Lucid insanity




Find your way to the castle at the center of labyrinth and you'll find my disclaimer;-)

As I already said this is very rough, but will never be touched by me again so bear with me. All comments and confused questions are welcome—Flames will prompt me to say the words, and call on the goblins for help;-)



     Will Riker shivered, the sheen of sweat that slicked over his body bleeding through the sheet that covered him. He turned in this restless state of unconsciousness, his mouth twisting with trepidation, not for the pictures his mind was showing him now, but in anticipation of the outcome of his recurring nightmare.  

{{Snow, crisp and clean, the shimmering curtain of lights overhead adorning the white with a palette of colors that muted as they graced the icy snow. He drew a breath, long and deep, the cold stinging his lungs, sending a current of energy through him as vibrant as the ones that painted the sky. His eyes peered upward, resting on the snowy feathers flecked with tiny black pearls that perched above him. With wide eyes that seemed to look through him the owl watched him, studied him with an almost human intent then swooped down on silent wings.  

Riker's breathing increased, his hands raising even in sleep as he waited for the feathers to brush against his cheek......Instead he felt hair, it tickled against him, catching on the breeze, its color changing under the lights of the aurora. He smiled and looked down at the woman beside him, her face was turned away, but he knew who she was.  

"Caelia." Her name whispered from his lips, and as if he'd given the command by saying it, the sky shadowed, and panic infused the atmosphere. The blackness above opened, the sky glistening with shimmering jewels, raindrops of glass. His body covered hers, trying to shield her, but the icy drops moved through him, leaving him unharmed and helpless as he watched her blood tarnish the silky white snow, and felt the increased warmth against his chest as her wounds deepened.  

<There's still time.> sounded through his mind as the deadly rain lapsed, an ominous shadow overhead turning day into night. He never looked up, he knew it was death that hovered above them, zeroing in on the life as it drained from the woman's shredded body.}}


"NO!" He screamed the word, his sweat soaked sheet falling to the floor beside the bed......He woke up startled, winded and looking with terrified eyes at the ceiling of his quarters.


"Computer, lights!" The computer complied without hesitation, his eyes dropped to his hands, stained with blood. He squeezed his eyes shut and opened them again, the deep burgundy fading to only a pale red, but never completely leaving, at least not in his eyes.


On wobbly legs he stumbled into the bathroom, wondering how much longer he'd be able to pull off this guise of sanity he'd been presenting to the crew since his rescue from Melona IV. Deanna knew, more then he would like to believe......He'd made up excuses to stay away from her since his release from sickbay, but avoiding their newly rekindled intimate relationship had only made her more suspicious. He'd confessed only pieces to her, and only as her lover. In his counseling sessions he'd played only the recovering first officer of the Enterprise E, the same role he was playing for his captain, and the overprotective Doctor Crusher. But playing the role was becoming more and more difficult, the place where dreams ended and reality began had started to overlap.




     "A nut house?!" Riker paced, arms flailing, stopping every so often to glare at the woman that had betrayed him.  

"It's not a nut house Will, it's a retreat, and you'd be my guest. Besides I'm sure I'd enjoy it more if you were with me." Her voice was smooth, composed, her hands folded so calmly on her lap he wanted to shake her.


"Starwood sanitarium ......I don't know about you Deanna, but sanitarium and nut house go hand in hand." He stopped pacing and stood in front of her, looming over her with clenched fists and a look that would have intimated Worf. But not Deanna, and why should it, she knew he wasn't going to pop her, that he could only fantasy about it.


"You'd be my guest, not a patient, and only a small part of Starwood is used for the mentally troubled, the rest is just as I said, a retreat.....a place to relax, meditate, reacquaint yourself with your inner feelings."


He released a belligerent breath, and punctuated it with a nasty scowl, "You must think I'm mentally troubled if you think I'm falling for this line of bull......Because of you, and you alone, Captain Picard denied my request to return to active duty, even though I've seen my tests and I scored well above babbling idiot, or gullible nut case, which seems to be your opinion!"




"No!" he said, rasing a finger of warning, "don't try to tell me you did the right thing by relaying things I shared with you in private to our commanding officer, or is our pillow talk always something you report to the captain...... or do you report our entire sex life?! 'Oh yes Captain, I think he has enough stamina to cover both shifts today, he got me off four times last night.'"


For a moment her sympathetic and oh so compassionate expression fell, outdone by a look of hurt that would have bothered him if he wasn't so annoyed with her, or didn't feel like such a jackass for telling her she'd betrayed him, when she'd done exactly what he would have done if the tables were turned. He walked away instead, leaning his shoulder on the wall and keeping his back to her.


He heard her get off the couch, her steps slow and almost cautious as she came closer.


"Will, it was only a suggestion, the captain said it was up to you, I just thought getting away might help," Her hand lightly touched his upper arm, she moved her head in front of him, her hair brushing against the back of his hand.


He flinched, his body outwardly shivering at the sensation. Jerking back, breaking the contact, he looked at her and felt his mouth go dry.


"Will," she whispered, moving closer, "Will!..... talk to me."


She heard her voice break, an eerie feeling of her own racing up her spine. She tried to get hold of herself, block her emotions, focus on his, and the frightened expression that touched every feature of his ashen face. This wasn't the first time this had happened, but his episodes were becoming more frequent, and his emotions while they happened became more and more vague.


"Do you see her now Will?" she asked, keeping her voice free of any intonation and the touch she placed on his arms unobtrusive.


For a heart stopping second she lost all sense of him, and panic waved a taunting finger in her face. Her grip on his arms tightened, unwanted tears glistened in her frightened eyes.


"It's all right." His voice and his hand touching her cheek came simultaneously, driving away her panic, but heightening her concern.


She helped him to the couch, guiding this huge man with the same ease one would guide a small terrified child. He clutched her hands as she settled beside him, holding on to them as if they'd anchor him, prevent him from drifting into this dream world that was consuming him. She needed him to talk, tell her what had happened while it was still fresh in his mind, help her to understand what had happened to him on Melona IV. But she couldn't bring herself to push him.


He'd been so close to death when they'd found him, critically dehydrated, his heart couldn't have held out much longer. It had been four horrific days of wait and see, four days that she'd never left his bedside. And in that place, that line he was walking between life and death, he mumbled one word over and over.....Caelia. The word had been alien to her, whether it had been another woman, a childhood friend, a language she was unfamiliar with she assumed she'd never know, that was until he woke up.


"Maybe Starwoods not a bad idea." His voice was hoarse, as if his words had struggled past tears in order to be said.


He slouched back on the couch, draping an arm around her shoulder, pulling her with him until her head rested against his chest. She listened to his heart, feeling its rapid beating against her ear.


"We'll find out what's happening Will."


Tucking her hand under his sweater, she stroked it against the smooth cotton of the shirt underneath. The beating of his heart slowed, settling into the familiar rhythm that had always comforted her, but the strength that she'd always been able to derive from him was faint, healing his own wounds, wrestling his own demons.




     Deanna draped her leg over his thighs and rested her head on his shoulder, her fingers tracing invisible masterpieces over his chest and stomach. His skin was still polished with sweat, his chest hair moist and course against her smooth hands, she found if she concentrated very hard she could convince herself that everything was how it once was. And for a moment she did, watched her hand raise and fall on his stomach as his breathing slowed, ran a tongue over her lips where their combined taste still lingered, and inhaled deeply, filling herself with the vague woodsy scent of his cologne, veiled beneath a scent that was his own. But the silken fiber of her cocoon broke away as he shifted beneath her, his restlessness and distance manifesting itself in the low sigh he released.


A growled, almost unrecognizable I love you had been the only words he'd spoken since the single kiss she offered him earlier had become more urgent, evolving into a passionate encounter that had left her breathless from the physical, but empty at the same time.


Will's skills as a lover had always surpassed any man she'd ever known.....In one of his more 'humble' moments he'd told her he could pleasure a women in his sleep, that once the skills were learned, it was as natural as breathing. She'd given him a nasty look, pretended to be annoyed, but she hadn't really doubted it. But then that wasn't why their love making rocked her world. Not that she was complaining, knowing how much, how little, how fast, how slow, where and when were all part of the power they both had on each other, but the crucial part, the part that separated Will from anyone else, was that when he made love to her, the entire universe melted away for him......She was the only thing he felt, the only thing he saw, and the only thing he wanted.  But not tonight, tonight they weren't alone, and only a part of him had joined with her.


She sighed and kissed his shoulder, he responded by drawing her closer, massaging his thumb against her skin.


"What are you thinking?" she asked, lifting her head off his shoulder, watching his eyes move behind his lids, his dark lashes almost disappearing as they dusted against the deep blue circles beneath them.


"Nothing," he mumbled, moistening his lips, but keeping his eyes closed.


She didn't challenge him, but continued watching him.


"Well something, but it's not very romantic." His eyes partially opened, a lopsided smile, one she knew he could call up on command curled his lips.


She smiled back, reaching up she traced her index finger over his lips. He kissed it, and straightened up, propping himself against the wall.


"It's weird Deanna, these lines....lines from a book I think, keep playing in my head....But I'll be damned if I can remember the story or where I heard it."


"What are they, maybe I'll recognize them." She sat up beside him, eager for anything he was willing to share with her, anything that had at least a shred of reality and wasn't only a fabrication of his mind.


He looked down, then at her, then past her as if somewhere in this room he'd find the source of what he was about to tell her.


"I'm sure it's nothing......Sounds like a children's story though."


"Maybe if you say them out loud the rest will come to you?" she said, wrinkling her nose at her own suggestion.


