S'il Suffisait D'aimer

AUTHOR: Deb Gramlich

CODES: R/T-Imzadi
SETTING- Post Insurrection

Most of the following characters belong to Paramount/Viacom. Any characters you don't recognize belong to me and my twisted little world. Feel free to archive anywhere, as long as the original story and characters remain intact.

Captain's Log Supplemental: The Enterprise is now in orbit around Betazed, home planet to Ship's Counselor Deanna Troi. Here, the crew will partake in a joyous ceremony that has been a long time coming.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard entered Transporter Room 3. He smiled in greeting to the already waiting Geordi and Data.

"Gentlemen" he said.

Geordi smiled back. "Who would have thought Captain... after all these years!" Geordi's excitement was hard to contain.

"As the old Earth saying goes, 'better late than never'" Data added.

Beverly Crusher entered the transporter room, still fussing with her dress uniform. "I can't wait until they change these things again" she said in frustration.

Picard nodded and smiled. "Well, shall we? I don't want to be late for Will and Deanna's wedding."

Beverly smiled. "Oh, how I like the sound of that!"

Stepping onto the transporter pad, Picard said "I thought we'd beam down a couple of blocks away and enjoy the Betazed evening. I've heard marvelous things about the planet, but I've never been able to experience them first hand."

The other three officers took their positions flanking him.

"Energize" Picard ordered before disappearing into a cloud of glitter.

Disclaimers from Chapter 1 still apply....

The warm starry night was brightly lit by Betazed's two moons, almost making it appear to be daylight to the four officers as they materialized close to the chapel with Will and Deanna would be married.

Betazoids walked silently on both sides of the street. Some, noticing the Enterprise officers, nodded their welcomes.

Geordi spoke first. "I can't imagine a planet as densely populated as this one being so quiet." He almost whispered.

Data, surveying the surrounding scene added, "Perhaps it is because we are unaccustomed to being on a planet whose primary form of communication is telepathy."

Picard began walking towards the chapel. "The Betazed people have a wonderful culture. They are peaceful, caring and honest race. It you're truthful and respectful to them, you'll receive the same in return. If only more cultures were that way. Some of the traditions of this planet date back centuries."

"Like the one where they perform their weddings in the nude?" Beverly asked with a hint of mischief in her eyes.

When the only response she received from Picard was an icy glare, she quickly added, "Thank God Will and Deanna made this a clothing optional event."

Walking closer to the chapel, Picard was amazed by it. The trapezoid shaped building stood tall, with a well kept courtyard in front. On the side, and stretching behind, a huge garden/reception area was lined with trees and flowers of different hues. Since the wedding reception would take place there, party lights lined both sides of the garden, illuminating a small stream that ran through, disappearing into what was the outskirts of the Jalara Jungle.

"Oh my, this is beautiful!" Beverly commented. "Not I see why Will and Deanna decided to to have the first ceremony here."

Picard nodded. "And from what I understand, this is where Will and Deanna first met, at someone's wedding."

"That was almost twenty years ago" a woman's voice sounded from behind them.

Turning, Picard noticed a small Betazoid woman. Her blonde hair was pulled back and hung in wavy ringlets cascading down her back.

Picard offered his hand, grateful to finally meet someone speaking aloud. "Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and this is-"

"Let me guess," the woman interrupted. "Beverly, Data and Geordi. I've heard so much about all of you." She said with a smile.

"Then I'm afraid you have the advantage." Beverly said.

"Oh, I'm sorry, my manners. I'm Chandra Xerx, daughter of the Third House of Betazed, and of course, Deanna's Maid of Honor."

The officers took turns shaking Chandra's hand as she continued. "Deanna wanted me to make sure that you arrived okay." She smiled again. Gesturing forward, she began leading them into the chapel.

"So, then you'll be joining us in a few weeks for the ceremony I'll be presiding over on board the Enterprise?" Picard asked.

"Oh, you bet Captain. As long as I've been pushing for these two, I'll be at every ceremony and party they choose to have." Chandra said with a laugh.

Picard again marveled at the architecture of the building. Two huge ornate wooden doors were closed at one end of the room. The marble floors gave rise to matching marble columns with various Betazoid words carved on them.

"Breathtaking." Geordi commented.

Chandra again smiled. "We're pleased you think so Commander LaForge. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must return to Deanna."

Turning to Beverly, she added, "We must get together so you can tell me all about that Earth ceremony!" She disappeared just as quickly as she originally appeared.

"Charming lady" Picard commented. Before anyone could respond, the wooden doors were thrown open. The four Enterprise officers drank in the sight.

Various flowers and vines adorned the room. A small waterfall cascaded down the stone wall. The air was almost steamy, filled with exotic flower scents.

Beverly turned to see everyone else's reaction to the decor... and froze. 'Oh boy' she thought, 'here we go'.

All the various Betazoid guests had begun to remove their clothing. After hanging them, the now nude guests milled out of the foyer and into the chapel itself.

Picard was totally in awe with everything happening around him. Taking a deep breath, he reached up and undid the button holding the collar of his dress uniform closed.

"When in Rome, eh Data?" Picard said at their shocked expressions.

"Indeed sir." Data replied, beginning to remove his own uniform. Shrugging, and not really believing they were going through with it, Beverly and Geordi followed.

After hanging their clothes, they made their way into the chapel. Beverly had a devilish glint in her eye.

"Not a word Doctor" Picard commanded.

Beverly noticed Lwaxana Troi being led up to the front of the chapel. She had a little boy clasping her right hand, and a gentleman linked to her left arm. Stopping at where Picard and his fellow officers had sit down, she deadpanned.

"Well well well Jean-Luc. Nice dimples."

Picard's face burned with embarrassment as Beverly stifled her laughter. After a few moments, a gong sounded marking the beginning of the ceremony.

Disclaimers from Chapter 1 still Apply.....

Beverly Crusher stole a quick glance at Captain Picard before concentrating on the ceremony. Data was intent on storing all of the information in his memory banks to be reviewed at a later date.

Will entered from one side of the room, with Katherine Pulaski tugging gently on his arm. Katherine was acting in a role as Will's mother, having been married to Kyle Riker for the last several months. Picard was pleased that Will had someone to step into the role for him after so many years.

Picard also noticed with chagrin that Katherine had opted to keep her clothes on. He still regretting having removed his, especially after Lwaxana's jab.

Riker concentrated on walking forward, despite the tugging on his arm. Once he reached the middle of the room, Kyle Riker stepped in his way. He held his hand forward, as if making a 'stop sign'. Will pushed him aside and kept moving forward.

Will stopped in front of a nude clergyman, holding a long scroll. Turning off to the right, Lwaxana Troi entered the room with her young son still clutching her hand. Lwaxana was being led by a older Betazoid Picard didn't know. She was crying, very silently on the Betazoid's shoulder.

After Lwaxana and her guest, Chandra entered the room. Of course, she was now nude as well. She winked and smiled at the Enterprise officers before stopping in front of someone sitting in the front row. Picard couldn't see who it was she stopped in front of, but he then realized instantly the moment Chandra spoke that it was indeed Deanna.

The gongs and music stopped suddenly, the only noise in the room was Chandra's accented voice. "I summon you to the place of marriage."

A huge smile broke across her features. Lwaxana let out an audible "Thank the four deities" before Deanna rose. Deanna stopped and glared at her mother before stepping forward taking Chandra's hand.

