They belong to Paramount.....I'm just a hopeless romantic, doing what I think
*they* should have done ;)

Commander Riker waited impatiently on the bridge....it had been only moments
since the explosion, but they seemed to be endless. Routine survey mission the
captain had said,.What could possibly happen. He stroked his beard, trying to
stay in control of his emotions.

"Captain?" He knew it was too soon to be asking, but he called again to his

"I'm sorry Will....we're still unable to locate Counselor Troi."

He was spinning the worst of scenarios in his mind, and blaming himself for not
being there to protect her. He closed his eyes, and searched for her.....he
felt nothing. If she were in real danger she would call to him....even in there
present relationship in desperate times they always found each other. He felt
his stomach twist as Beverly's words echoed through the bridge.

"Medical emergency....beam two directly to sickbay."

No time to wait for an explanation, he scanned the bridge

"You have the bridge Mr. Sloan" He barked the order as the turbo lift doors
closed behind him.

The turbo lift ride seemed like an infinite journey, he found himself running
down the corridors leading to sickbay.

"Number one." Captain Picard spoke, as he blocked Will's entrance to sickbay..

"Where is she Captain?" His eyes met the captains, it seemed his worse scenario
was fulfilled.

"Dr.Crusher is doing what she can." The captains eyes had deepened to a shade
of blue that filled Will's heart with trepidation. As an officer he knew he
should wait, but when it came to Deanna.....somehow the official call of duty
seemed unavailing. He pushed by his captain entering the sickbay in time to
hear the words that ripped his heart from his chest.

"Enter into medical log......death occurred at 0600 hours." The words were
choked from doctor crusher's mouth.

He felt himself falling.... spiraling to the ground, lost and hopeless......the
only one who could stop the crash lying lifeless in front of him. Beverly
looked at him he knew she was anticipating the questions he would ask. But he
couldn't speak.....couldn't feel....he felt like his body had somehow been
frozen in time, and his mind had progressed without him. He felt Beverly's hand
as she reached for his arm, he heard sounds coming from her mouth....but he
stood motionless. His eyes fixed only on the lifeless body of Deanna Troi....he
could see Beverly had tried to repair some of the damage that had been done to
the small body....but his heart ached for the pain she must have suffered
before she died. He held her small hand in his trembling one, and closed his
eyes. He pictured her as she once was, not the battered, and bloody body that
lie in front of him..

"I love you Deanna>" he spoke the words, as his heart reflected on the last
time he had said them. How long had it been he thought....a month...a
year....two years. He put his hand to her cheek, wiping away her blood and his
tears as they mingled on her skin. He surveyed every inch of the broken body on
the table, his heartbreak quickly being replaced by anger. He turned his
attention to the Captain, a storm silently raging behind his eyes.

"Cold...so cold." She pulled her knees tightly to her chest and surveyed her
surroundings. The small amount of light that permeated the room, seemed to be
her only solace. The walls and floor felt soft under her touch, and the musty
smell sickened her. She struggled to her feet, fighting to ignore the
agonizing pain in her stomach and the taste of blood in her mouth. She
closed her eyes and reached out with her mind.....she was answered only with a
chilling silence. The quiet in her mind more frightening then the empty space
she had been imprisoned in. She felt the overwhelming pain in her neck, her
body falling helplessly to the floor....the room became darker, and
darker.....until the excruciating pain faded into black.

"It was a routine survey misson....How the hell could this happen." He tried to
contain the indignation in his voice, but his words shot from his mouth.
Commander Data closely observed the first officer, accessing any, and all
information he could offer him. At this particular time the android found
himself quite pleased that he lacked the emotions of his friends.

"Our readings showed no seismic activity in the area....we were unable to
protect ourselves due to the illogical pattern of movement below the surface."

He faced his Commander, his eyes seeming to burn through him.

Captain Picard offered a look of condolence. "When the inner explosion occurred
...Counselor Troi was very close to the edge of the ravine. It was quite a
surprise to all of us, there was little time to react."

