Then and Again

"Then and Again"
By Deb Gramlich
Chapter One


"Will, don't wander too far!" Kyle Riker's voice boomed.


"Yeah yeah Dad" Will called back. Rolling his eyes, he continued his explorations. A luscious forest surrounded the river that lead away from Angel Falls. It was considered a perfect vacation spot, especially for Starfleet families who needed to get their feet back on the ground after months in space.


"Sheesh, you might think I was a baby or something." Will muttered to himself. After all, he was five years old. He was used to wandering through the woods near his home in Valdez, Alaska. So, why should this vacation spot be any different?


Will went sprawling to the ground. Rolling over, he saw the culprit... a tree root stretched across the path he had just been following. Standing, he looked down at his bloody, skinned knee. Sighing, he headed to a clearing in the woods hoping that he could get closer to the water.


Bending down at the waters edge, he began cleaning up his wound. Realizing that water wasn't going to help much, he flopped down on his behind. "Dad's right, I am a klutz."


"Huh?" a voice came from behind him.


Will spun to see a little girl standing about five feet behind him. She had dark brown hair that spun all the way down her back. Her eyes were as black as coal, her skin darkened, probably from the sun.


"No, I was... I was talking to nobody." Will answered.


The little girl nodded her head. "Oh, sorry to bug you, I was just kind of bored." She said.


Will nodded. "That's okay, I'm bored to. You can only look at the river so much before it gets boring. I want to go rafting but my Dad won't let me."


The little girl smiled. Hiking her sundress up above her knees, she flopped down next to Will on the ground.


"Your Dad sounds like my mother. Just do what I do... when my mommy says no I just go to daddy. He almost always says yes." She giggled. Then looking serious, she added... "Sometimes, they get mad at each other though."


"Well, I can't go to my Mom. She died a long time ago. I never knew her."


"Oh, that's too bad." She said, looking a bit troubled.


"S'okay" Will said. "So, where are you from?


"Oh, not from around here. My Daddy brought me and my Mommy here for a trip. It took us 3 whole days to get here!" she said exasperated.


"So you don't like it here?" Will asked.


"Oh, I think it's so pretty, but my Mother gets headaches being around so many people, and this kind of looks like home anyway." Pausing for a moment, she asked, "So, where are you from?"


"Here on Earth, well not HERE here, I'm from Alaska."


"Isn't it really cold there?"


"Most of the time. Dad brought me here to 'get a taste of what life can be like if you risk the adventures'." Will had changed his voice to match his dad's as close as he could, which elicited a series of giggles from the little girl.


"You sound just like a grown up." She said, wrinkling her nose.


Will laughed. "I don't ever want to sound like a grown up, they're so boring."


"Really!" the girl agreed.


Silence came between them again. Finally, the little girl asked, "Do you want to go swimming?"


"Sure... but I don't have a suit on. Dad will kill me if he knows I went swimming without a grown up around."


"So, don't tell your Dad." she said.


"Well, he'll notice my clothes are wet!" Will demanded.


"Fine, then stay here, I'm going swimming." The little girl stood and unbuttoned the front of her dress. Moments later, she had dropped her dress and underpants, and was wading into the river.


Will shrugged and followed suit. He waded out into the warm water, following the path she had taken.


"How old are you?" she asked.


"Five. How about you?"


"Four, but I'll be five next March."


"Oh, I just turned five in August."


"So what does your Daddy do?" she asked.


"He does a lot of traveling and talking to people. He tries to make them get along.

He's called a diplomat."


"Oh, my Daddy just works for Starfleet." She said sort of disappointed.


Will's eyes widened. "Your daddy is a Starfleet officer?!"


She nodded. "Yeah, he's gone all the time, but I don't know exactly what he does."


"Wow!" Will said. "What does your Mom do?"


She thought for a minute. Finally, she shrugged her small shoulders. "She talks a lot."


Will giggled. "That sounds great."


She giggled. "Sometimes.... well, most of the time. I miss my Dad when he's gone all the time. Me and mother don't like to do the same stuff, but Daddy and I do everything together!"


"You're lucky." Will said.


"LITTLE ONE"!!!!! A voice bellowed from the wooded area.


"Oh no, that's my mother, I've got to go!" She began wading out of the water. Throwing her clothes on, she turned around. "Thanks for swimming with me!"


She turned and began rushing away. "Hey!" Will called.


She turned. "What's your name?" He asked.


She smiled. "Deanna, Deanna Troi. What's yours?"


"Will Riker."


"Maybe I'll see ya again Will Riker!" She rushed back through the woods. Will smiled and began floating on his back. "Deanna... Deanna Troi." he repeated.


By the time Will Riker left Angel Falls two weeks later, the name Deanna Troi was forgotten.


To Be Continued...........


"Then and Again"

Chapter Two

Doctor Beverly Crusher sat across from Will Riker and Deanna Troi frustrated.

They had been discussing ideas and plans for what seemed like hours.... nothing had panned out.

"Come on guys, help me out here!" She begged.

Will and Deanna looked at each other, then to her, and shrugged. Smiling, Deanna said, "Beverly, why don't we take a break? We don't have to do all of this now."

Beverly looked at her incredulously. "You've got to be kidding. I've been trying to get you two together for years, and now that we're planning your wedding, I'll be damned if we're going anywhere until it's planned."

Will and Deanna laughed. "Well, Beverly, so far we've come up with absolutely nothing we can agree on."

Beverly thought for a minute. "So far, we've agreed that it's going to be a half Earth, half Betazoid, clothing optional wedding. But we need decor... or a theme."

Will and Deanna thought for a minute. Beverly stood from the table, stretched her long frame and walked to the bar to refill her drink.

Turning around, she saw Will and Deanna in the midst of a long, passionate kiss. "Oh no you two. No one is going anywhere until this is done."

Will looked at her with pleading eyes. "Don't even try it Commander, I can pull rank on you remember." Beverly said.

Looking down at the table, he let the "little lost puppy" look take over his face. Deanna laughed. "He can get his way with anyone but you by doing that." She said to Beverly.

After a few moments, Beverly said, "Where did you guys first meet?"

Both of them smiled. "At the Academy, not exactly your standard 'romantic candlelight dinner'." Will laughed.

Beverly sighed again. "Well, tell me about it. Maybe I'll get an idea."

Will and Deanna exchanged a look. Will took a sip of his synthehol.

"Well, I guess it all began on Orientation Day at the Academy..."

September 2355
Starfleet Academy
San Francisco, Earth

Cadet William T. Riker strode across the campus of Starfleet Academy, engrossed in thought.

He had just arrived to begin his third year. He knew this year was going to be tough. Most cadets washed out in the third year. But, Will knew he'd be okay. Starfleet has always been his dream, so he'd do what he had to to get good grades and be prepared for his Fourth and final year.

Glancing across the courtyard, he saw several familiar faces. He felt a familiar presence coming up behind him. Before he could turn, someone had jumped on his back and got him into a choker hold.

Will pulled his arms back and pried the person off of him. Laughing, he punched them in the arm. "Gee Ed, why can't you say 'Hello' like everyone else?"

"Aww, what fun is there in that?!" Ed responded.

Laughing, Will clapped Ed on the shoulder. "So, how was your break?"

"Oh, it was great. I met a girl my first week home." Ed said.

Will smiled. "So did I!"

Ed laughed. "Yeah, and how many more did you meet after her?"

Will laughed. "A few."

"Uh huh" Ed laughed.

Walking across the courtyard, they saw a transport shuttle lifting off from the landing pad.

"Hey Will, look, here comes the fresh meat!"

Will winced at that comment. He hated hearing anyone referred to as being 'meat', let alone their fellow cadets. Of course, he's sure that someone said the same thing about him once upon a time.

"Ed, you don't mince words do you?" He said.

"Nah, be direct and to the point, that's my motto." Ed said. "Come on, do you want to see what the new crop of cadets look like?"

Will smiled. "Looking for dates already Ed?"

Ed shrugged. "Possibly. Come on!" Ed began jogging towards the terminal that sat next to the landing pad.

Will walked nonchalantly. Ed had already disappeared in the mass of heads that had begun streaming out of the terminal, heading towards the registration building.

Will noticed someone sitting on a bench by herself next to the terminal. She had her head down, almost laying it on her knees. She seemed to be in distress, but none of the other cadets paid much attention.

Will walked up. "Hey, are you okay?"

She lifted her head and looked him square in the face. He felt his knees turn to gelatinous goop.

She was gorgeous. Her eyes were dark black pools that Will could have dove right into. She had porcelain skin that was set off by her long, wavy black hair. Her smile brought a twinkle to her eyes.

"I'm fine, thanks for asking." She responded.

Will sat down next to her. "You didn't look fine a minute ago."

She nodded. "I don't have too much experience being on Earth. It takes me a while to adjust my senses to being around so many humans."

"You're Betazoid right?" He asked.

She smiled again. "Half, my Father was human. Do you keep a record of all the new cadets arriving here?" She asked with a lilt in her voice.

"No." He smiled back. "Your eyes are a dead giveaway... and your accent."

She laughed lightly. Standing, she said, "Well, I better head to the registration office before they send out a search party. Thanks again for checking on me." She stuck her hand out.

"Will, Will Riker." He said, taking her hand.

As soon as their skin touched, they felt something warm and familiar.. an electricity that seemed destined to be only for the two of them.

She jerked her hand back, looking at it as if she was noticing it for the first time. Finally, looking into his eyes, she said quietly. "I'm Deanna Troi."

Will bent slightly at the waist. "Nice to meet you Miss Troi." He said smiling. She spun on her heel and walked towards the registration building.

Will watched her go, unable take his eyes off of her. He didn't even hear Ed making his way up behind him.

"Man Will, you don't waste any time do you!" Ed laughed.

Will grinned sheepishly at him. "She's amazing." He said.

Ed looked seriously at him. "Will, she's a first year Cadet. I usually don't do this, but just from looking at her, I wouldn't deem her as Starfleet material."

Will looked angry for a moment, but then his face fell slightly. "Yeah, I know. As big as this campus is, I might not ever see her again."

Ed nodded. "Not to mention that we're Third Year Will, we'll be spending most of our time on training flights and simulators. You can't expect to have a serious relationship with anyone AND have a Starfleet career. It just doesn't happen."

Will sighed. "Hey, who said I'm thinking about a serious relationship anyway?" He joked.

Ed laughed and clapped Will on the shoulder. "That's the 'Will The Thrill' that I know!" Laughing, the two friends walked towards the dorms.

To be continued in chapter 3

"Then and Again"

Chapter Three

Six months later, Will sat dejectedly in the chairs outside of his advisor's office. He knew why he was there.... his grades in Conversational Klingon were terrible. He was squeaking by, barely hanging on exam to exam.

Admiral Tanguay peeked her head out of the office. "Come on in Will."

Will shuffled quietly into her office. Sitting down, he waited for the Admiral to begin.

"Do you know why you're here Mr. Riker?" She asked.

Will nodded. "I think so."

"If you were having trouble Will, you should have come to me much sooner. We could have gotten you into a study group."

Will thought for a moment. "Well, to be honest, it's a bit embarrassing. I'm doing great in all of my other classes, but there's something about this one that's really getting me."

The Admiral smiled. "Well, it's nice to know that we have at least one class here at the Academy which is presenting you a challenge."

Will sighed. "So, what options do I have?"

"Well, because you waited so long, your only chance of passing the class is to get at least an 87 on your final exam in six weeks, so your chances of being helped in a study group aren't very high."

The Admiral thought for a moment. "Your best bet is to find a fellow cadet who would be willing to tutor you privately, one on one." Admiral Tanguay spun her computer console around and typed in a few keys. "Oh yes, here's the perfect person! Cadet Troi will do nicely I believe."

Will sat up straight in his chair. "You want me to ask a first year cadet to tutor me?" He asked incredulously.

"First year cadet, I don't know what you're talking about,but she's a third year student in Starfleet Medical."

Will sat, confused for a moment. Admiral Tanguay added, "And she's finishing Conversational Klingon with a 97 average, that's without taking her final exam."

Sighing, Will nodded. He definitely liked the idea of seeing Deanna Troi again, but the thought of asking her to tutor him was a bit embarrassing. Of course, he could try to turn the tutoring sessions into something more...

Admiral Tanguay continued. "It's your choice Will. But, if you fail this class you will have to take it either over the summer or next semester, and I don't suggest adding such a hard course to your fourth year workload." Admiral Tanguay looked at her computer screen.

"I sent a message to Cadet Troi. She is in dorm room 1418, she'll be expecting you."

Will stood. "Thank You Admiral."

Admiral Tanguay nodded. "You're a good cadet Will, you'll make a fine Starfleet Officer one day. I'd hate to see you get mired down in something like this."

Will flashed her a smile. Nodding, he left her office in search of the Troi dorm room.

To be continued in chapter 4

"Then and Again"

Chapter Four

Will walked confidently into the 1400 building. He headed down the first hallway to his left.

All of the dorm buildings at the Academy were designed in the same exact manner. His dorm room was 1622, so finding 1418 would be a piece of cake.

Sure enough, moments later he stopped outside the door. Checking that his uniform was straight and his hair lying down in the right places, he rang the chime.

After a few moments, garbled music which was being played loudly from somewhere suddenly stopped. He could hear someone walking towards the door. He smiled expecting to see the beautiful brunette he had met on Orientation Day.

Instead, when the door slid open, a tall woman with long red hair and piercing blue eyes greeted him. He was greeted with "Look, if you're going to complain about the music, don't bother, I'm leaving for class in a few minutes anyway."

The door slid shut.

Will stood frozen to his spot, his mouth still gaped open from trying to say hello. He snapped his mouth closed. Totally confused and perplexed, he rang the chime again.

The door slid open immediately. "What now?!" The redhead spat at him.

"Uh ...Admiral Tanguay sent me here. I'm looking for Cadet Troi."

The redhead looked confused for a minute. "The Admiral sent you, you said? Hmmm."

She turned and walked from the door and headed to one of the work desks in the room. 'Well, at least she didn't slam the door on my face again' Will thought. Taking the open door as an invitation, he followed her in.

She looked at him again. "Oh sorry, have a seat, let me see if I can figure this out." She began reading her messages, mumbling to herself.

"Okay, this should be easy... delete, delete, delete." She continued to mumble as she deleted most of the messages on her terminal.

"Ah, here it is." She opened a message from Admiral Tanguay. "Oh, okay, you need a tutor for Conversational Klingon? No problem!" She said with a smile.

Will just nodded. He'd never met anyone like this person before in his life... and he couldn't believe he witnessed a Starfleet Cadet deleting messages like she just had. After witnessing her behavior, he didn't think he could manage a verbal word in edgewise anyway.

She picked up a data PADD and began typing feverishly on it. "Okay, here's my schedule. My clinicals are from 11PM-7AM now, so I sleep until the afternoon. So, just send me a message when you figure we can meet and I'll get you all fixed up in time for your final." She tossed the PADD to him.

It hit his chest and fell stupidly to the floor. Will just looked at it. Finally, he managed to bend and pick it up. He just turned and started walking towards the door.

"Hey, what's your name?" She asked.

"Will Riker." He mumbled.

"Great, now I'll know not to delete your message." She said with a laugh, following him to the door. "I'm Elyssia. Okay, I've got a class in 20 minutes and I still have to shower, so just send me that message. SeeYaLaterBye" the door slid shut.

Will practically ran out of the building. He definitely didn't want to be in Elyssia's way when she came flying out of her room to go to class.

To be continued in chapter 5

"Then and Again"

Chapter Five

Will shuddered with trepidation before entering the 1400 building for his first tutoring lesson with Elyssia.

He had tried sorting out the mess that muddled his mind. He was sure that Deanna had said her last name was Troi, but Elyssia certainly wasn't the brunette he remembered.

Will had quizzed Ed. If anyone knew anything about a beautiful brunette cadet, it was Ed. And of course, living up to his reputation, he knew that Deanna was indeed a first year cadet, not in Starfleet Medical, and was a gorgeous Betazoid with a body that didn't end.

So, who the hell was the redhead?

Rolling his eyes, he rang the chime to room 1418 and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

He rang the chime again. He could hear the sound of someone walking around in the room, but no one answered the door. Well, it didn't sound like walking, it sounded like stomping.

Finally, he banged on the door, and still received no answer. Stepping closer, he was surprised when the door opened on it's own. Walking very slowly inside, he stopped dead in his tracks.

Elyssia was facing away from the door, a set of headphones covering her ears, dancing and gyrating around like the world would come to an end if she stopped.

"Uh, Elyssia?" Will said hopefully loud enough for her to hear.

She didn't... or if she did she ignored him. She just kept dancing and spinning. Will stood for a few more moments, his arms crossed in anger.

Finally, she stopped and turned to him. "Hey Will, sorry but I adore that song! Come set up at the desk and we'll get started."

"I don't know what kind of schedule you keep Elyssia, but I don't like to be kept waiting. I need all the study time I can get." He said angrily.

To his surprise, she busted out laughing. "I can tell by your grades in Klingon!"

Will was exasperated. He slammed his text down on the desk and flopped himself into one of the two chairs there.

"Want something to drink?" Elyssia asked innocently.

"No, thank you." Will responded.

Elyssia reached into one of the closet spaces to a hidden mini cooling unit and pulled out a cola.

Will's eyes widened. "How on Earth did you sneak that into the dorm?" He asked.

Elyssia smiled. "My aunt keeps us supplied with whatever she feels we need. Sneaking a cooling unit into the dorm was fairly easy actually, the replicator was harder."

Will stood and walked over to the closet in shock. Sure enough, nestled across from the cooling until was a mini-replicator, both units fitted with their own power sources.

"Oh my...." Will said.

Elyssia laughed. "But of course! You don't think I'm going to spend eight years here at the Academy without my Aunt spoiling me some do you?"

Shaking his head, Will returned to his seat at the desk. How this one was ever going to make it in Starfleet was beyond him.

Elyssia flopped unceremoniously into the chair next to him. Picking up the Klingon text, she pulled a worksheet up.

"Okay, so tell me what's troubling you..." She said.

"Well, most of my problems are coming from pronoun usage with the proper verb conjugation-" He began.

"Ah, that's easy enough to fix." She smiled.

She began typing furiously on the data PADD. Amazingly enough, everything she was typing made absolute sense to Will. Within a few moments, she had typed the entire pronoun list with each set of possible conjugations.

Will watched as she typed, fascinated. So, beyond her carefree exterior, there was someone with a brain after all.

"Am I really that surprising to you Will?" She asked.

Sitting back a bit, he looked at her with brows furrowed. He rose to the bait. "You certainly don't look like a Betazoid, or any other kind of mind reader... so how can you be so sure what's going through my mind?"

Elyssia sat back and looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm not a telepath. Or an empath for that matter. But, I'm used to people thinking that way about me. I like to relax, kick back, and have fun as often as I possibly can. But, that doesn't mean I'm not smart, or that I'm not serious with my studies."

Looking at him for a moment, she nodded her head before continuing. "Did you know that I'm in the top five percentile of my class at Starfleet Medical?"

Will slowly shook his head, feeling like a total cretin. Elyssia poked him in the shoulder. "Hey, don't worry about it! I guess this means my super duper secret agent undercover assignment is working!"

Will laughed. Settling back down in front of the primer, they began to work. Elyssia's way of explaining things made Klingon seem so much easier. He got so engrossed that he didn't hear the door open.

Will heard someone clear their throat from across the room. Looking up and over Elyssia's head, he saw Deanna standing in the doorway. Will leaped immediately to his feet, knocking several primers to the floor in his rush.

Elyssia never looked up from her primer, but busted out laughing. "Damn Deanna, you're going to have to show me how to get that response out of men."

Deanna rolled her eyes and made her way to the neatly kept side of the dorm room. "Well, perhaps if you had told me you were going to have company I wouldn't have startled Mister-- Riker isn't it?" She asked.

Will nodded, almost stupefied. Deanna had grown even more beautiful in the past six months than he remembered. Her hair was a bit longer, and there was an absolute twinkle in her face that made her glow.

She was, in his book, absolutely amazing.

Elyssia finally looked up at Will. "Well, are you just going to stand there leering at my cousin or are we going to finish this?

Will flopped back down. "C-Cousin?"

Elyssia laughed. "Yeppers. Deanna's father is my Dad's brother... well, he was I should say." Furrowing her brow for a moment, she looked over to Deanna.

Deanna was laying her primers on her desk and shaking her head, a smile written across her face. "Believe it or not Will, any problems you might be having in academics, Elyssia will probably be able to help you."

Elyssia wiped away her comment with a wave of her hand. She looked up at Will who was still staring at Deanna. Using her pointer finger, she placed it on Will's chin and turned his head back to the primers. "Oh, you've got it bad Will." She whispered.

Blushing furiously, he whispered back, "I don't even know her."

Elyssia smiled. Out loud she said, "Well see, we both said that you came to the right person!"

Will couldn't help but smile.

To Be Continued in Chapter Six

"Then and Again"

Chapter Six

Will strode across the garden area of the academy with confidence in his step. After only a few sessions with Elyssia, his work in Conversational Klingon had continued to improve.

In class a few moments earlier, the teacher had thrust a pop quiz on them. Will had aced it without so much of a thought.

Will sensed someone coming up behind him. Spinning, he saw Elyssia jogging up, juggling her text PADDs.

"Hey Will! I heard Professor Conover gave a pop quiz today, how'd ya do?"

Will smiled. "Got a perfect grade."

"All right, good for you! I think we've got your basic groundwork laid down, so I really don't think you'll need me to tutor you anymore. So, I'll see ya at 1800 hours tonight?"

She began to walk away. "Wait!" Will called, confused.

Elyssia smiled. "We've got your Klingon groundwork laid down, now you have to lay the groundwork for Deanna! Her classes are done at 1830." With a smile, she disappeared down one of the well-worn paths.

Will smiled and shook his head. But, deep down, he couldn't shake the feeling that laying any kind of groundwork with Deanna was going to be much harder.

"Come on, don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about!" Deanna said in frustration.

Elyssia looked at her with as much of an innocent face she could muster. "I told you, I don't know what you're talking about."

Deanna hmmphed and she threw herself down on her bed. Rubbing her forehead, she looked at her cousin in frustration. "Elyssia, God I wished my classes hadn't gotten done early. You know I'm having enough trouble getting adjusted here. I don't need you trying to set me up every time I turn around."

Elyssia was undaunted. "Deanna, did you ever think that maybe JUST what you need is a man?"

Deanna's face immediately turned two shades of red. Elyssia smiled.

"Uh huh. And you can't tell me that Will Riker isn't adorable."

"Well, then you date him."

"I don't want to date him. I want YOU to date him."

"Elyssia, I don't want to be involved with anyone right now. I'm just getting a taste of my first bit of freedom from Mother, I'm not ready to share that part of my life with anyone right now."

"Then don't share your life, just share your bed!"

"Oh my-" The chime at the door interrupted the tirade Deanna was about to go on. Elyssia seeking the opportunity to get off the hook, rushed to answer it.

"Oh look Deanna, it's Will!" She said extra loudly. Will walked in and saw Deanna laying on her stomach on her bed, her face almost purple from... what looked like embarrassment.

"I'm sorry if you two are in the middle of something, we can reschedule the tutoring session if you want." Will said, trying to help Deanna out of whatever situation she was in.

"Oh, nonsense Will! Go set up at the desk and I'll be right back." Elyssia rushed out the door, leaving Will and Deanna alone.

After a few minutes of complete silence, Will offered, "Your cousin is quite a character."

Deanna smiled. "Oh yes, she always has been. She's so much like my Mother, it's scary."

Will shuddered at the thought of anyone being like Elyssia. "Does she live on Earth or Betazed?" He asked.

"Usually, wherever she wants. She's spent a lot of time with my Mother and me on Betazed, I think that's had a lot of influence on her." Deanna smiled, shaking her head.

"Tell me about it?" Will asked.

"About what?"

"Betazed. I mean, I know what we read in the texts, but it sounds so boring. If she learned to be like that from being on Betazed, it definitely sounds like a planet I'd like to visit one day." He said laughing.

Deanna joined in with his laughter. She moved to the one love seat nestled into the corner of the dorm room. Will stood and walked over to join her.

Deanna thought for a moment, and then began speaking about the home she missed so much. Will was totally absorbed in her description, just enjoying her voice and being so close to her.

Neither one of them realized Elyssia was back until she literally walked into their view. Turning their heads in surprise, Elyssia noted that they both looked like the 'cat that swallowed the canary'.

"Uh guys, as much as I hate to do this, I've got to get ready for my clinical class."

"Your clinical isn't until 2300 I thought?" Deanna asked.

Elyssia smiled. "Oh yes my dear cousin. And it is now 2200!"

Will jumped to his feet. "Oh my God, curfew-" He rushed directly out the door, not having time to say goodnight.

Elyssia turned and looked at Deanna, 'I told you so' written all across her face.

"Don't even start" Deanna said.

Lifting the sheets and blanket, Deanna didn't bother to change for bed. She quickly slipped into a sleep filled with images of Will Riker.

To be continued in chapter seven

"Then and Again"

Chapter Seven

Will desperately had to get out of the sciences building.

Walking quickly, he pushed through the doors and into the bright sunshine. Yes, FREEDOM!

Will had just finished taking his last final exam of his Third Academy Year.

The past several weeks seemed to be endless. His class had been sent on several training maneuvers, which of course left little time for their 'other pursuits'.

Will hadn't see Elyssia at all, and barely passed Deanna one time rushing from the cafeteria.

Most of the cadets would be leaving tomorrow to return to their respective homes. Will himself was returning to his aunt's house in Alaska, so he would have to say goodbye to Deanna and Elyssia tonight.

Leaning against one of the fences Boothby had erected to keep the cadets off his flowers, Will closed his eyes and basked in the sunshine.

"Hi Will."

Will spun on his heel and was immediately sucked into Deanna's abyssal eyes. Smiling, he told her, "I was just thinking about you."

Deanna smiled and walked over to the fence, leaning against it. "Well, that could be a good or bad sign."

Will laughed. ~~Thinking about you is always a good thing~~ He thought.

"Ah, if you say so." She said smiling.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Will asked.

"I answered what you said. You said,'Thinking about you is always a good thing'" She said, a puzzled look on her face.

"I thought you and Elyssia said that you can't read minds!" He said a bit indignant, also a bit embarrassed by some of the thoughts that came plowing through his mind sometimes.

"Will, I don't understand, I can't read minds." Her face flushed.

"But I didn't say that, I just thought it." He looked down at her.

She looked deep in thought for a moment. Looking a bit flustered, she said to him. "I'm sorry Will, I have to go. If I don't see you before tomorrow, have a nice summer."

She walked... no practically ran from him. Will tried to calm her, "Deanna, maybe it was just one of those fluke things." But, in her haste, she never heard him.

"Oh My God Deanna, do you know what this means?!" Elyssia said, sitting next to her cousin on her bed.

"Elyssia.... it's impossible."

Elyssia reached out and rubbed Deanna's back. "Deanna, why is it impossible? Everyone who has Betazoid blood has different abilities. For you being only half Betazoid, your mental powers are VERY strong. So, why are you so dead set against the idea that you can find your soul mate?"

Deanna rolled over to her back, staring at the ceiling. "My God Elyssia, can you imagine? I'm barely 20 years old, and now I've already met the man that I'm destined to share my body, mind and soul with for the rest of my life? It CAN'T happen."

Elyssia stared at her for a moment. "And how are you going to stop it?" She asked gently.

"I'm... I'm just not going to let it happen."

Elyssia saw the sadness and confusion in Deanna's face. Slowly, a tear trickled down her face. Elyssia reached down and wiped it away.

"Whatever happens, I'm here, just remember that." She said.

Deanna nodded her head and continued to stare into space. Elyssia thought that perhaps, Deanna really believed she could see the future.

To be continued in chapter 8

"Then and Again"

Chapter Eight

Deanna rushed towards the transport that would begin her on the long journey home to Betazed.

This would be the first time making the long trip home since the semester started last September. Her mother had made it a point to throw it into her face every time they spoke through communique, but Deanna's time off was way too short.

Deanna also had to admit to the fact that she liked being away from her mother for an extended period of time. She loved her dearly, but sometimes she was a bit...overbearing.

Deanna also enjoyed spending time with her relatives on Earth. She very rarely ever got to see them, so spending days, sometimes weeks with them was an added treat... and a welcome respite from her studies.

Elyssia had left earlier in the day. The trip back to her home only took minutes. They had said their quick goodbyes. Elyssia hesitated leaving Deanna alone, knowing the turmoil that was going on in her mind, but Deanna relented.

Looking ahead, Deanna hesitated when she saw Will.

~~This is ridiculous, I can't avoid him~~

Will had finally noticed her walking with her shoulder bag. She forced a smile on her face and stopped in front of him.

"I guess I'll see you in September Will." She said.

Will nodded slowly. "Look, Deanna... I'm sorry if I said something to you yesterday that offended you-"

Deanna dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "No, not at all. I just had something on my mind. I'm sorry if I gave you that impression."

The buzzer sounded, signaling final boarding for the transport, causing Will and Deanna to turn and look.

Smiling, Deanna said, "Have a good summer Will."

Deanna leaned forward to give Will a kiss goodbye on the cheek. Some unexplainable force seemed to grab the two of them, pushing them together in an unexplainable way.

Her lips brushed softly across his. Startled, she leaned back, her face turning two shades of red.

Will's eyes were burning like fire. Taking her softly by the shoulders, he pulled her forward again.

This time, they kissed hungrily, their bodies crushed together. Pulling away, Deanna breathlessly whispered, "I have to go."

She turned and jogged to the transport.

The last thing she heard as she entered the transport was "See you in September!"

To Be Continued in Chapter Nine

"Then and Again"

Chapter Nine

Will strode purposefully across the garden area of Starfleet Academy.

Taking a deep breath of salty air, he smiled reveling in the scent.

Summer break was finally over! He never thought his Academy classes would start again. He had been looking forward to his final year at the Academy for as long as he could remember.

Well, not so much his final year at the Academy, he had to admit. He was looking forward to what came after... his career as a Starfleet Officer.

He had wanted to be a Starfleet Officer for as long as he could remember. A life on the go, traveling from one place to the next, all the excitement and adventure of exploring the unknown. He couldn't wait.

Finally coming to the path that led to the dormitories, Will took another deep breath. He had to admit that he was looking forward to seeing the Troi cousins again.

Elyssia had actually become a good friend. They had spoken a few times during the summer break, mostly just exchanging pleasantries. Elyssia had spent most of the summer at the Academy, taking extra classes, so he looked forward to talking to her from time to time. Will guessed that she was actually a little lonely as well, with Deanna being gone for the summer.

Will had inquired about Deanna on a few occasions. Each time, Elyssia said she was fine and quickly changed the subject. Will didn't push, but he didn't understand Elyssia's attitude.

At one point, Will had sent a communique to Betazed. He and Deanna had departed in such a hurry, and he felt that there was so much to say to her.

But, the communique had been returned, having remained unclaimed for the allotted time. Will figured Deanna wasn't at home, perhaps traveling during her break.

Will couldn't help but smile at the memory of the kiss he had shared with Deanna in June. It had been so spontaneous, so passionate... Will had never experienced anything like in his life.

Will walked into his dormitory with his Deanna-induced smile still plastered on his face.

Deanna took a deep breath before stepping off of the transport.

Returning to Earth after an extended period of time on Betazed was always hard. Humans didn't have the same mental discipline that Betazoids did, and stepping back onto Earth's soil was almost like a mental assault to a Betazoid with finely attuned senses.

Slowly, she opened her mind and allowed the emotions to slowly seep in. The transition seemed to be easier each time she had to experience it. Smiling, she began walking slowly towards the dormitories.

Suddenly, an all out assault of senses slammed into her mind from what seemed like all sides. Grabbing her temples, she blocked her mind and spun angrily. Only one person had the ability to do that to her.

"Why must you do that? Why can't you just say hello like everyone else?" She said angrily.

Elyssia stood behind her with a wide-eyed expression on her face. Finally, she grinned.

"Well, well, well dear cousin. What fun is there in that?" She laughed.

Shaking her head, Deanna finally smiled and pulled Elyssia into an embrace. They parted and began walking towards their dorm.

"So, how was Betazed?" Elyssia asked.

Deanna sighed. "Pretty much the same. I spent two months being lectured by mother who was trying to figure out why I'm wasting time going to Starfleet Academy when I could be home finding a suitable husband. The other few weeks I spent hiking to Janaran Falls with a group of friends. That was nice.... and mother free."

Elyssia laughed. "So, were there any gorgeous Betazoid men in this little hiking expedition?"

Deanna smiled. "Maybe a few..."

"Ah... well I need a caffeine fix. So, we'll go drop your bags off and head to the cafe for a jolt. You can tell me ALLLLL about them."

Deanna smiled and followed Elyssia.

To Be Continued...

"Then and Again"

Chapter Ten

Will entered his dorm room, immediately getting angry at the sight that greeted him.

Clothes, PADDS, dirty dishes and general chaos were strewn all around the room. Ed’s side of the room looked as if the floor was made with dirty clothes, and that massive heap had inevitably collapsed to Will’s side.

Angrily, Will used his arm to make a clean sweep of his bed, buried under dirty dishes and crumbs of food. Just as he slung his shoulder bag onto his bunk, Ed strolled into the room.

"Hey Will-" He stopped mid-sentence when he saw the expression on Riker’s face.

"Ed… why?" was all Will could manage.

"Oh, don’t worry Will, I’ll have it all spotless in a little while. I was going to do it last night but… I had a date." He grinned.

Will sighed. Stepping around a pile of uniforms, he headed towards the door. "Ed, you know this will never be acceptable when you’re on assignment."

Ed looked at him. "But Will, we’re not on assignment…. We’re still in the academy!"

Shaking his head, Will left the room.

Walking down one of the many paths which lead around The Academy’s gardens, he decided to head to the café. A nice hot mug of coffee sounded good at that point, and the caffeine would probably help calm his nerves.

Entering the building, he nodded and smiled to his fellow cadets while walking up to the counter, he placed his order and smiled gratefully to the man who served him.

Turning around, Will leaned against the counter and took in the scene. Cadets were spread all over the room, grouped together and heralding each other of their wild adventures of the summer.

Will couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Soon, all of this would be over. They would graduate, be given their first assignment, and most of them would never see each other again. Some would go planet side; some on to distant outposts… and some wouldn’t make it that far.

Watching around the room, he saw a familiar face. Elyssia was sitting in a booth near the windows, laughing hysterically at something her companion had said. Of course, Will knew who that companion was, even though he could only see her back and long brunette hair.

Will felt warmth spread over him at once. It settled around his heart and slid slowly into his belly. His legs felt locked into place, as if someone had user a laser torch to melt his feet to the floor.

‘This is crazy’ he thought. ‘I hardly know her, yet I’m terrified to even walk up and say "hi"’. Shaking his head, he turned himself back towards the counter and ordered another coffee.

"So, Mother finally decided that it was okay for me to live my life however I want to, as long as I’m married, with five children, and living on Betazed." Deanna finished.

Elyssia laughed again. "You know, she’ll never change."

Sipping her hot chocolate, Deanna smile. "No, she’ll just get worse with age." The two cousins laughed at Lwaxana’s expense again.

Elyssia glanced around the room. Noticing Will standing at the counter with his back towards them, she nodded her head.

"Oh look Deanna, there’s your Imzadi."

"Elyssia!" Deanna shouted. Realizing the curious glances she received from their fellow cadets sitting nearby, she lowered her voice again.

"I can’t believe you just said that." Deanna murmured ‘the phrase’ to her cousin again. Since they were little, Deanna had to have used that phrase when dealing with her gregarious cousin more times than she could count. After a while, it had become one more in a slew of the running jokes between them.

Elyssia just smiled. "Deanna, I may not be Betazoid, but I know enough about Betazoid cultures and beliefs. I remember what happened Deanna, it’s only been a few weeks, and you can’t tell me that you forgot."

Deanna shook her head. "Elyssia-"

"Oh no, don’t even think about it. Let me guess…. ‘It was just a fluke, I didn’t really hear his thoughts’. Deanna, why do you insist on denying yourself this?"

"Denying myself what? Elyssia, he’s a fourth year cadet. In nine months, he’ll get his first assignment and be long gone from here. I’ll never hear from him again."

"Oh, but the things you could do with him in nine months…" Elyssia laughed as Deanna’s face turned a deep shade of crimson.

Deanna suddenly looked very serious. "He knows nothing about my culture, our traditions, or who I am as a whole. So what should I do, walk right up to him and say ‘You barely know me, and although you don’t understand this, apparently some part of fate has decided that you’re the other half of my soul, so we’re destined to spend eternity together, both in life and death’?"

Elyssia shrugged. "I’ve never used that particular line before, but hey if it works for you, go for it."

Deanna smiled and sighed. "We’re just two totally different people." Glancing over in Will’s direction she added, "It would just never work."

Elyssia frowned. "That’s your Mother talking, not you." Elyssia reached across the table and picked up Deanna’s hand, which had absently been stroking her warm mug.

"Deanna, I got to know Will pretty well over the summer. You two aren’t as different as you think. He said he wrote to you, why didn’t you answer?"

Deanna sighed. Squeezing Elyssia’s hand, she muttered. "I was afraid. I was afraid to even read the message."

Elyssia brows furrowed. "Deanna…what? Why? I just don’t understand."

Deanna thought for a moment. "I don’t know if even I understand, or can explain it. Every time I think of Will Riker, I just get this feeling of despair, here." She pointed softly to her heart.

"Oh Deanna…."

"It’s like, I know that nothing but bad will come if I allow myself to fall in love with him."

"That could be. But how can you know for certain if you never try?"

Deanna nodded slightly. "That’s true."

Elyssia smiled again. "Besides, who better than a Troi woman to prove fate wrong?"

Deanna smiled and shook her head.

"Come on Deanna, we have to get you unpacked." Getting up, she and Deanna headed towards the door.

Will turned around and saw the two of them leaving. Elyssia looked his way, smiled and waved. Will smiled and nodded back.

But he frowned, noticing that Deanna never once looked in his direction.

He mentally kicked himself. ~That was rude, you didn’t even go over to speak with them~.

What was it about Deanna that frightened him so? Why did his stomach turn in knots, and a warm glowy feeling spread throughout his body every time he thought about her?

~I’ve never been afraid of a woman in my life, so why should I start now?~ He wondered.

But a voice, deep down in his mind, told him why. Deanna Troi was just no ordinary woman.

To be continued in Part 11

"Then and Again"

Chapter 11

Will stood quietly on the observation deck of the student lounge. The night air was cool and damp, bringing a slight chill to his body.

He watched his fellow cadets walking the paths below him. They were either chatting, holding hands, or mumbling to themselves.

He had to smile. The ‘chatters’ were obviously old friends trying to cram all of their summer adventures into one five-minute walk. The ‘hand holders’ were obviously lovers, who were forced to spend time apart and were trying to make up for lost time. And of course, ‘the mumblers’…new cadets who were either trying to find their dorm or so confused that they didn’t know where they were.

Where did he fit in? Definitely not with the chatters, although several conversations he kept having with himself were running through his mind. The lovers… he didn’t even want to go there. The mumblers…that’s how he felt.

Never in his life had he met someone who filled his mind like Deanna Troi. Every time he thought about her, a dozen emotions crashed into his body, permeating every inch of his being.

He didn’t understand it. He never had any experience like this in his life. He wanted to understand it, but Deanna didn’t seem interested in helping him.

He had thought she did. The kiss they had shared at the beginning of the summer certainly pointed in that direction. But, this morning when he’s seen her and Elyssia, Deanna didn’t even acknowledge his presence.

She knew he was there in the café. But, it just didn’t seem like she cared.

Sighing, he looked at the next two cadets who came by. One was a tall, handsome man, muscularly built who walked with confidence in his step.

The other…of course. Just perfect…the other was Deanna Troi.

They stopped at a junction between two paths and chatted. From his vantage point, he couldn’t hear the conversation. But, he noticed that Deanna smiled shyly from time to time, and the guy tenderly touched her from time to time.

Will watched, his heart dropping to his knees. The two continued to talk, unaware that they were being watched. Will leaned over the railing to get a better look as the man bent down towards Deanna’s face…

Will was suddenly grabbed and spun around. Ed stood there laughing. "Will, our first day back and you’re already trying to kill yourself?!"

Will spun back around. Deanna and her mystery man had already parted ways and were walking down opposite paths. Taking a deep breath, he spun back towards Ed.

"Why the hell did you do that?!" He shouted at him.

Ed stepped back a bit. Shaking his head, he said, "Will, you’re standing on a second story balcony, leaning over the railing so far that you were almost on your tip toes. To me it looked like I was stopping you from doing something very stupid."

Will sighed. "Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry. I was just watching somebody down below."

Ed grinned. "Well, she must be really special for you to risk falling and breaking you neck."

"I thought she was Ed. But now I’m not so sure."

Sadly, Will walked toward the stairwell that led down to the bottom floor. Shaking his head, Ed followed his roommate.

To be continued in chapter 12

"Then and Again"

Chapter 12

November 2356

Will stumbled into his dorm room and glanced longingly at his bed.

His drill team had just returned from a three-week excursion in the wilderness. They could only use what they had with them, meaning the clothes on their back, a low powered phaser, and tricorder.

Three weeks of roughing it. Oh yeah, Will was definitely ready for a long sleep in his bed.

Tossing his bag down, he sat on the edge of his bed and bent to remove his boots. His back muscles screamed, but he had to do it.

Removing one shoe, he quickly changed his mind about the bed. Okay, first a nice hot shower, and THEN a long nap.

Stumbling into his storage closet, he pulled out his toiletry bag and change of clothes. Sorely, he walked slowly down towards the showers.

Barely getting his clothes off in time, he stood under the hot water and let it pound some sense back into him.

Quickly washing his hair and running a soapy cloth over his body, he rinsed and toweled off.

Looking in the mirror, he realized that he needed a serious shave. ~Ah, the hell with it~ he thought. Plenty of time for that later.

After dressing, he wandered slowly down the hallway back towards his room. The floor was certainly quiet, especially of late.

Many of the students were gone, either by choice or not. The next group was out for their three weeks of torture.

Will was actually glad. The dorm would be extra quiet while he caught up on his sleep. Turning the corner, he caught music coming from someone’s room. He stopped for a moment to listen.

Yes, that music was familiar. It was a piece of ancient rock music that he heard Elyssia Troi listen to over and over again. Something about Jeremiah being a bullfrog…

Shaking his head, he began his walk again. He had not spoken to Elyssia for weeks. ~No, be honest with yourself. You’ve been avoiding her since we came back from summer vacation.~

They had been back on campus for over nine weeks. Ever since the night he saw Deanna with her mystery man, he gave up hope. Being around Elyssia would mean, inevitably, that he would have to face Deanna. That was something he just wasn’t ready to do.

He didn’t understand why it hurt so much. Deanna certainly wasn’t betrothed to him, they had just shared a kiss.

But it was more than that. Deanna was more than that. And she had found someone else before she had even found him.

Sighing, he entered his room. He could almost swear he heard his bed calling his name. He pulled back the sheets and slipped between them.

~Oh yes, this is pure ecstasy~ He thought.

His eyes drifted closed, and snapped right back open when someone had banged on his door.

Cursing, he threw the covers back and stomped to the door. Releasing the privacy lock, the door slid open. Will glared icily at whomever the intruder was disturbing his sleep.

He stopped before he was able to get a word out. Before him stood the man whose face was engrained in his memory forever.

"Uh, hi, are you Will Riker?" He asked. His voice contained a bit of a European accent.

"Yeah." Will growled. ~I really am not ready for this~

"Okay, well do you mind-?" Pushing past Will, he entered the room, stopping before the empty bed and looking around. "How did you manage a room of your own?"

"My roommate was dismissed last month." Will replied icily.

The man nodded. "Oh, well, I’m Dennis, my fiancée has been trying to get in contact with you for the past few weeks. You haven’t responded to her."

Fiancée? Did he just say fiancée? Will’s knees suddenly felt weak; he went and sat on the edge of his bed.

"Are you okay?" Dennis asked.

"Yeah, I’m just tired. I just got back from my wilderness trip. Look, tell, your ‘fiancée’-" he placed emphasis on the word, "that I’ve been busy and haven’t had a chance to do much of anything."

"That’s funny, she said that you’ve been deleting her messages before you even read them. She wondered if she had done something to you to warrant your behavior."

"And why didn’t she come here to ask me for herself?"

He shrugged. "You obviously don’t know the Troi family very well. Never, ever, send an unarmed man up against a pissed off Troi woman. He’ll be lucky to get out with a full head of hair and his eyes still in his head."

Despite the situation in front of him, Will couldn’t help but smile. "I suspect that you’re right on that count Dennis."

"Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but Elyssia’s birthday is coming up on Friday and we’re throwing her a party at the café. She’d love it if you were there."

Will wondered exactly which she he meant. Sighing, he nodded. "I’ll do my best."

Dennis put his hands up in the air, as if in surrender. "That’s all I ask my friend."

Friend? Despite himself, Will realized that he liked Dennis. Nodding he stood and began to escort Dennis to the door.

"I’ll see you Friday Dennis."

Nodding, Dennis smiled at him and exited the room.

Will walked immediately to his bed and climbed back in. But, sleep would not claim him.

Instead, he was filled with trepidation over the charade he would have to perpetrate on Friday.

To be continued in chapter 13

"Then and Again"

Chapter 13

Walking slowly towards the café Will could see the glow of party lanterns mixed with raucous laughter coming from the small building.

Walking up the path, he saw a ‘Closed for Private Party’ sign hanging over the menu that was always haphazardly hung next to the door.

Opening the door, Will stopped dead in his tracks. He couldn’t believe how crowded the room was!

People were crammed in every corner of the room. Will wasn’t even sure he could fit. Noticing someone weaving in his direction, his heart immediately clenched.

Dennis made one final push and found himself in front of Will. "Hey Will, glad you made it!" He grabbed Will’s hand in a quick handshake.

Will leaned forward to be able to hear over the loudness. Laughing, Dennis clapped Will on the shoulder. "Come on! Let’s go find the birthday girl!" He shouted.

Taking a deep breath, Will began to weave his way through the crowd. Finally, over all the heads, he caught a glimpse of shimmering red hair surrounded by no less than ten people.

Walking up behind them, Dennis stopped abruptly. "Excuse me folks!"

Elyssia looked up and flashed a 1,000-megawatt smile at Dennis and Will. Thrusting his thumb towards Will, Dennis told her "Lookey at what I found."

Elyssia laughed and grabbed Will in a big bear hug. "Will, you old scum, where have you been hiding?"

Will just shrugged. "I tried hiding from you but you sent the dogs out after me."

Dennis and Elyssia laughed. Elyssia wrapped her arms around Dennis and pulled him into an extremely long, passionate kiss.

Will almost fell on the floor. Dennis had said fiancée… Will suddenly felt like a total cretin.

Dennis was Elyssia’s fiancée, not Deanna’s. Will had seen them on the path that night taking a walk… an innocent walk between friends.

The room suddenly seemed to get smaller. Excusing himself, he rushed towards the side entrance. Getting through the crowd was like parting the Red Sea.

Finally he made it through the door and out into the cool night. He took several deep breaths of the fresh air before he felt it.

It started as a tingling at the base of his neck; from there it spread up and down his spine, through his whole body, permeating every inch of him.

He didn’t even have to think to know what was causing the sensation. Without turning around, he spoke softly; "How have you been Deanna?"

She walked up from behind him and stopped next to him. Pulling her arms a little tighter around herself she looked up at him.

"You made a hasty exit, I just thought that I’d check on you."

~My God, how could I have forgotten! Her voice, the beautiful, velvety lilt of her voice~

"There’s a lot of people in there, I just needed some air." He responded. "And what’s your excuse?"

She looked up at him with thoughtful eyes. "It’s hard sometimes…being around so many people at once. Sometimes it’s nice to just hear myself rumbling around in here." She tapped on her forehead for emphasis.

The way she looked at Will made him shudder. He moved closer to her, as if to shield her. "What does it feel like, sensing emotions like that?"

Looking into his eyes, she paused. "It’s almost like feeling feathers floating around in your head. They float through the air, and finally join together, forming an emotion, or a sensation. It’s only through intense training that I can actually make sense of what they mean."

"And you can’t read anyone’s thoughts at all?" He asked.

She shrugged. "It depends. I can communicate telepathically with other Betazoids, but I can’t read their thoughts. Elyssia and I can read each other fairly well, but that’s because she’s studied Betazoid thought processes."

He was lost…totally mesmerized in her eyes, her voice, even the air she was breathing. He noticed that while she spoke, she had moved closer to him. They were standing within a hair of one another.

~I wonder if she’ll be able to hear me one day? ~

Reaching her hand up, she placed three fingers on Will’s temple. "I already can Imzadi." She whispered.

They moved closer together, suddenly jumping apart when the doors opened behind them.

"Whoops Dennis, it looks like somebody already beat us to our favorite ‘make out’ spot."

Deanna spun and looked incredulously at her cousin.

"I can’t believe you said that." She and Elyssia said in unison.

The four laughed and stood side by side at the railing. Looking up at the stars Will thought; ~I can’t wait to see what the future holds~

He looked down at Deanna and caught her smiling at him. Looking back up at the sky, he let the contentment he felt take over his senses.

Deanna, in turn looked at Elyssia. She flashed Deanna a reassuring smile, but then frowned when she caught the look of sadness that flashed across Deanna’s features.

Turning back to the skyline, Deanna looked to the stars for answers.

To be continued in chapter 14

"Then and Again"

Chapter 14

Weeks after Elyssia’s birthday party, Deanna walked off of the transport ship which was returning her back to the Academy. Actually, in her mind, she wondered if she was walking or staggering.

Her drill team had been sent on assignment to Vulcan. Two weeks of trudging across the deserts that covered the planet was not fun, and all she could think about was settling into a nice hot bubble bath to get the ‘grit’ off of her skin.

Deanna thought to that last communique she had shared with her Mother. "Little one, why in blazes would a Daughter of the Fifth House want to go hike across the desert?! It just doesn’t make sense!"

At this point and time, Deanna couldn’t help but agree. ‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous. That’s just the exhaustion talking.’

Deanna loved being at the Academy. She loved all the things she was learning and experiencing. And, deep down she knew, she loved being away from her Mother.

Slowly walking down one of the paths that lead to her dormitory, she glanced over at the 1600 Building.

‘He could be in there, you know’ her mind told her. Shaking her head, she sighed.

‘As tired as I am, I’m still thinking about Will Riker.’ She picked up her pace, just in case he happened to come along just at that very moment.

‘Why don’t I just run as fast as I can? At least this way I can literally say I’m running away.’

Rolling her eyes at herself, she slowed her pace a bit. It had been almost a month since she’d spoken to Will at length. She had bumped into him one time the day before her class left for their training exercise.

He had wanted to get together with her, but she had the perfect excuse to avoid the meeting. He was a bit disappointed, but understood completely, remembering back to his second year at the Academy.

"Well, I’ll see you when you get back." He had said.

Smiling and nodding her head, she rushed off. (Yet again) She had been doing her damndest to avoid Will since Elyssia’s party.

Of course, her class load was helping a lot. She had classes running from 8AM until 6PM, and most of her nights were filled taking part in various recruitment lectures or study groups.

Even Elyssia had mentioned that she hardly saw her cousin anymore, and they lived in the same room.

Avoiding Will was becoming a problem though. He was openly seeking her out, trying to spend time with her. She could only use so many excuses before her little ‘plan’ was exposed.

But, in the long run, she knew that this was what she had to do. Every time she was around Will she could feel herself loosing control... control of her mind and body.

But deep down, she knew that this was right. In the long run, it would never work out, no matter what fate had decided for the two of them.

Will was dedicated totally to Starfleet. He would graduate two full years ahead of Deanna, and be shipped off on his first assignment before Deanna set her toes on the sands of Betazed to begin her summer vacation.

Plus, Will Riker was a notorious ladies man. He was legendary around the Academy, and Deanna had decided that she must be his newest victim.

No, she won’t be his newest victim, she wouldn't allow it. She had already lost so much in her young life, and having her heart broken by her ‘Imzadi’ would be too much indeed she feared.

Her mind made up in it’s exhausted haze; she entered the 1400 Building and prepared herself to see Elyssia.

To be continued in chapter 15

"Then and Again"

Chapter 15

Deanna smiled as the door to her dorm room slid open, revealing a very haphazardly sleeping Elyssia.

She was lying on her bed. The covers strewn all around the bed, one leg hanging off the side almost touching the floor. She had one pillow wrapped tightly in her arms; her head crammed almost face down into the other one.

How she could possibly get any rest like that was beyond Deanna. But, how Elyssia did a lot of things was beyond Deanna.

Putting her bag down on her side of the room, she debated whether to lift Elyssia’s leg back onto her bed or leave her alone.

A very audible THUMP decided for her. Spinning around, she saw Elyssia sitting on the floor, her hair wrapped around her face.

"Dammit" she cursed before standing up and flinging herself back into her bed. Within seconds, she was again breathing deeply.

Deanna used all of her will to not break into laughter. Shaking her head, she gathered up a few toiletry items and slipped out into the hallway towards the bathroom.

Stepping into one of the shower stalls, she allowed the steamy hot water wrap her in luxurious warmth. She had sand in places where sand had no right to be, and she felt it would take forever to get rid of it all.

Her mind slowly began to relax and her senses began to open up to those around her.

Most of the cadets in the dorm were asleep. She could sense them dreaming, some having nightmares, some having dreams which made her blush a little.

Closing her mind a bit, she searched around. There, of course, was Elyssia, totally and completely amused by something. ‘That must be an interesting dream.’

Deanna concentrated on Elyssia. Out of her conscious memory, she pulled the sensations of all her other loved ones. There was her Uncle Charles who was back in Canada. He was human, and not accustomed to Betazoid mind probes, so Deanna didn’t push. She didn’t need to wake him from a sound sleep for no reason.

One of the most amazing abilities Betazoids had was the constant mental link to those nearest and dearest to them. Concentrating even harder, she found her Mother.

Lwaxana Troi seemed to be highly agitated and debating something with someone. Feeling Deanna’s mental touch, she stopped for a moment and sent her daughter a rush of warmth, compassion and love. Smiling, Deanna reciprocated the gesture.

Pulling herself away from the stream of warm water, Deanna wrapped a towel around herself and walked to the mirror. Wiping the steam off of the glass, she stared at her reflection.

Reaching again into the deepest recesses of her mind…there he was. Concentrating on the sensation, Deanna allowed her mind to completely open.

Images began unfolding to her like a flower.

She could see herself, holding someone’s hand and smiling sweetly to them.

She could see herself, touching someone’s cheek, tears streaming from her own eyes.

She could see herself, nude, in a strange bed, wrapped in the throes of passion with someone.

Deanna gasped and broke the link.

‘My God, he’s dreaming of me.’ She thought with horror. She looked around the bathroom self-consciously.

‘Oh, don’t be so silly, he’s not in here with you!’ Reaching for her clothes, she dressed quickly and started making her way back to her room.

She knew what had happened. Her mind had joined with his… they had become one and shared the images brought forth by his unconscious mind.

Slipping back into her room, she slid between the covers of her bed. Her body immediately relaxed, but her mind was racing a mile a minute.

Deanna felt tears well into her eyes, because she knew. She knew that she couldn’t stop the inevitable.

William Riker was her Imzadi. Whether it was fate, or dumb luck that threw the two of them together, it was destined to happen.

Destiny dictated that they would meet; destiny dictated that they would be together, no matter what the consequences.

But of course, destiny wouldn’t be there to pick up the pieces.

She finally drifted off into a troubled sleep but the feeling was still there in her mind.

A feeling that would never again leave her, forever ingrained into her body, mind and soul.

The feeling that WAS Will Riker.

To be continued in chapter 16

"Then and Again"

Chapter 16

Deanna squeezed her eyes shut in protest at the sound of excited cadets outside of her door.

Rolling over to her other side, bright sunshine streaming through the windows assaulted her face.

Opening her eyes a little to allow them to adjust to the light, she smiled a little at the sound of birds singing outside.

Hearing a loud sigh from across the room, Deanna lifted up in her bed to see her cousin strumming her fingers on her mattress.

Taking a loud, deep breath, Elyssia hopped out of her bed and walked angrily to the window. Slamming it shut, she said, "Damn birds."

Deanna busted out laughing. "I go away for two weeks and my welcome home committee consists of the biggest ‘I am not a morning person’ in the entire galaxy."

Elyssia rolled her eyes. "Well, the birds should realize that those of us who share this planet with them need our sleep, so they could at least go sing their songs about fat juicy worms and brittle little twigs for their nest somewhere else!"

Deanna laughed again, which drew a smile from her cousin.

"What time did you get in last night?"

Deanna looked at the chronometer on the desk. "Around 0200."

"Oh, a whole four hours of sleep, huh? And you’re still bright eyed and bushy tailed. Good for you."

"Actually, not even that much sleep. I went and took a nice hot shower when I got in."

Elyssia looked strangely at her cousin. "And?"

Deanna looked confused. "And what?"

Elyssia sat next to Deanna on the bed. "It just seems like there are other things on your mind."

Deanna shook her head. Sighing, she said; "Just the usual."

Elyssia smiled. "Let me guess. ‘Am I doing the right thing by coming to the Academy’, ‘Will Riker’, should I really give up my responsibilities as a Daughter of the Fifth House to follow my dreams, ‘Will Riker’, and of course, the never far out of your mind, ‘Will Riker’."

Deanna pushed Elyssia. "You think you know me so well, don’t you?"

Elyssia smiled and nodded. "Deanna, I probably know YOU better than you do."

Walking over to the closet space, Elyssia looked at their hidden replicator. "Coffee, milk and 2 sugars. And one hot chocolate."

The replicator whirred and two mugs appeared.

Taking the proffered mug from Elyssia, Deanna grimaced. "How can you drink coffee with two spoonfuls of sugar in it?"

Elyssia looked shocked. "This coming from someone who thinks chocolate is a major food group?"

They grinned at one another, allowing the feel of the warm liquid down their throat to be their only conversation.

Finally, Elyssia motioned over to Deanna’s desk. "Those came special delivery for you yesterday."

Deanna stood and walked over to the crystal vase of flowers sitting on her desk. Picking up the little white hand written card, she silently read:

"Welcome back Deanna"-Will Riker

It was such a simple note, and Deanna felt silly when her body flooded with emotion.

She pulled the card tightly to her chest as a mischievous smile slid across her face. Pulling one of the Folcdom roses out of the bouquet, she walked to the bed, still clutching the card to her chest.

"Uh, should I leave you guys alone?" Elyssia asked, a confused look on her face.

Deanna smiled. "They’re from Will."

Nodding, Elyssia smiled. "Oh, I figured that. Who else would be thoughtful enough to send you roses for something as simple as returning to school from a training exercise?"

Deanna looked at her suspiciously. "And how did he know to send this particular flower?"

Elyssia put her hands up. "Don’t blame me! I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Besides, Folcdom roses are the most popular Betazoid flowers across the galaxy, it’s probably just a coincidence."

"You’re right. What do you say we go get changed and go get some breakfast?"

Elyssia smiled. "Ah, the best thing about morning…. Bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, all topped off with coffee."

Elyssia kept muttering to herself as they changed. Walking out of their dorm, and down the path, Elyssia noticed Deanna still carrying one of her roses.

Smiling inwardly, she looked over at the 1600 dorm where Will Riker lived.

Elyssia saw Dennis and Will sitting on a stone bench in front of the dorm, deep in conversation. Looking up, they saw her walking with Deanna.

The three conspirators smiled and waved to one another.

Deanna, a smile still plastered on her face, was oblivious to the exchange.

To be continued in chapter 17

"Then and Again"

Chapter 17

After piling their plates full of food, the Troi cousins headed to a table by the windows.

This was always one of the best places to sit in the commissary. The whole wall on this one side was made of glass, and you could see the whole courtyard and gardens surrounding it.

After eating a couple bites of food, Deanna looked at her cousin. "So, what were you and Dennis up to while I was gone?"

Elyssia shrugged. "Same old same old. He’s so bogged down with studies that it’s hard to spend any time together."

Deanna huffed. "It must be nice to have an eidetic memory. You read something once and remember it forever. The rest of us poor people actually need to study and work for our grades."

Elyssia smiled. "Dennis gets so frustrated when we try to study our medical texts together. He had to hunt for certain paragraphs or chapters. In the meantime, I just spout them from memory."

Deanna laughed. "You two are so right for each other. I can’t wait to see ten years down the road when you’re married, probably with 5 kids and a house with a picket fence."

"Five kids? I don’t think so! I will not be sharing Dennis’ affection and attention."

The two laughed. Elyssia spoke up, "Ah, speak of the devil."

Deanna looked out the window and saw her future cousin-in-law walking towards the commissary. Walking into the room, he saw them and threaded his way through the other cadets.

"Hey, there’s my two favorite women in the galaxy." He bent to kiss Elyssia on the cheek.

She snorted. "Keep that up and you’ll end out having to fight Will Riker for her." She gestured to Deanna.

"Oh Elyssia, don’t be so silly." Deanna said to her.

Elyssia and Dennis just smiled. "Well, I’m going to grab something to eat, is there anything else you two need while I’m up?"

They both looked at him and shook their heads. Dennis returned a few minutes later with an extra cup of coffee and an extra hot chocolate, placing them before their prospective consumers.

"I know you two too well." He said in explanation. Eyeing the rose sitting next to Deanna’s tray, Dennis noted; "That’s Betazoid isn’t it?"

Elyssia leaned towards him. "It’s Betazoid, and even better, from Will Riker."

Dennis looked impressed. "That was a nice gesture."

Deanna looked at him suspiciously. "What do you know about it?"

Dennis just smiled. "I was talking to Will a few minutes ago, he told me that he sent them. I just think it was nice of him to do."

Deanna eyed him warily. "What are you guys up to? There’s no point lying to me, I can tell."

Elyssia shook her head. "Deanna, really, we’re not up to anything. We just spent a little time with Will while you were gone, no big deal."

Deanna sensed that she wasn’t lying. But, she wasn’t being totally honest either.

Elyssia and Dennis started talking about something from a lecture a few days before. Deanna let her mind drift a little as they talked.

‘Ah yes, there he is.’ She thought. He seemed to be reading something, or studying.

It was amazing how easily she could sense Will. His mind was so engrossed in whatever it was he was reading, that Deanna herself became engrossed in the sensation.

She got to know Will’s mind, and how it worked. He was brilliant, thoughtful, and caring. But, he had a mischievous streak always hidden below the surface.

Deanna released her hold on his mind to find Elyssia and Dennis staring at her.

"What?" She asked.

Elyssia let go a breath of air. "You zoned out on us there."

"I did? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just tired."

"Uh huh, and that would explain the smile on your face?"

Dennis reached over and poked Elyssia in the ribs. "Oh, leave her alone."

Elyssia smiled, but continued staring at Deanna. Finally, turning to Dennis she said, "I wonder what Will’s doing right now."

Deanna, speaking before thinking, said, "He’s studying in the library."

Dennis stared at her with his eyebrows raised. Elyssia laughed and clapped her hands together. "I knew it!"

"Knew what?"

Matter of factly, Elyssia said, "Not only were you zoned out, you were in ‘The Will Riker Zone’."

Deanna threw her napkin at Elyssia. She knew there was no point in arguing, or even trying to explain it to her cousin.

Sighing, she stood from the table. "Well, I have some reports to write that are due on my professor’s desk by 1600. I’ll catch you guys later."

With that, Deanna made a hasty exit.

Dennis stood and moved to the chair Deanna had just exited. Sitting down he took Elyssia’s hands in his and frowned at her.

"What’s that look for? I thought this is what you wanted?"

Elyssia sighed. "It is… it’s just that I can’t help but remember what Deanna said… about things with Will Riker ending badly. I know that neither Deanna or me need anymore bad things to happen in our lives."

Understanding immediately, Dennis brought Elyssia’s hand up to his mouth. Kissing it gently, he whispered to her. "I’ll do everything in my power to stop that from happening."

Smiling at him, she placed her other hand on his cheek. "I know you will."

They stood, depositing their dishes into the recycler; they walked hand in hand out of the commissary.

"Well, I’m going to go find Will. Deanna said he was studying, but I have a feeling he’s not studying what she thinks he is."

"Can you repeat that a little slower?" Dennis asked, smiling.

Smacking him in the arm, she laughed. Leaning up, she gave him a kiss goodbye.

"I’ll see you later." He nodded, smiling back to her.

Turning on the path and heading toward the library, Elyssia wondered if she could really stop fate from unfolding.

To be continued in chapter 18

"Then and Again"

Chapter 18

Elyssia entered the library. It was one of the oldest, historical volume libraries on the planet, but to her, it was downright creepy.

Tall wooden shelves were lined along all four walls, filled with old printed books. The shelves were high enough to need a ladder to reach the top.

In the middle of the room was a metal, spiral staircase, which reached the second floor. Of course, the second floor was almost identical to the first.

In the middle of the room on both levels were tables, surrounded by four chairs. Each table held two computer access terminals, which could access any information you needed.

‘Why would anyone want to pull a dusty old book off the shelf when you can simply push two buttons and pull whatever you want up on the computer?’ She mused.

Looking at the tables on the first floor, she didn’t see Will Riker. She jogged up the spiral staircase and saw him sitting at a table by himself.

‘I’ll be damned, Deanna was right, he is here.’

Will’s head was buried in the computer terminal in front of him, his hand diligently writing information on a scratch pad next to him.

