By Louann
Rated: NC-17

Disclaimer....They belong to paramount i ust like to play with them
for a while!


She felt the life draining right from him, the fear replacing the
very breath in her body . Hearing the scream escape her lips she
pushed her way past the others making her way to him.
She had to get there this time. The corridors were endless, her
legs moving faster than she had thought possible but still seeming to
be moving helplessly slowly. Feeling his each ragged breath echoing
in her head she prayed to whatever force held the universe together
to save him , to save them, this time things had to be different .
with a final burst of energy she bolted into sickbay feeling the
terror rise as she saw the convulsions shaking him, she ran to him
body and mind reaching out, his mind screaming her name as she tried
to hold him calling to the helpless nurses who were trying their
hardest to save him, Beverly rushing around trying everything she
knew how to help him and the feeling of his body growing more
lifeless in her very arms .
the convolutions stopped and he took one last breath looking right at
her, he closed his eyes as words escaped from his mind the most
precious and painful words she had ever heard,
" Forever love, Imzadi, remember."
And with that he was gone. The sudden scilence in her mind
wrenched her heart out and smashed it right there in front of her.
Whispering his name she clutched at him, reckless sobs echoing from
her as the defeated medical staff filed out heads bowed, hearts
broken at losing their beloved first officer.
A final scream escaped her as she woke sweat and tears
intermingling her body shaking with terror, she reached out grabbing
her comm badge and calling his name her voice sounding almost
inhuman. Within moments he was there at the door she ran to him the
tears thick and fast running down her face as he held her wordlessly,
waiting for the tears to fade just as he always had.

When the shaking had diminished and she had regained some element of
composure he looked her in the eyes with her still clutching at his
hands as if afraid to let go in case he vanished from her sight. He
broke the scilence that had lingered since he had walked in,
" what happened this time ?"
she looked up at him and her eyes said more than any words possibly
could, she was terrified.
" I thought I'd lost you, Will it happened again. They took you from
me again." ,
He brought his hands to her face, whispering wanting to erase her
" Deanna, I'm OK, everything's all right, we're together, nothing
will ever take me away from you I promise."
She looked at him her eyes desperate, searching and he swore he'd
never seen her like this,
" I love you Will, I'm just so scared of losing you."
he held onto her and she clung to him desperately, worn out by her
emotions she slept in his arms, deeply and dreamlessly.

The morning came around and Deanna woke to find herself still
entangled in Will's arms both of them still fully clothed , him still
in his dress uniform from the night before, confusion set in and the
horrifying memories of the dream came back and she sighed. Untangling
herself she crept out of the bedroom to make herself some coffee and
to attempt to clear her head. The dreams had not been that
terrifying and clear before, and the only time she'd had any peace
since they had begun was when will was near and she was in his arms.
What worried her most was what would happen if he was gone from her
life, how much she'd lose if she lost him. They were close, they
had to be they'd loved together, fought side by side, shared the pain
and joy of each others life, they had been friends, comrades,
The memories they shared were far too intimate for them just to be
acquaintances, and she could never forget the fit, how it felt to
love him and have him love her, the intense pleasure and pain they
had shared so many years ago, was it too late for them ?
had too much time passed ?
Or were they just scared of their feelings for each other ?
She sensed him behind her before she heard him, the smile broke
before she could help herself,
" Its been a while since I woke up in strange quarters with a
beautiful woman."
she turned to him as her smile broke and the battle within her showed
on her face, his eyes filled with familiar concern and sudden
enlightenment as he figured what she was thinking about,
"All this has me thinking that perharps we should make some
decisions about just where we stand. "
She looked up at him urging him to continue, desperatly craving the
words she know he was about to say but terrified of the possibilities
that they could envoke. Terrified of learning to love him then losing
him all over again, she knew if she lost him again she would loose
herself. Not again, not this time. She would'nt go through that
again, could'nt. Not again.
He continued nervously staring at point on the wall then turning the
full scrutiny of his gaze onto her, " What I that...well,
all these dreams youre having have just made me think lately about
the choices we made. The reasons to halt our relationship just don't
seem so clear cut anymore. I need you Dee."
He looked at her searching her face for signs of agreement , of
understanding but what he found there surprised the hell out of him.
She was angry, damm angry.
"We never made any descisions Will. YOU made them all. I did'nt even
figure in the equation. Did I ?"
Her voice was rising steadily and she fought to control the tears
that burned in her eyes, she couldn't bear to look at him any
longer,couldn't bear the look of concern etched into his features. If
she looked at him for a moment longer she would give in to the urges
that were tearing at her soul and had been since the day their
relationship had come to its end many years before.
" You think you can just decide to stop and start our relationship
when its convienient for you, when there is'nt anything or anyone
more pressing to attend to. I don't need you anymore. You can't hurt
me anymore I won't let you!"
"what are you talking about Deanna ?"
"Well I'm sure theres any number of new young crewmembers for you to
work your way through before you have to resort to me. "
Riker could feel his anger rising steadily but not wanting to
escalate the situation further he bit his tounge and controlled his
waiting outburst. But Troi was far from finishing with him yet, she
whirled on him her anger flaring unbidden in her face.
"What is it with you Will? Do you really think all you have to do is
click your fingers and I'll just fall into place beside all the other
women in your life."
She spat the last part of the statement at him as if it were coated
with venom. The irony of her statement at any other time may have
been amusing but all it managed to achieve was to dredge up all the
years of bitterness, loneliness and anger that he had felt about the
break up of their relationship, firing up Rikers growing temper. His
eyes narrowed and he fired back at her, "At last count counsillor I
belive you weren't doing too badly yourself, In fact I do belive if
we removed all the notches on your bed post we'd probably have enough
left for a matchstick."
It was a low shot aimed to strike at her and as soon as the words had
left his mouth he regretted them. Deanna inhaled sharply rasing her
hands to her face in shock turning her back on him to shield the
tears streaming down her face from his sight. He reached out to her
touching her shoulder wincing as she pulled roughly away,
"Deanna. Im sorry."
She did'nt respond so he reached out again but stopped when faced
with the coldness in her voice.
" I think you'd better leave now."
"Deanna be reasonable"
"Don't you get it I don't want you, I don't love you anymore"
"Dee please."
"NOW. Will. Or would you like me to call security to remove you ?"
He paused briefly then turned and left. Deanna held on just long
enough to hear the hiss of door closing behind him then sank to the
floor letting the tears engulf her.

Beverly Crusher stood out side the entrance to Deanna Troi's
quarters, she had just been ploughed aside by an extremely frustrated
Will Riker, she didn't think he had even noticed that he'd nearly
thrown her through the bulkhead but had just continued down the
corridor sending terrified crewmen scattering out his way. She'd had
a feeling that Deanna may have the answer to why he was so worked up,
although that wasn't the reason why she had stopped by to visit
Troi, however her hunch had been confirmed when Deanna finally
opened the door to allow her access. The counselors usually perfect
appearance was in disarray, Her large dark eyes were puffy and
bloodshot and her lower lip was trembling, she moved aside
unquestioningly to allow Crusher entrance. Beverly took Deanna's
hand and led her over to the couch. Without removing her hand from
Deanna's she studied the Betazoids face.
"Dee are you going to tell me whets wrong or am I going to have to
hazard a guess ?"
The Doctor raised her eyebrows questioningly and waited for Deanna's
response. Deanna adverted her eyes looking down at the floor
"I don't really want to discuss it, Bev. Im just too..."
The Doctor cut her off in mid sentance,
"Come on Dee. Its me you're talking to. Just look at you, I don't
need your empathy to tell me somethings up and by the state I just
saw Will in just now I don't spose I'd be far from home in guessing
that this has something to do with the two of you."
The comment was loaded with enough significance that it managed to
lift Deanna `s attention from the carpet, Beverly smiled,
"What's he done this time ?"
"Nothing. It was all me.."
Beverly moved her hand from Deanna's to place it round the petite
Betazoids slender shoulders and found herself hugging thin air as
Deanna had already rose and was staring out of the viewport at the
steadily speeding stars. She sat for a moment feeling the
uncomfortable silence between them. This was how it had been
lately, Deanna distancing herself and everyone else watching not
knowing how to cross the barriers between them. Beverly was sure
that she was `nt the only one feeling the strain in their
relationship with Deanna lately, Will Riker was testimony to that.
"What is it Dee. You know you can trust me." She watched Deanna's
shoulders slump and waited for the inevitable flood of tears that she
knew would accompany it. Deanna turned and slowly looked back at the
couch where the Doctor was sitting silently now , watching, waiting
for her to offload. Still staring off into space Deanna began to
" Did I ever tell you about Will and I. About our past I mean ?"
Deanna turned back around to face back out at the stars she took
Bev's silence as a no.
"well its very complicated, Im not even sure if that's the right word
to describe it. Will and I share a special bond that's way beyond
simple friendship or even.....involvement." Beverly half smiled
despite herself as if, she and the rest of the crew didn't know that
"This `Bond' was supposed to ensure our future together but things
being the way they were, Will being who he was, who he still is and
of course me being who I am, it didn't work out quite the way I had
expected, or even the way I hoped."
The note of sadness in Deanna's voice did not escape Beverly and
didn't surprise her much. She'd seen the way they were together and
if in their past they had been even slightly more intense she
couldn't imagine how hard it must have been to let that go.
"The end of our `involvement' as it was back then nearly destroyed
me. When we found ourselves reunited here on the enterprise it would
have been so easy to try to rekindle what we had before but we both
had changed, our priorities had altered considerably and we found
ourselves agreeing to take our time and remain friends. It just
doesn't seem that simple anymore."
Beverly saw her cue and jumped on it. "What's changed?"
Deanna looked back at her, "on the surface of things, everything. but
deep down, in here," gesturing at her heart Deanna emphasized the
"In here its all the same."
"Then what's the problem?" The Doctor asked blatantly.
Deanna paused as if considering her answer carefully.
" Im scared. In fact Im not sure what scares me most, trying again
and getting hurt again or losing him completely. Anything could
happen to any one of us at any time and if I give in to these
feelings and I loose him, how will I live. I lost him once before I
won't go through that again, I can't, I just can't."
Beverly stared at her friend for a long moment " Have you two
discussed this. I mean really talked this through?"
Deanna shook her head " Its not like we haven't tried, or rather
Will tries and I just end up... well you saw him. Oh I was so mean
to him. It just seems that whenever we try to talk to each other we
both end up getting angry and say things we don't really mean"
"Do you still love him ?"
"Its all so complicated. I don't ......"
Beverly cut her off before she had a chance to avoid the question.
"Do you love him ?" The doctor repeated relentlessly
Deanna looked up at her and nodded slowly.
"yes. More than ever."
Beverly smiled slowly and rose, " Go to him Dee. Talk this
through. Tell him how you feel. Just be honest with him. It will
all fall right in the end. I promise."
She leaned over hugged her friend gently, " You know where I am Dee
if you need me."
Deanna nodded while the doctors words and her own sank in. She was
so lost in thought she didn't hear the hiss of the door as it shut
behind Crusher. She loved him. Always had. Always would. She had to
go to him, like Beverly said. Had to make him understand.
"Computer locate Commander Riker."
" Commander Riker is currently in Ten Forward"
Deanna set her jaw determinedly "Now or never." She whispered softly
to herself and walked out of the door


