This is a situation that many writers on these lists have written about in
the past. Including myself. But I wanted to paint a bigger picture of what might
have happened, make it more complete. This is mostly for me because I've been
pressuring myself to write this story for years. Finally, I'm giving in. It
takes place in the past of the future...get that? I decided to post it for all
of you to enjoy if you're willing. Sit back, relax for a few moments, and
forget about the rest of the day.

"Getting Into It"


Setting: Post-Insurrection, just after they beam back from the Ba'Ku plannet.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek and the characters within. The story
belongs to me, except the parts referred to in the movie, Insurrection. Shall we
get on with it?


His vision was just beginning to clear from the affects of the transporter
beam as he caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of his left eye. She was,
without a doubt, most beautiful woman in the entire galaxy as far as he was
concerned. He felt as though she were made for him and he for her. Suddenly, he
wished that he had been able to tell her that before the events of the past two
days so defiantly unfolded. As soon as they had rediscovered each other their
duties to Starfleet had become a priority and they both knew that they would
have to put off what they had craved for so long.

"Commander," it was voice disturbing the train of thought that fought
desperately to stay above surface. All at once he realized that his Captain was
demanding his attention and that Deanna was watching him in a most interesting
manner. He reluctantly let his thoughts drown and brought his full attention
to the matter at hand. That being to get the Enterprise back up to par and to
get the hell out of here.

"I'm sorry, sir," Will said. He stepped down from the transporter pad and
joined the rest of his colleagues on the floor, who were also looking at him
strangely. "I guess I'm more tired than I thought." It was a horrible, inexcusable
excuse. The fact was that he was tired, fatigued maybe. Sleep had become a
stranger to him over the last forty-eight hours and he was definitely feeling
the affects of it.

His captain, Jean-Luc Picard, the most revered in Starfleet gave him an
unsympathetic grin. "You're tired. The rest of us have been hiking through high
elevations, covering at least a dozen miles in one day. We slept in cold, damp
caves, tried to avoid being killed, eating distasteful food rations. And the
part about sleeping is overrated. We didn't get any. Furthermore, I come back
after I've been taken hostage only to find out that my ship is falling apart and
has no warp core."

Will answered Picard's grin with a lopsided grin of his own and squared his
shoulders a little. He afforded Geordi, his partner in crime, a hopeful glance
only to be turned down. He turned back to address Picard, "Hey, Geordi ejected
the warp core without me telling him to. I just want to set the record
straight about that."

LaForge gave Riker an indignant look of disbelief, "You ordered me to eject
it just a second after I did. Either way, it would have gone."

Picard raised a hand to silence his two subordinates. "I just want to know,
Number One, why it is that every time I leave you the ship something happens to
it. I mean, you already destroyed my other ship and this is about the third
time I've come back to a disheveled Enterprise E."

"I just like to have more fun than you I guess," Riker said. "Besides, the D
wasn't my fault. Deanna was the one who piloted the thing right into that

He deserved a good whack in the arm and that was exactly what he got from the
petite companion by his side. "William Riker, you promised that you would lay
that incident to rest."

"Incident?" Will couldn't help but laugh at her choice of words. "You crashed
an entire ship!"

"And the lover's quarrel begins," Beverly Crusher said. Up until this point
she had been silent, content to watch the playful banter between the people she
considered family. However, what she wanted most at the moment was a hot bath
and a soft bed.

Will and Deanna both quieted at Beverly's comment. Neither knew why, but
mostly it surprised them that she would say such a bold thing in the midst of the
entire senior staff. Lovers? Is that what they were now?

"Umm, we all should clean up and get some rest," Picard opted to break the
defining silence that had suddenly descended upon them. However, he seemed to
have the respect that the situation warranted. "Commander, since you and Mr.
LaForge have had the opportunity to make yourselves presentable, I want this ship
put back together and out of the Briar Patch. As pleasant as it was to
experience the Ba'Ku world and way of life, I'll be grateful to leave it behind."

No one sincerely believed him and there was no reason that they should. The
Ba'Ku homeworld, the Briar Patch had brought a sense of magic to all of their
lives. It would be difficult to leave it behind. That magic had changed the
lives of so many aboard the Enterprise. The question remained, how permanent
would those changes be?

Will, now sober from the lighthearted chatter, nodded his acknowledgment and
watched the Captain lead the way out of the transporter room. Frankly, he was
surprised when Deanna quickly followed suit and left him standing there with
the transporter technician who was trying to look interested in the energy
readings of the last transport.

Without another moment's hesitation, Will set out on a slow jog to catch up
with his favorite ship's counselor. It was only a few seconds later that he
did. She was rounding another corner of the corridor, heading for her quarters no
doubt which happened to be on the same deck as the transporter room.

