Title: Breaking Glass

By: Zoey


Death would come easily now. It is such an obscure idea to many young cadets, but at a

young age Will Riker vowed to face death without blinking. Now several years later, his

composure did not surprise him. He was ready to conquer the knowledge that over a thousand

of his fellow crew men would be killed under his command. A small second and then there would

be nothing but death. He waited. Everything was swirling, falling into the depths of the abyss, but

nothing touched the poise of Will. It was not a facade or an attempt for the commanding officer

to hold everything together. He simply did not feel anything sitting in his captain's chair. A small

absurd thought came across his calm mind. This is easy. He waited for the turbulence of rage,

pity, God, maybe even poetry, but it did not come. A vacuum. He had no demons to control or

emotions to repress. Nothing.

As soon as he became accepting of his emotionless existence, a jolt struck; a small, female hand

clasped around his wrist. The touch was not a light movement he was used to from her body, but it

was a demanding grasp. For an instant, he thought, no, this is not right. She should be telepathically

relaying something to my mind. Then he knew. She didn't have to. It was not necessary. They were

connected by her fingers moving from his wrist to the top of his hands. His eyes completely focused

on her hand until his vision became blurred. Then he responded by turning his hand so their fingers

interlaced. Now the feelings came: the sorrow, the pain, the anger and most of all the regret of things

not said. They all rushed in reaching a depth he had never experienced. The panic reached him.

This, I cannot control.

He flew upright in his bed. A dream. Will Riker now remembered it was a dream. He wanted

to go back to it. He couldn't really explain it to himself, but Will merely wanted to be back in the

dream's reality. Why? He questioned himself. That was not a pleasant dream, but a nightmare.

Then he realized, it may have been a hellish moment, but at least in that world he felt all emotions.

Will felt alive and ironically, he felt real.

A quote echoed in his head "Time is a companion who goes with us on our journey, and reminds

us to cherish the moments of our lives--because they will never come again." Will needed to feel

these emotions. He needed to feel these connections. He needed to feel her fingers interlaced with


Riker thought, I have walked this path before. How can I control the emotional turmoil that

affect your mind and soul? How can I recover from the abyss that I face every time I think of her

walking out that door?

He suddenly remembered a personnel file he recently reviewed about a young ensign's

promising career severely hindered by his inability to act. And he smiled, as much as Riker hated to

admit it, he was stricken with the same disease: an inability to act.

He laid back with his fingers interlaced behind his head. A silent room made him nervous.

Now, there were no distractions. He had to deal with the idea of her. Usually, he would brush it

aside and work on reports or assignments until sleep came to him. Tonight was different. His

dream forced him to face possibilities. He wanted her in his life, part of his spirit, part of his being.

Separate individuals, but always together. Always connected. Riker was surprised by the clarity of

these thoughts. These were not simply convoluted, abstract ideas or even capricious feelings.

No, it was painfully a lucid statement of truth. Truth that encompassed the center of his being.

Words were echoing in his head. His words. Believe blindly. Truth. Risk everything. Leap of


"Computer, locate Counselor Troi."

Chapter 2

Deanna Troi was not on the ship. With a brief conversation with Captain Picard and an

equally succinct message to Starfleet command, Deanna Troi was on her way home. She knew it

was hardly becoming of her role as Counselor to avoid say goodbye, but most would understand.

Most would understand, echoed in her mind. I didn't say goodbye to him the first time and I'll be

damned if I do it now.

Besides, she reasoned, for all of them, it was a time of decisions and relocations. Worf made

his decision. He was taking Alexander home. Worf's government needed him and he needed to

be around the community his heritage provided. She remembered the awkward scene when he asked

her to come with him. She did not immediately answer, but she had chosen to examine Worf's

feelings. Deanna sensed his sincerity, his need for her. But she also sensed Worf's defensive nature

takes over. "You are probing my feelings, Deanna." Worf immediately felt invaded. She was not

surprised by his feelings, Klingons often reacted defensively to this form of her empathic ability. She

smiled to put him at ease and answered, "You know before I begin speaking. I have a life I need to

find and so do you."

She was simply tired. Not tired of her work, but a draining of her spirit. Her sense of center

was beginning to fade and she needed to be rejuvenated. A homecoming, the most basic of all

therapies would bring her in alignment. By no means was her Starfleet career over, at the end of

her hiatus, she planned to request assignment with Captain Picard. He was comfortable and she

had learned to rely on the easiness and respect of their working relationship.

I'm avoiding the question and the answer is subconsciously, at least, woven into all my

decisions she thought. Where will you be? Will, where will you be?

Last night, she dreamed of the time Romulans locked phasers onto the Enterprise. A simple

twist of fate landed Will in the Captain's chair next to hers and Captain Picard leading the away

team. She remembered how quickly she accepted the certainty that death was seconds away. As

destruction approached, she almost unconsciously, placed her hand onto Will's wrist.

She could feel nothing from Will until she touched him and then she read the intense surge of

all his emotions he had held in check. An overwhelming feeling of regret engulfed his spirit. She

felt the panic of his mind frantically search for words, thoughts, actions anything that would touch

her. Make her understand his need for her. She sensed his sharp pain of regret for not saying it all

before. Suddenly, peace came and he felt balanced. The search was over and there was need for

only one word, Imzadi.

Deanna knew that everything would be right again. She couldn't explain it to a logical soul,

but she understood. Imzadi was the one of the few words that would bring peace to death.

As the danger passed and the phasers failed to destroy their ship, Deanna could not pull her

hand away. Will looked at her hand and slowly raised his head. She knew it was okay. She knew

and after a lingering pause, he removed her hand.

