Yea and verily, I say unto you: Paramount is demi-god of the Trek World...
and all the fanfic people are little minions, forced to hide underground with
their (brilliant?) works of art based on the terrific series. No original
episode has been copyright-infringed, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.... and
Paramount/Viacom can kiss my derry-aire....lol (sorry if it's spelled wrong,
but French was never my strong suit...)
The story is based on the song by Reba McEntire, "Forever Love."
When I heard
that song, I knew that I just HAD to write a Riker-Troi romance. It is set
right before the StarTrek-9 movie was even a twinkle in its creator's eye....
just assume that Star Trek: Insurrection never took place, and we'll be the
best of friends, ok? btw, i'm writing from experience here... lol Anyway, if
you don't like country, tough nuggies... it's not like I'm holding a classII
phaser to your left temple and forcing you to read it... Now, enough
chitchat... on with the song...
(very mild romantic angst gives the story its rating, along with mild
profanities and dramatic flashbacks. Anything I've left out, I'm sure Katie
Redshoes will inform you about...)
"Forever Love" by Reba McEntire
The first time I laid my eyes on you I knew,
We'd spend this life side by side.
I still feel the same, though you're so far away.
I swear that you'll always be mine,
I promise you.
Someday we'll be together,
I won't give up,
No matter what.
I'll be waiting for you,
Minutes and hours and years may go by,
But my heart knows nothing of time.
So don't cry, just keep me right there in your dreams,
And hold on to these words of mine:
I promise you.
Someday we'll be together,
I won't give up,
No matter what
I'll be waiting for you,
Love is a road to our destiny.
Nothing can change what is meant to be.
Oh, I won't give up,
No matter what.
I'll be waiting for you,
I'll be waiting for you
Synopsis: Will and Deanna were lovers, but for the past 13 years, they've
simply been good friends. But nobody knows the strain Will has put himself
through, caused by guilt of a relationship gone awry. Deanna soon discovers
that Will's mental health depends on the depth of her feelings for him....
**Do you remember what I taught you, Imzadi? Can you still sense my
Shock. Pure, unadulterated shock. Then loneliness. That heartbreaking,
world-ending loneliness. Then, full-circle, right back to shock. Pure,
terrifying shock. There was nothing like it in the universe, and it had him by
the proverbial balls. That gut-wrenching feeling had him, and it didn't look
like it was going to let him loose. He wanted the deck to open up and swallow
How could she be so damned calm about this? She just stood there, not
listening to Picard but appearing to, while she stared at him with those
luminescent dark eyes of hers. He knew she was probing his feelings, trying to
ascertain his level of shock. Hell, he doubted anyone needed to be an empath to
detect it, he was damned sure he wasn't hiding his consternation too well. He
looked over to Picard. The Enterprise captain seemed to be guessing that
something was afoot between his two new crewmembers, but didn't say anything to
them about it. For this, Riker was thankful.
"Have the two of you met before?" was all the older man said.
He could feel her laughter, clear as a bell, inside his head. Damn that woman,
she was laughing. She was obviously enjoying this, he thought. "We have, sir,"
he replied, trying to keep the sturdy dam that was holding back a flood of
memories in place.
"Excellent," Picard went on. "I consider it important that my key officers
know each others'...abilities." Riker looked to him askance. The captain knew
something was afoot. Just how much had she told him, anyhow?
Deanna Troi looked to the man standing between her and her former lover. "We
do, sir. We do." **Indeed...** she finished mentally. Riker looked at her
Did she know what she was doing to him? All he was aware of as he continued to
stare at her was that Picard and Troi were moving to the nearest turbolift, and
that he was plainly expected to follow. His life was sure to be plain hell from
this moment forward, because he had never been fully able to bury this remnant
of his past. And yet, here it was, right in front of him, reopening a fresh
wound just to watch it bleed. Then, he heard her voice, lilting into his mind,
as the doors to the turbocar slid home.
**I, too, could never say goodbye, Imzadi...**
**Oh, God,** he thought. His tour on the Enterprise, he was sure from that
point on, was bound to be a hell of a long one.<<
Riker woke up in a cold sweat. His sheets were drenched with perspiration,
he was breathing heavily. Another memory, another flashback. He'd not been able
to dodge them for the past thirteen years, it only made sense that he'd
encounter them here. But, why in hell couldn't he leave them behind? Insomnia
didn't become him, and he was grappling with emotional trauma daily now. Things
had been tough on the -D, but his life was downright impossible here on the -E.
He couldn't go to the ship's counselor because of the obvious reasons. So, here
he sat, in bed, with no way to fully deal with his past but to try and ignore
It didn't work. But then again, nothing ever did. Maybe he could go to Beverly
for a sedative that would induce a dreamless sleep. But Beverly and Deanna were
good friends. Good friends talk to one another about various things. He didn't
want to become one of the various topics in their friendly conversations during
Therefore, through sheer pride (and fright), he remained in his state of
insomnia. Forced to dwell on the past and what might have been. What should
have been. What he didn't do enough to prevent from happening in the first
place. What he gave up. And most of all, not what... but who was sleeping down
the corridor from him, driving him crazy on a nightly basis.
Or at least, he was under the impression that she was sleeping...
Deanna Troi paced the length of her bedroom. She too was battling insomnia.
One could guess from her expression which was winning. Someone was driving her
crazy. Someone who shouldn't be driving her *anywhere*, let alone insane. She
rubbed her temples. She hadn't felt this kind of headache since awakening from
her tequila-induced slumber, in a seedy bar, back in the year 2063. She stopped
pacing and sat on the edge of her bed, taking a moment to remember.
"Who is this jerk?" Zefram Cochrane slurred as he hurled a bottle
room, in Will Riker's general direction.
Deanna slowly shook her head, trying to clear the fuzz that seemed to have
invaded her brain. "Will Riker, meet Zefram Cochrane." She wanted to fall
asleep, without falling off her barstool, into the waiting arms of the lewd
She allowed herself a small smile as the shock errupted on Riker's face.
Confronted with one of his childhood heroes, the most historically represented
figure in Federation lore, Will was disturbed to discover that the man was no
more than a boozing womanizer. Even through her liquor-hazed senses, she could
easily detect the jealousy emanating from Riker as he noticed the moves
Cochrane was making on her. That was when he noticed he was projecting, erected
the shields around his mind, and was blocked off from her from that point on.<<
Deanna sighed, as she tried once more to read his thoughts. He had been the
only man she had ever formed that close a link with that she could read his
exact thoughts. Now, it was severed. He barely even spoke to her in the halls
now, except on the way to a staff meeting. Even then, it was none of the
comraderie she had come to expect from her closest and dearest companion, the
man to whom Beverly came a close second in terms of friendship.
She sighed. Her definition of how she felt about him had blurred over the
years. When they had first started serving on the Enterprise-D together, she
had been so hard and bitter from their experience those years ago. Then, as the
time she spent with him grew, so did her feelings for him. She had had to
constantly remind herself that a relationship while on the same ship could go
sour and ruin things for both of them. Then there had been that brief affair
Deanna paused from her musings of Will to turn her attention to the Klingon
officer. Poor Worf. He had gotten married to Jadzia Dax, and Alexander had
gotten a stepmother, last year. Just recently, the Enterprise had gotten word
that Worf was now a widow, Jadzia having been murdered by an insane Cardassian
named Dukat. The symbiont had been saved, of course, and had been transplanted
as soon as possible. The lucky Trill ensign was, ironically enough, a counselor
on Deep Space Nine now. Poor Worf was doing his best to avoid her, at his last
subspace transmission to Troi.
Troi sighed again.
The men her life. One of them was hurting and she couldn't help him. The other
was hurting too, but could heal on his own, through time. She couldn't help
Will. She knew he was hurting, but she didn't know how or why.
His thoughts were closed to her now, though she didn't know what she had done
to deserve this treatment. She could read very few emotions. The ones she was
able to detect were sadness, loneliness, and despair. She wanted to go to him,
but wasn't sure if that was the best thing. He had obviously locked her out of
his personal life, and she was at a loss as to what might have triggered such a
response from him.
She wondered if he was dreaming of her.
She was under the impression that he was sleeping at all.
Jean-Luc Picard tapped his fingers on the edge of his ready room desk. He
looked at the screen of his computer terminal, not happy with what he was
seeing. It was forty-five minutes before Will was due for the beginning of his
shift. Picard shouldn't have been in his ready room at all, it being that his
shift started three hours after Will's did. But Picard, too, was suffering a
sleepless night. He had explained to Data of his affliction when he arrived on
the bridge, and, after assuring the now-emotional android that he was not here
to relieve him of duty, he was allowed to proceed to the privacy of this room
without further inquiries from Data.
On the terminal, Picard saw data streaming by. He tapped the keyboard every so
often to pause the scrolling by of the text, and to read some of it. The text
contained the results of Riker's latest psychological examination. Picard and
the others had been pressured to undergo similar examinations, at the behest of
Starfleet Headquarters. HQ didn't want deranged heroes on their hands. Deanna
had had hers and had passed with flying colors. Picard had been pronounced
sound of mind and judgement, and hardly a word had been said of the fact that
he had committed a direct violation of orders by coming to the aid of Earth.
Worf was judged as best as the Federation could judge a warrior race, whose
thoughts were predominantly about the various ways of killing other living
things. Geordi was judged and given a clean psychological bill of health, as
were Beverly and her nurses. Reg Barclay had to spend two weeks in therapy,
recovering from a direct meeting with the Great Zefram Cochrane.
Will Riker... was shown to be hiding something from his evaluator. Will showed
all the signs of being depressed, having anxiety attacks, and a mind-meld had
encountered sophisticated Betazoid mental shields. There was obviously
something that he was hiding from his friends and superiors. The only
information they had been able to glean from Riker was that he had trouble
getting to sleep at nights.
Picard knew there was much more to it. Lately, Riker had been late for shifts,
meetings, and crew evaluation reports. He had grown more detached and
non-responsive as time went on. Jean-Luc had noticed this for himself, but had
grown more concerned when Beverly had brought it to his attention. He had
contacted Deanna about it. She had suggested a counseling session for Will.
Picard had relayed the request to Will Riker. The first officer had politely
Something was definitely amiss....
"Goodbye, Will." She walked out of the room without looking back.
Riker stood there, staring after her. "Deanna... don't leave things like this.
You know I can't say goodbye."
It didn't hit him then, that his future was walking out that door with her.
But he blamed himself for it every day of his life that would follow. It was
Riker bolted straight up in bed, once again from a nightmare of memories. He
couldn't take this anymore. The constant fear of the memories resurfacing in
his sleep, when he could find it. Sedatives didn't help, and his shift
performance had a lot left to be desired.
"Oh, shit..." He mumbled various profanities as he groggily went about getting
ready for a shift that, according to the chronometer, he was already twenty
minutes late for. "Oh man, what will Deanna think of me?" This thought brought
him to a screeching halt, in the midst of his preparations. "Deanna? Dee
couldn't give a rat's ass about me now. Not personally. Only as a friend." He
punched the bulkhead in front of him.
So hard that it shattered the outer bone of his hand.
He grabbed his hand, yelping in pain. "Damnit," he cursed, trying to comb his
hair and beard as best he could with his left hand. "It's my fault anyway," he
said aloud to himself. "If only I hadn't been such the hotshot, not willing to
settle down. Now, look at me. I've lost her. Just like I'm losing my mind." He
looked to the bulkhead that had inflicted so much damage to his hand, after his
unprovoked assault upon it. He was mildly pleased to see that it had sustained
a dent. A dent rimmed with blood. His blood.
