MESSAGES FROM THE SOUL
BY: ANN HOGGE
Standard Disclaimers apply: Paramount is Lord and Master of the Star Trek Universe. With the exception of a few characters, plot points, and an excerpt from Peter David's "Imzadi", all the characters are the sole property yada yada yada. All rights blah blah blah. I am not stealing, I am just borrowing.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the minister’s voice droned on as the mourners huddled around the frozen ground in which the bodies of William Thomas and Deanna Troi Riker were being interred.
Numbed by grief and the frigid Alaska winter, Sierra watched silently as her beloved parents were laid to rest. She leaned against the broad shoulder of her twin brother Harrison, drawing strength from him. She could not believe her wonderful parents were truly gone. Not even seeing the double casket lowered into the cold earth could make it real for her.
Once the casket was lowered into the ground, the friends and family of the Rikers’ began to move away, some fighting tears, others crying openly. Beverly Picard, one of the latter, made her way slowly to her Godchildren, her grief evident on her tear-streaked face.
Sierra scarcely noticed the people streaming around her. She had not moved an inch. She stood rigid as the caretakers began shoveling dirt over the casket. The sound of earth hitting wood pounded in her head like a drum. The slow tattoo ripped through her soul with every beat.
The now orphaned teenager threw her hands over her ears and closed her eyes tightly against the sound. Like a torrid river, the pain washed over her. Sierra began to scream as reality crashed around her, bringing with it a sorrow that was stronger than anything she had ever felt in her entire life.
"Noooooo," she screamed, tears clogging her throat so that the sound came out barely a whimper.
"Seri!" Harrison yelled. Sierra did not feel his arms wrap around her, nor did she hear the sound of Beverly's cry as the world went black around her.
Sierra awoke slowly. For one blissful moment she was unable to remember the events of the day. The all too brief seconds of oblivion were abruptly shattered when Sierra’s eyes met those of her brother. Sierra found herself lying on the couch in her living room. How had she gotten here? The last thing she remembered was standing at the gravesite, listening to the horrible sound…
Sierra moaned and tried to sit up. Instantly, her brother was beside her, helping her into a sitting position. “Seri, are you all right?” she heard in her head. Despite the pain, Sierra was comforted by the voice in her mind. Being telepathically linked to her sibling had always been, in Sierra’s opinion, the best thing about being one quarter Betazoid. Although, according to her mother, the link had more to do with being twins then being Betazoid.
“What happened?” She answered verbally.
The cushion shifted slightly as Beverly sat down beside Sierra, putting her arm around her shoulders. “You passed out, Darling. You should rest here for a while. This has all been too much for your body to take.”
Sierra could hear voices coming from the other room. She knew the house was filled with friends and well-wishers; it was her duty to attend to them. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to draw strength from deep within, just the way her mother had always taught her. She would not fall apart in front of half of Starfleet. She would wait until later, when she was alone.
Sierra shook her head, “No, Aunt Bev, I’ll be alright.”
For the next three hours, Sierra walked among the many, many people who came to pay their final respects to her parents. People from all walks of life. Humans, Betazoids, Vulcans, Bajorans, a few Klingons, and many other races filled the small house. Sierra was beginning to feel clausterphobic. As she went from one person to the next, mumbling thank you, and allowing herself to be patted and petted, she desperately wished everybody would just leave.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the last of the guest left. The only people that remained were her parents’ dearest friends. The former senior bridge crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Sierra stood at the front window, staring out at the endless blanket of white.
Feeling a light touch on her elbow, Sierra turned to meet the sad eyes of Geordi La Forge. Behind Geordi stood Beverly Picard and her sons Wesley Crusher and Benoit Picard. Also among the group was Data.
"Seri, I am so sorry for your loss," Geordi said quietly. "Will and Deanna were dear friends and will be sorely missed."
Harrison came up behind Sierra and placed his arm across her shoulders. She leaned into him, drawing strength from his gentle touch. "Thank you Uncle Geordi. We appreciate you coming. "
The group turned and moved to the living room, joining Worf, Alexander, and Jean-Luc Picard.
"What will you do now?" Wesley asked, sitting next to his stepfather.
Harrison spoke for the first time. "Seri and I will start the Academy next month, just as we planned. Until then, we will stay here and close up the house. Mom and Dad accumulated a lot of stuff in the fifteen years that they lived here."
Data, with his abundant curiosity that the years had not diminished, remarked, "I find it very peculiar that Deanna passed away just days after Will did. Although Will's heart problem was known, there was no indication of Deanna having the same condition. Yet, she died of heart failure, same as he."
Since the Riker twins were unable to answer, Beverly spoke past the apple sized lump in her throat. "None of us could fully explain or understand the incredible bond they shared. I truly believe that this bond had become so strong after twenty years of marriage that one could truly not exist with out the other."
