on the couch, pulling her with
him and letting her rest against his chest.
“There’s nothing I would rather do than this,” he whispered, and
she turned her head just in time to see that special light in his eyes.
“Not a thing?" she teased. He held her tighter, and she gasped
“Well, maybe one or two,” he conceded. “But for right now ---” He
smiled, and she loved him so much it hurt. “For right now, this is just fine
“Mm.” She snuggled in closer, and minutes later Will could hear her
soft breathing. She had fallen asleep, and he felt a rush of contentment. There
would be time to talk in the morning. He kissed her lovingly and smiled as she
shifted in his arms.
“How long have you been looking at me like that?” They were still on
the couch in her living room, and Deanna had no desire to change that anytime
soon. She hadn’t felt this good in a long time.
“Not nearly long enough,” he said, letting a hand run through her
soft curls. “Good morning.”
“It is,” she nodded. “Are you okay, Will?”
“How couldn’t I be?” He caressed her cheek. “I love you, Deanna.
When I'm with you, nothing else matters.”
“You’re such a sweet talker, Will Riker.” She laughed softly, and
Will didn't realize how much he had missed it until now.
“Me?” He feigned hurt, and she slapped him on the arm. “Ouch! What
did I do?” Their laughter mingled, and for a while they just lay there,
enjoying each other's closeness.
It was Deanna who broke the silence between them.
“When will she be back?” The flash of guilt she sensed from him, made
her detangle herself from his embrace and get up from the couch. “This isn’t
the one thing that is absolutely right in my life, Deanna. Please don't withdraw
from me again. I will talk to Sarah.” He sat up and reached up to bring her
back into his arms. She couldn’t find the strength to resist and let him.
“This time you and I will make it work; we have to.” He paused and was
relieved, when she smiled. It was all the reassurance he needed.
“I’m late,” she said, reluctantly. “I have patients in an
“Hurry up and get ready. I’ll make you some breakfast.” She
didn’t move, and he rose, bringing her with him. Deanna waited a second to
step back from him; not wanting to ruin what had turned out to be a wonderful
start of the day. “Go,” he smiled. “I won't go anywhere.”
“I’m so weak around you,” she whispered, almost inaudibly, and Will
didn’t say anything, because he wasn’t sure that she had wanted him to hear.
When she was out of sight, he went to find the kitchen, mumbling his own
concession under his breath. He had always been weak where Deanna was concerned,
and he knew it would never change. That was why this time he had to make sure
that he wouldn’t lose her again. He had to. There would be no more chances.
“Shh.” Will put a finger to her lips, effectively stopping the
question burning in her eyes from being put into words. Deanna smiled, stole one
last kiss and slipped into her office. “Dee?” he said, and she appeared in
“I’ve missed that, too.” For a minute he wondered what she meant,
but then she explained. “I like it when you call me that.” She blushed ever
so slightly. “I know; it's silly.”
“Not at all,” he disagreed. “You are a lot of things, Deanna Troi,
but silly is not one of them.”
“Really?” She felt as giddy as a schoolgirl, and it was a little
scary. But at the same time it felt very invigorating, and she decided that it
was okay. She would not allow herself to feel guilty for loving him. She had
tried that, and where had it gotten her? “Would you care to enlighten me as to
what I am, then, Commander?”
“I would love to, Counselor,” he answered, and then he sent her
crashing to the ground. “But I can’t. I have to go, and you ---“ He wanted
to kiss her, hold her … he wanted to do a lot of things. “ You have patients
“You are my patient.”
“Don't remind me.” He took in a deep breath, letting his eyes caress
her face. “Have dinner with me tonight.” It was almost an afterthought, but
when he had said it, he knew that it was what he wanted. He wanted to spend as
much time with her as he possibly could. “Please.”
The door slid shut, and Will was left standing there, wondering what he
was getting himself into, and how he would ever explain it to Sarah.
In the course of the next days, Deanna and Will found their way back to
each other, rebuilding their close relationship, one step at a time. They would
spend the evenings together, having dinner out or just relax at home. Home. Will
smiled as he grabbed his jacket from the back of a chair and headed outside with
one last look at the house he had lived in for the last two years. He could stay
here for the rest of his life, and it would never be the same again. 'Home truly
is where the heart is,' he mused, and for Riker that meant that home was
wherever Deanna was.
“Mr. Riker,” came the voice of Jared Ryan when Will reached
Deanna’s house. “Deanna told me to let you know that she would be running
“Thank you,” Will said, smiling. “Mr. Ryan, I --- hope you
understand?” Jared nodded reassuringly, looking at the man in front of him.
“I only ask one thing of you.” He eyed Will seriously. “Make sure
she’s happy, and don’t let go of each other again ... Imzadi is your
destiny, Will, yours and Deanna’s. It should not be taken lightly.”
“I know, and I will do my very best to ensure her happiness,” Will
promised and shook Jared's hand. The two men parted, and Will went to punch in
Deanna’s code before going inside. Jared watched him from the distance and
silently wished them both well. It was time for him to return to Betazed.
“A penny for your thoughts?” Will inquired, smiling at her puzzled
expression. “An ancient Terran expression,” he explained, continuing. “You
“I am,” she allowed. “I was just thinking how easy I could get used
to having you in my life again.” She paused, removing an imaginary fiber from
her dress. They had just returned from dinner and had been indulging in old
memories from their time onboard the Enterprise.
“I don’t intend to disappear,” he whispered, offering her a warm
smile. None of them said anything for a while as they both attempted to
disregard the need that had been building between them. It was getting still
“What will you tell her?” Deanna asked, breaking the tension. He
shook his head and got on his feet.
“There’s nothing I can do except tell the truth. She deserves that,
Deanna, but it’s --- why do I have to be such a coward?” He almost spat out
the last word, and Deanna cringed at the self-disgust she sensed from him.
“You’re not a coward, Will,” she said. “You’re one of the most
courageous men I know.” He turned to her, an ironic smile playing his lips.
“I’ve always been a coward with you,” he maintained, “and now
Sarah ... “ He began pacing, and Deanna rose to stop him.
“We can’t change what has happened, and you don’t have to feel bad
that you love her, Will. I know you do." She looked his eyes. “I want you
to do what you feel is right, Imzadi. No matter what that might be ...”
“I want you so much.” His words were forced, and the desire in his
eyes took Deanna's breath away. “I need you, Dee.”
The tension between them was so strong that for a few moments none of
them could speak, and then they found that words were no longer important, or
Between heated kisses Will searched Deanna’s face for doubt or unease.
He saw neither. Her eyes shone with the love and desire he had longed for, but
hadn’t dared believing that he would ever see again. He was lost in her
beauty, and Deanna feasted on the feelings radiating from him. He was as
handsome as any man she had ever met, and in that moment the memory and
anticipation of his touch filled her mind completely.
Deanna protested, when he ended the kiss and took a step back from her,
but Will smiled, offering a hand to her. She took it, gently probing his mind,
and he let her. There were no longer any reason for any of them to hide what
they thought or felt. Will lifted her up, feeling inexplicably happy when she
let her arms slide around his neck. The gesture assured him that she felt safe,
and that she trusted him. Given their history as well as the present
circumstances, this was as important to Will as anything else.
The sheets were cold against her skin, and she shivered briefly. But the
discomfort was quickly expelled when Will showered her with tiny kisses,
ignoring her pleas to hurry, to not make her wait any longer. Instead he lifted
his head, looking into her eyes.
“I want to love you,” he said, and Deanna was struck by his soft
tone. She kissed him, and Will held her close, slowly removing her dress,
revealing her nakedness. She was magnificent, he thought, and his hand ran down
the curve of her breast, cupping it gently. “Perfect,” he whispered against
her lips, stealing her breath with a kiss so intense that Deanna felt its
effects all over. “So absolutely perfect.”
He let his lips move lower, feeling her warm skin under his touch, and
she let out soft sighs that turned into needful gasps as he added pressure and
rediscovered all the secrets of her body. His
lovemaking was unique, and she let herself enjoy every touch, every kiss, and
every emotion burning in his eyes as he held her gaze and watched her surrender.
It went on and on, and Will felt his desire heighten with each crashing wave of
her pleasure. She looked incredible.
For a moment none of them moved, then Deanna kissed him, and Will’s
reaction was immediate. He brought
her with him as he shifted in bed to lie on his back, and Deanna gasped as she
felt him push against her thigh. She wanted him as much as she ever had, but she
also wanted to prolong his pleasure, their pleasure. She had waited so long for
this, and she didn’t want it to end. Not ever.
“Deanna,” he groaned when she touched him in much the same way he had
done with her. Her touch set his soul on fire, and Will called out her name
again, almost like a plea. He had
never felt like this before, not even with her. It was almost too powerful, too
intense. “No more,” he asked. “I can’t take anymore.” Will caught her
eye, unbelieving. “You’re smiling?” he managed. She only nodded and let
her lips capture his with a force he didn’t know she had.
“I’ve always wanted to hear you beg,” she answered, teasingly.
