"Mother, please", Deanna groaned.
"Oh, don't 'mother please' me! Mr Homn", Lwaxana addressed her attendant, "would you please fetch us some champagne."
Nodding his head said Mr Homn glided away to do as he had been asked, leaving mother and daughter on their own, staring at each other.
"Really, Deanna, you didn't have to come if you feel uncomfortable to be seen with me", Lwaxana's tone was laced with hurt.
"I didn't have…", the Counsellor sputtered, "you more or less made it an order, mother."
"Stop this exaggeration. I merely suggested that it would be nice..."
"You never suggest, mother. You simply order", Deanna interrupted with annoyance.
"Ladies, how can I help you?"
Turning towards the male voice, Lwaxana looked him up and down finding him sufficient, although not exceptional.
"I am Ambassador Troi and this is my daughter Counsellor Troi, we are here on behalf of the artist, so where is the delightful young woman?"
"It is an honour Ambassador, I am Peter Mitchell, the owner, Phoebe ..."
Lwaxana didn't listen to him any longer having spotted Phoebe as she rounded a corner in the back.
"Phoebe, dear, there you are!" Ambassador Troi's voice carried over the hushed conversation in the room, causing Phoebe's head to snap up at the mention of her name.
Sighing at her mother's behaviour, Deanna shot Mitchell an apologetic smile before she turned towards her mother and the surprised artist. So this was the infamous Phoebe Janeway, who according to her mother had captured Admiral Nechayev's heart. Deanna knew that her mother owned a few of Phoebe's pictures, the artist had talent and she was beautiful. Admiral Nechayev and Phoebe Janeway, somehow Deanna couldn't quite wrap her mind around it, but stranger things have happened. It wasn't that Deanna didn't like her godmother, she did. She even understood her better than most people and she knew the warm heart under the rough exterior, only few were privileged to see. Watching the artist's surprised face as she was hijacked by her mother she felt sympathy for her. Shaking her head at her mother, Deanna found it prudent to get to know Phoebe and if necessary save her from the force of nature that was Lwaxana Troi.
"Ambassador Troi! What a surprise", Phoebe choked out after she had gotten over her initial shock.
"Why is that, dear? You personally sent me an invitation." Lwaxana smiled charmingly.
"Well, yes, but..."
"Now then, I must say I'm quite impressed by your latest work. It is getting better and better, although I haven't seen much yet. I hope you will show me around later."
"Of course, Ambassador." Phoebe readily agreed, what else could she do.
"No, no. Lwaxana, remember?"
"Sorry, Lwaxana." Phoebe smiled.
"I suppose your charming mother and Admiral Pulaski are attending your exhibition as well? Let's join them, shall we?" She grabbed Phoebe's arm to look for the pair when Mr Homn handed a glass of champagne to his mistress, startling Phoebe by his sudden appearance.
"Have you not forgotten something, mother?" The women stopped at the commanding voice behind them.
"Don't be ridiculous, darling! How could I ever forget you?" Rolling her eyes at her daughter's obvious stupid question Lwaxana turned around.
"One can hope", Deanna muttered under her breath causing Phoebe to stifle her laughter.
"Phoebe", the Ambassador turned to the artist, "meet my ungrateful offspring, Deanna. Deanna, Phoebe Janeway."
Smiling at the introductions they shook hands, feeling comfortable with each other in an instant. Deanna sensed warmth, humour, gentleness and a mischievous streak in the artist and took a liking to the red head. She understood her appeal to a woman like Alynna Nechayev, although she couldn't fathom how the emotionally withdrawn Admiral and the outgoing artist could have become a couple. Maybe her mother was exaggerating; it wouldn't be the first time.
With a silent Mr Homn in tow the three women made their way to Gretchen and Kate. Admiral Pulaski was more than delighted to meet Deanna again, having served aboard Enterprise with the Counsellor during a lengthy absence of Dr Crusher.
"Deanna", Kate greeted her cordially, "how wonderful to meet you again. It's been a long time."
"It has indeed, Admiral." Deanna smiled when Kate kissed her cheeks.
