"The Healing Game" 1\3 [PG] (TNG R\T)
From: xmasfrog@aol.com (Xmas Frog)

Title: "The Healing Game"
Series: ST: TNG (R\T)
Rating: PG
Copyrights: To Paramount, etc.
Summary: Deanna struggles with losing Will and begins to doubt herself. 

Her hand trembled as she punched in the program parameters; her breath
came in short, ragged fits. Deanna's normally neat Starfleet uniform was
replaced with a thin nightgown, her bare shoulders and arms covered in
gooseflesh. "Program complete. You may enter when ready," the computer stated
apathetically. Troi stepped into the normally cheerful room, now little more
than a grey box. The walls were dull and seemed to suck in all light, the color
of unpolished lead. There was nothing in the room.
Except, of course, for a lone figure directly in the center.
Slowly, she approached the hologram. It was him. No, it wasn't him, she
reminded herself. It was an image of him, generated by concentrated photons.
Every detail was precise, from the polished black boots to the neatly trimmed
brown beard. She took a step forward, and another, and another, until she was
face to face with him. He didn't flinch or even blink. Deanna's eyes watered
over, until she could bear it no longer. . . . crying silently she wrapped her
arms around William Riker and buried her soft brown curls in his shoulder.

* * *

The bridge was quiet. Data stared ahead through the viewport from his
station at ops, his mechanical eyes recording each star as the Enterprise
travelled through the sector. Picard sat in the Captain's chair, his eyes
steely and jaw locked. Deanna mentally started as she once again noticed the
empty chair of the ship's First Officer. No, she reproved herself, not here.
Not now. On duty. Concentrate on the job. "Captain." she announced levelly,
sitting in her chair beside him. The Ensign on duty at conn swiveled her head
around to face the bridge crew. "Captain, we have entered the Delron sector."
Picard nodded but did not reply. The Betazoid sensed a finely constructed
emotional wall around the Captain, invisible to the naked eye but apparent to
all those who really knew him. Normally, Deanna would have been extremely
concerned. Not now, however. Especially since she had built one of the same
Abruptly, the blazes of light on the viewscreen transformed into tiny
pinpoints of light. In the distance, a yellow-green planet rotated lazily. It
was blanketed in a thin layer of translucent gas tinted grey. "Approaching
Delron III and entering standard orbit," Data intoned. Deanna briefly glanced
at him, amazed at his composure and coolness. Hah, she thought wryly, how easy
it is to forget that not everyone is losing their mind. 
A thin, reedy voice filled the bridge as a channel between the Enterprise
and Delron III was opened. "Federation starship, this is the palace at Delron
III. State your business in this sector." Picard had anticipated the
Delronians' less-than-warm welcome, and he replied in a voice reflecting only
the slightest hint of annoyance. "You know very well our business in this
sector. We have come to further investigate the death of my first officer,
William T. Riker." "Captain Picard, there is nothing to 'further investigate.'
You have been presented with all the evidence and the Federation Council has
ruled his death an accident. Please leave our space immediately." Jean-Luc's
eyes flashed, he stood involuntarily as he responded. "The Enterprise will
remain in orbit until I am personally satisfied with the Council's decision."
He made a cutting motion across his throat, and Data entered the command
sequence to terminate the conversation.
Picard turned to face those around him. "Data, I want a team rechecking
those files within the hour. Maintain radio silence with Delron unless it is
absolutely necessary. I will personally ask the Sultan to beam over tomorrow,
and we can conduct any questioning then." Deanna pursed her lips, quelling her
rapidly surfacing emotions. They had been through all of this before. Why
should they try and build more false hopes, if they knew in the end they would
all be obliterated?