Last night's dream made everything real again. She relived that moment on the transport ship

as she closed her eyes and rested. It's strange, she thought, Will and I have so many memories of

each other and I choose to think about that particular one. Why? Deanna questioned. Perhaps, it

was because that memory was one pure thought and one pure emotion. At other times, Deanna and

Will both had a multitude of emotions running though their souls, desire, love, jealously, lust. But

in this one moment when death was near, their spirits cleared away the temporal and left the eternal.


Deanna smiled. She remembered first explaining the meaning of Imzadi to a young Lt. Riker.

She did the best she could by explaining the literal meaning of beloved. Then trying to describe

the layers this word portrays, but it was difficult because an one word definition does not cover

the vast connections this word is to Betazoids.

It is a difficult concept for any other race to understand and many Betazoids believe that

humans could never understand. But Deanna knew this belief was untrue, for her human father

understood. He was her mother's Imzadi.

Deanna remembered as a young girl asking her mother, "How could Daddy be your Imzadi, he

wasn't a Betazoid?" Deanna recalled her mother's usual jubilant facial expression change to

something she hardly saw. It was a seriousness that Deanna only experienced a few times with

her mother. She recalled Luxanna's slowly delivered words. "I will tell you the story and you will

remember it. When you fully understand it, the meaning will be obvious and you'll never ask that

question again." Her mother paused and probed the young girl's focus.

"Your father and I had just met at a Betazoid delegation dinner. I was feeling

restless that night. The chaos of emotion he evoked in me was at war and I could not find any

peace. I became angry. Angry at him for creating all these conflicting emotions. As I was about

to excuse myself from the table to get away from this man, something stopped me. His eyes.

Little one, you have those eyes. Those eyes gave me a sense of calmness, a peace that I had not

experienced before. In my mind, I called to him. Imzadi. His expression changed slightly, if you

weren't paying close attention, you have missed it. He gave me a soft questioning look. I

dismissed it, because I had always believed humans could never understand such a Betazoid

concept, much less hear my telepathic call. Your father silenced my doubts. A minute after the

dinner ended, he walked up to me and asked me what the word Imzadi meant. He heard me in his

mind. He heard me. I took his hand in mine, and he forgot his question, and then he knew."

Just as her father knew thirty three years ago, Will Riker knew. He heard Deanna the first

time her conscious and unconscious merged to call him Imzadi. To Will, that Betazoid word

was not merely referring someone as beloved, but it was a permanent state of being sealed to her.

She closed her eyes and sought Will's mental state. She could sense his anger, hurt and, yes,

amusement all mixed in a final resolution of acceptance. He found out I left, she thought. He

knows I can never say goodbye.

Chapter 3

"Come." Picard stated without lifting his eyes from his computer screen.

"You requested to see me, sir" Will began without waiting for Picard to acknowledge his


Now, Captain Picard did look up and slightly frowned. He did not like losing officers, Worf,

Deanna and now, Will. "Starfleet has issued your orders, Number One" Picard was used to Will's

easy going nature, but it was not present in this conversation. Something's wrong, Picard knew,

but respected his first officer enough not to ask.


"It seems Starfleet reassigned you to a station just outside the neutral zone. Your assignment

will be to establish and oversee a new security team while a permanent officer can be found. This

colony is vulnerable to Romulan attack and they have no defense system of their own in place."

"Grounded." Will sighed. "Not exactly a promotion, is it?"

"Not exactly permanent, Number One." Picard said poignantly.

"Understood, sir." He could not help feeling a sense of failure. Crashing Starfleet's prize ship

was not one of his best career moves.

"This too will pass, Number One." He recalled his own experience when he was not in the

good graces of Starfleet. It was remarkable how similar their situations were. He felt as he was

watching himself after the Stargazer incident.

Will straightened out immediately, he did not intend to show his emotions to his Captain. "I

know, sir. Patience has never been my strong point." He smiled.

"We will meet again, Will." Picard thought of the many futures that Q allowed him to

experience, the one constant was the his crew was in every scenario. Picard did not know if he

believed in fate, but it seemed his future was determined to cross paths with Will again.

"I will count on that, Jean-Luc." Will gave him his child like grin and stretched out his hand.

Picard shook it and Will turned and strode out the door.

Changes cannot happen without pain. Deanna told him that once. Deanna. He knew Worf

had left for his home land, but he did not know how Worf and Deanna had left things. Could

Worf and Deanna now be together in every sense of the word? Will's mind suddenly flashed with

an answer, No. The quick response shocked him and he had to question it immediately. Was the

definitive answer in his mind a form of denial, an intuitive feeling he had just experienced or was it

Deanna's answer he heard in his head? Impossible. He and Deanna had not communicated on

that level for a long time.

Despite its infeasibleness, he stood for a moment and savored the feeling of having her

telepathic reply. He missed having Deanna silently enter his thoughts. She once told him many

non-Betazoids feel violated when telepathic communication is used. That surprised Will, it was one

of the few times he felt at peace. A pure sense of Imzadi.

"No" Deanna said. A few people on the shuttle craft turned and looked at her. Her smile

quickly put them at ease. She said nothing else to Will. A few minutes earlier, she had cleared her

mind and tuned completely into Will's thoughts. It was not difficult. After spending seven years

in close proximity with Will, it was second nature to her to be feeling his thoughts. She rarely

noticed it and often she had to block his feelings because they were so pervasive and complete

that she found it difficult to concentrate on anyone else's.

Strange that she could still "speak" to him telepathically. She never could explain why and how

it worked, but in some rare moments, she was able to reach Will's mind. Mostly, it had been when

they first connected on Betazhad, but at times, she found on the Enterprise that she could reach that

part of Will's spirit. As a trained psychologist, Deanna should have analyzed why could still use

telepathy with Will now, but she choose not do so and simply savored in the fact that she could.

