By Carol Sandford


Chapter 44


He thought maybe it would take him maybe half an hour to pack away his belongings, but every time he picked something up, folded it and tucked it away into his holdall, Will didn?t seem to be able to stop himself from slowly wandering around the room, coming to a halt each time in front of the small window that over-looked the large landscaped area before the camp.

Even though his heart, and his common sense told him that Deanna wouldn?t come to him, he silently wished that she would. Outside he watched shadows move in the moonlight and thought, hoped that one of them was her, coming to him, only to deflate with immense disappointment when they disappeared out of sight and he was forced to move his thoughts, and his feet back to the task at hand.

The first inkling that he wasn?t alone came as he stuffed, with a little more force than necessary, a pair of socks into a spare corner of the bag and he felt his spine stiffen with a combination of reasons.

Had she come to him? And now that she was here, did he really want to see her? He didn?t know what he was going to say to her. He wasn?t even sure if he could face her now. When he had left her barely a scant couple of hours ago, Will didn?t even know if he was going to be granted his reassignment. It had taken a lot of coercion, a lot of bull-headed bravado, and finally it had taken threats to get him what he wanted;

Off this rock. Away from Deanna, and to the freedom that he was certain that he wanted.

But, God help him, if he was going to have to face her again before their pre-arranged time, he wasn?t sure if he was going to be able to uphold any one of his many excuses.

The pull towards Deanna consumed each and every pore. Each and every coherent thought. Each and every indecision. Each and every one of them was eating him alive and he?d all but run out of the strength to fight them off.

But when he heard the very unmistakable rustle of the stiff material that only seemed to adorn one particular woman on Betazed, the breath left his lungs on a relieved whoosh. With his hands now shaking from the released tension that had gripped him, Will picked up another pair of socks from his bed, he carried on stuffing them into another corner of his bag. The silence was unnerving, but the anticipation of what was to come was even more daunting.

Without turning to face her, Will spoke first. "You didn?t have to come all the way out here in the middle of the night to tell me what a bastard I am, Mrs. Troi, I already know."

Turning only his head towards her as she stepped into the room, Will waited for the inevitable tongue lashing that he was certain that he deserved. But she surprised him, yet again. The woman never ceased to stupefy him. She had so many hidden depths, talents, and a knowledge about life, and all it?s quirks, he was constantly in awe of her, and constantly wary of her too.

Her casual stroll towards him didn?t fool him either. The woman was on a mission and it was clear that she had come to say some things that he really did not want to hear, certainly not right now when his heart was bleeding with pain.

Instead of moving in beside him, like he expected her to do, Will coyly watched as she made her way over to the same window that had pulled him, God knows how many times, towards it. As she spoke, their eyes caught for a brief moment. "I know you do, William, but I?d thank you to not use that language within my earshot, please, Lieutenant."

His mumbled, ?sorry?, was quickly shot down with a quick retort. "No you?re not."

Will?s eyebrows rose along with his eyes as they met hers once more. "No, I?m not, you?re right. I?m worse."

It was her turn for her eyes to relay her surprise. "Why? Because you couldn?t conform to a custom that your world has never heard about, or ever had the privilege of experiencing? Nor was it your fault, William that Deanna went out of her way to make sure that you became Imzadi."

Lwaxana pushed herself away from the window and slowly made her way towards him, her voice low with regret. "The only way you could have stopped that, William, was to never have come here, or not had fallen in love with my daughter."

Will went to open his mouth to speak, but she stopped him before he could get one word out and he closed it again with a snap. "That was taken out of your hands before you had even put your two big feet upon my planet."

The instant she had put the simple reason into viable words, the answer came to him as clearly as dawn breaking on the horizon.

"Destiny." He breathed, not even bothering to hide the touch of awe that slipped into the natural conclusion as it fell from his lips. It wasn?t a question. It was a statement of fact, and Lwaxana answered with a tiny nod of her own head.

"Destiny." she confirmed needlessly.

For a long respectful moment, they stood and let the word settle between them. Such a powerful word, and equally, a word that could turn about on its heels and destroy; Beauty and the Beast. The Devil and the Divine. Heaven and Hell.

Which was which?

As Will tried in vain to claw his way back towards Heaven, he could only feel Hell grabbing him by the ankles and pull him back down. *To where?* he wondered. He thought he was already there, or almost there. A couple more hours and he would be. A couple more hours and the pain that was steadily ripping out his soul was going to succeed in it?s sadistic task.

Will gasped as he tried to keep down the rising wave of agony that began to engulf him as he tried valiantly to hold it together before one of the few people who knew what he was going through, and it made him as angry as hell.

"So why has Destiny kicked us both in the proverbial nu....teeth?" he emended as he spotted the familiar unamused rise of her eyebrows. "Why aren?t Deanna and I going to get a chance at fulfilling our destiny, Mrs. Troi? Tell me why not...please." he pleaded, with his heart on his sleeve.

"Because," she said sadly, "you?re the one who?s stopping it from happening. The human part of you is fighting it every step of the way. It won?t give in, Will, not even knowing what it is about to lose, even though it is killing you inside."

Lwaxana blinked back the sudden tears that rose as she watched the man before her go pale with guilt; to know that it was his fault that all the pain and suffering was down to him alone. Down to his inability to give in. But even faced with the truth, his life-long demands to follow his dream still far out-weighed what Destiny had offered him.

Will?s eyes sparkled suspiciously bright as he took his pain, and some of his anger out on Lwaxana. "Why did you allow it to happen to us? You could have had me kicked off this planet before I?d gotten off my ship. You had the foresight, and the power to have stopped all this before it had a chance to start."

