Title: Superman
Author: IzzY
Rating: R
Paramount owns it all!


The away team materialized in a small grassy field not far from the blazing building of the Honura Science Station. The Enterprise had picked up the distress signal from the research planet only forty-five minutes earlier and reached the station using maximum warp. Unfortunately, it became quite obvious to the rescue team that they were too late, as the station was now completely engulfed in flames and thick black smoke.

"Doctor, any life signs?" Commander Riker coughed as he inhaled a small amount of the pungent fumes.

"Negative. But the heat might be playing tricks with the tricorder." Doctor Crusher squinted her eyes against the heat radiating from the flames.

"Scan again."

"Commander, it is highly unlikely that anyone could have survived the heat emitting from the center of the station. Unless they made it outside the building," Data gave his grave assumption.

"Scan again." Riker ordered once more, this time a little more forceful. He watched Beverly make another futile attempt before she was forced to turn away from the smoke and heat.
"Data, is there any indication of anything hazardous to us as we stand here." Will shielded his nose and mouth with his hand.

"Nothing directly life threatening. But I caution going any further without respiratory masks until we are able to put out the flames."

"Agreed. I want one last scan for life signs before I order the Enterprise to form a vacuum around the building and remove all consumable oxygen." Will gave a solemn look to Doctor Crusher. "Can you get any closer, Data?"

"Close enough to get a definite answer."

"Make it so. Then report immediately back to the Enterprise."

"Aye sir."

Two hours had passed since Data reported the grim news to the senior officers gathered around the oval table in the observation lounge.

"Twenty-three dead." Captain Picard found it difficult to look at the somber faces of his comrades. "Starfleet has requested that we remain here until a full investigation has taken place," he paused, "and we must make an attempt at recovering the bodies."

"What was the station used for, Captain?" Counselor Deanna Troi raised her eyes to meet Picard's.

"Medical research. Doctor?" Picard passed the question on to Beverly.

"They handled diseases and illnesses that are common among races other than human. Anytime a planet is inducted into the Federation, the station was put in charge of any medical ramifications it might have. For example, the effects of a human being exposed to Bolerian flu...that type of thing."

"Will there be any hazards to the investigation team, should we come in contact with anything?" Will shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The thought of contracting a disease with unknown complications didn't sound too inviting.

"The computer files that we were able to download from the Starfleet mainframe suggested no viable microbes at the time of the fire. And if there were, I doubt they too could have survived the heat and flames."

"Very well." Picard rose from his seat. "Number One, form the away team. I want this investigation and recovery done as soon as possible. We are needed in Sector 339 as quick as possible. That will be all."

"Aye sir." Will pushed his chair away with the back of his legs as he stood. He watched Picard leave before continuing. "Beverly, I want you and a small team in charge of the body recovery." He watched her head nod. "While Data, Geordi and myself will try to figure out how this happened." His eyes moved to Deanna who was anxiously sitting, waiting for her orders. "Deanna, I'm not sure that you-"

"Will, that is why I'm called a counselor. I want to go." Deanna looked to Beverly, then backed to Will. "The medical team may need me there."

The commander studied the olive-colored face he already knew too well. Her strong personality and determination clearly overshadowed any hesitancy she might have in regrards to her own well-being. She certainly had the gift of altruism, he thought. "Very well. We will meet in Transporter Room Three in one hour."

Will leaned against the table, palms flat against the cool surface. He watched everyone, except Deanna, file out through the door.

"You're troubled. Talk to me." Deanna spoke softly, folding her hands as she placed them on the table.

"Nothing...really. I'm fine," he said as if he really thought she'd believe him.

Deanna watched him straighten up and yank at his uniform jacket. "Will, you have been this way ever since the inquiry into the Pegasus. Surely you're not doubting yourself or your abilities. Are you?"

She nailed it perfectly. He wanted to scream, 'Hell Yes I am doubting myself!' but chose to look away from her gaze instead. He felt her move up beside him, shivering slightly as her arm move around his waist.

Will's words were hesitant as he spoke, "'everything' I do...'every' action I take is being evaluated by Starfleet. If I make a mistake now-"



"Don't make a mistake. Go on as you have as if it were just any other day."

"Easy for you to say." He shook his head.

"Will, don't do this to yourself. The captain knows...the crew knows...I know...that you are by far, the most capable Commander in Starfleet. We have the same amount of confidence in you that we had a week ago, or a year ago. Seven years ago."

Will finally looked at her. Those dark eyes seemed to always have some sort of magical calming effect on him as if they were his very own island; a place where he could run to and hide. A place where he could find strength, peace...love.
He smiled. Despite the way he still felt, she could always make him smile.

"You know..." she moved to sit back down in her chair, a playful smile creeping across her face, "someday, Commander, I will be honored by your presence in my office, and I will offer advice that you have voluntarily sought...and you will listen."

His head jerked toward her, having missed her amused look only seconds before. "Are you saying that I don't take your advice?"

"Do you believe in what I said a few minutes ago?"

Will scratched at the hair on his chin and cheeks, not offering an answer.

"That's what I thought." She rose and walked to the door. "When you are ready, Will, you know where my office is."

He let out a long breath as he watched the door close behind her.

His confidence in himself had been severly shaken during the inquiry by Admiral Blackwell. The close scrutiny by Starfleet was unnerving and pretty damn frightening. There was a reprimand issued on his personal file and he knew that his chances of getting his own ship anytime soon had been cast off into dead water. There were now questions regarding his loyalty to the Federation as well as his dedication to Starfleet.

He chuckled. "A question of loyalty."

Will turned to look out one of the windows in the room, focusing on the stars that stood motionless against the blackness of space. From the time he was a small child he knew his future lay within those shimmering lights. And now, that future was in question.

His stomach churned at the thought of losing something that had cost him so much to attain.

Afterall, he had already paid a heavy price for his career.
He had lost Deanna to his damn career...a career that was about to take a nose dive.
'Fat lotta good that did you' Will thought as he turned to leave, wondering what else he was going to have to lose for the sake of 'loyalty'.


The odor emanating from the charred remains of the building was rancid, at best. Though the recovery team wore face masks, Beverly knew the gamy stench perforated the thin cloth and would became trapped in their nostrils for hours afterward.

Doctor Crusher had found most of the bodies huddled together in what was probably a cafeteria of some sort.
Fourteen from there, five in what would have been the lab, and another seven scattered throughout the remainder of what was left of the building.

Most, if not all, the bodies had been partially consumed by the fire. And at first inspection, those whose trachea's remained were free of char, which meant they died prior to the flames. The others were burned to the bone or beyond.

Deanna was actually the unfortunate soul who had found the most intact body. He was inside what would have been a bathroom (only assumed due to the plumbing that had survived). She had done well until that point at helping Beverly and the others wherever she could.
But she had wandered away for moment to catch her breath when she happened the macabre scene.
He was laying against a short wall with his forearm shielding his eyes. Because he looked so normal compared to the others and because she was so inexperienced at this type of thing, her first instinct was to bend down and touch his forearm; making sure he truly was dead.
Except that when she touched him, the flesh in that particular area came off in her hand.

After a high pitched scream and a short bout of nausea, she found herself being comforted by Beverly.

"Are you sure you are okay?" Beverly had taken her protective gloves off and held her friend at arm's distance.

Deanna too had removed her gloves to wipe her eyes. "Sorry, I didn't use much judgment."

"Why don't you go-"

"Doctor Crusher, look at this!" One of the medics that was looking over the newly discovered body yelled.

After a scan of the tricorder, Beverly's eyes widened.

<Crusher to Riker>
A few seconds past.
<Riker here>
Beverly thought his voice sounded strained.
<Will, I think you are going to want to see this>
<I'll be right there>

Deanna conjured up the courage to walk to the body once again. After a few seconds, she saw what held everyone's attention.

"Is that a phaser wound?"

They had only began the investigation an hour ago, but all three men looked like that they had fallen into pit of coke dust. Their protective one-piece jumpsuits were completely black and their faces were a sooty mess. Geordi was forced to wipe his VISOR clean numerous times; it was impossible to tell where Will's beard started and finished; and Data's yellow eyes stood out like they never had before.

The investigation had been thorough and conclusive. Riker had just informed Captain Picard that the fire began in the lab. A leak in a gas line (caused by nearby construction) was ignited by an old fashioned high temperature sterilizer. The result: one quick explosion followed by intense flames and heat throughout the building.

Will was moving a metal beam out of Geordi's way when he heard Beverly's page.
<Crusher to Riker>

He bent and laid the beam down to the floor, lacerating his inner forearm on something sharp.
<Riker here> He pulled his gloves off and held a hand over the streaming wound.
<Will, I think you are going to want to see this>

<I'll be right there>

"You okay, Commander?" Geordi asked.

"Yeah. I'll have the doctor look at it when I get there. After you and Data are through here, get back to the ship."

"Aye sir."

Will's face was wet with sweat by the time he reached Beverly. Traces of white skin could be seen through sweat trails across his face.
Beverly could see immediately that he wasn't feeling well.
"Will, are you alright?"

"I cut my arm on something back there." He gestured with his head back in the vicinity of Geordi. "I'm feeling a little woozy right now."

"Before I get you back to the ship, I want you to see this." Crusher pointed at the body laying near her feet.

"So much for an easy explanation as to what happened."
Will frowned.

Beverly kneeled down by the body. "And look here at the-" She was interupted by the large body of Commander Riker collapsing behind her.

<Crusher to Enterprise...emergency...two to beam directly to sickbay>



"Well Commander, you seem to have done it again," the red-haired doctor sighed after completing another scan.

Will, who had only recently come to, tried to sit up.

"No, don't." She placed a hand on his chest, gently pushing him back down. "Looks like this time, I get to be the lucky one who has to figure out what the heck you've contracted," she said referring to the time Doctor Pulaski treated him for a disease caused by a predatory plant, that nearly took his life.

"I thought you said nothing could have survived the fire?" Will questioned.

"I did. And I was right. But what has happened to you was caused by chemicals reacting to the fire, creating some sort of new compound. And your arm happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Great," he sighed. "Other than dizziness, I feel absolutely fine. In fact, I feel better than fine...I feel great."

"And you should! Other than the dizziness and one other 'minor' side effect, you seem to be in better health than I have ever seen you in."

"So what's the problem?"

Beverly smiled. "Well, it seems as though...you have lost all your... hair."

"What?" Will gasped and immediately ran his hands over his bald head and face." His eyes filled with horror as he jumped up from the bed, in-spite of the vertigo.
He looked to Beverly before his eyes slowly widened again as if he just realized something else.

Taking a deep breath, he slowly pulled away the neckline of the sickbay gown and looked down his body.

"Oh god," he exhaled.

Beverly placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I have every confidence that you will have no problem growing it back, Will. As fast as your arm wound healed-"

"I'm bald!" Will shook his head and sat back down at the edge of the bed.

"I think what I'm about to tell you will make you feel better." Beverly watched his incredulous eyes meet hers as she explained what was happening to the First Officer.

later, in the observation lounge.......

"His reflexes, agility, strength...has multiplied by at least five times over! He's become kind of, super...human" Doctor Crusher explained to her fellow senior officers.

"How is he feeling now Doctor?" Picard asked.

"He seemed to be a bit tired. I followed him to his quarters before I came here and he kept closing his eyes as I made him something to eat. But he claims he feels great."

"Is there any reason I should be reluctant to let him get back to work?"

"No. He's a little depressed about his hair," Beverly watched Picard grin, "but I think he can handle it."

"Counselor, I would like an evaluation from you, before I send him back to the planet to help the investigation."

"Yes, Captain." Deanna spoke.

"Is this similar to what Barclay went through?" Geordi asked.

"No. If I recall, Barclay became more intellectually superior, where as with Will, its more the physical ability. He has the strength of Hercules but the gentle touch of neurosurgeon" Beverly glanced quickly to Deanna, slightly smirking.

Deanna caught the look and merely shifted in her seat.

"And I am guessing that this is probably only temporary. As soon as the chemical compound breaks down in the body, he will go back to normal," Beverly added.

"How long?" Picard asked.

"Could be a day, could be a week. I don't know anything about the compound."

"We will postpone any further investigations until morning. That will give the medical group time to finalize the autopsy reports." Picard looked to his friends seated around him. "There will be another meeting tomorrow at 0600 hours to go over the findings.
Counselor, will you give Commander Riker that information when you see him?"

"Of course Captain."


Beverly caught up to Deanna at the turbolift. "Do you mind if I go with you? I would like to check up on Will one last time before I bury myself in the morgue."

"No. I don't mind." Deanna's lips curled up at the corners. "So, he really lost...'all' his hair?"

"MmmHmm. You should have seen his face when he looked down at his chest. I thought he was going to cry."

"Poor Will." Deanna moaned as they entered the lift.

"I told him it would probably grow back quickly." Beverly leaned against the wall, "he cheered up when I told him about how 'all' his other physical abilities were enhanced," the smirk returned to the doctors face.


"Well, its true. I wasn't going to lie to the man."

"I just hope his 'super powers' fade away quickly. I hate the thought of him relying on them for any length of time. He's already doubting his ability as it is. I can't imagine what will happen if he gets used to them and they fade away."

Beverly nodded as they reached the door to Will's quarters. Without hesitation, Deanna keyed in his personal code and opened the door.

The two woman simultaneously came to a complete stop as they spotted Will in his bedroom, holding his hands above his head...jumping.

He heard the door close and he knew they had seen him so he tried to present a lame excuse. "I was just stretching."

Beverly giggled. Deanna knew he was lying but didn't know why.

Will shifted his eyes back to the floor as he walked into the livingroom, not looking at his visitors.

"Will, are you alright?" Deanna sat on the couch, pleased to see his hair was already returning to his head and face. It appeared that he had nothing more than a crew cut and hadn't shaved in a day.

"Fine. Why?" he answered.

"Because either you find the floor more interesting than us...or your neck is hurt." Deanna watched him move to the other side of the room.

Will cleared his throat. "Well, it seems as though I can...sort of...see through...certain materials," he choked out.

Beverly pulled her tricorder out from a pocket and scanned his eyes. "Certain materials? What...certain materials?" she sounded accusatory.

"Well," he smiled, still not looking at either woman, "Starfleet uniforms...for one thing."

Beverly's face turned red as she decided it was time for her to leave. "I will have Doctor Selar come by later to check up on you." She figured it was best that a man be the one to perform the next scan.

Deanna watched Beverly leave as she remained seated on the couch, undaunted by Will's latest ability.

"So," Deanna folded her hands across her legs, "tell me how your new abilities make you feel?"


Will continued to fight the urge to stare at Deanna. Though he desired to see the all-too seductive figure hidden behind the uniform, he also wanted to be a gentleman about his new abilities. The more questions she asked, the longer she talked, he knew he was going to be in trouble.

"Will, are you listening to me?" Deanna leaned forward.

He shook his head. "I'm sorry. Its just that I'm a little distracted."

Deanna tried to sound serious. "How are you going to handle sitting through the meeting in the morning...or work on the investigation, when you can't even look at me?"

"Because I don't think that I am going to have this problem when I look at the Captain, or Geordi,...or Worf."

"So you think you can control your 'vision'?"

"If I concentrate, yes." And as long as I'm not with you,he thought.

"Then concentrate. It's hard to talk to someone when they refuse to look at you."

"Deanna, I-"

"Look at me Will." She slid across the couch and placed her hand on his thigh, making him jump slightly.

He reluctantly raised his eyes to meet hers. Bending her head slightly to capture his full focus she noticed for the first time since she walked in, how wonderfully young he looked. Despite the scruff, his boyish features that had been hidden under that beard for the last six years, seemed to dance out. Especially the dimple in the middle of his chin.

Will's innocent cherubim expression coerced a smile from her lips.

"Better?" he asked.

Deanna's voice seemed to hang on the lump in her throat. His unwavering stare into her eyes made her skin tingle from the inside out, causing goosebumps to trail down her arms. Ironically, it was she who looked away; if only to rub her sweaty palms dry on her uniform pants.


"We were discussing...your feelings toward your newest ability," she managed to sputter out.

"Yes, well...like I said... I have confidence that I will be able to control it." Will smiled inwardly, knowing he had made her nervous; like a young school girl talking to her first boy.

"Good." She stood, deciding that her close proximity to him was a bit too intimate for the time being. "Then I should be leaving. I need to speak with the Captain yet tonight."

He stood as well. "See you in the morning."

She stopped dead in her tracks.
Not knowing if he was 'seeing' her, or controlling his vision now, she opted not to turn around.

"Sorry. Bad choice of words," he grinned. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Will." She started out the door.

His face bent into a mischievious grin as he watched
her backside swagger out into the hallway. Riker you're a scum, he thought as the door hissed closed.


the next morning in the observation lounge.........

The group of senior officers sat in stunned silence as the doctor gave her final autopsy reports.

"The last body discovered, the one with the phaser wound, was Dr. Jules Tabor, a chemist from the Gellen Colony on Danub IV."

