Author: Pia Pedersen

Summary: Will is not coping well in the aftermath of a failed away mission.


Note: If you like this, thank Carol for her gifts of persuasion. She was the one who insisted that I post it. J 


[Standard disclaimer inserted here.]




The first rays of sunlight seeped in through the curtains, slowly banishing the darkness from the silent room in which silence still prevailed.


It was early, and the male occupant of the room was still lost in sleep, unaware of the daylight, wrapped up as he was in the images playing behind his eyelids. He was dreaming again, battling personal demons, and Deanna watched him, allowing herself this brief glimpse into his soul. He was beautiful, she thought, for the millionth time over. He would always be beautiful to her.


Will’s arm was draped across her body; he was holding her close in his sleep. She felt his tension and snuggled closer to him.


He stirred; dropping light kisses at her temple without opening his eyes. His arm tightened around her, and she relaxed against him, helpless to resist the urge to draw lazy circles on his chest. The feeling of his skin under her hands was incredible, exhilarating.


“Open your eyes,” he heard her whisper, just under her breath, and he did as she asked. His bright eyes met her dark ones … and he looked into the depths of her heart, her soul, momentarily breathless at the trust he knew that she would have to feel toward him in order to allow him to see this, to see her.


“You will never know how much  …”


She listened to the words as they escaped his lips, painful in the honesty they revealed. This man who seemed to always have an answer at hand was at a loss.


“Wrong,” she countered, smiling.  “I already know.”


It was true, he acknowledged, closing his eyes to savor the feeling of her lips, teasingly caressing his chest.


For a minute he gave in before gently pushing her away. It wasn’t that he wasn’t dying to touch her, to hold her close, to just keep holding her. But he couldn’t, not now. Not yet.


Deanna didn’t object, just withdrew slowly from him, easing out of his embrace. The pain of his rejection shone in her eyes as she rose from the bed and threw a look over her shoulder before reaching for her robe.


Will closed his hand around hers just before she had a chance to retrieve the soft piece of fabric lying on his side of the bed, where she had shed it before settling into his arms the night before.


“It’s okay,” she said, and he was once again surprised at how well she knew him. He sensed her smile and ached to bring her back into his arms. But he also knew that she wouldn’t let him. They had been here before, he recalled, and he wondered as he often did lately, why she stayed – why she endured the pain, the anger, and the hopelessness, which seemed to embrace him more and more often.


“I’m sorry.”


She knew he was, and as she turned to him she lifted her hair free from under the collar of her robe. He was breathtaking, as he lay there, wrapped in the sheets, one hand resting under his head, the other one reaching out to her.


 “It’s all right,” she repeated.


Will felt her mental shields fall back in place when she leaned into him and kissed his cheek. Then she smiled. That was so painful that he almost gasped.


“Get some sleep,” she whispered, and he nodded, fell back in the sheets and closed his eyes, blocking out the world all over again.


He turned away from her, and she stood at the side of the bed for a while.


She loved him. Not in the way that two people may say the words to each other in passing, but such that he was always in her thoughts, mind, and heart, every day and night. She loved him so much that nothing else mattered, and that was why she stayed. There was nothing and no one that could convince her that this was not where she was meant to be.


He was crying, he realized, when he felt the teardrops fall on the pillow. He never cried … 


Troi heard the soft sobs and her heart stopped beating for an instant, before she felt her pain dissolve and climbed back in bed. This was where she was meant to be – with him, beside him, for the rest of their lives.


Riker felt the bed shift when she lay down beside him and recognized the wordless comfort of her hand, as she slid her arms around his waist. He held on tight, wanting to feel her body against his, and she complied willingly.


For moments that seemed to drag on forever they lay just like that, then he let go of her hands and turned to face her again. His kiss was fervent, and it took her by surprise for a second before she returned his passion.


He felt her response and sighed inwardly in a relief that was almost tangible. It was not a sexual kiss, even if it was sensual. It was a token of acceptance, comfort and assurance that she would be here, when he was ready.


He whispered another apology into her neck. She said nothing; instead she just held him close.


His tears were salty as he poured his anger into her, reclaiming her lips with his. She stiffened slightly, briefly, at the force of his pain before opening up to him, silently accepting the burden she knew he could no longer carry alone.


He was right beside her, his hands intertwined in her hair, and yet he was far away, she knew, in a world of his own.  There was nothing she could do now, so she didn’t speak, didn’t move.  She only waited.


She was so familiar, so soft ... He sucked in a deep breath, releasing a hand from her hair to let a finger trace the curve of her lips. She quivered, and he closed his eyes.


Shadows flared across his face, and she leaned in to let the warmth of her caress expel them. He looked at her now, a glimmer of hope battling the dark depression in his eyes, and she kissed him softly. 


But in an instant he was gone, his eyes glazing over as he relived the agony and despair of death and destruction. She let him go and fell back in the bed, once again overwhelmingly relieved to feel his body relax next to hers.


He was torn between two worlds, struggling to let go of the horrors that he had left behind, while desperately trying to hold on to the one he had returned to. But the images, the memories, haunted him, and he wondered if he wasn’t slowly losing his mind.


Will turned to her, brought her close and breathed in her perfumed scent. It penetrated his mind, chasing away, if only for a moment, the torturing images of the lives he had been helpless to save. He let her spirit envelope him, drawing strength from it, from her, and she turned in his arms.


“Welcome home,” she breathed against his chest, and no two words had ever meant more to him. He doubted that anything ever would.


He kissed her again, this time with an undeniably need, and Deanna welcomed it unconditionally.


“I love you,” he said, his words a soft sigh against her slightly parted lips. She smiled, and it was all he needed. When he felt her reach out to him again, he brought her as close as possible, willing her to share his every breath, while her touch liquefied and flowed through his veins, slowly washing away the fear, misery, and guilt from his shattered soul.


The healing had begun.