counselors log:
I am proud to report that Commander Hampton has come far in his
therapy these last couple of weeks. So much so, that I will be
releasing him for duty today.
His attitude and demeanor has changed dramatically and though
there are times that he is able to block out my ability, I get no sense of
the violent jealousy or rage that existed before. Nor have I suffered
any emotional relapse into the nightmares I was having. I feel
Hampton has finally come to terms with his position in Starfleet and is
willling to work hard to achieve his own ship in due time.
These last few sessions with him have been a real pleasure
and I believe I will truly miss the intimate conversations
that we were able to share. I feel very confident that in the
coming weeks, he will open up completely and tell me
about his secretive telepathic ability.
On a more personal note:
Will has been inundated with so much work (mostly due to the lack of
a first officer) that we have hardly seen each other. Three of the
last five nights, I have awaken in the morning only to find that he
slept in his ready room.
Besides the occasional lunch together, there has been absolutely
no level of intimacy. I know it bothers him as much as it bothers
me. But this is the life we chose...and I am slowly learning why it
is that there are so few married captains in Starfleet.

end log



counselor's log:
It has been two weeks since Commander Hampton reported
back to duty. And with his last session, he was abe to share
how much he has already learned from Captain Riker. Even
though I was very happy to hear that, I only wish I might have
had some input from the captain himself. Through brief meetings,
Captain Riker has shared only that Commander Hampton is
adequately performing his duties. There has been little time
for any further in depth conversations...
Or any thing else for that fact.

end log  


Captain Riker made sure the turbolift doors behind him had closed completely before he slumped against the nearest wall. He sucked in a deep breath and exhaled slowly in a terrible attempt to calm himself. I need a day off, he thought.
System after system after system had gone down within the last week. And if Riker had any nerves left at all, he would have sworn someone was purposely sabotaging the ship. Each new day seem to bring on an entirely new set of problems. Today it was the navigation system.
By a fluke chance, someone realized a proto-star was positioned where a nebula should have been and concluded the Titan was fourteen light years away from where they thought they were. So now the ship was forced to backtrack near the Neutral Zone without authorization to exceed the maximum allowed limit of warp six.

"I finally accept my first ship...and they give me a god damn lemon," Will muttered.

The doors to the lift opened, revealing a bridgeful of officers Riker had grown quite fond of during the recent crisis'. "Pearson, confirm our position," the captain ordered as he slid into his command chair.

"USS Indianapolis confirms that we are at sector 4423 point 675 with a heading of 897 mark 32. Concurring with our own navigational system, sir." The young woman resisted the urge to turn around and glance at the captain.

"I believe the recent odds in Central have changed in favor of life-support being the next system to go down." Hampton gave Riker a crooked grin. "I don't suppose you were the one that changed those odds with a heavy bet, now were you sir?"

Riker smiled back wearily. "Nope. My bet is still on environmental controls." Feeling slightly better about the ship not falling to pieces under his feet, he rose and headed for what had been his sanctuary the last two weeks, the ready room. The door hissed open and before he could take a step inside, he felt the ship drop out of warp. "What the hell..." He turned sharply and took one giant step to stand behind Langau. "Now what?"

The Angosian immediately felt sweat beading against his pale forehead. "The warp drive has just sent itself into a level one diagnostic pattern. Engineering states that they can not override the order."

"Order? WHAT ORDER?" Will clamped his jaw against the profanity that threatened to explode out of his mouth.

"Oh shit," Hampton groaned and walked toward the captain. "Sir, may I speak with you in private?"

"Now is NOT a good time Commander." Will clenched the bridge of his nose with two fingers trying to will away the headache that was erupting.

"I believe I am the reason for the shut down," Hampton confessed.

Will's icy stare toward Hampton chilled the entire room. Takol clinched her fists around the small railing outlining the tactical area and prayed silently that this was not really happening. She expanded her scans as the Titan was now skirting the boundary of the Neutral Zone on impulse only.

Will slowly raised his arm and pointed to the door of the ready room and without a word, followed the commander inside. "Start talking." Will paced the room, unable to look at the distressed man.

"Thinking that we would be in orbit around Lytrike Three by this time, I programmed a routine diagnostic test for the warp drive, and...well, I forgot it was set to go, and-"

"You forgot? How could you forget?" Riker stopped walking and bore a hole into Hampton's head with his glare. "That is not something that one forgets...especially now that we are riding next to the Neutral Zone. Get down to engineering, and find a way to stop that program!" He couldn't hold back his frustration any longer. "Damn it!" He nearly kicked over a potted plant Deanna had placed near the desk but stopped his foot just shy of the green-colored pot.

"Sir, I just-"


"Aye, sir."

After Hampton had gone, Will slapped his hand hard flat against his desk. Partially because of the situation they were in, but mostly because he allowed Hampton to see his anger. Not exactly what Picard would have done, he chastised himself. He was about to walk back onto the bridge when the door alarm chirped. "Come." A shiver ran down his spine as soon as he saw the slim figure walk purposely into the room with her arms folded against her chest. And by the look in her eyes, he knew immediately that she was definitely here as Counselor Troi-Riker and not as his wife.
In other words, he was in trouble.

"I heard what happened." Her voice wavered with uncertainty and hesitation.

"That was quick. News travels faster aboard a smaller ship, I guess."

"No. I mean, I heard in here," she tapped the side of her head, "what happened. Hampton opened up his communication for me to hear."

Will looked at her in confusion. He knew she had mentioned that he was telepathic to some degree but he had no idea Hampton had that kind of power. "You and he can communicate...somehow?"

She sounded a little more forceful, "I don't know how it happened. I felt your anger first. And then it was if I was right here in the room with you. You didn't have to yell at him, Will."

"De..." he caught himself before he strayed from the professional point of view and brought the husband/wife relationship too close to the argument. "Counselor, his error and bad judgement now leaves us floating next to the Neutral Zone with impulse engines only. I didn't have much choice."

"But he is at a very vulnerable point in his recovery and-"

"And what? I should have given him a hug and told him everything would be alright. Well its not alright!" He walked around his desk and sat down, holding his head in his hands.

"Yes he made a terrible mistake, but that isn't worth losing him it?" She continued to stand even as she felt his emotions lash out in all directions. There was anger, frustration, fear...but most notably, resentment. Resentment that was aimed totally at her.

Riker slowly lifted his head and glared at his wife. "Deanna, you of all people should know that I have been busting my ass keeping this bucket of bolts in one piece...and then to find that my first officer does something so incredibly stupid that risks all our lives? And...and if that wasn't enough...I now find that my wife is defending him? Jesus Crist!" He stood quickly and stared the window into space, half expecting to see a Romulan Warbird decloaking off the starboard side.

"I am not defending his actions, Captain." The way she accented his title made it perfectly clear that she too wanted to keep this at a professional level. "I am merely speaking as his counselor, and his friend."

Riker looked at her slim reflection in the glass. He remembered a few occasions on the Enterprise where she scolded him for acting too harshly with a subordinate. But those instances were few and far between, and they had never put the entire ship in danger. This was entirely different. Hell yes this 'was' different, he thought. She was defending him she really cared for the guy.

"Then perhaps you should speak to him, Counselor. Tell him what I did was wrong. Tell him I'm nothing but a blow hard and sometimes my anger gets the better of me." He flopped back into his chair and the words that came next, Deanna had to strain to hear. "Tell him whatever you want, I don't care." He picked up the nearest PADD and started reading it, not caring less that it was an announcement of the change in menu for Central.

After a few moments, he glanced back up and saw that she was still there looking at him. "Is there anything else, Counselor?"

"No, Captain. I guess there's nothing else." She headed for the door. "There's nothing else at all, that needs to be said." And with that, she exited the room.

Riker buried his head in his hands once again, "shit."


Deanna laid awake waiting to see if Will would make it home this night. It was 0200 hours and she nearly gave up hope when she heard the door finally  hiss open. She watched his large shadow moving in the living room and yet she was hesitant to go out to him. Instead, she curled herself up into a ball and pretended she was asleep when he came into the bedroom.

She felt his gentle probe in her mind and still, gave no indication that she was awake. She listened carefully as he slipped out of his uniform and tossed it aside. Then he entered the bathroom and Deanna opened her eyes just long enough to watch him brush his teeth before splashing water across his face. He studied himself in the mirror for only a brief moment before he turned quickly and shut the light off.

Deanna clinched her eyelids as tight as she could when he entered the bed. Her body rolled slightly as his weight continually shifted until he found his comfort spot. Only this night, his comfort spot was not wrapped around her body, spooning her as he often did just before he fell asleep. He was laying on his side with his back toward her instead.

Within seconds, she could tell, he was asleep. She reached out to touch his back but stopped. Instead of her fingertips touching his hardened body, she brought her hand back so that her fingers could wipe the lone tear that fell onto her cheek instead.


