Where Have You Gone

By Shasta

DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns them. No infringement is intended or profit gained.
SETTING: In a future where some of the events in and before Nemesis were slightly altered.

Where Have You Gone

William T. Riker stepped out onto the porch of his Alaskan home. He took a deep breath of fresh air, and sat on an old wooden rocker, drink in hand. This had been his ritual for years. It still amazed him how nice it was to actually sit around and do nothing after all the time he spent running through space.

His house was out in the middle of nowhere, perfect for the life-long bachelor. Will watched the sun begin to dip behind the mountains in the distance. Another day of his life slipped away with nothing to show for it. No family. Just him and whatever wildlife lived in the woods behind his small cabin.

It wasn’t always that way for him. Jean-Luc and Beverly dropped in occasionally, as well as a few other friends from the Enterprise and the Titan. Deanna was the only one of his family from the Enterprise that never stopped by. In fact, he didn’t know if she even knew where he was. Nor did he really care, or that’s what he had convinced himself.

For the first time since he had left the Titan, Riker thought back to the events that led him to his current spot in the universe.

It all started soon after the Enterprise left the Baku home world. Things had been going so well, or so it seemed. Will and Deanna had once again become lovers. They even made wedding plans to finally set things right.

When their wedding day came, Will stood by the altar and waited to see the love of his life. He couldn’t wait to see her in the lovely pink dress that they’d picked out together. Hell, he couldn’t wait to see her out of the dress, for that matter!

Deanna never came. She left without a word.

Will tried desperately to find her, to no avail. He had no doubt that her status as being a Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed helped with that. In fact, Lwaxana finally told him to quit looking for her, that it was a hopeless endeavor.

He finally took the hint and left his quest to find Deanna. When the time came for him to take command of the Titan, he took it, thinking that would help him move on. It wasn’t but a few years into his tenure on that ship that Will decided that life in Starfleet was no longer appealing.

So, he went home to Alaska, where there was still plenty of open land to hide away in. He could lose himself in the woods and mountains, and no one could ever find him. That had been at least fifteen years ago.

Will took a long draught from his glass and placed it beside the chair. He continued to take in the endless beauty of his mountain home. A rustling sound coming from the woods caused him to stop and take notice. He watched to see what would reveal itself from the thick forest. Maybe an elk or moose would come out. Will always liked watching them.

He was somewhat surprised to see a humanoid figure make his way out of the trees. Will rolled his eyes, and began to walk back inside. Every once in a while, someone found him, wanting to hear stories of his days aboard the Enterprise. "The good ol’ days," as they’d put it.

He reached for the door, when the young man called to him.

"Captain Riker?"

Will stopped. Something about the kid’s voice caught him. He turned toward his visitor. "Sorry, son, you’ve got the wrong guy. This Riker fellow you‘re looking for died years ago."

"Are you sure?" He asked. "I was told that he would be in this area, and very much alive." He leaned against the porch railing, and ran his hand through his dark wavy hair.

He sighed. "I’m hesitant to ask, but who told you that crock?"

"Well, let’s just say I have my sources."

"That’s about right." Will took a good look at the young man in front of him. There was still something . . . well, it was no matter. "I’m really very sorry. I don’t have a clue to the whereabouts of Riker. So, please, just be on your way."

"I would sir, but I’m here for a very important reason--"

He narrowed his eyes. "Take a hike, kid. I’m too old for ‘important reasons’ much less anything else."

The young man was silent for a moment. "I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to play this card, but here it is." His steely glare met with Will’s. "It’s about your Imzadi."

Will tried to keep his face straight. "I have no idea what you’re talking about." He started into the cabin again, and saw the other close his dark blue eyes.

~Yes, you do, Dad.~

Will fell back against the doorframe, surprised at hearing the voice in his head. He stumbled as he found the rocker, and sat down hard. "What? How did--? Who are you?"

"My name is Dhani Troi Riker."

"That’s impossible." He glared at Dhani. "Deanna and I didn’t have a child."

He flashed a brilliant white smile at Will. "Well, you weren’t supposed to find out for awhile yet."

"Then how in the hell do you expect me to believe you, Dhani?" He stood again. "Listen, son, get to your point, and make it fast. I have little patience for such nonsense."

