by Rachel
Note:    This is a loosely based story on my unfinished story Misunderstandings. 
Like Misunderstandings, this assumes IMZADI II never happened.
DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns Star Trek the Next Generation, Peter David and Paramount own Imzadi, Geeni Francis owns Jonathon Frakes - for now.
Since the beginning of time, the concept of love has brought man both the best and the worst times of his life.  Love, a wonderful conceptual being in fantasy, but in reality an ever changing beast that at times can be sweet and at times can be cruel, at times can cause nothing but joy and at times can cause nothing but pain.
A pain far worse then a twist of a knife, or a blast of a phaser.  Pain that has been known to drive the most sane man over the edge.
Then you may ask, why love?
He found himself stopping just outside the closed doors of the Ten Forward Lounge.  He was angry, furious rater, at his inability to go farther.  He had promised himself he was going to be the better man.  He had promised himself that although his heart felt at its breaking point, he was still going to continue.  He was going to sit in that damn room, he was going to smile, and hell, he may even shake that Klingnon's hand and wish him a fond farewell.
I mean wasn't this what he had wanted all along. . .
Shaking his head at his own question, he felt himself stepping not towards, but away from the doors.  Deep down he knew this is exactly what he didn't want.  He didn't want his. . . this. . . travesty to just end, with all these damn loose ends staring at him in the face, taunting him.  No he didn't want Worf just to leave, because then he would never know.  If Worf just left, he would always be left to wonder what if he hadn't.
No, damn it all to hell, this was not how it ended.  Worf leaving and Deanna broken hearted.  No, Deanna was suppose to end it, and then Worf could leave.  Deanna was suppose to end it, and then come to him and fess up everything, how this relationship was nothing more then her way to get his attention.
Because he hadn't realized how much he loved her until this whole fiasco had happened and if this wasn't a hoax, if she truly did love Worf - then for the first time he had to admit he was alone.
* * * *
"Commander, are you coming or going?"
Will Riker shook his head to snap out of his daze, "Geordi. . . um. . .coming, I guess."
The engineer's brow furrowed, and words hung at the tip of his tongue.  However, the Commander seemed unusally tense, and his body language warned that he was not in the mood to be questioned, so Geordi bit back curiosity.  "A group of us from engineering are sitting together, do you want to join us?"
* * * * *
Will's first thought was to say, no scream no.  He didn't want to sit with engineering, and listen to their boring jabber about the latest warp core technology, he wanted to sit next to Deanna, and not like they often had when surrounded by their friends, either.  He wanted to sit with her like they had on Betazed, like they had when they were in love.  He wanted to put his hand on her knee, his nose in her hair, and maybe his lips on her soft white neck.
But that of course was a pipe dream, because she would be with Worf, her BOYFRIEND. 
Besides, it wasn't a Will Riker thought.  She was only one star in a galaxy of stars and although she was brighter then most, maybe then all he had encountered thus far, she couldn't be the best.
At lease he wouldn't let himself think of her as the best, because such a belief would make him go mad.  Such a belief would mean he had let the best get away.
Which brought him back to square one, outside the door, detesting the thought of entering.
"Sure Geordi, but let me stop by the bar first.  I hear they are breaking into the real stuff tonight and, well, I think I will be needing it."


Rating R - for language, which I feel is necessary to get my point
across - sorry.

Ch 1b

<<Damn it, Damn her.>>

Will immediately felt her upon entering the Ten Forward lounge, she
was there, and she assaulted him before he could even put both feet
in the door.

<<Damn her mind.>>

It was her mind that accosted him, she had let herself go, open,
uninhibited of the walls she expertly placed around herself when the
two were on duty. Walls that made the connection they shared no more
then a mere word. Walls that in the years had help them shield from
the relationship they had decided was no more.

But obviously, tonight she had let the walls down, and therefore he
could sense her, her presence hitting him with a full assault. He
felt her joy, much to his dismay, he felt her excitement, much to his
regret, he felt her love. . .


Oh god, Will wondered how he was going to be able to sit through this
dinner and feel that, that love she exhibited towards that beast.


No, Will was sure no friend of his would do that, steal the one thing
he held more dear then his own meaningless exsistence. No friend of
his would intentionally steal his Deanna. His other half. . .



Will blinked again and was surprised to find himself at Guinan's
bar. He didn't remember how he had gotten there.

"Umm. . . hi?" flashing his trademark grin, Will tried to cover his

Guinan shook her head sadly at the meager attempt, and knowingly set
a hand on Will's arm, "You don't have to be here."

Surprised, Will found the words of the wise bartender both extrememly
enlightening and extrememly annoying.