Will had been drifting in and out of sleep when he felt the rustle of the comforter as Deanna removed herself from their bed. Her footsteps padded softly against the floor and he managed to open one eye just enough to catch her arm as she walked by. The startled expression on her face quickly changed to one of relief as she looked down at his remorseful face.

The need for a much longer sleep period was very evident in Will's eyes. His once youthful appearance was beginning to show the wear and tear most people his age had already been suffering. Deanna removed her hand from his and placed it against the graying stubble on his cheek, gently stroking it with her thumb. Letting the smooth silk of her nightgown glide across his skin as she sat, she giggled at the goose-flesh she induced.
Deanna sensed immediately what he was about to say, but before he even had a chance to exhale the breath he had been holding, the intercom beeped.

Will closed his eyes and relaxed his head into her hand for a brief moment before he answered. "Riker here, go ahead."

<Captain Riker, we are receiving a distress signal from the USS Lincoln>

Riker sighed, afraid to ask the next question. "Do we have warp capabilities?"

<Aye, sir. Came up about a half hour ago.>

"Set coordinates and engage at warp six. I'll be right there. Riker out."

Deanna quietly slipped from the bed once again and walked into the dark livingroom. "I guess you need to shower first." And though her words were intentionally said without emotion, Will knew better. Anytime she tried to come across impassive or indifferent, there was usually a far deeper meaning and emotional burden that always seemed to  be attached. Only he didn't have the time to get into a heated discussion right now. He shoved the blanket aside and walked into the bathroom, leaving the door cracked slightly open...just in case she desired to come in.
She never did.


Riker strode onto the bridge and looked to Takol. "Can we hail the Lincoln?"

"On screen." Mora Takol replied, then noticed the body of Commander Troi entering the bridge, taking her chair next to the captain. She wasn't quite sure if the distraught expression on her normally beautiful face was a result of the distress call, or something else. She made a mental note to ask Ensign Pearson, the resident gossip queen, later.

The picture on the main view screen was scrambled and scattered with thick static lines. Riker turned to look at Takol again who only shook her head. That was the was the best picture they could get.

"This is Captain Riker of the USS Titan. Please respond." If there wasn't an annoying high pitched whine, there would have been nothing at all. "Lincoln, do you copy?"

Will glanced back at Troi with a half raised eyebrow. She knew his question and answered, "I sense very faint life signs. There are people alive over there and they are very frightened."

Riker then looked to Hampton who was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. "Take an away team over there, find out whats going on. Minimal compliment only until we know whats going on."

"Yes, sir."

 Will watched him motion for Takol and then Troi and at some point while Will's mind tried in vain to find a reason for Deanna not to go, Hampton called for Doctor Osborne to meet them in the transporter room. Without knowing what he was going to say, he called out, "Commander Troi, may I speak to you quickly please."

She nodded and followed him into the ready room. "Captain, if this is about me going-"

"Deanna," he was speaking as her husband now, "I don't want you over there, even though-"

"This is my job, Will," she interruppted.

"Even though," he spoke a little louder and more forceful, grabbing her by the shoulders, "I know its your job. I hate the thought of your life resting in Hampton's hands."

"Damn it, Will! I would never have released him if I thought he was reckless!" She waited for his hands to fall at his sides before she turned away and walked out.


Will sat in the command chair strumming the hair under his lower lip as he listened to the away teams communications. So far, they found three crew members from the Lincoln unconcious and another five huddled away in a storage area. Before being shipped off to the Titan's sickbay, they explained that there was a series of explosions that began in engineering. Most of the crews deaths though, was attributed to radiation rather than the explosions themselves. With the help of Lt. Inez, they figured the explosions to have been a chain reaction that started with a leaky plasma conduit coming in contact with a high voltage arc. Eight crew members of a compliment of sixty-five had survived.

"Prepare to bring the away team back." Riker ordered.

<Unable to get a lock on everyone. Theres too much electrical interference.  I'm gonna have to do it one at a time.> The transporter chief locked onto Troi first but before he could begin the process, another explosion rocked the vessel making it impossible to get her through the increased interference.

Riker jumped from his chiar. "Riker to away team!"

The high pitched whine screeched through the link. He tried again, "Riker to Troi! Transporter, get them back NOW!"

<I can't, sir!>


Deanna felt as if her whole body was on fire. Squinting through the tears caused from sting of the thick black smoke surrounding her, she looked down and saw she was soaked in some sort of chemical. She tried to stand but her legs were uncooperative and she fell back to the floor. That was when she felt two hands grab her torso and lift her up.

"You're soaked with a flammable liquid!" It was Hampton. "The conduits are leaking everything from plasma to bolian fuel! Another explosion and you're toast! You've got to get out of that uniform."

Deanna's stomach churned from the smell of the chemical. "Can't we beam back?"

"No. There seems to be too much electrical interference. C'mon, hurry up!" He reached for her zipper on her jacket but she caught his hands.

Taking a quick look around through the smoke, she coughed and nodded then tossed her jacket to the floor. She unzipped the inner shirt that wasn't quite so wet next and flung that to the side. Her boots and pants came off after that.

Hampton quickly picked her up, careful not to step in the puddle of chemical where she had layed, and ran with her to a different section of the ship. Feeling that they were at a safe position, he put her down. "I've got to find the others!"

He was about two steps away from her when yet another explosion sent shards of glass and metal sailing their way. Hampton tackled her to the floor and covered her with his body. A few seconds later, the familiar tingle of the transporter surrounded their bodies.


Will raced as fast he could to sickbay. He had been told by Dr. Osborne that Deanna was physically fine, but he wanted...needed to see her anyway. The doors opened and a nurse pointed to a small secuded area where his wife was laying. "I think she's sleeping, sir," she informed him and he gave her a nod.

Opening the curtain, his first reaction was complete relief that she really did make it back. His second reaction was harder to pin down. It was a mixture of disbelief, anger, and even a twinge of jealousy.

Ever since a nurse had administered a sedative to the Betazoid, Commander Hampton had sat next to the Beatzoid and held her hand while gently stroking her hair. He had no idea, however, that he was being watched. At least not until he heard a deep voice behind him.

"Get cleaned up...and get to the bridge, Commander." Riker held back the things he truly wanted to say. Most notably, what the hell are you doing with my wife?

Will waited for him to leave before he walked up next to the bed and noticed for the first time that she was out of uniform...completely. He pulled the sheet further up her body and looked around the area but saw no sign of her clothes anywhere.

He tossed the curtain to the side and motioned for a nurse to come over. "Why is she out of uniform?"

"She was beamed back that way. Apparently she was sprayed with a flammable chemical and to prevent-"

Riker nodded his head with understanding. He didn't want to hear nor think about the consequences of her soiled uniform. "Thank you," he said and turned back around to see she had waken up. "Hi."

Deanna licked her parched lips and felt his gentle fingers affectionately wipe a strand of hair from her face. "Hi." She moved a little to the side so he could sit down next to her.

"You go sure go about this the hard way." The corners of his eyes crinkled with amusement. "I mean, if you wanted me to spend time with you..."

She smiled. "I'm glad you've been here while I slept. I felt your hands. That was very comforting. Thank you."

Will looked sick. "Deanna, those weren't my hands," he gritted his teeth together, "I just got here."


"It had to have been you, Will. I sensed it even though I was asleep." Deanna clutched Will's hands. "Please tell me it was you." She began to tremble as she recalled the images from her last nightmare.

The shame and guilt he felt over not being with her immediately caused him to look away. "I couldn't get here right away. I left the bridge the first chance I got. And when I walked in, I saw..." His jaw clenched in anger.

"You saw what?" Her face grew ashen when he turned to face her. She had only seen his  expression a few other times, the last instance being when killed..."Tell me!"

"That son of a bitch," he growled. "Where did you feel my-" he shook his head, "his hands?"

"They were stroking my hair and my face." She felt him trying to pull away put her grip remained tight. "Will, no..don't go!"

"This is not going to happen to you again!"

She yanked on his arms so hard that he had no choice but to look at her. "Its not like before, Will. He saved my life. If it wasn't for him I'd be dead!"

"Deanna, he...he was-!"

"Comforting me." She sat up in the bed and pulled him to her, begging, "please don't go."

"Deanna, I won't allow him to -" He tried to turn again.

"Don't leave, Will." Deanna looked up, her dark eyes pleading with him. "I need you close. Can't we have just this one day together...please?" She sensed his anger softening. "God Will,  let everything else go...just for one day."

Will pulled her tight. He couldn't refuse her even though he wanted nothing more than to drill Hampton into tomorrow. "Okay...okay, I'll stay with you." He stroked her bare back and started to kiss the top of her head but recoiled from the smell. After a few moments he said softly, "You know what I think?"

She shook her head against his chest.

"I think you need a bath." He chest rumbled with a chuckle before he lifted her chin so that she could see his grin. "I'll go and find you something to wear."