"A chemist?" Geordi sounded confused. "I thought this was a medical facility?"

"After some checking into Starfleet's database, it appears that he was assigned to Honura to perform testing on a chemical found indigenous to Alta III.
A planet that the Federation only recently made first contact with."

"Data, what do we know about Alta III?" Picard asked.

"Not much, sir. They are a very elusive humanoid race that established warp capabilities within the last decade. Not much more is known."

"Captain, of the twenty-six that perished, Dr.Tabor was the only one found to have sustained a phaser blast." Beverly leaned into the table, "and there's one more thing...
it appears that another scientist was added to Tabor's research team three days ago. Dr. Louis Benson...and his body was not found."

Picard ran a hand over his smooth scalp. "Do you have any more information on Tabor's research project?"

"Enough to know that what he was studying was so important that it was given top priority and deemed confidential by the Federation." Beverly's eyes danced with curiosity.

"I will speak with the Federation Counsel regarding the confidentiality of this project. In the mean time,
I want an away team down there looking for Dr. Benson.
And try to see if you can come up with a sample of whatever Commander Riker came in contact with...the two may be related. Dismissed." Picard relaxed back into his chair. "Will, a moment please?"

Picard waited for everyone to exit before he began, "I see you have gotten your hair back."

Riker saw Picard's grin. "Yes. I saw Mr.Mott before the meeting to have it trimmed. It must have grew completely back overnight. No offense sir, but a bald head just didn't look too good on me."

Picard turned serious. "And your other...abilities?"

Riker cleared his throat. "If your asking about my vision...I am able to control it."

The captain nodded then grinned. "I am guessing that we have discovered... your arch-enemy Number One."


"Well, in children's books, every 'superhero' has a nemesis, and I'm guessing that Dr.Benson may have come in contact with the same thing you did."

Will refused to acknowledge Picard's comical moniker he was given. "So you think he might have killed all those people, just to attain these abilities?"

"Yes. And I think he will do anything to keep them. Be on guard while you're down there, Will. I don't want to see anyone else hurt...or killed."

"Yes sir." Riker turned to leave.

"By the way, does... Beverly still have that mole on her right thigh?" Picard was looking out a window when he asked this, as he didn't want Will tipped off that he was joking.

"Sir?" Will wasn't sure if he should answer.

"Just kidding, Number One." Picard held his hands up in jest. "Be careful down there."

"Aye, sir." Riker shook his head as he began to walk out of the room, stopping just as he reached the door. "Left thigh, sir. Its on her left thigh." Riker's eyes twinkled.

Picard allowed himself a chuckle as the door closed between him and his commanding officer.

The orangish colored sky creeping over the horizon signified the away team had only minutes of daylight left. Will reluctantly gathered his people to return to the ship when Data notified him of a possible life sign approximately 200 kilometers from the remains of the Honura Medical Facility.

"Why didn't we notice this sooner?" Riker questioned.

"Unsure Commander. The signal just appeared." Data checked it once more. "It seems to be moving quickly in our direction."

Riker tapped his communicator. <Enterprise, beam up everyone except Commander Data, Worf and myself>
The other members of the away team were not trained for combat, so Will thought it unnecessary to risk their lives.

Within seconds, the six science officers disappeared having taken with them, a trace amount of the compound believed to be responsible for the commanders enhanced

"Is it still coming this way?" Riker hid with Worf behind a short brick wall that had fallen during the fire.

"No sir. It seems to have stopped approximately one kilometer out."

Riker peered out over the wall into the darkened distance, squinting in the direction of where the signal emanated from.
"It's humanoid, and my guess is that it's Benson."

Both Data and Worf looked out in the same direction but were unable to see anything that far away.

"If I can see him, I bet he can see us." Riker noted.

Data shook the scanning device. "The signal is gone."

Riker looked for the shadowy figure but was unable to see it anymore. "Great," he muttered.

Off in the distance, the body of Doctor Louis Benson rendered itself invisible as it approached the three Starfleet officers.

Now standing only centimeters away, he morphed into a small ball and hid behind Worf's baldric, just as the remaining away team members beamed back to the Enterprise.


Once on board the Enterprise, Benson morphed back to his original form but still remained invisible.

Gliding unnoticed through the halls, he couldn't help but be amazed at the size of the galaxy class ship. He had only been on small transport vessels in the past so the decor was astounding to him.

Laughing to himself for being able to run wild on such a stunning ship, his morphing allowed him to dip in and out of doors, peeking into crewmember 's quarters, spying wherever he chose.
Rounding a corner at a brisk pace, he nearly ran through a small framed woman with beautiful brown wavy hair that was pulled back from her ivory colored face.

Quickly moving to the side of the hall, he watched her slow down and glance over her shoulder as if she noticed something.

Unknowing that she was being sized up like she were prey, Deanna shrugged her shoulders and continued her course to her room.

Benson followed, toying with her. First moving within centimeters of her rear, then backing away quickly. Placing a hand in the general direction of her breast, then yanking it back.

By the time Deanna reached her quarters, she was nervous and afraid, but she couldn't figure out why. There had been no one following her and yet she still sensed a presence...an evil presence.

"Computer, is there anyone else in these quarters?"

Benson jumped back against a wall. He hadn't thought about the ship's sensors picking him up.

<The only occupant of this room is Commander Deanna Troi>

Good! The ship was unable to scan him. He moved close to Deanna once again only to detour and sit on the couch.

Deanna moved into her bedroom to change. She had promised dinner with Will tonight in his quarters. Ever since word got out about his 'vision', he decided he didn't want to compromise his trust from the crew, so he would stay out of places such as Ten Forward.

A very mature decision, Deanna thought. He could have abused this ability, and probably would have seven years ago. But he had matured into a very thoughtful and unselfish gentleman. She found herself thinking of him more times than not, throughout the day.

She removed her uniform and sat in front of the mirror in the bedroom. Brushing her out the thick curls of her hair, her thoughts returned to Will.
The way he looked last night, his deep throated chuckle, his gentle touch on her arm. She felt her heart rate increase as she remembered certain aspects of the way he used to make love to her. Never the same way twice. His sensual touch, his firm muscle tone...
Deanna shifted in her seat as she found herself becoming aroused.

Benson licked his lips as he watched her undress. Her smooth skin glistened in the soft light of the bedroom.
He moved closer once again and placed his hands next to her cheeks, framing her face with his large fingers.

He had never seen anyone as beautiful as the woman who sat before him. His thoughts were lustful and evil. He couldn't think of a reason why he shouldn't do what he wanted so badly. Not a soul would know and no one would believe her. After all, the computer would testify to the fact that she was the only occupant of the room.
He would remain invisible the whole time he ravished her. Over and over again...

Deanna dropped her brush and jumped up. Eyes wide open, her breath was shallow. "Who's there?"



Silence still.

<Troi to Riker. Will, where are you?>

<Next door Deanna. Is something wrong?> Even as he spoke, he raced to his door and shot out like a canon to Deanna's room. He could tell by her voice she was scared.

Punching in the code to her room, he raced in to find her standing stiff in her bedroom.

"Deanna, I'm here. What's wrong?" He pulled her close, surrounding her with his muscular arms.

"I thought...I thought someone was in here. I sensed something very evil." She pulled at his arms, forcing him to hold her tighter.

"Sshh. It's okay. No one is here but us." He looked down at her trembling body. His hands trailed down the soft skin of her back, interrupted occasionally by the strap from her bra.


Benson nearly fell backward when Deanna stood. Backing off from his position, he raced out through the nearest wall into the hallway. Taking one glance back at the large figure running to her rescue, he said to himself, 'my dear Deanna, I'm sure we'll have fun later.' He then wandered down the hall to explore other areas of the Enterprise.


Will reached for Deanna's robe and wrapped it around her shoulders. He then sat her on the edge of the bed with her.
"I'm sorry Will. I shouldn't have bothered you."

"I hardly consider that a bother. I kind of like the idea of racing to help a woman in need. Although I guess I would have preferred it to not be so dramatic for you," he confessed.

Deanna giggled. "So I guess its dinner here, then?"

"Sure." Will stood and walked to the entry to the bedroom. "But I still get to cook."

He leaned against the archway of the doorway, about to ask her what she wanted for dinner, when he fell backward...through the wall...and flat onto his back.

All Deanna could see from where she was, was a pair of long legs sticking out from the wall.
Jumping up to see if he was okay, she noticed his top half sticking out from the other side.

"Will...oh god!"

Raising his head, his face blushing from being slightly embarrassed, he grinned. "I guess I found another ability."

ch. 7

Will laid his head down on the biobed, letting Beverly scan him once more. Deanna stood nearby watching in silence, wondering what new 'gift' might possibly show up next. First it was his enhanced reflexes and agility followed by his show of strength (unfortunately, Beverly had been the only one to witness those). Then came his ability to see through certain materials (of which, still made her a tad bit nervous). And now, he was able to somehow phase himself through walls and doors.

The door to sick bay opened, allowing Captain Picard in to watch a demonstration by his first officer.

"It seems as if, whenever a new talent first shows itself, it comes on, without warning. But I find that I can control it after that...just by concentrating."
Will passed his hand through the nearest wall.

Will smiled and turned toward Picard. "Very impressive Number One."

"The level of the chemical compound in Will's body seems to still be increasing." Beverly shook her head. "There's no way of telling what he might encounter next."

"DOCTOR! We have a full arrest coming in from deck twelve!" Nurse Ogawa hollered as she prepared the equipment that would be used.

Beverly scooted between the bodies of Deanna and Jean-Luc as the door to sick bay opened to a rush of personnel carrying an emergency gurney with the patient on top.

A short time later, the patient was stabilized and resting in another room. Beverly made her way to her office to find Will, Deanna and the captain talking privately.

Beverly brushed an errant strand of her red hair away from her face as she sat on the edge of her desk.
"Captain, has there been any reports of odd things happening recently?"

"What sort of 'odd things'?"

"The wife of that patient said they were resting in their quarters when items began to move erratically from place to place. She said when her husband stood up from a chair, he was forcefully pushed back down by something they could not see. That was when he began to have difficulty."

Picard's brow puckered in confusion.

"Captain," Deanna began, her voice still held a trace of fear as she remembered what had happened earlier, "I sensed something not too long ago, myself. It was as if someone was in my room. The feelings I received were very malicious...evil."

"Benson?" Will wondered outloud.

"If that's the case, then I suspect he is farther along in this...mutation, than the commander is."

"How will be able to find him if he's invisible?" Beverly questioned.

"I'll have Data see if he can reconfigure the ship-wide scanners somehow. To be able to pick up something out of the ordinary." Picard sighed, "meanwhile, I want everyone on heightened security. There's no telling what this man is capable of." He then left for the bridge.

Deanna shivered after the captains last statement. Now she was certain someone had been in her room. And she was absolutely certain that he wasn't there for tea and cookies.

"Hungry?" Not sure who he was talking to, both Deanna and Beverly turned to face him.

Seeing that his eyes were clearly focused on the woman next to her, Beverly sighed sarcasticly and moved to sit in the chair behind her desk. "Sure, just leave the poor woman by herself," she chided.

Feeling like a total cretin, Will backed up and asked again. "Would you women care to join me for late dinner?"

Beverly laughed. "I was kidding. Besides,I have work to do. 'Someone' has to look after our resident mutant." She reached for the PADD containing the latest lab work on Will.

"Mutant?" Will cringed. "Hey, does that mean you're one too?" He pointed at the smiling half-Betazoid before being prodded out the door by his hopeful dinner companion.


Benson cursed himself for being so careless. All he wanted was a little fun. How was he to know the old man would go and have a heart-attack?
Now, the whole ship was probably on alert, thanks to that blathering woman. He should have killed them both when he had the chance.

Deciding it would be best to lay low for awhile, he found his way to Deck 9....room 0910, in particular. The room of Counselor Deanna Troi.


Will held Deanna's small hand as they made their way through the corridors. It wasn't often that they ever showed any type of emotion toward each other in public, but for some reason it didn't matter for the moment.

Stopping at her door, Will raised his hand to key in her password. A gentle but firm grip yanked at his arm, pulling it down.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to stick to our original plan and have dinner in your quarters?"

Will understood the apprehension she was feeling. He too hated the thought of the possiblity of Benson returning to her room. "No not at all."

They continued a few feet further to his door. Still holding hands, Will closed his eyes and literally walked through the metallic closure, stopping only after feeling a tug on the arm that still held the counselor.

Poking only his head back out through the door, he gave her his classic playful grin.

Deanna rolled her eyes and keyed in his code, letting the door open through his skull.

He pulled her completely from the doorway and into his living room. Except when he did so, he pulled a little too harshly and she slammed into him, chest to chest.

She opened her mouth to chastise Will about his callous yank, but stopped after their eyes locked. They stood like that for what seemed an eternity, studying one another, neither gaze wavering from the other. The intensity of his darkening blue iris' sent ripples of electricity coursing throughout her body. She knew that look all too well. It was the same look he had the first time they made love in the Jalara jungle.

It was Will's very audible gulp that broke the silence.
At some point he had managed to release her hand from his sweaty grip. And now, that hand, along with the other, trailed up his chest and wrapped themselves around the back of his neck.
Feeling her long fingers softly pulling him forward was all the encouragement he needed. He cocked his head sideways and took her mouth wholly with his. Savoring the sweet taste of her as her tongue danced and tickled the contours of the opening, he pulled her fully to him, allowing him to revel in the softness of her breasts.

Deanna's hands stroked and caressed the broad muscles of his back. Feeling the rigidness of his shoulders, the outline of the deltoids, her hands made their way downward stopping briefly at his waist before she placed them on his firm buttocks, if only to pull that particular area closer.

He felt her hips moving against him now. Not wanting to break away from the tantalizing taste of her mouth or the erotic dance she was performing against his groin, he did the best he could at moving them toward the bed.

Piece by piece, their uniform jackets and tunics came off so not that now, the only obstacle that remained were their pants. Will, the master of clothing removal, had Deanna's pants off before she knew what was had happened.
Deanna, on the other hand, enjoyed to torture. Gently raking her nails down the midline of his abdomen, she watched his muscles become taut. Using her mouth, she toyed with the button and zipper, finally using her hands to release him from the confines of his slacks and underwear.
A slight giggle escaped as she realized he truly did grow 'all' his hair back.

Muted gasps crescendoed to powerful cries as the heated sounds of passion filled the small room.
Deanna first, followed shortly by Will, a different kind of hunger was satisfied.

Now, as both lay still, unwilling or perhaps unable to move, Will turned only his head to peek at the amazing woman next to him.
Deanna smiled as she turned to her side to face him. "Imzadi..." she whispered.

Will gathered up Deanna in his arms and held her close. With her face resting against his chest, he ran his fingers through the dark mass of wavy hair that tickled his side. "I hope 'that' won't fade away...when the rest of my special abilities do," he joked.

Deanna raised her head to look at him. "Though 'it' was enhanced and 'it' was special...I don't think you have to worry." She buried her face into the encouraged commander.

They fell asleep that way. However, little did they know...
that in a dark little recess in the corner of Will Riker's bedroom, was a head poking through the wall.
The head of Dr. Louis Benson...who had witnessed and heard every little erotic moment.
He pulled back completely into Deanna's quarters.
"So...he has special abilities as well. This is about to get very interesting," he said to absolutely no one but himself.

ch. 8

It was early morning when Will woke to a faint crackling noise coming from his livingroom. He softly kissed the forehead of his Betazoid bed partner and tenderly moved her sleeping form from his chest before sliding out from under the sheets.
The air seemed unusually crisp to his heated body. Wrapping one of the tossed blankets around his waist, he walked to the next room to investigate to source of the annoying noise.
The room was just as normal as any other time, that is, except for the trail of uniform pieces that lined the floor. Turning to check the environmental controls he was unable to see a syringe, held by an invisible hand, sliding through the air toward his neck.

The wince from the initial prick was the last movement Will made before falling to the floor, completely numb.

Deanna moaned softly when she felt warm hands sliding from her cheeks down to her belly. She opened her eyes, expecting to see Will, but instead saw nothing.
Startled, she jumped away before realizing, "I guess you've learned how to become invisible now?" It sounded more like a statement than a question.

Her query was answered with a gentle tickle from fingers roving down her left thigh.
Relaxing back down to the bed, she gasped from the erotic touch. "Will," she groaned.

Will lay face down on the floor, unable to budge an inch. Though his body was unwilling to answer to any of his voluntary physical movements, his mind still registered what he was hearing.

'DEANNA!!' his mind screamed.

Deanna's eyes closed as she felt the sensual massage from invisible fingers gliding their way toward her breasts. Shifting on the bed, she began to place her arms above her head when she heard a scream. A scream that could only be heard in her subconscious.

"Will?" Her eyes popped back open. "Oh, God...no!"

Deanna tried to roll away when Benson appeared, grappling with her, forcing her back to him.

"C'mere." He was smiling wildly.

Deanna fought as much as she could but he was too strong. "Compu-" her command was muffled by his hand covering her mouth.

