Living in the Past

By Rachel

Part 1/5

I have been up for close to thirty-two hours, going on not much more than a chocolate bar and various snippets of meditation.

I have begun to doubt my true reasoning for making this trip.

Half asleep I stare blankly out my window.

I do not see the beautiful scenery before me. Either to tired or too far-gone I find myself only picturing that face, his face.

My first thought is that it has been a long time since I have allowed myself the luxury of thinking of him.

My second, more rational thought is that I am lying to myself, that in truth the only thing that has been a long time is my ability to admit freely that I am thinking of him.

Every moment we have been apart I am on some level thinking of him.

My Imzadi.

Despite the undeniable fact that his temper permanently ruined any chance of either one of us achieving a resemblance of a normal life, I find I cannot hate him. Even as I think about his daughter, a splitting image of a woman who tried and in many standards succeeded in ruining my life, I only feel happiness for the comfort Iím sure he is able to draw from her existence.

Even if personal experience has proved Diana Riker to be one royal pain in the ass Iím am pleased Will has someone to help him.

"Deanna if you are sure about this. . ."

Turning away from the window I smile at Andre, my personal assistant and only confidant to the yearnings that through the years have run rampt through by mind, affecting my mental stance on most issues.

"He needs me."

Andre, a Betazoid whose family has worked in the Fifth house since its earliest inception, is not thrilled by my almost needy attitude when it comes to Will. However, I feel Andre hates Will more out of habit then out of any factual claims.

Andre, like many adults in his family before him claimed to have the ability to see the future. Although he was only a boy when Will had first appeared on my motherís doorstep to take me to a picnic, he had uttered a life long prophecy which I feel on some level has followed me around like a shadow.

 

Will Riker would be my downfall.

Either lucky or unlucky, depending on what day you catch me, mother had taught me at a very young age that any Betazoid who claimed the ability to see the future was a Betazoid with one to many lines of inbreeding in their jeans. Therefore, I have always verbally dismissed Andreís prophecy as a tall tale induced by a lineage of storytellers.

What I feel in the privacy of my home, depends on my mood and how particular lonely I feel on any given night.

Distantly I hear Andre expel what can only be called a last minute attempt to change my mind, before he stands and begins to gather my bags.

I have insisted on packing for a weekís stay and I made a solemn promise to Andre and myself that I will not allow things to progress past that point.

* * * *

I have left a very upset Andre back at the Starfleet dignitary suite with my luggage. He easily forgets that I am not here to make a show but rather here to quietly slip through the back door hopefully sight unseen.

Today I am not here on behalf of Betazed, I am here on behalf of Will.

Opting to walk and hopefully clear the sluggish feeling massive travel can cause, I stop only briefly to get directions to my destination before I partake on my journey.

Journey is probably a bad word to label this trip. I am here for a funeral and despite what my own personal feeling are on the deceased, it is still a lost life with a family left to mourn.

Turning the corner I find myself faced with a row of retirement homes with a church at end of the block.

The church is where I am headed, but for a moment I find myself unable to tear my eyes away from the cold impersonal houses that line the street in perfect placement. Line by line of replicated houses, all white, all without anything personal to tell them apart.

This is where Will has resided for almost twenty-years, the thought of which rips at my heart. I know he could not possibly be happy here. He is of a rare cut where adventure is his lifeline and life is fueled by spontaneity and it does not take an empath to know nothing happens here without being planned out in advance. By the looks of it the makers of this complex, this hell, had gone so extreme that each lawn had been replicated to be the exact same length.

Without much thought, I remove one black glove and swipe a lone tear falling down my face.

The William I knew could not survive in a place like this. The ramifications of that statement meant quiet clearly that the William I knew is in all likelyhood dead.

I put back on my glove and remove from my purse a dark pair of glasses.

I will not let him know I have cried.

* * * *

I slip into the church and in shock I glance at all the bodies inside.

My first impressions are ones of surprise, I did not think Willís wife could have these many friends.

A woman brushes up against me and without meeting me in the eye mumbles an apology. At least I think it was an apology, except all the words ran together in one jumbled mess that was neither recognizable nor remotely believable.

