~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Xiara esta, ta Fira xi Part II~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


By:                   D. Destiny,

Paring:              R/T, T/Thomas, T/m, P/C

Rating:              R/NC-17

Author's note:             Xiara esta, ta Fira xi is a two-part story. The first part, with a total of 117 pages, is a must read if you're going to start in this sequel.

Please beware; I’ve mixed up British and American spelling…and please keep in my mind that English is not my native language.

Disclaimers:            Backgrounds used for this novel I have borrowed from the first part of this story and from the backgrounds provided to us throughout the TNG-series, as well as from the novel Imzadi I by Peter Davids. Some ‘facts’ have been either ignored or simply forgotten; I hope you will be able to overlook this.

All Trek-characters (introduced to us through any of the five series) belong to Paramount/Viacom/Gene Roddenberry, I purely used them for my own enjoyment and that of others. No infringement is intended.

The storyline and additional characters are the results of my own imagination and I claim all copyright to those.

Special thanks to: Kathy and all other persons ever to send me feedback for encouraging me the way they have J

WARNING:  I started this story (and finished a large part of it) before becoming aware of the Plotlines Berman, Logan and Spiner had thought of for Nemesis. I debated for a while over the possibility of making this story end where Nemesis begins, but decided against that.

I’m sorry it took me so long to start posting the second part, I can blame it only on a low inspiration considering this storyline in particular. As my writing skills have improved (and hopefully are still improving) I find myself less and less satisfied with Xiara’s first part and hope the second part will be better in writing style J


Grumbling Riker turned on his side, something or perhaps someone was pulled him into consciousness but for now he refused to give in. Objecting in his sleep he turned onto his stomach and unconsciously pulled the sheets off the woman sleeping next to him. As the pull became stronger Will eventually stopped resisting and slowly gave in to waking up. With a bit of a struggle he managed to open his eyes.

Blackness surrounded him, depriving him of any vision at all. Still drowsy from sleep he slowly sat up, rubbing his hands through his sleep-tousled hair. "Hello?" The loudness of his own voice startled him. When the echoes of his own voice had died away he concentrated to pick up even the slightest sound of difference in shade.

Something was pulling him ahead, this time even stronger than the pull that woke him. Yet each time he tried to focus on it, it disappeared. He kept walking, however cautious and gradual. Then, after a dozen steps, he could hear faint noises in the background and with each step he took the noises became louder.

After yet another dozen of steps he cold identify them as screams of women, but apart from the over clear 'NO' he wasn't able to make out their words. And still the pull kept luring him ahead. In the distance a tiny sparkle of light became visible, growing with each of his steps. The amount of time that seemed to have passed would suggest that he had already walked several miles, but he felt no exhaustion, not even a slight twinge of tiredness.

He could now see that the light was blue and within the round bundle of light there was a shadow. The air around him was threatening and heavy and his ears were still tortured by the horrified screams that shrieked through the air. And yet, despite the panic rising within him he kept walking.

As he got closer to the light, the screams became clearer and the voices seamed to resemble each other more and more, eventually merging into one. "NO! Please! Stop it!" His heart skipped a beat a suddenly everywhere around him eyes black as coal appeared and disappeared. And still he kept walking.

In the bundle of blue light his eyes now recognized the curled-up shape of a humanoid. His explorer-instinct resurfaced and he quickened his steps. The coal black eyes were replaced by luminous green ones, magically lightening his way, were it very faintly. The static that had been laced through the screams went silent and a nano-second later the screams fell away as well.

Confused he stopped and spun a circle; apart from the light all was dark and quiet. Then he heard someone sobbing, so quietly he had almost missed it. The figure framed in the light was shaking gently, urging him to continue his walk. Then, just as he had gotten used to the silence, a blood-hurling scream pierced the air, "LEAVE ME ALONE!!!" He recognized the voice instantly ad for a second felt as if the Enterprise has fallen atop off him. "DEANNA!!!"

But there as no reply. He sped up his movement, until he was running as fast as he could. The figure in the light became clearer. Definitely a woman's and the wild flow of curls that was projected meant to him that is was Deanna sitting there in a fetal position.

"Deanna?" A slight tip of the head told him she'd heard him and with renewed effort he ran towards her. He was so close, just eight feet away from her when she lifted up her head and opened her eyes. Flames shot out the green gems and missed him by barely an inch. "Stay away from me." Her voice held a dangerous quality he had never heard before and it scared the hell out of him. Nonetheless he approached further.

"Deanna? It's me, Will."

"Go away." He could tell by her voice she was pleading, for some reason she was terrified for --or off-- him. Looking closer at her face he gasped when he saw the bruises and cuts on her pale skin. Only half her face was lightened well enough for him to see that she was bleeding and crying.

"Dea? What's happening? How did you get hurt?" Anger and fear burned in her eyes, but she stayed silent. Accusing him, yet pleading for his help. "Dea, listen to me! Tell me what's happening, I want to help you.

"Will?" Her quiet whisper surprised him, it was if she only now realized who he was. "Yes Imzadi, I'm here to help you." To his utter confusion she shook her head. "No, no he'll kill you! You have to go."

"Who will kill me?" She crawled to her feet and nervously glanced round her before she answered him, "you have to go now, he's coming."

"Come with me then!" Her entire body was bruised and violated in worse manners.

"I ca--I can't," she whispered, "this is my doom." The words he wanted to say never left his throat as a hand came up behind her. He tried to warn her, he tried to yell at her but he didn't make a sound. Until the hand had seized her mouth and drew her back into the darkness.



Riker flew upright in bed, drops of sweat rolling down his forehead and face, smoothing his bare chest. His scream of horror rang through the house and woke-up his bed mate who immediately knew what was happening, "you dreamed of her again," she accused, "that's it, that's the drop! I want you out of this house by tomorrow evening!" Angrily Lyana hopped of the bed and stormed out the room. "Sister my ass!"

Riker had barely heard what she had said, despite haven woken up he was still very much living in his dream. This nightmare had been the most disturbing one so far.

Chapter Twenty Six: Doctors and First Officers

Two months after Xiara pt I

"Number One, will you -please- sit down?" For the past ten minutes Will Riker had been circling the Bridge of the Enterprise-E and with that driving most of his fellow officers insane. The First Officer didn't seem to acknowledge the request of his CO, but after yet another round he did take a seat, much to the relief of the crew.

"Data, ETA?"

"Six hours and twenty-six minutes Commander." Restless Riker shifted in his chair. He had been back on the Enterprise for a month now and he had done nothing but worrying about Deanna.

One month earlier...

Will Riker walked through the empty streets of the main city of Ryara I's most southern continent.

The warm sun strands caressing his bared back and arms as he carried two bags to the meeting point in the woods just outside the city. In thirty minutes the Enterprise would pick him up just there, beaming him home after having lived for nine months on the colorful planet.

His relationship with the beautiful native woman Lyana had stranded not long after his dreams about Deanna Troi had started. She had come to realize that Deanna meant more to him then she ever would and therefore ended their relationship. Too proud to return to the Enterprise immediately Riker had pursued an apartment in the capital city of the southern continent and had worked as an technician while waiting till the full nine moths had passed.

After a short interlude the dreams about Deanna had once again begun, this time even more frightening than the last. He hardly slept anymore and spent hours trying to figure out what the dreams meant, but to no avail. One night he'd have nightmares, the next the dream would be so realistic and erotic that he'd wake up, drenched in sweat and positive that she was lying naked next to him.

He couldn't wait to see her again. Finally he had gathered enough courage to tell her how he felt, how much he loved her and how badly he needed to be with her.

When he arrived at the meeting point there was a young male Starfleet Commander waiting for him. "Commander Riker of the Enterprise?" Will grinned freely; he really had missed his life between the stars. He wondered if this young man would be the one Picard had chosen to replace him during his shore leave.

"Yes Commander."

"Terrific, I am Commander Tilo Tralp, First Officier of the USS Europe." Riker eyes shot around in confusion.

"The USS Europe? I was under the impression the Enterprise would pick me up?" Tilo's face briefly showed a hint of sadness as he explained.

"The Enterprise is currently on a rescue mission, they could not afford the time to pick you up Sir." Curious as he was Will had the questions ready in his mind, but before he could ask anything the younger officer asked him to keep the questions to himself, at least until they were beamed up. Riker nodded his understanding as Tilo tapped his CommBadge and requested for beam-out.

They materialized in the Transporter Room of the Interprid Class USS Europe and after greeting the officer behind the conn Tilo lead the Enterprise officer to the Ready Room of his Captain.

Will froze in his steps as his eyes met those of the woman behind the desk. A small grin played across her face as she stood up, all the time holding his gaze with her ice-blue eyes. "Commander Riker, welcome onboard the Europe."

Recovered from the initial shock Will flashed her a patented Riker grin and accepted her held-out hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you again *Captain* Shelby."


He had tried to obtain more information on the Enterprise's current rescue mission, but Captain Shelby refused to give him any, stating Captain Picard would inform him once he was back on the Enterprise, which was four days later.

Riker was surprised as, besides the Europe, there were apparently two other vessels rendezvousing with the flagship: the USS Hood and the USS Voyager. It wasn't a common sight; four Starfleet vessels facing each other. Obviously, this rescue mission was of great importance to Starfleet.

Saying good bye to Shelby and her First Officer he was transported to the Enterprise, where he was welcome by....well, by no one.

Basically on instinct Will headed for the Bridge, impatient to see his friends again. The situation he encountered on the Bridge however was not quite like the one he'd expected.

"Doctor Pulaski will transport to your vessel in five minutes Picard. Good luck in rescuing your First Officer, Captain Littlejohn out." The stern face of the dark-skinned human disappeared from the large viewscreen and was instantly replaced by that of Admiral Kathryn Janeway.

"Admiral," respectfully Jean-Luc bowed his head slightly "I assume you have received the data my Operations Officer sent you?" On the screen the Admiral nodded the confirmation and Riker couldn't help but notice that she once again had changed her hairstyle, something Janeway was famous for throughout the Galaxy.

"My Senior Staff is currently studying so we can give you our best."

"I appreciate that Sir, when will you be ready to leave?"

"Jean-Luc, you are in charge of this mission, we are ready to leave at your command." In surprise Will shifted his gaze from the Admiral's face to Picard's bald head several times. His curiosity to who they were out to rescue grew. It was very rarely that an Admiral would be so involved in a mission, much less be under the command of someone lower in rank.

"Acknowledged Admiral, the Enterprise will leave in approximately thirty minutes." This time Admiral Janeway bowed her head respectfully as she said her last words before terminating the link. "Good hunt Captain."

All the time during the conversations between his superiors Riker hadn't moved and from where he stood, not far from the Turbolift, he could hear Picard's tired sigh. Just when he begun his way down the Turbolift's doors behind him reopened and Kate Pulaski accessed the Bridge. She passed him before he was even half way down. 'Kate? What is she doing here?'

At the sight of his old friend Picard rose to his feet and hugged the Doctor tightly. "Welcome back onboard Doctor."

"Thank you Jean-Luc, I only wish it wasn't for these reasons." The two sadly smiled before they started heading to the Observation Lounge.

"Mr. Data, have Doctor Crusher and Commander Riker report to the Observation Lounge as soon as they are available."

"Aye Captain." Instead of speaking up and informing his friends that he was already on the Bridge, Riker decided to just follow them into the Observation Lounge.

"Doctor Crusher, please report to the Observation Lounge." Will smiled slightly as he realized he'd even missed Data's unemotional voice.

>On my way.< Hearing Beverly's voice he recalled how often they'd had an argument about him either staying or leaving Sickbay, he really was home again.


Riker glanced around the Bridge, the Captain was having dinner with his wife and since he had nothing better to do Will had volunteered to take over the Bridge. 'Back for a month, and still I'm not home', he thought ruefully. No where would he be home as long as Deanna wasn't at his side, he had come to realize that not too long ago.


Anxiously Riker entered the Observation Lounge in the wake of Doctor Pulaski and an obviously worried Captain. It was only when Picard turned around that they realized he was there.

"Number One," there was far more enthusiasm in Picard's voice then Riker had expected, "I hadn't expected you yet. Welcome back." Jean-Luc smiled broadly and when he moved to hug his Second in Command, the latter more than simply surprised.

"Thank you Captain, it feels good to be back among the stars." Jean-Luc nodded his agreement and motioned Will to take a seat. Kate Pulaski threw the bald man a quizzical look after having said the Commander hello.

"Will just returned from a nine month shore leave, he isn't aware of the situation yet." Kate's eyes widened for an instant, then she shook her head sadly and threw the First Officer a pitying look. These actions only served to feed Riker's curiosity, but for the first time a faint sense of concern manifested itself.

"Quite right. This mission is obviously very important. I was hoping to be informed now?" Very quickly the two older officers exchanged looks, their silent communication worrying Will even more.

"We'll wait for Beverly first."

Jean-Luc pondered over how Riker would react to the changes there had been since his departure nine months earlier, not the least of which had lead to Deanna Troi's current captivity and the Enterprise's hunt to rescue her. But there was also his marriage with the ship's CMO and, perhaps more visible, her pregnancy. "Well," he decided, remembering the words of a cherished friend, "the best way out is through."

Four minutes had passed since they'd started their wait for Doctor Crusher. The time they had spend chit-chatting about Kate's assignments the past several years while she, of course, wanted to know what had happened onboard the Enterprise.

They had just started to ask Will about his shore leave, when to his relief the doors opened. He stood up to greet his friend, not quite prepared for the transformation she'd undergone..

Surprise registered on his face and his greeting died in his throat as his eyes fell on her bulging belly, unquestionably home to a little Crusher. Beverly's face, on the other hand, lit up with joy when her eyes registered the tall and bearded man whom she'd put back together more time than she could remember.

She waggled --one could hardly call it walking anymore, she had confided to her husband-- towards him with her arms widely spread. "Will! You're back, oh it's great to see you again! And you look good too!"

Picard grinned as his wife hugged the dumbfounded younger man. He was glad to see her ' worry-lines' --as he affectionately called them-- disappear for a couple of moments. Released from the Doctor’s hold Riker practically fell back into his chair. "Be--Beverly, you're..."

"Pregnant, yes." Beverly finished his sentence with a tender smile on her face, of her previous enthusiasm was no trace left.

"Well…erm...congratulations then." She managed a weak smile despite her sudden sadness, for she had realized that Jean-Luc had invited Will into the meeting to inform him about Deanna. Jean-Luc rose up from his chair, kissed her tenderly on her cheek and guided her to her seat.

Grinningly Doctor Pulaski advised Riker to close his mouth, which he did only to open it an instant later. "You two," he shifted his gaze from his CMO to his Captain and back, "are together?"

"Married actually." Beverly stated matter-of-factly as she showed him the solid band of gold around her ring finger.

This time Will recovered quicker from the news than he had before, he extended his hand first to Mr. Picard and then to Mrs. Picard, congratulating them genuinely on their marriage and child. Picard seemed more than willing to wait for everyone to settle back in their seats. He had no idea how to break the news about Deanna to Will and although Doctor Pulaski had more information than the Commander he was quite sure she too would be shocked.

