By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


Deanna studied Will's back as he lowered his long frame into the chair and allowing a slow sigh to slip past her lips as the tight uniform hugged his frame, it outlining a profile that she longed to touch more and more every time she saw it.

She watched the muscles ripple beneath the fabric and wanted her fingers to follow their sensuous line, from the tight chords of his shoulders, and down along the rock hard plains of his chest and abdomen. She visibly flexed her fingers as the image of where those fingers would end up if they got their way.

Deanna Troi, stalwart member of the Enterprise D, longed to trail a path from one end of Will Riker's torso to the other. But even more so, she ached for him to do the same to her, the vision swimming before her eyes even as she formulated the loving moans within her hungry mind.

The powerfully intimate and culminating act made her tense legs clamp shut to somehow halt her body's wanton response. Her heart caught in her throat as the daydream conjured up an image that brought tiny beads of perspiration to her body and a warmth in her loins that was rapidly becoming banal. It was happening too often to ignore anymore, and too often for her own sanity.

She inwardly groaned as he turned his head to her, throwing her a gentle smile. It was a smile of innocence. It was the smile of a friend. If only he knew. If only he knew what he was doing to her as the snapshot of them both entwined in a tangle of sweat-saturated limbs seemed to come to a full stop in her mind's eye.

Deanna groaned again, unable to keep the tiny moan from slipping through her dry lips. But this time the moan formed words of an apology, *Forgive me* luckily inaudible to those around her. But as quick as she uttered the confession, she dismissed it a fraction of a nanosecond later.

Startled as the lie hit her, she realised it was as far from the truth as anything she had ever sworn before. Deanna sat up a little straighter with determination etched upon her features along with conviction filling her soul,*No,* she thought, *I don't want you to forgive me.*

Unable to control her emotions or the trembling that began to rack her tiny frame, all eyes went to her face as she unsteadily came to a stand. The need to seek solace in her own quarters became paramount as the desperation to be on her own overwhelmed her even though she was barely half way through her shift.

The Captain's voice held a mixture of concern and surprise, "Counselor, is there a problem?" noticing her blush a little too late to change his words.

She visibly swayed as Will's concern filled her mind. He cared. He cared enough about her for him at that moment to use her given name instead of her rank. He cared enough to pull himself to a stand, his unease stiffening his large frame as he took a one tentative step towards her, "Deanna?"

There it was; the question. The way he said it needed so many answers, but he always knew he would only ever get one in the presence of others. "I'm fine, Commander," She pulled her tell-tale eyes away from him and back to the captain. "I don't feel too well, Captain, may I please retire to my quarters for a short while?"

He pulled out one arm from his back and touched her lightly on the forearm, the frown upon his face conveying his concern, "Of course, Counselor. Do you require medical assistance? I could get Dr..."

Deanna's reply cut him off mid way, "No! no, Sir. I...I didn't sleep too well last night and feel a little...disorientated. I just need to lie down for a while."

Satisfied with her answer, he nodded, "Very well, take all the time you need."

She saw Will take a step towards her but stopped when her eyes briefly met his and silently imploring him to leave her be. The look was enough to halt his steps even though his mind and eyes followed her worriedly as she distractedly thanked her C.O. and left the bridge.

Eight pairs of eyes watched her departure until the lift doors closed, effectively cutting not only their curiosity, but the wave of tenderness that she'd felt from Will knowing that he would probably check on her after his shift if she didn't make it back before then. She was aware that by the time he did come to her, her mind, her body and her soul would be intact and coherent again. It had to be.

As the doors closed behind her, Deanna let go of the tension that had insisted on following her all the way back to her quarters in one long sigh and allowing herself to just stand in the centre of the room, dropping her chin to her chest and letting it trickle out, little by little, until at last, she felt the relief.

Forcing her feet to move towards the replicator, Deanna studied the empty cavern before resolutely asked it for, what she considered, to be her life saver in times of adversity, "Computer, hot chocolate, sweetened."

As she watched the steaming cup of frothy chocolate shimmer into existence before her very eyes, she barely noticed its arrival, her thoughts elsewhere. It was only the blink of the replicator's panel that moved her attention to what she was doing. She picked up the cup, lifting it to her nose for the instant pick-me up sensation that the revered drink always gave her.

She began to make her way to her couch, coming to a halt before reaching it, resolutely making her way to her bedroom instead and welcoming its serenity as she climbed atop of the covers fully clothed, making herself comfortable before beginning to sip at her drink.

It wasn't until she'd drank the last drop that she allowed herself to continue her troubled thoughts in the hope of eradicating the problems brewing within them, and she knew she was having a problem. She sighed with relief at her honest admission, feeling that half the battle was won.