Without thinking I excuse her. It is the fact that I have been around so many different races for all of my life that allows me to maintain an air of politeness even when I am unsure of a situation.

I believe I feel Will off in a far corner but many bodies separate the two of us and block my view.

My empathy, adjusting to the situation and the crowded room, senses that although the room is packed there are not that many actual mourners.

The Betazoid side of me feels sorry that the deceased woman did not have more close friends.

The human, less shown side of me, relishes in relief that the deceased woman did not have that many close friends.

I attempt in vain to smother the human side of me.

"My mother was a wonderful woman."

The unmistakable sound of Willís daughter rises from just to the left of me. Much like her father, she has enough confidence in herself she projects a presence that forces attention.

"My father will be simply lost without her."

To my dismay it appears her perception of Will and his devotion is leaning towards the unrealistic side. And that is not me being petty, that is fact, and it angers me to no end that his own flesh and blood can be heartless enough not to see her father isnít the man he could be.

Feeling the movement of the crowd, I duck behind a large group of people.

I have absolutely no desire to see Diana Riker until I have to.

I do however have desire to see Will, more so after hearing his daughterís obvious falsehoods and fabrications that I know, have always known, to be a lie.

* * * *

I come up behind his chair and I am pleased that although his hair has changed color, he is till a commanding figure in any room.

He is sitting off to the left of his wifeís coffin, with his arms laying on each armrest and his posture perfectly straight.

For a moment I allow myself to transport to another time, where a debonair Will Riker sat in a chair fashioned very similar to the one he is in now. A place where a certain commanderís presence brought an authoritative respect from each and every crewmember aboard the ship he served and where with no more then a wink and a smile stole the heart of every female that came into his presence including my own.

A flicker of hope erupts in my chest that maybe this man is the man I remembered and I have not given him the credit that is due.

Without waiting another moment I walk up behind him, sure that my presence will be detected by his exceptional senses.

* * * * *

I lay both my hands on each of his shoulders.

I believe I hear a notable sigh of relief escape from his lips as he exhales a large breath.

"You came."

His voice is quieter then it once was, then I remember it.

It makes me sad that anything about him has had to change.

"Of course I did."

I pat him on his shoulder and wanting to draw as little attention to him or myself as possible, I slide into the seat next to him.

Funny, we have seen each other since he has been married, but this is the first time in a long time I feel nervous.

"You shouldnít have come Deanna."

He says this, but in my mind and my heart I know he is lying. I know that he is pleased by my presence.

Feeling compelled by just having him near me, I let my left hand quickly leave my side, snake up his leg nd latch onto his limp hand.

For a moment I relish the feeling of those strong fingers as they wrap around my silk covered hand. I am more than a little relieved that the passage of time hasnít ripped everything away, that Willís hand in my own still feels like it always has.

Perfect.

For a moment we sit is silence. I know he is pondering if I am in any emotional distress by making this trip.

He worries to much about me. I am truly only wondering if I allow myself to look at him will my heart do that flip-flop it always had in the past.

"Deanna. . . "

"If your going to tell me I shouldnít have come your wasting your breath."

He squeezes my hand and I know this means he is testing the waters, seeing if my heart is in my words.

He has long since lost the ability to sense my emotions.

"I mean it Will, I donít want to talk about me."

His is doubtful, but he raises my hand to his lips for a small inconspicuous kiss.

This is the first contact I have had with him in years.

Living in the Past 2/5

I feel compelled to ask.

"Do you want to talk? "

"Want to talk to you about Molly, no."

His voice cuts me short with a prompt response that demands a change of subject.

However, since I am no longer beneath him in command, I take the liberty not to listen and push forward. I know only I can get away with it with minimal to no consequences.

"Will Iím a big girl and a trained counselor."

"And also a woman who has endured enough pain at my hands."

I try not to let the rawness of his voice get to me. I have survived alone these years believing he wasnít still beating himself up. Believing that out of the two of us, one of us has achieved a family.

I sigh, "Will."

He sighs back, "Deanna."

Despite the situation a small chuckle bubbles at his lip and despite my better judgment spreads within seconds to me.

