By Carol Sandford


Chapter 07


Deanna's footsteps slowed as she pushed through the doorway and stepped out into the bright San Franciscan sun and saw him waiting. It had been strange, having Will so near, and yet, so very far away. He stood against the dorm wall, his arms and ankles crossed as he waited for her to emerge.

Deanna knew that he was waiting for her, and she knew that he would follow her wherever she went. But he stayed away from her. Never spoke to her, barely even acknowledged her, even though it was clear that he was still watching over her.

And it silently broke Deanna's heart.

On her emergence, Will pushed himself away from the wall and waited for her direction. He hated the situation, but he'd only got himself to blame. He was a coward and he was frightened of Deanna Troi. Hell, he was frightened of himself, if the truth be known.

And she knew the truth.

Will's hooded gaze followed her as she turned left and headed towards the teaching units. It had become a regular pattern of hers and Will mentally began to prepare himself for the tedious two hours of waiting that he knew was coming. He felt inanely stupid loitering in corridors for hours on end while Deanna went about her academy life as though he wasn't there.

But he was there, and Deanna was acutely aware that he was there, waiting for her, even if he was no longer talking to her, or if she admitted, she him. She hadn't forgiven him for the scene in the alley. Only a moron would have done what he'd done. Only a moron would have done it with the woman he supposedly loved so close by. Only a moron would have been stupid enough to believe that he wouldn't have been caught.

Will had hurt her, again. Was she ever going to learn?

Probably not, not as far as he was concerned.

Deanna sighed heavily as she pushed open the heavy door and stepped into the lecture hall, the thrum of waiting cadets chatter quickly drawing her in, helping to dispel the temporary loss of Will's presence, and betrayal, as she moved in amongst her fellow classmates.

"Hey, Evelyn! over here! I saved you a seat!"

Deanna smiled warmly as her friends high-pitched call reached her ears, even though she had already been making her way over towards her, anyhow. It hadn't taken long for routines to take form, and it hadn't taken long to make friends. Jan was one.

Jan also had a crush on Lieutenant William Riker.

As Deanna settled into her seat beside the bubbly, effervescent teenager, she had already second-guessed her buddy's first, and usual question. "Yes, my shadow is out there, Jan, and no, he's still not interested in being a guinea pig for your psycho-analysis course."

Her eyes widened further still, if that was possible. "You asked him!?" She squealed, fanning her face at the thought that she'd been a topic discussed with possibly, the dreeeeeeeeeeamiest hunk on the planet!

Deanna chuckled. "Sure. He said that he was sorry that he couldn't oblige as he was otherwise engaged in a highly secretive mission for Admiral Nechayev, but, he said, that next time he was home, he'd gladly oblige." Deanna didn't bother to add that she was lying and that Will probably wouldn't see Earth again for at least ten years once he'd finished with his current assignment. She didn't see the need to completely shatter the impressionable young woman's dreams.

And besides, Will was still, 'technically' hers, and if she couldn't touch him, she was as sure as hell certain that her buddy wasn't going to get her hands on him, either. Since Deanna had witnessed his little romantic liaison, she'd been pretty certain that Will had remained celibate and much to her own chagrin, she had, too.

Deanna had initially looked forward to sampling other men; seeing what made them tick, finding out if she could go beyond loving Will, but Will had sullied that for her. Catching him with that woman had hurt her. Seeing the pain upon his face had crucified her more. Merging her mind with his and seeing her there instead of the woman at his feet had completely destroyed her.

How were they going to get through the last few days without ripping each others hearts and souls apart?

Easy. They just had to stay away from each other.

Damn it.

Two long, thought-filled and painful hours later, the Betazoid and the Terran were the first to head for the door, barely waiting for the lecturer to utter, 'dismissed'. Deanna didn't want to admit to herself that she was desperate to see Will's presence. It soothed her. It tormented her more, but she couldn't help it. If all she had to fill her aching soul was his presence, then so be it. Seeing him would have to be enough. Feeling him nearby was equally gratifying. Wanting him would continue to haunt her heart.

Little did she know that she was about to have all those illusions shattered yet again as her hand turned to door handle.

Deanna stopped short, causing Jan to collide with her back as she stepped through the door, the gasp leaving her lungs caught in her throat, forcing a piteous squeak to erupt from her lips. She couldn't believe her eyes as she surveyed the sight before her. He was doing it again.

Will stood opposite her, one shoulder casually propped against the cream wall as he looked down at the small dark-blonde headed woman that stood beside him, her stance the same. The only difference was the moon-stuck awed look that etched her face as she looked dreamily up into Will's. The conversation between them was obviously deep; waves of unrest cascaded through Deanna as she desperately tried to gather herself and push away the surge of shock, envy and pain before he sensed it.

She failed as his face turned and found her sorrowful eyes as they waited for his to meet them.

Spinning on her heels, Deanna hurried away. Will's shout echoed after her and she forced her feet to go faster to escape the inevitable confrontation. "De...Evelyn! Stop, damn it!" He roared, uncaring of the scene he was creating.

But Deanna kept running, and he took up the pursuit after her determined that she wasn't going to escape his explanation this time. She wasn't being fair on him. Deanna had to realize that he had a life before she came. He had many friends, he had even more lovers. The friends he had to hang on to, for his own sanity, The lovers - well, he would willingly put them aside for her and, indeed, he was trying to, but not all of them wanted to be put aside.

Jemima Tracer had been just another hopelessly devoted who didn't want to grasp the fact that he was a fly-boy; never in one place for more than an easy lay and keeping his heart firmly tucked beneath his sleeve, making it nobody's property but his.

And damn it, Deanna Troi's.

Will had been painstakingly trying to explain that to the beautiful young cadet when the inevitable had happened. It seemed he was destined to be constantly caught out. Was this his future? he wondered. Was this his destiny; a constant reminder that he was somebody's Imzadi. Deanna's Imzadi.


But none of that mattered now. He needed to make peace with Deanna Troi - again. But this time, he wanted it done on his terms. Too much was at stake, most of all their hearts.

Although Will could catch up with her any time he wanted, he let her run. Ignoring the curious stares as he hurtled after the tiny Betazoid, Will followed, doggedly following her steps through the corridors of the Academy's maze until she reached the freedom of the outdoors. Belatedly, Will realized that he could quickly lose her outside and stepped up his own pace.

Deanna raced across the green expanse of ornate lawns that spread out before the towering academy building now behind her. She could not let Will catch up with her. It could only end up in one way and she was not prepared to let it happen. Fear of hurting her soul further gripped her, making her run even faster still.

Will felt like he was leaping into some fathomless black hole as he dived through the outside sleeping quarter's doors in his pursuit of his quarry. Pissed that once again he'd been caught out in a compromising situation, even though it hadn't been what it had looked like, Will's escalating fury boiled further still with each foot that Deanna put between them. He knew that once she'd reached the lifts, he'd lose his chance to put things back to how they were, even though that safe-ish even keel was killing him to be there. It was still better than what could lie ahead if she won this battle.

Eagle eyes from high up in the academy suites followed the chase with a growing sense of unease as she watched her star cadet head towards disaster and worse still, breaking his promise. She just hoped that Ambassador Troi wasn't lurking around a corner waiting to pounce on the clearly tormented couple. Sighing heavily, she pulled herself away from the window and made her way back to her desk. Punching the panel before her, Alynna Nechayev set the wheels in motion to end everyone's torment.

She uneasily hoped.

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