"This can't be good," Will said, making long strides to keep up with her. For
whatever reason, she was in a hurry. When she didn't respond to him, he
offered something else, "We've been back aboard for not even five minutes and
you're already avoiding me."

Deanna rolled her eyes and fought hard to keep a grin from forming. She felt
Will's anxious but playful spirit and it made her slow her pace a little.

"Didn't it feel good?" That made her stop. She crossed her arms and shifted
her weight to one foot. Then she turned and looked at him.

"Did what feel good?" she asked. For a moment she thought he might be
referring to the hot tub and the activity that had transpired there...although to her
disappointment it didn't go as far as she would have liked. She barely had
enough time to finish shaving Will before he had to meet the Captain. However,
they had managed to slip in a few very pleasurable moments.

Will had to back up a step at her sudden halt. He studied her body language
and guessed what she might be thinking. The hot tub. But she would have to be
wrong. "Us, holding hands. We haven't done that in a while." Her relieved
reaction confirmed his suspicions.

"Oh," she said simply. One look into his beautiful blue eyes melted her heart
and an unexpected rush of emotion ran through her. Never had she expected him
to be so excited about committing himself to her after all this time. He was
so eager...just like the first time they had been together. Except he had been
eager for something different then. Now, he was eager for much more. He was
eager for HER. That much was abundantly clear.

She watched his waiting expression begin to fall as she stood there, not
giving him any response. At least not the kind he wanted. Quickly she reached out
and put a hand on each of his shoulders. She let her hands caress both of his
arms until she met his palms and she closed her fingers around them. He
accepted her gesture and clasped her hands in his own.

Deanna closed her eyes and swallowed the rising old, but familiar feelings
before attempting to speak. "Yes, Imzadi. It felt wonderful."

Will's heart soared to hear here say that. Deanna felt it too and she smiled
at the shear joy he was unconsciously projecting. "I hate to say this, but I
need to get to the bridge and get this ship up and running again."

Deanna sighed and dropped her hands. "You sure know how to kill a moment,

Will quickly closed the gap between them, small as it was, and brushed a lock
of hair behind her ear. He smiled at the way she looked from her ordeal on
the planet. Not her usual manicured self. But he loved it anyway. "I'm hoping
that I can make up for it tonight. I'll make you dinner."

Deanna brought her hand up to the one who was still touching the side of her
face. She then realized that she always did that when he touched her face. It
was something that she had never done with any other man. "I might be asleep.
I haven't had much lately," she said.

They both dropped their hands, but they continued to hold on to each other.
"You also haven't had a decent meal. Neither have I now that I think of it,"
Will said.

"Well, if you're going to cook, that's a different story," Deanna said. "But
I can't be responsible if I nod off in the middle of dessert."

Will chuckled and with his other hand he cupped her delicate chin. "I promise
chocolate," he said, almost a conspiratory whisper. He predicted that her
eyes would light up at that prospect and indeed they did.

"Okay, you've got yourself a deal, mister. I'll do my best to stay awake for
dessert," Deanna said. Then Will frowned and gave her one of his puppy looks
that never failed to engender a smile from her. "Now what?" she asked.

"You're only staying awake because of the dessert?" he asked her. Deanna
laughed outright at a face she hadn't seen for years. One that she would never be
able to forget.

Then just as quickly she plastered on a serious expression and broke all
contact with him. "Yes," she said. "You have a problem with that?"

Will grinned and met her expression with a challenging one of his own.
"Deanna Troi, you have no idea what you are about to get yourself into. I'll see you
around 1900 hours. In the meantime, get some sleep."

And he walked off. Deanna watched his back get smaller and smaller. Finally
it disappeared around the corner. She wanted so desperately to throw a remark
back at him or actually throw something at him. But it was too late,
nevertheless. Perhaps she didn't know what she was getting herself into but she was the
empath of the two of them, and he had no idea either.

Deanna took in her surroundings and realized that she had reached her
quarters. She had been walking fast...but for what reason? Sighing, she shook it off
and entered her sanctuary anticipating a hot bath, some sleep, and a very
important dinner later that evening.



The hum of the turbolift invaded his senses and began to lull them into a
state of unconsciousness. It went to show just how tired he really was. With no
one else occupying the moving lift, he sauntered over to the side and leaned
his body against the sturdy wall, which glowed with every passing deck. With a
soft thud, his head followed the rest of his weary body and soon his vision
began to go black as his eyelids drifted disobediently shut. Only the sudden halt
of his ride jerked him awake again and he stiffened quickly, realizing that
someone could walk in on him at any moment. That certainly wouldn’t go over
well for the first officer of the flagship.