Serves him right to be confused, she thought. Deanna smiled one of her greatest pleasures

came from throwing the first officer of the Enterprise off guard. He didn't ask when I was with

Worf, why is he asking now? Because, I left, she thought. It was fine when they were working

together, because although they hide behind the guise of friendship at least they were connected at

some level. Even when she was with Worf, Will's pain was eased by the fact that Deanna was still

around him. But now, their relationship was not clearly defined. It could not be altered at the

whim of either one of them. Now, there were obstacles each had to face to reach each other.

The carrier would be provided her transport back to Betazhad. She would have to make

several stops along the way, but Deanna did not mind. She did not intend to spend much time

socializing on this trip. This was journey of spirit to find her center of calmness. Will and his

devilish grin tended to disrupt her sense of peace, lightening in her calm skies. She recalled a fellow

classmate words when a young Deanna asked advise about the Lieutenant Riker. "A sense of

calmness is contrary to really living life. Only the chaos makes you acutely aware of how precious

life is. The battle, the struggle, the pain makes the love you feel alive and real." Maybe, I don't want

to feel alive now, she answered back to her memory. Maybe, I just want to be.

Deanna stepped off the deck and found her assigned quarters. She needed to remove herself

from others. Clear your mind Deanna. She heard the voices in her head. Clear your mind. Find

your center. Find your calm. She found a comfortable place in her quarters and sat completely

upright. Deanna tuned her physical sense off self for several hours and intensely focused on her

spirit's center.

Riker flipped his screen away from him. He was in no mood to concentrate on studying a new

culture. Zoenia. His new assignment. Starfleet sure knew how to "punish" you. Will thought.

This was a job an ensign could handle. There was no threat from anywhere specific and the only

reason Starfleet was posted there was because it was a planet on the corner of one of Starfleet's

protective Zones. There was no movement in that area for the past sixteen months and the threat

was minimal. This "temporary" assignment was designed for the sole purpose of keeping Riker

within arm's reach until Starfleet wanted him or more specifically, until they could convene his

court martial hearing.

Zoenia. The computer described its philosophy in one phrase "feeling is first." According to

the computer, the Zoenians lived every moment based on feelings. No logistics or intellectual

thinking. Feeling is first. Great, Riker thought, sounds like a bunch of unruly children. Their

language was minimal and they communicated through some form of telepathy.

Riker stepped out of his briefing room and went to find the Ensign that escorted him here.

"Ensign Wilson, ready to escort you to the conference room, sir." announced a young voice.

Will stepped back. He did not expect this young petite girl to speak so firmly and loudly. Riker

had forgotten the loud eagerness of a young Starfleet Officer. God, he was never that young.

"Ensign." Will acknowledged with a quick nod. He followed the slim girl down a long white

nondescript corridor. The girl had a long stride despite her petite size and his tall frame, he had

trouble keeping up.

The door hissed open and Will entered a small conference room similar to the one on the

Enterprise. As Riker walked in, a uniformed officer stood. He seemed a bit shaky and hesitant as

he tried to straighten his shoulders and looked Will eye to eye.

"Lt Commander Dexter, sir."

"Mr. Dexter, what is our security status?"

"At this point sir, no new threats have been made. The Zoenian head council has been briefed

on the threat, but frankly sir, they do not seem to care or at least they do not seem to pay much


Will's brow arched. "Do not care?"

"Yes sir." Wills surprised reaction left Lt. Dexter nervous. The young Lt. did not know how

to adequately describe the Zoenian race. They needed to be experienced and not described, he

firmly resolved.

Will waited for the Lt. to go on and realized he had to be coaxed to do so. Riker sighed. He

was used to the Enterprise style of management or, more accurately, Picard's style of

management. Will had come to expect his fellow officer to freely offer their opinions and theories

and not have to be prompted to do so. "Why do you suppose they do not care, Mr. Dexter?" Will

said in a very Picard-like voice.

A surprised Dexter began, "It is part of their philosophy sir. They do not like to plan for the

future. Carpe Diem, I believe is the Latin phrase."

"Do not like to plan? How did they survive as a race?"

"I do not know in the years before space travel, but now they are mostly an outpost for

travelers. Some come to get their energy read."

Will's eyes demanded some sort of explanation.

"Most Zoenians communicate only through touch. The have to be holding your hand and I

suppose it is a combination of empathy, telepathy and, if you ask me, mysticism. But many

believe that Zoenians have the unique ability to answer all questions."

Will grinned. "Sounds interesting, Mr. Dexter."

"It certainly is."

The transport ship had to make an unexpected stop on Zoenia. Repairs they said.

"Computer, give me what information you have on the Zoenian." Deanna had never met

people like the Zoenians. Their whole philosophy was based on living for the moment.

Deanna then turned her attention to case studies. A lost Zoenian was once placed in a

Starfleet holding facility until transport could be found. The next day, Starfleet officers found him

dead. The Zoenian simply could not fathom the idea of tomorrow. He only knew what he saw

and felt in that moment. He could not understand that he would be sent home soon. Today, he

was imprisoned and today, the Zoenian decided, he would die.

Feeling is first. This philosophy was not easy on an empath like Deanna. She hoped that she

would have the skill to filter out their intense emotional patterns.

Strangely, there was a sense of order on this planet. To anyone but the Zoenians, this world

was constant turmoil of feelings, but to the Zoenians this turmoil created harmony. Deanna could

sense this, this world found its place and existed in an order of chaos.

Wonderful, Deanna thought I wished we had stopped on the Vulcan's home land. There at

least all their emotions where under strict control and I could relax. Here all I will be doing is

trying to tune out these people.

After hours of reviewing and repositioning of the security teams, Riker found himself with free

time. Time. The enemy of a man who is not at peace with his life. He need to get her out of and

maybe explore Zoenia. He needed to do anything to occupy his mind.

Curiosity had been one of Riker's most appealing qualities when facing new beings. He

constantly wanted to learn about new cultures. Perhaps, that was one of the reasons he never

accepted the constant offers of promotion. Accepting the captain's seat meant not leading the

away teams. He knew that Starfleet was not happy with him. Denying promotions is a kiss of

death for many officer's careers, but to him a chance to seek new cultures was just as important.

