Title: 'Sins of the Father' ch.1
Author: IzzY
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Paramount gets $$, but I have the fun

"If there are no more questions," Picard glanced around the oval table, "I'll let Commander Gaylord fill us in with the information he as attained."

"Thank you Captain." The slender man rose from his seat at the opposite end of the table from where Picard sat, gently tugging at the sleeves of his uniform jacket as he walked to front of the observation lounge. Bringing up a map of Sector 113 on the large screen, the young man began, "These are the last known coordinates of my father's shuttle craft. My father was due to land on Voleria at 1900 hours, but he never arrived, or at least not that Starfleet is aware of."

Captain Picard cut in, "Do I understand correctly Commander, that Admiral Gaylord was to be picking up anti-rebel leaders and taking them to a safe-house on Altare III?"

"Yes, sir, that is correct."

"With all due respect sir," Commander Riker stroked his beard, "but what was a Starfleet Admiral doing transporting anti-rebels?"

"Good question Will. But I'm afraid I can not answer that at this time." Travis Gaylord watched his old friend narrow his eyes in confusion. "There are certain aspects of this mission that I am unable to comment on right now. I hope you understand."

Will nodded politely. He never liked a mission that involved Starfleet Intelligence. There were always too many secrets and damn too many unanswered questions. And what was most frustrating about this mission was the fact that his one-time good friend was the one who was hiding the information. Commander Gaylord and him had been dorm mates the first few years at the Academy, and as their interests in Starfleet careers began to differ, they drifted apart. The last that they had spoke was just before Riker was stationed on Betazed.

"An away team consisting of myself, Commander Riker, and Commander Troi," Commander Gaylord said as he noticed Will's concerned face look toward the counselor, "will beam down to Voleria and begin a search. Even though the planet is a member of the Federation, we have very good reason to believe that they will be unwilling to help. The crime and violence of the larger cities has handicapped the government- they no longer have the resources to aid in a search and rescue operation. Anti-Federation movements will make it necessary for us to assimilate into their culture."

Data broke in. "The Volerians have been fighting the anti-Federation movement for many years. It has been widely publicized that even some of their top officials have joined the growing faction."

Travis nodded, "that is why we can not trust anyone." He let out a sigh. "We won't know who our friends or enemies are. Commander Troi will be very helpful in that respect."

Riker caught the look Travis gave Troi, somehow knowing that what was being conveyed between the two, was more than just simple admiration. During the past two weeks, he had been seeing less and less of Deanna. Her off time now consisted of dinner with his 'friend', rather than with himself. Certainly, he couldn't fault Travis for wanting to date the beautiful Betazoid, but an explanation from Troi would have been nice. Then again, why should she have to explain herself to 'him'? She owed him nothing.

Despite the fact that their intimate relationship ended years ago, their friendship had been able to flourish. The dinners and late night chats that would end with one of them falling asleep on the other's couch were now but a memory. There were nights when Will had thought about stretching that friendship, desiring to go back to being lovers. But for some reason, he could never muster the courage to act on his feelings. And now that she had found someone else,

He stole a glance at the counselor, making him wince as his heart rate increased. After all this time, she still had the ability to make him want to jump out of his skin. The same feeling he had since the first day he laid eyes on her.

"Details of the away team plans will be finalized this evening before we depart. That is all for now."
Travis took his seat back at the table.

Picard folded his hands and placed them on the table. "This mission will also be valuable in attaining information regarding the rebellion. Starfleet would like a list of names of any leaders you find that are a part of the dissension.
There still might be a chance that we will be able to quell the uprising." He looked around the table at the faces of his comrades, giving them a look of confidence. "Dismissed."

"Leave it to Starfleet," Riker noted as he stood to leave, "to always have another agenda. It can never be simple, can it?"

"No, I'm afraid Number One it can never be simple."

Picard put a hand on his friend's shoulder, feeling the muscles tense. He followed Riker's eyes to the doorway but was too late to witness the protective arm that Travis had placed around Deanna's waist as they left. "Is there a problem, Will?"

"No." He said softly. "No problem sir."

Picard watched the taller man leave, knowing that he had just been lied to.

Will Riker sat in Ten-Forward sipping synthenol when he felt her approach his table.

Her voice chimed before him, "May I join you?"

He looked up to see the concerned face of Deanna Troi staring at him. "Please." He rose slightly as she took the seat nearest to him.

Tense seconds went by before Will began, "You do realize the danger you will be in during this mission, don't you?" Not waiting for her to answer he continued, "I have read stories about the violence that is occurring in the cities. Its almost as if they have reverted back three centuries. Attacks, robberies, murders...gang rapes." He looked at her, "I
want you to be extra careful-"

"Will, don't worry about me. Travis has assured me-"

"Don't do that." He looked away shaking his head.

"Don't do what?"

"Don't," he snorted, looking back into her eyes, "don't talk to me about Travis right now. I don't want to know anymore about you two than I already do." He sipped his drink. "I need to focus on this mission, not have my mind wishing bad things for the two of you." He stood to leave, "he's a good man Deanna, I'm sure you will be happy."

Deanna watched him leave the lounge, feeling a little stunned. She knew she should have talked to him sooner regarding her relationship with Travis, but the opportunity never came up. Or maybe it was because she felt she no longer felt obligated to ask his permission to date. Hell, it wasn't as if he asked 'her' for consent for every time he wanted to sleep with someone else.

But then again, Travis was his friend, maybe Will did deserve to know this time. She felt the blood drain from her face as guilt washed over her.

Why would he say 'not want to wish bad things for the two of you'? He had been blocking from her his emotions for days now, so she could not tell if he was jealous. But there was no other explanation as to why he would say that.
She knew she had hurt him when she slept with Tom, so maybe this was bringing up bad feelings again. There was no intention of offending him when Travis approached her two weeks ago, soon after he came on board. It just happened, and she was happy. For the first time in a long while, she was happy.

Still, the thought of a jealous Will Riker made her...
made her what? Satisfied and excited, maybe. Satisfied and excited because she felt a little justice...or satisfied and excited because she knew he still had feelings for her.

Deciding that it was probably the latter reason, she realized her relationship with Travis just became a bigger problem than she had anticipated.

The away team was assembled in the transporter room listening to the last minute instructions from Picard. Having now dressed in the civilian clothes appropriate to the Volerian customs, they seemed out of place on a starship.
The similarities between Earth and Voleria were remarkable. Settled by humans two centuries ago, the planet maintained with the same type of society that its inhabitants had lived with on Earth.

Travis Gaylord was dressed as a businessman, attire that would hopefully give him a chance to interact with the elite members of the community and gather potential leads to political figures. Deanna had opted to act as Travis' wife.
Too convienent, Will thought. She would help him in discerning the good guys from the bad.

Will let his gaze linger on Deanna a bit longer than he should have. She caught his stare. Their eyes locked for only a brief second before Riker looked away.
Deanna sensed Will's approval of her outfit before he brought his emotional block back down. She was wearing loose fitting black dress pants and a billowy
red shirt. Not an overly provocative outfit by any means, but she felt it presented an elegant look while leaving her comfortable.

It was Deanna's turn to gaze, her eyes slowly trailing down Riker's tall frame. He was wearing a tight fitting black t-shirt, loose jeans and black leather boots. The jacket Will carried, black and leather, completed his look. He was to fit in with the working class society and underground rebels. She refocused her attention quickly as Travis spoke.

"We will meet back up with Will in two days, giving us all a chance to settle in to our environment and gather information from the Volerians. At that point, we will begin our communication with the Enterprise. But until then, Deanna and I will have no communication with Will, or the ship."

Picard shook his head, "I wish I could allow more crew members to accompany you. I just can't afford to leave the Enterprise vulnerable this close to the Neutral Zone."

"I understand Captain, thank you for the two you have given me. They are worthy of every bit of praise you gave." His gaze turned only to Deanna. "Energize."

They materialized outside the capitol city of Gazra, in a small wooded lot. The lights from the city gave off just enough illumination for them to be able to see their surroundings. Gazra archetecture closely resembled the buildings of Earth's twentieth century, Will thought. Concrete and bricks were they predominate building makeup, allowing for a cold and well defined look.

Walking in silence for a short time down a paved walkway, Travis finally spoke. "Will, I'm afraid I gave you the more dangerous assignment. I hope you understand that its because you are better qualified than myself, and I know you will be successful."

"And here I thought that it was only because you wanted to be the one married to Deanna." Will tried to make it sound like a joke but Deanna didn't buy it.

Travis smiled. "The beard. Why did you grow it? It makes you look...older," he chided.

"I was told some women find it... exciting." He said smiling.

Deanna frowned as she did not like where this conversation was headed.

"Riker, that surprises me. Because if I remember correctly, you 'never' needed anything to help you make women excited." He slapped his friend in the arm.

"That was the old days Travis. Now, it seems like I need all the help I can get," he said, hoping Deanna would infer his meaning.

"The city looks peaceful from here," Deanna spoke quickly, trying to change the subject. It didn't work.

"Deanna, would you believe that Mister Modesty over here," Travis said, pointing a finger at Riker, "never let a night go by without at least one woman in our dorm room. There were nights that I had to find a bunk elsewhere because he wouldn't let me in. The last I had heard from you, Riker, you were temporarily stationed on Betazed."

Deanna acted like she tripped, holding on to the arms of both men. They stopped to make sure she was okay, but then Travis continued, "Did you ever meet Deanna while you were there?"

Riker looked at Travis then Deanna. Even though it was slightly dark from the shadows of the buildings, she saw the hurt in Will's eyes as he realized that she had never mentioned their relationship to her current lover.

"We met at a wedding. But I was transferred shortly after that," he would let Deanna fill in the blanks if she chose to.

"I find it hard to believe you let someone like this, go by." Travis said as he grasped Deanna's hand and kissed it.

"Yeah, I guess my transfer came too quick," now he was the one wanting to change the subject. "Not much further now." He pointed to the street that looked to be leading into the heart of the city.

Travis held his hand out for Will. "Good luck, Will. I hope you stay out of harm's way."

"Thank you. Same to you, see you in a couple of days,"
he locked eyes again with Deanna before he scampered down a hill toward the street.

Starfleet had provided a credit chip to each of the away team members to be used for housing, food, clothing, and other monetary expense.
Riker decided he would stay at a nearby hotel during his time in the city. He chose to consider himself a bit of a hard-nosed tough guy-renegade in search of a job. Will hoped word would get out that he would do anything for the right price.
The first place he visited was a bar in the downtown area. He walked in and immediately realized that this was a good starting point, the bar was filled with patron's who looked like the cultural class Travis wanted him to find.
The loud music shook the bottles of beer on the bar as the counters vibrated to the base. Riker found an empty spot at the counter and leaned against it, waiting for the bartender to notice him.

A large, rough looking man approached Will, pushing him with his shoulder, away from the bar. Taking offense to the action, Will nudged his way back in, much to the chagrin of the larger man.

"Excuse me." Will said.

