TITLE: Identical DNA
CODES: R/T (Imzadi)
TIMELINE: Second Chances Episode
SUMMARY: A 'moment in time' from Second Chances. This scene picks up right after Deanna tells Lt. Riker that they both need some time to think. He bids her goodnight and leaves her quarters..
DISCLAIMER: Characters are the property of Paramount, etc.. No infringement is intended other than the enjoyment of its readers.
FEEDBACK: Encouraged and welcomed.
Deanna Troi was in pain. Not a physical pain - one far more likely to leave a lasting scar. An emotional pain deep in her heart and soul. So traumatic it was tearing her in two.
Sitting alone in the safety of her quarters - the Counselor wondered for the umpteenth time how she managed to get into such a predicament ... again.
The images and feelings tap dancing across her being had been at it for countless hours. Trying to separate the onslaught only caused the lines to blur further. She knew she had to make a decision ... a choice. But how did one go about doing that so that no one got hurt.
Having spent years wrestling and reconciling these feelings; gaining control over them and keeping them at bay only caused further frustration. Now the tightly secured lid had been unleashed and nothing she tried helped to rein them in where they belonged. Which was anywhere but where they currently were.
The last few days had been wonderful. More than wonderful. Will .. Lt. Riker, had swept her off her feet. Literally.
He romanced her and cherished her and made her feel things she was certain were long dead. But was it enough? *This* Will was in a place she had left behind years ago .. or so she thought. It had been so easy to fall for him - to fall into bed with him. What did that say about her? About her needs? About her heart? About her relationship with Commander Will Riker? Did she love Lt. Riker or just what he represented? Whose touch had she craved? Who had set her skin ablaze?
Gods help her, they both had.
Something she didn't think she had wanted or that had a place in her life.
Had she subconsciously longed for his touch for so long that any ‘Will’ would do? Surely she couldn’t be so hopeless. And she surely didn’t like where this line of thinking was headed. What it might say about her or what she had done to Will.
Damn! This was all so confusing.
Confusing for someone who made a life out of interpreting and dissecting other people's emotions, thoughts, well-being. So why was it that she couldn't make heads or tails of her OWN feelings?
Then there was Commander William T. Riker. The man who, all those years ago; wrote his name across her heart, engraved his spirit across her soul and branded himself deep within her mind. Now, she and the Commander were nothing more than friends - best friends – but only friends.
One Riker wanted her desperately – the other was willing to remain status quo. And that status quo was what had her on the brink of insanity.
Deanna wanted to scream. Scream to release all the pent up emotion. Scream to release the disappointment she once again felt when Lt. Riker said he would be leaving to begin a new post on the Gandhi. Scream to release her frustration at Will -- Commander Will Riker -- for consenting so easily to her new relationship with someone that was exactly like him!
* * *
~~~I think we shall end up with a fine crew if we avoid temptation~~~
Over the years, Deanna had felt more from Captain Picard’s Number One than 'just friendship'. Only from time to time, but it was there none the less. Just as she was sure that Will Riker--her Will Riker?--had also felt the occasional sense of 'more' from her as well. Yet neither took that step – crossed that line of no return. It wasn’t as if opportunity hadn’t presented itself. Just some imaginary line that had been drawn almost from the moment he had stepped foot aboard the Enterprise.
The lure to recapture – to go back in time -- to another place, was tempting and very addictive. A narcotic that she couldn’t seem to get enough of. Spending so much time with Lt. Riker had been both a blessing and a curse.
From the moment Will had said “Which one of them is real?” and Geordi had answered with “Both” – Deanna knew she was in trouble. Just didn’t realize how much turmoil her spirit would be in. The war raging between her heart and mind was enough to drive anyone over the edge.
And the edge is just where Deanna found herself at the moment. The edge of indecision. The edge of heartbreak. The edge of … anger.
Yes, she was angry. She was angry at the gods for a fluke transporter incident. She was angry at Will – both of them! Most of all, she was angry at herself.
The instant Lt. Riker said he wanted to talk to her about something – she knew it was over. The feeling of déjà vu had run across her being. She * knew* in the back of her mind that Will had been right. Damn him for that too!
Lieutenant -- Commander -- Lieutenant -- Commander -- WILL -- Imzadi...
This was insane!
Why was she so quick to reassure Lt. Riker that it wasn’t over between them when he asked? What was she hoping for? That he would change his mind and stay? Put her above his career--which was something that Commander Riker could never bring himself to do--was that what she was hoping for? Then as the years went by, he would resent her for ‘holding him back’. He said he would never make the mistake of leaving her and yet that was exactly what he was doing... He would again. He just didn’t know it yet.