The young man pulled off his backpack and took out a few things. "This should help a bit," he said, and handed a PADD to Will. "I turned eighteen a few months ago, and this is what Mom gave me."

Will looked at the PADD. There was a letter to Dhani followed by several pictures of him and Deanna together.

To Dhani, my son,

You’ve grown up into such a handsome young man.
I’ve enjoyed watching you as you’ve grown, and I’ve loved
you more with each passing day. I promised you a very long
time ago that when the time was right, I’d tell you who your
father is.

I’m sure you remember the stories I’ve told you about
my Imzadi, and he is your father. His name is William Riker.
I can’t tell you how much you remind me of him. Your smile,
your charisma, everything about you is connected to him in
some way. Even your eyes are the same as his, though, yours
are much darker. There is so much more, but I thought that
you may want to find that out on your own.

I hope you find the information that I’ve collected for
you to be of some use, but I will let that be your own decision.
There are also some pictures here that I thought you’d like
to see. I’m sure you will be able to tell where you got your
good looks from!

Dhani, please realize that Will knows nothing about
you, either. I made sure of that many years ago. More than
likely, he will be angry, but not at you. After all, I was the one
who left. Just be patient. I’m sure you will know what to do
when or if that time comes.

If you do decide to find Will, I’m sure you will find a
good friend and a great father in him.


"Okay." Will tossed the PADD back to him. "Let’s say that I believe you. Why did you come here? I doubt you’re here to just talk, and we’re both past the age of playing catch."

He smiled as he watched his son laugh, and realized that Dhani did remind him a lot of himself and Deanna, too. Though, he was still unsure about the whole situation.

"Well, I would’ve come out eventually to meet you, but the main reason for my being here now is that Mom is sick." His gaze went to the ground. "They believe that nothing can be done for her. In fact, the docs aren’t real sure what’s wrong." He looked back up to Will. "She has told me so much about you, and I think that if you were with her now, maybe there would be a chance that she’d get well."

He shook his head. "Dhani, your mother had her chance to be with me almost twenty years ago." He paused for a moment. "And you say that you’re eighteen?"


That coincided with their time together before the wedding. It was all starting to make some sense. Will looked up to the sky. "Come inside. It’s getting dark out, and I’d hate for you to tangle with that grizzly that I’ve seen poking about lately."

He opened the door, then turned back to his son. "Bring in some wood for the fire, too."

Dhani nodded, "I think I can do that."

The two men stepped into Will’s sparsely furnished home. Will turned to Dhani. "Put the logs into the fireplace, and I’ll get the fire going in a moment."

"Alright," he said, and placed the wood into the pit. He then took his backpack off and placed it by the door.

Will came back in a few minutes with two steaming mugs. He placed them on the small table between the couch and recliner. "I hope you like coffee," he said, then turned to tend to the fireplace. It didn’t take long before the crackling sounds of fire were heard.

"Coffee’s fine. Thanks." He took the cup and sat on the couch.

Once a good blaze was going, Will sat in the recliner. He tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind except questions.

Dhani was the one to break the uncomfortable silence. "So, you like being alone out here?"

"Yeah, it suites me." Will stretched. He tried to ignore the one question that insisted to be answered, but it didn’t work. Finally, he gave in. "How bad is Deanna?"

His son set down his coffee and swallowed hard. "Not good at all. She keeps having unexplained dizzy spells and tremors. That’s been going on for almost a year now. It has only been in the past few weeks that the symptoms have gotten worse."

"So, you figured I could do something? What made you think that?"

Dhani sighed, and brought his hand through his hair again. "It wasn’t completely my idea. It was Mom’s physician, Beverly. She knows about you two, and Mom had told her about the letter that she’d given me. When Beverly found out, she told me that it was still my choice in the end, but she encouraged me to try and find you." His pleading eyes met with Will’s. "She said that you’ve helped each other out of things like this in the past."

"I’m still not sure about you, Dhani," Will said. "I mean, a stranger, claiming to be my son, comes out of nowhere, and expects me to just jump up and leave with him!" He shook his head. "All the name-dropping doesn’t help much either. You can look up that information anywhere."

He stood up, and glared at Will. "If you’re so damned unsure about me, why don’t you contact some people and find out? It’s not like I’m going to stop you! This isn’t the Will Riker I’ve always heard about."