Her simple shrug dismissed his blame as though she expected it, even welcomed it. Will had a lot of guilt to rid himself from before he left her homeworld. It was true, she did have the power to do everything that he?d said, and more besides, but life wasn?t made to be that easy. She, of all people, knew that better than most, despite what it had cost her.

"Because I selfishly wanted my daughter to have her chance of happiness, as I had had,Will. I had to give her the opportunity to become your Imzadi. I could never have forgiven myself if I had purposely stopped the natural course of what was to happen."

Lwaxana turned away from him and headed back towards the window once more, leaning her arms along it?s edge as she stared out in the darkness, sadness radiating from her as she lost herself to a memory that was hers alone.

Will stayed silent, instinctively knowing that she was going to say more, and moments later she continued. "The day I met Deanna?s father, Ian, is as vivid to me as though it were only yesterday. I knew...I instantly knew, as soon as I saw him that he was mine."

She chuckled sadly at a memory. "He came with a hundred or so other men, but I was aware, more than aware before he had disembarked that he was my destiny."

Resting her cheek on her forearms, she turned to face Will, a tender smile lighting up her face even though the sheen of tears still brightened her eyes. "I wanted Deanna to know happiness, Will. I wanted her to feel what I felt when I met Ian."

"Ian died, Mrs. Troi, I might too." The stark admission knifed him the heart, knowing that it would have felt the same to her too.

"And if you hadn?t have come here, Deanna would never have known true Imzadi."

Will nodded slowly, an ancient proverb suddenly appearing in his head, making sense of Lwaxana?s reasoning. "Better to have loved than to not have loved at all." he recited, aloud.

Lwaxana pushed herself to a stand and started towards him again. "A very prophetic quote, William. I couldn?t have said it better myself."

Once again, they found themselves head to head again, sadness permeating the air around them as it waited for an answer even though neither of them had one, and both of them knew that.

"I can?t stay, Mrs. Troi." Will said, with sorrow.

"I know you can?t."

Will tipped his head in puzzlement. "Then why did you allow us tonight?" he wondered.

She turned away again, this time, heading for the door. "You both needed closure, and a last opportunity to reinforce your bond."

Lwaxana pulled open the door, stopping before she took the steps that would end their heart to heart but feeling the need to explain her strange parting words, she added, "Your bond has got a long time to hold you two together, but be warned, it won?t wait forever."

Something surged through Will. "How long?" he asked, his heart thumping with expectancy of her answer.

Her smile was etched with conspiracy. "That?s for Destiny to decide, that and maybe a little effort from you or Deanna."

Feeling happier than he had felt for eons, Will couldn?t help but smile. "Thank you, Mrs. Troi."

She smiled back. "For what?"

Will raised his hand and rested his palm against the unsteady beat of his heart and whispered as a fresh wave of emotion rose up from it?s depths. "For giving us something to live for."

Will was smiling as he turned away from the door, relieved that the confrontation with Deanna?s mother had gone much better than he could have ever hoped for. She was an astounding woman; full of depth and a deep understanding for things that weren?t the norm. Her own history had prepared her the harsher realities of life. Only she would know how both he and Deanna were feeling. Only she would know how their lives were going to play out.

But his relief was short lived as he barely had time to pick up the T-shirt from his bed when, this time, Will heard rather than sensed Lwaxana as she hovered in his doorway.

"By the way, William, when was the first time you had sex?"

As he swung his gaze back towards the door, the only thing that gave away his surprise was his raised eyebrows. He toyed as to whether he should answer or not, but then figured that the scene that just ran through his mind would have been like sitting in a movie theatre for her, Will quickly gave in, but not entirely. "Alone or with a woman?"

Her smile was indulgent. "Very amusing. Answer the question, Lieutenant."

Will sighed dramatically. "What has this got to do with my relationship with Deanna, Mrs. Troi?"

Only waiting silence met his reasonable question.

Will sighed again, well aware that he was already beaten. "I was fifteen and a half, and it was as messy as hell, for a variety of reasons." Will inwardly cringed with embarrassment at the long past hellish memory. He hadn?t even gotten near to the girl?s reproductive system before losing, not only his pride, but the pathetic release of manly liquid that went everywhere but where it was intended. He?d been so inexperienced and naive, an so dumb that he?d humiliated himself just purely by the erotic kiss that they were indulging in. And worse still, she had laughed at him Will inwardly groaned, his eyes slipping shut at the monumental failure that haunted him still.

"So it was nothing like that with Deanna?" Lwaxana prompted.

It took a moment to register Lwaxana?s voice, and her personal question, but when it did, Will realised that she had intimately witnessed his first bungled step into adulthood and was suitably shocked with her indelicacy. "Mrs. Troi! I..."

She waved away his indignancy with a flip of her manicured hand. "Humour me, William."

A different memory filled Will?s head, a memory of a beautiful woman that gave everything to him, and more than he could have ever imagined. He?d taken it and cherished the honour. He swelled with pride. "No, Mrs. Troi." murmured, "nothing could even come close to what I had with Deanna. It was amazing." Will?s heart lifted, the first time it seemed, for a long time, and with it came the familiar grin. "Your daughter amazing, Mrs. Troi, but then you know that anyway, don?t you?"

The tender smile they shared as she closed the door behind her as she left meant more to Will than he would ever admit. Giving him that precious gift of hope meant that his final meeting with Deanna wasn?t going to hurt quite as much as he dreaded.

But it was still going to hurt, regardless.

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