"Shades of Grey" [working title, subject to change.]
Author: Pia Pedersen
Rating R over all
Disclaimers are in force.
"Are you hiding from me?" She stepped into the Ready Room
on the U.S.S. Titan, scanning the room before letting her
eyes settle on the man sitting behind the desk. "Dad?"
"Mm ..." he said, acknowledging her presence without
looking up from his work. "I need to finish this. Can we
"I guess," she nodded, "will you be joining us for dinner?"
She couldn't believe it, but she actually felt seven years
How was it possible?
"No," he mumbled, finally looking up at her. "I have to
finish this, and in case you haven't noticed --"
"Oh, I've noticed," she said, holding his gaze. "A blind
man would notice, Dad. How long has it been like this? How
long have the two of you lived like this?"
"I don't remember," he admitted, honestly. "It isn't ...
Alyssa, I'll just be a few hours more here, and then we can
Alyssa. He never called her that, except when he was
really serious. It scared her, just a little. She had been
gone for six months, but right now it might as well have
been years. They were both so different, and it wasn't just
her parents, either. It was everyone, everything.
"Dad, I'm not a kid anymore, you know. You can talk to me
about this." She sighed at his cocked eyebrow. "You can."
"Ally." He smiled for the first time since she'd come in
there. "This is between your mother and I."
"Fine." She leaned across the desk, and for a moment Riker
saw, maybe for the first time, the young woman she was, and
not the little girl she had been. "Then deal with it! One
way or another, just deal with it."
"Sometimes these things happen." He looked her in the eyes.
His daughter was all grown up. He had had to realize that
when she had left for the Academy, and it seemed that since
"Is it over?" She had to ask. Well, perhaps she didn't
*have* to, because, as he had pointed out, it wasn't about
her, but she needed to know, needed to know how she was
supposed to relate to the two people, who she loved more
than anyone else in this Universe. If they were no longer
going to be together, where would that leave her? It wasn't
supposed to be this way; they were supposed to love each
other. They were Imzadi - that meant something, she had
always known that, her bedtime stories had evolved around
that concept, and she had seen it in action, felt the
special connection between her parents. And now it seemed
they lived like strangers. It was just wrong.
"It will never be over for your Mom and I," Will said,
raising behind his desk. "Not even ..."
"Not even if you wanted it to?" Just saying the words hurt,
and she watched her father react. "Don't you think maybe
you should talk about this?"
"We have," he answered, "come on." He moved towards her
embraced her briefly. "Don't worry. I'm just glad to have
"I've missed you, too," she smiled as they walked together
off the Bridge.
Dinner was quiet, and conversation was at an absolute
minimum. Deanna watched as her daughter excused herself,
slipping away quickly. Suddenly the room shrunk to half its
"I better go," he said, pushing the chair back, "I still
have some work to do."
"Yes," she nodded, "of course. I'm glad you were here."
managed to smile a little. "Even if it was for Ally's sake,
and not because you wanted to."
"She asked me if it was over between you and I," Will said.
Again, Deanna just nodded, and he looked at her. "She
talked to you, too?"
"What did you say?"
"I told her the truth," Deanna said, starting to clear the
table. "I told her I don't know, Will."
"At least we agree on something," he mumbled, and she
stared at him. "I'm sorry," he amended, carrying the rest
of the dishes to the sink. "That wasn't fair."
"No," she said, not looking at him. "It wasn't."
"It's just --" He paused briefly, and she turned to look at
him again. "I don't know how to do this, Deanna. I don't
Before she could respond, Will was gone, and Deanna closed
her eyes, letting her fingers linger where his lips had
touched her cheek.
Alyssa stopped in the doorway to the bedroom, calling out
to Deanna softly.
"Ally? Are you okay?" Deanna woke up quickly, reacting on
"Yes." The young woman smiled. "I made you breakfast."
"What time is it?"
"I don't know. Early. Dad's up working already." Ally
sighed, turning her back and walked to the kitchen area,
while Deanna showered and dressed. "Does he even sleep
anymore?" she went on, when Deanna reappeared, sitting down
at the table.
"Not here," Deanna mumbled, looking up at her daughter. She
looked lost. "Ally ..."
"You need to be together, Mom. It's the way it should be.
What happened to you? You were so happy."
"Did you cook?" Deanna asked, smiling.
"Yes, I cooked. And you're evading the issue." Ally tasted
the chocolate, looking at her mother. "Please, tell me."
"I can't, because I'm not sure. It just happened. Little by
little, day by day."
"That's too easy. You are Imzadi, and you've been through
so much. You both used to tell me about it, so how can you
just give up on each other like this?"
"There is nothing easy about it."
"I know. I just ... I feel like I've walked into some
mirror universe, Mom! I just wanted to see you, I wanted to
come home, and now I don't even know if I have one ..."