The man turned and pushed Will back again, this time with enough force to knock him off balance and send him into a nearby table. Will straightened himself up, apologized to the couple for spilling their drinks, and was quickly back at the bar.

Without looking at nobody in particular, the man said, "Looks like pretty boy here wants to play."

"If you care to step outside, I can show you how I like to play." If he was wanting to act his part of a renegade, it was going to have to begin at some point. Now was just as good as time as any.

The man grinned evily, "Right here, right now...pretty boy."

Will felt all eyes on him now. Patrons scurried away from the bar, waiting eagerly for the first blow to begin the fight. Will sized up his competition, and guessed that it would take him four, maybe five hits to knock the man out, providing he was as drunk as he thought.
The large man threw a fist toward Will's jaw that missed terribly. Quickly bringing a hand up, Will hit the man under the chin, knocking his head back with tremendous force. He landed an elbow to the back of the man's neck, sending him harshly to the floor.

Two hits. He frowned at his bad estimate of an attacker. He turned to stand at the bar once again, as if nothing had happened, but was then whirled around by a hand that had grabbed his upper arm.

He found himself surrounded by four men, while another two were helping the first man out of the way. "Look, if you guys want to fight, may I suggest we go outside. I would hate to see the bar demolished by your bodies being thrown around." Will said, feeling that he stood a better chance of winning if he had more room to work in.

The largest of the four men stepped forward, cracking his knuckles, bringing attention to the brass that was woven around his fist. "You see, I own the bar and I don't care what happens. I'm tired of your type coming in here, thinking you own the joint."

'My type', Will realized that he attained his role quick enough. Now he would have to prove it again.

The man's companions went to grab Will's arms but found themselves in a lot of pain in a short amount of time. He used every move he had been taught, sending merciless blows in every direction. The owner soon was the only one who remained standing, only because he had stepped back. Taking the brass off his knuckles, he put his hands up to surrender. "I think we need to talk."

Will straightened his clothing and followed the man to an office in the back.

"You fight well. Military?" the owner asked.

"No, self-taught."

The man offered his hand, "Goallin Merced."

"Will Riker." he shook Goallin's large hand.

"I can use you, if you are looking for a little extra money on the side."


"Come see me at this address around midnight tonight, and you will find out," he handed him a note with an address scratched at the top.

Will gave the man a nod before walking away. "I'll be there," he said as he placed the card in his pocket.


Sweat beaded across the man's forehead as a cold knife blade pressed into his neck. His hands trembled together as they were bound tightly behind his back, making for uneven balance as he knelt on the cold concrete floor.

"You will either tell us what you did with our shipment, or I cut you slowly from ear to ear." the man holding the knife said.

The prisoner licked his quivering lips, "I...I told you, it will be delivered tomorrow." He said as he felt the blade's point now digging into his skin, causing a trickle of blood to run down his neck.

"Not good enough," said another man calmly. "I don't think that's gonna be what the boss wants to hear when he gets here."

"That has to be good enough because it's the truth!" The captive man sputtered.

"The armaments were to be here today!" The calm voice suddenly exploded with anger, and the man jerked his head towards the door. "You fucking moron, you knew the consequences!"

Two men entered the room, the first walked toward the the captive, while the other sank into the shadows of the corner.

"Any new information?" The newest voice grew louder as he approached the prisoner.

"Same old shit sir. He claims the shipment will be here tomorrow."

"Merced...please. Give me until tomorrow." The kneeling man cried, tears burning his reddened cheeks.

Goallin Merced shook his head, "You have failed us for the last time. I'm done with your services. Michael...dispose of our handicap."

Riker jumped back as he saw the knife bury deep into Admiral Gaylord's throat, causing blood to splatter against the wall with tremendous force. Will watched in horror as the man slumped to the floor in a pool of his own juices, his mind racing trying to analyze what he had just heard and witnessed.

"What the hell? You just killed a Starfleet Admiral!"
Riker stood in disbelief.

"An Admiral in title only. He had no allegience to anybody but himself. And well...you see what that got him." Merced snarled.

Riker swallowed hard, finding it difficult to believe that Travis Gaylord's father was betraying Starfleet for his own gain.

"That didn't bother you, did it?" Merced asked.

"A little." Riker admitted. "Its not like you see a man nearly decapitated everyday." Will ran a hand over his beard. "What did he do, again?"

Merced's dark eyes of mission looked deep into Will's eyes of curiosity. "Selfishness will get you nowhere in this world.
And betrayal, well, that's as good as a death sentence.
And running to the authorities..." Merced laughed, "I'll leave that one to your imagination."

Riker understood what Merced was getting at. "So why do you want me?"

"Because I can tell... that you know how to get things done. I can use your type. You're calm when there's danger, a quick thinker, and you know how to fight. I think you will fit in just fine, that is, if you are interested?"

Riker gave him a smug grin, "Will it be worth my effort?"

Merced laughed again, "Oh I don't think you'll be disappointed. And the fringe benefits, well, you can decide for yourself. Come with me. I want you to meet the boss. He's young, about your age...you two should get along."

Riker followed Merced, Michael, and the other man that still remained nameless to him, down a hall and into another larger room. He hadn't been in the room for a few seconds before his eyes watered with irritation from the haze of smoke that hung in the air like dense fog.
Feeling an immediate buzz from the intoxicating fumes of the burning drugs, he relaxed considerably.

Will looked around the room and estimated about fifty men, all surrounded by scantily clad women, some of which actively performing lewd sex acts in the open.
Riker had been in many situations on different planets where sex was as unadulterated as talking, but had never experienced anything quite this crude.

"Whatever you like, is yours," Merced said proudly. "I'll introduce you to the boss later- let him have some fun first. He just got back to the planet." He smiled as two prostitutes whisked him away.

"Thanks," Riker said mildly, with no intention of taking part in the entertainment. He backed off to a corner, and began to take note of all the faces. He hoped to have them memorized for future reference.

Glancing at a couch at the opposite side from where he stood, Riker's jaw dropped. Sitting, with his head thrown against the back of the sofa as a women knelt between his bare legs, was Travis Gaylord. Will began to walk toward the man but decided he had better wait until the act was completed.

A few minutes passed, along with the rejection of three advancing women, Will looked to see if Travis was finished. Noticing he was buttoning his pants, he made his way over.

"Where's Deanna?" Will asked angrily.

"Oh God! Will, you scared the shit out of me. What the hell are you doing here?" Travis brushed a lock of his black hair from his face.

"A lot less, than you." Will sneered. "Where is Deanna?"

"Sh...she's back at the Rialto. How did you get in here?" Travis asked nervously.

"I have made some connections." Will said, trying figure out a way he was going to tell Travis that his father lay down the hall with his throat slashed. "And you?"

"Same. I met some men this afternoon, and they brought me here." He said sheepishly.

"We need to talk." Will looked around, trying to find a better place where they could discuss their findings.
Travis nodded, and motioned to a small table somewhat hidden by a support post.
They sat down.
"Your father is dead." Will announced.

"What?" Travis asked as if he didn't hear correctly.

Riker told him the entire story, including the discussion about the armament shipment. He watched his friend closely as he took in all the information. But in the end, it was Will who looked confused.

"Why do I get the idea that you aren't too surprised to hear this?" Riker questioned.

"Because...I guess I'm not. I had an idea that he was into something over his head," Travis said, shaking his head.

"Over his head? Shit Travis, he was dealing weapons to an anti-Federation party! I think to say 'he was over his head' is a bit conservative." Riker sat back in sheer disgust. "There is more going on, more people involved, but I haven't been able to get anymore information yet."

There was a brief pause, but then Riker eyed his friend detestingly, "Just couldn't help yourself, could you?"

"Oh please. Since when have you become the symbol of virtue...Thunderballs? I've never known YOU to pass up anything vaguely resembling a woman. Especially when you know," Travis leaned forward to emphasize his next point, "that you will never be found out."

"Deanna doesn't deserve this," Riker said as he raised his tall body above his friend.

Travis smiled and rose to face him, not backing off at all. "I had a feeling there was more to the 'two' of you than what you gave off," he crossed his arms against his chest, speaking arrogantly, "Tell me Riker, was she as good of a lay for you, as she is for me? Because I find her quite...invigorating."

Before Will could stop himself, he swung hard and landed his fist against Travis' jaw, knocking him backwards to the floor.

"She's out of your league, my friend." Will said walking away, feeling all eyes on him.
Not wanting to leave without knowing how they could find him, he told Michael where he was staying, then nodded toward Merced as as left.

Travis reached up and grabbed the hand that was being offered to help him up.
"What was that all about?" Merced asked, pulling Travis forward.

Not answering the question, Travis said, "I'm surprised you found him so quickly."

"He found me. So, you must know who he is then?" Merced gave him an inquisitive look.

"Yeah, and he's trouble. I suggest we keep a close eye on him until the time comes to put him to use." Travis said, brushing himself off. "Then if all goes well, our 'problem' will have taken care of itself, and our hands will be blood free. But if it doesn't work," he slapped Goallin's back, "I'll let you take care of it."

Merced looked a little disappointed, "Whatever you say, boss."

Will left the building and began the long walk back to his hotel. The coolness of the early morning hours and the quiet on the streets was refreshing to his body. The muscles in his shoulders slowly began relaxing, making him wish he had someone...no...Deanna, waiting to massage the remaining tightness away.
Reviewing the events of the past evening, he found his mind returning to thoughts of his one-time lover. Images of Deanna sleeping peacefully with her hair spilled out across her pillow, the slow rhythmic breaths, her nakedness under the sheets...Travis crawling into bed with her.

Shit! His shoulders tensed back up again.

Will decided that it was more than coincidence Travis and him met the same group of people so easily. Plus the fact that Travis wasn't at all bothered by the murder of his father, didn't sit well with the Commander.
Hardly a day went by at the Academy where Travis didn't say something positive regarding his father. Whether it was negotiating a simple peace treaty or commanding a battle against the Romulan's, Will found it difficult at times to listen to all the accolaids the younger Gaylord had to offer. Of course, all this came at a a time when Will was not speaking to his own estranged father. So naturally, his friend's parental relationship stood out in his memories.

Riker turned sharply, feeling as if someone was following him. Peering into the darkness, he saw a shadow duck into a doorway of a store.
Instinct told him that this was not a good time to investigate so he resumed walking-only now, he moved quickly using his long legs to his advantage.

Every so often, he would stop and look back only to find his imagination getting the best of him.
His mind drifted back to what Merced had said about the boss being about his own age. He tried to remember all the faces from the room, but to his recollection, there was nobody who came close to being young except...Travis.

He first felt the adrenaline building in his legs. Without hesitation, he ran to where he thought he remembered seeing signs for the Rialto Hotel.
Rounding the last corner before the hotel, he stopped to catch his breath, taking one last nervous look back for any followers.

Slightly winded but none the worse for wear, he entered the hotel lobby, trying to figure out how he would get Deanna's room number. Deciding that he was going to disobey direct orders for no communication, he stepped into the men's restroom and called her.