Chandra led Deanna forward and gave her hand to Will, stepping back, she took her place at Deanna's side.

Picard was struck at how beautiful Deanna looked. Her hair was tied back in a white gauze headband which had five gold bars across it. Her whole body was glowing with joy. Picard couldn't help but smile.

Will's eyes completely locked with Deanna's. A huge smile broke across his features. Will and Deanna were completely lost in each other, not even realizing where they were or that fact that there were dozens of people watching. Finally, Chandra cleared her throat VERY loudly.

Deanna heard in her head ~Anytime now Deanna, we're not getting any younger~

Deanna broke her gaze and looked at Chandra smiling at her statement. With a smile, the clergyman began.

"Gathered friends, one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever been granted is to further bond Imzadi in holy matrimony."

As the clergyman went on, Picard was struck with a sudden rush of emotion. He'd always though of Will as the son he'd never had. Deanna and he had become very close during his recovery from the Borg. And to see them standing before him so happy and totally in love, well, it made even the most stoic man shed a tear.

After murmuring a few sentences in Betazoid Standard, the clergyman set the scroll down.

"William, you will now be entered into the most esteemed position as eldest son of The Fifth House of Betazed. You will inherit all the duties and responsibilities placed upon you by the citizens of Betazed. Are you prepared to accept these responsibilities?"

"I am prepared." Will replied.

"Deanna, you are the heir to the head of the Fifth House, are you prepared to welcome William into your midst?"

"I am prepared." Deanna answered, a thrill of joy rushing through her body.

"Then by the power vested in me, by the Governing Body of all houses f Betazed, I now pronounce you officially joined body, mind and soul."

Chandra let out a yell of joy, shortly followed by loud cheers and clapping. The clergyman laughed, and added:

"Although this isn't a normal course of action at a Betazed wedding, I couldn't help but add an Earth custom to this ceremony which will celebrate both William and Deanna's human heritage....."

Everyone looked at him with their eyebrows furrowed in confusion. With a hint o mischief in his eyes, he added "You may now kiss your bride."

Will and Deanna broke into laughter as they willingly obliged the clergyman. Whoops and cheers filled the chapel, as Will's mind tried to remember a day when he felt happier.

But, deep down he knew.... he would never find another one.

Disclaimers in Chapter 1 Still Apply

Immediately after the ceremony, Jean-Luc, Beverly, Geordi headed straight for their uniforms. Data, for his part, didn't seem to mind one way or the other.

Relieved to finally be clothed again, the officers joined the other guests in the garden behind the chapel.

Beverly was a bit disappointed that Will and Deanna were not mingling among the guests.

"Don't worry, they'll be joining us shortly." Someone said.

The Betazoid gentleman who has been escorting Lwaxana earlier walked over to them. "I'm Gart Xerx, Chandra's father."

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr Xerx." Picard said.

"Oh please Captain, call me Gart, everyone else does."

"The ceremony was absolutely beautiful." Beverly told him.

"Chandra will be pleased you think so, she worked quite hard on it. Of course, I think she's secretly been working on it for several years." Gart admitted with a smile.

The four officers laughed knowing exactly what he meant. As an afterthought, he added, "It's funny how things seem to have finally come full circle."

"Full circle?" Data asked.

Gart nodded. "My daughter Chandra met Teb here at this chapel at Lwaxana's third wedding... no wait, I think it was her fourth. Anyway, Chandra and Teb were married here many years ago. He was a wonderful young man. Will and Deanna met at their wedding, where Deanna served as her 'sorsha', or maid of honor as you would call it. Later, Will left Deanna here on Betazed to pursue his career. She turned to Chandra and Teb for support. Not even a month later, Teb was killed in a shuttle accident. This time it was Deanna's turn to offer comfort. And now, after all these years, we're back to where it all started. There's been so much pain in their lives, I'm just glad they're happy now."

A moment of silence passed between them before Geordi asked, "So, where is the bride and groom?"

Gart smiled. "They're with Chandra and the clergymen. There are forms to sign, and another smaller private ceremony to go through. There, Chandra is binded to Will and Deanna in the eyes of our Gods as their protectorate. She forever will serve to offer them support and comfort in anytime of need that may arise."

"Incredible." Beverly said.

Gart again nodded in gratitude. "Chandra is very excited about boarding the Enterprise to participate in the ceremony to be held there."

"Will you be joining us as well Gart?" Picard asked.

No, unfortunately, I would love to see the Great Starship, but it is too hard for me to leave the confines of Betazed. Some of us are more adept than others at blocking out human thoughts and emotions. I can do it with a limited number of people, but 1,000 people on a starship would be too much for me I'm afraid."

Beverly nodded, understanding. She remembered Deanna telling her how hard it was for her to adjust to life on Earth when she first arrived at the academy. She couldn't imagine how hard it would be for a full telepath to adjust.

A loud burst of applause caused everyone to turn around. Will and Deanna had just emerged with Chandra. Immediately, everyone began walking up and congratulating the couple. After a few moments, Deanna broke free and pulled Will towards where their friends stood. She immediately caught Beverly in a huge embrace.

"Well, you finally did it Will!" Geordi said, giving Will a friendly hug. Deanna moved to Gart and caught him in a big bear hug. Telepathically, he told her ~I've never seen you look so happy peanut~

Smiling, she answered ~I never thought we'd make it here Gart. Thank you so much for everything~ With tears rolling down her face, she embraced him again.

"Hey hey hey, can I get in on some of this action?" Chandra said walking up.

"Sure!" Will said. He grabbed her in a big bear hug and squeezed her in between himself and Deanna. The Captain laughed at the situation, despite himself. He never remembered seeing them so happy.

Finally breaking free, Chandra asked, "Well, did you tell them yet?"

Will smiled and shook his head. "No, I thought we'd let everyone get over the initial shock of us finally making this official.. and then drop the other bombshell on them."

"Bombshell?" Geordi asked.

Picard already had an inkling of what the 'bombshell' was. "Will, Deanna... does this mean what I think it means?"

Both Will and Deanna looked at him a bit surprised. Picard smiled, "I've always been a true romantic at heart."

"Well, would you mind sharing it with the rest of us?" Beverly begged.

Deanna laughed. "We're going to have a baby!"

Joyous shouts and congratulations were all that was heard across the garden. Many of the Betazoids there turned their heads and smiled, already knowing what the happy couple was celebrating.

Chandra stepped away from the small group and looked sadly to her Father. Gart just nodded his head in sad recognition. Telepathically, he told her, ~Soon precious one~

Disclaimers from Chapter 1 Still Apply

Captain Picard reclined back in his Ready Room chair, enjoying the last moments of peace before the Enterprise broke orbit of Betazed.

It had been a very restful two weeks since Will and Deanna's wedding, and a wonderful shore leave for the crew, but now it was time to get down to business.

Sighing, Picard ordered the computer, "Dispatches."

Picard scanned down the massive list which appeared on the computer terminal sitting on his desk. He sat up and walked to the replicator. "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."

The steaming cup immediately appeared on the replicator pad. Picking it up, Picard went back to his desk to begin weeding through his messages.

One in particular caught his attention. Curiosity overtook his face and he read the message slowly. "Computer, is Counselor Troi... errrr... Riker back on the Enterprise?"

"Affirmative. Counselor Deanna Riker returned to the Enterprise at 0930 Hours."