The lift doors parted to reveal deck seventeen, the engineering section.
After several long, grueling hours on the bridge and making rounds to the other
departments of the ship, his last stop was a check-up on his chief engineer’s
progress. The Captain would want to know their best possible speed leaving the
Briar Patch and the next available stop for the installation of a replacement
warp core.

He began the short journey to engineering and passed by several battle-worn
looking ensigns. They all were gracious enough to give him a smile or a nod of
acknowledgement. He returned them all in kind and wondered if Deanna would be
busy the next few days with unexpected counseling sessions. While some events
of the last few days had been life altering, some had been damaging. There
were those who were of the opinion that the Enterprise should not have interfered
the way that it had. Others were angry with Starfleet. He knew because of the
chatter he had overheard in the lounge earlier at lunch and a few brave souls
had actually sent him messages of concern over the situation. Some he was
able to answer without much problem. However, there were a few who he would have
to refer to Deanna. It was something that he would have to discuss with her
over dinner.

The way he was feeling at the moment, he too began to wonder if he would be
able to stay awake for the momentous occasion. The very fact that he still had
to cook and entire meal and dessert made him wish in a way that he had not
volunteered for the job. This better be worth it tonight, he thought to himself.

Will found engineering bustling with activity, a site that any commander
liked to see. He quickly found Geordi hunched over a console, collaborating with
one of his lieutenants. Riker made his way across the hectic area and patiently
waited for the engineer to finish his dialogue with the young officer.

“That should do it, Stanley,” LaForge said, “Just be sure that you bypass
the lateral sensors. We won’t be needing them for a while I would imagine.”

“Aye, sir,” the lieutenant replied. Stanley raised his head and saw that
Riker was standing beside them. “Commander,” he said, “Congratulations on the
Riker Maneuver. That’ll be something to tell the grandkids about someday.”

Riker smiled back at Stanley’s outgoing manner. Stanley reminded him of
himself a few years ago. Excited about the little things and always looking for an
opportunity to impress the senior officers. It was something that he was an
expert in. ‘Thank you, Lieutenant. I here that congratulations are in order for
you as well. When’s the wedding?”

Stanley grinned broadly at the mention of his engagement. He and Ensign
Brooks from astrometrics had been an item for nearly two year and their sudden
engagement sparked a round of talk on board the ship. Will had an unsettling
feeling that he and Deanna would be next. Gossip was something that he took in
stride, however, Deanna hated it. She was never one to be the center of attention.
He thrived in it. They were complete opposites in many ways but Deanna had
told him that opposite not only attract but also make the best couples because
they balance each other out. So far, he couldn’t disagree with that theory.

Abruptly, Will broke his train of thought and realized that he had completely
missed what Stanley had told him about the wedding. Silently he cursed
himself for the lack of concentration and struggled to catch the tail end of the

“–I would get married tomorrow and get it over with, but you know women.
They have to have all the pomp and circumstance. I just let her take care of all
that stuff,” Stanley finished.

Riker nodded at the lieutenant’s explanation, hoping that his falter went
unnoticed. Apparently it had because his two companions seemed to act like
nothing had happened.

“That sounds like one hell of a shin-dig. I wish you two the best,” Riker
said. He blew out a relieved puff of air and watched Stanley walk away with a
smile on his face. The boy was definitely in love.

“So,” Geordi said, “You going to the wedding?”

Will sat against the console that the two officers had been working on a
minute ago and crossed his arms. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll see if Deanna’s
going. She and Ensign Brooks know each other. I think they’ve been talking marriage.

“Sounds serious,” LaForge said as he picked up a PADD and began to work on
some sensor recalibrations. Will threw him a questionable look, which caused
Geordi to halt his data entries. “For Ensign Brooks, I mean,” he added, looking
back up at the commander.

“Of course,” Will said with a shrug, “Why would Deanna be concerned about

Geordi walked a short distance to another console and punched some buttons on
its surface. “I don’t know. Maybe Lwaxana’s been on her again.”

Will’s forehead creased and a short burst of anxiety coursed through him.
That couldn’t be the reason that Deanna had a sudden interest in him, could it? “
You don’t think that Deanna would actually listen to her mother do you?

Geordi chuckled and rejoined Riker, “You never know. Face it, Commander; none
of us are spring chickens anymore. Sure, we’re still young, but most people
get married way before they get to our age. Just look at Stanley and Brooks.
They’re in their twenties.”

