The History of the Future

A Star Trek: The Next Generation/V Cross-Over
By Deb Gramlich 

Rated PG


Disclaimers and Forward


"Star Trek: The Next Generation" and it's characters belong to Paramount and Viacom respectively. A special thanks to Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis for making Will Riker and Deanna Troi so entertaining and intriguing at the same time. =)

"V" and its characters belong to Kenneth Johnson, Warner Bros. And NBC respectively. A special thanks to Marc Singer and My Goddess Faye Grant for allowing me to love Mike and Julie for so long. =)

Most of the situations in this story belong to me. Who else has a mind crazy enough to come up with this scenario? LOL

When I was nine years old, I was forced to sit and watch this little miniseries coming on to NBC called "V". I whined and complained about it, but reluctantly I sat in front of my TV and began watching this "stupid movies about aliens" as I think I called it.

Well, after 20 minutes, I was completely hooked. I watched the first part of the miniseries not quite understanding the parallels that were being portrayed. The next day before Part 2 of the movie aired, my grandfather sat me on his lap and told me about Nazi Germany and World War II. Later that night, the movie took an even bigger meaning.

Not only did I become enraptured by the story; the characters themselves took on a new meaning. Of course, there were your typical bad guys, and the dashing male action hero. But, for an impressionable young girl, Juliet Parrish was the one who really caught my attention.

Young, beautiful, smart, and tough, she showed me that women didn't have to be demure and hide in the background. They could be tough and still retain their femininity. In the 1980s, this was SEVERELY lacking on television.

America went into a "V" frenzy. The movie was so popular that a year later, "V: The Final Battle" hit the airwaves. Again, I was glued to my television. All of my favorite characters were back, played by the same actors. This was my first foray into the land of Sci Fi, and it was a journey I was glad I had taken.

"V" again proved to be so popular, it became a TV series. Okay, I still clutched to my love of the story, despite what the new writers did to the storyline and characters. "V: The Series" didn't last an entire season, nor was it ever given any closure. It just sort of… stopped midstory.

Two years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the airwaves. Although I didn't become a fan of the show until the third season, I knew deep down it was "V" that allowed me to open my mind enough to give Star Trek a try.

So, for those of you who are "V" fans, I hope you don't mind me tweaking the storyline a bit here and there to work my beloved TNG characters in.

For you TNG fans, I hope this will strike your interest enough to let you go out and watch "V" for yourself. It's readily available fairly cheaply in stores and online, and is really worth the money. =)

This story will be presented as Books, each with individual chapters.

Book One takes place on board the USS Enterprise-D, set between "First Contact" and "Insurrection". We will assume that the incidents in both of Peter David's "Imzadi" novels did indeed happen.

Now, enough of my yammering and on with the story!

~Deb G, November 2001~


Book II :  Without A Reason To Live


“The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter One

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter One

The haze surrounding Deanna Troi's consciousness began to lift slowly. Licking her overly dried lips, she raised a hand to cover the extremely bright light shining in her eyes.

'Why did I have the lighting up so high in my quarters?' She thought. But, just as quickly the thought faded as the memory came crashing back into her mind.

Despite the blinding light, she forced herself to open her eyes fully and jumped up from her resting place.

"No no, Miss please, stay still. You've had a terrible trauma to your system." The kind voice came from a humanoid male that rushed to her side and gently tried to lay her back down on the bed.

"Wh-where am I?" She asked, not quite sure if the voice she heard came from her own parched lips.

"You're at the LA Medical Center. I'm Dr. Collins, I was on duty when they brought you in."


Dr. Collins looked at her for a moment and then smiled. "He must be the guy you were with. He's right next door resting. He's going to be fine."

Deanna glanced quickly around the room trying to get her bearings. Hanging on the wall next to a set of sterile looking metal cabinets was what appeared to be a calendar made from paper. Deanna focused her eyes tightly on it trying to out the date.

March 30, 1983.

'Oh My God!' Deanna thought. It actually worked.

Dr. Collins pulled up a metal stool and sat precariously on the edge of it. "That must have been one hell of a mugging."

"Mugging?" Deanna struggled with the unfamiliar word.

"Yeah, we figured that's what happened when the ambulance brought you and your friend in. Although, weirdest thing… they didn't take any of your money."

Deanna started putting the pieces together. "Uh, yeah, someone must have scared them. There were a lot of them… we just couldn't fight them all off."

Dr. Collins nodded. "What can I say, it's what we're famous for in Los Angeles. Stars, smog and muggings." Collins shook his head and walked to the sink retrieving a paper cup of water.

"Here, drink this. It'll help your throat." He said handing her the cup.

Deanna sipped gingerly, wrinkling her nose at the taste of the water. 'Even the water is different.'

The large wood door opened as Will came walking slowly in. He smiled when he was Deanna sitting up.

"I see sleeping beauty decided to join us again." He said as he took one of Deanna's hands in his.

Dr. Collins smiled. "You're both going to be fine. X-Rays didn't indicate a concussion or any other cranial trauma, so I'll send my Med Student in here to give you both discharge instructions."

"Thank you Doctor." Deanna said as Dr. Collins left the room.

When the door closed, she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "My God Will!"

"I know. I think we owe the Guardian one hell of a thank you when we return." He whispered to her.

"So we're at the right time and place?" She asked.

"Close enough. We're a few weeks early, but we'll just have to hang tight until then. There's nothing else we can do." He explained.

Deanna nodded and handed the cup to Will. "Want some?" As he took the cup, Deanna slid off the bed and began to stretch her muscles. "This is going to take some getting used to. I thought we were ready when we left and now…"

Will smiled. "I know. Reading it on a computer and actually living it are two different things. So now all we have to do is literally live in the past, live through an alien invasion, find Mike Donovan and Juliet Parrish who may or may not exist, join the resistance and win a war."

Deanna laughed. "Is that all?"

The both turned when the doors opened allowing a beautiful young blonde woman to enter the room. She wore a similar lab coat as Dr. Collins, but didn't look to be any older than twenty-five years old.

"Hello, Dr. Collins wanted me to bring these forms to you. All I need is your signatures and you're both free to go."

As Deanna walked back over to the bed, the young woman opened two cream-colored folders and showed Will and Deanna where to sign.

"If you feel a headache coming on, you can take some Tylenol. Any other problems, dizziness, fatigue, feel free to come back or call and ask for me. I'm on duty for the next twelve hours."

Will smiled at the young woman. "And you are?"

He began to drink from the cup again but almost choked when he heard the answer.

"My name's Juliet, Juliet Parrish."

To be continued .

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Two

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Two

Juliet Parrish watched the two patients in front of her wondering how she had evoked such a reaction.

"Are you both sure you're okay?" She asked cautiously.

Deanna forced a smile before answering; "Yes, it's just been a very long day."

Juliet smiled. "That I can understand."

As Juliet continued writing in the charts before her, Deanna couldn't help but study the woman in front of her.

Juliet's honey blonde hair and crystal blue eyes made her appear younger than she probably was. Still, she was small in size and spoke softly making her appear almost demure. How could she become the leader of the Los Angeles resistance?

Glancing at Will, Deanna noticed that he too was studying the young medical student.

"Okay, that should be all. Like I said, any problems don't hesitate to call." Sticking out her hand, she gently shook both Will and Deanna's hand.

"Take care, and be careful out there." Juliet's smile gave Deanna the instant feeling of liking and trusting the girl. She didn't know why… she just KNEW she could.

"Maybe we'll see you again sometime." Will said.

Juliet again smiled and began to leave the room. As an afterthought, she stopped and turned looking directly to Deanna. "Have we met before? I'm sorry but you seem so familiar to me."

Her question threw Deanna off balance, perhaps even more so than the fact that Juliet Parrish had walked directly into their lives.

Regaining her composure, Deanna said, "I don't think so."

Juliet shrugged. "I thought maybe you were clients of my boyfriend and we had met through him."

"Whose your boyfriend?" Will asked. Deanna threw him a look and small smile. 'Good Will, find out as much information as you can.' Deanna thought to him.

Both Enterprise officers expected to hear the name Michael Donovan. Instead, they were thrown of balance again by her answer.

"Dennis Lowell. But everyone calls him Denny."

Will shook his head. "Can't say that we know him. We're fairly new in town."

Juliet shrugged. "No matter I guess. You can pick your belongings up at the security station in the lobby. You two take care."

Once the door had closed behind her, Will and Deanna looked at each other incredulously.

"Can we just get our things and get out of here? I'm getting a headache and we still need to find out where we're supposed to live." Deanna said.

Will nodded. "Let's go."

They walked to the security station and claimed their belongings. Walking out of the doors and into the sunshine, a slight feeling of giddiness overtook them. Stopping briefly on the sidewalk, they looked admiringly at their new environment.

"Hard to believe this all ends up underwater." Will said.

Seeing a street sign on the corner, they quickly realized that their apartment was on the same street as the hospital. Hand in hand, they went to find their new home.

Unbeknownst to them, Dr. Juliet Parrish watched them curiously from an obscure window in the emergency room. Shrugging, she turned to tackle the large mound of work piling up at the desk.

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Three

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Three

Using the information provided to them in one of their previous briefings, Will and Deanna were able to find their new home without too much of a problem.

Will was surprised to finds the door to their apartment unlocked. Inside, two men were moving diligently from room to room.

Will and Deanna hesitated in the doorway. "Oh, I'm sorry. We must have the wrong apartment." Will said as they began to back out.

The red haired man smiled slightly. "No, you're fine Commanders. Lieutenant Hicks and I were just putting the finishing touches on your apartment as per Admiral Necheyev's orders. I'm Commander Johnson, Starfleet Intelligence."

Will and Deanna allowed the door to close behind them. Commander Johnson looked slightly confused. "Admiral Necheyev said there would be three of you."

Deanna's mind flashed to the sight of Beverly grabbing at her eyes and screaming at the searing pain of the Sirian venom.

"There was… an incident." She said cryptically, wishing that there were a way to find out if Beverly was okay or not.

Johnson nodded. "We expected you several hours ago actually. We thought maybe there was a problem with the jump through the Guardian. It can be unpredictable."

"Yeah, although I didn't realize it would be such a rough ride." Will said.

Johnson shook his head. "It wasn't for us. One second we were there, the next here. Although, now that you're here, our mission is completed. The Guardian should have returned us by now." Johnson sighed. Glancing at Hicks he added, "I hope this doesn't mean we're trapped here. I don't envy the situation you're about to experience."

Deanna suddenly realized that her arm was about to detach itself at the joint. She flopped her bags on the floor and sat on the couch.

"Well, the good news is that we've made contact with Juliet Parrish already." Will said, joining Deanna on the couch.

Johnson looked fascinated. "So, she really does exist? Amazing!" He declared. "Where did you find her?"

"At the Medical Center. She's a student." Deanna mumbled.

"Damn, how lucky is that. The good news is that you both have job interviews at the hospital, 10am Monday morning. The information you need is on the countertop. We fully stocked the cabinets and cold box. The apartment is fully furnished and the rent paid for the next year. It's two bedrooms and in a good location. There's the hospital, a supermarket and a bank all within walking distance."

Neither Will nor Deanna knew what a 'supermarket' or 'bank' was, but decided not to let Johnson know. They'd figure it out later.

Johnson continued. "As I said, you should be all set. I'm sure you've been briefed thoroughly enough to know your mission."

Johnson began to move across the room but stopped when a swirling vortex of light began to form. Looking at Hicks, he nodded. "This is apparently our cue. Good luck Commanders." The two intelligence officers moved quickly into the vortex and disappeared in mid-air.

Will was stunned at how quickly they had disappeared. He looked incredulously to Deanna who merely shrugged and dropped her head onto the back of the couch.

He grinned. "So, I guess it's just the two of us."

Deanna opened her eyes and smiled. "Apparently. Johnson said our interviews were Monday, but he didn't say what today was."

Will sighed realizing that she was right. Picking up their discharge forms from the hospital he noticed the date and compared it to a decorative calendar that seemed to be magnetically clinging to the large white icebox in the kitchen.

"It's Saturday. That gives us a bit of time to get used to our surroundings." He said.

"And what if we don't get hired for the jobs?" Deanna asked.

Will thought for a moment then shook his head. "We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it."

Deanna stood and walked to the kitchen opening the cabinet doors and peering inside.

"Hungry?" Will asked smiling.

Deanna looked at him slyly. "Well, we need to get used to our new home. Hmmm…"

"Was that the sound of discovery?" He asked.

"Perhaps." Deanna wandered back to the living area holding a large red and white bag. Reading the side of it, she crinkled her nose.

"Aside from corn, I've never heard of any of these ingredients." She laughed.

Will leaned forward and lifted the bag still in her hands. "Doritos?" He asked.

Deanna shrugged. "I guess we'll find out." Tearing at the top of the bag, the smell of salt and something cheese-like assaulted her senses.

Oddly enough, the sensation was extremely appealing. Lifting one of the triangle shaped chips from the bag, she sniffed it slightly before taking a small bite from the corner.

A grin spread slowly across her face. Opening her mouth wider, she shoved the entire chip in her mouth.

"Are they that good?" Will asked laughing.

Deanna grabbed two more chips out of the bag and shoved them completely into her mouth. "Will, Yuff got to twy fese!" she sputtered around her mouthful.

Will lifted a chip and took a bite. "Hmm, they are good."

Deanna sat on the couch and the two of them were soon lost in the bag of Doritos in front of them. After what seemed like only minutes, Deanna looked disgustedly into the bag.

"Are you supposed to eat a whole bag in one sitting?" She asked Will.

He shook his head. "Beats me."

Glancing at her fingers, she noticed that they had taken on an orange glow all their own. "Eww Will, look!" She laughed wiggling her fingers in front of him.

Will laughed grabbing her wrist gently. "Don't get any ideas." He eyed her suspiciously, knowing what Deanna was about to try.

Sure enough, she launched forward and tried to wipe the powdered cheese all over his face. Will was able to grab both her wrists easily and pulled her body extremely close to his.

"Now, this is a picture for our scrap book." He muttered. Looking into her now brown eyes, he realized that it was never the color of her eyes that intrigued him… it was the soul that shined behind them.

Their eyes stayed locked for what seemed like an eternity. Using guile that he hadn't used in years, he slowly took one of Deanna's cheese covered fingers into his mouth, gently sucking the orange from her fingertips.

Her eyes closed slowly as her head began to sway. Finally, after what seemed like hours, her eyes snapped open and she pulled away from him slightly.

Realizing his faux pas, he let go of her wrists. "I- I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me."

She smiled. "What came over US? It seems to come over us anytime we're alone and off of the Enterprise. But Will-"

"I know. You don't have to say it." He said.

Deanna stood from the couch and went over to retrieve her dropped bags. "It's been a long day, I think I'm going to bed. Goodnight Imzadi."

As Deanna left the room Will smiled. "Now there's a word I haven't heard in a very long time." He said aloud to himself.

Four centuries away, Lieutenant Commander Data summoned Captain Picard to the science station at the back of the Bridge.

"Captain, I believe I have found something."

Picard moved from the ready room with Admiral Necheyev, Commander Johnson and Lieutenant Hicks who had just been retrieved from the Forever World.

"I have found a photo that previously did not exist." He said.

Punching a few buttons, a photo appeared from a newspaper dated Liberation Day 2, 1985.

Appearing on the photo was Deanna Troi, although she was barely recognizable. Her hair was cut barely below her shoulders and her entire demeanor seemed changed.

Deanna had her arm around a small blonde woman who was holding a small baby boy that seemed barely old enough to hold his own head up. The boy's hair was brown and his eyes blue, matching the blonde woman's perfectly.

"Well, it seems Counselor Troi had no problems making friends." Necheyev commented.

"Apparently not." Data reiterated as he continued to type on the computer pad in front of him. The image began to zoom in on the small print under the picture of Deanna.

"Resistance Leader Juliet Parrish and friends celebrate Earth's second triumph over the Visitors" the caption read.

Picard's eyebrows rose. "Very interesting indeed."

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Four

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Four

Juliet Parrish walked slowly up the staircase that led to the Oceanside apartment she shared with her boyfriend.

After a busy twelve hour shift at the hospital, she looked forward to doing nothing but collapsing into her bed and sleeping away the day. Well, at least four hours of it until she was due back at the hospital to work her shift at the biochemistry lab.

'At least Dr. Metz only has me stay for four hours.' She told herself, hoping that the day ahead of her wouldn't seem so daunting. Nonetheless, it certainly didn't make her body feel any better.

Walking quietly into the apartment, she smelled fresh brewed coffee and knew that Denny was already up and getting ready for work. He was always up at the crack of dawn, so she didn't know why she thought today would be any different.

Yawning, she walked to the sliding glass door that lead to the patio. The waves of the Pacific Ocean crashed against the break way spewing white foam in its wake. The lulling sound of the ocean was almost enough to make her fall asleep right there.

She heard footfalls behind her and knew Denny had heard her come in. "Hey beautiful." He said softly to her. Coming up from behind, he wrapped his arms around her waist and held her softly.

She smiled and leaned back into his warm embrace. She reveled in his newly showered smell and the strength she could gain from his empathy. Sometimes, a hug was the best medicine.

"Was your night really that bad?" He whispered into her ear.

She shook her head and smiled. "Not too bad. Just busy. Plus I have to be at the lab by 11."

Denny shook his head. "You work too hard. It's going to catch up to you one of these days."

She nodded. "I know. But, I only have one more year of med school and I'm free to pursue biochemistry full time. That's really what I want to do."

He moved to pour himself a cup of coffee knowing that Julie would be heading off to bed shortly. "I bet Dr. Metz would give you a position at the lab full time now if you'd let him."

She nodded. "Yes, he would. But without my degree I can't become the type of researcher that I want to be. I don't want to have to depend on Dr. Metz my entire career. I want to be able to branch out, maybe even have a lab of my own one day."

Denny smiled brightly. "Well, you're definitely my favorite overachiever."

She smiled but decided to rise to the bait. "And you're not exactly one to talk about overworking. What time did you get home last night?"

He thought for a moment. "A little after 9pm." He admitted sheepishly.

"And the stock exchange closes at 5PM Pacific Time, so where were you? Hmmm…"

"Having dinner with clients." They said in unison, causing them both to laugh.

"Hey, our future children will be glad to have overachievers as parents. They will want nothing when we can give them the World." He said proudly.

Julie smiled slightly and began to move towards the bedroom before 'that' topic was brought up again.

Too late.

"Speaking of which Julie-" Denny began.

She turned. "Please, not now. I just need to get some sleep." She was becoming an expert at dodging his discussions of their impending future.

He smiled a bit sadly and walked over to her. "Okay, I'm sorry. Have a good rest." He touched the side of her head softly as he kissed her forehead gently.

"Have a good day." She told him as she padded into the bedroom. Tossing her lab coat haphazardly on the back of a chair, she reached into the closet and pulled out an oversized T-shirt.

'How long have I been hanging up my T-Shirts?' She mused. 'I never did that before'. Not bothering to put anything else on, she crawled into bed and fell into a disturbed sleep.

Her nightmares were filled with images of bad men chasing her through hallways. But, strangely enough, this time her recurring dreams were different.

A gentle, heavily accented voice of a woman was encouraging her to run… run faster. And at the end of a particular hallway, the couple from the hospital was waiting for her.

She did not fear them, as she would anyone else who appeared in these dreams. Instead, she ran into the safety of their outstretched arms. There, she was content. They would never let the monster find her.

For the first time in the many years that had passed since she had sought refuge in her mother's arms, she felt safe. Her dark memories were chased away and Julie Parrish was finally able to sleep peacefully.

To be continued


"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Five

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Five

Deanna stood in front of her mirror comparing the outfit she was currently wearing to the three she had tried on previously.

Everything here was different and new. She and Will had spent all day Sunday wandering around the city, enjoying the sites and getting to know their surroundings. After a few mishaps involving traffic lights and cars, they were finally able to get the hang of how to move around.

Someone had even suggested that they try using a 'taxi' that was just like a land transport used on many planets throughout the Federation.

Hunger soon became their biggest threat so they made their way home, hoping to kick back and relax before preparing for their interviews the following morning.

She had decided to climb into a warm bathtub after Will had offered to prepare dinner. The smells coming from the kitchen were wonderful as Deanna dejectedly crawled out of the tub. The bathtub in their apartment was so much smaller than the one in her quarters on The Enterprise.

She missed their ship already, and hadn't even been here for 24 hours. Being homesick this quickly was something that she wasn't prepared for.

Dinner had proved to be an interesting experience. Will had put together a large salad, complete with bits of bread and a wonderful array of bottled dressings.

There was meat in the freezer, but neither Will nor Deanna was sure if they wanted to eat real meat or not. Both had been raised on replicated meat, so the idea of eating "real", almost freshly killed food was something to be put in the back of their mind.

So, they munched on the salad and opened a bag of something called Lay's that was in the same cabinet as the Doritos. The choice of either water from the sink or something called Coca Cola proved to be interesting.

Both Will and Deanna decided that they would stick to Coca Cola. The sweetness quenched their thirst just right.

Discovering the television, they played around with that for several hours watching many different types of TV shows and news broadcasts. Will had disappeared into the kitchen and had returned with two bowls of chocolate ice cream he called Breyers.

Deanna had eaten hers and part of his.

After a while, her stomach began to ache. Without sickbay or Beverly at their disposal, they were unsure of what to do to help her. So, she decided to simply turn in early and hope the extra sleep would help.

It didn't. She'd awoken this morning feeling completely nauseated. Using the extra bed in her bedroom that was originally intended for Beverly, she'd strewn out several clothing sets to try to find a suitable one. She'd hoped that picking out clothes would help quell her stomach.

It barely did. But, today was extremely important and she had to put her own needs aside. Finally deciding that what she had on would just have to work, she loosely braided her hair and made her way into the living room.

Will was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper he had bought the day before. Looking up at Deanna his eyebrows furrowed when he saw her face.

"You don't look too good." He said to her concerned.

She nodded. "I think I've put too much junk into my body in the last couple of days."

"Well hopefully we won't be at the hospital for too long. You can come back and lay down again."

She forced a small smile and grabbed her purse. "Ready?" she asked.

He took a deep breath. "Let's do it."

They walked to the hospital and prayed to any God who would listen that they would land the positions they were interviewing for. Knowing that Juliet Parrish worked in this very place would make it a perfect place for them to watch her. That would be very difficult unless they actually had a reason to be at the facility.

Walking through the familiar doors, they asked the receptionist at the front desk where personnel was. She gave them directions without lifting her face out of the book she was reading. Will and Deanna just glanced at each other as they made their way on to the elevator.

Figuring that the number '2' meant second floor, they were able to find the personnel office at exactly 10am. The woman at the desk asked them to wait in the seats outside in the hallway until they were called.

