New Beginnings


Author:             D. Destiny

Paring:             T, R/f

Timeframe:       Fifteen years after The Wedding

Disclaimer:       I think you've figured it out by now: THEY'RE NOT MINE! (Well Troi, Riker and the Picards aren't...)

Summary:         Will and Deanna meet again.

Author's note:    Again I remind you to read the other two stories (The End and The Wedding) of the h Katara-Trilogy

Archive:            Sure, as long as you leave my name on it, you can even eat it if you like...

WARNING:       It's not a pretty end :(


In 'The Wedding'


"And further. I am nervous, scared to death and angry. I'd like to be able to predict how we'll react to each other, but I can't. I don't know him anymore; it's been six years since we've seen each other, or said more to each other than standard pleasantries." Angrily Deanna wiped the fresh tears of her face.


"You haven't told him, have you?"


"No, I tried and gods I wanted to, but I couldn't. Not back then, not now and I'm not sure I'll ever can." Without saying another word Beverly moved to Deanna and enveloped her tiny form in her arms. In the safety of her friends embrace Deanna let her tears flow freely after keeping them back for far too long. "I don't know if I can face him Bev...It still hurts...*so* much!" Harsh sobs racked the Empath's body, interrupting her words. "I-I still miss him...l-love him...but I *hate* him!"



New Beginnings


"Mom, will you stop doing that?!" She always believed Aunt B's nail-biting was bad, but that simply paled against the agony of watching her mother pace in a confined room for thirty minutes! Never once in her lifetime had she seen her mother this nervous.


"Oh give me a break Liz, it won't kill me any faster." More than hearing the words Beverly saw the delay between the moves of Deanna's mouth and the words she heard. She was speaking Betazoid again. It happened more and more during the unguarded moments where Deanna would speak before think.


Immediately sensing the sadness her words invoked in her daughter Deanna dropped her head and drew Kyleigh into her arms. "I'm sorry Liz, I shouldn't have said that." The two women hugged each other tightly as if hanging on for dear life. ~You're right, you shouldn't~ came the mental reproach from the youngest.


Over her daughter's shoulder Deanna locked her eyes on Beverly , finding a mild reproach and compassion in them. "Gotta go now ladies. Don't forget the final check-up in Sickbay Dea and I'll see you at dinner in two hours. See ya!" Light-heartedly the redhead made her retreat, hoping to kill the heavy sphere that had entered the room.


When the doors had closed again mother and daughter let go of each other and sat down, Kyleigh curled up against Deanna's side. "Have you decided what to do yet?"


"Hmm, I'll await this mission and then try to get a posting on the Enterprise . With two Admirals backing me up, how could I not get the position?" Grinning broadly she watched her mother's reaction. "Just don't think I'll come over and do your laundry young lady," she grumbled.


"You won't?" Oh she was becoming too good at acting, Deanna thought to herself, all those drama classes. "Nope," she said aloud, "your Uncle Luc can do that." Kyleigh chuckled and shook her head. "And then they say I'm bad."


"What can I say? You take after your mother." With a nudge she ordered the twenty-one-year-old to get up. "C'mon let's get that check-up over and done with."



<Bridge to Captain Riker.> Throwing an apologetic glance at his family Riker retrieved his commbadge from a nearby table and activated it. "Riker here, go ahead."


<Sir, we've received new orders from Command.> He nearly caught himself at sighing loudly, how come he could never have a quiet day with his family? In all the years he'd been captain, the only true days off had been when he wasn't onboard the ship. "Patch it through to my quarters."


<Yes Sir.> Will pushed himself out his chair and reluctantly walked to the secluded corner where the display was stored, kissing his wife on her cheek as he passed by her. He keyed in his clearance code and pressed the display button. A holographic 3D image of Fleet Admiral Picard appeared and informed him of his new orders. The Titan was to take the Federation representative and her aides to Romulus for the peace negotiations.


When he rejoined his family his wife immediately noticed the tension that had etched his face so quickly. "Will?" For a minute he cast his eyes down and studied the *very* interesting surface of the table, then he raised them to meet Serah's green gaze. "We have to take the Federation representative to Romulus ."


"What's so bad about that?" His youngest son queried.


"Lwaxana Troi." Two words that had the same meaning to most captain's, admirals and ambassadors of the Federation. A woman that could make anyone feel but one inch tall and naked into the bargain. Ambassador. Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed. Chalice of Rixx. Rings. Telepath. Deanna Troi. The words that would spin through his mind whenever her name was mentioned. Oh this trip to the Romulan Empire would be a challenging one to say the least. Or perhaps 'frightening' would be a better word.


"I'm dead," Riker muttered, before attacking his dinner as if it would be his last.



Picking up the empty dishes from the table Deanna and Beverly disappeared into the kitchen area to prepare desert. In the distance they heard their children firing question after question at Admiral Picard and Beverly couldn't help but wonder what it was they didn't know after twenty-one years of questions. Even Wesley had them.


"Wesley looks great Bev, he's become a handsome young man." The Doctor glanced at her friend from the corners of her eyes. "This mind-reading of you is getting uncanny," she muttered and then grinned when Troi raised her eyebrows in a dramatic gesture, "but you're right. He looks so much like Jack. It's almost like going back in time." At that Deanna smiled and gently squeezed her hand. "And what better way to remember him? Okay, dessert's ready."


As the two women re-entered the dining area the conversation that had been going on stopped abruptly as their eyes fell on the unnaturally bright colours of the food. "What is that?!" Smirking Beverly and Deanna gave each of them a plate and sat down. "I'm not sure. It looks kinda like Betazoid Rhi'yat, but the colours are off." Totally confused Kyleigh probed the puddle of brightly coloured food with her spoon. Picard's eldest son Jack was a bit bolder and shut his eyes when he quickly took a bit and swallowed it. "Hey! It's actually quite good!" He exclaimed and took another. His enthusiasm soon was picked up by his younger brother Chris and his sister Deanna and the three finished the green, red, purple, blue and yellow coloured deserts in no-time.


Wesley and Kyleigh started to eat as well, not to be outdone by their younger siblings and cousins. ~Mom, how did you do this?~


~Hang around in space long enough and you'll see.~




~Noisy Flower I can't tell you, or I'd have to kill you.~ She shouldn't have said that, she realized the second she did. With tears already brimming in her eyes Kyleigh pushed herself away from the table and yelled, "WOULD YOU STOP JOKING ABOUT IT!" She ran to the door, her posture rigid and her jaw set. "Kyleigh!" Deanna called after her, but she kept running. Deanna quickly apologized and then left to track down her daughter.


"What was that all about?" Jack queered, noticing the grave mood that had settled in his parents. Beverly and Jean-Luc quickly exchanged a look and then turned back to their plates, not making a single sound. Fortunately the kids took the hint and didn't ask further.


Kyeigh ran through the corridors, her sight blinded by tears. She rushed into her quarters and to her bedroom where she collapsed on her bed and released her tears. She felt her mother's mind reach out to her but ignored it best she could. Being only a quarter Betazoid her mental powers were limited and although she was able to block most empaths and telepaths, blocking out family, especially her mother was something she hadn't quite mastered yet. Luckily Deanna would never intrude upon her privacy and when she'd sense Kyleigh wanted to be left alone she would let her be. Usually giving her a mental hug before doing so. Quite different than her grandmother who wasn't quite foreign to prying.


Her mother would come looking for her now though, being the direct cause for her daughter's distress Deanna would come to apologize and talk things over. Forever the psychologist, as the Picards always said. Outwardly composed Troi walked through the corridors on her way to the quarters assigned to her and her daughter. Her mind told her exactly where Kyleigh was and that she was crying. And indeed, when she entered their quarters she heard the quiet sobs coming from the bedroom.


Without speaking a word she climbed on the bed, drew her daughter's head against her chest and held her tightly. ~I'm sorry Flower.~ The youngest Troi sniffled and crawled even closer against her mother. ~I just wish you wouldn't joke about it.~ Stroking her daughter's hair Deanna momentarily strengthened the bond between them, comforting her child on as many levels as possible, wrapping a warm and soft blanket of love around her. ~I don't want to loose you.~


~You won't Little One, you never will. Not in your heart.~


~I know that, but not to hear your voice, not to see your smile or eyes...~ She broke of her sentence, unable to put her feelings into words, but relying on her mother's ability to pick them up.


~Oh Kyleigh, I may have decades ahead of me.~


~Yeah, if you go living on a planet with no sentient beings within sensing range.~ Slightly taken a back by the sarcasm in her voice Troi sighed and wiped the tears of her daughter's face, not realizing she herself had started to cry as well. ~I'll miss you mom, I'll miss you *so* much!~ The admission brought new tears to her eyes and she shed them freely, clinging onto the familiar body that was her mother's. ~Shh, I'm still here and I don't plan on going anywhere soon.~


Deanna kept her arms around Kyleigh and shared her tears until both were exhausted and drifted off to a deep sleep.


When Beverly Picard popped in an hour later to check on Deanna she found the two Troi's sleeping in each other's embrace, both wearing a content smile. It was one of the rare opportunities to watch them closely. Kyleigh look so much like her mother it was almost spooky, but now that both were laying still the few differences were easier to see.


Her Goddaughter's hair had lightened the past couple of years and was now chestnut brown. Since Deanna had stopped dying hers, her long curls had once again turned coal black. Fortunately for her she had inherited the Betazoid set of genes that prevented her hair loosing colour.


Beverly knew that if you looked closely Kyleigh's eyes weren't black as her mother's were, but a very dark blue. Her bone structure was nearly the same as that of Deanna, only she was three inches taller, less curvaceous and her features were just a bit less delicate than her mother's. In behaviour Kyleigh took more after her grandmother and father, but she had inherited Dea's sense of humour and serenity.


Mrs. Picard quickly retrieved a holographic camera from the living area and shot a picture. She'd frame it for Kyleigh's next birthday. Then she cautiously walked to Deanna's side and tried to wake her with a gentle nudge.


"Dea? Time for your medication." She was surprised to see the Betazoid reacting, because she normally took a couple of minutes to wake up. Without opening her eyes Troi held out her hand and when Beverly put the hypo in it she brought it to her neck and injected the medicine. Smiling the Doctor took the hypo back and quietly left the room. Only when she was down the corridor she held still to wipe the tears out her eyes.


New Beginnings (2)



"Will, stop pacing will you?" He did as asked, nervously playing with the end of the sleeve of his dress uniform. Next to him his wife and CMO tried desperately to focus on anything but her captain's nervous behaviour.


"Is my hair okay?"


"Geez Will, relax! She won't kill you for a stray lock of hair."


"No," he agreed, "no, she'll kill me no matter what." Noticing his wife's frown he threw his hands up in the air and started pacing again. "Serah, she's Deanna's mother! She protects Deanna more fervently than a Vulcan protects his sanity! Lwaxana Troi is a force to be reckoned with, especially when she's angry."


"Will, it's been twenty years. If she wanted you dead you wouldn't be standing here right now." The logic in her words were registered in Riker's mind, but nonetheless he was dealing with Lwaxana Troi and Lwaxana Troi was more unpredictable than an Olir'tak'toe. His time to worry was cut short when the ensign behind the console informed him the ambassador of Betazed was prepared to beam up. Sighing heavily and resigning himself to the inevitability of Lwaxana in ‘protection-mode’, he nodded and waited until the through the blue glimmers of the transporters beam three people became visible.