"Please, call me Kate."
"Thank you, Kate."
"Deanna", Kate put a gentle hand on the small of Gretchen's back and drew her against her body. "Meet the love of my life, Gretchen Janeway. Gretchen, Deanna Troi, Counsellor of the Enterprise."
"Mrs Janeway", Deanna extended her hand and was surprised when the older woman took it and kissed her cheek.
"Call me Gretchen! It's a pleasure meeting you, Deanna."
"Now that we have been properly introduced", Lwaxana interrupted impatiently, "tell me, Phoebe, did the good Admiral make it to your exhibition?"
Not waiting for an answer Lwaxana turned towards the buffet only to give a small excited squeal when she spotted Alynna's favourite treat.
"Bularian canapés", the Ambassador was delighted, taking one between her fingers, "how did you know? They are Alynna's favourite snack."
"Lieutenant Norrington was very helpful", Phoebe blushed becomingly.
"A very resourceful woman, the good Lieutenant", Lwaxana had to agree. "But where is my dear friend?"
"Right here, wondering why you are eating what was clearly meant for me." Alynna's voice caused the Ambassador to drop the canapé and whirl around with a steadying hand on her chest.
"Alynna, darling", Lwaxana kissed both her cheeks in greeting, "it is not nice to startle me like that."
"Oh, please", the Admiral snorted. "Hello, Deanna!"
"Admiral? What happened to aunt Alynna?" Alynna chastised her goddaughter.
"Aunt Alynna", Deanna smiled, knowing that this was only permitted as long as they were both off duty, which was fine with her.
"So, your being here means at least one of you followed my advice", Lwaxana sniffed indignantly. "Was is difficult to convince her of what is good for her?" The Ambassador asked the artist.
"What makes you think it wasn't the other way round?" Alynna sounded a bit miffed.
Sighing at her friend, Lwaxana took Alynna's hand and patted it condescendingly.
"Alynna, it's me, Lwaxana. Sometimes I know you better than you know yourself, my dear. Of course it was this beautiful young woman who took things in her own hands."
Scowling at her friend's words the Admiral had to give in, which wasn't so hard at all when she felt Phoebe's hand in her own squeezing it gently.
"She is right, love", the artist smiled. "If it hadn't been for my insistence we wouldn't be where we are now."
"You are correct, darling." Alynna let go of Phoebe's hand, only to put it around her waist and drew her against her body, feeling the warmth of the younger woman's body through her uniform.
A gesture that didn't go unnoticed by the others around them. Gretchen and Kate smiled indulgently at Phoebe, Lwaxana more self-satisfied while Deanna raised a surprised eyebrow at the public display of affection.
It seemed so unlike the usual stoic and distant woman. When she kept looking at them, at the way Phoebe snuggled against the Admiral's side, how the older woman closed her eyes and kissed the artist's temple it looked completely natural and comfortable.
"Now that we have established the facts", Lwaxana interrupted their moment, "I wonder if you would show me around, Phoebe."
"Of course, I'd be honoured."
"Good, let's go, shall we." Lwaxana took Phoebe's arm and off they went. After a few steps the two women stopped. Lwaxana shot her daughter and the Admiral an expectant gaze.
"Deanna, Alynna are you coming?"
It was followed by a synchronised eye roll, and a nearly equally synchronised answer.
They looked at each other with a smile on their face and with a shake of their heads they followed the artist and the Ambassador.
Walking around the gallery with Phoebe explaining her work was an educating experience for both the Counsellor as well as the Admiral. Alynna gained a new respect for the young artist while Deanna glimpsed an interesting insight into Phoebe's personality. But what was even more interesting was the way the Admiral kept looking at the younger woman all the time. Adoration, awe, tenderness but most of all love were prominently written on her face. Deanna silently wondered if the older woman knew it, but somehow Deanna doubted she would care if she did. That knowledge caused Deanna to smile softly at the Admiral. Well, well, she thought, one passionate artist was all it took for the Ice Queen to thaw.
"What?" The question brought the Counsellor out of her musings.