"Worth a shot I guess," he answered doubtfully before beginning, "'Nobody saw the owl, white in the moonlight, black against the stars, nobody heard him as he glided over on wings of velvet. The owl saw and heard everything.'" He shrugged as he finished, "See, means nothing."


"It might," she encouraged, certain she'd never heard the words before, but hoping whatever tale they belonged to would help her unlock this steel door he'd constructed in his mind, "You don't remember the story per say, but does it call up any feelings? What about the owl, there's an owl in your nightmare....what do you think of when you see a snowy owl?"


"Deanna.....," he shifted, repositioning himself and sliding his hands behind his head, "It's very,......odd, being counseled by a naked woman, and even harder to think about owls."


His chuckle was forced, a ruse to deter her, as was the innuendo and the mock look of lust he moved over her.


"Fine," she said, leaning over him, pulling the sheet off the floor and wrapping it around her, "Now, think about owls and not boobs. What does the white owl represent to you?"


"My mother?" he smirked, rolling his eyes and running his hand over his hair.


"Really, that's interesting, please continue." She matched his glib smile with her own, more then satisfied as his fell way.


"Knock it off Deanna......Prayers.... when I think of white owls I think of prayers."




"Because when I was at the academy I met this guy....Tanarian I think, anyway his people believed that the silent wings of the owl carried prayers and wishes to the gods."


"Is that what the owl did in the story?"


No....I don't know, I don't think so."


She opened her mouth preparing to fire off another question.


"That's enough Deanna, you're teetering on pain in the ass," His hand cradled the side of her neck pulling her against him gently, but using enough pressure that she understood he was done playing twenty questions, "I'm tired Deanna, if I can I'd like to sleep."


She nodded her head, enjoying the sensation of his rough skin as it brushed against her cheek. She wouldn't push him anymore, but tomorrow before they left she'd pay a visit to Data. If the lines of the story, and the owl were taken from some part of his past, then maybe the rest of the dream was the same thing......Something his subconscious mind had hidden away.



   Before six hundred hours Deanna was ringing the chimes to Data's quarters. Her night of sleeping beside Will had afforded her little to no sleep, but her presence there had seemed to calm him. He was still dreaming, repeating Caliea's name, his body jerking awake each time he fell asleep, but she found if she stayed close enough to him, kissed his back, massaged his shoulders, his fear of releasing himself to his subconscious wasn't as severe.


She smiled, a groggy smile she was sure as the doors to Data's quarters opened, her sleepy eyes widening at the android's attire. Cane in hand, crisp white shirt, tie and tails and an oversized top hat sitting slightly off center on his head.


"What are you suppose to be Data?" she asked, biting down hard on the inside of her bottom lip, not wanting to laugh, at least until she understood what aspect of human behavior he was studying today.


"At doctor Crusher's suggestion I have been studying the fine art of dancing, at present I am mastering the steps of someone named Fred Astare. I have found his movements almost impossible to follow."


"You Data.....I find that hard to believe?" She stepped inside, her eyes dancing over his cabin. Data's cabin was always the most interesting place on the ship, his various hobbies, his limitless interests gave his quarters the appearance of a museum.


"I am beginning to believe that this Fred Astare was devoid of bones in his I do not have bones and have been programmed to mimic all human mannerism I falsely believed that learning to cut a rug, would be a simple endeavor."


"They say practice makes perfect Data." she smiled, stepping back, admiring the watercolor displayed on the easel beside his desk.


Data grumbled an agreement, but surprisingly didn't challenge her comment, instead he launched directly into his findings.


"I have researched the present state of Melona IV Counselor, and just as our original readings suggested the planet will be incapable of sustaining any life for several more years. The devastation caused by the crystalline entity was just as severe on Melona as it was on Omicron Theta, Forlat III and all other known sites that the entity consumed."


"Mmm," Deanna nodded thoughtfully, shifting her gaze from the painting to Data, "That's what I figured."


Data's brows raised, and she was sure he was wondering why she'd insisted he run the tests three or four times. But she had to find out, she hadn't believed little Clara Sutter when she'd insisted Isabella wasn't make believe......She'd learned then, that sometimes rational isn't the answer. She found herself smiling, and it was almost funny now. She knew when she had children of her own, any reports of shadow men living under their beds would require a full investigation, and not just for the children's sake.


"Is something amusing Counselor?"


"No," she said, waving a hand in front of her face, dismissing Data's question, "I was just thinking."


"About Commander Riker?"


"No." She sat down on the couch and leaned forward, folding her arms across her legs, "about Clara Sutter."


"There is no evidence to support  Commander Riker's contention that he was taken care of by a life form on Melona four......It is much more viable that this life form was his minds way of protecting himself.... and with the Commander's reputation, a beautiful woman would me very logical."


"Good point Data." She smiled, propping her chin in her hand.


Data seemed pleased as he sat rigidly on the couch beside her....she wondered if it was because she'd agreed with him, or because she was allowing him to talk without interrupting.


"I have another theory as well Counselor, if you are interested...."


"I'll take anything about now Commander." She watched him, his eyes moving around the room, his mouth drawn into a thoughtful frown. Watching Data emulate human expressions had always fascinated her....Humans tried so hard to conceal their feelings behind a blank expression, and yet Data, emotion chip or not could be easily read....She found it refreshing.


"I am only speculating of course, but Commander Riker has almost died twice on Melona IV, and the first time he lost someone that was very special to him......A very beautiful woman as I recall."


"Carmen....that hadn't occurred to me." Deanna straightened, "Actually I hadn't even considered his experience with the entity. I do know he carries a lot of guilt about it.....Not only about Carmen, but the anger he felt towards the life form......His feelings were very conflicting when Doctor Marr destroyed it. I'll mention it to him when we get to Starwood."  Reaching into the deep pockets of her sweater she pulled out the PADD she'd used to transcribe the words Will had recited to her, she only hoped she'd gotten them right. "In the mean time can you look at these words, tell me if you can find any books, children's stories, even folklore where they would have been used."


Data accepted the PADD and glanced at it briefly, his lids beginning to flutter over his golden eyes.


"A novel by ACH Smith... adapted from a late twenty century screen play entitled the Labyrinth ....."


"What's it about Data?" she asked, moving closer to him as if she could speed up the process.


"Working." His announcement only meant to pacify her.


"Hum," he finally said, his head tilting, his expression displaying complete confusion,  "A young girl seeking to free herself from her responsibilities offers her baby brother to the goblins...."


She half listened as Data recounted the story in very few words, if this was a wonderful children's story, then Data had missed the mark in his translation.


"Just tell me about the owl.....what's the owl?"


"He is the king of the goblins of course."


"King of the Goblins?" she said, her shoulders sagging as she lifted herself off the couch.


"Are you leaving Counselor?" Data stood up and followed her to the door, "Was it something I said?"


"No, you've been very helpful Data, I just need to rethink my diagnosis ....I'm not sure the goblin king is at the root of Commander Riker's problems."



      Riker dropped his luggage on the intricately designed quilt that covered the bed in the suite they'd been assigned, and returned his attention to the incredible world beyond the glass doors. With a wave of his hand the center door slid open, he drew a breath of the sweet air before stepping out onto the balcony.


<Like something out of a dream.> he thought, looking down at the dense carpet of bluegrass that spread through the gardens, separating the various beds of flowers and winding paths of cobblestone. But then by all counts that's exactly what this planetoid was, a scientist dream; a manufactured world that captured the first heartbeat of spring in the mountains and preserved it for eternity. And just for an instant as he breathed in the cool air, smelled the rich scent of the pines and cottonwoods their branches trembling in the light breeze, he forgot why he was here.


"Do you still think it's a nut house?" Deanna slipped under the arm he'd leaned against the railing of the balcony, and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"It's unbelievable." he answered, watching his breath leave his mouth, but never lowering his gaze to her.


He felt her eyes looking up at him, but he continued to stare ahead, focusing on the snow covered mountains as they kissed the blue-white sky.




The cool railing he held on to heated as his grip tightened.


"Will, tell me about Caelia?" Her voice was soft and unthreatening, but his defensives raised immediately.


Why couldn't she just leave him alone, why did she have to keep pushing him. He'd been happy out here, away from her probing eyes and her persistent questions and speculations. He was certain this question stemmed from her latest theory, that somehow Carman and his unresolved feelings about the crystalline entity were behind his nightmares.


"Deanna," He drew a breath, hoping the chilly air would suffocate the flames of anger that were building inside him, "Caelia is not Carmen."


"How do you know Will, the mind is a complicate machine." She pulled her arms from around his waist, and cradled a hand against his cheek, "Guilt, whether it's warranted or not is a very powerful emotion, on......"


"I don't feel guilty for not being able to get to her damn it!" His voice elevated as he declared his innocence for what seemed the hundredth time, "I made the right choice, I couldn't run back to Carmen, not without jeopardizing the little boy I was carrying. Carmen would have understood that, I understand that, why the hell can't you?!"


"Just because you understand it, doesn't mean you've accepted it."


"Fine," he snapped, raising his hands in submission, "You're right, Caelia is Carmen, the raindrops of ice in my dream are the manifestation of the destroyed entity .......Now leave me alone."


He turned away from her and moved back inside, angry and hurt that she just couldn't take him on his word. This was more then a dream, and Caelia was not a composite of some hidden guilt. Deanna Troi was fastly becoming his worse nightmare instead, preventing him from acting on his instincts, the ones that told him Caliea needed him.


"I'm sorry Will."


Flinging his arm across his eyes he grumbled an acceptance to her apology, and listened to the fire in the fireplace snap and crackle.