He would have never said that as a junior officer, but a lot has changed since then. At this age,

Riker was starting to feel that priorities were shifting. The problem he faced was where to go

now? What was important to him now?

He stepped out from his compound to kill time by meeting and mingling with Zoenians. This

should be interesting. Who knows, maybe he could scrap up a poker game.

The first thing he noticed was the silence. It wasn't and eerie mysterious silence, but it was

part of the daily environment. The silence somehow fit in perfectly almost like a church session

with no preacher. He looked around and spotted a man at what seemed like a musical instrument.

However, Riker did not hear any sound. The Zoenian's eyes, mouth, face looked as if he was

completely concentrating on playing his music, but there was no sound.

No one seemed to pay any attention to him. Riker slowly walked up to him with the intention

of discussing Zoenia's form of "music" and then he stopped dead in his tracks. The man was

entirely naked. Okay, Riker smiled, so this is how they are. He was amused at the picture he was

seeing a naked man with his eyes closed and pounding what Riker assumed was a key board.

They don't pay me enough to figure this one out, he thought to himself. Then he decided to

step into what he supposed was a local cafe and there he was happy to see that many Starfleet

personnel were there spending the afternoon.

"Commander Riker, over here." He was surprised that anyone knew who he was, so he

walked over to the young ensign that called him.

The young ensign answered Riker s questioning look. "You don't know me, but I recognized

you." The ensign quickly stood up and shook Riker s hand, "I'm Ensign Tommahan, please join


"Ensign, good afternoon." Riker sat comfortably in the unoccupied seat.

"Cmdr. Riker this is Jimilli."

"Jimilli." Riker tried to pronounce his name as the ensign did and as he looked down at the

table Riker noticed that Jimilli had his palm on top of the young ensign's forearm. He

remembered Zoenians communicate through touch. He reached out to shake Jimilli's hand, but

the Zoenian did not respond to Will's gesture, instead, he quickly placed Riker's hand on top of

the table and Jimilli placed his hand on top of Riker's.

Ah, this is one is too old to live and young to die. It was a strange sensation. Riker never saw

this Zoenian's lips move, but he felt the words.

"Makes sense." Riker replied under his breath.

Duality, never does, said the Zoenian again in his mind.

Riker looked at Ensign Tommahan. "I know its strange at first, but you will get used to it.

Listen, I have to go on duty. Goodbye, Jimilli and Commander it was my pleasure finally meet the

first officer of the Enterprise." He shook Riker's free hand.

"Good luck, Ensign."

"You re going to need the luck, Commander." The ensign laughed as he walked away.

Riker turned back his attention on the Zoenian. " How do you know what I am saying if you

can't hear me?" Riker remembered his research included the fact that Zoenians did not possess

auditory or vocal senses.

That is easy, replied Jimilli. You see every word and thought has an energy. A distinct

energy, as distinct as what you humans call DNA. I read these energies by touch. Some Zoenians

can pick up these energies by merely being in your presence, but most need to touch the person.

There is never a language barrier, because what you hear in you mind is a sort of energy wave that

your thoughts can convert into language.

"Can you pick up all my thoughts?"

Some, but my focus is on the thoughts you want to communication. You humans convey one

sentence, but I can read the layers and nuances that the sentence implies. You have experience

with some sort of telepathy before, you are very receptive to it.

"Yes, I have". Riker said simply

It was a pleasant experience. One full of meaning and light. Full of promise. Did that promise

come to pass?

" No, it has not."

Ah, petty details get in the way.

"I wouldn't call a career a petty detail."

There are feelings there William Riker. Feelings are first. Do not slight them. When you can

feel, at that moment, you are nobody but yourself. Pure. Nobody else. You can live again work

again breathe again. You have no one else's life. When you feel, you are an unique spirit. Seek

to break that wall and kill the enemy you call strength. It fools you. It is not strength at all. The

wall makes you weak and hidden. You create the wall when someone asks for a your raw and

whole feelings and you deny them entry. You can see for the wall is glass, but yet, you deny them

an entrance, a crack. Give your soul. It will never to be returned, but it will thrive. Otherwise, it

will be destroyed.

Will looked decidedly uncomfortable. Yeah, this was all interesting and beautiful, but what the

hell was this Zoenian babbling about? I am fine. There was nothing wrong with me, Will

defensively thought. "Look Jimilli, I don t mean to be rude, but I did not come here for a reading.

I came on assignment."

Too old to live; to young to die. Then, the Zoenian made a very decisive and abrasive move.

He broke the connection with the human and walked away.

Will felt the cold shudder come to his toes and slowly crept its way up his body. "A spirit has

walked over your grave, Will Riker." He remembered that saying from the old self-proclaimed

guardian of his village. His father called the guardian a crazy man. Stay away from him Will, his

father constantly said, he is full of insignificant nothing. That warning intrigued the rebel side of a

young twelve-year-old and he never missed a Sunday afternoon with the old man. "Spirits

walked besides you everyday, Will. Do you see them? They are alive and dead. Looking at you.

Breathing your air." In the old guardian's hovel, the boy was sure he saw his mother's spirit

holding his hand, breathing his air, kissing his cheeks. The old man knew the need in the young

Riker was strong and consumed him. The guardian made sure the spirits danced around boy's

presence. And the young boy's need never went home unfulfilled.

Will felt a touch at his fingers. He glanced down at the table and he saw a hand barely touch

the tips of his fingers. Deanna's hands. He knew them anywhere. Just when he was sure her

hands were solid, alive and real, they disappeared.

A strong sensation that happens to only the very well-trained empaths engulfed his mind. In

some place beyond logic and reason, he knew its meaning instantly: Deanna is here.

