IT’S GOOD TO FORGIVE
Deanna Riker stared down at the face of her dying husband, her eyes filled with overwhelming sadness and grief. Her hands lay on the top of her husband’s chest, monitoring the slow labored rising and falling of the man’s lungs.
“Dee,” his raspy voice whispered, from his blue parted semi-cationic lips.
“Shhh.” She held her fingers to his lips flinching at how cold and dead they had become, “You need to reserve you energy.”
“Dee, you need to go to him when I am gone. Please.” He looked at her with his deep begging blue eyes.
Deanna violently shook her head in opposition, “No. If you want me to see him, then you must get better so that we may go together.”
His right arm, which was lying limply at his side, seemed to come alive as he lifted it and laid it on her bare white shoulder, “Please . . .you must make amends for the both of us.”
Deanna felt her sanity leave her at this point, as a new rush of tears came streaming down her face, “Thomas, I can’t believe the last moments we have together are you telling me to go chase your brother down.”
A hint of a smile appeared in the man’s face, “We Rikers are never predictable.” He answered lightly, just before a coughing spasm hit him, taking over the man’s body.
Deanna quickly wrapped her arms around the frail man’s torso, lifting him up in hopes of stopping the choking. A task she had done daily since he had fell prey to the mysterious virus months before. However this time, the coughing did not subside.
“Thomas, please fight it.” Deanna hysterically plead, as she rocked the man back and forth like a mother would to a small child.
“Deanna find him . . .forgive him . . .help him forgive us.” Thomas Riker choked out, before finally surrendering to death Rachel Olin -
IT’S GOOD TO FORGIVE
Deanna pulled her dark raven hair into a tight bun on the top of her head and slipped the long black waist-less dress from her closet over her head.
A small rap came from the other side of her closed bedroom door, “Deanna,” the voice of Jean-Luc Picard kindly coaxed from her hallway, “We have to get going if we don’t want to be late.”
Deanna sighed heavily and walked over to her closed door. She reached for the door handle but found her hand hesitating just inches above it. “I don’t know if I can do this Captain.” She whispered. She laid her forehead on the door and closed her eyes.
Jean-Luc uncomfortably shifted from foot-to-foot in Deanna’s hallway desperately wishing that Beverly or someone else had come to the house to help him with her, or better yet had come in his place.
“Deanna, of course you are hurting, but you have to be strong. Thomas would have wanted it that way. You have to do this today for him, for his memory.”
A moment of silence passed, and Jean-Luc silently wondered if he could pick the ancient lock on the door to get Deanna out.
Suddenly the door swung open, momentarily stopping all his worries, and Deanna clad in black, stepped forward. “Stalling isn’t going to make this get any easier is it?”
Jean-Luc sadly shook his head. He held out his arm and Deanna stepped forward, latching on to it with more strength then the Captain ever thought any woman could posses. “Let us go then.”
The two formally made their way out of the house and into the diplomatic Starfleet limo that was waiting outside, which would take them to the small Alaskan Chapel where Thomas Riker would have his final farewell.* * * *
“Psst . . .” Geordi LaForge leaned over and tapped Beverly on the shoulder. “What time is Deanna and the Captain going to get here?”
“It should be any time.” Beverly answered back as she checked her wristwatch. “I am sure this isn’t the easiest thing to her to do.”
“Or him either.” Data answered back in his usual non-emotional tone.
“Who the Captain?” Worf question, “He hardly even knew Thomas.”
Data cocked his head to the side to stare at all his old crewmates, “No not the Captain, him.” He pointed his finger at the heavily clothed man who had entered the church.
“It isn’t” Worf gasped.
“I thought he was unreachable.” Geordi wondered out loud.
Beverly immediately jumped up from the pew where she sat, “Well it’s obvious you guys aren’t going to greet him, so I will. He deserves are condolences just as much as Deanna. Tom was his brother after all.” She began to walk towards their former first officer, but Worf stepped in front of her, stopping her dead in her tracks.
“Worf, please move.”
