Title: Good for the Soul Author: Copper Email: email@example.com Feedback: This is my first Imzadi fic so please let me know what you think… but keep all flames to yourself, I'm very nervous. Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything… and the writers own the tiny bit of dialogue that I've taken for the fic. I give the actors kudos for making the characters what they are. So please don't sue. Spoilers: "The Face of the Enemy" Rating: R/NC-17 for sensual situations Timeline: Right after 'Face of the Enemy' ends. Synopsis: The hardest confessions bring the most joy. Distribution: If you want to archive it, I'd be honoured - but please ask first and send me a link.
"I am Major Rakal..."
He could only stare.
Short, black hair, ears and ridges showing her to be Romulan, on top of the shapeless, bulky uniform and sashes of their secret service... yet it was her chin, softly pointed... her voice - clear and strong... and the deep brown eyes he'd loved from the moment he met her. How...? Why...? and God, let her be all right. Yet, none of this registered on his face.
Only when the link was broken did he stride down the ramp and ask, "What is she doing aboard that ship?"
The least important question, but the only one he could ask under the circumstances, knowing that to let his fear and worry overcome could increase the danger she was in.
So, Riker followed orders and waited... knowing that until Deanna was back he wouldn't be able to draw a proper breath.
And when Laforge transmitted the unnecessary message to the bridge that she was safely back and on her way sickbay, the vice he hadn't acknowledged loosened around his heart.
Troi was still sitting, staring, where the captain had left her; so deep in thought that she didn't feel the pull and was surprised when a deep, laughing voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Hey, gorgeous. I come bearing gifts."
A small grin played on her lips as she looked into her friend's blue eyes. "Yes, hospital gowns, dull hair and a lack of make-up make a woman feel beautiful."
"On you…" The rest of the comeback was lost as he pulled her to him, but it was rewarded with a small chuckle.
Briefly he pressed his lips to her hair before pulling back and picking up the bundle he'd placed beside her. "Maybe these will help."
For a moment, she just looked at the clothes.
"Deanna?" he asked quietly.
Flushing slightly, the Counselor hopped down and hurried to get changed, leaving the Commander standing concerned by the bed.
"Will?" As Beverly tapped him on the shoulder, he started. "Waiting for Deanna?"
The dark head nodded. "How is she?"
"Physically she's fine. We were able to reverse the surgical alterations, including returning her skin to its normal pale colour, and there should be no lingering effects from them. However… emotionally she's been through a very trying time and…" The doctor's slender shoulders lifted but the man understood.
The Betazoid was a strong woman, willing to listen and help others in any way possible - but when it came to herself, she was inclined to hold things in.
With a squeeze, he thanked the redhead for the information and her concern, reassuring her that he'd watch over the other woman.
Riker leaned against the bed, watching as Troi returned wearing one of her loose dresses. He admired the way it followed her lush curves, giving away nothing but a glimpse of cleavage. He noticed she'd brushed out her hair and applied light make up of some sort emphasizing her eyes.
Patiently he waited, as she gave the gown to a nurse and exchanged a few words with Crusher before joining him.
Their eyes met, held, and his large hand enclosed her slim one, fingers entwining as they exited sickbay.
He followed her into her quarters, motioning her to sit and get comfortable. Once assured she was settled, he walked to the replicator.
"Computer, hot cocoa… with marshmallows."
Riker watched an absently bemused smile pass over his friend's features.
"They're absolutely essential," he nodded solemnly, carrying the hot drink to her, before sitting down on the chair across from her.
Silently Will watched the Betazoid take a careful sip, curling her tongue around a slightly melted white puff, grinning at her small sigh of pleasure. He loved how she savoured each mouthful of the chocolate - Gods, how often had he wished to be that mouthful, to be the one being savoured?
But tonight such thoughts were easily pushed away. Her normal concentration disappearing, replaced by pensiveness and… he wasn't sure what only that it made him want to yell at her to talk to him and to clasp her to him at the same time.
Shifting his large body, he let his eyes trail over her… once again reassuring himself that she was there and as Beverly had said, completely fine physically.
So intent was his inspection that he didn't see her look up and cringe slightly before placing the empty mug on the table.
"So, see anything you like?" Deanna laughed a slightly strained sound but laughter nonetheless, as he almost jumped from his seat.
Lips curved wryly. "Just making sure you're all there. Wouldn't want any of my favourite girl to be missing."
"If I wasn't so tired," she made a pretense of yawning, "I'd call you on that, Commander, but for tonight…"
Will leaned forward. "Deanna…" Her forced attempt innocence provoked a glare. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Will, I'm fine. Tired but fine. Beverly did a good job and now all I want is to have a nice relaxing bath and sleep."
"Damn it, Deanna, don't lie to me. You're wound tighter than a watch spring. If I leave the last thing you're going to do is sleep." Standing up, the dark-haired man came around the table to grasp her hands, preventing her interruption. "Hell, if you won't do it for yourself, talk for my sake. When I saw you on that ship…"
"What do you want me to say? That I was scared? Of course I was, anyone would have been."
"We're not talking about *everyone*, just you!" Momentarily his eyelids hid the flashing blue eyes, as he took deep breaths to calm himself. He could tell she was hanging on by a thread and her determination to be strong both angered him and inspired him. But he knew her and there was no way he was going to allow her to bear this alone, anymore than she would have let him had their positions been reversed.
Sighing he pulled her close, content for the moment to just hold her, pleased beyond measure that she was allowing even that minor comfort. Leaning back on the sofa, one large hand splayed across her back while running the fingers of the other through the wild, dark curls he loved.
