By Michele (IceSlivers)


~Disclaimer: Paramount, Viacom, and their many subsidiaries own the rights to Star Trek, I am just playing in their realm. No violation of copyright is intended. Please do not reproduce without permission from the author (me)...archiving is great, though. No profit is made in anyway from my hobby!~

**All our tears have reached the sea
Part of you will live in me
Deep down inside my heart
Days keep coming w/o fail
New wind is going to find your sail
That's where your journey starts
You'll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me

Tears streamed unabashed down Deanna's face as she began one of the toughest tasks anyone ever thrust upon her. People passed her in the corridor, offering her sympathetic, even pitying looks, as the beautiful empath stood outside the quarters next to her own. One crew mate choked back a tear as she watched Deanna reverently touch the decal of his name on the door and square her shoulders. The Betazoid took a long breath with her eyes closed, then in a voice so filled with pain it hurt to hear she said, "Computer override lock. Command code Alpha-Six-Troi-Gamma." The doors hissed open and Deanna stepped inside. Fresh tears came to her eyes as the scent of his cologne assaulted her senses. It took a supreme effort for her not to sink to her knees and sob until she could sob no longer. The doors whooshed closed behind her and she leaned weakly against them while thinking, 'I absolutely cannot do this. I'm not ready to do this. I'm not ready to say good-bye!' Her eyes surveyed his quarters, in all its messy glory, and a small smile touched her lips. She took in another deep breath and walked unsteadily to his computer console where she sat down. "Computer, access personal logs," she requested and the terminal sprung to life, alight with the hundreds of entries he'd made over the years. The one she was looking for was at the end of the log entries. She pressed a button and the computer demanded the access code for the log. Softly Deanna replied, "Access code Imzadi." Suddenly his voice filled his quarters and her tears came again.
"This is Captain William T. Riker. Deanna, if you're listening to this, I have to assume I'm dead, and I'm so sorry you're having to hear this. I can only imagine how my death is affecting you, but promise me you'll go on with your life. A part of me will always live in you. You'll find better things…better love…a better life with someone who can love you in a way I couldn't and will give you all the things I wouldn't. I've spent half my life loving you and never acting upon those feelings. I know you've loved me, too, and I'm sorry I never gave in and loved you in the way I wanted to. I have no excuses. What good are they, anyway? I can't make any difference or change it now. There are a few of my personal affects I'd like for you to have in a box on the top shelf of my closet. The rest of my personal things are stored on Earth. My father has the code and can retrieve those things, but what matters most to me is in that box. I want you to have them. Remember me by them, but don't grieve for me too long, Deanna. Celebrate my life, please. My life was good and you know I loved it as much as I loved you. Remember me with a smile and go on with your life. Know that I loved you and died loving you. Riker out."
The log ended and silence filled the room, broken only by the sobs Deanna could no longer contain. On legs of jelly she walked over to his closet and struggled to reach the box. Finally, she grasped it and pulled it down. Carrying it to his bed, she placed it on the navy blue bedspread, then sank down beside the box. After pressing a few button, the box opened and she gasped, touching her lips with one hand while the other pulled out the contents. "Oh Will, I can't believe you kept this," she whispered as she fingered a white headband made by him for her. She smiled at its softness and remembered back to the first time that he gave it to her. "You thought I was dead," she said in a pain filled voice as she wrapped the headband around her hair then continued sorting through the box. A hologram of them on Betazed from just a few years ago…his medals and honors from Starfleet…and black velvet box. Her brow furrowed in curiosity at the black box. 'I've never seen this before,' she thought as she opened the box. A beautiful ring encrusted of small Andorian diamonds shot prisms of color throughout the room. "Oh my God!" She exclaimed in shocked reverence as she touched the ring. A book was the last thing in the box and she took it out while never taking her eyes off the ring. Two pieces of paper fluttered out of it. 'Paper,' she mused, picking up one piece with frayed edges. Tears filled her eyes as she read the first line of the poem he wrote for her all those years ago on Betazed. She placed the paper back in the book and wiped her eyes, then picked up the second piece and scanned it with eyes of growing shock and wonder.


You know me…I'm not good with words. I never have been. I don't like situations when I'm not in control, but here I am getting ready to go into something where I'll never have control. That honor will fall to you. You know I love you…I always have. Sometimes I feel like I was born loving you, but to be in love means giving up control to someone else. That's the reason I've avoided this so long, but nearly losing you to Worf was enough to make me realize I want to give up control and love you…for the rest of my life. I've sent a message to my father to send me my mother's engagement/wedding ring. I want to marry you…You have no idea how many of these letters I've written and never given them to you. This is another one…Maybe I'll give you them when we get married as a wedding present from me to you…Maybe…


