Beloved Be

Author: Leanne

Rating: Overall R

Set: Sometime in between Insurrection and Nemesis

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek and its characters, I just borrow Will Riker on my days off ;-)

Thanks: Sarajayne for the daily advice and nagging otherwise I’d still be on Chapter 5 and stuck in a rut.

Chapter 1

Awoken by the sound of his own breathing William Riker was blinded by a piercing white light. Wincing, he closed his eyes again and tried to steady his breathing. Trying to shield his eyes from the light, his first instinct was to cover them with his hands. His body felt so weak, so tired that he found even the thought of moving made his arms feel so much heavier.

Gritting his teeth and using all the force he could muster he tried to move, but still his arms refused. Will could see the light even through his closed eyelids and he clenched them tighter, groaning with the impact that even such a small gesture had on his head.

Heat radiated from the light, he felt sweat running down his forehead and down the side of his face. It almost felt as if he was being cooked alive… and then the light switched off.

Opening his eyes just a sliver he found he was now in darkness and so opened them fully, adjusting them once again to the volume of light. Trying to look around for something he could identify and give him some clue as to where he was, he found only darkness.

His head just like all his limbs was unmovable and frustration along with anger and fear began to set in. It was only then that he realized he wasn’t laying on anything and that he was no longer wearing a shirt. The soft fabric of his pants could still be felt on his legs and he calmed himself to try and make more observations based on what he did know.

Silently he lay there trying to recall what he had been doing last.

He had been down on Parthos II with Data, Doctor Crusher and a security team exploring the ruins after an earthquake. Certain he could hear a voice amongst the rubble he’d followed the sound. That was when he’d felt the sharp pain in his back. Everything from then on was blank.

“Hello” he groaned out. Although he was weak he felt no pain.

No response.

“Is anybody there?”

Still no response.

Will let out a sigh, how did he always manage to get himself into these positions. Hearing a noise he once again tried to move his head, surprised that he was able to and that he now found himself on the floor. It’s smooth coldness startling him as it touched his bare back.

Sitting up he used his fingers to feel the area around him, it felt like tiling of some sort, the small grooves easy to find between each tile. He slowly crouched to his knees to feel for a wall or exit in the darkness, his eyes straining to see in the endless black.

After searching only a few seconds his hands came into contact with a wall, it was also covered in the same smooth tiles as the floor. It was then that a door opened, a beam of light streaming into the room, its brightness not as intense as it had been when he had first awoken. It also gave him a chance to briefly look around the room, which appeared to be approximately twice the size of a turbolift.

Returning his eyes to the doorway he began to walk towards it when he was thrown against the wall, or rather he’d fallen to what was now the floor and had previously been the wall.

“What the…?”

Will crawled towards the door feeling it would be less of a fall than standing. Once again the room tipped over sending him sprawling onto what he presumed was the roof. The door was now upside down for him and he realized every time he went for it the room would no doubt rotate again.

His arms and legs still ached from whatever had been in his system or holding him down and were now beginning to bruise from the impact with the walls. Taking several deep breaths he leaned back against the walls and rubbed his legs willing them the strength to stand up one last time. He did so, hurling himself at the door with two large strides.

Griping the doorframe the room behind him spiraled out of control, still the door remained upside down. Will held on for his life dreading to think what would happen if he let go. Pain ran through his fingers and wrists pulling at the muscles in his arms, a yell of frustration and agony escaped him as his fingers threatened to let go.

Just when he’d all but given up hope he thought of Deanna. “Damn it Riker if you ever want to see her again move!” he gritted. Ignoring any feelings in his body he was pushed only by what was in his heart. Wearily he threw an arm over the doorframe using it for leverage to pull the rest of his body over the threshold.

He sat just inside the doorway sweat running down his face and chest. Surrounded now by a sandy brown rocky landscape, its orange sky all too familiar to Will. This place had not been kind to him nor the crew of the Enterprise. Turning he looked through the door to see only darkness. “Hello Will” he heard from behind.

Startled he turned, coming face to face with someone he thought he’d never see again. “Tasha?”


Chapter 2

Taking another look around the landscape, Will’s eyes came to rest on his old friend. “What am I doing here, and more to the point what are you?”

Tasha looked just as she had the day she had been killed, her eagerness and dedication as obvious as the day he’d met her. The only difference was the absence of the purplish mark on her left cheek when she had died. “What are you talking about Commander? I’ve been waiting for you”

“What’s going on?” he asked, more than a little confused.

“The rest of the away team and Deanna have been beamed up to the Enterprise, when you’re ready we’ll leave as well.”

Will looked into her eyes, as good as it was to see her he didn’t want to be here. This had happened over ten years ago. Tasha was dead. It had taken him so long to get over her death, even to this day he blamed himself for what had happened. He was responsible for everyone on that away mission and he had failed. He remembered the message she had left for her friends, telling them not to grieve for her as she had achieved more than she could ever dream of and how much they meant to her. That was the way it should be, something here was wrong, so wrong it sent a shiver up Will’s spine.

Was this some alternate universe, where their mission to Vagra II had ended differently he wondered. He could ask her, but doubted from her previous responses that she would know what he was talking about. Instead he nodded his head, there was only one way to find out.

Tasha smiled and tapped her Comm badge “Two to beam up.”

Will felt the familiar tingle as the transporter took a hold of him and prepared himself for what he would be walking in to.

When he materialized he was alone. “Tasha?” he asked almost frantically. After scanning the room and realizing she was gone his attention was drawn to another. His former commanding officer, Erik Pressman now stood before him “I knew I could count on you Ensign, tell no one about where you’ve been is that understood?”

Will looked at the older man, his brow furrowed “Admiral?”

Pressman looked around anxiously for someone else then saw Will was referring to him. “Not yet, but if this mission goes to plan it won’t be too long,” he answered smiling.

Stepping off the transporter platform Riker walked towards Pressman, noticing the rank on his collar was that of a Captain. “What the hell is going on?”

Completely misunderstanding the question Captain Pressman proceeded to reveal his plans regarding the illegal cloaking device just as he had done years ago on the Pegasus. Will listened wishing he had known then what he knew now, he had been so young and naïve and Pressman had taken advantage of that. Although the truth was only revealed years later Will had taken responsibility for his own actions and the punishment that had come with it.

As the two men walked through the unfamiliar corridors Will lost interest in Pressman’s plans. After all he had heard them before and he had more important things to figure out, like how to get home.

“Sorry sir,” he interrupted his former Captain “I’m really exhausted, if you don’t mind I think I’ll retire for the day.” He wanted access to a computer terminal in private hoping it would give him some idea as to what was happening.

“Of course Ensign, I’ll see you on the bridge when you’re rested.” Pressman continued down the corridor leaving Will standing alone. He looked both ways to see if he was being watched, then sure he was alone asked the computer where his quarters were. This vessel was not the Pegasus. Will was certain he’d never been on this ship before not only was the layout different to the Pegasus his quarters were on a different deck.

He walked through the vessel unnoticed, the door to his quarters opening on his arrival, but it wasn’t his quarters he walked into it was Ten Forward.

The room was empty except for the figure behind the bar. Will walked cautiously towards the mysterious individual, he had known the moment he saw her who it was. The unmistakable shape of her hat an instant giveaway. But did she know who he was? And where he had come from?

“Guinan” he almost whispered with relief.

The El-Aurian nodded. “Commander, can I get you something?”

Will decided he would take a chance in telling her, he trusted her and knew that she would be the last person to accuse him of being crazy, she herself had a book full of stories just like this to tell. “Unless you can get me home I don’t think so” Will answered.

She had been wiping the bar and stopped to look up at him her face unreadable. “I thought the Enterprise was your home.”

“It is, just not this Enterprise.”

Again she nodded. “And what makes your Enterprise home?”

Will thought about it momentarily. “The people, my job.”

“Are they not the same on this Enterprise, what defines the two?”

“This is the Enterprise D, it no longer exists. Things have changed since this, I’ve changed.” He declared, sounding as if he was pleading his case on trial.

“I’m sure you have, but what’s the one thing you don’t have here?” She of course already knew the answer, she knew Will Riker and she could read what was in his eyes.

Will smiled. “Deanna” he paused to think of her. “She’s here, but things are different. I couldn’t go back to that.”

“Your relationship has been a long and complicated one has it not, but you have eventually found your way back to one another, back to the beginning.”

“I guess that’s right” he answered.

“Then you must return to the beginning of your journey if you wish to complete the circle.” He marveled at the way she found a deeper meaning, a riddle of some sort in everything.

“Guinan I don’t understand, how do I get out of this Universe and back to my own?”

“You are not in a different Universe Commander, you are in a different life.”

Then she was gone.

Will’s eyes searched the room for her but she had vanished, he was alone. Her words ran over and over in his mind. Guinan was famous for her counseling technique, but this was different. What had she meant by him being in a different life, he would have bet his life on him being in an alternate Universe.

That’s when he felt the weight of ten Klingons on his shoulders as he realized he was on the brink of death.


Chapter 3

Beverly Crusher materialized in Sickbay, the body of Will Riker laid out on the biobed in front of her. A flurry of instructions followed as she tried to revive the lifeless body of the Commander.


Will ran to the door of Ten Forward finally understanding why Guinan had told him ‘return to the beginning of your journey if you wish to complete the circle.’ He had to return to the room where he had woken up.

He ran through the corridors of the unknown ship towards the Transporter room, desperation making his strides bigger and faster. “I’m not ready yet,” he shouted out loud, but there was no one listening, the corridors were empty.


Deanna Troi watched on helplessly as Doctor Crusher tried to revive her beloved’s heartbeat and increase the small amount of brain activity that showed up on the readout. Captain Picard stood beside her, a gentle hand on her arm. Will had literally been beaten to death, his body almost unrecognizable from the bruising and the odd positions of several of his limbs.

Deanna’s intuition had told her not to let Will go planetside to Parthos II and she had told him of her fears. He had assured her that he would be careful but that he still had to go, as she knew he would.

Details of his attack remained unclear to them, he had somehow been separated from the rest of the away team and had been found in his current state. Slowly her hope began to fade as another shock ran through Will’s body.


Will burst through the doors to the transporter room, a Lieutenant stood behind the console awaiting directions. “Transport me back to planet” Will ordered.

The Lieutenant looked at the lone pip on Will’s collar. “I don’t think so Ensign.”

Will walked over to him, towering over the shorter man imposing a glare that would make even a Klingon cower “Transport me now or I guarantee you in fifteen years you’ll regret it.”

“I really don’t think…”

“Just do it” Will yelled.

“Okay, Okay.”

Will hurried up to the Transporter pad, giving the Lieutenant a final stare before dematerializing.

Tasha was no longer on the planet waiting for him and in a way he was glad she wasn’t because he would want to stop and see her one last time, something he didn’t have time for.

He saw the door he had come through, how much time had passed since he was here last he had no idea. The room beyond the door still speed wildly out of control and he took a deep breath and prayed that he was doing the right thing. He had no choice. If he wasn’t already too late time was rapidly running out. Deanna was the only thing that mattered now and if he wanted what he had waited all his life for he had to take the chance.

“Here goes,” he said out loud, running up to the door and hurling himself through it.

Immediately he felt as if he had been struck by lighting, his body shook uncontrollably and an all-consuming wave of coldness enveloped his entire body. He felt as if he were floating but had no idea where, then everything became irrelevant as pain rendered him unconscious.


“Yes!” Beverly Crusher called out triumphantly “We’ve got him.”

As Will’s life signs on the monitor improved slightly she gave instructions to her medical team to begin work on his internal injuries. Looking up for the first time she saw Deanna and Picard watching apprehensively. “He’s alive” she told them “but very badly injured, surgery will be a few hours. Go and get some rest and I’ll let you know when he’s out.”

Deanna stood defiantly. “I’m not going anywhere Beverly.”

“I didn’t think so, but you’ll have to wait outside” she stated as she prepared herself for the surgery.

Deanna nodded and Picard led her into Beverly’s office to sit down. “He’s in good hands.”

She knew that but she also knew that Will was in a very unstable position. The man lying on that biobed had looked nothing like Will. His face swollen and red from the blows he had received to the head, his chest and stomach a mixture of purple and red due to the broken ribs and internal damage. A large gash ran up the length of his left leg, the torn uniform exposing flesh and blood running down over his calf muscle.

Her mind returned to the present and she looked up at Picard with a tear in the corner of her eye. He regarded her worriedly. “I’ll be fine Captain I know you have things to do.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind sitting with you.” She knew he would stay if she asked, but his way of dealing with it was different to hers, he would bury himself in work until it was over.

She nodded her answer. “Really, I’ll be okay. I’ll let you know.”

Picard took a hold of her hand and squeezed it gently. “He’ll get through this.”

Unable to speak she nodded again and the tear ran down her cheek. Picard gave her hand another reassuring squeeze and left.

Deanna remained seated over the next several hours staring out into space, her mind flooded with images of Will. She had enough memories of him to last a lifetime, but it wasn’t enough, it would never be enough. They had plans for the future but would there even be a future now.

Forcing herself to snap out of it she walked over to the replicator for a glass of water hoping it would dissolve the sick feeling in her stomach. Taking a sip she turned around to find Beverly standing in the doorway.

“He’s going to be fine.” She said, a tired smile on her face.

A gasp escaped Deanna as the glass in her hand fell to the floor and shattered. The crushing of the shards echoed through Sickbay as she collapsed to her knees.


Chapter 4

Deanna was immediately encircled in Beverly's arms, her tears falling unrestrained. They remained that way for only a moment as Deanna tried to regain some composure. "I'm sorry" she whispered to the Doctor as she moved away.

"For what? I may be your Doctor but I'm also your friend."

Deanna nodded as both women stood up and moved away from the broken glass back into Beverly's office. Moving the chair for Deanna to sit down Beverly leaned on the edge of her desk. "He's still going to be very sore for a while, but we've repaired all the internal injuries and a lot of the bruising. We revived him before there was any brain damage but I'll be doing more tests just to be certain."

Deanna merely nodded again, all of a sudden she felt dizzy and she placed her head in her hand to try and stop the spinning.

"Deanna are you okay?"

"I almost lost him didn't I?"

Beverly didn't answer at first unsure whether this was what Deanna needed to hear. "It was close Deanna, but he came back from wherever he was. I think that's not only due to the medical treatment but because he wouldn't give up. When have you ever known Will Riker to allow himself to be beaten?"

Deanna knew the answer.never, he refused to give up in anything he believed was worthwhile. He had once told her about the battles of Anbo-jytsu he'd had with his father as a child. The older Riker was relentless and to an unsuspecting young Will had always come out on top. Even after losing, his determination was just as strong in their next encounter believing he would never be defeated, if only emotionally.

"Can I see him?" Deanna asked.

"He'll be asleep for some time yet but you can go and sit with him."

Deanna slowly stood and began walking towards Will's room, Beverly following behind. She stood in the doorway, her eyes staring intently at her Imzadi. His body motionless except for the steady rise and fall of his chest.