Beverly placed a re-assuring hand over that of her husband, knowing that this meeting would be one of the most difficult ones they'd ever had. Jean-Luc looked at her with eyes filled with gratitude and anxiety, then he took a deep breath and began.

"The Hydra has been spotted near the Cardessian boarder; it will take us three weeks to get there. Star Station Deep Space Nine will keep track of the vessel as long as possible. The U.S.S Voyager will accompany us in case we'll be forced to face battle." Nervous Picard glanced from one officer to the other. His eyes briefly met the questioning ones of his just returned First Officer, but her couldn't bring himself to look at them for longer than a second.

"Starfleet Command has made this mission top priority..." He paused for a few seconds before revealing the identity of the missing officer to Commander Riker. "...Deanna Troi *must* be rescued."

Picard had spoken with such a stern finite that it took Riker a few moments longer to realize what he had just been told. But when the name of the person Starfleet so desperately wanted to rescue penetrated his clouded mind he could not contain the gasp of horror that fled from his throat. "De--Deanna?!" For a moment he entertained the thought, the hope, they were joking, but the compassion and worry that was written all over the faces of his friends forced him to face reality: they were not joking. His precious Deanna, his Imzadi was being held captive.

The others present in the Lounge allowed him all the time his mind needed to fully comprehend what the Captain's words meant. As he did a fear like he had never felt before gripped his throat, almost preventing him to breath.

As soon as the hold on the fear had on him lessened he spit out the questions that were swirling around in his head. "What?! How? Why? By whom?" Wide-eyed he stared at his CO and his wife, his blue gaze begging them for answers.

This time it was Beverly who spoke. "You'll be informed about what you need to know, for now we'll have to discuss our strategy." Quizzically Riker locked his eyes on Beverly, confused by the unusual harsh and strict tone in her voice, his eyes however basically *demanded* her to explain, but the red-head didn't yield under his gaze.

She looked at Picard, almost as if asking his permission. When he nodded ever so slightly she took a deep breath, managed to stand up and walked --or waggled-- to the viewscreen. She touched the panel next to it and a colorful schematic of Deanna's medical file appeared.

"We have no idea shape she is --or will be-- in." The tone in the Doctor's voice was regretful and sad; obviously she didn't have much confidence in Troi's well-being. "But because of the possible damage," Jean-Luc continued, "a minimal Away Team will beam down, two people at most."

"Captain, I'd..." Before Riker could finish his request Picard raised his hand and cut him off.

"Negative Number One, Mr. Data and Lieutenant Fko will go." Will was going to protest but the sharp look Beverly shot him made him hold back his comments, for now. "Doctor Pulaski, Doctor Crusher will guide you through Counselor Troi's medical file should the need arise for you to assist Doctor Crusher during an operation or perhaps even completely take over." For a brief second Crusher's eyes flashed with regret and anger, but she managed to hide it just as soon.

Kate reached out to her colleague and ensuring squeezed her hand reassuringly. "She'll be fine, you'll see." Riker's concern grew as he saw Crusher's weak, totally unconvincing smile. 'What's so worrying about this?' he questioned himself. All of them had had their share of kidnaps and rescue mission's, but never had he seen his Captain so worried, unsure and helpless.

"If you'll excuse us now ladies..." Jean-Luc stood up and motioned the younger man to follow him.

With his heart beating rapidly in his throat Will followed the older bald man, he couldn't remember a time he had even been so nervous or worried. He wanted to grab Picard's collar and shake him until he'd answered all of his questions, but as most of the time he managed to control himself.

Once inside the Ready Room Riker sat down and waited until the older man had composed his thoughts and sat down as well. The latter Will saw as a sign for him to finally voice his questions. "Captain, what lead to the Counselor's kidnapping and who kidnapped her?"

"What lead to Deanna's kidnap?" Slowly Jean-Luc repeated the question, putting emphasis on each single word. "Where to start?"

"The beginning Sir." Again the older man regarded his companion thoughtfully. He had discussed what to tell and what not to tell Riker extensively, but still he had his doubts.

"All right." Will sighed relieved, finally he would get some answers, or so he hoped. "Four months after you departed an Away Team lead by Deanna beamed down to the planet Pklira Prime." Seeing the surprise register on the face of his XO he explained. "Yes, Deanna took over your duties." Riker opened his mouth to comment, but closed it before ever making a sound and waited for Picard to continue.

"After two days on the planet we were attacked by two members of an interstellar terrorist organization. Deanna managed to save the planet's Prime Minister and myself..." Jean-Luc swallowed almost unnoticeable before he continued. "...by throwing her CommBadge to the Minister, thereby having him beamed up, but staying behind herself.

Again the Captain of the Enterprise paused, making Riker wonder how he'd be able to keep himself under control if his superior would keep throwing in those damn breaks! "After four days Troi escaped and returned to the ship." Will sighed of relief but immediately realized there was more to the story, for Deanna was missing again. "Her injuries were severe and it took almost a month before she fit to return to duty."

Will let the information wash over him. His impression now remained blank as he could only imagine the horror his Imzadi had been through. "We spend several months hunting the leader of the organization which members had kidnapped Troi, drawing on the information Deanna provided." Deliberately he left out *how* Troi had gained that that information in the first place, both he and his wife had agreed that Deanna was the only one who had the right to do that.

"A month ago we finally found their 'flagship'. Data, Counselor Troi and Lieutenant Fko beamed over to the ship." Once again Picard paused and locked his eyes on the blue gaze of the man across him. Unconsciously Riker clenched his hands into fists, why couldn't the Captain just continue without those nerve-wrenching breaks?!


"My god, I'm not even sure I believe this." Doctor Kate Pulaski stared at the viewscreen in front of her. On the other side of the table Beverly Picard sadly shook her head. "I didn't believe it either. God Kate, you should've seen her. She looked like she'd been hiking around a forest for days. Her hair filthy and tangled, cuts and bruises all over her body." The two doctors silently studied the files displayed on the viewscreen, neither of them sure what to say or do.

"All right," taking a deep breath Kate broke the silence hanging between her and Beverly, "what do you think we should expect when she's rescued?" If possible Beverly's features became even darker, her eyes even sadder.

"The worst. They experimented on her the first time, there's no reason for them not to continue those experiments, if anything they'll be more specific and therefore carry greater consequences." Kate found herself agreeing with the younger woman's words and lowered her eyes to the table, almost as if she was ashamed.

"Also," the redhead continued her voice now barely a whisper "it's quite possible she'll have her full defenses up." At this Pulaski raised her head and locked her eyes on the woman across the table.

"You think she'll have those 'phoenix-powers' again?" Slowly Crusher nodded.

"Yes, if the ones who are holding her treat her like they did last time I believe so."

"But don't they know what'll happen to her? Don't they know that she'll be able to kill them with a single thought?" Judging by the look in Crusher's eyes she had obviously expected that question, and her reply was quick and logical.

"Not likely, we arrested all the persons who had to do with her first captivity." Again Kate nodded in agreement.

"All right, so what will we do next?" Beverly smiled at her colleagues attempt to sound optimistic and ordered the computer to turn the viewscreen off.

"I'll take you through the treatment I gave Deanna last time and we'll familiarize ourselves best we can with Betazoid/Human physiology." Quickly Beverly inserted some order in the panel build in in the conference table they were sitting at. "I just copied Deanna's complete medical file, plus our database on half Betazoid, half Human physiology and send it to your temporary office." Kate nodded her understanding and stood up.

"In that case, I think I'd better go and study." Beverly responded to the elder woman's smile with one of her own, but her eyes remained filled with sadness and resignation. She didn't belief for one bit Deanna's injuries would be less severe than last time. She couldn't explain why not and she hated herself for it, but nonetheless, the feeling *was* there and she couldn't get it out of her mind. Absently she let her hand trail down to her abdomen where it tenderly caressed her swollen belly, instinctively soothing the child growing there. Would her son or daughter ever have the opportunity to come to know his or her mother's best friend?

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Welcome Home

The Present...

"Data...?" Before he could finish his question the android already answered. "Seven minutes Commander." For a second Riker’s eyes remained on the back of Data’s head. Was that sarcasm in his voice? Unconsciously he admitted that he'd asked the same question at least twenty times since he'd returned to the Bridge from lunch, which had been just over thirty minutes ago.

It made him feel better that even the Captain was showing signs of nervousness as well. All the Senior Staff officers were present at the command center of the Flagship of the Federation and all were eager to reach their destination, yet at the same time couldn't help being frightened and nervous. Jean-Luc Picard was seating in the center as usually, his left hand tightly holding that of his wife, Beverly Howard-Crusher-Picard who was seated on his left side.

Will's 'own' chair was occupied by Doctor Kate Pulaski, he had offered it to her, knowing his nerves wouldn't allow him to use it anyway. Data was seated at the left con and Raha Dax was in control of the helm. The Trill had four lifetimes of experiencing in flying just about anything and Riker couldn't think of anyone he'd rather have steering now. Jaka Fko was standing at her usual position behind the arch that held the weapon and shields controls and Geordi was standing near the Engineering station.

It was safe to say the Enterprise was prepared for just about every situation...except for the one they found.

"Captain," The urgency in Data's voice draw everyone's attention instantly, "the Hydra seems to be...decloaking."

"Decloaking? On screen!" Totally confused the First Officer and Captain briefly locked their eyes. In the weeks the Hydra had been followed by Starfleet ships, probes and sensor arrays the Hydra had never *once* decloaked. And now she was decloaking right in front of their noses.

"Sensors indicate random system failure, power fluctuations and off-line warp engines." If possible the confusion that had spread throughout the Bridge grew even more. "What is going on there?" Riker murmured to no one in particular.

"Sir," Jaka's surprisingly calm and steady voice sliced through the silence, "we are being hailed by Admiral Janeway."

"Half screen Lieutenant." Obediently the Security Chief pushed some controls and mere instances later Janeway's face appeared on the right half of the main viewer.

"Captain, our sensors are indicating some major problems onboard the Hydra."

"Yes, our sensors confirmed that. It might be a trap, but I sincerely doubt it." What he wouldn't give to have Deanna at his side now, the captain thought smugly. She could've told them instantly whether or not it was a trap.

"I tend to agree Jean-Luc, but what to do next?" His intentional reply was cut of by Fko who's voice had suddenly lost its calmness. "The Hydra is sending out a distress call."

"Let's hear it!" The tension that had replaced the nervousness hung like a thick cload around each officer. What was going on on that vessel? How could they bring Deanna back onboard?

>Help us! Enterprise you have to help us! She's going to kill us all! Stop her!< The man was absolutely terrified, his voice sent chills down Riker's spine. >We did not know! We can't control her! She's driving everyone insane! People are killing each other and--< Abruptly the man was silent, just long enough for Picard to glance around his Bridge and see the reactions of his officers to the unknown man's plea. Then just as suddenly as the voice had died it began again, this time utterly calm. >This is what we deserve and I accept it. We should never have treated her like we did. Her pain is unbearable I can feel it raging through my body and yet I feel a calmness so serene it's the best feeling I've ever had.<

"The communication has been terminated Captain." Rendered speechless Jean-Luc merely nodded his acknowledgement. His mind, just like that of everyone else who'd heard the man, was trying to put what the man had told them in perspective, trying to figure out what he meant. After half a minute it was Data who calmly interrupted his strain of thoughts.

"The Hydra has dropped her shields. Scanning for Counselor Troi," everyone held their breath as they waited for Data to continue and after a long tensed silence he did, "I have located one half human/ half Betazoid female but I am unable to beam her up. She seems to be shielded." The face of both Picards fell for instance, but just as soon Beverly queried, "the same signature as before?"

"Affirmative Doctor, only the shield is approximately 300% stronger now." Everyone gasped at his words. Everyone except Will Riker, for he had no idea what they were talking about.

"Any ideas how to get her out of it? We can't beam over with the ship in the condition it is in now." To Will the answer seemed obvious, after all there were protocols for situations in which one needed to disengage an enemies force field.

"Take down the source or try and overload it."

"Impossible Commander." Confused he looked at his Captain. Impossible? What the heck?!

"Let me try." Beverly's whisper was so soft Will was surprised he'd heard it, he wondered what she meant.

"Beverly." The warning in Picard's voice was undeniable, Will saw how Beverly assuring squeezed her husbands hand before she withdrew hers and folded her hands in her lap, mimicking a posture almost characteristic to Deanna. She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing, drawing on the small amount of mind sending techniques Deanna had taught her.

She tried to picture Deanna's face in her mind and recalled the emotions she associated with her friend. Knowing there wasn't much time left Beverly formed an unspoken sentence and tried to send it to her best friend. Hoping with every fiber of her being she would receive it and listen.

~Deanna? It's Bev, let us beam you home.~ For nearly a minute Beverly remained seated with her eyes closed and just when she was about to give up a soft and unsure voice rang through her mind.

~Bev? You're here?~ Accompanied by the question she felt a slight tingle that she'd come to familiarize with a mental scan. She didn't bother to reply, knowing she wouldn't be able to send a message again. Instead she cleared her mind and focused on the woman that she had grown to love as a sister.

The tingle fainted and just before the link between the two women was broken she heard one word echoing through her mind. ~Home~

The officers on the Enterprise watched her in surprise as she also spoke the word out a loud, but before any of them could say anything a woman materialized on the Bridge. In almost the same second an explosion on the view screen made them turn and watch the Hydra as it exploded into millions of tiny shreds, but just as soon they shifted their gazes back to Troi, more concerned for the well-being of their friend then for the exploded vessel. Her fiery green gaze studied each of the staff present, seemingly burning their way into their minds. When those green eyes locked on the blue ones of the First Officer he nearly jumped back, startled by their intensity and unfamiliarity. Deanna on her turn reacted quite distressed.

"No," her voice nothing more than a faint whisper and her features drawn in horror, "no. That's not possible! Please, oh gods, please!"

Instinctively Will reached out to her, overcome the initial shock. "Deanna?" Unlike he expected she didn't whisper his name in return. Unlike Beverly expected she didn't attack him, but instead a silent scream left her lips as she staggered backwards and collapsed.

Again Riker reached out to her, hoping that he could draw her out of the nightmare in which she was trapped if only he could lock his eyes on her. Deanna crawled back, shying away from the hand that was trying to reach her and the piercing blue eyes she had come to fear.

Once back against the wall she was trapped. ~No where to run, no where to hide Imzadi, never." The calm and threatening voice echoed through her psyche, she had stopped fighting it long ago. But she was back on the Enterprise now, she was home and she would *not* let him take that away from her again!

The flames in her green eyes fired up again as she locked them on the blue eyes of the man standing before her. Thinking he'd come through to her Will's confidence grew and he closed in on her step by step never noting Beverly's warnings or pleas until she yelled at him. "Damn it Will! You're scaring her!!!" His eyes briefly left Troi's but it was already too late, Deanna's voice blasted throughout his mind on a deafening tone, ~GET AWAY FROM ME!!!~. He nearly blacked out by the sheer amount of anger and desperation behind her scream but managed to keep his footing, leaning on Katherine who'd jumped up behind him.