He grabbed his uniform jacket with his left hand, and stormed out in his red
turtlneck and uniform pants. His shoestrings were untied, and he was attracting
curious stares from the crew as he passed through the halls. He entered a
turbocar. "Sickbay," he barked to the computer. The doors slid shut and the
'lift was off to its destination, with Riker trying to put on his jacket with
one hand, also trying not to aggravate the bleeding injury on his right hand.
He stormed through Sickbay's entrance, receiving a baffled stare from Nurse
Alyssa Ogawa. "Is there something wrong, Commander?"
"Yeah, there is," he barked. "Where's Beverly?"
"I'm right here," came the CMO's voice from across the room. She appeared two
seconds later, a newborn baby in her arms. "Here, Alyssa. Hold her for me?" The
nurse gratefully took the infant and disappeared from sight, leaving Bev with a
thoroughly disgruntled Will Riker. The doctor in her assessed him thoroughly,
from his bleeding hand, to his irritability. "Well, Will," she said, getting a
protoplaser from the medkit nearby. "What should we work on first? Your hand,
or your acrimonious attitude?"
Riker took a deep breath. "Just heal the hand, Beverly."
Beverly complied, giving him a look. "What did you do, Will? Get into a fight
with a bulkhead?"
"Basically," he mumbled, wincing as the protoplaser finished mending the bone
inside his hand. When she was done, he gave it a quick shake, although it was
still sore, he felt well enough to show for duty. "Thanks, Bev," he said under
his breath. He headed towards the corridor.
"Will?" Beverly called after him and he turned. She pointed at his feet. "Tie
your shoes, Commander."
"And in your belief, the commander is no longer a competent member of
crew?" Picard voiced the words, even as he felt his stomach churn at them. The
decision he was about to make would condemn his first officer to relief of
duty, as well as endless sessions with Counselor Troi until he had returned to
his old self again.
"That's right, Jean-Luc. Something's wrong with Will, but he won't let anyone
near him." Beverly looked as if her hands were tied.
"Deanna, can you..." he started.
Troi cut him off. "He won't let me read him." She paused, then began again.
"Captain, the bond that Will and I shared was so great that we've been able to
read each other's thoughts. Now, however, he's developed shields around his
mind. I can barely tell at times whether or not he's conscious." She shrugged
in frustration. "I don't know why he's blocking me. Perhaps he does, perhaps he
doesn't even know himself. I strongly suggest that Will come in for counseling.
Until then, he's no good to the crew."
Picard knew how hard those words must have been for Deanna to say. Will's
performance *had* been waning lately. The senior staff was lucky if he made an
appearance at all at times. Just then, the conference room doors opened, and in
stepped William T. Riker. He looked significantly worse for wear, his eyes were
bloodshot, and his uniform wasn't neat as it was when the *old* Will used to
wear it. This Will barely had the uniform jacket on, the turtleneck wasn't
tucked into his pants, and--according to Beverly-- his shoes *still* weren't
"Sorry, I guess I'm late, Captain," he mumbled as he took his customary chair.
"What did I miss?"
Deanna looked at him, not with pity, but with yearning. Oh, how she wished to
help this man that was her imzadi, her first love, her only soulmate in the
universe. She looked to Picard, who cleared his throat.
"Will, it has come to my attention that you require some, how shall I put
Will looked balefully at Deanna, who managed to keep her face a mask of
detachment. "This was your idea, wasn't it, Dee?"
She didn't answer.
The anger welled up inside him, though deep down he knew it had no logical
focal point. Nor was his intended target Captain Jean-Luc Picard. But that was
exactly the person he blew up at. "So, what are you saying? That I can't take
care of myself? I can take care of myself just fine!"
Beverly cleared her throat, and attempted to inconspicuously point out to
Riker the status that his shoelaces were in. He ignored her.
Deanna leaned forward, "That's not what we're saying, Will..."
He cut her off. "Oh, don't give me that, Deanna. You'd do anything to get me
on that counseling couch of yours and give me a good talking to." He rose,
rather rigidly, and almost knocking over his chair. "Well, you're not getting
into my head. Not like that!"
Picard had had enough. What was happening to his trusted first officer? "Will,
calm down," he began.
"But, Captain, don't you see what she's trying to do? Oh, we can't be any more
than friends, but we can be doctor-patient, now, can't we?" Will was now
bordering on hysteria. Beverly sat on the edge of her chair, preparing to
sedate him, if necessary.
Picard's nerves snapped. This was getting to be more than he could tolerate.
"Number One, it is in the opinions of both Counselor Troi and Doctor Crusher
that you be pronounced mentally incapable until you agree to seek help and
treatment." He lowered his voice to a dangerous level, knowing that he now had
Will's full attention. "And I am personally relieving you from duty until such
criteria are met. Do I make myself clear?"
"Mentally incapable?" Will barked. "On what grounds?"
Picard stood from his chair and slammed his palms on the conference table,
startling Troi. "On the grounds that you're standing here, half-dressed and
thirty minutes late for duty-- for the fifteenth day in a row-- and you're
standing here screeching like an idiot! Good God, look at yourself, man!" He
pulled Will's head down so that he was gazing into his reflection in the
obsidian surface of the table. "*Look* at yourself!" He released him, his tone
softening. "Where is my first officer? Where is my friend that I have known for
the past nine years, Will?" He walked to the viewports, turning his back to the
other three, including the disturbed Riker. "Get some help, Will. I need that
trusted Number One that I've had for so long. I need him back, now. You're no
good to anyone as you are."
Will looked to Deanna, and was consternated to see a tear rolling down her
cheek. But, in his present state of mind, his judgement was clouded. He lowered
his voice to bare inaudibility, and said determinedly, "Then I'm no good to
anyone." With that, he bolted out of the room.
Picard sighed deeply, turning to Troi. "Deanna, anything?"
"Captain, his mental shields are degrading, I can feel it. But that may be a
sign that his mind may be also." Deanna cried inwardly, in frustration and
sadness. What was she supposed to do?
She cried out with her mind, **Let me help you, Imzadi....**
Meanwhile, three decks below, Will Riker was in his quarters and about to
attempt the unthinkable...
Doctor Beverly Crusher turned to face the owner of the voice. Deanna stood
directly behind her, hands clasped in front of her. Bev thought she looked
particularly vulnerable. "Yeah, Dee?"
Troi gestured to the exit of the conference room. "Would you walk with me? I
need to talk to you."
A corner of the doctor's mouth quirked upward slightly. "Does the counselor
"Yes, she does," Deanna replied somberly.
"It was a joke, Deanna."
Beverly sighed, looking behing them. "Jean-Luc?"
Picard didn't answer immediately, preferring instead to stare out at the
stars. Only after Beverly's third summons of his name did he partially face
them. "Yes?" he asked quietly.
"Will you be all right?" Beverly's concern was evident in her voice, but
Picard waved her off gently.
"I'll be fine, Beverly. I just need to think, that's all."
Crusher smiled understandingly. "If you need to talk, I'll see if I can fit
Picard smiled wanely. "Thank you, Doctor." With that said, he turned back to
the stars. They seemed to be his only source of comfort nowadays.
Crusher sighed, turning to the conference room exit. "Deanna, let's talk."
"What I don't understand is why Will has been blocking me out. Why he
let me transmit my thoughts to him. It seems as if he's systematically shutting
me out of his life. I have to know why."
Beverly and Deanna were walking down the corridor of the Enterprise, heading
for the mess hall, where they were sure to run into Guinan. The ubiquitous bar
hostess was not about to let Ten-Forward's destruction separate her from the
legendary crew, her friends. She had signed aboard right after the recent
battle with the Borg, claiming she had waited until after the attack, so that
she might spend more leisurely time with the crew, rather than have to watch
any more death; she claimed to have known the attack was coming. For all the
Enterprise crew knew, she did.
Bev looked to Deanna. "Why don't you ask him, Dee?"
"I can't do that," Deanna shrugged helplessly. "What would I say? And what
about those random comments he makes in regards to our past?" It was becoming
more and more apparent to Beverly how upset this was making Deanna. "Bev, I'm
worried sick about him, but from the few emotions I can read from him, I know
he'll never believe me." She sighed. "Not in his present state of mind."
Beverly stopped in the middle of the corridor, which was fortunately empty--
she wouldn't have moved out of anyone's way, anyway. "Deanna, listen to me very
carefully: You asked if he was systematically shutting you out of his life?
Well, what if he is? And perhaps those little quips about your past romantic
life are his way of telling you he's no longer content with the way your life
is? Think, Dee. Men are typically emotional retards, you of all people should
know this. But not Will." Deanna remained silent, mulling this over, and Bev
forged ahead. "You are the empathic one. You have the degree in psychology. You
of all people on this ship should be the one diagnosing Will's psychological
state, not me. And I can't sense either of your thoughts, so what do you want
me to do?"
Deanna sighed. "But those comments about our relationship... He knows that
we're just friends. We're *imzadi*, but that doesn't mean we have to be
"No, you don't have to be, but do you even want to, Deanna? *That's* the
"The risk is much too great, Beverly. Will wouldn't be able to commit."
Beverly interrupted her friend. "Deanna, you must have been in a fog the past
nine years. I don't know if you've realized this or not, but our Commander
Riker has changed significantly during our years together. If he were still the
same Will that you knew on Betazed, would he have turned down all those
promotions to captaincy? From what you've told me of your past, you make it
sound as if Riker were a 'love 'em and leave em' kind of guy. Maybe you'd
better give him a closer look, now. He's not exactly the brash young man you
purported him to be when we first met."
Deanna was silent.
"Look me in the eyes and tell me that I'm wrong. In fact, look me in the eyes
and tell me truthfully that you *don't* love him back." Beverly's jaw was set.
Troi was not backing out of this one.
Troi looked up at her. "Beverly, I don't know anymore." Her eyes were tired.
Bloodshot, even. Her cheeks were pink and swollen from crying. "I know I love
him as a friend, and I know I'd never live with myself if anything ever
happened to..." her voice trailed off.
They had resumed walking a couple of minutes ago, so Beverly didn't
immediately notice that Deanna had stopped dead in her tracks until she was no
longer speaking. When Crusher turned around, Deanna was dead-white, looking as
if she had just seen an apparition.
"Dee? What is it?" Beverly shook her shoulders.
And, staring straight through Beverly as if she weren't there, Deanna
When the emergency medical team met Beverly and Deanna in Will Riker's
quarters, the sight that greeted them was shocking. Beverly got right down to
business, barking orders for hyposprays full of antidotes. She ordered a crying
Deanna Troi to continuously wave the tricorder over Riker's insensate form.
By the time they got the anti-grav up to his quarters and got him down to
Sickbay, the verdict was clear. Employing the use of synaptic charges and basic
CPR, Beverly tried desperately to save Will's life.
"Breathe Will! C'mon, goddamnit! You are not leaving this world until you've
had a full life and tons of babies... now breathe!"
After fifteen minutes, Beverly logged it in. Will was given a permanent wing
in Sickbay. The log read: Will Riker, living. Status: coma. Cause: attempted
suicide by poison.
Picard was paged from the conference room by an almost hysterical Deanna Troi.
The message was clear, from what he could make out through her tears. Come to
sickbay immediately, something's happened. When he entered Sickbay, he saw a
crowd of doctors and nurses around a biobed and Troi standing off to the side
in tears. He walked to her, placing his hands gently on her shaking shoulders,
in an effort to console her. He regarded such as being beyond his power to
grant, however, as he already knew the situation before Troi could explain.
