Disclaimer: Paramount owns the Trek universe; I just like to visit now and
Note: This chapter refers to a couple of episodes; namely 'Manhunt' and 'The Face' of the Enemy. If it is to confusing let me know, oh heck let me know if it is not confusing.
Another Note: One of the short pieces in here is my first real attempt at humor so if it sucks at least I will still get a laugh, just at my expense.
Rated R- I think! (I am really bad at deciding what rating I should give a story.)
My Beloved Wife
They stood in the cool dim mausoleum encircling the glass coffin as if to protect the body of the woman that lies within it. The group represented the culmination of her ninety-two years of life, her friends, children, grandchildren, and her husband.
Will had known her for over seventy years. For seventy years she had been the better part of everything he was. For fifty of those years they had shared their lives together as husband and wife, and now she was gone, leaving behind her an empty pit of despair and loneliness. He walked through his own dark tunnel calling her name from deep inside himself, searching the place she held in his mind and his soul, and coming up empty. He barely felt the comforting hand Geordi placed on his shoulder, or his youngest daughter's muffled sobs against her husband's chest. All he saw was her shrouded body lying in the glass-like coffin, her face worn with laugh lines, her years showing in the thinness of her arms and sagging body. When he looked at her he did not see these things, he saw her with eyes clouded by memory and grief. To him she would always be the vivacious woman he had known years ago, the woman he gave his heart to in the jungles of Betazed.
"Daddy," his daughter Elizabeth said for the third time. Will finally looked up from his wife's casket and into her dark blue eyes. "We should go inside now. You haven't eaten in two days." The concern in her voice was so like her mother's. It only increased the empty feeling that sat in the pit of his stomach. Who would have thought emptiness could feel so heavy.
Will gathered himself enough to look at the faces around him. Each one was etched with their concern and grief. There was Beverly, who had come despite her one-hundred and three years, leaning on Wesley's arm for support. Geordi, Worf, Alexander, and even Guinan looking almost exactly as she did the last time Will had seen her. His children, Elizabeth, Jean-Luc, and Brianna, were there as well watching him to see what he would do. His four grandchildren were also watching closely, not sure of what was going on their young eyes absorbed everything.
"I'll be in soon," he said gently as he patted her arm to try to reassure her. She looked as if she wanted to protest, but thought better of it and led the group out of the mausoleum and toward the Troi mansion.
Only Worf remained. His back was ramrod straight, which was impressive considering his age; letting Will know he refused to go anywhere. "Really Worf, go back to the house. I'll be fine."
"She told me not to leave you alone." Will looked at the Klingon. Even in his nineties he was imposing, but he had always held a soft spot for Deanna since their short-lived relationship sixty years ago.
"Worf, I know she told you to keep an eye on me, but I'll be fine." Worf studied him looking for some sign that he was truly all right. Then he nodded curtly and followed the rest of group toward the house.
Will turned back to Deanna's casket and stepped closer. He placed his hand on the smooth cool surface and leaned over the casket to look more closely at her timeworn face. He caught his own reflection in the casket. His years showed in his deep wrinkled face and solid white hair. His tears began to flow causing his vision to blur and his reflection to mingle with her features until for a moment they were the same. Images of their life together flashed before his eyes. All the happiness and pain blurred together until the colors seeped into each other and ran gray.
"I'll take two Data," Deanna said as she tossed her card into the middle of the table.
"Two for the Counselor," the android replied as he handed her two new cards. "I am pleased that you joined us this evening, Counselor. I have been curious to see how a Betazed would perform in a poker game."
Will smiled at Deanna and spoke up before she went into a long-winded explanation of how her empathic abilities worked. "Actually the Counselor has 'turned off' her abilities for this evening. Can't have her walking out of here with all my winnings now can I?"
"I wouldn't be so sure of that if I were you Commander," Geordi said. "I'll take one Data."
Data handed Geordi his card and turned to Pulaski who was sitting on his left. "How many would you like Doctor?"
"None thank you."
"Now there's a confident smirk," Riker said with a note of challenge. Though this was only the second poker game they had ever played together a small rivalry between the Doctor and First officer was already brewing.
Pulaski raised her eyebrows and smiled innocently at Riker, "Why whatever are you talking about Commander?"
Will shook his head slowly then threw one card into the middle of the table, "One please."
"One for the Commander and the dealer takes two," Data picked up his new cards and began to inspect them. Will could not help but think that for an emotionless android he had a terrible poker face.
