by trylikeafool@gmail.com.

Setting: Pre-Nemesis, Post Insurrection...aren't they really the same thing?

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek, I own the premise.

Warning: It's unedited, and a writing exercise. Short. Enjoy it anyway.


"I just don't think this is a good idea, Data," Will Riker continued his
pacing as he had been doing for the last five minutes. He had a distinct feeling
of deja-vu coming on and the painting in the far corner of Data's quarters was
really beginning to get to him.

"But, Commander, I would not ask if I did not trust you with my cat." Will
looked at the android seated behind his computer workstation in perfect posture.
The way Data always seemed to have an innocent childlike view of life was
definitely refreshing at times. This was not one of them.

"Data," he began, "what about Geordi?"

"Geordi...would not do it. He is allergic to cats."

Riker threw the android an incredulous look. "They have medications for that.
All he has to do is get a hypo from sickbay."

Data cocked his head to the side, "Indeed. But Geordi and Spot did not get
along last time he watched her. He would not do it again."

"Data, last time I watched her, I ended up in sickbay," Will stopped and just
stood, hoping that Data would understand what he was trying to say.

"I do apologize for that, sir. But, perhaps if you were more careful and
nurturing, she would not act aggressively toward you."


Data stopped short at the Commander's answer, not expecting him to be so
frank. He blinked and then sat up a little straighter - if it were possible. "Very
well, sir. If you will not do it then I will ask Mr. Worf."

"Fine," Riker said. His foot cheated toward the door, "Is there anything

"No, sir," Data said.

Will flashed the android a quick grin and wasted not a moment in his retreat.
Once safely in the corridor, his head fell back against a bulkhead and he
felt a sigh of relief wash through his body.

"Take care of Spot," he murmured to himself. "Over my dead body."

It took less than a few seconds for him to get over the idea of a furry
creature meddling in his life and then he was off meet Deanna in the lounge. They
still had a third of the crew evaluations to finish before 0700 hours the next

"Tarkalian ale is not that potent. Really Counselor, you ought to try it."

Deanna stared at the woman across from her at the bar. "Did Will put you up
to this?" she asked the bartender.

Whitney shook her head and began to pour the Sumarian Sunset that Troi had
ordered. "I really find it amazing that you think Riker has that much influence
over me."

Deanna took her new beverage and swirled it around in her glass, watching the
colors change. "He's forever trying to get me to drink something other than
my usual. I just figured he'd try a new source."

"Well maybe he and I agree on something for once," Whitney said. The lounges
bartender had come aboard a couple of years after the Enterprise E was
commissioned. She was a stark contrast to Guinan who much of the crew had come to
love while serving on the D. Her skin was dark, like Guinan's, but her frame was
built lighter. She had a wit and ego to match that of the first officer's. Of
course, Will took an immediate liking to her and they had been friends ever
since she practically came aboard.

"Don't bet on it!"

Both Whitney and Deanna turned their heads to see the source of the baritone
voice. Will planted a quick kiss on Deanna's cheek before sitting next to her
at the bar.

"You'd be proud of me, Commander," Whitney said as she pulled out an empty
glass for Will. "I tried keep the Sumarian Sunset away, but she insisted."

Will, for his part, wasn't surprised. "She does have a stubborn streak,
doesn't she?" he asked Whitney while his gaze remained fixed on Troi.

Troi rolled her eyes and slouched a little, "I wish you two wouldn't analyze
me like this. At least not while I'm sitting here in front of you."

"Sorry," they both said at the same time.

"So what'll it be?" Whitney asked Riker.

Will smiled and looked at Deanna for an instant. "See, she actually has to
ask what I want," Deanna shot him an icy glare, "I think I'll have...Tarkalian
Ale," he said with a wave of his hand.

Whitney unsuccessfully hid her smile as she pulled out the reddish liquid.
"Nice choice, Riker," she said.

Deanna looked at the woman again and narrowed her eyes, "Are you sure he
didn't put you up to this?"

"Deanna, the day Riker persuades me to do something for him is the day hell
freezes over."

Will picked up his drink and held it to his lips. "You do owe me a favor

"What?" Whitney asked incredulously.