Will tried to hide the anger he was feeling, in the depth of his core he knew
if they could have saved her, they would. But if he'd been there, he would have
been watching her closer....Perhaps he would have been able to get to her in

"Her body was too badly damaged" Beverly Crusher's face reflected the heartache
she was feeling. "There was no time to take her into Stasis.....I tried....Oh
Will...I'm so sorry I couldn't save her."

The anger in his eyes tempered as he listened to her, but his own professional
persona was fading fast.

"Permission to return to my quarters, Sir?"

He didn't wait for his Captains approval, or hear his words as the doors
swished shut behind him.

The light was blinding even through her closed eyes.

"Hello" she called out, the light dimming just enough that she could open her
eyes. Only a small semblance of a form appeared above her, her eyes unable to
reconcile with the bright light.

"Where am I ?" The small shadow quickly replaced by a larger one.

"NO questions, Rest." the voice was deep, and she smelled the stale stench of
his breath. Her stomach felt like herds of horses had stampeded across her
while she slept.

"Please, I need to get back to my ship." She closed her eyes for a moment, in
response to the air of death that seemed to surround her.

"No more talk." The voice again boomed through the room....she felt the pungent
pain in her neck....and her own consciousness leaving her.

Commander Riker waited until the doors of his quarters closed, before allowing
the backwash of emotions he had kept hidden, to take control. He slid himself
down the wall, and buried his face in his hands. He allowed each emotion to
play a perpetual game of hide and seek with the other. Until finally grief
became the winner, and forced the hidden tears to fall from his eyes. He cried
until his stomach ached, and his throat burned......until his body was totally
depleted of strength.....and it surrendered to the gentle lull of sleep.

{The pink blossoms filled the air with the fragrance of spring.....the wind
softly blew her dress to her body. He admired her beauty before allowing his
hand to gently stroke her bare shoulder, the skin as soft as the petals that
fell gently around her. Her hair was swept up, a small whisper of curls called
his lips to her neck. He kissed her gently enjoying the flavor of her, he
painted circles with his tongue around the small birthmark on her back. A
blemish that had always been a treasure for her. A part of her father forever
etched on her skin....He cradled her face in his hands....and reached slowly
for her lips.}

He opened his eyes.....his delicate fantasy, shattered by the biting stab of

She felt the soft pillow under her head, and the pink comforter that covered
her. the satin of the sheets, and the dusting of the petals that lined the bed,
a haven too wonderful to relinquish. The pain that had once encompassed her
entire being, becoming only a shadow of a memory. She saw the silk robe that
was spread neatly on the foot of the bed, and slipped it over her bare skin.
She sunk her toes into the plush pink carpet, and admired its feminine decor.
The night stand was covered in the sheerest of pink lace. A box of her favorite
chocolates sat undisturbed next to the flowers that filled the air with their

<I must have had a terrible dream.> she thought, spying the assortment of
exotic oils on the far table.

She fought to remember how, and when she had entered this eden.....but her mind
seemed unable to focus. <Only Will Riker could have created such a perfect
place for them, only he who knew of all things that filled her with joy>

"Will?" she called his name, aloud and again her mind. She was met with only
silence, an uneasy feeling creeping over her. She headed for the door, startled
as it slid open before she got to it. The figure coming out of the shadows, and
into the lighted room. She felt her knees grow weak, and her head feeling
light....... as her own dark eyes stared back at her.

Deanna reached out, and steadied herself on the wall....the face that stared
back at her was definitely her own. A clone, she thought to herself, that would
also explain her earlier pain in her stomach.....she knew the stomach lining to
be the best cloning dna. But something about the woman's eyes made them unlike
her own....perhaps it was the cold, callous expression that seemed to lie
buried beneath them.

"Will Riker will not find you here." The woman's voice sounding just as hers,
but a hint of an echo seemed to accompany it. Deanna quickly dismissed the idea
of cloning, realizing that a clone couldn't retain her memories.

"Where is here?" Her words were faint.