He felt the couch dip as she sat down beside him, and then her hand as she rested it on his chest.


"I just want you to be able to look at me again.....I just want things to be the way they were before your shuttle crashed."


He heard her voice break, and without looking he could picture her dark eyes glistening with tears. Tears, Deanna's tears, warm and salty had always melted through his anger, his frustration, even his own sadness, but not this time.


"I'm going for a walk." he said, lifting from the couch, never affording her a look.


She didn't offer an argument as he jerked his coat off the hook by the door, tossed it over his shoulder and moved without turning back out the exit of the suite.      


Deanna stared at the door long after it closed behind him, trying to convince herself that she was doing the right thing in trying to explore his feelings, but more importantly that she was doing them for the right reasons. Will was telling the truth when he'd said that he had come to grips with his guilt over losing Carmen, had she latched onto Data's theory because it made sense, or because it was a way to explain these deep-felt feelings he had for this Caelia. And they were intense, so intense that when he'd called her name while he was sleeping on the shuttle, the emotions he was feeling had wrapped around her heart and squeezed until she thought it would explode from the pain. Her own pain.


Was there a woman somewhere in Riker's life that he cared about so deeply she held the reigns on his entire existence? She shook her head and wiped the tears away from her cheeks, chastising herself for her selfish emotions. A knock on the door and the sound of a female voice from the other side shook her from her thoughts.

Shooting a look to the old fashioned grandfather clock that guarded the entrance to the bedroom she knew who her guest was.


"One moment Doctor Wynne!" She called to the door, running into the bathroom to throw some water on her face, rid herself of her own problems.


"Take your time Counselor."


The doctor's response was lost as Deanna turned on the water, cupped her hand beneath the warm flow, and examined her puffy eyes in the mirror.


<Great, I look like the one in need of counseling.> She lowered her eyes to the water she'd pooled in her hands, a thick brown liquid filled them instead......Gasping, she stepped back, watching as only crystal clear drops of water splashed over the sides of the porcelain sink and dribbled onto the floor.



  Riker stared at his boots as he trudged through the snow, the light dusting getting deeper and covering the tops of his boots. His guilt over walking out on Deanna seemed to be stalking him, but his anger still guarded him, fending guilt away before it could catch up with him. He shook his head loosely, wondering how the woman that had taught him that the intangible had just as much substance as that which could be touched and tasted could ignore his claim that these dreams may be something more......A plea from Caelia. But then there was no Caelia according to Deanna....hell no, she was Carmen, and he was loosing his mind over a woman whose 'desserts' stood out in his mind more then the woman herself.


Brushing some snow off an old Cedar bench with a gloved hand, he sat down and leaned back, the old wood creaked under his weight, then accepted him. She'd taken his admissions and turned them into a provocative case study, when she looked at him, it was never with the eyes of his lover, only with the concerned eyes of a counselor. And her speculations were growing old, too involved. There was a simplicity to his dreams, a simplicity she'd twisted beyond recognition; the fear, the book , even the owl had become something more then he'd first felt when he'd returned from Melona.


He yawned, his eyelids felt heavy, even here with the cool breeze against his face the heat from the sun attempted to seduce him into sleep. He refused to submit.


"Hey Mister."


Responding to the small voice his head turned slowly. He smiled at his visitor in spite of his surprise. She couldn't have been more then six, bundled in a pale blue snow suit, matching hat, a ponytail of liquid night hanging down the middle of her back. Her nose wrinkled in a childlike fashion in response to his observation, but she continued smiling, her brown eyes sparkling, amplifying her grin.


"Should you be out here all by yourself?" An adult comment he knew, but the first one that came to him.


"I'm not by myself, I'm with you."


<Touché.> he thought, patting the bench beside him, encouraging her to sit down.


"Do you have a name?" he asked.


"I do, do you?" She ignored his invitation to sit beside him and crawled onto his lap instead. He allowed it, to be honest it felt good. In her layers of clothes it was more like holding on to a teddy bear then a little girl, and she had that smell, one that radiated purity and innocence .....A little girl smell......He'd decided when he was just a kid himself that mother's must use some special shampoo on all little girls to give them that scent. Whatever it was, he liked it.


"Will..... call me Will." he answered, eyeing the book he hadn't noticed she had tucked under her arm. His contentment shifted to suspicion, "Did a pretty lady send you out here?"


"Nope, I followed you.....You didn't look like you were watching where you were going....I wanted to make sure you didn't get lost."


"I must have been very distracted not to have noticed such a beautiful lady was following me."


"Is that a line?" Her dark brows wrinkled, her eyes examining each of his features as if she could see behind the smile he was offering her.


"Not a line, a compliment......Big difference," he said, raising his finger and tapping it lightly against her nose.


She shrugged, "Would you like to read to me?"


Riker regarded the book she held under her blue mittens, every fiber of his being telling him he was being set up by a meddling Betazoid. She'd pushed him to read it on the shuttle, refresh his memory, and he'd refused; too tired he'd told her, he already felt he was trapped in a labyrinth, he sure as hell didn't want to read about one.

"Start here." The little girl opened the book, it's cover worn, its pages stained, not at all like the copy Deanna had replicated.


"OK," he said, moving his eyes once over his surroundings half expecting to see Deanna peering out from behind a rock, "Start, with the worm?"


"Yep, right here with; No, I'm just a worm."


"If you can read it, why am I reading it to you?"


"Because I like the sound of Daddy voices."


"Where is your daddy, don't you think he's going to worry?"


She blew out an impatient breath, then frowned, obviously annoyed with his stalling.


"OK, I'm reading." He drew a breath and repositioned her on his lap, holding one side of the book as she held on to the other. She smiled up at him, he did his best to look as excited about his trip into the labyrinth as she was, he failed and began reading instead,


""Who, me?" It grinned. "No, I'm just a worm." Sarah nodded. She might have expected as much. "Come inside and meet the missus," the worm invited her."

Riker chuckled, his chuckle drawing another frown from from his audience. He quickly resumed his reading.


"'She managed a faint smile. "Thank you," she told the worm, "but I've got to get through the Labyrinth. And there are no turnings, or openings, or anything." She blinked away hot tears. "It just goes on and on."  "Ooh," the worm said, "you ain't looking right, you ain't. It's full of openings. It's just that you ain't seeing 'em, that's all." Sarah gazed around in disbelief. The walls stretched away forever on either side. There was no logic to it. Or maybe there was nothing but logic, and that was the trouble: all logic and no rea......"


<Commander Riker.> A low voice and a hand firmly shaking his shoulder jolted through him.


"What?" He shook his head, trying to clear it, his eyes adjusting to the sunlight that streamed into them.


"Counselor Troi sent me to find you.......You must have been pretty damn tired to have fallin asleep out here, it's cold."


Riker nodded, doing his best to mask his disorientation from the adolescent male that stood over him.


"Are you coming in or do you want me to tell her where you are.....God, I hate the cold." The kid punctuated his feelings by tucking his hands under his arm pits and shivering dramatically.


"No, I'm coming." Will answered, standing up and following slowly behind the young man who was practically running back towards the buildings.


<What was I doing?> Riker thought, casting a look over his shoulder, certain he'd left something behind.



    "I'm sorry Will." That had to have been at least the tenth time she'd apologized to him....He halted the glider they both sat on, the rhythmic creaking ended, reestablishing the eerie wintry silence of the planetoid.


"I overreacted Deanna, you don't have anything to be sorry for." His words, the kiss he placed in her hair all performed with mechanical precision; the truth was his mind was somewhere else entirely, cutting back into reality only when it invaded the pictures that flashed in front of his eyes. Bloodstained crystals trapped in a cyclone of ice and snow played repeatedly through his head, the sound of the wind as it dragged the funnel upward, like waves crashing against a rocky coast.


"I shouldn't have pushed you to see something that wasn't there." Her voice silenced the sounds of his illusion, and he dropped his gaze to her.......The thunderous roar, replaced by only the soft dripping of the icicles as they fell victim to springs warmth.


"Or maybe it is there and I just ain't lookin right." He heard himself say it, at least he thought he had, but he'd be damned if he could remember forming the thought.


"What does that mean Will?"


He drew the arm away he had cradled around her shoulder, and ground the heals of his hands into his eyes, sorting through the distorted images, trying to clarify them.


"It's that book Deanna, I think I understand why it keeps haunting me." Pulling his hands away from his eyes, they adjusted slowly to the milky moonlight that bathed this surreal world, coating reality with an aura of fantasy.


"This afternoon while I was napping, before you sent your patrol out after me...," She opened her mouth to speak and promptly closed it, he hesitated, giving her time. She shook her head.


"....Fragments of the book have been moving in and out of mind since then, some very clear, others only vague memories ....but all of them seem to call up one emotion.....Panic, and it all hedges on.... "Then you will find what you want only as long as you stay in your dream. Once abandon it, and you are at the mercy of other people's dreams. They will make of you what they want you to be. Forget them, Sarah. Trust to your dream."" He blurted out the quote as easily as his own access code, his mouth fell open as the words slipped out, "That's not what I wanted to say....Why did I say that?"


His throat felt dry, his hands trembled, massaging the back of his neck with one, he griped the arm of the glider with the other, hoping to hide it from her.

"Some part of you wanted to say it Will, and maybe we should listen to that part." Her weight shifted, the glider rocked, the squeaking scratching over his raw nerves.

"How so?" he asked, clearing his throat, swallowing past the stinging lump that was swelling there.


"Remember we talked about hypnosis, about trying to see what your conscious mind finds too damaging to permit you to see." Her hand moved against his leg, soothing strokes of comfort, but he didn't feel them.


