::: One :::
"Damn it!" he spat, the throbbing between his eyes urging his sensitive fingers to seek out the door he'd just recently tried to amalgamate with.
Will?' Deanna's voice enquired. No doubt she had felt or heard the collision. He couldn't see but he soon felt her guiding hand, leading him back around to sit quietly in one of the comfy arm chairs.
He felt something wet seconds before he heard her call for Beverly. "I'll be fine." He whined, wincing as the vibration of his voice refused to help the pain rattling around his forehead.
"Well when fine stops bleeding then I will call her off." She sighed and sat down before him. He could vaguely see her blurry shape as he cracked open his eyelids.
"I'm sick of this." He moaned, wiping away a small droplet of blood from his nose before she beat him to it. "Think she'll lock me away in cotton wool?"
"She might, but I won't let her unless I can join you." She grinned getting up to gather a cool cloth from the replicator. Wiping his forehead and then his finger clear, she gently kissed him tenderly on the lips.
He sat there feeling useless. He couldn't even head to the bathroom without knocking himself out. Just as the brooding clouds of depression closed in, the door to his quarters whooshed open, and in strode the doc.
"To think I spent decades to get a degree in medicine just to patch up the first officer twice a day." She joked, immediately regretting it as she saw him drop his head into his hands. "I'm sorry Will, I didn't "
"It's alright, I'm getting used to the jibes now." He muttered, standing up awkwardly, only to find himself suddenly once more on his butt. "Ow". He groaned as the dizziness made his head thud harder.
"Head?" She enquired already running her tricorder.
"And a door edge." He grumbled as she held his head up gently with her thumb and trained the dermal regenerator over the small bump and gash. Lastly she flicked a light over his pupils. Registering the slow reactions, issuing a hypo for the pain.
"Well for a door edge, I'd be sending Worf down to arrest it. Nasty knock Will. Take it easy next time alright?" She gently squeezed his shoulder, finally turning to Deanna, leading her to the door.
"He'll be fine. But he's still barrelling around too quickly from what I've seen." Bev whispered, glancing back to see Will stumbling off again towards the bathroom, this time missing the doorjamb just in time. "If he keeps doing this, we'll need to safe proof his quarters again." She shook her head. "I don't want to treat him like an invalid, but "
"I know." Deanna smiled. "He just gets so upset when I move things out of the way."
Placing a hand to her friends shoulder, Beverly crossed to the doorway waiting for the doors to swish open. "And if we don't move them, then we'll never get any sleep." She winked, moving away to allow the doors to close in time before Will groped his way back into the main room.
"I need a coffee." He muttered, feeling his way to the replicator. Smiling as he made it safely. "Coffee, hot." He ordered.
"That beverage is not allowed." The computer intoned.
"Coffee, warm." Deanna's voice requested. Letting her fingers gently rub the tightly clenched fists till they unclenched. As the beverage swirled into place, she sunk her empathy into him, smothering the internal angry fires with love and understanding.
Grasping his coffee in one hand, she steered him back to the couch and passed the mug safely to him. "I'm not a baby you know. I can see well sometimes."
"You're my Imzadi. And part of any Imzadi's duty is to be there for the other."
"But it's not your position to train the computer to talk down to me." He grumbled.
"Just drink your coffee." She replied, kissing his cheek, thrusting his drink into his empty grasp and moving away before he could retaliate.
"You're getting faster." He smiled. The space growing colder beside him.
"And later every morning. I'm amazed the Captain hasn't fired me." Deanna adjusted her jacket, Checking for errant hairs. "Must be due to my dalliance with a certain injured exec officer."
Will quietly settled back into the couch and sipped his lukewarm coffee. "I'd swap for a first right telling off on the bridge any day from sitting here trying to recognise the difference between walls and doorways."
"Well I will get one if I don't hurry." She grimaced slightly; hating to abandon him for the one thing he craved duty. "I'll come back for lunch, we might even try heading to Ten Forward if you'd like a change."
She watched him sink into the couch back. The mixture of fear, embarrassment
and anger was familiar every time she mentioned him leaving his quarters. In
here no one could feel sorry for him. Out of sight out of mind he'd said the
first time she'd suggested it.
"Rabeem Imzadi" She said warmly before slipping gently along the bond into his mind. She watched as he sucked in a sudden breath, his back straighter as she encircled his soul and caressed it. Exiting the doors, she held on a little longer, finally letting the caress go once she'd located the turbo lift. Deanna sometimes wondered if it was worse to embrace him this way, letting him go alone; but watching the depression sink in once the caresses had stopped was too painful for her to watch.
Entering the lift she blinked back a heavy veil of her own tears, and straightened her uniform looking for imaginary creases. She was a counsellor and he a grown man, but could she help him without her heart getting in the way? Looking up to the turbo lift ceiling, she called on the deities to help her find a true path. Because if she got lost, there was no hope that Will Riker could ever tread the path he once did.
::: Two :::
The mellifluous nature of her empathy removed itself and then he was alone again.
Will Riker's coffee was cold, his body unwashed and his career shattered. But nothing of that nature compared to being left behind by the one you love. Deanna was only nine decks away, but it felt like light years without her connection. And she did it not out of spite, but because he, Will Riker, was a distraction to her duty.
Feeling useless he lent forward to plonk the cup onto the coffee table, missing it by inches as a dash of disorientation caught him off guard. Saying nothing he bent once more and picked up the now empty cup, blinkered against seeing how the coffee stained the white padded table legs. He was used to this, and grateful for the carpet being of self-cleaning technology. What Deanna didn't see, she didn't have to avoid in conversation.
Planning his day was easy. Spill frigid coffee, stumble and connect with at least three pieces of furniture or wall if preferred, shower, listen to latest fleet news on audio and sit on ass till Deanna came over for lunch. Going crazy from boredom was a sure possibility.
But as Beverly had said. "You can still use the holodeck and gym Will, just ask for someone to go with you first." What? And die of embarrassment by asking some poor ensign to chaperone their commanding officer? He was a tall strong Alaskan man, not a frail old lady!
But when Will had attempted his first outing without aid, he'd soon found out how frightening a world could be without sight. Sounds were familiar but hard to place, voices he was sure he knew were often wrong, and the myriad of corridors once easy to navigate now taunted him. If it wasn't so serious, he'd have laughed at how the annoying computer access panel requested his input every time he accidentally pressed it with his fumbling fingers tracing the line of the walls.
Whether Deanna had felt his panic or some crewmember had let her know, her fingers had wrapped around his elbow and led him home again. Since then he'd become afraid of the outside world. His quarters marked a boundary he was still getting used to, but far less open to starring eyes if he got lost or stumbled into an intersecting corridor.
Deanna knew he was terrified in facing those he worked with daily, but she also insisted that that fear was unfounded. The crew in fact were missing his commanding presence and unique humour. Even Deanna said she missed his humour.
Dragging his sorry self upward, Will shuffled past the dark fuzzy image that was the table, and felt his way into the safety of his bedroom. Smaller and with only a bed to navigate, he felt the safest here.
The bathroom wasn't so great a friend though. Deanna's safe proofing irritated him and the replacement of his hygiene apparel galled him. How did a virtually blind man trim a beard without cutting a swath in the wrong direction? Easy remove anything with a sharp edge so he's reliant on another's help.
Grumbling about over protective Betazoids, Will ran a hand over the rough stubble on his cheeks and shock his head, soon regretting the vertigo it caused. Being completely blind would be Ok, but when you can see smudges of dark and white, nausea was commonplace.
Fumbling through the large white space of the bathroom, questing fingers soon found the sonic shower controls and commanded them into action.
Since the recent accident, Deanna had enjoyed one side effect, the lack of clothing dumped on the floor. Death from tripping over his own discarded clothing was not something he wanted to experience more than the first four times he had nearly brained himself. Carefully disrobing, Will folded his pyjama bottoms and dropped them in the corner before grasping his way into the sonic stream, washing away the grime of a sedimentary life.
::: Three :::
Excusing herself from her last client, Deanna tiredly ran a hand through her long curly locks and focussed herself on Will. His liquid emotions were calm and serene indicating sleep. Smiling, she bade her thanks to her assistant finalising her next day's appointments and headed to Will Riker's quarters.
Here recent theory soon proved true as she knelt down beside the bed and watched as her big blue-eyed giant slept peacefully and blissfully unaware that he was being watched. His forehead free of creases, and his mouth wide open and snoring, she soon left him to his dreams to enjoy her own shower.
Moving back into the bedroom, tying her robe around her slim waist, Deanna smiled as the ruffled form of Will Riker struggled upward. One hand grinding an eye socket and the other bracing him from behind.
"I'm sorry I woke you Imzadi." Deanna apologised, sitting beside him on the bed edge.
He shook his head and smiled. "Only went to bed early because there was nothing else to do. Now there is." He grinned.
"Got a little bored did we?" She teased, kissing his cheek and moving away to fetch her hairbrush.
Hearing her move around the room, Will's head followed her comings and goings from the bathroom entrance. Fingers questing the edge of the bed, as the door chime rang.
Moving aside the warm covers, he soon swung his legs over the edge, and stood upright making sure his pyjama bottoms were still descent.
The sound of Beverly's voice made him cringe. "It's that time again?" He groaned.
Taking in his undressed ruffled appearance and Deanna in her nightgown, the normally unflustered doctor blushed. "Did I interrupt something?"
Deanna laughed. "No. Was just going to join him in bed after a long day at the office."
Beverly critically examined the sleepy giant as he fumbled his way through the bedroom entrance, white fingers grasping the doorway as he unsteadily swayed from his recent awakening.
"I can feel your x-ray vision." He groused. Knowing she was analysing and not just watching.
"He doesn't wake up too well does he." Beverly replied. "You slept? How long for?"
"I don't know, a few hours I guess." Rubbing his other eye socket tiredly.
At Deanna's confirmed nod, Beverly frowned. "I'm a little worried about your hours of slumber Will."
"It's just boredom Bev. What else can I do? Weave baskets?" Snarling at his ineptitude.
Beverly waited patiently for his anger to subside. Motivated shortly into action as he swayed suddenly. A wave of dizziness exacting its revenge for getting up too quickly.
As she placed a steadying arm around his waist, Beverly Crusher discovered his core temperature was up. "Will, how do you feel?" Reaching one hand up to gently place the back of her hand across his sweaty forehead.
He sighed and turned his head away from her hand. "Hot. Lungs feel alright."
"A fever?" Deanna asked worriedly. Will's current visual impairment had been caused by a faulty shuttle seal. The sudden decrease in oxygen affecting not only his lungs but also his eyes. Ensign Corvas had been permanently blinded by the effects. Will, lucky enough to garner only a small amount of retinal damage.
Beverly decided to keep them all calm by ignoring the question, soon directing Will to the nearest chair before he dropped. Checking his temperature he was well above normal levels, his perspiration shell increasing as she scanned. "I'll need to run more tests but for now I want you back in bed with a good dose of anti inflammatory in sickbay. Even though you feel alright, I'm suspecting your tender lungs are to blame. Your eyes are bloodshot too." She frowned.
Will's mood dropped even further. The promise of repaired eyesight falling beyond his reach again. "So we'll need to delay the surgery till the infection is gone?"
Applying a hypo of inflammatory, she nodded, regretting her action to the virtually blind man before her. "I'm sorry Will, we need to beat the infection before attempting surgery. What we performed right after the accident was dangerous enough, but necessary in giving you partial visuality." Seeing his despair, she placed a caring hand to his shoulder. "Once we confirm it's just a bad fever from crashing into walls, then we can concentrate on finding a solution to your sight." Giving him some small hope.
He nodded slightly, waiting for the sound of Beverly's medicorder to finish its scan, before accepting his dressing gown from Deanna. The silence from his Imzadi only confirmed what she was feeling from the doctor, dread.
"Do we beam or walk?" He asked, not even waiting for Beverly's official report. He was worried. Slightly blind was frightening, but the thought of completely blind forever terrified him. He took a deep breath to steady himself.
"I'd prefer to tuck you into bed to get some rest, but I just want to make sure these readings are not indicating something malicious." Beverly surmised. "Feel up to transporting to sickbay? I don't want to elevate your temperature any further with unnecessary exercise."
"If it doesn't involve running into walls I'll do it." He smirked, trying to keep his spirits up. "Not that I can run." Earning him a comforting squeeze from Deanna.
"Well to sickbay it is." Helping him to stand upright and away from the furniture, embraced either side by Beverly and Deanna. "Three to transport to Sickbay". She ordered, soon followed by the queasy feeling of being pulled apart and reassembled into a bright lighten sickbay ward.
::: Four :::
A smattering of quiet voices could be heard chatting to his right, Deanna still clinging to his left, as the brightness of sickbay bothered him. With partial sight of white and dark, the extreme contrast of the sickbay diagnostic lighting affected him more than the dimmed lighting of his own quarters. Sharp daggers of pain speared his affected orbs, forcing him to drop his head and closed his eyelids. His soft groan of pain encouraging Deanna to rub his arm in a calming manner.
"Ok Will, lets get you settled and we'll run a few tests." Beverly encouraged him to hold her elbow, as his other hand covered his eyes, following her to the biobed before lying down, still guarding his eyes from the brightness.
"Computer dim lights to 40 per cent illumination." She ordered, taking out a small torch and removing his arm to gauge his sensitivity. "Alyssa, if you could record these readings." He heard. Soon followed by a cold tip and hiss of a hypo to his neck.
As the silence grew longer, Will began to sweat uncomfortably. 'So?" He urged.