When the activity around the biobed lessened somewhat, and one of the nurses
moved out of the way, Picard was able to tell for certain who the form on the
biobed belonged to: the bearded face belonged to William T. Riker. A couple of
minutes later, Picard watched as Beverly and the others breathed partial sighs
of relief. It was clear he wasn't out of the woods yet, the look in Beverly's
eyes told that there was something wrong that shouldn't have been. But Will was
That, in itself, was enough for Deanna, who exhaled loudly and broke into
tears of relief. The sheer trauma of the whole situation was too much for her
to handle in her typical stoicism. Beverly waited until Deanna's sobs had
subsided before motioning the two of them into her office. Upon the door
shutting behind them, Beverly walked to the window, where she had a clear view
of Riker's unmoving form.
"The commander," she began slowly, "is in a coma. But, I can't find a reason
for it. Medically, we've done all we can. The poison hadn't been in his system
too long, we were able to formulate an antidote quickly enough, thank God. So,
physically, he should be fine." She turned to face Deanna. "It is my belief
that Will doesn't *want* to come out of his coma."
Picard looked surprised. "Why would he not?"
Beverly shot him a look. "Well, he was willing enough to attempt suicide. It
only stands to reason that he wouldn't want to come back to the reality he's
known. Something in his life was so depressing for him, he obviously wasn't
able to handle it, or simply didn't want to." She turned to Deanna again. "Dee,
you're the counselor. You're also the person closest to him. You said yourself
that you two shared a telepathic link of some kind. Maybe you can help him work
through this. Bring him back?"
Deanna looked at her helplessly. "But, Beverly, he blocked his mind off from
me. He won't let me even *think* to him. It's like he doesn't want any part of
me. How am I supposed to help him if I can't *read* him?"
"You said earlier that his mental shields were degrading. Wouldn't they be
that much weaker when he's unconscious?" Crusher pressed.
Picard looked to Troi. "Counselor?"
A tear slid down her cheek as she responded. "I'll try my hardest, Captain."
And Picard knew that she meant it, not only as a professional counselor, but
from the bottom of her heart and her soul. From the well of the feelings left
over from her affair with Riker so many years ago. Feelings that still were
there, but she still had yet to realize they hadn't disappeared yet.
Later, after Sickbay was observing "ship's night", Deanna Troi could
sitting at Riker's side. She had long ago exhausted her supply of tears, and
now was silently sitting there, attempting to punch through the shields that
Riker had habitually erected around his mind. Sickbay was empty, save for the
two of them, and Bev in her office, and still Deanna couldn't concentrate hard
enough for her telepathic link with Riker to be at its peak. Beverly had been
right: Will's shields were in a weakened state, but they were still difficult
to get around.
*Will? Can you hear me?* she sent desperately. *If you can hear me, answer me,
please...* She wasn't sure, but if she had to describe the picture that formed
in their thoughts, she would have described it as a scared little man poking
his head out from a crack in a door, afraid to greet the outside world.
*Go away, Deanna.*
The supply of tears replenished itself as joy overwhelmed her. *Oh, Will.
Please, don't do this...*
*Do what, Dee?* His thoughts sounded inside her head with a sarcastic ring to
them. *Whether I choose to live or die, it is still my choice. Why should you
care, anyway?* Physically, Will Riker gave an infinitisimal shift on the
biobed, but still did not awaken.
*What?* Deanna mentally shook her head. *What would make you say that? I'm
your friend, Will. I've always been your friend....*
*And that's all you're going to stay. So, _friend_, what do you want to talk
*What do you mean, that's all I'm going to stay?*
*Oh, I don't know, Dee. Someday, I'd hoped you'd graduate from 'friend' to
become my mother,* came the biting retort. *Come on, Deanna. Whaddaya _think_ I
*Why do you have to be so cruel?* Deanna pleaded.
*_I'm_ being cruel? I've been asking, no, begging to start something up again
and...* his thoughts trailed off.
Deanna sensed that the "little old man" was about to duck back inside and lock
the door behind him. *Will, no! Wait!*
*Just leave me alone.*
And the door slammed shut.
When Beverly came by, expecting to see a solemn Troi, what she found was a
half-hysterical Deanna, weeping inconsolably.
>>"We will always be together, *Imzadi*. We will never be truly
be apart. But,
I believe, we can never truly be together, either. You will never be happy
settling down, Will. It is better this way."<<
Deanna awoke with a start. She looked around quickly, realizing that she had
fallen asleep in sickbay. Beverly was standing across the room from her, and
looked up, somehow sensing that Deanna had awakened. She walked over to her.
"Good morning, Dee," she said, pseudo-cheerfully. "Feeling better?"
"What am I doing here?" was the first question out of the tired counselor.
A look of confusion flitted across Bev's face. "You cried yourself to sleep on
one of the biobeds last night. I thought it best not to wake you, you looked
like you needed the rest."
Deanna checked the chronometer. "What time is it?" Her brain cleared, and the
numbers on the display began to make sense to her. "Oh, no. I'm late, aren't
Crusher smiled, shaking her head. "It's okay, Deanna. I told Jean-Luc you'd be
late for duty this morning. That attempt to reach Will last night must've
really taxed you."
Deanna buried her head in her hands, partially out of exhaustion, but mainly
out of sorrow. "It didn't end at being simply an *attempt*..." she muttered.
Crusher moved closer to Troi, stealing a glace at the unmoving form of Riker
next to them. "You mean you *talked* to him? Telepathically, I mean?"
"Only briefly." Deanna brought her face up to look at the man lying in front
of her. "He was very bitter. I can only speculate as to why."
Crusher remained silent for a few moments as Troi seemed to mentally puzzle
out what she could remember of her conversation with Commander Riker. "He made
several cruel remarks to me..."
"Cruel? Will?" Bev looked at her in skepticism and worry. "Deanna, how far
gone *is* he?"
Troi shook her head. "Pretty far, Beverly." Then she was silent for a moment.
Beverly stared at her until suddenly Deanna burst out crying. Crusher put her
hands on the other woman's shoulders to comfort her.
"Deanna, you're becoming stressed out over this. I know it hurts to see Will
like this, but..."
Deanna cut her off. "No, Beverly, you don't understand. I *know* why he's like
Bev looked at her silently while she waited for Deanna to finish. Finally,
"Well? Why has Will suddenly cut himself off from the outside world and tried
to end his own life?"
When Troi finally met Crusher's eyes, there was infinite sadness in her own.
"Because he loves me." She turned her gaze back to the still form of her former
lover, troubled friend.
The silence in Sickbay was punctuated only by Troi's moanings, "It's all my
"Because he loves her?" was Picard's reply.
Beverly looked at him in solemn confirmation. "That's what she said, Jean-Luc.
And from the start, you know that's what we already knew." She crawled across
their bed to get an extra pillow, the gold band on her left ring finger
catching the glimmer of the overhead lights. She looked at her fiancee. "You
and I both know how things with Will and Deanna have been since they met again.
Touch and go, at best. Especially where romance is concerned."
Jean-Luc shrugged. "But I was under the impression that they had remained good
friends all this time."
"We all had been. I doubt even Will and Deanna knew how their emotions were
resurfacing. Deanna's a trained Betazoid psychologist. She knows exactly how to
bury past emotions, even subconsciously if she has to."
Picard sighed. "But Will is another problem. He's loved her so much, he can't
hide it anymore, and when it looks like there isn't a snowball's chance in hell
of her reciprocating, he decides he can't handle it anymore."
Beverly nodded. "I just don't know how long Deanna can afford to remain
superficially convinced that she loves him only as a friend."
Picard smiled wanely. "Maybe she'll discover on her own." He gathered the
soon-to-be Beverly Picard in his arms. "Bev, love, I think I'll remove her from
active duty for a while. Just until Will comes back to us and is whole again.
Deanna too, for that matter. What do you think?"
"I think it's a good idea." She kissed him as she wriggled away and off the
bed, preparing to walk to the replicator. "I also think I'm hungry."
Picard smiled. "Good, replicate us both a snack, would you?"
"Who said anything about you?" she asked playfully.
Jean-Luc chuckled as she went to get the food. The humor behind their smiles
was thinning underneath the plain fact that they were scared of losing a
Beverly winced as her hind quarters wakened with the pins-and-needles
sensation every human hated. She and Jean-Luc had been sitting here talking for
gods-knew-how-long. They shared equal worries. They shared equal fears. They
shared equal sides of the bed.
He was unconscious, that much was a given. He was in a coma, that much was
also a given. What was *not* a given was the fact that he was *aware*. He
dreamed. He heard. He understood. He could not, nor had he the intention to,
He was dreaming now.
In his dream, she was with him, silent. She never spoke, but remained there
with her back to him. This Riker had already deciphered: Whenever the *real*
Deanna Troi communicated him from the outside, her dreamlike counterpart would
embody her thoughts.
Right now, Riker was pacing. "Well?" he snapped at her. "You don't have an
answer for *that* question, do you?" Riker had asked her why she could draw a
line between her heart and his for so long that her emotions for him would
atrophy. She had not responded. He didn't care. "Well? Answer me, damnit!" He
didn't expect a response.
But he got one.
She turned around to face him, tears in her eyes. "I'm here, Will. Why have
you been blocking me?"
Riker shook his head and laughed bitterly. "Blocking you? I've never blocked
you, Dee. You severed the link, not me."
She shook her head. "That's not what happened. I haven't been able to read you
at all lately, and you never answered my mental sends. The psyche evaluator
even said, and I concur, that you established Betazoid-type mental shields."
She smiled. "How you managed that is quite a mystery, considering you're not a
He looked at her deeply, before turning away. "Only when I'm with you."
Troi, who in reality was sitting across from Will's bed in sickbay gripping
his hand tightly, had received her notice from Picard that she was removed from
active duty until such time as Will was back and to his normal self. She had,
over the past fifteen hours since, examined her feelings for Will. She was in a
precarious position: She loved him, but she would not allow herself to create a
dependence on her love from within Riker. Neither could she withhold that love
from him, not letting him know how she felt before it was too late.
Such things must be dealt with delicately.
Meanwhile, Riker was walking away slowly. She propelled her dreamlike
counterpart forward to follow. "Will?"
"What is it, Dee?" He wasn't looking at her, but at a group of children
playing beneath them. They all bore the same resemblence to one another, as if
they were siblings, and both boys and girls were among the playful group.
Deanna and Will were standing on a grassy hill, overlooking a valley where the
children were playing. Looking at them, then at Will, then at herself (which
was odd, but possible, considering that she wasn't actually there, but reading
his thoughts and responding. She was simply a counterpart in his mind...), she
realized with a start that the children all bore striking characteristic
resemblances to herself and Will Riker. He sighed wistfully as he watched them
"Will, in your thoughts, those are *our* children, aren't they?"
He looked at her in resignation. "Yeah. They *would've* been." He continued
walking. "There won't be any now."
*How do you know, Will Riker?* she thought to herself.
He turned to face her. "I know because I've tried everything I know how to..."
he trailed off. He returned his direction, quickening the pace.
She hurried to keep up. She was startled when he replied to what she thought
was a private musing. Then she remembered what he had said a few short moments
ago. >>*Only when I'm with you...*<< "Will?"
His shoulders hunched, as if he had suffered severe blows and was now a
nervous creature. "What do you want, Deanna?"
"I want your attention."
He refused to turn to face her. "Well, looks like you've got it. I've got
nowhere else to go."
Troi wisely kept any retort out of her mind, lest he pick up on it. "Will,
look at me."
She walked over to him and placed her hands on his shoulders (all of this
inside his mind, of course), and turned him half-way around. "Because your eyes
are the windows to your soul. I want to see your soul, Will Riker."
For the first time since she had contacted him, he locked his eyes onto hers.