"That’s because I’m not!" Will matched the younger man’s height. "There were many changes that happened to me when your mother left! Even if you are telling the truth, I’m not so sure if I’d go to help her. As for contacting to find out who you are, I think I will go do that right now."

He started for the comm unit in his bedroom, then turned back to Dhani. "Either way it goes, you can have the couch tonight. We’ll discuss everything else later."

"That’s fine by me, captain."

Will turned back around. "Smart ass," he muttered. He walked on to the comm unit, and contacted Beverly Picard.

After a few moments, her face came onscreen. She looked like she’d just awakened. "Will! Hello! How have you been?" The smile that she had faded as quickly as it came. "I take it that you have a visitor."

"Yeah," he said, "I’m sorry if I woke you, Beverly, but I just wanted to verify what I’ve been told by my . . . visitor."

A small smile made its way back. "That’s okay, Will, and yes, Dhani is your son."

He rubbed his hands over his face. "How long have you known? You and Jean-Luc have been out here several times! Why didn’t you tell me?"

Beverly held a hand up. "One, I didn’t know for sure about him until a few weeks ago. And two, even if I did know, what would you have done, Will? Run yourself to death trying to find Deanna again?"

"I can’t answer that." He sighed, and ran his hand through his short graying hair. "But what about Deanna? Dhani told me that she’s not doing well."

She looked away from Will. "She isn’t doing well. I can’t figure it out. Everything that I’ve tried has helped little, if any. The only hope left for her is if you come."

"That’s what I’ve been told. Why should I come?" He glared at Beverly. "My life ended when she left. I have never been able to have closure to that part of my life because she couldn’t, no, wouldn’t be found. I still have no idea why." Will paused for a moment. He smirked, and continued. "Why should I come and ease her pain, when she’s caused me so much? On top of all that, kept our son from me!"

Beverly took a deep breath, and answered him. "I can’t answer that, Will. What I can tell you is that if you don’t at least try to help her, you’ll be jeopardizing any chance of having a relationship with your son." Her eyes flashed with a glint of anger. "Sound familiar, Riker?"

Will never wavered from his glare at her. "Very. Thank you, Doctor. That will be all." He slammed his fist down onto the button that cut the communication. It was a while before he stopped staring at the screen. Then, it all started to sink in. That’s my son in the next room, and I’ve been an ass to him from the moment he walked in.

He rubbed his eyes, and returned to the living room.

When he entered, Dhani was stretched out on the couch. Will gave him a hearty slap on his shoulder. "You hungry?" He laughed, "Never mind, you’re eighteen, of course you are!"

Dhani had a questioning look for Will, with his sudden change in demeanor. "The question is, are you feeling okay?"

"I’m feeling a little better, actually," he answered. "Why don’t you come in here? I could use a little help."


"I’d cook, but I don’t have anything thawed at the moment." Will punched in some commands into his replicator. "Here are some dishes that I’ve programmed, though. Put them on the table, if you don’t mind."

"No problem." Dhani took the dishes as they materialized, and placed them onto the small table in what served as the dining area. "I take it that your talk with Beverly went well?"

"How did you know who it was?" He saw the knowing grin Dhani had. "Never mind it makes sense. The talk went just fine." Will said as he pulled a couple of glasses along with a bottle full of amber liquid from the cabinet. "And I think I owe you an apology."

He finished with setting the table, and sat down. "Don’t worry about it. You read the letter, so you know I expected it."

Will joined his son at the table and poured them each a drink. "Yeah, but what you don’t know is that I didn’t have a good relationship with my dad. Come to think of it, we never had any kind of relationship at all. I don’t want that to happen between us."

When both had fixed their plates, Will smiled and raised his glass. "To family?"

Dhani returned the smile and said, "Yeah, to family."

They downed their ales, and dug into their meals. Both were quiet through most of the meal, neither really knowing where to begin.

Will finally broke the silence. "How did you get here, Dhani? I mean, did you hike all the way out here?"

The young man smiled. "Well, I did hike a few kilometers to get here. I didn’t think you’d appreciate me just landing my shuttle on your doorstep."

"Good idea. That wouldn’t have set well with me." He stuffed another bite into his mouth. "So, tell me about yourself. Were you raised on Betazed?"

