"Moments In Between"

Author: Pia Pedersen


Rating: R


Set between “Being There” parts II & III.


Author's note: This story was written just before Christmas and is the fourth installment in a story arc that was never meant to develop --- it did anyway. I guess that will teach me never to say never. But now I have finally gotten it out of my system, and it is the last part. I promise. :-) My thanks to Carol for offering ideas for revisions that I feel made the story much better.  --- I hope you will enjoy.


Disclaimers are in force.






He called out to her softly. She was asleep on the couch, holding Melinda close. His daughter's small hands were entangled in Troi's dark curls. Will swallowed. It seemed so perfect, so right, and yet he felt like it could all vanish in the blink of an eye.


"Mm?" She opened her eyes slowly, hugging the little girl in her arms. She loved this child so much. "Hi Will."


"Lunch is ready," he said, clearing his throat.


"I can't bear to wake her up." Deanna eased away, covering the sleeping child with a blanket. When she let a kiss fall on Melinda's cheek, Will watched in silence. The loving scene called a smile to his face, and when Deanna turned to him, she realized that it was the first time in several weeks that her sense of him had been so relaxed.


"I'll put her down," he said, wanting to get some distance between himself and Deanna. There was time. They didn't have to rush, but Will was growing increasingly impatient. He needed her, all of her, and he needed to tell her, to let her know how he spent night after night sleeplessly hoping for her to be there next to him. "I'll be right back."


Deanna watched as Will carried Melinda to her room. He was still in pain, she knew, but it seemed that he was slowly coming to terms with Cecily's decision, nevertheless. She had tried to help, but so far he hadn't been willing to let her close, and she hadn't wanted to push. He would come to her when he was ready. There was time.




"That was great, Will." Deanna put down her napkin, looking at him from across the table. "I'm glad you're feeling better," she added


"I looked everywhere I could imagine." He rose from his chair and begun clearing the dishes from the table. "I asked everyone I can think of. There is nothing more for me to do." His smile was faint. "She just doesn't want to be found, and I have to accept it."


"You loved her." It was a statement, not a question, and his eyes burned into her with raw intensity. She smiled through the pain she couldn't deny.


"Yes," he said, "I did."


"I know that a part of you still does," she went on," ignoring the sting in her heart.


"Deanna," he began, "whatever I feel for her it can never compare …" Her looked silenced him for a moment, but then he decided that he had to say it. "We're Imzadi," he whispered, the word sounding like a blessing on his tongue. Deanna took a deep breath. "I'm yours, and I always will be. No matter what I do, or where I go." His eyes shone with emotion, and she sensed his need to make her understand. "Can't you see that?"


"Yes," she smiled, her hand resting against his cheek. "I see. I know, Will. How could I not?" Her lips were soft against his, but the contact was much too brief before she withdrew from him


"I miss you," he whispered, reaching out to bring her back into his arms. "Deanna, I can't do this anymore. I need you."


Never before had she experienced such raw emotion from him, and she just stood there listening as he continued. Will, for his part, fought to put into words the feelings that coursed through his body. It was as if he had just been awakened from a deep sleep, and all his senses were heightened tenfold. Her body was molded perfectly into his; it was a perfect fit. Perfect. His hands ran over her curves, igniting soft sounds from her that only made his love for her burn stronger. He bore his eyes into hers as he claimed her lips in a feverish kiss. Deanna tried, but she couldn't deny her own need, and she felt Will's sense of relieved triumph as she clung to him.


"So soft," he mumbled, "so incredibly soft. I've waited so long for this, Deanna. Do you realize how long I've wanted to touch you like this? It damn near drove me insane!" He kissed her again; captured her lips with his in a passionate attack that left her breathless. His hands were everywhere, and she felt herself react to his touch. The look in his eyes was unlike anything she had ever seen, and when he moved to unbutton her shirt, Deanna was powerless to resist. "You're so beautiful," he said, and Deanna let herself enjoy his touch just a little longer before she forced herself to ask him to do the last thing she wanted him to. "Stop?" He looked at her, desire and love flashing in his eyes. His breathing was labored.


She nodded.


"Deanna …"


"Please, Will."


Her eyes begged for understanding, and he let go of her, taking a deep breath to let the air penetrate the haze in his mind. Deanna wanted nothing more than to take away the doubt shining in his eyes. A few seconds ago those eyes had been full of such passion that it had nearly taken her breath away, and now … both his expression and feelings were indeterminate. Troi had never felt such turmoil from him before, and with their undeniable past that fact worried her. She used to think she knew him better than anyone, but suddenly she wasn't so sure anymore. The years of separation had changed him. Truthfully, time had changed both of them, and for a second Deanna found herself wondering if there really was time, or if, unimaginably, it was too late?


"No," he backed away from her worried gaze. "No."