Will’s eyes widened. Then a broad smile spread across his face.
“You’re wicked, you know that? Oh, God!” Her lips enveloped him,
and Will had to use all his strength not to lose it right there. Then she
stopped, and he bit back a frustrated scream. “Deanna, please …” She
smiled again; a smile unlike any he had ever seen from her … she was in
control, and she knew it.
“Please?” she whispered, and he nodded, certain that he would go out
of his mind if she kept this up even a minute longer. She was right above him
now, so close. But not close enough.
“Yes,” he said, his voice strained. “I need you. Now.” She moved
against him, fixed her eyes on his face, and, then, finally, they came together,
initiating an intimate dance before finding their ultimate release. She rested
in his arms when they relaxed, and he held her close to him, listening to her
heartbeat as it slowed down. Deanna smiled in her sleep when he covered them
both with the blanket. Will brushed
his lips over hers before he drifted off as well.
Sarah was in a hurry. The symposium had ended early, and she couldn’t
wait to get home. The time away had done her good, and she approached life with
a new energy that was sure to surprise Will. She smiled a little. She couldn’t
wait to see him again. But first there was someone else she had to see.
Sarah nodded, smiling at the man who approached her.
“Dr. Jameson,” she acknowledged. “I was told you wanted to speak
“Yes.” Colin Jameson looked at the beautiful woman in front of him.
She was something else. “Yes, I do.“ He smiled, gesturing for her to follow
him. “I have the information you requested.” He stopped, pushed open a door
and let her step inside. Sarah sat
down and reached for the padd he had picked up from the desk. “Just let me see
“What is your connection to Dr. Ryan?” Jameson asked again. The first
time he had asked, she hadn’t answered him, and he wasn’t sure she would
now. Actually, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know. He had only agreed to
help her because she had seemed so insecure.
“She’s my marriage counselor,” Sarah said. “I just want to know
who I’m telling my secrets to.” Jameson
handed her the padd, wondering why she hadn’t just asked the counselor or at
least had conducted the background check herself. Something was amiss, but it
wasn’t really his concern, and he only nodded.
“Well, I would say you’re in luck. Deanna is very competent …” He
watched her expression change immediately and decided that it might be best to
just get himself out of there. He put a hand on her shoulder as he moved to the
door. “I’ll see you back in San Francisco, Sarah.”
“Yeah.” She turned to face him. “Thank you, Colin.” She looked at
the padd and then at him. “For this.”
“Sure. I hope you find whatever it is that you’re looking for.” He
smiled. “Tell the Commander I said hi.”
“He has a name, you know,” Sarah said, also smiling. It was the thing
with Colin Jameson. He always managed to make her smile. That hadn’t changed
since Medical School.
“I know,” he answered, and then he was gone, leaving Sarah alone in
the office. She glanced briefly at the padd in her lap:
‘Deanna Troi, Betazoid. Occupation: Counselor. Previously assigned to
the USS Enterprise, now working at Starfleet Medical. Marital status:
It was all here, confirming the nagging suspicion in the back of her
mind; the one that been there since she and Will had been to that counseling
session. There was something there, a chemistry that couldn’t be denied. She
had felt it, and she had seen the looks they had exchanged, even if she was
certain that neither Deanna nor Will realized it. But she hadn’t been sure at
the time. Sarah hadn’t recognized the counselor, and it hadn’t occurred to
her that the friendly woman could be the one causing the strain in her marriage.
Her husband’s Imzadi. No wonder Will had been reluctant to let her know about
the bond. Sarah slammed the padd down on the desk. Damn Deanna Troi. Damn the
both of them. She took in a couple of deep, cleansing breaths. It didn’t help
at all. She was shaking and fell back into the chair, trying to steady herself
while all kinds of images flickered through her mind. Tears glimmered in her
“He’s mine,” she whispered as anger and sadness welled up inside
her, and she let the tears flow. “You had your chance, and you didn’t take
it.” Sarah felt the frustration build, and she knew she knew she had to get
out of there and go home. She sighed. Whatever that meant. Suddenly she wasn’t
sure of anything anymore. Except for one thing. She was not going to just back
down from this ... Imzadi or not, if Deanna Troi wanted Will, she would have to
fight for him, and Sarah had no intentions of making it easy for her.
Deanna woke up slowly and smiled, when she felt Will tighten his grip
around her waist, pulling her back against him.
“Mm.” She turned around to face him, and Will kissed her gently.
“It’s late. You should ---“ The rest of whatever she had wanted to say was
forgotten when he kissed her again, this time with so much passion that Deanna
felt like she was going to burn up inside.
“I know,” he whispered when the kiss ended. “But let me hold on to this a little longer, let me hold on
to you. I’m still trying to figure out if you’re real or not.”
“Oh, I’m real, Riker,” she smiled. “I’m very real …” Deanna
looked down at him, wondering if it wouldn’t be easier to just pretend that
this wasn’t real. That way the pain their actions would inflict on Sarah would
not be real, either, and then she wouldn’t have to feel so guilty.
“Where’d you go?” he asked softly. She smiled faintly.
“Somewhere not so pleasant,” she said. “Will, I love you, and I
don’t regret what happened between us, not for a minute, but I do feel
“Guilty?” he offered, and she nodded, silently. “Deanna, don’t.
It’s my responsibility, my marriage, and I’m the one who should ---“
“And you do,” she said. “You do. I can feel it, Will. I have felt
it throughout the week, how conflicted you are …”
“Of course, I’m conflicted.” He smiled ironically. “How fitting a
word. Conflicted.” He swallowed painfully. “It isn’t your fault, Dee.”
“Don’t. Don’t free me from this responsibility, Will. I knew what I
was doing when I told you about Jared, I knew where it would lead, what it would
mean. But I didn’t care. I didn’t. I wanted you.” She took in a breath.
“She didn’t matter to me when you kissed me, Will, and when you … when we
made love, it was like she didn’t exist.”
“Deanna,” Will said, but he didn’t know what to say, how to admit
that he had felt exactly the same way. Because if he did, he would also have to
admit that he had failed. He had screwed up, again. Only this time it was Deanna
who was in his arms, in his bed … He groaned under his breath.
“I know,” she whispered, sensing his thoughts. “Don’t you see?
That’s why I feel so awful, because as much as I want to block out the truth,
I can’t. Sarah does exist, and she didn’t only trust you. She trusted me as
“I don’t know much of anything right now,” he allowed. “Except
this: I want you in my life, Deanna. I want you more than anything else and more
than I ever have before.” She smiled and let his words warm her heart. “I
“I love you too,” she said, pausing briefly. He waited. “Will?”
“Stay with me? I don’t want to let go just yet.”
He smiled, taking his time to answer as if he was really giving thought
to her suggestion.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
She smiled, looking into his eyes. They were filled with sincerity. He
really meant it, and as wonderful as it made her feel, it also complicated
things even more – if that was possible. She leaned in to kiss him, and Will
held her close as they expelled reality yet again, losing themselves in the love
that they had never been able to free themselves from and now no longer wanted
“Commander Riker is has not been in this morning, ma’am,” replied
the young lieutenant when Sarah inquired as to the whereabouts of her husband
after realizing that he was not in his office. He hadn’t been at the house,
either. By the looks of it, he hadn’t been home for days. Her blood was
boiling, and her heart fell with every word he spoke. “He should be here
shortly. The were some matters that needed his attention.”
“I’ll bet,” she mumbled under her breath.
“Never mind, lieutenant,” she dismissed him. “I think I know where
to find him.”
The young man disappeared, and Sarah stood there for a few minutes. She
knew where she should go to find Will. She just wasn’t sure she was ready for
it yet, to actually see them together.
“Yet?” she whispered to herself. “Like I will ever be ready for
that. How could you do this to me, Will? How could you?”
“Are you all right? Sarah?”
She closed her eyes for a second, opening them slowly as she turned
“Colin. Look, I’m … late,” she said. “I have to find Will.”
“He’s at Medical,” Colin answered. “I just saw him there.” He
looked at her seriously. “Are you sure that’s all? You’re pale.” He
stepped closer. “Sarah? Talk to me.”
“I’m tired. Can we do this another time?”
He smiled. How was it that he had known she would say that? Not something
like that … but exactly that. Sometimes he wanted to kick himself … and she
wondered why he wasn’t thrilled about the good Commander? For an intelligent
woman, she could be very … He stopped himself. There was no reason to make
things harder than they already were.
“Yes, this.” She sighed. “Don’t do this to me right now. I
can’t deal with it.”
“I wasn’t aware that I was doing anything to you,” he said,
“except voicing my concern. But all right, I will go.”
“It was a long time ago, Colin. We talked about it, we ---“
“Settled it? Yes, I suppose we did. But you know, Sarah, sometimes
things ‘unsettle’ themselves.” He smiled, knowing what she was thinking.
“Yes. I know it isn’t a word, and I also know that I don’t care.”