"I'm First Officer of this ship, if we are throwing a party to bid
farewell to one of our more finer crewmembers, I should think. . . "

Will's words traveled off as he became aware, too aware of Worf's
hand traveling up Deanna's knee.

To his displeasure, he felt Deanna's heart race with sexual tension.

Will found his eyes inevitabtly drawn to their table.

"Sir, don't believe everything you see."

Guinan's words were lost on Will. He was to lost in Deanna's eyes.
He couldn't help but notice they were sparkling like they hadn't
sparkled in so very long. He dared to say not since Betazed. .

"Guinan - Klingnon Ale."

The words flew automatically out of Will's mouth, as he continued to
watch Deanna from the safety of the crowds around him. How he would
at this moment given anything to switch places with Worf. Just for
a moment to feel her love him.

Begrudingly, Guinan reached under the bar to produce the enforced
titanium glass, the only type that could hold the likes of such a

Her mind was muttering something she often wondered throughout the
years, why did she stay?

She loved her job, but sometimes request from clients, like this one,
got to her. Obviously the man was heartsick, and he didn't need a
dose of radioactive acid to cure him. What he needed was a backbone,
a backbone and maybe the courage so seek out what he desired.

Stealing a glance to her left, Guinan took a quick peak at Deanna,
the object to the Commander's affection. Deanna Troi was probably
the only person on the ship who began to understand her, and yet was
the only one on the ship dense enough not to be able to distinguish
the simple feeling of like, from the more complex feeling of love.
The woman could lecture for hours the importance of seeking out your
own true feelings, and yet managed to keep hers locked deep within

Sighing Guinan placed the full glass next to Will.

"Bottoms up Commander."



Listening to toast after toast about Worf was beginning to turn Will's
stomach, well either that or the four Klingnon beers he hand managed to
demolish in close to thirty-five minutes.

"Geordi, I think I should toast Worf."

Geordi, who had been faitfully sitting next to Will, despite his lousy
breath and worsening behavior, felt a sweep of panic wash over him.

"I don't think so Commander. Your doing fine just being here.

Will thought about it for a minute, however being his mind was under a veil
of alcohol, everything seemed like a good idea.

Clumsily he leaned over towards Geordi, and patted his hand, "Come on, what
could I say?"

Geordi gulped at the numerous possiblities that immediately came to mind,

"Sir, right abut now, I feel you could say just about anything."


Again Will found himself given sound advice, and again the words flew in
one ear and out the other. He was to busy drowning, drowning in sorrow,
drowning in beer, drowning at the visions across the room from him.

This thing with Deanna and Worf had started out as a pain in Will's side,
and over the months it had mutated and transformed until finally consuming
him. Months of enduring their happiness had slowly driving him over the
edge, and now, now as he sat he more drunk then he had ever been before, he
wondered if sanity was worth holding onto.

A man as strong as him always had their limits, and his tonight had broke.


Geordi felt something in the air, something about the way Will had been
acting, that set him on edge. Insecure, the passive engineer felt the need
to put his hand out and lay it atop Will Riker's tricep.

"Sir, maybe you should leave. I don't think that Ale has you in the right


Impatiently Will glanced at Geordi's hand. He wasn't angry with his
Engineer, however, right now he just seemed like on more obstruction.
Barriers on this ship came in all shapes and forms, content on driving him
insance. Barriers on this ship had placed themselves throughout the years
all around Deanna, and had seemed more then willing to block her from him.

Gently, trying to maintain his cool despite his raging emotions and raging
headache, Will lifted Geordi' hand from his arm, cleared his throat, and
stood up.

"Excuse me, I believe it's time for my toast to Worf."


A rush of blood flooded Geordi's face, he was horrified. Will Riker was a
man that commanded respect, and seeing him shitface on the brink of ruining
his career was more then the engineer could handle. Maybe he was jumping
to conclusions but the man was acting on the verge of crying, or killing.
Oddly Geordi could not decipher which.

Did he jump up and embarrass Will, in hopes of saving the man's reputation
and possibly job. Or did he let him proceed, and then try to explain to
him in the morning why he let him proceed.

Geordi watched his friend a moment longer, watched his roaming eyes stop
their drunken movement, and focus on an object across the room. Focus and
for a moment lift from his drunken stooper.

"Shit, he knows what he is doing," Geordi thought to himself, and
hesitantly he sat himself back down and prepared himself for what was to
follow. He had a sinking idea what. . . or more who it had to deal with.


Will cleared his throat again, it had suddenly become very parched. It
usually wa a sign from his conscious that he was about to make an ass out
of himself.

However, at this moment he didn't care. At this moment he only cared about
one thing and he hoped, no he prayed that she would understand that what he
was about to do was for her. H


This time, at the raising of Will's voice, the room's chatter went silent,
dead silent. This made Will's chest puf a bit. It was nice to feel the
respect of his crew. Even if it was short lived.