"No!" He shot to his feet, rejecting her offer with a fierce conviction that left her open mouthed and staring. And he let her hang without explanation, not willing to share that the panic he'd referred to earlier stemmed from his own loss of control.


She drew a deep breath, quenching her own irritation with him, not for his outburst, but for refusing every avenue she'd suggested.


When he stopped, one foot in the bedroom, the other still on the balcony she stood up and moved towards him.


"It's all right Will, I understand." Touching him, she felt his muscles tense then relax as he turned around to face her.


And for an instant he let his guard drop, maybe because he couldn't voice his feeling.....But in that heartbeat of time she felt his chilling fear, and his heated anger at his own powerlessness.


Her eyes burned, and she revealed her own emotions to him, lowering the shield she'd used to protect him. His blue eyes clouded, his hand cradled her cheek and he moved his face to within a breath of hers.


<I love you Deanna.> His breath warmed her cheeks, his silent thought warmed her soul.


"I love yo....."


A splintering crack and Will's eyes flew upward, his hands jerking her back and away as the ice crystal that hung like a shimmering dagger shattered on the balcony behind her.


His hands released her, she steadied herself on the doors, focusing on soothing the aftershock that shook through her.


Will knelt down beside the shattered ice, sorting through the translucent pieces as if something was buried beneath them. He picked up one and held it in his palm, watching it with a rabid intensity that compelled her to kneel beside him.


His palm flexed and relaxed, the melting fragment of ice shifting with his movements......"I remember the rain," he said, "It isn't rain Deanna......the fragments of ice in my dream, it was a life form."


"What?" Hooking a hand around his arm she encouraged him to stand up....he didn't resist.


"I could never see before, or I never allowed myself to see." His voice was distant, like something out of a dream itself, he walked blindly beside her and settled on the bed.


"They weren't cutting her, they were biting her, burrowing into her skin....tiny translucent creatures." He outwardly shivered, she did her best to prevent her own body from following suit.


She put a pillow under his head and covered him with the quilt, he continued his graphic and somewhat bizarre description, she intervened, preventing herself from being pulled into his nightmare.


"Will, that still doesn't explain why you were unharmed, why they only attacked her." She knew her skepticism would provoke him, but she didn't care....she wanted him to get angry, do anything, but stare past her as if she wasn't there.


But he didn't get angry, he only smiled.


"If I can find out where these creatures live, I can find out where Caelia is, maybe get to her." His eyes closed, his smile slipped from his mouth, and in the blink of an eye he was sleeping.


And she was alone, more alone then she'd ever been.



"Don't you want me?" The voice, husky and spoken on broken breaths caused his eyes to flutter open.


And then there was silk; ivory and beige, the beige pushed from her shoulders leaving only her flesh for him to admire. His eyes followed her hands as they moved over her ivory throat, caressed the mounds of her breast, her fingers drawing her nipples into hard peaks, his mouth watering as she kept them just out of his reach.

Candles with flickering red flames converged with the moonbeams, eclipsing her movements with lights and colors, teasing his eyes as the shadows beguiled his view, and her hands fell into the dark curls between her legs.


"God." Rumbled from deep in his chest, and he watched her fingers tickle against the dark hair, capturing his senses in a liquid crystal of desire. He began to speak again, encourage her to continue, when a hand around his erection caused him to gasp instead.


<What was happening?">


He felt her, her hands moving slowly and torturously against his cock, and yet watched her as her hands played her own body, her moans mingling with her scent, intoxicating him.


He groaned, the strokes to his erection becoming firmer, establishing a rhythm that matched the one she had set for herself. His eyes lowered as the delicate touch he'd been savoring intensified, replaced by her mouth; hot and moist...and he watched her, her dark hair feathering over his stomach and thighs, tickling his sensitive skin as her head moved up and down.


"Wait?" A moment of lucid thought......the eyes he'd begun to close, opened, moving  back to her soft moans, and the feel of her breath as it blew against his cheek.


"Deanna?" His choked and winded question answered by only her fingers; rich with her own scent, her own wetness as they glided into his mouth. And he tasted them, twisting his tongue around her offering and staring through hooded eyes at her body as the lights and shadows flirted with her breasts, and kissed her flushed complexion.


Drawing her fingers away she ran her hands over his chest, light touches and fierce caresses followed by heated trails of kisses blazing a path to his mouth......


"Imzadi," she whispered, covering his mouth with hers.


He tangled his hand in her hair, controlling her control....aching for more, and aching for the mouth that fell away from his erection. With a rough jerk to her leg, he enticed her to straddle him, pulling his mouth away, watching her as she came down on top of him......His breath stalled, her body shivered, and for a moment he watched her, rocking against him, her eyes closed, her fingers dipping into her own desire........


"Come on baby....Reach....Come for me." His hands took hold of her waist, guiding her in the control she was losing as her body exploded, engulfing him in an inferno of wet heat until he thought he would drown in the pulsating release that shuddered through her. He turned her over, her body still weak, high on its own pleasure he drilled into her, setting his own pace, clutching at her hips with bruising fingers until his own body was satisfied, and he fell spent on top of her....


"What the hell was that?" he asked, rolling off her, but keeping her pinned under his knee.


"I don't know, thought it might know what they say about sex."


"No, what do they say?" He grinned, wiping the sweat from her cheeks.


"I don't know, they must say something......I figured you'd know." He laughed, following her lead, and though he didn't want to let her go, the heat in the room was killing him.


He jumped up quickly, moved to the glass door and opened it slightly. He shivered as the icy air contacted his sweat soaked skin and hurried back into bed beside her.


"How did you do that?" he asked, pulling the quilt over both of them and taking back custody of the body he hadn't wanted to relinquish.


"It's not the first time I've woke you like that"


"I know, but how did you make me believe that there was two of you?" He felt the resistance as he tried to pull her closer, and looked down at her face....her expression telling him he'd just made one of the bigger mistakes of his life.


"What the hell are you talking about Will Riker!?" She said, jerking away from him, using the quilt as a barricade against him.


"Nothing." He stammered, realizing this wasn't one of his bigger mistakes, it was his biggest.



  Blackmail; he'd been blackmailed by a little Betazoid who'd used his own guilt against him, or at least she thought she had.


He smiled at his own reflection in the mirror and tugged his sweater over his head, he'd agreed to be hypnotized after her session this morning, but he hoped it wouldn't come to that. He had an idea, and for the first time in eons he felt a positive current running through his body. Last night while Deanna had roused him from sleep, his mind had created a fantasy that overlapped her reality. And he knew that that's what was happening in the other aspects of his dream/realities......Someone else's reality was invading his own, it explained why so much of his dreams couldn't be equated to any aspect of his life, they weren't a part of it.

He shot a look to the clock by the door. Five minutes, in five minutes he had to meet Deanna for breakfast, if he didn't show up she'd send another search party out looking for him.


"Shit." he mumbled, taming his hair with a harried swipe of his hand, "I have to remember."


Somewhere in his life he'd heard of crossed-consciousness, and it had nothing to do with goblins, or snowy owls.........or did it? Jerking his coat of the rack, he remembered his first insight into the white owl, before he'd allowed himself and Deanna to twist it into a puzzle with a missing piece.


"That's it!" he said, slapping his fist in his palm, "Tanarians!"



   "Tanarian?" Deanna pushed her cup of coffee away, the aroma intensifying the nausea she was feeling, "I'm looking forward to meeting her." Deanna glimpsed at the doctor, then studied the dying flames in the rustic brick fireplace....the heat dimming, the cool air that sneaked through the oversized French-doors behind her gave her a chill. She pulled her thick sweater tighter around her shoulders.


"Are you all right counselor?" Doctor Barbara Wynne leaned across the table, examining Deanna with the concerned look of a mother, not a colleague, "You look very pale."


"I'm just a little tired," Deanna admitted, smiling at the older woman across from her, pleased when the look of concern that had been set in her gray-green eyes eased to understanding.


"Most people say they sleep like babies when they come here, but I guess this climate doesn't appeal to everyone." Doctor Wynne got up and tossed a few more logs on the fire, the wood sputtered and cracked, the dark bark curling into crimson flames.


Deanna kept her feelings about the frigid climate to herself, and promised herself she'd get some rest......Will's restless nights and fluctuating emotions were definitely taking their toll on her.


"I have noticed Commander Riker enjoys the climate here." Dr. Wynne added, taking her seat and helping herself to a few pieces of a pale apricot fruit Deanna was unfamiliar with.


"Commander Riker loves the cold......forty degrees is balmy to him." Deanna shivered jokingly.


"I'm pleased he accompanied you, Calisa's mother is looking forward to seeing him again."


Deanna tilted her head, her curiosity momentarily deadening her nausea, "I didn't realize they knew each other?"


"Mrs. Evan's was one of the colonist on Melona IV......Commander Riker may not remember her, but considering the story she's recounted to me, I can certainly understand her eternal gratitude towards the Commander and the Enterprise."


Deanna shifted, methodically fingering the napkin in her lap. Running into someone indebted to Will or the Enterprise was not an unlikely occurrence, but one she wasn't sure Will was up to right now. At least not one from Melona IV.


She nodded an understanding and promptly changed the subject, "Tell me more about Calisa. Is her tactile-vision common in Tanarians."


"No, not at all......All Tanarians have heightened perception, but Calisa sees only through touch.....Her fingers send actual pictures to her brain.....We can't explain it, she's never seen anything through sight as we do, but through touch her mind perceives things exactly as they are." Doctor Wynne dabbed the corners of her mouth with her napkin and placed it neatly beside her plate.


"And how long has she been here?" Deanna asked, checking the door, wondering where Will was.