Beverly Crushers sigh didn't help his fears. "That not a good reading." She muttered quietly. Before Will could ask her what she'd said, the doctor began ordering a barrage of medication, issuing hypo after hypo till Will angrily halted her actions.
"What the hell are you giving me?" he shouted as his eyes began to burn from a liquid solution she'd applied. Tears pouring down his cheeks as the pain crescendoed. Thrusting upright on the biobed he began to sway until two able bodied med techs laid him flat back onto the biobed once more.
"Relax Will." Crusher commanded. "I've given you something for the lung infection and I'm also dosing up the fluid levels in your eyes. It's going to be uncomfortable but we've got to stabilise beore we cause further cortical damage." Dropping a few more drops into his burning eyes. Alyssa's gloved fingers holding his eyelids wide open.
A few agonising moments later, Alyssa removed her hold, and the barrage of medics moved aside to allow him to finally curl to the side. Deanna gently squeezed his left shoulder in support as the CMO perused the latest readouts. Scanning the biobed readouts as often as her hand held tricorder for confirmation.
"So?" Will repeated. Aware he'd asked the same thing only a short time ago.
Ignoring his question, people continued to move around him, fussing about the excess meds streaming from his watery eyes, and whispering their diagnosis.
"Answer me dammit!" He ground out as he balled his fists in impatience, feeling like a trapped lab rat. Anytime he made the smallest of movements to get up, foreign hands instantly settled him down.
"Just relax commander." Beverly ordered, handing out a series of pads to her assistants. "Thing are looking positive but I don't want to be too bold just yet." Her own hand now gently rubbing his right shoulder in compassion.
"Can't see." He commented with gritted teeth. Holding down the panic that was rising inside with limited luck. "Everything's dim." The waiver in his voice belaying his outward poker face. Deanna helping to pull him flat to his back.
The tightening of Deanna's hand around his warm fingers, indicated her worry as it notched up another step higher. "Beverly?" She queried, fear for her Imzadi's future evident in her tear filled eyes.
"It's the meds Will. It's too early now for confirmation that we've evaded the lung infection, but if these results remain stable then we'll celebrate with a spate of optical surgery in the near future." Her report delivered in calm, unflourished truths that registered their impact on the large Alaskan man as a grateful sigh.
"Still stinging." He replied as she shone a small torch from pupil to pupil. Holding his chin steady as he flinched from the bright light. "Thirsty too."
A few moments later and his biobed was raised up to a sitting position, and a glass of water held to his lips. Its cool freshness abating the dry thirst that had taken up residence. "Just relax and let the meds do their work Imzadi." He heard as Deanna moved aside his errant lock of hair, and proceeded to wipe away the residue that kept leaking from his tortured eyes. The combination of narcotics and the soft feel of medical wipes in even strokes, began to lull him into an early state of sleep. Deanna's comforting words soon doing the deed as consciousness evaded him, and pain free dreams took hold.
"He's out Doctor." Alyssa confirmed, as the first officer's head lulled to one side, facing the love of his life. "Shall I continue with the eye-washes?"
Beverly nodded, as she scanned his bio-signs carefully. "Keep the washes going every ten minutes. At least he won't feel the stinging sensation now that he's let the sedative take him under." Giving her staff member a warm smile. "And get a low flow mask onto him. I want to make sure there is fresh oxygen flowing through that lung tissue."
"Deanna, can I talk to you in my office?" Hating to tear her friend away from her partner.
Planting a light kiss to Will Riker's cheek, Deanna apprehensively pulled herself away from her objective of concern. "You're worried." She stated, instantly recognising the same empathic imprint she'd felt from Beverly the first time she'd confirmed Will's possible blindness.
Beverly sighed, before turning to give herself time to construct the right words to say. "We've halted further damage to his sight by catching the fever early, but as for eradicating this virus fully his system, I can't say."
"You're halting his surgery."
Beverly nodded. "I can't take the chance of damaging his eyesight further. Oxygen damage was the main cause, so to operate now with his lungs infected would be too dangerous." Picking up a padd she handed it to Deanna who took a shaky seat opposite her. "The Ensigns eye sight was compromised further because his lungs faulted earlier and was seated closer to the exit hole in the hull. However, Will's eyesight is holding, but he's still having trouble processing oxygen as it is. And this is not the first time the infection in his lungs has appeared."
"And you feel that if you fix Will's eyesight while he's sick, there's a high chance of progressing his blindness further." Deanna gasping at the doctor's theory.
"That's if I can fix it. I've been reviewing the process. He needs specialist help, something I fear I can't give him." The doctor shook her head. "I don't know how to tell him that this degree of blindness may be permanent if we can't operate for safety reasons, or we choose the wrong option." A hint of tears in her eyes. Will Riker was as close to her as a brother could be. The man was always there for everyone, but when fate decided to knock on his door, it was as if all she could do for him was not enough.
Deanna placed a caring hand to Beverly's forearm before standing. "I'll tell him. But only once we know a little more about his predicament." Moving to the door edge Deanna turned back to her friend and colleague. "He needs all the hope he can get, or he'll never survive being disabled." Tears in her eyes as she exited the entrance and headed back to his side.
Doctor Beverly Crusher, CMO to the Federation's Flagship, the USS Enterprise, sat within her office and let the tears finally fall free.
At first everything was dark. Not just dim, but pitch black. The sudden fear of finding oneself without an inkling of where the hell you are, struck the heart of Will Riker at high speed. After the following few seconds passed, the sensation of a wrap carefully placed over his eyes, relaxed him somewhat.
The soft feel of the eye wrap taunted him to the point where he grabbed the clasp, without even waiting to see if he was alone within the room, and released the covering.
The blinding light was only at half illumination, but enough to make him wince and duck for cover under the shadow of his own forearm. Waiting a few beats, Will finally allowed a smidgeon of light bit by bit in till he could finally handle the blurry white fog that was his world.
His eyes were still damp from the solutions they'd applied, but his throat was parched. The thirst finally urging him to fumble his way upright to a sitting position. Not a sign of a hand to stay his movements or a tut tut from Beverly. "So far so good." Will croaked to himself, feeling his way around the edge of the bed until a wave of nausea left him cold and clammy. "Damn meds." He continued to grumble, as he sat quietly till it passed.
Sliding out from the sheets, Will let his feet touch the cold floor before leaning out, fingers questing till he came across his dressing gown. Dressed in only his pyjama bottoms, the gown was a welcome relief from the far from warm room. No doubt they'd wanted to keep him cool, rather than too warm with the recent virus revival.
A few knocks here, a few stubbed toes there, Will finally discovered a smooth wall to follow. He'd already managed to knock his oxygen facemask to the floor, when his hand slid over the side table, obviously they felt he didn't need it anymore.
Guiding himself along its length with the backs of his knuckles, an alcove appeared. Tracing its surface Will smiled. "Computer. Glass of water 10 degrees Celsius." The familiar whine of the food dispenser made him smile. But the sound of glass shattering by his feet as he misjudged its position soon had him cursing. "And I'm bare foot too." He grimaced, as he felt something sharp prick his left footpad.
Ordering another glass of water, this time he took care, and drank deeply before trying to ascertain where he was within the room and how close the bathroom facilities may be. Heading off in a forward motion, careful to try and walk around his broken drinking glass, Will Riker went discovering.
Doctor crusher let out an expletive before Deanna could see the carnage. The bed was empty, the first officer was MIA, and a bloody foot print trail could be seen leading away from the remains of a shattered drinking glass on the floor.
"Even drugged and blind he's trouble." The red haired vixen grumbled, making her way along the scuffed trail of blood. It wasn't a huge bleed out, but enough for her to surmise that he was limping with a small cut or two.
"Well I don't feel his pain. Just a kind of fuzzy feeling." Deanna said blank faced. That far away look that indicated she was elsewhere. "I think he's dozing." Her own raised eyebrow showing her confusion.
"Well he better be enjoying it." Beverly grumbled, following the scuffed bloody foot trail to the ensuite bathroom. Hopeful that he was only using the facilities, Beverly knocked on the door edge, a trait she'd learnt from the first officer.
With no reply, she progressed further in, discovering a discarded gown dumped near the entrance and the sound of water running. "Well someone got a little too warm." She mused discovering Will sitting in the shower bay, naked to the waist. His pyjama bottoms plastered to his legs from the cold shower water.
Moving to his side, Beverly immediately ran a hand over his hot forehead, thankful as Deanna turned off the water and knelt beside him. Will was propped up in the corner of the shower cubicle, his head lolling to one side as Beverly tried to shake him awake. "Will? Can you hear me?"
Deanna draped a towel over his shoulders and another over his lap as she began to worry, Beverly's unease raising her heartbeat. "Commander!" The CMO commanded.
Will's head whipped up, his crystal blue eyes widening in shock, coughing briefly as he tried to clear the phlegm in his chest. "There's those blue eyes I've been waiting for." She grinned. "You alright?" Waiting for him to get his bearings.
"Hot." He grated over a dry sore throat. "Feel better though." He continued, shivering a little from the excess water as it dripped from his hair. Each droplet blazing a trail down his chest and back as he sat further upright.
"I think it's time we moved you back to bed and organised those specialists." Beverly grumbled as Will Riker tried to fight off her grasp.
"Specialists?" Will and Deanna both chimed. The doctor smiling at how joined at the mind they could be.
"That's right. Now lets get you upright and walking and we'll discuss my current plan." She urged, clasping his forearm and guiding him in the right direction.
"So what's the plan?" Her captured patient queried, trying not to wobble as she altered his current direction. The ball of his left foot stinging.
"Getting you to bed, but after that we're going to organise a little trip planet side. And yes, get those eyes looked at by a specialist." Beverly informed them, watching as Will's shoulders came out of their customary slump, and Deanna's facial expression spoke volumes. There was hope in Beverly's voice and they'd heard it.
"Where are we going?" Will prompted as he felt the biobed gently knock against his behind as Bev spun him around. Sitting down he waited as the white silence of blindness taunted him.
"Somewhere you'll be very familiar with." Beverly grinned. "Betazed."
Deanna's jaw dropped. "The institute?"
"Well at least we'll have free accommodation, though I'm not sure I'm going to like the company." Will grimaced. Wincing as Deanna lightly cuffed his shoulder.
"Will! At least you know her house layout." Deanna teased.
"Might want to move some of those garish vases out of the way. " Beverly added.
Will grinned. "Make that everything. One swipe and I could destroy half of Deanna's cultural inheritance." He sucked in his breath suddenly as he felt Beverly grasp his injured foot. "Dropped the damned glass." He explained.
"So we noticed Will." Her voice laced with understanding but bubbling with sarcasm. "I know you're a rebellious guy, but do try to refrain from damaging yourself further. " The Doctor tittered.
Dragging a hand through his sweat damp hair, Will knew he was being watched. Feeling the heavy weight of silence as the Doctor ran her dermal regenerator over his bloodied foot. "So when do I get out of here?" As the few small words excited his mouth, Will didn't need his sight to see Beverly Crusher roll her eyes.
"Focus on 'when you can leave for Betazed' and I assure you, you'll be a lot happier with my answer." Leaving him befuddled, the doctor packed up her things and wandered out of the room, leaving Deanna behind to smile at Will's look of confusion.
"Am I alone in thinking I'm stuck here for a lot longer?"
Deanna smiled and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders. 'I think you're lucky she didn't sedate you." Giving him a quick kiss to his cheek, she helped him lie down. 'This time. Now get some sleep."
As Deanna squeezed his hand, she began to leave until he called out softly "Imzadi?"
"Imzadi." She repeated, watching his eyelids flutter over his barely seeing eyes.
A warm smile appeared upon his lips, and the mellifluous feeling of humour flowing across the link. "Promise me you'll protect me from your mother?"
Laughing lightly, Deanna embraced the good cheer he was sharing and kissed him tenderly good night.
It'd been two weeks of intensive checking, but finally he was here, or there. He wasn't quite sure. All he knew was the slicing of reality as the transporter cut you free from one moment to a new moment.
There we no significant differences except for a brighter brightness and a warmer breeze. A breeze in fact was a big clue. The Enterprise's self contained environment didn't allow for breezes except for in the Arboretum. But as for which planet he was now standing? Who knew
"William! So good to finally see you. You poor soul, let me show you to your room. Oh dear do you think he can make it up stairs? He is very quiet, you sure it wasn't a brain injury?" The twittering conversation could only mean one planet.
"Mrs Troi, please " Will pleaded for her to stop dragging him forward. But Deanna beat him to it.
"Mother don't do that." He felt a set of fingers enclose around his bicep, pulling him to a stop as Lwaxana let go of his hand, leaving him even more lost.
"Excuse me, but could someone just tell me what direction I'm facing and I'll find the door myself." He grumbled. Annoyed at the way they were both treating him.
"You are disabled, why would you think you're not?" Lwaxana claimed, reading his mind without a care about his rights to privacy.
"Mother!" Deanna stressed. Her voice taking on that not so nice edge that always terrified him. "Just give him a few moments to get his bearings, he'll be fine to find his own way." The fingers moved from his bicep to rest upon his cheek. "You're facing towards the north side of the house, The rose trellis is off to your right."
Will nodded in thanks. "I'll be fine to find my own way Mrs Troi." He said, moving off to find the doorway.
"Poor boy." Lwaxanna sniffed.
Deanna sighed heavily. "He's not completely visually impaired." Turning to see her mother shed a tear. "He'd prefer it if you didn't make a fuss either." Placing a comforting hand over her mother's and following the brave man before them.