Walking closer, Elyssia cleared her throat to let her presence be known to Will. Looking up, he smiled.

"Hey," he said in greeting.

"Whatcha working on?" She asked, plopping down next to him.

Sheepishly, Will spun his terminal to her direction. Elyssia wasn’t at all surprised to see a picture of Betazed, with geographical information scrolling past.

"And why would you be studying about Betazed Will?"

He shrugged. "I thought it would be nice to know something about Deanna’s home planet."

Elyssia nodded. She fell silent for a moment, as if looking for something to say.

"Will." Deep breath. "You can study all you want about the planet, but that isn’t going to tell you anything of who Deanna is."

"Oh, I know that. I just thought it would be nice to know something about Betazed in case-"

"What, in case you go there?!" Elyssia snapped.

Will looked at her in shock. He had never once heard Elyssia raise her voice to anyone, let alone him.

She sighed. "Look Will, I’m sorry. You see I’m at an impasse here."

"What do you mean?" He asked.

She thought again for a moment. "I like you Will, and I really think you like Deanna a lot."

Will looked away from her for a minute. Looking around to see if anyone was in earshot, he leaned to her and whispered. "It’s more than that. I- I think I actually might be in love with her." Shaking his head, he quickly added, "But that’s not possible, I hardly know her."

"No, Will, it is possible. That’s what I’m saying. You won’t get to know anything about Deanna, who and what she is, by reading geographical information."

"Who or what she is?" He asked intrigued.

Elyssia nodded. "Like I was saying Will, I really think you could be good for Deanna, and for something like this to happen to a Betazoid is so very rare."

"Something like this? Okay Elyssia, you lost me here."

Shaking her head, she reached for his computer terminal. After typing for a moment, she turned the terminal back to Will.

He read:

"Betazed society is based on ten ruling houses. Members of these houses of Betazed serve their society much like the ancient Monarchal Society of Earth. Children of these houses are revered. Planet wide celebrations occur when a new child is born. These children grow to be leaders in society and culture. The lives of these individuals shape Betazed Society."

Will looked at Elyssia. "So, the ‘Children of the Houses of Betazed’ are like celebrities. What does that have to do with me?"

Elyssia sighed. "They don’t just have celebrity status Will. Any decision they make in their life, not only affects them, but hundreds, maybe even thousands of people."

Will looked at her confused.

She tried to explain. "For example, a Daughter of the Fifth House decides to throw aside all of her duties and responsibilities on Betazed, and join Starfleet. Children will see her decision as a good one and follow suit. The Children of the Houses influence those below them, do you understand?"

"I think so. But from what I understand the Children of the Houses never even want to leave Betazed, unless it’s on a diplomatic or humanitarian level."

"You’re right Will, they don’t. Until now."

She reached for his terminal again. Typing a few keys again, she turned the terminal to him. Standing, she began to walk away.

Will looked on the screen. There was a picture of Deanna, standing behind a striking older woman who was sitting. Deanna’s hand was placed on her shoulder.

Both women held regal postures. The caption under the photo read. "Lwaxana and Deanna Troi, Daughters of the Fifth House of Betazed"

Will spun in his chair. "Elyssia wait!"

She turned on the top step of the staircase. He called to her. "Is this what Imzadi means?"

Her eyes widened. Walking back towards him quickly, she grabbed him, practically pulling him out of his chair.

"Where do you know that from?"

For this first time, looking into the eyes of a woman, Will Riker was scared.

"She-Deanna said it to me. Th-the night of your party." He stammered out.

Elyssia sighed and shook her head. "No Will, that’s not what Imzadi means."

Letting go of his arms, she stepped back. "Will, understand something. I love my cousin dearly. She and I have been through so much together. I don’t wish to see her hurt again."

"Elyssia, I would never intentionally hurt Deanna."

"Oh, I know, you would never INTENTIONALLY hurt her Will."

Elyssia spun on her heel and jogged towards, and down the staircase. Exasperated, Will sat back in his chair, more confused than ever.

To be continued in chapter 19

"Then and Again"

Chapter 19

Will sat at his desk reading his primers, but not quite absorbing any of the knowledge.

His conversation with Elyssia earlier in the day had done absolutely nothing but confuse him.

She seemed to want he and Deanna together, but something was worrying her.

He certainly knew he wanted to be with Deanna, but he had no idea what was going on around him.

And what did Deanna want? That was a mystery in and of itself.

She was a willing participant in the kiss they’d shared last summer. But she had successfully avoided him until Elyssia’s party.

At the party, she had sought him out, but again something seemed to hold her back.

And, what was the big deal with the word ‘Imzadi’? Will had thought it was just a term of endearment of some sort. But the way Elyssia had reacted, he now knew it was more than that.

Sighing, he pushed his primer aside and stood up from his chair. Stretching his long frame, he went to his bed, taking one of his PADDs with him.

Fact or Fiction: Volume 19
Betazed Culture

Will shook his head at the title of the book. But, by searching the word Imzady or Imzadi, this was the first match the computer had found.

Will read the chapter selection, and found an entire chapter dedicated to the word Imzadi.

Quickly jumping to it, he lost himself in the text.

Deanna lay on her back staring up at the ceiling of her bed.

She had finally finished her reports on the exercise to Vulcan. She now had 2 whole days to just sit and relax.

But, deep down, she knew that she’d never relax. Her mind was awhirl, racing with images of Will Riker.

Elyssia walked into the room, looking at her daydreaming cousin.

"You know, I had a dream about the two of you last night." She said.

Deanna looked upside down at her cousin. "Oh, is that what you found so amusing last night?"

Elyssia looked at her with one eyebrow raised. "Deanna, peeking in on people’s dreams like that. Just what we need, a ‘dream voyeur’ in the dorm."

Deanna laughed. " I didn’t mean to. My mind just honed in on you."

"Oh great, so now I’m like a mental beacon to you?"

Deanna smiled. "So, what was in this dream of yours?"

Elyssia sat next to Deanna. "You and Will were getting married."

Deanna looked at her cousin skeptically.

"Oh, I know, just hear me out, okay? The two of you were getting married, but it was years from now. You were on what looked like a Starship, but one I’ve never seen before. You were surrounded by people that I don’t know."

"And how about you? What did your dress look like?" Deanna asked, playing along.

Elyssia looked serious. "I wasn’t there. And the weird thing is, I have a feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be there."

Deanna looked at her cousin strangely. "Well see, that just goes to show you that it was a crazy dream. Number one, I would NEVER get married without having you there with me. And number two, I don’t imagine Will and I getting married anytime soon."

Elyssia looked at her. "But Deanna, this wasn’t anytime soon."

Deanna needed to change the subject, and change the subject quickly. "So, what have you been up to today?"

"I was actually over at the library talking to Will. Do you know what he’s doing now?"

Deanna concentrated for a moment. "He’s in his room studying something on a PADD."

Elyssia looked at her surprised. "Please tell me you’re joking. I mean your bond isn’t really that strong?"

"Of course I’m joking, I have no idea what he’s doing." Deanna lied.

Elyssia stood and walked across the room. "You know Deanna, you’re a horrible liar."

Deanna looked at her indignantly. "So, what was he doing in the library?"

"Studying about Betazed." Elyssia said with a smirk on her face.

"Oh, is he thinking about living there someday?" Deanna asked innocently.

"Yeah, actually, I think he is." Elyssia smiled.


Will groaned at the massive headache he had acquired.


What is that horrible noise?


The commlink. It’s the commlink. Rolling over, Will realized that he had fallen asleep reading the book.

Stumbling over to the commlink on his desk, he saw the time on the chronometer.

"Oh damn!" He was late for his simulation by 20 minutes.

Running out the door, forgetting the beeping commlink on his desk, he prayed to whatever God who would listen that the simulation would be an easy one.

After all, he was too busy reading Betazoid Cultural Texts to have read his pre-sim information.

To be continued in chapter 20

"Then and Again"

Chapter 20

Will tried to rush from the holodeck before his professor was able to catch him.

‘How could I be so stupid? Flaking out on a class as important as this one because of a woman.’

No, not just a woman. Deanna was much more than that. He knew that now, and though he didn’t pretend to understand it, or know what to do about it, but he at least knew it.

"Mister Riker, a word please?"

‘Damn, busted.’

"Yessir?" Will asked Professor Williams.

"Cadet, I don’t think I need to remind you of the importance of attending your classes on time."

"No sir, of course not."

"But, I will say, I assume you were using the ‘extra time’ you had to study."

"Uh, of course."

"The pre-class reading never would have given you the slightest hint of that stunt you just pulled. So, you had to devise it yourself. It was absolutely ingenious Cadet, you are to be congratulated."

"Thank you Sir."

"I’m going to place a permanent commendation in your file. Hiding in a sensor blind spot of an attacking Tholian ship… absolutely brilliant. Good job Will."

Professor Williams clapped him on his back and exited the room.

Will felt like someone had dropped a ton of keldonite on his head. ‘Studying, yeah… you got lucky.’

Will rushed from the room, vowing to never allow himself to be so careless again.

Deanna walked quietly into the 1600 building, smiling at the excited cadets she passed.

It was getting close to winter break, and everyone was looking forward to going home, spending time with their families.

Deanna would be traveling with Dennis and Elyssia to Canada, to stay with her uncle. Christmas, as it is known on Earth, of course was not celebrated on her home planet.

But, it was nice to indulge her human half, and spend such a wonderful time with her family.

Walking to room 1622, she rang the chime, hoping deep down that Will wouldn’t be there.

To her chagrin, the door slid open, and there he was. His face lit into a smile when he saw whom his visitor was.

"Deanna, hi," He said.

"Hello Will. Mind if I come in?" She asked.

"No, no of course not." He stepped back from the door allowing her entrance.

Deanna walked into the room and looked around. She was surprised by the neatness. She had always imagined his dorm room would be a mess.

Will smiled at her expression. "I’m a neat freak. I used to have to care for my house when I was a child, I guess it just stuck with me."

She smiled and nodded once. "I wanted to come by and thank you for the flowers. They were lovely, and very much appreciated after the hard trip."

Will smiled. "I’m glad you liked them. That’s not an easy training exercise, I remember going through it myself. If you’re not used to hiking and inclemate weather, it can be downright brutal."

Deanna smiled. "We don’t have many deserts on Betazed." She laughed.

"Yeah, I know." He said, matter of factly.

An awkward silence fell between the two of them. Finally, after a moment he pulled a chair from his desk and offered her a seat.

She took it graciously, and then noticed the PADD that was lying on his bed. Lifting it up, she read:

"Fact or Fiction: Volume 19
Betazed Culture"

Will shrugged. "It seemed like an interesting read."

Deanna looked at the chapter which he had book marked. "What would make you book mark this particular chapter?"

"That was the whole reason I got that particular book. That is the word you called me isn’t it?"

Deanna’s eyes dropped to the floor. "Imzadi." She whispered, barely audible.

When she said it, Will was almost overcome by the sensations that rushed through his body. A tingly warmth that felt like pure joy. Unsure of what to do, he sat with a thud on the floor right at Deanna’s feet.

"I-I didn’t mean to call you that. I didn’t even realize I had until after-"

"Shhh" he said. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on her, her presence, her nearness, the slight smell of the shampoo she had used earlier in the day.

There… there it was. Her essence, her mind, her soul… all waiting for him to claim them as part of himself.

He opened his eyes and looked at her. Gesturing to the book, he said; "According to that, we’re joined here." He gestured to her head.

"Here." He gestured to heart.

"And here." He put his hand on her cheek, and was a bit surprised to find it wet with tears.

Deanna leaned her face into his hand, gently moving her head back and kissed his palm.

Their faces were millimeters away. Every breath they took was shared. Will wasn’t sure, but he thought he could hear her heart beating in exact rhythm as his.

Deanna’s eyes locked with his. Quietly, as if only for him to hear, she said, "And we will be forever."

Any barrier that had been before them shattered into a million pieces. Their lips pressed together, passionately, hungrily, exploring the essence of each other.

Her hands moved to his head as she stroked the back of his neck gently. Her touch was pure heaven, albeit ticklish heaven.

Pulling away from him to catch her breath, Deanna looked into the icy abyss of his eyes.

Smiling she said, "I better go."

Will nodded gently, knowing that if she didn’t leave now, she never would.

But it was too soon for that. They had the rest of their lives, but first, they had to successfully finish the Academy.

When they separated from one another’s arms, they both sighed at the feeling of being alone once again. Standing and walking to the door, Deanna said, "I’ll see you tomorrow?"

Will smiled. "Definitely."

To be continued in chapter 21

"Then and Again"

Chapter 21

December 24, 2356

Deanna and Elyssia sat side by side on the sofa of the Troi household in Canada.

All the lights in the house were off, except for the multi colored lights of the Christmas tree set up a few feet from the sofa.

Both women were cradling mugs of hot chocolate, watching the lights twinkle in contrast to the strands of tinsel strewn haphazardly on the tree.

Presents were spread from one end of the room to the next. For only three people being at the house, there certainly was a lot.

Elyssia smiled. Her Father always went overboard at Christmas, buying dozens of gifts for both girls.

In a way, Charles had become not only an Uncle, but surrogate Father to Deanna as well.

Charles and Ian had been identical twins. Elyssia knew it had to be hard for Deanna to see Charles, knowing that he was the spitting image of what her Father would look like had he been alive.

But, that was all behind them. Tonight, they would just enjoy spending the holiday home.

Looking at Deanna, Elyssia could sense something was on her cousin’s mind. The day they had left the Academy for the journey here, Deanna had been called into her advisor’s office.

Deanna had not spoken as to what the meeting was about, but she seemed like there was something weighing heavily on her mind.

"Okay, Deanna, fess up."

Deanna looked at her. "Fess up to what?"

"You, there’s something obviously on your mind."

Deanna just shrugged and sipped from her mug.

"Are you pregnant?"

"WHAT?! Why would you ask me that? No, I’m not pregnant!"

Elyssia shrugged. "Well, I needed to say something to get a reaction out of you."

Deanna rolled her eyes. "Will’s and mine relationship isn’t like that…yet."

"Yet? Oh, do tell."

Deanna smiled. "He’s so attractive, so sexy, a wonderful kisser, and I just want to take my hands and mold his body in dozens of different ways."

"And, what’s stopping you?"

Deanna looked at Elyssia, who in turn smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I know. It is sort of rushing it, huh?"

"Not everyone can be like you and Dennis you know."

"What do you mean like me and Dennis. What about us?"

"You two have known each other since you were 12, been together since you were 14! And you’ll undoubtedly be together for the rest of your lives."

"Given the right opportunity, you don’t think that’s so for you and Will?"

Deanna sadly shook her head. "That feeling is still there Elyssia. That feeling of dread whenever I think about any type of future for us."

"You can change that you know? Fate isn’t a natural element like air or water."

"I read once that fate is like a mountain, it stands where man passes away. Fate never changes."

Deanna sadly laid her head on Elyssia’s shoulder. Elyssia put her head on top of Deanna’s.

"You know what I think?" She asked.


"I think you read too much."

Smiling, Deanna looked to the Christmas tree, hoping it could provide some mystical answer.

It, in turn, just twinkled.

Deanna returned to the Academy two weeks later to find a letter from Will waiting for her.

She had spoken to him several times during the break, mostly just exchanging pleasantries and fun Christmas stories.

But this time, he wanted to see her. No actually, he was ‘dying’ to see her.

She opened her mind to him and realized he was sitting in the gardens by the commissary.

Walking to the gardens, she spotted him sitting on a blanket reading. Walking around the long way, she attempted to sneak up on him.

When she got close enough, he said "Don’t even try it Deanna, I know you’re there."

Smiling, she walked forward. "And how did you know that?"

He looked up at her standing above him. Sunshine was streaming down behind her, bathing her hair in a fiery glow.

She looked, like an angel.

"I’m not really sure how I knew. I just sensed it I guess." He took her hand and pulled her gently down to him.

She obliged, sitting on his lap and giving him a long, ‘nice to see you, I missed you so much, you’re the love of my life’ kiss.

A group of cadets, who were walking by yelled, whistled and clapped. Will and Deanna broke apart and took a little bow.

Deanna buried her crimson face in Will’s shoulder. "Guess this isn’t the best place for something like that."

He laughed. "Any where you want to kiss me like that is fine with me."

She smiled, moving off his lap. "What are you reading?"

He held the primer out to her. "This is the advanced reading for a training exercise my class is going to be sent on in mid-March."

Deanna looked at it briefly. "How long will you be gone?"

Will looked down at the ground. "Two weeks."

Deanna looked a bit upset. Will continued, "Deanna, if there was a way I could be here for your birthday I would."

She smiled at him. "I know Will, really it’s not that big of a deal."

He looked at her. "Of course it is. Your twenty-first birthday! And I know that I’ll sorely miss the party Elyssia is whipping up."

Deanna laughed. "You know, I’m actually dreading it myself." They both laughed.

She settled herself into the crook of his arm, her head resting on him. Will pulled her tighter, just reveling in the feel of her against him.

"But you know what Deanna?"


"There’s plenty of time in between now and then." He waggled his eyebrows at her.

Smiling, she closed her eyes and fell silent.

To be continued in chapter 22

"Then and Again"

Chapter 22

April 2, 2357

William T. Riker was a man on a mission.

Walking straight from the transport landing pads, he headed through the garden towards the dorms.

Will did not acknowledge or even see anyone along the way. He was hell bent on getting to his destination, and no one was going to stop him.

Finally seeing the 1400 building in the distance, he began to speed his walk.

He relaxed his mind, gently searching her out. Yes, there she is.

Deanna had spent the better part of January and February teaching him Betazoid mind techniques.

Will now knew how to clear his mind in an instant, to focus on just one thought, or person. He knew Betazoid relaxation techniques, plexing and the like that would relax his mind and body just by tapping a few nerve bundles.

And, most importantly, through his Imzadi link with Deanna, he knew exactly where she was, what she was doing, and what kind of emotional state she was in.

It was incredible really. He could never in his wildest dreams imagine being linked to someone like this. Let alone a beautiful Betazoid woman whom he’d never met until a year ago.

And, he knew that he was in love with her. Not just in love with her, but also in love with everything that made her what she is. If he could, he would worship the ground she walked on.

And, as fate would have it, he hadn’t seen her in almost a month. Spring Break fell right at the beginning of March.

Deanna’s mother had requested she come home ‘for a change’. Will sensed that Deanna didn’t really want to go, but agreed to appease her mother.

Deanna’s transport arrived back from Betazed just hours after his departure for his mission.

They had now been over a month without seeing each other, and two weeks without speaking.

It was too long. Entirely too long.

He saw her at a distance. She was sitting on a bench outside of her dorm, talking to another cadet. Elyssia and Dennis sat on the ground in front of them, all four laughing.

As soon as he rounded the corner, Deanna’s head shot up and their eyes locked. She stood and walked slowly towards him.

Will and Deanna began walking faster. Almost at a complete run, they reached each other. Their greeting was a passionate kiss that made the world stop for the two of them.

Dennis turned his face back to Elyssia his eyebrows raised. Elyssia smiled at him.

"Oh, they’ve got it bad."

Later that evening, the four cadets mulled over what they would do for their summer.

Deanna already knew that she had to return home to Betazed. Her home planet was playing home to a peace conference, and the Houses Of Betazed would be expected to be present.

Will smiled. "Well, I’ll probably be shipped off to some grunt assignment on a freighter somewhere." They laughed.

Elyssia smiled. "Well hey, look at all the fun Dennis and I will be having."

Will looked confused. "What fun is that?"

Dennis sighed. "Four more years at the Academy."

All four of them groaned.

"No wonder Starfleet medical is so desperate for Doctors." Will laughed.

"So Deanna, when are you going to let all of us in on your big secret?" Elyssia asked innocently.

"Big secret?" Deanna asked.

"Yeah, ever since December you’ve spent uncountable hours in your advisor’s office. Something must be going on."

Will looked at Deanna. "You’re not having trouble in your classes are you?"

Deanna smiled. "No, nothing like that. Admiral Sorsha is spearheading a new project and she asked my input. We’ve been working on it for a while."

"A new project?" Dennis asked intrigued.

Deanna nodded. "You know the new fleet of ships they’re building, the Galaxy class ships? Well, apparently, Starfleet has decided to allow families and non Starfleet personnel on board."

"Yeah, but the Galaxy class ships aren’t going to be ready for service for years." Will said.

Deanna nodded. "But, because of the crew complement these ships are going to have, plus the civilian members, Starfleet has decided to implement an experimental ship’s psychologist position."

Elyssia’s eyebrows shot up. "Wow, having a counseling psychologist on board. That’s something that has been needed for a long time."

Deanna nodded. "Exactly. And if Starfleet is going to have trained counselors ready when the Galaxy Class ships are, they need to start recruiting now."

Will leaned towards her. "And is that what they’re doing? Recruiting you?"

Deanna smiled. "Actually, I have a bit of experience in psychology. My last three years of Secondary School, plus a year of college before I came here to the Academy, was spent studying psychology. Admiral Sorsha would like me on the project as a consultant."

Dennis smiled. "Wow, Deanna, congratulations!"

Deanna smiled. "Thanks."

Elyssia smiled as well. "But doesn’t that mean you’ll be stuck behind a desk?"

Deanna sighed. "Probably. But, if it’s combining two of my passions in life, I don’t think it will be too bad. But, there’s still plenty of time to plan. And, I have to take it easy the next few weeks if I’m going to prepare for finals."

Elyssia sighed. "Oh yeah, goody, it’s almost finals time already."

The four of them sighed again. Finally, Dennis perked up. "Hey, why don’t we plan something for right after the semester’s end?"

"What do you mean?" Will asked.

"Well, there’s always a two week break from when the semester officially ends and graduation so you won’t be shipped off until then. Elyssia and I won’t start summer classes until a week after that, so there’s plenty of time for us to go somewhere on vacation."

Elyssia smiled. "Excellent idea!"

With everyone’s head nodding in agreement, the four put their heads together and decided where to go.

And deep down, Deanna wondered how she would say good-bye to Will when he left on his first assignment.

To be continued in chapter 23

"Then and Again"
Chapter 23

June, 2357
Starfleet Officer Retreat, Risa

"And, here’s to Ensign William T. Riker, who will be graduating eighth in his class. Way to go Will!"

Deanna and Elyssia joined in Dennis’ toast.

The four had arrived on Risa just a few hours before. After settling into their respective cabins, Elyssia and Dennis in one, Deanna in one and Will in the other, the three had head off to a late dinner.

After the first bottle of wine… real wine that is, things started getting funny.

Now, two bottles later, they had run out of things to celebrate, so they started the list all over again.

Deanna had decided to switch to black coffee. What little inhibition she had left when she was with Will was gone… and she felt the need to reclaim it rather quickly.

But, he was just so intoxicating. Sitting next to him, his leg gently touching hers from time to time, was about to make her jump up and ravage him right then and there.

Elyssia would’ve gotten a kick out of that at least.

But no, that couldn’t happen. Deanna needed some assurances that he would be around in the morning.

She wouldn’t know what she would do if she gave herself completely to him, only to find out that was all he wanted in the first place.

‘Oh, don’t be silly. You know better than that. He’s Imzadi, he would never do that to you.’

Maybe not, but it was a good excuse. The truth was, she was scared. Scared of giving herself totally to someone like that, scared of loosing herself in him… and scared of loosing him all together.

It was silly really. Part of living your life was getting your heart broken. But, having it done by your Imzadi, that was something totally different.

It was a one in 10 million chance of ever even meeting your soul mate… the other half of your fractured soul that would make you complete.

But, to have it happen at such a young age. Even Deanna’s mother had taken pity on her. Lwaxana sympathized with the turmoil Deanna was going through.

And, surprisingly enough, she had told Deanna that this was a path only she could choose.

Deanna had been shocked at her Mother’s impassiveness, but grateful as well. This indeed was a choice she had to make.

And she had no idea what she was going to do.

Deanna’s mind snapped back to reality when she heard Elyssia say something about a headache.

"We’ll see you guys later." With that, Elyssia and Dennis left the restaurant.

"Are you okay? You looked as if you were a million miles away." Will asked her gently.

"Yeah, I was just thinking." She smiled. "It’s nice to have finals out of the way."

Will smiled. "Yeah, I can’t wait to find out where I’m going to be stationed."

Deanna sighed. Will immediately took her hands in his.

"Deanna, no matter where I’m stationed, I won’t be far from here." He gestured to her forehead.

Deanna smiled gently. "You could be light years away from me. I don’t know how I’m going to cope without you being with me all the time."

Will smiled back. "Yeah, but think about the reunions." The grin on his face made Deanna blush.

Will continued, "But, there is one thing I know, I will not loose you. Not now, not ever."

"Oh Will, don’t say ever. No one can be certain of that."

"Why do you say that?"

"Can we go somewhere private, to talk?"

"Of course."

To be continued in chapter 24

"Then and Again"
Chapter 24

And of course, in the little time they had been in the restaurant, it had begun to pour rain.

One of the greatest things about Risa, was that it never rained. Well, apparently, hardly ever rained was more like it.

Will and Deanna ran with all their might from the restaurant to Will’s cabin.

Quickly typing in his access code, they entered his room, immediately soaking the floor with the water running off of them.

"Jeez, you’re soaked, here."

Walking to his closet, he pulled out a shirt and handed it to her. Nodding her head, she walked to the bathroom, which much to her chagrin was an open room off the side of the main living area. And it had no door.

She began unbuttoning her blouse… and realized that Will was staring at her.

Seeing her looking at him, he turned his head and walked to the linen closet, retrieving a towel. Coming out, he tried to not look in Deanna’s direction. Instead, he walked to the fireplace and lit a warming fire.

Deanna’s hand came from behind him and took the towel. He turned to look at her.

She was beautiful. She had pulled her wet hair down and it clung to her face. She was wearing nothing but his oversized shirt that hung almost to her knees. In her hands, she held her still dripping clothes.

He took them from her and laid them out in front of the fireplace to dry. Walking to his closet again, he pulled out a pair of sweat pants for him to change into.

‘Oh please tell me he’s going to be wearing a shirt too.’ Deanna thought, pleading for someone to offer her divine intervention in the matter.

Of course, moments later, Will emerged shirtless, his hair wet and spiky, wearing nothing but his muscular build and a pair of sweat pants.

Walking to the replicator, Will ordered two hot chocolates. Walking back over to Deanna, he handed one of the steaming mugs to her.

She smiled gratefully. She walked over to the bed and pulled the pillows from it.

Laying them on the floor in front of the fire, she sat down. Taking Will by the hand, she pulled him down next to her.

"Will, tell me about your parents."

Will looked at her completely confused. Shrugging, he said; "There’s not much to tell about my Mother, I hardly knew her."

"Tell me please, it’s important." She pleaded gently.

Pulling her against his chest, he said. "I hardly remember her at all. I was only two when she died. All I remember are images really, which could be of her, but I’m not sure."

Deanna sat her mug on the floor and took his hand. She gently kissed it, and held on tight.

‘Do not pay attention to his bare chest, do not pay attention to his bare chest’

"She was very beautiful. With long blonde hair and fierce blue eyes." Deanna smiled when he said that, craning her head back and looking into Will’s eyes.

"She was very kind. Or so I’ve been told. She loved to cook, always making at least three meals a day from scratch." Will shrugged, realizing that he had nothing more to say about her.

"And your Dad?" Deanna asked.

Will let out a huff of air. "I haven’t spoken to my Father in seven years. He was never much of a Father to me anyway. He only spent time with me because he thought it was necessary."

"Why don’t you speak now? I mean, after all this time, you could at least try to mend some fences."

Will sighed. Deanna could feel a flood of emotion rushing up in Will; anger, guilt, pain, disappointment.

Turning to him, she put her hands on his cheeks. "Tell me Will, please."

"I found out that while my mother was dying, my father was having an affair with someone else."

"Oh Gods Will, I’m so sorry." Deanna felt tears rush to her eyes. Just thinking of the pain that Will had already endured in his life made her heart break.

Shaking his head, he replied. "When I confronted him about it, he admitted to it. I haven’t spoken to him since."

Deanna felt the incredible sadness in Will’s mind. She leaned forward; kissing him on the cheek, hoping that simple gesture would make the pain go away.

Will reciprocated with a soft, gentle kiss to her forehead. Fingering a curl of hair that had begun to dry, he whispered. "I would never do anything like that to you, you know that right?"

Deanna merely nodded. Will fingered her hair a little more and then asked, "What about your parents? I’ve heard a lot about your Mother, but I know little of your Father."

Deanna took a deep breath. "Believe it or not, my parents were just like us."

Will looked at her incredulously. "Your Mother was a Starfleet cadet?"

Deanna laughed. "No! They were Imzadi." Will looked astounded. "Are you serious?"

Deanna nodded. "They loved each other so much. My Father literally worshiped my Mother, and she reciprocated. And Daddy always treated me like I was the Queen of his life."

"How old were you when he died?"

Will immediately regretted asking the question. Tears began to streak down Deanna’s face. "I was seven." She whispered.

Will wrapped his arm around Deanna and pulled her tightly to his chest. She cried silently for a few moments, and turned herself back towards the fire, resting her back against Will’s chest.

"Did I ever tell you that my Dad and Elyssia’s Dad were identical twins?"

"No, you didn’t."

Deanna nodded and fell silent again. Finally, she said; "Daddy died right on my seventh birthday. My Dad and my Aunt Margaret, Elyssia’s mother, were killed in the same accident."

Will fell silent again. No wonder Elyssia had stressed the importance of Will being there for Deanna’s birthday last March. "My God Deanna, I’m so sorry."

"We were having a party and were running out of drinks, so my Dad went to get more. Aunt Margaret went to help him. Someone was driving down the street in a hover car, and lost control when they swerved to miss a child. The car went right up on the curb that Daddy and Aunt Margaret were walking on and hit them both."

Will, not knowing what to do or say, just pulled Deanna as tight as he could.

She was crying harder now, but was surprised when Will’s tears fell on her arm.

He was sharing it with her, the emotion, the pain, and the memory.

"We-we were right in the middle of my party when all of a sudden my Mother just started screaming uncontrollably. People started running in every direction. Everyone knew as soon as it happened, except for me. I was so scared I ran to Elyssia and we hid under a table. F-Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Mr. Zeloh, my mother’s servant, found us. He carried us upstairs and put us to bed. Uncle Charles came… he came up later and explained what had happened."

"But, I-I didn’t underssstand it Will. I knew my Daddy was dead, but I didn’t know what that meant. I n-never said goodbye to him. I didn’t know how to."

"Shh Shh, Deanna, it’s alright. Your Father knew you loved him. He wouldn’t want to see you torturing yourself like this."

Deanna took a few deep breaths to calm herself. She felt Will’s fingers rubbing the back of her neck. Finally, they came up behind her ear, and began rubbing the sensitive area above the nerve.

Deanna felt her body began to loosen immediately. She reached up and took Will’s hand.

"I saw what my Father’s death did to my Mother. She fell into a deep depression for weeks, to the point where Uncle Charles threatened to take me away from her. She packed everything up in the house that even remotely reminded her of Daddy. I didn’t know her anymore Will. From the day Daddy died until now, she’s not the same woman she was."

"I need you to understand Will. I can’t be like that."

"Like what Deanna?"

"I can’t go through life as an empty shell of the person I am now because I lost you. I tried my best to stay away from you, but it was just so hard. And now… now I don’t think I could ever leave you."

Will used his fingers to gently turn her face to his. He bent down and shared a long, passionate kiss with her.

"Deanna, you’re never going to have to. There are inherent dangers that we face everyday in Starfleet. But, I would never ever leave you intentionally."

Deanna’s breathing almost became strangled. Will rested his face in Deanna’s damp hair.

Whispering, he repeated; "I’ll never hurt you. Never."

Deanna pulled her head away. Sitting up on her knees so she was Will’s height, she took his face in her hands.

"Make love to me Will." She whispered.

To be continued in chapter 25

Author’s Note- This following chapter contains sexually explicit material. So, if you are under eighteen years of age, or would rather not read that type of thing, feel free to skip it. You won’t miss any important dialogue or plot points.

"Then and Again"
Chapter 25

Will looked into Deanna’s eyes, feeling himself being pulled into the miasmic pools.

Taking her face gently into his hands, he whispered; "Are you sure?"

For a moment, she looked as if she would pull away. But she took a single deep breath and smiled at him.

Turning her face in his hands, she kissed his left palm.

"I’m sure."

Will moved his hands behind her head and pulled her lips towards him again. They kissed, and Will was positive the world had just stopped in its orbit.

Languorously, she slid her tongue across his lower lip, catching the slight taste of the hot chocolate they had been just drinking.

She tightened her hands around the back of his head, securing his mouth firmly to hers. Lightly nipping at his bottom lip, she heard him elicit a moan from deep within himself.

She slid her tongue between his lips, using excruciating slowness to explore the depths of his mouth.

His tongue suddenly collided with hers, and she wondered if she had really heard a whimper from him.

Will suddenly realized that he had lost control of his planned seduction. She was in the driver’s seat, and he couldn’t care less.

Deanna pulled her mouth from his, her fingers fluttering from the nape of his neck to his broad shoulders.

Her luminous eyes stared at him from underneath a veil of secrecy. A veil he was about to lift forever. Deanna then smiled at him, and he knew that she had him completely wrapped around her tiny little finger.

And, at that point and time, he couldn’t think of a better place to be.

Will shakily pulled himself to a standing position. Taking Deanna gently by the wrist, he pulled her to a standing position as well.

He walked them slowly towards the bed in the center of the room, his fingers drawing lazy circles on her sleeve.

Will’s icy blue eyes contained a sleepy sexuality that made Deanna shudder. She waited for him to kiss her again, using the same sexy, luxorious mouth she had just been ravishing moments before.

He surprised her though. His left hand, which had been doodling on her sleeve, now had made its way towards her elbow.

Deanna tilted her head back, trying not to loose control from the feathery touches he was cherishing her with.

They continued to stare at each other, using the light from the fire as the only illumination.

His hand had found it’s way from her elbow to collarbone. Arousal flooded her body, shooting though her veins like molten lava.

The feathery touch of his fingers on her skin was driving her crazy. His knuckles brushed lightly over the powder blue shirt Will had loaned Deanna, stopping again just above her left breast.

Deanna couldn’t take it anymore. She closed her eyes and pushed herself up a bit. Will smiled and began to trace outlines of her breast while his other hand found her slender neck.

The lava that pulsed through her system was now settling between her thighs as Will continued his frontal assault of her senses.

Deanna’s body involuntarily arched as Will’s fingers brushed over the taut nipple of her breast.

Will could feel her pulse throbbing below his fingers. With his other hand, he slowly circled the outline of her areola.

Deanna couldn’t help but cry out as she lost total control of her senses. "Oh Gods, Will!" With one light, gentle pinch, Will smiled and pulled his hand away.

His other hand continued to stroke her right cheek, brushing away bits of hair that had dried and was falling in her face.

Will took her hand and pulled her closer to the bed. Deanna stood on her tiptoes to kiss him. His lips parted as he leaned into her, trying to drink her in.

Her mind, her soul, everything that was she. Will wanted all of it; to touch it, to share it, to have all of it be part of him forever.

While Will continued to ravish her, Deanna began exploring him with her hands.

She started at his shoulders, ran her hands down his muscles and arms. She wanted to feel every patch of skin, wanted it all to be available to her.

She ran her hands down his sides. She began roaming upward again when she reached his hips that she had been eyeing ever since he emerged from the bathroom shirtless.

Her hands came to a screeching halt as his mouth found her earlobe. Her hips arched against him as he began sucking it.

His hands came up and began tangling through her hair. The intensity of his touch was killing her, but she wanted it all over her body, but couldn’t formulate a thought enough to figure out how to get his touch out of her hair.

Nothing was registering in her mind but pleasure. She was draped in his rapture. The entire planet had disappeared into a void called Will Riker.

Their souls were being forged together. Everything in their lives was far away from them at this point and time, but close enough to make what they were doing even that much more wonderful.

Will’s lips left her earlobe and began trailing down to her collarbone. There, he stopped at the collar of her shirt and looked up at her again.

His smoldering eyes stared into hers, speaking the question just one more time.

Deanna answered by feverishly raking her hands through his hair. Pulling his mouth to her once again.

Will’s fingers deftly began unbuttoning the buttons on her blouse. Slowly peeling the shirt from her creamy skin, Will’s eyes drank in the site of her.

Deanna pulled away only long enough to allow the shirt to flutter to the floor at her feet. She was left wearing only her bra and panties.

Will thought his knees would buckle from the sight of her, bathed in firelight, standing before him.

They reached for one another. His hand rested on her stomach, just above the thin white lace of her panties.

Deanna reached forward and placed her hand over his. Gently, their joined hands traced a path from her stomach back down to her panty line.

Her skin felt like fire beneath his touch. She traced their hands back up her body, caressing her breasts, and he watched in wonder as her back arched against him again.

Deanna led Will’s hand back down the length of her body until it rested on the milky white skin of her thigh. Will’s hand left hers and caressed her most intimate spot.

This was undoing her. She felt that she could explode from every pore of her body. She pressed herself into his hand, and felt his erection straining against his sweat pants.

Suddenly, his fingers began to stroke and a gasp flew from her throat. She felt as if all the air had been sucked from the room, she wasn’t sure if she can hold on much longer.

Will continued to stroke her through her wet panties as she desperately searched for something to anchor her thoughts to. She wouldn’t release without him. She wouldn’t do anything without him.

There was no way she could even begin to formulate words. Instead, she thought cast a few muddled words at him. ~not…~

He chuckled, low in his throat. "Really?" He replied. Her head rolled back as she moaned, her fingers immediately tightening around his head.

Suddenly, using all her might, she pushed him back away from her. Will looked uncertain for a moment, but then smiled when she reached out for the waistband of his pants.

Using that to pull him closer. Her hungry, desire driven eyes drank in his long form. Reaching out again, she slowly slid his sweatpants down.

Deanna’s breath caught in her throat when she saw the considerable bulge in his gray boxers.

Deanna was secretly pleased by what she was doing to him. She tore her eyes away from his erection and greedily leered at the rest of him.

He was strong but gentle, cool under pressure but extremely passionate. He was everything she could ever want… everything she had always wanted.

They both stood before each other, almost completely undressed. Unable to wait any longer, Deanna stepped to his chest and latched on to his erect nipple, enjoying the feel of his chest hair tickling her face.

She began a southward descent, hell bent on exploring every millimeter of him with her mouth. Stopping just above his boxers, Deanna found a slight ticklish spot and began teasing, sucking on the flesh until she felt Will’s mind begin to loose control.

As soon as her hand moved to his boxers, he lost all rational thought. The boxers fell to his hips and then Deanna yanked them the rest of the way down.

The warmth of the fire touched his exposed skin, causing Will to moan again. The heat from her mouth was so close it made his hips begin to arch wildly.

And then it happened. Her fingers brushed lightly against the tip of his erection. She looked up at him, gauging his reaction to the situation.

If she could have, she would have laughed. Will stood with his head thrown to the side, his mouth parted, almost as if he was in a trance.

Deanna was like liquid fire on him as her tongue brushed his erection. Finally, her already kiss swollen lips took him in with excruciating slowness.

He squeezed his eyes tighter together in ecstasy. His hips arched harder against her as a loud cry escaped his lips.


He curled his toes into the carpet, hoping that would make his mind again remember exactly who he was, and what he was doing there. Finally, he desperately reached forward and put his hands in her hair.

"Deanna-n-o more."

She again stood, a satisfied smile on her lips. It made his knees even weaker. He really didn’t want to make her stop, but he would not go anywhere without her.

‘Not now, never again.’ He thought.

She smiled and closed her eyes as his thought caressed her mind.

Reaching forward, Will undid the front clasp of her bra, allowing the delicate fabric to slip down her arms and on to the floor.

Her breasts were perfect, absolutely flawless, full with pink rosebud colored nipples.

She looked at him with an eyebrow arched, knowing that he would be pleased with what he saw.

Deanna was suddenly shrouded in bliss as Will’s hands covered her breasts.

Deanna hummed low in her throat, thrusting her chest forward, filling his hands completely with her breasts in a silent plea for him to never stop.

She lazily draped her arm around his neck, insuring that he couldn’t pull away from her.

Will’s thumbs began drawing shapes on her areolas, and Deanna’s mouth wandered to find his.

She sucked on his lower lip like paradise as his fingers gently pinched her nipples.

"You’re so amazing-" Will muttered to her. Deanna reciprocated with another kiss, feather light, mostly designed just to tease him.

His mouth latched on to her right breast while his hand squeezed her left breast.

They became ecstasy in motion, not sure of where one of them ended and the other began.

As they pressed tighter and tighter, Deanna could feel his erection pressing against her leg. Her body absolutely screamed to have him buried within her.

His teeth gently grazed her nipple and she moaned out something. It could have been his name; hell, it could have been someone else’s name… neither of them was sure.

Neither of them cared either.

His fingers left her breasts and lazily found their way down to her panties. He slid them from her legs, and her hips moved to plea with his hands.

His large fingers slid between her thighs, gently touching the moistened lips of her sex.

Her swollen flesh was ignited by his touch, and the moment Will’s fingers dipped slowly inside of her, Deanna’s knees buckled and she began to fall.

Will quickly caught her. Breathing heavily, they waited until she could stand again. Moving gently to the bed, they tumbled onto the royal blue comforter.

His greedy hands traveled all over her body, sliding down her stomach and rested again at the patch between her legs. Her thighs slid apart as a tremor ran through her body.

The firelight lit their sweat-slicked bodies in a shimmering glow. Deanna’s nails raked across Will’s back, drawing small droplets of blood.


They said nothing more as he buried himself into her. Her hot, warm moisture surrounded him.

They felt as if the entire galaxy had encased them in the safety of each other. There was no evil in the universe that could come between them now.

His erection throbbed and he slid from her a bit. Gently entering again, he heard a moan escape from her as her body contracted and squeezed around him.

The rhythm of their bodies pounded in his mind like a set of drums, increasing even more as his fingers played with her clitoris.

Moans and cries filled the room, and Deanna wrapped her legs tightly around Will’s. She was completely tangled in his limbs and her body readied itself for the grand finale.

Red, blue, violet, yellow, gold.. The entire spectrum of color rushed through her body as Will continued to thrust inside of her and her body reached its internal peek.

Deanna cried out his name again, throwing her head back in complete rapture, feeling her own body shattering itself into a million pieces.

Deanna felt him explode inside of her with the passion and intensity of an exploding star.

The crackling of the fire provided the only other sound in the room as Will and Deanna took a deep breath, pulled apart, and spooned up together in the bed.

Will lovingly pushed a few curls of sweaty hair away from her face and basked in her warmth.

Finally getting up enough energy, Deanna sat up, reached down to the end of the bed and pulled the folded comforter over top of them.

"The fire will burn out soon." She sleepily mumbled as she drifted off.

Will closed his eyes and thought, ‘our fire will never die’. Closing his eyes, he joined Deanna in dreamland.

To be continued in chapter 26

"Then and Again"
Chapter 26

Will’s mind slowly came back in to focus. Grunting a bit and opening his eyes, he couldn’t help but smile.

He gazed lovingly at the sight that greeted him. Deanna was lying in the crook of his arm, her nude form pressed up against his side, with her head on his chest.

Sometime during his nap, the rain had stopped. The moon had come out in full force, bathing the room in bluish-white light.

Will tried carefully to adjust the arm that Deanna was laying on. Moving his shoulder muscles he could feel the soreness setting in around the area of his back Deanna had scratched.

‘How am I going to explain that one to the Doctor?’ he thought amusedly.

Better to just leave it alone.

Bringing his other hand around, he took a soft tendril of Deanna’s hair in his grasp. Fingering it delicately, he continued to watch her sleep.

She stirred a bit, and then settled back into peaceful slumber.

‘Will, don’t be an insensitive jerk, let her sleep in peace. She’s not going anywhere.’

"Why would I Imzadi?" Deanna said sleepily.

Will looked down at her. "I didn’t mean to wake you."

She smiled at him. "You didn’t. I was just having strange dreams."

Will nodded and kissed her on the forehead. Readjusting his numb arm again, he winced.

"Will, what’s wrong?"

He smiled sheepishly at her. "You did a number on my back."

Deanna blushed a deep shade of red. "Well, that’s what happens when you don’t play fair."

"Don’t play fair!? Me? You’ve got to be kidding."

They both smiled and cuddled up tighter.

"It looks like it stopped raining." Will told her. "What do you want to do today when the sun comes up?"

Deanna thought for a moment. "How about lay in bed all day basking in the afterglow?"

Will laughed. "Is that all we’re going to do, bask?"

Deanna grinned and settled her head back on his chest. She raked her nails gently through his chest hair. Reaching her head up, she gave him a slow, passionate kiss that definitely showed him that they would be doing more than bask.

"You know Deanna, I’ve never felt like this with anyone before."

She glanced up at him. "Part of that is our bond Will. From here on, it will only get stronger."

"It’s absolutely amazing… I don’t know how else to describe it." He said, gesturing to illustrate his loss of words.

"Our minds, bodies, and souls are part of each other now. They always will be. Nothing but death can change that." She said.

Will shuddered. "I can’t even imagine not feeling you close to me… to have you missing from my soul. You complete me… and I never realized that I was incomplete until I met you."

Deanna smiled. "You seem to understand it very well Will."

Will smiled at her, and then laughed when she let loose with a huge yawn.

"What do you say we get some more sleep?" He suggested.

Smiling, she settled her head on his chest so she could see the bright moon and stars outside.

After a few moments, they both had drifted back off to sleep.

Neither of their sleeping forms saw the dark clouds moving across the moonlight.

To be continued in chapter 27

"Then and Again"
Chapter 27

She walked through the dark tunnel, the haze gathering before her like an impenetrable cloud.

She was afraid… afraid of whatever it was before her. She wasn’t sure what it was, or what it was supposed to represent… but she was absolutely terrified to find out.

But she couldn’t stop herself. She had to move forward, as if her life depended on knowing what was at the end of that tunnel.

She walked slowly, coming through the haze to a bright flash of white light.

She froze in her tracks, just instinctively knowing that this was the end of her journey.

Suddenly, thousands of images flashed before her eyes.

She could see herself, wrapped in Will’s arms, smiling and laughing oblivious to the world that contained only the two of them.

She saw herself, in tears, leaning over the bed of a young boy with curly brown hair and dark eyes. The boy was dead, that she knew.. and Deanna could just tell that he was her child.

More heartbreak in her life. She knew that this was somehow a reflection of the future. Her future.

And whoever this child was… she could see by the image before her that Will was not there.

The image before her changed again… this time to an image of a grave. She was standing in front of it in tears, staring lovingly at the lone headstone.

She couldn’t make out the writing on the stone to know whom it belonged to. Deanna realized that she didn’t really want to know.

She knew that she had to get out of here, right now. She spun and began to run in the opposite direction.

Suddenly, she could sense Will’s presence with her. She stopped running and turned back towards the light.

He was standing there, bathed in the white light. She couldn’t actually make out his features, but she KNEW it was he. She could sense his mind, his being… but instead of warm feelings love and affection, she felt terror.

She turned from him and ran as fast as she could. Reaching the point from where she had started, she couldn’t stop. Her feet continued to carry her forward until she fell from the edge into the black abyss below…

Deanna sat straight up in bed. Her eyes raced around the room, and then realization set in.

Will’s room… she was still in Will’s room on Risa.

Turning, she saw him, lying on his side, sleeping soundly.

Outside, the sun had just begun to peek over the moonlight. Quietly, she slipped out of bed and padded across the room to retrieve her clothing from in front of the fireplace.

Wiping the tears from her eyes, she slipped out into the fresh sunshine, allowing the door to slide shut on her future forever.

To be continued in chapter 28
Chapter 28

Will opened his eyes to a flood of sunshine, temporarily blinding him.

He squinted his eyes a bit, trying to allow them to adjust to the blinding light.

Reaching for the bundle of warmth he had been curled to all night, he felt… nothing.

Lifting up, he saw that she was no longer in bed. "Deanna?" He called, hoping she was in the bathroom.

He heard no response. Clearing his mind, he reached out to her mentally.

Again, he received no response. Will felt panic welling up in his mind. ‘Where is she?’

Getting out of bed, he walked to the bathroom. Pulling on some clothes, he headed out into the mid-morning sunshine, in search of Deanna.

Walking across the courtyard of the resort, he saw Elyssia and Dennis sitting at the patio table in front of their cabin.

Will headed straight for them. He knew he didn’t need to stop at Deanna’s cabin. He knew, instinctively, that she was gone.

Elyssia was the first to see Will coming towards them. Her face looked grave. Dennis craned his neck towards his face; he too looking as if he’d lost his best friend.

"Where is she?" Will demanded as soon as he got into earshot of them.

Elyssia moved her hands in circles, unable to form words. "Will-"

"Goddammit, tell me where she is!" He shouted, interrupting her.

Dennis stood from his seat. He reached forward to take Will by the arms.

Will, in turn, immediately pushed his hands away. An even darker cloud passed in front of Dennis’ features.

"Will, either calm the down or we’re leaving now."

Standing at full height, Dennis stood eye to eye with Will. Taking a deep breath, Will’s entire body suddenly sagged a bit.

Pulling out a chair, he sat on the other side of the table from them. He steepled his hands and put his face in them.

Finally peeking through his fingers, he pleaded with them. "Please, just tell me where she is."

Elyssia’s eyes suddenly looked glassy. "She’s gone Will." She said quietly.

"That I already know." He replied aggravated.

Dennis stepped in to help his fiancée. "She caught a transport which left about 45 minutes ago. She’s going home."

Will absorbed the information for a moment. Wiping his hands up and down his face, he shook his head.

"I don’t get it… I don’t understand what happened." He said.

Elyssia sighed. "She- She had a dream last night Will, it scared her."

Will looked at her incredulously. "She ran because she had a dream?"

Elyssia shook her head. "Will, what do you know about my Uncle Ian, Deanna’s father?"

Will’s eyebrows furrowed. "She talked about him last night. I don’t understand, what does this have to do-"

Elyssia touched his arm. "What did she tell you?"

"She told me about the day he died, how it was at her seventh birthday party, you were there…"

"Did she tell you what happened the night before?"

"The night before? No, she didn’t say anything about it."

Elyssia looked at Dennis. He took her hand in his to offer support.

Finally, she said, "Deanna had a dream the night before that her Father had died. I, in turn, had a dream that my Mother died. The next day, it happened."

Will looked at her confused, as Elyssia tried to explain. "It’s something that’s always happened to us, these precognitive dreams. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the dreams we have don’t mean a thing. It’s that one percent that usually makes our life a living hell."

"So, you’re telling me, that Deanna had a dream that something bad was going to happen between us, so she ran?" He asked angrily.

Elyssia nodded. Will stood quickly from his chair. "This is crazy, I’ve got to stop her."

"Oh Gods, Will no!" Elyssia jumped into his path, blocking him. "Will, please, just leave her be."

"Elyssia, this is crazy! I love her, I want to be with her!"

Dennis stood slowly. Walking next to Elyssia, he simply stated; "You’re not seeing the point Will. You want to be with her. But, she doesn’t want to be with you. If you love her as much as you claim, you’ll give that to her. What she wants should be the most important thing in the universe to you."

Sighing, Will turned and walked slowly back to his room. Entering his security code, he wandered into his room and flopped face down on his bed.

The tears slid slowly down his face. Not caring, Will let them come as his universe shattered around him.

To be continued in chapter 29

"Then and Again"
Chapter 29

Dennis and Elyssia walked through the paths that led between the three cabins their small group had rented for the week. Dennis had his arm around her shoulders, trying to offer whatever comfort he could.

Deanna hadn’t even been on Risa for a whole day, and some fine-tuned negotiating with the manager of the resort proved fruitful. Deanna would only be charged for the one night, not the week.

Will’s cabin sat as quietly as Deanna’s. They could see it in the distance. They had not seen nor spoken to Will since earlier that morning.

Elyssia sighed. Tightening his arms around her shoulders, Dennis leaned to the side and kissed her on the top of the head.

"How did things fall apart so fast?" She wondered.

Dennis shook his head. "Damned if I know. One minute everyone is happy and getting along, the next thing we know…" He shrugged.

"The sad thing is, Deanna knew this was coming."

Dennis nodded. "I don’t pretend to know about or understand this gift you and Deanna share. But, what I do know is that she just threw away one of her best chances of happiness because of it."

Elyssia sighed again. She stopped walking and sat on a bench. Thinking for a moment she said, "It’s not over for them yet Dennis."

"Why do you say that?"

Elyssia smiled. "They’re Imzadi, they’ll meet again someday. And they will again and again. That’s part of the bond. Fate plays funny tricks on people who are Imzadi."

"But who’s to say that they’ll be able to work it out if they meet again ten or twenty years down the road?"

"That, my dear, is up to them, and only them."

"It’s just so sad that it had to happen this way. "It is like heaven opened up for their souls to find each other and become one. But now all the elements in the universe have closed the window to their happiness."

Tears slid down Elyssia’s cheeks. "The sad thing is, I think those elements will continue to descend upon them and wreak havoc in their lives for the next several years."

They both sighed. Elyssia finally stood, taking Dennis’ hand; they walked towards Will’s cabin.

They received no response after ringing the chime several times. Walking around to the side windows, they peeked through.

The cabin was completely empty. Will had packed all of his belongings and left.

"I certainly hope he didn’t go after Deanna." Dennis said.

"I better go contact Aunt Lwaxana and warn her."

They turned and rushed towards the communications building to send an urgent communique to Betazed.

Will’s transport arrived back at Starfleet Academy early the next evening.

He noted, with some irony, that it was pouring rain. Most of the other passengers rushed from the transport pads to seek shelter.

Will stepped into the rain. Looking up at the sky, he let the cold wetness beat against his face.

Walking slowly towards his dorm room, he glanced up at the sky when the rain stopped.

He saw the clouds breaking and the stars beginning to peek out.

He saw one particularly bright star that he didn’t recognize. And before he could help it, he wondered if maybe Deanna was staring up at the same star.

Light years away, Deanna lay on antique glider swing in the back garden of her family home on Betazed.

She stared up at the sky. Her eyes locked on one strange, bright star.

Tears welled into her eyes again, running down her face and staining her blouse.

Wiping her face, she looked at that brilliant star in the sky again. ‘Why, why does that star remind me so much of Will?’

To be continued in chapter 30


"Then and Again"

Chapter 30a

USS Enterprise- NCC-1701E Ten Forward Lounge

Beverly sat across from Will and Deanna, a million emotions playing in her mind.

They had been spinning their tale for almost two hours, and Beverly was still at a bit of a loss as to WHAT to do for their wedding.

Beverly had always wondered how Will and Deanna met, and why they found it necessary to fight their feelings for each other so vehemently.

It was apparent, to anyone who looked at them now, how very much in love they were. And, the bond they share must have intensified that love.

The bond was deep and abiding, one that had transcended many years and separations along the way. But, it had always persevered, and made them the strong people they were today.

And now that they were together again, Beverly couldn't help but wonder what had happened in the years between Risa and The Enterprise.

"So you two didn't see each other anymore before the Enterprise was commissioned?" She asked.

Deanna and Will stared deeply into each other's eyes, a hint of amusement on their faces.

Beverly saw the exchange. "Ah, okay, so there IS much more to this story. Spill it you two. What happened after Deanna left? When did you see each other again?"

Reluctantly breaking away from Deanna's gaze, Will began once again.

"I was assigned to the Pegasus which left space dock about six months later."

"And I went home for a few weeks, went back to the Academy in September and graduated two years later. I then returned to Betazed to help at the Embassy until I finish classes at the University." Deanna said.

"And you two never saw each other again until the Enterprise?" Beverly asked again.

Will looked at her and laughed. "Oh no, as fate would have it, the Academy was just the beginning for us."

To be continued in chapter 30

"Then and Again"

Chapter 30

Starfleet Transport Vessel
November 2361

Lieutenant William T. Riker sat aboard the Starfleet transport ship, trepidation filling his soul.

He was en route to his new assignment, which, as luck would have it, was on Betazed.

Betazed was about to go through a strange planetary alignment with its sun and three moons. Because of the odd gravitational forces, many forecasted that Betazed could possibly suffer from various environmental disasters in the upcoming months.

Starfleet wanted to have a large detachment there of it’s best personnel, just in case they were needed for whatever reason.

Most officers were jumping at the opportunity to be assigned to the tropical planet, but Will was not looking forward to it one bit.

He felt that being planet side for any prolonged period of time would slow his career. How could he possibly advance through the ranks if he’s getting a suntan?

Plus, there was the ‘her’ factor. And that her, of course, being Deanna.

Will had not seen or spoken to Deanna, Elyssia or Dennis since he left Risa four years ago. He felt it better to cut any and all ties to Deanna.

Apparently, Elyssia and Dennis agreed with his assessment. As far as he knew, they never tried to contact him either.

Will couldn’t help but check when 2 years ago, Deanna graduated. She had finished in the top twenty of her graduating class. And because of such, had landed an excellent first assignment on board the research vessel Nirvana.

From there, he knew nothing. He didn’t know if she was still onboard the Nirvana, or if she had been transferred somewhere else.

He could easily have pulled up her personnel record on the computer, but somehow it would have seemed like an invasion.

He didn’t want to know anything about Deanna Troi unless he was there to witness it first hand.

He knew it was crazy to feel that way. It had been four years since he’d last felt her soul connected to his… four long years since he heard her mind gently tickling his.

Will knew that he would never again feel that way about anyone. He didn’t have time to feel that way with anyone.

He had risen through the ranks quickly. Starting on the Pegasus, it wasn’t long before he was booted up to Lieutenant.

After the Pegasus was lost, he was certain he’d be assigned to another Starship. But instead, he was going to the one planet that he least wanted to be on.

He knew it was silly, but he feared that Betazed would do nothing but remind him of Deanna. And, knowing that little reminders of Deanna would follow him throughout his life, he definitely didn’t need a whole planet of them.

He felt the transport bump a little. Glancing out the window, he realized that they had landed on Betazed.

As the hatch opened, passengers began scurrying about. Will moved slowly towards the door.

The brightness of the sun blinded him at first. As his eyesight adjusted, he took his first step on to the sands of Betazed.

And, quite strangely, he felt that he’d taken his first step to the future.

To be continued in chapter 31

"Then and Again"

Chapter 31

Walking from the main transportation hub in the capital city, Will stopped to take in the sight that greeted him.

He had to admit it. Betazed was absolutely breathtaking.

The temperature was warm, extremely so, but there wasn’t an ounce of humidity in the air.

A slight gentle breeze blew by every once in a while. But it was not too hot, not too cold.

The sky was a deep shade of blue with an occasional orange or purple streak marred only by huge white puffy clouds.

Green lawns lined the streets in front of office buildings and residential homes.

People walked along both sides of the street, silently communicating with one another.

Will watched in amazement as people had complete conversations without uttering a single word. He could see some animatedly gesturing with their hands.

But the silence was eerie, but not entirely disconcerting.

Will found it refreshing. He knew that he would never be able to communicate with Betazoids in that manner.

‘But what a perfect way to communicate. No beating around the bush, just get straight to the heart of the matter.’

An old Betazoid gentleman happened to be passing at that moment. He looked at Will with an amused look.

Raising his eyebrows, he said to Will, "And just think Lieutenant, you won’t have to waste time telling people you’re new." Laughing a little too giddily, the old man continued his walk down the road.

Will couldn’t help but smile. He didn’t know why, but he liked this planet and it’s people already despite his earlier reservations to the contrary.

He began making his way to the Main Street, which leads to several important buildings in the capital city, most importantly to the Federation Embassy.

Checking on the PADD that contained his orders, he stopped in his tracks. He was to report to an Admiral Sorsha.

He’d heard that name before, but he wasn’t sure where. ‘Oh, of course, Deanna.’

Admiral Sorsha was the one spearheading the project to assign counselors to space bound ships.

Shaking his head, he pushed the thought out of his mind. He could see the Embassy a little over a block away.

Two blonde girls around Will’s age were walking his direction. As they neared, he saw them look him up and down appraisingly, look to each other, and giggle.

‘Ah yes, this planet has some definite possibilities.’

His meeting with the Admiral had not gone as well as he’d hoped. Admiral Sorsha, as far as Will could tell, didn’t seem all that interested in his arrival.

She had dismissed him with a quick wave of her hand. Tossing a PADD across her desk she turned her face back to her computer. Will guessed that it was her way of silently dismissing him.

As the door to the Admiral’s office slid shut, Will glanced at her Secretary, a harried young Ensign who didn’t seem old enough to shave.

"Is she always like that Ensign?" He asked.

The young man smiled. "You lucked out Lieutenant, usually she doesn’t even acknowledge anyone in her presence. She just sticks her nose in the air and forgets about you."

Shaking his head, Will sighed and looked down at the PADD. Pre-programmed, it contained the number of his quarters, his duty schedule, the hours of the café in the embassy, and of course, if he had any questions, a list of those whom he could contact.

He noticed that Admiral Sorsha’s name was not listed. Rolling his eyes, he began his journey to his room.

Will found his quarters quickly. Slinging his bag onto a bunk he threw himself down in frustration.

He quickly felt himself start to drift off. ‘I guess that little dinner party with that brunette two days ago has finally caught up to me.’ He thought.

What was her name? He thought hard… Ashley. Ah yes, Ashley. He used what little Betazoid mind techniques he remembered from a few years before to clear his mind.

Relaxing into a deep sleep, he quickly forgot about his problems.

"Mother, you’re not listening to me." Deanna pleaded with her mother.

"Of course I am Little One! You just told me that you’re home now for good, no more gallivanting across the galaxy."

Deanna looked in frustration to Elyssia for help, and realized that none would be forthcoming from her.

She had her face buried behind her napkin; her cheeks were red from contained laughter.

Deanna took a cleansing breath and tried again. "What I’m trying to tell you Mother is that I will be on active duty at the Embassy until January. When the Spring Semester starts at the University, I’ll be on Educational Leave. In two years when I finish at the University, I will be shipped out again."

"Well, that gives me two years to talk some sense into that head of yours. My goodness Elyssia, do you see how you’ve influenced your cousin?"

Elyssia looked shocked at the insinuation. "Oh no, don’t go blaming it on me. Personally, I think Deanna is trying to run from all the incredible pressure you’ve put on her all these years."

Deanna shot her a withering look. "Oh, what are you now, a pop psychologist?!"

Lwaxana waved her hands in the air. "Trememendous pressure and look where it got me. My daughter doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life."

Dennis finally spoke up. "Well you know Lwaxana, maybe Deanna will get married and have a child by the time she finishes at the University."

Lwaxana’s eyes lit up at that prospect. Elyssia couldn’t hold it in anymore and she burst into raucous laughter.

Dennis joined in with his wife. Lwaxana shook her head at the three young people. "Well, I must be going. There’s a reception for some ambassador at the capitol building. I must go represent the Fifth House since it seems no one else will."

Deanna dropped her head into her hands. When she felt Lwaxana leave the room, she looked at the two remaining guests at the table.

Throwing her napkin at Elyssia, she burst into laughter. "Who decided to make this gang up on Deanna day?"

Dennis laughed. "Oh Deanna, we couldn’t help it. The more you talked, the deeper the hole you dug. It was just too tempting to let it pass by."

Elyssia smiled at her husband as Deanna shot them both an amused look.

"Well, just remember who’ll be looking after the-" Her voice trailed off.

Elyssia and Dennis looked at her strangely. "Deanna, are you okay?" Elyssia asked.

Deanna seemed as if she was a thousand light years away. Her hand came up to her mouth, which began moving without a sound coming from it.

Finally, she blinked and looked at them. "Oh My Gods…"

Dennis stood and moved to her, looking concerned. "Deanna, what is it?"

She looked at Elyssia across the table, a look of panic on her face. Finally, it softened and a tear fell from her eye.

"It’s Will… he’s here. He’s close by."

To be continued in chapter 32

"Then and Again"

Chapter 32

Will sipped at his morning coffee while reaching over to pick up the PADD Admiral Sorsha had tossed at him the evening before.

He was shocked to find a replicator in his quarters, especially when the Embassy had a café built right along side of it.

But, at this point and time, he was grateful. He had napped for a few hours last night. Waking up at almost 0200 hours Betazed time, he decided to walk a bit around the city.

His internal clock was still set on the time of his last assignment. So, it would take him a few days to adjust.

Walking around the city a bit had helped. He was amazed at how some fresh air had cleared his head.

After returning and sleeping for a few more hours, he felt ready to finally face the day.

His first job of the day was to check in with the Starfleet Medical staff housed at the small infirmary across the street from the Embassy.

When being assigned planetside, it was always routine for you to drop your records off by hand, mostly just so the doctors could meet you and run a tricorder over you a bit.

Walking into the bright Betazed sunshine, he smiled at passerbys on the street. They in turn smiled back and continued on their way.

He entered the infirmary at 0900, exactly when his appointment was supposed to be.

"Hello, I’m Lieutenant Riker, I have an appointment for 0900." He told the beautiful Betazoid receptionist at the front desk.

She smiled at him. "I know who you are Lieutenant, and I know that your morning is pretty free. That is a really good thing because both Doctors are running late this morning."

Will leaned over the desk. "How did you know my day was free?" And then realizing that he’d forgotten where he was, he smiled. "Never mind."

She simply smiled at him and gestured to a set of chairs a short distance from her desk.

Will turned and went to sit.

After a few minutes, the receptionist announced to him, "The Doctor is ready now."

Nodding, Will stood and walked towards the door on the opposite side of the room. The receptionist called to him, "Doctor Peterson’s office is the third door to your left."