"Ten-Forward lounge, we have gathered here at Ten-Forward Lounge, to pay
omege to our beloved, if not worshipped Security Chief Mr. Worf, who has
expect a promotion to Deep Space Nine."

Will took a deep breath, his world was spinning slightly and suddenly what
he wanted to say was coming out wrong. His words were coming out funny and
jumbled, and it was irritating as hell. He had stuff he had to say. Stuff
that had been weighing on his chest to long.

However, the room was clapping, even Deanna, and her immediate approval of
his speech immediately reflected to him. Right now she wasn't looking at
Worf, she was looking at him, and she was proud of him.

Sadly, as drunk as he was, Will knew her praise was not going to last.


Across the room Deanna Troi had been sitting with Worf, enjoying
pleasantries with Beverly and the Captain. It was a relaxing event, and
she had been enjoying herself. . . for the most part.

Before Will Riker had entered the party, she had been enjoying herself
completely. Worf was being unusually open, and both the Captain and
Beverly seemed of good spirits. The mood had put Deanna immediately at
ease. It felt right.

Then he showed up. He had told her previously under no circumstance could
he go to an event that would showcase something he felt didn't exisist, and
yet there he stood in all his glory.

And then it had started, the stimulation by his presence. suddenly Worf
was a million miles away and the only two people in the room were her and
him. She couldn't concentrate, she couldn't eat, she couldn't even listen
to the conversation going on three feet in front of her face.

She was angry. Not at him, but at herself. Her actions were uncalled for.
She didn't love him, she loved Worf.

And then, to add fuel to her turmoil, she felt his emulating sadness
directed towards her, and like a fool. like a heart-sick teenager she had
met his gaze head on.

Then their eyes locked.

And he stood, and as he stood she came to a gut wrenching realization she
just encouraged something terrible. She had encouraged something that was
going to hurt a lot of people. Worf, Alexander, her . . and most of all

God she knew she had to stop him, what ever he was going to say she knew it
was bad.

But the people around her began to cheer. People around began to clap and
Deanna felt herself being drawn into a false sense of security. Maybe she
was missing something, maybe this siutation was just a little to close to
home for her to look at objectively.

Maybe she was letting her imagination get the best of her. It wouldn't be
the first time she had misconstrued Will's feelings towards her. Maybe it
wasn't as bad as she thought.

So like the masses, Deanna began to clap.


Chapter 2b

Will smiled at the crowds, his stomach was lurching uncharacteristically so
he knew he had to make his speech stort and to the point.

"This evening, Mr. Worf, we are here to salute you, one of the most
competent security officers ever to walk the halls of the Enterprise."


Deanna smiled at Will's words and reassuringly she patted the nervous hand
of the Klingnon sitting next to her. Smiling she mouthed the word relax.


"Relax" her mouth had mouthed the word so poetically to Worf, that for a
moment Will felt his will to continue with his speech waiver. Maybe he
should just sit down now, blame it on the ale, and let her live her life?

But he knew he couldn't. Cluthing on the table for support, he continued.

"Worf, it is mine as well as everybody else's hopes that you find a
stationary life of a space station both fulfilling and rewarding."


"God let me not be blind-sided by him again." Deana thought to herself.
Outloud she just leaned into Worf and whispered, "It is a stationary life,
please don't jump to conclusions."

Worf let a low warning rumble escape his throat.


The alcohol had turned Will room into a total blur, except for one clear
object. One clear beautiful object, that urged him to continue. At least
her presence urged him to continue.

"Although you will be deeply missed by our Security team Worf, I know that
I, as well as everyone else who care one inkling about Deanna, can't help
but be seceretly relieved. Over the months, as the two of you carried on
this relationship, and I use that term loosely, we all knew that it was
just a farce. She stayed with you out of loyalty to your son, and you were
attracted to her because you are jealous of me, and since your not
qualified to take my job, you have decided to steal Deanna. The one thing
that I can not truly live with out."


The room went eerily silent, except for two prominant beating hearts and
the grumble of one humiliated Klingnon.


Before Deanna could blink, Worf wa out of his chair, and across the room,
making grabs for Will's throat.

Picard, followed by a few of the bravest crewmembers, cam closely behind,
hoping my some miracle they could pull the angry Klingnon off the first
officer before someone got seriously injured.

And Deanna sat silently in her chair, with her hands folded neatly on her
lap, dumbfounded. Will's speech was crude, irrational, downright mean, and
yet all she could think of was the last sentence, the one thing that I can
not truly live without.

When he had said it, the very last sentence it had not rung with sarcasm
like his previous words. It had carried more a plea, a plea just for her.