"Here is where you are." The voice emanated from the shadows. Deanna backed
away as the towering figure entered the room. He was a man, very large, with
very coarse features.....but as she looked to his eyes, she quickly turned
away. They were large, dark, and spiritless. That was what she couldn't quite
put her finger on with the woman....their eyes seemed to be locked in the cold
stare of death. He moved closer to her, she felt a chill cut through her as he
stroked her cheek.

"I frighten you?"

She tried to subdue the feeling of unmitigated terror that seemed to be
filling her. She straighten herself, but avoided his eyes.....fearing if she
allowed herself to look into the them...she would drown in the evil they

"I'm not afraid of you." she kept her voice as controlled as she could. She had
little time to react as the soft stroking of her cheek, was replaced by a
penetrating blow to her head. The impact sent her to her knees, the warmth of
her blood seeping through the silk of her robe. She saw the smile cross the
man's face, and felt her own awareness slipping away.

He wished to return to the gentle fantasy that his mind had created, but he was
unable to fall into the security of sleep. He picked up the Padd that sat on
the table, and accessed the silent message that had been sent by Captain

"Please contact Lwaxana Troi....as soon as you feel up to it." He would have
rather been asked to walk barefoot through fire, then break the news of
Deanna's death to her. He sat and rehearsed his speech for quite sometime
before actually sending the sub space message. All his preparations were in
vain, as he saw Mrs. Trois face appear on the screen. The dark eyes, that
seemed so like her daughters, looked at him inquisitively.

"Please William, tell me what's wrong."

He shifted uncomfortably, wondering how he could ever find the words he was
searching for.

"Mrs. Troi...I'm afraid I have very bad news....very, very bad news." He
watched her closely, surprised she had not picked up on his grief.

"I can see that my boy.....but whatever troubles you, can't be fixed until you
tell me. Now take a deep breath....and say what's on your mind."

He didn't understand it, how could she not know....it seemed she was always
aware of Deanna's life.

"It's Deanna, Mrs. Troi....there was an accident." She nodded her
head...seemingly aware of what he was going to say before he said it. But she
remained unmoved by his words.

"Yes...I sensed she had faced some kind of danger....but I am becoming used to
her starfleet escapades. It's always a comfort to me to know you, and Jean luc
are taking care of her."

What is this... he thought......perhaps denial again.....she had kept Kestra's
death buried for years. But he was in no mood to play mind games with her, he
had wanted to be gentle, but his own frustration was getting the better of him.

"Deanna is dead Mrs Troi....Dead!" His words had barely left his mouth before
they were challenged by her.

"Nonsense.....I am her mother....if Deanna were dead, I would know."

He fisted his hands tightly, his composure quickly escaping him. He didn't need
this right now...he just wanted to return to the quiet of his dreams. The
dreams where Deanna was alive and well and a part of his life. He took a deep
breath, hoping as he exhaled his frustration would leave with his breath.

"We'll be returning her body to Betazid in a few days." As he uttered the
words, he felt his heart breaking again.

Lwaxana was silent for a few minutes, she seemed to be probing his soul with
her eyes.

"For one moment William, I want you to let go of your tangible belief system.
Stop focusing on only the things you can see, and touch."

"Mrs Troi......Have you heard one word I've said. Deanna is dead....she's
gone....can't you except that."

She studied him for a moment..

"Can you William? Deanna is in danger....She needs you to help her. I had hoped
you had progressed in your thinking. The imzadi bond is very strong.....don't
relinquish it due to you own inner weaknesses."

He ran both of his hands across his face, part of him wanting to flick the
switch that would terminate this communiqué. But a small part of him longed to
believe her.....if there were a chance in hell that she was right, he couldn't
let it go.

"I don't hear her in my mind.....and her body....her body is lying in sickbay."
The tears again were fighting to be released.

"Let go of your primitive thinking for a moment... search the part of your mind
she once spoke to."