A few minutes later and Will was swearing as he nearly tripped on the lower step to the back terrace. "Last time I came through here I was climbing your damn trellis." He grumbled. Deanna smiling as he commented on sharp pointed flowers matching the owner of the house.
"Blind boy having trouble?" Lwaxanna harshly commented as she read the anger he'd directed towards her. "I can read minds William, just remember that." Having scorned her victim, she grabbed his hand once more and dragged him through the door regardless of the expletives.
Before Will could utter another curse, he found his hand on the banister to the upstairs bedrooms. "Follow it up and three doors to your right. Your usual room William so you should be able to refrain from falling from my balcony." And with a light scented waft, she left the two 'little ones' alone.
"Well that went well." Will groaned. "I can't keep my mind clear, run into walls and block her at the same time Imzadi." His slight apology already accepted before it had exited his lips.
"Rabeem Imzadi." She kissed him lightly and helped push him up the stairs. "She only meant well. She doesn't know how to treat people normally let alone someone incapacitated."
"Nice choice of words."
"I'm being truthful Will." Deanna replied. "One more step to go." She added. "You do realise that you're not making it easy for me. Mother is hard to control at the best of times, let alone when my fiancé is stirring the pot."
"Well I am a chef." Placing a hand in front of him, Will turned right, and left the safety of the banister, hoping Deanna would stop him from getting into further trouble.
"Next doorway." She hinted. "And that was a pretty bad pun Will."
Sensitive fingers found the door handle and he progressed through the doorway after twisting the handle. "I never said I was a professional comedian. Did we get our bags sent down earlier?" changing subject.
"Yes, and by the looks of it, she's had Mr Homm place everything away for you. Your shirts are hung and I've never seen your shoes so shiny." Said Deanna peering into the guests' wardrobe.
"Great, I spent hours scuffing those." He winked, hopefully in her direction. She was moving around the room a lot. So instead of becoming dizzy trying to follow her, Will took a seat on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry about earlier."
He could feel her watching him. "I just felt a bit off from the transport."
"I know." Taking a seat beside him. "Beverly said you might be a bit queasy. Why don't you lie down for a bit and rest a while. I'll come wake you once mother has calmed down."
It didn't take long for him to nod in agreement and climb back further onto the bed, removing shoes and shirt as he went. Wrapping him lovingly in the quilt she bade him sweet dreams and left him to sleep off his fears and regrets.
As Deanna exited the room, slowly closing the door, she nearly jumped out of her skin. There at the top of the stairs was her Mother, Lwaxana Troi, concern written across her face.
"Is he alright little one?"
Deanna nodded and gently indicated for them to head back downstairs. "I'm sorry mother. He doesn't handle concern or criticism well."
Lwaxana understood, in fact she feel shamed for firing him up. "It was my fault for invading the poor boy thoughts. An old woman like I should have learnt a long time ago to stay out of William's mind."
Deanna stopped on the last step as Lwaxanna floated towards the sitting room in a sea of silk. "Just Will's or every terran male?" She teased.
Her mother smiled, with her back to her daughter. "Just William. He has too many erotic images of you, swimming in that primal mind of his. Not something a mother should witness." Finally turning round and taking a seat amongst an over cushioned throne like chair. "Now, shall we have tea or do I need to make amends by bathing his feet."
Deanna found another over stuffed chair and plonked herself into is, relishing in its cosiness. "I think tea will do. He might not appreciate a foot massage. He'd forever be worried you were reading his erotic thoughts of me." Giving her mother a cheeky smile.
"Tea it is. Mr Homm!!!" She called out. "Tea please before we all become heathens." She laughed joyously, glad she hadn't hurt the tenure between Deanna and herself.
The sun was warm as Will sat on the verandah, surrounded by fragrant jasmine, entwined around the metal filigree. The smell a blessing for one not too sight-worthy. He'd woken alone to find the house quiet. It was still early if he was correct about the house and sun angles that graced his right stubbled cheek.
"I need a trim." He mumbled, feeling the rough border between beard and newly fuzzed cheek. Thoughts soon ran to Lwaxanna. Considering his temper yesterday he was surprised he still had a head attached to his body. "Got to work on those emotions billy-boy."
Deciding it was time for a shower he braced a hand on each side of the armchair and forced his weary body to stand. It was warm for so early in the morning, a light sweat covering his brow. Gently he forced a hand forward till he found the low verandah rail and followed it to the wall that led back to his guest quarters.
Will could discern dark and light shadows, so the opening was easy enough to follow inside, it was the decorative furniture that he wasn't so sure of. For the first time in ages, he'd begun to appreciate the land mine sweep Deanna had performed on his quarters back on the Enterprise. She'd moved everything to accommodate his long stride and usual patterns of wandering.
"Dammit!" He swore as something golden and ridged met with his shin. Rubbing the tender limb he managed to navigate around the ornate item and find the wall adjoining his destination.
Little did he know that a person, breakfast tray in hand, was standing in the hallway, afraid to embarrass him further. A single tear rolled down her cheek. "Poor boy." Lwaxanna murmured. Entering quietly she left her peace offering by the bed in hope he'd smell the food, and left.
"You didn't have to do that mother." Deanna catching her closing his door.
Her mother blushed a little, soon straightening her spine and smoothing out her clothes, ironing the imaginary wrinkles away. "Do what little one? Never mind, lets move away from the door, I'd loave for him to think we were eaves dropping." Soon pulling Deanna along with her.
Indicating for Deanna to take a seat within the overly furnished sitting room, Lwaxanna parted her sorrow. "I grieve for how badly he has been injured. He feels he'll never make Captain now." She confessed having read William's thoughts before she'd even realised it earlier. "He even worries about burdening himself upon you, little one."
Deanna sat back heavily into her over cushioned chair. "It doesn't matter how many times I tell him, he's not a burden, Will keeps believing it." She sighed heavily.
"Terran males dear." Lwaxanna patted her daughter's knee in comfort. "Your father was the same way. It's why I haven't said anything to him. They need to wallow in their own emotions, and behave like cavemen before they'll even let us in."
"I guess I should have listened to you after all." Deanna smiled. "I'm sorry for thinking you didn't understand."
Lwaxanna warmly enveloped her daughter into her embrace. "They're so hard to crack, but when we finally sneak a peek inside we can't let them go."
Deanna sighed. "So how do I tell him it's not all over?" For the first time, Deanna had found herself in an unenviable position. Over time she'd aided Will Riker through many post-away mission troubles and concerns. But to have her own fiancé injured and fearing he wouldn't be loved or worse, would hinder his lifetime partner, she was finally at a loss.
"Love him." The wise words of Lwaxanna brought her daughters eyes level to her own knowing gaze. "A man like William can't resist the bond and the physical."
"Mother!" Deanna stood shocked.
Reaching forward, she grasped her daughter's hand. "Little one, he's just like your father. He too couldn't resist the touch of a Betazoid mind." Smiling she too stood and took in the sight of her distressed daughter.
"He's fine. In fact right now, he's more concerned about the bitter taste of the breakfast I left him." Smiling warmly.
"Oh mother you didn't give him dried Oskoid for breakfast?" Deanna Troi instantly sent out feelers, discovering a slightly peeved Riker. "You know he doesn't eat the dried variety, it's too unique a taste."
"Well if the boy can eat gagh, then he can eat dried Oskoid. Besides, it's very good for body toxins. And I also wanted to take his mind off his appointment." Winking evilly.
Their close moment soon broken as both winced. Deanna feeling the pain soon after Lwaxanna witnessed the pre-eminent fear of tripping backwards. But soon the mood changed to one of embarrassment and frustration. "Leave him be." Lwaxanna offered. "Let him sort himself out. If he wants help he'll ask for it. I'm sure he knows we know." Lightly tapping her temple.
Deanna still unsure made her way to the bottom of the stairs just in time to her watch her Imzadi seek out the handrail. He gripped it tightly and tentatively shuffled the first foot forward, stopping soon after taking his first step. "You missed a great prat fall earlier." Now aware of Deanna's presence below.
"I wouldn't say missed." Gently rubbing her own head. Waiting as Will began to descend the stairs again. "Enjoy breakfast?"
"Your mother left that tray didn't she?" Will grumbled.
"Only for nutritional purposes William." The matriarch swinging into his path to gently guide him down the last step. "What I laid out for you this morning, was for detoxifying that poor poisoned body of yours."
"That's what the hyposprays are for Mrs Troi." Will said tiredly, as she pulled him into the sitting room, soon dumping him into a chair before he had a chance to disagree on where he was going.
Gently rubbing the back of his head, he soon found his hand being moved away by Deanna as she inspected the damage. "You'll live." Planting a healing kiss to the area.
Smirking, Will faced where he thought Lwaxanna was sitting. "Can't get away with anything here."
"And you thought Beverly was cloying." Deanna teased before forcing Will to shuffle over so they could both sit on the couch comfortably together.
"I do hope my antique dresser faired well in your little tango." Lwaxanna added, pouring a cup of fragrant tea. Her heart went out to the man as she took in the glazed eyes. The bright blue orbs were there but they seemed off in a way. As if he was starring into space while thinking about the past. "And call me Lwaxanna, dear, I've told you many times."
Will smiled, but quite frankly the dead silence of the room now made him restless. The quiet frightened him, and the silent observers were no doubt watching for his next move. Feeling self-conscious Will cleared his throat and squeezed Deanna's hand within his own. "So when do we head off to the Institute?"
Squeezing his hand back, Deanna sunk into his emotions, aware of the fear that was hiding in the shadows. "We've got an appointment with Doctor Tzian this afternoon for preliminaries, then it's a nervous wait till they decide on further tests or a solution. Won't be long now."
He nodded in acceptance. "Promise me something?" He waited till she nodded. "That you'll tell me everything they don't say." The whole reason for his trepidation in the first place was the wariness of being consulted by telepaths who thought amongst themselves and tended to forget those non-telepaths amongst them. At least Deanna's empathy would clarify their findings. Whether they were beating around the bush or had high hopes of his recovery.
"Anything for you." She answered with a kiss. Her hand gently reaching up to graze the tender lump at the back of his head. Being Imzadi meant she had an insight into any hurt, any pain, and right now it was still throbbing. "Can I get a hypo for you?" watching his barely sighted eyes crinkle closed.
"I'll be fine. Just another bump." Shrugging off her concern, and trying to bury his humility.
Sensing his thoughts and witnessing the blush to his cheeks, Lwaxanna rose from her seat, brushing off imaginary lint. "Well it's best I leave you two. I have a conference in a few days to attend to. And tardiness in my preliminary report due to family diatribe won't do." Deanna stood and held out her hands, embracing her Mother's warm caring fingers, silently thanking her for her foresight. Deanna and Will needed time alone to adjust for the possibility that the appointment that afternoon could have ramifications for Command positions and rank on board the Enterprise.
"Be well little one." Lwaxanna said aloud for Will's benefit. "May the deities shine upon you both." Turning her attention to the silent man before her, she smiled. "My daughter cares about you deeply William, use her strength regardless of what happens today or tomorrow." With a rustling of fabric she bode her way further into the house to her enormous writing room.
Will sat quietly absorbing her words. "I must have hit my head harder than I thought. Was your mother just nice to me?" Deanna swiped a light cuff to the back of his head before she knew what she was doing. "Arghhh." He groaned as she hit the tender bump.
"Oh Will I am sorry." Her hands fluttering over the site.
"No, my fault. Karma works fast in this household." He grimaced with a side-loped grin. "Might need that hypo now though." The thumping within his veins growing harder. "Head's killing me." Carefully resting a hand over the sore point.
Deanna concerned watched him carefully. "How bad is it?" Knowing he was hiding some of the pain behind a thin wall, one he had been building earlier as he'd sat before her mother.
"It's a real blinder." He jibed, hoping she'd laugh at the joke he was making of his present sorry condition. Instead he felt the breeze change beside him as she headed off to gather the medical kit Beverly had given her shortly before leaving the Enterprise.
Rubbing gently at his blurry eyes. He sighed deeply. If it wasn't bad enough being technically blind, it was the way people radiated concern. Swearing under his breath, Will tried to work out how he'd managed to end up dancing with the furniture in the first place.
Deanna breezed back beside him again. The sound of the plastic moulded medical kit, being placed onto the low table before him, and the snap release of its lock made his stomach swirl. Sickbays and medikits were not his idea of fun.
"It's only a painkiller Will, not a Delushian Snaffle bug." Pressing the hypo against his neck and seeing him flinch. Watching the crinkles either side of his eyes soften as the meds did their work. "Let's get you comfortable, this might make you a little sleepy."
"I'll be fine." He said, standing up and swaying lightly. "Just need to doze off a little upstairs." He muttered, counting the steps to the stairwell once letting go of the couch back. The parlour trick worked well when combined with discerning the light and dark shadowy forms. "I'm sorry I'm a burden." Will whispered as the drug began to swish through his system.
"Oh Will you're not a burden." Deanna tearfully announced, feeling his heart constrict with pain for her. "I love you Imzadi." Circling her arms around his waist before he tried to mount the stairs.
He nodded as she slipped into his mind, embracing his soul and showing him how much she meant to him. "I..I.." He stumbled. "I need to go. I just need to lie down a bit."
Deanna knew he was about to pass out but let him go by himself, feeling his appreciation as she let go; placing his hand on the banister. "Be careful Imzadi. I'll come by later to make sure you're ready on time for our appointment."
Will smiled internally as her use of 'our'. He wasn't alone, his confused mind told him, but did he want to be alone if this darkness was all he'd ever face again? Lost in his mind, he continued up the stairs after a quick kiss to the love of his life, and found what he thought were his guest quarters.