Will found himself hesitating a bit. ‘Did she say Peterson?’ he thought. Well, Peterson was a fairly common name, so it didn’t necessarily mean that it was Dennis.

The door marked "Dr. Peterson" slid open as soon as he approached. Will froze in his tracks when he realized it wasn’t Dennis that he would be facing.

Even worse… it was Elyssia.

To be continued in chapter 33

"Then and Again"

Chapter 33

Will’s mind screamed at him to run from the room and never look back.

But, he knew he had to face his demons. Even if the demon before him didn’t even realize he’d walked into the room.

Will forced a jovial look on to his face. "Well, I see you and Dennis finally got married. It’s about time."

Elyssia, whose back had been to him when he first entered, spun in her chair and looked at him in surprise.

"Will!" She smiled. Rising from her chair she came over and gave him a bear hug. "I heard you were here on Betazed, I just didn’t realize we’d be running into each other so soon."

She gestured to the chair opposite her desk and retrieved two cups of coffee from the replicator.

Handing one to Will she plopped back down into the chair she had just vacated.

"So, how did you hear I was on Betazed?" He asked her.

She shook her head. "News travels fast, especially on a planet full of telepaths." She laughed lightly and quickly changed the subject. "Actually, there’s so much personnel coming through here these days that it’s hard to keep everyone straight."

Will shook his head. "I can’t for the life of me figure out why Starfleet is divesting so much time and personnel here for something that may not even happen."

Elyssia smiled. "That’s the beauty of it Will. Betazed is a very powerful ally to the UFP, and they know it. So, whenever the politicians get a chance to flex their muscles and make the ambassadors here on Betazed think they’re the most important in the galaxy, the UFP gladly acknowledges."

Will smiled, understanding perfectly. "How about here on the planet? Do scientists believe this strange planetary alignment is going to affect the planet any?"

Elyssia laughed. "Well, considering the alignment will last for less than three hours, and happens once every four thousand years, they don’t think it’s much of a threat. Perhaps some coastal flooding, but nothing that can’t be managed very easily."

Will nodded, sipping his coffee. Elyssia spoke again, "So Will, how have you been? It’s been what-"

"Four years." Will said quietly. He forced a smile to her. "I’ve been good. My career is doing well, I haven’t been shot, beaten or broken in a while. You can’t ask for more than that."

Elyssia smiled. Continuing, Will said, "And look at you? You guys actually got married."

The smile on her face lit up the room. "Yep! The summer before our seventh year at the Academy. And then of course, the summer before our eight and final year…"

She reached forward on her desk and turned a holo-picture around to face him.

In the picture he saw two red haired green-eyed little babies smiling back at him.

"Oh my god!" He exclaimed.

Elyssia smiled. "Meet Kathryn and Cassandra Peterson, better known as Katie and Cassie, the terrors of Betazed. Lucky me to have inherited the Troi family curse."

Will’s smile dropped a bit at the mention of the Troi name. Taking a breath, he said, "It must have been hard for you two?"

She nodded. "Oh yeah, trying to complete our last year of residency and take care of newborn twins. But, we managed, we had a lot of help from friends and family, so it all worked out."

"Well, I guess I should turn these over to you and let you get your day started." He handed his medial record chips over to Elyssia. She smiled and took them, throwing them on the desk in front of her.

"Don’t stay away this time Will. Dennis and I are just across the street from you."

Will nodded. Suddenly, feeling a lot more at ease with her, he smiled. "I won’t, I promise."

She flashed a smile at him and turned back to her computer. "Oh and Will? Make sure you stop by for a physical sometime in the next few days."

He smiled and exited her office. A few moments later, the door, which connected Elyssia and Dennis’ offices, opened.

"That didn’t take long did it?" He asked her.

Elyssia sighed and shook her head. "In a way, I was hoping Deanna was wrong last night when she said he was here."

Dennis sat in the chair Will had just vacated. "Well, there’s no avoiding it now. She’s assigned to the same embassy as he is for goodness sake."

Elyssia just nodded and shook her head. Finally she said, "We knew four years ago that this was inevitable. The best thing we can do is just try to help them through."

To be continued in chapter 34

"Then and Again"

Chapter 34

Deanna sat in the park a few blocks from her home. Katie and Cassie toddled around near by, picking flowers and chasing bugs, whether real or imaginary.

She enjoyed spending time with her cousin’s girls. They were both very pretty, with wavy red hair and eyes that could light up a darkened room.

And, they were both extremely smart. By the age of four months, most babies are barely able to hold their head up. These two, were already sitting up on their own by that age.

Walking came at eight months, talking shortly thereafter. And since then, their physical and intellectual development has been amazing.

Deanna loved having playtime like this with them. Every time she saw them, there was something new for them to show her.

And, she loved children. She couldn’t wait for the day to be a mother herself.

Since that wasn’t coming anytime in the foreseeable future, this was the next best thing.

Katie walked quietly up to her and put a squirmy bug on her knee. Deanna smiled, and carefully removed the little creature.

"Now how did you catch that Katie?" She asked as she flicked the bug off the palm of her hand.

Katie smiled enigmatically. "Cassie did it." She said before running back to join her sister by the muck tuck flowers.

Deanna thought back to the conversation she had been forced into by Elyssia several days before. Actually, it was the day of Elyssia’s reunion with Will Riker.

Deanna knew that she wouldn’t be able to avoid Will. Eventually, if he tried hard enough, he would be able to sense her nearby.

Elyssia had sworn that she didn’t tell Will she was on Betazed. That was right before she pointed out to her cousin for the millionth time that she was acting stupidly. It was fated by the stars for them to meet again.

Their souls would see to that, no matter how much she fought the inevitable.

Deanna couldn’t help but remember the dreams that had haunted her back at the Academy.

The one and only night she had spent with Will was amazing. The way their bodies and minds had melded into one was something she would never forget.

She couldn’t forget it, no matter how hard she tried. And, she knew deep down, that she wouldn’t ever forget Will.

Nor did she want to. That was the hardest thing to grasp. He was Imzadi, her soul mate, part of her that was always missing. Miraculously, that part had been found, only to be lost for the last four years by her own doing.

And then, like a bolt of lightening it struck her. She wanted to be with him, wanted him. She wanted to feel his mind graze over hers. She wanted to feel the pleasure and sensation she experienced when Will’s hand happened to brush hers.

She wanted to feel their minds and bodies together again. Their souls forged into one, eternity their only opponent.

Glancing over to the babies, she frowned. ‘But how will you survive if he hurts you?’

‘You just will, Little One.’ Deanna jumped at the sound of her Mother’s thoughts in her mind.

Turning her head, she saw Lwaxana walking up the grassy knoll. Smiling, she sat next to Deanna and pulled her into a tight embrace.

‘This Will Riker must be someone special to be your Imzadi, Little One. Embrace it, don’t push it away.’

Deanna took a deep breath. "But what about the vow you and Daddy made to the Millers? And my duties here on Betazed?"

Lwaxana waved her hands as if pushing the words out of the air. "You do whatever makes you happy. If the Millers decide to uphold the vow, I’ll take care of it. You’re my only child, I won’t stand by to see your beautiful heart be pulled in so many directions at once."

Deanna smiled and kissed her Mother on the cheek. ‘I like it when you’re so acquiescent.’ She thought cast at Lwaxana.

Lwaxana laughed and patted her on the hand. "Don’t get used to it Little One, it may never come again."

Deanna smiled. Turning around she saw the babies both toddling her way holding little pieces of grass they had pulled.

"Flower, Dee!" Cassie proclaimed.

Taking the clumps of grass and dirt from them, she smiled.

To be continued in chapter 35

"Then and Again"

Chapter 35

Deanna walked slowly into the infirmary building. She had one baby holding onto each hand. As they took their little baby steps, they decided that they had to look at each and every thing they possibly could.

Reaching the top step next to the door, Cassie lifted her foot way too high and hiked herself up. She looked up and grinned at Deanna.

Katie followed suit, only she tripped and almost went down, but she managed to catch herself with her hands. She stood, wiped the dirt off of her hands onto her pants and took Deanna’s hand again.

Laughing to herself, she opened the door and let the girls into the building.

The girls walked into the waiting room and immediately headed towards the doors that led to their parent’s offices. Impatiently, they waited for it to slide open.

Finally, they turned and looked to Deanna in frustration. Deanna hid her smile behind her hand and stepped closer to the door. Her weight was enough to trigger the door mechanism to open.

As soon as it started to slide open, both girls ran through. "Daddy!" Cassie called extra loudly.

Dennis stuck his head out of his office. "Shh, remember there are sick people in here." He smiled and scooped his girls up into his arms.

Katie looked seriously at him. "Mommy and Daddy make them all better?"

He smiled again. "You bet we are. So how was the park?"

Both girls started babbling on at the same time. Deanna laughed and shook her head, waving to Elyssia who had just come from a patient’s room down the hall.

"Hey." she said in greeting as Katie launched herself at her Mother. Catching her, she lifted her up above her head, flying her around in a circle. "Here comes Super Katie to the rescue!"

Katie laughed hysterically. Cassie smiled. Looking at her Daddy she said, "Silly Mommy."

All three adults laughed. "Well, girls, how about we go and get you some lunch?" Dennis suggested.

Both girls squirmed down to the floor. "Yeah!" they said in unison and began running down to the break room. Dennis jogged to catch up to them and triggered the door they were anxiously waiting outside of..

Elyssia gestured Deanna toward her office. "Were they good for you?" She asked.

Deanna smiled. "Just like little angels." Elyssia laughed.

"I’m still waiting for the day when my two little precocious children act like angels for me."

Deanna laughed. "Have you heard from Will?" She asked.

Elyssia looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Well, well, well. Actually, yes I did. He stopped by this morning for his physical."

Just the mere mention of Will and physical in one sentence brought a flush to Deanna’s cheeks. Elyssia did her best to hide her amusement..

"Deanna! I just ran a tricorder over him!" She exclaimed.

Deanna shook her head. "I know. I can’t help it."

Elyssia shook her head. "Well, my suggestion still stands. Just contact the man, talk to him, stop running away."

Deanna looked at her. "Just like that, huh?"

Elyssia shrugged. "That depends on what you say to him."

Both women jumped when the Comm signal on Elyssia’s desk beeped. "Ah, that’s Ensign Yannello. Time for his meds. I’ll be back in a few."

Elyssia stood and exited the room.

Deanna walked over to the couch along the wall and sat. She tucked her legs under herself.

‘Just contact him.’ She thought.

She cleared her mind. She focused on nothing but the memories she tried hard to bury into her subconscious.

She searched, looking for the one mind in thousands that could make her mind weep with a single thought and plead for more.

Focusing, she pinpointed what she was looking for. Taking a deep breath, she opened her thoughts.

To be continued in chapter 36

"Then and Again"

Chapter 36

Will lie on his bunk staring at the ceiling.

It had been a long day for him. He had eaten a quick meal early in the morning with some of his fellow officers of the task force.

From there, he had gone to see Elyssia, had another meeting with Admiral Sorsha, which did absolutely nothing to change his opinion of her.

Afterwards, he had attended a lecture, and then a two-mile hike through the forest surrounding the capital city.

His stomach rumbled, reminding him that it had been awhile since he’d eaten. A late lunch, that would be perfect right now.

Rising from his bunk, he walked to his replicator and ordered soup and a sandwich.

Sitting at the table, he took a huge bite of his sandwich. Ah yes, that’s exactly what his stomach needed.

Tickle… flutter.

The sensation started gently pushing into his mind. He stopped eating and concentrated.

He’s been on Betazed long enough to know his mind was being probed. But, why and by who?

Suddenly, the sensation slammed into him full force. This person was familiar to him… a memory from so long ago.

A memory he could never have possibly imagined feeling again.

He stood from the table and moved back over to the bunk. He laid down again, his hands joined behind his head.

At first, he hesitated opening up to her. What could she possibly want? After all this time, and the way she had run out on him, why contact him now?

Slowly, he dropped the barrier. His whole body responded to the sensation of hearing her voice again.

‘Do you remember what I taught you Imzadi, can you still sense my thoughts?’

Will swallowed hard. Panic began to well into his mind. No, No, No… focus.

‘I remember everything about you Deanna.’ He responded simply.

Will could’ve sworn he heard her take a deep breath. But that, of course, was impossible. He didn’t even know where she was.

‘How have you been Will?’

‘You can find that out from Elyssia and Dennis. What’s wrong, don’t have anything else to say to me?’

There was a momentary pause. ‘Will, you sound so bitter.’

He almost laughed. ‘Bitter? Why would I be bitter? I gave everything to you Deanna. I loved you in a way I’ve NEVER loved anyone before, and you didn’t even have the decency to leave me a note when you rushed out the door.’

‘Will- this… it really has little to do with you. It’s me… it’s always been about me.’

He stopped for a moment confused. ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. Deanna, we’re Imzadi. There is no ‘me’ or ‘I’ anymore, just us.’

‘Will, I want to show you something. There’s going to be a lot of images and feelings coming to you at once. Please, just relax and let it happen.’

Will closed his eyes. He didn’t know if he had to do that or not, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

Suddenly, dozens of images crashed into his mind all at once. At first, it was all a jumble.

Suddenly, like a fog, the confusion lifted, and he understood her point of view.

She showed him the dream she had before her Father had died. She showed him the images of her Mother, hysterical, crying for her Imzadi who would never return.

She showed him an image of a what must have been her, at a very young age, standing in a white gauze dress with her Mother and Father. Her hand was tied to a young human boys hand.

Will could hear the words. "And as a Daughter of the Fifth House, it will be your sacred duty and responsibility to uphold this bond, to continue the proud tradition handed down from generation to generation."

The image changed again, this time to the dreams she had the night they had made love.

Will shuddered at the thought of Deanna losing a child, and where was he? He wasn’t in the picture she was laying before him.

He saw her standing alone in front of a big grave marker, crying. She kneeled slowly and placed a pot of some type of purple flower he didn’t recognize on the grave.

Thank goodness he didn’t know whose grave that was. And again, he wasn’t there.

Will stopped the images crashing into his mind. ‘Is that what scared you so badly Deanna? Did you think I would leave you at times like these.’

She was silent for a moment. ‘I only know what the dreams show me.’

‘And how accurate are your dreams Deanna? How many times have you had dreams which came true?’

‘Not many, but Will, these aren’t just dreams. You’re connected to almost every one of them. The sensation of you is just THERE. I don’t know how else to explain it.’

‘Pain is a part of life we all have to deal with Deanna. We’ve both had our share of pain in our lives. But Deanna, I would never, ever, ever intentionally hurt you. You know that, right?’

‘Yes. But Will… I’m scared. The Imzadi bond… I’ve never felt this way before. It terrifies me to no end and I don’t know what to do about it. It's just so overwhelming.’

Will took a deep breath. ‘Deanna, it scares me too. More than you’ll ever know. I don’t know what it’s like to be Betazoid. I don’t know very much about your planet at all. But, I do know that fate has decided that this is what’s in the cards for us. Don’t we owe it to destiny to try?’

He heard Deanna mumble. ‘It doesn’t HAVE to be way I saw it. Maybe…’

Will nodded; she was finally starting to understand. ‘Deanna, where are you?’

To be continued in chapter 37

"Then and Again"

Chapter 37

Elyssia rolled her eyes on her way out of Ensign Yannello’s room. The man had a minor Betazoid spring cold. By the way he behaved, you might think he was on his deathbed.

She peeked into the breakroom and burst into laughter. Dennis was by the sink wiping some sort of red substance off the front of his shirt. The twins were sitting at the table, their faces, hair, everything covered in the same substance.

"Uh honey, you’re supposed to be eating it, not rolling in it." She offered.

Dennis glared at her. "Thanks, glad you could help us figure that out." He said sarcastically.

Elyssia heard something splat by her feet. Looking down, she saw a scoop of something lying by her feet.

Looking over at the twins, she saw them both grinning. "What have I told you two about throwing your food?" She scolded.

Katie immediately spoke. "Cassie did it!" Both twins started giggling again.

Looking sympathetically at Dennis, she shook her head and began making her way down towards her office where Deanna was waiting.

She got to her door, and was almost knocked over by Deanna who came rushing out.

"Hey, where are you going?" She asked.

Deanna spun, as if suddenly realizing Elyssia was there. She opened her mouth, looked confused, and held her finger up in the air, as if telling her to wait.

Spinning on her heel, Deanna exited the infirmary and headed directly to the Embassy across the street.

Elyssia shook her head again. "My God, I’m surrounded by weirdness." She commented.

Will stayed in exactly the same spot he was in just a few moments ago while he was linked to Deanna.

He hadn’t received an answer to his inquiry as to where she was, but he had a feeling that he would soon.

Suddenly, he sat up straight in bed. She was near, coming even closer.

He felt as though his heart would burst. He hopped from the bed and rushed to the door, but was only greeted with an empty hallway.

He began walking towards the elevator at the end of the hallway. He could see that it was coming up.

Finally it stopped on his floor, just moments before he’d reached that door.

It slid open slowly, and he was greeted with the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen.

Deanna, standing with her arms crossed in front of her chest. When she saw him, she at first looked indecisive. But then, she saw the smile on Will’s face.

She took a few tentative steps forward, then launched herself into his waiting arms kissing him with all the passion her soul could muster upon reuniting with its other half.

They stood that way in the hall for several moments. Neither said a word, no words were needed. They just felt each other; both experiencing something they thought was lost long ago.

Finally, Deanna reluctantly broke the passionate embrace. "Will, we shouldn’t do this here."

He nodded. His soul screamed in frustration when he pulled away from her. Not letting go of her hand, he led her back to his room.

The door slid shut behind him, sealing them off from the rest of the world.

To be continued in chapter 38

"Then and Again"

Chapter 38

Ecstasy, pleasure, passion, completion.

As soon as the door to Will’s room closed the emotions came cascading over Will and Deanna like a waterfall.

They kissed each other hungrily, passion igniting their souls and causing them to forget exactly why they hadn’t seen each other in so long.

Will felt the front of his uniform suddenly loosen as the zipper that held it closed slid down.

One of Deanna’s hands had found it’s way to his shirt underneath, slowly lifting it. Her other hand was on the back of his neck, tracing sensuous patterns, teasing his skin until it was on fire.

His hands left the side of her face and moved slowly down her back. Stroking around to her stomach, he found the buttons of her blouse and slowly began to undo them.

She pulled her mouth off of his for a moment. "Dammit" she muttered as she struggled with his uniform.

He smiled and shrugged the top of his uniform off. Smiling, she attacked his mouth again.

Slowly moving backwards towards the bed, Will’s fingers lost contact with the buttons of her blouse for a moment. He felt like grabbing the thing and ripping it off of her.

‘That wouldn’t be very gentleman like’ he thought amusedly as one of her hands reached down and stroked his bulging crotch.

‘Who said I wanted you to be a gentleman Imzadi?’ He heard echo through his mind.

Unable to get the button from its hold, he finally just gave the blouse a tug. The half dozen or so remaining buttons popped from their respective clasps and beaded onto the floor.

Deanna pulled her head away a bit and giggled. ‘Now you can explain to my Mother why I don’t wear the blouse she gave me anymore’.

For some reason, that thought terrified Will.

Suddenly, he felt the back of his knees touch the edge of the bed. Deanna kept pushing her weight towards him, and they both collapsed into a tangled heap on to the mattress.

Pulling away once again, they both smiled to one another. Will reached his hand out to her face, gently stroking her right cheek as she looked down at him.

‘You’re so beautiful Imzadi, do you know that?’

Deanna smiled, her eyes suddenly becoming a bit moist. ‘I know it every time you tell me.’

Pulling her down on top of him he reached his hands into her open blouse, stroking the soft skin around her bra.

They kissed again, this time more slowly. The sensation was almost overwhelming. Will felt his body ready to cry out, to be released from whatever evil creature kept it in check. He wanted to explode from every pore of his body, to shout out to the world.

‘Your feelings about her have not changed since the day I met you Commander. This place just let them out for some fresh air.’

Will jumped up suddenly, almost spilling Deanna on to the floor.

"My Gods, Will, what’s wrong?"

Will’s eyes searched around the room wildly. After realizing positively that no one else was in there, he looked at her.

"I-I just heard a voice. A man’s voice."

Deanna’s eyebrow arched. "I didn’t hear anything Will."

Will suddenly felt chilled, as if a cold wind blew through his spirit.

"Maybe… maybe I just picked up a stray thought from you."

Deanna looked at him and smiled a bit. "So my voice makes me sound like a man?"

Will missed the joke. His eyes were again searching around the room for his ‘invisible intruder’.

Deanna looked at him concerned. "Will, this is all going a little fast. Maybe we should just sit and talk for a while?"

He looked at her sadly. "I don’t know who or what that was Deanna. Have you ever heard the expression ‘feeling like someone just walked on your grave’? That’s how I feel right now."

Will saw Deanna’s eyes drop a little, her face flush a bit. He took her hand into his, holding it tightly.

"No, don’t do that. Don’t pull away from me, not again. I do want you… I want you so badly I can taste it. It’s just-"

She smiled. She pulled her hand from his and moved herself up to the head of the bed. Placing her back on the headboard and pulling her blouse closed, she held her arms out for Will.

He smiled and gratefully acknowledged the invitation. He crawled up and placed his head on her belly. They just laid there in silence for a while.

Finally, he spoke. "I never thought I would ever have you close to me again."

She sighed. "I’m sorry Will. I just couldn’t let myself be hurt."

He sat up, turning to look her straight in the face. "Do you really think I would do something like that?"

"Back then, I wasn’t sure. The feelings and emotions were so new to me. I didn’t know how to interpret them. And we were so young-."

"And now all of that is different?" He asked.

She thought of a way to answer. "We’re both here Will. We’re together. Let’s just enjoy it."

He pulled himself up into the same position she was sitting in. Reaching out, he pulled her into his arms and rested his head on hers.

All the while, a little voice rang in the back of his head. ‘She didn’t answer the question.’

To be continued in chapter 39

"Then and Again"

Chapter 39

After a while of the two of them enjoying the silence, Will noticed the shadows in his room changing.

"It’s almost dinner time. Why don’t we go get something to eat?" Will suggested.

"Mmm, that sounds good. But, we have a slight problem." Deanna said smiling.

He looked at her strangely. "What?"

Deanna sat up from his chest and spread her arms out. Her blouse flapped open and they both laughed.

"Yeah, it’s probably not a good idea for you to go out in public like that." He offered.

She shook her head. "I can see the headlines now. ‘Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed dines with unidentified Starfleet Officer half nude’. Mother would adore that."

"Do they really keep tabs on your life like that?" He asked.

She nodded. "If we so much as get a cold it’s reported in the press."

"It seems like a bit of a sheltered life to me, no offense."

But, she didn’t take offense. The smile dropped slowly from her face. "In a way it is, also very lonely."

She rested her head back on his chest. After a few moments, her stomach let out a horrendous growl.

"Was that you or is there a Klingon Targ under my bed?" He asked laughing.

She smiled while her face turned red. "I guess dinner isn’t such a bad idea."

"We could stop by your place so you can change?" He offered.

Deanna sat up, her eyes wide. "Oh no, Mother is home tonight. Neither one of us is ready for you to meet her yet."

Will thought for a moment. "Oh, wait!"

He hopped out of bed and walked to his closet. Pulling out a pullover T-shirt, he handed it to her.

She slipped it over her head. Much to his dismay, because of his size over hers, the shoulders of the shirt slid off of hers, almost exposing her breasts.

"Well, this helps a little, but I still have the problem of-" she said smiling.

"Oh, I know! I’ll be right back!"

He pulled his uniform top back up. Using his fingers to fix his hair, he rushed out of his room.

Elyssia sat across the street finishing up her final paperwork before heading home.

She still hadn’t heard from Deanna, so she had no idea what was wrong with her earlier.

Sighing, she began putting the finishing touches on her last report.

Suddenly, her door slipped open and Will Riker came rushing in.

"Are you okay Will?" She asked, looking at his disheveled appearance and hearing him pant for air.

"Please tell me you have a blouse here!" He begged.

Her eyes widened and she looked completely stupefied. She looked down at the blouse she was wearing.

"No, no, an extra one!"

She pointed to an old wooden coat rack that stood next to the door. Will rushed over and grabbed the garment bag that hung from it.

He quickly unzipped it, and cried out in joy when he saw the clothes it contained.

Running over to Elyssia he kissed her quickly on the cheek, turned and ran out of the room with the garment bag.

She sat staring at the empty room for a minute. Finally she spoke.

"And people say I’m weird."

To be continued in chapter 40

"Then and Again"

Chapter 40

Hours later, after a filling meal at one of Deanna’s favorite restaurants in town, Will and Deanna walked into the moonlit night.

All of Betazed’s moons were full, illuminating the streets in front of them in blue white light.

Deanna looked absolutely beautiful bathed in the natural light. Will watched her quietly out of the corner of his eye.

As they walked, he would notice Deanna take a deep breath and close her eyes as she exhaled. She was probably doing it to clear her head, he surmised.

But to Will, it was the most beautiful, erotic thing he had ever seen.

"So, I never did ask you what you’re doing home on Betazed." He said finally.

She smiled. "In about a month, I’ll be taking an educational leave from Starfleet and going back to school. When I have my degree, I’ll be joining the first corp of onboard Counselors."

"Oh, that’s right! I remember you talking about that. It’s taking Admiral Sorsha this long to get the project off the ground?"

Deanna nodded. "There seems to be resistance. Some of the ‘well seasoned’ officers don’t see a need for Counselors."

Will nodded. "I guess Admiral Sorsha finally won out, huh?"

Deanna laughed. "She’s a hard woman to ignore. And you’re on Betazed as part of the Emergency Task Force?"

Will nodded. "We’re prepared if anything happens when the alignment occurs."

Deanna sighed. "I hope it won’t come to that."

Will noticed that they were walking past a tall, black wrought iron gate that was covered in vines with large, orange flowers spread throughout the vines.

Will looked at the gate that was obviously locked. Behind the gate he could see a cement path that lead through some tall bushes into an area hidden to the eye.

He stopped and tried to peek through the gate. "What’s in there?" He asked Deanna.

Deanna smiled. "That’s the largest garden on the planet. It’s absolutely beautiful inside."

"Why is it locked?" He asked.

"They always lock it at night fall. They’re afraid children will sneak in and cause trouble. There are also several ponds and streams, they don’t want anyone to get a crazy idea one night." She said smiling.

"I bet it would be beautiful in there in this moonlight." He said.

Deanna shrugged. Walking up to the gate, she took a firm hold on the door. Hoisting herself up, she climbed it easily and dropped to the other side.

Will looked at her shocked. "Deanna! What if you get caught?"

She shrugged. "I can easily pull my weight to get out of it. Come on Will, it’s really easy to climb."

Will looked up and down the street, checking to see if anyone was coming. Seeing it was clear, he scaled the gate and walked to where Deanna was.

She was standing, with her eyes closed, facing the moonlit path. Will walked up beside her and stopped, staring at the beautiful creature in front of him.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes, turned to him, and devoured his mouth with hers.

When the kiss broke, Will raised his eyebrows. "I like it here already."

Deanna laughed. Taking his hand, she pulled him further down the path.

To be continued in chapter 41

"Then and Again"

Chapter 41

They walked silently through the moonlight, hand in hand.

Neither of them felt the need to say anything. All of the emotions and feelings weren’t just theirs anymore. Everything belonged to THEM.

Walking a ways, they came to a small pond that had several flowers decorating the top of it.

Will stopped and stared at it in wonder. ‘This is all so beautiful’ he said to her.

She smiled. ‘Betazed has so many beautiful things to offer Will, you’re just beginning to see that.’

‘I think the most beautiful thing is standing in front of me.’

Deanna blushed. Taking his hand, she lead him towards a stonewall with several names and dates etched on it.

"Do you see that house over there?" She said to him verbally, pointing behind some tall shrubs that covered the gate on the opposite side.

Will squinted a bit, but caught sight of lights through the shrubs when the breeze blew them gently.

"Yeah, I see it."

"They are the caretakers of this garden. These names etched on here are all of the caretakers, and the years they tended it."

Will bent and read the names. "My God, this garden is hundreds of years old."

Deanna nodded. "It’s almost a magical place. Every time I’m here, I see something new. I like bringing the girls here to let them play. It’s such a wonderful place for children."

Will smiled and walked behind Deanna to another path that branched off of the main one. "These look unusual, what are they?"

Deanna smiled, turning around where Will had stopped and leaned down to where he was kneeling. "Those are muck tuck. These flowers live for hundreds of years, so they could have conceivably been here since the beginning of the garden."

"Amazing." Will said.

Taking his hand, Deanna pulled him down on the ground. She leaned towards him and kissed him on the cheek.

Taking his face in her hand, she brought him down with her until they were both lying on the ground with their heads near the muck tuck flowers.

"Deanna, what are-"

"Shhhh." She said. "Just listen."

Will did as instructed. He heard a gentle tingling, and realized that it was the flowers. They were shaking in accordance to their nearness, making almost a little chiming sound.

"Oh my god!" He exclaimed.

Reaching over, he took her hand. They lay on the ground, side by side, staring at the stars.

The only sounds they heard were the gentle tingling of the muck tuck and the beating of their own hearts.

To be continued in chapter 42

"Then and Again"

Chapter 42

Several weeks had passed since Will and Deanna’s walk in the garden on Betazed.

Every possible free moment they had was spent together, sometimes with Dennis and Elyssia, sometimes by themselves, but always together.

The final preparations for the ‘event’, meaning the lunar alignment, were in place. All personnel and Betazed’s inhabitants were prepared for the worst.

But with Christmas fast approaching, the Starfleet personnel’s spirits were high.

Dennis and Elyssia were in final preparations to take the babies to Earth to visit their relatives. Deanna had always gone to her Uncle Charles’ home, but was reluctant to go this time.

Elyssia smiled while Deanna tried to come up with a good excuse. Finally, Deanna just gave up.

"Admit it, you don’t want to leave Will!" Elyssia teased.

Deanna looked at her, annoyed. "Yeah, so what’s your point? I haven’t seen you leaving Dennis’ side."

Elyssia feigned being wounded. "Meow! Deanna, I’m happy that things between you and Will are going so well. Why don’t you invite him to Earth? Isn’t it time he meet the rest of your family?"

Deanna sighed. "I’m afraid to rush into anything with him. It’s only been a few weeks."

"A few weeks? It’s been 5 years since you met. Trust me, you’re not ‘rushing’ into anything!"

Deanna nodded. "You’re right. I guess… I guess I’m just scared."

Elyssia took Deanna’s hands in hers. "Since you two got back together, how many bad dreams have you had?"

Deanna looked down at the floor. "None."

"Well, see! Deanna, maybe you two have beat the gods and changed fate."

"I hope so ‘Lyss, I hope so."

Will and Deanna sat over a candlelit table drinking wine… and drinking in the presence of each other.

Deanna took a deep breath. "Will, my discharge comes soon, and everyone is making plans to go to Earth for the holidays."

Will looked at her over the table. His eyes dropped a little, causing Deanna to stop.

"Will, what’s wrong?"

He forced a smile. "Everyone will be going home to their family. My aunt and uncle will be traveling, so I don’t have anyone to go home to."

Deanna felt her heart breaking. She took his hand, and smiled. "That’s what I’m trying to ask you Will. Elyssia wanted me to invite you to her Father’s home for the holidays."

"So-Elyssia wants me there?" He said coyly.

Deanna smiled. "Well, I’m sure the twins would love having you there."

Will laughed. The twins had definitely taken a shine to Will. His fingers began to stroke Deanna’s hand gently.

"It would be nice to spend some time with the girls. But, I don’t know…"

Deanna rolled her eyes. "Oh, I’m teasing! Of course I want you there too."

Will laughed. "It’s not that Deanna. Not that knowing you want me there isn’t important. I don’t think there’s anyway Admiral Sorsha will let me step foot off of Betazed."

Deanna waved her hand. "Oh, Admiral Sorsha won’t be a problem. Maybe we can go somewhere on vacation after the holiday, someplace tropical."

"I don’t know Deanna. Admiral Sorsha doesn’t seem to like me too much, so I seriously doubt that I’ll be able to go. Although, the thought of seeing you in a bikini coming out of a tropical ocean almost makes me want to go AWOL."

Deanna smiled shyly. This mini vow of celibacy was getting harder and harder. And, her empathy told her that Will was very much ready to end it himself.

"Well, you know Will, I usually swim without a suit, and so I probably won’t even need to pack one."

Will shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I’ll make an appointment with the Admiral tomorrow."

To be continued in chapter 43

"Then and Again"

Chapter 43

"I can’t believe you would even have the audacity to come and ask me something like this Lieutenant. I think you need to get your priorities in order."

Will sat in Admiral Sorsha’s office. His face was turned to the floor as he endured her five-minute lecture.

Well, at least he got a reaction out of her. That’s more than he’s done since he’d arrived on Betazed.

His mind began to wander. He almost smiled when he felt Deanna’s mind brushing his.

But, the Admiral clearing her throat forced him back to reality.

"Is there something you find amusing Lieutenant?"

"No sir." Will answered automatically.

Will could hear Deanna’s laughter in his mind. ‘Poor Imzadi, is she eating you up in there?’

"DISMISSED Lieutenant." Will jumped at Admiral Sorsha’s final words. He turned and rushed from her office.

Deanna was standing in the lobby of the embassy, chatting with some of the other personnel stationed there.

He walked towards her, horrified that he would have to break the news to her.


"Hi." She said with a huge smile on her face.

"I’m so sorry…-"

Deanna laughed. "Don’t worry about it Will, I’ll take care of it."

"I don’t understand her. The lunar event isn’t until mid-January, we’d be home a week before."

Deanna looked at Will startled. "Home?" She said.

Will looked to the floor and back at her. "Yeah, now that we’re together, I can’t help but think of Betazed as home."

Deanna smiled. "I’m going to go talk to the Admiral. I’ll be right back."

As she started to walk away, a crude thought slipped from Will’s mind into hers. She grinned and kept walking. ‘You think I look this good with the uniform on, wait until you see it off again. It’s been a long time.’

Will felt his blood pressure rise. ‘Oh yes, we need this vacation.’

Not even five minutes later, Deanna came walking back down the hallway towards Will. He saw her chatting and laughing with someone.

And then, much to his chagrin, he realized it was Admiral Sorsha. The Admiral walked directly up to Will.

"Have a good vacation Lieutenant. I’ll see you on January 10th." She turned on her heel and walked away.

Will looked at Deanna in amazement. "What-how…"

Deanna laughed. "The Admiral is a pushover Will, really."

Will shook his head and had to marvel at what Deanna considered a pushover.

To be continued in chapter 44

"Then and Again"

Chapter 44

Ten days later, Will walked down a street in one of private neighborhoods bordering the capital city.

Whistling while he walked, he thought ahead to the two weeks he was about to experience.

First, Christmas in Canada with Elyssia’s father. And then, he and Deanna were going on a private one-week trip to Angel Falls before heading back to Betazed.

Ah, yes. He was definitely looking forward to the next two weeks.

Arriving at the address Deanna gave him, he stopped and marveled at the house.

It stood three stories high, with wraparound balconies on the two top floors.

The house was absolutely huge, big enough at least for ten people, let alone the two that lived there.

The gate at the end of the horseshoe shaped driveway was open, so Will slipped inside and walked to the house, still marveling at its beauty.

He rang the chime at the door and waited. It opened slowly, revealing a man of about forty-five years of age.

"Hi, I’m Lieutenant Riker, I’m here to pick up Deanna." The gentleman didn’t speak a word, he just nodded, and stepped aside allowing him entrance into the house.

The inside of the house was even more beautiful than the outside. Everything was decorated in wood tones, except for the marble fireplace that adorned the sitting room.

Will walked to the fireplace and stooped his head to look at the photos.

There was one of a man in an old type Starfleet uniform, holding a little girl with black ringlets.

There was another photo, this time with that little girl sitting on a swing with another little girl with long, wavy red hair.

‘Oh my, look at what a beautiful child Deanna was.’ His heart melted. His mind began to wander. ‘I wonder what our children will look like.’ He thought.

"Your jumping the gun there a bit, aren’t you Lieutenant?" The sound of an unfamiliar woman’s voice startled him out of his reverie.

He turned to see a striking woman with dark brown hair and the telltale Betazoid eyes.

"Not jumping the gun maam, just wondering." He answered.

The older woman nodded her head and came the rest of the way into the room. She gestured to a chair opposite the one she just sat in. "I’m Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana."

Will put out his hand. "I’m Lieutenant Riker."

Lwaxana nodded. "Oh, I already knew that William. Do you mind if I call you William? Of course not. I mean, after all, you are dreaming of my future grandchildren."

Will took a breath to say something, and then let it go. He wasn’t quite sure if she was joking, serious, or a little bit of both.

"I’m sorry Mrs. Troi but Deanna told me that you were gone for the week."

Lwaxana studied her fingernails. "She thought I was."

Just then, Deanna came bounding down the staircase. "Will." They smiled and met each other with a kiss.

Lwaxana watched the exchange quietly. Deanna turned to her Mother. "I trust that you behaved yourself?"

"Don’t I always Little One?" Lwaxana answered with a smile.

Deanna looked at her incredulously. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

Lwaxana laughed boisterously. Standing from her chair, she ushered the two young people to the door.

"Don’t dilly dally, you’re going to be late. You know Elyssia will be late for her own funeral, so you might as well be there to push her along."

Will turned and stuck his hand out. "It was nice to get to finally meet you."

Lwaxana took his hand, but instead of shaking it, she pulled his face down to hers.

She kissed him on the cheek. "Have a nice holiday Lieutenant."

Deanna looked strangely between her mother and Will. Shrugging, she walked out the door with Will.

Lwaxana watched them walk down the driveway and out of sight.

‘Oh please, Riix, let them have a wonderful time.’ Lwaxana pleaded.

To be continued in chapter 45

"Then and Again"

Chapter 45

The three-day trip between Betazed and Earth went without incident… almost.

The four adults actually had a wonderful time being entertained by the girls, who had decided that they would befriend everyone who was on the transport with them.

Most of the passengers immediately fell in love with Katie and Cassie, but things got a little tense when a Klingon boarded at Deep Space Five.

No sooner had he taken his seat when Cassie started pointing at him yelling about a monkey.

Elyssia and Dennis did their best to keep her quiet, but the towering Klingon stood and walked over to her sitting on her Mommy’s lap.

Will stood, not quite sure what the Klingon was planning on doing.

The Klingon bent down until he was eye level with Cassie, who quickly decided this wasn’t a monkey after all.

The Klingon stared into her eyes for a moment. Cassie, who suddenly decided to be brave, stared right back. After several moment, the Klingon threw his head back and laughed hysterically.

"You will make an excellent warrior, child." Turning, he walked back to his seat.

The four adults let out a huge sigh. Katie, who had watched the exchange from her Daddy’s lap, said, "I don’t like him Mommy."

Elyssia dropped her head into her hands. "Alright you two, time for nap."

Dropping the back of the seats down, the girls laid down quietly. After a few minutes, they were both asleep.

Dennis raised his eyebrows. "I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen them lay down without a fight."

Deanna snickered. "I think they picked up on a little bit of the tension and decided to remove themselves from it."

Elyssia laughed. "Yeah, but… the Klingon.. he’s so big… and-" she pointed down to them. Shaking her head, she wondered. "Deanna, were we like this when we were younger?"

Dennis laughed. "I bet you were probably worse."

Elyssia fake glared at her husband and hit his arm lightly. Will smiled and stretched his long frame.

‘Are you okay Will? Do you need to walk around a bit?’ He heard Deanna ask.

He smiled at her. ‘No, I’m fine sitting right here.’

Without realizing it, Deanna noticed that her hand was on Will’s leg. It was stroking his thigh back and forth. She had no idea how long it had been there, but obviously he did.

They grinned knowingly at one another.

Elyssia and Dennis for their part watched the exchange amusedly. "It’s amazing how easy it is for you two to do that now."

Will and Deanna broke their gaze at one another and looked at her. "Do what?" She asked.

Dennis nodded towards them. "Speak to one another telepathically."

Deanna nodded. "It is a bit odd. It started back at the Academy, and just never left us I guess."

Elyssia thought for a minute. "You know, that out of all the documented cases on Imzadi couples in Betazoid history, only three have involved a Betazoid and a human."

Deanna smiled. "One of those three was my parents."

Elyssia nodded. "Yes, one was your parents. And quite interestingly enough, another was over a hundred fifty years ago, a man named Thomas Kyle Riker. A relative of yours Will?"

Will sat up suddenly. "My great grandfather? But I’ve seen pictures, he wasn’t married to a Betazoid."

Elyssia shook her head. "No, he and his Imzadi were never able to bridge the gap their lives had created. She eventually committed suicide, but not before giving birth to a child, a boy. That boy was your grandfather, who was half Betazoid."

Will looked at her in surprise. "So, my Dad is a quarter… and I’m an eighth."

Deanna looked at him in surprise. "You never knew any of this Will?"

Will shook his head. "All of my relatives died a long time ago. My Dad, my Aunt, and myself are the only blood born Riker’s left."

Deanna felt the flash of emotion that cascaded through Will. Reaching out, she took his hand.

Elyssia decided to continue her history lesson. "So, being an eighth Betazoid as you are Will, you obviously wouldn’t inherit any of the Betazoid mental abilities. But, it is quite conceivable, that something in your genetic make up has made the bond with Deanna even stronger."

The four friends sat absorbing the knowledge. Finally, the transport operator came over the COMM system to announce their arrival on Earth.

Elyssia and Dennis began the chore of waking up the twins while Will and Deanna began collecting their belongings.

To be continued in chapter 46

"Then and Again"

Chapter 46

Will smiled at the feel of cold air blowing at them from the Lauretian Mountains.

He noticed that Deanna turned her face and immediately began to shiver. ‘Are you okay?’ He asked.

She smiled. ‘Yes, I just don’t like the cold.’

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder just long enough to get closer to Elyssia’s childhood home.

The front door opened to reveal Deanna’s Uncle Charles. Elyssia smiled and put Cassie down on the ground. She rushed up to her Father and gave him a long hug.

"Hey, there’s my two beautiful girls!" He exclaimed looking at the twins.

They both smiled and toddled towards him. "Hi Pop Pop!" Katie exclaimed, promptly before she fell forward on her hands and knees.

Dennis bent and scooped her up, dusting the snowy wetness off the front of her.

Katie, for the most part, didn’t seem to care. She toddled forward and joined her sister in her Pop Pop’s arms.

Deanna walked forward and angled around the twin to give her Uncle a hug. Charles kissed her on the cheek and looked directly to Will.

"So, you must be the Lieutenant Riker I keep hearing so much about." He said with a smile.

Will stepped forward and took his hand. "Please, sir, call me Will."

Charles shook his head. "Oh, please Will, I am NOT old enough to be called Sir." Everyone smiled and headed into the house.

Deanna bee lined straight to the fireplace and put her hands out to warm. Elyssia laughed.

"Her Betazoid blood just cannot get used to snow."

Deanna huffed. "I don’t know how you people can live with this cold weather."

Cassie decided to tell her. "Dee, snowmen! Snowballs!"

The five adults laughed. Cassie didn’t quite understand why as she thought she’d made her point quite clear.

Everyone began stripping off their winter gear. Elyssia looked around the room and noticed the big bare spot where all the furniture had been moved.

"No tree yet Daddy?" She asked.

Charles shook his head. "No, I figured I’d wait until all of us were together so we could pick one out."

Deanna looked at him incredulously. "Oh, that means going back out in the snow, doesn’t it?"

Everyone laughed. Dennis took pity on her. "Well, Deanna, just think, a week from now you’ll be in warm, tropical South America."

She smiled as she mulled that fact over.

Dennis took Katie into one of the spare rooms to get her changed out of her wet clothes. She came running out a few minutes later wearing nothing but her diaper.

"Daddy can’t catch me!"

Elyssia jumped forward. "But Mommy can!" Katie squealed and screeched. Taking Cassie by the hand, she led both girls away to be changed.

Will stood towards the back of the room, a bit uncomfortable in the home of someone he’d just met.

Charles sat in his favorite chair and looked at Deanna. "I never thought I’d see the day when Elyssia would be a mother. Let alone to twins."

Deanna laughed. "And, she’s such a wonderful mother, that’s the really amazing part."

Charles smiled and laid his head on the back of his chair. "So, you two, what do you think?"

"Think about what Uncle Charles?" Deanna asked.

Charles waved Will forward. He walked forward cautiously, and sat on the sofa next to Deanna.

"Our tree this year… pine, spruce or cedar?"

Will felt a sudden flash of warmth come over him. Charles, in a roundabout way, had welcomed Will into the Troi family, without knowing him at all.

It had been such a long time since Will had feelings of any family of his own, tears began to form at the edge of his eyes.

Charles and Deanna both noticed at the same time. "Uh, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see what’s keeping my little monster and her children."

He beat a hasty retreat. Deanna turned and looked at Will. Instead of asking what was wrong, she immediately understood.

‘I know Imzadi, I know.’ He heard throughout his soul.

She laid her head on his shoulder. Putting his head on top of hers, they watched the fire burn.

To be continued in chapter 47

"Then and Again"

Chapter 47

"Are you okay honey?" Charles asked Deanna.

They were standing in the middle of the Christmas tree lot. It had begun to snow yet again and the temperature had dropped a few more degrees.

Everyone loved it, except for Deanna, whose teeth were chattering.

She smiled above her scarf. "I’m fine, just a little cold."

Charles smiled and looked over at Elyssia and Dennis who were each precariously balancing a twin.

The snow was up to Deanna’s knees, so there was no way the babies would be able to trudge through.

Charles clapped him mittened hands together. "So, we’re sure this is the one?"

Deanna silently begged. ‘Oh please oh please oh please.’ Will looked over at her, his eyes twinkling with amusement.

Elyssia put a suddenly squirming Cassie on to the ground. She pulled her glove off and took some of the branches in her hand. "Yep, this one is perfect."

Cassie had begun to try to toddle off, and ended up chest high in a little snow bank.

She began to cry, which of course, upset Katie, who decided to cry for the predicament her sister was in.

Elyssia smiled down at her abominable baby and scooped her back up in her arms.

Dennis bounced Katie a bit to calm her down. Signaling to the lot attendant, he looked over to Elyssia for help.

Deanna stepped forward. "Come here Katie." Katie launched herself at Deanna, and stopped crying the minute she left her Daddy’s arms.

Cassie wailed ever louder. "Cassie, with your snowsuits on there’s no way I can hold both of you."

Cassie didn’t care. She continued to cry, drawing looks from several other people who were in the lot.

Elyssia looked at Will. "Here you go Lieutenant, make yourself useful." She thrust Cassie at him.

Will took the baby awkwardly. Cassie in turn pulled herself into a more comfortable position and turned her little wet face up to Will.

"Hi!" She told him.

Will smiled down to her.

As Charles busied himself helping the attendant use the laser shovel to pull up the tree, Elyssia went to stand next to Dennis, putting her head on his shoulder.

Dennis gestured over to Will and Deanna playing with the babies. "Makes a cute family picture, eh?"

To be continued in chapter 48

Chapter 48

"And their stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."

Everyone was sitting around the newly decorated Christmas tree, listening as Will read the ancient Christmas story to the twins.

The girls sat on Will’s lap, one to a leg. They were both lying back on Will’s stomach, their eyes drifting open and closed.

Suddenly, Katie sat up. "I don’t have stockings Will."

Will smiled. "That’s okay Katie, Santa will still stop."

Cassie looked up at him. "Are you sure?"

Will nodded. "Of course."

Katie in the meantime had bent herself almost totally in half. She leaned back against Will’s stomach with her foot in her hand. Tugging really hard, she pulled off her sock.

"Here, we can use this!" Everyone in the room laughed. Elyssia shook her head.

"Okay, girls. Time to say good-night."

Both girls looked at their mother with bottom lips stuck out. Elyssia looked at them sternly.

"No arguing. You have to be in bed or Santa won’t come at all."

Both girls jumped off Will’s lap and ran full force down the hallway to their room.

Charles laughed. "It works every time." Looking over at Dennis, he said, "Are you ready to put our expert craftsmanship to work?"

Dennis laughed. "This should be fun. I can’t believe after all these years toys still need to be assembled."

Dennis and Charles left the room, leaving Will and Deanna in front of the fire.

They were leaning on each other. Deanna looked up and smiled.

"What are you thinking about Imzadi?"

Will shrugged. "A little bit of a lot of things. This has been a really great day. It’s nice to be part of a family again."

Deanna kissed him slowly. Sitting back, she reached up and touched his cheek.

"I’m glad we’re making you feel so wonderful."

"You always make me feel wonderful Imzadi." They kissed again, this time sensually.

A coughing sound behind them made them jump apart. Elyssia was standing there grinning like the Cheshire cat.

"Sorry to interrupt, but the girls insisted I give these to Will."

Pulling her hand out from behind her, she produced three little socks that matched the one Katie left.

They laughed. Will shrugged. Walking to the box of Christmas decorations, he pulled four tacks out.

Walking to the fireplace, he pinned the four baby socks to the mantle.

"There, that should bring Santa in."

Elyssia laughed. "Or make him run screaming in the other direction."

Deanna busted out laughing, but then suddenly stopped at the loud thumping sound which emanated from Charles’ bedroom that they were using as a toy workshop.

"That didn’t sound good." Elyssia said, walking back to check on them.

"Will, I forgot to tell you. It has worked out conveniently that all the rooms in the house are full. So, you and I are being forced to share a room." Deanna coyly told him, her eyes full of promise.

Will grinned at her. "Remind me to leave extra cookies for Santa for that one."

Deanna laughed.

Will and Deanna eventually made their way back into ‘the workshop’ to help with the mountainous pile of toys which needed to be assembled.

Afterwards, the five adults gathered around the tree, toasting a wonderful holiday and each other.

To be continued in chapter 49

"Then and Again"

Chapter 49

Multiple trips by each adult made it a bit easier to get all of the gifts from their hiding places and out under the tree.

By that time, it was well after midnight, and everyone decided to retire for the night, knowing two excited little girls would be up very early in the morning.

Walking to shut off the lamp by the window, Charles whistled. "My God, it’s snowing again!"

Elyssia and Dennis rushed to the window. "When was the last time it snowed like this?"

Charles shook his head. "A long, long time."

Turning around to see Will and Deanna’s expressions, Elyssia smiled when she realized they were already gone from the room.

Charles and Dennis joined her when they noticed what she was smiling at.

"Everyone has a lot to celebrate this year." Charles said.

Almost five years had passed since their bodies had joined as willingly as their souls.

But, once the door closed behind them, it all came rushing back to them in a flood of deliciously sensual memories.

They knew exactly where to touch, where to feel… exactly what spot would garner the most response.

They became one another, the world around them melting away as ecstasy became their new home.

They joined, rejoiced, and joined again. Their souls screaming and crying for more than what they were already offering.

Deep in the recesses of their mind, they pleaded with one another, teased one another to the point of breaking before starting the ritual all over again.

And once that barrier was shattered, the pressures within them built again and again.. each new barrier to be shattered in their own unique way.

The sun eventually rose above the snowcapped mountains, chasing away all the shadows from the room and their minds.

Collapsing in an invariable heap, they rested.

To be continued in chapter 50

"Then and Again"

Chapter 50

They had barely slept for two hours when the sound of little fists pounding on their bedroom door woke them up.

Deanna moaned and lifted her head off of Will’s bare chest. ‘Wha-" she yelled sleepily.

"Dee, Santa Clause, hurry!" Came one of the twin's excited voices through the door.

Will groaned. "Oh, they would have to wake up at the crack of dawn, wouldn’t they?"

Deanna smiled seductively down at him. "Well, it’s not their fault we were, ‘UP’, so late." She emphasized, trying to stifle a yawn.

Will smiled. As Deanna pulled herself up, he wrapped his arms around her. The realization that they had woken up together THIS time dawned on them.

They kissed long and hard. Will trailed smaller kisses down her neck as her head fell back.

Just as things were heating up, little fists pounded again. "Dee!!"

Deanna and Will sighed. "Okay okay, we’re coming!"

Her response was giggles and little feet running back down the hall.

Laughing, they rose from bed. Reaching into their bags, they pulled their nightclothes and robes out and began putting them on.

‘Better late than never, hmm?’ Deanna thought casted to him.

He smiled. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out a brightly wrapped box with a red bow on top.

He handed it to her sheepishly. "I wanted to give this to you while we’re alone."

Deanna grinned. "Oh Will, you didn’t have to do that!"

He shrugged. Turning around, she reached back into her bag and pulled out a wrapped gift.

"Well, it looks like we were thinking along the same wavelength."

Will smiled and took the gift from her. They walked to the bed, sitting down. "You first." She said.

He smiled and began pulling at the paper. He unwrapped an antique leather bound book.

Turning it over, he read the title. "’Ode to Psyche’ By John Keats." Opening the cover, he saw that Deanna had left an inscription.

‘To Will, all my love Deanna.’

Deanna looked lovingly at him. "This is one of my favorite books to read."

Will read from the first verse.

"O GODDESS! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
The winged Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied: ’
Mid hush’d, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true! "

"I love it Deanna, thank you. Open yours now."

She opened the small gift in her hand. It was a black velvet box. She looked at Will and smiled.

Opening the box, she found a heart shaped gold locket inside. Across the front was an engraving of two hands joining.

Lifting the card from the box, she read what he had written.


Fate decided that our souls belong to one another. And now, I give you my heart forever.

Love always, Will’

Overcome with emotion, tears sprang to her eyes. ‘Oh my Gods Imzadi, this is beautiful.’

Will also touched by the sweetness of the moment, choked out, "I’m glad you like it."

Deanna pulled the locket free from the box. Lifting her hair, she turned to Will so he could hook the clasp for her.

They shared one more kiss before heading out into the living room to join the rest of their family.

To be continued in chapter 51

"Then and Again"

Chapter 51

Will and Deanna stumbled into the living room where the rest of the family was waiting.

"Well, look at what the twins dragged in." Elyssia said, sarcastically.

Deanna glared at her and headed straight for the coffee carafe that was placed on the end table in front of the couch.

Will flopped down and watched the twins. They were running from present to present, reading the names on the tags.

Of course, they couldn’t really read the names but were doing their best to make them up.

And conveniently, every package except for five belonged to them.

Dennis and Elyssia moved to the floor and began handing out gifts.

Surprising Will, there were several there for him as well.

The adults worked their presents slowly, having more fun watching the twins getting buried deeper and deeper in a mound of Christmas paper.

Finally, barely able to see their heads, Dennis said. "’Lyss, have you seen the girls anywhere?"

Elyssia smiled. "No, you know, they were just here. I can’t imagine where they might have gone."

A large pile of paper began rustling around as the twins dug their way out.

"Here we are!" They proclaimed exuberantly.

Everyone laughed as the twins continued to rip their way through their gifts.

Deanna and Will had settled on the floor in front of the sofa. Will put his arm around her and pulled her close to him.

‘I can’t wait to see our children playing like this on Christmas.’ He told her telepathically.

Her head snapped up as if shocked he would suggest such a thing. Her eyes filled with tears as she kissed him on the cheek.

‘I love you so much Imzadi.’

Will smiled at her. He settled his head on hers and was content to spend the rest of the morning just like that.

After all the gifts were unwrapped, Deanna and Dennis started on breakfast as the other three adults began cleaning up the mess in the living room.

Elyssia came in and got them, shushing them as she led them back to the living room.

All five adults stood marveling at the twins, who were both curled up next to the tree sound asleep.

"Well, so much for their afternoon nap." Dennis whispered laughing.

The smell of coffee, bacon and sausage filled the house causing everyone’s stomach to grumble.

The adults had just sat down to eat when Katie came wandering into the dining room.

Cassie followed soon after. Setting the girls into their booster seats, they began to munch happily.

With his belly full, Will sat back and nostalgically looked around the table.

For the first time ever, his life felt absolutely perfect.

‘It can’t get any better than this.’ He thought.

Hours later, the twins went running out the front door into the snow.

No one knew how they had managed to do it, but, they had coerced Deanna into taking them out to build a snowman.

Elyssia laughed as she watched the twins grabbing Deanna’s double-gloved hands and lead her outside.

Will went out right behind them.

Dennis and Elyssia sat in the warm living room, watching through the large picture window as the scene before them played out.

Will helped the twins begin the snowman. Starting with a large packed snowball, he began rolling it.

The twins laughed and clapped their little gloved hands together as the snowball grew.

Deanna tried to sneak back into the house. "Deanna? Want to come here and help lift this?"

She stopped in her tracks. ‘Busted’ She thought.

Turning, she saw the twins looking at her expectantly. Not wanting to upset them, she smiled and walked to Will who was rolling the second ball of snow.

They both took a side and lifted the ball on top of the other. The twins began picking up snow and adding it to the preexisting snowman, laughing and babbling the whole time.

After the third ball was added to the top, Deanna clapped her hands together.

"Well, that was fun! Let’s go in and have hot chocolate."

Suddenly, a wet ball of snow splattered on her chest. Looking up, she saw Will turned in the other direction looking up towards the mountains.

Katie and Cassie were shrieking with laughter. Cassie picked up a handful of snow and ran up to Deanna, throwing it at her.

"Snowball Dee!" She exclaimed.

Taking a deep breath, she crossed her arms and glared at Will. "William T Riker, look at what you started."

Will turned back to her, innocently grinning from ear to ear… and was hit square in the face with a pile of snow.

Katie and Cassie shrieked again. All hell broke loose and Deanna let loose with a full volley.

The twins had sought refuge behind the snowman, but continued to peek out, laughing at how silly the adults were acting.

Will tried to run out from behind the tree he had ducked behind, but Deanna came running full force at him and tackled him in the snow.

They lay in the snow, rolling around and laughing, trying to see whom they could get the wettest.

Unable to contain themselves any longer, Katie and Cassie came running up and jumped into the fray. All four lay on the ground, cold and soaking wet, laughing and hugging each other.

‘I hope this is how it is with our children Deanna.’ Will thought to her.

Deanna smiled. "Yeah, but without the cold and snow.’

A short time later, there was one Betazoid who spent the rest of the evening using her Imzadi to help keep her warm.

To be continued in chapter 52

"Then and Again"

Chapter 52

Six days later, Will and Deanna said goodbye to Charles, Elyssia, Dennis and the twins to begin their private and much anticipated vacation at Angel Falls.

They decided to spend New Years there, where as the other five would be heading to Betazed. Dennis and Elyssia had to report back to duty by January 5th, and Charles decided to make the journey to see Lwaxana and spend some extra time with his family.

Adopting a bit of a her late husband’s traditions, Lwaxana had pulled some strings and rented Will and Deanna a private cabin along the river which led to the Falls.

Lwaxana had given it to Deanna as a holiday gift, along with showing her several pictures from when Ian had taken she and Deanna there many years ago.

The cabin had all the common amenities, as well as being very secluded, with it’s own private beach.

Thinking of her little bag of tricks she had over her shoulder, Deanna knew the cabin would be perfect.

Beaming directly to the cabin by mid-afternoon, Will and Deanna unpacked their bags and settled in to wait for the New Year to fall.

Will volunteered to make Deanna dinner. She had yet to experience his culinary skills, so she was looking forward to it.

As he rattled around in the kitchen, Deanna walked out onto the patio that lead off of the living room.

She saw the river a little in the distance; it’s current causing waves and ripples along the way.

The air was warm and steamy, a definite improvement over the frigid temperatures in Canada.

She sensed Will coming up behind her. Reaching around, he pulled her into his arms.

She leaned back into his strong body, savoring his scent, his essence, his being.

"Dinner is ready Imzadi." He said.

She smiled. "Why don’t we eat out here?" She suggested, pointing to the patio table and chairs.

Will let go of her and disappeared back into the house. A few moments later, he emerged carrying two steaming plates of food.

Placing them on the table, he reached out and took her hand. Deanna accepted, allowing him to lead her to a seat.

She looked at the meal laid out before her. Marinated rib eye steaks, with stuffed potatoes and broiled asparagus.

‘Mmm, this smells delicious.’ She thought cast to him.

‘I hope you like it.’ He thought back.

Deanna took a few bites of the wonderful meal. "Oh my, Will this is delicious!"

"I’m glad you like it. I taught myself to cook when I was very young. My Dad didn’t want to be bothered with it."

Deanna frowned. "Your father doesn’t sound like a very nice man."

Will thought for a minute. "We didn’t see eye to eye on anything. I guess that’s why we haven’t spoken in so long."

"Do you miss him?" She asked in between bites.

Will sighed. "I think I miss my Mother more. I barely knew her… yet I can’t help but feel that there’s so much I missed out on since she died."

Deanna nodded. "I understand. My Mother and I are so different, yet Daddy and me spent every waking moment possible together. It was horrible when he died." She finished quietly.

"It seems as though Elyssia is close to Charles."

Deanna smiled. "Uncle Charles was the little bit of glue that held our family together after the accident. Without him, I don’t know what would have happened."

Will smiled at her wistfully. "It’s nice to have him in your life."

Deanna smiled. "And the fact that he looks EXACTLY like Daddy, and their personalities were so similar; it’s almost like I still have a piece of him here on Earth. Almost…"

Will felt as if their jovial mood was beginning to crumble. He picked her hand up off the table and kissed her palm gently, slowly moving down to her wrist.

Deanna felt her body shiver involuntarily. She looked into his eyes.

"If you keep that up Will, we’ll never finish this delicious meal."

Will smiled. "Well, I’ll behave myself then. We’re going to need all the nourishment we can get."

Deanna shook her head slowly. "Promises promises." She joked.

To be continued in chapter 53

"Then and Again"

Chapter 53

The remainder of the meal was spent pretty much in silence.

Deanna sat back after cleaning her plate. "Wow! Will, that was wonderful."

Will smiled again. "Thanks. Do you want dessert?"

Deanna smiled and blew air out of her mouth. "Maybe later."

Will stood and began clearing the table. "I’ll get the dishes into the recycler."

Deanna smiled. "Thanks. I’ll catch up to you soon."

Will made quick work of cleaning the kitchen. Putting the left over food away, he set the dirty dishes on the large counter in the middle of the room.

Will caught the slight fragrance of coconut coming from behind him. Turning, the glass he was holding in his hand slipped on to the floor and shattered.

Deanna stood in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room, wearing a VERY revealing negligee and matching high heels.

It was only long enough to barely touch her thighs, made of burgundy colored lace. The spaghetti straps were barely holding the thin strips of material on her body, the front dipping down all the way to her navel.

Will stood dumbfounded. Deanna shifted slightly so that she was leaning against the doorframe, her arm stretched up above her head.

In the sunlight, Will could see that Deanna’s skin was glistening with a light sheen of oil.

Will smiled. "So was that what your ablutions were about?"

Deanna tilted her head to the side a bit. "Maybe…" she answered with a smile.

"It looks like you made a mess Imzadi." She purred at him.

Will smiled, not taking his eyes from her. "Yeah well, I got distracted."

"Oh Will, did I get a rise out of you?" She asked, her eyes trailing from his face down his body, settling on his ‘nether region’.

Deanna walked seductively forward. "You’ve worked hard Will, let me help you."

Will felt desire coursing through his body. Watching Deanna walk towards him almost made him drop to his knees and beg her to stop.

Or to start. At this point… he didn’t care which.

The smell of coconut overwhelmed his senses even more as she got closer to him.

She stood in front of him with her back turned toward him, instead of stooping down; she bent at the waist to pick up the glass. She leaned back, rubbing her rear against his pelvis.

All the air rushed from the room and Will swallowed painfully. ‘If you want to play Imzadi, we’ll play.’ He promised her.

To be continued in chapter 54

"Then and Again"

Chapter 54

Will grabbed Deanna by the waist and spun her to him. Her arms immediately locked around his neck as their lips crushed into one another.

They kissed deeply, hungrily, as if their lives depended on their never letting go. It was an all consuming kiss that further ignited the passionate fire that burned through their souls.

Breaking only long enough to breathe, Will’s lips trailed to her neck, and then down her shoulders, causing the straps of her negligee to slide down her arms a bit.

Deanna’s head fell back in ecstasy. Will was so wonderful with his mouth that she could just stand and let him take her that way.

‘No, no way. At least not yet.’ She thought slyly.

Her hands traveled down from his head to his muscular shoulders. She squeezed them hard, and then moved her hands to the front of his shirt.

Grabbing the bottom of it, she yanked hard freeing it from his pants.

She began pulling it over his head, causing him to straighten for a moment to allow the shirt over his arms.

Deanna stood on her tiptoes and raised the shirt as high as she could, moaning in frustration when she couldn’t reach any higher.

Will smiled and finished removing his shirt himself. Leaning down to Deanna’s mouth again, he felt her hands working on the button of his pants.

It popped quickly, allowing her hands free access to him. Allowing his pants to drop, she reached her hands into his boxers and began to stroke him.

Will moaned, dropping his head back. Trying to regain his senses, he reached out to her and slid the straps of her negligee the rest of the way down her arms, causing it to fall in a puddle at her feet.

Deanna’s hands roamed back up his rock hard stomach, and down his arms. She reveled in his musculature.

"You feel so strong Will." She whispered before attacking his chest with her mouth.

Will’s hands traced a similar pattern over her body, cupping her breasts, rubbing them in just the right way to make her gasp.

"oh my-" she moaned.

Will brought his hands from her breasts up under her arms. Using his strength, he lifted her up from the floor and held her face to face with him.

Deanna immediately locked her legs around his waist, rubbing her moistened sex against his bulging boxer shorts.

