By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


He'd been on board for more than four hours and she hadn't met him yet. I know that he'd had an indepth meeting with captain and then he'd gone to have a meal - the first square meal he'd had for years. And then he'd retired to his assigned quarters to rest.

It had been one of those days that had marked the end of a mystery. Complete ignorance on our part, but not to the man that we had beamed aboard only a few hours ago. William T Riker. Another William T Riker.

Another me.

And he had still yet to come face to face with Deanna.

My Deanna.

When I'd left Nervala Four some eight before, things had escalated in my career. My very new and infinitely fragile relationship with Deanna Troi had fluttered away, leaving a large gaping wound in my soul that festered until we came together again on board the USS Enterprise.

But even then, it had taken another almost six years to get to where we were now. Lovers, the closest of the close.

My musings were broken by the chirp of the communication panel and I punched the button to activate it, speaking at the same time. "Riker here."

"Will." It was Deanna. "How are you doing?"

I knew what she was asking of me and I took a deep breath before responding. "I'm good, Deanna. I imagine it's more of a shock for you than for me, after all, you've got to put up with two of us now."

I didn't need to see her face to know that she was smiling. Despite the situation, this was going to be as tough on her emotions more than the arrival of my 'brother' ever would be for me, for I had no doubt that the other Will would still have strong feelings for the woman on the other end of the line. Stronger maybe due to the lack of female company on Nervala. He'd had eight long years to wallow in lost chances and fantasy dreams.

"Oh, I think I can handle the two of you, Will."

"That's what I'm worried about." I groused and then deliberately chuckled to lighten the insane mood that suddenly slipped into place before I could even blink.

"One Riker is more than enough to play with." Her own responding husky chuckle drifted off and the sudden pregnant pause lengthening, reminding me of our early days when they were frequently apart and linked only by a comm system or a vidi-screen where we would sit silently grinning at each other, so lost in love that even the silence between us was exhilarating.

But even I knew that this time we weren't thinking about us. Eventually knowing that this first important meet needed to be done with, I asked. "Are you ready for him, Deanna?"

I heard her deep shuddering breath and the catch in her voice when she finally responded. "Yes, I think so."

There was no way she was meeting him on her own. I know me, and I know what I'd do if I come face to face with her after eight years of abstinence, but when I told her that I would be joining her, I was surprised at her reluctance.

"Do you think that's necessary, Will? I think it's going to be enough of a shock to him just to see me without him knowing that we are..."

You could have heard a pin drop and my first sense of foreboding raised its ugly head. "We are what, Deanna?"

"Together." she said sadly.

I tried logic. "He needs to know, Deanna. He needs to know that there is no chance of a happy reunion for you both."

"That's cruel, Will." She cried.

"Life is cruel, Deanna. Nobody knows that better than he."

"You sound as though you don't trust me, Will." I heard the pout and could visibly see in my minds eye the large, dark eyes filling with pitying tears.

I softened - a little. "I trust you, sweetheart. I don't trust him, and both you and I know that he'd only have to touch you with one finger and you'd be lost."

"Like us." She admitted.

"Like us." I sighed and then went for the jugular. "I love you, Deanna."

It was a sad reply that was returned but at least she said it. "I love you, too."

Resigned, I pushed myself to my feet and prepared myself for a meeting that I would have done practically anything to avoid. "I'll meet you in the corridor. Ten minutes."

"Ten minutes! I've got to get myself ready. I've got to take a show...." She protested.

"He's going to have to accept you as you are. He won't give a damn if you're dressed in an old sack cloth. He won't even care if you smell like a hog, and that is why I am going to be there, Deanna."

I heard her defeat. "Ten minutes."

"Ten minutes." I said grimly as I headed for the washroom to take a good look in the mirror and make sure that I looked a damn sight better than he did.

I failed.

  Book index   Next chapter