"About a month now. I was concerned about putting her here," She tamed a loose strand of her graying hair, sliding it inside the mother-of-pearl clip that swept it away from her face,  "She is only a child, and even though she's aware that she's different then most, I was worried that this type of treatment may make her see her gift as more of an affliction."


"But she hasn't?" Deanna forced a piece of fruit into her mouth, the bittersweet flavor caused her mouth to water.


"Not at all, I think you...."


The antique barn doors that shielded the dining area from the rest of the guest suites creaked open, the sound stalling Wynne's observation and drawing her eyes behind her, "Calisa.... Mrs. Evans."  Doctor Wynne rose from her chair, greeting the mother and daughter before they'd entered the dining room.


Deanna stood also, her legs feeling slightly unsteady beneath her. She rested a hand on the back of her chair and smiled. Mrs. Evan's held her daughters hand, her olive skin, onyx hair and raven eyes contrasting her daughters sunburst curls, pearly skin and overcast blue eyes.


"Counselor Troi," Mrs. Evan's extended a hand to her, her smile touching her eyes and radiating a genuine joy as Deanna accepted it, "Your ship and your crew will forever hold a place in my prayers."


"Thank you Mrs. Evans, we were all happy about the way things turned out on Melona." Her real feelings about Melona went unsaid, instead she turned her attention to the little girl, "And you must be Caelia?"


She heard her slip, saw Mrs. Evan's expression fall and heard it corrected by Calisa before she could draw breath.


"I'm sorry, and Calisa is such a pretty name too." Deanna apologized.


"Calisa, I want you to sit down beside Counselor Troi and tell her what you see." Doctor Wynne broke up the almost tangible hold Mrs. Evan's had pinned her with, and helped Calisa into the chair beside Deanna.


Deanna noticed the look of panic that crossed the child's face as doctor Wynne pulled her hands away, and how quickly Calisa reached for the arms of the chair to comfort herself. From what she understood, without contact, Calisa's world became black.


"Start with the tablecloth Calisa, tell Counselor Troi what color it is."


One tiny hand kept a steady grip on the wooden arm, the other reached in front of her.


"Yellow with blue flowers, light and dark like the water below the falls." She grinned proudly and looked in Deanna's general direction. Deanna shared a look with Wynne, her gaze moving behind the doctor as the door opened and Commander Riker walked in. His steps slowed as she held up a hand to him.


"Now can you do the same to Counselor Troi." doctor Wynne smiled distractedly at Will, and nodded to Deanna, "Only your hand Counselor, she doesn't need your face."


Deanna looked up at Will, but his eyes were on the little girl, shifting between the mother and daughter....She sensed his vague recollection as he looked at Mrs. Evan's, but he stayed quiet.


"Pretty," Calisa said, both her hands hanging on to Deannas'.


"A little more then that honey." Mrs Evan's encouraged, brushing a strand of her daughter's sun streaked hair away from her face.


"Brown hair with sun-kisses, right mom?"


"That's right, keep going."


"Black eyes, different eyes......," She continued on, describing Deanna with words as accurately as an artist brush on canvas.  Deanna could sense her feelings, her concentration and delight as without sight she saw more then anyone else in the room.

After she'd finished her insight into Deanna, she performed the same on
Will with a few more giggles then she'd had while she'd described Deanna.
But Will seemed to enjoy her obvious infatuation with him, and smiled a
smile that hadn't graced his features in over a month. And she sensed how
relaxed he was, even in meeting Mrs. Evan's and rehashing the attack on
Melona, he carried himself with an ease that should have made her feel
better, but instead magnified her concern.

And he ate, shoveling in platefuls of food that made her stomach churn.

"Aren't you eating Deanna?" he finally asked after eyeing her empty plate
several times.

"No, I had some fruit, I'm not really hungry."

<I'm curious.> she thought to him. He either didn't hear it or chose to
ignore, she would have laid her bet on the latter.

"You should eat." Calisa's voice, followed by her small hand as it rested
on Deanna's arm.

"Really I'm fine......I'm not hungry." She smiled sweetly at the little
girl, wondering if she'd seen it and turned a glare on Will, who didn't see

"But your baby is hungry."

Will choked, Deanna's 'what' stuck in her throat, Mrs Evan's reprimanded
her daughter, and doctor Wynne shot to her feet, her chair toppling over
behind her.

"You're pregnant, but you filled out the questionnaire!"

Will recovered and reacted before Deanna had time to assure Doctor Wynne
there'd been a mistake.

"Why does it matter Doctor....what the hell difference does a pregnancy


"If this risk is so great doctor I would think you'd use more then a
questionnaire to make sure no one that visits Starwood is pregnant." Riker
flexed his hand, easing the white knuckled grip Deanna had on it, but kept
his eyes on the tricorder Doctor Wynne was using on her.

"Inhibitors are 99.9 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, I hardly
consider that a great risk." If doctor Wynne was trying to sound convincing
she'd failed miserably.

"And since the creation of Starwood has anyone fallen into that tiny
unimportant percentage?"

"Only twice." Wynne's thin fingers tightened around the gray shell of the
tricorder and she raised her eyes slowly, focusing only on Deanna; afraid
or unwilling to look at the Commander.

"I'm sorry Counselor, Commander, but the blastocyst has already attached to
your uterus."

Deanna gasped, her emotions wrapping around his throat as his arms wrapped
around her shoulders. This was not how it was suppose to be, someday he'd
envisioned Deanna telling him he was going to be father, but the words 'I'm
sorry' had never played in the conversation. His own eyes burned, but even
as he consoled Deanna with comforting strokes he held Doctor Wynne in a
gaze of liquid anger that carried through his veins like fire.

"Two fucking years doctor, and two deaths because of this parasite......two
deaths too many!" That wasn't what he'd wanted to say, and though the still
composed doctor seemed unaffected by the venom in his voice, he felt
Deanna's eyes looking up at him and her hold on him tighten.

"We don't know yet, lets not get all worked up until we're sure." Wynne's
footsteps echoed over the light wooden floor, he watched her with the eyes
of an owl zeroing in its prey.

"Will, maybe there's still time." Deanna of all people offered him
reassurance. Rolling his emotions into a tight ball he finally looked at
her, dark eyes trying to radiate courage, while her lashes glistened with

"It's going to be all right Deanna, if I have to contact the Enterprise and
get every doctor in all of starfleet in here to figure this out I will." He
closed his eyes and kissed her forehead, holding his lips against her skin,
emitting only calm until he felt her muscles relax.

Another gasp, the hiss of a hypo-spray and Deanna's body fell weakly in his

"What the hell are you doing!" His eyes flew open, Deanna's neck fell back
over his arm, and Wynne raised a hand to quell his regenerated rage.

"I want to check her for the parasites, if she's infected, it's best she
doesn't see what's happening to her."

So calm, so goddamn calm he wanted to kill her. Two lives hanging in the
balance, and the only emotion he'd seen the woman display was the fear that
her little Utopia would be found out. But then she and Doctor Simon, the
genius that had created this world had played God to rid the original
planetoid of a deadly life form that would have interfered in its
construction, killing an entire species because it didn't coincide with
their plans......The compassion to feel for a single woman, and her unborn
child would never have been in her emotional agenda.

"Lay her down please and wait in the outer office."

"That'll be the day lady....I'm not leaving her." He eased Deanna's limp
body down on the bed.

"I don't think it's wise that you stay."

"Too bad." His simple contention affording him a sidelong glance from Wynne
as she accessed a storage cabinet and drew out some form of Tricorder.

"Very well Commander." she said flatly, programming the rectangular
computer and setting it on the table beside the bed.

Her voice authorization cut the light in the room, Riker heard only the
rustling of her dress against her skin as she moved closer to him. The
sound sent a chill up his spine.

"What are you doing?" His voice sounded hollow, echoed through his head. He
reached out blindly in the darkness, his hand brushing against Deanna's
hair, another chill pervaded him, his throat tightened.

"The parasites are invisible under normal light, the black lightening
combined with the inferred scanner is the only way to detect them."

He heard the click of a switch being accessed, above him a large dark light
source cast a strange glow over the room.

And then he felt fear, deep and black, his mind and his eyes trapping him
in a place he'd been before thousand of times. Lights, distorted colors
played over the cabinets in the exam room: an aurora of hues, Deanna's hair
against his skin, its color muted under the light from above caused his
skin to tingle.

The scratching sound of the tricorder being pulled off the metal table
beside him and the beam of red light that followed blurred his vision. He
squeezed his eyes shut tightly, fragments of the red light danced liked
splatters of blood behind his lids, he opened them in fear.

"There they are."

Riker shook himself, looking for a moment of lucidity as Wynne encouraged
him to look through the magnified screen of the tricorder.

He swallowed over the gritty sand in his throat, looking only for an
instant at the hundreds of tiny crystal fragments. Some hovered just above
her skin, others contacting it, laying like tiny snowflakes, then
disappearing as they burrowed into her.

"Caelia!" He screamed and threw his body over hers, startling the doctor.
The lights flickered through the room seconds later.

"Commander Riker.....Commander Riker!"

But he couldn't hear her, his mind and his thoughts in another place, a
place where a single voice whispered there's still time.

{{"I know what you are, you don't have to hide anymore!" Holding his
hands out in front of him as if he could push the ashy haze aside he called
out. You're a dream walker aren't you, and I know you're trying to help
me.......Tell me how?"

Something beyond silence surrounded him, the murky gray mist began to
highlight..... Opaque clouds, infused with colors like the fragile wings of
a dragon fly filled his unconscious, and he moved only towards a feeling. A
feeling he'd felt before, a desperate split in his emotions, that pulled at
him with the deadly force of a graviton wake.