A minute later, he returned with a set of scrubs a nurse had given him. "Not quite your size but thats all they had available at the moment." Deanna held up the extra-large top. "The survivors had first pick," he explained and watched her slip it on over her head. The v-neck dipped well below the socially acceptable area and she yanked the shoulders back so that the neckline raised.

Once the pants were on, she held the elastic waistband with one hand to prevent them from falling to her ankles. "I think I'd feel more comfortable walking back to our quarters nude," she laughed at her predicament.

Will groaned. "Oh sure. Not only do I have the first officer to deal with...but every other male onboard? No thank you." Deanna sensed he wasn't entirely joking. It was guaranteed that he would want to discuss the previous events further, but she prayed that he would wait. At least until they had shared some time together, as a married couple...doing what married couples do...without any interruptions.
She latched onto his arm with her free hand and followed him to their quarters.


Beaten by the events of the day, Deanna slumped to the sofa and waited for Will to return from the bathroom. Minutes passed, and with eyes half open, she spotted his broad body looming over her. "Your bath awaits, ma'am." He helped her up and then guided her to the steamy tub filled with jasmine-scented bubbles. He sat quietly on the edge as she dipped herself in.

"This is wonderful, Imzadi. Thank you." She relaxed against the wall and allowed Will to gather her hair in somewhat of a ponytail. He poured warm water over her head before softly massaging shampoo into her scalp.

"Feeling better?" he asked as he rinsed the shampoo away.

She opened one eye. "I'd feel a lot better if you joined me."

The corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. "No thanks. I remember the last time you seduced into your bath." He rubbed his beared jawline. "I'm afraid if I had to grow it back again, it'd come back all white!"

"Scared of showing your age, Captain?" Deanna sat up slightly when she felt his hands kneading her sore shoulder muscles.

He watched the handfull of bubbles that had been resting on her chest slide their way down one breast and over a nipple before merging with others. "Nope. Just trying to show a little," he found it hard to breathe, "self-control. Thats all." He bent down and kissed her glistening neck. "But you do smell very tempting. Rest awhile, I'll be right back. I have something special for you." He winked then rose and walked out.

Deanna slid back into the foamy water and let the soothing jets of the whirlpool tub finish massaging her lower back and legs. She leaned against a soft pillow and closed her eyes, soaking up the warmth and love emitting from her husband. A few seconds later, she felt his fingers massaging her scalp again. "Mmm, that feels good."

"What did you say, sweetheart?" Will called from the livingroom.

Deanna sat up as fast as she could, sending a small tidal wave of bubbles splashing to the floor. Her heart rapidly pounded against her chest as she turned around quickly and scanned the bathroom. No one.

Will turned when he first heard the sudden splatter of water hitting the floor. Then he spotted the side of the tub dripping with residual bubbles. But it was only after hearing another set of splashes did he feel her terror. "Dea...are you okay?!"

When he rushed into the bathroom, she was against the far side of the tub with her hand against her chest, trying to calm herself. He kneeled down and pulled her to him. "What happened?"

Deanna threw her arms around his shoulders and clutched him desperately, immediately soaking the thin t-shirt he had just put on. "It's okay, imzadi. I'm here." His compassion for her raged against the feelings of anger that was beginning to resurface. She must have sensed this because she pulled back to try and show that she had regained control.

"I'm okay." He wouldn't let go of her shoulders. "Really, Will...I'm alright."

"Damn it, are not all right!" Deanna's eyes widened at her husband's stern reaction. "Every time you close your eyes, you see him or...or feel his hands! Or think that its me! I don't know what to do anymore!"

"You don't know what to do?!" She slid completely away from him and held a wash cloth to her trembling breast. "I have never asked anything from you except for you to love me! And ever since these nightmares started, you have tried everything you stay away! Its like you don't want me anymore because I'm nothing but a mind whore!"

"I have never, NEVER thought that of you! And for someone who is supposed to be sure as hell have a lot to learn if you think that, is what you sense from ME!" Will stormed from the bathroom.

Deanna threw the wash cloth to the floor and it landed with a loud splat. Then, after a short time of vascillation, she threw her robe on her still wet body and walked out to find him.

The lunch that Will had prepaired lay on the dining table and a mug of hot chocolate, long since cold,  sat on the replicator pad. That must have been his present, she surmised. She toyed with a fork-full of pasta, noticing it too was as cold as the hot chocolate and dropped the utensil back to the bowl. Deanna then poked her head out of the dining room and spotted him laying on the chais lounge chair with his eyes closed, listening to some sort of jazz music. He wasn't asleep, she knew that for sure because his anger still blew through her like a snow storm, pounding and chilling her to the bone.

She stealthily walked up to the chair from behind and just watched him for awhile. Gazing at his now bare chest as it lifted and fell with each breath, her eyes moved downward to his muscular abdomen and then finally to the shorts he had changed into. For the most part,  Starfleet issued uniforms were generally unattractive, but for some reason, she found the men's gym shorts to be quite arousing. Well, at least when they were on Will. The cuffs of the shorts stretched against his muscular thighs which then brought your attention to a far more intimate area that Deanna longed for right now. She walked up next to him and silently stretched out lengthwise on top.

Completely unsurprised by her action, his eyes slowly opened as if he was expecting her at any moment. His hands instinctively snaked beneath her robe and he pulled her to him so that her nakedness was against him. "God, you feel good," he whispered.

Deanna dropped to his side and placed her thigh over his groin. While pressing herself into his hip, she slowly stroked his growing erection with her leg. "I've missed you," her words were muffled as her lips grazed over his.

Will looked down into darkening eyes. "I was too afraid to touch you."

Deanna placed two fingers against his lips to silence him, then replaced those fingers with her mouth. "Don't ever be afraid of this, Imzadi." She kissed him with such an all-consuming passion that it could have burned completely through to their very souls. And it probably did.

This small one-person reclined chair just was not going to suffice. Will flipped their legs off the edge and picked her up. Never once, for the whole distance to their bed, did her break away from the sweet taste of her lips. Once he placed her down on the quilted coverlet, he lay against her body to make sure she was fully aware of his arousal. "Is this what you want?" his voice was strained from the tempering of his own impulses and emotions.

"Yes! God Yes!" She was arching her back, willing him to enter. Will wiggled against her small frame and removed his shorts so that could now fully enjoy the way she was grinding against the thigh he placed between her legs.

Using his manhood, Will teased her sensitive area with heated pressure and friction, pushing her closer and closer to the edge of insanity. She was moaning in such a way, he thought for sure he wouldn't make it much longer.

Resting his elbows on either side of her shoulders, he bent down and in a low husky voice, said, "I need to know, Deanna...I need to know its me that you're making love to. Do you understand?"

Deanna had stopped thrashing for a brief second and met his steel blue gaze. Lacing her fingers behind his head, she pulled him into another hot, wet and highly sensual kiss while filling his mind with herself and what she wanted from him, and him alone. In his head, he saw nothing but erotic pictures of them together, giving him the confidence that he needed. He felt her love everywhere, and for an added security measure, he even heard his name being screamed the moment he entered her sultry depths.

With each stroke, Will filled her completely as no other could, both in body and spirit. Her climax ended with a violent shuddering, compelling him to push faster and harder. The lapping of flesh against flesh grew with intensity until he succeeded in a climax of his own.

Completely drained and drenched with sweat, the sweet smell of their passion radiated about the room. Deanna wiped a wet tendril of hair from his forehead as he still lay atop of her, unable to move from his position just yet. "This is the only therapy I've ever needed, Imzadi."

Will managed enough strength to raise his head and look her in the eyes. Flashing his trademark cocky grin, he said, "Then I order you to attend at least one counseling session per day. And more, if you can spare the time." Feeling the conviction of his own words, he layed his head back down against her chest. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you."

Drawing a deep breath, she placed a hand to his cheek. "Promise me that we will never go this long without reconcilliation, again?"

Will's mouth was conspicuously close to a nipple and he kissed it gently before raising just his eyes to hers. "I promise," he said then returned his attention to the matter at hand. Or would that be matter at mouth?


Will twirled a lock of Deanna's brunette hair between his fingers then lifted it to his nose. "How is it you always smell so good?"

Deanna frowned. "Hmm, wasn't it just a few hours ago that you told me that I stunk?" She turned in his arms to face him.

"Well, okay...when you're not drenched in flammable always smell so damn good."

"Nice save, Romeo."

His eyebrows rose in amusement and he pulled her on top of him. "You would know if I was lying, dear."

Deanna found herself adrift as she gazed into his blue eyes. "Somehow, when I'm in your arms...I lose all ability to analyze," she kissed his chest. " and to reason," then his abdomen, " and to think." She moved lower yet. "In fact, I tend to block out everything but one little thing..."

"Little?" He sucked in a deep breath when he felt her roving tongue along the velvety lower side of him.

