No, there still not mine...but i'm trying to strike a deal with Paramount, and
Genie Francis for custody of Will Riker <g>. Seriously; they were created by
Gene Roddenberry, Rick Bergman, and Paramount.....I've just always liked to
play with other people's toys. And special thanks to Peter David who boldly
went where Paramount would never go before!!!

Night after night the same dreams and fears interrupted her sleep....but it was
not only her own emotions that kept her from slumber, but Will Riker's turmoil
as well. It had been six months since their rescue from the deserted planet of
Solan. One year... she and Will Riker had struggled against the elements to
stay alive on the planet. Neither understood why the enterprise had been unable
to locate them, after their shuttle went down. But after some time acceptance
of their situation had set in, and she had only wonderful memories of their
time there. It had given each of them time to focus on nothing but each other,
and since their return that hadn't changed.

"Troi to Riker"

"Holodeck three?" His deep voice sounded through her cabin. Meeting in the
holodeck had become a nightly routine.

"I'm on my way Will." She sighed the words, and headed out of her quarters as
quickly as she could. They seemed to derive strength from each other, and as of
late without the comfort of his body against hers, sleep was never an option.

He was waiting for her outside the holodeck, she could sense his relief as she
came into view. He opened his arms to her, she felt the comfort as they closed
tightly around her.

"Computer, Riker program 36"

The sound of the computer accessing was quickly followed by the hum of the
doors as they opened. They walked side by side into the world they had created
for themselves.....a perfect replication of their paradise on Solan. They both
inhaled deeply, filling their lungs with the fresh clean essence of *their*
planet. The agitation, and trepidation of earlier, seemed to disappear with the
familiar place. Will sat on the ground, and pulled her to him. They rested
together on the warm grass, and allowed themselves to melt into each
other.....just as they had each night on the planet. She had grown accustomed
to falling asleep to the gentle beating of his heart, and the sweet kiss of his

"Will the dreams ever stop?"

He could barely be heard, his words mingling on the gentle breeze that cradled
them. She felt his heart beat faster, and his anxiety building. She knew how
hard this was for him, not being in complete control.

They had both been given a battery of tests upon return to enterprise, all the
findings, showed them to be in superior health. But then the nights would come,
and weather they choose to sleep in the same quarters, or separately, the same
dream called to them both.

She didn't answer his question, she knew she wasn't meant to. He only needed to
say it, to let her know he was just as afraid as she was. He sat up quickly,
she felt the cold where his body had left her.

"I'm having thoughts during the day now, Deanna. I'm finding it hard to
concentrate , I can't to do my job." She felt a chill run up her spine, as the
words left his lips. She too was being distracted during the day. He ran his
hand through his hair, she smiled at the tousle that remained. He looked just
as he had on the planet....very weathered, but very handsome. She still
remained silent, wanting him to alleviate his tension before she build on it.

"Maybe we should go back there." His words came as a shock, it was not all what
she had expected to hear. "Something happened to us down there, Deanna.
Something more then the sweet memories we remember."

She fell into his eyes, admitting he was right, but reluctant to let go of what
they shared. But she too felt the pull of the planet and the eternal call to

She shook her head, he brushed the loose strands from her eyes. "Captain Picard
will never agree Will. It took them a year to locate us due to the cosmic flare
activity, the gamma radiation haze over the planet is too dense.... The
transport window is nearly non existent."

He took her shoulders firmly, and set his eyes into her soul.

"I'll request permission to return, I'll follow procedure. But if we're
refused.....if we're refused, I say the hell with the captain, the hell with
the enterprise." Her eyes widen at the words that she thought would never leave
his mouth.

"I love you Deanna. But I'll be dammed if I can only live on memories. Until we
figure out why this place is our only sanctuary......we'll never have our lives

She felt the tears burn at her eyes, not wanting to let go of the precious
times. But she knew he was right, the only way to have their future, was to
find out the haunting secrets of their past.

She cradled his face in her hands as if she could physically pull the pain from
him. Wishing she could alleviate all the tension he was feeling. She would
gladly allow all his frustration, to flow into her if she could.

"Will, I know what your feeling, and I think your right" Her hands fell to his
chest, where she let them remain. "But what your suggesting is resigning, and
you know you don't mean that. Starfleets your life Will."

She pulled closer to him, his heart slowing with the assurance she offered him.
He kissed her hair, and inhaled deeply.

"I use to think so Deanna. But I'm not so sure anymore. Whatever is gnawing at's interfering with our jobs. It's not just fatigue Deanna.
It's....." He shook his head, and struggled to explain his thoughts.

She closed her eyes, and let his emotions merge with her own.....his
uncertainty was unsettling to her. No matter what, she had always been able to
feel his strength, but now she felt only a very troubled, restless man.....that
needed to find answers. She knew his emotions would be personified, as her own
mirrored his. But as she allowed the block on her mind to be lifted, what she
had been feeling, tumbled from her mouth..

"It's like, I forgot to do something. The way I feel when I leave my office in
the evenings....did I remember to cancel that appointment, or turn off my
.........." Her words drifted as his eyes met with hers.

"That's it Deanna! Like I forgot something! I forgot something, but I can't go
back and check. It's a memory that's just out of reach."

She felt a chill sweep through her as he spoke his words. She knew they had
been tested, an even undergone all aspects of hypnotic regression......but she
also knew he was right. That something so incredible had happened to them on
the planet, that they had both buried the memory so deeply, in hopes that it
would never resurface.

She was startled as Will responded to her thoughts.

"Or maybe someone, or something buried it for us."

They pulled closer to each other as he spoke, it was if they needed to crawl
inside each other, to hide from their revelation. The revelation that perhaps
they hadn't been alone on the planet. That perhaps as they wallowed in their
happiness, someone else had played a role in their secret paradise. If Paradise
is what it had been at all.

"Come in Doctor" Captain Picard called to the closed doors, knowing immediately
who was on the other side. The only one on board who would feel no remorse for
awaking him at 0 fivehundred hours.

He also knew what her visit involved, their mutual concern for his first
officer, and Deanna Troi.