Beverly stood a few steps inside the doorway, her eyes sweeping over the
room and asessing a situation she had seen at least a dozen times in the last
month. Deanna, asleep on the couch, five or six PADDs strewn on the floor
beneath her. A half-empty mug of presumably tea on the table, along with the
remains of a meal that never made it to the reprocessor. Troi clutched a
holocube, her fingers wrapped around it for dear life. Sighing, Beverly stepped
around the mess and sat down next to her best friend, flipping a tiny switch on
the side of the cube. A tiny Will Riker appeared, standing on one of the sides.
He was smiling. He looked as he had shortly before. . . . well, before
Deanna moaned softly in her sleep; her face contorted into a mask of pain
and her entire body tensed. She breathed heavily, a single tear sliding down
the side of her face. Beverly quickly shook her. "Deanna," she whispered.
"Deanna. Wake up." Startled, Troi sat bolt upright and blinked rapidly. She
shook almost imperceptibly as she regained her bearings. "B-Beverly. Hello. . .
. can I help you?" She attempted to smile cheerfully, straightening her
uniform. Crusher slammed her fist down on the table and frowned. "Damnit,
Deanna, stop. Not here. Not with me. I know you better than that. Why are you
doing this to yourself?" Noticing the holocube, Deanna quickly deactivated it
and set it down ever so gently. Ignoring the Doctor's question, she clambered
to her feet and began straightening the mess. "Doing what?" Deanna replied,
trying to keep her voice even. "You know what. Blocking everyone. Hiding in
here." Troi whipped around, indignant. "I am not hiding. I've already spoken to
the Captain about continuing appointments, I've scheduled patients beginning
next week." Beverly shook her head. "Deanna, I don't know what to do with you.
Why can't you just let it out? I'm here, we're all here for you. I know how
much Will meant to you--" "how could you possibly?" Deanna interjected,
gritting her teeth tightly. She clawed desperately at the tears forming in her
Beverly was silent. Regaining composure, Deanna resumed her task of
gathering materials from the floor. Neither spoke, and at length, Troi was the
first to break the tension. "Beverly, I appreciate your concern. I have to deal
with this in my own way. I promise you, I'll call you if I need you." Standing,
Beverly sighed again and headed for the door. "Alright. Alright. But don't
expect me to stop coming here." Deanna grinned lopsidedly. The doors clicked
shut as Crusher departed, leaving the Counselor alone once more. She managed to
make it to the couch's edge before sinking to her knees. She collapsed in
exhaustion, the shear effort of keeping up a good image draining all the
exuberance from her. Sobs wracking her body, Deanna buried her head in the
cushions and once more cried herself to sleep.

The sound of some piece of equipment chirping broke Deanna's reverie.
Groggily, she stood and tried to determine the source of the noise. It was
coming from the table. She knelt down and flicked the switch on her viewer; the
screen instantly transformed from the Starfleet logo into a candid image of her
mother. "Oh, Little One. . . . I was away on business. . . . I just got your
message. I'm so sorry. . . ." "Please, not now, mother," Deanna hoarsely
croaked. Her head was reeling. "Deanna, I know you're upset and I'll be there
as soon as I can. I'll catch the next transport--" "No, " the Counselor
interrupted. She rubbed her temples and tried to collect her thoughts. "No. I'm
alright. Besides, you can't enter Delron space while the inqueries are being
conducted." The elder Troi looked as though she were about to reply, but then
stopped and tilted her head slightly. Deanna felt the brush of her mother's
probe against her mind, and although she didn't feel like disclosing anything
with her she was too tired to resist. 
Lwaxana's mood changed immediately. "Deanna," she commented softly, "you
didn't sever the Imzadi link with him." Suddenly very angry, the Counselor
narrowed her eyes and pushed her mother out of her mind with a force that
startled even the experienced Lwaxana. "I did! I let go! I never thought it
would happen, but. . . . but. . . ." her voice broke into quiet sobs as is at
had so often lately. "Deanna, if he had died you would have felt it. The bond
has not been broken." With the grief of an innocent child, Deanna turned her
glossy brown eyes to her mother and tried to express to her, though words and
telepathy, what had happened. "Mother, we were like teenagers again. We were so
close. . . . the radiation, but it was more than that. . . . we loved each
other. . . ." She stopped speaking and projected a flood of images and emotions
stretching from the Briar Patch incident to Will's death. Lwaxana's face took
on a pained expression as she received the sum of her daughter's suffering.
"That's it, Little One, I'll be there tomorrow." She held up a hand to silence
Deanna's objections. "No but's about it. I'm not ambassador of Betazed for
nothing. You can let your Captain know I'm coming. . . . hang on, Little One."
Lwaxana tried to send some small comfort to Deanna as she turned her screen
Although a part of Deanna resented her mother for being so overbearing,
she was mostly relieved and almost glad that Lwaxana was coming. Her age
reversed, she was once again the young Betazoid girl in need of the warmth of
her mother's strength and love. 