"Nothing." Deanna tried to diffuse the scrutiny by the Admiral, feeling suddenly like a young cadet again.
"You love her", the Counsellor blurted without a second thought, cursing herself. What was it about the Admiral that always made her lose her wits when the older woman looked at her with such intense eyes? By the stiffening of the Admiral's back Deanna could tell it had been the wrong thing to say.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean, I just..." Deanna pedalled back.
Sighing at her goddaughter's stuttering, Alynna took pity on her and when she raised her hand she successfully stopped the rambling.
"It's quite all right. Yes, I love her. I really do."
"Have you told her?"
Shaking her head at the question Alynna suddenly felt embarrassed.
"Why not?" Deanna softly inquired.
"Too soon, I suppose." The Admiral's words were spoken equally softly.
"Tell her! If you feel it, it's not too soon."
Thinking about it, Alynna had to admit that Deanna was probably right. Looking at where Phoebe stood next to Lwaxana animatedly talking about one of her paintings, Deanna was right, it wasn't too soon because she was definitely head over heels in love with the beautiful redhead.
After their tour through the gallery, they joined Gretchen and Kate again. Lwaxana had been more than happy to buy two of Phoebe's paintings, one for her own home on Betazed and the other would be a gift for her daughter's engagement. Thinking about the upcoming event the Ambassador was glad that Deanna had finally realised what it was she had been looking for so long. Beverly Crusher was definitely the kind of person to keep her daughter on her toes contrary to the dull and boring Commander Riker.
Lwaxana had enjoyed herself tremendously this evening. The company was invigorating and the paintings were exquisite and she was also thrilled to see her good friend so clearly happy and very much in love with the woman by her side. The Ambassador was startled from her thoughts when Gretchen and Kate said good night to everybody.
"It's been a long day and to be quite honest I'm beat", Kate apologised.
"I'm happy you came", Phoebe kissed her cheek.
"Of course, I wouldn't have missed it, good night dear."
"Darling, I'm very proud of you", Gretchen hugged her daughter.
"Thank you, mom."
"Lwaxana, Deanna, it was a pleasure", Kate bid her goodbye to the Troi women.
"The pleasure was ours", Lwaxana smiled.
"Good night, Admiral", Deanna couldn't resist.
"Night, Counsellor", Kate smirked at the younger woman. "Oh, and don't forget to greet that woman of yours."
"How..." Deanna was flustered.
"Doctors are terrible gossip mongers, my dear, you should remember that!"
"Stop embarrassing the poor woman, let's go", Gretchen softly scolded her lover.
"I'll accompany you outside", Phoebe took her mother's arm.
Outside the gallery Kate hailed a taxi and got in, giving mother and daughter some time alone. Gretchen knew there was something on Phoebe's mind she wanted to tell her.
"Would you awfully mind if I stayed in Paris over the weekend", Phoebe asked her mother shyly.
"Certainly not. To be honest, I was expecting it", Gretchen admitted.
"Darling, enjoy your weekend! You both need some time away." Gretchen climbed into the taxi. She knew her daughter was already planning how to ask the Admiral to stay in Paris with her.
"Everything all right?" Kate asked when she saw the knowing smile on her lover's face.
"Everything is perfectly fine, my love." She leaned her head against Kate's shoulder and closed her eyes, hoping her youngest would have the time of her life this weekend in Paris.
When she returned, Phoebe found the Admiral talking animatedly to her friends. Standing tall, with her lean body, short blonde hair and classic features Admiral Nechayev was a very attractive woman. To an uninvolved observer she might appear cold, distant and even harsh but Phoebe knew differently. She knew that beneath the rough exterior was beating a warm and tender heart. The artist knew Alynna the caring, gentle and loving woman. She savoured the fact that only with her Alynna showed that side of herself. How could she not love this woman? Yes, she loved Alynna with all her heart and it was time to tell her. Tonight would be the night because Phoebe was certain the other woman felt the same way.
Phoebe joined them and kissed Alynna's cheek which caused the Admiral to blush nicely, not being used to this affection, least of all in front of other people. She didn't have to worry though because both Troi women thought love suited her.