The other half was a different problem all together.

Shuffling her bottom further down the bed, Deanna plopped her head onto the pillow with a sigh, her muffled, "Oh, God, what am I going to do?" fell on deaf ears as she was acutely aware that her plight was one that was never going to resolved, not even by the higher being.

Deanna's eyes slipped shut in her attempt to not only shut out the images that consumed her thoughts, but the words that ran circles around them. Words that she didn't want anyone to hear but the one person that never would.


He answered his door before Deanna's finger barely left the panel. To say he was surprised to see her was an understatement. The way she had rebuffed him on the bridge earlier still stuck in his craw, and it annoyed him that he really didn't know why.

It was the first time she'd done it to him; totally refused his concern and their friendship. When he'd left the bridge some half an hour later after her own leaving, he'd discretely asked the computer of her status and had been rewarded with the knowledge that she had indeed gone to bed and was sleeping.

But as soon as his own shift had been over, it was almost as though she had been waiting for him, for no sooner had he'd gotten settled with his dinner, he'd found her on his doorstep.

With her hand still on the door-jamb, Deanna's eyes briefly flicked to his before turning away, ashamed at what they were revealing, "Can I talk to you for a minute, Will? There's some things I want to say to you." Dredging up the half ounce of courage she'd got left, she took a deep breath, looked him in the eye and continued, "I've thought about this long and hard and I have decided that I want you to know what is happening to me."

Will studied her harried features closely, noticing the overly bright roan eyes and the determination in their depths. He wasn't quite sure why he was scared, but her statement somehow told him that he didn't like what he was about to hear. But his perverse wonder about anything that involved her, good or bad, had his curiosity piqued.

Turning his body slightly away from her, he made a sweep with his arm towards his inner sanctum, but his eyes never left hers, "I think I want to hear this sitting down. Take a seat."

For a moment Will watched her chew over his request until, her decision made, she made her way slowly to his couch. Before Will even managed to get settled, Deanna's determination to off-load whatever was troubling her made him halt his recline, leaving him perched on the edge of the seat.

"Will, I know this is going to sound like the rambling's of an insane woman, but all I want you to do is hear me out, okay?"

But even before Will had shook his head, she was pushing on, "I am unable to let you go, Will."

His shock reverberated right down to his soul at her confession, but she hadn't noticed that shock as she ploughed on, suddenly intent on unburdening her own soul and he had to back track a little to catch up.

"I am unable to let you go, Will. I have tried and tried and tried to keep our relationship professional and friendly, but it is eating me alive seeing you every day and knowing that I am as much in love with you as I was when we first became Imzadi."

In Will's stunned silence, she took the opportunity to swallow noisily and lick her lips. Taking a deep breath, she tacked on, "You are in my dreams every single night, and every single night we are doing things that only lovers should be doing. There are times when I want you so badly that I have to retreat to my quarters and cry myself to sleep just so's I can dream of loving you, and you're returning that love."

Her next words brought tears to her eyes and he realised just how much of a problem Deanna truly was having. It touched him deeper than he ever thought possible. "I've tried, Will, I've really tried, but the more I try the worse it gets. I try not to cry and I end up a mess. I try to dream of other things, other people, but it's always your face I see. It's always you, Will."

Will thought she had finished when she finally stopped talking taking the muffled sobs as his chance to make some sense of the situation happening before his very eyes. He reached for her cold fingers trying to formulate something, anything, to tell her that he felt the same way, but he didn't get the chance. She had more to say.

Chocolate eyes swam with more tears as she opened her heart and let him see the truth, "You're embedded in my heart, Will, and I don't want to let you go, ever. I love you."

Will reeled from the sanctified words and was surprised at the surge of joy and fear that cascaded throughout his entire being, aware that he could be getting a chance at happiness again. He was getting a second chance of a life with the woman he would only ever love.

But seconds later, everything became paralysed when Deanna spoke once more.

"I'm asking for your forgiveness, Will. I know that you have moved on past what we once had, and I have no right to unload my guilt, or desires on you. I know this isn't what you want to hear, and I'm sorry for jeopardising our friendship. But I had to tell you, before it was too late. Forgive me, please?"

He was overwhelmed and silenced with admiration and a whole bundle of other emotions that he didn't think he'd ever feel again. She loved him and wanted his forgiveness. But for what? How could she want forgiveness for something that was so right, and he truly believed it was.

But what ~did~ she want from him?