"Picard to Counselor Riker"

After a moment of silence, Deanna finally answered. "Yes Captain?"

"Deanna, I know that you're still trying to get resettled, but if you wouldn't mind coming to my ready room for a moment, there's something I'd like to discuss."

"Of course Captain, I'll be right there."

"Oh and Counselor, you might want to bring Commander Riker with you as well."

He could hear a smile in her voice as she replied, "Yes Captain."

Picard had time to read through a few more messages before the chime on his ready room sounded.

"Come" he answered.

Deanna and Will entered, the newlywed glow still about them. This had been the first time since Picard had seen them since the wedding reception.

"Welcome home. Please, sit down." He said.

Deanna tossed a small worried glance at Will before sitting. The Captain smiled at her reassuringly.

"I've just been going through my communiques that amassed during our time here on Betazed. I received an interesting one from your friend Chandra."

"From Chandra?" Deanna asked puzzled.

The Captain nodded. "It seems that's she's requesting a meeting with me to fill in on the Enterprise as temporary Counselor while you're on maternity leave. She didn't discuss this with you?"

Deanna looked completely puzzled. "No Captain. She's completely qualified by both the University of Betazed and by Starfleet as a civilian counselor, but why didn't she mention to me about filling in? She's never mentioned wanting to leave Betazed..."

Will sat forward. "Maybe she wanted to surprise you Deanna. You've always said how you missed seeing her all the time, and it would be great to have her onboard when the baby is born."

Deanna smiled. "We've always promised since we were very little girls, that we would be together when our children were born."

"The two of you have been friends for quite some time?" Picard asked.

Deanna nodded. "Our parents were the best of friends since before we were born. Chandra was born two days before me. We grew up doing absolutely everything together. My Dad and her Mother were killed in the same hovercar accident, Chandra and I were the only two survivors." She frowned. "It's not like her to keep something like this from me though."

"Well, perhaps you can ask her about it when she comes onboard? I'll invite her onboard to discuss the possibility before the Enterprise breaks orbit."

"Captain, I truly believe that Chandra would be an excellent choice for the crew. She and I studied psychology together, and our techniques are much the same." Deanna replied.

"We've talked several times about you hiring an assistant. Being a counselor with over a thousand patients to handle has to be a lot of strain, especially now that you're married and expecting." Picard smiled.

Will and Deanna joined his smile. "Yes, it would definitely ease my caseload some, and it would also allow an alternative for any crew members who might be a bit hesitant about discussing their personal problems with one of their senior officers. A civilian counselor would definitely fill that void." Deanna said.

"Excellent. Well, I'll get together with Chandra and discuss all of these possibilities. And, I'll definitely look forward to your input on the subject."

Deanna nodded smiling. "Is that all Captain?"

"Yes, I expect you two to enjoy the last remnants of your honeymoon before you are to report back to duty. Dismissed." He said with a smile.

They left the Captain's ready room, but Will could still tell that there was something bothering Deanna. "What's wrong?" He asked.

"This whole situation is just so strange. Chandra would normally have come to me and talked to me before contacting the Captain. This just isn't like her."

"Deanna, you were busy with the wedding arrangements, arranging the Janaran Falls trip, and rearranging your appointments, maybe she just didn't want to bother you." He said.

"Chandra handled most of the arrangements on Betazed Will. I just gave her the dates and approved her plans."

Walking into their newly arranged quarters, Deanna walked to the replicator. "Milk, cold" she said before it materialized. Taking a sip, she grimaced before sitting down next to Will on the sofa.

"Don't like milk too much Imzadi?" he asked, beginning to rub her shoulders.

Smiling she said. "I'll live through drinking it if it means that we'll have a healthy strong baby." Stopping her eyebrows furrowed again.

"This business with Chandra is really bothering you isn't it" He asked.

"It's not just this, she was acting strange the whole time we were planetside. It was like she was keeping something very important from me. She was torn between wanting to let me in and keeping her mind blocked. I just don't understand."

"Well, she'll be onboard soon to talk to the Captain, talk to her then. I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding." Will said gently.

Deanna smiled and leaned back to give Will a long, sensuous kiss. "Well, we have a few hours before we have to return to duty, whatever shall we do until then Imzadi?" She said that last word very slowly and seductively.

Will smiled, feeling his body responding to her. "Oh, I dunno, I'm sure there is a few good books we can read to pass the time."

She turned around and hit him on the arm indignity. She stood and walked into the bedroom. "What do you think Will, is this appropriate for reading?" She called.

He stood and followed her. She stood in front of the closet, holding an emerald green see through teddy. "Oh yeah, I think that's just about right!"

As soon as his arms wrapped around her, Deanna's concerns bout Chandra were forgotten as quickly as the teddy was.

Disclaimers from Chapter 1 Still Apply..........

Deanna awoke from for her peaceful slumber with a strange feeling of familiarity touching her mind.

Sitting up slowly so she didn't disturb Will, she reached out with her empathic sense and found it.... Chandra was close. She was onboard.

Getting out of bed, Deanna threw on a robe and quickly walked into the living room area. "Computer, locate Chandra Xerx."

"Chandra Xerx is currently in the Captain's Ready Room."

Deanna quietly walked back into the bedroom and began pulling on her clothes. "Sneaking out on me in the middle of the night?" Will's voice sounded behind her.

Deanna jumped and smiled. "In case you haven't noticed Will, it's not the middle of the night." She said.

"Well, as tired as I am now it might as well be." He said chuckling.

"Aww, what's the matter Will, can't keep up with me?" She said with her eyebrows raised.

Will laughed but didn't respond at first. "Gart warned me that when a Betazoid woman is pregnant, it's like she's in phase through the entire ten month pregnancy.... I think I better start seeing Dr. Crusher to get vitamin supplements."

Deanna burst into laughter. "Actually, Will, Chandra is onboard, and I want to catch her before she beams back down to Betazed."

Will nodded. "I understand, I'll go with you."

Several moments later, they emerged onto the bridge heading towards the ready room. The door suddenly opened and Chandra exited with the Captain right behind her. "Welcome to the Enterprise Chandra" he was saying.

"Chandra-" Deanna began.

"Hey guys, sorry I don't have time to talk, I need to beam down to Betazed and get my things together before you break orbit. Well, we break orbit I guess. I'm coming with you now!" She hurriedly began walking towards the turbolift.

Deanna spun on her heel and rushed to catch up to her. ~Chandra, what is going on with you?~

Chandra took her hand and smiled. ~Nothing at all, I just made a split second decision and didn't want to bother you on your honeymoon to discuss it. Really, everything is fine.~

~Then why won't you look me in the eyes?~

Captain Picard walked up to the two woman and interrupted their silent conversation. "Counselor, please, Chandra just made a split second decision and didn't want to bother you on your honeymoon. Everything is fine, really. But, we do need to break orbit soon."

Deanna's eyes widened as Picard repeated almost exactly the same words Chandra had said to her telepathically. Looking back at Chandra, she sent, ~You didn't, please tell me you didn't~

~I didn't what? Deanna, what are you talking about?~

~My God Chandra, I don't understand, please explain all of this to me!~

~Deanna, your just emotional from the pregnancy that's all. I didn't 'push' the Captain if that's what your thinking~

~Chandra, you have never once lied to me since I can remember~

~Exactly, so why should I start now? Deanna, I really need to go.~

She quickly entered the turbolift and requested her destination.

