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He sat still as a stone on the bar stool, tossing
rivers of liquid gold ale down his throat with one
hand, as the other clenched and unclenched on his
thigh. His eyes lifted now and again to glance at the
couple on the other side of the room, watching the
affectionate gestures with nauseated contempt.
"Klingon bastard," he spat, wiping his mouth on the
back of his hand, then slamming the tall mug against
the bar so hard it vibrated the blue crystal champagne
flutes belonging to the couple standing next to him.
Needing no further enouragement, they smartly backed
away, leaving Will the sole occupant of Guinan's
"Slam that any harder and you might break your hand,
Her voice startled him, and he spun to face her,
fairly growling. "What? Oh...yeah...sorry. I didn't
"Yes you did. But that's all right. There's a reason
why this bar has a replicator, you know." Guinan's
dark brown eyes filled with gentle tolerance and
amusement as she mopped the wet circles around Will's
mug, then took the empty glass away, filling it again
for him without being asked.
"Thanks," he grunted when she sat it down in front of
him. "How did you know I was going to ask for
"It seems to be that kind of night, Commander."
Staring briefly at Worf and Deanna, Guinan softly
shook her head, as though something about the couple
did not quite sit well with her. Will picked up on it
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Certainly. I'll even try to answer it, if I can."
She grinned at him, hoping to cheer him, but he wasn't
"Do you think...?" the question barely began to tumble
from his lips, when another replaced it instantly. "Do
you think that Deanna and Worf...belong together?"
There, he'd said it.
Guinan's brow lifted and she leaned on the counter
towards him, her green headdress floating somewhere in
the vicinity of his hairline. "Does it really matter
what I think, Commander?"
"Of course it does. It matters to me. I can't believe
that I'm the only one here who doesn't think that she
should be with him."
"Well, you're probably not. However, what you or I or
anyone else thinks is irrelevent. They seem quite
happy with one another. Perhaps it's not easy for you
to see that, given your...position."
His head reared up angrily and his blazing blue eyes
fastened on her. "My position? You mean the fact that
we were once lovers....that we were and always will be
Imzadi...that she was the first and only woman I ever
loved...that I..." but he couldn't continue. The
anger and frustration over Deanna and Worf's
relationship had reached a boiling point and he was on
the brink of busting up the room and everyone in it,
or bursting into tears. Neither seemed feasible,
especially since he didn't want to make a total ass of
himself in front of Deanna. He also didn't want to
look like a wimp in front of his Captain-or his rival.
Slamming his way through the room like a brama bull
in heat might feel really good right now, but he had
the feeling that Picard wouldn't understand if his
Security Officer was suddenly lying broken and
bleeding on the floor at his feet.
No, he'd have to get a hold of himself. Somehow.
As his mind raced, he felt Guinan's gentle hand cover
his and squeeze. "Will...I know what you're going
through. You're hurting and angry. Maybe you have a
right to be. But whatever else has happened between
yourself and the Counselor, right now you're her
friend. Don't make a scene that would only embarass
"Shit. I know you're right. But I can't stand it. I
can't stand seeing her with him-not anymore. It's
"Then why don't you tell her that?"
He laughed scornfully. "And have her pity me? Reject
me? Give me the same old "lets just be friends"
speech I've heard a hundred times since she came on
board? No thanks." Shaking his head he buried
himself in his ale, gulping it down like water,
staring painfully into space.
"You know, you aren't the only one who's feelings are
hurt, Commander. There are reasons why Deanna chose to
have this relationship, you know."
His interest piqued, Will glanced up at her. "Such
"Well, you said yourself that you can't understand why
they are together. Why do you think a gentle,
peace-loving, emotional woman like Deanna would fall
in love with a man who lives for battle? A man who is
her very opposite in every imaginable way?"
"I don't know. If you can figure it out, let me know."
He turned to look over his shoulder at them again,
watching Deanna laughing demurely as Worf stood stock
still, unsmiling. It was impossible to tell whether he
was having a good time or not, which was another thing
that puzzled Will. "There, right there, Guinan.
There's a perfect example. Deanna is all love and
light and laughter, while Worf is...I don't know.
