Rating: G

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I had been looking forward to seeing you again.

Mother, of course, was appalled. "You are going to get together with that Federation man? Oh, darling, he's just going to break your heart."

I ignored her. I was in love; you were my Imzadi. There was no possible way you were going to hurt me. I shut her out of my mind until she threw her hands up in the air and left my room. With a smile, I finished packing. I took special care with a white scented nightgown - one I was sure you would love.

I arrived at Risa and checked into the hotel we had agreed to meet at. You weren't there. I wasn't worried; I knew that a mission might have taken longer than you had anticipated. So I unpacked and enjoyed myself on the beach. And waited.

Two days passed. I began to worry. What if something had happened to you? Would Starfleet even know how to notify me? I wasn't even sure of how to contact them. I thought about contacting Mother to see if she'd heard anything, but I did not want to deal with her until I knew what had happened to you.

The third day, I returned to my room after a lonely walk on the beach to see a message light flashing on my comm panel. I ran to it, my heart pounding. When I activated it, there you stood, in your Starfleet uniform, looking well...but somewhat nervous.

You cleared your throat. "Hello, Deanna...I hope this message finds you well. You're probably wondering where I am."

I sat down, my eyes never leaving the screen. I knew something was wrong. You continued:

"The thing is, I was offered this great opportunity - a promotion. It's another step, Deanna, a step towards becoming a Captain. You remember, I told you how badly I want that..."

"What about us?" I asked you, already sensing the answer. Your image looked away from the screen for a moment, then continued speaking:

"I can't come to Risa. And I realize if I am going to make Captain, I have to be totally focused on it. I can't allow myself to be distracted, as much as I'd like to be."

"Distracted?" I echoed, a fire slowly building in me. "DISTRACTED?"

As if it had heard me, your image winced. "You are a wonderful woman, Deanna.. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me." You paused, and then began to speak again. But you stopped. Instead you blew a kiss to the screen, and then your image vanished, to be replaced by the hotel's menu screen.

"That's IT?" I yelled, rising out of my chair. "Thanks for the fling, have a nice life??!" I hauled back and slammed my fist into the screen. It shuddered and I felt pain shoot up my arm. I grabbed my injured hand and moaned, still staring at the screen through a red haze of fury.

A calm computer voice intoned, "Would you like to save or delete this message?"

I was ready to delete it. The word was in my mind and I was ready to scream it to the ceiling. I opened my mouth - and to my surprise, the word "Save," came out.

I was still trembling with anger. How could you DO this to me? Did you understand how humiliating it would be for me to return to Betazed, to face my MOTHER?!

My eyes fell on my travel case. Needing to take my rage out on something, I threw it open and dug through it until I found the nightgown I had so lovingly packed. I pulled and tugged at the fabric but could not tear it at first. I left the room and went to the beach, searching until I found a broken seashell. I stepped on the edge of the nightgown, pulling it taut, and slashed at it again and again with the broken shell until it was ragged and tattered. I then balled it and the broken shell up in my hands and flung it into the sea. Only then I realized my face was wet with tears and my throat was sore from sobs. I sank to my knees in the wet sand and cried my heart out.

I returned to Betazed. Mother of course could not refrain from a lot of "I told you so, Deanna." I listened silently, and then her voice trailed off. "Little One," she spoke in my mind, "please don't let him do this to you."

I said nothing in response. I turned towards the stairs to go to my room, but my mother caught my arm. "Deanna, please. No man is worth this."

My lips quivered. "Mother, we were - are - Imzadi."

My mother sighed. Then she nodded. "Then if you are truly Imzadi he won't be gone forever." She thought for a minute. "What was his message again? May I see it?"

I didn't understand. I almost told her no, but suddenly I wanted to see your face again, even if it were painful. I handed the disk to her mother.

Mother watched your message without saying a word. When it was over, she nodded. "Well, I thought so."

I was puzzled. "Mother?"

Mother looked up at me, a sad smile on her face. "He didn't say goodbye, Deanna." She saw the confusion on my face and continued. "He didn't say goodbye because he COULD NOT say goodbye. He will be back someday Deanna."

I shook my head. I so wanted to believe her...

Mother gave a small laugh. "Believe me, Deanna, I would much rather he was gone for good. I doubt he will ever be able to commit to you and be the sort of husband a Daughter of the Fifth House requires - "

"Mother!" I protested. She held up a hand and continued.

"But it is obvious that you have some sort of bond," she looked back at the message disk, and then at me. "Am I wrong? I suppose I could find a way to contact him on whatever ship he's on. Do you want to speak to him?"

"No!" I said quickly.

Mother raised her eyebrows.

I lowered my eyes. My voice came out as a whisper. "I can't talk to him now. If I do...he might say goodbye. And I can't."

With an understanding smile, mother stood up and placed her hands on my shoulders. "Rabeem, dear." Now go upstairs and wash your face. Dwelling on this will change nothing. Only time will." She kissed me then pushed me towards the stairs.

I went upstairs. After splashing my face with water, I looked into the mirror. It still hurt - I suspected it was going to hurt for a long while. But Mother was right - only time would test the truth of our bond. And I found that even in my pain I was beginning to understand.

You couldn't say goodbye. Neither could I.

Maybe someday we would be able to say "Hello" again.