“You wouldn’t, would you?” she smiled. “You’re right. Things
change, but not … I don’t … “ She was searching. “You know that.”
“Go find him, Sarah.” He looked at her face, into her eyes and knew
that even if she would never feel the same way about him, he would do his best
to take away the sadness he saw there. One way or another he would would do
“Yes,” he said. “We’re fine. I have to go back there anyway, as a
matter of fact. I’ll walk with you.”
“That would be nice,” she smiled, feeling a little calmer as they
walked together in the direction of Starfleet Medical.
They had made the trip in silence, but when they entered the building and
Sarah headed to Deanna’s office, Colin stopped her, putting a hand on her arm.
“Don’t do it,” he whispered, surprised that he hadn’t understood
before now what exactly was going on. He had had an idea when she had come to
him for help. But it had only been a feeling, and he had pushed it away, because
it wasn’t his place to get in the middle of it. But, as they had just
determined, things change, and he had promised himself years ago that he would
take care of her.
“He’s in there, Colin. I know he is. He’s with her.”
“You don’t know that,” he tried, catching her eye and keeping the
contact. “Look, I’m not crazy about Will, and I care more for you than I
should, so I’m clearly not the most objective person, but he does love you,
and if you are getting counseling, it must mean ---“
“Deanna Troi is not just any woman,” she interjected, “they served
on the Enterprise together, and he knew her before then as well.” Sarah
paused. “They share some kind of bond.”
“Bond?” he asked, but then it dawned on him what she might mean.
Deanna was Betazoid. He had read about the Betazoid culture; he had even dated a
Betazoid woman once. It was a while ago, but Colin still remembered much of what
she had told him about the different bonds that Betazoids could share. He
hadn’t known that it could happen with someone outside of the race, though,
and he was astounded. “’You mean Imzadi?”
“Are you telling me you know what it means?” Her surprise was
“Well …” Colin wasn’t sure he was the one who should tell her
this, and, amazingly enough, he felt sorry for Will Riker.
“Well, what? If you do, tell me. Will is being less than cooperative.
The only thing he’ll say is that it is like soul mates.” She sighed. “I
don’t know what to think; what to believe. He tells me he wants to work it
out, but the minute I leave he’s all over her!”
“I’m not the one you should talk to about this, Sarah,” he looked
at her seriously, “and you shouldn’t jump to ---“
“Oh, please! It isn’t like it’s a stretch.” She walked away from
him, but he followed. She turned quickly. “Colin, he is my husband, and I will
not give up on him. There is no way that I will just let her have him. No
“I’m not saying that you should,” he replied. “But don’t do
something that you will regret, either. Sarah, he isn’t worth what this is
doing to you.”
“Yes,” she argued, “he is. I have to make this right. You don’t
“No, I don’t.” He shook his he ad. “I suppose I’m not meant to,
but it seems that for a long time the two of you haven’t been happy.“ His
voice fell to a whisper. “You’re not happy.”
“I shouldn’t have turned to you.” She was speaking more to herself
than to him, but Colin listened anyway. In all the years he had known her, she
had never needed him, not like he needed her. Not before that night and even
then she had drawn back. In the last minute she had left him there alone, and
they had only spoken of it once since then – when she had told him that it had
been a mistake, and Will Riker was the one she was supposed to be with. “I was
--- you know how vulnerable I was. It was wrong.”
“Wrong?” Colin was relieved that they were alone in the corridor.
“You want to talk to me about what’s wrong? I don’t think so. Believe me,
She only stared at him, surprised at the force of his words, and Colin
went on, suddenly not caring anymore that it wasn’t his place, because,
whether she chose to acknowledge it or not, they were not just friends. Not
anymore. “You should ask yourself something, Sarah.”
He looked into her eyes, bracing himself for the impact of her cold
stare. It didn’t help, and he was left momentarily breathless. “Ask yourself
why you want Will,” he said. “Why it is that you are so determined to hold
on to him.” He paused briefly, reaching out to her as his voice softened.
“Is it love, or it something else? You owe yourself to answer that question,
before you take on Deanna Troi.”
“You sound like some damn counselor,” Sarah shot at him as his words
sank in and stirred up uncomfortable questions in the back of her mind. “I
don’t need that. I need a friend.”
“Sometimes friends are the best counselors.”
He was smiling, and it annoyed the hell out of her.
“Thank you very much, Doctor. I believe this session is over.”
“Think about it,” he only said as he left, walking away slowly,
“for your own sake.”
When he was gone, Sarah took a deep breath, her eyes falling on a door no
more than ten steps away. She wanted to go in there and offer some few choice to
Troi – in fact, there was nothing stopping her from going in there and telling
the esteemed counselor to stay away from Will … nothing. Except …
She snapped out of her thoughts and spun around, surprised to see him
behind her. Her eyes flew to Deanna’s door. It was still closed. Of course it
was. She would have heard it, if it had opened; she would have seen him. But she
hadn’t, and here he was.
She tried to breathe normally, knowing that she was not ready to face him
yet. He came close enough for her to touch, and she let a hand run down his
cheek, wondering if Deanna ever did the same thing, and if he was thinking of
her now, and Sarah silently resolved that she no longer had a choice in the
matter. It was time for them to talk.
“Hi, Will.” She hoped she sounded better than she felt. It wasn’t
supposed to be this hard, was it? He was her husband, the man she had promised
to share the rest of her life with, and she was unable to even look him in the
eyes. “I didn’t hear you coming. You surprised me.”
“I can see that.” He caught her hand in his and held it to her lips
as a wave of guilt overwhelmed him and left him feeling numb. “I’m sorry.”
She felt tempted to ask him what it was exactly that he was apologizing
for, but she kept silent. After all, she didn’t know … Sarah sighed
inaudibly. Who was she kidding? Of course she knew.
“Are you free for some late breakfast?” She tried to smile, but wasn’t sure if she succeeded. Will saw her struggling, and he wondered just how much she knew. He had never meant for it to turn out like this, and even if he knew that hurting her was inevitable, he still felt like scum for treating her like this.
“Sure,” he answered, “let’s go.”
“Will?” Sarah asked as they walked to the nearest café. His arm was draped casually around her shoulder. She knew she ought to move away from him, but she couldn’t. She loved him. He turned to her, and her courage faltered. She wasn’t ready to talk about this, wasn’t ready to see him walk away, and she was sure that he would.
“Yes?” he realized that he was whispering. He cleared his throat and waited for her to continue as he let her walk through the door first.
“Never mind.” She slid into a seat. “Let’s just eat.”
“Are you sure?” He avoided eye contact as he gestured for the waitress. Sarah watched him from across the table. He looked different. Her heart ached when she realized that he was happy. Sure, she saw the guilt in his eyes, it was impossible to miss, but underneath it … there was happiness, contentment. He was happy, but it wasn’t because of her. It was because of Deanna. Sarah muttered a low curse under her breath. Will raised his head. “Sarah? Something is wrong. Tell me what it is.” Will had never felt more disgusted with himself in his entire life. No, that wasn’t exactly right. He pushed the memory of Deanna’s shocked expression out of his mind.
“I know,” she said, the words rolling off her lips before she had a chance to stop them. It was just as well, she resolved, that they got it all out in the open. That way she would know what she up against. Sarah had made up his mind. She was not going to just give up.
He looked tortured, and she almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
“I know about Deanna, Will,” she went on, watching him go absolutely pale, “about Imzadi.”
His eyes clouded over as he repeated the word. Sarah tensed in her seat. The way he said that word … it sounded like a caress. She shuddered. He had never spoken to her in that way, and she had to admit to herself that he never would.
“How?” he asked, the thought of denying it was quickly abandoned. He couldn’t deny his love for Deanna anymore than he could deny his need to breathe, and he didn’t want to try. Not anymore.
“Does it even matter?” Her eyes met his, challenging him. Will shook his head. She was right. It didn’t matter how. He sighed. He hated the mess he had managed to make of his life, but there was nothing he could do about it now. All he could do was to be honest with her, and she deserved as much.
“No. It doesn’t.” He looked at her now, and Sarah battled her conflicting emotions. One part of her wanted to cry, while another part wanted to scream and let him know that she wasn’t going to back down. This was the part that won.
“I don’t care,” she said, noticing his shock as it registered on his face.
“You don’t care? Sarah, what ---?”
“I don’t care about Imzadi, Will,” she said in an even tone that Will had come to know very well. Sarah didn’t often yell or scream. She expressed her anger differently. She turned cold and distant. “I don’t care how much you love her, or how you are bound to her through some bond. It means nothing to me.” She paused, but only briefly, and, Will was sure, only to put extra emphasis on her last words. “I’m the one you married, Will, not her. Do you remember saying that to me? Well, you were right, and I am not letting you go.”
“I ---“ he started, but she cut him off before he had a chance to form a complete sentence.
“I mean it,” she said, getting up from the chair. None of them had touched their food, and Will watched Sarah as she left. Her words hang in the air as a warning long after she had disappeared out of sight, and Riker found that he had no idea what she was planning to do, or how far she was willing to go. He didn’t like it, not at all.