Data nodded in understanding "So what you are saying, Doctor, is that..."
"Mama died of a broken heart," Sierra finished softly.
Hours later, Sierra closed the door behind them. With a sigh of relief she leaned against the door. She loved her parents' old friends dearly. The former crewmates had been like family to her and her brother throughout their lives. Sierra and Harrison both called Data and Geordi "Uncle", and Beverly and Jean-Luc Picard were their Godparents.
However, despite the closeness they all shared, she was glad they had gone back to their own homes, or temporary lodging, as the case may be. Sierra desperately needed some time to herself. Time to wrap herself up in her own emotions and allow them to flow freely.
"Seri?" She heard in her mind.
"I'm in the foyer, Harry." she sent back.
"I'm going up to bed. Are you going to be OK?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Don't stay up too late."
"I won't. Goodnight, little brother"
Sierra could feel his laughter. "Only by five minutes, Big sister"
Chuckling softly, Sierra walked up the long staircase. Her amusement abruptly ended as she reached the closed door of her parents' room. Knowing that she should wait until she was stronger, yet unable to turn away, she opened the door slowly.
Sierra entered the room silently, closing the door behind her. She had no idea what she was looking for, but she needed something, Anything that would help her to understand. She needed to understand the bond that was so strong, it made it impossible for her mother to live without her father.
Sierra wanted to understand the bond that took away both her beloved parents within one week of each other.
The spacious bedroom looked the same as it always had. Nothing was missing except the strong life forces that were uniquely Deanna and Will Riker. The same antique bedspread lay across the old-fashioned sleigh bed. Her mother's cosmetics still sat on the dresser.
Sierra opened the closet door. Pushing aside her mother's clothing, she knelt down and reached toward the back, pulling out the box she knew would be there.
Holding the box lovingly against her chest, Sierra climbed onto her parents bed. She had never inspected the contents of the box, but she knew it contained her mother's most prized possessions. Sitting in the center of the bed with her legs folded beneath her, Sierra uttered the word she knew would unlock the box. "Imzadi"
The container popped open, revealing the contents, on top of a stack of folded papers, lay a gauzy white headband. Sierra had heard the story of the first time her parents saw each other countless times. Fingering the headband lovingly, she set it aside. Reaching into the box, Sierra pulled out a stack of papers, wrapped in a red ribbon. She untied the ribbon and unfolded the first sheet, marveling at the feel of the outdated, and rare writing implement. Real paper was hardly ever used anymore, which made the contents of the box even more precious.
Fighting back tears, Sierra read the first page.
"I hold you close to me,
Feel the breath of you, and the wonder of you
And remember a time
But only as one would remember
A bleak and distant nightmare
And you shudder against me in your sleep
Do you share the memory with me of dark times past?
And you smile
Do you share the memory of things to come?
The future holds such promise
And just as I cannot imagine how I survived the past
I cannot imagine a future without You"
Sierra smiled, despite her sadness. She always knew her father had the heart of a poet.
She picked up the second sheet. Unfolding it, she began to read.
My Dearest Deanna,
Words could never describe the sorrow I feel at having hurt you. I cannot begin to explain what happened with Wendy. I cannot find words adequate to apologize or to make things right. My only hope is that you know that I never meant to do the things that I have done. I will never forgive myself for hurting you. However, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, if you can still love me, I will spend forever making it up to you. I am asking you now to spend your life with me. Please meet me on Risa and become my wife.
You are in my heart always,
It seems like I am always asking for your forgiveness. I know I have no right to ask now. Not after what I have done. It was inexcusable of me to leave you on Risa alone, without a word. However, I could not pass up the chance to be the First Officer of the USS Hood. Once the decision was made, there was no time to contact you. I am sorry. There just is not room in my life now for a wife. Please believe that I do love you, despite my actions. I hope the future will hold a place for us to be together.
William T. Riker
Sierra read the letter again in shock. She could not believe that her father had ever been that cruel. She unfolded the next letter, almost afraid of what she would find.
I never thought I would ever hear that word again. I never thought I would hear your voice in my mind again. When I saw you today, my heart leapt. How can I describe the feeling of having you near me again? Is it too late to start over? Have I hurt you so bad that you no longer trust in my love? Have I destroyed your love for me? Can we serve on the same ship and have the bond that we once shared?
With all my heart,
Sierra sighed. This letter must have been written soon after her father joined the crew of the USS Enterprise. Sierra knew from stories she had been told that her parents had decided to pursue only a professional relationship, despite the love that had never dimmed.
The next item in the stack was a data chip, like the ones used to record log entries. Sierra looked at it, slightly confused. Why would data chips be stacked neatly in with a bunch of letters? Only one way to find out, she decided.