Deanna was called first. Her interview was fairly easy, just answering questions about her availability, typing and filing skills. Thank the Gods that Starfleet Academy still taught basic typing in case a computer didn't have a voice interface.

The harried woman in personnel who had introduced herself only as Janet looked through Deanna's resume. She shrugged and told Deanna "We had other applicants, but somehow all of their files managed to get misplaced. Yours was the only one found."

Deanna sighed inwardly, hoping that none of the other applicants needed this job too desperately. Of course, if she failed in her mission, there wouldn't be a planet left for them to live on.

Janet merely shrugged and wrote a few quick notes in Deanna's file. "Can you start at 8am tomorrow?"

Deanna nodded and smiled. "Absolutely."

Janet smiled. "Great, congratulations. We'll start you out in the biochemistry lab. There's always a ton of filing and clerical work to be done there. After your trial period, we'll move you to other areas of the hospital as you're needed."

"Thank you so much." Deanna said as she stood to shake the woman's hand. Janet merely nodded and told her "Can you send your boyfriend in here?"

Deanna froze. 'It probably does appear that way to people.' She thought. "Of course." She answered quietly as she exited into the hall. Will looked up at her hopefully and relaxed when he saw her small smile.

"Your turn." She told him. He nodded and went into the room. Deanna sat in the chair before the contents of her stomach ended up on the hallway floor. She allowed her head to rest on the wall behind her. Closing her eyes, she begged her stomach to behave itself for just a while longer.

She sensed someone approaching and lifted her head to confirm what her senses were telling her. Sure enough, Juliet Parrish was exited off of the elevator.

Juliet paused briefly and looked directly at her, a look of surprise on her face. "Deanna?" She asked.

Deanna paused as well. "Hello Doctor." She said and smiled at Juliet.

"What are you doing here? You're not sick are you?" Juliet asked sitting in the seat Will had just vacated.

Deanna shook her head. "No. Will and I are interviewing for some job positions that's available here."

Juliet nodded. "I see. But you look a bit pale, are you sure you're alright?"

Deanna decided that the best thing to do would be to keep the conversation with Juliet going. Assuring her that she was fine would do nothing but cause the young woman to move about her business.

"Well actually, I've had a bit of an upset stomach since last night. Too much junk food I think." She admitted.

Juliet smiled. "Well that's easy to fix. Come on into the ladies room, I've got Pepto in my bag that will fix that."

Deanna walked with her into a room that said 'Ladies' and had a small, gold person on it wearing skirt. Juliet flung her shoulder bag on to the sink and began rummaging through it.

"You're not pregnant are you?" She asked suddenly.

"No!" Deanna protested then softened her stance slightly when she saw Juliet's reaction.

"If it's morning sickness than Pepto won't help any. Ah ha, there you are."

Juliet removed a small bottle from her bag filled with a thick pink liquid. She handed the bottle to Deanna then explained "Between school, my rotation in the emergency room and working in the biochemistry lab, I'm always eating on the run and fighting off tummy aches."

"The biochemistry lab? That's where I start working tomorrow." Deanna said trying to contain her excitement.

Juliet looked impressed. "It's a small world, huh? Go ahead, just chug it out of the bottle. I don't have a spoon on me."

Deanna removed the cap and sniffed the liquid. Her stomach churned at the smell and let out a fierce growl causing Juliet to laugh.

"Boy, it is unhappy isn't it?" She said. Deanna smiled and gingerly sipped the horrid liquid. As soon as she swallowed the pain in her belly increased exponentially and she knew what was about to happen.

Thrusting the bottle back at Juliet, she ran for the toilet, barely making it in time. Sure that she was done, she walked embarrassedly from the toilet expecting to see Juliet gone.

Instead, she was sitting up on the sink swinging her legs back and forth like a young child. Deanna closed her eyes and shook her head walking slowly to the sink.

Splashing cold water on her face seemed to help but the burning of her cheeks was still there. Looking up she saw that Juliet was smiling.

"That's the good thing about Pepto Bismol. Either it cures your stomach ache or it repulses you enough to make you puke." She said.

Deanna began to speak but Juliet held up her hand. "Don't worry about it, really. I'm used to wearing it down in the E.R. Feel better?"

Deanna realized amazingly enough that she did. Her stomach was now completely calm. "Yeah, actually I feel fine." She admitted.

"Good, as much fun as this has been, I need to get to work. And I'm sure you'd better get back to your boyfriend before Janet is inviting him over to her place for dinner." Juliet said rolling her eyes.

"He's not my boyfriend." Deanna told her.

"Really?" Juliet said. "Before I ask the obvious question of 'Are you blind' should I ask if there's a history?"

Deanna smiled mischievously causing Juliet to laugh as they exited the Ladies room.

"So now the two of you are just friends right? I never understood that. People can't be lovers but still they can share every aspect of their lives as friends. Not just you and Will of course. I know a lot of people who have been involved and ended it with friendship."

Deanna looked at her incredulously. "Haven't you ever broken up with someone but remained friends with them?" She asked.

Juliet's face faltered for a moment and Deanna immediately sensed the change in her mood. Anyone but an empath may have missed it, but to Deanna the change was obvious.

"Not really." Juliet finally answered. "I've been too busy with school and studying to get involved in too many relationships."

"But you mentioned a boyfriend the other day." Deanna pointed out.

Juliet smiled. "Yeah Denny. A mutual friend set us up about 16 months ago and we've been together ever since."

The dark spot that had clouded Juliet's mood a moment before was gone again, just as quickly. Deanna filed the observation away in the back of her mind.

"Well, that's good. And… there's Will." Deanna noticed as Will exited from the personnel office.

He turned to see Deanna and Juliet walking from the hall and stopped in surprise. "Hi Will!" Juliet said brightly. "I hope everything went well in there."

He smiled. "As well as they could." He admitted.

Juliet looked impressed. "And she didn't leave any claw marks. Either you're very thick skinned or not her type."

Deanna laughed. "Believe me when I tell you that there aren't too many women who consider him 'not their type'."

Juliet laughed and began to walk again. "Well, I really need to get to the lab. Deanna… it was nice talking to you. It was an experience I'm sure we'll never forget. I'll see you tomorrow. Bye Will!"

She turned and rushed down the hall, disappearing behind a large wooden door. Will looked at Deanna with his eyebrows raised.

"You seemed to have made quite an impression." He said to her.

Deanna rolled her eyes. "If only you knew the half of it."

"Long story huh?" He asked.

She nodded. "I'll fill you in while you're cooking me lunch."

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Six

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Six

Juliet Parrish rushed from the parking lot of the Los Angeles Medical Center towards the entrance of the hospital.

She finally had a night off the previous evening, and had enjoyed spending the night with Denny. Although he'd been involved in the New York Times before dinner, he'd quickly put the paper away when he realized that Julie had no classes, papers, or shifts at the hospital.

Their time alone seemed so rare, so when the opportunity arose they both appreciated it fully.

Julie sighed calmly again realizing the changes Denny had introduced into her life. Before meeting Denny, Julie's life was full of quiet homemade meals or dinner for two at secluded, intimate restaurants. Before Denny, all of Julie's evenings were full of textbooks and dinner coming from Mr. Swanson or Mr. Hungry Man.

Last night, Denny had cooked a small Italian meal while Julie had soaked in a warm bath. After dinner, they curled together on the sofa to watch an old Bogart movie on TV.

Deep down their future seemed uncertain, at least to Julie. She had always planned to join the Peace Corps or return to China when her internship was complete. She had spent six months in China previously as an exchange student. That experience had given her the upper hand at landing her scholarship to med school. If it wasn't for the scholarship, she'd been drowning in debt instead of sinking slowly.

If she did leave the US to practice medicine, she knew Denny would be gone. He was a very patient man giving her particular situation. But, he would not wait two or three years for her to return. He was getting anxious to talk about marriage already, but didn't push her too hard.

Julie had always believed that if she and Denny married now, her future plans would go up in smoke. She'd been involved in one relationship several years ago where her boyfriend had wanted her to give up on her dreams to stay at his side. Julie resented that fact and ended up leaving him with nothing more than a letter. She doubted that Steven Maitland would ever come into her life again, but if by some chance he did, she would relish showing him everything that she'd accomplished without him.

Deep down, she knew there was another reason, dark demons that would haunt her the rest of her life. She was truly afraid to give herself completely to any man. Denny of course knew this, and had been extremely patient when they had become lovers.

But it was more than that. To Julie, giving herself to any man was more than just a physical act. It meant body, mind and soul.

Body was the easy part. When the nightmares became too bad, Julie would simply close her eyes and separate herself from the world around her. Although Denny was a gentle and giving lover, sometimes a certain touch or caress would send Julie's mind screaming back to when she was a child. Her first instinct would be to flee, but after a while she learned to simply disassociate. Probably not the best approach psychologically, but for Julie, it was all she could muster.

Denny loved her mind. Most of the men Julie had dated resented the fact that she was as smart as she was. They would hear that she was in med school and at the top of her class and she wouldn't hear from them again. She'd always believed that a mind was a terrible thing to waste, and Denny agreed. He'd even joked to several of their friends that he had no doubt that Julie is smarter than him. Instead of resenting that fact, Denny encouraged her not only to continue in med school but to work at the biochemistry lab as well. Julie loved that Denny was so supportive and wished that she could get more involved in his career.

However, stocks, bonds and trading definitely weren't her forte. At the age of 27, Julie knew nothing of the stock market, although Denny knew it from top to bottom. He could sit and read the Wall Street Journal for hours at a time, and hated being interrupted. She kept telling him that he'll end up with high blood pressure but he just laughed it off. After all, he was only 33 and didn't think the stress that the stock market caused him was a reason for concern.

As for her soul… the romantic in Julie always believed in the concept of 'soul mates'. Was Denny her soul mate? No. She cared deeply for him, even loved him on some level, but she wasn't even sure that she wanted to share a marriage with him. A soul mate you would know right away… there would be a bond instantly that neither person would be able to explain. It superceded everything and your love would be able to withstand anything thrown at it.

Okay, so that was sappy and not exactly realistic, but she didn't care. The chances that her soul mate would walk into her life were slim. So, in the meantime she'd enjoy spending as much time with Denny as she could. Perhaps one day, her feelings would change and she'd be able to give him everything he deserved. But for now, the time or peace of mind just wasn't there.

Lost in her thoughts, Julie realized that she was now standing on the elevator and had been for some time. The door had closed but it was awaiting instructions for which floor to deposit her at.

Pushing the correct button, the elevator jerked into motion causing her to lean back on the rail. Stopping at the correct floor, Julie rushed towards the biochemistry lab, pausing briefly by the human resources office where she'd seen Deanna Troi sitting the day before.

What was it about Deanna Troi and Will Riker that stood out in Julie's mind? For some reason, those two fascinated her. She had felt an instant bond with Deanna, although she was positive that she hadn't met her until the day they were brought into the emergency room.

Deanna had an exotic accent, and Julie couldn't even begin to pinpoint where she was from, only that she couldn't possibly have been in the US for too long. In turn, Will didn't have any accent at all; leading Julie to believe that he was American. But, he and Deanna had known each other a long time, even had been lovers once.

Oh yeah, there was a story there, and Julie hoped that one day she'd be able to hear it. Until the, she was content to become friends with the two. Actually, in a way, she felt that she and Deanna were already friends… almost as if Deanna had come into her life looking for her in particular for some particular reason. That was crazy thinking Julie knew… but still the feeling lingered.

Pushing into the biochemistry lab, she smiled when she saw Deanna standing over the filing cabinet rearranging files. Julie came up behind her silently attempting to surprise her a bit, but instead Deanna was the one full of surprises.

"Hi Julie!" Deanna said brightly without turning around to look at her. Julie paused briefly and moved next to her.

"How did you know I was coming up behind you?" She asked cautiously.

Deanna paused briefly and shrugged her shoulders. "I heard you walking."

Julie shook her head suspiciously and glanced down at her feet. She was wearing soft, rubber soled lab shoes that didn't make any sound on the floor at all. Julie noticed that Deanna saw that fact, but she smiled instead.

Leaning towards Julie, she whispered "I saw your reflection in the glass." Julie saw where Deanna was pointing and noticed a small Erlenmeyer flask sitting on the filing cabinet. Julie doubted that Deanna was able to see any kind of reflection in it, but decided it wasn't important.

At least not yet.

"How's your first day going?" Julie asked changing the subject.

Deanna smiled. "Fine. Your lab here has needed a secretary for a while."

Julie laughed. "Yeah, we have a tendency to throw files in the cabinet and worry about straightening it out later. Everyone's treating you okay?"

Deanna smiled as she moved a file marked "Algernon" from the 'R' section to the 'A' section. "Fine, everyone's great. I think I've met everyone that's here today, Ruth, Ben, Dr. Metz. They've all been great at helping me get settled."

Julie nodded as she moved around the room to get her lab coat on. "Everyone here is great. Sometimes Dr. Metz seems to be a bit stuffy, but deep down he's a teddy bear."

Deanna smiled and thought of Captain Picard, currently hundreds of years away. "I've known a few people like that in my time." She said with a smile.

"Hi Sweetheart." They heard coming from the other side of the room. Julie turned and smiled at Ruth who was peeking out from under a lab table with a large set of cabinets on top.

"Hey Ruth. How's everything going today?" Julie asked.

Ruth shrugged. "Actually, everything's quiet for a change. Dr. Metz left for a conference in San Diego, so he said for us to just keep everything running smoothly. He'll be back tomorrow afternoon."

Julie raised her eyebrows a bit. "Well, that's nice of him. Guess I'll just feed the critters."

Deanna listened intently to the exchange behind her as she continued to re-sort the files. Ben Taylor walked from behind the lab area and smiled.

"Ah, this gives Julie another chance to work on the formula that Dr. Metz and I have been trying to perfect for the past year." He said smiling.

Julie returned the smile. "I'm just looking at it. I mean, come on Ben, what are that chances that I can perfect it when two fully trained doctors can't?"

Deanna heard Ruth laugh. "I wouldn't be surprised at anything you're able to do Julie." She said.

Ben laughed and nodded his head. Deanna turned to see Juliet in a deep blush although she was smiling. "I'm going to feed the animals." She said as she moved to the other end of the lab.

Ben shook his head and looked to Deanna. "We haven't lost you in there yet, huh?" He asked.

Deanna smiled. "No, actually I'm just about finished."

Ben looked impressed. "You figured out the new computer system in under a half hour and rearranged the files in less than two hours. Impressive."

Deanna smiled at he compliment, feeling her face blush a little. Of course she couldn't mention the fact that the 'new computer system' was actually an old, antiquated Apple series of computers. Although they were pioneering technology to the inhabitants of 1983, Deanna doubted any of them even existed in a museum in the twenty fourth century.

She moved back to her desk to answer the phone… a system that she was still trying to perfect. The idea of phone lines seemed something like a comm link channel, but she didn't have much experience with the phone. Hopefully, it would come easy to her as well.

She finished taking the message for Dr. Metz and tucked it into his 'in' box next to her desk. She smiled when she saw Will coming through the door. He looked extremely handsome in the white pants and powder blue shirt of his 'orderly' uniform. Deanna also noted that the pants hugged his large frame in just the right way…

She almost had to shake her head to get the thought from her mind. It seemed that anytime she and Will were alone together for any extended period of time, her mind tended to roam back to their time together on Betazed.

That was a place too dangerous to be. It had been a long time ago, and although the temptation to revisit was constantly in her mind, she had to resist. Burying their feelings was painful enough. She doubted that she could stand being hurt by him again, and she knew that they wouldn't be able to work side by side if there was another painful break up.

"How are you making out?" He asked her leaning down quietly to her desk.

She smiled. "Wonderful, I'm actually having a good time. Everyone's been great and supportive."

Leaning forward, she whispered "Julie's here, in the back."

Will smiled and focused his attention on the computer sitting on her desk. He examined it intently. "Damn." He muttered.

Deanna laughed. "Yeah, a Ferengi could have a field day here." She said quietly.

Will smiled. "Well, I was wondering if you were going to be heading to lunch anytime soon."

Deanna shrugged. "I'm not sure actually." She turned to look to Ben, but he was peering through a microscope.

"Ben!" Julie said loudly from the back of the lab. She came walking out suspiciously wearing a pair of large tan gloves that were wrapped gently around a rather large rat.

Ben looked at her sheepishly. "Oh, I'm in for it now." He said to Deanna.

Julie stood glaring at him. "I have one night off and asked you to feed Algernon."

Ben nodded. "I fed him."

Deanna noticed Ruth snickering as she moved to the filing cabinets to retrieve a file.

Deanna sensed that Julie wasn't really angry although she was demonstrating otherwise. "Yeah, you fed him. The question is; WHAT did you feed him? He's fat and bloated. He wasn't like this two days ago!"

Ben looked guilty. "Just his regular food."

Julie continued to hold the rat but tapped her foot on the floor. Her stare caused Ben to break.

"Okay, so he had half a turkey sandwich with a piece of cheese too."

Julie shook her head. "I knew it. You can never resist those whiskers twitching at you."

She smiled when she noticed Will. "Hey Will, how's your first day going?"

He smiled. "Just fine. I was just trying to steal your secretary away for lunch."

Ben nodded. "Oh yeah, go ahead Deanna. Take lunch whenever you feel like it. We don't stand on formality here."

Ben glanced over at Julie. "When was the last time you ate Miss Parrish?"

It was Julie's turn to look sheepish. "About six o'clock last night."

"Uh huh. Well, you go to lunch with them. I don't want you dying from hunger on us." Ben said with a smile.

"Alright, let me put pudge gut back." Julie said indicating the rat in her hand.

Ruth laughed as she moved to Deanna. "The filing cabinet looks wonderful Deanna. Hopefully we won't drive you too crazy when we mess it all back up again."

Deanna smiled as she stood to retrieve her purse. "I'm sure I'll be able to keep up with you Ruth."

Deanna instantly liked Ruth Barnes. She was the senior lab technician in the biochemistry lab. She was around fifty years old Deanna guessed, and was a kind, motherly type. Deanna got the impression from their earlier introductions that Ruth thought he world of Juliet.

Dr. Ben Taylor was a pleasant surprise as well. He was in his thirties and extremely bright. His demeanor showed his intelligence, but at the same time, Deanna sensed toughness about him that probably came from his upbringing.

Ben and Ruth and welcomed Deanna with open arms this morning when she arrived. When the introductions were made, she'd mentioned that she already knew Juliet, causing Ben and Ruth to smile.

"No one calls her Juliet. She's too young to be a Juliet. Julie suits her just fine." Ruth told her. So, Deanna made a conscious effort to begin calling her Julie.

As 'Julie' again resurfaced from the back of the lab, she quickly washed her hands and grabbed her purse. Throwing a quick wave to Ben and Ruth she lead the way out of the lab and towards the elevator.

"Well, what's your choice? We can eat in the cafeteria, which I wouldn't recommend or head down the street. McDonalds shouldn't be too crowded yet." She said.

"McDonalds?" Will and Deanna asked in unison. With all the exploring the two had done in the previous days, they hadn't noticed any restaurant called McDonalds.

Julie stopped dead in her tracks and stared incredulously. "You two have never heard of McDonalds? What did you drop in from outer space or something?!" She said shaking her head.

Deanna and Will exchanged a quick glance. "Not exactly." Will said.

Julie laughed as they boarded the elevator. "Well, when you're in a rush, a McDonalds hamburger usually does the trick."

Deanna looked at her. "McDonalds Hamburger… as in real meat?" She asked.

Julie attempted not to laugh. "Uh… more or less." She answered.

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Seven

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Seven

The following weeks were hectic, wonderful but hectic. Will and Deanna had spent countless hours exploring their new world. They had learned most of the intricacies of 1983, but every once in a while something would come up that would fascinate them yet again.

Work was going well for both of the Enterprise crewmembers. Deanna was having a blast in the biochemistry lab, even with stuffy old Dr. Metz. Will in turn was enjoying his work around the hospital, including the interaction he experienced with the patients.

The two had spent innumerous hours with Julie and Denny. Dinners, trips to the movies, afternoons at the beach became common routine for the two couples. The more time they spent with Julie, the more impressed they were of the young woman. One night, Will and Deanna were having a quiet dinner alone and imagined what Julie would be like in the 24th century.

Neither doubted that she would be just as successful there as well.

On a completely different front, Will and Deanna's time alone together was becoming a bit overwhelming. The newness of everything around them made them feel young and rejuvenated… almost as they were on Betazed so many years before. But, they were careful not to cross that invisible force field that they'd erected during their first year on the Enterprise.

Deep down, Will felt a bit guilty at how many times he'd laid awake at night wondering what would happen if he did cross that line.

As for the real reason they were in Los Angeles, things were about to get extremely interesting. They still had no clue about Michael Donovan… who or where he was. Or, if he existed at all. But, considering that Julie was a real person, they were betting that Donovan was out there somewhere.

This day had been one filled with nerve and tension. It was the eve of the Sirian arrival on Earth. Both Will and Deanna were filled with trepidation regarding the events about to unfold. Their close friendship with Julie wasn't making the situation any easier.

They both wished that they could just sit her down and tell her everything. The chances that she would believe that they were time travelers sent to help her wage a war against a group of alien attackers were slim, but knowing Julie it would get a good laugh from her.

Unfortunately, telling her the truth wasn't an option. They had to continue their charade for as long as the mission took… consequences be damned.

Will and Deanna had taken a walk in the park with Julie earlier in the day during their lunch break. Deanna's stomach literally hurt as she watched the exuberant young woman, knowing that in 24 hours the planet could be facing possible annihilation. Julie was totally unaware that as of that moment, a fleet of 50 giant ships were passing Earth's moon on a direct path to her home world.

Deanna had cooked a small dinner later in the night but their jumbled nerves made it impossible to eat. Instead, she and Will chose to retire early to try and get some sleep before the big day arrived.

However, Will's psyche had other ideas. Having spent so many hours alone with Deanna, and even in a 'double date' capacity with Julie and Denny, his mind had again taken to dreaming of his Imzadi during his sleep hours.

This had happened to him several times over the years of course. He and Deanna shared a link that would never go away, and at times that feeling was overwhelming. When he was a young Lieutenant on Betazed, he had dreamed of Deanna almost nightly. The dreams had lessened over the years, but every once in a while would pop into his mind.

Suddenly, here in 1983 Los Angeles, they had resurfaced again. For the past week or so, Will would awaken in a sweat, the blankets kicked off of his body. Sometimes, he could swear that Deanna was there, in bed with him, looking at him in the loving capacity she had.

Of course, she was never there.