"Yes." She gazed up at his tortured expression and gave him a mischievous smile. "My stomach." She slipped out of the bed as quick as she could and said with all sincerity, "You make me so hungry."

"Hey!" He looked thoroughly confused...and miserable.

Deanna took a few steps before turning back around to face him. Crossing her arms in front of her nude body, she appeared suddenly sympathetic. "Oh...very well then." She watched his face lighten a bit. "I guess you deserve a little more than that." She took two steps and crawled onto the bed. Her face was just fractions away from his when she whispered, "you get to choose," she moaned through her wicked smile, "fish or pasta?"

In less than a second,  Will flipped Deanna on her back and used his size advantage to pin her by all fours. "I think you know what I choose."

Deanna conceded by trying to shrug her shoulders under his weight. "Have it your way then." She let out a muffled yelp when he pressed his body down on hers. "But you get to cook then."

"No problem."

By Will's count, they had more than  made up for the few weeks that were spent a part. And after this last bout of passion, he reluctantly decided that sex was not the lone staple of life and that he too was hungry. With a light pat on Deanna's rear, he got up from the bed and pulled on his pajama bottoms. "Pasta?"

"With alfredo sauce. I'm in the mood for something fattening." Will watched her head for the shower and tried to envision a plump Deanna Troi, if that was possible. A warm smile framed his face when he then thought of their future plans and she pregnant with his child. His child! Good lord, he laughed to himself. It was moments like this that he found it hard to believe that she was his again. After all this time, how could someone like himself be so damned blessed, he wondered.


Will finished removing the last bowl from the replicator when the door alarm chimed. "Who is it?" he asked as he fumbled with the waist strings of the pants, as if that was all that was missing from it being appropriate attire.

"Commander Hampton, sir."

Will looked back and made sure the bathroom door was closed before he answered,  "Come."

"Sorry to intrude Captain."

Will watched Hampton ineptly glance around the suite...without a doubt looking for Deanna. "Is this an emergency, Commander?"

Hampton frowned. "We have been getting unusual communications from Starbase 334."

Will folded his arms against his chest. "Unusual in what respect?" He really was trying not to show his annoyance.

"Mixed messages. None of them have been very clear. We have tried to boost the sensor range, but it doesn't seem to be helping."

"Does Langau think that its an interference problem or is it coming from the base."

"He believes its from the base." Hampton nervously cleared his throat. "For a brief second..Langau thought he could make out a word...but then again it was covered by static. We couldn't or rather I wouldn't say for sure that he was correct-"

"What word, Commander, did he think he heard?"



Tension was running high among the crew, and Deanna seemed to feel each and every soul piercing thought and emotion that escalated from the farthest sections of the ship right up to the captain himself. 
It was about 0500 when Will was summoned to the bridge. That was the last time she saw him.
Deanna blindly fidgeted with the small Betazoid statue that adorned the corner table of her office and looked at the chronometer. It was 1430.

The captain had requested that she remain in her office to assist crew members who might seek counseling. So far, she had seen five people who had lost family members during the battle of WOLF 359. And though she would follow his instructions, she wanted desperately to be near him. As far as she knew, Will was still involved in a conference via sub-space between Admiral Janeway, Captain Huisoy, and Captain Picard. Even though she was not privy to the details of the meeting, she held complete knowledge of the Captain's emotions. A chill ran down her spine as she felt yet another wave of anxiety rising from Will.

Deanna sighed then sat down to concentrate on her next appointment...Commander Hampton. "So much for that," she grumbled, knowing the first officer would be calling any second to cancel. Not that she minded of course, but at least it would have proven to be a distraction from Will's emotions for a few minutes at least.

Deanna jumped when the 'all page' came across the office intercom.
<All senior officers report to the meeting room>


From the moment Deanna walked into the small room located just off the main bridge, she could sense Will's fear.  And though Captain Riker would never allow his emotions to be seen by his crew, especially at a time like this, it came across to her like a blinding light projecting itself into her deepest psyche. He might have seemed like the marbled leader to anyone else in the room, but to her, he was a man who had just been  pushed back into a nightmare to face his demons he thought long gone.

He glanced at Deanna quickly as the officers took their seats and Deanna shivered. Something was not good.

"Starfleet has confirmed that the Borg have indeed been in contact with Starbase 334." Riker watched the faces of his staff look to him, some with fear...some with vengence. He purposely avoided Deanna's gaze. "They have ordered me to accompany Captain Picard and Captain Huisoy to the base for a meeting with a Borg envoy. Apparently certain members of the Borg have decided seek asylum with the Federation."

Deanna laced her fingers infront of her in an attempt to quell her own fear. "When will you be leaving?"

Riker sat back in his chair like he had seen Picard do on countless occasions and finally looked at her. "Soon," he said. "As soon as I am finshed here."

Deanna simple nodded and clenched her entwined fingers even tighter.


Captain Riker looked around the oval  table at each set of eyes intensely focused on him. "I will be taking a shuttle to rendevous with the Enterprise while the Titan will divert to Sector 321 to await further instructions." He hesitated for a moment as he felt Deanna's apprehension. It seemed as though she already knew what was coming next.
He took a deep breath and continued, "If the Borg are using this as a means of diversion or to set up another invasion, Starfleet wants the Titan to be prepared. This ship will probably be the first in a line of defense the Federation is organizing."

"Sir," the security chief spoke, "there will only be the three of you during this meeting with the so-called defectors?"

"The Enterprise will be in charge of our safety, Lieutenant. I'm sure we will be safe." He glanced at Deanna and gave a fleeting yet reassuring smile. "Mr. Hampton will have the bridge while I'm away."

Deanna raised her eyes slowly and saw that Hampton was looking straight at her. She waited for his reaction to what the Captain had just said but once again, the commander blocked the empathic probes. She sat a little straighter in her chair and focused her attention back to Will.

"The remainder of the orders will be logged soon. You are dismissed." He stood up but then leaned into the table, palms flat against the cool surface. "You have my complete confidence should something go wrong...don't disappoint me."

The crew gave their captain reassuring nods and smiles of respect, but Takol was the only one to speak. "Best of luck, Captain. We won't let you down."

"Thank you Mora," Will said. "Commander Hampton, if you would please stay behind for a moment."

Deanna took that as a cue that their good-bye would come later and she walked out with the others. She and Will never did have time to discuss the Hampton situation, so she just prayed that Will would not jump any conclusions without her input. At least he still had enough comfidence in the commander to leave him in charge, and she was thankful for that. Otherwise the next officer in line would be...her.

Hampton slid quietly back into his chair and scratched at the table with his thumb nail. "Commander," Riker exhaled a long breath, "I know we haven't had the time to really get to know one another and belive me, I wish we had. There are too many unanswered questions concerning you." He noticed that Hampton seemed to be looking at him out of the corner of his eye. "And now is not the time to discuss what I'd like."

"I can assure you Captain, the ship ran just fine before you arrived," he stood and walked near the door, "and will run just as well when you're gone."

Riker's eyes narrowed with concern. Not sure if there was another meaning behind Hampton's words, Will stiffened up and folded his arms. "Commander, I'm not so sure I like how that was just presented."

"Look, all I meant was that you can rest assured that nothing will happen to this ship." Hampton still refused to meet Will's eyes. "I will follow whatever orders you leave."

Riker felt that it would be better if the conversation ended with Hampton's last statement in mind. "You are dismissed." Will watched the younger man walk out and got the unnerving feeling that his orders should include for Hampton to stay away from Deanna. Unfortunately, Starfleet would not have approved of such a thing.


Captain Riker tossed his bag into the open door of the shuttle then turned to face his wife. "I hopefully won't be gone too long."

Deanna shook her head. "I don't think you want to hear me say that I don't like this one bit, Will. I have a bad feeling about all of this."

Will sighed heavily. "I know. But at least I'll have the Enterprise there just in case."

Deanna gave him a faint smile. "Tell everyone I said hello," she said as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"I will." He pulled her tighter. "Take care, Imzadi...until I return."

"Don't worry about me. You know I can take care of myself." Deanna tried to sound confident.

She was right. She had proved more than once that she was able to do just that. But Will still hated the fact that she might be at the mercy of Commander Hampton. "I have to go now, or the Enterprise might beat me to the rendevous point." He kissed her on the lips, fully, not caring that a few technicians remained in the docking bay.

Deanna wrapped her arms around his neck to prevent him from ending the kiss too quickly. And when they both decided the need for oxygen was becoming a priority, it was she who finally backed away. "I love you," she whispered, still slightly out of breath.

"I love you too." He turned and walked up the ramp, looking back just in time too catch one last glance of his wife before the shuttle door closed completely.


Deanna walked around their modestly furnished quarters trying to find something...anything to do. It was only the second night of Will's absence and the loneliness had already seeped in. She considered making her way to Central for dinner but decided that wouldn't be wise. She certainly wouldn't find peace in a room filled with the same people she had counseled just hours earlier.