Will sighed, “You know, I didn’t come down here to be reminded of how old I

“No,” LaForge said, “You want to know the status of the engines and the
situation at the nearest starbase.”
“Read my mind,” Riker said. He shifted out of Geordi’s way and picked up a
diagnostic tool. Will gave it a once over and then began to fiddle with it.

“Well,” Geordi began, “At maximum impulse it would only take another day to
exit the Briar Patch. But I recommend that we go at half impulse. We need the
extra power to divert to other sections of the ship until we can get it all
repaired. The nearest starbase is 221 about three weeks away at impulse.
However, if we can get another ship to tow us in, we could be there in a matter of

Will nodded and set the diagnostic tool down. “I’ll inform the Captain and
see if we can’t get another ship to help us out. In the meantime, we’ll stay
at half impulse. Let me know if there are anymore power problems.”

Riker turned to leave but stopped himself short. “Geordi, when is the wedding
again? I missed that part.”

LaForge looked up from his station and grinned. “Yeah, I’d say you did. What
were you thinking about any way?”

Will straightened his uniform jacket and pivoted all the way around to face
the engineer. “Nothing, really. I’m just tired. The wedding?”

Geordi knew that something was being hidden but he wasn’t going to press his
superior about it. “Next month. The eighteenth.”

“Thanks,” this time Will booked it out of engineering and made his way to
his quarters to send a communiqué to Picard and finally get a couple hours of
sleep before he had to play the role of chef for the evening.


Deanna found that she couldn’t sleep despite how exhausted she really was.
The bubble bath that she had prepared for herself proved to be exactly what she
had needed. There was nothing like soaking in water to sooth soar and aching
muscles. She couldn’t remember being this soar since her academy days when they
were required to go on a week long excursion during her senior year. Luckily
she remembered a few pointers from then and had used them exceedingly during
their relocation of the Ba’Ku.

For a moment, Deanna opted to dress in her cotton robe, the most comfortable
thing she had to wear. Fortunately she did not have duty until the next
morning. That would give her time to think things over and there was much to think
about. In an hour or so she would have to find something to wear to her dinner
date with a certain first officer. Should it be casual? Of course. She and
Will never did anything formal together unless it was of prominence to their
positions on the ship. That would come later though. Right now she wanted to curl
up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and let her mind drift away to a more
relaxing place. Perhaps some meditation would prepare her mind for tonight.

Deanna crossed the room to the rplicator and ordered her drink. She barely
had enough time to sit in a chair before her door chime sounded. “Now what?”
she said to herself. The chime rang one more time before Deanna acquiesced to
its beckoning. “Come in,” she said.

Beverly Crusher was walked it with a portable med kit and tricorder in hand. “
I remembered on the planet you said that your ankle was a little soar from
something. I thought I’d come by and check it out.”

Deanna smiled at her close friend and set her hot chocolate on the table in
front of her. ‘Of, course, Bev. Quite frankly I had forgotten about it.”

“Well, that’s good. I guess it’s not that bad then,” Crusher said. She
knelt beside Deanna and began to scan her foot. “You and Will seemed a little cozy
down on the planet.”

Deanna visibly tensed and picked up her chocolate drink again. “What’s that
supposed to mean?”

Crusher turned on a medical instrument and ran it over Deanna’s ankle. “I
just mean that you seemed a little closer, maybe?”

Deanna rolled her eyes and wiggled her ankle around at Beverly’s visual cue. “
Looks like you’ve done it again, Doctor. Good as new.”
“You’re not going to answer my question are you?” Crusher asked as she took
a seat across from Deanna. “You might as well admit it. The whole ship’s
already talking about it.”

This prompted Troi to get up and begin to pace. Beverly never took her eyes
off of her friend. “Wonderful. You know, Bev, it’s times like these that I
hate living on a starship.”

“Why?!” Beverly said, “I’m thrilled for you two!”

Deanna shot an incredulous look at Crusher. “Beverly! I wouldn’t exactly say
that Will and I are together yet. We haven’t even discussed it.”

“Talk is overrated,” Beverly said. “You should see the two of you. You look
like love-sick teenagers.”

Deanna sighed and crossed her arms protectively over her abdomen. “I don’t
know, Bev. Maybe it’s just the radiation from the Patch. A lot of loves have
been discovered and rekindled over the past two days. Ensign Brooks got engaged

yesterday because of it.”

Beverly snorted and stood up. “Deanna, she and Lieutenant Stanley have been
seeing each other for a year. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to tell you the
truth. And neither is what’s happening between you and Will.”

The counselor began to pace again, letting her hot chocolate grow colder each
passing second. “That’s exactly it. I don’t know what’s happening. It’s a
little frightening to be honest.”

“Why do you think that is?” Beverly asked.