"No?" she whispered, not understanding. "Will?"


"Don't look at me like that!"


"Like what? I'm not ---"


"Yes, you are," he maintained, "that damned look, like you feel sorry for me or something!"


"Sorry? I don't --- why would you think that?" She managed to hold his gaze, but he didn't answer. He just looked at her, and then she felt him close himself off to her. Deanna backed away on her own, needing to shield herself from the overwhelming pain radiating from him. It was a far cry from his relaxed state mere moments ago. "Please answer me."


"Why? It's not like it will make any difference. You told me to stop, and I did." He turned away after a last look on her face. "What the hell more do you want from me?"


"Don't do this. It's crude, Will."


"Yeah, well, I apologize if my feelings are too basic for you," he said in an even tone, turning to look at her again. There were questions in her eyes – questions to which he had no answers. He hadn't meant for things to turn out this way. Will curled his hand into a fist and slammed it down, hard. Deanna gasped, her eyes turning to the open door. Will cursed himself for forgetting about his daughter sleeping just down the hall. "Damn it," he mumbled, "damn it all!"


"Will, it's okay." she tried, realizing too late that it was the absolute worst thing she could have said. His eyes were the darkest blue Deanna had ever seen. In fact they were almost black. She shivered. It was like he wasn't even there. She summoned all her strength as the counselor in her kicked in. She had known it would happen eventually; known that he would have to react, but she hadn't anticipated it would happen like this, and Troi found herself questioning whether Will would even let her close enough that she would to be able to help him.


He gave her a smile, but it was a pale imitation of the one she knew so well. "Really? That's comforting, Deanna, it really is. I mean – what would I do without you telling me that everything is okay?" He pierced her with a dark look. She waited in silence for him to go on, knowing that he would. "It makes me feel so much better about having a wife that left me for God knows what reason, a daughter whose crying is ripping my heart out, and a woman in my life who I want so much that …" He trailed off.


"So much that --- what?" She asked because she had to. But she wasn't sure she was going to like the answer.


"So much," he repeated, "that I allowed myself to forget." She stared at him, not at all comfortable with the look in his eyes. It was loathing, but it wasn't directed at her, she knew. Her plea that he stop touching her had caused him to believe that she didn't want him, didn't love him, and now he blamed himself for pushing her. Deanna caught his eyes and for a minute she saw a crack in his carefully maintained mask of indifference.


"Will, I …" Her words caught in her throat, and he held up a hand to stop her from speaking.


"You don't have to say anything." His smile was forced. "In fact, I'd rather you didn't." He didn't look her in the eyes when he spoke again. "I'll always be grateful for your help," he said slowly, and Deanna's heart stopped.


"Grateful? How can you say that I consider the two of you some sort of obligation?"


"Did I say that?" Their eyes locked. "You have been wonderful to her, to me, and I will never forget the sacrifices you've made to be here." His words were soft, but still strangely distant. "I should go check on her." There was a long silence. "Maybe it would be best if you …" He didn't finish the sentence. There was no need. She nodded wordlessly. There was no reason to try to explain, not now. He wouldn't listen. She watched him disappear from view before she left. There was somewhere she had to be, something she had to do. Otherwise, they would never be able to get past this.




Stephen Ross looked at the woman standing at the entrance to the café. She was a vision; she always had been. But the love that lived in his heart for her had withered away and been replaced by a blind jealousy towards the man, he knew would always have her love and devotion. William Riker would always be first in her heart, and Stephen hated him for it.


"Deanna," he called, and she turned in his direction, a pale smile on her lips. He stood as she sat down.


"Thank you," she said, and he noticed her voice shaking slightly, "for coming."


"You were persuasive," he said, and she looked up into his eyes. They were gray as mist and so different from Will's. The warmth she had always spotted there was gone. Now there was only anger and jealousy, and Deanna felt a pang of regret. Stephen looked away from her; he had never been completely at ease with her empathy, even though he had tried to adjust. "Is he feeling better?"


"You don't have to pretend with me," she said, playing with a napkin. "We both know what you think of Will."


"Just as we know what you think of him," he countered, barely able to reign in his anger. "All he has to do is call, and you come running! He's playing with you, Deanna, and you let him!"


"He's doing no such thing!" Her anger took him by surprise. "You don't understand; you never did. Will and I are a part of each other."


"Yeah," he mumbled, "so you tell me. I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. There are no such thing as soul mates." His smile was overbearing, and she cringed at the thought that he would know her so little. "This is reality; not some fairy tale romance."


"True," she nodded, and he smiled despite himself. He had fallen head over heels in love with her. When she had agreed to marry him, he had felt like the luckiest bastard in the Universe. But he had never really known her, he realized as much now. To know Deanna was to acknowledge Riker's position in her life – be it destined or not. Stephen looked off into the distance.