"I got you a date with ensign Trotter, didn't I?" Riker said.

Whitney placed the half-empty container of Tarkalian Ale behind the bar again
and then leaned forward on her elbows. "True, you did get me a date with him.
But it doesn't warrant a favor, I'm afraid."

Will played her game and leaned forward as well, "Why not?"

"Didn't Deanna tell you?"

Deanna looked at both of them, "I don't make it a practice to talk about
other people's love lives."

"He was a jerk," Whitney said finally.

Will, taken aback, sat up straight again and palmed his ale. "I for one am

Both Whitney and Deanna rolled their eyes at him and shared looks of
disbelief. "I better go help them at that table over there before I ring someone's
neck over here," Whitney said. Then she was gone.

Will watched her leave and then kept his eyes on the large windows beyond the
tables. They were traveling through a particularly beautiful nebula at the
moment. The washes of reds, oranges, and yellows seemed to captivate him. He
stayed like that for what seemed like a considerable amount of time. In fact, he
might have stayed like that longer except that he realized Deanna hadn't said
a word to him since Whitney left. Her silence pulled his eyes back in her

He found her staring into the shallow void of her Sumarian Sunset, quiet as a
mouse. "So," Riker turned fully back to her, "you come here often?"

He was expecting a laugh, maybe a smile. Even a small grin would do. She did
nothing. If anything his comment seemed to force her deeper into her silence.
Humor wouldn't have worked, Riker reminded himself. There were times when she
detested his humor. But that was only when something was wrong. Something
wrong enough for her not to want to laugh.

Riker downed the rest of his drink and then set his glass down with only the
slightest thump. "You look like you could use an ale right about now,
Counselor. Did something happen?"

The humor was gone from his voice. All she heard was genuine concern for her.
He was incredibly good at switching moods when the situation warranted it.
"Beverly's leaving, Will."

"Oh," Will breathed a sigh of relief, "is that all?"

Deanna gave him a challenging look, "What do you mean, 'is that all?'"

Will shrugged and played with his empty glass. "I thought you were dying or
something the way you looked."

"Thanks, but I think I'll live," Deanna said dryly.

"So, she's leaving, huh? Where to?"

"Earth," Deanna said. "She taking on fleet medical once again. She doesn't
leave for almost a year, but still..." she trailed off.

"Sounds like a good opportunity. Who knows? Maybe she'll like it enough to
stay this time."

Deanna nodded slowly and finished off her sunset. The thick liquid soothed
the ache in her throat that she had been battling ever since Beverly gave her
the news. Not that she wasn't glad for her friend, but they were like sisters in
a way. Such a departure would drastically change their lives to be sure. "I'm
really happy for her, Will. I really am."

"But?" he asked as he leaned closer to her.

"I knew it would all end sooner or later," she kept her eyes on the bar top,
not willing to look at him yet.

Will glanced over the room. "What's going to end?"

This time Deanna did look at him...hard. "How was your day?"

"What?" Will furrowed his brows and leaned toward her again.

"I asked how your day was."

Will sighed started to play with his glass again. "It was okay. Data wanted
me to watch Spot again." He observed Troi's unchanged expression and the way
her eyes seemed to be searching inside of him for something. "What?" he asked.

For a moment their eyes locked and Will thought for sure that he was floating
toward her. He was being pulled in. His gaze traveled from her eyes down past
her nose to her lips. There he stayed, wondering if he should kiss her. But
she made up his mind for him and turned away again.

"You know, it's only a matter of time before you're offered a command. We all
have to move on don't we?" she said.

Will cleared his throat and attempted to clear his head. "Is that what this
is about? Is that why you're so...withdrawn tonight?"

"It's something we haven't really talked about. I think we would be prudent
to do so. Don't you?"

Will opened his mouth and then closed it again. He turned around on his stool
and looked out at he nebula again. "Prudent, maybe. But I haven't had any
offers, Deanna." He chuckled softly, "Starfleet's probably given up on me as many
times as I've turned them down."

Deanna pursed her lips and then joined him in his wonderment of the
multicolored gases outside. "They're commissioning some new ships next year. They'd be
fools not to offer you one, Will. You deserve it more than anyone else in the

Will smiled and looked at her affectionately before turning back, "Well, I'm
not sure if they share your opinion. But thanks anyway."