Finding a finger precariously close to her lips, Deanna opened her mouth and bit down hard causing him to release his grip entirely. That gave her enough time to slide out from under him and grab Will's trombone.
She swung fast and hit him across the head, crushing the thin metal instrument.
"COMPUTER, SECURITY TO COMMANDER RIKER'S QUARTERS...EMER-" Her scream was interupped when Benson lunged for her.

"BITCH!" he yelled, grabbing her hair at the same time.

Benson threw her back to the bed. "I'll be back for you later," he hissed as he rendered himself invisible.

Deanna heard the sound of Worf over-riding the security code to Will's door. Quickly pulling one of Will's black t-shirts over her head (her uniform was scattered about in the living room) she rushed out to see Worf checking the body of the fallen commander for a pulse.

Her gasp alerted the Security Chief and the other three officers of her presence. "Will?" Deanna kneeled down and saw his eyes were open, sensing that he was alive.

"Emergency medical Team to Commander Riker's room," Worf ordered.

Deanna touched his cheek, brushing away a tear that rested on the side of his nasal bridge, before Worf rolled him to his back.

'Imzadi...' she thought. 'I'm okay. He didn't hurt me.'

His eyes conveyed to her he was thankful, and that he was sorry.
Deanna gave him a reassuring smile and held his listless hand until Beverly arrived.

Two quick scans revealed he had been injected with a central nervous system inhibitor.
"Judging by the way he seems to be healing, he should have all of his movements back in a matter of minutes," Beverly announced.

Worf and the others left in search of Benson, leaving only Beverly, Deanna and Will in the room.

Deanna first felt Will squeeze her hand. Looking at his face, she then saw a somewhat-contorted grin appear. She sighed in relief then smiled back.

Beverly signaled that she wanted to talk to Deanna in the bedroom. Gently placing Will's head to the floor, Deanna followed the doctor.

"I just want to be sure you're okay." Beverly ran the tricorder over Deanna.

"I'm fine, really."

The corners of Beverly's mouth curled up. "Yes. I'm sure you are. I mean, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that by the way you're dressed...you are more than 'fine'."

Deanna blushed. "Well, we didn't plan on having guests over, otherwise I might have put on something a little more appropriate."

The doctor's eyes widened as she performed another scan. "Deanna, did Benson touch you?"

Deanna nodded slowly.

"I don't mean to be crude or insensitive, but..."

"But, what?" Deanna encouraged.

"Well I think I am picking up something-kind of like fingerprints-only its a chemical residue. There are two sets. One must be Will's because...well...they're kind of all over the place."

Deanna shifted her stance, feeling a bit awkward and embarrassed at the moment.

"And the other is seen a lot less. I can only assume it to Benson's."

Deanna shivered. How could she ever have imagined that 'his' touch, was Will's?

"Hey...can I get some help in here?" A male voice called out from the livingroom.

The women walked back to where Will had been laying. He had managed to sit up and push himself with his legs, back toward the couch. But upon doing so, he lost most of the covering of the blanket, leaving only a thin corner to cover his crotch.

Deanna's eyebrows raised in amusement. "My, my commander. Still having trouble with your hands?"

Beverly folded her arms across her chest, strumming her chin with a finger. "Kind of makes up for the earlier abuse of his 'vision'. Don't you think?"

"Definitely." Deanna walked over next to the blushing man. Using her toes, she pulled the blanket completely off, leaving him to try and cross his legs to cover up.

"Uh...ladies?" Will found the room heat up about twenty degrees just then.

Beverly couldn't believe her friend just did that. Though amused at the pleasant site of a naked Will Riker, she turned away to leave. "I will inform the captain about the scan." Beverly gave one quick glance back before the door closed, "Tah tah."

Deanna looked down and laughed. "A little embarrassed, Will?"

"A little," he snorted.

"Good." Deanna turned. "I'll be in the shower should you need me," she sang.

"Hey!" he called out.

Deanna poked her head out the bedroom door. "Well your no good to me like 'that'. Come see me when you have regained your 'full' use," she teased.

"You'll be sorry!" Will yelled as he heard the shower turn on.

ch. 9

Doctor Crusher gave a full report to Captain Picard regarding the incident in Commander Riker's cabin. And shortly thereafter, an order was issued to readjust the ship-wide scanners for traces of the chemical found only in Riker and Benson.

Later that morning...
Another meeting was called by Picard, and this time, those only in attendance were Crusher, Riker, Troi and the captain himself. Beverly sat in a chair near Picard's desk while Will and Deanna shared the couch.

"It will take another hour before we can begin to scan for the compound," Picard sounded distracted.

Obviously Deanna was the first to notice the apprehension coming from the captain.

Picard frowned. "Somehow," he began, trying to find the right words, "the Federation Counsel got wind of Commander Riker's predicament. And they are ordering, by way of Starfleet regulation 33648.78, that you Number One, be transferred to the nearest medical research facility."

"What?...Why?" Riker exclaimed.

"Because Alta III has pulled from Federation negotiations, and the Counsel would like information on the chemical. And you and Dr. Benson are the only way they can study it...to try and duplicate it."

"That has to be breaking some sort of Prime Directive law or something. Doesn't it?" Deanna sounded desperate.

"I'm afraid they have full power to order the tests."
Picard looked to his first officer. "Will, you will be transferred to the medical vessel Lincoln in forty-five minutes. From there they will begin the tests as they transport you to Starfleet Medical, on Earth."

"Captain, with all due respect, but I refuse to be poked and prodded like some damn laboratory animal!" Will jumped up, his deep voice raising in volume.
Deanna held his hand to try and calm him down.

"If you refuse, Will...you will be forced to resign your commission. I'm sorry, but the timing is crucial, and they want you while you are still gaining in 'strength'."

Will looked to Deanna. "Captain, what about Benson? You may need me-"

"Starfleet has every confidence that we will find him without your help. And so do I." Picard rose and walked to the taller man. "See you soon Number One."
He patted Will on the shoulder then walked out to the bridge.

Beverly stood as well. She reached up and placed her arms around the Commander. She knew the tests that he was about to go through weren't going to be pleasant.
"I'm sorry Will. They rejected my offer to do the research," She said softly then kissed him on the cheek before leaving.

Will slumped back down to the couch next to Deanna.
Nuzzling up to his broad chest, she felt a tear slide down her cheek.

"I guess we'll have to continue 'this', when I get back." Will was disappointed. It took them seven years to get back to this point in their relationship. Now, once again, they would have to wait and see if it could withstand him leaving. Life could be so cruel at times.

"I guess." Deanna sniffled.

He pulled her face toward his and swallowed hard. "I love you Deanna."

She smiled, "as I love you."

"Wanna help me pack?"

Wiping away the tears that fell freely now, she answered, "Sure."

Just as they stood from the couch Deanna turned to face Will to give him another hug, except he had disappeared. "Will?"

"I'm right here." A voice said matter of factly.

"Will...you're invisible." She said dryly, placing her hands on her hips.

"Oops. How's this?" He reappeared, smiling.

Gods how she loved that smile. "Better. Thank you."

"If Benson wasn't around, do you realize how much fun this could be?" Will pulled Deanna close as they walked out of the ready-room.

"Oh yeah, Will. Just loads of fun," she said patronizingly and slapped his back.

Will and Deanna cautiously entered his room. Knowing that if Benson was stupid enough to return to the scene, they could be walking into a trap.

Will threw a bag down onto the bed and filled with all his necessities. Satisfied with its contents, Will picked it up and slung it over his shoulder. "You okay?" he asked, moving toward Deanna.



She looked up sharply then broke her frown with a hint of a smile. "Since when did 'you' become an empath?"

"I guessed." He held his arms out as an invitation for a an embrace that was readily accepted.

They held each other tightly. "I wish I could stay to protect you."

"Don't you dare worry about me," she said , breathing in his masculine scent. "I'll be fine."

<Commander Riker, the Lincoln is here ahead of schedule. Are you ready?> Picard's voice came over the intercom.

<Yes sir.> Will answered.

Deanna hung on Will's arm as they walked to the transporter room in silence. Neither wanting to say goodbye just yet.
Chief O'brien nodded and smiled to them when they walked in.
"I'll be back as quick as I can, I promise." Will bent down and kissed Deanna softly on her lips.

She smiled and whispered, "this is to insure your return." She pulled his head back to her and kissed him with such passion that it even surprised herself.

O'brien blushed and forced himself to turn away.

After a few more seconds they broke away, Will wiping Deanna's lipstick from his mouth. "How can I not want to come back for 'that'?"

He stepped onto the pad, focused his eyes on his imzadi, and nodded to O'brien to begin the transport.
Seconds later he was gone.

Deanna held her arms tightly against her chest as she slowly walked to her office. Feeling slightly safer knowing that the scan for Benson would probably be starting any minute, she didn't think twice about being alone.
Taking a seat in her customary chair, she picked up a PADD containing the day's schedule. Her first appointment wasn't scheduled for another hour, giving her time for a hot chocolate...or two.

Deanna, with steaming liquid in hand, sat back down to review a chart on Ensign Gomez when she sensed him.
Vengeance, evilness washed over her, causing her to catch her breath. Before she could call out, her badge was ripped from her uniform top and thrown across the room by the invisible Benson.

ch. 10

No sooner did Will appear onto the Lincoln's transporter pad, then he was whisked down a hall by three scientists.
"So much for introductions," Will muttered.

The trip to the lab was thankfully short. Will was sure that if he had been pushed and pulled any harder by the three overly-zealous men, one (if not all) would have been picking their teeth up from the corridor floor.
Once inside, the bag containing his belongings was tossed aside and a hospital-type gown thrown into his face.
"Hey!" Will exclaimed, severely annoyed now.

"We're not here for pleasantryies Commander. Just get undressed. You are needed in surgery as soon as possible." The oldest appearing man of the three informed him.

"Surgery?" Will stopped taking off his jacket and stared at the scientist.

"Yes. Surgery. All your internal organs need biopsied. Now if you could please cooperate..." The man's voice was as cold as the surroundings.

Will took a brief second to glance around the room as he finished removing his jacket and tunic. Stainless steel counters lined the perimeter, strange looking instruments hung from the white walls, rolling metal tables lined with microscopes...he remembered having better looking nightmares than this.

Shrugging off a shiver that crept up his spine, he began to unbutton his pants. It was then that he heard her scream.

Deanna's wrists were held in front of her by invisible vise-like grips. Looking down, she could see the indentations in the skin from his fingers wrapping around her thin bones and her hands turning a funny shade of red from the lack of oxygenated blood.
Pushed back against a wall, she felt what was probably a leg thrust between her thighs with his body pressing fully into her. But the most repulsive sensation of all was the moist warm stench of his breath hitting her squarely in the face.

"What do you want?" Deanna's voice unwavered despite the fact that her mind swirled with terror.

A wicked laugh echoed throughout the office, subsiding in a low hoarse whisper, "I want off this ship."

"I'm sure Captain Picard could arrang-"

"The hell with the captain," he hissed. "Don't think I'm stupid enough to believe that he would help me."

There was a brief pause before he continued. "What happened to your 'friend'?"

"I have many friends." Deanna gasped as she felt a shoulder hit her in the chest.

"Don't act stupid with me! You know who I'm talking about...the one who's bed you were in last night."
Deanna felt his lips hovering next to her ear, whispering. "Quite a show, by the way. I really enjoyed the it the second time, when he took you from behind."

Deanna felt her sick. This monster had been in Will's room the whole time, watching them. She turned her head as much as she could away from his foul breath.
His emotions sought to overwhelm her as she cringed when she she felt his tongue move from her ear down her cheek.

"Do you think you can do 'that' for me?" he spit.

Will ran to the sole window of the room and looked out.
Ecstatic that the Lincoln had not departed from the Enterprise yet, he took off out the door.

"RIKER!!" he heard his name yelled but did not look back.

With blazing speed, he made it to the transporter room, locked in the coordinates, and beamed himself back to the Enterprise all within a few seconds.

"Computer, location of Counselor Troi?"

<Counselor Troi is in her office. Deck->


Picard and Worf looked to each other as they heard Will's voice page for security.
No questions were asked as the captain watched his security chief rush to the turbolift.

Will ran through every wall and every door that stood in his way. There was no time to waste on running around obstacles or waiting for them to open, instead he just barreled through them.
He stopped briefly outside Deanna's office to focus his energy. His body disappeared just before he passed through her door.

Deanna was whirled around, wrists still bound, and pushed to a chair. Spying a pen used to color her nails nearby on the desk, she thought if she could only get close enough...

Benson tried to shift both of her hands into only one of his, when she broke loose. Deanna grabbed the pen and lunged for a place where she though Benson's body was.
Sure enough, she had hit him somewhere soft and fleshy. Quickly pushing the disposal button, she injected Benson with the red dye. Though it was only about a three centimeter area, it was enough to be able to see him.

She tensed up and waited for a slap, a choke...something, that would indicate his rage but instead, saw the red spot oddly moving away. After a few grunts and groans, Benson appeared, his hands flailing at something invisible that retained a choke hold on him. His face was as red as the spot of dye on his thigh. A few seconds later, Will appeared, wearing only his uniform pants and boots.

"Will!" Deanna exclaimed.

"Get out...of here Deanna!" Will grunted. The muscles in his arms bulging as he tried to restrain Benson.

She moved towards the door but was blocked when a rush of security guards, led by Worf, barreled in.
Benson saw his chance of escape diminishing. So with one final show of strength, he grabbed the arm under his chin and bent down quickly, throwing Will over his head and against the far wall.
A split second later he was gone, only to be seen by the red spot moving through a wall.
The security team gave chase but were unable to follow the spot moving in and out of doors. All they could do was stand in the hallway dumbfounded.

Deanna started toward Will, but he had already gotten up and was headed for the door. There was no way of stopping him, so she moved aside and left him to pursue Benson. Once outside in the hall, he too, became invisible.

Expecting to locate only the red dye mark, Will was surprised to find that he could see Benson completely now, even as he moved through rooms and past walls.

Will caught up quickly and dove for Benson's feet, tripping him into a display of ancients artifacts some poor soul had been collecting. Benson's surprise must have faltered his concentration, so instead of sliding through the case, he shattered it and it's contents.

Will fell on top of him punching, trying to render him unconscious, but Benson was strong. In fact, he was strong enough to overpower the commander and flee back down a corridor.

Will figured that the direction the pursuit was taking him, they would be in Ten Forward in a matter of seconds. Not the best of places for a fight, Will thought.

Sure enough, Benson ducked into the lounge crammed with off duty officers. Realizing that he could go no further forward, Will knew Benson was going to have to either back track, or make a stance among the throng of hungry and thirsty patrons.

Much to the dismay of Commander Riker, Benson chose neither.

Will watched in astonishment as Benson dove out a window, into space...

ch. 11

A gut feeling told Will that he was not ready to try
the trick Benson just pulled. Holding onto the framing
of the window above his head, Will pushed his still
invisible forehead against the cold glass, thinking
that at any moment, a frozen lifeless body would come
floating by.
Of course that was a joke. Nothing could be that

Will cursed out loud, causing those nearby to look
around, searching for the mysterious origin of the
voice. The lack of focus on himself allowed his image
to reappear just he slammed a fist into the overhead
wall. But it was only when he heard the gasps and
murmurs that he realized he was no longer invisible.

Frustrated, Will slapped at the area that normally
would have contained his communicator, except his
badge was still on his uniform jacket--which was still
on the Lincoln.
If this would have happened any other place or on any
other planet, those surrounding the commander would
have thought him to be insane. But because this was
the Enterprise, people tended to get used to strange
and odd situations.

Will smiled at his modest attire and motioned for a
young ensign to come forward.
"May I?" he reached out and tapped the ensign's badge.
"Riker to Picard."

<Picard here. Go ahead Number One>

"Benson went overboard. He decided to try a swan dive
out of Ten Forward, literally."

There was a moment of silence before the captain
spoke. <That would explain why our interior scanners
are only registering you. We are unable to track him
outside the ship>

"Damn," Will cursed again.

<The Lincoln is demanding that you return as quick as
possible. We will finish this in my ready-room. Picard

Will wasn't quite sure if Picard sounded angry because
Benson got away, or if he was angry because his first
officer--who was sworn to uphold all direct
orders--jumped ship and disobeyed.
One thing was for sure...he was about to find out.

"I must turn you back over to the Lincoln." Picard
paced the area next to his fish tank. "Though you
might have saved the Counselor from harm, this will
not look good to Starfleet."

Will bit his bottom lip to avoid causing himself
anymore trouble. "I understand sir." He pulled down on
his new uniform jacket, happy that he had something
for his hands to do.

Picard was quick to add, "we were within seconds of
being able to track him when-"

<Captain Picard to the bridge> Worf called out.

"What is it?" Picard, followed closely by Riker walked
onto the lower bridge area.

"The Lincoln is hailing us again."

Picard ran a hand over his bald head, his reserve
demeanor wearing thin. "Commander, you had better get
over there."

