Title: 'A Time to Say Goodbye' pt.1
Author:  IzzY
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Paramount has nothing on me.



OKAY!!!!!!!!!!    I hereby swear to never use this song again in any more of my stories


Time to say goodbye
Places that I've never seen
or experienced with you
now I shall
I'll sail with you
upon ships across the seas
seas that exist no more
I'll revive them with you
                   ~Sarah Brightman


The ceremony had been simple. Far more simple than what Deanna Troi-Riker might have chosen, but this is Starfleet. And pomp and circumstance seemed extinct these days, especially after the latest war with the Dominion. There was no time...there was no enthusiam left among Starfleet's hierarchy to provide the once highly emotional promotion to captaincy ceremony.
Nevertheless, her husband, William Thomas Riker, didn't seem to mind as he accepted the commission as Captain of the Excelsior-class ship, USS Titan.

She had stood at the front of the room with her husband and watched as the change of officers occurred. The temporary captain, Commander Roderick Hampton authorized the change over and now resumed his previous job as ship's first officer. Deanna couldn't help but notice the jealousy and anger filling the younger man's heart. She tried to pass it off and understand his position. Afterall, he had been acting-captain for the last three months and now Starfleet finally chose to fill the position with an outsider, someone who knew nothing about the ship. He must have felt incredibly dejected when he learned of the decision, she thought.

Deanna had been concentrating on the commander when she felt warm fingers weave their way through her own. Without looking up, she sighed contentedly as a swell of love caressed her soul. Someone might have thought that by now, she would have gotten used to their renewed bond...this feeling that washed over her every time he stood near, the way he would make her weak in the knees.
But she didn't.
And she certainly didn't mind.
He could make her feel this way every minute of the day, and she would never complain.

Will Riker looked down at the petite woman who leaned into his body embracing his spirit. As a couple and as friends, they had been to hell and back. And through all of life's gutless twists and unending turmoils, she stood by him. Even when he felt his heart shatter by other women, she was there to pick up the pieces. But somehow fate has a way of correcting itself, and once again she was here as
Deanna Troi-Riker...his friend, his lover...his wife.

Riker released his sweaty grip and stepped forward to receive his fourth pip from Admiral Hansen. So far, he had controlled his emotions. His handsome facial features remained stoic until he turned to face his new crew...his new family. Without hesitation, that familiar grin appeared and Deanna wiped a lone tear from her cheek. She was never so proud of him as she was now.

She stepped further back as the rush of officers moved forward to meet thier new captain. Will gave her one quick glance just before he was surrounded by those offering hand shakes and welcome pats on his back. Deanna shook her head and laughed silently as she sensed an aura of respect and admiration coming from the group, all directed toward her beloved. This was the moment he had worked so hard for, the moment he had sacrificed so much for...the pinnicle of his career. She silently thanked the gods above that she was here with him to be a part of it all.

Deanna continued to watch from a distance when she felt a slender arm encircle her waist and hug her gently.

"I began to think that this would never happen!" The usual soft voice spoke a little louder so that she could be heard above the noise.

Deanna shook her head in amazement as she caught Will's laughter from the crowd. "I only wish Captain Picard could have been here for the ceremony."

"Yes well, I'm sure he felt the same way." Beverly Crusher tried to hide the slight bitterness in her voice.

"Beverly, before we reach Earth I would like to spend some time with you." Deanna turned and held her friend's hands. "And talk about your decision to go back to Starfleet Medical."

Beverly laughed. "Don't worry about me, Counselor. It's time you think about yourself for a change. Afterall, you and Will missed out on your honeymoon. I'm sure you two want some time alone." Beverly nudged Deanna's shoulder.

"Starfleet must have felt sorry for us because they have granted us one week of vacation while the Titan undergoes some refittings at Starbase McKinley."

"And Captain Riker is willing to leave his new ship?" Beverly gasped. "Boy, he has changed!"

Deanna laughed. "I think it finally occurred to him what is important in life." As soon as she said it, she sensed Beverly's pain and wrapped her arms around her. "I'm so sorry Beverly."

"Excuse me, but could I borrow my wife for a moment?" Will Riker put his hand on Deanna's back.

Beverly cleared her throat and smiled up at the tall man. "She's all your's...Captain."

"Thanks." Will grabbed Deanna's hand and started to lead her away before Beverly placed a hand on his forearm.

"I just wanted to say thanks again for letting me hitch a ride back to Earth."

Will smiled. "Sure! There's no reason you should spend three days couped up in a shuttle when we were heading there anyway." He didn't need to be an empath to see she was trying to cover up her emotions. He spoke softly, "Beverly, if you ever need-"

"Yes. I know I could count on you for anything, Will. Thanks. Now go...shue! You have people to meet." Will felt Deanna lean into him as they watched her turn and walk out the door.