"Of course you do!" Deanna held her daughter's eye. "This
ship will always be your home, everyone aboard loves you,
and we're so happy to have you back here."
"You don't look happy," Ally countered, "and neither does
Dad. In fact the entire crew is acting different from when
I left, and before you tell me that a lot happens in six
"But it's true." Deanna rose from her chair. "A lot has
happened, and not all of it has been good."
"We've lost some officers, Alyssa, a mission went wrong,
and the crew is readjusting to cope with the loss. We all
"This is why Dad is like this, isn't it? He blames
"Yes," Deanna answered. "He does."
"But can't you - why haven't you helped him?" The younger
woman's anger surfaced.
"I've tried," Deanna answered in a tired voice.
"Apparently, you haven't tried hard enough!"
"Will Riker isn't always the loving father you know, Ally.
He can be very hard to live with and even harder to love."
"So you blame him, too?" Alyssa's eyes were burning with
anger and pain as she looked at her mother. "How can you?
He lost ..."
"We all did," Deanna said. She was no longer hungry and
pushed the plate away. "Let's not talk about this anymore.
You will only be here for a few days."
"I know you feel that I take his side, and perhaps I do,
but I just want you to work it out. I don't want to leave
not knowing if you will both be here when I come back the
next time!" Ally breathed deeply. "I know he's a
workaholic, he always has been --"
"Alyssa ..." Deanna's tired voice caught her daughter's
"I'm sorry, but I'd think you would understand what he's
"Of course I do, but things aren't as black and white as
that, and you know it, too."
"Yes," Ally acknowledged, "but --"
"I was devastated when we lost those officers," Deanna
said, willing the younger woman to listen, "and when I
counseled their relatives through their grief, Will was
there. He was there, but then, suddenly, he started
withdrawing, until I could no longer reach him. He stopped
talking to me." Deanna sighed, and Alyssa felt her mother's
pain. She might only have inherited very little empathetic
abilities, but that didn't make a difference now, Deanna's
pain was entirely visible. "I lost him," Troi whispered
despite her unwillingness to draw her daughter into the
middle of the conflict with Will.
"I'm sorry," Ally whispered as well, "I'm so sorry, Mom."
Deanna smiled a little as she rounded the table to bring
her daughter into her arms. She complied willingly, and the
two women stood there for a while, before Ally withdrew and
let a kiss fall on her mother's cheek.
"I love you, Little One," Deanna said softly, and Alyssa
didn't think to protest, didn't say that she was much too
old for that term of endearment.
She just smiled, grateful that at least some things hadn't
The sound of his daughter's voice made Riker look up from
his work. She was standing in the doorway to his Ready
"You can come in, Ally," he said, and she did, albeit
hesitantly. It didn't escape Will's attention. "Since when
do you address me as captain?"
"Since you act like one around me," she quipped, realizing
too late that her mother had probably answered him in a
similar way on a previous occasion. He certainly tensed
remarkably. "I ---" she tried, but he waved her off. "I'm
sorry, I didn't mean that."
"There's no need to apologize. You're just honest. I've
always appreciated that."
Ally smiled, but Will saw the sadness in her eyes ? much
like the one he saw in Deanna's eyes. God, they were so
much alike, it almost hurt to look at her.
He looked down.
"I can't help that I look like her, Dad," she whispered,
walking up closer to him as she went on. "She's still here.
Talk to her."
"This really isn't something you should get in the middle
"It's my life, too. You?re my parents. I want --- I need to
know ..." She trailed off, and Will got up, letting her
rest in his embrace. "I guess I'm not so grown up after
"Mm." He kissed her hair. "I know this is hard, and I wish
you didn't have to go through it. I wish none of us had to,
but right now it's just the way things are, and ---"
"And, what? I just have to be okay with that, just like
you're okay with it? Is that okay?"
"Ally, listen to me. I love you, and I love your mother.
She knows that, and I hope we will get through this, but
even if we do, it will take time, and it will not be easy."
Riker smiled briefly. "Nothing is where Deanna's concerned.
I've learned as much by now."
"If? Daddy, please ..."
She hadn't called him that in quite a few years, and yet it
still had the same effect on Will that it had the first
time she'd said it. His heart melted.
"Sweetheart, you have to let your mother and I work this
out. I don't want you to worry about it. You have to focus
on your training."
"How am I supposed to do that? You've always been the one
constant in my life ..." Will smiled, he couldn't helped
it. Alyssa eyed him seriously. "What?"
"Nothing," he reassured her. "It is just typical counselor
speak. There certainly is no denying who raised you."
"I have a few "Riker-isms stored away, too," she said,
teasingly. "You want to hear them?"
"Spare me," he asked, sobering quickly as he continued. "I
know you wish there was a quick way to fix this, but there
isn't, and in any case you shouldn't be trying to find it.
