By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


On the way back to his quarters, Will told himself with relief, that was that. It was all over now. It was just one of those things. A foolish episode in their lives that would soon be forgotten. He'd been daft to flirt with Deanna in the first place and dafter still if he thought he could see her again without it leaving him as it did right now.




And aching. God, how he ached. Not just his loins, but his whole being. But worst of all, his heart hurt for her. Its heaviness threatened to devour him whole, and serves him right. One did not play with Deanna Tro's affections and get away with it.

And yet he'd do it again, in a heartbeat. To feel that way when their lips had met. To feel that way when their souls had reconnected, if only for a nanosecond. It was worth it, it always would be.

Saying goodbye to her barely a few short minutes ago had been somewhat strange. Like, like taking vows of some kind. A vow to be true to one another. A vow to remember and cherish. A vow to go on.

Will felt like he had grown up a little more that day.

For as long as they'd known each other, the past two days had roused feelings that neither had dreamed would resurface again. And what had it taken? Just a kiss. One solitary kiss, snatched and treasured for a lifetime.

As he turned the corner, Will did a double take to see Elaine standing at his door way. He managed to quickly hide his irritation, fixing her with a grin that he felt far from giving, "Hi, have you been waiting long?"

Her folded arms and rigid position expressed her displeasure more than her words which dripped sarcasm, "Long enough to wonder if you were going to make it home tonight."

Conscious of where they were and the stark reality of her knowing where he'd been, caused Will to nervously look around him before ushering her into the sanctuary of his quarters. Once inside he rounded on her angrily, "Spying on me now, Lieutenant?"

The sarcasm continued right back at him. "We had a date tonight, remember, Sir!?"

He couldn't stop the mild expletive escaping his mouth, "Shit." Not only had he forgotten the date, he'd forgotten just about everything else that happened on board a Starship that he was more or less in control of. He tried to blame Deanna first, and then the woman that stood before him waiting for an explanation to the cruel word he'd thrown at her. Waiting for him to tell her if shit implied that he'd genuinely forgotten or if he didn't want to go out with her.

Somehow it seemed to be obvious that it was the latter and he found himself apologising, "Sorry, it's been a bit rough."

Elaine moved around the small room, reaching out to touch anything that smacked Will Riker, but her next words brought her face to face with him again, "I see," she said acidly, "Turned you down, did she?"

He felt the blood drain out of his limbs as he uttered an anguished, "What?!"

He watched as the power of knowledge fill the woman before him with a venom that suddenly made him wonder what he had seen in her in the first place, "Well, you did get off with a woman last night, didn't you? And you did go and meet her today in the holo-deck, didn't you?"

Will was going to deny it, going to tell all sorts of lies, but they just wouldn't come. Instead he found himself sinking into his chair and tapping the seat beside him. "Sit down, Elaine and I'll explain." He said, somehow relieved that at last he was, at last going to be honest to her. And himself.

But she wasn't going to take it that easily. her words were remote and hurt, "If you feel you must. If you think it will relieve you of some guilt."

Her words shocked him to the core. Guilt had been the last thing on his mind. He felt he had deserved to give her an honest account of his behaviour, and he felt that he needed to explain the unique relationship that he and Deanna had. But guilt had never come into it, not really. He couldn't ever feel guilt over his feelings for the one woman he loved more than life itself.

Elaine had known that there was not, nor ever would be, anything serious between them. Will was not built that way. His heart had firmly been captured a long time ago on by a woman that he knew was going over what could have been as much as he.

No, no one could have his heart, it firmly belonged in Deanna Troi's hands, it always would.

"You're wrong, Elaine, I don't feel guilty at all. I'm sorry that we never got past the full blown lust stage, but that was all it was, wasn't it. Lust?"

At her silence, he ploughed on. "I'm not going to sit here and try to explain, or justify my relationship with Counselor Troi. To be honest, I don't think I could even begin to. You would never understand, and that is not a criticism, Elaine, it's a fact."

"You love her, what's so difficult in explaining that?" she said bitterly, "I was beginning to fall in love with you, y'know? It wasn't just lust for me."

And somehow Will did know. He'd had an inkling that she was trying to move their relationship further than the bedroom, and maybe he thought dimly, maybe that was why he behaved the way that he did. Maybe he knew it was crunch time; time to move on.

He nodded understandingly, "I thought so, and I'm sorry for letting it go this far. I could never have been true to you, Elaine, and you deserve so much more. You are a wonderful girl and our time together will always stay with me."

He watched as the tears that had built begin to trickle down her cheek, and he couldn't stop himself from pulling her into his arms and letting her spend her tears upon his shirt front. He tried hard not to kiss the top of her head, or coo comforting words to her. They'd gotten close, very close over the past couple of months or so and he mourned the end of their affair along with her. But his love for Deanna was too strong to ignore any longer.

He didn't want to ignore it any longer, either. Sitting here with another woman in his arms only compounded what he should have done a long time ago; Told Deanna's mother to take a flying leap into oblivion and take the delectable Ms. Troi into his arms and keep her there, forever.


Beverly pulled the openly sobbing woman into her arms and let her get rid of the store house of emotion that had been steadily building since the party the other night. But even so, Beverly knew she had to take one last shot at making Deanna see reason. "What's different this time, Deanna? What make you believe Will is ready for a relationship with you?"

Deanna pulled back from her embrace and Beverly found herself looking into puffy, tear-drenched bloodshot eyes.The small shoulders lifted into a helpless shrug as she squawked her response, "I don't know, Beverly, I just know that I want him and he wants me. It's time for us to move on, and on means together for us. Oh, please understand, Beverly!"

With a grim smile, Beverly pulled her back into her arms, her words full of bittersweet memories, and pain - a lot of pain, "Oh, I do, Honey, I do. I just don't want to see you hurt again. I remember what Tom did to you."

"But Will isn't Tom, Beverly, I know that. Will is different. Will is steady, and true. Will is my best friend - besides you, and I know he would never hurt me intentionally. Will is..." she trailed off helplessly, pulling herself back away so the Doctor could see the sincerity of her words, "Will."

"I love him, Beverly." Taking a deep cleansing breath, Deanna finished her eulogy with fresh tears and an enormous smile on her face, "It's time for us."

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