What Once Was Lost...

AUTHOR: Deb Gramlich
RATING:  PG-13 (For Suggestiveness)
CODES:  R/T-Imzadi
SETTING- Between the bubble bath and when Data first noticed Will's missing beard...

Most of the following characters belong to Paramount/Viacom. Any characters you don't recognize belong to me and my twisted little world.

Blinding white light.....spots.....complete darkness.

Will Riker's vision slowly began to swim back into focus as Deanna collapsed into a tangled heap on top of him. She tucked her head under his chin as he wrapped her tightly in his arms.

Will could feel her warmth permeating every inch of his nude body. It was a feeling he relished many many years ago.. and one he never thought he would get to experience again.

They'd always had a special closeness, a relationship only the two of them could understand. Well, sometimes he pretended to understand it, but he never really did. He just loved having her near him, no matter what capacity it was in.

And then Worf came along and stole her away.  Well, no he didn't. Worf had been man enough to step up and take charge of his feelings for Deanna.  Worf and even come to Will to ask if it would bother him. Of course, Will had given his blessing. He never thought in a million years that seeing Deanna in a happy loving relationship with another man would make him so crazy. Of course.... he never thought Deanna would even begin a relationship with Worf.

When she had, things seemed to deteriorate. Will saw Deanna less and less. It was as if an invisible wall had been put up between them, and neither one of them knew how to breach it. There was always an awkwardness.

Will remembered when he had caught Deanna skinny dipping on Veridian III when the Enterprise D had crashed landed. She had used her nudity to tease him, and he acted as if it didn't bother him in the slightest. But, turning his head away while she exited the water was one of the hardest things he'd ever done.

There were a lot of hurt feelings and harsh words thrown between the two of them on Betazed just days later. And of course, when Worf realized that Will hadn't completely gotten over Deanna, it had turned violent.

Worf and Will had always been great friends. And now, Will was lucky to receive a communique from Worf every six months. Their friendship was now all but ruined.

Will sighed deeply. Deanna stirred and raised her head, her eyebrows furrowed in question.

Will just smiled and shook his head to her unanswered question. Leaning down, he kissed her on the forehead. Deanna leaned her head up and kissed him passionately on the lips. before leaning her head down and tucking it under Will's chin again. She wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled in as close as she could get.

After a few moments, Will felt her breathing even out. She had fallen into a soft sleep.

Will leaned his head back and stared at her face. He brought his hand up her bare back and gently stroked her hair and then her cheek. Nestling down closer, he joined Deanna in contented slumber.

Deanna Troi awoke to a slight chill in the air. Forcing the sleepy haze out of her mind she realized that she and Will had knocked the covers almost entirely off the bed.

She tried to reach down and pull them up to cover themselves up, but she slipped and inadvertently knocked her forehead into Will's chin.

"Oww, you didn't have to get violent." Will said, raising his head up and rubbing his chin.

She smiled. "I'm sorry Will, I was trying to reach the blankets." Sliding off of Will's chest, she reached down and pulled the blankets up to her shoulders.

"Come here, I'll keep you warm." Will said with a smile. Deanna smiled back and nestled herself onto his shoulder.

"You're right, you always know how to keep me warm." She said smiling.

Will looked serious for a moment. "You keep me warm in so many ways." He said.

Looking up at him, she brushed his mind with her own. She was surprised to see that Will had erected walls to block her.

"Don't Deanna, don't do it that way. I need to try to explain this to you."

"Explain what Will?" She said confused. He paused, trying to sum all the feelings and emotions of the past years.

"Will, please tell me what's troubling you." Deanna suddenly looked stressed. "Oh Gods Will, is it this.. us?"

She immediately pulled from his embrace and began to get out of the bed. "No, no Deanna wait. It's not us... well it is us but...."

"Will, please...."

He took her hand, pulling her closer to him again. Taking her hand, he placed it over his heart.

"Do you feel that?" He asked her.