Passing through the doorway he soon stripped off, watching his balance as the drugs took him down, and slipped beneath the covers of the bed. With the last of his strength he bade Deanna good night via the bond and promptly fell asleep.
The sound of musical laughter woke him from the deep sleep he'd fallen into from the meds. The light tinkle of Deanna's laughter warmed his heart but at the same time bade him to wonder what she was so humorous about.
Cracking open tired eyelids, his first reaction was that it was night time until his mind recalled the last few weeks of hell. 'Blind dammit!' he reminded himself mentally.
"Deanna?" He queried, letting his hands grope sideways to find the edge of the bed. The soft silk sheets whispered against his warm naked skin, the usual bed linen for the Troi household, but the one difference was the feel of lace crinkling the pillow edges. 'Lace?'
"I'm here Will." Deanna sweetly replied. Placing a hand to his shoulder to help him orientate himself upright.
"Why were you laughing?" Rubbing his eyes, forgetting the rules, as Deanna swatted his hands away. "Sorry."
"We need to get you out of here before mother finds you." The small Betazoid trying to drag him upright in a hurry, thrusting a pile of discarded clothes into querying hands.
"And I can see why." The voice of Lwaxanna chimed.
Will suddenly dropped his pile of clothes lower to cover his wares, immediately aware of how naked he was before Mrs Troi. "What's going on?" Confusion written all over his face as he ignored Deanna's grip on his forearm, trying to lead him forward.
"Nothing my dear, just that you were sleeping in the wrong room. Though I must say you do look gorgeous wrapped in sheets of pink and lace." Her voice teasing the tall broad male who was now furiously blushing crimson.
At first, Deanna felt his shock then his humility, though short lived as a short sharp burst of anger sizzled to the top as he stormed forward, hopefully through the doorway.
Catching him before he clipped the dooredge, Deanna pushed him sideways and led him back to the right room. Will well aware his buttocks were on show to the daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed. But a behind was better than pure frontage he thought as he felt Deanna shove him forward, suddenly closing the door behind him.
"Am I safe?" He asked, hoping she understood the double entendre, safe from peering eyes and safely within his own room. His was still seething with anger at his own folly.
"It's alright Will, I'm just sorry I didn't find you earlier before mother noticed." She could feel the burn of his emotions. "Here, take a seat." Navigating him to one of the opulent chairs opposite his true bed.
Before Will could rant, a cup of tea appeared within his hands. "I came up to wake you for your appointment only to find you across the hall." Sipping her cup of tea.
"Damn these eyes!" Will hissed in anger. His fingers tightening around the circumference of the cup, threatening to break it.
"Will it's alright." Deanna soothed. "Let's get you showered and dressed for your appointment." Rubbing a hand up and down his bicep. "Then we can blame the eyes afterwards."
Will looked up confused.
"I'd rather blame your sight for sleeping in my mothers bed than come up with another excuse to stop her thinking you're trying to court her." Giggling as Will blindly swatted in her voice's direction.
The anger dispersed and a warm glow of humour replaced its brooding cloud. "I know I apologise often of late, but this I really am sorry. Ending up in your mothers bedroom is the last place any clear thinking male would want to go." Will smirked back, realising how funny it did sound.
"Come on stud, lets get you up and ready." Stealing his cup away and guiding him into the bathroom.
"Do I need to be worried about my mother-in-law seeing my ass before the wedding day?" The candid question catching her unawares. The cheeky nature of his emotions were swimming with tidal waves of love and ripples of childishness.
"Wedding day already Imzadi." Kissing him lovingly. "Shall we book it for next Friday?" Playing with his happy mood and enticing a cheeky grope from the naked man she loved before her. "Just shower and get yourself ready or we'll never get out of here." Returning her dress fastenings before she lost all abandon.
Leaving the bathroom she heard the water running and the warm welcoming sound of Will humming night bird. The heir to the fifth house smiled, her heart swelling with love.
"Look straight ahead."
Will did as instructed, seated within the confines of the diagnostic chair, listening to the rustling of the doctors' clothing and the clink of tools being used and replaced upon the table off to his right.
The shapes of light and dark moved around in front of him as the doctor perused his condition. The instructions, poking and prodding had been going on for what seemed like hours now. But sitting patiently, Will realised he had nothing else to do but let time pass.
Doctor Tzian was calm and quiet for a Betazoid. Focussing on his patient's impairment rather than what was on Will's mind. If he had, he'd have noted the phrase 'it can be cured' being repeated over and over again in hope. "I see the medication plan Dr Crusher used, confronted the original damage. Are you still administering eye drops and anti-inflamatories?" Will jumped a little, his mind busy focussing on the positive.
Deanna moved incrementally on his left. "Yes. Though Will has had a painkiller earlier today, due to a nasty knock on the head."
"Was rushing around too confidently." Will added with a smirk.
"Hmmm. Your movements are slightly sluggish. We will need to book you in tomorrow for another verification of these affects before I proceed with my current surgical theories." The short ophthalmologist specialist was busy entering notes into one of many pads he'd used throughout the appointment.
"There is hope?" Will asked. Trying to keep his heartbeat normal and his head level.
The Betazoid Ophthalmologist viewed the vacant gaze before him, taking in the slightly worried features. This Terran Male obviously valued his eyesight for job purposes, but did he realise that it would never be the end of the world for him?
Tzian inhaled slightly, aware that his next comment could call down the fury of the fifth house. Watching as Deanna Troi calmly stroked the man's bicep. "In all ways there is hope, but is it what you are seeking? I'm not sure."
Will's frown deepened into confusion. "Seeking?"
"I think what Dr Tzian means Will, is there may be problems restoring all of your sight. He can't predict the end result without attempting the experimental surgery in the first place." Deanna calmly letting Will know as she tightly held back her own panic.
Dr Tzian nodded thankfully. Very aware of how tall and large a man Will Riker was. The Terran had already made a mess earlier just by entering his room too quickly. His assistant was still looking for some of the surgery tools knocked askew when Will had promptly wandered into a tech assistant, tray in hand.
To both of his observers, Will seemed to suddenly deflate. Shoulders bowed forward as he dropped his head into waiting palms, his fingers massaging his throbbing temples.
"I will require you to take two supplements tonight before returning tomorrow for a few final tests. From there I can then narrow down the options for restoring a greater percentage of sight than you now have." Tzian walked quietly away, leaving the man to gather himself, as he entered a few notes on a padd for the tech assist to order up.
He turned to take in the Betazoid royalty, knowing that the constant mental touches to the common Terran, were more than comfort. He'd seen Imzadi before, and had heard the rumours. "Miss Troi, if I may have a quiet word alone?" Sorry to separate them.
Deanna nodded, letting a nurse take her place. "I'll be back in a moment Will." Concerned for his morale.
Moving into the doctor's office she took in his nervous fidgeting. "How bad is it really?"
The wizened old doctor swallowed hard. "Forgive my impropriety, but as a daughter heir I feel that I should be honest with you. Does he have more clarity while linked?" He gulped a little with his forwardness.
Deanna took a seat, taking her time to answer. "We're not linked." She lied. "Will's mind blind."
Tzian prayed to the deities for the breach in etiquette he was about to make. "That I am aware of. In fact so is Starfleet, but what they may not know, is the genetic link between Imzadi lineage and the great houses. The way he behaves around you. The brief inkling of what is before him is all down to what he feels from you via the bond."
He waited patiently for the verbal tyranny for crossing the line of decency but none came. "Is he using the bond to aid his waking life?"
Deanna looked to her hands, unsure whether to verify his theories. Placing a warm smile to her lips, she squirmed a little. "Seems I haven't been covering my tracks well enough. The trouble of working with non-telepaths in a closed ship's environment." Deanna blushed.
"I am sorry Miss Troi, but I need to consider all variables if I am to give him a proper diagnosis." He apologised. "Take him home, and prep him with the meds tonight. We'll see how the final tests run tomorrow. But I do ask that we perform the tests without your presence."
"I doubt he's even aware of the bond's benefits." Deanna mused. "All I ask is that you never mention it to him. He already thinks he's a burden regardless of how untrue that is." Blinking away the gathering moisture within her eyes, Deanna Troi heir to the fifth house focussed her attention on the wayward prince standing in the doorway.
"Deanna?" She heard him call. "Is everything alright?" No doubt he'd felt her distress via the bond. A young nurse tagging along behind, trying to halt his near collision with the door edge.
"Everything is fine Will. Except for your ability to stay put when told." She tittered, halting his entrance before he connected with the good doctors desk.
"Well it seems all the fun was over here, nothing but hypo jabs and sharp implements back in there." He cheekily jibed, circling her waist and enjoying the familiar within the unknown clinical environment.
"You seem to be squinting Commander. Are you exhibiting cerebral trauma?" The Doctor questioned, causing more pain as Will tried to work out what he meant.
"A headache? Just a slight one. Might be from the bright lights."
"Or your phobia of sickbays." Deanna added, running her hand gently over his warm forehead. "Can I take him home now?"
"Certainly Miss Troi. My assistant will hand you a padd with his scheduled medications, along with his return appointment for tomorrow." Turning to Will, the Doctor smiled warmly. "And never fear Commander Riker, you'll be in good hands."
As Will and Deanna bade their thanks and exited the clinic, Dr Tzian sighed with relief. Discussing the bond of Imzadi's was a cultural taboo, but from Troi's reactions, the doctor had a good feeling that his directness had been valuable to both of them, and even more so for their patient.
Making Will comfortable, Deanna reached forward to grasp the med packet, Dr Tzian had handed her. 'Stop that." She commanded as his arms wrapped themselves around her waist, pulling her in close. "I need to get you medicated on time or we'll have to put back your appointment again." The last word she forced a little harder. An unscheduled emergency had occurred at the clinic, and two days later Will was finally about to be doped up for the procedure the following morning. It was only for test purposes, but it was integral before the Doctor would even contemplate surgery.
"Party pooper." He grumbled, slowly agreeing to let her be.
Pulling herself away from Will's octopus arms was hard but a necessity. "Settle, or I'll have mother apply your hypos." Watching in mirth as she watched Will slump and pout at the same time. "Good boy." She teased, as she slipped out the first hypo, adjusting its quantification node.
He jerked in reflex as the soft hiss indicated the hypo had done its job, soon followed by a second hiss as Deanna applied the final dose for the night. "All done Imzadi." She whispered next to his ear as his consciousness swirled around the dark hole that was pulling him in.
"Love you Imzadi." He slurred, as blue eyes fought to stay at half-mast.
Deanna held his hand close to her heart as she watched him fall into a deep medicated sleep. After a few more moments, the urge became too much, and Deanna Troi divested herself of her footwear and climbed onto the bed to lay beside him. Curling to her side, she rested her head upon his chest, tucking under his chin. Embracing the strong deep whispers of his lungs and fierce beating of his majestic heart, she too soon fell asleep. Imzadi bound within the embrace of Imzadi.
Deanna wandered the heavily blooming garden trails with Lwaxanna by her side. It'd been over an hour since they'd left Will in the caring hands of Dr Tzian and his specialised team.
Reading her thoughts, Lwaxanna pulled her daughter in closer. "He'll be fine little one. The bowing and scraping of Tzian proves he will do better than his best just to impress me."
Deanna smiled at her mother's ego. "I just don't like leaving him alone. Will seems so breakable without his sight." She sighed deeply, remembering the fear that coursed through his being on a daily basis.
Lwaxanna paused beside a delicately fringed tree, heavily laden with cascading pink flowers. "Fear is natural for one who has always been in command of his life and others. He's terrified of losing everything he risked to get where he is, and being visually impaired would eventuate that loss."
"No matter how many times I've convinced him I'll always be by his side, he seems to have days where the male depressed ego takes over, and I'll find him ready to leave me, fearing he'll be a burden to me." Deanna shook her head in confusion. "I'm a counsellor and still I can't crack his psyche some days."
"Dr Tzian was right though. I've probably ruined a majority of the tests just by being by his side." Stopping to partake of one of many benches luxuriously spaced around the medical centre's garden, the young Betazoid counsellor finally smiled at her mother's surprised look. "He said my bond with Will was giving him some sight. Not enough to see but enough to give him a sixth sense as to where someone or something may be."
"Tzian mentioned the bond? How rude!" Lwaxanna complained, soon smothered by a light smattering of laughter. "Well it didn't help William locate his guest accommodation the other day."
Deanna replied with a warm smile. "I think that was the medication mother." Gently patting her arm.
Seated in the shade of a large tree, the bench was magnificently located. Before them lay hills of green, dotted with varying species of Betazoid tree, the sweeping vista leading off into the distance to where the sun had risen that morning.
"Yes dear, he will be able to enjoy this view with you. And no doubt very soon." Her mother eavesdropped. Soon pointing to the auspicious tall shadow of Mr Homm meandering up the green slope to their left. "Seems William is ready to be collected. Come little one!" Her high-pitched voice frightening a flock of birds into the sky as she shuffled off in a train of ruffled silk.
"Let us see how well he finds his bedroom tonight." Lwaxanna's tease filling the air as Deanna hurried to catch up.
Will woke slowly, hearing quiet whispers by his side. The beep of medical monitors and titters from someone to his right confirmed that he was still at the medical centre being poked and prodded.
"Not anymore Mr Riker, you'll be free to go momentarily." Dr Tzian replied, reading his thoughts without a second thought. "My apology." He added hearing Will Riker's comment about nosey Betazoids.