He stumbled over his words, feeling an idiot and knowing he looked a bigger one, but he was conscious that she would understand the truth in his words, "I...I, don't know what to say to you, Deanna, apart from that I love you too, and that it's okay, I understand, and there is nothing to forgive. It's what is special about our relationship; the fact that we both feel the same and are able to listen and help one another without it giving us a problem. I treasure that, Deanna. I treasure us."

Moving his hands to her face and cupping her now tear-stained cheeks tenderly, Will looked so deeply into her eyes that there was no denying the gravity of his words, "I treasure ~us~, Imzadi."


It was a monumental decision for Deanna to take her destiny into her own hands and approach Will. Somehow he'd known she was coming, and he was ready and waiting for her.

And now as Deanna Troi sat with her heart in her mouth as Will tried in vain to understand what she wanted from him without letting her be aware that he really did know, she turned the large fingers that gently gripped hers and studied them intently, waiting, willing for him to ask her what the problem was.

But he didn't.

But when her eyes rose and met his, Will finally understood. Within their depths he saw how his presence was affecting her. Amongst the dewy tears that clung to her ebony lashes, Will almost drowned in the love and desire that poured from her soul to his.

Will took a deep breath and asked, raising his palm to caress her cheek, "Are you saying you want ~this~ to happen, Deanna? Are you telling me that you want more than our friendship?"

A strangled sob, wrenched from deep within her as she reached up and grasped his one hand with both of hers, caused her face to contort with pain allowing the suspended tears fall, "No! No, I don't, Will. I...I just need you to understand that sometimes I...feel things and I can't control them. I don't know why they are happening to me, Will. I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to lose you because of them."

Will searched Deanna's face desperately looking for a sign, any sign that what she was saying wasn't really her. Had an alien entity taken over her mind, forcing her to have feelings that she didn't want?

That scared him, "Deanna, is...is that really ~you~ talking to me? I know you, and I know something is wrong."

Deanna shook her head vehemently, her eyes wild and wide, "No, No! You don't understand, Will! I'm asking you to forgive me for having these feelings about you. I'm asking you to ignore anything I say to you and everything I feel about you."

Will stared in horror at the woman before him, "Deanna! You can't really mean that?! Don't you know how important you are to me? Don't you know how much I care about you? I'm here to help you, if you'll let me. Please, let me help you, Deanna."

Sobbing openly, her eyes begged him to leave her be. Unable to trust her own voice any longer, Deanna hurriedly stood and made for the door, but she didn't make it.

In a heartbeat, Will caught her arm and swung her back towards him, capturing both arms in a grip designed not only to halt her escape, but to hold her fast while he tried to knock some sense into her.

"Deanna! Imzadi! Let me help you, God damn it. I'm your friend, let - me - in!"

Why he kissed her Will never knew. One second he was practically shaking the wind out of her and the next he was kissing her senseless. He had hauled her sobbing, trembling body hard against his, and then he had wrenched her face up to meet his and had plundered her mouth like a man intent of sucking the misery right out of her.

And Will took it, he took it all. When he broke the seemingly punishing kiss, Deanna clung to him like a broken doll; totally battered and spent. Will swung her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, lying her gently on top.

Deliberately pushing himself back upright, Deanna's reddened and puffy eyes sought his, but he merely reached out, moving a damp strand of hair away from her face, "Sleep now, we'll talk some more later."

Deanna's eyes were already falling shut as she nodded, allowing her mind and body to finally rest now the worst of it was over. She had poured out her heart to Will, and had made a huge prized fool of herself, and when she woke up, she would apologise, thank him and move on, hopefully.

In the dimness of the quiet room, Will watched Deanna sleep. Something had happened today and he still wasn't 100% sure what it was. All he knew was that Deanna had told him that she still loved him. That she was having fantasies about him all the time, and was sorry about it. Hell if he didn't know what to think about any of it.

He thought back to the moment she had been in his arms and the kiss and feeling his loins tighten instinctively. He liked the way it felt, and he liked having a chance to recapture a dream or two of his own.

If he had to admit, a lot of his nights were full of mental images that frequently woke him aroused, and then somehow feeling bereft when he woke and finding himself alone with a raging hard on.

But did he want more than the dream? Did he want Deanna Troi back in his life. His arms, and his bed?

Did he?

Will watched her stir and knew it wouldn't be much longer before she woke. He allowed himself the luxury of letting his eyes sweep down her tunic-clad body, his mind filling in the rest of the fantasy along the way. She was more curvy than she had been when they were younger. A lot younger.

He silently chuckled as he briefly looked down at his own body, acknowledging that he too was definitely more curvy than he used to be, and proud of it. His six foot four inch frame had looked ridiculously skinny way back then, but now in his prime, he looked good. He knew it and so did a lot of females that had trailed a path or two with their fingers in the past.

