Holding On

Author: D. Destiny

Rating: PG-13
Setting: About 8 years after Nemesis
Disclaimer: I own two of the mentioned names (!), the others all
belong to Paramount/Roddenberry enz. The plotline's mine *muah*
Reviews: Pretty please *sweet smile* Criticism, flames, brownnosing
and eveything else is welcome :D

~Holding on~

A mental call for help harshly interrupted the numb routine of going
through status reports and instantly she reached out to the
distressed mind; her concern abiding as she learnt the
circumstances. Just as soon her commbadge chirped. <Klei to Troi>

Deanna glanced to the man at her right and nodded in reply to his
soundless acknowledgement. "I'm on my way Jessa."

<Thank you Captain>

Reaching her destination took too long; way too long and left her
too much time to think and dread the discussion that could no longer
be postponed. Carefully she smoothed out her emotions and projected
a wall of love and affection. Just as she rounded the corner the
doors of the daycare-center shifted open and a small six-year-old
girl came running towards her; tears streaming from her black eyes.
With the practiced ease of a mother, Deanna scooped the child in her
arms and hugged her tightly. ~Shh Little One, I'm here~

Sahel sobbed in her neck and hung on tightly to dark curls. Under
the rocking and calming emotions her crying had quickly dissolved in
hic-ups. ~Danny said that I didn't have a Daddy, because no one
would want to be my Daddy~ The cruelty of children. It was
inescapable. No matter where or how a child grew up, whether on
Earth or Betazed or the Enterprise or the Titan, at one point it
would be confronted with the innocent cruelty of fellow kids.
Nothing anyone could do about that.

~That's not true sweetheart, you know that right?~ It struck Deanna
as a little ironic that they were communicating telepathically
still, now that they had reached the sanctuary of home. She who had
fought her mother about Earth and Betazed etiquette so often and so
passionately, but then, people changed and she had never thought
herself to be the exception to the rule.

~Then where is my Daddy?~ Troi's heart sunk, as much for her
daughter as herself. She'd hoped she'd be able to put off explaining
Sahel why her Daddy wasn't with her for a while longer, but no such
luck. They sat down on the large couch and Sahel nestled herself in
the crook of her mother's arm, still slightly hic-upping.

~Your Daddy would have loved you very much Little One~

~Why isn't he here?~

Because of his own arrogance, Deanna thought angrily, because of his
own stubbornness he never got to know his daughter. But she was past
the anger; she had to remind herself that she was no longer angry at
him for leaving her alone. She wasn't angry anymore. She wasn't. She
wasn't. She wasn't! ~Your father tried to make peace~ Single
handedly. ~But there was someone who didn't want peace and he hurt
your Daddy~ She amazed herself by sounding and feeling so
unaffected, idly wondering when the last time was she'd spoken about

~Where is he now?~

Deanna swallowed, suddenly unable to speak. ~He...he's with your
grandmother~ Sahel was a smart kid, she knew what that meant and her
face fell in sadness.

Her heart heavy in her chest Troi stood up and went into her bedroom
to get the box. Returning, she put the black box on the table and
lifted off the lid. She forced herself to look at the pictures that
were revealed, reminding herself that it didn't hurt anymore.
Sitting down again Sahel crawled on her lap and picked up the box.
Wrapping her arms around her daughter's small body Troi hugged her
tightly, filling her mind with love. ~That's my Daddy?~ Sahel asked
in wonder as she took out the top picture.


Quietly Sahel studied the pictures, some times asking her mother a
question, but mostly looking at the man that was her father. Deanna
distracted herself by brushing her daughter's long hair, once again
thanking the deities that even her half-Betazoid DNA was still
dominant over human DNA. Life had been hard after Will had died, she
wouldn't have been able to work through it, had their daughter
inherited his blue eyes.

She hugged her daughter closer still, remembering how she'd
neglected the child the first months after her birth. Until Beverly
had showed up in the middle of one of her 'liaisons', put Sahel in
her arms and nearly shouted; "Deanna Troi, this is your daughter;
take care of her!" and stormed out the room. It took her five
minutes to comprehend what happened, another minute to ask
her 'date' for the night to leave and then it had been her and her
daughter. Will Riker's daughter...her dead husband's daughter.