Deanna did not feel comfortable exposing her empathic abilities on this planet. She completely

blocked them until she could establish a painless link between her empathic abilities and the

intense feelings emulating from every being on this planet. It was as if every emotion was more

vivid and felt for all its nuances and depth. No feeling was brushed aside nor one not fully


A chime that sounded like Mr. Homm's dinner bell went off in he quarters.

"Who is it?"

"Ensign Brook." She recognized name of the young officer with a boyish grin on the

transport with her. Deanna sensed his eagerness and she was sure that he wanted her to recount

stories of the famous Enterprise.

"Come." Deanna said softly.

"Counselor Troi."

"Yes, ensign."

"We wanted to invite you to have a drink in a small cafe There will be a handful of us

together and we would be honored if you would join us. I know it is short notice and I'm sure

you have other plans, but just on the chance that you didn't, I thought, I should stop by and ask.

But I'll understand if you say no. I mean being the, an officer on the Enterprise, I'm sure you have

a lot to do."

Deanna had to smile. "Slow down, ensign. Slow down." She thought for a brief instant.

Why not? Being in the company of such young officers might lift her spirits. She surprised

herself, "All right, ensign."

"Thank you, counselor. I'm sure that they will all be thrilled that you're coming. Thank you."

He started to walk out of her quarters.

"Can you tell where the cafe is, Ensign Brook?" Deanna smiled.

The ensign was thrown off by Deanna remembering his name. "Oh, um, I'm sorry. I know I

seem a bit nervous. I will wait outside until your ready and then I'll take you there."

"Perfect. Thank you for the invitation."

"No, thank you. See you soon."

He walked off and Deanna smiled after him. He reminded her of so many young officers she

had to evaluate. This ensign would make it far, Deanna knew. She recognized the look. She saw

it in the Captain and she saw it in Will Riker. He would sacrifice a lot and this young man would

make it.

Will wasn't sure of what to make of it. He knew what he felt, but was it Jimilli manipulating

his thoughts and feelings? Will distrusted himself now. He was seeing things. Wasn't he? How

can he see Deanna's hand if they were not there? To Will, that hallucination proved he couldn't

trust his feelings. How could he sense that Deanna was here? It was impossible she was on her

way to Betazhad now. She was not here. He was sure or more accurately, his logical side was

sure. The sense that Jimilli called pure was whispering, shouting, praying in Will's mind. Listen.

She's here.

Jimilli had thrown his sense of balance off. It wasn't his intention to go find out if his intuition

was accurate. He decided to stay in the cafe and he motioned for a drink.

If Will wasn't sitting squarely, he would have fallen from his chair. I was right. He thought, as

his eyes followed her movements. This was not a hallucination, she was real. She was here.

Those three word continued to repeat themselves in Will's mind. He needed to be convinced.

Deanna could not block the emotions that Will was experiencing. She looked up and saw him.

There is a moment that silence fights with the chaos of the world and wins. This was that moment

for Will and Deanna. Silence. A secret world of silence where two souls stand facing each other

in an unsheltered plane.

If someone had asked, Will could have sworn that it took Deanna a whole earth hour to

walked over to his table, but it merely took a brief explanation to her companions and a short

stride to his table. He stood.

"Hello." He said simply.

"Hello, Will." She smiled. It was absurd that they could be so simple and unamazed at the

fates that turned to bring them together. "What are you doing here?"

"A temporary reward courtesy of Starfleet for destroying their prize toy."

Deanna smiled at his sarcasm. "I'm glad to see there is no resentment in your voice, Will."

"None. I've always had the highest respect for Starfleet's disciplinary actions." He paused

and marveled at her face. It had been a week since he had seen that face. "What are you doing


"My transport had to land for unexpected repair. They should be off soon."

"Then you are off to visit Luxanna? She should be very happy to see you. I'm sure the

reports that reached her were somewhat exaggerated."

"Yes, I know she's anxious to see me. I've contacted her several times since the accident, but

she still wants to see me. We should have a nice quiet visit."

"With Luxanna? She will have every available bachelor on Betazed waiting when you arrive at

your home."

Deanna smiled. "I can handle my mother." We sound like polite strangers, she thought.

"I know you can."

The conversation had died leaving Will with a choice. Should he ask the question? Should he

break the wall of politeness and ask? He was sure Deanna felt the uncomfortable air between

them. This tension was never there before Worf. He wanted to blame Deanna for the strange air

that existed between them. His mind and anger was rising. What did the Jimilli say? Feeling is first.

What can I do? What can I change? Nothing. She left Worf. When all was said and done, she left

Worf and Deanna's choice to leave killed his rising fury. He did not need to know why and how

Deanna and Worf were together in the past. That question did not need an answer.

But a question still lingered. To ask it would surely mean a shift, a change, an exposure. He

wanted to ask so many times before, but didn't. His voice sounded to him as if it was heard

through a com badge, slight, deliberate and distant. "Why did you let him go, Deanna?"


"You let him go for the same reasons I let you go. A Starfleet career. Don't you see

Deanna?" He paused and then decided to go on. "It was me. Tom Riker was me."

She turned her head and looked straight ahead. This is ridiculous, he is blaming me for

leaving Tom Riker? Absurd.

"You can't answer me. Can you?"

"You re blaming me for leaving Tom?" She asked incredulously. "I always thought you

wanted me as far away as possible from Tom."

"I know this sounds illogical. I've always wondered what would have happen if I met you on

Risa. You must know that. Tom Riker was my answer. At every major point in our lives, we

have paths to choose from. Most of us never get to see the life of the untaken road. Tom Riker

let me see that life. And he answered the question, what would have happened if I came to Risa?

You made the same choice I did. You left Tom Riker for a career."

She understood now. "And in some way, you feel as if I left you." She did not know how,

but it made sense. "It leaves us where we started. Back to Risa, only I'm not there now."

"You can be there." A plunge into the abyss breaking the darkness that seared through his

mind and traveled to his soul.

