QD's Challenge:


I'd like to make a request of the list.  It's a very minor challenge; something I've wanted to read and haven't seen a great deal of.  The good news is it shouldn't be too long to come up with, the bad news is I want to see a few people try it! :-)

The scenario is the timeframe between the first 'kiss' in Insurrection ("I kiss you and you say 'yuck?') and the bubble bath.  What happens between those moments to get Riker and Troi to the point where they decide to become lovers again.  Here's the challenge. 

The story can be any format, any style, but:

1.  It will NOT be about shaving off Riker's beard or encompass the infamous 'bath tub' scene as the primary plot (though it can be alluded to, foreshadowed, or started before the story ends).

2.  Deanna cannot be the reason the beard goes (the beard doesn't even have to be IN the story if you'd prefer).

3.  Deanna will explain to Will why she really pushed him away the first time (and it's not because of his facial hair!)

4. The decision to become lovers again will be made *before* that bath-tub scene ever occurs; the intimacy can be either written or implied, but the decision needs to be there in some form before that bath-tub sequence.

5.  Bonus points from me if you write the story in Deanna's POV. :-)



I was waiting for someone else to take QD's challenge, but I was in the writing mood and decided to take it on. Sorry, QD, it's not in Deanna's POV, but I hope it lives up to all of your other "requirements". I apologize for any mistakes ahead of time. It's not my best work considering I wrote it rather quickly, but here you are.

Disclaimer: Characters belong to Paramount, the storyline belongs to QD, and well, Paramount too. After all, they did do the movie. Everything else, I've got dibbs on.

"For the Better"
by Sarah K.

"I thought Iíd find you here."

Riker snapped his head up from the padd he had been studying to see the soft image of Deanna Troi standing before him. He adjusted himself in his seat and cleared his throat. "You could have asked the computer."

Deanna sat down across from him without invitation. "I didnít have to." She watched Will as he continued his work, clearly not interested in a conversation at the moment.

He tapped a few more buttons and to her surprise, shut the padd off. "I just thought Iíd try to figure these reports out for the Captain, when he gets back."

Taking his hint that he was ready to talk, she suddenly decided to shift the conversation from what she had intended when she first showed up. "Itís so beautiful."

Will followed her gaze out of the substantial lounge windows to the clouds of the Briar Patch outside. "Iíve never seen anything more beautiful before."

When Deanna turned back to look at him, she found him watching her instead of the nebula outside. She knew he was not referring to the patches of gas that the Enterprise was coasting through at the moment. "Flattery got you nowhere when we first met. It most certainly will not now."

This surprised Will that she was contradicting what he had just been projecting to her. "Does your empathic sense tell you it was flattery?"

Deanna stared at him, first in defiance and then her expression softened. He saw her jaw twitch ever so slightly as she directed her eyes downward, unwilling to meet his look. "No. Not for along time," she said after a few moments of silence.

Will seemed to relax a bit and folded his hands on the table. Deanna felt her eyes drawn to them. "You know, that kiss in your office earlier, was vaguely reminiscent of the first kiss we ever had."

He saw a faint of a smile cross her lips before she tipped her chin upward in true Deanna fashion. "I let you kiss me in my office. On our first date, I recall being quite surprised by it."

Riker was pleased that her tone seemed lighter. He gave her his trademark grin, "I recall being pushed away then just like a couple of hours ago. Only it hurt quite a bit more at the picnic."

A young waiter then came and set some drinks in front of them just as Deanna was about to respond. She waited, however, until the young man was out of earshot. "I hardly knew you. To me, you were a young, hot shot officer who was too big for his britches, so to speak."

Will raised his eyebrows at her completely human statement. Taking a sip of his drink, Will met her eyes to catch her expression. "I saw you as someone who was about to change my life forever. I didnít know for sure, but I had a feeling that I was about to get myself in a lot of trouble."

Deanna smiled at that. She picked up her glass of pink liquid and held it up as if she was about to toast him. "You did. Putting up with a Troi is no small task. Although, I think youíve handled it quite well so far."

"Why did you push me away?" He watched hand freeze as she was lifting her glass the her lips.

She quickly took a drink and appeared as if she was trying to bye time. "You were moving too fast. Itís not customary on Betazed -"

Will shook his head and cut her off in mid sentence, "No," he paused and deliberately caught her attention with his eyes. "But is it customary to push someone away that youíve known for almost fifteen years? Iíve kissed you plenty of times with a beard and you never acted like it bothered you."

He saw her look down again and she pursed her lips. Riker could have sworn that she was about to cry, but she didnĎt. "I fell in love with you on Betazed. I didnít know you as a friend. It never even crossed my mind to consider you as just a friend. Now, however, thatís all weíve known for the past twelve years on the Enterprise. We both have changed dramatically, no doubt. Youíre a different person," she gestured at him rather sharply, causing him to be taken aback a little.

Will took in a deep breath, judging that this was going to be a somewhat difficult conversation. "I have changed. But Iíd like to think that I changed for the better. When I look at how youíve changed, itís amazing. Youíre more beautiful, smarter, wiser, and so easy to fall in love with again."

His confession startled her, and that startled him. She simply stared at him for nearly a minute without moving. Then she smoothed her hands lightly on the table. "I think you may be moving too fast again."

Will furrowed his brow as he felt a certain emotion coming from her, but he couldnĎt put his finger on it. "It wasnít the beard at all. Was it?"

Deanna visibly swallowed. She looked at him with dark, pleading eyes to try to make him understand. "We know each other as friends, but if we are together again, as a couple, how will we see each other then?"