"I'm sorry I'm so early Jean Luc." She sat on his couch, and pulled her feet
under her.

"Can I get you anything, Beverly." She waved off the offer, and proceeded to
explain her concerns. All her mental and physical evaluations of the two
officers, showed no reason for concern, and yet their behavior since the rescue
was far out of character for both of them. Their lack of sleep was
evident....presenting itself in canceled appointment, missed meeting, and very
short tempers. And although she was pleased that the two of them had found each
other again, their need for each other was almost an unhealthy
dependence. The captain listened intently, not speaking until he felt he had
learned enough.

"So what are you suggesting you consider them unfit for command?"
She avoided his eyes, hiding that, that was exactly what she was thinking.

"I believe they need time....time to adjust to life again....they were out of
touch for a long time."

Captain Picard breathed a sigh of relief, in response to Beverly's suggestion.
Will Riker was one of the finest officers he had ever served with, and hated
the idea of any permanent scars on his record. He ran his hand over his head,
looking to Beverly for a suggestion, that would ensure Will and Deanna's
recovery. Beverly gave him a weary smile. "We're scheduled to rendezvous with
the Aphrodite tomorrow." Jean Luc nodded, knowing where her thoughts were

"I believe that could be the perfect medicine ......We'll call it an extended
shore leave to Betazed."

The door chimes sounded through the cabin.

"Come in?" He looked to Beverly, confused at who else would be paying him a
call at this time of the morning. He was pleased as Will and Deanna entered his

"Counselor....number one....the doctor and I were just....."

He was quickly interrupted by his first officer. "Please Sir, this is not a
social call."

"Very well, state your business." He watched as Deanna seemed to lean into him,
he wasn't sure if it was from exhaustion.....or a gentle attempt at offering

"Deanna and I have a request."

He watched Will, his body at rigid attention....the uneasiness in the room
could be almost cut with a knife. He hadn't seen his first officer this nervous
since the first day he had walked onto the battle bridge at farpoint station.

"We've both discussed this.....and feel the only way for Deanna and I to deal
with our problem... is to return to Solan."

He raised his eyebrows and looked to Beverly. He didn't need to hear anymore,
and didn't allow Will to continue with his request.

"Out of the question!" The words sounding a little harsher then he had wished
them to. He watched Will's jaw tighten, and his hand reach for his comm badge.
He didn't need to be an empath to know what thoughts were racing through
Commander Riker's head. And he would not allow him to make this mistake.

"Will." He curbed his tone. "I believe we have an answer....that would prove
far less risky then the one your suggesting." Will relaxed his posture, but
only slightly....he was keeping himself prepared for an inevitable conflict.

"Beverly, and I believe you could both use a little time to situate yourselves
again. Doctor Crusher has suggested a shore leave to Betazed might help both of
you to readjust again."

He was relieved, but far more surprised as a smile swept over Riker's face.

"Wonderful idea Captain....I think your right. What do you think Deanna?"

She looked up into his eyes, the blue sparkling with a sense of relief, and
adventure. She couldn't lie for him, but she wouldn't betray his true motives
either. She attempted a weak smile, and nodded to Beverly, and Captain Picard,
quickly returning her gaze to Will. Walking blindly into a situation was
something she never did, and yet something she admired about him. Facing the
unknown was what drove him, and she sensed his mitigation at the prospect of
finally being able to do something. She had no idea where this would lead, she
only knew that she would follow him there.

"This makes no sense." Deanna slipped her hand over his shoulder, and looked at
the control panel that seemed to be the cause of his confusion. The shuttle
Will had *borrowed* from station 36, was not the most luxurious craft she had
ever been on. But as he said, you take what you can get when the opportunity
presents itself.

"I'm having *no* trouble scanning this planet." He never looked at her, just
concentrated on the controls in front of him. His emotions at the moment seemed
far away from her, her own perhaps muffling his.
"But even the enterprise was unable to scan the planet."

He finally looked away, and focused his eyes on hers.

"That's what troubles me Deanna. This shuttles got to be thirty years old, it
shouldn't even be flying let alone surpassing the enterprises equipment." She
looked at the panels, trying to understand the read outs. But they may as well
have been in a foreign language....they were nothing like the ones she had
studied in the academy.

"Maybe your reading them wrong." She smiled at the disgusted look she got,
knowing full well Will had been playing with shuttles, since long before the
academy. Some joked that he had learned to fly, long before he could even walk.
He didn't share her smile but continued concentrating. "There is no gamma
radiation in the haze, Deanna. According to these reading, we could just sail
into the atmosphere, and I could land this thing without spilling a drop of
that coffee your holding.....Hell, I could set this thing on auto, and we
could....." he didn't finish, but the devilish grin that spread across his
face....spoke for him. She smiled at the invitation, but reluctantly turned her
attention back to the planet. She was gratified with the sigh of frustration
that left him, before he too focused on the task at hand. It was amazing
really, both of their tension levels seemed to have waned since they approached

Although she was not as convinced as he was that they had fooled the captain of
the Aphrodite into thinking that they had met on station thirty six, and had
chosen to spend their vacation there. She had found herself staring at the
floor while Will wove his web of deceit. His perfect poker face, and the
respect he was afforded as first officer of the enterprise making the twisted
tale almost believable.

She looked out the view screen and divided her attention between the muted
shades of pink, and purple that hung like a halo over the planet.....and the
determined blue eyes, that passed between her and the panel. She felt his
shoulders tighten under her touch, as the shuttle entered the colorful haze.
She knew he was not as confident in his readings as he pretended to be. And
considering there last landing on Solan, it was not surprising. Both had been
knocked unconscious, and it was days before she was able to bring Will around.
It was the closest she had ever come to losing him.....the memory causing her
to squeeze his shoulders a little tighter.

"Maybe we should contact the enterprise." her memories getting the better of

He leaned his head back against her, and looked up.

"What....and spoil our vacation?" she was answered with a quick wink, and his
mischievous smile before he returned his attention to the controls. She moved
a little closer to him, so his head still rested against her.