"Well?" he asked skeptically. "What do you see in my soul, Deanna?"
She waited a few seconds before saying gently, "Love."
Will's eyes brimmed with tears as he turned away. "I could have told you
She grabbed hold of his arm and held him from leaving. "Will, I wanted to know
it for myself."
Riker sighed. "Knowledge is power, Dee." He turned to her. "What are you going
to do with that power, is the question." He wrested his arm from her grip.
"What does anyone do with power, but corrupt it?" He turned from her. "How
could you know what I feel, truly?"
As he walked away, and the scene around their thoughts grew darker, she called
after him, "Will, am I really worth doing this to yourself over? Would you
really kill yourself, just because you're afraid I won't love you?"
He looked at her once before she was escorted out of his mind. "You shouldn't
even have to ask that," he said softly.
"Will!" she screamed into the darkness.
*I love you... I love you, Imzadi. Please believe me....*
Silence, then, *How can I?*
The anguish that filled Deanna's soul was almost too much to bear. *Oh, God,
Imzadi, what have I done? What have I done?...*
Deanna, in sickbay, looked around the room. Beverly had been sitting there
monitoring them with a medical tricorder. She was positively astounded. "Dee!"
Deanna Troi looked at her. "What, Beverly?"
"The readings on Will's synapses while you were talking to him! It's almost...
well their activity suggests everything about him that would make him
conscious. But he's not."
Troi smiled with no humor. "Yes, it's quite a puzzle, isn't it, Bev?" She
stood, stretching. "Well, I suppose, in a sense, Will *is* conscious... but he
also refuses to wake up."
Crusher knew what was coming. "It's not your fault, Deanna. You didn't know."
Troi whirled to face her, anger and self-recrimination evident in her voice.
"That's where you're wrong, Beverly. I *did* know. I've known for the past
*nine* years." Her voice softened and a solitary tear made its way down her
cheek. "I just didn't trust."
Crusher went to her, embracing her and lending her support as it was needed.
The counselor proceeded to tell Beverly as much of what she saw in Will's mind
as she could before breaking into tears.
"Oh, God, *Imzadi*..." Troi wailed. "What have I done?"
Inside the mind of Will Riker...
He heard every word of their conversation. He knew that they didn't think
he could hear them. But he could. In his mind, Troi's words still rang...
>>"Oh, God, *Imzadi*... What have I done?"<<
Insanely enough, he couldn't respond. For the one time in his life when he
felt able to tell Deanna what he really felt, he wasn't able to. It was then
that the folly of his actions hit him.
*I tried to take my own life.* He thought in amazement. *I alienated everyone
I ever loved and whoever loved me. And for what?*
The image in his mind of Deanna Troi, her beautiful face marred with
tear-tracks, crying over him, made him want to weep himself.
*Oh, God, Imzadi,* he thought. *I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.*
And, looking at what was holding him back from the world, he began to
Lwaxana Troi woke up rested. She had been tired of watching the holochannels
that Betazed had been broadcasting lately, and had retired early the previous
evening. She went downstairs, mentally summoning Mister Homn to prepare her a
pot of hot chocolate, a craving she and her daughters had picked up from her
late husband, Ian Troi.
Lwaxana sighed. She would never get over losing her oldest child. It was a
pain she would live through for the rest of her life. But she thanked Deanna
for helping her deal with the pain she had hidden in her soul for so long. Poor
Deanna, she only found out she had an older sister just prior to the
destruction of the Enterprise-D
Lwaxana realized with a start that she hadn't received her weekly letter from
Deanna for the past three weeks. It wasn't like Deanna to forget, no matter how
angry she might be at her mother. Lwaxana sat at the breakfast table and nodded
a thank you to Homn, who had placed her cup of chocolate in front of her as she
had sat down. Homn slowly walked off as Lwaxana took a sip of her hot chocolate
and checked her message terminal, hoping for a message from Deanna.
Worried, she reached out to Deanna with her mind. She wouldn't be able to read
her child's thoughts at such a great distance, but she would be able to sense
her state of mind. She persevered in searching for Deanna's emotions until she
finally found the tendrils of thought that were her daughter's mind.
There were moments of silence as Lwaxana read and analyzed her daughter's
emotions. Stress, despair, and anxiety. Love. Sadness. Then, she noticed
"Oh, My Little One!" she exclaimed aloud. Such a vocal outburst was unusual in
the house, and Mister Homn came quickly, to find Lwaxana standing at the
windows with tears in her eyes. Turning to Homn she thought cast to him.
**Pack us up quickly, Homn. Our baby's in trouble.**
Deanna woke up on a biobed in Sickbay, for the third morning in a row.
Beverly, for the third morning in a row, walked up to her with a faux chipper
attitude, telling her that--for the third morning in a row--she had cried
herself to sleep at Will's side. The only remark that Beverly made that
distinguished this morning from the past two was, "Oh, and did I mention that
your mother is coming here?"
Deanna Troi shot up into a sitting position. "What?"
Crusher looked at her quizzically. "Lwaxana Troi, Ambassador of Betazed,
Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed,
Daughter of the Fifth House, not to mention Your Mother, is coming here...."
Troi stood, stretched, and paced towards the bathroom. "Yippee."
Bev followed, puzzled by Deanna's nonplussed behavior. "Dee?"
"What?" Troi mumbled, splashing her face with cold water.
"I'd thought you'd at least be happy with the news that your mother is
traversing thirteen sectors just to come see you."
Deanna looked at her. "She's traversing thirteen sectors to see if I've gotten
Crusher crossed her arms in stubbornness. "Maybe not, Deanna. Has it ever
crossed your mind that maybe, for once in your life, Mom might actually be
worried about you?"
"Oh, it crossed my mind. I was always disappointed." Troi crossed to Will's
side again, sitting down on the biobed that she was beginning to call home.
Crusher brought her breakfast, and looked at Deanna. "Dee, baby, you haven't
left Sickbay for three days."
Troi looked up at her with tears rimming her eyes. "And I won't," she declared
defiantly, "until Will is safe and whole again. I won't leave him again."
With those words said, the discussion was over.
Inside the mind of Will Riker....
"And I won't until Will is safe and whole again. I won't leave him again."
Those words rang inside his head, all the while Riker was fighting his
damndest. It was hard. Whatever had a hold of him had had him in its grasp for
so long, it wasn't about to give up without a fight.
*Deanna, I love you...* he thought before plunging into the fray once more...
Deanna woke up with a start. The nightmares she had been having were growing
with intensity. It wouldn't be so bad if the memories weren't infused with the
dream. But, somehow, remembering made her nocturnal visions all the more
Looking around, the first thing she realized was that she was not in Sickbay.
For the first time in the last two and a half weeks, she had not awakened at
Will's side. She panicked.
Bolting upright in bed, she screamed. "Will!"
The lights blinked on and Lwaxana Troi hurried in, followed by a
sleepy-looking Mister Homn. Deanna was hysterical with worry, and so was only
mildly surprised to see her mother--and her manservant--in her quarters. Tears
streamed down her face and her breath came in short, abbreviated gasps.
Lwaxana sat beside her on the bed, rubbing her back gently and making
comforting noises. Homn stood off to the side, hands clasped in front of him.
"Shh, Little One," the older Troi murmured. "It's okay." With her mind, she
reached out to Deanna, giving her a lifesaver of calm in a tempestuous sea of
emotion. **It's all right, Little One, Will is in Sickbay.**
**Mother,** Deanna's mind whispered back, **I can't leave him. Take me back.**
Lwaxana's brow creased in worry. **Little One, you haven't left Sickbay since
**And I won't,** Deanna cut her off, **until he's awake and mentally whole
**Little One, if you continue to cry yourself to sleep in Sickbay, how long
can _you_ expect to remain mentally stable?**
Deanna's tears stopped, although her sniffling continued. **Fine, Mother.**
She set her jaw determinedly, and began to think in the shielded portion of her
mind that her mother couldn't reach. She rose from her bed and began to dress
herself. Being in a state of relief from duty, she chose off-duty civillian
clothes over her uniform.
She crossed to the lavatory to brush her teeth and hair, a puzzled Lwaxana
following her. After applying minimal make-up, Deanna put on her sued shoes and
crossed to her desktop terminal. All this without saying a word to Lwaxana.
Finally, her mother could stand it no more. **Little One, what _are_ you
**Calling Beverly, Mother.**
**Why are you calling the doctor? Are you ill?**
Troi smiled cynically at Lwaxana. **Always, Mother.**
**Not funny, Deanna.**
**The best I can do, Mother...** Troi punched the code that would connect her
terminal to the one in Captain Picard's quarters.
The screen blinked on and Jean-Luc Picard answered. "Counselor," he began with
his brow furrowed. "What can I do for you?"
"Captain, sorry to disturb you, but is Beverly there?"
"She just left for Sickbay, Deanna. I could page her to your quarters if you
"No, thank you, Captain. I'll meet her there. I need to talk to her about
Picard nodded understandingly. "Understood, Deanna. Keep me apprised of his
status, would you?"
Troi nodded sadly. "Of course, Jean-Luc."
The connection terminated and Troi silently left for Sickbay, with Lwaxana
scurrying to follow. Having not slept a wink all night, Lwaxana Troi was
already dressed and ready to follow Deanna around the ship if need be.
Beverly stared at Deanna blankly. "You want to what?"
Troi patiently crossed her arms across her chest and stared down at Will's
unmoving form. "You said yourself that he's in no immediate physical danger. He
only requires daily food injections, right? Well, I'm relieved from duty for
the time being... I could do it."
Crusher smiled. "So you want to install a biobed in your quarters?"
Troi shook her head. "His. I'm moving into his for now."
Lwaxana walked over to Deanna and took her by the shoulders. "Little One, this
is madness! You can't move out of your own quarters! Let Will stay in Sickbay!"
Troi shook her free and, in a fit of irrationalism, stormed to the other side
of Sickbay and back again. "No! I won't be separated from him again. You and
Homn can stay in my quarters. But I'm caring for Will myself."
Beverly shook her head. "This is crazy, Dee. But, you're right. It wouldn't
hurt him to be taken care of at home. Besides, he *is* taking up space." She
sighed, and Lwaxana looked positively mortified. "All I ask is that you let me
come by at least once daily to check up on him."
Deanna smiled. "Agreed."
Lwaxana threw up her hands and fled the room.
"I'll have Chief Mackenzy beam Will and the biobed to your quarters, and we'll
have a technician hook it up..." Bev was saying as the ambassador left.
Counselor Troi's personal log, stardate 504422.1....<sigh> Day three
of my new
nursing postion. For hours and hours on end, after I 'feed' him, I sit there,
trying to contact him again. My efforts have proven fruitless thus far, but I
will *not* give up hope! Will needs me, he's in trouble. I *will* get through
to him. I just don't know how long it will take.
I haven't been sleeping much. Somehow, the knowledge of our sleeping in such
close proximity to one another prevents me from attaining much rest. The first
day, I had to get Jean-Luc to help me re-encode Will's quarters to allow myself
access as well. Beverly and the technicians were here early in the morning,
installing power conduits in the walls so that they could install the biobed.
I'm glad Bev was there, because I must've looked a tearful wreck. She was there
to comfort me, as I must have needed to be.
The transporter chief beamed the biobed into Will's livingroom later that day.
Funny, I'm having trouble adjusting to thinking of Will's quarters as my own
now. I feel like such an intruder, like somehow Will's quarters are telling me
I don't belong here. Crazy, I know, but I can't seem to shake that feeling.
I've only brought a few of my personal belongings here, so far. My mother is
making this extremely difficult. She wants me to stay in my own quarters so she
can keep an eye on me. She loves me and means well, I know, but she just
doesn't understand how important it is that I do this.