Will came up behind Deanna as Picard nodded and returned to his ready room. "Deanna, are you okay?"

Her eyes filled with tears. "My God Will, she lied to me, she couldn't even look me in the face, but she lied to me!"

On the turbolift, Chandra stood leaning back against the wall. "Computer, halt lift." The lift stopped as Chandra slid down to the floor in tears.

After a few moments, she regained her composure. Wiping her face, she stood and said "Computer, resume."

When the life arrived on Deck 3, no one who saw the Reigning Daughter of the Third House of Betazed would have known she was upset about anything.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

Will sat in his and Deanna's quarters gently rocking her back and forth. She was extremely upset, though Will wasn't quite sure if it was because of the whole situation with Chandra, or that fact that Chandra had lied to her.

The incident on the bridge had happened almost two hours ago. Deanna had been in tears ever since. At this point, she just sat eerily still, just leaning into Will's chest. The only way he knew she was awake was the occasional muffled sniffle.

Suddenly, Deanna sat up. "She's back" she whispered.

"Deanna, I don't understand this...."He began.

She put a finger to his lips, silencing him. "You know that on Betazed, some Betazoids are born with different abilities. Some are just empaths, some just telepaths, some are both."

Will nodded. "There's a varying range of your mental powers."

"Yes. Chandra is an extremely strong telepath, probably one of the strongest on the planet. When her mental powers began developing, she discovered she had some rare abilities that most don't have. One of them is that she can use her mind to push people into believing whatever she wanted."

Will looked a bit confused. Deanna tried to explain more thoroughly.

"Chandra could hand you this-" she picked up a PADD from the coffee table.

"She could tell you it's a flower. She can push you with her mind, you'd look at it and see a flower."

"My God, that's a very dangerous power to have." He said.

"Yes it is. Chandra knew how dangerous it could be, and it was kept secret among her closest family and friends that she had the ability. Her parents knew that she would never be trusted if the general populace knew she had that ability."

"I can understand their feelings." Will said, feeling a bit uneasy about it himself.

"Please Will, don't feel like that. It's not Chandra's fault she has that ability, and she's never once abused it...... until now."

Will sat ramrod straight. "Did she try to do that to you earlier?" He said, his anger growing.

"No, no no Will. She didn't. But, I think she may have used it on Captain Picard." She said quietly.

"But why? This isn't making any sense to me!" He shouted, and immediately regretted it. Deanna had jumped the moment he raised his voice. Taking a deep breath, he pulled her into his arms.

"I'm sorry Deanna. But if Chandra did do that to Captain Picard she can't stay on this ship. I will not have someone on this ship who uses her mental abilities to get what she wants."

Deanna nodded. "I know Will, I just don't understand any of this."

Deanna stood and walked over to the computer sitting on the desk. She punched in a few keys and threw will an ironic smile. "Chandra has been assigned my old quarters. Will, we both have night watch tonight, so let's just worry about this tomorrow, okay? Chandra obviously isn't going anywhere."

Will nodded and led her towards their bedroom so they could get prepared for their shifts.

Several hours later, Deanna sat in her office reclined back on the couch. Her eyes were closed in concentration, her hand resting on her stomach.

Finally, she felt what she was seeking. A slightest touch.... so gentle it felt like a butterfly wing in a Spring breeze. Concentrating on that touch, she focused all of her love and affection on it.

~There you are little one, your Mommy and Daddy loves you very much~

There of course was no response, and there wouldn't be for a while. But, Deanna just reveled in the feel of the life growing inside of her.

Her chime sounded, breaking her concentration. "Come" she answered, expecting her next appointment.

Instead, Chandra walked in. "Deanna, do you have a minute?"

"I've actually got a few minutes if you're planning on telling me what is going on with you."

Chandra nodded. Looking straight into her eyes, she said "I promise."

Deanna looked up towards the ceiling. "Computer, please inform Ensign Riley that I'm delayed, and I'll see her a half hour later than planned."

"Acknowledged." The computer responded.

"Did you ever notice how that computer sounds just like your Mother?" Chandra asked.

"Don't change the subject Chandra, please."

Chandra leaned forward and placed her hands on Deanna's belly. After a few moments, she closed her eyes and smiled.

"She's going to be a wonderful little girl Deanna."

"I know. I think Will is hoping for a son, I haven't had the heart to tell Will about the genetic codes of Daughters of the Houses."

Chandra nodded. "Our first born will always be a girl to insure the continuation of the house."

Deanna relaxed, feeling the conversation slip back into the old comfortable place they had always been in. "Just another Betazoid mystery." She said.

Chandra nodded. "Deanna, I had to tell you..... I didn't telepathically push Captain Picard into anything earlier. His decision was pretty much set even before I arrived at our meeting. He said that he spoke to you and Will earlier in the day." She smiled.

"Chandra.... to be honest, I don't know what to think. I do know that you're keeping something from me... something that's very important to you."

"You know that I've never relied on my 'other' abilities for anything in my life." Chandra said to her.

Deanna could feel the turmoil swirling in Chandra's mind. Instinctively, she reached her arms out and pulled Chandra into her arms.

They sat like that for a while, unmoving. They drew their strength from each other. Finally, Chandra pulled away. Again, she avoided looking into Deanna's eyes.

"Chandra, please! What is it---" Her voice trailed off. Her hand flew to her mouth. "My God, Chandra..... did you have one of those dreams?"

Chandra raised her eyes slowly. As soon as her eyes locked into Deanna's, she knew she was right. "Chandra, tell me."

Chandra shook her head. "This is crazy Deanna. You know that those dreams never prove to come true."

"You dreamed about the accident. You knew that two people we loved were going to die... you knew that you and I would be there... that we would survive."

Chandra wrapped her arms around herself, she began pacing the room. "It was happenstance Deanna."

"You knew that I was going to meet Will at your wedding. You knew weeks before he ever received his post on Betazed that I was going to meet my Imzadi at your wedding. You and Teb weren't even engaged yet. You didn't know many details, all you knew was that he was a Starfleet Officer, and that my life would be changed forever."

Chandra again dropped her head down. "I had a dream, just a few months before that crazy mission where you and Will got back together."

"What happened in the dream Chandra?"

"I've had dozens of these dreams that never prove to be true."

Chandra didn't face her. Deanna stood and walked up behind her. "What happened Chandra?"

Chandra broke into tears. "One of you die Deanna." she whispered.

"Die? Die how?" Deanna felt her whole body turning cold as if the temperature in the room had dropped 40 degrees.

"I don't know. I only remember part....." her voice trailed off.

"What is that?" Deanna whispered.

Chandra turned and rested her forehead on Deanna's. "I remember seeing myself, holding a little baby girl. She was a beautiful little girl, but wearing a little Starfleet uniform. I was standing at a gravestone... and the headband you wore at your wedding was sitting on top it. I couldn't see whose name was on the headstone. But one of you were there with me.... I couldn't tell who."

Deanna wrapped her arms around Chandra's neck. "But Chandra, you said yourself... you have dreams like this all the time, they don't always come true. Hopefully this is one of them..."

"Oh Gods Deanna, I know. I've hoped and prayed that's true. But, things started falling into place. You and Will got together so quickly, and the wedding and the baby.... I panicked. We've both lost so much in our lives."

"I know... I know." Deanna whispered. They hugged again.