Deanna couldn’t concentrate. She let her finger run absentmindedly over the padd on the desk in front of her. Her thoughts were swirling, and she was unable to find her focus. Will had left the apartment late, and they hadn’t really spoken that much. What they had needed to say was already out there, and now they had a to find a way to tell … Deanna sighed, closed her eyes and saw Sarah’s face. The woman would be devastated; there was no doubt in Deanna’s mind about it. All differences aside, she and Sarah had one thing in common: they both loved William Riker, and that wasn’t something a woman could easily get over, if she ever did. He wasn’t just any man. Will Riker was like a nature force – once he had touched your life, it was never the same again, and if you, like both she and Sarah had, opened up your heart to him, you were all but done for. Deanna rose, walking aimlessly around in her office. She was anxious. She didn’t know Sarah well enough to predict her reaction. She hadn’t sensed much from the woman, apart from the strength of her feelings towards Will, but it was obvious to Troi that Sarah had been very determined to overcome the problems in her marriage. Deanna remembered how she had taken note of her willfulness. Sarah was clearly a woman who knew what she wanted and set out to get it. It would be foolish to think that it was going to be smooth sailing for her and Will, and Deanna was no fool. She just would have preferred to know more about what to expect. On the other hand, she had no doubt that she would be sure to find out soon enough.
“Dr. Ryan, your patient is here,” came the voice of her secretary over the intercom, and Deanna snapped out of her thoughts, acknowledging that she was ready to see whoever was waiting. She glanced at her calendar, mentally preparing herself.
“You can do this,” she whispered out loud to herself before moving to the door. When she opened it, she smiled at the young lieutenant in front of her and let him in. As he took his seat, Deanna attempted to disregard the fact that she was in no condition to be counseling anyone today. This was her job, and she would do what she had to. There was nothing she could do to control the situation with Will, after all – at least not until he had spoken to Sarah. So she gathered her strength, drawing on some previously unknown reserve, and focused on her patient.
Colin stepped into the café ten minutes after Sarah had left and found Will sitting alone, staring straight ahead. When he stopped in front of his table, Will barely acknowledged him. His look was empty and uncertain.
“May I sit down?”
Will gave a slight nod, grimacing as he tasted the now cold coffee, and Colin pushed away what he presumed to be Sarah’s untouched plate.
“I don’t like you much,” he said, earning a ‘well, there’s a shocker’ look from the Commander. It made him smile faintly. It had never been a secret that there was no love lost between the two men. They had never said it in so many words, and they acted civil with each other, but there had always been a certain distance between them.
“Did you come all the way here just to say that?” Will’s tone was slightly annoyed. “Or have you been waiting out there, ready to come to her rescue?” The smile playing his lips was ironic as he caught the look of surprise on the other man’s face. Colin quickly recovered. “Did you really think I didn’t know? It’s all over your face every time you look at her!”
“As it is with you when you look at Deanna Troi?” Jameson countered, receiving an icy look from Riker. The force of it shook him slightly. “Look, I’m sorry. It’s none of my business how you feel about her.”
“Finally we agree on something.” Will looked Colin in the eyes. “Why are you here? It seems pretty damn convenient, if you ask me.”
“Maybe it does.” Colin ordered some coffee, as the waitress appeared to clear off the table. When she had disappeared, he continued. “I didn’t follow you here, if that’s what you’re implying. But I am worried about her, Will. She’s crushed.”
“Thank you for your observation,” Will answered, rising from his chair. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my wife.”
Colin saw the anger flash in Riker’s eyes, but he also saw the defeat that Will couldn’t hide. It surprised him. He had always figured Will Riker to be a man in control, someone who could deal with any kind of situation, and he was sure that that characterization was accurate when it came to the Commander’s career in Starfleet. But it was obvious that when it came to Deanna Troi and Sarah things were different. This discovery made Colin see Will in a new light, and even if he would never come to like Riker, he now felt that he at least understood him a little better – and suddenly it wasn’t such a complete mystery why Sarah had chosen to stay with him.
“Will?” Colin got up to follow him outside. “I just want her to be happy. That’s all.”
Will spun around, eyeing the other man seriously. The anger bubbled just beneath the surface. Colin Jameson had always annoyed him, first and foremost because he was so obviously in love with Sarah and apparently was able to give her something, some feeling of safety, that Will couldn’t. Why else would she have gone to him for the information on Deanna? Riker sighed inwardly. He couldn’t be sure, of course, that that was how she had found out, and yet he knew. She could have pulled up Deanna’s file herself, but she hadn’t done that – somehow she had felt that it would be safer to have Colin do it.
“As opposed to what I want?” Riker said, ice in his voice. This was such a mess. “I have always wanted the best for her ---“ Will stopped himself, his anger rising within him. “What the hell am I doing explaining myself to you? You have nothing to do with this!”
“Yes, I do, and you know it.”
It wasn’t a challenge or a threat. Rather, It was a statement of fact, and Will knew that he was right. He didn’t like it, but it was true even so.
“I love her, Colin,” he said without knowing why. Maybe it was because he needed to talk to someone, and Jameson just happened to be there. Riker wasn’t sure, and right now he didn’t care either. “You’re not the only one who wants what is best for her, you know.” Will moved away from the café. “But --- look, I don’t want to get into this with you. I have to find her.” He paused, his eyes meeting Colin’s. Jameson couldn’t find the word to describe what he saw in them. “You think she went to see Deanna, don’t you?”
“Judging from the fact that I had to prevent her from going in there earlier this morning, I’d say it’s a pretty good guess.”
“Oh, no …” Will only whispered and it took him a second to realize what it was Colin had said. “You stopped her?” Colin nodded. “Why?” Riker managed half a smile. “Well, I guess that’s obvious, isn’t it?”
“It should be. But it wasn’t the only reason, Will. I did it for Deanna’s sake as well --- and for you, actually.”
“Me? I find that hard to believe.”
“Sarah told me that you and Deanna are bonded,” Colin said, watching Riker’s expression soften at the mere mention of the beautiful Betazoid’s name. “Whatever my feelings for Sarah may be, that means something.”
“I’m supposed to believe that you give a damn about that?”
Will looked at the man in front of him, and the two of them stood there in silence for a few minutes. Then Will walked back to Starfleet Medical. Colin stayed where he was. He didn’t want to make things more complicated than they already were, and If Sarah wanted to see him, she would know where to find him.
The intense emotions assaulted Deanna’s emphatic sense, and she didn’t need to see her to know that it was Sarah standing out there, and that she was livid. The door opened, and the two women stood face to face. Sarah said nothing; she just stood there for a few expanding moments, trying to control the anger burning inside of her, but she couldn’t.
“I would like a word with you, Counselor,” she hissed, almost spiting out the last word as she threw it in Deanna’s face like an insult. The Betazoid stood tall, but she was far from unaffected.
“Please, come in.”
Sarah stepped inside, watching as Troi closed the door. Her blood boiled. Images of Will and the dark haired woman entangled in a lovers’ embrace tortured her mind. They made her feel sick.
“Bitch,” she said, her eyes on fire. “You bitch! You couldn’t take it, could you? You couldn’t deal with the fact that he wanted to stay with me, so you decided to go after him the first chance you got.” The expression on Sarah’s face was indescribable. “Well, you know what? It isn’t going to work. You can’t have him!”
“He isn’t some prize, Sarah,” Deanna countered, keeping her voice as steady as possible. After all, the woman in front of her had every right to feel betrayed. She searched for the words to explain that neither she nor Will had planned for things to turn out the way they had. But how could she? She wouldn’t be able to mask her feelings, no matter what she said, and that would be like twisting the knife all over again. She didn’t want to do that, because even though Sarah would never believe it, Deanna knew how she was feeling – at least to some extent.
“I could have you reported for this …” Sarah said, either not hearing or not caring about what Deanna had said. “We came here for help, and you …” Deanna’s heart hurt at the pain she not only sensed from the other woman but also saw in her eyes as Sarah looked directly at her. “There are rules, Doctor Ryan.” She emphasized her last name, although Deanna was sure that she knew about her marital status by now. “There are ethics. I’m sure there are people would agree with me that you violated quite a few of them when you took my husband to bed!”
Deanna wanted to protest, to let Sarah know that it hadn’t been like that, but she also knew that there would be no point in trying. However she chose to look at it, it was what had happened. She had not only violated her own personal beliefs but those of her profession as well. Sarah was right; some people would quite surely react to that if it was brought to their attention. They would have to. She sighed inaudibly as her thoughts turned to Will. What had they done?
“What?” Sarah demanded knowing. “You have no answer for that? No excuse or sappy tale about how the two of you are destined to be together? I thought for sure I’d get one of those.” Sarah’s words were cruel and piercing, and Deanna had to use all her self-control not to react in the way she knew Sarah wanted her to.
“Why tell you something you already know?” Troi had not meant to say that, but the look of confusion on Sarah’s face was well worth it. If Sarah wanted a confrontation she would get one.