The technicians and Beverly hooked up the biobed and the technicians left.
Beverly called down to Geordi, asking him to allocate more power to
Will's..my...*our* quarters. Geordi was such a dear about it. He oversaw all
the pwer flow changes himself, then he came up here to make sure the
technicians did a proper job of hooking up the medical bed.
He gave me a hug, too.
Then, the transporter chief beamed Will into these quarters onto *his* biobed.
Of course, the transport wasn't completely without a hitch. The last remaining
technician blushed before fainting dead away. Bev, to her credit, didn't
stare--much. Geordi, the poor man, cleared his throat and turned his back.
Beverly caught me staring at Will-- or rather, *where* I was staring-- and gave
me a teasing look of admonition. She then called down to the transporter room
and asked the man there to beam Will's *clothes* over as well.
I smiled, I remember. I smile as I remember the minor fiasco. I'm only
slightly ashamed at where my attention was drawn, but one could hardly blame
me. The sight of Will naked has-- so far-- only been in fifteen-year-old
memories. Shall I say, -ahem- his *physique*, among other things, has
definitely improved over the years. After they got him dressed, Bev showed me
how to feed him by injection, and various other things. After giving me a
comforting hug, she promised to stop by again the next day-- which was
yesterday, Day Two-- and left.
I replicated myself a meal and sat at Will's side all evening, trying to
contact him telepathically as well as speaking aloud to him. Sometimes, I
almost think I hear him answering me. I feel I may be losing my mind.
Yesterday was day two, and I hadn't slept at all the previous night. So, of
course, I was awakened at Will's side by a worried Jean-Luc and Beverly. I
explained to them that I simply slept in. Beverly looked the skeptic, but
thankfully, Jean-Luc turned her attention back to Will, lying patiently on his
I went to shower and dress and came back to the livingroom to find them still
there. They looked a little uncomfortable, but I quickly was told about their
concern over their impending widding. Jean-Luc and Bev had already decided to
postpone it until Will was awake, but were wondering about the fact that Will
was to be Jean-Luc's best man, just as I was to be Beverly's maid of honor. I
assured them that I was just as concerned as they--if not more so-- and that I
would find a way to right the situation. The left, I gave Will his food
injection, and talked to him awhile about things going on around the ship.
Last night I cried myself to sleep again.
Today is Day Three, and I've run out of tears. I just don't have the strength
to cry anymore. I have no regrets of taking this caretaker status, but I am
beginning to question my usefulness. At first, I had believed that if Will and
I were left alone together for a long enough time, I could establish a more
reliable mental link with him and bring him out of this. That ideal is fading
is the light of the harsh reality that Will might never come out of this.
Today I have decided to go to my mother for help. Being a more powerful
telepath, perhaps she can help me in creating that stronger communication with
Will. It is now time for his food injection.
End log and save.
Lwaxana rang the chime to Will Riker's quarters, where Deanna had now set
residence. The ambassador felt it ridiculous for Deanna to beputting herself
through such mental trauma. Will was important, no doubt about it, but Deanna's
mental health was more important to her.
**Maybe I'm just biased because I'm her mother,** she thought tiredly. There
was no response immediately following the activation of the door chime, so
Lwaxana rang again. Looking at Mister Homn, who merely shrugged, she thought-
**Little One, it's mother. Are you awake?**
**I'm in the shower, Mother.**
**Sweetheart, how am I supposed to get in?** Lwaxana asked, puzzled.
**Announce your presence to the computer, and the door system will let you
**I thought so.**
"Computer, this is Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi. Identify," Lwaxana stated in her
primmest of tones.
"Working... Identified: Troi, Ambassador Lwaxana."
The doors swished open, revealing a dark living room and a bed with glittering
lights. On the biobed, underneath a blanket, lay a nondescript figure. Lwaxana
could only guess it was Will. Entering, Lwaxana gestured for Mister Homn to
follow. "Computer," she called out, "lights." When the lights blinked on,
Lwaxana was horrified at what she saw.
The figure she had seen on the biobed had *not* been Will. It had been his
blankets rumpled up on the bed. Will was lying on the floor next to the bed,
eyes closed, mouth open in a silent cry for help. One arm was outstretched
before his head, in the direction of the lavatory, hand hardened in a clawlike
grip on the fibers of the carpet. The lights on the display attached to the
biobed were blinking furiously and a muted alarm had gone off. Will looked as
if he had been trying to crawl to Deanna.
Of course, in a sonic shower, Deanna would have been able to hear none of
this. Homn moved to pick up Will, but Lwaxana mentally stayed him, her hand
**Little One! Deanna! Come quickly!**
"Mother, I'm coming; what is..." Deanna had been coming through the bedroom
doors, a clean, new dress on, and the sight that greeted her eyes made the
remainder of her words catch in her throat. Dropping the glass of water she had
been holding in her hands, she ran to Will's side.
"Oh, my God! Will!" She placed her hands lightly on his shoulders, as if
afraid to touch him. "Dear God, Imzadi, speak to me! Imzadi?" She smacked the
comm badge she wore. "Beverly! Come to Will's quarters quick! It's an
"I'm on my way," came the clipped voice of the CMO. Lwaxana and Homn stood
back and watched as Deanna bent her head down to Will's, crying mixed tears of
relief and sorrow. Will had moved. The question was: in which direction?
Beverly shook her head in puzzlement. "I just don't understand any of
She turned to Troi and raised her eyebrows. "His brain activity, at the time he
decided to go for a walk, was off the charts. Now, it's relatively back to
normal." She smiled at Deanna reassuringly. "All signs say he's out of the
coma. Have you tried a mental scan, yet?"
Deanna shook her head. "Will's blocking me somehow. Perhaps I'm not strong
enough..." A light went on over her head. "Mother?" she said, turning to
Lwaxana, who had (suprisingly enough) remained silent up until now. "Mother,
A look of sympathy crossed Lwaxana's features. "Even *I* can't read someone
who's unconscious, Little One."
Deanna looked confused. "But, I was able to read Will while he was in a
Lwaxana smiled wanly. "There are various levels of consciousness and
unconsciousness, Deanna. What you would describe as a coma would probably be a
state in which the individual's-- in this case Will's-- mind or brain had been
traumatized to the degree where they became trapped inside their own
subconsciousness, either voluntarily or against their...will." She quirked a
corner of her mouth at the miniscule joke.
The younger Troi nodded slowly. "So," she said, "Will wasn't technically
asleep, but trapped inside a... a mental shell?"
"Or hiding, Deanna."
Deanna, looking down at her feet, nodded again. "Or hiding." Turning to
Beverly, who was scanning Will again, she asked, "Bev, can you stimulate him?"
Crusher gave her an amused look. "How did you have in mind? Remember, I'm
engaged to be married; how would Jean-Luc react?" While Deanna found herself
caught between laughter and indignation, Beverly consulted her tricorder.
"Besides, I don't need to; he's coming around on his own."
Sure enough, Will's eyelids fluttered open and he moaned groggily. Deanna
barreled past Beverly so fast she almost knocked the good doctor to the floor.
"Will!" She latched onto his hand closest to her, gripping it tightly.
As Will sat up slowly, he looked around in confusion. "Wh-where am I?" he
"You're in your quarters," Deanna managed to say calmly. "Welcome back,
He looked at her as if he'd never seen her before in his life. "Who's
'Imzadi'?" Smiling at her in a mildly flirtatious manner, he said three words
that caused Troi's world to cave in around her: "Have we met?"
Jean-Luc Picard could've sworn that he had heard a woman's scream, resonating
throughout the bridge. He looked around abruptly, then fixated his gaze on
Data. "Data, did you just hear anything remotely unusual?"
The android cocked his head in confusion. "Yes, sir. It sounded very much like
La Forge moved to the captain's chair from his engineering station. "I heard
it, too," he said softly.
Picard's worry got the better of him. "Counselor Troi," he shouted at the
overhead intercom system, "is everything all right down there?" There came no
response. "Computer, location of Counselor Troi?"
"Counselor Troi is in the quarters of Commander William T. Riker."
"Where is the Chief Medical Officer?"
"Doctor Beverly Howard Crusher is in the quarters of Commander William T.
"Computer, list any other conscious inhabitants of said quarters."
"Troi, Ambassador Lwaxana. Homn, Mister. Riker, Commander William T."
"What?" Picard breathed. "Computer, restate last conscious occupant."
"Riker, Commander William T."
Something in Picard's voice conveyed the urgency to La Forge and Data as he
said, "Geordi, Data; follow me please." Together, the walked to the turbolift
as fast as they could.
The trip three decks down seemed far longer to Picard than it actually was.
When the 'lift got to Riker's deck, the three practically ran down the hall,
almost knocking over a hapless ensign who almost didn't get out of the way in
time. Not bothering to ring the door chime, the men walked right in.
Inside, they were all astonished by the sight that greeted them: Lwaxana and
Will were locked in a staring contest, while Beverly and Mister Homn were
kneeling at the side of a fainted Deanna Troi. Beverly looked up and gave
Picard a worried expression, jerking her head in Will's direction. Picard went
to the ambassador's side.
"Lwaxana..." he started.
"Not now, Jean-Luc. His mental defenses are weakening."
Picard looked to Riker, who didn't appear to react to this. Finally, after a
long, agonizing moment, Lwaxana Troi turned to face Picard.
"Just as I had thought," she said simply. She looked at her daughter, who was
coming around. Then back to Picard, "Captain, I think it best that we-- with
the exception of Will and Deanna-- meet in Sickbay immediately. Or the
conference lounge, whichever you prefer. Meanwhile, my daughter and Riker can
introduce themselves." She walked out of Riker's quarters as Picard's mouth
"Introduce themselves to whom?" he asked, puzzled.
Beverly appeared behind him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "I'll explain in a
minute," she whispered in his ear, guiding him out. Geordi and Data followed,
as did Homn, leaving a saddened Deanna Troi alone with a forgetful Will Riker.
"So, you're saying he doesn't remember anything concerning Deanna at
Beverly nodded. "It's very localized, Jean-Luc. He recognized me at once, the
ship, asked about you, the others, but drew a blank when Deanna appeared to
him. She needs to work with him to discover exactly how localized his amnesia
"But she cannot do so telepathically," Lwaxana interrupted. "To do so would
doom Will's memory forever."
Picard's head snapped abruptly around to face her. "Explain," he said tersely.
Lwaxana Troi sighed and sat down on one of the biobeds. Gesturing vaguely
one hand, she said, "I saw inside his mind, Captain. As is with all amnesia
patients, a portion of his mind is battling for independence. I know not what
he was fighting in his mind; but if he loses, his memory will be lost forever.
That is why Deanna *must not* use telepathy when dealing with Will, otherwise
he will be distracted-- and a single distraction can cause the battle to be
La Forge looked puzzled. "Then how can we help him regain his memory?"
"We must join him and help him fight from without, not from within," was
Lwaxana's solemn reply.
Meanwhile, Deanna had moved from the chair Beverly had left her in to get
something in one of the back rooms, the bedroom. When she silently reappeared,
Will regarded her with open curiosity. She carried a small box that Lwaxana had
brought her from Betazed. Inside that box were remnants of Troi's memories,
from the time when she and Will had been together on Betazed, all those years
ago. No look of recognition crossed Will's features as she set the box down on
the coffee table.
After taking an obvious effort to compose herself, she calmly turned to look
at Will. "I apologize for the obvious confusion you must be feeling right now.