When we get together, it doesnít takes us long to slip back into our routine.

"Will I came for you, the least you could do is humor me with a few insights into your head."

"I know," he whispers and glancing out of the corner of my eye I see him nod his head slowly, to distracted to think of the absurdity of an empath inquiring on what he is feeling.

His oblivious attitude is somewhat worrying.

"You always come, donít you Deanna?"

I donít answer, itís a rhetorical question, we both know when he has needed me, I am drawn to him. Distance be damned.

I have always felt that if the tables had turned he would do the same for me.

"Please talk to me."

I turn in my seat and watch his jaw clench.

He is stubborn.

Once the bad feelings had settled and we were able to separate what "could have been" from "what happened," I begged him to talk to me. I have always felt he needed someone and despite our awkward relationship, I couldnít think of anyone more capable of filling the job, forcing the bottled emotions out.

Consequently, I had been heartbroken when he refused. I suppose I could have been considered a conflict of interest, but when he had shunned me it hadnít felt professional, it had felt personal.

I think it had been worse than hearing of the actually engagement.

"Deanna how can you be like this after everything."

Good question, no answer however comes to mind.

It never does.

"Isnít today about Molly, remembering what a wonderful person she was?" I bounce off in my overly fake cheerful voice trying to portray confidence where I donít have it.

Okay, maybe both of us could use a little therapy.

"You have good memories about Molly?"

My jaw inadvertently clenches as I listen to his doubtful voice. I wasnít being myself, I was being a counselor. I was trying to get him to open up and like every time I have seen him these past years, he seems hell bent on getting me mad at him.

I think he feels if I get angry maybe it will put us on an even keel.

I wonít get angry, I canít get angry.

However, if put on the spot I would have only one nice thing to say about Molly. . .

She had Will. And although career wise I came out ahead of either Riker, given the chance I would have traded places with her and never looked back.

"You donít have to answer that." He finally says when my silence grows to heavy for him to handle.

He winks in humor but I know it isnít him. Itís a forced action and he clearly had to put way to much thought into doing for my benefit.

Why he insists on being a martyr alludes me.

"I donít need wonderful memories to mourn the loss of my best friendís wife." I whisper, not only for his benefit, but for my own, "I can feel the loss simply because I care for you and what it means for you to be absent of your partner."

My choice of words, specifically "partner", is ill chosen and has made him obviously uncomfortable. I try to soften the blow with a gentle nudge but he shifts purposely out of my reach.

After all this, when he slights me like that it still hurts.

"Deanna Iím sorry." He mumbles just above audibility.

His shoulders begin to slump, his head begins to fall and my William in suddenly transforming before my eyes.

As alive as I had felt him only moments ago, the vitality that I had picked up on was dwindling into nothing.

I watch in a mixture of horror and disbelief, realizing only moments before his revolution is complete that what I had believed I had seen was in truth only an illusion. That in fact this William facing me now could not be discerned from any other faceless person milling around the room, only half living.

An impulse outweighs my better judgment, and I quickly remove my gloves.

I am old, but I have taken care of myself through the years. With ease that surprises even myself, I slide to my knees in front of his chair positioning myself in between his legs and forcing his head to lift up by placing each one of my hands on each one of his sunken in cheeks.

He is a lot thinner than I have remembered.

"Deanna?"

"Call it nude therapy for the elderly – my hands is about all that resembles my younger self, so thatís all the skin you are getting."

Deep in the back of my mind I know we have begun to draw the stares of a few curious on-lookers, but that is not relevant. I have gotten his attention and I view that as a victory that outshines anything else at the moment.

"Deanna."

"Have you properly mourned Molly yet?"

This question is not thought out, so it comes off rougher than I originally intended. Age has robbed me of one notable trait, my tact, and has turned me into somewhat of my mother despite my best effort to maintain my soft spoken image.

He blinks, and I see those amazing unchanging blue eyes are still there, only now hidden between folds of premature aging and stress.

"Deanna I. . .I."

I have always known him to stumble on his words when he is flustered or when I have pinned something down he is not ready to admit to himself.

I believe today maybe a mixture of both.

"Deanna . . ."