Hours later, Captain Riker stood in his new office, his ready room, and stared out the portal as the Enterprise disappeared into their warp bubble. What had been his home for the last fourteen years was already lightyears away when he realized his door alarm was sounding.


"Captain." Commander Hampton strolled in and placed a PADD on the desk. "We will reach Starbase McKinley in four hours." The younger man ran a finger down half the length of the desk as if he thought he would never see it again.

"Difficult, isn't it?" Will inquired.

"What's that, Sir?"

"Having your ship taken out from under you. Just like that." He snapped his fingers and sat down behind the desk.

Hampton forced a smile. "Yes. Yes it is."

"It happened to me a couple of times as well." Will leaned back and recalled when the last incident when the then Captain Jellico took over while Picard was sent away on special assignment. "Its not fun."

"Sir, you have earned your right to be here, and I understand that. It just might sting for a time, but I'll get over it. You have the respect of every crewman on board...including me." Hampton's green eyes seemed to sparkle when he smiled. He took a step back from the desk when Riker rose and walked toward him.

Will had at least four inches on the slender built man, he noticed as he placed a hand on his first officer's shoulder. "I think we're going to have a lot of fun together."

"Speaking of fun, Sir...but where might you be taking that beautiful new wife of yours on your honeymoon."

Will leaned against the desk and stretched his long legs out. "Well, since our plans to sail the Opal Sea were cancelled, I thought that a cruise in the South Pacific area might be nice."

Hampton walked towards the door and turned and in jest, quickly added, "Just be sure you return Captain. I'd hate to see the ship leave space dock without you."

"Don't worry Commander. I have every intention of being this ship's Captain for more than one day, at least."

Commander Hampton muddled something under his breath just before he walked out that left the Captain feeling not all too confident about his last statement.


"I think this place could use a woman's touch." Beverly walked around the quarters that would be home to the captain and his wife.

"I agree." Deanna frowned as she removed a hideous picture from the wall and replaced it with a sconce full of flowers. "Thats better."

"So have you fully initiated this room yet?" Beverly asked as she sat bouncing up and down on the bed.


"Oh come on! It won't be that much longer that I get to embarrass you like this. I'm gonna miss it."

Deanna walked in and sat next to the doctor and they both flopped backwards to stare at the ceiling. After a lengthy silence, Beverly spoke. "I knew when he carried her from the cave,  there was no hope for us."

"Do you know how many times I told myself that, about Will and I?"

"But you two are special, you said so yourself. When I realized that he was risking everything for Anij, I knew I had to move on."



"Soren, the J'Naii Will risked court-martial over. When I heard that he and Worf went to the surface to get her, I was devestated. I mean," Deanna rolled to her side and looked at Beverly. "I couldn't believe he risked his career over love...when his career was supposedly the only thing keeping us apart."

"Men!" Beverly sighed and rolled to face Deanna. "I believe this is the best decision I've made in a long time."

Deanna smiled. "I know. I can sense you a very content about that decision. I'm happy for you."

"Yes, I guess we all deserve some now and then." Beverly leaned over and hugged her friend warmly until they heard someone clearing their voice behind them.

Both Beverly and Deanna rolled to their backs and stared at the man framed in the doorway. "Deanna their something you needed to tell me before the wedding. I mean this is the second time I've found the two of you in an emb- aaggh!"

Halfway into his amused sentence, the women reached above them and grabbed the pillow rolls and threw them in Will's direction. Beverly's projectile missed completely and hit the wall with a thud. Deanna's however, hit the captain squarely in the groin, doubling him over.

"Will!" Deanna leaped from the bed wrapped an arm around him and guided him to  Beverly's vacated spot. "I'm so sorry!"

"So much for that honeymoon!" Beverly joked. "Are you alright or do you need medical assitance?"

Will raised his head and glared at the doctor, faking a smile. "I'll be fine." His voice seemed an octave higher.

"Then I guess I'll be leaving Deanna to tend to your wound. Good-bye!" Beverly sang as she exited the room.

"I guess we need softer pillows." Deanna said.

"You think?" Will's voice was returning to normal and he straightened up. We are almost to the base. How's the unpacking coming?" Will looked around the room.

"Since we are leaving again shortly, not very well. I don't think I'm going to want to come back to this after a week of," Deanna climbed onto his lap. "sheer bliss."

Will placed his hands under her rear and adjusted her so that she was not resting on the rather tender spot. "How's Beverly?" He smiled when he felt her lips on his neck, moving their way along his jawline.

"Beverly who?" Deanna innocently asked just before Will flipped her to her back and began to unzip her uniform jacket. "My mind just went blank."

Will pinned her against the bed with his body and whispered, "How do you want your punishment?"

Deanna giggled, "For what?"

"Inflicting pain on a superior officer."