I'm not sure exactly how I would react if I awoke to find a strange man in my
Will smiled lightly. "That's all right, I've always wanted a roommate. I guess
I'm glad I finally got one that's a woman." He cleared his throat after a
moment, realizing that his attempt at a joke had gone flat. The silence was
uncomfortable. Finally, he hopped off the biobed and stuck out his hand. "I
heard them call you 'Deanna'. I'm Commander Willam Riker." He paused, then
smiled, mildly embarrassed. "But of course you already know that. Your name is?
Deanna took a deep breath. "Troi," she said, shaking the proffered hand.
"Counselor Deanna Troi."
Will looked puzzled. "Counselor to whom?"
"To the *Enterprise*," she said simply.
"We have a counselor?"
Deanna sighed, took him by the arm, leading him to the couch. "Will," she
said, sitting him down, then sitting next to him, "you have what is known as
selective amnesia. Do you understand what that is?"
Riker nodded. "It means that I am unable to recollect certain events based
around a certain theme in my life."
Troi nodded. "Such a memory loss could be caused by a traumatic event;
therefore--in order to avoid another trauma by having to deal with the event--
the mind shuts out or down all memory engrams that have to do with the person
or place that had to do with the traumatic event."
Riker smiled wryly. "And since I can't remember *you*, it stands to reason
that you were the cause of my traumatic event."
Troi lowered her eyes to the carpeting. "Much to my grief," she agreed. "But
we're going to get your memories back, Will. I need your help, all right?"
Will nodded; she took his arm again, guiding him to the bedroom with the
lavatory in it. She released him when they entered the bedroom--- which she had
been sleeping in lately--- and selected some off-duty fatigues for him to wear.
Turning to the door, she said over her shoulder, "You might want to freshen up.
Take a long, hot shower, and get dressed."
As she left, it was then that Will noticed that the only thing he was wearing
were silk underwear and a sickbay shift... which was, of course, open in the
back, and not nearly long enough. He sighed.
**Wonderful...** he thought, heading off to the shower.
As soon as Deanna heard the water running from the livingroom, she collapsed
onto the couch and cried until she fell asleep.
Riker tested his memory as best he could. For the life of him, he could not
remember a single thing having to do with the woman out in his livingroom. He
could remember the alphabet, he could remember the tours of duty he had on
every ship he'd ever served on. He could remember the names of all his friends.
He could remember the great Zefram Cochrane and the reports of the battle with
the Borg. What he could not remember was anything having to do with the woman
on the other side of those doors. This frustrated him to no end. He was damned
sure that she had played some sort of major role in his life. What it was, he
didn't know exactly.
Meanwhile, the ringing of the door chimes woke Deanna from a fitfully short
nap on the couch. Groggily, she got up, smoothed out her dress, and went to
answer the door. The panels parted to reveal two nervous-looking men, commonly
known as La Forge and Data. Gesturing them in silently, Deanna went to the
replicator and made a cup of tea for herself. Turning to them and sipping her
tea gingerly, she cocked an eyebrow.
"What can I do for you two?"
Geordi and Data looked at each other hesitantly, as if wondering how to breach
a delicate subject. La Forge turned to her. "We were just wondering, Counselor,
how you wanted to play this..."
"What Geordi means," Data interjected, becoming more human all the time, "is
that we wish to know the course of action you are going to take in recovering
the commander's memories."
Deanna sighed. "I don't know, you two. I just don't know."
"That makes four of us," came a bass voice from the rear of the livingroom.
"But I could sure go for a synthehol drink right about now. How about you,
Data watched Deanna visibly wince at the realization that Will was
uncomfortable addressing her personally. But, to her credit, she picked up
Riker's lead, nodding as if she had intended nothing else. "That sounds
wonderful, doesn't it Geordi?"
Geordi and Data played along, as only friends could. "Guinan hasn't seen the
commander for a while. She'll be wondering where her favorite poker player is,
don't you think?" Geordi offered with his most disarming smile.
Riker offered his arm to Troi, who dutifully took it, and led his friends out
of his quarters. "Well, God forbid we keep Guinan waiting much longer!" he
chuckled as they made their way to the reincarnation of the old *Enterprise*'s
Ten-Forward. They entered the mess hall, which had a small bar at the back of
the room, and planted themselves at a booth near the viewports.
Guinan, the ubiquitous El-Aurian hostess, appeared by their table immediately,
padd in hand. "What can I get for you all today? Commander Riker, good to see
you up and about again!"
Riker nodded slowly. "It's good to be up and about again..." His voice trailed
off as he looked at Deanna for a long moment, then looked back to Guinan
abruptly. "Two Skagway Slides and a Transporter," he said, reciting Geordi and
Data's --as well as his own-- favorite drinks from what was left of his memory.
He looked back to Deanna. "And you..."
"Srjula," she said shortly.
"And a 'srjula' for the lady."
Guinan seemed aware that something was amiss, but she gave Troi a look that
clearly said *later*. Deanna nodded. Aloud, Guinan said, "Andorian tea? That's
not your preferred usual, Counselor."
Troi shrugged. "I order to reflect the mood I'm in."
Guinan nodded. "I hear you. Drinks are on the way."
When the woman was gone, Riker turned to Deanna. "What about Andorian tea
reflects the mood you're in?"
Troi remained silent and Geordi caught the commander's eye. Shaking his head
inconspicuously, Geordi ended that branch of the conversation. However, fairly
new still to the inane understandings of human nature, Data was determined to
make yet another *faux pas*.
Cocking his head like a sparrow not sensing the ever-present cat, the android
looked at Counselor Troi, who shifted slightly under the scrutiny. "Over the
past three-hundred years, Andorian tea has been regarded as bitter, tart,
potent, unattainable, rich, tasteless, and remedial; the Andorians, of course,
have regarded it widely as nerve-calming and therapeutic..."
"Thank you, Data." Deanna was sure that if looks could graphically maim and
kill, Data would have been no more than charred body parts, strewn along all 24
"But, I am curious as to which feeling you are using these regards as,
metaphorically, in order to describe herself," Data forged on.
Deanna silently wondered how Data's head would look, mounted above her
Trying to make light of a sticky situation that Data had, once again, helped
Deanna find her way into, Geordi looked at Riker, then Data, squarely. "Well, I
sure wouldn't call the good counselor a tart. Rich is also out of the question,
as monetary gain has been equalized for at least two centuries," he laughed.
"And I definitely wouldn't say Counselor Troi is tasteless, she has excellent
taste in style," Riker picked up, smiling. "However, I find her presence
nerve-calming, and extremely remedial. Therapeutic, even."
Data, unaware that he had gotten them into a mess of polite extrications and
veiled meanings, blindly perpetuated the conversation. "But is the counselor
potent, unattainable, or bitter?"
Geordi and Riker exchanged glances, while Deanna silently wished to send her
android companion crashing through the nearest bulkhead. Riker cleared his
throat and raised his eyebrows. "Given my lack of memory, Data, you'd have to
tell me about that. I honestly don't remember much concerning the good
Data nodded. "Ah, I am sorry, Commander."
Geordi couldn't resist turning the last table on Deanna. "What does Andorian
tea represent to you, Counselor?"
The daggers that shot out of Troi's eyes were almost tangible. Then, composing
herself just as the drinks arrived, she said, "Comfort. I regard it as I would
any other tea. It represents comfort and hope and sympathy."
Guinan smiled. "Nice definition, Deanna. I would have said the same thing."
Giving the younger woman a knowing glance, she moved off to another table.
Geordi watched her escape, envying her ability to leave. Sipping his Skagway
Slide, he allowed his gaze to wander over the room. After a few faces passed
under his gaze, his focus rested on a dark-skinned female sitting across the
room from him. And she was *smiling* at him.
As the others prattled on and on about little things, like how long it had
been since their last shore leave, Lwaxana Troi breezed throught the entrance
of Ten-Forward. Seeing his window of escape at hand, Geordi stood, sipped the
last of his drink, and nodded to his three companions. "Commander, Counselor,
Data. I've gotta get going. I wanna get to bed and get some sleep."
He turned, having said that, and moved in the direction of the young woman who
had been meeting his gaze.
Commanders Riker and Data followed his movements visually, smirking as Geordi
offered his arm to the young lady and she took it. Data cocked his head,
feeling slightly envious at Geordi's narrow escape of Lwaxana Troi. The
Betazoid ambassador quickly found them and was soon a foot from their table.
"Hello, Lit--" Her voice trailed off as she received a mental warning from
Deanna, reversing gears. "Hello, Deanna."
Deanna looked utterly composed. "Hello, Mother."
Lwaxana looked innocently at the chair that had been vacated by La Forge not
too long ago. "May I join you, or is this seat taken?"
The younger Troi smiled politely. "Geordi went to bed, he needed his sleep."
Data gave Deanna a patronizing look. "Counselor, Geordi may have gone to bed,
but I seriously doubt that he will get any sleep tonight."
Riker, Data, and Lwaxana proceeded to laugh heartily as a puzzled Deanna
watched La Forge leave with a woman on his arm.
When they returned to Riker's quarters, there were a couple of moments of
uncomfortable silence between them. Nervous clearing of throats had now become
common place. Deanna and Will, just stood there looking into one another's
eyes, wondering what the other was thinking. Lwaxana had been convinced to take
Data to the holodeck, where the anxious android was hoping to coerce her into
participating in a recreation of Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, Will and Deanna
were alone together.
This put them in a sticky situation. Before they had returned to his quarters,
Deanna had tried to make preparations to move back into her own. The computer
had primly stated, in no uncertain terms, that the quarters she had entered
were no longer her own, but were general access guest quarters, presently
reserved for Lwaxana Troi and company. After inquiring as to who made the
transfer of ownership of her home, Deanna deduced that the captain and his
fiancee were the ones responsible. **I'll make sure they have a wedding they
won't forget....** she thought darkly.
Will knew her predicament almost as well as she did. While they had been
walking from the new Ten-Forward, Deanna had briefly outlined their past
together, up until the coma. Any questions he had asked, she had answered, some
more reluctantly than others. Basically, he understood that he and the
professional counselor in front of him had had a strained relationship at best,
usually--especially throughout the latter years--they had remained the best of
friends. Secretly, he wondered to himself what he had done to ruin a romance
with the beautiful woman he was about to share quarters with.
Peculiarly enough, the word she had told him about...*imzadi*... *that* rang a
bell with him. He didn't quite fully understand the meaning of the word still,
but he knew that it was a word that he and Deanna had often ascribed to one
another. She had described it only as, "a word that comes from my Betazoid
heritage, and a word that you and I know...knew together."
Deanna seemed tired, she dropped on the couch. Gesturing to the biobed, she
smiled. "I suppose you won't be needing *this* anymore...."
He moved to sit beside her. "No, but you might want to keep it around... for
Troi looked at him, barely concealed fear in her eyes. "Please, Will. Don't
scare me anymore than I already have been. I don't think I could take another
coma, especially not if it was you..."
Will made soft comforting noises, gathering her hands up in his. "Shh. It's
all right. I don't intend to become comatose again. I would never put you
through that for me again."
Sadness and anger hardened her gaze as she seemed about to say something, but
evidently thought twice about it. Instead, gently removing her hands from his,
she stood. Going to the replicator, she ordered up a hot chocolate.
**That's right....** he thought to himself in shock. **Deanna is a chocolate
Deanna didn't take notice of his inward surprise; instead she took a gulp of
hot chocolate and looked at him, then toward the two bedrooms. "I don't quite
know why you asked for your quarters to have two bedrooms, but there they are.
I've moved my belongings out of yours, which I have been occupying, and into
the 'guest' bedroom.
Since Jean-Luc and Beverly obviously went to great lengths to make sure my
quarters were non-existent, we are forced roommates."