"Yes. Mom bought a house a few blocks from Grandmother." Dhani pushed away from the table to stretch. "And when she passed away a few years ago, we moved into the Troi mansion. I went to the same schools that Mom went to, and I’m starting at the University next year."

"That’s good," Will said, "What are you going into?"

"I haven’t really decided yet." He looked down, and played with the edge of the table. "I’d thought about going into psychology like Mom."

Will smiled at his son. "I’m sure she likes that idea." He stood and began picking up the dishes, and Dhani got up to help.

"She just said that she wanted me to find my own path."

"That sounds like Deanna." He placed the dishes into the recycler. Turning to face Dhani, he said, "So, what are we going to do now? Do I need to schedule a shuttle to pick us up in the morning?"

"Actually, I’ve already taken care of that." Dhani gave him a wide smile. "I knew you’d come around!"

He ran his hand over his gray beard. "Yeah, well, I’ll do what I can, and be there for her. I can’t guarantee anything else."

"That’s all that I’m asking, Dad."


Part 2

The next day, a small shuttle arrived in front of the cabin. Will was somewhat surprised to find it empty when he boarded. He heard Dhani come on behind him, and asked, "What’s this? It’s empty!"

"I know." Dhani answered, and patted Will on the shoulder. "I ordered the shuttle here by remote." He smiled at his father’s questioning look and held up a small device. "It’s a friend of mine’s. They let me borrow the shuttle so I could find you."

Will moved to the side. "Makes sense. So, you’re a pilot?"

"Yes." He answered. "I’ve been flying for almost five years now."

Will shook his head. "I find that a little hard to believe, but that doesn’t matter now, does it?" He laughed as he took a seat in the co-pilot’s chair. "I’m assuming we’re headed back to Betazed, right?"


"Well, let’s get this show on the road!" He punched in the flight path, and turned to his son. "She’s up and ready, captain."

Dhani checked over the readings before taking off. "Looks good. Off we go!"

The shuttle took off into orbit, and Will watched as his house got smaller and smaller. It had been a long time since he had left the small cabin that he’d made home.

Dhani glanced in the direction of his father‘s gaze. "I hope you’re not getting sentimental on me!"

"Nah," said Will, "it’s just been a long time that’s all."

"The trip is going to take a little over a day." He turned with a hopeful smile. "So, what do you want to talk about?"

"Well, I don’t know off hand." He brushed a hand through his hair. "I could tell you a little about me, but I don’t know what all your mom has already told you."

"Nothing real specific. She told me how the two of you met once. Also, that you worked together on the Enterprise." He looked over at Will. "At the time, I had no idea that you were my dad. Just that you were a good friend of Mom’s."

"Yeah, we stayed friends for too long, I guess."

Dhani smiled. "She said that you liked going to Risa."

"Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me," he laughed. "I haven’t been off-world in years. I’m sure Deanna would be proud that I’ve finally settled down."

"Actually, I think she’ll be happy to know that you’re still in the world of the living."

Will gave him a curious look. "Think so? Why is that?"

"Just intuition, that’s all."

* * * * *

Dhani landed the shuttle, and shook Will’s chair to wake him. "Dad, we’re here."

He opened his eyes and yawned. "I knew that."

"Sure you did," he laughed, "Come on, I’ll take you to Mom."

Stretching, he picked up the bag that held a few of his belongings. "Lead the way."

Dhani led him through the narrow streets, eventually stopping in front of the Troi mansion.

Will sighed when he saw the huge building, thinking of all the shattered promises and dreams that all started there. "Well? What are we waiting for?"

That question wasn’t quite out when the tall wooden doors opened, and Mr. Homn’s tall frame bowed and welcomed them into the home. Will turned to Dhani. "Homn is still here?"

"Yeah," he answered, "Mom didn’t think it would be right to let him go after all his years of service. I don’t think he really wanted to leave either."

Beverly came down the stairs. "Will, Dhani, it’s good to see you both!" She met with them, giving each a hug. "Deanna said that you two were here!"

"Beverly! What are you doing here?" Will asked. "How is she?"

"Still the same, I’m sorry to say." She patted his hand, then looked back and forth between the two. "I stayed with Deanna while Dhani was gone. There is hope, now that you’re here! She may pull out of this yet!"