Worf shook his head no, and pointed back to the door where Deanna, escorted by Captain Picard had just walked in. A look of shock and confusion was apparent on her face as she came face to face with the living breathing identical image of her dead husband.* * * *
“Thomas, I don’t understand.” Deanna stared confused at the man in front of her, her brain not comprehending the idea it could be anybody but her husband.
“Deanna, I think this is Will.” Picard answered back, concerned about Deanna response to Will’s presence.
William Riker cleared his throat, and ran his fingers through his graying hair, “Captain, with all due respect, I believe it is my duty as last surviving Riker male to escort my sister-in-law through this.” He held out his arm to Deanna in a similar fashion as the Captain’s for her to grasp.
The Captain looked questionably back at Deanna, who was happily feasting on the sight of Will. I don’t think she sees you as Will, I think she sees you as Thomas.”
“Please Captain, whether I like it or not she is the only family I have left.” Will begged.
The Captain reluctantly nodded his head in approval, “Be careful Will, she is emotionally unstable.”
Will’s blue eyes focused on the Captain, “Aren’t we all?”
Deanna let go of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s arm and grabbed onto Will’s never letting her eyes fall from Will’s face. Captain Picard turned and headed back to his former crewmates, as Will and Deanna proceeded towards the front of the church.
“How are you holding up Deanna?” Will asked, his eyes focused on the open casket in laying in front of them. He couldn’t get over how eerie it was to “see himself” laying out dead in front of him.
Deanna didn’t answer back. Her eyes had finally broke away from Will to fall on the open casket ahead, and had begun to silently sob, the realization that Thomas was not the man next to her finally begining to sink in. “I’ve been better.” She whispered.
Without saying a word, Will reached into his pocket and grabbed a handkerchief. Deanna gratefully took it from his hand. “Thanks, if I was thinking I would have grabbed one myself before leaving.”
Will looked tenderly down to the beautiful grief stricken face of his imzadi, his heart breaking at the sight of her. She looked so lost and alone, almost childlike. * * * *
After the church service, Will, Deanna, and a few of their closest friends, left the church and headed to a small cemetery just minutes away from there. This is where Deanna had chosen to lay Thomas to rest for the final time.
“Will, this is so hard. How am I suppose to let go to the man who has been my whole world for the past ten years?” Deanna asked, not really expecting an answer but feeling the need to get this excess fear off her chest.
Will, not knowing the right words to ease her mind, laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Deep down in the depths of his soul he knew exactly how she felt. He too had been forced to let go of the love of his life prematurely, except he did not loose her to death . . .but to his brother.
The group watched solemnly as the casket of Thomas Riker was lowered into the ground.* * * *
“Are you going to stay here? Or do you see yourself going back to Starfleet?” Beverly asked Deanna. The old crewmates had met back up at Deanna’s house to talk after the completion of Thomas’ funeral.
“Oh I will probably stay here, I think I am a little to old and have been away from space a little to long to jump back into things.” Deanna responded good naturally, as she sat curled up on her sofa.
“Please Deanna, most of us are just as old as you are and we are still playing space cowboys.” Will laughed as he walked out of Deanna’s kitchen with a tray full of steaming mugs.
“Coffee, no thank you.” Deanna said, “My stomach can’t handle that stuff on a good day, let alone a day like today.”
Will just smiled and handed her a cup, “I insist.”
She gave him a reluctant smile, took the cup and brought it to her lips cringing before the liquid ever reached her mouth.
Will just smiled and proceeded to hand out the rest of the cups.
“Ohhhh.” A squeal of excitement escaped from Deanna, “It’s your special hot chocolate, I forgot how wonderful it could be.”
Will just gave her a modest shrug, “I know how to please a woman, what can I say.”
The group chuckled, but Deanna grew solemn, “Thomas used to say that exact comment.”
Will’s smile turned to a frown as his lightening mood grew dark and dismal by the mention of his “brother”. “Excuse me.” was the last thing he could choke out before making a quick exit from the room.
“I’ll go after him.” Jean-Luc quickly jumped from the rocker where he was sitting and headed out into the hallway were Will had disappeared. Rachel Olin -
“William,” Jean-Luc Picard tapped on the bedroom door that Will had just escaped behind, which by chance just happened to be the same one he had knocked on just hours before to get Deanna.