"I'm really worried about her."
Jean-Luc stroked his chin pensively. "Beverly, Will's death was hard on
everyone. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Deanna--" "It's
more than that," Beverly stated simply. "I don't know what. She's been like
this for weeks-- holed up in her office, refusing to talk to me or any of the
others. She's here, but she's not really here, and I don't know what to do."
Sighing, Picard tugged at his uniform. "I'd suggest a leave of absence, but she
already spoke with me and insisted she start scheduling appointments for next
week. In any event, I've just received word that her mother is coming on board
for a little while. Although I'd normally object to this, I think that her
visit will be of some help to Deanna." He paused, his demeanor reflecting the
strain he, too, had been under since his trusted first officer's death. "This
hasn't been easy for any of us. If I feel it absolutely necessary, I'll talk to
her mysef, but for now I think we should just wait." Beverly nodded
reluctantly. "Fine. Time to play the waiting game."

Lwaxana scrolled down the PADD she clutched, biting her lip tensely.
Deanna sat across from her, vaguely gazing off into the stars. "What? He died
in a transporter accident? That never happens nowadays!" As she received no
response, she continued reading. She set the PADD down a few seconds later.
"Deanna, you can't possibly tell me they didn't consider foul play." The
Counselor shook her head. "No, that was everyone's first thought. The residue
they found on the transporter pad was difficult to analyze, and we went through
weeks of questions, interrogations, and procedures." She turned again to look
out the view in Ten-Forward. "I don't know why we came back here. We're not
going to find out anything new, and we'll be lucky if we don't start a war with
the Delronians." Lwaxana sipped her drink and tried to ignore the shield her
daughter had erected around her. "Why do you think that your connection was
broken?" Deanna flinched. "I'd rather not discuss it." "Why not?" "Because. . .
." she waved her hand, unable to come up with an appropriate response. Deanna
turned to face her mother. 
"What they didn't include in the official report were the hours all of us
spent looking for that missing clue. . . . the hours that became days, and
dragged into weeks. We all hoped that it was just some big mistake. But it
wasn't. Will's gone, mother. Just as they said." She directed her gaze at the
table. "And I didn't even feel him go," she added beneath her breath. 
"Little One, do you realize what imzadi is?" Mrs.Troi leaned forward,
trying to break through to her only child. "It's the first. . . . . and it's
also the last. You can't just let go of imzadi, and expect it to disappear.
Both of you would have to fall completely out of love with each other, and even
then-- traces of that link would remain on your hearts forever." "But I did let
go! We spent his last night together, and then in the morning. . . . ." Deanna
sucked in a deep breath and forced herself to continue. "In the morning, I let
myself doubt our relationship. I doubted Will. I doubted that the whole thing
was real, and not just a glorified dream." At this, Lwaxana laughed, despite
herself. "Oh Little One, do you really think that I never doubted your father?
That I didn't spend hours wondering if he was really the one? There were times
when I didn't want anything to do with him-- but that didn't mean that I let
go." Deanna said nothing. For a brief moment, Lwaxana thought perhaps she had
reached her-- but her hopes were shattered a second later when Deanna quickly
got up. "I have to go. I'll talk to you later, mother." The Counselor headed
out the door and out of Ten-Forward, back to the comfort of her office. Away
from the thoughts which had plagued since the day when her world had been
turned upside down.