He gasped loudly and vaguely felt his wife's hand on his arm, before he --out of habit-- took a step towards the platform and extended his hand. "Ambassador, welcome onboard the Titan."  Taken a back by the formality in his voice Deanna slowly stepped down and accepted his held-out hand. "Captain." Politely she nodded and then stepped aside so that Will could welcome Beverly and Kyleigh while she said hello to Serah.


Will was surprised that when Beverly stepped down she made no attempt at all to hug him like he expected. He quickly forgot about that when his eyes fell on the young woman accompanying his old friends. His mouth fell open and his eyes nearly popped out his head. It was like he'd gone back in time by forty years. Right there in front of him stood Deanna, looking almost exactly the way she had when he had first met her.


When the woman stepped up to him and held out her hand he snapped out his reverie just in time to see the look the woman in front of him exchanged with Deanna. "Lieutenant Felisia Troi, sir." Dumbfounded he barely managed to accept her hand and continued to stare at her. "Captain, if you excuse us. My mother and I are exhausted from the trip; we'd like to be shown our quarters." Half out of surprise he turned towards Deanna, just missing the disapproving glare she shot her daughter. He did catch Beverly grinning and briefly wondered what was going on between the three women.


Exchanging a quick look with his wife he gestured at the door and began guiding the women to their quarters. After he had pointed Deanna her quarters and assigned the one next to those to Kyleigh she declined, pointing out that she would stay with her mother for the duration of the journey. When
Will bemusedly thought how depended Deanna's daughter was on her mother, it earned him a glare from Troi which struck him as odd for she couldn't have picked up on his thoughts. He could no longer sense her, therefore he assumed the bond was severed. There was no way she could hear what he was thinking.


Writing it off as a coincidence he watched the Trois retreat into their quarters and was again surprised when Beverly remained outside hers. "Will, could you show me to Sickbay?" Until then it hadn't occurred to him it was quite unusual to bring a medical physician along to negotiations of such a delicate nature. "Of course, is there something wrong?"


"No," she stated absently, "no, everything's as well as can be."



"Mom! Mom, I can't find Flow!" Now there's a surprise, Deanna thought sarcastically. "I'm sure she'll turn up somewhere Liz."




"Oh all right." After a quick roll of her eyes Deanna obeyed her daughter's wishes and scanned for their pet. Flow was a six month old Betazoid kitten and already she managed to escape from pretty much everything. One would almost suspect she was an offspring from Data's first cat Spot. This time Flow had managed to --a small grin splayed across Troi's face-- the Bridge, oh she could just imagine the look on Riker's face. "Okay, I'll go get her."




"What? I'm just going to pick up our troublemaker." Slowly Kyleigh came into the room, her dark eyes suspiciously eying her mother. "Where is she?" Deanna didn't yield under her daughter's strict glare and with a warning glance broke eye contact moved to the door.


"Look Kyleigh, it's no big deal. I wanted to make a stroll around the ship any way; I'll pick her up in the mean while." Kyleigh blinked at Deanna's use of her official first name. She's been called Lishia or Liz for as long as she could remember and her mother only used her first name when she was getting angry.


"She's near Riker, is she not?" Taking a deep breath Deanna turned around and locked her eyes on her daughter's, conveying with one simple look that she wouldn't divulge any objection against what she was going to say. "Look, for the past three days you've managed to keep me away from him one way or the other, but I can't avoid him forever and we *are* on his ship. So I might as well face him and hope I can talk him out of throwing you in the brig for endangering ship's procedures which is exactly what he wants to do right now." With those words Troi spun around one more time and left the room.


She had meant what she said, at this point Riker really did want to throw Flow's owner in the brig, his only problem was that he didn't know who the cat’s owner was. She had known exactly when the black kitten had jumped onto his lap at the middle of the bridge and had sensed Will's irritation as well as the amusement of the officers around him. Barely managing to suppress a grin she exited the turbolift and stepped upon the bridge.


"Flow! There you are!" At her exclamation all heads turned towards her. She ignored them and hurried down to where Riker was sitting with a black ball of fur on his lap. Flow was stubborn, to say the least. When in the right mood she'd find herself a lap to lie on and no matter how often she was thrown off, she'd always clime back. Oh yes, Betazoid kittens could be quite annoying.


"De--Deanna." For a brief second their eyes met, triggering flashes of memories but just as quickly she pushed them back where they belonged...far away in a dark corner of her psyche. Only to be remembered when she wanted to.


"Hello to you too Will. I believe you have something that is mine." She bent over and picked the little kitten up, holding it against her chest. "Thanks for watching her Will, she's real trouble sometimes." Her coy behaviour stunned him into silence, not at all like the way she'd behaved last time they'd seen each other, at Jean-Luc's wedding. "You're, you're welcome," he managed at last.


She was about to step back into the turbolift when he called after her. "Deanna! Maybe we could meet tonight in Ten-Forward or so?" His sudden burst of unprofessionalism surprised her, never had she seen him act like this on the bridge, but then she hadn't been a good example either and who knew how he had changed the past two decades?


"I'm afraid not Captain, I've got an appointment with my doctor." Before he could reply the doors closed and the lift began to move. Immediately Deanna sagged against the wall and hid her face in her free hand. She hadn't meant to reveal that! So far all three of them had been able to conceal the fact that Beverly was with them for medical support, Will would definitely start to ask questions now. "Damnit, damnit, *damnit*!"



Although Deanna had already left the bridge Riker could still see her. She hadn't changed much at all. Her hair was still as dark and as curly as it had been fifteen years ago. She had told him long ago that unlike Humans, Betazoids didn't loose their hair colour and now he could see that was indeed true. Her face had more lines than he remembered, but being in Starfleet did that to you and she looked every bit as beautiful as when he'd first met her.


In the three days that Ambassador Troi and her companions had been aboard, he had hardly seen her. Whenever they would run into each other it would be only a matter of seconds before Lieutenant Troi or Beverly would turn up and whisk Deanna away. Now that he saw how Deanna acted around him and that she apparently didn't mind being near him at all he began to wonder what was going on.


There were many things that just didn't make sense to him, but up and until now he had shoved them aside as eccentricities. He wasn't so sure now anymore though. Deanna was the only delegate send to Romulus , where normally the Federation would send a team. And there was a doctor accompanying her, and more disturbing, that doctor had already spend quite some time in his Sickbay without revealing why.


Could there be something wrong with Deanna? An illness of some kind that forced her to take medicine and keep a close watch on her health? But if that was true why hadn't he been informed? Did the Federation Council even know? It seemed he would just have to find out himself.



"Liz! Hurry up, you're late."


"I'm coming!" Quickly she replicated a towel and then headed to the doors, passing her mother on her way. "What? No fight about you coming along?" Deanna began to get quite annoyed by her daughter's motherly attitude, but as yet she wouldn't say so. "Nope, I've got some things I want to do. Good luck."


"Thanks Mom." Troi smiled knowingly and gave her daughter a quick good-bye kiss. Kyleigh and an old classmate of hers, Iza, hurried down the corridors, on their way to a velocity competition that would be held on one of the Holodecks. Deanna was glad that Iza had been stationed on the Titan, for now Kyleigh wouldn't hover around her constantly. Tonight she'd be alone; Kyleigh on the Holodeck and Beverly would spend the night talking with her husband over the commchannel.


Smiling contently she picked up her hot-chocolate and nestled herself in a big chair. It wasn't long before her thoughts began to wander through the years of her life and for once she allowed herself to remember.



This was ridiculous! He couldn't get a hold on *anyone* who might know what was going on. Admiral Picard had dodged his questions with his usual slyness, Beverly would just murmur that 'everything's as well as can be' and to make matters even more curious Deanna's personnel file required an Alpha One clearance. It seemed he had only one option left.


New Beginnings (3/8)



The soft chimes of the door woke her from a mild meditating state. "Come in!" The door slipped open and the visitor entered the dark quarters, cloaked in shadows. Deanna almost flew to her feet when she realized who the visitor was. "Will." Her lips moved, but no sound could be heard. With another step Riker stepped into the light, allowing Deanna to study his face. She however remained cloaked in darkness.  


"Deanna," The emotions she sensed from him told her the purpose of his visit; this would be a long night. "I'm not going to dance around the subject. I am the one escorting you, your daughter and doctor Crusher to Romulus , for the sake of my ship and my crew I demand to be given all information I request." She raised her eyes slowly, eying him without looking. Both kept quiet, waiting for the other to speak first. Eventually it was Will who broke the silence.


"What is going on?" A simple question, unfortunately one she wasn't prepared to answer yet.


"What do you mean?" Of course she knew *exactly* what he meant, she could hear his thoughts as clearly as she could see him. Unlike she expected Riker played along, apparently not willing to quarrel about ducking questions. "Why is Beverly here? What is she doing in my Sickbay? Why is your personnel file classified and why won't anyone at command explain to me why your the only negotiator they send?!" As he summed up his questions, his anger began to rise and she could feel him fighting for control.


Making sure she kept a pleasant smile she sat back down on the couch. "Will, I'm not prepared to answer th--"


"Damn it Deanna! Tell me what's going on!" Never had she seen him losing his temper this quickly and her eyes widened in fear. He must've worked himself up before coming to see her, frustrated by being unable to gain an answer to his questions. But it wasn't fair! After all these years he still believed he had the right to know. She could hear him thinking about Imzadi, the life they could've shared together and how it was unfair of her not to tell him what was going on. It wasn't fair for *him*, not when *he* was the cause of her illness, not when he was the one who would kill her!


"I WON'T" she yelled back, forcing him to take two steps back with the sheer loudness of her voice.



"Hey! You're the ambassador's kid right?"


"So?" She tried her best to keep the anger out her voice, but she wasn't as good at keeping her temper as her mother was. Unfortunately prejudges still existed and none were as stubborn as the old kid-of-high-placed-people. She'd been through it before and she probably would again.


"Must be handy to have your mommy guide you through the Academy." Kyleigh clenched her teeth together to restrain herself from snapping at the lieutenant who was bullying her. "Yeah, it's nice to have a parent making the time to help you out with psych classes." With a bit of luck she'd touched the right nerve. She knew out of experience that a lot of cadets on the Academy had parents in the Fleet who were too busy helping their kids. Judging from the emotions from the man she was right.


"Yeah well, most of us pull through it by themselves and not because some lady with good looks slept herself through the chain of command just to get her daughter through the Academy in three years." Too much, *no* one had the right to insult her, or her mother like that.


"Calo, don't go there." A young man stepped up behind the lieutenant to calm him, but his words had no influence, certainly not on Kyleigh.


"How dare you?! My mother happens to be one of the most respected people in the Federation. It's your father's own fault that she had to put him in jail. He just should've kept his pants zipped!" The name had run a bell. She had a good memory, certainly when it came to names and actions and when she heard his name she recalled an incident of a few years back.


A commander had been ordered counseling and because of his problem he'd ended up under her mother's care. After working with him for two weeks she'd dropped to the conclusion there was no way to change his attitude to women. Commander Calo had been so furious he had assaulted his counselor, leaving her with no other option but to incarcerate him. Apparently his son had no better attitude.