"Just one quick request sir before I leave, and I'll
understand completely if you deny it."

"What is it?" Picard sat down and crossed his legs,
attempting to look calm.

"Let Deanna come with me? I mean, if Benson is
around...somewhere out there...and he 'does' seem to
have an affinity for her, wouldn't it be best if she
left for awhile. After all, the Enterprise is going on
a routine-"

"Yes." Picard spoke softly.

"-mission to the Gelbart Array and-"Will obviously
didn't hear the answer.

"YES! I said yes, Number One! If she chooses to, I
will allow her a one week leave." He watched the
younger man try to stifle his relief. "Now, use your
speed and GO! She will beam over shortly."

"Thank you sir." Will was through the turbolift and
back aboard the Lincoln before Picard was able to
finish his long sigh.

A few hours later, and several light years away from
the Enterprise, Will woke from his surgery to find a
soft velvety hand brushing hair from his forehead.

Unable to see past the bright overhead lights, he
licked his parched lips and spoke softly, "I know that
is not a hand of one of those so-called doctors."

Deanna leaned closer, shadowing his face with her's,
"Hi. How are you feeling?"

"Better now. Glad you decided to make it." He stared
deeply into her brown eyes.

Deanna ran her hand along his cheek to his neck,
coming to a rest on his chest. "It was sort of
suggested that if I didn't go, I would be pulling
third shift for the next month."

They shared a chuckle, Will noticing he was feeling
better by the second. He placed his much larger hand
over hers and pulled her to him so that her face was
barely a centimeter from his. "He didn't hurt you, did

Deanna smiled and shook her head. "No."

Will threw his legs over the side of the bed, "So, how
are the accommodations?" He joked as he looked around

"I am on deck two, and...you are on deck three." She
waited for his reaction.

"Your kidding, right?"

"No. They only way they would allow me to beam over
was if I agreed... to not have sex with you while you
are being tested."

Will looked disappointed then smiled wickedly, "There
'are' ways around that, you know."

She grinned back. "Yes. I'm sure you could find ways
of manipulating the order. However, I promised them
that I would comply. And after the amount of
embarrassment I suffered when Captain Picard stood
there the whole time I listened to the conditions of
the agreement, I think you deserve to wait another day
until we reach Earth."

"In that case, I guess I'll have to make
Will waggled his eyebrows as he gazed over the perfect
form of Deanna Troi.

"You never learn, do you?" she laughed and pushed him
back to the bed, but he caught her wrists and pulled
her with him. "Will!" she admomished.

Just then, two scientists walked through the door.
"What, my I ask, do you think you are doing?" They
stood, arms folded as Deanna removed herself from
Will's embrace.

"I'll be in my quarters." Deanna scurried out through
the door to let Will take all the blame. She had had
enough embarrassment for one day already.

Will sat back up and found a small glass jar thrust
into his chest. "What's this for?" he asked.

"I would imagine that after what we just witnessed,
you should be ready to give us a sample."

Will looked confused. "Sample. Sample of what?" Then
it registered. "Oh, come on! What do you possibly need
that for?"

"We were able to obtain a sample of every other fluid
during the surgery, except semen."

"Well, get Deanna back in here! I'm not doing this!"

"Commander Riker, if you refuse, there are other ways
to obtain what we need." The head doctor removed a
large syringe from his pocket and uncapped the needle.

Will's eyes grew large. "Could I at least have some

The two men looked to each other and nodded. "We'll
wait outside the door for when you are finished."

"Nothing like a little pressure, eh fella's?" Will
yelled as the door closed behind their backs.

The remaining trip to Earth was quick. Will had spent
most of the time in the lab as the scientists gathered
information on his bio-rhythms, vital signs, and other
non-invasive procedures. But the bulk of the testing
of his 'abilities' would come at Starfleet Medical.

Will and Deanna were transported, via shuttle, to the
main building of Starfleet Medical Research. After a
brief informational meeting with Dr. Freeman, the head
doctor of the facility, Will began his demonstration
of his abilities. It was then, that he learned his of
his newest one.
While lifting weights in one of the exercise centers,
Will could hear Dr. Freeman, who was in an office far
away, speak:

"You were a fool to have come here, you should have
stayed away. You knew Riker was on his way. We told
you we would take care of 'everything'! Now leave
before he discovers you're here."

ch. 12

Deanna sighed heavily as she stood on the balcony of
her temporary apartment, overlooking San Francisco
Bay. Somewhere, beyond the mist and the fog was the
calming view of the water below. She had tried
numerous times, laying on the couch, to center
herself; to cleanse her mind of all that had happened
recently. But the handsome face of Will Riker seemed
to always appear.
Not that that was such a bad thing, she thought.

She tried to pass off the visions as just being a
result of what he was going through at the moment; the
pain and struggles of the tests. But the more she
thought of him, she knew it to be otherwise.

He did it again to her, she sighed again. She had let
her guard down for what seemed like a mere instant,
and he took advantage of the moment.
Or did he? Maybe she was the one who took the
Deanna laughed silently at the thought of being the
After all, it was 'his' warm laugh, 'his' wonderfully
gorgeous azure eyes, that cocky boyish grin, the
gentle caress of her hand that drew her to him again.
Yes, she concluded, it was all 'his' fault. He did
indeed, do it to her again.
And she was going to enjoy every last bit.

Walking back into the living room, Deanna found
herself glancing at the chronometer.
It was only ten minutes since the last time she had
looked. And forty-five minutes from the time Will was
due back.
The research team had barred her from attending any of
Will's tests the first day, but said she would be
allowed to be in attendance after that. They gave no
reason, nor did she pursue the issue. What little
information she knew regarding Dr. Freeman was enough
to know that he was not one to question.

Throughout the day, she felt a wide variety of
emotions coming from Will. At the beginning, she
sensed his nervousness, followed by tension, then
irritation and anger. The most recent emotion, was
something she couldn't quite put a finger on, though
it continued to linger on. It seemed to be a
combination of surprise, fright, and disbelief.
The emotion was strong. Strong enough that Deanna felt
the need to lay down and try to focus on it. After a
few minutes, her concentration was broke by the sound
of the door alarm chirping. "Now what?"
Deanna rose and pushed back her frustration as she
asked, "Who is it?"

"Ensign Abby Hunter."

Deanna recognized the name from the brief tour she was
given earlier in the day and placed her hand on the
door plate.
The door opened revealing the slim young nurse holding
a PADD in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

"Sorry to bother you Counselor, but Commander Riker
asked me to tell you that you shouldn't expect him
until at least 2100 hours. Dr. Freeman is having to
run some tests over again."

Deanna's raised eyebrows gave away her curiosity.

Hunter smiled softly, slightly embarrassed, she added,
"Commander Riker was performing a strength test and
accidently ran himself through a wall...forgetting to
phase shift. He was knocked out for a little while."

"Is he alright?" Deanna asked, trying to remain

"Oh yes. He came to, as if nothing had happened.
Though the wall to the men's locker-room looks to tell
a different story."

Deanna could no longer quell the chuckle that rose in
her throat. "Yes, he does tend to get distracted
easily," she managed to finally say.

Hunter started laughing as well, coming close to
spilling her coffee on the floor. Deanna moved aside
and motioned, "Would you like to come in for awhile?"

"Thank you but I will have to take a rain check. I am
headed to another meeting. Have a good evening

"Thank you Ensign." Deanna watched the door close
before making her way back to the couch.

Will was escorted back to the apartment by two large
Elasian security guards. Both even taller than
He didn't have the energy to argue that he knew how to
find his way back so he just let them lead.

"Thanks gentlemen," Will opened the door to enter.

"We will be back at 0500 hours. Have a good rest

Will shook his head, trying to fight the memories of
when he was back here, at the Academy when late nights
and earlier mornings seem to be the norm. Contrary to
the rumors and legends, women weren't always the
reason for those late nights either. However, there
were a few times...

The soft glow of the single lit light in the hallway
was enough to be able to see the slender form under
the blankets of the bed. Will felt awkward at just
crawling in next to her. Hell, they had not even had
the chance to discuss what happened a few nights back,
let alone the sleeping arrangements for the trip.

Leaning against the door frame, he watched her sleep,
deciding he would wait until morning to tell her what
he heard, or rather what he thought he heard. By now,
he had second guessed himself into believing he had
misunderstood Freeman. Anyway, there was no need to
wake her now.
He looked back over his shoulder at the couch. "I
guess its me and you," he whispered, as he reached for
a pillow from the bed.
Exhaustion from the days activities finally won over
and Commander Riker fell fast asleep; with his legs
hanging over the armrest of the couch, bent at the

Deanna sensed when Will entered the apartment. Perhaps
feeling a little childish, she faked being asleep and
waited to see what he would do. There was a part of
her that was nervous and anxious, especially knowing
that he stood nearby watching.
And yet there was another part that wanted him
desperately to crawl in next to her. A part that
wanted to feel his warmth laying by her side, a part
that wanted to feel his touch.

Her body trembled when she sensed him coming closer.
Unmoving and unable to breathe for the moment, she
could hear her heart pounding in her ears as she felt
him reach down and...
grab a pillow?
From the corner of her eye, she watched him walk away
carrying...a pillow??
Not quite sure if she was disappointed or relieved,
Deanna rolled to her side silently, not wanting him to
see that she was awake.
This time it was she who did the watching. From the
bed she could see as he removed his shoes and exercise
clothes. Laying down in nothing but his underwear, she
frowned as he looked absolutely pathetic. Legs hanging
over the edge, arm dangling down to the floor; the
view made her wish she truly was asleep. Now she was
forced into deciding to wake him and bring him to the
bed...or let him lay there all night uncomfortable.

"Damn," she muttered.

ch. 13

Black is described as the absence of light.

And Will Riker found himself in the midst of such
blackness, squirming, trying to break free from
whatever was digging its nails into the soft flesh of
his arms and legs-binding him tight in their grasp.
He could feel the blood, his blood, trailing down from
the wounds inflicted by his unseen assailant(s).

He tried to scream dozens of times but his voice
seemed to fall silent as it crossed his parched lips,
leaving his throat raw from the strain. For a brief
second, he felt the nails release their lock from his
skin. He jumped up as fast as he could and blindly ran
further into the darkness.

Stumbling from his lack of orientation, he threw his
arms out to catch himself as he fell.
Except he didn't land. He found himself instead,
floating in space, near the outside of the Enterprise.
Maneuvering himself to a window, he looked in and saw
all his friends; Picard, Geordi, Data, Worf.
Will hit the window fiercly, but they continued on
with what they were doing, completely oblivious to the
fact that their First Officer was naked outside the
Even his attempts to phase through the titanium was

Will then moved along the hull, hitting every window,
trying to get anyone's attention, but still nobody
Frustrated and scared, he slid down to the next deck
and saw something that frightened him even more so.

Cupping his hands on either side of his eyes to
prevent the glare from interfering, he saw Deanna
laying unconscious, trapped by a raging fire in the
livingroom area.
His heart sank and his stomach lurched forward as he
was absolutely helpless. He turned away to feel the
cold titanium hull against his back, his body jerking
in convulsions but producing nothing. Unwilling to
look again, he silently slid down the hull and out
into space, watching as the Enterprise disappeared
into the stars.
As the ship became smaller and smaller, he thought for
sure he could hear her calling his name.


Tears streamed down his face, knowing that it was only
his imagination playing games with his mind.

"Will?" her voice grew in dynamics.

He looked around but saw only the stars around.

"Will...wake up!"

He made once last attempt to scream, and this time...
he suceeded.

"Will...ssshhh. You're dreaming, its okay... open your
eyes." Deanna kneeled down next to the couch, holding
Will's broad shoulders, shaking him gently. Sweat
beaded profusely down his forehead and chest, making
it appear as if he had just stepped from a shower.

Will bolted upright, nearly knocking Deanna backwards.


With his heart still pounding and mind still racing,
Will looked around the room, stopping when his eyes
finally met Deanna's. Feeling slightly more relaxed,
he wiped away the wetness from his face.

"Thank God," he whispered.

Deanna moved to sit next to him, reluctant to put her
arm around his sweaty torso. "You okay?" she asked.

Will nodded as he tried to remember the details of the
nightmare. "All I remember is darkness...pain,
then...floating in space...watching the Enterprise fly

"Maybe that was a sign that you can do what Benson
did, survive in space?"


He stood from the couch, still somewhat perplexed as
to why he could not remember much more. He turned to
say something to Deanna but stopped when he saw the
amused look on her face as she stared at his midriff.

Will looked down and saw that his boxers were
plastered against his wet skin.
"Guess I need a shower," he said, not quite sharing
the same amusement as Deanna.

Sensing he was still troubled by the dream, she stood
and held his hand. "Will, go shower and try to relax.
And you don't have to sleep on the couch." She kissed
his cheek and whispered, "I don't bite, and I don't
snore- I promise."

Will gave her a fleeting smile before heading to the
bathroom. Deanna waited to hear the water turn on
before she crawled back in bed.

A short time later Will emerged from the steamy
bathroom with only a towel wrapped around his waist.
The shower seemed to have helped and he was anxious to
get back to sleep. He slipped into a fresh pair of
underwear and slid quitely into the bed, trying not to
wake Deanna.
With her back towards him, he cuddled up next to her
and wrapped an arm over her abdomen.

She still had not fallen asleep and was acutely aware
of his embrace. Deanna pressed her body backward into
his torso, wanting to feel his warmth. She felt him
tightened his hold just before he drifted off into a
deep sleep.

The emotions she sensed from Will now was pure
contentment so she decided to not push anything,
despite what she herself was feeling. The smell of him
was driving her crazy and the feel of him against the
small of her back sent chills up her spine. She forced
herself to put her desires on hold and just held his
arm to her breasts, smiling as she too fell asleep.

The next morning, Deanna woke with will and prepared
breakfast for him. He seemed jittery already so she
passed on making coffee. He didn't even seem to notice
as he raced about the room getting ready. Neither
spoke of the dream the night before and Deanna decided
she would wait for Will to bring it up, if he chose

The remainder of the day went quick. Deanna wondered
if that wasn't because Will seemed to have his
afterburners on all day long. Everything he did, where
ever he went, he did with great energy and speed.

Dr. Freeman came in with the morning chemical level
results and noted that they were still increasing.
Which was probably the reason for his hyperactivity.

Deanna felt a shift in the doctors emotions from
earlier. He now seemed to be nervous as he gathered up
the PADDS he used for the finished psyche tests.
Deanna cautiously follwed the team as they led Will
back into the exercise area, leaving Freeman to
analyze the results.

Will saw Deanna snicker at the hole in the men's
locker room wall and nudged her gently. "I thought
they could have used a door there," he added.

Abby Hunter smiled as she heard his excuse. She leaned
over and whispered to Deanna. "I think the Commander
just wanted to show off when he changed clothes."

Deanna laughed. "Now that...I believe."

Will gave her a goofy grin before being pushed down to
the floor by another doctor. After his routine of
strength exercises, Will was told he was free to go.
He eyed Deanna the whole time they explained what he
could and could not do. He ignored every bit.

Deanna caught his look as he walked to her. "Shall
he offered his arm for her to take, but she chose to
grab the least sweaty part of him, his hand.

His lustful look turned mischievious as he whisked her
up and ran with her out of the lab, Deanna scolding
him the entire way.

A few seconds later, they in front of the door to the
apartment. Frustrated, Deanna gave up trying to fix
her wind blown hair and with a sigh, she ordered, "put
me down."

Will grinned, "Only if you ask nicely."

Deanna pursed her lips and feigned a smile.
"Please...put me down."

Will dropped her feet to the floor and opened the door
for her.

"You're such a gentleman," she said dryly.

Will moved to the side and allowed Deanna to move past
him. His eyes roaving downward as he watched her hips
sway as she walked, he grinned evily as he now saw
through her dress.



"You're doing again."

"I know." He waggled his eyebrows despite the fact
that she refused to turn around.

Deanna looked out through the window in the kitchen,
knowing that if she looked at him now, they would
never make it out of the apartment for a nice dinner.
"Where would you like to go tonight?" she asked.

Will leaned against the far wall and crossed his arms
against his chest.

"Will?" Deanna made the fatal mistake and turned to
look at him.

The look in his eyes said only one thing. Deanna felt
her cheeks blush as she turned to stare out the window

A split second later, he stood behind her.
Placing his hands on her shoulders, he slid them down
her chest, stopping briefly to caress her breasts
before continuing downward to her andomen and finally
her inner thighs. He stopped when his chin rested on
her shoulder.

She let out a faint pleasurable moan when she felt his
lips, warm and moist against the skin of her neck.
Will stood and pressed his hips into the small of her
back, returning his hands to her breasts to knead and
pinch the tips.

Deanna immediately felt his arousal against her back.
She cocked her head to the side, giving him free reign
to kiss and suck the soft flesh.

Turning to face him, she now felt felt him aginst her
abdomen. With a twinkle in her eye, she raised an
index finger and poked him in the chest, "Now you be

Will grasped the finger and placed it in his mouth.
"I'm always nice," he mumbled, sliding the finger in
and out of his lips.