Moving over to the bedside Deanna gently touched the side of his face, her other hand clutching at Wills which lay at his side, he felt warm. Nothing could have prepared her for how cold he'd felt when he had been beamed to Sickbay earlier, she had briefly taken hold of his hand and had been stunned by his icy temperature.

He now had the same peaceful look on his face as whenever he slept, but this time he looked tired, more tired than she had ever seen him. Dark rings underlined his eyes and he looked as if he had aged five years since she had last seen him.

Beverly brought in a chair for Deanna to sit down on before returning to her office and leaving her friend alone.

Deanna merely sat there staring at Will, hour after hour, her eyes never wavering. She did not acknowledge anyone when they entered or left the room including the Captain, who had now become worried about her. "I'm keeping a close eye on her" Beverly had told him "It's shock." Picard had left knowing both his First Officer and Counselor would be looked after like royalty.

After more than four hours Beverly softly laid her hand on Deanna's shoulder "You need to rest" she told the younger woman. Deanna shook herself as if she had just been awoken from a dream and looked vacantly at the Doctor. "I can't."

"You can sleep on one of the beds in sickbay" Beverly told her.

Deanna shook her head "I'm fine Beverly, I just want to stay here until he wakes up."

"That could be hours Deanna, he's got a lot of recovering to do."

"I know, but I need to be here."

Beverly sighed. "Okay, if you need anything I'll be in my office."

Alone again Deanna moved her face within inches of Will's, she felt the softness of his breath against her cheek and her own breath caught in her throat. Turning to look at him directly she said a silent pray that his eyes would open, she willed them to open but of course they never did.

Moving so she could lay her head next to his on the pillow she gently did so, her hand still grasping Will's. She watched his chest move with each breath, sleep eventually claiming her.

.She fell. Her arms and legs flailing out of control as a high pitched scream escaped her. It vanished almost instantly as she plummeted down, down to what she did not know. Unbearable pressure pushed against her chest and she gasped for air but still she fell, over that she had no control.

Deanna jumped awake unsure of her surroundings, her eyes focused on Beverly Crusher who know stood next to her. "How is he?" Deanna had asked her before she had even woken properly.

"Why don't you ask him?" the Doctor responded.

Deanna's eyes widened and turned immediately to Will, his blue eyes returning her stare.


"I'm okay, a little sore but alive" he answered with a slight grin. Her hand was still holding his as it had for hours and he squeezed it gently, using the only energy he had.

"I can't believe I fell asleep," Deanna said to Will trying to regain her bearings.

"I must admit when I woke up I was a little surprised to find a beauty like you sharing my pillow." He managed a slight wink and Deanna blushed. How did he always manage to do it to her, mere hours ago he had been on his deathbed and he was already smooth talking her.

"Everything is going to be fine" Doctor Crusher interrupted, and with a nod of her head she left.

"You all right?" Will asked Deanna once they were alone.

"I'm better now" she answered quietly as a tear escaped. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "I thought I'd lost you."

Will nodded. "I thought so too, that was something I never want to experience again. When I realized I was so close to death." he trailed off.

"You knew you were dying?" Deanna asked astounded.

"Not 'til it was nearly too late." His eyes began to struggle to stay open and he yawned.

"Sleep" Deanna soothed "We'll talk about this later."

"Hmmm" was his only response before she heard his soft snores.


Chapter 5

Knowing that Will was going to be okay Deanna began what felt like the longest walk of her life to their quarters. The door opened to reveal remnants of the card game they had been enjoying with Beverly, Geordi and Data, cards and poker chips still splayed out over the table.

She walked over the threshold and in to the dark room and made her way towards the mess in the centre of the room. When the Captain had ordered them to the Bridge only hours earlier there had been no time to clean up. Will had been anxious to go down to the planet since they had arrived and maintained orbit, he hated sitting around just waiting for something to happen. The situation on Pathos II had continued to decline since their arrival as tremors rocked the planet leaving it unstable and in ruins.

Ordering the lights on she carefully gathered up all the playing cards, the conversation she’d had with Will coming back into her mind.


“I need to go down there Deanna, I can help these people.” They were alone in the observation lounge, everyone else had left after the briefing and the away team was waiting for him in Transporter Room two. She’d stopped him before he’d had chance to leave, a gentle hand on his arm enough to make him recognize that they were about to have a conversation he didn’t want to have. She knew it would happen sooner or later and now wished they had done it before.

“This isn’t right Will, there’s more going on than they’re telling us.” There had been more to her words than just a simple concern for the away team, she had always been worried when he’d been on a mission but things were different now, they were in love. From the understanding look in his eyes she had known he agreed with both her words and emotions but she also knew he had a job to do and was eager to try and help these people.

“We both know it’s going to be dangerous, but then that’s the nature of what we do. There’s going to be a full security team down there and we won’t take any unnecessary risks.” He reached out and bridged the short distance between them and touched the side of her face. “Try not to worry okay, I promise I’ll be back in time for our dinner date.”

She tried to smile at him but it instead turned into a worried frown. She wished she was going down there with him, at least that way she would know exactly what was going on. But the senior staff had all agreed it was too dangerous for any non vital personnel to be beaming down yet and even though her abilities would be useful, for the time being Riker and the security team would have to begin the clean up without her assistance, the situation was just too volatile.

“Please be careful.” She whispered to him as she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him even closer.

“Always, Imzadi.” He placed a kiss on her forehead and left the room. It had been the last time she’d spoken to him until he’d woke up in Sickbay.


Bringing herself back to the present Deanna collected up the remaining chips and placed them on the cabinet in the corner of the room where Will usually kept them. Walking away she noticed his trombone lying across the one of the chairs. Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat she ran her fingers over the cool metal, an involuntary shiver jolting through her body.

Everywhere she looked there was something of his, a piece of clothing, one of the many possessions he’d picked up on away missions, a Data Padd, she could even smell him. Sighing deeply she sat down on the couch, picking up one of his shirts she brought it to her face thanking god that he was still alive. Inhaling his distinct scent more deeply she fought the urge to return to sickbay, the ache she felt in her chest to be near him was almost suffocating.

Dropping the shirt away from her face, she felt the soft fabric between her fingers before standing and walking into their bedroom placing the garment in one of his draws. They hadn’t been sharing the same quarters for long and everything still felt new, everything except their relationship. Thinking back Deanna found it hard to remember a time without Will in her life, to her it felt like they’d always been together. Not always as a couple, but still together. But since the Briar patch things had been different, they’d spent all their free time together and rarely slept in different quarters so when Will suggested they move in together it seemed like the next step for them to take. Rumors of an engagement had taken only a matter of hours to spread and she smiled when she remembered the shocked look on Will’s face when Beverly had asked him if they’d set a date yet.

Deanna knew it would eventually happen, but at the moment she didn’t want to pressure Will in to it. She was happy that they were together and when the right time came they would marry, even if she had to propose to him.

Opening one of Will’s other draws she took out a t-shirt to sleep in and placed it on the bed. In the hopes that a bath would calm her and allow her to get some rest she went into the bathroom to run the water.

Once immersed in the warm scented water she closed her eyes as her muscles began to relax. Slowly as she felt herself succumb to the relief, her body began to shut down and she fell into a light sleep.

…Standing in the doorway to her old quarters she saw herself in bed in the throws of passion with someone. A masculine figure rolled among the bed sheets with her, a man that wasn’t Will, but Worf. A series of forceful emotions bombarded her, anger, jealousy, fear but most of all a deep feeling of sadness and loss.

Startled awake Deanna flinched sending water over the sides of the bath and on to the floor, rapidly she gasped for breath trying to get her bearings. The water had gone cold and her body was soon covered in goose bumps. Rubbing her hands over her arms she stood up and stepped from the bath, picking up a towel and walking into the bedroom.

After drying herself she wearily sat down on the edge of the bed the images and emotions still clear in her mind. Rubbing her hair dry with the towel she was at a loss as to what the dream had meant, why had she felt those things? When she and Worf were together she’d never had those feelings towards him or their relationship. And why had she been watching from the doorway, she should have been in the bed with Worf.

Brushing through her hair she knew she was too tired to analyze the dream, she would have plenty of time tomorrow to think about it while she was in Sickbay with Will. Pulling back the covers she put Will’s t-shirt on and lay down between the sheets. Stretching out on the side she normally slept on she slid her hand over the cold bare space that Will usually occupied. Pulling his pillow into her arms she clutched at it like a lifeline her tears falling unrestrained. Eventually, when her sobs stopped and her red swollen eyes closed she fell in to a restless slumber.


Chapter 6

Beverly Crusher watched over Will Riker like an anxious parent. His condition had deteriorated since Deanna had left but she was reluctant to call for the Counselor knowing she needed the rest. This was the first time since Will and Deanna had renewed their relationship that he had been seriously injured, he’d had the odd cut and bruise and a few broken bones but nothing to this extreme. It hurt Beverly to see Deanna in such pain and although the Betazoid had tried to hide it from her friend all Beverly needed to do was look at Deanna to see the worry in her eyes.

She looked down at Will, nearly all the colour had drained from his face and his skin had become warm and clammy. As much as she didn’t want to disturb Deanna she’d promised if there was any change she’d call immediately. The time had come.

… The Sindareen raider Maror had his weapon pushed against her stomach, she’d just smashed him in the forehead with a rock, the blood oozing down his face. She was in the Jalara fighting for her very survival, and then she heard Will’s voice.

“Crusher to Troi.” There was a short silence. “Deanna please respond.”

Sitting up with a jolt Deanna’s heart pounded in her chest, she stared wide eyed around the room trying to remember where she was. “Quarter lights.” She ordered.

“Deanna?” Beverly’s concerned voice sounded over the Comm.

“Beverly what is it? Is Will okay?” She asked still disoriented, her hands wiping over her eyes.

“I think you should come to Sickbay Deanna, he’s not looking too good.”

“What’s wrong?” Deanna was immediately on her feet and getting dressed.

There was a short pause and Deanna temporarily stopped putting her pants on to wait for the Doctor’s answer. When none was forthcoming she prompted her again, “Beverly?”

Deanna heard Crusher sigh. “I’d rather you come to Sickbay.”

“Alright, I’m on my way.” She hadn’t expected Beverly to tell her anything so she didn’t push for more. Putting on the rest of her clothing, she practically ran out the door, her hair in tatters and her eyes still droopy with sleep.

When she arrived in Sickbay she found Doctor Crusher leaning over Will with her tricorder. “What’s wrong?” she asked trying to catch her breath. Her gaze wandered lovingly over Will’s face and bare chest, he looked terrible. His skin was almost grey, sweat ran profusely down his face as a nurse gently wiped his bare skin ridding it of excess moisture. His eyes, even though they were closed appeared to have sunken in to his face and she could still see some of the remnants of bruising that remained on the side of his head. “My god what’s happened?” her voice bordered on hysterical.

Crusher looked at the nurse wiping Will’s forehead, who took that as her cue to leave. “Deanna, calm down.”

“Calm down! When I left he was getting better.”

Beverly moved around the bed to stand next to Deanna. “It’s the blows he took to the head, they were so severe his brain is having trouble trying to heal.”

“Are you telling me he’s got some kind of brain damage?” Even though she’d seen the wounds he’d come back with the thought never occurred to her that there would be lasting effects, at the time she had been more worried about him being alive.

“The tests don’t indicate that he does, but it’s too early to tell. We’ll need to wait for the swelling to go down some more.”

Deanna brow furrowed her confusion clear. “But he was awake and talking to me.”

“I know and I can’t find any reason for the change in his stats, I’ve run the tricorder over him at least three times and the only thing that has changed since you left is the fever he’s gained.”

Holding on to the bed with one hand to steady herself Deanna closed her eyes briefly. She felt physically sick and more than anything wanted to curl up next to Will and go to sleep, to wake up the next morning to find his dazzling blue eyes staring at her, just as she had the morning before.

She felt Beverly lay her hand on her arm and opened her eyes again. “Deanna I know this is a lot to take in right now, but believe me I’m doing all I can to keep him comfortable and make him healthy again.”

Deanna nodded her head. “I’d like to sit with him.”

At first Crusher seemed unsure as to how to answer her but then remembered who she was talking to. “Okay but I don’t want you wearing yourself out, the only reason I called you down was because you wanted to know of any changes.”

Moving to grab the chair in the corner of the room Deanna dragged it across the floor placing it next to the bed. Sitting down, her muscles protested as she tried to get comfortable. She sort his hand out under the sheet and pulled it from under the covering and brought it up to her face. Holding his larger hand between her two smaller ones she returned her attention to Beverly. “I haven’t been sleeping very well anyway, maybe it will be good for both of us if I stay with him.” She didn’t mention the nightmares to Beverly, she knew they were more than likely a side effect of the stress she was under at the moment.

Beverly offered no response to her statement because at this stage she couldn’t disagree with Deanna, the truth was she wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if her presence had a positive effect on Will. “I’ll bring in a blanket for you,” was all she said before leaving the Counselor alone with Will.

Bringing Will’s hand back up to her face, she kissed the hot skin of his palm, the saltiness of his sweat lingering on her lips. Linking her fingers through his she pushed the hair from his face with the other. She pulled her legs up on to the chair in front of her and thanked Beverly as she left a blanket on the edge of the bed before retiring to her own quarters.

In the silence of sickbay she couldn’t keep her mind from returning to the images she had seen in her dream. The one with Worf had been very unsettling, not so much what she had seen but rather what she had felt. Maybe it’s just my mind telling me that our relationship would never have worked, she thought to herself.

Reaching for the blanket she drew it over her legs and tried to get a sense of Will. Closing her eyes she searched out his presence, she could feel him very faintly but not enough to communicate with. Mentally she knew he wouldn’t be strong enough, but she just wanted to feel the gentle brush of their minds, even though he was right in front of her it would give her an extra reassurance that he was still alive.


Chapter 7

. Fire raged around where she stood. Collapsed buildings surrounded her. She heard a woman scream through sounds of weapon fire and then a baby cried. Thick black smoke hung in the air causing her to cough as her lungs tried to reject the chemicals that inflamed them. She looked around but discovered she was alone, until in the distance a figure emerged and then was joined by several more. Fear rose in her chest as the group of at least six men approached her. Quickly scanning the area for someone who would help she found nothing but desolation. Her hand instinctively went to her chest for her Comm. Badge, she pressed it praying she would hear the voice of one of her comrades but her only response was static. The men were only a meter away from her now, covered in dirt, their clothing torn and bloodied each pair of eyes focused entirely on her. As they all stood there anticipating who would make the first move, she thought of running, but then how far would she get. And then there was no more time to think as she felt the deep throbbing pain in the side of her head and her stomach recoil as the force from a boot stole her last breath.