“Imzadi means nothing to me,” Sarah said, hoping to see the same look of shock on Deanna’s face that she had seen on Will’s not too long ago. But Troi only smiled. She smiled.
“I know,” she said, “but it means something to Will. It means very much to him, and that is all that matters to me.”
“Is that so?” Sarah shot back as she regained her composure. There was no way she was going to back down from this. She had been taught to fight for what she wanted, and she was going to. “Well, if it meant all that much to him, then why wasn’t it more difficult for him to walk away from you?”
That did the trick. Sarah watched as the woman in front of her went instantly pale. The perfect Deanna Troi apparently wasn’t unshakable, after all. “I mean that was what he did, wasn’t it? He walked away from you.” She paused a little, disregarding the voice in the back of her mind saying that this wasn’t who she was or wanted to be. “He chose someone else, Counselor, and it wasn’t the first time either, was it?”
Deanna felt like the air had been punched out of her lungs. How did she know? She couldn’t know. Will wouldn’t have told her about that. She watched Sarah’s expression and wondered if Will had ever seen his wife like this. The transformation was remarkable, and Deanna briefly cursed the emphatic ability, which allowed her to appreciate that Sarah acted like this only because she would do anything to save her marriage.
“Tell me something,” Troi asked, continuing when she received no protest from Sarah, “tell me if Will has ever experienced you like this, because if he has, I can’t blame him for feeling like he made the wrong choice.”
“What?” Sarah found she couldn’t yell. She wanted to, she wanted to scream. But she couldn’t. Had he told her that? Had Will told Deanna that he had made the wrong choice by marrying her? No. No. “Nice try. But he hasn’t said that to you. I know he hasn’t.”
“You’re right.” Deanna answered, knowing that the satisfied look spreading across Sarah’s face would be gone in a moment. Troi sighed. She didn’t want to be cruel to Sarah; after all she didn’t even know her. But she couldn’t bear losing Will again. She didn’t want to have to let him go again, not after what had happened between them, and how right it had felt, despite the less than ideal circumstances. She just hoped he would understand that. “He hasn’t said it, Sarah, but he doesn’t have to. Don’t you see? I know, because I know him. I know him in a way that you or anyone else never will. That is Imzadi, and no matter what you do, or how hard you try, you can’t fight it. You can’t make it go away. It’s a part of Will that he can never share with you, a part of him that you will never understand.”
Both women turned around at the sound of the deep voice. He was standing in the doorway. Deanna knew she should have sensed him, but she had been too caught up in her emotions to be able to. It didn’t matter. She sensed him now, and it was all the confirmation she needed.
Sarah watched her husband’s eyes as he looked at Deanna Troi, and the emotion she saw there was unlike anything she had ever invoked in him. She knew that. She also knew that Troi had been right even before Will had confirmed it, but it didn’t mean that she was ready to accept it.
She regretted her action the second she heard the stunned gasp, but by then it was too late, and Deanna was on the floor looking up at her in shock.
“I’m okay, Will,” Troi promised and let him help her up. Then she returned her gaze to Sarah. The other woman looked away and focused on Will instead.
“We’re leaving,” he said sternly. “Now. We have to talk, Sarah.” Without waiting for her answer, Riker turned to Deanna again. “Are you sure that you’re okay?” She nodded, and Will was hit by a wave of emotion when she looked into his eyes.
Then he sensed her thoughts and couldn’t help smiling. It was still the most incredible feeling he had ever experienced.
To think that one word could carry so much emotion, trust, and understanding. It still managed to amaze him, even after all these years.
“He’s mine.” Sarah’s words cut through the silence, and Will sighed, his eyes leaving Deanna’s face. “Mine.”
“That’s enough!” Riker’s outburst caused both women to stare at him – Sarah because she had never heard him like this before, and Deanna because the feelings she sensed from him almost took her breath away with their intensity. She smiled when he regained his composure. “Sarah,” he said, turning to his wife. “This isn’t you …”
“Don’t patronize me, Will.”
“I’m not.” He reached out a hand to her. “Look, I can’t excuse this, and you have every right in the world to yell and scream at me. But ---“
“But you don’t want me to do it here,” she interjected, “right? You don’t want me to hurt your precious Deanna! Damn you, Will!” She turned to Deanna, and Troi saw the pain in the other woman’s eyes. It was devastating. “I hope you’re happy, Counselor.” Sarah smiled joylessly. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t recommend you to my friends.”
“Sarah,” Will stopped her. “Can we talk about this?”
“We could, but we aren’t going to.” She lost herself in his eyes once more. Now she was sure he didn’t know how much she loved him. “You want her. I can’t change that, and I won’t settle for being second choice.” She drew in a breath. “I can’t believe you would treat me like this. It’s low, Will, really low.”
“Come with me,” he asked, “please. Let’s talk about this. I don’t want to …”
“Choose?” she offered, “I realize that now, and you know what? You don’t have to. This time I’ll do it for you. Nice and easy.”
“None of this is easy,” he argued, but Sarah just smiled.
“It should be. You’re Imzadi, after all, whatever the hell it means. How could I think I could compete with that? Of course I never realized that marriage was a competition.”
“It isn’t,” Will said, “I love you.” He looked at her. It was true. He did love her.
“But never enough, Will. Never so much that you will give her up.”
“Sarah, I tried, I did. I wanted to …”
“You wanted to?” Deanna asked, unbelieving. “You wanted to?”
“Deanna, don’t. Please. She’s my wife, and I wanted to make it work. You and I … I thought … damn it, you know what I thought!”
“Well, for those of us who don’t have the privilege of knowing you that intimately, could you please elaborate?” Sarah’s words were cold. “Explain to me why you married me, Will, and please don’t say you loved me, because I have a hard time believing that right now.”
“You made me feel,” he said, and Deanna gasped.
Dee, please understand. You and I – we weren’t … I didn’t know. ~
“Feel how?” Sarah inquired, oblivious to the wordless communication between her husband and Troi. “What exactly did I make you feel?”
“Sarah … let’s not … not here.”
“For God sake, Will! You are a decorated Starfleet officer. How hard can it be to answer a simple question?”
Will was struggling. Both woman saw that, but it was Deanna Riker looked at as he finally answered, mentally asking for her forgiveness at the same time.
“Alive,” he said, watching the lights go out in Deanna’s eyes. Her emotions overwhelmed him, and he felt a sob work its way to his lips, but he suppressed it. “Sarah, please. Can we talk later?”
“Yes.” Sarah answered automatically, feeling her anger ebb away slowly. She didn’t want to, by God, she didn’t want to, but she felt for both of them. She had never seen Will so upset. It was almost as if he was feeling Deanna’s pain, as if they were connected … “Oh, my God!” she gasped as realization dawned on her. ‘That’s Imzadi.’
“What?” Will turned to her, worried.
“Nothing,” she whispered, throwing a look in Deanna’s direction. A bruise was starting to show on her cheek. Troi turned to face her. A moment of silent understanding passed between the two women. “I’ll let you … I’ll go.”
Sarah left the room unnoticed, and as she looked back a last time, she saw Deanna turn away from Will. She had wowed that she would make Troi fight for Will, but now that she saw the distance between the two of them, she found herself feeling as empty as she had when she had first confronted the counselor. She closed the door and turned to look directly into Colin’s eyes.
"What are you doing here?"
"Well, hello to you, too." His smile was slightly teasing, but he sobered quickly. "Are you okay, Sarah?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "Did you come here just to ask that?"
"Would it be such a surprise to you if I did?" he asked, reaching out a hand to her. “You know I care for you."
"Colin, don't. Just … don't. I can't deal with that right now."
"I know. You keep saying that, but you have to deal with it, Sarah, because it isn't just going to go away."
"What is it that you want from me?" Her voice was slightly raised, but she didn't look angry. She looked tired. Defeated.
"I want you to tell me what you feel, how you feel."
"I don't know, damn it! Why can't you just leave me alone?"
"Is that what you want?" His jaw clenched. "Is it?"
"Yes." She was surprised at how much his face changed. "Colin … I'm sorry."
"Yes," he nodded, “so am I." For a moment none of them spoke, but then he continued. "If I go now, I won't come back, Sarah. You have to know that."
She didn't answer, didn't know what to say. Colin turned away, and Sarah watched him go. He was almost out of sight before she reacted. When she touched him, he turned around and looked at her. There was an unspoken challenge in his eyes, a demand that she make a decision. "He's gone," he said when she just stood there, a hand on his shoulder. "Sarah, he can't let go of Deanna, even if he wanted to, and he doesn't want to. You know that."
"How can you know? Have you always known?" Her tone was slightly accusing, and he moved away from her touch. She could be so infuriating at times.
"Of course not. Look, this isn't getting us anywhere … I have to go."
"I love him."
"Yes," he smiled a little. "I know. Good bye, Sarah."
"Colin, please, I need time." She caught his eye. "Can you give me time?"
