A girl, about age fourteen, with shoulder length mousey brown hair and piercing blue eyes stood outside the cathedral doors of the fifth house of Betazed. Nervously, the girl balled her small hand into a fist and knock on the massive door.
“Who is it?” cackled a voice from within the confinements of the house.
The girl jumped, took a nervous breath, and cleared her throat, “My name is Risa . . .Risa Riker, and I have a delivery for Ms. Deanna Troi.”
The door of the home creeked open for a brief moment before slamming shut again, “This house does not accept anything from Rikers.”
The girl pulled into her own shell for a brief moment, “Ma’m I have no where else to go. Please,” the girl bent down and slipped an envelope through the door.
The woman on the other side of the door picked up the envelope, tore open the top, and pulled out er. Quickly she scanned over the letter that read.
If you are getting this letter that means my precious little Risa is on
your doorstep, and I am either missing in action or worse. Please hear me out before turning her away.
First, I want to apologize on paper, for what I’ve been to chicken to do in
person. I’m sorry I left you at the alter on Risa (yes the name has everything to do with the place, and what it means to me.) I made a mistake at my bachelor’s party, the one my brother threw a month before the wedding, and yes Risa was a result. Yes, it was with Wendy Roper, and yes I deserve to be called every possible name you are thinking of right now.
Deanna, when Wendy came to me the eve of our wedding, and told me I was a
father, I panicked and we ran. I know I should have turned her away, but knowing that you and I were not compatible to have children of our own, my paternal extinct won over everything else. I’ve always wanted children and I feared this was my only chance.
Wendy and I were married. Wendy and I had a loveless marriage from day
one, and I often went to her and begged for a release from our vows. I wanted Risa and I wanted to come back to you. Wendy would never let me, and I could never leave without my little girl. So I became a Barclay and escaped to a holographic Deanna every night and my work everyday.
When Risa was twelve, Wendy fell into a deep depression and ended up
taking her own life. Risa was the one who found her and soon fell into a depression of her own. I couldn’t win you back with such excess baggage so Risa and I became a family of our own.
Deanna, if Risa is in front of you now, I can’t get back to her have no one
to give her to, that I trust with my heart and soul, besides you. If you must turn her away, she may join Thomas in Alaska, but I know she doesn’t need another male influence in her life. She needs a woman. A strong, beautiful, wonderful woman like I remember you to be and I am assured you are now.
Please Deanna, if not for me then for a lost little girl.
Forever your imzadi,
The woman on the other side of the door angrily crumpled up the letter and threw in against the wall, “Damn you Will Riker, Damn you.” she mutterted under her breath as she stood on her tip toes and peered through the keyhole at the girl. Yes, there was no doubt this girl was Will’s, with her identical eyes and tall lanky body.
She eased back flat footed and laid her head against the door. Part of her wanted to yell out the door to the girl to go catch the next flight to Alaska and the other part of her wanted to open the door and give the poor girl a hug and tell her life would get better. Will was probably right when he said the girl needed a female influence, but would he agree to Deanna in her state now? Would he want his daughter with another instable female?
Going against what her instincts told her, the woman on the other side of the door reluctantly eased the door open and walked outside.
Risa, who had taken a seat on the steps to await her fate, quickly stood up and began to smooth her skirt, “Deanna?”
The older woman with fiery red hair shook her head no, “I’m sorry I’m not Deanna, my name is Beverly.” The older woman extended her hand and Risa politely shook it.
“The note was suppose to go to Deanna, is she in there? Did she read it?” Risa looked hopefully at Beverly, causing the doctor’s heart to break.
“Honey, she is in there, but she is not up to reading letters right now.”
Risa’s face fell and Beverly found herself pulling the young girl into a comforting embrace.
“Why the long face?” Beverly asked, as she pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket to give the girl
“It’s sounds stupid, but for the past two years my father has told me such wonderful stories about Deanna, and I have spent so much time with the holographic image of her that my father has perfected, I just assumed she would be waiting here for me with open arms. . . stupid huh?”
Beverly shook her head, “No Risa not stupid at all, and the old Deanna probably would have done that. However, the old Deanna hasn’t been around in a very long time. The Deanna in that house is nothing like the Deanna that your father has told you about.”
“What wrong with her?”
“She went a little crazy after you father chose not to marry her.” Beverly cautiously began, not quite sure how much of the story the girl knew.
“Deanna hasn’t left her house in fourteen years, has not opened the curtains of her room in ten years, and has not left the confinements of her bedroom for probably five years.” Beverly sadly shrugged, “Not quite the type of person who should be raising a fourteen year old daughter.”
“Your going to send me off to my uncle Tom aren’t you?”
Before Beverly had a chance to answer, the sound of a gong rang through the air.
“What that?” Risa asked, looking around the grounds in confusion.
“That is Deanna, she needs me for something.” Grabbing the girl’s shoulders, Beverly met her eye to eye, “I am going to take you in the house with me, at least until I figure things out, but you have to promise me that you will be quite as a mouse. . .please. Deanna may have gone into hiding, but she is still as sharp as a whip, and I am not quite sure how she will react to your presence. Frankly, I don’t care to find out either”
Risa nodded, feeling a growing kinship between her and Beverly, “I won’t cause you any trouble I promise.”
“I know honey, and I am kind of looking forward to having someone to talk to as well. Now come on.”
* * * *
Beverly quickly seated Risa in the kitchen, ran upstairs, and knocked on the third door to the left, the former bedroom of Lwaxana Troi and current dwellings for Deanna.
“Come in,” called Deanna.
Beverly apprehensively walked in, “Did you need something Deanna?”
Deanna Troi, pale skinned from her lack of son, stared back at Beverly with crazed eyes, “Who is here?”
Shocked, Beverly took a step back and began to stumble on her words, “No one is here Dee, I was just talking to myself. . .honest.’
Deanna, who had been laying in bed when Beverly first walked in, jumped and began to pace back and forth, “You are LYING and I don’t liked to be lied too. Who is here.”
Beverly began to search her pockets for a hypospray gun, ready to put Deanna out before she became a threat to herself or Beverly, “Deanna, why don’t you just sit on the bed.”
“NO.” Deanna ran, barefoot over to the door and leaned her face, “NO no no no.” She grabbed her head in her hands and began to shake. “It has to do with Will, it’s somebody close to Will .” Tears of madness began to slowly make their way down Deanna’s cheek as leaned farther into the door, as if eavesdropping on someone’s conversation. “Is it Thomas?”