Falling out of the Sickbay chair Deanna's hands covered her head as she screamed out in pain. Within seconds nurse Ogawa was at her side trying to calm her, while two others checked the status of Riker as he convulsed uncontrollably. Deanna heard the thumping above her as Will thrashed around on the bed and was immediately on her feet. Ignoring the questions about her own health, asking of Will's instead. "What's happening to him?"

None of them answered her as they proceeded to monitor Will's life signs or press a hypospray to his skin.

"Get Doctor Crusher in here!" Ogawa ordered, as Riker's back arched off the bed.

Deanna watched on horrified as Will's body shook, his fingers clenched together so hard that she couldn't even pry open his hand to hold it. Everything played out in front of her in slow motion, the words that came out of the mouths of the medical staff were all slurred and their actions delayed. Her ears began to ring and she felt sweat form on her forehead and run down the side of her face.

She knew with complete certainty that Will was dying and if Doctor Crusher didn't show up within the next minute he would not make it through the night alive. What seemed like only moments later to Deanna, Beverly came rushing through the door her disheveled appearance clearly indicating she had been getting some much needed rest.

Pushed gently out of the way by Ogawa, Deanna watched on helplessly as Will's body continued to convulse while Crusher yelled out orders. She could do nothing as the life drained from his face and his soul withdrew from hers, one by one Deanna felt his body functions shut down. Then the one thing she feared most in life happened as his brain activity stopped and their bond was severed. In that same instant an ear shattering scream escaped Deanna startling the medical staff, their attention temporarily moving to her rather than Riker. Her eyes widened in terror as her fingers massaged her temples hoping in some way that it would massage away the stress that had built up and allow her to regain her bond with Will. But her efforts were useless, the bond had been broken.

The body of the Commander lay motionless barring the shocks that jolted through him in the hopes of returning him from his comatose state.

"Damn it! Come on Riker! Don't give up on me now." Beverly gritted her teeth as she watched on, seeing no remnants of the Will Riker they all knew and loved.

The machines continued to screech out their warnings of danger and Deanna wanted nothing more than to put her fist through them as if that would somehow make Will's predicament not seem so certain and final. And then the noise stopped. The only sounds that could be heard was Deanna sobbing and mumbling illegibly as she sat in the centre of the floor, her legs crossed and her arms wrapped around herself.

"He's back, he's in a coma but it'll have to do for now." Beverly sighed and turned to Ogawa. "I want him hooked and prepped for any fluctuations in his brain patterns. Make sure he's comfortable." She indicated the fallen bed sheet which had ended up on the floor during Will's thrashings. "I'll see to Deanna."

Crusher walked slowly over to the middle of the room where Deanna now kneeled, her arms wound tightly around her chest, her body rocking back and forth. Bending down next to her Beverly gently touched the small Betazoid's shoulder. "Deanna, he's in a coma. I've done everything I can for now, he was very lucky." She paused briefly when it looked as if Deanna wasn't listening. "Deanna.Deanna?"

"I can't feel him." Her voice trembled, her eyes glazed over with tears.

"You will, once he's conscious again." Beverly sat down next to Deanna, rubbing her back gently and trying to calm her.

"No, it's over." Her voice was full of conviction and for the first time since her outburst Deanna looked up to the bed where Will's body lay.

"Over? What do you mean?" Beverly asked confused by what she was referring to.

"Our bond, he's gone. I should at least have some sense of him but there's nothing." She spoke so softly that Crusher could barely hear and understand what she was saying.

"Wait a minute, how can it just disappear?"

"The second he died, our connection was broken." When Deanna's tears began to fall Beverly reached out and took her friend in her arms.

"Deanna I don't understand, how can it? You've been dead for a short amount of time and nothing happened."

Troi could not take her eyes off the comatose form of her Imzadi, the slight rise and fall of his chest the only indication to her that he was alive. Pulling out of Beverly's embrace she got to her feet and walked over to Will. "His mind is not as strong and as trained as mine. It's easy for me too reinitiate my side of the bond, but it needs us both and Will is not mentally strong enough."

"Well then how did it happen the first time?" Beverly thought she had said something wrong when Deanna wouldn't answer her.

"I'm not sure if I can survive until he's well enough for that."


Chapter 8

Beverly didn’t fully understand but she suspected some of what Deanna was feeling had to do with the shock and tiredness. “Deanna there’s nothing you can do, go and get some rest.”

“Beverly didn’t you just hear what I said?” She screamed hysterically. “He’s gone from my mind.” Her hand moved to cover her heart, “I feel so empty.”

As the two of them now stood alone in the room Beverly joined Deanna at Will’s bedside the feelings of weariness and lack of sleep beginning to get to her. “I’m sorry, I’m just having trouble understanding.”

“That’s because you can never understand,” she sobbed. “It’s not something that can be explained.” Deanna moved away from Beverly and began to pace the room. “I can only describe it as feeling incomplete, the only way I know he is still here is because I can see him.”

“But you can renew the bond when he is better?” Beverly asked.

“Yes, but it could be weeks until he’s strong enough to complete the bond fully.” She sank down in the chair, her body racked with spasms as her tears now fell more easily. “I can’t live like this.”

It hurt Beverly to see her best friend this way and not be able to do anything about it, the only person who could help her was Will, and right now that was not possible. Placing her hand on Deanna’s Beverly crouched down in front of her, “Deanna let me give you a light sedative, something to help calm you.”

“It won’t help…I need Will.”

Beverly gripped both of Deanna’s hand tightly with hers. “Deanna look at me.” When Troi eventually looked up at her with red swollen eyes she continued, “Listen to me, Will is going to be okay, it might take a while but I promise you I will do everything in my power to make him healthy again.”

Deanna nodded. “I know.”

“Then trust me with your health as you trust me with his. You’re tired, upset and worried and you need sleep.” Beverly tried to reason.

Deanna opened her mouth to speak but her words were stopped as Beverly held up her hand. “I realize that this isn’t going to help with what you’re feeling, but if you’re rested it may help you cope better.”

“And when I wake up?” Deanna sniffed.

“I’ll be right here to help in whatever way I can.” Again Deanna nodded and Beverly moved away from her to get a hypospray.

Deanna walked over to Will, her shaking hand reaching out to touch his face. When she saw Beverly watching her she leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips while her hand rested on his cheek. “I miss you so much, please don’t give up.”

She walked in to the next room and lay down on the bed. “You’ll wake me…” She trailed off not wanting to finish the sentence.

“Of course.” Beverly pressed the hypospray to Deanna’s neck, the soft hiss was the last sound Deanna heard before she closed her sore and tired eyes. When sleep claimed her this time her mind was free, there were no dreams and no nightmares.

As Beverly stood inside the doorway she felt someone standing behind her. She turned to find Captain Picard intently watching the Counselor. “Is she alright?” he asked.

“No she isn’t,” Beverly sighed “I think she’ll need to be relieved of her duties.”

Picard turned his attention to her. “For how long?”

“Honestly I don’t know, from what she was saying I think she might be like this until Will is better.”

The Captain looked at her startled, “Why? He’s been injured before.”

Beverly walked away from him and back in to Will’s room with Picard following, she adjusted the pillow and sheet fully aware that Ogawa had just done so. “It’s their bond. She said it’s gone.”

Picard was never one to interfere in the personal relationships of his crew, and that included that of his First Officer and the Counselor. He knew of their bond but that was as far as it went, since renewing their relationship they had divulged certain information which had helped during away missions. But even then Picard had gotten the impression that it was something very personal, something that would be kept only between them. “And that’s what done this to her?”

Beverly nodded, “She said he was gone from her mind and she couldn’t live like this.”

“How did this happen?” The Captain watched over Riker, maybe he had underestimated his relationship with Troi.

“Will was dead for a short time. Jean-Luc you should have seen her, I’ve never seen her look so hysterical and lost.”

Picard tugged down his uniform, his lips pursed. “Do you think Mrs. Troi may be able to help Deanna?”

Beverly thought it over, in all honesty she didn’t know how to help. “I don’t think it could do any harm to have her here, her abilities are more powerful than Deanna’s.”

“I agree.” Picard tapped his Comm. badge. “Picard to Bridge, change current course to Betazed, warp 8.” As much as Picard was dreading the presence of Lwaxana Troi he was willing to put up with the discomfort for Deanna’s sake.

Seeing there was nothing for him to do other than wait the Captain made his way towards the main Sickbay door. “I’ll leave them in your capable hands, inform me of any changes to either of them.”

Once he had gone Beverly remained with Will checking and rechecking his stats. As tired as she was she knew she would be getting no sleep tonight, at least not in her quarters. Satisfied that Will was okay for the time being she looked in on Deanna before heading to her office. Leaning back in her chair she rested her head on the back of it, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. Opening them again she saw the stack of Padd’s on her desk. “Might as well do this while I have the chance.” She said out loud before reaching forward to pick up the first of many for the night.


Chapter 9

Throughout the night Beverly continued to check on both Will and Deanna, Will’s condition improved only slightly while Deanna continued to sleep. Although she couldn’t monitor their emotions she hoped that they were healing and that the bond that Deanna had spoken of was somehow able to re-establish itself. Her patience for reading the Padd’s and trying to take the information in had long ago run out and so she decided the only place she could really be of any use was with Deanna. She wanted to be there when her friend awoke, whether it be just as a shoulder to cry on or to try and calm her fears about Will’s health.

Sitting down on a chair next to Deanna’s bed she studied the younger woman’s face. Even in sleep she looked tired and Beverly felt a surge of worry run through her, from what Deanna had said things were only going to get worse. Reclining back in the chair as far as she could Beverly tried to get comfortable and without realizing it drifted off in to a light sleep, waking up a short time later to find Deanna looking at her.

“Deanna is everything alright?” Crusher asked, running her hands over her face.

The Counselor shook her head, her eyes brimming with tears. “I was hoping that it was another nightmare, but when I woke up and Will wasn’t beside me I knew it was real.” She sat up wiping her wet cheeks. “I’m so used to feeling him near me, both physically and mentally.”

Beverly leaned forward. “You’ve been having nightmares?” Deanna nodded and Beverly could see she was troubled just by thinking about it. “For how long? It’s not a side effect of losing the bond is it?”

“No, I started having them after Will was brought back from the planet.” She pushed her hair away from her face and wiped the remaining moisture from her features.

For a moment Crusher felt unsure as to whether she should ask the question that was foremost in her mind. But she and Deanna had never held anything back, they’d been friends for a long time and had never been scared of talking about the important things. “What were the nightmares about?”

Deanna stared at her, her emotions for the briefest of moments hidden. “I think they were Will’s dreams. From what I saw and felt, especially the last one…” She paused then covered her mouth with her hand and swallowed before dropping her hand again. “I felt him get beaten Beverly. When I woke screaming earlier, that’s what I was dreaming.”

Beverly’s eyes widened. “You saw what happened down there through one of Will’s dreams?”

“I think it was his way of reaching out for me, asking for help. I was too engrossed with what was happening to him physically to even imagine that he would do this, that he’d be able to. I ignored them, I ignored him.”

Crusher rested a gentle hand on Deanna’s upper arm. “Dwelling on it won’t help Deanna, you were under a lot of stress which meant you weren’t able to think and function normally.” Troi looked away as if in thought and Beverly could see her advice wasn’t having much of an impact, which left her only one thing left to offer. “If you sat with him would that help?” The Doctor may have been inexperienced when it came to the couple’s bond but she fully understood the healing powers of having a loved one near a sick patient.

“I don’t think so Beverly.” She answered negatively.

Trying to hold in the sigh she wanted to let out, Beverly moved forward to the edge of the chair, she was going to have to take over the Counseling duties. Not that she minded of course, Deanna had been there for her more times than she could remember and that’s what friends did for each other. “Do you love him?” She asked simply.

Deanna glared at her, shocked that she could even ask such as question. “Of course I do.”

“Then he needs you, just as you need him right now, bond or not.” She knew it was being harsh but she didn’t know any other way to make Deanna realize that although they may have lost their bond they still had their love for one another.

Deanna nodded her head and slid off the bed. “We’re on our way to Betazed.” She heard Crusher say as she ran her hands through her tousled hair.

“Why?” Deanna asked even though she knew the answer.

“Because neither the Captain nor I know how to help you and your mother will understand what you are going through.”

“You should have asked me first Beverly!” Deanna demanded storming out of the room and towards Will.

Crusher finally let out the sigh she had been holding in, closely following Deanna in to Will’s room. “We thought she would be able to help you Deanna, I didn’t want to wake you and the Captain didn’t want to waste time waiting for you to wake up.”

“I have enough to worry about with Will, the last thing I need right now is my mother hovering around and interfering. I can’t believe you would do this without asking me first Beverly!” She tidied the sheeting that covered Will, the same piece of material that had already been adjusted by Beverly several times through the night.

“We couldn’t just stand back and let the two of you struggle with this Deanna, the Captain and I care about you and Will.” The doctor let out another sigh as she ran her hand through her hair, watching Deanna as her eyes and hands studied Will. “What else could we have done?”

“Nothing Beverly, other than your job!” The small Betazoid yelled turning her anger and frustration on her friend, her voice far more intimating than her stature. “Just look after Will.”

Beverly bit back her initial response for her defense, arguing would get them nowhere and Deanna was not thinking straight at the moment, Beverly just hoped the Counselor would understand once she had a chance to calm down. “There’s not a lot I can do for him now, the rest is up to him. I’ll be in my office if you need me.”

Deanna wanted to scream at Beverly as she turned and left the room, but when her eyes came to rest on Will suddenly the small amount of energy that had been replenished during sleep drained from her leaving her once again exhausted.

She wanted to cry but it felt like her body had forgotten how, she wanted to yell and scream that this wasn’t fair but there was no one to listen and more than anything she wanted Will to open his eyes and say it had all been a dream, that he was healthy and he loved her.

Fully aware that she was deluding herself she sunk down into the chair next to Will. She had no idea what she was going to do, work was out of the question, how could she advise people what to do in their lives when her own was so out of control. Her mother was going to be here soon, maybe the Captain and Beverly had done the right thing in asking for her help she thought. She knew it was going to be hard to keep her sanity until Will was well enough for them to renew the bond. It was always him that gave her the strength and love she needed, who would be her support now, make her smile and feel cherished?

Closing her eyes and laying a hand on his warm chest she reached out for him with her mind but her only response was silence. She wondered what was going on inside his mind, if there was anything at all. Her thoughts drifted to the rejuvenation of their bond, how long would Will remain in a coma and when would he be strong enough physically and mentally for things to go back to the way they were. A shiver ran through her entire body as she tried to come to terms with the inevitable truth that she was going to spend next several weeks, if not months with a huge void in her soul.


Chapter 10

Twenty four hours later the Enterprise was in orbit around Betazed awaiting the arrival of Lwaxana Troi. Deanna continued to sit by Will’s bedside, not wanting to leave to sleep or eat even with the constant pleading of Doctor Crusher. Captain Picard had been in again to see how both Will and Deanna were doing and the Counselor had asked for time off, saying she was willing to resign if need be. After offering his support for whatever Deanna needed and seeing Will’s condition was stable he left vowing to return shortly with Mrs. Troi.