"I know it is still early but would you please excuse us?" Phoebe asked the Ambassador and her daughter.
"Of course dear. We understand completely. It was nice meeting you and may I congratulate you to your success." Lwaxana had a good idea why the young woman was eager to say good night.
"Thank you that is very kind of you."
"Not at all", the Ambassador disagreed, "you are a very accomplished artist."
"I have to agree with my mother", Deanna added with a smile, "there is no need for too much modesty."
"Thanks, both of you. I'm happy you attended tonight."
Phoebe took the Admiral's hand and together they left the gallery. It was a mild night and they decided to take a walk, knowing there were certain things they needed to talk about. Strolling through the streets of Paris, holding hands and enjoying the comfortable silence, each woman was occupied by her own thoughts. On the banks of the Seine they sat on a bench watching the river flow by waiting for the other to tell what was on her mind.
Finally Phoebe had gathered enough courage to tell Alynna what she had been mulling over the whole time.
"I know it's kind of sudden but would you spend the weekend here with me? I have a suite at the Ritz but if you don't feel comfortable you could also..." Phoebe's suddenly shy babbling was stopped by soft lips against her own. After the first surprise had worn off the artist's hands found its way into the Admiral's hair, gently holding the older woman's head in place.
When she felt Phoebe's hands in her hair Alynna moaned into the kiss, deepening the kiss, seeking entrance into Phoebe's mouth which was gladly granted. Tongues started to stroke against each other enjoying the feel and taste. When air became an issue the broke apart panting, looking into each other's eyes both blazing with desire.
Seeing the undisguised want, desire and love in Phoebe's beautiful green eyes Alynna couldn't hold back any longer, she had to tell the artist how she felt.
"I love you, Phoebe", Alynna whispered softly, stroking the younger woman's cheek with the back of her fingers.
"I love you too, Aly!" Phoebe leaned forward pressing her lips against the Admiral's thinner ones again, putting all the love and tenderness she felt for this woman into the kiss.
Before they became lost again, Phoebe rose, she held out her hand to Alynna who took it and followed her lover to a taxi that took them to the Ritz. They were silent again during the ride, only holding on to the other's hand with their fingers intertwined on Phoebe's lap.
Not letting go after exiting the taxi they got Phoebe's key from the reception. The elevator took them to the floor of Phoebe's suite; the way seemed to stretch endless until they finally reached the room. Opening the door Phoebe waited for Alynna to enter before she followed and closed the door to shut out the world.
Suddenly feeling nervous, Phoebe fidgeted with her dress not looking at Alynna when gentle fingers under her chin raised her head followed by warm lips on her own. Bringing her own hands around Alynna's neck Phoebe deepened the kiss playing with the hair at the base of Alynna's neck, all the while manoeuvring them towards the bedroom. Alynna let her lips wander from Phoebe's mouth to her jaw to her ear slowly kissing down her throat, causing the artist to moan in delight. Straining her neck to give Alynna better access Phoebe gently held the Admiral's head in place revelling in the feeling of those skilled lips, kissing and nipping.
The older woman's hand glided over perfectly smooth shoulders hooking one finger under the strap of the dress she pulled it down followed by warm lips kissing the skin and inhaling Phoebe's unique scent. Pulling down the other strap as well Alynna's mouth returned to the artist's throat descending to an enticing cleavage. Only to be stopped by soft hands that guided her back to full lips.
While they were kissing again Phoebe opened the Admiral's uniform tunic and shoved it down her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. Alynna's hands sought and found the zipper of Phoebe's dress, and slowly opened it before the dress followed the tunic to the floor. Stepping out of it Phoebe got rid of her shoes, leaving her only in her panties. Breaking their kiss the artist regarded the Admiral's overdressed state and immediately went to correct that. She unbuttoned Alynna's shirt and got rid of it, followed by her trousers, boots and bra. This left the older woman dressed in her panties and suddenly shy.
"I know my body isn't..." Alynna started only to be stopped by a kiss.
"Shut up and make love to me!"
"I will, darling, I will."