Shaking his head to clear the sedatives, Will struggled upright till his arms were braced behind. Taking in the light and dark areas of the room he discerned two body shapes moving about. One stationery by the door analysing something in their hand and the other by his side. "You'll find the drugs will wear off over time. But for now, staying still on that bed may be the best idea until the Ambassador and her daughter arrives."
Will nodded slowly before adjusting his wobbly arms to lie back down. "So what's the prognosis?" A note of worry in his voice.
But before Dr Tzian could answer, a new bunch of shadows entered the room.
As soon as Will felt her, his awareness of objects around him intensified. Tzian had been right about Will Riker's ability to siphon off information subconsciously from Deanna when in close proximity.
"Hello Will." Deanna's warm voice almost purred in his ear as she took a seat on the edge of his bed. "Miss me?"
"I always do." He replied, a loving smirk on his giddy face. "Come to bust me out of here?"
"As always Imzadi." Laughing at the constant that was Will and sickbays. Always in them, always fighting to get out early. "But lets see what Dr Tzian has to say first."
Deanna could feel the anxious energy from Will the moment she had entered the centres' front doors, knowing he too hadn't been told yet.
The doctor nervously sat upon a stool opposite Will and Deanna, pushing up his glasses before formulating a reply. "Well the preliminaries went very well. The second line of tests however weren't as satisfying. But from what we've deduced, there is a definite chance of revising some sight. As to how much I am unsure."
Will and Deanna sat quietly. Lwaxanna, by the entryway had been silent the moment they'd both entered, giving her daughter the space she needed with her Imzadi. Will seemed crestfallen till Deanna sent him some comfort. The tall Terran soon nodding in agreement. "It is better than darkness." He answered verbally. "Not to mention how my big toes will enjoy the improved vision." A forced smile appearing on his poker face.
He struggled upward by himself until Deanna hastily moved to his side. Helping him straighten upright as a wave of dizziness threatened to sent him sideways. "How much improvement?" He asked.
"It all depends on whether the starved oxygen capillaries can be unblocked and the damage regenerated that deeply. We won't be replacing your eyes, but the process is even more invasive, entering the eyeball itself with program activated nanites." Dr Tzian halted his report as he felt Will's revulsion.
"No no, not Borg nanites." Holding up his hands to stave his patients urge to run. "These are specialised medical nanites developed right here in my laboratory for ophthalmological repair. Nothing at all to do with those evil creatures."
Will shivered a little in repulsion. "When the repair is done, are they then removed?"
Dr Tzian smiled widely. "Of course. They're too beneficial to leave swimming around a cured patient. The time alone to construct and program replacements would be considered wasteful." Moving towards his lab counter, Tzian picked up a small vial, starring at it lovingly. "These are the sum of my lifetime of study and your saviour Mr Riker. Not a throw away toy."
Deanna felt Will's uneasiness pass and a form of curiosity rise in its place. "When can we perform the operation Dr Tzian? I know I speak for Will as well as myself that we would like to get underway as soon as possible."
'Wellll ." The Doctor paused and perused his schedule. "The readings are fresh enough to do it right away, but I would prefer that Mr Riker return tomorrow after a good long rest. Let the residual drugs from today melt away first." Holding up a hand he waited for his patient and fiancé to settle. "I do ask that you think about the consequences if the surgery does not turn out how you'd wish."
"My chances?" Will prompted.
"Anywhere from 50% upwards in returning some sight, but please be aware that there is also the chance of further damage. The procedure is so delicate, that one small mistake could make you permanently blind in whichever eye we were attempting." Tzian watched the body language and snuck a glimpse at the Commander's thinking's.
Will sat quietly, trying to make out the individual fingers of his and Deanna's, from the blurred blob that was their clasped hands. "My whole life in Starfleet has been based on risk. To turn my back on the one procedure that may allow me to continue that career would be most unlike me." Raising his head till his glazed eyes faced the doctor's general direction, Will Riker smiled. "Proceed with your preliminaries Dr Tzian, and I'll be here tomorrow ready for your procedure."
"Excellent." The doctor exclaimed. "When you feel ready to leave Mr Riker, please make sure my assistant has had you sign all the legal approval pads. There will also be a series of specified medications to be taken tonight before your operation can proceed. I will have everything ready to collect momentarily." Giving a deep bow to both Will Deanna and Lwaxanna, he made his way out of the room.
"Are you sure William?" Lwaxanna was concerned. "The sight you have now would be preferable to permanent blindness would it not?" She knew by reading the doctor's thoughts, of how new this procedure was. It was why he was here. The latest research into oxy eye construction this side of the Federation, and yet it was still experimental.
"I need to see." He sighed as he tried to make her aware of his desperation. "Lwaxanna. To be anything other than a pensioned off Starfleet officer, I need to see greater than what I do now. " He replied coldly.
"Is Starfleet that ingrained into you that you would risk your future with my daughter?" Deanna's intake of breath silenced by her mothers "not now" in her mind.
"It's for Deanna that I partly do this." Will calmly replied. "If I was pensioned off like a good boy, then what would Deanna do? I can't let her quit her position on the Federation's flagship just because I chickened out on a chance to still be the Enterprise's XO. I won't be a burden nor will I seek in ruining her chances of a career by giving in to this darkness." Will's chest was heaving by now. Anger boiling up from every sedated limb till he felt strongly enough to finally swing his legs over the bed edge and stand, albeit wobbly at first.
Deanna gripped his arm. "Will, this is not about me, it's about you Imzadi."
"Damn right it is." Anger still flowing. "I want this, I need it, and surely you both can tell that of me." Waiting till he felt Deanna's quiet agreement. Knowing surely that Lwaxanna was doing the same.
"Now if you don't mind, can we get out of here? I've got an urge to eat a horse." Will replied, moving away from the bed to make his first few tentative steps upright.
Lwaxanna laughed. "Better a horse than a Targ William. Let us see what Mr Homm can do." Having witnessed the eating habits of Deanna's last fiancé, Mr Wolf eating Klingon food, she figured watching William eating a horse couldn't be all that bad.
The silken touch of Will's hands caressed her body like a goddess. Blind wantonness driving him crazy enough to fumble and graze every contour she presented to him. No longer embarrassed by his clumsy exploration of her body, the actions in fact provoked their foreplay to such an intensity that it was almost becoming addictive. The lack of sight had certainly not inhibited Will's ability to procreate.
It had in fact urged them on. The medication had been a big catalyst in Will's abnormal sleeping hours, but the sexual appetite of the sight challenged Commander wasn't helping either.
In fact, Mrs Troi has complained about her daughter making too much noise, and how was she to have guests with unguarded thoughts such as Will's. Not to mention when Lwaxanna had scolded her daughter about seducing a disabled man for her own wares.
'But what wares they were.' Deanna smiled as one large hand enveloped her left breast, his sensitive fingers soon finding their way lower.
"Little one!" Lwaxanna's voice tore through her mind. "Leave that boy to rest, he has surgery in the morning."
Groaning with anger at the interruption and the knowledge that she was right, Deanna caught Will's attention via the bond. "Imzadi, we can't do this now."
As if sensing Lwaxanna's impending interruption, Will slumped, face down amongst Deanna's breasts and grumbled about meddlesome parents.
Giggling lightly, Deanna ruffled Will's hair till he gazed up, the pale blue of his eyes and their lost focus a reminder of why they had stopped. "You need to rest Imzadi. Tomorrow is an important day." Kissing his wandering hand as it rose to trace her gentle features.
"You mean your mother is getting horney listening in." With a cheeky grin.
"Will Riker!" Deanna gasped, pushing him off her to grab her peach silk gown. "Go to sleep and behave or mother will come knocking." Tapping his forehead.
Will faked a shiver and rolled over to lie back on the bed, his mighty chest bare and sweat peppered to Deanna's delight. Licking her lips, she knew she had to leave him alone, there would be other nights to devour the delectable body of Will Riker.
"Go to sleep." Deanna repeated, pecking a quick kiss to his forehead before his searching hands could pull her in closer. "Good night Imzadi." She added before leaving the deeply sighing man, for her own bedroom.
Laughing as she entered her own room, Deanna embraced Will's thought send, shivering at what he promised to do once Lwaxanna was absent. "That man needs a cold shower."
[only if you join me Imzadi] he added before finally falling into the inky blackness of sleep.
Lwaxanna rolled her eyes as she waited outside the medical hospital. [Who needs to read about pornography when one can just access Williams mind.] She sighed.
Deanna was saying her last comforting words to her fiancé before leaving; banned from the hospital till the doctors deemed she could return. Due to Will's sensitivity, to the beautiful Betazoid, they'd wanted him to be alone throughout the procedure. Both had pouted at the exact same time until the doctor gave them the standard talk about a higher probability of success if he was removed from her presence.
Eventually Lwaxanna heard her daughters silent wish to the deities, knowing her exit was due. "Come little one, let us go somewhere quiet and sup of the Captain's favourite Earl Green tea."
"Earl Grey mother." Deanna smiled, knowing her mother had made the blunder on purpose to make her smile. She's found Lwaxanna one night sipping the fragrant tea one late night, stating that it did have a calming effect. The bergamot and black tea bouquet reminding her of home. Their home. The Enterprise.
The short wander through the medical complex's gardens brought them to a small café set away from the main eating plaza. The fragrant flowers blooming around their table, relaxing Deanna in a way she didn't think would happen with Will in surgery.
Voiceless, Lwaxanna ordered their beverages. Taking her daughters hand in hers, she rubbed her fingers over Deanna's smooth pale digits. "Rabeem, Little one."
Deanna blinked back the pool of tears threatening to flow from her concerned eyes, and blushed at the young man serving the small cups of brown hot water, returning the warm smile he gave as comfort.
"I think he likes you." Lwaxanna jibed. "Or do you think he wants me?"
"Mother!" Deanna exclaimed, the young man at the bar smiling in their direction, no doubt aware of what Lwaxanna had been insinuating. "Leave him alone, he's only a few years older than Wesley Crusher."
"Hmmmm but he doesn't have that annoying 'know it all" look." Sipping her tea happily. "So what did they tell you? You seemed worried earlier?"
"Oh it's nothing really, they'd already discussed the possible side effects when Will and I gave our decisions yesterday. It was something so benign that I felt a little foolish." Shaking her head, the black curls arranged around her face, bounced lightly in annoyance. "Will could be blinded forever and there I was balking at the one side effect that wouldn't make a difference to his career or our future."
Lwaxanna lent forward urging her daughter on. "it must have meant something to you to be so upset about it Little one."
Deanna snorted and shook her head. "One of the side effects could be a change in eye colour." She sighed. "Dr Tzian said this process can cause darkening of the iris, but on Betazoids it's hardly noticeable. However, due to Will being a Terran, the chances of his blue eyes changing is highly likely." Lwaxanna detected a slight warble in the last sentence.
"And this worries you how?"
"It's silly but .I love those blue eyes. It's what attracted me to him in the first place." Deanna laughed lightly. "I'm sorry, it's such a small price for sight, but "
"But it's what makes him Will Riker." Lwaxanna finished. "That wicked smile, the flash of those blue eyes, nearly brought me, a daughter of the fifth house, to my knees once or twice."
"Mother! He's mine and you know that." Laughing at her mothers taunting.
"It may never happen little one. Lets focus on the positive today until they signal for us to return. Then we can face William's future together. I know he'll be more worried about you." The proud words from one of the strongest telepaths on Betazed rang true.
Sighing Deanna finally smiled a true smile, and sat back to wrap her hands around her Earl grey tea. "That man will make me grey before I need to be."
"Of course little one, that's why hair colouring agents were invented."
Dr Tzian checked the monitors once more before nodding for his co-horts to begin. The large Terran was finally out cold. It'd taken a lot more time than he'd first anticipated, the Terran's natural resistance to the sedative could only be from an ongoing past of sedatives and painkillers. Only twice before he'd seen the same signs, and they too had been Starfleet officers in dangerous positions. It seemed space exploration wasn't so friendly after all.
[Proceed with securing the lids and rigi-placement of the socket holders.] Tzian instructed as he went over the devices on the side table that they would require. As he waited, Tzian watched as Riker's lids were opened and secured. The wide whites and the intense blue iris' starring skyward; still and blind.
[Lets proceed.] Tzian sent as they began to position the nanite injectors over the first eye. [Issue nanites] he ordered, watching carefully on the monitors as they directed their charges to renew each tiny blood vessel one by one. Unblocking, regenerating and restoring oxygen to each vessel. The labour intensive surgery, although performed by the nanites, back breaking as a team of four skilfully encoded and programmed their mechanical staff to slowly return the mans sight to him.
After an hour, Tzian signalled for them to remove the nanites from Will Riker's left eye. They wouldn't know if it had worked till the full operation was over; muscle relaxants had been issued to subdue iris focus till it was over. But from a quick scan, Tzian smiled.
[My esteemed colleagues, let us proceed to the next orb.] And onward the procedure went into the late afternoon.
Will Riker awoke to a headache that somehow was positioned perfectly behind his eye sockets. The heavy laced taste of meds coated his tongue, and the annoying buzz of words were trying to gain his attention.
He lay there letting time wash away the muddy murkiness of his mind, ignoring the words directed at him, soon directed at another.
A few more moments, and a warm hand joined the buzz of words, gently brushing the hair away from his forehead.
"Will. It's alright, you can wake up now." He heard, as he focussed harder.
"The procedure is complete but we can't unveil your eyes for another 24 hours." Deanna comforted him, sensing his confusion. He'd known it was her but even the bond had seemed foggy. What the hell had they put him under with? Elephant tranquillisers?
