If you do read this, you will understand it when I say it is sort of a companion piece to "Don't Cry For Me." My only warning here is that the following story involves Deanna's death. It is pretty high on the angst scale...It comes from the heart.

by Kate


DISCLAIMER: Paramount is supreme. No infringement intended. The
ideas are mine.
SETTING: Sometime in the distant future.

The low lights in the room cast everything in soft shadows and muted tones. In the large bed lay a petite, fine-boned woman, her dark-haired head gently cradled in a feather-soft mound of pillows. Her brow was furrowed, testament to the suffering that was soon to end. Beside the side of the bed sat a large, solidly built man, his broad shoulders bent with the weight of grief and his sorrowful face glistening with uninhibited tears. Nestled between his large hands was one of her small ones.

Warm flesh encasing warm flesh, palm to fingers, established a conduit for the two. Through that intimate contact flowed a lifetime of memories, of love, and of shared joys, unimpeded by the tears that flowed freely down both of their sad faces. For they both knew that this would be the last time they would ever be able to be united in this most intimate way.

Her weakened mental energy fluttered softly inside his mind like the gentle movement of butterfly wings. And yet, her thoughts flowed into him with utter clarity. All of her remaining strength had been put to the task of this one final moment of communication through their bond.

She looked at her beloved husband with eyes that bespoke her acceptance and understanding of the inevitable end. Glistening orbs of sadness forged wet trails down her pale cheeks, but there was nonetheless a quiet calm that radiated from her inner being.

<<The end is coming soon, Imzadi.>> Her mental articulation caused a surge of panicked desperation to pulse through his inner being. He gripped her hand tighter, as if doing so would keep her alive just a little longer.

Her depthless dark Betazoid eyes, undimmed by the deterioration ravaging her body, locked onto his grief-laden blue ones. <<Imzadi, come lie with me.>> She did not need to add "for this one last time." He released her hand from between his own and laid hers gently onto the mattress. He strode around to the other side of the bed to come lie down beside her. Never had walking such a small distance been such torture for him; he knew that each small step brought them closer to the moment of their final goodbye.

Wordlessly, he laid down on his side next to her. Gently, he molded his body to her contours, wrapping her form in a soft embrace of love. He reached over to place his hand lightly on her tear-moistened cheek. His fingers stroked her face with infinite tenderness.

She trained her ebony eyes, full of a lifetime of feelings, on the strong features of her beloved's face. <<There is no pain now, Imzadi…>> His hand dropped to rest on her pale chest. <<Just be with me. Let me feel your embrace one last time.>> Ever so gently, he snaked one of his arms beneath her and draped his other over her chest. He rested his bearded chin next to her head on the pillow.

<<There's so much I want to say…>> he began. She placed a fine-boned finger across his lips. <<Shhh, Imzadi…You've spoken your heart to me every day that I have known you…>> He brushed his lips lightly across her finger. A sad smile crawled across her pale, care-worn face.

<<I want you to know…>> he began again, his thoughts gently grazing her mind.

<<That you have no regrets…>> she sent back, her emanation barely a whisper.

<<Yes…no…There are things I wish I could take back, do differently…I will eternally regret how many times I hurt you early in our relationship…>>

<<But if you hadn't, you would not have grown into the wonderful man I fell in love with all over again and had the blessed fortune to call my husband for all these years…>>

<<I have always loved you, Imzadi…Always. From the first day I saw you at Chandra's wedding…My heart sang out to me on that day, and I knew…>> Fresh tears began to course down his cheeks. A strangled sob worked its way from his mouth. <<Oh gods…>> Her soft fingers gently traced comforting paths along the contours of his grief-contorted face.

He drew in a deep, steadying breath and captured her hand in his. <<Somewhere deep inside, the place you first touched me so long ago at her wedding, I knew I loved you…that we were fated for each other.>> A knowing, gentle smile lit up her features.

<<As did I, Imzadi…>>

<<I only wish…I regret…>>

<<You regret what, Imzadi?>>

<<That we waited so long to…That we hid from becoming who we were meant to be together…>> He let out a sad sigh. She pulled his large hand to her lips and softly brushed them against it. He continued, <<…That we allowed ourselves to hide behind our agreement to just be friends, when I wanted nothing more to love you, to worship you, to make you mine.>>

<<I know that, Imzadi,>> she sent back weakly yet lovingly. <<But though we lost time in that sense, our time apart taught us to more fully appreciate what being Imzadi means, and allowed our love for each other to grow even stronger…>> He smiled at her, his understanding of her words filling his heart and face with loving warmth.

<<I have not regretted one single day since we left the Briar Patch so many years ago, Deanna…Not one.>>

<<Nor I, Imzadi…>> A sudden shudder went though her body. Instinctively, he wrapped his strong arms around her body once again.

<<The end is coming soon, Imzadi. There is little time left to us now.>> He nodded sadly against her shoulder and drew her into a tighter embrace. Tears traveled down both of their faces, wetting the pillows beneath their heads.

<<Know this, Imzadi…>> Her emanations were becoming weaker by the minute now as the last reserves of her life force ebbed from her. She pressed her lips against his in a final kiss as she continued mentally, <<Know that I have absolutely no regrets about the time we have had together, even with all the distance we put between us for years. Because whether as friends, whether loving others instead of each other, or whether as husband and wife, we have always had a unique bond possessed by few others. And a love, whether hidden or open, that has sustained and nurtured me for all of my adult years.>>

<<Truly no regrets?>> he asked, his thoughts laced with a hint of disbelief.

<<Absolutely none. No regrets, Imzadi…>> Her eyes slid closed with that last thought.

"I love you so much, so so much," he whispered out loud as he rained her face with soft butterfly kisses. Then, as he rested his head once again against hers, he realized that he no longer heard the quiet sound of her breathing. An instant later, the warming energy that had touched his soul constantly for so many years began to wane as a tide recedes from the shore. A moment later it was gone.

A grief-filled wail sprang out of him as the realization of her departure rolled over him. He grabbed her as tightly as he could, his anguish pouring forth in a flood of tears and gut-wrenching sobs. But his grief knew no relief.

How long he wept like that, he could not say. For a long time, his broken heart spilled its cargo of sorrow. But after a time, a sweet voice wove itself into the depths of his sadness. It spoke two words of immense comfort: "No regrets." Her voice. Her words. Reaching beyond the barrier between life and death to comfort him as she always had. "No regrets, Imzadi."

The End.