He closed his eyes, and reached out for her.....he listened as he always
did....hoping for her gentle voice to fill him....but he heard nothing. He was
grasping at straws, so desperate to believe there was some way he could change
the past, and reclaim his future..

He shook his head at Lwaxana.....he could see the pity in her eyes.

"Are you sure it is silence that you hear? Or are your own demons drowning out
the whispers that are striving to surface in your mind." with her words the
screen went blank, leaving Will to contemplate his own fate.

As she opened her eyes the room seemed to be set into perpetual motion, the
spinning causing a hint of nausea to sweep over her. She ran her hand through
her hair feeling the tangles, where her blood had dried. She quickly rested her
head on the pillow below her, and tried to clear her head of the fog that
seemed to have rolled into her mind. She struggled through her
thoughts....finding it harder, and harder to hold on to her identity. She was
scarcely aware of the small figure sitting next to her. She looked to the
woman, her long dark hair...and deep brown eyes ostensibly familiar....but the
memory just out of her reach.

"Imzadi." the figure spoke the single word.....Deanna permitting it to drift
into her mind. The word completely foreign to her, and yet somehow it played
itself over, and over in her head....the unknown word stroking her soul, and
caressing her heart.

"Don't forget." the dark eyed woman whispered.

"imza...." Deanna's words drifted off as her body seemed to sink into

The word rolled with the clouds in her mind....each time it came close enough
to touch, it was gently pulled away on the wind. The clouds seemed to thicken,
the more she endeavored to see through them. There was something on the other
side, an unknown, that seemed to call to her. She continued to fight the futile
battle, the clouds finally dissipating, as darkness fell. Darkness that was
adorned with an eternal garland of stars....in the midst of the sparkling
lights, a pair of blue eyes returned her gaze. The eyes gently pulling her
towards them.

Will sat, and stared at the blank screen....Lwaxana's words reiterating
themselves in his mind. What she was suggesting was ridiculous, out of the
question, something he shouldn't even be allowing himself to reflect upon. But
he again found himself, closing his eyes and searching for her voice. He was
met with the same silence as before, but even in the midst of the silence
something gnawed as his core. He was beginning to have doubts about his own
sanity. He got up from the chair and headed to sickbay......he didn't want to
see her again, but it seemed the only way to convince himself that Lwaxana's
words were inconceivable.

It had never taken him so long to get to sickbay, and he was disappointed when
he finally arrived. His emotions took control again as he looked at Deanna's
body. Dr. Crusher had repaired the lacerations, and cuts that had covered her
before. With her hair feathered across the table, and the look of peace on her
face....it was almost possible for him to convince himself that she was only
asleep. He sat down beside her, and gently touched her cold skin, the sensation
caused his throat to tighten. But even now as he looked at the lifeless body on
the table, something inside of him screamed. He brushed a strand of hair away
from her face, and brushed his lips across her cheek. As his lips met her
skin.....he understood Lwaxana's words. He had allowed himself to be pulled
into a reality of black and white.....dead or alive.... But now he could see
the shade of gray that he'd missed. Deanna's voice had been silenced....but
buried deep in his mind a breath of her essence still remained.

"Wake up."

The smooth voice pulling her out of her hopeless pursuit, and making her open
her eyes to her dreaded reality. Her eyes again met with her own, the mist that
had covered her mind seemed to have gone.

"You mustn't fight him." the women's fear was apparent, her eyes checking the
door as she spoke.

"Who is this man?"

The women moved closer to her, her words not more then a whisper.

"His name is Pentrel.....he is not a man, although he can appear as one. If you
continue to fight him.....you will end up like the others."


"He uses life forms for his games. If you do not stop your struggles....you
will also fall victim to the glass coffin."

Deanna's head was throbbing. "Where are the others?"

The sound of the doors sliding open caused the woman to quickly jump from the

As he entered the room, so did the aura of death that seemed to follow him.
Deanna had met many life forms in her enterprise career.....but never one that
had instilled such fear in her. The man held out his arms to the woman, she
looked at Deanna...and walked into them. He closed his arms around her,
stroking his hand softly through her hair.