It's not your responsibility."
"Do you want to make it work?"
"Yes," Will only said, and Ally took a deep breath as
relief spread in her body.
There was still hope.
Deanna couldn't sleep.
She had been wandering aimlessly around the ship for what
could have been hours or mere minutes ? not that it
mattered. Ally was sound asleep, Deanna noted upon her
return to the cabin. She also noted, more than a little
surprised, that Will was resting on the couch in the living
room area. It was the first time he'd slept in their
quarters in months.
She moved closer, only to step back again when,
unexpectedly, he opened his eyes.
"Hi," she said because she didn't know what else to say.
The gap between them was still too wide.
"You raised an incredible kid," he mumbled, looking in the
direction of where Alyssa slept. Deanna smiled a little,
following his gaze.
"I didn't exactly do it on my own, Will," she argued. There
was a pause, and then she continued. "She adores you,
"She just seems so fragile," Deanna went on, shifting her
gaze from her daughter to her husband. "I know she isn't,
of course, but ---"
"You want to keep her shielded," he nodded, "I know. Me
too. But we can't, Deanna. This is real, it's happening,
and she is absolutely involved, although I wish she
wasn't." He sighed. "We love her, she knows that, and she
knows it won't change, no matter what. That has to be
"But will it be? Will, she is in pain over this, you see it
"She isn't the only one," he said, and Deanna stared at
him. He held her gaze. "Well, is she?"
"No," she agreed silently. "She isn't."
Will rose from the couch and stretched, adjusting his
uniform. "I hate that this is the way it happened, but she
had to know eventually."
"Know what?" Deanna asked, and Riker swallowed as her eyes
sought out his.
"That her parents aren't perfect," he said, "that we can't
fix everything, just because we want to. She has to know
that life isn't like that."
"She does, but knowing it and acknowledging it isn't the
same thing." Deanna sat down on the coach, catching the
faint scent of him still lingering there. She closed her
eyes, and Will turned to her. His heart picked up speed at
the sight of her face, relaxed and calm.
"So beautiful," he whispered, without knowing it, and when
Deanna opened her eyes silently letting him know that she'd
heard, he looked away from her. "I should go."
"Why, Will?" she asked, demanding and answer he wasn't able
to give. "How are we going to work through this, if we
"Not now," he said, his eyes burning into hers. "I can't do
"Then when?" she whispered, but by then he was gone, the
doors sliding shut behind him.
"Hi Ally," smiled First Officer Andrew Parsons, gesturing
for her to sit down while he completed his workout. "If
you're looking for the Captain ---"
"I'm not," she said quickly. "I came to see you. There's
something I would like to ask you. Do you have time?"
"Sure." He looked at her seriously. "Although I'm not sure
I have the answers you want."
"You know them better than anyone here," Alyssa let her
eyes wander before once again focusing in on the officer's
face. "You know us."
"I suppose you're right," Parsons acknowledged, "but Will
isn't talking to me about this. I don't know that he's
talking to anyone."
"What happened on that mission?"
The change in the Commander's demeanor was palpable, his
face darkened instantly, and Alyssa felt as if she had
crossed some invisible boundary. "I'm sorry. I guess Dad's
right ? this isn't something I should get in the middle of.
I'm just trying to understand. You guys are my family." She
rose silently. "I didn't mean to ---"
"No." He smiled reassuringly at her, remembering a time
when she used run all over the ship, chasing after her
friends or trying to escape her parents at bedtime. She had
been an adorable child, and to him she'd probably always be
that sweet little girl. "It's all right." He paused
briefly. "I don't like it anymore than you do, but it isn't
my place to tell you what happened, and if you just give
them a little time, I'm sure your parents will find their
way back to each other. They have something unique between
them, and I don't think any of them are ready to give it
"No," Alyssa smiled a little, "me neither. But they are so
"That they are."
"Have they always been like that, even before I was born?"
"I only knew them a couple of years before you came along,"
Andrew said, "but yeah. Both Will and Deanna feel
everything very strongly, which means that when things go
wrong for them, the situation tend to be explosive.
Luckily, it hasn't happened often, and they are both very
careful to not let it impact their professional
"My parents, the professionals ..."
"Don't say that. They are wonderful people, and they love
each more deeply than anyone else I know."
"Yes," she nodded, "they do." She moved to the door and
turned around. "So you think I should back off and let it
run its course?"
"That's what we try to do." He smiled. "Where are you
"Nowhere in particular. I thought I'd check out the
Holodeck for a while. I miss the snow, and it doesn't seem
likely that we'll get to go to Alaska anytime soon."
"No, I guess not, but I tell you what? When you're done in
there, I'll have a hot chocolate waiting for you. How's
"Great, it sounds great. Thanks!"
