THE ANNIVERSARY

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 02

 
 

The two men took in each other's features and both quickly realised that they looked as bad as each other. Muscles twitched in their jaws in a bid to hold their tongues, each equally afraid to say something to one another that they would regret later.

"She's not here." Said Will reluctantly but suddenly wishing that she was just so that he could see his reaction to the news. But seeing him face to face, he quickly changed his mind.

"I know she's not, I can see that in your eyes. I'd know if she were." He stated with confident misery reminding Will that the link that was once between he and Deanna was as strong between her and Thomas, but then he added somewhat hesitantly, "But I had to make sure. Can I come in, Will?"

Will took a step back and Thomas took it as acceptance. Thomas' eyes swept the cabin finding nothing that would indicate that Deanna had been there. It soon became evident that she hadn't been back into the place since the day that he took her from it. Tom's face found Wills again. "I want my wife back. I have to find her. I'm desperate, Will, which is the only reason why I've come to you."

"Why should I help you, you son-of-a-bitch, you stole her from me, remember?" Will snarled, taking a threatening step towards his adversary only stopping as Thomas stepped back away from his, his hand held up in submission.

"I don't want to fight with you, Will. I just want to find my wife. Will you help me, or not?"

With exasperation, Will exploded. "Why in hell would I know where my ex-wife is? Christ, Tom, she could be anywhere! Have you considered that she may have been kidnapped, or something?"

"No, no, I know nothing like that has happened," he clarified quickly. "She...she left a note saying that she just had to get away, so I know that she's all right at least."

A heavily silence followed, a silence as Will sensed that there was something amiss. "And?" He asked with unease.

This time it was Thomas who threw himself uninvited down onto the settee. "That's just it, I don't know!" he cried. "I seem to have done something wrong, but for the hell of me I don't know what!"

Will went cold with the familiarity of the words as they bounced around the room and settling over them both like a heavy blanket. Suddenly he felt sorry for his brother, but not too much. He had stolen his wife, after all. He deserved to suffer. But he had flung those self same words at her four years ago and she had retorted by walking out on her, 'prison sentence' as she had called it. God, that had stung.

"I still don't know why you've come to me, Tom. I have no idea where she is, and besides, even if I did - which I don't, maybe Deanna doesn't want to be found."

Thomas surprised Will by starting quietly, "She often talks of you, you know." He shrugged. "I suppose comparisons were inevitable. And she has a very high regard for you. In fact, lately I've come to the conclusion that she thinks more of you than she does of...."

He broke off and leaned forward suddenly, his whole body sagging. Will put aside his differences, deciding that, for the moment, he would be the one to offer the twig. "Do you want a drink?"

Tom's head barely moved in acceptance as he stared at the floor between his knees. Will got one for himself as well as Tom and handed the amber liquid to him. Tom downed his in one go and shuddered as it's effect rippled through his body. "Thanks," he murmured, "I needed that."

"Another?" Asked Will as he sipped at his own.

"No, thanks. The last thing Deanna wants or needs is a drunk on her hands."

Shamefacedly Will stared down into the remaining contents of his own glass, swirled the amber liquid around before slipping it onto the table beside him and knowing full well that his days of drinking himself into a stupor were behind him.

Thomas looked up into Will's face and offered him a grim smile. "I'm sorry for having to do this to you, Will. I know you're probably still sore at us." Will's eyebrows rose with the absurdity of his statement. Sore was the understatement of the year. "Yeah, all right," Tom continued. "You're bloody pissed as hell at us. But, hell, Will, I do love her, you know?"

Will felt the fight drain out of his body. Of course he knew he loved her. Everybody loved her, including himself, probably still as much as the man opposite him.

"I really don't know where she is, Tom. Hell, I didn't even know that she was your wife. That's how much we've been out of touch."

"Help me find her, Will. Please."

Will sighed. "Where have you looked?"

"Everywhere that I know of. Home, her friends, colleagues. No one has seen her."

"Or no one is admitting to seeing her." Will amended for him.

A spark of hope flared in Tom's eyes. "Who...?"

"Leave it with me, Tom. Remember, you're still the bad guy amongst our circle. You are not going to get anywhere with any of them. They'll talk to me," he said confidently. "And, by God, I'll find her, even if I have to go and drag her skinny butt home myself. Deanna Troi is done running. She's run all her life. It's time she stopped."

Tom rose to his feet. "Let me help."

"No, not yet. Trust me, I can find her a lot faster without you turning the world's population sour just for seeing your ugly face."

"Yours is ugly, too." Tom grinned, relief already lightening his heart at finding a helping hand, even if the hand was from the most unlikeliest of allies.

"Ah, but, people still love me." Will grinned back.

~*~

Arranging for Thomas to take a cabin on board the Titan until he had located Deanna, Will sat at his personal computer and searched for the only person that Will was sure would know where she would be, despite Thomas' numerous attempts to grill her before. After checking the whereabouts of the medical ship that carried his quarry, Will took the next step and called it's captain.

"Beverly."