"Will, walk away from her." He shook his head. She needed his help, he couldn't leave now. "Don't you see she's terrified of you? Let her be." As he looked at Troi's bruised face he saw a lot of emotions, but none of them being fear.

"Number One, step away from the Counselor." This time it was Captain Picard who urged him, for he'd seen something in his counselor's eyes far more disturbing than fear. Sensing no one currently paid attention to her Troi slowly stood up in a nearly animalistic way.

It was only when she was standing Will realized something was wrong because he felt two large hands closing around his throat and lifting him into the air. When he tried to face his attacker he was unsuccessful for the simple fact that there was no one to be seen. It was now Troi who advanced towards Riker, her defensive stance made the others step back, leaving Will completely to her mercy.

His air supply was quickly diminishing and his face became redder with each passing second. "You cannot hurt me anymore, I won't let you!" she whispered the words through clenched teeth, keeping her furious gaze lock on him. As he ran out of air horrendous pictures popped up in his mind, despair, loss, revulsion and fear wrapped themselves tightly around his heart turning his breathing shallow and quick.

Desperately he glanced around, begging his friends for help. He saw Jean-Luc whispering to someone but he couldn't make out his words, or to whom he was speaking. Beverly was now seated in the Captain's Chair, her eyes closed and her features drawn in concentration. Kate was standing a few feet next to him, her eyes fixed on Troi's face and he spotted Jaka on his other side, aiming a phaser on the Betazoid who was strangling him. He wanted to yell at the Security Chief that she shouldn't fire at Deanna but he couldn't make any sound. He needed to get away from her invisible hold on him, he needed to convince her to let him go. And fast for he had almost run out of air.

Not being able to talk he tried to use their bond, unsure it would work because it hadn't been used for ten months. Surprise hit him when his thoughts reached her far more easily than ever before. ~Deanna, let me go. Please?! I won't hurt you, I promise.~ He knew for a fact she had heard him, but she didn't react at all.

Beverly in the mean time was quietly humming an ancient Betazoid lullaby she'd heard Deanna sing many times before. If only she could reach her friend she could help her but she didn't seem to be able to penetrate the layers of anguish, fear, pain and hatred that had wrapped themselves around the empath's heart and mind. Luckily for her, her human mind made it impossible to actually experience those emotions herself as an empath would've had.

For the first time in two months Troi's mind was confronted with sensations of friendship and love. Surprised by the unwavering strength flowing beneath the thoughts of those around her Deanna gasped and finally released Riker. Not a second to soon, he dropped on the floor and gulped in breaths of air for several moments, trying to compose himself. None of the others seemed to notice his release and kept their eyes on the pained features of the Betazoid softly whispering soothing and calming words to her.

When the ship's CMO realized Deanna's resolve began to crumble she pushed herself out the comfortable chair and approached her. With barely a meter left to separate the two women Beverly finally spoke aloud. "Shh Dea it's all right. You're home, no one will hurt you. We're your friends, we'll protect you and we love you." With each spoken word the fire in her green eyes died a little until, as Beverly spoke the last three words, she closed her eyes and allowed her friends' emotions wash over her replacing part of her pain if only for a minute.

She was home, on the Enterprise, safe.

And tears rolled down her cheeks. Some of joy, some of pain. Deanna lowered herself to the ground and buried her face in her hands.

As fast as she could Beverly sat down besides her and enveloped her within her long arms. Deanna's cries grew louder and more violently as she clutched the doctor tightly. "Shh...you'll be all right." Troi pressed closer against her, needing to feel her comforting presence. Everything Thomas had done to her was still fresh in her mind and the pain she had felt was still very present, but she hoped she could fight the memories with the help of her friends.

"S'srahi emit t'rei hiuiy." Surprised by Deanna's probably Betazoid words Beverly exchanged a glance with her husband, who turned to Data asking the android a question without voicing it.

"I believe she is asking for our help Sir." Picard nodded his acknowledgement and turned back tot the two women cradled in each other's arms. Without turning around he spoke again to Data.

"Can you tell her that's she's safe and that we'll help her?" Curious as to why the Captain would want him to speak to Troi in Betazoid Data asked. After a few words however he broke off the question, suddenly realizing the insignificance. He accessed the very few databases about Troi's maternal language available and when he'd gathered enough information he stepped closer to her.

"Ihiay Gaia Zinq, su veilag ra t'rei." Though the words were definitely alien, his pronunciation missed the musical tone most Betazoids had. Nonetheless hearing the words had an ever so slightly calming influence on Deanna.

Tears escaped her black eyes and strangled sobs worked their way up her throat. Soon her bruised and aching body was shaking from her unleashed pain and fear. For the first time in months she dared to let out all her anguish. Feeling save surrounded by the minds and thoughts of her friends.

Unconsciously the Bridge officers had formed a half circle around the CMO and the Betazoid, carefully keeping their minds on positive, loving and heeling thoughts.

When Beverly thought it was time she ordered direct transport to Sickbay for her, Deanna and doctor Pulaski and within seconds the three women disappeared.

The remaining officers couldn't help but let out a deep sigh of relief. Captain Troi had been rescued and with that the tense months of trying to track down the vessel carrying their First Officer. With their turmoil raging inside them each returned to his or her duty station, their minds lingering in Sickbay.

The expression on the stern face of the Captain was strained, which was a clear indication of his troubled mind. In the months of the search his goals were simple: get Deanna back onboard and support his pregnant wife. Now that one of the goals had been reached he was faced with more questions than he'd care to admit. What happened to the Hydra? Who had held Deanna and why? What had he done to her? Would she recover and if so, how long would it take her? Would Beverly be able to handle her best friend's treatment? Would the stress be too much for her?

And what about Will? How would he handle the entire situation? It was strange to realize how easily the man had slipped back into the position of XO, even though finding himself in a stressful situation after nine months of absence. Talking about XO's...what was he to do with two of them? Although it probably wouldn't be difficult to reassign either of them, he wasn't keen to loose Deanna or Will. It *was* about damn time Riker took his own command he figured.

At his right Riker wasn't battling as many questions as his Captain, but his worry for Troi was clearly etched on his face. Since his return to the Enterprise life had been one surprise after the other. Suddenly Riker jumped out his chair, drawing the attention of his Captain. "Sir, permission to go to Sickbay."

"Negative Commander." Picard's abrupt and matter-of-factly answer rendered Riker speechless. It wasn't often he'd heard him speak in such tone and when he did something either upset him personally or he was fighting enemies. "Sir?"

"You're not going Commander, sit down." Baffled by the sternness in his voice Will did as told and sat down. When he tried to reach Deanna mentally he only encountered silence, she was probably under sedation and being prepped for possible surgery. Kate and Beverly were probably the two best doctors in Starfleet, but that knowledge didn't quell his concern. In an attempt to keep his mind busy Riker decided to view the sensor logs of the Hydra’s explosion.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Awakening

"Doctors." Quickly he let his eyes slide over his wife, checking for any signs of exhaustion and pain. For a brief moment they locked eyes and he saw just a flicker of exhaustion and when she sat down it was clear her ankles and back were hearting. She'd need -and get- a thorough massage tonight.

"Captain," they greeted, tiredness laced through their voices, "we've completed Captain Troi's surgery." He frowned at Doctor Crusher's lack for further information about Troi's condition, but decided to wait until one of them would say something.

"Her physical injures," this time it was Kate who spoke for she realized it was too painful for Beverly to do it, "were in many regards less serious then the ones after her ordeal on Pklira Prime. She suffered mal-nutrition, dehydration, a number of bruises, cuts and a broken wrist." As bad as that sounded the injuries were indeed less severe than her previous ones, but Doctor Pulaski hadn't finished yet. "The trickiest was and will be the extreme large amount of drugs in her system; nearly twice as much as before." This new bit of information brought Jean-Luc's head up, questions shining in his eyes.

"I'm not sure what they were hoping to accomplish, the drugs served a variety of purposes. She's been paralyzed two or three times and brought into some kind of comatose state. Other than that the drugs have had a significant influence of her Betazoid abilities."

"It's too soon to say exactly what changes she's undergone, we'll have to wait until she wakes up."

"Can you give any indication how long her recovery will take?" Sadly the two women shook their heads. "We have no way to tell how vast the psychological damage is."

"She's a strong woman; her chances for recovery must be good." The look that passed between the two doctors told him they weren't so sure, but they nodded nonetheless. A shiver crawled up his spine and reached the base of his skull within the second. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying to shake of the feeling of panic that seemed to close in on him.


"Minimal, we have to keep any empathic interaction as little as possible."

"Will?" Again a silent communication between the doctors, they'd obviously discussed Riker's possible influence on Deanna.

"No. He won't be able to control his emotions and should Deanna be a wake; she doesn't know he returned and we don't know how she feels about him." This time he allowed the sigh he'd been holding back to escape from his throat. "So we're playing the waiting game?"

"Afraid so."


Expectantly he looked up as the doors slid apart, he had expected his wife home hours ago but she hadn't wanted to leave Deanna yet. With a happy smile he welcomed his wife, then quickly got to his feet and closed her in his embrace. She leaned back against him, grateful for his support. Docile she followed his lead to the couch and lied down to rest her head on his lap. He gently smoothed her hair out her face and bent to kiss her forehead.

"How are you?"

"Tired." She sighed, "we've done pretty much all we can do, but still it doesn't seem enough."

"Shh. I'm sure you've done everything you could." She murmured her acknowledgement, but her face suggested she didn't feel that way at all. "Want something to eat?"

"No, I ate in Sickbay." Their hand found each other and under his lead began to rub small circles on her belly. "Don't forget to look after yourself Bev." He studied her face closely and saw the tension hadn't left her face yet.

"What's bothering you?"


"You're miles away." His mild amusement made place for concern as he realized just how much this whole situation with Deanna unsettled her.

"No, just in Sickbay." Well, at least she still had her sense of humor. He knew from experience that the best way to help her deal with it was to talk her through it, rather than trying to take her mind off the matter.

"How is she?" She pushed herself upright, eager to talk. "I can't tell you...doctor/patient confidently."


"But," Beverly debated with herself whether or not she could tell him. Deanna had told her after her recovery from Pklira Prime that if Beverly needed to talk about her patients it might be helpful to create some kind of diary. Under normal circumstances Beverly turned to Deanna, knowing that the Counselor as well had patient-confidently. But this was different; Deanna's injuries were too personal. She couldn't afford that knowledge to alter her husband's attitude toward his friend, counselor and First Officer. "But...but nothing. I can't tell you."

It bothered him, he knew how badly she needed to talk about it but her reluctance meant that the injuries were too personal to talk about without the consent of the patient. And now, apart from being worried about his wife and unborn child, his worry about his officer grew as well.

The coming weeks would be unnerving; all everyone could do was wait. The doctors had decided to keep Troi under sedation for at least one and a half week, giving her body and psyche time to rest and heal. There was no doubt however that Deanna had a long road to recovery ahead. If not physical, then psychological.


Two weeks later...

"Come in." Engrossed in the padd the ship's CMO had brought in fifteen minutes earlier, Jean-Luc didn't look up to acknowledge his visitor until he'd finished reading. "Will." It surprised him a little that his long time friend hadn't tried to get his attention sooner. Had he become so attuned to his Captain that he knew when trying to interrupt would be futile, or had the nine months absence made him a bit insecure about his current position on board the Enterprise?

"Sir, what's happening to Deanna?" The abruptness of his question startled Picard. He had expected Beverly to explain the situation to Will and even if she deemed it better for him that he'd explain it, why hadn't she given him a sign? Too late now, fortunately he had lifetime of experience with difficult situations.

"She's being treated."

"Beverly told me as much." Riker grumbled angrily and leaned closer to his CO, demanding an answer without saying a word. "I'm sorry Will, but Deanna can't handle visitors yet." Not the answer the commander was waiting for, that much as clear by the expression on his face.

"I figured as much, *sir*. But *why*? According to the official reports her injuries are healed and she is just regaining her strength; so why can't I visit her?! I haven't seen her since she came back on board!" It seemed Riker frustration had reached a boiling point. For weeks they had tried to give him as little information as possible, at least until Deanna had completely awoken and could tell them what she wanted to keep classified. Unfortunately they had little choice in that matter now. Knowing Will Riker he would not settle down before he had a satisfying explanation for why he wasn't allowed to visit Troi.

"Will," no use in evading the question...but maybe he could tell as little as possible. The Doctors had been very insisted on keeping Deanna's condition as classified as possible, "until Doctor Crusher and Doctor Pulaski feel she's strong enough to handle visitors you'll have to leave her alone." The ire flickering in his first officer's blue eyes told him he wouldn't settle for it.

"Look Will, Deanna's Betazoid abilities have been manipulated, right now she's a little more sensitive," 'a little more' was just about as big as an understatement could get, right now Deanna was the most powerful telepath/empath ever recorded in Betazoid history according to Beverly and Kate, "to the moods of those around her, therefore she must be kept as isolated as possible." To his relief he saw the ire in Riker's eye fade and he knew that for now he would accept Beverly's order to stay away from Deanna.

"I'll let you know as soon as she's allowed to receive visitors Will."

"Thank you sir."


{Damnit, I have to be in--} Frustration {How do I look? Will he--}{Hriay'K Trnopd Zsa--} Anxiety {--Engineering zara te duo qis--} Love {Three more days till our next mission, Beverly--} Longing {Oh I hate my--}{I'm so--} Anger {You all--}{--bed now} Tiredness {So many drugs--} Worry {Ztio, deira'Tgi}{Oh, this tastes--} Delight {The recalibratio--}{--just one week--} Haste {--there she is again} Disdain {Dialdrazine and kyra-amine don't--}{--looks absolutely radiant to--} Happiness {oh..what's in that--} Curiosity {Deanna? What's happe--}


'What's happening? Where am I? Walls around me, why? I can't move! He has paralyzed me again! No, can't let it happen, must resist. My eyes, I have to open my eyes!'


"Doctor! Doctor, she's coming around."

"It's about time!" Kate hurried over to the biobed of her patient and tapped her commbadge, "Pulaski to Crusher, your patient is waking up."

>On my way!<


Voices, far away, beyond reach. 'What are they saying? Who are they?' More voices, hurried, indistinctive and female. 'What is he planning? My eyes, why won't they open? What has he done to me?' Hands touching her face, the voices softer, almost soothing. 'What is he trying to do?'

"Everybody move away, give her some space." The nurses moved away, leaving only Beverly and Kate near the biobed. The former took one of Deanna's hands in her own. "Dea? Take it easy, don't hurry. You're save here, I promise." Finally she managed to open her eyes, just a little bit, but enough to make out that the auburn-blur hovering above her was Beverly Picard.

What kind of game was he playing with her now? Trying to make her believe she had been rescued only to hurt her more? After all, he would only mute her senses when he had something to hide from her. Was this yet another holodeck-recreation? She knew and even understood the games he was playing with her, but her defenses against them had long since failed. This was only another game, and she should not believe it for a single second. But she hoped, despite her better knowledge she hoped she was finally rescued, away from his grasp and those piercing blue eyes.