"Changing your mind about my earlier offer?" From where she stood above him,
she could see his eyebrows raise, she couldn't see his face but she was sure it
was covered with the tongue and cheek smile that she adored. The same smile she
had found to be so disturbing when they first met.....the smile of a scoundrel
she had thought, or at the very least a man who thought way too much of
himself. Now that same smile was something she couldn't imagine never seeing
again. She was pulled from her thoughts, as Will suddenly straighten in his

"This is it."

She took her seat next to him, and watched as the mist dissipated revealing the
planet surface. The thousands of butterflies that had invaded her stomach were
finally at rest, but the sight in front of them caused them to again begin
dancing inside her. She turned to Will, his eyes darting from the readings to
the view screen. The lush tropical planet....the planet they had rekindled
their love on, was now nothing but an endless sea of red clay..

"It's a big planet Will.....perhaps the part we were on was different." He ran
his hand over his face....his eyes filling with disbelief, and frustration.

"There's nothing down there......not a tree, not a bird....not even a damn bug.
Deanna the planet's completely dead."

His words, and his tone frightened her, she reached for his hand...his fears
entangling themselves in hers. She watched as he set the controls to land.

"What are you doing....your not going down there?" The question didn't need to
be asked, of course he was going down there. He squeezed her hand tighter, and
offered a weak smile.

"We'll be fine." the words hardly leaving his lips, as the bolt of electricity
hit the ship. The blast knocked her to the floor, as pieces of memories
pervaded her mind. She tried to reach him... had to stop him, but he continued
to try and maneuver the shuttle through the shower of lighten strikes that
surrounded them.

<The circuit is loose....he doesn't see it> the thoughts and recollections
splattered the recesses of her mind.

"WILL NO!" Her warning coming too late, as he reached for the control, and was
sent flying against the wall from the charge. She crawled to him, knowing what
she would see. He was so still, the cut in his head spilling his blood down his
face....she covered it with hands, the blood literally splattering through her
fingers. "Gods Will!" she covered him as best she could with her tiny
body....and awaited the inescapable impact.

The perpetual spinning of the interior of the shuttle, slowed as she regained
consciousness. Her recollections of when and how the accident occurred only a
muted memory. She felt the warm dampness on her dress, and looked below her at
the blood stained face of Will Riker. His wound was dangerously deep, his shirt
soaked with his blood . She quickly recovered from her own pain, as she
realized she had to help him. She ripped a large piece of material off her
dress and quickly tied it around his head. When she was satisfied with her
handy work, she set off to find the required med kit. Her search was a futile
attempt, as she realized there was no medical equipment on board.

"Dam" She turned to Will the cloth around his head already saturated with
blood, the excess again covering his face. She knew it had to be closed, the
wound was far to deep to stop without sutures. But with no medical equipment
she had no idea what she could do...... all she knew was he was dying.

"Deanna" The word was spoken so softly, she may have missed it if she hadn't
seen his lips move. She tried to keep her panic at a minimum as she rushed to
his side. His eyes were unable to focus, as he slipped in and out of

"No med kit." she whispered, as she covered his wound with more of her
dress......."Can't stop the bleeding." She was shocked as she felt his hand
close around her arm.

"Use the Phaser." His suggestion made her stomach churn. She felt his hand
tighten around her arm, and the weakest of smiles cross his lips. She looked to
the fabric that once again had been drenched with his blood, and knew what he
was suggesting was the only way. She searched the cabin with her eyes, finally
finding what she needed. A small piece of metal had been severed from one of
the storage lockers. She retrieved it as quickly as she could, ,and adjusted
the phaser settings. It took only moments for the metal to glow with heat. His
hands were trembling, she could feel him preparing himself for the agony that
he would soon endure. After wrapping her own skin as securely as she could she
touched the hot metal to the gash in his head. The skin immediately sizzled
under the heat, Will's eyes rolling back in his head as the pain pulled him
into the unconscious. It took only moments for the skin to melt together, and
she was relieved as the bleeding stopped. She put the hot metal down, and
quickly searched for the water she knew he would need. His body was drenched in
sweat from the heat that had penetrated him. She opened his tunic, moistening
his skin with the cool water. His body slowly cooled, but still he remained
unconscious .......for hours she administered to him, cleaning the wound, and
dried blood that covered his skin. At last she rested her head on his chest as
the stress of her work, took it's toll.

"Hey You. You asleep, or listening for a heartbeat?" She pulled her head from
his chest, and was relieved to see a twinkle returning to his half open eyes..

"A little bit of both I think." She smiled slightly, and reached for the water
at her side. "How are you feeling."

"I've been better." he ran his tongue over his lips, and took a sip of the
water she offered.

"Can you sit up?" she cradled her arm behind his shoulder, and offered

"Sure!" he pushed himself up, and quickly returned his head to the pillow.
"Nope, guess not."

She smiled down to him, watching his eyes survey her.

" I like that outfit your wearing.....or *hardly* wearing." She wrapped her
arms around herself realizing that she had used most of her clothing to try to
stop his bleeding.

"Your hopeless." she tried to hide the smile that pulled at the corners of her
mouth. "Now that you seem to have returned to your normal self.....I'd like to
see where we are."

She felt him tense at sending her out by herself, but under the circumstances
for once, she had the upper hand.

"I'll be careful, and I won't go far." she answered his concerns before he had
expressed them. After checking the environmental readings, she hit the switch
that would release the hatch. She felt his distress, and turned to give him a
reassuring smile.

"Promise you won't change that dress, until I get better." She rolled her eyes,
deciding not to reward him with an answer.

Her breath caught in her throat as she faced the outside was
not the planet they had spent a year on, nor was it the planet they had seen on
their view screen. As impossible as it seemed she knew where she was. Her first
instinct of returning to Will, quickly replaced with curiosity. She walked
further away from the ship, all her logical reasoning disappearing as she
approached her goal. She shook her head, and squeezed her eyes shut
tightly.....but even through closed eyes, the smell of mahutu, and cool spray
of water on her skin beckoned her to believe the impossible. She opened her
eyes, and ran her hand over the initials etched in the large rock beside
her.....R.T & D.T 4ever. All her insticts told her this was
inconceivable....she had seen the bleak planet on the monitor.....she had lived
here for over a year. But a small piece of her longed to believe the
unbelievable, accept the unexplained. She turned suddenly as the ground rustled
behind her.