Other nights, he would swear that he could hear Deanna calling out to him telepathically. It had been so long since he'd heard Deanna's melodious voice in his mind, but he could have sworn to have heard it on several occasions. A couple times, he'd even walked to her room, listening at the door to see if she was awake.

She never was. At least, not to the point where she was moving around. He'd never be able to open her bedroom door and check on her for the fear that once he went through her door; he'd never be able to leave again. No matter how much he craved that at the moment, Deanna obviously did not.

So, he lay alone in bed, suffering with the knowledge that she was sleeping just several feet away behind a thin wall.

Tonight was turning out to be no different. All the intentions of getting some sleep went completely out the window as soon as he hit REM sleep. He dreamed of her, as she was in the Jalara Jungle on Betazed; young, beautiful, willing to share everything she was with him, psychically and spiritually. He could see her nude form popping out of the crystal clear waters of Janaran Falls. She would turn to him and smile, calling his name in her mind, inviting him to her warm depths. He would wade slowly into the water, and their nude forms would come together as the water cascaded down meters behind them.

To Will, this was his version of Heaven. Unfortunately, it also caused him to jump awake with a start. Before opening his eyes, he wiped the sweat from his brow. That was when he realized that tonight was different indeed.

Deanna was standing in his doorway watching him. Will's mind screamed in embarrassment. 'Oh God, does she know that I was dreaming about her?' He thought with horror.

"Will, we can't do this." She said quietly.

He sighed but didn't break his gaze with her. "I know." He said sadly.

For a moment, Deanna looked as if she was struggling to find the right words, however they remained elusive.

Finally. "Will, I-"

"Deanna, why are you here?"

Her expression and demeanor changed. Almost childlike, she whispered, "I'm scared."

Will's heart broke. He watched her as she began to wring her hands, apparently a new nervous habit she'd picked up during their stay on Los Angeles.

"Of me… or tomorrow?"

She looked directly into his eyes. "Both."

They both paused, neither sure of exactly what else to say. Finally, she continued; "No matter how much we may want to Will, I'm not sure we should. There's been so much hurt and hard feelings in the past."

Will thought for a moment, but decided to challenge her. "Isn't that where we are? 'In the past'."

Deanna didn't know what else to say. Honestly, Will didn't either. So, he did the only other thing he knew to do. Lifting his blankets up on one side, he silently invited Deanna in.

She smiled gratefully as she climbed gently into his bed. Turning on her side, she spooned up to him pressing her back to his chest, just like she'd done so many years ago by a quiet lake on Betazed.

This was a rather odd habit the two had picked up over their years on the Enterprise. Sometimes, no matter what the situation, nothing would make them feel better but to lay in one another's arms, drawing strength from the other's presence.

"I'm really frightened about tomorrow Will." She said quietly.

"I know. I am too. But, Earth fought them off one time before they can do it again. I have to hold on to that belief, it's what keeps me sane."

"I feel so bad for Julie. All of our records indicate that she was one of the leaders of the resistance… but if that's true, she's probably going to have to give up all her dreams to do so. She's so young, I'd hate to see her have to struggle with that decision."

"We'll be there to help her this time though. You two are extremely close, it'll be good for her to have the extra support."

Deanna shifted slightly to lay her head on Will's outstretched arm. "Maybe, for some reason I don't think Denny is going to be there for her."

"Really? They seem pretty close to me." Will said.

"They are, but I just don't see him as a rebel." Deanna responded.

"I can't imagine Julie as a rebel either." Will pointed out.

Deanna smiled. "That's true. There's something else though… something I sense in Julie every time we begin to talk about Denny. A… hesitation I guess you would call it. There's something always nagging at the back of her mind when we talk about their relationship… I don't know what it could be."

Will thought for a minute. "Maybe a bad relationship or something." He offered.

Deanna closed her eyes… wondering if she should actually say what first sprang to her mind.

'Hell, just say it.' She scolded herself.

"Maybe… just maybe she's holding out for the one person in her life that will be with her forever."

Deanna felt Will's body tense up slightly before he said, "Her Imzadi."

They were quiet as both their minds traveled back to Betazed, and a quiet time in the jungle after the first time they had made love. Deanna explained to Will what Imzadi meant, and he couldn't help but remember the feeling of serenity that swept up his entire being and handed it Deanna on a silver platter.

Laying as they were now, Deanna remembered when they'd first done this on Betazed. They were lying nude, next to a moonlight soaked lake and discussing RaBeem, a form of Betazed philosophy. Only that time… the closeness had a major affect on both their bodies.

This time however, there was nothing sexual about this encounter. There was no over intellectualizing, no challenges to give into their feelings.

They were simply seeking comfort in each other's warmth, enjoying the solitude while they could.

As she began to relax more, Deanna allowed her mind to open up. Gently, she telepathically reached out to Will's mind, seeking the part of him that no one else in the galaxy had shared but her. After several seconds, she found the spot that her soul cried out for so often.

She gently used her mind to caress that place… one that she once truly believed was her home. For some strange reason, she called out to him.

::After all this time Imzadi, can you still read my thoughts?::

Much to her shock, he answered her aloud. "Every word."

They were quiet again and as Deanna began to relax and slip into gentle oblivion, she was suddenly shocked back to alertness by the feel of Will's hand on her left breast.

Her mind cried out to stop him as her soul cried out for joy. All Deanna could manage was an audible gasp as she cursed her body for responding to his intimate touch.

To her embarrassment, she realized that he wasn't reaching for her breast, but instead was placing his hand over her heart, as if silently laying claim to it.

She closed her eyes and placed her hand over his as they drifted off to sleep, neither quite content with the way things currently were.

To be continued

"The History of the Future" Book II: Without a Reason To Live

 Chapter Eight 


 Previous disclaimers apply 


Chapter Eight

The following morning, Deanna woke slowly feeling more content than she had in a long time. She could have sworn that she could still feel Will's warmth in the bed next to her, but after reaching out she realized that he was gone.

It was probably for the best. Things had gotten a little out of control last night and if things had continued this morning, Deanna knew full well that her resolve would shatter.

Stretching slowly, she got out of bed and walked slowly towards the living room. Her senses were immediately assaulted by the smells coming from the kitchen. She couldn't help but smile. Will was trying to have breakfast waiting for her.

He smiled brightly when he saw her enter into the kitchen. Her hair was tousled in several places and her eyes splotchy from having just woken up, but he still thought she was the most beautiful woman in the universe.

Deanna returned his smile but didn't say anything. She moved quietly to the coffeepot and poured the two of them a large, steaming cup.

To be told, Will wasn't sure what to say either. Their thoughts and feelings had become so jumbled the night before, and he wasn't sure they'd be able to sort them out. However, he knew that someone definitely had to say something.

"Deanna, I-" He began, but stopped when he saw the expression on her face.

"Will please. It's going to be a long day, we really shouldn't get into this now." She begged, more for her own peace of mind than the fact that the day was vitally important to their mission.

He nodded reluctantly. Setting two plates on the table, they ate in complete silence. Once they were finished, Deanna cleared their plates and retired back to her room in the guise of getting ready for work.

Will went to his room, but instead of starting to get ready, he picked up the sheets that they had shared just hours before. Holding them up to his face, he reveled in Deanna's scent, still trapped in the soft fibers. He'd hoped for so long that a moment like this would come, even dreamed it. But instead of being able to share it with Deanna, they were barely able to say good morning.

Sighing, he dropped the sheets and prepared for the day ahead. Strangely enough, they emerged from their respective rooms at the same time, almost as if they were experiencing one common brain wave.

His mind was still a jumble. Unsure of what to do or say, or even how to act, he simply followed Deanna out of their apartment and down the steps to the street below. As they began to walk, he caught sight of Deanna watching him intently.

He looked at her questioningly. She simply smiled and projected to him, ::I understand::

Serenity settled over his clouded mind, and even if it was just for a moment, all was right with the world. Deanna reached out and took his hand in hers and they continued their short walk to the Los Angeles Medical Center.

Both Will and Deanna couldn't help but to look in the sky for any signs of an alien ship approaching the planet. But, the only thing that they saw was the bright California sunshine blazing down on them.

It was definitely going to be an extremely long day, but at least they had each other to help get through it. They watched people pass them, feeling terrible about the turmoil this entire planet was about to face.

As they arrived at the biochemistry lab, Deanna walked to her desk and looked sadly to Julie who was already settled in and wearing her lab coat.

Deanna shook her head and looked sadly at Will. She whispered, "She's so young, so full of life, Will what's going to happen to her?"

"Shh, Deanna, don't. We're going to do everything we can to help her get through this."

Deanna nodded as she attempted to fight back the tears threatening to spill down her face. He reached out and pulled her into a light embrace.

Julie's interest suddenly turned from the microscope she had been studying to her favorite potential couple on the other side of the lab. She smiled gently as she watched them.

Will gently wiped what appeared to be tears from Deanna's face and bent to kiss her gently on the lips. Deanna seemed to hesitate first, but hesitantly returned his favor.

He smiled and waved to Julie as he exited the lab. Julie hopped from her stool and rushed over to Deanna. "What was THAT all about?" She asked.

Deanna looked at her, but instead of smiling she frowned. Reaching out, she pulled Julie into a tight hug and held onto her for dear life.

Julie seemed shocked by her gesture but didn't pull away. Deanna seemed to need her support, so her support she would receive.

Miles away in El Salvador, freelance cameraman Mike Donovan was dodging bullets with his partner Tony Leonetti. The two were on assignment to film footage of one of the biggest rebel camps in the mountains.

Unfortunately for them, the army had picked that moment to attack the camp. Mike and Tony had escaped in a beaten up truck, but a bullet-firing helicopter was right on their tail.

Tony had already taken a shot in the shoulder before rolling the jeep. Mike, in a last ditch effort to take some of the heat from Tony, had began to run across a stream hoping that the chopper would follow him.

And, it did. In a last fleeting moment, Mike thought of his ten year old son Sean, tucked safe and sound at home with Mike's ex-wife Margie. Mike was a damn good father, even though he and Margie were divorced. He hoped that Sean would remember that if Mike didn't make it out of this situation.

Mike was trapped in a wide-open area, the helicopter lowered to barely twenty feet above his head. Unsure of what else to do as the guns aimed directly at him, he raised his camera to his shoulder and began to film the last few moments of his life.

Oddly enough, and extremely lucky for Mike, the helicopter suddenly lifted up and flew away in the direction it came. Mike was positive that a rebel assault team must have been moving over the hills behind him.

Turning, he was even more shocked at what he saw. A humongous flying saucer was flying over the mountains and towards his position.

Unsure of what else to do, he continued to film as the ship moved over his head and took position in the sky above.

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Nine

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Nine

Deanna sat at her desk trying her hardest not to stare out of the large window on the opposite side of the lab.

Her day had been tense and nerve wracking. After her earlier emotional outburst, she'd dodged Julie's questions and attempted to concentrate on her work. She muddled through, but the teasing clear sky outside the window continued to distract her.

Julie herself seemed distracted today. She was concentrating on something that she'd been working on for a while. But, she kept it to herself, promising that if things worked out the way she wanted them to, she would treat Will and Deanna to a celebratory dinner at her place tonight.

Deanna sighed. 'Fat chance of that happening' she thought, and realized that she'd managed to pick up yet another slang term. If she kept this up, Captain Picard wouldn't be able to understand a word she said to him when she was finally able to return to the Enterprise.

Dr. Rudolph Metz was working in the lab today. He was currently mumbling to himself about something Deanna could never hope to understand. When he was in this type of mood, everyone in the lab knew to just leave him alone.

Except for Julie. Deanna could sense that she was working up to something… she just wasn't sure what. Finally, Julie slid from her work stool and picked up the folder she'd been studying so intently for weeks.

"Dr. Metz, can I speak to you about something?" She asked hesitantly.

Deanna watched in fascination as Julie's excitement grew. Ruth was watching from her station across the lab, a proud smile plastered on her face.

Dr. Metz turned to look at Julie. Deanna always sensed that Dr. Metz held Julie in high regard. There was always a sense of pride in him when dealing with her. Deanna was sure that Julie's surprise would prove to be no different.

"Absolutely Juliet. You know I always have time for you." He said in his slightly accented voice.

"Well, I've been looking at the files for Formula T-2873." She started.

Metz smiled. "Your spare time?" He joked.

Julie herself had to smile. "Well, I think I've made a break through. I used it on the skin lesion Algernon got when he fell three days ago and had good results."

Dr. Metz raised his salt and pepper eyebrows and looked at her. "Well, show me."

Julie walked to the back of the lab and returned with Algernon's cage. The now trimmed down rat sat on his hind legs investigating the reason he was being disturbed.

Julie put on her gloves and picked him up gently. "Come on Algernon, show Dr. Metz your tummy."

As Julie angled the rat around so Dr. Metz could inspect his wound, Deanna sensed Julie's pride in her accomplishment.

"Remarkable, the lesion is nearly healed!" Metz exclaimed. "Do you know how long my research staff have been searching for that formula?"

Julie's face flushed as she avoided Metz's eyes. "Well, Ruth helped a lot."

Ruth suddenly spoke up. "Not so. She did it all herself!"

"Well, I was uh.. I was very lucky." Julie said with humility.

"The truth is Juliet that you are very very gifted. I have to warn you, Ruth and I are going to try to steal you from the medical school, get you into biochemistry full time."

Julie's cheeks were completely red which caused Deanna to smile. For someone who was so brilliant, Julie had yet learned to take a compliment.

Before another word could be spoken, Ben Taylor came bursting through the doors with Will right behind him. "Have you heard about them?! They're everywhere, they're all around the World!"

Julie thrust Algernon back into his cage as they moved to turn on the television. On screen, the face of Dan Rather appeared in midsentence.

"…but wherever the reports have come from-Paris, Rome, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Tokyo-descriptions of the craft have all been identical. And-" he broke off, plainly listening to the earphone as a voice updated him with the latest information, "I'm told that our affiliate station KXT in San Francisco now has this visual."

The screen changed to an image of a huge vessel gliding across San Francisco harbor. The vessel was so large that the Golden Gate Bridge looked like a child's toy.

"Yes, there it is-Good Lord, It's coming in across the Golden Gate!"

At that moment, the small group of people gathered in the biochemistry lab heard a low, pulsing hum, barely audible to human ears. The rats however, immediately began to shriek and run about their cage in panic.

Julie looked to Deanna worriedly. "God, you don't think-"

Just as she began to speak, Dan Rather's excited voice boomed across the television. "I'm now getting confirmation of another of the giant ships moving over Los Angeles!"

Deanna felt Will's hand reach for hers. They held hands tightly as the air outside the hospital was suddenly filled with the low hum of an enormous engine.

Everyone rushed to the window to watch the large craft move into the Los Angeles skyline. The ship was so large that it blocked out part of the sun almost like an eclipse.

Dr. Metz suddenly spoke up. "Well, with this emergency going on, I suggest we all rush home before the roads become too jammed. Be safe everyone."

He began to move and grab his files. Julie raced to her desk and grabbed her purse. "Ruth, Will, Deanna, need a ride? I have my car. It'll be faster if I drive you."

They nodded and quickly moved to the hospital parking lot. People were gathered in the street staring up and the now still craft. Traffic was moving at a much faster rate of speed than normal.

"Everyone's trying to speed home." Ruth commented as the four people jammed themselves into Julie's white, Volkswagon rabbit.

"Either that, or they're trying to get the hell out of town." Julie said as she maneuvered into the street.

Unsure of what else to do, Deanna laid her head on Will's shoulder, allowing his strength to be her guide. Once Julie parked in front of their apartment, she turned to them in the backseat.

"Be careful guys. I'll try to call later but I don't know what will be happening with the phone lines."

Will and Deanna nodded. She reached into the backseat and took Julie's hand in hers for a moment, squeezing gently. "You be careful too."

Julie nodded. Once Will and Deanna were outside the car, Julie threw it into gear and pulled away, throwing them a short wave.

Deanna looked at the large ship in the sky and sighed deeply. "Little does she know that her life has now been changed forever."

On board the Enterprise, Data walked into sickbay carrying a data PADD in his hands. Beverly Crusher was working in her office, but her mind was preoccupied at the moment.

"You wished to speak to me Doctor?" Data asked.

"Yeah Data, I've been doing some reading on the Sirians. Something struck me as extremely odd…"

Data raised his eyebrows in one of the human movements he loved to emulate.

Crusher continued. "Before the Sirians invaded Earth, they were involved in a decades old war with Betazed. Do you know what that means?"

Data thought for a moment. "Despite Counselor Troi's cosmetic alterations, the Sirians may be able to identify her."

Beverly nodded. "And if that's the case, she could be in severe danger! Why didn't Admiral Necheyev warn her before they left?"

Data thought for a minute. "If the Sirians are able to identify Counselor Troi's lineage, the entire mission could be exposed."

Beverly sighed and threw down the data PADD she had been reading. "Well, let's hope the Sirians don't get close enough to Deanna to have that opportunity."

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Ten

Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Ten

Will and Deanna sat cuddled together on the couch in their apartment watching as the events unfolded. So far, the ships had moved into position and simply stopped, as if they were waiting for something.

The people of Earth were reacting as expected. Fascination had turned to terror that slowly changed to quiet apprehension. The longer the ships hung silently in the sky, the worse people would begin to comprehend what was happening on their planet.

As afternoon changed to night and to the middle of the night, Dan Rather had finally lost his voice. Another anchor had taken over the round the clock watch of the ships, yet still nothing happened.

Around 4am, Julie had finally gotten through to them on the phone lines. She said that she'd spoken briefly to her family in New York, and that they were all fine. When asked if they were able to contact their families, Will and Deanna simply said that they had no family left on Earth and changed the subject. Julie mentioned that Denny had finally fallen asleep a few hours before and she didn't have the heart to wake him.

Deanna and Will had made it completely through the night and were still glued to the television. Almost sixteen hours had passed since the ships arrived and still NO word from the Sirians. The silence was about the drive Will out of his mind.

Suddenly, their phone rang again. Thinking it was Julie calling back, Will answered it but was surprised to hear the voice of the hospital administrator. He was trying to call in as many employees as he could.

Sighing, he turned to Deanna and looked at her apologetically. "Looks like we have to go to work." He said. Deanna nodded slowly and went into the bathroom to take a shower.

Across town in Malibu, Julie moved through her apartment collecting all the gear she'd need for a day at the hospital. Denny stumbled out of the bedroom dressed only in pajama bottoms and glanced at the anchorman on the television who had just announced that it was 8:00 in New York.

Denny frowned at the television. "That means it's 5:00 here. Julie, why did you let me fall asleep?"

"Don't worry Denny, they said Wall Street isn't even open. Good morning." She said, standing on tiptoes and kissing him on the cheek.

"Thank God, I'd hate to see what would happen to the market if it did." He frowned again at the television and asked a bit hastily, "Where's Dan Rather?"

Julie returned to her book bag munching on an apple. "I think he finally lost his voice. They're just doing recaps mostly."

"Nothing's changed? No contact?"

"No, Ray Bradbury was just on with Arthur Clark. Nothing solid, more speculations. Nobody knows what the hell to think."

"Are you going to the hospital?"

"Yeah, there's a lot of heart attack victims and suicide attempts. They need all the med students they can get."

"And how about stock brokers?"

"You would come to help?"

He nodded before answering. "Sure, I'd kinda like to be with you just in case."

Julie reached forward and enveloped him in her arms. Finally, he pulled away and said quietly "I'll get my clothes."

As the couple finally reached the hospital, they weren't at all surprised to see Deanna sitting in the emergency room fielding phone calls. Will was busy moving patients around, attempting to bring some order to the chaos around them.

Seeing Julie, Deanna smiled as she explained to someone on the phone that the hospital didn't carry vaccines to fight off alien viruses. Shaking her head, she disconnected the line and stood to speak to Julie and Denny.

"Glad you're here. We could use the help." She grumbled.

Julie smiled. "Hey, its not everyday people from another planet come visit us here in Los Angeles."

A harried looking woman rushed past Deanna and said, "Why don't you and Will take a breather while it's semi-quiet here."

Deanna nodded and called to Will telepathically ::Break time Will:

He looked up and waved to her. Julie had caught the exchange and watched them with fascination. Yet another side note to file away in her growing notes on Will and Deanna.

Walking down the hallway, Julie was surprised to see Ben, Ruth and Dr. Metz gathered around a television. They had been volunteering in the emergency room and was checking on the latest news when the reporter, Howard K. Smith announced that something was happening.

Will and Deanna rushed up to stand next to Julie and Denny as the strange sound began to play over their television. It was a hum of some sort, completely steady in tone and rhythm. The sound vibrated the walls of the hospital slightly, but not enough to cause any damage.

Finally, Howard Smith broke through rather loudly. "I'm told that WHAT?! Yes, there is a vocal signal coming through. This may be it; the contact we've been waiting for is being picked up of the frequency reserved for international emergencies. We're monitoring and-"

Suddenly, an almost human sounding voice came through the television, calmly counting down. "21-20-19-18-"

Smith continued. "There, you hear it, it's in English. No.. I'm being told that it's different languages all around the World."

"5-4-3-2-1… Citizens of the planet Earth. We bring you greetings and we come in peace. May be respectfully request that the Secretary General of your United Nations meet us at the top of the United Nations Building in New York at 0100 hours Greenwich Mean Time this evening. Thank you."

As Will and Deanna both rushed to make the calculations, Julie spoke quietly from Denny's side. "That's 8:00 New York time."

"Well, I guess this is it." Denny commented. Before anyone could say another word, the wail of approaching sirens broke through the morning hours. Everyone rushed back through the doors of the emergency room to lend a hand.

Across town, Mike Donovan who had barely been back in the United States for two hours was rushing for the NBC News helicopter that would rush he and Tony to New York City. NBC wanted the best there, so of course they had quickly contacted Mike.

And, much to his trepidation, he knew deep down who the reporter would be… Kristine Walsh. He knew that his success at avoiding her couldn't last forever. What a better place to meet up with a woman he'd walked out on than in front of hundreds of international media agents?

Sighing, Mike shook his head and attempted to sleep as the chopper lifted off and began the long flight East.

To be continued

"The History of the Future"
Book II: Without a Reason To Live
Chapter Eleven
Previous disclaimers apply

Chapter Eleven

Several hours had passed since the initial contact with the alien ships broke the terrifying silence of early morning.

Things at the hospital finally seemed to calm down as well, allowing everyone a chance to catch their breath before the big meeting at the top of the UN Building in New York City.

Will and Deanna sat alone in the biochemistry lab just staring at the gargantuan ship outside of the window. Neither had missed the irony in the statement "We come in peace" that had been uttered over their television screens hours before. Whoever that Sirian was, he was a good actor. There was nary a hesitation in his voice when he uttered that lie.