“Go away Captain, I’ll be fine. I just have to collect myself.” Will muttered, between the hands that covered his face.
“William you won’t be able to collect yourself until you get some of these pent up emotions off your chest. Now I suggest you open this door and take advantage of my kind ear.” Picard coaxed.
Reluctantly Will opened the door and Jean-Luc Picard entered inside.
“Care to explain your little exit a few minutes ago.” Jean-Luc asked lightly, as he sat down on Deanna’s bed next to Will.
Will let out an exasperated groan, “It’s so hard Captain. I came here to do the right thing and help my brother’s wife during her time of need, and I am trying to be supportive but it’s really hard under the circumstances.” He got up from his seat and walked over to the oak dresser on the other side of the room and picked up a wedding picture of Thomas and Deanna, “It’s such a joke that I even refer to him as my brother, he’s not my brother.”
The Captain gave an outward sigh, “For all practical purposes William, he is your brother.”
“No,” Will shook his head violently, “A true brother wouldn’t talk his brother’s fiancée into ditching the groom the night before their wedding to run away with him to Alaska. He was supposed to be my best man and instead he was her groom.”
Will threw the picture on the dresser, “And now I have to sit here and listen to her reminisce about all their happy times and how wonderful of a man he is, and worst how me and him are so much alike . . .it’s ripping me apart.”
“William, have you told her how you felt about any of this?” Picard asked.
The sound of a woman clearing her throat piped up from the doorway behind them, “He has now.”
“Nice timing Deanna, did you pick that trick up from your mother?” Will snapped. “Oh my,” Captain Picard shifted uncomfortably, “I think this is my cue to leave.” “NO.” Will said, his voice rising up to a shouting level, and his hand shot out from his side to be laid firmly on the Captain’s chest, “I really don’t want to be alone with her right now.” “Will, please, your making the Captain uncomfortable. We are two adults here, and I would think that we could discuss things in a civilized manner and without the need of a mediator.” Deanna lectured, she walked into her room and over to the chair next to her vanity. “I think tonight is as good of time as any to get ten years of anger off your chest and ten years of guilt off of mine.” “Deanna, you just lost your husband and I am here to console you as next of kin. Please let’s not discuss this tonight, and change my consoling to screaming..” Will ordered, his blue eyes focusing on the door out of the room. “Will there is no time like the present,” Deanna said, absentmindedly she pulled at the bun on top of her head, causing her hair to come loose and cascade down her back in flowing ringlets. Will’s mouth dropped open and his face became flushed, “I really wish you hadn’t done that.” He whispered, his heartbeat accelerating the more he looked at her. Captain Picard took notice of that subliminal clue and anxiously made his way out the door. Deanna followed the Captain to the door and as soon as he exited, she closed the door behind him and turned back to face Will, “Now, why don’t you ask me all the questions you’ve been harboring the past ten years and I in turn will answer them to the best of my ability.” Will diverted his blue eyes to the floor, “Riker, you’ve got to get these less then respectable visions of your brother’s wife out of your head.” He coached himself. “Will?’ Deanna looked at his questionably “Fine Deanna, if you really want me to get into this. Why did you leave me standing at the alter on what was suppose to be the happiest day of my life, to run off with my clone? Why didn’t you have the decency to warn me before I got naked in front of 300 of our closest friends and relatives on your home planet? How did Thomas get more appealing them me? Why did you let Thomas become more appealing then me? How could you run through our wedding rehearsal the night before, kiss me, tell me you can’t wait until you finally become me wife and then just up and leave two hours later?” Will’s blue eyes filled with a mixture of fury and sadness. “Oh boy,” Deanna walked from where she stood at the door over to the floor next to Will’s feet, and sat right down on the ground so she would have the ability to be able to look into his eyes at all times, “Well to address your first question .
“No, don’t answer these individually Deanna, answer all my questions with one explanation. Just tell me what happened after you left me the night of the rehearsal that changed your mind. Just give me that one answer that will make ten years of confusion clear up.” Will plead, “Because frankly I’m getting tired of playing the events, over and over again in my head.”