~Chandra, is this why you decided to come onboard the Enterprise?~ Deanna sent to her.

~Yes, if I was going to be forced with losing you, or God forbid you lost Will, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with the two of you as I could. Besides, your going to need some help around here.~

~That's true. And I'll tell Will about all of this. He'll understand. And you know that we're both going to be extra careful, especially with the baby on the way.~

Out loud, Chandra said, "I didn't tell anyone about this but my Father. I woke him up in the middle of the night hysterical crying, I scared him to death I think. He takes my role as yours and Will's protectorate very seriously." She smiled.

"Well, there is one good thing about all of this...." Deanna said.

"What's that?" Chandra asked.

"It seems like we're going to be stuck together for good now!" Deanna said laughing. They embraced again, relief flooding over Deanna.

Disclaimers from Chapter One Still Apply

Several months had passed since Chandra had come onboard. She had proved invaluable to the crew, as well as to Deanna.

It was also nice for Deanna to have her best friend on board. Now that her pregnancy was actually showing, it was getting harder and harder for her complete a full day of work.

Chandra sat in Will and Deanna's quarters, laughing over the latest tale Deanna was spinning from when she and Chandra were children. Will had tears rolling down his eyes just imagining Deanna stuck in that scenario.

Finally, when the story was over, the three sat in silence for a moment. Suddenly, Deanna and Chandra started laughing again.

"What's so funny now?" Will asked with a smile.

"The baby must have picked up on our mood. She's having a great dream at the moment." Deanna smiled.

Will placed his hand on Deanna's stomach, feeling just the slightest flutter. He was a bit disappointed that he couldn't share in her pregnancy the way she and Chandra did, but he loved curling his arms around Deanna late at night and feeling their unborn baby moving within her.

"Aww Will, that's so sweet." Chandra said.

Will looked at her. With a smile, he said "You know, I'll never get used to having a mind reader in my midst."

"Hey, you never know, little Miss Riker there might be born a telepath! Who knows what kind of DNA she'll inherit." Chandra said with a laugh.

Deanna sat forward. "Here, Will, give me your hand." She gently took his hand and placed it on her stomach. "Chandra, can you help?"

Chandra nodded with a smile. She took Will's hand, and then took Deanna's hand. Will wondered what they were up to.

Both women closed their eyes, a look of peace crossing their features. Will felt Deanna's soul reaching out to him through their bond. He closed his eyes and reached back. Suddenly, a burst of Chandra's presence came forth, enclosing all of them in safety and warmth.

Will had never felt anything like it before. Never in his life had he felt safer or more secure. He opened his mind further to reach out and embrace both women, one who was the other half of all that he was, and the other was becoming a more important part of his life by every passing day.

The more Will thought about it, the more Deanna he saw in Chandra and vice versa. He could understand exactly why they were such close friends, and in turn, he could easily open his mind and trust Chandra with whatever need be.

Through their three way link, he could almost physically see all of their relationships; his and Deanna's, Deanna and Chandra's, and his and Chandra's. All of a sudden, there was another smaller presence.

The presence reached out curiously and barely touch there's. Will reached his mind out to that presence. He felt it withdraw at first, and then a little push from Chandra and it reached to him again.

Finally, he realized what it was. Their baby, his and Deanna's daughter.... Excitement and adoration burst through him.

He jumped, literally to his feet. Both women jumped as well, startled. He pulled both of them to their feet and hugged them, tears streaming down his face.

"I felt her, I felt her!" He practically yelled, tears streaming down his face. Both women laughed and nestled in tighter to their three way hug.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

"Whew" Deanna said as she finally wedged herself into the seat on the runabout. Chandra looked over at her with a laugh in her eyes.

"Don't even say it Chandra. If I get any bigger, I'm not going to fit into these seats anymore." She said chuckling.

"Well, then I guess it is good that you are officially on maternity leave in 2 weeks Counselor" Data said from the pilot's seat.

Chandra shook her head, giving Data a strange look. Deanna sat upright with an aristocratic look on her face.

"Data, despite my current condition, I will have you know that I can perform exactly as I did before I was pregnant."

Chandra burst out laughing. "Oh yeah, let's see you climb through a Jeffries tube when we get back to the Enterprise." She said.

Deanna glared at her. "Okay, almost everything."

Chandra gave her an 'I know I'm right look'. "And of course, let's not mention the mood swings."

Deanna finally smiled. "Well, at least I don't break into tears everytime Captain Picard asks to have a word with me anymore."

Chandra laughed. "And just when the Captain began keeping tissues in his ready room."

Both women laughed. Turning around again, Chandra double checked that the children they were escorting back from a Science Fair on Starbase 111 were still strapped in. Satisfied that they were locked in tightly, she turned her attention back to the front of the runabout.

Data expertly pulled the runabout away from the docking ring and aimed it towards the Enterprise. "We should be back onboard in approximately fifteen minutes." He announced.

Sitting back, Chandra enjoyed the ride. She felt a bit of a shudder, but didn't pay much attention to it. Small feelings of uneasiness were common for her when she was returning to the Enterprise. Her Betazoid senses were very hard to get accustomed to all the conflicting emotions and thoughts on the Enterprise.

Spending a bit of quiet time before she actually arrived back on the Enterprise always made it easier. And with almost the entire counseling workload now on her shoulders, she could use all the quiet time she could get.

Chandra felt the shudder again. Opening her eyes, she looked over at Deanna. She could tell that Deanna felt it too.

~What is that Deanna?~ She sent to her.

~I don't know, but something is seriously wrong~ "Data, what is-"

All of a sudden the shuddering increased. Data's hands flew over the controls in front of him.

"There is a problem with the structural integrity of the runabout. There seems to be a parasite which has eaten through the duranium. I am slowing our speed, trying to erect forcefields to slow the decay. At it the current rate of acceleration, a hull breech in imminent in 3 minutes."

Chandra reached out and touched Deanna's hand. She turned to look at the children. They were all terrified, but trying to be brave. Chandra unbuckled herself from her seat to move back and sit with the children.

Walking quickly, she settled amongst them and refastened her belt. Deanna could hear her comforting words. Her senses felt the children all slowly begin to calm.

She reached out and embraced the baby within her. She could feel her daughter begin kicking around, as if sensing the seriousness of the situation.

Deanna sent soothing thoughts to her daughter. After a few moments, she began to settle.

An explosion ripped through the top of the runabout, just inches from Deanna's head. Data quickly erected a forcefield to compensate. Chandra screamed and ran forward.

Deanna lay sprawled on the floor. Burns were marred across her head and face, a puddle of blood immediately forming beneath her.

"Data, we've got to get her to sickbay now!" Chandra screamed.

"We are still out of transporter range." he replied.

~Deanna, hold on, please hold on~ Chandra urged.

It seemed like forever, but finally Chandra felt the Enterprise's transporters begin to transport everyone off the shuttle. She materialized moments later in sickbay.

Beverly and her medical team immediately swarmed over Deanna. Chandra, stumbled out of the way.

Will burst through the sickbay doors. Chandra ran forward to stop his progress. "No Will, let them do their work." She begged.

"My God Chandra, you knew" he choked out. "You warned us and we didn't listen."

"You listened Will, this was just one of those unavoidable things." She replied.

They both spun in the direction that Deanna was laying. They both felt it at the same time.

Emptiness...... their link to Deanna disappeared as one of the monitors above her head went flat.