"You know what got me? When they said 0100 Greenwich Mean Time, I had to try and calculate what time that would be here. Julie just spouted it off of the top of her head." Will said, obviously impressed.

Deanna nodded. "Before the ships arrived, she was showing Dr. Metz how she'd cracked a scientific formula that his entire research team couldn't get after weeks of work."

Will smiled. "I can't wait to see what she's like when she actually GRADUATES medical school."

Deanna returned his tired smile. Reaching out to take his hand, she studied his fingers and the dried skin on his palm.

"Looks like you need to start taking care of your hands here Will. Your skin will crack if you don't."

He nodded. "My hands aren't used to so much physical labor."

Deanna laughed lightly. "It was nice of Denny to want to be at the hospital with Julie today. He was very helpful at handing out forms to patients and getting everyone settled."

"Yeah, he was a lifesaver, I'll give him that. He told me that he wanted to be with Julie in case the ships suddenly attacked or something. He really cares for her a lot."

Deanna merely nodded as she continued to study Will's hand. "But you still stand by your previous position?" He asked.

She looked at him sadly. "Yeah, this is just all speculation of course, but he's not the type to mount a fight of any sort. He'll sit in the background and let things happen. Julie, on the other hand, will not. She'll take a stand for what's right, no matter what the consequences to her are. Once things start to heat up around here, I don't think they'll be able to make their relationship work. It's teetering now."

"Teetering?" Will asked surprised.

"Yeah, they care for one another, enjoy being together. But, there's too many things unsaid between them. Julie has dreams of her own that Denny just doesn't fit into. And, there's something horrible haunting her. She's never told me what it is, but it's something that's always with her, nagging at the back of her mind. She had trouble trusting men because of it."

Will thought for a moment. "Before, we thought that maybe it was just a relationship that had gone wrong… you think it's more now?"

Deanna nodded. "Definitely. I've actually sat and watched her interact with people. Sometimes, a stranger will walk in to the emergency room… just a regular patient. He'll approach Julie and she'll just be overcome with this sudden fear and panic. She just pushes it aside and continues on. The whole time, her exterior never portrays a single bit of the turmoil going on in her mind."

Will sat and quietly digested Deanna's observations. It could become useful to them one day.

Before they could say anything else, Julie came pushing through the door with Denny. They silently pulled up chairs and just collapsed in them. Quietly, she whispered, "I think we finally have all the patients cleared out of the ER."

Deanna leaned forward. "Why are you whispering?"

Julie smiled. "So to not tempt fate."

Everyone laughed lightly and continued their visual outside the window. Several helicopters and jets were flying around the craft although Julie didn't understand their point.

Gesturing towards the window she said, "Why are they wasting their time? They tried firing missiles at the ship when they first parked there and the missiles just went astray. It's like they have some sort of electric field around the ships or something."

Glancing at the clock, Will realized that it was now almost 4:45pm. He looked at his counterparts hiding out in the lab.

"Well, I guess we should take position." He said quietly.

Julie threw her head back and wiped her eyes. "Whatever these aliens want it better be damn good. I was supposed to have today and tomorrow off from work and school."

Everyone smiled as they shared her pain. Walking back to the hallway where a makeshift television station had been set up, everyone watched the coverage.

Dozens of reporters from around the world were set up on the roof of the United Nations Building. Camera bulbs were flashing at the giant ship above the New York skyline, which looked slightly different than the one hanging over Los Angeles.

In New York, Mike and Tony emerged from the stairwell leading up to the roof and stopped cold in their tracks. Not even ten feet away, Kristine Walsh was there, apparently waiting for Mike to make his appearance.

"I heard you drew the TV pool." Kristine observed. "Me too."

"Yeah, I thought I recognized your deck of cards." Mike said.

"Uh, Hi Kristine!" Tony said brightly, trying not to hear the conversation around him.

"Hi Tony." Kristine responded, not breaking her gaze with Mike. Tony, seeing his opportunity, relieved Mike of the camera he was holding and extricated himself from the situation as quickly as he could.

"So, where do we set up?" Mike said as he began to walk past her. But, Kristine grabbed his arm and spun him around.

"You might at least have said goodbye that morning you left me." Kristine said.

"Hey I did. You were the one who was on the phone hustling up another assignment." Mike pointed out.

"I'm sorry." Kristine admitted.

"So was I." Mike said as he smiled in her direction. Yes, this trip to New York was definitely turning out to be one of the most interesting in his life.

Back in Los Angeles, the reporters on TV continued their observations of the ship that still just hung there.

The Secretary General of the United Nations came out as the time neared 8:00Eastern. The UN troops that were settled on the roof had their guns aimed at the helicopter-landing pad in front of them. However, the Secretary General indicated to them to lower their weapons.

"15 seconds now and he's looking upwards now as we all are." Howard K. Smith reported.

Julie had begun to fidget with her fingers as Deanna was wringing her hands. 'They're one hell of a pair.' Will thought to himself.

"A hush has fallen, not just here but all around the world as the clock strikes 0100 Greenwich Mean Time…….. NOW." Smith could barely keep the excitement from his voice as the clock truck the designated time.

Suddenly, he broke through, "It's opening! There's something coming out!"

The world watched as a large door opened on the side of the ship revealing a large hanger type bay bathed in soft white light.

A large type of ship, bigger than the runabouts of the Enterprise began to emerge. It was white and appeared to be composed of several modules. Will wasn't sure but he thought that it could probably hold at least three dozen people comfortably.

"The smaller craft is making its way downward now across Third Avenue and Thirty Ninth." Smith pointed out.

In San Pedro, California, ten-year-old Sean Donovan sat glued to his television as his mother sat on the sofa behind him. Sean wondered idly if his Dad was there in New York with all of the other reporters.

He was sure that he was. If his Dad wasn't busy with work, he definitely would have called Sean or at least stopped by. Mike made it a habit to spend as much free time with his son as he could, but the last two days had been hectic for everyone.

"Wow, it's neat Mom, huh?" Sean blurted with enthusiasm. Margie nodded shortly and responded with "Shh!"

In New York, the landing craft got over top of the UN Building and gently began to glide downwards towards the helicopter-landing pad. Reporters camera bulbs were going crazy as Mike tried to record every second of the ship's descent.

"Now the craft is drifting to a stop some ten feet in the air above our heads… Now it's landing… The air itself feels strange… vibrating slightly." Kristine commented the best she could into her microphone attempting to explain the scene in accurate detail.

A panel opened slowly with a loud hum at the side of the craft, just as the strange voice that had made the earlier announcement on television began to echo through the air.

"Herr General Sekreterare…" The voice was strange, human sounding but at the same time resonant and echoing.

Mike shifted his camera on his shoulder to get a better angle on the Secretary General who stepped in front of the throng of people, his face set with determination.

The voice continued: "Var intre raddkom upp for trappan." At the moment this line was finished, a metal ramp slid from the craft and rested securely on to rooftop.

Kristine's voice reached Mike. He was surprised at how calm and poised she was, especially considering his own palms were so sweaty he was surprised he could still hold on to his camera.

"I think the voice spoke Swedish-that's the native language of the Secretary General." She said.

In Los Angeles, Howard K. Smith said; "I've got the translation now. The voice said, 'Mr. Secretary General… do not be afraid… please climb up the ramp.'"

The Secretary General hardly hesitated as he began to walk forward. With a slight pause at the bottom of the ramp, he mounted it and disappeared inside the craft.

Deanna grabbed hold of Will's arm practically digging her fingernails in. He pulled away from her and wrapped his arm tightly around her slim body, wishing he could shield her from all that was going on.

Glancing over at Julie, Will saw that she had her arm and head resting on Denny's shoulder. Denny's arm was in turn resting around Julie, as if he was trying to pull off the same feat.

The crowd at the top of the UN Building was absolutely silent. Mike Donovan released a breath that he didn't know he was holding until his vision began to blur. He gasped for a few fresh breaths never once letting the camera waver. After all, the camera never blinks.

After several tense moments, there was a stirring inside the craft and the Secretary General reappeared with a broad smile on his face.

Kristine's voice pierced the silence. "There he is! The Secretary General is reappearing, apparently unharmed!"

At the Medical Center, the crowd behind Julie, Denny, Will, Deanna and the rest of the biochemistry team had continued to grow as the events unfolded. As the Secretary General appeared ready to speak, Ruth murmured "Now the bad news."

"My fellow citizens of Earth… these Visitors assure me that they come in peace and wish to honor all the covenants of our United Nations Charter. As you'll see, they are much like us, although their voices are unusual. They first asked me to speak on their behalf, but I felt everyone would be more comfortable if their Supreme Commander, who is aboard this vessel, spoke directly to you all. His voice will be heard around the world, in every language necessary."

As the Secretary General finished, he moved to the side of the ramp and turned back towards the craft. Inside the darkened vehicle, everyone could see shadows moving around. Suddenly, in the midst of the shadows, the face of a middle aged man appeared.

In Los Angeles, the assembled group held their breath as the man began moving down the ramp. Denny noted, "He sure looks like one of us, doesn't he Ben?"

"Outwardly." Ben Taylor noted. Julie hmmphed and commented. "Yeah, but that was no Nash Rambler he drove up in."

Denny turned to throw a slight glare at Julie who merely looked at him innocently.

Back in New York, Mike gasped and grabbed a tighter hold of his camera. He'd expected differences between the 'Visitors' and humans, but there were none! The man wore long black boots, reminding Mike of English riding boots, and a reddish-colored coverall that was cut much the same like a flight suit worn by pilots. There were five diagonal black stripes across the breast.

Kristine broke in. "I think that he's about to speak."

The man squinted against the glare of the flash bulbs and camera lights, all of which were trained directly on him.

"I trust that you will forgive me… but our eyes are unaccustomed to this sort of brightness." Reaching into a pocket of his uniform, the Visitor pulled out a pair of ordinary looking dark glasses and places them over his eyes.

Benjamin Taylor filed the observation away in his mind. "He's clearly NOT one of us." Will and Deanna looked at him and then to each other. ::Are we seeing the birth of the resistance already?:: Deanna thought to Will. He merely shrugged, meaning that they'd talk about it later.

"As the Secretary General told you, we have come in peace to all mankind. Our planet is the fourth is distance from the star that you call Sirius, some 8.7 light years away from your Earth. This is the first time we have journeyed from our system, and you are the first intelligent life forms we've encountered."

Deanna spun and looked at Will. ::He's lying already! By this point, they'd been involved in a decades old battle with Betazed! The Sirians tried to invade one of our outer moons causing a war that lasted almost 50 years.::

Will sighed and pulled her tighter into his embrace. They watched as the Visitor continued to spin his tale.

"We're pleased to meet you!" The man said with a warm smile. "Our names would sound peculiar to you, so we- my fellow Visitors and I have chosen simple names from Earth. My name is John."

He smiled again. "The Secretary General referred to me as a 'Supreme Commander.' Actually, I'm just sort of an Admiral, responsible for this small fleet around your planet."

"Small fleet?! Huh.. right." Ben Taylor echoed incredulously. Julie shook her head slightly and continued to listen. But to Will and Deanna, watching the events unfold was fascinating. They filed away as much as they could to write in their notes later on.

John continued. "We've sent other unmanned craft before us, some of which have monitored Earth for quite a while, so we could learn your languages-but some of us are not as skilled as others, so we hope you will be patient with us. We have come on behalf of our Great Leader.. him who governs our united planet with benevolence and wisdom… We have come, because we need your help. Our planet is in serious environmental difficulty. Far, far worse than yours. It's reached a stage where we will be unable to survive without immediate assistance. There are certain chemicals and compounds that we must manufacture- which alone can save our struggling civilization. And in return, we'll gladly share with you all the fruits of our knowledge."

"Unbelievable." Kristine said to Mike.

"Yeah." He said a bit incredulously.

"Now that we have established contact, we would like to meet with individual governments so that we may present our requests for certain operating plants around the world to be retooled for manufacture of the compound we need… And we'll reward your generosity, as I have said, by educating your industrial and scientific complex to the limits of our knowledge- helping solve your environmental, agricultural, and health dilemmas. Then, we'll leave you as we came, in peace."

"Talk about an offer we can't refuse, huh?" Denny said to no one in particular.

Julie was rubbing her thumb and pointer fingers together deep in thought. "I wonder what would happen if we did."

Denny looked at her in surprise, almost as if asking what her problem was. Will watched the silent exchange with interest.. 'Boy, Deanna had them nailed.' He thought.

In New York, John continued on. "I know that if the situations we reversed, and you came to visit us, I'd feel the burning curiosity to see the inside of your spacecraft right away. With that in mind, we'd like to have the Secretary General and several of your journalists accompany us back to our Mother Ship, for what will be the first of many opportunities to get to know us better."

Mike felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see one of the Secretary General's aides standing there. "You're card came up Mr. Donovan."

"Hot damn!" Mike said as he ducked under the rope with Tony and Kristine beside him.

Sean Donovan watched in fascination as the newscaster broke in. "The team which was selected earlier by lot that will provide pool coverage for the media consists of Kristine Walsh, the UN correspondent for the Metro group, Mike Donovan, a freelance cameraman known throughout the world for his work, Sam Eagan of the UPI and Wide World's Jeri Taylor."

"Wow Mom look! There's Dad! See, he said Mike Donovan! Look, there he is! I can't believe it!" Sean said as he bounced around the floor.

Margie looked unimpressed. "I wonder if this means I'll get more alimony." She said dryly.

In Los Angeles, the viewers watched as the media people selected began to move from the media area towards the ship. Both Will and Deanna jumped a bit when they heard the name 'Mike Donovan' announced. But Deanna couldn't help but wonder how he could go from being a freelance cameraman to one of the leaders of the LA Resistance.

Julie certainly didn't act if she knew him. At the moment, she did nothing but watch the television suspiciously.

"Boy, would I like to get into his ship." Denny commented.

"I'd like to get into his DNA." Julie responded.

Deanna had to bite back a smile. 'She reminds me of Beverly.' Deanna thought, missing her friend who was far away on the Enterprise.

As the reporters shook hands with John and moved on to the craft, everyone around the world wished the reporters good luck, Denny included.

As it lifted off, Sean Donovan whispered to the TV. "Good luck, I love you Dad." Using his small hand, he touched the image of the rising spacecraft, hoping by some miracle, his Dad could feel his support.

To be continued

Chapter Twelve

Three weeks had passed since the historical meeting on top of the United Nations Building in New York.

Amazingly enough, in such short time, the Visitors had become an everyday part of society, whether it be shuttles going to and from the motherships or the bright red uniforms moving through the crowded street of Los Angeles.

Although the scientific seminars the Visitors had promised had yet to start, Mike, Kristine and Tony had been treated to several trips to the Los Angeles mothership.

Kristine in particular had caught Diana's eye. Having just arrived back at Kristine's apartment in New York after their first contact, it hadn't taken long for Mike and Kristine to pick up their tempestuous relationship right where they had left off.

Meeting Diana that night had left Mike feeling a bit uneasy. It wasn't anything that Diana said or did; she was the perfect host, kind and cordial. It was something about her eyes. Mike always had the feeling that she was looking directly into his mind, reading his every thought.

That left him feeling completely uneasy around John's second in command. Perhaps it was just the situation he was in, but Mike didn't want to be alone with Diana, in any circumstance.

Kristine however had been enamored with the idea that a woman could be the second in command of such a large fleet of ships. Diana would be based mainly on the Los Angeles ship, so Kristine knew she'd have plenty of opportunities to get to know Diana better.

Today however, Mike and Kristine were covering the opening of the first chemical plant that was ready for the Visitor's use. Mike's stepfather, Arthur Dupres, owned Richland Chemical. Mike knew his mother Eleanor had a hand in pushing Arthur to allow the Visitors access to his plant. Eleanor did anything she thought would elevate her status in society.

It was just another in a long list of reasons Mike and his Mother rarely spoke. Today, at the opening ceremonies of the Richland plant, they'd barely exchanged pleasantries before the events began.

A smaller landing craft had arrived first, carrying the Visitor third in command named Steven, and Diana's closest aide named Martin. The moment Mike was introduced to Martin he recognized his voice.

'He was the one who set up the UN meeting'. Mike thought. He filed the information away for later use, although he wasn't quite sure why.

A local high school band was warming up as Diana's entourage took up positions on a podium next to Arthur and Eleanor. A larger landing craft began to descend from the mothership.

Once it landed, the band struck up a rendition of "Star Wars" as Visitors emerged in a single file line from both doors of the craft. Each Visitor wore dark glasses and carried large containers; presumably to be used for the large amount of chemical they need to produce. Diana watched over her 'flock' from the door closest the cockpit of the ship.

Dozens emerged from the first craft, each standing respectfully in a 'military line'. None of the technician's spoke, or made eye contact with anyone watching the event.

Once the line was finished, yet another ship began to descend down. Tony, in amazement whispered, "Mike, just how many of them are there?"

Unsure of why he did it, Mike glanced over to Diana whom had now taken position on the podium with the others. Terrifyingly enough, Diana's expression was one of conceited triumph.

Across town, Juliet Parrish was enjoying a much-needed day off. Later, she and Denny were going to Will and Deanna's for dinner, but for now, she pledged to simply enjoy the quiet afternoon.

She was standing behind Denny massaging his tense muscles as he read the Wall Street Journal. She tried to ignore the fact that Denny seemed to not notice her working on his back.

Actually, Denny seemed to have taken that attitude a lot lately. Julie couldn't help but feel as if they were drifting apart, although she wasn't sure why. She'd actually spoken to Deanna about it a few days before, and was surprised by Deanna's response.

"Maybe your careers are tearing you apart?" She suggested after listening intently to Julie.

Julie didn't know what to make of this statement. Julie always suspected that eventually, once she was finished school, it would indeed be her career that would separate she and Denny. But, for it to happen now when things seemed so settled between them was a bit surprising.

"You suggested that from what, personal experience?" Julie tested. She was always trying to find out more about her friends past. Deanna was a good friend, probably one of the closest Julie had ever had, but at the same time… she knew so little about her. Everytime Julie approached the subject; Deanna would expertly sidestep it and change the subject.

Will was the same way. It was almost as if the two had some deep, dark, horrible secret that they didn't want her to know.

'Hell, we all have those.' Julie thought wryly. Of course, Deanna had simply answered quietly with "Something like that" before suggesting that she and Denny sit and talk about their future together.

Smiling, Julie told Deanna "You sound like you ought to offer advice for a living!" Deanna's kind expression dropped to one of slight contemplation before she cryptically answered, "Maybe in another lifetime."

Julie wasn't sure how to process that answer. Deanna seemed to be having problems of her own, and Julie knew they centered around Will.

The two had been lovers once, but were now just friend. Why they were living in the same apartment was a mystery to Julie. But, it seemed to be causing problems for Deanna on an emotional level.

Whenever Will was around, Julie noticed that Deanna would withdraw from him. Not mentally of course, but if Will got a little too close to Deanna, she'd back away. It was almost as if she didn't trust herself to be in close proximity to him. Julie of course loved her two friends dearly and wanted nothing more than to see them happy.

Denny shifted slightly under her fingers drawing Julie back to the present. She drove her fingers deeper into his muscles, working down his spine.

"Mmm.. that's good." Denny mumbled.

"Well, after five years of anatomy it should be." She smiled before kissing him on the head.

Denny lifted his head and shook it gently. "No, I meant the market. It's really surging up. I think we have good times ahead."

Julie sighed and continued her massage in silence. Watching the television screen, she saw Kristine Walsh interviewing Steven. Julie studied him closely, looking for any indication that the Visitors were different than us.

'I wonder what their DNA is like… assuming they have DNA.' She thought. She wished she could meet one in person… maybe talk him into donating some blood samples.

Hell, that chance was slim to none. 'In a way, I'd have liked it better if they had purple tentacles or something. They even have the same racial differences' Julie thought.

Her eyes roamed the hordes of red coveralls, looking for any imperfection at all. Amazingly enough, she couldn't discern a single facial scar or blemish on any of them.

She didn't realize that her fingers had tightened on Denny's lower back until he jumped. "Hey, watch it honey, that's too hard!"

"Sorry Den, let's turn off the television, okay?" she said

"Why? This is a historical occasion."

She clicked the television off before sliding her hands around his body. "'Cause, I've got something better than making mere history in mind."

Neither of them noticed they were crumpling the Wall Street Journal.

To be continued

Chapter Thirteen

Robert Maxwell excitedly sat down to compare notes with his wife Kathleen. They had just attended a large party thrown by their neighbor, Eleanor Dupres.

As an anthropologist, Robert jumped at the opportunity to meet some of the Visitors up close. He'd been fascinated by their arrival, and realizing that they appeared to be so much like humans, he yearned for the opportunity to be able to sit and talk to one about their evolutionary history.

He was surprised to see that Steven was in attendance, along with a blonde female named Barbara. Every chance Robert had to speak to Steven, it seemed that either Arthur or Eleanor interrupted, almost stroking the poor alien to death.

Robert had picked up a few subtle clues that he was dying to share with his boss, Dr. Arch Quinton. That could wait however. Upon returning home, he'd realized that his three daughters, Robin, Polly and Katie were all out for the evening.

That left he and Kathleen home alone. It was such a rare occasion; he intended to take full advantage.

Pouring a drink for the two of them, he called out to Kathleen. "I thought it was a fascinating party! I mean it was our first close encounter with the neighborhood E.Ts"

Kathleen joined him at the breakfast bar and took the proffered drink. "Wasn't Eleanor just in the height of her glory?" She asked sarcastically.

Robert grinned, "Wallowing in it, I'd say. But, I am pleased she granted us the audience."

"I felt a little nervous when I first met him." Kathleen admitted. "Did you notice that his hand seemed very cool?" She asked.

"Sure, I tried to notice everything I could." Robert replied.

"Like what?" Kathleen asked, genuinely interested in what her husband's trained eye was able to detect.

"Totally avoids cooked food, only ate a few of the raw vegetables. Outside, we were being eaten by mosquitoes… he was not." Robert winked at her for emphasis.

"I saw you trying to talk to him."

"Sure… I learned a little. They're monogamous." He said with a smile.

"Oh?? Well, the woman that was with him, Barbara, she said that she wasn't his wife." Kathleen said with a large smile. "She didn't talk much… seemed real shy." Kathleen said with slight disappointment.

"He told me that their planet is much like Earth. He said he's no anthropologist, but he thought that their evolution was quite similar to ours. It was hard to talk with good old Arthur trying to stroke him all the time."

Kathleen giggled. "Oh, he couldn't hold a candle to his good old wife."

Robert's expression turned serious for a moment. "There was something else I noticed, it was real curious. Whenever he walked past the birdcage, they went crazy. They fluttered like mad, like… panic."

