By Carol Sandford


Chapter 11


"What do you mean she's gone. Gone where!?"

William Riker stood upon Deanna Troi's doorstep the following day, dumb-founded. It was nearly noon and Will thought that he'd pick Deanna up and they'd have a picnic lunch together, somewhere quiet - like maybe the arboretum.

But instead of finding himself staring at Deanna Troi, he was being openly stared at by her mother, her eyes alight with fascination at his quandary, and he was in a quandary. Did the woman mean, 'Gone, disappeared?' or, 'Gone, gone shopping?'

He got his answer when she stuck her nose in the air and sniffed derisively, "The Troi's do not go shopping, Mr. Riker. My daughter, not that it is any concern of yours, has gone away for a while."

Gone. Disappeared. Will wilted inwardly, She lied to me. She doesn't want to see me after all.

"She thought that it would be best if you didn't see each other again, Mr. Riker." she finished, turning away from him, preparing to close the door.

Will started forward, slipping his arm forward enough to stop the door's closure, "She thought, Mrs. Troi, or you thought?" Will asked gamely, his words tinged with bitterness.

The moment Will had invaded her space she turned back around, shooting him a look that could wither a slug on sight. "As much my daughter respects my decisions, there are some things that only she decides, and she has decided, Mr. Riker, that what happened between you two last night, will never happen again."

Will blinked twice as he absorbed, not only the shock of Deanna's betrayal, but that her mother seemed to know the intimate details of their night together. Before she could slip another damning word out, Will recaptured his pride and stepped back, straightening his torso, and his scattered wits, "Very well, Mrs. Troi. Thank you for letting me know where I stand. Good afternoon." He spun on his heels and walked away without a backward glance.


"That's not quite what I said, mother." said Deanna, stepping out of the shadows.

Lwaxana sighed deeply as she slowly pushed the door shut, watching the tall man's stiff, retreating figure with regret. She genuinely liked the young lieutenant, and liked where he was going with his life. The man had high hopes and had enough bravado to achieve them. Oh, she didn't like that he was a Starfleet officer, or that his life would be on the line every minute of the day, as well as her daughter's if she went with him.

But, he was her Imzadi now, and that changed the status quo a little. A lot, she amended with a grimace, turning to face Deanna. "You said you didn't want to see him, little one. You didn't tell me how long for. I only assumed that things didn't turn out quite like you had planned last night?"

Lwaxana was fishing and she knew it, waiting to see if Deanna would tell her the truth about what happened between them. Telepathy was a wonderful thing when one couldn't get their own way, but Deanna was her only child, and she liked to imagine that she would still come to her, talk to her about anything and everything, including last night.

But she was dashed, and disappointed when Deanna said, as she turned away and walked disappointedly up the long staircase, "No, they didn't."

Oh, yes, they did, Little One. Yes, they did.


"Turned you down, did she, boy?" Tang's gruff voice, lit with merriment, boomed through Will's office.

"Shut up, Tang," Will groused, burying his head in the file that he had in front of him, not seeing one word on it. "A lady is entitled to change her mind."

Tang laughed out-right at Will's preposterous statement. "Riker, you are talking about a Troi. You are not talking about some young filly that has got within your grubby little paws. You are talking about a woman with substance. You are talking about royalty, as near damn it." He ploughed on regardless of the pained look on the younger man's handsome face. "You are talking about Lwaxana Troi's daughter. She would not change her mind."

Spinning around the chair, Tang hoisted one leg up and put his big booted foot upon it, leaned his arm on it and lowered his face to Will's level, looking him straight in the eye. "So," he demanded, "what are you going to do about it - her?" he emended.

Will rose his sky-blue eyes and looked into his friend's with determination, "Nothing."


"Nothing," he confirmed, "If Deanna changes her mind, she knows where to find me."

"Oh. And what if by some crummy misfortune, you get hoisted off this rock before that happens?" Tang asked.

"Nah, never happen. I'm stuck here for at least another month, maybe more. Plenty of time for Ms. Troi to come begging for my body again." he sneered good-naturedly, his age and chauvinism clearly coming to the fore.

Tang shook his head, smiling with age-old wisdom. "Young Riker, you have got a lot to learn about women." Coming upright again, he pushed the chair back to its original position and headed for the door, but not without saying his parting, and very wise words, "Will, if you want her, you're gonna have to do the begging."

It was on the tip of Will's tongue to shout back at him that he didn't beg for anything, or anyone, but held back the ridiculous comment. Did he want her enough to go after her? Did he love her enough to beg?

No! he vowed, and then, moments later, he pushed himself out of his chair, determination consuming his every pore and thought.

Dammit, yes, I would!

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