Deanna turned away from his stare and began to slowly twine a ringlet of her dark brown hair around her right index finger, “Will it wasn’t just one thing that set me off to change the path of my life, it was a lot of little things that added up around me until I was suffocating.”
“Really? Was it my undying devotion Deanna? Did my dedication to you cause you to suffocate?” Will asked accusingly, “Was it that I placed you above everything and everybody else that really TICKED you off.”
Deanna threw her hands up in the air and let out a growl comparable in sound to Worf’s on a bad day, “Damn it Will, do you want me to tell you or not. Because if you want me to tell you then you can lay off the commentary.”
Will, feeling highly aroused by her domineering tone, quickly fell backwards on the bed he was sitting on, in hopes of avoiding her eyes “Continue . . .I’ll stay quite until your done, but you’d better be prepared for my editorial at the end.”
“Will, I was having doubts about life as a Starfleet Captain’s wife. Sitting passively in our quarters on the ship while you lead dangerous away missions. Sitting in our quarters knitting while you boldly explored places.” Deanna began
“What?” Will sat back up and stared confusingly at his sister-in-law, “I’m sorry I have to speak up here. We had been serving on the Enterprise for over nine years when I proposed to you. Nine years you sat on the ship and watched while I led many away missions without you. You never had a problem with it before, why in hell did you suddenly develop a phobia the night before our wedding.”
“Will, when we served together and you were on away missions I dealt with it by performing my job as ship’s counselor. I dealt with it be sitting on the bridge and listening to each and every transmission you relayed. I felt comfort by knowing the crewmembers I considered extended family would be by my side to support me and grieve with me in the event the unthinkable happed.” She looked at him, searching his face for an inkling of compassion and understanding, “It was going to be so different when we were finally married and you took that promotion. I wasn’t going to be on the Enterprise but instead I was going to be on a strange new ship, with strange new people, and I wasn’t going to be Counselor Deanna Troi, I was going to be Ms. Captain William Riker - resident house wife.”
“And these fears, it never dawned on you to discuss them with me BEFORE THE WEDDING?!?” Will threw up his arms in exasperation.
“What was I suppose to say? Hey Will, I know becoming Captain of your own starship has been your life dream and all, but I don’t feel like coming with you, so just turn it down.” Deanna rolled her eyes.
“How about taking me off to the side and saying, ‘Will, I don’t want to hurt you or upset you, but I have some concerns about this promotion can we talk them out?” he cocked his head to the side and looked at her inquisitively, “Did I really leave you with the lasting impression that it was my way or no way at all?”
Deanna, startled by his response, involuntary scooted away from him on the floor, “Will, you left me for your work once, how was I suppose to know if I confronted you on my fears that you would not have done it to me again.”
“Deanna, if I really felt that comment dignified an answer I would give you one. However, frankly I am sick to death of apologizing to you for Risa, that was a long time ago and I have done a lot of growing up since then.” He stood up from the bed where he had been laying and started to make his way to the door.
“Will, wait, don’t you want me to finish?” Deanna questioned.
“Not tonight sweetheart, I think my stomach has had all it could handle.” Will responded, “Now I think it is rude to keep everybody waiting around while we sit here and have some ridiculous conversation that we can have after everybody else returns to the Enterprise.”
“Don’t you have to return to your ship right away?” Deanna asked, as she tried to stand up from her seated position on the floor.
Reluctantly, Will extended his hand for Deanna to grab, “I had some shore leave tucked away, so I figured I’d take it now and help you situate things here so that you may return to Betazed.”
Deanna grabbed onto his hand, and Will pulled her up, “What makes you think I am returning to Betazed?” she asked. The force of Will’s pull had placed her in standing position just inches away from his face, their bodies so close that they were touching.
Will took a deep breath and nearly choked on the intoxicating lavender scent that was radiating off her body. Impulses screamed through his body to firmly grasp her around the waist, dip her back into his arms, and kiss her like he had dreamed about for the past ten years. However, considering she had just put her husband in the grave hours before, he decided that was not the most tactful idea, and chose to quickly step back.