They feasted on one another again. Will began loosing his grip on her oil-slicked skin, causing her to lock her legs tighter as she wrapped her arms around his head.

"I’m… not going… Oh Gods!" She moaned.

Will walked them closer to the counter top. Releasing his hold on Deanna, he used his free arm to sweep everything off the counter on to the floor.

Dishes crashed and shattered as they landed.

Neither Will or Deanna noticed as their energies and senses were focused solely on the other.

He laid her on top of the counter, while she used her arm and leg lock to pull him down on her.

Kicking her shoes off, she brought one leg up and hooked her toe in the waistband of his boxers, giving them a tug.

Will immediately sprang from them as her hands reached out to take a firm hold on him.

She began teasing, stroking and rubbing, causing Will’s whole body to tense against her.

"Deanna! Pleassse-" He begged.

She shushed him. "Let it happen Will.. just let it happen." She whispered into his ear.

Using all of her senses, she brought him as close to the brink as she could and let go, keeping him just on the edge without letting him go alone.

They lay perfectly still, both attempting to catch their breath. Finally, Will’s desire laden eyes locked on to hers.

He readjusted their still locked bodies more comfortable on the counter. Bringing a hand up, he wiped a tendril of hair from her eyes.

"I love you." He whispered into her ear, straight through to her soul causing her heart to sing out to him.

She smiled. "I know. Show me Will… show me how much."

They kissed again, this time more slowly, savoring the feel of each other.

Trailing his hand down her body, he dipped two fingers into her, testing for her readiness.

‘Oh, Gods, I’m ready Will’ she begged him telepathically.

Will raised himself up a bit and slid easily inside of her.

Their bodies lay perfectly still for several moments, as everything about them became one - their bodies, minds, souls, the very essence of who they are, with eyes locked in a world only they could enjoy.

Craving more, she wiggled under him, beginning the final movements that were as timeless as time itself.

He slid almost all the way out of her, and then thrust hard back in. She in return clenched her muscles together, causing his breath to catch.

She released him and their rhythm began again. Finally, the world around them began to fade away, only to be replaced by bursts of light and stars as oblivion over took them at the same time.

They stayed locked together for a few minutes after, not quite ready to break the intimate contact while waiting for their minds to catch up to their bodies.

Will finally pulled from her and laid on his side facing her.

Deanna, her face still flushed and glistening with a combination of sweat and oil, looked absolutely radiant to Will.

Turning her head to him, she said breathlessly, "Ready for dessert?"

To be continued in chapter 55

"Then and Again"

Chapter 55

A few hours later, Will threw his head back in exhaustion.

He somehow managed to pull himself up on the pillows that were leaning against the headboard of the bed.

He lay for several moments; the only sounds in the room were of he and Deanna trying to catch their breath.

Once somewhat recovered, he looked down at Deanna. She was lying on her back, her eyes closed as her breathing slowed.

‘You look absolutely stunning Imzadi.’ he thought cast to her.

She opened her eyes and laughed. ‘Oh, I can imagine.’

She sat up and tucked herself into the crook of his arm.

Deanna looked up at him, her eyebrows furrowed. ‘What is it Will?’

Will shook his head. "Nothing, nothing at all." He said aloud.

Deanna rose up. "No, Will don’t do that. The thought is there, don’t push it away."

Will put his hand on her cheek, affectionately cupping it. After a moment, took her hand and pulled her into his lap.

She sat, facing him, her legs straddling him. And, although the previous hours of the evening had been sexual, this gesture wasn’t.

They sat like this, staring at each other, their nude bodies joined once again. She patiently waited for him to gather this thoughts together…to sum up what he was trying to say.

Finally, "Is it always like this?" He asked.

"What?" She asked, confused.

Will’s face blushed a little, which considering the position they were in, was almost laughable.

She mentally sent support to Will, hoping it would help him to get his thoughts in order.

Resolutely, he said. "Sex."

Deanna laughed. Leaning down, she kissed him passionately.

"What about it Will? Tell me what you’re feeling."

Will thought again for a moment, then sighed in frustration.

"I’ve- I’ve had sex with other women before, and it’s NEVER been like this."

Deanna raised her eyebrows a bit. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" She teased.

Will’s azure eyes locked with hers. "It’s one of the best things ever to happen to me. I have never felt so connected to anyone in my entire life. It is more than just the intimacy of the physical contact, I feel that I am home in a way I never knew before. My soul, my entire being, feels safe and free at the same time. It is all because of *you*. I feel complete in a way I didn't know was even possible. You really are my other half." He finished quietly, somewhat in awe of all that he was feeling.

The passion in his declaration brought tears to Deanna’s eyes. She took Will’s hand, and placed it between her breasts, over her heart.

"Do you feel that?" She asked.

He nodded. Taking his other hand, she placed it over his own heart.

Will sat still, feeling the beats of their two hearts. After a while, his eyes widened. "Oh my God!" He said.

Deanna smiled. "They’re beating together."

"Is that part of Imzadi too?" He asked.

Deanna nodded. "Everything about us Will, our thoughts, our souls, our bodies… everything is joined now. Why or how that is no one knows, it’s just something that happens."

"I think we are very lucky to have found it. And each other." Will whispered to her.

She smiled. "And to answer your question earlier, yes, the sex is different. Part of that comes from the bond. Part comes from my Betazoid heritage I guess."

"Your heritage?" He asked intrigued.

"You’ve never been with a Betazoid before, have you Will?" She asked.

He shook his head. Deanna grinned slyly, leaned down to his ear and whispered her little secret.

"Betazoid women have a more advanced sex drive than other humanoid species."

Will’s eyebrows shot up in the air. "Exactly how much more?"

She giggled. "At least three times more of any other humanoid female. Scientists think it comes from the para-cortex, the extra lobe in our brain that gives us our telepathic abilities, but they’re not sure of that either."

Will grinned. "So, I guess I have my hands full, huh?"

She smiled and kissed him seductively. "You can have your hands full of whatever you want Will. But… wait thirty or forty years from now when I go into phase."

"Phase?" He asked, definitely wanting to know more.

"A Betazoid female goes through it in midlife. When it happens… our sex drive-" she paused dramatically.

"Quadruples." She finished with a twinkle in her eye.

Will’s head shot off the pillows. "Quadruples! I guess I better start taking my vitamins now."

They both laughed. Will noticed Deanna’s thoughts start to drift for a minute. He took her cheek in his hand again.

"There’s one thing I am sure of Deanna. We will be together when it happens."

She smiled. Leaning herself over his head, she reached to the shelf above the headboard.

Will noticed that her bare breasts were right in his face. "You’re doing this on purpose." He admonished.

She sat back again, laughing. "No, I wanted some chocolate." Will realized that she had the bowl of melted ice cream in her hands, which they had been playing with before.

After regaining their senses in the kitchen, they walked gingerly through the broken glass and into the bedroom. After another session of love making, Deanna went to get dessert, a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

No sooner had she climbed back into bed with the heaping bowl of chocolate had all hell broken loose.

Will looked down at their two naked forms, still smeared in chocolate. The bed sheets were covered in chocolate as well.

Mixing the chocolate together with the coconut oil they played with earlier and something else, the bed was in complete shambles.

Will stared at the other substance smeared all over the both of them, not remembering right away what it was.

Deanna looked at him and smiled. Bending to his chest, she sucked a bit of it off his skin.

And then the memory hit him. "Peanut butter." They said in unison, laughing.

"Well, we certainly have one important task ahead of us." Will said.

"What’s that?" She asked.

"Clean up, both in here and in the kitchen." They smiled again.

She scooted off his lap and back on to the bed. "Well, first things first. WE need to clean up."

Taking his hands, she led him to the bathtub on the side of the room.

To be continued in chapter 56

"Then and Again"

Chapter 56

Deanna let the warm water run through her fingers before she closed the drain of the tub.

After pouring bath foam under the spigot, she turned to Will still standing beside her.

"Go ahead and get in, I’ll be right back." Smiling, she walked to the other side of the bathroom.

Will stepped into the warm water. As he sat down, his muscles began to protest, causing him to grin boyishly.

Coming back over to the tub with a bath sponge and towels, Deanna looked at him strangely.

"What’s so funny?" She asked.

He opened his eyes and looked at her. "My body is just a little tired and sore."

He held his hands out to her.

Taking them, she stepped into the water. "Aww, well I didn’t mean to wear you out Imzadi." She quipped, not sounding the least bit apologetic.

She turned her back towards him, leaning comfortably back against his chest.

They moved their legs so that they were entwined together, allowing the calming affects of the warm water to soothe them.

Will reached for the bath sponge. Wetting it, he began to gently move it across Deanna’s skin, washing away all the sticky things they had played with earlier in the evening.

She leaned back into him even farther, allowing the ministrations of his hands to lull her into mind numbing relaxation.

Will wrapped his arms around her, enveloping her in as closely as he could.

His mind was suddenly awhirl with new sensations. Startled, not knowing what was happening, he jumped a bit.

‘No, no Imzadi. Let it happen… just let it happen.’

Feeling the calming affect of Deanna’s words, he settled again. Concentrating harder, he opened his mind to the overwhelming sensations.

That was when he realized that those sensations were of Deanna. The very essence of everything she was came into his soul, causing his spirit to sing with glee.

He couldn’t move his body if he wanted to. He felt as if he wasn’t breathing. She was just there, everything in his universe was made of her, permeating every pore throughout his body.

Her soul grabbed onto his and they danced a waltz across his mind. Whatever she was doing to him was the most amazing, the most intimately erotic thing he had ever felt.

But, frustration began to creep into his soul. ‘It’s not fair Deanna.’ He said to her.

‘Why?’ She asked.

‘I don’t… I can’t-‘ He sighed helplessly.

‘You can Will. Concentrate, it will come to you.’

Keeping his eyes closed, he concentrated on her essence again. It washed over him like a tidal wave.

Thinking about what was happening, Will realized the answer clearly.

The bond was responsible for all of this. Focusing solely on that, he felt a flood of warmth and emotion stream from his mind and into hers.

The electric was almost tangible. It inundated her all at once, causing her to gasp and then open her mind wide to him.

They laid that way, sharing every last bit of themselves that they could. Tears streamed down both of their faces, but they didn’t care. It didn’t matter to them. What was happening in the physical world was inconsequential to the world they were in now.

A chill caused Deanna to bring her mind back into focus. Opening her eyes, she realized that all the bubbles in the tub were flat, and the water was cold.

Leaning back into Will, she kissed him lightly on the lips. He opened his eyes looking deeply into hers marveling at never feeling more alive nor at peace than at this moment.

It was like time stopped so that they could savor this experience to which there was nothing either could compare. Everything they had ever been through led up to this momentous occasion where they could share themselves completely with another.

‘The water is cold Imzadi.’

Will was speechless. Any verbal thought that came out of his mouth would seem so pointless.

Finally, realizing what she said, he turned the hot water spigot on and let the water warm a bit.

They finished bathing each other quickly. A chime on the old anniversary clock on the mantle across the room caused them both to look at it.

Realizing that it was 11:30PM, they hurried out of the tub and wrapped themselves in the large towels Deanna had laid out earlier.

They began walking out on to the patio where they had eaten dinner so many hours earlier.

Bringing a quilt from the living room, Will slung it over his shoulders and wrapped his arms around Deanna, enveloping her in warmth.

Finally, in the city off in the distance, fireworks began to shoot into the sky, turning it dozens of brilliant colors.

Deanna turned to Will and kissed him passionately. ‘Happy New Year Imzadi’ she said.

Wrapping their arms around each other again, they watched as the world celebrated the birth of the year 2362.

To be continued in chapter 57

"Then and Again"

Chapter 57

January 10, 2362
Betazed Capital City

Will was almost reluctant to step off the transport that delivered he and Deanna back to Betazed.

They had just spent the most amazing holiday of his life, and he was saddened to see it end.

But, there were seven days left to finish preparing for the lunar alignment. It was time to stop playing, and start working.

Will glanced down at Deanna. She was looking up at him with a smile on her face.

"Well, let’s go check in at the Embassy. I wouldn’t want the Admiral to send out a search party for us." Will said.

Deanna laughed. "Will, really, Admiral Sorsha isn’t that bad."

Will looked at her with an eyebrow raised. "Good, then you can be my liaison officer from now on. She seems to like you, but the rest of us might as well forget it."

Deanna laughed again. Shaking her head, she took his hand and began the short walk to the Embassy.

After speaking with the receptionist in the lobby and hearing, much to Will’s chagrin, that the Admiral was still in her office, he decided it would be best to speak to her directly.

Will rang the chime and waited. The door suddenly slid forward. Will entered and Deanna hung behind, content just to watch the exchange.

The Admiral turned her chair to face him.

"Riker, William T. reporting back for duty sir." He announced.

Admiral Sorsha glowered at him. "I said the tenth Lieutenant. You’re cutting it awfully close aren’t you? It is 2358 hours."

Deanna, still standing outside the open door, rolled her eyes. She strolled in.

Much to Will’s amazement, Sorsha’s expression transformed completely. Admiral Sorsha actually smiled.

"I’m reporting back in for duty as well Natalia." Deanna said to her.

Admiral Sorsha waved her hand. "You, I wasn’t worried about Deanna. Besides, you are now on educational leave, so don’t even worry about keeping me informed of your whereabouts."

Deanna smiled. "My classes start in a week. But, if you need me for any reason during the alignment don’t hesitate to contact me."

Sorsha waved her hand again. "None of the scientists seem to be worried, so I’m not either. We’ll of course be prepared but…"

"Well, that’s definitely good news." Deanna said.

Sorsha nodded. "Deanna, I spoke to your Mother a few days ago. She was sent out of town for the next six weeks with representatives from the Third, Fourth and Sixth Houses to Rigel III. Since your Mother is such an… influential… individual, she requested additional help to mind your home while she’s gone."

Deanna looked at her strangely. "I’m not going anywhere. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my home."

Sorsha shook her head. "Now, with the moons acting crazy, Lwaxana and I thought it best to give you a hand. So, Lieutenant Riker-"

Will jumped at the mere mention of his name.

"Lieutenant, you will be assigned to the Troi family home." Sorsha continued. "We took the liberty of having your belongings moved there, temporarily of course."

Deanna and Will looked at one another stunned. They turned and began walking out of the office.

"Oh, by the way, Deanna?" The Admiral called.

Deanna turned back to her.

"I hope you had a pleasant trip." The Admiral said with a smile.

Will grabbed Deanna’s hand and got the hell out of there fast.

To be continued in chapter 58

"Then and Again"

Chapter 58

Will and Deanna searched around the house trying to find his belongings.

Finally, Deanna discovered them in her bedroom. Calling out to Will telepathically, she said, ‘Boy, Mother is very subtle.’

Will walked up to her third floor bedroom and busted out laughing.

All of his belongings were in Deanna’s room, already unpacked and put away.

Looking in her closet, he discovered that it had now been divided in two. His uniforms filled one side, some of Deanna’s outfits the other.

"Well, I guess this means I’ll be staying here for a while." Looking to Deanna, he waggled his eyebrows.

She smiled. "Oh yes, Gods forbid that little ole defenseless me would be left here all alone. I mean, I’m only a meager twenty six years old, oh me oh my."

Will laughed. "You know, we have an old custom on Earth when we move into a new home?"

Deanna looked innocently at him. She could sense exactly where this was leading, but decided to play along.

"And what is that?"

Will smiled. He grabbed her and pulled her roughly to him. In between sucking on her ear, he whispered, "Christening the house."

They were quickly lost in one another. And, the house was definitely christened that night.

The following morning, Will sat in the dining room staring at Deanna in amazement.

She was replicating breakfast for the two of them. But, seeing her wearing nothing but one of his shirts and a smile, bathed by the golden sunlight streaming through the window, made Will realized exactly how lucky he was.

After eating breakfast, Deanna went to check her messages as Will began getting ready for his day.

There was a written message from Elyssia, asking Deanna to get in contact with her when she had a chance.

Will smiled. "Well, at least she’ll keep you busy while I’m gone."

Deanna smiled at him. "You know, I actually missed them. This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing the babies."

Will fingered an errant strand of hair. "Well, then you should go see them as soon as possible."

Deanna ran upstairs to change. She decided to walk with Will to the Embassy.

He could report for duty and she could go across the street to see the Petersons.

After kissing Will goodbye, Deanna walked over to Elyssia’s office. She walked in and found her with her head lying down on her desk.

"Looks like you’ve been doing too much partying." Deanna said laughing.

Elyssia lifted her head up. She looked terrible. Her eyes had shadows around them, the rest of her face pale.

"Oh my, ‘Lyss, what’s wrong?" Deanna asked, rushing around the desk to her.

Elyssia smiled. "Oh, I see. No hello, no telling me how much ‘fun’ you had at Angel Falls… you immediately point out how crappy I look."

Deanna glared at her admonishingly. "Elyssia…" She warned.

"Oh alright, alright. It looks like we all better get ready…" Elyssia said.

Deanna bent down to her. "Why?"

Elyssia smiled. "Because, I’m pregnant again!"

Deanna shrieked with joy and grabbed her cousin in a huge hug. They laughed together and immediately made plans to go baby shopping as soon as possible.

High up above the planet, the second moon of Betazed, known as Kwikuee, began its seventy degree tilt, moving towards it’s fated rendezvous with destiny.

To be continued in chapter 59

"Then and Again"

Chapter 59

January 16, 2362

Will and Dennis walked down the street chuckling.

"So, here I am, with two wet naked babies running through the house, Elyssia is in the bathroom sick as I don’t know what, and Admiral Sorsha standing in my living room looking totally disgusted at all of it." Dennis finished.

Will laughed even louder. Finally, seeing that they’d reached their destination, he hesitated a little.

Dennis noticed. "Will, are you sure you want to do this?"

Will nodded assuredly. Looking at Dennis, he grinned. "I’m positive."

Dennis clapped him on the shoulder, and together, they walked into the jewelry store.

Hours later, Dennis and Elyssia sat at the dinner table.

She was finally able to keep a little food down. The girls had fallen asleep earlier, so for once, it was just the two of them for an intimate romantic candlelight dinner.

After finishing their meal, Dennis pulled a small, blue velvet box from his pocket.

Sliding it across the table, he placed his chin in his hands and stared at his wife adoringly.

Elyssia looked at him in surprise. "What’s this for?" She asked with a hint of excitement.

Dennis smiled back. "Just because I love you. Things could get really crazy tomorrow depending on how the lunar alignment goes, so I just wanted to make sure you know that I love you will all my heart."

Elyssia had tears coming down her face. Smiling at her husband, she opened the box to reveal a birthstone ring with a topaz stone, surrounded by small diamonds.

"Oh Dennis, this is beautiful! But, maybe blue would have been more appropriate…"

"Blue, why blue?" And then he noticed her hand resting on her not yet growing belly. "Did you say blue?" He repeated slowly, realization dawning on him.

She beamed. "We’ve got ourselves a son!"

He jumped up and scooped her up, twirling her in his arms, but trying to be quiet enough not to wake the girls.

They stayed like that for a few moments, just enjoying the closeness of each other. "Hey, you want to hear some other news?" He asked.


"You have to keep this quiet, no telling Deanna!" He warned.


"Will went with me to the jewelry shop. He bought an engagement ring for Deanna."

Elyssia gasped. "Oh my God, are you serious?!"

Dennis nodded. "He’s going to propose as soon as the lunar alignment is over."

Elyssia smiled and laughed. Hugging her husband again, she thought of how wonderful life was, pushing the nagging feeling to the back of her mind.

To be continued in chapter 60

"Then and Again"

Chapter 60

January 17, 2362
United Federation of Planets Embassy

Deanna paced back and forth in the temporary command center that had been set up in the Embassy.

The day had started extremely early for she and Will. They both reported to the Embassy at 0300 hours. Over twelve hours later, the day wasn’t even halfway through.

So far, things were going a lot better than had first been anticipated. The planet and it’s three moons were in complete alignment at the moment, and the only effect on the planet so far had been some minor coastal flooding.

Ships passing through Betazed’s system had earlier reported odd gravitational eddies, so Starfleet had issued a ‘Stay Out Of The Area’ warning just to be on the safe side.

Deanna cleared her mind a bit, searching for Will. His team had been dispatched at 0900 to begin coastal evacuations.

She found him easily. He was concentrating hard on his task, but seemed relaxed. Things were going very well.

She wandered out of the embassy and across the street to the infirmary. Elyssia and Dennis had been there since 0300 as well, along with ten other Starfleet doctors.

The infirmary was quiet. Walking to Elyssia’s office, she found her asleep on the sofa.

Deanna sat in one of the chairs, deciding to relax here instead of at the embassy.

Elyssia stirred a bit, opening her eyes she looked at her cousin.

"Hey-" she said groggily trying to shake off the feelings from the dream she had been in the midst of but couldn't quite remember.

"Hey yourself." Deanna answered uncertainly, sensing her disorientation.

Elyssia looked at the chronometer on the wall. "I guess the planet isn’t falling apart yet, huh?"

Deanna snickered. "No, actually, the planet is doing just fine. Some coastal flooding, no big deal."

Elyssia nodded. "I bet all of those scientists set up across the street are having a field day."

Deanna rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "It was so exciting." She exaggerated.

Elyssia laughed in between yawns.

"My Gods, go back to sleep! At this point, the scientists across the street are more stimulating conversationalists."

Elyssia shook her head. "I was the same way when I was pregnant with the twins, remember? It’s horrible. All I want to do is sleep."

Deanna smiled. Elyssia arched her eyebrow before adding, "I wonder if you’ll be the same way when you’re pregnant." "Pregnant? I don’t think Will and I are anywhere near that point yet."

Elyssia gave her a knowing look. Standing, she moved towards Deanna.

"I have a feeling that after the next few days, things will never be the same."

Deanna looked at her strangely. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Elyssia shrugged nonchalantly. "You’ll know when it happens."

Hugging her cousin, she shooed her back out of her office before she could ask any more questions.

To be continued in chapter 61

"Then and Again"

Chapter 61

Deanna, contemplating her rather odd discussion with Elyssia, walked back into the command center just as a Federation geologist jumped up from his seat, snapping her out of her reverie.

"Admiral, sensors are detecting a ground quake in the Scospian Sea!"

People began moving frantically around the room, checking numbers and recording data.

Admiral Sorsha moved to the geologists’ side. "Is it anywhere near land?"

"No, ma’am. Sensors are detecting water displacement though. A tidal wave measuring 18.3 meters is moving slowly from the point of the quake. There are no indications it will reach land at this time."

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and went back to scrutinizing the data collected so far. Deanna moved to one of the empty stations and sat down.

Watching the monitor in front of her, she saw that the planet had already begun to move out of alignment with the three moons.

Suddenly, Betazed’s second moon, Kwikuee, began to quake. Deanna spun around to see geologists running from terminal-to-terminal, shouting and babbling data to one another.

Admiral Sorsha spun on her heel. Looking to the senior geologist, she shouted. "Report!"

The geologist simply shook his head. "I don’t understand Admiral. Everything was going just as expected, no computer simulations predicted this."

Sorsha walked up behind Deanna, watching on the monitor as Kwikuee finally stilled.

One of the geologists turned to the Admiral. "That quake measured 8.2 on the Richter Scale. If something like that had happened here on the planet-" his voice trailed off.

"Well, let’s thank Betazed’s Gods that Kwikuee is uninhabited." Sorsha said.

Deanna continued to watch as Kwikuee began shaking again. Suddenly, the planet shifted approximately twenty degrees.

The geologists began yelling again. Deanna watched in horror as part of Kwikuee literally broke off, breaking into thousands of pieces and sailing towards the closest moon to the planet, Ampad.

Sorsha turned to her aid. "Get all available personnel back here immediately!"

Deanna, dumbstruck at the scene unfolding before her, closed her eyes and prayed to whomever would listen that Betazed wouldn't fall prey to the same mystical force she had just witnessed on Kwikuee.

To be continued in chapter 62

"Then and Again"

Chapter 62

Another twelve hours had passed since the unexplainable events had devastated Kwikuee.

Luckily, most of the remnants of Kwikuee that had crashed down on to Ampad had done minimal damage. No deaths had been reported.

Deanna was exhausted. She had been at the embassy for over 24 hours. A small bit of comfort, at least Will was with her now.

He had been called back to the embassy at 1800 hours, and was in a ‘wait and see’ pattern along with the rest of the Starfleet teams.

Deanna was appreciative that he had been able to return. If something happened on Betazed anywhere near like what happened on Kwikuee, she would rather they be together.

Since the partial destruction of Kwikuee everything had been quiet. The alignment had been over for hours and the gravitational eddies had begun to dissipate.

Even the coastal flooding had receded, allowing the residents back into their homes.

After speaking with the geologists and scientific advisors, Admiral Sorsha announced the danger was over and the state of emergency was lifted.

Will and Deanna sighed in relief. Leaving the embassy, they saw Dennis and Elyssia heading for home as well.

They all waved to each other. Elyssia turned to them and yelled, "Now that the world hasn’t ended, let’s have lunch tomorrow!"

Will and Deanna agreed by nodding their heads. With one more wave, they watched Elyssia and Dennis walk into the darkness.

Deanna looked up at the sky. She saw the three moons sitting exactly where they usually do.

She frowned at the odd sight Kwikuee was, perched in the sky, looking like someone had taken a huge chunk out of the side of it.

Will squeezed her hand. "It could have been a lot worse, you know." Deanna nodded.

"Yeah, we were lucky. At least it wasn’t the planet or Ampad that broke apart. I can’t imagine the devastation or loss of life that could’ve occurred."

They walked into the Troi family home. Changing quickly into their nightclothes, they crawled into bed.

Within minutes of their heads hitting the pillows, they slid into an exhausted slumber, comforted by the other’s arms wrapped around them.

To be continued in chapter 63

"Then and Again"

Chapter 63

Jolted out of his sleep, Will awoke with a start, feeling as if someone had shaken him.

He could tell that Deanna was still asleep, curled on her side and huddled against his back.

Glancing to the window, he saw the first little rays of sunlight starting to break the night.

Unsure he felt anything at all, he settled back down into his pillows, sleep quickly overtaking him again.

And that was when it started.

It originally felt as if a huge hand had reached down, scooped up the house and shook it like a toy.

Deanna jumped awake immediately, looking around the room frantically.

Will, reacting on instinct, grabbed her hand pulling her out of bed. "Get in the door frame!" He screamed.

"What’s happening?!" She yelled.

"It’s an earthquake! Just stay here in the door way!"

They could hear the house creaking and groaning while standing terrified in the doorway. The sounds of things falling and glass shattering filled their ears along with the rumble of the quake.

Trying to steady herself, Deanna stumbled into Will, who wrapped his arms around her to shield her in case something happened to fall their way.

Another loud groan from the house caused Will to look up. ‘Please baby, hold together’ he thought.

Unexpectedly, Deanna jumped below him. Pulling out of his arms, her eyes filled with terror.

And, just as quickly as it had started, it stopped.

Will reached to Deanna. "Are you okay?" He asked.

She stood frozen even though he could see she was trembling all over. She began shaking her head back and forth, muttering repeatedly.

"No no no no no no no no"


Suddenly, she screamed. "No!!!!!!!" She turned and began running down the steps.

"Deanna no! It’s too dangerous!" Will yelled, trying to catch up with her.

Stumbling and jumping over various items that were lying on the floor, Deanna continued crying and yelling incoherently.

Will watched horrified as Deanna ran barefoot over broken glass, leaving a trail of blood in her path. He had almost caught up to her when she had reached the front door.

However, he couldn't catch her in time as she threw the door open and fled into the brightening night.

As he reached the door, the scene that emerged before him caused Will to be rendered immobile.

Almost the entire city looked as if it was in ruins. The sky was lit orange with fire at various points; Will could hear the distant sounds of sirens and screams of people in need.

Snapped back to attention, he saw Deanna already outside of the front gate, running down the street.

Sprinting as fast as he could, regardless of his own safety, he ran after her.

To be continued in chapter 64

"Then and Again"

Chapter 64

They took off as fast as their feet could carry them down the devastated streets of the Capital with Will trailing Deanna. To look at them, one might wonder if they were in a race to some unknown destination.

Fires were raging all around; some homes stood lopsided, others were partially destroyed, while yet some looked untouched.

People were wandering aimlessly out of their homes, or what used to be their homes, fear and confusion etched on their faces.

Will knew full well that a lot of people in their homes were injured, but he couldn’t stop to help. His focus was single-minded.

He had to catch Deanna. He could see her running ahead of him, seemingly oblivious to the havoc around her.

Will tried to figure out where they were rushing to, but nothing looked familiar anymore. Homes, which had stood pristine and proud just hours before, were now reduced to piles of rubble.

Finally, with dawn breaking, he could see where Deanna was headed.

Dennis and Elyssia’s home sat a block away. Deanna must be trying to assure herself that the two of them, the babies and Charles were okay.

Rounding the corner, he saw Deanna standing in the middle of the street, staring agape at their house.

When Will got closer, his heart leapt into his throat.

What was once the home of two brilliant Starfleet doctors and their twin baby girls was now nothing more than a pile of wood and mortar.

The home, which had originally been two stories, looked as if it had collapsed into the basement under the force of the quake.

He ran up to Deanna, immediately understanding why she had taken off like a woman possessed. He pulled her into his arms offering what little comfort he could under the circumstances.

"My God Deanna, I’m sorry… I’m so sorry." Will himself was overcome with grief as he was flooded with a barrage of memories of his friends. They cascaded over him from their time at the Academy to the wonderful holiday they had all just spent together. He could see the two little baby girls toddling around in the snow, they’re crooked little baby smiles lighting up their faces.

Her head was buried in his chest as her body shook harder than the ground had beneath them earlier. Suddenly, she pulled her tear stained face away from him.

"No no! It can’t-" She turned and ran towards what was left of the house.

She began pulling at the wood, throwing it aside as she dug into the rubble.

"Deanna! You’re going to hurt yourself!" Shrieked Will. He went after her, grabbing her arms to keep her from further injury.

"But Will- the babies!" She screamed hysterically.

Will thought that perhaps she could sense someone still alive in the ruin. He quickly surveyed his surroundings, realizing that if the house was still there, they would be standing in the twin’s room.

Reacting purely on instinct, he bent and began to dig himself. Deanna worked like a crazed woman. Finally, she pulled something up out of the rubble.

Will stopped and looked at her, recognizing immediately what she had.

It was the small stuffed kitten that Deanna had given Katie for Christmas. Katie had insisted on carrying the little toy with her everywhere, even into the bathtub.

Deanna stood wide-eyed, staring at the toy in her hand. Turning it over slowly, she saw that it was streaked with blood.

She immediately began backing away from the rubble, reality sinking in.

Will reached forward and grabbed her, dragging her away. They collapsed together on the street, mourning all that they had lost in just a few seconds.

To be continued in chapter 65


"Then and Again"

Chapter 65

They sat in the street for what seemed like hours before help had arrived.

Will had tried contacting the Embassy, but received absolutely no response. Either communications were completely down, or the Embassy was no longer standing.

After what felt like an eternity, rescue teams showed up from Betazed's peacekeeper force and began working their way towards their direction.

A young man covered in dust and dirt ran over to the two of them. "Are the two of you okay?"

Will looked to Deanna, who had not said a word since finding the little stuffed kitten, was oblivious to the inquiry.

She still sat in the same position she had fallen into. She held the kitten tightly to her chest, rocking back and forth while staring at the rubble.

The man immediately saw the blood that was covering her feet and hands. He waved a med unit over and turned to Will.

"Is this your home Sir?" He asked.

Will shook his head. "There were five people in there. Three adults and two infants."

The young man looked sadly at the rubble and back to him. "We'll do what we can Sir."

Even with the grim task ahead, he and his team immediately sprung into action. Using the equipment they had, they began to dig through the rubble, searching for some sign of life.

But, deep down, Will knew better. There was no way anyone could have survived. And, by looking at Deanna, he wondered how they would survive as well.

The medic began working on Deanna's cuts. She, in turn, didn't even realize the young doctor was there.

He attempted to remove the toy from her hand, but Deanna immediately closed her hand tighter and pulled it back towards her.

Taking Deanna's face in his hands, Will realized the doctor was trying to reach her telepathically.

"You need to get her out of here Sir, she's needs rest." The doctor told him.

Will nodded but didn't move. The numbness that ran through his body wouldn't let him.

As he heard some of the people digging through the rubble begin to yell and wave to the others, he turned to Deanna; "There's nothing more we can do here."

Will tried reaching her with his mind, but with his thoughts scattered due to his own grief, he was unable to connect with her.

"This will help her rest." The doctor informed Will as he handed him a hypo spray after finishing up.

Will nodded, taking it from him. Looking back at the rescue scene ahead of him, the tears that had been held at bay, finally burst forth as the rescue workers moved carefully down the pile of rubble.

The rescue team was walking down, their faces illustrating the devastation, despair and pain of the situation. Their eyes were devoid of anything other than the distress of the scene around them.

Between the first nine people, he saw that they were carrying three adult size body bags.

Will caught a glimpse of two rescue workers who walked behind them. He turned and grabbed Deanna's face, shielding her so she couldn't see the two crying men carrying the body bags containing the small bodies of the babies.

Pulling Deanna to her feet, he began leading them back to her home.

To be continued in chapter 66

"Then and Again"

Chapter 66

Walking slowly down the streets Will couldn’t help but feel incredible grief.

Not only had he and Deanna lost a great deal, but looking around the city, he couldn’t even begin to fathom the devastation and loss of life.

Amazingly enough, the Troi home fared well compared to… he couldn’t think it. It was too hard, too painful…too soon.

He led Deanna into the house, realizing that in their rush earlier they had left the front door completely open.

Walking in, Deanna pulled away from him and walked slowly up the stairs. Will followed her up and tried to assist her but she seemed to just be going through the motions and not even noticing his presence.

He did his best to get her settled and comfortable in bed. She lay down silently, curled herself into a ball and closed her eyes.

"Deanna?" He asked despairingly.

She still wouldn't let him in, or let him help her. With a heavy sigh, he walked back down to the first floor.

He was unsure of what to do, only knowing he couldn't just stand there feeling so helpless, he began to pick items up from the floor.

Finding a broom, he swept broken glass up, tossing it into the recycler. Moving into the living room, his eye caught something that caused his heart to break further, if that was possible.

Picking up a photo from the floor, he collapsed on the couch. The photo was new; one Charles had taken on Earth the day after Christmas.

Will and Deanna were sitting on the floor in front of the Christmas tree. Dennis and Elyssia stood behind them, each holding one of the babies.

Beautiful smiles lit all of their faces. Will closed his eyes, trying to hold back the flood of emotion threatening to overwhelm him. He couldn't believe they were really gone. Didn't understand what fate had in mind by taking them away.

He and Deanna were to meet Dennis and Elyssia for lunch later today. Was it just a few hours ago, last night when they had made plans when leaving the Embassy?

So much ahead in their young lives. And the *babies*! They had their whole lives ahead of them not to mention the son they were planning for!

Life is so precious and can be gone in just the flash of a second. He took little consolation in the fact that they had all died together so that they wouldn't have to go on without the other.

His mind wandered back to Deanna.

Will heard movement behind him. Jumping up and spinning around, he was surprised to see Lwaxana standing there with her manservant.

"It’s okay to grieve Lieutenant." She said quietly.

Will looked at her sadly. "I’m so so sorry Mrs. Troi."

Lwaxana nodded. "Thank you Lieutenant. There’s no need to hold back your emotions. This is an extremely sad event William, you need to express that."

Will shook his head. "I’m worried about Deanna."

Lwaxana nodded. "She’s in shock Will, to tell you the truth I’m worried about her as well. Just go to her, she needs you."

Will nodded. He slowly headed towards the stairs.

He walked into Deanna’s room, sitting silently on the side of the bed.

Lwaxana came in behind him, going to the other side of the bed.

Surprising Will, she spoke aloud. "Deanna, come on honey, wake up."

Deanna didn’t move. Will looked to Lwaxana, trepidation written all over his face.

"Little One-." She tried again.

She looked up at Will. Taking his hand, he felt a tingle flood through his mind.

‘Reach out to her Will.’

Will was about to reply that he didn’t know how when Lwaxana interrupted him.

‘Of course you do Will. Don’t let your grief make you forget.’

Doing his best to focus on Deanna, he relaxed his mind and reached out to the one person who was his universe, determined to see her through this… to see them *both* through this.

To be continued in chapter 67


"Then and Again"

Chapter 67

‘Deanna, can you hear me?’


‘Deanna… please?’

Will looked up at Lwaxana. She squeezed his hand in support.

‘Imzadi, please come back to me.’

‘Go away Will.’ Came her strangled reply.

‘No Deanna, I’m not going away, I’m not going anywhere.’

She was silent again.

‘Deanna, I understand how-‘

Deanna opened her eyes and rose off the bed a bit.

"Don't even try to patronize me Will! You have NO idea!" She outraged.

Flabbergasted by her unexpected outburst, Will fell silent as Deanna laid back down putting an arm over her eyes as if to shut him out.

Glancing at Lwaxana, he saw the tears well up in her eyes as she stared at the picture he was holding in his hand.

He put the photo on the bed, grabbing Deanna roughly and hauling her up.

She tried to resist at first but fell limp in her attempt.

Grabbing the photo back up and still holding onto her arm, he shoved the photo in her face.

"Dammit, look at this Deanna!" He yelled trying unsuccessfully to keep his frustration in check.

She turned her face away, tears spilling down her cheeks. "No, let go of me!"

Visibly forcing himself to calm down he said, "I’m not letting you go Deanna, ever. You can push me away all you want, but I’m not letting go. Not again." He finished, whispering.

Deanna spun her furious gaze on him. She attempted to free her arm by using all the force she could muster.

In the scuffle, the photo fell to the floor, the glass frame shattering into pieces.

Deanna froze horrified, staring at the picture on the floor.

Reaching beside her she picked up the little stuffed toy that she had laid in bed with. Bending down, she picked up the picture, carefully removing the broken shards of glass.

Staring at the items in her hands, she looked at her Mother.

‘Oh Mother, how will we get through this?’

Lwaxana also had tears streaming down her face, her grief running just as deeply as Deanna’s.

‘We’re survivors Deanna. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.’

‘But Mother, nothing is clear. I don’t know how I can live without them.’ She said, her anguish clearly evident.

Lwaxana picked up her hand, placing it in Will’s. ‘You already know the answer to that Little One.’

Kissing her daughter on the head, she left the room quietly, leaving Will and Deanna alone.

Deanna stared at the picture a little while longer, as the tears continued to flow.

She squeezed Will’s hand and said, "I feel so empty Imzadi. There’s this huge piece of me that is just suddenly gone."

Will nodded. "I’m so sorry Deanna. But shutting yourself up like this isn’t going to help."

"Nothing is going to help Will."

Will shook his head. "No, you’re wrong. Time heals. It may not seem like it now, but it's the truth all the same. We’ll get through this together, and be stronger for it."

Deanna traced her finger along the smiling faces in the photo. "Back, after my Father died, Uncle Charles told me that I should celebrate his life, not mourn it."

"Those are very wise words. Elyssia and Dennis wouldn’t want you giving up like this Deanna. And look at those little babies. They deserve to be remembered, not for what they could have been, but for what they were."

Overcome with all she had lost, Deanna became hysterical. She buried her face in Will’s chest, the grief swallowing them both.

Lying down wrapped together, drawing what strength they could from the other, they cried until there was nothing left.

Drifting into troubled sleep, they both dreamt of what was, what would never be, and all that was now gone.

To be continued in chapter 68

"Then and Again"

Chapter 68

Several hours later, Lwaxana sensed Will and Deanna coming down the stairs, seemingly less distraught then when she had left them.

They both looked astonishingly around the house. Lwaxana, reading their thoughts, waved her hand.

"Mr. Zeloh didn’t know what else to do, so he finished what William had started."

Deanna flopped down into the nearest chair unsure that her legs would hold her up much longer.

She marveled that the living room was now completely straightened up, no longer visibly carrying the scars of the destruction from a few hours earlier .

"I don’t suppose he could fix everything else that happened?" Deanna asked sadly.

Lwaxana, tears coming to her eyes again, shook her head. "No, I'm afraid not Little One."

They sat in silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. Eventually, Lwaxana added, "I sent an emergency message to Starfleet regarding Dennis and Elyssia. Apparently, the Embassy is incapacitated as well, so Starfleet is sending three ships full of personnel to help. They were able to get back with me concerning Dennis and Elyssia's final wishes."

Deanna sighed heavily. She then whispered, "The Valley of Song."

Lwaxana nodded. "They wanted their ashes spread there. I think it would only be appropriate that we did the same for the.. girls."

Will swallowed hard. "What about Charles?"

Lwaxana picked up the cup of tea she had been nursing. "Well, here on Betazed cremation is customary. When my husband and sister in law died, we had them cremated as they wished, but eventually we traveled to Earth and had a human burial. I'm sure that Charles would have wanted to be buried with his wife as well."

Deanna looked at her Mother. "We should do the same for them. Dennis’ family still lives on Earth too."

Lwaxana nodded in agreement. "As soon as regular communication is restored, I’ll send a message to his parents."

Deanna stood and walked to the cloaked communication monitor above the fireplace.

Turning it on, she huddled against Will on the couch and watched the emergency broadcast.

Several devastating images were flashing across the screen. They learned that the earthquake had measured 9.3 on the Terran Richter Scale. The initial quake had only lasted 52 seconds.

Deanna looked at Will astounded. "Oh my Gods, it didn’t even take a minute." She choked out.

Will pulled her back into his arms, offering whatever support he could muster.

The news broadcast continued. Thousands were believed dead, along with hundreds who were still missing.

Just then, another aftershock rattled the house a little. Deanna jumped, but Will held on tighter.

"It’s just another aftershock." He reassured.

"How many more of these things are we going to have?" Lwaxana asked.

He shook his head. "No one foresaw this happening. All of the scientists, Starfleet and Betazed alike, thought the worst of it happened to the moons. This came totally by surprise."

"Will, we should find out about the Embassy. With all these people missing, they could probably use your help." Deanna muttered to him.

Shaking his head, he said, "No, I’m not leaving you two here alone at a time like this."

"Will, we’re not alone. Zeloh is here. We couldn’t help Dennis and Elyssia, but if there’s a slight chance you can help someone else…" Her voice trailed off.

Taking her face into his hands, he stared into her eyes. "Are you sure?"

She nodded. "Please Will, people need help. Go, go help them. Just be careful and come back to me."

Will consented. Kissing her gently, he turned and exited the house.

To be continued in chapter 69

"Then and Again"

Chapter 69

Will flopped down into a chair that was haphazardly set up in the Emergency Command Center, taking a much-needed break from all the recent chaos.

Glancing at the doorway Will could see the beginning of light starting to break the night.

He sighed. Another day dawning, which meant that it had now been almost three weeks since he’d seen Deanna. He had tried to reach her over this time only to no avail causing him to worry constantly.

He didn’t want to leave her, but she had insisted. And, he thought ironically, she had been right even though he missed her terribly.

Will had been instrumental in saving many people's lives in the first few days following the quake. Then the recovery began and he was one of the officers assigned to head up the operation.

Help was arriving to the Capital City as quickly as possible. Every province on the planet had joined together and sent rescue workers and supplies.

Assistance from off the planet was a problem for the first forty-eight hours, which delayed all but the most critical tasks. Before the big quake, the gravitational eddys had started again, causing major stress to the tectonic plates that held Betazed together.

The UFP had sent two ships, as well as three starships from Starfleet, but they all had trouble approaching the planet.

But, once the eddys had finally begun to dissipate, and the five ships were able to land and give aid.

Now, too many days later to count, the workload for the personnel stationed on Betazed had finally begun to slow.

Will threw his head back in frustration. So many lives had been lost, all because of a force of nature that no one could control or had even predicted.

The work had been never ending and frustrating. For every one person he saved, Will could have sworn he found two dead.

And that didn’t include the major loss he and Deanna had already suffered.

Three weeks without speaking to Deanna didn’t help any. Sitting back, he tried to clear his mind, just to get some sense of how she was.

Unfortunately the high emotional current and activity, which ran rampant through the center, blocked any type of communication he might possibly have made with her.

Looking down at his torn uniform and filthy hands, he sighed again. He was at the point where he wanted nothing more than to go home, pull Deanna close to him, and never let go. Not to mention a real shower and bed to sleep in.

Glancing up, he noticed Admiral Sorsha making her way through the crowded center. Seeing Will sitting by himself, she walked over and stooped down to him.

"You look like hell Lieutenant, you need rest."

Will focused his eyes on her. "I was just thinking that myself." A little surprised at her outward show of concern.

However, he made no attempt to move from his spot. Sorsha reached forward and took his hands.

"Lieutenant, you’re not going to do anyone any good if you collapse from exhaustion. Go home, get some rest. You’ve earned it." She paused for a moment.

"Lieutenant, I know that you were close to the Peterson family. They were wonderful people, and didn’t deserve to die the way they did. Yet, life must continue Will, you can’t just let it leave you behind."

Will’s eyes furrowed. "It’s not me I’m worried about Admiral."

Sorsha nodded again, "I know Will, you’re worried about Deanna. Believe me, I am too. I’ve gotten to know her very well the last few years. She’s strong. With your help, she’ll make it through this. You both will."

He acquiesceced standing up slowly, every muscle in his body screaming in protest. He began walking sluggishly to the exit.

"Lieutenant!" Sorsha yelled behind him.

Will turned. She walked up to him and took his hand, shaking it deliberately. "You did well Lieutenant, you should be proud, I am. I plan to recommend you for a commendation on your record"

Will nodded an acknowledgement. Walking into the quiet morning, he glanced at the sky.

To himself, he thought, ‘But why does it seem so shallow?’

To be continued in chapter 70

"Then and Again"

Chapter 70

Will walked slowly through the city, each step bringing him closer to his destination, back home to Deanna.

Amazingly enough, in the early morning light, he could see the effects of the massive clean up effort.

Some buildings that had stood in ruin just a couple weeks before, were now nothing more than empty lots.

Other businesses that were damaged, but not beyond repair, were already fixed, with signs announcing their re-openings.

The rebuilding had begun, not only of the physical elements, which made Betazed what it is, but the spirituality of a people who could have just as easily faded into the devastation never to be seen again.

Betazed families, whose homes were still in tact, opened their arms wide for those who had nothing left.

People who had been complete strangers were now members of a new and extended family.

The Betazoid people, as a whole, seemed to have adopted the adage "We will survive and be stronger for it".

‘How amazing these people are.’ Will thought. ‘With all this devastation around them, they still found a way to triumph.’

Looking up at the house before him, he had to pause. The healing process for this family would take a long time.

He walked into the Troi home quietly, expecting everyone to still be asleep.

Mounting the steps, he tiptoed up to the room he and Deanna shared. To his surprise, she wasn’t there.

Not to be deterred,, he opened his mind trying to sense where she was.

Without much effort, he found her. She was definitely nearby.

As he went back downstairs, he saw a light coming from the dining room area. Walking in, he saw the patio doors open.

And there she was; sitting on an antique wooden glider swing, boxes strewn on the ground all around her.

She had her head back staring up at the sky. Without moving, she said "Welcome home Will."

He forced a small smile. Stepping closer, he sat next to her.

"I missed you Imzadi." He said quietly.

Deanna raised her head back up, causing Will to gasp.

Her face was pale and forlorn. Dark shadows had taken up residence under her eyes, and didn’t look as if they were leaving anytime soon.

Cheeks that had always been so full of color were now as white as driven snow. Her eyes, always so vibrant and full of energy, were lifeless.

"I missed you too Will." She whispered, tears immediately springing to her eyes.

Will pulled her into his arms, holding her tight, rocking her back and forth as the tears continued to fall.

When she had finally quieted a bit, he looked down at her. "I’m sorry I couldn’t get home sooner. A lot of people needed my help." Will winced a bit at his words.

Deanna looked at him sternly. "Don’t do that Will, don’t feel guilty. There wasn’t anything you could have done to hel- help them."

Will nodded, knowing she spoke the truth but in some sadistic, horrible way wishing she were wrong.

"Helplessness is a terribly feeling." She added.

She settled her head down to his shoulder, placing her hand on his chest. They sat quietly, rocking back and forth.

"What are all of these boxes?" He asked her.

Deanna raised herself back up. "Old clothes mostly. Mother and I have so much, and there are people out there who can use them. She leaned down and pulled several bags into her lap.

Quietly, she said, "Elyssia and I went shopping for this stuff the day before."

Will mustered up feelings of support and comfort, sending them her way. She looked gratefully to him.

He took one of the bags and opened it. His heart leapt into his throat when the contents were revealed to him.

Baby clothes, and nursery items designed for a newborn adorned the bag. Will knew, without having to look, that the other bags contained like items.

Deanna was crying again. "She- She wanted me to hold them until she could tell Dennis that- that they were having a sss- son."

"Oh My God Deanna, I don’t know what to say." Will choked out.

Deanna looked at him. "There’s nothing to say Will, you’re here now, that is what matters."

Will pulled her into his arms again. They rocked back and forth, as the city came alive and life began for another day.

To be continued in chapter 71

Chapter 71

Will had finally persuaded Deanna to lie down for a while. She looked terrible, so much to the point that Will was extremely worried. He knew she was still grieving but this just seemed so much..more.

After making sure Deanna was asleep, he headed downstairs to find Lwaxana.

He found her sitting in the living room, in the same position she had been in when he left three weeks before.

Knocking on the outer door, he paused waiting for a response.

"There’s no need to knock William, you do live here apparently." Lwaxana said quietly.

Taken aback and unsure how to interpret her statement, Will paused a moment. When she said nothing further, he ventured into the room.

"Well, I didn’t want to intrude Mrs. Troi."

Lwaxana turned her head to look at him. Startlingly enough, she looked as horrible as Deanna did.

"It’s part of being Betazoid William. We’re telepathic and empathic, emotions running as rampantly as they are now affect everyone."

Will thought for a moment. "Then Betazoids must feel the suffering of everyone."

Lwaxana sipped a cup of tea that had been sitting next to her. "Yes, that’s true. Almost like Deanna suffered the day we held the service for Dennis, Elyssia and the babies."

Fixing a steely cold gaze on Will she added pointedly, "The service which you missed Lieutenant."

Will looked at her confused. "Mrs. Troi, I was needed elsewhere!" He began to protest.

"And my daughter didn’t need you? I certainly hope that shiny commendation on your record makes up for the tears my daughter shed alone." She finished coldly.

Will sat back angrily. "That’s not what I meant, and you know it. I received the message about the service too late to request leave. Besides, Deanna is a Starfleet officer, as were Dennis and Elyssia. She understands the sacrifices that must be made to help other-"

Lwaxana turned her head sharply to him again. "Sacrifices? William, I suggest that you make sure my daughter does not end up as one of your sacrifices for your career. I will not stand by and see her hurt because you were off gallivanting across the galaxy."

"I beg your pardon, but as soon as Deanna finishes college, she’ll be gallivanting across the galaxy herself." Will shot back indignantly.

Lwaxana dismissed his statement with a wave of her hand. "Deanna’s dreams and your dreams do not mesh Lieutenant. Things always start out rosy at the beginning, but over time, you’ll see that I’m right."

With that statement, Lwaxana stood and walked from the room leaving a very perplexed Will behind.

To be continued in chapter 72

"Then and Again"

Chapter 72

Three weeks later, Deanna walked from the campus of The University Of Betazed.

The sun was shining brightly, birds were singing.

Deanna took a deep breath, allowing it to cleanse her mind. ‘It’s hard to believe that it’s been six weeks.’

Leaving the campus grounds, she headed towards one of the main streets of the city. All around, construction had begun on new homes and businesses. Stores were re-opened, and it seemed that life was starting to slowly get back to normal.

Except for the big empty space in Deanna’s soul. That was a void that would never be filled, no matter where her life led her.

Walking around a corner, she saw the Federation Embassy ahead, as well as the café next door to it. She could sense Will near.

Looking at her wrist chronometer, she realized that he must be having a late lunch. Going in, she saw him seated near the front windows.

His eyes had already locked on to her. He was able to sense her entering the room. Smiling, he stood from the table where he was sitting and went over to her.

"Hey beautiful!" He said in greeting, bending to kiss her on the cheek.

Her face lit up at the attention. "I sensed you were here, and thought I’d stop by to say ‘Hi’."

He escorted her back to his table and gestured her to an empty seat. "How was school?"

She smiled. "The same as it was yesterday, and the day before. Will, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine."

Will feigned hurt. "I know you are, I just wanted to check."

Deanna laughed. "You’re a worrier Will. Really, I have to get on with life. Dennis and Elyssia would be the first to tell me that if they were here."

Turning her head, Deanna nostalgically looked out the window to the infirmary across the street.

Will frowned a little. "Sometimes, I sit here and expect to see the twins come barreling out of the door, laughing at some silly little thing."

Deanna grinned and nodded. "They loved to laugh, such beautiful smiles, so full of life." She finished wistfully.

"So, what’s on the agenda for tonight?" Will asked as he reached across the table and took her hand.

Rolling her eyes. "Well, for me, a whole hell of a lot of homework, considering it’s only our third day of classes."

"Almost like being back at the Academy, huh?" Will said, unable to keep the laughter from his voice.

"Oh no, this work I find fairly easy. NOTHING compares to the Academy." She finished in a flourish.

They both laughed. She fiddled with his hand for a moment, staring at his fingers.

"Mother missed you at breakfast this morning. You left before we were both awake."

Will looked at her in surprise. "She missed me? I highly doubt that. She doesn’t seem too taken with me lately."

Deanna sighed. "Don’t let her get to you Will, she’s just worried about me. And, the stress of everything has just compounded her worry."

Pulling her hand up, he kissed it lightly. "So, what do I have to do to alleviate her worry?"

"Just be who you are. She’ll get over it eventually." Deanna said shrugging but trying to assure him at the same time.

Will doubted Deanna’s statement, but decided to dismiss it.

"So, Admiral Sorsha has given me the entire weekend off. What do you say we steal away for the weekend, just the two of us?" He suggested wiggling his eyebrows up and down.

Deanna’s eye lit up. "Mmmm, that sounds nice."

Telepathically, he heard her say ‘It’s been so long Imzadi.’

He squeezed her hand. ‘Well, there’s a lot more to our relationship than sex, Deanna.’

Her face blushed a little. ‘Well, if you don’t want to anymore than-‘

‘That’s not what I said!’ he interrupted, causing them both to laugh.

She pulled his hand her way, kissing it gently on the knuckle. ‘I’m sorry that it’s been so long. It just never seemed right-‘

‘No Deanna, I understand. There is no need for you to apologize at all. Like I said, sex isn’t everything.’

Deanna smiled at him. Aloud she said, "Well, I better be going. I’ve got a ton of work to do, and a report to write. I’ll see you when you get home."

Standing, she leaned down and kissed him on the lips gently. "I love you Deanna." He whispered.

She smiled. "I know."

She left the café with an added bounce in her step.

To be continued in chapter 73

"Then and Again"

Chapter 73

The following Friday, Deanna rushed home from school. She wanted to get a jump-start on her work before she had to pack for her weekend getaway with Will.

She walked into the house, and almost ran straight into Lwaxana who was on her way out the door.

"Oh, Little One, what’s the rush?" She asked.

"I have things to do, that’s all Mother."

Just as she began to jog up the stairs, Lwaxana called, "Little One, I hope you’re not rushing for Will! He’s going to have an excuse to not go this weekend."

Deanna stopped dead in her tracks. She turned and walked slowly down to her Mother.

"And why do you say that?" She asked slowly.

Lwaxana took a deep breath. "Because, I can see what’s happening. Now that he’s gotten into that horrible Admiral’s good graces, he’ll always be ‘busy’."

Deanna shook her head. "That’s not true Mother. I don’t understand your sudden change of heart where Will is concerned."

Lwaxana put her hand on Deanna’s cheek. "After our horrible arguments when you wanted to go to the Academy, I swore to you that I wouldn’t interfere in your life. Little One, this is something I can’t get involved in. I’m sorry."

Deanna stared at her Mother. "Since when have you ever kept your word regarding interfering in my life?"

Lwaxana smiled at her. "Deanna, you and Will are Imzadi, no one in this galaxy can interfere with that except the two of you. I just want to see you happy."

Deanna kissed her on the cheek. "I’m happy with Will Mother, truly."

Lwaxana nodded, but said nothing. Instead, she turned and walked out the door with Zeloh in tow.

Deanna sighed. She turned and began walking up the stairs again. And then she sensed him coming.

‘Will’s early!’ She thought with a smile.

He came in the front door just as Deanna made it back down the stairs. They rushed into each other’s arms, kissing passionately.

‘I missed you today Imzadi.’ She said.

Will smiled. "I always miss you. I’ve been so busy this past week, I thought I’d come home a little early."

He looked around the room. "Where’s your mother?" He asked.

"Gone for the weekend. You just missed her." Deanna said with a smile.

Will frowned a bit and walked into the living room. "Well, maybe Megan will come stay with you tomorrow night while I’m gone."

Deanna froze in her steps. "What do you mean, while you’re gone? I thought we were going away?"

Will stopped. He spun to Deanna, a look of surprise on his face. "Oh God, Deanna, I’m so sorry, I completely forgot. Admiral Sorsha wants me to go with her to Ampad on an inspection tour. She just asked me to go this morning."

Will didn’t need to be bonded with Deanna to know she was angry. He went to her, trying to pull her into his arms.

She pushed him away instead, walking to the other side of the room, looking out the window.

The silence was deafening. Will sighed. "Look Deanna, there will be plenty-"

She spun on him. "No there won’t Will! You know as well as I do that Starfleet won’t keep you here on Betazed forever. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep."

Will stood there stunned. ‘Where is all this coming from?’ He wondered.

"Where is it coming from? Gods Will, we live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, and I hardly ever see you! You’re the one who suggested we go away and then you forget!?"

"Deanna-" Will realized how loud his voice was. Taking a deep breath, he lowered it again.

"Deanna, I’m home early tonight. I’ll be back Sunday morning; please I don’t want to spend this time arguing. I can’t do anything more than say I’m sorry."

Deanna turned away from him, back to the window. Not knowing what to do, Will walked through the house, out on to the patio.

After sitting for a while, he could hear Deanna coming up behind him. Much to his relief, she wrapped her arms around him and nestled her head into his back.

They didn’t need to speak any apologies; the words just weren’t there. Instead, they just cherished what little time they had together.

To be continued in chapter 74

"Then and Again"

Chapter 74

The following Sunday, Will rushed back to the Troi mansion as fast as he could.

Knowing that Lwaxana would be returning later that night, he wanted to try to spend as much time with Deanna as possible.

While walking up the driveway, his mind drifted back to his argument with Deanna on Friday.

It had scared him, probably more than he’d originally realized. Seeing Deanna angry was something he wasn’t used to, especially with the anger pointed at him.

All that evening, she’d seemed so distant. She was there, but not quite. He tried to reach out to her mentally, only to have her brush his query aside.

Deep down, that had hurt Will. He wasn’t sure if she meant to cause him pain or not, but it had happened just the same.

Will had become so accustomed to the two of them sharing everything, body, mind and soul, that her sudden unwillingness to do so cut right into the core of his being.

Will didn’t mention it to her, hoping that perhaps she was just still upset with him.

Later, after dinner, they had taken a moonlit stroll. The silence between them was almost tangible.

Deanna had mumbled the same response to all of his inquiries about what she was thinking; "I’m fine."

They had made love for the first time since before the earthquake later that night. Deanna had seemed a million miles away.

It wasn’t the same, not even close to being the same. As their bodies joined, Will reached out with his soul to touch hers, and was overcome with a sudden chill that almost made him shiver.

He had left the following morning before Deanna had wakened. The oddness of her behavior had bothered him the whole trip, to the point where Admiral Sorsha asked if he was alright.

He sighed heavily before entering the house, and was shocked to find it empty.

Deanna had told him that she would ask Magen over for the night, since she got to spend such little time with her friend.

But, no one was there. Puzzled, Will walked to the communications system and placed a call to Magen’s apartment.

Magen answered quickly, smiling when she saw Will.

"Hey Magen, I just got back, is Deanna there by any chance?"

Her answer scared Will even more. "Will, I haven’t heard from Deanna since the memorial service."

The same cold chill which had plagued Will two nights ago swept over him again.

He quickly thanked Magen, and then placed calls to several of Deanna’s other friends, only to receive the same answer.

Reaching out with his mind, he searched for her, and found nothing. Panic began to overtake him.

Something in his mind told him that he had to find Deanna soon. Rushing back out the door, he froze when he saw Lwaxana coming up the walkway.

"My goodness Lieutenant, what has you all hot and bothered?"

"Deanna… I can’t find her."

Lwaxana stopped and looked sadly at him. "Will, she’s been doing this quite often since the memorial service. She’ll disappear for hours, not allowing anyone to communicate with her telepathically. Eventually, she comes home."

Will stared at her incredulously. "And you didn’t think this was odd behavior? That maybe you should have told me this was going on?"

Lwaxana looked at him coldly. "And when was I going to tell you Lieutenant. We hardly ever see you."

Lwaxana brushed past him and walked into the house. Will angrily turned and rushed down the street.

To be continued in chapter 75

"Then and Again"

Chapter 75

Deanna sat on the grassy knoll leaning back against an old gnarled tree.

The sun was at it’s zenith, making her squint against the brightness.

In the distance, she could see Dennis spreading a blanket on the ground. Elyssia was standing behind him, holding a wicker picnic basket.

Once they settled down on the blanket, the twins came running up, jumping into their parents arms.

Deanna sat several yards away watching, the laughing family. Elyssia cocked her head and glanced directly at her cousin.

Putting one of the babies down, she stood and walked in Deanna’s direction.

"What a sight you make." Deanna commented as Elyssia approached.

She smiled, holding her arms out and spinning slowly. "Don’t you think this suits me?"

Deanna nodded, taking note of how the sun made Elyssia’s white dress look brilliant.

Elyssia sat on her knees next to Deanna, facing her. She waited several moments for Deanna to speak.

"What is it Deanna? Why are you here again?" She asked.

Deanna sighed. "To be honest, I don’t know. I just miss all of you so much."

Elyssia smiled. "Deanna, we’re never far away. You may not see us physically, but we’re always in here." She gestured to Deanna’s heart.

Deanna began to cry. "It’s just not the same." She looked wistfully in the direction of the picnic, where Dennis was laughing at the girls.

Elyssia nodded. "You’re right, it’s not the same. Life is always in a state of flux, constantly changing." She gestured to where the rest of her family was gathered. "We’re okay Deanna, we’ll be together and happy for all of eternity. It’s only right that you afford yourself the same opportunity."

She smiled and stood again, then walked across the knoll to rejoin her family.

Deanna sat quietly and continued to watch them. The twins then stood, and ran towards her holding hands.

They both held small flowers that they had pulled from the ground. The sunlight shone in their red hair, giving them an ethereal glow.

With their little crooked smiles, they handed their treasures to Deanna.

Turning, they ran back to their parents. Just as they stepped on to the blanket, the whole family slowly disappeared into the sunlight fading as quickly as their lives had, until they were there no more.

Deanna’s eyes snapped open, quickly scanning the area in front of her. Looking in her hands, she could swear that she felt the flowers Katie and Cassie had bestowed on her.

Of course, she was alone, and her hands were empty.

Sadly, she looked in the distance and could see a figure coming near. She immediately knew it was Will, and that he’d been looking for her.

She felt like running away from him, running away from everything in her life. Facing the constant state of devastation and loss everyday was becoming too much, and she felt too alone to do anything about it.

Alas, she stayed and waited.

To be continued in chapter 76

"Then and Again"

Chapter 76

Will had been all over the city checking Deanna's favorite places, only to come up empty handed time and again.

Thinking back on the last several weeks, he tried to remember bits and pieces of conversations that would give him some clue as to where she might have been 'disappearing' to all this time.

Once again, he was puzzled by Lwaxana's behavior towards him. And why she didn't feel he deserved to know Deanna had been doing this for almost two months, weighed on his mind.

Frustrated and about ready to give up, a conversation came back to him from six weeks prior. He immediately took off for that destination.

Breathing like he had run a 10m dash, Will scanned across the horizon before him, looking for any sign of her.

He saw a figure in the distance, sitting alone up against a tree. Slowly, he opened his mind, praying she would let him in this time.

After feeling the familiar tingle he'd come to associate with Deanna, he breathed a sigh of relief and quickened his step to cross the distance between them. "

Do you think walking faster will help Imzadi?" Deanna asked slightly amused at the galloping pace with which he had bridged the gap.

Almost surprised at the reference, he sat down next to her. "It’s been a long time since I’ve heard you call me that."

She exhaled slowly and looked in front of her, her eyes focusing on an area in the grass.

Will moved his vision to where she was staring, and saw nothing. Furrowing his brow, he waited for her to say something...anything to explain why she cut herself off from everyone for hours at a time.

Sensing his discomfort, Deanna looked at Will perplexed.

"Why are you here?" She asked quietly.

Unable to fathom why she would ask such a thing, he looked at her astounded. "I was looking for you. I have been all over the city, called your friends, and ended up here. You had me worried."

"Worried about me? I didn’t think you’d notice I was gone." Her sarcasm almost too much for Will to take in.

He was dumbfounded. "How can you even ask such a question? Of course I worry about you." He snapped.

Deanna looked at her mysterious spot on the grass again. Taking a deep breath, she looked back to him.

"Do you have any idea what this place is?"

Will nodded, allowing his sudden flash of anger to ebb away. "It’s called ‘The Valley Of Song’, right?"