Alynna guided Phoebe to the bed and lay her down gently before she joined her on the soft mattress. Lying down beside her young lover, Alynna took her time showering her face with gentle kisses before she descended down her throat to the valley between her breasts. First she circled one nipple with her tongue before she took it in her mouth. She softly sucked and licked before she did the same with the other, all the while alternating between them.
Phoebe had her head thrown back, pressing it into the mattress, moaning and holding Alynna's head to her breasts delighting in the attention the other woman was lavishing on them. She whimpered at the loss when the skilled mouth left her breasts and started to trail kisses down her stomach. The Admiral's hands wandered down Phoebe's sides tenderly stroking the smooth skin. She gently nudged the artist's legs apart coming to lie between them when she kissed her skin right above the panties, before she turned to shapely thighs. Trailing her tongue down to Phoebe's knees and up again on the inside of her thighs made the younger woman shiver with pleasure.
Alynna could smell and see Phoebe's arousal for her silk panties were thoroughly soaked. Using both her hands to get rid of the garment, she threw it on the floor.
"You are so beautiful, my darling", Alynna whispered with awe looking down at her naked lover. Opening her eyes at the softly spoken words Phoebe smiled at her.
"Take me, love, make me yours!"
Kissing the younger woman with passion Alynna's hands caressed Phoebe's thighs nudging them further apart with her knee. Her mouth wandered down the naked body only to stop shortly over neatly trimmed pubic hair, putting a kiss on the short hair Alynna slowly kissed the insides of Phoebe's thighs, before she finally let her tongue trail over wet outer lips. Phoebe shuddered and put one hand on Alynna's head encouraging her gently to keep on going to where she needed her most.
Understanding her lover's need Alynna parted Phoebe's outer lips and licked with a slow stroke from Phoebe's opening to her sensitive nub. A loud moan escaped Phoebe's mouth, her body writhing under Alynna's. The Admiral took Phoebe's clitoris into her own mouth and started to suck on it while her fingers found Phoebe's opening, slowly she inserted two of them and started to move them in and out.
The sounds of pleasure coming from above her grew louder as she sucked and licked all the while moving her fingers. Phoebe felt the orgasm start to build while she rolled her hips to the rhythm of the thrusts.
Suddenly the body under hers tensed and Alynna felt Phoebe's walls clench around her fingers, without missing a beat she kept on sucking and thrusting, guiding her lover through a powerful orgasm. When Phoebe's body stilled she crawled up to lay next to her starting to withdraw her hand but was stopped by the younger woman.
"No, stay please", Phoebe whispered against Alynna's lips.
They kissed and cuddled, enjoying the afterglow for some time, before Phoebe shifted making Alynna gently withdraw her fingers. Feeling Phoebe's need to make love to her as well, Alynna turned on her back, bringing the younger woman with her.
"I want to make love to you, Aly."
"I'm all yours, darling. Do whatever you feel comfortable with, we have all the time in the world."
And taking her time Phoebe did. Kissing, touching, exploring the body of the other woman brought as much pleasure as it had brought to make love to the artist.
Given the sounds coming from her lover Phoebe knew she was doing it right and became more and more secure in her touches. She gave as good as she got and when Alynna screamed her name into the night Phoebe felt a sudden jolt of tenderness and pride at having the power to make this controlled woman let go.
She gathered Alynna in her arms and covered their sweating bodies with the comforter to ward off the chill of the room. Burying her head in her lover's shoulder the Admiral let herself be held. Soon enough tiredness overtook them and they both fell asleep with a content smile on their faces.
Waking up in each other's arms was even more bliss than falling asleep together. It had been years since the Admiral had shared a bed with somebody and she revelled in the feeling of Phoebe's naked body against her own. Their love making the night before had been gentle and soft, this morning it was passionate but equally tender. Between much kissing and napping they decided to finally get up and have some breakfast in one of the many cafés in the streets of Paris.
Freshly showered and dressed they left the hotel in search for a place to sit and eat. Holding hands and feeling very much in love they made their way through busy streets under the watchful eye of a malicious observer, waiting for the chance to take what he firmly believed was rightfully his.