"So Deanna, did your Mother get on her way safely?" Pulaski asked. Riker was sitting right next to her and could hear the sigh she let out. Not that he blamed her, Lwaxana was an intimidating woman all by herself, let alone when she was in the Phase.
"Thankfully she left this morning, much to the Capitan's relief."
"Ah, but she didn't leave without getting the last word in." Will reminded her. "As I recall your mother always had a special talent for that."
"Yes, she most certainly does. I only hope it will be a while longer before she decides to return for a visit."
"I must say Counselor, I found your mother fascinating. I have studied the mating habits of several different species, but I find the Phase to be an interesting physiological response to reproductive needs."
"Oh, I agree Data." Riker said. He ignored the slight blush spreading across Deanna's features and decided a little good-natured ribbing was in order. "You know in about thirty more years you can see it again. That is when Deanna goes through it."
Deanna's blush turned into a look of outrage, and she smacked Will's arm hard enough to knock his elbow off the table. Geordi and Pulaski both hid their grins behind their hand, and Data cocked his head absorbing this new information.
"Interesting, and I can assume that your experience will be similar to your mother's?"
"Probably." Deanna replied as she shot Will a 'see what you started' look.
"Since I do not age, and will conceivably still be functioning in thirty years. I would be most interested in offering you my services in this matter. That is of course if you have not already found a mate. It would be an excellent opportunity for me to study humanoid sexuality close up."
Deanna almost spit her drink out on the table and began coughing. Will covered
his face with his hands, Geordi bit his lip, and Pulaski shook with the effort
of holding in her laughter. Data, oblivious to the humor, pushed on.
"I am programmed in multiple lovemaking techniques, and have been proven to be fully functional. I believe I am better equipped to handle the increase to your sex drive then any single human male would be. I think it would be a benefit to the both of us."
Deanna could take no more. She stood from her chair so abruptly she knocked it over. "I'll think about it." She threw over her shoulder as she bolted toward the door.
The door opened and she stepped through, breaking into hysterical giggles before the door had even slid shut. This set the other occupants in the room into tearful laughter. Pulaski put her head on the table to keep from looking the android in the eye.
"Have I said something funny?" Data asked.
Riker was wearing his best commanding officer face when he strode into sickbay looking for the ship's counselor. That façade fell as soon as he saw her sitting on the bio-bed looking as vulnerable as he had ever seen her. The Capitan was standing beside her and Riker caught the last part of what he was saying, " his death will not be in vain."
Will stood off to the side as he waited for the Capitan to finish speaking. It took every ounce of his Starfleet training not to take her into his arms and verify that she was there alive and well. He saw the Capitan place his hand on her shoulder trying to comfort her. Riker realized the Capitan had been as disturbed by Deanna's appearance on the Romulan ship as he had, but he kept the fear inside.
Picard removed his hand, straightened his jacket, and headed toward the door. He paused beside Will as he passed. "Keep an eye on her, Will." he said in a fatherly tone that spoke volumes about his concern. That coupled with the fact that he had used Riker's first name was not a good sign.
"I will, sir." Picard left sickbay and Will approached Deanna. She was still sitting on the edge of the bio-bed staring blankly at the floor. Her long, dark hair fell down her back. She wore a simple sickbay shift, but to Riker she had never looked more beautiful then at that moment. He slowly reached out and touched Deanna's elbow. She jumped and a yelp escaped her mouth. He had never seen Deanna startle so easily. Beverly, who was working on one of the men that had been rescued from the Romulan ship, shot him a look that reminded him of a mother lion protecting her cubs.
"Sorry," he said removing his hand from her arm. "I didn't mean to scare you."
She grabbed his retreating hand and intertwined her fingers in his. "It's all right." she replied.
He knew how much Deanna needed physical contact when she was in distress. It seemed to calm her and Will was more then happy to give her whatever she needed right now.
"Are you okay?" He asked after a few moments silence.
"That depends on your definition of okay." she said and smiled at her own halfhearted attempt at humor. "Beverly says I'm fine. I just need some sleep. She says I can leave whenever I want."
"Can I take you to your quarters?" He thought for a moment she might protest. She always hated appearing weak, but she was so tired she just nodded her head and slid off the bio-bed. She stumbled as she put her weight on her legs, but Will wrapped an arm around her waist to support her.
"More tired then I thought." she said a little embarrassed by her weakness. Will kept his arm where it was and smiled down at her.
"Don't worry about it. I was looking for an excuse to do this anyway." As usual, his sense of humor made her feel a little better, and he led her out of sickbay with his arm firmly around her waist.