Deanna closed her eyes again, hoping to make Thomas believe she was a sleep, but the voices continued, coaxing her to open her eyes. "Com'on Dea, open those pretty eyes." Could it be true? Was it really Beverly talking to her now? She had learned through experience that Thomas would've given up by now and either would've turned of the simulation and left or lost his temper. But none of that had happened and the voices continued to talk to her. She wanted to open her eyes, god knew she wanted to. Her heart and mind craved to sense the love and care from her friends again, but she couldn't quite believe that those memories indeed were more than just dreams.

From a professional point of view she was quite aware that she was close to the point of no return. Her resistance had been broken, but the hope was still there. When that hope would be gone, so would she and there was no doubt in her mind Thomas Riker was -very- close to reaching his goal and make her his docile slave. Drawing on the last string of hope she decided to take her chances, if this wasn't real Riker would get what he wanted, but if it was it would be her salvation.

The two doctors kept a close look on their patient's face hoping fiercely she'd open her eyes. Deanna Troi had been unconscious for two weeks and they needed her to wake up to make a more reliable prognosis of her condition. But more than that they just wanted their friend back. A relieved smile crossed their faces as Troi blinked her eyes several times and then finally opened them.

"B-Bev?" Speaking was a bit awkward, her tongue felt twice it's usual size and her lips were completely dried out. Deanna almost panicked as she realized she couldn't move. Foreseeing the reaction doctor Crusher gently pressed her hand against Deanna's forehead and whispered, "shh...you're all right, just a bit stiff." Her black eyes shot around, trying to determine where she was and if what she was seeing was real. "You're in Sickbay Dea, on the Enterprise." The redhead almost gasped at the vulnerability and fright in his friend's eyes.

"Am I?" she queried, finding it a little bit easier to speak.

"Yes you are," Kate now stepped up to the bed, maneuvering herself in Deanna's view, "and we're not going to let you get away again." For a moment Troi blankly stared at the new person, not quite realizing who she was, but then recognition hit her and a fraction later she started to cry of joy. She was home, on the Enterprise; the *real* Enterprise. There was no way Thomas could've known about Kate. She was really back!

The Betazoid's tears alarmed both doctors; was she in pain? But then Beverly faintly picked up hazy thoughts of the joy and relief and smiled genuinely for the first time since the Counselor had been back onboard. With her long fingers she wiped the tears of Deanna's cheeks, all the while whispering softly. Unnoticed by either woman, Kate Pulaski withdrew herself from the room, giving the two friends privacy in their reunion.

The past weeks she had often thought back about her year onboard the Enterprise. It had been nothing she’d expected, all the rumors about the closeness of the Senior Staff had been true and they were indeed the finest of the Fleet. Her first day had been quite hectic and had proven to be one of the most challenging, frightening as well as interesting in her career.

She’d been onboard for barely ten minutes when a young woman walked into Sickbay, she saw her hesitate at the entrance and when she closed her eyes started to walk up to her.

“Can I help you?” Her head snapped up and wide black eyes stared back at her. Noting the definitive Betazoid features Kate concluded this young woman had to be the Ship’s Counselor. She hadn’t really spent much time reading personnel files of the Senior Staff, basically all she knew were their names and features. Doctor Crusher had been reluctant to submit their medical records through subspace, therefore she had yet to study them. She studied the Counselor’s features; she had expected her to look a little more…older. Deanna Troi was already a renowned psychologist, but the woman in front of her looked as if she had barely finished the Academy.

“I need to speak Doctor Crusher.” She answered, surprising Kate by seemingly not knowing Beverly Crusher had left. Her surprise however turned into concern when the Betazoid darted past her and skittishly looked around. “Doctor Crusher isn’t here.”

The woman stopped dead in her tracks and slowly turned around, her face drawn in shame. “Oh god,” she whispered, pressing two fingers against her lips, “you must be Doctor Pulaski, how foolish of me.” Her cheeks reddened with shame, but again she surprised Kate with how easy she was able to cut the somewhat awkward moment short. “I need some advice, would you accompany me to Ten-Forward?” ‘Damn,’ she thought to herself, ‘I hope she doesn’t keep surprising me like this.’

A secretive smile surface as Pulaski recalled how Deanna Troi had done exactly that. Just when she was sure she could predict Deanna’s reaction to a situation she turned out to be completely wrong. The only person she had ever come close to understanding and predicting was Picard. Mainly due to the fact he made sure that everyone onboard his vessel knew where they stood and what he expected of them. Over the span of that year she’d come to know the Senior Staff very well, but albeit building a strong friendship with Troi the Betazoid remained as illusive as ever. Hearing the door behind her open she turned around and locked her eyes on those of her college. “She’s sleeping.” Sighing deeply Beverly sat down in her chair as gracefully as she could manage at six months pregnant.

The two doctors looked at each other for a -long- time and then both simultaneously laughed. “She’s back and she’s going to be fine.”

A few meters away in the adjoining room Deanna’s peaceful sleep wasn’t as peaceful as either Doctor believed.

He was everywhere, no matter how hard she ran or where she ran to; she always ended up in his arms. And he was always in her mind. The drugs he’d given her had left her open and vulnerable to his thoughts and emotions, allowed him to control her but in such a manner that she was perfectly aware of what was happening. She could feel everything he did to her and had to watch as he assaulted her, unable to control her own body and thus unable to fight his intrusion.

For any being, being treated the way he treated her was humiliating. But for a telepath/ empath to be ripped of her mental abilities was the worse thing that could happen. Without her shields she wasn’t only vulnerable to him, but also to the emotions and thoughts of all people around her. He could make her do anything he wanted, if not by controlling her mind then by other means and for as long as those drugs had their hold on her there wasn’t anything she could do, but to endure his actions and wait until he would make a mistake. And for ever there were those blue eyes watching her every movement and hearing her every thought.

Piercing blue eyes, filled with so much hatred and lust, bore into her soul and made her shiver in horror.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Remembrance

Deanna Troi paced in the small confines of her personal room in Sickbay. Her hands were clasped behind her back and her frustration could clearly be seen on her face. She'd been back to her feet for nearly a week now, but besides the two daily visits to the ship's physical rehabilitation centre she'd been locked up in her almost claustrophobic small room. She was feeling like a caged animal, separated from freedom only by a thin wall.

Her rational mind knew perfectly well that Beverly and Kate were right in keeping her in the room; she wasn't able to remember anything about her stay on the Hydra, no matter how hard she tried --or didn't try-- she simply couldn't remember. She could easily speculate based on the list of injuries the doctors had given her, but she needed to remember to be able to deal with it otherwise those speculations would haunt her for the rest of her life.

And then there were of course the psychic changes in her she was still adapting to, a task not made easier by the fact she hadn't had the time to adapt fully to the previous changes she'd undergone. Out of caution her abilities were constantly muted by inhibitors to allow her mental defenses time to adapt as well. Even just thinking about the impact these new powers had on her future made her shudder.


Whistling Riker walked through the corridors of the Enterprise on his way to Sickbay. Deanna had been back on the ship for a month now and finally the doctors had agreed to let him see her. He'd seen her already of course, but only when she was under sedation or asleep.

Will had to strain himself not to run to the ship's medical facility and at the same time it couldn't take him long enough. He had absolutely no idea how Deanna would react. He'd read the reports on her captivity and could only imagine the hell she'd been through. Her phychical injuries were extensive and the vast amount of drugs in her system had caused severe brain damage. After having spend two weeks in coma and one and a half additional week under constant sedation Troi's injuries had healed.

He entered Sickbay and passed a very pregnant Doctor Crusher and Doctor Pulaski. Beverly winked encouragingly and watched as he hit the panel that opened the door to Deanna's private room. The window allowed the physicians to watch the reunion of Riker and Troi...


Deanna heard the door open and tried to recall who was entering. Beverly had informed her the night before that someone would come visit her but strangely she couldn't recall who. A little voice inside her head warned her not to turn around, *begged* her not to. But she shove it aside, telling herself she was safe. Slowly she turned around and found herself staring into a pair of sky-blue eyes.

And then she remembered. Fear gripped around her heart and a loud terrified scream left her throat. Her senses went numb and she backed away from those eyes. The eyes that had haunted her, tortutered her and killed because of her.

"Please, no! Please, not again." Tears of pain and fear filled her eyes and blurred her vision. She closed her eyes, trying to shake the image of those blue eyes off her. 'It's a dream. It's just a dream! I'm on the Enterprise now, I'm safe. Thomas is dead. He's DEAD!' The assurances didn't calm her though.

Something blocked her way out. Her back slammed into something solid and cold, something that wouldn't budge. Her hands searched frantically for a way out. 'I have to get away!' The blue eyes came closer.

"Not again. Gods not again!" Oblivious to her own crying and the voice that came with the piercing blue eyes she shove along the wall, getting as far away from the eyes as she could.

A thousands hands fondled her body, some rough, some tender but all of them fast and demanding.

~There's no escape Imzadi. You're mine and mine alone.~ The fear was overwhelming, the fear and the memories. The voice in her head and those eyes, always those blue eyes.

Her shoulder hit a second wall, she was cornered. No where to hide, no where to run. No matter where she looked two blue eyes were staring back at her. There was no door. No furniture of any kind. Only those eyes. Those cold hateful eyes. The eyes and the hands. Hands that stroke her, hit her. Hands that strangled her and nails that scratched her skin. A mouth that bit and spit. That sucked her blood.

Running away was futile. In the end they always caught up with her. No where to run, no where to hide. Just them. Them and the walls. The walls and the chains. No way to get out, no way to make those eyes disappear.

She couldn't move, her body caught up in the fear of her mind, caught in the chains that held her against the wall. Caught in those hateful blue eyes.

~Got you~

*  *  *

Riker froze when he heard Deanna's scream, when he saw the terror in her eyes, the fear for him. She backed away from him, creating as much distance between them as she could. Acting on instinct Will advanced towards her and tried to lock his eyes on hers, hoping they could bring her out the nightmare she was trapped in.

"Shh...Deanna. You're on the Enterprise, they can't hurt you." His whispers didn't penetrate the wall of fear around her. Only his eyes did.

He was close now, close enough to reach out and pulls her in his arms. Oblivious to Kate's warning to back away from Troi he stretched his arm, taking another step when suddenly he heard something in his mind.

~Got you~

The coldness and hatred in the voice made him shudder involuntarily. The voice was alien and yet familiar, but not as familiar as the one that responded.


The strength and terror behind her normally musical voice made him take two steps back. Her wide black eyes flashed with rage and the sudden change in them took his breath away.

In a fraction of an instant had her soulful black eyes turned bright green surrounded by the blackness that seconds ago had colored her irises.

Vaguely he heard Kate whisper behind him. Stray words penetrated his mind.

"No...not him...friends...Enterprise...safe." He wanted to turn around and ask her what she meant but he couldn't break the hold of her eyes on his. Hoarsely he whispered her name, trying to break through her walls.

~No where to run, no where to hide~

Riker was thrown backwards, he flew over the head of the doctor and landed hard against the window at the far end of the room. His body went limp at the impact.

Without saying a word or turning around Pulaski motioned the nurses present to get the unconscious Riker out the room where he would be tended to by Beverly and ordered the security personal in the room to back away.

The three officers exchanged looks not sure whether they could leave the woman alone with the dangerous Betazoid.

A second impatient gesture from their superior made them back away. Out of the corner of her eye Kate saw the retreat of the officers carrying an unconscious Will. She had known Deanna's power had grown considerably but she hadn't expected the Betazoid to make use of it with such little provocation. After all, she had shown no hostile behavior towards the captain.

Noticing her own ragged breathing she focused on slowing it and projecting calm and peace. It took what seemed like decades before the fury in Troi's green eyes died, but it did and gradually her eyes turned back to normal. The fear that had consumed the woman minutes before was however still very much present. Deanna had sagged onto the floor and had drawn her knees to her chin, embracing them with her slender arms and rocking back and forth.

"Please, not again...not again." The Doctor's heart ached for the woman she considered her sister. The one who had been through so much pain and fear in the past months she couldn't help but wonder how she had survived.

"Dea? Deanna, listen to me. You're on the Enterprise, nobody is going to hurt you here." The bewildered look in Troi's eyes seemed to diminish a little, but Kate continue whispering. "You're safe here. You're home." The doctor felt her muscles relax under her hands.

"But I...I *saw* them. He was there." The distraught Betazoid began to shake lightly as she relived some of the horrors she had repressed.

Hands were groping her body, they seemed to be everywhere. The roughness shafed her skin and the strength with which he held her caused her skin to bruise. Her captor threw her roughly onto the bed and almost simultaneous ripped off what was left of her dress. She closed her eyes as he climbed on top of her, but the two blue eyes wouldn't go away. They seemed to reach even the darkest recesses of her mind.

~Open your eyes Imzadi~ the voice whispered into her mind. His irritation of her resistance flooded into her mind as he spoke again. ~Open your eyes or I shall kill another one.~ Being only too aware of the seriousness of his thread she obeyed and forced herself to look at him. Faintly she wondered what could've turned this man in such a monster. The thoughts soon left her however when he draw his knife and began to caress her body with it. Goosebumps emerging everywhere where the blade touched her.

~Someday Imzadi, you will pleasure me without resistance~ he promised her as he discarded his trousers.

The sensation of being shaken back and forth at last began to replace her newly returned memories. "Deanna! Snap out of it!" With all the force she could muster Kate shook her patient one more time as she yelled at the top of her lungs. With a startled jerk of her head Deanna's eyes lost the glassiness that had overcome them as she looked into her trusted friend's face and although everything she had experienced onboard the Hydra now rushed back into her conscious mind she managed to keep control of herself.

Having had more than enough experience with patients suffering from traumatic memory loss Doctor Pulaski recognized the symptoms of resurfacing memory. Although a part of her had hoped Deanna would never have to remember, she knew from a professional point of view it was better for her patient. Now Deanna could truly begin to heal.


It took Deanna nearly six hours to process her memories and during those hours she hardly moved, her eyes transfixed on the wall across her and her senses completely unaware of the constant presence of Kate Pulaski. Despite the insistence of Crusher, Kate had refused to leave, knowing it would be hell for Beverly to have to sit on the floor for a longer period and that Deanna shouldn't be distracted.

Finally Troi managed to tuck her re-obtained memories away for the time being and focus on the real world. She slowly crept to her feet, not aware of her companion until she stood fully erect and turned to her side. "Kate."

"Welcome back among the living." The doctor smiled ruefully as she guided her patient to her bed. "How do you feel." Deanna snickered in response and began to undress herself. "How long did it take me?"

"Oh, about six hours." In shock Troi swirled around, just as her nightgown slid down her body and fell in place. "Six hours?! That's too long!" Understanding the reason of the Counselor's concern Pulaski placed a reassuring hand on her arm and explained why it had taken Deana's mind that amount of time to process the resurfaced memories.

"So you're positive this was a one time thing? That I remember everything now?" Kate nodded solemnly and watched Deanna crawl underneath the covers. "Well, if you say so." Although there were several questions burning in her mind the doctor knew better than to push Deanna was answers. She was well aware of the Counselor's habit to wait dealing with issue's until she chose to and when she did, she would certainly inform her doctors.

