- Delirium -
By F J

Morning. Deanna had no desire to get up yet. While it was still far away from being an actual killer hangover -and there was no doubt in her head it would grow into that within minutes- the dull feeling was even further away from being enjoyable. Her tongue traced her dried-up upper lips, but in her listless state the faint, lingering taste of last night's drinks didn't quite make through to her senses.

Blurry images raced past, too fast for her mind to grab on to or even identify. 'Never again,' she thought. Never again was she going to be a party to the senior crew's drinking games.

An annual ritual? Probably. But hardly an obligation. Not once during her seven- year tour on the Enterprise had they been able to persuade her to participate, but Will had been so damned persistent yesterday she had been in no position to refuse.

Guinan -annoyed at seeing most of her stock of genuine Romulan ales being guzzled down like cheap wine- had left the lounge about two hours early, telling them to lock up. About the time things were 'getting interesting', Deanna recalled Geordi commenting between two misty visions that were starting to haunt her.

An empty glass, another one filled to the brim. A horrifying thought started to make its appearance, suggesting to her that it must have been like that during the entire evening. Empty, full, empty, full, empty ... ongoing fragments, her head trying to make sense of whatever occurred last night. She felt nauseous. And focussing on the lamp on the nightstand didn't help either, not with the real thing flowing freely through her veins.

* * *

Will's eyelids felt swollen, and in fact all of his body felt like it had been in a fight. A fight he had probably lost, judging from the numbness in his limbs. The one thing he could manage was a small grabbing motion with his right hand, very likely due to the extensive practicing he'd done last evening in the lounge.

If only to keep up with Worf, which had been a futile attempt to begin with. 'Never in my life ... ' he thought, the scenes in which the Klingon downed one ale after another passed in front of his eyes over and over again. He tried to raise his sore eyelids, failing twice before giving up.

The captain had surprised him too this time, he remembered. Shards of images came to him, featuring Picard keeping those glasses filled all around the table. And even the good doctor had done her fair share of imbibing. Until she had asked for a break which, they had all been very happy to point out to her, was not a part of their drinking rules. It had been an unusual forfeit, but alas, the way Beverly had stumbled from the bar in search of her bed had been worth it. Though now it was every bit as unclear as the image of Deanna who, despite her inexperience with the drinking ritual, had given it her best shot. Until she had passed out, or got into a state close to it. But after that, he had to admit, he couldn't remember much else. Actually he came up blank. 'The one drawback from hanging loose, once a year,' William mused. Well, *that* and a throbbing headache.

* * *

There was little point staying in late. Duty called, and 'with an unbelievably loud voice this morning,' Deanna couldn't help but think. The ship's counselor threw back the covers and with a brusk motion she swung both legs from the bed, regretting the act almost instantly. The movement brought on an involuntary reaction from her stomach, one she could barely fight back, and it took her a few seconds to regain herself. Seconds she used to focus herself, to try and locate all the garments she had so care- fully draped across the room last night. And, she realized, to recognize them.

"A good morning to you." Deanna said absently and in a deplorable voice, picking up the jacket and shorts from the foot-end only to toss them back on the bed. The murmuring reply, coming from behind her, was far from distinct but it was probably the only thing her half-sedated mind could handle now.

"I am *never* going to touch another drop!" she whispered, dismissive, and dragged her weary body and her uniform to the washbasin. Then the mists slowly started to brake, and she spun back. Her wide-open eyes fixed on the messed-up bed, and the one lying in it.

"*WILL??!*" she cried.

-The end-