Hi! I have tried a different kind of approach to this story - using 2 stories in one, which is something Shakespeare did frequently, so I'm in good company. Anyway, this one is a little longer than the last few. Enjoy!!!!!!
By Clare Holborow
Historian's note: Set between "Generations" and "First Contact".
The Enterprise E was a very different ship than it's larger predecessor. But there were other changes that had taken place since the destruction of the old ship. Data tried to think about what it was that really felt different to him. His emotion chip was one of the most recent changes in his life, and he was, according to his best friend Geordi, like a new person. Data had not yet decided whether the comment was a compliment or not, but he continued to experience different variations of emotions every day. How could that be a bad thing when it had been something he had wanted all his life? He was another step closer to being human.
And the difference he had noticed the most was his different feelings towards his friends. Each of them evoked a unique response from his emotion chip, and he wondered if this was supposed to happen or whether it was a malfunction in the chip. His feelings for some of his friends were most curious, one of them in particular. He needed some advice, he realised as he looked around the bridge at the other officers who were also on the night shift.
Counsellor Deanna Troi looked weary as she hurriedly tidied her new office in preparation for her next appointment. Ensign Brattei was late, which was something Deanna was grateful for. Even though it was her first appointment of the day, she felt tired. That'll teach me to stay up all night playing Poker. She thought, still at least she wasn't the only one. The entire senior staff, with the exception of Captain Picard had been there too.
Poker games still felt odd without Worf being there, so did the bridge. She knew that the others all missed him in their own way, but she had never really thought about how lonely it would be without him. Even though their relationship had progressed back to it's originally "just friends" status, she still felt as if there was something missing. It was just another change she had to get used to. Like this ship. She thought, looking around her office. It was smaller, but in a way it was more cosy.
The door chime sounded. Ensign Brattei. She thought immediately, but her senses told her otherwise. "Will." She said, greeting the last person she expected to pay an unannounced visit to her office. He looked angry and upset, emotions which she sensed strongly from him.
Riker was relieved to find the Counsellor was free, he had to talk to someone and she was the one person he had always trusted with his problems and feelings. She always knew how to help and advise him. He didn't have to think twice about who to talk to.
Deanna's dark eyes looked at him with concern. "Will, what's happened?" She asked, as he sat down in one of her chairs and cradled his head in his hands.
Sickbay was very quiet as Data searched for the CMO, hoping she would not be as busy as his other friends he had approached for advice. Although there had been a few days when Beverly Crusher had been holding a grudge against him for pushing her into the sea in the holodeck on the old ship, she had since forgiven the android.
He found her attending to a patient, one of the few in Sickbay. He started to turn away, seeing she was busy.
However, she had already seen him and had finished with her patient. "Can I help you Data?" She asked.
"I am not sure, Doctor. I am hoping you can give me some advice."
She smiled. "I'll try, Data." She said encouragingly as she led the way to her office.
He smiled back, which was something Beverly hadn't quite got used to, and sat down opposite her. "I am not sure where to begin." He said.
"From the beginning." Beverly replied, then having visions of a description of "the big bang", she added. "The beginning of your problem."
"It is not really a problem."
"Well, your...... dilemma then." She replied, hoping it would not be a conversation filled with word games.
Data looked distinctly uncomfortable, as if debating whether to reveal his feelings to the Doctor. He had found himself worrying about other people's reactions to his actions and words more and more recently. Geordi had told him that it was another human trait that would take some getting used to.
He considered the alternative; facing the situation head on. That did not appeal to him at all, in fact it evoked a sense of fear in him that was very different from his experience of the emotion when he faced the Borg, yet he still recognised it as being fear.
Data tried to ignore the emotions as he wondered how to tell Beverly about everything that had been bothering him in the last few days. She continued to wait patiently for him to speak.
Meanwhile, the Counsellor was also waiting for someone to tell her what his problem was. Her wait was not in vain. Will Riker looked up at his friend, who, as always was patient when she knew he needed time. "I've just been talking with Dad."
Clearly Kyle Riker had found yet another way to get under his son's skin. "And?" She prompted gently.
"He's been promoted again. I was really pleased for him, but then he "mentioned" that I was still the same rank and position I was over ten years ago."
