The workout rooms on the Enterprise-E were smaller and darker than those on the Enterprise-D had been. Ships counsellor Deanna Troi stretched and went into the splits, waiting for Beverly Crusher, the ships Chief Medical Officer to join her. Theyd started these stretching routines long ago for a while theyd done mokbara, the Klingon martial art, together. That had stopped after Deanna had broken up with Worf too many painful memories.
Beverly was Deannas confidant and she was now running, for Beverly, incredibly late. Deanna could feel her agitation. Deciding that this may be a session that readily disintegrated into gossip, Deanna blocked out the feelings of her friend and immersed herself in the rhythms of stretching and bending.
Beverly eventually arrived in a rush Deanna could already feel a different sense to that when she arrived late from a sick patient or from a performance appraisal with an incompetent sub-ordinate. Beverly emanated waves of elation and confusion as she settled into the stretching routine.
Deanna decided that tact was not called for.
"So whats his name?"
Beverly resolutely continued on, taking an ever-so-slightly hurt tone.
"Ive said it before and Ill say it again. Sometimes having an empath for a best friend is enough to drive you crazy".
They settled down into their dual stretches. Deannas curiosity, however, was piqued. During their sessions theyd discussed so much Will (too many times to mention), Jack, Worf, Odan, Devonani Ral well maybe so much about men. Ships counsellor or no, Deanna wasnt about to let Beverly off the hook.
"So what is his name?"
Beverly blew a stray hair from her face and decided to try and maintain her dignity
"There is no him".
That brought Deanna up short. She was so used to reading her friends that she had been just about sure it was a man. She now realised she may have been treading on more private ground than Beverly wanted to reveal. It was always difficult trying to draw the line between reading what someone wanted her to know and talk about as a friend and her professional capacity where she needed to know what was going on for the good of the ship. This obviously fell into the first category.
"Well if you dont want to talk about it "
Beverly sighed and stopped stretching.
"Promise you wont tell?"
Deanna smiled "When I have I ever broken confidentiality?"
Beverly smiled back at her friends jovial tone.
"Lets go sit, Counsellor Troi".
Deanna and Beverly moved to the side of the room, grabbing water and towels.
Comforted by her friends supportive presence, Beverly opened up.
"Did you know that theyre restructuring Starfleet Medical?"
Deanna hadnt expected this. Starfleet Medical?
"Id heard something, but I thought it was the command structure " she trailed off as the implications sank in. Confusion and elation, expectation of something new. "But you hated that job last time!"
Beverly looked troubled.
"I know. Last time I was head of Starfleet Medical I just wound up pushing papers from one side of the desk to the other. I didnt feel like I did anything useful. Never enough time for my research, never being on top of things and then all the politics "
Deannas long years as a ships psychologist werent for nothing
Beverly paused and ploughed on
This time they say theyll leave the paper pushing to others. The head is to be a visionary leader. I set directions and tone. Think of all the good I can do."
Beverly smiled. She knew her friend was the best in Starfleet it felt good to talk.
"Ive already left the Enterprise once but I missed Wesley and Jean-Luc and you and Will and the others, of course. Earth didnt have the pull " Beverly paused "Deanna Ive survived a crashed starship, the war with the Dominion, Wesleys all grown up and Jean Luc "
Beverly shook her head. Deanna took her hand and finished for her
"Jean Luc will never forgive himself for Jacks death and no matter what his feelings for you are he cant bring himself to act on them and would rather run into just about any other womans arms."
Beverly broke into a rueful grin
"Sometimes I think that a lack of telepathy is just false advertising on your part!"
Deanna looked into her friends troubled face. She could feel the anticipation.
"Beverly you need to do whats best for you. Look inside yourself. What draws you to Earth? What keeps you here? After all in life its normal to quest for growth and change."
Beverly realised that time was getting on and got up to leave.
"Thanks Deanna. Youre right. I cant expect things to go on the way they are. Look at all that Worfs done hes been through so much. Im sure you and Will have talked about when he will take his own command " Now it was Beverlys turn to trail off. She may not have been gifted with empathic senses but one look at her friends fallen face was enough to tell her she was on rocky ground. " and all the other changes in the last few years."
Deanna stood up and gave her friend a quick hug.
"If you ever "
"Need to talk!" Beverly finished with her and they left smiling together.