Now as she felt her mother’s presence nearing Deanna let a silent tear slip from the corner of her eye. The only other person onboard the Enterprise who would fully understand what she was going through, who could comprehend the idea of having such a vital part of herself missing.

Quietly Deanna sat holding Will’s hand. The strength of her mother’s emotions intensifying as she got closer. Worry, sadness and confusion flooded Deanna’s senses and she couldn’t stop herself as she returned her own despair and terrified emotions.

::::::I’m coming little one:::::: Echoed through Deanna’s head and she let out a strangled sob.

Moments later Deanna felt her mother standing behind her, still she didn’t move. Her shoulders hunched over as if she’d all but given up hope and the Commander’s hand sat in her lap, wrapped within her own.

“Deanna?” Lwaxana spoke softly, moving to stand beside her.

Turning to face the older Troi Deanna watched as her mother gasped at the pain she saw and felt radiating from her. Immediately Lwaxana had Deanna encircled in her arms, Deanna too drained to return the embrace sat unmoving apart from the tremors that shook her body as she began to cry. Deanna hadn’t noticed the three other people who had been in the room but now walked out to give the two women privacy. She could hold it in no longer, feeling that a part of her had died. She felt cheated and furious that her and Will’s bond had so suddenly been taken away from her, that he was now fighting for his life. But most of all she was sick with worry that he would never wake up, that she would never see his eyes light up and twinkle with happiness, that the future they’d talked about and started planning was now just a delusion.

Eventually when her body had stopped shaking Deanna reached up to put one arm around Lwaxana, the other still held Will’s tightly, afraid to let him go. Scared that if she did let go it would be like taking away his life source. Lwaxana crouched down beside her daughter bringing their eyes level. “Doing this to yourself is not helping him.” She said softly, gently resting her hand on Deanna’s cheek. “When he wakes he’ll need you.”

“I need him now.” Deanna sniffed and released her one armed hold on her mother and wiped the remnants of tears from her face.

Mrs. Troi nodded her understanding and turned her head to look at the sleeping form of Will Riker. “You need to stay strong Deanna and you can’t do that when you are tired and hungry.”

“I’m not leaving him mother!” Deanna’s voice rose as she got to her feet and hovered over Will.

“I brought someone with me Deanna, someone I believe will be able to help re-establish your bond.”

Deanna sighed, this was the reason she hadn’t wanted Lwaxana to come on board. “I don’t think bringing strangers in here is going to help him right now.”

“He can just probe in to Will’s mind, see how severe the damage is.” She walked around to the other side of the bed, looking down at Will with a sad remorseful expression on her face.

“I know how severe it is, I can’t feel him!” Deanna snapped.

“No offense dear, but you don’t have the amount of experience that Doctor Jetun does.”

“Maybe I don’t, but this Doctor doesn’t know Will like I do. I know his mind mother and if there was the slightest hint that our bond remained I would know.” Deanna wanted to scream at her to stay out of it, the only thing she needed from her mother was support and it seemed more than obvious that it was going to be all or nothing. If she wanted the support she would have to take the meddling as well, as much as she knew Lwaxana was only trying to help her she just wished everyone would leave her alone with Will.

“And what if he’s blocking you?”

“He’s not strong enough too.”

The elder Troi’s eyebrows rose as if she had been surprised by Deanna’s answer. “The William Riker I know would fight at whatever the cost to keep his pain from you.”

Deanna had never thought of that, what if he was shielding himself from her. She knew with certainty their bond was broken but the possibility that he would close himself off from her to spare her his pain had never crossed her mind. It seemed impossible with his physical state that he would have the strength to keep himself hidden from her. Deanna looked to her mother, her eyes questioning if it was possible that there could indeed be something going on inside of Will’s head.

“Let me bring Doctor Jetun in.”

Deanna nodded her head slowly and Lwaxana left the room to get the Doctor before Deanna changed her mind.

When Deanna was alone again she couldn’t help but think of what her mother had said. Closing her eyes she focused everything she had on Will, maybe he was blocking her. By now she should at least be able to sense his surface emotions, the emotions she could sense in every other living being. There was nothing, no indication of his tiredness or pain and discomfort from his injuries.

Reopening her eyes she was greeted with the faces of Doctor Crusher, Captain Picard, Lwaxana and another man who she presumed was Doctor Jetun. Deanna was not familiar with this man but was comfortable knowing that her mother would’ve found out everything there was to know about him. His appearance however didn’t help with her confidence in him. He was a short middle aged man with long grey spindly hair, his dark eyes holding no emotion as he stood with his hands on hips giving her the impression he had somewhere more important to be.

“I’m not entirely happy about this,” Crusher said looking at Deanna “but if you think it will help I’m all for giving it a try.”

“Thank you.” Deanna replied as the two Doctors and Mrs. Troi walked completely in to the room and surrounded Will. Picard remained just inside the doorway, his commanding posture and distance conveying his concern for his First Officer but his wish not to intrude.

“I’ll be monitoring his life signs and if there’s the slightest change,” Beverly now turned to the visiting Doctor “you will stop.”

Clenching Will’s hands tightly in both her own Deanna looked at the Betazoid Doctor and nodded. For moments there was an eerie silence in the room, the constant beeping of the medical monitors the only sound to be heard. Minutes later they all jumped as Doctor Jetun’s eyes flew wide open and a strangled gasp escaped his lungs before he fell to the floor. He took in ragged deep breaths as Beverly and Lwaxana kneeled beside him while he reached out blindly to grip on to their arms. “He knows.” The Doctor managed between breaths.

“Knows what?” Deanna asked him impatiently.

“I know that we’re not Imzadi anymore.” Instantly Deanna lost interest in Jetun, her attention now focused on the man awake on the bed.


Chapter 11

"My god, Will." Deanna whispered as she leaned over him, looking into his eyes. She heard Beverly get to her feet to inspect his stats but she couldn't tear her gaze away from him to ask how he was.

"I can't feel the bond." Will rasped as he shakily sought their bond, one which was always harder for him to seek.

She removed one of her hands from his so she could touch his face. Ever so gently she ran her fingers over his forehead pushing his hair back before moving them down over the side of his face and his chin. Eventually her ministration came to a rest as she laid her hand on his chest, covering the steady beat of his heart. "Don't worry about that now."

He tried to let go of the hand she had a hold on and when she finally released it he wearily reached up to touch her. "I can't feel you." It was almost a sob and she didn't need her empathic abilities to know he was upset.

"Will you need to calm down." Beverly said and Will looked away from Deanna embarrassed by his behavior when he hadn't noticed there was anyone else in the room.

Deanna placed her hand on the side of his face, gently moving it so he was again looking at her. "I mean it Will," she said softly so only he could hear, "I don't want you to worry about it."

Will shook his head and groaned in frustration. "No Deanna, I want to know what's wrong." He grimaced as he shifted himself to sit up, his body immediately recoiling against the movement and forcing him to lie back down.

"What's wrong," Beverly interrupted "is that your body has been through a very traumatic experience and you need rest." She looked at him sternly then turned to Deanna, her expression softening slightly but still getting her message across.

Will did as he was told and tore his gaze away from Deanna, his eyes wandered around the room quietly observing all those gathered around his bed, and then he noticed Captain Picard standing in the doorway. Will felt like a fool, his first thoughts upon waking had not been of the safety of the Enterprise and her crew but of Deanna and their bond. He closed his eyes trying to block out the embarrassment, when he opened them again Picard was staring back at him. "Captain. the away team and the Enterprise?" He stuttered out, trying to get over his awkwardness.

Picard took a step forward. "Everything's fine Will."

Will sighed with relief at the Captain's calming response, he felt like he had hundreds of questions to ask, but his brain refused function. He covered his eyes with the back of his arm to escape the entourage that was watching his every move. He heard Beverly quietly ask everyone to leave the room, silently he prayed that Deanna would remain behind with him so he could get some answers. When the soft footfalls were out of Will's earshot he opened his eyes again but to his disappointment Deanna was gone.

Beverly stood at the end of his bed reading over information on her tricorder, she watched as he stared out through the door her heart sinking because she knew what, or more accurately who, he was looking for. "She needs sleep too Will." She walked the length of his bed resting her hand gently on top of his.

"I know. just a few minutes alone with her." He was certain that to Beverly, he must have sounded pathetic but he needed to see Deanna, if not to talk about what was happening then just to be near her and tell her he loved her.

Beverly patted his hand lightly. "Alright, but I want you to behave, no getting worked up and no trying to sitting up."

Will smiled briefly as he watched Beverly leave the room. His heart began to flutter at the thought of seeing Deanna, its intense beating causing a nervous feeling to rise in his stomach. It was like the first time he saw her, the anticipation of being close to her after being separated for what seemed like a lifetime. He was brought out of his thoughts when he saw her figure standing beside him. He couldn't ignore the redness around the dark eyes he continually found himself lost in or the constant trembling of her small frame.

"Beverly said we have five minutes." She avoided his gaze, choosing instead to stare at her feet, her arms crossed her chest as if to protect her from something, from him.

Will lifted his arm to touch her, the closest part of her within his grasp was her hips and he slid his hand around her and pulled her towards him. "Deanna, talk to me."

"Now's not the time to talk about it Will." She allowed him to draw her closer and dropped her arms to her side, letting her guard down slightly.

He sighed, wishing more than ever that he could sit up. "Then when? At least tell me what you're feeling since I can't sense you."

Deanna leaned forward and placed a quick but tender kiss on his lips, relinquishing the small amount of self control she had left. "I'm so glad you're better, I don't know what I'd do if I lost you."

Will wearily wrapped his heavy arms around her, preventing her from moving away from him. Barely a breath separated them and Will caressed her face with his own, her tears wetting his cheeks. "I love you," he murmured kissing the fresh supply of tears that she released due to his words. "I can't last long like this Deanna, I need you, I need to feel you inside my heart and mind."

Deanna sighed as she leaned into him, "As soon as you've had some sleep we'll talk about it, I promise."

Will could only nod in response, his ability to continue the conversation fading by the second. He buried his face in her hair, briefly inhaling her scent before pulling away at the sound of a soft cough coming from the doorway. "Perfect timing as always." He mumbled laying back down and looking at Beverly, his hand searching for Deanna's.

"Sorry, but it's bed time for both of you." She remained in the doorway, not wanting to further intrude on their goodnights.

Bending down Deanna pressed a kiss to Will's forehead. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Will forced a smile, trying to keep his tiredness from her. He gave her hand a final squeeze before she pulled it from his grasp and left Sickbay.


Chapter 12

Will Riker stared up at the roof of Sickbay, as tired as he was he couldn't sleep. He'd fallen in and out of consciousness countless time since Deanna had left him. Woken every time wanting to reach out to her with both his mind and body. The distance between them slowly began to gnaw at him, he needed answers. He could remain confined to his bed no longer and with quick deep breaths struggled to sit up. When he realized he'd managed it without attracting any attention or setting off the medical monitors he pushed the thin sheet off his legs, only to find himself naked. Will rolled his eyes and sighed, "What is it with those two women? Any opportunity to take my clothes off." He slid off the bed and moved slowly around the room searching for any clothing, wincing in pain as his muscles protested against movement. Just as he'd expected there was nothing for him to wear. Wrapping the bed sheet around his waist he moved to the doorway. The nurses who were on duty were all busy with their work and Beverly was nowhere to be seen. Will inched his way closer to the main Sickbay door, gradually and painfully he slipped through and out into the corridor and right into the pathway of Beverly Crusher.

"William Riker, how did I know you would try an escape attempt before the night was over?" She asked, her hands placed firmly on her hips as she waited for his string of excuses to begin.

"Either you take me to see Deanna or you bring her here but one way or another I'm going to talk to her." Supported by the wall he knew he was in no state to make demands but his health was the last thing he wanted to think about. "I can't sleep Beverly." He declared, his eyes glazing over due to both tiredness and his emotions.

Beverly reached out and ran her hand up and down his arm. "It's difficult for her too."

"That's why I need to see her, please, this isn't just going to go away." He started to walk past Beverly who tightened her grip slightly on his arm making him stop. His eyes pleaded with her, convinced he was about to be given his marching orders and sent back to bed.

Beverly shook her head not believing what she was about to do, but she doubted any reasoning she offered Will would be of any comfort to him. "Transporter Room Two, lock on to my signal and beam myself and Commander Riker to the corridor outside Counselor Troi's quarters."

Within seconds they materialized at Deanna's door and Beverly saw a brief flicker of hope flash in Will's eyes. "I don't want you staying too long Will, the last thing either of you need right now is to get more worked up. And you're not exactly dressed for the occasion" she added looking at the sheet that he held around his waist.

Will nodded his head reluctant to agree but willing to tell Beverly whatever she wanted to hear in order to see Deanna. He pressed the door chime, his stance shifting as he waited impatiently for her to answer. When there was no response Will lifted his hand to key in the code but was stopped by Beverly's hand. "She's in there Beverly and she's not hiding from me any more." He completed the code and the door slid open to reveal Deanna's darkened quarters.

Will stepped over the threshold and scanned the room for Deanna, seeing she was not in the living room he turned around to look at Beverly. "I'll be right out here okay." She told him before moving away from the door. It slid shut, effectively closing her out and sealing him within. Looking around her cabin Will saw the outline of Deanna's body illuminated by the stars outside as she lay on her side in bed. Slowly he drew nearer to her but it wasn't until he kneeled beside her that he noticed she'd been crying. "Imzadi." He whispered, pushing the hair back off her face. Instantaneously he felt his heart drop as her large dark eyes began to open.

More than anything Will wanted to reach out and pull her to him but the thought left his mind as she sat up and moved away from him. "You shouldn't be here Will."

Will's eyes widened at her response and he sat back on his legs, watching her every move. "I need to be here, please tell me what happened to our bond."

"It's gone," she said simply and Will was a little shocked by the coldness of her answer.

"I know it's gone but why? Can we get it back?" He got to his feet and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching his hand out to try and grasp hers. She recoiled from him and Will felt his stomach lurch from both disappointment and uncertainty. This wasn't how he had planned their conversation would go.

Deanna pushed the covers back off her and hopped out of bed, moving to face the window. "It's gone because you died and I don't know if we can get it back."

"Why are you being like this?"

"Like what Will? I told you, you shouldn't be here."

"I'm not leaving until we talk about this. I know what you're trying to do and it won't work."

"I'm not doing anything Will, I was trying to sleep."

"Do you think if you treat me like this it'll make the emptiness go away, that you're feelings for me will change.that you won't love me anymore?"

Will could see her body shaking slightly and knew he'd hit the right chord. He didn't need their bond to know what she was thinking and feeling, that had come through years of friendship. "You're forgetting that you're half of a whole Deanna. I know what you feel right now because I'm feeling exactly the same thing, and if you think that by staying away from me and ignoring what we had will make it easier then maybe I was wrong about us." Will waited for her to say something, anything that would prove him wrong but the sound of her deep breathing was his only response. He wanted to get up and leave but as the room started to slowly spin before his eyes he knew the chances of him standing and remaining upright were dwindling by the second.