It was uncanny really. The similarities between them. And yet there were differences too. But not so different, perhaps, that at the core of their spirits they weren't both just the same; not enough to change that simple truth.
Did Will sense the anxiety that shot to the surface during that first briefing?
He certainly reacted to something but for the life of her, she wasn’t sure what she was feeling then. After going numb at the confirmation of having two Will Rikers on board, as if dealing with one wasn’t enough, she wasn’t sure what she was feeling. Or what she *should* have felt at such an announcement.
* * *
~~~Having led very different lives for the past 8 years – now very different people. Suppose it’s like meeting someone’s twin.~~~
Why didn’t Will fight for her? Instead he had given her consent to be with a different version of himself. A version of himself that he knew … KNEW … would make the same choices he had. How different could they really be? Was it due to his regrets about the path he had chosen that allowed him to so easily let her go to another?
So many unanswered questions continued to go round and round Deanna’s mind. It was making her crazy. The question was – what was she going to do about it? She knew she would never go to the Gandhi even after 6 months of the Lieutenant being stationed there. Why give him false hope? Why not just tell him that it was over? ‘Thanks for the past several days and allowing me to relive a relationship I have cherished all these years.’
How cheap would that have been? Would it have eliminated the struggle and debate she was raging with herself now?
Somewhere in all this – Deanna had lost herself. Lost the confident, self-assured, indomitable Counselor Deanna Troi. The person she had spent the last eight years becoming.
And for what? Transforming into that young psychology student from so long ago?
It only showed her how far she had come. Not that she minded being wooed by an admirer. Not just any admirer either, her *Imzadi*. The man she had given her heart to all those years ago.
A heart that was later shattered by that same man. Only by that time, they were two different people. How to separate them? Did Lt. Riker see the woman she had grown into or was he perpetually stuck in a time warp circa 2361?
Deanna knew deep down that the answer had very little to do with Will Riker's point of view. It was she who was happily--almost giddily--reliving the past! She wasn’t going forward with another lover. Or falling for someone else. She was trying to recapture something she once had with someone who was exactly like the one who had left her. Had abandoned their intimate relationship all those years ago. Did this mean she was ready to try again with Will … with Commander Riker?
Could she let him into her heart again? Would he even want to be there as something other than what he currently was? Could she love Will as the person he was now? Did he want her as the woman she had become?
Still more unanswered questions.
Deanna had to get out of her quarters.
Staying here was only making things worse. It was making her dizzy. Where could she go at this hour?
Counselor Troi needed chocolate. Not just any chocolate. She needed Ktarian chocolate.
A great big Ktarian chocolate puff.
The one she reserved for especially stressful times, much needed comfort or the occasional special moment. Tonight it was for two out of three of the aforementioned reasons. Her latest patient was giving her fits.
What was that old saying about doctors being their own worst patients?
The Counselor in her knew this fact was absolute. The woman, on the other hand, was frustrated as hell that the psychologist had no answers for her.
Barely noticing the puff, Deanna thought back on the last few days and a shudder ran through her. Remembering his kiss. His touch. Will made her feel alive in a way she hadn’t since … since Will.
Gods she was in trouble.
More trouble than anyone should have to face in one lifetime. Especially in matters of the heart. The more Deanna contemplated her situation, the clearer things were becoming.
Now she just needed the courage to face them.
Glancing around Ten Forward, a small smile crossed her features as she thought back to when Lt. Riker had led her here with the notes and gifts. She knew he had had high expectations. Then they had stayed here all night talking - trading stories. Taking a stroll down memory lane and the past. The beautiful carving of Janaran Falls certainly took her back a few years. Which is exactly what the Lt. was hoping. He wanted her to relive it with him.
* * *
~~ What the future holds no one can know. But forward we look and forward we go. ~~
How can one go forward when it would be to a future she already had. One she didn’t want to go through again. Almost like having a chance to go through childhood again except the stakes were much higher.
Sitting here also evoked the conversation she had had with Will, Commander Riker, a few hours after having been with Lt. Riker the first time. After he had come to her in the Gym. Will’s cavalier attitude caught her off guard at first. Maybe he was just trying to protect himself. Trying to take the high road in a very difficult situation for all of them. Or maybe there was more to it.
She needed to find him. Find Will. Realizing he was the only person in the galaxy that could give her the answers she was seeking.
The closer to holodeck one she got, the more she became filled with a sense of doubt. Maybe she was reading more into his nonchalant attitude than what was really there. Maybe she was reading what she was hoping to see – the things she had ignored that night in Ten Forward.
