By Carol Sandford


Part 4


The Waiting Game - Chapter 6


Will stayed silent for several moments as he digested her words.

This was not what he wanted to hear.

He had to try one last attempt to win her back. Speaking harsher than he intended, Will found himself almost growling. His hands holding onto her upper arms in a brutal grip, unleashed a pain that she almost welcomed to compensate for the pain that ripped through to her very soul as she destroyed the man standing before her.

"But I love you, Goddammit! I'm not going to give up that easily, not after everything. Not after all that we've been through together."

Deanna's bitter laugh cut him to the quick as she deliberately pulled herself out of his hands. "Together Will! We have done, 'nothing' together for the last seven years. Seven... Whole... Years, Will. Things have changed."

Deanna brokenly whispered the last few words."We have changed."

Will tried again with the only word that seemed to have any effect, "Imzadi.Please."

Will watched as the tears welled in her eyes, unhappy that he had evoked that reaction, but pleased that he could still do so. He stepped towards her again, but she held her hand up to stop him, her voice wavered as she spoke.

"No, Will, I can't do this. I can't let you destroy me again. I won't let you destroy me again. If you loved me...Truly loved me Will, you would not do this to me again. If we're going to work together, this has got to be resolved, here and now."

Will stepped away from her and paced her floor, unsure what to say, but figuring he'd got nothing to lose, he ploughed in,

"What about me, Deanna. What about what I want? I tried to get a message to you, I really tried, but you would not answer me. How in the hell was I supposed to talk to you, apologise to you, when you wouldn't even acknowledge my communiques?"

Deanna watched Will prowl around the room. He was angry and he was hurt, but hell, she was hurting too. But if things were going to work between them, she had to do this, and she hoped with all her heart that he would eventually understand her reasons why she had to do this to him.

To her.

To them.

Deanna could no longer take the hurt so, somehow, the hurting had to stop here.

Quietly she whispered more to herself than him, unable to look into his eyes, "When you didn't arrive on that last shuttle, something inside me died that day. I went back to Earth the next morning, and for the next seven years, I worked until I dropped. I got my diploma, in record time, I had to face my friends, my colleagues, AND my mother with the humiliation that I had been dumped yet again by the infamous William T Riker."

She ploughed on. "But, I can live with that now. I loved you enough to be able to put that behind me. But what will never leave me, Will, is my memory of waiting for you to arrive on that last shuttle. Inside, I'm still waiting. I shall always be waiting."

Will stared silently at her as he watched the unshed tears finally trickle down her cheeks. Her voice finally broke as she sobbed in earnest. "Please, Will, don't do this to me anymore."

Will instantly pulled the broken woman back into his arms and held her tight as she cried. His own heart broke as he realised just what he had done to her.

What he had done to them.

What they'd lost.

"I'm so sorry, Imzadi, please, please forgive me. I promise I will never, ever do that to you again, you have my word."

Gently lifting her chin, Will wiped away a trail of moisture and lightly kissed her lips, he made his murmured vow with a heavy heart, but along side of the pain was relief, relief that he hadn't entirely lost her.

"I swear to you, Deanna, that I am here for you, I will always be here for you, no matter what. And If you'll let me, we'll be the very best of friends. And if you want more, that's okay too. But, whatever happens, I will always be here, okay?"

Deanna nodded as a fresh wave of tears cascaded down her face, but these were tears of joy, and she laughed, "Thank you, Will, for understanding. I can't believe it, I'm crying over you again!"

Will chuckled and pulled her in for a huge hug. And as the two rejoined soul-mates began another chapter in their lives, a wave of contentment settled between them and as he kissed the top of head, he whispered.

"At long last, we're together again and this time, I am not leaving you, Imzadi. We're here, together, and it's like we've finally come home, and right now, I feel like I'm the luckiest man in the Galaxy."

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