By Carol Sandford


Chapter 03


Leaving Deanna's room and letting the shock of the morning's events finally sink in, leaving him in a state of sheer exasperation. Sure, he was glad to see Deanna again, but God, not now! He wasn't over her enough to be in control of himself, his heart, or his wayward emotions, the latter he hated Deanna knowing about, and he was sure that she did.

Just one look into her dark eyes spelt doom for him. Will knew he wasn't going to able to keep his promise, to neither Nechayev, Deanna, or himself, and damn it all, he needed to. He had a career to consider, a career that he could feel slipping through his fingers as yet again, in the space of as many moments that it had taken him to take another shuddering breath, Deanna's features swum before his eyes, slowing his steps as his heart catapulted in his chest, creating an intense pain that hurt.

Will needed answers and a solution to the invisible problem that was there before it even manifested itself. A problem that he was going to have trouble in explaining without revealing more than he wanted to. But as he headed back into the same building that he'd only visited just a few, scant hours before, Will knew he had no choice, and by the time he reached the same office, he was furious at having been put into a situation that could potentially ruin him, in more ways than one.

Will had headed straight back to HQ, pounded on Admiral Alynna Nechayev's door and demanded an explanation. "Want to tell me what the hell is going on, Admiral?" Will almost spat out his superior's title as his anger escalated once more at having been duped by her.

Exhaling a puff of air from her lungs as though she had half expected the visit, she indicated for Will to sit down, unsurprised when he didn't. Raising her eyebrows at his insubordination, Nechayev laced her fingers in front of her and rested them on the desk and looked up at him.

"Deanna Troi is here because she has joined the Academy, Lieutenant, and, unfortunately, for a short while, she has got to go, 'incognito'. Therefore, for the time being - and possibly longer, she will be known as Evelyn Starr."


"Because her mother, Ambassador Troi has insisted so. You have to remember, Will," She patiently explained, "that Deanna is the last of her family to carry on after her mother's demise, therefore, she is to be treated with the utmost care, and respect. Now, of course, I have assured her that the academy is as safe as safe can be, but, of course, it was not good enough for her. So, she has asked us - you, to watch over her for a couple of weeks, just to make sure that there is no threat."

"Damn it! Why me?!" Will almost roared, unaware that his heart was truly lying on his sleeve for all to see as his eyes glittered suspiciously bright. "Why have I got to be the one to look after her? There must be a hundred and one other suitable people here that can do the job. Why couldn't it be one of them?"

Suddenly seeing beyond the tirade, Admiral Nechayev frowned and looked up into Will's troubled eyes and asked quietly, "Is there something that I should know about, Lieutenant? Something that, perhaps, you should be telling me?"

The world stopped dead in it's tracks. What did he tell her? That he'd had a tempestuous, hot and steamy affair with his charge and that he didn't trust himself to keep his hands off her, or did he say nothing and hope to God that he could get through this without ruining his reputation, and Deanna's? Or did he tell her the truth, that he was still madly in love with her, and, damn it all, he didn't want to be."

It was a long tense moment as Will weighed up the options open to him, until at last, he reluctantly chose probably the wrong one. "No." he said finally. Adamantly.

She gave him another chance to change his mind, her intuition telling her her he was lying through his teeth. "Are you sure about that, Lieutenant?"


"No, there is nothing, or, yes, there is something that I should know about?" She teased seriously.

Will took a deep breath, again. "No, there isn't, ma'am."

Nechayev nodded, now certain that the handsome lieutenant was lying through his teeth. "Good, because Mrs Troi specifically requested you, and you know yourself what a formidable woman she can be." Will nodded knowingly. Oh, he knew, alright. Better than most, unfortunately. She sighed and then added for clarification, "But I'm sure I don't need to say, that, while she's under your care, Riker, she is strictly off limits. Do I make myself understood?" Hoping that the unwanted piece of advice might somehow aid him in his dilemma.

Already resigned to what was probably going to be a fate worse than death, Will response was caustic and with more conviction that he actually felt, he replied, "Absolutely no problem with keeping that order, Admiral. No problem at all." She didn't see his fingers crossed at his back.

Slumping back in her chair, she replied on another sigh, wanting desperately to get Will to open up and confide in her but realizing that prolonging the meet was completely futile. Reluctantly she called an end to the meeting, aware that she was probably throwing one of their best cadets into the lion's den. She just hoped that he could claw his way out unscathed at the end of it all.

"Good," she smiled tightly at him effectively ending the confrontation. "glad to hear that, Lieutenant. Dismissed." Watching as he turned to leave, she suddenly remembered his untimely arrival and with a hint of a smile that took away the sting of her reprimand, she added, "Oh, and next time you barge in here, young man, make sure you've got an appointment to back it up, or else I'll have your ass in the brig."

Smirking as he passed back through the door he'd only minutes ago slammed coming in, he said grinning, "Yes, ma'am."

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