"Oh, in that case-"



Deanna sensed Will's excitement regarding his first mission as captain. Pulling himself up off her body, he straightened his jacket and gave her an apologetic grin. "Duty calls."

"Duty calls," she acknowledged and returned his smile. Two seconds later he was out the door.

Slightly favoring his right side from the earlier pillow incident, he made his way to the bridge. Thankfully the captain's quarters were on the same deck and he didn't have too far to go. Rushing onto the top level, he expected the crew to be stationed at their positions awaiting his orders. Instead, they were all gathered on the lower deck smiling and giggling. Commander Hampton took a few steps away from the crowd and looked down at the stopwatch he was holding. "Forty-two seconds, Sir. Thats pretty fast?"

Will walked down the ramp. "Whats going on?"

Hampton continued, "There is this little tradition on board the Titan, Sir, where the captain gets timed from his quarters to the bridge." He flung the watch at Will who deftly caught it against his chest. "Looks like you've won."

Will cocked his head in confusion of the moment as well as Hampton's remark.

"Congratulations, sir. We try to make the call at a most inoppurtune time. We must not have succeeded." A tall blonde  woman whom he immediately recognized from her short stent on board the Enterprise stepped forward extending her hand. "I believe we've met before, Mora Takol, Chief of Security."

Will shook her hand and felt the blood rush from his head. It seemed to be getting rather warm on the bridge right at the moment. It had been about five years since he had welcomed the young Ensign on board and now she was his chief of security. He hadn't recognized the name when he read the mainfest but the face was unmistakable. It was bound to happen sooner or later, he decided. Then, as he let her hand go, she placed a finger to her lips as if to say I won't tell, if you don't.
Will couldn't have agreed more.

"We'll have to try harder next time?" She smiled.

Will looked frazzled and confused.

"Or maybe we did call at a bad time?" Her eyebrows raised in amusement.

"You might say that." Will answered and the group cheered at their accomplished goal.

Will shook his head and laughed. He loved a good joke just as anyone else, even though this one was on him. "As you were." he said and sat down in his command chair.
It wasn't too much longer until they reached the base. No sense on going back to his quarters to start something he wouldn't be able to finish. "I hope this isn't something that happens on a routine basis?" He leaned over and asked Hampton.

The first officer grinned and shook his head. Takol  spoke up from behind Will at her tactical station. "Only until we get you here with your pants down...literally."

Shocked and wishing like hell Deanna could be here to tell him if she were lying, Will merely smiled and slunk into his chair. "Swell."



"I wish you the best of luck Doctor Crusher." Deanna tried to hold back the tears as she hugged her friend again.

"And to you Mrs. Riker." Beverly sniffled. "AND...I had better be the first one told when you are expecting any little ones, you hear?" she admonished.


They stood in a corridor overlooking the campus at Starfleet Medical. The grounds below were filled with young students walking briskly  to and from classes.

"Do you remember when we were that young?" Deanna asked, not really expecting an answer.

"Some memories are better than others." The voice of Will Riker boomed from behind.

Deanna turned and greeted her husband with a kiss after beaming down from the starbase. He looked at the women's glistening eyes and realized they were saying their goodbyes. "Would you two like some more time?"

"No." Beverly shook her head and squeezed Deanna's arm. "You two need to get moving. I believe you have a boat to catch."

Will bent down and kissed the doctor on the lips. "We'll keep in touch."

"You better!"

"We will." Deanna swallowed hard and watched the doctor walk down the corridor and round the corner. Will pulled her into a tight embrace and kissed the top of her head.

"Are you okay?" he asked as she turned from him and looked out the window again.

"Its seems as though my life couldn't be any more perfect...and yet..."

Will waited for her to finish and when she didn't he asked, "And yet? I need to know you have any regrets? Any regrets about leaving the Enterprise, about leaving your friends...about me?"

She regarded his reflection in the glass in front of her. For a moment, her emotional response wanted to say 'yes' but then she saw those blue eyes staring at her and every doubt that had ever surfaced faded away. She leaned back into his front side so that he had no choice but to instinctively reach out and hold her.

Will placed his cheek against the top of her head. "I love you," he whispered.

Deanna blinked away the tears and turned in his embrace. Looking up into his heavenly eyes, she sent to him a message in Betazoid that translated roughly into 'I will follow you to the edge of the universe, Imzadi. And never doubt that it was the right thing to do. I love you too."

Will put his arm around her shoulder and escorted her to their awaiting shuttle.



Deanna took in a hefty dose of the salty ocean air and stepped out of the cabin and onto the upper deck of the cruise ship. Looking down the wooden walkway, her sight came to rest on the object of her desire. Will was leaning against the railing with his arms fixed across his bare chest, waiting for her to appear. He had undressed quickly and mentioned that he wanted to reserve the best lounge chairs on the deck.