Refusing to ask Deanna for any help he used his arm for leverage as he slowly pushed himself off the bed. He'd not even taken his first step when his legs buckled underneath him and he collapsed to the ground. Will didn't hear the sound of Deanna's startled cry for help or Beverly's hurried footsteps as she rushed into the room, his consciousness instead wrapped in a thick veil of darkness.


Chapter 13

"What have I done?" Deanna cried out.

Beverly instinctively reached for her Comm. Badge but was stopped by the sound of Deanna's murmured cries. "It's not your fault Deanna, he forced the issue of wanting to see you. It's his own stubbornness and my stupidity for falling for those big blue eyes that's caused this."

Deanna didn't acknowledge Beverly even though she'd heard every word, purely because she believed it was her own fault. Will had only been following his heart, trying to get the answers she had been afraid to give and Beverly had only been trying to help them. No, it was all her fault.

Beverly tapped her Comm. Badge and moments later all three of them materialized in Sickbay. Deanna watched as Will's limp body was lifted up on to the bed and Beverly once again ran her tricorder over him. "He'll be fine, his body just wasn't up to the added stress."

"The stress I put on him you mean?" Deanna snapped.

Beverly sighed and shook her head in exasperation "No that's not what I meant Deanna, but to be honest if you two keep this up you'll both end up in Sickbay permanently." She gently pulled Deanna away from Will's sleeping form and in to her office. "I don't know what's going on between you and Will emotionally, but what I do know is that your refusal to tell him what happened and withdrawing from him is in my opinion making his condition worse."

Deanna turned away from the Doctor to look at Will through the window. "I was just trying to spare him the pain."

"He's already in pain Deanna, even I can see that. He doesn't understand what's happening and he needs you."

"Since we met he's never been without it and can't remember what it was like before." Troi saw Beverly raise her eyebrows and continued. "Our bond. Since we've known each other it's always been there, it's like loosing a vital organ.your heart. How can you function when something you've depended on for so long is taken away from you?"

Beverly pulled out the chair at her desk and sat down, confident that Will was merely in need of some rest and TLC. The rest part was being taken care of, now all she had to do was try and convince Deanna she was the one responsible for the TLC. "Did you love him before your bond formed?"

"I was young, I had feelings for him. Was it love.I don't know."

"So you're saying, this bond is the only reason you love him?"

Deanna turned to Beverly, shocked that she would even say such a thing. "No of course not. I love him because he's Will."

"And he still is. Deanna I understand the bond you share is important, to both of you, but he's still the same man. The William Riker you met on Betazed, the one you've served with for years, he's the man who looks after and protects you, the one you stay up with 'til all hours just talking and the one who gives you love unconditionally. None of that has changed."

Deanna's eyes drifted down to look at the floor, ashamed by her behaviour, she knew Beverly was right. She'd had feelings for Will before the bond and just as they had grown and matured over the years so too had the strength of their relationship. Whatever had come and gone through the years the one stable thing she'd always had in her life since coming on board the Enterprise was Will and their friendship. "I know." Deanna finally answered after looking back up to see Beverly watching the changing of emotions on her face. "I think I'd like to sit with him for a while."

Beverly smiled, pleased to see someone was finally willing to accept her advice. She nodded, getting to her feet and standing next to Deanna. "He'll be fine, all he needs is some uninterrupted rest." She told Deanna placing her hand over the top of the Counselor's slightly trembling fingers. When Deanna looked at her skeptically Beverly could only raise an eyebrow. "Hey, I'm a Doctor, trust me."

Deanna forced a slight smile to the corners of her mouth then reached her arms out to wrap them around Beverly. "Thank you," she whispered "for everything."

Pulling away from the Doctor, Deanna kept her eyes averted and walked from the office and into Will's room. Even though she felt slightly better from talking to Beverly she also felt as if she had the worries of hundreds resting on her small shoulders.

She pulled over a chair from the corner of the room to place it next to the head of Will's bed. He lay motionless on his back, just as he had been when she left the room. The sight of his dark rimmed sunken eyes bringing tears to her eyes as she reached out with her still trembling hands to touch his cheek. "I'm sorry.Imzadi." She withdrew her hand from his face and sat down in the chair, hesitating for a moment before reaching back out to grasp hold of his hand. "I'll be here when you wake up then we can talk about whatever you want." She mumbled, but loud enough just in case he was listening.

Chapter 14

Will continued to sleep through the next several days, completely oblivious to Deanna waiting by his bedside and the thoughts that ran through her mind. She left only to change her clothes and have a shower and on a few rare occasions to get some sleep. Each time making sure Beverly had promised to call her when Will began to stir. But now she was tired of waiting, all she could think about was talking to him. In her mind Deanna could see him waking up, the way he would let out a soft groan of protest as his body began to wake, his eyes would then lightly start to flicker as they fought against the light in the room. He'd try to roll over to block everything out, his hands wandering over the softness of the bed in the hopes of finding her body to wrap his arms around. And then in one last ditch attempt to fight off waking up he'd cover his eyes with his arm and take a deep breath.

So it came as quite a shock to Deanna when she looked up to find Will starring back at her. "Will." She shouted, getting to her feet and sending several of the medical staff scurrying. She saw him struggling to wake himself quickly and speak at the same time.

".stay." It was the only word that Deanna could understand and her heart skipped a beat when she realized he was worried that she was going to leave him again.

She squeezed his hand and leaned her face over his. "I'm not going anywhere."

Relief washed over his features and she noticed his breathing slowed. His eyes closed briefly as he tried to compose himself before opening them once again to look into her eyes. "Sorry I barged in on you, just wanted to talk, to see you."

"No I'm sorry," Deanna shook her head. "I shouldn't have treated you like that."

"And I'm sorry it took you both so long to come to your senses." Beverly stood in the doorway, looking more than a little tired but happy that her two friends were finally acknowledging what was happening.

"Beverly," Deanna said, temporarily looking away from Will "he's awake."

The Doctor smiled and approached Will's bed. "I can see that. I just hope he doesn't think he's escaping my care anytime soon."

They heard Will groan from the bed as he unconsciously pulled Deanna closer to him, albeit weakly.

"I'll just give you a quick check up then I'll leave you to talk." Beverly said trying to sound uninterested while running the tricorder over Will's body. "You've done a fair bit of recovering while you've been asleep, so don't go doing anything stupid and undoing it all alright."

Will merely nodded his head, his attention solely focused on Deanna. "I missed you." He blurted out, not wanting to wait for Beverly to leave the room.

Deanna looked at Beverly from the corner of her eye, a light blush rising in her cheeks at Will's sudden open display of affection. "You were asleep."

"That's why I missed you."

Deanna shot Beverly another quick glance trying to find out exactly what she was doing and if she was stalling. "I missed you too Will, but we need to take this slow."

"Why do we? We weren't taking it slow before all this happened. As I recall we both jumped into it head first, not caring about any consequences because we knew how each other felt, my feelings for you haven't changed." He grabbed hold of both of her hands. "Have yours?"

Deanna swallowed, she hadn't expected the conversation to get so serious so soon. "Not really, no." She heard Beverly gasp from behind her and knew then with certainty that she was doing nothing other than listening in. "Beverly!"

"Sorry, I'm leaving."

"Your feelings have changed?" Will asked Deanna as Beverly left the room.

"No, I didn't mean that, they're just different."

"Which means they've changed Deanna." Will dropped her hand and looked at the ceiling. "How can me getting injured make you not love me anymore?"

"I do love you, but you have to admit the bond missing makes things more complicated." Deanna couldn't believe the words had left her mouth. She'd always known that having the bond had made things more difficult between them, had made the temptation of being together while serving together so much harder to refuse. And yet here she was trying to convince not only Will but herself that life was all the more painful without it.

Will struggled to sit up slightly. He felt helpless lying down, like everything was out of his control and completely out of reach, especially Deanna's feelings. "You don't believe that anymore than I do, the Imzadi bond is something most normal couples don't have but still manage to have a long loving relationship."

"Will, our relationship is anything but normal."

"I know, just to listen to me." He saw her bow her head slightly in acknowledgement and knew that their future would depend on his chosen words. "I don't know what it is you're so scared of or why you won't tell me but what I do know is that the part of you that feels like it's been ripped apart can be fixed." Deanna wouldn't look at him, and against the protests of his body he sat up further on the bed in the hopes of being able to reach out and grab the arms that she had crossed over her chest. "You're not the only one who's lost something Deanna, you forget our bond was a two way street. I'm hurting too, but regardless of whether the bond returns or not I want us to be together."

He began to shuffle over to the side of the bed but stopped when he saw Beverly watching through the window in her office shaking her head at him. "Damn it!" He mumbled under his breath. He knew if he went any further she'd be in here in seconds, abruptly bringing his conversation with Deanna to an end. "Deanna look at me."

Deanna did as he asked, her large dark eyes beginning to overflow with tears as she looked at him. She bit her lower lip, her feeble attempt at drawing her attention away from Will.

"If you still love me like you say you do then this was never about being Imzadi, our souls have already been bound together, nothing can undo that." Ignoring Beverly, Will threw the bed sheet off his body and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Deanna was immediately on her feet next to him scared of what he was about to do.

Just as Will suspected Beverly was at the door before he had the chance to stand up. He disregarded her presence and cupped his hand around Deanna's cheek and chin. "If you think you'll be happier by carrying on as just friends and nothing more then I'll try to respect that, but know that I'll never give up."

Fresh tears spilled down over Deanna's cheeks and she could keep herself from his embrace no longer. "I don't want you to give up." She sobbed as she leaned into his chest. Will wrapped his arms around her and buried his face into the crook of her neck.

"You can still sense my surface emotions?" Will asked, his warm breath brushing over Deanna's skin. A soft nod against him was her only response, giving him the answer she was unable to speak. "Well then I need you to tell me what you feel, what's going on in your mind."

Deanna didn't move or speak at first, she took several deep breaths before moving out of his arms. His blue eyes looked back at her with total captivation, completely absorbed in her and waiting for her answer. Neither of them knew if Beverly was still in the room, for all Will cared the whole of the crew could've been there. And then Deanna finally spoke.

"I feel like I've lost more than the bond, that things have returned to the way they were before we became lovers again. I know it's silly to feel like that because I still have the memories of us being together but it's something I can't explain."

Will understood perfectly, it was a feeling unlike he'd ever experienced before. It was beyond heartache and pain, the anguish of it threatened to overwhelm him and without Deanna's help it was possible he would succumb. "We can start from the beginning." Will suggested, willing to do anything. "Go out on dates and see how things progress. Take things a day at a time."

He could see the uncertainty in Deanna's eyes but refused to give up just as he thought he was starting to wear her down. "You owe this to us. Please Deanna, after all we've been through you can't leave me here to cope with this on my own, I need you."

"Alright," she agreed as her tears stopped and the smallest of smiles came to her lips. "Although I'm not sure how I'll make it through the courting experience with you for a third time."

"That's my girl." Will fought the urge to lean forward and kiss her, not wanting to push things ahead to quickly for her. Instead he stretched out his hand to her, taking her smaller one into his. "It's lovely to meet you Miss Troi."


Chapter 15

Will made steady progress, getting a little bit healthier and stronger everyday but to his disappointment his and Deanna's relationship didn't seem to be making progress beyond holding hands or occasional touches. He was still restricted to Sickbay. Beverly refused to let him leave until he was at least ninety percent recovered, which meant he still had at least another few days or so to wait. Tired of waiting for either his release from Sickbay or for Deanna to make the first move he decided he was going to have to come up with something to show her his intentions from the confines of his bed.

"Beverly!" He shouted, drawing the attention of the whole of Sickbay. "Beverly!"

Doctor Crusher came running from her office with Captain Picard in tow. Will was temporarily put off by the appearance of the Captain but told himself any embarrassment he was about to experience was worth it for Deanna.

"What's wrong Will?" Beverly asked.

"I need some things brought here, flowers, candles, smelly stuff." He saw the confused look on both Crusher and Picard's face but continued his request nonetheless. "And I need you to program a recipe into the replicators, and maybe see if you can get a table in this room if we push the bed out of the way."

"What are you talking about?" Beverly's hands were on her hips, he knew she was going to say no and that's why he was going to play the only card he had left, pity.

"It's for a date with Deanna, our first one. I need to do this now Beverly, you've seen her, she's getting cold feet I can tell. I can't do anything while I'm stuck in here, I need your help.please."

Beverly looked at the Captain who had the faintest of smile on his face and nodded her head. "Who am I to stand in the way of true love?"

"Thank you." He sighed with relief. "Captain, do you think you can keep Deanna busy with work until tonight."

Picard raised his eyebrows, surprised that he'd come in here for a check up only to find himself involved in a plot to mend the uncertain relationship between his First Officer and Counselor. "I'll do my best Will."

Will smiled his thanks to his Captain and returned his attention to Beverly. "This is what I need you to do."

That evening Deanna was at work in her office after spending the day on the Bridge as the Captain had requested, she hadn't even had time to visit Will. She spoken to him over the Comm. and he'd told her not to worry, he'd still be there tonight when her shift and all her appointments were over. As much as she loved spending time with Will each time she saw him it was harder for her to keep her doubts to herself. She knew she should just end things with him because of her concerns about their future but she just couldn't bear to part from him.

It was during her musings that the door chime rang. "Come in," she said unsure who it would be considering all her appointments were finished.

The door opened revealing the figures of two tall, solid built Security Officers. She regonised one of them as Lieutenant Gorman, a man who had brought Will back from countless away missions, someone they both trusted greatly. "Ma'am if you'd just accompany us."

Deanna got to her feet. "What's this about Lieutenant?"

"Counselor your presence has been requested by Commander Riker."

She laughed, this was just like Will. She hadn't turned up of her own free will so now he was sending out the troops to take her to him, by force if needed. Deanna walked past them and out into the corridor, the two men following closely behind. "Why did he send two of you?" She asked as they walked into the turbolift.

Gorman smiled. "Commander Riker suggested that your size was somewhat of an unrealistic indication of your abilities. He also said you couldn't focus your counseling techniques on both of us at the same time should you try to get out of coming."

Again Deanna laughed. "He could've just called."

They went the rest of the way in silence, the two officers stopping in the corridor as Deanna entered Sickbay. She saw Beverly in her office and walked over to say hello, noticing at that moment that the door to Will's room was closed and all the windows had been covered. "Is everything okay?" She asked Beverly distractedly as she changed her direction and walked towards Will's room.

"Deanna?" Beverly called out just as Deanna reached up to open the door. "How was your day?"

Troi looked at her friend skeptically. "I've had better, but it'll be nice to see Will."

"Yes," Beverly turned on her heels and walked away "yes I'm sure it will be."