"It would be the sedatives we gave him Miss Troi. He seemed to have a high tolerance to the original quantities given." Tzian's apologetic words making Will smirk, or at least he thought he was smirking.
"When will we know the final outcome?" Deanna asked. Her words starting to become clearer and more pronounceable as Will's mind thawed.
"Outwardly we should know in a few hours, but as for a determined percentage of returned sight, we will only know after the last of the focus corrections are made." Tzian replied. "First reactions after each nanite integration seemed to meet our expectant parameters. But in the meantime, I shall leave you to wait with your fiancé. He no doubt will appreciate the time alone with you as he recovers." The Betazoid doctor aware of Will's nonverbal request.
"So how long have you been telling him to go away mentally Will?" Deanna whispered into his ear. Tickling him enough to make him flinch and give away his state of wakeness.
"Imzadi." He murmured with a smile.
"You've been blindfolded to give your eyes time to adjust to the surgery, so don't panic about the darkness." Her caring words, warming his heart. After all he'd put her through she was still here by his side.
"When am I going to wake up with you by my side and not in hospital?" He grinned.
"When William Riker stops playing the clumsy first officer." She teased, kissing his lips lightly, leaving a trial of delightful moisture.
"Vixen." He replied, as she moved away from his errant hands just in time.
"Thank you for believing in me." He said honestly, enjoying the warmth of her hands as they returned to brush the errant hair from his forehead, soon gliding down to rub against his bearded cheek.
"For you I'd do anything." Kissing him once more upon the lips but with pressure this time.
Harsh light glided across one eye, adding to the headache he'd woken with earlier. Grunting with annoyance, he was half tempted to swat the light away, but Deanna had both his hands firmly clasped in her own.
Dr Tzian flashed his light pen across the right eye this time and earned Will the same sharp pain as it sliced right through to his brain. "Yeah that hurts, again." He murmured to the silent doctor.
Throughout the examination Tzian had been reading Will's thoughts as he checked and rechecked his findings, noting the Terran's mental comments as impatient and sarcastic. Dr Tzian had warned Will that to get a better result he was going to be thought-read. But that hadn't reeled in Will's dark humoured thoughts.
Even though the light was killing his head, Will could at least see something. It was blurry but clearer than before. To him that was a start, considering that he'd already been warned that a tightening of his focus would be required the next day.
"All seems fine Miss Troi. I believe we can call this a success." Giving a happy little bow to Deanna.
Deanna smiled in relief. "And the colouring?" Indicating Will's dark blue, almost black iris.
"It should settle over time. The last of the stagnant blood tends to surface to the front of the eye, but will dissipate as the eye rejuvenates it's blood supply to the unclogged vessels."
Will smiled too, though he had no idea what colour his eyes were. Red? Purple? "Can I go home?"
Tzian laughed. "Doctor Crusher pre-warned me of your escape tendencies. That is why we gave you extra time to waken." Patting the man's shoulder. "Take him home Miss Troi and we'll finalise the focus tomorrow, say 9:00?"
As Will moved to get up, a hand pressed gently against his chest. "You must wear these blockers till tomorrow morning Commander. Your eyes will still be most sensitive." Securing the thick eyeglasses that no doubt made Will look like an old fashioned science fiction nerd.
"Ok. No removal. Anything else doc?" Will smiled, hoping some charm would get him out of here quicker. Deanna had already sorted out the platitudes long before Will had been allowed to sit up right let alone move to the diagnostic chair.
"Do as your wife and mother-in-law dictates. We will see you tomorrow William." Tzian replied, letting the formality drop for a moment.
"Thank you." Will replied. A heartfelt thanks laden with hope and gratitude sent mentally as well.
"Anything for a fifth son." He bowed and moved to trigger the door panel, letting his patients know it was time to greet the world outside.
"A fifth son?" Will asked Deanna, as she helped him stand free of the chair's embrace.
"Don't say it Will." Seeing the twinkle in his eyes. "There were no other sons. Just you Imzadi." Pushing him forward before he could make another Riker-jest.
"Will?" Deanna called out, hearing the expletive that followed and the pain from the collision. Sitting upright in bed, she noticed her side of the bed empty and cold. It had only been four hours since he'd snuck into her room.
[I'm lost] he sent. The warm flow of embarrassment flooding the bond. [somewhere between your mother's bedroom by the perfume and the stairs I nearly fell down]
Grabbing her apricot gown, Deanna uncracked the door to find Will, hands out straight, feeling his way back to the dangerous stairwell. [Stop!] Sending so she didn't wake her mother.
Wrapping her arms around him, Deanna rested her forehead on his broad bare back. [Bathroom?]
[Been, well I think it was a bathroom.] Scratching his head and damning the thick glasses still secured over his eyes. [Just don't hit me if you find I've sprayed in a corner somewhere.] The thin veneer of humour barely hiding the disappointment he felt within himself for getting lost so easily.
[Never mind Will, lets get you back to bed before you get cold.] Feeling the goose bumps rising along her own arms. Releasing her arms from around him, she placed a hand on his forearm and drew him back from the edge of the grand staircase. Noting that her mother's bedroom door was ajar.
[This way Imzadi] Drawing him back into their room and to bed. Once he was settled back in bed, she returned to her own bedroom doorway to see her mother's door now closed. [Thank you mother] she sent. Glad that she hadn't fussed over Will.
"Now Do you know what we do with wayward men in the Troi mansion?" Deanna teased, trying to break Will's funk.
Curling onto his side to draw her in closer, Will planted his nose into her hair. "Enslave them with your beautiful bodies?"
Deanna giggled, the vibrations registering through both their warm bodies. "We bind them to our souls and love them to the end of the world."
"Just one question which world?" he teased. Earning him a delightfully intense kiss before she told him to go to sleep or he'd be doing it alone.
"Little one!" Lwaxanna called out. "You have a visitor."
"Come along Chandra, she shan't be long. That man of hers is no doubt causing strife again." Giving a chuckle, Deanna's 'guest' winked, knowing what Lwaxana was insinuating. "Found him wandering the halls last night, half naked. A lovely sight." She wistfully added.
"He is your soon to be son-in-law Lwaxana." Chandra laughed. She'd always gotten along well with Deanna's mother, no matter how outrageous she could be in her thinking's.
"And what a shame I didn't pick him at your wedding my dear." Giving a delightful wink. "The family well?"
"Very well thank you. Mother asked me to pass on her greetings. There's a dinner she's organising for next month that she would love your input in planning." Chandra smiled as she saw the glee on Lwaxana's face.
"Always a party girl." Deanna teased as she made her way down the staircase. Hair and dress immaculate and uncreased.
"I see you managed to remove Will from your hair." Teased Chandra as they both hugged each other like loving sisters.
"My hair is like catnip to Will" Deanna grinned, moving a luscious curl out of the way.
"I came to see how Will was coping. It's all over the capital that the emerging Fifth son has been undergoing surgery. I know Tzian's centre is very confidential but you know how minds wander." Chandra apologised for the sake of others failings.
Deanna nodded in understanding. "It's fine Chandra. The Enterprise's gossip-train runs faster than warp speed on occasion." Giving her friend another squeeze. "Brunch?" Hoping her friend would stay.
"Of course, but only if you have time?" Her voice wavering off as she spied Will Riker groping for the banner rail and placing one foot forward onto the first step.
"Hello Chandra." Will smiled, cautiously taking a step at a time.
"Love the sunglasses. Who's the stylist?" She commented as he finally made the final step and fell into her welcome arms.
"Only you could get away with a wise crack like that." Will grinned, pulling her off her feet with a giant bear hug.
"Put her down before you break her William." Lwaxanna chastised before heading off to sort out Brunch.
"It's so good to see you again." Deanna squealed. "Come through to the garden and tell me everything." Dragging Will along as the two began to gossip and laugh.
"Do I need to be a part of this?" Will asked as Deanna forced him into a hard patio chair. "Aren't I the wrong sex?"
"Well we could plait your hair to make you feel like one of the girls." Chandra mused. "Or plait the beard."
"Touch it and you'll get a tickling you'll never forget." He warned.
"Tickling?" Chandra bemused, looked to Deanna for clarification.
"Something male Terrans like to torture you with when they don't get their way." Deanna whispered, moving away in time from a tickling onslaught from Will.
"Shouldn't I be receiving some sympathy here?" Will pouted, earning him a quick kiss to his cheek from Deanna.
"Well I did come to visit you both. I am sorry it's taken this long to drop by. Arix has been incredibly busy with the ruling council." Chandra accepted a drink from Mr Homm as he appeared by her side, laden tray in hand.
"Thank you Mr Homm." The tall mute bowed gracefully with an added smile. The others too, collecting a drink and thanking the lifelong servant of the Troi mansion.
"How are you Will?" Chandra asked.
The sightless man tilted his head to the side and smiled. "Surely there are better things to talk about than my latest boo boos."
"Well my life is pretty boring being the wife of a diplomat, so I make other peoples lives my own." Chandra replied. "I consider you the closest I have to a brother of sorts. So I do care Mr Troi." Digging her boots in.
"If I hear 'Mr Troi' one more time I'm going to cry." Will grimaced. "I'm fine Sis." He added. "Can we move on to something more sizzling?"
"Like perhaps wandering around the mansion half naked?" She prompted.
"Deanna?" prompting as to who leaked that bit of info.
"Lwaxanna." Chandra confirmed.
"Hmmmm" Will seemed a bit perplexed. "For a brazen society that loves nudity, why focalise on me?"
"Because you're handsome." Deanna grinned.
"You're handsome." Chandra confirmed.
"And I'm Deanna's just for the record." He confirmed as he pulled his Imzadi closer to inhale the hair he so desired.
"That's alright Will, I don't have the right scented hair to control your desires." Noting his habitual habit. "So what's the diagnosis? Are you heading home soon?"
"In a hurry?" Will replied till Deanna slapped his arm.
"Well I know I only just got here, but I was hoping to spend more time with my best friends before they beamed back to wherever you appeared from." Chandra explained. "Lwaxanna said I was more than welcome to stay, that is if you don't mind the company."
"You're family Chandra." Will beamed. "You can stay as long as you don't fuss." Pointing to his obvious light blockers, and earning himself a light kiss from the beautiful Chandra.
"Sweet talker." Deanna grinned. "We have an appointment early this afternoon to analyse the improvement the surgery has given Will. Then it's down to some minor adjusting."
"They get to screw with my focus till up seems down and vice-versa." He grinned. "I think Deanna's asked them to make sure I can't win at poker. She keep's losing to me."
"Own the planet yet?" Chandra teased. "And before you ask, your Captain told me at your second wedding. He warned me never to play poker with you. Deanna as well."
"Now what am I going to do to pass the time?" Will sighed. "Let's hope I can play Poker again. Geordi gave me some old cards before we left the ship. Braille."
"Raised dots that can be read via touch." Deanna clarified.
Will nodded. "At the time I felt ashamed of giving up on hope so easily by trying to read them, but when Geordi took off his visor to make it an even game; it meant something to me. I really had an understanding of how and why Geordi didn't let the darkness beat him. Regardless of the outcome, there are ways around being sightless, and having caring friends is a good start."
[I can see why I love you so Imzadi] Deanna sent, falling for the warm flow of his emotions, and the brilliant happiness that shone from her childhood friend.
"Well now that I'm going to move in. Want to hear the latest gossip?" And with that, the morning flowed as fast as snowmelt on a summer's day.
It wasn't long till Mr Homm arrived, indicating Will, and Deanna's transport had arrived for the medical centre. "Time for my poke and prod session." Will joked nervously. Today's results would impact on Will's tomorrow.
"Just remember that this is a medical procedure Imzadi, and not a bachelor party." Deanna gently steered him away from the table before he became entangled with either the tablecloth or his now vacant chair.
"Speaking of drinking, I for one can't wait to drink hot coffee again." Will replied with a sour expression. The months of luke warm coffee had grown weary on his tastebuds. "I'd even suffer scalding burns just to drink hot coffee again."
Chandra scratched her temple in thought as they made their way out of Lwaxanna's luxurious gardens and along the exiting path. "Coffee? That nasty gritty bitter stuff you tried to poison me with?"
Will groaned slightly before a small stumble took his full attention. "Whoopsie." He smiled in Deanna's direction. "And for your info, it's an Earth aphrodisiac."
"More an addiction." Deanna corrected. "Now would you concentrate on walking Will. There are a few steps coming up before we get to the transport. And I for one don't want to explain any 'whoopsie' marks to Doctor Tzian."
As they finally approached the transport vehicle, Chandra embraced them both, Will a lot longer as she wished him well. "Come back with those gorgeous blue eyes and I'll make sure there is coffee present." Giving another warm squeeze to the towering Terran.
Will nodded in agreement before Deanna helped bow his head for him to enter the vehicle without hitting his head. "Thank you Chandra." Deanna embraced her friend before climbing into the vehicle herself, and making their way to Will's appointment.
Will lay back on the reclined couch as the lights were dimmed for his sensitive eyes. "I want you to close your eyelids Commander." Tzian ordered before reaching forth to press the release codes on either side of the coveralls.
Will grunted briefly as the slight pinkness through his eyelids bothered him. "Please leave your eyelids closed for now till your eyes adjust to the difference in lighting." Tzian rustled off to the right, soon returning with something that beeped first then hummed as it was run back and forth over Will's eyes.
"When you feel like it, please open your eyes very slowly. You will feel a slight discomfort at first, for which I will apply a pain killer." The hiss confirming the doctors warning.