Smiling proudly as she approached, he motioned to two chairs nestled in a corner but not yet out of the sun's rays. A whistle escaped his lips bringing to attention more than one set of eyes as she passed by. Feeling the stares centered on her, Deanna blushed and quickly pulled the thin robe she was wearing a little tighter.

Will felt a stirring of arousal as he looked her top to bottom to top again. The black one-piece bathing suit was amazing on her body. The thin straps encircled her delicate neck and came straight down to barely cover her breasts. Her tight belly was open thanks to a diamond shaped cut out that dipped dangerously low. The white robe she wore must have been for show only because it was so sheer, everything was seen through it.

There was no need to use her empathic abilities because the look in Will's eyes said it all. Deanna walked right up to Will and ran a fingernail down the midline of his chest and abdomen until it rested just inside the waistband of his trunks.
Will groaned and jumped back suddenly as she pulled the elastic band back and let it snap against his belly. "Hey!" he exclaimed.

"That's what you get for the whistle." She removed her robe and gracefully sat down on the chair.

"You should be thankful that we're surrounded by people because I'd take you here and now."

Deanna's lips curled up at the corners as she closed her eyes and laid back into the lounger. "Has that ever stopped you before?"

Will quickly caught on to her suggestion and laid next to her, throwing a towel over his mid-section. "I think that's a challenge, my dear."

Deanna smiled as she felt Will enter her mind with highly explicit thoughts and erotic images of them together, and of what he wanted to do. A minute later, Deanna was tugging on his hand pulling him back to the confines of their room, easily conceding the challenge.

"These last few nights have had the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen," a delicate voice whispered from behind.

Will felt Deanna's hand tenderly scratching up and down his back as she layed her head against his arm. He pulled her in tighter and watched the remainder of the sun drift beyond the horizon and the islands of Samoa. This was to be the last evening as the ship  headed back to Hawaii, and then a shuttle to San Francisco.
The orange steaked sky slowly gave way to the stars that the couple instinctively sought out. "You're sad," Deanna observed.

Will nodded. "Homesick."

Deanna sighed and stared up into his eyes with a slight grin building on her face. "You'll never feel at home again on ground...will you? The stars will always be calling you."

"Perhaps someday, when we have too many children running around the ship, I'll feel that nesting instinct. But for now..."

"You miss the Enterprise," she finished the sentence for him.

He nodded again. "Before you know it, the crew on the Titan will become our family. It will just take some time."

"I know." His eyebrows raised with admiration when he finally saw the dress she was wearing. Tight and short in all the right spots. "Wow."

Deanna held up his dress coat she had been holding. "Let's go, Captain. I'm starved."

Will slid the coat over his broad shoulders and cocked his head as if something just occurred to him. "Your not-"

"No Will," she laughed. "I just can't have enough of this fresh food."

Will's shoulders fell in relief and escorted his wife to dinner. Children were definitely in their plans for the future, but for now he wanted every waking moment to be spent with his imzadi.


Will's fellow gamblers hollered with joy as he rolled his sixth pass in a row. After dinner, they agreed to spend sometime with other vacationers and opted to try the casino. Picking the dice up from the table, he held his hand up to Deanna's mouth and waited for her to blow them kiss. Following her cue, she leaned into him and performed the ritual to perfection. Wrapping an arm around his waist, she looked to the other end of the crowded table and followed the tumbling cubes to where they lay.

"Yo-eleven," the stickman called out leading to another round of cheers.

Will held them once more and flipped the croupier a token. "Horn-high twelve," he hollered and this time kissed Deanna on the lips as he tossed the dice.


Will took an overly enthusiastic pat on the rear. Noticing Deanna was standing completely in front of him gawking at the large sum of money he had just won, he quickly glanced around and spotted a Dabo girl walking back to her table. She turned sharply and caught his glance. Winking, her eyes then seductively traveled down the length of his body as a lascivious smile appeared.

Will's cheeks burned and he turned back to the action in front of him, being sure to press up against Deanna as he reached for the dice. Luckily for him, his wife was too excited to notice the attention he was receiving. In his own subconscious, he always felt that it was going to be difficult for her to trust him around beautiful women. But he was determined to not allow that certain piece of history repeat itself.

One hour and seven passes later, Deanna's kisses for good luck wore off and he crapped out.

"I thought you didn't like this game." Deanna's eyes widened as the croupier colored in all his chips for higher denominations.

"Well...I guess it must be my night." Will pocketed the chips and moved away from the table, holding Deanna close as they passed by his admirer.

"Do you think my luck will continue?" he whispered into her ear, gently parting the hair with his lips.

Deanna merely smiled and ushered him a little more quickly to the door.

Deanna slid Will's coat from his shoulders and tossed it to a corner. Running her nimble fingers down the dress shirt he wore, she quickly unsnapped the buttons and untucked the hinderence. She was sure she could never tire of this man's body. His muscular chest rose and fell with deep breaths followed by bouts of shivers as she ran her nails through the thick black hair covering him.