Still confused, she nodded. "Yes, your heartbeat."

Will smiled, allowing the barriers in his mind to ease some. Deanna immediately felt the change. She could feel the warmth, love and protection emanating from him and permeating her depths, her body, her mind, her soul.

Laying her head down on his chest, she listened to his heartbeat for several moments. Finally Will spoke again.

"It's stronger now Deanna, can't you feel it?"

Deanna didn't speak, didn't move, she just listened.

Will spoke thoughtfully. "All these years, I've searched and searched for someone to fill the void that was left in my spirit all those years ago on Betazed. I always thought that my career would be enough to fulfill me. But it never came close to fulfilling my heart. All this time I've wasted, I never even realized that the answer was right beside me all along."

"I've always been here Will." And then, a bit guiltily, she admitted. "Okay, not always."

The memories of the images Will used to conjure up in his head sprung up again. Worf and Deanna kissing, their intimate dinners, making love. Amazingly, Will knew everything, exactly.

Deanna gasped. "Will, how-how did you know?"

"I always thought it was in my imagination. I thought I was being petty and jealous, but I wasn't was I? I was seeing all those things through you... through our bond."

Deanna shuddered, burying her head on Will's chest again. "It's over with Will, it has been for a long time."

"I know that Deanna, believe me, I know. But I need to know..... how did you do it?"

Deanna looked up at him again. "Do what?"

Will avoided her gaze as he chose his words carefully. "How did you make it through all those nights when I was involved with someone else? Did you know? Could you sense it too?"

Taking a deep breath, she nodded. She spoke quietly, barely above a whisper. "Sometimes."

Guilt, pain, rage all emanated from him at once. He was furious with himself for putting Deanna through that. 'My Gods, how many times must she have laid awake at night knowing.......'

Deanna, sensing his torment, spoke quickly. "How did I get through it? That was easy. No one in this galaxy knows you like I do Will Riker. No matter who you were involved in, no matter what the situation was, I always knew."

"Knew what Deanna?"

"I always knew that it would end up just you and I."

Will let her words soak in for a few moments. "Did you love Worf?"

"In a way I guess I did. It was never close to being the same as the love you and I have always shared. When he proposed to me, my mind screamed at me to say 'no', but for some weird reason, I said yes. It was just never right" She shrugged for emphasis.

Will tightened his embrace on her, just reveling in the feel of them being together, again, this time forever.

"I do know this Imzadi....." Will started.

She looked up at him expectantly. "I lost a huge part of my soul back on Betazed. I had a chance to reclaim it on Risa, but I was afraid to."

She sighed, remembering how she felt when he canceled their rendezvous on Risa.

Will pulled her chin up with his fingers. "No more sadness Deanna."

Deanna's eyes filled with tears as she smiled. "You know Will, it could just be the metaphasic radiation from the planet making us feel this way." She teased.

She reached up and pulled his lips down to hers. Their hands began their gentle exploration of each other again, only to be interrupted by the COMM system.

"Worf to Commander Riker."

Will groaned, pulling breathlessly away from Deanna. "He's doing that on purpose." Deanna snickered.

"Go ahead Worf."

"Sir, sorry to interrupt you, but Lieutenant Commander Data and Captain Picard are about to beam back from the planet's surface."

"Tell them I'll meet them on the way to the transporter room. Riker out."

Will looked apologetically to Deanna. She smiled and rolled away from him, climbing lazily out of the bed. "Well, I guess I'll just wander back to my quarters then."

Will jumped up and grabbed her, pulling her back to the bed laughing. "Not this time!"

They stared into one anothers eyes for what seemed like forever. Finally, Will said: "There's an old Earth saying that a person's eyes are the windows to their soul. I've found the other half of all that I am, and I'm not letting you go this time."

They shared one more passionate kiss, and Will reluctantly climbed out of bed. "I'll be back as soon as I can." He called out from the bathroom.

"I know Imzadi, I truly know this time." She whispered.