Epilogue to Imzadi
Author: TrekkieForever
Summary: The ending of Peter David's book 'Imzadi' bugged me- I wanted Will and Deana to get together right then, not later. That's what I always want. Anyway, I decided to write out a (to me) better ending. Hopeless Riker/Troi sapfic, only read this if you're a sucker for romance. That's all it is.

Author's Note: I wrote this late one night when I couldn't sleep. I think it's pretty good, and I want y'all to read it and review. I know I screwed with the canon (I don't like- no, I hate- Worf and Deana, so I apologize to all you shippers) but I really don't care. This just appealed to me. I apologize for the crazy way the //'s and *'s are done, but notepad refuses to italicize anything. You guys can figure it out. Now, see the nice little box at the bottom of the page? Fill in the blanks and click 'Submit'. I will be forever in your debt, and you will get a warm happy feeling inside.
Anything in //'s is telepathic communication, or a dream. The *'s are memories. You'll be able to tell the difference.
Read on!
* * *

//"Deana!" Will Riker cried as he ran in the direction of Deana's quarter's, heart thudding //loudly in the silent corridors. And then, in his mind, /Imzadi!/
**"She's going to writhe on the floor and beg you to do something, and all you're going to do is watch her suffer massive circulatory collapse and die! And it's not going to be until that moment, you purblind idiot, that you realize she's the better part of you!"
//Trembling, Riker dashed into her quarters and saw exactly the horrifying sight he'd expected- //Deana, lying on the floor, convulsions shaking her- only he was too late...
//"Imzadi!" she whispered, voice shaking. "Help....me...please..."
//He knelt, cradling her, and pulling out the bottle of antidote his other self had given him. Riker //struggled furiously to remove the stopper, but it was stuck. Her eyes were clouding over, and //he didn't think she could see him. "Imzadi," she whispered again, her voice shaking now more //than ever, "Please...help me...help..."
//"I will," he said desperately, still struggling with the bottle. "I promise I..."
//But she didn't hear him. The breath rattled once more in Deana's chest and...she was gone.//
Will awoke tangled in his sweat-soaked bed sheets, still trembling. /Imzadi!/ he called out almost instinctively, wanting nothing more than to see her, feel her, hold her.
/Will?/ she sounded startled. /I'm coming to your quarters now./
That was odd. Their bond only allowed communication like that- in words- when they were physically close or extremely emotional. Well, he decided, his current state certainly qualified as extremely emotional. The dream came rushing back to him, and he shuddered at what had almost been. If he hadn't listened to his older self when he had...
The door chimed. Startled, Riker responded, "Come," before he thought of how he must look, tangled up and sweaty as he must be.
"Will? I heard you call and..." Deana trailed off as she surveyed him and his room. She must have been awakened from sleep, for she wore her nightgown with a thin, almost sheer robe slipped on over it. Neither garment was particularly modest, and Riker very carefully focused his gaze on her face.
"What happened?"
"Uh...er....well, you see..." Riker trailed off. There was no way he could explain what had occurred without humiliating himself completely, or worse, going on to discuss things they'd long agreed were buried and over.
"Yes?" Deana managed to look composed, even though her hair was in complete disarray, her eyes had circles under them, and she was wearing only a thin shift and nightgown.
"It was just a nightmare. You can go back to sleep." Suddenly Riker wondered whether she'd been asleep at all. She had certainly gotten there quickly, and responded almost instantly to his call, and there were those smudges under her eyes... "You weren't sleeping, were you?"
She shook her head, blushing. "I was thinking about things. What Will- the older Will- said to me, what he did."
"Ah." Riker nodded. He had so casually opened up topics they had kept inside for so long.
**"You idiot. You're choosing the tidy, easy path instead of the more difficult but ultimately **more rewarding one. You aren't even smart enough to know when you have a good thing."
Abruptly realizing he was still in bed, Riker got to his feet and managed to disentangle himself from the sheets, and pulled on his off-duty uniform from earlier. He felt heat rise in his face- not because he was embarrassed, she had seen more of him than this- but because of what they were talking about while he was dressed like this.
"What sort of nightmare?" Deana pressed, sitting down on the edge of his bed. He joined her, carefully not touching her, not even a casual brush against her leg as he sat. The contact would be too much for him to take.
"It was about what happened earlier," he admitted. "When he told me you were going to die if I didn't go to you. I've never been so afraid in my entire life."
She looked away. "When- when you gave me the antidote and tried to convince me to drink it, you said, â€-If you ever loved me, drink it.' I tried, by the way. But it was stuck. You see, I did love you, once. And when you came rushing in there, so terrified for me...I realized something. Sort of."
Riker bit his lip to keep from speaking. Don't push her, he told himself. Not now.
"I never stopped loving you. I swore I was over it, that it had been a fling. But when I held your older self, I realized that the feelings had never gone away. I was just deceiving myself. I'm in love with you, Will Riker." She took a deep breath. "So, now I've bared my soul to you, it's your turn. What was the nightmare about?"
"What could have been. What almost was. You. That's about it, but it scared the hell out of me."
"And why was that?"
"And just as I cannot imagine how I survived a past Without you I cannot imagine a future Without you.
"He quoted that at me, and told me he was the future without you. Deana, I don't want a future without you. There would be no purpose for me at all. He also told me that I wouldn't realize until too late that you were the better part of me. But I got a second chance. How many people have that? I don't want to waste that, Imzadi. I want you to let me love you again. I love you, and there's no way you can stop that, but I want you to hear me say it. I want to hold you in my arms again, and, yes, I want to make love to you again. I love you, and I never want to love anyone else, or try to."
He didn't realize until the end that there were tears streaming down his cheeks, dripping into his beard, and generally making him look a fool. Riker started to wipe them away- and saw Deana. She was crying, too, but hers was the sort of silent sobbing he'd seen in her once before, in the Jalani jungle. Without thought, he put his arms around her, holding her against him as he had then. She shook in his arms, and he soothed her, murmuring sweet nothings in her ear. Finally she looked up and kissed him.
It was like few of their kisses before. They had done it often enough, of course, but now it was like they were new lovers again, just learning about each other and themselves. It made Will want to laugh, them acting like kids again- but he was too busy kissing her as he'd never kissed anyone in his life. Desperately, as though this were his last chance.
/Imzadi,/ she murmured in his mind. /I love you. Never leave me, love./
/Just as I cannot imagine how I survived a past /Without you /I cannot imagine a future /Without you
/It still applies, Imzadi. I'm yours, now and forever./

I hold you close to me. Feel the breath of you, and the wonder of you And remember a time Without you But only as one would remember A bleak and distant nightmare. And you shudder against me in your sleep Do you share the memory with me of dark times past? And you smile Do you share the memory of times to come? The future holds such promise And just as I cannot imagine how I survived a past Without you I cannot imagine a future Without you. Imzadi.