<Riker to Troi>
A few more seconds went by.
<Riker to Troi>
Still no answer. Frustrated, he walked out and flopped onto one of the large over-stuffed chairs near the front desk. Feeling like he was being stared at, he turned quickly and noticed a pretty young woman behind the desk eyeing him.

"Hello." he said smoothly.

"Can I help you?" She young woman asked, now looking a bit apprehensive as she brushed a strand of long brown hair from her face.

"I hope so." He got up, walked to the desk. Resting his chin in his hand, Will proceeded to shmooz the young girl into giving him what he wanted; Deanna and Travis were staying in a room on the eleventh floor. Leaning over the counter, he gave her a kiss on the cheek as a thank you, then hurried away to the elevators.
Riker Charm...works every time, he thought proudly.

The elevator stopped at the designated eleventh floor. Glancing at the room numbers as he rushed down the corridor, he stopped at number 1121. Will let out a long breath as he knocked, praying that Deanna was indeed inside. It took only a few seconds to get the answer he was hoping for, a sleepy Deanna Troi peered out through the security hole, then opened the door completely. "Will, what are you doing here?"

Trying not let his gaze wander down her small frame that was barely covered by a sheer nightgown, Will ushered himself past her to sit on the couch.

Taking a few seconds to adjust her eyes to the dim light of the living room, she pulled a robe on and sat next to him. "What's wrong?" She had sensed his fear immediately.

Running his hands through his hair, Will started telling her the entire story, reluctantly leaving out the part about Travis' liaison. After he was finished, Deanna could only shake her head. "Will, I have felt no malevolence or lying from Travis. Are you sure about this?"

Letting out a deep breath, "No." He tiredly held his head in his hands. "Tell me, was he introduced to anyone today that would have invited him to that 'meeting'?"

"No. We were together the whole day setting up our alias. He informed me that he was going to listen to a town meeting this evening, and that he would be back late. He asked if I wanted to go, or stay and get some sleep. As you can see, I opted for the sleep."

Will stood and began to pace the small room. "Nothing makes sense."

She didn't need her empathic ability to tell he was agitated. "Deanna, I'm afraid to leave you here, not knowing for sure if Travis is a part of all this, or not."
God he wanted to tell her everything about Travis, but something in the back of his mind warned him that he shouldn't be the one to bring such devastating news.

"Will, I'll be fine. If I need you, I'll-"

"Your communicator! I tried to call you earlier and didn't get a response. Let me try again," his eyes grew wild as he pulled his from his pocket.
He waited for her to retrieve the small medalion from her shirt that hung on a nearby hook before he tapped his.
<Riker to Troi>

Deanna looked confused, shaking her badge as if that would make it work. Will raised an inquisitive eyebrow before trying again
<Riker to Enterprise>


"Okay, so they don't work. It could very easily be interference from the atmospheric storm," Deanna said defensively.

"Or it could be that they were tampered with before we left the ship," Will counter-attacked.

"Will," she stood and put her arm around his waist, directing him to the door, "until I get more evidence, I have to believe that Travis is not involved."

"Deanna Troi... always the optimist." He shook his head and turned within her arm feeling her breasts against his torso, a faint chuckle escaping his mouth. "I forgot how short you are, I mean, in your bare feet."

She looked down and laughed at herself. Raising her eyes to meet his, she felt something she had been searching for, for so many years. His compassion and love had always been evident during their time on board the Enterprise, but this...this was something entirely different. His deep blue eyes shared an emotion that she assumed was gone forever. His need...his desire for her was very strong, overpowering anything else she had been feeling up until then.

He felt Deanna drop her arm as she moved away from him, almost as if she was afraid of what she had sensed. Caught by the moment, he slowly pulled her back to him as he bent down to kiss her, watching her eyes flutter closed as he neared her parted lips. He was but a mere breath's distance away from her when they jumped at the sound of an electronic key opening the door.
Will instinctivly leaped into the nearby closet and quickly closed the door quickly, hoping Deanna would understand why he did not want Travis knowing he had been talking to her.

Travis looked startled when he saw Deanna standing in the hall. "Hi, beautiful. You're up late, couldn't sleep without me, huh?"

Not knowing what to do, she gave him a big hug and pulled him away from the closet. She could smell alcohol on his breath as he placed sloppy kisses on her neck. Fighting his hands away as he tried to slip her nightgown off, Deanna stepped back "Your drunk."

"Don't worry darling, I won't disappoint you. I perform better this way," Travis pulled her to him then pushed her down to the bed.

Seeing the bruise on his jaw for the first time, she placed her hand against it, making him wince and pull away. "You got into a fight also!"

"Some jerk got mad for no reason, hauled off and belted me. I would have fought back but he was too big," Travis' words were beginning to slur.

Deanna sat up, looking at the man she'd thought she was falling in love with. He had just lied to her. Not only did he not explain that he knew his father was killed and did not tell her himself, but he flat-out lied to her!

"Come back here Dee, I'm feeling like I'm up for the best sex of my life," he rolled on the bed trying to grab her.

She stood suddenly, just out of arm's distance from him when he passed out completely, face down into the mattress.

Will remained silent in the closet, clenching his fist at every pass he could hear Travis make. Knowing he would be unable to tolerate hearing them have sex, he prayed that Deanna would have mercy on him and find a way out of it. His face was red with anger when Deanna opened the door.

"Sshh. He passed out," she whispered.

"Are you okay?" Will asked as he emerged from the hiding place.

She nodded and pulled him into the bathroom. "I'll be fine till morning. He'll be asleep for awhile."

He spoke softly, "Please, come with me. You can leave a note-"

"No. If we're to find out what is going on, I need to be loyal to him for a little longer at least. You need to leave. I'll leave a note at the front desk as to our plans for tomorrow. Okay?" She studied his face, trying to project her confidence in herself, there was too much at stake for him to be worrying about her.

He reluctantly nodded. "I'll come up with a reason to meet you tomorrow." The famous Riker grin slid across his face causing the corners of his sparkling eyes to crinkle. "Be safe." He placed his hand on her bare shoulder, gently rubbing his thumb across her clavicle before turning to leave.

Watching Will close the door on his way out, Deanna's heart was beating so hard she thought it could have jumped from her chest. She walked back to the bedroom, making sure Travis was still out cold. "Well Will Riker...I guess it's better late than never." She whispered to herself as she gathered up a blanket from the bed. She laid down on the couch, knowing however, that sleep would not come to her the remainder of the night.

Deanna had left word at the front desk that she and Travis were headed for another political function in the afternoon so Will waited outside the hotel for them to appear. His eyes were heavy from the late night and lack of sleep, as well as from the worry he felt for Deanna. Despite her small size, he knew she was a strong woman, and could take care of herself well. Worf's classes had taught her much in the way of defense.
He remembered the evenings she would spend practicing moves on himself, relishing every oppurtunity to be close to her, even if it meant being thrown backwards or tossed down.
Yet, he still gritted his teeth at the thought of leaving her last night with Travis.

Leaning back against the bench, he tried for the thousandth time to figure out what was going on. He hoped he was wrong about his friend, but his instincts told him otherwise.
The doors to the hotel opened once again, revealing a giggling couple holding hands. Riker grimmiced at the sight. Either Deanna was a wonderful actress or she played him for a fool last night, he thought.
Hoping it wasn't the latter, he ran to get ahead of them, knowing he would find out the truth soon enough.

Crossing a few streets, he made an about-face, and walked nonchalantly around the corner to face them head on. Deanna saw Will first. Breathing a small sigh of relief, she supressed the smile that threatened to give away her feelings. The black leather jacket looked absolutely stunning on his large body, she thought.

She knew the exact second Travis saw him too because he unknowingly tensed up and squeezed her hand hard.

"Will, what are you doing here? We weren't supposed to meet until tomorrow," Travis stammered.

"Funny, you didn't remind me of that last night," Will waited for a reply that was slow to come.

Travis' eyes moved from Deanna back to Will. "Yeah, well...I guess I forgot too."

"Yes, I guess you were too busy, to think about other things at the time." Will wanted desperately for Deanna to ask innocently what they were talking about, but she remained silent.

Travis cleared his throat. "I'm glad you found us because I have some more information. There's to be a rally tonight of anti-Federation demonstrators, right over there in the park," He pointed to an area across the street. "I think we should attend, you know, to get more names and faces."

Riker nodded, "There was a message for me at the hotel this morning, regarding the same thing. Goallin Merced has asked me to help with security for it. I told him I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Good. Deanna and I were just headed to make funeral arrangements for my father, but if you don't mind darling, I would be willing to spare you of the unpleasant chore. That is, if Will would be as so kind as to entertain you for a while?" He glared at Riker, hoping he would know to not say a word about his inappropriate behavior. "Oh, and I will notify Starfleet of my father when we contact the Enterprise tomorrow."

Will smiled and nodded as he thought 'Yeah, sure you will' but spoke, "I would be happy to take the young lady out for lunch, if she would like."

"If you're sure you don't need me to be with you?" Deanna tried to sound concerned.

"I don't think it is necessary, but thank you for your offer." He kissed her lightly on the lips. "I'll catch up before the rally... promise." He kissed her again, only this time it was longer and more passionate and for no other reason than to make Will squirm.

Will watched Travis walk down the street, then spoke, "So...he finally told you about his father?"

"Yes. He told me everything you had said earlier, except that the police had found the body last night in a dumpster. But why did you say he was 'too busy' to remind you of our rendezvous?"

"He can tell you if he choses to. I'd rather stay away from that, if you don't mind."

"Yes I do mind. Will I knew last night you were hiding something from me, and I know that you are again. Now tell me! I'm tired of getting everything second hand! Now damn it, I'm just as much a part of this mission as you are-"

"Deanna, it is not my place to say, okay? Trust me with this, please?" He held her shoulders for a moment, searching her dark eyes for what she may be feeling.

She did not speak, only nodded her head. She would trust him, she had to trust him, there was no other choice. Feeling Will remove his hands from her, she turned and walked away. It took only two steps for him to catch up.

"So, did you enjoy it?" Will asked, sounding slightly amused.

"Enjoy what?" Deanna knew what he was getting at, but chose to play along.

"The little show of affection back there, from our friend. Did you you enjoy making me want to wretch?"

"Why Will Riker, I would never have guessed that a little kiss like that would make you jealous," she said playfully, having stopped walking.

Will watched her face turn deadly serious.

"If I would have known that 'that' was all it took to get you to look at me again, I would have kissed a Ferengi, a million times over." She spoke softly, meeting his gaze.

Biting his bottom lip, he walked up to her. "I didn't say I was jealous, I just thought that kissing him was a bit...yucky. Thats all."

If it wasn't for the twinkle in his eyes, she would have slapped him, but instead, wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him to her. Will thought for sure, she would be able to feel his heart hammering in his chest.