"You're mother is a bitch! I hope she'll die just as alone as my dad did!" That did it, his remark hit too close to home. "S'hori, draki T'wog!" Her alien words dumbfounded the others present for a brief moment. "Look guys, just leave each other alone." Again the young man tried to step between her and Calo, but again he couldn't calm either down.


"Oh right, the poor little girl cries as soon as someone dares to insult her perfect mother." And indeed, to her dismay she was crying and couldn't stop. "Listen mister, that my mother happens to be smarter than your dad is his problem and that you and your dad have no respect for women is also your problem, but don't *ever* insult my mother cause I promise I値l make you pay for it." The anger that laced her normally musical voice stunned the others present into silence.


"Oh really? You or your mommy? Y'know, maybe I'll just finish what my farther started." The pure hatred and evil that slammed into her mind made her heart skip a beat and before she could stop herself she cried out mentally for her mother. She stood there trembling, to angry to say anything and simply locked her eyes on Calo's. The fury in her gaze must have scared him, for he took a step back at the same moment the young man stepped between them again.


"Calo, you're out of line! You'd better shut up before the captain hears about this." He just stepped between them to block their view of each other when the doors slid apart and Deanna and Will hurried into the room.


"Liz, what's wrong?"


"Lieutenant," Riker's voiced boomed through the room, bringing all officers present to attention, "what's going on here?" His gaze was locked directly on Calo's, but when he didn't answer he shifted his eyes to the man standing between Calo and Kyleigh. Although Kyleigh hadn't yet answered her mother, the latter knew what was going on. Hearing the thoughts of those involved it wasn't difficult to guess what had happened prior to her arrival.


"Sir, lieutenant Calo insulted Lieutenant Troi and Ambassador Troi without apparent reason, sir." Through her tears Kyleigh frowned amused at the man's formal words. Having grown up among two of Starfleet's most renowned admirals she had never been very formal towards senior officers. She really was a Starfleet brat. "Lieutenants, I want to see the three of you in my ready room in one hour. Calo, you're confined to your quarters until then."


"Calo?!" Wide-eyed Deanna spun around. "Rick Calo?" His cold eyes flashed with hatred as he took a step towards her. "Counselor Troi." His voice dripped with venom.


"You look a great deal like your father." For a second his eyes troubled with confusion. The politeness and care in her voice threw him off balance, and for a second he wondered if she was the right person.


"I am," she answered his thought, "but I did what I had to do."


"Oh c'mon you just turned him down because he was a mere commander!" Deanna bit her lower lip trying to keep her anger inside; she sensed Kyleigh jumping into defence-mode and mentally ordered her to stay out of it. "LIEUTENANT!!!" The anger in Will's voice would've made Deanna jump into the air, hadn't she been aware of it before he opened his mouth. Her eyes remain locked with Calo, who was so engrossed in his hatred he hadn't even heard his captain.


"Unlike you and your father believe," an icy-quality now laced her voice and she spoke through clenched teeth, "I have never slept with an officer higher-ranked than me."


"That's enough." Again Riker tried to get their attention, but again he failed. "My father doesn't believe anything anymore bitch! He died in the godforsaken prison you put him in!" Deanna was genuinely sorry to hear that and the wave of sadness that came along with his words made her sway slightly. She was about to say how sorry she was when a familiar dagger of pain thrust into her mind. Her hands flew to her temples and she vaguely chided herself for not paying more attention as her knees failed to support her any longer and she sank to the floor.


"Mother!" Kyleigh shot forward and quickly hooked an arm around her mother's waist, easing her to the floor. "Troi to Crusher, she's having another attack!"


"Damnit," Beverly hissed over the comm, "I'll be right there." Numbly Riker stared at Deanna's face, his mind trapped in a flashback of his last encounter with her. "Everybody out! She needs space." Slowly the crewman backed out of the Holodeck, some lingering behind trying to see what was going on. But when Beverly stormed inside and told everyone in no uncertain terms to 'get lost' even Will obeyed. Within seconds of arriving she had pressed a hypo against Deanna's neck and was scanning her.


Outside the Holodeck Riker leaned against the door, what happened to Deanna had unsettled him a great deal. He recalled perfectly what had happened the morning after the Picards' wedding; she had experienced a similar pain then. Was she in any danger?



"All right, listen up. You're duty is to protect the Ambassador, keep your eyes on the Romulans around and be prepared at all times."


"Aye sir." The Captain nodded his appreciation, but didn't quite manage to suppress the feeling that something would go wrong. He spun around as the door behind him slid open to allow Ambassador Troi access to the transporter room. Deanna wore a beautiful flowing purple robe that lightly kissed the floor as she walked. A golden belt was tied around her waist, accentuating her curves even more. Her hair had been pulled back into a simple ponytail, a style he'd seen on her only one or two times before.


She looked as beautiful as possible, but beauty was the last thing on her mind. Her lips were drawn in a thin line and when she spoke her voice was laced with controlled anger. "What's this?" She froze in her steps as her eyes fell on the security team surrounding Will. "I thought I made it clear I'm going down alone." Her eyes held a look he hadn't seen many times before; this wasn't an issue to discuss.


"Ambassador, for your own safety--"


"My own safety Captain, will be best looked after when I'm alone down there." Will's mouth opened to protest but her glare made him change his mind. Damn it, he felt like Picard's XO again, trying to talk the Captain out of beaming down. Some things just never changed.


New Beginnings (4/8)


Nervous Will paced the bridge, driving his fellow officers slowly insane. This was the fourth day in row Deanna was down on Romulus, alone. He hadn't felt comfortable about her mission to begin with and since the incident at the Holodeck he had only become less comfortable. Each of the three women had refused to tell him what was going on with Deanna and she had looked completely drained when she returned to the ship last night. He was close to being worried out of his mind.


"I must say Ambassador Troi, you and I are more alike then I thought when we first met."

"Looks can be deceiving, don't you agree *commander*?" The romulan woman smiled genuinely and raised her glass. "To the treaty Major Rakal."

"To the treaty high-commander Toreth." From the first minute she had entered the chamber in which the Romulan High-command was seated Deanna had felt a sense of peace and quiet. After having been aboard star ships for the past two month it was a joy to be in a more scarcely populated area again. Far less unwanted thoughts and emotions would attack her here and then there was of course the odd density of the walls of the camber she was sitting in seemed to have some kind of muting effect on her telepathic awareness.

She studied the room once again, the interior was amazing. Quite different from how she had imagined it when still onboard the Enterprise. Green light illuminated the giant room, throwing mysterious shadows on the statues and ornaments. The most-likely handcrafted statues portrayed the mythological ancestors. Earlier that day I'ahj Toreth had told her the myths related to the statues.


"Hi," Kyleigh smoothly slid into the chair and eyed the occupant of the other one carefully, "I, uh...I wanted to thank you...for the other day. I hope captain Riker wasn't too hard on you." The young man put his glass down and leaned slightly forward. "Calo was out of line, I did it more for his sake than ours really." He watched his visitor smile; she had the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. Small dimples appeared in her chin and the corners of her mouth and sparkles of joy brightened her eyes.

"My mother told me as much." She could hit herself for saying that! Her mother had been so persistent on keeping the changes she'd undergone quiet ad here she was, telling them to the first man she encountered. "I thought Ambassador Troi was an empath?"

"She, uhm...she is. She must have drawn her conclusion from what she sensed of you." He seemed to search her eyes for something, then suddenly grinned and took another sip of his drink. "So what do you think of the Titan?" For a moment she lost herself in his green eyes, but managed to answer before making a fool out of herself. "She's definitely more elegant than the Enterprise." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, "is that a yes or a no?"

"It's a no I'm afraid."

"Oh...any particular reason? We got the best captain you know." She barely managed to keep the dismay of her face. She'd seen her father a couple of times and her mother had told her everything about him, sometimes through tears, sometimes not. She treasured that what her mother had told her, but she couldn't help being angry at him.

"That's what you think." She answered playfully, "but, before you interrogate me any further, I don't think I know your name."

"Well, then I at least know you're not a telepath. I'm Ian."

"Nice to meet you Ian, and I have only very limited telepathic powers." Again she seemed to drown in his eyes, but this time --unbeknownst to her-- he felt the same. The young woman across him had the most amazing eyes. He had heard that all Betazoids had black eyes, but hers had an almost magical glimmer, like the black hair of a horse.

"Erm...I-uh, I should go back. Duty and all." His eyes sparkled when he grinned, she realized that for the first time since she'd sat down at his table she was able to sense something from him. It was only the second time that had ever happened to her before; her own emotions were blocking her sense of him. "Maybe we can hook up tonight?" He asked as he stood up.

"Yeah," she whispered in return, "that would be nice."


Deanna thoroughly enjoyed her time on Romulus, she had learned a great deal more about their culture and her 'reunion' with Toreth had been far more relaxed then she had expected. Apparently Toreth had received a promotion not soon after the ordeal for catching N'Vek and bringing the possible cross-way to the attention of the Romulan Senate, thereby preventing other's from crossing over as well. And after her anger towards Deanna had subdued she had realized her situation and actually admired her for handling her role that convincing. It was for those reasons she had requested Troi's presence on the Federation delegation team.

"The vi'inerine tastes delicious." Slowly Toreth raised her eyes and looked at Troi, a small smile playing around her lips. "Really?" Noticing the mischievous sparkle in her eyes Deanna suddenly recalled her little 'incident' with the vi'inerine dish when on board the Kazara. "I actually spend the first week after I returned learning all Romulan dishes", she revealed. Surprised Toreth searched her eyes. "Ezu grap."

Troi grinned, "nope I'm not joking. I was so terrified of the thought ever ending up in a situation like that again that I spent the first two weeks studying Romulan culture." Stunned the Romulan woman glanced at the dark-haired beauty across the table, "you're not serious are you?" Instead of answer Troi merely looked...and looked...and looked until Toreth started laughing. "Well, I always thought you were an --what's the expression? Something with an animal."

"Eager beaver."

"Right! That's the one." The Betazoid smiled pleasantly and then drank the last bit of her wine. "It's been a long day High-Commander, if you'll excuse me I think I'll retire for--" Deanna flew upright from her chair, pushing the furniture backwards with such force it fell over. Her hands flew to her temples trying to master the pain embedding itself in her mind. "Help me", she begged with a small voice before falling unconscious.


"Enterprise?" Riker shot to his feet, finally something to take his mind off Deanna down on Romulus. "Enterprise, do you read? This is High-Commander Toreth, do you read?" Or so he thought.

"High-Commander? This is Captain--"

"Good, I need a direct link to either lieutenant Troi or Doctor Crusher. NOW" Her demands confused the hell out of all officers present on the bridge, but just when Will was about to ask for an explanation a second person hailed the bridge. "Lieutenant Troi to bridge, beam the ambassador to sickbay, *now*!" Startled by the urge in her voice Riker froze for a second, trying to decide whether to do as asked, or ask for an explanation. With a nod he ordered his helm-officer to beam Deanna to sickbay.

"All right, High-Commander, Miss Troi. I'd like to know what's happening." For a moment there was an uncomfortable silence, but then Toreth broke it. "Captain, with your permission I would like to come on board to see how Ambassador Troi is doing? Not to mention I'd like to meet that famous daughter of hers." Will blinked his eyes, swallowed and blinked again. What the heck was going on?! Keeping the delicacy of the negotiations in mind Riker reluctantly agreed. He would get his answers and if not, he would have to abort the mission. Deanna Troi might be an ambassador, but she wasn't a captain.