"Who is Caelia?" His voice shattered the tangible silence and echoed like
distant thunder through his mind. A faint sound followed ......A sharp pain
outside himself deadened the sound......He screamed for them to stop, but
it was too late, the stimulant infused hypo-spray caused his eyes to fly

Speckles of light danced over the faces of the four pair of concerned eyes
that looked down on him. His own eyes were wet, the devastating emotions in
his mind causing him physical pain.


"Deanna," His eyes met hers, her relief swaddling the uncanny feelings that
hung just on the edge of his mind, "I'm all right."

Gentle concern infused his blue eyes, they darkened like a churning ocean
as he moved his gaze to Doctor Wynne.

"Who is Caelia Doctor Wynne........Or should I say *what* is Caelia?"

Wynne shook her head, her eyes lowered, concentrating only on her folded

"Come o...."

"Caelia," Calisa spoke up, interrupting Will, "Cailea is the custodian of
the ever land."

Will dragged his gaze away from the doctor, and looked momentarily at
Deanna before smiling at Calisa, "Really......tell me about her."

He watched Mrs. Evan's hold on her daughters shoulders tighten, a silent
reprimand he understood was probably due to the secrecy of the Tanarians
and their belief system.

"I'm experiencing Na'Chatnu Mrs Evans," Her startled reaction, just as he'd
expected. His knowledge of dream-walking could have only been obtained by
another Tanarian, and only a Tanarian that had trusted him implicitly.

A weak, understanding smile pulled at her pale pink lips.

"Caelia is a mythical creature, born in the shadow to protect the gates of
the spirits.... If you're familiar with our beliefs, then you know we see
life as having no beginning and no end."

Riker smiled, a smile of admiration and respect.

"Tell me Mrs Evan's, has anyone ever seen it?"

"Artist renditions taken from ancient documents......Its appearance is
fierce and hideous, masking its gentle motives. Another lesson to our
children, to chose their fears wisely, often times what appears threatening
holds the purest heart."

He shared a look with Deanna, his smile only increasing. He was playing
high card with a deck of duces, and if Wynne saw through him, realized he
was flying on a hunch, she'd never cave. And he needed her to, because
whoever was crossing into his dreams wasn't only warning him, they were
looking for him to help them as well......That was the only concrete thing
he'd recovered from his last encounter.

"Now Doctor Wynne, tell me again that you've never heard of Caelia?"

"This is ridiculous, you're talking about a myth.....a myth with no basis
for truth!" Her calmly folded hands began to move, fidgeting nervously

"Maybe so doctor, but that wasn't the question....the question was have you
heard of it?"

He glanced at Deanna, she nodded, answering his silent question, confirming
the doctor was lying.

"Yes, yes I have, but I still don't understand why you seem so bent on
making it an issue."

"I think you do doc, and I'll bet if I research the development of this
planetoid, check the records that denote the life forms that inhabit it,
I'll find one that you'd never that you and doctor Simon
named yourselves......" He paused, swallowing his disgust in favor of his
contempt, "Cailea is what you dubbed the life form you destroyed, isn't
it........The weed in your garden of Eden?"


"Damn," Riker smacked his palm against the arm of his chair before
swiveling it around to face Deanna, "The Enterprise is still out of
communication range."

Sitting in the center of the large overstuffed couch in their suite the
small woman looked as lost as the expression on her face. Her hand drifted
to her stomach, her hand stroking methodically over the smooth fabric of
her pants, circular motions of reassurance and defense, her only means of
protecting the struggling life inside her.

"Will?" She sounded so sleepy because of the hypospary Doctor Wynne had
given her to slow the parasites invasion, "Do you really believe in

"A month ago I would have said no, but now as farfetched as it sounds it
makes perfect sense." He pushed out of his chair and moved to the couch
beside her.

She settled in against his chest and sighed, "Why would someone do this."

"I don't know," he said, shifting his weight, the arm of the couch
squeaking as he leaned against it, "I just know that my unconscious mind is
working with another consciousness ......The Labyrinth was the key, or
maybe my minds way of letting me know. A childhood story where dreams and
reality overlap, where a little girls dreams became more real to her then
her life. I think that's what my mind wanted me to remember, the clue it
was giving me to understand." He shrugged, her head limp against his
shoulder moved with him.

"Now that you know what's happening, why doesn't whoever it is make
themselves known?"

"I don't know, maybe they can't, or maybe my mind isn't sensitive enough to
hold it after I wake up. All I remember is that gut wrenching emotion. I
wonder...." he mumbled, more to himself then to her, "I wonder if Calisa
could see inside my dreams, see who is trying so hard to save...." His
thoughts trailed off.

"Will," Deanna whispered, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you when this all
started, maybe if I had."

"Hey," he said, tangling his fingers with hers, "I didn't believe me, I
thought I was losing my mind, even now with all that's happened I still
find myself questioning my insanity."

"Let's talk to Calisa." Deanna moved in slow motion as she turned around to
face him, a ghost of a smile giving life to her pale features.

"I'll talk to her mother right now, You rest."

Covering her with the blanket that was draped over the back of the couch,
he tossed another log on the fire before heading for the door. A sharp rap
against the door caused it to rattle, he opened it quickly, not wanting to
disturb Deanna.

"What do you want?" The sparks of hope in his eyes transformed into flames
of anger as he looked at Doctor Wynne.

"I'd like to talk to you and the Counselor, I think we've caught this early
enough that if we abort the fetus Commander Troi will be all right." The
doctor's direct and unfeeling statement combined with Deanna's hysterical
refusal choked through tears cut through his stomach like a double edged

"Get out!" The hand he used to motivate Wynne's departure was more forceful
then he'd planed, the doctor stumbled, he watched her catch herself on the
wall outside before slamming the heavy door.

"Don't let her do this Will!"

"No, no, I won't." Holding her shoulders he assured her without hesitation,
her crystal tears glistening like tiny jewels in the fire light as they
slipped over her flushed cheeks. He held her and consoled her, repeating
his promise as the emotion he couldn't place before played out with the
force of a graviton wake. The decision that can't be made, the impossible
choice, the one he'd made on Melona IV when he'd let Carmen die, the one he
was going to be forced to make now to save Deanna.


In a breath the impossible decision became a devastating reality.
The parasites had already altered the growing embryo, turning pure
innocence into a dangerous weapon. Looking down at Deanna, her hair
feathered over the pillow, a serene expression on her unconscious features,
he found it hard to believe that inside her the life they'd created was
still trying to destroy her.

<Only time will tell.> Doctor Wynne had said after aborting something in
his life he'd been unaware he'd wanted until it had been taken away. The
lump in his throat swelled, through blurred vision he watched the
electroscans flash over the screen above her chest, gauging the progression
of the parasites.

"Don't die." he whispered, leaning so close to her his breath rippled the
damp hair that clung to her forehead, "There's still time for us."

He wasn't sure he believed that, he'd made this decision without Deanna's
consent, and a part of him knew she'd never forgive him, or at least never
forget. But even if this decision had cost him the most important part of
his life, he didn't care.... having her look at him in life, even if it was
only with contempt, was far superior to him then having those same eyes
closed in death.

The hand he cupped and raised to her cheek trembled and barely touched her
skin, he drew it away and turned towards the window on the far side of the
room. Beyond the snowcapped peaks in the distance, above the setting sun,
the sky ignited with pearly lights. His feet echoed against the hard tile
floor as he moved closer, the lights growing paler, then more vibrant, as
if a cylinder prism was being turned above the rays of the sun. Unlike any
aurora he'd seen before, he stared, almost mesmerized by the recurring
patterns that played over the sky, until as quickly as they'd begun, they
gave way to only the changing shades of the evening sky. And he felt the
loss as pain, in his head, in his stomach and over every nerve ending in
his body. His eyes hardly able to open in response to the pounding behind
them saw a movement below the window, against the pain he fought them open,
meeting the gaze of the young man below. He recognized him at once as the
adolescent that Deanna had sent out looking for him, but the familiarity of
the expression on his face called up memories of another time. He spun
around towards the door that led outside, stopping cold as Calisa stood
alone behind him.

"Calisa?" Instinctively he took her hand, giving her sight, ridding her of
the fear on her face, "How did you get here?"

"I followed the lights of your feelings, they're very strong and very

Riker cast a quick look over his shoulder, the young man outside the window
was gone, and though he wanted to go after him, the look on Calisa face
held him in place.

"Where's your mother?" On one knee he knelt in front of her, brushing her
hair away from her cheek he cradled it in his large hand.

"Behind your eyes," Calisa whispered, ignoring his concern, "behind your
eyes are the eyes of another, the one that travels in your dreams. The one
that needs you to understand."

"It's the young man, the one that was just outside, he's the one that tried
to warn me isn't he.....He's the little boy from Melona?" Riker freed a
breath and lowered his gaze to the floor, "But I can't understand what he

"You're still seeing with your eyes," Calisa said, shaking her head,
shooting down his theory in six little words, "you must see with your

"Can't you just tell me, if you know, please...." The sigh he released was
long and deep reflecting the wealth of emotions that slapped against him.

"I can't see," she said, her nose wrinkling like a child's, her eyes
holding the wisdom of a lifetime, "only someone who holds a piece of your
soul can traverse your dreams."

"Deanna," he said, blinking back tears and turning his head to look at her,
"only Deanna holds a piece of my soul."