"What are you doing?" A very weak Will Riker stood behind her, his body being
allowed to stand only with the support of the branch he leaned on. He didn't
reply to her question, his eyes searched his last stopping
to rest on her.

"Deanna?" She could sense his suspicions, and also is serenity.

"Janaran Falls" she finished his thought.....and awaited a response.
"Maybe we both hit our heads Deanna."

He slid himself to the ground, and waited for her join him. "Although if this
is an illusion, I think we did a hell of a job."

She shook her head, knowing of the pain he must be in.

"YOU, should have stayed put."

"I got lonely......besides I feel much better now." Her eyes focused on his
injury, amazingly enough it seemed to be healing at an incredible rate. She
lifted her hand to the wound.

"Get Back! I've seen what you can do." His voice was tainted with laughter, and
she appreciated his apprehension after her surgery with the phaser. She brushed
his hair away from his forehead, finding it difficult to focus her attentions
on there present situation. The wound she had mended was almost healed....and
his inviting smile called to her. She knelt in front of him, knowing that by
all calculations, he should be laying flat on his back incapable of anything.
But she could feel his eyes caressing her body, she felt the thoughts that were
filling his mind. She moved a little closer allowing her lips to lightly touch
his....the slight kiss she offered him not enough to satisfy his hunger for
her. He pressed his lips more firmly against hers, still supporting himself
with his hands. But as her lips soften, and allowed his tongue access, he moved
his hands to her waist. He slipped the remains of her dress to the ground,
permitting only his eyes to touch her.....when his eyes had been satisfied, his
hands, and his tongue continued his exploration. Her body shuttering with
delight as he worked his magic on her. The sounds of their lovemaking mingled
with the sounds of the falls.....until sleep overcame them both.

He woke before her, the change in the wind....challenging his senses. He
assumed a storm was approaching, but the breezes were still warm and gentle.
The delicate breathing of the woman lying on his chest, combined with the soft
winds against his skin swaddling his soul with tranquillity.. He bask in the
feeling longer then he'd planned before quietly getting up. He walked to the
pool at the base of the falls, and submerged himself the water. He adored the
sound that rang in his ears as the water from the falls set a continuous
rhythm. He dived under the water over, and over, each time exploring his
surroundings. The water was crystal clear, as he opened his eyes below the
churning falls....the small cavern caught his eye. He felt himself swimming
forward, wanting to explore the unknown cave.....But thoughts of Deanna alone
on the banks called him to the surface. His eyes deepened in color as they laid
to rest on his imzadi.....the sky had darkened, and her sobs could be heard
floating on the wind.. He ran to comfort her, wrapping her in his arms. Her
heart wrenching cries continued....he held her to him, as her body trembled
with her tears. She was not ready to speak, so he offered her the only solace
his could...opening his mind, and feeling her pain.

"Will, do you feel it?"

He pulled her closer the distinct cries invading his heart. He felt the
dampness of his tears, as the intermittent memories swirled through his mind.

He had held her like this before, spoken soothing words, stroked her body to
relieve the pain......He had loved her like he never had before. Both of them
drowning in the pleasure of the new lives they had created. He closed his eyes
and felt the tiny hands that circled their fingers around his....the soft
skin....the pleasant scent.....and the beautiful women who had given him these
gifts. With a breath the memories were gone....set back into the dark recesses
of their minds.

"What happened?' her words still laced with the emotions that had vanished on
the wind.

He looked into her dampened eyes, still feeling the tears he had shed. He shook
his head and tried to regain control of his own emotions. She pulled him closer
to her.....her need for him surpassing any she had ever had. The sky darkened
over them...the wind increased as the mist from the falls baptized their
emotions. The feeling of loss still remained, what or why was only a mystery
they intended to solve.

"Captain?" The baritone voice sounded through the bridge. "In coming sub space
message from Betazid.:"

Captain Picard acknowledged the Klingon, raising an eyebrow at the origin of
the message.

"In my ready room, Mr worf.:" Worf's hand reset the controls as the Captain
entered his sanctuary. He quickly flipped the switch.....quite surprised as the
face of Lwaxana Troi appeared on the screen.

"Jean Luc, You know I have the utmost respect for you." Her eyes roved his
body, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "And I realize the Commander,
and my daughter are an important part of your little away things......but I
believe it would have been quite appropriate for one of your.....crew to inform
me if there had been a change in plans.:"

The Captain ran his hand over his head, Mrs Troi's words once again making
little or no sense.

"Change in Plans, Mrs. Troi?"

Her eyes focused on him, in what he considered a most disturbing way.

"Oh Jean Luc....if you had wanted to see me, you needn't hold my daughter...I
would gladly join you on request."

He shifted in his chair, her suggestion causing his annoyance to surface.

"Commander Riker, and Counselor Troi, are on Betazid. Perhaps they chose to be

She waved off his suggestion. "Nonsense, if Deanna were here I would
know.....Now please ,just admit she's on one of those, away things."

"MISSIONS, Mrs Troi, away *missions*....and No she is not."

She scrutinized him closely. "Well I would have thought you kept better track
of your officers...but I guarantee you they are not on Betazed:" She spoke her
piece, and the screen went blank..leaving the Captain to consider her words.

The Captain stroked the crystal on his desk, and pondered Lwaxana's message.

"Picard to Data."

The android's voice was quick to respond.

"Get me the Captain of the Aphrodite." There was only a momentary lull, before
Data responded.

"The Aphrodite, is surveying the Arankin Nebula...she will be out of range for
at least three months." His next instinct were the space stations on the way,
the only old, but secured stationed.

Lwaxana's word's instantly setting his suspicions in unknown
causing him to speak his next order.