Three days. Three days since Deanna's latest accident and no explanation. Beverly would simply claim doctor-patient confidentiality and Lieutenant Troi would throw him a glare that could literally knock the air right out of him. And Deanna wasn't left alone for a single second. She hadn't left her quarters since released from sickbay and was always in the company of either Beverly or her daughter or --most surprisingly-- Toreth. She seemed to have built a strong friendship with the latter much to Riker's surprise.

His wife was only too aware of the strain his worries about Troi put on him; he slept badly, was quick tempered and not at all his joyful self. Being a doctor herself and more importantly being the Chief Medical Officer, she had been sure she could get an explanation, but the clearance codes to access Troi's medical file flew way over her head. A talk with Beverly Crusher-Picard hadn't shed any light on the Ambassador's condition either and the entire situation began to get unsettling for her on both a professional and a personal level. It was time for an explanation.


"WOW!" Deanna whistled as her daughter came out of the bathroom. "And just where are you going?"

"Just having a drink in Ten-Forward."

"Ah-huh." Kyleigh wasn't a person who normally spent a lot of time on how she looked, but tonight was different. Her hair was completely loose and she had put a thin layer of make-up on her face. A look she didn't normally sport. "Must be someone special."

"He better be, this date was supposed to happen three days ago." She handed her mother a silver necklace and turned her back towards her. Deanna fastened the necklace and zipped up her daughter's dress. "Oh...well, remember; give him a chance to explain before killing him."

"Yes Mommy." Throwing her mother the most innocent smile she had Kyleigh stepped out their quarters and headed for Ten-Forward. Barely three steps into the corridor her mother's familiar presence wrapped itself around her and then withdrew as far as possible to give her daughter all the privacy she needed.


"Dea, you have to meditate." With her concern shining in her eyes Beverly placed her hand over Deanna's. "Please stay a bit longer."

"Dea, you're exhausted. You really have to meditate and get some sleep." Seeing the objection in the ambassador's eyes the doctor continued, "I can see it in your eyes. The negotiations have worn you out. You're even too tired to talk Standard." With a deep sigh Deanna agreed with her statement, "all right. I'll see you tomorrow then?" Beverly winked at her friend and then retreated from the room, hoping Deanna would indeed get some rest.

She got up from the couch and walked to her bedroom where she put on a black nightgown and a robe. She sat down in front of the mirror, picked up her brush and began to work the tangles out her long curls with slow, long strokes. She continued to brush until there wasn't a single tangle to be found. Ever since she was a little child brushing her hair helped her to calm down and to relax and she had made it a ritual to brush her hair before her daily meditation.

In the living area she lit the candles one by one and then kneeled down in the middle of the star she'd created. With her eyes closed she untied her robe and slid it off her shoulders. Inhaling the scent of the candle she concentrated on evening her breathing and then crossed her arms over her chest, resting each hand on the opposite shoulder. Her breathing had slowed so far her heart was beating at only half the normal rate.

Gradually she let down her mental blocks, or at least what was left of them and allowed the thoughts and feelings of those around her to freely flow through her mind; the meditation-ritual helped her seal her own thoughts and emotions and ignore those of others. The ritual allowed her to relax the part of her mind that kept her sane during the day. In her trance like state she didn't hear the chimes of the door the first time they rang, nor the second, or the times thereafter.


New Beginnings (5/8)


"Deanna? Open up." Too impatient to wait any longer he used his authorization to overwrite the lock on her door. The scent and illumination of candles welcomed him as he entered her quarters. His eyes fell on the woman on the floor. Her feet were bare and long black curls cascaded down her shoulders and back. Slowly he walked around her until he could look directly at her face.

The light of the candles around her threw mysterious shadows on her features. To his shock he could see she was crying, tears were escaping from her closed eyes and trailed paths down her cheeks. With her arms folded across her chest she reminded him of an injured bird with it's wings folded in protection. "Deanna?" There wasn't the slightest reaction, not a single indication she was aware of his presence. "Deanna?" A little more forcefully now he called her name, for the moment he didn't care he was interrupting her meditation he wanted to talk and he wanted to talk now.

"Deanna!" Startled she jumped to her feet, accidentally bumping over the candle at her left. Its flame died even before it hit the floor, but she didn't notice, her eyes fixed on the man in front of her. His thoughts and unvoiced questions penetrated her mind, accompanied by the onslaught of his emotions. The force of them forced her to take a step back to keep herself from falling. "Are you all right?" Bewildered she stared at him for a second, his words making no more sense to her than French, but a fraction later the confusion wore off and she answered him.

"Yeah...I'm...I'm fine, just a bit dizzy." Still a bit unsteady on her feet she moved to blow out all the candles, after having ordered the computer to put on the light. A bit taken a back by her behaviour Riker could all but stare at her until she stood directly in front of him. "So? Why are you here?"

As he recalled the purpose of his visit his eyes hardened, a change that did not go unnoticed by Deanna. "I'm tired of being beat around the bush, I want some answers and I wanted them yesterday." She was bit thrown off by his use of an ancient phrase --she had never quite mastered all of them-- but her telepathy had no difficulties at all translating it. "I told you Captain," emphasizing his rank intentionally, she too allowed her eyes to harden, "I do not intend to explain anything to you."

Her defiant stance earned her a glare as he took a step towards her. "I don't care what you *intend* Ambassador, but if I don't get an answer, I will abort this mission." Shocked by his thread it took her a second to regain her composure, "you're not authorized to do so."

"I don't care. As long as you're onboard my ship I am responsible for you safety and health."

"KaRA Will! Echi ta ih'ari zinque Anna ta Criot, Kleizu'tzi!" Riker blinked at her alien words, not quite sure if he'd heard her correctly. When he realized he had he tried to make sense of the sentence relying on the tiny bit of Betazoid he knew, but all he could deduct was the curse ‘damn you!’ and 'five years'.

“Forgive but Ambassador, but my Betazoid is a bit rusty.” The words had left his mouth before he even realized it and his tone was much sharper than he wanted it to be.

“Oh, my mistake Captain,” she returned coldly and then called out to computer, “Computer: download translation program Troi-Beta-xi.” She didn’t bother to return his quizzical look, nor did she explain why she didn’t simply translate that one sentence and then continued in Standard. She was only too aware that she began to mix her maternal language with Standard more and more, especially when a conversation turned a bit more heated. Since archaic Betazoid was a language only spoken by Betazed’s House Members there were no standard translation-programs, therefore she had more or less created one herself.

Will stared at her as she ordered the computer to install the translation program. He had never known Deanna to speak Betazoid in the company of Starfleet officers, perhaps apart from a curse or scream of pleasure here and there. What worried him was that she hadn’t seemed to notice her switch of language. “Okay Deanna, just what the hell is going on?” Her head snapped up as she, apart from his words, also heard his thoughts.

“No William Riker, I’m not *too* proud to tell. It’s personal and I assure you it will *not* affect my negotiating abilities.” Troi clenched her teeth together in an attempt to keep her rising anger inside, but the anger and frustration emanating from Riker didn’t exactly help her to keep her calm. Will on his turn was fed up with her evasive manoeuvres, ever since she’d come onboard she’d managed to avoid him, treating him like nothing more than an annoying insubordinate officer.

“It already did!” Sometimes it really sucked to be a telepath, it hadn’t taken Deanna long to figure that out when her abilities began to broaden. His words didn’t infuriate her at all, but his thoughts where a completely different matter.

“No Will, I’m not too proud to acknowledge my mistakes, or to admit that I’m not completely healthy and I’m certainly not too aristocratic to allow others to see my weaknesses. But I *do not* feel *any* obligation to explain my condition to *you*. *If* my illness would affect my judgement, the Federation Council would never have allowed me to continue these negotiations without back-up.” But her words were lost on him, for he hadn’t heard a thing she said after confirming she *was* ill.

“So you *are* ill.” The Betazoid just stared at him, not confirming or denying his words vocally. Nonetheless Riker knew the answer. “Then the Council should postpone the negotiations until you’re better.”

“I won’t *get* better!!!” she yelled, for the first time since she’d learned about her terminal illness she acknowledged that she wouldn’t get better. Oh she’d said it before, but not quite like -this- and never before had the meaning really sunk in. She wouldn’t get better, she wouldn’t get to see her daughter marry and have children, she wouldn’t get to see her godchildren grow up, in a couple of years she wouldn’t *be* at all. And all of them she was to blame on *him*.

The man who still owned her soul, but didn’t realize it. The man whom she loved beyond words, but had hurt her so profoundly that she didn’t dare to acknowledge that love. The man who had continued his life and now had everything she had ever wanted. And she? She had a beautiful daughter whom she loved with all her heart, but she was alone. No love couldn’t equal the love of a soulmate, no love could fill the void in her heart and soul. Except the love of the man who was killing her.

“What?” His stammer caused her to look up at him, seeing him take a step back in shock.

“You heard me.” Riker was about to respond when the door hissed open and Kyleigh stormed in. “Mom?! Are you all right?” She came to an abrupt halt right in front of Riker and his breath stuck in his throat as her dark eyes shot daggers at him. “Leave my mother alone!!!”

“Kyleigh,” Deanna’s calm voice called out and made the younger Troi hold back whatever she was going to say, “I’ll be fine, go back to your date.”

“Mom! You can’t handle another attack, you *know* that!” Deanna’s heart winched as she saw and sensed her daughter’s tears, but she knew she had to do this. “I can,” with her hand she traced Kyleigh’s face, sending her love and assurance, “and I have to do this.” Sadly Kyleigh hung her head, knowing there was no way she could persuade her mother to let go.

“All right, I’ll go back, but don’t you think I’ll enjoy it!” Sensing her daughter’s chuckle Troi nudged her towards the door. “I wouldn’t have it any other way Little One.” Kyleigh was barely two steps outside or her mother’s familiar presence wrapped itself around her again. ~I’ll be fine, I promise.~

Riker snapped out his reverie and turned to look at Deanna again, the anger had left his eyes and was replaced by profound concern. “Dea,” his voice no longer held anger or frustration; he was pleading, “Please tell me what’s happening.” When she didn’t respond he fought to keep his frustration out his voice when he spoke again. “You’re worrying me Imzadi.” Her head snapped up, black eyes flashing with fury and hurt, mouth set in a thin line and teeth clenched together.

“Do *not* call me that!!! You have *no* right!!!” She lost her control, she could sense it, the rage flowing through every part of her being and his emotions and thoughts only made it worse. “No Will, I didn’t break the bond! I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Its part of who I am,” her voice has risen and she was speaking in Betazoid, but she didn’t noticed it, her mind consumed by the rage that had been growing inside her for too long.

“That bond is *sacred* Riker! It’s sacred and you just tossed it away as if it were nothing! And *you* broke it!” Reacting to his thoughts now she continued her tirade. “*You* severed the link by marrying another woman!” Black eyes spilled tears on her cheeks and her jaw began to hurt by the force wit which she was clenched her teeth while she spoke. “You forced me away from my home, you stole my soul and left my heart behind, hollow and scarred!” Never had he heard her speak with such fury and pain at the same time, never had he seen her this enraged. And it scared the hell out of him.

