It was her third off ship assignment in a four-month period;
a fact he was starting to believe was more than a common coincidence.
The first time it had happened he didn’t find it necessarily
odd, despite the fact that she had come to him to request permission
to accept an assignment just two weeks after they had left the
Enterprise, newly married, to arrive on his ship, the Titan -
neither one really having that much time to settle down before
she left to assist Lieutenant Barclay out of some new ill-timed
disaster he habitually trapped himself into. But it was Reg,
and Deanna had always had a sort of protective, sister-like affection
for the borderline schizophrenic Lieutenant that hid any ulterior
motive to her requesting leave so early on under the veil of
The second time, however, did give him pause. Less than a week
back from Earth and Deanna’s skills were once again requested
by Starfleet, this time to assist in a peace treaty with a warring
world in which her ability to detect a lie would tilt the negotiations
in the Federation’s favor. And although he was secretly hurt
that she would want to accept the mission and leave again so
soon after just returning, they had promised each other that
they wouldn’t let their eternal bond interfere with their respective
climb up the hierarchy of Starfleet. He had just assumed that
the climb would be a combined effort, and not a solo escape.
He knew without being told that Deanna was one of, if not, the
best psychologist in Starfleet, and a part of him felt slightly
guilty that her marriage to him meant she had to leave her highly
esteemed, long held position as the ship’s counselor and fourth
in command of the Federation’s flagship, Enterprise to take her
position on the Titan. But damn it, he missed the Enterprise
too, and most importantly he missed her. Missed her in a way
that made it infinitely difficult to sleep whenever she wasn’t
there. Still, he bit his tongue and let her go, wondering quietly
to himself why she hadn’t accepted this many away missions while
onboard the Enterprise yet she found it so important to do at
And now she stood before him for the third time, looking so stunningly
beautiful with that long silky hair of hers; her big, beautiful
dark eyes that he never failed to drown in, and a smile that
would forever touch all the lonely places in his heart, while
she spoke of joining yet another mission away from the Titan.
Logically speaking he didn’t have professional ground to stand
on to turn down her request. Somehow through all of the hustle
and bustle she had managed to stay on top of her duties, even
to the point where she had made it possible to submit to him
a completed psychological profile for each and every member of
his new crew. Which actually served to cause more concern than
it did alleviate it, for he worried that she wasn’t getting enough
sleep, or eating, or allowing herself any down time of any kind.
He knew her well, well enough to see behind that ever-cool demeanor
she possessed to tell that she was tired and that she had recently
lost some weight. Not significant enough to cause panic, but
enough to clench his heart with inevitable worry.
But the fact remained that he didn't want her to go, didn't want
to watch as a shuttle took her away from him once more, for who
knew how long, and for who knew what reason… really.
“No,” he said at last, piercing the silence; answering her request
while meeting her eyes, his gaze firm yet nonverbally begging
“No?” she questioned, stunned, letting the word roll off her
tongue as if it were foreign to her and she hadn’t heard him
“No,” he repeated, searching her gaze while taking in a small
breath and continuing, “No, Deanna, and we need to talk.”
She was angry – he could feel it. He sensed her emotions change
as they darkened within her, a confusing, whirling mess of anxiety,
caution… fear. And her eyes, those penetrating brown eyes he
loved so much, narrowed as she regarded him in question.
“This mission is important, Will,” she stated after seconds had
passed, eyeing him warily. “Admiral Paris requested me personally.
A Federation spy that was captured and held prisoner by the Romulans
years ago was finally released the other day. The problem is
that he was tortured relentlessly over an extended period of
time and can now barely speak his own name. It’s up to me to
rehabilitate him and make sure to it he is capable of divulging
the schematics for advanced technology he stumbled across before
He took another deep breath, forlornly knowing that this wasn’t
going to be easy. There was something wrong, something in the
urgency in which she spoke about needing to go away that indicated
there were layers in which the trouble that kept her away had
stemmed from. And once again he found himself hurt: upset that
she wouldn’t confide in him, indignant that he had to force her
to stay, worried that there was a problem between them that he
should have seen coming.
“I know that, but I also know that you’ve have been offered assignments
like this in the past that you have turned down and for far lesser
reasons. Yes, the assignment is important, yet so are we, Imzadi.
This is your THIRD very ‘important’ assignment in four months,
Deanna! God, this ship we both fought for has a crew that barely
knows its new counselor. And I miss my wife… we’re supposed to
be newlyweds,” he finished softly, laying it all on the table
while revealing his innermost thoughts on the matter in a way
he only felt comfortable doing with her… The one person in the
universe who understood him better than he understood himself,
although he begrudgingly admitted that she was a mystery to him
He cringed when he saw tears build in her eyes, not wanting to
cause her pain yet curious nonetheless over whether his utter
honesty was enough to get her to open up to him… finally, like
she used to. The ironic thing about the whole situation they
were in was that despite how well he knew her, despite the bond
that forever tied their souls together, and despite the deep
and beyond personal friendship they had shared for years, he
couldn’t predict how she was going to react, because he had never
dealt with a situation with her like this before.