Licking her lips with one slow tantilizing movement, she stood on her toes to gain better access to whisper in his ear, "In that case, yes, I did enjoy it," she said slowly, purposely brushing her moist lips against his cheek as she backed away and began walking again.

Will stood there for a moment, confused and very unsatisfied.

It took him a few seconds to compose himself before rushing to catch up again. "Well then, perhaps I can arrange for Daimon Tog to wait for us back at your hotel and..."

She laughed, "Let's eat, Commander, I'm starved."

He watched her enter a small restaurant before whispering to himself, "Oh, how I love a challenge."

The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing the possibilities of what was happening. Deanna mentioned that other than nervousness and a bit of apprehension, she had felt nothing else from Travis until last night. She explained that she felt the same thing from him that she did from Will; that he was holding back something. Will still refused to comment on that, which made Deanna furious again.
Fotunately for Will, he made amends by buying her a chocolate eclaire from a bakery on the way back to the hotel.

Will was holding the hotel door open for Deanna when a man approached from the street yelling, "Mr. Riker...Mr.Riker!"
Not recognizing the older gentleman, Will carefully stepped infront of Deanna shielding her from any possible harm. "Who wants to know?" Will's eyes were fixed on a small parcel the man carried under one arm.

"Mr. Merced asked me to give this to you, before the rally. He was unable to take care of it himself, so he asked that I find you. Sort of like, a show of faith or something." The man held the package for Will to take.

"What is it?" Will held the bundle cautiously. A locked brown leather case concealrd it contents. Riker noted that it was certainly heavier than what it looked.

"It is a donation that has been given to our cause. Your instructions are to guard it well until the rally, then when the speaker asks you to come forward, you will bring it to the podium. Do you have any questions?"

"No." Riker took one last look at the man before he walked away, assuring himself that he had not been in attendence at the brothel last night.

Deanna grabbed Will's arm and pulled him inside the hotel's elevator. Once the doors closed, she began, "He was definitely lying about something. He became very nervous when he spoke of the donation."

Will held the case up, as if the bright lights of the elevator would show him something new. "And we don't have enough time to examine it either. Damn, why do I feel that I'm being set up for something?"

"So what do we do with it?" She watched him put it on the floor.

He let out a big sigh, "I guess we follow through with my orders. Wait and see what happens." He looked down to see her arm move around his waist.

"I'm not liking this." She looked into his eyes as she moved to stand before him. "I feel that something is going to happen tonight...something bad...I just wish I could tell you more."

The doors opened, Will waited for Deanna to exit before he locked the controls. "I shouldn't go with you to your room. I think Travis will be back shortly
and..." He paused.

"And what?" She walked back to him as he stayed in the elevator. Deanna listened to him struggling to answer her question.

"And I think that you need to find a way to get more information from him." God he didn't want to ask her to do this. "Deanna, we are running out of time, and I might be in big trouble tonight," he felt a large lump rise in his throat. "Please, do whatever it takes to get Travis to talk." He looked down, unable to meet her gaze.

The anguish she felt coming from the man who stood in front of her was nearly enough to make her fall to her knees. Taking his hands and placing them to her lips, she kissed them lightly then held them to her cheek. "Imzadi?" She spoke softly, trying to get him to look at her.

Finally, biting back the anger that threatened to fall tears, he gazed at her, taking in every ounce of strength that eminated from her soul piercing eyes. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, feeling like a real selfish ass now. "I should never have-"

"Sshh." She placed his hands against her chest, letting him feel her heart pounding. "What good is this,that I am feeling right now...if you are not around to share it with?" She let a few seconds go by before continuing. "You're right, you should never have asked me that."

His head jerked up to see the determination in her eyes.

"Because I would have done it regardles. If 'that' is what it takes... to take part in something that is now meaningless to me, in order to help save your life...then so be it. Your objections now, are irrelevant Commander."

He moved his hands from her chest, and wrapped them around her small body and pulled her to him, feeling her succomb to his strength. After a few moments had passed, hell it could have been eternity for all he knew, he bent down and tentativly kissed her forehead and down the length of her nose. Their eyes locked once again, and this time, he would not let the chance disappear. He captured her mouth with his, feeling wave after wave of desire reach into the very depths of his soul as he felt her deepening the kiss further.

A gentle "Ahem" jerked the couple apart. Red faced, but not because of being caught in an awkward position, Deanna stepped back from the door, allowing an older woman to enter the elevator with Will.

Knowing that he wasn't going to be following her out, she smiled confidently at her friend, "Don't worry about me Riker, I'll be fine."

He had just enough time to give her one of his classic grins before the doors closed before him.

Deanna was nervously pacing the balcony when she felt Travis' arms circle her waist.

"Miss me?" he asked as he turned her to face him.

She nodded, cringing slightly as his lips clasped over hers. Not wanting to encourage anything further, she stepped back and held his hands in front of her. "So, did everything go alright?"

"As best as could be expected. At least Starfleet won't have to worry about giving the bastard a formal funeral...after they hear the story anyway."

"What is the story, Travis? I guess I'm still a little in the dark as to why he was murdered," Deanna shivered as she felt a cold breeze blow across her body.

"Come, let's go inside. There's a storm coming." He pulled her back into the room and closed the door.

Deanna sat on the couch, waiting for Travis to answer her question. Instead, he knelt in front of her and began to rub his hands up the outside of her thighs.

"God, you're beautiful," he whispered.

After spending the last couple of weeks with this man, Deanna was able to tell his intentions, and right now, his intentions did not include talking. But she was going to have to try again.
"You didn't answer my question Travis. What happened to your father?"

The look in his eyes terrified her. For the first time since she had met him, she felt frightened. The feelings she could sense from him were cloudy at best, but she somehow she knew that he was a part of this whole thing.

"We'll talk later. Right now," he moved up and pushed her shoulders against the back of the couch, "all I want is you."

Deanna shivered again, only this time it wasn't because
of the cold. She closed her eyes and tried to picture Will as she felt Travis begin to undress her, praying that the thought of her Imzadi would give her the strength to make it through this.

Travis was rough and callous with his actions. Not at all like she remembered Will to be. Will was by far, the most gentle lover she had ever encountered. Tortuous, yet extremely gratifying, his ministrations yielded the most unbelievable outcomes. Of course, that was amost ten long years ago, but she could remember as if it were yesterday.
Her mind wandered back to that time, when she was the happy recipient of his passion...his unselfish erotic vigor to first please her.

It wasn't but a couple of minutes before she was able to breathe a sigh of relief as Travis pushed himself from her. Deanna rose quickly and rushed to the shower, wanting desperately to wash away every bit of what had just happened. She locked the door before turning the water on, then glanced in the mirror at the distraught reflection that shown back. The perfect skin of the Betazoid was tarnished by streaks of tears that had left wet trails down her cheeks. Bracing herself straightarmed against the counter, she looked away, as if she was ashamed of her own image.

Sobbing, she called out silently to Will, summoning strength from their friendship...their love. She wondered if he could still sense her, the way she had taught him so many years ago. "Please...be careful," she finally said outloud, not caring if Travis heard it or not.

A cold breeze swirled through the trees in the park, quickly bringing in the black clouds that had been lurking over the horizon.

Sitting on a chilly park bench, Will watched as people began gathering for the rally. Stunned by the large crowd that was forming in spite of the looming storm, he decided to mingle, hoping to get any information he could. Carrying the leather case under one arm, he passed by a small group of people huddled together near the stage. Dashing behind a tree, he strained to listen to their conversation.

"Federation be damned. If they can't ensure our safety, then the hell with them," said one man.

"Yes. We need to take care of ourselves. We're no better off now then we were when we became a part of their so called alliance," said another.

The lone woman of the group spoke, "The crime in our cities has tripled in the last year alone. How much more are we to take?"

Another said angrily, "We have to get rid of the Federation, as well as the gangs. Merced and his coharts should be jailed!"

Will's stomach churned. He realized that this was not only an anti-Federation rally, but an anti-gang...anti-whatever Merced stood for... rally. There were three factions fighting for power, not just the two Travis had mentioned.
He looked nervously down at his feet where he had placed the leather case. Fearfully assured that it was not a donation for the cause, he picked it up and raced to get away from the crowds.

"So you are telling me that Your father was aiding the anti-Federation movement by delivering weapons to them?" Deanna looked aghast as she poured Travis a cup of coffee.

"Yes. And apparently he was unable to fulfill his promise, so they killed him."

"But how did he get involved in the first place?" She brushed back a lock of her still damp hair.

"He was Voleria's liason to the Federation. And when he saw the opportunity for monetary gain, well... I can only assume that greed took over from there." He moved closer to her, taking her hand in his. "Deanna, the wealth of this planet far exceeds anything the Federation could ever have imagined. They have the resources to trade with every planet in the system, only the leaders have not realized that yet. But...we...have."

Deanna looked confused. "We? Who's we?"

"The members of a political ring that will be taking over the government in due time," he said proudly.

She pulled her hand back. "You...are a part of this?" She asked, already knowing the answer. Her spine shivered as his face grew into a evil grin.

"Wealth is a powerful thing, darling. It can bring you everything you have ever desired." He grabbed her hand again, only this time he held it tight enough to cause her to wince in pain. "I think you will find it just as rewarding as I have."

"Travis, why have you made us a part of this?" Her mind racing, trying to find a way to get away to Will.

"Simple reasons actually. I have brought you with me because I know that your ability will help me as I gain power. And Will, well lets just say that the bloodshed tonight will be at the hands of Starfleet, and not mine." He smiled wildly at her reaction. "And did I say you're a good fuck too?"

She tried desperately to get away only to find his arms around her, holding tighter and tighter.
"Now why in the world do want to get away Dee? I am promising the universe to you, and you want to leave?"

Her struggles were beginning to excite him. "God, I love a woman who likes to fight."

He pushed her down to the bed, feeling her wiggle under him as she screamed.

"Going somewhere Riker?" a voice called out.

Will stopped running and turned quickly to see Goallin Merced and four of his men standing beside a fountain. "Have you forgotten you have a job to do tonight?"

Will held the case out before him. "What is this Merced?"

"Its a donation, like you were told."

"The hell it is." Will growled. "You tried to get me to kill all these innocent people, you bastard."

"Commander Riker," Merced began, laughing at Will's reaction at hearing the knowledge of his true identity. "You have no idea what's going on, do you?"

Will shook his head, watching Merced's men surround him.

"I would guess that by now, approximately one hundred or so people have seen you with that case. Correct?"
Merced motioned from one of his men to grab the case and place it in a bag. "So when my friend here disposes of the bag and case in the garbage bin, next to the stage, and the case... explodes... Who are they going to guess dropped it?" He grabbed Will by the hair and pulled his head back. "And when they search your hotel room, what do you think they are going to find? You see pretty boy, no matter what...Starfleet will be held responsible for killing the leaders of the Neutral Party."

Two of the men bent Will's arms behind his back, nearly dislocating the shoulders, while two others held phasers to his head.