“And never once did you look back! Never once did you send me a message, or did you try to contact me! And now, after twenty-one years you come barging in here, demanding me to tell you what’s wrong! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT!!!” Her words penetrated his ear, their meaning his mind. Was he really the one who had broken the link? Caused her all the anguish she was expressing now? And had she really wanted him to contact her? He never thought she would, he always believed she was determined to break all contact with him.

“God Dea, I wanted to contact you a million times over! I wanted to run back to you, see your smile, your eyes, and feel your love. I wanted to take you in my arms, undo the hurt I had caused you. *Love* you.”

“You don’t really expect me to believe that do you?! For god’s sake, you *married* another woman barely *three* MONTHS after we split up! You married, had a son, your own ship! Everything you ever wanted! And you left me behind!” His emotions slammed into her, guilt, longing, concern, but she didn’t want any of it. She didn’t want him to apologize, for no apology could make up for what he’d done to her. “You left me behind with a broken bond, one half of a whole. You left me bereft of my ability to love!” Her last words, more than anything shocked him and questions shot through his mind. “Yes, the bond meant that much to me.” The sudden calmness in her voice startled him and to his relief he saw she had stopped crying.

“I’m sorry Deanna, I really am. I believed you never wanted to hear from me again.”

“I don’t want your apology Will, it’s too late for that, it’s too late for everything.” He was about to ask what she meant when the door opened again. “Deanna?” This time it was Beverly’s alarmed voice which drew their attention. She was already half across the room when she noticed Will. “Captain,” she acknowledged him, and then turned to Deanna, “Dea, you’re psilo-synine and Kratzio levels are dangerously high, you have to come to sickbay.” Knowing instantly how the Doctor was aware of her distress Troi’s eyes flashed at her friend with annoyance. “Damn it Beverly, I told you I *don’t* want to be monitored.”

“I’m sorry Ambassador, but we couldn’t risk another attack within a time period of four days.” The coy tone of her voice surprised Riker and he half expected Deanna to lash out at Beverly, but she didn’t.

“I’ll be fine.” The two women exchanged a long look until the doctor submissively nodded. “All right then.” Will could almost swear they’d communicated telepathically, but he knew that was impossible and wrote it off to a lifetime of friendship between the two. Thinking about it however, he realized Deanna had been reading his thoughts since he’d entered her cabin. She had never been able to read his mind that easily when they had the bond.

“You,” Beverly tapped his chest with her index finger, “any sign of another attack warn me.” And with those words she left the room, leaving him and Deanna alone once again. This time, rather than asking questions he merely narrowed his eyes and held her gaze.

“Damn it Will, why can’t you just -let- -it- -go-?”

“Because, despite everything that has happened I care about you and I still love you.” His words hurt. She had longed to hear them for so long and now that she did they stung in her heart and stabbed her soul. Too consumed in the pain his words and emotions invoked on her she forgot to answer him and her silence refuelled his anger. “Damn it Dea, one simple explanation! I think you owe me that much!”

If possible her eyes turned even darker than before and he knew that instance he had pushed too far. “I don’t owe *you* anything! *You’re* the one who destroyed my life! *You’re* the one who broke the bond and *YOU’RE* the one who’s killing me!” His heart skipped a beat; she was talking in figure of speech, wasn’t she? He couldn’t possible kill her! "Oh but you can Will," he could almost hear the underlying tone of victory in her voice, as if she took pleasure in the gut-wrenching shock he felt. When she spoke again and seemed to finish her sentence he could hear the blame and perhaps even a twinge of fear. "You already are."

He didn't believe her, her words too surreal and ridiculous for his mind to accept them and with each fraction of time that passed he became more and more convinced that she was talking in a figure of speech. Only she wasn't, and she was going to make that quite clear to him. Some dark part of her psyche wanted him to know, for she was sure it would hurt him and she merely wanted to repay him for what he'd done to her. It was wrong and she knew it, but she couldn't help it.

"I meant what I said Will; you *are* killing me...*literally*." Wide-eyed he stared at her, not sure whether to laugh or yell at her. "What kind of sick joke do you think you're playing here Deanna?" She had to be trying to hurt him, which was the only plausible explanation. It *had* to be. Too his amazement she began to laugh. The harsh, sharp laughs penetrated his ears as something pure evil. There were no twinkles in her eyes, no music in her laughter and it caused unpleasant shivers to crawl underneath his skin; a sense of dread invaded his being.

"A joke?! Oh yes, it's all one big joke, of course I like to joke about death!" Her manic laughter had now turned to a combination of hick-ups and sobs, tears freely flowing again. She couldn't do it anymore; she couldn't keep wearing the mask she had on. It took too much of her precious energy and stole too much from the short time she had left.

"That's not fair Dea."

"NOT FAIR?!" She couldn't believe he had just said that! Was he really that stupid? That selfish? "I'll tell you what's NOT FAIR Will! What's not fair is to live your life knowing you'll die in two years! What's not fair is knowing you'll never see your child marry or have children of her own. And sense her awareness that she'll loose her mother too soon! It's not fair to hear and feel what everybody around you thinks and feels, but yet being so alone it eats you inside!" Her hands were clenched into fists and her entire stance shouted anger. "It's *not* fair to have your mind turn against you! To destroy you! And all that because you fell in love with the wrong person!"

Riker was unable to think, too shocked by her words. Was she saying what he thought she was? "Yes I am!," she yelled, "I'm saying exactly that! It's your fault! You left me, and yet you're still here!" Angrily she tapped her temple with her index finger. "I can sense you even when you're on the other side of the quadrant! It's not fair to have the bond that has brought solace for so long become your nemesis!" She approached him, step by step, her eyes so full with hatred they forced him back against the wall. "I HATE YOU WILLIAM RIKER!!!" She screamed at him so loud his ears rang and the feel of her warm breath against his face brought back memories totally uncalled for in this situation. "You destroyed my life," she added, her voice dropping to a whisper.

Her tirade obviously finished the two ex-lovers stared at each other for a long time; one trying to digest the information planted in his head, the other waiting for signs of guilt. She could still hear his thoughts, only they remained just beyond her conscious reach.

"Are you," His baritone voice broke the silence as he spoke his words slowly, "saying that I'm-- that our bond is killing you?" Will would've given anything for her to answer no.

"Yes." His shoulders slumped against the wall in final defeat. She wasn't lying, he could tell that much simply by looking in her eyes. And although he couldn't understand what was happening to her, he knew she was right in laying the blame with him.

"When you broke the bond you only broke the bond between you and me, not the one between me and you. Because the signals I unconsciously send your way bounced back they stimulated my paracortex, coaxing the small telepathic lobe I had to grow." Strength had left her voice completely now, and she sounded as if she was reciting an incredibly dull monologue. "We haven't been able to find away to make it stop and in two years time at most, it will push against my nerve-centre so hard it will paralyse me completely."

He didn’t know what to say; what -could- he say? What she was saying was that she was dying because he had married another woman. He *was* killing the one woman he loved with whole is heart and soul. His essence literally froze, he couldn't think, couldn't speak, hell, he could hardly breath. Everything around him lost its sense, nothing mattered, nothing but a pair of huge black eyes drenched in sorrow and sadness.

"I think you'd better leave", she whispered in a small voice as she took a step backwards. Demurely he obeyed, his mind not quite understanding her words but reacting. Deanna watched him leave through a cloud of tears; he was walking out on her, again. She might have asked him to leave, but she needed him. For that alone she hated him, but she was too tired to deny it. Despite what Beverly had predicted she instinctively knew her time had become very limited. The emotional strain of the last month had increased the growth rate of her telepathic lobe; it did so every time she was under stress.

Dropping to her knees she buried her face in her hands and allowed her tears to flow. As her shoulder began to shock her long curls spilled over her face and came to rest on the floor. She was so tired of fighting it, so tired...


New Beginnings (6/8)


"Is it therefore my pleasure to announce that the Senate has approved the treaty and the Federation has confirmed our membership. From now on the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Empire will form the most powerful alliance in the galaxy." Having finished her speech Toreth stepped backwards and slightly turned to nod at Deanna, who took the cue and stepped onto the speaker’s platform.

"As representative of the Federation I welcome all of you into our organization and I am confident that we will learn a lot from each other." She was about to step back down to allow another member of the Romulan Senate to say a few words when a flood of malevolent emotions drew her attention. At the same time a Romulan male climbed onto the stage and yelled,

"Do not believe them! They are here to steal our knowledge! To rule us, not to befriend us!" Guards already surrounded the man, but he wasn't the real thread. There was someone else, someone far more dangerous. Ambassador Troi focused best she could, trying to block out the thoughts of the crowd to focus on those of the attacker. Some stray words finally surfaced; High-Commander, frame, Federation, resurrection, Empire and suddenly the set-up became clear to her, just as she spotted a figure on one of the roofs across the area.

She never thought about her actions or the consequences they might have, but just lunged to the side to put herself in front of Toreth and never felt the ground hit.


"How is she?" Before answering Beverly sat down in one of the nearby chairs and studied the two women and man present. Kyleigh was visibly upset, but managed to keep her tears at bay. Toreth's face was edged with worry, but only as much as she allowed to show. Riker's concern was perhaps even more obvious than that of the others, although he showed signs of interest and amazement as well. Mostly due to the apparent friendship between Troi and Toreth Beverly thought.

"The blast caused no major physical harm and she will recover completely."

"But?" Locking eyes with Deanna's daughter she swallowed and then continued, "but the stress has caused her illness to intensify," she paused to allow the others to digest her words, "both her legs are paralyzed." Shocked Riker could only stare at the doctor, Kyleigh on the other hand jumped to her feet and bolted into her mother’s room.

“Is there no chance at recovery?” Toreth queried timidly. Crusher replied by simply shaking her head and then left to calm Kyleigh down.


Upon entering the Titan’s bar Deanna immediately became aware of the stares people gave her. She never thought it would feel this bad and humiliating; pity and compassion radiated from the faces of total strangers, but more so penetrated her vulnerable mind. Not so long ago their looks had held admiration and often one or another form of lust/desire; which in itself could be annoying, but flattered her as well. All that had changed since she’d left Sickbay three days ago, in an anti-grav chair.

Trying to ignore the looks she received --and the emotions and thoughts accompanying them-- as best as possible she made her way to the bar. She pressed to controls of her chair to increase its height so she was sitting at eyelevel with the waiter behind it. He did a double take at her but quickly hid his surprise and confusion behind a smile. "Romulan Ale" she ordered unceremoniously.

"Same for me" Deanna turned her head slightly to have a look at the man beside her. "Isn't it a bit early for an officer to be drinking?" He too turned his head slightly and grinned. "Yep. As it is for an Admiral." He coyly raised an eyebrow and accepted the drink put in front of him. With her attention now fully turned on the young man his thoughts stumbled into her mind and within seconds she knew practically everything about him. This man was dating her daughter and he was Riker's son. She also knew why he hailed her by her Starfleet rank; he had followed some of her classes several years back at the Academy.

She raised her glass in silent acknowledgment and drank it in one gulp. The young man looked at his in admiration and disbelief before speaking again. "And then my dad told me you were a lousy drinker."

"What's your name?" she asked, deliberately disregarding his question.

"Ian, after your father."


In the darkness of her quarters she sat waiting until the cloud of alcohol would have lifted from her head. She still couldn't believe Riker had named his son after her father; it didn't seem something he would do. Riker was more the kind of person who would try to forget about bad memories as soon as he could. But then again, nothing she'd heard indicated that he had tried to forget about her. Quite the opposite even; he seemed to hold on to the memory.