Will Riker sat in the darkest corner he could find in Ten forward.
He had to calm down. He'd found that being around other people or
rather subordinate officers usually pushed his emotions to the back
of his mind and focused his mind on the job at hand. Precisely what
the job was he couldn't quite figure as he couldn't clear his mind
for long enough to concentrate on anything but the things he and
Deanna had just said to each other.
`She's so dam self righteous. Who does she think she is anyway.' He
shook his head in frustration not wanting to feel the anger that
surged through him. What the hell had happened anyway, he'd sat up
all night comforting her, she'd slept in his arms then she'd just
gone crazy at him. He just didn't know what was going on in her head
anymore, that thought frightened him more than he cared to admit.
he'd always been the wildcard she the rock he tethered himself to in
times of crisis, but at the moment he felt a little out his depth in
her need for him to do the same for her. Of course she'd had her
share of problems but she always seemed to be able to go through them
with as little help from anyone else as possible but now , well now
he wasn't quite sure what was happening, one minute she was sobbing
hysterically into his shoulder and the next throwing insults at him.
He thought back to when he'd first started to notice her strange
moods. He'd find her watching him on the bridge out of the corner of
his eyes then when he'd turn to smile at her she'd look quickly away
that had just been the start of it. then there had been the temper
flares, he was sure he hadn't been the only one who had been on the
receiving end of them but they were there all the same. All the
reason he could come up with was these dreams she'd been having or
perhaps it was everything else contributing to the dreams. Shaking
his head in dismay as he picked up his drink he barely noticed as
Lou-ann davies gently touched his elbow,
"I won't ask if you mind if I join you, `cause by the look of you
you'd only say no anyway, and its rather unseemly for a lady to be
sitting alone in a bar especially on the Federation flagship."
Will gave her what passed as a pretty feble attempt at a smile in any
part of the galaxy.
"Come on Lou we both know that any man in here would be more than
happy to fill that gap on your table."
She smiled cocking her head so that she could get a better look at
him, stifling a giggle she nodded.
" Will Riker sittin all the way over here all lonesome, gotta be a
woman. That killer smile not workin quite the way it used ta eh
honey ?"
Riker studied his companion, Commander Lou- ann Davies had boarded
the Enterprise on her way to her new ship and her waiting promotion.
They had been quite an item once back in the good old days when his
ambition and confidence had both burned as hot as the passion that
had threatened to engulf them both. They had been very young and too
dam similar for it to have worked but they had remained close and had
even had a few `encounters' since they had decided to go their
separate ways. She was quickly climbing the ranks as he sat cooling
his heels here on the Enterprise. Their youthful bet on who would
reach the captains chair first was seeming to be heading in the
direction of the stunning blonde that had straddled the chair in
front of him, ( A habit they had picked up together at the academy.)
Her smooth southern charm and her first class diplomatic skills had
won her places on some of the best ships in the fleet and her
reputation for being a brilliant mind in any crew was spreading
throughout Starfleet, she was on the up that was for sure.
Changing the subject desperately trying to avoid Lou-ann's probes
into his troubles Riker moved onto a subject he hoped she'd much
rather discuss, her career,
"The Missionary sounds like a great ship. I read the bumpf on her.
you should be able to do some real damage with her Lou."
Lou-ann looked at him still smiling,
"So what's her name then ? Do I get to meet her? Come on sugar don't
be shy."
He should have known better, when Lou got her teeth into something
she was like a masterfizarian pitbull, dam stubborn. He groaned,
"Lou please I really don't want to..."
Lou-ann's face softened and she reached over to take his hand.
"Sorry honey you know how I am, can't help digging. I care that's
He nodded
"I know Lou. Its not that I don't want to tell you its just that I
don't really know what's going on myself and it just wouldn't be fair
She placed her other hand gently over his mouth to silence him,
"Really honey its okay. Listen I know what will make you feel
With a trace of his former humor he raised his eyebrows suggestively.
She laughed gently,
" I think you're in enough trouble as it is ! I meant a visit to the
gym. I gather you have one of them on this tin can of yours !"
She quickly rose and leaned over the table to plant a soft kiss on
his wrinkled brow and swiftly adverted his swatting hand, striding
off towards the door she threw back at him where he was still rising
from his seat.
"Too slow Riker. Must be the old age catchin' up with ya !"
He caught her up in two long strides and fell into pace beside her,
Slipping her slender arm tightly around his waist she squeezed him
and looked up at him batting her eyelashes furiously,
"Think you can keep up with little ol' me Commander ?"
Riker laughed his first real laugh for days,
" I'll see what I can manage."
He looked up at the doors they were a few feet away from and was
surprised to see Deanna standing before them, Her arms folded over
her chest, glaring at them, unadulterated fury burning in her eyes.
He winced, Lou-ann must have felt it because she quickly followed
his gaze then removed her arm defensively, Riker had quickly
realised how it must have looked to Deanna, They'd just had an god
almighty row then here he was leaving Ten forward with a stunningly
beautiful woman on his arm who he was sure Deanna was well aware of
his past with. Deanna took a breath then with a slightly hysterical
tone to her voice obviously on the edge of her control she spoke,
"What is it with you. As soon as you can't have me you're off to find
the nearest....."
Struggling with her words she finally spat it out.
"The nearest Floozy you can ! Thats it Riker we're through. No more
you hear me. No more !"
With that she turned and fled through the doors leaving Will Riker
and the rest of the room gaping after her like a stunned goldfish.
Only Lou-ann recovered quickly enough to comment,
"I gather she's the problem. God Will what have you done she was
madder at you than I ever was !"
Will fired a look at her,
"It's not funny Lou."
Lou-ann looked at him her face completly straight not a trace of a
"Well whatcha waiting for are'nt you gonna go after her ?"
Riker nodded and raced after the furious counsillor.
Lou ann smiled and shook her head,
"Brave man Riker. Stupid but brave."

Deannna didn't think as she headed towards Ten forward, To think was
to discover and reclaim the boundaries that they had set for
themselves. Knowing that if she actually considered what she was
doing she would only end up backing out and right now she just was'nt
willing to risk that. The doors to Ten forward appeared and taking a
deep breath she entered. What she saw there made her catch her
breath and she felt as if a hand was gripped around her heart slowly
squeezing the movement from her body.

Will Riker sat with his side facing her opposite a woman she
instantly recognised as Commander Lou-ann Davies Starfleets new up
and coming hot shot. She'd known that her and will had a past and
quite an involved one at that but now seeing the two of them together
threw her a little off balance. She watched desperatly wanting to
turn and run but her body was frozen to the spot as Lou-ann placed
her slender hand over Rikers, then as she rose kissed his forehead.
Deanna's mind was whirling now as she watched the two of them head
towards where she stood obviously focused entirely on each other,
flirting furiously. She felt her jealous rage growing past her
ability to contain as she watched the woman slide her arm possesivly
around Will's waist and how he made no effort to remove it but
returned the gesture by pulling her closer to him. Deanna's mind was
screaming at her now to move, to not let the pair of them see her
standing there staring at them like the proverbial rabbit in the
headlights. No force in the galaxy could have moved the furious
Betazoid from the spot as her emotions took over and the cold fury
invaded her remaining sanity.

He'd looked so offended by her earlier accusations and now here he
was fulfilling exactly what she hadn't even belived him capable of.
He had some nerve to just go on as if nothing had happened as if he
just didn't care, she faltered for a moment, perhaps that was it he
just didn't care but they chose that moment to look up at her and for
a split second she could hear their laughter ringing in her ears,
saw them touching and insanity reigned again.