Sierra got out of the bed and sat in front of the computer terminal on her mothers desk. She inserted the chip and rubbed her eyes wearily while she waited for it to load.
Personal Log: Stardate 41296.7 -First Officer William T. Riker.
Sierra’s eyes snapped open at the sound of her father’s voice.
The rest of the Senior Staff are having dinner and enjoying the festivities surrounding the upcoming nuptials of Counselor Deanna Troi and Wyatt Miller. I had to leave. I could not bring myself to sit and watch my Imzadi planning a life with another man. I know that it was a mutual decision to not resume our relationship. I know that the last few months have been difficult on both of us. Being so close physically, yet so far apart spiritually. Why then, can I not wish her happiness and be there to support her as a friend? And why do I feel like a spoiled child who has lost his favorite toy?
Favorite Toy? Sierra tried not to laugh. Her mother would have killed her father if he had ever treated her like that. And who is, or was, Wyatt Miller?
Sierra queued the next entry:
Personal Log: Stardate :43940.6 Counselor Deanna Troi
Will and I came close to making love tonight.
Sierra raised her eyebrows at that. Her interest was definitely piqued now.
I’m not sure how it happened. We were sitting in my quarters just enjoying each other’s company and the warm friendship we have developed over the past three years. We were talking and laughing. We were drinking synthehol and talking about our recent visit to Betazed, and our little adventure we shared with my mother. I could feel Will’s emotions. They were rather , ah, primitive. I knew he was thinking about that kiss we shared on Betazed, and about my less then dressed state when DaiMon Tog beamed me back into our cell. I must admit, my thoughts were running along the same lines. Then the most amazing thing happened. Will projected his thoughts into my mind. I do not think he even realized what he was doing. Will’s erotic thoughts warmed me all over. I could not help myself. I leaned over and kissed him. It had been so long since I kissed him. I mean really kissed him. He put his arms around me, and I was lost. We were lying on the couch entangled together before we came to our senses. Or rather he did. Will is the one who pulled away. I would have kept going. He was right though, we have come too far, become too good of friends to allow sex to change things. And change things it would. No matter how enjoyable making love to him would be, I cannot take the risk of losing my best friend. We are better off as friends then lovers. Or so we both keep telling ourselves.
Sierra shook her head in disbelief. She could not believe how stupid her parents were!
Anxious to hear more of their beloved voices, she queued the next entry:
Personal Log: Stardate 46920.7 First Officer William T. Riker
In the six years that Deanna and I have served together on this ship, we have both had other relationships, and we have become very close friends. I admit to feeling a small amount of jealousy in regards to Deanna’s other lovers, despite our mutual claims of “Just Friends”. I also admit to in a small way comparing anyone else I have been with to Deanna. They all come up short.
However, I have never regretted remaining platonic, and I have never begrudged Deanna her happiness. Until tonight. Tonight, I want to scream and rant, and throw her over my shoulder and carry her to bed. I want to force her into a commitment. I want to brand her with my kisses so that she will never again think of another man. I am willing to throw away the past six years and risk destroying our friendship. Because tonight, she is with him. Him being Thomas. My duplicate, my twin, the one left behind. I am ashamed to admit that I am insanely jealous of myself. And I am disgusted with myself. Will this other me have the courage to do what I never have? Will he say, “I love you, Imzadi, and nothing else matters”?
So remind me again why we are just friends?
Personal Log: Stardate 46923.8 Counselor Deanna Troi
Thomas is gone. And I must admit a very large part of me is relieved. It truly was wonderful being with him. To relive the passion I shared with my Imzadi. Nevertheless, I am glad he is gone. As much as I was completely in love with Lt. William Riker, if I am completely honest with myself, I could never be happy with him as he was then. Not after seeing the wonderful person he has become while aboard this Starship. I cannot love Thomas Riker, because he is not the Commander that I admire, the best friend I cherish, or the Imzadi my heart and soul cry out for. In short, he is not Will Riker.
So remind me again why we are just friends?
Sierra sighed again as the last entry faded away. Her Godparents had told her just how stubborn her parents had been in insisting that they maintain a professional relationship. Aunt Beverly had told her that everybody knew how they felt, nobody minded to senior officers being in love, and everybody thought they were fools for denying themselves.
Sierra settled back on to the bed, and picked up the next letter.
Now it is my turn to apologize to you. I am sorry for the ten long years we wasted being "Just friends" I am sorry for being so afraid to trust you again that I denied the bond we share. Now that we have reaffirmed our love, thanks to the Briar Patch, I realize that all the old arguments were pointless. Not being together did not diminish our link. We still thought of each other first. We still ached with loneliness. We feared for each other during dangerous missions and unconsciously protected each other. The fact that we were not involved directly did not change the fact that we were Imzadi. I would still have been devastated at losing you. I would not have been able to cope with losing the other half of my soul. All we succeeded in doing was deny ourselves the pleasure of a complete bond, a true relationship.