Beverly walked over to her friend, and tried to get a hold of her, “No, it’s not Thomas.”
Deanna leaned against the door and dropped her legs to go crashing to the floor, “There is definitely part of Will down there, I can feel it, I can almost tune in to the person’s thoughts. If it’s not Thomas, who is it?”
Beverly looked down at her friend in a helpless puddle, “Dee, don’t worry about it, she will be gone by morning.”
“Who Beverly? Who is down there?”
Beverly sighed and sat down on the floor next to her friend, “Her name is Risa.”
“Who is she?” Deanna further questioned, her eyes darting around her nevously.
“She is Will’s daughter.” Deanna took a sharp intake of air, and continually let her eyes dart around the room, “Why is she here?”
“Wendy is dead, Will is missing, and she has no where else to go. Will wanted her to be raised by you upon his absence.”
Deanna nodded understandably, stood up, opened her mouth, and let out a long, loud, angry scream.
Risa’s ears perked up to Deanna’s outburst and immediately she sprung up to her feet and ran upstairs. Growing up as the Captain’s daughter, she was well trained to know when somebody is in trouble, and to her that sounded like big trouble.
* * * *
Beverly looked at Deanna in alarm, fearing that she had really gone mad.
Deanna stopped screaming and looked about the room in terror, “Beverly the abomination is coming closer, please tell it to go away . . .please.”
Beverly looked at Deanna and then to the hallway, “Risa are you up here.”
“Are you okay Beverly? I heard the screaming and I came up here to check.” Called Risa from the hallway.
“I’m fine, now please stay where you are for a second.” Turning back to Deanna, Beverly calmly took her hand, “Deanna that is not an abomination out there that is a little girl. A little girl who lost her mother two years ago and now has lost her father. She came here, as her father has instructed, with the belief that you would take her under your wing, love her and accept her.”
“I don’t want anything to do with her. She represents the only obstacle that has ever come between me and happiness. She is nothing but a reminder of my pain. Get her out.”
Beverly looked at her friend a moment, secretly pleased at the reenergized life that this girl’s presence had breathed into a comatose Deanna. “No. I am not going to turn her away. She needs us and I think we need her. At least one of us needs her.”
“NO!” Deanna screamed, as she grabbed a pillow off of her bed and threw it at Beverly, “GET HER OUT.”
Beverly ducked out of the way of the flying pillow, “It’s your house, you want her out, you can go tell her to leave yourself.”
Deanna threw another pillow at Beverly, to angry to think of a comeback.
“I will be downstairs making our houseguest some hot chocolate, you may come down and join us if you would like.” Beverly turned on her heels and started out the door.
Beverly turned around, “What?”
“Does she look like Will or like Wendy? I don’t want to see her if she looks like Wendy.” Asked a defeated Deanna.
“Well, she’s got Will’s eyes, his height, and his smile. She’s got her mother’s hair and nose.”
Deanna nodded, and returned back to her bed, “Don’t hold your breath that I’ll come join you and the little homewrecker.”
“Deanna, I never do.”
Beverly walked out of Deanna’s room and into the hallway, where she found a terrified Risa hunched in the corner. She offered her hand to the girl, and apprehensively she took it. The two walked downstairs.
“Risa, I would like to hold off calling your uncle for a couple of days, I think you might be just the miracle I was looking for.” Beverly began, trying to catch the young girls eye, “but it’s really up to you whether you want to stay or not. I won’t blame you on whatever you decide.”
Risa nodded, her insides a little shaken up by Deanna’s outburst, “Why do you want me to stay.”
Beverly took her into the kitchen and sat her down, “Let’s just say that’s the most life I have seen come from Deanna in fourteen years. Usually she sits in her room crying and moping.”
“Yes but I don’t think she thinks very highly of me.”
“No I don’t think so either, but she does think of you, which is an improvement.” Beverly patted the girl on the back and walked over to the stove, “By any chance do you like instant hot chocolate, because I have a pantry full.”
Risa stood up from her seat at the table, and walked over to Beverly, “Actually, I make a home-made hot chocolate that could blow away any of this instant stuff, if you like I can make it.”
Beverly smiled, impressed at the politeness Will had installed in the girl, “I’d like that very much.” Beverly pointed out the locations of the ingredients she would need, “You may want to make enough for three.”
“You think she will come down here?”
“If your hot chocolate is anything like your father’s recipe, she will float down here.”
Risa giggled which started Beverly to laugh.
“Beverly, can I ask you a question, seriously though.” Risa started.
“Why did you come here and stay with her for fourteen years. I mean she doesn’t seem like a very good companion.”
Beverly’s face grew somber, “Deanna at one time, was the most beautiful person I’d ever met, both outside and in. She had a smile that could light up a room and a wit that could match your father’s head to head. She was my best friend and the sister I always wanted.” a far away look overcame the doctor’s eyes, “I stay with her because I keep thinking one of these days she is going to come back to me. And today, for the first time, she started to. I saw a spark in her eyes that was her.”
“I’ll stay Beverly, I’ll help you get her back.”
“Risa, you don’t have to stay for me, I’m a big girl.”
“I know, but my dad would have wanted me too.” Suddenly the sound of footsteps coming down a stairway made the two stop mid sentence and look towards the door.
“Risa, whatever she says to you, take it with a grain of salt.”
Risa nodded, too terrified to say anything else.
Risa and Beverly stood perfectly silent as Deanna’s footsteps approached. As she rounded the corner Risa’s heart began to pound in her chest at explosive levels.
Deanna Troi, clothed in nothing but a T-Shirt came into full view, her long dark hair knotted from months of no brushing, her face a dirty brown from years of tears falling, her body withered from no exercise and hardly no eating.
“Beverly you’ve let my mother’s house go, Holmes is probably rolling in his grave.” Deanna mutterted, sitting down at the table. Her eyes never leaving the security of Beverly’s face.
“Deanna, I’m a doctor not a maid.” Beverly smiled, pushing a cup of hot chocolate toward Deanna, “Risa has been so kind as to make us some of Will’s famous hot chocolate, do you want some?”
Deanna grabbed for the cup and took a sip.
“Do you like it?” Risa asked quietly.
Deanna looked thoughtful for a moment before hurling the full cup towards the wall, shattering it into a hundred small fragments.
“Deanna!” Beverly stood up in amazement.