"Well, it’s like I told my son." He glanced at Dhani. "I’ll do what I can."

Beverly smiled, "That sounds like the Will Riker that I used to know! She’s upstairs, waiting for you."

"Okay, thanks."

The two men walked up the long stairway, past what used to be Deanna’s room, and on to the master bedroom. Dhani paused by the door, and gave his dad a questioning look.

"I am as ready as I’ll ever be for this, son. Come on." Will entered the room. The sight that opened before him was nothing like he had expected. Everything was white. Deanna was sitting on her bed with her back propped against several large pillows. Her graying hair flowed over her shoulders in loose waves.

She smiled weakly as they entered the room. "Hello Will," she slowly turned toward her son, "Dhani."

Will stood only a few feet inside the door, while Dhani walked up to sit on the edge of his mother’s bed. He watched the two speak.

"Hi, Mom. How are you?" He leaned over and hugged her.

Her arms were shaking slightly as she returned the hug. "I’m fine, Dhani. I see that you found your father."

"Yeah," he shrugged, "I couldn’t have found him without your help." He held her hand for a moment. "I don’t mean to run off so soon, but I think you two have a lot to talk about. Besides, I’d like to see if Lana can meet me at the museum."

"That’s a good idea," she said, "tell her I said hi."

"I will." Dhani got up and walked toward the door.

Will flashed a wide smile to his son. "You didn’t tell me about Lana."

He blushed a little, and matched his dad’s expression. "Well, you didn’t ask." He turned, looking to his mother, then back to Will.

"Don’t worry." Will said, and placed a hand on Dhani’s shoulder. "She’ll be fine. We both will."

"Okay." He swaggered into the hallway. "I’ll be back in a few hours."

The door shut, and Will took a few steps closer to Deanna. He gazed at the floor for a moment, then sighed. "He seems to be a good kid."

She agreed. "He is very much his father’s son."

"Deanna, why did you keep him from me?" Will found her dark eyes and noticed the dark circles beneath them. "The part of you leaving me is trivial now. I just don’t understand why you’d allow your -- no, our -- son live without a father."

"Will, please, sit down and listen."

She patted on the bed, but he found a chair and moved it to the end of the bed, and sat down. "I’m listening."

"When you were offered the Titan, I knew I would be in second place again," she said. "I didn’t want to be put back into that position, so I left. I wanted to marry Will Riker, not Captain Riker."

Will stared at her, not believing.

Deanna took a slow breath before talking again. "I didn’t know until three days after I’d gone that I was pregnant." She sighed. "It all made sense then, all those crazy thoughts I’d had. I was very embarrassed for my foolish behavior. I couldn’t face you again after that, especially after you resigned from Starfleet." She met his eyes. "I had to keep Dhani a secret in order to stay hidden myself."

"Deanna, from the moment we got back together, you were always my first choice." He stood, and began pacing around the room. "I really wished that you had told me. We could’ve worked things out. I was ready to give anything for you."

"I know that, Will. I’m sorry, Im--" She reached for the sides of the bed, and started gasping for air as her body went into convulsions.

Will watched in horror. He came to his senses and called for Beverly, right as she ran into the bedroom. She glanced at her tricorder and quickly took a hypo from her pocket. It hissed against Deanna’s neck as Beverly turned to Will. "What happened?"

"I - I don’t know," he answered. "We were talking when she suddenly went into this. Is she going to be okay?" He looked down at Deanna, and touched her hair. It was just as soft as he remembered.

The doctor looked at the tricorder again. "I don’t know. We’re going to have to move her into a hospital now. I thought that I gave her a small enough dose to sedate her, but in her weakened state, it’s put her into a coma." She looked at Will. "There is nothing that any of us can do, but wait and see if she pulls through."

Will fell back into the chair, head in hands. "It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have come."

Beverly contacted the hospital, then put a comforting arm around his shoulders. "Will, it’s not your fault. This was going to happen eventually whether you came or not."

"I spurred it on! I was the one pressuring her for answers!"

"Yes, Will." She gently turned his head where he was looking at her. "Answers that she should have given you years ago."

Two medical technicians beamed in, and began getting Deanna ready for transport.

Will watched them work, and gave Beverly a questioning look.