"Contact the Commander of space station thirty six......use maximum code

Captain Picard terminated the transmission with space station thirty six, and
leaned back in his chair. His officers had been granted two weeks of shore
leave, and he admitted to himself that they should be able to choose how they
spend it. But he was troubled by Commander Jarvin's recounting of the
counselor, and commander's visit. He tried to convince himself that his
troubles stemmed from the relic of a shuttle that they had borrowed from the
base. But he knew it was the bizarre behavior they had exhibited before leaving
that stirred his concerns. Commander Riker would never return to Solan, after
being denied permission....or would he?. His first officer was clever, but
hardly deceitful .....yet he did have a way of skirting the rules, bending them
just enough that they didn't break. He smiled to himself, thinking of how on
more then one occasion, Riker's unorthodox ways had saved the day. By all
counts it was one of the things that had made him an irreplaceable member of
his crew. He strode to the small window and looked to the planet
would be only hours until their work here was finished. No....there was no way
that Riker would lead Deanna into a dangerous situation....that thought was
preposterous....And there was absolutely no way to justify turning around a
round a galaxy class starship to play mother hen to two of his crew.

"Crusher to Picard" the game of ping pong he played with his thoughts
interrupted by her words.

"Yes Beverly."

"Jean Luc, I've been studying the medical records on Deanna Troi....I've found
something I think you should see.......I think it will explain Will and
Deanna's recent turmoil."

<At last> he thought <something constructive to work with>

"I'm on my way Doctor."

Deanna sat quietly on the grass her hands wrapped tightly around her
knees....the experience of the day before still weight heavy on her mind. She
had no idea where the feeling of grief stemmed from, only that if she didn't
find out it would slowly destroy her. She knew Will was feeling it also, though
he had thrown himself into the futile task of fixing the shuttle. It was his
way of coping...just as hers was to face her concerns, his was to throw himself
head on into something, anything that would dull the ache he felt inside.

"Son of a bitch" She smiled as Will's fist slammed into the side of the ship.

"Are you winning." There was no amusement on his face as he turned to face her.

"This is not a joke!" the words shot from his mouth, his unfocused frustration,
now zeroing in on her. "Or didn't you learn shuttle maintenance in the academy
....No,.don't tell were having your hair done that day instead."

The composure she had planned on keeping, fell apart with his glib remark. He
had hit on a sore spot, and he knew it. She had spent years working on
overcoming peoples opinion of her as an officer. She clenched her fists,and bit
back the cruel remarks she longed to make.

"Why are you being like this?" He ran his hand over his beard, his eyes burning
through her.

"Because I'm Bullshit! Don't you ever get mad Deanna?" She had never been on
the receiving end of Will's temper, and his harsh words caused the tears to
burn at her eyes. "Yes...*I'm angry now." her voice broke, but she kept her
tone soft.

"Your angry now?! " He picked up the tool box, and slammed it into the side of
the shuttle...the sound echoing around them. "How the hell would I know that? I
think your job as counselor has stunted your growth as a human being. Or IS
counseling your job.....seems to me your first few years on the enterprise were
spent *counseling* all the men we came across."

She knew he was baiting her, but her body was starting to tremble with anger,
the tears she had tried to hide slipping down her cheeks.

"You womanizing son of a bitch." She heard the sound and felt the sting as her
hand slapped his face. "Can you tell I'm angry now?"

She turned and walked towards the falls, leaving Will alone with his
pain....allowing him to drown in his own indignation.

She didn't stop until she had reached the falls, and immersed herself in the
cool water. She swam to where the water of the falls crashed down on her....her
tears washing away on the gentle current. She knew all Will's words had been
spoken out of anger, yet he had touched upon all the things that he knew would
trigger her. Even now she could sense his remorse, and she knew he was looking
for her. She was not ready to face him yet....not until he had heaped as much
pain on himself as he had put on her. She pulled back behind the cascading
water, crawling into the small cave behind it. The interior of the cave was
much larger then she had thought, small streams of light fell from the ceiling.
She stood up, and surveyed her surroundings, there was something here,
something extremely pleasant that seemed to pull her further away from the
entrance. She knew he would not be pleased to learn she had set out to explore
without him, but right now his feelings were not as important as they might
have been. The light faded into only shadows.....the sound of the falls a
distant echo.....she realized she had wondered much further then she intended.
She turned to go back, a small twinkle of light catching her eye....she found
herself walking towards it, the pleasing feelings becoming stronger as she
approached. She ran her hand over the smooth crystal that had called to her,
the rock behind sliding away. She stepped slowly into the chamber, her eyes
widening at the sight. The room was filled with crystal tombs, a body encased
in first the sight caused her to shutter, but the echo of emotions
that filled the chamber stirred her soul. She walked to the various caskets,
stroking the glass that encased the lifeforms....each case radiating a
different sense of joy. It was a burial ground, but all the bodies seemed to be
of different species. Each one leaving behind a faint keepsake of the happiness
they had experienced here.

"Hey" she turned with a start, at the one who had intruded on her feelings.

"So doctor, what have you found." He could see the concern that touched her

"I've been studying Will and Deanna's physical files. Up until now I had
focused most of my studies on their mental profiles." She could see the 'get to
the point' expression encompass his face, and quickly continued. "It's Deanna's
report that concerns me. Sir, when a woman gives birth, her body never fully
goes back to it's pre pregnancy state."

Captain Picard raised an eyebrow. "What are you saying beverly"

"I"m saying Counselor Troi has given birth....and from my recent findings I
would say sometime in the last nine months."

Jean Luc sat in the nearest chair, and rubbed his hands over his face.

"I'm sure you know about Ian?" Beverly waved off the remark.

"I've examined her hundreds of times since then, this is something recent."

"Why would they conceal this from us? It makes no sense Doctor>" His words were
a little sharper then he intended. Beverly set her eyes on, allowing his burst
of anger to go unnoticed.

"That's just it Jean Luc, someone has concealed it from them. Someone went to
great lengths to cover this secret."