Deanna replaced the digit with her mouth, letting her
tongue perform the erotic dance between his lips.

Moments later, they were on the floor of the
livingroom enjoying the first of many copulations that
would follow.
Deanna had lost count after four. Now, by her own
choice, she forced herself to appease Will using
different methods, if only to save herself for later.

Will's appetite was voracious and unsatiable. Deanna
was unable to keep up with his energy level. Though he
maintained his unselfish attitude and Deanna was
grateful for that, she was beginning to tire.

Will leaned back against the headboard, relishing the
latest erotic moment, he looked down to Deanna.
She knew she looked like the Wreck of the Hesperus so
she chose to not look up.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to shower. Feel free to
join me..." Deanna jumped off the bed before he could
pull her back. Releived that he did not even try,
Deanna hopped into the shower.

Will folded his hands behind his head and sat proudly
like a smug playboy. 'I think I could get used to
this,' he thought.

Ch. 14

Deanna wandered out of the bathroom no more dressed
than when she went in. The air outside the steamed
room was chilly, forcing her to grab her thin robe
that hung on the wall. Taking a deep breath, her nose
picked up a heavenly scent coming from the kitchen.
Peering around the corner she spotted Will, wearing
only his boxers, removing a steamy bowl of rice from
the replicator.
"Hi," he said, never making eye contact with her.

Deanna stepped into the kitchen smiling as she eyed
the delicious looking salads adorning two placemats.
Glancing to the counter, she saw he had made some sort
of soup, bread, and had poured two glasses of wine.

"I thought this was the least I could do, after what
you went through." Will finally looked up grinning
from ear to ear.

"You make it sound like I endured the worst time of my
life," she said sitting down in the chair he pulled
out for her.

"Well...I guarantee you didn't have as much fun as I

"Don't be too sure of that."

"Wanna have another go at it?" he stopped what he was
doing and looked at her. Lifting one eyebrow up,
making it look like it was a challenge.

"What, and leave all this food to waste?" Deanna
stuffed a forkful of lettuce in her mouth just in

Will chuckled, "maybe later."

The meal was eaten in silence as words seemed
unnecessary at this point. Deanna knew what Will was
feeling because of the way he stared at her; his
flirtatious eyes never seemed to leave her the whole
time they ate. It was painfully obvious that he was
still hungry for more sex.
Lustful thoughts accompanied by erotic images of
herself projected unashamedly from within his head.
Deanna nearly choked on a cucumber when a vision
entered her mind in regards to that particular
Will merely smiled lasciviously at her reaction.

Deanna made it through the night envisioning that this
is how it would be like for her in another ten years
as she entered 'the phase'. She would be able to seek
revenge on Will then. Of course assuming that he would
still be around at that point.

An early morning message from Dr.Freeman indicated
that Deanna was not to attend this day's testing.
Slightly discouraged but somewhat thankful, Deanna
waited for Will to leave before returning for some
much  needed sleep.
Three hours and one shower later, Deanna
was notified of an incoming subspace communication
from the Enterprise. Sitting down at the lone computer
terminal in the apartment, Deanna was greeted by the
smiling face of Beverly Crusher.

"Hello Deanna."

"Hello Beverly, its nice to see you."

"Nice to see you too. I had a moment so I thought I'd
check up on our 'wonder-boy'. How's everything going?"

"Well, seeing that I have been able to sit in on only
one testing session...I guess good. Will's chemical
levels seem to continue to increase though."

Beverly looked concerned. "Increasing?"

"Yes. Is that bad?"

"Just a little strange is all. I would have thought
that by now it would have leveled off and started
decreasing." Beverly looked away as if she was reading
something. "Has he shown anymore special abilities?"

Deanna must have been blushing because Beverly's lips
curled into a wicked grin as she spoke. "His energy
level has increased tremendously... and he said his
hearing has been enhanced."

"Ohhh," Beverly said smiling. "And?"

Deanna felt her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment.
She paused, trying to find the right words. "He has
trouble sleeping," she blurted out quickly.

"And I'm sure you find ways to...occupy the time?"
Beverly snickered.


"Okay, okay...I get the picture, even if you are a
terrible story-teller. But back to that chemical

Deanna relaxed, grateful for the change in subject.
"Freeman assumed that was the cause of his
hyperactivity. That has been the only information that
they have shared. They seem to like to hide
information from me, I've noticed. They won't tell me
why I can't attend today's sessions either."

Beverly looked confused. "I will see if I can get any
information from them and let you know."

"Thanks Beverly. I'll look forward to hearing from you

And with that, Beverly's face disappeared as the
screen darkened.

Later in the evening...

Deanna sat on the balcony enjoying the first view of
the bay since their arrival. Hoping Will would be up
for a walk along the waterfront, she waited anxiously
for his return.
Ten minutes later, she sensed heavy emotions from him
as he approached the apartment. Something told her
they would not be leaving once again.

Will opened the door and immediately spied Deanna. He
knew there was no way he could hide his emotions from
her so he openly brandished them.
"Where is my lovely imzadi?" he said playfully.

Deanna looked through the large glass window at him,
knowing that he could easily see her as well. Once
again, she sensed erotic thoughts eminating from the
man she loved dearly. But looking at him as he opened
the glass door to the balcony, there was just a hint
of something else laying under the canopy of the love
he tried to show.
Something else that she did not like at all.
Something dark.
Something almost violent.

Deanna stood quickly at his approach. If it wasn't for
the rail behind her, she would even have stepped back
away from him.
"I've missed you," he said preparing to gather her in
an embrace.

Deanna stiffened as he pulled her to him. Placing her
hands on his chest, she pushed away shaking her head.
"Will, what's wrong?"

"Nothing! Why do you ask?" He moved forward, backing
her to the rail.

"Because I can feel it." She put her hands on his
upper arms, halting his progression.

"I thought you liked what you felt last night," he

"This is not what I felt last night. Will, what's
happening to you?"

His face was a twisted mess of anger and arrogance.
"I...am perfectly fine. In fact," he turned away and
sat in a chair on the opposite side of the balcony, "I
am better than fine, I am incredible," he said as he
grinned bigger than life.

"Will, this is not you." Deanna stepped forward
cautiously. "You are not the same person that made
love to me last night. You are not the same person who
showed so much compassion...so much selflessness."

Will stood quickly, making Deanna jump back. "Oh but
that is me. Don't you get it Deanna? I am all
that...and so much more! I can do anything I
want....have everything I need. These powers...they
enable me to do things I can only dream of." He almost
looked insane now in trying to convince her of this.

He walked to her once again. "Your not jealous of me,
now are you?"

"Why would I be jealous?" she couldn't believe what
she was hearing.

"Because I have abilities that far outweigh yours. The
fact is... I no longer need you as an assistant."

"An assistant? Is that all I am to you is an
assistant?" Deanna was growing furious.

"Don't worry, love...I still need you for other
'things'. I mean, even if you are only a half-breed.
Half-Betazoid is better than none. You kept up well
last night..."

Deanna reached back and flung her hand, slapping him
hard across the cheek. "You arrogant son of a bitch."
Fuming in anger, she pushed past him and walked out,
slamming the front door behind her.

"tsk...tsk...tsk," he clicked his tongue. "You'll be
back." Will rubbed his cheek, "and you'll be sorry."

ch. 15

Deanna raced down the hallways and out of the
building, distancing herself as much as she could from
Will and his careless remarks.
Seething with anger, she tightly clinched the reddened
hand that still stung from the slap.
"Of all the arrogant, self righteous..." she muttered
as she flopped onto a bench outside the building.

Unwilling to surrender herself yet to the tears that
would certainly fall, Deanna tried to focus on her
rage rather than his callous intentions.

Then she remembered the fear. The direct fear of him.

She looked around quickly, half expecting Will to dart
out at any moment and whisk her back to the apartment.
In a sick and twisted way, this was almost the same
type of feeling she sensed when Dr. Louis Benson was
stalking her on the Enterprise.
But it was Will this time who was giving off such
strong malevolent emotions and not Benson. That much
she was sure of. Despite his hideous attitude, there
still remained an undercurrent of his adornment for
her. Perhaps it was the way his eyes roamed her body,
or the way he pulled his hands grasped her arms...she
was certain it was her imzadi.

But then again, stranger things have happened...

Will stood on the balcony and looked down from his
fifth story perch. It took only a second before he
spotted Deanna sitting on a bench in the courtyard
holding her head in her hands. And though she was far
away and kept her face hidden, he sense her anger
He raised a foot and rested it on the bottom rail on
which the remainder of his body leaned against,
supported by his elbows.
A wicked smile crept across his lips as he watched her
head raise, followed by her dark eyes.

She met his unwavering stare with eyes that might have
chilled the Opal Sea.

Will remained in the same spot watching, as she rose
and walked backed into the building. His smile quickly
faded and his face turned sour when he heard in his
head, 'I know who you are'.

Ensign Abby Hunter had just finished giving report to
the next shift  when Deanna barreled into the nurses

"Where's Doctor Freeman?" Deanna asked slightly out of

Abby refused to look up and merely acknowledged
Deanna's presence. "Counselor."

"Abby, I need to talk to Freeman. It's an emergency
concerning Commander Riker."

Abby frowned, "I'm sure it is."

"Dammit Abby, why won't you help me?" Deanna gripped
the chair infront of her until her knuckles turned

Abby let out a frustrated sigh and glanced around the
room, making sure no one was paying attention to her.
"Because I can't," she whispered.

Deanna looked confused, "What? Why...?"

Abby pulled Deanna to the corner, out of sight of
those in the room, "not here...not now. Meet me
downstairs in the restaurant in ten minutes."

Deanna nodded, satisfied that she would finally get
some information and walked out.

Deanna noticed that her anger towards Will had been
replaced by genuine concern. Something was happening
to him and she was determined to find out.

Sitting in a booth in the restaurant, Deanna pushed
away her anxiety and patiently waited for Abby. It had
already been fifteen minutes and she had yet to show
up. Deanna kept an eye on the entrance just in case
she would miss her enter. Thirty minutes went by with
no sign, no message...nothing.

After forty-five minutes, Deanna concern became so
overpowering that she decided to leave and look for
the young Ensign. Taking the elevator back upstairs,
she was pushed aside by a squad of security personnel.
Following them to the floor where she had just talked
to Abby, Deanna looked past the crowd of people
gathered and covered her mouth. Before looking away in
horror, she saw Abby laying face down in a pool of
blood, her neck twisted in an abnormal position.
Her mind raced in terror as she heard someone say the
word 'murdered'.

Running back in the direction from which she came,
Deanna wanted to scream. "How could this happen?" she
thought out loud.
Standing outside the medical facility, Deanna slumped
to the ground on her knees and cried. "help
me...imzadi," she sobbed, "please...help me."

A short time later, Deanna wandered down the
waterfront trail, trying to decide if she should go
back to whomever was in the apartment or attempt to
make  contact with the Enterprise. She could sense
that Will was alive but after that, her own emotions
seemed to cloud over everything else.

She held her arms close to her shivering body. The
chilly wind off the water blew through her hair as she
stood watching the sea gulls dive towards the waves in
search of food. Her thoughts drifted back to the
previous night  as she searched for solace amidst the
days confusion and pain. Will's passion was so
compelling and so powerful. Just the thought of his
touch made her smile.
The sun was setting over the horizon and Deanna knew
it was time to make her decision. With a sigh, she
turned slowly and headed for the entrance of the
apartment building, not knowing what she would find

The unlocked door to the apartment was not a good
Poking her head into the darkness of the room, it
appeared as if Will had left. But then again, he could
easily be here and she not know it. Hell, for all she
knew, he could have been with her the whole time.

Flicking her hand over the light panel, her eyes
squinted as they adjusted to the new brightness.

"Will?" she called out.
It was then that she heard a muffled sob coming from
the bedroom.

Her foot steps were hushed as she glided across the
carpet and down the hall. Standing in the doorway of
the bedroom, she witnessed the most pathetic site.
Will layed curled up in a fetal position, holding his
face in his hands, crying.

Jumping to the side of the bed, Deanna placed her
hands on his shoulders and rolled him so that he faced
her. "Will?"

He pulled her to him, hugging her desperately, sobbing
with relief and built-up fear.

Deanna sat on the edge of the bed and cradled his head
to her chest, slowly rocking back and forth.
"I want my life back," he cried.

"I don't understand." Deanna kissed the top of his

Will sat up suddenly. His eyes were red and his face a
sickening shade of yellow. Wiping away the wetness
from his face, he began, "I feel like I don't know who
I am. My emotions....they go from being myself
to...to...well you saw it. I can't control who I am,

Deanna held his hand and rubbed his forearm in
comfort. Feeling a large welt with her fingertips, she
looked down and noticed what looked to be red knot on
the inside of his elbow. "What's this from?" she
pulled his arm into the light for closer examination.

Will leaned, following his arm. "Its where they been
taking the blood samples."

"This isn't right Will. Have they been injecting
anything into you?"

"They said I had become anemic so they were giving me
iron injections. Deanna...I'm so sor-"

"Sshh." She held a finger up to his lips to quiet him
while she thought. Looking into his eyes, she asked,
"Will, have you left the apartment tonight?"


Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to ask the
next question. "Are you responsible for the murder of
Ensign Hunter?"

ch. 16

Will cocked his head in confusion, "What?" he said,
not wanting to believe what he had just heard.

"Abby Hunter was murdered tonight...I don't know any
of the specifics." Deanna watched Will's face change
from that yellow color to  ghostly white.

"And you think that I might have done it?" Will backed
away and sat on the opposite side of the bed as

"At first...the thought did cross my mind. Will, you
said yourself that you can't control the way you act."

He turned sharply to face her. "But I do know that I
did not kill her Deanna." His defensiveness stung. The
accusation was unfounded and clearly wrong.

"I know that now. I'm sorry I felt that way but three
hours ago, I would never have guessed you to be Will
Riker, First Officer of the Enterprise." Her voice
tapered away, "The Will Riker that I know would never
have said those things."

Will placed a hand on his forehead and rubbed at his
temples. There was a gentle quake of the bed as he
felt her move behind him. "Will look at me," she
placed a hand on his cheek and turned his head.
"You said they were giving you iron injections?"

He blinked away a tear, "Yes."

"Go look at yourself in the mirror, you look as if you
could glow in the dark. Even your eyes are yellow."

He shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'so what'.

"Will, they are lying to you. If they give anymore of
their so-called iron injections I'm afraid someone is
going to think you are Data's brother."

Deanna hopped off the bed and walked to the computer.
"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Calling for back-up. Maybe Doctor Crusher can give us
some help."

Will waited on the bed for Deanna to finish the
conversation. He could hear everything from where he
sat anyway and there was no need for Beverly to see
him this way. It was bad enough Deanna had seen him
cry, he didn't need someone else to witness it as
After a few minutes, he heard the familiar chirp that
ended the communication. With a groan, he pulled his
tall body up and walked to stand behind Deanna, who
was obviously in deep thought as she stared at the
blank screen.
Without saying a word, he gently played with her hair;
gathering it back into a ponytail then letting go,
combing his fingers through the lightened curls,
twirling a few strands...inhaling the sweet fragrance
that could fill a room. God how he loved her hair.

Will bent down on one knee and waited for her to
finish her thought.

From the corner of her eye, she saw his genuflect and
turned to face him. An instant later she was cradling
his head again in her lap, stroking his hair, trying
to offer him comfort.
"Please forgive me Imzadi," he whispered. "I am so
sorry for what I said."

Deanna bent down and kissed his scruffy cheek. "I know
Will...I know."

His emotions right now were turbulent to say the
least. She could feel him waging an emotional battle
against himself, almost as if he had an alter-ego that
was trying to escape but he kept suppressing it. One
half of him cried out in desperation and pain while
the other half schemed, trying to find a way to get

Deanna stiffened up and lifted his head from her lap.
She could see in his face the part that maliciously
wanted her...wanted her for lascivious reasons that
she could not ignore.
Scooting from the seat, she tried to back away but he
caught her hands.
"Deanna..." Will's face twitched as he continued to
struggle with his thoughts. He let go of her and
turned away. "You had better leave...now!" He growled,
closing his eyes tight in hopes that she would listen
and be gone when he reopened them.

Deanna cast away her fear and stood before Will,
waiting for him to open his eyes. Once she caught the
narrowing gaze from his darkened blue pupils, she
wrapped her arms around his waist and said
confidently, "I'm not going anywhere."

Will clung to her like a small child who had been lost
and only recently found. His embrace was so tight
Deanna found herself gasping for breath.
Slowly, she inched him to the couch where they both
sat way into the morning hours, clutching each other
as if the morning would never come.

Meanwhile......on the Enterprise........

"I don't like losing my senior officers like this."
Picard scratched the back of his head.

"Would you rather lose three of us temporarily...or
lose your First Officer forever?" Beverly raised an
accusatory eyebrow.