Deanna was taken aback. She hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. It was a very
good question. After all, Will was the person she trusted more than anyone
else. She loved being around him and he loved spending time with her. And she
loved him. God help her, she loved him. It was irrational and seemingly out of
the blue. It seemed logically that the radiation was the cause of their sudden
change in behavior towards each other. She hadn’t felt this way a month ago.
Had she? There had been more flirting than usual lately and she had been staying
later after poker games.

“Deanna?” Crusher’s soft voice wafted into her ears and brought her back to
the present.

“I don’t know, Bev,” she replied, having remembered the question. “Maybe I’
ll find out tonight.”

“Tonight?” Beverly asked.

Deanna smiled at the thought. Yes, she had it bad. “Will and I are having

Beverly smiled back and moved closer to the door. She looked about to leave
but turned back before the doors opened. “You know, Deanna, I felt frightened
too when Jack and I got together. I told you once before that he and I knew
each other for a while before we started dating. All I know is that I was never
scared with any other man. I think it was because I knew that he was the one. I
was scared out of my mind at what would happen. But I was never happier and I
never loved anyone as much as Jack.”

Deanna watched helplessly as Beverly left her quarters. The silence afforded
her the opportunity to hear her heart beating heavily in her chest. Was her
friend right? Was she scared because she knew that this might be it? Deanna
groaned loudly at the frustration that love carried with it. Why couldn’t it just
be simple?

She turned back to look at her now cold hot chocolate and frowned at it. She
disposed of it in the recycler and glanced at the chronometer on the desk. She
still had a while before she had to get ready. “Maybe I’ll take another
bath. I think I could use it,” she said to no one in particular.

She padded away across the room, shoulders drooped, her mind reeling like
crazy. “Well, Imzadi, it would seem that I do know what I’m getting myself into
after all.” Then she started the bath water again.



The steam rose from the frying pan where an assortment of freshly replicated
Betazed vegetables sizzled in a buttery sauce. The smell reminded him of their
nights on Betazed nearly fifteen years ago. Every evening she would introduce
him to the finest of Betazed cuisine, making sure that he learned which
dishes were her favorites. When she found out that he was an amateur chef, he
remembered her eyes lighting up and a request that he cook her dinner sometime. It
was a request that he followed up on sixty-one times as a matter of fact.
Tonight was number sixty-two. Why he kept count, he never understood. Just another
quirk of his she would no doubt find amusing – if she ever found out. This
evening he had other plans.

As the steam began to subside, Riker shut off the manual stove he only used
for special occasions, and carefully added his latest creation to the
concoctions already in place on the finely decorated table. All that remained was to
light the candles and wait for Deanna’s arrival.

He reached out, took a match and struck it, guiding the shining flame to an
unused wick. Just as he lit the last candle, the tone to his door chimed. He
jumped a little even though the company was expected.

Riker quickly blew out the match and glanced down to make sure that he hadn’t
splattered anything on his smart blue attire while he’d been cooking.
Satisfied, one last puff of air escaped his mouth before he said, “Come in.” A
second later he stopped breathing.

Deanna Troi walked in, gave a teasing twirl in her white, almost see-through
dress, and then smiled at his stunned expression. As she stilled, the
fanned-out dress twisted around her legs once and then slowly came to a rest.

“I take it you like the dress?” she asked him.

Will closed his mouth and visibly swallowed. His gaze shifted from the
luxurious fabric draped over her tanned skin to her eyes. The look she gave him
melted his insides and forced his heart to skip a beat. It was the look that she
had given him… a long time ago. But this time there was something different. He
unconsciously cocked his head while he tried to decipher the mysterious
message that those dark pupils possessed.

“Will?” Deanna took a few steps toward him and the light, flowery smell of
her perfume drew nearer. She had become so much a part of him at that moment
Will honestly didn’t know he had been staring for so long.

Riker cleared his throat and then realized, laughed, looked at himself, then
looked back at the woman in front of him. “I’m sorry, Deanna. Did you say

She gave him a huge smile and he was sure that he could feel the warmth of
it, it was so big. “I said, do you like the dress?”

“More like the woman wearing it,” he said. It was true. For many women, the
clothes made the woman. But not with Deanna. She made the clothes and it was
the honest to God truth. As far as he was concerned, she could wear sackcloth
like she was an angel.

“I’ve wanted to replicate it for ages,” Deanna said. She turned around and
gracefully walked to the dinner table. Carefully, she stuck a finger out and
ran it along the velvety flower petals stemmed in a fairly modern vase which
stood in the center of the surrounding food. “I just could never find the right

Riker watched her with utter fascination. “It looks very beautiful on you,”
he said. He really couldn’t believe that she was standing there, in his
quarters, about to give him a second chance.

