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Deanna is just barely awake. She feels Beverly roll over and wrap her in the crook of her arm. She sighs and lets herself drift back to sleep. She feels safe and warm. It’s been a long time since she’s woken up next to someone. Right now she can’t imagine that someone being anyone but Beverly Crusher.

Beverly moves again and Deanna reluctantly opens her eyes. Beverly is off to her sick bay. It’s probably a mess after the commotion of the last couple of days. She knows Beverly will never be able to relax until everything there is exactly as it should be. Beverly can be a very demanding woman to work for. Thank goodness she tempers her strong will with a smile. Still, Deanna is glad to be a friend and not an employee.

Beverly wants to know what she is up to today. She tells her about the meetings she has scheduled both down on the planet and with Captain Picard and Commander Riker. It is one of her duties to make sure that their mission has been completed to everyone’s satisfaction. She also needs to brief her supervisors on the success and/or failures of the mission.

Beverly mentioned taking some time in the afternoon. Deanna smiles at that. They have yet to have a proper date. Perhaps she can wrap up her work early as well. She stretches and slowly crawls out of Beverly’s bed. She pulls her uniform on and makes herself a cup of tea. She quickly checks to see that the hall is clear then hurries down to her own quarters. She doesn’t see Data step into the hall behind her.

Deanna and Will Riker beam down to the planet Sycorax 3 to make sure that everything is in order. Care of its people are officially handed off to the leaders of the world. They return to the Enterprise with a tablet full of data and tricorder readings collected during the epidemic. They will hand the information off to the individuals responsible for compiling the data and reporting back to StarFleet.

Will keeps stealing peeks at her, smiling and winking. She thinks that she is going to have to speak to him soon. She needs to concentrate on her work. She can’t keep wondering what exactly he thinks is going on with her and her love life. Before she has a chance, she and Commander Riker are called to the conference room to give final status reports before the Enterprise departs on its next adventure.

The meeting takes longer than she had hoped. One of the Sycorax world leaders has questions and comments he wishes to relay to the Captain and his advisors. Deanna starts to squirm in her chair. Of course Will notices and gives her another smile. She sighs.

Finally Captain Picard calls the meeting to a close. The Enterprise is done here and he is anxious to move on. He knows that one of the ship’s directives is to give aid when needed but he never aspired to be the captain of a medical aid ship. The Enterprise is built for exploration. Discovering new worlds and new civilizations is what he loves. He asks the Counsellor and his First Officer to walk the Sycorax to their shuttle and then secure the ship for departure.

As they leave the shuttle bay, Deanna mentions that she missed breakfast and is hoping to grab a quick lunch before her afternoon appointments. Before she can get away, Will grabs her hand. “I think we need to talk Deanna.” She shakes her head. This is not a conversation she wants to have right now. She tries again to beg off but Will decides that they can eat lunch together. Without another good excuse, Deanna reluctantly agrees.

Throughout lunch, the two old friends chat and laugh. Deanna does her best to deflect Will but she knows the questions are coming. She pushes her plate to the edge of the table and waits.

Will pushes his plate to the side as well and tries to start what will surely be an uncomfortable conversation. Deanna waits. He at least has the decency to be embarrassed by the questions he’s going to ask. That makes her smile a bit. “Deanna, this is…we’ve known each other a long time…” She nods. She knows where this is going but she’s not going to help him out at all. He tries again. “…OK Look. I think we know each other well enough that we can talk about this.” She gives him an innocent look. “Talk about what Will?” He smiles. She knows exactly what he’s trying to say but she’s still going to make him sweat it out. “The other night, here in Ten Forward, I was just teasing but, well, Deanna, are you and Beverly…” She decides to put him out of his misery. “Are we seeing each other? Is that what you want to know?” He gives her a smile of relief. “Yeah. I think that’s what I want to know.”

“I’m not sure I want to share yet Will. Beverly and I, well, we’re redefining our relationship. I don’t know what it is or where it’s going. I’m just enjoying her company.” Will looks uncomfortable again. “So are you and Beverly, uh…” Deanna smiles. “Really Will, that’s none of your business.” He smiles. “No. You’re right. I’m just concerned.” “As a friend or as a commanding officer?” He thinks for a second. “A little of both I suppose. As your commanding officer, I would have concerns with anything that might affect the working relationships among co-workers.” Deanna nods. “I understand.” “And as your friend, well, it’s just a bit of a surprise isn’t it? I mean you and I…” She smiles as she reaches across the table and takes his hand. “This, whatever it is between me and Beverly, it has nothing to do with you. When we were together, I was wholly with you. Is that what you’re asking?” “A bit” he admits. “It just seems odd to me that, well, I don’t know how else to say it. That you’re playing for the other team now.” Deanna laughs.

“Gender roles I suppose, are more fluid for women” she tries to explain. “It’s not something that I’ve thought about and certainly not when we were together. In fact, until the other day, I really never considered it at all.” “So what changed?” he asks. “I’m not entirely sure” Deanna confesses. “It’s just, we’ve always been close. I guess we looked at each other in a different light. We are both in the same place emotionally. It just kind of happened. But Will, I want you to know that I am really happy. Happier than I’ve been in a very long time.” He squeezes her hand. “I can tell Deanna. As your friend, I am really happy for you. And for Beverly. You both deserve to have love in your life.” “And as a commanding officer?” He shakes his head. “I won’t say anything for now. This is your business. But if it starts to affect…” Deanna squeezes his hand back. “I understand.” He smiles his radiant smile at her as he stands to leave. “I love you Deanna. Is this what you really want?” She nods. “Well then I hope it works out for you. I really do.” She smiles back. “I love you too Will.” He drops her hand and walks from the room.

Deanna sinks back into her seat with a sigh. That went better than she had hoped. She lets her mind wander to Beverly. She can’t wait to see her, to talk to her. And maybe do some other activities later on in the evening. She wonders if Beverly is done with her day yet. She did promise some time off…

Deanna feels a little tickle in her brain. She grabs at the thread and tries to pull it in. She can’t quite hear it. Beverly’s thoughts are too scattered, not focused at all. At close proximity, she can usually be heard but, at any distance, well, she’s just not that gifted. Yet. Still, she attempts to return the message. If either woman had to put their thoughts into actual words, the best one to describe what they feel would have to be love.