"I thought that was what I have been doing," he said. "Different situation, same words. Remember?"
"Of course I do. But ---"
"No, Sarah. I understand that you're hurting right now, and I'm sorry about that, but I can't keep playing this game with you. I won't."
"I want you." Sarah swallowed. "That isn't exactly a secret, is it?"
"I don't know about that. It's the first time you've said it to me." He looked at her seriously. "You do realize what you're saying, don't you?"
"Yes," she answered, "and I am well aware of the double standard."
"Then why the hell are you acting this way?"
"Because …" She looked away from him. "I don't know."
"Yes, you do. We both know, which is why it will never work for us."
"I hate that he loves her more." She sighed. "God, I'm so pathetic, aren't I?"
"Thank you, doctor. That was compassionate of you!"
"It was honest. I've tried compassion with you, doctor." He smiled. "It didn't work."
"This isn't going to, either – is it? The two of us, I mean."
"Not if you can't let go of him."
"What if I can?"
He smiled again. If only it was that simple. But it wasn't, nothing was that simple, not when Sarah was involved.
She looked at him, really looked at him, something she hadn't dared to do in a long time. Not since … She cleared her mind. It had been a mistake. But it had forced her to admit some very hard truths about her marriage, about herself. Truths that she didn't want to face, and Colin's presence was a constant reminder. He annoyed her, especially because she knew he was right. But she wasn't ready yet – she just wasn't ready. The worst part was that right now she didn't know if she ever would be.
"Sarah?" She nodded, waiting. "Take care," he whispered, brushing his lips over hers before he turned away and left. In an instant he was gone, and Sarah turned to look at the closed door to Deanna's office, wondering if this was how Will had felt when he had let Troi go? Had he felt the same void that she felt right now, the same darkness closing in on him?
"Will …" The word fell from her lips in a whisper. "Will."
On the opposite side of the door Deanna had backed away from Will, standing with her back to him. The silence was complete, but that didn't mean that nothing was said. Their communication was wordless. It seemed none of them had the strength to say the words out loud, and their recent union had strengthened their connection, which meant that Will no longer had to struggle to cast his thoughts into Deanna's mind. It was a mixed blessing, however, since right now he could feel every one of her hurt, confused emotions – knowing that he was the one who had caused them. Again.
You don't feel alive with me? ~
The question floated into his mind over and over, and he closed his eyes briefly. She winched when he stepped forward and touched her shoulder.
Yes, I do. You know I do. ~
The pictures flowing from his mind to hers made her shake, and she fell back against his chest. His arms slid around her waist, and she didn't move.
God … ~
He knew it would exhaust her, knew it would drain her energy. But he had to show her; had to let her see how his life without her had been. He held her tight.
"Do you understand?" he whispered close to her ear. "Do you see?"
So much pain … ~
She turned in his arms, hiding her face. Will just held on, whispering softly to her as he kissed her hair, knowing that she was no longer referring to his emotions.
I know. ~ He withdrew
a little to look into her eyes. ~ I never meant to hurt you, Deanna, never.
Imzadi … ~
The word echoed in Deanna's mind, and she met his gaze with her own. She had never sensed him quite like this before. Will was afraid. He was afraid that she would pull away from him. She smiled despite herself.
"I understand, Will," she said softly. "I just wish you would have realized how much …" She reached up to caress his cheek. "So much time … we've lost so much time."
"We're stronger now," Will whispered, bringing her close again. His lips descended on hers with a gentleness that resounded throughout her entire spirit, and when he reached out to her mentally, Deanna embraced him completely. "God, how I love you," he breathed between kisses that seemed to go on and on.
I love you. ~
The look in his eyes took Deanna's breath away, and she felt entirely overwhelmed when he released every emotion in his heart and let it pass through their link. For a few lasting moments they just stood there, letting themselves get lost in each other. But soon reality pressed on, and Deanna looked at Will, the question back in her eyes. He nodded, kissing her deeply for the last time before he stepped back from her.
"I won't be long," he promised, "will you be here?"
"Meet me at home," she smiled, and he returned it. "What is it?"
"Home," he said, tasting the word, "I think I like that."
"You better." She kissed him again. "Will?"
"Mm?" he mumbled, trailing soft kisses down her neck. She smelled so good; tasted so good. "Did you say something?"
"You should go." She let her head fall back a little to give him better access. "She's hurting …" Whatever she had wanted to say, it was momentarily forgotten as she let herself enjoy his touch.
"I know," he whispered, "and I will. In a minute."
"I won't go anywhere," she said, "just talk to her, Will."
Will watched her silently. How could he live without her? She was such an amazing woman, and he loved her. Deeply. Desperately. Eternally.
"Deanna …" he caught her eye, the smile still on his lips, "it will be all right."
"Yes," she agreed, "it will."
had wanted to turn this house into a home, but as Sarah
walked through the rooms, she admitted, for the first time,
that she hadn't succeeded. This was a residence shared my
two people, who genuinely cared for one another, but it was
not the home, either she or Will had searched for. They had
failed in making it one, not because they hadn't tried, but
because, it dawned on her, there had always been something
missing in their relationship, even when they had been
happiest, and they had been happy at one time. They had,
just never as much as she had led herself to believe. There
had been too many things unsaid, too many compromises made
on both sides. They had simply developed into different
people than they had been when they had met, and while that
was perhaps natural enough ... in the process she had
become someone she didn't want to be. Sarah sighed,
flattening the coverlet on the bed as she reached the
bedroom. Her suitcase stood unpacked by the side of the
bed. She had left it there earlier when she had returned to
find the bed untouched and Will nowhere around. It was then
that it had really settled with her that Deanna Troi had a
hold on Will that surpassed anything any other woman could
even come close to. It was easier to think of it that way
than to acknowledge her own part in the mess that her
marriage - and, to some extent, her life had become. The
weight of her own failure, her own mistakes, was lighter
when she looked at it in that light, when she told herself
that no matter what she had done, she and Will would
eventually have ended up like this. Imzadi was like a force
of nature ... bringing Will and Troi together despite
everything else in their respective lives, and so what
could she have done? It didn't matter that she had turned
to another man, not really, because Will shouldn't ever
have married her, knowing that he would never be able to
commit to her fully.
"That is biggest cop-out I have ever heard," sounded a
voice behind her, and Sarah realized that she must have
voiced her thoughts. She blushed as she turned around.
Colin's expression displayed anger and disappointment.
"What happened to you that you can't even own up to your
decisions, and the choices that you've made? Will may have
made some wrong choices, Sarah, and perhaps he shouldn't
have married you, but he did, and whatever else I may think
of him, I know that he cares deeply for you. It is just too
damn easy for you to blame everything on Deanna. She
doesn't deserve that, Sarah."
"I find this concern for the good doctor really touching,"
she snapped, "what is it about her that you all seem to
find so damn irresistible?"
"Deanna is an excellent counselor, and I have a great deal
of respect for her." He stepped further into the room.
"Honestly, that's more than I can say for you right now."
"What's that supposed to mean?" She took in a breath,
already knowing the answer. In a last attempt to disregard
his rea-soning she went on. "And what are you doing here,
anyway? What happened to you not coming back?"
"You know what?" He shook his head. "I have no idea." He
paused as if deliberating if he should say more. "You know
"Why don't you enlighten me," she said with deliberate
"This victim role does not suit you, and neither does the
bitchiness, for that matter. Why can't you just --- oh,
what the hell!" Seconds passed before Sarah realized that
he was kissing her, and that she was kissing him back. She
pressed into him without knowing how to stop herself.
"Colin, stop ..." Her words were hushed. "Stop ... please
"Sarah," he breathed, "God ..."
"We can't." She found the strength to break away. "We just
"Why the hell not?" He stepped away from her, his eyes
burning into hers. Will had never looked at her like that,
and he hadn't ever made her feel so alive. She wanted
Colin, wanted him with a fierce intensity. Was it love? She
didn't know, and right now she didn't care either.
His expression softened instantly at her words, and he
brought her into his arms again.
"You heard me," she said, stepping out of his embrace. A
small smile tugged at her lips. "You're enjoying this,
aren't you? Torturing me like this."
"I think I'm entitled. You've put me through hell."
"I don't know what to say." She truly didn't. He meant it;
it was obvious, and she should have realized ... she *had*
known, at least on some level. After all, what man kept
coming back after the way she had treated him, if it wasn't
"That has to be a first," he smiled, "but then again, I
happen to believe that words can be terribly overrated!"
"Smooth," she retorted, and then she kissed him again,
eliciting a deep groan from him. Her hands circled behind
his neck, and she let herself give in, just as she had that
Will stopped in his tracks at the sight of the two people
locked in what was unmistakably a lover's embrace. Sarah
was kissing Colin Jameson, and it was obviously not the
first time either, judging by the way they were melted into
each other, and the way his name fell softly from her lips
as he moved to kiss her neck. Riker stood there stunned for
a few seconds, until he turned around and left. It wasn't
until the front door banged shut that Sarah reacted. Colin
hadn't ever seen her like this before.