But Deanna never had done, not since Betazed. Not since they'd become Imzadi and he realised that she must be as curious as he, only she was the one having a problem with it.

The shuffle of material alerted him to movement and his eyes, faintly guilty, found hers. What he saw within them made him swallow convulsively, "Don't look at me like that, Deanna, or I won't be responsible for my actions."

Feeling better, Deanna chuckled as she tucked one hand behind her head and surveyed him at leisure, "Why, Will! Have you suddenly become shy?"

What was she doing!!??? "I find I have to around you, Deanna, it seems to have been the only way."


He suspiciously eyed her, "Why, what?"

"Why do you have to pretend to be shy around me?"

Will swallowed the lie, "Because we're friends."


His heart pounded, "And, I don't want to jeopardise that. You're too important to me, Deanna. I don't want to louse that up by doing something that you don't want."

"You don't!?"

He couldn't stop his feet from moving towards her, "No, I don't."

Deanna pushed herself up onto one elbow, craning her neck up to see him. "But you do love me though, yes?"

His heart suddenly filled with an emotion that overtook his body, forcing him to drop to his knees before her. He took her hand and huskily whispered, "Oh, yes, Deanna, I do love you, but I treasure us more, and I will not risk losing that for anything, not ever."

It was then everything fell into place somehow. Somehow he knew what she was asking. He had been invading her dreams as much as she had been invading his, even last night's when he had told her how much he treasured their relationship.

Deanna realised it was now or never, for the both of them, and taking the bull by the horns, she asked, "You want to know as much as I do, don't you Will?"

She didn't have to tell him what she meant. Somehow, someway he knew. He nodded, "Yes. I dream about you too, and I wonder what it would be like for us now."

Deanna scuffled over, patting the covers, her voice although determined, held a hint of amusement,"Come here, Will, I think it's time we put us both out of our miseries."

It only took a moment's sanity to keep Will where he was, and then he threw that sanity out of the porthole as he slipped his long frame along side her. He lay his head a few inches away from hers, just far enough away for them both to be able see each other. They both fell silent, letting the ramifications of the situation before them unfold, neither strong enough or willing enough to stop the future.

Blue stared into black and black stared back into blue. Each remembering, each wanting, until it was Will who broke the tense moment, "What now?"

Amusement lit Deanna's face and she laughed out aloud, revelling in the fact that she could do that now. "You! The famous, Will-the-thrill Riker, asking me what to do!"

For some reason her taunt hurt him, "This is different, Deanna. This is ~us~."

Deanna sobered immediately, "I'm sorry." She hesitated a moment before solemnly searching his eyes, "I..I want to touch your body, Will, and I want you to touch mine, that's all."

Will's eyes left hers and traced a path around her other features, lovingly taking each one in and remembering the tiny changes from years before. Will gently raised one hand and touched her cheek with his finger, lightly tracing a path to her chin, holding his breath as he did so and watching her eyes fall shut as the sensations engulfed her, "Like this, Imzadi?"

"Yes, oh, yes, Will." She whispered.

Will's eyes followed his hand as he allowed it to drop to the pulse in her neck and continue along her delicate collar bone. "And this?" She nodded feverishly.

He continued across her shoulder and down her arm, feeling her skin begin to heat beneath his fingertips. "And this?"

The air stood still as she gingerly moved her arm, capturing his hand within hers and placing it on the soft mound of her breast, her breath husky as she moaned, "No, this."

His own moan clashed with hers at the intimate gesture as he cupped the straining flesh within his large palm. He felt the pull of her mouth which was open and inviting him to take whatever he wanted, and he wanted that. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to crush her body beneath his, and he wanted her to touch him and send him as crazy as he was about to send her.

Before his lips touched hers, he moaned, "Touch me, Deanna."

Deanna felt the last barrier of restraint collapse as she half pulled the huge man on top of her, sealing her mouth to his and at last, letting her hands fulfil their fantasy.

Breathless sighs filled the air and desperate hands trailed paths that needed no guiding. It was like they were back on the jungle floor exploring for the first time. Making love like the first time, only this time the ultimate joining was not going to be.

Silently, they had been united in their agreement that the relationship would go no further than an exploration. A fumble. A moment of madness, but not so mad that it could destroy everything they had built together.

They had a memory from long ago, and that memory was more cherished than anything that would happen here tonight. What was to happen tonight was purely a chance to put aside those craving questions that had been nagging for longer than either could remember.

Tonight, they were friends. Forgiven friends. Eternal friends.

  Book index