Title: We'll Always Have The Jalara Jungle

Author: Deanna K

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Characters, ships, and jargon belong to Paramount. The definition of Imzadi was taken from Peter David’s book “Imzadi,” I simply twisted the definition… a little.


It was a busy day in Ten Forward and Deanna and Will sat together at a table next to a window with their drinks. They had not planned to be together, but she was sitting alone when he came in after his shift and decided to join her. They had been talking about various subjects and suddenly there was silence, as if nothing more needed to be said. But so much more hung in the air, so much more had to be said.

It was hard for Deanna; she knew what she had to do, for both of them, but the dream had been so sweet to hold on to that she didn’t want to let it go. But she had to. She needed to. It was selfish and unfair, for both of them.

“Imzadi,” she whispered.

“Yes?” he turned to see her once again; his gaze had been lost in the stars outside.

“It’s a beautiful concept,” she said with a small smile.

“Yes, it is,” he said, returning her smile.

“But it is also a very complex concept,” she added in a more serious tone.

He looked at her, really looked at her for the first time since they had been sitting there together. He noticed sadness in her eyes, uncertainty. He knew she was trying to say something important, but she was having a hard time doing so.

“Explain it to me,” he said in a sincere voice, placing his hand over hers on the table.

“I told you that it means something like ‘beloved, dear one,’ and the first to touch your soul. I told you that it is a special bond and that it is forever.”

“Yes,” he reassured her with a smile, “I remember.” She was silent for a moment. This was it, she was going to do it. She had to. She needed to. She wanted to.

“Once that bond is created,” she said softly, “it is forever.”

Riker was not quite sure he understood, but he knew this was important and he simply nodded in understanding instead of risking saying the wrong thing.

“But it is in how that bond is maintained and further developed that determines the future.”

Will was completely confused. And even though he was trying his best not to show it, he knew that she could sense it.

“We bonded, we are Imzadi,” she reassured him. “But Imzadi doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic love. Imzadi by definition must involve love, and how that bond is nurtured determines the kind of love.”

Will was beginning to understand, and was relived by what she was saying.

“I love you, Deanna,” he began. “You are very special to me, and I know in the deepest depth of my heart that you will always be. And I also find myself not feeling the same way I felt for you in the Jalara Jungle, and not wanting the same things.”

Deanna smiled. He understood and he was not upset.

“You will always be my first, my Imzadi,” she told him. “And we will always have that bond. Maybe if we would have continued our relationship when we first came on board the Enterprise the love would have remained romantic. We would have…”

“There is no use in talking about what could have or would have. It’s done and it’s in the past,” he told her. “I have no regrets, we both chose this path. Knowing that you will be my friend forever, my very close friend forever, is more than I could have ever hoped for.”

She smiled and they were silent for a moment, just looking at each other’s eyes, a new level of understanding and friendship blossoming before them. Suddenly she looked down, as if remembering something she was embarrassed about.

“What is it, Imzadi?” he asked. She looked up at him and smiled. They would always be Imzadi, and that meant that nothing could break that bond. That meant she could ask and he would answer and there would be no awkwardness, just honesty.

“Did you ever feel jealous when I would fall for other men?”

“Sometimes. When I thought they could take way you from me. I’ve always known you are not my property and that if we had decided not to pursue our feelings that we were both allowed to pursue others.”

“I feel guilty. I’ve never really felt jealous.”

“It’s alright,” he reassured her with a smile. “We’ll always have the Jalara Jungle. That was amazing and the best experience in my life. But you are right, soul mates doesn’t always mean husband and wife.”

“And it doesn’t mean that we won’t find someone to live happily ever after with…” she said.

He gave her a questioning look.

“I’ve noticed the way you look at her, they way you casually flirt with her. It’s ok, go for it. You’ll never know unless you try.”

He blushed knowing exactly what she was talking about. He had hoped he had been discreet enough that no one would notice. But of course Deanna would notice.

The doors across the room, behind Deanna, swished open to let someone in.

“I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” he told her as he followed the man that had entered make his way to the bar. She knew exactly who that was, she sensed him before he had entered. “And you absolutely love the special attention he gives you during Mok’bara class,” he teased.

“Just like your sudden interest in theatrics,” she added with the same teasing voice and smile.

“Speaking of which,” he said as he stood up, “my, uh, shoulder has been bothering me.”

“Yes,” she added in an overly serious voice as she too stood up. “And I am incredibly thirsty. I need another drink.”

They both laughed as he walked with her towards the bar. A few feet away they stopped.

“Thank you,” he said wit a smile.

“There is nothing to thank me for,” she told him. “We both needed to know.”

He gave her one last smile before leaving Ten Forward and heading to deck 8.