They were quite all the way to her quarters. Riker could see the exhaustion written plainly on her exotic features and realized she must have gotten little sleep during her ordeal. He had so many questions he wanted to ask, but knew that pushing her would only make matters worse. He could wait until she was ready.
He led her into her quarters and sat her down on the couch before moving to the replicator. "Do you want something to eat?"
"Just a cup of tea please." she said softly.
"Valerian root tea, hot." he told the computer. After a moment, a cup of steaming liquid appeared on the platform. He turned back to Deanna, and saw her curled up, with her feet tucked underneath her, and her head resting on the small throw pillow deep in sleep.
He smiled, sat the cup down on the table, and walked over to the couch. He knelt beside her and watched her sleep. She looked so peaceful, but he knew how deceptive that was. Whatever had happened on that Romulan ship, however she had gotten there, he knew she had one hell of a story to tell. He gently placed the palm of his hand on her cheek, just wanting to touch her, wanting to revel in the warmth of her skin. He did not even want to think about how close he came to losing her today. He did not want to think about the fear that had squeezed his heart when he saw her on the bridge of that Romulan ship.
He scooped her up, carried her over to the bed. Then he laid her down gently. He covered her and brushed her hair back from her face. Then he stood to leave, but found her small hand had encircled his wrist.
"Please don't leave me." she whispered. "I don't want to be alone."
He crawled into bed beside her and kissed her on the top of the head. "I'm not going anywhere."
The aging Will Riker wiped the tears that were beginning to collect on his wife's casket with the sleeve of his shirt. 'That's the good thing about getting old.' he thought. 'It doesn't matter if you cry anymore.' He remembered that night after Deanna had returned from the Romulan ship. The days after that had been hard on her, and he had ended up spending more then one night holding her while she sobbed into his chest. There were many nights when she had done the same for him when the cosmos seemed to conspire against him. There was more. There was so much more to their lives together. Memories of the past flashed before him. Memories of Deanna and Worf's relationship, the Enterprise D crash landing into a planet with Deanna at the helm, and their renewed romance on the Ba'ku world.
The room was lit by dozens of candles casting a dim light on the clothes thrown haphazardly about the room, and on the two people who had been wearing the clothing moments before. Their bodies were intertwined, moving in a rhythm as old as the movements of the Galaxy and just as filled with mystery.
The pressure mounted between them and Deanna whispered between clenched teeth, "Don't stop " The rest of her gentle command became a throaty moan that was echoed by her partner moments later. Exhausted, Will collapsed on top of Deanna supporting most of his body weight on his elbows. After a few moments to catch his breath he rolled off her and pulled her next to him. She began idly running her hands through the soft curls on his chest.
Deanna's soft, musical voice cut through Will's drowsiness, "I think we should fight more often." Will could not see her smile, but he heard it.
"Do you now?" He opened one eye slightly to see the look of contentment on her beautiful face.
"Uh-huh." she replied. "In fact I think I can schedule you for a fight tomorrow afternoon. Of course I'd have to move a few appointments back for making-up."
"The afternoon is no good for me. I have a meeting with the Capitan. How about in the morning?"
"Can't, Beverly and I are having breakfast."
"I have an idea. Why don't we skip the actual fighting and you just greet me at the door every night in that lacy thing you were wearing earlier."
"I didn't think you noticed it considering you only actually saw it on me for a minute."
"Oh, I noticed."
"Besides that's my 'I'm sorry' lingerie. I have to be sorry for something to wear it."
Will caught her around the waist and pulled her on top of him. She squealed and playfully slapped his chest. "Well I guess you're right. We really do have to fight more often." He pulled her down so her body lay flush to his, and kissed her gently using his tongue to trace the outline of her full lips.
Those were the last coherent words spoken between them for the rest of the evening.
"May I have everyone's attention please?" Lwaxana said as she tapped her champagne glass with her fork, creating a high-pitched ring that made Will cringe. He looked at Deanna, who was sitting beside him, and smiled at the look of mortification on her face. The idle diner conversation slowed and then stopped altogether as their attention was drawn to the flamboyant woman at the head of the table.
"We are here today to celebrate the engagement of my precious daughter Deanna and Commander William Riker." Lwaxana began. "I would like to thank Jean-Luc for allowing us the use of his majestic ship to celebrate this special occasion." She raised her glass to the Capitan who sat as far away from her as possible without actually leaving the room. "Now I want to take this opportunity to say how happy I am the good Commander and my eternally stubborn daughter have finally decided to get married." she turned her attention to the couple sitting beside her. "I really don't know what took the two of you so long. Honestly, the thoughts you had about each other were nothing short of torrid."