Kathleen tried to suppress the odd chill that ran through her body at Robert's odd observation. Deciding the change the subject, she teased, Well.. annnyway, I thought Steven was, uh, REALLY quite charming."

Robert's smile returned. "Oh really? Well then run off to Sirius."

Kathleen smiled and ran a single finger down Robert's nose, allowing him to kiss the tip. "Get serious." She responded sarcastically.

As the Maxwell's discussed their evening, Dr. Arch Quinton studied the file in his hand simply labeled "John".

He glanced at the large, blown-up glossies of the Visitor Supreme Commander, some of them marked with a numbered grid. Flipping to the back of the folder and finding his prizes, infrared photos of John, he compared the two.

Thoughtfully studying the photos, he couldn't help but shake his head. 'Something's not right here. The heat patterns are all wrong. And there's something about the skull, it's misshapen somehow, especially at the top of the head. I've got to get X-Rays of one of them.' He thought.

Picking up his pipe, he tamped and lit it. Dropping the folder into his "In" box, he began to feel weariness creeping into his bones. Standing slowly, he slung his jacket over his shoulder and began to leave, remembering to lock the door behind him.

Fumbling a bit with the keys to his Granada, he opened the door and closed it quickly, hoping to block out some of the cold wind that was blowing. He started the car and threw it into reverse.

But, as he turned to check traffic was behind him, he came face to face with a Visitor who was hiding in his backseat, the dash lights reflecting an eerie green color from his dark glasses.

Quinton opened his mouth to scream, but never had a chance to make a single sound.

To be continued

Chapter Fourteen

Deanna Troi stretched her weary muscles as she leaned back on the arm of the couch she was currently sharing with Will.

They'd been comparing notes for the past several hours, diligently recording all of their observations in spiral notebooks for later study by Starfleet Command.

So far, aside from the giant mothership floating in the sky above them, everything seemed to be fine. Although Will and Deanna knew the truth about the Visitors, the people of Earth had yet to become suspicious.

Well, all but a few. Deanna grinned as she remembered some of the wayward comments Julie had made regarding the aliens.

Her suspicions were definitely raised. She had even said to Deanna that she doubted any being from another planet could be exactly like a human being.

Deanna had merely nodded, unable to argue any points to her. As far as Julie was concerned, Deanna was as human as she was, and knew nothing of the dozens of alien species she'd come in contact with during her tenure on the Enterprise.

"How long do you think it will be before the resistance begins to form?" Will asked.

Deanna shook her head. "I don't know. We don't even know if Julie was there from the beginning or not. She definitely doesn't trust the Visitors, but Mike Donovan seems to be perfectly content working side by side with them. 'Something' must happen to change his opinion and lead him to the resistance. I just wish I knew what it was."

Will nodded. "Julie doesn't even know Mike yet. Their paths must cross somewhere along the way."

Deanna thought for a moment. "We just have to be careful not to interfere in anyway. We don't need to alter the timeline while we're here."

Will looked thoughtful for a minute. Turning to Deanna, he looked deep into her eyes. "It's strange, we've been here for a few months, but it feels like home."

Deanna was surprised by his confession, but not surprised. "You've always been content when you're away from the Enterprise, or any other ship. Look at the few months you were on Betazed. It never lasts."

She immediately regretted brining up their past, but now that she'd spoken the words, there was no way to take them back.

"At first, I was unhappy as hell on Betazed. But, a certain young lady changed my mind quickly enough."

"I must not have changed it too much, you left the first opportunity you had." She said quietly.

Will shifted his place on the sofa, moving closer to Deanna so that her legs were resting against his. Could this be it; 'The Talk' they'd needed to have since meeting again on the Enterprise.

"When we were in the jungle, I was ready to stay, or do whatever you wanted me to."

Deanna sadly shook her head. "I was ready to give up my entire life for you Will, but despite her actions, my mother was right. Neither of us would have been happy if we'd made different decisions than we did."

Will sighed and placed his hand gently on Deanna's knees. "I can't imagine it hurting anymore than it did the day I left you." He whispered, emotions choking his voice.

Deanna dropped her gaze to his hand, cursing herself for opening the door that she'd avoided for so many years. Their habit had become avoiding the topic, and Deanna felt that she was unable to do this. 'Not here, not now.' She thought to herself.

"Well, things worked out for the best." She said with a forced grin.

Will wasn't going to let her get away, not this time. "Did they really? Our careers are great sure… but are we really better off?"

Deanna didn't answer as she continued to stare down at his hand. Surprisingly, Will raised his hand to her cheek; gently lifting her face until they were mere inches apart.


He continued. "There were so many nights when I laid awake in bed, wondering what you were doing. Were you thinking about me? What would happen if I went to your quarters grabbed you and held on forever?"

"You never did." She whispered as tears began to sting her eyes.

"No, I didn't think you wanted that. I was afraid you'd push me away, send me out of your life forever. I wouldn't be able to work with you everyday, seeing you every morning, knowing that we never had a chance."

Deanna felt the tears sliding down her face but was unable to stop them. Sniffling slightly, she put her hand on Will's cheek. "Why didn't you tell me this back then? Why all the confusion and mixed emotions, missed signals? All you had to do was come to me."

Will's gaze wavered slightly before he answered. "I wanted to tell you. The minute I heard that Wyatt Miller was coming onboard the Enterprise to take you away from me. But you seemed so resolute on going through with the wedding I thought you'd moved on with your life. You were sad when Wyatt left with the Tirellians."

"I was sad at the missed opportunity. I wondered what it is that's wrong with me, why I've been engaged two times and been abandoned both times."

"Abandoned? Deanna, I didn't abandon you. I made a choice… one that I've regretted deep down ever since. You were the one who wrote to me and said that you didn't want to see me anymore."

"How could I? Will, you still don't understand do you? Our bond is forever. On Betazed, the complete sharing of everything, body, mind, soul, emotions, dreams, and regrets enthralled you. Once you left Betazed, your let yourself forget what that was like. You forgot how to connect with me, to send and receive using nothing but thought. For me, it's constant Will, our bond is ALWAYS there, a part of me that I'll never be able to ignore."

"Deanna, I didn't forget-"

"Yes you did!" She jumped from the couch inadvertently kicking Will in the leg in her quick movement. "You have no idea… NO IDEA, what it's like Will!"

Will sighed gently, hoping the momentary silence would allow Deanna a moment to calm down. "Tell me Deanna, explain it to me."

She shook her head, breathing deeply to regain her focus. "Never mind Will. It's late, I need to get up early in the morning."

Will hopped from the couch to stop her retreat from the room… and the conversation. "No, not this time Deanna. Don't run away."

Deanna became incensed. Her cheeks flushed red and her tears had become ones of anger. "You want to know what it's like? Will, being Imzadi is everything. We share absolutely everything. You have a dream; I see every moment of it. You have a nightmare? It's my voice that comes into your mind to gently lift you from the terror."

"You see my dreams?" He asked, flushing at the realization that she's always knew about the numerous dreams he had about her. "Deanna- I don't know what to say." He began.

"No, you don't. You never do. You've forgotten Will- I haven't. I remember what it was like to have your mind flowing completely into mine when we made love. How your passion would fuel my own, it's never been like that with anyone else for me."

"For me either." He admitted, taking her arms gently.

Instead of offering the comfort he'd hope to, Deanna instead pulled roughly from his arms.

"You think I don't know that? Will, Everytime you made love to someone else, every moment is forever ingrained in my mind."

Horrid realization dawned on Will. "You mean that-"

Deanna's tears flowed more freely now. "Yes, every one Will. Every touch, every caress you offered another woman, I got to experience with you. I just never felt it necessary to offer my thanks to 'Will The Thrill' Riker for all the new things I've learned over the years."

Deanna shook her head, intent on stopping the conversation. "I don't blame you Will. You didn't know, I never found the right words to tell you. I just need you to understand what I've been going through for so long. It's late, I need to get some sleep."

Wiping her face one more time she retreated to her bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Will didn't want her to go, he wanted to grab her and hold her until he was sure she was okay. 'My God, how she must have suffered. Everytime I pleasured myself and another woman, I've tortured the one person whose the center of my universe ' He thought.

Walking to Deanna's bedroom door, he turned the knob only to find it locked. Finally finding his voice, he called. "Deanna, despite what you may think, no one has ever been like you."

Sighing when he met silence, he went to his own room, leaving the door unlocked, just in case.

In her own room, Deanna tightly hugged the pillow she'd wrapped her arms around. "I know that Will… I know." She said into the darkness.

To be continued

Chapter Fifteen

The following morning, Will was a bit unnerved to discover that Deanna was already gone by the time he had woken. He was unsure of where she'd gone, but deep down he knew that she was avoiding him.

'This isn't good.' He thought. 'We can't perform this mission if we're unable to be in the same room together.'

Sighing, he went to the bathroom and began to run a hot shower. Glancing briefly at the sink, he realized that Deanna had been in such a hurry this morning; she'd left most of her toiletries on the sink.

He picked up her hairbrush, smelling it softly just to catch the smell of Deanna's shampoo. Her deodorant and perfume were still lying there as well, all subtle reminders of the smells he associated of being HER.

Sighing, he stripped down and stepped into the shower, allowing the hot water to pound down on him. He realized that he'd forgotten to turn any cold water on at all. However, he felt a bit justified in scalding himself as the memories of the previous night returned to haunt him.

Was he feeling embarrassment? Guilt? Shame? All of the above? He didn't know. Normally, he would talk to Deanna to sort out his feelings, but that was out of the question. Instead, he decided to head to work early, hoping to catch her before their shifts began.

He was unsure of what to say, but there was still too much unsaid between them. He longed to be back in that place they were several weeks ago when Deanna had slept in his arms, just relishing the feel of each other's warmth.

Unsure that they'd ever be back in that place again, he just hoped that they could at least find a sense of peace around each other.

Over at Richland Chemical Plant, an alien formally named Ahmed, now called William, stumbled around the plant.

He'd first been assigned to a chemical plant outside of Saudi Arabia. He'd painstakingly learned the Saudi language, even some of their religious customs.

But, he'd been informed this morning that there had been a mix up, and he'd be assigned to Los Angeles instead.

William didn't know much about Los Angeles, or even how to speak English for that matter. He studied a little before leaving on the transport shuttle this morning, but felt inadequate to handle the language.

Now, he was lost, wandering around the chemical plant holding his cryo-storage tank. He was unable to read any of the signs, and there wasn't another Visitor in sight anywhere.

Standing on the stairwell of one of the many winding staircases, William glanced at his orders and looked cluelessly around the plant. Walking backwards, he inadvertently bumped into someone coming down the stairs.

"Hey! Watch out where the hell you're going." The human male barked.

"Oh, excuse, help please." William asked.

"Help what?" The man asked, obviously annoyed with William already.

William tried his hardest. "I am just."

"Just what?" The man asked confused.

"Yes!" William agreed.

"Oh get out of my way, damn stupid alien." The human barked again before pushing past William and disappearing down the stairs.

Unsure of what else to do, William continued to wander, hoping to find anyone who could help.

Across the parking lot, Kristine Walsh stood proudly in front of Mike's camera; ready to announce the latest news Diana had shared with her.

"In response to overwhelming questions and requests of young adults around the world, the Visitors Supreme Commander, John, has formed the Visitor's friends. This organization is open to all young adults, ages 12-20, who are anxious to gain special first-hand knowledge of the Visitors, to ride in squad vehicles, and have special tours of the motherships. Visitor youth leaders will be coming to your neighborhood."

As Kristine finished taping the newest bulletin, Mike shuddered as he caught a glimpse of Diana's expression. Again, he was struck by the look of sheer cunning on her face. He sighed when he noticed Diana catch Kristine's attention.

"Kristine, I'd like to talk to you privately when you get a chance. I have a special request to make of you."

Mike noticed the pleasant tone of Diana's reverberating voice, causing him to wonder exactly how big this 'request' was going to be.

Kristine jumped at the chance. "Sure, I'm free right now if you'd like to talk."

Diana smiled and invited Kristine to the mothership with her. Rushing over to Mike, Kristine promised that she'd see him later for the special steak dinner they'd planned to have. Kissing him quickly, she rushed towards Diana's shuttle and disappeared inside.

"Some things never change." Mike told Tony, shaking his head as they walked away.

Inside the plant, William looked reluctantly to Steven, who was annoyingly waiting for him to arrive.

William had been lucky enough to bump into a human female named Harmony, or Harmy for short. She'd been able to teach him the correct term he needed, 'lost', and had brought him to the right place.

"William, where were you?!" Steven demanded.

"I was… lost." William said, proud to have learned a new word.

Still annoyed, Steven pointed upwards. "Get up there, you'll be working with that man."

William looked up the catwalk and realized with chagrin that he was assigned to work with the gruff human he'd bumped into earlier. 'The day just can't get any better' William thought as he began to trudge up the stairs.

At the hospital, Will had searched high and low for Deanna, but was unable to find her anywhere. He'd first gone to the biochemistry lab, but found no one but Ben and Ruth working there.

Ruth had informed Will that Deanna had called out sick, causing Will to panic slightly. Knowing that Julie didn't have classes until that afternoon, Will wondered if Deanna had retreated to her house.

During his lunch break, he took a cab to the beach house Julie and Denny shared. To his chagrin, there was no answer at her door, but as he walked back to the taxi, he caught a glimpse of Deanna and Julie sitting on the jetty outside of the house.

Tossing money at the cabby, he walked slowly out to where the two women sat. They were both wearing shorts and swinging their legs over the side, smiling at something one of them had said.

Deanna turned her head slightly and watched him approach. She'd sensed him coming, but had made no attempt to turn him away… or to run. 'That was encouraging.' He hoped to himself.

Julie turned and watched with amusement. "Oh Deanna, busted. Guess you caught her playing hooky Will." Julie said with a smile.

Will wasn't able to answer Julie directly, but focused on Deanna instead. "Ruth told me you called off… I was worried."

Julie sensed that it was time for her to exit. "Well, I'll leave you guys alone. See ya later Will."

Julie jumped to her feet and disappeared down the jetty and into the house. Deanna sat silently, not looking at him, but not wishing him away either.

Sitting at the spot Julie had vacated, he stumbled to find the right words. Finally, Deanna spoke:

"When I hold you close to me
Feel the breath of you, the wonder of you,
And remember a time
Without you
But only as one would remember
A bleak and distant nightmare"

Will immediately recognized the words he'd written to Deanna so long ago. She was repeating them from memory, just as Will could if he was asked.

"You meant those words when you wrote them." Deanna said, in a matter of fact tone.

Will nodded. "Yes. You knew that back then."

Deanna turned to look at him. "Do you still mean them?"

"Absolutely." He responded without hesitation.

Deanna turned to watch the waves roll past below them. After several moments, she scooted closer to him and laid her head on his shoulder.

Will closed his eyes, temptation screaming at him to reach out and pull her entire body to him. But, he wouldn't force it. He'd be content to take whatever she wanted to give.

Reaching into his special memories, he recited:

"The future holds such promise
And just as I cannot imagine how I survived the past
Without you
I cannot imagine a future
Without you"

Deanna smiled slightly as she continued to watch the ocean. At first, she wasn't sure of what Will's response would be. Now, she was still confused as hell, but Will had at least offered a bit of clarity.

Now, just what to do with that-

To be continued

Chapter Sixteen

Later that evening, Mike Donovan sat in Kristine's apartment fiddling with one of his cameras.

"Press secretary?" He repeated incredulously.

Kristine rushed past, quickly changing her shoes as she moved. "Well, they said I could call it whatever I want. Do you like spokeswoman better?"

"I don't like the sound of either one." Mike told her.

"Ohh, you're jealous!" Kristine told him as she moved past again.

"You know I'm not. I just don't understand why you want to do it."

"They want someone the public trusts." Kristine's expression turned proud. "And I think it's an excellent career move." She said in a cavalier tone.

"What about your objectivity?" Mike asked.


"You don't feel your compromising it by sucking up to them?"

She turned to him angrily. "I'm not sucking up to anybody. Don't you see that it's the perfect opportunity to get really inside stuff? Exclusive stuff that no one else has access to. I'm sure to get a book out of it at the very least! I'm going to stay objective. After all, I'm one of us, not them. Come one, any good reporter would be crazy not to jump at this!"

Kristine took a breath and moved to kneel in front of Mike. "I'd like to have your backing on this Mike. You know how much I respect you. More than that-"

Mike sighed and began putting his camera back in it's case. "You better put the steaks back in the freezer."

"Oh yeah, tonight's a problem because Diana wants to meet- Wait, how did you know?"

Mike smiled sadly and gathered his belongings from the floor in front of him. He left without a word and wondered to himself, 'Why does this seem so familiar?'

Several days later at Richland Chemical, a sudden explosion in the cryo-storage unit rocked the plant.

One worker stumbled from the unit with liquid nitrogen all over his clothes. As he stumbled into the railing from the catwalk, his hand literally broke off by the force against the frozen limb.

William immediately rushed towards the door where his co-worker, Caleb Taylor, was working. Another worker, Bill Graham, grabbed William's uniform and attempted to hold him back.

"Caleb's still in there! The liquid nitrogen blew through the inner seal- there's no way anyone can get past to reach him!"

Graham realized with horror that William had broken free and was rushing through the door. "William stop! For God's sake!" He called, hoping William would listen to reason.

William briefly hesitated to take a deep breath before plunging headfirst through the door. Graham watched in horror but was spun around as a hand grabbed his shoulder.

It was Steven. Unsure of what else to do, Graham shouted to him, "William went in there after Caleb!"

"What?" Steven shouted as he stared at the empty hatchway with a steady spray of liquid nitrogen blasting through.

Graham felt the need to tell Steven, "It's over 300 degrees below in there- they're both goners- Nothing human could-" Graham's word stopped mid-sentence as he noticed Steven's eyes. They were shards of ice, flat and cold, a huge contrast to his normally handsome features.

Shouts interrupted the moment as William appeared in the hatchway with a barely conscious Caleb. He was twitching uncontrollably as William lowered him to the ground.

William seemed completely unharmed, except for a few blisters on his hands and face. Dark cracks seemed to be furrowing the skin around the blisters. Graham looked at Caleb and realized that his skin didn't have the same lesions.

Steven reached for William. "I'm taking him back to the shuttle. Our doctors will deal with this."

"Don't you think-" Graham caught the Visitor's eye and stopped abruptly again. Maybe it was the vapors coming from the hatch, but Graham couldn't help but shudder uncontrollably.

At the Los Angeles Medical Center, Doctor Benjamin Taylor leaned back from the microscope to scribble a few notes on his tablet.

Ruth Barnes was working across the lab, labeling various Petrie dishes as Deanna studiously typed reports on her typewriter.

The door banged open loudly as Dr. Metz came through. "Where are those cultures Ruth? I can't proceed without them."

"They're not back from pathology." Ruth said quietly, hoping to quell Metz's temper a bit.

"They're running way behind today Dr. Metz." Deanna offered.

"I heard two key people didn't show up today." Ben said.

Ruth nodded. "Yeah, they didn't call or anything."

Metz stopped pacing to glance at his coworkers. "That's odd." He said.

Deanna stopped typing long enough to make a mental note to write this information in her notebook. 'Medical staff is beginning to disappear. Interesting…"

The phone next to Ben's workstation rang causing him to look up from the microscope again.

"Dr. Taylor." Ben answered, only half paying attention until he heard the voice on the other end.

"Ben, it's Julie! You better get down here. They just brought in your father." Julie hung the phone up abruptly and following Caleb Taylor's unconscious form into the trauma room.

After Ben rushed down to the ER, Will came in and leaned down to Deanna. "You should hear the gossip. Apparently, a Visitor went into temperatures 300 degrees below 0 to rescue Ben's dad. People are REALLY talking about that."

Deanna nodded. "Yeah, and people are starting to mysteriously disappear as well. It seems to be mostly people in the medical field."

"Why don't we go down and see if Ben needs anything?" Will suggested.

Deanna nodded as she stood from her desk. "I know Ben has a brother, Elias I think his name is. I'm not sure how easy he is to contact though."

As they left he biochemistry lab, Ruth smiled when she noticed Will's hand on the small of Deanna's back. She'd secretly been cheering for the two of them to get together for a long time, and this definitely was a good sign.

Realizing that there was nothing left to do until the cultures came back from pathology, she grabbed an empty Petrie dish and decided to head down to the emergency room as well. If it was a Visitor that saved him, maybe she'll be able to get some sort of hair or skin sample to analyze.

To be continued

Chapter Seventeen

One night after work, Julie, Ruth and Deanna decided to go out for drinks. They'd all been working hard lately, so they decided to enjoy a ladies night out so to speak.

Although Ruth was old enough to be Deanna and Julie's mother, she enjoyed spending time with the two younger women. Ruth had no children of her own, and with Deanna apparently having no family and Julie's family being on the other side of the country, Ruth couldn't help but feel a bit motherly towards the two of them.

They were currently crammed in Julie's white, Volkswagen Rabbit, with Deanna sitting in the backseat. When they got closer to Ruth's home, she began to tell them her news.

"You got a tissue sample from a Visitor's skin? How?!" Julie asked excitedly.

"When they brought Ben's father into the emergency room, there was some flakes of skin from the Visitor who saved him." Ruth explained nonchalantly causing Julie to laugh.

"That's terrific. Dr. Metz will be delighted." Julie said with a smile.

Ruth shrugged. "Maybe." She said.

"Ruth, wait a minute." Deanna said, stopped Ruth before she exited the car. "What's wrong?"

Deanna had sensed the sudden change in Ruth's emotions at the mere mention of Dr. Metz's name.

Apparently, you didn't need to be empathic to realize it as Julie caught the subtle change too.

"It's Doctor Metz isn't it? You really LOVE him, don't you?" Julie asked. Ruth merely shrugged as Julie plodded on. "Does he know?"

Ruth shook her head slightly. "I'm just a piece of lab equipment."

"Well, starting tomorrow, we're all going to go to work on him. And we'll make him see that Nobel's not the only prize he's got." Julie said, nodding to Deanna in emphasis.

Ruth smiled and pulled Julie into a hug as she squeezed Deanna's hand in the backseat. "You two are darlings. Goodnight ladies."

Ruth began to unlock the door to her brownstone as Deanna moved to the front seat of the car. She looked at Julie with a smile. "You love to play matchmaker don't you?"

Julie laughed as she put the car in gear and began to drive away. "I can't help it. I want to see people happy."

Deanna shook her head but continued to smile. Suddenly, the feeling of utter terror washed over her, followed by absolute silence.

Dead silence.

'Oh My Gods, Ruth!' Deanna's mind screamed.