"Oh Will," she breathed, looking at the date on the letter. 'Just two weeks ago,' she thought. 'This must have just arrived a few days ago.' She looked to the box, then picked it up and opened it again. Reverently, she took the ring from its casing and placed it upon her finger as a tear dropped on it. 'I can't handle anymore of this…not today,' she silently realized as she cried. She rose to her unsteady legs and bolted from his bedroom to his living room, then she bolted from his quarters and into the corridor. Leaning against the door, her shoulders heaved as she cried for a moment. "Computer, locate Dr. Crusher," Deanna requested in a strangled voice.
"Dr. Crusher is in Sickbay," came the reply. Deanna shoved away from the wall and entered the nearest turbolift and headed for Sickbay. Once there a feeling of relief came through her veins. For awhile she could escape the reality of Will's death and enjoy a few minutes of life with her best friend…or so she thought. The glittering of the diamonds caught her eyes and tears spilt down on her face again. Beverly came out of her office, heading towards a patient's biobed, but when she saw Deanna, her direction changed completely. Beverly enveloped her best friend in a tight hug and led Deanna towards her office. The doors closed and Deanna sat down in a chair. Beverly sat beside her and took Deanna's hand, and then she noticed the beautiful ring. "Deanna, where did you get this?" Beverly asked, examined the gorgeous band.
"From Will," she answered dully. "It was in a box of things he left for me. He was planning on asking me to marry him."
"Oh Deanna." Beverly squeezed the counselor's pale, cold hand. 'I have no idea what to say to you,' Beverly thought, remembering back to when Jack died. No one knew what to say to her then. "Maybe you should take a leave of absence," Beverly suggested. "Go to Betazed…get your bearings back."
Deanna shook her head firmly. "No…I'm not going to run from this, Beverly. Will is dead, and I have to face it."
"You're pushing yourself too hard, Dee. He's only been gone a week. No one is expecting you to be over this and back to normal anytime soon. Everyone understands how difficult this is for you. Take some time. I'm sure the captain won't mind," Beverly said. "Just think about it, please."
"Okay…I'll think about it," Deanna conceded. Beverly smiled broadly and rose to her feet.
"Good," she said. "I have a patient to go check on. Stay here as long as you need."
"Thanks," Deanna gratefully said, leaning back in her chair as Beverly silently left. In her mind's eye she saw Will and a smile touched her lips. She watched as her memory took her through the life she'd shared with him, and she felt his essence permeate her spirit. She could hear his voice, teasing, in her mind, then she heard him chastising her for something inconsequential. Finally, she could hear his voice calling out to her mind in a desperate plea to hold her close to him…telling her not to die…not to let go…to come back to him. Her smile was regretfully…remorseful as she opened her eyes with his voice still echoing through her mind. She shook her head to escape her memories, but his voice still screamed through her mind. "Will," she moaned, clutching her head in her hands. "Stop," she softly said as the room began to spin. Sometime later Beverly found Deanna laying on the floor, clutching her head with her eyes closed and a funny smile on her face.


"What the hell happened?" Their new captain demanded of Beverly as he looked at Deanna's pale, still form. He maintained the dignity Starfleet required of him while his insides were churning in worried terror. Beverly took another tricorder scan of Deanna and examined the results.
"It's almost as if she's gone into a catatonic state of sorts. Remember when this happened to her mother several years ago? Lwaxana had repressed a painful memory of Kestra's death, and when the memory was triggered she went catatonic to protect herself. The scans of Deanna's brain and the scans I've pulled of Lwaxana's brain from then are nearly identical," Beverly explained, frustrated beyond belief.