"The Healing Game" [PG] 2\3 (TNG, R\T)
From: xmasfrog@aol.com (Xmas Frog)

Picard stared at his first officer's unmoving image. He had recreated the
last few moments before the accident in Holodeck 3, and was now running the
program for at least the thousandth time. Riker moved through a scene that
Picard had committed to memory forever.
"Sultan Jau, I cannot ask you to break your customs. But I guess I'm
asking you to bend them a little. Consider the greater good here: wouldn't it
be easier for all of us if you could make an exception? I assure you, the
Federation meant no evil when they beamed to your planet. For a reason we have
not yet determined your people did not register on our scans, and we were
simply investigating an apparent mystery."
The garish leader of the Delronians frowned upon Riker from his throne. "I
will consider your offer, Commander. Please return to your ship."
Riker sighed, and tapped his communicator. "Enterprise. One to beam up."
Picard stepped closer as slowly Will began to dissolve into a shimmering
blue cyclone of molecules. He scrutinized Riker's face again, looking for
anything. . . .
. . . .Anything--
"Computer! Freeze program!"

As fidgety as a first-year cadet, Deanna waited impatiently for her
patient to arrive. She drew in a shaky breath and silently prayed that she
wouldn't make any blunders during her first appointment since. . . . 
. . . .Since. . . . .
Her mother had gotten through to her, somehow. She had underestimated the
weight of Deanna's words-- it had been more than just doubts. But Deanna had
realized that Will would have wanted her to go on with her existance. Things
were certainly not perfect, but she had regained some of her life back. 
When Will had died, she had become completely numb. She felt no pain. Her
life was a blur; she simply moved through a routine with no thought whatsoever.
For a while, things were fine: a thin chord of stretched sanity held things
together. Then one day it snapped. She stopped seeing patients, retreated into
her office. She wouldn't answer any questions. She cried then. Deanna created
holodeck images of Will, and in the middle of each night she would go there,
convinced she had broken their link once and for all. She would leave and
ritually erase the programs, promising herself that she would not repeat her
actions the next night. She started to feel herself losing control of her
emotions. Her mother had come at just the right time-- any longer, and she
didn't know what she would have done. Now she was restarting her life.
But there would always be that hole.
The door chimed. The Counselor stood and tried to answer it, tripped, and
fell on her face. "Come in," she managed to get out as she quickly gathered her
sprained dignity.
She looked up. 
She saw Commander Will Riker. 
Gasping, she scrabbled backwards, as though he were an apparition. Will
stretched out an arm, summoning Deanna. She was afraid, didn't move at first.
"Imzadi," he whispered. His was was extremely strained. "Will?" she breathed.
She was afraid to blink in case somehow the dream would shatter. He didn't
move, simply stood there, arm outstretched. His face was taut. "Imzadi," he
called again, "help me. . . ." Before she knew what had happened, she felt her
lungs being compressed and her body stretched in a million different ways at
once. She screamed the only word that she knew. 
"IMZADI. . . ."

She couldn't feel any of her extremities, and her mind seemed to be
swathed in a layer of thick cotton. Out of reflex, she began a Betazoid
focusing sequence. Immediately her breathing slowed and some of the fuzziness
surrounding her thoughts dissipated. Squinting against the absence of light,
she extended a hand and tried to determine where she was-- definitely not on
the Enterprise, that was for sure. Her hand felt nothing but the cool air
before it. She took a tentative step forward. The ground was solid enough, and
it felt surprisingly smooth. Something deep within her surfaced, and as though
some other entity had taken over her body Deanna called out to the void.

Riker's chest heaved as he struggled to draw in oxygen. "Will?" The word
drifted to him, seemed to settle in the clouds above his head. He saw each
individual letter of his name painted in bright colors and patterns, dancing,
turning, laughing. . . .
There was no mistaking it this time. Someone was calling him. Riker
pinched his forearm, an action he had repeated so many times that he barely
felt any pain. He bit his lip and attempted to gather his thoughts.
Someone was calling him. Him. Who was he? The realization of this mystery
hit Riker like a lead weight. Who am I? "William Riker," he whispered to no one
in particular. That was one problem solved. 
The voice seemed more frantic now; there was more than a hint of panic in
it. The man in the dark clambered to his feet and whirled in a circle, looking
for whoever wanted him. Perhaps it's my mother, he pondered. Or perhaps it's. .
. .