On the Enterprise they had forever fought for time to spend together,
occasionally rescheduling meetings, or system checks, or even
personal reviews so that they might share a moonlight walk in
the holodeck, or a private trombone concert in their quarters,
or divide a chocolate sundae in their room as they laughingly
took bites then shared chocolate tinged kisses that would ultimately
lead to other, even more amazing, displays of passion. It was
during those times that he had been happy; overwhelmingly, mind-numbingly
happy, experiencing contentment beyond other occasion throughout
his life. And she had been happy too; he had felt it through
their bond and in the way her eyes looked up at him the way they
had so long ago, filled with love and joy. The maturity of their
relationship the second time around left no doubt that they were
on the same page, for the same reason, wanting the same things…
each other. Which is why he now found himself so utterly confused.
Her ebony eyes were large as she took him in, her gaze never
wavering despite the tears that glistened unreleased in her eyes,
and he could almost see the wheels in her head turning while
she debated what, if at all, to tell him. And he could do little
more than stare back at her earnestly, wanting, needing for her
to open up.
"I love you, Deanna," he stated with everything he knew to be
true and in his heart, using that final proclamation as a borderline
And that seemed to be the catalyst, those four little words that
held the most meaning to him were what finally pushed the tears
down her cheeks and caused her face to soften.
"I love you too," she replied, honestly, helplessly, looking
towards him as if he were so precious and dear, yet unable to
hide the sadness that plagued her.
"So what's the problem, Imzadi, why do you find it necessary
to be anywhere but where I am?" he asked, his confusion even
more rampart than before.
"Because I don't want to lose who I am," she said at last, ever
so softly, her eyes pleading that he understand the meaning behind
Which he didn't. He could only stand there and look at her dumbfounded,
completely taken off guard by her admission and entirely bewildered
over its intention.
"You have everything you ever dreamed of," she continued, still
holding his gaze. "You're a starship Captain, the pride of Starfleet…
a man whose reputation proceeds him. And as happy as I am for
you, as much as I longed for you to have everything that you
ever wanted, I don't want to become known as just the Captain's
wife," she trailed off, letting out a frustrated breath before
attempting to describe her feelings more thoroughly.
"I'm not explaining myself very well," she announced in disappointment,
looking for the right words to continue. "Onboard the Enterprise
I had made a name for myself. I had close friends who had become
more like family, I had a career that I had worked so hard to
establish, I even shared in command. And while I know that I
can do all of that again, here, the getting established again
after being so comfortable for so many years is hard, particularly
when your husband is the captain and you worry that some of the
merit in your hard work might be attributed to a guiding hand."
He made a sound of protest, opened his mouth to readily deny
her claim, but she held up her hand in an attempt to stop him,
still not feeling that she had articulated all that tore her
"There is more to it than just that. Over the years I've changed.
When we broke up that first time, when we were both so young,
I used to resent the devotion you put into Starfleet. I didn't
understand how a job could be more important than the bond that
we share. And while I still place the bond above all else, as
I know you now do as well, I more readily see why your job was
so important to you because my job is important to me. I love
you, more than anything, and I would follow you to a dozen Starships
across millions of stars if you asked, but I also love who I've
become. I love that Starfleet asks me on these missions. I love
that I have something to offer. And as much as I wish for you
every bit of success as Captain that you deserve and as much
as I want to share in that with you… A part of me longs to remain
Counselor/Commander Deanna Troi who fought her way into her position,"
she finished, pausing for a minute while taking a breath and
feeling the understanding that started to ebb at his conscious
as he regarded her with sincere, loving eyes.
And he did understand, she knew that as she felt him reach out
to her through their link, straining through his human genealogy
to caress her spirit with his own: for reassurance, for support,
for something akin to hurt over her failure to tell him all of
this earlier. She knew he had a right to feel frustrated just
as she knew that she had let this all build uncontrollably for
far too long, yet knowing all of it hadn’t made her confessions
Tears started to dwindle as she looked back at him, moved by
the sight of him the way she always had been, knowing in her
heart that he was so cherished, yet she still was not satisfied
entirely with her confession for they both knew there was more.
"I miss the Enterprise, I miss Captain Picard and Beverly, I
miss poker games and Data's inquisitive questions and while I
admit that I haven't allowed myself to become involved here yet,
the adjustment has been hard,” she admitted, albeit begrudgingly
for she didn’t want to hurt him, which was a feat that was almost
inevitable. “A part of me is confused on how to regard you now
as well. On the Enterprise you were my superior, true, but we
had such a rapport between the two of us and between the rest
of the senior staff that it was comfortable voicing an opinion
or getting involved with every problem that occurred. And now
you need to establish yourself as Captain for a new ship, you
have a crew in which you need to exhibit complete and utter authority
over, including me as an officer under you, and its difficult
trying to decipher where the line is drawn. When to voice an
opinion when the difference between your wife talking to you
and the ship's counselor talking to you might be hazy. While
on the away missions I don't have to worry about saying something
that may be construed as too familiar with the captain for the
sake of professionalism."