Wishing her patient goodnight doctor Pulaski left the room and called for the nurse on duty, whom she ordered to keep a close look on Troi's dream pattern for she expected her to have some intense nightmares. The next evening at earliest she and Beverly would try to talk to Deanna, but until then she could only wish her patient and friend the strength to deal with her memories.


Chapter Thirty: Living the Nightmare

Deanna was sitting against the wall, her knees drawn up against her
chest. Her mind was trying to cope with the rediscovered memories
from the night before, but that task proved to be a great deal more
difficult than she had anticipated. With each thing she seemed to
remember, two at least as horrific memories would cast a cloud of
fear over her rationale. It seemed as if the hands she remembered
never stopped groping, the eyes never stopped looking and the voice
never stopped whispering.

Her mind was caught up in a feedback loop since she had mistakenly
let her barriers down. Unwillingly she experienced everything over
and over again. The anger and the fear, the pain and the terror. She
had once so fiercely believed in the love she shared with
Will/Thomas, but if he really loved her, how could he have done all
those horrific things to her? She felt as if entire body was covered
in dirt and never before had she felt so violated, so humiliated.
Not when Jellico's vile mind had radiated thoughts of lust and
possession, not even when Jev had assaulted her.

"Dea? Are you all right?" She opened her eyes to find Beverly
hovering above her, concern shining brightly in her blue eyes. "A
shower would be appreciated" she whispered quietly. The doctor
nodded her understanding and took her patient's hand to guide her to
the shower.

Troi relished in the soft touch of the warm water on her skin, she
envisioned the dirt sliding down her body until all of it had
disappeared and remained standing to be absolutely sure nothing was
left behind. In her mind she used gallons of soap and shampoo and
she kept scrubbing and scrubbing, unaware of the tears rolling down
her face.

She remained standing in the shower until her legs no longer seemed
to be able to carry her and then lowered herself to the floor and
began to cry. All the anguish wanted to be released simultaneous and
huge lumps seemed to be stuck in her throat. With her face buried in
her hands she could do nothing but sob for a long time until finally
the lumps had dissolved and long, loud cries emerged from deep in
her soul.

Her psyche seemed to shudder when she remembered how she had managed
to break free, the horrific deeds *she* had committed to escape his
grasp. How could she have killed? It didn't matter to her that she
had killed in self-defense, or that he had deserved to die; -she- -
had- -killed- and she would *never* be able to forgive herself for

Laying on her couch, Deanna stared out her window at the stars
passing by. The Enterprise was enroute to a distant stellar system
to begin negotiations with the indigenous habitants of the main
planet. The tension aboard the ship was high, due to the fact they
were traveling closely along the boarder of the Neutral Zone.

Her mind traveled back to her time aboard the Maquis vessel, now
over a month ago. Faces of some of the people she had met came into
vision outside the ship. Nothing more than her own imagination, she
knew, but disturbing nonetheless. She had returned to active duty
three days before, having received a clean bill of health from her
doctors and having convinced Picard that she was psychologically
able to start counseling again.

And although sometimes she felt a pang of regret at giving up her
position as XO she was also happy to return to full-time counseling
again. Engrossing herself in other people's problems had always been
a means of escape to her and one of the positive things about
loosing her staff due to a smaller crew compliment was that her
argument that other's needed counseling held more power now.

There was no longer someone who could take over her patients. The
counselor who had come onboard when she had been kidnapped had
resigned a week earlier; he was getting married and his fiancée had
demanded him to return to his planet. That, together with her rank,
had been the catalyst in returning to active duty despite the
reluctance and concern of her friends.

She had fought tooth and nail to prevent her mother coming aboard
and had been guiltily pleased when Lwaxana was forced to stay home
because Barin had attracted a highly contagious and potentially
lethal disease. By the time Barin had healed the Enterprise was over
two months traveling away from Betazed and Troi had managed to
convince her mother that she was really all right and would come to
Betazed the first chance she had.

She really was all right, she told herself. As long as she was on
duty she was all right. Once off duty and alone she would think too
much and spend her time hating herself and Thomas Riker. What little
sleep she got was occupied with nightmares based on her memories,
but she wouldn't allow anyone to see that side of her. If she'd be
forced to take a leave of absence she would loose herself in those
memories, she was sure.

Thomas Riker entered his quarters with a satisfied smirk on his
face, tonight he would continue his training of his Imzadi and he
was looking very much forward to ravishing her beautiful body.
Deanna was laying on his bed, her wrists tied to the bedposts, just
like they had been for the past week. But Thomas had become bored by
her submissive attitude and had thought of something to make their
time together a little more...interesting.

"Imzadi!" He called, knowing full well she wouldn't react, "there's
someone I'd like you to meet." An evil smile curled around his lips
as he saw her eyes moved underneath her eyelashes. His hand reached
back to pull the young woman he'd brought along forward to the
bed. "Deanna darling, say hello to Miss Carola. He pushed the woman
onto the bed, her gasp of surprise causing the object of his desire
to open her eyes.

Deanna's black eyes were wide with confusion and fear and they
darted from Carola to Thomas and back. What was he up to? Why had he
brought the woman with him? "Carola, be a doll and go stand against
that wall?" Thomas pointed, his voice sounding too sweet. As soon as
Carola's body hit the wall a metal clasp wound itself around her
waist and pinned her against the wall.

"What are you doing?!" She yelled, her fear adding to Deanna's
trepidation. "Nothing my dear, nothing," he said
reassuringly. "Unless Deanna here doesn't cooperate," He added, his
voice turning evil again.

"What do you want me to do?" Deanna asked quietly. Her question drew
Thomas closer and he sat down next to her; one hand stroking her
face, the other sliding up from her knee to her inner
thigh. "Nothing bad, Love. I want you to seduce me." He laughed at
the revulsion coursing through her and began to untie her wrists.

"And if I don't?"

"Then Carola here is dead."

Tears streamed down Deanna's face as she remembered that particular
night. She'd used all her resources to seduce Thomas and all he had
done was laugh at the emotions he sensed from her through the Imzadi
bond. And when eventually she had him fully aroused and believed he
wouldn't harm Carola, he'd slid the girl's throat as he climaxed.
Just for fun.

Repulsed by the sight of her dinner, Troi pushed her plate to the
other end of the table and buried her face in her hands. Was she
ever going to forget the memories? Have peace?

It was right at that moment that the chimes of the door rang through
the air. "Come in" she called and the door opened to reveal..."NO"
she gasped and staggered from her chair.

"Computer, lights." A baritone voice called, the agitation and
frustration of its owner rippling through Troi's senses. "You can't
avoid me forever Deanna." 'No! No, that's not Thomas, it's Will.
Will!' But knowing and knowing were two different things. Riker
advanced towards her, his mouth set in a thin line under his
beard. "I think we need to talk Deanna."

"Will, I'd rather not, not tonight." Her voice carried the calm she
absolutely didn't feel, but served only to raise the anger inside
Will Riker and he took another step towards her, stepping into her
personal space. Although Troi desperately wanted to find the courage
to hold her position, she failed and backed away.

"Damn it Dea! Talk to me!" His frustration raged through her senses.
She had been avoiding him ever since she'd been back on board and he
hated her for it. Will took another step; Deanna took two and found
herself backed against the wall. "You've been back for a month and a
half, back on duty, all reports say you're healed and back to
normal," his voice and emotions turned a little more malevolent with
each word so it seemed, or was she being pulled back into her
memories? "So why don't you act *fine*?!"

"Will, please, leave." Deanna tensed her muscles in an attempt to
prevent herself from trembling as Riker leaned forward and brought
his face within an inch of her own. His hot breath viciously raked
across her face. Shivers ran up and down her spine and the air he
exhaled seemed to burn her skin.

Riker didn't hear the fear in her voice, nor did he see the shivers
that traveled through her body. His own emotions so high he couldn't
recognize the telling signs of fear on the ship's counselor's face.
All he had wanted to do since returning to the Enterprise was
closing his Imzadi in his arms, telling her how he felt and that he
loved her. However, Deanna seemed to have made a second carrier of
avoiding him. She seemed to have no problem interacting with Geordi,
or Picard, or anyone else.

Without thinking he raised his hand to her face --ignoring her plea
to stop-- and traced her cheek and jaw. "You're so beautiful" he
whispered, intoxicated by her close proximity.

Tears formed in her eyes. 'This can't be happening!' The fear and
horror within her was overwhelming, blocking out all rational
thinking and causing her 'training', as Thomas used to call it, to
kick back in. 'What is he going to do this time?' The anger and
desire flowing from Riker terrified her; she had to be good to him,
make his anger go away.

She brought a trembling hand up to the side of his face and before
he realized what he was doing he rubbed his cheek against her soft
palm. "I missed you."

"I- I missed you too" she returned "I'm so sorry" perhaps if she
would beg for forgiveness he wouldn't hit her? "I won't do it
again." Deanna closed her eyes in an attempt to block out the
blueness of his eyes and softly brushed her lips against his. A fire
was instantly ignited within Will and he violently attacked her
mouth, forcing her mouth open. He didn't care that her head snapped
back against the wall, he didn't feel her body go ridged and he paid
no attention to the tears that fell down her cheeks.

'This is it. There will be no escape. Ever.' And she was back
onboard the Hydra, back in Riker's room with a young female tied
against the wall, awaiting her faith as Deanna tried to persuade
Thomas to let the girl go. Her mind went numb as she returned the
kiss and equaled his ferocity. Her hands slid down his torso. If she
could capture his complete attention, if she could make him forget,
maybe then he wouldn't hurt the girl.


"Let me please you" she murmured, attacking his mouth anew as her
hands worked the fastener of his trousers.

Dumbfounded Riker stared at her, his body ached to have her, but her
behavior worried him. Her eyes were blank, devoid of any emotion. He
gasped as she yanked his trousers down and sank to her knees. In
panic he roughly grabbed her shoulders and yanked her upwards and
pushed her against the wall. "What the *hell* are you doing?!" He
yelled in shock.

Deanna approached him again, no fear apparent on her face even
though it was all her mind knew. "Please" she whispered and
sensually slid her hands up his chest and around his neck "I'll do
anything you wish me to."

'This isn't right!' he realized, but returned her kisses
helplessly 'what is she doing?' Her hands felt so good as they
traced his skin, her lips were so soft and full. "You're so strong"
she told him in what he recognized as her bedroom voice and he
couldn't help but lift his hands to skim her breasts

He finally snapped out the heat of her advances when he felt her
recoil from the touch of his hands. She didn't stop her
ministrations however and Will knew he had to stop her before he was
too far gone. In a last attempt to stop her he grabbed her hands and
pinned them against the wall.

Troi looked at him from under her long eye-lashes, enticingly
tracing her lips with the tip of her tongue, beckoning him to come
to her with her eyes. "Want to play it rough today, Thomas?"

"Damn it Dea! Will you stop--" his voice trailed off as her last
word penetrated his mind. "Thomas?!"

That explained everything. Why she had avoided him, why Beverly had
kept him away from her. But he couldn't believe Thomas would ever
hurt Deanna. He knew how much he loved her, for he had loved her the
same way.

Troi returned to her advances and in a mindless flare of anger meant
for Thomas Will grabbed her by the upper arms and threw her away
from him. Horrified he stared at her as she landed against the side
of her couch, never making a single sound. His anger rose; at Thomas
for what he did to her. At himself for forcing himself on her and
even at her, for not telling him, for not fighting. This wasn't
good! His hands itched to throw something, or hurt someone. He had
to get away from her before he hurt her again.

Deanna watched silently as Thomas transformed back into Will before
her eyes and swiftly left her quarters. Anger, guilt and sorrow
flowed into her mind. A sob escaped her, and another, and another.

Would she ever be free?


~Chapter Thirty-One: Trials~

Seething with anger Riker strode through the corridors, not even
noticing how other officers would jump aside at his approach. His
hands were balled into fists and the only reason he hadn't smashed
them against something --or someone-- was that he had a definite
purpose in mind.

The knowledge that Thomas, his duplicate, was responsible for the
hell Deanna had been through was unimaginable! If his so-called
brother was anything like himself he couldn't have hurt Deanna in a
thousand years! And yet it seemed he had.

If Thomas could hurt her so, did that mean he could too? And if he
could and Deanna knew that, how was she ever going to trust him
again? How could she look at him and not see Thomas? The scene
earlier in her quarters, and the one back in Sickbay only proved she
couldn't discern him from his replica. Was this Thomas' revenge? 'If
I can't have her, you can't have her either'?

Arrived at his destination he slammed the palm of his hand against
the computer-panel next to the grey doors and stormed inside once
they opened. Without paying any attention to his surroundings he
headed for the blur of copper-red hair. "Why the *hell* didn't you
tell me?!"

Beverly Picard jumped at the ire in her voice, but before she could
react in any other way her husband had leaped forward and now stood
between her and Riker. Jean-Luc might not have been as tall as Will,
but his entire stance shouted defense; he'd gone cold and he only
did that when he was as angry as he could be.

"You knew!" He shouted again, this time addressing the
captain. "Just how long were you going to keep this from me?!" Jean-
Luc didn't move when the tall commander approached him and Beverly
caught a slight twinge in his jaw, she braced herself against the
back of the couch, fully expecting a yelling match to follow.

"I suggest you calm yourself -commander-" her husband said quietly,
so calm it was frightening "keep your distance from my wife" she
loved it when he got all protective "and then tell us what the devil
you're talking about."

Will too noticed he'd pushed his superior officer to his limit and
took a step back, his anger not fading. "How long," he spoke through
clenched teeth "have you known it was Thomas?" He was addressing her
again and when she opened her mouth to ask him how he'd found out
horror flooded through her.

"Will, where is Deanna?"

"I left her in her quarters. Now answer me!"

But she didn't answer, not when she pushed herself up from her
comfortable position and not when she dashed past the men into the
corridor. "Asshole" she hissed under her breath.

"You know, I thought I'd seen it all from you, but I have to
congratulate you Will, you've reached a new low." Picard said calmly
and then took off after his wife, leaving Riker behind to
contemplate on his words.

Jean-Luc caught up with his wife before she'd reached the
Counselor's quarters, she really couldn't walk that fast, carrying
their child inside her. They found Deanna huddling in a corner of
her living room, knees drawn his against her chest and slowly
rocking back and forth.

In Beverly's eyes he caught the beginnings of sympathic tears and
saw her struggle to fight her desire to lower herself onto the
floor. He knew that this was the point where he had to take over,
since it would be hell for his wife to sit down on the floor, no
matter how badly she wanted to.

As he lowered himself next to the huddled form of Troi he wasn't
entirely at ease with his task, but at the same time he wasn't
feeling as awkward as he would have a year ago. He a gentle hand on
her shoulder; exerting just enough pressure to being noticed and was
astound to find her body trembling beneath his grasp. "Deanna?" He
tried to coax her into acknowledging their presence in the very
least and tightened his embrace.

The half-Betazoid kept trembling; her muscles so tense they felt
like duranium. "She's closed herself completely" his wife offered
wearily, tears already rolling down her face.

