Title : A Time to Recover
Series : TNG
Author : Sarajayne
Rating : evil ;-)
Disclaimer : They own the characters and premise, but we sow the seeds
of imagination to improve our enjoyment ;-)


I wrote this before the last book came out in the 'A time to series',
so please forgive me for any overlapping or opposing storylines ;-) And
thank you David and Keith, for giving us a heart racing storyline for
our illustrious Commander to star in ;-)

= ONE =

A heavy weight lay across his numb torso. Gravity a harsh mistress, as
she pinned him down, robbing him of his last vestiges of strength. The
phaser pistol in his bloody hand useless as fingers became stiff,
immovable claws.

The rebel Tezwan looked down, a confident smile on his lips as he
lifted his rifle, butted it against his shoulder and took aim. Will
couldn't move, his energy bled dry. This was it, he wasn't leaving. He
wasn’t leaving Tewza at all.

The bright bolt of light flashed brightly, claiming his life in a soul
shattering cry.

But strangely enough he could still hear his frightened cry, feel the
jaggered pounding of pain filling his being, and the warmth of a hand.

Heart pounding, the surroundings filtered in; bleeding in from the
lighten room as time progressed. The comforting hand was rubbing gently
across his tensed shoulders, holding him down, and softening the morbid
fear coiling around his sallow frame.

A voice pierced his confusion, "Shhhhhh. You're in safe hands
Commander." as he blinked away sickbay’s bright examination lights.
"Lower lights by 20%." The voice added. Giving him a chance to sigh in
relief as the burning light dissipated, allowing him to gaze at the
face beside him. Alyssa Ogawa.

"You'll frighten our other patients." She added with a smile. Hoping to
bring him back down to reality with a touch of humour.

Looking around her silhouette, Will Riker took stock of his location,
and shakily raised a hand to lean on top of the clam shell;
emcompassing half his frame. "Sorry." he croaked. His voice still that
of a little boy, afraid of the lurking monsters in the closet.

"It's alright Commander, I was checking your bio signs anyway.
Nightmares however don't help my readings one bit.” she smiled, holding
up her padd. "Dr Tropp wants to run a few tests later, but in the
meantime I can call Deanna in, if you'd like some company." She

Looking around sickbay, he viewed the other beds in the ICU recovery
ward, filled with officers and Tezwans. He knew she was busy, but
selfishly he wanted Ogawa to stay a bit longer. To protect him, just
till the stink of his nightmare had truly dissipated. "Um, no I'll be
fine." he lied. "But I'd love to see Deanna when she has a spare

Ogawa nodded, one eye watching his heart readings, still a little high
but lowering. "I'll let her know you're awake and demanding a conjical
visit." She winked and left.

"Like I can manage that right now." he groaned out of ear shot. The
fact was he was immobile. The mixture of bad dreams and meds had strung
him out to dry. Taking a deep breath, he winced a little as his newly
set ribs argued. At least the sanitised air was clean and free of his
own filth, even if tainted with that clinical smell of sickbay. They'd
re-cracked his half healed ribs, what seemed a day ago, but probably
more. The surrounding muscle tissue sore from being re-aligned back
into place.

But from below there, he was numb. It was if they'd dissected his
lower half and forgotten to tell him. The Spinal blocker issued to the
back of his lower vertebrate, numbing the healing wounds of his gut and
thigh. For all he knew, he could be wetting the bed and not know it.

He looked around, hoping to quell the recently gained claustrophobia
of the clam shell, and eyed the flurry of medical personnel. He'd been
told it was all over, but the casualties still seemed to arrive every
minute he was awake. 3 or 4 days was it? He couldn't remember how long
he'd been here, time marching on as he slept fitfully. The soft feel of
the bio bed was now alien to his laid out form. Too soft, in some ways,
after enduring a month of cold hard stone.

Looking back to the clam shell engaging his length, Will's eyes traced
the faint pink line of his newly healed wrists. The infected cuts from
his wire bindings fading, but the memories of his endeavour still razor

"Need some company?" He jerked and regretted it, his mind so far away
that he hadn't felt her arrive. He smiled gratefully, unsure if his
voice would work with so much emotion strangling his throat.

Her petite hand snagged one of his own, the other brushing away his
long locks. His overgrown hair a change from its usually short length,
but his beard had been roughly trimmed back from the tangled mess when
he was first brought in. "You need a hair cut mister."

"I need a holiday." He mumbled tiredly.

"Well we do have a honeymoon to plan, will that suit?" She softly
teased. Her heart going out for the man she loved. He was so fragile
that she had to keep reminding herself that it was him, not a porcelain
copy. And definitely not Thomas.

He chuckled, disturbing something evil in his lungs. The deep wet
cough forcing him to cough harder to rid himself of it’s tainted cargo.
Closing his eyes tightly as the jarring lifted the numbness from below,
eliciting a sharp dagger of pain. The soft press of Deanna's lips to
his forehead made him shiver, as he steadied his breathing to halt the
coughing tirade.

The hot and cold sweats were still present from the Lokeg wasp bite.
It's Malaria like symptoms, even now were residing within his system,
but thanks to Dr Tropps expertise, the last vestiges of the infection
were slowly clearing his system.

"Where's Beverly?" He asked, uncomfortable under the care of another
doctor, but grateful to be alive.

"She's helping out below. War never really has a defined ending." She
wistfully added. "There are small spot fires of revolt happening, even
now. But Beverly’s secure." Her thumb rubbing small, comforting circles
around the top of his hand. "The captain came in to see you yesterday.
Caught me dosing on your shoulder." She smiled.