There was something in Will that knew *exactly* why there had been two
bedrooms installed... but, once again, it was just outside of his grasp.
He looked at her sadly, with tears welling up in his eyes. "I wish I could
Deanna obviously felt remorseful for the harsh words that had come galloping
from her mouth. She crossed to him, placing a hand on his bearded face. "I'm
sorry, Will. I am truly sorry, I didn't mean the things I said. Forgive me?"
Will shook his head. "Not unless you forgive me. I've obviously hurt you
somehow, and I ruined the life we might have had." Memories were coming back
for him, a drop of rain at a time, pooling up in his mind. But, of course, for
some reason Deanna couldn't sense this.
"Will, it wasn't your fault."
"Yes, it was. It had to have been."
"Well, it wasn't, and that's the end of it. Understood?" Deanna's tone left no
room in Will for argument. "We'll discuss this tomorrow after the wedding."
Will was slightly puzzled. "Wedding?"
"Yes, wedding. Remember? Jean-Luc and Beverly are *finally* getting married
tomorrow. He made the announcement while we were walking."
Will remembered. "Ah, I recall it now. But, Dee, I don't have anything to
Deanna had stiffened. "What?" she asked, her face blanched. "What did you
Confused, Will repeated, "I don't have anything to wear..."
"No! Before that!"
Will thought. "Dee?" As she stiffened again, he thought he had crossed some
invisible barrier. "I'm sorry, I've obviously offended you. I'll go to bed
now..." He moved to leave.
She caught his arm as he exited the room, halting him for a second. "No, Will!
You didn't offend me. You've made me very happy; you're making tangible
Will looked surprised. "How do you figure?"
"You haven't called me 'Dee' in ages!" Tears of joy spilled from her eyes.
Will, still a bit confused, only nodded. "All right then, Dee. I'm going to
bed, all right? I need to be fresh for the wedding..."
Troi got a hold of herself, pushing him through the doorway to his bedroom.
"Of course, go to sleep! Get some sleep!" The doors closed behind her as she
ran to her own bedroom.
Will, undressing for bed, had only one thought about the woman sharing
quarters with him:
**That is one _weird_ lady...**
Meanwhile, as Will and Deanna slept....
The battle was won, the enemy vanquished, and the victor dragging himself
the battlefield. He had just enough strength to make it home...
He was halfway home...
He was home....
God, it was good to be home....
Opening the door, he saw the lights were out. There was nobody home...
**The victor couldn't see, there were no lights in his home that were on.
stumbled around in the dark, searching for something that would trigger the
lights and let him see what had been done to his home while he had been away at
battle. While he was moving from one corner of his home to the other, he
tripped over a figure lying on the ground. The figure looked up at him,
blinking through bleary eyes.
"I was wondering when you were going to come back." The figure smiled wryly.
"It's been hell on earth trying to figure out how to run things without you..."
"What happened? I mean, I *know* what happened, but I mean since I've been
away?" The champion's brow furrowed. "What happened to Deanna?"
His mirror image stretched. "Nothing happened to her really. She's been worn
to the bone, physically and emotionally, just trying to take care of you. Me.
Hell, I don't know anymore."
The victor thought for a moment, then said, "Listen, we're going to have to
merge sooner or later... we should combine memories. We'll know what each other
The mirror image nodded, smiling wryly again. "She loves... us... you know.
She wouldn't let me call her 'imzadi' without knowing completely what it
The champion nodded. "I know. Somehow, I know."
Then, as if moving to embrace, the two figures held their arms open wide, as
they merged into one being.
The lights flickered for a few seconds, then shone bright as one figure stood
Will Riker's quarters lit up as Deanna ordered the lights to full
illumination. Once awakened, she could not get back to sleep, and she had heard
a noise in the middle of the night. She had gone in to check on Will, finding
him in the grips of a nightmare. His sheets had been tangled up around him and
he had been sitting bolt upright in bed, wild-eyed and sweating. She had tried
scanning him; but, no, the mental shields were still in place. She had sat on
the side of the bed, soothing him and drying his forehead with the corner of
After talking to him for a while, she was disappointed to find that not only
did he not remember a thing about his nightmare, but he hadn't regained any of
his memories, either. Although he was still calling her 'Dee'... That was
something, at least...
She sat at the dining table, after replicating herself a hot cup of chocolate,
shivering slightly as she settled into her chair; she adjusted her nightgown
around her for maximum warmth. Slowly sipping her hot chocolate, she savored
the aroma as it reached her nose. She let out a slow sigh of contentment, brief
as it may be, and asked the computer for the time.
"It is currently 0730 hours." The answer came in the form of Will Riker's
voice, and she looked up to see him leaning his hands on the opposite end of
the gleaming surface of the table. He looked like he had fallen out of bed,
there was a red hue to the left side of his face, and his beard and hair were
rumpled so comically that she had a hard time keeping a straight face. He had a
smile on his face, however.
"I had a dream last night," he said softly. "Do you know what I saw in my
Deanna gestured to the chair next to hers, Will sat down. Fully interested,
she leaned forward to him. "What did you dream about, Will?"
Will looked at her for a long moment, then his face was the picture of longing
and love. "You."
Deanna blinked back a solitary tear that threatened to expose her. "You did?"
Riker put his hand on her forearm, using his other to cup her chin. Looking
her straight in the eye, he nodded. "I dreamt that we had a chance to rekindle
a romance we had thought lost. And in my dream, we were both afraid to, worried
that our already strained friendship would break apart if we tried to start a
shipboard relationship. But I knew, in my dream, that I loved you, and that I
was always saddened that the courage was never in me to tell you how I felt."
Troi suddenly remembered that she had to breathe. Gasping softly, she composed
herself and tried to be as professionally detached as possible. "Are you sure
it was a dream, or was it a memory resurfacing?"
Riker smiled wryly. "I couldn't tell you, Deanna. You're the one whose
memories are intact." He got up and walked back to his bedroom, the doors
shutting behind him.
Deanna watched him go, finally letting the tear out and sighing softly.
"Sometimes, I am not so sure that they are, where you're concerned, Will
"Well, Captain," Will grumbled as he tried to button the collar
wedding tuxedo, "Either we need to cut down on the amount of beer and cake at
bachelor parties, or you managed to do this on your own."
"Careful, Will...." Picard mumbled.
Finally, Will got the clasps shut on the collar. "All right, you can breathe
Picard looked at his first officer sideways. "Thank you, Will."
Will nodded, guiltily.
Picard went to the younger man. "Will," he said softly. "It's okay. We've all
forgiven you for what happened. These things happen to the best of us."
"I don't think your counselor has forgiven me for what happened."
Picard looked at him. "What do you mean?"
Will was silent.
"Well, she's been through a lot. I'm sure she's forgiven you, but she might be
wary of you." Picard clapped him on the shoulder. "These things take time,
"Time seems to be something I'm running short of..."
Picard nodded, then started. "Oh, speaking of which...Computer. What time is
"The time is 0900 hours," came the prim, female voice.
"Well, Will, seems we've got fifteen minutes to get to a wedding. Don't you
Will nodded, the wheels in his head turning. He picked up his flower, to be
pinned on the lapel of his own tuxedo, and followed the groom out the door.
Admiral Tao Nguyen, a petite Asian woman with a frost of snowy white hair,
cleared her throat, pulling at the collar of her dress uniform. She could
hardly wait for the ceremonies to be over with so that she could change out of
this incredibly uncomfortable monkey suit. The downside to being an admiral was
that she was required to perform the marriage between the captain and his CMO,
thus having to put up with this insufferable costume for the next three hours.
Her personal yacht was waiting outside the ship, off the port bow. She could
use her admiral's prerogative to override this particularly inconvenient
protocol of Starfleet's, leaving the ceremony to the android officer to
perform. But, of course, that would be dereliction of duty, and it would hurt
her friend Jean-Luc's feelings... thus she suffered.
The sudden rise and fall of volume of the Federation Horns signalled the
arrival of Jean-Luc and his trusy sidekick, William Riker. Nguyen was aware of
certain difficulties regarding the handsome First Officer. She had discovered
the basic gist of the situation through the time-honored traditional
gossip...although the details were as blurred as several rounds through the
ship's scuttlebutt would obscure. There appeared to be no problem with the best
man, however, as he took his place behind Picard, who had assumed his position
in front of the admiral. The podium in front of the short admiral (which had
been shortened, because Data had not wished to cause any discomfort for the
diminuitive woman) was suddenly adorned with the booklet of marriage vows and
the Federation code and blessing, as Data gently placed it on the top of the
podium and hurried to take his place behind Riker.
Then, in strode Geordi La Forge, looking happier than he had in years. Hooked
on his arm was one of the most stunningly gorgeous ensigns on the ship. An
ensign from the science division, if Picard remembered correctly. Geordi winked
at her and whispered something into her ear, then took his place behind Data.
All there was left to do was wait.
They didn't wait long.
The Federation Horns rose again in tribute, as Beverly Crusher and her
entourage entered the redecorated lounge. Her dress was a flowing periwinkle
blue, with sequins lining the hem of the skirt. The skirt itself was slit up
the side on the thigh. Muffled gasps of admiration and surprise came from the
guests, and elicited raised eyebrows from the groom's attendants. Except for
Jean-Luc; although he had not seen the dress any time previously, he knew it
was not atypical of Beverly, and was not surprised. If anything, he was
Will's attention was focused on Beverly's Maid of Honor.
Deanna was in a lavender dress, strapless and low cut. It too had a tight
bodice and a flowing skirt that was slit up the side. She refused to meet
Riker's scrutiny but for a brief glance in his direction. She was just thankful
that they weren't at a Betazoid wedding. That would have been a *great* way to
infuse memories into Will...
The bridesmaids took their place behind Troi, and Nguyen cleared her throat.
"Since the first days of the wooden sailing ships back on earth, it has been
the honor and priviledge of ship captains to perform marriages for those
aboard, be they guests or crew. Jean-Luc Picard is a captain who has been
honored to have performed many such rites of bonding, on all three ships that
he has captained. And now the captain is himself getting married. And the rest
of us are saying, 'It's about bloody time'..."
Jean-Luc blushed sheepishly as Beverly and the guests laughed.
And the ceremony continued....
Later, when all the wedding paraphanalia for the ceremony had been cleared
away, the reception kicked into high gear. Of course, the honored couple got
the first dance. Riker and Troi had seated themselves at a small table off to
the side of the dance floor, where they proceeded to make inconsequential small
Troi had long since ceased trying to read him, having given up the task as
futile. Riker's shields had cracked enough to allow her to read him if she
tried hard enough, but she just didn't try. So she didn't know.
Riker, on the other hand, had a slightly different problem. "Dee..."
She held up a hand abruptly, stopping him. "Will, please. I was ecstatic when
you remembered your pet name for me, but enough is enough." With tears in her
eyes she looked at him. "Don't you see? Unless you remember the big things, the
little things become meaningless. Unless you remember our past, our future is
"And what do you think I'm trying to do? It's not easy Dee...anna," he
finished after a glance from her. "I can't patch things up to heal if *you*
refuse to give me the band-aid box!"
She cocked an eyebrow. The guests hadn't noticed his outbreak, and
fortunately, neither had the Picards. Lowering her voice, she said, "Well, I
want you to be able to remember on my own, with no help from me."
"Why? So I can struggle with this alone? Is that what all good counselors do?
Sit back and watch as their patients try to do things alone without any help?"
His tone was neutral, almost Data-ish, but still caused a tear to roll down
the side of her cheek. "Don't you think I'm hurt and frustrated too? Don't you
think it's been as hard on me as it must be for you?" She stopped, thought for
a second, then looked immediately contrite. "Will, I'm sorry..."