“She did it wrong.” Deanna calmly responded
Risa, who had backed herself to the wall when the glass hit, stepped forward, “I did not do it wrong, I’ve been making that stuff all my life.”
Deanna, finally turning to face Risa, snarled, “Girly, I’ve been drinking that recipe far longer then you’ve been alive and you DID IT WRONG.”
“No, I swear I didn’t. I know that recipe like the back of my hand. You must be mistaken.” Risa held.
Beverly swallowed hard, “Risa, Deanna, does it really matter.”
“YES.” They simultaneously answered.
Beverly shrugged her shoulders and returned her attention back to her cup.
“I did not do it wrong.”
Deanna walked over to the stove, and slammed a pot onto the burner. She then began throwing chocolate and milk and various other things into the pot, growling and muttering as she went. Risa and Beverly watched in silence as Deanna brought another pot of hot chocolate to boil. She then grabbed Risa cup from her, threw what hot chocolate she had down the drain, and poured her a cup of the fresh stuff.
Silently Risa took a sip, paused, and then took another.
Risa turned red, and set her cup down, “What did I forget?”
“Cinnamon, and the common sense NEVER to doubt me.”
“Deanna, you’ve proved your point, now come sit down at meet Risa.” Beverly motioned Deanna to come sit down.
“No, not today my social calendar is just way to full. Maybe I can fit some time in around the next millennium though . . .maybe.? Deanna started to get up from the table.
“Wait.” Risa, gathering all the courage she could muster, leaned forward that grabbed her hand.
Deanna jumped back as if being burned. “Don’t touch me Wendy Roper! I don’t care how sorry you are, you’ve ruined my life” she hissed through clenched teeth.
“Deanna, this is Risa. . .not Wendy.” Beverly soothed, quickly running over to Deanna to try to bring her back into reality.
Deanna eyes had gone blank and glassy, “Beverly, call Worf. Tell him I want Ms. Roper out of my cabin.”
“Beverly,” her hands flew up to her ears, “she is lying. Will wouldn’t do that to me. Will wouldn’t do that while he is engaged to me.”
Beverly, wanting to stop this madness before it reeked havoc on both Deanna and Risa’s mental stability, she let her hand fly up and slap Deanna directly across the jaw.
Deanna looked at her in surprise, as her eyes began to slowly come back into focus. “Better?”
Deanna nodded, rubbing the red welt focusing on her jaw.
“Deanna,” Risa stepped forward, “I’m sorry what my mother did to you. I’m sorry I’m a product of a relationship that should have never happened. But I am what I am, and there is nothing I can do about it.”
“Risa, once upon a time I was a nice person, it’s really to bad you couldn’t have met me then.”
“Deanna, I know you are a really nice person, my father recounted so many wonderful stories about the two of you. You were special to my father and he made you special to me. You just have to pull yourself out of this slump that’s all. And I have an idea that may help you bring closure once and for all.”
“I think we should hold a funeral for my father.”
Beverly nodded in agreement, “Deanna, I think Risa is right.”
Deanna cocked her head to the side and looked inquisitively at the two of them, “Why, your father’s not dead?”
Risa’s blue eyes widened, “I’m afraid he is Deanna, Starfleet contacted me at the academy. They said my father’s ship had run into a field of asteroids and that he was unable to maneuver the ship away fast enough to avoid a deadly collision.”
“Well either they lied for some unknown reason or he escaped in some emergency shuttlecraft, because I can tell you with one-hundred percent certainty he is alive.”
Risa looked questionably at Deanna.
“Risa, if he was dead this part of my brain would have alerted me,” Deanna said pointing to the right side of her head, “and this,” moving her finger down to her heart, “would have given me more pain then you could have imagined.”
“The Imzadi bond?”
Deanna nodded, “Risa, even if I didn’t share the imzadi bond with you father, I would still doubt his death. He is an excellent pilot that has escaped more closer-encounters with death then anybody I know, and for that reason I am finding it VERY hard to believe he was tripped up by a field of asteroids. Now if you will excuse me, I have had more excitement in one day then I have had in fourteen years, so I think I will retire to my room, Good night.”
* * * * Risa, awoke in the large guest bedroom to the sound of Deanna and Beverly’s voice drifting from the downstairs living room. Curious to what the two were discussing, Risa slipped out of her bed, and quietly crept down the stairwell to listen.
“Beverly, this is so damn hard for me - to look into those eyes, his eyes.”
“Dee, you are doing wonderful, the progress you have made today is just phenomenal. I mean this is the first conversation I have had with you in fourteen years.”
“I slipped though, calling her Wendy, that wasn’t cool.”
“No, but we brought you out of that relatively quickly, and I don’t think to much harm was done.”
“No I suppose not.”
“Deanna, what do you think about this whole Will thing? Do you think it is something we should worry about?”
“Beverly, anytime Starfleet makes a blatant lie, especially something so serious as telling a little girl that her father is dead, there is reason to worry. I just don’t know what we can do beyond worrying.”
“No, neither do I, except maybe trying to be a comfort to Risa.”
“Yes. I guess,” Deanna said unconvinced, “It’s late though and we should probably get a couple hours of sleep before morning.”
“Your right, good-night Deanna.”
“Good night Beverly.”
Risa waited till she thought the coast was clear before making her way back up the stairwell.
“Risa, why don’t you join me before sneaking back upstairs.” Deanna’s voice rang out from the living room
Risa, red-faced and ashamed, made her way downstairs to Deanna, “How did you know.”
“Being an empath, I can easily detect people’s feelings when they are in the area. You being Will’s daughter, makes it even easier.”
“We can forget it this time, just don’t make a habit of doing it in the future. I find it insulting to me and degrading to you. Now why don’t you come sit down next to me for a minute.”
Risa nodded and walked over the couch where Deanna was sitting.
“Risa, I know we got off to a bad start, but if you would stay I would really like it. You kind of have breathed new life into the place.”
“What about my dad.”
Deanna looked at Risa and laid a comforting arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer to her, “I’ve put a call into Thomas, and when he calls me back, I will get his version of the story Starfleet fed him. I can’t promise that I will be able to turn up your father right now, but I can promise that Beverly and I will pull what little strings we have left at Starfleet to get as much information as we can.”
Risa smiled, “Thank-you. I’m sorry my looks remind you so much of my dad.”
“Don’t be sorry, I’m just a foolish old woman, ignore me.” Deanna walked over to the other side of the room and picked up a large black leather bound book, tattered and worn at the edges, “You’ve mentioned that you dad has told you stories about me. . now I think it is about time I shared with you a couple of crazy stories about your father.”