Imzadi. Deanna never knew who said it first, but it was there. She reached her small delicate

hand and placed it palm up on the tiny table that separated them. Will Riker without a moments

hesitation put his palm to her palm. Fingers did not interlace, but rather it was the soft sensation,

soft pressure of things to come.

Will slowly brought his gaze up from her hand to her face. Those eyes. Nothing matters, but

those eyes. He heard that. Where did it come from?

It came from her atoms mingling with his atoms, as basic as that. Were words needed? Yes,

but not now. The moment between two souls coming home transcended vocabulary.

Reality began charging into the space of silence they had created for a moment and then the

secret silence was broken by Will's voice, "Why do we make things so difficult, when the answers

should be so easy?"

He didn't want her psychological answer. Deanna knew that, so she didn't answer him

knowing it was entangled in the complexity of their lives, in the goals of their careers.

Somewhere, Will knew that Tom Riker had the answer. He knew priorities were changing in

his life. Today, Will Riker would have been on Risa. Worf made him face that. A Klingon, a

friend, brought him closer to valuing connections.

Deanna sensed the shift in Will's emotions and finally said with a half smile. "Things become


Riker gave her his roguish smile. "They do?" he asked with a sarcastic smile. I've never heard

that one before, counselor."

Deanna said immediately. "It wasn't a psychological response, Commander Riker."

It was difficult not to fall back to the easy casual roles they were familiar with. Friends. But,

Deanna broke the easy routine they were about to embark on. She casually lifted her hand away

from his and placed it on her lap.

"Sometimes I wish I never saw you again. Remember those first days we met. If I never met

you again, those moments would be clear and pure, frozen in my memory. We should have left it

that way. A memory intact with the intense passion of those first moments we had together.

Nothing would have contaminated that memory for me. Not Risa nor the Enterprise. Not Tom

Riker. Not Soren. Our relationship would not be convoluted with the realities. I could hold to

our pure state forever. Perfect without the reality of this world. Remember that time, Will?"

Deanna paused and looked up to meet his eyes. "It was like we were the only two in the world.

Oh, I know that is an ancient concept, but it felt like only our universe and time stood still for

those few days. Our secret world colliding with no other reality"

"And now?"

"Now. It is so mixed Will. Our lives have overtaken that reality. We know each other so well

now. It is not a pure moment in my mind. It is mingled with every other moment, both good and

bad, we have spent together."

"I don't think that is a terrible thing, Deanna. We cannot live in that one particular moment.

Time passes and destroys perfect moments."

"Don't you sometimes wish we parted without promises to see each other again?"

Will paused and studied her face. He didn't need to be an empath to understand that Deanna

was sincere in her belief. "I couldn't do that Deanna. I meant what I said." He stopped. She

needed to understand. "I wanted to marry you."

"I do not doubt that Will. I know you did. It just would have been easier."

"Okay, what do you want to do?" he asked incredulously. "Pretend we never met? Pretend

this is our pure undiluted moment? No history. No past. We meet now for the first time and

then part?"

Deanna smiled. She played with the idea in her mind. It would end up the same. "We can't

play games, Will."

"So, what do we do?"

"Part." Deanna subconscious refused to met Wills eyes. The counselor in Deanna forced her

to look back into them and convince him of the validity in her reply. Was that her truth? "My

God, you're serious?" At that moment, more than any other, Will knew just how much he had

hurt Deanna. "I can't do that. I am not the same man that hurt you. Things changed for me. I

am not the 27 year old Lt. who wanted to beat Kirk's record. I know the importance of people

and friends. And I want more than that now. I want more. Don't you?"

"Of course, I want more."

"I should say, do you want more with me?" Will saw Deanna's hesitation. "You don't believe

me because of Risa?"

"I thought I was the empath."

"Not this time, Deanna. Don't avoid the question."

"I can't answer, Will."

"If not now, when? When? Fate has brought us together, not once, but twice. It absurd, but

you are here. I knew you were here, Deanna. You know what that feels like." He paused. He

wanted her to understand. He, knew that an empath always understands, but Deanna was

different. He needed to say the words. "I can't rely on fate again. I want to know. When can I

ask the question, Deanna?"

"I know that you are ready for more, but just because you're ready Will Riker, doesn't mean I

am. You have had some sort of enlightenment, but I haven't caught up. I mean less than three

weeks ago I was with Worf. Give me a time to breathe."

"You don't need to remind me of that, Deanna. I knew that every day for the last year and a

half." He wanted every sharp word to cut. Rationally, he knew she felt his pain, but he couldn't

resist reminding her again. You need to calm down, he told himself. He took a long breath, "You

decide. I want you in any way, even as friends." Just as Will had convinced himself that he could

handle Deanna as just a friend, he heard something. In the back of his mind, in the depth of his

bones, he heard it. Crack the glass.

In a matter of seconds, Will's look changed from a soft request to an intense demanding stare.

"No. No, Deanna. I am wrong, I don't want you as a friend. I want you body and soul. I'm

sorry you can't deal with that now, but I know. I know. I want an answer ever time my spirit

calls out to you. I want to be able to see you laughing at me when I try to play "Night Bird." I

need to be there to protect you when you're scared and stand by you when you're strong. I want

to wake up in the middle of the night and reach next to me and kiss your sleeping eyelids. I want

to dance with you at our wedding. Our wedding. I want to hear you sing to our children the

songs your father sang to you and hold you when the memories of him become too strong.

Deanna, you already have a part of my soul, why can't you take all of it?"

The sound Will heard was the glass wall chipping and falling in pieces around him. Each piece

making a clear, distinct, deep sound as it hit its reality. The truth as plain to see. He stood in this

unsheltered place waiting for her to choose to be there with him. Choose Deanna, he silently

prayed, choose.

Deanna did not want to choose. "Please, don't do this."

