By Carol Sandford


Chapter 06


"Initial thoughts, Miss Carter"

As the senior crew and Stephanie made themselves comfortable around the conference table, Picard addressed her in a brusque manner.

"Well sir, my initial tests have come back very positive. The preliminary readings show that the planets crust has not shifted dramatically for at least 500 years. But I can’t be any more definite than that until the equipment is checked in three days time. One thing though, I’m a little concerned about the planet’s atmosphere, it appears to very volatile and tomorrow I would like to send a probe in to see just what we are dealing with."

Picard nodded his agreement, turning to his Number One, he was surprised to see him staring into his lap. "Commander Riker, first thing tomorrow...Commander Riker, are you listening?"

Lost in his thoughts, Will’s startled eyes flew up from his lap which were hiding his nervous, laced, traitorous fingers. Flushing slightly at having been caught out, he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Yes sir, it's been a long day. My apologies. My team is whipped. I...I guess I’m more tired than I thought, sorry"

Deanna watched Will steadily as he flitted through every emotion. From embarrassment, to guilt, from guilt to terror, and surprisingly shyness. For as long as Deanna had know Will she had never known him to be shy, except maybe one brief moment when they had first met and he’d had to disrobe for Chandra’s wedding.

Deanna’s gaze flickered to Stephanie Carter. She didn’t have to delve into the younger woman’s mind to know what was happening within her pretty head, it was written all over her face. Her slim body visibly radiated her need for the man sitting opposite her. Did he even realize? Something had happened on the planet and Will Riker was scared stupid. Deanna’s attention was recaptured by the captain.

"...we will launch the probe first thing tomorrow, until then, I suggest you all get some rest. Dismissed."

As they all got to their feet, Deanna wasn’t surprised when Will requested ’a moment of her time’. She knew she was about to find out what transpired on the surface.

"Of course, Commander, my office, ten minutes?"

Nodding his agreement, Will exited the ready room before anyone else had a chance to waylay him.


"I’ve got to straighten her out, Deanna, for my own sanity. I have got to make her see that these feelings are just infatuation or I’ll go crazy."

Seated behind her desk, Deanna watched Will prowl around her office like a caged animal. It had been a long time since she had seen him this agitated. In an effort to ease Will’s unease, Deanna struck a casual pose. Holding her head within her palms as her elbows rested on the desk top, her thoughtful gaze followed Will’s rigid posture. Eventually she spoke quietly, asking him the obvious. "So what’s stopping you, Will?"

With a huge downhearted sigh, he perched on the corner of the desk as he thought about his answer surprising not only Deanna but himself when he voiced it aloud. "Me." His eyes found hers praying that she understood his predicament, she didn’t.

"Why, for heavens sake? If you don’t want to pursue this with her, you have to be honest, but if you do...” Riker looked away. At his reaction, Deanna knew that she had hit the nail on head. That was what Will was afraid to say aloud. He was attracted to Stephy, even though he wouldn’t act on those feelings.

Standing, Deanna made her way around the desk to stand in front of Will. Simply silently staring at each other for several long moments, Deanna reached out to caress his cheek with the back of her finger, her voice tender and teasing as she barely whispered to him. "Go to her, Will, be honest with her and with yourself. It’s difficult, I know, but you know that you have to do this. You have to decide what you want first though.”

Will captured the finger that had trailed a path to his lips. Taking her hand within his, he lightly kissed her palm, his eyes never leaving hers as he gratefully whispered his gratitude. "Thank you, Imzadi."

Deanna’s eyes glistened as she stepped away from him and pulled him to his feet, her smile teasing as she began to push him towards the door. "Go, and tomorrow I expect to see you grinning from ear to ear when you come to tell me of your brilliance in handling this situation."

Will chuckled as he felt the huge weight lift from his shoulders. With a renewed bounce in his step, he wondered why God had decided to bless him with the most wonderful, most understanding, most gorgeous best friend a man could ever have. His heart swelled with pride and gratitude for the woman he had just left. God, I love her to bits

He wasn’t surprised and chuckled when he heard her answer back. And I love you too, Imzadi

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