She joined Risa on the couch, and the two of them looked the pages of Deanna’s old scrapbook, laughing, crying, sharing stories, and bonding.”
* * * *
“Psst Deanna,” Beverly gently nudged her friend, who had fallen asleep with Risa on the couch.
“Hmmm.” Deanna sleepily mumbled, her eyes fluttering open.
“Thomas has just sent us a subspace communication, do you want to talk to him?”
“Yes, I’ll be right there.” She eased the sleeping Risa off her shoulder and headed to her den.
* * * *
“Deanna, I was so pleased to receive your call, I’ve been worried about you these past fourteen years.” Thomas began, as Deanna sat down in front of her terminal.
“Sorry I haven’t got in touch, I’ve been a little busy throwing darts at pictures of you and your brother to be bothered with returning phone calls.”
“Deanna, I can’t be held responsible for my brother’s mistakes.”
“No, but you can be held responsible for getting your brother in such a condition that he made such a mistake.” “Deanna, it was a bachelor party, getting drunk goes with the territory.”
“Thomas, you are not going to win an argument I’ve taken fourteen years perfecting, so don’t even try. The reason I was calling was because of Risa.”
“Risa is she okay, is she sick?”
“No she is fine, except that she has this strange notion that Will is dead. Do you know anything about such a crazy idea?”
“Deanna, he is dead.”
Deanna leaned closer to the monitor, “No he is not, and both you and I know that. Now Thomas I am going to ask you again, how did she get such a crazy idea.”
“Deanna I think fourteen years of solitary confinement has gone straight to your head.”
“Thomas, you lie just like your brother . . .badly.”
“What!” his face filled with anger.
“Thomas, he IS alive and that bogus story that Starfleet fed Risa reeks with unbelievability. Asteroids? Please. He used to maneuver his ship purposely through asteroids to keep enemy’s off his tale. Now please level with me, where is Will?
“Deanna if he alive, which I am not saying he is, I have no idea where he is. However, I feel it is in your and Risa’s best interest to let the issue die tonight.”
“Are you threatening me Thomas?”
“No Deanna, its not a threat, it is just some friendly advice. I’d hate to see something happen to you and Risa.”
“Thomas, I would hope you would feel some loyalty towards Will, after everything that has happened between you two, and help him if he needs help.”
“Deanna, I do have loyalty to Will and that is why I am urging you, on his behalf, to just let the issue of his death die. Let Will stay dead.”
Deanna’s jaw dropped, “Thomas, how can you say that.”
“Deanna, I can’t talk about this anymore, just stay put on Betazed and take care of Risa. Please. That is all Will or I can ask for.” With that the transmission went black.
“Damn it.” Deanna threw her head in her hands.
Beverly, came rushing into the room. “What wrong? What did Thomas say.”
“He basically said it would be in Risa and my best interest to leave Will dead.”
“He told you Will is still alive?”
“No he didn’t come right out and say it, but he pretty much eluded to it.” Deanna lifted her head from her hands, “What do I do Beverly? If I pursue this, I’m putting you, me, and more importantly Risa in danger. If I don’t pursue this, I’m letting that little girl in their down as well as letting myself down.”
“Deanna, I can’t tell you what to do, but I want you to know I stand beside whatever decision you make.”
Suddenly a soft rapt came from the door.
“Risa, how long have you been there?” Deanna asked alarmed.
“Not to long,” she walked over to Deanna, “Please go after my dad. You’re the only one who can.”
“Risa, it’s dangerous and although I have no hang up about putting myself in danger, I don’t know how your father would feel about me putting you in danger.”
“Deanna, if you are worried about Risa, I’ll take her off somewhere to hide.” Beverly piped up, putting her arm around the girl, “You wouldn’t have to worry about her.”
Deanna looked nervously between the two, “I don’t even know where to begin.”
“By saying yes,” Risa smiled holding up a hairbrush, “and letting me and Beverly make you look presentable.”
* * * *
Deanna turned around in the mirror, scrutinizing the work Beverly and Risa had performed, “I look like my mother,” she commented distastefully.
“Well you are now ruling head of the Fifth House, and therefore have to look the part.”
“Looking the part is one thing, looking like my mother is something else. Do you think this will work?”
Beverly nodded, pining more of the ornate orange and yellow cloth to Deanna’s waifly form, “As a Betazed diplomat, you have the right to demand inspection of Starfleet’s command center.”
“Yes, but if they are keeping Will hostage, won’t my presence be a tip-off.”
“Not if you start berating my father every chance you get.” Risa looped six or seven gold chains around Deanna’s neck, “they may even let you in on the secret.”
“I’m nuts.” Deanna groaned.
Deanna looked at her reflection one last time, “Are you sure you two will be okay without me.”
“We will be fine.” Beverly assured her.
“Do you think I should have called before stopping by?”
“Would you mother have called.”
“No.” Deanna turned to Risa, “I can’t make any promises.”
“I know, but just knowing you are going to try means the world to me.” Risa impulsively threw her arms around Deanna. “If you find him and some of the old feelings start to emerge, I just want you to know you have my blessing.”
Deanna hugged the girl back, “And even if the feeling don’t emerge, I just want you to know I will always hold you special.”
Deanna turned to face Beverly, “If you want to stop me, now is your chance.”
“Deanna I think you need to do this.”
“Yes, your probably right. Did you fire up my mother’s old transporter.”
Beverly nodded, “Seems to be in working order.”
“Easy for you to say, your not the one facing molecular disintegration.” Deanna stepped onto the transporter, “Next stop Starfleet.”
Beverly engaged the transporting sequence, and Deanna disappeared.
* * * *
Deanna transported onto the visiting deck of the mammoth Starfleet building.
Deanna took a deep breath, exhaled, smiled, and waved down the first ensign she saw in typical Lwaxana fashion, “You Hoo, over here.”
The young male ensign whose attention she caught first, came running over, “Can I help you ma’m.”
Deanna arrogantly smiled, “Don’t you know who I am? I am Deanna Troi, daughter of the fifth House of Betazed, and diplomat. I demand to be taken to suitable visiting quarters immediately and have Admiral Picard notified of my presence.”
“Does the Admiral know of your visit?”
“No, not until you quit dilly-dallying and get on the horn and tell him that is,” Deanna rolled her eyes at her own performance, cringing at how she had mastered her mother’s persona perfectly.