He didn't change his tone. He simply said, "I have to."

Deanna sensed his vivid and intense direction, "I know you do and I can't."

"So that's it?"

She heard herself say it, but at that moment she wasn't sure it was her voice. "Yes."

"I will not stop you, because I know."

What did he know Deanna instantly pondered? She dismissed that question as quickly as it

can to her. Of course, he knew. Will Riker always knew Troi, Counselor Troi, Cmdr. Troi, Little

One and simply, Deanna. He always knew.

Will decided to grant Deanna's unspoken wish and he smiled to lighten the mood. "For being

an empath, I am doing pretty good tonight A new career, don't you think?"

"You couldn't handle it. All you senior officer want a room with a view."

"Ah, the sacrifices we counselors must endure." He smiled and allowed the silence to finally

come to the table. He sat directly in front of her and stared into those eyes that had so often

taken him away from reality, but not this time. This time even her eyes couldn't save him. The

chaos of emotion rose in him and just when he was sure he couldn't take it anymore, he stood.

Deanna eyes moved up to see his face. The pain he was feeling began relentlessly pounding on

doors deep inside Deanna. She refused to hear the knock. She tried quickly to surmise some

center of control. Dammit, she cursed, I am a highly skilled empath, I can filter out Will's

emotions. His feelings. She tried and failed. To break this bond, Deanna would have to undue

layers of spiritual connections they had shared. For a brief instant, she recalled a quote she read in

a Starfleet text, "You can never fully appreciate the strength of anything until you try to destroy

it." More than ever, Deanna now fully comprehended the intense connection Will shared with

her. And as impossible as it seemed to her, tonight, her sense of Will Riker became stronger.

And even the highly specialized Lt. Cmd. Counselor Deanna Troi couldn't severe the connection.

He needed to touch her and with one ever so slight movement his hand barely skimmed her

face. He looked at her one last time and then walked out of the lounge.

He didn't turn back to see her.

Deanna's movements were slow for there was no need to move quickly. She slowly placed the

tip of her fingers on the rim of her glass. She stared at her hand and asked herself, how do I feel?

Good, her defenses instinctively answered, Good. I can handle this. This will not overtake me

and create panic in my life. Being with Will would bring chaos and changes, now without him, I

can have peace. It s better that he's gone, now everything is clear and defined. No, ambiguity or

risks. With Will gone, I can be in complete control of my future.

Will walked into his cabin and instructed the computer to luminate the small quarters. He did

not feel like sitting in the dark, as he usually did when he spent time thinking. He wanted a

well-lighted room. He remembered how he instructed Data that love always held risks: risk of

loss, risk of annihilation of who you are. A part of Riker was missing tonight and he tried to

connect it again, but now, he had to reconstruct a new place where he could live without her.

He knew it was his gift to her to walk away. His natural instinct told him to stay and fight for

her. He knew if he pushed hard enough, Deanna would have chosen, but he gave her the gift she

wished for; he walked away without forcing a choice from her voice. His mind was filled of

images of her: Deanna sitting demurely in her counselor pose, Deanna trying to suppress a grin at

his Captain Picard impression, Deanna concentrating on Will s face to see if he was bluffing at last

month's poker game, Deanna's hands, her hand as she softly touched his hair, the side of his face,

his eyes, his lips.

Goodbye, Imzadi.

Will Riker suddenly was aware that he had never spoken those two words in the same

sentence. It wasn't right. It wasn't the way it was suppose to be. That phrase felt like a weapon

he turned on himself and it produced unforgiving waves of pain. With every emotion crashing

down on his mind, he completely breathed in the intense pain those words carried. You asked for

this, he told himself, now deal with it.

If Deanna heard him, her subconscious suppressed the words entering into her thoughts. The

farewell to her Imzadi was never felt. Her wish came true and she did not hear the power of that

tiny six lettered word.

Deanna did not want to be around this public areas in case she ran into him. Better to leave

with the last impression implanted in our minds than to create a scene, she thought. She slowly

stood and was surprised at how disconnected she felt to her own body. She was an entity trapped

inside a body, watching herself standing, putting one foot in front of the other, and walking to her


Deanna wanted a dark room where she could find some peace.

"Computer, lights off."

Chapter 4

Deanna assumed that this was a typical Zoenian morning. She stepped into the daylight and

was accosted by many male and some female Zoenians. Some grabbing her hand, but most

communicating telepathically and asking her strange requests. Can I kiss your fingertips? Can I

sing a song to your mind? Tell your demons to please be quiet?

Garbled messages entered her mind all morning. Deanna cleared it and concentrated on her

mission. She needed to find the quickest transport to Betazed. According to her communique

this morning, her original transport was going to be grounded until further notice. So, this meant

a different way home. The bureaucracy of Starfleet requested that Deanna go to the nearest base

and take the next available transport back home. Of course, that meant she might see Will, but at

least they could be civil to each other.

She entered the compound and found a young ensign manning the post. "Ensign, do you know

where the next transport to Betazed leaves."

"Yes, Lt. in about an hour. You can wait here." He motioned to a room full of

approximately 20 people. There were mixed races and cultures all trying to find a way home.

"Thank you." Deanna walked into the waiting room. The only seat left was next a window

that faced one of Zoenians suns. She did not want to be blinded by the sun, so she sat down and

turned her head away from the window. The feeling that something was wrong laid deep inside

her and overtook her physical self. Saying goodbye to Will. He would be here. No matter what,

he would be here to see me one last time. Why am I leaving? She questioned herself. Because

he left me no choice. It was all or nothing last night. And I don't think I am ready for it all.

Deanna was so deep in thought, she did not realize that an old Zoenian had come to sit next to


You are a telepath, he said

Deanna was shook into reality by his interruption. "No, I am an empath." She replied

verbally. At that moment without Deanna realizing it, the Zoenian placed his hand on her hers. "I

am half Betazoid. So, I am very receptive to telepaths."