When Deanna brought her face back up to him, she was unprepared for what she
saw. She had been feeling something quite overwhelming ever since he let her
in the room, but his look only solidified it for her. What she felt was the
purest form of love that she had ever experienced in her life. Not even her
mother could compete with the man standing across from her. For the moment, it was
more than she could take in and she tore her eyes away from his and looked
back at the food sprawled out in front of her. “This all looks delicious, Will.
You really out did yourself.”

Will smiled and joined her at the table. He pulled out a chair for her and
she gladly accepted the gentlemanly gesture. “I wanted tonight to be special and
it has been a long time since we ate a good Betazoid meal together,” he said
as he sat next to her.

“Yes, I suppose it has. I had forgotten that we used to do that,” she said

Will let out a guffaw and began to fill her plate with the food he had made
just for her. “You lie.”

Deanna gave him a guilty look and folded her napkin in her lap. “You’re
right. I haven’t forgotten. Not in a million years. Do you remember the night that
you tried Fikwy? I have never seen you more drunk in my entire life,” she
said as she began to laugh. Will, however, wasn’t so inclined to join in her

He finished dishing out their food and set a bowl back onto the table. “You
know, I asked you what was in that stuff and you said a ‘native flavoring.’ I
took that to mean some kind of spice or something. I never thought that you
would intentionally try to get me drunk Miss Troi. The daughter heir of the
fifth house had more decency than that – or so I thought,” Will said.

Deanna put a hand to her chest, “Me?” she asked innocently. “I would never
try to pull something like that. If I wanted something from you, I wouldn’t
have to resort to intoxication to get it, Mr. Riker.”

Will couldn’t help but smile at her. “Wine?” he asked and held up a bottle
that the Captain had given him for his birthday a year before.

The implication prompted a laugh from Deanna and she held out her glass to
him. “You know, you never had to either.” Her voice sobered and Will stopped
short before the crystal liquid could fall into its container.

“I know,” he whispered and continued to pour the wine. He did the same for
himself and then set it aside. “I just didn’t know it then. But that was then
and this is now,” he said.

Although in the past, Will had never tried to get her drunk or any other
woman for that matter, he had tried other ways, insincere ways to get what he
wanted. Deanna was the first to make him realize that he didn’t have to do those

She raised her glass and watched him do the same. He leaned forward a little
as she began to speak. “I would like to propose a toast to the memories that
we share and the memories to come.”

The promise of her words made Will’s heart soar and he never felt freer than
he did right at that moment. Everything he had ever wanted was within his
grasp. It was staring him straight in the face.

He let out a breath to quell his beating heart. “I would like to say that I
can’t wait for those memories and that somehow, I don’t know why, but I know
that they are there in the future waiting for us.”

Deanna could feel how anxious he was and it did nothing to help her own
situation. Any moment she was sure that her heart would pound its way out of her
chest and land on her dinner plate, ruining the evening for them both. But then
he took her hand and she knew that he could feel everything she was feeling.

He clinked their glasses together, still holding on to her firmly. They both
sipped the golden liquid and placed the glasses back onto the table. As soon
as he turned back to his plate full of food, Will sighed, and just stared at it
for a moment. Deanna did the same but then stole a glance at her companion.
He still had not let go of her hand. “Damn, it. After all this,” he gestured
to the masterful cuisine he’d prepared, “I’m too nervous to eat anything. Can
you just imagine…” he trailed off.

Deanna looked at her own colorful plate and offered a pathetic smile at their
predicament. “You know, we could do this fifteen years ago without any
trouble at all,” her voice carried its own anxious measure.

She felt Will squeeze her hand and her gaze shifted from her food to him
again. “Why don’t we just talk and then we can eat. I have a feeling we’ll both
feel better if we do,” he said. She nodded and he helped her up from her chair.

“What about the food? It’ll get cold and I sure don’t want to waste this.”

Will shrugged and let go of her hand. He took their plates and put them in
the recycler. A few seconds later, their food dematerialized as he saved it in
the computer for later. “There,” he said turning back to her. “Now, how about
we sit down, relax for a change, and whisper sweet nothings into each other’s

Deanna attempted to keep her smile in check but was only partially
successful. “Then can you whisk me away, and tell me that a thousand years with you is
but a day?”

Will recalled the Betazoid poem that Deanna loved to read to him, when they
had the time to do that sort of thing. He affectionately placed his arm around
her and walked her to the couch. “Then I will whisper promises of love in your
ear, tell you of the joys and wonders of the years. I will hold you close so
safe in my arms, and keep you forever always within my heart.”