"It's good to have you home, Princess. We missed you around
"Princess?" Ally laughed a little. "You know how long it
has been since you last called me that?"
"Quite a while," he nodded, "but then again it's been a
while since you were five years old."
"A lot of things were easier then," she mumbled, "a lot
"Take a deep breath," Parsons suggested, "it usually works
"Yeah? How long?"
"About five minutes," he smiled, "ten, if I'm lucky."
"I'll give it a try. See you in a couple of hours?"
"Sure. You want marshmallows with that chocolate?"
"Maybe just a couple?"
His laughter followed her down the corridor as Alyssa
slipped into the nearest turbo lift.
"Have you seen Ally anywhere?"
Deanna looked up from her lunch to see Will standing in the
doorway to her office. Following her silent invitation he
stepped inside and let the doors close, but he didn't sit
"Not for a while," she said. "You look hungry. Have you
eaten anything at all today?"
"That why I'm looking for her," "Will smiled a little, "I
was going to ask her if she wanted to have lunch with her
father. I guess it will have to wait." He turned to the
door, but Deanna stopped him.
"Will your wife do? Even if she is second choice?"
"You're not, Deanna. You've never been, that's the
"A problem?" Hurt shone in her eyes, and Riker cringed
inwardly. If only he could tell her, if only she knew what
he was going through. "Our relationship is a problem for
"I didn't mean to say it like that; it came out wrong. But
"What?" She lowered her voice, responding to his look and
the confusion that emanated from him. "Will, I need you to
talk to me again, let me in. We can't go on like this."
No, Will! Just say it. "
"Sometimes I wonder if getting married was the right thing
for us to do," he said, stepping closer to her. "God, I
"You're contradicting yourself," she noted, "which is it?"
He was quiet for a long time, and Deanna felt him start to
withdraw again. She reached out to him, holding on. "Will?"
"I should have prevented it," he said, from somewhere far
away. "If only I had reacted faster, they would have gotten
out of there alive. But I didn't."
"Will, you're human. No one expects you to be perfect," she
tried, but it was clear that she wasn't making an impact.
"You don't understand," he argued, but the anger in his
voice deflated quickly. That was progress, at least.
"Then make me understand," she asked, "tell me. We've
always talked about things."
"I know. But this is different, Deanna."
"It just is. Leave it alone." He turned away from her. "I
need some time."
"I realize that." She spoke softly. "Look at me, or is that
too much to ask?"
"You've never asked too much of me," he whispered, facing
her. "It's the other way around."
"I'm not fragile," she said. "I can handle you, Captain."
Riker grinned, and Deanna took in a sharp breath at the
sight. He was still such a handsome man, and she loved him.
She was in love with this man, even after all these years
that smile could still make her heart flutter. It was
"I know you can, Counselor," he countered. "Deanna, look
... what I said before, about our marriage ? I didn't mean
it. You know that."
"If I didn't, we wouldn't still be here," she said, simply.
He nodded. "But you did have a reason for saying it, and I
want to know what it is. I think I'm entitled."
"You are, but ---"
"No," she said, stopping him. "Now is the time. You blame
yourself for failing to bring those officers back ---"
"Deanna, we can't do this now. This isn't the place for
"That may be true, but we're going to have it,
nevertheless." Her tone left no room for argument, and Will
was honestly too tired to offer any.
"Yes," he said, settling on the couch. "I feel guilty. They
shouldn't have died."
"Of course not, but Will it was a surprise attack. We were
ambushed, and you did all you could." She swallowed at the
memory. "Most of us did come back."
"I know all that," he mumbled, "and I know that I couldn't
have saved them." Riker breathed deeply. "That isn't the
"Then what is?" She fixed his gaze. Will didn't answer, and
"I didn't think of them, Deanna," he finally said, his
words so quiet and empty that she could hardly hear them.
"When we realized that you were in trouble down there, I
didn't think of my officers, people who I cared about and
who had all been with me from the beginning. They weren't
my first priority. The only thing on my mind in that moment
was *you.* I would have given anything to get you back
"Oh, Will," she mumbled, startled by his revelation. He
looked up at her, his blue eyes filled with sadness.
"Don't you see? They all had families; they all had people
who loved them. But I only thought of you. What kind of
Captain does that make me, Deanna? What kind of man am I to
be so selfish?"
He looked at her, almost pleadingly. It shook Deanna to her
core. It wasn't often Will Riker pleaded with anyone, and
she had no words to offer, no advice to give. Instead she
fell down on the couch next to him, her hands automatically
reaching up to touch his face. She watched him close his
eyes just before her lips found his, and they surrendered -
finally opening themselves up to each other again.
"I love you," she said again and again as she welcomed
every assault of his lips and mouth, each one hungrier and
more passionate than the other. "I love you so much."
"Help me," he whispered. "I need you."
"I'm here," she promised, "I'm here."