"Counselor." He didn't know what to do, how far he could go without
pushing her completely over the egde. "Deanna." He tried again, a
little more forceful this time. There was still no reaction and he
looked up at his wife who stood looming over them, tears rolling
unchecked down her features. She sobbed quietly, the little sounds
quickly transforming into longer and louder wails. "No"

Something felt wrong Jean-Luc realized. As distressing at Troi's
behavior was Beverly shouldn't react this intense. He watched her as
she started to back away, scared by an invisible ghost. "No! You
can't hurt me!" She closed her eyes and on her face he could she the
battle raging within her. "You CAN'T!!!" Her scream tore at his
heart, only he was unable to find the person who scared her
so. "You're DEAD you cannot hurt me!!!"

Then he felt it; fear trickling into his mind. It was like a soft
summer rain, tiny little drops of fear falling down into his mind
but as they encountered no resistance, the drops grew and fell down
harder. The fear was unlike anything he'd ever felt before, it
intruded every pore in his skin, every cell in his body. He could
feel the foreign emotions crawling with him like maggots in a
carcass. As intense as the emotions were, they had not yet merged
with his own, giving him an edge only empaths had. He could study
the emotions from a relatively objective point of view, even though
they co-existed with his in his own mind.

Curiosity coaxed him to observe and at the same time made it easier
to remind himself that these feelings were not his own. And so he
studied them; part of him frightened by the intimate contact,
another part soaring in the exploration.

So many feelings were crawling around in his head that he didn't
know –how- to feel, but he knew there was one thing he shouldn't
feel and that was panic. There was no logical reason for him to feel
panicked, nothing traumatic had happened to him recently, he wasn't
in a dangerous situation; he simply shouldn't feel the way he felt.
It was as if the emotions weren't even his own.

Something was wrong. He had to get away from this place. Now! Before
they caught him! Before they would hurt him! "Quick! Get to your
feet and RUN!!!" Someone was yelling at him, urging him on, coaxing
him to move, but he couldn't see anything. "Hurry! You have to get
away! Before he kills you! GET AWAY!!!" He scurried backwards, his
heart hammering even faster when he found himself backed up against
something soft but unyielding. His legs refused to carry him, he
couldn't move, couldn't scream, couldn't breath. "Move!!!"

`This is wrong. I have to stay calm! Breath slowly, there's nothing
that can hurt me. I am myself. I am Jean-Luc Picard and I am –not-
scared.' The captain kept repeating the mantra over and over again,
forcing himself to remember and to fight. "Please! Get away from
him! You have to try and fight him, you can't let him win!" `I am
captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Flagship The Enterprise. I
am Jean-Luc. I am married to…I am married to…Beverly! Beverly
Crusher, my wife…the mother of my child.'

His eyes shot open and he could see again. The blue eyes haunting
him had disappeared, replaced by the familiar sight of his ship's
design. Beats of sweat were rolling down his face, running in
streams along his spine. His artificial heart beating like crazy in
response to the fear and panic that he felt.

Next to him a woman, dark hair, sobbing, familiar, Deanna. Across
the room another woman, also sobbing and familiar, red hair,
pregnant, "Beverly!" His feet were still unwilling to carry him and
so he had to crawl over to her. He wrapped him arms around her
shaking form. He didn't know what was happening, but they had to get
away. The emotions; the panic and the fear, they were not his and
yet he felt them. He had to remember they were not his, or they
would overwhelm him and never let go.

He had to get away, but how, if he could not walk? He had to get
Beverly to Sickbay; stress wasn't good for the baby, he had to get
them to Sickbay!


He could hail Sickbay! The second he realized that, his hand flew up
to his commbadge "Picard to Sickbay, medical emergency in Counselor
Troi's quarters!"

<On our way Captain> They would be here soon, good. They had to get
away from the emotions. The emotions that were not theirs. He had to
fight them, gain control before the crew found him.

What was causing this? The emotions, why did he feel them? Whose
were they? He looked around the room, trying to see who his
offenders were but all he saw was Deanna…

Of course!

Just then the doors slid open and a medical team hurried in. It
wouldn't be log before they would start to feel it too, he
figured. "Get the Doctor and take her to Sickbay." He ordered,
finally able to stand up.

"But sir," a young lieutenant objected, already walking over to the

"No! I will explain later, but we must leave her now!" He hated the
edge to his voice and the doubt he saw crossing the medical
officers' faces, but he knew he was right and he still was their
Captain so they had no choice but to follow his orders. "Move it!"

Albeit hesitantly, two of the officers picked up his wife and laid
her on the hoverbed and began to move her out of the cabin.
Reluctantly he offered the arm the third medical officer offered him
and they followed the others into the corridor. After a few steps –
each becoming easier than the previous—Jean-Luc found himself face
to face with Will Riker. His second officer looked utterly concerned
and confused, but he could not be bothered with him right now. "Stay
away from her Commander." Was all he said as he passed by the blue-
eyed man.

Throwing one last glance at Troi's quarters, Riker obeyed and
followed his Captain to Sickbay where they were greeted by Kate
Pulaski. "What happened?" She quickly took Beverly's vital signs as
well as the baby's and ordered Riker out of the room. When he didn't
comply she shot him a cold glare and soon a nurse was more or less
dragging him away.

Jean-Luc held tightly onto his wife's hand, relieved to see she was
quickly calming down. "You're both fine," Kate said with a smile "I
can only detect an elevation in the adrenaline levels, but that will
pass in about ten minutes. The baby suffered no ill effect. So what

"I'm not sure." Beverly whispered in a trembling voice, looking at
her husband for reassurance.

Picard took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. "I think Deanna
projected her emotions on us…almost as a defense mechanism."

"Why would she do that?"

"Commander Riker…he came to us after having been with Deanna…he knew
about Thomas."

"But Deanna said she wouldn't tell h…" Pulaski's voice trailed off
as she realized what must've happened. Beverly sat up and nodded at
the other doctor's unspoken diagnosis. "If she mistook Will for
Thomas the emotional stress must have been tremendous…"

"…And might have affected the baby." The redhead finished. "Someone
needs to check on her, but make sure to give them an inhibitor to
prevent her from projecting again."

"The baby?" The two doctors shared a glance, then nodded almost
imperceptibly. Impatiently Picard waited for an explanation; keeping
his eyes trained on his wife as Kate slipped out of the room. "What

"Jean-Luc…Deanna's pregnant. We haven't told her yet, because we
thought it would be best to allow her time to deal with what
happened before…"

There hadn't been many times in his life when Jean-Luc Picard found
himself stunned into silence, but this was definitely one of them
and he doubted he would ever find the words.

"There's more" Beverly continued mournfully "the examinations show
evidence that she had an abortion. I don't think she even knows
about it…" She bit her lower lip to stop it from trembling, but
failed. Her vision blurred by tears she reached out to her husband
and clung to him as if hanging on for dear life. "I don't know how
to tell her…oh Jean-Luc!" Tears cascaded down onto his clothes
soaking the material to his skin within rapidly passing minutes and
he felt his own eyes watering as well. His mind numb with the new
information and the complications it brought along.

<Bridge to Captain Picard, incoming message from Admiral Necheyev.>
Startled the married couple tightened their hugs for a scarce
second, than released each other and wiped their tears away. "Patch
it through to Doctor Crusher's office." The Captain ordered as soon
as he had hit his commbadge.

<Aye Sir>

Because words still eluded him --where there any words for a
situation like this? He wondered sadly—he tenderly kissed his wife's
forehead and left for the office.

Beverly watched him go and once again felt tears looming in her
eyes. Had she done the right thing in confiding in him? She knew
Kate thought so, but she wasn't quite convinced yet. Her friend had
gone through so much pain that she would do anything to keep her
from hurting more; even if that included never telling Deanna about
the abortion, and if it were possible, she wouldn't even tell her
about the child. Ethics however prevented her from doing either and
forced upon her the difficult task of telling Deanna about the child
growing inside her, as well as the child she had lost.

Tears fell again as she tried to imagine how Troi would react.
Beverly rubbed her belly and silently thanked whoever was listening
that her baby was created out of love. She heard the door opening
and looked up to see her husband. Fright gripped her throat when she
saw the blank and defeated look on his face; his eyes were dull and
seemed to stare right through her. "Jean-Luc? What did the Admiral

He opened his mouth to speak, but not a sound came out. He shook his
head almost lethargically but could not bring himself to take
another step towards his wife.

"Jean-Luc?" Her voice now held an urgency brought on by fear and she
stood up to go to him and wrap her arms around him.

"I…tried…failed." Picard took a deep breath and closed his eyes,
burying his face in Beverly's red hair. "They're going to court
martial her."


Chapter Thirty Two: Revelations pt I

In the darkness of the Enterprise's third Observation Lounge,
Commander William Riker sat quietly at the head of the conference
table, trying to control, then release the emotions surging through
him but failing at both.

He had been, since early childhood, a man of deeds rather than words
and had always avoided talking about his inner feelings. Now
however, he could really do with a counselor. Only, as faith would
have it, the only one who he trusted was not available.

A sigh of frustration escaped him and was soon followed by the first
signs of tears when he couldn't drag his mind away of the state
Deanna had been in when she had returned to the Enterprise. The
medical reports he'd read, as few and vague as they were, still gave
enough facts to build a theory on…and it wasn't a pretty one

The mood in the main Observation Lounge was grave, brought on solely
by the grim set of the features of Captain Picard and his wife. The
Captain regarded the assembled officers for several long moments
while deciding on how best to inform his crew. "I received a
communiqué from Admiral Necheyev earlier. She recalled the
Enterprise to Derona III where Captain Troi will face charges of
treason in the first degree."

"WHAT?!" The exclamation was unanimous, the only one not vocalizing
his surprise was Data, but even he carried a shocked expression.

"If I may inquire Sir; on what bases?"

"The attacks on Starbases 24 and 25."

"But Sir; investigations to discover the grouping responsible were

Picard nodded at the Commander, pleased to see that his calm and
logical questions gave the rest of the staff something to focus
their attention on. "New evidence suggests that the Black Dragon was
responsible; Starfleet Command suspects they got the correct
frequency of the shield modulations from Captain Troi."

Will winced each time the Captain addressed Deanna as Captain, ever
since he'd found out about her promotion he had trouble believing
it. Now it was utterly unimportant of course, but still the rank
surprised him.

"But they *know* she can't be held responsible for that!" They were
the first words Beverly had spoken since being informed of her
friend's predicament and they drew agreeing nods from everyone

"Over a thousand people –officers and civilians—died during the
attacks; Command needs someone to put the blame on."

"This is ridiculous! If they want to blame someone, why don't they
blame Thomas and his fucked up gang!"

Despite agreeing with the words, Jean-Luc decided to ignore Riker's
forceful exclamation. "Data, I'd like you to do the research. Jaka,
please assist him. Kate, I'd like you to look into the effect of
each drug Deanna was administered as well as how her psychic powers
could have attributed to her `training'. We're going to cover this
from every angle possibly. You're dismissed."

Half the group stood up and demurely left the Observation Lounge;
their faces set in identical expressions of disbelief and shock. The
three remaining officers allowed the silence to settle in for a
short while, using the respite to gather their thoughts. "Captain, I
would like to volunteer to act as Captain Troi's advisor." Data
offered eagerly.

"I have already requested the Council's commission to defend her
myself, but I'm sure I could use the help Data." Jean-Luc informed
the android with a grateful nod.

"Of course Sir."

Now that Data too left the room, Picard and Riker were left alone
and the former was painfully reminded of the information his wife
had shared with him not thirty minutes earlier. "Commander?"

"Captain…how is Deanna?"

"Shaken and frightened."

Beverly Picard took a deep breath and rubbed her swollen belly as
the doors opened to reveal the interior of her best friend's
quarters. As she expected the only illumination came from the stars.
Deanna was sitting in a comfortable chair facing the viewports, her
hair down and a simple, loose, white dress covering her
body. "How're you holding up?"

The Counselor turned to face her wearing a worrying blank
expression. "All right." Beverly couldn't help but disagreeing and
by the brief change of expression she knew Troi had picked up on her

"I need to talk to you Dea." This was the dreaded talk and there was
no way she could postpone telling Deanna any more. She would
probably already have experienced some symptoms and she would most
likely start showing within the next two to three weeks at most.
Beverly led her friend to the couch and sat down next to her; their
knees touching. She took Troi's hand in her own, glancing at the
healed nails as she did so and tried to look into the black eyes
that were fixed on the surface of the purple/grey couch. "I have to
tell you something, and I wish I wouldn't, but there's no avoiding
it…" She allowed her voice to trail off and waited for Deanna to
look up, which she did within seconds. Swallowing one last time she
could all but whisper "You're pregnant."

Cold black eyes regarded her for a long moment, moving from one side
to the other as if reading thoughts and emotions like reading a
book. "No."

Surprised by the Betazoid's calm conviction, Beverly was at loss for
what to say. "You must have noticed the symptoms by now." She said
after a short pause.

Deanna shook her head almost sadly. "They're echoes, nothing more."
Mulling over her words the Doctor hit the conclusion that the empath
had known about the abortion all along. "Of course I have. Betazoid
women are aware of their child as soon as its brain begins to
develop. I was terrified that Thomas would find out; I couldn't
figure out if he'd allow me to have it and then raise the child to
his own standards, or kill it before it even saw the first rays of
light. Then one morning I woke up and felt the emptiness inside me
and I knew he'd chosen for abortion. No words have ever been uttered
about it."

She took a deep breath and forced her tears back, squarely looking
the weeping Doctor in her eyes. "So you see, the symptoms, the
feelings I feel now are just echoes from what I felt then. Postponed

"Oh Deanna!" Beverly enveloped her in a tight hug of sympathy, not
even noticing that her friend was as stiff as a board. "But, you are
pregnant, again." She said through her tears. "Instruments show
you're about seven weeks along."

Troi shrugged non-committal and stood up. "Oh."

"'Oh'? Is that all you have to say?" Mrs. Picard followed her to the
door. "'Oh'?"


"I can't believe you're so indifferent." Beverly almost huffed. "You
were always so compassionate… what happened to that woman?"

For long, frightening moments Deanna seemed to stare right through
her. "She disappeared when you left her behind with that monster.
I'd like to be alone now." She indicated to the now open doors, her
face still blank and composed.

"We did not leave you Dea!" Beverly exclaimed in shock. "We searched
for you for months!"

"You didn't search hard enough." Troi shot back. Her voice finally
betraying the anger she felt.

"How can you say that?! Every one worked twice as hard as ever
before! Geordi and Data were continually trying to adapt the sensors
to pick up the Hydra. Jaka worked herself to exhaustion trying to
modify a torpedo so that it would disable the shields with one hit
and Jean-Luc hardly slept! He'd spend night after day after night on
the Bridge doing everything in his power to get you back!"

Her unintentional outburst send Deanna's emotions reeling inside her
and it took her a moment to focus and think coherently again.
Beverly watched as her friend's shoulders slumped and her face fell
into resignation. "You're right." Deanna admitted flatly after a
short silence. "At least you did something to rescue me. I thank you
for that, honestly. But I'd like to be alone now."

Unsure what to make of her tone and words, Beverly obeyed to her
wishes and slowly backed out of the cabin. "You're not alone Dea,
please remember that." She whispered before the doors closed in
front of her face.