Lowering the lights to a level just above darkness, Deanna slouched onto the couch and relaxed back.
Imzadi...she sent, hoping in some way that Will would know that she was thinking of him.
I miss you...

Deanna's body molded into the soft cusions and was moments away from a peaceful sleep when the computer on the desk began to chime with an incoming message. Groaning loudly, she got up and sat at the desk and flicked the terminal on. Her face quickly changed from annoyance to one of delight as she looked at the smiling face of Beverly Crusher on the monitor.

"Beverly...what a surprise!"

<Hello, Deanna! Did I catch you at a bad time?>

"No. Not at all. How is Starfleet Medical holding up with its new director?"

<Oh, Starfleet Medical is doing just fine. Its the director thats falling apart.>

Deanna looked concerned "Is something wrong?"

<Homesick. I miss you guys!> Beverly admitted and wiped away a lone tear that rested in the corner of her eye.

"And..." Deanna knew there was more to it than that.

<I heard about Captain Picard and Will leaving to meet with the Borg defectors. Deanna, none of that makes sense!>

"I know. I didn't like it either. But Will was eager to go. Though I think it was in part due to seeing the Enterprise again." Deanna smiled. "He still likes the idea of going on away teams." Deanna looked away for a moment in an attempt to quell her own anxiety.

<Will and Jean-Luc are strong men. They will be fine>

"Did you call in order to hear yourself say that or did you hope I could offer some confidence?"

<I think I've been caught.> Beverly smiled coyly.

"Well, you know Will will protect Captain Picard with his own life, if  it comes to that. Who knows...maybe this is the real thing. There's a lot to still learn about the Borg."

<Thats what frightens me. And here I am, light years away, unable to...>

"Unable to help Captain Picard should something go wrong." Deanna finished Beverly's sentence. "I'm sure Starfleet would furnish a transport for you, if the Borg assim-" Deanna stopped when she saw Beverly's tears running freely down her cheeks. "This doesn't ever get easier does it?" Deanna wiped away her own tears now.

<Being married to an officer? No, it doesn't.>

"Nor being in love with your best friend and watching him face the demons that have haunted him for years and unable to be there for him."

Beverly shook her head and sighed. <Forever the counselor...>

Deanna smiled warmly at the monitor. "Forever the friend."


"They're dead."

"What?" Captain Picard gasped.

Commander Jenson of Starbase 334 addressed Captain Picard and Captain Riker in his office. "They were being held in a secure portion of the Starbase when a routine security check found them this afternoon."

"Sounds like the Collective still had a hold of them and decided that termination was their only choice...again." Riker offered.

"I wish it were that simple, Captain." Jenson felt sweat beading on his upper lip. "They were killed by a phaser blast at point-blank range."

"They were murdered?"

"I'm afraid so. It appears that one of my crewmen didn't like the idea of the Borg defecting and took it upon themselves to see that they did not have a choice in the matter. I'm sorry gentlemen." Jenson rose and walked out the door, leaving Picard and Riker alone.

After a few silent moments, Picard spoke, "I'll ask Captain Huisoy if she wouldn't mind staying here to assist with the investigation and final report so the Enterprise can resume our negotiations with the Parlill. We can drop you back off at the shuttle-"

"Captain, I'd like to stay and help out the investigation. I can have the Titan pick up the shuttle on their way here."

"Make it so, Numb-" Picard was embarassed and smiled. "Captain Riker."

"Don't worry, sir. I still can't believe it when I hear it either." Riker laughed.

Picard put his hand on the larger man's shoulder. "I'm sorry I couldn't be there for your commissioning, Will."

"Not a problem, sir. That day was nothing but a blur to me anyway. My head was spinning so fast I nearly kissed my Operation's officer thinking it was Deanna."

" is married life treating you?"

"Honestly should try it sometime." Riker winked. "It does wonders for your self-esteem."

"I find it hard to believe that you ever suffered from a lack of confidence, Will." Picard smiled.

"Nah! That was all an act...just a little fun to bide my time. I knew I would never have made it this far without Deanna. I just had to wait until she was ready."

"Well I must say, Captain...that it looks as though it agrees with you."

Riker felt his cheeks grow warm. "It does certainly does."


No sooner did Deanna end her conversation with Beverly than the door alarm chimed. "Now who?" Deanna grumbled.

"Commander Hampton, ma'am."


"Sorry to disturb you but I thought you would like to know that we are being ordered to Starbase 334 to rendevous with the Captain."


"Someone on the base murdered the Borg defectors and we will be assisting with the investigation."

"Did Captain Riker say what happened?"

"No ma'am. Just that we were to pick up his shuttle and be at the base tomorrow."

Deanna nodded. "Thank you, Commander."

"I was headed for Central for dinner if you would care to join me?"

Deanna sensed a subtle emotion from the commander  that she couldn't quite pin down. "No thank you. I really would like to stay and rest this evening."

Hampton looked hurt before he turned away. "Very well. Have a good evening, Counselor."

Deanna saw the look on his face. "Roderick, is there something you would like to talk about?"

Hampton froze in his tracks, unable to face her. "I best be leaving. I'll see you on the bridge tomorrow," he said and walked out.


Will tried for the fifth time to get through to Deanna via sub-space. Frustrated and tired, he flipped the monitor off and laid down on the small bed in his guest quarters. The day's investigation revealed that  five crewmen had access to the area that contained the Borg. And of course, they were all each others alliby and not a one was about to rat the other out. He thought of Deanna, and how helpful she will be when she interrogates the officers.
But of course, he would be happy to see her for more personal reasons as well. He smiled at that thought. And as his mind slowly slipped away into an erotic dream-filled sleep...far away on the other side of the base a fire began to smolder.

A fire that would grow, undetected, into a raging inferno come morning.



Roused from a deep sleep by the pounding on his cabin door, Captain Riker flung his legs over the side of the bed and stumbled into the ante-room. "Come."

The door moved a just few centimeters then stopped. Will watched as two sets of fingers slipped into the gap and tried to coax the door open farther. "Captain! The base is on fire! I need to get you out of there!"

Using his forearm like a crowbar, Riker slowly pried the door open enough so that he could slide through. "What happened?" He looked at the haggard ensign trying to catch his breath.

"A fire started with the main computer area. Everything is shutting down. The fire prevention! Life support will soon follow!"

Riker followed the enisgn down the dark hall and helped him to open the remaining cabin doors as stunned crewmen filled the corridor. "Where's Commander Jenson?" Riker asked.

"In engineering trying to figure out a way to release the airlocked doors to the shuttles."

"Okay! Everyone listen up! We need to get to the shuttle bay as quick as possible! Move!" Will slipped back into his room long enough to grab his boots and jacket before following the crowd down the hall.


The journey to the belly of the starbase took longer than expected. Without the use of turbolifts, they were forced to climb through jeffries tubes using only tactile touch to lead the way. Once outside the shuttle bay, the stench of the thick acrid smoke began to seep into the corridor and forced the crew to their knees.
Will coughed and tried to wipe the stinging sensation from his eyes. "How far is engineering from here?"

Another technician crawled toward the sound of Riker's voice. "Its on the other side of the base. I guarantee they've been cut off by the fire! They couldn't get here even if the doors did open!"

"How many are there?" Will asked as he felt the walls of the hall grow warmer by the second.

"Eight. Including Commander Jenson and Captain Huisoy."

Will thought of the middle aged woman that had accomanied he and Captain Picard here. Captain Huisoy was a delightful woman who spoke highly of her children and new grandson, only three weeks old if he remembered correctly. And how she was so excited to see him for the first time after this mission. Will felt nauseous and he wasn't sure if it was from the fumes or from the thought that Huisoy will die without ever have held her grandchild. "I need to try and get to them," Will said.

"Captain, you will be risking your life!"

Riker ignored the plea. "Stay here unless the smokes gets too bad. We'll find a way to overide those doors!" Will felt his way as he crawled around a corner then stood up. He continued to slide along the wall as he made his way to engineering.


Deanna could no longer ignore the tingling sensation that was running up and down her spine. She stood up from her chair on the bridge and spyed Commander Hampton at a science station at the back of the bridge. "Commander, may I speak to you in private please?"

Hampton smiled. "Of course." He followed her into the ready room and waited for the doors to close before he sat behind the desk in Riker's chair. He watched the beautiful Betazoid pace the room in front of him a few moments before she stopped to look at him. Gods, she had the most wonderous eyes, he thought. Now that he was in command once again, he often found himself fantasizing about what it might be like to have her as his wife. He was sure they would make a good duo as well as set a precedent in Starfleet as the first ever Altrusian captain and Betazoid first officer. Deanna was already in mid sentence before he brought his mind back to reality.

"...he's in trouble." She was staring at him with such emotion and conviction yet he had no idea what she said.

"I'm sorry Deanna, I was thinking of the shuttle retrieval procedure. I didn't catch the first part of what you said."