"I thought he understood this is where you want to be, where you're happy." Deanna said, sitting down next to him and placing a comforting hand on his arm.
"All he cares about is being better than everyone else." He muttered angrily. "And he expects me to do the same."
"Different people have different needs, ideals and ways to bring satisfaction to their lives. His are just different to yours, and he has to understand that."
He says that he just wants the best for me. Maybe he's right. I am wasting my time here. Do you think I'm too comfortable here surrounded by familiar people? It's not as if every day is the same on this ship."
Deanna ran a hand through her long dark hair. "Will, you shouldn't let him get to you like this. He is being very unfair to you."
Riker stood up and walked around the room, turning back towards her as his voice became louder with every word. "You're damn right it's not fair. He even thinks Thomas' life has more meaning than mine." He stopped pacing to look at Troi, who seemed to be frozen with the mere mention of his brother. "Probably something you agree with." He accused.
She stood up to face him. "How can you say that?" She said with disbelief. "You know I disapproved of everything he did after I last saw him. It's hard to believe we're talking about the same person." Tom changed, or perhaps I just thought he was the same man you both were all those years ago. She thought.
She still can't believe what happened to him. "I'm sorry." He said softly.
She smiled. "I don't think I meant as much to him as I thought. It's something I have come to terms with. But you didn't come here to talk about me."
No, I came here to ask you honestly what you think of me. I can trust you to tell me what my good and bad points are.
She thought for a second. Her opinions werent concrete, and she couldnt be sure she wouldnt give a biased reply. She had always admired his good qualities, and found it easy to ignore his bad ones. After her affair with Tom she had come to realise that she was still in love with the old Will Riker she had loved years ago, and being so close to him every day had not allowed her to forget those feelings. But they were still the closest of friends and he needed her advice. She decided to begin with the good points, her eyes never leaving his as she spoke. Well, youre a good leader, someone who gains respect from the other officers on the ship easily. Youre easy to talk to, for the people who know you well at least. Youre motivated, and always seek to finish one task before going on to another. You do have the experience and attitude to take on your own ship if you chose to, but something tells me this isnt the right time to make such a big change in your life. And of course youre fun to be with and a wonderful friend. She smiled at that, which he returned instantly. Youre also incredibly attractive. She added silently.
And what about the other side of the coin? He asked. And I want you to be honest.
She took a deep breath. You can be rather impulsive and impatient sometimes. And when youve got a problem youd rather deal with it yourself instead of asking for help, which usually means you bottle up your feelings and take it out on everyone around you. Im not saying that happens all the time, but it does happen. She watched for the sudden negative reaction she expected, but instead he just kept looking at her as if he expected more.
He nodded in agreement, to her surprise. He recognised all the qualities as part of himself. But how did that help him figure out his life. He sat back down. Deanna, I dont know what to do. I feel like I should be doing something.
Will, I dont have all the answers, but I am always here to talk to and listen. I can only tell you what I think, but dont expect me to sort everything out for you. I think your talk with your father has made you think you have problems that dont exist. You were quite happy with your life until you spoke to him.
I know, but he has made me wonder what goal I am aiming for in my life.
She smiled. You always wanted to be in command of your own ship. But those ambitions have changed havent they?
I never thought they would. I used to have it all planned out in my mind, but now I dont know what I want.
You will know soon enough, deep down if you search hard enough you will find an answer. She promised. **************************
Meanwhile, Data was on the verge of confessing his secret to Beverly, who was nearly dying of curiosity. She had never known anyone as good as Data at talking about nothing for so long.
The Doctor pushed her red hair away from her face. Data. She said, interrupting him mid-flow.
Just tell me what you came here to say.
Since I have had the benefit of my emotion chip, I have wondered how I would feel if I began another romantic affiliation.
Data, are you asking my permission?
No, not specifically. I have felt what I can only assume is sexual attraction for a certain member of the crew.
Counsellor Troi. He admitted at last.
Beverly nearly fell off her chair with surprise. Why Deanna?
She is always so nice to me.
Deanna is nice to everyone! Beverly pointed out.
And she is the most aesthetically pleasing woman on the ship. He said.