"Mother, please!" Deanna pleaded while Will leaned forward and tried to hide his grin behind his hand.
"What Little One? I only speak the truth." she shrugged. "Anyway, a toast to the happy couple. May they enjoy all the best life has to offer." She took a sip of the bubbling champagne in her glass. "However," she said pinning Will with a withering look. "I expect grand-children within the year or you, William, will have a very angry mother-in-law."
Will paced the small room nervously as he counted the steps it took him to make it across the room hoping it would calm his nerves; twenty steps. The four other men sharing the room with him watched his nervous pacing with amusement. They had never seen their fellow officer look so agitated.
"Will, sit down. You're making me tired." Picard said. Riker smiled sheepishly and flopped down in a chair next to the Capitan. He fidgeted for a few moments and then was up pacing the length of the room again.
"This is most interesting." Data said. "You appear nervous yet I cannot see a reason for it. Are you experiencing what humans refer to as cold feet?"
"No yes no. Look Data. It's just a little nerve-racking that's all." he replied.
Picard and Geordi both chuckled at Riker. Even Worf, who was nursing a hangover that would have killed a lesser man, was enjoying his friend's discomfort. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were nervous about Deanna showing up." Geordi said.
"Being left at the alter. Hard to think of anything more embarrassing then that." Picard threw out, enjoying the opportunity to poke a little fun at his first officer.
"Thanks guys. It's nice to know I can rely on my friends for support." he retorted.
Just as Geordi was about to open his mouth to say more there was a gentle knock on the antiquated door, and Beverly's voice floated through. "Is it safe to come in?"
"Come on in Beverly." Picard said.
She walked inside and looked Will over. "Looks like you're just as nervous as the bride." She was unable to keep the amusement out of her voice.
"She's nervous?" Will winced at the sound of panic in his voice. 'Is she getting cold feet?' he thought.
Beverly placed a reassuring hand on his arm. "Don't worry about it. Everyone gets butterflies before their wedding day."
"Yeah, Commander. I'm sure she won't really bolt." Geordi said with as straight a face as he could manage. Will shot his friend a look that only made Geordi laugh harder. "Sorry," he said trying to swallow his chuckles.
"Is she okay?" he asked Beverly. "She's not having second thoughts, is she?"
"Are you kidding? She sent me here to make sure you weren't having second thoughts."
Riker visibly relaxed and managed a weak smile at Beverly. "She even gave me explicit instructions on what to do if you were having second thoughts." Beverly said. "First I was supposed to threaten you with the prospect of her Mother's fury, and if that didn't work I was given permission to stun you with a phaser and drag you're unconscious body to the chapel anyway." Will laughed and felt the tension easing from his muscles.
"At least she's keeping her sense of humor through all this." he said.
Beverly raised her eyebrows and pulled a small phaser from the pocket of her dress uniform. "She wasn't joking."
Will's reply was cut off by another knock and a young man stuck his head in the door. "It's time Commander."
Will was pulled from his thoughts by the ache forming in his lower back. He straightened with a groan and silently cursed his aging body. He knew he should go back to the house and face his family and friends, but something inside him cringed at the idea. He could not face their looks of pity and their attempts to draw him out of his darkness. He did not want to be cheered up. He did not want their pity. He wanted to be left alone to revel in his emptiness to explore the depth of his loneliness.
He lowered himself onto the cold stone floor of the mausoleum, even though he knew he would regret it later. He could not leave her alone. He could not leave her lying here in this dark place without him. He continued to stare at her face and think about their years together. After the wedding, so much had happened. Finding the B-4, meeting Shinzon, his violation of her, and Data's death. They had both cried for their lost friend, and it had taken them a longtime to get over what Shinzon had done to her, but they had. Their life aboard the Titan had been difficult at first. They had to find a balance between husband and wife to captain and counselor. Then their first child, Elizabeth, was born. Will had always thought Deanna would be the only women he would ever love on first sight, but Lizzie had proven him wrong.
It had been a long day filled with paperwork and diplomats. Now all Will wanted to do was get back to his quarters and spend some time with his wife and daughter. Elizabeth Ann Riker was only two weeks old and already had her father firmly wrapped around her tiny finger. It had been a difficult labor for Deanna. In fact, Will still cringed when he remembered the feel of her hand squeezing his and the sound of her cursing in the Betazoid language as well as Klingon and Standard. He never thought his demure wife could be capable of such language. She was not only capable, but some of the things she said in Klingon actually made him blush.