She hadn't thought he would follow her but now she could hear him a
few long strides behind her calling her name begging her to stop.
Ignoring his pleas she picked up the pace and retreated into the
turbolift, she was surprised to find his hand tightly gripping her
arm as she thought he would have given up chasing after her a few
corners ago.
He held onto her arm just long enough so that they were safely inside
then whirled her around to face him. So close he could feel her
breath on his face as he glared at her, the anger flaring in his own
"What the hell is with you Deanna ? You were way out of line back
there. "
He stared at her waiting for a response when none came he shook his
head and just looked at her. The turbolift stopped the doors opened
and Troi stormed down the corridor to her quarters Riker stood for a
second watching her go then fuelled by anger followed her.
The door to her quarters locked before he got within two paces of it,
will placed his hand on the chime not really expecting a response and
when none came he gave the override code, entering the room.
Deanna stood staring out at the stars rushing past them she didn't
speak but will could see her quivering.
"Deanna this is ridiculous. I don't know what…."
He paused trying to calm himself trying to steady his voice
"I don't know what to say. What to do. I'm trying to understand
whats going on here but im finding it really difficult."
She still stood arms folded across her chest watching out of the
"Deanna, louann and I…well what im trying to say is that we."
"I won't let her take you away."
He stared at the back o her head in shock not entirely sure he'd
heard correctly.
"what did you say?"
Suddenly she whirled and advanced on him backing him up against the
"She can't have you"
She looked at him her eyes desperate, searching and he swore he'd
never seen her like this, Her hands clutched at his shirt pulling him
closer still tilting her face to his she kissed him desperatly
clinging to him like she was drowning.
His mind was whirling. He'd wanted to kiss her for so long but this
wasn't how he wanted it to happen. This wasn't right, she wasn't
….right, wasn't her.
Pulling away will drew a ragged breath.
"Deanna..I really don't think…..we need to talk before.."
She silenced him with another searing kiss.
"love me Will."I need you."
Never being able to refuse her he battled with his traitorous body.
He lost all remnants of control as Deanna backed them both against
the wall still torturing him with her mouth.
Her hands raked up his body leaving trails of fire in their wake.
He fisted his hands in her hair and pressed himself against her
meeting her arching back as she rubbed against the evidence of his
Her fingers fumbled with his shirt finally ridding him of the
offending garment.
Following the shirts path down his body with kisses she knelt before
him allowing herself to gaze up at his beautiful face. His eyes
scorching into her soul watching intently as she unclasped his pants
and took his hardness into her tiny grip.
"Oh God…..Imzadi"
Still watching his face contorting in pleasure Deanna lowered her
face and trailed her tongue along his length
"Dea……..please….don't" came his warning.
Devilment glinted in her eyes as she slid her tightly pursed mouth
around him. The caveman groan he emitted shook her senses and she
gasped as he reached down and hauled her to her feet.
"Oh no you don't… your turn."
He reached a hand into the neckline of the satin shift she wore and
growled into her ear,
"I hope this isn't the only one you have."
Her breath caught in her throat as he ripped the satin from her body.
Sliding a hand down her thigh he lifted her searing her mouth with a
scolding kiss
Deanna gasped as she felt the edge of the table hit the back of her
knees "Oh gods Imzadi….please."
She could sense his intent and as he gazed down at her pure fire
blazing in his eyes tremors shook their way from her toes.
Riker fell to his knees raising her slender legs above his shoulders
and lowering his face to her delicate center Deanna threw her head
back and arched her spine to draw him closer
Teasing her with his tongue he stroked a hand up her restless body to
cup her breast in his hand, pinching the already hardened nipple.
Deanna cried out in sheer ecstasy The taste of her and the way she
bucked against his tongue as he plunged it into her was driving him
crazy as he fought to ignore the screaming in his head.
Deanna reached down and threaded her hands in his hair tugging him
none too gently up against her. Their mouths joined aggressively and
the screaming voice in wills head finally won out, this wasn't her,
he couldn't feel her, couldn't sense the essence of her that had
called to him every single time he had ever touched her.
Tearing his mouth away he looked down at her spread beneath him
flushed and beautiful begging him to take her and raked a hand though
his hair.
"Will please…"
He groaned and drew a ragged breath and tilted her face so that he
was looking deep into her eyes, it was all the confirmation that he
needed. This was very wrong. He couldn't do this. Whatever was going
on was driving her to crave security and sex really wasn't going to
help right now, still the way she was pressed against him hot and wet
was nearly enough to destroy his determination. Shaking his head he
watched as her face turned from being flushed with arousal to anger.
"Deanna honey this isn't going…"
She reached for him in desperation as he drew back from her.
He placed a finger on her lips
"Look theres nothing I want more, believe me but you need to think
this through."
She pushed back against him
"I don't want to think. I want you to fuck me"
Will drew a deep breath that was it right there staring right at him
in her eyes, she knew it and there was no way he was going to betray
her trust and their friendship by giving in. There was something
going on here that had driven her to this.
"Dea, we need to just take a breath a minute."
He reached for his pants and pulled them back on as deanna jumped up
from the table shoulders shaking in pure fury as will tossed her a
gown that lay across her sofa.
"How dare you!"
He watched her pull the robe over her over her beautiful body and
inwardly cursed himself.
"Deanna. It wouldn't be right for us to make love when you're…well
when you're.."
He paused searching for the right words but the look on her face
stopped him in his tracks.
"You sanctimonious bastard. You think that was love? You've got some
designs on yourself."
"Deanna." He warned
"There's nothing wrong with me. Ever think you might be the one with
the problem?"
Her voice shook with cold unadulterated fury. Riker took a step
towards her then stopped as she raised a hand.
"Take one more step Riker and I swear I won't be responsible. Just
get out."
Troi finally looked up at him her eyes filled with a icy coldness
Riker had not expected to find there and he felt his angry
determination slipping away under her scrutiny. When she finally
spoke it was in a barely audible whisper,
" I don't want to talk to you, I don't want to even have to look at
you right now. I can't believe that you did this, well no actually
I can. You make me sick Riker."
When he started to protest she raised her hand to stop him.
" Forget it. Im sure i've heard it a thousand times before and I
just won't listen to it again, do you hear me ? Never again."
He felt the doors shut on his stunned expression as she practically
chased him from the room. He stood in the corridor staring at her
closed quarters. Icy fear closing round his heart. What had he done.

Several hours later the senior staff were assembled into the
conference lounge to discuss their new orders. Will found himself
looking up at the questioning eyes of Beverly crusher when Deanna
entered and instead of occupying her usual spot on Rikers left sat at
the far end of the table noticibly away from everyone. He looked
down at the dark reflective surface seeing the evident pain
reflecting in Deanna's eyes as she focused on the darkness.
Captain Picard entered followed closely by Commander Davies and the
quiet conversation ceased all attention falling onto the serious and
stern faced commander.
" I have just finished a very interesting conversation with
admiral Redrick of starfleet commmand. It seems that a situation has
arisen on one of the command station on Amaralis four. As you may or
may not be aware the Tarilizan sectors presently have agreed a
somewhat unstable cease-fire, this supposed peace has come under a
spot of bother in that some of the sectors members are not too keen
with the Federations interaction. There have been threats made to
sulvillians on the station and starfleet has been asked to intervene
and of course to investigate. Commander Davies here has volenteered
her services for the misson as she has considerable experience with
these kind of people. She was part of the first team to be assigned
to Amaralis. Id like to hand over to her now to discuss her ideas on
the situation. Commander..."
Lou ann rose from her chair gesturing to large map on the view screen.
"The problems on Amaralis four have been developing for centuries.
For the past thirty or so years since the disapearence of the regal
family known as the Karjjin morial there has been no official
governing body and this had led to the development of various
factions who all argue that they each have a claim to the throne.
However no one fraction has been able to substantiate their claims
and so civil war erupted throughout the cities. In the past few
years with some help from starfleet they had been able to create a
somewhat shaky ceasefire but now this appears to have fallen apart. A
large council was created by joing members from each faction with a
few starfleet and local representitives and certain members of the
council have disapeared including two of our own people. From what
we know which is very little at the moment, one of the largest
factions known as the kaloy avid reacted violently to some of the
suggetions voiced at the last council session they withdrew their
membership and made direct threats to the other section present.
Their leader Hamarashi valadi is the second cousin of the vanished
Crown prince and has known ties to some of the most dangerous
terrorists in this sector. He's a dangerous, egotistical power crazy
man. He'll do anything for control of the planet. Nothings below him
absolutly nothing."
Geordi la Forge piped up from his seat in the far corner,
" If all of these problems have been going on for years why didn't we
just get our people the hell out of there before ?"
Lou ann sat back down into her chair and steepled her fingers as if
centering herself.
"It is'nt always that simple. Amaralis was one of the first
Federation alliances, it was once a great power in this sector and
lets just say the federation feels slightly responsible for it.
Besides we were requested to intervene, a lot of people, a lot of our
people call this place home and they tired of the fighting. Thousands
of innocent people were dying. We couldn't just stand back and watch
it happen."
Will watched Lou ann seeing the emotion playing in her eyes, he knew
how good she was at her job, she'd single handledly negotiated the
release of hundreds of hostages from an outlaw terrorist band on
Nimalas two. She was the best, the best Starfleet had and he
couldn't help but think that was the real reason she was here. He
knew that watching the peace treaty that she had helped to create
falling apart must be pretty hard on her, like a personal failure and
he understood only too well how she was feeling. He also knew that
this feeling plus her incredible inner strength and stubborn
determination would only be an asset in helping to resolve the
Picard nodded.
"Obviously our main priority is the rescue of the hostages but we
have been asked, with Commander Davies help, to attemp to rekindle
some kind of peaceful situation down there
When we arrive at Amaralis four I intend to send an away team down
there and hopefully we'll get some of this mess sorted out. We should
arrive in about three days. Any questions ?"
Various officers raised certain questions about the intricate
mechanics of the mission and even though this type of event was
usually exactly what Riker liked to get his teeth into with the added
bonus of getting to work with one his best friends and one of the
best officers he had ever served with he still couldn't seem to
concentrate on anything but Deanna's reflection in the table. She
looked so lost, alone and scared it almost broke his heart. He was
staring so intently at her that he didn't notice that picard had
dismissed them until Deanna practically ran from the room escaping
his scrutiny.

