Time In A Bottle



If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is so save everyday till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
"Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce


Ever since Admiral Picard had contacted the Titan last night, and invited the crew to join in his archaeological dig, I had this tingling sensation. Some may simply brush it off as intuition, but if you know me at all, you know it is more than that.

I have lived my entire adult life with these moments of knowing and yet not knowing. I sense that things are not as they appear, but what lies beneath the surface is sometimes as much a surprise to me as to anyone else on board the ship. Sometimes I hit it square in the chest, right at the heart of the matter. Therefore I'm useful to Starfleet. It is handy to have a counselor that can tell if at least half the species she deals with are liars, murderers, or just innocent by standers.

The Dominion War left much in doubt as to whom was on what side and why. It was devastating. It was devastating to be an empath and deal with the betrayals, the deaths, the pain and misery that come with any war. This war was so personal when it reaches into your home and snags your family in its net.

A Betazoid is part of the planet Betazed, as awkward as it sounds it is as it is. We exist in total harmony with our planet. You have to if you exist as either a telepath, the majority of the people, or an emapth, the other one percent of the planet's population.

Every living creature exudes some kind of essence. It may be why we don't chop down entire forests for building spaces. It's difficult to explain to an outworlder, like my husband. Captain Riker is protective of me to the point of distraction. I understand. He was once a skeptic, a true doubter of anything he didn't experience himself. However, time and experience in a space ship made for exploring new and different life forms can change anyone's outlook. I think it did his outlook, although I like to think I had something to do with that too.

I enjoy his protective stance, most of the time. We have had many heart to heart discussions on our relationship. As imzadi, you really can't set boundaries when you know the true feelings of each other. Due to these circumstances we do not always go on away missions together, there is always the possibility that one or both of us will be distracted by the other at the worst possible moment. Now that Will is Captain, his away missions are as limited as the First Officer can make them.

This trip to Betazed is different, we will both go; both of us are looking forward to seeing our old Captain, the now Admiral Picard. He is finally following his heart's desire to become involved in archaeology and anthropology. His life's course as it seems is in the past. And this particular archaeological site is my home planet, I am intrigued and at the same time there is that tingling sensation.

I'm pacing in front of the portal in our quarters watching as my home planet begins to loom in front of me. I have only been back for a visit twice since the clean up after the war. It had become too heart breaking after Mother's death. Will and I have my young brother on board the Titan, he is with friends in the holodeck now. Mother's death was hard on him, but being a young boy we thought and hope that having him away from the destruction, away from the memories of all that went wrong, he would learn to overcome his nightmares.

He is, slowly.

I may take him down to the planet after we visit with our old friend, Jean-Luc. I'd feel better about the whole visit if this feeling or trepidation would vanish. Will is certain it is from the experiences of the clean up after the war. I hope that is all it is.

I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder, I jump, but know immediately it is Will.

"Where were you that you didn't sense my presence? On the planet?"

I turn to smile at him. "Here and there. I was torn between my thoughts of the planet and the holodeck."

"We made the right decision. He is fine where he is I just checked on him. Are you ready to go?"

I nodded and together we go to the transporter room to be beamed down.

The sight that greeted us was a bit strange, although having never really been to an excavation site while it was being worked on was an unfamiliar setting. I could sense excitement in the air, for me it was as strong as smelling a well-known odor is to humans.

We look around the busy workers for someone familiar to us. Will has climbed up a great mound of dirt and spotted a large group of people. We are heading in that direction.

"Ah, Will, Deanna! Why didn't you let me know you were here?' Picard warmly embraces each of us. "I want to explain what we found a bit before showing it to you." He smiles warmly, "Deanna, this is something that we don't see often, and because I think it will have special meaning to you, I want you to see it before we do anything more to the site."

I could sense his anticipation and the warmth of his smile relaxes me.

"Admiral, what do you mean do anything more to the site?" Will never understood the Admiral's enthusiasm with the past.

"The Betazed government wants to preserve this finding. It represents a strong tradition of your people Deanna."

We follow closely behind Picard to clearing with a large canopy; on one side of the canopy are portable chairs and small tables, on the other side a larger table with equipment and in a corner an antique outdoor heating unit. On the heating unit sits a teapot. The Admiral poured tea for each, then hands a bottle of vintage Scotch for Will to add to his tea.