Deanna shook her head, unsure as to why everyone was behaving so strangely. Turning back to Will's room she opened the door, stunned to find the appearance of his room resembled more of a garden than part of a medical facility. She gasped at the hundreds of little pink and white trumpet shaped flowers that hung from the ceiling in clusters, their fragrance drifting through the room and into her senses. Draped over the walls were long lengths of various tones of red and purple silk entwined with white lace. The room was illuminated by several large candles which sat on top of metal stands, and a few smaller ones that flickered on a table. In between each of the tall candle stands were small green leafy shrubs in pots that had been carefully trimmed so as not to cover up anything. "My god." Deanna whispered.

She hadn't even noticed Will standing over in the corner, propped up by his bed, which had been moved to fit in a table big enough for the two of them to sit at. He cleared his throat gently immediately getting her attention. "You did this?" She asked him.

"Some of it, I had a lot of help though."

"You're wearing clothes." She said, suddenly realizing. He hadn't been out of the Sickbay pajamas for days and had up until now failed to get Beverly's approval to put on something that was more comfortable. He looked gorgeous, dressed in black pants and a dark blue, almost black shirt, the slight tinge of blue in the shirt making his eyes look like sparkling sapphires. The smell of his aftershave floated up into her nostrils, temporarily leaving her awestruck as she took in his wet, slightly spiky hair and neatly trimmed beard.

"I thought you might be hungry." He said, slowly walking over to the table and pulling out the chair for her.

She smiled and moved towards the offered chair. "This is lovely Will."

"Well since I couldn't take you to the arboretum for our first date I thought I'd bring it here." As excited and happy as she was right now, Deanna still found it difficult to ignore the nervousness that burned in the pit of her stomach.


Chapter 16

Will waited for Deanna to sit down then pushed her chair in before going to sit at the other side of the table. This was where he was going to work his magic on her, make her see what a mistake it was to keep herself hidden away from him. He picked up the bottle of wine in front of him and poured Deanna a glass but only gave himself a couple of mouthfuls. "Doctor's orders," he told Deanna indicating his near empty glass "but enough to celebrate a special occasion." He handed Deanna her glass and held up his own, "To us, and picking up where we left off before I got sick."

Deanna touch her glass to his but did not repeat his toast, instead she merely smiled at him before taking a sip of the wine, which from the label she had guessed to be a gift from Captain Picard.

"Deanna are you alright?" Will asked, disheartened by her response to his toast.

"I'm fine, just a little tired I think."

"Ah, that would partly be my fault." He cringed, thinking the Captain must've overworked her during the day just as he'd asked.

"No it's not Will. I don't get much sleep not only because I'm worried about you but because I've got other things on my mind."

Will looked up from the glass of water he was pouring for himself to see her face change, he realized in the same instant that she had that she'd said more than she'd meant to. "What things?"

"Nothing, can we just have dinner and be together, not talk about everything for a change." Her tone was bordering on being snappy and although he didn't want to get into an argument he wasn't going to let her get away with it.

"What's wrong Deanna? And don't tell me you're tired," he countered just as she began to open her mouth. "What other things are on your mind?"

She was silent and it was at that moment that Beverly Crusher decided to walk into the room, her timing impeccable as always. "Not now Beverly." Will said forcefully, still looking at Deanna.

"But I've got your first course and-"

"I said not now damn it!"

Beverly took one look at Deanna then quickly placed the two plates on the table and left, mumbling under her breath.

Will stood up and closed the door behind her, moving back over to stand behind Deanna. He put his hands on the back of her chair and leaned down next to her ear. "I want you to tell me what's going on Deanna because you can't dance around whatever is making you act this way forever. I've done all this for our first date and it's like you don't even care."

"I do care Will, and maybe that's the problem, I care too much." She pushed her chair out and stood up, wanting to put some distance between them.

"What are you talking about?" His legs began to shake from the stress of standing and he sat down on Deanna's now vacated seat and gulped down a glass of water.

"Have you thought about what it would be like to be together but without the Imzadi bond?" She asked him. She knew he was in pain, she could feel it flowing off him just as easily as she could've anyone else but she also saw it on his face.

"Of course I have," he snapped "but I thought we'd been through this."

"No we haven't Will, you think it hurts now? Imagine how it'll feel when after all the anticipation and expectation of our bond reforming, it never happens. I need it Will, I need us to have it." She was on the verge of tears, every ounce of strength that she had left was slowly draining away and she sank to the floor.

Will was at her side as quickly as his body would carry him, he finally understood what had been troubling her all this time. "You don't think with the love and passion we have for each other we can get it back?"

"I don't know if it's that easy."

He sat down in the middle of the room and even though he was still fairly weak managed to pull her onto his lap, her legs resting outside of his as she rested her head on his shoulder. "Then if it doesn't things will be different. We might have to work a little harder than we have in the past but you already have part of my soul and that will never change. What matters is that we're in love and happy together."

At his words Deanna finally allowed herself to let go of her fears and doubts and took a firm hold of Will instead. Her arms wound under his arms and around his back, clenching onto him so tightly he felt the air leave his lungs.

It was at this precise moment that Lwaxana Troi burst in through the door, her yelling at both Beverly Crusher and Lieutenant Gorman halted when she saw the entwined forms of her daughter and Will Riker sitting on the floor. "You're not trying to rush him along too quickly are you little one? He's still recovering from his injuries, he won't have the stamina yet."

Will felt Deanna's body tremble slightly, unable to hold in her laughter at her mother's ability to show up at the most inconvenient times.

"No mother, we're saving that for later." She sat up and moved out of Will's embrace, decidedly content that for the moment she was just happy to be with him.

"Yes and if you don't mind," Will spoke before Lwaxana had the chance "we have a date we'd like to finish."

He saw Beverly smile behind the Betazoid and watched as the three of them walked away, Lwaxana scowling as she went. "I'm going to have to win your mother over again too aren't I?"

Deanna got to her feet and helped Will to stand, his legs still a little wobbly. "I don't think so, why do you think she's still here? So she can keep an eye on you and make sure we don't mess things up."

As they stood in the middle of the room, Deanna kept Will upright and he found he could no longer fight the urge to kiss her. He leaned his face down so it was level with hers and when she didn't look away or move, it was the only acceptance he needed to press his lips to hers. It was soft and far too brief for either of them so when he repeated the gesture a second time Deanna wrapped her arms around his neck to stop him from pulling away to quickly.

After several moments they severed the contact due to lack of oxygen and Deanna grinned up at him and smiled. "Let's eat, Imzadi."


Chapter 17

Will and Deanna continued their date until late in the night, their only interruption being Beverly who brought in new meals and later removed the plates when she brought in dessert. It didn't go completely unnoticed by Will that Beverly had a tricorder pointed at him the whole time and yet somehow managed to keep it hidden from view.

When Deanna finally left in the early hours of the morning Will was exhausted. Although Deanna had tried to leave several times he pleaded with her stay, emphasizing the lack of time they'd spent together. She'd helped him get out of his clothes and back into the cotton pajamas that he was always forced to wear in Sickbay. The table was removed and his bed returned to the centre of the room. Wanting her last memory of the night to be of the room decorated rather than the drabness of Sickbay he'd waited until Deanna had left before helping Beverly take down the flowers and sending them on to Deanna's quarters. After the longest goodnight of his life Deanna had left him to sleep and get some herself. Will had begged her to take him with her, using Beverly's coddling as an excuse to help him escape to their quarters. "I promise I'll behave and won't pass out like last time." He'd pleaded, feigning an injury to his chest when Deanna shook her head. With a kiss goodnight and the promise to return in the morning she had left him to mull over the evening and their future.

Much to his dislike Will let his eyes drift shut, the silence of Sickbay pushing him into the realm of sleep. His deep breaths turned to soft snores as his subconscious took him to the one place he didn't want to go.

Standing in his tattered uniform Will stared down into the endless swirling room as it spiraled out of control. He knew he'd been here before, it was beyond the simple feeling of déjà vu that made him feel suddenly nauseous. He turned to look at his surroundings, finding only blackness. The brightness from the pit below allowing him only enough light to see a few feet in every direction.

When his eyes returned to the doorway, he gasped not only from shock but in disbelief when Deanna rose from within the spinning mass. "Deanna?"

"Why don't you come with me Will?" She said coldly. "I promise I'll take all your pain away." Her eyes were vacant and held none of the love and compassion that he'd seen there in all the years he'd known her.

An involuntary shiver ran up his spine as she smiled at him then laughed. "Imzadi," She purred "why don't you trust me?"

"Help me," Will pleaded "help me get out of here."

Again Deanna laughed at him, her form lifting so she was staring him directly in the eyes, her face only inches from his. "Why would I want to help you?"

Will reached out to touch her but she moved out of his grasp, returning only when both his arms rested at his side. "What about what we talked about? I thought you loved me."

Deanna's face turned serious and she moved even closer to him, their bodies still not touching even though Will could feel her warm breath on his face as she spoke. "How could you ever think what we discussed could be real, why would I ever want to rejoin with you when I am finally free of you?"

Will's mouth opened to speak but no words came out, was this his Deanna? The same woman he'd cherished most of his life, and the same one he'd shared the most sacred of bonds with?

At her words he couldn't help but think that maybe this was the real Deanna Troi, maybe everything she'd told him had been a lie, a big sugar coated lie, just to keep him where she wanted him. She'd always said their bond was special but he knew there were disadvantages just as she did, could this be her way of freeing herself from him.

"You think the bond severing was an accident? I caused it, I wanted it done, I wanted you dead."

"No! No that's not true." He yelled at her and stepped backwards, shaking his head in defiance. "You wouldn't do that, you wouldn't." He repeated softly, trying to make himself believe it.

She began to stalk him, the white's of her eyes becoming black. "You're delusional Will, I don't love you and I don't want to re establish that damn Imzadi bond. It's over Will, over."

Her voice echoed in his head, the sound of her laughter ringing in his ears as he woke with a jump, screaming her name. He sat up in his bed, his gasps for air rapid, his movements erratic as he tried to remember where he was and what was real. Having been alerted by the alarms sounding out through Sickbay Beverly came running into the room her tricorder at the ready.

"Don't come any closer!" Will yelled at her falling off the opposite side of the bed.

Beverly waved him off, thinking this was just his usual way of getting her to leave him alone. "Will, don't be silly I just want to make sure you're alright."

Will stumbled to his feet. "No, stay away from me."

Beverly had begun to follow him as he staggered around the bed several times, using it for support so he wouldn't fall over, before the Doctor finally stopped. "Will tell me what's wrong."

"What's wrong?" he asked, bordering on hysterical. "What's wrong is that I'm sick of people lying to me. You want me dead just like Deanna don't you? I'll bet you two have it all planned."

Crusher quickly looked around Sickbay hoping to find someone who would help her, but it was empty apart from a couple of sleeping patients. "Just calm down, nobody wants you dead. Please just lay back down, I don't want to call security." Her voice was soft but it had no effect on Will, she didn't need a tricorder to tell her he was upset and angry.

"Call security," he challenged her "maybe they can protect me from you."

"Will I would never hurt you, you know that. I've repaired your broken body more times than I care to remember." Realizing he wasn't interested in listening to her she pressed her Comm. Badge and asked for assistance from Security. "Do you want to talk to Deanna?" She asked. If anyone could calm him it would be the Counselor.

"No. I don't want to see Deanna. I think I understood pretty clearly that she doesn't love me and she'd rather I wasn't in her life."

Beverly's stared at him open-mouthed, not for a second believing Deanna would tell him that, especially not after their date. She watched him struggle with his thoughts, softly mumbling something unintelligible. "We both know that's not true and I don't know what would make you think that."

Will ran his hand through his hair, his eyes darting around the room. "She told me.just then."

The Security guards entered Sickbay and Beverly held up her hand to hold them back from Will. "When Will? Deanna's asleep in her quarters. It was just a dream, it wasn't real."

"No!" He yelled as the two security officers neared him. "This isn't real." He backed up into the corner of the room as they got closer.

"Wait!" Deanna stood in the doorway, Will's robe covering her small body. Lwaxana stood behind her daughter also dressed in her bedclothes and looking decidedly shaken.


Chapter 18

"Deanna," Beverly sighed with relief "he seems to have had a nightmare. Talk to him or I'll need to give him a sedative."

"How did you know to come here?" Will asked Deanna snidely.

Deanna approached him and watched as the security officer backed away from him as Beverly had asked. "Mother felt you in her mind, your emotions were so strong you woke her up."

A nervous laugh escaped Will before he turned serious again. "But you didn't feel me. You couldn't feel me could you because you severed our bond?"

"I didn't sever it, you died remember?" She had some sense of him, it was slightly better than what she could feel with everybody else but it still wasn't what they'd once had. His emotions were so close to the surface, so raw, that it was difficult for her not to pick up on them. His confusion mingled with her own left her feeling somewhat disorientated and she tried to calm herself hoping that he would somehow pick up on it.

"That's a lie, I'm dead now! What you told me last night was all fantasy wasn't it? So you could capture me in your little web of lies and deceit, then peer at and play with me like some moth in a bottle. Well I won't let you do it Deanna, I won't let you hurt me like this." He was almost on the verge of tears and Deanna reached out to touch his arm but pushed her hand away in anger.

Shocked, Deanna crossed her arms across her chest. "You're not dead Will, this is real. Everything I told you last night was real, each kiss, every touch. I would never lie to you. I don't understand, what did you dream about?"

"As if you don't know." He rested his forehead on the wall, his eyes drifting shut for a second. "Just leave me alone.need to forget."

"Forget what Will?"

"Forget the control you have over me, the way I always believe what you say, do what you ask. But now I know." He turned his head to look at her, still resting it on the wall. "That was the only way you'd ever be free of me. Wait until I'd been completely consumed by you then you'd cut me loose when you knew it would kill me."

Deanna lowered her arms and tried to approach him again. "Will I'm confused, please tell me about your dream." She pleaded.

He rounded on her in an instant, his larger body towering over hers. "You told me you wanted me dead. That you didn't love me and it was you who broke the bond." He looked deeply into her eyes, expecting them to cloud over any second. "You laughed at me when I needed help, said everything we'd shared was just part of your plan."

She didn't withdraw from him, didn't flinch and even though she could feel his anger she wasn't scared of him. "That wasn't me, you know I would never say those things to you and I wouldn't use our bond to alter your feelings for me."

"You're doing it now. I can't look at you without being distracted." For the first time since she entered the room his gestures towards her were affectionate. He took a lock of hair between his fingers, gently rubbing it between them, "your hair." Letting it slip from his grasp he cupped his hand around her cheek, "your skin, the way you feel, the way you look at me. I feel like I've loved you for an eternity but it still feels only days old, is it real?"

She leaned into his hand and grasped his free one within her own. "It's real. This is real, you need to trust what you feel now."