Biting back the trepidation that threatened to consume her, the Counselor forged ahead entering the holodeck and stopping dead in her tracks. A loud gasp accompanied her abrupt halt. Knowing Will was there hadn’t prepared her for the sight before her eyes.
As Riker acknowledged her intrusion, Deanna blurted out, “Why this scene? Why now?”
“It was the turning point in our lives. Promises were made,” he answered resignedly.
“Promises never meant to be,” she countered.
“Don’t say that,” Will said, turning away from the Counselor back towards the scene before him.
“But it’s the truth.”
“Maybe, ” he allowed a sigh of defeat.
Before this went further, Deanna decided to jump right in with her purpose of seeking him out. “You said you were flattered.”
“I lied.” Riker stated simply. “I was jealous and mad as hell that you could so easily go to him while WE couldn’t be together because we were serving on the same ship!”
Stunned, Deanna just stared at him trying to get her own emotions under control, nevermind dealing with all the turbulent feelings he was emoting in waves.
“It IS different! He isn’t a commanding officer. My commanding officer!” Troi shouted back trying to rationalize her actions if that was even possible.
“So any Joe Blow would do?” Riker taunted as a hand went across his face. “Only this one is me Deanna. ME! Do you have any idea how that made me feel? Do you?” He demanded.
“Sort of” she responded quietly, not quite believing she had slapped him or the fact he hadn’t reacted to it.
“Either you do or you don’t. Which is it?” Riker pushed, not even giving voice to what she had just done.
“I would know more if you weren’t blocking me so much these days,” she defensively shot back.
“Blocking *you*?!? What about you blocking me? Just because I’m not emphatic doesn’t mean I can’t tell that you’ve distanced yourself from me. Have you forgotten our link, Imzadi?” The last said almost sarcastically.
“Never.” Deanna answered with certainty albeit barely a whisper.
Going on as if she hadn’t replied, Will continued, “It goes both ways; you know. I can still feel you in here,” he pointed to his heart; “and here,” he pointed to his head.
“When you allow me to, anyway. Do you really think I don’t know what these last few days have been like for you? What they meant to you?”
“Then why? Why did you…” she almost cried.
“Because it was your choice to make. It always has been,” he said, shrugging his shoulders and turning away from her.
After a brief pause where neither spoke, Will asked what had been concerning him most, “Do you love him?”
“How can you ask me that?” Troi responded aghast.
“Because I need to know,” Will replied turning back to look in her eyes.
Of course I love him, you big idiot... he's YOU! Deanna nearly choked on the strength of her own--quite sudden--conviction. “I love what he represents.” she managed aloud, instead.
“Which is?” Riker countered, seemingly unaffected--or untouched--by her vivid thoughts.
Deanna locked eyes with him before answering, “A simpler time… a simpler place.”
“We still had your mother.” He reminded her.
A small reminiscent smile crossed Troi’s features, “Yes, I suppose so.”
Advancing closer to the Counselor until they stood only a foot apart, Will asked, “Why did you come here Deanna? Why seek me out?”
“Because I was going insane trying to figure this out on my own. Because I need answers. I’ve been going in circles the last few hours trying to find them on my own and I realized only you could give them to me. I needed …” Troi paused unsure whether to finish the sentence, “… my best friend to help me sort it all out.”
“What about Lt. Riker?”
Closing the distance between them, Deanna looked into Will’s eyes daring him to turn away as she answered; “He isn’t you.”
The statement knocked the breath out of Will in its simplicity and implication. “Did you really think he would be?” He asked, incredulously.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” Troi shook her head. There are many things about him where you two are identical,” she said trailing off.
“Will, why are you in this program tonight?” Deanna countercharged changing the direction of the conversation again.
Hesitating slightly, still unsure of Troi’s purpose in seeking him out, Riker finally responded, “Because … because I was trying to figure out where we went wrong. And this just seemed the most logical place to start.”
“Our last night together at Janaran Falls?” The Counselor pressed.
“We were so full of hopes and dreams back then. A future with so much to offer.” Riker begrudgingly admitted.
“And now?” Deanna asked hesitantly.
“Now, I’ve begun to wonder what that other path would have been like had we followed our hearts instead of our ambition …” at Deanna’s raised eyebrow, “okay my ambition.”
“I would have waited. I HAVE waited.” Troi said with an assuredness and conviction that surprised them both.
Looking at her intently, Riker wasn’t sure what to believe. He was beginning to get an inkling to what was going on here but unsure how to deal with it. Or whether to hope for it. He remained silent instead, contemplating how to be respond.
