By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


Will's thoughts had been lost to memories of his last visit as he slowly ambled along the busy street. He must have been insane to have been coerced into coming back to this planet, even if his heart and soul had begged him to return from the very first moment he had left it behind - left Deanna Troi behind - a whole year ago.

He was still smarting at her rejection even if his head rationalized that it was the only course that she could have taken. But, damn it all, he had been crazy for her and he had never, ever felt that way about a woman before. But then Deanna Troi wasn't just 'any woman'. She'd been his soul mate. He'd reluctantly acknowledged that and it still kicked him in the gut to know that she'd thrown his feelings aside just so's she could stay home and be at her mothers beck and call for God knows how long.

He was still smarting over the fact that he hadn't been strong enough to hold on to her; to take her away from Betazed, and that rankled with him, too. Will Riker was nothing if not persuasive, but even with his gallons of charm and seduction he hadn't swayed her into leaving with him.

He briefly stopped to admire the ornate pottery displayed in the shop window and then moved on. he'd only one step, maybe two when he felt the familiar tickle in his mind. At first he reacted with shock at the intrusion until he recognised the all too familiar lilting tone belonging to only one woman. The woman that was quite all Betazed but too ingrained with it to be anything else.


<<She's here, somewhere. She's here.>> The words whispered through his mind as well as fell from his disbelieving lips.

Will's footsteps come to a hesitant stop as felt the familiar waves of recognition ripple through him and he shuddered with remembrance and acceptance at how the intimate intrusion made his body and mind feel. His eyes swept the area around him but he couldn't see her.

<<But she must have seen me>> He quickly surmised as he quickly scanned the area around him, ignoring the hustle and bustle of other shoppers, knowing that he'd recognise her even if she had a sack over her head. But she'd vanished before his very eyes.

He didn't know whether to be offended that she'd scampered like a scared jack rabbit on spotting him, or flattered that he'd bothered her psyche so much that she'd fled from him. Now that she clearly knew that he was on her planet Will knew that he would not be able to leave it tomorrow without seeing her again.

One half of him died right there on the spot of missing the opportunity to hold her within his arms once more. The other half scared him stupid at doing just that and not being able to walk away from her again. And he knew he'd have to. He was here for one thing, and one thing only; the concert, and he'd only agreed to do it because he'd known that she wouldn't be there. Even if she was the daughter of a dignitary, she had no chance of getting into the most prestige event on Betazed's calender.

But now that she knew he was there he had no chance of evading her. Now it was down to who caved in first. Who sought out who. Himself, or Deanna.

He continued on his way, conscious that he was leaving her behind. It didn't make him feel good; doing it to her twice, but she'd made it very clear that she didn't want to go with him. He knew her mother was still very much alive, so nothing had changed there. But the bigger problem was her insecurities of being left alone. There was nothing he could do about that, either. That was the life of a Starfleet officer. Maybe one day they would relax the rules and allow families on board, but it hadn't happened yet.

This was his last chance to change lives. Their lives. Will had twenty four hours to alter the course of history, if he could find her and get her alone, because as sure as the stars shone bright, Will knew that Deanna Troi would run, whether she wanted to, or not. He knew that fear had a firm grip on her soul and he was going to have use every bit of his cunning and charm to reach her.

But he had to get tonights performance out of the way first.

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