“Your mother told me you were, that’s all.” He quickly made is exit from the room.
Once he was out the door, Deanna fell backwards on to her bed, her heartbeat racing, her cheeks flushed and her brow sweating, William Riker had away of being so damn masculine and at the same time so damn cuddly and lovable - a combination that could make him so damn irresistible.
William Riker lay awake on the couch in Deanna’s living room, staring blankly at the textured ceiling above him, silently counting the rhythmic snoring of Worf, who was sleeping on the couch across the room from him. It was about three in the morning but sleep for him was no where to be seen, as thoughts of Deanna ran rampant in his mind. Thoughts of her body pressed up close to him, thoughts of her intoxicating smell surrounding his senses, thoughts of taking her and making her his, like it should of been ten years ago.
“Damn it.” He sat up on the couch and rubbed his hands over his eyes, “This is my dead brother’s wife I am talking about.” He swung his legs onto the floor, stood up, and headed for the kitchen. Maybe a glass of warm milk could calm him enough to catch a few hours of good sleep.
He sleepily stumbled into the kitchen, made his way first to the cabinets that housed the pots and pans, and then to the refrigerator for the milk.
In his dream-like, “I am way overdue for sleep,” stupor, he failed to notice the quite pitter-patter of Deanna, who had woke up to the noise of somebody in her kitchen and had made her way downstairs to investigate.
Currently, Deanna was standing the shadow of the hallway, admiring the view of Will, in nothing but plaid flannel boxer shorts, easing his way around a kitchen. Although Thomas and Will were identical to any normal eye, Deanna could never get over the distinctive way Will could attract her unlike any other person. Even his clone could not radiate that special Will charm . . .the charm she had often dreamed of late at night, when she laid in her “safe” Riker’s arms. The charm she often tried to convince herself Thomas possessed, but never successfully could.
“You know adding chocolate to that milk would probably make it taste 100% better.” Deanna finally piped up, making her way out of the shadows.
Will jumped, and spilled the boiling hot milk all over his hand, “Ow!?! Once again you timing is impeccable.”
Deanna ran over, turned on the cold water in her sink, and forced his hand under the stream, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you . . .honest.”
Will, distracted by the sight of his Imzadi in a silk white little nightshirt, just dumbly nodded his head, “It’s nothing, I just snapped because you scared me.”
Gently taking his hand out from the water, she turned his palm around and inspected it from all angles, “I don’t think it’s going to blister or anything.” She kept his hand in a gentle embrace.
Will looked longingly at her hands around his, cherishing the feel of her gentle touch and fearing to move to much that she might be chased away.
“Will, I think it’s time I finish my story.” She said breaking the silence, “it’s obvious we are not going to have any peace until it is out.”
Will, eyes firmly focused on their joined hands, and he shook his head in disagreement, “Maybe it’s not important anymore Dee. Maybe we should let the past be buried with Thomas.”
“Will, I promised Thomas I would make you understand, I would make you forgive us.”
Will felt a knot form in his stomach and without thinking he pulled Deanna towards him and gave her the kiss he had longed to do, a kiss that caused her body to melt in his arms and both of their minds go totally blank.
“Will?” she mumble breathlessly after breaking away from their kiss.
“I had to do that before anything came between us. Something to tide my cravings over for another ten years.” he replied apologetically, “Now why don’t I try making this hot chocolate again and you can finally relay the rest of the story.”
Will led Deanna over to one side of her circular kitchen table, before walking to the opposite end and sitting down. Nothing sat between them except dead air and two steaming cups of Will’s famous hot chocolate.
“Now, for once and for all, let’s clear the air on why you left.” Will began, his blue focused intently on her.
Deanna let her hands fly briefly to her lips, and she quickly relived the kiss she had received just moments ago. Deep down she knew that even if this scene went badly between the two of them, she would always look on that kiss with the deepest respect and desire. She took a deep breath, “The fears I had talked to you about earlier, the ones regarding loosing my career to become your wife, hit me extremely hard the night that my mother came aboard the Enterprise.”