As soon as she was secluded from the view of her friend Deanna
dropped herself unceremoniously onto the floor and allowed any and
all emotions and thoughts to rage freely through her, not noticing
the doors sliding open once more and Beverly Picard returning to her
side. The Doctor's encouragements and gentle touches were lost on
her senses. There were no more tears left in her and she found
herself even unable to –think- about what consequences her pregnancy
would have and so she just lay curled up on the floor, staring
numbly at the grey wall until, eventually, she fell into a slight

In his quest to become more like his human companions Data had since
a couple of years developed the habit of watching the stars for at
least forty-seven and a half minutes per ship's day-cycle. Like his
friends he used the time to reflect on the day as well as look ahead
to the up-coming events. This time however, he found himself
thinking about the upcoming trial Deanna Troi was about to face.

Doctor Soong had created him to conform to Federation protocol.
Dozens of little subroutines both forced him to follow whatever
order he was given and yet at the same time gave him the freedom to
object to those orders, if, of course, he had valid reasons for
doing so.

Because of that, as well as because of his complete knowledge of
Federation and Starfleet law and protocol Data could understand, on
a purely intellectual level, why Starfleet had chosen to prosecute
Troi. But on a personal level and as a fellow Starfleet officer he
was dumbfounded. Starfleet council must be aware of the Counselor's
lack of control.

He hadn't seen much of Troi since she had been returned to the ship.
Aside from a few visits and encounters during shifts he had not seen
her and through observation he'd come to the conclusion that she
spend most of her time in solitude.

That was why he felt a measurement of surprise when he heard the
doors open behind him, soon followed by the distinct smell of the
Counselor. His surprise grew when she crossed the empty Lounge and
came to stand next to him. "Hello Data."

"Deanna." He greeted in return. "How are you?"

"I'm fine Data, thank you for asking." If it hadn't been her
appearance that gave her away -her skin paler, her eyes unfocused
and lifeless curls hanging down her back- her voice would surely
have. Data had often heard fellow crewmembers and friends describe
Troi's voice as melodious, musical and one ensign who had been
particularly enamored with her had described her voice as the
tinkling of Elfin bells as the welcome the sun at the crack of dawn.
Why the ensign had felt that that particular analogy fit was beyond
Data; after all, there had been no prove that Elves existed so how
could the ensign know how elfin bells sounded? "What do you see out
there Data?"

Her question surprised him in so far an android could be
surprised. "Stars."

"Besides the stars?"

"Two planets, seven mid-sized moons and four-hundred fifty-seven—" A
gentle laugh interrupted his rendition of what he saw and his
positronic net immediately pointed out that he hadn't heard the
Counselor laugh for a very long time.

"It's good to know that some things never change." Deanna remarked
with amusement lacing her voice. Data wanted to ask whether she was
referring to the continent of the space he saw or to his reaction,
but did neither and waited. "I meant what do you *see* out there
Data? Your future or your past? Or something else all together?"

He considered her question and came to the conclusion that it wasn't
very different from what Guinan had been so fond of while traveling
through a nebula. He'd often found her staring out the view ports
and naming the shapes of clouds as the Enterprise drifted through
them. He accessed his databanks and started to put together an
answer that would satisfy the Counselor when he realized that she
didn't care what exactly the answer was, as long as there was an

Keeping this new discovery in mind he answered her. "I believe I see
uncertainty. There are many things out there of which I have no
knowledge. I cannot know if they are benevolent or evil or even life-
threatening." The philosophical statement surprised even him, but
Troi seemed to be rather…proud?

"Does that scare you?"

"Counselor, I have no emotions, therefore I cannot be scared." At
her scolding look he amended, a little. "It worries me. I do not
wish to see my friends or hurt, nor do I wish my own demise. Yet I
am curios and eager to learn." He turned towards her and found her
looking up at him with what seemed to be an expectant gaze. "Your
tutelage has helped me understand the psyche of most humanoids and I
understand why the unknown would both thrill and scare them. But as
an android I do not have emotions, yet I share their opinion. Does
this mean that I do have emotions, or am I simply mimicking what I
believe to be human?"

Troi contemplated on his question for exactly twelve point eighty-
seven seconds. "I cannot answer that for you Data."

"Then what do you see in the stars Counselor?"

"I don't know anymore." Her voice dropped an octave. "I see fear and
doubt. The uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. I see—" She
stopped herself short. "The Captain told me you volunteered to help
him defend me. Thank you."

"You are most welcome. It was not your fault, therefore our chances
are good." Her unconvinced smile did not fool him, but he allowed
her to believe it did. "We are discussing our strategy at oh-nine-
hundred hours in the Captain's Ready Room. You can join us if you

"I'll think about it." She was about to say something more when the
doors opened to admit the First Officer.

Data, with his superior sight, could see how Troi tensed up as Riker
called her name. "Do you wish me to stay Deanna?"

"No, I will be all right. Sleep well Data."

He almost reminded her that he did not require sleep, but thought
the better of it. "Likewise Counselor."

She watched as the android left and exchanged greetings with Riker
on his way out. Data had long since been one of her `pet-projects'
as Beverly called it, simply because she enjoyed teaching him and
learning from him and often during times of emotional stress she
found it easier to be in his presence than anyone else's because she
couldn't sense him.

Wills love and concern sliced through whatever lingering thoughts
she might have had and forced her attention on him. Even now, after
what felt like thousands of unofficial counseling sessions with
Beverly and a handful with Jean-Luc, she still felt the gut
wrenching fear when looking at the man who used to be her best

She knew he hurt because of her, but she was unable to look past his
boyish grin and blue eyes and although Thomas and Will had grown to
be as different as night and day, they're minds still felt very much
alive. "Will."


Self-consciously her hand dropped to her abdomen as she remembered
Beverly's words of the night before. `You can't hide it for long Dea…
sooner or later he's going to find out and he will come up with his
own set of conclusions.' Lowering her eyes to the floor she took a
deep breath and prepared herself for a long and emotionally draining
night. "We need to talk."


~Chapter Thirty Three: Revelations pt II~


Apparently the few minutes she'd taken to compose herself in the
turbolift hadn't served their purpose. Jean-Luc saw right through
her façade. Amazing how attuned to her he'd become. Never in a
million years had she expected marriage to change him this
drastically. Privately speaking of course; on duty he was still very
much The Captain with whom she had served for over a decade.

She sat had sat down across from him, her favorite snacks were
stalled out on the table between them and she absentmindedly took a
delicacy from the nearest plate and took small bites. "She took it

The contradiction in her voice wasn't lost on him, but he didn't
prod and watched as she picked up a strawberry. Looking at him, his
eyes shining with love, worry and sympathy, she was suddenly
reminded of the times he'd come to her to thank her for saving his
life again. After the Borg and his ordeal with Madred especially.

A flicker of hope reached her eyes. Like no one else, Jean-Luc would
know what Troi was going through. The resignation that had been so
evident in her features earlier, had been present in Picard's too,
during his recoveries. He too had at one point simply floated along
with whatever was being done to him, not caring anymore. Between
long hours of counseling and affection, she and Deanna had helped
him heal.

Never had she been so aware of the necessity of a counselor aboard
as she had been during that time. Yes, she was quite sure she'd
found a solution to Deanna's refusal to seek counseling. "What is

"What?" She smiled innocently, for the moment enjoying the relaxed

"That flicker in your eyes. I've seen it before; I'm in trouble, am
I not?"

She shook her head and leaned back in her chair, chewing slowly on
the chocolate in her mouth. "No" she said after swallowing the last
bit, drawing the word out to get his full attention "I was just
thinking…Deanna isn't allowing herself to heal Jean-Luc. Oh she did
a good job by herself so far, but she's reached an impasse and she's
refusing to seek help."

"There's nothing we can do then Beverly. If she denies there's a
problem…" He trailed off, remembering a time when he too, had
refused help. Until Deanna had somehow maneuvered him into admitting
to need help. A counselor was powerless when the patient refused to
admit there was a problem. One would think that a counselor, of all
people, would seek help. But then, doctors were the worst patients
by default; that might just as well be true for counselors.

He looked into his wife's face, her eyes showing concern, but with a
fair amount of triumph. What was she up to? She leaned forward as
much as her belly would allow and locked her blue eyes on his. "You
know what she's going through Jean. Maybe she'll listen to you."

Startled he blinked, opened his mouth and then closed it again. "No…
no, I don't know what she's going through! Our experiences are
completely different!" He regretted his outburst immediately and was
about to apologize when he realized that his wife hadn't even been
surprised. Had she expected him to react this way?

"No Jean. What the Borg did to you is in essence, no different from
what Thomas did to Deanna. You were both stripped from your
identities, you both suffered because of that and like her, you
needed a long time to recover. And you too were being court-
martialed from something that was out of your hands." Beverly smiled
assuring and let a hint of mischief creep into her voice to ease the
anxiety he must be feeling, "I could go on, but I think you're
getting the point."

"Yes…but, you know I'm not comfortable—"

"You wouldn't have been a year ago." She cut him off
resolutely. "You'll do just fine.

Jean-Luc raised his hands in surrender and stood up, giving in to
the urge to pace. "What if I make it worse?"

"You won't. Just show her that she's not alone and remind her of
what she did for you." He shook his head, knowing full well that no
he couldn't decline.

"For you Madame." He gave her a tender kiss and rested his hand on
her belly for a long moment.

She watched him leave. "And for yourself." She whispered into the
empty room, hoping that by doing this he would finally close those
chapters of his life. She knew, from Deanna's reactions and from
what he told her, that Jean-Luc would sometimes, rare and far apart
as they were, still have nightmares and flashbacks.

As Riker settled himself in one of the seats Deanna forced her mind
to relax. Her attempts were mostly thwarted simply because she was
unable to separate the now and the then with him at such close
proximity, but she achieved a small measure of success and hoped
that it would be enough to guide her through this meeting.

She sat down across of him and tried to dispel the urge to run.
Unsure of where to start she chose to reach out with her mind
instead. Repeating to herself, like a mantra, that he wasn't Tom.
Before she had a chance to analyze and decipher what she found
however, Will spoke. "Dea…I want to…apologize." She could sense how
difficult it was for him to control himself, his anger was boiling
like crazy underneath his familiar exterior, as was his urge to hold
her tight against him. "I should have left, the second I saw that my
presence reminded you of…that my presence upset you."

"You couldn't have known." Deanna replied after a brief pause,
surprising herself at how calm her voice sounded. "And I couldn't
bring myself to tell you." Looking up at him, she tried to smile but
by his reaction she could tell she hadn't succeeded.

"What did he do to you?"

"Will" How could she possibly tell him? His anger was already so
strong that she feared it might consume him if it got even stronger.
And if she told him about what Thomas had done to her…she shuddered
to think what that knowledge would do to their friendship, fragile
as it already was.

"Please, Imzadi, I need to know."

Her fingers flexed, stretching, then curling into fists. The
endearment brought back more memories than she had thought possible
and none of them carried the warm and loved feeling she had
associated with the word before. "Please don't call me that."

"What?" Stunned by her request Will tried to peer into her lowered
eyes. Imzadi had always been a word of comfort and friendship,
although at one point it had meant more than that. "Why not?"

//Come one Imzadi…I know you want me. I know that you can feel me
inside your mind. Be a good girl Imzadi and please your Master.\\
Deanna trembled with the resurfacing fear and repulse, but managed
to keep her composure. "Just don't Will, please."

He nodded, albeit reluctantly and abided to her wishes. "Deanna…I
read some of the reports, but please, I want to know what he did; he
*is* me, in a way."

"No!" She almost jumped to her feet. "You are not Th—him! I know
you're not."

"Yet I scare you."

The statement was so matter-of-factly that is startled Deanna. "I…I
can't help it Will. I'm sorry.""

"No. Don't be. Dea, you know that what happening wasn't your fault."
His calmness, the affection and love he radiated felt so wrong, so
alien coming from that man…she shook her head. This was Will…her
best friends, her colleague, she'd often felt those emotions from
him. They were true and right. The reasoning calmed her a bit, but
she knew that the sooner she told him of her pregnancy the safer it
was for her and her baby.

Her baby.

The words provoked a dizzying swirl of emotions and images; some
memories from her short time of raising Ian, others from dreams and
again others were solely made up by her imaginations. "Yes, yes I do
know that." She answered finally. "Will" She had to tell him, for
his sake, for hers. Taking a deep breath she forced her eyes on his
again. "there's something I need to…tell you."

Will tilted his head slightly to one side, watching her with too
familiar blue eyes. `What made me ever think I could handle this?'
Troi questioned herself. Then, remembering Thomas calling her weak
and forcing her to go down on him, she strengthened her resolve;
eyes hardening, muscles tensing and her breathing evening out.
Emotions were useless where Riker was concerned, certainly when she
had to tell him about her baby.


She nodded once, acknowledging his question. "I'm pregnant Will."
Deanna congratulated herself for sounding so matter-of-factly and
focused her attention on Will's reaction, only looking at his face
and refusing to listen to the thoughts that floated into her mind.
The inhibitor was wearing off apparently. Might as well, she was
sick of the foggy feeling it gave her anyway.

His distinct features went from surprise to disbelieve to
shock. "You're…what?! How?!"

"Well Will, sure you know how to make babies." Whatever possessed
her to go with sarcasm she didn't know. The joke, bad as it wasn't,
wasn't at all appreciated by her companion. Which wasn't that
strange because she cringed at it herself too. The situation was not
one to joke about; she knew that better than anyone.

"Dea!" His scolding tone cut through her mind, bringing with it
unwelcome memories. What the hell had she been thinking when she'd
told Beverly that she could distinguish Will and Thomas? She dropped
her gaze in acknowledgement and waited for him to speak. "How did it

How indeed.

Well, a more accurate question would be *when*. Beverly had told her
that the drugs she'd been given had somehow counteracted the effect
of her six-monthly anti-conception hypo, but that wasn't what Will
was asking. And she too had wondered *when*. Which day? Which
time? "It just did."

"And you agreed to it?"

"WHAT?!" Deanna's head snapped up. Did he just ask if she had
*agreed* on having a child?! Will realized his mistake mere seconds
later, but the shock was too fresh in his mind for him to rectify
it. "How dare you ask me that!"

"Dea I'm sorry. I'm just shocked." Standing up now they held each
other's gaze, but only for seconds because she turned away. "I mean…
you're having a baby." `and it's not mine' the thought remained
unspoken. Then again, it occurred to him, that in a way the child
was his. Genetically speaking anyway.. "I guess…" He hesitated, not
sure if what he was about to ask her would be received well. "I'd
like to assume the father-role."

Startled her eyes met his, surprise shone in them. Whether of the
good or bad kind, Riker couldn't tell. Her answer however made that
very clear. "No."

"Why not? Thomas is, was my duplicate so in a way the child's mine

"No. And will you stop saying that!" The vehemence in her voice
seemed out of place and silenced him briefly.

"Why not?"

A harsh snort brutally cut through the quiet conversation and
surrounding silence. Deanna debated with herself whether to answer
or not. She wanted to scream at him, revealing what Thomas had put
her through, so that maybe he would leave her alone, at least for a
while. Yet another part of her was telling not to. His pity was bad
enough to deal with as it was, she didn't want to increase it. For
her sake more than his. "I said no Will."