At Will's surprised grin the Admiral smiled, "I always knew you weren't a fan of Earl Grey. This will make it go down smoother."

I marvel at the Admirals remarkable restraint, I could sense his anxiousness to tell us why he wanted us here and to get back to the site, yet he was building on the anticipation by taking this time to feed our curiosity.

We sit on the portable chairs holding the tea as the Admiral took a sip of tea before beginning, "This site is approximately eight thousand years old. We found it as we were looking for the palace thought to belong to First House of Betazed." His eyes never look away from mine. He knows he has my interest.

I gently urge him on, "And is that what you found Admiral?"

He smiles knowingly, "Not yet anyway. Deanna, what we found is of interest mostly to your people. However, it is of personal interest to myself, and those that know you two."
I could feel Will's concern and interest skyrocket. "Why is that Jean-Luc?"

The Admiral is looking at his as though deciding how to go about sharing his information. He stands, I sense he has come to a decision, "Perhaps it would be clearer if I show it to you now."

Will and I exchange a glance, Will shrugged his shoulders but quickly takes his place closer to me as we follow the Admiral. We stop and look down into the area they are digging.

"What are they digging around?" I am not quite get the jest of what we were examining that would move the Admiral as this has.

"Look closely at the top of the mound they are digging around, Deanna. What do you see?"

"Bones. They are skeletons?"

"Hmm from this distance you don't get the impact of what they represent. Come down." We climb down an incline where Admiral Picard signals a young man with a gravity lifter.

We all manage to climb onto the small platform holding on to the rails on its side as it swings over toward the mound. It stops beside the mound where the bones rest. I reach to the mound and gently touch the bone closest to me. The dead do not talk, but the essence of their death may talk for them. From atop the floating platform's vantage point it is evident that the two bodies were embracing each other at the time of their death.

Will's hand was around my waist as I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "Imzadi… they were imzadi. They died in that embrace."

"How do you know that Deanna?" Will's eyes were filled with concern.

"Because of how they are holding each other Will, see the arms of the female are around his shoulders, and her legs are on either side of his. He is holding her face to his face." I take a deep breath again; the emotions I am feeling are overwhelming on many levels. "I believe they were communicating as they died. He is tenderly holding her face in goodbye."

The Admiral's hand gently soothes my shoulder. "That is the details I was hoping for, I expected that but wanted to know for sure from someone with a deep knowledge and appreciation for the relationship those two must have held."

"One of the crew is Betazoid he thought it may be have been an imzadi couple. As I understand it, that relationship was much more common back then. I wanted you both to see it, but mostly I wanted Deanna to see it before it is moved."

"Wouldn't it be more proper and respectful to let them here." I could feel Will's displeasure of the violation of the two by moving them.

"As much as I would like to let them here and rest in peace, they have to be moved. Not more than 50 kilometers over to the left is a Dominion undetonated weapon. It is as much out of respect for the couple that we want them in a safe place. That weapon needs to be disarmed and the government wants to inspect it." Jean Luc shrugs,

I get the feeling he was relieved to be removed from that part of his command now.

"Sir," I need to know more about this couple, "do we know anything more about them."

"No Deanna, we are using sensors to see if there is anything in the ground beneath and around them. If this were an accidental death from an earthquake or the fury of nature we may find a piece of their existence near that ground. We don't know yet why or how they died. There are no broken bones no sign of blunt force trauma. I've asked Star Fleet medical to send a forensic scientist to examine the bodies without moving them. Your government wants them to remain in this position as they are transferred."

"What will they do with them?" I whisper my question, I am so touched by the entwined bodies, and the fact that they shared the same bond that my husband and I share is to me like I personally knew them. I know that relationship. I know the pain of what it would be like to see your mate die, and to want to end their pain with them. I understand and dread the unthinkable pain of a broken bond.

Will and I are back on board the Titan. It is hard for me to talk to him about the unknown fate of the two and why I am so emotional about it. I think he understands. He always knows when I am emotionally overwhelmed. This is different, this is like seeing a relative that you hadn't known you had, and the only time you get to see them is when they had already died.

"Deanna you never told me about that posture in death."

"I guess because I don't often think about it. For me our life on the starships has been like life in a bottle."

Will pulls me to him and I feel his heart beating under my cheek. I know without any doubt that our bottle is full of time; it has yet to be uncorked and used.