Calisa had only half smiled when he'd admitted Deanna was the only one
that held a piece of his soul, leaving it to hang, another unresolved
speculation in his mind. He threw a look over his shoulder, the little
girl's silhouette still visible in the picture window of the retreat,
watching him as he moved further away. The light of the full moon bounced
off the fragments of ice that stood like contemporary statues of twisted
glass in the distance, tarnishing the blanket of white snow with muted
tones of color. Keeping his palm lantern fixed on the footprints in the
snow, he continued further away. Leaving Deanna alone to face the loss of
their child should she wake up, an unthinkable, irrational choice, but one
he couldn't prevent himself from following.

Approaching the curved Cedar bench where he'd first encountered the young
man, he stroked his hand over the worn wood, the feeling stirring an eerie
sensation, amplified by the increased breeze that tickled over his skin.
There was a memory here, far away on the edge of his mind, it took the
chill that had pervaded him, and soothed it with a warm hand.

"Daddy." The word left his mouth on a frosty breath, a fainter voice
reiterating it in his mind. He listened with his heart and his soul as it
faded like an echo into the night. His own voice he finally decided, his
own mind reminding him of the life he'd taken, his own anger reminding him
of Doctor Wynne's godlike transgressions. A parasite that prevented
procreation, a carefully engineered way to allow only the planet's creators
to add or subtract from the life that once flourished here. According to
Wynne, the original intent was to induce a natural abortion; on a planet
with few predators, she justified it as a way to control overpopulation.
The parasitic reaction, turning the embryo against its mother's body had
been a mistake, or so she said, he wasn't buying it.

He continued to follow the boy's footprints, the air becoming colder, the
snow more powdery, it carried on the wind, drifting the snow and masking
the boy's footprints.

"Shit," He shined the lantern ahead of him, the trees, their branches
snuggled in ice, shimmered a path. He glared at the tangle of nightshade
that struggled past the icy cold, pale purple flowers, alone and out of
place in the frigid forest. He grumbled another curse under his breath

Over his shoulder, the artificial light of the retreat faded from view, the
terrain in front of him became more rugged, the light of the full moon
dimmed by a smoky cloud. His feet snapped the broken branches and dead
trees that littered the path. Focusing only on the cliff face ahead of him
and the low hum of the breeze, he startled when the ground behind him

"Who's there?" He turned slowly, streaming the light of his lantern over
the thicket behind him. He released his breath and smiled at the doe only
partially visible inside the vines. He took a few steps closer as he
realized she wasn't standing, her fright was clearly visible, but she
didn't run...... or couldn't run.

"It's OK, I won't hurt you." He cleared the vines away from her in time to
see the rear legs of her fawn slip onto the cold snow. Still slicked with
blood, wet with her mother's fluids, the new life struggled to stand,
wobbly legs in crimson snow betraying Doctor Wynne's contention that she
controlled the procreation of life on this planet. He backed away, allaying
the doe's fearful look, the dead trees that had meant nothing before,
screamed that something on this side of the planet was different.

The closer he got to the jagged cliffs of the mountains, the more alive the
forest became; the sound of claws scratching against tree bark, the flutter
of wings and the haunting cry of a screech owl carried on a breeze that
smelled sweet like pine, and musty like rotting wood. He found he was
smiling in spite of his own loss......Somehow these creatures had overcome.
He stopped short, a warm breeze and the smell of sulfur filtered through
the air......He shined his light ahead, igniting the cliff face with his

"Great," he grumbled, his eyes darting between the two openings cut side by
side in the cliff face, "One door leads to the castle at the center of
Labyrinth, the other leads to certain death......dum,dum,dum." He chuckled
as another line from the book he hadn't even remembered until recently
tumbled from his lips, "Too bad they don't talk." he added, poking his head
through one, and then the other. Inside the second opening, he could hear
water bubbling, the scent on the air, sweeter, like cut grass.....or fresh
hay. He chose it, if for no other reason then the scent generated a calming
feeling, the footprints he found a few yards inside as the cold ground
warmed prompted him to pick up his pace. The gurgling sound of water
became louder, a liquid heat filling the passage as it widen, trace
lighting trickling into a wider chamber ahead. He hesitated inside the
passage, shining a cautious beam over the room before stepping inside. A
hot spring, just as he'd expected bubbled in the center of the cave, the
walls, glistening with the humidity were adorned with some kind of nests.
Huge in comparison with anything he'd ever seen, the pale hair, long and
silky that had been used to weave them seemed to disappear under the bright
light of his lantern, flickering back into view like a dewy spider web as
he redirected it.

"Thank-you Commander." He pivoted towards the voice, and felt only the
direct beam of the phaser charge that struck him. His heart burned, his
skin bristled, the smell of his flesh charring and the taste of his sweat
as it trickled over his cheeks into his mouth tugged at his consciousness.
Between life and death he heard another phaser blast, the hollow ricochet
of its beam, a low rumble, and then there was nothing.


"Will!" The sudden outcry and subsequent gasp from the deeply sedated
Betazoid drew Calisa and her mother quickly to her side.

"Counselor?" Mrs. Evan's rested an assuring hand on Deanna's shoulder,
calming her as she fought against the sedative, struggled to utter more
then Commander Riker's name. The firm grip Calisa had on her hand
tightened, her attention momentarily dropping to her daughter. "She needs
to wake up." Calisa said, her bottom lip trembling, tears welling in eyes
she knew could see so much more then her.

"Pl--ea-se," Deanna's desperate request was faint and broken as she battled
towards a lucidity she should never be able to reach.

"You always said you wanted to repay Commander Riker, now is your chance."
Her gaze drifted between her daughter, and the eyes of Counselor Troi,
tears slipping from under the dark lashes that fluttered against her skin.
Her own beliefs, her deepest emotions told her to administer the hypospray,
but there was doctor Wynne to consider.

"Commander Riker is going to move on," Cailisa whispered, "Alone, she needs
to capture his last breath"

She nodded slowly to Calisa, her own tears hot against her cheeks she
remembered her own husbands passing, the gift of his last breath he'd
bestowed on her, leaving behind a piece of his soul until she returned it
to him. With a heavy hand she infused the hypo-spary on the ledge behind
the bed and as gently as she could pressed firmly against Deanna's neck.

The grip she had on the edge of consciousness strengthened, the lids that
hung over partially opened eyes fluttered open, her slow movements to sit
up bringing Mrs. Evan's hands down lightly against her shoulders.

"Stay still for a moment Counselor."

She shook her head against the pillow beneath her, the warm fabric against
her clammy skin felt rough and abrasive, raising her hand weakly to her
cheek she soothed the discomfort, "Calisa, where's Will."

Instead of fighting her Mrs. Evans slipped a supportive arm under her back,
helping her to sit, then stepping backing, permitting Calisa move beside

"He's following invisible footprints, listening with his soul."

"I don't understand?" Her voice was strained, shadowed by the raw pain in
her chest, the pain she assumed to be Wills and the dull empty pain of her
own that hovered behind it, "Mrs Evans see if you can find doctor Wynne."
She only glanced away from Calisa for an instant, long enough to watch the
tall woman disappear out the door. "Calisa, I know you understand Commander
Riker is in danger, if he told you where he was going, please tell me."

"Don't be afraid, he understands the warnings now, he'll save you."

"It's not me I'm worried about, it's him, he's dying." She pushed the thin
blanket off of herself, "I have to go to him!"

Her body was weak, even the restraint of the little girl pushed her back
down on the bed, leaving her helpless, able to feel every nuance of Will's
emotions and do nothing but cry out to him.

"Talk to him," Calisa said, crawling on the bed beside her, "Your baby is
moving too far away, he may not be able to reach Commander Riker anymore.
Tell him there's still time, he'll understand."


His predator was pain, angry and excruciating it drew his breath from
his lungs and chased him deeper into the unconscious, to a place where cold
replaced heat, numbness replaced pain, and only an ivory light cradled him
in its spiraling beam. A crystal bubble of time encased him, shunning the
past, protecting him from the future, affording him only quiet peace. A
breath of relief escaped him, he inhaled another, the stale, hollow taste
of it prickled over his cool skin, and stalled the breath in his chest,
forbidding him to draw another. And panic engulfed him, his impenetrable
bubble of peace suffocating him in his own fear, drowning him in his own

<There's still time.> Deanna's voice tumbled through his mind, carried on
an echo, reiterated by another, smaller and more substantial that drove him
harder to move away from the cool peace.

Pain slowly returned, soothed by a moist heat, an abrasive feeling against
his sensitive skin. A sandstorm of black and gray light gyrated behind his
closed eyes, unable to open them, he moved to his other senses, reaching
for the source of the sensation, the bittersweet scent, and the warm air
that tickled against his skin. The mirrored voices continued in his mind,
even as his pain vanished, the unknown outside himself fell away.

He groaned as he moved his body, heavy lids finally relenting, permitting
him a distorted view of an empty cave. Sunlight trickled over the walls,
the nests barely visible under the rays; he watched them flicker in and out
of sight, the image restoring his garbled memories.

<Doctor Wynne.> He remembered her, a momentary glimpse before she'd fired
on him, a direct hit to his chest. His eyes moved to his open shirt and the
partially healed wound to his chest.

"How the hell," he whispered under his breath, one hand instinctively
raising to the puckered skin, he used the other to try to straighten
himself against the jagged wall. The sticky feeling of the dirt under his
hand pulled his attention to the ground beside him, the thick burgundy pool
and the cold distant stare of doctor Wynne's blood streaked eyes.

"Shit!" Moving against his stiff muscles, he crawled beside her, swallowing
his own revulsion at the extent of her injuries.

