The first time he lays eyes on her, the loss is crushing. He knows nothing
her, nothing of her ways or her voice or the sweet caress of her mind in his,
and yet he wants nothing more in life if she is promised to another.
Later he hides it behind bravado and fun, pretends how little it scared him,
until he can feel the softness of her and it all slips away in the heaven he
She is a Daughter of Betazed: and the first time he sees her that way, he
thinks he might be dating a goddess and just no one told him. She stands
wearing a cloak that fires in the evening twilight like molten crystal,
gauzes that float and ripple over her perfect figure, and she looks so
beautiful he hurts with wanting to touch her.
When they are alone she begs him to, and he does. Even together, they can't
believe it's possible to survive so much pleasure.
When he leaves her, he isn't sure he'll ever survive the pain.
The second time he stands there enraptured; held captive by someone who seems
a stranger and yet not, who greets him plainly while she touches his mind
with a painfully exquisite remembrance.
He knows now how to fool her, and he can, until they both become tired with
the play and give in to that memory of heaven inside; it refuses to die.
She is his equal, an officer, black and blue: highborn to no one but him,
when he comes to her late at night and presses kisses into her wrists in
wistful supplication, a desperate search for the perfection he left behind.
She asks him three and then four times in a year to stop, but he never can.
She learns to love that about him.
The pretence now is that he isn't waiting. It takes five years for anyone
else to realise what for.
When she tells him of other loves, other lovers, he smiles. He wants to kill
a best friend for her: in the end he settles for a brother.
The month they spend apart is agony. He wastes more than he can afford just
to reach her in that twilight. The night she becomes his again, he cries.
Tonight she turns to him in teasing virgin silk, with a wicked smile and a
pot of chocolate in one hand. He can't understand why she offers him a spoon,
and he tells her so. She knows what else he wants with it, but she waits for
him to show her anyway.
It trickles over soft breasts, the smooth slope of her belly, and he kisses
her everywhere it reaches until she begs him never to stop. Years ago, he
might have been afraid to mar that radiant skin; now he wants only to devour
everything she is, remake them into what they were always meant to be
together. She belongs to him, and he to her. He tells her that without
When she touches him afterwards, he can see every dream of them together in
They stand together at the funeral as they did at the first, quiet long after
everyone else is gone. Home is a new ship, a new place, a new life, leaving a
pain made easier by the soft bruises she left on his shoulder and the fingers
between his. On the day they go, she puts her hand in his on the bridge and
kisses him there for the first time.
This time he understands, he never really let her go. He only waited for what
was already there.
The years tell him, it never came with a choice.