Warning!!! The following was born from too many hours of chatting
and way too much coffee. This is what happens when you give two
bored women computers, access to the internet, and overly active
imaginations. Any mistakes or misspellings were my responsibility to
fix, if you notice them please direct all gripes to me and they will
be promptly ignored. (Kidding constructive feedback is more than

Co-Authors: Patty and Austenwoolf (We rode one of those lame two person
bikes for this one.)

Disclaimer: Hmmm. I cannot remember who really owns them. I just
know it's not us.

Synopsis: This is an answer to the challenge posted a few days ago
by SJ. What would Will do on a forced day off? But in truth there
is really no plot.

Rated: PG-13 Because it sounds good.

Morning Rituals

"Sometimes I think Beverly takes a perverse joy in torturing
me." Will whined. Deanna gave him a look of patient amusement from
across the breakfast table.

"Beverly is doing this for your own good and I'm sure she
only finds it mildly enjoyable," she said as she spread a thick slab
of butter on her warm croissant.

"My own good," Riker stated under his breath, not believing
that the woman he loved was siding with the chief medical officer.
He leaned in closer towards the center of the table, as if he were
going to tell her a great secret. "I'm telling you, Deanna that
woman is a sadist. She loves restricting me from duty. Personally,
I'm starting to wonder about her medical credentials."

Deanna shook her head in disbelief, but remained silent.
After three days of listening to his whining, she knew he would not
stop until he was done with his tirade. "I tell you," He
continued. "Everyone's ganging up on me. Even the Capitan agreed
that I should take the time off. And Data, oh don't even get me
started on him." He said, pausing only to catch his
breath. "Mister. . . 'As humans age their bodies are unable to heal
as quickly as they would in their youth'. He actually had the
audacity to tell me I was 'getting to that age'. He huffed. "Can you
believe that?" He stopped speaking and gave her a questioning
look. "What the hell are you snickering at?"

Deanna swallowed her croissant, choking it down along with
her chuckle. "Nothing," she said innocently. "I really would love
to continue this whining session of yours, and if you'd like to go on
and on and on with this, I'll be in my office. Feel free to make an
appointment. But, right now, I have to get going. To assist real
patients with real problems." She drank the last of her coffee and
stood up quickly from the table, before he had a chance to respond.
Riker could hear her giggling softly as she started her morning

He leaned back in his chair, scowling at the contents of his
coffee cup. He was three days into a five-day long forced medical
leave, and already starting to feel restless. It would not have been
so bad if he could have killed some time in the holodeck, but
unfortunately, right at this moment Geordi had the guts of the
holodeck strewn around engineering in his attempt to upgrade the
system. While Will was not normally a paranoid man, he really was
starting to think he was at the center of a conspiracy. Between
Beverly insisting he take time off, and Geordi deciding at exactly
the same time to overhaul the holodeck, well he was really starting
to become suspicious.

He was pulled from his self-indulgent thoughts by the sound
of Deanna's gentle humming coming from the other room. Despite
himself, he had to smile. Since the renewal of their romance almost
six months ago, he had come to notice little things about Deanna that
he never knew before. The fact that she hummed while getting ready
for work was one of those things, and even though she hummed off key,
it was cute.

Morning was one of his favorite times of day. Though he
never thought he would get to that point in his life when watching a
woman get ready for work would make him feel content and happy, but
somehow that is exactly where he was.

Taking his coffee with him, he followed Deanna into the other
room. She was standing in front of the large mirror brushing out her
hair, and still humming. He leaned against the doorframe, sipping
his coffee.

"Are you done whining?" Deanna asked as she looked as his
reflection through the mirror.

"For now." He shrugged one shoulder. Then vowed light
heartedly. "But I will get my revenge on Beverly."
She snorted in frustration, rolled her eyes, and continued brushing
her hair in long even strokes. Will allowed his eyes to travel up
Deanna's body. He knew she was naked under the long silk robe she
was wearing, just as he was under his blue robe, and it was a thought
that caused his vivid imagination to go into overdrive.

Deanna gave him a reproachful look through the
mirror. "Don't even think about it."

"About what?" he asked, with the best innocent face he could

"What you were just thinking about." She warned softly.

"Well I was just thinking. . . that you have to get to
work. . . and I have to get down to sickbay and let Beverly poke and
prod at me for hours on end." He looked at her, and she couldn't
help but notice the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, "So who gets
the shower first?"

"You can have it first, but only if you hurry." She
answered, sounding more like his mother than his lover.

"Well I think it would make more sense, and save time, if we
just got in there together," he suggested.

"I'm sure you do."

Nope, she wasn't taking the bait at all. This called for
drastic measures, so he tried diplomacy. "Just think of the minutes
we can shave off our morning routine." To his credit, he managed to
keep a perfectly serious face while arguing his case.

"Just because you don't have to report for duty today doesn't
mean you can make me late Will. " Deanna replied tartly. She walked
past him and into the bedroom area. He might have dropped it, if not
for the subtle way she had brushed herself up against him. He knew
she did it on purpose, and took it as an opening to continue his

Deanna was standing in front of her closet, methodically
going through the contents looking for something to wear. This
always struck him as funny, since all of her uniforms were the same,
and she long ago stopped wearing the colorful jumpsuits and flowing
dresses, but she still spent five minutes every morning picking out
something to wear from her closet full of identical uniforms.