"Will." She whispered. "He must have seen ... "
"I think that's a pretty safe assumption," Colin nodded.
"I have to ..." she couldn't find the words. "I have to go
"Sarah, " he sighed, "it won't help." He spotted the
vulnerability in her eyes along with her need for his
understanding. "I'll talk to him."
"I don't think that's such a good idea," she argued, but
her words fell on deaf ears. Colin was already out the
door, and Sarah wasn't at all sure what to expect when she
hurried to catch up with him.
tracked Will down at the beach. The two men stood
face-to-face, and Riker looked at the man in front of him.
The silence between them became tangible.
"I supposed I should have known. It isn't like you've hid
the fact that you're in love her."
"I am, but it's more than that. I love her. Will ---"
"Don't tell me how long, don't tell me how incredible she
is, or how I'm the biggest fool alive for not appreciating
her. I don't want to hear it! I just want you to get out of
my face before I smash yours in!"
"You're not going to," Colin said, hoping he was right. He
thought he was, but he couldn't be sure. People do a lot of
things in anger that they wouldn't otherwise have done, and
Will was most certainly angry. He was furious.
"Don't bet on it!" Will turned around, looking at the waves
crashing against the rocks. "Is she happy?" The question
surprised both men, and Riker faced the other man again.
"No," Colin said, "not yet. But I hope she will be. Soon.
I'll do what I can ---"
"It that your subtle way of say that I didn't - that I
haven't?" Will cut in. His thoughts and feelings were a
mess. How could he have been such a complete idiot that he
hadn't realized ... how could he have allowed it to come to
this? Was he really that self-absorbed?
"No." He paused briefly. "You tried, and so did Sarah. But
sometimes it's not enough."
"You sound like you know what you're talking about?" Will
was surprised to feel some of his anger disperse.
"I said I loved her," Colin answered, his own frustration
surfacing. "Not that she felt the same way."
Will just looked at him, and Colin smiled joylessly.
"She came to me nine months ago," he explained, "after you
had been away, remember?" Will nodded silently, and Colin
went on. "She was falling apart. Kept saying how the two of
you were drifting apart, and that she didn't know why or
what to do. I hated to see her that way, and I hated you
for not realizing what you were doing to her. I told her to
stay with me."
"Did she?" Nine months. Will's head was spinning. "Colin?"
"No," he said, "she didn't. You don't know how much she
loves you, do you? How much she wants you?"
"I thought I did," Will mumbled. "Are you telling me that
you and she - that you never actually ---?"
"Yes. That is what I'm saying." A silence settled and
dragged on until Colin finally spoke again. "I want to be
with her, but until she lets go of you, until you ... until
then that will never happen. Colin's green eyes met Will's
blue ones. It was unlikely that the two of them would never
come to agree on much of anything, but they had finally
reached some sort of understanding that would allow them to
appreciate that in the end they weren't really that
"I know." A hesitant smile broke on Will's lips. "You *do*
"Otherwise I wouldn't still be here."
"She's something else," Will mused, and Colin nodded, still
somewhat apprehensive. This was a side to Will he had never
fully noticed before. "That temper of hers is ---"
"One of her most endearing features," Colin smiled,
relieved to see Riker do the same. "Wouldn't you agree?"
"Maybe I would," Riker allowed. "I should go see her."
"You should," Colin agreed, already turning to leave as he
noticed Sarah approaching, "and by the look of things you
won't have to go far."
Troi rose from the chair as she ended her communication
with Beverly, a smile on her lips as she remembered her
friend's reaction to the news of the renewed relationship
"It's about time!" had been Crusher's only comment followed
by a lengthy discussion about the inevitable wedding
preparations, until a smiling Deanna had let a word or two
fall on the similarities between Beverly and Troi's mother,
whose demeanor was, of course, well known to the crew of
the Enterprise, including the Chief Medical Officer. That
had prompted a quick change of subject on Crusher's part,
and she had brought Troi up to date on the events onboard
the Enterprise, once again reminding Deanna of how much she
missed the life she had left behind when she had left the
ship. She enjoyed her practice, but it didn't fulfill her
the way her position on the Enterprise had. It just wasn't
the same. Deanna had initially thought that her
restlessness had to do with the loss of contact with Will,
but she had had to admit that that wasn't the case, at
least not solely. While she was happy to have Will back in
her life, while she very much wanted to build a life with
him, Deanna needed more.
She expelled the thoughts momentarily and went to shower.
Will had been gone for a while now, and Deanna concentrated
on the sense of him in the back of her mind. She managed
only to capture a few stray emotions, but it was enough to
assure her that although he wasn't altogether calm, he
didn't appear to harbor strong feelings of pain or anger,
As Deanna stepped into the shower booth and turned the
water on, across town Will was standing still, his hands
tucked in the pockets of the jacket he wore and watched his
wife approach him, stopping only a few steps away from him.
She regarded him with scarcely hidden nervousness. Will was
not as angry as he had initially been upon seeing her with
Colin; in fact he had begun to feel a strange sense of
relief. But now, as he watched Sarah sit down in the sand,
his anger returned. He was angry even though, logically, he
knew that he had no right to be. Right now, however, logic
was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Six months?" he threw the question out there, daring her
to answer, to challenge him, to do anything else than just
"I didn't know what to do, Will. We were drifting away from
each other, and I didn't --- that's why I wanted to go for
counseling, can't you see --- I didn't want to lose you!"
"I can appreciate that," he said. "But you should have told
me. You should have told me *something,* Sarah, instead of
pushing everything over on me - instead of blaming me for
not being able to let go of past relationships when it was
you who were ... whatever it was you were doing!"
"Colin and I never ---" She didn't finish her sentence, she
just looked at him. "You did."
"For God's sake!" Will shouted angrily. "That isn't the
point, and you know it! This isn't about Deanna at all." He
sighed. "Sarah, we both made mistakes. All I want is for
you to admit that the problems we had wasn't entirely my
fault, just as you asked me to do not so long ago." He
fixed her gaze as he went on. "Do you remember what you
said to me? I assured you that I wasn't going anywhere,
promised you that I would do whatever it took for us to
make it work! Do you remember?" He didn't give her the
chance to respond. "My God ... here I was feeling all kinds
of guilt, while you were the one who - you must really
think I'm a fool!"
"No!" She jumped to her feet, fire in her eyes. "I should
never have turned to Colin, but he is an old friend, and I
needed someone to talk to ... someone who would
"It didn't occur to you that it might be a good idea to
talk to your husband?" He challenged her. "The man's crazy
about you! He probably has been for years -?he stood right
here just moments ago proclaiming his love for you!"
"Yes!" Riker was exasperated, but he managed to quickly
regain his composure. "You want him, Sarah. That much was
obvious. Why is it so hard for you to admit?"
"Because ... She trailed, looking out over the water. "I
don't know." Sarah turned to him. "I wanted to make it work
with you, Will, I really did." She smiled a little. "I love
you, and I suppose I was somewhat desperate ..." The words
were a mere whisper, but Will heard them, nonetheless.
"Somewhat," he agreed, still serious.
"Can we skip the rest of the blaming game?" She suddenly
said. "I am sorry, but I just don't --- it doesn't really
matter anymore anyway, and Colin already ripped into me
Will was surprised to hear that, but when he thought about
it, it did actually make sense. That was exactly something
Jameson would do.
"I just wish you would have talked to me," Will said,
"maybe we could have ---"
"Maybe," she nodded, "maybe. But wouldn't it just have been
a matter of time, no matter what we had done? Will, you've
never looked at me the way you looked at her today. You've
never hurt for me that way. I don't think you would be able
to, no matter how much I want you to." There was a bitter
smile on her lips as she continued. "I can't blame you for
not wanting to tell me about Imzadi."
"No," she said, "don't. Just go, Will. It makes no sense
for us to go on now." She stepped close to him, her lips
covering his for the last time.
Will watched her go. When Sarah had disappeared from his
view, Will walked along the beach, trying to reign in his
cha-otic thoughts. His marriage was over, and even though
he wanted to finally build a life with Deanna, he had to
admit to himself, if not to her, that he was afraid. He had
made so many mistakes with her in the past, and this would
be their last chance to make it work. What if they wouldn't
be able to? What if they had changed too much? Colin's
words echoed in his mind as Will ran to Deanna's house.
She was resting after her bath, and he sat on the edge of
the bed, kissing her softly. She smiled. Then they melted
together again, and Will left his doubt behind, at least
momentarily. He knew Jameson had been right. Sometimes love
wasn't enough. But this time it would be, it had to be -
because a life without this woman was not acceptable. It
was no longer possible.
"Deanna." He managed to pull away from her. She smiled.
Troi sensed the sudden insecurity in him before it
registered on his face. "Will? What is it?" Her hand felt
comforting on his cheek. "What happened with Sarah?"
"It isn't important," he said. He rose quickly. Too
quickly; and there was suddenly a hardened look in his
eyes. "Deanna, I don't want to talk about it."