Picard looked at Riker questioningly for a long moment as if
analysing him.
"Number one . would you like to discuss something ?" His tone
indicated to Will that it was'nt exactly meant as a question.
Picard ruthlessly continued,
" I consider you to be among some of the most proffesional officers
I know, but today you appeared to be uncharacteristcally distracted
and if I'm right which I believe I am, you appear to be involved in
counsillor Troi's apparent distraction as well !"
Riker attempted to avoided the humor in the irony of the captains
" You could say involved, Sir."
Picard said nothing as he sat back into his chair looking straight at
the young officer sat by his side. Riker interlaced his fingers took
a deep breath and continued,
" I'm not sure where to begin or even if I can break Deanna's
Picard glanced up at him, The one that he trusted most on this entire
ship, his judgement Picard would and had entrusted his life and the
lives of all others aboard this vessel of theirs, but the variable
of Deanna Troi and their obvious attachment to each other shed an
element of doubt upon this trust.
His glance was enough to pursuede Riker to continue.
" You are aware that Deanna and I share a some what complicated
past ?"
He looked to Picard for conformation, Picard just nodded. Even if he
were deaf, dumb and blind he still could have sensed it a mile off.
Riker continued,
" Well, this past of ours keeps popping up and, well for want of a
better word ,sir confusing matters"
Picard nodded again prompting the younger officer to continue,
"Just as we seem to be able to put this past of ours into some kind
of perspective something happens to knock it right back out again.
Deanna and I are just having some problems defining where we stand,
Theoretically it should be easy."
Smiling the captain agreed
" Theoretically life should be easy Number one, but it seldom is.
So what is the Counsillors problem exactly, without being to personal
if you can help it."
Riker rose and strode over to the window as if looking for
inspiration in the stars, without looking back at Picard he answered.
" Its seems Deanna is having some bad dreams, or for a better word
nightmares. She can't shake them and she seems really frightened.
Ive never seen her this scared, this affected by anything"
" Has she told you what the dreams entail?"
" Not exactly. But I get the impression that........."
Riker paused as if unsure how to continue, Picard prodded
gently "Number one,"
" I die, sir!"
"Pardon me" Picard stated with faint amusment.
"I die. I mean in other circumstance Deanna dreaming about my demise
might have humorous conatations, but to see her so affected, so
scared by it all puts the wind up me a bit."
Moving slightly in his chair Picard noted the concern etched into
Rikers face. He had never claimed to understand their involvment
with each other but even after all these years serving together the
depth of it still surprised him. They were so entuned with each
other but to his knowledge had never rekindled their relationship,
young, niave fools he thought to himself.
"Will. You don't think she's having some kind of premenition do you ?"
It was more of a statement than a question but Will Riker seemed to
juggle with it for far longer than the Captain had expected.
" I don't think so. God I hope not !" And with that there was at
least a hint of a smile,
" But who knows, she could be picking up on something. I don't know
what she's capable of, I don't think any of us do."
Picard sighed. Rikers words rang true, if their was one thing he
trusted it would be Troi's judgement and professionalism, but her
Betazoid talents were an unexact science to say the least. There was
no instruction booklet and no guidelines as to how best approach
these talents and exactly what they entailled.

"But thats not just it. Its like her whole personality has changed,
shes moody and depressed has rapid mood swings and shes been very
quick with her temper lately, which is more unlike her than anything
else, but its like theres something else. Something that she doesn't
want to tell me I just don't know what to do with her at the moment.
I've tried everything. Its like she doesn't even hear me any more.
Its like she can't feel anyone else besides herself . just like when
she lost her empathy before only this time its much worse."
The Captain stared at his first officer mirroring the concern he saw
etched into the younger mans features,
"Has she spoken to Beverly?"
Riker shook his head.
"Not that I know of. I thought about asking her to check her over
but Deanna won't hear of it."
"Perhaps I should have a word with her, number one. It might be
easier coming from someone who's not so.... involved."
Riker nodded slowly,
"I don't know if it will do any good Sir. But I suppose it's worth a
try. I know she wants to talk about what ever it is thats bugging
her, its just a case of getting her to lower those dam defences of
hers. whatever it is thats wrong its taking its toll and I'm not
sure how much longer she can carry on like this."
The Captain nodded,
"And if it does carry on her work is surely to be affected and we
can't have that number one, especially at the moment. I need the
counsillors expertise right now more than ever."
Riker nodded again stroking his beard thoughtfully.
"I know Captain, Im all too aware of that, but Im sure that Deanna
would never purposefully let anything interfere with her duties.
We're both proffesionals and we have a job to do that comes first. I
can assure you of that."
" I quite believe you Commander. But you both need some rest and
fast. I need you both on that away team functioning at full
potential. Understood."
"Yes Sir. Perfectly."
He turned to the door to exit,
"And Will, Ill Have a word with Deanna."
"Thank you sir."
Picard turned to the computer padd on the desk signalling to Riker
that the conversation was over.

Riker headed down the corridor torwards his quarters he considered
going next door to Deanna's but something held him back.

She needed time to think, to straighten out her head.
He was sure once she'd had some time to think things through she'd
see the truth.
` Thats it Riker you keep telling yourself that perhaps it might come
a little voice whispered into his mind. Entering his quarters he sat
down and looked around, sparsley decorated the room gave off no real
sense of the man that lived here.
"Being a starfleet officer means travelling light"
his father had once told him but now looking around he didn't see
the life he had once coveted as glamorous and fulfilling, all he saw
was empty space and lots of it at that.

What was he waiting for ? Was he going to live the rest of his
exsistance surrounded by space in an empty room ? He didn't know the
answers and that scared him.
he'd never really had to consider his future without thinking in
terms of his career but now as he realised he needed more, wanted
more he was beginning to see just how much he had sacrificed who he
had sacrificed, Deanna… her name was branded across his soul.

He had wanted her so badly earlier but what had shocked him most was
not the physical need, but the desperate need to feel that connection
that was so uniquely theirs, the aching to hear her in his very soul.
That was the need that kept him awake at night the ache that had
burned in his heart since he had left her that fateful day all those
years ago He was jolted from his thoughts by the door chime,

He looked up at the door to see Lou ann standing in the door frame,

"Is it safe to come in ?"
He nodded patting the couch next to him. She stepped forward
dropping into the soft cushions and leaning back into its arm so that
she could afford a better look at him.

"I take it by the look on your face and the fact you're alone that
all still is'nt well in paradise."
Will leaned back into the couch shutting his eyes and letting out a
soft groan,

"Well put it this way, I don't think it could possibly be much worse.
I just don't know what to do, what to say anymore."

"Don't tell me someone finally got to you Will Riker."

"Im just tired of trying to make it right by her all the time.
Whatever I do its wrong."

Lou ann studied him "Do you love her ?"

Will looked at her, " It is'nt that simple.."
"Do you love her Will ?"

"More than anything. It just seems that I'm the only one trying to
make this work, and I'm tired Lou, really tired."

"Maybe she's just scared of the commitment,"
Will smiled at that

" Deanna scared of commitment ? No its impossible. She's just.....
I don't know. But you saw her back there one minute she's fine the
next she's like a crazy woman. I can't take it anymore. Either
she's in my life or she's out of it. Its just not worth the pain

There was a set determination to the statement but Will's eyes
betrayed the pain residing within him. Lou ann reached over and took
his hand,

"Will, honey. If you love her then its always worth the fight. Give
her a chance to calm down then talk to her,"

Will cut her off with a wave of his hand,
"You know what Lou I'm sick of giving her chances, waiting for her to
decide when the time is right. I `ve wasted years of my life waiting
on her, you know the only reason I stayed on this dammed ship was to
be with her and what have I got in return, I'll tell you what,
nothing but hassle. She doesn't love me anymore. Its time I got on
with my life, with my career instead of waiting for something which
will never happen. Im trying to understand her, to help her. She
won't talk to me. I can't keep banging my head against a brick wall.
Im not a green lieutenant anymore. I have different piorities, ones
I thought she'd understand, she'd want to share. Maybe I was wrong,
maybe she's right. We..I need to move on. To let the past go."

He looked up at Lou ann expecting to hear her encouragement but
instead all he could see was a frown,

"Perhaps it is time for you to move on Sugar, Just be sure of one
Will looked at her Questioningly

"If you walk out on her another time, there won't be no takin'
back . Are you sure that's what you want ? Cause believe me regrets
about not taking a ship are a lot easier to deal with Honey than a
broken heart. Don't try and convince yourself, if it feels right
don't let it walk on outa your life Hon. Fight for it like youv'e
never fought in your life."

He found he was surprised by the emotion in her voice and when he
lifted his eyes to her face he saw tears welling in her eyes. She
rose and walked to the door.

" Talk to her Sugar she might just surprise you. And Will get some
sleep you look like hell."

He tossed her a smile
"Lookin' pretty good yourself Commander !"
Blowing him a kiss she walked out through his door,

"Thats my boy."

Riker lay staring at the celing desperatly trying to sort through the
thoughts clouding his head.
How did it ever get this complicated ? Where did they go wrong ?
He remembered back to the first time he had seen her, standing
before him at the chapel, he remembered the sudden tightness in his
chest as his soul cried out to this woman who already held his heart
in her hands.
He loved her more than he'd ever loved anyone in his life, he just
didn't know how many times he could take her shooting him down when
he tried to make up for the mistakes he'd made in the past.
How much more she would make him or even if he wanted to stick
around to find out.
He tried to focus on each of his options one by one, trying to
analyse something he now understood could never be put into words.
He could either stay and live each day like this being a few feet
away from her but being worlds apart, watching her fall into the arms
of yet another man, or he could leave forge a new life aboard a new
ship and run the risk of losing her completely.