Will walked into their quarters and smiled at the sight before him. Deanna was lying on the couch with Elizabeth curled up on her chest. He stood there for a moment wanting to imprint the image in his mind. 'My family.' he thought. It was an odd feeling to be responsible for a new life. It was overwhelming at times and downright scary at others. As he stood there, Deanna began to stir. She opened her eyes, looked at him, and smiled.
"Hi." she whispered.
"Hi." He watched while Deanna stood up as slowly and carefully as she could and walked Elizabeth into her room. He followed her, and watched from the door as she laid the baby down in her crib, and began softly humming a lullaby. After she was sure the baby was asleep, she tiptoed out of the room and motioned for Will to follow her.
"How was my baby today?" He asked as he encircled his wife in his arms.
"Well she refused to sleep, kept spitting up, and cried for two solid hours. Other then that she was great." Deanna gave him a tired smile and freed herself from his embrace. "I desperately need a shower and something to eat. Why don't you get some dinner ready while I go get cleaned up?" She went into their bedroom and within a few moments, he heard the sonic shower.
He did mean to get dinner started, but somehow he found himself in his daughter's room instead, looking down at her while she slept. He marveled at her perfectly formed miniature features, her soft baby skin, and the curly dark hair on her head. He was so lost in wonder he did not notice Deanna enter the room until her arms snaked around his waist and gently squeezed him close to her. He turned around and gave her a peck on the forehead then resumed his watch over the tiny baby lying in the crib.
"She really is perfect isn't she?" Deanna whispered. Will nodded his agreement. "Let's go in the other room before we wake her up."
He allowed Deanna to lead him out of the nursery. Then they sat down on the couch, and she snuggled into the crook of his arm. "It's hard to believe isn't it?" she said breaking through his thoughts.
"You can say that again. I think I'm still in shock. I just can't believe that I'm now responsible for the life of another human being."
"Imzadi, you're responsible for other's lives all the time. You're the captain of a starship." She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a reassuring hug.
"I know, but it's different. My crew is here willingly. They knew the risk when they singed up for this mission, but Lizzie didn't have a choice. We brought her into this world and now we're responsible for everything. Her happiness, her health, her life." Will sighed, stood abruptly from the couch, and began to pace the floor. "What if I mess her up? I mean let's face it I didn't have a great role model in the parenting department. What if she ends up hating me as much as I hated my father? I don't think I could handle that Deanna. What do I do the first time she hurts herself? Or breaks the rules? Or God help me, falls in love?" He knew he was rambling, but could not stop the thoughts of the past few weeks from leaving his mouth. "What happens if the ship is threatened and I can't do my job because I'm distracted by my concern for her? Or what if "
Deanna stepped in front of him, stood on her tiptoes, and placed a deep kiss on his mouth effectively cutting off his tirade. His body reacted before his mind, as was the norm, and he pulled her closer to him and returned the kiss with equal passion.
Finally, he pushed her back gently and looked in her dark eyes. "Not that I'm complaining, but what the hell was that?"
"I love you so much," she pressed her head to his chest and hugged him tightly. "You are the most wonderful, caring, loving man I've ever known."
"Thanks." he said, confused over his wife's behavior.
She looked up at him. "It's because of these traits that you can do this, we can do this. You will know what to do when the time comes, and if you don't I will. We are a team now Imzadi, you and I. And I won't let you mess up, just like you won't let me mess up."
Her words were simple, but eased his concerns just like always. She was right. They were a team and they could do this together.
"I don't deserve you, you know that?" he said.
"I know, but I kind of like you so I think I'll keep you around."
"I can't believe her. Just who the hell does she think she is anyway?" Will watched his wife as she paced their quarters like a caged animal. Considering she was eight months pregnant, with twins, her stride was more like a penguin's waddle then any other animal. He took a deep breath and stepped into Deanna's path hoping to calm her down.
"It was just a misunderstanding. I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it." He could see by the look on her face that he was not helping matters.
"Didn't mean anything by it? She was hitting on you so hard she probably left bruises, and right there in front of me and the entire senior staff. That was a complete lack of respect. She knew you were my husband." Her voice rose to a shrill pitch, and Will winced. He knew how emotional Deanna could be when she was pregnant. While carrying their first child she cried at the drop of a hat, and screamed just as often.
"Deanna, Sorelians don't view marriage the same way humans do. They have an open society, just like Betazed. She probably thought what she was doing was completely acceptable."
"Oh please! The Sorelians have done enough business with the Federation to know what is acceptable and what is not. I think Ambassador Qulen was just being flat out rude." Deanna huffed.