"Yes, I heard that." His voice was no as cold as hers. "I'd like an
explanation though." `I always imagined that if I'd ever have
children you would be the mother Imzadi, this may be my only chance
to fulfil that dream, please don't take that from me.' He wondered,
hoped, that Deanna would pick up on his thoughts, but if she did,
there were no hints.

"An explanation? Fine. I don't want you to be the father Will,
because you look exactly like the man who raped and abused me and
fathered my baby." She left the rest unspoken, not trusting her own
voice, which had gotten shriller with each word.

Again Riker fell silent. He had suspected, because of the injuries,
yet hearing her say it aloud made a definite impact on him. "But I'm
not Thomas."

"That's not what you said a minute ago." A wry smile accompanied the
remark; a sign of resignation instead of the deviance he'd been

"You know what I meant."

"Yes. Yes I did. Goodnight Will."

According to the computer, Deanna was in Ten-Forward, so that was
where he headed. After leaving his wife in their quarters he'd gone
to the Bridge and finished reading, evaluating and writing the daily
reports. An often tedious, but necessary task, but today he was
grateful for the work. It gave him the necessary time and
distraction to put his thoughts into order. The task Beverly had
given him unnerved him a great deal, though not as much as it once
would have and a part of him was glad that he could do something for
Deanna to repay her in a small measure for what she'd done for him
after numerous events in the past.

When he first met her, a six months before the Enterprise-D had been
commissioned, he'd been opposed to the idea of having a counselor on
the Senior Staff and although he had altered his opinion little by
little when she offered valuable insights in situations and helped
his crew through emotionally trying times. But until the Borg he had
never truly appreciated the complexity of her position.

And now he could do something in return and he surprised himself
with the relieve he felt.

He found her just outside of the Lounge, leaning against the grey
wall. Her eyes were closed and she was tapping two fingers against
the skin behind her ear. She'd explained to him once why she did
that, but the memory eluded him. "Counselor, are you all right?"

Startled she jumped to attention, then relaxed and blushed slightly
with embarrassment. "Yes. Can I help you?"

Her question, familiar as it was, surprised him. She was off-duty
and the look in her eyes screamed that she wanted to be alone, yet
she still was willing to help him. "No…I just came to see how you
were doing."

Her features hardened slightly; a testimony to how often she'd been
asked that question and how annoying it was becoming. He knew, he'd
been there. "I'm fine Captain."

"Join me for a drink?"

She tilted her head and contemplated for a while, then softly
accepted. When he turned towards the Lounge however she stopped
him. "No, please, we can go to my quarters." Surprised he followed
her but not without glancing through the windows in the doors and
seeing his First Officer staring at the stars.


~Chapter Thirty-Four: Lean on Me~

With his hands clasped behind his back, Captain Picard followed his
Counselor and former First Officer to her quarters, where she
offered him a seat and ordered drinks for both of them from the
replicator. She handed him a glass of tea and sat down across from
her, slowly sipping the yellow-ish drink she'd gotten herself.

A little too self-conscious for his liking, Jean-Luc tried to figure
out what he should say next. This was unlike any situation he'd ever
been in and worse, one where his instincts seemed to fail
him. "Deanna, I…I wanted to let you know that Data has offered to
defend you as well."

"You already told me that, sir." Her voice was filled with teasing
tones, and Jean-Luc felt his cheeks flush.

"Yes, I suppose I did." He recovered and decided that honesty was
really his only option, not just because Troi was an empath, but
also because she knew him better than most people alive. "I wanted
to let you know that I know what you're going through." Thin ice
there. Her features hardened, and her eyes glittered with barely
contained anger. Knowing that he had to say something before she
exploded, Jean-Luc stood and crossed the room.

"I know you don't want to hear it, I didn't want to hear it either.
I didn't think anyone could possibly understand what I'd been
through, and all I wanted was to be left alone." Her anger seemed to
be fading, giving way to curiosity and sympathy. "But you and
Beverly stayed with me regardless, and you were always there when I
woke up from a nightmare."

It was true. She remembered it as vividly as he did. What he didn't
know was that for the duration of his recovery she and Beverly had
shared the quarters directly adherent to his, just in case something
went wrong. His nightmares would often wake her up and she would
make her way to his cabin, sitting with him as he battled his

"I hated you for it. I hated them for what they'd done to me, but I
hated myself above everyone else. I remember screaming at you to
leave me alone, but you wouldn't. I even hit you, and you still
wouldn't leave." It was clear to her why he was telling her this.
They'd covered it in counseling long ago, but he brought it back up
for her sake, even though it made him remember. "You were there for
me, both of you." He paused, gathering his thoughts and then
continued. "What Thomas did to you…" she averted her eyes, "…you
can't do this alone, Deanna. You wouldn't let me, and I won't let

The memories had brought with them dark emotions and they, combined
with her captain's sympathy, affection and concern pounded against
her shields, but despite what she sensed, she felt anger at what he
was suggesting. "No! I *can*. I have to."

He took her by her shoulders, his frustration rising at her
stubbornness. "Deanna, you can't deal with this on your own, believe
me, I know!" His exclamation was more forceful than he had intended,
but the situation brought back unpleasant memories and he found
himself being pulled into them.

The exclamation startled Deanna, and despite realizing that what she
was doing was wrong she could not stop herself from reacting the way
she'd been taught to. She leaned forward and pressed her lips
against Picard's, her tongue sneaking out of its own accord.
Shocked, Jean-Luc froze, and then pushed Troi away from him. "What
the hell was that?!" He watched numbly as she fell onto the couch,
trying to comprehend what just happened. "Counselor?"

"I…I don't…I'm sorry sir." She flew from the living area and
disappeared into her bedroom, the door closing behind her.

"Merde." What now? His instinct was to leave, the situation had been
uncomfortable enough but after that kiss…why the hell had she kissed
him anyway? He knew of her `training', but everyone had been
convinced that Deanna had overcome that.

That the episode with Will Riker several days ago had caused a
relapse was understandable… perhaps this was simply the aftermath?
Beverly had said…oh god, Beverly. What the hell was he going to tell
her? He stared at the bedroom door and decided to wait for Deanna to
come out.

When minutes had passed without a sign of life from her he began to
feel uneasy. What was she doing in there? He remembered wanting to
kill himself after the Borg, after yelling at Beverly and hitting
Deanna. Was she going through the same thing? Did she, too, felt the
guilt eating at her?

It was incredibly selfish of him, but a part of him was grateful to
have someone who could really understand the horror he'd been
through. Even if it was a decade and a half later, and even if the
circumstances were somewhat different. The parallels existed,
however, and there were a lot more similarities than he'd thought of.

Making up his mind he called for security and had them release the
door. To his relief Troi seemed to be all right. She sat huddled
against the wall, her knees drawn up to her chest, her long curls
mostly obscuring his view of her face. "Deanna?"

"Please, please let me stay." It took him a number of seconds to
realize she feared he'd have her transferred for what she did, and
for some stupid reason it hurt that she thought he would be able to
just send her away.

He stood in the doorway and tried to figure out what to do next. His
inorganic heart was still beating rapidly, but he felt strangely
calm. "Of course."

She tilted her head upwards and looked at his offered hand through
her tears. He pulled her to her feet and more or less guided her
back to the living area where he replicated her a box of
tissues. "I'm sorry Captain, I don't know what came over me."

He gave her a few minutes of silence to groom herself. "I think you
do." As he'd expected she turned away to hide her emotions from him.
He hadn't seen her so evasive before but he'd known to expect it.
Patiently he waited for Deanna to react. When she didn't he broke
the silence again. "Why did you kiss me Counselor?"

"I…" She fumbled nervously at the sleeve of her dress. "Thomas, he…
he taught me to react to his mood." Her eyes were trained on the
floor at a point just before his feet. "When he was angry or
frustrated I was to come to him and make him relax." Deanna allowed
her thoughts to drift and banned all emotion from her conscious
thought. "When I didn't get to him fast enough he'd beat me." She
didn't feel it when Jean-Luc took her by her elbow and sat her down
on the couch, or when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her
against his chest. Her mind was numb to anything and everything. She
wasn't even aware that she was speaking her thoughts aloud.

Picard held her, still uncomfortable and unsure of what to do, but
immensely relieved that she was finally talking. He wondered if
perhaps he should contact Beverly, but figured that she had probably
predicted that he would stay away until early in the morning.

He listened to her words and willed himself not to react. That
someone was able to treat another living creature with such
disrespect and cruelty was beyond him. That a man would do that to a
woman he claimed to love was absolutely incomprehensible. He cringed
at the terms she used and shuddered at the situations she described,
but he didn't allow himself to think about them more thoroughly.

There were no words to offer comfort with; all he could do was hold
her in a loose embrace and try to keep his emotions as bland as
possible. Deanna fell silent, and when she didn't seem to be able to
continue Jean-Luc got up and replicated a glass of water for her.

She drank it gratefully, but then suddenly became aware of the
situation and froze. "I'm sorry sir, I didn't mean to force all that
upon you."

Picard stared at the haggard-looking empathy, surprised by her
apology. "Stop that." His soft, scolding tone got her to look up at
him. "Stop apologizing Deanna. You need to talk, and despite my
discomfort, I do want to help you. I know how hard it is to talk,
especially to someone who hasn't had a similar experience."

Deanna nodded slightly, relief shining in her black eyes. "Thank
you, that means a lot to me."

He nodded and sat back down, no longer touching her but close enough
to be able to reach out. "What else do you remember?" Troi closed
her eyes. As much as she wanted to forget she knew and had realized
that she never would. Drawing a last deep breath she continued.

Walking into the Lounge Geordi LaForge surveyed the various
humanoids scattered throughout the room, looking for a familiar
energy pattern. His mind was still spinning with thousands of
numbers, equations and other little, but extremely important
information blocks.

He'd spend the last couple of hours comparing sensor logs from the
Enterprise with the retrieved logs of the destructed starbases and
was in serious need of a break. He found Doctor Pulaski in the far
corner and made his way to her. A number of padds were scattered
about the table's surface and the frowns edging in Kate's forehead
suggested that she needed a break as much as he did. "Hey Doc."

"Geordi, have a seat." She nodded to the chair on the other side of
the table. He pulled it back and was surprised by some unusual but
familiar energy readings. Realizing that they were but a few pads he
chuckled and put them on the table as well.

Sitting down he began to stack the pads. "I thought the Lounge is a
place where people are supposed to relax?"

Kate sighed and put down whatever she'd been working on. "It's not
easy to relax for a Doctor, period. Even less so when she's
confronted with a mystery."

"A mystery?" His interest piqued LaForge leaned closer. His readings
of the Doctor's face fluctuated, drooping down a bit before
returning to what for him were `normal parameters'.

"Yes…I thought I'd worked out the purpose and effect of each drug
found in Deanna's blood. But when I was archiving them I came across
a tiny viral body. There's nothing like it in any medical database
and although is has a construction nearly identical to that of the
Zanthi-virus there are a number of significant differences."


"Hmm…It's a virus often attracted by older Betazoids. It originated
from the Zanthi-springs on Betazed. When attracted the Betazoid
metaconscious projects emotions onto bystanders. Lwaxana attracted
it during a trip to Deep Space Nine and caused some…unusual


"Well, from what I understand she unknowingly enforced some of the
emotions she sensed, thereby causing people to act on what was
simple physical attraction."

"Oh." Yes, he could see how that would lead to `situations'. Maybe
he could ask Miles about that sometime, it sure sounded rather
interesting. "Then how was the virus you found different?"

"Well" Pulaski shuffled through the stack of padds, then fished one
out and handed it to him. "the Zanthi-virus would not have affected
Deanna, but this virus did." Her finger, as she pointed at one of
the graphics, was bright orange against the dark-blue of the cold,
inorganic material. "Her blood contained a number of anti-bodies,
which don't appear to have been effective."

Geordi studied the contents of the padd in his hands, but was unable
to process the information. The equations the Doctor had written
down were nothing like the ones he'd been studying all day. "Where
you able to determine what effect the virus must've had?"

"No. The RNA that I located gives little information, other than
that it doesn't have the same symptoms as the original virus. The
structure shows that it was non-lethal; which makes sense because
Thomas was bound on keeping her with him."

He nodded sadly, thinking about the days Lieutenant Riker had been
on board. He remembered that most of the crew had been keeping an
eye on him and the Counselor. It was no secret that her and
Commander Riker had been involved at some point and the ship's
grapevine was usually buzzing with rumors about their relationship;
past, present or future. A second Will Riker had resulted in the
wildest conjectured stories since the ship had left Utopia Planetia,
Geordi was certain.

"I'd almost wish we could test it on someone."

"But we can! It shouldn't be impossible to have the compute run a
simulation of what would happen on the holodeck."

"I thought about that…but with all it's sophistication, a computer
can't possible simulate emotions."

"But if we provided enough background…"

Kate shook her head again. "Then we'd influence the results." Her
sigh was only slightly louder than his. "I'll just have to run more

"After a stiff drink." Geordi added quickly, realizing how dry his
mouth was.

"After a stiff drink.' She amended, once again stacking the pads;
the analyses could wait a few minutes.

Although already five minutes late for the 0800 meeting Jean-Luc
decided to stop by his quarters first to change into a clean uniform
and check up on his wife. As he'd expected she was still sound
asleep. Due to her pregnancy she slept a lot longer than usual and
it was a good thing that she'd taken on the Beta-shifts for most of
the time. It sometimes required some juggling with duty-rosters to
be able to spend more than a few minutes together during daytime
because Sickbay ran on shifts of six hours instead of eight, but now
the shorter shifts were definitely beneficial.

He kissed her forehead, brushing a few red locks out of the way, and
watched as she stirred. He remained watching her for longer than he
could afford; longer than he would have, had he not spent hours
listening to one of his close friends telling him the horrors she'd
been through.

It were times like this, when something would harshly remind him of
all the unjust and terror in the galaxy, that he'd take comfort in
her presence and that she reminded him that despite the horror and
the pain, there was still love and beauty.

If the choice had been his he would've stayed to watch her wake up,
but the ship needed his attention and thus he settled for leaving a
small note on his pillow. On his way to the Bridge his thoughts
drifted back to Deanna. She'd been remarkably calm all through the
night; there had been tears, but no crying, there had been some
biting remarks, but no real anger and he couldn't figure out if that
was because she had accepted and dealt with her memories or because
she refused to deal with them.

And then there was the matter of her, so far undetected, amnesia.
She'd told him that she didn't remember how she got back on the
Enterprise and when he'd asked her if she'd tried to recall Deanna
had quietly admitted that she didn't want to remember.

The doors to the Bridge opened, effectively interrupting his
thoughts, and as he walked onto the command center he unconsciously
pulled his uniform-jacket down. The ship's ETA for Darona III was
thirteen hours and the first meeting with the opposing counsel and
judges was twelve hours after that. But although he was convinced
that he and Data would be able to defense Troi more than adequately,
a sense of dread throbbed persistently in the pit of his stomach.