Captain Picard let out the air he had been holding in his lungs, the scenarios
he had spun in his office, quickly becoming reality.

"Picard to Data>"

"Yes Sir"

"Data beam up the away team.....set coordinates for Solar, warp nine."

"How did you find me?" The eyes that had been filled with anger, now moist with

"I'm so sorry Deanna." His face filled with penitence, she could feel all the
guilt he had heaped on himself. Neither one of them had been normal since, she
couldn't even remember when. Even now his emotions seemed to be propelling
through him, switching gears at each apex. She touched his bearded chin,
sending her forgiveness and understanding directly to his soul. He wiped the
dampness from his eyes, and smiled sadly. "If I could take it all back I

She put her arms around his waist, and assured him that she knew. His eyes
surveyed the room, the endless sea of bodies arousing his curiosity, yet he
continued holding her, not able to release the comfort she offered him

There was an air of solace to this place, and he allowed it to enter his
mind....he was surprised at how the sentiments of his surrounding penetrated
him. He was not an empath, and yet the gentle laughter of children encircled
him. Something so pure and untouched by the innocence of the emotions he was
feeling. Deanna pulled back from him, setting her eyes on his.

"This place....we've been here before?" He nodded to her, taking her hand in
his, and wondering through the maze of coffins. It was apparent the occupants
of the coffins had all died of old age, he found himself naming the species as
they walked to the end of the structure.

"Romulan, Cardassian, Bajourn, Ullian, Klingon......this is amazing....what
would call so many diverse life forms to one place?"

She looked into his concerned blue eyes, and shook her head. Some of the life
forms were unfamiliar to her, but some, like the dark eyed betazed that looked
back at her hauntingly familiar.

"Look at this." Will pointed to the light that bled through the back wall. He
ran his hands over the stone, it slipped aside revealing their 'paradise'.
Deanna squeezed his hand tighter, this was the place that had invaded their
hearts, the place that filled them so much they had recreated it on the

"You have returned." They both turned towards the small voice that had spoken.
Such a strange little creature, not more then three feet tall, it's skin
seemingly changing color with the reflection of the light.

Will ran his eyes, up and down the tiny winged creature that had spoken. He
found himself smiling at the simple goodness that radiated from it's large
violet eyes.

"What is this place?"

Remember don't?" Will shook his head, as yet another one of creatures
materialized in front of them.

"Remember now, you will." The two took flight between them, their wings gently
tickling the faces of the two officers. Deanna laughed, but only for an
instant, as the back wash of memories, and emotions sent them both to their
knees. So many emotions flooded them, laughter, followed by tears, tainted with
anger, hurt, and pain....each spinning it's web of remembrance on the couple.
The finial emotion crashing through the walls of there minds....a love, like
nothing they had ever felt.

"Will?' She looked to him, searching him for the answer she couldn't find. The
pleading look embedded in her deep brown eyes, causing the last fragment of
memory to enter his mind.

"Where are they?!" The loud sound of his voice apparently unfamiliar to the
small creatures...they slowly backed away.

"You stole our children!?" with his words Deanna's concealed memories shot to
the surface. He looked down at her quickly, her small body trembling with the
realization of what they had lost.

Will took a step towards the small wide eyed life forms, his own body
responding to the grief, flashes of the small babies being pulled from Deanna's
arms, causing his internal rage to escalate. He hadn't been able to stop them
then, the sound of Deanna's cries for him to help still ripping his heart from
his chest. He remembered struggling against the pull of the transporter beam,
and the slow extinguishment of his thoughts. But the memories had struggled to
re ignite in their minds, their eternal glow never fully dimming.

Deanna stood up beside him, her hand reaching for his face.

"They are fine Will." she pulled him towards the sunlight streaming into a
break in the forest floor. He could hear the sound of children playing, before
they entered the small enclosure. Deanna's instincts leading her directly to
the small ones that slept peacefully on the bed of petals. She reached to pick
up the smallest one, the child stirring in her arms.

She ran her lips over the small head, her breath shaking as she inhaled the
sweet scent..

The world seemed to stand still as the two sat on the soft sea of grass, the
tiny fingers, wrapping themselves around theirs....while their gentle smiles
entangled in their hearts. All the memories that had screamed to be heard came
to a rest as they held the two babies in their arms. It could have been hours,
it could have been didn't matter, the small precious miracles
created from their love was all that enveloped them.

"Take them not?" Deanna felt Will's anger again resurfacing, squeezing his arm
as she stood to face the alien. She handed the other baby to Will, smiling down
on him, capturing the picture she would keep stored forever in her mind.

"We will take them home." She spoke softly, he was amazed at the calm she
manage to keep in her voice.

"This is wrong." The innocuous eyes showed no sign of understanding her words.

Will kept his voice low. "I don't think their as innocent as they want us to
believe...Or have you forgotten the burial ground."

Deanna turned to face him, raising her finger to her lips.

'You didn't kill the people in the cave, did you?" The two exchange a perplexed
look, before the larger one spoke. "Not know Kill.....only end, our children
always end." She could feel the grief that emanated from the two.

"All those bodies were once your children...... weren't they? They didn't
reply, but the sadness in their eyes spoke to her. Will still sat quietly on
the ground, unable to relinquish custody of the wee ones in his arms. Looking
at the small faces, their gentle sighs invading their sleep...his own tolerance
of the life forms came to life. He placed the babies in the cradle of petals,
and stood beside Deanna. He slipped his arm around her, as the two beings spoke
in unison.

"You will stay with that keeps us will keep you?"

Will creased his brow at the offer from the aliens. The thought of yet another
being, controlling these creatures quite disturbing. He tried to keep his fears
hidden from Deanna, but he was sure she also feared the same. If these
creatures had managed to take their babies once, what was to stop them from
doing it again. The fear twisted itself to his soul, they could take his
children, and he would forever forget....a hallow burning deep in his core all
that would remain. But what could he do, it wasn't like they had a means to
escape....the shuttle would never fly again, he hadn't brought a phaser. They
could just pick up their children and run...but where....these tiny creatures
seemed to control the very planet on which they stood. It was apparent Deanna's
thoughts were just as his. She lifted the small children in her arms, handing
one to her eyes searched his for an answer.