Will realized he was getting nowhere fast so he decided to try a new tactic. He gently grabbed his wife's arm and pulled her into a loving embrace being careful not to press to hard on her round stomach. Because her face was pressed into his chest, he missed the look of fury that flashed in her dark eyes.
"Don't touch me!" she hissed while pushing him hard in the chest. "How dare you allow that woman to carry on with you like that, and then think you have the right to lay a finger on me?" Will could see the focus of Deanna's anger was now pointed with laser precision at him, and despite himself, he found his own frustration rising.
"I did not *allow* her to carry on that way. I was trying to be as tactful about the situation as possible. It is my job to be diplomatic you know."
"Oh you were diplomatic all right. How many times did you dance with her? I think you went above and beyond the call of duty this evening." she said as her voice dripping with bitterness. "I'd hate to see how far your diplomacy goes when I'm not around."
"That is enough!" he bellowed in a voice usually used for ensigns that have gotten out of line. Will never used this tone with her, and it froze her next remark in her throat. "I am trying to be patient, but you are seriously testing my limits right now." He said in a quite but still sharp voice. Then she did something so unexpected that Will felt his anger wash away. She burst into hysterical tears. Her tears always reduced him to an apologetic fool, and this time was no different. He gathered her back up in his arms and lowered the both of them on the couch. After a few moments her sobs subsided.
"I'm sorry " he started, but she interrupted his apology.
"No, I'm sorry. I overreacted. I saw you with her and I just lost it. I mean I know I've been impossible to live with lately. I guess I just let my own insecurities get the best of me." She paused and looked down at her hands. He knew she had more to say, so he sat quietly and let her find her words. "I just feel so unattractive, and undesirable. I saw this beautiful, intelligent women flirting with you and I couldn't read your emotions clearly, but it looked like you were enjoying yourself. I just couldn't handle it." Deanna's words poured out of her in one long breath and when she was done she sighed as if relieved she had gotten it off her chest. Will was stunned by his wife's outburst. He had no idea she was feeling so insecure.
"Oh sweetheart, no woman could ever be as beautiful to me as you are, especially now. For heavens sake, you're carrying my children. Our children. What could be more beautiful then that?"
Tears welled up in Deanna's eyes. 'Thank you Imzadi.' she sent him.
'I mean every word of it.'
Deanna brushed her lips against his in a soft and sensual kiss that caused his groin to tighten. "Besides," he said huskily, "for some reason I find you incredibly sexy when you're pregnant."
Deanna moved from his mouth to his ear and began tracing the outline with her tongue. "Really?" she said. Her breath caused tingles of anticipation to travel up his spine. Her fingers moved deftly against the closure of his dress uniform jacket allowing her free access to his chest. She ran her nails along his broad torso and over his sensitive nipples causing him to gasp.
"Deanna, we really should get back to the party." he said wishing like hell those words didn't have to come out of his mouth.
She ignored his pleading and her hands teased his arousal through the thin material of his uniform. "I think the party can survive without us for a few more minutes." Her hands found the clasp of his pants and in one quick movement; they laid in a puddle at his feet.
All his perfectly logical reasons for returning to the diplomatic function seemed asinine. His hands moved of their own accord to rid his wife of her clothing. Within moments, they stood bare flesh to bare flesh.
"You're going to be the death of me, you know that?" He said as he led her to their bed. "But I can think of worse ways to go."
"Daddy, you are so unfair." Brianna said in that petulant way only a fourteen-year-old girl could pull-off.
" Fine I'm unfair, but at least I'll have a daughter who's fully clothed." He replied in the calmest voice he could muster.
"I am fully clothed. There is nothing wrong with this outfit. Besides, Grandma says that only underdeveloped species are embarrassed by the humanoid form. She says that we should not be ashamed of our bodies or their inherent beauty." Brianna not only quoted her grandmother word for word, she even drew herself up into an unconscious imitation of Lwaxana's aristocratic manner.
"All right then, I'm unfair and underdeveloped. I'll live with it, but you young lady, are marching yourself back to you room and changing."
Brianna made a sound of disgust and stomped back into the bedroom she shared with her older sister, mumbling phrases that Will was sure he did not want to hear. He plopped down in a nearby chair with a frustrated sigh, and looked at his wife in a silent plea of support.
"That girl is definitely Daughter of the Fifth House material. I swear she is more and more like your mother everyday."
"William!" Deanna chastised.
Will ignored her and turned to Brianna's twin Jean-Luc. "Do you know the boy that's taking her to this party?"