"While the anger for Starfleet festers among the common folk, we... the ones who promise peace, will take over the government and its wealth. Travis Gaylord will be a hero."

"And what happens to Deanna and myself?" Will spat out.

"Well, I'm sure Travis has plans for her. But as for you...your services are no longer needed. Michael?" Merced called out for his hit man, "Kill him."

Travis Gaylord removed one of his hands from Deanna's forearm to undo his pants, giving her the break she needed.
Deanna kicked her knee up hard to his crotch at the same time boxing his ears with her small but mighty fists.

Rolling off of her withering in pain, Travis felt another knee crushing his nasal septum, pushing his head off the edge of the bed.

Deanna moved quickly away as she saw his body roll to the floor. Standing on the side of the room opposite the door, she was going to have to get past a very irritated and pissed off Intelligence Officer if she was going to get away.
Leaning slightly against the wall contemplating her next move, Deanna jumped as she saw a bloody hand grasp the bedding as it pulled its attached body up.

Blood trailed from Travis' nose across his smiling lips as he rose completely. "Don't make me hurt you Deanna. You have so much promise," his words were labored.

Deanna tried to control her panic. "You fooled me," she admitted, "you hide your emotions well." She held her hands tightly against her thighs, not wanting him to see that they were trembling.

Travis shook his head. "It would be difficult to be a part of Starfleet Intelligence, if I couldn't block out emotions." He attempted to wipe away the blood with his forearm but only succeeded in smearing it across his mouth and cheek. "Can you sense anything now...bitch?" He wobbled forward, using the edge of the bed to help guide him.

Bombarded with feelings of anger and resentment,
Deanna blindly reached for the small lamp that rested on top of a nearby dresser. Holding it firmly by the base, she swung fast just as Travis lunged for her, hitting him squarely across his cheek, knocking him once again to the floor.
Leaping over his body, she raced toward the door and threw it open refusing to look back to see if he was in pursuit. Deciding it was best to not wait for an elevator, she headed down the stairwell with hopes of finding Will before Travis did.

Will Riker first heard the raindrops hit his shoulders before he actually felt the cold drips on his face. The trees of the park not only shielded him from a more severe shower, but also from view of the crowd near the stage as he was forcefully pushed further into the woods. His arms were still bent tightly against his back as the men walked him to an area of dense brush.

"Michael...you do know that Starfleet will never let my death go unanswered. I have friends that will refuse to believe that I had anything to do with a bombing," Riker flinched when he saw the back of a hand slicing through the air toward his face.
A small amount of blood trickled from the corner of Will's mouth from the slap.

"Shut up," Michael said calmly.

Will faked a stumble and was able to free one arm from his captor. Gathering as much strength as he could, he swung the other man that still held an arm into the two that were holding the phasers. Jumping on the pile of fallen bodies, Will was able to wrestle away one of the phasers from an unsuspecting hand and fire three quick bursts into the masses of flesh.
Two men remained standing; one with no weapon, and Michael, who had pulled his infamous knife from it's sheath.

Rain was coming down harder now that they were away from the taller trees. Will wiped his eyes free of wetness as he held the phaser with his other hand.

"Phaser versus knife...isn't much of a match Michael," Will sputtered.

"No," Michael conceded. "But phaser versus phaser...thats another story." A smile broke across the hardened face of the hit man as he reached into another pocket and displayed a palm sized disrupter.
He then handed the knife to his unarmed associate, never removing his gaze from Will. "Who has the better odds now, hot shot?"

Will cocked his head and laughed as he powered up the phaser to the maximum setting. "Looks like its a no- win situation for us all." Will dangled his gun out in front of him so that they were able to see and hear the whine of the impending detonation.

Then he accidentally dropped it.

The rain had slickened the handle making it impossible for him to have gripped with only a few fingers, like he had done.

Knowing he had only a few seconds remaining before the phaser exploded, Will dove behind the nearest tree, hoping that would give him some protection from the blast.
What he didn't see was Michael grabbing his comrade and throwing him on top of the fallen phaser, before Michael himself lunged behind another tree.

The blast was short and somewhat contained thanks to the body that was now splattered across a ten meter diameter. Will gathered himself up and began running back toward the stage area not knowing that Michael was in close pursuit.

Deanna quickly maneuvered her small body through the diminishing crowd looking for Will. The cold rain left her shivering as she stood near the stage. Feeling the wind whip its way around the trees creating an eerie whistle, she wrapped her arms around her body unable to stop the small tremors that seemed to be now unending.

It was now completely dark outside and the only lighting came from the overhead beams directed at the stage, which meant it was impossible to see any further than about 20 meters out from where she stood.

An older man grazed by Deanna's shoulder as he placed a bag of garbage in the can next to her. She watched as he started to walk away but then stopped suddenly and turned towards her.
Deanna felt him become quite panicked as he stared at her for a moment. Confusion settled in on his face just before he ran away into the darkness of the woods.

Deanna glanced down into the can where he had just left the garbage and decided to investigate further. Pulling away a corner of the bag, she easily recognized the brown leather case that had been given to Will earlier in the day.
She began to feel her own panic as she thought of the worst case scenario as to why Will no longer maintained possession of the case.

From a short distance away, she heard a strained voice screaming her name.


She looked but was unable to see where it was originating from. The echoes off the trees along with the wind made it sound like it was coming from all directions.

"DEANNA!" the voice grew louder.

"Will?" she called out.


Understanding the urgency in the tone that she now knew was Will's, she looked at the case and placed it back in the can. Turning to walk away, she felt two hands grab her arms and swing her around.

She nearly jumped halfway to Jupiter when she saw Travis' face as he pulled her away from the stage and out into the woods.

Will Riker was running fast when he lost his footing in the wet grass. Dodging a large tree that had blocked his view of Deanna, he slid on his backside for a short distance, catching his hip on the leg of a bench, stopping his forward momentum.

Cursing himself for his lack of agility, he quickly felt the effects of the crash as he tried to stand.

Holding his hand over what would soon prove to be a deep muscle bruise, he hobbled forward enough to notice that the rally had obviously been cancelled due to the weather. Thankfully, the large crowd that had formed earlier was already dissolving.

Will looked to the spot where he had last seen Deanna only to notice she was no longer there. Since he did not know when the bomb was due to go off, he chose to stay away from the garbage can and the stage area.

"DEANNA?" he called out.

"DEA-" Will's shout was abruptly cut short by phaser fire screaming through the air past his head.

Will dove to the ground splattering mud all over his face as he landed. Quickly spotting Michael attempting to hide behind a large tree, Will crawled along the ground and pulled his large frame behind a stump. Two more blasts whizzed by before he heard a muffled cry and then one final blast.

Hearing only the driving rain hitting against the ground, Will peered out to see Deanna standing next to Michael's slumped and stunned body. As Will lumbered up and began walking to her, he could see her convulsing outstretched arm that held a phaser pointed at Michael's head.

Gently prying her fingers from the hilt of the weapon, he wrapped an arm around her torso, realizing now that her arm was not the only thing shivering. Her hands were frigid as he held them to his body and pulled her even closer.

Deanna's usual long black curls in her hair were now straight as they clung to her face and back. Will tried to brush a lock from her frightened eyes only to see the rain slide it right back where it was before.

"Travis?" he questioned softly.

"He's unconscious...in the woods...over there." She motioned with her head to the place where she had left his body after striking him with a large stone. She wrapped her arms around Will, inside his jacket, seeking any warmth she could find. She would have crawled into one of his pockets if she thought she could have fit.

"We have to get out of here now." Will's sense of urgency only became more evident when they heard sirens that were growing louder every second. "I have a feeling they are going to be looking for me in a matter of minutes."

Will pulled her away to a distance that he thought would be safe and took his jacket off to wrap around her quivering shoulders. Even though the outside leather was muddied and soaked, he knew the liner was warm and dry. He wanted to ask why Travis was unconscious, but seeing the distraught look on Troi's face, he figured she would tell him when she was ready.

There was no longer anyone in close proximity to the bomb, so Will opted to not try and disarm the device. A few more seconds went by before the area surrounding the stage was lit up in a ball of fire. The initial blast was short but intense, causing both Deanna and Will to jump back even further.

"Let's go while we still can," he grabbed hold of the empty sleeve of his jacket and pulled her into the street. "We need to find a dry place to stay before we each die of pneumonia."

They watched the emergency vehicles stop near the rally site before they crossed the street. After walking a short distance against the blustery wind, it became quite evident that they would have to stay at the next hotel they came to.

Will shivered from the profound temperature change from outside to inside the hotel lobby as soon as they entered the front door. Shaking his head fiercely to rid himself of the water that was clinging to his hair, he quickly ran a hand through the soggy bristles pushing it off his forehead.

Deanna began to remove Will's jacket but stopped when she realized that her blouse, still wet, clung to her breasts too closely and allowed her coldness to still be very evident. Her body was unwilling to stop the shivering and decided to now include her teeth in the process. A quick look out a the large window of the lobby revealed that the rain had changed into snow within a matter of seconds.

Will walked to the counter and began to explain to the employee that he and his girlfriend were having vehicle problems and were in need of a room for the night.
From the look the older man gave Will, the explanation was unnecessary. But nevertheless, Will did not want any assumptions to be made, and if Travis survived the explosion, Will was sure inquiries will be made into every hotel in the city looking for he and Deanna.
And as an added measure, Will went on to explain that there was a chance that a very jealous husband may come around asking questions, so he tipped the man heavily to dissuade any potential inquiries.

Deanna waited near the elevators for Will to finish. Just as her own shirt had become adhered to her body, she couldn't help but notice that Will's did as well.
His muscular chest was outlined by the black t-shirt and his biceps stretched the thin short sleeves.
The pleasant sight was interrupted when she was startled by the elevator door opening.
Halfway expecting Travis to be grabbing her from behind at any moment, she cautiosly moved aside as two women exited the lift, giving her more than a curious look.
Deanna knew she felt miserable and probably looked even worse. Her hair hung in knots around her face, the make-up had been washed away long ago by the torrential rain, and her clothes looked like she had been mud wrestling.

A few more minutes passed before she watched Will walk towards her. "Room 575," he explained as he pressed the elevator button.

The ride to the fifth floor was thankfully fast as Deanna wished for nothing more than a long hot shower.
Will opened the door to the room to reveal a modestly furnished place with a small kitchenette and living room area. Taking a quick look around, Deanna was quick to notice that it contained only one bed, making her wonder if that was Will's doing or if this was truly all that was available.

Will must have sensed her apprehension because he quickly mentioned that the couch folded out into a bed.
She blushed slightly at his remark as she eyed the bathroom.

"Go ahead and shower first," he suggested, "I'll order something for us from room service."

Deanna did not need to be told twice. Still shivering, she couldn't wait to be engulfed in the steam and hot water.

After sending his order in from a computer in the kitchen, Will listened for running water in the bathroom then knocked on the door. "Deanna?"