"Deanna--" called a voice so soft, so faint, that Deanna wasn't sure she
heard it all. Troi tried to determine the source of the noise, but to no avail;
she simply kept walking further and prayed that if it was Will, he would have
the presence of mind to call her again. "Will, if that's you, I'm coming," she
yelled out, more for her own comfort than his. Her voice sounded muffled, as
though it were trapped. Her head pulsated with each step she took.
Stumbling over something, Deanna fell. The heap of whatever had trapped
her was soft, cold, and moving--
"Will!" she gasped, moving to find him. She groped about in the dark until
she felt his face. She pressed her hand against his temple and tried to take a
pulse-- it was weak, but it was there. "Will! Can you hear me?" She received no
response. She stooped even lower and tried to see the fallen Commander. It was
just too black! Abruptly, Deanna felt an iron hand grip her stomach, and before
she knew what was happening she felt herself wrenched out of the darkness and
into a sea of unconsciousness. 

". . . .not responding. . . ."
"We just can't get through to her. . . ."
". . . .inconclusive. . . . stasis. . . ."
A bright light shattered the Counselor's mind, and she moved her hand to
cover her eyes. "She's waking up!" someone shouted. Immediately, Deanna heard
the clatter of feet as several people moved towards her.
Sickbay. She was in sickbay. As her situation became clearer, the memories
of a few moments ago were renewed. "Captain!" Troi called out, and to her
gratitude Picard stepped forward from among the crowd surrounding her.
"Counselor," he responded, moving closer. "Captain, Will--" "--is alive,"
Jean-Luc finished for her. "We know. He's trapped somewhere." Deanna nodded and
tried to sit up, but Beverly quickly admonished her. She gently pushed her
backwards. "Oh no you don't. You've had massive internal bleeding for the last
hour or so, and you can't go anywhere." Troi gaped. "What? How in the world. .
. .?" Crusher shook her head. " I don't know yet. When Elyn showed up for her
appointment she found you on the floor, unconscious. We got you to sickbay and
discovered that most of your internal organs were under heavy compressive
force." "Compressive force?" Troi echoed, astonished at this new revelation
about herself. "Yes. It's as though someone had layed a ton of latinum on you."
"I was with Will," Deanna whispered. "He's alive. It was black. . . . .
everything was black. I've got to go back--" "No," Crusher interrupted again.
"Wherever you were, you can't return. The risk is too great." 
Troi turned to Picard, looking for support. "I'm sorry, Deanna, but I
can't go against the Doctor's orders." Deanna sighed and pursed her lips. "I
have to go and find Will!" she pouted, her voice becoming whiny and slightly
desperate. "I have to!" Beverly layed a reassuring hand on her friend's
shoulder. "We'll find Will." "I promise," Picard added. Concern shined in his
eyes. "Now that we know he's alive, there is nothing that can hinder our
efforts." Deanna nodded. She reluctantly let her eyelids flutter shut, unable
to keep them open.
After a few moments, Beverly glanced at the monitors on the wall. "She's
asleep," she whispered to Jean-Luc. The Captain nodded. "Don't wake her.
Whatever happened, she shouldn't have to face it yet." 

Almost everyone had left sickbay. The instruments hummed softly, glowed
green against the dim lights. Deanna could see the shadows of those on night
shift gliding from bed to bed. She quickly shut her eyes again and waited for
them to pass.
A few seconds later, she reasessed the situation. They were gone. The pain
in her abdomen had ceased; it was more than likely that her injuries had been
healed, no matter how serious. She had to try again. Somehow, she had to return
to Will.
Quickly double-checking that no one was around, Deanna cleared her mind
and prepared herself. She had to disobey orders, no matter what the cost to
herself. Concentrating, she reached out and tried to find the other half of her
soul. . . . 