The soft chimes of the door interrupted her silent musings and when she ordered the computer to open them Will Riker entered her sanctuary. "I got a communiqué from the Enterprise," she kept staring at him evenly, patiently waiting for him to continue yet already knowing what he was going to say. "They will meet us in two days and from what I understand, half the Fleet is coming along." He seemed to wait for her to ask something, but when she didn't he continued. "There will be held a gathering for you in the Enterprise's bar."

"Sit down Will." Riker did a double take, but sat down with out further objection. Deanna knew why he was there, now she just had to wait until he did.

"Deanna...why am I still whispering your name? Why can I see you standing next to me each night, so real I can almost touch you?" His eyes begged her to say something, to tell him she experienced similar things. But Troi remained silent, waiting for him the broach the subject on his mind.

"You should've told me," he said finally. She sensed his controlled anger, at himself, but more so at her, "you should've told me." He repeated.

"And then what?" The captain opened his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t think of anything and just stared at her. “I don’t want to fight Will. I don’t want to argue again.” Instinctively he knew she wasn’t making a statement; she was pleading him. But he didn’t dare to look in her eyes to see if he was really right.

Deanna studied him from behind a mask of tolerance, his emotions were a strange mix of frustration, anger, disbelieve and regret and physically sickened her because never had she seen him like this. He didn’t know what to do, what to say and just stood there; torn between crying, laughing and screaming. She wanted to hug him, despite the feelings she harbored inside. But when she tried to stand up she failed and could do nothing but sag back against the cushions. Silently cursing her legs and her mind for not remembering her inability to stand.


A hint of color stole into her features as she replied softly “It’s nothing; I just forgot I couldn’t use my legs.” A blast of guilt seemed to hit her squarely in the face as Riker dropped his head and took a step away from her. “Will, please.” Troi stretched her hand out towards him, coaxing him to step closer again. “Talk to me.”

For a moment she wasn't sure if he'd flee or stay, but then he grabbed her hand and set down next to her on the couch. "I do still love you" he whispered finally, looking at her from under his lashes.

"I know that Will. I’ve always know that.”

“Then why—“ he stopped himself, knowing he had no right to ask her that question. But after a short silence Deanna did answer. “I couldn’t let myself Will. I couldn’t give my heart back to a man who had already broken it twice.” Riker hung his head in sad understanding and was at loss of words to say. He could understand the why, as well as the how, but there was still an amount of anger bubbling inside him. Why hadn’t she told him of the consequences of a broken bond? In his opinion he had the right to know, for the bond was something they shared, something that used to belong to both of them.

”I didn’t know either, not until it was too late. The symptoms first surfaced after Beverly’s wedding and then came back whenever either one of us was under emotional stress. After a few years they became more and more frequently and although we knew why it happened and what the consequences would be we couldn’t figure out the cause. Until three years ago. We came across an ancient Betazoid myth and it took me nearly a month to translate it. The myth described the love story between one of Betazed’s daughters and her servant.”

“When the servant was forced to marry another woman, the Imzadi bond between him and his mistress was broken and although he found happiness, she was doomed to live out her life alone and in pain. She died thirty years later, after having been paralyzed for ten years.” Deanna bent forward to pick up her mug of tea and waited until Will had processed the information she’d given him.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked after a long silence. Troi slowly shook her head from one side to the other before looking up. “Many reasons I think. I didn’t want to make you feel guilty; I didn’t want your compassion or pity. And I didn’t want to disturb the love you’d found.” A flash of anger surged through him and he was about to lash out at her for lying to him when he caught the look in her eyes.

She -was- serious. She really did want him to be happy, despite all the hurt he’d caused her. She loved him enough to not deny him his happiness. And in that moment where he looked into her soulful black eyes did he really understand how much and how thoroughly she loved him.

For nothing could make her stop loving him. Betrayal and broken promises, ignoring and fights…none of them mattered in the end. They still loved each other.

It was then that he realized he had never run the risk of loosing her love; the only risk had been loosing her trust and it was that risk he hadn’t understood soon enough. “Will, don’t do this.” Uncomprehending he stared at her. “Don’t allow yourself to feel such guilt. You don’t deserve it.”

“I do!” He yelled, “I do! I threw away your trust! I ruined your life; like hell I don’t deserve it!” He now stared at her from across the room, not quite sure how he’d gotten there. His entire body was tense with controlled anger -this time at himself-, and guilt. “I’ve been a first class jerk Dea. You never deserved someone like me.”

“Don’t say that” she whispered, tears now falling down her face. “I wouldn’t trade your love for anyone else’s, it wouldn’t be enough. No one will ever love me the way you used to.”

“Used to? Dea, I still love you! That never changed!” The Betazoid slowly raised her dark eyes to meet his, making sure he was looking at her when she spoke her next words.

“No Will. You don’t love me anymore like you used to. You love the memory and to a degree you still love me, but not the way you used to.” Her voice was soft and gentle and to his horror laced with understanding.

“That’s not true!” He had meant to scream at her, but only a soft whisper would leave his throat. Deanna remained looking at him, her gaze never wavering until she sensed him acknowledging her words. Riker walked back towards the dark-haired woman and leaned over her, whispering in her ear “you’re wrong Deanna. My love never changed” and left her quarters.

Deanna remained staring at the doors for a long time, not sure if she’d ever see him again.


New Beginnings (7/8)


Riker's head snapped up from its resting place in his hands as the door to his quarters opened unannounced. The flow of light that penetrated the darkness temporarily blinded him and all he could distinguish was a tall, slender figure entering. When the visitor spoke however, the temper she voiced erased any questions about the identity of the intruder.

"You arrogant, self-centred BASTARD!!!" Reaching out with his right hand he hit the light controls and immediately the quarters were illuminated. Will found himself staring into the furious features of Beverly Picard. She was towering over him and her eyes shot red-hot daggers of fury at him. "She talked to you, despite the hurt he felt. She tried to be honest with you, she gave up her *life* so that *you* could be happy and you just keep walking out on her every chance you have!"

Her words provided the oxygen the fire inside him needed; he had been sheathing with fury since leaving Deanna's earlier that day but hadn't been able to vent it. Beverly just gave him a perfect reason. "I never asked her to! I never asked for any of this!"

"Like hell you didn't! If my memory serves me, *you* were the one who cheated on her. What were you thinking?!" Funny, he realized suddenly, no one had ever asked him that before. Was there simply no one who cared? Or was the motive not important enough? "I wasn't damn it! I was drunk, furious and angry! I made a mistake! Don't you think I know that? I've had to pay every day for the last twenty or so years." Vaguely Beverly saw that they were only fuelling each other's anger; neither of them having a specific point to make, but simply needing to vent.

"Oh and you're saying she didn't? Damn you Will Riker! You have no idea of the hell she's been through." Will pushed himself to his feet now so that he could look at her without stretching his neck. "Oh don't I? Well, for your information doctor, Deanna wasn't the only on who got hurt! You can't blame everything on me! She forgave me a similar mistake before, why couldn't she do it again?" Beverly's blue eyes nearly popped out her face at those words.

In utter defeat she sat herself down on the couch. For years she had been coaxing Deanna into trying to get Will back. Sure, both Deanna and Will had slept with other people and been involved in more intense relationships, but the chemistry between them never disappeared and in fact only became more and more obvious. She always believed they suited each other, even after they broke up...but now? How could he say those words? And could he believe them? The words she wanted to yell at him were stuck in her throat, not able to pass the knot of anger that had formed there. It's a good thing I'm not holding a knife or phaser, she thought to herself.

"I cannot believe you just said that." The softness of her voice startled him out his anger and he looked at her closely again, to his surprise the anger had left her eyes and was replaced by hurt. She noticed the quizzical look that settled in his eyes and answered before thinking. "Yes I'm sad. What do you expect? I'll loose my best friend before the end of the year. And here you are telling me you don't care how she feels when you sleep with another woman the last night before you were meant to complete a rare and sacred bond. How can you?"

He couldn't stand the defeat in her voice, it melted away any believe he'd had in his words and it made him sick of his own words. He had loved Deanna so intensely for so long he had spend the better part of his life running away from it, scared to death of this beautiful, diminutive creature that had captured his soul, that had given him a far greater responsibility than he had been ready to take on; she had given him herself, without reserve and it had send him running away as fast as he could.

"How is she?" He whispered eventually. "She's hurt Will, and scared." Damn it! He hated it when people could make him feel like a total jerk with just a few words. Beverly placed her hand over his and waited until he was looking straight into her eyes. "Talk to her Will. She needs you." He watched her leave, dumbfounded by her words. Deanna *needed* him? Everyone kept pointing out how he had destroyed her life and she *needed* him? He kept staring at the door of his cabin for a long time, trying to figure out what had to be done.


With anxious eyes he scanned the Ten-Forward lounge, looking for Deanna among the dozens of guests. The dinner held aboard the Enterprise had ended just ten minutes ago and people were reminiscing across the room, mostly about careers and mutual friends.

After Deanna had bidden everyone farewell she had retreated to her quarters, promising to return later in the evening. It had been two days since Beverly's outburst in his quarters, and so far he hadn't talked to either woman. In his mind he had worked through every thinkable scenario of what would happen if he should follow Beverly's advice, but still he had an uneasy feeling about talking to Deanna.

A had settling on his shoulder startled him out of his worries. He spun around and came to stand face to face with the woman he'd been looking for. Before he could say anything Alynna Necheyev stepped around Troi and held out her hand to him. "It's good to see you again captain."

"Likewise ma'am," he responded hesitantly, unsure how to call her since she had retired five years ago.

“Admiral,” Excusing herself Deanna turned her anti-grav chair around to face the man calling her, “congratulations on the treaty.” With a happy smile on his face Jean-Luc walked up to her. “Jean-Luc!” she hissed, “it’s ambassador.”

“Sorry Deanna, but this is a Starfleet gathering, admiral will have to do.” She shot him a half-hearted glare, but didn’t press the subject any further; aware of Picard’s determination to show Riker what she had accomplished for he knew Will wasn't aware of her rank. “Admiral?” Troi’s shoulders slumped as she heard the all too familiar voice of Will Riker.

“Of course captain, don’t tell me you didn’t know.” The glare that Jean-Luc received this time came from the heart. “I didn’t. Dea?”

“Yes, six years and no it’s not in my personnel file anymore because I had it classified when taking on an ambassador’s post.” Will blinked at her words, surprised how quickly she’d answered the questions he hadn’t even asked yet. “She doesn’t waste a minute, does she?” Jean-Luc smirked at him and then turned to leave and mingle among the other guests.

“You’re an admiral? How?” Taking him by the arm, Troi guided Riker to a quiet corner in Ten-Forward. In the corner of her eyes she could see Kyleigh and Ian sitting together at a nearby table, oblivious to the people around them. “You must know about the new position in High Command they created ten years ago.” She felt him sort through his memories and patiently waited until he knew what she was talking about. “You mean the advisor’s post?”

“Yes, Jean-Luc offered it to me, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to spend more time with Kyleigh when she was going to school.” Riker nodded absently. “Kyleigh? I thought your daughter’s name was Felisia?”