"Will," We are to old to be playing the games of our former days so I realize that as precious as I view my name coming off his lips, I cannot let him ramble.

"Will you lost your wife."

I think I have gotten through to him, but as always I find Riker to be one step ahead of me.

"Deanna, I lost my love long before I lost my wife."

Sometimes when he throws me off like that, I am not sure if I want to hit him or kiss him.

"and for the record Deanna, to me you havenít changed a bit."

He can be such a charmer. My Will. He could always bring tears to my eyes with the littlest of sentiment.

* * * *

Only a small portion of the back of my mind is immune to my lovesick ways, consequently it was that small piece that began a warning hum.

Diana Riker had spotted us and by the feel of her rising emotions, she wasnít happy.

Unfortunately my own rising emotions barely made her feeling visible above my own.

I didnít feel her approaching until she was right on top of me.

Chapter 3/5

"Ms. Troi, must we make a scene at my mother's funeral?"

A voice brings me back to my reality and the rest of my brain awakens to

what I know a small part of me had been trying to warn.

Diana Riker.

Unable to duck in enough time to avoid confrontation, I take a deep breath.

Maintaining my dignity, knowing I am likely to be the talk of the

retirement home for many days to come, I hold my head like I imagine my

mother would have and with much trepidation I release my hands from Will's

face rising to meet the girl eye to eye.

"Diana, I am so sorry for your loss."

The words leave my mouth before I turn around. It is not that I am not

sincere. It is however very hard to maintain an air of dignity in front of

a girl who has spent a better half of her downtime from Starfleet spreading

rumors and telling lies about me to everyone and anyone who would listen.

It saddens me such a bright girl with such a promising future holds such

hate for a woman who she doesn't even know.

"Diana, I extend my sympathies in your time of suffering. I know first

hand how difficult it is to loose a mother."

My voice speaks only truth. I am content with myself enough to turn around.

I face her.

My breath catches in my throat as our eyes lock. I had forgotten how blue

her eyes are, how similar they are to her fathers.

"Ms. Troi you are happy my mother is dead."

Being a trained counselor for so many years, I am neither surprised or

shocked to hear the hurtful accusations of Diana Riker.

Her words however still sting. I guess I always quietly fancied the idea

of Diana, a kinder gentler Diana and I become friends at some point.

Sharing intimate embarrassing secretes that only I know about her father

and maybe over a steaming cup of hot chocolate discuss the possibility of

bringing Riker grandchildren into the world.

I guess I have dreamed of having a mother-daughter relationship with Diana

despite the fact she currently makes a point of hating me. . . silly

notions of someone who has long passed her child bearing days and refuses

to see anything that is part Will to be unreachable.

Hot chocolate and lengthy chats however were obviously not in our near

future. I can feel that the loss of her mother has caused Diana great

mental anxiety. Tension flows freely through her and an internal battle is

raging within her breast; did she want to cry or did she want to hate; did

she want to mourn her mother or did she want to take a much easier route

and focus her emotions toward one target, me?

As much as this girl's attitude annoys me, I can't help but feel a sudden

kinship with her and maybe a window of opportunity to spark some sort of

response between us. Loosing my mother had caused many of the same emotions

to well within me and I had chosen a similar punching bag to focus my hurt

on for many years, her father and his marriage.

"Diana, your mother and I may not have been friends, but I could never draw

any sort of solace from a loss of life. I would not be Betazoid if I did

not truly suffer yours as well as your father's pain personally."

I try to extend a hand to her shoulder but she flinches.

I am always to quick with the touch. William is the only native from earth

I had not managed to offend with my anxiousness to bring the physical into

any intense mental turmoil.

Thinking of William, I guiltily turn my head back to him. I have been on

my own defenses for so long that I had not even allowed myself to think of

him and how this new scene may affect him.

I am so busy trying to shield him, I had let myself unlatch from his state

of mind.

However, before I get fully turned around I feel his hand go to the middle

of my back and his presence stand strong behind me.

This touch, so gentle, so something I had let myself crave for so long,

brings me great comfort.