"Let me guess, court marshalled for consorting with another officer
during a time of war?" He asked.

"No. But I was ordered to my quarters for a good nights sleep." She
replied, gazing into his med-dulled blue eyes. "He was relieved to see
you here safe and sound." She confessed.

"I'm sure he's not the only one. I know I am." He grinned.

She ran her fingers across his chest and down to the hollow of his
neck. Resting her fingers there, counting the beat. His collarbone
sharply protruded through the thin veneer of skin. "Are they feeding
you yet?"

"Imzadi, I'm fine." Watching her eyes tear up, he tightened his grip.
"I needed to loose a few kilos anyway."

"I'm sorry...it's just..." She stopped, unable to continue as her
throat constricted, holding back her tears with might.

"I'm alive Imzadi. I'm really here, OK? I promised you I’d be back."
His own heart tight with painful love.

"Alyssa said you're still having nightmares." She let out.

He nodded slowly. "I came so close in not fulfilling my promise to
both of us. I guess it rattled me....still does." he confessed. "And no
I'm still being hypo'd my dinner."

"Delicious?" She asked, wiping away a stray tear.

"Not the most memorable meal, but at least it isn't via a tube." he
added a small teasing grin, "And I'd rather have you for dinner

Deanna started to laugh when a throat clearing beside her stilled their

"Not until we remove the out going tubes Commander." Dr Tropp said in
his best doctorly demeanor. "Might catch in the wrong places."
Chuckling as he watched his patient grimace.

"But by the readings Alyssa took earlier, we're getting closer to you
having your first semi-solids. Heavy on the carbohydrates of course. We
need to thicken you up before we deal with physio."

Will nodded in understanding, he'd been in so many life threatening
situations, that the whole recovery process was becoming a little too
familiar. Though starvation had never been a previous ailment. "How

"I'm thinking about tomorrow. See how things progress, before we assess
you for release to quarters and light duties.” Seeing Will’s glee
filled eyes, Dr tropp had to shake his head. “It won't be easy over the
next few days Commander. We've been aiding your body by diverting
fluids past your bowels." He turned and picked up a padd beside Will's
bed side. "The outgoing phaser bolt did a lot of damage to your gut
region, but it's healing nicely enough to get back to it's intended
job. But we'll go easy at first."

Will nodded, relief flashing across his face. Turning to Deanna, he
noted the white cast to her features. "Imzadi?" She shook her head,
forcing a smile.

"Counsellor, he will be fine." The doctor repeated. "Working on Bajor
for many years, I for one have seen worse. And I'm sure Mr Riker will
receive all the tender loving care he needs." He smiled, adding a
knowing look. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few other patients to
attend to before I can have my coffee break."

Taking a few steps, he halted and turned back to the Imzadi duo. "Oh,
and one more thing, Beverly should be ship bound tomorrow morning. I
believe she said something about wanting to check you out for her own
eyes, Commander."

Will Riker's groan followed the smiling doctor down the isle of bio
beds, heading off to check the rest of his charges.


= TWO =

Morning arrived in the form of a small pressurised hum as the clam
shell receded into the bed's base. And a small decrease in temperature
chilled his belly.

Belly? Keeping his eyes closed, Will Riker ever so slightly tried to
move his right foot. The slightly tense arch to his back triggered, as
a sharp lance of pain travelled the length of his leg, spiking him deep
in the belly to boot.

"Well I'd say the spinal paralysis has worn off." One voice offered.

Squinting past the bright exam lights, he speared Beverly Crusher with
a long hard look of hate just as she began to examine his toes. "Fungal
growth has receded too." Ignoring her patient’s glare, she then removed
his sheet from the chest down, to gently press against his ribs,
checking for stability before hovering over the wound patch.

"You touch that and you'll die, I promise." Will warned as he watched
her pause in her examinations. "I mean it." He pushed as she beamed a
large meniacal grin in his direction.

"It's not going to hurt Will. I just want to check and see if you're
healing as well as Dr Tropp says you are." She admonished, pressing
ever so lightly. "Now lie back and let me finish here." She added,
oblivious to the blush on Will Riker's cheeks as she lowered the sheet
below his thigh to bare all.

"So what's the prognosis doc?" He asked, starring at the ceiling.

"Well you're still pretty under nourished, but your injuries are
healing well." She answered absent mindedly, focussing on her work. Her
professional eye taking in his body, noting present and future
treatments. "And I'd say these tubes can come out soon too. Start
toilet training you again." She teased.

"Great." He bemoaned. “Maybe that hole wasn’t so bad after all.”

Ignoring his mumblings, she continued to examine each wound area with
practised ease of touch. "Temperature still fluctuating?" She asked

Having been ignored for too long, the Commander decided to get a
little more direct. "I thought Dr Tropp was my doc? And where's

"Well I don't believe the temperature is the cause for him to be so
testy, but it might be a good idea to give him an anti-inflammatory."
Crusher reasoned with Alyssa. Finally turning to Will once the nurse
had headed off to the medical replicator. "Dr Tropp has passed over
your care to my favour, seeing as I know your medical history
backwards. And Deanna is seeing her Counsellor."

Will's eyebrows shot up. "Counsellor?"

"Yes. Her Counsellor. It seems her future husband was taken from her
embrace before he could give her a child or two." There was concern in
her eyes, but the force of which she'd told him made him sit up

"I didn't know." He whispered, never noticing that Ogawa had returned.

"Thanks Alyssa, can you come back in about 10 minutes and bathe him for
me?" As the young nurse nodded and left, Beverly sighed, and
administered the hypo.