Will backed her to the bed and layed down across her. Pulling the dress' stretchable fabric down under her breasts, he nuzzled in and began to tease her  with long succulent fevered kisses. Deanna arched under him, pushing her breast further into his mouth. His soft touches were tortuous  and she wanted him to take her a little more roughly. His gentleness was more than wonderful most nights. But at this exact moment, she needed him everywhere at once.
Will became acutley aware of her desire and started to nip the hardened buds as his left hand trailed down her body to the juntion of her legs.

At first, he wasn't sure if it was the door alarm sounding, but after the third ring, he cursed silently.
"Go away!" he mummbled, not relinquishing the mouth full of soft breast he was consuming.

It rang a fourth time and Will took in a deep breath before he rose off of Deanna. "This had better be good!" he turned and waited for Deanna to cover herself back up before he opened the door.

"Can I help you?" Will said as his eyes focused on the very large man standing in front of him.

"Are you Riker?" the man asked and pushed Will back with a finger as he stepped inside.

"That depends." Will rubbed the indention in his chest from the man's thick digit and realized he was in big trouble if this guy wanted a fight. He stood least four inches higher than Riker and was about twice as big around.

The man spotted Deanna sitting on the bed and smiled. A sudden wave of nausea swirled in her gut as it became painfully obvious that he was not here to talk. She looked to her husband just before the giant clobbered him with a right jab into his chin launching Will airborn for a short distance.

Using a tremdous amount of strength, Will shook himself from the dizziness and struggled back to his feet only to see the man had Deanna backed into a corner. Hoping to give her a chance to escape, WIll lunged for the mammoth and clutched his throat, burrowing his fingers deep into the pliable flesh. "What do you want?"

The beasts face turned bright red and smiled just before he kneed Will in the thigh. With a yelp of pain, Will stummbled back. "You dead...for starters." He then turned and glared at Deanna who was inching her way towards the door. "And then maybe...a little fun afterwards."


Will yanked a blanket from the bed and flung it over the man's face, gathering it until it was tight at his throat. He then jumped on the flailing man's back as he struggled to keep the blanket tight, riding the beast like a cowboy would ride a bull.

The man managed to stumble down the short hall and out the door before finally tossing Will to the side, his body slamming hard to the deck. Using the computer in their room, Deanna called for security then ran outside herself to find Will laying prone, gasping for air. The giant bent down and easily picked Will up like a doll and took a few steps toward the railing.

"NO!" Deanna shrieked.

The man looked back to the counselor and gave her a nasty grin just before he tossed the lengthy body of WIll Riker overboard.


The few couples that were taking in the nighttime skies screamed as they watched the huge man throw a body over the rail. Alarms immediately sounded and the engines could be heard shutting down. Deanna ran to the edge and looked out. Unfortunately, the darkness of the ocean prevented her from seeing or hearing the dreadful splash. She cried out, "WILL!"

The security team arrived and after a brief fight, stunned the man and took him into custody. Deanna could only stare out into the blackness, petrified to reach out empathicly for fear of what she might discover. Then,  a search light from atop the bridge flashed in the choppy waters. Deanna stood motionless, feeling like her feet were encased in concrete. Everywhere the light searched, her eyes followed, pleading that it might find her husband...alive.


She passed the strange noise off for crew members preparing tolaunch a search.


It was louder this time and close-by she thought. She stepped on the lowest rail. Bending over to look straight down, she heard the noise again. Pushing away her fear, she opened her mind in her own frantic search for Will. She immediately sensed he was a live and with that, she cried out again, "WILL?"

She could tell from the whistles and yelling, there was a commotion on the lowest deck. Running as fast as she could, she raced down the stairs to the first deck and pushed her way through the crowd that had gathered. Looking up, there, knotted in the rigging of a life boat between the first and second decks, was Will's body. It seemed to dance freely with the wind and occasionaly hit the side of the ship creating the sickening 'thud' she had heard only moments before.

Deanna watched with horror as they lowered the boat to the first level and cut his body free of the thick ropes that had saved his life. He was unconscious, that much she was sure of. Besides rope burns on his chest and arms, his other injuries remained to be seen. She rushed to his side as soon as they brought him back onboard.

"Will?" she whispered. Tears of joy slid down her cheeks as his eyes fluttered open. "Don't move," she ordered. "The doctor will be here soon."

"My body hurts like hell," he attempted to lick his lips but found his mouth was parched.

Deanna moved aside as soon as the doctor arrived then followed them as they carried him on a stretcher to sick bay. Anxious minutes passed before she was told she could see him. Throwing back the privacy curtain, she held his hand to her chest. "How are you feeling?"

Will took a deep breath. "Better. Thanks."