He was'nt sure what was worse having her in his life like this each
day of bitterness slowly grinding away at the bond that they once
shared or her being gone from his world leaving just the memories in
her place.
It was a choice he knew he had to make and soon but right now all he
could see was her angry eyes and the sound of her voice telling him
she didn't love him anymore, he'd told himself she was just trying to
push him away but her voice had been so convincing he just couldn't
wipe it from his mind he kept hearing it lancing through his dreams
each time breaking his heart a little deeper, pushing him a little
further towards the decision he didn't want to make.

Although only a wall seperated them Deanna Troi may as well have been
on the other side of the galaxy. She sat against the headboard of
her bed remembering how only the night before she had lain here in
Will's arms.
She tried not to remember the slow steady sound of his heartbeat and
the way his arms felt around her waist as he slept and the way it had
felt to have him touch her in desperate need gods she had wanted him
to love her so badly.
The way she'd wanted him right then had frightened her with its
He had been so right to walk away she didn't want to acknowledge how
awfully she'd behaved and the way his eyes had reached out to her
very soul.
She'd wanted nothing more than to reach back give him the connection
she craved but the fear and confusion in her mind had blocked her
feel anything but the humiliation and anger of his rejection.
Seeing him again in the meeting just a few hours later had been
torture. She had felt his eyes on her, his concern and guilt sneaking
through her senses.
The harder she tried to block the thoughts of him from her mind the
harder they seemed to come to the surface.
She just didn't know what was going on here. One minute she felt
fine, the next everything seemed to go crazy. She tried to remember
the last time she had ever felt this alone and tired, so tired.
Whenever she shut her eyes the dreams would come again, at first
she'd dismissed them for what she'd just assumed they were plain and
simple nightmares but then they'd become more frequent and more
frightening now she dreaded each night and the thought of closing her
eyes filled her with fear. Knowing that if she could just get some
sleep, just one nights peace the confusion in her mind would clear
and she could clear the mess she'd made of her life. With each new
nightmare came the sickeningly familiar scenario.
Everything seemed fine, her on the bridge with the captain, will on
the planet below them. Then came the away teams transmission and she
could see his face, hear his voice then everything went dead and she
felt the phaser blast rip through him as if were her own chest being
torn in two. It seemed so real so frightening and she couldn't stop
it playing through her mind even when she was awake.

The door chime dragged her out of her thought back to sudden
reality. Rising she went to the door and stood in amazed scilence
when she saw who stood before her. She couldn't remember the last
time he had been here just to vist, something had to be wrong. But
surely he couldn't know what was going on , unless someone had told
him. Were they all talking about her behind her back ?
She drifted into her paranoia and had visons of them all sitting up
there on the bridge whispering about her, laughing. her panic was
broken by the captain gently clutching at her arm,
"Deanna are you all right ?"
She looked up at him vaugely registering that he had spoken,
"Sorry ?"
He guided her over to the nearest chair and watched concerned as she
sat down stiffly wringing her hands in her lap.
"Is there anything wrong Deanna ?"
She looked up at him and the sudden fear that filled her eyes didn't
escape him. She sat for a moment as if debating whether to talk or
not then she looked back at her hands.
"There's nothing wrong, Captain . I'm just really tired. Thats all,
Picard watched as she carefully adverted her eyes from his unbreaking
gaze. If there was one person on this ship who could not lie to him
it was the one before him, trying desperatly to delude herself as
well as him.

" Deanna I really don't want to pry into your personal life..."
She looked back up at him her face filled with anger,

"Don't then. Its really none of anyone's business !"
The captain fought down the anger he felt rising at her tone. Will
was right whatever was going on here was having a serious effect on
the counsillors behaviour and especially her temper. He sat and
watched as she continued her onslaught.

"Theres nothing wrong with me. If you all left me alone I'd be just
fine. You're the one's with the problem, not me. Do you hear me its
not me !!"
Picard reached out his hand to place it calmingly on the Betazoids
arm instead she whirled on him pulling her arm out of his reach.

"Who sent you here ? Will ? It was him wasn't it ? Well you can
just go right back to him and tell him I'm just fine. What's wrong
with you all ? Haven't you got anything better to do than mess with
my life ? Are yours really that empty ?"

Picards anger flared before he could help it.
"You'd better watch your tone Counsellor before I have you relived
and get Beverly to come down here and sedate you !"
He watched taking a deep breath as he saw some of the angry fire flee
from Deanna's eyes instead leaving a pleading fear in its place.
"Deanna were worried about you thats all. This isn't.......well it
isn't like you. Will didn't come to me but he's worried too. We
just want to help, Will especially."
She looked up at him tears filling her lovely dark eyes,
"Theres nothing he can do. Nothing anyone can do."
He felt the concern rising in his chest as he watched her struggle to
regain composure.
"Im really sorry Captain I've not been feeling very well lately and I
quess I'm just more tired than I realised. I didn't mean to take it
out on you. If you don't mind I'd like to try and get some rest now."
He studied her for a moment watching how quickly the mask of control
slid back into place as she gave him a weak watery smile. He debated
whether or not to try again to talk to her now that she had calmed
down but he realized that she obviously didn't want to talk, at least
not to him anyway. He would have a word with Beverly and see if she
had any insights.
He rose from the couch and headed for the doorway but then paused for
a moment before turning back to Deanna,
"You know where I am if you do need to talk Deanna."
"Yes Sir I do." Came her weak reply
"Get some rest Deanna. Thats an order."
She looked up at him the exhaustion so clear on her face. At that
moment she looked just like a scared child. Lost and alone. The sight
of it tugged at picards heart strings, this woman had carried him
and his crew through so much heartbreak and confusion that seeing her
like this was frightening for even a man of his experience. She had
been his shoulder to cry on after his terrifying experience with the
Borg and after he lost his Brother and nephew in the fire at his
family home. She had been his silent strength all the way through and
now he just didn't have the ways to do the same for her, still she
would come to him if she needed him he only hoped deep down that it
wasn't serious enough for that.
He left her quarters leaving her alone with the silence and the
emptiness that lately had defined her existence. Leaving her alone to
face the nightmares she knew were just beyond the surface of sleep.

The captain debated whether he should pay a visit to the good doctor
now before she turned in for bed or to leave it till the morning
normally he would have opted for the latter but the vison of the
distress in Deanna's eyes pushed him to act more swiftly than he
usually would have liked.
Beverly Crusher was in her office and as it was the norm in her line
of work Picard was not particularly surprised at her location, she
however was surprised to see him. He rarely ventured into sickbay
and when he did it wasn't usually about the state of his own health.
"Jean-Luc what can I do for you ?"
Her smile was warm and inviting and Picard for a moment found himself
forgetting his reason for the vist and being drawn into her beauty.
"Nothing for me Beverly,"
She broke him off with a gentle laugh that seemed to resonate around
the silent deserted sickbay.
"Now why dosen't that surprise me ?"
She rose, went the replicator at the side of her desk ordering two
Earl grey teas, ( Something he had introduced her to and now she
found herself ordering it without even thinking anymore. Another
little way he had managed to integrate himself into her life , she
thought to herself with a smile.)
He accepted the offered cupwith a silent nod and she noted that the
humour hadn't managed to raise even a ghost of a smile. This send a
dull ripple of fear through her spine, even though he could be
stotic sometimes she thought they had passed through the barriers he
had produced between them and moved on to a more comfortable
relationship. Something was bothering him she could see it in the
tense line of his shoulders and the creases in his brow.
"Jean-Luc what is it."
He looked up at her hearing the concern in her voice.
"It's Deanna, Im worried about her recent behaviour. I spoke to
Will earlier and I just stopped by on her to see if his concern was
warranted and she....Well she wasn't her usual charming self , lets
just put it at that. Will said she's been very mood and quick
tempered and frankly after how I just saw her I think he was trying
to protect her dignity by a fraction."
The concern had moved to her eyes now and Jean-luc continued.
"I just wondered if she had spoken to you."
Beverly leaned back into the comfort of her chair,
"I saw her earlier, she and will had some kind of confrontation and
she was upset but she didn't mention anything else. She did look
tired though but she's had a murderous schedule lately, I assumed
that was why I hadn't seen much of her but if there is something
wrong thats exactly how she would deal with it. You know now you
come to mention it she has been very quick to loose her rag lately I
just assumed there was something I had done, that she would get over
it eventually. To be quite honest I didn't dare rock the boat. Will
did mention something about her being off with him but I didn't put
two and two together."
"Do you have any idea about what could be causing her to act like
this ?"
"The only thing she has spoken to me about lately was the argument
with Will, and I don't think that's the cause but just a symptom."
Picard nodded,
"The thing is there obviously is a problem but she won't talk to me
or Will about it so that I'm afraid leaves you. However I suggest you
leave talking to her till tomorow when shes had a chance to get some
rest, try to get her to take the day off and relax if thats at all
Beverly smiled at him gently,
"I could do with some of that myself."
"Couldn't we all Doctor. Couldn't we all ?"