Riker took her two smaller hands in his. "Deanna, I canít remember a time when we didnít feel comfortable around each other. It never mattered whether we were together or not."

She took her hands away from him, afraid to touch him yet. "I fell in love with who you were. When Thomas came aboard, I fell in love with him because he was like I remembered him. He didnít give up. He wouldnít take no for an answer."

Realization dawned on him. "And I did." They had never talked about the whyĎs of there situation before, but now was as good time as any. Now was a necessity. "You and I had a comfortable friendship. I loved you too much to try and force myself upon you when you didnít want it. Youíve pushed me away lots of times in the past. I just didnít want to fight with you."

Deanna gripped her glass tightly and Will saw her knuckles turn white. "If you had loved me as much as you suggest, I would have thought that you would have fought tooth and nail for me."

Will cringed at the tone of her voice. She was, no doubt, upset. It was beginning to affect him as well. "Well, maybe I was too big for my britches. I had a lot of pride inside of me. I wasnít going to let you control our relationship. I didnít want to be the one crawling back," he shot an contrite look at her. "It was stupid and I almost lost you because of it."

Deanna crossed her arms over her stomach and leaned back. Her cross expression only seeming to grow by the second. "Is that how you see me now? Crawling back to you?"

Will felt his gut turn and grow hot. But he wasnĎt going to play her game. He forced himself to calm down and give her a acquiescent look in return. "No. I see two people who were both too prideful to admit anything to each other. But, today, I see one person who is the hero in all of this. You."

DeannaĎs eyebrows shot up, "Hero? What kind of designation is that?"

Will shrugged and then pinned her with a serious gaze. "Weíve been frustrated beyond belief for years, Deanna. You were the one brave enough to risk what we have to ease that frustration. You gave me the opportunity in the library to see where you stood. You stood above me in every way. But you opened the door for me to tell you where I want us to go together."

Deanna shifted uncomfortably, "Where is that?"

Riker took her hands again, this time, she did not resist. He spoke quietly, in a soothing tone. "You changed my life forever. The way I see it, we havenít even started yet."

She gripped his hands more tightly as she struggled with the battle raging inside of her. They both knew that there would be no turning back. "If we do start, I donít want to stop."

Will matched her grip with his own. He did his best to send as many comforting feelings as he could muster. However, he was doing it as much for himself as for her. "I canít imagine a future without you, Deanna. I never could."

She saw a light in his eyes that she hadnĎt seen in a very long time. They were so blue. Bluer than she ever remembered. "Neither can I."

Will offered her a big smile, tongue in cheek. "I would ask you to marry me right now, but I kind of like the element of surprise."

Deanna chuckled despite the feelings she was harboring inside. He never failed to make her feel better. But it didnĎt force those feelings away. She felt herself sober and she locked her eyes with his. "Iím scared, Will. Whatís going to happen now that we have to get to know each other again as lovers?"

WillĎs smile never left his face as he shook his head at her in amazement. "Something incredible. I can already feel it. If it makes you feel any better, IĎm a little scared too."

Deanna felt her apprehensiveness begin to slide away. "I know. I felt that in my office." Her accent took on a more playful bearing. "But, before we embark on this incredible adventure together, would you do something for me?"

Riker saw her eyes move to his beard and he slid his hands away from hers, putting them up in defense. "No. Absolutely not."

Deanna aloud a slyness to overcome her as she lifted her big, puppy eyes to him. He never fell short of being suckered into it. "It would make me more comfortable...help me ease back into our relationship together. As I recall, we used to have a lot of fun with that razor."

Will tipped his head back and let out a frustrated sigh. Looking back down at her, he consented. "Okay, fine. But only on one condition."

Deanna took his hands, "You scratch my back, I scratch yours?"

WillĎs smile grew and he leaned in closer to her. "Exactly what I had in mind, Counselor."

There faces were mere inches apart now. She whispered conspiratorially at him, "You start the bubbles, Iíll get the razor."

They both abruptly stood up, but Will stopped midway and threw a glance at her. "You still have the razor?"

Deanna straightened her stance and placed her hands on her hips. "Iíve been in love for fifteen years, Commander. I wasnít about to get rid of one of my favorite souvenirs."

"Future opportunities?" Will suggestively smiled at her.

Deanna took a step to where she stood next to him. "Do you know how long Iíve wanted to do this?"

Will judged the eagerness in her voice and hoped he wasnĎt wrong. "My guess would be a while."

"Which is why youíd better hurry and start the bubbles," she gave him a slight push toward the doors of the lounge, but quickly caught up to him and hooked her arms through his.

As they walked out together toward his quarters, he looked down at her and decided to wrap his arm around her. "Weíre going to have a lot of fun together, you know?"

"I donít think Iím so scared anymore," she returned his gesture with her own.

Will looked away from her and back down the hallway. Deanna could see a hint of a smile playing on his lips. "Good, because I didnít want to get cut while being shaved."

She pulled back from him slightly and gave him and unbelieving look. "Iím not that clumsy when Iím nervous."

"You used to be," he stated fact.

They arrived at the turbolift and Deanna was first to move inside. "Iíve changed, remember?"

Riker followed her and took her in his arms just before the lift doors closed, "For the better."

Outside, two ensigns watched their Commander and Counselor engage in what seemed to be a very promising kiss as the lift doors closed. Tossing an amused glance at each other, they continued their walk to the lounge to see the fantastic view of the Briar Patch that everyone had been talking about.