She nodded. "This is where we had the memorial service." She hesitated for a moment. "Their ashes were spread into the wind here."

"Is that why you came here today?" He asked, hoping she would shed some light on her recent behavior and aloofness.

No answers were forthcoming right away. Instead, she held her hand out as a slight breeze blew by, as if trying to touch it.

Eventually, "I come here a lot. Sometimes… it makes me feel like I’m closer to them."

"I’m sorry that I missed the service Imzadi." He said, feeling as if he needed to apologize.

Deanna stayed silently pondering her thoughts. Finally, "It wasn’t your fault. You were needed elsewhere. You would’ve been here if it was possible."

Confusion muddled his mind again. "Deanna, I’m just having trouble understanding."

"Will, don’t you sense it happening? Can’t you feel it?" Her eyes were pleading with him to comprehend what was going on.

Will thought for a moment. Deanna realized that an answer was not imminent.

"You do know what I’m talking about Will. Ever since the quake, things just haven’t been the same. We haven’t been the same."

"I don’t know why that is." He admitted.

She shook her head, conceding to his point. "I don’t either Will."

Silence descended upon them once again. Tentatively, he reached out a hand in her direction.

Deanna placed her small hand in his, allowing the strength of his grip to give her the comfort she had been missing.

Will focused his gaze to where Deanna’s eyes were transfixed to again. "Deanna, what do you see out there?" He asked unsure of what her answer might be.

She shrugged her small shoulders. "Sometimes, I see nothing. Other times, I see my whole future out there."

Comprehension dawned on the Will. "Do you come here to be closer to Elyssia?"

"If I close my eyes, I feel like they’re all sitting here with me, just like old times." She affirmed.

Will nodded, understanding. "When I was younger, I used to pretend my Mother was still alive. I would tell people she was away traveling. It made me feel better believing she was just away on a trip."

Deanna looked to him, tears brimming in her eyes. "I wish that they were still here."

Will squeezed her hand gently, offering whatever comfort he could manage.

"Tell me Deanna."

"She was more than just my cousin Will. She was my best friend, my confidant. I always shared every aspect of my life with her. And she was always there for me, just like the sister I never had. Especially after the way our parents died."

Withdrawing back into herself, Deanna fell silent, unable to verbalize further all that Elyssia had meant to her.

Lost in his own memories of the Petersons, Will began reminiscing. "It was absolutely amazing… the way they all welcomed me into the family, without hesitation."

Deanna smiled through her tears. "That’s just who they were Will. There was always plenty of love for everyone."

"I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant to me." He said softly.

"You don’t have to, I already know."

Deanna slid herself closer to him, laying her head on his shoulder, allowing her arms to wrap around him.

Will sighed, using his arms to draw her tighter, enjoying the feel of her physical closeness. He had missed ‘them’.

"Deanna, what’s happening to us? Why is this horrible distance between us?"

She sighed. "Everything happened so quickly Will. One minute they were there, you where there, and then just as quickly-"

Will finished the sentence for her. "We were all gone."

She hugged him tightly. "You were never too far from me Imzadi. I could sense you, your thoughts, your love, and your pain. I just couldn’t bring myself to experience that with you."

"You had a lot to cope with all at once Deanna. You shouldn’t have had to concentrate on me."

She sat up looking into his eyes. "Will, I share everything with you. We’re Imzadi, we’ll share everything forever."

"Do you know that I felt them that morning?"

"Felt them how Deanna?"

Gathering her thoughts together, "I felt them die."

Sudden horror and realization coursed through his body. "My God Deanna, I can’t even imagine-" He paused, at a loss for words.

She quietly began to cry again. Will leaned forward, kissing the tears from her cheeks, finding solace in one another.

"I’m sorry that I wasn’t there more Deanna. I promise that I’ll always be there for you from now on."

Amazingly, a brilliant smile lit her face. Looking up at the sky, she said. "Did you guys here that?"

Will smiled. Standing, he pulled Deanna up with him.

Walking across the grass still holding hands, the gentle breeze that had been blowing earlier stirred again.

A sudden feeling of nostalgia came across Will as the wind rustled by.

He could have sworn, that far in the distance, he could smell the faintest hint of Katie and Cassie’s baby shampoo drifting in the breeze.

To be continued in chapter 77

"Then and Again"

Chapter 77

Several days later, Will sat in Admiral Sorsha’s office at the newly reopened Federation Embassy.

She was looking at him, as if what he had told her was a joke.

"My goodness Lieutenant, you’re really serious."

Will swallowed hard. "Yes ma’am. The USS Gaia is a good ship, and to be the chief operations officer is a wonderful opportunity, but I believe that my interests are best served here at the moment."

Sorsha pursed her lips. "Lieutenant, you know that I adore Deanna, but you stalling your career to be here with her isn’t a very wise move."

"It’s not that at all ma’am."

"Oh? And do you have another reason as to why you want to remain planet side?"

Will swallowed hard again, not offering another answer.

Will’s silence confirmed her suspicions. She came out from behind her desk and perched herself on the edge of it.

"Will, you’re an excellent officer, one of the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to see you blow your career on a matter of the heart."

Will nodded. "I appreciate your concern Admiral. But, it’s not just a matter of the heart. It’s definitely a lot more than that."

Sorsha relented. "I’ll send my condolences to Captain Dafgney of the Gaia, and tell him that my best Lieutenant will be staying right here."

Will smiled tightly and stood. "Thank you ma’am."

Will exited the room, stopping just outside of the door as it slid shut.

He cursed inwardly, hoping that he hadn’t just blown his career out the nearest airlock.

To be continued in chapter 78

"Then and Again"

Chapter 78

March 29, 2362

The day started out quietly enough.

Lwaxana was on another diplomatic trip, so Will and Deanna had the house to themselves, which he was grateful for. He was determined to make this a day neither would ever forget.

Deanna didn’t seem able to concentrate on anything, but she never reminded Will what the day signified.

Unbeknownst to her, of course he had remembered. Not only was it Deanna’s birthday, but it was the anniversary of her father and aunt’s death.

Making her way downstairs, the wonderful aroma of Will's culinary skills collided with her growling stomach. As she walked into the dining room and saw the feast Will had set up, she gave him a brilliant smile that lit up the room.

However, there was sadness behind her smile and a haunted look in her eyes, and he was determined to change that. Will knew he had his work cut out for him to help to ease the pain this day brought, but that just made him all the more determined to make this a day to celebrate.

"What’s all this for Imzadi?" She asked.

Will shrugged nonchalantly. "I woke up early and decided to make you a nice meal."

Deanna looked at him curiously. "What are you up to?"

Will feigned innocence. "Up to? Me? Nothing of course. I don’t have to be on duty until Noon, so I thought we could eat a big breakfast and then go for a walk in the park."

Deanna smiled although she was still looking at him strangely, not at all convinced.

As Will sat and began to eat, he felt a slight brush of Deanna’s mind against his. He fought from reacting to the sensations it caused.

He concentrated solely on his planned tasks at the embassy this afternoon. He filled his mind with all the tasks he had to perform, including mundane inspections of the communications system.

He looked over at Deanna who had a look of frustration on her face.

Doing his best to keep from laughing, Will smiled inwardly. It had worked, Deanna didn’t suspect a thing.

The morning was progressing exactly as Will had planned.

Deanna didn’t have a clue that he remembered it was her birthday.

She seemed to be getting very annoyed with him, and he wasn’t sure he could keep up the bluff much longer.

But, he had to. Everything would be revealed once they got to the park, so just a little longer wouldn’t hurt too much.

They entered the open wrought iron gate. It had been almost six months since they had last been here, it seemed like a lifetime ago with all that had happened.

Will wasn’t even sure that Deanna would be willing to come back to this particular park. She had spent many hours here with the twins, letting them run and play in the grass and flowers.

He was afraid that the park wouldn’t hold the special feelings as it had back then.

That was a fear he wanted to allay today.

Deanna was holding on to his left hand, so Will inconspicuously reached down with his right to feel the pocket of his trousers.

He sighed in relief. It was still there. Of course, it had been there the other half dozen times or so he’d double-checked in the short distance from the house to the park.

Strolling down the main path, Deanna went over to the muck tuck flowers they had star gazed from just months before.

She bent down, holding the flower gently in her fingers. The tingle sound brought another smile to her face.

Will was getting impatient. He felt as if he would burst at the seams if he didn’t get this over with soon.

Deanna, sensing his emotions, stood back up and looked at him strangely.

"Okay Will, what are you up to?" She asked, her voice laced with curiosity.

Knowing the moment had *finally* arrived, he leaned down kissing her on the lips gently.

"Happy birthday Imzadi." He whispered to her.

Her breath caught a bit in her throat. Overcome with emotion, she wrapped her arms around him exclaiming, "Oh Gods, you did remember!"

Will laughed. "Of course I did. How could a day as important as your birthday not be remembered?"

Deanna looked down to the ground, a small look of sadness on her face. She took his hand as they began walking down the path again.

"In some ways it’s such a horrible day." Deanna mumbled.

Will squeezed her hand. "I know Deanna. Maybe I can change that?" He suggested, raising his eyebrows.

She smiled at him again. "Elyssia and I always spent this day together, just to support each other. But, we obviously can’t do that anymore."

They had reached a stone bench along the path. Will sat down, gently pulling her down next to him.

"Elyssia can’t spend your birthday with you anymore. But I’m here, and I’ll make sure you have a wonderful day."

She locked her eyes into his. "I already am Will."

He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. "I’m glad. Deanna-there’s something I’ve wanted to talk to you about."

Will saw Deanna’s face fall a bit. He gently took her cheek in his hand. "No, it’s nothing bad, really."

She looked at him hopefully. He took both of her hands in his, fiddling with them.

"Do you remember the day before the lunar alignment, Admiral Sorsha gave all of her personnel a few hours of leave?"

She nodded. "Elyssia and I went shopping for the new baby."

Will nodded. "Well, Dennis and I sort of went shopping too."

Deanna looked at him puzzled. He swallowed hard, trying not to choke on the words he’d practiced a million times over.

"Deanna, you’re my best friend, my lover, my soul mate. You make me who I am, when we’re apart I don’t feel whole."

He reached into his pocket, extracting the small blue velvet box. He opened it, showing Deanna the diamond ring inside.

"I want to wake up with you by my side everyday, I want to fall asleep knowing that you’ll be there when I open my eyes. When my children take their first breaths, I want to look down into your beautiful eyes and know that our love created those miracles."

Her hand flew to her mouth as he paused, taking the ring out of its box.

"Will you marry me?"

Deanna held her trembling hand out; letting Will slip the ring onto her finger.

She stared at it for a moment, and then jumped forward, wrapping her arms around him.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" She yelled, laughing.

They jumped off of the bench hugging, kissing, laughing and crying.

When they had finally settled down, Deanna stood on her tiptoes and kissed Will passionately.

She laid her head on his chest, allowing the warmth of his body to encompass her completely.

Telepathically she said, "Well, you did it Imzadi, you gave me the most wonderful birthday of my life!"

To be continued in chapter 79

"Then and Again"

Chapter 79

They finished walking through the length of the park before deciding to head home and prepare for their busy day.

Arriving at their front door, Deanna reached forward to key in the security code, and was startled when the door slid open on it’s own accord.

She looked strangely at Will. "I could’ve sworn we locked this when we left."

Will shrugged a bit. "Uh, maybe the code didn’t go through the first time? I’ll get someone to check that it’s not malfunctioning."

Deanna looked a bit perplexed, but she walked slowly in. Glancing around, she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

"My classes start in a little over an hour, so I have to go get ready." Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed Will gently on the mouth. ‘Thank you for the wonderful day Imzadi.’

She turned and began jogging exuberantly up the steps.

Will stood at the base of the stairway smiling. He followed her up slowly, crossing his fingers behind his back that everything had gone according to plan.

Just then, Will caught movement at the bottom of the stairwell. Turning, he saw Magen running from an apparent hiding spot in the living room and out the front door.

He struggled to control his laughter as he slowly continued upstairs. A shriek of surprise from Deanna made him walk a bit faster.

Entering the bedroom behind her, he made a promise to make it up to Magen.

Deanna stood staring at her bedroom, which had now been turned into one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen.

The large picture windows on all sides of the room had been opened to allow the sunshine to stream through. The gentle breeze allowed the white lace curtains to billow a bit, rustling the long, green hued, flowered vines that were strung across the tops of the windowsills.

Every square inch of the room was covered in flowers from Janaran Falls, a legendary camping spot deep in the mountains outside of Capital City.

Across the white satin sheets on the bed were covered in red rose petals from Earth. Next to the bed, a silver ice bucket was sitting with a bottle of champagne, waiting to be chilled. On the nightstand, two champagne flutes were set.

Deanna turned to Will in shock. "My Gods, how long have you had this planned?"

He looked a bit sad. "Actually, I was going to propose the day after the lunar alignment. But-"

She smiled at him. "So you kept this-" She lifted her hand, showing him her engagement ring, "-and all these plans a secret for all these weeks? How did you manage that?"

He smiled sheepishly. "At first, it was easy. All of this-" He gestured around the room, "-was the farthest thing from my mind. And then, things got pretty crazy between us. I wasn’t even sure if I’d have the opportunity to propose. But lately-" He shook his head gently.

"Lately, it’s hard to keep anything to yourself." She finished.

He took her hands, bringing her engagement ring up and kissing it gently. "I don’t even know if it’s possible, but I swear that it feels like our bond is even stronger than before."

She smiled, freeing one of her hands and brushing an errant strand of hair from his brow. "The more time we spend together Imzadi, the stronger it’ll become. Eventually, the day will come when we’ll have no thoughts that are our own, everything will be ours."

Gently taking her face in his hands, he bent and kissed her passionately. ‘I can’t wait for that day to come.’ He thought to her.

She grinned. "If we keep this up Will, neither of us will ever get our day started. You have to be at the embassy soon, and I have an important exam at 1300 hours."

He sighed, throwing his head back in defeat. "Your classes are done at 2100, right?"

She nodded, wondering if she’d be able to make it that long.

"I get done at 2000, so I’ll be here… ready, and waiting." He said softly.

Deanna felt a shiver of excitement go through her body. "I’m going to hold you to that Imzadi." She said, licking her lips.

Will felt a flood of warmth spread through his body like wildfire. "You’re right. We’re never going to get this day started."

She snickered. "Well, the quicker we start, the quicker it will be over."

He nodded again, conceding. Deanna walked to her desk, carefully moving her arms past the flowers and picked up her PADDs.

Taking one more longing look at the room, they left to begin the longest day of their lives.

To be continued in chapter 80

"Then and Again"

Chapter 80

Deanna walked into her first class and headed straight for Magen.

She was sitting where she and Deanna normally do, but was avoiding looking at her.

‘Don’t even play Magen, you know that I’m here!’ Deanna chided her telepathically.

Magen turned her head and smiled. "Oh Deanna, I didn’t see you come in."

Deanna looked at her annoyingly. "I know you had something to do with all of that."

Magen smiled mysteriously. "So, let me see it!"

Deanna moved her left hand behind her back quickly. "I can’t believe you of all people didn’t even give me a hint that this was coming."

Magen feigned innocence. "Me?! He’s your fiancé, if you were to get any hints at all they should have come from him!" She said laughing.

Deanna smiled. Putting her PADDs down on her seat, she showed Magen her engagement ring.

Magen whistled. "Wow, Will must love you an awful lot to buy you a stone like that."

Settling into her seat, Deanna smiled mischievously. "Oh he does." She answered.

Magen smiled. "I bet you ten strips of latinum if we didn’t have this exam today, you wouldn’t even have shown up for class."

Deanna looked at her. "This is going to be an extremely long day."

Magen giggled before focusing her attention on their professor who was about to begin their lecture for the day.

"Okay class, let’s settle down. Today’s lecture will cover chapters twenty-three through thirty of your text."

Turning to his computer screen, the professor began typing. Up on the large computer screen, the title of the lesson began to scroll across.

Deanna’s mouth dropped open as the professor began speaking again.

"Today, we will be studying sexual dysfunctions."

Magen slapped her hand over her mouth as not to laugh. Deanna looked at her shaking her head.

‘Oh yeah, this is going to be a LONG day.’ She thought to herself.

Over at the embassy, Will had finished checking in with Admiral Sorsha before heading to his office.

Sitting down, he stretched his long legs out and sat back in his chair, smiling.

This was going to be an interesting eight hours to say the least. He couldn’t wait to get home and wait for Deanna to arrive.

Snapping out of his fantasy, he reached forward and signed his computer terminal on. Moments later, the door chimed.

"Come." He answered.

Looking up, he saw Ensign Schaeffer enter. Schaeffer was new to Betazed, just having graduated from the academy the previous year.

He had been sent to Betazed with one of the rescue teams. Before all was said and done, Schaeffer decided that he liked the planet so much that he’d requested a transfer.

"Good afternoon Lieutenant." He said in greeting.

Will, nodded. "How are you today David?"

Schaeffer smiled. "Just fine sir. I have some reports that need your approval before they can be transmitted to Starfleet."

Will frowned a bit. "Why don’t you get Admiral Sorsha’s approval on those?"

Schaeffer shrugged. "She said for you to do it Sir."

Will nodded, taking the PADDs from him. "This will be the first thing on my list of priorities today." Well, second to fantasizing about this gorgeous Betazoid that I know, he thought to himself.

"Okay Sir, I’ll let the Admiral know." Schaeffer spun on his heel and exited the room.

Picking up one of the PADDs, Will sighed in frustration. The first report that required his attention was over four hundred pages long.

After getting a cup of coffee from the replicator, he began the arduous task ahead of him.

Deanna moved begrudgingly to her next class. She was absolutely ready for this day to be over, and so far, she’d only managed to make it through one lecture.

Before walking into the classroom, she tried pulling her thoughts together. This was an important exam, and having her mind completely on her sex life would not be wise.

Magen turned and looked at her with a smile. "Get out of my thoughts Magen." She said smiling.

Magen laughed. "My Gods Deanna, the whole school knows what’s going through your mind today!"

Deanna’s face blushed a bit. Magen laughed at her again and entered the classroom.

The Vulcan professor met the students at the door, handing them their exam PADD as they entered.

‘Damn, good afternoon to you too.’ Magen thought sarcastically, causing Deanna to snicker.

Sitting down at their respective desks, Deanna cleared her mind of all thoughts of Will Riker.

‘I can do this.’ She thought to herself as she began reading the eleven-part exam in her hands.

Will’s eyes had begun to tire after page thirty. By page one hundred-twenty, his head was down on his desk and he was snoring lightly.

He’d been awake most of the night before, worried about how Deanna would react to his proposal.

Add that to the fact that he planned on not getting much sleep at all tonight, his body simply decided it was time for a small nap.

Of course, as soon as he entered REM sleep, he began dreaming of her.

They were both laying naked on a blanket on some exotic beach somewhere. Their bodies were intertwined and in the throes of passion, the sunlight streaming down from the sun above causing their sweat slickened bodies to practically glow.

Deanna wrapped her legs around Will and dug her nails into his back and he sunk down into her.

They lay still for a moment before they began to move again. Every movement of their bodies brought a moan of pleasure from one of them.

Their pace quickened, Will gently thrusting into her as she slammed herself into him.

The movement and moans quickened yet again, until finally they both cried out in one final moment of extreme release-

Causing Lieutenant William Riker to fall out of his chair at the embassy and land hard on the floor.

Across town at the college, Deanna suddenly jerked harshly in her seat, causing her exam PADD to fall on to the floor with a loud clatter.

Magen was near hysterics, dropping her head into her arms to try to contain herself.

"Ms. Troi, are you having difficulties?"

Deanna’s face had turned a deep shade of purple as all of her fellow students looked at her amused.

"I’m fine, Sir." She said, bending quickly to retrieve her test from the floor.

She looked out of the corner of her eye at Magen who was wiping the tears from her eyes.

Deanna cleared her throat and began her test again. That was when she heard Magen’s voice ring in her head; ‘So Deanna, was it good for you too?’

To be continued in chapter 81

"Then and Again"

Chapter 81

Glancing at the chronometer on the wall, Will sighed.

Another four hours to go. And at least five hours before he would see Deanna.

Admiral Sorsha continued to drone on at the head of the conference table. And, several lieutenant commanders were waiting for their turns.

This meeting was going to last forever. Will shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying to find just the right position.

‘Yeah, like that’s going to happen anytime soon.’ He thought, his mind drifting to his upcoming plans.

He tried focusing his attention back to Admiral Sorsha.

"Now, looking at pie graph 57d, you’ll see the drop of personnel needed at this point of reconstruction. The numbers have dropped significantly as compared to pie graphs 57a, 57b and 57c." She monotonously droned on.

Will did his best not to roll his eyes.

That was when the images began to flash through his mind, almost like an old fashioned slide show.

He could see images of Deanna, swimming nude in the ocean, perhaps the same one he had been dreaming of earlier.

She emerged from the water, dripping wet and walking towards him. As she approached, she outstretched her arms, welcoming him to her warm, wet embrace.

The conference room slowly swam back into focus. Will shifted uncomfortably in his seat again, wondering if anyone else felt how warm the room had suddenly become.

Again, the vision in his mind’s eye changed. This time, he could see Deanna in their bedroom at home.

She was standing in the room, slowly dropping her clothing to the floor.

Now completely nude and bathed in blue moonlight streaming through the window, she began intimately touching herself.

She moved to the bed, laying down slowly as her hands continued their ministrations.

She began slithering lithely across the bed as moans seeped from her mouth.

Her moans strengthened as her fingers dipped into herself.

Abruptly, she stopped, sitting up on her elbows.

Smiling, she held her hand out, gesturing to him.

He could see his hand reach out to join hers as he crawled slowly up her body.


Will jumped in his chair again as the room snapped into focus.

He immediately realized what the noise was. Admiral Sorsha had slammed a PADD down on the table to regain his attention.

Glaring at him she snapped, "Lieutenant, would you like to give your report now?"

Will reached to his forehead wiping the sweat from his brow.

He began to stand and then realized that standing probably wasn’t the best idea at the moment, especially considering how well the conference table was hiding his bulging erection.

Settling back into his chair and attempting to clear the squeak from his throat, he began his report.

Deep, in the recesses of his mind, he could hear Deanna’s laughter.

To be continued in chapter 82

"Then and Again"

Chapter 82

As he entered the Troi mansion, Will almost had to laugh.

It was 2007, meaning that he had made it home in record time from the embassy.

Deanna wouldn’t be home for another hour, giving Will just enough time to whip together a quick dinner for the two of them.

He began fiddling around in the kitchen, a small smile fixated on his face.

Just as he began pouring the small meal into the serving dishes, he could feel Deanna approaching.

He placed the dishes on the dining room table that he’d set earlier. He forced himself to wait in there, not wanting to jump her the moment she walked into the house.

He heard the door open and walked to the foyer to greet her. Fortunately for the two of them, the plan didn’t go quite as expected.

As soon as their eyes met, Deanna dropped the PADDs she was carrying and threw herself at Will.

He seemingly caught her in midair, and their bodies immediately wrapped around one another.

Their hunger and mutual need for each other overwhelmed both of their senses.

Deanna’s weight caused Will to loose his balance, crashing them both to the floor in a heap.

With the air knocked out of them, their mouths parted and they broke into laughter.

Will, who was at the bottom of the pile, reached up and played with a fallen tendril of Deanna’s hair.

"Hi." He said jokingly.

"How are ya big boy?" She teased, her face immediately reddening as the words left her mouth.

" I made us dinner." He said, laughing.

Deanna simply shook her head. "Pasta is the last thing I plan on eating tonight Imzadi."

Taking his hand, she stood up and pulled him up with her. She led him upstairs.

They both quickly forgot the uneaten meal in the dining room.

To be continued in chapter 83

"Then and Again"

Chapter 83

Hours later, they lay sated in one another’s arms.

She had drifted off to sleep, minutes before. But, no matter how tired his body and mind felt, sleep just would not come.

All the stresses of his life decided to come and haunt him this night, of all nights. All he had wanted was to spend a wonderful night with his fiancée.

‘Fiancée’, Will smiled at the word. He couldn’t believe that Deanna had agreed to share her life with him for eternity.

Of course, there would be times when they would be apart, that was part of being Starfleet Officers.

Although Starfleet tried to keep married couples together as much as possible, sometimes there was no alternative to but to separate them.

Alas, when Will would be promoted to Captain, he would have his beautiful wife and family with him.

‘Family’, that word struck a chord. He had never had much of a family that he could remember. He certainly didn’t want his father to be a role model.

What kind of father would he be? If he and Deanna were assigned to separate ships, where would their children want to be? What if he was a horrible father, and his own children detested him like he did Kyle?

Did Deanna even want children? They had spoken of children several times since he’d come to Betazed, but that had just been in passing, never an actual, serious discussion. Did he even want to be a father?

Glancing down lovingly at Deanna, he placed a feather light kiss on her forehead.

The Captain on his first ship, Captain Pressman, had told him that being a Starfleet Officer and a family man could never mix.

Ambition always got in the way. Your career always had to be the priority, and as a Captain, if something terrible were to happen on board your ship, your first duty would always be to the ship.

Would he be able to do that, knowing that Deanna and his children could be decks beneath him dying?

Will banished those thoughts to the back of his mind. He didn’t want to deal with them, couldn’t deal with them at this moment.

Trying to clear his mind, he tried once again to sleep. But, his dreams were filled of the horrid sounds of Deanna’s screams piercing through the decks of The Pegasus as Will and Captain Pressman ran from the mutinying crew, leaving them all to die.

To be continued in chapter 84


"Then and Again"

Chapter 84

Sleep didn’t keep him long. Startled awake, he looked quickly around the room while taking deep breaths to calm himself.

Thankfully, Deanna had rolled from his chest on to her other side, so she didn’t feel him jump awake.

Raising his knees up, he rested his elbows on them for a moment, his head bowed.

He wiped the perspiration from his forehead, thankful that he didn’t remember most of what he had been dreaming about.

Looking wistfully to Deanna, he sighed. He would love nothing more than to wake her up and lose himself in her once again, let her love and tenderness wipe all the nightmares from his mind.

But, he couldn’t do that. Deanna had classes early in the morning, and to wake her in the middle of the night to let sex chase a nightmare away just wouldn’t be fair to her, or him.

Instead, he slipped quietly from the bed. Walking to the opposite side of the room, he stared out of the window, allowing the blue white light of Ampad to shine on his naked skin.

Turning, he walked back to the bed, stooping down to stare in Deanna’s face.

Her eyes were still closed, her lips slightly parted. Her hair was a mess of curled tangles, a byproduct of their previous activities.

Will reached out and stroked it softly, careful not to wake her. He never understood his fascination with her hair. It was one of his favorite things, running his hands through the soft, thick strands, allowing it to fall slowly over her shoulders.

The funny thing was, with all the women before Deanna, he had never cared much about their hair.

But, he knew that Deanna was different, she was everything that made him what he was. She had touched the core of his being like no one ever had before, and no one ever would again.

Standing, he walked towards the bathroom, not noticing Deanna turning her head to watch him.

He stood in front of the sink, filling his hands with cold water. Splashing it across his face, he allowed the sudden shock to chill his entire body.

Her small hands appearing from behind him startled him. But, he sunk into her backward embrace, wrapping his arms with hers.

‘Why didn’t you ever tell me about The Pegasus, Imzadi?’ she thought to him.

He sighed. ‘Starfleet intelligence deemed the whole mission as classified. We weren’t allowed to discuss it with anyone.’

Deanna took his arm, turning him around. "I’m not just anyone Will." She said, placing her hand on his cheek.

He pulled her into his embrace, allowing their nearness and body heat to warm their souls against the slightly chilled room.

Taking his hand, she led him back to their bed. Laying him down, she straddled herself on his lap while pulling the blanket back up around them.

They stayed in their intimate pose for several moments, staring into one another’s eyes.

Finally, Deanna leaned down, almost nose-to-nose with Will.

She whispered, "Anytime you need me Imzadi, no matter when or what, I’ll always be there. Promise me that you’ll always remember that."

Will grinned lightly, bringing his pinky finger up and hooking it in hers.

"I promise Deanna. Now and forever-"

The rest of the sentence was forgotten as the two lovers lost themselves in each other.

To be continued in chapter 85

"Then and Again"
 Chapter 85

Two hours later, the chronometer began to beep, waking Will from his slumber.

He had finally fallen in a deep, restful sleep after he and Deanna’s seventh time of making love in the night.

Will never realized he had such stamina. But, even when his body wasn’t quite, up, for the task, Deanna had found ways to stimulate both of them, at least until Will had been given the chance to recover.

"Computer shut off the alarm." He muttered, cursing who ever designed alarm clocks in the first place.

Rolling stiffly to his side but refusing to open his eyes, he reached out blindly for Deanna.

His eyes opened abruptly when his hand met her empty side of the bed.

Getting up slowly, he threw on his robe and wandered downstairs, knowing instinctively that she was close by.

He was astounded to find her sleeping on the couch, a blanket thrown haphazardly over her.

Will bent to her side. "Deanna?" He asked gently, trying to nudge her awake.

She slowly opened her eyes, smiling gently when she saw him. "Good morning." She mumbled.

Sitting up, she stretched her small body and stood, kissing him softly on the lips.

"How are you?" She asked him.

He looked at her puzzled. "Okay, I guess."

Walking towards the kitchen, she began speaking. "Don’t look like that Will, I just needed to put a little distance between us so I could get some rest."

Will looked a bit worried. "Was I keeping you awake?"

Deanna laughed. "Not that I didn’t enjoy us being awake most of the night. But, sometimes our link is so strong, we share dreams. It got to be a bit much last night."

Realization dawned on him. "How long were you awake?"

She walked over to where he had sat in the dining room. Sitting on his lap, she looked directly into his eyes.

"I woke up on my own before you fell asleep the first time. After, I stayed awake in case you needed me."

He pulled her into his embrace. "I always need you Imzadi, every moment of everyday."

"And you’ll always have me Will." She said into his shoulder.

"Thank you." He said, not really knowing if it was appropriate or not.

She laughed gently, causing him to smile. Pulling away from him, she walked towards the kitchen.

"Well, due to our lack of sleep and busy day, I think we need to do the ‘replicator’ thing for breakfast this morning." She said, entering the kitchen.

Will sat back and closed his eyes. He wondered that if ten years from now, things would still be this wonderful.

Finally standing, he began clearing off the untouched, and now spoiled dinner from the table.

To be continued in chapter 86

"Then and Again"

Chapter 86

Some time later, Will exhaustedly walked into the café, seeking a hot meal and several cups of coffee.

The day seemed to be dragging on forever, and the tiredness plaguing his body wasn’t helping any.

Plus, to add to his already wonderful day, Admiral Sorsha called him into her office to tell him that she was dragging him away on a four week trip back to Earth.

Four weeks without Deanna. Will sighed sadly, he didn’t want to go, but he had to. There wasn’t a choice in the matter.

He looked around the café, scanning for a familiar face. He saw Magen seated at one of his favorite tables. She looked upset, and was sitting alone, which was odd.

"Hey, are you okay?" Will asked as he approached her.

Magen looked up from the spot she had been staring at on the table. "No, not really. I just received some news last night which wasn’t too welcome."

Will looked at her curiously. "Is there anything I can do?" He glanced quickly to the approaching waitress, thought about what he wanted, and nodded and she smiled and went to retrieve his order.

Magen sighed. "Not unless you can change a tradition which has been with our people for hundreds of years."

"What tradition would that be?" He asked curiously.

Magen spread her arms out. "I’m a daughter of the Seventh House of Betazed Will."

Will waited, expecting her to continue. But Magen transfixed her eyes to the table again.

"I’m sorry Magen, you lost me."

She looked at him surprisingly at first, and then her face softened. "I’m sorry, I’m not used to dealing with off worlders. As a Daughter of The Seventh House, I was promised to a man named Samuel Neilson as a child. He contacted me last night, reminding me of the vow."

"Promised? What vow? I still don’t understand."

"Marriage Will. All daughters of the houses are promised in marriage at the age of five. Usually, the person you’re promised to never even returns to fulfill the vows, but I’m one of the unlucky few."

His mouth dropped open. "You can’t be serious?"

She nodded. "Yeah, Deanna was promised just as I was. But she’s lucky to have found you before the man she was promised to came looking for her."

"Well, if you don’t want to marry this man, don’t marry him."

Magen shook her head. "It’s tradition Will, we don’t have much of a choice. It’s expected of us. And now, everything I’ve worked for in school is wasted. I won’t even be given the opportunity to graduate."

Will couldn’t help but feel for Magen. Thank goodness Deanna would never be put in this situation.

Magen shook her head again. "So Will, how did it go last night? That was quite an escapade Deanna went through in school yesterday."

He was shell shocked. "Oh my-"

Magen laughed. "Yes Lieutenant, every Betazoid at the college knew what was going on between you and Deanna yesterday afternoon. I bet you had one hell of a night."

Will blushed, hiding his face in his hands as the waitress deposited a pot of coffee on the table for them.

Magen chuckled again. "Don’t worry about it Will. One thing we have on this planet is discretion. If we didn’t, we probably would have ended up killing each other by now."

Will nodded. "I guess you’re right."

Thinking of the night before, he shuddered a bit inwardly. Magen looked quizzically at him.

"What is it Will, what’s wrong?"

He shook his head, hoping she would drop the subject. Of course, she didn’t.

"You feel a bit guilty about something, talking about it may help."

He nodded. "You’re probably right, but I just don’t feel right talking to Deanna about it."

Magen shrugged. "Well, I may not be your Imzadi, but I’m a good listener. Maybe I can help?"

Will thought for a moment. "Maybe you’re right. Can we go somewhere privately to talk?"

Magen nodded, looking concerned. Will placed his thumbprint on the bill PADD, immediately having it charged to his account.

Grabbing half of the sandwich from his otherwise untouched lunch, he lead Magen into the sunshine.

To be continued in chapter 87

"Then and Again"

Chapter 87

They walked silently through the streets for several minutes. Will was still amazed at how quickly the city had rebuilt.

If you were a new visitor to Capital City, you wouldn’t be able to tell that a devastating earthquake had ripped the city apart almost ten weeks before.

All of the destroyed buildings were now completely cleared away. Most businesses were reopened. The rest were in the process of rebuilding and had huge signs announcing their upcoming grand reopening.

Deep down, Will knew the emotional healing would take much longer, and this place would never be completely healed. He and Deanna were living proof of that.

Even after all this time, he still couldn’t get used to the Petersons being gone. This morning, without even thinking, he thought about inviting Dennis to lunch.

Then the memory slammed into him, and oddly enough, Will suddenly felt very alone, amidst the pain of losing his friends.

He’d gone to the café hoping to find someone to have lunch with and had come across Magen.

He knew her only through Deanna, never having much of an opportunity to spend a lot of time with her.

But, he did know Magen was a dear friend of Deanna’s. With both women being daughters of the houses and the same age, it was only natural that they would be close friends. And that was enough for Will to consider her as a friend too.

He felt the need to talk to someone about all of these doubts cascading through his mind. And for a reason unbeknownst to him, he didn’t feel like Deanna was the suitable person.

"Why Will?" He heard Magen ask.

He looked at her strangely and then realized that she had been reading his mind.

"Why do I feel like I can’t talk to Deanna? I don’t know."

Magen nodded. "And why did you lead me here?"

Will stopped walking and looked around at their surroundings. Without even thinking, he’d lead her the empty space that had once been the Peterson home.

Not knowing what else to do, he sat on the edge of the sidewalk. Magen sat next to him, waiting for him to begin.

"I don’t know why I brought you here. I feel like I don’t know anything right now." He replied.

"Will, all of these doubts in your mind right now, where did they come from? When you called me a few days ago to help you set everything up you seemed so sure. What changed that?"

Will shrugged. "I love Deanna, Magen, more than words could ever illustrate."

Magen nodded. "I can sense that Will. And she loves you too."

He nodded in return. "I know. It’s just that-" He paused, trying to sum everything up. "-Now that we’re engaged, it all seems so… real."

"Of course it’s real Will. Did you expect Deanna to say no?"

He shook his head, looking helplessly to the sky.

Glancing at Magen, he noticed how she was looking intently at him. He knew she was looking into his mind, trying to figure out exactly what was bothering him.

So, he showed her all of the dreams and images he could remember from his nightmares the night before, leaving out the parts about The Pegasus.

Magen recoiled at the image of Deanna and their family dying on an unnamed starship while Will stood on the bridge unable to help them.

"Will, let’s pretend that you’re not the Captain on a ship. Let’s say you’re a Lieutenant, like you are now. You just left your quarters for your duty shift, saying goodbye to Deanna and your fifteen kids."

Will cocked an eyebrow to her, his eyes a little wide, causing Magen to grin.

"Okay, three kids. You get to the bridge and all of a sudden a Romulan Warbird decloaks and attacks. Your ship is sustaining heavy damage, and you have to evacuate. What is the first thing you do, off of the top of your head?"

Without thinking he replied, "I do my best to defend my ship and stay loyal to my Captain. When the proper time comes, I evacuate with the rest of the crew."

Magen looked down at her feet. "And what if you find out that Deanna and your children never made it to an escape pod?"

"Magen, Deanna is a Starfleet Officer. She knows proper evacuation procedures. I wouldn’t have to worry about her because I know that she would get our family onboard the pods."

Magen placed her arm on Will’s. "You see that’s where I think part of your problem lies Will. You keep thinking of Deanna as a Starfleet Officer first, and a Mother second. If and when the time comes for you two to start a family, I have a feeling; those roles are going to be reversed. Are you really truly ready to make that sacrifice yourself?"

With that, Magen stood and walked down the street, leaving a confused Will Riker alone.

To be continued in chapter 88

"Then and Again"

Chapter 88

Deanna yawned loudly as she entered the house after her long day at school.

She severely needed a nap, but had too much work to do. She had planned on finding Magen at lunch and loading up on caffeine, but Magen hadn’t been in class this morning, so Deanna joined another group of friends at the school cafeteria.

At least she had received a perfect score on her exam from yesterday, which was a miracle considering what had been going on.

And, the Professor was so impressed by that, he wanted her to lead the class discussion tomorrow, which of course, lead to even more work for her to do tonight.

Entering the study, she put her PADDs down on the desk and felt the familiar tingle of her Mother.

‘Mother, are you here?’ She sent telepathically.

‘Yes Little One, I’m upstairs.’ Came the reply.

Curious, Deanna headed up to see her. Entering the room, she was very surprised to find Lwaxana stretched across her bed reading a book.

‘I thought you were going to be out of town for a few more days?’ Deanna asked.

Lwaxana shrugged. ‘No, the conference ended early thank the deities. Some people can just ramble on and on.’

Deanna clamped her mouth tightly; just to make sure any comments didn’t slip out.

Instead, she climbed onto the bed and lay against her mother, resting her head on Lwaxana’s shoulder.

Lwaxana smiled, bringing her daughter in tightly. Reaching forward, she picked up Deanna’s hand to gaze at her engagement ring.

"So, he finally proposed?" Lwaxana asked, already knowing the answer.

Deanna looked up at her Mother’s face. "What, did he talk to you about it?"

"Of course not, William doesn’t talk to me about anything Little One."

Deanna’s expression turned stern. "So you were reading his mind without his knowledge?"

"He’s very good with Betazoid mind techniques, but not good enough. And if you think I’m going to apologize for looking after my daughter’s best interest then you’ve got another thing coming."

"But Mother, I don’t understand, you always adored Will. But ever since the quake it seems like you’ve totally turned against him."

"No Little One, not at all. I think he’s a wonderful man, and he loves you very much. But, I do believe his priorities are out of order, and until the day comes when he puts that wedding band on your finger, I’ll maintain that stance."


"Shh, Deanna. I’ll try to lighten up on William. We get so little time together anymore, let’s not spoil it."

Deanna nodded and settled into her Mother’s embrace, realizing, though not for the first time, that part of what Lwaxana spoke was true.

And deep down, that nagging feeling which had plagued Deanna ever since she met Will at the Academy returned, louder than ever.

Sadly, Deanna wondered how long she could keep it to herself.

To be continued in chapter 89

"Then and Again"

Chapter 89

Deanna stretched her small body several hours later.

She and her Mother had gone out to dinner. Upon returning, Lwaxana immediately began catching up on her communiqués that had amassed while she was gone.

Deanna had finally started the arduous task of her work. It had seemed never ending, and now that it was almost 2300 hours, she decided it was time to throw in the towel.

She was exhausted, and had another long day ahead of her tomorrow. She idly wondered where Will was.

As she walked upstairs, she opened her mind to find him. Immediately, she knew that he was at the tavern a block away from the embassy with friends.

Feeling her mind brush with his, he pulled away from his conversation for a moment.

‘A few friends wanted to take me out to congratulate me on our engagement, I hope you don’t mind.’

She smiled as she walked into their bedroom. ‘Of course not Will. I’m not going to tie you down to the bed and not let you ever go out.’

The image that popped into their minds caused them both to blush. Amused, Will said ‘I tried calling earlier but no one answered.’

‘Yes, Mister Zeloh is off visiting his family, so Mother and I went out to dinner. We had a nice evening together.’

‘That sounds great. Sorsha called me into her office, there’s something I need to talk to you about tonight. Will you still be up in about fifteen minutes?’

‘I was just heading to bed now, but I can wait for you.’

‘Okay, I’ll be there shortly.’ Hesitantly, he added, ‘I love you Deanna.’

She smiled as she began undressing. ‘I love you too Will, see you soon.’

After sliding the silk nightgown on to her body, she picked up her hairbrush from the vanity and began brushing her long locks.

Moments later, her eyes felt too heavy to keep open. Climbing on to the bed, she laid her head down, hoping that Will would simply wake her when he arrived home.

But by the time Will was able to free himself from his friends and get home, Deanna was already deep asleep.

Knowing that he’d kept her awake most of the night before, he didn’t have the heart to wake her again tonight.

So, he let her sleep, vowing that he’d talk to her in the morning.

Alas, when the chronometer woke him at 0700 the next morning, he turned to see his beautiful Imzadi wake.

But, she was already gone. Climbing from bed, Will found a note blinking on the message screen of the chronometer.


I had to be at school early to speak to one of my professors about a presentation I have to make today. I’ll see you later when I get home.


‘Damn!’ Will thought. Not only did he not get to tell her that he was leaving for a month, but all of the things regarding their future he wanted to talk to her about would have to wait too.

Reaching out to her with his mind, he found hers almost completely blocked, as she was already deep in discussion with her professor.

Sighing he gave up. Showering and dressing quickly, he grabbed the bag that he’d packed the night before from the closet.

Going down the main stairwell, he saw Lwaxana strolling into the foyer from the living room.

"No breakfast Lieutenant?" She asked.

He shook his head. "No, I have to be at the embassy early." Quickly, he exited out the front door.

Lwaxana abandoned her breakfast idea herself. Taking her cup of tea back into the living room, she sat in her favorite chair overlooking the fireplace.

Up on the mantle, littered with pictures of Ian, Deanna, Elyssia and the rest of Peterson and Troi families throughout the various stages of their lives, was one that held Lwaxana’s attention.

It was an image taken almost six years before. Elyssia snapped the photo the day they’d arrived on Risa if Lwaxana’s memory served her correctly.

Will was sitting in a chair, with Deanna on his lap. His arms were wrapped around her, his chin resting on her shoulder. They were smiling broadly, obviously happy.

Sipping her tea, Lwaxana wondered how much longer that photo would sit there before she would have to take it down to spare Deanna the heartache.

To be continued in chapter 90

"Then and Again"

Chapter 90

By the time Deanna returned home late that afternoon, the only thing she could concentrate on was sleep.

Walking slowly up the stairs, she opened her mind to see if anyone was home.

Luckily, the house was empty.

Entering her bedroom, she was almost certain she could hear the bed calling her name.

Placing her PADDs down on the desk, she noticed the message light blinking on the chronometer.

Deciding that a nap sounded much nicer, she opted to wait before checking the messages.

Not even bothering to change, she crawled into bed and let the world around her melt away.

At the Embassy, Will once again checked to see if there were any messages from Deanna.

Receiving another negative response, he sighed.

Deanna should be home by now. He left the message asking her to contact him before he left.

He wanted a chance to say goodbye, needed the chance, knowing that he wouldn’t be seeing her for at least four weeks.

But now, it was time to leave, so the opportunity was lost.

Exiting his office he tried reaching out to Deanna telepathically one more time.

But, he received no response again.

Either she was busy, blocking her mind so she could concentrate solely on her task at hand, or she was sleeping.

Nodding to Admiral Sorsha as she left her office, they walked to the awaiting shuttle to begin the long trip to Earth. She awoke slowly, almost allowing an audible sigh of contentment to escape her lips.

She felt much better after her two hour nap.

Wandering slowly into the bathroom, she glanced menacingly at the blinking message light.

Finishing up, she settled herself at the desk. Punching in her access code, she sighed seeing that the first message was from her mother.

‘We live in the same house, why can’t she just tell me?’ She wondered, not for the first time.

Smiling, she discovered the next message was from Will.

After reading the first few lines, her good mood declined sharply. Four weeks… he had to leave for four weeks?!

Sighing, she wiped her right hand down her face, hoping the figment of her imagination would disappear.

Alas, no. The message was still there. She finished reading it, realizing that Will wanted to talk to her before he left.

Glancing at the chronometer, she saw that she was too late. He had left over an hour ago.

Cursing herself, she wrote all the details of his trip down, intent on having a huge apology message waiting for him when he arrived.

Three days later, Will walked into his temporary apartment on Earth, near Starfleet Headquarters.

He noticed the light on his message chronometer blinking. He prayed that it was Deanna, he needed to have some contact with her, no matter what type it was.

Three lousy days and he already missed her terribly. This was going to be a long month.

Throwing his bag on the bed and sitting at the desk, he clicked open the messages.

"Yes! Two from Deanna!" He exclaimed out loud, not caring that he was the only one in the room.

Opening the first, he was a bit disappointed to discover it to be only a short written message.


Do not proceed further in your messages until your ‘gift’ arrives.


His curiosity was piqued. Staring at the message index, he realized that if he peeked at the next message, Deanna would never know.

"BEEP, access denied."

"WHAT?!" The message was password protected. ‘Damn her’ he thought, smiling at exactly how well Deanna knew him.

Will stood from the chair and moved to the bed, sitting on the edge of it, staring at the door.

After twenty minutes, he gave up. He began to unpack, glaring menacingly at the chronometer from time to time.


Will sprinted to answer the door chime.

A young man was standing there, holding a gift wrapped box. Will gladly gave his thumbprint, and rushed back inside.

Tearing open the box, he was amused to find a small slip of paper with an access code written on it.

‘For the message.’ He smiled.

Removing the tissue paper, he almost choked. Finding a small violet colored lace bra and a very skimpy, matching pair of see through panties.

He stood fingering the delicate garments for a few moments. Holding them in his hands, he went to the computer and opened the message.

He smiled when Deanna’s recorded face appeared on the screen.

A beautiful smile lit her face, but also a hint of sadness.

"Hello Will, I’m so sorry that I missed speaking with you before you left. But, I wanted to let you know that I miss you already, so the next few weeks are going to be dreadful.

Therefore, I wanted to send you something to remember me by. And just so you know, what came in that box is a gift for you. The minute you get home, I’ll gladly put those on and succumb to your every want and desire. So, try not to stay away too long.

I love you dearly Will, and I’ll talk to you soon." Another smile and she blew a small kiss to the screen right before it blackened.

Smiling, Will sat back in his chair and fingered the lacy garments again.

Damn, this was going to be a HORRIBLE month!

To be continued in chapter 91

"Then and Again"

Chapter 91

Seven weeks later, Will entered the silent Troi home on Betazed.

He looked around the dark foyer in relief, glad to finally be home after the extended trip to Earth.

He had spoken to Deanna four days ago via subspace message. After their brief conversation, he realized that he missed her more than he thought was possible.

When he’d first left Betazed, four weeks seemed like forever; he wouldn’t be able to share a thought with Deanna, or to reach over and feel her warm body next to him in bed, or hear the richness of her laughter.

But, four weeks had turned into seven, and he wasn’t even sure that he could remember the smell of her shampoo, the feel of her body pressed against his.

He needed to be with her, even if for only five minutes. But now that he was back, he house was empty save for himself.

Deanna had left with her Mother for the Betazoid Trade Conference on Rigel IV. They wouldn’t be back for another three weeks. If it wasn't his duties to Starfleet, it was hers as Daughter of the Fifth House that kept them in different parts of the universe.

Will had tried to get a few days shore leave so he could join her on Rigel, but Admiral Sorsha insisted that he was needed at the Embassy.

‘Yeah, she needs me to do more of her paperwork.’ He thought. He knew that being planet side all this time was getting to him, and being Sorsha’s secretary was wearing his patience thin.

While on Earth, many of his friends and colleagues had wondered what he was still doing on Betazed. And, aside from Deanna, he couldn’t give them an answer. He longed to be back on a ship amongst the stars, but the pull to be with Deanna was just as strong.

He idly wondered if it was cosmic and how long his restless soul would be content, even for the love of a lifetime.

Will didn’t even bother turning any lights on in the house. Heading straight for his and Deanna’s bedroom, he paused at the doorway before turning on the light.

‘Yes, that’s it. That’s what I’ve missed.’ He thought.

The entire room smelled like ‘her’. Her soap, her shampoo, of everything Deanna.

The heartache in his soul became almost unbearable. Dropping his bag in the middle of the floor, he walked slowly to the bed.

Not bothering with his clothes or shoes, he crawled under the blankets and curled himself around her pillow.

Breathing her essence in deeply, he closed his eyes and reveled in what little of her he had, wishing with all his might she would return to him soon.

They still had so much to talk about, and she had a promise to fulfill. Thinking of that, Will feel asleep, thinking of the violet colored gifts Deanna had sent to Earth.

With a small smile on his face, he dreamed of how he planned to collect on the fantasies of the last seven weeks.

To be continued in chapter 92

"Then and Again"

Chapter 92

Nine days later, Will lie in bed reading another report that required Admiral Sorsha’s approval.

Will idly wondered when she had decided that he’d make the perfect secretary for her.

‘Ah yes, let Lieutenant Riker read all of her paperwork, give her the rundown of what it’s about, and she’ll put her thumbprint of approval on it.’

Sullenly, he shook his head. It wasn’t always like this. Immediately after the earthquake, Sorsha was a pleasure to work with.

But now, it seemed as if she was doing whatever she could to piss him off.

If Deanna wasn’t in his life, he’d transfer off of Betazed so damn quick Sorsha’s head would spin.

Will never realized how much he was missing by staying planet side. Most of the people he’d graduated school with were already promoted to Lieutenant Commander, where as Sorsha had never mentioned a promotion.

While on Earth, Will had attempted to speak to her about it. After fetching her cup of coffee and rearranging her meeting schedule, she sent him scampering on his way, without even getting a word out of his mouth.

However, Will knew he wanted to move through the ranks. His goal had always been to be a Captain. Having a ship of his own would fulfill his biggest dream in life, and Sorsha just wasn’t going to help him achieve that.

Will stood and walked to the closet. Opening the door, he pulled one of Deanna’s nightgowns out.

He held it against his cheek, feeling the softness and wishing to all of Betazed’s gods that she were here with him.

He wanted her, needed her here. They had so much to talk about; most of it dealing with the future.

With Deanna gone, his monotonous routine droned on day after day after day.

Wake up, shower, go to the Embassy, come home, eat dinner, sleep.

His body ached for his Imzadi, his soul crying out for the one who could fill his entire being.

Unfortunately, she was a light year away, shaking hands and posing for photos with her Mother.

Still feeling sorry for himself, he went back to his position on the bed, taking the nightgown with him.

Picking up the report, he began reading it again.

Suddenly, the PADD fell from his hand.

He felt something… a tingle… one that was entirely familiar.

Getting off the bed, he walked slowly into the hallway, hoping that what his mind was telling him was true.

Standing at the top of the stairwell, he stared at the front door.

After several moments, the door opened slowly, causing Will’s heart to scream in joy.

Deanna was home. Will ran down the steps, almost losing his balance on the way down.

Looking up, her face lit into a brilliant smile. She ran forward and met him at the base of the stairs.

They grabbed a hold of each other and forgot all the troubles in the world around them.

Now that they were together, the world was exactly as it should be.

To be continued in chapter 93

"Then and Again"

Chapter 93

Their souls reached out for one another, taking hold and fusing together, until they coalesced as one.

They remained silent in one another’s embrace for several moments; reveling in the feel of finally being together, allowing their minds and souls the time they had craved for the past several weeks.

The extended separation had been torture for both of them. It was much more than just being in different parts of the universe. It seemed as though they weren't whole unless they were together. Neither seemed to be able to function at their peak without knowing the other was close by and within reach if they were needed.

And, this knowledge was overwhelming, to say the least.

Reluctantly pulling apart, Will cradled her face in his hands. "I didn’t think you’d be home for another two weeks or so."

She smiled slightly. "I wasn’t supposed to be. I used the excuse of needing to help Magen with her wedding to slip away."

Will kissed her passionately, leaving both their bodies feeling numb from the sensations that immediately coursed through their veins.

"I’m certainly glad you got away early." He whispered.

She pulled back from him and looked deep into his eyes. "You just seemed so sad when we talked a few days ago. "

Will sighed, walking past her to close the door that she’d left open.

"Yeah, there’s been a lot on my mind lately. I missed you."

Deanna looked at him concerned. "I know that we have a lot to talk about Will."

He smiled sheepishly. "I believe that there is a purple outfit up in our bedroom that you promised to model for me."

Deanna looked down to the floor. "I’ll definitely do that for you, but for now, I feel that we really need to get this out in the open. It’s been eating at you for weeks. We’d both feel better if we had this talk first.’

Will sighed. "Can’t blame me for trying, huh?"

Nodding her agreement, she took his hand and lead him through the house and out onto the patio.

As she settled onto the antique glider swing, Deanna wiggled around until she was facing Will with her legs crossed.

Seeing her pose, Will turned to face her, nestling one of his legs against hers.

Deanna reached forward and took both of his hands in hers.

And then, she waited.

To be continued in Chapter 94

"Then and Again"

Chapter 94

The warm, gentle night breeze was the only sound throughout the back of the estate.

The swing rocked silently back and forth, but neither occupant spoke a word.

Deanna resisted the urge to probe Will's mind and emotions wanting to give him the opportunity to open up to her on his own. Hoping he would have enough faith in their trust and love to open his heart to her.

Will had tried, several times in fact, but every time the words just couldn’t come… wouldn’t come.

After a few failed attempts, he stared at the sky. "Nice night." He eventually commented hoping to prolong the inevitable, aware at the same time it was impossible.

Deanna sighed. "Will-"

"I know. Did Magen speak to you?"

Deanna looked a bit confused. "Magen? No. Did you talk to her about any of these things weighing on your mind?"

Will nodded, and then realized by Deanna’s expression that she was hurt.

Hurriedly, he said, "No Deanna, it’s not like that. I just needed a noninvolved third party and Magen volunteered."

Deanna shook her head slightly, although Will didn’t think she looked convinced.

"So?" She asked.

"I love you so very much, you know that right?" He started.

She nodded again, fiddling with his hands.

"There are just… so many things that I never thought about before."

"Like what?"

"The past few weeks when we were apart, Deanna that was so incredibly hard. What’s going to happen when we’re separated for months at a time?"

Deanna thought for a moment. "We’ll adjust Will. We may not like it, but our careers may make it necessary. But, we’ll adapt and our relationship will be even stronger for it."

"But Deanna… what if it’s not? What if being separated causes us to drift apart? What if-"

Deanna gently put a hand to his lips. "Will aren’t you listening to yourself?" He looked quizzically at her. "What do you mean?"

"’What if’s’ Will. Everything you’re saying is ‘what if’ this and ‘what if’ that. We can’t base our entire lives on things that may never happen. There are no constants in this life, except for our love for each other. Everything else is ever changing."

It was his turn to look unconvinced.

Deanna took his hand again. "Will, what if you weren’t accepted into the Academy? What if you flunked out? What if you were injured on The Pegasus? What if, when you proposed, I said ‘no’?"

Will fell deep into thought again. "I understand your point, but Deanna, I’m terrified of losing you."

"Pulling away from me isn’t the way to face that fear Imzadi. Your *fear* will paralyze you if you allow it. In order to move forward and continue to grow, you have got to find a way to work through that. I'm not going anywhere, Will. You need to believe in our love and the future we are building together."

He looked at her surprised, not even realizing that he had done that. But, he acquiesced.

"I know. You’re right. But Deanna, my relationship with my father is horrible. I haven’t spoken to him in years. What if our children feel like that about me? Our careers… My God, if I’m stuck on the bridge and the ship is in danger, what if one of our children dies because I couldn’t save them?"

Surprising Will, Deanna wrapped her arms around him pulling him close.

"That tells me that you’re starting to think like a responsible parent. But again Will, more ‘what ifs’. I think our children will be strong, healthy, smart and beautiful. And I think they’re going to love their daddy as much as their mommy does. Danger in their lives is something we face everyday. Look at the way my father died. He was walking down the street, and just that quick he was gone."

He pulled out of her embrace and refused to look into her face.

Deanna studied his emotions for a moment and then sucked in a deep breath.

"Will, do you even want to have children?"

He stood and walked a few steps away. "I always thought that I did. But now, every time I think of us having children, I imagine these horrible things happening to them. Damn Deanna, losing Katie and Cassie was horrible, and they weren’t even our children. What if that was OUR children who were crushed to death in that house?"

He turned back to her, positive that he’d made her cry. However, by the angry look on her face, he knew he had misjudged how she might react.

"And what if this house was the one that had collapsed? What if I was crushed to death laying in our bed upstairs?" She snapped.

He could feel his temper flaring. "And what if I was five light years away, not even close enough to be able to mourn you properly?!"

Deanna kicked her legs, causing the swing to rock violently back and forth.

Will knew she was simmering, and prayed like hell that they could continue a rational conversation.

"So what do you want to do Will? Lock me in a bubble and never let me out? What will you do when you have a nightmare, let me out of the bubble long enough to sexually drive the nightmare away? Then you can just zip me right back up until the next time you decide to have a bad night!"

As soon as the words left her mouth, she immediately regretted it. She jumped off the swing, rushing to him.

"Gods Will, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that."

Will glared down at her. "Do you really believe that I’m using you for sex?"

She shook her head. "No, not at all. That was a stupid thing for me to say, I’m sorry."

He turned from her once again. "Do you know that I turned down a commission on the Gaia to be here with you after the earthquake?"

Deanna dropped her head. "Yes, I do Will."

He spun on her, surprised. "How-?"

"Admiral Sorsha stopped by the University to see me the day she offered the position to you. You never said anything about it, so I concluded that you didn’t accept. You don’t have to stall your career for me, Will. I never asked you to do that."

"I thought it was the right decision at the time."

Deanna walked back to the swing. "Do you regret it now?" She asked.

Contemplating he admitted truthfully, "Now that I’ve become Admiral Sorsha’s secretary, yeah I do."

Deanna’s heart broke at the thought of him leaving Betazed while she was still in school. But, deep down, she knew it was inevitable.

"You do what you have to do Will."

He walked to her, bending down to her level. Taking her hands, he looked deep into her eyes. "Don’t Deanna, please don’t give up on us like that."

Will’s heart melted when he felt her tears on his hands. "Deanna- please talk to me. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Don’t shut me out."

She sniffled a bit and dropped her head onto his shoulder. "So what do you want Will? Do you want to break off the engagement?"

Horrified at the notion, "God No! Deanna, my God no. We’re going to be together forever. I’ve promised you that, and I’ll never break my promise to you."

Pulling away again, she admitted to him for the first time, "I wish I could believe that you’ll never break that promise Will. But, I can’t… I just can’t."

Completely overwhelmed and at a loss as to what else to say; they wrapped themselves around each other again, neither quite sure what the conversation actually accomplished.

Deep in Deanna’s soul, she thought for sure that this night, quite possibly, marked the beginning of the end.

To be continued in chapter 95


"Then and Again"

Chapter 95

The next several weeks were very unsettled, often times strained.

Although they were the only people staying in the house most of the time, they rarely saw or spoke to one another. It was as if they were two ships that passed in the night, always knowing the other was there and yet not really sure how to approach the other.

They were no longer acting and living as a couple. It was almost a masquerade if it wasn't for the fact it was quietly tearing them both apart.

The complex thoughts and emotions seemed to be pushing them farther apart instead of the engagement bringing them closer together.

They both longed for the same thing although neither had a clue as to how to tell the other or to make it happen.

Both were on the cusp of a career they had dreamed of and the life they wished to share together and yet, something kept all of it from being blissfully theirs.

Deanna was on a short summer break from school, but most of her days and evenings were spent either with charity work, or helping Magen with her upcoming nuptial plans.

Will would wake up early; quickly eat a replicated meal and head to the Embassy, where he was bogged down until evening.

By the time he would arrive home, Deanna would be gone. By the time she would arrive home, he would be in bed.

The same schedule was kept day after day. Neither was sure if they were doing it on purpose, but they felt that the habitual pattern was a lot easier to deal with than the fact of what was really happening in their lives.

With the wedding approaching so quickly, along with Deanna’s summer classes starting soon, she definitely had a lot of things to keep her busy.

But, she knew that avoiding Will wouldn’t solve a thing, it would just increase the gap between them that seemed to have been growing and growing for weeks.

Attempting to clear her mind before entering the house, she opened her senses to anyone who might be inside.

To be her surprise, Will was home. It was odd for him to be home this early, and she hoped they would be able to spend a nice evening together.

Walking into the foyer, the bright light from overhead put a glare on her engagement ring, causing the stone to twinkle. Deanna held her hand out, looking sadly at the ring.

"You look so sad Deanna." She heard him say.

Deanna forced a fake smile and turned to him. "I’m okay." She said.

He didn’t believe her, and she knew it. "You’ve never lied to me before." He said.

Deanna set her belongings on a nearby table. Turning back to him, she shook her head.

"I’m not lying to you exactly Will. I’m just very tired and don’t want to get into another argument with you."

He walked forward. "I don’t want that either. I came home early to get dinner ready. Please, let’s just have a nice evening together, no talk about weddings or school or Starfleet. Just us."

This sounded like heaven to them both. Neither could remember the last quality time spent with each other that didn't include a disagreement over something, no matter how trivial.

Deanna glanced around. "Where’s Mother?" He shrugged. "She said she would be back extremely late and left with Zeloh in tow."

Deanna walked forward and wrapped her arms around Will. He in turn pulled her tight, resting his chin on her head.

"You know it’s really ironic." He said softly.

"What is?"

"The fact that we fit physically together like this… like a puzzle."

Deanna snickered. "Just one of those mystical things, huh?"

Will smiled. Hand in hand, they walked into the dining room.

To be continued in chapter 96

"Then and Again:

Chapter 96

Will leaned against the headboard watching Deanna patter from one end of the bedroom to the other.

The day of the wedding had finally arrived.

Will couldn’t help but feel a bit disgusted by the whole affair.

However, who was he to dictate how Betazoids should live?

Actually, not all Betazoids, just the daughters of the houses.

He still thought the practice was archaic and a bit ridiculous.

Deanna rushed out of the bathroom again muttering something about her ‘stupid hair’.

"So do you know anything about the man you were promised to?"

Deanna stopped and looked at him strangely. "A little bit."

Will continued looking at her, a crooked grin on his face.

"His name is Wyatt Miller. His father and mine had been friends for years. We were bonded when we were five."

"And he never came looking for you?"

Deanna shook her head, sitting on the edge of the bed next to Will. "I’ve never heard a word from him, which is fine with me."

Will smiled. "I wonder if he knows what he’s missing?" He playfully said, waggling his eyebrows.

Blushing, Deanna returned the smile. "Do you mean life with my Mother?" She teased.

Will grabbed his heart in mock pain, causing Deanna to laugh.

"The wedding is in a little more than an hour Imzadi, we really do need to finish getting ready."

Deanna began to stand but Will stopped her. She looked at him perplexed.

He leaned close to her until they were almost face-to-face.

"That’s the first time I’ve heard that word in weeks. I’ve missed it." He whispered, barely audible.

She leaned closer, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

"No matter what happens Will, we’ll always be Imzadi."

He smiled and got up after her, walking to the closet and pulling out his dress uniform.

He looked at it dejectedly, but said nothing.

"What’s wrong with gold Will?" He heard her ask.

"Nothing, I’d just much rather be wearing red at the moment," He responded, slipping the top on.

Deanna came from behind and turned him around. "I think you would look very handsome in red. At least you’re not stuck in blue the entire run of your Starfleet career."

She began doing the clasps up on the tunic as he smiled down at her. "You could always go into command, you know."

Deanna laughed lightly. "Oh, I’d hate to see what kind of ship that would be if I was the captain." She said, causing them both to laugh.

After finishing with Will, she walked to her dresser, extracting a box from the top drawer.

Will felt a hint of sadness as soon as he saw the box.

It was one of the Christmas presents Elyssia had bestowed on Deanna.

Watching her open it, he walked up to stand next to her.

Inside were dozens of ornamental hair bands and barrettes, all of which Elyssia had crafted by hand.

"I wonder how many other hidden talents she had that we didn’t know about?" He commented, causing Deanna to laugh.

She selected one that matched her burgundy gown perfectly.

"I try to wear one of these everyday. It makes me feel like I have a piece of her with me everywhere I go."

Will picked up her hairbrush and began running it through her long mane.

She closed her eyes to the feel of his hands touching her. Finally, she lifted her hands and snapped the large barrette in place.

Turning, she kissed Will on the cheek and walked into the bathroom with her dress.