"Will!" She replied back, clearly thrilled to hear from him, but equally wary as to the reason why he was calling her. It had been almost a year since they'd last spoken and it hadn't been a pleasant encounter. Even though Doctor Beverly Crusher was no longer his doctor, she had still lectured and cajoled him to behave in a more captainly manner than he had been. He hadn't liked being told to get a life, and certainly not by her. If anyone knew how much he was hurting, it was Beverly. He expected more sympathy from her. He didn't get it. Not one smidgen.

"Still bumming around that ship of yours pretending to be pathetic?" The smirk on her face took the sting out her words.

"Yep. I just need one good day to die, Beverly. Unfortunately today is not a good day." He took a deep breath. "I've got Thomas here. He's looking for Deanna. Wanna put her on for me?"

"Whatever gave you the idea that she's here, Will?"

"Because I know you, Miss Crusher, and I know my wife. Ex-wife." He amended, with a blush. "Put her on."

Will watched bemused as Beverly studied him for several moments before reluctantly stepping aside and allowing the woman that obviously hovered beside her step into his view.

Will hadn't been prepared to see her again so soon and seeing her so close up made his heart hurt at what he'd lost. Despite an obvious fatigue, Deanna still looked gorgeous to him. She had changed her hair, somewhat but beneath that, she was still the same woman that he loved, even though she now belonged to Tom. But, he reminded himself, she was Tom's wife now and he wanted her back, badly. Badly enough to have to grovel to him. What else could he do but help, even if he'd spend the rest of his life regretting it.

"Hello, Will."

Will licked his suddenly-dry lips. "Hello, Deanna. Are you okay?"

She nodded, the motion revealing a light shimmer of tears in her tired eyes. "How did you find me?"

"It wasn't hard. You seem to forget that I know you as well as I know myself, Deanna. There are only two people that you would flee to in times of a crisis. Your mother is one, Beverly is the other. It was an easy assumption that you'd chose Beverly. You'd have to be completely insane to run home to your mother, and I know you're not that. Not yet."

"Have you heard from Thomas?" She asked, trepidation replacing the tears.

Will nodded, confirming her question then suddenly reluctant to tell her that he was here with him. "We've talked. He's worried about you, Deanna."

Fear replaced the trepidation. "I know he is. He must be so mad at me."

"No, he's not mad at you, he's concerned." Will looked at her with new eyes, the shock of seeing her shifting so that he could see the real her, noticing the pallor of her olive skin and nerves that made her visibly tremble. "Are you really okay, Deanna?"

Her nod was jerky as she looked down at her hands, hidden out of his view. "Yes. I just needed...I just..." She trailed off, unable to finish what she was going to say, scared of revealing more than she was willing.

Impulsively, Will asked, "Can I come and see you - talk to you, face to face?"

Startled, Deanna gasped, "No! No...I mean...what for? It won't achieve anything. I'm not ready to go back, not yet."

Will zoomed in on her admittance. "You're going to go back? When, Deanna? Tom is beside himself with worry."

She visibly wilted and he saw Beverly's hand snake across and settle around Deanna's shoulders, offering her the comfort and support that she needed. She lifted her own trembling hand and covered it, grateful for the touch and understanding. "I know he is, Will," She murmured sadly, tears swelling once more in her beautiful obsidian eyes, tearing Will's heart apart again at seeing the familiar and painful sight. "but I'm not ready. There are...things I need to resolve. Things I need to accept before I can see him.

"See me first, Deanna. Talk to me, Let me help you if I can. You owe us that, at least." He hit very below the belt, the only place that he knew where she would respond. She did owe him, and Thomas, big time, and with all that was at stake he didn't care what he had to say or do to achieve his goal. He refused to think about the fact that he was helping his enemy, and he didn't think about the consequences of their reunion, a reunion that was probably going to set his road to a life without Deanna back some. He only knew that a lot of people were hurting and it was within his still tender heart and power to get everyone's life back on track.

Seeing Thomas and knowing he was suffering as Will had once done had almost dissolved the last remaining traces of animosity towards his brother. He knew he could never fully forgive him for taking his soulmate away from him, but he could understand why he had. She was his soulmate, too. Thomas had arrived at a particularly fragile point in Deanna's life and he'd swept her away from him on a tidal wave of promises.

She nervously glanced at Beverly, licking her lips to moisten them before turning back to face the screen, a decision and a hint of a smile lighting up her face. "I would love to see you again, Will. How far are you away from us?"

In his mind, Will was already on his way suddenly eager to see her again, uncaring that he was taking her husband with him. "I can be there late tonight. My second in command is more than capable of running the show for a couple of days."

Deanna nodded. "All right, I'll see you then. Will?" she said nervously, "Tell Tom I'm okay, won't you?"

Will nodded back. "I will, Deanna. I promise." And after a long lingering moment, Will deliberately severed the connection on a sigh. Was he ready to see her face to face? he wondered. Was he strong enough to take her hand and put it back into Thomas's?

In a few hours time, he would find out.

 
     
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