"The Healing Game" [PG] 3\3 (TNG, R\T)
From: xmasfrog@aol.com (Xmas Frog)

Her entire body ached with a pain so intense that Deanna had to lay
completely still on the ground, unable to move or think. The "floor" was slick
and clammy, almost like stone. She curled into a fetal position and tried to
block out the overwhelming nausea that had abruptly permeated her being. "Ohh.
. . ." a soft moan escaped her lips. Deanna didn't know how much longer she
could tolerate what was happening.
He was here. Despite everything that had overcome her, Deanna could feel
Will's presence as if he were right next to her. She had to find him. Using
this conviction as as fuel, she managed to get to her knees. She placed her
palms flat on the floor and pushed upwards-- slowly, slowly, she managed to
stand. Wherever she was, it was the same place she had visited before. Troi
massaged her temples furiously and tried to see through the blackness. She
stretched out with her mind. . . . and instantly became dizzy. Her ears rushed
and before she could stop herself Deanna had fallen again. 
Before rising, she once more attempted to mentally locate Will; the same
sense of dizziness scattered her thoughts and broke her connection. It was only
through sheer will power that Deanna managed to remain conscious. Stripped of
the unique imzadi telepathy, the Counselor was little more than a vulnerable. .
. . human. Like Will. She had done this before, she could manage again. How had
she done it before?
Instinct. Deanna rose again, the pain and nausea had subsided enough for
her to move around. She began to walk forward, letting her heart of hearts
guide her to wherever her Imzadi was. She had no idea where she was going--
indeed, she had no idea what she was even doing. Clearly, she was not as close
(proximity-wise) to him as before. "Will?" she whispered. The effort of any
other speech seemed too great to fathom.
Step by small step, Deanna plodded forward. She had not encountered any
walls, only the floor beneath her. This also served as an impediment-- Deanna
felt she could slip at any moment. Her bare feet were chilled and numb already.
Still she walked on. She could feel him, every part of her sensed him. After
what seemed an eternity, Deanna somehow knew she had gotten closer. This
renewed her hopes and pushed her onward. She let her mind wander back to a time
without him. . . . what things had been like for the last two months. The
possibilty that he was alive now sent chills of uncontained happiness through
her. She shut her eyes, finding the void easier to bear if she didn't feel as
if it was closing in on her. Deanna had never been afraid of the dark before,
but this unending night sparked a fear in her that was quelled only by her
solitary goal.

Farther, farther, ever farther. So close, and yet so far! She dared not
reach out to him, lest she be swallowed up by the blackness that she trudged
through. Her thoughts wandered to her father, and in an act that almost always
brought her comfort, Deanna began to sing. "Down in the valley, valley so low,
hang your head over, hear the wind blow. . . ." 
He was here.
Deanna dropped down and reached in front of her-- her hand grazed soft
cloth. She knew without further examination it was Will. There was no time to
try and communicate with him, she could feel him growing weaker each second.
She had to get him back. Sliding her arms under his back and neck, she managed
to hoist his upper body to a seated position. Teeny Tiny Troi laced her arms
under his and with every last ounce of strength in her hoisted him to his feet.
His unmoving body weight slumped against her. She tried to step forward, but
found that the floor had vanished. 
The last thing Deanna remembered was falling down, down, in an abyss that
seemed to have no bottom.