"I love you," he said, "and I want you to let go of him. I need you to, Deanna. If that makes me selfish, then I guess that's what I am."


"I can't do that." She willed him to face her. "Not because of a romantic cliché of entwined souls. That is not what Imzadi is, Stephen. It's no fairy tale, no illusion. It's my reality, and sometimes it is very painful. Sometimes it's haunting, and I wish I could turn away. But I can't, and I'll never be able to."


"Do you even want to?" His gaze was unyielding. "Do you?" He shook his head, denying her the chance to reply. "Why do I even ask? I got my answer already, didn't I? I asked you to stay, and you went to him anyway."


"You never asked," Deanna pointed out, "you demanded."


"We are married," he said. "My opinion should matter to you."


"It does." She regarded him seriously. "But Will and I are friends, and he needed my help." She sighed. "I had to go to him."


"I see." He didn't, and she was right to say that he never had. Maybe it was because he hadn't wanted to, he wasn't sure. He jumped at the unexpected feeling of her touch. God, how he missed her … "Deanna." He couldn't keep the longing out of his voice, and when she smiled his anger deflated. "You never really gave up on him, did you?" His anger and resentment resurfaced, and Deanna knew she didn't need to answer. He would not hear her anyway. "Why did you come back at all? To rub it in?"


"Of course not. You know that."


"All I know is that if he ever comes near me … well, just make sure he doesn't." He threw her a look. "Are we done?"


"Yes." She stood. "Yes, I guess we are."


The ring slid off her finger, and she placed it in front of him. There would be details to take care of, and it would not be pleasant, but she knew this was the right decision.


"I hope you'll be happy," he said, the sarcasm evident in his voice as he spoke. But Deanna chose to look behind it, behind the anger, and see the man she had honestly loved. She knew he was still there.


"I know," she said, and it called a smile of surrender to his face as he acknowledged her point. Then he left with not one look back at her, and Troi stood there alone for a moment reflecting on her choices and how each and every one of them seemed to always lead back to Will Riker. She smiled briefly. Imzadi. Soul mate. It was so much more than that. So much she had yet to find the words to explain, if they even existed. Deanna doubted it. How would it be possible to put into words how she felt? She couldn't, and, in the end, she didn't have to. She only had to show him.




He was sleeping. For a while she just stood there, taking in it all. It had only been three months since she had come here, but it seemed much longer than that.


"Come here." He only whispered, but, because she had been lost in thought, his words still startled her. "Deanna, come over here."


"I thought you were sleeping?" She smiled, sitting down on the bed. He drew her close, and before long they were lying close together, closer than they had been in years. She shivered briefly before being enveloped by his warm body. "I had to ---"


"Shh." His lips brushed against hers, but she sensed the fire in him, a fire that raged in her own as soul as well. "I don't want to know."


"Will," she tried, "we have to talk about it. We have to ---"


"No," he kissed her again, coaxing her mouth open, "not now." His hands felt so well known against her skin, and she moaned softly at the feeling. "Tell me," he asked, his words a whisper against her slightly parted lips. "God, Deanna, please tell me you want this, too."


"Yes," came her soft reply, "yes …"


For a moment their eyes met, and then Deanna kissed him, finally able let her longing show. Will was slightly surprised by her intensity, but he had waited so long for this, for her, that all thoughts of being gentle were readily abandoned. He needed her more than he knew the words to convey, and when he crushed her to him, and Deanna melted into him, Will knew that it didn't matter.


"I … " he began, but her lips on his ended his train of thought, and she smiled when he looked into her eyes. They were even darker than usual, and when she moved against him, any coherent thought fled from his already fogged mind. He couldn't remember a time when he had wanted her more than he did right now. Not even in the Jalara Jungle had he felt such urgency.


"I need you," she whispered, "Will!"


That was all he needed, and Deanna fed off his heated response. It had never been like this with Stephen, or anyone else, for that matter. With Will it was different; it was unique. No matter how long they were apart, it seemed that all it took was a single touch, and all their shields came tumbling down. It was overwhelming and liberating at the same time, and Deanna gave into the sensations completely, no longer able to separate Will's heartbeat from her own.


"I want you so much," he whispered, his lips hot on her sensitive skin. "I don't think I can …" He locked eyes with her, and then he heard her. It had been so long since she had reached out to him like this that Will was momentarily startled. She only smiled, and he returned it. "Are you sure? I don't want to hurt you, Dee."


~ You could never hurt me, Imzadi, not like this. ~


Her assurance, coupled with the way she moved impatiently beneath him, made Riker's self control snap. He held on tight to the woman, whose spirit he knew as intimately as his own, and with one hard thrust he pushed inside her, feeling the beauty of everything that was her, when she enveloped him from inside out.


"Amazing," he mumbled, when he could breathe again. "You're so amazing!"