She'd spent most of the night staring at the ceiling and it seemed as
if as soon as she'd managed to shut her eyes the wake up alarm was
sounding in her right ear. Managing finally to drag her aching body
from the bed with a groan she stumbled over to the replicator and
ordered a strong black coffee, She usually wouldn't drink that stuff
but lately... well everything had been off lately. She checked her
schedule, two appointments after lunch. She was just considering
going back to bed when the door chime rang. She released the door
lock and stood back as Beverly Crusher entered.
"My god Deanna you look terrible !"
"Thank you Beverly for the vote of confidence."
The doctor sat down and watched as Troi slid into the opposite chair
tucking hr feet beneath her like a small child .
"How did it go with Will yesterday ?"
She didn't need to ask as the answer to her question was written all
over Deanna's face.
"Terrible just terrible. No actually it was going just great until I
walked into Ten forward and he was all over Commander whatsername."
"Did he try to explain ?"
"Not really. In all fairness I didn't really give him a chance."
Beverly leaned forward giving her best mothers pose,
"Are you sure of what you saw ? that you didn't just overreact ?"
Deanna looked up at her with her eyes burning and Beverly didn't miss
the pain in her voice as she spoke,
"I know what I saw Beverly."
She paused for a moment letting the silence hang between them.
"You should have seen them. I stood there watching them and I
She rose placing her back to the doctor so that she wouldn't see the
tears burning in her eyes. Remembering the sickening but all too
familiar feeling of fear at seeing him drifting away, remembering
the hot searing pain of betrayal she felt the tears roll down her
"Have you talked to him about it ?"
Came the doctors soft probe.
"No . And frankly I don't care if I never speak to him again !"
The unbidden anger in her voice surprised Crusher. Deanna wasn't one
to act without reason there was more to this and she had two choices
either she could try and wormit out of her and possibly step on a
nerve or leave her alone to deal with it and hope it went away. The
latter of the two certainly sounded more appealing but her physicians
instinct told her that this patient needed a cure.
"I'm sure you don't mean that Dee."
She took a breath and launched straight into it. What else happened?"
Deanna looked up her then, the torment burning in her eyes.
"Dee are you going to tell me what's really going on here or are we
just going to sit here and bash Will and not discuss why I really
came here and what's really wrong with you ?"
Deanna attempted a look of innocence that she watched fly straight
over the Doctors head.
"we….well things got a little more heated than either of us planned.
Wills higher morals took over and he left. That's all it is. Im just
a little embarrassed and a little hurt "
Beverly's mothering instincts took over and her red-head temper blew.
"Dammit Deanna. I know things haven't been easy between us lately.
But I'm trying to help and well if you can't even have the decency to
tell me the truth then I don't know why I bothered at all."
She watched as Deanna's face turned to pure shock then as her lower
lip trembled and the flood gates burst. She instantly regretted her
harsh words and went to the smaller woman folding her into her arms.
"Oh Honey Im sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. Im just worried
about you. Can you tell me what's wrong. Talk to me Baby . Please
Deanna curled herself further into Beverly's arm's
"Im so tired, so very tired. I can't sleep. I can't eat. Beverly I
can't.......I was so awful Beverly it was mortifying."
Her sobs took over and Beverly rocked her shaking form, holding her
close like a small child. She hadn't noticed before how frail and
thin Deanna had become recently but now as she held her tightly it
was all too evident.
"What else Dee. Tell me honey and I'll do everything I can to make
it better."
Deanna stared up at her eyes filled with so much pain and fear.
"I can't separate my emotions. I try but its like my walls don't
work any...more. I can't sleep at night, I keep having nightmares.
They come , take over and its like Im in someone elses body watching
my life through their eyes. I can't control my emotions. I do and
say things and I can't stop myself. Will and I nearly…..I really
wanted him to. I need him and I keep pushing him further away. I feel
like im going crazy. Am I crazy ? What's wrong with me ? "
"I don't know honey. But I promise you I'll move heaven and earth to
find out."
The sobs regained their control and Beverly held onto her feeling her
own fear increasing. What if wasn't something she could fix. What if
she couldn't help Deanna ? She waited for the tears to dimish then
watched as Troi disentangled herself from her arms trying obviously
to regain some measure of control. Beverly let her go.
"Why don't we go down to sickbay where I can run some tests and try
to find out just what's going on ?"
Deanna looked up at her the evidence of her tears drying and nodded
slowly. The doctor reached out a hand which Deanna took and rose from
the couch starting slowly towards the door as if fearfull of what lay
on the other side.
"Deanna do you want me to speak to Will, explain that..."
She was cut off mid sentance as the smaller woman grabbed both her
arms in a vice-like grip,
"I don't want him to know what's going on. I don't want to see him
or speak to him. I can't deal with him right now. Promise me Beverly
that you won't say anything to him."
She stared down at her in disbelief. Whatever problems they'd had in
the past Will and deanna had stuck together through it all. She'd
always envied their closeness, the unwavering support they had shown
each other and now here was Deanna begging her not to allow Will to
even know about her condition. She cursed Rikers inability to control
"Promise me Beverly !"
"I promise you. You don't have to speak to him if you don't want to.
But don't you think he has the right to know what's going on ? He
cares about you, he'll want to know."
Deanna looked away from her then, tears threatening again.
"He has no rights anymore. He threw them away. And as for caring
about me I can assure you that won't be a problem right now."
Beverly shook her head wanting to reassure her friend.
"I think you're wrong Deanna. He doe's care."
She watched as the Counsellor looked up at her, sudden hope in her
eyes then as she pushed it away and shook her head as if to clear it.
When she finally spoke it was with a trace of her former

"Are we going or not ?"
The doctor nodded and led her out of the

Will Riker strode into the staff briefing and sat in his customary
seat .
He sat for a few moments staring at Deanna's empty seat beside him,
he couldn't remember a time when she hadn't sat beside him.
The symbolic meaning of her moving away had stabbed into his heart
like a knife sending freash chills up his spine each time he recalled
the way she couldn't even bring herself to look at him. How could it
all have become so complicated between them. When had she decided to
cleave him so completely from her life. He had never been able to
close his heart to her, never been able to stop the feelings that she
stirred in him. How could she find it so easy ?
He watched as the door opened as his crewmates entered. Each of them
a valued and trusted friend, more of a family than he'd ever had
before but now the thought of leaving them behind nagged at him and
he knew with each wall Deanna threw up between them it would be
harder to stay.
He nodded at Lou-ann as she entered and sat opposite him and watched
as the Captain and Beverly entered his eyes widening in surprise as
he proceeded to begin the briefing without Deanna's presence. He
shot a questioning look at Beverly who looked at him without a trace
of sympathy and mouthed,
He felt the panic rising in him as he studied Beverly's face. The
way she had adverted her eyes from his gaze told him volumes more
than she could have spoken it was obvious she knew exactly what had
happened, Deanna had told her everything she knew what was going on.
Something was seriously wrong here, he could feel it in the air.

Trying to fight his imagination over what situation had occurred he
focused on Lou-ann as she rose and stood before the large map on the
view screen.
"We have just recieved a coded subspace message from intelligence
groups on the surface of Amaralis. It appears that the recent
movements of the Kaloy Avid have been to fraction off into smaller
groups of four up to around seven. This is obviously a move to
further conceal their whereabouts and those of the hostages. We
believe that each group has taken members of the hostages to minimise
chances of rescue. Therefore our options are somewhat limited
leaving us with two strategies. Either we can rely on intelligence
reports and stay out of sight moving in on one of the rare occasions
when the factions decide to convene as a group or we can attempt to
infiltrate the factions and organise a rescue from within. The first
option would be the safer of the two for the officers involved,
however we may be risking the lives of the hostages by hesitating .
I suggest that the second option would be more effective in
accurately discovering the hostages whereabouts and recovering them.
There would be three teams of two officers who will attempt to
filtrate a fraction and then proceed to discover the hostages and
means of rescuing them."
Worf interuppted her flow with the comment that everyone had expected
him to offer.
"I agree with the Commander. We should act now."
Beverly closed her eyes as if trying to formulate the words she
"Thats all well and good Worf, but number one how do we gain their
trust, they're bound to be suspicious of outsiders and number two how
do we organise an operation of that scale when there are only two of
us to each group ? Its a hell of a big risk."
Riker looked up at her his somber tone relaying his true mood.
"Thats our job Beverly. Risk is what we do. If we don't move now
countless lives may continue to be lost. Surely thats more of a
risk ?"
Beverly nodded.
"All Im saying Will is that its not going to be an easy job."
Lou-ann took the oppourtunity to interrupt,
"Thats granted Doctor. In fact that may prove to be an
understatement. However this is what we're trained for. As for
infiltrating the fractions we have an advantage in that the recent
skirmishes have diminished manpower in the groups and have led to
them recruiting outside of their usual territory, this will allow us
to blend more easily. I have created backgrounds for each group and
cover stories for how they happen to be in the area. The first
group will consist of Commander Riker and myself."
She looked to Riker for a sign of acknowledgement and was greeted by
a small nod. He was not surprised by her choosing him as her
partner, they had both been In this situation countless times before
and ostensibly were the best qualified.
"The second group will be Doctor Crusher and Lieutenant Worf followed
by two teams of three security personel and Commander Data. Each
team will have an individual briefing where they will be given their
background and have any nessercary alterations to their appearance
made. There will be a prearranged meeting place with a schedule to
attend to of course as circumstances allow."
She looked around studing each of their faces,
"I know we don't all know one another very well. You have trust
between you that I don't have the time to establish. All I can tell
you is that this is my job. Its what I do and I don't intend to let
any of you or them down and I expect the same from you."
She sat down then and looked to Captain Picard for a follow up,
instead he just motioned for them to exit.
"I think you've just about covered it Commander, if theres nothing
else your'e all dismissed."
The end hadn't come a moment too soon for Riker as he clambered out
of the door to reach Beverly.
"Beverly ! Hang on a minute." He followed her into the turbolift and
turned to stand beside her as the door shut .

"Are you going to tell me what's going on now ?"
She looked at him. Really looked. The concern was etched into his
features, his usual smile gone and he looked like he hadn't slept in
days Deanna wasn't the only one suffering here.