"The rules of talking are not clear to you?"

The woman raised her eyes to meet his.... within moments the smell of burning
flesh filled the room. Deanna covered her mouth to stifle the scream that
longed to escape her. She watched in horror, as the fire inside was released
through the woman's pores. She was being burned from the inside out, the
hideous torture turning her stomach. But the woman seemed to accept her fate,
she continued to look at him, her face contorting with fear, and pain..

Deanna watched the satisfaction on the man's face, as a shutter of delight
seemed to pervade him As the woman slowly gave in to her death, Pentrel's eyes
slowly returned to Deanna.

"You do not understand." As he started toward her, Deanna slipped under his
arm....and ran through the open door.

Commander Riker paced the Captain's ready room, waiting for the arrival of Dr.
Crusher. He had no idea how he was going to approach this with his
captain.....He only knew that it was imperative that he make them believe him.
Captain Picard watched his first officer, as he wore a hole in the floor of his
ready room. Will had become all but a hermit since he had found out about
Deanna's death.....and he found himself quite concerned about his well being.
He was refusing to accept condolences from his crewmates, and now he was
refusing to attend the memorial service in the counselors honor.

The doors slid open to reveal the tired face of Dr Crusher.....Will turned to
face her, the hope in his eyes fading quickly as she spoke.

"I ran the test on Counselor Troi's body......I'm sorry Will, but there is no
chance that is not her. If it were a clone, the genetic makeup of the brain
would vary."

Captain Picard looked at his medical officer in confusion. "Cloning?"

Will could hear the fatigue in Beverly's voice as she spoke. "Yes
Captain....Will believes that counselor Troi is alive, and we were only fooled
into believing she were dead."

Will looked to the floor, he knew what his commanding officers next question
would be.

"And your suspicions were warranted by.....what evidence....number one?"

Will tried to muster as much resolve as he could. "Deanna and I share a very
special bond."

"I'm well aware of that Will."

The concern that radiated from the captains eyes, made him sure he was heading
nowhere fast.

"After I spoke with Mrs. Troi, and she shared her own doubts about Deanna's
death...I was forced to evaluate my own feelings. Captain... I *know* Deanna is
alive. I just need to return to the planet to prove it."

Beverly, whose support he was counting on, dashed his hopes with her words. "So
your suggesting she left her body?"

Will's eyes deepened, she knew he was hurt by her lack of belief.

"No Doctor!" The words shot in anger from his mouth....."I'm suggesting bio
gentic molecular transfer."

Beverlys tired eyes awoke at the sound of his words.

"That was done away with years ago.....the experiments proved too dangerous."

"I believe I have a brother now due to that exact technique, Doctor Crusher."

Beverly folded her arms, and looked at him....a hint of hope encompassing her

Lieutenant Riker was a fortuity....an accident that will never be duplicated
again." She hesitated for a moment giving her captain a chance to react.

"But whose to say someone hasn't mastered the technique.....in all we have
experienced we can not dismiss that eventuality."

Riker felt his hopes rising at the favorable response from the captain.

"Permission to return to the planet Sir?"

After a brief discussion, and some gentle persuasion by Dr. Crusher, Commander
Riker found himself standing at the bottom of Ravine. It was decided that only
a two man away team be sent to the surface, due to the risks that had faced the
first team.

He followed closely behind Data, as he lead him to the spot where Deanna's body
had been recovered.

"Here is where she was found, Commander." Data pointed to a uneven pile of
rocks, and continued to scan his tricorder over the surrounding area.

"My readings show nothing out of the ordinary."

"Keep trying Data." Will found himself, starting to doubt his beliefs. He
looked to the top of the ravine, and then again at the sharp spikes of rocks
where Deanna had been found.

"Commander!" He looked up to find Data had wondered several yards away.

He hurried to join the android, his strides much longer then normal.

"I believe this rock to be out of place, Sir." Will creased his brow, and
looked at the large boulder that Data was referring to.

