By Carol Sandford


Chapter 04


"You look like you need a shoulder. Talk to me, Deanna."

Deanna sighed heavily as her friend came and sat beside her. The tissue that she systematically shredded within her fingers crumbled in her lap and she sighed again at the futility of it all. "I'm okay, Chan, really."

Chandra's eyebrows rose. "Oh, really. Do you normally shred paper hankies like that? And, girl, has your hair seen a comb today?"

"Gee, thanks." Deanna grumbled.

"Don't mention it - that's what friends are for. Now, talk to me."

"It's Will." She began.

"That's good - isn't it?"

Deanna sighed again. "Chan, you remember how much my father worked away from home. Sometimes we didn't see him for months."

Chandra began to see the light. "Like Will would - does." She emended.

There was a long silence as Chandra waited for Deanna to go on. "It was hard for us, you know?" Chandra nodded understandingly. "She rode every crisis, handled every decision - practically brought me up single-handed. Everything I achieved in my life, It was only ever my mother I saw in the audience, sitting so alone. It was hard, Chan."

"I know it was, baby." Chandra soothed, her head touching hers as she pulled Deanna closer.

"Daddy used to come home, after months away with a small token for me and some garish lump of jewellery for Mother, we'd be ecstatically happy for a little while and then he'd be off again, neither one of knowing whether he would come home again..." Deanna trailed off, unsure suddenly how she felt about revealing her inner turmoils.

Chandra squeezed Deanna's shoulders, bringing her out of the past to the present. "Hey, tell me who that woman is that I see strutting around the town as though she owns it. Tell me who that woman is that has her nose into every pie, interferes with everybody's business, and, I might add, who is admired for being one hell of a lady."

"Deanna," Chandra added gently, "Look at who you two have become. Look at your mother, look at you. Your dad did the best that he could, but best of all, he loved you. Will loves you, Deanna, I am certain of that. Are you going to throw that away for something infinitely more precious?"

"But Mother was always so sad, Chan." Deanna cried. "She missed him so much."

"Talk to her, Dee. Hear her side of the story. I think you'll be surprised."

"You think?"

"I do. Talk to her, and then," she added with a suspicious wink, "and then you can finally go on this date."

"Which date?" Deanna asked nervously.

Chandra winked again. "Oh, you know. **That** date. I know it hasn't happened yet." She stood to leave but not before adding, "It's time, Deanna."


"I've never asked you about Dad," she broached, once the gossip had been caught up on. "How did you cope?" Deanna asked. "All those weeks - months when he wasn't there for you."

"Oh, but he was there for me, little one!" Deanna's mother, Lwaxana Troi said, quite shocked that Deanna should think otherwise. "He was always there for me - for all of us - in his heart."

Deanna was shocked and embarrassed. To think that she hadn't been able to sense that during all those months - and the years since - her father had been away yet still there at home, for them. All kinds of emotions run through her mind.

Her mother knew her confusion. "This is about that young lieutenant, isn't it, little one?" she asked. Deanna couldn't raise her eyes or open her mind - her misery and embarrassment too acute, too raw.

"I'm not like you, mother, I couldn't handle the emptiness, or him...leaving me."

Her mother smiled at her tenderly and took her chilled fingers within hers, forcing her to listen to her. "It's simple, really, Deanna, can you handle his never coming back...?" she asked softly, already knowing the answer.

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