And great pain. Not my pain, but Diana's pain. I watch this woman - a

grown captain of her own ship, transform into a child before my eyes the

moment I imagine her father's full height comes up behind me.

We may be old, but right now we are a picture of something she had been

taught to fear from day one.

"Diana, Deanna Troi does not have a hateful bone in her body."

Will is gentle but firm in his voice, just how I always imagined he would

be with our child. A child that never had come farther then a secret

holodeck program.

It has been a long time since he has been able to stick up for me. It has

been a long time since we have been able to stand together without causing

more controversy than if we stood apart.

"Mother casket isn't even closed yet, daddy."

Diana, who once told a delegation of Starfleet officials that the Fifth

House of Betazed is a cannibalistic house that sacrifices small Betazed

children on an alter by eating them alive, seems taken somewhat aback by

her father. I am curious by her reaction, so I turn my head upward to him.

I admit I am shocked by what is standing behind me - pleasantly shocked.

Will has drawn himself to full height and has added a couple of inches by

throwing his broad shoulders back and pulling his head up. Something, his

essence perhaps, seems more alive, causing those blue eyes to blaze and his

jaw to set.

He has never looked so handsome.

"Diana my love, Deanna is here because I called her."

Called me? I am confused but I know he is, or at least believes, he is

telling the truth.

"Daddy?"

"Darling, what is there left to fear? Your mother is dead and I am much to

old to be anything to Deanna but a friend. Let me be her friend."

Before I know what to make of Will's words, I feel those strong fingers

lock again around my hand.

My eyes are inevitably drawn to Diana's pained expression by this action,

again her face is a mirror of her father that pulls at my heartstrings.

"Will?"

I try to warn him but he gives me a look that begs me to keep quiet - so I

am. But I know Diana is an open wound, feeling she has experienced a

double loss. She believes she has not only lost her mother today, but her

father as well.

A tug at my hand and I feel myself being lead to a side door.

"Will?"

"Stay here."

He brings my hand to his lips for a brief sweeping kiss, before he again

crosses the room, to where Molly is laid.

I watch this new man, who really seems to be his old self, kneel before his

wife's coffin. I watch Will, with his large hands that have always been so

surprisingly gentle , sweep across each side of Molly's face as he begins

to silently mouth something.

I choose to keep my mind diverted from this private exchange. Despite my

inquisitiveness into earth culture and the mourning of the dead, and my

added curiosity into Will and Molly, I decide this is probably something

that is better left untouched.

So again I watch Diana.

And after a moment her eyes are inevitably drawn to me.

There is still a great deal of hate flowing from her, directed in my

direction, but. . . there is something else, something new.

I am obviously not the only one who noticed the transformation in Will.

After a moment Will rises, drawing my eyes back to him. In him, I feel

that corked up bottle of emotions of his may have sprung a leak.

He leans over and gently places a kiss on Molly's forehead before turning

to his daughter.

I am interested on what they will say, but surprisingly no words pass

between them. I watch a father open his arms and I watch a daughter, a

child in a woman's body, collapse into an embrace which by the looks of it

is long overdue.

It is in that moment that I realize I may have accomplished all that I can.

Knowing Will is distracted, I slip out the back door. Diana was right, I

do not belong at this funeral.

4/5

My walk managed to stay composed until I made it out the door . . .

Then I broke into a run.

I managed to ignore the nagging in my chest and the aching in my

joints with success as I let the freedom of the wind attempt to wash

away the feelings I was trying to escape.

Somewhere between the church and my hotel, I lost a hair clip and

broke the heel off my shoe.

It didn't phase me.

I wanted so badly to be away from that scene that I just altered my

running pattern, staying with the breakneck speed.

I loved Will. I have always loved Will and I will die loving Will.

But he has a life without me. . .

And finally seeing that, after all these years finally seeing that

unit, now somewhat fractured but functional, and separate from our

relationship and me, made me feel old.

And alone.

And foolish because despite the fact that his love lies with me, his

loyalties and years of his life belong to someone else.

* * * * *

I left my purse at the church.

Shit.

Profanity comes more freely now as I have gotten older.

"Andre let me in."

My purse held my access code, and given my state of mind I can't seem

to recall it.