"Let me just say first that im aware of whats been going on.."
Riker groaned and rubbed a hand over his tired eyes. Beverly adverted
her eyes and continued

" Im not making any judgments."
When will looked up at her in disbelief she continued.

"Im really not. I mean it possibly wasn't your smartest move ever to
let that….situation arise."
She said situation with enough emphasis to ensure he knew exactly
what she was referring to.
"Ordinarily Will your sex life is none of my concern, but Deanna is
not capable right now of…"
"I get that Beverly" He interrupted
"I know Will. I don't want to sound like im chastising you. I think
you did the right thing all be it slightly delayed."
He looked at her sighed and leaned against the wall
"I know it shouldn't have happened but things between Deanna and I
are complicated at the best of times and I got carried away. I never
meant to let it go that far."
"I understand I really do. Its just that theres something going on
with her and we need to be helping her not ourselves!"
"Do you know whats causing this?" He asked with a touch of fear in
his voice.
"Will you have to understand that Im in a difficult position here.
Im only allowed to offer you a certain amount of information
regarding Deanna's condition."
He looked at her surprised,
"What condition. Is she sick ?"
Beverly shook her head,
"Will I can honestly say I don't quite know what's going on yet. But
I am going to find out. I promise you that. I can't tell you any
more, I wish I could."
"What do you mean you can't tell me, is it serious ? Can you help
"Thats not what I mean." She paused for a moment trying to decide
the best way to tell him, when she couldn't think of a good way to do
this she decided that the truth was probably best.
"Will, Deanna doesn't want you to know about her condition."
She watched his face change to a mixture of anger, pain and
rejection. He felt it like a blow to the stomach. This was it, the
final straw.
"What do you mean she doesn't want me to know ? Can't I see her?
Talk to her ? She needs me Bev. Now more than ever. I need her !"
She placed a hand lightly on his arm,
"I know Will, she'll come around. She's having a rough time right now
and she needs us to be there for her."
The hurt was evident in his voice,
"You know what Bev Im trying, I really am. But I don't know how much
more of this I can take. How much our relationship can take. Let me
talk to her I can make her see sense. She needs me. She used to
anyway !"
"Will right now this is a request, You try to see her and the
Captain is willing to make it an order. This her emotional and
physical wellbeing Will."
His anger flared.
"And what about mine. Do you think for one moment she's considered
how this is effecting me ? How much she's hurt me these past few
months? First this thing with Worf, I stood by, Watched her take
every opportunity to rub my face in it. Watched as our friendship
took the biggest battering ever. She's pushed me away every
oppourtunity she's had, thrown everything back at me. I can only
take so much Bev and right now I'm about at my limit."
"She's not right Will. Theres something wrong. I'm sure she doesn't
mean it."
"Im not. She's been like this for months not just the past few
weeks. I don't know what to do any more. I just don't."
He felt his anger draining and in its place a deep sadness settled
over coming to rest in the ever expanding hole in his heart. The
emptiness in his soul threatening to overwhelm him he walked away
from the doctor who stood in the corridor watching him go.

Beverly checked on the sleeping Troi as she re entered sickbay. She
placed her hand on deannas forehead checking for herself what the
monitors had already measured, slightly warm but no fever. Deanna was
sleeping heavily now but only with the aid of sedation. Crusher
shook her head as she stroked a strand of hair off deannas face and
wondered to herself what the hell was going on.
Dropping dejectedly into her office chair she called up the betazoid
medical journal she prayed would offer some insight into Trois

Riker had sat in his quarters for what seemed like hours finally he
couldn't take the scilence anymore, he needed to talk to someone,
someone who was impartial but selfishly on his side.
Rising he ordered the whereabouts of Lou-ann he found himself
surprised, " The holodeck, she never uses those."

As he stood outside the doors to the holodeck he had the good grace
to enquire which program Lou was running, he smiled gently to himself
as the computor announced the name of her family ranch in Texas.

The air was stifling and thick with dust , raising his hand to shield
his from the sun he spotted her and the beautiful creature she was
pushing to its limits. Riker had never been a great lover of horses
to be honest he hadn't had much to do with them in Alaska, but Lou-
ann had soon changed his opinion. She adored her horses and
especially Wildcard her current mount. At the time he had thought
that they were the only recipients of any affection from the tough
texan but now he knew differently, he had seen the softer side.
Lou-ann was racing Wildcard around what appeared to be the same
barrels she had attempted to introduce riker to, but his horsemanship
skills had never been quite up to that standard even under her
He watched as Wildcard reared, stepping forward as if to catch her
then pausing as he realised Lou had complete control. Watching in awe
as she calmed the huge animal and pushed him back into the punishing
routine. He swallowed hard he'd forgotton just how good she was.
The concentration and tension on her face was almost tangible. He'd
never seen her like this before, not this frustrated and closed off.
He stood watching her sliently waiting for her to notice his
presence, finally she pulled wilcard up and quickly dismounted
leading him to the arena fence her breath was heavy and her skin
glistening with sweat,
"How long have you been there ?"
"Long enough. What's he done wrong?"
She smiled slowly but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Glancing down
at the bridle in her hands and fiddling with a particularly stubborn
"Nothin more than usual. You know me I like my rides stubborn just
like my men!"
Will laughed gently,
"Makes more fun breaking them in, right Lou?"
He realised he'd said the wrong thing instantly with her sharp intake
of breath, her laugh was forced and she turned and headed for the
"You don't know how right you are Riker."
Her usual lighthearted humour appeared to be strained, there was
definatly something going on here, she was hiding something and not
very well at that.
He followed her in and watched for a while as she slammed equipment
about only calming as she brushed down her soaking wet ride. She
appeared to be completely unaware of him until she finally spoke,
"Was there somethin you wanted Willor are you goin to stand there and
watch me all afternoon."
He stepped closer placing a gentle hand on her shoulder a little
surprised at the soft wince.
"Is there something you wanted to talk about lou?"
She seemed not to hear so he started again,
She stopped him by raising her hand
"I heard you Will I just chose not to answer you."
Will stepped back watching the tightness of her shoulders as she
rubbed the animal.
"Will I have a job to do here and I don't intend for my personal
problems to interfere if thats what your'e worried about."
Placing himself right behind her covering her exit he put both his
hands on her shoulders turning her to face him and drawing her closer.
" I've never met a more proffessional officer in my entire career, Im
worried about you Lou not the dam job."

Finally she turned to face him. The look on her face turned his
blood cold in his veins.
"I caused this Will. My treaty was supposed to stop the fighting but
instead all its done is start another war. Its all my fault."
"Its not your fault Lou, you didn't cause this. No-one could have
seen this coming, not even you."

He smiled at her then, relived to see a flicker of humour in her
eyes, a ghost of a smile traced her lips. Shaking her head she turned
"Try to make me feel better Riker, but the truth is its chaos down
there and if it hadn't been for that damn treaty it...."
She paused then searching for the right words and when she appeared
not to find them she stood looking out to the horizon. He watched her
for a moment then stood to join her tugging at her hand he gave her a
slow smile,
"cmon' I have an idea, something that will make us both feel better."

The mess in his quarters was an unwelcome greeting but it seemed to
completely unfaze his guest, and as he picked up scattered items it
actually prompted a soft laugh,
"Will don't bother Honey I've seen it all before,"
He smiled at her dropping it all on the floor again,
" I quess you have. Wait right there, and close your eyes."
Flopping down on the couch Lou-ann shut her eyes and tried to relax,
"You better not re-appear in a thong or something Riker cause Im
having a bitch of a day and that really ain't gonna help"
She felt something nudge her arm, something warm and hard and she
smiled despite herself,
"That better not be what I think it is Riker or I might just to have
you court marchaled and decomissioned."
"Lou." he scolded
"just open your mouth, with no smut and take a sip,"
He pressed the glass to her mouth allowing her to taste the contents
and watched for her reaction. She swallowed and groaned as the taste
hit her tongue, opening her eyes slowly she grinned at him,
"Will where did you get that from its been banned for at least ten
He laughed watching the look of delight cross her face. sliding onto
the couch next to her he pulled the bottle from behind his

" I thought that would make you smile. I aquired this from ... well
lets say an acquaintance who owed me big time. I was saving it for
your birthday but I didn't think you'd mind spoiling the suprise."
Shutting her eyes she allowed the heady rush of the extremely potent
alcohol to flow over her.
The liqud in question was a very concentrated version of whiskey that
the garibadian monks had brewed centuries ago. It was a banned
substance in the federation and had been for at least ten years, the
extremely high alcohol content was partly to blame but it also
contained a potentially addictive mood enchancer and supposedly had
aphrodisiac properties not that she and Riker had ever needed them
when this stuff had been in its hayday. The reminder of the
distance of their youth brought fresh tears to her eyes, it had all
been so simple then. So clear cut.
Will watched Lou relax back into the softness of his couch her eyes
closed savouring the taste of the familiar brew. Her brow crinkled
under his scrutiny and he watched concern again gripping him as tears
slipped from under her lashes. Lou had never been one for emotion,
like him she had learnt to rein it in at an early age fearful of the
rebuke it would earn them.
"Lou. What is it ?"
She looked up at him then, pain raking across her feautures allowing
the tears to fall.
"I don't know where to start Will, its all such a mess. I have
everything Im supposed to have wanted all my life, but to get it I ve
given up on everything I ever needed."
The words echoed in his head ringing true within him, the sentiment
of her statement reflected just how he felt but that couldn't be all
that was bothering her, he watched her waiting for her to continue.
"I screwed up big time Will, I really did. Now I don't know what's
important anymore. I don't know who I am"
"what did you do that was so awful ?"
She looked away from his unwavering stare fighting the need to
confide in him. Wanting to tell him so much that it hurt but knowing
that she never could.