The captain crossed his arms and leaned against the biobed. "What caused this, though? How do we bring her back?" His voice was taut and his nerves were becoming frayed. Weeks of near sleeplessness caused dark circles under his eyes and fatigue to dim their usual brightness.
"I don't know…Correction, I won't know until I can fully diagnose the problem. If we had a Betazoid or a Vulcan on board diagnosis wouldn't be a problem. If this is a telepathic problem, they could decipher it in a matter of minutes with a mind probe. When this happened to her mother, Deanna literally had to go into her mother's mind and retrieve Lwaxana." Beverly sighed in frustration. The ship was a week from Betazed at maximum warp, and Beverly wasn't sure Deanna had a week. Whatever had caused her collapse was boring farther and farther into Deanna's mind. In a week, Deanna could be unreachable by even the strongest telepath.
"Where was she found?" Their captain asked, pulling Beverly from her thoughts.
"In her quarters. She missed an appointment."
He sighed in equal frustration. "Was there anything around her that could give any clue as to what caused this? Is there evidence of a psi-attack?" A psi-attack could explain everything; unfortunately, there were no telepaths on board capable of waging a psi-war with Deanna. Besides, the only people currently using psi-warfare were Romulans.
"No, no evidence of a psi-attack on her. I checked. That was my first thought, too. The only unusual thing worth noted is she was found laying on her bed reading a piece of paper."
"Paper!" He exclaimed, wrinkling his nose in confusion with a touch of distaste. "Who uses paper anymore?"
"It was old…she was obviously reminiscing. A poem was written on the paper," Beverly recalled. "I have the poem in my office…If you want to see it." The captain nodded then treaded into her office to retrieve the paper. He found it easily, and paled as he read it. "Oh God!" He exclaimed. Beverly rushed to her office. "What?" She asked, taking the paper from him.
"Beverly, I wrote this…a long, long time ago on Betazed when I first met Deanna!" His face grew paler. "How…Could I have caused this?"
Beverly reached over and touched his shoulder. "I'm sure this isn't your fault, Captain," she said gently. He glared at her. "Beverly, I've known you for over a decade. Don't call me captain right now." She smiled at his candor.
"Fine. Will, you didn't cause this, and if you did…" Her voice trailed off as she considered the ramifications. "If you did cause this…I don't know what to do. We've got to get her to Betazed."
"What if I try what she did with Lwaxana? What if I get in her mind?" He asked, seized with inspiration.
With an emphatic shake of her head, Beverly refused his offer. "Absolutely not, Will. I cannot risk the captain of this ship."
"If you don't let me do this, we're going to lose her, Beverly. If this is what happened to Lwaxana, it's only a matter of time before this is permanent," he reasoned, his gaze straying to Deanna's form. "Dammit, Beverly, I share a bond with her. If anyone can get through to her, I can!" He asserted in frustration.
"Will, when Deanna linked with Lwaxana it nearly killed her and she is half Betazoid. You are fully human. I can only imagine what it would do to you," Beverly reasoned.
"No, you're going to find out what it will do to me," he informed her as he sat down beside Deanna's biobed and took her hand. He closed his eyes and concentrated on Deanna.
"Damn you, Will!" Beverly nearly stamped her foot as she watched him search for Deanna's spirit. His face seemed to glow and she knew he'd established a link. Then, his body sagged as he communicated with the empath.
'Deanna,' Will thought gently to her as he tried to reach out to her. 'I'm here. Find me…I want to help you, but I don't know how. I need your help. Please, don't die on me. Deanna…Imzadi. Help me. Come back to me, Dee.' He clutched her hand tighter as he searched for her. Suddenly, his body went limp and Beverly knew he'd found Deanna.