"And what is it that keeps you?" He offered the question, but only as a tactic
for time.

The two pointed past the trees to the end of the forest. "End never we."

Deanna leaned in closer to Will. "That concept frightens them, I believe they
wish to end."

He clenched his teeth, and listened to the story the creatures spun. It seemed
they had been abandoned here, and from what he could tell thousands of years
had passed. They had been the keepers of the children for this race known as
the Yhandes. A culture he had never heard of, but he assumed if they had been
this advanced thousands of years ago, they had probably progressed far deeper
into space then the enterprise could ever go.

"Why would they leave you behind?" The two looked to each other, the shadows of
the setting suns, causing the color of their skin to twinkle, and then vanish.
They offered no reply to Will's question, but darted their eyes and arms again
towards the unknown keeper they spoke of.

"Either they don't know....or they don't want us to know." Deanna agreed with
Will's verdict, and placed the sleeping little girl she held softly in the bed.
Will followed suit with his son.

"We need to meet this keeper." Deanna nodded, she felt his apprehension in
leaving the babies.

"They will not hurt us....I am sure of it." He wasn't as sure as she was, but
agreed to follow the creatures to the end of the forest.. As they neared the
edge of the forest, the soft ground turned to the red clay they had seen upon
their entrance to the planet. The being pointed to a large ominous piece of
machinery in the distance. Will approached it cautiously, Deanna stayed as
close to the aliens as she could engaging them in conversation. Her eyes never
straying far from the sleeping children.

She saw Will motion for her to join him, she shook her head, unwilling to move
further away. But the sense of urgency she felt from him caused her to ease

"What is it Will?" He scratched his beard, lines of concern deepened in his

"If I'm right, it's a holographic generator." Deanna raised an eyebrow, and
shook her head. She watched as his fingers reached for the controls.

"Will NO!" her reaction coming as quite a shock to the commander, he wrenched
his arm from her hand. His eyes had darkened, a shade beyond any she had ever

"There nothing but holograms Deanna....they want to end, I'll end them" Again
he reached for the controls again her hands stopped him. He turned to face her,
confusion and a glint of anger spiraled in his spirit.

'What the hell is wrong with you? They stole our children, five months of their
lives is gone, snuffed out, because of them.....Deanna I don't remember if I
was even there for you when they entered the world..." His jaw was tight, tears
lightly touched the sides of his eyes. She had the same regrets, but she needed
him to understand her need.

"You can't kill them Will!"

"How can I kill them...they don't even exist." She grasped his arms with her
hands, her nails digging into his skin. She tried to reach his heart with her
eyes, to let him know how important her next words would be.

"Perhaps they do, perhaps they don't.....but if you shut down the generator,
changes are this planet will revert to its original state. Think of all the
children in the enclosure.....think of OUR children."

"Sir, sensor scan complete.....all gamma emissions have receded." Captains
Picard's face reflected the confusion he was feeling. The planet had been
almost impenetrable when they had searched before for the counselor, and
commander.....yet now all their previous readings were contradicted by these
new finding.

"Launch probe into the atmosphere Mr. Data." Mr. Data's followed the command
and soon turned his eyes to the captain. "Same findings....atmosphere consists
of only nitrogen, oxygen. and carbon dioxide, the gases are thin, but still
capable of sustaining life."

He inhaled deeply, as he considered his options. Had they been deceived into
believing that the planet was unreachable, or more importantly were they being
deceived now.

"Sir, I'm reading several life forms on the planet." Picard raised an eyebrow.

Several?" This was an uninhabited planet, at least according to starfleet

"Sensors show at least six of them are human.....but I am also reading other
familiar life signs." He acknowledge the commander, before tapping his comm

"Transporter chief....attempt inanimate transfer to the planet."

He tapped his fingers impatiently as he waited for a response.

"Transfer complete, there were no problems in retrieving the object."
Interesting he thought.

"Attempt a lock on the six human life form readings."

The order barely leaving his mouth before the response came.

"Impossible to get a lock on them sir, All life sign readings are at least
forty meters below the surface." This was a puzzle that screamed to solved, he
hoped he was wrong in his theory that Will and Deanna were among the life signs
they were reading.

"I believe I will lead this away team to the planet."

Commander Data jumped quickly to his feet. Captain Picard immediately raised
his hand to silence him.

"Objection noted, Mister Data. You have the bridge.......Doctor Crusher, Mister
LaForge please meet me in transporter room three."

Will relented to Deanna's request as he turned his eyes towards the array of
children that had followed them to the edge of the forest. They both headed
back to the babies that still lay sleeping in the petals.

"Jennifer Rose, and Jason Kyle." the words, and the memory drifted into his
mind. He smiled as he remembered the names they had chosen. He had been there
for Deanna when the babies were born....the aliens allowed them to bond for
weeks before pulling them away. The realization pleased him, but it also
troubled him.

A small boy seemingly Vulcan stood over the sleeping babies as they arrived.

"They make funny faces when they sleep." The boy laughed, Will and Deanna both
looked at each other surprised by the burst of laughter. For a Vulcan, even a
young one, laughter was hardly ever released. Will turned his attention to the
little aliens, they seemed very agitated, and unable to be still.

"Our little Pixie friends seem to be having a moment." Deanna also turned her
attentions to the small creatures. Her eyes widening, as literally out of
nowhere an old man appeared. The children all ran to meet him surrounding him
with much affection. The most exuberant, the two lifeforms that had brought
them here. Will felt an intense chill run up his spine, as he came to terms
with what he had seen.. He leaned closer to Deanna.

"These creatures aren't hiding in the light, there not iridescent....I believe
there shifting between dimensions." Deanna felt the same chill, as she agreed
with Will's words.