Replacing his sheet, she took a moment to sit by his bedside and hold
his large hand. "The fear that she'd lost you was hard on her. She
never gave up hope, but every day that passed was another day without
you. Deanna felt helpless. The only way she felt she could aid you was
by interrogating the information out of Kinshwan's second. Something
she performed with a determined front." She watched Will close his
eyes. "She loves you Will. And was prepared to go beyond her morale
grounds to get you back. She's healing well now, at least after talking
to the Armagosa’s Counsellor. Now she’s no longer bottling it up

"How long?" He whispered. His blue eyes spearing her with hurt.

"The captain ordered her to seek help a week after you'd been taken."
Beverly looked down, unable to keep her own eyes dry. "Just do me a
favour Will, marry her and stay out of trouble." Getting up she kissed
him on his roughed cheek. Giving him a warm smile.

Watching her leave, Will sighed. How did he do it? He'd scored Deanna's
heart a second time now. Well that was going to be the last time he
ever hurt her again.



Waking was like the chapters of a book, the start of a new day, to Will
Riker. Every time he opened his eyes, there were new or less patients,
and the same went for medical personnel. Some days it was Dr Tropp the
other it was Dr Cursher. But the best character of all within his book,
was the sight of the beautiful princess, the one sitting beside him

"Ah my prince wakes." Deanna smiled. Tenderly moving away a fringe of

"And what a sight." He replied, grinning. Deanna smiling with laughter
at the soppy comment.

"Watch yourself Commander, flattering comments like that are sure to
get you into trouble." She winked. "You must be improving. The nurses
are vying for your attention again."

Will closed his eyes and smiled, remembering how easily they put him at
ease at the most galling of times. Having someone house train you was
bad enough, let alone being hand fed. He'd started feeding orally
yesterday, and for this they'd angled his bed upright, and given him
the choice of feeding himself. But after a few mouthfuls, his hands had
begun to shake from the strain, losing interest in the orange mush.

"Feed time yet?" He asked, looking around suspiciously.

"Well yes and no. Beverly said I could do it, if you’re up for it."
Deanna squeezed his hand encouragingly as he looked away, his heated
cheeks glowing. "You need to eat Imzadi." She encouraged. "And there's
nothing to be embarrassed about, I love you. And I've done it before."
Deanna reminded him.

Squeezing her hand back, he turned his blue eyes to face her squarely.
"I just don't want to be a burden. I know you have other duties..."

"...that can wait." She cut him off.

He lay there trying to read her petite features. "How's the counselling
sessions going?" The way she sat up, her back rigid, he knew he'd hit a
bad mark. But in the same instance he'd wanted to bring it up. Will
knew her too well. And talking with a counsellor as opposed to a
friend, she was sure to be holding back her true emotions.

When Deanna did finally talk it was cold. "I'm back to regular duties

"Well I'm not. I can spare the time if you want to talk Imzadi." He
waited. "I know Beverly was off ship, and I know how much you need to
talk things through, and to a friend."

She began to melt, her shoulders lowering in surrender. "Would you mind
if I fed you while I talked?" Offering a compromise. She didn't really
want to have this conversation with Will so early on, but the action of
spoon-feeding him was sure to help her relax into the conversation.

"K." He answered, feeling a shiver of cold skate his body as the warmth
of her hand left him. His eyes chased her movements as she hunted down
a nurse, soon returning with a bowl of mush in hand and a med tech to
raise the bed.

He swallowed hard as a dash of vertigo struck. Trying not to clench his
new stomach. "We can do this later..." he offered, only to find his
words halted by a mass of starch. Swallowing the spoon full of mush,
and eyeing the next incoming load, he sent a message, one he hoped
would break down her walls. dispel the pain I've caused again>

The brimming of tears within her eyes was enough to show his rusty
skills had worked. And for the remaining thirty-five spoon fulls, she
revealed all.

The heartache, the fear, and the loneliness.


= FOUR =

It was another day of pain. Something Beverly had said was inevitable
on the road to recovery. As if waking with your heart lurching day
after day wasn’t enough, but to find shrapnel still exiting your body
at it’s own will.

He’d finally been released from the confines of the lower clam shell
and allowed to become vertical. Testing his rib structure and stomach
muscles, the act of standing had been next. And that’s where the memory
of his long stumbling walk out of the Redoubt had come crashing back.
No matter how long both docs had spent while he was numbed out of his
mind, there were still splinters of glass and metal fragments lodged in
his feet.

Sitting half on the recovery bed, a warming sheet hastily tied around
his waist, and his right leg resting on the covers. Beverly with her
trusty tweezers was coaxing a newly risen glass shard from the arch of
his foot. “Nearly there Will.” She eased as she heard him suck his
breath in between clenched teeth.

“How many more?” He gasped as she pulled out her prize. Its crystal
structure sparkling with a coating of red.

Running her deep tissue scanner over the area, she pursed her lips,
before giving a comforting smile. “Well I’d say that’s about it for
now.” Placing a comforting hand on his shin as she accepted the dermal
pad from Alyssa, fixing it into place.

“Now just what were you doing up anyway. I seem to remember an order
about not putting weight onto this leg just yet.” Her eyes scouring his
frame for other injuries.

“Well I seem to remember someone saying I could stand up.” He mumbled
sheepishly. Running a hand through his hair, as he adjusted his
position and dragged his other leg back up for him to lean on. He was
still tiring too easily.