She must have jerked oddly in her seat because Julie was looking at her strangely. "Deanna, are you okay? What's wrong?"

Deanna fought back the tears that were welling into her eyes. "Nothing…. I just can't seem to get comfortable tonight."

Julie nodded once and turned her eyes back to the road. Deanna could sense that she didn't believe her, but let the topic rest.

After Julie dropped her off, Deanna ran into her apartment trying like hell to control her emotions. Once she entered the room, Will who was sitting on the couch watching TV, immediately sprung to his feet when he saw her face.

"My God, Deanna, what happened?"

She ran into his arms, burying her face in his chest. "She's gone Will! Ruth's gone!"

He settled them both on the couch as they began to mourn their first loss in the war with the Visitors.

A few days later, Harmony was opening her lunch truck at the Richland Chemical Plant when she noticed William coming in her direction.

"Hey hero! Willy!"

Willy looked up and smiled. "Hello Harmony."

"Everybody's raving about the way you rescued Caleb!" She said smiling.

Willy merely shrugged modestly.

"They said your face was blistered, but you look okay to me." She said, looking closely at his flawless complexion. "Hey, you want a burger?"

Willy shook his head. "Don't you guys ever eat?" Harmony asked.

Willy nodded shyly. "Sometimes." He answered.

"Go to movies?" She asked.

"No, I have not. Not yet." He smiled timidly at the blonde woman in front of him.

"Well… hmm?"

Willy, unsure of how to respond, raised his hand to say goodbye and walked back to his workstation.

Harmy watched him go and sighed dreamily.

As Willy arrived at his station, he noticed Caleb Taylor working gently with a bandaged hand. "You are feeling fun?" Willy asked.

"What?" Caleb asked crankily.

"Feeling better…. Feeling fun?"

Caleb shook his head. "Fine!"

"Fine yes. Fine?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. Yeah. Look, uh….."

"William." Willy offered in help.

"William. I'm sorry I called you a stupid alien." Willy, unsure of what to say, shrugged slightly and smiled.

Caleb laughed and raised his hand for a 'high five'. Willy emulated his gesture exactly.

"No, no here." Caleb took Willy's hand and slapped him five gently with his injured hands. Willy smiled proudly and repeated his movements.

Things on Earth were definitely looking up.

To be continued.

Chapter Eighteen

It came without warning.

Everyone in the biochemistry lab was still upset by Ruth's sudden, unexplained disappearance. Julie was half concentrating on the work in front of her when she heard Howard K. Smith begin to make an emergency announcement in the television behind her.

"God, what now?" Julie muttered causing Deanna to look up from her desk.

"Ben, Doctor Metz? There's another bulletin on television." Julie called.

The four gathered around the television as Smith began to explain the story that was being brought to them live from Belgium. A picture of a distinguished-looking man came on, facing a steel wall of microphones.

"That's Leopold Jankowski! What's going on?" Dr. Metz exclaimed.

Jankowski began his press conference. "I have called this press conference today to reveal a shocking discovery. There exists, in this world, an organized conspiracy of some of our best scientific minds. The aim of this conspiracy is to harm-possibly destroy-the Visitors."

Julie, Ben and Deanna gasped simultaneously. The reporters gathered in the room with Jankowski mirrored their reactions.

"Impossible!" Metz proclaimed.

Jankowski began to speak again. "This organized effort to harm the Visitors came to my attention first approximately two weeks ago, when Doctor Rudolph Metz in California called me and asked to speak with me on what he called 'urgent and confidential matters'."

"What?!" Julie grabbed Ben's arm for support.

"I did no such thing!" Metz proclaimed. "I haven't spoken to Jankowski since-"

Sadly, Deanna realized that he was speaking the truth. He was genuinely shocked by Jankowski's proclamation.

"Other of my colleagues here in Belgium have also been approached by scientists," Jankowski continued. "Primarily those scientists in the fields of biomedical studies and anthropology seem to be involved. But we cannot be sure of how far this insidious contagion among some of our best minds has spread."

The assembled reporters began to yell questions at Jankowski all at once. He caught one who yelled " For what purpose?" And decided to answer.

"Scientists of many nations are apparently part of this insidious conspiracy. Their plan is quite simply to seize several of the Mother ships. They tried to convince me that it was to protect the human race and keep the military from learning advanced Visitor technology secrets. However, I am sure that their true motivation was far more personal than their avowed purpose."

He lifted a piece of paper in front of him. "On this statement, I have listed the events exactly as they transpired, and the names of all those who tried to enlist my help in this dreadful conspiracy against those who have proved themselves our friends. I now authenticate this statement with my signature. Copies will be released t the appropriate authorities that they may deal with each of the scientists on this list according to their local laws."

Jankowski ceremoniously signed their statement. In the Los Angeles Medical Center Biochemistry lab, the four occupants looked at each other speechlessly.

Within hours, scores of scientists around the world had come forward to admit either they were part of the conspiracy, or that those who were had approached them.

Dr. Jacques Duvivier, a Nobel laureate like Dr. Metz, had also come forward to admit that he was part of the conspiracy. Duvivier was quickly arrested and lead away by the FBI.

Not even twenty-four hours after Jankowski's announcement, FBI agents, along with several Visitor guards, showed up at the Los Angeles Medical Center to question Dr. Metz.

Deanna was at her desk when the men busted through the door. Steven, who was leading the Visitor officers, stopped dead in his tracks to stare at Deanna.

She quickly turned her head, throwing up a mind block as quickly as she could. She remembered from her history classes on Betazed that the Sirians were a bit telepathic, and if Steven was able to detect that from her, there could be major implications.

Instead, he looked away and ordered his troops to stand by as the FBI searched the office. Deanna tried to slip out of the door but was blocked by a burly looking Visitor holding a rather lethal looking weapon.

Dr. Metz maintained his innocence through the rudimentary questioning by the FBI Agents. He allowed them access to search the lab, knowing full well that there was nothing there to implicate him in such a conspiracy.

Deanna went to stand helplessly next to Ben and Julie as the agents ransacked every nook and cranny. Finally, they reached the filing cabinet, the last place they had to search.

Deanna sighed with relief. No one was in the filing cabinet more than she was, and she knew every file in there. Nothing there could implicate Dr. Metz, so it looked as if Jankowski's statements were indeed false.

Julie, Ben and Deanna were shocked when the agent pulled out a file that had been taped to the top of the cabinet. In it were notes from meetings, lists of names, coded messages, and maps showing the positioning of all of the Mother Ships.

Metz insisted that he didn't know anything about the file, and Deanna knew he was telling the truth. That file wasn't there just yesterday morning. She knew deep down that it had been planted.

The Visitors wanted Dr. Metz out of the way… and they wanted it badly. After receiving several more hard stares from the FBI agents and Visitor guards, the group informed Dr. Metz not to leave down. They all left in the Visitor shuttle they had arrived in.

Within days, almost every scientist who had been implicated in the conspiracy disappeared without a trace, Dr. Metz included. Law enforcement agencies were at a loss to explain what was happening, but Deanna and Will knew.

"All of the doctors implicated stand the best chance of exposing the Visitor's true nature. If the people of Earth find out that they've been lied to, the Visitor's cover story is ruined." Will explained to Deanna during a quiet dinner one evening.

"I swear that Visitor who came into the lab, he stopped and looked at me so strangely. I hope he didn't realize that I'm not fully human." Deanna said.

Will shook his head. "If he did, I'm sure they would have hauled you out of there right away. Just be careful, with Dr. Metz gone, Ben is in charge of the lab now. I think his suspicions have been raised for a while, so stick close to him, and to Julie of course. She's the key in all of this."

Deanna nodded. "I just can't imagine all of this going on, and Julie being the one to lead the group who put a stop to it. She's so young, her entire life ahead of her…" Deanna sighed. "And we still have no idea how Mike Donovan comes into the equation."

Will thought for a moment.. "I still think there's a lot more to go on here. The Visitor's were here for over a year before they were driven away. We're still in the embryo stage of the resistance."

She smiled, taking his hand across the table. "At least we have each other. That's more than any else can say."

Will returned her smile, a bit surprised by her statement. "Who knows, maybe one of us will be the one to come up with the key to driving the Sirians out of here."

The two continued to finish their meal as across town, their best friend's life was about to be thrown into a horrible storm of pain, doubt, and uncertainty.

To be continued

Chapter Nineteen

Julie slammed her fist on the steering wheel in front of her as she maneuvered her car on the street she lived on.

The past few days had been unbelievable, to say the least. Not only had Ruth disappeared without a trace, but Dr. Metz had been accused of being involved in a global conspiracy and had disappeared just as mysteriously.

Now, various governments around the world, with the Visitor's help, was instating a planet wide registry for Doctors and Scientists. Anyone licensed in any scientific or medical field had to register their whereabouts with local officials. If they were going to leave town, special passes would be issued.

Julie shook her head. 'Here I thought 'national registries' ended with World War II.' She thought disgusted at the idea she was no longer free to move around the country as she wanted to.

Long distance phone calls now required a permit as well. Prices of gasoline, electric, phone service, and groceries were all skyrocketing. Julie's parents lived in Manhattan, and she couldn't seem to land the proper permit to even be able to call and see if they were okay.

With so many people disappearing, work had starting piling up at the hospital. Everyone was working double shifts, including some of the minor staff. Julie shuddered when she thought about the incident with Deanna today.

She's been working the fourteenth hour of a sixteen-hour shift. Several FBI officials, again accompanied by two Visitor guards, had stopped by the pick up the registration forms from her and Ben.

The Visitor's had been insistent that Deanna register as well, despite the protests that she was merely a secretary. The FBI agents seemed to agree with whatever motivations the Visitors had, and waited for Deanna to fill out her paperwork.

Upon further investigation on Julie's part, she discovered that Deanna was the only secretary in the entire hospital forced to register. Was it because she worked in the biochemistry lab? Or was there something about Deanna Troi Julie didn't know about? Of course, there was a lot about Deanna she didn't know… nor would she ever.

Julie revved the engine willing the car to move a little faster into her driveway. She was supposed to be home forty-five minutes ago as she and Denny were having dinner with some potential clients of his. If he landed their account the possibilities were endless… including a possible partnership in his firm.

Throwing the car in park, she grabbed her bag and rushed up the stairs.

Inside, Denny cursed as he struggled with the cork inside of an expensive bottle of wine. Finally, it began to inch upward. It popped out… along with only half of the cork.

"Dammit!" He yelled as he slammed the corkscrew on the countertop. Unsure of what else to try, he grabbed a butter knife and began his surgery again.

Flicking on the small television that sat beside him on the counter, he began listening to the latest news as he tried to not stare at the clock. 'Forty-five minutes late.' He thought furiously. 'She knew how important tonight was!' He thought.

The reporter didn't seem to care about Denny's plight. He toned on unendingly. "In other news, while international police have scoured the scientific files for facts on the conspiracy, some startling evidence is being uncovered that many scientists who specialize in medical research in life sciences may have actually had major breakthroughs in research which they've suppressed. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee Chairman, Raymond Burke, had this to say…"

The picture switched to the Senate stairs, where press and flashing cameras surrounded the Senator. Denny dug another piece of cork from the bottle and watching disgustedly as Senator Burke spoke…

"Yes indeed. I do have evidence that new and revolutionary cancer treatments do exist, and HAVE existed for some time-along with many breakthroughs of enormous potential benefit to the world. Apparently our scientific friends have seen fit to keep quiet about them."

Of course, the first question that had to be posed came spewing forward from the hordes of reporters gathered. "Why?"

Burke shrugged grimly. "Well, I won't speculate, only to say that there's a lot of money to be made on research grants."

Denny shook his head, disgusted that anyone could be callous enough to withhold medical treatments for money. He heard Julie's keys jingling outside the door, but instead he concentrated on the final sliver of cork that was making its way out of the bottle in his hands.

The scene on the television switched back to the newsroom as Julie's key opened the lock. "A groundswell of resentment has begun to build around the world against the scientific community. In Stockholm, where the Nobel Prizes are awarded each year, a crowd of angry demonstrators-"

"I'm sorry I'm late! But the lab is really hurting and Dr. Metz AND Ruth have completely disappeared. I just can't-"

"Take your time." Denny interrupted as he reached forward to switch the television off. "They called to cancel dinner."

"Oh honey, you must be really dis-" She reached forward to touch his arm in comfort, instead he jerked it away without looking at her. "Disappointed." She finished softly.

"Yeah." He mumbled.

Trying to ignore his actions, Julie pressed on. "Well, do you think you'll still get their account?"

"No, I don't think so. They were… too polite.. ya know?" He said as he began pouring himself a glass of the wine he fought so hard for.

"I don't understand this. I mean.. how.. how can they TREAT you like this?" In frustration, Julie slammed her lab coat down on the countertop. Realizing what she had done, she stared at it as if an epiphany suddenly struck.

"Denny… do you think it's me? I mean, they know that I'm a biochemist.. and a med student." Julie also noticed that Denny was staring at the wine he swirled around in his glass, not making any eye contact with her at all.

He struggled to force a small smile. "Huh, no. How could it be you?" He shrugged before taking a large gulp of wine.

Julie felt her heart begin to ache as the implication weighed down on her. "Well.. you seem a little too polite."

Denny's eyes were again averted, this time to alleviate the guilty expression on his face. He wanted to be able to reassure Julie that she wasn't the cause, but he couldn't. Deep down… he believed it himself. And as horrible as it sounded, he wondered if Julie was involved in the worldwide conspiracy against the Visitors.

Trying to look at her, he realized that she had already grabbed her lab coat and was heading into their bedroom. He threw back the last of the wine in his glass as she disappeared.

Several minutes later, she emerged with her bag. "I'm uh…. I'm going over to some friends. Don't wait up." She left quickly before the tears began to stream down her face.

'Dammit, I won't let him see me cry.' He told herself as she angled her car back out onto the roadway.

Will and Deanna had just settled on the couch with bowls of chocolate ice cream. Deanna's initial plan after having worked a double shift at the hospital was to eat a nice, fattening dinner, complete with dessert, settle into a hot bubble bath, and just collapse for the evening.

However, she felt that Will was anxious about something. Unsure of what the cause of his anguish was, she decided to spend a little more time with him tonight instead of hiding in her bedroom as she normally did.

'Hiding in my bedroom. Now that's sad.' She thought to herself. Never in a million years would she have believed the need to hide from Will. But, with things getting a little tense between them lately, she couldn't figure any other way out of the situation.

"Will, what's wrong?" She prompted after noticing that he had yet to touch the ice cream in front of him. Instead, he was swirling it around the bowl.

He shook his head. "I was wondering what the Enterprise is up to. I'm sure they were able to help Beverly after the attack, but I wonder where they are… what they're doing."

Deanna smiled. "I miss it too. Although, not as much as I once did." She admitted.

Will seemed genuinely interested in her comment. "You know, I feel that way too. It seems the longer we're here, the more I feel like I belong here."

She sat up to face him. "Exactly! Between becoming so close to Julie, integrating with society, and going through this whole mess here on Earth, I feel like I truly belong."

Will thought for a moment. "You're the only reminder that I have of my life back there." He gestured to illustrate the future they had left. "With you here, I feel like a different man, in a different life."

Deanna watched him intently as his eyes locked on to hers. "In a better life." He added quietly as he reached out to play with a lock of her hair.

"Why do you think this is better?" She asked softly, already sensing his answer but willing him to say it aloud.

He did. "Because you're here, with me. You're the first person I see in the morning, the last person I see at night."

Deanna felt her face flush as her resolve crumpled. Her mind told her to stop this now, turn and retreat as fast as she could. But, her heart and body were craving for her to let it happen. Her soul ached for his to again rejoin it in the eternal dance they both savored so long ago in the Jalara Jungle.

One of his fingers had left her hair and was now softly stroking her right cheek. Instead of pulling away, Deanna took the chance and leaned gently against it.

His face was inches from hers and steadily getting closer. "God you're beautiful." He whispered barely loud enough for her to hear.

She smiled and readied herself for what she knew was coming. Just as his lips began to brush hers the doorbell rang causing them both to jump away from each other. She had been so enraptured in Will that she hadn't even sensed anyone coming to their door.

Once they were apart, Deanna immediately knew who was there. Jumping from the couch she moved swiftly to the door and hastily told Will. "It's Julie… something's wrong."

Deanna opened the door and immediately hustled Julie inside. She was in tears as she clutched her bag tightly.

"My God Deanna, what the hell is going on around here?" Julie demanded as she sat in a reclining chair across from Will.

Deanna's first thought was that Julie knew what had just happened between she and Will. Once her hormone induced haze faded a bit, she realized that Julie meant the world in general.

"Why, what happened hon?" She asked, sitting next to Will on the couch.

Julie tearfully outlined the situation at home as Will and Deanna processed it. "I love my job. I can't imagine doing anything else. What am I supposed to do, quit because these damn aliens feel that they're being picked on? If they don't like it, let them leave. Things are too strange right now. People are disappearing; politicians who seemed cool to the Visitors at first are now their best friends. If the Visitors are so technologically advanced, why can't they produce the chemicals they need on their own planet?"

Deanna shook her head as Julie's questions came forth. "And you Deanna… why are they so intent on keeping an eye on you? None of the other secretaries in the hospital had to register, so what makes you so special?"

Deanna thought for a minute. "I just assumed it was because of the department I worked in." At least, that was what she and Will had hoped.

"I uh… I didn't know where else to go. I couldn't stay there with Denny… he's drinking and it makes me nervous."

Deanna also sensed a feeling of guilt coming from the young woman in front of her. "Julie, none of this is your fault, you know that right? If people want to think that scientists are evil, then so be it. If Denny isn't man enough to stand up for the woman he loves, then he didn't deserve his precious 'account' to start with. He needs to think about you during all of this."

" I know.. it's just-" Julie trailed off at a loss for words.

Will cleared his throat. "Well, it was a good thing you came here tonight. Why don't you stay, get a good night's sleep? You'll feel better in the morning."

He stood and moved into the kitchen, getting rid of his melted bowl of ice cream. Retrieving the carton from the freezer, he scooped some out into a bowl and brought it to Julie causing her to smile slightly.

"Chocolate… my favorite." She said softly.

Deanna smiled warmly. "Mine too. Give me your bag, I'll put it on the extra bed in my room."

Julie looked at her strangely. "You have two beds in your room?"

Deanna nodded. "We were originally supposed to have a friend staying with us, but she took ill before we left and couldn't come."

Julie sighed. "That's too bad. I'd love to have someone to trade notes on you two with."

Will and Deanna looked at each other for several moments. They both knew exactly where the evening was heading before Julie showed up. In a way, they were both glad that she came when she did.

After all, they were here to perform a mission directly centered around Julie, not work on their love life. However, it now seemed inevitable that the two would go hand in hand.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty

Tony Leonetti continued to watch the tapes from newscasts earlier in the week as he waited for Mike to arrive.

The night he'd first seen the news report form Brussels, something had been nagging at him, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Finally, he figured it out and decided to show Mike his discovery.

Mike came striding into the room, wondering what was bothering Tony so badly. The moment Tony saw him, he pointed to a VCR unit and began to start the tape it contained.

Dr. Jankowsi appeared on the screen, bending down to sign the damning statement.

"Yeah, I saw this. I think it's all a load of shit. So?"

Tony paused the video at a close up of Jankowski's hand holding the pen. "Something struck me funny when I saw this but I couldn't figure it out. All night man I'm trying to figure it out when suddenly it hits me."

Tony started the second VCR unit that contained a tape Mike had shot a year earlier. "This is the tape we shot of Jankowski at that big science fair last year. Now, remember when I had him sign that book for my old man?"

Mike smiled at the memory. "Yeah." Seeing the serious look on Tony's face, Mike studied the two screens.

"Don't you see Mike, he used his left hand." Tony prompted.

"And the other day.. he used his left hand. So, he's ambidextrous?" Mike suggested.

"No! And neither's Duvivier, I checked. No Mike, until this week, they were both right handed. Something VERY strange is going on here."

"Somehow we've got to get a look at the Mother Ship, and soon. Not a guided tour, I mean a look at the whole thing. I'd love to see that area where they're storing the chemicals." Mike said.

Tony nodded. "Just like old times, huh?"

Donovan nodded slowly. "Yeah, but at least Nam and Cambodia weren't floating a mile in the air. We're going to have to be careful."

Tony stared incredulously at Mike. "As I live and breathe, the fearless Michael Donovan, the greatest 'cowboy' photographer of all time, is going to be careful. These guys got your scared Mike?"

Donovan's laughed held an edge. He sobered as he again studied the images of Jankowski Number 1 and Jankowski Number 2. "Yeah, Tony. I gotta admit, I have a feeling about this…. There's not going to be any room for slip-ups this time."

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-One

Floodlights lit the parking lot of the Richland Chemical Plant. A large Visitor shuttle stood with it's cargo doors open, almost inviting Tony and Mike inside.

The two crawled along a maze of ground level piping that spread throughout the perimeter of the lot. Finding a large trash receptacle facing the open doors, they hid behind it long enough to stake out the area.

Two Visitor technicians were working near the small tanks. Two humans wearing hard hats were helping the technicians load the last of the chemicals for the day.

Tony surveyed the number of people working around the shuttle and began to have second thoughts. "Look, uh Mike…. Don't you think it would be a good idea if we just took a squad vehicle like we usually do?"

Mike shook his head slightly. "This way they won't know we're onboard. We've got a better chance of finding out what's going on."

The Visitors finished loading the shuttle's tanks and removed the large pipe with an audible "shoop" sound. As the aliens moved inside the shuttle, Mike whispered to Tony "Okay, they've got the last of the chemical loaded onboard. Get ready."

The shuttle doors began to close and Mike sprung into action. "Now!" He called and jumped over the pipes in front of his feet and ran quickly towards the shuttle.

Unfortunately for Tony, he wasn't as graceful on his feet. He fell over the piping into the soft dirt.

"Ugh, Mike!" He called noticing that Donovan was jumping into the closing doors of the shuttle already. Running as fast as he could, Tony made it to the doors just quick enough for Mike to grab his hands.

"Come on, come on!" Mike whispered loudly trying his hardest to pull his friend inside.

"I can't get my foot up!" Tony insisted before completely losing his grip and falling to the ground. The doors closed completely locking Tony outside and Mike inside.

Tony ran back to their hiding place and settled in to wait for Mike to get back.

Inside the shuttle, Mike hid behind some of the storage containers cradling his camera close to him. Once onboard the mothership he would have to exit the shuttle quickly before he was discovered.

The moment the doors opened, Mike ran off and hid behind a pile of storage cylinders. Overhead, a female Visitor's voice droned over a loudspeaker. "Tanker Unit 14, stand by for venting operation."