Damn it, she chided herself, he’s going to guess. “Kyleigh Felisia Troi actually.” She held her breath as she waited for his reaction, a part of her hoping he would lay the link, but another part hoping he wouldn’t. “Kyleigh after her father?” Deanna almost screamed of frustration, he still believed she was married! Despite everything she’d told him. Suddenly she didn’t care anymore, she had always left the choice to Kyleigh herself to tell Will he was her father, but she no longer cared if he knew or not. She looked past Riker and watched the interplay between Kyleigh and Ian; they were rapidly falling in love, much the same way she and Will had forty years earlier.

“Ian isn’t your son, is he?” Her abrupt change of subject threw him off balance and he answered before realizing so. “Not biologically, no. Serah was already pregnant when I met her.”

“I name Kyleigh after her grandfather.” Again her abrupt change of subject threw him off balance and before he could recover she ordered her chair to take her back among the guests.

“After her grandfather?” Riker murmured to himself.

~Yes Will, Kyle.~

Riker's had snapped up in surprise at hearing her voice whisper through his mind again. Only after he'd revelled in the sense of her, he understood her words and went after her. Without as much as an apologetic smile he yanked her away from the admiral she was talking to and made her turn around to face him.

"Are you telling me that--"

"Kyleigh is your daughter?" She finished for him. "Yes." The serene mask she wore seemed surreal in a way and for a second stopped the thoughts in his head from spinning.

As she turned back to the officer talking to her she kept half her mind on the emotions coursing through Will Riker. After the initial disbelief and confusion, he soon became angered and –proud? His thoughts tumbled through her mind, allowing her to predict his reaction and brace herself. A strong hand grabbed her elbow and yanked her around, blue eyes blazing fire at her.

“We need to talk.” He surprised her by not walking away to brood before confronting her, he had changed indeed. In response she nodded mutely and followed him out, bracing herself for the rage boiling inside him.

Once inside his quarters she positioned herself between him and the door, determined to work everything out before it would be too late. He’d dragged her in to talk, and now she wouldn’t let him out until she’d told him everything. Troi crossed her arms and regarded him solemnly, waiting patiently for him to snap.

"My *daughter* and you didn't find it necessary to tell me that!" "DAMN IT DEANNA, ANSWER ME" He yelled when she remained silent.

"I did," she said quietly, "but I couldn't." A strange sensation suddenly overwhelmed Riker; it felt as if someone was literally sucking the anger out his heart. To his utter amazement her face radiated intense fury for just the fraction of a second.

"Pretty impressive, isn't it?" Deanna smiled half-heartedly and allowed him a few seconds to absorb her words before continuing. "Before you say anything, please hear me out Will." She waited until she picked up his acknowledgement and then spoke again. "She's known about you all her life Will, it has always been her choice whether or not to go to you. I couldn't make that choice for her, or for myself."

Whatever she had done to him, it worked. He couldn't feel anything but the need to know about her life. And so he asked.


Reluctantly Kyleigh opened her eyes and waited for her vision to return to normal. Her unfamiliar surroundings startled her into flying upright in bed. "Hey, hey, relax!" Her eyes snapped to the far corner which seemed to be the origin of the male voice.

"Why am I here?" She absently noticed how raw her voice sounded, but at this moment she really didn't care.

"You fell asleep on the couch last night; I didn't have the heart to wake you so I carried you to the bed." Ian stepped from the darkness and sat down next to her. After asking her for permission with his eyes he gently brushed his lips over here; causing her heart to flutter. Oh god, she though to herself, I'm falling head of heals in love with him. "Don't move." He whispered and disappeared into the living area only to return a minute later with breakfast. Before he allowed her to eat however, he first demanded a kiss and Kyleigh was happy to comply.


New Beginnings (8/8)


Riker strutted through the corridors with such a pace that officers made sure not to be in his way. He and Deanna had talked for hours on end the previous night and he hadn't lost his temper once, but now the injustice he felt over being kept unaware of his daughter overwhelmed him. Twenty-one years and he knew nothing about her. For years he had dreamed about a family with Deanna and now he realized he had come even closer to that goal than he had believed.

He found himself standing outside the Enterprise's sickbay and without much thought he charged inside, looking for the familiar red colour of Beverly's hair. "Will!" She came up from behind him, grabbed his arm and dragged him into her office. "Have you talked to her?"

"Oh, I've talked to her already," he answered sarcastically, "Tell me Beverly, just when did she tell you about Kyleigh?" The lack of surprise in the doctor's reaction told him Deanna had already contacted her. Her face fell in sadness.

"Two months after she'd left." She became lost in memory again, as happened many times these days. "She was hysterical; she didn't know what to do; whether or not to contact you immediately. She didn't want you to feel obliged to return to her when she could never bring herself to love you again."

"Still, she should've told me."

"She almost had. The message that explained everything was ready to be send when the news of your marriage reached her and just when she'd overcome the shock of that, Ian was born. She didn't tell you out of revenge and later to protect herself. Her motives changed over the years, until she decided to give Kyleigh the choice."

It all made sense, not that he would ever acknowledge that out loud, everything Deanna and Beverly had said made sense and it all came down to him being the biggest jerk alive. He needed to work through his anger or he would explode. Without saying another word he hurried out of sickbay and to the holodeck, skimming through the database for any of Worf's programs.


When Kyleigh came home after having spend another night with Ian she found her mother sitting in her favourite chair; the anti-grav chair was nowhere in sight. "Good morning Mom."

~Good morning yourself~ Troi returned and smiled up at her daughter. ~Had a nice time last night?~ Kyleigh blushed slightly and settled down on the couch, facing her mother. "Oh yes. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like I've known him all my life, like we're connected." Deanna smiled knowingly, for she could sense the early stages of a psychic bond forming between her daughter and Riker's son. The only problem was that Kyleigh didn't know Ian was very much Will's, even though that was not so genetically.

~It doesn't sound strange at all Liz. As long as you remember not to be scared too easily~ Her mysterious advice surprised Kyleigh a little, but she didn't question, knowing her mother had usually a reason for whatever she was saying. Deanna reached to a box standing next to her chair and held it out to Kyleigh. ~When you get back home, give this to your grandmother~ she thoughtcast as Kyleigh accepted the box. ~No go and get you boyfriend, your Uncle and father~ Thrown off her balance by the seriousness that her mother suddenly radiated she docilely complied.

Kyeigh had left just second when Beverly entered with a new set of medication for Deanna. "Dea?" She question, when the Betazoid didn't take the medicine held out to her.

"I'm not going to take it Bev." Worry, more than anything else, pored from the doctor as she sat down. "Dea?" As response Troi stretched out her left arm, showing Beverly the spasms that surged through the limb. "That's been happening on and off for three days now." When the redhead reached into her pocket for a tricorder, Troi stopped her with a simple gesture. "It's no use. We both know what's happening."

"What are you saying?"

"I don't want to fight my own body and mind. I'm not going to."

"You can't mean--" She recalled a conversation they had had years ago, when Deanna had told her about a Betazoid ritual which could literally shut a person's mind down. As if going to sleep, but without a chance of ever waking again.

"I can't do this Bev! I can feel, -hear- the compassion and pity of people everywhere I go! I'm supposed to be able to control my own mind, but I *can't*! I'm loosing my sense of individuality, along with my control, I just can't handle it." It then struck Beverly that she'd always assumed Deanna was up to her new abilities mentally, just as everyone else had. Like her friend had done her entire life she'd put up a strong front, determined not to let anyone see how she really felt.

"You're scared." She observed, for the first time knowing the truth in her words, rather than knowing them from a doctor's point of view.

"Very much so." Deanna replied with a shaky voice. "The others will be here soon. I just wanted you to know before..." Beverly nodded solemnly, her mind reeling with memories, questions and objections. "I know," Troi whispered, "I'm sorry I can't hang on. Keep an eye on Kyleigh for me; she never really got along with my mother."

The doctor managed the smile a sad smile as tears rolled down her cheeks. "I'll miss you" she whispered and threw her arms around Deanna's neck. ~Thank you for everything you've done for me. I'll miss you too~

The sound of the door opening drew their attention and Beverly slowly released Deanna. If you're sure there is no other way she tried to think to her friend and to her utter amazement she replied ~I am, I wish it were different, but I really can't~

"What's going on here?" Jean-Luc walked around to face his wife, who locked eyes with her patient. "Kyleigh, come here please." The young woman stepped forward, her anxiety almost palpable. "Mom?"

~I want you to listen Flower, and listen carefully~ With a slow nod she promised to do so. ~Always remember how much I love you Little One~ The feeling of dread inside Kyleigh was growing, what was her mother doing?! ~There are three boxes in my closet. Two for them have your name on them, the third one is for Jean-Luc and Beverly.~

~Mom? Why are you telling me this?! What's wrong?~ But Troi didn't answer, apart from sending her daughter such a strong wave of love and pride that she gasped.

"Thank you for being here." She said aloud, trying to block out the waves of confusion and concern radiating from her friends. "I-uh..." she took a deep breath, trying to speak around the lump that had formed in her throat "I wanted to say good bye...face to face, I guess." A nervous laugh bumbled from her gut. Kyleigh was the first to realize what Deanna meant, all the carefully stealthy conversations Deanna had engineered the past weeks came together in the young woman's mind.

"Mom! NO! How can you?!" She raced out of the room, at that moment so angry at her mother she couldn't bear looking at her. Ian raced after her, partially happy for an opportunity to escape the room in which silence hung above their heads like a cloud of poison.

"What are you talking about Deanna?"

But she did answer him, not right away. Instead she turned to Jena-Luc, who had protectively wrapped his arms around his wife. Her tears had already wetted his uniform. "Jean-Luc," He looked at his former ship's counselor, trying hard not to show the emotions raging inside him. "Thank you for taking me into your family." He closed his eyes stiffly, desperately fighting the tears her words invoked. He could hardly belief how grateful she sounded, and that for something that had been completely normal -at least in his eyes.

"You've always been family Deanna." And for his words she rewarded him with a brilliant smile. ~Take care of you wife Jean-Luc; she'll need you --*Captain*~ Former captain Picard found himself in a strange sensation, laughing and crying at the same time for so many different reasons that he wasn't sure what he was thinking.

Deanna then locked her eyes with her best friend, deliberately not saying anything, knowing that if she did tears would flow freely and with a vengeance. ~Tell the kids to remember Aunt D's rules~

"You're rules?" She queered incredulously, for the moment forgotten her sadness.

"Sorry Bev," Deanna replied cheerfully, "need-to-know basis only" and gave in to the temptation of sticking out her tongue which drew a smirk from both Beverly and Jean-Luc.

Deanna then moved her attention completely to Will Riker, who stood mocking at the side of the room like a lost sheep unwilling to return to the herd. "Will, I'm really sorry, but I just couldn't deal with it." That such an admission was a big one to make for Deanna Troi didn't cross his mind as he replied. "You never gave me to chance to get to know my daughter Deanna! How do you think *I* feel about that!"

"I know exactly how you feel and what you're thinking. You can still get to know her, but only if she lets you." Her big black eyes were pleading him to understand, but all Will could see was disdain. He was angry and -damn it- he wanted to stay that way! Every time, just when he thought she'd told him everything it appeared he had been wrong. His gut told him something bad was about to happen. Something everyone knew about, except for him. I should be accustomed to that by now, he thought sarcastically.