“When we were present. I’m sorry Will but with these fragments still
popping up I don’t want to take the chance of you driving them in
deeper. I want to take another day or two before I give you free range,
under Stuart’s care of course.” Taking stock of his sluggish blinking,
she took his shoulder gently and eased him backwards. “I can block the
dreams with the neural blockers Will.” She offered, noting the dark
circles beneath each eye.

He shook his head. “No, I need to work through this.” He spoke
honestly. The Armagosa Counsellor, Marlyn Del Cid, had been on call of
late, seeing to his mind while Beverly coddled his body. The repetitive
nightmares eventually driving him to seek counsel, at first trying to
ignore them, once he had noticed Deanna’s reaction to them.

Beverly smiled in sympathy. His medical logs, which she perused every
morning before her shift, were testiment to how often he wasn’t
sleeping soundly. “Well when “fine” isn’t working, let me know.” She
added, clasping his hand in hers till his eyelids fluttered to a close.


= FIVE =

“Do you even care how much trouble I am going to be in?” The young man
asked as Will Riker, naked except for the roughly gathered sheet around
his boney hips, clung to the shower entryway.

“No wait. I have the perfect answer. My bowels made me do it?” Hands on
hips, Stuart tried his best Beverly impression, and failed.

“Something like that.” Will grinned. Taking in the stocky physio.
“Didn’t I give you the day off?” He asked.

“When I asked you to call me Stuart, it didn’t automatically release
you from my orders, nor Doc Crushers’ either.” He winked, beckoning
with his hand for Will to move over, so he could get a hand around his
wayward patient’s waist.

Becoming mobile once more, with Stuart’s help, Will limped into the
bathroom facilities. “Well if Bev hadn’t of started force feeding me
that orange liquid then I would of gladly spent my day in bed. These
feet aren’t exactly made for walking yet.” Will groaned. “But I really
just wanted some time out to take a shower…by myself for once.”

Stuart smiled. “So you found the coast was clear and escaped. Well
seeing as you’ve gotten this far on your own, I’m thinking it’d be Ok
to let you shower, but only if you sit yourself down and call me once
you’re done.” Laying down the rules as he urged Will into the cavernous
shower bay, shifting him from his feet to the moulded seat.

“Stuart, thanks.” Will replied, avoiding eye contact as the young man
unwound the once tightly clenched sheet from his fingers. “I only wish
this was a water shower.”

“Well considering how dangerous water and wobbly patients can be….” He
left the sentence hanging as he watched Will nod in agreement. Folding
the sheet up and over his arm, Stuart checked the chronometer by the
doorway. “Time I left and checked on my other boring patients.” He
winked. “Just don’t slip and make me regret this.” He admonished before
slipping out. But the silence didn’t last and Stuart’s head whipped
around the corner of the stall. “And call for me when you’re ready, no
solo ventures back to bed.”

Letting his shoulders droop, Will looked down to his toes, marvelling
at how alive they looked. Ten pink wriggly things. His gaze soon
travelling up to the pale pucker over his thigh. Rubbing it tenderly he
groped for the shower controls, hoping to hide the tears of freedom
that threatened to spill.

He sat there for a long time until a familiar voice entered his space.
“I don’t mean to pry, but Stuart said you were in here alone.”

Starting, he turned round to see Deanna standing there, with his old
blue robe in hand. “And I thought I might bring a friend.”

Smiling the widest grin in days he welcomed both into his arms. “I
dreamed of you for weeks like this.”

“Being naked and alone with your old robe?” She jested with one raised

Morphing his gaze into a serious caste, he lifted up one of her hands
by her dainty fingers. “Of being naked and alone with my wife-to-be.”

“I too Imzadi, I too.” She whispered as he leaned in to kiss the edge
of her crisp ear. Nibbling his way down her neck, leaving a trail of
moist kisses with his nervous lips. She felt him shiver, and his heart

“There were days I dreamt of this, and then there were days I feared of
never touching, nor tasting you again.” Will’s voiced choked, and he
pulled her in closer, nearly lifting her off her knees.

Snaking a hand around his still showing ribs, Deanna began to rub his
back, stopping as she felt him jerk away. Apology in her eyes, she
watched him shake his head.

“One of the reasons that I can’t make love to you right here and now.”
He remarked. The phaser entry wound now closed, but still tender.

“The other?” She asked. Her empathy trained solely on Will’s magestic

“Stuart’s smirking in the doorway.” He grinned.

“Sorry Commander, counsellor, but Beverly’s back on duty soon…”

“And you’re afraid of ending up in the burns ward.” Will finished for
him. “It’s OK, I’ll wander back soon, now I have my trusty robe and
staff.” He waggled his eyebrows at Deanna.

“And with comments like those you might end up crawling to bed alone,
my love.” Deanna pecked his cheek and rose, dressing her charge, and
with Stuart’s help, got him up and moving again.

“It felt like hours to Will, but soon the encroaching bed was within
his shakey legs’ final stride. Getting him settled, Deanna watched as
Stuart checked methodically, each foot pad for signs of damage. “All
clear. No damage done. “ He smiled. “I’ll leave you to Doctor Crusher’s
care and say goodnight.”

Deanna looked to Will for confirmation as the physio made his exit.
“We’re still digging out bits of glass.”

“As long as they don’t remove them. I kind of like those sweet toes
against my calves.” She teased.

“Me too.” Beverly jibed from the doorway. Laughing as Will blushed.

“Ah Beverly it wasn’t me, remember, it was Odan.” His hands
outstretched to ward off her impending advance.