=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=
Will Riker didnt need to be an empath or to have Deanna project her thoughts to know she had something on her mind. Instead of their usual cheerful chatter as he cooked dinner she had been quiet and withdrawn. Now she barely touched her dinner and her uncommitted responses, so unlike her usual interest, told him that she was worlds away. It was time for drastic action.
"So when Data asked me I just told him to come along and wed show him what fully functional really meant."
That got Deannas attention.
"Will Riker you are a tease!"
He looked into the brown eyes he loved so much
"So whats bothering you?"
Deanna pushed the food around her plate some more. Wills concern grew. Usually Deanna was so in touch with herself, with himself. It was scary to see her this way.
She looked him in the eyes.
"Will, what are we still doing here?"
There are times in a mans life when the woman he loves asks him a question. It is usually out of the blue, it is usually something fairly innocuous in its first meaning. The young and inexperienced human male will try and answer the question. Its a natural response shes always talking about openness and honesty she asks a straightforward question, he gives an answer. He finds himself with a weeping woman. Fortunately for Deanna, Will was well past being young and inexperienced.
"Whats wrong Deanna?"
Deanna was up and pacing. This got Will really worried. For Deanna pacing was always a sign of inner turmoil. He reviewed recent events. No arguments things had been going well together. They had been comfortably sharing each others quarters and lives for nearly three years now. No conflict at work that he knew of. What could be going on?
"Will, what are we still doing here?"
He really didnt know what she wanted. He threw himself on the fire, hoping she would realise it was just a ploy.
"Well, the Captain did want us to further investigate the Ultarian situation, Geordi wants to work on the engines some more "
At least shed stopped pacing. She knew. She even smiled as she shook her head.
"You know thats not what I mean."
He took her in his arms and led them to her couch.
"So tell me."
Deanna looked away. She didnt even know how to verbalise all that was going through her head.
"Do you remember when we decided to give us a second chance?"
He smiled his wickedest smile.
"Its not likely Id forget. Happiest day of my life. Here I was thinking you were going to go all Starfleet Not on the same ship once the metaphasic radiation wore off, and there I was knowing it was far more".
She couldnt help but snuggle closer. But still the question played on her mind.
"So why are we still here?" Deanna made sure she had his full attention and continued. "Years ago the thing you wanted most of all was to be a Starship captain. I wanted to make something of myself use the skills Id learnt and see the galaxy, like my father."
Will looked puzzled
"Arent you happy here with me?"
Deanna couldnt meet his gaze.
"I am happy but can you remember, years ago, you once told me that you didnt want to get too comfortable?"
Of course he could remember. Commader Shelby had needled him and he had turned, as ever, to Deanna. For validation. For comfort. Could he do the same for her?
"I remember you telling me there was no such thing."
Deanna got up and started pacing again.
"Maybe I was wrong. Every time we get comfortable something changes. The ship is damaged. Someone leaves. Always in someone elses power. Why arent we taking control? You are as fine a captain as they have in Starfleet. Im more than a diplomatic sniffer dog. I sense deceit. Theres only goodwill from this species. I remember a time when I used to care for families. When we explored new places outside Sector 001. When we were part of more than just a Diplomatic ferry service.
"I miss it, Will. I miss the children. I miss the first contacts. I want to see you in command."
Will couldnt quite believe what he was hearing. It really was out of the blue. Just where was this all heading?
"Will, any day things could change. The Captain could leave and be replaced and not by you. Starfleet Command could order you or I away. We keep taking everything and everyone we have for granted. Were too comfortable as we are to look ahead."
"You certainly dont sound happy! What brought all this on?"
She knew she wasnt being fair. She had to make him understand. She went to him and held him.
"Thats just it, Imzadi. Im am so happy! I spend my days and my nights with you. Im surrounded by my family. But that could change at any time. Perhaps it should change we can both offer so much more than what were doing. Perhaps we could be even more happy."
Will held her tighter as she continued. Deanna paused and decided that now was the time.
"Thats why I think we should get married. I know how much I love you. I know, I can feel, how much you love me. I trust you with my heart and my soul, Imzadi. I dont want to be split apart again at the whim of a desk-bound Admiral. I want to stand up in front of the universe and tell everyone that I love you and that now weve found each other nothing can tear us apart."