Deanna had just finished rinsing her hair of the complimentary shampoo when she heard him call her name.
Ripples of anxiousness ran through her body. "Yes?"
she answered, biting her bottom lip.

"I just want to get your clothes drying on the heater. May I come in?" he said through the closed door.

"Yes," she cupped her hand over her mouth, she did not want to sound misleading but the word came out way too eager than what she had intended.

Will grinned slightly at her answer before he opened the door. He had no intention of even coming close to looking at the shower but unfortunately, her pants and undergarments were draped over the shower rod. She must have rinsed them out, he guessed.

He held her shirt in one hand as he reached for the hanging items with the other. Just as he tugged them down, her head appeared from behind the curtain.

"Thanks," was all she said but the word made Will tingle all over.

Okay...maybe it wasn't the word but rather the way her body was silhoetted behind the opaque curtain.
For a moment, he stared at her glistening face- the way the water had caught on her eyelashes, making them look even longer. And her lips...they had been revitalized and were no longer the purplish color but rather lushessly pink.

"Sure," he turned quickly for the door. "Dinner will be here shortly," he managed to spit out before he stole another glance back to the shower. Thankfully, she had ducked back under the water and was unable to see his lustful smile.

"I think I'm staying the night in here," she moaned with pleasure just as he closed the door, making him wish he had not heard that last outspoken titillation.


Wet clothes lined the front of the heat blower as Will stood nearby adjusting a sheet that would serve to cover his bottom half. Satisfied with his new garment, he reached down and turned the thermastat up considerably to aid the drying process.

A knock at the door caused the jittery commander to leap for the phaser that was laying on a nearby dresser.
Making sure the locks were secured, he pressed his ear to the door, "Who is it?"

"Room service," a female voice answered.

"I'm a little indisposed of at the moment...can you leave it at the door, please?"

"No problem, sir."

Will listened to what sounded like a tray clanging against the floor and then a few seconds of silence, before he poked his head into the desolate hallway.

Lifting the food quickly and returning inside, he noticed his stomach begging for the origin of the hearty aroma his other senses were picking up.

Passing by the bathroom on his way to the kitchen, Will shook his head and chuckled as he still heard the shower. "Guess she 'is' going to stay in there all night," he mused.

Deanna stepped from the steamy refuge of the bathroom into the livingroom area wrapped only in a towel.
The temporary escape from the day's revelations came to an abrupt end as soon as she saw the phaser resting on the chest of a sleeping Will Riker.

At any other time, the pleasurable sight that lay snoring on the couch would have made her at least smile, but the flood of emotions that drained from him
caused her to catch her breath.
All the unanswered questions that she had placed in the back of her mind as she relaxed in the shower, resurfaced.
How would they contact the Enterprise?
If Travis was still alive, what would he say to Captain Picard during the scheduled check-in?
Would the authorites believe that Will set the bomb?
Who, if anyone, could they trust now?

A barely audible moan escaped the pursed lips of Riker as he gently changed positions on the small couch.

Though he slept, she sensed his restlessness and distress. He was now in 'commander mode', somehow probably acutely aware of her as she silently inched closer. Deanna was captivated by this man's rhythmic breathing, entranced by the rise and fall of his muscular chest, amused by his choice of simple attire. His face lacked the usual neatly trimmed beard as two days worth of stubble covered his cheeks, only adding to his handsome features.

Will's eyelids fluttered as the orbs beneath moved left and right. Deanna could tell he was so close to consciousness but yet was unable to stop herself from moving to touch his face.

Her open palm barely grazed his scruffy cheek when his eyes popped wide open and a hand that was quicker than lightning had grasped her wrist tightly.

Will released his grip quickly when he realized that had unintentionally hurt her. He watched as she held her arm to her bosom as if she were a wounded animal, surprised by the pain.

"Oh God, I'm sorry Deanna. Its just that you startled me," he wanted to be sincere but the pounding in his chest told his brain otherwise and the words came out too harsh.

"N...no. It was my fault. I shouldn't have woke you," Deanna turned away rubbing her wrist. "I'm sorry."

"Are you okay?" This time, his sincerity was obvious.

"I'll be fine," Deanna turned back with a smile. "Isn't there an old saying about how you should let sleeping dogs lie?"

Will chuckled, "Yeah, something like that."

Their eyes met and locked for an only an instant when Will glanced down the slender form that stood before him. Finding it hard to look away, he cleared his throat as he, for the first time, became very aware of how Deanna was 'not' dressed. This of course should have come as no surprise, since he was the one who gathered her clothes...but the sight was still stunning.

In an attempt to end the awkward moment, she glanced around the room and spoke, "So...did you save me any dinner or do I need to order something else?"

"No, there's some pasta for you on the table. I tried to keep it warm," he said grimmicing as he tried to stand up.

"Are you hurt?" She asked, surprised that she had not noticed any earlier.

"Just a hip bruise...it must have gotton stiff as I slept." He watched her concerned look as she began to reach for the edge of his covering.

"No, Deanna...really...I'll be okay," Will clutched the sheet around him as if it were a life preserver.

"Will...I know you tend to play down your injuries. I just want to be sure its not too bad."

His eyes pleaded with her to give up her pursuit but it was a lost cause.

"Will, don't be a baby. Its not like I havn't seen your rear-end before...now let me look," she said sternly.

"Its not my rear-end I was worried about," he said as he backed farther away yet, yelping as the corner of the wall caught the sore spot.

Cocking her head to the side as she stiffled her amused grin, "I've seen 'that'...before too."

After exhaling a long exasperated breath, Will untucked the corner of his garment and opened it up just enough to reveal the large black bruise covering the front and side of his swollen left hip.

Deanna bent down to get a better look. "Will you need to get something cold on this...this looks terrible."
She pressed her fingers against the puffy area making him flinch.

"I think its too late for that, its already swollen," he said as he pulled the sheet back closed, fully aware that as he looked down he was able to see into Deanna's loosely covering towel.

"Well...maybe a shower would help loosen the stiffness a bit," she stood up but did not back away.

He smiled devilishly.
The innocent look on her face caused Will to think that she had no idea of the hidden meaning behind their words. But then again, he knew from past experience that she was not as demure as she wanted others to think. She could be a big tease when she chose to.

"Yeah, I guess a shower would lessen the stiffness," he echoed. Then added a little more boldly, "or maybe a light massage to the ar-"



"Don't press your luck."

Discouraged but amused, he retreated to the confines of the bathroom, chuckling to himself.

Pressing both palms flat against the smooth wall of the shower stall, Will leaned into the hot water, lettting the streams flow over his head and onto his back. He closed his eyes tightly in an attempt to rid his mind of the image of Deanna Troi standing before him wearing nothing more than a towel, all the while cursing himself for screwing up what would have the perfect moment to seduce the exotic woman.

His mind retreated back to the few short seconds before he felt the presence of her soft hand...before he felt her presence in his mind. He did know she was there, that much he was sure of. But what he wasn't so sure of was why she was reaching to touch his face.

It was his subconscious that had reached out and grabbed her. His militaristic instinct that had told him of the potential danger. His damn alter ego getting the better of him.

He moved sideways in the flowing water, this time allowing the pulsating streams to beat against his throbbing hip.

Will knew his body was getting old. He felt it nearly every morning he woke up. The creaking and cracking of joints had become a common occurance and this newest injury would certainly only add to the percussive sounds his body already performed.

There were far too many times when his mind would betray this body. Pushing it to a point of near collapse because of some damn mission, before he would give in...surrender to the pain and exhaustion.

He had been at the receiving end of Dr. Crusher's wrath more times than he cared to count because of failing to yield to his body's warning signs. She would often kid him that there was always one biobed reserved for Will Riker and that sickbay was the only place he spent more time in other than the bridge.
He could only hope that the swelling and discolorment of his hip would go down quickly, or else he would surely hear about it again. That is, if they would ever make it back to the Enterprise... alive.

When Will walked out of the bathroom, the entire kitchen and livingroom areas were dark, save for the dim light that originated from the bedroom. Taking a moment to make sure the door was still safely secured, he walked quietly into the bedroom to turn off the remaining light before he made his way to the couch.

He found himself stealing a peek at Deanna as she slept. Just like he envisioned, her black velvety curls lay sprawled across the pillow. Her satiny lips that lay barely open, seemed to beckon to him. He moved forward until he noticed the towel that she had been wearing was perfectly postioned at the foot of the mattress, as if she wanted him to notice it.
Then he saw the corner of the blanket on the empty side of the bed, turned down like it was waiting for a body to slip underneath.
An audible gulp escaped his mouth when he turned the light off. A soft warm hand had seized his wrist before he had a chance to pull his hand back.

"I didn't mean to wake you. Go back to sleep," Will said as the hand had let go and he began to retreat to the livingroom.

Then, possibly not totally unexpected but perhaps uncharacteristicly bold, the usually soft voice spoke with more force than normal.
"Will...you big dummy...come here."

Will stopped dead in his tracks before turning slowly back around. Though it was dark, Deanna could see the white of his teeth shining through his broad smile as he swaggarded back to the bed.

Patting the soft mattress next to her, Deanna moved so he could sit. His blue eyes glistened as they seemed to pick up what little light emitted from the nearby window. "I was beginning to think I was going to have to spell it out for you, Imzadi," she whispered as his face neared hers.

His voice was low and sultry, "I wasn't sure if you were ready for this." Her eyes told him the answer he was desperately wanted. "Deanna, you never needed 'anything', to get me to look at you. I have never 'stopped' looking." He kissed her hard, holding her cheeks with his hands as he pressed her head down into the pillow, feeling her warm breasts against his chest.
"But I can still arrange for a Ferengi if you want to try-"

"I don't think that will be necessary Commander," she pulled him into another deep kiss, letting her tongue dance against the corners of his mouth, tasting of him, feeding off him...encouraging him.
Then she remembered his hip.

It was almost as if he read her thoughts. Will looked at her with eyes that were filled with such passion, such seduction. "There's only one thing below my neck that I can feel right now...and it's not my hip." He pulled her to him, clutching great handfulls of ebony hair.

Easily recalling how and where each liked to be touched, Deanna smiled fondly as Will neglected his own desires and focused his attention entirely on her, just as she had so affectionately remembered.
Then taking her turn, touching...stroking...teasing.
Watching, as her touch rendered him helpless. The muscles in his stomach fluttering, begging for his desire to be quenched.

It wasn't long before they fell into a rhythmic coupling, much to Deanna's surprise. This was definitly atypical of Will Riker's ability. She laughed silently as she remembered reading in some book about how the average time of lovemaking is between ten to fifteen minutes. It was painfully obvious that the author had never met Will Riker, who could easily turn the simple art of lovemaking into an hour long dissertation...on foreplay alone!
Not that she minded of course, it was always an adventure with him...which made her wonder how they served for so long together and somehow kept from doing 'this'?
Rolling onto her side facing him, she watched as he trailed a finger down between her breasts and back up again, repeating the action until she found it unbearable. She grabbed the finger and placed it between her front teeth, bitting down gently.