Breaking the momentary impasse, Deanna asked, “Are you happy?”
“I …I would say so, yeah. I serve on the flagship of the Federation. My career is very fulfilling..” Will regarded her cautiously, knowing as much as sensing that wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
“That’s not what I asked and you know it.” Deanna admonished, her tone taking on a frustrated air.
“I know.” Riker quietly replied and said no more.
But Deanna wasn't falling for the impasse. She looked back at his silence with resolve. And she waited.
Until all of a sudden, her patience won out. Barely above a whisper, Will finally returned, “Are *you* happy, Deanna?”
“No, actually I’m not.” Shockingly, the admission was a simple one, and Troi uttered it easily and honestly.
Bemused by her answer, Riker could only stare into her eyes. His voice continued to elude him.
“Don’t you want to know why?” She prompted.
Beginning to give in to the direction of the conversation, Will answered in the only way he could, “I know. God help me, I know.”
Moving closer to the point of invading his personal space, Troi pushed for the answers she was desperately seeking. Willing him to tell her what she already knew in her heart. “Well?”
The last several hours had nearly drained the last of her resolve. Deanna called him to the carpet; straight out, “What are you going to do about it? Or are you going to remain obstinate for another eight years?”
Still not comfortable about admitting how he truly felt, Will answered with a question of his own. “Do you know what you are asking?”
“Yes.” Deanna spoke easily, finding it simpler and simpler to give herself over to the truth with every word she uttered.
Will on the other hand, was having a more difficult time with the scenario. He shook his head slowly. “Deanna, after all this time, it can’t be that simple.”
She shot back .. “Or BECAUSE of ‘all this time’ it IS just that simple.”
“We’re not kids anymore.”
“Thank the GODS! Although if we were, we might have thrown caution to the wind, instead of muddling through the past eight years.”
“I thought you didn’t want to … and then …” he trailed off.
“And then?” Deanna prompted trying not to let her frustration show.
Will let out a big sigh, resigned to the fact that Deanna was going to press him on this until he gave her a real answer. “And then Lt. Riker made me take a long hard look at my life. At us.”
“I see. Care to share what you found?”
“I found …” He hesitated then continued after looking her straight in the eyes. “I’m not happy. Not where it matters. Not really.” Riker finally admitted.
Bolstered by his own admission, he threw her an almost accusatory glance. “And I don’t understand how you could so easily go to him, Deanna. When all these years you have avoided coming to *me*.”
“I come to you all the time, Will.”
“No you don’t. Not like that.”
“He wanted to be with me--all of me, not just the part that fit in with his career plans...”
“And I didn't?”
“Not in that way,” Troi sighed wistfully. “But I have learned something rather enlightening these last few days.”
“I’ve changed. Moved on. I’m in a different place in my life now.”
Riker nodded, and Deanna could see the look in his eyes change before--she supposed--even he had felt his emotions shift to unease. He began to look away, but she stopped him with a gentle hand.
“Lt. Riker couldn’t make me happy. Not in the long term. He’s remained transfixed in one place for 8 years, but in those same 8 years, I have moved beyond that young psychology student he remembers.”
“Not deep down, you haven’t.”
“Oh?” Deanna asked bewildered.
“You still have a connection with that Will Riker.”
“Maybe," she agreed. "But he isn’t the Will Riker who has become my best friend – the one I turn to and trust when I’m in need. He isn’t the one... I love.”
Riker's mouth opened slightly, and then shut again. He was clearly taken off guard by how easily she said the word.
She took a hold of his hand and smiled. “Yes. Love, Will. You are my best and most cherished friend in this universe. You are my Imzadi, Will not Lt. Riker. He and I may share... a past ... but what I feel for you is far more intense, and far more complicated than that all at once.”
“Do you know what you are saying?” Will asked not sure he was ready to believe.
“And you're sure?”
She laughed. "Do you mean ... have I gone completely around the bend?" Riker offered her a crooked smile despite his mounting confusion, and Deanna took his hand. "Maybe I have."
Sobering both her expression and her emotions all at once, she took a deep breath. “I've never been more sure of anything in my life, Will Riker." And before Riker could protest, she bridged the gap between them, whispering, “now, shut up and kiss me...Imzadi”
“Yes ma’am,” Will said, finally giving into his feelings.
After that immutable pronouncement, words could not do justice to the thoughts and feelings that flowed between them. Will and Deanna came together in a way that bridged the eight years their hearts and souls had been apart. A way that reuinted their spirits. Two bodies became one with such intensity and passion, it would be several hours more before either had the strength--or the desire--to speak aloud again.