"I Will Always Love You"
Rated PG
Part 1/1


"If I should stay ,I would only be in your way
So I'll go but I know , I'll think of you every step of the way
And I will always love you, I will always love you You, you, my darling you
Bittersweet Memories That is all I'm taking with me So goodbye please don't
We both know I'm not what you ,You need
And I will always love you, I will always love you You, you, my darling you
I hope life treats you kind And I hope you have all you dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness But above all this, I wish you love
And I will always love you, I will always love you You, you, my darling you
Darling I love you ,Oh, I'll always, I'll always love you"
by Whitney Houston

The song slid inside of her, cutting through her heart with the expertise of
a laser. Slicing it into twin halves that seemed to fall neatly on the floor
at her feet. Gods, it hurt. The music, the lyrics, the singer's voice all
touched that deeply bruised organ within her chest, causing the sadness to
throb to the surface again and again with no relief. She was torturing
herself, surely. Yet, as soon as the music died, she would call for the
computer to begin playback again, filling Ten Forward with the sounds of a
20th century songstress who had the power to pull tears from her eyes with
the mere sound of her voice.
Deanna sat down at a table near the viewport and gave herself up to the
thunderstorm of tears trying desperately to release themselves from her
lovely black eyes. They slid down her cheeks, into her Samarian Sunrise,
onto her tight black uniform slacks. She held her head in her hands and
allowed the sorrow to build, to soar with the music, to match her own pain to
that of the woman in the song, and then as it built up into a sunami, it
crashed over her, spilling across her psyche like a wave hitting the shore.
Her mind replayed his words again as she cried, and she listened to them once
more, trying to believe that they were true. "I have to go, Deanna. You
know that. We discussed this months ago. The Orion needs a Captain, and
damn it, I'm getting old. This will be my last shot. I know I had my
chances before, but I was too stubborn to take them. Always holding out for
the Enterprise. That was a mistake. I need to do this, Imzadi, and I need
you to understand." But she hadn't. Not really. Not when they had only
just resumed their relationship last year and were planning to be married.
"I'll come with you, Will. I'll come with you, Will. As your wife. As
ship's counselor if they'll have me."
"I don't think you understand. I...want to go...alone. What we've had has
been wonderful, Deanna, but I don't want to get married. Not now, possibly
not ever. I want a new beginning, and that means..."
"That means leaving me behind."
He'd nodded, looking at the floor and she ran from his quarters blinded by
tears. In an instant, their new beginning lie in ashes at her feet. Will
had left two days later, and had been gone for six months when she got the
Beverly's solemn face, Jean-Luc's discomfiture, Guinan's warm, sad
eyes....they all told her immediately what she did not want to know. What
her mind had been trying to tell her for days. Will was dead. She no longer
felt him in her mind, but was hoping that he was merely ill or unconscious.
Until her friends confronted her in her quarters on that bleak day,
confirming the suspicions she had denied so completely to herself.
The Orion, caught in the middle of the Dominon War, had been ripped apart
like a child's toy, hanging in space in steaming ruins with no life signs.
No survivors.
In an instant, Will Riker was gone, and whatever pain their breakup had
caused her, it was nothing next to this. She would never see him again. She
would never touch his beloved face. She would never have the chance to tell
him just how she felt about him and his leaving the Enterprise. Perhaps they
would not have gotten back together, or perhaps Will would have eventually
had a change of heart. The point was, it was too late for any of that. Too
She burst into tears again, wrapping her arms around her waist, rocking back
and forth like a child. Dear Gods, would it never end?
The music wound down to a stop again, and she cleared her throat, intending
to call for one final playback. "Computer..." she began, and then was cut
off. A voice from behind her croaked her name in a husky baritone. "Deanna."
She jumped. The voice sounded like Will's. Oh Gods, I am cracking up, she
"Deanna. Look at me, Imzadi. Please." Holy Rings of Betazed, it was Will's
Turning very, very slowly and wiping her eyes on her sleeves, Deanna Troi
lifted her head and found herself staring at the form of Will Riker. Her
face lost all color and she shook herself, wondering why after all this time
she was seeing Will's spirit.
"I'm real, Deanna, and I'm here." He came towards her, dressed in his black
and blue Starfleet Uniform, looking just as he had on the day he left her.
She began to shake as another round of tears sprung to her eyes, and she
tried desperately to speak to this ghostly figure. But words were
"Imzadi. You look so beautiful. Come here." He opened his arms, and for
one delirious moment she wanted nothing more than to fling herself into them
and bawl on his broad shoulders. Instead, she sat there, staring at him,
unable to process the information. Long moments later, her brain began to
work again, and one word fell from her lips.
Will shook his head, smiling, and then she felt his presence in her mind. It
really is me, Imzadi. Tom and I feel differently in your mind, don't we? I
swear, Imzadi, it's me. God, how I've missed you!
That got Deanna to her feet. "You missed me? You missed me? That' s a hell
of a note. You're the one who ended our relationship six months ago. You're
the one who died two weeks ago, or so I thought. What the hell is going on
here, Will?" Her black eyes flashed with pain and anger, reaching out to
strike him with all of the intensity of a lightening bolt. He flushed a deep
red, and grabbed her hands, pulling her towards him.
"You don't understand, Imzadi," he began, but she tried to pull away, and he
grabbed her more firmly, pulling her against his chest in one swift motion.
Then he kissed her.
The feel of him against her body, the touch of his mouth to hers, the
familiar scent of his cologne, it was too much. Deanna lost herself in the
painful joy of his kiss, holding him tightly, unable and unwilling to think
beyond this moment. Gods, he was alive! Her heart fairly burst with the
wonderous joy of it. The kiss deepened, lengthened, filled them both until
there was nothing and no one else in the universe but the two of them and
their love for one another. After many long minutes, they parted, staring at
one another.
"Will. What happened? I don't understand."
He grinned and led her to the table, sitting her down then taking the chair
across from her. "I couldn't tell you before, Imzadi. And I am sorry for
the way I handled this, but I had my orders and telling you would have been
in direct violation."
"What orders?"
"I was to take the Orion into Dominon space and perform an undercover
intelligence operation. No one was to know. Only the Captain, myself and
Admiral Nachayev were aware of it, and they both made it clear I wasn't to
tell anyone. When I left, when I ended our relationship, it was part of the
operation. I couldn't tell you where I was going-it would've been dangerous
for you to know. I had to leave you, Deanna, and it killed me. God, do you
know how hard it was to look into those eyes and pretend I no longer loved
you? I can't tell you how many nights I've spent thinking of you, worrying
about you, wondering if you were all right. God, Deanna, I am so sorry."
She sat there listening as though she were in a trance. Finally, she looked
up and met his eyes again. "And the reports of your death? Was that part of
this operation too?"
He nodded. "Once I gained all of the information I had come for, I had to
find some way of getting out of Dominion space without them catching me or my
operatives. The crew and I stowed away on shuttles and set the Orion for
automatic self-destruct. The Dominion never knew we made it out of there
Deanna shook her head, trying to absorb his words. "But why you, Will? Why
not Starfleet Intelligence? Why not Section 51 for that matter? I don't
understand why it had to be you."
"They wanted it to look like we were just another Federation ship, joining
the war effort. An intelligence officer might have had ways of getting around
there on the sly, but they also would have been highly suspicious. You know
how paranoid the Founders are. But me, your average, run-of-the-mill
officer-heck, I fit in just perfectly. No one suspected a thing, and Admiral
Nachayev got the information she needed."
"Good for her," Deanna murmured.
Will stared at her, realizing how much the past few months had hurt her.
"Imzadi, I love you. I wish that I had been able to tell you. I wish that I
didn't have to play games with our relationship like that. God, I never
realized until now what it must've done to you to think that I was dead."
That word brought fresh tears and she stubbornly wiped them away, trying to
stay angry with him. "You could've let me know, Will. An encoded message to
Captain Picard, a scrambled communication to Commader Data-something only he
could decipher. There were dozens of ways that you could've contacted me.
You simply chose not to."
His face fell. She didn't understand and what was worse, she was right.
"I'm sorry. I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me, Imzadi?" His blue eyes
held tears of their own and the regret he felt ate through his chest like
"I don' t honestly know, Will. I am glad to see you and I am so grateful
that you're alive, but I've just spent the past two weeks mourning your
death. Not to mention the past six months mourning our relationship. I
can't just suddenly pretend that everything is back to normal."
"I understand. I just want you to know that I didn't mean anything that I
said when I engineered that phony break up scene. I've never loved you more,
Deanna, and I want you to marry me. I understand you'll need some time, but
think about it, please? I've lived long enough without you in my arms."
A smile treatened to break across her face, but she sternly turned her lips
downwards in frown, unwilling to give in so easily. "I have alot to think
about. I'd like to have some time alone, all right? I'll see you tomorrow."

