R/T, TR, C
Rated: PG

She was miserable. Two months, four days, and six
hours into her new life aboard the Ghandi, Deanna Troi
was beginning to realize that life with Tom Riker
wasn't all it was cracked up to be. For one thing, he
was constantly running late; always knee-deep in some
new endeavor, flying by the seat of his pants racing
to get to the next challenge. After being away for
two weeks on an away mission to Veldos 12, he came
back aboard grinning like a child, only to leave again
the very next morning on an exploration of a new
planetary system in the Geldos Cluster.
Deanna looked at the holo of Tom sitting on her
bedside table, frowning ruefully. He hadn't changed.
Tom was still the same young man she had met on
Betazed so many years before; the same young man who
could not meet her on Risa to make a commitment.
Living with him had shown her that they were different
now in so many ways. In all of the ways that counted.

Oh Tom loved her; she had no doubts whatsoever about
that. But he still had an urge to roam the stars.
And, much to her disappointment, he also still had an
eye for the ladies. He seemed to occasionally forget
that she could read his emotions, and so had no idea
that she was aware of his attractions to other women.
Deep down, Deanna knew that if she were not aboard,
Tom would be making the rounds of astrometrics, taking
up with Lt. Parsons or perhaps Ensign Young. The two
women were gorgeous-and young. Although Deanna was no
where near Betazoid maturity, she was in her thirties,
which meant that the other women were somewhere close
to puberty.
It pained her to realize that Tom was going to have
difficulty being faithful to her, and yet, she wasn't
completely surprised. All of the things that were
beginning to come between them were the very same
things that had once kept her from pursuing a
relationship with Will.
Will. The thought of him caused a searing ache to
spread through her chest. He was the man she wanted
to be with, the man she thought no longer wanted her.
Tom was similar to Will in appearance only--he'd never
grown and matured into the Will Riker she knew now.
Tears gathered in her eyes and she was no longer able
to deny what she felt. She loved Will. Had never
stopped. And the worst part was that instead of
telling him, she dove head first into a relationship
with his twin.
Moving off of the bed, Deanna went to the computer on
the dining room table and plunked herself into the
heavy metal chair. She needed to talk to someone, and
the only person she cared to bare her soul to was
currently aboard the Enterprise. Waiting patiently,
she suddenly grinned through her tears as Beverly's
face appeared on the small viewscreen. "Deanna!!"
"Hello Beverly."
"Where are you? Scratch that, you're aboard the
Ghandi, right? Gods, I'm so happy to see you my
brain went completely out to lunch! How is everything
going?" Bev smiled, and then began to frown as she
noticed the tears on her friend's face. "Okay, Troi,
what's going on? You don't look very happy for
someone who's gotten a second chance with the love of
her life."
"Oh Bev. I'm...I'm not happy. I thought that I would
be. I thought that what we used to have would be
enough, but now I realize...." she broke off, bursting
into fresh tears.
"What honey, what do you realize? What's happened?"
Bev's face filled with concern and Deanna couldn't
help but feel touched.
"It's all wrong, Beverly. It's not...what I imagined.
Tom is never here, and when he is, he's the same old
flirtatious boy I used to know."
"Well, isn't that a good thing?"
"Not if he's doing it with every woman aboard the
"I see. The old Riker libido. He's having trouble
staying committed to you, am I right?"
"Y..yes. I mean, he hasn't been with anyone else, I
know that. I also know that he loves me and is trying
to stay faithful. But I can sense his feelings, Bev. I
know that he has attractions to more than one woman
aboard this ship."
"Well, you've always known that Will Riker has an eye
for the ladies. Tom would be no different. You also
know that neither of them would ever allow an
attraction to evolve into something else--not if they
were involved with you."
" I guess that's why it bothers me so much. This is
different. I don't mind if Tom finds other women
attractive, hell, I find other men attractive too.
It's normal. But this is different. I can feel that
Tom wants to get involved with these women and that
it's an actual struggle not to. Oh Bev...if I wasn't
here, he'd be sleeping with them. And who knows? He
might still do that. If I go to Betazed to visit my
Mother, or am on an away mission, he'd have the
opportunity. I hate to admit this, but I don't trust
Bev's face filled with compassion. "I"m sorry, Deanna.