It had been tough taking care of the little girl, but steadily she
regained her sense of life. There was no longer the need to sleep
with strangers and use the hurt those one-night stands caused to
remind herself that she was still alive. Commanding the Titan became
a personal matter again and although she kept her distance from the
crew, she was no longer just going through the motions of
commanding. This was his legacy and someday it would be hers.

Sahel turned around, shoving a picture in her hands. ~You look
pretty~ Deanna's heart tightened as she gazed upon a picture of her
and Will taken just a few days before their wedding. It had been the
last pokergame they'd held on the Enterprise and everyone had been
behaving over joyous to compensate the knowledge that their ways
would soon part. But for her there was the joy for the wedding to
override the sadness.

Beverly had taken the picture just when she and Will caught their
breath after a tickle-fight. Her hair was tangled and had partly
escaped from it's confining scarf and her cheeks were flushed.
Will's hair was ruffled and his loose blue shirt ajar. She was
sitting on his lap, her back resting against his chest; Beverly had
been just three meters away, Captain Picard had stood smiling behind
her and at their right side Data was recounting his analysis of
their behavior to a grinning Geordi, while Worf was impatiently
waiting for everyone to get back to the game.

~I was young back then~ and in love.

~Can I keep it?~

The innocence in her mental voice left Deanna no option other than
to allow it, not that she had intended differently. She realized
that this was the easy talk. Sahel was too young to be really
interested in her father, or in his relationship with her mother.
But she would be as she grew older and Deanna could not disown her
only child of any information about her father. ~Mommy?~

~Sahel, you have to return to class sweetheart~

The child lowered her eyes. "I know" she whispered in a small voice.

"So, if Danny bullies you again; tell him your father was the famous
Captain William Riker and if he doesn't know who that was, he should
use the school's library." She could not believe how much will-power
it took her to keep sounding so unaffected and keep her little girl
from feeling the sadness running through her mind. "Can you go back
on your own?"

A little surprised Sahel looked at her mother's face, confused by
the strange sense of her mind, but quickly excitement overcame
that. "I'm six years old Mommy!"

Grinning Deanna walked with her to the doors and kissed her
forehead. "I'll pick you up when school's over. I love you Little

"Love you too Mommy!"

Tears built in her eyes as she watched her daughter run down the
corridor, not grown up yet, but getting there way too fast. With her
back against a wall she san to the floor and for the first time in
over five years she cried. {Damn it Will! Why didn't you listen to
me? Why did you refuse to take anyone else along. You always trusted
us before, why wouldn't you listen?!}



Suddenly there was *something* there. Like butterfly wings against
the edges of her mind. She wiped away the tears that had fallen and
jumped to her feet; thinking Sahel had come back and not wanting her
precious little girl to see her mother in distress. But the room was
empty and the doors still closed. The presence increased and began
to seep through her mental barriers in tiny little streams,
converging to larger ones and she staggered back when her mind
recognized the presence. "NO!"
She couldn't see him, but she just *knew* he was there and she
didn't care how or why. "How DARE you come here?!" It didn't matter
that he was in her mind, vocally shouting was much more rewarding.


"NO! There is NO Imzadi!!!"

~Dea, listen, I understand you're hurt--~

"Hurt? HURT? I'm way past the HURT!"


She swirled around and came to stand face to face with a living and
breathing image of her late husband. "Get out of here!!!"

"I'm not leaving Deanna, not until we talked."

"Talked?" This was too absurd for words. "You've been dead for six
years and now you're dropping in for a talk?! You wouldn't want a
coffee too, would you?"

"Sarcasm doesn't become you."

"Death doesn't become you." Deanna countered coldly, trying so very
hard to keep her tears at bay.

"Don't do this Dea. I don't have much time."

"Well, isn't that a coincidence? I don't have either; I have a ship
to command." A trickle of pride reached her and only served to fuel
the anger she felt.

"Ah yes, good to know it stayed in the family so to speak. Although
I don't get why you didn't accept the new Enterprise."

She stood there fuming, torn between physically fighting him and
running away. "My reasons are my own. Now would you please leave?"