My name is Jimilli. I know you. I have felt your name in another's soul. Another human's soul.

"That could only be Will Riker." She said without any emotion.

The Zoenian ignored Deanna's answer. Suddenly, his face completely changed and he looked

off into the distance. The change in his face was amazing as Deanna observed. His eyes glazed

and his whole body looked relaxed. He slowly turned his head to face her and Deanna was not

sure what she recognized in his eyes. Was it a face of a man facing a final demise or was it a face

of someone who saw a peaceful sunrise? The ambiguity was striking. Can you hear the spirits

sing? Jimilli asked her.

Deanna knew that questions were the best way to confront a person not based in reality. "Do

the spirits sing to you?"


"What do they sound like?"

They are silent.


How can I explain? The demons sing to me silently. You can sense the highs and lows. Your

breath is pulled inward as the melody reaches full climax. But there is no music. Silence. Your

eyes close and the demons dull all senses. Only the part of the soul you call hope knows the

music is there in the dark abyss of silence.

Deanna knew this was a word game full of innuendos and misconceptions, but her curiosity

was peaked and she decided to play, "When do the lyrics become audible?"

When a small fracture in the glass allows strains of notes to be heard through the silence. He

looked at Deanna knowing he had her undivided attention.

"Then, shatter the glass wall." Deanna reasoned.

You think to big. All of you think too big. You believe that big bangs are what changes the

world. For you, there needs to be a death, an explosion, a massive force to break the wall. But

that is not so. Small moments. Small movements always crack the glass wall. It all begins there.

She thought of the image of the glass. She knew what it meant. The sides where drawn. The

wall blocked Deanna's deepest fear to lose control to love. To allow another to completely hold

you with no inhibitions, no restraint. So pure. The wall that kept herself away from vulnerability.

How many times has she said to others that vulnerability is the beginning of love?

Listen, Deanna. Came the plea. She wasn't sure who said that. Was it the old man or her own

spirit pleading she would listen?

You see now? From the chip comes the shattering of the wall. You must allow the crack, but

you can never break the glass alone. This world is made up in pairs. My half must shatter the

glass. That clear plane is where love resides. One's not half two. The two are halves of one when

the glass breaks. The music makes them one.

Deanna was frozen in a memory of her father sitting comfortable with a old book in his hand.

How did he know? "My father used to quote that from an earth poet. The two are halves of one.

" She wanted to hear the music. "What do the lyrics say?"

Let your mind go and your body will follow.

To any logical soul, Riker could never explain why he needed to find Deanna and say

goodbye. They had said their peace last night, but his feet carried him farther than his mind. And

he did not think. He simply felt. He felt ever atom of his being propelling him forward. He was

nobody at that moment, but himself. Only a Zoenian could understand how Will Riker walked

straight to that room and found Deanna.

"Deanna, I couldn't leave without saying goodbye." He smiled as a memory echoed in his

mind. "I've said that before to you, haven t I?"

Deanna moved her head away from Jimilli and slowly looked up. She felt as if she had been

woken abruptly from a dream. A heavy drunkenness had evaporated and all she could see was his

face. It was Will.

"Deanna, what s wrong?"

"Nothing, I m sorry Will. It s nothing. What did you say?"

Will would not let it go as nothing. "Deanna, what is it?" He looked next to her and then he

noticed Jimilli. As Will was about to ask him a question, Jimilli stood and walked away.

"Yes, I m okay."

There was nothing else to say. Will did not feel like filling up the silence with meaningless talk

and Deanna seemed to be in her own reality. So, he simply sat next to her and did not say a word.

They sat there for almost ten minutes without a word spoken or a thought communicated.

Shoulders were slightly touching, but no more and no less. She did not look into his eyes, but she

closed them and turned to face the blinding light of one of Zoenia's suns. She did not turn away

this time, but rather made sure her whole face was feeling the sun's warmth. The sun's strength

went beyond warming her face, it went to the deepest part of her soul. Every pore drinking the

warmth and Deanna simply concentrated on the sensation that enveloped all her senses.

Now, the sense of dread hand been evaporated. Will was sitting next to her. In that world, in

that plane, Will's presence was all that mattered. What did Jimilli say? This is where love resides.

It surprised Deanna because it was not an overwhelming powerful surge of love, but rather, it was

a lucid, undiluted feeling. The purest thing that came close to it was the day that Deanna spent on

the beach of France. One early moment on a deserted beach, she took off her shoes and began

walking barefoot on the sand. All other senses, sight, sound, emotions merged and concentrated

on the feeling of the sand. It was if her whole body and mind existed to only feel the sand, the

caress, the quiet peace. Nothing else was alive.

This is the same plane Deanna now existed, except the singular sensation she felt was the love

concentrated on one man sitting next to her, barely brushing against her shoulder.

Will noticed that people were moving onto the transport. "Deanna, you have to go now."

Every word he spoke was like a bell that rung her into reality. As she stood to get onto the

transport, she felt a slight pressure of Will's hand on the small of her back. Ever so slightly, his

hand gently directed her to the transport.

Will's hand guiding her.

Small movements.

Small motions.

You already have a part of my soul, why can't you take all of it?

Two are halves of one.

The next sound she heard was the glass breaking. A truth spoken in the spring as the music

kissed her lips. Her mind slipped and glided against her other halves soul. Then she heard the


Then tears now came. She stood in this unsheltered place that love called its home. Will was

waiting for her here.

"I'm not going, Will." In the fraction of a second, a simple statement spoken changing the lives

of two people forever.

Will recognized it and didn't say a word. She was where she belonged. Facing Will Riker in a

plane without any walls. The future was clear now, he didn t have to ask why, where or how. He

did not have to ask any questions. They both knew the important answers. He stood facing

Deanna as people walked past them boarding a transport headed for Betazed.