"Beverly heard something. Admiral Brand mentioned it in passing to her while
they were discussing fleet medical. Of course, Beverly didn't press her for
more information, it wouldn't have been right."

"It's just a rumor, Deanna," Riker shook his head. "I wouldn't read anything
into it."

Deanna turned halfway to face him and placed her hand on his knee to pull him
around as well. "What's gotten into you? You act like you've given up on ever
becoming a captain."

Will took her hand into his although not moving it from his knee. "Deanna, I
haven't given up. I just think it would be...prudent...not to jump to
conclusions. Especially when they can set you up for disappointment."

Deanna squeezed his hand and then extracted it from his grasp. "So what are
your future plans then? What if you are offered a command? In case I have to
remind you, we promised each other that this time our relationship wouldn't turn
out like it did the first time."

"It won't," Riker said.

"Can you really believe that?" Deanna's eyes were large and almost begging
him to understand what she was feeling even though he was no empath. Right now
their bond was blocked, and for the first time he realized that he was the one

"Deanna, we can't have this conversation now. What I can't believe is that
you're on the verge of telling me that we made a mistake and that you're scared
I might go off and leave you again." His voice was reaching the level of
yelling. Deanna grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the lounge and into the
thankfully deserted corridor.

"You don't have to yell, Will," she said after the doors had closed.

"I'm not yelling!" Will caught himself too late and took a deep breath,
closing his eyes. "I'm not yelling," he said in an even tone.

"I never said anything about mistakes, Will. I'm just trying to play devil's
advocate here. There is a real possibility that you are going to have to
choose between me and another ship or that I might have to choose between you and
another assignment. We can't stay here forever, Will. Beverly's promotion put
everything into perspective for me today. You and I have been enjoying each
other's company for nearly three years now. Dating, holding hands, telling each
other how much we love one another. We've left out all of the tough questions
that we both knew were coming. I have to admit that even I didn't want to break
the 'magical' spell or whatever it is you want to call it between us-"

"The bond," Will said for her.

She shot him a look but continued, "Will," she took a step toward him,
"you're going to be offered a command...soon. Beverly's leaving sooner than we
think. It's already started. Q's future, the one that the Captain told us about, is
actually foreseeable now."

"Well, actually if that were true then you'd be dead by now."


"Sorry. You were saying?"

"Do I even have to continue?" she said and just looked at him.

Will closed the space between them and took her face in his hands. He was
about to say something but an officer walked by and he waited until they were
alone again. "Imzadi, if I am offered my own ship, I couldn't really enjoy it if
you weren't there with me. Not anymore. You've become such an important part
of my life in the past three years, I can't imagine the rest of it without you.
Not possible."

Deanna smiled at him and kissed the inset of his palm. The realization of
what he'd just implied seemed to jump out at her. Her eyes became wide, "Then
that would mean..."

"Yeah, I know," Will sighed. "The passing of one of the greats. I had to go
some time," he shrugged.

"If that's the way you feel about it, I'll just stay here," Deanna said,
removing his hands.

Will laughed and pulled her to him again. "What do you say to some crew
evaluations, miss Troi?"

Deanna brushed her fingers through his hair and eyed him suspiciously,
"You're not trying to change the subject are you, Riker?"

"Never," he kissed her. "Come on, I don't want to take all night with these

"What'd you have in mind for the rest of the night?"

"Why don't we go to your quarters and find out?" he said before he kissed her

"Hmmm," she murmured as they broke the kiss. "Good because I've got to feed


"Data's cat," she said as she pulled away from him.

"I though Worf was watching her."

Deanna began walking in the direction of the turbolift. Riker was helpless to
follow. "He wouldn't do it so Data asked me. No one else would take care of
the poor thing and Data's shuttle was leaving in half and hour. I had no

Riker tried to keep the look of disappointment from his face. After all he'd
done to avoid the situation, it ended up right in his lap anyway. "We're going
to my quarters."

"Fine," Deanna turned to him, "but at least let me put out her food."

"No problem. Speaking of food, didn't we forget to eat?"