Will knew why too. If she had even attempted to dress in front of him, there would be absolutely no way they’d make it to the wedding on time."

Sighing, he finished dressing just in time for Deanna to emerge fully dressed.

"Wow, you look beautiful." He told her.

She smiled her gratitude and hooked her arm with his, leading them out of the bedroom.

At the bottom of the stairs, Deanna stopped long enough to put her wrap around her bare shoulders.

As they walked out the door she said, "I don’t even know why we spend so much time getting ready. We just have to take it all off when we get there anyway."

Will stopped in his tracks on the walkway. "Excuse me?" He asked, positive that he’d heard her wrong.

Only, she didn’t answer. She simply smiled enigmatically and continued walking.

To be continued in chapter 97

"Then and Again"

Chapter 97

‘Oh My God!’ Will exclaimed to himself for at least the twelfth time since they’d left the house.

He was standing in the middle of the chapel where the wedding was being held.

He was also standing in the middle of dozens of naked people, all of who seemed totally oblivious to their nudity.

His eyes scanned the crowd for Deanna and found her communicating silently with an older woman, approximately Lwaxana’s age.

Deanna inclined her head in Will’s direction, waving him over to where they were standing.

Except, he stood like a stone statue where he was, feeling that since he’d removed his clothing, he was completely unable to move.

Deanna looked at him strangely. Excusing herself, she walked over to Will.

‘What’s wrong?’ She asked innocently.

He glared at her. ‘Besides the fact that I’m standing completely nude in front of dozens of people I don’t know?’ He asked incredulously.

Deanna fought a grin. ‘I never knew you were shy Imzadi.’

He continued glaring at her. ‘You know, you, Lwaxana, Magen… anyone of you three vixens could have warned me ahead of time.’

Deanna burst into laughter, causing everyone in the room to look at them.

She quickly silenced herself allowing the room to fall silent again. The other guests turned back to their conversations, for which Will was thankful.

The least amount of eyes that were on him the better off he’d be.

Deanna looked at him, smirking. ‘Will, there’s a big plant over there, would you like to go hide behind it?’

‘No, I’d rather have my clothes on!’ He said grumpily.

‘Will, I told you that removing your clothing wasn’t necessary.’

‘Yeah, but then everyone would think I was weird because I am dressed!’

‘Well, well Imzadi. I guess you were at quite an impasse, huh?’

‘Deanna… so explain to me again why your weddings are nude.’

‘I told you Will, it’s to celebrate the act of love that’s being honored.’

He looked at her questioningly, so she continued. ‘When was the last time you made love dressed?’

He looked at her in shock. ‘Okay now you’re lying to me. Besides, Magen doesn’t even know this guy she’s marrying, let alone love him.’ He pointed out.

She snickered. ‘Come over here Will, the head daughter of the First House of Betazed wants to meet my handsome fiancé.’

He looked down at her again. ‘Why am I thinking that the plant over there is looking more and more appealing?’

Together, they walked across the sea of naked people.

To be continued in chapter 98


"Then and Again"

Chapter 98

It seemed like hours had gone by since Deanna had started introducing Will to the various guests.

In reality, it had only been about half and hour, but the passage of time hadn’t made Will feel anymore comfortable.

Finally, at the end of the ‘waiting area’, as Will had dubbed it; the large ornate doors were thrown open by two men.

And much to Will’s chagrin, they were nude too.

He sighed deeply, trying to remain in the spirit of the event. But, nudity aside, Will couldn’t quite get into the spirit of the event. Especially considering that Magen was marrying a man she didn’t love.

Deanna, sensing his mixed emotions, reached out and took his hand, squeezing it in a show of support.

He smiled down to her in acknowledgment. But, deep down, he had to admit that he was curious as to what exactly a Betazoid wedding ceremony entailed.

After all, he and Deanna would soon start planning their own wedding.

Walking through the ornate doors, Will stopped dead in his tracks when he saw what was happening at the front of the room.

Women… gorgeous, naked women were dancing at the front of the chapel. Glancing down at his own nude body he though ‘Okay you, please behave yourself’.

He caught Deanna looking at him, a knowing smirk on her face. Leaning over to him, she whispered, "It’s okay to react Will, it’s a very sensual ceremony. For anyone to get ‘aroused’ is natural."

Will rolled his eyes. Deanna led him to a seat towards the front. After settling into his cloth seat he noticed that Deanna had coyly put her hand on his upper thigh.

He leaned over to her. "Can you just imagine the sight of me sitting here with a reaction to you?" He asked.

"To me?" She gasped, a bit too innocently. "That would probably make a cute photo for the reporters."

"Re- reporters?" He choked out.

"Of course, it’s not everyday that a daughter of the Seventh House gets married."

Will sunk down in his chair as far as he could without falling on the floor. And much to his chagrin, Deanna had now begun massaging his thigh gently.

And of course, just like a good Starfleet officer, he was ‘standing at attention’ for his Captain.

Thankfully, Deanna had finished her taunting. The sound of familiar Betazoid chimes marked the beginning of the marriage ceremony.

The groom entered the room first. And Will almost jumped from his seat.

He was fully clothed! Will jerked his vision to Deanna who was trying to mask her amusement.

‘Samuel and his family are human, they didn’t feel comfortable doing this naked.’

‘Son of a bitch’ he thought.

The dancers finally finished their strange dance as the chimes sounded again. Deanna patted Will’s leg and stood, along with two other women he’d been introduced to earlier.

They walked to the doors that they’d originally entered from. Deanna reached her hand out and took the hand of someone who was hidden outside.

Deanna turned and stepped forward, and Will realized whose hand she was holding when Magen stepped through the door.

The two women who had risen with Deanna stepped forward, each holding a white headband in their hand with gold stripes along the side.

Deanna and Magen bowed their heads allowing the two women to place the headbands around their hair.

When their heads were raised again, Will realized that the number of stripes along the band corresponded with what House they were from.

Deanna, now wearing her five-striped headband led Megan to the front of the chapel.

During the ‘banding ceremony’, what appeared to be a clergyman of some sort had entered from a side door at the front of the chapel.

The moment Deanna and Magen approached, he began repeating lines from a leather bound book that he held in his hands.

Deanna repeated the words and turned to Magen. Magen dropped to one knee with her head bowed in front of Deanna.

Deanna leaned down, kissed Magen on the head and waved her hands.

Magen rose to Deanna’s signal. Deanna then took her hand and led her to Samuel, joining their hands.

Bowing once more, she returned to her seat next to Will.

He heard her sigh quietly; knowing that the act she had just performed didn’t exactly make her happy. He reached out and took her hand, bringing it up to his face and kissing her knuckles gently.

She smiled a bit sadly to him. They both turned their attention back to the ceremony, thanking the gods that they found each other so Deanna would never have to go through anything like this.

To be continued in chapter 99

"Then and Again"

Chapter 99

Will was extremely happy that the ceremony was finally over. He rushed from his seat back into the waiting area and began throwing his clothes back on.

He could hear several Betazoids, Deanna included, snickering at him behind his back, but he didn’t care.

By the time Deanna even had her clothes off the hangers he was already completely covered.

She shook her head and continued to smile. ‘Don’t worry Will, when we get married I promise I’ll let you keep your clothes on.’

He looked down at her. ‘I hope that doesn’t mean our wedding night too.’ He said playfully.

She simply smiled, raising her eyebrows.

The few people who were finished dressing began moving through a set of glass doors and into the garden area where the reception was to be held.

Will knew that the reception was themed to one of Magen’s favorite periods of history, the late twentieth century.

Colorful party lanterns were hung from tree to tree, bathing the garden in golden light.

Huge banquet tables loaded with food were set in a ‘L’ shape on the far side of the wooden dance floor which had been set up.

At the head of the garden, another large table, presumably for the groom and bride was set and waiting. Smaller round tables were spread through the rest of the garden, all set with fine china and glasses.

As soon as the guests began entering, the outer lights dimmed to allow the majority of light to come from the lanterns.

Deanna led Will to the head table. As they sat, Will felt a bit foolish sitting there.

"Will, I’m the Head Matron of the wedding, I’m supposed to sit with the bride." Deanna laughed.

Will smiled to her. "I just can’t get over parading around nude in front of all these people."

Deanna laughed again as the other guests continued to stream into the garden.

Finally, everyone rose and burst into applause. Magen and her new husband entered the garden area, smiles on both of their faces.

They made their way slowly to the head table. Magen stopped before Deanna and they embraced one another. Magen reached her hand out behind Deanna and squeezed Will’s hand.

Breaking away, she took her seat next to Samuel. Several servers appeared from inside the chapel and began dishing out food and drink to everyone.

The party was definitely underway.

After finishing their meals, Deanna had excused herself to go speak with someone, leaving Will sitting next to Magen. Once Samuel left the table with his family, he leaned over to her.

"So Magen, are you really okay? I know you weren’t to happy when you first found out."

Magen forced a smile to someone who came by. Once they were out of sight, she dropped the smile and looked at him.

"I wasn’t too happy, you’re right. But, this is who I am, it’s tradition. Samuel and I have come to some compromises, and he’s really a great person. Who knows, maybe it will work?"

Will nodded and looked to Deanna who was just coming back to the table. She sat down, depositing new glasses of champagne for Will, Magen and herself.

Magen looked at her smiling. "I can’t believe you had all of this imported from Earth! I swear you’re trying to get me drunk."

Deanna grinned. "Wait until your Father gets the bill."

The rest of the evening progressed just as smoothly. Magen and Samuel shared their first dance, inviting all the other guests to join in.

Deanna was leaning on Will’s shoulder, watching the evening progress. Eventually, Will stood and bowed at the waist to Deanna, holding his hand out in invitation.

She smiled and stood, accepting the offer to dance. Magen noticed them heading towards the dance floor and broke apart from Samuel, rushing to the woman who was controlling the music.

Will noticed Magen’s actions and wondered what she was plotting. He saw her nod and smile. Turning, she walked back to her husband and continued their dance.

That was when the strains of the most beautiful song Will had ever heard began to play.

Will and Deanna held each other close, letting the beginning melody of the song control their coordinated movements.

The words began:

"I would walk to the edge of the universe for you
Paint you a crimson sunset over sheltering skies
I could learn all the world dialects for you
Whisper sonnets in your ear discovering truth
I could never worship pagan gods around me
I will only follow the path that leads me to you baby... always

Every step I take for you
I will always defend, never pretend
That every breath I take for love
I could never be wrong, the journey is long
With miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep..."

Will was sure he could feel his heart melting into Deanna’s soul. He pulled her closer, hoping that somehow their souls could reach out and join again like they used to. It had been so long since he’d felt that sensation, and he missed it desperately.

"I would carry the rock of Gibraltar just for you
Lifted like a pebble from the beach to the skies
I could build you a bridge that spans the ocean wide
But the greatest gift I give you would be to stand by your side
Some can criticize and sit in judgment of us
But they can't take away the love that lives inside us always

Every step I take for you
I will always defend, never pretend
That every breath I take for love
I could never be wrong, the journey is long
With miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep..."

Deanna laid her head on Will’s chest, allowing his warmth and love to permeate her mind and soul. His emotions were in turmoil, cascading between hope and love, confusion and affection, desire and wanting, hope and promise. She in turn reached her mind out, cradling his like a newborn, forever safe in her arms.

"I won't run from the changing signs along the highway
Let the rivers flow to the highest ground created

Every step I take for you
I will always defend, never pretend
That every breath I take for love
I could never be wrong, the journey is long
With miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep..."

Through the words of a song written hundreds of years ago, their forgotten promise was forged again. Looking deeply in each other’s eyes, the windows directly into the souls they both knew so well opened once again.

As the song slowly ended, their lips brushed together softly. She nodded to his unspoken thought.

Holding hands, they slipped quietly from the reception. Several yards behind their retreating forms, Magen and Samuel continued to dance. Seeing Will and Deanna leave the reception, she leaned to Samuel’s ear and whispered something.

They smiled and laughed that her plan had worked so brilliantly. Resting her head on his shoulder, they continued to dance the night away.

To be continued in chapter 100

"Then and Again"

Chapter 100

Strong R/NC17 Content Warning

They had barely gotten through their bedroom door when their lips had locked together causing them to lose their balance and almost fall to the floor.

Their hands began tearing at one another’s clothing, freeing each piece as quickly as possible and tossing it to some undetermined spot around the room.

As they continued to kiss hungrily, their mutual need turned them almost animalistic.

Will ripped the straps of Deanna’s bra down her arms as her hands attempted to rip his pants down his legs.

She reached down and grasped his bulging manhood hard, causing him to wince a bit.

She immediately let go with shock on her face. "Oh Gods Will, I’m so sorry."

Doing his best to contain his mutual need and desire, he smiled, pulling her towards him again. "I think we need to catch our breath Imzadi."

She laughed lightly and looked down at herself. Turning her head up to him, she locked her gaze into his azure eyes.

She walked backwards, climbing slowly to a standing position on the bed.

His gaze never wavered, devouring her, as she slowly began removing her remaining clothing, dropping them onto the floor beside the bed.

Watching her slide her final, remaining garment down her legs, a pair of see through lace panties, Will almost growled and began moving towards her.

But before he could get there he found her panties in his face, exactly where she had shot them from her fingers.

He laughed and took them into his hands. Arriving at the bed, he reached up and ran his hands down her bare stomach, over her hips and down between her thighs, barely brushing her most sensitive area.

She gasped and threw her head back in pleasure. His hands continued moving over her body, teasing and enticing her body until it screamed in need. Every place he touched sent a tingle through her entire being setting it on fire.

It had been awhile since they had made love with such wild abandon.

She leaned down to him, locking with his lips, kissing him with all the passion she could muster before dropping slowly to her knees.

He stepped back and finished undressing himself. As he crawled on to his knees on the bed, Deanna scooted towards him, allowing him to pounce on her bare breast.

As he suckled her nipple, she wrapped one of her arms around his head, burying her face in his hair. Finding his ear, she slowing ran her tongue around the outside while slightly grazing the lobe with her teeth, eliciting a moan from deep within Will.

Sliding her other hand down his body, she gently took hold of his penis, squeezing and releasing with the same rhythm he was using on her breast.

This was more than his body could endure at one time causing Will's mouth to release her breast, gasping for air.

Even with the loss of his luscious mouth on her body, Deanna continued her slow torture; to the point where Will thought for sure he’d died and was floating into the light.. brighter.. brighter.. brighter…

He felt someone squeezing his cheeks. Pulling himself back to reality, Deanna’s face swam into focus, her eyes twinkling with merriment.

He smiled at her. "Hi." He said stupidly.

She laughed. "You still with me?"

He nodded his head, not really sure if he was or not, but he knew one thing… he wanted to find out.

He gently pushed her back onto the bed. Moving along side of her, kissing her gently again.

He used his hands to make love to her entire body, starting with light caresses on her face and moving completely down her body.

Eventually, his fingers touched her most intimate spot, causing a combination gasp and moan to escape from her lips.

He dipped his fingers into her, moving them in and out, watching in fascination as Deanna’s head thrashed back and forth on the pillow.

He pulled his fingers from her completely, allowing her a moment to quiet before he continued his luxurious trail to paradise.

He placed feather light kisses on each breast and moved leisurely down her body, ultimately burying his face between her legs.

"Gods, Will-please-" She begged.

She was so responsive to every bit of stimulus he could provide, he felt as if he would burst right then too. Once he began, it felt near impossible to stop. He couldn't seem to get enough of her.

Her hands found their way into his hair, her fingers massaging his scalp in conjunction with the movements of his mouth.

Will almost yelled in surprise and pain when she suddenly grabbed large handfuls of hair and pulled.

Shocked, he looked up at her, and realized that she had her head lifted and was staring at him.

"Come here Imzadi. I want to see your face-" She panted.

His eyes never leaving hers, he kissed his way back up her body, until he had crawled face to face with his intended. Wrapping her fingers in his chest hair, she pulled him to her again.

She began nipping at his ear with her teeth, enjoying the feel of his hardness pressing against her thigh.

She opened her mind and reached out to him. Their minds touched, causing sensations to spread throughout their entire bodies until their souls could take it no more.

Lifting her leg, she wrapped it around his waist, using it to pull him down.

In one fluent motion, he gently buried himself to the hilt in her warmth, feeling her body contract to accommodate him.

All physical movements stopped, affording their minds the opportunity to reach out again, finding each other and joining as one.

The feeling of absolute joy seeped from their souls, permeating every pore of their being.

The slight breeze billowing the curtains through the window provided the only sound in the room save for their breathless pants.

Their souls continued their eternal celebration, allowing nothing else to interrupt the duet no one else could possibly understand.

As their souls danced in elation, their bodies screamed in frustration. Concentrating as hard as they could to allow their souls the time they needed to reconstruct the bond that they cherished so much, they began the timeless movements that would send their bodies on a one-way trip orbiting ecstasy.

Deanna brought her other leg up, crossing them at her ankles and resting them on Will’s lower back, locking their bodies together as seamlessly as their souls.

Gentle rocking movements became life-shattering thrusts of animalistic passion.

The pressures within them continued to build until their entire world shattered in cries of release that their souls could not even contain.

Will gently eased from her small body, collapsing on his back in physical and emotional exhaustion.

They had not felt this close…this content in months.

Making love since their time at Angel Falls had always been wonderful and satisfying and yet something seemed to be missing.

That ‘something'...the connection to fully bring two souls, bodies and minds together was rediscovered this night.

They had truly become one with another, so much so that you couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

Wrapping themselves so completely in the other was all their hearts and souls craved; without the outside influences of their jobs and responsibilities - they could actually attain that euphoria albeit just a fantasy.

But for this moment in time, that was enough.

The last thing his senses were aware of was Deanna curling up against his side before their one world faded to black.

To be continued in chapter 101

"Then and Again"

Chapter 101

The chiming of the antique grandfather clock downstairs woke Deanna at midnight.

She stretched her body lazily, feeling as though she’d just gone through one of her workouts from her academy days.

Only, instead of feeling the joy that she should feel, she couldn’t help but feel sadness.

Even when their souls were completely forged together, there was still a piece of Will that he kept from her, something that he didn’t want to acknowledge.

Deanna knew what it was. He was feeling torn, between his career and her.

He was restless on Betazed. He had been ever since his duties at the Embassy had returned to normal after the quake.

For some reason, Admiral Sorsha had decided that he’d make a wonderful secretary, instead of what he was supposed to be doing.

And, he’d turned down a commission on the USS Gaia for her. In a way, it hurt her that he’d never come to speak to her about it. Except, she was also glad that he decided to stay.

Yet, she knew that deep down; he didn’t want to be here anymore. He wanted to be with her, but he craved his old life back, living his life rushing from star to star, leaving nothing but a trail of dust in his wake.

She couldn’t possibly leave now. She only had three semesters to go in school before she had her psychology degree. And then, she could leave from under her Mother’s wing again.

Sadly though, the chances that she and Will would ever be assigned to the same ship were almost nil. There were thousands of ships in Starfleet, but positions for counselors would be scarce at first.

Turning her head, watched him sleep. Gently, she traced the outline of his face with her fingers trying to smooth the conflict that seemed to haunt him even in sleep.

She also knew, without a doubt, that once Will left Betazed, he would be gone for good. Something in her soul told her that she’d never see him again, and she believed that deep down, he knew that too.

They’d never talked about it. She wasn’t sure that she could possibly ever discuss it with him. It was an unspoken constant that would be invariably between them.

She sensed his mind beginning to stir. His eyes began to flutter open. Seeing her watching him, he smiled.

"What time is it?" He mumbled.

"A little after midnight." She said quietly.

Will glanced at her, concern covering his face. "What’s wrong Deanna?"

She looked at him a bit surprised. She shook her head and forced a small smile. "Nothing."

He pulled himself up to an almost complete sitting position. Taking her arms gently, he pulled her up closer to him.

"Don’t say that Deanna. I can tell something’s wrong."

However, still she said nothing, choosing instead to stare at a spot on the headboard above his head.

Realizing that he wasn’t going to get an answer and unsure of what else to do, he pulled her into his arms, hoping that his embrace could chase away whatever demons seemed to be battling within her.

After several moments he said, "It was a beautiful wedding."

He felt her loosen a bit in his arms. "Yes it was. I really believe that Magen and Samuel will be able to make it work."

"How about next spring?" He asked.

Deanna pulled away from him looking confusedly into his eyes. "Spring for what?"

He shrugged. "Well, I figure that you start school again next week for the rest of the summer. You have less than a week off before Fall Session begins. Two weeks off in December and your Spring Session starts in January. But, there’s a three week gap in your school schedule for spring break."

She continued staring at him, not realizing what point he was trying to make.

"During your spring break… that’s when we can get married." He announced.

Tears sprang to her eyes and she wrapped her arms around him in celebration.

Only, Will mistook her tears for tears of happiness.

Deep down, Deanna’s heart cried along with her soul.

To be continued in chapter 102

"Then and Again"

Chapter 102

Too little time had passed before Deanna’s summer classes started again.

The only time they got to spend together came in the evenings. And even those were few and far between.

Deanna’s schoolwork, along with reports Will either had to write or read, ate up what little free time they had.

The funny thing about Betazed was its lack of seasons. It always felt like summertime, so when Deanna’s summer classes ended and fall classes began, it went practically unnoticed by the two of them.

Will was at the point that he dreaded getting ready to go to the embassy everyday. Most of his days were spent sitting in his office, staring out the window witnessing life as it went on without him.

He would walk home drearily, entering the house knowing that Deanna would already be immersed in her schoolwork.

While Deanna was wrapped up in learning all the new and wonderful things to further her career along while fulfilling herself professionally, Will felt his career slipping further away.

To make matters worse, his fulfillment emotionally and physically were seriously lacking as well.

Combined together, Will at times, felt as alone as he did when he was a child. Despite the fact that he was living with and engaged to the love of his life that was also his best friend, he knew they were growing in opposite directions at the moment.

As he pondered the state of his life, bewilderment overtook him as he wondered when this very life started to pass him by.

For a man who loved living by the seat of his pants, he had been sedate for far too long. It was beginning to eat at his soul.

He had even envisioned turning around one day to find that his beloved had moved on without him, on to fulfill her dreams while he sat dumbfounded speculating where his went.

He knew he needed to talk to her and express *somehow* what this repetitive and mundane living was doing to the very core of what made him William T. Riker, he just didn't know how.

He was terrified of losing her if they were separated for any reason. Something deep down told him that was so, even if it was only in his mind.

It was a feeling he couldn't shake and so now he had turned down opportunities to keep him by her side and yet, their relationship *was* suffering due to his restless discontent.

He would have to find a way to make it all work, not only to save himself but *them* more importantly.

He assumed that Deanna sensed much of his turmoil even though he tried to hide it from her and allowed him whatever time and space he seemed to need to confront this on his own.

He owed it to her to open up and share his concerns and as soon as he figured out how to have one of the most difficult conversations in his life, he would do just that.

Sighing with a heavy heart, Will decided he had been at the embassy far too long this day and it was time to go home.... to his Imzadi who filled him with life.

A sudden weather change in November caused a lot of unsuspecting Betazoids to come down with cold viruses, Deanna included.

He was relieved to enter the house and looked forward to helping nurse her back to health.

Walking into their bedroom, he found Deanna still lying in bed, a box of tissues next to her.

He smiled as he saw her condition, cheeks flushed from fever and her nose red.

Sensing him entering the room, she opened her eyes and gave him a half smile.

"Hey gorgeous." He said, sitting down next to her.

She laughed lightly. "Oh, I’m sure I look gorgeous right now." Reaching for the tissue box Will had picked up, she grabbed a tissue and blew her nose with a loud, audible ‘honk’.

He leaned down and kissed her warm forehead. "You always look gorgeous to me Deanna."

"You know Will, I’ve been thinking."

He began stroking her hair, playing with the tendrils of curls cascading down her head.

"What about?"

She looked serious as she sat up, taking his hand. She had been playing with his fingers, concentrating her gaze there instead of on his face.

"I think you should go ask Admiral Sorsha for a transfer." She stated without preamble.

Will took a deep breath before he tried to respond. However, she continued speaking before he could get a word out.

"Will, you’re absolutely miserable at the embassy. It’s killing me to see you like this. You know as well as I do that you’ll be happier away on a starship instead of here."

To his surprise, Deanna had taken part of the burden from him as she took the targ by the horns and said what he didn't have the courage to.

His heart broke as he felt a tear fall from her face on to his hand. Reaching his fingers up, he brushed her tears away.

"I’d miss you so much if you weren’t with me." He said finally.

Deanna nodded. "I’d miss you too Will, but I want you to be happy."

Will thought for a moment. Weighing the options - he saw no other alternative. Instead of answering her, he pulled her into his embrace and held her tigh.

Finally he said, "I’ll talk to Admiral Sorsha tomorrow."

Deanna’s tears continued, but now they were mixed with Will’s.

Together, they grieved for their lives that were soon going to be spent apart.

To be continued in chapter 103

"Then and Again"

Chapter 103

Will sat in Admiral Sorsha's office, fiddling with an invisible piece of lint on the front of the golden tunic of his uniform.

He had arrived at the embassy promptly at 0900, only to find that Admiral Sorsha was running late.

He stood and wandered over to the wall where Sorsha's various accolades and awards proudly hung.

'If she's done all of these wonderful things, why is she so damn nasty to me?' He wondered.

He heard her brisk steps coming down the hallway. He stood at attention, waiting for her to enter.

After greeting her secretary, she entered the room holding a large cup of steaming liquid.

At first, she pretended like he wasn't in the room at all. She sat at her desk, signed on her computer terminal, and sipped slowly at her cup.

Finally, after several moments, she glanced at him. "So, Lieutenant, what can I do for you this morning?"

'Besides showing up for duty on time?' He thought sarcastically.

"There's something important I wanted to talk to you about." He started.

Surprising Will, Sorsha clapped her hands together and laughed. Will looked at her oddly.

"Never mind Lieutenant, I just think that I need to collect on a bet I made. Please continue."

He moved to the set of chairs in front of her desk. Sitting down, he looked at her strangely.

"Anyway, as I was saying, I wanted to put in a request for transfer."

There, he'd said it.

Sorsha looked at him amusedly. "Well, seven months ago, you weren't ready to go. Now all of a sudden you are, what's changed?"

Will thought for a moment, knowing that if things were different back then, he would have jumped at the opportunity to transfer.

But Deanna, she was the reason he wanted to stay. She needed him, and he wasn't ready to leave her.

And of course, Admiral Sorsha had been a bit easier to work with in those days too.

Realizing that Will wasn't volunteering an answer right away, Sorsha suddenly yelled out. "Pam! Get in here!"

Sorsha's secretary who was always stationed outside of her door came strolling in. Sorsha gestured to Will and smiled.

"You owe me a big dinner Pam." She said laughing.

Pam looked shockingly at Will. "You're transferring, really Lieutenant? I never thought she'd be able to get to you go."

Will looked at her stupefied. "Excuse me?"

Pam waggled her eyebrows and turned to exit the room. Glancing back at Sorsha she said, "You pick the time and place Natalia, I'll be there." Laughing, Pam exited the room.

Sorsha sat smirking at Will.

"You still don't get it do you Lieutenant?" She asked.

He looked at her, unable to supply any answer at all.

Sorsha continued. "You're one of the most brilliant officers I've ever come across. The way you handled yourself and those under your command during the rescue operation was amazing Lieutenant, simply amazing."

"Thank you." Will muttered.

Sorsha clearly wasn't finished. "But Lieutenant, for you to turn down the posting on The Gaia to stay here on Betazed could've really been a stupid move in your career. You're on the fast track going straight up Will, and emotional entanglements cannot get in the way."

"I also know Deanna very well, and I care for her a great deal. She's a brilliant, amazing young woman. And the two of you love each other very much. For you to possibly give up your career to stay and be with her during a time of crisis took a great deal of courage. Not many would have made that sacrifice."

Will attempted to interrupt but Sorsha held her hand up. "I'm not finished yet Lieutenant." She said briskly.

Will's mouth snapped shut.

"The USS Potemkin is going through a major refit at McKinley Station. It's been in dry dock for approximately six months, and should be out early next year. They're looking for a new crew, and the Captain has his eye on you as operations officer."

"He sent the request to me as your Commanding Officer. Knowing at the time you wouldn't accept, I took the liberty of accepting for you."

Will was shocked. He couldn't do anything but stare at her, unable to form any words.

"So, that gave me a scant few months to give you the kick in the ass you needed. Pam and I had a bet that I could drive you crazy with clerical duties in a matter of months. Pam thought you'd last longer."

Sorsha smiled again, and Will couldn't help but smile as well. He knew he had been bested. All this time, all these months, there'd been a purpose to the insanity.

"All this time I've been plotted against?" He asked uncertainly, trying to get everything straight in his mind.

Sorsha raised an eyebrow and shrugged. "So you have Lieutenant. And I must thank you."

Will chuckled, shaking his head. "Thank me for what?"

"You've provided me with one of the best personnel challenges I've ever been faced with in all the years I've been in Starfleet. Plus, Pam is going to pay dearly for the dinner she owes me. That's all because of you!"

Will couldn't help but laugh at the situation. Here, he'd managed to think of every horrible, destructive thing that could be done to Admiral Sorsha, and all she was doing was trying to help him.

Albeit, in a roundabout way.

Sorsha clapped her hands together. "You have a few more weeks here on Betazed Will. Enjoy your time with Deanna while you have it. She'll be extremely busy next semester in school, as she'll also be picking up duties here at the Embassy. And cuddling up to a communications screen just isn't the same."

Will nodded, standing slowly. Walking towards the door, he suddenly turned. "Thank you Admiral." He said.

Sorsha nodded, a small smile on her face. "I'm really not the ogre people make me out to be Will. I truly hope you and Deanna will be happy."

Will smiled back. "I'm sure we will be." He exited the office, feeling lighter on his feet than he had in months.

To be continued in chapter 104

"Then and Again"

Chapter 104

Walking out into the chilled breeze from the embassy, all Will could think about was telling Deanna what Admiral Sorsha had done.

As the shock and adrenaline of the moment began to wear off, reality started to sink in. And as it did, the newly transferred Lieutenant wasn't sure what to make of the events in the Admiral's office.

The more he thought about the conversation, the more it bothered him. He felt he was being pulled in two separate directions.

On one hand, he was extremely grateful for the opportunity she had afforded him by taking the initiative regarding the post on the Potemkin.

But on the other, he wondered what happened to that confident young officer from the Academy who knew exactly what he wanted in life and more importantly, how to obtain it on his own.

He was a take-charge kind of man and having someone else make decisions for him was a sign of weakness is his eyes, even if those very same decisions were for his own good.

Was he losing his edge? If so, was he still officer material? When had he grown so soft? At least to THAT question, he knew the definitive answer.

Choosing matters of the heart over that of his career is not something he would have ever foreseen of himself.

A feeling of déjà vu swept over Will as he continued obsessing, overanalyzing and second guessing matters which had already been decided and finalized.

Could it have really only been less than 24 hours ago that he had sat in his office wishing to be *anywhere* but where he was?

As he reflected back to those thoughts, he would have almost seen the humor in the situation had he been able to be more objective at the moment. Alas, that just wasn't possible. C

ontinuing his walk home, he tried to sort out and understand *why* he felt so conflicted by the turn of events.

This IS exactly what he wanted and had gone to see Admiral Sorsha about.

But, did she have to look so victorious and gloat to Pam the way she carried on about winning the bet?

Will was starting to get a headache trying to untangle the last several months.

He was certainly played for a fool AND he let *that* woman get the best of him with her conniving and underhanded, devious ways that were nothing more than a game to her.

A game she won and a game that he wasn't even aware of the rules.

The more he dwelled on these tidbits, the more frustrated he felt. Why didn't he see it coming? What did it say about his abilities to see that which wants to remain hidden? What would happen on a starship that had been infiltrated? Would he be able to see through the charade and pick out a traitor or alien?

He just didn't know anymore.


Meanwhile, a few blocks away at the Troi manor...

Deanna keenly felt this roller coaster of emotions Will was going through while not completely understanding why he was jumping so erratically from one feeling to another. It was making *her* dizzy.

Doing the only thing possible, she waited for him to return home and give her the news she already knew deep inside her soul.

She had always known, since their days at the Academy. It just wasn't their time. No matter how much they looked the other way, pretending all was right in their world, fantasy only lasts so long before the cold hard slap of reality wakes you up.

How could it be that two souls, *Imzadi* who were destined to be together by the gods, loved each other more than life itself, couldn't make it work?

This was how Will found Deanna when he arrived back home.

Sensing the apprehension and reflectiveness of the other, neither spoke a word as they just stared into the other's eyes.


"So," they said in unison, followed by breaking the trance they had fallen into.

Will spoke first and told her about the meeting with the Admiral.

Deanna knew there was more he wasn't telling her and hoped he would finally opened up his heart to her.

Knowing she had forced an issue yesterday by suggesting his meeting this morning, she had prayed to the deities it was the push he needed.

When he didn't continue, she knew another shove was in order.

Tentatively, "What was it about your meeting this morning that has you in such turmoil?"

Startled, he looked up into her eyes. Not really sure why he was surprised she would know of his inner struggles on the way home... he took a deep breath, collected his thoughts and began.

Everything he had kept bottled up inside came tumbling out in a jumbled mess, much like the thoughts during his walk home.

Listening intently to every word, Deanna had come to a few conclusions herself.

It all boiled down to the fact that the decision was taken out of his hands, so to speak.

The power of control over his own life had been decided for him, even with the end results being the same. He was now on someone else's timetable.

A position had been accepted for him months ago with a predetermined departure date of just a few weeks away.

Now they both wondered what would have happened if Sorsha hadn't messed around with his duties and made his job so despicable.

Could he have continued to sacrifice his ambitions to live among the stars...for her? T

he choice was no longer there and while they both knew it would have eventually come to this, it didn't make it any easier now that it was definite.

He had his orders.

Rather than dwell on the upcoming parting, Will finished spinning his tale of the bet and payoff.

Deanna's laughter floated through the air in the back garden of the Troi estate, surprising both of them.

She wasn't quite sure why she laughed, knowing the situation the two of them were presently in.

Well yes, she did know. She used her laughter to cover the tears that were threatening to spill down her face.

Will, completely confused by her reaction, did the only thing he could think of. He laughed too.

Once their laughter had died, he sat quietly and watched Deanna swinging back and forth on the swing.

She was finally feeling better from the cold she had been fighting the past few days. Although she occasionally sniffled, and had a thin blanket thrown over her legs, the glow had returned to her cheeks, making her absolutely radiant.

Deanna caught Will staring at her and looked at him strangely. "What is it, tell me?"

"I will miss you when I'm gone." He admitted.

She smiled lightly. "You're not gone yet. We still have a few weeks."

He nodded. "Shore leave will come six months after I leave, we've never gone that long without seeing each other."

After he said that, Deanna did something she rarely ever did in her life. She lied.

"Our relationship is doing just fine Will."

He nodded, perpetuating his part of the lie they were living.

He knew that he needed to change the subject. "Well, we'll still be together for Christmas on Earth. Are we going to celebrate this year?" He asked.

She looked at the ground for a moment. "I was thinking about that this morning. I took a walk to The Valley of Song, trying to clear my mind."

Will found her statement peculiar, especially considering the unsettling occurrence that had happened to him the last time he visited that particular area.

The sense of the Peterson's was so strong, to the point where he could've sworn he smelled the babies shampoo in the air.

He'd been terrified to visit it again, considering the unusual reaction he had to being there in contrast to Deanna's sense of peace.

"When Uncle Charles died, the Troi family home on Earth got passed down to Elyssia. So, with her death, the house went to me. Maybe we can spend Christmas there, just the two of us?"

Will was surprised at the notion, but not opposed to the idea. The home was beautiful, with the mountains in the foreground painting a beautiful winter backdrop for the special holiday.

"Are you sure that's what you want to do?" He asked.

Deanna nodded and smiled. "Yes, Dennis' family had a memorial stone set up for all of them in the family cemetery. I'd like to see it."

Will nodded, remembering last Christmas when the family had walked through the cemetery to put flowers on Ian and Margaret's graves.

"I think it sounds like a plan then. I'll take care of the arrangements this time." He said.

They fell into a companionable silence again, allowing the gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the various plants around them be the only noise in the garden.

Deanna sighed contentedly and closed her eyes in relaxation, trying like hell to block out the screaming silence and ever growing distance between the two of them.

To be continued in chapter 105

"Then and Again"

Chapter 105

Deanna ran through the mental checklist in her mind once more, trying to be sure she remembered to pack everything she would need for the trip to Earth.

Her classes had just finished for the semester last week, and Will's shore leave began tomorrow.

They would have five days on Earth before he was due back at the embassy, and although they would miss New Year's Eve, they would still get to spend Christmas at her family home.

So, in total with travel time, they would have eleven days before returning to their mundane routines on Betazed.

'Eleven days well spent.' Deanna thought, feeling that she needed this vacation as much as Will did.

Deanna could hear her Mother moving around downstairs, wondering what she had herself so worked up about.

'It's probably better that I don't know.' She realized.

The loud chiming of the doorbell roused Deanna from her reverie. Knowing Zeloh would take care of the door, she moved to her closet and began pulling out the warmest outfits she owned.

She immediately sensed who had entered the house and smiled. Walking to the landing of the stairway, she called down.

"I'm up here Magen."

Magen appeared at the bottom of the steps. 'Oh, you would have to be all the way upstairs wouldn't you?' She thought cast sarcastically.

Deanna laughed. "What's the matter, doesn't the baby like heights?"

Magen slowly began to ascend the stairs. "Well, at three months into the pregnancy, the baby doesn't seem to like anything."

'Just don't throw up on my carpeting Magen.' They heard Lwaxana intervene.

Deanna laughed shaking her head. Once Magen got to Deanna, she announced, "You know, the compassion your Mother shows is just incredible."

Deanna smiled again, leading Magen into her bedroom and closing the door behind them.

Looking at the clothes strewn around the bed, Magen whistled. "Wow, expecting some cold weather on Earth are you?"

Deanna rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Magen, it's terrible. It's so cold it literally makes me shiver. How can people live like that?"

Magen shrugged, not knowing a real answer to the question. Reaching over, she picked up one of Deanna's long, flannel nightgowns and held it up.

"I guess you're expecting chilly nights as well?" She asked, her eyebrows raised.

Deanna looked at her sadly. "This trip isn't going to be anything like last year."

Magen nodded. "It's very strange not having Elyssia around anymore."

Deanna absently shook her head and began folding some of the clothes and putting them in her bag.

Magen watched her quietly. "But that's not all your talking about, hmm?"

Deanna smirked. "Reading my mind again Magen?"

She shook her head. "You don't have to be a mind reader to see how things have changed between you and Will. Anyone who knows you can see it."

Deanna sighed. Clearing a spot on her bed, she sat next to her friend.

"You're right. Things aren't the same, and I don't know if they ever will be. He'll be leaving Betazed soon, and I can't help but feel that once he leaves, I'll never see him again."

Magen nodded. "You two have been through a lot this past year. Last Christmas, everything here was so new to Will."

Deanna looked at her oddly. "What do you mean?"

Magen shrugged. "Will had only been planet side a few weeks, the two of you had just gotten back together after what was it, five years?"

Deanna nodded.

"It was all new to him. The excitement of a new assignment, the thrill of your newly reformed bond, the unknown of the lunar alignment that was coming. Everything someone with the heart of an adventurer could possibly want."

"And when the state of emergency was over, he had to live as a normal man, despite that part of his soul which cried out to run to the next adventure." Deanna finished, causing Magen to nod.

"You had to sense it yourself." She added.

Deanna absently began twisting her engagement ring around her finger. "I sensed it. I was so caught up in my own grief that I ignored it at first. By the time I realized it, Will had already decided to push all his dreams aside to be with me. That wasn't fair to him."

"He didn't push all of his dreams aside Deanna. You're still a part of his dreams, you know that right?"

Deanna nodded. "But not the most important part. Will has tried so hard to hide that from me, especially in these last few weeks, but-" She trailed off.

"This Admiral over at the Embassy, what did you say her name was again?" Magen asked.

"Sorsha, Natalia Sorsha." Deanna said quietly.

"Sorsha? As in the Eleventh House Of Betazed?"

Deanna nodded. "She's of mixed heritage, one quarter Betazoid. But, she is empathic, although she doesn't look Betazoid."

Magen nodded, sudden understanding sinking in. "So, when Will turned down the posting on the other ship, she knew damn well that it really wasn't what he wanted."

Deanna nodded. "She had actually come to tell me about the position, even before she told Will. We were both stunned when he turned it down. We both knew that it wasn't what he truly wanted."

Deanna stood and moved to the windows, staring at the brightness outside. With a quiet sadness she added, "All these months Magen, I've been standing in his way. He's been torn in so many different directions. Sorsha stepped up to the plate and made the decision that he needed, I certainly didn't do that."

"Deanna, you know full well that if Sorsha hadn't made that decision, Will would've eventually made it on his own. But by that time, your relationship could've been totally destroyed."

Deanna didn't turn to look at Magen but admitted, "I think it's close to that now Magen."

Magen stood and walked up behind Deanna, laying her head on Deanna's shoulder in a show of support.

"You believe that once he leaves, that'll be it?" Magen asked softly.

Deanna laid her head on Magen's, drawing strength from her friend. "Before he came to Betazed, he had all the goals of his life completely lined up. And then I came along and pulled him from all of that. Once that distraction is gone full time from his life, what do you think will happen?"

Magen couldn't answer, knowing full well that Deanna was probably right.

After several moments, Deanna broke their contact and sighed. "But, we do still have a little time left together, and I really need this vacation."

Magen smiled. "Agreed. It's not everyday someone earns herself straight A's in psychology courses at the best College of Psychology in the Federation." D

eanna returned her smile. "Well, you didn't do too badly yourself."

Magen laughed. "Ah yes, and thank the Deities that this one-" she gestured to her currently flat belly, "-decided to time itself so he won't be making his appearance until after we graduate."

Deanna chuckled. "That was good timing on yours and Sam's part."

Magen shook her head. "Oh no, it definitely wasn't planned, believe me. But, we're making the best of it."

Deanna moved back over to the bed and began folding her clothes once again. "That's all any of us can do."

Deanna didn't notice Magen's look of sadness behind her. In Magen's mind, she heard Lwaxana from downstairs; 'You're a good friend Magen, she's going to need you in these coming weeks.'

'I know Lwaxana, believe me, I know.'

Moving to the bed, Magen began to help Deanna pack.

To be continued in chapter 106

"Then and Again"

Chapter 106

The three day trip from Betazed to Earth was spent in pensive company of one another.

Both Will and Deanna were reminiscing of the last time they'd taken this very trip. Only, that trip had been full of happiness.

Elyssia, Dennis and the twins had made excellent traveling companions.

And, of course, Will and Deanna had been on much better terms relationship wise.

Will had trouble believing it had barely been a year since that fun filled vacation.

He had never felt so fulfilled in his life, both personally and professionally.

But now, everything was different.

Sitting alone in their private quarters onboard the transport, he watched the stars streak by.

Knowing how long it took for light to travel, Will came to the conclusion that many of the stars he was gazing at now were probably long gone.

'That's a happy thought.' He scolded himself gently.

He heard the door slide open and realized that Deanna had returned.

She had taken yet another walk around the ship ... alone.

She had continuously spent time by herself since they'd left Deep Space Four the day before.

Turning his head to acknowledge her entrance, his face remained expressionless.

"We've just passed Mars' perimeter. We'll be landing soon."

He nodded and turned back to the window, watching through the viewport as the ship slowed.

Deanna sighed loudly at his noncommittal acknowledgment.

She began gathering up her belongings, realizing that this would be an even longer trip if they couldn't even speak to each other.

Once the transport set down, they slowly made their way to the main transportation hub for the final leg of their journey.

Minutes after arriving they were beamed directly to Montréal and their long trip was over.

The ground transport took them to the Troi family home near the Lauretian Mountains.

The first thing that struck Deanna was that there was no snow. It didn't even feel cold enough to snow, so maybe she'd lucked out this time.

As they walked up to the doorway, she hesitated.

Will looked at her. "Are you okay?" He asked, concerned.

She nodded, but didn't take any further steps.

"I'm sure we can stay at a hotel or the local embassy." He suggested.

Deanna shook her head. "No, I want to do this. I have to." She told him.

He took her gloved hand and squeezed it for comfort, and quite possibly his own support.

For, he missed everyone almost as much as Deanna did.

Ever since arriving in Montréal, he had been bombarded with memories from last Christmas.

He half hoped that they'd walk into the house and they'd all be sitting around the fire, laughing at something someone had said or done.

However, he knew that wasn't remotely possible.

Snapping out of his reverie, he realized that Deanna was fumbling with the access code to the door mechanism. H

e almost snickered, eliciting a glare from her. "

You might have more luck if you took your gloves off." He instructed.

"Yeah, I foresee that happening real soon." She retorted.

Will smiled and, using his teeth, removed his glove and keyed the access code, allowing the door to open easily.

Deanna took a deep breath and slowly stepped inside.

They stood in the doorway, allowing their eyes to adapt to the darkness of the house.

Finally, Will quietly said "Computer, lights."

Soft light lit the living room before them, bathing them both in soft light.

The fireplace came to life, causing the only sound in the house; the soft crackling of the wood inside.

Deanna walked slowly into the room, breathing deeply as her eyes drifted to various items around the room.

Will's eyes locked on the fireplace though, causing him to slowly walk towards it.

Still hanging on the mantle were four baby sized socks.

He touched them gently, not wanting to disturb them. Sensing his sudden emotional upheaval, Deanna came to his side. "Elyssia told me that only thing they'd done was take the tree down and plant it out back. Uncle Charles was going to finish the rest when he got back from Betazed."

Will didn't know what to do or say at that moment.

They were both feeling the loss so profoundly again, that words just didn't seem adequate.

But, the trip to Earth also seemed to be a final step in their healing process. To be able to face the memories here together would certainly bring them a step closer to being together as they were last year.

He turned to her, pulling her into his embrace.

The fire continued to crackle and life moved on outside the house.

However, inside the house, Will and Deanna retreated to their own world.

A place of happiness and laughter. A

place where their souls communed as one; where they could make love for hours and start the day anew with just a scarce few hours sleep.

It was the place that they knew so well, but hadn't been able to allow themselves to visit for such a very long time.

It was in this place that they knew they wouldn't stay, as their relationship was in peril.

However, for the next few days, this place was pure heaven for both of them.

To be continued in chapter 107

"Then and Again"

Chapter 107

Christmas morning came a few days later.

They had risen early, exchanging gifts and enjoying one another's company.

After breakfast Deanna and Will bundled up warmly, ready to brave the elements outside.

Will gathered up the grave blanket he and Deanna had made together the night before, leaving a lone bouquet of flowers for her to carry.

He knew it would be a difficult moment for both him and Deanna. Yet, at the same time, it would be a good catharsis for them.

Looking at Deanna, he smiled comfortingly.

"Are you ready?" He asked.

She mock saluted him. "I think I'm sufficiently bundled up Lieutenant."

"Okay Ensign Troi, let's move out." Riker said in a playful yet authoritative voice.

She stuck her tongue out at him before pulling her scarf up to cover her face.

Picking up the bouquet of flowers, she led the way as they walked out the back door.

They traveled silently, side-by-side through the expansive field behind the house, which now was covered by newly fallen snow.

Will could see the tall iron fence surrounding the large family cemetery.

Leafless vines covered all four sides of the fence that marked the family cemetery.

Will imagined that during the warmer months, the vines would be full of green leaves and flowers of various hues.

However, now in the dead of winter, the vines were brown, hardly visible through the snow.

Deanna opened the latch of the gate, pulling hard to open the door wide enough for her and Will to squeeze through.

She paused, waiting for Will to come in behind her. Once he had, he rejoined her side again, wrapping his free arm around her shoulders for support.

She put her gloved hand over his and smiled.

"I'm okay Will, really."

They walked forward again.

After a few steps, Deanna gestured forward.

"Members of the Troi family have been buried here for hundreds of years. My father was laid to rest on Betazed, but Uncle Charles had a grave marker placed here as well. Dennis' parents thought it would be only right to do the same for Dennis, Elyssia and the girls. And of course, Uncle Charles was buried next to my Father."

Will nodded. "It was a nice gesture on Dennis' parents part."

Deanna sighed softly. "Dennis and Elyssia had been together for so long. His parents were good friends with Uncle Charles. We were all one, big extended family. We still are really, just-" Her voice trailed off.

"Just a lot smaller." Will said sadly, finishing her thought.

Deanna nodded, but said no more.

After walking a few paces, she stopped in front of a particular headstone.

Stepping up to her side, Will looked down at the stone before them.

'Ian Andrew Troi and Charles Edward Troi' the stone announced.

Will silently watched Deanna, trying to gauge her reaction.

Surprising him, she had a small smile on her face.

She bent down and used her gloved hands first to pull her scarf from her face, and then to wipe the snow from the marker.

She silently mouthed a few words, intended only for Charles and Ian's ears.

She stood and looked at Will. Standing on tiptoes, she leaned up and kissed him.

"I love you." She whispered a bit breathlessly.

"I love you too." He replied smiling.

She leaned back down to place the flowers she was holding on the grave.

Resting her hand regretfully on the stone, she stood and continued to move through the cemetery.

Will saw the stone before she did. It sat slightly apart from the rest, without the weather worn look the others had.

He and Deanna simultaneously slowed their approach.

Deanna's breath caught in her throat as they arrived at their destination.

On the headstone, a carving displayed the image of two lambs standing side by side with their heads nestled together.

In front of the two adult lambs were two babies, frolicking in a meadow.

Above their heads were two winged angels; one playing a harp, the other a flute.

In the arms of one angel lay another baby lamb, this one smaller than the other two.

The inscription above their four names read:

"Together in death as in life"

Deanna's knees suddenly felt weak, causing her to drop in front of the large headstone.

Will quickly dropped to his knees beside her.

She reached over to the grave blanket that Will was still holding.

Together, they placed it next to the flowers that were already there.

They sat completely silent, staring at the stone in front of them until both of their bodies were numb from the cold.

Will heard Deanna sniffle, but wasn't quite sure if it was from the cold or crying.

Looking at her, he was amazed to see another peaceful smile gracing her beautiful features.

Unwilling to break their silent communion, he furrowed his brows in question.

'I'm so glad you're here Imzadi.' He heard echo through his mind.

He smiled at her and stood, reaching down to help her up.

They walked hand in hand back to the house, feeling as if an immense burden had been lifted from their heart and souls.

That night after dinner, they cuddled in front of the fireplace and talked for hours about nothing in particular.

They tenderly made love on the floor in front of the fireplace until well after midnight, allowing their bodies to feel as elated as their souls.

After moving into bed, they slipped into a restful sleep, still wrapped in one another's arms.

Light-years away on Betazed, the message light on Admiral Natalia Sorsha's COMM system lit up.

Most of the earthborn staff from the Embassy was home enjoying Christmas with their families.

So, the message had to wait to deliver its news.

To be continued in chapter 108

"Then and Again"

Chapter 108

Will and Deanna spent much of the next day like they had the previous night; in each other's arms.

Late in the afternoon, they finally got out of bed. After taking a long, luxurious shower together, Deanna went and stretched languorously on the sofa as Will began to cook a combination late lunch/early dinner.

They precariously balanced their plates on their laps, but ended up spending most of their mealtime feeding each other.

Once the meal was over, Will laid on the couch with Deanna curled in the crook of his arm, half on him, half on the sofa.

They had pulled several family photo albums off the bookcase and were slowly proceeding through them.

He was fascinated by the pictures of Deanna as a child. She always seemed to be smiling, whether posing with Elyssia or by herself.

As the pictures changed to a more mature Deanna and Elyssia, Will's curiosity was piqued.

In several of the photos, a teenage Deanna was with a handsome young man with blondish brown hair and vibrant green eyes.

Will looked at her curiously. "And who may this be?"

Deanna snickered and blushed a bit. "His name is André. He lives here in Montréal. We spent a couple of summers...together."

"Together?" He asked teasingly.

Her blush deepened. "He was my first serious boyfriend if that's what you're asking."

"Boyfriend?" He teased again.

She looked at him frustrated. "Well, he did become more than just a boyfriend. We uh... um..."

"Yeah okay I get the message!" He laughed, thanking God that he stopped her before she admitted the truth. He couldn't imagine 'his' Deanna in the arms of anyone else.

Deanna raised her eyebrows and shrugged. "Well, you asked." She said with a smile.

They continued flipping through the albums. Will found pics of Elyssia in the latter months of her pregnancy.

"Oh my God, she was huge!" He exclaimed, causing Deanna to laugh.

"Yeah, she gained close to 27 kilograms."

"All that weight for those two little ladies? Wow."

"Well, I guess when you're carrying them around like that they don't seem so little." She laughed.

They fell silent as pictures of the newborn twins began.

By this time, Will's hand had unconsciously moved to absently stroke Deanna's lower abdomen.

She eventually broke the silence.

"We were talking about messages earlier, have you checked the COMM system today?" She asked.

His expression changed to one of mock surprise.

"No, we've been having too much fun." He said waggling his eyebrows.

She exhaled loudly and smiled. "Will, something important may be happening."

She slowly began to rise from his lap causing groans of protest from both of them.

They held hands a moment longer as Deanna bent down and kissed him. Once the moment broke, she turned and walked into the study where the main computer consoles were located.

After a few minutes, Will heard Deanna's voice ring in his mind. "You better come in here Imzadi."

He stood quickly and went to join her.

She was still sitting in front of the COMM system. But once she turned to face him, he immediately noticed the somber expression on her face.

"Deanna, what's wrong?" He asked worriedly.

"It looks like the time has come." She said quietly, almost to herself.

He looked at her, his eyebrows furrowed. Deanna gestured towards the computer. "There's a message from Admiral Sorsha." She mumbled.

She stood, moving so Will could sit and replay the message.

"Hello Lieutenant,

I'm sorry to interrupt your short vacation, but the Potemkin has come out of dry dock early. We need you back here to prepare for your mission briefing as soon as possible. Starfleet Command is awaiting your word, as they will provide you with immediate transportation here to Betazed. We look forward to your return."

As the message screen blackened an immediate feeling of elation swept over Will.

'Yes, I'll finally be off that planet!' He celebrated mentally.

Suddenly, he felt like a complete cretin, remembering that Deanna was in the room. Turning to where she was standing, all he saw was her back as she left the room.

To be continued in chapter 109

"Then and Again"

Chapter 109

Will immediately sprang from his seated position determined to catch up to Deanna. The suddenness of her departure after his emotional outburst told him her feelings. He felt the need to alleviate the sudden emotional upheaval before things got too far out of control.

He heard noise coming from their bedroom. Approaching slowly, he paused in the doorway to watch as Deanna moved around the room, taking clothes from the closet and dressers, laying them all out on the bed.

"You don’t have to hover Will, I know you’re there." She said without turning to face him.

"You’re upset…"He began, but paused when he saw her shoulders slump.

She turned slowly to him, forcing a small smile to her face. "Not exactly." She responded quietly.

He took a deep breath before walking slowly towards her. "Deanna, I won’t apologize for being happy about leaving Betazed."

She looked momentarily into his eyes. "There’s nothing for you to apologize about Will. You’ve felt restless for a long time. This is just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. You should be happy."

Will ran his hand through his hair before sitting on the edge of the bed. Reaching out, he took Deanna’s hand, using it to lead her to a seat next to him.

"This won’t change anything for us." He said, squeezing her hand.

Deanna sighed and shook her head. "Of course it will change things for us Will. You’ll be gone; I’ll be home finishing school. When I go back on active duty, I could be assigned somewhere even farther from you. It’s up to us to keep our promises to one another."

"I love you so much. Don’t ever forget that. When I’m far away from you, that’s one thing that’ll keep me grounded. I’ll forever be rooted to Betazed, and that’s because of you."

Deanna leaned forward and kissed him softly. "We’ll just have to be extremely creative when planning our shore leaves. Months apart could lead to some horribly lonely nights."

For a reason unbeknownst to him he reached forward and enveloped Deanna into his arms. He held her tight, gently rocking them back and forth. Opening his mind he concentrated slowly on the feeling of ‘them’.

His soul reached to Deanna, wanting to encompass her completely in his being. Much to his surprise, he was reaching out to nothing. Deanna had her mind blocked, although she physically clung to him as if he would disappear from her reach.

He pulled back from her, looking directly into her eyes. She wouldn’t return his gaze. "Deanna, please tell me what’s on your mind."

She shook her head and stood, walking back to the open closet. "Nothing, really Will. We just have a lot of packing to do if we’re to leave soon."

Will sighed loudly, hoping Deanna had heard. If she had, she didn’t let him know. "I’m going to contact Starfleet and arrange transport for us."

Again she didn’t turn to him, but simply nodded and continued folding. Will shook his head and walked back to the den.

Deanna balled the blouse up in her hands and threw it against the wall, silently letting her frustrations out on the inanimate object.

Walking to the window, she wrapped her arms around herself trying to block the chill that had come over her soul.

However, it didn’t help. The only warmth she felt were the tears that fell unbidden down her face.

To be continued in chapter 110

"Then and Again"

Chapter 110

Lwaxana laid in her bedroom relaxing to the soothing sounds of meditation music. After the past several days of parties, political engagements, and just plain boring social events, Lwaxana decided it was time to take a day to herself.

Her mind drifted briefly to Deanna, wondering how her trip to Earth was working out. She hoped with the truest of hearts that all was well, but her mind told her that probably wasn’t the case.

Lwaxana thought highly of Will. She’d even come to think of him as the son she never had. Unfortunately, she also knew that Will’s heart was leading him farther and farther away from Betazed… and in turn, farther away from Deanna.

Would their relationship be able to withstand the separation? She knew that Deanna and Will hoped so, possibly even believed so. But, Lwaxana knew better.

She knew how Starfleet could take over one’s life; lead them farther and farther away from everything they cared about. She’d seen it happen over and over again to friends of Ian’s. It had even started to happen to Ian until Lwaxana took the initiative and fixed the situation before it got too far out of control.

But, that had led to some horrible fights, and some separations. Although Deanna herself was a Starfleet officer, she was also a beautiful person who deserved to be happy with whomever her heart decided.

Lwaxana knew that Deanna desired a family, to be able to wake up every morning with her lover or husband next to her. Would she be content only seeing Will every so many months?

Lwaxana sighed and opened her eyes. So much for relaxing. Her mind was too busy worrying about Deanna to relax today.

She rose slowly from her bed, taking the time to blow out the meditation candles surrounding it on the nightstands. Before she was able to leave the room to have Zeloh prepare tea, her sense of Deanna became extremely strong.

Lwaxana realized that Deanna was home on Betazed. That would be the only way she would have such a strong sense of her. But, they weren’t due home for days.

Lwaxana sighed heavily again. Something must have happened. As she moved into the den she smiled after realizing that Zeloh had a pot of tea waiting for her. Sometimes she wondered if he wasn’t a telepath himself.

Settling into her favorite chair, she waited for Deanna to arrive home.

As soon as they’d left the central transportation station, Will headed straight for the embassy, leaving Deanna to walk home on her own.

She didn’t necessarily have to walk, but it was nice to be back in Betazed’s tropical climate, instead of the brutal cold she’d suffered in on Earth.

After arranging for their bags to be delivered to the Troi manor, Deanna slowly began her walk through the city towards the place she’d called home her entire life.

Her thoughts quickly drifted to Will, more specifically to the fact that he would be leaving fairly soon. The dread that had clenched her heart the moment she heard the communiqué from Admiral Sorsha quickly moved over her entire being.

Why did everything suddenly feel so ominous? How could she be so positive that this was it, that she’d say goodbye to Will and never see him again? Was a silly feeling of intuition worth ruining their final few days together?

She wished she could shake these horrible feelings, and just simply enjoy having Will with her for these final few days. But the more she tried to forget, the more the feelings assaulted her senses.

She had to stop this. She had to stop analyzing every little thought, feeling and nuance. She was giving herself a severe headache, which certainly wasn’t helping improve her mood.

Looking up, she realized that she’d wandered off of her original course. She was now walking down the street that had once held the home of the Peterson’s. Of course, the ruins of the house were long gone now. Lwaxana had bought the property and had a small memorial placed there. The space was now completely covered in green grass and flowers of almost every hue available in the color spectrum.

In the middle of the myriad of color was a stone bench, similar to the ones in the park Deanna used to take the twins to. On the bench was Dennis, Elyssia, Katie, Cassie and Charles’ names engraved with their birthdates. On the very bottom, a simple statement:

"Taken from our lives January 17th, 2362 but forever in our hearts"

Deanna smiled as she walked up the seven stone steps that lead to the center of the garden. Sitting on the bench, she closed her eyes allowing the breeze to penetrate her being.

‘I would love to be able to sit and talk to Elyssia right now.’ She thought to herself.

She slowly opened her eyes, almost hoping that Elyssia would somehow magically be there.

Alas, she wasn’t. Nor would she ever be again. Deanna and her mother were the last of the Troi family, and Deanna the last of the Troi family from Earth.

Somehow, that thought made her feel totally alone. Standing quickly from the bench, she turned and gently kissed the tip of her fingers, resting it on the stone bench before turning and walking quickly away.

After several steps, the feelings of aloneness, dread, despair, and confusion started assaulting her. Unable to hold back anymore, she began to run, trying to outrun the tears that streamed down her face.

Finally seeing the familiar gate to her home, she flung it open and ran inside of the house.

Lwaxana greeted her just inside the doorway. Without saying a word, she opened her arms and allowed Deanna to fling herself into her Mother’s comforting embrace.

Leading Deanna into the den, Lwaxana noticed that it had begun to cloud up outside. As she sat and rocked Deanna silently, rain began to pelt the windows, casting an eerie sound combined with Deanna’s sobs.

Lwaxana just wished she could make it all go away.

To be continued in chapter 111

"Then and Again"

Chapter 111

The amount of time that had passed was completely lost on Lwaxana. She still sat in the den, rocking Deanna like she had when she was a child.

But, Deanna was no longer a child. She had certainly reminded Lwaxana of that fact enough. Serious adult issues were breaking Deanna’s heart, and Lwaxana wasn’t quite sure there was anything she could do to help her baby.

"You’re doing all you can right now Mother." Deanna’s muffled voice sounded.

"Reading my thoughts again Little One?" Lwaxana teased, hoping it would alleviate some of her daughter’s anguish.

Deanna sniffled and pulled away from Lwaxana. "I really don’t think there’s anything anyone can do, except Will and I."

Lwaxana immediately sensed the feeling of helplessness emanating from Deanna. "Little One, don’t feel so hopeless. Perhaps William will surprise you?"

Deanna looked thoughtful for a moment. "Mother, I think that may be part of my problem."

Lwaxana gazed at her, the confusion imminent on her face. "What do you mean?"

Deanna struggled to find the right words. She stood and paced the room a bit, finally settling in front of the fireplace to gaze at the photos on the mantle. The picture from the previous Christmas caught her attention.

After staring at it for several moments she turned back to her mother. "Part of me is hoping and praying that this works. I love Will so much and don’t want to lose him. I feel ready to sacrifice almost anything to be with him. But, I don’t think he’s ready to make that sacrifice for me, or anyone for that matter."

Lwaxana dropped her gaze to the floor before turning back to Deanna. "You said ‘almost’…"

Deanna looked at her strangely. "What do you mean?"

Lwaxana forced a small smile and raised her eyebrows. "Almost, you said almost anything. What did you mean by that?"

Deanna thought before moving back to the couch to sit with her Mother. "I guess- I don’t know to be honest. I guess part of me feels that the only way I can be with Will is if I sacrifice part of who I am to make it possible. I might have to give up part of my career… part of who I am to be able to spend my life with him. That’s not fair to me. It’s definitely not fair of him to expect it of me."

Lwaxana poured herself another cup of tea, and offered a cup to Deanna. "Does he expect it of you?"

Deanna shrugged. "He expects me to sit and wait for him to be able to come home, or to arrange a visit. I don’t want to live my life like that. That’s not who I am, nor will I ever be."

Lwaxana nodded. "It sounds to me like you have a lot to talk about with Will."

Deanna returned the nod. "I don’t even know if we’ll get the chance now. Will could be leaving tonight for all I know."

Lwaxana clapped her hands together. "Well, if Will isn’t being spirited away right now, I have an idea!"

Deanna looked at her mother warily. "Are you plotting something again?"

Lwaxana looked innocently at her daughter. "Me? What could I possibly be plotting?"

Deanna shrugged. "Oh, I don’t know. A dinner party, the second coming of the deities… who knows with you Mother."

Lwaxana laughed raucously. "It’s good to see you still have your sense of humor Little One. I was simply going to suggest that perhaps you ask Magen’s parents for use of their cabin at Janaran Falls? It would be a nice way for the two of you to spend time together alone before he leaves."

Deanna’s face brightened. "I think that’s a wonderful idea Mother!"

"What’s a wonderful idea?" A man’s voice interrupted, causing both Deanna and Lwaxana to jump.

They turned to see Will standing in the doorway, a Cheshire cat grin on his face. Lwaxana looked at him surprised.

"Trying to ease drop on our conversation William?"

Will looked surprised. "No, not at all. I just wanted to see if I could block my mind like Deanna does when she’s mad at me."

Lwaxana looked amusedly at her blushing daughter, who decided the conversation needed to be changed.

"Mother was just suggesting that we go to Janaran Falls before you leave. Magen’s parents own a cabin there."