Mike started rolling his camera when he saw the Visitors who were on the same shuttle he was taking out a large pipe. Hooking it to the storage tanks on the shuttle, they hooked the other end to an air duct on the floor.

A male technician told two of the others. "What a waste of time this is bringing all these chemicals up here and dumping them out."

Mike watched the operation closely through his camera thoroughly confused. Feeling a breeze blowing against him, he realized that a large grate behind him must be an airshaft.

Climbing down the ladder into the main shaft, Mike was surprised to find that he could stand full height in the winding tunnels before him. He began walking, peeking through various smaller grates that lead into hallways and private crew quarters.

Looking through one grate, he saw something that piqued his interest. One of the "off limit" areas, supposedly due to radiation, was about to be entered by two Visitors, not wearing any type of protective suits. In their hands, they held a crystal clear key-like device that Mike had seen before.

One day, a Visitor known as Martin had been flying Mike to see his son. On the floor at Mike's feet, laid one of the same keys. He originally picked it up intending to give it to Martin, but instead, he kept it and gave it to Sean as a souvenir.

At the time, Mike had no idea what the little trinket was. Now, he knew that he needed to get that key back and sneak onboard again to get into that special section. However, for now he would have to make due with what he could observe and document.

Moving along the shaft, he saw light coming through another smaller grate and stopped to take a look. Inside, a Visitor female was relaxing on her bunk, reading what appeared to be a book. She was wearing nothing more than what on Earth would be termed as a tank top and underwear.

Not wanting to think of himself as a peeping Tom, he moved on. He heard voices coming a little further down the endless maze he was caught up in, and was delighted to discover it was Diana and Steven.

Diana was wearing some sort of silk garment, perhaps a robe or nightgown. It was open at the throat and went all the way down between her breasts, giving Mike a nice peek at forbidden fruit.

Mike had met Steven briefly a few times. The Visitor officer spent most of his time between the Richland Plant and Eleanor Dupres' home, two places Mike tried to avoid.

"You must be please Diana. We're well on our way to securing all of the continents." Steven was telling a pacing Diana.

She smiled vainly. "Well, let's just say it pleases me to serve our leader with whatever minor talents I may possess." The smirk on her face made Mike wonder exactly she was doing to 'serve' him.

Thanking the maker of his camera that it ran silently, he began filming the two officers in the lab before him.

Diana moved across the room to a clear plexiglass cabinet that contained a variety of small animals. 'Lab animals.' Mike thought as he watched Diana extract a brown and white guinea pig. The animal squeaked as she walked out of camera view with it.

"John told me that the leader was quite please with your conversion process." Steven said.

"Yes… but you know how impatient our leader can be." She said hastily as she moved back into view, sans guinea pig.

"Even with you? I'm sorry but I thought given the intimacy of your relationship with him he might-" Steven stopped when he saw the angry expression on Diana's face.

"Be very careful Steven." Diana warned him.

"I just hate to see you so distressed." Steven responded apologetically.

Diana sighed in frustration. "He just doesn't understand that my conversion process is still limited. It doesn't work the same on every human subject."

"No, but when it does work, like with Duvivier, Jankowski and the others, it's remarkable." Steven said.

Diana reached into the cabinet and extracted a frog. 'What the hell kind of experiment is she doing?' Mike thought as he watched her move out of eyesight again.

"Yes it is." Diana agreed.

"They actually believe a conspiracy exists, some of them believe they were actually a part of it!" Steven smiled.

'I've got to get this tape on the air!' Mike thought excitedly. He briefly considered leaving, but decided to stay for just a few more moments when he saw Steven moving over towards the animals.

"The operations working perfectly. The scientists are being ostracized-disorganized throughout the world."

Mike watched as Steven extracted a small white mouse from the cabinet and lifted it slightly in the air. His back was still turned so Mike couldn't see what was going on.

"The problem is, our leader says 'Why not convert them all?' He doesn't understand that human will is much tougher than we bargained for- converting them all would take forever. However, we will continue to refine the process."

Mike gasped in horror when Steven turned around. The mouse's hind end was protruding from Steven's mouth; it's little legs still wiggling as if trying to escape the Visitor's mouth. With an audible gulp, its thrashing tail disappeared.

Diana's words continued as Mike did what he could to not begin hyperventilating. "It's important that we learn the most effective and efficient methods to be used against them."

She moved towards the cabinet and removed another fluffy guinea pig. As the horrified creature struggled, she opened her mouth-wider, and wider, and wider- until her jawbone had seemingly completely dislocated, and she lowered the frantic animal to her lips.

Mike clamped his teeth hard on his lips, begging his turning stomach to not erupt. However, almost like a car accident you can't help but look at, he continued to watch as the large bulge moved down Diana's throat until it disappeared.

'What the hell are these things?!' His mind screamed. His body was trembling uncontrollably as he turned quickly and tried to find his way back to the shuttle bay.

He passed the grill closest to Diana's room and paused to peer in. Inside, a male Visitor stood at a sink of sorts, doing something to his eyes.

Donovan recognized the pose from Kristine when he used to watch her mess with her contact lenses. There was a plastic case next to the alien that contained a small, round half-circle with a blue center sitting on one of the raised surfaces inside the case. As Mike watched and filmed the Visitor placed another of the things next to the first. They looked like eyeballs- as though he wore human eyes like Kristine wore contact lenses. And even though Mike had braced himself, he was totally unprepared for the shock of what he saw- the Visitor's eyes were reddish-orange, with black vertically slit pupils!

The thing let out a hissing gasp of surprise, and then reached for the grill. He tore it from the metal frame and grabbed the cameraman, ripping him and his camera from the safety of their hiding spot.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Two

Mike Donovan had the oddest sensation of flying before he landed badly on a cot in the Visitor's quarters. Mike grabbed wildly for support of any kind, before lashing out with his legs and connecting with the advancing Visitor's midsection.

The alien hurled backwards. Such a blow would have disabled any human man, but this 'thing' recovered immediately and began his advance again. Mike couldn't help but compare those horrible eyes to bloody pools in a darkened room.

Mike tossed his precious camera on to the bunk as he dove into action. As the Visitor lashed out and grabbed Donovan's shoulder, Mike ducked and was able to deflect most of the blow. He slammed his best shot, a hard left, into the Visitor's face…it didn't even faze him.

As they grappled in the small cabin, Mike was able to get his fingers around the creature's throat. However, at the same time, the Visitor wrapped his hands around Donovan's throat and began to squeeze the life out of him.

The Visitor opened his mouth slightly, and Donovan had only a quick glance at the horror before him. Inside the alien's mouth were two sets of teeth, barely flashing before something lashed out at Mike.

Dry and red, it flew from the creature's mouth, spattering drops of some sort of burning liquid. 'My God, it's got to be a foot long or more!' Mike thought desperately.

The forked tongue lashed again causing Mike's reflexes to take over. He was able to bring a knee up and land another viscous blow to the creature's stomach.

Instead of it hurting the alien, it did nothing more but piss it off more. Mike panicked and grabbed madly at the creature's slitted eyes, seeking to at least blind it so he could escape. Mike realized that his own vision was beginning to blur from lack of air as the alien tightened it's grip on Mike's throat even more.

His fingers literally SANK into the alien's skin. Stunned, Mike realized that the skin was coming off of it's face and was now hanging like a flap.

Underneath was a large, greenish-black oily patch of skin. Reptilian skin.

In shock, Mike continued to rip at the skin until it's face was completely exposed. Praying to god that his camera was still running, he forced the creature's face towards the lens.

The rest of the face sheared off in sticky, plastic-stretching strings, almost like mozzarella cheese on a pizza. The alien's false hair flopped back revealing a crested head. As the alien's tongue lashed in and out, it began to emanate a cross between a slurring/hissing sound.

Mike then realized it was calling for help. 'They can't speak their own language with those damn masks on!' Mike told himself.

He finally managed to land two shots to the Visitor's head staggering the alien slightly. Mike grabbed his camera and clubbed the creature brutally in the head with it. It finally slipped and fell.

Forcing his steps, Mike moved back into the air duct and back towards the shuttle bay. He could feel blood trickling down his face, and pinpoint pain starting to form where the creature had spit on him.

Luckily for Mike, a craft was preparing to lift off. Several technicians stood outside as a pulsing sound began to reverberate through the ship.

"Emergency". Said the announcer. "Emergency on level seventy-three. Emergency. Intruder alert on level seventy-three." The cargo bay doors began to rise as two Visitor's hastened away from the shuttle.

One of the pilots outside the shuttle turned to another. "I'm so tired of these drills. Let's go before we have to sit here and wait through another one." The two of them nodded and boarded into the pilot's compartment, leaving the bay deserted for the moment.

Mike waited one more precious second, not believing his luck. He dove forward and raced for the cargo doors before they finished closing.

One of the doors nailed his shin with brute force, but at least he landed inside the ship. He blinked away tears of pain… or thanksgiving. He wasn't sure which they were. And at this point, he didn't care.

The felt the familiar feel as the shuttle lifted up from the mothership and began it's decent towards terra firma.

Once the shuttle landed Mike was able to limp off and collapse near where Tony was still hiding. "Mike! What happened to you?!" Tony sounded horrified. "You look like hell!"

Mike stood and staggered slightly. "Feel like it too. I'm glad to see you buddy. Let's get over to the studio. I've gotta see what's on this tape."


Mike shook his head. "If I try and tell you, you'll think I'm crazy. Or drunk. I hardly believe it myself. We've gotta see this tape."

Reaching Tony's car, they climbed in. Mike stared at the lighted digital clock incredulously. "Is this thing right? It can't be!"

Tony started the car and steered out of the plant. "What?"

"You mean I was only up there for twenty-five minutes?!"

Tony nodded. "Yep. Seem longer?"

Mike sat quietly as the streets of Los Angeles passed by outside. 'My God, what have we gotten ourselves into?' He wondered before drifting off to sleep.

Barely an hour later, Will and Deanna were nestled on their sofa watching a rerun that they'd both seen two times before.

Will glances at the clock and realized that he was downright exhausted. It was barely past ten, but with the long hours he'd spent at the hospital mixed in with his sleepless nights, he felt like he could sleep until the coming of the new millennium.

Deanna had leaned against his shoulder a while ago and was now still. He glanced down to see if she had fallen asleep.

She hadn't. Instead, she was staring at him oddly. He grinned slightly. "Something I can help you with beautiful?"

She smiled slightly… perhaps Will was imagining it, but he could have sworn her smile was… seductive. He loved it… enjoyed it. He missed being able to have this type of banter with Deanna. When they were on the Enterprise, living in their "officer" personas, the ground they now treaded on was completely off limits. It seemed that once they were off of the Enterprise, their alternate personas dropped, and they were once again the lovers their souls craved them to be.

"No, I'm just looking at you." She said softly.

Will waited for a further explanation, but none was forthcoming. Instead, she began to trace his cheek with her fingertips.

"I missed this." He whispered to her. She furrowed her eyebrows in question causing him to smile. "Feeling your touch like this. It's been too long."

Deanna stopped for a moment as her memory returned her to the night that Admiral Riker had been whisked back into the future after saving her life. Will had come to her bearing a small token of his heart. Before the night was done, they had both lost control of the wall they'd built around their emotions. They became lovers again, if only for one night.

The following morning, Captain Picard's voice had woke them early causing them to both jump from Deanna's bed like two teenagers caught by their parents. Realizing what had happened that damndable wall began to erect itself into place once again. They promised to get together after their shift to talk about it… only they never did. Instead, they tried to forget it happened, just like that had on so many occasions before.

However, Deanna couldn't forget. So many nights before she had lain in her bed dreaming of Will coming to her, dedicating his entire life to her and in one instant, re-establishing a bond that billions dreamed of, but only they could share.

It never happened; Will never made that pledge to her, she never made that pledge to him, and the night became a part of their 'it didn't happen' memories.

Of course, it wasn't that easy. They did remember. To this day, she would awaken from a dream and swear she could feel Will's gentle caresses all over her body. But he'd never be there. Sometimes, she would awaken from a sweet dream of Will making love to her and her senses would immediately realize that he was with someone else. Would he touch her like he touched Deanna? Would he whisper the same promises to that woman, knowing deep down that he would never provide them for her?

She lay in bed on countless occasions in tears, trying to block her Imzadi from her mind if only to keep her own sanity.

However, the situation was changed now. William Riker and Deanna Troi aren't Starfleet officers here. As a matter of fact, Starfleet doesn't even exist yet.

Here, they are nothing more than two friends living together in an apartment. They go to work everyday, come home every night, almost living their lives like a married couple.

They never take that final step, and Deanna at first thought they never would. However, Will had changed so much in the past several years. His goals in life had changed, and he'd made it perfectly clear several times that Deanna was part of his 'new life'.

So, what was stopping her? Fear? The sense of rejection and abandonment that she experienced so many years ago? 'Will I be able to keep my sanity if history repeats itself'? She wondered.

Suddenly, the thought struck her as funny. Of course, they were living in the past… literally. History does repeat itself, over and over in various timelines. Would it repeat itself for them again?

She looked up again to realize that Will was still watching her. She smiled and continued to stroke his cheek. "This is so familiar." She said finally.

"What?" He asked with genuine interest.

"The feel of you, the softness of your skin." She took a deep breath and pressed her head a little tighter into his shoulder. "The sense of the person you've become."

Deanna expected Will to ask about that 'person'. Surprising her, he didn't. Instead he wrapped his arm tighter around her back and sank deeper into the couch. "Thank you for noticing."

His answer shocked her. Her fingers stopped their ministrations as she stared at him incredulously. "What do you mean?"

Will sighed slightly and, using his free hand, pushed his hair from his forehead as if it was a nervous reaction.

"When you became…involved… with Worf, it opened my eyes to something. He was capable of providing you with everything you wanted, needed, and deserved. I took a long hard look at myself, but that's nothing new. I'd done that dozens of times… all because of you." He stopped momentarily to smile warily at her. He brought his free hand up to her face and placed a finger on her nose.

He continued. "But this time, it was different. I was scared. I thought for sure that he had taken you away, especially when he announced your engagement in Ten Forward. I felt like dying right on the spot."

"You were on your way over to talk to me." She said matter of factly.

"Yes." He admitted. "But I couldn't do it to you… I had to be sure that I could give you everything you wanted. I thought I could, but I wouldn't risk hurting you again. Once your engagement was broken, I thought that I'd been given another chance. I HAD to make it a good one."

"So why did you wait so long?" She asked.

He thought for a minute and grinned slightly. "As crazy as this sounds, I didn't want to rush you. And now we're here."

Deanna nodded in understanding. A momentary lapse of self-control caught her. Instead of fighting to get it back, her mind said 'the hell with it' and threw her body into motion.

She put her hand on his cheek, rubbing his beard gently. From his chin she dropped to his broad chest, her body immediately reacting to the feel of the muscles under his shirt. She continued the reaffirmation of his body to her touch until she reached the waistband of his jeans.

She stopped shyly and moved her head to look down at his pants. "I have to admit right here and now… I really like these jeans on you."

Will laughed and took the chance. He leaned down slowly to move towards her lips. The world around them shattered into a million pieces as their lips touched. His hand that had been resting on her back rose to the back of her head, pulling their bodies together.

Deanna immediately forgot all her concerns. Her anxiety and fear dissipated immediately when his mind reached out to touch hers, gently at first but then encompassing her essence as passionately as their bodies were reacting.

Her hand moved down past the waistline of his pants to touch him softly, relishing the reaction her touch had on him. Their mouths broke apart momentarily to catch their breath as her intimate caresses continued.

"You really like these jeans huh?" He said huskily.

She smiled. "I've been watching you in them all day, especially when you walk. They don't leave anything to the imagination."

He smiled again and reclaimed her mouth. His one hand remained dormant while his right hand was still resting in her hair. Her body screamed in frustration as she pulled back from him again.

"Will, what's wrong?" She asked while their mouths were inches apart.

He smiled reassuringly. "This is your show Deanna. If we let this happen, there's no going back. I WON'T go back, not this time."

Their eyes locked as her mind reached out to his. Instead of feeling emptiness as it had so many times it was immediately encompassed in the one place it most craved to be. Will felt the change immediately and lifted his hand to face her.

She slowly brought her hand up to his and touched their palms. They sat for several seconds, holding hands in mid air until she took the initiative.

She brought his hand to her left breast, placing it gently on top. They began to kiss again as Will RSVPed to her invitation; he began unbuttoning her blouse.

Once the buttons were undone, he reached up to gently take her breast in his hand. Her body was achingly screaming at him in frustration for his lackadaisical touches. She thrust her chest deeper into his hand, causing him to smile.

"Impatient are we?" He asked.

"You have no idea." She responded, grabbing his shirt and pulling them down to lie on the couch, him full on top of her.

The television across the room had begun a different show, this one apparently a movie about two dueling dinosaurs. He rolled his eyes and stopped to look at her. "That's distracting." He murmured.

"Can't I keep your attention Will?" She teased. Before he could respond an odd sound emanated from the television.

Will and Deanna both lifted from the couch to see what was going on. An NBC Special News Bulletin appeared on the television. "We interrupt this program to bring you the following special announcement."

Will looked down at a flushed, open shirted Deanna lying beneath him and cursed inwardly. Sighing, he sat up and helped her climb out from under him.

The reporter appeared. "An astonishing occurrence has just taken place onboard the Los Angeles Mothership."

However, just as the camera flashed to a rather beaten up Mike Donovan, static replaced the picture. Within seconds, the screen flashed again to be replaced by the Visitor's logo.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Three

Julie had arrived back home earlier in the day after spending the night at Will and Deanna's apartment.

She was a bit unsure of how Denny was going to react when she arrived home. Now, after having been home for several hours, her uneasiness wasn't getting any better.

He was aloof, almost as if she hadn't chose to leave the night before. They had chatted amicably before she started cooking a late dinner.

Now, it was almost time for bed and neither one had attempted to discuss the night before. It wasn't exactly a fight they'd had, but things weren't right for them either.

'Maybe this is it?' Julie wondered as she began washing the dishes in the sink. Usually, Denny would volunteer to wash when she cooked, but tonight he was content to sit in front of the television with his newspaper. 'The beginning of the end, can it really be something like this to break us apart?' She thought.

Behind her, the all too familiar sound of a network interrupt blared over the television. She threw down her dishtowel and sat next to Denny with the small television between them.

Watching the Visitor's interrupt the newscast, Julie sighed. "Now they run our broadcast stations too?" She said. Denny merely glared at her, not bothering to respond.

The familiar image of Kristine Walsh, the Visitors new 'Official' Spokesperson, appeared after their logo. She looked devoid of emotion, strange for someone usually so animated.

"The Visitor's Supreme Commander, John, is here to make a statement." She announced.

The scene quickly changed to John standing on a platform in front of a large banner containing the Visitor's logo. He too looked troubled, as if he was about to announce the world was ending.

He spoke in low tones.

"My friends throughout the world. First I must thank the leaders of each of your countries who have graciously and in the interest of peace turned over all of their broadcast facilities to us to avoid confusion in this time of crisis. I'm sad to say that there has been a carefully coordinated and quite violent attempt by the conspiracy of scientists to commandeer our facilities at many key locations around the world."

The screen then changed to John's pleasant face to the image of chemical plants, warehouses and industrial parks burning furiously. People were caught on camera throwing Molotov cocktails into Visitor shuttles, celebrating as they exploded and burned.

Shots of ambulances and stretcher-bearing paramedics appeared in front of the backdrop of burning chemical tanks and guerilla style warfare. Julie noted that there were Visitors among the injured.

John's words voiced-over the scenes of carnage. "The loss of life has been enormous. -Both to your people and ours. In addition, thousands have been wounded, and we're fearful there will be more attacks. The outbreak is so widespread and dangerous that most civilian members of your governments have asked us to extend them protection- which, of course, we were more than happy to provide. They're safe aboard our ships, and we'll take good care of them."

Julie stared at the screen in disbelief. "I CAN'T believe this is happening!" She said.

Denny looked back to her, resignation on his features. "Believe it." He shrugged.

Julie's stomach twisted into a knot. Her first instinct was to lash out at him, make him realize that none of this was real.

And then is struck her. What if this wasn't real? What if, for some reason, the Visitors were staging all of these attacks?

The Richland Chemical Plant was the largest most successful Visitor run plant in the world, and it was situated just miles from the Los Angeles Medical Center. Surely it would have been attacked.

"I'm going to the hospital." Julie said roughly. She didn't wait for a response from Denny before storming from the house.

Across town, Mike Donovan was still sitting at the desk next to the news anchor that was originally going to show his tape on the air. They both were in absolute shock at how easily the Visitor's had commandeered the airwaves.

On the air, John suddenly looked regretful. "I'm also sorry to report that this man- a person whom we placed considerable trust-" a photo appeared on the screen causing Mike to jump from his seat.

It was he. He was nailed.

Yet, John continued on. "Michael Donovan, of the United States, has proved to be the biggest traitor to the peace and well-being of the world. He is one of the leaders of the conspiracy, and is responsible for engineering the violent attacks conducted today."

Mike's whirling thoughts were interrupted by Tony's voice. "Come on, you'd better get out of here. This'll be the first place they'll look."

Mike sprang into action and followed Tony into the videotape room. "Did you get a chance to copy my tape?"

"Setting it up now. Man, are we in trouble!" Tony said.

"Tell me about it." Mike said bitterly, hearing the last of John's statement; "Any person who gives information leading to Donovan's capture will be handsomely rewarded by the UN General Assembly and the government of the United States. If you see this man, do not-I repeat, do NOT attempt to apprehend or speak to him. He should be considered armed and dangerous."

A scream broke from the newsroom and the entire building seemed to shake. Booted footsteps and strange, whining pulses broke the noise of the newscast. As the doors began to burst inward, Mike made a break for the door leading toward the exit.

"Mike, your tape!" Tony called as he tossed Donovan's prize towards him as he ran out the door. Wanting to help his friend, Tony grabbed a large tape machine and knocked it over, blocking the door Mike had escaped through.

John's voice echoed throughout the world. "Your World Leaders have suggested that a state of martial law will be most helpful at this time. And we agree. Police at local levels will be working with our Visitor patrols, and we will also ask the help of all our Visitor Friends Units everywhere. We anticipate this crisis will pass relatively quickly. In the meantime friends, my fellow Visitors and I, will do our best to see you through it. And maintain control. There will be more announcements later."

As Julie wheeled into the parking lot of the hospital, she expected to see ambulances bringing victims from the 'attacks' to the emergency room. Instead, the parking lot was almost deserted. There were no sirens, no shouts, and no chaos.