I feel complete now. I can feel you in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul. I know you can feel me too. I was not truly living until you came back into my life. Now I am whole.
I love you, my beloved Imzadi,
Sierra had never really understood the Imzadi bond. Her Grandmother had tried to explain it to her one time by pointing to Will and Deanna and saying, “Watch them together. See the way they stare at each other for a long time, lost in the moment? See the way they finish one anothers’ sentences? Remember what it is like to hear your brother or your mother’s voice in your head? Now imagine that voice is some one you are head over heels in love with. Now imagine if that voice stopped.”
Sierra tried to imagine it now. She could almost understand. She felt lost with out her mother’s voice. She would go crazy with out Harry’s. How would she feel losing a lover’s presence in her mind?
Suddenly a thought protruded into her mind. “I’d go crazy with out your voice too, Seri. If it is like this for us, how much more powerful was it for them?”
Sierra smiled, “Thanks Harry. Now go back to sleep.”
Sierra picked up the next letter.
I too am sorry for the missed years. However, thinking back I realize that it was probably for the best. When we first met, we were so young. How could we have been expected to understand that we were destined to be forever linked to a person we had just met? We were too young to deal with something that important. I for one had such big plans. Trust me, those plans did not included finding my soul mate and having her knock me for a loop! So maybe it was better that we remained "just friends" for so long. We got to know each other. Really know each other, inside and out. You went from being the young , extremely sexy girl who stole by heart to being the older , wiser, and even sexier best friend to whom I gladly handed my heart.
I am not afraid anymore, Dee. I am ready now to complete the bond. I like hearing your voice in my head. I like being able to feel your presence no matter how far apart we are.
Therefore, once again, I ask you. Will you be my wife?
Sierra smiled again. Now this was more like it. She had been told about the Briar Patch. She knew her parents had gotten married in a traditional Betazed ceremony less than a year later.
My Beautiful Imzadi,
I thought the happiest day of my life was the day you became my wife. Though that was a joyous occasion that will forever live in my heart, the happiness of that day cannot compare with the utter bliss of today. When Beverly placed our beautiful baby girl into my arms, I could barely breathe. Once again, a Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed had taken a firm grip on my heart. Then Bev handed me Harrison! Twins! Double blessed! Why didn't you tell me we were expecting two? Well, no matter. Thank you, my love , for the double miracle.
My Love, My Life, My Soul Forever Yours,
Sierra had to stop reading for a few minutes, while the tears flowed freely down her face. She had always been "Daddy's little girl." Her mother said that Will would sit for hours, just holding and staring into the face of his infant daughter. Not that he neglected Harrison, by no means; it is just that little girls are special.
Neither of the Riker twins ever doubted their parents love.
Sierra picked up the last folded piece of paper. She was mildly surprised to see that it was not as old as the others. In fact, it looked rather fresh.
When she opened the letter, she was double surprised to see that it was not addressed to either of her parents. The final letter was addressed to herself and her brother.
My precious children,
If you are reading this now, then I have passed on to be with your father. Please do not grieve too heavily. Undoubtedly, you have read the other letters in my box, so you understand how much we truly loved each other. I was not kidding when I said that I would be unable to exist without my Imzadi.
Do not get me wrong, if I had lost Will earlier in our life, if I had to go on for you kids, I would have. However, you are grown and ready to be on your own. I could never explain just how empty I feel without Will. We had a wonderful life together. I have grown so accustomed to feeling him inside my mind, that I feel broken without his presence.
I am writing this because I know that my time here grows short. I am not intending to take my own life; this is not a suicide note. I do not know how much time I have left, days, weeks, or months. But as I sit here, two days after my beloved's death, I know that it will not be long before my soul leaves to search for it's missing piece.
Never forget how happy we were. Never forget that we loved each other and the two of you with everything we had.
Goodbye my loves,
Deanna Troi Riker
Choking back sobs, Sierra clutched the paper to her chest. She lay down and curled herself into a fetal position, crying herself to sleep. Somewhere in the night, Sierra Deanna Riker found a small measure of peace as she heard the sounds of her parents' laughter echoing in the room. Finally, she understood. Two halves of a whole, two parts of a soul. Deanna and Will. Best friends, lovers, colleagues, parents, and most importantly, Imzadi. Sierra smiled in her sleep. "Rest well, my beloved parents,” she whispered in her mind. In the other room, Harrison also smiled. Rebeem.