Will came up behind her, close enough to feel her warmth but
not touching her. "So what do you say," He whispered into her ear,
trying to win his argument. "A quick, perfectly innocent shower.
You scrub my back and I'll scrub yours."

Holding her uniform in one hand, she turned and gave Will a
disapproving look. "For starters nothing you do is perfectly
innocent, but sometimes it's quick," she said with a slight lilt in
her voice to let him know she was teasing.

He made a face at her, but she chose to ignore it and
continued with her superior Betazoid attitude. "For another, I'm
perfectly capable of scrubbing my own back." She turned back to the
closet and began searching the floor for her boots. "Besides, what
about your age?"

"What about my age?" he asked a little defensively, and not
really following where she was going. "What in the hell does my age
have to do with us taking a shower together?"

She turned back to him. "Well, aren't you afraid you might
break a hip or something?" she inquired with perfectly mimicked

Will winced at the verbal jab, but quickly regained
himself. "I didn't hear you complaining about my age last night.
Besides you're only one year younger than me, if I'm that ancient
than your well past your prime too my dear."

"Nevertheless, I am half Betazed and a female. It is a well-
known fact that women have more sexual stamina then men in middle
age. We don't reach full sexual maturity until our forties," she
said in her know-it-all medical voice.

"You mean you hit senility in your forties. Look at how long
it takes you to pick out something to wear. I don't know if you
noticed sweetheart, but all your uniforms are exactly the same," he
said with a smug smile. He knew how much she hated to be called
sweetheart, so he voiced the word with particular emphasis. "And it
takes you forever to get ready in the morning. Between the makeup
the hair brushing, and the brow tweezing, I'm surprised you're ever
to work on time."

"Exactly my point. It takes a lot of stamina to be a woman.
Besides, I notice you seem fascinated with the whole thing. I see
you watching me every morning."

"Yeah. . .I watch you every morning. I get up early and I
just sit here in my wheelchair, with the automatic lift. Doesn't
take much to make me happy, not at my age." Then he added with an
impish grin. "But I guess since I am getting to that age, it's about
time I found a younger, more vibrant woman. They call it a midlife

"Oh I understand," she pulled her boots out of the closet and
made her way back into the bathroom. "In fact, if memory serves, you
used those exact words when you came into my office during the Briar
Patch mission. And look how that ended up, you fell in love with
your psychiatrist."

"My hydrophobic psychiatrist," he said following her into the

"Hydrophobic?" Deanna cocked her eyebrow and waited to see
where Will was going with this one.

"Yep, you're the one who's afraid of the shower. Me. . . I
face my demons." and then his voice took on a boldness, " I say turn
the sprayer on. Live dangerously. Hell at our age. . it could be
our last adventure."

I beg your pardon. At *our* age?"

"Yes, our age. As I recall when I was four you were three,
and when I was twenty-four you were twenty-three, and now I'm . . "

Deanna put her hands up in a surrendering gesture, cutting
him off. "I get your point. That's enough of the 'our age'

"You started it."

"Oh that's priceless," she chuckled, throwing her head back
in disbelief and then her eyes met his once again. " you go from old
to infantile," she laughed. "Do you realize how juvenile that
sounded," and then she mocked him, "you started it."

So," he said, ignoring her remark, "what do you say. Will
you take a shower with me? I mean, I am on medical leave, you should
take pity on me."

"I think I'll be the one getting back at Beverly for this
one," Deanna said with a grimace.

"Oh she's just looking after my best interests. You said so

"You're not going to shut-up about this shower thing, are

He looked at her and she couldn't help but notice the boyish
sparkle in his eyes. "I doubt it." he said. "Only one way to get a
man my age to shut-up." He waggled his eyebrows
suggestively. "Besides there are better ways to communicate than
with words."

"Yeah like grunting and pounding on your chest."

"My, you are funny this morning Counselor."

"Well, putting you in your place is exhausting work, but
someone has to deflate that ego. Wouldn't want you to injure your
head walking through doors." Deanna turned on her heel toward the
shower stall, pushed back the sliding door, and turned on the water.
Turning back to Will, she motioned with her hand. "After you. But,
I may need some help overcoming my hydrophobia commander," she
informed him, she was teasing, it was a game she was good at,
especially when it came to Will Riker, " isn't it your job to insure
the safety of this ship and its crew?"

"I don't know. I am getting somewhat older. And you are no
spring chicken. What if we slip and break a hip or something?"

Deanna rolled her eyes, and sighed heavily. "Come on. I'll
wash your back and you wash mine."

"That's what I've been trying to say from the beginning. Why
must we negotiate everything?" He asked, exasperated.

"It keeps your mind active. I hear that's good for people
**your** age," she smiled as she disrobed, exposing her nude body.

"Now that's good for people my age," he said as he quickly
followed suit and let his robe puddle on the floor. He closed the
distance between them and wrapped his arms around her waist pulling
her into the shower stall.

"Careful Will you'll break your. . ."

Those were the last coherent words between them for the rest
of the morning.