The ensign, assumed the eye rolling was for his behalf and immediately ran to notify Picard.
* * * *
Deanna was taken to a small conference room to wait for Picard, and within moments Picard, followed by Thomas Riker walked in.
“Damn it,” Deanna thought when she saw Thomas, but outwardly never lost her cool.
“Jean-Luc, it is so good to see you.” Deanna flamboyantly threw her arms around her former Captain and placed a kiss on his cheek.
Picard stepped back in shock, and quickly tried to pry her from him, “Deanna what are you doing here?”
“ I am making a diplomatic visit to inspect the premise, I’m long over due.”
“Deanna, you can quit the Lwaxana act, you aren’t fooling anybody,” piped up Thomas.
Deanna turned and flashed her eyes angrily at him, “Why Thomas, this is what, twice I’ve spoken to you in the last twenty-four hours? How does a girl like myself get so unlucky.”
Thomas grasped her shoulders tightly, “Deanna, please let us transport you home, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.”
Picard nodded, “Deanna, the two of us are begging you.”
Deanna squirmed under Thomas grasp, “I’m a big girl, I can decide what I want and don’t want to get myself into. I demand to know what is wrong with Will, and either you are going to tell me or I will consistently snoop around this building until I find out myself.”
“Thomas, where is Will?”
Picard, in frustration, threw his hands up in the air, “He’s here Deanna, but trust me you don’t want to see him.”
Deanna’s eyes open wide in alarm, “Is he hurt?”
“Jean-Luc, I really think this is not a matter of concern for Deanna.”
Jean-Luc pulled out one of the conference chairs and sat down, “You know as well as I do that we are not going to get rid of her until we let her in on this.”
Thomas scowled, “Will doesn’t want anybody to know.”
“Well considering the state Will is in right now, he really doesn’t have a deciding vote.”
Deanna eyes bobbed between the two of them, “Please, what is wrong with Will.”
Thomas grabbed Deanna’s hand and pulled her out the door, “You want to know what’s wrong with your precious Will, I’ll show you.” He pulled her along the hallway until they came to a big glass observation window, “There satisfied.”
Deanna looked into the room and back at Thomas in confusion, “I don’t get it, this is a nursery for small children.”
“Yes it is.”
“What does that have to do with Will?’
“That is Will and his crew.”
“Thomas, let’s be serious, those are three year olds.”
Thomas shook his head in agreement, “Between three and four physically, mentally they are the same age they were when they left.”
Deanna looked back at him in amazement, and when it finally dawned on her that he wasn’t kidding, she began to giggle, “Your telling me Will is in there.”
Deanna giggles, caused Thomas to begin to laugh, “Yes, and he is not to happy either. I’ve caught him cussing like a sailor a couple of times, and I keep telling him he’s a potty mouth.”
This caused Deanna to laugh, “What does he do?”
“Let’s just say he’s at a height level where I don’t want to provoke him to hit.”
The two began to laugh harder, until tears began to flow down their eyes.
“Seriously though, isn’t there anything that can be done?” Deanna asked, wiping the tears of laughter out of her eyes, “I mean this can’t be faring well on them in there.”
“Deanna, Starfleet has been working around the clock on this matter for the past two months, but they can’t seem to find a cause. The ship was flying home, and thirty seconds before they land they see a flash, and boom they are all like this.”
“A time flux?”
“Nothing is showing up on our equipment to say such. We are at a lost.”
Deanna nodded, and let her gaze fall back to the room, “I want to talk to him.”
“Dee, he can be . . . bratty sometimes. I am not sure talking to him is the best solution.”
Deanna turned on her heels and walked through the door before Thomas had a chance to stop her.
* * * *
Deanna walked into the room and began to scan the faces of the children. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted one small dark haired child start to run.
“Will stop.” She began to hop over small children in her path to get to him.
The boy with the dark curly hair ran head first into a child’s playhouse and slammed the door.
“Will, please.” Deanna started yanking at the door of the house, “I want to talk to you.”
The little boy on the other side, threw all his weight into keeping the door shut, “Go away.”
Deanna began to push on the door, and realized she could have opened it with ease, but decided against it fearing Will’s ego would be easily crushed.
Thomas came up to the house and sat next to Deanna, “Will, she came a long way and fought a hard battle to get to you, the least you could do is come out and see her.”
“Will, I’d like to talk to you, Risa is very worried.”
“Will is dead.”
Frustrated Deanna pushed on the door, causing it to open up, “Will, you’re not dead your right here.”
Angrily, the little boy with the massive dark curly hair came stomping out of the playhouse, “Deanna, as you can see I’ve got bigger problems then Risa right now. Just go home to her and leave me alone.”
“Will, she can’t go home.” Thomas quitely piped up.
“What?” Will’s eyes flashed on his “big” brother.
“We can’t risk her being infected, if this is an infectious disease, and spreading it to the outside.”
“Why isn’t she wearing a protective suit?” Will asked, running his little hands through his hair.
“She ran in before I could stop her.”
“Great, just great Thomas.”
“She may not be infected, I wasn’t, but we can’t take any chance.”
Will nodded, and began to pace around his brother, “Thomas, you’d better be honorable about this and not taking this opportunity to take advantage of Deanna.”
Deanna looked at little Will in shock, “Considering you left me for Wendy Roper, I really don’t think you have a claim to me.”
“Deanna, I did not leave you for Wendy I left you for Risa.” Will plopped his little three year old butt next to Deanna and grabbed her hand, “Deanna I’ve always love you and I always Will.”
Deanna recoiled and pulled her hands from Will, “Will, this is just a little to weird, even for a free thinker like me.” She got up and walked to the other side of the room.
“Deanna, wait.” Will got up to his feet and began to run after her.
“Whoa little brother.” Thomas picked Will up from off the ground, “I think the lady is in shock. Don’t you think we should give her a few minutes to gather her thoughts.”
Will struggled in Thomas’ arms, “According to you she has been alone for fourteen years, she could use a friend.”
“A friend yes, a fifty-five year old ex-lover trapped in a three years olds body, no. You heard her, it’s weird and unsettling.”
Will quit struggling, and Thomas set him down on the ground.
“I didn’t mean to freak her out, it’s just. . . I’ve missed her. I’ve dreamt about her almost every night since I left, but nothing is like the real thing.” Frustrated Will kicked a nearby rocking horse, “What I wouldn’t give to hold her right now, like an adult male holds an adult female.”