Picard sighed, "Very well. I will assign one shuttle
pilot for you. After you get there, I want to know
immediately what you find out."

"Thank you, Jean-Luc." Beverly turned on her heel and
left quickly.

Seven hours later, she was standing on the landing pad
of Starfleet Medical.

ch. 17

Deanna's restless sleep was once again interrupted by
Will's moaning. Squinting, she looked to the
chronometer on the desk which read 0415.
Beverly should be here soon, she thought thankfully.

Wrestling his large body from her their intimate
embrace, Deanna moved from the couch and replaced the
light blanket over his feverish body. His skin had
been clammy the whole night but it was only now that
she realized his body temperature had increased as he
lay there shivering.

The door alarm broke the silence and Deanna was quick
to answer. Placing her hand to the door panel, the
door opened to reveal the tired looking Beverly
With a long sigh, Deanna said, "I'm so glad you were
able to come."

Beverly gave a reassuring smile to her friend and
walked in, spotting Will laying in a rather
uncomfortable position on the small couch.

"How is he?" Beverly asked as she whisked out the
tricorder from her medical case.

Deanna moved to stand next to her and wiped a tuft of
hair from Will's forehead. "Right now, I'd have to say
he's stable, for the moment at least."

"Well, maybe mentally. But physically, he's a mess."

Will opened his eyes slowly, trying to focus on the
surroundings. "Am I on the Enterprise?" he groaned.

"No. You are still on Earth." Beverly smiled warmly,
not wanting to show her serious concern for her
"Deanna tells me they have been giving you iron

Will nodded, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

"Thats the last thing you need. And by the look of the
infection in your arm, I'd have to say they aren't
exactly worried about sterility either."
Beverly gave him a hypospray for the infection.
"You'll feel better in a few minutes. Tell me, do you
feel that you still have all your abilities?"

Will shrugged, it had been awhile since he had last
tried some of them. He closed his eyes and a few
seconds later, he disappeared.

"Okay, that's enough." Beverly patiently waited for
him to return. "Will?"

Will's voice, accompanied by the sound of the waste
unit disposing bounded from the bathroom. "Sorry, but
I had to go."

Beverly rolled her eyes when he reentered the living
room. "And the phase-shifting?"

Will walked through the back of the couch before
sitting down again. "Still got 'em." He sounded
slightly disappointed.

"Dr. Freeman will be expecting you soon." Deanna
motioned towards the chronometer then looked to
Beverly, hoping for her to say that Will was not going

Instead, Beverly grinned, "Get ready Commander. I
thinks its time we have a little meeting with
our...'friend'." The last word came out the same time
Beverly's face scowled.

The three Enterprise officers walked to the medical
facility with great purpose. Deanna could sense,
however, Will's emotions changing back once again to
his evil counterpart. He had allowed she and Beverly
to walk ahead of him, and now she knew why. His
thoughts were lustful and directed at both women.
Deanna stopped in mid stride, allowing him to bump
into her.

"Will..." Deanna held her arm out, motioning for him
to take the lead.

Grimacing, Will followed her suggestion and walked in
front. Beverly gave Deanna an inquisitive look only to
see the Betazoid roll her eyes in answer.

The closer to Freeman's lab they got, Will became
worse. It didn't take long for Beverly to see why
Deanna made him go first as she caught each leer he
gave to nearly every woman they passed. His actions
had become incredibly embarrassing as they had to
continuously nudge the large flirt down the hall. He
looked like a teenage boy walking through a college
dorm full of beautiful women. And it certainly didn't
take an empath to figure out what he was thinking.

Deanna walked behind him with her arms crossed across
her chest, clearly annoyed by his childish behavior.
She picked out a spot on the back of his head and
focused on it, imagining she had a red hot poker in
her hand and was pressing it to the back of his head.
She continued this until he finally stopped walking
and quickly slapped at the back of his head with his

"Problem, Will?" Deanna smiled enigmatically.

He gave her a puzzled look before turning away, "No."

Beverly grinned and continued on the short distance
more to Freeman's office door.

Dr. Freeman looked up in panic as his door opened.
"Doctor Crusher, what a surprise. I didn't expect to
see you here!"

"Nor did I expect to pay you a visit, Doctor Freeman."
Beverly waited for Will and Deanna to enter before
closing the door behind them. "Now...would you mind
telling me why you are injecting Commander Riker with
Louis Benson's blood?"

Both Will and Deanna turned to face Crusher, amazed at
what they just heard.
Freeman leaned back in his chair. "I don't know what
you are talking about," he said curtly.

Beverly looked to Deanna who shook her head. "Okay
then, tell me why in the hell you are using this man
as a guinne pig." Without looking to Riker, she held
out her arm and pointed at him.

Freeman smiled nervously, "Perhaps we can discuss this
more professionally...alone."

Beverly shook her head. "Are you afraid of the
Betazoid, Doctor?"

"Of course not! I have nothing to hide." Freeman
fidgeted with his hands.

"Then talk," Crusher growled.

Deanna was amazed at this new side of Beverly she had
never seen. Sure, Beverly was always aggressive when
it came to her patients, but never quite like this.
She was glad to have never been on the receiving end
of her wrath.

"Talk? Talk about what? That you have accused me of
wrong doings? I don't think so, Doctor."

"Then let me see his chart."


"Fine. Then I will take my findings to the head of
Medical Research and discuss it with them."

Freeman smiled wickedly, "I don't think you will be
going anywhere, Doctor Crusher." Freeman reached into
a drawer, pulled out a phaser and fired.

ch. 18

Will instinctively pitched his body forward, putting
himself between Beverly and the phaser blast. The
sickening smell of charred flesh filled the room
immediately as Will lay on the floor withering in
agony, clutching his abdomen.
Deanna screamed and fell to his side along with

Freeman leaned over his desk and frowned. "Such a
pity." He clicked his tongue against his teeth. "He
was truly a wonderful specimen."

Beverly looked up to Freeman. "He's still alive. You
must help us," she pleaded to deaf ears.

Freeman relaxed back in his chair. "Let him die. He's
no good to me now."

"You bastard," Beverly hissed, fumbling for her
tricorder in her pocket.

Freeman stood up and walked to the front of the desk,
still holding the phaser. "Now now, Doctor. Remember
your bedside manner."

Beverly ignored his remark and gave Will a hypospray
for the pain. Scanning him once more, she was
satisfied with the stability of his vital signs and
gave Deanna a nod to indicate he was fine for the
Deanna stood and faced Freeman. "If this man was worth
killing an innocent person for last night, why won't
you save him now?"

Freeman laughed, "You think I killed Ensign Hunter?
Guess again sweetie."

Deanna ground her teeth together knowing that he just
told her the truth. Then, as if the pain coming from
Will wasn't enough, she could sense another presence
in the room. It was the same sensation she felt from
Will yesterday...the same sensation that came from
whenever Louis Benson was near her.

Looking around franticly, she watched Benson appear in
the corner between two book cases.

Beverly heard the gasp coming from the counselor and
looked up. "Dr. Benson?"

"In the flesh." He smiled that hideous libidinously
wretched smile...the one that made your skin crawl
with fright.

Benson looked down to Riker then to Freeman. "Why did
you do that?"

"You idiot! You think I shot him on purpose? He tried
to be heroic and stepped in front of the phaser," more
than exasperated, Freeman explained.

"Now what do we do?" Benson said and  for the first
time, sounded nervous.

Freeman shook his head. "Because of the trauma to his
abdomen, I guess we will have to use the reserve
blood, then his bone marrow and liver biopsies to
regenerate his chemical level for you. It should hold
out as long as you can. Don't worry, your powers will
be safe."

That smile returned to Benson's lips as he looked to
Deanna and Beverly. "Good, because I will need it to
handle the two of you." He then collected the three
combadges from the officers, letting his fingers
fondle the breasts of the woman as he removed theirs.

Deanna, disgusted, kneeled back down next to Will
trying to focus on him and not the lewd remark nor the
attempted molest by Benson.

Beverly was undaunted as she tried to make sense of
what little information Freeman had just exsponged.
Apparently, they were using Will to generate that
chemical then drew blood from him to give to Benson.
Then they probably replaced some bad blood back into
Will's system to start all over again. That would
explain the bullous implant in Will's antecubital area
as well as the jaundice.
It was all making sense now.
Except, she wondered, why was Benson losing his
abilities...but Will was not?

"Do whatever you want with Riker, but I want those two
to come with me." Benson ordered.

"Yes. I'm sure he'll make for an interesting
autopsy...the old fashioned way." Freeman grinned,
looking down to the dying Riker. "I'm sure Starfleet
will understand when they are told that he died due to
complications arising from the chemical's side
effects." He then turned towards Benson, "what of
these two? Starfleet will want answers."

"That is no longer my problem, my friend. I'm sure
you'll think of something."

Will's eyes fluttered open and focused on Deanna. It
was not even for a second, but thankfully she was the
only one who saw.
~Don't go with him, Imzadi...he only wants to hurt

Deanna held his hand tightly. ~I'm not leaving you~
she thought back.

Beverly stood and faced Benson. "Freeman's right. If
you take us, Starfleet will continue to hunt you

"Not if you tell them that you are resigning your
commission..." Benson looked to both woman, "...you
two 'lovers' decided Starfleet was getting in the way,
and chose to run away together."

Beverly laughed, "You 'are' delusional."

Without looking at his target, Benson bent his knee
and kicked Riker in the head, hard. Deanna mumbled a
Betazoid curse at him as she held her hand to the new
cut across Will's cheek.

Benson looked to Beverly, waiting for an answer.
"No?" He lifted his leg this time and placed his boot
across Will's throat, pressing down against his

A second later, Will had a hold of Benson's foot,
twisting it in such a way that he  heard the tendons
popping. A cry of agony exploded from Benson's mouth
as he fell sideways, in the direction that his toes
were pointing.

"I think the lady said 'No'." Will struggled to his
feet with the help of Deanna.

Freeman's hand that held the phaser shook nervously.
"Stop, or I'll shoot you again!"

Crusher shook her head in annoyance at her former
colleague, "Oh, Shut up." She said dryly just before
she hit him up the side of the head with her
tricorder-knocking him out cold.

Will looked amusingly surprised as he watched the man
fall face down to the floor. "Nice shot."

Beverly inserted another drug into the hypospray and
shot it into Benson. Ten seconds later, he no longer
wriggled in pain but lay sleeping with his head next
to Freeman's.

"Let's go." Beverly and Deanna flanked Will and led
him out of the office.

Will cringed from the pain as he walked. Stopping
suddenly as he remembered their badges. "Badges?" he

Deanna left his side to go back and get them. Will
leaned against Beverly, who used all the strength she
had to support the tall man.

Deanna returned empty handed and severely rattled.

"What's wrong?" Beverly asked.


ch. 19

"He must have disappeared out the back wall."
Beverly's arm that encircled Will's waist gripped
tighter as she felt him pulling away, trying to go
after Benson. "Ohhh no you don't...you are in no
condition to go after him," Beverly scolded.

Will winced from the pain and grabbed the site of the
phaser blast, feeling the burnt fringes of his shirt
caked with drying blood. Crusher was right but he
wasn't about to tell her that. Deanna walked back and
helped Beverly move Will to a nearby room. From there
the doctor began barking out orders to whomever walked
Even though this was not the Medical/Surgical unit,
the supplies she needed were still on hand.

Nurses and aides flowed in and out of the room so
fast, Deanna lost track as to who was doing what.
Beverly's short stent as Chief of Medical Operations
here, still carried alot of weight. She had gained the
respect of nearly anyone who had worked under her.

Deanna had already contacted security regarding Doctor
Freeman, and watched as his body was dragged away by
two large officers. One down, one to go... she

Leaning against a hallway wall, Deanna felt Beverly's
hand on her shoulder. Turning quickly, her muscles
relaxed at the site of the red-head's smiling and
relieved face.

"He'll be fine. Lucky for him the narrow apperature of
the phaser helped reduce the damage, it could have
been far worse."

Deanna let out a long deep breath and closed her eyes.

"I'm going to leave it up to you to make sure he stays
in bed for a little while longer. He's so antsy to go
after Benson."

Deanna nodded, knowing this wasn't going to be an easy
task. Will's stubbornness could easily render anyone
to the brink of frustration, especially her. She hated
the times when he would neglect his own well-being for
the sake of others, but that was Will; and she would
have to learn to deal with it on a more intimate level

"I'm going to get clearance from Admiral Haynes to
look into Freeman's personal logs and records.
Hopefully that will give us insight into what has been
happening." Beverly looked up and down the hall, "but
first, I want to find Will's biopsies and destroy them
before Benson gets ahold of 'em. I'll be back

Deanna walked through the doorway into Will's room and
caught him trying to get out of bed.

"What are you doing?" She rushed over and gathered his
legs, swinging them back onto the bed. "I promised
Doctor Crusher that I would keep you here until she
returns. Now, don't make me hurt you..." she teased.

Despite the pleasant image of Deanna wrestling him to
the bed, Will reluctantly layed back down.

Deanna gently rubbed the bruise on his cheek. "You

"Couldn't be better."


"Then why did you ask?" he grinned.

Deanna shrugged her shoulders and smiled back. Looking
down his body, she saw the bandage covering his wound.
A chill went down her spine as she thought of how
close he came to dying. She picked up his hand and
held it to her chest.

"You okay?" he asked her.

"Couldn't be better."


Deanna's lips curled into a brief smile before she
answered truthfully. "I was just wondering when all
this will end."

Will pulled her close, "I wondered that myself", he
said, exhaling slowly.

"Beverly thinks that if she destroy's your biopsies,
Benson Will lose his powers. Since he won't be able to
feast off of you anymore..."

"Given time, he'll be caught. But until then, I don't
want you alone...anywhere."

Deanna felt the seriousness in Will's tone. She nodded
and rubbed the back of his hand on her cheek. "And
what about you? He'll be after you for your blood..."
Deanna realized how morbid that sounded and cringed.

"Don't worry about me. I'm the one with the advantage
now." Will pulled her slightly farther until his lips
met her's. "Besides, I think I know of some ways to
keep you from being alone..."

"You're not afraid of being... caught...with your
pants down?" Her lips moved across his as she spoke.


Deanna leaned into him, careful not to touch his
wound, and...

"Is that all you two ever think about?" Beverly stood
in the doorway with her arms folded across her chest.

Simultaneously, Will and Deanna pointed their index
finger at each other and said respectively, "It's his
fault. It's her fault."

Beverly shook her head. "C'mon, we're out of here."

Deanna helped Will to a sitting position. "Where are
we going?"

"Do you remember me telling you about that little
beach house I bought while I was stationed here?"


"Well your about to get to know it real well. We'll be
staying there until the Enterprise gets back from
Triskelion. They've just been dispatched there moments
ago to deliver some negotiator from Triacus."

"Great." Will sighed then mumbled a curse under his
breath as he stood from the bed.

"Doctor Pulaski," Beverly waited for her friend's
reactions, "said she would be taking over any and all
research regarding the chemical T586, as it has now
been officially named."

"Pulaski? Thank God its someone we can trust." Deanna
remembered hearing that the former Enterprise Chief
Medical Officer had only recently taken a position
planet side. The last time she seen the older woman
was nearly fives years ago, before Doctor Crusher
returned to the ship.

"She was able to get clearance into Freeman's lab and
access to all his reports. There's a chance that we
can find out where Benson is living, as well. But
until then, they asked that Will remain off campus. At
least until they can reconfigure the center's scanners
to pick up Benson's chemical fingerprints."
Beverly handed Will a scrub shirt to replace his own
that now lay on the floor shredded and full of blood.
"And they had me replace Will's blood and biopsy
tissue with normal samples. So if Benson does try to
come back for a boost...they'll be able to nab him."

"We seem to keep coming up with as many questions as
we are finding out the answers to others." Deanna
sighed as she helped Will with the shirt.

"I'm sure with the help of Katherine, we'll get this
thing figured out."

Beverly helped the still tender Riker to the shuttle
before climbing in to sit next to Deanna. After giving
the driver directions to the house, the three friends
relaxed back in their seats for the thirty minute ride
down the scenic coast line.

ch. 20

"Beverly, this is beautiful!" Deanna stood on the back
deck of the beach house, overlooking the ocean.

"Wait until you see the sunsets." Beverly walked up to
the railing and nudged her friend.

The house sat alone atop a steep rocky cliff. Looking
straight down from the deck, Deanna spotted a small
sandy area isolated by the curve of the cliff on one
side and large water-smoothed rocks that trailed out
into the ocean, on the other. This natural break wall
calmed the crashing waves and protected the beach from
any unwanted visitors. From the side of the deck, she
noticed a wooden staircase winding its way down to the

"And during the summer, you can get the best tans..."

Deanna looked to Beverly and lifted a curious brow.

"What?" Beverly tried to look confused but her
blushing cheeks gave her away. "Okay maybe once or

Deanna folded her arms in front of her and grinned

With a resounding snort, Beverly added, "Oh, like
you've never sun-bathed nude before?"