He smiled lightly. Placing his hand on her arm, "RaBeem." That was all he
said, but that single Betazoid word carried an electrical current into Deanna.
Wait a second... Hiding the turning wheels in her head from her expression on
her face, she smiled evenly. "So, let's try a scan of what you remember."
He nodded, taking his hand from her arm. "Shoot."
**He'd better thank his lucky stars I have the sanity not to take that
literally...** she thought darkly.
"So, what do you remember?" she asked simply.
"That's a professional scan?" he said humorously.
"It's a simple question..."
"Give me something definite..."
Troi thought for a moment, then said breezily. "What poetry comes to mind?"
Riker sensed a trap, but forged ahead. "Well," he said, as if uncertain,
"there's not much. I assume you want a specific poem that we both know..."
She nodded. **He shouldn't be able to remember this yet...At least not the
He paused, then:
"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 times to come?
The future holds such promise
And just as I cannot imagine how I survived the past
I cannot imagine a future
He shrugged. "That's all I remember of it. I can't seem to remember who wrote
it though..." he stalled. Suddenly, he began to feel the prickling of hairs at
the back of his neck, an all too familiar sensation. He looked at Deanna. She
simply was silent, staring back at hin.
They both began to notice that the denizens of Ten-Forward had begun to
applaud loudly, and whistling noises could be heard.
Riker himself had not noticed that he had been speaking in stentorian tones,
loud enough for people to hear. Troi shifted as if uncomfortable.
That feeling again... Riker hoped it wasn't what...
Suddenly, Troi stood up so fast that her chair toppled backward. Being an
incredibly small table, it was no small stretch what she did next.
The crowd was stunned silent as Deanna Troi took a wide swing with her right
arm and slapped Will Riker hard across the face. The sound of flesh meeting
flesh so violently reverberated around the bulkheads. Even Guinan was shocked
silly. Everyone stared at the two in the middle of the lounge. Jean-Luc and
Beverly were standing there in mortified fascination.
"You f***ing son of a b*tch!" she shrieked. An utter non-sequiter for the
counselor, to be sure.
Gasps were heard at this outbreak. The counselor gathered up her dress and
stormed out of the lounge. As she exited, for some strange reason, the doors
remained open. Various murmurings were overheard in the crowd:
"He recites poetry...beautiful poetry...to her, and she curses and slaps him
in the face?" one voice said in puzzlement.
"Remember, she had that affair with Commander Worf... it must be a Klingon
thing she picked up..." another voice answered.
Attempting to bring levity into a bad situation, Riker stood up proudly and
indignantly. Pointing a finger after her, he looked sideways at the doors.
"Madam, I would have you know that my sex life is none of your damned business.
Furthermore, in none of her past lives was my mother ever a canine!" he
With that, he strode after her.
Beverly looked squarely at Jean-Luc. "Well, I suppose that's the entertainment
for the evening..."
Riker found Deanna sitting huddled on the floor, leaning her back up against
the bulkhead, halfway down the corrider from Ten-Forward. She obviously hadn't
gotten far before her anger and her tears had caught up with her. So, she sat
against a bulkhead on the floor, crying as if no one else was there to care one
way or the other.
As he neared her in proximity, she sensed him. In one fluid movement, she was
up on her feet in a heartbeat. She extended a hand, backing away from him
slowly, blinking hard to see through her tears. "Stay away from me," she
shrieked. "I don't want you near me!"
"Deanna, I..." he started, but she cut him off.
"No! I don't want to hear it!" With that, she took off at a high-speed bolt
down the corridor.
Will stood there, befuddled. He felt a presense behind him and half-turned to
face it. Lwaxana just stood there, serene, not at all angry like her daughter
"She's confused, Will. She's angry, scared, and confused." She urged him with
a gesture, making the words she said next almost unnecessary: "Go to her."
Will took off at a steady jog after Deanna, leaving Lwaxan Troi behind. One
didn't need to be a telepath to know where Deanna had gone. She was where she
always went when she was having emotional problems and wanted to be alone. He
was also just as sure the doors were locked. With the highest security
clearance that Troi could muster without captain's authorization.
Which is why he stopped by the officers' deck on deck 8. Entering the rec
lounge, he saw Security Chief Arlon sitting in a lone chair near one of the
viewports. She was sipping her synthale quietly, obviously thinking private
thoughts. Unfortunately, Riker wasn't in a mood to be patient and wait for her
to turn around and notice him.
"Rona," he gasped, having run up two decks, pausing for breath only in
turbolifts. "I need your help for a minute."
The tone of his voice mated with his words caused the young woman to go on
four-siren alert. "Where's the problem, Commander?" She instictively reached
for her phaser at her hip.
Riker put his hands up. "Whoa, Chief, hang on a second. There's no security
breach. Counselor Troi has locked herself on the holodeck without her
communicator, and we think she may be in some sort of emotional trauma. For a
Betazoid, this is a serious condition, and we need to unlock her security
codes. The only way I can do this is to have you use your security override
"Why wouldn't the captain himself do this, sir?" she asked respectfully, with
just a hint of suspicion in her voice.
"The captain is attending his own wedding," Riker explained patiently.
"All right," she replied after a beat, "let's go."
Together, they made their way up to deck five, and stopped at the entrance to
the holodeck. Once there, Arlon entered her voice print identification code.
The doors beeped and parted. Behind them was revealed lush Betazed scenery.
Riker turned to the security chief.
"Thank you, Rona." Pause. "You really should join the reception in
Ten-Forward., Lieutenant. It's really something. "
She shifted uncomfortably. "I would rather not, sir. I do not like large
gatherings of people altogether much. Too easily, they oftentimes conceal the
deadliness of an unexpected knife. It is much too easy to be caught off guard
there, sir. I prefer my solitude, Commander."
Riker smiled warmly. "Just like a certain Klingon aquaintance I used to know."
He entered the holodeck, allowing the holodeck doors to shut in front of Rona,
who quickly went back to deck 10 to be alone.
Riker knew the location here like the back of his hand. It was the glade that
preceded the Betazoid Art Museum. He and Troi had spent many endless days here,
during his tour on Betazoid. She had used the museum to teach him about opening
up his mind and soul to others, including herself. Somehow, it seemed oddly
appropriate that he find her sitting in front of the painting with the large,
goopy paint swirls. It was one of the many paintings in the museum that Riker
could just not get used to. No matter how hard Deanna had tried to coax him to
open up his mind and relax, to see a picture where there was none, Riker just
couldn't adjust his definitive mindset to accomodate her.
But that was the younger Will. The Will of the past.
The Will of today had no such problems adjusting his mindset.
He saw the picture clearly. Or painting, as the case may be.
He walked in her direction, until he was standing directly behind her.
"Deanna," he began.
She interrupted him, not sounding particularly angry, rather like she was lost
somewhere in the past. "Will, remember that time when we were working on your
mental shields? Or projection? Yes, that was it. We were working on a way to
enable you to project your thoughts to telepaths and to help you construct
shields around your mind so that no one could read your mind without your
"Who knew that you would prove so adept at forming shields around your mind?"
He fell silent as he saw a tear roll down the side of her face. How did this
happen to them? He remembered everything now...
"I know you do," she broke in, telling him that the bond they shared was still
intact. She had read his thoughts. "The thing I'm wondering is, for how long
have you remembered? Were you ever really in a coma?"
"Deanna, how could you doubt it? I couldn't even remember you. I couldn't wake
"Will, stop lying to me. You know you could have if you wanted to. You just
didn't want to. As for the amnesia, well, I couldn't break your mental shields,
they were too strong. Mother claimed that she saw something in your mind,
"Deanna, be quiet. Now. Let me speak."
She looked at him, dumbfounded. To her recollection, Will had never taken that
tone of voice with her before.
"First time for everything," he allowed. The bond was still alive and well.
She gestured to the chair opposite her bench. He sat down.
"Deanna, I don't know where exactly to begin, so just ask me a simple question
and I'll give you an answer as elaborate as I can make it."
Thinking this over for a moment, she nodded. "How long have you had your
Riker shrugged. "I don't know, actually. I just woke up this morning and I
suddenly understood and could recollect everything. I went to bed with amnesia
and woke up remembering everything."
Deanna looked at him. "Why didn't you tell me you'd gotten your memories back,
Will? Why the deception?"
Will sighed, then took her hands in his. "First of all... no, Deanna, look at
me." He took her chin in between his thumb and index finger, angling it to face
him. "First of all, it was never my intention to deceive you. You have to
understand it was a very disorienting experience for me... having my memories
back, all of the sudden. Then, remembering things, I felt guilty. For what I
had done to my friends. For what I had done to you..." He shrugged. "I don't
know what came over me, Deanna. I'd been like that for a long time. At least
since the first time I saw you and Worf together. I know it's silly and petty
She cut him off. "No, Will. It's not entirely healthy to be jealous," she
paused, "but it is entirely normal." She leaned forward to whisper, "Just
between the two of us?" He nodded and she smiled slyly. "I never was in love
with him as much as I was in love with you. I thought I could be, but..." She
paused. "I guess that our bond is stronger than we think... which leads me to
believe that you haven't exactly told me everything...like about this morning
Will feigned ignorance. "What about this morning?"
"Well, for instance, your unusual behaviour this morning?"
Will grinned sheepishly. "I was trying, in my own sleepy way, to seduce
She laughed softly, her bosom shaking slightly. She crooked her finger at him
and he leaned in for her to whisper: "It worked."
He looked into her eyes for a long minute. "Imzadi, I've made so many mistakes
where we're concerned. I don't know where to begin to make things right. But
I'm asking you to find it in your heart to forgive me."
She smiled sadly. "We were partners in this fiasco, Will. If I forgive you,
you forgive me."
Will sighed. Then he smiled back. "Deal." He cupped her chin in his hand. "The
first order of business..." He lowered his mouth to hers, which she greeted
readily. The kiss was long, sweet, and filled with the possibility of things to
She looked at him when they pulled apart. "Imzadi," she whispered.
Will nuzzled her neck. "Yes?"
"First of all, you have my permission to call me 'Dee' again..."
Will faked shock. "Oh my God! You mean it?"
She batted his arm and kissed him again. Another long one.
When they broke away for the second time, Will eyed her. "What's the second
Deanna smiled. "Do you think we should ask the Picards if they wouldn't mind
sharing the happy day?"
Will's eyebrows almost collided with his hairline. "Dee? You mean it?"
"Never been more serious in my life."
"Glad to hear it." He picked her up. "Computer, end program." He carried her
out the door. "Let's find the others, shall we?" They continued down the hall
towards the turbolift, her still in his arms. They entered the turbolift and he
called out for Ten-Forward.
As the doors to the 'lift slid shut, Deanna looked at him quizzically. "By the
way, how did you override my password lock?"
Lwaxana Troi, smiling, strode over to Beverly Picard and whispered something
in her ear. Jean-Luc patiently stood by. Beverly came away from the whispering
with a huge smile on her face. The new husband looked at the two ladies
Beverly told him what Lwaxana had sensed as Riker came through the doors to
the lounge, bearing a smiling Deanna Troi.
As applause rang throughout the lounge, Jean-Luc Picard cried out, "Oh,
The petite admiral, who had been in the process of discreetly making her exit,
turned, dread on her face. "Yes, Captain?"
Jean-Luc smiled. "Would you mind staying a bit longer?" He turned to Data.
"Bring the podium back. Everyone gather round! Replicate another bouquet!..."
Admiral Tao Nguyen blanched. "Oh, my god..."
END: Part 5 of 5