"Deanna?" A gentle voice asked as her eyelids fluttered open. Confusion lit her dark eyes and sadness infused their deep depths. She tried to smile at Beverly and their captain.
"What happened?" Deanna asked in a groggy voice. She struggled to sit up, and the captain slid an arm under her shoulders to assist her. "Thanks." The captain's gold eyes studied her before replying, "You're welcome, Counselor."
Beverly took another tricorder scan of Deanna and shook her head. "It appears you fainted, Deanna. You're stressed, fatigued, and tormented to the breaking point. Deanna, as the CMO of this ship I cannot allow you to continue under these circumstances. I'm removing you from duty, Dee." Beverly took Deanna's hand and squeezed it apologetically. "I'm sorry, but it's for your own good."
Stiffly, Deanna nodded her head and looked to their captain. "I'm sorry, Data," she said in a hushed voice unlike her usual serene tone. Data patted her shoulder. With an almost human quality to his voice he said, "No apologies are required, Counselor. The death of Captain Riker hit all of us extremely hard. Your current state is understandable. You were the closest person to him."
"I'd like to take a transport to Earth," Deanna said hollowly. Beverly looked to her with evident surprise. "Earth?" Beverly put her tricorder in her pocket and studied Deanna's harried expression.
"I need to get my bearings, but I spent too much time on Betazed with Will. Going there will only magnify my feelings. We never went to Earth together. I'd like to go to Alaska…spend some time with his father…share my grief with someone else who loved him." Deanna swung her legs over the biobed and stood up, steadying herself with a hand on the biobed. Data watched her as if he expected her to collapse at any given moment.
"We are a week from Earth, Counselor. When we are within transporter range, we will beam you down to the surface. There is no need to arrange passage aboard a transport at this time," Data informed her. Deanna smiled gratefully at the android. "Thank you, Data." Then, to Beverly she asked, "May I return to my quarters now?" Beverly nodded and remained silent until Deanna had left Sickbay.
"Thank you, Data. The last thing she needs right now is to be aboard a transport with strangers." Beverly smiled at their captain who merely inclined his head.


Part 2

**Just like the waves down by the shore
Keep coming back for more
Cause we don't ever want to stop
Out in this brave new world you'll see
All the valleys and the peaks
And I can see you on the top
You'll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me