* * * *
Deanna walked to the other side of the nursery, and sat uncomfortably in one of the smaller chairs. “I’m fighting with a three year old about my love life. My life has gone bad to worse.”
“Penny for your thoughts.”
“I’m thinking I should have taken your advice when I had the chance.”
Thomas Riker sat down next to her, “Can’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Is this why you came to Starfleet, to help your brother.”
Thomas thought for a moment, “Partially, and partially out of selfishness. I wanted to see what I looked like if . . .when I was a child. I don’t have those memories.”
“We are a lot alike Thomas, I came here partially to help Will and Risa, and partially out of selfishness. I wanted to look at him straight in the eyes and see if he had any regrets. I wanted to see if he suffered as much as I have suffered without him.”
<Imzadi, of course I have suffered.>
Deanna whipped around, but Will was no where to be seen.
<Imzadi, I wanted to contact you so badly. I just didn’t think it was fair to contact you with Risa, a product of an affair that kept us apart.>
<Will, where are you?>
<I can’t talk to you seriously looking this way, I can’t. I think it’s better if we have this conversation telepathically. If it helps look at Thomas and pretend it’s me.>
<Will, there is nothing to discuss.>
<Deanna, your my imzadi, and I love you. I hurt you, and I want to apologize for that.>
<Will, I am not going to talk about lost love until we figure out how to get you and your crew back to normal.> Deanna immediately blocked her mind from any more intrusions.
Thomas looked at her skeptically, “I know you guys were talking, did anything get resolved.”
“No, Thomas can I ask you a favor?”
“Of course, I think I owe you a couple of hundred.”
“Will you hold me, don’t talk, just hold me.”
Thomas nodded, and pulled her into his arms. She buried her head in his chest, closed her eyes, and tried her hardest to convince herself it was Will.
Across the room, from his hiding spot under the table, little Will Riker began to cuss madly, “I hate you Thomas Riker, I hate you for being the man I was and should be.”
“Your kidding, my Dad is 3?” Risa asked amazed, “Can I see him? Can I talk to him?”
Deanna smiled at the screen, the girl’s face couldn’t look more like her father’s if she tried, “I’m afraid not, technically I’m not suppose to be talking at all, but Thomas pulled a few strings. They keep tighter tabs on your father and his crew then they do on me.”
“So, are you guys going to hook back up?”
“Risa he is in the body of a three year old, hooking up is not even an option at this point.
“Maybe, but don’t you feel anything towards him.”
“Pity. He is in a rather embarrassing situation right now, and your father doesn’t handle embarrassment well.”
“When are you coming back?”
“I don’t know kiddo, possibly when you father is cured, possibly sooner, just tell Beverly it’s okay to return to the house. Thomas was only using that threat as a scare tactic.”
“Deanna, I want you to be my mother.”
“Kiddo, you asked me to get your father and frankly I can only handle one request at a time.
· * * *
“Deanna, I really appreciate you staying on and becoming one of our team, we could use a new view on the situation.” Picard began, other scientiest nodding their head in agreement, “I know you don’t have much of a scientific background, but any new ground you can achieve will be greatly appreciated.
“I’ll do what I can.”
The door of the conference room banged open, and little Will Riker arrogantly (as much as a three year old can do) strode into the office. “I believe it’s about time the Captain joined the meeting concerning his crew.”
Few of the scientist snickered at the sight of the bib overall clad child with a man’s determination coming out of his mouth, but both Deanna and Picard nodded approval.
“Will, anything you can remember would be appreciated, anything.”
“Thank you admiral, and if Deanna could boost me up, I could relay something I have been hiding until now.”
Deanna lifted the young Will Riker up, and Will closed his eyes momentarily, relishing the joy of having Deanna’s arms around him, secretly hoping that this wouldn’t be the last time.
“What is it Will?” Picard asked, “It’s not like you to keep secrets.”
Will was silent for a moment, and Deanna took the opportunity to pretend that Will was not Will Riker her Imzadi, but Will Riker her child. She could almost picture giving birth to such a perfect little Riker.
Will took a deep breath, “I wasn’t alone on that ship.”
“Of course not, you had your crew with you.”
“Yes, and somebody else too, Admiral.”
“Her name was Q, she was a rebel Q breaking away from the other Q’s, and I gave her freedom in exchange for a favor.”
“What kind of favor?” Deanna’s eyes narrowed.
“She became you.”
The room erupted in chaos.
“Will, you can easily be discharged from Starfleet.” Shouted out Admiral Picard.
“You were probably punished by the other Q.” said one of the scientist.
“Or that Q blew up in the crash.” Said another scientist.
Will looked concernedly over to Deanna, “I don’t care about what they say, what do you have to say?”
Her eyes glassed over, “You could of had me. But instead you chose to be with . . .a imposter” She got up from the table and ran from the room. Both Will’s and Thomas eyes followed her out the door.
The shouting continued, but Will ignored it, and walked over to Thomas instead, “I can’t go after her, but I don’t think she should be alone.”
Thomas nodded, got up from his chair, and ran after Deanna.
Will sat down on the table, and rubbed his head in agony, between how awful he was feeling, how awful she was feeling, and the stress levels in this room, his three year old sized brain was going to explode.
* * * *
“Thomas I want to go home. I want to be with Beverly, I want to be with Risa, and I don’t want to be anywhere near your brother, no matter what size he is.” Deanna started to throw her clothes into a bag. “A Q? That is just so wrong on so many levels.”
Thomas, wanting to stop her pain, pulled her from her closet and pulled her onto the bed and into his arms.
“Thomas, now is not the time to play cutesy.”
He leaned towards her, and laid a highly erotic, incredibly forceful kiss on her surprised lips. Deanna fought for a moment, but letting his familiarness overcome her, she soon found herself wrapping her arms around his neck and returning the favor.
Feeling Deanna’s eagerness, Thomas pushed her farther onto the bed, “This is so right.” he mumbled into her ear.
Deanna sighed, feeling fourteen years of locked up passion slowly becoming unleashed, “Don’t stop Will.”
Thomas hesitated, his mind urging him to continue and take her, for technically he was Will Riker, while his heart screamed for him to stop, telling him this is not how he wanted her, under false pretenses.
Deanna looked up at his, “Don’t stop imzadi, please.”
Thomas recoiled, and pulled him off of her and backed away from the bed.