“Approximately a week before the wedding.” Will filled in.
Deanna nodded, “She had begun on one of her tirades about how happy she was that her daughter wasn’t going to be in the direct line of battle anymore and how she was so trilled that I was going to finally hang up my combat boots for an apron. I was really offended by her comments and ended up storming out of my cabin and slamming the door in her face.”
“Well that sounds reasonable so far.” Will mentioned, rubbing his beard thoughtfully, “Please go on.”
“Well, I was storming down the hallway ready to strangle the first thing that got in my way, when I ran into your brother . . .and a bottle of Tequila. Seems he had smuggled a bottle aboard the Enterprise because he had felt our wedding might be kind of difficult for him.” She let her eyes fall down to the ground, “and well you know how I get with Tequila . . .one shot leads to another . . .to another . . .and another . . .” her voice trailed off.
Meanwhile, Will’s fist began to shake in fist of anger, “So did my brother seduce my drunk fiancée the week before we are to be wed? Great! I’m so glad you two felt the need to tell me this story. My life is so much richer, knowing what I know now.” he banged his fist on the table in fury, causing Deanna’s heart to leap into her throat.
“Will that is not what happened at all. I would hope that you knew better of me then that.”
“Really? Fine, we left off you were drunk, now what?” Will sat back in his chair and threw his feet up on her table.
“I overdosed on alchol and my breathing stopped for a prolonged period of time and my heart stopped as well.”
Will face faded from a look of contempt to one of worry, and he slid his feet from the table, “Go on.”
“Thomas immediately called to sickbay and Beverly beamed me down and examined me.” a look of sadness overcame her face, “I had minimal brain damage. I was lucky that I had only lost my empath abilities with the loss of oxygen to my brain for all those minutes. . .” her hand traveled down to her stomach, “she couldn’t save our baby. She tried, but my near death experience had caused to much trauma on our little one.”
Pale, Will just shook his head in disbelief, “How did this happen without my knowledge?”
“I didn’t know about the baby until it was to late. Thomas didn’t think there was any point of ruining your good mood about your promotion by telling you the baby you didn’t know about was dead, and I just didn’t know what to do. Thomas felt it was best to let the secret of the baby die with Beverly, him, and I. He felt that it was best if I went on with the wedding as if nothing had happened.” Deanna took a deep breath and instinctively Will handed her a kleenex, “I was going to, but I just couldn’t. By the time the night before the wedding rolled around, the enormous amount of guilt I was experiencing from not telling you was overwhelming. So I went to Thomas’ room after the wedding rehearsal and asked him to take me away. . .and he did. He brought me back here and this is where we have been ever since.”
She passively looked up at him again, and cringed when she saw the tears he was desperately trying to hold back, in his eyes.
“He was so in love with me that he obeyed my wishes and gave up you, Kyle, and all or Starfleet to become a pawn in this secret. With us being disappearing together, it gave the illusion and I left you for him and assured me that you would likely not come after me. In return for his sacrifices I married him and became the best wife to him I could.” She smiled weakly, inwardly fearing his response to her whole story, “Do you forgive us?”
Will looked at her with a mixture of disbelief, disgust, and strangely compassion. His insides raged with turmoil and as bad as he wanted to give her the blessing of forgiveness she so desired, he just couldn’t. He didn’t hate her, but he was feeling extreme contempt, at the thought of the unborn child he was never given the chance to know about, let alone properly mourn.
“I just don’t know Deanna, I am going on no sleep here and you have presented me with a story fit for a soap opera. I need time to sort this out.”
Deanna sadly nodded, “That is fair. I guess we can talk more in the morning.” She got up from her chair and headed out to the hallway, and back upstairs to her bedroom.
“Yeah right, like I am going to be able to sleep.” He muttered to himself. Getting up from his seat at the table, he made his way to the bathroom for a long, hot shower.* * * *
“Your up bright and early Will.” Beverly remarked cheerfully as she came into the kitchen.
“Not really, I haven’t got to sleep yet.” Will responded, concentrating hard on the burnt piece of toast in his hand.
“Okay, care to talk about it?” Beverly asked cautiously.