Disclaimers in Chapter 1 Still Apply

Will immediately sprang forward, trying to reach Deanna. Two orderlies who were standing by ran forward and grabbed him before he got into the doctors way.

"Get him into my office!" Beverly yelled without diverting her attention away from Deanna.

Will struggled with the orderlies. Finally, Chandra stepped forward. "Will, you're not going to do any good getting in their way." Chandra begged.

Will allowed the orderlies to take him into Beverly's office. He stood at the window with Chandra at his side, holding his hand. They were both glued to the window, watching the flat line lead across the monitor.

"No, God no, please don't take them from me." Will begged. Chandra closed her eyes trying to hold back the tears which threatened to begin to spill down her cheeks.

~Please Deanna, hold on, fight it~ she begged.

Dr. Selar had entered the room, and was now hooking a separate monitor to Deanna's stomach. She obviously was concentrating on the baby, while Beverly struggled to save Deanna.

Finally, a blip of life......


Will and Chandra both took a calm steadying breath. Her heart was pumping again, that had to be a good sign.

Chandra wrapped her arms around Will's shoulders and rested her head on him. She had tried to probe Beverly's mind, but didn't understand anything that she saw.

After a few moments, Beverly conversed softly with Dr. Selar. Finally, she took a deep breath and walked towards her office.

Will and Chandra immediately rushed forward to greet her. She stopped them by putting her hand up and gestured to the set of chairs in front of her desk.

Will and Chandra immediately jumped into them. Spreading her senses out, Chandra could feel sadness emanating from Beverly. She braced herself for the news.

"Deanna received a major blow to the head. There is severe internal damage. She suffered a stroke, which caused her heart to stop, but she is stabilized now." She took a deep breath trying to calm herself.

"The damage to her brain is so severe, she can by human standards, be termed brain dead." Chandra and Will both gasped, but Beverly rushed to continue.

"But, her Betazoid physiology may prove to be valuable. The Betazoid brain has a remarkable ability to heal itself. But, she's only half Betazoid, and that can either be a hindrance or a help. At this point, I'm just not sure.... only time will tell."

Will felt his world crumbling around him. Deanna had always been the center of his universe, but without it's core, his universe would forever be destroyed.

Chandra leaned forward, trying to keep him focused. "Beverly, what about the baby?"

Beverly offered a small, saddened smile. "The baby is fine. It got a little scary for her when Deanna's heart stopped, but she's fine now. Her heart rate is strong, and there was no damage to the amniotic sac. But Will, there are some serious choices to make here."

Will's hands were shaking, his eyes unfocused on the floor.

"Will?" Beverly asked.

Chandra looked over to him. Touching his mind, she spread her emotional shield to him. Finally, after a few moments, he looked up at Beverly.

"The baby is stabilized now. With Deanna in a coma, her pregnancy can continue as if everything was normal." Will nodded.

"Is the pregnancy harming Deanna in anyway?" Chandra asked.

Beverly shrugged. "Pregnancy does add an additional stress to a woman's body. I could deliver the baby now, but there's no proof that it will bring Deanna out of the coma."

"Would the baby be okay, delivering it so early?" Chandra asked.

"She would be at least 3 months premature. She would probably survive, but there could be extreme medical complications. To give her a fair chance, I'd rather allow natural development."

Chandra and Will let the news set in.

"There is also the option of a mid-term abortion."

Will's head shot up and if someone had poked him with a Klingon pain stick. Finally, he choked out in a small voice, "But you said there is no proof that it would help Deanna."

Beverly nodded.

Will thought for a moment. "No, abortion isn't an option." He didn't say anymore.

Chandra probed a bit deeper into his thoughts, and she immediately sought what she was looking for.

Will's world was in complete turmoil. The danger of losing Deanna was strong, but the baby was his only link to her at the moment. He couldn't bring himself to kill that link. The chance of aborting the baby and still loosing Deanna was too strong.

Beverly summed up her thoughts. "In my opinion, the best thing we can do is wait. I'll have Deanna moved into one of the private rooms."

Chandra added. "Time will tell."

Beverly nodded. "Will, the best thing you can do now is go back to your quarters and rest. When Deanna is moved, I'll contact both of you and you can come down to see her."

Chandra nodded and stood. Looking down at Will, she realized he hadn't moved. She reached down to his shoulder. ~Will, you have to rest. You're not going to do anyone any good if you're ehausted.~

Finally he stood and took small steps out of Beverly's office.

Walking towards the door, he threw one last look at Deanna's still form. ~Imzadi, I need you..... please come back to me.~

Will felt his heart turn cold when he received absolutely no response.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

Nine weeks had passed. Deanna still lay in a comatose state.

Will Riker was exhausted. Aside from his limited duty schedule, he maintained a constant vigil at Deanna's bedside, hoping beyond all hope that he would catch a glimpse, a thought, a feeling... anything to prove that Deanna was still in there.

But, in the last nine weeks, there had been nothing. No even the slightest glimmer. He tried and tried, stretching his mind beyond his own capabilities. Chandra, with all her telepathic abilities, had picked up nothing.

If it hadn't been for Deanna's expanding abdomen, you never would have known any life was within her at all. The baby continued to grow and develop at a normal rate. Beverly thought that it would soon be time to introduce little Miss Riker to the world outside.

Beverly.... Will sighed. That was another sore point that he tried like hell to keep out of his mind.

She had tried to talk to him about terminating life support once the baby was born. She had told him that Deanna wasn't really alive.. wasn't really living, it was just the computer doing it all for her.

But dammit, her heart was beating. He could place his hand over her heart and feel it... just as he had so many nights as they lay snuggled together in bed, or in the throes of passion.

Tearfully, Beverly told him that the moment the computer is stopped, her heart would stop. But, he couldn't accept that. No... he wouldn't accept that.

There was no way he could let his Imzadi die.

The chance was always there that once the baby was born, Deanna would be okay. The added stress would be off her body and she could recover. Will held on to that hope.

But, nagging in the back of his mind, he knew that Beverly didn't. Neither did Chandra, Lwaxana, or that damned Betazoid doctor she's brought with her. They all thought that Deanna would never recover.

Will leaned forward, putting his hand over Deanna's heart. He could feel it beating, strong and healthy. Putting his ear over Deanna's heart, he rested his hand over the kicking baby.

"We'll show them Imzadi... we'll show them."

Beverly sat in her office, sadly reviewing Deanna's file. Placing the typical 'no change' line in the days log, she looked sadly up as Captain Picard walked into her office.

"Captain" she said in greeting.

He nodded. "How's Deanna?"

Beverly just shook her head. She couldn't bring herself to speak the words anymore. Tears filled her eyes and threatened to spill down her face.

Captain Picard didn't need to say anything. He walked around her desk and enveloped her into his arms.

Everyone on the ship was grieving for Deanna, grieving for Will, grieving for the little girl who wouldn't get to know her mother.... grieving for all the opportunities they were never going to have.

Beverly finally let it loose. After several moments of quiet tears, she pulled back off the Captain's shoulder.

"I'm afraid that wasn't very professional of me." She sniffed.

"It's perfectly understandable Doctor. Everyone is suffering." He said.

"No one is suffering like Will." She said.

"How is he? I mean, how is he really? He won't talk to me, he goes off duty and right back here to sickbay. He won't speak of Deanna at all."