I think most of the men on the ship would agree with that opinion. She replied with only a slight twinge of jealousy. So, what did you want to ask me?
What I should do. You know Deanna very well. Would she be pleased by my feelings towards her, or should I ignore them?
I think Deanna would be the last person to want someone to ignore their feelings, but she would be quite surprised if you told her. She couldnt decide what to advise him to do.
Then I should tell her. He said, leaving his seat and heading for the door. Thank you Doctor, I will advise you of the outcome.
Beverly just stared after him, wondering if she had just made the situation worse.
Deanna was about to tell Will that she was always there for him as more than a friend if he ever decided he wanted her back again. It wasnt an impulsive decision, she knew that she had never fallen out of love with him if she was honest with herself.
He hugged her. Thank you for listening. He said gratefully. She pulled back slightly and their faces were only inches apart. She looked into his eyes again and tried to read what he was feeling. She was encouraged by what she sensed and moved closer.
Deanna. He whispered softly, and was about to kiss her when the door chime sounded. Ignore it. He said to her, but it was too late, the mood had been broken.
They moved apart, although Deanna still felt Wills arm on the small of her back. Come in. She said.
The doors opened to reveal Data. He saw the object of his desire and walked towards her, ignoring Riker almost as if he wasnt there. Counsellor, I have to ask you something.
She stood up, and it was then that he noticed Rikers hand fall from Trois back. Despite this, he continued. Would you like to have dinner with me tonight? He asked.
Deanna didnt know what to say.
I have never experienced the feelings I have when I look at you before and I want to explore those feelings. He continued.
Deanna knew what she wanted to say, she just didnt want to hurt his feelings now that he had them. Will stood up. Id better go Deanna, Ill talk to you later. He walked out of the room, knowing that she would reject Data but that it would be better if she was alone with him to explain why.
She barely acknowledged him leaving as she asked Data to sit down. Data, you are one of my best friends, and Im really flattered, but I just dont feel that way about you. She said gently.
Why? He asked.
Sometimes we are attracted to other people, but those people dont share those feelings. Im afraid this is one of those times. The last thing I want to do is hurt your feelings, but Im involved with someone else at the moment. Its all part of being human, Data. I am sure there are plenty of lovely women out there that would love to become romantically involved with you.
Data nodded, remembering that Tasha and Jenna had both been attracted to him. I understand Counsellor, and thank you for telling me how you feel. I had not considered that you would not feel the same way. He stood up and left Deanna alone. She wondered what she had done to attract two of her friends in the same day, but dismissed it as a coincidence. She wished she hadnt been the object of attraction for Data - he would always remember her as being the first woman who rejected him since the installation of the emotion chip, and she would always be associated with the hurt feelings he was no doubt experiencing. She vowed to keep a close eye on him for the weeks that followed. But her mind forced her to think about the other man in her life. She felt an excitement that had not invaded her mind for a long time as she busied herself tidying the office.
Back in her quarters a few minutes later, Deanna ran a brush through her hair and changed her outfit, then pleased with the reflection she saw in the mirror, she rushed to Rikers quarters where she knew he would be waiting for her and would appreciate the dress she had changed into. It was identical to the one he had first seen her in. It had caused an appreciative smile all those years ago, and she was sure he would love a reminder from that romance filled past again.
She was right. He smiled and gasped at the memory her outfit evoked as he saw her stood at the open door of his quarters. Where were we? He asked, as she walked towards him, the flowing white dress floating behind her as she moved.
He put his arms around her when she reached him, and he kissed the woman he had always loved with a stronger intensity and deeper love than anyone else he had ever known. He pulled away from her as he felt her tears running from her cheeks to his. Imzadi, whats wrong? He asked, frowning with concern.
She smiled to assure him that she was fine. Im sorry, I just underestimated the strength of our feelings for each other.
He held her until she brushed away her tears. He could only imagine what it felt like to feel his feelings as well as her own. Im being silly, I know, but I have wanted this for so long. I only hope you feel the same about me Imzadi.
Cant you tell how much I love you? He asked.
He bent down to kiss her again and all the doubts she had about the two of
them left her mind. She knew everything would be fine as long as they had each