"That is what you get for teasing," she smiled.

He smiled back, only his was a bit more mischievious. "Then what do I get, if I do...this?"
Will rolled on top of her, starting the process all over again.

'Never a disappointment, are you Will?' Deanna mused just before she felt herself succomb to his magical ministrations once again.

The early morning dawn not only brought the start of a new day, but also brought reality back to the couple entangled within the bedding...entwined within each other.

Deanna was the first to wake, smiling as she felt Will's warm breath against her back. Gently lifting his arm from the protective embrace, she rolled to face him, probing his emotions.

Gone were the feelings of distress that she had felt the previous evening. His mind was peaceful and content, making her wish they could live in this moment forever. The boyish face, masqueraded by the manly beard he for some reason grew looked so tranquil and serene, compelling her once again to touch it...to feel the strong jaw line...the soft and warm lips that could pull into the most beautiful of smiles.

The bond they shared, the one they fought so hard to ignore for the past six years had been resuscitated, given a new life. There was so much to discuss, but unfortunately, time was not going to permit them anymore luxuries.

Deanna rose from the bed to check on the clothes. Her pants and shirt faired better than Will's jeans, as they were still damp. A quick look outside revealed a light blanket of snow covering the ground. Ice coated trees and bushes glistened in the rising sun, making everything look crystalline. And if Deanna didn't know it was so blasted cold outside, she would have thought it to be a breathtaking view. But she couldn't quite bring herself to believe that, especially knowing she was without a coat and Will was going to be wearing wet jeans the rest of the day.

Deanna ordered a quick breakfast for she and Will from the computer then hopped in the shower.

In the meantime, Will woke to find Deanna gone from the bed. A short pang of panic surfaced before he saw the bathroom door open and heard the shower running.
He threw his legs off the side of the bed to stand but found his hip was again stiff.
"Damn," he mumbled as he fell back to the mattress and stayed there until Deanna emerged from the bathroom.

With a little help, Will had made it to the shower and was now seated, fully dressed, at the kitchen table.

"Room service is sure taking their sweet time getting here," Will grumbled. "How long has it been?"

"Forty-five minutes. So whats our plan for today?" Deanna had been reluctant to ask until now.

"The Federation Consulate has been closed. I checked on that yesterday," Will said as he poured himself another cup of coffee. "I think our only chance for immediate help will be," he looked up and watched her button her shirt, "if Travis was too injured to make the check-in call to the Enterprise."

Deanna shook her head. "I know 'I' didn't hurt him that bad. Maybe the blast could have-"

"No...I think he was shielded by the trees. And in which case, I guarantee he's looking for us." Will stood slowly, glad the shower helped ease the pain in his hip once more.

Deanna shuddered at the thought of having to face that man again. "I guess I shouldn't have gone against him so soon." Now completely clothed, she sunk into one of the chairs in the living room, re-evaluating her previous actions.

Will turned to face her. "You did what you had to do, Deanna. And I'd probably be dead if you hadn't." He walked to her and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "I guess I didn't thank you for saving me, did I?"

Deanna watched Will kneel in front of her, taking her hands in his.
"Thank you," he whispered, bringing her small hands to his face, pressing each palm to his cheeks before bringing them to his mouth to kiss. "I lov-"

The moment was rudely interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Your breakfast awaits." Deanna helped Will raise to a standing position before she handed him the phaser from the dresser.

Taking her position in the bedroom, Will walked to the door. "Who is it?"

"Room service."

"Leave it the door please."

"Yes sir."

Will waited once again for the sound of the tray hitting the floor before he cracked the door open just enough to allow his head to poke into the hallway.

It wasn't but a split second later that the door opened fully into Riker, slamming him against the interior wall, scattering the plates of food and the phaser along the doorway.

Deanna jumped as she heard the crash. "Will?"

Michael closed the door and along with another man, pinned Will against the entry to the kitchen. Michael's forearm pressed into Will's throat, threatening to crush his trachea.

"Oh...God," Deanna gasped.

Goallin Merced emerged from the short hallway, beckoning with his index finger for Deanna to come closer.

Deanna inched her way into the kitchen, watching as Will's face turned more red with each passing second. His lips quivering, begging for air.

"I think there's some unfinished business we need to take care of," Merced sneered.

The door to the room opened once again. Deanna was unable to breathe as she saw Travis enter, wielding the dropped phaser.

"Sounds like you need a lesson on grips...my 'friend'." Travis walked to Will, placing a gentle hand on Michael's arm as a sign to remove the choke hold.

Will's head fell forward, gasping loudly, trying to refill his starved lungs.

"You see, buddy, in order to grip something," he reached for Deanna, pulling her by the arm to position her in front of him, "you need to hold it firm." He placed his hands on her upper arms, using her as a model for his absurd demonstration. Squeezing tightly, intending to inflict pain, he emphasized each word with a tighter grip than the last.

"Let her go Travis," Will hissed.

"What was that ol' chum?" Travis mocked.

"I said let-her-go." Will's voice grew stronger. "If you want to pin this on me, then do it. I'll take full responsibility...just let her go."

"And they said chivalry was dead. Shame on them!" Travis pushed Deanna aside then moved to grab a handful of Will's hair. Holding firmly, he slammed the back of Riker's head into the wall.
"How can someone get to be Commander of the Starfleet flagship...and yet be so stupid?" His words were annoyingly sarcastic.

"I guess the same way someone becomes a part of Starfleet Intelligence...Travis. Its quite the oxymoron, isn't it?"

Travis dealt a hard blow to Will's gut. If it wasn't for his arms being pinned against the wall, Will would have doubled over.

"Shall we add a lesson of humility to your list as well?" Travis focused his attention back to Troi. "Deanna," he sighed, "I was beginning to think you liked me," there was a dramatic pause, "SLUT!"
Travis backhanded her, sending her sprawling to the floor.

Will lunged forward, only to find his arms being pulled tighter to the wall. His action nonetheless caused Travis to jump back, and it was at that precise moment when he saw it. Even though it was just an outline, he knew immediately what was hidden inside Travis' front shirt pocket...a communicator.

"You bastard," Will grunted as he watched Deanna laying on the floor wiping blood from her mouth.

Travis laughed then turned back to Will. "Tell me Riker, does she scream for you...also?"

Unwilling to give in to Travis antagonizing, Will just glared at the man he once considered to be his friend.

Merced slowly walked to the window and closed the curtains Deanna had opened earlier. "Let's get this over with boss," he suggested.

Travis sighed then grinned. "Very well. And this time Michael," he patted the back of the hit man, "don't make such a damn mess." He then turned and sat in a chair in the kitchen to watch the execution.

Loosening his hold of Riker's arm, Michael removed his knife from it's sheath. His impassive face never showing a hint of any type of emotion when he wiped the flat part of the blade against Will's chest.

Deanna stood and looked to Will. In one split second, the words 'Travis-shirt pocket-comunicator' echoed in her mind. He had managed to send to her his discovery just before Michael poked the knife tip into the soft flesh just below Will's ear.

"NO!" Deanna cried.

Merced grabbed her shoulders to prevent her from moving toward Will but she managed to wiggle free.
In one quick move, Deanna bent her knee and embedded her heel in Goallin's chest, knocking him backward.

Using the distraction, Will broke free and buried his fist into the unknown man's solar plexus, just below the sternum. Michael managed to swing the knife one time, catching Will in the ribs, before Will elbowed him in the face shattering his nasal bone.

Unaware that he had even been cut, Will dove towards Travis who was fumbling for the phaser he had placed in his jacket pocket, but Travis kicked a chair into Will's path. Crushing the wood frame as he landed on top of it, Will felt a sting of pain emitting from his chest. A splinter...a rather large splinter...had pierced the skin near the sternum.
Will staggered to his feet and pulled the small piece of wood from his chest.

Travis finally yanked the phaser free from the confines of his pocket just in time for Deanna to lash out and hit his arm with a leg of the broken chair, sending the phaser sliding across the floor.

Deanna dove for the phaser the same time Travis retreated for the door.

"WILL!" Deanna yelled, firing the retrieved weapon into the recently vacated doorway. "Shit," she resigned, "he's gone."

"Let's go, he still has the communicator." Will began running out the door with Deanna in pursuit.

Travis heard the police in the stairwell climbing their way to the fifth floor, which meant his only means of escape was by the rooftop. His momentum carried him through the door and out onto the small pitched roof. But he had forgotten about the ice.
His body slid down the slope, coming to a rest as the pitch leveled out, inches from the edge of the ten story building. Noticing the next building was about five feet away, he could make the jump if he avoided the ice on either side. Standing at the edge, he heard the door from which he came from crash open, startling him enough that he lost his balance and began to fall backwards toward the alley below.

Will saw Travis waving his arms in an attempt to regain his balance. Without hesitation, Will slid head first down the slope in time to catch Travis' wrist as he dangled over the edge.

The harsh impact of hooking Travis nearly sent Will over the edge as well. Bracing his shoulders against an iron bar that was used as an emergency escape route, he held tight. "GRAB THE POLE!" Will gritted his teeth, feeling his body being slowly pulled forward.

"I can't." Travis dangled helplessly, unable to stretch out with his free hand and grab hold.

"You're pulling me in...grab the fucking pole!" Will's upper chest was now over the edge. His shoulders and muscles burning from the strain.

Travis reached one last time and was able to wrap an arm around the pole. Relieved that there was some pressure taken off his upper body, Will freed one hand and quickly reached for the communicator, drawing it back before Travis was able to get a grip on his arm.

For fear of being pulled over the edge completely, Will let go of his grip totally and watched Travis slide down the pole, safely making it to the ground.

Carefully climbing back to the top of the small peak where Deanna stood, Will handed her the valuable piece of Starfleet metal.

"Go back to the ship, tell the Captain what's happened. I'll be in touch shortly." Will headed back down the roof toward the pole.

"You're going after him?" Deanna was dumbfounded by Will's plan.

"We can't let him get back to the protection of his people. We may never find him."

"So we don't find him. Will, why don't you wait for help from the Enter-"

"Because it may be too late! I think I know how to get to him before he goes back underground."

"Will please...don't do this alone." She was almost furious, and he knew it.

He gave her one of his trade-mark cocky grins, "Deanna, I'll be fine. I'll meet you in six hours, in the park...I promise." With that, he slid his legs over the side and began to make his way down the ancient escape route.

"Damn you Will Riker." Deanna whispered as she watched him disappear, then tapped the communicator.


Following Travis' footprints in the fresh snow brought back vague memories of hunting trips Will Riker had taken with his father. Watching every indentation in the snow, making sure he followed the correct trail...this was easy compared to following a jack-rabbit, he thought. The inclement weather had kept most people indoors, which obviously meant less tracks to discern. Even though he knew Travis was headed to the building which housed the brothel, he still wanted to be sure Travis didn't back-track on himself for a surprise ambush.
It finally occurred to Will that it was rather cold outside. Though he enjoyed and adapted easily to cold weather, this wasn't exactly the kind of day to be outside without a coat on...but then again he didn't have much choice. His side now ached from the shallow penetration of Michael's knife, his muscles were sore, and his damn hip was driving him nuts.
"Stop whining Riker," Will chastised himself as he pressed on to where the tracts finally came to an end-the front door of the brothel.