Beverly motioned for Picard to follow her. Walking out of her office to the back part of sickbay, she motioned for Picard.

He walked up to the window, and saw Will resting his head on Deanna's chest. His hand gently stroked her swollen belly. The only sound in the room was the constant beeps and hums of the medical equipment keeping Deanna alive.

Beverly sighed deeply. Picard came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her shoulder. Quietly, she whispered "Sometimes, I find him asleep like that."

"If only love could be enough...." he said sadly.

Beverly nodded. Resting her head on Jean-Luc's shoulder, she allowed his strength to absorb her grief.

Disclaimers in Chapter 1 Still Apply..........


Beverly rolled groggily to her back, trying to pretend she didn't hear the noise.

Beep. "Sickbay to Doctor Crusher."

Beverly sat bolt upright in bed, suddenly wide awake. "Crusher here."

"Doctor, it's Counselor Troi. Her heartrate and blood pressure has dropped, and the baby is in distress."

"Prep her for delivery. I'm on my way."

Beverly jumped out of bed. "Crusher to Commander Riker."

"Riker here."

"Will, we need you in sickbay right away."

He didn't answer... there was no need to. He knew that a call in the middle of the night meant nothing but trouble.

Beverly rushed into sickbay five minutes later, fully dressed. Her hair was still tussled from sleep, but she didn't care. Her appearance was the last thing on her mind.

Dr. Andrews had been on duty when the the emergency arose. He had already made preparations to have Deanna moved into the maternity ward. Beverly moved to Deanna's side and began checking on her's and the baby's readings.

Beverly heard the door behind her and knew that Will was there. Inclining her head a bit, she saw Chandra at his side. Both were still in their night clothes and robes, Chandra hadn't even bothered putting shoes on her feet.

"I need the two of you to stay back for now!' Beverly shouted over the hustle and bustle.
"Dr. Andrews, give her 10 CCs of phosphoric benzoate." Dr Andrews immediately delivered the hypo to Deanna.

Beverly looked over at Will and Chandra. "Deanna's body can't take the added stress anymore, the baby is in distress, we need to deliver now."

Will closed his eyes for a brief moment. Beverly at first thought he was going to faint, but his eyes suddenly snapped open with steely determination. That was the look of the William T. Riker she had always known.

Nurse Ogawa walked up to Will and Chandra and began helping them into scrubs. Satisfied they were ready, she waved them forward and showed them where to stand as to not be in the way.

Checking Deanna and the babies heartbeat one more time, Beverly picked up the laser scalpel and began to cut.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply.....

Chandra turned her head as the scalpel began cutting through Deanna's skin. She couldn't bear to watch. Everyone had already been through so much, Chandra couldn't bear to watch Deanna be cut open, without her even knowing it.

Chandra reached next to her and absently took Will's hand in support. His hands were ice cold and his eyes unfocused.

It seemed like an eternity. Finally.... "I've got her." Beverly said.

Chandra turned her head to see back to what Beverly was doing. She was slowly bringing her hands out and finally, you could see the baby nestled there.

The baby wasn't breathing, her skin blue/grey in color. Beverly immediately cut the umbilical cord and put the baby in the awaiting incubator.

She worked feverishly. Sweat was pouring down her face, but she would be damned if they would loose the baby too.

Will was frozen in place. He squeezed Chandra's hand so hard it had cut the circulation off. Chandra never felt it.

After what seemed like forever, the babies legs began to move. Finally, she let out a wail, announcing to the world that Ariana Elizabeth Riker had been born.

Tears streamed openly down Beverly's eyes as she lifted Ariana out of the incubator and turned to Will. "She's fine!" Beverly announced.

She walked towards Will, cradling the baby in her arms. She handed Ariana to her Daddy.

The moment he felt her soft skin his knees turned to jelly. His heart absolutely melted. Ariana opened her ebony eyes, barely visible under the blanket she was swaddled in.

Chandra peeked at her. "Oh Gods, she looks just like Deanna." she said between tears.

Will just stared at her. Ariana fixed her eyes on Will's. He reached his mind out to her, just as Deanna had taught him so many years before. He sent all the love he could possible muster to her.

Ariana tightened her fists up into a ball, and then relaxed. Her eyes drifted closed and she settled into a content sleep.

The whole exchange had lasted a few moments, but Will knew that it was a memory which would last a lifetime.

Alyssa came forward and took the baby from him, settling her back into the incubator. Will turned his attention back to Doctor Andrews, who was still working on Deanna.

The incision from the Caesarian section was already closed. They worked feverishly trying to stabilize her blood pressure.

"Come on Deanna, hang with us." Beverly begged in between procedures. Suddenly, the red lights turned yellow again.... Deanna had fought back.

"We've got her stabilized Doctor" Doctor Andrews said.

Beverly turned to Will and smiled. "We'll keep her here for a while longer until we're sure she's stabilized. Then she'll be moved back into the private room."

Will nodded. Beverly continued, "The baby is fine, she'll sleep the rest of the night. If all goes well, I'll discharge her to your quarters tomorrow afternoon."

Will nodded again. He still hadn't moved, as if he was frozen to the very spot he had started in.

Chandra reached forward. "Will, won't don't you go back to your quarters and rest. This will probably be the last time you'll get a nights to sleep in a long time." She smiled.

Will just nodded sadly. He walked into the nursery, and put his pinkie finger in Ariana's fist. "Goodnight Little One, I'll see you tomorrow."

He walked to Deanna, and kissed her on the forehead. He reached out, hoping within some hope that she would respond in some way to his thought castings.

He walked away, feeling empty and dejected.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

The following evening, Will sat in Deanna's private room rocking Ariana.

The baby was doing wonderfully. Beverly has discharged her, proclaiming her to be the most beautiful and hungry baby she's ever delivered.

Will looked down at his little miracle. She was beautiful. Her fair skin was the color of porcelain, which set off her dark ebony eyes even more. She had definitely inherited those traits from Deanna.

A few red curls peeked out from under the newborn cap on her head. Her red hair was an inherited trait from Will's mother. It was one of the few things he remembered of her.

Will leaned his head back on the chair. Ariana squirmed a bit, settling back into place before going back to sleep.

Will just sat and stared. In his arms was all that he had left. This little baby was everything to him. She was all that was left of his and Deanna's love... a love that had spanned twenty years, through dozens of galaxies, and innumerable circumstances. A love that was supposed to last until the end of time.

Will's tears flowed openly down his face. Ariana was it.... she was all he had left to Deanna. The link he had shared with her for so long was now dead on one end... it left him empty, alone, afraid. Now, Ariana WAS that link... the only link he'd ever have.

Beverly walked into the room. She stopped when she saw Will. He looked up at her, not bothering to hide his emotions.

Beverly walked over and peeked at the baby still sleeping in his arms. She smiled. "She's such a little angel."

Will smiled, despite his tears. "She is beautiful, isn't she?"

Beverly smiled even wider. "And it's about time we had more redheads on board."

Ariana choose that moment to open her eyes. She looked around groggily and popped her little hand up into the air. After a few moments, she drifted back off. "May I?" Beverly asked.

Will nodded, handing the baby to Beverly. She sat down in the chair on the other side of Deanna's bed, holding the baby close. Will reached forward and took Deanna's still hand.

"She's never coming back, is she Beverly?" he asked.

Beverly took a deep breath. "I can't say for sure Will." She carefully chose her next words. Slowly, she said, "But after all this time, I personally don't think so."

