By Carol Sandford


Chapter 12


"Hello, Kathleen, please, come in."

Ensign Carson's appointment with the Counselor was initially scheduled for tomorrow, but Deanna used the excuse of double-booking and asked her to move it forward to today. In truth, Deanna wanted the opportunity to re-access her opinion of the young woman before any more 'incidents' occurred.

It had been a long time since Deanna had seen Will thrown into such a state of discomfort. She'd know it was initially her fault, something she would never forgive herself for. But she'd also known that Will had forgiven her, their friendship was safe, but she wanted to do this for him. She wanted to get to the bottom of the enigma that now sat opposite her smiling.

Deanna smiled back, despite what had happened, there was still a kindred affinity between them. "I hear you've been getting into mischief with the Commander again."

The Betazoid was surprised when the woman before turned beetroot red, it was also then that she'd know her hunch was right; Kathleen Carson was infatuated with Will Riker. "You know your going to get into serious trouble, maybe even removed from the ship. I know that's not what you want, Kathleen, why are trying to jump on your superior's nose? You'll only get slapped off eventually, and you're too bright for that."

She smiled tentatively, clearly keen to reveal her ultimate goal, but unsure of the Counselor's loyalty to her fellow comrade, "Oh, I'm done with behaving like a spoiled brat. I intend apologising to the Commander for being such a jerk. I'm sure he'll be relieved to hear it, he's been marvellous to me, I will never be able to forget his...kindness towards me."

Deanna hid her puzzlement with difficulty. That word, that one word and the way it was said, kindness, totally threw her. It was unexpected and odd, and she just had to get to the bottom of it, "I got the impression the Commander was being anything but kind to you."

The ensign grinned, "Oh, he's just a bear face on, but he's very soft and gentle once you get past that."

Deanna's blood run cold and she was sure her face had just drained of colour, but Kathleen hadn't noticed because she was looking down at her lap with a very enigmatic and shy look upon her face. It was then Deanna knew something had happened between the two of them, despite Will's denial.

It was with shock that she realised how it had truly been. Kathleen hadn't come on to him, Will had been the one. Will had made a pass at Kathleen! She couldn't stop the gasp that slipped through her tense lips, her eyes shone brilliant with knowledge and dismay, and much to her utter horror, treachery.

Somehow, Deanna centered herself quickly, taking a deep cleansing breath and tried to sooth her soul. The image of Will and Kathleen together continued to swim before her, taunting and laughing and Deanna felt her evil invisible twin clamouring up from somewhere deep inside her and do a little of its own taunting. "Do you know anything about Commander Riker, Kathleen. Have you 'checked him out' as it were, seen if he's dating anyone on board. Or is maybe even married?"

Kathleen frowned, clearly thrown by the Counselors line of questioning. Truth is, Kathleen didn't know too much about the man she'd intended having for herself. She'd known that he was popular, handsome with blue eyes to die for, and could deliver a kiss that was dynamite, " actually. I do know he's not married as I checked for a Mrs. Riker a few days ago."

Deanna's heart came to a full stop, "Why?"

Kathleen blinked, "Why, what?"

"Why did you check to see if there was a, Mrs. Riker?"

"Because I didn't want to step on anyone's toes. I like Commander Riker...a lot, I just wanted to know that if I got the the opportunity to...take our relationship further, I wasn't hurting anybody."

Deanna sat back in her chair, trying her best to look cool and collected, her long fingernails tapping quietly on the desk top, "What if there was someone...special, someone who would be deeply hurt by your actions?

Their eyes met and the cosmos stopped, just for an instant. Everything except the pounding of their hearts, pumping in painful unison. Ultimately, Kathleen who broke the silence and asked the question that Deanna knew she was going to struggle answering. "Is there?"

The truth of it was, was she special enough to have a right to halt any possible relationship between them, and why this one? Will had countless affairs that were as shallow as any relationship could be. But this girl... This girl rattled Will, and in all her years experience, she'd known that a rattled man was a man that was fighting his feelings rather than his hormones.

And Will's feelings were definitely adrift with Kathleen Carson.

Deanna's breath along with her admission, came out as one and she mentally crossed her fingers, hoping that Will would forgive her if it ever become known what she'd done, "Yes, there is."

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