Aggressive, tense, unemotional. What in the name of
God does she see in him?"
The bartender smiled at him benevolently, giving him a
few beats to follow where she was going with this, but
he stubbornly refused to mull it over any further.
Finally, sighing, Guinan sat down on a stool behind
the bar, spread her long green cloak around herself,
and poured a glass of water from a silver pitcher.
She took a sip, then downed the whole thing, then took
a deep breath. "You want easy answers, Will, and I'm
afraid I don't have them. All I can tell you is that
sometimes, when we find a person attractive who seems
to be everything that we are not, it's because we wish
to develop those qualities within ourselves. Now, I'm
not saying that Deanna wants to grab the nearest
batleth' and slice someone's head off, but that
perhaps Worf's strength is appealing to her. When two
people enter a relationship, it's usually for so many
other reasons than for the immediately obvious ones.
And, if Deanna finds things appealing about Worf's
character, then I'm sure he feels the same. Maybe her
very gentleness draws him, because he is not familiar
with that aspect of himself. Or maybe Deanna's
ability to express emotion is what appeals to him,
given that he is a very stoic person. The point is,
that not all relationships are meant to be life-time
loves. Some are meant as lessons, as opportunities for
growth. And, in my opinion, that may be what attracts
Deanna and Worf to one another."
Will pondered, swallowed, and shook his head. "I hear
what you're saying, and I can't say it doesn't make
sense. But it still hurts like hell to see them
together. I love Deanna, and I want what's best for
her, but as her friend it's impossible for me to stand
by and watch this go on, when I know that it's not
right for her."
"And how do you know that, Will? She may be recieving
lessons right now that she needs in order to continue
her growth as a person. The same may be true of Worf.
We can't judge their relationship, Will, because we're
not in it and we don't have any way of knowing what's
right for either of them."
"Well, I know that it isn't right to have to go to
Sickbay to be treated every other day because your
lover is so violent that he bruises you when you make
love. God, it sickens me to think of him hurting her
She looked down at the bar, and then back up at his
face, nodding. "I know. And that, my friend, is
another difficult lesson for you to learn. Watching
someone we love be in a situation that we feel is not
good for them is very painful. But however difficult
this is for you, you must let her make decisions for
herself. Deanna is not a stupid woman, Will. If she
ever in any way feels that this isn't a good
relationship for her, she will end it. You have to
trust her to take care of herself and to know what's
best for her. She'll be all right."
"I know. You're right--again. It's just that..."
"I love her so much and I feel that we belong
together." His eyes filled briefly, and he quickly
blinked away the tears, terrified that she would see
Gently, she squeezed his hand again, and murmured, "If
that's true, then it will happen. Trust, Will. Just
because the two of you are not together now, doesn't
mean that there's no chance to be together in the
future. And, if it's bothering you this much, talk to
her. Don't yell at her, don't try to convince her to
see things your way...just tell her how you feel. You
might be surprised at her reaction."
"I guess that's all I can do, isn't it?"
"Yes it is. But that's enough. Sometimes all we need
to do is tell the truth, and life shuffles the cards
again, just enough for us to get a winning hand. If
you love her, don't give up. But you must accept that
right now, she's choosing to be with him. Give her
time to sort out her feelings, Will. It's not easy to
run in the direction of your dreams..."
He turned that over for a moment, and then his eyes
lit from within. "You're talking about
"But, what are you saying? That she really wants to be
"Perhaps. Although I believe that there are many
reasons for this relationship between them, I have a
strong sense that she's holding back a part of
"You think that maybe she's with him partially because
she thinks that there's no chance for us to try
"I didn't say that. I honestly don't know. What I do
know is that when I see the two of you together, I
feel an openness between you. Complete trust and
serenity. When I see Deanna and Worf together, it's as
though they are both putting out feelers, testing the
waters, but never truly diving in."
They looked at one another and Will could suddenly
sense Deanna in his mind from across the room, as
though she'd been privy to the entire conversation.
Looking around, he noted that she was waltzing in the
arms of the Captain to a strain from the Blue Danube,
while Worf was clumsily marching around in circles
with Beverly who was trying very hard not to giggle.