"She hasn't been alive for a long while has she?" He stumbled over his next words. "She wouldn't even be with us if it wasn't for these machines." He motioned at the large monitors above Deanna's head.

Beverly nodded. "Unless a miracle happens Will, these machines are the only life Deanna has." Will suddenly stood up and took the baby back. Sitting back down, he stared down at her.

"I can't do it Beverly... I can't keep asking for miracles."

"The decision if yours Will.. no one can make that choice for you."

His tears began again, they ran down his face and dropped onto the babies blanket. He whispered to her, "I'm so so sorry.... I'm so sorry Little One."

He looked at Beverly.

"Tomorrow, I'd like to gather Deanna's closest friends together....... we're....we're going to let her go."

Beverly began to cry. Nodding, she walked over and wrapped her arms around his head. "I'll get together with Chandra and make the necessary arrangements."

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

Each of Deanna's friends on board the Enterprise had taken their turns saying their private good-bye's to Deanna.

Chandra took an extra long time. After all they had been through, after all they helped each through, it all seemed so senseless.

She stood after saying her final silent goodbye, she was helped out of the room by Doctor Andrews. Her grief was immeasurable.

Will entered her room, holding Ariana. He sat on the edge of Deanna's bed, and pulled Deanna's arm forward, laying Ariana in it.

Still holding her arm so the baby didn't slip, he began to speak. "I-I wanted you to be able to hold her at least one time."

His emotions threatened to overwhelm him. After a few moments, he lifted Ariana and laid her into the crib which had been set up for Will's visits.

Sitting back with Deanna, he took her hand. "I don't know what to say Imzadi. We.. we've been through everything together. You're the other half of everything that I am.. what am I going to do without you?"

"I love you Deanna... I always have, and I always will. I-I promise that Ariana will know everything there is to know about you. She'll never forget who you are... I'll never let her forget. I'll never forget either."

It was too much.... too much. He cried openly and loudly, the baby picking up on his emotions began to cry. Beverly rushed into the room and pulled him tightly, Picard coming in behind her and lifting Ariana into his arms. Will held tightly onto Beverly, staring at Deanna, pleading with her to open her eyes.

"Please Deanna... please...." he begged between sobs. Collapsing on to his knees, he struggled to catch his breath.

"Will-" Jean-Luc began, rocking the baby gently.

Will didn't answer, didn't hear, didn't understand. Finally, Picard raised his voice.

"Commander Riker, your daughter needs you!" He said sternly.

Will looked up at Picard, blinking his eyes as if he didn't understand. Finally, he stood and took the baby, and stared at a miniature version of Deanna's eyes looking back at him.

Beverly motioned for Chandra, Data and Geordi to come into the room. Chandra thought it would be better if Deanna's family was all together. Lwaxana had been unable to make the trip, due to her son being in the hospital with the flu. She had said her good-byes through her link to her only daughter.

Chandra leaned on Geordi's shoulder, Data stood unmoving, choosing to say a proper goodbye to Deanna with his emotion chip on, Beverly leaned on Captain Picard. Will sat with Ariana in the rocking chair, balancing her in one arm, holding on to Deanna's hand with the other.

Telepathically, he sent to Deanna..~I love you Deanna... we'll never forget... and we'll never say goodbye~

Taking a deep breath and holding the baby tight, he nodded to Doctor Andrews.

The doctor stepped forward.... taking a deep breath and typed in a small sequence of keys.

All of the monitors turned red, the heartbeat monitor leaving a resounding steady trill throughout the room, drowning out the tears and sobs.

Moments later, Will felt the emptiness envelope him. It got darker...

and darker....

and darker....

until it totally overwhelmed him.

Disclaimers in Chapter One Still Apply

Captain Jean-Luc Picard glanced around at his Senior Officers as the transporter beam released them into the humid night air of Betazed.

Smiling he said, "Well, it's good to see that things haven't changed any since the last time we were here."

Data looked confused. "Captain, we were just here 24 months ago for Commander Riker and Counselor Troi's wedding. Did you expect the planet to have changed in such a short amount of time?"

"No Data, I was just making small talk." He said, trying not to laugh.

Beverly smiled. "Well, at least we know what to expect this time. And, Chandra won't come sneaking up behind us beings she's the bride this time around!"

Picard laughed. Walking into the chapel, they removed their clothing and settled into the wedding sanctuary. After several moments, the gong sounded.

Beverly looked at the smile on Will's face as he stood before the minister, holding Ariana. Ariana watched the whole scene before her with wide eyes. Seeing the Captain, she giggled and tried to wave.

Ariana was still working on that. She had it backwards, but the sentiment was still there. Beverly and the Captain waved back.

Will, still smiling, hugged Ariana tight. She giggled more, causing the guests at the chapel to laugh.

Finally, the maid of honor walked out. Standing in front of Chandra, she announced, "I summon you to the place of marriage."

Chandra stood and took her hand. Walking forward, Chandra joined hands with her fiance.

The clergyman began:

"Gathered friends, one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever been granted is to bond a daughter of the Third House of Betazed to the man she has chosen to spend her life with."

"William T. Riker, do you accept the responsibility of providing support, peace, and caring to Geordi LaForge throughout his bond to The Third House."

"I do." Will stepped forward, shook Geordi's hand, and stepped back.

"Deanna Troi Riker, do you accept the responsibility of providing support, peace and caring to Chandra Xerx throughout her marriage?"

"I do." Deanna said, quickly hugging Chandra and stepping next to Will.

Ariana chose that moment to dive into Deanna's arms. Barely catching her, she pulled her tight and tried to settle her down. Will wrapped his arm around Deanna's shoulder and watched the rest of the ceremony, giving silent thanks for the one last miracle he had been given.

At the reception, Geordi and Chandra were off in their own little world. Beverly and Jean-Luc were entertaining Ariana, so Will and Deanna decided to sneak off for a dance.

Swaying slightly to the music, Deanna laid her head on Will's chest. After a few moments, she looked up at him.

"Tell me what you're thinking Imzadi." She said.

"I'm just thinking about how close I came to loosing you.... how that big place in my soul that belongs to you suddenly seemed as dark and cold as the void of space."

She sighed. "Will, you shouldn't think about that. This is supposed to be a happy day. Look at how happy Chandra and Geordi are." She gestured over to the newlyweds who were feeding each other oscoids.

"Nothing filled me with happiness more than when I met you, when we first kissed, when we first made love. I didn't even know what happiness was until we were married, until I held Ariana for the first time. I actually felt guilty for being happy when I held her because you were...." The emotions threatened him again.

"Shhhh, Imzadi. Don't. I'm here now. I'm healthy, Ariana is healthy, you're healthy, that's all that matters. The here and now... not the then."

He leaned down and kissed her fully on the lips. "I remember the happiness that went through me when that heart monitor went from blank to registering your heart."

"My heart has always belonged to you Will." She said.

"And when you opened your eyes, my God, it was like the sun and moon rises in your eyes. You are my life Deanna, and you always will be. I don't know what I've done to deserve to wonderful miracles like you and Ariana....."

"Shhh, Will. I love you, you know that. I swore the day you first left Betazed that I'd never say goodbye to you.. and I never will." She smiled.

She tucked her head back under his chin as he enveloped her fully in his arms. They danced together in the moonlight, waiting for the next miracle to come.

The End. 8-)