"Will, what happened?" she asked, unwilling to let it go.
She knew she had to press the issue, otherwise Sarah would
continue to stand between them, and it wasn't like there
weren't enough ghosts as it were. "Tell me. We have to talk
"She's in love with Colin Jameson ..." He paused. "Well,
maybe love isn't the right word here. Lust might be more
appropriate. Will turned his back on her, and Deanna let
his words sink in. She'd seen Sarah with Dr. Jameson, she
had noticed their closeness but had simply attributed it to
"She said that?"
"She didn't have to." He turned to face her again, and his
pain struck Deanna as she felt the intensity of the
emotions engulf her.
"How do you feel about that?"
"Deanna, how the hell do you think I feel? Damn it, I don't
need you to counsel me!"
"Actually, Will, right now I think that is exactly want you
need!" she shot back at him, unable to cast aside the hurt
brought on by his outburst.
"I just want to move on ..." He smiled at her look. "You're
not going to let this go, are you?" Her delicate hand lay
on top of his, and he was once again surprised at the
calming effect of her touch, even though, by now, he really
shouldn't be. "I'm angry as hell, and at the same time I'm
relieved. Relieved that she's okay and relieved that I can
let go of the guilt I felt for being unable to make it
"But that's a good thing," she said. "Isn't it?"
There was just a hint of hesitance in her voice, and it got
to Will like nothing she could have said or done. Her dark
eyes caressed his face; searching. Waiting.
"Yes." He nodded. "It is." He reached out to touch her
face. She was as beautiful as she had always been. She was
strong and independent, and her spirit glowed. He loved her
She smiled. "Will, you and I - we will always be a part of
each other. We can't change that." Deanna moved away from
his touch and rose from the bed. Looking at him as he sat
there on the bed, his face turned away from her, he seemed
lost and conflicted. She had anticipated as much, after all
it would have been naive not to realize that they couldn't
just pick up where they had left off. Their passionate
reunion aside, it had been years since they'd spent any
time together. Years of living separate lives and evolving
into different people than they had been on the Enterprise.
Their bond would bind them together forever, but they were
still individuals, and in many ways they had to get to know
each other all over again.
"I don't want to," he said, turning to face her. "I'm just
..." His hand raked through his hair. It was such a
characteristic thing for him to do, and her smile grew a
"Conflicted," she said as she had before, but this time he
shook his head slightly, and she sat down on the bed when
it suddenly hit her. The emotions she sensed from him were
stronger than confusion, much stronger. "You're -"
"Afraid," he said, catching her eye. "I'm afraid, Dee."
"About us," she nodded. "Will, listen - we don't have to
His eyes clouded over, and Deanna watched him as he got up
and started pacing the small space of her bedroom. She hurt
for the both of them, but she refused to give into the
pain. They had to deal with this, and they had to do it
now. Even if it meant ... She felt his eyes on her and
quickly abandoned that particular train of thought.
"This is not exactly the conversation I'd imagined having
at this point," he said. "But I guess we are proof enough
that things doesn't always work out the way they're
"What if they do?" she said, walking up to him. "What if
this is exactly how things are supposed to be, Will? We've
pushed this in front of us for so long. We became so good
at explaining it away that in the end we believed it
ourselves." She swallowed, and he instinctually encircled
her in a tight embrace. "We made the choices that brought
us to this point. We're here for a reason."
"Maybe," he acknowledged. "You're right." He spoke against
her hair. "Were you happy with him?" It wasn't what he'd
meant to say, but once he had, Will knew that he had to
know the answer.
"For a while," she said, and he smiled. That was exactly
the way he had felt about Sarah. He and Deanna had spent
years burying their feelings, or at least allowed them to
evolve into something else, and in many ways, he had to
admit, some-thing more. He had come to depend on her
friendship, her strength, and he didn't want to have to
live without that, without her, ever again.
"Deanna," he spoke seriously, stepping back a little to
look at her. She smiled, and then she kissed him. Will was
slightly surprised, but he wasn't going to offer any
objections, and when he held her tight to him, reveling in
the flowery scent of her, he heard the sound of his name in
his mind, felt her presence everywhere. When the kiss
ended, he looked into her eyes and noticed the small smile
return to her face. "Point taken, Counselor." He laughed
softly, kissing her again, his lips soft and loving on
hers. "I like your 'hands-on' approach."
"I thought you would," she nodded and sobered. The look in
his eyes told her that he truly did understand. Her actions
had had less to do with emphasizing their passion for one
another - after all none of them questioned it - and more
to do with showing him that whatever choices they made
today, they would be forever bonded, perhaps not as lovers
but surely as friends and confidants. They were Imzadi, and
that destiny was eternal. It was inescapable, but how they
let it impact their lives was up to them, it was their
choice. But once it was made, however, that too would be
irreversible. She knew it, and Will knew it.
"I want it," said, so silently that she felt the words
against her lips more than heard them. "I want everything
with you, Deanna."
"I want it, too," she said, stepping back from him. His
eyes followed her back to the bed as she sat down, resting
against the headboard. He joined her, sitting on the edge
of the bed. There was a hesitant look in her eyes, and as
Riker gathered her in his arms he felt her relax into him.
He felt her smile before he looked down at her. "We will
make it work," she whispered, and he nodded.
"Yes," he agreed, "we will."
Riker looked up to see Colin waiting outside his office.
"'Morning," Riker said, opening his door and gestured for
the other man to step inside. Colin did so in silence, and
Will wondered what could be the problem. They hadn't spoken
for months - not since the confrontation on the beach. he
doors closed, and the two men faced each other again.
"I spoke to Deanna earlier. She told me you're leaving
"We are," Riker said, looking at Colin. "Why are you here?"
"Does it matter?" Jameson smiled briefly.
"Not at all." Will paused for a long moment. He still
didn't like the man. But he could appreciate that he cared
for Sarah and that she felt the same way about him. At this
point that was what was important. He smiled inwardly. How
quickly things change. "How is she?"
"Still stubborn as hell," Colin said, "and still in pain.
But she will be fine."
"I'm sure," Riker acknowledged, noticing Colin's inspecting
look. "What is it?"
"I just wondered; that's all. You don't really look happy,
"I am," Will said. "But it takes time. You should be able
to appreciate that."
"I guess," Colin nodded. "But I'd think it would be easier
for you and Deanna - with your bond." He saw Riker smile
and added quickly. "Of course, I could be wrong."
Colin nodded, deciding to not push any further. He had no
right or reason to anyway. Instead he extended his hand to
Riker, and Will took it briefly before watching Jameson
leave the office and disappear out of sight. In some
strange way he felt like the last two years of his life
were disappearing as well. Not so that he would forget
them, he didn't want to, but in such a way that he would be
able to leave them behind and start over.
~ Will? ~
He smiled, closing his eyes. She had to be nearby for him
to sense her, and that fact alone made him feel instantly
at ease. Wasn't that what it was about in the end?
Friendship. Contentment. Love. Passion. Desire. He had it
all with her, and he was certain that she well aware of how
he felt, just as he could feel her loving emotions wash
over him right now.
~ Where are you? ~
"Right here," she smiled, walking through the door. Riker
opened his eyes. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," he promised, "in a minute. Come here ..."
"We'll be late," she protested weakly. He brought her into
his arms, but instead of kissing her, like she had thought
he would, he just held her close, and Deanna melted into
"I love you," he whispered.
Deanna didn't answer, knowing it wasn't necessary, and for
a few expanding moments they just stood there locked in an
embrace, which felt as intimate as anything else they had
ever shared, and they both soaked up the essence of
everything they were together without reservation.
Once they separated, Will looked at her seriously. "I never
thought it would feel like this," he mumbled.
"I suppose it's natural," she whispered, playing with his
collar. The proof was right there. He smiled, and she saw
the happiness and the pride there, written in every one of
his features and in those bright eyes. He had finally
achieved his dream.
"Let's go, Counselor," he offered, reaching for her hand.
The ring on her finger sparkled, reminding him of how much
he had to look forward to. They were no married yet, but
they would be. Soon. "Deanna," he whispered as they exited
"I know," she said, "things will change. But let's not
worry about that right now, Will. Let's just -"
"The 'Enterprise' is waiting for you to beam aboard, sir."
Will tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement. His new
ship was in dock, awaiting his arrival, and Captain Picard
had been quick to offer to bring he and Deanna to the USS
"Yes, let's," he smiled, kissing her softly. She smiled
against his lips. "What?"
"Nothing," she said. "You're nervous."
"Well ..." He acknowledged. "Perhaps just a little."
"I like that," she said, and he shot her a look. "You'll be
fine," she promised, with that incredible light in her
eyes. Will held on tighter to her hand, his love for her
burning as bright as always. "We both will."
"Yes," he said, and then, "two to beam up." In the second
before they shimmered away, she kissed him, and he
responded in kind. Long after they had vanished a word
lingered in their wake.
The word was Imzadi, a word that carried unlimited meaning
and eternal promise.