“What’s wrong?” she looked up at him in surprise.
“Deanna, I’m not Will, I’m Thomas, and although I am part of your imzadi, I don’t think it’s the part you want. I can’t do this.”
Deanna stood up from the bed, “Well this is embarrassing.” She stood up from the bed and began to straigten herself out, “Will you at least help me get home?”
Thomas nodded, “Let’s do it now.”
* * * *
Will sat cross-legged on the table, as theories and possibilities were rambled off around him. He wondered what Thomas and Deanna were doing. He thought of trying to link with her telepathically, but reasoned that if by some chance her and Thomas were in a compromising position, he didn’t want any knowledge. It would kill him.
“Well it obvious there is only one thing we can do.” Admiral Picard announced, causing Will to break-away from his daydream to look up.
“We must make contact with the Enterprise’s Q, and beg for compassion.”
Will moaned, and laid his little head, in chubby child size hands, “Captain, for one thing he hates me. For another thing, we haven’t seen him in twelve years. Not since the original Enterprise crew dissolved into other areas.”
Picard nodded, “Yes William, but what other choice do we have?”
* * * *
Deanna materialized back into her mother’s house, to the eargerly awaiting Risa and Beverly.
“Deanna!” Risa ran up and hugged the woman, “I’ve missed you.”
Deanna hugged the child back equally as tightly, “I’ve missed you too.”
“Well,” Beverly raised her eyes to Deanna, “What is Will’s condition.”
“You mean other then making decisions with everything but his brain.”
Risa looked up to Deanna in surprise.
“I’m sorry, that was uncalled for, he’s still a child-size man. Seems he was transporting a runaway Q on his ship, and it is believed that maybe the wrath of the Q continuum is what got him and his crew into this mess.”
“Our Deanna.” Risa whispered.
Thomas rejoined the meeting, just as it was about to break up. There was really nothing anybody could do until someone had made contact with a Q.
“Thomas,” Will looked up at his brother, “Where is she? What happened?”
“I transported her home Will. I guess it’s pretty obvious now that she was not infectious.”
Will nodded, and held his hands up for his brother to help him down, “That is probably the best place for her.”
Thomas grabbed his brother around the waist, “I’ve been thinking, if/when a Q is found it is pretty likely they are not going to lift this punishment, right?”
“Thanks for the ray of hope.”
“No seriously Will, what are the odds.”
“Probably not good why?”
“Will, I want to take your place.”
“With Deanna I assume.” The little Riker asked sarcastically.
“No with the punishment, I’d like take your place.”
The little Riker grabbed his brother’s hand, and urgently began to yank on it, “What are you proposing.”
“There has to be some way, since we are one, to switch our memories, to place the essence of me into you and to place the essence of you into me.”
“Because Will, fourteen years ago I planted Wendy Roper at your bachelor party in hopes of getting you in a compromising position to break up your engagement. And, because I never wanted to hurt Deanna, and that is all I have done. I love my Imzadi to much to see her suffer anymore.”
Will held his tongue when he heard Thomas refer to her as his Imzadi.
“Well, do we find a doctor crazy enough to perform this or what?”
Little Will looked up at his brother, “Thomas it’s a generous offer, but I am a Captain and I have to stay with my crew.”
“Damn it Will, there you go again, placing work before Deanna. I’m giving you this opportunity to have a family. Screw Starfleet, I’ll cover. I’m pretty good at pretending to be you.”
“Will, I’m laying it out for you, but just know I’m not going to let a catch like Deanna go. If you don’t take this opportunity, I will.”
“What you are proposing to do is bizarre.”
“Our whole relationship is bizarre. Nothing that comes out of my mouth should surprise you.”
“Will, I could have taken her in that room a few minutes ago, except she kept calling me you. She wants you. I want to give her what she wants.”
Little Will looked confusingly down at the floor, “Can I think about it?”
* * * *
Beverly sat in her room reading when her personal communicator came beeping to life. She walked over to where it sat on the table, and flicked it on. The image of a small boy, with deep blue eyes appeared, along with Thomas Riker.
“Will,” Beverly guessed.
“Beverly can you transport down here, as secretly as possible. We need your help.”
Beverly agreed to help, before even knowing what they needed her to do. She didn’t care, and told them to save their breath until she got down there. If by some weird chance, what they needed would finally bring Will and Deanna together, it was worth it.
Once leaving her communications with the Riker brothers, she crept passed Deanna’s bedroom, and went into Risa.
“Risa, honey, I need your help.”
The girl sat immediately up in bed, “What’s wrong.”
“Nothing is wrong, but your father needs my help. Do you think you know enough about the transporter to get me down to where I need to go.”
“Yeah, but Deanna would probably be a safer bet.”
“Yes, she probably would, but your father doesn’t want her to know about where I am going just yet. Not until he can be sure whatever needs to be done can be done.”
Risa shook her head in confusion and Beverly shrugged, “I didn’t get details, all I know is they think I can help them.”
Risa nodded and climbed out of bed, “If my father needs you, then I’ve got to get you down there.”
* * * *
Beverly materialized momentarily in Thomas Riker’s quarters.
“Deanna doesn’t know, does she?” asked a fearful little Will Riker, “I don’t want to get her hopes up.”
Beverly shook her head, and bent down to be at his eye level, “You know, you are a cute little kid.”
Little Will rolled his eyes, “Beverly, that was so inappropriate.”
“Sorry, so guys spill it, why am I here?”
“We want you to help us switch bodies.” Beverly looked between the two of them, her face draining of color, “Please tell me your joking.”
“Why, you can’t do it?” Thomas looked at Beverly, “this is important.”
Beverly backed herself into a chair, and sat down, “Yes, I’ve read that it can be done if the DNA is a close match.”
“Well I can’t think of two people any closer then us.” Thomas piped up.
“Yes, but one of you is in a three year old body and one on you is in a 55 year old body. Do I get any sort of medical team for back up.”
“Well . . .actually Doc, if you agree to this, it’s a solo mission. We can’t exactly let anyone around here know about this switch.”
“Oh, this is getting better and better. . . .where am I performing this little operation.”
“In this room.”
“I have research to do, I have tools to find, I can’t just do this tonight, I’ve been out of practice for fourteen years.”
“This isn’t going to work. . .we need somebody who can finish this project tonight. Waiting till tomorrow, could be to late.”
The three sat in a depressed silence, not any of them knowing what to do.