Deanna waited for the nurse to leave before she leaned down and kissed his bruised cheek.

"Some honeymoon, hmm?" he tried to smile but it hurt too damn bad.

"Trouble seems to find you, no matter where you go, doesn't it?"

Will didn't have time to answer because the doctor made her way back in. "Doctor Lampley." The older woman extended her hand to Deanna who graciously took it. "A bruised kidney, a few lacerations, rope burns, disocated jaw, concussion and one deep muscle bruise to the thigh. Not bad for a night on the town." She gave Deanna a wink and turned back to Will. "The captain would like to ask a few questions about the you mind?"

Will shook his head then cringed when he spotted the hypospray she was holding nearing his neck. "For pain," Lampley explained then walked out.

Deanna moved to his side to hold his hand. "Did you know-" her question was interrupted by the captain enterring past the curtain.

"Captain Jackson O'Connor."

Will shook his hand. "Captain William Riker of the USS Titan. And my wife, Commander Deanna Troi-Riker."

"Starfleet, eh? That makes sense...Guess you guys develope a lot of enemies out there?"

"Out there, yes. But not here on earth. We were only here for a short period...for our wedding a few weeks ago. Other than that, it was four years since our last trip home. Do you even know who he is?"

"DarDar Equiz. A Somoan gang leader."

Will looked to Deanna. They both shook their heads. "Never heard of him."

"An old spurrned lover perhaps...would have hired him?"

Will gripped Deanna's hand tight. Almost too tight. "Listen, I know I've made a number of woman angry, as well as a number of boyfriends. But not to the point that they've wanted me dead."

Deanna stopped herself before she made a comment she probably would have regretted and freed her hand from his grip and let it rest on his chest. "Has he given any other information?"

"Other than the fact he said he was well paid , enough to keep his mouth shut no matter the, he hasn't said anything else." He turned to leave but stopped suddenly. "We have arranged another room for you, and have transferred all your belongings. I apologize, Captain for the interruption in your honeymoon."

"Thank you, Captain." Will scratched at his beard and looked at Deanna now that they were alone again. "How are you?"

"I'm fine. But..."

"But what?"

"Well, if he was paid so well, don't you think he would want to finish the job? I mean, Will...just who did you piss off so much that they would want you dead?"


"Deanna, I swear I have no idea." Will answered again as he slowly slid into the bed in their new suite. "You know, maybe its somebody from your past...and not mine." He began to get irritated at this conversation.

"What do you mean?" Deanna unzipped her dress and slipped in next to him, avoiding any type of skin to skin contact. This was not a good time to be thinking of sex, especially as sore as he was. She knew it took everything he had not to scream when she helped him remove his pants earlier.

It was probably the first time in months that she layed next to him and never once did the thought about making love to her cross his mind. Well at least for the first few minutes. The soreness was supposed to dissipate by morning, but until then he would have to suffer, in more ways than one. "I'm sure I didn't make any new friends when word got out that you and I were together again. For all I know, maybe it was that slime Ral...or Mr. bubble-boy Connor."

It was a good thing that it was pitch black in the room because the look Deanna gave him would have burned clear through his skull. "I don't think so." Now she was getting angry and Will knew it. He felt the bed shift when she turned to her side with her back towards him.

"I'm sorry," he whispered and extended his arm so that his hand rested on her hip. He was afraid to move anymore than that. "Maybe he was friends with that Dabo girl from the casino and-" He felt Deanna slowly shifting, probably to stare daggers into his head again, he thought. "he was mad-"

"Dabo girl?"

There was trouble ahead. The next few words came out with great hesitation. "Well, she kind of grabbed my rear a little too affectionately and-"

"A woman grabbed your butt?" he knew immediately that she just sat straight up. Better position for a strangulation, he decided.

"Nothing happened Deanna. I swear! I mean you were right there with me the whole time. I guess she liked the way I shot." The poor choice of wording led to Deanna removing herself from the bed.

"And you thought that it wasn't important to tell me that another woman was flirting, no...trying to seduce you?" From the sounds she was making, she had put a robe on and was pacing near the foot of the bed.

"Its not like I went to her table and threw her down on it!" God he wished he could move. He was defenseless should she try anything like...suffocating him with a pillow. "Deanna, love?" he could not hear her anymore. "Computer...lights."

He was blinded for a brief second as he adjusted to the brightness. When he saw she was in the bathroom, he groaned and sat up. Shuffling his feet to the door, he knocked lightly. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. I'm fine," came the curt reply.

"Please Deanna, come out here so we can talk."

The door slid open and Will wished the room was black again. She stood in the soft light of the bathroom looking terribly angry...and wonderfully sexy. The short robe she put on was in no way closed and her entire front side was revealed. The black lacy panties she wore was the only thing keeping his mind from exploding. She stretched her arms out against the door frame and narrowed her eyes in a most unkowingly seductive way. She was waiting for him to continue and when his words became caught in his throat, she closed the door again.