The reunion between the children and the old man was heartwarming, even with
the conclusion the two officers had just drawn they both found a smile touching
their mouths. Even Jennifer, and Jason giggled with delight at the happy sounds
that rang through the forest. But as quickly as the delight began it was
extinguished by the slight flutter that fractured the atmosphere. One of the
oldest children walking toward the small ripple that glistened in the air. The
two winged life forms pulled on the child, Deanna sensing their alarm at
whatever was happening. Will shot quickly to the boys side, assisting the two
in their struggle to stop the young man. The boy seemed oblivious to the
pressure the three were putting on him, and walked in blind faith towards the
vortex. The small life forms alone could have never stopped the boy from the
vacuum that seemed to be pulling him, but Will's strength was something it
hadn't counted on, the calling ceased, sending Will and the others into a pile
on the ground.

"What the hell was that?" Will looked at the still rippling vortex, and then to
the boy on the ground beside him.

"It's my turn to go." the boys tone so matter a fact, it was as though his
destiny had been set in stone, and it was impossible to stop it.

"DO NOT INTERFERE!!!" the voice causing the ground to shake below them. Will
crawled across the ground, standing up in front of Deanna and his children. The
other children and the two life forms followed the commander, all huddling at
his feet.

"They are terrified." Deanna whispered. Will looked around at the children all
struggling to wrap themselves around him. "I got that much Deanna, But of
what?" His question answered with the flash of white light that exited the
ripple of time.

"Something do." the voices of the winged ones spoke. Will looked at them and
then at the cloud of energy that hovered before him.

"What am I suppose to do.......I don't even know what it is." He looked at
Deanna, their children wrapped securely in her arms. It floated in and out of
existence, he assumed it was unable to fully appear in this dimension. The tiny
creatures grabbed Deanna's arms pulling her forward. She placed her babies on
the ground, and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet by the creatures. Will
gripped her arm, stopping her from going forward.

"It wishes to communicate through me." He kept his hand wrapped firmly around
her arm.

"I don't care what it wishes! You are not going near it." She felt her own
fear, and tried to shield it from Will.

"It's not dangerous, only curious about us. Please let me do this."

He reluctantly released her arm, his body tensing as she vanished into the
white light. Within moments she walked back to him.....a gentle smile on her
face. The bright light faded into the vortex, the lush planet returning to an
endless sea of red clay. The children released their hold on Will, as he ran
towards Deanna. He could see her eyes were moist, but the soft smile still

"They are gone." He could feel the intense emotions that encircled her. She
released the shield on her mind, sending all she learned to him. They held each
other close, both trying to deal with the despicable crime this life form had
committed. Will reflecting on his own barbaric ancestors, who had done to
animals what these people had done to children. In the twenty century scientist
preferred that well adjusted, loving house pets be used for their
studies....which was why the aliens had furnished these children with much
security and love. According to what Deanna had said, they never harmed the
children, only studied each species thoroughly then returned them to die in the
happy environment they had grown up in.

"We were the first parents to ever return. They had no idea what they were
doing was wrong until they probed my mind, and found the love I felt for our
children. I could feel their regret Will....they will never forgive themselves
for their mistake." He pulled her closer, his mind unable to think of a
punishment worthy of such a terrible crime.

"Daddy, tell the story of the fairies!" The two children jumped up and down on
the bed, chanting the requests. Deanna smiled at the scene, and massaged her
swollen belly.

"Yes Daddy, tell the story." Will's eyes motioned for Deanna to join him on
their bed.

"Heads on the pillows, and then the story." Both the children dove into their
pillows, Deanna settling her head on her husbands chest. He took a deep breath
and brushed a slight kiss through Deanna's hair, before he began.

"Once upon a time there was beautiful maiden, with hair as dark as the night,
and eyes that shimmered like the stars."

"And a handsome prince with a furry face." The twins shouted in unison. He
looked to Deanna, slightly embarrassed by her addition to his story.

"Hey whose telling this story?" He raised his tongue to the roof of his mouth
attempting to keep a serious expression.

"You tell it best." Jenny cradled his face in her hands. "Then back to the
pillow." The little girl quickly obeyed.

"The prince, and the young maiden both traveled traveled through the heavens on
a chariot of lights. They both served the same king, but alas neither one of
them was happy. The young prince thought he was, but deep in his heart he knew
that a piece of himself had been hidden in the stars that they hung in. He
tried everything to make himself feel good, but only the fair maiden knew where
his secret longing was hiding. One day the maiden, and the prince borrowed a
star from the sky, and set off to find what they were missing. The star took
them to a planet, where all their dreams were buried."

"But the bad man that hides in the light." Jason quickly covered his head with
his pillow. Will rubbed his son's back reassuringly. "Yes the creature in the
light, had taken all the precious gifts for himself. But the fair maiden wasn't
afraid and she battled the ball of light, and won the war. But still they felt
sad, and the wee fairies understood.....they were far stronger then their tiny
size, and they used their hidden magic, magic that was hidden even from them to
return all the small gifts to their own kingdoms. After the fairies had worked
their miracles, they were very tired, and weak....but before they returned
to...." Will struggled for a minute. "The fairy place." Deanna stifled a laugh.
He cleared his throat before continuing, a mock look of disgust shot at Deanna.
"They gave the Prince, and his beautiful Imzadi what they had been seeking
among the stars. The gift never really missing, just buried deep inside them.
They took their small gifts...the princess of giggles, and the prince of silly,
and lived happily ever after on the chariot of lights."

Deanna kissed them both and followed Will out of their room. "So Captain, do
you really believe they returned to the fairy place?" He pulled her down beside
him. "I don't know what I believe, except that I've been given a life fuller
then any man could ever hope for. And I'd like to think if I had the power to
fix a mistake my species had made, I would give up my life to do it." Deanna
nodded, and rested her head against his chest. "Your a good man Will Riker."

"I'm a whole man Deanna, thanks to you." He looked out the window at the stars
that shot past the ship, realizing he would never have to run to them again, he
had found his home.

ENDNOTE: no children were actually hurt in the writing of this story, this is
just a question I have often ask myself. If we were given the privilege of
entering the minds of those we use, in the name of science....would we make the
same decision this life force did? I'd like to think so.