Deanna laughed. "Yes, I have...but I didn't think that
was quite your style."

"A girl can have a little fun, can't she?"

Will walked up to Deanna and wrapped his arms around
her waist. "Have fun doing what?" he innocently asked.

"Nothing." Beverly answered quickly but Deanna wasn't
about to let it drop.

"I think what the doctor meant to say was, 'nothing'
was as fun as sun bathing in the nude."

Will leaned over the rail and looked down. Turning his
head back to Beverly, his face was a mixture of
disbelief and admiration. He simply grinned and nodded
his head.

Shrugging her shoulders as if to say 'so what?',
Beverly turned on her heel and walked back into the
house, leaving Will and Deanna to chuckle between

Will pulled Deanna backward, closer into his chest.
"There's only one bedroom," he whispered in her ear.

"I know." She allowed him to tighten his embrace.

"So has she said anything about sleeping

"Mmmhmm. You get the couch, we get the bedroom."

Will turned her quickly to face him. "You're kidding,

Deanna couln't help but to laugh at his reaction.
"Yes. We get the bedroom. But," Deanna added quickly,
"she said that if you repeat what happened the other
night, she would have to make you sleep out here on
the deck."

"She knows about the other night?" He looked totally

"She kind of figured it out on her own." Deanna
nuzzled against his chest, trying to get away from the
cool breeze that blew off the water.

"Too bad its not summer," he said as his lips found
their way to her neck. "Because I think I'd like the
view from here much more...that is, if I got to watch
you sunbathe."

"Hmmmmm," she purred. "I think I sense a holodeck
program coming...when we get back to the Enterprise,"
she said laughing.

"You know me too well, Imzadi." Will continued kissing
her neck line until he finally met his goal and
captured her mouth with his.

"Doctor Pulaski said she would be here shortly. She
was on her way when she called." Beverly said as she
sat down for the dinner Will had prepared.

"Did she say if she found out anything?" Deanna asked.

"No. But I'm sure she must have if she is traveling
this far down the coast."

Beverly looked around the empty table. "C'mon Riker! I
thought you said it was ready!" she yelled at Will,
who stood outside making the final preparations.

Will walked from the deck into the kitchen carrying a
platter of grilled fish. "Grilled salmon, made...with
an actual charcoal grill!" he announced.

Both woman perked up as the savory aroma filled the
small room. Will filled their wine glasses and offered
a toast. "To a new beginning," he said with his eyes
focused on Deanna.

"To a new beginning." The women shared and clinked
their glasses.

After noticing the way Will's gaze lingered on Deanna,
Beverly finished her portion quickly and excused
herself. "I'll be on the deck, should you need me,"
her voice trailed off as she exited the room.

"Will...Doctor Pulaski is on her way here. I don't
think now is the time to start anything." She said
with humor filling her voice and removing his
wandering hand from her thigh.

"If you havn't noticed, I can do a lot of things
now...real fast," he voice was low and husky.

"The day you do 'that' in haste Will Riker, will be
the day that I get to counsel you."

He smiled and nodded. "I guess you got me there."

Just then the door alarm chimed. "Saved by the bell."
Deanna smiled and watched him rise to answer the door.

Will greeted Katherine Pulaski with a kiss on the
cheek. "Commander Riker! Its nice to see you again,
however I wish it were under different circumstances.
Come to think of it, I think the last time I saw you,
you came close to dying on me then.
A predatory plant was the culprit, if I remember
correctly. Let's hope this time isn't so dramatic."

"Agreed," he sighed and helped her to remove her light

"Deanna. You look as beautiful as ever. I love your

"Thank you," she suddenly felt embarrassed as she
heard in her head:
~But there are those who think you look even better
without the influence of a dress~

Deanna gave Will a searing look and led her old friend
to the deck to talk with Beverly, with Will in close

After a brief time of recalling old memories of thier
time aboard the Enterprise, the four officers moved
indoors and out of the chilly wind.

Pulaski scanned Will using an enhanced tricorder and
was pleased to announce that Will's T586 level had
indeed leveled off. Concluding it must have something
to do with the stoppage of iron injections and the old
blood from Benson.

"The best we can figure, is that Freeman used you as a
nurturing ground for T586. A combination of the iron
and the blood constituents from Benson must have been
keeping your level increasing. For the most part, the
tests from the beginning were legitimate, but once you
reached Earth...Freeman used excuses to get you to
participate in different types of tests to make it
look good. He only wanted one thing from you-"

"My blood."

Pulaski nodded. "Benson's body began to reject the
chemical so thats why they needed it from you."

"But what did they hope to gain from this?" Deanna

"We're still not sure of the connection between Benson
and Freeman. But according to the personal logs of Dr.
Jules Tabor, the one that you found shot at the
research facility...Benson had volunteered to be
injected with this unknown chemical. And after he
began to show signs of the special abilities...he got
greedy. Tabor tried to stop the experiment but that
was when he was shot and the place blew up. Benson
wanted to keep it all to himself. Little did he know
that Commander Riker would come in contact with it."

"Gee, what are the odds." Will grumbled as he stood to
order refills on their coffees from the replicator.

Deanna waited for Will to leave to room before she
spoke quietly, "Will has been going through periods of
anger, depression, arrogance...I have a hard time
knowing what he will be like from one moment to the

"His hormones are going crazy right now and I would
imagine that he does have a hard time controlling
himself. There also seems to be an elevation in his
testosterone level as well."

Deanna sat back in her chair. "I guess that would
explain why he's so...so..."

"Horny." Beverly finished the sentence for her.

Deanna's eyes widened at Beverly's brashness. "That
wasn't exactly the word I was looking for, but I guess
it explains it." Deanna blushed.

"Ah, been a little frisky...has he?" Pulaski smiled
and nodded her head.

"You might say that." Deanna grinned bashfully.

"Well, don't worry. I think he'll be back to the same
Will Riker soon enough." Pulaski patted Deanna's hand.

"Yea, horny," Beverly mumbled through clenched teeth
then smiled at Deanna.

Deanna was about to retaliate but Will ran back into
the room before she could say anything else.

"Its Benson...he's here."

ch. 21

Without question, the women followed Will to the

"It looks like he's already losing some abilities
because I could clearly see him lurking outside," Will
"I'm gonna assume that he can no longer phase shift as
well, so you should be safe in here." Will walked
around and made sure all the windows were secured.
"Beverly, I don't suppose you have a phaser laying
around, do you?"

"No. But there is the matador saber and a whip hanging
above the mantle," she said trying to sound
optimistic. "Oh, and a pair of shackles hanging
next...to...the...book case." Her sentence slowed and
her voice became barely audible as she felt three
pairs of eyes turning her way. "They're for decoration
only...I swear."
She had decorated the house after she bought it with a
south-western/Mexican style motif, complete with the
skull of a very large bull hanging in the living room
in front of a red cloth. Deanna and Will looked to
each, both wondering how they had missed those items

Will then rolled his eyes and walked out of the room.
Closing the door, he silently cursed himself for
leaving Starfleet without a phaser.
'A whip and shackles?' he thought and shook his head.

A shadow crept across the deck at a slow pace,
stopping at each window to peer in. Will could hear
footsteps against the wood as he turned off all the
lights  inside the house. Silently removing the saber
and whip from their positions, he then closed his eyes
and stepped through the wall and onto the deck.

Louis Benson spun around with a phaser in his hand,
firing. Will ducked the first few blasts but the
fourth one hit him squarely in the chest, knocking him
to the floor, momentarily stunned.
Benson quickly flipped the phaser over the railing and
grabbed the duffle bag he had hidden behind a chair,
pulling out various medical instruments, namely a
portable blood infuser.
Inserting the catheter tip into Will's antecubital
fistula and the other tube into an artery in his
wrist, he began transfusing Will's blood into himself.

Minutes later, he had drawn enough to feed his
immediate hunger and collected another pint for later
use. Spying the saber laying next to Will's hand,
Benson picked it up and sliced through the thin scrub
shirt Will still wore.
Feeling his body succumb to the power of the chemical
dispersing throughout his muscles, Benson carfeully
guided the tip of the blade into Will's skin, tatooing
the initials 'LB' across Will's upper chest.
"Not too much now. I'd hate to waste any of your
precious juices I'll need later." Benson wiped the
blade clean against Will's cheek, creating two more
thin gashes. "Oops. So sorry old fri-"

Will had clapped open palms against the flat sides of
the blade and pulled it from Benson's unsuspecting
hand. Staggering up from his prone position, he then
flipped the blade around so that he held the hilt with
one hand. Pointing the tip into Benson's throat, Will
wheezed, "You son of a bitch... Do you honestly think
you could come in here and get away with this?"

Benson backed up but Will followed, pressing a little
harder with each step.

Benson's lips twitched into a wicked grin. "Commander
Riker..surely you wouldn't tarnish your record by
killing a defenseless man. Would you?"

"In a heartbeat. Especially if its scum like
Will tried to shake off the after-effects of the stun,
but for some reason his vision still remained cloudy
and his heart rate had increased to a point that he
felt faint. It must be from the involuntary blood
donation, he decided.

"Look...maybe we could work things out. You know-you
give-I give something back in return..."

"You have nothing I want!" Will changed the saber to
his other hand as he felt his grip loosening in his
sweaty palm.

Benson backed up against the wall of the house,
frowning at the fact that he was not quite ready to
use any tricks yet. ~Stall...I must stall a little bit
longer~ he thought.

"Give it up Benson. You're not getting away this
Will wiped the drips of blood from his face and
removed the shredded shirt. "Maybe I should call one
of the doctors out here to drain you dry...just in
case you should decide to try anything funny."

Benson suddenly felt his hand push through the wall
behind his back. A split second later...he was inside
the living room.

Will closed his eyes and focused his energy on his
body. He lunged forward as he prepared his saber
wielding arm for a quick strike. But instead of
passing through the wall, he bounced back with a
resounding thud.
"SHIT! NO! Not now!" Will groaned, holding his bruised
head. Realizing his powers were fading fast, he
recovered himself quickly and ran to the kitchen door.

"BENSON?" Will yelled.

Will flipped on every light he passed as he made his
way to the bedroom. Opening the door, he spotted the
three women huddled by the closet door, whispering to
each other. "He's in the house," Will announced.

"Oh God! WIll!" Deanna gasped at seeing the wounds on
his chest and face.

"I'm okay." He wiped the blood from his chest with a
blanket. "The only weapon he has is his powers."

Deanna quickly recalled the grotesque site of Abby
Hunter laying dead with her neck twisted into a
freakish position. "Thats enough," she whispered.

"So stick together." He was reluctant to admit that he
no longer had his phasing ability. There was no need
for alarm. Heck he was scared enough for all four of
them anyway.

Deanna felt the lack of confidence from Will and knew
something had happened to make him feel that way.

Following Will out, she grabbed his arm. "I can tell
when he's near," she informed him.

He should known he couldn't keep it from her. He
nodded his head as a sign of concession and pulled her
close behind him. "Just let me know, and stay close."

~Head toward the replicator~ she thought to Will.

Without questioning her order, he slowly walked by the
console to the food replicator. Deanna keyed in a
request, not wanting to her voice heard. Seconds
later, a container of boiling water appeared. Followed
by another, after another, after another...
Deanna stepped in front of Will with the first
container and flung it in a circular motion,
scattering the scalding water. Will knew what she was
doing and grabbed the second container, tossing the
water in another direction.
The third container Deanna emptied, hit pay dirt.

Benson screamed and appeared for a second, holding his
reddened face with his hands. Will grabbed the fourth
container and doused it where he had seen Benson and
this time, he was unable to disappear due to lack of
concentration. The top layer of skin on his face
sloughed off when he removed his hands, leaving his
wounds open and raw.

"DAMN YOU!" Benson cried.

Will lifted the saber and swung it through the air,
stopping a fraction of a millimeter from Benson's
"You're done... Doctor Benson."

Louis Benson lifted his head and gave Will that damn
ugly disgusting smile that Deanna had grown to hate.
He then turned toward the Betazoid and slowly licked
his swollen lips pleasurably, as if he enjoyed his own

Locking with her frightened gaze, Benson then gave her
a wink...causing Will to nearly loose it.
Will brought the saber back up to finish the fight,
but Benson was too quick. He lunged into Will,
grabbing Will's exposed midsection and drove both of
them through a large window and onto the deck.
Shards of glass went scattering across the wood
flooring with small bits sticking into Will's back.

Benson landed ontop of the officer unscathed.

Crusher and Pulaski entered the living room just as
Deanna screamed. Crusher ran to glassless window frame
and watched Benson pick up a larger piece of the sharp
material, slicing his palm in the process.
Will grabbed the wrist that held the new weapon, but
Benson was obviously stronger than him now. Unable to
stop the dagger, Will moved his head and tossed Benson
off to the side.

Benson rose and stalked his opponent until Will's
lower back was against the top railing.
"I certainly hope, Riker, that you haven't lost all
your powers because..." he lifted his face and looked
out over the deck, letting the ocean breeze cool his
seared skin, "your gonna see if you can fly."
Benson lofted his body into the air, slamming Will
through the rail.

Benson managed to stop his momentum just before he
followed Riker over the edge. Looking down to the
jagged rocks below, he scanned the beach area for a
body, but saw nothing but darkness.

Breathing deeply, he turned toward the women who had
gathered near the door.
"Now what are the odds of having 'TWO' doctors on hand
to take of poor little ol' me?" Benson staggered
forward, obviously spent by the ordeal.

He was within a few feet of the women when Deanna
brought the saber that she was hiding up, thrusting it
into Benson's lower abdomen.
Benson shrieked as he felt the unstoppable flow of
warm fluid escaping from the large hole in his skin.

"You bitch! What have you done?" Benson turned ghostly
white as the flow of blood continued. "Don't just
stand there," he looked toward the doctors, "help

Crusher felt the need to hold Pulaski's arm, just in
case she seemed obligated to help a dying man.

Deanna ran to the edge of the deck and screamed for
Will. Her only reply came in the form of the sound of
waves lapping onto the beach.

With her own emotions in complete havoc, she was
unable to discern Will's presense. She screamed again.

This time, a faint moan accompanied the ocean sounds.
Deanna looked down to her feet and saw two bloodied
hands clawing at the wood, trying to hoist the body
they were attached to, up.

Deanna fell to the floor along with Katherine Pulaski.
The two women strained as they helped pull Will's
large body up. Once they got him past his waist, Will
finished the rest of the way himself. Using the last
ounce of energy he had left, he stood up. Slightly
wobbly, but nevertheless, he stood.

Which was more than he could say for Benson.
The doctor's face was mixed with anger and defeat as
he lay on the floor, clutching his stab wound.
Grimacing and with a final groan, he too finally

The two men looked at each other, with Benson ending
the stare with his infamous grin. Benson straightened
himself up, trying to look strong, and backed toward
the house.
Feeling his hand pass through the wall, he chuckled.
"Until next time..." he stuttered and began to phase
through the wall.

He got halfway through when a horrific noise sliced
through the air. It came from Benson...giving one last
scream as his powers subsided, midway through the

ch. 22

Will Riker fell to his knees in exhaustion. Trying to
catch his breath, he bent over and held his upper body
up by his arms and inhaled deeply. Feeling like he
couldn't open his mouth wide enough to take in what
his body needed, his lungs burned as they begged for
more air.
Warm hands began a painful exploration of his back.
His face winced as bits of glass were removed one by
one and tossed aside to the wood floor.
Unable to muster the strength to even  curse, he bowed
his head down into his hands on the deck and waited
for the pain to cease.
Seconds passed, followed by minutes and then finally
he heard Crusher's voice. "Let's get him inside."

Soft, gentle hands moved under his arms and pulled him
upright. Almost as if he had forgotten what happened
moments earlier, his eyes widened with horror as they
focused on the mangled and contorted body of Dr.Louis
"C'mon Will." A soft voiced urged but he was unable to
remove his stare from such a wicked yet awesome scene.

He pulled away from the tender caress of the hands and
wobbled forward until he came within a foot from the
man that had haunted them for days.
The wall had bisected Benson practicly down his
midline, save for his head that was crushed between
the exterior siding and the interior walls. The half
that was visible from where Will stood, ended with a
maceration of the neck, near the mandible.

Deanna moved up next to Will, trying to focus on him
and not the grotesque spectacle.
"Will? The doctors need to look at you."

Finally closing his eyes to the scene, Will turned and
made his way inside.

"How much longer are you going to let him sleep."

Pulaski shrugged, "As long as he wants. His body has
been through quite an ordeal. And I'm afraid its going
to take time for him to readjust back to his normal

Deanna leaned against the door frame of Will's private
room at Starfleet Medical, keeping her eyes on the man
she loved more than life itself, and nodded.

"So, when did the two of you decide to...you know?"
Katherine nudged Deanna's shoulder.

Deanna grinned but still kept her focus. "Actually, it
was just before we came here, to Earth."

"So are you going to tell me about it or do I have to
play twenty questions?" The doctor folded her arms
across her chest. "C'mon, Beverly's waiting in the
cafeteria. I'll buy you a coffee."