At first Will was eager until the first crack of light made him turn away as his sensitive eyes felt like they were melting. The painkiller only softening the edges of the pain as he tried once more. "Take it easy Commander." He heard.
Will mentally sought out a helping hand, finding Deanna's encouragement as she waited outside the diagnostic room. Taking her encouragement to heart, he tried again, slowly but surely, crack by crack as sore eyes began to take in a new blurry world of dazzling half-light.
"Good." Tzian congratulated him. "Just let your eyes adjust to the light and slowly over the next few moments we'll increase the light source." Watching as Will tried to widen his eyes to accept more sight from the out of focus room.
"How are my eyes?" Will asked, his voice breaking slightly. Worried by the doctor's silence.
"Never fear Commander, so far you have improved greatly. Final outcomes cannot be confirmed however until we have balanced your vision. But I believe you will be happy with the result." Tzian almost clapped in happiness as he moved a light pen back and forth over Will's face, watching as Will's pupils locked in on the device and followed it's path.
"Just lie back and relax." Seeing Will's urge to sit up on his mind. "This will take some time; and patience is required for the best result." Tzian smiled as the next image he spied in Will's mind was that of Deanna. "She knows you miss her as I'm sure she does you." The doctor smiling at the love between this pair.
He'd already seen the devastating effect the young Betazed heir had on this Terran earlier. The tall human had been able to navigate the reception entrance well enough until she had made her farewells and left him physically and mentally. Slowing pulling out of his mind, Tzian had seen him stumble slightly while his nurse guided him to the diagnostic room.
"I do ask that you refrain from contacting Miss Troi. For the best results we'll need you to be able to visualise without her help." He smiled seeing Will's embarrassed smirk.
"Sorry Doc." He smiled, while continuing to blink away the blurriness. Focussing inwards to build the walls she'd taught him many years ago to evade Lwaxanna's snooping. "She means the world to me." Will happily smiled.
Doctor Tzian watched and waited till he was sure the Ambassadors' daughter was no longer part of Will's mind. "I now would like you to sit for the next few moments till the disorientation has worn off. Then we will move you to begin focussing those newly rejuvenated eyes." He bowed deeply regardless of how much Will could see. "My assistant, Lana will get you anything to eat or drink if you wish." And with that he made his way out of the room, leaving an enquiring young Betazoid assistant to keep watch.
Will sighed heavily after letting the assistant know he was fine. Looking around, vague shapes soon became clearer, not sharp, but easily identifiable. His eyes stung the longer to tried to make out the various items till he decided to gives his new eyes a momentary rest.
A soft hand on his shoulder jolted him awake as the concerned assistant checked on him. "You must stay awake Commander." The young girl reminded him.
Will smiled, shaking the cobwebs from his mind. "I seem to be apologising a lot of late."
"It's understandable with the meds and your recent operation. Perhaps I could get you something else to keep your eyes open." She offered. Her kind dark eyes watching as Will tried to blind away the blur.
Shaking his head Will, stood up and began to unsteadily pace the room. "I'll be fine. Just need to move." Halting suddenly as Lana held him back from crashing into the calibrated retinal scanner. "Close shave." He chuckled.
"And destroying equipment will help?" Lana shook her head. "Please sit Commander. I don't think my nerves can stand another 'close shave'." Without even reading his mind, she was aware of his attempt at humour was to hide his inadequacies, not sarcasm.
"Perhaps you're right." He said, giving in gracefully and taking a seat beside the scanner. "How long till Dr Tzian starts the procedure?"
"Not long now. We just need your eyes to adapt to the light in here or we'll adjust your natural sight to the wrong light levels. It could mean the difference of wearing sun blockers during normal ships lighting or running into walls in twilight." She casually informed him. "And the scanner you nearly collided with will be the catalyst in getting your sight correctly calibrated." Smiling warmly at his returning smile.
"Great." He replied. "I think I'll just sit here quietly then and keep my eyes peeled."
Deanna waited patiently with Chandra by her side. They'd found a small bench seat by the full floor to ceiling windows over looking the complex's gardens, to enjoy each others company, speaking quietly about old times. It'd been in aid of blocking her urge to check on Will. For months she'd been by his side, watching his movements. And now here she was, forbidden to aid him in anyway while others fought to save his sight, his life, and his career.
"Stop thinking about him." Chandra chastised for not the first time. "Think of something else, like Mr Homm in swim trunks." Laughing at the horrible grimace on Deanna's face.
"If I come out of this conversation unscarred I'll be amazed." Deanna grumbled. Making sure her mental blocks were in place. Her inbuilt urge to check for his presence inherent after so long in knowing him.
"You're mother mentioned a little problem with wandering men the other night." Chandra hinted at Will's bedroom swap.
"I thought you were meant to be taking my mind off him?" Deanna sighed, shaking her head as she laughed. 'Poor Will. The only think he could have done to make the situation worse would have been to wear my mother's sheer pink dressing gown."
As the two laughed, Deanna suddenly felt a large pair of hands grip either side of her ribs and squeeze warmly. "Talking about me again?" Will enquired as Deanna twisted around to see the object of their conversation.
Deanna squealed as Will began to wriggle his fingers, tickling her ribs as she struggled to get away, that was until she noticed something.
He was looking at her.
Taking in the large broad shouldered man before her, she took in his 6 foot 4 height, the casual way in which he stood and the large grin on his face. "You can see?" She asked tentatively.
Will Riker, slowly but surely dropped the blocks he'd been holding in place, the same blocks that had allowed him to sneak up on her. And there, in vast abundance was a sense of pure relief. "I can see." He confirmed, opening his arms wide as Deanna launched herself at him. Embracing his body, head against his magnificently beating heart, Deanna inhaled the confidence she felt in him once more.
A soft clearing of throat reminded Deanna of company. "Sorry Chandra, Dr Tzian." She blushed.
"I think the doc will survive." Will teased. "But Chandra might need a shopping trip or two."
"I am just glad to see such a wondrous reaction." Dr Tzian replied, still very well aware of being in the presence of Betazed royalty. "Yes we have repaired his eyes to the nth degree. There are still a few residual issues, but in time they will adjust and fade."
It was then that Deanna noticed something unusual. "Eye colour?" She asked, unsure if Will was aware of the small change. The appearance of frown lines marching across his forehead confirmed her theory.
"Eye colour?" he repeated, turning to see Tzian looking a little ruffled, as he searched down something to view his reflection in. Spying a large ornate wall mirror, Will made his way to see for the first time, his own face, sharp and in focus.
"There has been a slight pigment darkening, but as first mentioned, this will dissipate over time." Tzian nervously flittered until he witnessed the Terran's beaming smile.
"Think it'll fool them?" He winked cheekily. Hinting at the local planetary residents. Although darkened, in a less than bright location, Will Riker's eyes seemed almost Betazoid in nature. Black. But in reality they had become a dark blue.
Deanna giggled in return. "Not with those unblocked thoughts."
"What thoughts?" Chandra joined in, sure she'd missed something.
"Quite frankly, I'm just happy to see me again. Not the foggy version." Turning to Tzian, the Commander gave a deep nod. "Thank you Doctor."
"Just remember to keep those check ups regular with Doctor Crusher." Handing over a chip to the soon to be ex-patient. "I have included all the scan comparison data for her to keep a keen eye on your improvement."
"Be well Doctor Tzian and thank you." Will Riker pocketed the isolinear chip carefully into his shirt pocket.
"Be well Mr Troi." The doctor enjoying the quiet groan coming from the nearly Fifth House son as he made his way back through the door to his research lab.
"I'm never going to get used to that." Will grumbled till he caught sight of Deanna's warm gaze. "But I love seeing you again." Taunting her with his sizzling smile.
"Can we go home?" He almost whined. "I've had enough of clinics and hospitals for a lifetime."
"You should have thought of that before taking on the position of First Officer." Deanna's laughing lilt made him chuckle.
Reaching up to cup his cheeks within the palms of her hands, Deanna Troi gazed into his now focussed eyes, enrapt with the warm happy feelings emanating from her Imzadi. "Mother will be pleased. She always wanted a Betazoid son-in-law."
"et tu Troi?" Will pouted.
"Come on you two, lets get you out of here. I hear Mr Homm is preparing Oskoid leaves." Chandra hinted. Hoping to get the two Imzadians moving before the sun set.
Nodding in agreement, Will pulled out a pair of glasses that had been hiding in his trouser pocket. "Time to test these babies out in the sunshine." Fitting them into place.
"Doctors orders." He answered at Deanna's unvoiced question.
"Sunlight?" Chandra added.
"Anything brighter than this hallway." Will sighed, "but not for long." Adding a smile. "Did someone mention Oskoid leaves?" Offering both crooked elbows, till he'd snagged an arm from each lovely lady, leading them onward. "Sunlight here we come."
Chief O'Brien watched the controls, till a prompting flash began. "They're ready to beam up now sir."
"Make it so Mr O'Brien." Captain Picard waited patiently for their XO and Ship's Counsellor to make their goodbyes. It had been over a month since the injured first officer had left the protective safety of the Enterprise for his fiancé's home planet.
From reports so far, his eyesight had been greatly improved, but reports never told the emotional factor, only stats. Here in force, not only for protocol purposes, Picard was waiting see if Dr Crusher's incoming information had been correct, and his comrade was indeed back to normal.
Two blue columns began to coalesce upon the transporter pad. The difference in height easy to determine who was standing where. The tall broad proportions of Will Riker finally solidified into the smiling bearded officer, complete with eyewear.
"Welcome home Commander, Counsellor." Picard greeted moving forward to guide the first officer down the daunting steps of the transporter platform. But the offer was soon aborted as Will Riker made his own way confidently down the once troublesome steps. Deanna's knowing smile taking in the Captain's hesitance.
"Thank you Sir." A wide beaming grin encompassing his face as he offered a hand in friendship. The Captain taking in the enclosed glasses covering his XO's eyes. Noticing the Captain's curiosity, Will tapped the side of the eye coverings lightly. "Lets just call these safety glasses for now. I need to get used to different variances in light on board, so I don't undo Dr Tzians hard work."
"I see, Number One. Shall we proceed? I believe Dr Crusher has an interest in finding out for herself, what your procedures may have rectified." Indicating they vacate the room, moving forward himself into the larger corridor. "How is your mother Counsellor?" Picard changed topic as they wandered the corridor, heading for the nearest turbo lift.
"She gives her regards Sir." Deanna smiled. Sensing the Captain's usual comfortable nature slowly returning as Will took up his usual position, walking slightly behind and off the shoulder of the Captain, like a pet parrot.
"I am quite amazed that she didn't come onboard." Will mused. "She was hoping to sort out a few of those marriage plans she kept hinting about." Nodding to another group of passing crewmembers. Their happy smiles at his return, a comforting reward.
"Pressure. Hmm I now see why you returned so quickly Number One. I did give you two months leave." Picard gazed at Will as he turned, entering the turbo lift. The strange eyewear catching his glance once more.
"Any indication as to how long you'll need to wear the glasses for?" He enquired finally, just as the lift opened to deck twelve, the infamous level that housed sickbay, or in some crewmembers mind, Will Riker's second home.
"A few days onboard to adjust to brightness levels, then I'm home free." If Will hadn't been wearing glasses, the captain could have sworn he'd winked in his direction.
"Not too free Will. Mother is already making plans." Deanna reminded him gleefully. "But I'm sure we can evade her for a few more months."
Will chuckled. The good-natured humour was back, and in bucket loads. So much so, that when he entered sickbay, the whole staff turned, complete with smiles in tow.
"Welcome back big guy." Beverly greeted, wrapping her arms around Will, regardless of the un-officer like behaviour. "Walk this way to my parlour. I have questions to ask and tests to run." Enjoying the small groan she elicited from him.
"Just make sure the lights are dimmed first. If I head back to Betazed blinded after only one hour on board, Tzian may not want me back in his clutches." Will jibed as he took a seat on the biobed that Beverly had so kindly patted for him to sit upon.
"Relax Will, Tzian sent me his results, just in case you forgot the chip." Beverly replied, accepting the chip Will handed over, and pocketing it into her lab coat pocket. "I am more than aware of the fragility of the procedure performed. Especially your recovery schedule."
"Twice a week?" Will tried to remember the rules.
"Every second day." She corrected. "Computer. Lower lights by 50%."
As the computer beeped it's confirming reply, the light dimmed, allowing Will to finally remove his glasses. Staring back, the returning stares made him smile. "I'm not Betazoid, if that's what you're thinking. Though Lwaxanna was most pleased."
"I can see why Number One." The Captain relied noting the almost black nature of Will's pupils. A hint of blue noticeable if he moved his head to catch a hint of brighter light.
"It'll dissipate Captain." Beverly confirmed. Holding Will's chin stable so she could look at each pupil. Switching her dimmed light pen from eye to eye, gauging his dilation times. "Headaches? Sore eyes?" She enquired.
"Nope. So far so good." He grinned smugly.
"Well put your glasses back on and get out of here Commander. I'll sign off on light duty if your eyes continue to look this good tomorrow." Enjoying the glint of relief in his face.
"No more prodding?"
"That's Deanna's department. Now scram, I have real patients to deal with." Teasing the tall brother-like man before her. Jean Luc enjoying the show.
Pecking a quick kiss to her cheek, Will slipped his glasses back on and made his way to the door. "Quick Deanna, before she changes her mind." He teased.
"Or you start kissing more than good friends." Deanna chastised, dragging him from the midst of the Captain and the Doctor.