"Damn," he hissed. "Okay, fine. I hope the bathtub is as comfortable as the bed!" he yelled and stumbled back to a more painless position of laying on his back. "Lights off."

The room went black again, except this time there was a halo of light from the bathroom door. He closed his eyes and then heard the door open again. Painfully expecting to see her sillouhetted in a soft haze , he opened his eyes to darkness once again. "I'm sorry," he sheepishly said, not knowing if she was near or not. "I should have told you sooner."

Silence. An eerie silence if that. Then a soft rustle broke the anxiousness and she moved back into bed. "Umm, while we're on the subject and you're mad anyway..."

"What?" it came out as kind of a growl.

"Did you get to meet Lt. Takol yet? The security chief?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Well, you should know that her and I had a brief relationship while she was posted on the Enterprise."

"Relationship...or you screwed her?"

Will swallowed hard at Deanna's abnormal choice of words. It was going to be a long cold trip back to San Francisco, he decided. "Does it matter?"

That damn eerie silence returned, then, "No. I suppose not."

"It was a one time thing...two times at the most."

"You don't remember?" He knew exactly what the look on her face was. A combination of disgust and disbelief.

"It was at a weird time for me, Deanna. You were beginning to see Worf and I guess I needed a release-" he felt her head lay against his chest in a way that surprisingly didn't hurt. He wrapped an arm around her as much as he could. "Know I could never hurt you again." It wasn't a question but rather a statement that she knew was the truth.

"I'm sorry I got angry." she kissed his chest.

Will combed his fingers through her soft hair. "I really don't wanna tell you this other thing but..."

She sat up again. "But. What?"

"I gotta tell you, in spite of the pain it will look incredibly sexy when you're angry."

"Pain?" she growled, this time in a much more promising way. "You haven't felt anything yet."

Will took in a deep breath and held on for dear life.

Commander Hampton finished detailing his last report regarding the enhancements the USS Titan had just undergone and tossed the PADD to the floor with the countless others. As fellow crewmembers disembarked for their week long shore leave, he volunteered to stay behind and oversee the repairs. How stupid was that? He now questioned himself. Having grown up on Luna, he really didn't have a reason to venture down to the planet. He had no immediate family, no friends, not even old acquaintances from the academy he wished to see. In fact, a few weeks ago, all he had was the ship...and now that was gone too.

He stared blankly out the window to the colorful orb below. Looking back at the past year: the death of his captain...his mentor, his field promotion and then the dreadful news that another would be taking the full time position, he couldn't help but feel nauseous. His stomach churned at the mere thought of Captain Riker and quickly brought the fowl taste of bile up his throat. They had no right! His mind screamed.

He clenched his fists into knots as he paced. Thankfully the door alarm sounded before his roughly gwawed off nails had time to bring forth blood. "Come."

"Commander." Mora Takol entered his room wearing a dreadfully relaxed composure. "A few of us were headed to the Center before we began the start-up procedures. Would you like to join us for a drink?"

Hampton sighed heavily and headed for the door. "Sure. Why not."


In spite of the name, the Center was located at the extreme aft portion of the saucer section. Oringinally called simply as The Canteena, it became affectionately known as the Center as the majority of the crew's off duty time centered in that particular room. The restaurant/lounge was unusually empty this time of day, but that would certainly change as more crew reported back for duty.

A lone table of bridge officers sat nestled away in a corner of the room. Takol followed Hampton to the gathering and each sat in their customary chairs. It had become habit that this group got together, and after many nights of being among each other, it seemed as if they all had their favorite spots. Takol's faced the window while Hampton's liked his tucked furthest away in the darkened corner.

"So, 's he back yet?" Ensign Candy Pearson asked as she leisurely sucked a pale pink beverage through a straw. The pretty young woman served as ship's helm officer , but her question was more related to her self-appointed position as ship's social director. She had secretly been planning a welcome reception for the new Captain ever since she'd gotten word of his arrival. Secretly of course, because she knew Commander Hampton would be none too happy of the plan. Candy was a vivacious and social girl but hardly anything more- the senior officers usually included her in their circle purely for entertainment value.

"If you are asking about Captain Riker...then yes he is back," answered Tareel Langau, a Angosian recently transferred to the Titan as the Operations Officer. "He and his wife beamed aboard a short while ago."

Hampton shrunk farther into his chair as his nautiousness returned. He didn't need to hear that bit of news right now.

"You served with Riker, didn't you Mora?" Langau asked.

Mora waited for the bartender to leave with the new drink order before she answered. "Yes. I was there for five months before coming here."