“Relax Will. I’d never encroach on another woman’s man.” She winked to
Deanna as the Betazoid tried to stifle her laughter. “Besides, there’s
too much chest hair for my liking.” She wrinkled her nose in good

Looking slightly annoyed at being the centre of the doctor’s jibe, he
crossed his arms and raised one eyebrow. “If you’ve quite finished
Doctor, I’d like your report.”

“Well seeing as you’re still off duty, I’ll give you the unofficial
report.” She continued on ignoring his stiffening spine. “According to
Stuart, you’re improving very well, but still prone to breaking set
rules and guidelines. But seeing as this is a blatant Riker trait, I’m
going to let it lie just this once.”

“Thanks.” He replied trying to stifle a yawn.

“But the lack of full term sleep is still a major step backwards Will.”
Beverly placed her padd down on the adjacent bed. The recovery room now
just about empty of its previous residents. Some shipped off to their
respective ships or home, others returned to duty. Apart from the two
sleeping officers at the other end of the ward, they were alone and
free of eavesdropping.

Will nodded in ascent. Knowing the dark circles and ragged disposition
wasn’t easy to hide from his friends. More than once he’d nearly bitten
off a nurses head or two. “I’m trying.” Was all he offered.

“I know. But it does say in the report that you are increasing in
slumber hours, so you are improving. Just not enough for my liking.”
Watching his eyelids droop the longer he sat and listened. “So lie back
and let the night take you into sweet dreams.”

Lying back without another word, Deanna pulled his covers up and over
his still fragile form. “No Lights.” He murmured as Deanna kissed each
eyelid closed.

Looking up to Beverly, Deanna wordlessly queried his request. The
doctor shaking her head, and lowering the lights as low as she was
happy to. “I don’t want him getting up in the night and tripping over.”
She whispered before herding her friend out and ordering the counsellor
to get some sleep.

“No lights.” Will slurred tiredly again, but this time to a silent room.


= SIX =

The Captain arrived on what Will believed was day eight. Bright
cheerful and impressed that his first officer could imitate swaying
trees, especially the windy variety, extremely well. “Marvelous to see
you up and about Number one." He announced as Will hung on tightly to
the physio's shoulder.

"Even more marvelous if I don't end up on the floor, again." he smiled,
continuing to limp around the recovery ward, sweat streaking his large
floppy t-shirt. His frame was filling out, but still underweight
according to Dr Tropp's calculations. 'More orange mush.' Dr Tropp had
commanded as he'd tagged along with Beverly, yesterday morning.

Picard slid an arm around Will's waist to halt the imminent collapse
before he did, helping to shuffle him back to the bio-bed. Sitting
there panting, he graciously accepted the glass of water from Stuart
the physio, and waited for his voice to come back.

Holding a hand over his thudding ex-belly wound, he gave a wide grin.
"Thanks for the lift Captain." Will's happiness evident in his escape
from a horizontal existence.

"I take it Beverly knows you're up and about?" Querying Will and his

Stuart smiled, "Oh she knows Sir. In fact her exact words were 'teach
him to walk not stroll'." Shaking his head in mirth as he excused

"She still scares me more than a Tezwan death squad." Will said
widening his grin.

"And so she should." He replied warmly, taking the seat beside Will.
Deanna's place vacant for the first time in days, as she took a well
earned break. Leaning forward he lowered his voice, the joviality
leaving his frame. "I thought it time to check up on you. See how
things were progressing."

Will was still seated on the bed edge, bare feet hanging. His hair
towseled and wet from either a shower or the earlier exertion. But he
looked good, in fact the grey circles around his eyes were gone, and a
healthy sparkle now lay there. Looking down for a moment, to compose
his words, Will subconsciously rubbed his healing thigh. "I'm fine Sir.
Though I'm more worried about Deanna."

"Ah yes." Picard replied. "Though I can say, your return was a blessing
to her. She's strong, very strong. But the possible loss of someone
close is never easy."

"Data kept my seat warm then?" Will asked, trying to change subject
before the knot in his throat took over.

Picard nodded. "He'll make a fine First Officer one day. But not as
dashing with the ladies as my current first officer." Adding a small

For the next hour, both men chatted and compared notes on the war and
the trials of capture. The conversation was relaxed as if the ready
room existed here and now around them, but in the back of Will's mind,
he kept wondering if Jean-Luc knew of his captaincy in the
wings? Surely he would have mentioned something by now? Had Starfleet
held back in informing him of the Titan option, for Will's benefit or
due to the war?

It wasn't long though until Deanna returned in the company of the fiery
doctor. The small idle chat between them filled with merriment and
gossip. No doubt these two were part of the shipboard grapevine, maybe
even the ring leaders.

As they spied their captain and first officer chatting, Beverly paused
awkwardly, making her excuse to head off down the row of beds to see to
one of her new patients. Deanna watched, her empathy instinctively
drawing to a conclusion and moving on. They needed to talk some more,
it seemed. And not just about the latest fashion on Telvus IV.

"Am I interrupting?" She asked, not wanting to disturb their men's

Will held out a hand, drawing her in to sit beside him, under the
protective curl of his arm. "Someone needs a shower." She hinted,
pulling at his t-shirt.

"And it seems I am the cause it was not had earlier." Picard mused, as
Will sheepishly scratched at his bearded chin.

"See. It was his fault." Will grinned.

The captain, braced his hands on his knees and tiredly got up. "And
before I gather another round of blame, I shall leave you to his care
and receive my own scheduled share of sleep." Nodding his farewells,
the Captain of the Enterprise took his leave.

"I think you frightened him off." Will winked.

"Or maybe I reminded him of how bad you smell."