In complete contrast to two nights ago, the building seemed to be totally empty. The room where he had discovered Travis taking part in the so-called fringe benefits was entirely bare. No couches, no tables, not even a faint odor of the burning drugs lingered.
A distinct rumble came from down the hall jolting Will from his quandary.

Peering around the corner, he spotted a shadow entering yet another room. Unable to prevent his footsteps from echoing down the corridor, he braced for an ambush he was certain was about to occur. Holding the phaser that Deanna had given him firmly as he entered the dark room, he barely caught a glimpse of the metal bar that was slicing through the air toward his abdomen.
The blow sent Will reeling to the ground, gasping for air. Turning around in time to block the next swing with his left forearm, Will yelped as it undoubtedly shattered the bones near his wrist.
He aimlessly fired three quick shots of the phaser, but missed the target each time. The metal rod glimmered as it came toward his head but Will was able to duck out of the way. And as it passed overhead, he kicked his leg up, hitting Travis in the gut.

Travis recovered quickly and swung the rod once more, this time hitting the phaser, knocking it from of Will's hand and into the dark recess of a corner, out of sight.
"I should have known you were going to be a pain in the ass during this mission," Travis snarled as he backed Will toward a wall, swinging the rod every few steps, but missing with each pass.

"You hadn't seen anything yet," Will replied, sidestepping another swing. Jerking his head up, Will made it look like someone had walked into the room. "Captain?"

Travis spun his head around to look at the door allowing Will to lunge forward. Tackling the foolish man to the floor, Will punched his much smaller opponent ferociously with his good hand until his face looked like a mass of bloody pulp.

Seeing no more movement in the body that lay underneath, Will shifted his weight off and walked away to look for the phaser. He turned back around when he heard an low groan evolving into a slow evil laugh.

"Looking for this?" Travis raised his body from the floor, pointing the phaser at Will. Spitting blood from his mouth, the one-time decorated Intelligence Officer slowly moved forward. "I thought so."

The room echoed with a beeping sound as Travis increased the setting on the weapon to maximum. In a last ditch effort to save his own life, Will made a sweeping kick with his leg while Travis' eyes had been focused on the phaser.
With his legs no longer under him, Travis fell to the floor with a resounding thump. He was unable to re-aim the phaser in time before Will had a grip on his wrist.

Using only one hand to hold Travis at bay, Will struggled and placed all his weight against the smaller man. For his size, Travis was considerably strong. His free hand had found Will's face and pushed it sideways, careening Will's neck into an awkward position.
Groaning in pain, Will gathered up his courage and pressed his wounded arm into Travis' throat.
Something had to give...and be damned if it was going to be him, Will thought.
The hand that gripped the phaser was beginning to get precariously close to pointing toward Will again.

Winded and in a lot of pain, Will pressed harder into the throat. Seconds later, Will watched as petechiae began to form in Travis' eyes just before a nauseating crunch of cartilage was heard...and Travis fell limp.

captain's log:
evidence presented to the volerian officials exhonorated the federation from all wrong doing.
voleria has agreed to remain within the alliance
with the provision of assigning their own liaison.
personal regrets have been passed along, in lieu of formal ones to the members of the gaylord family for their loss'. the enterprise has been reassigned to a hopefully uneventful mapping expedition as i have granted shore leave on the nearby planet pacifica to members of the crew who are not needed.

It had been three days since Riker had returned to the Enterprise. Other than discussing the facts of the away team mission with Deanna, little else had been said between the two. They were within three hours of Pacifica and he wanted desperately to ask her to join him. Locating the Betazoid in her office, Will strode

"Hi." Will watched her place a PADD down before she looked up at him. "You're not still angry at me are you...I mean about going after Travis?" He waited for her to reply but instead she just sat there and stared at him. "Listen, it was either him...or me that was going to walk away. And I leaned a little toward me being the one to-"

"It didn't need to end that way, Will. You could have waited for support." She had never, until now, questioned his commanding motives or actions. But it bothered her to a great degree that he placed himself in such unnecessary danger. Fortunately, it 'was' he that walked away. But it only reminded her of one of the many reasons she chose to ignore their desires as they served with each other.

Will felt her hesitation and concern. Cowardly, he began to back out of her office, stopping in the doorway he sheepishly added, "I have rented a sailboat. I plan to depart from Isal Harbor in the morning." He turned to walk away and spoke softly, "if you would like to join me," as he exited.

Deanna placed a hand to her head, brushing back a strand of hair that dangled near her eye. "Great. Just great," she sighed.

Bright moonbeams from Pacifica's legendary satellite danced across the rippling water of the small inlet that was the home to Isal Harbor.
With the help of the harbor master's son, Juan, Will Riker finished stowing his gear away in the forty foot sloop quicker than expected and was able to take in the view. Gazing out into night, past the lights of the port, he could see where the inlet opened up into the Emerald Ocean.
A gentle breeze blew across Will's face, bringing a lonely and jealous smile as he listened to amplified laughter coming from a nearby beach. Without looking, he could tell it was the type of laughter only lovers made...because it was the type he used to share with Deanna.
Standing next to the only mast on the boat, he looked back toward the harbor office, sure that at any moment...he would see Deanna Troi asking for directions to his boat. An amused chuckle skipped past his lips when he realized what a vivid and highly imaginative mind he had.

Will gave the boat a good once-over before deciding to turn in for the night. But before he stepped down into the darkened cabin, he found himself looking over his shoulder, looking toward the harbor office...one last time...just in case.

The heat of the early morning sun was already making a statement as it beat down on Will's back. From one extreme to another, he mused.

Tossing off the mooring lines, he carefully guided the boat from it's slip and into the inlet, passing by a couple of fishing trawlers on his way out to sea.
The old fashioned lighthouse was the last thing between his boat and the open water. Squinting into the sun, Will felt his mouth drop to the deck as he spied the most beautiful sight he could ever have imagined. There...leaning against the outside wall of the lighthouse stood Deanna.

Rocks surrounding the man-made peninsula made it impossible for Will to get close enough to her. Luckily, a short pier stuck out from the other side of and he was able to pull next to that.

"Looking for a ride, lady?" Will joked, trying to calm the pounding in his ears as he watched her gracefully walk toward the boat.

Tossing her duffel bag to him, he helped her onto the deck, making sure she had her footing before letting go of her hands.
She was wearing a large tan hat that matched the flowery wrap around skirt and tight...very tight halter top. Will struggled to breathe as he watched her move to the aft deck.

"I thought you might be a little safer to sail with, than those men on the fishing boats that passed a short time ago," she laughed.

"I wouldn't be so sure," Will mumbled.


"I said I would certainly say so," he cleared his throat. Deanna smiled.

Will helped her settle her things before the boat headed out to the open water. Raising the mainsail, he turned the engine off and let nature's energy propel them away from the mainland.
Hours later, nature's energy had died almost completely and they were now peacefully drifting along, without a care in the world.

The large swells gently rocked the boat back and forth slowly. Deanna had been feeling Will's stare for some time now as she lay on the deck sunbathing. She met his gaze with only one eye. The other one remained tightly closed as the sun glared off the water.
He was sitting near the tiller with his feet resting on the grabrail, his chin resting in his palm, watching her. He reminded her of Earth's historical statue called 'The Thinker', except Will's pose was a bit relaxed and distorted.

"Enjoying the view, Commander?" Deanna startled him from his fantasy.

Smiling, he rose from his spot and stretched. Raising his hands high above his head, he flexed the muscles in his upper arms, then lowered his hands to the side and puffed up his chest.

Deanna giggled as she watched him remove his deck shoes and chuck a thumb toward the water. "I think I need to cool off," he grinned then dove overboard.

She sat up and never took her eyes from him. The way he exploded from the water when he came up for air made her tingle with anticipation. She was certain he was flirting outrageously and she loved every second of it.

He climbed the rope ladder and stood on the deck once again. The water droplets clung to his chest hair but slid down his smooth back. She could tell his skin was already beginning to bronze from the sun because his shorts were hanging a bit lower than they should have been, and she was able to see the contrast in color.

Pulling a bottle of lotion from near the tiller, he strutted up to Deanna. "A little help please?"

The corners of her lips tugged into a smile. 'Two-can play at this game' she thought.

"Sure." She poured an ample amount of the oily fluid into the palm of her hand and began to slowly rub the substance first over his shoulders and back.

"I'd hate to get the winch handles greasy." He thought that sounded like a good excuse. And truthfully, it made perfect sense.

"Uhhmm," she answered outloud. Then bit her bottom lip out of fear of allowing any more pleasurable moans escape.

Holding Will's shoulders firmly, she turned him to face her. She poured more lotion into her hands and began to slide them over his upper arms and onto his chest, massaging the muscles as she went. Deanna forced herself to look into his eyes. The beautiful blue pupils could only be compared to the blue of the ocean they sailed in. Feeling his intense desire burning within, she wasn't ready to concede the game just yet.
She looked down to her hands that had made their way to his abdomen. Gently working their way downward, she allowed two fingers to trace inside the waistband of his shorts, making him flinch.

Pulling her hands back quickly, she turned and headed down the stairs into the cabin. "I think I'll make us some lunch." Deanna glanced back to Will before her head disappeared under the hatch to find satisfaction only after hearing him whimper.

Sandwiches were layed out on the counter, and Deanna was just preparing to make lemonade when Will came below deck.
"Looks great. Thanks." He walked behind her, purposely pressing up against her back.

She began squeezing the lemons when she felt his hands slide down the length of her arms to her fingers, making her shudder in the ninety degree heat. He pressed his cheek to hers.

"The key to good lemonade is you have to roll...the lemon between your palm and your fingers...like this."
His large hands engulfed hers as well as the lemons as he mimmicked the movement. "Thats it...hold it firm."

Of course the underlying meaning of his lesson on fresh lemonade was to be totally inferred. And Deanna inferred quickly. She dropped the lemons and turned within his arms, feeling his oily chest against hers.
"Uncle," she groaned.


"Uncle. I give...you win."

Will's eyes twinkled with understanding. Drawing a deep breath, she pulled his head towards hers and kissed him until both were forced to pull away gasping for air.
Holding his hand, she guided him to the bedroom. Pressing him down to the bed, Deanna glided on top of him, stroking his erection with her thigh as she kissed him deeply, fighting his tongue for leverage.

This was for him. For the first time since the Jalara Jungle, she was opening herself to her Imzadi. To be a sacrifice to his ravenous mind, rewarding him with every ounce of pleasure she could muster.

And he gratefully accepted every bit of it.

'I love you...Imzadi' was the last intelligible phrase she heard before each mind fell into a swirl of utter ecstacy.

and the people said...