They were all ignoring him completely, Deanna
included, and yet he could feel her in his mind so
perfectly, it was as though she were in his arms,
sending every thought in her mind directly to him.
"Guinan, thank-you. I don't know what I would've done
if it hadn't been for you tonight," he finally said,
gratefully patting her hand.
"I think you probably would have mopped the floor with
Worf, and since I don't like blood on my floors, I'm
glad to have been of service."
She smiled at him, winked, and then moved away,
leaving him looking after her in awe. She seemed to
sense every emotional current that moved around the
ship, including the ones that drifted between he and
Deanna....he could still sense her. "Imzadi?"
he sent silently, testing the waters.
"Yes, I'm here, Will."
"I...felt you. Did you want to talk to me?"
"I'm not sure. I mean...yes, I would. But I can't just
walk off the dance floor...Captain Picard seems to be
Will smiled to himself, and looked at her over his
shoulder, seeing her small body gracefully spinning in
circles, sending her long turquoise dress in silken
streams around her feet. She glanced at him over the
Captain's shoulder and grinned, and Will felt as
though his heart would fly right out of his chest, it
was pounding so hard. She was beautiful and he loved
her. So much.
"Sneak away when the dance is over. I'll be in my
Never missing a step, her eyes widened with surprise,
and then she sent back a response. "I'll be there as
soon as I can. Imzadi."
The word melted his heart, and he smiled even more
widely. Moving off of the stool he glanced back at
Deanna who hid her blushing face in the Captain's
shoulder, winking at him discreetly. Then he headed
for his quarters, feeling better than he'd felt in
"Come," he said as the chimes rang. Dressed in a blue
shirt, black slacks and bare feet, he moved to the
door, unable to stop the wild tattoo of his heart. As
the doors slid open, he saw her standing there,
looking so perfectly beautiful it was as though she
were something out of a holodeck fantasy. "Hi"
"Hi yourself, Commander." She moved into the room,
standing directly in front of him, her large dark eyes
filled with amusement.
"I take it you were able to extricate yourself from
the demands of our Captain?"
"Actually, he seemed relieved for it to be over. I
don't think Jean Luc is overfond of dancing, no matter
how much Beverly would like to believe otherwise."
Will grinned, imagining the Captain's discomfort.
"Well, I'm glad you were able to get away. Would you
like something to drink? To eat? Why don't you have a
seat on the sofa?" He was rambling, but couldn't
stop. He was afraid that if he did, he'd take her into
his arms and make love to her right then and there.
She took a seat, adjusting her dress around her legs,
and curled them beneath her on the sofa. Then she
giggled. "I'm not hungry, thanks, but I will have a
tall, deep, delicious mug of hot chocolate."
"Coming right up." He moved to the replicator and
called for two mugs, then joined her on the sofa.
"You...wanted to talk to me, Deanna?"
She sipped the hot liquid gratefully, closing her eyes
to fully enjoy the aroma. "Mmm...yes, I did." Her eyes
opened and met his, and then she sat the mug on the
coffee table. "I...I don't know quite how to say
"Take your time, we've got all night."
"It's about Worf and I..."
Will's stomach clenched, preparing him for a blow, and
he found himself praying that she hadn't come to make
a wedding announcement. "Go...go on."
She sighed, placed her head on the back of the sofa
and then smiled softly.
"We've ended our relationship, Will. It's over between
Her words left him numb with relief, and he physically
sank against the cushions, closing his eyes. "I can't
believe it. I mean, is this what you want?"
She nodded. "Worf and I make very good friends, and
we've learned a great deal from each other. But we
just weren't destined to have a romantic relationship.
Even if we had felt more deeply about one another, I
don't think it would have worked."
Will opened his eyes and leaned toward her. "And why
"Because, a relationship can't go very far when one
partner is in love with someone else."
"Deanna...are you saying...that you're in love with
She said nothing, but the look on her face told him
everything he needed to know.
Her eyes were filled with emotion, and her hands were
trembling on her lap. He could see the pulse of her
heartbeat at the base of her throat, and before he
could stop himself, he moved towards her.