Neither noticed, but they were now sitting on the couch only mere inches from
each other. Their breath mingled and grew shallower with each passing second.

“I can’t believe you remembered that,” she whispered. “I must have read
hundreds of poems from that book.” Her warm breath traced the edges of his face
and he closed his eyes at the sensations that it produced.

Before he could open his eyes again, he felt Deanna’s moist lips on his own.
The kiss was light as a feather but he had never felt more passion from her
than at that moment. “Will,” she said as they parted. “The things that I’ve
told you over the years about us…about why we shouldn’t do this…they were
wrong. I should have never lied to you.”

Will pulled away from her so that he could look at her fully, propping an arm
up behind her on the back of the couch. “Deanna, you didn’t lie. You just
weren’t ready. Neither of us were,” he said.

“Perhaps, but I know that I hurt you when my words didn’t hold true with
Worf or any other man that came along for that matter,” she said. He could see
that her eyes were beginning to water and he brushed his fingers through her
luxurious hair.

“I guess we’re even, then,” he said. “I deserve that for the way I hurt you.

Deanna desperately wanted to tell him that he didn’t deserve it and that it
wasn’t his fault, but suddenly she found that she couldn’t. He was speaking a
truth that her heart had known for a long time, but for some reason she couldn’
t push it away. She knew that she had to confront it and accept it so that
they could both move on from the past that they had never completely buried.

Will sighed and brought her chin up so that he could look into her eyes. “
Deanna, we’ve both made mistakes but I didn’t ask you here tonight to talk about
the past. As far as I’m concerned, the past is where it belongs – in the
past. But I’m only half of the equation here, and we can’t possibly solve it
unless we work together.”

Then Deanna did something that he had not expected. She began to giggle and
her frustrated expression suddenly turned into one of utter hilarity. “William
Riker, how many times did you use that line in your dorm room at the Academy?”

Riker raised an eyebrow at her sudden change in behavior but couldn’t wipe
the grin from his face. “Now who’s killing the moment?” he said, referring to
their earlier conversation in the corridor.

“How many?” Deanna said in a deep, throaty voice, immediately fine-tuning
her expression.

Will smirked slightly as he spoke. “Okay, more than I can count. But math was
my worst subject. I had to get tutoring somewhere.”

Deanna crossed her arms and pressed into his shoulder. “Are you sure it was
tutoring you were after?”

Will threw her a sidelong glance, “Are we going to talk about the past all

“All right,” Deanna shifted so that she faced him. “Let’s talk about the

Will took her hand as her eyes sought his, “How about we talk about the here
and now. Because I’m ready for whatever it is we’re getting into here, but I’
m not sensing the same from you.”

Deanna shot him a tolerant glare, “Don’t be droll, Commander.”

“I’m not!” Will put up his hands in defense. “I just want to know what’s
wrong, that’s all. It seems to me that our roles are reversed. If history is any
indication I should be the one screaming, trying to get the hell out of here.”

Deanna gave him a half-hearted smile and put her hand on his arm. “I’m not
trying to ‘get the hell out of here,’ as you put it. It’s just…” she rolled
her eyes at her own hesitation, “It’s something Beverly said to me earlier. I
thought I had it licked, but when I saw you tonight, I wasn’t so sure. There
you were standing right in front of me and I had a decision to make.” Deanna
pulled at some invisible lent on the sleeve of his blue shirt. “I’m scared,
Will. I think you know what this means for us now if we make this decision.”

Will beckoned her to look at him again and stilled her hand on his arm. “
Deanna, I’m not asking you to marry me tonight. God knows that neither one of us
is ready for that. But I think we will be one day. Until then, I just want us
to be together because I don’t think I can go another day just being friends.”

Deanna pulled away from him and hugged her body close. She focused on a stray
data PADD resting on the edge of his coffee table. “What about the metaphasic
radiation? Did you think about that?”

Will shook his head in confusion, “What about it?”

“What if we’re just doing this because of the radiation? Do you know how
many people have become lovers because of it, only to be heart broken when they
realize what happened?”

“Of course I thought about that, Deanna. Even Worf told me he thought it was
more than that.” He stood and ran a hand through his hair. “I can’t believe
that you would even think that.”

Deanna scowled at him and tightened her grip around herself. “Didn’t you?”