Instead, all Julie noticed was that several Visitors were hanging "propaganda" posters on the side of the hospital. The poster showed a smiling Visitor, holding a small human child on his shoulder. On the top, it said "The Visitors". Below the picture, it announced "Our Friends".

For the first time, Julie completely doubted that statement. Thinking of Ruth, Dr. Metz, and all the other who had disappeared, Denny, her parents that she hadn't talked to in months, the Visitor's mysterious reactions to Deanna… all of it left an odd feeling in Julie's mind.

She had to get to the bottom of this before it was too late. She stood to lose everything important to her.

Rushing into the emergency room, she noticed Will standing in front of the admitting window. Deanna was sitting behind it, helping Allison field phone calls.

Deanna was telling someone that they didn't need to rush in, that they weren't receiving any victims. Julie suddenly felt her entire world crushing down on her. She rushed to Will and wrapped her arms around him.

He looked strangely at Deanna as he returned the hug. He could tell that she was attempting to read Julie's emotions. Once she made that connection, tears started streaming down her face.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Four

A week later, Mike was thankful that the Visitors hadn't yet discovered where he'd hidden his car. Although he didn't have clothes or money in it, he did have various cameras in his trunk that could prove to be useful.

Now, he lay on his belly hiding in the tall grass on a hillside above Davis Air Base- Air Command Headquarters for all of Southern California. Using his 35-millimeter reflex camera, he snapped off several shots of the Visitor sentries guarding the entrances and perimeters of the base.

An approaching limousine caused a rising puff of dust, drawing Mike's attention. As the car came closer, he used his telephoto lens to see several high-ranking military officers in the passenger seats.

Swinging his camera back towards the base, he focused on the gates again. Interestingly enough, all of the Visitor shock troopers scattered, moving quickly inside the building. Several MPs clad in standard-issue military uniforms appeared and took the positions previously held by the Visitors.

Mike frowned helplessly at the approaching car that was still too far away for the passengers to see what was happening.

As the Lincoln stopped at the gate, the Lieutenant Colonel got out and gestured to the other passengers in the car.

The MPs were helpless as the shock troopers stormed from inside the building, their weapons at the ready. When everyone was ordered out of the car, the Lieutenant Colonel made a move toward his sidearm, only to be shot dead where he stood. The other officers were lead away without incident.

"No wonder the military is cooperating fully. They're all under house arrest." Mike said to himself. And, he'd recorded it all on film.

'I wonder if anyone will ever see this record I've made.' He wondered and then sighed. He couldn't help but worry about Tony. He hadn't spoken to him or anyone else he knew since he'd went on the run. But now, he was out of money, smelly and half starved. He'd have to try and risk calling his friend for help.

At the same time in Malibu, Juliet Parrish was following through on one of the most difficult decisions of her young life.

Tight lipped and trying to control her emotions, she placed several books into her open suitcase. Denny sat quietly across the room not meeting her eyes. "You going to stay with your folks in Manhattan?" He asked finally.

She swallowed sharply, expending a tremendous effort to keep her voice even. "No, I can't get through to them."

'Because the Visitors are keeping track of me.' She thought silently. Julie hadn't bothered mentioning the fact to Denny, but she knew. The files at work at been tampered with more than once. All of the scientists at the lab were denied permits for long distance calls. Some of them even swore that their homes had been searched.

"It's better if you don't know anyway. I'll.. I'll get the rest later sometime." She told him, wondering if the day would come where he'd realize that this was for his own good, as well as hers.

Denny sighed. "Don't you think you're overreacting?"

"No." She said resolutely. "I don't want you to lose anymore accounts because of me."

"But Julie, we don't know that for sure." He argued.

Julie's emotions finally got the best of her. She slammed her hairbrush and hairclips into the suitcase and spun on him. "No! And that's the really nasty part. They're always so DAMN polite, but we KNOW don't we?"

Julie waited several seconds for him to argue, but he didn't. She shook her head fruitlessly as she removed the last of her clothes from the closet.

Changing the subject she decided to tell him the news she and Deanna had learned earlier in the day. "Anyway, Phyllis, you remember her? Well uh… she didn't show today. And nobody's heard from her. Just like Ruth and all the others. God, Deanna and I just had lunch with her yesterday! The Med School is still closed until 'resolution of the current crisis'." She slammed the suitcase shut.

Denny began to look uncomfortable. "Maybe she just went away? Just like this" He suggested.

'How can he be so blind?' She wondered. "Maybe they were taken." She told him.

He still remained stubborn. "There's no truth to those rumors."

She decided to challenge him. "Should I stay then?"

Time dragged by, and then his voice came low and uncertain. "I think… you should do whatever makes you happy." Julie didn't miss the fact that he'd turned his eyes away from her when he answered.

She swiped her tears before picking up her suitcase. "See ya Denny."

Walking outside, she threw the last suitcase in the backseat with all the others. She went over to where Will and Deanna waited in their rental car.

"Are you okay?" Deanna asked.

Julie sniffled a bit but nodded. "I will be."

Will reached across Deanna from the driver's seat and placed a reassuring hand on Julie's arm. "I know this is hard, but I'd feel better if you were both safe."

Julie nodded and forced a fake smile. "Lead the way." She said before walking to her car and starting it.

Deanna immediately grabbed for her seatbelt causing Will to look at her oddly. "I don't drive THAT bad, do I?"

Deanna blew air through her lips before answering carefully. "Just remember that your driver's license was set up for you. You didn't pass the test for it."

Will smiled before starting the car. Grinding it into gear, he let go of the clutch and the car jerked into motion.

Behind them, Julie shook her head as she eased her Volkswagen onto the road. "And they complain about women drivers." She wondered out loud.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Five

As Will pulled into the Motel Picard, he heard Deanna snicker next to him. "Yeah, that's why I chose it from the phonebook." He explained.

They grabbed their shoulder bags from the trunk, leaving the rest of their suitcases there. They could get them later once they were settled into their new home.

Julie had parked next to them and was pulling a small overnight case from the back. She locked her car and walked to catch up to her friends.

Deanna put a reassuring arm around Julie's shoulders as they went through the door. Will walked towards the desk to register for the room he'd reserved over the phone.

The girl behind the desk snapped her gum and put an index card in front of him. "Sign here Mr. Bessinger." She said.

Will looked back at the two women before signing his name. After paying cash for one week's rent, he took the keys offered to him and nodded.

As the trio walked outside and began their trek up to the second floor where their room was located, Will and Deanna turned when they heard Julie giggle behind them.

"What's so funny?" Deanna asked.

Julie shook her head. "It's amazing what we've been forced to move into. Did you notice that the girl at the desk didn't even bat an eyelash when Will checked into one room with two women?" Julie's smile was infectious.

Deanna laughed. "What do you think Will? Can you handle both of us?" She asked innocently.

Will returned their laughter when he saw them both batting their eyelashes. Shaking his head he said, "This is going to be like a giant slumber party."

They continued to smile as they unlocked the door to their room. It was small inside with two double beds and a small kitchenette.

Julie walked into the room and sat her bag on the bed. She seemed to barely notice their surroundings. "Home sweet home." She murmured. Deanna didn't have to be empathic to know the reason for Julie's melancholy.

Her whole world was now gone. Her career, her home, her lover… all gone in the time span of a week.

Deanna and Will may have had to abandon their apartment, but at least they still had each other. And of this moment, they were all Julie had.

Will walked in quietly. Though he wasn't empathic, he knew when he wasn't needed. "Uh Julie, if you give me your keys I'll bring your suitcases in." He offered.

Julie's head snapped around as if she didn't know anyone else was in the room. "No, really Will, I can get them. There's not much out there anyway."

Will smiled gently. "Please, let me put myself to use for something more than a punching bag for you two."

Julie smiled weakly as she handed him the keys. He disappeared back through the door leaving the two women alone.

Deanna sat gently next to her on the bed and waited to see if Julie was ready to talk. Deanna knew that she was strong and perhaps not ready to talk yet. Deanna couldn't help but marvel at the fact that this timeline had played through once before, meaning that Julie had faced this situation before… probably all alone.

'No one should have to go through this.' She thought to herself.

She caught Julie watching her. Instead of the melancholic look she had a few moments ago, she now looked contemplative… almost speculative.

Finally, she spoke. "I feel like a third wheel." Her statement surprised Deanna and it must have been evident on her face. Julie shook her head and looked up at the ceiling. "You and Will shouldn't have to take care of me. Really, I'll be okay in a room by myself."

Deanna shook her head. "No way. We stick together through all of this… no matter what. Tomorrow we'll meet Ben and the others at the time and place we talked about at the hospital. We're all in this Julie."

Julie didn't look convinced. Instead she gestured to the door Will had gone through. "Things are different between you two I noticed. You seem more comfortable with one another."

Deanna blushed slightly yet smiled. "We've known each other a long time. Our relationship has been filled with so many twists and turns. Right now, we seem to be headed in a completely different direction, only this time we're together. That's what's different."

Julie looked surprised. "So you two are back together?"

"Not exactly… well we are, but we aren't." Even Deanna looked confused at her statement.

Julie laughed. "Oh, so you're right on the verge of sleeping together only you haven't!"

Deanna rolled her eyes but continued to smile. "Something like that. We'll be fine don't worry about us. We're more worried about you."

Julie nodded. "To be honest, I'm worried about me too. Everything's gone. All I have left is the few things I grabbed from the house, my car, and what little money that was in my bank accounts. That's not enough to live on for very long."

Deanna shook her head. "Don't worry about that. Like I said, we're all in this together."

Julie looked at Deanna suspiciously. "That's something I've always been curious about. You and Will both had jobs, but neither were big breadwinners. You lived in a decent, but not fancy apartment. Only, you seem to have an endless supply of money. Why is that? Did one of you collect an inheritance or something?"

Deanna thought for a moment before answering vaguely. "Something like that."

Julie shook her head. "I don't understand you two."

Deanna began to feel uncomfortable. "What's not to understand? We're just two people caught up in this thing with the Visitors just like you are."

Julie wasn't convinced. "Nope, there's more to you two than meets the eye. Your accent for one, it's like none I've ever heard. Exactly what country are you from? How did you and Will meet? Where's he from? Why did two people who were once lovers and then nothing but friends decide to move into an apartment together, and then get jobs where you're both together almost 24/7? Why were the Visitors so interested in you? And this thing with the money, you seem to have a lot of it, but don't want to tell me where it came from… And speaking of me. Why does it seem like we were all supposed to meet? Almost like we've known each other for our entire lives, only I know we haven't. Can you explain any of this to me Deanna?"

Julie's diatribe had come from the blue, causing Deanna to pause. At just that moment Will chose to come in carrying two armfuls of luggage. He noticed the expression on the women's faces and stopped mid-step. "Am I interrupting something?" He asked cautiously.

Julie shook her head. "Not at all. I was just trying to find out the story about you and Deanna. Not the smokescreens I've heard so far… but the REAL story."

Julie had rose from her seated position so that she was now standing in front of Deanna. She kneeled down in front of her and looked her deep in the eyes. "If not now… will you ever tell me the truth?"

Will could tell that Deanna was struggling. It was something they'd discussed on numerous occasions. They were prohibited from polluting this time line anymore than necessary, and telling Juliet Parrish the truth would definitely be considered tipping the scales.

Yet, they'd become so close that they were almost at the point of having to lie to her. Neither of them liked that idea, and they'd often wondered what would happen if they did tell her.

At their silence, Julie sighed and began to move to the door. Deanna was still at a loss for words but Will wasn't. Gently taking Julie's arm he said softly. "Not yet Julie, maybe someday, but not yet."

Julie smiled wanly. "Well, it's better than nothing. I saw a small store down the road from here. I'll go get us some food. You can cook tonight." She said before leaving.

Once the door had closed, Deanna looked helplessly to Will. "Oh My God Will-"

He sighed and sat next to her. She immediately moved to lie in his arms. "I know. She's been building that up for a while. I guess the emotional upheaval she's gone through today brought it all to the surface." He said as he stroked Deanna's hair.

"So what do we do? Tell her the truth? Just abandon her and run for the hills? Keep lying to her?"

Will sighed. "We're not lying to her exactly, and she doesn't seem ready to go anywhere. We'll just keep up the way we are now. If she pressures us again we'll have to come up with an alternative plan."

Deanna lifted her face and kissed him gently on the lips. "These people we're meeting tomorrow at the old dry cleaner's store on Main Street, not only is Ben Taylor going to be there but a bunch of other people from the hospital who have gone into hiding. Could this be it Will? Is this going to be the first official meeting of the Los Angeles resistance?"

Will smiled. "It seems that way. I can't wait to see how this plays out. How is that young woman going to go from the emotional wreck she is today to a sort of army leader tomorrow?"

Deanna relaxed into Will's arms again. After several moments, they separated and began to unpack the suitcases Will had brought in. Like it or not, this cheap, seedy motel was going to be their home for a while.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Six

Robert Maxwell made sure Kathleen and their two younger daughters, Polly and Katie, were settled in the car before throwing another suitcase into the back of their station wagon. Looking down the street, he noticed his older daughter Robin slowly making her way home from school.

"Robin, get in the car!" Robert called to her once she neared their driveway. Robin appeared to be day-dreaming, probably about the young Visitor Brian she had a crush on.

"What?" She said blankly staring at all the luggage and camping equipment already loaded into the car. "Where are we going?" She demanded.

"To the mountain cabin honey." Robert said silently urging his daughter to get into the car before a Visitor patrol happened to go past.

Robin looked at the large piece of cardboard that used to be the bay window in the front of their house. Several kids had driven by the other night and thrown bricks through the window, just to prove the point that scientists, anthropologists included, were not welcome in their own neighborhoods.

"But I don't want to go to the mountains. I hate our place up there!" Robin argued.

Kathleen got out of the car looking at her daughter sympathetically. "Please Robin, try to understand. Too many things are happening. A scientists your Dad works with was arrested for conspiracy this morning."

Polly poked her head out of the window. "Why don't we stay and fight?"

Kathleen bit her lip in anguish. "It's not that simple Poll."

Robin began to wail. "But Daddy's no conspirator! The others-"

"They weren't either Robin! Now get in the car!"

"But all my friends are here!"

The sarcasm in Polly's voice wasn't hard to miss. "Yeah, especially the ones in red uniforms."

Robin spun towards her sister. "Shut up Polly! Please Dad, I could go stay with Karen and her-"

"Now Robin!" Robert yelled causing Robin to jump into action.

Jerking the car door open, she tossed her textbooks on to the floor before slamming herself into the seat.

Robert threw the car into gear and backed out, his tension reflected in the squealing of tires.

Robert Maxwell angled his car towards the outskirts of the city to the safety of the mountains beyond.

Across town, the wailing of a police siren caused Juliet Parrish to jump from her seat and rush towards the windows. Opening the closed Venetian blind slightly, she waiting as the sound began to diminish in the distance.

"It's all right… I think." She said, not sure if she'd even convinced herself.

The others in the room all perceptually relaxed as well. Gathered in the room were several people that Julie knew, among them Will, Deanna, Ben Taylor, Louise who worked for a Doctor that had disappeared, and several other familiar faces from the Medical Center. Amazingly enough, there were also several people Julie didn't know, among them a young police officer named Brad whose partner had been arrested for not going along with the Visitor's "requests".

Ben Taylor decided to pick up their interrupted conversation. "Alright, we know what's happening; totalitarian suppression of the truth, not only on television, but they've got the papers too. We ARE under martial law."

Louise spoke up. "And paranoia. Everyone I know, especially scientists are getting scared to death."

Brad joined in. "Or disappearing, like my partner and any other cop who refused to go along with the Visitors when they "requested" we help them maintain order."

"And yesterday they took another Doctor and his family from building." Louise added.

"Why are they so anxious to arrest so many scientists?" Ben wondered.

Julie, who had been sitting quietly next to Deanna chimed in. "They must see us as a threat of some sort. That scientists might find a way to stop them."

"There's just no way to stop them, there's too many of them." Louise said.

"No, there HAS to be a way." Ben argued.

"There is." Julie said as if stating a fact. All eyes turned to her. "We organize. Look, any complex structure, our bodies for example, start with individual cells. The cells will reproduce, expand themselves, and join with others."

Brad's voice took on a sarcastic tone. "That's lovely in biology but-"

"Listen Brad!" The sharpness in Julie's tone surprised everyone. Sheepishly, she apologized. "I'm- I'm sorry. Look, I know that we're embryonic., there's only just a handful of us. But you can be sure that we're not the only ones huddled in the dark like this. I know that there are others like us, all across America and all around the world. We're not he only ones who want to fight this thing!"

Deanna tossed a quick look to Will. She smiled when she noticed that his eyebrows were raised. He saw the same thing she did, the birth of a natural born leader. Will was actually watching Julie like a proud brother whose little sister had just won the blue ribbon at the science fair.

"She's right." Ben agreed.

Julie's mind had clearly shifted gears. "Now, what we've got to do is find the others, and still more after that. Then we'll need equipment for a lab, communications equipment-"

"Weapons," said Brad.

"Supplies," said a dark-haired woman.

"And a headquarters." Deanna chimed in, earning her a strange look from Will.

"Yeah, and we should also find out whose closest to the Visitors and get them on our side." Julie said enthusiastically.

Louise practically bounced in her seat. "Like that reporter.. what's her name…"

"Kristine Walsh! Yeah, now she's surely on the inside." Ben said.

"Maybe too MUCH on the inside." Brad warned.

"One of us should contact her." Ben suggested.

Everyone around the room agreed and mumbled their assent, however no volunteers came forward. Julie then realized that everyone was looking to her.

'Why do I always get stuck being the leader.' She thought to herself. As if on reflex, she stood quickly from her chair, almost causing it to tip over. "Okay, I'll find her-and find out if we can trust her. Why don't we meet back here on Thursday night?"

"Fine by me." Brad said as everyone else nodded in agreement.

Julie, who was still standing said "Okay, and everyone else has to bring at least four other people. Agreed?"

"Agreed." Chorused to her from around the room.

"Okay, I guess that's all for now." Julie said.

Standing in the dimness, Julie watched the others file out of the shop and into the alley, warily, one-by-one exhibiting a caution of being spotted that none of them had ever needed before. Tears sprung to her eyes drawing the attention of Will and Deanna who had stayed behind to wait for her.

Deanna put her arm around Julie's shoulder as Julie mumbled to her. "This isn't fair! It's not fair to any of us!"

Deanna merely nodded not saying a word as the world around them continued to move on.

To be continued

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Mike Donovan used the last few coins in his pocket to attempt to get hold of Tony Leonetti. Mike was starving, filthy dirty, and by this point, probably suffering from a good case of fleas, if not other critters.

The phone rang three times before being answered hurriedly. "Hello, is that you Uncle Pedro?"

Mike immediately recognized Tony's voice, but who the hell was Uncle Pedro? "Uncle Pedro?" Mike asked in confusion.

"A ha, it is you! Buenos Noches." Tony said.

Mike sighed. "Tony, cut the crap-"

However, Tony interrupted him. "We uh… we've been having trouble with the phones Uncle. Understand… trouble with the phone?" He repeated slowly.

Realization dawned on Mike. "Well, I guess you're all tapped out."

He could hear Tony sigh with relief. "You've got it Uncle. The repairmen even came to check things out, a whole lot of them. They could smell your cooking all over the place. Boy would they like to get their hands on your burrito."

Mike sighed realizing that his friend was now in danger as well. "Yeah, yeah I'm sure they would."

"Yeah… but I like ITALIAN food much better. Remember?"

Mike relaxed slightly when he the realization came that his friend wasn't going to abandon him in this time of need. "Yeah… yeah I remember."

"Now, don't let me keep you standing there. I know you have to run." Tony said quickly.

Mike was about to reply when a police car came speeding around the corner with it's red lights and siren on. Mike dropped the payphone and ran like hell down the street. Blue laser fire streaked past him causing mini-explosions around Mike's feet. He knew that the fire was coming from Visitor weapons.

A smaller craft, a sky fighter probably, had joined in the pursuit. It soared over Mike's head shooting down on to the ground in front of Mike.

Cutting down a trash filled alley, Mike was able to jump a tall fence and lose his pursuers. Unsure of what else to do, he quickly found a place to hide and waited until nightfall came.

On the outskirts of Los Angeles, Robert Maxwell and his family pulled up in line at the Visitor checkpoint. Beyond the checkpoint were the mountains where he hoped that they could hide in their small mountain cabin until things calmed down a bit.

However, he realized that the Visitors were checking I.D.s and passes of every car. Robert had not applied for a pass to travel outside of the city for the simple fact that he didn't want the Visitors to know where he was taking his family.

Gliding to the side of the road, he watched the scene before him.

"Why do they want to keep us in the city?" Polly asked from the backseat.

"It makes it easier to find us." Kathleen answered softly.

"Why is that so important to them?" Polly asked with the inquisitiveness of a twelve year old.

"We're not sure Poll, but it is." Kathleen admitted.

Robert watched as two police officers searched the car at the front of the line. They had the driver out and were rummaging through the backseat and the trunk.

Suddenly, the driver made a break for it. He ran down the road as fast as his legs would take him. The police officers yelled for him to stop, but he didn't.

Just as the man was even with Robert's car, two of the Visitor guards took aim and shot. The blue laser sliced through the air hitting the man directly in the back. He crumpled into a heap onto his car hood, and then falling on the pavement.

Robert realized that his three children, aged 5, 12 and 17 were all pressed against their car window watching the scene in horror.

The two police officers quickly caught up with the would-be fugitive. One pressed a knee hard into the man's back before pulling his arms roughly behind him and cuffing his wrists together.

"Another scientist?" The non-cuffing officer asked.

"No, but he was trying to help one of them run the roadblock. So, he gets to share their treatment." The other answered.

"Hey, easy with him Bob, he's wounded." The other warned realizing that his partner was treating the man harshly.

"That's his fault! If he wants to break the law then he's gotta face the consequences."

"But his is different."

"No it ain't! A crook's a crook, ain't nothing changed except the guys giving the orders."

Hauling the prisoner to his feet, the officer led him towards the squad vehicle parked by the side of the road.

The officer's partner waited behind for a moment, throwing a sad look to Robert before following the others back to the roadblock.

In the backseat of the Maxwell car Polly shifted uncomfortable. "Daddy, how are we going to get through here? Are we going to fight?"

"No." Robert answered, realizing that he didn't have an answer for his daughter.

"Now where are we going to go?" Robin asked.

"Whose gonna help us?" Polly inquired.

Robert took a deep breath trying to keep his patience in check. "I don't know." He told them.

Kathleen sat up sharply. "I do. Turn the car around!" She told her husband. Not sure if he wanted to know the answer, he took his wife's advice and turned their car around, heading back for the very neighborhood they had just fled.

To be continued