He pulled her into his arms, covering her mouth with
his, running his hands through the glorious tumble of
curls at her back. "Deanna...God, I love you. You
can't imagine how long I've wanted this. I thought...
that you and Worf....I thought you might get married.
I thought it was over between us..."
"So did I. But you kept coming between us, Will." She
pulled away just far enough to look into his eyes, and
then down at the sofa as her eyes filled with tears.
Gently, he took her chin and lifted it so that she was
looking at him again.
"Don't cry, sweetheart. I'm sorry. I tried so hard not
to come between the two of you. I wanted you to be
happy. I would've done anything to make that happen."
"I know. It's not your fault. The truth is, our
relationship would have ended anyway. We don't have
enough in common to really be romantic partners. But I
don't regret getting to know him. He's taught me alot,
and I'd like to believe I've done the same for him."
"I'm sure you have, Deanna."
"I suppose we were always meant to just be friends,
and yet, we'd both been without a romantic
relationship for so long, it seemed to make sense that
we'd naturally drift into being lovers as well."
The word stung, and Will had to force his mind not to
conjure up unwelcome pictures of Deanna in Worf's
arms. "I...don't know what to say, Deanna."
"You don't have to say anything, Will. I just wanted
you to know what's happened and why. Worf brought out
qualities in me that I never new existed, and I won't
forget him for that. But I don't love him-not in a
romantic sense. I kept hoping that one day I would
suddenly fall madly in love, but it never happened."
"No, you're not," she teased softly.
"Okay, maybe I'm not. But I hate to see you unhappy.
I'm sorry if this breakup has hurt you."
She shook her head. "Oddly enough, it hasn't. Oh, I
may be a bit sad, but it's mostly because I've spent
so much time trying to forget you. It wasn't fair to
Worf for me to have a relationship with him when I
knew that I still loved you..."
Will pulled her to him again, unable to believe what
she was saying. "You did? You know, you could've
fooled me. I believe it was you that decided that we
couldn't get involved again while serving on the same
ship." The twinkle in his eyes made her smile, then
"Yes, all right, it was me. But I was only trying to
do what was best for the ship, and the crew. And for
us. I was wrong, Will."
"God, Deanna, I've wanted to hear you say that for so
long. I love you. I've never stopped. And as much as I
tried to stay out of your way, it was killing me to
see you with him. To know that as long as we were both
aboard this ship, you and I would never have the
chance to be together again....I thought I'd lost you
for good this time."
"Never, Will. We are Imzadi, remember?"
"I'll never forget..." he murmured, then kissed her so
passionately that in seconds she was breathless.
When they came up for a breath, their eyes met, and it
was as though the years had fallen away, leaving them
the same young people who had once lost their hearts
to one another on a beautiful planet far, far away.
"I love you Will."
"I love you too, Deanna. More than you'll ever know."
"I'm sorry that I hurt you."
"I'm sorry that I never had the guts to tell you how I
felt...it cost us so much time."
"No...that doesn't matter. We've both gone through
what we've needed to go through, learned what we've
needed to learn, and cared about those we needed to
care about. It wasn't wasted time, Will."
He sighed, reveling in the feel of her in his arms,
delighted beyond measure that his dreams were finally
coming true. "You're right. Anything that lead you
back into my arms couldn't possibly be a waste."
He held her tightly, almost afraid to let go, feeling
all of the evening's emotions rise to the surface. In
the space of an hour he'd gone from the depths of
despair to the heights of joy, and wasn't quite sure
how to make the transistion.
"Are you all right, Imzadi?"
He nodded, then kissed her again, allowing years of
love and desire to rise up and wash over them both,
finally letting go of the weight he'd been shouldering
since Deanna had come on board. Since her relationship
with Worf began. It all just drifted away, leaving
nothing but peace. She was in his arms, they had their
second chance. It was everything he'd wished for.
Silently, in the dark corners of his mind, he pictured
Guinan's wise, knowing face, and mentally whispered,
In her quarters, Guinan lifted her head from her
pillow and smiled. "You're welcome, Commander," she
murmured, and then fell asleep, the smile never
leaving her face.