~Will, for once, be a man and suck it up~ although her voice held no malice whatsoever she did surprise him into silence. ~You're not the only one who's angry --or hurt. It will be all right one day Will. Time heels itself, haven't you noticed?~

Would it really be all right one day? He hoped so with whole his heart. But if everything would be all right, then why was she crying? What was more disturbing to captain Riker, was the tiny teardrop that -almost- unnoticed, dropped from his former CO's right eye.


"What's going on Liz?" For a reason he couldn't explain, Ian could tell just how distressed the beauty at his side was. Although her face was set in nothing but cold determination he thought she was breaking down on the inside. He desperately wanted to wrap his arms around her but was afraid that might coax her to withdraw even further from him.

~Go ahead~ A gentle voice urged him, penetrating his mind in a totally non-intruding way; much to his surprise. Without questioning the advice he pulled Kyleigh against him and almost immediately she released her first harsh sob.

"She's go-oing to -- kill her-self!" He could only hold on tighter, no matter how bad he wanted to be able to do more. "How-how can she do me?! How can s-she --give up?!" At loss of words he held her while she cried until her cries had turned into sobs and her sobs in soft hick-ups. She wiped the trails her tears had made of with her sleeves before he could do it for her, but before she had completed composing herself, Deanna Troi hovered into the holodeck.

"Ian, would you give us a minute?" He nodded mutely, still feeling uncomfortably inadequate. ~No one could've calmed her the way you did, she trusts you~ His head jerked slightly as he know recognized the voice as Kyleigh's mother's and the hurried out the holodeck.

~Your room on Betazed~ Deanna stated matter-of-factly as she took in her surroundings. ~It's yours now, you know~ she added.

~Of course, my room has always been mine~ Troi smiled bemusedly, pleased her daughter at least talked to her.

~I meant the Fifth House~

"I don't want the damn Fifth House! I want YOU!" Kyleigh threw herself into her mother's arms, basking in the warmth and love she sensed. ~Oh my little Flower. You know how much I love you, you know I would do anything for you. But in four months I'll be nothing more than a mind captivated within it's body~ She lightly kissed her daughter's hair, trying to comfort her best she could. ~I cannot live like that, I think you can understand that~

"I do" she sobbed, "but I don't want to!"

~I can't be a mother to you when I'm catatonic. I want you to life your *own* life, not become my nurse. You're strong enough to make it on your own now and you'll always have you family to fall back on if things get too rough~

"Hmm...the Fleet Admiral." Both women laughed through their tears. ~Kyleigh? Don't be afraid to get to know your father. He's a good man and he doesn't deserve to be blamed~ A long silence settled between them as she thoughtcast those words. The anger Kyleigh felt towards Will was still too strong for her to work through.

"Are you ever going to tell me how you made that Rhi'yat?"

"Nosy as ever aren't you?"

"It's in my genes." Kyleigh grinned back. ~The recipe is in one of the boxes~

~Mom?~ her tone was quite suddenly serious, startling Deanna out her playful mood. ~Yes?~

~Why won't you wait until we get back home? Grandma would want to see you one last time~

~I know~ Deanna swallowed harshly and was unable to hide her sadness from her daughter. Despite all the disagreements she and Lwaxana had had, despite their different characters and goals she loved her mother almost as much as her mother loved her. But the ceremony she was about to initiate was too dangerous for full telepaths. For that reason, more than any other, the ceremony was traditionally attended solely by the person executing it; far away from telepaths. And knowing how difficult it had already become for her to keep her sanity protected by mental blocks Deanna didn't think she'd be able to complete the ceremony by the time they'd reached Betazed; which would take at least two months.

There simply was no other way. ~But I can't stretch it any longer. I'm exhausted Little One~ she finally admitted.

~Hariey'uja Zia~

"I'll miss you forever Mom." She repeated in Standard.

~Ila As'tRao telal, amha'oq~ Deanna Troi send all the love that flourished inside her to her daughter, almost literally wrapping her in a thick, soft blanket of parent-love. "I believe in you" she whispered and then mentally called Beverly to come inside and bring with her the rest of the family. The time for final goodbyes had come.

~Don’t cry out loud~

~Just keep it inside~

~And learn how to hide your feelings~

~Fly high and proud~

~And if you should fall~

~Remember you almost had it all~


Katara-Trilogy Epilogue

"I now pronounce you husband and wife by Betazed's Daughter's -and- human tradition, you may kiss the bride." She watched him with wide, dark eyes as he leaned into her. They were married now, was the only thought that crossed her mind. She couldn't remember anything about the ceremony; it was as if the blanket of love and adoration that had wrapped itself around her was too thick for her to see through. Not that she minded really, there had been so much planning involved that she knew exactly what the Admiral had said.

But none of that mattered now, all that mattered were the two strong hands that had moved itself into the masses of curls and the face of her husband, only an inch away. Their lips met and the love and bliss, both her own and her soulmate's, soared through her veins and seemed to lift her of the ground. His happiness was palpable to her, as hers was to his. The guests around them started clapping, but the sound barely penetrated her conscious mind. She wanted to stay in this moment forever, but the kiss ended and when the couple broke way from each others eyes she was yanked back into reality.

Admiral Picard stepped from behind them and kissed the bride three times on her cheeks before whispering "Congratulations Mrs. Troi, this had been coming for a long time." She smiled gratefully and then locked her eyes on the groom. He nodded slowly and send a wave of strength and compassion to her senses. Picking up the hem of her dress --because most of the attendants were human they had opted to wears clothes during the ceremony-- she turned towards the house. Her eyes registered Lwaxana's tears, but she forced herself to ignore them for the moment being and made her way up to the patio and into the Fifth House.

A long, majestic hallway led to a high door of glass. The symbol of the Fifth House had been etched into the glass. The hallway itself was fifteen foot high, the ceiling white, the walls purple with a silver hue. Huge mirrors hung on of the walls and the floor was made of a Betazoid jewel that looked a lot like silver. It caught the light within the stones were it danced until it found a way out. Three huge, chandeliers, made of diamond hung from the ceiling and tall, deep purple candles were placed on statues every few meters.

Whenever she walked through this hall she felt like a queen, yet at the same time it made her feel very small and insignificant. The heels of her white shoes tic-tacked on the floor as she made her way to the doors. A tiny button was hidden behind the last statue and when she pushed it the huge doors swung open and the lighting in the room behind them was turned on. Troi kneeled on the threshold, as was common among her people, before entering the Troi-mausoleum. The colours of the mausoleum were much the same as those used in the hallway; candles of all colours were placed around each resting place. She walked straight to the coffin of glass in the middle of the room and knelt down at the head-end.

The woman that was resting inside looked no older than fifty human years. Long, coal black curls framed her delicate features. A golden, regal neckband around her neck and she was dressed in a midnight blue gown; her favourite's. Her hands were crossed across her chest in Betazoid meditation fashion; each hand resting on the opposite shoulder and a single white rose had been placed across her stomach.

As always happened when Kyleigh visited her mother's resting place a lump in her throat prevented her from speaking ad tears were blurring her vision. It had been fifteen years since they had said their good bye's and every year since she had done everything in her power to return to the mansion on this day, but no matter what she wanted to say; no words would leave her mouth. And in a way that was how it always had been. Words had never been necessary between her and her mother. Despite the differences in their personalities they had understood each other.

For the thousandths Kyleigh read the memorial stone. "*Deanna Troi, beloved Daughter and Mother. A Daughter of the Fifth House Betazed has been blessed to know*" but the words still seemed shallow to her. No one had really known her mother, she herself included, but even so her mother had been more than a mother, or a daughter and the Fifth House title she had respected, but never cared for.

'I miss you Mom,' Kyleigh placed her hand against the glass, next to her mother's head, 'I wish you were still here, that you could've been here.' Her muscles seemed reluctant to hold up her hand any longer and slowly it slid down the wall of glass until it fell in her lap.

The sound of the doors opening drew Kyleigh's attention to the man who walked in. Will Riker walked up to her and remained standing at Deanna's feet. Even know Kyleigh could sense the regret and love emanating from him. There had been a time when she hated him for what he'd done to Deanna, but in the letter from her mother she'd found the day after they had said their good bye's Deanna had asked her to try and forgive him and to get to know him. And she had; instead of requesting a posting on the Enterprise as she had intended, she had instead applied for a posting on the USS Titan.

Riker's eyes remained fixed on Deanna's face, even a he spoke. "She's still missed a great deal by everyone, isn't she?" Kyleigh didn't reply, fully aware that there was no need and let the silence between them lengthen. "It's amazing how little she had changed since the first time I met her. Physically" he added in a wry tone. "Ian is lucky with you Kyleigh, and he'd better remember it." The famous Riker grin made itself known, albeit a little less cheerful than normal.

She accepted her father's held out hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. She put her wedding bouquet on the glass and then turned to leave. ~Good bye mom~

~I'm proud of you Little One, I love you and will always be with you~ Her heart skipped a beat, the mental hug, the voice; they were her mother's, but how? ~Don't question and go enjoy your wedding!~ And for the rest of the day she wore a smile wider than anyone had ever seen.


Will Riker slipped his arm around his wife’s waist as he watched his son take his beautiful bride to the table on which a huge cake was displayed. “Do you ever regret us?” She asked, her green eyes on the newly wed couple.

“Every day” he replied truthfully, knowing she would understand him. He loved his wife, he did. But their marriage had been an agreement from the beginning. Never would he love someone the way he loved Deanna Troi. Serah was a woman he could’ve loved, had he not met Deanna. His relationship with Serah was strange, by any definition.

They loved each other, they loved their children, but both of them had had someone they loved more. And perhaps that was what drew them together in the first place. Serah had lost her husband, was pregnant and vulnerable. And he? He’d lost the only person he had ever allowed himself to love unconditionally by his own actions.

Perhaps it was natural that two people who were hurting and desperately wanted a family were drawn to each other.

His eyes focussed on Kyleigh Felisia Troi. His daughter. He had been angry at Deanna for a long time, and at Beverly and at Jean-Luc. The chips he’d found the after Deanna’s death, which contained video-images of every important day in Kyleigh’s life --first steps, first words, birthdays, graduation days-- it had made him feel a little better, but it hurt that it had taken Kyleigh months before she’d arrived at the point where she was no longer angry with him.

What had gone wrong? It wasn’t just his mistake, he knew that. For some reason everything had gone completely wrong. He’d given up too soon, under the mom of not hurting her more and Deanna should’ve come to him sooner and never, ever should’ve kept her illness from him!

Not that it mattered anymore, but each night he would think about her, about the life they could’ve had together, the children. Faith, so it had seemed, did not quite wish the Imzadi-couple a life together.

He looked up on the past decades with regret and remorse regarding Deanna Troi, but even so, he was happy with his wife and his children. And he knew that Deanna had been happy to, to some extend. Lwaxana still blamed him, but that didn’t matter to him as much as it would have if Deanna hadn’t written him a long letter about her thoughts, reasoning and feelings. He understood her now better than ever and knew that she really didn’t blame him. At least, not to the extend she’d shown him when on his ship.

Whatever had kept him from contacting her all those years ago had fallen away and now he had his special log in which he talked to Deanna every night, telling her about missions, family life, decisions and desires. He would visit Betazed at every chance he got, a picture of her had found its way back into his quarters and into his ready room. Her name no longer a conversation-starver.

In fact, during the past fifteen year he’d come to love her all over again.