And despite her better judgement, her heart had heard it.


Chapter 2c

"Number One, I order you to sit down immediately"

Will found himself fighting his eyes urge to suddenly close, while
simutaneously fighting his stomach's urge to upheave. On second thought,
maybe Klingnon ale was not his best move of the evening.

And yet, despite his worsening physical condition, he found his mouth was
in full swing, allowing random throughts, thoughts he had found most
private,to flow from his mouth without a care.

The damn in essence had burst.

"Captain, on more then one occassion you yourself confided in me that you
were worried that the "relations" between the two would kill her."


Jean-Luc Picard had been embarrased many times in his life, however, he had
never felt the concern of crew on crew revolt until now. It did not please
him one bit.

"Geordi . . . Mr. LaForge, get him out of here immediately."


Worf stood directly in te middle of the room, safelty away from Will
Riker's throat, while staying protectively close to Deanna.

At this moment, Worf was threatenend. Many times in his life he had been
challenged on the basis of being a warrior, but it had been a while, a long
while, since he had been challenged on being a worthy mate. And never had
he been challenged by a friend.

Be it he and the Commander were not close, they were still friends.

This attack caught Worf completely off guard. And Worf did not like being
taken completely off guard.

One thing Worf knew, is if Will Riker wanted a fight, he was going to give
him a fight.


Deanna took a deep breath, trying to concentrate despite the range of
varying chaotic emotions beating down on her from every corner of the room.

She knew she had to get to Will. . . but she had no idea why.


No . . . god it was like recieving one phaser blast after another. First
his Commander, his friend had spoken those evil things, those fighting
words, and now, as he stared at the first good thing to happen to him in a
long time, he realized her eyes laid not concern for him, but for the very
man that challenged him. For the life of him Worf could not understand why
she acted so defiant, didn't she understand her duty to stick by him.
Where was her loyalty.

"Deanna, I demand you sit down."


Deanna felt her retreat stop, Worf voice held a hint of pleading. Her
warrior was actually pleading for her to stay.

For a moment she felt herself second guess her decesion to go to Will.

But then she had felt him, Will, pull at her again, and she knew she
couldn't ignore him. He needed her, interently whether he knew it or not
she knew he needed her. He needed her, and he had never needed her before.

And to be blunt - his need felt good,. damn good.

"I. .. . Worf I should make sure he's okay. He's obviously in distress."


"She lies, her eyes betray her words."

Worf was no dummy, he could see her longing.

It only challenged him, challenged him and deepened his anger.

"Deanna I leave tomorrow, the Commander can wait, I can not."


Geordi had sucessfully removed Will from the room, and now Deanna found
herself staring at an empty door. Staring and longing to be through it.

He needed her and she had to get to him.

Worf's words ere not without merit through. He was leaving and neither she
nor Will were. Technicall Will could wait.

Accept she knew she couldn't. Will had pressing unresolved issues that
were weighting heavy on his psyche.

Actually, they both had unresolved issues. Will's were just more pressing
then hers.

"Worf, a ship's counselor, my word, must come before my personal problems."


Deanna diverted her eyes, because she was embarassed how for a woman who
prided herself on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -
she had become an accomplished liar in a matter of minutes.


Leaning over, for nothing more then an excuse to free herself from the
Klingnon's unsettling stare, Deanna kissed Worf lightly on the cheek, "Five
minutes, if he isn't calmed down by then I will post a security guard at
his door to make sure he doesn't hurt himself, and I will be right back
here, with you. . . " She smiled sweetly, while keeping her eyes pointed
at her goal, the door, and began to walk.


Her irrational behavior, and unreasonable denial of facts in favor of a
whim from Will, scared Deanna beyond all comprehension. But yet, she could
do nothing but proceed on her path. Her path seemed chosen for her,
whether her mind knew or not.


Chapter 3a

"Geordi," Deanna yelled down the hallway, spotting the duo who had barely
made it ten feet from the Ten-Forward lounge.

Hearing his name, Geordi LaForge stopped. The nearly passed out Commander
that was heavily slumped on him for support stopped too.

Deanna ran to catch up, and held her breath as Will's state came closer
into view. At this point she wasn't sure if she wanted to break out in
laughter, at the sight of the large man barely balanced on the shoulders of
the slight Engineer. Or cry, because if Will was Will, what had happened
back there would have never happened.

Feeling unusually vulnerable and unsure, Deanna effectively put on her game
face, "How's the jackass."

Geordi blinked back in surprise," Um. . .nearly passed out. I wouldn't
worry, what ever he said back there is not him, it's a product of that
Klingnon ale."

"You think?" Deanna inwardly shuddered. That idea hadn't crossed her mind.
Was his emotions only a product of his drink. "You don't think he meant
those things?"