Deanna Troi awoke disorientated ,blinking at her surroundings "what
the hell am I doing here?" and then it all can flooding back in
vicious waves, the nightmares, the fights the awful words a flash of
her laying naked across her table with wills hands and mouth on her
body. Beverly coming to her trying to work out what was wrong.
She looked around trying to catch sight of her friend, spotting her
over the far end of sickbay she sat for a moment remembering the
horrible way she had treated beverly recently it was a wonder anyone
this ship was speaking to her at all never mind trying to help her.
Tears blurred her vision as beverly turned and smiled at her relived
to see her awake, her smile vanishing under concern as she saw
Deanna's expression. Taking her friend by the hand she gently led
her to her office shut the door quietly behind them as if scared that
the younger woman might up and bolt like a frightened animal. Sitting
opposite the doctor Deanna sat staring at her hands, wringing them
trying to build up the courage to look at Beverly, waiting for the
Doctors first words.
" Deanna I was going to let you sleep a little longer before we had
this conversation, but now your awake and I quess theres no time like
the present."
Troi stared at her friend wringing her hands desperately,
"I need to know Beverly I need to find out what the hell is wrong
with me ."
She paused for a moment looking deep into the Betazoids dark eyes,
seeing the pain reflected there feeling the hopelessness and for a
moment things started to fall into place.
"What's wrong with me Beverly?"
The Doctor stood now coming around the desk to kneel beside her.
"Dee you have number of symptoms that on their own could signify
nothing but exhaustion and some small neurochemical discrepancies but
I believe thats just a side effect not the initial cause of your
behavior changes . However I have found some damage in your Para
Troi held eye contact,
"Damage.. what kind of damage?"
Beverly shifted in her chair.
"It looks like there has been some kind of infection. There's some
swelling and scaring. You said you'd been feeling unwell for a while,
any ideas when this started?"
Troi shook her head
"Im not really sure. I mean I've been really tired, restless nothing
serious my schedule has been pretty intense lately."
"What about these dreams? How long"
"A few weeks give or take."
The doctor nodded the pieces slotting into place.
"Ive been searching the Betazoid neuro journals and I think I have an
idea… Theres a condition that affects specific areas of the brain,
areas that primarily deal with telepathic communication."
Deanna started to interrupt but Beverly held up a hand.
"I know what you're going to say but your complicated brain structure
only helped the virus to elude detection. The variations in you're
brain structure from a full blooded betazoid gave it a open playing
field as it were."
"What is it Beverly? What causes it? What can we do?"
The doctor took a deep breath,
"Its called yaharios syndrome…like I said it targets the areas of the
brain linked with telepathic abilities. Im no expert by any means
which I why it took me so long to find out what was going on but from
what I've read so far it a highly contagious viral infection passed
via bodily fluids."
Beverly watched as confusion passed over Deanna's face and waited for
the glint of recognition in her eyes.
"Its not what you think Beverly… It was that conference on timbulan.."
Crusher tilted her head
"You are a grown woman Deanna you don't have to explain."
"I know. It was just after Worf and I and there was someone. I didn't
know what I was going to do about…Well the reason we split."
She paused and Beverly smiled
Troi glanced up quickly
"I didn't realize it was general knowledge."
Crusher placed a comforting hand on Deannas.
"Im not ust anyone remember."
Deanna smiled weakly
"Everything was so muddled in my head I wanted to flush Will Riker
out of my mind for one night. I was talking to one of the delegates
and well….the attention was nice."
She rose from her chair and paced the doctors office
"It was supposed to be simple.. no strings I ust wanted to feel… I
wanted to,"
Beverly nodded
"I get it Deanna. Really I do"
"I Couldn't go through with it. He kissed me and all I could think
about was Will about how much I wanted..and of course he knew exactly
what I was thinking so it went no further."
She sank back into her chair.
"It was just one kiss but it made everything so clear."
Troi cradled her head in her hands
"I came home and I couldn't look him in the eye I didn't know how to
tell him. Will and I could tell each other anything up until I got
involved with Worf then something shut down between us."
"He was hurt Deanna, you must have understood why."
"Of course I did, I do. I didn't realize at the time just how much
damage had been done. Will can be very adept at blocking me when he
feels like it. I came home and part of him was gone to me, shut down.
When I started to have the dreams Will was there but something was
still locked away. If I think about it clinically then I suppose the
nightmares could be symbolic of this whole situation."
Beverly nodded
"This syndrome acts as a kind of circular amplifier for your psyche.
It feeds off your emotions and in turn increases their potency. It
can manifest in nightmares, paranoia, depression mania and the such
like. It also affects your ability to sense others clearly."
"Can you fix this Beverly?"
She looked at Crusher with such desperation in her eyes it almost
broke the doctors heart.
"Its treatable Deanna but there isn't any way of knowing how much
damage has been done until we clear the underlying infection. There
could be some residual scarring and it could take you a while to
regain your emotional equilibrium like I said im no expert yet but I
do intend to become one trust me I'll do all I can."
Troi took a deep breath
"I do. When can I start the treatment?"
"Right away. There is one thing though. Will has to be screened
Deanna gasped
"I didn't think…..oh gods I have to tell him that I…"
"Its ok. Im being very cautious its just with this link you have im
not sure if will would be affected. I have to clear him for this away
mission this afternoon, I can kind of fly it under the radar. He'll
need to know if he's infected though."
Deanna breathed a sigh of near relief
"I understand. Please gods don't let him be."
Amen to that thought the doctor.

A reluctant Will Riker stepped through sickbays doors and headed for
Beverly Chrushers office. The doctor sat behind her desk studying a
padd her eyes didn't raise from it as riker entered and sat in the
chair opposite, running his hand through his hair he waited for the
doctor to speak. When she finally looked up at him he was surprised
to see no trace of the anger he had been expecting.
"Beverly Im sorry about earlier. Im just trying to get my head round
all of this…and well I guess Im not doing too well."

She smiled slightly and reached across the table to pat the big mans
"Its fine Will. I understand. Really I do. Im asking you to trust me
with this. Let me do my job then the ball will be back in your court."

Riker rubbed his tired eyes and leaned back in the chair.
"Is she still here?"
"No. I've discharged her to quarters for now."
She paused watching his face
"She'll be ok Will. Just try to give it a few days."

He shrugged in resignation.
"I don't seem to have a great deal of choice do I?"
Chrusher Took his hand again.
"I know this has been hard for you. She needs a little more time
He nodded and gestured to the door.
"Good job im going to be busy for the next few days then. Do we have
to do the poking and prodding bit now Doc?"

Something flashed in Beverly's eyes then it was gone just as quickly.
Riker stood and led her out of the doors to main sickbay.
"Have you some kind of evil experiment planned for me doctor?"
Chrushers laugh sounded slightly nervous and she picked up her med
"I should be so lucky Commander I just need to get some new baseline
scans in case you pick up anything nasty down there."
His trademark grin reappeared briefly.
"Scared something might beat you one of these days!"
"No I just don't need you cluttering up my sickbay and terrorizing my
nurses again!"

Avoiding his gaze she watched the flickering readings on the
tricorder and breathed a sigh of relief when he came up all clear.
"Any bits missing Doc?"
She smiled up at him feeling the prick of guilt at her deception.
"Nope unfortunately all present and correct."
"So I can get to work then?"
She nodded and watched as he drew himself off the biobed
"Try to come back that way please commander."
He saluted irrevently as he walked to the exit and stopped suddenly.
Without turning she heard the former pain slip back into his voice
for a second.
"Tell her I'll see her when I come home Beverly."
She looked at the back of his head for a moment.
"Don't worry I'll take care of her. You just be carefull."
"Always careful Beverly."
With that he strode through the doors and again the doctor released
the breath she had'nt realized she had been holding.


Beaming down the team looked at each other, surveying the landscape
for any signs of danger before they went their separate ways.
Riker glanced over at Louann taking in the look of grim determination
and pain etched on her face as she stared out across the landscape.
When she spoke her voice betrayed no emotion just the command tone
Riker found all too familiar.
"Right team this is it. We have two days. We camp here tonight and
move at dawn."

Will took a moment to scan the surrounding landscape. They'd beamed
down a few miles from the town they believed was the terrorist
stronghold. The team had been streamlined to six officers all now
from security and tactical.

A few hours before they were due to beam down Louann had called them
in for a final briefing and informed them that they were no longer
going to attempt to infiltrate the groups separately she'd had an
update from an informant that the groups were due to convene the
following day and that the hostages were being held in a building in
the east quadrant of the town before them..
The plan now was to observe the individuals movements to
this `meeting' then move the hostages out form dangers way. The
teams focus would then turn to the kidnappers and more importantly
the ringleaders.
A complete turnaround in tactics and at the last minute made Riker
feel more than a little uncomfortable. It was unlike Lou to change
plans and although he could see the reasoning behind it he couldn't
help but feel that there was more to this whole situation than she
was letting on.

He watched her as he unpacked his gear. To the common man there
would seem to be nothing untoward but he knew her better and he could
of sworn there was something hiding behind that look of grim
determination across her face.

Sleep eluded him as the minutes ticked by. The darkness had fallen
hours ago but he couldn't ease his mind into the rest he knew he
would need come dawn but his thoughts were centred back on the
He tried to center his thoughts on her, trying to reach out for the
presence of Deanna. It was as if he could reach the edges of her
with the barest brush of his fingertips but the full touch still
eluded him.
Sighing he drew his hand over his restless eyes his mind calling out
in what knew to be a futile attempt to reach her.
"Imzadi, I miss you."
There was no response nor had he expected there to be but the silence
still cracked his heart a little further open.

TBC ...