Right now, I don't even think I could recall my own name.

"Andre I swear if you don't let me in. . ."

I wad my fist up and begin to pound on the door.

The pounds first come slowly, at a rhythm, but within seconds become

more frantic.

I keep thinking of all the years that have gone by and all I have had

is myself.

"Andre."

My vision becomes blurred as I recall countless nights of laying in

my room, in my bed, with nothing but a pillow laying diagonally and

an old shirt of Will's wrapped in my fist.

"Andre."

Barely alert, it comes to me the absurdity of banging on a sound

proof door. Shakily I reach a hand to the access panel on the side

of the door.

I have always viewed myself as strong, and yet here I am, crying.

I buzz the computer to ring inside the suit.

At the same time I let my back fall against and I let myself slide to

the floor.

* * * *

"Deanna?"

The door slides open.

"Deanna?"

I look up, expecting to see Andre, ready with a tongue lashing about

my stupidity.

"Deanna why did you leave?"

I blink back in surprise. My tears have restricted my vision but the

voice is something I could never forget.

"Will?"

I think I'd almost rather get the verbal beating.

Hastily I go to wipe the tears in my eyes away, but my Imzadi is

again one step ahead of me. Before I know it he has bent down and

has taken his own hands to my face, gently wiping away my tears with

those strong gentle hands.

"Will."

"Call it nude therapy for the elderly."

Despite everything, I feel a giggle escape my lips.

* * * *

After a few moments of tension releasing laughter, Will enveloped my

hand in his and is leading me, much like a child, into my room.

"How. . ."

Before I have time to respond he finishes my unspoken

question, "transporter, I may be forgotten by Starfleet, but I have a

well respected Captain for a daughter, she can pull strings when she

wants to."

The doors close behind us and Will, despite everything, has taken the

liberty of making himself comfortable. Two glasses of hot chocolate

are sitting on the small table in the kitchen.

I want to cry again, staring at those two cups, but I manage to hold

back. It has been awhile since two cups have sat at my dining room

table.

"Andre?"

I hear a notable sigh escape Will as he pulls out my chair and

motions for me to sit down.

"That funny man doesn't like me, does he?"

For a moment his hand lingers on the back of my chair and I can't

help but smell his after shave lingering in the air above my head.

"Deanna?"

Subconsciously I let my hand go behind me and on top of his.

"Why are you here Will?"

"Because you needed me and I figured it is about time I return the

favor."

I release his hand and it travels to my shoulders, where he begins to

softly kneed at the tension knotted in the base of my neck.

"You shouldn't be here."

The kneading stops.

My breath catches in my throat.

"Why shouldn't I be."

He sounds hurt.

Everything I touch seems to end up that way.

"Diana."

The kneading begins again, but now drops to my shoulders.

"Diana is a grown woman and has long outgrown the need for a baby-

sitter."

He has always had amazing hands, I feel I could loose myself in this

massage.

"Will you are playing unfairly."

I close my eyes.

"But things are changed. . .you shouldn't be here."

He stops again.

I keep my eyes closed.

I hear the sound of another chair being scraped across the floor and

pulled next to me.

"Deanna open your eyes."

He is right across from me. If I weren't so strongly connected to

him, I would know simply by the feel of his warm breath on my face.

Obediently I open my eyes.

"I shouldn't be anywhere else."

He leans forward and puts his hands on each one of my knees.

I feel those tears again.

"Do you know what it is like to have lived only half a life?"

My question is unfair.

"Yes."

Right now I find I love him and hate him with equal intensity.

"I wanted to be the one in the coffin today, the one who had the

opportunity to share my life with you, to bear you child. I actually

felt myself get jealous of a dead woman."

My voice begins to ramble and words that I have only half thought out

flow freely from my mouth.

"Deanna you don't want to be Molly."

"Yes I do." I sniff back another sob, "She had you. I had a holo-

program of a family I felt was my destiny and she had you."

I stand to get away.

He stands as well and because I have lost all the fight left in me,

without protest I allow his arms to wrap around me.

"Molly had only flesh Deanna. She never had me. Only you have ever

had me."

5/5

"Really?"