"nahh. You should have heard some of the crap that came out of my mouth
during my partying academy days. By morning he will be himself."

Deanna nodded, she still felt the need to talk to Will. If only to find
out if Geordi was right. "I can take him back to his room, you should get
back to the party."

"Me?" Geordi turned his face to her in confusion, "I can handle him, I
think your attendance to this party is more important tonight then mine.
Being your last night with Worf, you probably want to soak up every secon
you can."

A guilty blush rose to Deanna's cheeks. His words should have been so
true. But they weren't and she was to drained to pretent otherwise.

"Geordi, I can't enjoy my evening until I know the stability of the crew,
and tonight that includes Commander Riker. Besides, he's. . . well, he's
irritating my thoughts."

Deanna bit her bottom lip, the last sentence was a bad choice of words.

And Will's head immediately perked up to reaffirm her beliefs, "Irritating
your thoughts? Deanna I. . .I. . .I love you."

* * * *

Feeling extremely uncomfortable, Geordi began to nervously sway back and
forth on his feet, "Maybe you should take him counselor, maybe I should
leave. . . I mean I really didn't want to be responsible for stripping him
down anyways. Yuck.

* * *

Will put his arm around Deanna, supposedly for support.

However, both Deanna and Will knew otherwise.

"Care to explain this to me?"

Will turned his head to look at her. It had been awhile since he had been
this close to her. His immediate urge was to kiss her. Kiss her like men
kissed women in those holo-movies from Earth. Take her in his arms, tip
her back, and kiss away her need for an answer, her need of Worf,
essentially kiss all of her needs away.

"I. . . "

His head slumped, the Ale had won over him.

* * *

Struggling the rest of the way, with essentially dead weight, Deanna fought
back the tears that threatened to cascade down her cheeks. More and more
she had the sinking feeling that she had been wrong. That in essence a
glass of ale had proclaimed his feelings for her, and stupidly she had

* * * *

"Will, please wake up." Shrugging, Deanna managed to push Will's body off
her shoulder's and onto his couch. His body collapsing into a heap.

"Will damn it, don't do this to me. I deserve answers. I need answers."

Will's eyes opened slightly,  "God Deanna, the room is spinning,"
dramatically he threw his hands over his face.

* * * *

"God that was bad. I'm a coward. She deserves more then answers she
deserves a man, like. . . ugh. . .where is my strength now."

Will groaned, his tongue, the most active part of him this evening, had now
chosen his moment to lock up. He had wanted her alone, alone so they
could talk for so long, months, years even, and now that she was here, here
and demanding he talk to her, his mind was a total blank.

* * * *

"Fine Will, don't say anything, I obviously had your feelings confused, I'm
sorry." Deanna turned away from him, her heart breaking within her chest.
She was so angry, and again not at him, at herself. She had let him pull
her away from a healthy relationship with false hopes. Again she had let
her secret desires for Will win over her common sense, her better
judgment, obviously the truth.

"Deanna," forcefully a hand clamped around the woman's arm, ""Please wait."

Chapter 3b

Remembering Deanna's need for honestly, Will followed the way of the
evening. Finding his tongue, he let the words flow.

"Deanna, I may not be proud of everything I said in there, but I spoke the
truth. Yes Worf is leaving, yes he is going to a Deep Space Station, yes
some people will miss him, but frankly, at this stage of the game, I am not
one of them."

Releasing his hold on Deanna's arm, Will let his hand go to Deanna's
uniform sleeve, and carefully he rolled it up to her elbow. He knew there
were going to be marks there, ever since her and Worf had become intimate
there had been marks there.

However, as the the black and blue marks appeared with each roll of her
sleeve, Will felt his stomach flip-flop. They were the worst he had seen
them, more black then blue.

"Dee, your not a Klingnon, you can't be expected to put up with this. My
god he could kill you."

Deanna defensively pulled away, "Maybe I'm willing to make sacrifices to be
happy. Maybe I love Worf and I am willing to take the good with the bad."


Love. God, the word was back, and now she wasn't just thinking about it in
relation to Worf, she as proclaiming it.

Will shook his head, the introduction of the word love had relapsed his
inability to talk. Here he was staring at her, staring at ugly black and
blue marks on her skin, and he couldn't find the words that he wanted to
say. Words that essentially made her realize she didn't have to settle for
Worf, because wasn't that what her words had meant, sacrifice to be happy.
He was aching to hold her and was faced with the inability to tell her.

He couldn't shake the feeling that if she left, he would loose her.

How could a deaf man speak the magnitude of emotions that were running
through his mind.

"Deanna. . ."