Data waited for a response from his commander, when he was not answered he
continued his explanation.

"The rocks on this planet are all basalt....except this one. This rock appears
to be obsidian, or volcanic glass...and yet I find no traces of plagioclase,
hornblende or muscovite mica. In fact Sir this rock appears to have no
molecular structure." Data kept his eyes focused on his tricorder as he
spoke...it was evident to Will the android had been faced with a puzzle that
seemed to elude him.

Will walked closer to the boulder, as Data continued examining his findings. He
reached to the rock, his hand penetrating it as if it were air. As his arm
entered the unknown a wave of fear, and a burst of emotions forced him to pull
back. Data again scanned the surface of the rock face. "This is very intriguing
Sir. Suggest you wait here, while I enter the void."

Will was hardly able to concentrate on Data's words, as the hint of Deanna that
had been in his mind was replaced with a landslide of her presence. He held his
head and tried to respond to the presence in his mind. He was unable to answer
Data's request, his mind calling him into the unknown.

"I'm coming Imzadi." he thought, as he stepped through the gateway.

She twisted and turned through the endless labyrinth of corridors, her head
still reeling from the drugs she had been given over the past few days. With
each turn she made she was faced with at least five more passageways, each
identical to the others. Her side ached from running, and she was finding it
harder, and harder to endure. She twisted her head to look behind her, it
appeared she was alone.....but in the dimly lit hallways she found it hard to
tell. She stopped for a moment and rested her hands on her knees. This all
obscurely familiar to her....a childhood nightmare. Where she would run
endlessly, being pursued by the unseen, an unseen that had terrified her. She
remembered waking from this recurring nightmare completely paralyzed with fear,
the fear so great that she was unable to call out for her mother.

The icy hand slipped around the back of her neck, her heart sinking as she
realized she had been found by the unseen force. But now, it was not a phantasm
.....she wouldn't wake up in the security of her own bed.....she turned to meet
her fate.....Pentrel's gaze intent upon her. She kept her eyes lowered, not
forgetting the fate of the woman in the cell. But in the dull lighting the one
that held her, was not as he appeared before. She allowed herself to look at
the hand that led her down the corridor .....it was not that of man.

Within moments she found herself standing outside a pair of doors.....as they
opened a blast of cold stale air rushed from the room. Pentrel forced her
forward, into the unknown chamber. She felt her stomach churn as she looked at
the contents of the room. The lighting in the room, had returned to normal,
unlike the dark recesses of the passageways.....and with the light, the hand of
Pentrel had also returned to that of the man she had seen before. But the room
was filled with the glass coffins, that her alter ego had spoken of, each case
containing the mutilated remains of different life form. She knew how these
beings had died, she learned at the academy about the effects the vacuum of
space would inflict. The lifeforms literally exploding from the inside out. The
death would be quick, but it had always been one of her greatest fears..

"How can you do this?" Her repulsion of this life form, out weighing her

Pentrel released her, as the degree of light in the room lowered, his form
again began to change. Her eyes widen, as her own inner monsters, manifested
themselves in him.

"I am the only one of my kind. I created this pocket universe so that I could
continue to thrive."

Deanna backed towards the entrance, the dark shadow of her worst nightmares
came closer..

"I feed on fear.....the brain releases powerful endorphins when exposed to
fear. I find the fear of death to be the most beneficial to me. I have lived
among humanoids since the beginning of time. And for hundreds of thousands of
years, they filled my needs, by creating their own hell. They tortured, and
fought amongst themselves, shedding enough blood, and imposing enough fear on
each other that I was strong and powerful."

Deanna listened, almost being pulled into him by the haunting sound of his

"If you will search the dark places in your mind, you will remember me. But
childhood fears are only a small taste to me......but as people changed it
seemed to be my only source of enjoyment."

He stepped closer to her, his arms lifting her in his own.

"And now you will be afraid"

She struggled in vain, until the consoling presence touched her mind. She had
sensed nothing since her nightmare began. But now in the face of her own
death......the silence in her mind was broken by a voice. A gentle voice,
filled with concern.