“I would talk to a friend, but since I don’t see one in the room, I guess the answer is no.” He responded hurtfully, he started to make his way out the door but Beverly stepped directly in his path.
“Care to explain that comment?” Beverly asked.
“Ten years Beverly. In ten years you never once thought of contacting me and coming clean about the lost baby . . .my lost baby? I’ve come to you numerous times as a friend, verbally beating myself senseless trying to figure out why Deanna choose Tom over me, and you never even once had the decency to come clean.” Will ranted, his frustration becoming evident the more he talked.
“Will, it wasn’t my place. I knew Deanna and/or Tom would come to you and explain things when they were ready.” Beverly looked sympathetically at Will, sympathizing with the pain that he was going through.
“Whatever, I’d love to stay and chit-chat longer with you but my ship is coming within transporting distance in about a half and hour and I would like to be ready.” Will crossed his arms, refusing to let Beverly’s shocked stare waver his decision regarding a change of plans.
“Your leaving? I thought you were going to stay and help Deanna with arranging the house to be closed up.” Beverly asked.
“Yeah, well things change. Please let Deanna know I left when she gets up.” He plowed himself past Beverly and headed to pack * * * *
“Knock Knock” came a soft rap on Deanna’s bedroom door.
“Come-in.” she called, hoping it was Will.
“Hey it’s me.” Beverly said, peeking her head around the door, “Are you decent?”
“Am I ever?” Deanna laughed and waved her friend in.
Beverly crossed the room to a rocking chair that sat just a couple feet from Deanna’s four-poster bed, “I think we need to talk.” She started, sitting herself down.
Deanna, noticing the apprehensive look on her friends face, started to feel her hopes deflate, “He left hasn’t he?”
Beverly nodded sadly, “I am not sure he is thinking rationally Dee. He is just really confused. All these years he thought you left him because of Tom and now he knows you left him because of a mistake on your part that if avoided, the two of you would be married now. In one way it’s a boost to his ego, knowing you always loved him more . . .and in another way it’s a kick in the gut because you didn’t trust the way he would react to the news of the baby and chose to run-away instead of coming clean. Run away and marry his brother.”
Deanna silently agreed, although hearing it was not very easy. “Bev, I admit what I did was wrong, but if it happened again, I don’t know if I would do anything different. Will was meant to be a Starfleet Captain and he would have never gotten as far as he has with a wife. Everything has turned out for the best, and maybe someday Will will learn to forgive Tom and I.”
“That he might Deanna, but will he do it in time. Don’t you think you should have told him.” Beverly asked
“No. I want him to forgive me because he wants to out of love. I do not want him to forgive me because it will ease a dying woman’s mind. If I have to carry my guilt to the grave like Tom, so be it.”
William Riker sat in his quarters, in the dark, watching the stars pass by out his port window and silently noting how each sparkling star made him think of Deanna. He had been consumed with thoughts of his Imzadi since he had boarded his ship a week ago.
His personal incoming message alert sounded, causing him to turn away from stars. Reluctantly, he flipped on the monitor on the table next to him and the face of Beverly Crusher instantly appeared.
“Time to call a truce yet. I can’t stand it when people are mad at me.” she started, holding her hands up in the air as if she was surrendering.
Will smiled, “Yeah, I guess. I mean you have that whole patient confidentiality oath to uphold and therefore I have to respect that . . .I guess.”
“And how about Deanna, have you given much thought about a truce there?” Beverly probed.
“Bev, I think it’s best if Deanna and I see as little of each other as possible. She made a choice all those years ago, now we must live with the consequences of that choice.” Will answered mechanically.
“Damn you Will Riker, you and I both know you don’t mean that. She screwed up, she is sorry . . .what do you want her to do? She needs you Will.” Beverly bit her lip, fearing to leak out any information that was not her business to.
Will, knowing from past experience how Beverly looked when she was holding back something, began to feel a panic rise to his chest, “Why does she need me Beverly?”
“Will just make up with her.” Beverly leaned over in her chair and began to hit her shut-down keys.
“Don’t do this to me Bev.” Will plead, “What are you hiding.”