"They’ve been expecting this. It’s all right."

One of the technicians spoke. "Dr. Picard, she’s ready for transport."

"Okay." She stood. "I’ll go with you." Then, back to Will, "I won’t be gone long."

"Wait." Will held up his hand and swallowed hard. "May I go?"

"Of course." Beverly nodded to the tech that spoke earlier.

He tapped his commbadge. "Five to beam back."

* * * * *

They materialized in a private hospital room. Will watched as the others made sure of Deanna’s well being.

After they made sure Deanna was stabilized and checked the monitors surrounding her, the techs left, leaving Will and Beverly to watch over her.

He took a deep breath and leaned over Deanna. "You know, it’s funny. All these years, I’ve wondered what I’d do, what I’d say, if I ever saw Deanna again." Shaking his head, he said, "I thought I’d never forgive her for leaving me." He caressed Deanna’s cheek. "Now that I’m here, I don’t know what to think."

"She never stopped loving you, Will." Beverly said as she stepped up beside him. "Over the years, I tried to get her to contact you, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Both of you are just so damn hardheaded." She smiled. "I’m glad that Dhani was willing to bring you here."

"Dhani!" Will straightened, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "He doesn’t know about Deanna!"

Beverly smiled. "I’m sure he does. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he showed up soon. They have some kind of bond between them, too. They always know when the other is hurt." She looked at her friend lying in the hospital bed, then back to Will. "I have go update her file. I shouldn’t be long."

Nodding, Will said, "That’s all right. Take all the time you need."

He heard the door close as Beverly left, and sat down on the edge of Deanna’s bed. Gazing at her placid features, he gave a bemused smile. "How many times have I found myself here, Deanna?" Will played with a lock of her hair. "How long has it been?"

The sound of the door opening brought him out of his reverie. He turned to see his son.

He stood across from Will. "How is she?"

"They have her stabilized for the moment. I still don’t know how I’m supposed to help her."

Will watched as Dhani knelt beside the bed and took his mother’s hand. Dhani closed his eyes in concentration, and spoke after a moment of silence.

"Mom’s happy that you’re here. Your presence is very calming for her." He took a deep breath and opened his eyes narrowly. "Can’t you tell? You’re still bonded."

"We are? How can you tell?" Will looked back and forth between the two. "I haven’t felt anything from Deanna since before she left me. I figured it was from the bond being broken."

Dhani closed his eyes again. "She says that both of you put up barriers since then to make it seem that way. The bond is very weak--" He fell back, breathing hard this time.

Will started over to help his son, but Dhani put up a hand to stop him. "It’s okay, Dad. Being one quarter Betazoid makes it more draining for me. I’ll be all right." He slowly got up and sat down in a nearby chair. "It’s kinda funny. Mom told me to ‘get out, and let you two talk.’ As soon as I catch my breath, I’ll go."

"Are you sure you’re going to be all right?"

"I’m sure! It’s not like this is the first time I’ve done anything like that!" He stood up and stretched. Rubbing his temples, he said, "I’m going to get something for this headache. You take care of her, okay?"

"You know I will."


Will smiled and shook his head as Dhani left. He remembered a few times when he acted in a similar fashion when it involved Deanna.

The door shut, and he sat there in the quiet room, looking at Deanna. No matter what had happened, there was still a part of him that loved her. The longer he gazed at her, the more natural it felt to be there. It was awhile before he spoke.

"They keep telling me that I can help you." Will took her small hand in his. "I don’t know what to do, Deanna. It’s been so long, I don‘t know if I can take down that wall that has separated us."

He held her hand close to his heart and caressed her cheek with his other hand. "I’ve missed you so much over the years. I want to help, but you’re going to have to help me find my way to you, Im-" He stopped before finishing the word. Will knew the moment that was said, there was no turning back. He didn’t know if he could open his heart and soul to Deanna again.

Choking down the surge of emotion that suddenly caught him, Will closed his eyes, and pushed away every doubt in his mind. He reached out to Deanna.


Almost instantly, he felt a slight tickle in his mind. Will remembered something of what Deanna tried to teach him those many years ago on when they first met. He concentrated solely on his love for Deanna, and let go of his body.

It wasn’t long before he found himself in the jungles of Betazed. He could hear the musical sound of Deanna’s laughter all around him.