<I'm coming Imzadi>

"Will!!!" She screamed his name as the glass cover closed over her.

Will stared at the alien space he had entered......a place he had been many
times. The fog was dense, he walked forward.....trying to reach the voice that
called to him. "Come to mommy....hurry Will." He stumbled forward longing to
reach the source....longing for her to hug him, and kiss away his fears. The
more he walked, the more he called to her, the quieter the voice became, until
soon she was silent. He stood alone in the mist.....realizing he would never
see her again.


He turned at the sound of Data's voice.....his childhood nightmare fading
into the darkness. But the pain, and the fear of the dream still tormented
him.....just as it had night, after night for so many years.

"What the hell kinda place is this?" He felt himself shutter, as the cold air
encircled him.

"Unknown" Data retorted, as they traveled deeper into the darkness. .

Will picked up his pace quickly, as her emotions maneuvered through him at an
incredible rate. His own emotions brought to their knees by the ones, that she
had sent to his thoughts.

"This way Data." He shouted, as Deanna's scream of terror, entwined itself in
his heart.

Commander Riker shot through the doors, at the end of the long passage. His
eyes immediately drawn to the glass case in the center of the room. He never
removed his eyes from the wide dark ones that looked to him for help. He ran
his hands over the smooth casing, it appeared to be without any means of
opening it. His heart felt tight, his stomach churned as he struggled to open
the box....all the time Deanna's eyes digging into his heart....her words of
fear screaming in his mind.

"Where the hell is Data." he murmured the words under his breath, unable to
pull his eyes away from the onyx jewels that begged for his help.

"I've never stopped loving you Will." the words sounded in his thoughts, as the
small body in the case began to sur come to the evacuation of air. He had come
all this way to save her, facing his darkest fears, only to have them pulled
away again, feeling only helplessness, as his own life seemed to be sucked away
with hers.

"Computer end program." The words sounded around him, the cavern replaced by
the black and yellow of the empty holo deck. He turned to face Deanna, her eyes
still filled with the projected fear of the experience. He held his arms out to
her, she entered without hesitation. They held each other close, neither
willing to let go of the other. He felt his own body trembling, he felt his
tears as they soaked his face. But most importantly he felt her love, her
strength, and the eternal security he could find only in her arms.

"So tell me boys, and girls.....do you still believe that time will wait for
you?" They both turned their attentions to the omnipotent one that spoke.

"How could you do this Q?" Deanna's voice still trembling.

"Moi? I did nothing....your own trepidation, and desires created this place."

"Why the hell do you care what decisions we make.Q? Will pulled away from
Deanna, his anger swirling around him.

"Ah Commander, I always had such hopes for you. Did that beard turn you into
the primitive life form you strive to resemble?" With his words, and a burst of
light he was gone.....only his words echoed through the holo deck.

"Your small lights will not shine forever.....soon darkness will fall, and the
time you have wasted on hopeless pursuits, will fade into nothing."

"You are a lone bright star that shines in the darkest of nights, the warm rays
of the sun that melt the winter snow, you fill my heart, my soul, and my mind..
and if I cannot walk with you, I will choose to walk forever alone. For the
part of me you fill, can never be filled by another or even by myself. For I am
nothing without, and everything with you."

He held the small delicate hand, and slipped the eternal band of gold on her
finger. He found himself falling in the dark tear filled eyes, the world
standing still as he spoke his words of commitment. In the back of his mind he
heard the captain pronounce them husband and wife, and a round of applause
sounding through the room. But she was all that mattered, the perfect angel in
white. Q's prank, or lesson teaching him that it had always been this way, as
long as she were with him, the rest of the world became only muffled sounds,
and blurred images.

In facing their fears, they had been forced to face each other, forced to
decide what was important. The decision came easily to both of them. The
flicker of time that they had been given would be filled with each other, and
when darkness chose to fall on them....it would fall on them together. His lips
softly met hers, sealing the commitment they should have made years ago.