Deanna shook her head. "I want to be here when he
wakes up."

"Suit yourself. But you do realize that I'm going to
get Beverly's version of what brought you two back

Deanna frowned and let out a long sigh. "Let's go."

The three woman sat in a corner table of the cafeteria
trying to find  sanctuary from what had been a
harrowing week. Pulaski told them the story about a
recent attack on a Federation planet that left its
survivors recooperating here at Starfleet Medical.
The attack occured at a nearby colony and Earth
happened to be the closest Federation facility.
The attack that killed five hundred and eighty was
determined to be coup attempt by a rival party.
Included in the massacre were members of the royal
family. The only member to have survived was a six
year-old daughter, who will assume the throne as soon
as she is able to return to her homeworld.

Deanna shivered at the thought of all the violence
around her. "The hunger for power...greed...when will
it ever end?"

Beverly looked down into her tea. "I'm afraid it
We were born sinners...and will die as sinners.
Nothing will ever change that."

"One day...thats all I wish for is one day where I
don't have to be afraid to go to bed at night
wondering what we'll encounter the next
who will be the next to not return from an away
mission..." Deanna choked back tears after that last
image, knowing it could very easily be Will the next

"Deanna, I was wondering if you would be willing to
talk to the princess child. She has been unable, or
unwilling to talk ever since the attack."

She could never resist helping a child. "Of course."

Pulaski added, "I will arrange a meeting for tomorrow.
Hopefully by then, you and Commander Riker can get
situated into another apartment."

"I think I will be staying as well. The repair work on
the house won't start until later today anyway."
Beverly hesitated to talk about the clean up and
repairs needed for her house.

"Well I should be getting back..." Deanna began to
rise from her seat.

"Oh no you don't. Sit right there," Pulaski pointed at
Deanna's vacated seat, "and spill it."

Deanna blushed as she began to explain, "I suppose, it
was only a matter of time..."

The next day............

Will walked around the small apartment feeling like a
lost child who was too scared to even cry for help. He
was warned by the doctors that depression and anxiety
would probably set in as a result of his body
adjusting to the lack of T586 in his system. But he
had no idea it was going to be this bad.
He wrung his hands together and looked at the clock
again. Deanna had left for her meeting with Princess
Kel two hours ago and said she would not return until
later this afternoon. According to his clock, it 'was'
later and she had yet to return.
He glanced back into the bedroom where she had left a
uniform for him on the bed. Hoping that it might make
him feel 'human' again, he slipped into the pants,
feeling the familiar fabric slide against his skin.
He then picked up the t-shirt and began to unfold it
just as the door opened.

Deanna walked in holding the hand of the shy
blond-haired child. Who inturn, was holding a baby
doll close to her chest.
Happy that Will was at least out of bed, she gently
picked Kel up and walked into the bedroom.
"Kel, I would you to meet Commander Riker." The little
girl grasped Deanna's neck and bashfully turned away
from Will. "Will, this is Princess Kel."

Will grinned as best he could and twisted around
Deanna so that he faced the youngster. "Hello Kel. You
may call me Will if you'd like," he said tenderly.

Kel nuzzled into Deanna's neck and whispered something
before they both giggled.
Deanna eyed the half-naked Riker, "Well, I think he's
kinda cute too."

Will gave Kel a playful smile before he straightened
up and finished putting on his shirt and uniform

"I thought the three of us could have dinner tonight.
That is, if you don't mind?"

Will couldn't help but smile at the girl, "You mean I
could have dinner with the two most beautiful ladies
in the universe? I would never pass that up!" He could
tell he was feeling better already.

"Good. Let's go because I think Kel and I are nearly
starved to death." Deanna let Kel down and watched her
scurry away with her doll to the living room. She then
lifted her hand to Will's cheek and pulled him to her,
kissing him lightly on the lips. "I'm glad your
feeling better," she whispered.

"A little more of 'that' and I guarantee I'll be
feeling a lot better." He pulled her forward and
kissed her deeply.

Deanna sensed Kel was approaching so she reluctantly
back away and gave Will a mischievous look, "I guess
somethings remained the same."

"Are you disappointed?" Will looked hurt.

Deanna reached for Kel's hand and glanced back over
her shoulder as she said, "I would never want it any
other way...Imzadi."

Will grinned bigger than life and reached for his

The dinner had been quite enjoyable as Kel was the
focus of their entertainment. The youngster seemed so
happy and content with Will and Deanna, it seemed
almost a shame to send her back to a world full of
hatred and violence.

Will had managed to push away any anxiousness that
crept forward just by gazing at Deanna. If for no
other reason, she was certainly enough to live for, he
decided. Hot electrical currents seemed to pass
between them with each touch...each look. His world
that only recently seemed empty of anything worth
while, suddenly filled in with love and joy.

He couldn't wait to get back to the base and...

His thoughts were interrupted by a tug on his pants.
Looking down, he saw the green-eyed Kel staring at him
with such curiosity, as they waited by the door for
the next shuttle.
"Why isn't she your wife?" Kel wondered outloud.
Deanna snickered and waited to see how he would

"Because we...well, I guess maybe because-"
Thankfully, the next shuttle pulled up to the
restaurant's door. "This one's for us." Will said
quickly, gently turning Kel towards the door.

Kel stopped dead in her tracts, turned and ran back
inside, shrieking that she had forgotten her baby

"I'll go." Deanna placed a hand on Will's forearm and
followed the princess back inside.

Will climbed into the shuttle and had just found a
reasonably relaxed position when he felt the whole
world shake around him.

Unable to see past the fire and smoke, Will climbed
out of the shuttle and over bodies that lay scattered
Squinting into the haze, he finally noticed that over
half of the building had exploded and was now engulfed
in flames.

"DEANNA!!" he cried.

ch. 23

Will grasped the shuttle driver by the shoulders,
trying to get the man to focus on the directions he
was about to receive.
"Contact Starfleet! There are officers inside the
building, we need an emergency beam out! Do you

The man nodded his head and waited for Will to finish
loading in the bodies that would fit inside, then
turned the shuttle for Starfleet Medical.

Will stared at the damage and became very aware that
the blast originated in the dining area and not the
kitchen. Which probably meant that a bomb was the
cause for the explosion.
Covering his mouth with his hand, he attempted to make
his way inside of what was left of the building. The
dense black smoke limited his view to barely a meter
and caused him to stumble over burning chairs and
fallen beams.
"Deanna?" he struggled to yell.

There were cries and screams coming from all
directions, which made it terribly difficult to
discern Deanna's voice from any other. Fear gripped
his very soul at the knowledge that she very easily
could have been near the center of the blast. The
table where they had just eaten dinner was no where to
be seen now. The chairs that they had sat lay as
smoldering splinters strewn about like toothpicks.
Will collapsed to his knees, unable to breath through
the pungent fumes and thick smoke.

"Deanna?" he gasped again as he spotted Kel's baby
doll laying under the blazing bar. "Kel?"

At the same time he reached for the charred doll, a
small hand grabbed his wrist. "Dea?"

Will grasped that hand  and noticed that it's body lay
under a table that was crushed by a partially
collapsed support beam.
He tried with all his strength to lift the beam, but
it wasn't about to budge. Falling down to his knees
again, he cradled the head of Deanna Troi as best he
could, trying to give her comfort. "They're gonna be
beaming you out any second. Just hold on!" He wiped
the bloody curls from her face. "Oh, God Dea...just
hold on!"

Deanna mumbled a word but Will didn't hear. Leaning
his ear down to her face, he listened again to her
raspy voice, "Kel," she sputtered.


Deanna nodded her head in the direction of the
bathroom. Will glanced toward the hall and spotted a
foot coming from under a collapsed wall.

"Go to her," Deanna pleaded.

Will layed Deanna's head back down and crawled over to
the foot. Taking a quick glance back, he watched
Deanna's body shimmer away as the transporter locked
onto her. Without hesitation, he then removed his
badge from his uniform jacket and placed it on the leg
he now knew to be Kel's.
Will hunched up and braced his back against the fallen
wall, and stood, taking some of the weight off the
small child.
He then wiggled free of his jacket and threw it over
the girl's shivering body. Crackling noises from
overhead diverted his attention for a moment. Glancing
up, he saw parts of the roof hanging down just above
him and Kel.
'Get her out of here' his mind screamed.

A second later, the child was gone and the roof and
ceiling came crashing down on top of Will Riker.

ch. 24

Flames roared all around him now as he lay there,
crushed and trapped by the fallen ceiling. There was
to be no escape this time...no super-human powers to
aid him...no last second rescue from the Enterprise.

So he closed his eyes and waited...

His mind was bombarded by images of his life...of
How incredibly cruel life is, he thought.
Of all the other near-death experiences he has had,
that right now-this particular time-that it should be
taken away like this.

He could feel the intense heat against his back. The
flames, mere inches away.
It won't be long now...

~I'm sorry Imzadi...please forgive me for not having
the courage to make it through this. I lo-

His eyes popped wide open as he realized he had not
recently  told her 'he loved her'.
Dear God, he thought...what a fool.

He strained one last time to try and move. There was
yet another crackling sound as more ceiling came down
next to him, landing in such a way that it moved the
previously fallen section, with his own body acting as
a fulcrum.
Turning his head slightly, he saw that a small opening
had been created to his left.
~DEANNA........HELP ME~ his mind screamed.

Will Riker straightened his left arm out, clawing for
anything that he could use to pull his body. Then, as
if he began to drift away to a dream, he heard.....
~Will, come to me. You have the strength to do it.
Please. I know you do~


~Get your ass up Riker and MOVE.....NOW~

Will gritted his teeth together and pushed up with his
arms, feeling them quiver under the strain, he began
to raise the ceiling from his body. Slowly, he saw the
opening grow in size.
Seconds later, he rolled from under the weight of the
collapsed roof and crawled his way in the direction
where he thought the exit was.

The closer he got, he could feel sprays of cold water
tickling his face, cooling the his baked skin.
The smoke began to fade as the water broke through the
holes in the walls and ceiling, creating some
Using what little energy he had left, Will stood and
walked through the mangled exit and into the waiting
arms of rescue workers.

"So nice to have you back, Commander!" Katherine
Pulaski said sarcasticly as she scanned the half-baked
body of Will Riker.


"She's here and she will be fine. As will Princess
Kel." Pulaski smiled, "you are quite the hero to that
little girl...you know that?"

"I didn't do anything." Will tried to lick his parched
and swollen lips but found his mouth was just as dry.

"We are infusing you with fluids now. You might be a
little tender for a few hours, but I think you'll
recover quickly."

Will looked down his body. The flame-retardant uniform
worked for the most part as it seemed that only his
exposed skin was reddened and blistered.

"Tell me something, Will," the voice of Beverly
Crusher echoed in the small triage room, "are you a
magnet for trouble or do you go out looking for it?"

Will didn't even try to answer, he just looked at her.

Beverly walked up to him and kissed him lightly on the
cheek, "thank you."

"For what?" he groaned.

"For being the Will Riker I have grown to love," she
whispered, feeling incredible admiration for what the
man had been through.

Will watched her leave just before Pulaski gave him a
sedative to allow him to sleep.

"Rise and shine, Commander Riker!" A nurse opened the
shades to his room, revealing a sunny morning. "You
have been discharged."

Will yawned and sat up, squinting past the rays of
light that beamed through the window. "What time is

"Its 0800. And I believe you have an eager visitor
waiting in the hall. Would you like me to show her

Will held up a finger, asking her to wait as he looked
in the mirror on the nightstand. His skin looked like
he had a sunburn but nothing more and the blisters on
his hands were gone.

"Don't worry, sir. You look as handsome as ever." The
older woman winked and moved to the door, opening it
to allow Deanna inside.

"Thank you."He heard her sweat voice say from the hall
just before she walked in. A second later, Deanna was
standing next to the bed, leaning down hugging him

"Will," she whispered as she nuzzled her head into his

Will sat up, kicked his legs over the side of the bed
and pulled her even closer; delighting in her scent,
enraptured by the feel of her against his bare chest.
He kissed the top of her head once then gently pushed
her back so that he could look at her face.
He saw her mouth begin to open to speak but he quickly
placed a finger against her lips to quiet her.
"Before you say anything else...before we leave this
room, there's something I need to tell you."

Deanna studied the intensity in Will's expression. He
looked frightened but yet determined to speak. She
watched him swallow hard, then raise his eyes to meet
her's. Their connection was so powerful, a laser beam
couldn't have severed it.

"I have cheated death so many times, Deanna, I thought
for sure fate had finally caught up. I have taken a
lot of things for granted that I now know I should be
thankful for. And for some unkown reason, whatever
higher power that is out there has found favor in me.
I can't explain it...nor do I want to understand it.
Is it luck?
I don't know.
But I do know that the only thing I am
absolutely...one-hundred percent...without a
doubt...perfectly clear on...is that I love you." He
stopped to watch her eyes fill with tears. "If thats
the only thing in my life that will remain a
constant...then call me the luckiest man in the
He pulled her close again. "Deanna Troi...I do love
you," he whispered into her hair, resisting the urge
to scratch his bare chest free of her streaming tears.

"Imzadi," she breathed deeply into him. Pulling away
just enough, she captured his lips with her own and
bore him tenderly to the bed.

For just a few minutes, the world around them
disappeared. There was no immediate danger, no one
lurking in the dark shadows, no threatening
presence...there was only the two lovers in a universe
all their own.

At least until there was a knock on the door.

Deanna sat up quickly and tried to compose herself the
best she could. Will couldn't have cared less who it
was and sat back against the raised head of the bed,
frustrated. Deanna glanced down quickly and threw the
sheet over Will's lower half just before Beverly and
Princess Kel walked in.

"I hope we aren't interrupting anything," Beverly said
with a hint of a mischievous tone in her voice.

"No," Deanna answered for the both of them for fear of
Will's response.

"Mmhmm," Beverly smiled and walked Kel to stand next
to Deanna.

The little girl grinned at Will. "Thank you," she said
then disappeared behind Deanna.

Will chuckled and sat up again, this time mindful that
he kept the sheet over his boxer clad body.

Deanna leaned down and picked Kel up. "I bet you
didn't know that its Will's job to keep little girls
safe, and rescue them from all the bad men?"

"It is?"

"Mmhmm. He does it all the time." Deanna winked.
Kel giggled and reached for Will, who promptly took
her and gave her a big hug.
"So are you like... Superman?"

Stunned by her knowledge of ancient Earth's superhero,
Will felt his cheeks grow warm with
embarrassment...and fear of that particular nickname
being passed around the Enterprise.

"Uh...not quite," he smiled and looked to Deanna for
help as he heard Beverly trying to suppress a chuckle

"No Kel. He's just a man with a big heart and the
courage to do what is right. No matter the cost."
Deanna explained.

Kel gave Will a kiss on the cheek.
"Yuck!" she exclaimed as she scooted off the bed.
"Your face tickles," she rubbed her lips with her

All three adults laughed and watched Kel being
escorted out by a nurse.
The light-hearted mood changed as Beverly explained
that the explosion was caused by a bomb, intended to
be used to kill the princess. Security officials
apprehended the suspects and exported them back to
their home world for prosecution. And that Kel would
remain on Earth until the rebel leaders could be

"And since the Enterprise isn't due back for another
three days...I have a gift for our," Beverly couldn't
contain her chuckle, "superman."

Will gave her a sidelong glance and rolled his eyes
toward Deanna, who had placed a cupped hand over her
mouth to keep from laughing.

"I have rented a house...down the coastline where the
temperature is eighty degrees right now...with a
teriffic view of the ocean. Complete with a secluded
beach, ideal for...nude sun bathing." Beverly
shrugged, "That is, if you're into that type of

Will smiled, not quite sure if Beverly meant that she
would be there as well or if it was intended to be for
just he and Deanna.

"Whats wrong Will? Its not like I haven't seen you
naked before. You have nothing to be ashamed of."

Will's brow crinkled as he tried to come up with an
appropriate retaliatory remark.

Satisfied with his stunned reaction, Beverly flipped
him the key card to the house and headed out the door.
"You two have a good time," she turned to say while
winking at Deanna.

Will let out a long sigh of relief and watched Deanna
lean into him, feeling her lips against his ear. "I
sure hope you can live to that nickname...Superman."
She began to finger the hairs on his chest. "Because
you know what they say about pay backs..."

Will stopped her tortuous toying of hair and grinned
sheepishly, "Umm, you do realize that it was the
chemical that allowed me to, uh, well..."

Deanna moved back and placed her hands on her hips.
"And here all this time I thought you were rehearsing
for when I'm 'in phase'. I guess you need more
practice." She reached into the closet and threw him a
shirt. "Get dressed Commander...there's training to be

Will bounded from the bed with one quick leap and
within seconds, was dressed and ready to go. Feeling
the giddiness wash over him he picked Deanna up,
cradling her within his brawny arms, and rushed to
their awaiting transport...with Deanna scolding him
the entire way.

                    **THE END**