"I've missed you." She kissed him. "Will ---"


"Mm." He rolled to his side, bringing her with him. Deanna looked into his eyes, seeing his smile reflected there, and the calm that radiated from him was such a relief from the conflicted emotions that she had sensed from him, even though she realized he had done his best to hide them from her. "I know. You went to see him." She smiled. Of course he would know where she had been. He looked at her seriously. "What happened?"


"It's over," she only said, suddenly feeling no need to talk about it. Will accepted her decision willingly. There was no reason to push, especially not about this.


"What happens next?" Her serious tone demanded his undivided attention. "What to do we do now?"


"I don't know," he said, his trademark grin spreading across his face. "It is almost time for dinner."




He kissed her deeply. "Stay here. I think Melinda is awake." Concern flashed over his face. Deanna sat up. "I think she's coming down with something, Dee. She has been sleeping through most of the last week …"


"She's still an infant," she said calmingly, "I don't think there's anything for us to worry about. She's fine, Will."


"I hope so." He was out the door before he turned around, smiling. "Us?"


"Definitely." She got out of bed, reached for his shirt and put it on. The sight was enough to make Will retrace his steps and bring her back into his arms. Deanna gasped at the passion of his kiss. "If this is what I get for wearing your shirts," she teased, "then why do I need lingerie?"


"I enjoy your lingerie," he reassured her, raising an eyebrow suggestively before kissing her again. "But seeing you in my shirt like this --- I don't know. It just seems so right."


"Sometimes you're very cute, Commander." She laughed softly, secretly touched by his words.


"Cute?" He stepped away from her in mock horror. "I am not cute, Counselor."


"Sometimes you are," she maintained, kissing him. "I love you, Will."


"Mm." He smiled. "Well, if that's the case then maybe cute isn't so bad, after all." He kissed her deeply as if to emphasize his next point. "Just don't get too used to it."


"I'll try not to," she said, watching him leave the room and walk across the hall to the guest room where he had put Melinda down earlier. Her bed was still standing in a corner of his bedroom, but the child had become so accustomed to falling asleep in Deanna's arms and bed that she now refused to sleep anywhere else. He couldn't really say that he blamed her. Will smiled as he picked up his daughter, who started crying as he held her close.


"Hey princess," he whispered, taking a deep breath when he felt her grip tighten on his robe. Deanna entered the room unnoticed and took in the scene in silence. There was still a tiny part of her that resented the lost chances in her relationship with Will. If they hadn't been so stubborn, if life hadn't twisted and turned quite so much, she would have been the one to give birth to that little girl.


"Is she warm?" she asked, walking up to Will, who shook his head.


"No," he said, "at least I don't think so." Deanna reached out, relieved to find that Melinda's temperature was normal.


"She feels fine," she said as Melinda's crying ceased. "I think she's just hungry." 


"Good," he smiled, "I can deal with that." His relief was tangible, and he reached out to her when Deanna turned around to go. "Dee?"


"I just want to get her some food," she said, not turning around. "I'll be right back."


"Look at me," he asked, "tell me what's wrong?"


"Nothing," she promised, looking at him, "it's just --- I love her, Will." There. She had said it. It was out there.


"Yes," he nodded, "I know you do. It's who you are, and I feel so blessed to have you in my life, in Melinda's life. It means everything to me." He caught her eye. "I'm sorry, Deanna." He searched for the words to express just how much he had regretted what he had said before she had left. "I can't say that I didn't mean it, because I did, at that time, and I will probably ---" She returned his smile, and Will continued. "Who am I kidding? There will be times when I will be very hard to live with."


"I know that," she nodded, "I remember."


"This is different. I'm different."


She nodded in agreement. "I know; we both are."


"Do you think we can make this work?" he asked, and Deanna realized that he was truly uncertain. There was a part of him that still was unsure of her affection. She looked at him seriously.


"Yes," she said with a conviction, which wasn't only for his benefit, but for her own as well. She needed to believe in this, in him, and the two of them together.


"Then stay," he asked, "I love you, Deanna. Let's stop running."


"Are you sure?" She swallowed, not wanting to ask but knowing that she had to. "What if Cecily comes back, Will? She is your wife. She's Melinda's mother."


"She always will be," he said, "and I will always care for her. But I can't live my life like this. I can't pretend anymore. I love you with everything I am. That is the way it has always been, and it will never change. It hasn't changed in all these years  --- I think you know that, too."


"Imzadi," she said, and they stood there for a few minutes, both feeling past hurts dissolve and fall away. It simply ceased to matter, and they were both breathless with the magnitude of that realization.


"Exactly," he whispered, "Imzadi."


No more was said, because no further words were needed. The weight and importance of this one word was clear to both Will and Deanna, and when they made their way to the kitchen, Melinda still resting in Will's arms, they both knew that they were now on the way to become what they always should have been: a family.