"So whats he like?" Pearson  leaned forward as if she expected some bit of juicy gossip. "My sister said he was 'nice', but she never said much more than that," Candy added, the reference to her sister causing visible discomfort around the table. Takol considered for a moment just spilling everything to leaven the suddenly somber mood. But there was no way she was about to break her pact with her new captain..

"Intelligent," she thought, then added, "witty, charismatic...everything that you would want in a captain, I guess." She looked to Hampton almost as an apology. She didn't mean to hurt the poor man but deep down she knew he was not captain material.

Hampton didn't bother to look up to accept Takol's mercy. Instead he focused on his newly brought drink. "And I suppose he was quite the ladies man too?" he said a little too sarcasticly. He immediately felt the tension in the air and quickly tried to poke fun at his last comment. "I mean, that is a job requirement for us first officers, isn't it?"He looked Candy directly in the eye with that comment.

No one dared to speculate. There was a secret bet going amongst fellow crew members regarding their first officer's sex life...particularly how long it was going to be before he and Ensign Pearson stopped with the flirting and got it over with. So far, none had won.

"What about the counselor?" the Chief Engineer, Juan Inez spoke up for the first time.

"She was a huge asset to Picard. Very compassionate. She too was well-liked." Takol answered.

"My sister loved her," Candy added.

"From what I hear, she's a little on the hot side...if you know what I mean." Inez whispered to Langau and caught the glare Hampton was giving him.

"Careful there Chief. You know she's a Betazoid, don't you." Hampton warned.

Inez shrugged his muscular shoulders. "She can probe me...any time she wants, Sir." Pearson and Takol rolled their eyes simultaneously. "I mean, they're still newlyweds, she can't be too attached to him yet."

"Wanna bet?" Mora stared down his overactive male ego. "They were in love five years ago and just never admitted to it. They are as devoted to each other as I have ever seen. Not even you, Inez, could break those two apart."

Inez laughed. He had a reputation for chasing whatever crossed his path. Attached or not. But when it came to someone like Riker, whose reputation preceded him,  there was no way he would tempt fate. From reading the captain's prior record, Riker was definitely someone to be both revered and feared. He was sure that he wasn't the only one sitting at this table feeling very blessed to serve with this man.

"Mind if I join you?" A tall shadow crossed over the table.

Inez spun in his chair to see his new captain standing directly behind him. "No. Please take my seat." He then rose and retrieved a chair from a nearby table.

Pearson whispered to Takol, "When my sister said he was 'nice', I didn't know she meant that kind of nice?"

Takol's cheek flushed slightly and raised her eyebrows in answer.

"So is this where we have all of of senior staff meetings?" Riker flashed a grin to everyone seated.

Hampton stood up, "If you'll excuse me, I have some reports to finish."

Riker frowned as he watched his first officer leave the lounge and wondered if they would ever get along. He was about to make a comment regarding Hampton's attitude but stopped. He couldn't let on to the other officers that he was already questioning the ability of that man. Riker looked across the table at the auburn-haired girl obliviously sipping away at her drink as a confused glimmer of recognition crossed his face. His thought process was interrupted, though, by the voice of the crewman to his left.

"Did you have a nice vacation, Sir?" Langau asked.

Riker grinned again. "Yes. Despite the last couple of days...we had a wonderful time. Oceania was everything I hoped it to be."

"So did you get off the boat much?" asked Mora.

"Once." Riker smiled.

"A little too busy... for sight seeing, Sir?" Inez spoke and took an immediate slap on the shoulder from Pearson. "Ouch!"

Will laughed. "You might say that." He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and turned to see Troi's dark eyes sparkling in the refelcted light from the space station. "Have you all had a chance to meet our new counselor?"

The men at the table stood immediately and introduced themselves while shaking her hand. Takol and Pearson followed. Remembering that they were no longer on their honeymoon, Deanna faught the urge to bend down and kiss her husband. Sensing her quandary, Will smiled up at his wife and winked. This was going to be much harder than either of them thought, he realized. He watched as she gracefully took Hampton's vacated spot and laced her fingers atop the table, grinning.

~I think I like this group already~ she sent to him.

~I couldn't agree more~


Hours later, Captain Riker finished all the last minute systems checks and ordered the departure from Starbase McKinley. Taking a long glance around the bridge he noted that everyone was where they were supposed to be and settled his sights on the counselor to his left.  A proud broad grin appeared on his face as he activated the ship wide 'all page'.

"This is Captain Riker speaking...though I have not met each and everyone of you, I just want you to realize how important I believe you all to be. Not one position is more important than another. I need each of you to fulfill you duties as you have been trained...and I will fulfill mine. We have a long voyage ahead of us, ladies and gentlemen...sit back and enjoy the ride."

Riker stood and walked to the center of the bridge. "Ensign, lay in a course for the Lomar Sector. Our first mission awaits us there." He turned and saw Deanna smiling proudly at him then ordered,