As the door closed, Picard turned to Beverly. 'I wouldn't have thought that eye surgery could renew a sense of humour, but it seems to have done the trick." He mused
"That it has." Beverly smiled. "Tell me captain. Do you have time for tea?" Happily drawing the man back to her office for a relaxing brew. Another Will Riker disaster averted.
Will Riker took in the over protective confines of his quarters and laughed. "You know, there were days I swore you'd covered every sharp edge in foam. Now I know it's true." Grinning at the mass of white foam taped expertly to every bevel.
Deanna blushed a little. "Well you did have a habit of bounding about without due care."
"Well someone kept dashing just out of reach." Will winked as he removed the eye covers. The room dim enough to view her handy work without flinching at the normally harsh ship light.
Moving into his embrace, Deanna placed both hands up against his chest, feeling the warmth of his beating heart. "Only because moody randy Riker wasn't allowed to play."
"Moody?" Pulling his chin indignantly.
"Will. I think the Pakcharnie of Opus IV were you're only contenders of the moodiest male in this quadrant." Running a hand over his cheek to bring his chin back forward.
"Can I kiss and make you change your mind?" teasing her lips with his own as he lent down breathing her own small breaths as her respiration sped up. Will's hands surrounding her hips and moving lower.
"You're just too smooth Commander, too smooth." Giggling as he tried to lift her uniform top in one fell swoop. The awkwardness nearly making them both trip over the small padded coffee table beside them.
"And I thought I was blind." Will purred into her ear as Deanna cursed about table legs.
"In love maybe." Curling inside his mind like a long lost friend.
"I love you in here." With eyes closed, Will rested his head upon her luxurious curls and breathed deeply.
"Then you're going to love this." Deanna purred, pulling away to grasp one of his hands in her own and pulling him towards the bedroom.
::::::::: EDITED TO HERE (Deanna is engaged to Will/finace)
Warm and well exercised, Will Riker woke slowly from a dreamy paradise. The feel of Deanna's head resting against his back, brought back some of the better moments during their bonding the night before. Chuckling quietly, Will stretched out a few kinks, hearing Deanna's own slight moan as she began to wake.
A pinkness shone through his eyelids, warning him too late in some ways of the bright starlight he was about to encounter. "Dammit!" Will hissed, sitting bolt upright and losing his balance.
All Deanna heard was the curse and loud slam as Will Riker, tangled in the sheets landed on the floor, leaving her perfect body nude and cold.
"Will?" Deanna enquired, spying his entangled legs and bare ass beyond the edge of the once filled bed.
"Dammit" He grumbled again. "Stars too bright." Grimacing as he tried to squint and look for his glasses.
Deanna flew into action as soon as she realised the trouble he was in. Grabbing a pillow she thrust it over his head, forcing him back down to the floor. "Lie still Will, I'll find them."
"Computer, darken windows by 50%." She commanded, as she ran into the living quarters, finding his glasses balancing on the back of the lounge where they'd started their lovers tryst the night before. "Here, it's safe to put them on." Helping him by removing the pillow and untangling some of the sheets.
Will viewed his beautiful aid. "What a shame I missed you running like that." Grinning like an ogling schoolboy.
"And if you could see yourself right now, you'd blush." Deanna teased taking in the combination of his clumsy naked sprawl and eyewear.
Setting aside the funny side, Deanna helped him up, drawing him to the living area to sit while she returned to their sleeping area to gather two robes for modesty sake. "Troi to Crusher."
A confirmation beep ensued. "Beverly here, what can I do for you?"
"I'm a little worried about Will. I forgot to block out the starlight. Could you come to our quarters to make sure we haven't damaged his sight?" Deanna replied as she wrapped the soft blue robe over Will's cooling shoulders. Her own soon following as she caught his leering gaze.
"On my way!" Beverly replied worriedly.
"The cavalry is on its way." Will grinned. "Luckily for you." He added trying to undo her now tied gown.
"Or you." Deanna smiled as the comm. For the door signalled a visitor. "Come."
Beverly entered in a rush soon coming to a stop, as she took in her friends dishevelled gowns. "And what were we doing when we forgot our precious eye covers?" Dropping her med kit to the coffee table and sitting beside Will on the couch.
"Sleeping." Will answered.
"Truthfully." Deanna added.
In the semi darkened light, Beverly took in their honest faces. "So?"
"I didn't think about the warp light." Deanna sincerely looked sorry as Beverly scanned and checked each eye.
"We both didn't." Will agreed. "Damn well burned but I feel fine now."
"Well I agree Will. You'll be fine." Patting his shoulder in comfort. "Just take it easy on the eyes today. Head back to bed." Seeing his lips curl up in a hint of a smile, Beverly shook her head." To sleep Will, nothing more."
Effectively shutting down his grin, Beverly confirmed her job was done. "Sleep well children." She added, making her way out after Deanna thanked her gratefully.
"Think we escaped a flogging?" Will pouted. Rubbing tenderly at the point where Crusher had issued a small painkiller.
"Not the verbal one." Deanna smiled, taking his rubbing hand and drawing him upward from the couch. "But before it becomes physical, lets get you back to bed as per doctors orders shall we. And no hanky panky." Laughing at his little boy pout.
"If this morning is anything to go by, I'll be hopeless on the bridge anyway." Will grumbled as he bent to pick up the fallen sheets and remake the bed.
"Make that two of us." Deanna giggled, remembering both their naked floundering. "Get in, and get some sleep Imzadi." Kissing his chest as it peeked out between the folds of his dressing gown.
"Join me?" Raising his arm to gather her under his embrace.
"Always." Deanna purred.
Beverly looked up to the expectant blue eyes from her data padd. "If I answered right away, the last thing I'd see in the next two seconds would be your behind Commander. Sit down, relax and wait. Scan results aren't always that clearly defined." Her no nonsense comment drawing a silent response.
Will Riker, turning the chair around, straddled it's seat. His long arms leaning expectantly over the back of the seat, peering intently at the red haired doctor.
Looking up, Beverly Crusher nearly laughed at the little boy look Will was giving her. "No wonder Deanna can't resist you."
"Nor can I resist her." Will waggled his eyebrows. The cheeky grin reaching his bare eyes. The glasses, folded and tucked into the neckline of his uniform.
"Obviously the light in here isn't bothering you." She analysed from the lack of a squint.
"I told you I'm fine." He pressed. "I'm starting to think you're just after some male company." Teasing the doctor about his excessive medical appointments.
"Well is does get lonely down here when you're not out there risking your life Will." Reminding him how often a resident he was of her sickbay. "And its looks like I'm going to have to take up solitaire." Placing the padd down on her desk with a smile.
"I'm released?" Will queried, hope written all over his bearded face.
"I'm letting you return to light duties Will, just for the next few days, then back to full duty." Seeing the relief in his shoulders, Beverley Crusher laughed. "Welcome back Commander, may all your personnel reviews be speedy." Reminding him of the monthly duty he hadn't missed.
Groaning, Will dropped his head heavily into his hands. "Any chance we could delay my light duties till next week?"
"No shirking William Riker, time to return to duty." Shooing him away with her hands. "Now if you don't mind, I have other patients to attend to."
Standing tall to his 6 foot 4 status, Will swung around her desk and quickly pecked a kiss to her cheek. "Thanks Doc, for everything." The blue eyes taunting her of other times, when those same eyes were for her and Odan only. But now they were Will's, and they were working at their optimum best. No longer would he need to worry about de-registration from the service. He was happy, healthy and his normal cheeky self.
"You Will Riker are in trouble." Watching his features slide into the little innocent boy routine.
"Moi?" He asked, holding his heart in mock pain.
"Just get out of here Commander, before I let the counsellor know you're stalking female companionship again." Laughing as he bowed deeply and bade his way out of her office. Shaking her head, Beverly Crusher marked the day as a good one.
"Rigellian four's are high and all studs are wild." Riker called as he dished out the cards with a wide grin.
"All studs?" Beverly rose an eyebrow. "Better watch out Deanna, the Enterprises' 'stud' sounds a little randy to me." She teased.
The guests at the table laughed. In celebration of Will Riker's first week of light duties, the once regular poker game had finally resumed. Even the Captain had decided to sit in.
The Doctor's ribald comment drawing a commanding look that soon warmed. "I totally agree Doctor. But should we be asking you, as to what vitamins you've been dosing him with?"
"Enough me bashing." Will groaned. "Data, you're up." Hoping to push the interest off himself and into the game at hand.
"I'll raise you 10 Commander." The pale-faced android answered, dealers cap in place.
A series of chips flew into the centre as everyone agreed to the raise. Taking in each of their faces, Will Riker beamed. "You know there were some really scary days when I couldn't see. But every time things seemed beyond bleak, I found myself shadowed."
"Deanna's doing." Beverly winked.
"As I suspected." Leaning over to peck a kiss to her cheek. "Thank you. All of you." No humility, only appreciation of their support.
The captain laid a hand on Riker's shoulder in friendship. No words spoken.
"Not just Betazoid eyed. Betazoid souled too." Beverly teased, flipping another few chips into the pile to break the quiet.
"Hey. They're changing back." Will pointed out. The black orbs slowly returning to their natural hue. "Speaking of mind reading. I think you're bluffing doctor. I'll raise you another 20." Smugly flipping two chips to the centre of the pile.
"I think I liked it better when you couldn't see." Beverly folded her hand and sat back into her chair, sizing up the grinning first officer. "At least we could cheat with those Braille cards Geordi dished out."
Will Riker laughed merrily. "Well at least someone knew what those bumps meant."
"I must say that the Commander did have trouble deciphering the coded cards." Data confirmed.
"Not the only one." Geordi joined in. "Never could handle Braille, always got the better of me."
Will sobered a little at his friends' permanent disability. Geordi could see technically, but he'd never see things for real through unaided sight like Will had recently been re-introduced to. "Believe me Geordi, you weren't the only one. But thank you for trying to make the abnormal normal. Even if you all cheated."
"Just like old times." Picard mused, folding his hand to the Commander's stronger bid. "An empath, a computerable android to an nth degree, and a card shark. No wonder it took ten years to face this rabble of card players."
The rest of the game fell into a usual banter of antes, tells and folds. One player, Counsellor Deanna Troi, interplayed with her crewmates and friends, but also took a step back mentally to view them all from the heart and mind.
Will and Deanna were blessed to be together, but even more so to have been introduced to such a bizarre family that was always there for one another. The thin line bordering command and friendship was always there, and yet, they would do anything for each and every one of them surrounding this table.
The balance of crew rosters while Will had been out of the loop had worked seamlessly. But then again, the constant injuring of the Commander had trained them well in the past.
Watching Will's smile and glistening eyes as he took in the large pile of chips, pulled at her heart. His joy was effervescent. Bubbling to the top and flowing over to make up for anyone else's sorrow. He was a rare gem in any land. His nurturing love for all things foreign, sometimes the reason he was so often taken out of action. But without that curiosity and love, she'd have never met the brazen lieutenant, nor enjoyed the company and love within her soul.
"Well I believe now is the time that I found my way back to my quarters before I lose my uniform tunic." The captain mused, seeing Will take in another load of winnings.
Will hid the smile and placed an innocent look upon his face. "I've learnt in the past not to keep bidding when it gets down to clothes sir."
"But planets and concubines are alright?" Picard reminded the younger officer of his past poker transgressions. Will Riker gracefully blushed a pale pink. "I think now is the right time to leave. But thank you all the same for the invite commander." Picard warmly taped Will's shoulder.
"Good night." The captain bid. Soon followed by a chorus of 'Good night Sir's'
It wasn't long till the others soon took their leave from the final game. Credit chips less than when they'd started. At Deanna's comment, Will Riker, placed the chips away in their container and smiled. "Well I do need a second income if I'm to have the hand of Lwaxanna's daughter. I understand she likes sapphires."
"Oh those things. No I think you mis-understood." Deanna purred, crossing the living room floor to wrap her arms around his waist. "Sapphire eyes." Reaching up on tippy toes to kiss his nose.
"Hmmm. Lucky for you I managed to regain them then." Lifting her up and slowly wandering towards the bedroom.
Deanna giggled, wriggling in his grasp till the exclamation.
"Damn it!" he spat, the throbbing between his eyes urging his sensitive fingers to seek out the door he'd just recently tried to amalgamate with. Deanna finding herself standing beside him, no longer her hands curled around his neck.
Will?' Deanna's voice enquired. He couldn't see for the stars, but he soon felt her guiding hand, leading him past the doorway edge to sit upon the neatly made bed.
"After all this time, you'd think I'd know where the doorway was." He laughed painfully.
"Déjà vu?" Deanna teased.
"More like an inability to see Déjà vu coming." He grinned, letting go of the sore head bump.
"Let me kiss and make it better." She grinned.
"Better still, let me kiss you." He chuckled, pulling her atop him as he laid back to the bed, legs still hanging off the edge. "Well after I find a more comfortable position that is." Grimacing as his back reminding him he was too old to be bending over backwards.
"Only if you can catch me old man." She teased, swinging her legs from his lap and rolling to the middle of the bed, beckoning him to turn around and crawl up beside her.
"Old man?" he complained. "I remember a time when I thought seasoned sounded old."
"But I like my Imzadi seasoned." She teased, one hand patting the pillow beside her, the other loosening her off-duty dress she'd worn to the game. "Come here Will. Show me those sapphires and their dazzling powers of seduction." Watching him remove his soft blue shirt.
Bare chested, the first officer of the Enterprise and Imzadi to the fifth house's daughter pounced on his prey. The famous Riker grin ever widening. "Prepare to be dazzled Mrs. Riker."
The blink blink end