Change One Thing: Lifetime Worth of Memories

Chapter One: Restarting

Disclaimer: Nope, not claiming any ownership here. They're different events, but the same people and we all know how Star Trek loves their "Alternate Universe(s)"

For those of you unfamiliar with the ranking system. It goes Ensign Lieutenant J.G. (Junior Grade) Lieutenant etc. So, a Junior Lieutenant is a J.G. Just wanted to be clear on that front.

Alternate Universe

- - - - -

After he left her, not coming back for her on Risa, she thought about him constantly. At first she was convinced he'd be back for her. But as time wore on; she began to realize he wasn't going to come and take her away to their perfect life. She didn't forgive him for a long time. Then her heart began to heal, she thought of him less, but she continually longed for him to return. She loved him and wanted him back, but didn't know what to say if he came back.

She waited almost four years before he contacted her. When she saw his face she didn't know whether to cry, scream, shut it off, ask where he'd been, why he'd left, or just say nothing. She decided to let him speak, her face betraying no emotion whatsoever.

"I never meant to hurt you," was all he said.

For a while neither of them said anything. They were both waiting for the other to speak. She wanted to hear more. He wanted to hear her response. When he knew she wasn't going to say anything, he continued.

"I love you, Deanna. I . . . just . . . I don't know. I was so afraid of the future. I wasn't going to be Will 'The Thrill' Riker, bachelor-extraordinaire, anymore. As much as I was—am—in love with you, I didn't want that to end.

"So I thought I could leave without any repercussions. For a while I was fine. I didn't think of you; almost not at all. But a year passed and your memory crept back into my mind. Every woman I saw was you. The Lieutenant in the hall, the crewman on the Bridge: it was you. You appeared in my vision everywhere. When I woke up, you where there. When I went to sleep, you were there. When I was on duty, you were there.

"More and more I thought about you. Constantly you were in my mind.

"Then the dreams started. I dreamt of you. Every moment we had together, even some we didn't." He smiled slightly, but it faded as he continued. "When I would wake up alone, I'd cry because you weren't really there. I would want to sleep and never wake again.

"A sedative addiction and a year of counseling later: nothing was better. So I've spent the past six months trying to get myself to contact you. I need to tell you that I'm still in love with you. I always have been, since the moment I saw you, and I always will. I just thought you deserved to be more than a Junior Lieutenant's wife, but I can't live you without you anymore. I need you, Imzadi."

Deanna sat quietly, in tears from his heart-felt confession. He called her 'Imzadi.' She had wondered if he would. She couldn't bring herself to say it. "Will, all I wanted to be was a Junior Lieutenant's wife; as long as that J.G. was you. But after what happened, we can't just go back to what we were."

Will's face sunk. He felt as if his life had just ended, and he was determined to grow old holding onto a few, short, wonderful memories.

"But I do still love you, Imzadi," she said with a sympathetic smile.

Will's face lit up at the sound of the word. "Oh, Imzadi! I can be on Betazed in four days, and we can talk and . . . and . . . I love you. You're what's important to me now." He was giddy with anticipation.

"I'm sorry, Will. I'm getting shipped out tomorrow. I joined Starfleet."

"You joined Starfleet? That's great!" He had been so excited that day.

They met a month later and decided, on Deanna's behalf, to start slow. They departed from their formal dinner with a chaste kiss, and a hope renewed.

- - - - / - - - -