Deanna looked down at her hands and calmed herself before she began again with a deep breath. "Captain Riker and I have a special bond that allows me feel his emotions. And right now I can't help but think he's in trouble. We need to try and contact the base."

Hampton nodded his head in mock understanding. "Very well. If it will calm your anxiety, I will contact them myself. Take over the bridge while I contact the base from here. I'll relay any information to you."

Deanna was thankful that he chose to contact them from the ready room as she hated the thought of the bridge crew witnessing a possible error on her part if Will was completely fine. She strode back to the command chair and sat on her trembling hands. "How long before we pick up the shuttle?" she asked.

"Forty minutes, sir." Langau answered.

"And how long before we reach Starbase 334?"

"Another fourteen hours, at warp six"

Deanna faked a smile and leaned back into the chair, her nervousness growing in intensity with each minute that passed. Seconds later, when Hampton walked from the ready room, he was wearing a smile as he approached the counselor.

Hampton made a mental check that his emotions would be completely blocked by any potential probes by the empathic woman. "Everything is just fine, Counselor. The communications officer at the Starbase mentioned that there was a small fire when one of the science departments nitririum generator exploded." Hampton laughed. "I guess everyone thought the Borg were attacking!" He placed his hand on her forearm. "They assured me that everything is just fine."

She might not have been able to sense Hampton's emotions at the moment, but she could see something in his eyes that she certainly did not like. Deanna slowly stood from the chair and walked to the back of bridge, trying to figure out a way she could contact Will without anyone else knowing.


Will finally came across a corridor partially lit by stars shining through a few windows and stopped to catch his breath. The fumes were not as bad as they were by the shuttle bay but he still found it difficult to inhale deeply. He licked his parched lips and recoiled at the rancid taste.

He bent down near the floor again and forged onward, feeling the walls for heat as he went. Coming to a junction that would take him either to engineering or sickbay he felt a shuddering of the floor beneath his feet just before he fell through, down to the next level.


Deanna stood talking to Lt. Takol and stopped in mid sentence as if she had been given a small electric shock. She jerked her head quickly to look at Hampton, who seemed now to be a bit nervous. Running to the bottom level of the bridge, she pleaded openly with the acting captain.

"Commander, something is happeneing on that base! My I please use a prioty one to try and contact Will?"

Hampton frowned. "I'm sorry Counselor. You know priority one is used only in emergencies."

"This is an emergency! Something has happened to Captain Riker! I know you may think I am nuts but you have to believe me!"

Hampton sighed. He could no longer prevent the inevitable. "Very well. Langau, patch us through to the base."

"No answer, sir." Langau answered.

Deanna folded her arms across her chest to keep from lashing out at Hampton. "We need to get to the base, Commander."

Hampton ignored her. "Try again. Maybe...maybe someones not paying attention."

"Still no answer."

Frustrated at his inability to keep the Titan from making it to the base, he snarled out the order. "Set course for Starbase 334. Warp Nine."

Pearson acknowledged the order and the moment Hampton inhaled to say the next word, she punch the controls for warp.


Twisted and hot, the metal beams that used to support the floor from which Will Riker just fell through darted up like stalagmites from the joists below. Having missed the first few by slim margins, he was unable to escape the shorter ones at the base and was impaled through the left thigh. The sudden jolt stopped his fall slightly short of the catwalk below and sent his head crashing against the same beam that now held him hostage.

The brief moment of unconsciousnes was quickly replaced by the lucid knowledge of searing pain and the sound of ripping flesh as he dangled upside-down. With every slight movement, Will felt the muscles near his knee tear and he was certain that at any moment he would break free and finish his descent to the floor. But after minute upon minute of excruciating mind bending pain, he realized he was destined to hang like the deer he had killed as a young boy.

Will vividly recalled the sound of the deer's tendons and cartilage ripping as he hung the hind legs by hooks, in his father's shed. And his father telling him that it was done incorrectly, forcing him to remove the carcass and try again. Wishing desperately for his dad to be proud of his accomplishment, the young Will even hid the fact that he sliced his hand by a hook in the process and then made the deer's blood mix with his own to cover the evidence.
And when finally after the fourth try, his dad harshley said it was good enough before he turned and walked away...leaving the boy and the carcass to bleed alone.

"Bastard," Will groaned just before he drifted back into unconsciousness.


Betazoids were supposed to be the calming voice of reason whenever others around them were anxious or nervous...or just plain scared. Unfortunately for Deanna Troi-Riker, being half-human negated alot of her Betazoid abilities now she was the one who was anxious, nervous, and flat-out scared. She could not offer any sort of peace when she herself was about ready to jump out of her skin. 
Half-listening to those around her preparing for a rescue operation, she focused in on Will...on his pain and stress. And his own anger.   Imzadi...

They had learned just moments ago via scanners, that Starbase 334 was on fire, with the only thing keeping it from a complete inferno were the exterior containment walls. The new design was supposed to contain any fires, providing there were no internal explosions, according to Langau. Deanna did manage to hear that at least, and that there have not been any explosions...yet.

"Scanners read two of the three shuttles escaped. No word on how many survivors. Too much interference," Langau called out. "They looked to have made it down to Ithaca's surface though."

Hampton looked over his monitor. "They won't last too long down there," he grimmaced as he looked over the view of the ionic storms that encompassed nearly the whole planet. "Troi, I want you to lead the team down to the planet. We can't transport through the storms so use our largest shuttle. The base's compliment was only thirty-five so they should all fit in one. Troi?"

Deanna blinked and shook her head. "Sorry, sir. Right away." Deanna was glad to have something to do. She moved quickly to the turbolift and headed straight for the shuttle bay, contacting other members of the away team as she went.

"Commander, we're picking up nine life signs still on the base!" Takol said.

The commander turned around and looked at Takol. "Can we get a transporter lock?"

"No. Too much interference on the base for the lock. But if we send an away team over with transport enhancers-"

His shoulders slumped at the thought of anyone going over into the blaze. Then, almost like he was privy to some special revelation, Hampton's lips curled into an evil grin, unseen by those around. For the briefest moment, he picked up on a stray thought...a word. A word that made him want to be a part of the away team. An oppurtunity that he had been waiting for, for the last three months.
A chance to regain all that he had lost.
All, just because someone over there thought this one little word. And the word was imzadi.


Imzadi... Will thought as he came to, again.

The flames of the fire lapped up toward his head as he hung there. And if he didn't wish to be roasted like a chicken on a spicket or be char-broiled like the last steak he ate,  he had to do something quick as neither option sounded too appealing.

Will bent his neck up and inspected the area that controlled his fate. The edge of the metal beam that penetrated just above the knee looked like the tip of a javelin; rounded and sharp. "Fuck!" he cried out as more tissue tore. Biting his top lip, Will tightened his abdominal muscles and lifted his torso up until he grabbed a hold of the hot beam with his bare hands, searing more flesh. Feeling his leg slip slightly down the bar, he clung tightly and pulled his body up.

Using his massive shoulder and upper arm strength, he pulled himself to the top  and somehow released his leg from the beam; screaming the entire time.
Sissy! His dad would called him. "Fuck you," Will sputtered after another scream escaped his mouth. A short moment later, he had pulled himself back up to the original floor he was on before the fall.

**          ***           ***             ***         ***


The away team materialized in a flame-free corridor outside engineering. Hampton and Takol pryed the door open, revealing eight very thankful crewmen. "There's only eight people here! There was supposed to be nine," Takol said..

Hampton looked around and concealed his smile. Huisoy spoke through her fits of coughs, "We were the only people here. I assumed everyone else made it safely to the shuttles."

Another Titan away team member walked up to Hampton. "Commander Troi just informed us that Captain Riker was not among those on the surface. She was inquiring to see if he was among those here?"

Hampton faked a concerned look and read his tri-corder. "There's one more life sign not too far from here. I'll go. Everyone else get back to the Titan!" Hampton hurried away before anyone could question his order.


Troi was pacing the bridge when the away team returned. She looked at each face, hoping for some sort of sign but all she received was concern and fear.

"Where's Commander Hampton?" she asked Takol.

"We discovered one more life sign before we left. Assuming it was the captain's, he wanted to check it out himself."

"He didn't take anyone with him?" Troi feared the worst was happening.

Takol's face shown the confusion she herself felt. "No. He told us all to get back with the survivors. I thought it a bit strange my-"

"Mora, we need to get to Will before Hampton does. I think he might try and harm the captain."

The entire bridge crew turned and looked at Troi. But not a single person spoke in defense of Hampton...they all knew then what was going on.

"Aye, sir." Takol moved toward the turbolift and halted Deanna's progression. "With all due respect, sir. You're in charge now and perhaps you should stay on board." She placed a gentle hand on Troi's forearm. "Don't worry Deanna, we'll find Captain Riker and bring him back safely."