Beverly hovered over the two with the concern of a mother hen. Deanna and
Will were peacefully resting on two adjacent biobeds, their hands intertwined.
She'd never understand them-- she didn't even try to.
Will's eyes were the first to flutter open some time later. He sat bolt
upright, not realizing where he was. He shielded his eyes with his hands and
glanced around himself in confusion. Crusher quickly appeared at his side,
scanning his vital signs. "Welcome back, Will," she greeted him, grinning from
ear to ear. "What? What? Where. . . . how. . . .?" Riker tried to voice his
questions without success. Captain Picard chose just that moment to make his
entrance, and he too could not contain his happiness at the reappearance of his
first officer. "Will! I see you decided to rejoin us after all." Riker
grimaced, smiling sarcastically. "Yeah, you could say that. Where the hell was
I, Captain?" Jean-Luc's demeanor sombered noticably. "The answer to your
question will come in due time." As if on cue, Deanna began to moan softly, her
breathing adjusted to its normal, more rapid rhythm, and her eyelids snapped
open. Within a few seconds she had acclimated herself, and upon noticing Will
next to her she froze. A small nod was all that passed between the Captain and
the ship's CMO, but it was enough-- both made a subtle exit out of sickbay.
For what seemed like forever, Deanna remained motionless. She cupped her
chin in her hands and peered at Riker, her face expressionless. Enough is
enough, Riker decided pointedly. He reached a hand out to Deanna. She shut her
eyes, and when she opened them again they were glistening with tears.
Trembling, she placed her small hand in his. He tightened his grip, and without
further ado, Troi slid off her examination table and curled up against Will.
They both wept openly, their icy tears a mixture of pain and joy, mingling as
they fell and pooled on each other's shoulder. Riker was not one to cry in any
sense of the word, but the last two months had been hell on him as well. Deanna
kissed his cheek softly. Not a word passed between them, as silently their
souls were reunited.


Chief Medical Officer's Log, Supplemental
To all of our great joy, Commander William Thelonius Riker has returned.
Through the research of the Captain and Data, we discovered that at the moment
of transport he was abducted and banished to a hellish confine somewhere
between the second and third dimensions. This lack of total dimension as we
know it placed severe compression on his entire body, emulating the conditions
experienced by being underwater at extreme depths. I am still incredulous that
he survived as long as he did. When he returned to us all of his internal
organs were bleeding heavily and his brain was oxygen deprived; however, no
permanent damage was retained. He may have been experiencing delusions because
of this. He was also extremely malnourished. I treated most of his injuries
within the first twenty four hours, but prolonged his stay in sick bay to run
further tests and heal other, more minor injuries-- ebrasions and bruises to
the outer epidermis, possibly self-inflicted and probably in an attempt to
retain consciousness. I will speak to Will about this when I next see him; he
is reporting to sickbay every morning for the next two weeks. I am unsure what
other effect the dimensional shift may have caused and I am monitoring his
I have re-analyzed the cellular residue found on the transporter pad,
originally thought to be Commander Riker. The DNA patterns are still
inconclusive, but I have found minute sequence mutations since my last scan. It
is possible that some form of DNA alteration was used. 
And then there is the matter of Counselor Troi. After her first jump to
"2.5d," her symptoms were mild and easily treatable; when she returned the
second time, they were almost identical to the Commander's, although her stay
there was for a much shorter time period. Apparently she established some sort
of mental link with Riker, and was also pulled into 2.5. She managed to bridge
the gap between the two dimensions-- how she did this remains a mystery. In any
event, she is now back and under surveillance as well.
Although we are still unsure of how or why this happened, almost all
evidence points back to the Delronians and their request for "physical
compensation" after we accidentally breached their space. . . .

* * *

The dim candlelight painted shadowy pictures on the faces of Riker and
Troi. Their half-finished dinner dishes remained where the Counselor and
Commander had left them. They clasped hands across the table, looking into the
depths of each other's eyes and seeing a reflection of themselves. Riker was
the first to break the silence that had settled over his quarters some time
ago. When he spoke, his voice broke softly. "It hurts."
Deanna did not need to ask what hurt, nor did she need to question him
further: her own wounds were an echo of what he was feeling. It was a tricky
thing, this healing game. She had played it before. But this time, something
was different-- that something that made everything worth while, that told her
everything was going to be alright in a voice so reassuring that she was
compelled to believe it. She responded with gentle conviction, kissing the top
of his hand delicately. "I know. But it doesn't have to hurt alone."