“Will I shouldn’t.”
“Will, Deanna took care of Thomas when he was sick . . .and she just assumed when she felt fatigued it was because of all the times she was up and down with him . . .she didn’t tell her doctor of her symptoms in time to be vaccinated herself . . .”Beverly began to sob hysterically and immediately cut the transmission before she could tell Will anymore.
Will stared at the blank screen, feeling lost. His Imzadi was going die.
Numbly, in a dream-like state, he hit his communicator, “Commander Salinger”, he called to his first-officer.
“Yes Captain.” The voice from his first-officer promptly answered back.
“Are we within beaming distance from Betazed?”
“Have the transporter up and ready to beam me down to Betazed, as soon as possible. I can’t waste anymore time.”
“Excuse me sir?”
“No time to explain Commander, just do it.”
Will beamed onto Betazed just a couple feet from Lwaxana Troi’s door. He stared at it long and hard, fearing on what was on the other side of it. Would Deanna be ill, bed-ridden, or worse . . .dead. Would Deanna even want to see him after everything he had done and his tasteless exit from her Alaskan home.
He took a deep breath and headed for the door, when the sound of voices stopped him cold. He could make out the sound of Lwaxana and Deanna’s voice coming from the Troi gardens, located at the back of the house. Expertly, he quietly snuck around the house without being noticed.
He sighed contently when he rounded the corner of the house and saw Deanna, alive and breathing. . .a labored breathing, but breathing non the less. She was seated under a large tree in an old wooden swing. Lwaxana was sitting next to her with her arm around her daughter and the two had their heads close together while they quietly talked.
Will walked closer and within moments Lwaxana raised her head and looked directly in Will’s direction. Without a word passing between the two, Lwaxana kissed her daughter’s cheek, got up from her seat, and headed towards her house . . .only stopping to give Will a reassuring pat on the back.
Will, feeling relieved by her gesture, headed towards Deanna and sat down of the swing beside her.
“Hi.” He said, staring deeply into her dark eyes.
“Hi yourself.” She responded hoarsly, her sickness already having taken control of her lungs days before.
“Deanna, I forgive you and Thomas. I can’t say that I totally agree with what the two of you did, but I know that you two are smart, reasonable, responsible adults so I trust you two did what you thought was best.” Will looked at her and smiled, “and now I hope you can forgive me for walking out on you when you needed me the most.”
Deanna nodded , tears forming in her eyes, “of course.” she whispered, fluid thick in her lungs, “I love you Will. You have always been the one for me.”
Will smiled warmly and gathered her body in his arms, “Deanna, I love you too, from the first moment I saw you at Chandra’s wedding I knew that it would be you and always you.”
Deanna let contentment wash over her, as she laid back in Will’s arms surrendering herself to the pleasure of being free from guilt. Will held her tightly in his arms hoping to shield away the death that was frightfully near. The death so close he could feel its presence breathing down his neck.
They sat that way for hours, never speaking, just being close
Around dusk, Deanna started a coughing fit that left her extremely breathless and a frightful blue color. “Will, I’m so scared.” she coughed.
Will brought his lips down on her forehead for a kiss, “You have nothing to worry about Dee, I won’t let you die alone.”
Deanna’s eyes looked up at him, “Will don’t be stupid.” she muttered between gasp of breaths.
Determined, Will closed his eyes and reached out to Deanna, <Can you hear me Imzadi?>
Deanna looked up at him in surprise before closing her eyes and focusing her mind on him, <Will you don’t have to do this, you have your whole life ahead of you.>
<Deanna, I have realized without you I don’t have a life.>
In her mind, a small image of herself, and one of Will suddenly appeared along side a closed door.
<Deanna.> the image of Will held out his hand, <shall we see what awaits us?>
The image of Deanna nodded and took Will’s hand. The two images opened the door and walked through together, hand in hand.
* * * *
Around dusk, the curious Lwaxana Troi went down to the swing underneath the tree to spy on her daughter and William Riker. That is where she discovered the two of them, peacefully wrapped in each other’s arms, forever in an eternal sleep.