HOLDING ON TO HOPE

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 16

 
 

Chapter sixteen

No one knew who was surprised more when what was expected to happen, never did. The whole world slipped into slow motion as Will pulled Deanna out of Antony’s arms and simply stood her before him, taking her other hand, and gently placing it on top of his own heart, wanting her to feel its non-to-steady beat. Wanting her to feel the strength of his love for her.

Even Will thought he would end up just pulling her roughly into his own arms and not only devour her mouth, but her very essence, to show Antony and the rest of the world that Deanna Troi was no one else’s but his. Could be no one else’s but his. That was until he swung her trembling form around to face him and the universe slammed to a halt.

For as long as Will lived he would never forget as Deanna turned her eyes and looked up into his, and he saw everything he wanted to see, and more. Her carbonaro eyes glistened with barely held emotions, reflecting the loss of one man, her joy at finding her soulmate, and her final acceptance that that was what he was. But most of all, they had come alive with love, the one and only thing Will had ever wanted from her, and at last, he’d finally gotten it.

But the realisation that his five long years of searching, of holding on to hope and living on nightmares and dreams, had finally come to an end, and he didn’t quite know what to do, or say to the woman that stood before him.

Will couldn’t help it, he couldn’t stop the powerful surge of relief from flooding his mind, his heart, and his soul, and with a strangled moan, Will crushed Deanna against his own trembling body, totally enveloping it with his arms, afraid of letting her go. Afraid of never feeling the way that he did right then ever again; Complete.

The overwhelming silence told its own story. There had been no need for words, it was there for all to see, the whole story; Two people with a past full of tears, a present that had hovered for five years between darkness and despair. And now there was a future. A chance to start over, start anew. Two lost lovers, reunited and reconnected upon every level. This was how it was meant to be. This was love.

This was Imzadi.

Antony watched the union with envy. A little of it was to do with losing Deanna, but for the most part, he was envious of never having, or knowing a relationship with that amount of desire, or obvious devotion. Watching, seeing them together, Antony had no choice but to accept fate. and fate had decreed that he had lost his fiancee to a better man; a man that had the ability to cherish her in a way that he never could, and God knows, she deserved that.

Satisfied that Deanna was not going to disappear ever again, Will eased her away from his body enough to turn her around, still keeping her within the confines of his arms. Still holding her close, the two of them faced Antony headlong and even a blind man could have seen the utter peace that had surrounded and embraced them. They both wore a smile that said everything and in the end, even Antony could only smile in return.

Stepping towards the couple, Carstair stretched out his hand to the much taller man, determined to at least walk away with a little dignity, "Looks like you won, Riker."

With gratitude and joy, Will gripped the out-stretched hand in return, unable to hide the emotion in his voice, "Yeah. Thanks for keeping her safe for me, I’ll always be in your debt."

Antony let his hand drop as a wave of an emotion he didn’t think he’d feel, stole over his features. He found his eyes leaving the taller mans and settling on his ex-fiancee’s, probably for the very last time, and he welcomed the pain, it somehow making him feel almost human. He hadn’t felt like that for longer than he could remember, and it felt funny that losing the woman he was about to marry was the final catalyst to remind him that somewhere, out there, was a woman that he could share his love with, a love like they had.

Antony couldn’t stand there any longer, it was time to go. Half-heartedly, his hand rose in a gesture of farewell, but he couldn’t bring himself to actually say the word. Seconds later, he was back in his vehicle and was speeding away. He never looked back.

Will and Deanna watched Carstair drive away, and Deanna felt rather than heard the sigh emanate from the man still hugging her close to him. Her hands reached up to his forearms and she stroked them comfortingly, he kissed her hair in response to the tender touch,

"Bang goes our road."

Deanna couldn’t hide the tiny smile, "Oh, I don’t know. I have a house to sell, a house that I’m sure he’d be interested in buying. I’m sure I could...persuade him to give me top dollar for it."

Deanna turned back around still within the protective circle of Will’s arms, slipping her own around his waist as she looked lovingly into Will’s surprised eyes, "You’d do that, for me?!"

Deanna shook her head, "No, I’ll do it for us, on one condition."

"Name it."

"You persuade Starfleet to supply us with a shuttle to go with our new job."

"Our!?"

"Uh huh. If we are going to go ahead with your plans to hire out the lodge while you’re away on missions, then obviously, as your wife, I have the right to go with you, unless of course, you want me to stay home and play hostess."

"My wife, huh?"

"Your wife."

"But what about your own job, Deanna, you’ve worked so hard to build up a good clientele."

"I can still do that. I’ll just rent a small office in town for now..." Then she dropped her bombshell, "That is until the children come along."

Her admission sent such a powerful punch to his gut, but he couldn’t stop himself from grinning like an idiot, nor could he stop himself from telling her something that he’d been waiting to do for five years, every painful one of them forgotten as he opened up his soul and let her fill it to capacity, "I love you, Deanna Troi."

Will watched the play of emotions and ideas flitting across the face of the woman he loved, his heart overflowing with such an intense euphoria. He wanted to kick himself to see if he was dreaming. He knew he wasn’t when Deanna reached up and pulled his face down to meet hers, pausing briefly to whisper, "And I love you, Imzadi." before pulling him that final inch and sealing their lips together, along with their future.

They were both smiling when they eventually broke apart, breathless with exertion and wonder. Deanna giggled self-consciously, "I wonder if we still have our audience? Heavens, they must think we’re exhibitionists!"

Will’s chuckle was low and seductive, "No, they all disappeared a long time ago when they were satisfied that me and Carstair’s weren’t going to come to blows."

Will pulled Deanna back against his long body, the impact at how close he’d gotten to losing her washing over him like a tidal wave of despair. It was time to let go. "Let's forget about the past, Deanna. From here on, it's us; no past, no nightmares, and no laying blame. We’ve got to put it all behind us and start over. Just us."

Will felt and heard Deanna’s sigh of relief along with a tight squeeze of his body as she understood, "Just us."

Will dropped his arms away from Deanna just long enough to take her hand. His eyes were serious once more again as a touch of uncertainty briefly invaded his soul, "Are you ready to come home now, Deanna?"

Moving away from Will’s body, Deanna began walking towards the jeep, her hand firmly clinging onto his. The smile she threw him over her shoulder was tremendous and her eyes glittered with tears of happiness, "Yes, Will, I am."

 

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