Will was desperate, his pams were soaked, his heart was racings, and his
time was growing preciously short as her patience was growing preciously

"i. . . I. . ."

* * * *

Suddenly a voice perked up in Will's head.

"kiss her"

He ignored the voice, assuming it was the ale, and tried to talk again,

"Kiss Her"

He stopped again. The voice confused him. It was so confident.


The advise seemed sound. How could he rightfully deny it. She was
standing there right in front of him, the most influential, most special
woman in his life.


Will had to agree, and before he had a chance to regain control of himself,
he pulled her to him and pressed him lips to her.

* * * *

Oh my god.

Deanna's body stiffened, as she felt him pull her towards him. She wasn't
exactly sure what he was going to do. Well maybe she knew, she just wasn't
sure if she wanted it? Well maybe she did, she just wasn't sure if it was

But before she could convince herself to pull away, it happened, they
touched on one of the most intimate levels, they kissed.

And as their lips connected, Deanna blanked. No Worf. No Party. No
anger. Suddenly Deanna wasn't Counselor Deanna Troi. She was not someone
nearing forty and contemplating a life filled with nothing but her work.

No she was the forgotten Deanna of nearly twenty years ago. She was worry
free, and she was kising the man she loved, the only man she had ever
loved, with complete and focused intensity.

To her he felt perfect, his kiss was both gentle and firm, both relaxing
and exciting. She couldn't help but think it had been too long since she
had been kissed like this. Way too long.

* * * *

Will felt his heartbeat quicken as she began to return the kiss.

He couldn't help but think how right this felt, how he wanted it to
continue, forever.

Instinctively his hold on her tightened.

* * * *

Forever? Deanna picked up on Will's thoughts and suddenly the nerves
around the base on her neck tightened. The sheer urgency and opressed raw
passion she sensed from him frightened her. This feelings pulled on her
heart strings while at the same time rang caution bells in her head. Yes,
he felt so good, perfect, but could she dare believe it was true?

Geordi's words haunted her.

"Will this is so sudden, please slow down. Your tired, your drunk, and
your not thinking clearly."

* * *

As well as Deanna read Will, Will read Deanna, and her crazed wide stare
told him one thing. By kissing her he had struck a nerve. By kissing her,
he knew she still have feelings for him.

He couldn't help but smile, relief felt so damn good.

The urge to touch her face overcame him, he wanted to touch her cheek,
force those brown eyes of hers to look towards him, not way from him.

Slowly Will let the hand he had been relishing on her waist move up her
uniform, past the curve of her neck, up to the very cheek he desired.
Slowly he tipped her face forward, finding the strength once again to say
what he had been harboring since the very day he had taken commission on
the Enterprise, "Deanna, I need you, I love you, without you I'm nothing.
Please stay with me, save me from this hell of watching you with another
man. I love you."

* * * *


There is was in its truest form, the one word she had wanted to hear, truly
hear from him.

It was better then she had expected.


The word mean so much. Especially to her, especially from him.

It not only bumped up the status of their friendship.

It cleared the barriers.


By uttering it, by accepting it, their long forgotten bond opened, all the
years of surpession the two had forced upon it, upon each other, wipped
out, oblitterated.

Both Deanna and Will felt it. Both silently relished it, locked in each
other gaze.

It was a perfect moment.

And like all perfect moments, it had to be broken.



Will saw a change suddenly in Deanna, her face that seconds before exhibited a lovely glow transformed into a look of concern, almost a look of pain. Her relaxed movements in his arms suddenly became awkward and her cheeks flushed with what he read as embarrassment.


She looked at him, the love in her eyes was still there, but no longer with a sparkle, the love he saw seemed to bring anguish to her.

At this moment Will felt his perfect moment shatter.

"Deanna?" Again he said her name, hoping that maybe it would snap her out of whatever suddenly plauged her.

Deanna looked at him, and then quickly looked away, blinking back tears forming in her eyes, "I had told him I would be back in five minutes." He voice wavered with conflict, and Wills heart sank.

She began to push herself out of Willís grasp.

* * * *


Panic grasped Will, stole the breath from his chest, bathed his face in a cold sweat.

It was happening again. He felt it. They were being pushed apart, and this time Deanna was doing the pushing.

Despite Deannaís attempts, Will held his arms around her tightly, refusing to let her push him away. If he held her part of him, the most fragile hidden part of him, told him, reassured him, that she was still there.

* * * *

Worf was hurt, angry, confused, his pride had suffered irreparable damage, and no one was more painfully aware of it as Deanna.

She looked at Will, she looked at the door where Worf would be knocking any moment, she looked back at Will, and then back at the door.

Geordiís words about alcohol hung in the space between her indecision.