I look at him wanting so badly to believe him.

"Jesus Deanna I thought you were the empath here."

He winks, squeezes my knee, and gives me one of his smiles to let me know he is teasing me.

Sometimes I wish I had my mother's boldness. I would have kissed him right now.

But I don't and because it is Molly's funeral and I feel her presence still very much between us, I instead kiss my right hand and place it on his lips.

He doesn't understand, but he holds my hand at his lips a moment longer anyway, before letting it fall back on my lap.

"I love you Deanna."

I can't help but smile at that.

"I love you too Will."

I see a flicker of that old Riker sparkle in his eyes, but before I can question him, he stands and pulls me, quite unsuspecting, up with him.

We are only centimeters apart and for the first time I am totally aware that he is still very much someone who can set my heart a flutter.

"I know you can still do the fifty yard dash, but Ms. Troi, can you still dance."

His voice is deep and I feel an eruption of goosebumps erupt down my neck.

I know I am far from that school girl Will met and fell in love with on Betazed more then a lifetime ago. . .but I feel like her. I feel that excitement all over again.

It could be quite addicting.

"Will." I begin in protest.

I feel his hand go to the small of my back.

"Friends dance, and we are best friends."

He's got that determined look on his face, the one which lets me know that I have no hope in changing his mind.

"Will, we have no music."

His other hand searches out my mine and our fingers intertwine.

"When have we ever needed music before."

His hand drops down from where it supports me and I feel myself being lowered into a dip.

My heart stops.

Our faces move in closer.

I have lost control of the situation which I have a sneaking suspicion was Will's intentions all along.

"What about Molly?"

My eyes search out his face. I don't want to hurt him, but facts are facts.

The moment is broken, he brings me back up.

But he does not let go.

"Molly has been sick for a very long time."

His voice grows quiet, an unusual trait Will usually only exhibits when he is getting serious.

"I'm sorry."

Our hands unlock but I can tell he doesn't want to loose our proximity, so I let my hand go to his chest.

"I didn't love her, but after raising a daughter and sharing a life together, I learned to respect her. She had good qualities."

Unable to agree I choose to just nod. Like at the funeral I will be here simply because he is my best friend and he needs me to be.

"When her possibilities for a cure were exhausted, we talked."

"Talking is good."

He smiles and looks down at me, "We talked about you."

"Me?"

The idea that Molly talked about me on her deathbed was more than a little unsettling.

"Do you want to tell me what you talked about?"

I wouldn't push him. But I wasn't quite sure how I would react if he said no.

Unprepared I feel myself being swept off my feet into another dip.

"We talked about my annoying fascination with a head of a certain Betazed house hold."

"Annoying?"

"Her words - not mine."

Back up I go.

"And we talked about how despite the fact I have been faithful, I deserve to be happy."

"Happy?" I choke, trying to imagine Molly stating anything remotely about Will and me in the same breath and happy.

He raises an eyebrow, "Her words, not mine."

Down I go again, at least this time a little more prepared.

"Will?"

"Tired of my dipping?"

"A little."

Pulling me up again he releases his hold on my back and his hands go to each side of my face, tilting my head up to him.

"She told me any woman who stayed single this long for me is definitely worth pursuing."

I am flabbergasted.

He knows it.

Damn it all if he didn't take the opportunity to catch me off guard and dip me again.

"But we are so old."

I counter poorly, but who can think when their believably unattainable dream is within arms link. Hell, within lips link.

"We are old, so I suggest we not waste any more time that we do not have."

He is messing with me again.

"I. . ."

I am flustered. It always happens when Will wins an argument on his wits.

"You're still a cute looser Ms. Troi."

My breath catches.

Times like this I don't know whether I want to hit him or kiss him.

I opt for the latter of the two, and following in the great shoes of a man who has been the king of catching me off guard, I let go of myself, my inhibitions, and channel a little Lwaxana Troi.

He smugly smiles. Little does he know what is coming at him.

I lean in, really slyly, then when he least expects it, I plant one on his lips. Not one of my mild kisses, but something stronger, something that lets him know that he is truly in for one hell of a ride.

He had a point, we have wasted to much time.

********