"Will?" Beverly asked as he slowly opened his eyes and straightened from his relaxed pose. She ran a quick tricorder scan and found elevated neural activity in his brain, but with his recent telepathic communication it was expected…even normal.
He ran a hand through his disheveled hair, turned his head to see Beverly, and offered her a hopeful smile. "I contacted her…briefly. She's deep inside her mind, Beverly. Whatever she's hiding from, it must be painful."
"Lwaxana threw mind blocks up against Deanna. Lwaxana made it seem as if Deanna was reaching her, but was actually dealing with the mind blocks. Those blocks could take forms of anything…anything to distract Deanna from reaching her mother. Are you sure you reached her or what you thought was her?" It was crucial that they contact Deanna, not some ghost from Deanna's mind sent to protect her.
Will ran a hand through his hair and thought how to answer the question. He knew what Deanna's spirit felt like, and briefly, he'd felt her just out of his reach. "Deanna has formed her own reality…I think."
"This reality…can you somehow make her know it's not real?" Beverly asked, trying to come up with anyway to help her friend.
"I don't know. If I play along with whatever her mind has concocted, it might come to an end on its own. She'll know what the memories are, and she'll be able to deal with them." Will was grasping at straws and he knew it.
"How would you do that?"
"I have no idea," he sighed. "Dammit!"
Beverly was just as frustrated as he was by this. The news was not encouraging. If Deanna was determined to hide from her memories, she could embed herself so deeply in her mind, no one could reach her…not even Will. Stumped, Beverly crossed her arms and considered all treatments available to her while Will clutched Deanna's hand tightly. "No usual treatments are going to work, Beverly. You know that as well as I do," Will quietly said. "We have to get her to Betazed." He echoed the thoughts going through Beverly's mind and she stared at him in shock.
"Will, how did you know that's what I was thinking?" She asked, reaching in her pocket for her tricorder. He looked blankly at her while she scanned him again. "This is impossible," she breathed, studying the results.
"What? What's impossible?" He asked, reaching for the tricorder. Beverly closed it and dropped it in her pocket.
"Will, your brain is producing the same neurons that a Betazoid brain produces to gift the Betazoids with their telepathic abilities." He continued staring at her blankly, so impatiently Beverly explained, "You're developing telepathic abilities, Will. I don't know how or why, but you are."
His gaze strayed back to Deanna's still form and words from long ago echoed through his mind. 'The bond you and Deanna have created is stronger than life or death. No matter where you are, you will sense her presence and she will sense yours. Your soul is a part of her soul and her soul is a part of yours. Neither of you will be complete without the other. Your spirits will forge a bond neither of you can break. Your connection will enable you to speak telepathically only to each other…in time, if you two decide to complete the bond, you may even developed the ability to read each other's minds. With Will being human, it is highly unlikely he will be able to develop telepathic abilities, but in this day and age, anything is possible.' "It is possibly, Beverly," Will said slowly. "The bond Deanna and I share makes it possible…we were told that if we ever chose to complete our bond, then I could possibly develop telepathic abilities." His forehead wrinkled in confusion. "However, I understood that I would only be able to read Deanna's mind and vice-versa."
"Then, how are you reading my mind?" Beverly crossed her arms and mulled over a question. It was something she'd wondered for years, but never asked Deanna about it. She knew Deanna would answer her completely, while Will would dodge the subject and beat around the bush. 'Oh, hell, he knows what I'm thinking anyway,' Beverly thought to herself with a rueful smile. "Will, how much can you tell me about this bond you share with Deanna? The more I know about it, the more I can possibly help Deanna."
Will considered his answer very carefully. The bond was such a personal thing to both of them. Telling another person, even someone as close to Deanna as Beverly was, still felt like a betrayal. This was something shared between them and no one else. He rather liked it that way, but if it would aide Beverly in saving Deanna, he'd tell her everything. "The bond we share is known as Imzadi…on Betazed. It symbolically represents soulmates, but the literal meanings go much further and deeper than that. On the surface, Imzadi translates loosely as beloved…in its deeper meaning Imzadi means the first." He watched a spark of amusement come to Beverly's eyes and he felt his face flush. "It can represent the first person you've had sex with, but what it truly represents is the first person who you truly make love to. The best way I can explain it to you is the way Deanna explained it to me after we got together on Betazed. She said that other women may have had my body, but she was the first to ever touch my soul. I don't know if that makes sense to you or not, Beverly. It's more than a word…it's a feeling…a sensation. I don't know that it can be explained unless you experience it."
Beverly smiled lightly and said, "I understand, I think, what you mean, but I don't understand how it allows you to communicate with Deanna the way you do."
"Because I'm linked to her, Beverly. When Betazoids form Imzadi bonds, those bonds are for life. You cannot break that link…Betazoids who are lucky enough to find their Imzadi are almost revered among their society. They're given preference. Deanna and I are the first Imzadi couple in Betazed's history to not be married, but then again, Betazoids believe that Imzadi couples are married in a way no one can understand. That's why they're given preference. That's why they're so revered. My mind…my soul is linked to Deanna's. That's why I can communicate with her. That's why I can sense her presence. I'm linked to her." His voice grew a touch of frustration trying to make Beverly understand the impossible. Hell, sometimes he wasn't sure he understood the magnitude of what he shared with Deanna.
"Will, I don't pretend to understand what you're trying to say. I know what it's like to love someone so much that you feel like a part of you is missing when they're not there. If that's what you mean, then that I can understand. What I have to understand, though, is the biology in this link. Obviously, there's some metabolic link shared between your mind and hers. I need to find what allows that link to form."
"The link is already there, Beverly," Will reminded her patiently, almost patronizingly.
"I'm aware of that, Captain," she retorted tartly. "However, for you to go into Deanna's mind and find her, I need to strengthen that link."
"You can't strengthen the bond, Beverly," Will said softly. "Deanna and I are the only ones who can do that. Do all the medical research you want, but you'll never find a way to strengthen it. It goes beyond physical and emotional. It's spiritual."
Will's serious blue eyes met Beverly's tired ones. He tried futilely to smile at her, but his lips wouldn't cooperate. "Beverly, I would willingly give my life to save hers," he quietly told her.
"You may have to," she returned in an equally quiet, serious voice. He smiled at her and nodded. "I know."
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that, Will," Beverly commented sincerely.
A lazy grin fought its way across his lips and his eyes twinkled in amusement. "Keep talking like that, Crusher, and someone might think you actually like me."
Startled laughter came from Beverly, her blue eyes twinkling in relief. "Glad to see your sense of humor is intact. Now, I've got some preparations to make. Why don't you go get some rest? You're going to need it," she advised.
"All right," he agreed, turning swiftly on his heel and leaving Sickbay, however, he did not head for his quarters. He headed straight to Deanna's, determined to find the cause of her ailment.