I know how much you wanted this to work. It was
really your second chance to be with Will, wasn't it?"
She sobbed again, unable to stop it, for Beverly's
words were too close to home.
When she was able to speak again, she murmured, "Yes"
and then wiped her eyes with a lavendar handkerchief.
"I thought so. Well, look, my friend. If you aren't
happy there, you have to tell Tom. Don't just assume
everything will get better on its own because it
won't. And, I want you to remember something..."
"What's that?"
"I'm always here. I'm your friend and I love you. And
I have to tell you that the Enterprise is not the same
without you. If you ever want to come back, I'm sure
the Captain will be thrilled to have you back as
ship's counselor. He may not say it in so many words,
but he really misses you. So does another handsome
friend of mine...." she had a glint in her eyes and a
crooked smile that made Deanna grin again through her
"Will. How is he?"
"Well, he's pretending to be all right. But in
reality, he's heartbroken. He's been driving himself
way too hard, and spending most of his nights in Ten
Forward, trying to win the record for most ales drunk
in an evening. He misses you, Deanna. I think it's
killing him that you're with Tom now."
Deanna closed her eyes, thinking of Will, imagining
the pain he must be feeling.
"I'm sorry to have hurt him. I guess I finally
decided that there was no chance for the two of us,
and so I thought that when I left, he'd be happy.
Free to pursue other relationships."
"You'd be surprised. Since you left, there hasn't
been anyone. Will the Thrill Riker has hung up his
libido and retired from the game. I don't think he
realized how much he needed you until you were gone,
Deanna. He doesn't want anyone else any more. It's
you that he loves."
"He..told you this?"
"Mmm hmm. At dinner a few nights ago. I decided that
I'd make him a meal in my quarters--at least get some
food into that belly of his. Well, he was very
maudlin and half tipsy, so everything came spilling
out. He still loves you and regrets never telling you
that. It's killing him that you're with Tom, I can see
it in his eyes. Deanna, it may not be my place to say
this, but you're unhappy and so is Will. Why don't
you come back? Come home to all of us. We miss you."
This, of course, set her crying again and she let go
completely, allowing two months of emotion to spill
out in one long river of tears.
When she finally got control of herself, she said
quietly, "I'll have to speak to Tom. It wouldn't be
fair of me to just leave without telling him how I
Beverly smiled widely, sensing victory. "Then you will
come back?"
Slowly, Deanna nodded, and then a soft smile lifted
her lips. "I will."
"I'm so happy! I'll let Will know and then..."
"No. Don't tell him yet, Bev. I'd like it to be a
A mischievious grin crossed Bev's face and she winked.
"You've got it! I promise not to say a word. But make
it soon, okay?"
"I'll send you a communique when I'm on my way. And
"What hon?"
She nodded and then said goodbye, grinning like the
Cheshire cat, and Deanna closed the viewscreen,
feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted from
her shoulders.

Hours later, Tom arrived back at their quarters after
returning from another away mission. She was still
sitting at the dining room table when he came in,
nursing a large cup of hot chocolate.
When he looked up at her, she murmured,"Tom, we need
to talk."
Tossing his bags on the couch, he came behind her
chair and grabbed her, kissing her silky black curls.
"What would you like to talk about, sweetheart? Where
to have dinner tonight? Or maybe something
She shook her head and pulled herself forward out of
his embrace. "No. It's more serious than that. Please
sit down."
Tom came around and filled the chair across from her,
looking so devilishly handsome it tore her heart.
"What's wrong, Deanna? Have I done something to hurt
"Not exactly. But I have to be honest. I'm...not
happy here. I feel that you want to be off the ship
as much as possible, away from me as much as possible.
Now, I know that it's not personal and that you just
love to explore, but it gets lonely, Tom. Especially
since I haven't begun my position here as ship's
counselor yet."
He leaned towards her, concern filling his beautiful
blue eyes. "I'm sorry to leave you alone so often,
Deanna. It's just that after spending eight years on
Nervala IV, I feel like I finally have my life back. I
can finally catch up on all of the things I missed
when I was stuck on that damned planet. I guess I've
taken you for granted. I'm sorry."
