By Carol Sandford


Chapter 09


"I hear you feinted in Commander Riker's office yesterday. Trying to get out of your reprimand by any chance?"

Kathleen wasn't sure if Doctor Crusher was being serious until she saw the feint twitch of her lips and the sparkle in her eyes. She watched the tri-corder run up and down in front of her and then seconds later, the doctor switching it off, "You check out fine, I guess it must have been the stress of the moment - either that or Commander Riker's overpowering aftershave that he insists on gassing us all with."

Kathleen chuckled as she slid off the bio-bed and followed the Doctor towards her office. She felt justified in defending her Commander although she didn't know why, she knew she was in for a severe roasting and a permanent blight on her record. "Oh, it wasn't his fault, I guess I just forgot to eat, thats all. I hope I behave better later when I have to go back."

Even Beverly recognised the girl's inner terror and even though she was on Will's side, the stories that had been running rampant around the ship had been welcome for their light relief from the normal humdrum gossip. "Okay, Ensign, I know what a bear the Commander can be, I'll recommend that he go easy on you. Just do me a favour okay, be a good girl from now on."

Kathleen's mouth broke into a smile, the first genuine smile she'd let free for a long time. Giving the Doc a brief light-hearted salute, she uttered her thanks and left the sickbay very conscious that her next stop was Commander Riker's office once more.


Will had decided to make Ensign Carson's castigation as painless as possible, opting to take, on the Doctors advice, the laid back approach. so when the woman in question stepped through his doors barely ten minutes after Crusher's report hit his screen, Will was seated on his easy chair, waiting.

"Come in, Ensign, sit yourself down."

Kathleen hesitated on the threshold, uncertain of what or why her c.o. was doing, "Sir?"

Will's voice rose a little, "Sit down, Ensign, I'm not going to give you the chance to feint on me today, we have things to discuss and we are going to discuss them in comfort and safety."

Kathleen hesitantly stepped towards the proffered seat and sat on its edge, nervously rubbing her palms along her thighs, waiting. "Sir, I'm truly sorry for what has happened over the past couple of days. I know it was highly immature, stupid and humiliating for you, and for that I am really sorry, and it'll never happen again, you have my word."

Will pushed himself back in the chair and crossed his legs. Kathleen licked her lips shakily as she watched Will mull over her words, but her heart hit the floor when he simply said, "But that's not good enough, Ensign. How am I supposed to let you remain on board knowing what you think of your senior officers and your apparent disregard for any form of professionalism with your choice of words?"

Will couldn't help himself from pushing to a stand as the humiliating scene in Ten forward come back to taunt him once more; As Deanna's mirth crushed his soul into a thousand sharp shards, each one piercing a tiny part of him with pain and disappointment.

Kathleen came to a stand herself, unsure what to do or what to say. Will was clearly still livid with her, but she sensed that it was more than that, much more but she didn't understand what, or why. Why did a few choice words threaten him to the point that he erupted into a festering volcano every time he thought of something?

Her heart thumped as she waited for him to get off his chest whatever it was he clearly needed to remove. He prowled back and forth, back and forth in front of her until at last he came to a full stop, anger pouring from every pore of his body, his eyes spitting fire and hatred, at her.

"Damn you, Ensign." She was startled when he suddenly grasped her upper arms and shook her. She could feel his inner force as he struggled to contain himself. Her eyes searched his; scared and strangely exhilarated by the turn of events that were unfolding in the room.

But no one was more surprised than she when Will ceased shaking her and roughly pulled her body against his, muttering hoarsely into her hair, "Damn you." Suddenly gripping a handful of her hair, Kathleen felt her head being turned forcibly and his mouth clamping onto her, his kiss rough, demanding, angry and so, so erotic. Kathleen felt herself go weak at the knees, and only his firm masterly hold stopped her from collapsing at his feet.

But as suddenly as it began, it ended as Will pushed her violently away from him, his bitter words hoarse and forced, "Get out."

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