Her empathy was useless where it came to Will, her own emotions clouded out everything else. She knew what she wanted to believe from him, but she didnít know if that is what he truly felt.

And then there was Worf, who had done nothing but stand by her, exhibit undying loyalty to her, and last night told her he loved her. Worf had become a man she hadnít realized was possible, turning his cheek to most fights, turning a kind ear to his son, turning almost a gentle nature towards her. His progress since their relationship had begun was amazing, and she feared what would this do to him. Seeing her here in Willís arms, the night after he proclaimed his love, with the man she had assured him on numerous occasions was no one to fear, the man she had promised was nothing more then a friend.

She looked at the door again, Worf would be here any time, she was sure.

She looked at Will, the horror of what he was sensing from her painted on his face, his arms were tightening around barely allowing breathing space.

"Will, please let go." Deanna whispered, half wanting him to listen, half begging him not to.

He didnít budge, licking his dry lips he bore his eyes into her .

She knew that look, it was of determined Will.

"I want to believe you Will, god you donít know how much I want to believe you and I want to stay with you." Deanna whispered, her eyes again glancing at the door, and then back to him, "But this is so sudden, and I just want to make sure what you are feeling is real. I care for you to deeply to take advantage of one night of alcohol."

* * * *

Take adavantage of me? Thatís a first.

Will looked at her, and although the words she spoke were utterly ridiculous, he sensed her genuine fear. To many years of playboy behavior was blowing up in his face.

He wouldnít go down without a fight.

"Sense me. . ." his voice pleaded, cracking with emotion, "feel me, let down that barrier and feel me."

A tear slipped down Deanna cheek, "I canít."

Tenderly Will wiped away her tear with his fingertip, so much pain. His love for her and her love for him always seemed to cause her so much pain.

He silently vowed given another chance, he wouldnít let her suffer again. He would somehow shield her of pain, all pain.

Will dropped to his knees before her, he had seconds before she expected Worf, and he planned to take full advantage.

"I know you sense me Deanna, I know because I sense you. I know because your walls are down. I know because you wouldnít be here right now if it wasnít for our bond, for our ability to sense each other. You are here because I need you, and deep down I know, whether you are willing to admit it or not, that you are here because you know you need me."

* * * *

Deanna knew if she could die right now that she would die happy. Die with those words. Die with Will standing over her.

She wanted to fall into the arms he had outstretched. Allow him to be the shield he thought of.

But she couldnít.

Deanna glanced back at the door, Worf was so close now, she could almost feel him breathing down her neck.

She looked down at Will, he knew she loved him. He was stronger then he had been earlier.

Worf on the other hand was not as strong as Will, he could not survive her leaving him the night before he left. And poor Alexander would certainty be forced to bear the burden of dealing with his fatherís hurt if she did leave. Right now they needed her.

She only prayed Will understood.

* * * *

"I need you to let me go Will. Be it a night, a day, a week, a month, or longer, I need you to be strong enough, to love me enough, to please let me go."

She sunk down to the floor next to him, allowing herself the opportunity to loose herself in his eyes, "Let me go with the knowledge that every night for almost twenty years you have been my soul thought before bed, and my first thought upon waking from slumber. Let me go with the knowledge that because you are so strong, that I leave you with the belief that you do love me with the degree I love you, and that eventually things will turn our way. Will tonight we realized we need each other, and now I have to believe that eventually, when the time is right, we will be together again. Tonight, I leave you out of loyalty, maybe misguided, maybe correct, maybe not for the man but for the boy whoís very livelihood lies in the balance of his fatherís happiness.

She looked at the door, dreading the knock that would happen almost instantaneously.

She looked again at Will, who wanted more then anything to rebuff her words, but couldnít.

She leaned forward, will full intentions of kissing him on the forehead.

Will jerked his head, again their lips locked in a long soulful kiss, and neither one of them had the strength or heart to break it. Both kissing with the intensity that this would be their last, for a day, a week, a month, or maybe longer.



Finally breaking away, Deanna immediately diverted her eyes to the ground,
"Please get into bed, pretend you are sleeping."

Will nodded solemnly to her request, stood up, and headed for the very bed
she pointed. Every fighting word on his chest had left when that final
kiss had ended.

What could he say to fight her, when in a round about way she had done
nothing but what he wanted, she had done nothing but proclaim her love.
She proclaimed her love, and then simply asked him to wait.

To him it was not that perfect end he had planned, but it was a start. A
damn good start. He hadn't seen such encouragement from her for years.

The knock came.


Turning to Will's mental call in surprise, Deanna met his gaze
questioningly. Her heart fearing the worst, a plea for her to stay. She
wasn't sure if she could handle it.

<<I will wait as long as I have to.>>

A blush rose to Deanna's cheeks, she was surprised, pleasently surprised.
Bringing her hand to her lips, she blew him a kiss.