“You know, it’d be all that much better for my body and soul if I could
perhaps do all this in my own quarters.” Pulling away gently, and
sliding his damp t-shirt off and onto the floor, with a soft whack.

“With those messy home maker skills, I’d say no.” Pointing to the nose
wrinkling mess of fabric coating the floor.

Looking a little sheepish, he drew a hand through his damp hair. “And
the long locks probably don’t make me look any tidier.” Looking down to
her petite mouth, he invitingly brushed against them with his own
healing lips. “So tell me again, when do we get out of here?”

Knowing it was something he wasn’t going to approve of, she set her
posture and waited for the witty reply. “According to the latest report
from Beverly, she’s recommended a few more days.”

“Damn that witch!” He swore slipping out from under her arms and off
the bed.

“Will!” Black orbs flashing in warning. Expecting him to complain but
not with such vehemence.

“I’m sick of this!” He spat, now starting to hobble the room. “I spent
damn well long enough in a putrid cell under someone else’s thumb,
damned if I’ll do it here too.” He pouted immaturely.

“She only means well, Will.” Deanna expressed in a tired huff. How many
times did she have to go over this same conversation with him? “She
knows you’re still experiencing nightmares, and I do too. It’s a little
hard to block out that moment of animalistic terror when one is joined
at the mind.” Her words harsh now in her own boiling anger.

He turned away, embarrassment and guilt coating his hide. “I’m sorry.”
He whispered, slowly looking up to focus on the ceiling. Looking
anywhere but to her.

“Will…Imzadi…” She advanced, laying a hand upon his forearm. “Recovery
is never easy, but turning away those who want to help and listen won’t
make it any easier.”

Sighing, he looked down to his bare pink toes. Slowly moving his right
big toe in thought, till he turned to her arm crossed visage. “It’s
just that I can’t sleep here. It’s too bright.” He stuttered as the
truth came running out, afraid to admit that he wasn’t a big strong
Commander, but a little frightened boy.

“Beverly said you were sensitive to it. As if your lack of sleep
coincided with it.” Wrapping her arms around his waist she pulled him
to her, snuggling in to his cooling bare chest. “And I think you should
be wearing more than just a pair of pyjama bottoms with those
goosebumps.” She added as she pointed out the marching bumps over his
protective arms.

“Someone interrupted my shower period, remember.” He smirked.

“If I get Beverly to keep the lights off, will you stay here a few more
days? Till she gives you the all-clear?” Trying to compromise.

He inflated his chest and let out a deep shaky sigh. “You know me too

Smiling, she pushed herself up onto her toes and planted a kiss to his
warm lips. “You know me too Will. The only difference is that I know
how to read you.”

“And you’re too good for me.” He added.

“But I’ll have you regardless of the damaged goods.” Masking her
features to a neutral plane once more, she empathically touched his
soul. “Please say yes.”

He nodded, soon enfolding her in his embrace and swaying to an
imaginary beat. “I could never leave you again. And I promise whole
heartedly I won’t.” His soulful heartbeat soon mimicking her own racing
heart, as beat by beat they found each other spiritually again.



Deanna’s heart fluttered into fright. A smear of horror coating her
empathy in a smothering embrace.

“Lights.” She called, sitting up with one hand crushed to her heart.
“Imzadi.” She let flow from her lips. Another nightmare. Groggily
tracing the side table, she plucked up her communicator and gently
squeezed the device. “Troi to recovery bay 4.” Her voice was wavering
from the bombarding tsunami of terror flaying her empathic senses. She
doubted the inbuilt communication array above would have heard her.

A few minutes later, just before Deanna repeated her call, Alyssa came
online. ”I’m sorry counsellor, but the Commander was in need of
attention.” She sounded breathless. “What can I do for you?” She added,
knowing the reason of her call.

“Is he alright? Do I need to come down?” Deanna asked, as she stared at
the far wall. Her heart and soul seeking him out.

“He’s fine Deanna, go back to sleep.” Dr Tropp’s voice floated in
replacing Ogawa. “We had a little trouble waking him, but he’s
returning to normal levels. Nothing to worry about.” Deanna nodded to
the bodiless voice as she sensed the panicky overload of Will’s fear

"Thank you. Please tell him I’ll be down later.” It’d been days since
she’d had a full nights sleep, and tonight wasn’t any different. How
was she going to nod off now?

And why was Will still suffering these same electrifying nightmares?
Yes the light was a bother. Something he’d mentioned earlier. The true
cause behind it not known, or were her assumptions right? He’d been
seeing the Armagossa Counsellor, like she had, their relationship too
close to share one anothers sessions so soon after the experience.

Clicking her fingers, Deanna slammed on her hard demeanor and tightly
wrapped a robe around her cooling shoulders. “Troi to Communications. I
need a link to Counsellor Del Cid on board the USS Armagosa.

It wasn’t long until the serene face of the Armagosan counsellor
appeared. “Deanna. Now I know this isn’t your duty shift, so what has
you up at this hour?” An eyebrow raised as she took in the hollow eyes.

“I need to know Commander Riker’s status… as to what’s bothering him,
enough to keep him so worked up night after night.” No apologies no
niceties. Deanna needed to know, and fluttering her eyelids wasn’t
going to work here like it would on a young brash ensign.