He called out, "Deanna!"

There was some rustling sound not far from him, so he ran in that direction. "Deanna! Don’t make me come after you!" The laughter eventually got to Will, and he soon was laughing as he pursued her.

Everything seemed so new, so young. When he finally caught up with Deanna, it all started to make sense. She was sitting on a rock by a small stream, looking just like she did when he first met her.

He stopped and looked at his hands, then felt of his beardless face. "What is this?"

"This is how we remember each other," she said. "Even though many years have passed, this is the image we think of when the other is mentioned."

"Okay," he sat down beside her, and looked at his reflection in the pond. "I was so cocky back then."

"Yes, you were!" Deanna laughed and took his hand. "I’m glad you grew out of that."

A long moment passed before anything else was said.

Will finally turned to her. "Deanna, what’s wrong? As much as I’d like to stay here, I know that it isn’t real." He ran his fingers through her long hair. "Beverly and Dhani are convinced I can do something to end your suffering. Is that true?"

She stood and crossed her arms. "I think so. Listen for a moment."

He waited for her to continue. When she didn’t, he asked, "Listen to what?"

Deanna placed a finger on his lips. "Listen."

It was quiet for several minutes, and then he could hear what Deanna was talking about. He could hear Beverly’s voice.

"How long have they been like this?"

"I don’t know. I left a couple of hours ago. It’s a guess that this started soon after."

"Deanna’s vital signs are improving. We need to bring in another bed for Will before he collapses onto her."

"That would be a good idea. I think they need to stay in physical contact, though. Their bond is very weak . . ."

The voices faded, and Will spoke. "Is that what caused your illness? The Imzadi bond?"

"In a way," she said, "It has lain dormant for so long, that it eventually began to ‘backfire,’ if you will, against my paracortex, which explains the symptoms I’ve had."

"How do you know all this, if the doctors haven’t been able to figure it out?"

"They do know." She admitted, and took his hand. "I just didn’t want anyone else to."

"What about Dhani?"

"He knows now. I told Beverly to tell him if I should fall into a coma." Deanna smiled, "I think that’s why she convinced him to find you. So, that this wouldn‘t happen."

Will stroked his chin as he thought. "Why haven’t I been affected?"

"Because I was the one to initiate the bond." She sighed, "If you were naturally empathic or telepathic, you would’ve been affected as well."

"I see." He stood up and offered a hand to her. "What do we need to do?"

Deanna took his hand. "I’ll show you."

She led him through the jungle, and it eventually gave way to a clearing. Will’s eyes widened at the scene before him.

Next to the beauty of the jungle, it looked as if a bomb, or possibly a fire, had completely destroyed everything in front of them. In the center of the destruction was a broken tower. It was obvious that at one time, it was tall enough to disappear into the sky above.

Will stared in awe of the tower. "Is that it?" He asked.


"It needs to be repaired, obviously." Turning to face Deanna, he asked, "How can we rebuild it?"

"One piece at a time."

He gave her a slightly perturbed look before stepping up to the job ahead of them. "How ironic."

Deanna strode up beside him to help lift a large segment of the tower. Together, the piece lifted easily, and they placed it onto a remnant that was still standing. The broken edges glowed and healed along the sides that touched.

They went out to gather another portion, and when they touched it, all of the strewn rubble around began to glow brightly. Very slowly, the pieces floated off of the ground and toward the bond. Like a huge puzzle assembling itself, the pieces came together, and soon the structure was rebuilt.

~How is that?~ For the first time in years, Will could hear and feel Deanna inside him.

He smiled and hugged her. ~Better. Much better.~

* * * * *

Will took a deep breath as he opened his eyes. Dhani was standing over him. In a raspy voice, he asked, "How long?"

Dhani answered, "Almost twelve hours."


Beverly answered this time. "Don’t worry, Will. She’s fine. Whatever you did worked! However, you need some rest. You’re exhausted."

He smiled weakly and laid his head back down. "Okay." He turned to see Deanna smiling back at him from her bed. "Imzadi."

She reached for his hand. "Imzadi."

Will took it, and brought it to his lips.

Dhani smiled at their display of affection. "Everything is as it should be now?" He asked.

They answered in unison. "Yes."