"Yeah, his name is Marcus. He seems nice. I have a physics class with him. He's a smart guy, a little quite but friendly."
Will absorbed this information, trying to remember if he had ever seen the boy around the ship. "William, I don't think there's anything to worry about. It's just a party." Deanna was sitting on the couch next to him and reached out to pat his hand. "Besides both Jean-Luc and Lizzie will be there and I'm sure they will keep an eye on her."
"Yeah, Daddy. I'll make sure she stays out of trouble." Lizzie offered, though secretly she knew that would be a full-time job. Brianna had a way of finding trouble in the most innocent of places.
Will looked at his daughter and could not help but smile. She was just like her mother. She hated to see people upset and did everything in her power to alleviate it. Lizzie even looked like Deanna, with her dark curly hair and intense eyes so blue they appeared black at times. Jean-Luc and Brianna on the other hand tended to take after Will more. Jean-Luc was only fourteen, but already he was as tall as his mother was, and both of their eyes were the same sharp blue as Will's. However, in attitude, all his children were different. Lizzie was a sharp, thoughtful girl always eager to please. Jean-Luc was easygoing, and quick to crack a joke. Then there was Brianna, she had a unique flare for the dramatic.
Will was pulled from his thoughts by the sound of Brianna stomping back into the room. "Is this better?" She asked as she twirled around for inspection. While Will would have preferred a neck to ankle dress in plain brown, the light purple dress she was wearing was an improvement.
"Much better thank you." he said. "You look beautiful."
Brianna beamed at his compliment. "Thank you Daddy." She bent down and kissed his bearded cheek. "Now can we go?"
"I suppose so. Just remember be home by ten or I'm coming to get you myself. And stay out of the restricted areas this time Jean-Luc. I don't care how much Benny Phillips dares you. And Lizzie, try to relax and have some fun. Don't spend too much time dwelling on the meaning of life." he said jokingly.
The girls answered in unison "Yes Daddy." While Jean-Luc tossed out a crisp salute and a "Yes sir." Then they kissed both of their parents good-bye and practically ran out the door.
After they had left, Will leaned back in the chair and sighed deeply. "Sometimes I wonder what the fathers of the young women I used to date thought of me."
Deanna smiled and curled up on her husband's lap. "I'm sure they hated you."
"I'm sure they did." He kissed Deanna on the top of the head. "I wonder if Worf could send me a bat'leth. Just imagine the look on their faces when they come to pick up one of our daughters and I'm polishing a bat'leth the entire time." Will was seriously starting to enjoy this little fantasy and was trying to think of the best time to get a hold of Worf. Worf would appreciate his attempt to keep unworthy suitors away from his daughters.
However, Deanna ruined all his fun. "Don't even think about it."
He made it through though. There were many unworthy suitors, and broken curfews, but they had all survived the tough teenage years. Eventually, both Lizzie and Jean-Luc had decided to join the Academy and Brianna decided to attend the University of Betazed. Jean-Luc often teased his twin sister that she was getting a degree in throwing dinner parties. Lizzie became a member of the diplomatic corps, while Jean-Luc took up his father's banner and vowed to break Kirk's record. It was a record that still stood even after all these years.
Their lives had been full and rich, but there were tough times. Times that Will preferred not to linger on to much. He could feel the cold of the stone floor he was sitting on seeping into his bones and knew that he would be in pain later.
His mind flashed through the images that made up the stories of their lives. Together, he saw them standing proudly when first Lizzie, then Jean-Luc graduated from the academy. Shortly after that, they attended the funeral of their former Capitan and their son's namesake; Jean-Luc Picard. Will remembered how devastated Beverly was. How she cried on Deanna's shoulder that whole night. He pushed that thought from his head. It hit to close to his own pain, and went back to happier memories.
"What are you doing?" Will asked Deanna. She was covered in mud up to her elbows and a dark streak smeared across her forehead.
"I'm planting some flowers in the garden." she said as she wiped at her face, which only made the dirt smear more. "What's so funny?"
Will had to catch his breath before answering. "You look like you've been wrestling in the mud with a Ferengi. Besides, aren't you a little old to be kneeling in the dirt like that." he teased.
She shot him an irritated look. "Well, if I'm old what does the make you?"
She smiled and wiped a dirty finger along his nose. "What do you have planned for today?"
"I'm going fishing," he replied as he rubbed the dirt off his nose.
"Aren't you a little old to be sitting in a boat for hours on end talking to fish?"
"Ah, but I can get away with talking to fish now. People just chalk it up to senility and leave me alone. Want to come with me?"