"Data to Troi." Deanna sat up stiffly and hit her communicator. "Troi here," she said. Her voice was tired and her body was exhausted. Taking Beverly's advice, Deanna was trying to get some rest. It wasn't working.
"Counselor, we are within transporter range of Earth," Data informed her. Confused, Deanna glanced around her quarters to her chronometer. 'How can that be? I know I haven't slept that long,' she thought as she swung her legs over her bed and stood to her feet. The room spun and she shot a hand to the wall to steady herself. 'Oh Gods…I haven't felt like this since…' A smile touched her lips as she remembered. 'I haven't felt like this since that mission on Earth when I got drunk with Cochrane.' Her smile lingered as she studied her appearance in the mirror on the wall near her bed. She wiped away the mascara smudges and patted her hair back into place. Had she not leaned towards the mirror for a closer inspection of her face, Deanna would not have noticed the reflection of her nightstand in the mirror. Her forehead wrinkled. 'Did I rearrange my room?' She asked herself, looking at the nightstand. 'I know that wasn't there yesterday. It was on the other side of my bed. I shouldn't be able to see it.'
'We're within transporter range of Earth already, but Data told me it would take a week. Things in my quarters are moved, and I'm hearing Will's voice in my head. Now, either I'm going crazy or things are not as they seem.' Deanna mulled over both possibilities. As a trained psychologist, she knew the signs of mental illness, and she also knew she wasn't exhibiting those signs. As a very perceptive person, she knew something was not quite right about all of this. "If Will is dead, I should not be hearing his voice, and I definitely should not be feeling his presence," she said softly to herself. 'I know Will is dead. I saw his body,' she rationalized. "Or did I?"
Suddenly, her mind flooded with memories of being a teenager looking down at the body of Chandra's brother. They were playing mind games and practicing their abilities. Chandra and her brother practiced their telepathy on each other, while Deanna concentrated on what they were feeling. Chandra giggled and her brother became angry. "You're not suppose to probe my mind, Chan," he said to his sister in an indignant voice. Whatever Chandra had uncovered was embarrassing to him. Deanna felt his embarrassment acutely and her face flushed red along with his. Chandra giggled again and poked Deanna.
"I think my baby brother is embarrassed," Chandra teased, her eyes sparkling. Deanna smiled back uneasily. She sensed his rising anger and advised, "Chan, you really shouldn't probe his mind if he doesn't want you too."
"Yeah, why don't you listen to Deanna for once, Chandra? She's got more sense in her little finger than you've got in that over inflated head of yours," her brother retorted, rising to his feet and glaring at his older sister. "You know, you're only a year older than me, Chandra, yet you act like you're so much older than me and know so much more than me. When it comes down to it, you're just as ordinary as I am!" He yelled. Chandra's face flushed an angry red and she leaped to her feet.
Furiously, she yelled, "I am not as ordinary as you are! You're jealous of me! You're jealous that I'm the oldest, that I have more abilities than you, and you're jealous that I spend so much time with Deanna!"
His eyes glittered dangerously and Deanna rose slowly to her feet. The anger from her two best friends almost overwhelmed her. "Come on you two…Calm down. You really shouldn't fight like this," Deanna said paternally. Chandra rounded on her and glared. "You sound like my mother."
Deanna smiled warily and glanced towards Chandra's brother. His face still showed the redness of anger and his balled fists showed the frustration he felt towards his sister. Deanna reached a hand out to him, but he flinched away from her. "Don't touch me!" He hissed, glaring at the girls.
"You two are just alike!"
"If you hate me so much and Deanna and I are just alike, then why are you in love with her?" Chandra taunted. Her brother froze and Deanna's jaw dropped. He turned around and looked to his sister with a killing glance. "I can't believe you just said that," he said in a lethally soft voice as he stalked back to his sister. "Is there no place in my mind you can't read? Why can't you stay out of my head!" He roared. Chandra flinched and he reached out to grasp her cheeks. That's when Deanna screamed and time seemed to freeze.
"NO!" Deanna's voice seemed to echo over the planet. The force of her emphatic plea fell on deaf ears, but knocked Chandra and her brother off their feet. Chandra looked to her with shock. Not only had her voice rang through the air, but through their heads. Then, she looked to her brother and saw him lying not too far from her. His hands clutched his head and his eyes were glazed. Chandra crawled over to him, her head aching, and she leaned over him. "Deanna," she said in soft shock. Deanna fell to her knees and moaned, "I didn't mean to."
"Deanna…Gods…" Chandra jumped away from her brother's body and looked to where Deanna crouched on her knees with her arms wrapped tightly around herself. She rocked back and forth while chanting the same mantra over and over. Confused, Chandra wrapped Deanna in a tight embrace and whispered comfort to her. Tears fell from both girls' eyes as they fixated on the body laying a few feet from them. After a while, Chandra pulled herself together and sent a thought cast to her parents and they came running outside. She tearfully explained what happened, taking all the blame upon herself.
"Deanna was trying to get us to stop arguing," she quietly told her parents. "It was my fault."
"I killed him," Deanna whispered. "How did I kill him?" Her sorrowful eyes look to Chandra's parents and they smiled sadly at her. They explained to her what happened when the strongest of telepaths issued emphatic warnings like the one that Deanna had issued. Lwaxana was one of the strongest telepaths on Betazed. It was only natural for Deanna to inherit some of her mother's abilities, but enough to kill someone with a thought?
"Gods!" Deanna exclaimed with the memories overwhelming her. They almost drowned out her mother's voice explaining to her that she had not killed Chandra's brother by herself. His anger towards Chandra had aided, and his self-hatred had definitely contributed. It did little to comfort the young Betazoid she'd been then or the adult she was now.
'I helped kill one of the people closest to me,' she thought, sinking to her knees. 'Oh Gods…Will shouldn't have gone on that Away Mission. I should have stopped him. I knew better! I should have agreed with Data when he tried to force Will not to lead the Away Mission. He's the captain of this ship!' Tears scalded down Deanna's face and she rocked back and forth on her knees. 'I have to get out of here! I can't stand this anymore!' Determined to put an end to her misery, Deanna jumped to her feet and ran for her door. The doors slid open and she bolted down the hall into a turbolift. "Cargo Bay 4!" Deanna instructed the turbolift. It began moving slowly to her destiny. She tapped her foot impatiently and a wild look came to her eyes. Will's voice echoed throughout her mind again, and she put her hands to her ears in a futile attempt to stop the gentle pleadings of his mind.