He nodded and walked silently out of the room, leaving her in her favorite
spot by the viewscreen. She grabbed a napkin and wiped her tearstained
cheeks, then cleared her throat. "Computer, playback recording
Troi-alpha-7." The old love song filled the room again and Deanna sank back
in her chair, hugging herself. She was angry, and hurt, but beneath all of
that was the power and passion of a love she had felt for a lifetime.
Her heart pounded against her chest, knitting itself up, becoming whole once
She cried a bit, out of joy, out of pain, and recalled the long months spent
without him by her side. Recalled the empty moment when she felt her world
crumble as she imagined a world without Will Riker in it, as she accepted a
future without her Imzadi. The tears fell like rain, but this time they did
not burn with pain. They cleansed, as soothing as the rush of water from
Janaran Falls, easing the ache inside of her.
When she was finished, she mopped her beautiful face, blew her nose and
Slapping her communicator, she called, "Troi to Riker."
A startled voice replied, "Riker here."
"Can you meet me in Ten-Forward, Commander. There's something I need you to
"On my way. Riker out."
The doors swished open moments later as Will walked into the room, and
without a word, Deanna went to him, taking him into her arms. "Computer,
playback recording Troi-alpha-7 again."
"Commander, will you dance with me?" she asked softly.
"I'd be honored, Commander." he said, grinning.
They moved back and forth slowly, effortlessly and let the magic of the music
bring their hearts together as one.
"I will always love you, Will."
"And I you, Imzadi. Always."
Without another word the two officers danced the night away, holding on
tightly to that which had been lost. They would never let it go again.