Deanna took a step back and nodded slightly, letting the tactical officer enter the lift alone.


Stepping out of the turbolift shaft, Hampton spotted a body laying motionless in the smoke-filled corridor. Feeling the floor creak with each step, he continued onward a short distance further on his hands and knees.

"Riker?" he called out and saw a slight bit of movement in the man's head. "Can you move?"
He wanted to make this attempt at saving the captain's life look good on report, so he promised himself he would do everything by the book...for awhile at least.

"I don't think I can walk." Will cried out, completely drained from his prevous ordeal.

Hampton grabbed a hold of Riker's jacket and pulled him along the floor until they were at a point it no longer felt wobbly.

"We need to go down one level  in order to beam out! Do you think you can make it?" Hampton yelled as the roar of the fire drowned out his normally soft voice.

"I'll try," Will said and flipped his legs over the edge of shaft, noticing for the first time that the wound above his knee had been cauterized at some point by the intense heat of the metal beam.

Will waited to see if Hampton was going to do down first, to provide some sort of precaution should he lose his balance but Hampton remained still. Slinging his arm around the ladder in the shaft, Will looked up and saw a rather nasty grin appearing on Hamton's face. "What?"

Hampton stayed  silent but the glassy look that evolved in his brown eyes sent shivers down Will's spine.

"Its mine again," he finally said and took two short steps forward, bent his knee back and kicked as hard as he possibly could.


Hampton's boot grazed the side of Riker's head catching only the captain's left ear. And only by quick agility did the commander prevent the momentum from catapulting himself down to the firey pit below..

"What are you doing?" Riker screamed as he clutched desperately to the top rung of the ladder in the shaft. 

Bracing himself across the opening, Hampton began to stomp down with the heel of his boot onto Will's forearm. "Why. can't. you. just. DIE?!" Each word growing in intensity with each successive blow.

Riker blocked the last couple kicks and switched arms as he slid further down the rungs to the next level, with Hampton in close pursuit. But before he could limp too far down the smoke filled corridor, Hampton pulled him from behind and sent him shrieking to the floor in pain.
Quickly grabbing Riker's feet , Hampton struggled but succeeded in pulling the much larger man the short distance back to the shaft. "This has look like an accident!" Hampton growled as he tossed Riker's legs over the edge and prepared to do the same with the rest of his body.

Unable to twist around and kick his way free, Will clawed at the heated floor trying to find anything he could grasp on to. And when he felt his legs hit the open shaft, he turned sharply and saw Hampton bending down towards his torso trying to grab a fistful of  uniform jacket.

Will chopped with both hands at the man's neck hitting Hampton just below the jawline on either side. The blow gave him enough time to scamper away from the opening but not enough time to evade a lunging tackle.
Both men tumbled to the floor and rolled dangerously close to the opening of the shaft. Knowing Will's left leg was severely injured, Hampton continuously kneed the captain at the site of the previous impalement until his commanding officer could no longer stand the torment and slumped to the floor in agony.

Between the heat from the flames one deck below them and the intense pain from his leg, the world around Will began to spin until he lost ability to focus. Kick after tortuous kick, his body inched closer to his awaiting fate in the shaft. Countless of bruises could not even dim the pain that radiated from the hole in his leg and what had been a cauterized wound, now lay broken open; spilling out fresh blood into his own clutched hands.

"Why are you doing this?" Will gritted his teeth and looked up at his attacker.

"Because that ass I hired on earth...couldn't finish the job!" He kicked again. This time his boot landed squarley against Will's jaw.

Will spit away the blood that poured into his mouth and gave Hampton one last pleading look just before he felt his body dip over the edge to the pit below.


Hampton looked down into the shaft and spied a twisted and motionless body laying ontop of the lift car two decks below; the scorching flames a few meters away. Climbing down to the next level, Hampton jumped through the opening and began to run back to the transporter area. Rounding the last corner before the engineering department, he barreled over Lt. Takol and three other security personnel.

"Where's the captain?" Mora screamed as the crackling of the flames was becoming deafening.

"He dead! We have to get back NOW!" Hampton ordered and tried to get through the officers but they blocked his way. "We don't have time for this!"

"Where is his body?"

Hampton clenched his teeth in disgust at that fact that she dared to disobey him. "Down the turbolift shaft. He fell as we tried to climb down! Now LET"S GO!" The security team continued their blockade. "Fine! See for yourselves!" He pointed back at the lift.

Mora darted past him and ran down the corridor to the lift. Looking down, she quickly averted her eyes from the grizzly site. "God no," she whispered.
Before she was able to turn back to the group, a massixe explosion rocked the entire corridor, causing Mora to lose her balance and tumble into the pit, directly on top of her captain.


Hampton stood tall and pointed toward the beam-out area. "If you all want to die like they did, then stay. But I'm leaving now...with the ship in a matter of seconds!!" He scurried around fallen beams and stood within the transporter enhancement area. A split second later he was gone, with the three security personnel.


Rather than remaining on the bridge, Deanna chose to stand in the ready room, staring out the massive window at the starbase watching as the fire slowly consumed the interior deck by deck. Her sense of Will seemed to grow more faint with each passing moment. The frustration of not being able to help him herself, compounded by the fact that she could not trust Commander Hampton with his life made her nauseous. She leaned aginst Will's chair and rubbed her open palm against the back. He was dying. She was certain of that.
But whether it was from the fire itself, or at the hands of the commander she was not sure. And it really didn't matter. From the looks of the base, the Titan would only be able to remain within transporter range for another few minutes before they would have to retreat to a safer distance.
"Will!" she cried as she sensed a concentrated emotion of pain. Unable to find the courage to watch any longer, she slumped into his chair and buried her head in her trembling hands unaware that Ensign Pearson had just walked in.


Deanna bolted upright and wiped away the streaming tears from her cheeks. "Yes?"

The young ensign slowly walked forward. "I thought that you might want some company."

"Thank you for your consideration. But I don't-"

"I know you are concerned about Commander Hampton, and I wish I could offer some sort of encouragement." Candace jumped in, realizing now that maybe it was she that needed the company. The death of her sister, Amanda, was still too very fresh in her mind and having to deal with this was overwhelming.

"You and he were close, weren't you?" Deanna asked, sensing the young woman's need.

Candace sat down opposite the counselor. "I wanted to be. But for some reason he always kept me at arms distance. I never really could get close to him. It was like he didn't want me to know him too well."

Deanna shrugged. "I think he likes it that way. He enjoys that amount of secrecy about himself. I only wish now, I might have pryed a bit-" Deanna grimmaced as a sharp panged image of Will laying twisted against a black background surrounded by fire entered her mind. Her whole body tensed up and she clutched her fists against her forehead.

"Counselor?" Candace reached across the desk and touched Deanna's forearm. Deanna looked up, the tears had returned and she was having difficulty breathing. "What's wrong?"

"He's...he's projecting to me." Candace watched the beautiful face of the woman in front of her turn ashen, filled with desperation and anguish. "He's projecting to me....Will's death."


Ensign Candace Pearson moved around the desk and clutched Deanna's quivering hands, feeling them grow cold and damp within her grasp. "Maybe he's just injured...badly."

Deanna couldn't find her breath, let alone find any words to say. A visible shiver passed down her body and she sunk further into Will's chair.

<Langau to Counselor Troi. The away back>

Deanna turned slowly to Pearson and shook her head. "Is Captain Riker with them?" She asked, already knowing the answer.

<No, sir. Neither is Lt. Takol> Even Langau's normally serene voice seemed full of emotion.

Pearson sucked in a deep breath and let go of Troi's hands just before the counselor bolted out the ready room door.

Troi saw from the corner of her eye the lift door open, spilling out a hurried commander. "Not now Counselor," Hampton said as he put up his hand almost in her face as he rushed to the helm controls.

"What are you doing?" Deanna watched him move the officer away that had taken Pearson's place then key in a destination and engage the warp engine.

"Getting out of here before that things explodes!" Once the ship executed his orders,  Hampton finally looked over his shoulder at Deanna. "I'm sorry Counselor. I tried to save him."

"You liar!" Troi yelled, holding her clenched fists to her sides. "He's not dead yet! Turn this ship around NOW!"

"Security," Hampton looked up to the crewman at tactical. "Please escort the counselor to sickbay. I'm sure she will need a sedative."

"I don't need a sedative! What I do need is for you to turn this ship around and retrieve my husband and the leiutenant!"

"That base is going to explode! If it hasn't already! We can't go back there."

Deanna's anger mixing with the faint life signs from Will made her entire body shake with each word she spoke. "But he's alive," she pleaded.

"Deanna, I didn't want to tell you like this but...he was injured when I found him. He fell down the turbolift shaft as we tried to escape. If the fall didn't kill him...then the fire would have. I'm sorry, but we can't...and I won't...risk the entire ship." He placed a false remorseful hand on her shoulder that she quickly shrugged off.