Marlyn sighed and leaned back in her office chair. Its high back
decorated with a Shanuli shawl of turquoise brilliance. “We both know
we have a vow to protect our patients with a confidentiality agreement,

“I would be a fool to ignore it I know, but Commander Riker is in need
of help. I know he’s been seeing you for official business. But in
dealing with the Commander in the past, I know how stubborn he can be.
I want to help.” Pausing she waited, but Marlyn wasn’t going to give in
so easily. “Being the first officer of the Enterprise, I am also his
counsellor bound by duty. I will be required to view his records for
the Captains benefit in determining him sound and ready to return to

The tired counsellor leaned forward. “I can’t Deanna. You’re virtually
married to him. I agree that duty wise you have the right to view his
medical records, but not when you yourself are still undergoing
treatment, and nearly betrothed.”

“As you said. Nearly. We’re not officially married yet. Just give me a
clue. Anything. Just so I can help him lessen these nightmares. If he
continues like this, it will only mean a larger set back in being
released. Something we both know he wouldn’t handle well.” Her voice
even and steel edged as she fought for his case.

“Deanna, this places me in great jeopardy with the review board.” She
paused, wiping a hand across her brow. “But I know he’s more likely to
get over this experience if he can share it with someone he trusts
implicity.” Holding a hand up at Deanna’s smile, she continued on. “But
I can’t give you everything. Only a small review of why he feels so
desolate in the sleeping world.”

Deanna nodded in understanding. “A clue is all I need.”

“I know the lights still bother him. Due mainly to the constant lighten
pit they’d kept him within, but it also links up with his last few
minutes on Tezwan. Before he was rescued, what he thought were his last
few minutes of life, he spent looking down the barrel of a phaser
rifle. And when the brilliance of the alley lit up with the shuttles
phaser barrage, to protect him, he at that moment thought he’d broken
his promise to you. That he’d never return from Tezwa. And that that
dazzling brillance was phaser fire coming to claim his soul.” She
watched Deanna’s eyes mist over, her gaze elsewhere than the viewer.
“I’m sorry Deanna but you asked for the root of the problem. He
honestly thought he had broken his promise to you, and the feeling of
grief and loss is still haunting him.”

Deanna sat quietly for a while. “Thank you.” She said before nodding
her head in understand. “Thank you for confirming my flimsy theories.
This will aid us both, enormously.” Adding a smile she bid adieu and
disconnected the viewer.

He was still kicking himself for giving up? For losing faith in
returning in one piece to her? He could be the most romantically sweet,
but genuinely stupid terran she’d met sometimes. He was suffering night
after night because of what he’d thought he’d done to her. When in
reality just being here was all she needed as an apology.

Finding herself still too worked up from the realisation of his
damnable feelings. Deanna sank back down into her bed, punching the
pillow with anger. “I’ll see him tomorrow, when I’m not ready to bite
his head off.” She mused to herself before calling for lights out.



The sheepish look Will gave Deanna the minute she walked into the
recovery ward, still made her heart flutter but did nothing to stop the
determined stride she had. “Did you know I could hear you all the way
up on deck eight?” She scorned. “Will, we need to talk, and to get into
that head of yours that you didn’t let me down.”

The way his head swung up, said one thing…she knows. Guilt washed his
body and tears of admittance tried to spring free. Holding back his
words, in case they warbled, he could only slouch his shoulders further
forward to guard his ears.

“Deanna!” Beverly’s harsh voice blocked the Betazoid tirade just before
it continued. Moving from her office doorway, the doctor guided the
counsellor aside. “What do you think you are doing?” She demanded.

Straightening the arm of her uniform, Deanna set her shoulders and
commanded the doctor to mind her own business. “Do you really want him
waking up and screaming for another 2 months?” Her blunt point forcing
the doctor to take a step back.

“No. But I don’t want him down in psychiatrics on Earth because his
counsellor and fiancé bludgeoned him into submission.” Beverly’s red
hair bristling with anger. “Now come into my office and lets discuss
this away from harmful ears.” She added in a quieter tone.

“I’m sorry Beverly. Will needs me. And I know how to beat this funk
he’s trapped within.” Pulling away she strode back to the large man who
quite frankly looked a little worried.

As soon as she’d made her way to stand before him, Deanna guided him up
and out of bed, to sit within one of the two chairs beside it. “Will I
want you to know that you are here, alive, and well; and in no danger
of failing your promise to marry me.”

He looked up stunned. “Who told you…” His cheeks then blushed and he
looked to his hands entwined around hers. “Damn it. I thought you
Counsellors followed patient confidentiality to the letter? I shouldn’t
have told her.”


He looked up at her one word. “Yes?”

She nodded. “You talked which is what you should be doing with me
Imzadi. We’re nearly married, surely you don’t think I’m this fragile
to break from your honesty. You were scared Imzadi. So what. Death
frightens us all.”

Her blunt description of his last few weeks on Tezwa, surrounded by
filth and broken hope, still didn’t alleviate what he had felt, and was
still feeling. “You want blunt? Being torn apart by phaser fire isn’t
exactly an easy thing to cope with. Especially when you see your last
hope of ever leaving a hell hole such as Tezwa, as a militant goon has
your life in the balance at the end of a trigger!” He yelled back in
anger. His broad chest heaving with pain and anger.

Looking past Will’s blazing eyes, Deanna caught Beverly in the doorway,
hypo in hand. Waiting in case things got out of hand. “Which is what
you should be moving on from. You’ve beaten those odds. You survived
Will. But what are you doing? You’re reliving that same nightmare of
odds night after night. Just like when your father died.”

He stood up then and moved away. “You managed to move away from those
horrible frightening survivor-guilt dreams Will only to plow right into
a another set. In no way did you let me know until now. I need you
whole Will. I need the big strong Alaskan man I said I’d marry and
stand by till death. But where are you? Dwelling on something that may
have happened if the odds had fallen differently, but didn’t. I love
you Imzadi and surely you know by now that odds can be changed by the
player at anytime during the game. It just take gall and cunning.”