But instead he stepped closer. "No. Not until we're done."

"We've been 'done' for the last six years."

"You're wrong. *You* haven't let go."

"Like hell I haven't."

"Then why are you still so angry? Why do you sit high and dry on
your throne? Why have you not told my daughter about me."

"She is *not* your daughter Riker! You weren't there when she was
born! You weren't there when she took her first steps or said her
first sentence. YOU WEREN'T THERE!!!"

He caught her arms easily as she charged him and twisted her until
he could pull her flush against his chest, but she kept trying to
twist away. "I know. I love you."

"Right. Now let me go!"

"If I had known what would happen if I beamed down I would've

"You did know! I *told* you. Wesley *told* you! Do you have any idea
how long he kept beating himself up over that? Do you realize that
the only reason that I got the Titan was because he'd lost all
confidence in himself, because *you* wouldn't listen?! Because you

"He's fine now. He's got the Enterprise. But I'm not here to talk
about Wesley. I'm here to talk about you Deanna."

"There's nothing to say. I'm here, I'm a Starfleet Captain, I'm my
mother's successor, I have a beautiful little girl, I'm fine and I
very much want to be left alone."

"I love you Deanna. That should count for something."

Finally she managed to break away and after putting some distance
between them she turned to face him again. "What? Fifteen years of
friendship, three years of being lovers, two years of engagement,
two *whole* years of marriage and more heartbreaks than I care to
remember! You're dead Will Riker. You left me again and no matter
how much you love me or how can appear here; you'll always be dead
to me."

"Dea, don't do this."

She slapped his hand away as he reached for her. "Do what? Be honest
with myself? I *like* this anger Will, I hold on to it; just like I
hold on to my little girl and I do it because I can't hold on to you
anymore, or to our love. Now please, just go."

"All right." His shoulders slumped she noted, but didn't care. Her
mind was filled with his emotions and if she hadn't felt him die all
those years ago, she might have thought Q or something had brought
him back, but she knew he could be nothing but a *Hopl*

Before she saw it coming he approached her and caught her mouth with
his. The kiss was fiercer and more hungrily than she had ever
experienced. She fought him for long moments, unwilling to give into
the familiarity of it, but in the end she could not deny herself a
short visit to a love-filled past. She responded to his ferocity by
pouring all the anger and remaining love into the kiss. Always
deepening the kiss until, in the blink of an eye, he disappeared.
His presence left her world and it was as if she lost him all over

Deanna sank back to the floor and cried again, this time unaware of
the doors opening and a small presence running inside. Two thin arms
tried to wrap around her and a face was buried in her mass of curls.
~Please don't cry Mommy. I love you~

~Oh I love you too Sweetie~ Turning slightly Deanna managed to wrap
the bundle of six year-old Human/Betazoid in her arms. When she
couldn't stop crying Sahel began humming a lullaby Deanna often sang
for her. The sweetness of the gesture only made her cry harder and
they clung tightly to each other.

After what seemed like hours Deanna finally got her emotions back
under control and after assuring Sahel that she was all right now,
the little girl went to the biolab to play with a litter of puppies
and Troi was left staring into space. The encounter with Will's
spirit, or *Hopl* as the Betazoid term was, was surreal and
unbelievable, but not unheard of in her culture. She was relieved,
for a little bit, that she'd been able to vent her anger. But even
so she was glad that he'd left. <Rozhenko to Troi; sensors show two
unidentified vessels approaching Sir>

Deanna welcomed the interruption of her musings and headed for the
door. "Troi here. On my way Alex." ~Sahel, please be a good girl and
go home. You can play with the puppies later~

~Yes Mommy~

Protective shields in place Deanna stepped onto the Bridge and was
greeted by two unfamiliar ships hanging between the stars. "Open
hailing frequency Clara." The ensign quickly obeyed and gave a short
nod when finished. "This is Captain Deanna Troi of the Starship
Titan; please identify yourselves." A sense of purpose invaded her
like it hadn't for a long time. This was where she belonged now, not
on the Enterprise or behind a desk. Other than her daughter, this
ship was the last link she had to her Imzadi and she was going to
hold on to it.