“Yes! Yes, I did for about ten seconds down on that planet. But then, it all
made sense to me, Deanna. All the late nights and dinners we’ve had together
lately, all the shore leaves we’ve taken together over the years, all of the
innocent kisses…don’t you see? I can’t stop thinking about you.” There was an
uncharacteristic urgency in his voice but he never allowed it to sound

He could see her mouth twitching in the dim light. She was forcing back tears
that threatened to surface. Frankly, it surprised him to see her lose grip on
the sheltered emotions with which she prided herself. It was irrational of
her to do so tonight of all nights and Deanna hardly ever did anything
irrational. They were supposed to be happy and discuss the wonderful things that lay
ahead for them. But instead…

“Do you know what we are getting in to, Will? You and I could very well spend
the rest of our lives together.” She rose from the couch and sidestepped the
table in front of her. “Are you willing to make that big of a commitment?”
Her voice level rose with every word. “Can you stand there and tell me that you
meant those words from that poem when you said them to me?”

“You’re the empath, you tell me.”

“I’m asking you!” Deanna yelled. Immediately he knew what was happening. All
these years she had managed to keep everything bottled up. She had hidden the
fear and the uncertainty. When Thomas re-entered her life it only added to
the disturbing feelings as she was left behind again. These feelings had to
eventually resurface and be dealt with.

“Do you know how much I love you?” He went to her and put his arms around
her. Under other circumstances he might have been impatient or upset. Now he was

Deanna shook, fueled by undeniable fury within his embrace, but it wasn’t
directed at him, rather at the situation that she was forced with. However, Riker
would have bet his right arm that it was him that she was angry with.
Nevertheless, she pushed him away almost violently, but being as big as he was, he
didn’t go far.

“Come on, Deanna,” Will said softly. “Let me have it. Tell me what you’ve
wanted to for years.”

He stood a respectable distance away and waited for what he knew was coming.
Her lower lip started to tremble.

“You hurt me,” a tear ran down her face. “I loved you so much,” another
tear came down.

“What else?” Will said, “Come on, yell at me.” He stood helpless, glued to
the floor.

“I hated you for leaving!” she angrily wiped at the steady flow of tears
rolling down her flushed cheeks.

“That’s it,” Will said, hoping that his steadfast presence would be
something from which she could draw encouragement.

“I thought my life was over. I felt like a part of me had just been sawed off
and I was paralyzed. I would never be able to walk again,” her voice cracked.
“I never wanted to forgive you! I knew that I would never be able to love
another man because of you and I thought that I would never be able to love you

“Sounds like you were stuck between a rock and a hard place, huh?” Will said

“You have no idea,” Deanna said as she took a deep breath to calm her
quaking voice. “You were off advancing your career, having fun with the girl of the
week and I was left wondering if I’d ever see you again!” she said waving her
hands in the air.

Will took a step toward her and then another. He put his hand out but she
shrugged him off. “Then time began to get in the way of my feelings for you.
Eventually, I stopped thinking about you as often and I moved on. Until now, I was
sure that time had healed.”

“But?” Will asked.

“Time doesn’t heal,” she wiped her face again, this time the tears had
ceased their decent. “It only makes you forget.”

Will nodded and this time she let him touch her. He stroked away the
remainder of the moisture below her reddened eyes. “Does it also let you forgive?”
Afterward, he cradled her face in his hands and tilted it upwards. All it took
was one short move and he was kissing her, gently but with conviction.

Deanna returned the kiss with equal fervor and she let her arms glide up his
shoulders. “I think time can let a lot of things happen,” she said as their
kiss broke. A sound caught in her throat as the last of her shaky breathing

Will pressed his forehead to hers and they both closed their eyes. “You know
I can’t be more sorry for what I did.”

“I know,” she whispered back. “I think I’m ready for whatever the future
holds for us.” She was silent for a few moments after that. They stood holding
on to each other and he heard the slow in and out of her breathing. “Thank you,”
she said in a voice almost too small for him to hear.

“For what?” he opened his eyes but never lost contact with her.

Deanna smiled and tangled her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck. “
For letting me ream you out like a first year cadet.”

Will simply kissed the tip of her nose. “What are friend’s for?”

“Mmm,” Deanna nuzzled his neck and began to nip and kiss him just below his
jaw, “I was hoping that we could be more than friends.”

Tongue-in-cheek, Will grinned and tilted his head to give her better access.
He ran his hands down her torso and rested them on her hips. “I was hoping you’
d say that,” he said before he dove his head into her flower-scented hair. “
Computer,” his muffled voice reverberated in her ear, “Play Riker selection
number ten. Half volume.”

They were soon engulfed in the soft sounds of jazz and Will began to sway
them back and forth to the rhythm of the music. Deanna laid her head on his chest
and felt his heart beating steadily below her ear. Eventually she realized
that their hearts were beating as one, and her smile went unnoticed by her

Somewhere behind them, the candles still flickered as the ship exited the
Briar Patch and the stars once again looked in on the impending fate that would
soon be.