"You son of a bitch," she growled in a tone that could only be heard by Hampton.


"Will? C'mon Captain! Wake up!" Mora held the large man's shoulders and gently shook him.

Having landed on top of him, she was without injury. But Riker on the otherhand, was bleeding from a number of places and was unconscious. She didn't even want to think about what sort of internal injuries he might have sustained from his fall as well as hers. Placing her ear near his mouth, she heard a few raspy and shallow breaths as she turned him flat to his back. "Damn it Will! Open your Eyes!" Mora yelled, feeling the heat from the flames as they lapped their way into the shaft one level above them. "If you want to see Deanna again....WAKE THE FUCK UP!"

A low grumble came from his mouth. "Captain Riker. GET UP! C'mon GET TO YOUR FEET!"

Will's face contorted into a hideous scowl before his eyes fluttered open. "Thank God," Mora breathed. "Can you stand?"

Will looked around their darkened surroundings in an attempt to gain his barings. "I don't know," he sputtered.

"Well, unless you want to be baked alive, I suggest you try. There's no way I can lift you out of here. We need to get to the third shuttle at the belly of the base."

Will tried to sit up but stopped suddenly when he felt his entire side burn with pain. "I think my ribs and left wrist are broke."

Flames darted across the shaft  just above Mora's head and she was quickly losing her patience. She looked him straight in the eye and gritted her teeth, "Get up Riker, or I'm leavin' that cute little ass of your's here to fry!" She flung her leg over the side of the car and latched onto the ladder. "Are you coming?"

Riker winced as he crawled to the edge of the lift. "I always knew you were after my ass!"

Mora smiled briefly at the return of the legendary Riker wit. "Your ass wasn't all that I was after. And if your other legendary parts wants to see the light of day, then I suggest you hurry it up!" In any other circumstance, she would never have talked to the captain this way, despite the fact they shared a short relationship back on the Enterprise. And she was sure Deanna would not mind as long as she got him back alive.

Mora ducked onto a small ledge where four tunnels merged together and waited for him to catch up. "Come on Will! I know you move faster than that."

"My body doesn't exactly want to cooperate" he grumbled.

"Well thats a first."

"Thanks," he said as he slid last few rungs down to where she was. "It doesn't help that you landed on me, either."

"I just thought I'd follow through with what you like. You know, woman on top...?"

"Very funny." He looked around and pointed toward a tunnel. "There. We need to go through that one." He stepped aside and let her take the lead again.


Deanna had never disobeyed a commanding officer's orders before. Her palms that only a short time ago were cold and clammy now were drenched with sweat. Looking about the bridge, she sensed a great amount of uncertainty coming from the staff. She only hoped they would follow her lead. As Hampton turned toward the ready room, she stepped in his way blocking his path.

"You have left two officers alive back there, Commander. They deserve another attempt at a resc-"

"Riker had his chance! Its not my fault Takol was stupid and had to check for herself!" He glanced about the bridge as all eyes were focused on him and his callous remarks. Just then, a sudden beeping screamed from Langau's consul.

"Our scanners have picked up the third shuttle leaving the starbase!" The Androsian exclaimed.

"Ensign, lay in an intercept course," Deanna said excitedly.

"Belay that order, Ensign! I told you there was no one left alive there! It must have disengaged on its own. Everyone is accounted for, and those who aren't...are DEAD!" Hampton screamed.

"Sir, we are now picking up two life signs on board the shuttle." Langau looked to Pearson as if to say re-enter that course.

"What? How can that be?" Hampton double-checked Langau's readings. "They were dead," he hissed.

"Set course Ensign," Deanna ordered. "I guess you screwed up again, Commander." Deanna said boldly, folding her arms across her chest as her sense of Will increased.

"I don't know what you mean," he looked distracted and confused.

"I failed to kill Will on our honeymoon, and you failed to kill him now."

"Thats insane!" he looked back toward Pearson, hoping to find support but her eyes remained locked on her consul. "I  would never do such a thing!"

Silent minutes passed and Deanna could see the nervousness rising up within Hampton while she herself was as calm as could be. Will had sent to her that he was alright despite needing to spend some time in sickbay. And after she sent her strength and love to him, Langau informed them that the shuttle was docked aboard the Titan.

Once again Hampton looked nervously around, probably trying to figure out his escape, Deanna thought. After a few more minutes, the turbo lift doors opened revealing two foul smelling, soot covered dishelved officers. The taller one limped while the other one raced down the ramp to the lower level of the bridge.

"Mora! You're alive!" Hampton lifted his arms to hug her but was met with an icy stare and a raised phaser. He then focused his attention on Riker. "Captain! Thank God you survived!"

Will looked and felt like he had been to hell and back. His uniform was tattered and torn and what wasn't covered in a black oily film, was covered in his own blood. His jacket was opened and ripped up the middle, revealing Mora's not-so-clean try at a field dressing for his broken ribs and he was missing the fabric off of one arm completely; which actually was being used as a tornequet around his injured leg.

Dragging that injured leg down the ramp, Will limped by Deanna and gave her a wink before he kissed her quickly on the cheek. He then focused every ounce of his being on Hampton. Will gently tapped Mora on the shoulder and waited for her to move aside before he took her place in front of the commander.

"Commander Hampton," Will began then gritted his teeth together as he clenched a fist and swung as hard as his body would allow, hitting Hampton squarely in the chin. "Consider yourself officially notified that you are relieved from duty!" Will nodded at Takol who promptly took him into custody.

Deanna hurried to Will's side as it looked like he was about lose his balance. Allowing him to brace himself against her, she walked with him up the ramp to the lift. "Langau, you have the bridge," she turned and said.

"Ah, spoken like a true first officer." Will said proudly as the doors closed and he leaned against the wall. "Afterall, that will be your position until Starfleet gets me another one."

Deanna smiled then curled her lip up in disgust as his stench consumed the small area within the lift. "You may call me Number One...after you take a bath. As you said not all that many days stink!" She wiggled her nose at him just before he pulled her into deep and heated kiss.



"I thought you said you'd never take a bubble bath with me again?" Deanna recalled his earlier words as he relaxed back against her chest, rolling his head around until he found a comfortable spot.

"A guy can change his mind, can't he?" He opened one eye and looked about, making sure there was no straight razor in sight.

"Are you sure you're feeling up to this?" She looked down at his left leg that was bent over the edge of the outside of the tub. The bandage covering his wound still looked as sterile as when the doctor originally applied it.

Will opened both eyes this time and looked up at her, giving her his most devilish look. "What do you think?"

Deanna moved her hand slightly under the thick foamy covering and smiled. "You amaze me, Imzadi."

"Good. I hate to think that at some point I might become boring to you." He closed his eyes again and nestled back between her breasts.

Deanna chuckled at the absurdity of his statement. Never in a million years, would she become bored with Will-the-Thrill Riker. Each day was an adventure of its own and there certainly was never two days alike. She looked down and felt his body relaxing against her. "I love you," she whispered as she gently massaged his chest.

His eyes shot wide open and he looked up at her again. "Do I smell better yet?"

"Almost." Deanna removed the sprayer from the faucet and soaked his hair before shampooing it, then leaned down and pressed her lips near his ear. "How is it you always smell so good?"

He turned as much as could to face her. "Are you mocking me?"

Deanna grinned. "I've learned from the best." 

"Good. Now show me what else you've learned." Will's blue eyes sparkled against the white back drop of the suds. 

Waves crashed against the wall of the tub and onto the floor as Deanna shoved Will forward, releasing her from his weight. She stepped from the water and stood next to the claw-footed porcelein fixture.
Will sucked in a deep breath as he watched portions of the white foam slide down her glistening body and over the delicious curves of her breasts and buttocks. She then held out her delicate hand and helped him to stand. "This way...Captain." She gave a deep-throated chuckle when she spotted the suds that had collected on his erect manhood, making it look like a snow covered mountain peak. "We have some time to make up."

"I am at your beckoned call, my dear." Deanna ran her fingers through the hair on his chest and down the fine trail to the heated flesh below, knocking away the foam in the process. "Make it-"

Deanna silenced his corny remark with a wet finger against his lips that was quickly replaced by her mouth and tongue. And when her hands found the firm muscles of his buttocks, she pulled back. "Mora was right. You do have a cute ass." Deanna's lips curled up into a mischievous smile.

Will looked embarrassed. "She told you that?"

"Mmhmm. She also told me the reason why she dated you." Deanna glanced down at the appendage that bobbled against her abdomen. "I must say...she has good taste."

Will's horrified look turned into one of pride and arrogance as he bore Deanna to the bed. "I'll show you good taste, my love."


Not another word was spoken the remainder of the night. As none were needed.
The occasional release of emotions and the heated groans of pleasure filled the air of the lover's cabin into the early morning hours when both fell asleep in each other's embrace.

                                          THE END (of Deviations)
                                              TBC (THE IMZADI SAGA)