"I want to stay in this place forever, even if it isn't real." He closed his eyes and squeezed her hand. "What if this is my body's response to loosing the bond? How can I survive long enough for us to try and re establish it? I'll go crazy."

When Will opened his eyes again Lwaxana was the only other person in the room apart from him and Deanna. "You will feel like you are going crazy William. The only advice I can give you is to remember what you feel now, try to remember what it was like to have the Imzadi bond and always trust that Deanna loves you."

Will's eyebrows rose at Lwaxana's sudden bout of consideration. "I know you think I have been less than supportive of your relationship in the past," she continued "but I do understand what you are going through, and believe me I will do everything in my power to help you re-bond as soon as possible and keep you both sane in the meantime."

Deanna let go of Will's hand to wrap her arms around his middle but turned her head to look at her mother. "Thank you mother."

The elder Troi nodded her head. "If you excuse me I'll return to my beauty sleep." She turned and left the room, a comfortable silence falling over Will and Deanna.

Will could feel Deanna's hands running up and down his back, trying to sooth the tension and fear from him. His own hands settled on her hips, his cheek resting on the top of her head. "Why don't we try and re-establish the bond now?"

"You do know how we're going to have to do it don't you Will?" They'd never actually talked about how it was going to have to be done but Deanna just assumed he would know.

"Deanna I may've died but I think I can remember what to put where."

Deanna laughed, it was music to his ears. Not the same sick, evil laugh she'd had in his nightmare but a soft enchanting sound, one he could hear for the rest of his life and never tire of. "I didn't mean it like that. I meant that you're going to have to be well enough before we can even think about trying to make love."

Will groaned. "But I've been here for days I feel fine, and besides I only need two things to be working to get the job done."

"Two?" Deanna questioned, certain she knew what the first thing was. "What's the second?"

"My heart, gotta keep the blood pumping." It was a forced grin that spread over his face. They both knew he was not up to the task and their suspicions were confirmed when Will began to shake steadily.

"Come on," Deanna said gently ushering him to his bed "the only thing you'll be doing tonight is sleeping."

Once he was laying comfortable in bed Beverly came in to finally run her scans of him. "Looking a little better now Will," she said scanning him "but I'm going to give you a sedative so you'll sleep through the rest of the night."

"I don't want to sleep, can't you give me something to keep me awake?" He tried to sit up to prove he wasn't tired but didn't get far when his head fell back on to the pillow.

Beverly shook her head, in search of a hypo to give him. "I don't think so mister, your body needs rest and plenty of it."

"Deanna?" He begged.

"I'm sorry Will she's right. I'll stay here with you and keep the nightmares away alright?"

Reluctantly he nodded his agreement. He still wasn't entirely sure what was real but this Deanna was his Deanna, the way he'd always seen her and for now that was enough.


Chapter 19

Slowly Will Riker pushed through the fog that engulfed his senses, he swallowed causing his dry throat to wrench in protest. His sleep coated eyes cracked open in search of familiar surroundings and after the third attempt they revealed the all too recognizable atmosphere of the Enterprise's Sickbay. Will groaned, reality or not this didn't look good either way for him. He turned his head with the expectation of seeing Deanna sitting at his bedside looking back at him or sleeping, but to his disappointment she wasn't there. Lifting his head he searched the room for her but she was no where to be seen. Maybe he'd dreamed her saying she would stay with him and all the bad things she'd said to him were really true and that's why she wasn't here now. He threw the sheet off his still weary body and maneuvered his legs over the side of the bed. He had no idea what time it was but from the amount of people moving around Sickbay guessed it to be either night or early morning. "But it was morning when I went to sleep." He mumbled.

Still confused he slid awkwardly off the bed and walked over to a tray of medical supplies scrounging for something to keep him awake. With a theory that if he could find something that would keep him conscious his true reality would soon be revealed and he'd know then what to do.

Finding nothing of use he walked out into the main area of Sickbay and over to Beverly's medical replicator.

"William Thomas Riker you'd better have a good explanation as to why you're out of bed."

Will knew from the sound of the voice who it was before he even turned around, and when he eventually did he came face to face with one fiery redhead. "Beverly, I was just-"

"Just what Will," she interrupted "you know you'd be a really bad thief, always caught in the act."

He continued to look through all her medical supplies believing he could walk away with what he needed without her noticing.

"Something I can help you with?" Beverly asked, a little surprised he hadn't come up with a lame excuse or tried to make an escape.

Will's knee suddenly went from under him and he dropped to the floor, the vial he held in his hand smashing on impact. Beverly kneeled down beside him as he leaned against the wall his body heaving with a huge sigh. Blood dripped steadily from his hand and he held it out for her to clean up. He felt exhausted and emotionless, he couldn't take much more of this. "Where's Deanna?" he asked sullenly, fearing Beverly's answer would ultimately determine his future.

"She went to see her mother."

An orderly came over to clean up the mess and Will shifted his body so she could reach it all. "I thought she was going to stay with me." He knew he sounded like a child throwing a tantrum but at this point he was past caring.

"She did stay with you, for almost 48 hours, you've been asleep a long time Will. She needed to speak to Mrs. Troi about your bond, it's worrying her because you're not coping very well."

Will's eyes drifted down to his lap, ashamed and embarrassed at his behaviour. "I'm scared."

Beverly threw a quick glance at the orderly who left without a word being exchanged. "I know Will," she took his now healed hand and held it within her own "so is Deanna. She's not going to leave you Will, you're more important to her than anything, you know that don't you?"

Will nodded his head slightly. "What if that's not enough? I know she misses the bond. Maybe what she said in my dream was right, she'll be better off without me."

"Will," Beverly said sternly "how about we let Deanna make that decision."

He didn't answer her, his head feeling even hazier than when he'd awoken. He lifted his knee up and rested his elbow on it, his head falling into his hand and propping it up.

"Why don't we get you back into bed and I'll see about getting Deanna here. What were you looking for anyway?"

"Nothing," he lied as Beverly helped him stand "just something to help my head."


A short time later Deanna walked into Sickbay after being summoned by Beverly. Her talk with her mother had helped her feelings of anxiety regarding Will but after his latest incident in Sickbay she was still deeply worried. "How is he?" She asked the Doctor.

"Much the same I'm afraid, recovering, exhausted and lovesick. I think he'll be happy to see you, this place is wearing him down."

"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about." Deanna said moving them a bit closer to Will's room but keeping her voice down. "Is there any chance he can be released to my care so I can take him home to our quarters?"

"Deanna," Beverly sighed "I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"Why not? You said yourself this place is getting him down, I'm not on duty so I can look after him. He can sleep in his own bed and will be surrounded by all his things. It might speed up the healing process if he's in an environment that he's familiar and comfortable with."

Beverly looked in on Will, he lay on his side looking at them. Even though he was still sick there was very little she could do for him now. She could do routine check ups on him in his quarters but it would mean things were about to get extremely difficult for Deanna. "That may be true but are you going to be able to keep him in your quarters. This is Will Riker we're talking about here, the same one I'm only moments away from putting restraints on."

"Don't you worry about Will," Deanna said smiling at him as he watched her from his bed "I've had years of experience at keeping him in line. Does that mean you'll consider it?"

"Well that depends," she said moving into Will's room Deanna following her "What do you think Will, if I entrust you to the ship's Counselor think you can behave yourself?"

Will's eyes lit up for the first time since being brought back from the planet and he held out his hand to Deanna. "I can go home?" he asked her eagerly.

"On one condition," Beverly answered waiting until Will was looking at her before continuing "I want your word that there will be no more escape attempts, you'll do as Deanna tells you even if you don't like it and you rest, nothing else."

"That was one condition?" Will asked sarcastically and rolling his eyes.

"Those are the terms Will, take it or leave it." They all knew Will's word was as good as a contract and if he said he'd do something then he'd do it, even if somewhat reluctantly.

Deanna watched as he tossed over the options in his mind not entirely sure why he needed to think it over. "Will?"

Will startled out of his thoughts. "Oh I'm sorry I was just thinking what I should do first, sprawl out in my own pajamas in my own bed or have a shower instead of the sponge baths I'm used to where I'm exposed for all Sickbay to see."

Beverly smiled and shook her head. "So I'll take that as I yes."

"Your damn right it's a yes" he said turning to Deanna "take me home Imzadi."


Chapter 20

With a satisfied groan Will stretched out on his and Deanna's bed in their quarters. Dressed in boxers and a t-shirt after his first highly sought after shower he closed his eyes and wriggled his head around on the soft pillow that it lay on. "You have no idea how good this feels." He said on a sigh to Deanna.

Sitting beside him on the bed Deanna smiled. "I'm sure I can guess." Neither of them knew how long he was going to be bedridden for but for now they could at least spend time together and sleep better knowing the other was right next to them.

As if somehow picking up on her thoughts Will lifted his head to look at her. "Are you okay with this? I mean we've gone from having our first date to sleeping in the same bed every night."

"I knew there was an ulterior motive to you coming home." She said running her hand up and down his arm. "I'm fine Will, but just remember we're taking things slow until your better."

"I know, but the sooner I get my stamina back the better." He paused briefly before continuing. "What did your mother say?"

She could feel his nervousness at bringing up the topic but at the same time his defiance in not wanting to be scared about their future. "Well she's going to come and see you soon so we can have a talk and explain some things to you, but in all honesty Will she doesn't know anymore than I do what's going to happen."

"I thought you'd say that." Will grimaced.

Deanna stood up and pulled the bed covers down even though Will was laying on them. Her mother would arrive soon and she wanted Will to be comfortable so he could take in everything they were saying. The truth was she didn't know how he would take it, the past few days had been so emotional and stressful for him that she hoped this wouldn't push him over the edge. It was a decision they would need to make together so she prayed he wouldn't push her away.

Deanna felt her mother nearing before the door chime and she left her ministrations of Will and walked out into the living area. "I'll be back in a minute Will."

Will watched her leave the room, his apprehension about what was going on worsening the longer she was gone. A few anxious moments later the two Betazoids entered the room, Mrs. Troi looking particularly regal.

"Now William," she said standing at the end of his bed "I know you have questions and I will answer them when I'm finished but for now I want you to listen." Will nodded his head in acknowledgement and Lwaxana continued. "Yours and Deanna circumstance is very unique, the re-bonding of an Imzadi couple after death is quite rare as I'm sure you can understand. In truth it has only occurred two times in the history of our people before you and Deanna."

Will squirmed on the bed, he knew this was going to be bad news otherwise Deanna would've just explained it to him herself. The fact that Deanna's mother was here either meant Deanna didn't understand it or it was too painful for her to tell him. "Why are you telling me this?" He asked impatiently.

"Because my dear, the first couple survived and lived a very happy life together, the second couple however died not long after they tried to re-establish the Imzadi bond."

"What?" Will said astonished "died, how?"

"Well it appears that the initial contact of their minds was successful but for reasons unknown one of them tried to withdraw. What then took place is not known as the only people to experience it died, but it is believed the two minds began to rebel against each other causing an overload in brain activity. Eventually it became too much and the couple's brains shut down, killing them."

"That wouldn't happen to us though," Will reasoned "neither of us would try to pull away, would we Deanna?"

Before Deanna got the chance to answer Lwaxana interrupted. "How do you know that William? You don't know what you'll see, what you'll feel, nobody does."

"It wouldn't matter because I know I'll have Deanna when it's all over."

Lwaxana scoffed at his answer, making Will violently throw the covers off his body and sit up. "What's that supposed to mean, anyone would think you didn't want us to get the bond back."

"What I want Commander Riker is for my daughter to live. If you have to come to terms with certain insecurities and fears then that's a price I'm willing to pay. I will not let the two of you go into this with your eyes closed."

Will was a little surprised Deanna wasn't sticking up for him and the strength of their relationship so he turned to her, totally ignoring Lwaxana. "Are we back to this again?" he asked her. "I thought we'd agreed to go ahead and get the bond back."

"It's not that simple Will, I wanted you to know what the risks would be." She said softly.

"Then why didn't you tell me this? Why is she here?" He got to his feet pointing at Lwaxana.

"I am here William because while Deanna is standing up for your desires someone needs to make hers known. I know you are not well and you are in a great deal of pain both physically and emotionally but you are only half of Imzadi and you need to remember that."

Will sank to the bed, feeling as if they were ganging up on him. His head fell into his hands, he felt defeated, lost, and above anything selfish. "I'm sorry," he whispered "I've only ever wanted what was best for you Deanna and if you didn't want to risk getting the bond back you should've told me."

Deanna rushed to his side and wrapped her arm around his shoulder. "It's not that I don't want it, I just want you to understand what the costs may be. You need to think about this Will, we need to think about this."

Will lifted his head and nodded. "I understand, I guess there's not a lot we can do right now anyway.would you mind if I talked to your mother for a minute."

Deanna looked at him, he assumed she would be a little taken aback and concerned by his request and she didn't prove him wrong. "Will this isn't the time to be keeping secrets from me."

"It's not about the bond, please just trust me." He leaned over and kissed her forehead. He'd thought about telling Deanna what he wanted to speak to Lwaxana about but after the conversation the three of them had just had decided it would be better for Deanna if she didn't know.

"Okay." She took hold of his hand and he gave it a quick squeeze of support. "I'll go and pick up your medication and the list of things Beverly wants me to do."

She stood up and seconds later Will heard the door to their quarters open and then close. He gave Lwaxana no chance to interrogate him immediately launching into his demands. "I'll get straight to the point, I need your help. I know that among Betazoids this isn't usually accepted as appropriate behaviour but I want you to block out my dreams."

Lwaxana walked around to stand in front of him, her hands on her hips. A gesture he'd seen Deanna do more than once when she was angry or upset with him. "You know I can't do that William and frankly I'm insulted you would even ask me, no wonder you asked Deanna to leave."

Will's eyes narrowed at her, his teeth gritted. "I asked Deanna to leave because she's going through enough without having to share a burden she can do nothing about."

"You understand that the intrusion into ones dreams is the most severe invasion of privacy and is a punishable offence on Betazed?"

"Yes but that's when it's against someone's will, I'm asking you Lwaxana. If these dreams continue I don't know what I'm capable of."

"I will not break Betazoid law William!" She admonished. "I know you are very important to Deanna and she to you but I refuse to risk my place in society merely because of a nightmare."

"They're not just nightmares," Will grumbled "and you know that."

"Yes. yes I do." She acknowledged. Will could see her face change and he knew that she had felt and experienced his dreams since she had been on board, all of them involving Deanna. "I will help you, but I will only watch over you. I will not tamper with your dreams in any way, I won't shame myself or Deanna and I'm sure you wouldn't want that either."

Will nodded, he could feel his body begin to tire from everything that had happened over the past several hours and he fell back on to the bed as relief washed over him. "But you'll help?" More than anything he wanted to close his eyes and go to sleep but he also wanted to hear her confirmation before he would willingly give in.