* * * *
Several years later:

"Come in."

Looking up in surprise, Will found Deanna standing at his doorway.

"Counselor? This is an unexpected surprise." Will looked up from his
terminal and met her questioning gaze with one of his trademark grins,
"Business or pleasure."

Deanna looked about the room, her eyes finally settling on Will, "Pleasure,
if I have to talk shop anymore today I'm going to need my own counseling."

Smiling, she walked in and stopped at the chair oppositely facing Will. In
true Riker fashion she pulled out the chair, turned it around in the
opposite direction, and sat down, stradeling her legs across the back, "I
just thought you would like to know I just had a subspace transmission with

* * * *


Suddenly Will could hear nothing in his room but the beating of his own heart.

Hesitantly, he rasied one eye off the computer screen to look at her. Not
daring to raise the other.

"What did Worf have interesting to say?"

* * * *

Deanna slowly realeased the breath she just realized she had pent up in her
chest. How exactly did one say what she had to say effectively. It had
been so many years since the two had dared utter a single words about what
had passed between them that fateful evening. Choosing to wake up the the
following morning as again collegues, friends and nothing more.

Hell, she didn't even know exactly how he felt anymore. Things had gone
smoothly that evening, she had returned to the party with Worf, acting as
the dutiful girlfriend, and he had remained in his room until Worf had been
safely transported off the ship.

"Well he's finding life abored the station a lot more challenging then he
had originally expected" Deanna's hand found her way to a stray napkin,
where she began to nervously tear the corners, "And. . ."

* * * *

"And. . ." Now both eyes went up from Will's terminal. Either she was
going to tell him the words he had been fantasizing about for the past four
years, or she was going to tell him she was leaving.

* * *

Deanna shrugged her shoulders, "And, he thinks that this long distance
relationship we are attempting to carry out needs to end."

* * * *

I must not jump for joy.

Will bit down on his tongue, hard. Every urge was to jump up from the
table and praise the almighty god for finally granting his every prayer.

But he didn't dare. This was Deanna, and she was likely hurting. He
wasn't sure, given the four years worth of mental blocks they had both put
up. Her feelings were something that he could not readily sense.

Although that small fact would change, as soon as possible.

"Deanna, I'm sorry."

* * * *

Deanna nodded, continually tearing at the napkin. "It was bound to happen
sometime. We are too far away. Alexander hadn't written to me in years.
They both have moved on."

Her palms began to sweat.

Its now or never Deanna.

She looked up, looked into the eyes of the man that she had thought of
every night for the past four years, fondly remembering a few stolen kisses
they had shared.

"I figure it's about time I do the same."

* * * *

Bingo. That was all the encouragement Will Riker needed. Her mischievous
smile after her speech was almost more then he could handle.

Standing up, he walked around the small table that seperated the two.
Walked with tall confident strides until he was standing next to her. Then
silently, without a word, he bent down on his knees."

* * * *

Deep down she had always known he would wait, and be ready when she finally

Still her heart had lept into her chest the moment her plea went to him,
and she swore hadn't started beating until he stood up.

Then of course it began to beat faster and harder then she had ever thought

Watching his approach, Deanna invisioned herself spending the rest of her
life with this man, her imzadi, and all she saw was happiness.

Then she tried invisioning her life without this man, but that's when she
realized that a vital first step had been made. She couldn't invision her
life without him. Once she had stepped through the threshold of his house,
she had set her mind that there would be no more life without him. Once
her mind was made up no one could change it.

Then he bent down, his eyes met right up with hers.

* * * *

For a moment they sat still. Both wanted to touch each other to assure
themselves that this was real, and yet they both feared what would happen
after tonight, where would they go from here. For years they had worked
towards this goal, what would they work for now.

But alone they were only half, and the pull of finally again being whole,
again being one, was to strong of a pull to be denied.

First Will's hand went to her cheek, wiping away the tears of joy that had
made their way down her face.

Deanna's hand went to Will's hair, to to his cheek, to this curious beard
she had been wondering about for seven long years.

Will pulled her down to his lap, he ached to kiss her, the need to finally
have her in his arms would be ignored no longer.

She anticipated his move, she wrapped her arms around his neck and met him
half way.

They kissed.

And both realized that although it took longer to get where they found
themselves tonight, it was well worth the wait.


Why love?

Because for every hardship - there is a reward.

For every tear - there is a memory to live on.

For every wrong - there is a way to make it right.

Because although love can be hard and drive the saniest man insane. It can
also be rewarding, and drive the insanest man sane.

Given the time, and the proper conditions - love can flourish like a rose.
One just must be patient and allow such a miracle to happen.