Will’s smile dropped a bit. "That sounds like a great idea. It’s going to have to be soon. I’m leaving at 0800 hours, day after tomorrow."

Lwaxana wasn’t positive, but she was sure she felt the temperature drop in the room. She sent support telepathically to Deanna, who tipped her head in appreciation.

"I’ll go see about making the arrangements now." She swallowed hard before leaving the room.

Will, oblivious to the slight exchange between mother and daughter, began reading the data PADD in his hand before wandering upstairs.

To be continued in chapter 112

"Then and Again"

Chapter 112

Will walked slowly up the driveway which lead to the cottage he and Deanna were staying in for their final night together. He paused momentarily at that thought.

‘No, not our last night together. Just the last night for a little while.’ For some reason, that made his mind feel a little more at ease, but his heart was telling him something different.

He had no idea what was happening between them. This was going to be the last chance they’d get to sit and talk face to face, so either they figured it out now or wait at least six months before they had another opportunity.

Smiling, he noticed the windows and doors were all wide open allowing fresh air to breeze through the small cottage. Off to the side, there was a large wooden patio that led to a stone path that disappeared into the thick forest surrounding the cottage.

In the distance, Will could hear the faint roar of the waterfalls. He had to admit that he wanted to see the falls since he’d first arrived on Betazed. The beauty was legendary, and it was rare to find such a treasure planetside anymore.

But things had happened so fast once he’d arrived on Betazed. Within a few days, he was back in Deanna’s arms, walking around ‘dumb and in love’.

So, what was different now? They’d certainly been through a lot in the past year, but he thought that made their bond even stronger. Now it was like Deanna was always there, right within his reach, but he couldn’t quite get his fingers on her.

‘I wish I could talk to Dennis about this. I wonder if he and Elyssia went through this when they were together.’

He entered the house only to find it empty. He lightly brushed his mind against Deanna’s and knew exactly where she was. Walking out to the patio, he found her lying in the sun wearing nothing but a black one-piece bathing suit. Her eyes were closed, but she had a small smile on her face.

‘Glad you could make it Will.’ She said softly.

He smiled and sat next to her. "I wouldn’t miss our last few hours together for anything."

Deanna opened her eyes and looked at the small garment bag he’d dropped just inside the patio doors. "Is that all you brought?"

He looked at her questioningly. "What else did I need to bring besides my clothes and things for tomorrow?"

She shrugged. "I thought maybe you’d have some data to go over, or some report to read before you leave." She immediately regretted the tone that sentence had taken, but it was too late to take it back now, so she readied herself for the flash of anger that she was sure Will would release.

Instead, he surprised her. Taking her hand, he kissed it gently before reaching forward to gently touch her cheek. "Not tonight. No Starfleet, no Lwaxana, no Daughter of the Fifth house. Tonight it’s just us."

Deanna’s eyebrows furrowed at the gentle tone his voice had taken. "But Will, you’re forgetting one thing…"

"What’s that?"

"You ARE Starfleet. I AM a Daughter of the Fifth House. We can’t change who we are."

Will shook his head but didn’t respond. He sat tracing figures on her hand for several moments. Finally, he said, "Let’s go look at the falls."

She smiled and nodded. "Okay, just let me get dressed a little more appropriately."

Deanna sensed the flash of disappointment that crossed his mind. She laughed as she entered the house.

Will sat in the chair and allowed the warm Betazed sun to bask down on him. He heard movement behind him and turned to see Deanna walking back to the patio.

She had simply put a long button down shirt on over her suit and a pair of sandals to cover her feet. Will smiled appreciatively, causing her to laugh and shake her head.

Holding hands, they walked down the walkway and into the thicket that seemed to go on forever.  Eventually, they came to a slightly worn path that led up through the rocky terrain.

Will could hear the cascading water getting closer and closer. Droplets of moisture began forming slight dew on the foliage around them. This mixed with the slight mist that was blanketing the air told Will that they were getting close.

Finally, the roaring of the water was almost deafening. Sunlight suddenly cut through causing Will to shield his eyes. Once they adjusted, he realized that they had exited the forest and were standing in front of one of the most beautiful aspects of nature he’d ever seen.

Janaran Falls was absolutely breathtaking. Dark gray rocks littered the crystal clear water that pooled at the base. The falls themselves seemed to drop straight from the heavens, standing at least 122 meters high. Water fell violently to the bottom, but then immediately settled to a slow moving river.

Will’s breath caught at the majesty before him. Deanna watched him in wonder, expecting just the reaction she was witnessing.

"This is- this is amazing." Will finally stuttered out. Deanna smiled and nodded.

"I knew you’d like it." She said. Gesturing to the river below them, she told him; "The water is warm even though it’s coming down from the mountains. There are hot springs all through here, making it perfect for swimming."

Will smiled. "So what are we waiting for?" He took her hand and quickly led her downhill to the river. They picked a spot far enough down river so they didn’t have to worry about rough water, but they could still see the falls off in the distance.

Reaching into the bag she was carrying, Deanna pulled a thin blanket out and stretched it on the ground. Kicking off her sandals and dropping her shirt, she turned towards the water.

"Deanna, wait-" Will said, taking her hands.

She looked at him oddly. "I thought you wanted to go swimming?" She asked.

"I do, it’s just….." He started but couldn’t finish.

He sat on the blanket, pulling her down gently with him. Sitting on her knees, she looked deep into his eyes and waited.

Only, Will didn’t know what to say. He had no idea how to start the conversation, or what the conversation was even going to be about. He just knew that it was something they both desperately needed.

His mind moved to such turmoil that he did the only thing that made sense… he grabbed Deanna and pulled her tightly into his embrace.

Deanna tucked her head into his chest, hoping her warmth and affection would ease the turmoil running rampant in his mind.

Instead, her closeness only seemed to add to the anxiety he was experiencing. But, Will didn’t seem ready to let her go, so she held on and was content to wait for him.

Finally, Deanna heard his muffled voice. Unable to hear what he said, she lifted her head and looked into his face. "What’s wrong Will? What did you say?"

He sighed and looked sadly to the blanket beneath them. "I asked you, what’s wrong with us?"

To be continued in chapter 113

"Then and Again"

Chapter 113

Deanna stared silently at Will for several moments. She was unsure of what to say or do, whether to laugh, cry, scream or stay silent.

Will desperately hoped that Deanna would have the answer, that perhaps she would be able to just tell him what was wrong and how they could fix it.

However, her silence foretold the same conclusion he had come to. She didn’t know what was wrong either, and worse yet, how to fix it.

"I-I wish I could say for sure Will. I wish with all my heart that I knew exactly how to fix it."

Will thought for a moment. "Do you think we’re just growing apart?"

Deanna shook her head. "I think we’re both maturing, growing as people yes. But is that our problem? No, not all of it. To be honest, I think our dreams are just leading us in opposite directions."

That statement clenched Will’s heart tighter than he could’ve ever imagined. His first instinct was to grab Deanna and wrap her in his arms, to never ever let her go until forever ended for both of them.

Of course, that was just a crazy dream. He knew that it wasn’t as simple as that.

"What can we do to fix this?" ‘Please, please tell me she has an answer.’ He begged silently.

Deanna dropped her gaze downward. "I don’t know Will, I really don’t."

"God please Deanna, don’t say that. I love you too much to lose you."

"I don’t think it’s something we can just point at and fix. Our lives are changing Will, we just have to make sure that we don’t lose sight of each other in the process."

"You’re forever going to be part of me, you know that right? No matter where I go, or how far away from you I am, you’ll always be the most important part of me."

"I truly believe you when you say that. But Will, your heart and mind are leading you away from here. You have to go, and for now I have to stay."

"Six months, that’s all it’s going to be. Once we’re married we can try to get assigned to the same ship."

"That’s not a guarantee it will happen though. Starfleet doesn’t generally put couples on the same ship. But, we can make it through this if we try hard enough."

"I don’t care if we’re put on ships in two different quadrants, we’ll be okay. I have faith in that."

Deanna smiled through the tears that began sliding down her face. Will reached forward and wiped them gently away.

"No, please don’t cry. I can’t stand to see you cry."

Unable to hold back any longer, she launched forward and wrapped herself around him. They stayed that way for a while, allowing their warmth and love to permeate them completely.

Deanna felt wetness falling on her shoulder. Pulling back she saw tears streaming down Will’s face.

"Oh Gods Imzadi, not you too. This isn’t goodbye Will."

"No, we’ll never say goodbye. We’re forever a part of each other, nothing but death can change that." He replied.

Deanna leaned forward and kissed Will passionately. She stood using their joined hands to pull him up with her.

Staring in his eyes, she reached forward and began to unbutton his shirt. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the desire of their bodies took over logical thinking. Everything they wanted to say… everything they needed to say was lost in each other.

Their gentle kisses gave in to animalistic hunger. As their clothes were shed and they waded into the water Deanna struggled to regain her senses.

‘Will-Imzadi! We’ve got to talk-‘

Will heard her in his mind, but didn’t stop his ministrations, which currently were working their way down her collarbone. ‘Deanna, we’re Imzadi. We have forever. Nothing is going to happen to us in six months.’

‘But-‘ The argument was lost when his lips reached her breast. She pulled herself up and wrapped her legs around him, allowing the steady thrum of the falling water to drown out her worries.

Mutual desires reached their peaks as the sun began to set over the lovers. It would be months before they could touch each other like this again, and they wanted to savor every moment.

The rest of the galaxy would have to wait for them.

To be continued in chapter 114

"Then and Again"

Chapter 114

Rays of sunshine streaming through the window of the cabin assaulted Will’s senses as he tried to force his eyes open.

Glancing at the old wind up clock on the bedside table, he realized that he’d awoken moments before he was supposed to.

‘It doesn’t matter.’ He thought bitterly. Sleep was hard to come by the night before anyway.

Rolling over, he settled back into his pillow, content to just stare at Deanna. She looked absolutely at peace while she slept. Her eyes danced slightly behind her closed eyelids, making Will wonder what she was dreaming.

Unable to hold out any longer, he reached forward to gently take a lock of her hair. He touched it softly, savoring it as he would a precious gem lost for millions of years.

‘No, she’s more precious to me than that.’

The chronometer began to beep loudly, causing Deanna to wake from her slumber. She moaned slightly before opening her eyes to peer lovingly at Will.

He smiled slightly before regaining his somber expression. ‘Imzadi, what’s wrong?’ he heard echo through his head.

He continued his silent stare at her for another moment before whispering his answer. "I don’t think I can go through with this."

Deanna set up on her elbow, staring at him incredulously. "Will, don’t be silly. You’ve been looking forward to leaving Betazed for months."

"I know." He whispered again. Releasing the tendril of hair he had been playing with, he moved his hand to caress her cheek lightly. "I just have a bad feeling about leaving all of a sudden."

"It’s too late to change your mind now. Your transport is probably almost in orbit." Deanna added, clearly confused about his sudden change of heart.

"No, I’m not changing my mind. I just- " He sighed loudly. "Maybe I’m getting homesick already?" He added with a grin.

She smiled. Opening her arms wide she drew him into her warm embrace. "You’ll always have a home here Will, no matter what happens."

He reveled in her scent; the scent of her shampoo, the barest trace of her perfume barely from yesterday. And of course, the scent of their previous activities the night before.

He just breathed them in, trying to make a memory of each one. He felt Deanna begin to gently probe his mind but before he could open up to her, his commbage chirped.

Rolling away from her, Will grabbed it off the bedside table. "Riker here."

"Lieutenant, your transport shuttle is in orbit and awaiting your command."

"Acknowledged Lieutenant Anderson. Thank you."

"A pleasure sir." Came the invisible voice.

Will sighed and quickly rose from bed. Standing in the sonic shower, he realized that he didn’t hear any sound coming from the bedroom. Maybe Deanna had gone back to sleep?

Quickly dressing in a fresh, clean, crisp uniform and quickly combing his hair and teeth, he came out of the bathroom he see Deanna staring at him, tears in her eyes.

He sat gently next to her, reaching forward to wipe the tears away. "Don’t cry Deanna. It’s only going to be six months. I’ll call you as often as I can."

"I know. It’s just not going to be the same."

Will leaned down and gently kissed her goodbye. "I love you." He whispered, grabbing his bag and heading towards the middle of the room.

Deanna sat up in bed pulling the sheet over her nude body. "I love you too Will. Just be careful, please."

He began to reach up to tap his commbage but stopped. "That’s it, that’s the one I want."

Deanna looked confused again. "The one what?"

Will smiled. "The mental picture I want to take with me." Reaching upwards, he tapped his commbage, speaking the words that perhaps would seal their fate forever.

"Riker to shuttle Curie, I’m ready to transport." As his body began to disappear in the glitter of the transporter beam Deanna heard echo through her mind.

‘I’ll never say goodbye Deanna.’

Once he was gone, she sunk back into her pillows and allowed her tears to flow freely. To herself she said, "I really hope you mean that Imzadi."

And suddenly, the constant presence of Will’s thoughts and being were diminished in her soul. The shuttle had probably gone into warp, taking Will millions of kilometers away from her.

Unable to face anymore of the day, she pulled the blankets over her head, wishing the sun would find someone else to bother.

To be continued in chapter 115

Then and Again Chapter 115

Several weeks had passed since Will’s departure from Betazed. Deanna had spoken to him several times a week, including a call the day after he had left.

It didn’t matter how long it’d been since they’d last spoken, they spoke to each other like it was the first time in months, not days. Deanna knew deep down that since it would be several months before they could be in the same room together, they’re COMM channel chats would have to suffice.

Alas, she still missed him deeply. She never realized how much she’d taken for granted having him sleeping beside her. All those nights when she awoke with a slight chill, she could immediately cuddle up to him. He always knew how to make her warm.

The first few nights he was gone, she would inadvertently reach out to him during her slumber, only to find a cold place where he used to sleep. ‘It’s okay though, it’s just a few months.’

Magen and Lwaxana had both been harassing Deanna about the details of her upcoming wedding. She kept stalling, not really knowing what to tell them. The original plan of course had been for her and Will to marry on Risa when he got his first shore leave from The Potemkin. Unfortunately, they had not discussed any of the details as of yet.

Deanna made a mental note to do that the next time Will was able to call. There was a little over four months until that time, so they really needed to get things worked out.

Stretching her limbs while sitting at her desk at the embassy, she heard Admiral Sorsha’s assistant Pam bustling back and forth down the hallway. ‘Oh great, now what’s going on?’ Deanna thought.

Hearing the chime to her office door, she knew it wouldn’t be long before she found out. "Come" Deanna barely said before Pam came rushing in.

"You’re not going to believe this!" She declared before flopping herself unceremoniously into a chair in front of Deanna’s desk.

Deanna grinned and cocked her head. "Who's on their way here now?"

Pam shook her head. "An ambassador from Caseyette IV and several of his aides. They want to set up trade routes through Betazed space but won’t deal with Reiton Grax themselves. "

Deanna looked shocked. "Why not? Grax is definitely the one to talk to about trades routes."

Pam’s expression turned to one of disgust. "Apparently, the ambassador has a problem dealing with telepaths. He thinks that all telepaths will deliberately read his mind and use those thoughts to undermine his position."

"That’s ridiculous! Betazoids never forcefully read someone’s thoughts unless they consent to it!"

Deanna saw that Pam’s gaze had locked on to a photo of her mother, father and her taken when she was a young child. Raising one eyebrow in amusement she looked back to Deanna.

"Okay, almost all Betazoids." Deanna murmured causing Pam to laugh. "So, what’s Admiral Sorsha going to do about this?"

Pam smirked. "Well, we thought that we would start off by holding a reception to welcome the ambassador. Sorsha wants your help."

Deanna looked at her strangely. "Why does she want me to help?"

Pam shrugged. "Well, we’ve decided that we’re going to invite as many telepaths that we can possibly get into the reception hall. Any ideas on how to best accomplish that?

Deanna couldn’t help but laugh. "I don’t know who is worse, you or Sorsha."

Pam shook her head. "Well her of course, she’s the one with the Admiral title before her name."

Laughing together, they began the guest list.

Deanna took a deep breath before buttoning the final buttons of her dress uniform. Having been working at the embassy all day, she decided to dress there instead of running home.

Her meeting with the Ambassador had been a bit tense to say the least. The ambassador was very clearly ill at ease, but Deanna tried to put her best foot forward.

Eventually, he seemed to loosen up, even exchanging several funny anecdotes with her about his trip to Betazed. Hopefully, things would go as well at the reception.

Checking her appearance in the mirror one more time, she left her office and walked slowly towards the reception. Entering the great hall, Deanna was amazed how well everyone at the embassy had thrown together such a big reception in less than a week.

A thought of Will popped into her mind. She missed him dearly and wished that he were on her arm at the moment. She would love to be able to glide around the dance floor with him, lost in each other as other jealous couples looked on. But, he was a long way from Betazed and apparently very busy. She hadn’t even talked to him for almost two weeks.

She tried to ignore several leering looks the tight uniform caused her to get.’ It’s amazing how some men think tight clothes is automatically an invitation to gawk at you.’

Not even realizing the thought had slipped from her mind, she saw several Betazoids look her way and smile, a few young women even nodding. Deanna just smiled back and headed towards Admiral Sorsha, hoping she could stay out of trouble.

"Oh Lieutenant, sit down!" Sorsha exclaimed, causing Deanna’s eyebrows to furrow.

Deanna looked at Pam, clearly confused. Pam picked up the empty glass in front of her, making several tipping motions with it, signaling to Deanna   what Sorsha’s problem was.

Deanna nodded, getting the hint. "Admiral, I’m not a Lieutenant yet, remember?" Deanna asked gently.

Sorsha’s face took on a look of puzzlement. "No? Damn, I thought for sure I sent that memo. Pam, remind me to do that tomorrow."

Pam just nodded, hiding a smile behind her hand. Deanna decided to change the conversation very quickly.

"So Ambassador, how are you enjoying Betazed so far?" she asked.

The man nodded. "I will have to admit, it’s nothing like I thought it would be. You’re an amazingly gentle and polite people Lieut—err Ensign. I’m afraid I made an erroneous judgment by not wanting to speak to your people directly. It will be rectified immediately."

Deanna smiled. "Well, I’m glad to hear that ambassador." She looked around the room and was pleased to see several people she knew. Maybe this night wouldn’t be so bad after all.

The ambassador waved to a passing waiter. As he approached, the ambassador leaned towards Pam. "So, is it true young lady that if I ‘think’ about what I want, the waiter will immediately know?"

Pam nodded. "If he’s Betazoid, he certainly will. But only if you want him to read it from your mind."

The ambassador clenched his eyes tight, as if deep in thought, causing Sorsha, Pam and Deanna to smile. The waiter smiled knowingly and watched as the ambassador opened his eyes. The waiter simply nodded and left to get the ambassador’s order.

"Oh, well done! How splendid!" The ambassador exclaimed, clapping his hands together a few times.

Sorsha nodded. "Sometimes, you can get them to jump through hoops and shake paws with you too." She said sarcastically, but then jumped when Pam kicked her under the table.

The ambassador didn’t seem to mind the jab. "Oh, I meant no disrespect of course. I just think it’s amazing how well this planet has adapted to non-telepaths like me. Deanna, you’re a telepath-"

"Actually ambassador, I’m only empathic, my Father was human." Deanna corrected.

"Well, even so, on most planets, if someone came to visit with a prejudiced attitude like I had when I came here, I wouldn’t even have been welcomed. But, everyone here seemed hell bent on changing my mind, which they have. My son was right!"

"You’re son?" Deanna asked.

"Oh yes, my son, he’s over there hiding by the bar. He told me I was being old fashioned but I wouldn’t listen to him. Now look at him, sitting over there by himself."

Deanna noticed the young man sitting alone at the bar nursing an amber colored drink. He seemed a bit disconcerted.

"Maybe I should go and introduce myself?" Deanna excused herself as she left the table. Walking across the room, she nodded to several people before reaching the bar.

Sitting on a stool next to him, she leaned her head into his view, causing him to look up.

"Hi Jacson, I’m Ensign Deanna Troi. I wanted to introduce myself."

"Nice to meet you." He replied smiling. Taking a sip of his drink, he turned back to her. "Sorry if it seems I’m being rude. This just isn’t my sort of thing."

"’Sort of thing’"? Deanna asked.

Jacson nodded. "Yeah, these parties. Shaking hands and being nice to everyone, knowing full well that the only reason we’re here is because we want something in return." He smiled, nodding over towards his father. "At least he’s having a good time. And, this trip has changed his attitude about telepaths, which is definitely a good thing."

‘He has gorgeous eyes’ Deanna thought to herself, and just as quickly mentally chastised herself.

‘Deanna, you better behave yourself while Will’s not here!’ She heard in her mind. Turning her head, she noticed Magen across the room with Samuel who was engaged in conversation. But Magen was looking directly her way.

‘I’m engaged, not turning into a priestess. I just think he has nice eyes.’

Magen looked for several moments at Jacson. Finally she nodded. ‘Yeah, he’s got a nice rear too.’

Deanna nearly burst into laughter, but only managed to choke out loud. Jacson immediately showed concern.

"Are you okay? Here take my water, it hasn’t been touched anyway." He offered. Deanna took several sips before turning her attention back to him, ignoring Magen before she could make anymore comments.

Finally having control of herself, she said "So Jacson, why don’t you tell me about yourself?"

To be continued in chapter 116

Lieutenant William T. Riker tiredly walked into his quarters onboard the USS Potemkin. He had just pulled a double shift, part in engineering, and the rest on the bridge. All he wanted to do was sit back with a nice jazz recording and watch the stars pass by his view port window.

Walking towards his bedroom, he began unfastening his uniform as he asked the computer for his messages.

"There are no messages at this time."

Will sighed. He had hoped to get a message from Deanna as it had been weeks since they’d last talked. Unfortunately, she seemed to be as busy as he was.

After changing from his uniform, he sat at his computer terminal intent on calling Deanna, or at least writing to her. "Computer, run communications link channel Riker Alpha One."

"Unable to comply. This vessel is currently out of video range."

Will sighed once again. As tired as he was, he’d been hoping all day to see Deanna’s smiling face. A written letter was going to have to suffice.

Before beginning the letter, he turned on the Federation News Network to see the happenings around the Federation. He had programmed the computer to alert him of any stories coming through involving Betazed, The Fifth House of Betazed, or the Embassy. It seems the computer had found at least one story.

The news story discussed the arrival of the Caseyettian ambassador to Betazed, and the new trade agreement reached between Caseyette IV and Betazed. Will knew that this deal would benefit both planets extremely, and was glad to see it come to fruition.

The video changed to the celebratory reception, held after the conference was over. It showed the crème de la crème of Betazed society arriving as the newscaster announced their name and what house of Betazed they belonged to,   if any.

Suddenly, one couple caught Will’s attention. Deanna, clothed in her dress   uniform, was arriving on the arm on a blonde haired, green eyed man. Their arms were linked and they both were smiling and laughing. Will barely   noticed that a very pregnant Magen and Samuel were walking in behind them,   his eyes were totally locked on Deanna and her ‘escort’.

Before Will was even able to catch the man’s name, the reporter had moved on to other couples. Will stopped the playback to hear that the man’s name was Jacson, and he was the Caseyette ambassador’s son. Whatever he and Deanna were discussing, they seemed completely lost in the conversation.

Will felt his stomach lurch in jealousy. Of course, common sense told him that Deanna would never cheat on him. Still, to see her laughing and smiling at that man like she always did with him…. was disconcerting to say the least.

Rationally, his mind told him ‘I just miss her so much.’ Closing the newscast, he began writing his letter to Deanna.

Dearest Imzadi,

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve contacted you. Things on board ship have been a bit crazy to say the least.

I’ve been pulling a lot of double, sometimes triple shifts. But my hard work hasn’t been in vain. The Captain has noticed my hard work and put several commendations on my record. He said at the rate I’m going, I could make Lieutenant Commander before I know it.

I saw a news broadcast from Betazed talking about the newly established trade agreement with Caseyette IV. It talked about how the Federation embassy helped substantially in the agreement. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for both planets; everyone at the embassy is to be congratulated.

Let’s see, what else. Oh yes, the real reason I wrote.

I just wanted to say that I miss you. I miss being able to reach out and hold you. I’d do anything to be able to touch you right now. I can’t wait to see you.

Soon though, the time will be here soon enough.

Love always,

Taking a deep breath, he hit the send button and hoped that the ship would be back in range of Betazed soon. He wanted to hear her voice. Actually, he felt as if his body craved to hear her voice, to see her face to face.

Forgetting about the mini jazz concert he had planned to listen to, he grabbed a cup of tea from the replicator and settled on to a sofa in his quarters.

As the stars whizzed by, he hoped Deanna was thinking of him too.


Just as the message light turned on at message console in her bedroom, Deanna turned her head and sighed.

‘I’ll worry about it later.’ She thought hastily. Heading down the stairs she smiled at Jacson who was waiting for her.

"Okay, I’m all set!" She declared.

He smiled and proffered his arm. Accepting his offer, they exited the house without so much of a look at Lwaxana who was sitting in the den watching the scene unfold in front of her.

Shaking her head she told no one in particular, "This isn’t good at all."

To be continued in chapter 117

Deanna tiredly mounted the steps that lead to the second floor of the Troi family home.

Shutting the door behind her, she dropped her school texts on the floor. ‘There will be plenty of time to pick them up after my nap.’ She decided.

She could swear the bed was calling her name, enticing her to climb into it’s warm depths.

Glancing at her desk, she noticed that the message light was still blinking.

‘Damn!’ She cursed. That message was still waiting for her to read it. It has been almost a week, and Deanna still hadn’t had time to check her messages.

Glancing longingly at the bed, she sighed and settled behind her desk. Pushing a few buttons, the computer listed her messages.

Skimming down the list, her eyes settled on a personal message, encoded for her eyes only from the USS Potemkin.

She smiled to herself before opening the text only message. The more she read, the more she slipped into her melancholy.

‘Gods I miss him.’ She thought. Glancing at the chrono, she realized that she had almost two hours before she needed to get ready for her duty shift at the Embassy.

‘I’ll have to answer him later.’ She thought. Moving to her bed, she crawled slowly in and smiled contentedly.

Sweet dreams of her reunion with Will soon overtook her unconscious thought.

Will entered his quarters to grab a report PADD before heading to Engineering.

Before walking out of the room, he glanced at the message light on his desk.

‘Damn, still no word from Deanna.’ Sighing, he exited his quarters and went back to work.

Deanna’s head sat heavily in her hand as she pondered the computer screen in front of her.

The plans to have trained counselors on starships had hit a bit of a snag.

Namely, certain captains and admirals were resisting the idea. They didn’t believe the need for counselors was necessary on their vessels. After all, their officers were trained to deal with the rigors of space exploration, long trips from home, and any imminent danger they may face.

There had been no need for counselors all this time, why need them now?

"Come." She answered as the door chime sounded.

Deanna looked up and smiled as Admiral Sorsha entered.

Taking the seat in front of Deanna’s desk, Sorsha nodded at the computer.

"Well, what do you think?" She asked.

Deanna shook her head. "To be honest, I don’t know. I never expected this sort of opposition." Standing, she moved towards the replicator. "Coffee?"

Sorsha smiled. "You know me well Deanna."

After handing the steaming cup to Sorsha, Deanna thought for a moment. "What good will it do to have a fleet of counselors if there’s only a handful of ships to assign them to?" She asked.

Sorsha shrugged. "These captains are just being bullheaded to change. They’d rather be able to send a crewman with a perceived ‘problem’ back to Starfleet Headquarters and let them be dealt with there. Why can’t they see the need for counselors nowadays, especially now that Starfleet is thinking about putting families and civilians onboard ships?"

Deanna looked at her surprised. "Families and civilians? Since when?"

Sorsha shrugged. "Well, only Admirals and higher know this. But, they’re building a new line of ships, Galaxy class, which will carry not only Starfleet personnel, but civilians as well. They intend these ships to be self-sustaining communities in space I suppose. Each ship will carry over one thousand people."

"Wow." Deanna commented. "I’m sure Starfleet will want the best and brightest Captains for those ships."

Sorsha nodded and grinned over her coffee cup. "One is set to become the new flagship, although the ship isn’t named yet. Her captain is one of our ‘enemies’."

Turning Deanna’s computer terminal towards her, she punched a few keys. Turning the screen back, she admitted, "This is the one we need to get on our side. He’s well respected, and can influence a lot of other captains."

Deanna looked at her computer. "Captain Jean-Luc Picard. It seems that he’s needed the use of the Psychology Department before."

Sorsha nodded. "Yes, when he lost the Stargazer. It’s routine for Captains to undergo psychological evaluation after the loss of a ship, Captain Picard was no different."

Deanna eyed Sorsha warily. "Why am I sensing a bit more to the story?" She asked.

Sorsha smiled. "Let’s just say I know Jean-Luc Picard well. We’re… old friends."

Deanna’s eyes widened. "An admiral and a captain?"

Sorsha laughed. "Well, we weren’t an admiral and a captain then. It’s a damn good thing you know the meaning of doctor/patient confidentiality."

Deanna raised one eyebrow. "Oh, are you one of my patients?"

Sorsha laughed again before answering. "I probably need to be. Speaking of private matters, how’s that fiancé of yours?"

Deanna’s demeanor changed instantly. As her smile faded, her eyes focused on a photograph on her desk.

She and Will in happier days.

Realizing that an answer wasn’t immediately forthcoming, Sorsha offered; "You miss him."

Deanna nodded. "I began missing him the moment the transporter beam took him away. I’m beyond missing him now."

‘It’s just a dull ache now.’ She thought.

Sorsha offered a smile of support. "Well, it will only be a few more weeks now. Right?"

"Just a few more weeks." Deanna reported, somewhat unconvinced.

The hidden conjecture didn’t go unnoticed to Sorsha. But, she decided not to pursue the matter further.

Sitting her coffee cup on the desk, Sorsha slapped her legs. "Well, let me see what I can do to change Captain Picard’s mind. I truly believe that he holds the key to the future of this project."

Deanna forced a smile. "Good luck Admiral."

As the door slid shut behind Sorsha, Deanna settled back in her chair, her eyes again fixing on the photo.

The sudden sting of tears in her eyes caused her to turn her gaze away quickly.

Tapping her computer keypad, she once again focused her attention on the work in front of her.

Absently, she twirled her engagement ring around her finger.

To be continued in chapter 118

"Then and Again" Chapter 118

"-and knowing the captain the way I do, him saying that to me can only be construed as a good sign."

Deanna smiled at the image of Will on her message terminal. This was the first time they’d had the opportunity to speak ‘live’ for several weeks, so she was determined to make the best of it.

"Well, it’s nice that he thinks so highly of you considering you’ve only known him for a few weeks." She replied, causing Will to smile. "So what else is going on with you Imzadi?" She asked.

Will shrugged. "Between my shifts at OPS and extra shifts in engineering I don’t have time for much else. Except missing you of course."

"I appreciate that Will. I miss you too, more than I thought was possible."

"Look Deanna, I’m sorry I missed your birthday a few weeks ago. I know it’s always an extremely hard day for you. I just couldn’t get away to call."

Deanna shook her head lightly. "It’s fine Will, really. Between my classes, clinical studies, and part time work at the Embassy, I was too tired to notice. But, Magen remembered and kept me occupied."

"Magen, I haven’t talked to her since before Christmas. I bet she’s getting big now."

Deanna smiled. "That she is. She’s due this summer but insists she’ll be able to travel to Risa for the wedding."

Will laughed. "That sounds like her."

Returning his smile, Deanna attempted to segue into a different topic. "Will, speaking of the wed-"

"You know, Commander Rashawn is assigning me a couple of bridge shifts. It’s just the night shift but at least it’s a start."

Deanna sighed. His enthusiasm was infectious and she didn’t have the heart to stop him.

"At the rate you’re going, it sounds like you could be in line for a promotion soon." She offered. "Speaking of which…" She reached over to her jewelry box and pulled out her rank pips, displaying them for Will to see.

"The Admiral gave you a promotion! Way to go Deanna!" He exclaimed. "How’s life at the Embassy nowadays?"

Deanna shrugged noncommittally. "Sorsha convinced Starfleet that the Embassy needed to be remodeled, so three quarters of the building is undergoing renovation. There is some new personnel transferring in, so some of us are being forced to share office space until the work is done."

"And how about the counselor program?" As soon as he asked the question he saw Deanna’s face sadden.

"We’ve run into a few snags. Some people seem to think the whole idea is a waste of time." She replied.

Will’s brow furrowed. "Well, I think it’s a good idea, even though I don’t think I’ll personally ever use the services of a counselor."

"And why not?" She asked sharply.

Will shrugged. "I’m just not comfortable discussing my feelings with people that’s all. I didn’t mean that the idea was a bad one."

"You’re apparently not comfortable discussing our wedding either." Deanna murmured.

"What? Deanna I didn’t catch that."

Before she could repeat herself, the chime of Will’s communicator sounded.

=Commander Rashawn to Lieutenant Riker.=

"Riker here." Will responded turning slightly from his console.

"We’re having a problem with some ODN relays in Jeffrey’s tube 14. We could use your help if you can spare the time."

"I’m on my way. Riker out." Turning back to Deanna he stared "Deanna, I-"

"I know you have to go."

"I’ll call again when I get the chance. At this rate, I’ll be promoted sooner than I thought. I can’t believe I dragged my heels on Betazed for so long!" Reaching forward, he turned off his communications console.

"Dragged your heels on Betazed?!" Deanna replied angrily. "Why you arrogant, self absorbed, son of a –"

‘Don’t go there Little One.’ Lwaxana’s voice interrupted her tirade.

Rolling her eyes, Deanna stomped downstairs to have yet another argument with her Mother about minding her own business.

She’d deal with Will at another time.

To be continued in chapter 119


"Then and Again" Chapter 119

Deanna stomped her way through the hallways towards her office. ‘Of all the rude, arrogant, condescending things that man has ever said.’

She stopped abruptly when she saw three ensigns emerging from her office. Deanna looked at them questioningly.

"Sorry Lieutenant, Admiral’s orders." One of them replied to her unspoken question.

Deanna sighed, knowing what to expect. Entering her office, she saw that she was indeed correct.

Her desk and work area had been moved to one side of the room. On the other side, another work area had been set up. She would now have to share her office until the renovations were complete.

"Dammit." She muttered, using the PADDs in her hand to punish the desk for her misfortune.

Considering the way her day was going, she’d have a chatter happy Bolian sharing the room with her.

Sitting down at her desk, she logged on to her computer. Scanning through her messages, she opened one of the seventeen-marked ‘Urgent’.

She heard Admiral Sorsha before she saw her. She was chattering incessantly to someone unbeknownst to Deanna.

‘Seems like she’s found another victim.’ Deanna groused to herself, suddenly remembering where she was. Deanna hoped the person wasn’t telepathic.

Sorsha didn’t bother to ring Deanna’s door chime. She swept into the room still talking unendingly, her hands punctuating her words.

Deanna locked eyes on the young woman who walked slowly in behind Sorsha.

She had long, golden brown hair clipped neatly in a ponytail that dropped completely down her back.

Her golden colored uniform was a contrast to her light skin coloring and deep blue eyes. She seemed to be looking to Deanna for help.

"Lieutenant Troi, meet Lieutenant Commander Kathryn Janeway." Deanna sat back in her chair arching her brow at Sorsha’s pronouncement of her rank.

"Don’t look at me like that Deanna, we need to make a good impression in front of Kathryn here. We don’t want to scare her away too soon."

Sorsha turned on her heel and exited the room. Janeway looked at Deanna again and blew air through her lips, causing Deanna to smile.

"She’s a handful, isn’t she?" Deanna asked.

Janeway smiled and moved towards Deanna, extending her hand.

"It’s nice to meet you." Janeway said, shaking Deanna’s hand.

"I guess this means we’ll be sharing the room for a while. Make yourself at home Commander." Deanna replied.

Janeway moved towards the empty desk waving her hand. "Please, we’ll be spending a lot of time together. Feel free to call me Kathryn."

Deanna nodded. "As long as you call me Deanna."

Janeway smiled as she began unpacking her belongings from her shoulder bag. "Admiral Sorsha said something about two projects I’ll be assigned to with you?"

Deanna snickered slightly and pulled seven PADDs from her desk. She stood and moved towards Kathryn.

"Here’s the basics on each project."

"The basics?" Kathryn asked in shock.

Deanna simply nodded and smiled.

"Well, I guess I better get some coffee and get started." Kathryn said laughing.

Deanna sat back at her desk. Looking over at Janeway she though ‘Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.’

To be continued in chapter 120

"Then and Again" Chapter 120

The rumbling of Deanna’s stomach alerted her to the fact that she’d worked right through lunch. Glancing over at Kathryn, she realized that aside from several cups of coffee, she hadn’t stopped reading long enough to eat either.

"It’s well past lunchtime, why don’t we take a break? We can head to the café for a late lunch." Deanna suggested.

Kathryn looked up at her and smiled. "That sounds great. I think I need to get my head out of these PADDs anyway." Standing, she walked towards the replicator to deposit her empty coffee cup, but her attention was caught by one of the holoimages on Deanna’s desk.

It was the one of her and Will that seemed to catch Deanna’s attention so often. Kathryn picked it up and looked amusedly to Deanna. "This is Will Riker isn’t it?" She asked.

Deanna nodded. "Yes, my fiancé. Do you know him?"

Kathryn snickered and nodded as she put the image back. "We were in the same class at the academy. A friend tried to set me up with him in our junior year. It went… badly."

The smile on Kathryn’s face told Deanna that there was more to her story than what she was told. This should definitely make an interesting lunch conversation.

As they walked through the Embassy, Deanna noticed Kathryn’s eyes dancing around as if she was looking for something. Stretching her Betazoid powers, Deanna sensed that Kathryn was anxious and excited, yet apprehensive.

It was almost as if Kathryn knew Deanna was reading her emotions. Leaning gently over, she whispered; "I’m looking out for Admiral Sorsha." Deanna laughed, realizing that Sorsha had made quite an impression on Kathryn.

"Believe it or not, you get used to that. She’s really not so annoying once you get to know her." Deanna promised.

"Well, I may not be here long enough to get that close to her. I’m just here to finish my command school experience, and then I’m off to the Beta Quadrant."

"Beta Quadrant? That’s a long way from here. Will you be gone long?"

Kathryn nodded solemnly. "A little over two years." Deanna’s eyebrows raised, surprised at the mixed emotions that statement stirred in her new friend.

As they entered the café and settled at Deanna’s favorite table, she studied Kathryn’s emotions. On the surface, she was smart, confident; tough as nails, but still had a gentle quality that set her apart from most humans whom Deanna had met.

Yet at the same time there was sadness… a sense of loss that seemed to permeate her entire being.

Deanna wondered exactly what could have happened in Kathryn’s life to scar her emotions so severely. Deanna of course had her own share of pain, but Kathryn’s seemed so raw that it must have been something recent.

She could of course check Janeway’s record, but analytical date wasn’t the same as hearing about it directly. Deanna couldn’t help but wonder exactly what Admiral Sorsha’s plan was when she moved Kathryn into Deanna’s office.

"Is it always this quiet around here?" Kathryn’s voice startled Deanna back to her setting.

She smiled and nodded, "I hear it takes getting used to, but most humans get used to the silent communication after a while."

Kathryn nodded, looking around self-consciously before turning her attention back to the menu. Within moments of her setting the menu back on the table, a waitress appeared carrying her order.

Deanna had to smile at Kathryn’s cocked eyebrow. "You’ll get used to that too." Kathryn chuckled again before picking up her steaming mug of coffee.

"So, what is Will up to these days? Is he assigned here?" Kathryn asked.

Deanna shook her head before sipping her hot chocolate. "No, he was here for a year but left several weeks ago to serve as operations officer on The Potemkin."

"He was planetside? Now, that’s surprising. I never took him to be one to settle on being off ship for any period of time. His goals were quite clear back when we were at the Academy."

Janeway’s observations piqued Deanna’s curiosity even more. She found it interesting that Will was actually dating other women while pursuing her. Apparently, her feelings weren’t too far off base, even back then.

"You knew him that well?" She asked.

Kathryn shook her head. "I had one conversation with him, the night of our fateful blind date. The rest of the time I tried my damnedest to avoid him." Deanna caught the slight flush of Kathryn’s cheeks and wondered what the hell the conversation was that threw her off balance so.

Janeway must have sensed Deanna’s curiosity for she laughed heartily. "It was nothing Will did or said. Actually, he surprised me. I heard all the rumors about what a ‘ladies man’ he was, but I found him quite charming and thoughtful. He definitely knew exactly what he wanted in his life."

"So why did you spend the rest of your time at the Academy avoiding him?"

Kathryn shook her head. "Call it my own vices. I had a boyfriend my senior year in high school. He was a lot like Will, even down to his physical features. It ended badly right before I left for the Academy. I didn’t want to have to go through that again."

"Losing someone is painful, there’s no doubt." Deanna felt a sudden head rush at the overwhelming emotions which assaulted Kathryn’s mind, and in turn Deanna’s senses.

But, just as quickly as they were there, Kathryn managed to suppress them again. "That’s definitely true. Poor Will, right in the middle of the conversation I jumped up and ran out of the café." She laughed at the memory, shaking her head. "He must have thought I was completely insane." She added.

Deanna laughed along with her. "I doubt that. I’m sure Will managed to find someone to keep company with."

Kathryn nodded, taking small bites of her food. "I was reading the reports on the Caseyettian trade conference coming up soon. It seems to have been quite a coup that Admiral Sorsha managed to sign the trade agreement so easily."

"I think his son had a lot to do with that. Jacson was definitely more open to expand the boundaries of Caseyette beyond their immediate space. Betazed has tried for years to work out a peaceful accord with them, but they were so introverted that talks always broke down almost as they began. Sorsha did a good job, but Jacson influenced a lot of the agreement."

"Sounds like he’s a good young man to know." Kathryn noted.

Deanna nodded. "So, how exactly did you end up here on Betazed directly out of command school?"

"Actually, Admiral Sorsha is serving as my final advisor. I came off of medical leave and directly into command school, but before our final ‘graduation’ we need to spend six weeks under the direct command of an admiral. Sorsha recruited me, so here I am."

"You seem a bit reluctant to leave for the Beta Quadrant though." Deanna said.

Janeway looked at her appraisingly. "Exactly how Betazoid are you Deanna?" She asked with a smile in her voice.

Deanna smiled. "Sorry, it’s a force of habit. I don’t mean to pry."

Kathryn shook off her concern with a wave of her hand. "It’s fine really. I’ve been home for the past couple of months while on medical leave. It was a tough time and I had a chance to spend time with my Mom and sister. So, I’m reluctant to leave them and my puppy. But, if I want to continue with my career, I have to face facts and get back to work."

Deanna smiled. "Well, I’m glad you ended up as my office mate."

Kathryn smiled. "Me too. I have to admit I was worried when Admiral Sorsha told me that I’d be sharing an office with someone. My luck I would’ve ended up with some wind bag." Kathryn said the last line quietly, almost as if telling Deanna a deep dark secret.

"Oh me too! I think we’ll be able to work together just fine." Deanna assured.

"Your last name sounds familiar somehow. Did we go to the academy together too?" Kathryn asked.

"I was two years behind you. I don’t think we ever met though."

Kathryn looked thoughtful for a moment. "Was your name in the Betazed cultural database? I studied that before I left Earth. I seem to recall seeing it there."

Deanna nodded understanding. "Oh yes, Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed at your service."

"That’s what it was! I bet your family was thrilled you joined Starfleet."

"Actually, it’s just me and my Mother left. She wasn’t too happy, but she supported my decision. My Father was a Starfleet officer as well. It seems to run in the Troi side of the family."

They’re conversation continued well into their lunch. With horrid realization, they realized they’d been at lunch for well over an hour. Throwing her thumbprint on their bill and accepting Deanna’s promise that she’d pay for lunch the next time, the two friends raced back to their office.

The afternoon seemed to fly by, and Deanna completely forgot the reason she was so upset with Will.

That was, until she got home.

To be continued in chapter 121

 "Then and Again" Chapter 121

Will stared disbelievingly at the letter in front of him. What the hell was she talking about?

Rereading the letter for the fourth time, it still didn’t yield any answers. How dare she call him arrogant, pompous and self-absorbed when she didn’t even have the common decency to tell him what was wrong!

The more he thought about it, the more his temper flared. Slamming his hand down on the desk, he couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of response he would send to her.

No, writing wouldn’t be enough. He would have to talk to her live; he needed to talk to her instead of simply writing.

He initiated a video message to the Troi home on Betazed. It was late evening so Deanna should be home.

To his chagrin Mr. Zeloh who curtly told him that Deanna was out with friends answered the call.

"Do you know what time she should be in?" Will asked.

"Late." Was the reply before Zeloh switched off the view screen.

"Dammit!" Will exclaimed.

‘The hell with this.’ He thought. Briskly he walked from his quarters towards the Ten Forward lounge.

Deanna was suffering from a major case of giggles as she entered her home. Kathryn was walking behind her, laughing right along with her.

It was 0300 hours, and Deanna had a class starting at 0800. Kathryn glanced around the dimly lit foyer, taking in the décor and artwork spread throughout the room.

"Oh Deanna, this is beautiful!" She exclaimed.

Deanna finally got her giggles under control, but continued to smile. "This house has been in my family for hundreds of years. Of course, Mother did the decorating."

Kathryn chuckled. She’d heard some stories of Lwaxana Troi earlier in the evening, so she didn’t doubt anything Deanna told her.

"Well, I have to be on duty in four hours so I better go. I’ll see you later on." Deanna nodded her goodnight and watched as Kathryn slipped quietly into the night.

She didn’t bother to turn on any lights as she ascended the stairs to her bedroom. Changing quickly, she slid between the silk sheets of her bed. Looking at her desk, she noted that she didn’t have any messages awaiting her attention.

She smirked. ‘So, either he didn’t know what to say or what he did.’ Deanna knew that she’d probably overreacted to his off the cuff comment, but she felt as though she was at the end of a rope that didn’t want to stretch any farther.

Their wedding was supposed to be in five weeks, but they had yet to plan anything, let alone make arrangements.

Every time she tried to broach the subject, Will either quickly changed the subject or ignored her attempts to discuss it.

She knew that the longer they were apart, the more likely it was that their wedding would never happen. However, Deanna couldn’t help but hope that Will would surprise her again like he had so many times before.

She reached out towards his empty pillow again feeling the same tears she’d cried so many times sting her eyes yet again.

Would she be able to cut him out of her life again? Six years ago, it had been so hard. She'd suffered for weeks, and her bond with Will wasn’t nearly as strong as it was now.

Will is a part of who she is, the essence of their very being forever entwined. Nothing could ever change that, no matter what happened.

Sleep again refused to visit her. As she tossed and turned her mind conjured up dozens of various scenarios as to what her life would be like without Will in it.

As her chronometer began to chime telling her it was time to start the day, she sighed trying to rub the heavy feeling from her eyes.

It was going to be a long day with no sleep, with classes in the morning and a shift at the embassy later.

Perhaps she and Kathryn could have a contest on who could drink the most coffee in a day.

To be continued in chapter 122

"Then and Again" Chapter 122

Deanna sat behind her desk staring into empty space. She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Her mind was reeling over the current situation with Will, and her lack of sleep was preventing any sudden revelations to come to her.

"Deanna, are you okay?" Kathryn asked from behind her desk.

Deanna tried to force a smile, but sighed instead. "To be honest… not really."

Kathryn’s eyebrows knitted together. "Is it Will?" She asked gently.

Deanna looked at her surprised. "Are you sure you’re not Betazoid?" She teased.

Kathryn smiled. "No. I’ve been watching you twirl your ring for the past twenty minutes."

Deanna glanced down to her hand and realized that she unconsciously had been playing with her ring.

"I just- " Deanna started before the communications terminal on Kathryn’s desk stopped her sentence.

Holding her finger up, Kathryn said "Hold that thought." Before turning her viewscreen on.

"Mark!" She exclaimed, her serious look immediately changing to a bright smile.

"Hey Kath, how are you doing there in the tropics?" Mark said, a hint of a smile lighting his features.

"Good, I’m really good. This must be one of the busiest embassy’s in the Federation, but it’s a very nice place to be."

Deanna tried not to pry into the conversation, but with their desks so close together, it was impossible to not hear every word.

"Well, I thought I’d call to let you know that the Questor groups is heading to Betazed next week. I thought maybe we could get together for lunch or something."

"Oh Mark, that would be great! Make sure you contact me when you get here."

"I will. Be safe Kath." Just as quick as his image appeared, it was gone again.

Deanna picked up a data PADD on her desk and began browsing it. "Sounds like Mark is a really special man." She commented.

Kathryn smirked. "He is. We’ve known each other our whole lives, although we went many years without speaking. We ran into each other right before I went back to the Academy. It’s nice to be getting to know him again."

The door chime interrupted the rest of the conversation. "If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Come in!" Deanna called a bit curtly.

Sorsha strode into the office and immediately plopped herself into a chair. She looked back and forth to Deanna and Kathryn expectantly.

The two lieutenants exchanged a curious look before returning their attention back to Sorsha. "Is there something we forgot Admiral?" Deanna asked pensively.

"No, not at all. You two are ahead of the game. You were just looking like you saw a ghost or something." Sorsha responded.

"Actually, we’re just not used to you ringing the chime before coming in." Kathryn quipped, causing Sorsha to laugh uproariously.

Once she settled herself, she began. "I want you two to clear your afternoon schedules. Captain Jean Luc Picard is passing through this sector and has agreed to come hear our proposal about onboard counselors. It’s now or never ladies."

"Today?!" Deanna exclaimed.

"Yes, today Deanna. Is that a problem?"

"No sir." Deanna murmured.

"Good, I’ll see you both in my office at 1400 hours." She threw over her shoulder as she breezed out of the room.

"She’s got to be kidding. This gives us less than 2 hours to throw together a presentation." Deanna exclaimed.

Kathryn looked at her nonchalantly. "Actually, I’m not even going to worry about a presentation. I’m just going to speak from my heart. I think that’ll make more of a difference."

Deanna again sensed the turmoil in Kathryn’s emotions. She watched her pensively, noticing how Kathryn closed her eyes and seemed to take several deep breaths before beginning her work again.

But, she sensed Deanna’s scrutiny. "There’s still a few things you don’t know about me. I’ll tell you about it sometime, I promise." She told her.

Deanna nodded gently and turned to her computer, sensing that it was time to end the topic of conversation.

Now, to find out all that she could about Jean Luc Picard.

To be continued in chapter 123

"Then and Again" Chapter 123

Deanna waited impatiently for Kathryn to return from her portion of the meeting with Jean Luc Picard.

Deanna had presented first from a clinical point of view. She, a trained Starfleet officer and trained psychologist, could give a perspective that few could offer.

How could having a trained psychologist onboard benefit the crew on a long voyage from their home worlds? What if the possibilities arose that civilians and families were to be allowed onboard Starships?

These were just some of the questions Captain Picard had posed to Deanna. She had answered truthfully, and as thoroughly as possible.

Picard had taken genuine interest in her answers. On the surface, he exuded authority, a tough man who didn’t allow for such mundane matters as everyday life to interfere with his duty.

But, deep down, Deanna was able to touch the emotions that made Jean Luc Picard who he is. And that was a kind hearted man. He had the soul of a poet, and a great curiosity and wonder for the unknown.

Deanna found him to be fascinating. And, from looking at his service record, she knew he was a well respected voice for Starfleet. If they were able to sway Picard to their thinking, it would be a major point to their side.

Deanna’s presentation had finished over an hour ago, and now was Kathryn’s turn. She was supposed to present the side of a working Starfleet Officer, one who had been in space since graduating the academy. And, one who had suffered because of her duties as an officer.

As Deanna had been waiting for Kathryn to return, she’d taken the opportunity to look back at Kathryn’s service record. For someone of such a young age, she’d already been taken hostage and beaten by Cardassians, and suffered the loss of her Father and fiancé in a shuttle crash just several months ago.

Deanna shook her head. ‘Here I am lamenting about Will and her fiancé had just died. What an idiot.’ She thought.

Finally, Kathryn came through the door, her blue eyes shining. "Well, I don’t know if this means anything, but Picard asked to speak to Admiral Sorsha right after I was done."

Deanna closed her eyes. "His support could give this project the jump start it needs. I hope he sees things our way."

Kathryn smiled as she sat down at her desk. "I’m sure he will. If not, we’ll do it without him. If we put our minds to it, we can do anything, right?"

Deanna smiled and nodded. "Absolutely." She agreed.

The COMM interrupted their conversation. "Lieutenant Troi, Commander Janeway, please report to my office." Came Sorsha’s clipped tone.

"Well, here we go." Deanna said.

"The moment of truth." Kathryn agreed before they walked into the hallway.

To be Continued in Chapter 124

"Then and Again" Chapter 124

Kathryn and Deanna exchanged one more hopeful glance before ringing the chime to Sorsha's office.

The door opened to allow their admittance. Deanna and Kathryn walked confidently into the room and snapped to full attention as protocol dictated in such situations. "Commander Janeway and Lieutenant Troi reporting as ordered, sir." Kathryn said.

"At ease, ladies." Sorsha instructed as she gestured to the two empty chairs at the conference table opposite her desk.

As Kathryn and Deanna sat, they couldn't help but notice the slight grin on Picard's face. "I was just telling the Admiral how lucky she was to have such a capable set of officers working for her here." Picard started.

Kathryn and Deanna both smiled and nodded their thanks in response to Picard's compliment. 'I hope he's not trying to soften us for the blow,' Deanna thought.

As Picard took a deep breath, Kathryn thought, 'Oh boy, here it comes.'

"I'll have to admit that I did a bit of research on your proposal before I arrived here. At first, I wasn't sure about the idea. Starships have been traveling to the far reaches of space for centuries without the use of a counselor. But now, it is true that we are traveling farther and longer than we ever have before. Times have changed, and perhaps now it is time that 'we' do as well.

"Between both of your perspectives, as well as the Admiral's, I can't help but admit that you present a good argument. And, coming from a Captain who has lost not only good friends but a ship as well, I can't help but wonder how my burden could have been lightened if I had immediate use of a counselor."

"So, with all of that in mind, I've decided to back your proposal to both the Starfleet and Federation Councils."

Deanna and Kathryn used every bit of their might to contain the sudden surge of triumph that sped through their bodies. Instead, their faces lit into brilliant smiles before they stood to join Sorsha in thanking Picard.

"I'll get my recommendation written and sent to the two councils immediately." Picard promised.

He stood and shook each one of their hands. As he moved to the door, he suddenly stopped and turned to Kathryn and Deanna.

"On a more personal note, I do hope to get the opportunity to serve with you ladies in the future." With that, Captain Picard was gone.

As soon as the door slid shut, Deanna and Kathryn hugged each other tightly. "I definitely think this calls for a celebration!" Deanna suggested.

"That sounds like a plan. Let's go back to the office and call Magen, I'm sure she'll be up for it." Kathryn agreed.

Once they were halfway out the door, both women remembered that they were still on duty for another three hours. They turned to look sheepishly at Sorsha.

Her look was stern but soon dissolved into a smile of her own. "You ladies go enjoy yourselves. But, don't do too much celebrating yet. We still have a long road ahead of us."

Deanna and Kathryn sped out the door with nary a second thought. There was still fun to be had tonight.

To be continued in chapter 125

 "Then and Again" Chapter 125

Deanna rushed through the front door of the Troi mansion. She just had a few minutes to change from her uniform to casual clothes before Kathryn and Magen were supposed to arrive. From there, she really had no idea where they were going, but fun was going to be had no matter what.

She'd gotten halfway up the staircase when her mother's voice rang in her head. 'Thank heavens you're home Little One.' Deanna frowned but turned to head back downstairs where her Mother was.

'What's wrong Mother?' She sent.

Walking into the foyer she noticed Lwaxana rearranging the photos on the mantle again. "Oh, nothing's wrong with me Little One, it's that fiancé of yours who is in a tizzy."

Deanna looked at her curiously at first and then remembered the letter she had sent Will a few days ago. Understanding dawned on her.

"Oh yeah, I sent him a not so nice letter." She admitted to Lwaxana.

"Trouble in paradise, hmm?" Lwaxana asked. She was trying to act disinterested, but Deanna knew her too well. But, she wasn't going to play this game with her Mother, especially not tonight.

"No, no trouble. Just a slip of tongue that I attempted to rectify. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to change."

"You're going out again?" Lwaxana asked turning towards her daughter.

Deanna nodded. "Yes, with Kathryn and Magen. Don't you think I'm a little old for you to put a curfew on?"

Lwaxana laughed. "Oh, I wouldn't dream of it Little One. Besides, even when you were young enough for a curfew Elyssia always made you break it anyway."

Deanna smiled and nodded. "That's true. Tonight we're going out to celebrate. We finally got a boost we needed on our project at the Embassy."

"That's wonderful Little One. Go on, have fun with your friends. Pretty soon Magen's days of going out on a whim will be over."

Deanna smiled and walked to the mantle by her Mother. She leaned forward and kissed Lwaxana on the cheek before rushing from the room.

Heading up the staircase for a second time, she again was interrupted mid-stride, this time by the doorbell. Rolling her eyes she ran back down again.

"Of course when I get sidetracked you two would be on time." Deanna told Kathryn and Magen as they came through the door. They looked at her surprised.

"Well, I didn't have to go very far to get changed." Kathryn told her, reminding Deanna of the fact that she was staying at the Embassy.

Magen smiled. "And, I had to start off extra early to walk here. Gods only knows how long it would take me to walk the four blocks. I met Kathryn on the walkway." She said, patting her rounded belly.

"Well, come on upstairs while I get changed. Mother waylaid me coming through the door."

As the three headed up the stairs, Deanna didn't notice the COMM system alerting the household computer to a new incoming message.

Once in her room, Deanna closed the door and headed towards her closet. Sticking her head in she turned to her two friends.

"So, are we doing a lot of walking tonight?" She asked.

Kathryn shrugged as Magen started laughing. "That's probably not a good idea." She said causing the other two to laugh.

"You know Magen, you are huge. Are you sure you're only having one?" Deanna asked.

Magen nodded as she plopped herself unceremoniously on to Deanna's bed next to Kathryn. "According to the scans, there is just one fetus. A nice healthy little girl, although she doesn't seem too little from my perspective."

'Little One!' Lwaxana's voice bellowed in Deanna and Magen's mind, causing them both to jump. Kathryn looked back and forth between them and shook her head. "I'll never get used to that."

Deanna looked at her sympathetically. 'What is it Mother?'

Lwaxana thought back to her. 'Will is on the COMM. He seems anxious to talk to you.'

'Okay, I'll take it up here.'

Deanna rushed to her desk and activated her viewer, a smile lighting her face. "Will!" She gushed the moment she saw him.

"And here I didn't think you were speaking to me." Will said cautiously.

Deanna waved her hand. "It's all forgotten. I've had too good of a day to dwell on it anymore."

Will didn't look convinced, but he couldn't deny her. He never could. "You look wonderful Deanna."

She smiled, feeling the tears of ache beginning to sting her eyes again. "So do you Imzadi. I miss you."

Will smiled. "So what has you so lit up today?" He asked.

Deanna practically bounced in her chair with excitement as she quickly outlined the meeting with Picard.

"Sounds to me like you have the project really going now." He told her.

"Oh definitely. Kathryn has been such a great help." She said, gesturing to her two silent friends behind her.

"Kathryn?" He asked.

"Yes, Kathryn Janeway, she's been assigned to the Embassy for a few weeks before heading out to the Beta Quadrant."

Will cleared his throat upon hearing her name, causing Deanna to snicker. "Don't worry Will, I know all about it."

She turned to see the expression of Kathryn's face and noticed that she and Magen had slipped from the room.

"Huh, well that was quick." She mused.

"What was?" Will asked.

"I was going to give you a chance to say 'Hi' but they left the room. I didn't even hear them go."

Will smiled devilishly. "Maybe they weren't really there? You haven't been drinking have you Deanna?" He teased.

"Of course not Imzadi. I guess I was just so focused on you that I missed them."

Will felt his insides turning to jelly. After all this time, he still was amazed at how easily Deanna could do that to him.

Suddenly, his voice became a bit choked as he reached out to trace her face on the view screen with his finger. "I miss you so much. I wish I could just reach through and touch you, just once."

Will saw tears forming in Deanna's eyes. "Soon Imzadi. Our wedding is just a few weeks away."

"A few weeks. That's too long Deanna. I want to be with you now." He admitted.

"What's wrong Will? Your vow of celibacy getting to you?" She teased.

Will's eyebrows rose. "Celibacy. What do you mean?" He began laughing the moment he saw her expression.

"Trust me when I tell you this... Imzadi. No one can ever touch me like you have. Not physically, spiritually, or emotionally. I swear that to you... no matter what happens." He promised.

Deanna smiled. "But Will, what could possible happen?"

He shook his head. "With us Deanna, the Gods only know. I better run. I'm due in engineering in five minutes. And, you're imaginary friends are still waiting for you."

"Stop it! They're not imaginary. I swear they're here!" She laughed causing him to join in with her.

"I love you Deanna. Talk to you soon."

"I love you too. Be safe Will."

After terminating the link, she wandered out of her room with a silly grin on her face. Kathryn and Magen were sitting at the top of the staircase laughing.

"You guys disappeared!" Deanna said.

Magen shook her head. "We told you that we'll leave you two alone to talk, you never heard us." She and Kathryn laughed again.

Deanna put her hand on her hip. "I'm glad I could amuse you two so easily. Now, let me get changed and we'll go."

Still laughing to themselves, the three friends went back into Deanna's room.

To be continued in chapter 126

 "Then and Again" Chapter 126

It was well after midnight when Deanna, Magen, and Kathryn entered the small restaurant on the outskirts of Capital City.

Much to Deanna's surprise, Jacson was there. He was sitting alone at the bar lost in the half-empty glass in front of him.

Sitting at the table the hostess offered, Deanna looked puzzled. "I could've sworn he said that he'd be on Caseyette until the end of the month."

Magen nodded as she rubbed her belly to calm the kicking baby. "He's seriously upset about something too." She added.

"I'll be right back." Deanna said as she stood and made her way towards Jacson.

"So, is this the one you told me about?" Kathryn asked Magen.

She nodded her head sadly. "It's sad in a way. Jacson is very attracted to Deanna. He could give her what she wants; a stable home, a family. But she's so wrapped up in Will that she can't see what's right in front of her."

Kathryn bent her head towards Magen as if telling her a secret. "You think Will isn't capable of giving that to her?"

Magen shook her head. "It's not that he isn't capable… it's more like he's not 'ready' to give that commitment to her. Does he love her? Yes. Does he believe he's ready to commit to her? Yes. But, I really think some of that stems from their bond. He's sensing what Deanna wants and forcing himself to believe he can give it to her."

"Deanna tried to explain that to me. I didn't quite understand." Kathryn admitted.

"It's because you're human. No offense." Magen added quickly with a smile.

"None taken. But Will's human too." Kathryn pointed out.

"It's not entirely that he's human, but a human who for the most part is untrained in Betazoid mind techniques. Hell, even a Betazoid can't fully understand what it's like to be Imzadi unless they experience it. The emotions and sensations that you experience being Imzadi can easily send a Betazoid into therapy, let alone a human not trained on how to cope with it."

"And you think that's what's happening now?" Kathryn asked wearily.

Magen nodded. "When they're together… they're marvelous. Any couple would be envious. But when they're apart, he lives a completely separate life with nary a thought of Betazed. He loves Deanna desperately. He can't imagine being without her. But is he ready to sit and bounce their children on his knee? No."

A sad silence passed between them as they watched Deanna talk to Jacson across the room.

Finally, Kathryn found the nerve to ask. "Is Deanna as acutely aware of this as you are?"

Magen sipped her water before sighing. "Most of that I just read from her own mind."

Deanna hopped up on the stool next to Jacson startling him.

"Deanna! What are you doing this far out of the city?" He asked.

She smiled and gestured to her friends. "We're out doing a bit of celebrating."

Jacson merely nodded before sipping his drink again.

"I could ask what you're doing back on Betazed so soon."

Jacson shook his head but didn't meet her gaze. "I had to get off Caseyette. The whole damn planet has gone crazy."

"What do you mean?" Deanna asked worriedly.

"Ever since we signed the free trade agreement with Betazed there's been civil unrest. That was to be expected from a planet of xenophobes."

Deanna nodded. "But I've learned from you that not all Caseyettians are xenophobes."

He shook his head. "That's because I'm young. My generation understands that Caseyette has no chance of thriving like it once did unless we learn to trust others. Our natural resources have been slowly disappearing since one of our suns went supernova less than one hundred years ago. What will happen if the one we have left starts to go?" He sighed before looked at her witheringly. "Why am I telling you everything you already know?"

She smiled reassuringly. "It's okay. But there's something more that Caseyette's everyday problems troubling you."

"Oh, but Deanna, you don't understand. It's never been this bad. There are demonstrations on the streets. Parents and children are demonstrating opposite one another. Riots have broken out at some protests. My people have turned into the 'savages' they were so afraid to let on Caseyette to begin with."

Deanna looked quickly back towards Kathryn and Magen who were deep in conversation. "Has anyone contacted the Federation Council about this?" She asked.

He shook his head. "My father wanted to but was forbidden to do so by the Council of Elders. They think they can solve this problem themselves. But Deanna, I don't think they can. Caseyette is on the brink of civil war. I know the Federation Council can't get involved because of the Prime Directive."

Deanna nodded. "Not unless we're asked to mediate. But, I do think the Council should be informed."

