By Carol Sandford


Part 4


The Waiting Game - Chapter 1


"For God sake Deanna, answer me dammit!" Will swore profusely as yet again, Deanna had refused to answer his hail. Determined to speak to her, Will had tried again and again, repeating the hail for hours. The constant chirp would have driven anyone crazy, but she still did not answer him. He had left countless messages, asking... pleading Deanna to call him.

She ignored every single one.

Once, out of sheer desperation Will had tried her mother. Bad move. Stunned that from out of a woman with her prestigious upbringing, could come some of the worst verbal abuse that Will Riker, man of the world, Mr. Unshockable, had ever heard.

It had been nearly three months before Will had returned from deep space. As soon as he had got within communique range, Will had tried to call her. Assuming that Deanna was not in her room, he had left a cheery message, expecting an even more cheery message back later on in the day. Will had been mystified when he'd received nothing.

For four days on the trot, Will had left a message, morning, noon and night. Then he had stayed silent for a week, figuring that maybe, just maybe, she had gone on leave, then he tried again, morning, noon and night, until it had finally sunk in that Deanna Troi had got the right royal pip.

It was also then that he realised that maybe, just maybe, she hadn't got his message that he'd left with Tang.


Tang was up to his ears in paperwork when he heard the familiar chirp on his console. Tang stared silently at it for a few seconds as he read the data that was informing him of the communiques origin. It was the Hood.

It was Will Riker.

Taking a few seconds to bolster up the courage to face him, Tang unconsciously sat up straight in his seat, as he finally punched the answering button. Will's face swam into view, and Tang noticed how much he had changed. Staring back at him was a man that had been in one to many wars, and seen one too many deaths. He also recognised a face that was desperate for information of his loved one. He wanted to know what had happened to Deanna Troi.

"Hello, Tang, it's been a while, it's good to see you, man."

Tang smiled at the anxious face before him."Hello, Lieutenant Commander Riker."

Will laughed at the formal title. "Yes, yes very funny Tang, cut the crap. Will will do perfectly well thank you."

An expectant moments silence followed as they both plucked up the courage to approach the much needed information. Tang got in first. "Sir. Will. I didn't manage to get your message to Miss Troi. I was out on patrol. I didn't get back until five days later."

Tang silently watched as Will digested the news.

Watched as his eyes told him how much his information had hurt.

Watched as his hand came up to his head and almost covered the handsome face in his despair.

Tang felt helpless. He had let his friend down in the worst possible way, and all he could offer him was his heartfelt apologies. "I'm sorry Will. If there is anything I can do.".

Tang watched as Will shook his head, removing his hand to show him just what the news had done to him. Tang's gut twisted with remorse, he hoarsely whispered to the pain-etched face. "Christ, I am so sorry."

Will shook his head once more as he began to rationalise that it was nobody's fault, just an accumulation of bad luck. He also knew that he needed to release Tang of his guilt. "It was not your fault, Tang. It was no one's fault. You could not have known. You could not have prevented any of this."

Will drifted off again as he thought about how to solve his dilemma. Finally he turned to the screen, the question in his eyes. "I take it you haven't tried to contact her on Earth?"

Will was surprised when he nodded his head. "Yes sir, I did, but I got no response, the little lady did not want to listen. "

Will sat up expectantly. "You mean you actually spoke to her?" His expectancy died as quickly as it arose as he watched Tang shake his head.

Tang solemnly shook his head."No, sir, I did not, nor did she answer the message I left asking her to contact me."

Will nodded slowly as he muttered. "She was sure pissed at me, wasn't she?" The question didn't need an answer, Tang didn't offer one.

Moments later, Will resignedly accepted that for the moment, nothing could be done. But as an afterthought occurred to him, Tang saw a spark of life brighten the sky blue eyes. "Okay, I'm done chasing, but will you do me a favour Tang?"

Tang nodded warily, no longer confident in his ability to uphold any sort of favours, or promises, but needed to somehow make amends in any way that he could. He nodded more forcefully. "If I can sir."

"Will you keep me informed of how she's keeping, and her whereabouts? Just because she thinks I don't give a hoot about her doesn't mean I have to stop caring. She's too important to me."

Tang smiled sadly, relieved that what he wanted was relatively simple to achieve. He did not work for Starfleet without having some pull, and if that was all Will wanted of him, then that was what he would get. "No problem, sir"

The two men's eyes locked as they conveyed the unspoken understanding, and their respect for each other. Will gave him a tight lipped salute as he severed the connection.

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