She shook her head. "I know. But that isn't the only
thing that's bothering me. You said it yourself, you
were alone for eight years. That's a long time to be
His brow rose to his hairline. "What are you saying,
Deanna? That you think I want to be with other
"I know that you do. I can sense your
Tom's face flushed a deep cherry red, and his eyes
filled with a mixture of guilt and anger. "I've never
touched another women since we've gotten back
together. You know that!"
"That's not the point, Tom. You want to, I can see it
in your eyes and feel it whenever I reach for you
mentally. You're not ready to be faithful to me.
Ironically, as much as that hurts, I do understand.
You were without a woman in your life for a long time,
now that you're back, you want to have
His head fell as he stared at the table, and by the
slump of his shoulders she knew she'd hit the mark.
"Damn it, Deanna, I'm trying. I don't want to lose
you. I love you. But...yes. It is hard for me to be in
a serious relationship right now."
She sighed softly and shook her head, pain filling her
heart. "I think that we have to admit that we've both
made a mistake. We wanted to go back in time and
recapture what we had when we first met. But we're
not those people anymore, and I don't think that we
have enough going for us in the present to sustain a
relationship." Her eyes were shadowed, and it hurt
her deeply to say these words to him. But at the very
same time, it was almost a relief to be honest.
"Deanna...I'm sorry. When I saw you again on the
Enterprise...God it was like someone had handed me my
youth again. All I could see were those dark eyes, the
ones I'd once lost myself in. And all I wanted in the
world was to lose myself in them again. I guess I
never realized that both of us had changed since
"I'm afraid we have. Or at least, I have. I don't
begrudge you your explorations, but I can't live with
someone that I don't trust. I think that it's time for
me to go back home."
"Home? You mean to Betazed?"
"No. To the Enterprise."
Understanding dawned on Tom's face and he reached to
squeeze her hands.
"You've never really left there, have you? You still
She nodded, squeezing his hands right back. "Yes, Tom.
I love Will. I always have. I just never had the
courage to try having a romantic relationship with
him. I think I felt that with you I'd have the chance
to change things, to do things differently. What I
failed to realize was that you and Will are now two
fundamentally different people. I'm sorry if this
hurts you, but I have to go back."
"To him?"
"And to my friends. The Enterprise is my home. My
friends are there as well as my work. I'm sorry..."
Tears filled her eyes as she spoke. As disappointed
as she was in her relationship with Tom, she still
cared for him and didn't want to hurt him. He moved
to her in seconds, taking her in his arms, holding her
as she cried.
"Shhh...Deanna....I love you. I really love you. And
as much as I hate the idea of you being with him, I
want you to be happy. If I can't give you that, then I
want you to be where you can be happy."
"I thought you'd throw a fit. I never expected you
"To love you enough to let you go? Well, I do. I
know I haven't made you happy, Deanna. I'm not a
fool, I can sense your emotions just as well as you
can sense mine. And I'm sorry I ever brought you
here. It was selfish--especially since I wasn't ready
to give you a real committment. Can you forgive me?"
"Of course. Can we still be friends?"
He pulled away and tilted her face up to meet his.
"Always, Deanna. Always."
They clung together, hugging tightly, filled with so
many conflicting emotions that they could not let go.
And then, finally, Tom pulled away. He touched her
face gently, and said, "I'll get out of here so you
can pack. I won't say goodbye when you leave, it'll
be too hard. So I'll say it now. Goodbye, Imzadi.
And thank you for giving me the chance to be with the
woman I've always loved. I'll never forget this..."
There were tears shining in his eyes and she went to
him, holding him in her arms again.
"Nor will I. I'm sorry that things haven't worked
out, but I don't think that I'll completely regret
this time with you. I do love you Tom. As a friend."
"Me too."
They finally broke apart, and Tom walked to the door,
wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. Turning
towards her one last time he said, "Rabeem," and then
walked out the door, leaving Deanna smiling. He

Two days later, Deanna's shuttlecraft moved into
position next to the Enterprise. Seeing its massive
hulk hanging in space before her, she couldn't help
but smile. Gods, how she'd missed it! Shaking
nervously, stood upon the small transporter padd in
the shuttle, and hit her comm badge. "Counselor Troi
to transporter room 2."
"Yes, Miles, it's me. One to beam up."
The chief grinned and pushed the controls
upwards,"Ready when you are, Counselor."