"That's the reason I came here. My Father and I thought that one of us should be the one to tell Admiral Sorsha."

Deanna nodded. "Kathryn and I will go with you first thing in the morning."

"Kathryn? You and Magen recruited someone new into the 'terrible two'?" He joked.

Deanna laughed. "Oh yes. Now we're the 'threatening three'. Come on, I'll introduce you."

Jacson took his drink and followed Deanna. He couldn't help but notice how abruptly Kathryn and Magen's conversation ended when they noticed them approaching their table.

Once the introductions were made, Jacson looked back to Deanna. "I'm sorry. In the midst of me telling you my problems I forgot that you mentioned you all were celebrating. Something good must have happened."

Kathryn and Deanna simultaneously broke into wide smiles. "I'll let Kathryn fill you in." Deanna told him.

As Kathryn began telling him of the earlier meeting with Captain Picard, Deanna looked pointedly to Magen.

'You and Kathryn were discussing something serious while I was gone.' She sent to her.

Magen waved dismissively. 'Nothing important.' She sent back.

'Not true Magen. I felt you brush my mind.' Deanna exuded mock annoyance.

'Oh, well if that's how you want to be. I was telling Kathryn how lucky you are to have this gorgeous man waiting in the wings in case it doesn't work out with Will.'

Deanna almost spit her drink across the table. "Magen!!" She exclaimed out loud to Magen's unspoken confession.

Jacson stopped mid-sentence and looked between the two Betazoids before returning his gaze to Kathryn.

"I hate it when they do that." She told him causing all four of them to laugh.

"Well, it's been fun, but I think 'we' really need to get home to bed." Magen admitted patting her belly.

Deanna smiled. "I'm surprised Samuel hasn't sent out a search party by now. We should probably all be heading back. It seems Kathryn and I will be having an early meeting with Admiral Sorsha."

"We will?" Kathryn asked.

"We will." Deanna echoed.

"Okay, but can I at least have a lot of coffee before we start?"

To be continued in chapter 127

 "Then and Again" Chapter 127


After seeing Magen safely home, Deanna and Jacson began filling Kathryn in on the situation on Caseyette.

She agreed with Deanna's assessment that the Federation Council should be informed. Although the trade agreement was with Betazed, the Federation did help with the negotiations.

Once they arrived at the embassy, Kathryn bid her farewell with a promise to meet them at 0600.

Deanna silently laughed at the fact that yet again, she and Kathryn would be getting less than three hours sleep.

"I'll walk you home beings it's so late." Jacson offered.

Deanna smiled. "Really, there's no need. I'll be perfectly fine walking home."

"No, I insist. I'm staying at the hotel close to your home anyway."

Deanna nodded her affirmation before linking her arm with Jacson's.

She looked up in the clear night sky enjoying the beauty of the endless vista before her.

"Beautiful night isn't it? The natural beauty of this planet fascinates me."

"How so?"

"On Caseyette, too many years went by that focused on industry. You can stand on Mount Cerisica, which is the highest point on the planet, and see nothing but buildings, factories, and ships coming in and out of the various spaceports. You would be lucky to see one bird in the sky. Our lakes and rivers are either completely dried up or have been dammed up to supply a company with the hydropower it needs. And here on Betazed, your largest city, the center of everything that happens on this planet, is surrounded by a huge lake on one side and an expansive jungle on the other."

"Not to mention the parks spread throughout the city." Deanna reminded him.

Jacson shook his head. "If I had half a brain, I'd stay here forever."

Something about the wistful sound of his voice caused her to look at him. She could see him watching her in the moonlight.

She needed to change the subject quickly. "You know, there's a park near by. Come on, I'll show it to you."

They walked silently for the extra three blocks it took to reach Deanna's favorite park. And, as always happens late at night, the wrought iron gate was locked.

"Why do I think this isn't going to deter you?" Jacson asked eyeing her suspiciously.

"Because you're getting to know me very well." Reaching through the vines, Deanna found the handhold she needed and hoisted herself up and over the gate.

She barely had time to turn and tell Jacson how to scale the fence when he landed next to her.

"I see you've done some fence climbing yourself!" She joked.

He smiled slyly. "A little."

He turned to look at the park spread before them. "Oh, the six gods of Mount Olayna!" He exclaimed.

Deanna always favored this park since she was child. It's pristine beauty was the first thing that drew her attention. But over the years she enjoyed bringing others and watching their initial reactions.

'Just like when I brought Will here for the first time.' She thought, a slight stab of sadness striking her heart. She desperately missed him. Their brief conversations over subspace just weren't enough anymore.

Pushing her thoughts aside, she looked to Jacson. He was walking to various plants around the entrance, smelling and touching them, as if trying to verify that they were real.

Touching… the ache welled in Deanna's soul once again. If only she could have two minutes with Will, just long enough to feel his face once, something tangible to remind her of his touch, the feel of his skin against hers.

At times like this, it felt like a distant memory. Her soul craved that part which he possessed. 'Soon.' She reminded herself. 'We'll be together soon.'

Did she really believe that? Perhaps a month ago she would have, and every time she talked to Will his assurances would revive her belief. But, when his image disappeared from her viewer and his words faded from her mind, the nagging doubt returned again.

"Deanna, this is just incredible!" Jacson's voice pulled her back to present once again. By now, he had begun to move down the walkway, a look of wonderment on his face. She sensed his excitement and appreciation for the beauty the park unveiled to its visitors. He was trying to soak in as much as he can, to forge a memory of it all.

She jogged a bit to catch up to him. "It is beautiful isn't it? I come here and sit for hours. Every time I'm here I see something new."

Deanna stopped walking suddenly and closed her eyes. She moved to the grass and sat down near the children's playground. Her eyes remained closed even as she crossed her legs.

Jacson watched in confused wonderment. After several moments, Deanna opened her eyes and smiled up to him.

"I used to bring my cousin's little girls here to play. They've been gone for over a year, but sometimes I think I can still hear them laughing, or see them running through the grass." She explained.

"Gone? Did they move off planet?" He asked.

Deanna shook her head sadly. "No, their entire family was killed in the earthquakes last year."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I remember reading about the disaster that happened here. I didn't realize you'd lost someone close to you."

Deanna could sense his regret and feel his sadness fighting to overwhelm her. Standing quickly she shook her head.

"Don't let my melancholy bring down your mood. Come, the lake is this way." Taking his hand, she began to lead the way down the walkway again.

However, she began to sense a familiar feeling from Jacson that caused her to let go of his hand. His attraction to her was growing, and deep down she enjoyed knowing that.

Was she attracted to him? Possibly... on some subliminal level. Would she ever act on it? Of course not. She loved Will too much and had pledged her body and soul to him.

But, it was nice to be garnering the attention Jacson always gave her. Maybe sometime, in another place, they would have a chance. But, definitely not now.

Turning to Jacson, Deanna pointed to the lake. "There it is. During the day this is a very popular spot for picnics. Will and I came here several times ourselves."

"You love him very much, don't you?" Jacson asked suddenly.

Deanna nodded immediately. "He's everything to me. As a matter of fact, this is where he proposed." She gestured to the bench.

Jacson walked slowly to the bench and sat down. "So, why doesn't he feel the same way?"

The question at first shocked Deanna, but then she could feel her anger growing. "What do you mean by that?" She demanded.

"No, don't get angry Deanna. You said that he's everything to you. If he felt the same way, he would be here on Betazed, not planet jumping on a starship."

"It's his job Jacson, that's what Starfleet officers do. I'll be doing that myself one day."

"I know, probably within the next few months. But he didn't want to wait that long.. he had to leave right then and there."

"It was a wonderful opportunity for him, he would've been crazy to turn it down!" She protested.

"I think he's crazy for leaving you. I never would." He said softly, his gaze changing from sympathy to longing.

Deanna felt a long forgotten heat begin in her belly and spread throughout her body. It had been such a long time since she'd had this feeling she wondered if she'd ever feel it again.

'Oh Gods, what am I thinking?!' She felt disgusted at herself for enjoying Jacson's affections, for letting his words and emotions confuse her mind and cloud her judgment.

"We have an early day tomorrow. I should be getting home." She said suddenly needing to extricate herself from this situation.

"Okay, I'll finish walking you." Jacson stood and began down to the path back toward the main gate.

Deanna climbed the gate quickly and turned to him. "No really, it's okay. I'll see you in the morning."

Spinning on her heel she quickly moved down the street. Entering her house, she rushed up the stairs two at a time.

Once inside the sanctity of her room, she collapsed on to her bed in tears. 'Oh Gods, Imzadi, I need you.' She sent to the emptiness around her.

Light years away, Will poked his head out from under the engineering console he was working on, scanning the room quickly with his eyes. He could've sworn he'd heard Deanna's voice.

Of course, that was crazy. She was still on Betazed far from where the Potemkin was currently patrolling.

Shaking his head, he ducked underneath the console and began working again. 'I've got to call Deanna tomorrow.' He promised himself.

To be continued in chapter 128

"Then and Again" Chapter 128

Deanna stumbled into her office the following morning and was surprised that Kathryn was already there.

Kathryn looked up from her terminal. Her brows knitted in concern at Deanna's appearance. "Deanna, you look like hell!" She told her.

Deanna nodded her agreement as she sat behind her desk. She heard Kathryn moving around in the office but was busy signing on her computer terminal to bother looking at what she was doing.

Surprisingly, a mug of steaming coffee appeared in front of her. She wrapped her hands around it and forced a smile up to Kathryn.

As Janeway moved back to her desk she glanced back over at Deanna. "So, I guess by your appearance that you didn't go straight home last night?"

Deanna shook her head. "Jacson offered to walk me home and then I ended up showing him one of the parks here in the city. He's a fascinating person… good company."

"But he's not Will." Kathryn offered.

Deanna shook her head. "No, he's not Will, nor will he ever be Will. I just don't know, Kathryn. Everything seems so confusing right now."

"Why? I know you love Will, so that's not the problem."

"Loving each other has never been our problem. His career is so important to him, and right now I feel like I've taken a backseat to that."

"Do you want my honest opinion?"

Deanna nodded as she sipped her coffee.

"I think your looking for a reason to explain why the two of you haven't been married yet."

Deanna felt a flash of anger course through her body. "What do you mean?!"

Kathryn raised her hands in mock defense before continuing. "You could have been married years ago… even before he was assigned here to Betazed. You were the one who got scared and ended it."

Deanna looked down in her lap as she listened to Kathryn continue. "Even now, you want to blame Will's career for you not being married. But look at how busy you've been these past weeks. Will would be left in the cold with all these projects going on in our office."

Deanna opened her mouth to protest but the comm system on her desk interrupted. Slapping the access button, she snapped, "What?!"

The young ensign assigned to the visitor's desk of the Embassy stammered a bit before answering. "Lieutenant, there's a Jacson Movelete to see you and Lieutenant Commander Janeway."

"Send him in." Deanna said a bit more passively. Throwing a glare at Kathryn she again started to protest before Kathryn shook her head. "And then there's that problem."

"What problem?" The door chime again interrupted them again. Jacson strode through the door, a smile on his face.

Kathryn looked to Deanna. "That one." She whispered before smiling to Jacson.

Deanna glared at her office mate again before smiling at Jacson. "Well, are you ready to meet up with Sorsha?"

Jacson rubbed his hands together. "Well, as ready as I'll ever be to meet with that woman."

As the exited the office, Deanna couldn't help but throw another glare to Kathryn, who just snickered before covering her smile.

To be continued in chapter 129

 "Then and Again" Chapter 129


"I certainly want to thank you for coming all the way to Betazed and informing us of what's happening on Caseyette." Admiral Sorsha responded once Jacson had finished filling her in on the happenings of his Homeworld.

Sitting back in her chair, she looked thoughtful for a moment. "Do you think any of these factions would attempt a strike at Betazed?"

Jacson's eyebrow rose at the idea as if it hadn't occurred to him. "I don't think so. They seem more determined to punish our government for signing the agreement with Betazed than actually attacking it. They wouldn't want to leave Caseyette to actually come here anyway."

Deanna got the impression that Sorsha wasn't convinced. "Will you be returning home, Jacson?" She heard Sorsha ask.

Jacson shook his head. "I was actually thinking of traveling to Earth and learning a bit about it. There's really nothing on Caseyette that interests me at the moment. Even my Father is talking about leaving on the next trade ships headed here."

Sorsha nodded her head before turning towards her computer. "'l'll contact the Federation Council and apprise them of the situation. They may ask for me to travel to Caseyette and work with your government to keep the peace, or if need be rescind the trade agreement."

Looking towards Deanna and Kathryn, she warned; "If that's the case, the two of you had better be ready to leave in a moments notice. You'll be going with me."

"Yes sir." They said in unison.

Nodding her dismissal she began typing into her computer console. As they made their way down the corridors back towards the office area Jacson began to chuckle softly.

"I don't know how you guys do this." He shook his head before rubbing his eyes.

Kathryn smiled wanly at him. "We've gotten used to not sleeping. Deanna must have really worn you out last night."

If looks could kill, Kathryn Janeway would no longer exist. Deanna's death glare seared right through her, although Jacson didn't seem to notice.

"Well ladies, I'm going to head back to my hotel and get caught up on my sleep. Maybe we can get together later." He suggested.

Deanna noticed that the last suggestion had been aimed directly at her. So did Kathryn.

"Bye Jacson." Kathryn called as he disappeared down the hallway. Deanna didn't answer, but instead turned on Kathryn.

"Ouch! What was that for?" She asked rubbing the arm that Deanna had just punched.

"What was that for? Well gee, let me count the reasons!" Deanna shouted.

Kathryn walked quickly into their office before Deanna took another shot at her. Throwing herself into her chair, Deanna began looking at her messages before she had to leave for school.

There was nothing marked urgent, which was a nice change of pace. At the bottom of her list, a particular message caught her attention.

It was from the Potemkin. She wondered why she would get a message from Will here at the Embassy instead of at home.

Unless, it was official business. 'Oh gods let him be okay!'

Her heart began to beat again as the message opened and she realized it was indeed from Will. It was short and simple, but filled her with indescribable warmth.


I know by the time I sent this you would probably be at the Embassy. Early this afternoon I had the most incredible feeling that you were with me in the room. But I was alone. I've been feeling alone a lot lately. It's like an ache that nothing but you can fill. So, I just thought I'd write to tell you I love you, I miss you, and I'll see you soon.

Love always,

Warm tears stung Deanna's eyes as they trickled down her face. She looked over at Kathryn who was staring at her alarmed.

"My God Deanna, what's wrong?"

Deanna shook her head. Turning her computer screen in Kathryn's direction she whispered, "Everything may be wrong, but there is one thing that's right."

Kathryn stood and bent to read the message. She smiled brightly and bent down farther until she was eye level with Deanna.

"If this bond is right, then hold onto it. Cherish it... nurture it. You never know when you're going to lose someone. Trust me when I tell you that."

Deanna reached forward and pulled Kathryn into a tight hug. The two friends stayed like that for several moments until the sound of someone clearing their throat caused them to jump apart.

Admiral Sorsha was standing in the doorway watching them, her eyebrows raised. "Ladies, I don't need to remind you two of protocol while on the job. What you do away from the Embassy on your own time is none of my business, but I don't want to see it here."

Kathryn and Deanna wondered what the hell she was talking about when it suddenly dawned on them. Kathryn's face turned bright red and she stammered "No Admiral, we just-"

Deanna's hand on her arm stopped her. "Don't bother Kathryn. Besides Admiral, if you wouldn't barge into our office, you wouldn't have seen anything."

"Touché." Sorsha said before taking her serious demeanor again. "I've just finished speaking to Admiral Hayes at Starfleet Headquarters. He wants us to travel to Caseyette and see what we can do to ease the situation. He's also dispatching two starships to patrol Betazed's borders, just in case. Jacson may not think his people are that fanatical, but we don't want to take any chances."

Deanna and Kathryn nodded. Deanna's heart filled with trepidation at the thought of her beautiful Homeworld being attacked.

"We'll be leaving tomorrow morning at 0800. Starfleet is dispatching the Yorktown and Potemkin here."

Deanna's heart skipped a beat. "The Potemkin?"

Sorsha nodded. "Yes, they'll be here in 72 hours."

'Just my luck, I'll be gone by then.' Deanna thought dejectedly.

"I'll be out for the rest of the day. I suggest you ladies get everything ready for tomorrow. We could be gone for a while." Sorsha turned and left their office and quickly as she came.

Deanna sadly stared at the letter from Will again. 'So close yet so far!' She thought.

Kathryn smiled and patted her arm. "Hey, the Potemkin will probably still be in orbit when we get back. There's always a chance." Deanna smiled and nodded.

Noting the time, she rushed over to the college for her classes. When she was done, she would have to visit all of her professors and make arrangements for her work.

She didn't envy these upcoming days at all.

To be continued in chapter 130


"Then and Again" Chapter 130

Deanna sat in the guest quarters onboard the USS Madden staring out of the small viewport as Betazed began to disappear in the distance.

Admiral Sorsha, Kathryn, and she would be arriving on Caseyette in three short days, and although there was a lot of work to be done once they arrived, there was little to do in the meantime.

Deanna had hoped by some miracle that the Potemkin would have arrived early so she would have had the opportunity to see Will. However, the Madden had arrived first, and Admiral Sorsha insisted on getting underway as soon as possible.

Although Captain Anderson had invited them to dinner in his private dining room, Deanna had declined. She felt a bit melancholic tonight and just didn’t feel like sitting through a formal Starfleet dinner.

So instead, she sat alone in the quarters she was sharing with Kathryn. Since the Madden was a small ship with a full crew compliment, there was little room for guests. And since Admiral Sorsha had gotten a cabin to herself, Kathryn and Deanna had been crammed into one small cabin.

Betazed continued to fade into the distance as the Madden drifted away. Far away, Deanna noticed a familiar flash as a ship dropped out of warp. She sighed wondering if Will was on that ship.

‘It would figure, I’m going away just as he gets home’. She shook her head wondering where her foul mood was coming from.

It was a strange feeling… that’s what was causing this. Since Admiral Sorsha had confirmed their plans to travel to Caseyette, this odd, nagging feeling had been haunting Deanna’s every moment.

She felt as if something horrible was going to happen in the coming days. Whatever it was, Deanna was sure that it had something to do with their upcoming mission.

She’d mentioned it to Kathryn, but Janeway simply thought that it was trepidation about the upcoming meeting with Caseyette’s Council of Elders.

Deanna wasn’t so sure that it was nerves. However, she was sure that the only thing she could do would be to keep her guard up. Perhaps simply hoping for the best would be enough to get them through.

Hoping for the best. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately; with Will, and now with her career. Right at this moment, she wished that she was lying curled in Will’s arms, simply letting the world slip away without them.

However, she and Will hadn’t had that opportunity for what seemed like forever. Their wedding was coming up quickly but Deanna wasn’t sure that their relationship would make it that far.

And of course, there was Jacson. His mild attraction to her had grown over time. Deanna had been flattered at first, but her flattery had since changed to something more.

She’d begun to wonder what her life would be like if she was with Jacson, instead of Will. Jacson was handsome, wealthy, kind, and wanted to settle down and raise a family.

But… he wasn’t the man who could set her body aflame with a simple look. Or melt her heart with a slight grin.

Jacson wasn’t the man whose soul wrapped Deanna in warmth every second they spent together.

Sensing Kathryn returning to their quarters, Deanna rose from her seat to retrieve something to eat from the replicator.

This little trip to Caseyette was going to be interesting indeed.

To be continued in Chapter 131

"Then and Again" Chapter 131

The nagging feeling that had plagued Deanna Troi again slammed her senses as another explosion rocked the compound.

The Madden had deposited the three Starfleet representatives on Caseyette earlier in the day. They’d been met with jeering crowds gathered along the streets they traveled to reach the heavily guarded compound they would call home until Admiral Sorsha’s meeting with the Council of Elders was complete.

The names that were shouted at the transport by the angry crowds were bad enough, but the longer they traveled the worse it got. Finally, projectiles in the shape of food, rocks, and about anything else the crowd could pick up began plummeting the transport, causing the three women to draw their weapons in case of a sudden major attack.

Kathryn had been stunned that the peacekeeping force stood by and let it happen. They seemed as if behavior like this was okay, and not a reprehensible crime as it was on most worlds.

They weren’t scheduled to meet with the Council until tomorrow morning. Two aides to the Council had showed Kathryn and Deanna to their quarters. The men didn’t seem partial either way to Starfleet’s presence.

Admiral Sorsha was lead to another part of the compound by a woman that Deanna sensed resented their presence here, however she had a job to do and would perform her duties as needed.

Kathryn and Deanna had spent a little time in Admiral Sorsha’s quarters earlier before making their way back to their own rooms. They’d all been taken aback at how quickly the situation on Caseyette had deteriorated. Admiral Sorsha was positive that the trade agreement would have to be terminated, if for only enough time to allow the planet’s populace to settle.

Deanna had been lying awake in bed with her mind whirling through the current situation she was in, professionally and personally when the first salvo hit. She’d first heard the unfamiliar screeching sound piercing through the air before the ground beneath her rocked, knocking her harshly to the floor.

Before she’d had a chance to reach for her uniform, yet another volley pierced the still night and slammed the compound, causing part of the wall between her room and the next to collapse, blocking her exit.

Deanna knew that Kathryn’s room was right across the hall, but Admiral Sorsha was a several minute journey. Her first priority would be to reach Kathryn; from there the two of them would attempt to reach Admiral Sorsha.

However, as explosions continued to rock the area, Deanna had been repeatedly knocked from her feet. Already cut and bleeding, she figured it would be easier to crawl on her hands and knees towards the pile of rubble standing sentry across her escape. As she started to dig she could hear unfamiliar voices throughout the compound. Deanna didn’t know who any of them were, yet she knew that at this point, no one outside of a Starfleet uniform was to be trusted. It had quickly turned from a peacekeeping mission to a fight for survival, and she was the only one who could insure that Deanna Troi would make it out of this mission alive.

Continuously cutting her hands as she dug; she was finally making headway on a hole that would be big enough for her to crawl through. It was becoming increasingly difficult to grip the debris but her bloody hands refused to give up the fight. Another large explosion rocked the foundation, however this time it proved beneficial to her struggle as a large pile of debris shifted out of her path.

For a fleeting moment, Deanna wondered if Dennis and Elyssia had struggled like this when the earthquake had struck. Did they die immediately or did they survive at first, digging from the tomb of debris only to be killed in an aftershock?

She shook her head. ‘You can’t think like that, not here, not now.’ She chastised. If Elyssia were here, she’d give you hell for even entertaining the thought.

The lights had long since gone out plunging the entire compound into darkness. As she began to squeeze through the small opening she’d uncovered, she could see light flickering through the various hallways. Rescue parties perhaps?

Or search parties… looking for prisoners. Several footsteps were coming in her direction, lead by the light from a Simms beacon. Deanna scrambled back into her room; pulling debris over her escape route so no one could tell she was close to freedom.

The men were speaking a language Deanna didn’t recognize. She sat absolutely still behind a large piece of collapsed wall as the voices stopped directly outside her room. The men spoke for several moments before one laughed and lead the others down the hallway.

Sitting still for several more moments to insure that the men were gone, Deanna uncovered her hole and began once again to squeeze through. Stretching her right arm forward, she used the floor in front of her for leverage as she struggled to escape her mock prison.

She was almost to freedom when an unknown hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed onto hers, jerking her roughly from her pseudo-hiding place and into the harshness of bombed out hallways.

To be continued in Chapter 132

"Then and Again" Chapter 132

Deanna swallowed the scream that threatened to betray her well trained, Starfleet exterior. She struggled as much as she could against her unknown captor, still hidden by the darkness.

“Shh!” A voice prompted, allowing Deanna a moment of coherent thought to regain her senses. Her empathic sense immediately recognized that her “captor” was actually Kathryn Janeway, the one person in the universe Deanna was the most pleased to see.

“Are you hurt?” Kathryn asked in a hush tone still holding Deanna’s hand as if afraid she would disappear.

“Not too bad.” Deanna whispered. “Do you know what happened?”

“No, I couldn’t sleep and was out walking the halls when the first explosion happened. The way the shots are hitting, it looks like we’re the targets.”

“I heard voices a while ago, male… but I don’t know what language they’re speaking.”

Kathryn sighed. “Yeah, I caught a glimpse of a group of them moving through the compound before the lights went out. I don’t know who they are, but they’re definitely not Caseyettian. I couldn’t see them too closely.”

Deanna began to fumble in the darkness, feeling Kathryn for any telltale signs of injury. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Just a few bumps and bruises. I’ll live. We’ve got to get out of here.” She prompted.

“What about Admiral Sorsha?” Deanna asked.

She felt Kathryn turn slightly, probably trying to get her bearings in the darkness. “That’s where we go first. There’s no Starfleet ship due to arrive until tomorrow night, so the three of us are on our own until then. We’ve got to see if she’s okay.”

“Well, you’re the ranking officer, lead the way.” Deanna said a bit lightheartedly, hoping her glib tone would help Kathryn a bit.

“I was afraid you were going to remind me of that.” After a pause, she felt Kathryn stiffen slightly. “Okay, this way.”

They fumbled through the darkness, bumping into debris and walls along their way, thankful that the shots had finally stopped.

Several times, they would hear voices approaching using beacons to cut through the darkness causing Kathryn and Deanna to seek the closest hiding spot they could. After several almost run ins Deanna realized that the short distance that they’d traveled in just minutes earlier in the night was now taking them over an hour to travel, and she still wasn’t sure if they were anywhere near the Admiral’s quarters.

They were currently ducked behind sofa that had been turned on its side, the smell of burnt and charred material thick in the air. Deanna heard Kathryn sigh as the she flopped down onto her rear end.

“We’re not getting anywhere.” She grumped in a low voice.  “We’ve got to get one of those beacons.”

Deanna nodded, hoping down in her heart that Kathryn wasn’t contemplating what Deanna thought she was.

She could feel Kathryn moving around, searching on the floor. Knowing what she was planning, Deanna searched as well until her hand came across a large piece of stone that had fallen from the ceiling.

Wrapping it tightly in her hand, she brought it forward to allow Kathryn to feel what she had. Kathryn whispered, “Good deal. The next group that comes by, I’ll distract one bringing up the rear of the group….”

She didn’t need to finish. Deanna merely nodded her head although Kathryn wouldn’t be able to see her. After several minutes, another group was coming towards their location. Deanna could make out at least 4 light sources, meaning that there were at least four men against the two of them.

Luckily, one of the men was walking behind the others, a good few steps back. Maybe… just maybe they could pull this off.

Deanna heard the men laugh raucously at something. Her heart sank when they stopped not even a meter in front of where she and Kathryn were hiding.

“We haven’t been able to find either one of the women Sir.” One voice spoke.

The one who appeared in charge snorted. “They obviously survived the bombardment, they can’t have gotten far. I want them found before Starfleet receives word of what is happening here.” The man paused before finishing his sentence. “I’m sure the Admiral would love to have some company.”

The man being spoken to lifted his light, allowing enough light to break the shadows they were standing in. Deanna felt Kathryn stiffen next to her. The aliens were humanoid, although they looked almost reptilian in nature. Their necks were covered by large masses of what appeared to be muscle, all three dressed in black leather.

 The leader turned to the fourth that had just entered the room. “Damar, get back to the lobby. Get two more teams ready to search the grounds. They couldn’t have gotten far.”

The fourth nodded briskly and turned to move back the way he came as the other three continued along their search area. Kathryn tapped Deanna’s arm and using simple motion to lead Deanna in the direction she would hide in.

Deanna moved silently in the darkness, careful to not make any noise at all. She depended on Kathryn to act as the distraction Deanna would need.

As the man moved swiftly using the assuredness of his beacon, Kathryn stepped right in his path. “Excuse me sir, it seems that I’m a bit lost…”

The alien immediately lurched forward to grab hold of Kathryn. That was Deanna’s cue as she jumped out behind the man and brought the rock she was holding smashing into the man’s skull.

The strike hit dead on. Unfortunately, the man only staggered, whirling on Deanna and hitting her in the head with his beacon. Kathryn jumped forward wrapping her slim body around the alien as a dazed Deanna staggered.

“Deanna, hit him again!” Kathryn yelled.

Deanna heard her and brought the rock crashing down on the man’s skull once again as he struggled under Kathryn’s grip. The second shot did the trick, dropping the man on to the floor in a heap.

Deanna swayed slightly as she tried to focus her eyes. Kathryn reached down and grabbed the cracked beacon on the floor. “Damn, he literally cracked it when he hit you. At least it still works. Are you okay?”

Deanna nodded her head causing another wave of pain to rush through her brain. She stood unsteadily staring at the strange alien she’d knocked unconscious.

“What is he?” She murmured to Kathryn. Janeway looked at her strangely.

“Cardassian. Starfleet still has all of the files on the Cardassians classified, but some people have had run ins with them.” She explained.

Deanna was curious as to exactly what type of run in Kathryn had experienced with them. Unfortunately, her mind chose just that moment to shut down as Deanna dropped unconscious on the floor next to the strange alien.

To be continued in Chapter 133

Then and Again Chapter 133


Sharp pain rumbled through Deanna’s mind as she slowly became aware of her surroundings. Surprisingly enough, she wasn’t where she expected to be.

The bombed out ruins of the compound on Caseyette had been replaced by a beautiful green field, strewn with flowers and various shrubs that made it almost seem surreal. Kathryn was nowhere to be found; neither were the strange aliens she’d identified as Cardassians.

Oddly enough, the pain in her head disappeared suddenly, leaving Deanna completely perplexed. As she slowly rose from the ground, she noticed that her Starfleet uniform was missing as well. Instead, she had been dressed in a flowing light blue caftan, her hair no longer held the dust and mortar of the ruined building she and Kathryn had been trying to escape from.

“Hello?!” She called uncertainly. No one answered so she decided to wander a little, to see if she could spot a settlement… or at least the people responsible for bringing her here.

The lusciousness of the area told Deanna that she was no longer on Caseyette. The planet’s entire environment was in chaos. ‘How long was I unconscious?’ She wondered.

And where was Kathryn. They were together when she fell to the floor. She could have sworn she heard Janeway calling her name as the last remnants of consciousness slipped away.

She walked for what seemed like hours, but never seemed to get anywhere. No matter how far she walked and in what direction, she always ended up in the same place. ‘This is hopeless.’ She thought.

Something new caught Deanna’s attention at the far end of the field. It looked almost like… a person. ‘Finally, someone to give me answers!’

Deanna rushed towards the young woman who was dressed similarly to Deanna. She had long auburn hair tied back at the nape of her neck. She walked slowly with her arms outstretched slightly from her side. As Deanna got closer to her, she realized that the woman’s eyes were closed.

“Excuse me…” Deanna started as she drew within several feet of the woman.

The stranger stopped and opened her eyes. “Hello Dee.”

Deanna stopped immediately once the woman had spoken her nickname. Very few people called her that, so how would this stranger know?

“Who are you… how do you know my name?” Deanna asked, still keeping a safe distance from the woman.

Her face fell slightly as she looked at Troi. “It hasn’t been that long… don’t you recognize me?” The stranger asked.

Deanna studied her face but could make no clear identification on the woman. Yet… something was familiar…

“No, it can’t be-“ Deanna stepped closer to the young woman and took her chin in her fingers. “How can this be…”

The woman smiled back. “Anything is possible here Dee.”

Deanna began to shake her head in disbelief. “But… but you’re dead-“

The young woman nodded. “I still am… that hasn’t changed.” She studied Deanna intently for a moment. “Are you sure you know who I am?”

Deanna studiously watched her in disbelief. “I’d know those eyes anywhere….My gods… Cassie.”

The girl smiled. “Katie actually, but close enough.”  She winked and began walking in the direction she was originally headed.

As Deanna watched her, tears sprang to her eyes. “I always knew you girls would grow up to be as beautiful as your Mother.” She said. There was no logical reason to believe this girl was whom she claimed, yet Deanna just KNEW it was the truth. Somehow, somewhere, she knew. “The last time I saw you two you were just babies.”

Katie smiled. “We still are. Time has no meaning here, we exist both here and there.” Her answer confused Deanna.  “Where’s your sister and parents?” Deanna asked, suddenly looking around intently for any sign of Dennis, Elyssia or Cassie.

“Around.” Katie answered cryptically. “There isn’t much time.”

“You just said time has no meaning here.” Deanna responded.

“For us it doesn’t. But you don’t belong here.”

“Am I dead?”

“No, just hurt. I took this opportunity as it presented itself.”

Deanna’s thoughts turned briefly to Will. Did he know of the situation she and Kathryn were currently in? Was he on his way to rescue them? How did he react to hearing the news that they were under attack?”

“He knows Deanna. He’s very worried about you.” Katie said knowingly.

As their walk led them towards a small stream, Katie sat gently on a large boulder watching the water babble by. “Katie, why am I here?” Deanna sat next to her.

“You’re about to reach a crossroads in your life Deanna. Your life is going to go crazy, be totally turned upside down until you don’t know which way is up. Through all of this you’ll feel more alone than you ever have before.”

Deanna processed this information quietly. “What can I do to change it?”

Katie shook her head. “Nothing. This is the way things must be.”

“Then why warn me?”

“This isn’t a warning Dee… just a bit of advice.”

Deanna sighed perplexedly. “What is that?”

Katie stood and began moving towards a gentle mist that had formed in the direction that had just come from. As she began to disappear in the wispy fibers of fog she turned back towards Deanna. “Remember…”

The word echoed a dozen times in Deanna’s mind. “Remember… remember what?” She begged but Katie was gone.

The sudden smell of dust and dirt began to assault her senses again. As the beautiful scene around her began to fade Deanna caught one last sight of Katie.

This time, she was again a small child, running hand in hand with her sister towards their waiting parents. Dennis and Elyssia each caught one child and looked expectantly to Deanna.

She jumped up from the stone in an attempt to go to them but instead was shocked to see the sweaty, dirty face of Kathryn Janeway.

“Hey, there you are. You blacked out on me for a few minutes.” Janeway soothed as Deanna looked around in astonishment.

She was back on Caseyette, the compound still lying in ruins around her. “A few minutes?” Deanna asked.

Kathryn nodded. “Yeah, that Cardassian gave you a pretty good knock to the head. Can you stand? We’ve got to try and reach Admiral Sorsha.”

Deanna nodded. “I think so.” Kathryn grabbed one arm and helped haul her up to her feet. Her legs wobbled a bit but she remained steady.

“Good deal. Let’s go.” Kathryn led the way using the cracked SIMMS beacon they’d usurped from the unsuspecting Cardassian.

Before leaving the bombed out room, Deanna couldn’t help but look back for any sign of the field she had just been in. The only thing she saw was the ruined remains of a battleground she and Kathryn were trapped in.


Chapter 134

Will jumped up from his bunk onboard the USS Potemkin. "Remember!" He shouted before realizing where he was.

Sweat still soaked his body as his eyes raced around the room.  Still not comprehending what his eyes were telling him, he jumped from his bed and raced into the hallway.

"Cassie?!" He yelled drawing strange looks from people passing by. Realizing that he was standing in public wearing no shoes and his pajamas he quickly backed through the door and allowed it to close.

'It was a dream, just a dream.' His mind soothed as he tried to quiet his racing thoughts. He sat down on the sofa with an audible sigh and fixed his gaze through the small viewport behind him.

Below him, Betazed continued its lazy turn on its axis. Why was being back here causing him so much unrest? He shook his head.

He loved Betazed. The planet and people were beautiful. This was Deanna's home, and his home as well before accepting assignment on the Potemkin. He and Deanna had found one another again here, loved and lost together, and pledged their lives to each other on it's beautiful surface.

But Will now realized that without Deanna being here, Betazed was nothing more than another planet to him. Sure, he had friends on Betazed, but most of them were his friends through his association with Deanna.

Dennis had been a true friend to him, closer to him than anyone had been since the academy. He'd been thinking of Dennis before going to sleep, thinking of anything to distract his thoughts from Deanna.

That must have been why he dreamt of a grown up Cassie, sitting here in this very spot giving him a message.

"Remember." She had begged him, but remember what? He certainly didn't know, and she'd disappeared before he could get any further information from her.

'If only I could ask Deanna.' Will lamented. He was worried about her. Once The Madden had dropped the landing party off on Caseyette, they hadn't been heard from. Will knew the riots had knocked out the planet's communication system. A representative from The Council of Elders had managed to get a message out to Starfleet saying that The Admiral and her two aides had arrived safely and was currently being kept in a safe place.

But that did nothing to curve the feeling in the back of Will's mind. Perhaps he was just picking up on Deanna's nervousness. Their bond was powerful, and any strong change in her mood might affect him.

'I wonder if I could contact her from here-' he wondered idly. However, before he had a chance to test his musings, the computer opened up a COMM channel.

"Captain Hoffman to Lieutenant Riker."

"Riker here sir." Will answered curtly.

"Report to my ready room please."

Will sighed. Word must have gotten back to Hoffman about his little stunt in the hallway. "On my way sir." He said wincing.

Will quickly threw on his uniform and tossed one more fateful look out the window. Betazed still continued its lackadaisical turning. And the feeling of dread still ached within Will's soul.


Chapter 135

Despite the trepidation in his heart, Will walked confidently on to the Bridge. He glanced longingly at the captain's chair, a little ritual he'd done throughout his entire career.

'Someday.' He promised himself. 'Soon.' He added, just for good measure.

The moment he rang the chime outside of Captain Hoffman's door, it slid open to allow him entry. Captain Hoffman was sitting at his desk, drinking a cola and studying something on the viewscreen in front of him.

"Will, sit down for a moment." He said idly.

Will sat and decided to spare his captain and start the conversation. "Captain, I don't know what anyone told you but-"

Captain Hoffman merely shook his head. "The information I need to share with you no one else onboard this vessel knows. And it must stay that way, understand?"

Will snapped his mouth shut and listened. Captain Hoffman was silent for a moment before gesturing out of the small ready room window. "Your fiancée is from here, isn't she?"

Will nodded. "Yes sir. She's currently on the mission with Admiral Sorsha."

Hoffman nodded absently. "I know. " Hoffman stroked his beard for a moment as he studied the young officer in front of him. "I never took you as the type to marry Lieutenant."

Will smiled. "She's a very special woman Captain."

Hoffman smiled. "I imagine she is." The glint in Hoffman's eye caused Will to smile slightly as well. Captain Hoffman was well known around the fleet as a Ladies Man. Rumor had it that he had a female waiting for him at every port… and Will didn't doubt that rumor one bit.

Hoffman's expression suddenly turned very serious. "None of this conversation is to leave this room,  and I mean none of it Lieutenant. I'm risking my position by sharing it with you, but I do believe my Junior Officers should be informed when their loved ones are in danger."

Will's heart dropped to the floor. "I'm listening." He murmured through clenched teeth.

"Admiral Sorsha and her landing party arrived with no problem. They were being housed at a sort of "safe house" belonging to The Council of Elders. Although the rioting seems to have reached a crescendo, they were in no real danger."

Will swallowed. "What's changed?"

"Before The Madden dropped off it's passengers, it also dropped off an intelligence satellite on Caseyette's outer rim. The satellite sends broadcasts back to Federation Space every twelve hours. The first transmission reported nothing had changed. The planet's populace was still in chaos, but our personnel was safe."

Will squeezed his eyes shut. "And now?"

Hoffman sighed and spun his computer around in Will's direction. "The transmission was garbled, someone is jamming all frequencies to and from Caseyette. But, this made it through…"

Will squinted through the static and saw the image of two, unfamiliar looking vessels in orbit above Caseyette. They were brown in color, and not any that registered in his mind. They were very clearly shooting phasers towards the planet's surface.

He felt as though he were about to vomit. He dropped his head down slightly and tried to center himself. "Who are they?" He finally managed.

Hoffman sighed deeply before answering. "Cardassian."

Will's head shot up as he locked eyes with his commanding officer. "Starfleet has had minimal contact with the Cardassians since they first started their excursions in our territory. What would they want on Caseyette?"

Hoffman answered carefully. "The Cardassians and Starfleet have had more skirmishes that you know about Will. They've begun conquering some of the smaller planet's that are more removed from Federation Space. Our best guess is that they found out about the civilian unrest on Caseyette and decided to swoop in for the kill."

The moment the words left Hoffman's mouth Will cringed. "What about Deanna?" He asked.

"We don't know anything yet. There is a squad of Starfleet Intelligence officers that arrived covertly on the planet before The Madden arrived. They're on their way to the compound now. But Will, I'm going to be honest with you…"

Will didn't need to hear the words to know what was happening. "They're firing directly on the coordinates of the so called 'safe house'." He said before Hoffman could.

Hoffman let the words hang in the air for a moment. "It was a large building, but I don't know how much of a barrage it could withstand."

Will jumped to his feet. "We have to go! We have to help them!"

Hoffman shook his head. "Absolutely not. Our mission here is to protect Betazed, and that's what we're going to do."

"But Captain if Deanna and the others can be saved, we have to go!" Will shouted quite loudly.

Hoffman rose slowly from his chair. "STAND DOWN LIEUTENANT!" The harshness of his voice was like a bucket of cold water to Will. He took a deep breath and tried to steady his breathing.

Hoffman understood Will's position. He allowed Will a moment to collect himself. "This is why Starfleet Officers try to avoid emotional entanglements." He said softly.

Will nodded. "She's more than that sir- so much more."

Hoffman came around his desk and placed a reassuring hand on Will's shoulder. "She could be fine Will. But Starfleet can't go rushing in and start a war over a planet that doesn't want Starfleet's presence there to start with. If the Caseyettians ask for our help, we'll go. But until then, we have to wait and let the intelligence officers do their job."

Will nodded "Sir… may I have an hour or so to go planetside. There's someone I need to speak to."

Hoffman looked at Will carefully. "Remember what I told you Lieutenant. None of this can leave this room."

"I know Sir. There's a friend down on Betazed that I really need to see."

Hoffman nodded. "Permission granted Lieutenant."

Will left the Ready Room briskly, his stomach clenched into a giant knot that refused to unravel. As he thought about all that Hoffman had told him, his mind again drifted back to the strange dream he'd had.

"Remember." Cassie had urged him. He certainly hoped that she didn't mean to remember Deanna. The idea of her lying dead amongst a pile of rubble caused him to stagger on his feet a little.

'I'll see myself dead before I see that happen.' He promised himself.


Chapter 136

Will sat in the small park that had once been the home of the Petersons. He didn't know what had drawn him here today. Perhaps it had been the dream of Cassie he'd had earlier, maybe it was something inside of him trying to capture some of the old times he'd felt on the planet.

He thought about Deanna. They'd been so happy for so many months here, when did that change? She was still part of him, sharing every breath he took, every craving of his soul involved her. But now, he almost wished he wasn't orbiting Betazed. He wished Deanna was back home safe, and that The Potemkin was streaking through space at Warp 2, ready for it's next mission.

Would Deanna really be happy onboard a starship? Thinking back, he was certain that as long as they were together, both of them would be happy. But now, he had his doubts. Would Deanna be able to live so far away from her Homeworld? All of her family and friends were here. She'd be separated from the culture that made Betazed so unique. Would she truly be happy?

Will had, for a short period of time, thought that he could spend his entire career here. But he'd quickly grown restless, and the yearning to be back amongst the stars took over. The assignment on the Potemkin had come just in the knick of time. How had Admiral Sorsha seen that?

"That's one thing that makes us Betazoids so special Will." A familiar voice said behind him. He smiled and turned to see a very pregnant Magen standing a meter or so away.

"Reading my thoughts?" He asked with a smile as he stood to greet her.

"Well, interrupting them actually. I was out walking and sensed your presence. Do you really think Deanna is in danger?"

Will thought about Captain Hoffman's warning for a moment before answering. "Should you be out walking? You look like you're ready to explode."

Magen laughed. "That's the whole point. I'm trying to entice this little one to come out and join the world. So far…… 'Not interested Mom!'"

Will laughed before turning serious again. There was no point in trying to dance around the subject with a telepath. "Yeah, Deanna is in real danger Magen. And I can't do a thing to help her."

Magen nodded slowly. "Well, then just let her know that you're here. That should want to make her come home more than anything."

"But how?" He asked.

She smiled. "Think of a spot.. someplace special for the two of you. Go there, think about her. You're Imzadi… the answer will come."

Will thought for a moment where he could go. Finally it dawned on him as he noticed Magen slowly making her way up the street. "Will you be okay walking home?"

Magen laughed. "Probably not. But I'll make it. Come and see me before you leave, okay?" She waved and turned the corner.

Will jumped to his feet with an added spring in his step. Rushing through the streets of Capital City, he finally reached his destination.

The Public Gardens at the center of the city. Children were playing throughout the spot as Betazoids communicated silently throughout. He didn't care though, he'd come with a specific purpose in mind and nothing was going to detract him from it.

Thankfully, the bench where he'd first proposed to Deanna was empty. He sat and centered himself, getting a bit frustrated that it was taking him to long. Just months ago it had been so easy.

The world around him faded away as his mind reached out for the piece of itself that was far away. Gently, gently it sought the refuge that so felt like home…


Chapter 137

After precariously making their way through the bombed out shelter
for what seemed like hours, Kathryn and Deanna finally overheard the
information they needed. Admiral Sorsha was being held in the main
banquet room on the first floor of the compound.

The two squatted quietly in the darkness trying to formulate their
plan. Only one Cardassian guarded the door that lead to the banquet
room. But how many more were inside? Plus, that Cardassian was armed,
and a SIMMS beacon wouldn't work too well as a weapon.

"Damn I wish I had a tricorder and a phaser rifle right now." Kathryn
muttered. Deanna smiled gently hoping the throbbing in her head would
abate a bit.

"So what are we going to do?" Deanna asked quietly.

No answer was forthcoming immediately. Finally, Kathryn jumped a
bit. "Hey, how about this?" The two whispered while quietly keeping
an eye on the sentry at the door. As crazy as it sounded, the plan
might actually work if they could move fast enough and think on their

They moved into position with Kathryn in the lead. "Okay, ready?" She
asked Deanna.

Troi nodded quickly and threw her half a smile. "Ready as I'll ever
be." Kathryn nodded and stepped full into the Cardassians view.

"Uh, hey. Hi, were you looking for me?" She asked the enraged
reptilian alien standing before her. He almost growled and he quickly
came forward to grab her. Just as they'd planned, he moved right past
Deanna who was still hidden in the shadows.

The Cardassian grabbed Kathryn's arm roughly and sneered in her
face. "Where's the other one?"

Kathryn feigned innocence. "Other one? I don't know what you mean."

"Don't play stupid with me human. We know there were two of you."

Janeway carefully made sure her eyes didn't betray her friend. "We
got separated a few hours ago. I don't know where she is."

The Cardassian looked her carefully in the eye. Kathryn suppressed
the urge to shudder as memories of her last run in with Cardassians
sprang to her mind. Justin had rescued her then, but now he was long
gone. No one would be able to get them out of this situation but

"I'll put you in here for now." The Cardassian decided. Unlocking the
door to the banquet room, Kathryn looked carefully in before
entering. She saw Admiral Sorsha crouched in the corner on the other
side of the room.

"Gee, just two little guards for us women?" She asked rather loudly,
giving Deanna the cue that she needed.

Deanna caught the signal. Just two guards for the three of them to
contend with. She hoped that their luck continued to hold out.

The throbbing in her head continued to pound away at her. She willed
her empathic sense away since it every time she reached out with her
senses, her vision blurred and she was overcome with dizziness.

Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the heavy piece of fallen wood and
quietly snuck up behind obstacle number one.


Chapter 138

The world around Will Riker completely faded away as he focused on her; her life force, her energy, her essence became his world.

Will felt the first gentle brushes of her mind as he found her, across a galaxy of planets and people. Two souls so entwined that nothing but death could even begin to separate them.

The first thing Will sensed was pain, Deanna was in severe pain and running on pure adrenaline. He gently tried to ease the pain as he called out to her… -"Imzadi.."

On Caseyette, Deanna brought the wood over her head ready to bring the crushing blow to the Cardassian in front of her. Suddenly, the room in front of her blurred and she lost sight of the alien.

"Imzadi…" She heard Will's thoughts over a distance of thousands of miles. The pain in her mind intensified a dozen times causing her to stagger and drop the wood.

Back on Betazed, Will heard Deanna cry out "Will no-!" before the Cardassian struck the blow that sent her into nothingness.


Chapter 139

Kathryn grunted as the Cardassian tossed her roughly to the floor
next to where Admiral Sorsha still lay quietly. Kathryn was unsure of
what happened in the hallway, but she knew that their plan had

The Cardassian who had been guarding the admiral dragged Deanna into
the room. She was unconscious, although Kathryn was unsure of why.
They dropped her in a heap next to Kathryn and laughed as they made
their way out of the room, locking the door behind them.

Kathryn leaned down to Admiral Sorsha and attempted to make her
stir. "Admiral?" She asked.

She lay still, and Kathryn had a sinking feeling at the pit of her
stomach. She felt on Sorsha's neck for a pulse but decided she didn't
need to? the Admiral's skin was cold. As Kathryn pulled her hand away
she noticed it sticky with blood. "Oh my God, what did they do?"

She rolled the once proud Admiral Natalia Sorsha's body over and
almost vomited at the sight that greeted her. Sorsha's throat had
been cut, and they let her body lay in it's own blood. Janeway gagged
and turned her face away. She quickly turned her attention to Deanna
who was just starting to stir.

"Will?" She mumbled.

"No Deanna, it's Kathryn. We're still on Caseyette." She explained.

Deanna's eyes fluttered open. "Sorsha?"

Kathryn sighed. "She's dead. They murdered her." Deanna forced
herself to sit up slowly as reality set in around her. Her eyes fixed
on Sorsha's eyes that were still open, locked forever in the gaze of
horror as to what was about to happen to her.

Deanna crawled slowly to her mentor's body. Tears fell down her
cheeks as she gently closed Sorsha's eyes with her hand. "Those
bastards?" She muttered.

Janeway put her hand on Deanna's shoulder. "Don't lose it now. We
still have to get out of here."

Deanna sighed. "You were held captive by these animals before. How
did you get out?"

Janeway shook her head. "Starfleet sent in a team of rangers. They
were able to get me out in time."

Deanna half laughed, half sighed. "It would be nice if something like
that would happen now."

Neither woman could believe it when they heard the sweet sound of
phaser fire from outside the door.


Chapter 140

Will stalked down the corridor towards the bridge of The Potemkin. His worry for Deanna was overtaking his common sense. He knew that she was in trouble, desperately so.

Will had touched her mind several hours ago while on Betazed. He felt the familiar tingle that came with her thoughts, but then he'd realized the extent of the danger she was in. And to add to his terror, Deanna was also hurt. He'd felt her pain before their connection was broke.

The turbolift refused to move any faster no matter how much he willed it to do so. As it opened to the command station, Will rushed off but was immediately met by Captain Hoffman. Will opened his mouth to speak but Hoffman immediately pointed to the privacy of his ready room.

The doors had barely slid shut when Will pounced. "Sir, they're in danger! I've got to get to her!"

Hoffman sat quietly in his chair and studied the harried Junior Officer before him. "And how would you know that Will?"

"Sir, I don't have time to explain it to you, I just know. Please, we've got to get to Caseyette!" Will's face was turning red as his emotions took over.

Hoffman shook his head. "We're not needed Will. The resistance movement on Caseyette already moved in. Your fiancée is safe in one of their camps. Our intelligence officers are moving in to get her and her comrades out."

Will flopped down in the nearest chair sighing heavily. After several moments, his voice returned. "She's okay?" He asked quietly.

Hoffman studied Riker carefully. "From the reports I've received, she's a little banged up. But, she'll recover. Admiral Sorsha wasn't so lucky. She didn't make it out."

Will's head dropped to his hands. He knew it wouldn't be hard for Deanna to accept the fact that her mentor was gone. Riker too had felt a bit of a kinship to Sorsha. In all his worry for Deanna, will hadn't even thought about the other members of the team.

"Are they coming back here to Betazed?" Will asked.

Hoffman shook his head. "No, they'll leave Caseyette and head directly to Earth for a debriefing by Starfleet."

"Sir I request-"

Hoffman cut him off with his hand. "Will, I understand your situation, but we need you here. We're about to head on an important, time sensitive mission and I need all my good officers in top form."

Will sighed and shook his head. "Sir, you don't understand-"

"I understand that a certain officer needs to get his priorities in order. You're a fine officer Will, one of the best I've seen in a long time. Don't throw it away on a relationship that may never work."

The thought of his and Deanna's relationship not working out hadn't crossed Will's thoughts in a long time. He didn't want to think about it. "Captain, Deanna and I have every chance in the universe. She is a Starfleet officer too you know."

"She may be in Starfleet Will… but is she a 'Starfleet Officer'?"

Will realized that he didn't have an answer for Hoffman. "I can spare you for a few days Riker. But I need you back here and at your best before we leave for Nervala. Do you understand?"

"I understand Sir. Thank you." Riker jumped to his feet and fled Hoffman's office before his Captain could change his mind.


Chapter 141

Back on The Enterprise...

Beverly Crusher stretched her long legs as she smiled to her
friends. "So you had a big romantic reunion? How perfect!" She

Will and Deanna exchanged a knowing look and shook their heads. Will
gulped down the last of his drink and took Deanna's hand in his.

"No. I wasn't even able to spend ten hours on the Madden before they
had to leave for Earth. The Potemkin was heading in the other
direction towards Nervala. And sleeping beauty here?"

Deanna looked at him ungraciously. "Hey, I had a severe concussion.
It wasn't my fault the CMO gave me a sedative before you arrived."

Beverly slapped her hand on the tabletop. "You were asleep the ENTIRE
time he was there?!"

Deanna looked sheepishly towards the floor. "It was only a few
hours." She attempted to defend herself. She played with Will's hand
gently as her demeanor took on a sad air. Beverly didn't miss the

"Soo.. when did you two see each other again?" She asked.

Will leaned to kiss Deanna on top of her head. Quietly, he said "Not
until we were assigned to the Enterprise."

"You're kidding me?!" Beverly practically shouted. She noticed Deanna
leaning on Will's shoulder.

"Alright you two, it's late. But there's still a lot of this story
for me to hear. Breakfast tomorrow?" She asked.

Deanna smiled at Beverly and nodded. "You bet."

The three friends left Ten Forward and bid farewell as they entered
their respective turbolifts. Will noticed that Deanna had become
quiet and pulled her into his arms. "Hey, what's on your mind."

She wrapped herself tighter around him. "Hmmm, I don't know. It's
just all the reminiscing I guess."

Will sighed. "We've got to tell Beverly about one of the biggest
mistakes I've ever made in my life."

Deanna looked up at him. "Not just you Imzadi. I wasn't exactly
innocent throughout that mess."

The turbolift stopped on their deck and they exited holding
hands. "Come to my quarters tonight. I just want to spend the night
holding you." He whispered to her.

Deanna smiled and let him lead the way.


Chapter 142

Deanna sensed Will's urgency as they entered his quarters. Before she
had a chance to inquire at his sudden mood change he turned and
pulled her tightly into his embrace.

"Imzadi, what's wrong?" She asked against his chest. Will didn't
answer, just held her tightly and traced small patterns on her back.

Deanna tried again, this time a more direct approach. `Imzadi, tell
me what's troubling you.' She urged.

Will pulled away only far enough to take her face in his hands. "I
love you , you know that right?"

She simply nodded, hoping that her confused silence would encourage
him to share his troubles with her. He smiled slightly and bent to
kiss her forehead. Locking eyes with hers, he pulled her slowly to
the sofa in his room. Sitting down, Will held Deanna's gaze with his

"Nothing wrong." He whispered finally. He could tell by her
expression that she didn't believe him, so he grinned and took her
hands in his. "For the first time in so long everything is right."

Deanna began to understand. "All this talk of the past is making you
feel uncomfortable."

Will nodded slowly. "Partially? old ghosts perhaps?" He sighed
heavily trying to find a way to convey his thoughts. "Things have
been so perfect for us since we were in The Briar Patch, I'd almost
forgotten how bad things had gotten back then."

Deanna nodded. She thought of an old expression she'd heard used
several times. "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?" She
tenderly touched his bearded cheek and smiled. "Because we let other
things get in the way of us before, that doesn't mean it'll happen

Will shook his head. "That's not what's worrying me Deanna. We're not
the same people now that we were back then. Hell, we're not even the
same people we were when we first stepped on to the Enterprise. We've
both changed. It just makes me wonder what's next on the horizon for

"We have changed, that is true. But I think we've changed for the
better, don't you?" She asked quietly.

Will nodded. "There is one thing that hasn't changed."

She looked at him expectantly as he continued. "I feel like my life
started when I met you. I've loved you forever, and that will never

Deanna fought down the emotion that threatened to spill down her
cheeks. She kissed his inviting lips tenderly before
whispering, "Come to bed Imzadi."


Chapter 143

Time stood still the moment Deanna led Will through his bedroom door. She immediately turned to reach for her fiancé as he hungrily drank in her essence.

They’d been in this very situation innumerable times, but that didn’t detract from every new occurrence, and it certainly didn’t make each time just as special.

Will reached for her blindly as passion overtook his rational thought. Deanna had a way of igniting ever fiber of his being by just brushing her mind to his. She wrapped her arms around his tall frame as their lips sought each other out again.

He felt breathless as heat seared through is body. Trailing his lips to her ear and then down her neck, he heard a small moan escape Deanna’s throat. She was so beautiful, so passionate, and so responsive to his touch that Will truly believed he could completely lose himself in her.

Deanna’s hands wandered to the fastenings of his uniform. Her fingers deftly had it open in moments and she pulled it quickly off his shoulders. Will pulled back and smiled, remembering how shy a lover she’d been the first time they were together. Now, she was practically ravaging him.

His hands slid to cup her breasts through her blouse as their lips found each other again. His hands began working on her blouse but she pulled away suddenly. She smiled and shook her head.

Will licked his lips eagerly, knowing exactly what Deanna was up to. He watched lustfully as she stepped back towards the bed and began undressing herself. Her eyes told him to do the same and they had to force themselves to go slowly.

Their clothing landed in a heap on the floor she licked her lips as she stared at his obvious desire for her. He stepped closer to the Goddess that was all for him and using his hand, traced from her cheek down her body until he reached her bellybutton. Through their eyes, the souls locked together.

She took his hand and continued it along its previous path until he could feel her warm, moist center. He gently rubbed and teased her until she pressed against him, telling him what she wanted. Using one finger at first, he gently entered her causing her head to roll back as her breathing became irregular.

She moaned in frustration when he removed his hand. He didn’t want her to go over any edges without him, and if he’d kept up his ministrations she definitely would have went on that trip alone. Unwilling to wait any longer, she took his hand again and led him closer to the bed.

Throwing herself in to his arms, she kissed him again before allowing her lips to travel down his Adam’s Apple to his strong chest. Gently, she tweaked his nipple with her teeth before moving to the other one. Her hands had traveled to his thighs, and finally took his erection. Gently she cupped and squeezed him making his already hard member stiffen to painful attention. His breathing became rapid causing her to release his nipple and smile.

Will wrapped his hands in her hair as she attacked again. Her lips trailed down until she dropped to her knees. Riker’s toes curled into the carpeting as Deanna gently took him in her mouth, gently sucking the life out of him as her hand began a soft pumping motion on his testicles.

He moaned loudly as Deanna continued. His legs felt weak suddenly and the lights in his quarters suddenly began to dim. He pulled her hair gently and whispered “De- Deanna-“ She could sense that his release was close so she pulled away again.

Standing, she kissed his lips again. Will grabbed her shoulders and roughly bounced them on to the bed, pressing her down against the mattress with his large body. She giggled and wrapped her arms around him as he took her breast in his mouth. His fingers again found her center and teased her until she gasped and moaned loudly. His fingers entered her and began a steady pumping rhythm, causing her head to thrash from side to side uncontrollably.

His mouth released her breast and trailed down her stomach. He thrust his tongue into her belly button that always caused her to laugh. He pulled his fingers from her and used his hands to push her legs apart. She drew them up and bent them at the knees allowing Will easy access.

His lips found her center and he began to suck on her clit. Her head began its wild thrashing movements again. Her hands grasped tightly to the blankets as Will drove her to ecstasy. She moaned as her hips began to thrust slightly against his mouth. She moaned his name and grabbed his head before her body came to full release.

Will moved back up to look into her eyes as she came back to her senses. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “You are so amazing.” She whispered before reaching out to him. Wrapping her arms around him, she gently pulled him directly on top of her.

They kissed for what seemed like eternity until she felt his erection pressing against her thigh. Deanna shifted slightly underneath him before reaching up to play with a lock of hair on his temple. “I love you.” She whispered, sending shivers through his soul.

She wrapped her legs around his. Will moved himself towards her opening and teased several times causing her sigh.

‘And you call me a vixen?’ She sent to him before taking his erection in her hand and guiding it to exactly where she wanted it. He smiled and stared down at her face before he gently entered her. Her eyes closed again as he sunk in slowly, deeper and deeper.

Will always felt like a giant on top of Deanna’s small frame. The idea of hurting her physically, whether accidental or not, terrified him. Deanna winced silently causing Will to immediately stop. She shifted her body slightly and drew her legs up around his back. Locking her ankles together, she thrust against him allowing him to sink even deeper into her depths.

They lay absolutely still, skin to skin, he buried in her in the most intimate way. He stared into her eyes as their souls reached out and entwined with it’s other half. Their bodies wouldn’t be denied as hers thrust up against his causing them both to moan. He began to slowly rock against her as physical lust overtook them again.

His gentle rocking motions became full fledged thrusts as their sweat slicked bodies began their eternal dance to pleasure. Will’s arms were resting above Deanna’s shoulders and he used them to control how much weight he put directly on her.

She was moaning softly, her breathing absolutely ragged. She forced herself to focus and opened her eyes. Using all the strength she could muster, she pushed against Will and he responded by rolling them over so that she was on top.

They were now in a sitting position but never missed a beat as they continued their movements. Will felt the familiar feeling course through his veins as Deanna cried out against his shoulder. Within seconds the world around Will exploded as he toppled over the edge with her.

The stayed still for several moments, their heads rested on the other’s shoulder. Will finally raised his head so that they were face to face. He picked up a sweaty lock of hair and moved it of her face. “I love you so much.” He told her, sending a chill through her entire body.

She smiled and kissed him gently. “I know.” She promised. Unlocking her ankles from behind him she relaxed her body slightly but didn’t pull away. Will pulled her tightly against him again just to rest his head on hers.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you again.” He said quietly.

Deanna raised her head up and was surprised by the serious look on his face. She pulled her body away from his slowly, sighing loudly as he withdrew from her. Her body screamed in protest as she pulled her legs underneath herself and sat up. “You won’t lose me again Imzadi. I promise.”

Will suddenly didn’t seem convinced. “We thought that before, and look what happened.”

Deanna, unsure of what else to say to reassure him, drew him into her arms. She pulled the blankets back and climbed underneath, waiting until Will spooned behind her and wrapped her in his strong arms. He kissed her temple before allowing himself to relax enough to drift into a sated sleep.


Chapter 144

The following morning, Deanna wandered tentatively into the morning
staff briefing. She'd awoken that morning to find Will already gone.
So, she wasn't surprised when he was one of the first people to be at
the meeting.

He was staring out of the viewport window, seemingly unaware that
anyone else had even entered the room. However, Deanna knew better.
He could feel her presence as well as she could sense his.

She walked silently up behind him trying to gauge his emotions as she
did so. She was disappointed to discover that he had blocked her,
closing his inner mind like a steel trap.

"Will-?" She questioned.

He shook his head and turned to her, embracing her tightly in his
long arms. He buried his face on her shoulder, seemingly holding on
to her for dear life.

"Will, tell me what's wrong?" she prompted again.

He lifted his face to look at her. "Nothing- nothing's wrong. For the
first time in a long time, everything is just right."

Deanna regarded him oddly. "Something is troubling you."

He thought for a moment, trying to summon up his thoughts. "It
occurred to me last night when we were talking to Beverly, when the
last time I felt like this about my life."

"And what is 'this' feeling you have?" She asked softly.

He smiled slowly. "It's perfect. Everything is perfect. We're
together and happy, probably as happy as we've been since-"

"Since before the earthquake." She finished.

Will nodded slowly, allowing his hands to travel down and rest at the
base of her spine. "Everything was just so perfect then. And then, in
the space of a few hours, everything changed."

"That's because we changed. No one can go through a traumatic event
like that and not come out of it different than they went in."

Will shook his head again. "It's not that. It's just? doesn't it seem
like fate is always kicking us down just when things are going our
way? What if that's a perpetual pattern for us?"

Deanna was surprised to hear Will speak like this. He'd never been a
very philosophical man before, but now this burden was weighing
heavily on his mind.

"It's not what we're destined for Will. Fate just decided to test us."

"Gods I hope you're right Deanna. I can't do it again, I can't go
through losing you again." His eyes were brimming with tears. His
emotional response caught Deanna in the throat.

She pulled his body tightly to hers and opened her mind to his,
allowing her own strength to seep into his soul and ease his burden.

'I promise Imzadi, no matter what it takes, it won't happen again.
I'm not going anywhere.' She whispered in his mind.

He responded by holding her even tighter, almost squeezing the air
out of her. They stayed like that for several moments until the rest
of the Senior Staff began coming through the doorway.

"Alright you two, break it up." Beverly said with a smile. Before
Captain Picard started the meeting Beverly asked Will, "Are we
meeting in Ten Forward tonight?"

Will smiled and nodded. "You bet."

"Good, I can't wait to hear the rest of this story!" She enthused
before turning her attention to Picard.