Author: Pia Pedersen

Rating: PG/PG-13

Author's note: This piece started out as something else,
actually I started writing it when I tried to pin down what
Imzadi meant to me. For months I couldn't finish it, and
when I loaded it up today, it took on a life of its own.
It's sad, even somewhat depressing, and it features
character death, which was not my intention originally. I
guess it just proves that you should never stand in the way
of your characters. It's rough and unedited, and I'm not
even sure I like it. But here it is anyway. Your feedback -
good or bad - would be appreciated. Thank you.

Disclaimers are in force, as they always are.


William Riker was alone, and he felt empty in a way he had
never imagined possible. It was as if he was standing on
the edge of the abyss, dangerously close to falling, and
not caring about it one way or another. He was alone. For
the first time in as long as he cared to remember, there
was no presence in his mind, no echo of musical laughter,
or brush of soft, loving words.

There was nothing left; it was as if some higher power was
intent on erasing her from his mind and Universe.

If he hadn?t been so numb, Riker might have smiled at the
impossibility of that endeavour. As it were he slumped down
on the bed, closed his eyes, and reached out, blocking out
the pain of knowing that no one would hear him.


So simple and yet so complex ... there was no way for him
to ever explain what it meant. Whatever words he could
form, none would ever be sufficient. Only someone who could
look into the depths of his heart and soul would know, and
since no one had any hope of ever doing so, they would
never understand the darkness and the cold, which
surrounded and threatened to engulf him.

A smile softened his features, and it was as if he was
being dragged back from the void. Her name fell from his
lips as Will lost himself in the memory that had surfaced
so suddenly.

They had been sitting right here, in his quarters, her warm
body resting against his. She had kissed him softly,
letting images of her awakening desires flow from her mind
to his, and he had been breathless from the delicious
assault. She had laughed, giggled almost, and when he had
seized her lips with his, the emotional impact had been
overwhelming. They had loved each other then, for the first
time in years he had felt her inside his mind, and it had
been so intense that he had known no words to express it.
But it hadn?t mattered, because she had already known.

And now ? there was only emptiness. He felt so
overwhelmingly empty.


It was the Captain. It wasn't often that Picard used his
given name, and Riker could hear the pain in his commanding
officer's voice, reminding him that he wasn't the only one
feeling the loss. Deanna had meant a lot to many people -
in truth, she had touched every person who had ever crossed
her path in life. Will knew this, but he also knew that
despite this, there was only one person who could relate to
the depth of his grief, and she wasn't here. Lwaxana had
taken Deanna's accident as hard as anyone, and she had
closed herself off to the outside world. He couldn't blame
her, in fact he often wanted to do the same - but the
support of the Captain and the other senior officers had
kept him from giving into that impulse. They were the ones
who had kept him from falling, kept him sane.


In Sickbay Jean-Luc shared a silent look with his CMO, a
stray thought entering his mind as he watched her turn to
Deanna's figure on the bio bed.

'What if it had been her lying there, motionless,

"Captain, what is it?"

"I'm sorry, Will ..." Jean-Luc said, his thoughts of
Beverly fading quickly in light of Riker's tangible grief.
If only they had been able to do more for Deanna, if only
he would never have to ask of Will what he was about to. No
one should have to go through something like this, and yet
a lot of people did, a lot of people had - Beverly
included. "It's time," Picard went on. He hadn't meant to
whisper, he hadn't meant to choke, it was just the way it
turned out. He was human, only human, and he had loved
Deanna as well. Had. No, that wasn't true. He still did,
and he would continue to, even when the reality of her loss
settled in. As of right now that hadn't happened yet.
Sometimes he wondered if it ever would, for any of them.

"I ... Yes, sir."

Will closed his eyes, calling out wordlessly, yet again, as
he tapped into an unknown strength, the reserve we don't
know we have until we need it. Then he headed for Sickbay,
not seeing nor caring about the officers he passed on his
way, and they stepped quietly aside, all of them touched by
the pain they saw so clearly but would never fully be able
to understand.


She was so beautiful. She looked so peaceful, as though she
was only sleeping, and he wanted nothing more than to lean
in, press his lips to hers and ... and ... just one more
time. He ached to see those exquisite eyes flutter open and
smile up at him. This was so wrong. She wasn't supposed to
be here, it wasn't supposed to be like this.

"We did all we could, Will."

"I know." Riker wasn't even aware that he had answered her,
it had been some kind of reflex, and Beverly saw the
faraway expression in his eyes. He moved closer to Deanna
as Picard and Crusher left in silence, wanting to give him
time and space - both knowing that there would never be
enough of either.

Not for Will.

"I miss you, Deanna," he whispered, giving into the need to
touch her. Her skin was cool, so delicate and fragile. It
was so unreal. His eyes fell shut, and Riker saw flashes of
scenes from a life pass before his mind's eye. It was his
life, but it wasn't the one he had lived, or even the one
he and Deanna would have eventually come to share. What he
saw was what his life would have been, if their paths had
never crossed, if their lives had never touched.

It was a life built upon his ambitions to claim captaincy,
and, on the face of it, it was successful. But, even so, it
wasn't fulfilling, because for all his professional
triumphs, his life was void of any real emotion, like the
love he had come to know with Deanna. Meeting her, knowing
her, had changed the course of his life - it had changed
who he was - and he hadn't never truly realized how much.

She had made him a better man.

What would he do now, without her?

Will let his lips brush over hers gently, whispering softly
against them as his heart broke in two - one that he would
take with him, and one he would leave behind with her,

He would live on, because he had to, because she would have
wanted him to, and he would remember her always, cherish
every memory they had made ... until they met again. They
would, he was sure of it. Riker straightened, his eyes
falling on his beloved for the last time. God, how he loved
her, his heart was full of her, of everything about her.

As Will left Sickbay, he felt a tingle in the back of his
mind, ever so faintly, and a tentative smile flickered
across his face, although it never settled on his lips. It
was as if he was being reminded that nothing could ever
separate his and Deanna's hearts or souls, not even death.
If there was such as thing as the essence of Imzadi, this
had to be it. Not the he really cared about finding the
essence of something he would never be able to explain, but
even so, it did offer some solace, and, for the first time
since he had been forced to accept that he had lost her,
Will felt just a little less numb.