Minutes later, she simmered into existence on the
transporter pad, and beamed at Miles. He came towards
her and said, "Would it be unprofessional of me to
request a hug?"
"Probably, but I don't care. It's good to see you,
Miles!" They hugged briefly, and then she walked
towards the door.
"Are you back for good, Counselor?"
"Back for good, Chief," she said, turning to grin at
him again before walking through the doors.

She moved down the corridor, excitement pushing her
feet to move as quickly as possible. Slapping her
badge again, she murmured, "Troi to sickbay."
"Deanna! You made it!"
"Yes. I'm back Beverly."
"How does it feel?"
"Like I've finally come home."
"Well, I for one am thrilled your back. And, I think
that someone would like to see you."
"He...doesn't know I'm here, does he?"
"No. You'll still get to surprise him, don't worry
about that."
"Where is he?"
"I think you'll find our handsome commander in Ten
Forward at your old table."
"Thanks, Bev."
"No problem. Now, come see me as soon as possible, all
right? I've missed you!"
"Will do, Bev. Troi out."

Smiling widely, she moved down the corridor and took
the turbolift, wondering what Will's reaction was
going to be when he saw her. The doors opened, and
she moved shakily down the halls to Ten Forward,
seeing its doors only a handful of yards before her.
She felt as nervous as she had on her first date with
Will, as though her heart would beat right out of her
chest from anticipation.
She smoothed her hair, licked her lips, and brushed
nonexistent lint off of her uniform. Then, her
trembling hand reached for the door.
As she stepped through it, she could see him. He was
at their table, just as Beverly said, nursing a tall
glass of Romulan ale. He looked thinner, his burgandy
and black uniform hanging loosely on his large frame.
His eyes were smudged with shadows, but as soon as she
drew close to him they flew from the table towards her
face and filled with dancing light.
"Deanna! You've come back." He looked so excited, but
that excitement was tempered with caution.
"Yes, I have." She moved to take the seat across from
him and reached for his hand.
"For good?" He said tentatively, allowing himself to
reach for her hand as well.
"For good, Imzadi." Surprise lit his face at hearing
the word, and then he smiled, turning her heart over
again and again.
"God Deanna, I've missed you. I thought..."
"I know. So did I."
"What happened? Why did you leave the Ghandi?"
"It was alot of things, but mostly it was that Tom
isn't the man that I love."
Will cocked an eyebrow and tried for a smile. "Really?
And who is?"
She slapped his hand gently for teasing her, and then
looked at him so intently that he became instantly
serious. "You are, Will. I love you. I always have.
Being with Tom made me realize that it's not him that
I want, nor is it our youthful romance. I want you,
Will Riker, my best friend and the person I trust more
than anyone else in the world. I love who you've
become, Will, not just who you used to be. And I want
to be with you...if you'll have me." Her eyes were
filled with love, flickering with feeling, alive with
everything she felt for him.
Will moved closer, taking her hands and pulling them
to his lips. He kissed them, one at a time, and then,
pulled her across the table, taking her beautiful face
in his hands and covering her mouth with his own.
The kiss was endless, delicious, filled with
everything the two of them had been yearning for.
When they finally broke apart, he whispered, "Of
course I'll have you. I've wanted you for so long I
can't think of anything else. I'm so glad you're back.
But, Deanna, I have to it really over with
"Yes. He may have been you...once. But he's become
someone else now. And the life he wants for himself
doesn't leave alot of room for me."
"He's a fool. But I'm not complaining. God, it killed
me to think of the two of you together. Are you sure
you'll be able to let him go?"
"I'm positive. I was never truly there, Will. I went
through the motions, but the entire time I was
miserable because I wanted to be with you. Can
you..forgive me for leaving, for not telling you how I
"If you can forgive me for being such an ass. I let
you go. Even when it broke my heart to see you two
together, I still clammed up, didn't tell you what I
was feeling. I wanted you to be happy and I didn't
want to stand in your way. We both made mistakes,
Deanna. But you're here now, and so am I. And that's
all that matters."
"Oh Will...." Pushing her chair back, she moved around
the table and into his arms. They held on tightly,
feeling as though it had been years since they'd been
together instead of months. And for the first time
since she left, Deanna felt at peace. This was where
she belonged. And this was the man she was meant to
share her life with.
She was finally home.