"Will?" Beverly asked, startled by his sudden appearance in Sickbay. He wore a determined look and walked purposefully. "What is it? Did you find something?"
"Yeah, I found something," he said grimly, holding out a hologram for her. She took it, activated it, and then looked to him with confusion.
"So, it's Deanna with some of her friends on Betazed. I fail to see what this has to do with her condition," she said, handing the hologram back to him. He sighed and placed the hologram on a table. "I contacted a friend of hers back on Betazed…the other girl in this picture. I think I know what caused this, Beverly."
"What did she tell you?" Beverly's eyes sparkled with hope as Will began relating what had happened in Deanna's quarters to her.
The doors to Deanna's quarters opened easily with my access code," he began, recalling what he'd done after entering her quarters. A smile came to his face, noting the immaculateness of her quarters, as he strolled casually into her bedroom. The dark, midnight purple bedspread was slightly wrinkled where she had sat before collapsing. "Damn, there's nothing here," he'd said, frustrated by this futile search. He sat down on the bedspread and dropped his head to his hands then he noticed it…the edge of a hologram sticking out from under the bed. Curiously, he reached down and grabbed it. Holding it with one hand, he activated it with the other and the image sprang to life. He recognized a young Deanna Troi along with two other teenagers approximately the same age as she appeared. With some scrutiny and brain wracking, he identified the other young girl in the holo as Chandra Xerx, but the identity of the teenage boy in the picture remained unknown.
"Computer! Priority One message to Betazed to Chandra Xerx!" Will called out, punching a few buttons and accessing Deanna's communication terminal. He tapped his fingers against the desk, waiting for Chandra to answer the message. It took five minutes, but it felt like eternity before Chandra's blonde beauty filled the communication's screen. With one look at him, she knew something was drastically wrong.
"Will?" Chandra asked, conveying more emotion with one word than most people could convey with a thousand. "What's wrong?" She noted his disheveled apperance, worried eyes, and fatigue lines.
Saying nothing Will held up the hologram and activated it. Chandra gaped at the holo and her face paled considerably. "Will, where did you find that?" She demanded in a stunned voice.
"Deanna collapsed several days ago, Chandra. She was found lying in her quarters after she missed an appointment. The officers who found her noticed she was reading a poem…reminiscing. Dr. Crusher has the poem in her office…it was one I wrote to Deanna years ago. We're going to try retrieving Deanna in a little while by going into her mind. Specifically, by me going into her mind and trying to find her, so I came to her quarters this evening to see if I could find a clue as to what else caused her collapse." Will's eyes studied Chandra intently. He knew she was holding something back…without trying to read her mind.
Tears welled up in Chandra's eyes, she attempted valiantly to repress them, but one trickled down her cheek anyway. She took a moment to compose herself, then quietly said, "The picture is of Deanna, my brother, and myself when we were teenagers."
"Your brother!" He exclaimed. "Chandra, I didn't know you had a brother!"
"He died the day after that picture was taken," she replied softly. "He and I were practicing our telepathic abilities while Deanna was practicing her empathy with us. I…I did something I shouldn't have done and probed his mind without his permission." A wistful, nostalgic smile lit her face as she thought back. "He hated when I did that, and that day it made him angry. We got into a fight and Deanna tried to make us stop arguing. We ignored her and the argument escalated. I said something I shouldn't have said and infuriated my brother. For a moment, it looked like he was going to hit me and Deanna screamed no…He…he died."
"She killed him?" Will's face went white. There was no way Deanna had killed him, but Chandra affirmed his worst fears with a slow nod of her head.
"Deanna's plea rang through our heads. My brother hated himself and when Deanna's cry rang through his head, something snapped. Will, I don't know how to explain it to you. It was an accident. Deanna had no idea she could do that…none of us did. It's a rare occurrence, but it does happen when a strong telepath issues such an emphatic cry."
"Chandra, Deanna isn't a telepath," he said, confused completely.
"But, her mother is one of the most powerful telepaths on Betazed. Deanna inherited some of that ability. Will, it's so uncommon for something like that to happen…Sadly, it's one of those things that just happens. Usually, the person has no idea they have the ability to do something like that. Deanna just didn't know. We were kids," Chandra completed quietly.
Will thought back a few days, wondering why Deanna would go reminiscing, and going over the events of each day. Suddenly, he came erect in the chair as he recalled a rather heated discussion between her and him on the bridge. They'd argued over his desire to lead a particularly dangerous Away Mission, and she'd become furious that he wouldn't listen to her. He recalled her face reddening and her fists balling, but just as quickly, her face paled and she darted from the bridge. He had led that Away Mission, and nearly lost his life, just as Deanna had predicted. 'If she thought I was going to die, would she come back to her quarters and pull out reminders of times we had together? And, if she heard our communication to the ship to beam us up immediately because things had gone very wrong, would she assume something had happened to me? And, if she did assume something had happened to me, would that spark her memory?' His eyes met Chandra's, and he knew she knew what he was thinking. He cocked an eyebrow at her and she slowly nodded. "It's possible, Will. If she thought you were dead, she might have blamed herself for your 'death' since she couldn't convince you to stay on the ship. That could have sparked her memory."
"Working on that hypothesis, what do I do?" He asked. His eyes pleaded with Chandra to help him…to help Deanna. She smiled softly at him and answered, "Go into her mind and find her, Will, but do it before it's too late."
"Thanks Chandra," he said quietly. "I'll let you know how things go."
"I'm counting on it," she returned, ending the communication.