Suddenly it dawned on Will, and in his excitement he began to jump up and down, “I know who, I know who, I know who.”
“WHO?” Beverly and Thomas asked in unison.
“Data. We have to find Data.”
Will ran out the door before anyone could respond. Beverly and Thomas shrugged their shoulders helplessly and followed after him.
“I hope Deanna appreciates this.” Beverly muttered as she huffed and puffed beside Thomas in pursuit of Will.
Will had run ahead to scientist hall in Starfleet command center, where Data had been residing for the past four years. Little Riker knew exactly where to go, and before long began to pound madly on the android’s door.
“Data open up, emergency. Data open up.”
The door slid open, and Data, looked out and then down, “Can I help you little boy?”
“Data, it’s me Will Riker, I need your help.”
Beverly and Thomas ran up, “Data, he’s not lying. . . it’s a long story . . .but we need you to do a body switch. We need Will in the adult body, and we need Thomas in the child body, and we can’t let anybody know about this switch. Can you do it?”
“Of course I can, but it is highly unethical.”
Will groaned, “You should have learned by now that sometimes one has to be unethical to Starfleet’s commands for the better of the whole.”
Data nodded thoughtfully, “Your right. But I need more incentive then that.”
Beverly stepped past Will, to put her arms firmly on Data’s shoulders, “Then don’t do it for the better of the whole. Do it for love.”
“For love . . .the one emotion I have yet to fully grasp in my pursuit. The one emotion that I think I understand, and then a whole new aspect is introduced and I am confused.”
“Yes.” Beverly shook her head violently so that her red hair bobbed up and down, “Do it for the love Thomas is showing towards Will, do it for the love Will is exhibiting towards his daughter and his imzadi, do it for the love you feel towards us, frankly I don’t care whose love you want to use for a reason . .JUST DO IT.”
Data nodded, “Okay, bring them in, I’ll do it.”
Beverly sat next to Thomas’ body, anxiously awaiting the revival of Will Riker.
Thomas had awoken several hours before, quite healthy and to his surprise quite happy. He told Beverly he had always wondered what it would be like to be a child, and now, he was given that chance. ”Dee . . . “ came a whisper from Thomas’ dry lips.
”Will, it’s Beverly . . .please come around. We’ve got to get you out of the space station and home to your family.” Beverly whispered.
“We can’t get caught now, it’s to close.” Will eyes fluttered open, as he fought to maintain consciousness, “Did it work?”
”So far, so good.” She extended her hand, “I swear, once we get to Betazed I’ll let you rest. However, right now we’ve got to go.”
Will slopply nodded, and made several attempts to grab her hand before successfully getting a tight hold. Beverly pulled, and by something short of a miracle, Will got to his feet.
”You okay.” Beverly asked, swinging his arm around her shoulder, and letting the brunt of his weight lean upon her for support.
”Yeah, I think so . . .I just feel so old.” Beverly smiled, “Welcome back.” * * * *
Will and Beverly made their way to the transporter room, where Data happily assisted them to transport back to Betazed. Within minutes they were safely materialized back onto the base of Lwaxana Troi’s ancient transporter.
”Deanna, Risa,” Beverly called out, as she helped Will hobble to the nearest chair. No answer. Beverly quickly ran through the house, calling out Deanna and Risa’s name, no one responded.
”Will, maybe they went out.” Suddenly the sound of Deanna’s laughter floated through the windows from outside.
Will immediately perked up in his chair, “They are in the gardens.”
Beverly quickly went to his side, but he brushed her away, “Not this time Bev, I’ve got to do this myself.” ”Will don’t be a martyr, you just went through a major traumatic experience, it’s okay to ask for help.” Will ignored her and pulled himself from the chair, to his feet. “I’m fine, I am operating on love.” He walked over to the sliding glass door and led out to the gardens, and painstakingly made his way outside.
Risa and Deanna laid on their backs in the lush green grass that blanketed the Troi gardens, gazing at the fluffy white clouds and picking out shapes.
“What do you think that one looks like,” Risa asked, pointing at a particularly large round cloud.
“A chocolate sundae.”
Risa giggled, “You think EVERY cloud looks like chocolate.”
“What can I say, I can’t control what the clouds look like.”
Will, coming up to the two, found himself stopping and standing back to watch the two from afar. His heart swelling with pride as he saw the two converse like mother and daughter.
“How about that one Deanna.” Risa asked, pointing to the right.
Deanna sat up, “Will?”
“Dad? Really? I thought it looked more like a daisy.”
Deanna looked to her right, and then to her left, where she spotted Will standing about thirty feet away. “Risa, it’s your father.”
Risa sat up immediately, “Dad,” the girl bolted to her feet and started running full speed towards Will. Will opened his arms and within moments Risa was safely inside them.
“How’s my favorite planet?”
Risa rolled her eyes and kissed him on the cheek, “You know you could come up with a different endearing phrase any day now.”
Will laughed and hugged his daughter tighter to him.
Risa leaned over to her father’s ear and whispered, “I really like her, don’t let her get away again.”
Will smiled and let Risa go, “You know last time I checked I was the father and you were the daughter.” “Last time I checked your smuggling a stow-away Q that turned you and your whole ship into three-year olds.”
“Point well taken. Why don’t you go inside to see Beverly and I will see what I can do in the love department.”
Risa nodded and ran up the garden path back to the house. Will headed off to where Deanna had taken a seat under a willow tree.
“Yes, I am.” He sat down on the ground next to Deanna, “I guess you can finally get Risa out of your hair.”
“Oh,” Deanna picked a blade of grass from the ground, and focused her eyes on it, in hopes of not blowing her cool, “I really didn’t mind her staying here. She is really a well behaved girl. Are you taking her back on your ship?”
“Actually, I don’t work at Starfleet anymore. I am currently . . .let’s just say taking an extended sabbatical.”
“Really?” Deanna felt her spirits perk up a bit, “Well you two are welcome to stay here as long as you need. Mother had built more rooms in this house then an old maid like me needs.”
“Old Maid?” Will chuckled, “Deanna I can think of many descriptive terms for you, beautiful, intoxicating, intelligent, breathtaking that fit your persona 100% more then Old Maid.”
Deanna let the blade of grass fall from her hands, as she turned her face and met Will’s gaze. Without needing another word to pass between them, verbally or telepathically, they drew together for a kiss. A kiss that would lead them to the love that they had strived to achieve for half their lives. A kiss that would finally lead them to complete happiness and total fulfillment.