"Oh, I don't think so. I hate those slimy things you use. What are they called?"
"Ugh, even the name sounds gross."
Will pulled his filthy wife close to him and whispered in her ear. "To tell you the truth, I don't really fish when I go out there on the boat."
"Nope. I read, and eventually I fall asleep."
"Are you serious?"
Deanna paused, thinking about the prospect of spending the day relaxing in a boat. "Okay, give me five minutes to get cleaned up." she said smiling like a kid who knows they are about to do something they should not.
"You have five minutes. The fish won't wait all-day."
No matter how hard Will fought it, his mind was going of its own accord. Now, there was no stopping the track, and Will was forced to follow as his memories drug him through what had come to be the worst months of his life.
"Daddy, she's dying." Lizzie said softly. She stood beside her siblings as they confronted their father. Will stood on the opposite side of the room trying to hold on to the pieces of his life that seemed to be scattering in the wind.
"She's not dying. She's just tired. She'll be fine."
"Doctor Tucker said "
"I don't give a shit what he said. He doesn't know what he's talking about."
Lizzie took a deep steadying breath. She was about to try again when Jean-Luc cut her off. "Damn! Dad, knock it off! You're not making this any easier on us. You think we like saying this? You think this is easy for us either? You're not the only one who loves her you know. So stop acting like you have a monopoly on grief, and let's discuss this like adults."
For a moment, Will was taken back to a time when Deanna had said almost those same words to him. When they had thought Capitan Picard had died. To have his son say it now caused a knife of pain to slice through his chest. 'It can't be?' He kept thinking. 'She's just tired. She'll be better soon.' However, he knew deep down it was a lie. He could feel it in his soul. He felt her slowly slipping away, like water dripping out of a cracked glass. That is what his life was now. Cracked, and when she left, it would be smashed and broken beyond repair.
"I think I need to call Beverly." was all he said, but his children knew. They could see the painful acceptance etched on his wrinkled face.
They had all come to say their good-byes. Everyone who Deanna had meant anything to stopped by at one point or another in the months that followed. Will watched the stream of well-wishers in a fog of his own grief. Eventually, as the time drew nearer the flow of casual acquaintances stopped and only her closest friends came.
Will would carry the look on Worf's face, after he said his last good-byes, for the rest of his days. He had never seen the Klingon look so lost, even though he kept his stoic face firmly in place. Will could see the pain in his eyes.
Beverly had been there through the whole thing. She took up residence in one of the guest bedrooms and spent every moment possible with Deanna. The children spent as much time as they could with their mother. They had children of their own to raise now.
In the end though, it had been Will that sat with her the last night. He listened to her pain induced ramblings, and gave her medicine just as Beverly had taught him. He knew the end was near. He knew that she would not live through the night. He felt it deep inside himself, in a way he could not explain, he just knew.
He crawled into the bed and held her frail body close to him. He held her while her soul left her body and he continued to hold her until the sun peeked in through their bedroom window and the birds began their morning song. 'This is it my first day in seventy years without her.' he thought. Then he cried, deep racking sobs that shook his entire frame. He was beyond caring that the others might hear, or someone might catch him being weak. He had no reason to be strong anymore. She was gone.
Will dried his tears on his sleeve and looked around him as if noticing where he was for the first time. The sun was setting outside and the mausoleum was growing darker. He stood up slowly, cursed the popping in his joints, and placed his hand on Deanna's casket.
"I've never said good-bye to you, and I'm not going to start now. I love you Imzadi, and I'll see you soon." He bent over and kissed the smooth casket. "Soon," he repeated, and headed toward the door.
As he stepped into the waning light his flustered daughter Lizzie greeted him. "Oh Dad, you scared the hell out of me! I was worried about you!" she admonished.
"Sorry sweetie. I just wanted to be alone." He took his daughter's arm as much for the comfort of her nearness as the support for his old body.
"It's all right Daddy." They walked in silence for a moment until Will stopped in his tracks and turned to his daughter.
"Is it wrong to want to let go?"
Lizzie swallowed the lump growing in her throat. Part of her wanted to scream 'Yes, it's wrong. I need you!', but she knew that was selfish of her. "I don't know, Daddy. I don't know."
Her father nodded. "I don't either, sweetie." They resumed their walk and just before reaching the rose garden that Deanna had planted a few years ago, he stopped his daughter a second time with a peculiar smile on his face.
"Did I ever tell you about the time your mother got drunk with the great Zefram Cochrane?"
Hope you enjoyed, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.