1His eyes darted quickly around the cavern; whatever did this had taken her
down while she still held on to the phaser she'd used to shoot him. He
pried it from her rigid grasp, checked the power, and stumbled unsteadily
to his feet. He darted his eyes over the muddy ground, smooth and
untouched, even the footprints he'd left when he'd entered had been
completely erased. But still there was something here he was suppose to
find, something that would save Deanna, he understood now that's what this
was all about.

Logic would have told him to leave, retrace his steps, explore the other
opening in the cliff face outside; he took a step towards the exit and
stopped. Instead he pivoted back towards the Hot Springs, slow, cautious
steps bringing him to the edge of the gurgling water.

Sitting on the ledge of the blue-gray rocks that jutted out over the
crystal clear water, he lowered his eyes to his distorted reflection. The
heat of the spring kissed his wound, turning the shadow of pain into a
fiery blaze that lashed against his chest and caused sweat to streak the
dirt on his face. He winced and jerked back, hot breath and a bittersweet
scent spinning his head around in a momentary panic. His hand slippery with
sweat, sticky with doctor Wynne's blood, he initiated a two-handed grip on
the phaser and slid as far back on the rock as he could, training his
weapon on the creature that appeared to hover behind him.

He prepared to fire.

<No.> The command came from inside himself, not a voice or a word, but an
instinct. The massive creature on silent wings moved closer, its white
iridescent coat shimmering like the nests on the cave walls, flickering in
and out of sight under the streams of sunlight that bled through from
above. Riker focused on its eyes, onyx orbs, rimmed in red that looked
through him, past him, inside his soul. His breath hitched deep in his
chest as the creatures feelings, its anger played out inside him as if it
was his own, the creature's telepathic ability so powerful it caused him
physical pain.

As if a thousand solar flares had ignited inside him, the emotions
threatened to consume him. Verbally and mentally he pleaded with the
creature until coherent thought left him and only his emotional anguish

The pain eased, kissed away with a gentle sympathy, a profound regret and
he finally understood. Communication for this beast was strictly emotions,
the transference and complex matrix of feelings the only thing it
understood. For an instant he wished for Deanna, someone able to separate
and define their emotions. He drew a breath and tried to focus, burying
fear, instead looking to convey understanding and concern. It took time,
but the beast was patient, and patience had a color and a form that Riker
was sure he could see in his mind. He closed his eyes and listened, relayed
his own story in a communicative form in his wildest imagination he would
have never thought possible.

"Will, Will." Real words filtered past feelings on a pink mist, accompanied
by a warm hand against his cheek, his eyes opened.

"Deanna." He wasn't sure if he'd said it, or only formed the image of her
and her name from the emotions she generated in him.

"It's all right Imzadi, I'm all right and you'll be all right." Her face,
still missing its blush of serenity stared down on him.

He smiled and traced a weakened hand against her cheek. "We'll all be all
right," he whispered, his hand dropping to her stomach, his thumb
reverently stroking the empty ache he knew lie inside her.

A frown of sadness replaced her smile of relief and he wished for the power
to convey his understanding and his conviction that their son wasn't gone

"He's coming back Deanna, he's chosen us. His only objective was to save" He coughed. Again Deanna's expression shifted.

"We have to get you back to Starwood Will, " Her fingers brushed against
his forehead, pushing sticky locks of hair away from his skin, "and then
you can tell me what happened here."


The impulse engines of the Enterprise sounded more like a lullaby then
a hoarse rumble. Will Riker flopped himself on the bed in Deanna's
quarters, rested his arm over his eyes, listened to the sound of the shower
and drew in a breath of the lavender scent that drifted from the bathroom.

He'd been home for a week, and the wounds that been inflicted on his flesh
as well as his soul had healed...Deanna, physically mended, still suffered
from a brutal attack of loss.

He equated his healing to the creature, the beast that had transcended
light and dark, had the ability to heal a soul with only emotional
landscapes. Doctor Crusher had written the experience off to
hallucinations, just as she had when he'd returned from Melona, but even
though he thought of himself as a creature of logic, the shadows that time
had had on his memories hadn't shaded his belief that something greater
then himself had saved him.

Riker pushed off the bed and watched the satin sheet fall into a billowing
puddle of shimmering blue on the floor. He picked it up, stopping himself
before tossing it back on the bed. The fabric, cool and light against his
palm created a sensation—No, more then a sensation, a place. The blue
became rain, light and cool against his skin, a scent of newness, a fresh
beginning, a feeling of newborn innocence completed a landscape that
stretched into eternity with dew kissed fields of green.

"Hope." Unaware he was speaking, he whispered the emotion aloud and focused
on the reality his mind had used to portray it.

The fabric still whispering against his palm he felt the sensation change,
silky petals ripped by angry thorns, darkness engulfing light with
blue-black fog. Uncomfortable, he continued to focus on the foreboding,
reaching for the ivory ghosts of milky light that taunted him through the
impenetrable fog.

"Doubt." With his revelation the worlds created by emotion vanished.

He shot a look to the unused pain inhibitor by the bed, assuring himself
that the reality he'd just experienced for the second time was just as
valid as the one he was standing in now.

A few steps brought him to the portal and a magnificent view of the
blue-white world below him—a world created by man, but ruled by the forces
of nature that had somehow healed it. The parasitic organisms, first
generated on Melona had never been meant to serve the purpose Dr Wynne and
others like her had proclaimed. The in-depth investigation into Starfleet
command had turned up several top ranking officials that had plotted to use
the crystal parasite as a weapon, a means of destroying an entire race
without ever having to get your hands dirty.

He turned as the rhythmic beat of the shower ended, glancing for a moment
at Deanna's reflection in the mirror. Her skin glistening beneath the sheen
of water, her hair raining crystal drops of water over her shoulders and
chest he watched her dab the moisture away with a plush pink towel and
smiled. Another vivid image of hope, painted this time by lucid reality.

"If only she could see it," he thought, his thought shadowed by another...
a distant echo or the coo of his own inner voice he couldn't be sure, but
the words reiterated and were accompanied by a sensation that trailed over
his skin like a warm breath. <<Nobody saw the owl, white in the moonlight,
black against the stars, nobody heard him as he glided over on silent wings
of velvet. The owl saw and heard everything. >>

He didn't think, he didn't have to—Thought was his enemy and only luminous
threads of emotions guided him. In what seemed like a single movement he
scooped Deanna in his arms and carried her to the bed.

She never protested as he positioned her between his legs, closed them
around her thighs, encircled his arms beneath her breasts and drew her back
to rest against his chest. He wasn't sure he could do this or even sure if
it was anything more then wishful thinking that had allowed him to believe
that this unknown was here, now, had been, and always would be. His eyes
closed, he listened to Deanna's slow, sated breathing, brushed his cheek
against the cool strands of moisture on her head and held her in an almost
invisible embrace as if with any more strength she'd shattered.

Her sated breaths deepened, became jagged and erratic as fear manifested
itself in a smoky black mist that swirled around the hem of her dress,
swallowed her deeper and deeper as she ran away from the unseen that
stalked her.

She shivered in his arms and the warm flesh tamed her terror, but the
comfort was inside her, the flesh and the low voice, the far away, but
distinct sensation of a security only her father could offer her. The warm
weight of a quilt— lacy shadows of apricot light— and a rough but gentle
hand against her cheek, a cocoon of security that returned its embrace each
time the landscape of her feelings became too much to bear.

She turned her head, rested her cheek against the chest below her and heard
the beating of his heart. The hollow rhythmic beating was outside herself,
but she followed it like a lifeline, images and feelings dulling and muting
until snow-white mist surrounded her. A single tree stood amidst the
purity, its leaves naked and exposed, life could be seen coursing through
each vein.

Cradled in the secure arms of two entwined branches a small nest caught her
eye, a helpless hatching so close to the edge she heard herself gasp for
fear it would fall. Unafraid, unknowing, relying on a greater power to keep
it alive a whisper of wind sent the tiny bird tumbling to the ground. Still
unaware and hopeful the bird disappeared in the mist.

A hand made of moonlight grazed her cheek and an emotion she'd never felt,
couldn't even explain tugged her eyes open, slammed her back into Will
Riker's embrace with a force that stole her breath.

"Will." Even as she spoke his name, turned to cradle his face in the palms
of her hands she was sure she saw a light flicker away out of the corner of
her eye. She couldn't look away from him to find out, in the layers of his
eyes another light called to her...a light that reflected promise and love
and the only source she'd ever need for her healing.

His brows raised over eyes that smiled knowingly and she hardly responded
to the kiss he swept across her lips. She opened her mouth to speak, share,
understand what had just happened.... He shook his head slowly.

"Don't try to understand Deanna...I don't think we were meant to. I think
it was a gift...a gift of hope for our future."

His hand drifted to her stomach, his thumb stroking methodically against
the rough terry cloth towel. She rested her hand on top of his and settled
her head against his chest. His heartbeat still guided her, the hypnotizing
pulse leading her towards sleep, entangling dreams with reality.

She sighed; catching one last glimpse of their entangled fingers guarding
the womb she was certain would someday protect their child. She fell asleep
before feeling a much smaller hand graze and finally come to rest securely
between theirs.


Authors note; this story was suppose to be followed by another involving
Will and Deanna's child, a more detailed look into the Tanarian's
ever-world and the beast that protects the unborn souls. But first because
the topic is too close to religion I shied away and second because even
though a creature that communicates in emotional landscapes fascinates me,
I also found writing it sounded more like garbled thoughts then anything,
even I could understand. So the holes will remain, the creature born in
the shadows will remain a mystery and the question as to where dreams end
and reality begins will be left to one damn sexy goblin king;-)