"And, that's what Chandra told me," he finished. Beverly's eyes sparkled. Now that they knew what caused this to happen, they had a better chance of retrieving Deanna. "All right, Will, if you're determined to do this, I can't stop you." He smiled at her and with energy he didn't have and optimism he didn't feel, he slapped his knees and stood to his feet and added a sparkle to his voice. "I'm ready."
Beverly smiled and waved a hand to the biobed next to Deanna's. "Lay down and relax, Captain. I have some preparations to make and readings to take. Do not try to contact her until I get those readings, Will. I have to have those readings," she said firmly. He nodded as he lay down. His eyes closed and he began the breathing exercises that Deanna had taught him so many years ago. Within minutes he felt relaxed, and he began expanding his mind to find Deanna's. Beverly took her readings, attached a few electrodes, then sighed, "All right, but at the first sign of trouble, I'm bringing you back." Slowly, he nodded his head as he began his search for that one familiar thread where Deanna's future dangled. When he found it, his soul clung to it and his mind entered hers cautiously avoiding any mind blocks in place to protect her.


Part 3

**Remember me when you're out walking
When snow falls high outside your door
Late at night when you're not sleeping
And moonlight falls across your floor
Where I can't hurt you anymore
You'll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me

The doors opened to the Cargo Bay and Deanna slowly walked in, sure in what she was doing. It was the right thing to do. With a squared, determined shoulders she walked to the Cargo Bay control panel and typed in a code. The doors of the bay opened and Deanna walked to the edge where the ship met space. A forcefield protected her from the vacuum of space as she stood there, staring out with wonder at a universe gone so wrong. Tears welled up in her eyes then fell down her face without her noticing. "Computer, deactivate forcefield," Deanna said hoarsely, her voice sounding like someone else's. A flicker of light danced across the opening and the forcefield was deactivated. Deanna took one step closer to space, the toes of her shoes sliding just beyond the safety of the ship. The doors to the Cargo Bay opened and Will skidded to a stop at the sight before him.
"Deanna?" He walked very slowly in the Cargo Bay. The doors shut behind him and she looked to him with wild eyes. He held a hand out towards her, quickly read what was on her mind, and walked towards her with careful steps. The last thing he desired was to drive her beyond where she stood on the brink of death. She murmured something incoherent then turned from him, her toes sliding a little farther to space. "Deanna, this is all a dream. Your subconscious is doing this to you. I'm not dead, Dee. Look at me," he quietly requested. She continued staring out into space. "Deanna, nothing happened to me on the surface. Nothing happened to any member of the Away Team. We experienced difficulties with the atmosphere of the planet. Had we remained there, we would have died, that's why we beamed up under emergency transport. Please, Deanna, look at me," he begged.
Something in his voice penetrated the cloud around her and she slowly looked to him. He smiled reassuringly at her and said, "I know what happened to Chandra's brother, Deanna. She told me. That wasn't your fault. You cannot be held responsible for something out of your control. You didn't kill him, and you didn't kill me. You were only trying to get Chandra and her brother to stop fighting, and you were only trying to make me see the danger in that Away Mission. Just because we didn't listen to you doesn't make you a murderer."
"But, Chandra's brother died because of me," she said brokenly, tear streaming down her face. Will took a few more steps towards her, closing the gap between them a little at a time. "I killed him, Will!"
"Deanna, it wasn't your fault," he explained gently, still closing the gap with a few more steps to where she stood. "You didn't do it on purpose. You couldn't stop them from fighting, and you couldn't stop me from going on that Away Mission. We all suffered consequences from our decisions. I could have died on the surface along with the rest of the Away Team, and Chandra's brother died because of senseless argument with her. None of that is your fault. You were only trying to get us to listen to you."
Finally, he stood directly in front of her and extended his hand to her once more. She looked at it then at his face. The pain and terror she saw in his eyes further penetrated the cloud around her and her hand began reaching out to grasp his. "It wasn't your fault, Deanna. Please, take my hand and we'll go home," he promised her. Their fingertips touched and Will inhaled a deep breath as the rest of her hand slid into his. He took her hand and clutched it tightly as he pulled her away from the cargo doors. She fell into his embrace, tears scalding his shoulder, and sobs wracking her slender body. Will held her tightly then raggedly ordered, "Computer, activate Cargo Bay forcefield." The forcefield flickered back into existence and Will slowly sank with Deanna to their knees. She clung to his body as a drowning person clings to a piece of wood floating in a dark abyss with a light shining in the distance. He comforted her as best he could while she sobbed. Later, he coaxed her to stand, and with one arm around her waist and the other holding tightly to her hand, he led her from the Cargo Bay. Once in the corridor, he stopped and smiled at her. "Let's go home," he said. Deanna smiled a watery smile and followed him away from the Cargo Bay.


"Dr. Crusher!" A nurse exclaimed as Will shook his head and tried to sit up. Beverly hurried to him and forced him back down.
"Easy Will," she advised, running a bioscan. Neural activity was slowly returning to normal and his brain was producing the neurons that gave him his brief telepathic abilities at a slower, more tolerable rate. If he retained any telepathic powers, it would be minimal. Beverly smiled at him.
"You're going to be fine," she assured him.
"Deanna?" He asked, licking his lips to wet them. He turned his head to Deanna's biobed and saw the nurse talking softly to her. Beverly turned to Deanna and smiled. "You've had us awfully worried, Counselor," Beverly remarked to Deanna as she took a bioscan. "How do you feel?"
"Awful," Deanna replied quietly, turning to meet Will's gaze. "But, I have a feeling things are going to get better very quickly," she softly said. Beverly snapped her tricorder shut with a smile and turned to confer with her nurse. Will's arm snaked off his bed towards Deanna's biobed, and her arm followed in suit. Their fingertips brushed lightly then their fingers intertwined tightly.
Recovery would not be easy and dealing with her new memories would prove difficult, but one thing her subconscious had conjured up did prove true. She had found better love…stronger love, and she did remember what she left behind in the past. Her memories couldn't hurt her anymore, but every once in awhile she would remember what happened, then Will would appear, take her in his arms, and hold her tightly, and she would smile as those memories faded into the background of her life as new and better memories came to take the place of the painful ones. She would remember, but she would remember with a smile and life would go on.

** Lyrics from "Remember Me" by Tim McGraw, copyright 1999. No copyright
infringement is intended!