As soon as the words were out of her mouth he couldnt stop the smile from spreading across his face. Theyd spoken of marriage once before, over a decade ago. He had let her down so badly choosing his career over her. On board the Enterprise-D he had spent eight years loving her from afar, always letting her set the limits, knowing he could never undo the hurt he had done before. Hearing her say to him "Not while were on the same ship" but watching her fall in love with Worf with none of those reservations.
When they found each other again he had decided to take whatever she would give him. She had given him her heart, but had spoken of so little else. He was happy, though. His career was still satisfying, there was always the hope that the Enterprise would be his one day. He had the one thing most precious to him in all the Universe her love. Having hurt Deanna so badly before how could he ever ask again?
Now now this brave woman that he loved was suggesting they step forward together into the future. Will knew that if he was going to stay worthy of her there was only one answer.
Deanna had braced herself for Will to withdraw in turmoil and surprise. When there was none she opened herself to him and could sense relief, joy and that unwavering glowing warmth of love.
She took her courage and looked into his eyes again. Those blue eyes that sparkled with a love light just for her and she knew always, only for her.
He nodded. She understood. Will finally found his voice.
"I want it, too. To be with you. For always."
They kissed with the happy knowledge that this time it really would last a lifetime.
=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=
Deanna wondered if she really needed the stretching exercises today. Once she and Will had abandoned themselves to the moment the other night they hadnt really gotten much sleep. She smiled to herself
"Something else to look forward to even more sleepless nights!"
When Beverly arrived Deanna could sense a change. She, too, was more at peace.
They got straight into their exercise routine. Years of practice had made it smooth they could still get down into the splits when they tried.
"Youre looking smug." This time it was Beverlys turn to dispatch with the small talk. "Rumour has it a certain First Officer and a certain Ships Counsellor havent been seen outside each others quarters except for duty in forty-eight hours."
"Really Beverly, dont believe everything you hear." Deanna smiled archly."Ill have you know Ive been to the holodeck with Will as well."
Beverly stopped moving and grabbed both of Deannas hands. "I dont have to be an empath to know somethings changed. Whats going on? Youre not pregnant?"
"No! Dont you think I would have been to see you before this?"
"It feels kind of silly to say it out loud. Especially after Will and I have been together all this time."
Beverly gave Deanna a hard look.
"You dont mean to say hes asked you after all this time?"
Beverly looked intrigued. Then a thought crossed her mind. After all, despite all the differences, this was Lwaxana Trois daughter.
"You didnt. You, of all people, didnt."
Deanna grinned at her friends consternation.
"It is the twenty-fourth century you know."
Beverly was flabbergasted. She wanted to know everything but could only find two, very obvious, words.
Deanna couldnt keep her grin from getting wider.
"Its all your fault, you know. When you spoke about leaving I realised things could and maybe should change. I was just lucky Will happened to be in an agreeable mood."
Beverly hugged her friend
"So where to now?"
"Well theres the matter of the wedding to work out Earth or Betazed? If you asked my mother right now shed probably say "wherever" but once its all had time to sink in Besides we still have lots of friends on Earth. Now Will tells me about this place in Alaska he always thought he would get married "
Beverly couldnt help but shake her head.
"I think Earth would be good."
Deanna wasnt so absorbed in wedding planning that she missed the double meaning of Beverlys words.
"So youve decided?"
"I thought about what you said the things that are keeping me here. I can do good work here, I have done good work here. But there I have the potential to do so much more for so many more people. I have to give it a go."
Deanna stood up and helped Beverly up as well. She went over and grabbed the water bottles. It wasn't champagne, but it was the symbolism that counted.
"To new beginnings."
The two women left side by side - one to face her future on Earth, the other with her Imzadi.
Author's note: I just couldn't figure out why it took Deanna and Will three-four
years to get married. And why on Earth was Beverly going back to a job she'd
previously hated? I can only figure that being around Jean-Luc as he swans through
the galaxy picking up everyone *else* was just too much for her. She's strong,
she's sensible - and Jean-Luc's a fool! Maybe now he'll realise it. After all
Deanna isn't dead, Worf and Will aren't at each other's throats - it's time
for him to fish or cut bait! I've also been relishing TNG on DVD - I love Beverly
and Deanna's egging each other on in matters of the heart.