By Carol Sandford


Chapter 09


I'd been prepared to let Deanna go. I'd gone through hell and back trying to find a way of keeping her from going to him, and now as we stood arm in arm as he left her quarters to start his new life on board the USS Ghandi, I wondered if it had all been in vain. But then, maybe not.

Toms arrival on board the Enterprise had done the unthinkable. He had shook my relationship with Deanna to the very core, bashed it about, abused it in the worst way how, and then, surprisingly, and disturbingly, he had handed her back to me on a silver platter.

He was leaving and Deanna wasn't going with him. Her choice, not his. Feeling them and seeing them in my minds eye a few days ago making love on the floor of the gym had almost knocked me to my knees. Unashamedly I had silently wept in front of my captain and when Picard gently touched my shoulder and told me to take some time, I knew that I could no longer leave what I needed to do.

When Deanna finally sought me out to tell me what I already knew, I had to give her my blessing and let her go. I simply had no choice. It had been the hardest thing that I had ever done -- harder than leaving her on Risa eight years before. But way back then I had, what I now realise, was a very feeble excuse. I had a career to establish. And back then, I was young enough and foolish enough to think that I had all the time in the universe to find her again and make up for my thoughtless, but what I considered then, very important transgressions.

And it had all come true.

Until he had come here and reminded her of what I'd done to us so long ago.

Deanna would have gone with him to the Ghandi, of that I was certain. I'd seen the look in her eye when she'd come to tell me that they'd gone beyond us, and if I hadn't have planted the seed of doubt in her heart and mind and reminded her that he was still no better than me, in six months time, she would have undoubtably left to be with him. He'd promised her what I had not, and surprisingly, she had turned him down.

I guess in the end, what we had had been even stronger than I'd imagined. The man had eight years of catching up with time and change, least of all, acknowledging the changes in the woman that he had longed for for so long. She had matured. She had come into her own. She knew her own mind, and most of all, she knew her own heart, and it was clear that her heart now very clearly belonged with me.

I had won.

I'm glad that they'd made love now. It took me a while for that fact to register, but now I know that it had been the catalyst of their demise, so I'm glad it had happened. No more, 'what if's'. No more wondering about what was and what could be. Thomas had promised her the moon, the stars and lots more besides, and I...I had simply been true. True to her. It would take a life time to explain that particular sentiment, but to those who knew, 'us', would know what I'm talking about.

I guess I'd better ask that girl to marry me now. But then, maybe I'd better wait a little while. I don't want it to look like I was only asking because of him. But I won't wait for too long. I'm not letting anyone else get in between what is mine. Damn! There could be another one of me out there somewhere, like in an alternate universe, or something similar. You never know what you'll stumble across out here amongst the stars and I'm going to make sure they all know that she is my woman.

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