"Where am…? What happened…No… no…"
Will was awakened by the struggling, crying beauty in his arms.
"Deanna… Deanna! It's all right. You're on the Enterprise… It's over. You're safe." The struggling stopped but the crying… he forced himself not to hold her too tightly. "Go ahead, let it out… I'm here. I won't let anything happen to you." And when she started gasping for breath, "Shhh… I've got you… safe in my arms… I won't let you go."
After what seemed like hours to him, the sobs and shaking stopped. Raising her chin, he placed a kiss on her brow before setting her back long enough to get up and get a warm damp cloth, which he used to gently wipe her face.
Placing the cloth on the table, heedless of the mess, he enfolded her hands with his own after brushing the hair off her face. Her expression was drawn but the tension and fear from a few hours earlier was lessened. Silently he waited for her to tell her story.
"I woke up and I didn't know where I was, but then remembered the psychology conference… I got up but felt… heavy. I asked for the lights but nothing happened… It was so dark." Her voice dropped to a whisper.
"It's all right… I'm here."
"I stumbled around 'til I found a sink and eventually light… or maybe it came on by itself, I'm not sure. I splashed water on my face but… it felt wrong… like it wasn't my face anymore… and when I looked up…" A huge shudder wracked the small body.
"Oh, Deanna…" For a moment Will crushed her to him again reassuring both that she was really there.
"I wanted to scream but couldn't… and then N'Vek came in. He said I'd been kidnapped for a purpose and if I wanted to live I'd have to trust him…" Her laugh almost hysterical as she flung her arms out in disbelief, narrowly missing Riker's cheek.
"I did it… everything he asked… I gave orders to a Romulan captain who trusted me less than we trust Q… or… or the Ferengi." She'd risen and started pacing, but blue eyes followed her every move, waiting patiently. "Toreth questioned me… tested me… And when I sensed the duplicity planned by those we were to meet… I had to make things up… Me!
"I'm a ship's counselor - not a military strategist. And I could feel… so much distrust and anger aimed at…me." Will started to rise, to gather her close again but she waved him off. "But it was nothing compared to knowing that N'Vek died to save me and the mission… and to know that if I didn't do something they would destroy the Enterprise… destroy…"
Was there an unspoken 'you' echoing in his head… or was he selfishly hoping? Either way, this time he ignored her wish. His only thought was to hold her until it was all out, because he couldn't just sit not holding her - for his sake as well as hers. Placing his strong hands on her shoulders he halted her mid-stride, but she was too intent on letting it out to care.
"I didn't want to die… I thought I'd die and never see Betazed again and hear Mother ask about my love life. Or beat O'Brien at poker… eat chocolate with Beverly… marvel at the beauty of the skies… Never help another person… I was so scared…"
As the tears poured down her face, Will picked her up and cradled her against his chest, walking back to the divan.
Minutes later, Troi opened her eyes and staring into his gave her last 'confession'. "I love you." At his somewhat stunned look she continued. "My biggest fear was that if I died I'd never get to tell you that I loved you. All these years… I always thought that someday…" Her slight shoulders lifted. "And then it seemed someday was never going to come… I'd die and never have the chance to tell you I loved you, that I'd never stopped." Turning her head, she brushed her lips against the palm that had begun to caress her face, letting them linger in the center.
Letting out a groan, Will's thumb wiped a lone tear from the corner of her eye before saying, "Oh, Imzadi…" I love you, he thought.
Before her dark eyes registered her surprise that he still remembered, his dark head lowered and he let his mind and lips talk for him, somehow knowing that she would understand.
The kiss was gentle, like butterfly wings, deepening so slowly, yet neither was in any hurry. Years had passed and a few more moments… or hours wouldn't matter. All they wanted to do was explore every inch of the other, to relearn what was the same and what had changed.
She loved the way his beard rasped gently on her skin, the way his lips were gentle and forceful at the same time, the way his hands were just holding her as hers were him.
Her tongue licked just inside his upper lip and he thought he'd explode, the feelings from that tiny act were so intense… but instead he filed it away, to tease her later as she teased him.
Only when their tongues finally entwined, mimicking the dance to be shared, did hands, small and large, begin to explore as their lips had done, slow, tantalizing strokes, her nails digging into his arms when his mouth descended to her throat, his beard tickling.
"Will…" For a moment their gazes locked - dark blue and almost black, then without words the clothes came off, until shy and confident they stood before the other, naked body and soul.
Her hips were a bit wider, her breasts slightly fuller and perhaps less firm but still proud in their arousal, and her eyes were older but they still shone as bright and as open to him as before and her skin was still luminescent… And he knew her heart and mind far better than he had all those years ago. The woman she'd become more amazing than his fantasies could have imagined.
Deanna noticed the laugh lines around his eyes that endeared him to her all the more. There was a little extra flesh at his middle but his arms were stronger, his thighs corded… the hair on his chest as thick and she felt the same urge to run her fingers through it as she had the first time he'd taken off his shirt. He'd grown, matured making good the promise she'd seen eight years before - his confidence, still cocky and sweet, his knowledge of himself, his deep affection for the ship and its crew, but at that moment… The empath sighed. His arousal was strong and he was as comfortable with it as ever… and knowing that she was the cause, all traces of her fear flew.
They stepped together at the same time, her nipples hardening more as their chests met. Hands caressed, nails pinched only to be soothed with mouths that kissed, licked, nipped, suckled, and all the while 'Imzadi' echoed in their spirits.
Man joined woman in the truest sense of the word and when climax hit, blue and almost black again met as one, the bond reopened, renewed and reborn.