"Yes." Lwaxana took a hold of his legs, lifted them and twisted his body around so he was laid out straight on the bed. She picked up the covers that he had thrown on the floor and placed them over his semi-conscious form. Her hand went to his forehead and she could feel the warmth radiating from underneath. "Sleep now, Deanna is on her way."

Will fought against sleep for as long as he could, the whooshing sound of the door opening let him know that Deanna was home. He heard her thank her mother then felt the cool press of a hypospray on his neck. He wanted to say something to her but couldn't form coherent words and in the end surrendered in to a dreamless sleep.


Chapter 21

After several days Will's health had improved to the extent that he was no longer sleeping all day and he was beginning to venture outside the confines of his quarters for regular trips to Sickbay, the Holodeck and Crew Lounge. Lwaxana had only needed to stay one night to watch over him. Upon awakening on the first morning after a restful sleep without nightmares he had declared that he knew which version of reality was the true one and the only person he wanted to spend his nights with and see his dreams was Deanna.

As he sat at his desk waiting for Deanna he read through the ship's reports trying to catch up on things he'd missed. Will had tried not to bring up the issue of their bond since their initial discussion, not wanting to pressure her. But he knew they were going to have to talk about it soon and if he had his way it would be tonight. Physically, he had recovered almost to his previous state and even Doctor Crusher had said he would be fit to return to duty tomorrow. Beverly had been amazed at the rate of his recovery since leaving Sickbay but knew just as much as anybody how the change of his carer had affected him.

Will gently threw the Padd he was reading down on his desk, Deanna would be home any minute and he needed to think about what he was going to say to her. The truth was even though he was scared he had faith in their relationship and believed that neither he nor Deanna would withdraw from joining once they had begun, especially when they knew it would cost their lives.

The sound of the door sliding open startled Will out of his thoughts and Deanna stopped in her tracks when she noticed Will sitting at his desk. A smile lit up her face and she walked over to him. "You look good Will." She said resting her hand on his chest.

Will looked her up and down and returned her grin, as equally enthusiastic. "Why thank you Counselor, you don't look to bad yourself."

"You know what I mean, you look well."

"I feel well." He got to his feet and Deanna stepped back so he wasn't standing over her. "Beverly cleared me for duty tomorrow."

"That's good." She stared straight into his chest, she wouldn't look up at him in fear of what she might find and what would happen.

Will reached down and lifted her chin, she had no choice but to look into his eyes and he knew without a doubt she was scared just as he was, if not more. "We need to talk Deanna. No more diversions or interruptions. You need to make a decision."

"It's not just my decision Will." She whispered.

"You know how I feel, my feelings haven't changed since the first time we talked about it. I want the bond back, no matter what the risks are, it's worth it."

Deanna backed away from him and sat down on the couch. He'd never seen her face so serious. "I think it's worth it too." She finally said. "But you understand there's no turning back afterwards. It's got to be all or nothing Will because as I understand it there would be no chance of a normal life if we rejoined and then went back to being friends."

"Do you think that we could have a normal life with things as they are now? I don't want us to be just friends" He countered as he sat beside her. "Granted it was how we became so close but this is the next step for us, it's how it's meant to be, how it should be. If I hadn't have been injured on Parthos II nothing would have changed, we'd have been comfortably settled in our new quarters."

She smiled and rested her hand on his knee, her fingers gently moving back and forth over the material that covered his leg. "I guess we should get mother down here then."

Will looked at her, she seemed almost forlorn. He thought this was meant to be a happy occasion, maybe a little apprehensive considering what was at stake but they were about to finally take the last step to regenerate the bond, and then the realization of what she'd said sunk in. "Get your mother down here? Please tell me that doesn't mean what I think it means."

"She has to be here Will, who else is going to help if we get in to trouble?"

"Trust me, we'll be getting into something but it won't be trouble." He covered her hands with his own and leaned in to press his lips to hers.

"Will." Deanna cautioned against his lips. "We can't take the chance. She should be here just in case."

"I think I'd rather die having sex with you than have your mother in the same room." He tried to push her back on the couch but Deanna stopped him with her hands.

"I never said anything about her being in the same room, Will that's sick."

"Oh," he stammered "well I just thought.when you said. oh never mind."

"She can just wait outside our quarters and read our surface emotions and if she senses anything bad then she'll come in."

"Well you better get her down here quick and tell her to bring a chair," he said as he leaned forward pushing her body back with his own, his face buried in the crook of her neck. "I hope she got a good night sleep last night 'cos she won't be getting any tonight."

Deanna groaned at the feel of his breath on her skin and his hands moved to her waist. "She doesn't need to stay all night, just the first time."

Will pulled his face back enough so he could look at her. "Even better."

Chapter 22

Will returned to his previous position and traced a path with his lips down her neck to her chest and the small area of bare skin that was exposed. "How about we find something a little softer than a jungle floor to do it on this time?" he said, referring to the first time they'd become Imzadi in the Jalara jungle. He took Deanna's soft grunt as a sign of approval and sat up, bringing her with him to sit on his lap.

"Mother is on her way." She whispered softly, her eyes staring back into his completely mesmerized.

He pushed a strand of hair away from her face, and then ran his hand over the contours of her cheek and chin. "You're sure?" He knew she'd say yes but this would be the turning point for them either way.

Deanna nodded her head and sought out his lips with her own, in effect sealing their promise to one another. Will picked her up, holding her within his strong embrace and walked into the bedroom. Their kiss continued, somewhat erratic as he placed her on the bed and took off his shirt. Deanna kneeled on the bed while Will stood in front of her, his hands moving to her rear to pull her closer to him. He found himself gasping for air as she assaulted his mouth with her own and her hands roamed over his back and chest. One by one he removed each piece of Deanna's clothing, each time kissing the newly uncovered skin. With his big hands rested on her hips Will maneuvered her back slightly so he could kneel on the bed with her. He felt her hands go to the band of his pants and slide over his backside as she pushed the interfering material down.

"We need to try and link our minds." Deanna's voice trembled as the length of Will's now naked body came into contact with hers.

"Lay down." Will moved his leg to rest between Deanna's in a motion to get her to lay back but when she let out a strangled sigh one of his hands went to the small of her back while the other held her head as he gently reclined her onto her back. Will laid down on top of her, his weight rested off to the side while his leg remained between hers.

"Clear your mind." Deanna whispered. She reached up and pulled his face down to hers and Will kissed her before she had chance to say anything more. He was relentless as the kiss became more passionate even though he knew Deanna wanted to speak.

Finally Will broke the contact of their lips and watched as Deanna panted beneath him. "Clear my mind," he repeated "you do realize how difficult that is right now."

She smiled and pressed her forehead to his. Her hands moved to hold the sides of his face and Will copied the movement then closed his eyes. The sounds of their breathing was the only noise in the room and as he felt the pounding of Deanna's heart beating against his own he tried to rid his mind of all thought just like she had taught him. It had taken him years upon years to perfect this, to be able to block out everything that ran through his mind, it was especially made difficult now by Deanna lying in his arms naked.

Will focused only on making contact with her mind and when he felt the first stirrings of a headache begin to burn in his temples he fought the urge to pull away from her. He refused to let a sore head be the cause of both their deaths, especially when he'd suffered far worse pain. Slowly the ache increased until Will was gritting his teeth in agony, his hands gripping on to Deanna's face with more force. He didn't want to hurt her, he didn't even know if he was but he couldn't let go. His ears started to ring and his head threatened to rupture open as his body began to shake. All thought was gone from his mind and he struggled to remember what he was doing. And then the pain subsided.

Will breathed heavily as he tried to focus on what he was feeling instead of the pain. He gasped as heard Deanna sigh, the sound echoing in his mind rather than in the silence of their quarters. When he finally opened his eyes he found Deanna straddling him and as his senses began to return to him he realized by the throbbing in his groin that their bodies were now joined just as their minds.

"Did I die and this is heaven?" Will asked holding Deanna's hips as she moved against him. He didn't know how he'd ended up on his back with her on top of him but what he did know was that they were alive and he could feel her everywhere. She stroked his mind with her own and Will found himself unable to move as surges of pleasure ran through his body and mind. It was more intense than anything he'd ever felt before, even with their bond before he'd gotten hurt. He could feel Deanna's emotions and it heightened not only his arousal but his enthusiasm to make her understand what he was feeling and give himself completely to her.

Leaning forward Deanna laid down on his chest, her mouth hovering above his ear. "I understand," she whispered wrapping her arms around his neck and increasing her body's movements.

A groan escaped Will and his hands held her firmly to him, the actions of his body counteracting Deanna's. Just as he felt himself about to let go he drew Deanna into a kiss, each of them ultimately surrendering to the other.


Chapter 23

The next morning Deanna awoke to find Will's arms encircling her. He was still asleep beside her and she could feel the exhaustion radiate off him as his hands rested on her stomach. Her back was comfortably nestled into his chest and she could hear the soft snores that came from his mouth which lay beside her ear. She smiled at the memory of the night they'd just shared. Once Will had accepted that they were still alive he had become a man possessed. He'd taken advantage of the increased strength of their new bond and left her trembling with the onslaught of passion that had followed.

Deanna turned in his arms to face him. She didn't need to be an empath to know how tired he was and it worried her that he would have to get up soon to go to his first shift after being sick. She traced her fingers over his temple, hoping he wouldn't wake with a headache to add to the exhaustion. She watched Will closely as his rhythmic snoring came to a stop and his eyes cracked open to reveal the slightest blue sliver.

"You're still here," Will stated pulling her even closer to him.

Deanna looked at him, puzzled by his words.

Will chuckled and Deanna felt the rumble in his chest vibrate in her own. "It's just that we went from our first date to sleeping and living together so I wasn't sure if it was a dream or not."

"Oh don't worry about that, you'll have plenty of opportunities to take me out on dates."

"I'm sure I will, but now that I think about it I kind of like the idea of following in your footsteps when it comes to know the one where you get me to take my clothes off."

Deanna's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open giving Will the only incentive he needed to kiss her. "" She mumbled between each press of his lips against hers.

"Right, and the objective of this particular experiment was to see me naked. I don't know, maybe we should forget the dates and just get married."

Deanna's breath caught in her throat and she watched him closely. "Really? Are you serious?"

"You tell me." Will grinned at her, she knew he wanted to feel the brush of her mind to see if he was just teasing.

"You want to get married?" Deanna said it to reaffirm what he'd said but Will took it as a question.

"Are you asking me?"

"No, you asked me?" She retaliated.

"Well I was here and I just heard you ask me to marry you."

Deanna knew he was baiting her and at the risk of this turning into a long discussion she gave into him. "I guess I did, what would you say to that?" She waited anxiously, she could tell she'd put him off by refusing to debate the issue of who'd asked who.

"I'd have to say yes." A second later he was kissing her and Deanna heard him whisper 'I love you' into her mind. This was definitely something she could get used to. She was happier than ever that they had taken the chance to be together instead of fighting to stay apart. She repeated his declaration into his mind and smiled as he moaned at the sensation it caused.

Deanna giggled as he rolled her over, his mouth leaving a fresh trail down between her breasts and over her stomach. "Will, stop!" She pushed against his shoulders in an attempt to halt his exploration. "We've got to get ready for our shifts, you don't want to be late on your first day back do you."

Will lifted his face to look at her. "No" he grumbled. "I suppose we can continue this tonight."

"I think I'll remember where we were." Deanna winked at him and pushed him off her. The last thing she saw before disappearing into the bathroom was Will struggling to get his exhausted body to its feet before he collapsed backwards with a tired sigh.


A short time later Will walked into the Observation Lounge with Deanna. The Captain, along with Beverly Crusher, Data and Geordi La Forge were already seated at the table. Much to Will's amazement a few moments after their arrival Lwaxana Troi entered.

"My work here is done Jean-Luc, as you all know my daughter and Commander Riker consummated their relationship last night so I must return to the pressing issues that await my arrival on Betazed."

"Mother!" Deanna gasped "my relationship with Will is between us, I would prefer it if we could at least keep some things private."

Lwaxana rolled her eyes and looked at each of the senior crew. "It's common knowledge by now my dear. How do you expect to keep a secret when half the crew was outside your quarters?"

"Half the crew!" Will yelled, forgetting where he was. As far as he knew Mrs. Troi was meant to be the only person out in the corridor.

"Well not half the crew," she amended "just Doctor Crusher and some of her medical staff along with several of the security officers."

"Security?" Will asked "what did you think was going to happen?"

"I didn't know William, and that was the problem, I wasn't going to take any chances. I won't apologize for that."

Deanna walked over to her mother, reaching out to take her hand. "There's no need to, we understand. Thank you."

"Then I will leave you all to your jobs. Take care little one," she said wrapping her arms around Deanna. "I leave you in capable hands." She said looking at Will and offering him a smile.

Will returned her smile, he would've liked to say goodbye to her in private to thank her for everything but he had a suspicion that she knew how grateful he was and that it was enough that he would take care of and love Deanna. He watched the door close behind her then pulled a chair out for Deanna and sat next to her.

"Well then," Picard started before he was interrupted by Will.

"Sir, if I may?"

"Of course Number One."

Will took Deanna's hand in his own and rested them on the table. "Captain before we get started on the briefing I'd like to announce Deanna's and my engagement."

Beverly was the first to her feet, kissing both her friends on the cheek and offering a hug. Picard and Geordi said their congratulations and after a handshake for Will and another kiss on the cheek for Deanna sat down.

Data was last, and when he picked something up from the floor and walked around to Will and placed it on the table, the Enterprise's First Officer was more than a little shocked. "Data, what's this?"

"It is the small room you described to me Sir, the one in your dreams."

It was an exact replica of the spinning room Will had been caught in, a rotating cube with the doorway and what looked like an endless room below. It was perfect.

"Data, I'm not sure if this is exactly what Commander Riker wants to see right now" Beverly tried to explain, "their engagement is meant to be a happy occasion."

"This is for their engagement Doctor." Data answered looking at each of them.

"How did you know they were getting engaged, and how is that meant to be a present?" Beverly got to her feet, ready to take the gift away until Will stopped her.

"Because I told him if there was one good thing to come out of what happened it was that Deanna and I had the chance to become closer to each other, and that made everything I went through worth it." He reached out his hand to Data and shook it with vigor, his other hand slapping Data on the back. "Thank you. But that doesn't explain how you knew we are getting married."

"I am afraid Mrs. Troi told me last night."

Will didn't know whether to laugh or sigh. "But it didn't happen until this morning. It would appear your mother was witness to more than I care to think about." He said smiling at Deanna.

"Well Will, after this meeting I'll need you in sickbay just for a brief check up, and while Deanna waits she can tell me all about it."

Will shuddered at the thought of Beverly not only dissecting his body but his bedroom prowess as well. Before he could utter a word, the captain cleared his throat and declared the morning meeting underway and offered Will his own congratulations. "Number One, it's good to have you back and braced for the future" he said with a warm glint to his eye.

As the meeting progressed Will and Deanna sat beside each other, neither joined by mere touch, but with souls entwined.

The End