And there it was, the last of it, the best of her problems that
she could surmise with words anyway. It was difficult to express
what she had been feeling. Harder still to put words to a dozen
little, maybe even somewhat irrational fears that had been weighing
on her since the move. Yet they were there and she felt them;
they had been festering and building to the point of true anxiety
and now Will knew of them too.
The look on his face was indescribable, the picture of a man
who like his wife earlier, was searching for the right words
to express what was in his heart, for the right words to console
her, for anything that would get them past this point of utter
He opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it, shaking his
head in sign of frustration. Finally opting for taking her hand
in his and bringing it up to his lips for a kiss.
“Who would have thought that jumping ship would be this hard,
huh?” he asked wryly, using humor to temporarily mask his fear
over saying the wrong thing while buying for time.
“I didn’t know I would feel this way until we got here,” she
replied seriously, looking away from him in semi embarrassment.
“I know,” he responded with a sigh, reaching with his fingers
to gently caress her cheek and feeling his heart swell with the
contact while he moved his hand under her chin to softly lift
her gaze to meet his.
“You don’t have to hold back when you feel you have something
to say, I don’t expect you to. I never have,” he looked at her
searchingly, willing her to feel the truth in his words. “When
I first took this position it was under the assumption that the
two of us came as a packaged deal, that we would be doing this
thing together. And it may not be orthodox or standard Starfleet
procedure, but I guess I just figured that Starfleet would know
what they were getting when they asked two married, senior staff
officers with a penchant for command to move to another ship,”
he trailed off as he looked at her sheepishly, yet adoringly,
his arms burning to take her in them and squeeze tightly, more
to reassure himself than her.
“I probably should have talked to you about this before we came
here, laid it all out on the table so to speak. I guess I just
assumed that it would be that way and I wouldn’t need to voice
it,” he continued, sighing softly before continuing his train
of thought. “This crew knows who we are, our history, and you’re
not exactly an unknown figure yourself. Your service record is
first-rate, Deanna, and deservedly so. I had nothing to do with
that at all, you did it all yourself. Starfleet knows this. I’ve
lost track of how many times Captain Picard remarked on how brilliant
you are, or how many admirals included in their congratulations
over our wedding a ‘don’t hog her over there on the Titan, we’re
going to need her to help out at headquarters whenever you can
spare her.’ I don’t think there is an officer in Starfleet who
doesn’t admire the Betazed Counselor who took over the command
of a Romulan warbird after being kidnapped and surgically altered
to look like one. Or who crash landed the rapidly degenerating
Enterprise D with no casualties, or who ran ground control for
the legendary flight of the Phoenix. I could list more if you
want,” he added with a grin, noting that his wife’s previously
troubled exterior was rapidly melting, softening her features
and causing her to smile on her own accord.
“No, that’s okay, I think you’ve boosted my ego enough for the
day,” she said teasingly, holding up her palms in defeat, unable
to hide the sparkle that returned to her eyes or to ignore the
fact that his reassurances were definitely aiding to appease
“Good, then it worked,” he replied glibly, finally giving in
to his impulse to reach out and engulf her in his arms, jubilant
over the fact that she relaxed into his embrace willingly. He
hugged her tightly to him, taking a moment to glory in the feel
of her in his arms, and breath in that wonderful scent of hers
that he would never tire of.
“No more festering. No more hiding behind Starfleet. From now
on its just you, me, our ship, our combined ingenuity and a universe
full of opportunity… Do we have a deal?” Will asked after awhile,
tightening his grip as if to signify that there was no way he
was going anywhere without her.
She paused for a moment before answering, basking in his warmth,
rubbing her cheek against the muscled wall of his chest and genuinely
feeling at home for the first time that she had allowed herself
“Deal,” she agreed finally, burrowing closer still. And she felt
his heart flutter in response, happiness filling him, and her
as well, reminding her of what sheer heaven it was to be held
in his arms, a fact she couldn’t believe she had very nearly
come close to forgetting amongst all the uncertainty.
“I missed you… so much,” he said in response to her affirmation,
looking down at her with his heart shining in his eyes.
“I missed you too,” she breathed into his shirt, laying her palms
flat against him.
She felt him smile, felt his pleasure in her company turn towards
longing, provocative thoughts.
“We have a lot of missed time to make up for. I mean, we ARE
newlyweds,” he hinted less than subtly, enjoying her answering
mental caress in a way that he would never allow himself to take
“True,” she responded with a laugh, looking up to counter his
desire with a look of pure, uncensored passion as the rest of
the universe slipped quietly away. “I’m with you, Captain.”