He continued to stand quietly, watching the rows of now empty beds in
the recovery ward. Every attendee had recovered and left now, except
him. And why? Because he was still screaming out of tune to Bev’s
chagrin. “Only you could have entwined a poker analogy into a
counselling session.” He grinned.

“But I am right, yes?” She waited, wishing to hug every last square
inch of him, but holding herself in restraint till she felt she’d
broken through.

“Yes.” He let out of a sigh.

“Can I have my fiancé back?”

“Only if you get me out of here.” He smiled, slowly wandering back to
her side; taking his seat again. “Beverly has been threatening to
return me to the orange mush again.” He winked. Relief now flowing
through his veins. The confession had.

“And only if we talk about this over the next few days, my sweet.” Her
fine boned fingers massaging his large rough hand.

Blue eyes connected to black and two words passed his lips in true
honesty. “I promise.”


= NINE =

It’s been almost 7 weeks since he’d seen his quarters. But nothing had
been left lying around, it was spic and span, not a show out of place.
He determined that Deanna had still been sharing his quarters since his
disappearance. And her mother hen instinct had cleaned up and packed
away a lot of things. Curiously he glanced back to see her cheeks
reddening. “I too had a few issues over your capture Imzadi. Lets just
say we’ll talk about it and be done with that for now.”

He smiled in agreement and wandered the interior, inhaling its familiar
fragrance of his and her aromas. A mixture of alpine and jasmine.
Touching and picking up various objects, he inspected everything to
make sure there wasn’t some small signature at the bottom saying “made
in heaven.” Helping him to become aware that this was a true reality,
and not just another teasing dream.

“Take a shower Imzadi, and I’ll organise some dinner.” She encouraged,
waking him from his riverie. “Beverly said it was time to thicken you
up. And I have just the recipe.”

“Solid orange mush.” He joked. Will’s wide grin helping to calm her own
nervous actions.

Raising herself up onto her toes, she kissed his lips not once, nor
twice, but three times. Before gently pushing him towards the bedroom
and encouraging him to soothe his tender skin with a water shower.
“Take all the time you need Imzadi.”

He nodded and soon the sound of running water and steam floated like a
sirens tale from the bathroom doorway. Enthralling herself in his happy
emotions, she rode the tide of love, happiness and the ecstacy of being
home; till his emotions turned to hunger. Sexual or not, she knew she
had better get the dinner ordered and laid out before they returned to
the bedroom and never filled his belly.

“Garlic.” He uttered as he breathed in the heady fragrance emanating
from the large bowl of pasta. As if hypnotised, he made his way
directly to the table, pulling his t-shirt on over his head without

“Someone looks like they’re cheating on me.” Deanna jibed, as Will’s
lips practically drooled.

“That’s because someone has been dreaming of this moment for a long,
long time.” He winked. “And there is more to the dream too.” He added
waggling his eyebrows.

“No doubt there is, but remember Beverly’s rules of release.” She
added, serving up his plate with a large helping. “Now take it easy,
and we’ll see if you have room for dessert afterwards.” She cooed.

Twisting the fork around the swirls of pasta on his plate, Will
breathed in the heavenly smell, erasing the foul stench once a part of
his existence, and swallowed in one huge mouthful.

“Will!” Deanna gasped as he continued to stuff fork after fork of the
sultry pasta into his hungry mouth. “Slow down.” She laughed as he
finally stopped, fork hovering over its next pile of victims, and a
bulging mouth to show where the predecessors had gone before.

“Shorry.” He managed around his pasta. Looking a little sheepish for
practically digging his hands into the food like some vagrant. Suddenly
he remembered his first meal back on Tezwan. After days of starvation
he’d practically dived into the slop, just as he was doing now with the
pasta. Feeling nauseous from the memory he spat out the half chewed
morsels and pushed away from the table.

Looking up he noticed Deanna, just as green. “These memory flashbacks
really suck.” He managed cautiously as his stomach expanded and groaned
of its internal punishment.

“Maybe you just need to slow down and rest it off.” Deanna hinted,
shutting off her empathy to quell her own nausea brought on by Will’s
panic and disgust. “Here, lets get you settled somewhere comfortable.”
She suggested as her petit fingers drew him up and forward towards the

“Maybe some light music?” He suggested as they slowly moulded into one
another’s arms. The soft sheets and mattress enslaving them in it’s
inviting embrace. “Computer. Some Junior Mance please, to soothe the

“To soothe both our souls.” Deanna murmured as she snuggled into the
hollow under his chin. Will smiled in elation as the music surged
around them in its rich heady tones and lively ivories.

“I played the bone every day.” He mused. “To cover the pain of missing

Deanna moved against his collarbone, leaving a trail of moist kisses.
“A devastating device to others in the wrong hands.” She teased. “But
beauty to me Imzadi.” Her breathing deepening as the music soon lulled
them both into a relaxed state.

Caught in the rich tones, his mind wandered, almost missing her words
as they rose in whispered tones of slumber. “Hold me closer Will, don’t
leave me.” Her heart soaring to rise with his.

Blinking away dear tears, Will pulled her closer and whispered thanks
to the cosmos, before immersing his heavy head back to the pillow,
wife-to-be in hand.

“I promise to hold cherish and love you forever Imzadi, I always will.”
He whispered into her fragrant hair. Inhaling deeply before his own
eyes grew heavy with the wonderful burden of life and love.

The End…or is it?

Continued on page 337 of A Time to Heal